Terrorism and the militia obligation

Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, “Militia: composition and classes” reads:

“(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are —

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

That is, all males of military age who are or intend to become citizens of the United States are under federal statute the “unorganized militia”, and have the duty of the militia to defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic (as both naturalizing citizens and members of the armed forces swear to do).

This is always worth remembering, but never more than when prompt and violent action by civilians has recently prevented the murder by bombing of an entire planeload of passengers, as occurred on December 25th 2009 on Northwest flight 253.

The police and military cannot be everywhere, and any society in which they could be would not be fit to live in. They weren’t there when Umar Farouk Abdulmutalib tried to set off his bomb. The passengers who responded proved once again that the militia obligation is more relevant than ever in an age of asymmetric warfare and terrorism.

In january 2008 the Supreme Court affirmed that the individual right to bear arms is guaranteed to individual citizens of the United States under the Second Amendment of the Contitution. The first sentence of that Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. The court recognized that “well-regulated” in that clause is often misunderstood; it means “well-drilled” or “well-trained”, as we say a clock is regulated. The court also recognized that the “Militia” of the Second Amendment includes — indeed, primarily refers to — the unorganized militia. That is, the entire citizenry; the nation in arms.

The clear message of flight 253 is the same one conveyed by Todd Beemer and the heroes of Flight 93 on the day of 9/11. Citizens need to be physically, mentally, and morally equipped to fulfill their obligation as members of the unorganized militia. The eternal vigilance of a nation in arms is both our last and our first defense against enemies foreign and domestic.

And yes, by “in arms” I mean armed. The men who wrote the Second Amendment into the Constitution understood that when our enemies come to subdue and destroy us, they will not be trying it on with stuffed toys, candyfloss, and uplifting affirmations. They will attack us with instruments of force, and we will need to be “well-regulated” — better at using the instruments of force — to stop them.

Flight 253 reminds us once again that “we” is not and cannot be just the police and the military. Every member of the unorganized militia shares that obligation, every minute of every day.

Accordingly, I have this to say to all American citizens: Train yourselves. Arm yourselves. Prepare yourselves mentally and morally. You may pray that the moment never comes when your duty requires you to use violence against enemies foreign and domestic; but under the Constitution, the law, and the custom of the United States that is your duty. Be ready to meet it.

244 thoughts on “Terrorism and the militia obligation

  1. Train yourselves. Arm yourselves. Prepare yourselves mentally and morally.

    Damn right.

    That last part is especially important.

    Proficiency with firearms is relatively easy to acquire, but the will to use deadly force can present a more significant hurdle for some.

    Putting holes in paper is light-years removed from putting holes in flesh & bone.

  2. One positive step that’s come out of 9/11 is that the reaction that occurred on flight 253 now seems to be the norm. In his time, Tod Beemer was an incredible hero. Since then, this is at least the second bombing attempt foiled by self-defense on the part of the intended victims (Richard Reid was the first, and there may be others that I’m forgetting). So, it seems that the lesson Beemer had to teach us has in fact been learned. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t seem to yet have been generalized beyond airplanes. Beemer’s lesson wasn’t enough to prevent most of the Viriginia Tech victims from lining up like sheep.

  3. Beemer’s lesson wasn’t enough to prevent most of the Viriginia Tech victims from lining up like sheep.

    I understand what you’re getting at here, but that’s a tad unfair.

    ESR’s call to arms, and the lessons of flight 93, Beemer etc are shared among adults….and the adult population is hopefully seeing sense.

    The VT victims were intentionally rendered helpless by sociopathic indoctrination and regulation. They were, and still are, infantilized down to the brain-dead level of docile sheep. Sure, even though they were forcibly disarmed by VT, they could have fought tooth and claw….but they have been mentally conditioned – by perverse cretins that are happy to toy wih others’ lives (and feel noble doing so) – to meekly accept their fate.

    If a child of mine had been killed by Cho, I swear the VT administration would be in the ground. Evil, twisted people.

  4. Speaking of VT, haven’t several schools seen student initiatives to abolish “no guns” policies on campus? I seem to recall several news stories about that over the last year or so.

  5. >ESR’s call to arms, and the lessons of flight 93, Beemer etc are shared among adults

    The males among the VT victims were 17 or older. They were, thus, members of the militia under USC 10:311. They indeed had a constitutional and statutory duty, which they failed.

  6. I’ve often wondered if mandatory military service would be an overall boon to our society. At the very least, it would instruct everyone in basic applications of deadly force, and might even supply them with insights into the grim political realities of the world. I doubt highly that the “Tranzi (I do like this word)” didactic of multiculturalism would hold as much water for students who had recently been deployed to Sudan or Iraq, and had witnessed the real human costs of certain “diverse cultures.”

    On the other hand, broad military conscription troubles me for a number of reasons. The law of unintended consequences looms pretty large, and I’m not sure if the model of the “citizen-soldier” can actually hold up in our current age. We aren’t in a Renaissance; I think we are experiencing a sort of gadget-laden Dark Ages. What good is an armed and deadly populace when we cannot even marginally agree on what “truth” is?

  7. I’m unsure about this issue.

    It’s not that I don’t agree with the post in principal.

    The thing is, is that I’m exposed to dumb people everyday. By dumb people, I don’t mean generally smart people whose opinion I disagree with. I mean people who are literally dumb. With ideas that they pick up from TV shows, or their preacher, or their friend Joe Bob the idiot. I would be literally afraid for my life if these people had guns. I think these people would accidentally shoot me in the head when they were showing their drinking buddy their chromed shotgun.

  8. >What good is an armed and deadly populace when we cannot even marginally agree on what “truth” is?

    We can agree that when someone tries to set off a bomb in the airplane we are riding, we should shoot him.

    Threats of lethal violence are not usually morally complicated or ambiguous phenomena. We don’t have to agree on a whole lot to shoot people who are offering them. Yes, there are edge cases, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of non-edge cases that an armed civilian can address – and should.

  9. >Beemer’s lesson wasn’t enough to prevent most of the Viriginia Tech victims from lining up like sheep.

    Did you even bother investigating the basic facts before you open your ignorant trap? Most of the victims in the second series of shootings were shot without warning in two rooms that were close together. In several other rooms people died barricading the door so others could escape. One professor died after locking his students in a room and then leaving to help others. They were hardly ‘lining up like sheep’. Of course, throwing your life down in such a way is anathema to gun-toting cowards such as yourself.

  10. > The thing is, is that I’m exposed to dumb people everyday.

    It’s a good point. I think maybe the solution is to win the cultural war first, and the battleground has already been defined by the bad guys. I mean, let’s suppose it’s true that much of the damage actually *is* leftover from old Cold War memetic bombs. So what? That doesn’t mean it’s time to huddle in the bunker. It means it’s time to break out the memetic cannonade and return fire. It’s one thing to have science and history on your side. When the population has been dumbed down to the point they can’t process these truths, maybe it’s time to temporarily switch tactics. As sad as I am to say it, I’d much rather have the arts, Hollywood and pop culture on my side right now than historians, scientists and special forces commandos. The continental army needs Tommy Paine more then it needs Hank Knox at the moment.

  11. Just a thought for y’all, and before I start let me make it clear that I am a strong advocate of the position that Eric is putting forward (though I think it should be generalized to include women too), a passionate believer in the right of all decent people to keep and bear small arms, and a pretty good shot with a handgun.

    However, I believe that the constitution should be interpreted with regards to its original intent, and the plain meaning of the words as they were when they were written. “Well regulated” and “militia”, “establishment” being examples of such words. However, surely the same applies to the word “arms.” What Madison envisioned when he penned the words did not encompass semi automatic rifles, or bazookas. I think the legal argument saying the 2nd amendment overrides bans on “assault weapons” doesn’t hold much water. “Assault weapons” (by whatever definition you might give) have little in common with smooth bore single shot, non cartridge round muskets. I think a strong case can be made that they are not “arms” as Madison would think of them, but something quite different, evne though the modern word “arms” certainly includes them (along with tanks and nuclear weapons.)

    Not that I am in favor of banning “assault weapons”. I am just saying I don’t think the constitutional argument holds much water. If you allow the definition of words to slip into modern meanings, vague penumbra or emanations rather than sticking with the original meanings, you end up with people saying that lethal injection is cruel and unusual, despite the fact that by the plain (and original) meaning of the words, lethal injection is neither cruel nor unusual. (And, FWIW, I think lethal injection is a bizarre and stupid way to execute criminals.) And you end up with stupid claims that the constitution bans Christmas trees on public property, or that it ensures a woman’s right to an abortion (though, apparently, not a man’s right to an abortion.)

    Regardless of what you think the right policy is on these various things, all who would limit government must be passionate advocates of demanding they stay within their legally defined boundaries of operation, and that means not allowing extrapolations of meanings, even when the extrapolations are in your favor.

  12. >We can agree that when someone tries to set off a bomb in the airplane we are riding, we should shoot him.

    What about if some idiot thinks shooting at cans with my daughters bedroom on the other side is a good idea? I run into a lot more idiots than I do terrorists.

  13. > We can agree that when someone tries to set off a bomb in the airplane we are riding, we should shoot him.

    Yes. Absolutely. Frankly, I’m shocked he made it off the plane in one piece. The man was trying to turn himself into a living bomb, I would assume that every moment he drew breath would constitute a present danger.

    > Threats of lethal violence are not morally complicated or ambiguous phenomena. We don’t have to agree on a whole lot to shoot people who are offering them.

    Yes, that’s true too. It’s just the tactical situation inside a small, volatile environment like an airborne plane seems to favor the offender more than the righteously armed populace. Collateral damage or even catastrophe seems more likely if everyone has the same idea to fire at once. No such thing as a skirmish line at 30,000 feet.

    But that said, it’s only the mechanics of the situation I have a problem with. I’m in full agreement on VT. Those lambs were sent to slaughter, and even a minimally armed and trained civilian force could have taken the shooter down.

  14. >However, surely the same applies to the word “arms.”

    Isn’t the original intention to level the playing field? If so, then assault weapons would be included in “arms”.

  15. >Of course, throwing your life down in such a way is anathema to gun-toting cowards such as yourself.

    The correct objective in such situations is not to die nobly but to eliminate the threat to others. You are not entitled to presume that anyone wearing a weapon and training to meet this sort of situation is a coward, and you demean not the weapon-bearer but yourself when you do so.

  16. @Jessica Boxer:

    Note that private ownership of Field Artillery and Warships was, if not common, accepted when the Second Ammendment was written. If you accept the original intent then the public should be allowed to purchase any and all military equipment (up to including Strategic Bombers and Aircraft Carriers) rather than merely small arms as they are today.

    The argument you offer invalidates the point you’re making quite conclusively.

  17. Jessica, I hear you. But just because the arms of the time weren’t proportional in firepower to modern assault weapons, that doesn’t mean that the founders were only thinking of “smooth bore single shot, non cartridge round muskets.” If so, why didn’t they say that? They were not ignorant of the evolution of personal weaponry over the course of human history. For instance, while their muskets may be primitive by our standards, but were far superior to those of the previous century, not too mention all manner of blades and blunt instruments that had come before. Muskets were “state-of-the-art” at the time. But, that’s beside the point. They didn’t say “muskets.” They said “arms.” That’s not a penumbra. That is plain and foundational.

  18. >Not that I am in favor of banning “assault weapons”. I am just saying I don’t think the constitutional argument holds much water.

    One purpose of the Second Amendment was to make the citizen militia a credible counterforce to a standing professional army. Thus, the “arms” encompassed in it include those of military line troops. in fact one of the few Supreme Court cases touching the Second Amendment before Heller, the 1939 Miller case, turned on this exact point. In that case, possession of sawed-off shotguns was held to be unprotected precisely because they were not military-grade weapons.

    In fact, the Constitutional argument for protecting possession of assault rifles is not just strong; after Heller it is pretty much, er, bulletproof.

  19. # Dustin Says:
    > Isn’t the original intention to level the playing field? If so, then assault
    > weapons would be included in “arms”.

    Perhaps I should clarify. When I say “original intent”, I mean the original intended meaning of the words themselves, not the broader intent of the amendment. One does not need to read the minds of the departed dead to understand what their writings meant, even though the thoughts of their hearts might be lost forever. I don’t remember the words “level playing field” occurring in the text. It is the words themselves that place fences around the actions of our government, the broader intent, which was not written, is far to open to interpretation to ever be able to limit the actions of the earnest politician or the megalomaniac civil servant.

    For example, the original intent of parts of the first amendment was to prevent the establishment of the Anglican Church as the national church of the United States. However, the original words still prevent Buddhism from becoming the national religion of the United States.

  20. > Perhaps I should clarify. When I say “original intent”, I mean the original intended meaning of the words themselves, not the broader intent of the amendment.

    Okay, but the original text did not say “Right to bear smooth bore, single shot, non cartridge round muskets.”

  21. > One purpose of the Second Amendment was to make the citizen militia a credible counterforce to a standing professional army.

    The maxim works in the microcosm of law enforcement too. I recall that during the L.A. bank heist of ’97, the LAPD had to actually borrow superior firepower from a private gun dealership to combat a force of TWO well trained and equipped individuals. Having the best available offensive and defensive instruments is the entire point of a militia. If the language of law said “right to bear swords”, it would just be an antiquated ceremonial protection, rather than the living document that the founders intended. Or, to put it another way, you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

  22. I like the idea of a citizen militia. I like the idea of everyone being armed and trained to protect their family, their neighborhood and their country.

    But then, I take a look around me. I take a look at the majority of my fellow Americans and I shudder. Sure, we could all agree to stop the Underpants bomber, the Shoe Bomber, the Crazy Military psychologist etc… but there are many citizens who see the guy that voted for Obama as equally evil and equally deserving of death. The person who would like to see Universal Healthcare gets labeled a communist and those who yell the loudest for their guns, seem ready to use them on their fellow Americans.

    I’m all for arming the population, but in the current state of the US I think we might risk decimating the population. Now, once people get the ‘crazy’ under control, maybe arming everyone is a great idea. Until then, I don’t want the guys that think “One nation under God” is in the Preamble to the Constitution to be armed and think they’re ‘defending’ the constitution by shooting atheists, abortion doctors, AGW alarmists and random liberals. Likewise, I don’t want to see a slick group of Leftists mow down a bunch of good old boys, because they voted for GWB.

    Maybe it’s just Ohio, but if the Founding Fathers saw the US I see… I think they’d hand it back to George with apologies and a note that says “Oh, now we see why you went Mad!!!”

  23. And you end up with stupid claims that the constitution bans Christmas trees on public property, or that it ensures a woman’s right to an abortion (though, apparently, not a man’s right to an abortion.)

    Banning Christmas trees on public property is stupid. A Christmas tree is a secular maifestation of an ancient pagan Yule tradition.

    As for abortion, the right of a woman to decide whether she will get pregnant — indeed, whether it is even possible for her to go through the process of bearing and rearing a child — predates history and is generally considered by civilized society to be inviolate, and hence, protected by the Ninth Amendment under U.S. law.

  24. I’m all for arming the population, but in the current state of the US I think we might risk decimating the population.

    Two words suffice to put the lie to the notion that idiots with guns shooting random strangers is a nonexistent or manageable problem: Dick Cheney.

  25. >Two words suffice to put the lie to the notion that idiots with guns shooting random strangers is a nonexistent or manageable problem: Dick Cheney.

    Dick Cheney was not a civilian. Feel free to cite him as a reason why politicians shouldn’t be armed, but his incompetence has nothing to do with my right to self-defense.

  26. I too am worried about the idiots, and this is clearly an overriding worry when you’re on a plane, given how few actual terrorists there are compared to the number of idiots. Imagine everyone on the plane is armed. Imagine that they prevent every single terrorism attempt (although this is unlikely since there are detonators which can be set off covertly).

    I guarantee we will have a 10,000% increase in planes going down due to idiots failing to empty the chamber of their gun, or overreacting to some perceived ‘threat’ (like the poor Nigerian man in the bathroom this week). I don’t know for certain how resilient a passenger jet is to small arms fire, but I suspect that it’s a major problem if a window or fuel tank is breached. Not to mention that it would be hard to set off a gun on a jumbo jet without hitting someone.

    What happens if a drunk or stupid passenger becomes belligerent, as is often the case, and needs to be forcibly restrained or removed from the plane? On terra firma, it wouldn’t matter if the belligerent person had a gun. You would have to police officers with guns, and faced with superior force you would, one way or another, arrest him, and it wouldn’t be a disaster if someone’s gun had to be used. On a plane, you don’t want to be firing your gun at all.

  27. Jeff Read said:
    > As for abortion, the right of a woman to decide whether she will get pregnant … predates history and is generally considered by civilized society to be inviolate, and hence, protected by the Ninth Amendment under U.S. law.

    If it “predates history”, then how do you know about it? And, even if it’s marginally supported by anthropological evidence… well, hell, evidence of human sacrifice also “predates history.” So what?

  28. I’m shocked he made it off the plane in one piece.

    That’s a testament to the mercy of the people he tried to kill. Kudos to them, although I’m not sure I would have shown their level of restraint.

  29. I don’t know for certain how resilient a passenger jet is to small arms fire, but I suspect that it’s a major problem if a window or fuel tank is breached.

    Don’t believe everything you see in hollywood thrillers. Take a look at some gun camera footage from world war two. Even the Mitsubishi Zero, a notoriously flimsy aircraft, takes quite a few rounds from a much heavier-caliber weapon than you’d be carrying in your hand before it catches fire.

  30. > That’s a testament to the mercy of the people he tried to kill. Kudos to them, although I’m not sure I would have shown their level of restraint.

    I don’t know if it was a testament to their “mercy” necessarily. I wasn’t there. I’ll assume most of those people didn’t wake up on Christmas morning thinking that they might have to kill a man. It would be possible to at least incapacitate him by breaking his limbs, which I’d think would be minimum acceptable force. You don’t want a guy like that moving his arms and legs.

  31. If it “predates history”, then how do you know about it? And, even if it’s marginally supported by anthropological evidence… well, hell, evidence of human sacrifice also “predates history.” So what?

    I’m pretty sure what he’s saying there is that the right to abortion grows out of the universally uncontested right of a woman to prevent pregnancy by refusing to have sex. Is that what you’re attacking?

  32. Some Guy said:
    > Don’t believe everything you see in hollywood thrillers. Take a look at some gun camera footage from world war two. Even the Mitsubishi Zero, a notoriously flimsy aircraft, takes quite a few rounds from a much heavier-caliber weapon than you’d be carrying in your hand before it catches fire.

    It’s not a “Hollywood thriller” scenario. It’s just a matter of a real tactical problem. An uncoordinated barrage of gunfire in that sort of confined space has a lot of margin for error. I’m for armed air marshalls, or even for private industry’s right to set their own guidelines for firearm regulation. That said, as a consumer I am more likely to on fly the “air marshall” line then the “everyone is armed to the teeth” line. That might be a very tense flight.

  33. >The correct objective in such situations is not to die nobly but to eliminate the threat to others. You are not entitled to presume that anyone wearing a weapon and training to meet this sort of situation is a coward, and you demean not the weapon-bearer but yourself when you do so.

    If you have a gun, you should obviously shoot him. If you’re near to him and there are enough people, the correct collective action would be to mob him. However, for that to work people need to know they’re going to be backed up. Given that these guys were in the middle of class, they were probably taken completely by surprise. For the people in the remaining rooms, who had no weapons and a means of escape, the smart thing to do was barricade the door while most people got out. Indeed, it was done, and a few were able to trade their lives for the lives of numerous other people. Just because it doesn’t fit into your John Wayne fantasy does not mean they were ‘lining up like sheep’. What a parody of courage you seem to aspire to.

  34. Tom Dickson-Hunt said:
    > I’m pretty sure what he’s saying there is that the right to abortion grows out of the universally uncontested right of a woman to prevent pregnancy by refusing to have sex. Is that what you’re attacking?

    Who said that female refusal of sex is a “universally uncontested right.” I haveseen Jeff Read carry water for “diverse cultures” which – here in the 21st century – deny such a right exists. After all, by his criteria we are to sheepishly accept such practices as arranged marriages, shunning of rape victims, honor killings and female circumcision as morally equivalent to the post-Enlightenment ideals of the West, all of which are contrary by nature to female sexual consent.

  35. I said:
    > After all, by his criteria we are to sheepishly accept such practices as arranged marriages, shunning of rape victims, honor killings and female circumcision as morally equivalent to the post-Enlightenment ideals of the West, all of which are contrary by nature to female sexual consent.

    Err… that was an awkwardly worded sentence. Obviously, what I meant was “arranged marriages, shunning of rape victims, honor killings and female circumcision” are contrary to female sexual consent (not “Post-Enlightenment Western ideals”).

    To a larger degree, female negation is still rampant in many parts of the world that pseudo-liberals like to pretend are morally neutral pluralities, as an be seen even in more banal cultural practices, like the enforcement of the burqa.

    Jeff Read pretends to a sort of liberalism that seems more like a calculated cultural retreat. I’m more of a capital “L” sort of Liberal, in the sense that I can still recognize the sorts of things human beings ought to be liberated from.

  36. This reminds me of one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on TV. Archie Bunker’s solution to prevent airline hijackings:

    “Awm all ya’ passenjah’s!! Just pass the guns out at the beginnin’ o’ the trip, an’ collect ‘em all at the end.”

    ESR says: A far more sensible and appropriate policy than the TSA’s actual rules.

  37. Napolitano is on the airwaves now talking about “context” in regards to her remarks that “everything worked smoothly…” Sounds eerily familiar.

    A Nigerian muslim on the terror watchlist boards a plane in Amsterdam with no passport, after buying his one-way ticket in cash. I wonder what the “context” would have been if the bomb did not misfire?

    I also wonder when the fourth estate will take the kid gloves off with some of the ludicrous czars this administration has appointed.

  38. Some Guy: Don’t believe everything you see in hollywood thrillers. Take a look at some gun camera footage from world war two. Even the Mitsubishi Zero, a notoriously flimsy aircraft, takes quite a few rounds from a much heavier-caliber weapon than you’d be carrying in your hand before it catches fire.

    Err, Zero’s weren’t pressurized. At 40K ft it’s a whole different ball game.

    Other commenters are correct that there are a lot of things in a plane (and not just the fuel tanks) that don’t take well to projectiles. Pressurized canisters of O2, hydrolic line, electical wiring, and the bulkheads to which the plane’s skin is fastened are just a few examples of things that can fail catastrophically if hit by a bullet (or a ball bearing from a terrorist BTW). The dangers of a person using a firearm on a modern commercial aircraft without appropriate training (above and beyond basic safety training) is far greater to the public than the threats from terrorists (at least for now). But knives are a reasonable alternative :^).

    BTW, it would be interesting if some right-leaning politician in a dark red, pull-my-gun-from-my-cold-dead-fingers state like my beloved Texas were to propose a requirement for every high school senior to complete 20 hours of fire arms safety training, including qualifying with a rifle and a handgun before being eligible to graduate. This helps prevent stupid mistakes from killing people (“Don’t worry it’s un-BANG!”) as well as teaches people to not have an unreasonable fear of weapons.

    I would include photos of gunshots to make sure they understand what’s going to happen when they pull the trigger, to help prepare them for the consequences of that action.

    Ideally there would be a companion course on “hunting safety”. I’d likely use Dick Chaney’s hunting party as an object lesson in this class of what NOT to do when you hunting with a group. This second class should include an hunting trip, including dressing what you shoot. This would serve to remind us that meat doesn’t just come from the store.

  39. So the lesson you take from flight 253 is that Umar Farouk Abdulmutalib should have been allowed to take a gun onto the plane?

  40. >Err, Zero’s weren’t pressurized. At 40K ft it’s a whole different ball game.

    Pressurization doesn’t make any difference in this context. Airframes are not balloons.

    In fact, there’s been enough history of shots fired on planes in actual terrorist incidents that we have a pretty good notion of what the risk profile is. There is no case on record in which we know or have plausible reason to believe that random small-arms fire took out a plane. This is a phony terror.

  41. # Jeff Read Says:
    > As for abortion, the right of a woman to decide whether she will
    > get pregnant .. predates history

    Hey, Jeff, I was wondering what planet you live on? It sounds nice there.

  42. The words “prima nocta” obviously don’t exist in Jeff’s little fantasy world. In fact, the inverse of his imaginary history is closer to the truth.

    Ahhh……the good old days….

  43. esr Says:
    > One purpose of the Second Amendment was to make the
    > citizen militia a credible counterforce to a standing professional
    > army.

    Do you support that for today (given that the basic idea of not having a standing army has disappeared with a little constitutional sleight of hand.) For example, are you in favor of crazy Buddhist bombers being able to buy a small nuclear device at the local 7/11? After all, to be a credible counter force to the US Army would require nuclear weapons. (Please understand that is an honest question, I am not trying to be facetious.)

    Again, my point is that the interpretive documents of the Federalist papers (which I imagine is your source for this statement) are not part of the law itself giving at best an unreliable context for the words that were written. If we are to limit our government by a written constitution we need to accept what it says based on the meaning of the words in the written document when they were actually said. Otherwise the general welfare clause might as well mean what they all say it means.

    When the words were said the word “arms” meant smooth bore muskets, not rifled, high precision automatic rifles with telescopic sights and grenade launchers. Frankly, I think it is a legitimate right for people to have appropriate small arms, and I agree that it is a duty to defend yourself and those near you. However, I am just not getting it as a legitimate interpretation of the constitution.

  44. They indeed had a constitutional and statutory duty, which they failed.

    The constitution does not exist to bind the people with obligations and duties, it exists to constrain the government.

    While I agree wholeheartedly with the overall thrust of your post, I draw the line at forcing such a duty on anyone. I have no right to be saved from violence, ergo nobody has a duty to save me.

    I think that the morality we share makes a clear proclamation about ourselves and our respect for our fellow man and our civilization in general. If a person should choose pacifism, and shun the combative use of arms (yes, there are pacifist hunters), they should not be surprised that I think less of them.

    From our perspective, yes the VT victims failed, but in fairness to their particular circumstances, I was highlighting that they had no choice and indeed had been born & raised & conditioned to fail in such a way. Their parents are likely similarly flawed, given the pathetic way they meekly rolled over for Kaine and his pantomime ‘investigation’. They lost the most valuable treasure in their lives, yet they sold out their dead kids for chump change and a promise not to sue.

    The VT failure was far deeper and more insidiously sociopathic than merely not fulfilling a militia duty.

  45. >Do you support that for today

    Yes. The existence of a standing army decreases one kind of utility of the unorganized militia; it no longer needs to be the main line of defense against threats by other nation-states. But it increases the importance of another Constitutional function, which is to serve as a counterpoise against the “organized” militia controlled by government.

    >After all, to be a credible counter force to the US Army would require nuclear weapons.

    If you’re another nation-state, perhaps (although even that is arguable). Not if you’re the nation in arms itself. The relevant purpose of civilian arms is to make suppressing the rights of free speech, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances into a bloody, dangerous, risky proposition. That doesn’t require nukes, just an armed population protective of those liberties.

    >However, I am just not getting it as a legitimate interpretation of the constitution.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court does get it.

  46. When the words were said the word “arms” meant smooth bore muskets, not rifled, high precision automatic rifles with telescopic sights and grenade launchers

    The word “arms” referred to all tools of force on the field of battle – clubs, knives, swords, pistols, musket & cannon. They were also cognizant of the abstract concept of arms, and had witnessed arms evolution first hand. I think the wording of the 2A embodies this understanding, and that your interpretation is ridiculous. Would you argue that the 1A only protects quills, woodcuts and printing presses? No….it protects “speech”, however delivered. Ditto “arms”.

    As for the usual ad absurdum of your “nukemart” challenge….yes…..the 2A protects my right to own a nuke. Having a right and being able to exercise it are two different things. My right to arms is tempered by the requirement that I be “well regulated”. I carry a handgun in a holster, not in my hand. What sound regulation do you think should apply to a nuke? Cerftainly security and launch protocols…compliance with whic would necessarily be rather expensive. Nukes themselves are expensive to make. Maybe Bill Gates could afford to buy and house one in a silo….but really they are the weapons of nation states….not something you pick up with your beer and doritos.

  47. >Who said that female refusal of sex is a “universally uncontested right.” I have seen Jeff Read carry water for “diverse cultures” which – here in the 21st century – deny such a right exists. After all, by his criteria we are to sheepishly accept such practices as arranged marriages, shunning of rape victims, honor killings and female circumcision as morally equivalent to the post-Enlightenment ideals of the West, all of which are contrary by nature to female sexual consent.

    Sorry. A right uncontested by civilized peoples. To the cultures that do not honor it, the appropriate response is as that of British officers banning the custom of sati in India:

    You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

  48. Dan said:
    > The word “arms” referred to all tools of force on the field of battle – clubs, knives, swords, pistols, musket & cannon. They were also cognizant of the abstract concept of arms, and had witnessed arms evolution first hand. I think the wording of the 2A embodies this understanding, and that your interpretation is ridiculous. Would you argue that the 1A only protects quills, woodcuts and printing presses? No….it protects “speech”, however delivered. Ditto “arms”.

    Yes, this is exactly what I am saying. Thy did not say “the right to bear muskets,” and if the (sometimes hapless) General Washington had access to M-16′s during the Battle of Brooklyn, I doubt that he would have advised the few non-Loyalists to set them aside in favor of muskets. The notion that the founders presumed some sort of technological stasis – in terms of arms or anything else – not only runs contrary to what we know of them (many of them were innovators in their own right), but also runs contrary to what we know of all humanity. All of the poorest arguments are based on rendering the Articles obsolete by virtue of historical particularity, when the authors were very satisfyingly vague on issues of medium, such as “arms” and “speech”.

  49. I have yet to hear a rebuttal of the “idiots with guns” concern. I want to hear a rebuttal, because if there was a solution to that problem, I would wholeheartedly approve of all sentiments expressed in this post.

  50. Tom Dickson-Hunt Said:
    > To the cultures that do not honor it, the appropriate response is as that of British officers banning the custom of sati in India

    Tom, you are referring to Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander in Chief of colonial India in the mid-19th century. And you are correct. Napier was and is the preferred model of “multiculturalism” when it pertains to the barbaric cultures and subcultures that have always infested mankind.

  51. > >Err, Zero’s weren’t pressurized. At 40K ft it’s a whole different ball game.

    > Pressurization doesn’t make any difference in this context. Airframes are not balloons.

    It’s a sad day when you have to point out that the Jamie Hyneman & Adam Savage did an entire television episode on exactly that & came to just your conclusion.

  52. Dustin said:
    > I have yet to hear a rebuttal of the “idiots with guns” concern.

    Well, idiots have cars, don’t they?

    Idiots also have the right to vote, which is a more powerful weapon then any ten carbines.

  53. I have yet to hear a rebuttal of the “idiots with guns” concern.
    Idiots have penises and vaginas, and still breed.

    What is being suggested by this demented objection, is that because a mankind is imperfect it must be castrated and declawed and shackled to a sufficient extent to obviate all risk to itself. Since the theoretical risk never disappears, the calls for more and more shackles continue without end.

    Few stop to wonder about the imperfect individuals making such decisions. Fewer still ask “who the fuck do you think you are, dictating what technology I utilize?”

    Consider this : even by conservative estimates, there is a firearm for every man, woman & child in this nation, present in approx half the homes, nominally owned by a third of the population. We burn through millions upon millions of rounds of ammo annually and yet the blood is not running down main street. We make huge use of firearms with great competence and restraint.

    The passage of numerous laws respecting our RKBA have been met with similar alarming nightmare scenarios. None come to pass. Ever. We are actually a rather peaceful people. With a greater armed presence in our civilian body, I would hope that the abberant sociopaths among us would be culled from the herd, or convinced of the unwise lifestyle they pursue.

  54. > Idiots also have the right to vote, which is a more powerful weapon then any ten carbines.

    Idiots with firearms tend to be self limiting, government not so much so. Personally I’ll take my chances with the gun idiots any day.

  55. >I have yet to hear a rebuttal of the “idiots with guns” concern.

    Here’s one. While firearms ownership rates have been increasing sharply since Obama’s election — presumptively putting more firearms into the hands of those idiots — crime has been dropping. Including gun crime.

    Even the Christian Science Monitor, which is a pretty reliable retailer of bien-pensant left-liberalism, has been unable to avoid noticing this juxtaposition. They retreat to claiming that there is no evidence that rising firearms rates actively suppress crime. This is false, but the fact that they are reduced to asserting it is telling.

    Evidently the idiots are pretty good at suppressing each others’ idiocy, at least where firearms are concerned.

  56. Dan Says:
    > They were also cognizant of the abstract concept of arms,

    There is a point when a quantitative difference becomes a qualitative difference. That is surely a very relevant fact here. A nuclear weapon is not just a big bomb, it is qualitatively different.

    > As for the usual ad absurdum of your “nukemart”
    > challenge….yes…..the 2A protects my right to own a
    > nuke.

    Does the Iranian Government have a right to own a nuclear weapon? It is hardly “ad absurdum” if it is a real issue of the day.

    > Having a right and being able to exercise it are two different things.

    Wow, that is quite a distinction. Isn’t the purpose of government to ensure that you may exercise the rights you have? I think some guy wrote that on the Fourth of July sometime ago. To be honest with you Dan I think neither you nor the Iranians have a right to a nuclear weapon simply because there comes a point where the rest of us say it is just too damn dangerous for you to have them.

  57. >The passage of numerous laws respecting our RKBA have been met with similar alarming nightmare scenarios. None come to pass. Ever. We are actually a rather peaceful people.

    Indeed. It has been noted that outside our five largest urban centers, our violent-crime rate is comparable to Switzerland’s.

  58. Sorry. A right uncontested by civilized peoples

    And when did these civilized peoples appear? Certainly not “before history”. Maybe during the past 100 years?

  59. We cannot prevent the idiotic or the evil from having guns, and even if we somehow could, we couldn’t prevent them from sometimes killing one another (and sometimes killing some of the rest of us) by other means.

    I have personally had the misfortune to live, for over a year, with a certified member of the class of people who ideally would not have access to weapons of any kind, but in this world was quite well-armed indeed. Even if I thought the objective achievable by such means (which I know it not to be), I would never be prepared to sacrifice my own right to be armed in service of taking away his also.

  60. neither you nor the Iranians have a right to a nuclear weapon simply because there comes a point where the rest of us say it is just too damn dangerous for you to have them.

    Our right to such things exists outside your desire to suppress it. As I said…having a right and exercising it are literally two distinctly separate things. I have the right to liberty, but I certainly can’t exercise it when I’m incarcerated….my right is suppressed by the enforcement of our penal code. Whether that suppression is legitmate is another matter.

    In this sense I agree with you. We don’t attempt to suppress the UKs right to own nukes, but we should stomp all over Iran…..why the difference? Threat perception.

    Violent felons and psychologically dysfunctional people have their RKBA indefinitely suppressed….threat perception.

  61. ESR said: “The 1939 Miller case, turned on this exact point. In that case, possession of sawed-off shotguns was held to be unprotected precisely because they were not military-grade weapons.”

    In which case, the the Supremes got it wrong. The M-97 trench gun has been in use by all branches of the military starting with Pershing’s forces in WWâ…  through WWâ… â… , Korea, Viet Nam and the Gulf Wars; almost a hundred years. The Winchester 1897 (M97) has an 18in. barrel over a five shot tubular magazine. I believe the ruling was on a much shorter barreled gun, but that does not really affect its military value other than reducing its magazine size.

  62. Hell, morons and fools infest every aspect of human life. There are idiots who run schools, who head military operations, who act as heads of government. New York has an unelected nimrod running the State. Of course, that particular numbskull has the weight of sanctioned firepower at his disposal. This is as it should be. No matter how moronic the individuals may be, executive bodies must retain the power to execute law. And citizens must provide the ultimate counterweight to that power. There are multiple avenues of redress that can provide that counterweight before “bullets and bombs”, but, finally, the individual has the innate right of self defense. It’s not a “given” right. It’s self evident.

  63. >In which case, the the Supremes got it wrong.

    The reasoning in the Miller case was indeed dubious. But, whatever its other faults, the majority opinion in the case confirms that Second Amendment protection was centrally intended to cover military-grade weapons.

  64. >Well, idiots have cars, don’t they?

    Yes, and they kill people all the time. I’m in favor of much higher standards for the right to drive since I have small amounts of control over someone else killing me once they are on the road with me.

    >What is being suggested by this demented objection, is that because a mankind is imperfect it must be castrated and declawed and shackled to a sufficient extent to obviate all risk to itself.

    That is not being suggested at all. I’m well aware that if we restricted all things that someone might abuse, we wouldn’t have a thing. There’s nothing demented about the objection I made and you’re moving the goal posts by suggesting I am. I’m not proposing some nightmarish scenario, I’m proposing that there may be a middle ground between everyone carrying guns and no one carrying guns.

    >Here’s one. While firearms ownership rates have been increasing sharply since Obama’s election

    Is there any data that shows that the 12% increase in gun sales is to new owners? Increased sales != increased gun ownership. My gut feeling is that those who ran out to buy guns at Obama’s election were mainly those who were adding to their stockpile. I have no beef with that. It just doesn’t necessarily mean more idiots with guns.

    Regardless, that’s a pretty simplistic model…there’s a lot of other variables that have changed in the same time period. The economy is one. It’s a pretty difficult task to draw a line from increased gun sales to lower crime with the data you provided to address my concerns about more idiots carrying guns.

    Regardless of all that…I’m not really against increased gun ownership, I’m currently looking at my options in handguns and shotguns. The question is about more gun carrying (which is what esr seems to be advocating when talking about citizens protecting citizens on airplanes). In fact, I’m not really against anything here, I may very well be wrong about the idiots with guns. I still haven’t seen anything convincing addressing the question, though.

    >Even if I thought the objective achievable by such means (which I know it not to be), I would never be prepared to sacrifice my own right to be armed in service of taking away his also.

    Who said you should?

    >Hell, morons and fools infest every aspect of human life.
    See comments about idiots driving. Same thought process applies.

  65. >See comments about idiots driving. Same thought process applies.

    Wanted to clarify this. What I mean is…if said idiots are causing enough damage we do something about it and don’t keep them in whatever position/situation they are in.

    What we’re talking about here is a position/situation that doesn’t yet exist : more idiots with guns. I’d like more discussion about what would come to pass if the situation came to be.

    I lean towards more people dieing when more idiots have guns. That’s bad, but of course, not enough to outright dismiss the situation. After all we accept all sorts of things that lead to people dieing if restricting those things led to less freedoms on our part (see idiots who drive). I suspect that if idiots killed more people (with more people being some number that I don’t know), we’d all favor more restrictions on driving. If idiots killed 100% of the people on the road, people wouldn’t drive. 70%, hardly anyone would drive. 30%, 20%, 10%, 5%….the less people killed, the more people in favor of accepting the death rate.

  66. >Is there any data that shows that the 12% increase in gun sales is to new owners?

    The dealers I talked with while shopping for my .45 weren’t in doubt about this. They were seeing a huge influx of new buyers.

    >It’s a pretty difficult task to draw a line from increased gun sales to lower crime with the data you provided

    The economy, at any rate, is unlikely to have been a confounding factor. The ramp-up in gun sales began on the day after election night, before the crash actually hit.

    >In fact, I’m not really against anything here, I may very well be wrong about the idiots with guns.

    If idiots with guns were the kind of problem you seem to think they are, the streets would already run with blood produced by idiots shooting people for no good reason. In fact, such incidents are so rare in areas where civil order is intact that individual instances make the news. Most criminal firearms violence in the U.S. takes place in a handful of ghetto areas where the police go only in squads, and is drug- or gang-related. Illegal, but not idiotic in quite the way you mean.

  67. >Well, idiots have cars, don’t they?
    >> Yes, and they kill people all the time. I’m in favor of much higher standards for the right to drive since I have small amounts of control over someone else killing me once they are on the road with me.

    If idiots didn’t kill each other with their cars, what would be the point of my bringing it up?

    Standards for upstanding citizens to carry firearms are already high. Standards for criminals to carry firearms are non-existent. The fact of criminal enterprise assures that.

  68. >This is false, but the fact that they are reduced to asserting it is telling.

    Evidence? Correlation is not causation. You wouldn’t know good science if it hit you in your saggy 40-year-old ballsack.

  69. > It has been noted that outside our five largest urban centers, our violent-crime rate is comparable to Switzerland’s.

    I’m sure that if we ended the War on Drugs, crime in our largest urban centers would drop sharply, too.

  70. >So the lesson you take from flight 253 is that Umar Farouk Abdulmutalib should have been allowed to take a gun onto the plane?

    No, the lesson is that the nutcase shouldn’t have a plane full of unarmed people to attack. Trying to disarm everyone discards the natural advantage of good people outnumbering the nutcases.

  71. The dealers I talked with while shopping for my .45 weren’t in doubt about this.

    which reminds me (just slightly off topic) … how’s that kimber treating you?

  72. Just out of curiosity, because this isn’t a point I’ve ever seen brought up. With a hypothetical 30% of the population armed at any given time, maybe 10% of them armed with assault weapons – how does the police force function? I understand that for most offenses – parking violations etc., there’s really no problem. But if you have, say, an ordinarily good citizen, who happened to get drunk enough to be unruly while wearing his gun, and then went driving (he’s not *that* good of a citizen), how do the police arrest him? In other words, how do the police cope with the fact that they have nothing near a monopoly on weapons? Once all the weapons involved are lethal, having more advanced weapons doesn’t really help – it only increases the number of people they kill.

  73. And when did these civilized peoples appear? Certainly not “before history”. Maybe during the past 100 years?

    Indeed. What I meant, but did not make clear, was that the right of women to terminate pregnancy is now almost universally recognized in the civilized world. There are still some holdouts like the United States, with its not-so-quaintly retro prevailing attitudes toward sexuality.

  74. >. With a hypothetical 30% of the population armed at any given time, maybe 10% of them armed with assault weapons – how does the police force function?

    They function within the law, and with the support of the community. Visit Switzerland if you want to see it in action.

  75. “Section 311 of US Code Title 10, entitled, “Militia: composition and classes” reads:”

    Funny thing is that it was a Dutchman who took action. Not sure if they have a simular Militia code in cloggy land? Anywayz, it’s not important, guts feeling and quick action goes without borders…

  76. # Jeff Read Says:
    > Indeed. What I meant, but did not make clear, was that the
    >right of women to terminate pregnancy

    “Predates history,” I believe is what you said. Now one could, charitably, interpret your comment to mean that some moral code that was never recognized granted a woman that right, even though nobody believed that until maybe a hundred years ago. However it is hard to square that claim with your additional claim that somehow the writers of the ninth amendment somehow anticipated this and covered it in their writ. Given that the putative right you describe was never “retained by the people” in colonial America or probably anywhere else in the world, you claim seems entirely without merit.

    > There are still some holdouts like the United States,
    > with its not-so-quaintly retro prevailing attitudes toward sexuality.

    I find two things odd in this statement. Firstly that it is patently wrong. There is almost unrestricted access to abortion in the United States since Roe vs. Wade, although there are some minor limits around the edges regarding consent, parental notification and extreme abortion procedures. So on the one hand you are wrong legally. If your claim pertains to attitudes, you are also wrong. Both Catholicism and Islam reject abortion, and they represent the thinking of a huge portion of the world’s people.

    Secondly, I don’t understand why you can’t separate attitudes toward sexuality and attitudes toward abortion. Apart from the obvious connection the reasons people have messed up attitudes to sex are entirely distinct from the reasons people favor or disfavor abortion. The former being a confusion over intimacy and the meaning and purpose of sex, along with lots of messy things like body disphoria, confusing indoctrination, and disease fears. The latter is generally a principled opposition to controlling a woman’s body, or killing babies, that is to say, when a fetus becomes a baby and what rights such a putative baby has when in utero. These are about as distinct as your can get.

    Your statement here being both inaccurate and confused is a demonstration rather of your gut reaction of of dislike of the United States, a prejudice if you will. It has nothing to do with actual reality.

  77. You know, I was just thinking about my last comment, and it struck me how very similar Jeff Read and Dan are in this regard. I find this kind of funny, because although I know neither man, I suspect they are about as different as people could be in their beliefs.

    However, there is a commonality, namely that they both seem to believe that there is some set of rights that comes from somewhere outside of man, God, the Universe or whatever, neither is too specific. Jeff asserts that a woman has such a right to control her pregnancy status, and Dan that he has a right to own a gun. They view these rights to exist even if they were never or would never be recognized.

    I don’t believe in God, and I think that morality is largely an evolved meme, (and perhaps to some extent an evolved gene) not some property of the universe. So I am interested to know where exactly Jeff and Dan think these supposed rights come from or where they exist outside of the meme pool or legal structures of human kind.

  78. Eric, can you refer me to an incident in the FAA database or elsewhere where a gun was fired on a plane at altitude? The only instances I can find is one from last year when a pilot’s private weapon accidentally discharged on approach, and a discussion regarding an incident from the late 50′s when a pilot shot and killed a teenage would-be hijacker.
    If you reread my post, I did not say that a simple bullet whole in the skin would lead to catastrophic failure, but that there are lot of points that a critical to the structural integrity of an aircraft that could be damaged and fail catastrophically if hit by a bullet or that could cause system failures that would lead to a crash (e.g. loss of hydraulic pressure to extend landing gear, or loss of control surfaces due to wire/controller damage). Civil aircraft are NOT military aircraft and are not meant to take the kind of punishment that an A-10 would.
    Finally, to the respondent that sited Myth Busters: It was an interesting episode, but you cannot pressurize a cabin of an aircraft sitting on the ground and expect the same result as one that’s flying. Two immediate issues come to mind. There’s no wind passing by the outside of the aircraft at 300-600 miles per hour (and yes I realize that the air speed is somewhat less), and the stress on the fuselage is static and completely different than the stresses experienced in even level flight, not to mention turns, banks, ascents, descents, and the final flare for landing. Their test is invalid on MANY levels.

  79. >Eric, can you refer me to an incident in the FAA database or elsewhere where a gun was fired on a plane at altitude?

    I don’t have access to the FAA database, and to my knowledge there hasn’t been such an incident recently. I was thinking of discharges I recall reading about from the early period of aircraft hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Your failure analysis is pretty silly, anyway. Pistol bullets have poor penetrating ability, because their velocity is low, and there are good engineering reasons that critical conduit-ways and wires aren’t routed where a bullet can easily reach them. One is serviceability; the best place to put them for access isn’t between the passengers and the skin of the airframe, it’s in the part of the fuselage below the deck with the baggage.

  80. “Predates history,” I believe is what you said.

    Yep. The fossil record is littered with evidence that botanical preparations and even surgical implements were commonly used to perform abortions before recorded history. The justification of these practices was neither religion nor Enlightenment-era theories of rights but sheer brutal practicality: in times when food was scarce, an additional child could become a liability rather than an asset.

    Now that we have structured governments we need Enlightenment-style theories of rights, which I prefer to view negatively: as taboos against government interference into the lives of people. There are certain decisions which need to be made at the individual level and so brook only minimal, if any, government interference. Issues of reproductive destiny and self-defense are, in my view, among those decisions.

    (I’m of two minds about the gun issue. On the one hand the only person you can utterly rely on to defend you is you. On the other, here in Murka we’ve so lost touch with personal responsibility and self-discipline that Cheney-style “accidents” pose considerable risk.)

    Apart from the obvious connection the reasons people have messed up attitudes to sex are entirely distinct from the reasons people favor or disfavor abortion.

    Wrong. They have one and the same reason: Because medieval-style fire-and-brimstone Christianity still holds considerable sway over many Americans’ personal and political lives.

    Your statement here being both inaccurate and confused is a demonstration rather of your gut reaction of of dislike of the United States, a prejudice if you will.

    I actually love America. I was born and raised here. But we are no longer the freest nation on Earth, nor the most industrious, nor the country in which human rights and dignity are most respected. We have fallen behind and rather than shutter ourselves from the outside world we should learn the lessons others have learned. As Michael Moore said, “I refuse to live in a country like this… and I’m not leaving.”

  81. Yes Jessica, you characterize my view of ‘rights’ quite well, considering the difficulty of discerning such things from strangers over the net.

    I would quibble, that Jeff and I are only superficially similar in this regard. Scratch down a little and I think you’d find a profound difference – I consider rights to be a purely human abstraction that are only correctly derived from our individual sovereignty, whereas I suspect Jeff sees rights as things that can be manipulated by man and cast into laws that obligate others.

    I’ve actually spent some considerable time thinking about what ‘rights’ truly are – from first principles, after a fashion – and consider a great many of our ‘rights” (as Jeff would claim) to be nothing of the sort.

    Definitely an involved and protracted OT discussion :)

  82. I’ve actually seen the private ownership of nuclear weapons discussed by libertarians before. The core is that government supposedly derives its authority from the delegated powers of and the consent of the governed; therefore, if individuals don’t have the right to have nuclear weapons, they cannot delegate it to the gov’t, therefore the gov’t can’t have nukes either.

  83. Jeff Read said:
    > Yep. The fossil record is littered with evidence that botanical preparations and even surgical implements were commonly used to perform abortions before recorded history. The justification of these practices was neither religion nor Enlightenment-era theories of rights but sheer brutal practicality: in times when food was scarce, an additional child could become a liability rather than an asset.

    And again: So what?

    If the point is to squirm away from any frank moral dialogue about abortion by pointing to historical (or pre-historical) evidence of a particular human activity, you could reasonable include cannibalism, human sacrifice, slavery and the burning of witches in this category. This is no argument at all. It’s just a bunch of lame dissembling.

    In any case, it shows real pique to link Enlightenment ideals with the foaming gibberish of a faux journalist like Moore. I suppose the cult of personality has achieved radical new lows when fat, incoherent millionaires who pretend to socialism are the low hanging fruit in discussions of Western Enlightenment.

    I am of the opinion that the abortion rights ought to be largely preserved (the way they are, for instance, here in “medieval” America). But, not being a noxious windbag like many in the New Left, I don’t equate all anti-abortion arguments with empty headed Manichean morality or sexual engineering. In discussions of abortion, there are many and serious arguments about the point at which a human being *becomes* human, and therefore is innately possessed of inalienable rights. That is an appropriate area in which to frame the argument for either side of the debate – not this pseudo intellectual, psychosexual drivel that Read is selling. That’s just garbage.

  84. PS. Jessica, I don’t actually believe I have the right to a firearm….try walking into a gun shop and asserting it “give me that gun, it’s mine by right”. I believe that I have the right of liberty to seek and acquire technology that is of benefit to my life, and that no man has the authority or right to arbitrarily preempt that. Be it a car, power drill, microwave, light bulb, guns or explosives.

    Being that there is no physical way to ‘take’ an abstraction from my mind (ie. a right I hold), the only action that can be taken by others is to deny/suppress my ability to exercise that right. If that suppression is arbitrary and capricious, I would resist it as being illegitimate (there are many unjust laws I do not obey)….however, if there is some rational, objective, non-arbitrary reasoning behind such suppression, I would endorse it.

  85. Let’s talk numbers:

    Accidental firearms related injuries in the US: 0.28 per 100,000
    Accidental firearms related deaths in the US: 0.12 per 100,000

    Accidental automobile related injuries in the US: 363 per 100,000
    Accidental automobile related deaths in the US: 22.4 per 100,000

    Homicide by firearm in the US: 6.7 per 100,000
    Suicide by firearms in the US: 9.4 per 100,000
    Homicide by knife in the US: 2.1 per 100,000

    When you factor in deaths by legally owned cars and legally owned guns, legally owned cars are about 180x more likely to kill you, and about 1,296x as likely to injure you as a legally owned gun.

    Even comparing cars to homicides (which is comparing death by malicious intent to death by mischance), a car is about 3x as lethal per 100,000 as a firearm is.

    I am far more worried about the idiots with cars than I am about idiots with firearms.

    “Cars are necessary to earn a living, apples and oranges” OK, lets treat guns as sporting goods – that’s the section of WalMart they’re sold in.

    Here are statistics for other sports.

    Deaths for downhill skiing: 1.1 per 100,000
    Injuries for downhill skiing: 4.4 per 100,000

    Deaths from fencing: 0.9 per 100,000
    Injuries from fencing: 1.1 per 100,000

    Deaths from organized martial arts: 1.4 per 100,000
    Injuries from organized martial arts: 4.6 per 100,000

    Head injuries from baseball pitches: 0.84 per 100,000
    Trauma injuries from baseball bats: 1.02 per 100,000

    Let’s compare to other usage of physical equipment:

    Injury rates for Golf: 0.98 per 100,000
    Injury rates for cordless drill operator: 0.91 per 100,000
    Injury rates from Airsoft: 0.64 per 100,000

    (Yes, Airsoft is about 2.5x as dangerous as shooting the real thing.)

    Injuries per year from lightning (aggregate US): 0.41 per 100,000

    Figures are from the CDC and related sources for 2004-2005.

    The concerns about ‘idiots with guns’ is basically saying “I trust MY monkeysphere with guns, but people who voted for Obama/listen to Glen Beck/are part of the Free Software Foundation/Go to the Catholic Church/Belong to the Freemasons are a bunch of raving loonies and shouldn’t have them.”

    In short, it’s bigotry.

  86. William, I’m one of the few people that actually answers “yes” to the question “does the 2A protect your right to own a nuke?”

    I am, of course, regularly branded “psycho” for saying such a thing.

    However, it’s really not that awkward to consider. The threat or hazard we present to others is something of legitimate concern. As I mentioned before, we regulate the manner in which we carry firearms (eg. holstered, slung or pocketed) to change perceived hazard from ‘active’ (inhand, ready to shoot) to passive (must take action to retrieve for use).

    The rational security measures (launch silo, armed guard etc) we would require would be prohibitively expensive, on top of the huge expense of the weapon itself. This is such a wildly theoretical scenario it really touches on the absurd. It’s all very well to discuss such a right in the abstract, but the concrete practicalities of exercising that right are ridiculous.

    I also have the right to acquire an interplanetary death ray……..and a lightsaber ;)

  87. I come from a place where gun, and ownership any real weapons is a privilege only for the rich, and where legal self defense is a right applicable only to those who can afford lawyers. To those calling us gun owners ‘Gun toting cowards’ I suggest you come over to Bangladesh (where I live) and see what the so called cowards are really warning against. I wont bother repeating the warnings. I know from EXPERIENCE they are true.

  88. >Let’s talk numbers:

    Except we’re not talking about idiots owning guns. We’re talking about idiots carrying guns which is what esr seems to be encouraging. Out of all the people who carry guns, how many carry them with them every day?

    I don’t understand why everyone keeps ignoring this most basic point of my questions.

  89. >In short, it’s bigotry.

    Except I’m not asking about people with different political or religous views, I’m asking about people with low IQ or low reasoning ability or the inability to regularly forsee the short-term consequence of their actions. These people are widespread.

  90. # Jeff Read Says:
    > Yep. The fossil record is littered with evidence

    Make up your mind Jeff. Is it a modern right that civilized societies recognize or some eternal right? Can I also point out that just because some individuals did things doesn’t mean that their society recognized they had a right to do so? We are, after all talking about rights not specific actions.

    The fact is that the history of rights with regards to female humans has been one of moving from abject slavery to emancipation. However, the vast majority of that emancipation took place in the last 100 years, much of it in the last 40 years. The fact is that when the ninth amendment was written there was a widely recognized legal right for a husband to beat his wife with a stick. The concept of rape within marriage has only existed in our legal codes for a few decades.

    As a matter of fact, most female humans today probably find themselves in a situation where both these things are still true often de jure, and certainly de facto. The fact is that 99.9% of human females who have ever lived have had basically no legal rights. Perhaps they managed to behave in such a way that their husband didn’t beat them, perhaps they found ways to prevent him from sexually abusing her, and, as you point out, perhaps she found some ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies. However, your claim that this was a legal right dating from prehistory is simply bogus.

    We still live in a world where it is common for young girls’ clitorises to be cut off with dirty, broken pieces of glass, and vaginas sewn shut to prevent adultery. We live in a world where in some countries hymenoplasty is one of the fastest growing plastic surgeries.

    American and Western European, and other Anglosphere women born in the last one hundred years are, to say the least, a huge exception to the rule.

    > Wrong. They have one and the same reason: Because medieval-style
    > fire-and-brimstone Christianity still holds considerable sway over many
    > Americans’ personal and political lives.

    You might as well say that messed up sexual attitudes are caused by our love of Christmas carols. For sure they both come from the same world view, but they are not causally related. You are further mistaken, because there are many atheists who are also opposed to abortion, and many Christians who are not. I for one am an atheist who LOVES Christmas carols.

    > I actually love America. I was born and raised here. But we are
    > no longer the freest nation on Earth, nor the most industrious, nor
    > the country in which human rights and dignity are most respected.

    How curious. I accused Dan of sharing your views, now I find myself sharing your views. However, I suspect that scratching the surface of these statements would reveal great gaping holes of difference. However, it is Christmas, a time for good will to all men, so I will heartily say “Jeff, I am in 100% agreement with you on these statements.” How nice to finish the year in a state of happy agreement!

  91. I actually love America. I was born and raised here. But we are no longer the freest nation on Earth, nor the most industrious, nor the country in which human rights and dignity are most respected. We have fallen behind and rather than shutter ourselves from the outside world we should learn the lessons others have learned. As Michael Moore said, “I refuse to live in a country like this… and I’m not leaving.”

    Well, it would be helpful then for you to realize that the laws in the US are among the least restrictive towards abortion. Most countries restrict late term abortions much more than the US, for example. If you regard abortion as a human right you should be very happy with the US. If, on the other hand you were born two months premature, as I was, and think that late term abortions are obviously murder and a truly grotesque violation of human rights in the same fashion that slavery was you might have good reason to be unhappy with the US.

    Yes, Jeff, I beleive late term abortions are ethically analagous to slavery. We are dehumanizing very young people as slaves were dehumanized.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  92. > I also have the right to acquire an interplanetary death ray……..and a lightsaber ;)

    I recall that John du Pont used to drive around his estate in an M1-Abrahms tank. Du Pont was nuttier than ten fruitcakes, of course, but it goes to show that military grade weaponry and war machinery certainly isn’t out of reach for those of means.

    But that’s not the maxim at stake. Think of all the third world juntas, jihadis and private narco armies that function as paramilitary units. They can almost certainly be regarded as private citizens (of some nation or another) who are equipped with military grade hardware. It’s just that in the language of some rascals on the Left, irregular militias like FALN are “granted” the right to these arms not due to an abstracted principle or some “illuminated penumbra”, but in solidarity with a preferred sociopolitical outcome. I think it’s what Burnside means when he says “I trust MY monkeysphere with guns.”

    There are many practical dilemmas short of “the nuke-mart” when we talk about the right to bear arms. I think certain cultural battles need to be won before any kind of “citizen-soldier” civilization can be seriously considered. As it stands right now, there are too many on the Left who have become utterly bewildered about what constitutes a free civilization, and too many on the Right who would capitalize on civilian militarism to accomplish their own radical ideological ends.

  93. I’m asking about people with low IQ or low reasoning ability or the inability to regularly forsee the short-term consequence of their actions. These people are widespread.

    Widespread they may be, in relation to your lofty IQ, but they have just as much right to preserve their lives as all you really clever people do.

    Or do you have some intellectual equation in mind that filters peoples’ rights with respect to their mental horsepower? Maybe a genetic test, so they can be aborted before they become troublesome to your gated communities?

    Damned riffraff and their ‘rights’…..

  94. >Damned riffraff and their ‘rights’…..

    I’m not sure how you’re still missing the point or how resorting to snark is helpful, but…

    If 100% of people with IQ less than 90 shot innocent bystanders would you favor an IQ test prior to granting someone the right to carry a gun?

    What if it was 90%?

    What if it was 50%?

    Of course, I don’t think the correlation between IQ and ability to not shoot innocent bystanders is extremely weak. I am merely wondering if there’s some cluster of potential people-types who are vastly more likely to shoot innocent bystanders than the rest of us if everyone is carrying and if there are whether that group’s ability to wreak havoc is large enough to do something about it.

    As far as I can see there’s no data on today’s populace concerning the widespread carrying of guns that esr seems to be advocating.

    Don’t be in such a hurry to dismiss someone just because you think they’re out to get your favorite cause.

  95. >Of course, I don’t think the correlation between IQ and ability to not shoot innocent bystanders is extremely weak.

    Bah. Reword that like this:

    Of course, I do think the correlation between IQ and ability to not shoot innocent bystanders is extremely weak.

  96. # Dan Says:
    > William, I’m one of the few people that actually answers
    > “yes” to the question “does the 2A protect your right to
    > own a nuke?”…
    > The rational security measures (launch silo, armed guard etc)
    > we would require would be prohibitively expensive, on top of
    > the huge expense of the weapon itself.

    So only rich people get to own nuclear weapons? Rich people like for example Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I still don’t quite understand why you think Bill Gates has a right to own a nuclear weapon, but the nation of Iran does not. (Lock coordinates on Cupertino…)

    I think it is pretty simple: when the community as a whole thinks that your actions are too dangerous (exceeding the very high standard that, in large enough numbers, they are willing to put down their pizza, turn off Oprah and actually take some action), then you are not going to have your nuclear weapon, no matter how much you protest your “rights”.

    (BTW, one of the big problems with politics is that you don’t have to turn off Oprah to make things happen.)

  97. Dustin said:
    > I am merely wondering if there’s some cluster of potential people-types who are vastly more likely to shoot innocent bystanders than the rest of us if everyone is carrying and if there are whether that group’s ability to wreak havoc is large enough to do something about it.

    This question immediately reminded my of the voter registration “literacy tests” imposed throughout the Southern states prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of ’65. That’s not snark, either. Framing the debate in any way other then the unalienable rights of human beings is simply the road to Hell, and I think you’ll travel it alone with terms like “people-types” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

    Anyway, the theory doesn’t even work anecdotally; history is rife with “intelligent” mass-murderers and “unintelligent” heroes. And human rights aren’t derived from any sort of test in any free civilization I can imagine.

  98. What about a correlation between people of a certain racial background and levels of armed violent crime?

    Oh yes….correlation is not causation….silly me.

    Just because somebody can’t reason their way out of a soggy brown bag, doesn’t mean they’re physically incapable of wielding a firearm effectively, or that they don’t possess the basic animal instinct of threat perception & identification, or that they don’t grasp the reality of life & death.

    People that have demonstrable contempt for others’ lives, or are medically incapable of responsible societal interaction (esp. while armed) already have meaningful laws suppressing their RKBA. I have no sympathy for the criminals, but the innocent others are at least protected from themselves, and have others to look after them.

    If you’re not a criminal, and can live independently as a productive member of society (no matter how modest), I support your right to choose for yourself whether you wish to own/carry a gun. It’s a matter of free peoples’ dignity, among other considerations.

  99. >I am merely wondering if there’s some cluster of potential people-types who are vastly more likely to shoot innocent bystanders than the rest of us

    That’s a better way to pose the question. Yes, in fact. The criminologist Don Kates has noted that gun crime is overwhelmingly concentrated in — and among — an approximately 3% cohort of individuals who score very high on measures of social deviance and other risky behaviors, including rates of crime, rates of domestic disputes, rates of automobile accidents, drug addiction, and alcohol addiction. Outside this high-risk cohort gun crime is vanishingly rare.

  100. So only rich people get to own nuclear weapons?
    Yup. They ain’t cheap. Only rich people get to own G5s too.

    Damned price theory ;)

    I still don’t quite understand why you think Bill Gates has a right to own a nuclear weapon, but the nation of Iran does not.
    I actually defended Iran’s right to persue nuke technology. I also mentioned “threat perception” and how this justifies stomping their ass if they look like being successful.

    I think it is pretty simple: when the community as a whole thinks that your actions are too dangerous (exceeding the very high standard that, in large enough numbers, they are willing to put down their pizza, turn off Oprah and actually take some action), then you are not going to have your nuclear weapon, no matter how much you protest your “rights”.
    I agree. Ultimately, the tidal force of the mob will likely prevail. I’ll just have to sulk over my absent nuke…..and the fact that I could never possibly hope to afford one.

  101. Jessica Boxer said:
    > So only rich people get to own nuclear weapons? Rich people like for example Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

    I think it’s a stretch to claim that Ahmadinejad (or Bill Gates) could ever personally “own” nuclear weapons. First of all, there are the logistics of personal ownership. Developing a nuclear weapon isn’t an individual enterprise anymore than firing a nuclear isn’t a matter of one man “pressing a button.” These are by nature state/corporate enterprises. Developing and managing a nuclear program requires a wide variety of disciplines and thousands of hands and minds to create any sort of real utility. If Obama, Jintao or Ahmadinejad ever woke up from a fevered dream and “decided” to nuke X or Y country, he can’t just hop out of bed and pull a lever. It’s a group activity, and there are many minds and hands along that circuit that could either deliberately or accidentally stop the launch.

  102. >Of course, I do think the correlation between IQ and ability to not shoot innocent bystanders is extremely weak.

    Actually, it’s not that weak. Low IQ correlates with criminality and poor impulse control. But you have to get well into the subnormal range before shooting innocent bystanders is even remotely predictable; almost all gun crime happens within and among a very small percentage of the highly deviant.

  103. Tony Johnson: it’s not about courage. It’s about training. In an emergency situation, people do as they have trained … or else they behave more or less randomly. Sometimes people are lucky, and one of the people does something heroic and courageous. It’s not about the weapons you happen to have at hand. Everything is a weapon.

  104. >This question immediately reminded my of the voter registration “literacy tests” imposed throughout the Southern states prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of ‘65.

    Except that I’m not wondering about a solution. I’m wondering about if there’s a problem.

    >Anyway, the theory doesn’t even work anecdotally; history is rife with “intelligent” mass-murderers and “unintelligent” heroes.

    You still don’t get the question. The question is if there are people who are more likely to accidentally shoot other people at a high enough rate to be concerned. Forget intelligence or IQ or reasoning ability. I mentioned all those at once to indicate that I’m not talking about some single quality. I’m talking about the group of people who have the combination of attributes that makes them unable to make good decisions about appropriate times to play with their gun.

    >Just because somebody can’t reason their way out of a soggy brown bag, doesn’t mean they’re physically incapable of wielding a firearm effectively, or that they don’t possess the basic animal instinct of threat perception & identification, or that they don’t grasp the reality of life & death.

    Then the people who are capable of wielding a firearm effectively aren’t the people I’m talking about. Duh.

    >That’s a better way to pose the question. Yes, in fact. The criminologist Don Kates has noted that gun crime
    Does “gun crime” include people who shoot other people while playing with their gun?

    I’m not worried about the people who can effectively wield a gun. I’m not even talking about people who use guns to take from others. I’m worried about all the people you see on Youtube who hit themselves in the nuts with a sledgehammer, or shock themselves getting toast out of the toaster with a fork, or the people in 50% of the videos on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    It’s the people who don’t think before acting. What happens in a world where all those people are carrying guns? I haven’t seen any statistics or data about those people. Are they something to be worried about? Who knows?

    Half of the responses to my questions have been people immediately going on the defense because I dared to pose a question about gun rights.

  105. >Does “gun crime” include people who shoot other people while playing with their gun?

    Yes. This is extremely rare. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be killed by an accidental discharge. You are far more likely to be killed by a flying golf ball.

    >It’s the people who don’t think before acting. What happens in a world where all those people are carrying guns?

    Not much would look different – because what they’d be carrying is pistols, and pistols simply aren’t very lethal. Any additional fatalities would be utterly swamped by, for example, auto-accident statistics.

  106. Russell Nelson said:
    > Tony Johnson: it’s not about courage. It’s about training. In an emergency situation, people do as they have trained … or else they behave more or less randomly.

    That’s a salient point, and I think it goes to the heart of what Eric is talking about when he says “well regulated.”

    Over the course of the last fifteen years here in New York City, I’ve watched the NYPD slowly transform into one of the most “well regulated militia(s)” in the world. Their personal training and organizational capabilities are truly a model for any well-regulated militia in the civil defense (I’ll leave aside the fact that I’ve *also* watched them slowly transform into unofficial tax collectors for the city over that same time period).

    Just one example of many: Just a couple of weeks ago, a tragedy was averted in Times Square when one of the neigborhoods numerous hustlers was approached by a uniformed beat officer. The crook pulled a MAC-10 and fired on the cop from seven feet away. The cop retained his composure, took careful aim and fire off four rounds from his service pistol, three of which were critical (and ultimately fatal) hits.

    When the dust had settled, it became clear what happened. The thug had aimed his MAC-10 parallel to the ground. This is known coloquially as “gangsta style”, and is an emulation of the way the guy had seen guns fired in rap videos and gangster movies. Well, of course, the gun jammed when the casing couldn’t clear the chamber. It’s perhaps a little shy of the criteria for a “Darwin Award”, but it’s a fine case of superior training winning out over superior firepower.

  107. >Yes. This is extremely rare. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be killed by an accidental discharge. You are far more likely to be killed by a flying golf ball.

    So, I guess my follow-up question would be…do the chances change when people have their guns with them all the time? (sub-question: constant carry is what you are advocating, correct?)

    Do our current gun-laws encourage a different mix of people unable to be trusted with a firearm vs people to be trusted with a firearm? My feeling is that they do.

    >Not much would look different – because what they’d be carrying is pistols, and pistols simply aren’t very lethal.

    I’m no expert, but I would assume that death isn’t the only bad outcome from being accidentally shot by a pistol.

  108. Dustin said
    > I’m worried about all the people you see on Youtube who hit themselves in the nuts with a sledgehammer, or shock themselves getting toast out of the toaster with a fork, or the people in 50% of the videos on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    Isn’t it possible those people will simply shoot themselves in the forehead while cleaning their loaded pistols? I mean, my God, I’ve seen some dimwits I wouldn’t want near *any* sort of dangerous tools or machinery, up to and including cars, toasters, sledgehammers, doorknobs, etc. I get what you are saying, but I am rather tired of jettsoning every legal right and privilege to account for the lowest common denominator.

    Anyway, I relegate my chances of getting offed by a stray knucklehead trying to twirl his gun like Billy the Kid to the “Act of God” category…somewhere between tornadoes and getting hit by a bus.

  109. Dustin,

    From where I sit all the data you need to answer your questions is now present in the thread. The accident rates ken quoted are quite clear. Based on my personal accident rates, I am much safer with a gun than I am with either a knife or a car. esr quite handily answered the portion about criminal usage.

    The truth is that it is hard to make a gun go off by mistake. Gun design is very effective at minimizing negligent discharges, and has been for at least a hundred years. In addition there are four simple rules the NRA teaches which make injuries from negligent discharges even rarer. By contrast chairs, ladders, knives, matches, gasoline, lawn mowers, power tools (especially chain saws, shudder), matches and lighters are much more difficult to use safely.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  110. >So, I guess my follow-up question would be…do the chances change when people have their guns with them all the time?

    Not if statistical experience in the U.S,. is anything to go by. In a civil society (as opposed to, say, Rwanda-Burundi) areas where constant carry is common have lower rates of firearm injury and death per capita than elsewhere. Several factors seem to contribute; an important one is that such areas tend to have healthy gun cultures in which carrying weapons is integrated into civil deterrence of crime.

    >(sub-question: constant carry is what you are advocating, correct?)

    Yes. I think adults, especially adults charged with the care of children, should be armed as a matter of course. I think that going unarmed should be seen as an abdication of adult responsibility, a confession that one lacks the self-control, courage and moral grounding to defend one’s civilization and participate in public life.

  111. So, I guess my follow-up question would be…do the chances change when people have their guns with them all the time? (sub-question: constant carry is what you are advocating, correct?)

    Consider the news and the police. How many new stories have you ever read about cops accidentally shooting themselves or others? We have thousands of cops in this country and most of them, historically, have not been well trained with their firearms.

    I could be wrong, but constant carry is not that dangerous. Think about the times when a carried weapon is most likely to accidentally fire. Guns almost never go off without the trigger being pulled. Far less likely that lightening strikes! The danger is only when the gun is holstered and unholstered, not just carried. That’s once in the morning, twice every time you sit on the toilet and once at night. Maybe six times a day, and none under any situational stress. Again, chain saws are much more dangerous. That kick from getting the tip in the wrong spot is really hard to handle.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  112. >If, on the other hand you were born two months premature, as I was, and think that late term abortions are obviously murder and a truly grotesque violation of human rights in the same fashion that slavery was you might have good reason to be unhappy with the US.

    Have you ever watched a baby grow up? Babies are not ‘people’ until at least 6 months old. I doubt a baby is even capable at that age of understanding the difference between life and death.

  113. Tony Johnson said:
    > Have you ever watched a baby grow up? Babies are not ‘people’ until at least 6 months old. I doubt a baby is even capable at that age of understanding the difference between life and death.

    Very sick. Good to know.

  114. Very sick. Good to know.
    Yes. I’d appreciate knowing if this sociopath is ever near my child. I’d better go practice my failure drill.

  115. Very sick is right. Apparently many handicapped homo sapiens are not people either. And my mother in law with dementia wasn’t a person. Hope I’m never in a coma. In fact, when I’m asleep and not dreaming I don’t think I understand the difference between life and death. In some of my dreams and fantasies that difference appears to be blurred. Lots of religions don’t draw that distinction very clearly either. I’m pretty sure Tony has just justified enslaving people who are animists or who believe in ancestor worship, since they aren’t fully people with a complete understanding of life and death. Why an atheists can own anyone who believes in life after death!

    You know the Supreme Court was very good at establishing an expansive definition of free speech to protect free speech. (When confronted with so called campagin finance reform they forgot their former good sense.) I think an expansive definition of personhood is a good way to protect persons. Those who would limit that definition are dangerous. I’m keeping an eye on you, Tony. I’m betting you would like to see some of us in prison for various things. Maybe for harmfully disputing the AGW theory. Maybe for owning an SUV. Maybe for spending too much valuable time (and therefore money) supporting a political candidate. What is it that you want to jail me for, Tony?

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  116. I am merely wondering if there’s some cluster of potential people-types who are vastly more likely to shoot innocent bystanders than the rest of us if everyone is carrying and if there are whether that group’s ability to wreak havoc is large enough to do something about it.

    There is a cluster. It’s generally called “people with extensive felony records”. We already have laws (background checks, etc.) that are supposed to keep the guns out of their hands.

    Where do those guns come from?

    Most of them on the East Coast come from Eastern Europe.

    Most of them in the Southwest come through Mexico from Colombia.

    Most of them in the Pacific Northwest come from China.

    None are sold through gun shops.

    When you compare homicide rates for comparably ethnically heterogeneous urban areas in the US and Western Europe, they’re reasonably close. What causes the US per capita murder rate to spike is differences in reporting standards (we actually report the deaths of black on black violence; Arab on Arab violence or Arab on Turk violence in Germany and Paris tends to get swept under the rug) and the fact that we have a somewhat higher percentage of our population living in cities.

  117. >
    So only rich people get to own nuclear weapons? Rich people like for example Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I still don’t quite understand why you think Bill Gates has a right to own a nuclear weapon, but the nation of Iran does not.
    >

    Nation of Iran don’t want nuclear “weapon” !! You can see what they want when you turn on your TV !!
    Do you equalize “people of Iran” and a fascist like “Ahmadi nejad” ???? It’s neither fare nor reasonable …

  118. >>Of course, I do think the correlation between IQ and ability to not shoot innocent bystanders is extremely weak.

    >Actually, it’s not that weak. Low IQ correlates with criminality and poor impulse control. But you have to get well into the subnormal range before shooting innocent bystanders is even remotely predictable; almost all gun crime happens within and among a very small percentage of the highly deviant.

    The greatest level of *criminality* occurs with a moderately low IQ, the more extremely sub-normal are too handicapped to be actively criminal.

  119. >I think it’s a stretch to claim that Ahmadinejad (or Bill Gates) could ever personally “own” nuclear weapons. First of all, there are the logistics of personal ownership. Developing a nuclear weapon isn’t an individual enterprise anymore than firing a nuclear isn’t a matter of one man “pressing a button.” These are by nature state/corporate enterprises. Developing and managing a nuclear program requires a wide variety of disciplines and thousands of hands and minds to create any sort of real utility. If Obama, Jintao or Ahmadinejad ever woke up from a fevered dream and “decided” to nuke X or Y country, he can’t just hop out of bed and pull a lever. It’s a group activity, and there are many minds and hands along that circuit that could either deliberately or accidentally stop the launch.

    The thing is, even knowing only what I know it’s not so difficult to make a nuclear warhead, given highly enriched uranium. Enriching uranium is harder, but still not undoable. And if the issue was personal ownership of nukes, then one would assume that others knowledgeable in the so doing would be manufacturing them; it’s not an ideal DIY project. A nuke and at least a medium-range delivery system isn’t much more technologically sophisticated than a car; it requires a decent amount of at least one very-hard-to-find ingredient, but the rest can be made by any decent manufacturing process. We tend to think of nukes as extremely sophisticated only because in government use they tend to acquire the sorts of paraphernalia that we associate with high-tech (i.e. big control boards and so on) and because we can’t actually see them closely.

    I don’t know, myself, whether nukes should be publicly available. However, arguing that they can’t be simply because of the technical sophistication is not valid.

  120. > I don’t know, myself, whether nukes should be publicly available. However, arguing that they can’t be simply because of the technical sophistication is not valid.

    That’s not at all what I argued (although the technical sophistication for a “useful” nuclear weapon is quite a bit more than you are implying). I’m talking about “personal ownership” of the weapon, which is a much trickier thing to define when the enterprise of procurement, manufacturing, testing and deploying even a single nuclear ICBM involves a much wider array of human inputs then the old cartoonish image of a single bureaucrat with his “finger on the button.”

    If you believe that you can build and “wield” some sort of budget warhead and delivery system in your backyard/garage/basement by yourself, more power to you. Call us in about forty years and let us know how (or if) it turned out. If you did that, I would agree that “you” owned the weapon, and you would be the first man on the planet to do so. No single individual currently owns a nuclear weapon, although several corporate bodies control them. As far as world actors go, I’d say the closest that a single human being is to “owning” a nuclear weapon is probably Kim Jong Il, in that the pyramidal structure of his society might actually grant him the uninhibited license to use it. Then again, it is quite possible that a deadly coup would prevent that from ever taking place, given the suicidal implications of such an act.

  121. >I think an expansive definition of personhood is a good way to protect persons

    It’s funny how computer programmers often act as though these issues have never been considered by anybody. Obviously you can make your definition of personhood as expansive as you like, but you need some way to decide where to draw the line. Is an early embryo a person? Is a sperm a person? Is a dog a person? Is a baby born with no upper brain a person? Was Terri Schiavo a person? If you’re happy to answer ‘yes’ to all of these, then make everyone and everything a person, and make it illegal to kill anything with working biological cells. If you answer ‘no’ to any of these, then you need some kind of position on what makes something a person, in the sense that we have a duty to protect it.

    One reasonable position is that a person is someone who has conscious experiences. We might say that the duty to protect persons extends to protecting those who will soon become persons, provided that nobody intervenes. This means that six-month-old babies are not yet persons, but that we still owe them protection from being killed. It rules out killing sleeping people and six-month-old babies, but it doesn’t rule out killing unborn babies who couldn’t survive on their own (which includes many ‘late-term’ abortions), or people who need active life-support devices.

    This issue is simply not obvious enough to call someone ‘sick’ without offering an alternative solution to the problem of who is, and who isn’t a person.

  122. Ben says:
    > This issue is simply not obvious enough to call someone ’sick’ without offering an alternative solution to the problem of who is, and who isn’t a person.

    No. The issue of whether or not a six month old human child is a “person” is both simple and obvious. Anyone who presupposes otherwise is either sick, demonstrably evil or engaging in pseudo intellectual buffoonery. There is no precedent for assuming that a “dog” or a “fish” is a person, or that a human child is not. That is sheer balderdash. You might as well sit on a rock and twiddle about whether you are yourself a person. Can you observe and account for your own personhood in some objective manner better than “I think, therefore I am?”

    What an intellectual wasteland we find ourselves in. I blame the liberal arts degree factory.

  123. > One reasonable position is that a person is someone who has conscious experiences.

    I love this line. This alone could be a stand in for how pseudo intellectual trash gets filtered into the cultural bloodstream. It sounds “reasonable” enough on it’s face (“I’m just trying to find empirical evidence to support personhood…”), but scratch it with your smallest toenail and you can see how ludicrous it is. There is nothing empirical about “conscious experience”… it is by nature phenomenology. It’s the substance of philosophy: the question itself is unanswerable, but how you answer it is informative about your own subjective judgments.

    Nothing is more of a “judgment call” then the criteria by which you define to be a person, as we have seen in countless bloody ethnic, tribal and religious wars throughout recorded human history. Anyone who claims to have “discovered” empirical laws that gauge personhood should be regarded AT LEAST with suspicion and contempt by civilized men. And anyone who wishes to mandate that six month old children be described as “potential people” should be set apart from the herd for reasons of self preservation.

  124. It’s funny how computer programmers often act as though these issues have never been considered by anybody.

    It’s funny how many things Ben might not have considered before writing this. In particular did he consider that the comments above reference the Supreme Court, a group of people considering such issues for over two hundred years? Did Ben consider that Computer Science degrees are sometimes offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, not the College of Engineering? Did he consider that some old computer prpgrammers went to school when classes in Western Civilization were required to graduate? Did he consider that that still might be the case today? Did he consider that people these days often go through multiple majors before they choose a career, maybe even going through a philosophy phase? Did he consider that scientists and engineers mostly have a very good grasp of the liberal arts, even though liberal arts majors mostly do not have a good grasp of science and engineering? And did he neglect that many computer programmers have a life long love of learning which they nuture?

    Perhaps he considered all those things, and covered them with the word often.

    Myself, I just finished Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization. It’s a ripping good read. People have been thinking about plumbing for at least seven thousand years. I think they have been thinking about personhood for far longer.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  125. >One reasonable position is that a person is someone who has conscious experiences.

    jrok is quite right; you’re uttering a meaningless noise. What is your test for “has conscious experiences”? What observable consequences do these “conscious experiences” have? Can I apply this test to a human being I don’t share a language with? a dolphin? a rock?

    Until you understand the significance of those questions, and can answer them coherently, you aren’t even in the debate.

  126. # esr Says:
    > Until you understand the significance of those questions,
    > and can answer them coherently, you aren’t even in the debate.

    And since some of these answers seem to be very hard to answer with certainty, they we have to err on the side of caution. Call me an old stick in the mud, but it seems better to accidentally not kill non people than it is to accidentally kill people.

  127. And since some of these answers seem to be very hard to answer with certainty, they we have to err on the side of caution. Call me an old stick in the mud, but it seems better to accidentally not kill non people than it is to accidentally kill people.

    This seems reasonable; however, if you go too far with it, and define (say) cows as people, then (most likely) people who eat beef will say screw that and keep eating beef. Which means (if you want to enforce your definition of personhood) that you need to have a fairly intrusive government in order to prevent that. To put it another way, it’s not a decision whether or not you, personally, will kill something; it’s a decision whether or not you will force the entire country/world/whatever the scope of your regulations to kill or not kill something.

  128. I don’t know whether the computer programmers named esr and Jessica Boxer act or think these issues have never been considered by anybody, Ben, but they do seem to be whacking the idea “that a person is someone who has conscious experiences” about as if it were a pretty sophomoric simplification. (In your defense, it was a comment on a blog, so depth and sophistication is a bit constrained by the format. Did you consider that the comments you criticized were so constrained?) It’s almost like they have personally considered the issue before, and even as if they have conversed with and read the writings of others who have considered the issue before. It’s like personhood might be an important concept for minarchists and libertartians or something….

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  129. Tom Said:
    “Did he consider that people these days often go through multiple majors before they choose a career, maybe even going through a philosophy phase? Did he consider that scientists and engineers mostly have a very good grasp of the liberal arts, even though liberal arts majors mostly do not have a good grasp of science and engineering?”

    I agree with this but think you might be over-representing the number of scientists and engineers who have a “very good grasp of the liberal arts.” I completed my undergraduate degrees at a large state university with a highly-ranked philosophy department (I’ve never seen them outside of the top 10 in any of the “Rankings”). I majored in Economics, Mathematics, and Philosophy in undergrad and encountered a number of engineers and scientists who would not have done well in an upper-level philosophy course. I attribute this mostly to the fact that the “intro” classes in most liberal arts disciplines are worthless at large universities. This could be different at more elite undergraduate institutions; however, I can’t really speak to that fact.

    Ben, however, may have inadvertently stumbled on something that I have found to be common: many “experts” believe they are polymaths when they aren’t. The number of computer scientists who think they are experts in economics while at the same time displaying fundamental misunderstandings is amusing. (NOTE: I am NOT referring to esr. I am new to this blog. I have not read any of esr’s posts related to economics and am reserving judgement until I do.)

  130. Steve: yes, it fascinates me how many people think they understand economics, when they basically are able to balance their bankbook, and can make change. As if hundreds of years of study of economics has resulted in a body of knowledge that can be regurgitated without actually having to learn any of it. As if!

  131. I suspect you are right about upper level philosophy courses, Steve. I suspect I would not have done well in such courses either. I was about at my limit with the sophomore level courses twenty years ago. I could get A’s and B’s at those. I am a sophomore level polymath, which is to say not a polymath at all.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  132. >The number of computer scientists who think they are experts in economics while at the same time displaying fundamental misunderstandings is amusing.

    You could have removed “computer” from the above and it would still have been true. On the other hand, despite being sometimes considered one myself, I don’t actually think being an expert at “economics” is very useful or interesting per se; a lot of “economics” (especially the macro kind) is about as predictive as voodoo. What’s important, and too rare, is to be able to think analytically in economic terms. For that, a firm grasp of some basics about supply/demand, time value, externalities, and public choice problems is sufficient.

    Something rather similar can be said of philosophy. Most “philosophy”, historically speaking, is a catalog of semantic errors and map/territory confusions ranging from stupid to extremely stupid, and worth studying only as a way to avoid falling into the same old traps. What’s useful, and almost never taught well, is philosophical analysis – which comes down to recognizing when the language you’re using cannot be referred to some testable predictive hypothesis and is thus vacuous.

  133. > What’s important, and too rare, is to be able to think analytically in economic terms.

    Yes, yes, yes. In the field I’m currently in I’ve seen the severe consequence of people who have only “the basics about supply/demand” but don’t understand its more advanced, mathematical underpinnings and the assumptions built into the models. However, as long as the “supply and demand” graph isn’t presented as the beginning and end of economic analysis, most people do not need much more than the topics you mentioned and the ability to think systematically.

    >and worth studying only as a way to avoid falling into the same old traps.

    I’m not sure I agree with this bit. I encourage everyone in college to take at a few philosophy courses beyond those required. I find studying philosophy is also important to understanding the intellectual climate in which various historical events took place. Further, within the contexts of a university education, a good philosophy program will also challenge one’s reading and writing abilities.

  134. >One reasonable position is that a person is someone who has conscious experiences.
    >>jrok is quite right; you’re uttering a meaningless noise. What is your test for “has conscious experiences”?

    And what exactly is his prerequisite for “someone?” Has it gotten to the point where people don’t even know the meanings of the words they use? I may not hold a degree in Advanced Polymath Sophistry from UC Berkeley, but I do know that water is wet, the sky is fucking blue and six month old human children have the right to not be summarily euthanized. If that last maxim is in dispute, I suggest we resolve the debate at the gallows.

    If it’s a horse race between Orwell and Huxley, I believe that Huxley is actually winning these. Orwell’s villains are writ large, and arrived in many forms long before he was born, but Huxley detected the most insidious threads in 20th century “progress.”

  135. Russell – I’m of the opinion that I can teach any reasonably intelligent person everything they need to know to understand economics in 30 minutes or less. It’s an absurdly simple discipline, at least in the broad strokes(the details are, as ever, problematic). And I’m not saying that from ignorance of the discipline – I have a degree in it. The problem is that it tends to be taught as if the map was the territory and with no insight into the overall picture whatsoever. You’re right that many people think that they understand it when they really don’t(see, for example, every argument ever leveled in favour of economic nationalism), but it’s not truly complex.

    Also, regarding the private nukes argument, I’m going to have to side with the crowd that says that you’re all crazy. I’m a libertarian, but I’m a libertarian for utilitarian reasons, not philosophical ones. The fundamental measure of public policy is whether it gives people a good life, not whether it caters to your assumptions.

    Put simply, nukes are too scary to be entrusted to individuals. The benefits from extending the (valid and valuable) right to bear arms to encompass weapons of mass destruction do not outweigh the detriments. I don’t trust government, because I know that power will be abused, and expanding one person’s power will mean expanding that person’s abuse of power. But it’s really hard to expand the scale of a nuclear attack very much, and very easy to expand the likelihood. When the single craziest person of means in society has as much destructive power as the whole of the government, well, it makes me trust government a whole lot more – at least with them, I can expect the bureaucracy to get in the way, and whatever manner of screening programs are in place will probably prevent any real nutbars from having their fingers on the button. It doesn’t always work(see Johnson, Lyndon B.), but it’s a better process than the open one.

    My opinion on government-owned WMDs is pretty much the same as my opinion on democracy – it’s a terrible system with numerous blatant flaws, but nobody has come up with anything less bad, so we’ll stick with it.

  136. Very sick. Good to know.

    Ad hominem that adds nothing to the discussion, though it does reveal how uninteresting you are intellectually.

    Yes. I’d appreciate knowing if this sociopath is ever near my child. I’d better go practice my failure drill.

    I have a challenge for the denizens of this blog: go a couple of weeks without making some dumb insinuation about using firearms on another poster. FYI I’ve always felt protective toward developing infants that are blood-related; however, those are just feelings and have no relevance to the question. Of course, some people will never develop the ability to keep their feelings out of a discussion and as such remain at mentally infantile for their entire lives.

    No. The issue of whether or not a six month old human child is a “person” is both simple and obvious. Anyone who presupposes otherwise is either sick, demonstrably evil or engaging in pseudo intellectual buffoonery. There is no precedent for assuming that a “dog” or a “fish” is a person, or that a human child is not. That is sheer balderdash. You might as well sit on a rock and twiddle about whether you are yourself a person. Can you observe and account for your own personhood in some objective manner better than “I think, therefore I am?”

    What an intellectual wasteland we find ourselves in. I blame the liberal arts degree factory.

    If we’re in an intellectual wasteland, it’s because your inflexible moral code prevents you from thinking rationally about these issues. Why is a fetus not a human being but a late-term pregnancy is? A baby is a parasite that the mother suffers because she knows it will develop into a functioning human.

    I’m keeping an eye on you, Tony. I’m betting you would like to see some of us in prison for various things. Maybe for harmfully disputing the AGW theory. Maybe for owning an SUV. Maybe for spending too much valuable time (and therefore money) supporting a political candidate. What is it that you want to jail me for, Tony?

    When did I talk about any of this? This response just exposes you as the Internet kook that you are. What will you accuse me of next? Conspiring with the Liberal Overmother to lay eggs in your brain?

  137. > If we’re in an intellectual wasteland, it’s because your inflexible moral code prevents you from thinking rationally about these issues.

    Yes. Clearly I am one of Jeff Read’s “fire and brimstone” Christian fundamentalists for suggesting that human beings six months removed from the womb are individual persons with the innate right to live.

    Look , Johnson: This subject is very OT, and is pure stupidity to boot. You made a stupid, indefensible remark, but it’s not as if you can actually do anything to change the way the human race views it’s own offspring. As bad as things have gotten, I don’t foresee the “Church of Tony” filling up pews any time soon, nor do I believe that any dimwitted screed about “parasitic fetuses” is going to alter the way 400,000 years of evolution has shaped our perception of children.

    Maybe you aren’t sick. Perhaps you are just another dummy, and reflexively say dumb things to get attention. I’ve noticed this is an epidemic on the Internet. But slinging around sloppy, half-digested kibbles of pop science doesn’t get you in the debate any more than it does Ben. And, besides, any “serious” social debate about what you proposed will end at Napier’s gallows.

  138. # Russell Nelson Says:
    > it fascinates me how many people think they understand economics
    > As if hundreds of years of study of economics has resulted in a body
    > of knowledge that can be regurgitated without actually having to learn
    > any of it. As if!

    So Russell, what exactly did that hundreds of years of study bring us? JMK and the great depression, the Federal Reserve Bank, “Stimulus Packages” and Obamacare. Not a good result really. The disturbing fact is that most professional economists don’t seem to understand economics.

    If we ditched all those hundreds of years of years of study, and started back with Adam Smith, I think we would all be in a better place. Economics is for the most part actually quite simple, if a little counter intuitive. Lets face it Russell, all we need to do is make every high school student have your blog as required reading. I am sure the world would be a better place then. :-)

  139. When did I talk about any of this?

    Never. You sound like a typical break some eggs to make an omlet elitist tyrant. It sounds like the eggs, in this case, are young children. Perhaps I’ve miscategorized your views. Are you progressive, conservative, what?

    jrok is right, though. You made a stupid, indefensible remark, and you deserve to be piled on. Right now we are protecting our children from the destructive, stupid meme you are spreading, and we are doing it with words, not bullets. Even the comments which reference firearms are still words, Tony.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  140. Nation of Iran don’t want nuclear “weapon” !! You can see what they want when you turn on your TV !!

    They want CSI Miami?

    (That’s more than a joke. American trash culture is perhaps our biggest export now, and a lot of our ideals are piggybacked onto it. Neal Stephenson writes of subjects of dictatorial regimes demanding their Miranda rights because it’s what they’ve come to expect from American cop shows.)

  141. When the dust had settled, it became clear what happened. The thug had aimed his MAC-10 parallel to the ground. This is known coloquially as “gangsta style”, and is an emulation of the way the guy had seen guns fired in rap videos and gangster movies. Well, of course, the gun jammed when the casing couldn’t clear the chamber.

    There’s a reason for the “gangsta style” of wielding a handgun: it helps control recoil when you’re trying to fire off many shots. Of course, one or two shots that hit are far more effective than many shots which miss…

  142. Tom Dickson-Hunt Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 9:04 pm
    > if you go too far with it, and define (say) cows as people, then
    > (most likely) people who eat beef will say screw that and keep
    > eating beef.

    Yes, that does seem an excellent check on overreaching. Someone on a thread on this blog posted a comment that I thought was really good. In the context of what does “right” mean he said that a right was that without which the people refuse to be governed. Somehow, that seems appropriate here.

  143. Jeff Read said:
    > There’s a reason for the “gangsta style” of wielding a handgun: it helps control recoil when you’re trying to fire off many shots.

    Read, if you and I are ever engaged in a firefight with each other, and you are armed with a MAC-10 semi, I fully encourage you to wield it “gangsta style.” You will stovepipe the living sh!t out of your weapon, and the main recoil you will have to concern yourself with is recoiling in helpless terror from my bullets. ;)

  144. There’s a reason for the “gangsta style” of wielding a handgun: it helps control recoil when you’re trying to fire off many shots.

    Absolute horse shit.

    ESR says: A laugh riot. Though knowing that the likes of Jeff Read are that incompetent with weapons does improve my day.

  145. I wasn’t trying to justify the idiot’s handgun technique — only point out that there’s a rationale for holding a handgun sideways besides looking badass. Apparently, side-grip was commonly used with early 20th century automatic pistols for the very purpose of recoil control. Sucks for aim, though.

    ESR says: No. The earlier sideways technique is associated with light submachine guns and stocked machine pistols like the Schmeisser MP40 that had high-cap magazines. There it makes some sense because you’ve got bullets to waste on spray-n’-pray; it make no sense used with a handgun, never did, and never will.

  146. > A laugh riot. Though knowing that the likes of Jeff Read are that incompetent with weapons does improve my day.

    I think there is a certain “lounge chair leftist” mindset that just assumes various Marxist proxy organizations will supply whatever violence is necessary to secure their Utopia. Why should they get their hands dirty when the Morlocks of FARC, FALN, the BPP and the IRA are perfectly willing to do the grunt work? They can supply the poetry and the academic rationales, while their third world clients supply the bullets and the body counts.

    Perhaps all of that benign cheerleading will be taken into consideration when all of those monsters finally come crawling up the well walls, as they invariably do. Then again, perhaps not. Either way, they probably won’t be aiming their guns “gansta style” when they come to collect their hard-earned salary.

  147. > Apparently, side-grip was commonly used with early 20th century automatic pistols for the very purpose of recoil control. Sucks for aim, though.

    It’s not about the “side grip.” It’s about the limp-wristed angle at which TV and movie “gangstas” hold their semis. it’s hard to explain without a picture of one of these dummies, but trust me when I say the form is absolutely laugh out loud funny. It’s a good thing that many of these young men drifted into careers in entertainment, rather than gun crime (well, good for *their own health*, at least).

  148. >This subject is very OT, and is pure stupidity to boot. You made a stupid, indefensible remark, but it’s not as if you can actually do anything to change the way the human race views it’s own offspring.

    Numerous societies, some better than our own, practiced infanticide freely. So much for your assertion. Bizarre that you call this ‘pop science’ when it has nothing to do with science whatsoever. Amusing that you can’t get past all this name calling and so forth to actually justify your position, as it has no justification. This blog’s comment section is always good for a laugh, being populated with such small-minded people.

    ESR says: Only a barbarian could use “some better than our own” and “practiced infanticide freely” in the same sentence.

  149. > Numerous societies, some better than our own, practiced infanticide freely. So much for your assertion.

    How silly of me.

    I’ll get my carpenters straight to work.

  150. Out of a long series of snort-inducing comments, this one actually made me laugh out loud:

    “There’s a reason for the “gangsta style” of wielding a handgun: it helps control recoil when you’re trying to fire off many shots. “

  151. >ESR says: Only a barbarian could use “some better than our own” and “practiced infanticide freely” in the same sentence.

    Again, you provide an uninteresting ad hominem which doesn’t warrant a response. An objective observer can see that you do not have any kind of argument going here.

    ESR says: Fool, you don’t even understand what an “ad hominem” is. I didn’t attempt to refute an argument by insulting you; you didn’t make an argument that could be addressed logically, just an assertion. I uttered the value judgment that anyone who can describe a culture that freely practices infanticide as “superior” to our own is a barbarian. And I’ll stand by that judgment.

  152. > An objective observer can see that you do not have any kind of argument going here.

    Yes, what we need are more objective observers to defend the assertions that “water is dry”, “1=2″ and “superior cultures practice infanticide.” These are all lofty intellectual claims that deserve serious consideration and debate.

  153. Jeff, the most insightful part of your salon.com firearm education (roflcopters) comes near the end.

    It mentions using submachine guns sideways for the expressed purpose of using the recoil plane to spray groups of people.

    Physically it does nothing to reduce recoil.

    For directed fire, it is moronic. It is far more difficult to control….but maybe a brutha only cares about lookin’ badass when he’s bustin’ caps toward the five-O.

    Humans are vertically-oriented targets. Holding your firearm oriente correctly (vertically) will mean that the recoil plane will coincide with the orientation of your target. You may not be able to group your shots perfectly, but sternum, chest, throat & face will do in a pinch. ‘Gangsta style’ will pull your shots wide of the target.

    ‘Gangsta style’ is also more strenuous. Not only do you have to control lateral movement, but you lose the natural vertical stability of the wrist bones. There’s no advantage to be gained in any respect whatsoever.

    ‘Gangsta style’ = future dumbass corpse

  154. If you’re trying to spray a broad swath of jungle with a tommy gun, using the recoil to laterally spread the aiming point might make a little bit of sense. Not for helping with recoiling per se, but for using the recoil in a complimentary fashion with spray and pray… But recoil kicks up for two reasons- the mass of the weapon not being perfectly symmetrically dispersed around the chamber and barrel, and the way we hold it- the basic ergonomics of grip.

    Most firearms have the barrel positioned above and forward of the center of mass, so tend to kick up. Even if you hold it sideways, while it will recoil somewhat towards the gun’s top (tending to rotate around the firearm’s center of mass), your basic stance and the barrel being lighter than the action will still make it apparently kick ‘up’ a bit against gravity.

    If you have a machine pistol with a long skinny magazine forward of the trigger, a grip on the magazine might help steady it in a sideways grip. But that’s not because of the orientation, but rather because you’d be using a two handed grip.

  155. > Jeff, the most insightful part of your salon.com firearm education (roflcopters)…

    I guess I missed (err, skipped) his link. Thanks for the good, ripping laugh, mate! :)

  156. Tony Johnson Says:
    > Numerous societies, some better than our own, practiced infanticide freely.

    Are you claiming they are better because they practice infanticide freely, or despite practicing infanticide freely?

    Perhaps you could share with us which societies you are thinking of. I think we would all like to know.

  157. Off-topic, but the spray and pray bit reminded me: Anybody else notice how those super-competent, computer-program-trained, martial arts wizards in The Matrix were unbelievably incompetent with firearms.

  158. >‘Gangsta style’ = future dumbass corpse

    Indeed. I’ve tried shooting this way as an experiment. jrok is right – pray that if you’re ever in a firefight your opponent is that stupid.

  159. Jessica Boxer said:
    > Are you claiming they are better because they practice infanticide freely, or despite practicing infanticide freely?
    >Perhaps you could share with us which societies you are thinking of. I think we would all like to know.

    Well, Jessica, I can think of one superior society where infanticide is commonplace: a pride of lions. Perhaps Johnson can huddle with one of those and commence his stirring scholarly debate.

  160. I believe the 2nd Amendment “militia” wording is generally understood to mean that, at the time it was written, random citizens had the right to own the same arms that a professional military force would use.

    Extrapolated into the 2000′s, yes the 2nd Amendment does clearly give me the right to bear arms even when those arms are fighter jets and/or nuclear weapons. Those are the weapons that a professional military force would use. Although if I tried to exercise that right today I’d surely be arrested.

    I might (might) be willing to support a new Amendment restricting individuals from owning nuclear weapons. But that possibility, which would involving the weighing of various moral rights, has no effect on my logical analysis of the legal right described in the U.S. Constitution. According to the highest law of the land, any other, lower laws preventing me from owning a nuke are invalid and should be struck down by the courts.

    But the U.S. long ago stopped taking the letter of the law very seriously, especially where the Constitution is concerned.

  161. I’m assuming he’s talking about ancient Greece. Of course, killing wasn’t the only thing this “superior” culture did with kids.

    BTW, this isn’t a categoric rejection of the value of ancient Greece. They had many good points, such as their scientific and political contributions. The thing is–we’ve *improved* since then. The mere fact that Athens was a worthier society than, say, ancient Phoenicia does not mean it’s a worthier society than the USA today. I don’t subscribe to the view that people *always* become more moral over time–but, in the big picture, they usually do. If you read both the Bible and accounts of the Punic Wars, you become aware that *infant sacrifice* was a major political issue in ancient times. Now, not so much. This is because the good guys won.

    In the nineteenth century, people in Western societies were very proud of both their moral and technological progress. And with good reason. It’s an ironic fact that the British Empire, which leftists today regard as a “colonialist” abomination,” was actually largely established in the context of abolishing the slave trade. Perhaps they went a little bit too far with their smug self-satisfaction–but nowhere near as far as people like Tony Johnson go in their own smugly self-satisfied rejection of the society that feeds them.

    Of course, this goes hand in hand with his saying that gun owners are cowards. It’s a typical reaction of adolescents to the people on whom they depend.

  162. Another reason that it is incredibly creepy and revolting to casually suggest that infanticide is OK: infanticide is easily done by a single person. We visitors to this site don’t know if Tony Johnson is just another idiotic leftist talking trash on the Web…or if he has a milllion dollar policy on his daughter. When he talks gun control, no one actually thinks he’s capable of doing anything about it. Infanticide, he sure as hell can.

    It’s like the difference between endorsing the Communist Party and endorsing NAMBLA. More people have been harmed by Communism than by NAMBLA; hell, more children have probably been molested by them. (I understand that Beria, Stalin’s NKVD head, liked to use his power to rape young girls). Nevertheless, some idiot who endorses Che Guevara is unlikely to be able to violently overthrow the government and establish a totalitarian state. Whereas someone who endorses pedophilia is most likely practicing it.

  163. Ken said:
    > I’m assuming he’s talking about ancient Greece. Of course, killing wasn’t the only thing this “superior” culture did with kids.

    Yes and no. The Ancient Greeks reviled the forms of human sacrifice meted out by the Phonecians, Canaanites, Aztecs, etc. But, they did practice “child abandonment” in large numbers, which was tantamount to infanticide while allowing them the cowardly moral fig leaf of eating the meat without killing the lamb.

  164. Jrok: I’m aware of that. That’s why I acknowledged that the Greeks had a superior culture to the Phoenicians.

  165. >Jrok: I’m aware of that. That’s why I acknowledged that the Greeks had a superior culture to the Phoenicians.

    Fair enough. It wasn’t an indictment, just a clarification. And you are right; the Greeks were an improvement over the Phoenicians.

    > We visitors to this site don’t know if Tony Johnson is just another idiotic leftist talking trash on the Web…or if he has a milllion dollar policy on his daughter.

    I don’t think this guy is (necessarily) a leftist. I know of few free world leftists – no matter how scatterbrained – who would openly advocate the murder of six month old infants. And the few who do would pitch their tent on stark Utilitarian soil… not with mealy-mouthed, sophomoric musings about a human child’s “understanding” of life and death.

  166. Ken said:
    > Nevertheless, some idiot who endorses Che Guevara is unlikely to be able to violently overthrow the government and establish a totalitarian state. Whereas someone who endorses pedophilia is most likely practicing it.

    It could also just be a simple case of a bored child. Children often do say plainly outrageous things, play at faux-sophistication, poke at moral boundaries to see how hard they poke back, etc. Unpleasant and irritating, but not necessarily sinister.

    Could also just be a dummy.

  167. >Of course, this goes hand in hand with his saying that gun owners are cowards. It’s a typical reaction of adolescents to the people on whom they depend.

    There is virtually no private gun ownership where I live. Self-defense is achieved primarily with fists and feet. This is incomprehensible to an American, of course. Merely owning a gun does not make one a coward; if you reread my post I referred to Raymond and those like him specifically. That is, people who obsess over gun ownership instead of facing the small chance of being assaulted without an enormous advantage. Remember, this post was made with reference to someone bashing victims of a shooting attack, in which people by-and-large did the right thing and the people who died were taken by surprise. To a coward like Eric, these happenings are unthinkable, because he cannot accept the fact that you can be killed in an instant without any chance to defend yourself, gun or no gun.

  168. >Raymond and those like him specifically. That is, people who obsess over gun ownership instead of facing the small chance of being assaulted without an enormous advantage.

    Heh. In a Bugs Bunny voice:

    “He don’t know me vewy well…do he?”

    I’ll leave it to some of the regulars who know me personally to explain how unintentionally hilarious Mr. Johnson is being.

  169. >… because he cannot accept the fact that you can be killed in an instant without any chance to defend yourself, gun or no gun.

    Did everybody get that? Self defense is cowardice. Training is worthless. Weapons are for bad guys. Courage means accepting your fate at the hands of an enemy. It would mark an interesting addendum to the Boy Scout credo: “Be prepared… to lay down and die!”

  170. Tony Johnson Says:
    > There is virtually no private gun ownership where I live. … This is incomprehensible to an American, of course.

    I think you may be taking some Hollywood movies too seriously. By far, most Americans do not own a gun, and wouldn’t know how to load and fire a gun if they needed to.

  171. techtech Says:
    > By far, most Americans do not own a gun, and wouldn’t know how to load and fire a gun if they needed to.

    …but those of us who consider the individual to be more valuable than the government tend to believe that having an enormous advantage in a battle is just good sense.

  172. Did everybody get that? Self defense is cowardice. Training is worthless. Weapons are for bad guys. Courage means accepting your fate at the hands of an enemy. It would mark an interesting addendum to the Boy Scout credo: “Be prepared… to lay down and die!”

    I’m not sure he’s saying that self-defense is cowardice; I think the people he’s accusing are that mostly hypothetical group that obsess over guns because they are too cowardly to fight hand-to-hand. I am prepared to give Tony the benefit of the doubt for this, at least, because it’s apparent that he doesn’t know much about gun culture. Tony: The response of a person who is paralyzingly frightened by the prospect of hand-to-hand combat is not likely to be ‘buy a gun’ (though that would be a more rational response). It’s usually more along the lines of ‘advocate strong gun control’. Don’t ask me why.

  173. >I think the people he’s accusing are that mostly hypothetical group that obsess over guns because they are too cowardly to fight hand-to-hand.

    Well, I suppose it’s theoretically possible such people exist. All I can say is I’ve never met one. Most of the gunnies I know are men in the old-fashioned sense — little interest in starting a fight, but no fear of finishing one. The exceptions are mainly women who are genuinely afraid of a fight — but they damn well should be, considering the most likely assailants are males with an average 150% strength edge on them.

  174. I’m kinda disappointed none of these neutered sheep have made the ‘penis inadequacy’ connection yet. What is this world coming to?

  175. “There is virtually no private gun ownership where I live. Self-defense is achieved primarily with fists and feet.”

    That is because you are a herd of cattle, fenced in and dominated by your masters. You have no choice but to accept your place. And you are monumental cowards for allowing yourselves to be so pathetically reduced. You are a collective living shame upon humanity.

    “This is incomprehensible to an American, of course. ”

    Fucking right.

  176. >Fucking right.

    Sadly, there are a lot of Americans to whom he is all too comprehensible. Well, at least we have some people who aren’t cattle.

  177. “Sadly, there are a lot of Americans to whom he is all too comprehensible.”

    Indeed…I would argue that those very people are anything but ‘American’…they merely share a happy coincidence of birthplace.

  178. >Indeed…I would argue that those very people are anything but ‘American’…they merely share a happy coincidence of birthplace.

    Now, now, let’s not be unduly nasty. We can’t call anyone un-American for being neurotic and irrationally fearful about guns. We can reasonably dismiss them as pathetic, degraded, and infantile, but they remain our countrymen. Unfortunately.

  179. Self-defense is achieved primarily with fists and feet.

    Criminals tend to attack in groups. And that they tend to pick victims who they don’t think will fight back. James, who writes Hell in a Hand Basket teaches crime victims how to use guns for protection. Many are old, handicapped and female. Fists and feet? Good way to end up hopeless and hospitalized. That link goes to an article about how one of his elderly students solved a tactiacal problem.

    This is another part of a healthy gun culture with which Tony would naturally be unfamiliar because of where he lives. We like to empower the powerless. Like handicapped people, old people and infants. Others like to defend infanticide as something praticed by superior cultures. Superior, slave owning, power worshiping, genocidal cultures, like those of Ancient Greece and Rome. Or maybe Tony has some other superior cultures in mind.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  180. # esr Says:
    > but they [women] damn well should be, considering the
    > most likely assailants are males with an average 150%
    > strength edge on them.

    FWIW, superior strength can readily be overcome by superior skill. The problem for women is a culture that discourages them from learning to fight. I know many women who would get their asses kicked by a guy with less strength even than hers. I also, FWIW, know many women who could drop an assailant twice her size. A strong punch to the throat is going to drop most people, regardless of their size and strength.

    In fact, as you know, the best defense from most fights is to get away quickly, so the true disadvantage for women is the shoes. How are you supposed to run away in three inch heels? It is obviously all part of the oppressive male patriarchy. :-)

  181. Now, now, let’s not be unduly nasty. We can’t call anyone un-American for being neurotic and irrationally fearful about guns. We can reasonably dismiss them as pathetic, degraded, and infantile, but they remain our countrymen. Unfortunately.
    You are a far more gracious and charitable person than I.

    It’s not the “anti-gun” issue, per se, but the mental landscape such opinions reveal, that disqualifies them as “Americans”

    I doubt Jefferson et al would recognize them as ‘countrymen’ in anything other than a literal, physical, geographic sense.

  182. >FWIW, superior strength can readily be overcome by superior skill.

    It’s true, and my wife is an exemplar. 5’2″ in her stockinged feet, but large men underestimate her at their own peril.

    >In fact, as you know, the best defense from most fights is to get away quickly,

    Actually, I think this is a myth that is quite dangerous because it discourages training for effective defense. Wouldn’t help me – I have cerebral palsy and can’t run for shit. Doesn’t help if someone with you is assaulted and doesn’t run or can’t run. Doesn’t help if you’re on broken ground or in an enclosed area.

  183. Actually, I think this is a myth that is quite dangerous

    Yes. Very dangerous. Evasion is not defense.

    It is wise to knowingly avoid trouble, but if trouble is headed your way you had better steel yourself to the task of getting bloody.

    Assuming shooting isn’t an option, given that you look fairly beefy in the shoulders, I’d bet good money on an assailant being severely fucked up if you laid hands on them. Judo?

  184. > And you are monumental cowards for allowing yourselves to be so pathetically reduced. You are a collective living shame upon humanity.

    I suggest using a couple of more insults in such situations, clearly driving home the moral superiority and good manners of nation under the 2nd Amendment.

  185. Dan Says:
    > Yes. Very dangerous. Evasion is not defense.

    Of course evasion is defense. Isn’t that the whole point of a stealth bomber — an aircraft with no defensive weaponry. Isn’t that why a military sniper wears a ghille suit? Isn’t that why big tough Marines guys wear make up? Isn’t that why submarines are a very powerful weapon?

    So, sorry, I don’t agree. Of course there are situations when you need to steel yourself for a fight, but oftentimes the best type of fight is the one you don’t have. A fight is always a huge risk, especially with a random assailant, since you have no idea, generally speaking, what you are up against. No matter how good your martial skills are, there are situations where you are going to loose, and you really can’t readily judge which is which. Personally, I have a black belt in Shorei Ryu Karate, and one of the things that has taught me is that there is ALWAYS someone better than you.

    Some people like to sound tough and macho, and say that they are not afraid of a fight. Frankly, this is bogus, any sensible person should absolutely be afraid of most any fight, even if the circumstances demand that they overcome that fear and engage anyway.

    I think there is a real danger of the testosterone kicking in, and putting yourself in more danger than you need to. All self defense starts between the ears, and making a good judgment as to whether you can get away without blows being exchanged is a vital choice before your hormonal system takes charge of your brain. I’d rather drop my purse and give up $100, than risk $10,000 in hospital bills or worse.

    I know that for many men this is more an honor thing than an economic calculation, and if that is what it takes for you, go for it. However, my sense of self worth in not based on my ability to pummel anyone who might have the audacity to threaten me. However, obviously there are times when the fight is the best of the bad options, and it is important to have the tools, both mental an physical, to deal with that situation.

  186. “FWIW, superior strength can readily be overcome by superior skill. The problem for women is a culture that discourages them from learning to fight. “

    Not really, and yes, exactly.

    Superior skill is an asset, but match two fighters, even if the littler one is better, the stronger one has the advantage. It pays to be realistic about this situation, particularly for women. The second part comes into play here. It’s usually worth while to fight even if you will lose. Winning and losing in a fight have a lot in common. No matter what, you will likely be hurt. Exactly how badly you will be hurt is another question and is very hard to predict. You have to think somewhat economically- the trend is such that if you fight back you will likely not be hurt as badly- don’t give the bad guys an incentive to attack, like weakness or compliance.

    Back to the realism point: What is the intent of the attacker- profit? Rape? Sadism? What is the legal environment? If I kill a guy who is trying to mug me, will I have the law on my side or will they say “he only wanted your wallet, and you can’t use deadly force to defend property”? The best strategy is resistance to bodily harm- what’s the best tactic?

    Should you avoid that neighborhood? Run away? Shoot at them across the street? Let them get close and stab them?

    Sometimes running away may be the best idea. It’s hard to fight OR run in 3″ heels. Not to mention just bad for your health in any situation :)

  187. Jessica, that’s such a jumble of things I both agree and disagree with I don’t know where to start ;)

    I think you are most profoundly wrong about ‘evasion’ All the examples you gave are definitive in the manner in which they avoid having to defend themselves. This can often be a good thing, but it should never be mistaken for actual defense.

    I too am a skilled martial artist, in a couple of disciplines, and I know all too well the value of dumping the male testosterone-fueled ego. Through my training, I know when to throw the switch and explode into combat….and when not to.

    I’m happy to walk away and perhaps be thought a coward. I’m happy to make smart decisions that keep my family and I out of the path of trouble. But I don’t fool myself into thinking that any of that constitutes a defense – precaution & evasion, yes. ‘Defense’ is what my family does with slug-loaded shotguns and large caliber pistols.

  188. >Assuming shooting isn’t an option, given that you look fairly beefy in the shoulders, I’d bet good money on an assailant being severely fucked up if you laid hands on them. Judo?

    Hm, I guess you’re new here. TKD black belt with significant skills in aikido, wing chun, and MMA; also three different sword forms, Marine-style knife fighting, and some odds and ends like halberd/naginata and Philippine escrima. And the beef isn’t an illusion; I have poor mobility but am exceptionally strong in the arms, shoulders, and upper torso. Which is to say, yeah, if I get to close with anyone who’s not exceptionally skilled they’ll be in a world of hurt.

  189. >Frankly, this is bogus, any sensible person should absolutely be afraid of most any fight,

    Why? It’s really fairly difficult for a human to do serious damage to another barehanded. Anyone who isn’t specifically trained to deliver focused soft-tissue strikes is going to fall back on an instinctive fighting style that tends to produce bruises and light bleeding and not much else. Of course if weapons are involved it’s a different matter, but you said “most any fight”.

    If you are trained for hand-to-hand, it’s pretty rare that you’re ever in a situation where you have no idea what you are up against. Untrained fighters are easy to spot right off; they move poorly, they strike inefficiently, and they don’t commit to an attack. It’s going to sound like I’m boasting, but it’s a cold fact: for anyone with even half my level of training untrained fighters are pretty much lunchmeat. The only way they can win is with a disabler delivered by surprise before I know I’m in a fight.

    You’re quite right that adrenergic arousal can take over and fuck up your responses. This is why martial artists spar; it’s not just about perfecting technique, it’s about learning to control and ride your adrenergic reaction rather than allowing it to master you.

  190. I agree with Jessica: I am willing to pay a price to avoid a fight, because a fight always has a non-trivial risk of injury. Or the consequences of winning a fight might be greater than you’d like to suffer. Maybe the dude has friends? Maybe he has a weak heart and the merest touch will kill him? Maybe he has a weapon you don’t see.

  191. >I agree with Jessica: I am willing to pay a price to avoid a fight, because a fight always has a non-trivial risk of injury. Or the consequences of winning a fight might be greater than you’d like to suffer.

    These are reasons for caution. They are not reasons for fear. Fear stops thinking; if you “fear” combat, as Jessica thinks anyone should, you can’t do rational evaluation of your odds and the consequences.

    I think I have had to learn to be more realistic than most people about this because my mobility sucks. If I can’t talk my way out of a fight, running isn’t going to work — so fear isn’t useful to me. When you have CP it’s nature’s way of urging you to epic-fail.

  192. esr Says:
    >Why? It’s really fairly difficult for a human to do serious damage to another barehanded.

    You would see why if you look at the context of what I wrote. In any fight you never know what you are going to get until you are pretty committed to the fight. I don’t doubt for a moment your claim to be a tough guy, but all your upper body muscle isn’t going to stop a 38 caliber round from a gun you didn’t see, and tough as you may be, I doubt you will have much of a chance if Mr. “Lunchmeat” has brought his buddies Mr. Steak and Mr. Kidney and their gang of six others.

    That is the point. You should be afraid of the fight because every fight brings with it many potentially dangerous unknowns.

    See, as I said, one thing I learned from martial arts training is that there is always someone better than you. The other thing I learned is that when someone punches you or kicks you it really hurts. And the third thing I learned is that a seemingly innocuous hit, even an accidental one, can do an amazing amount of long term or permanent damage to a body.

    Every week I train kids in martial arts. Every week I tell them that they should first choose to walk away rather than fight if they can. Do you think I am wrong teaching them that?

  193. esr Says:
    > if you “fear” combat, as Jessica thinks anyone should,
    > you can’t do rational evaluation of your odds and the consequences.

    Perhaps you and I are not on the same plane with the word fear. I am not talking about a paralyzing fear, an emotional fear so to speak, but rather a rational judgment of fear. I agree that in a difficult situation fear can be dangerous, though it is nature’s way of focusing the mind, which when managed properly is beneficial.

  194. Russell Nelson Says:
    > I agree with Jessica: I am willing to pay a price to avoid a fight,

    Indeed, however I am not willing to pay ANY price to avoid a fight. A purse with $100, some lip gloss and a cheap cell phone is one thing, but there is a point when the cost of fighting is less than the cost of not fighting. For instance if you want to rape me that is not a price I am willing to pay. In most cases, I assure you, I will render you incapable of doing so.

  195. In most cases, I assure you, I will render you incapable of doing so.

    I swear I’m not trying to be sleazy here….but what is it about ‘sheepdogs’ that finds strong kick-ass women so damned attractive? (polite tip o’the hat in Jessica’s direction)

    I love watching my wife shoot. I get a rush reading my NRA mags with stories of women wasting the bad guy, or photos of ladies competitive IDPA shooting.

    There’s something about a woman that doesn’t take shit from anyone that maxxes-out my respect and affection……

    Who the hell would want a wussy princess?

  196. Hm, I guess you’re new here. TKD black belt with significant skills….

    New-ish. I read something about sword camp and figured you knew what you were talking about.

    You have far broader experience than I. I’m a Starbrooks/Jacks era judoka, blended with shurinji kenpo, a smattering of aikido and knife-fighting thrown in for seasoning.

    I only asked about judo because I have trained with guys that had mobility issues, and they were all built like you and were very brutal when I so much as blinked ;) I still have a clicking hip to prove it!

  197. The constitution was written in a time of revolution, circumstances have changed. The US is in a unique position in that it spans a continent and is thus extremely difficult to attack in any kind of conventional war, ie leaving out long-range missile attacks. So egging everyone on to arm themselves is silly, what matters is that they have the option should they choose to exercise it. As for Jessica’s point about owning nukes, I think that’s an interesting fault line between the libertarians and the anarchists. The libertarians raise some extreme situations like that to justify some govt intervention- I understand that sentiment well as I was formerly a libertarian who supported some form of gun control- while the anarchists are so anti-statist, they cannot brook even those exceptions. The fact remains that we have created technology so powerful this century, and keep creating more, that we have become much more interventionist, that is after all the stated reason to go into Afghanistan and Iraq, and allowed much more surveillance as a result, with the Patriot act and other measures like wiretapping. It is probably inevitable that such interventionism/surveillance will grow, if only because it’s becoming so cheap, so it’s important that we think carefully about who does it and try to get the state out of it as much as possible. If Bill Gates tried to get a nuke, I think it’s inevitable that some group would try to roll him before he could use it: I’d just prefer that it were done by a collection of private police agencies rather than a state that could then abuse that power in other ways.

  198. Jessica: I agree with you about the field of economics. It’s as if astrology and astronomy were both able to confer degrees in astronomy. Part of the problem is that Real Economists (the ones who know that demand curves slope down) know DAMNED well how to run a prosperous society, but it’s not the economists who run the society. It’s politicians, and they don’t care how prosperous society is — they only care that they be able to control it.

    Keynes, (Paul) Samuelson, Stiglitz, and Krugman have degrees in astrology (what is it about the MIT
    economics department that makes me think they’re all a bunch of loons and flakes?)

  199. jrok Says:
    But, they did practice “child abandonment” in large numbers, which was tantamount to infanticide while allowing them the cowardly moral fig leaf of eating the meat without killing the lamb.

    If I were looking for examples of infanticide in ancient Greece, i’d look in a certain chasm at Mount Taygetus (affectionately known as Mount Toddler Toss but some of the greek re-enactors I know) where the Spartans would throw infants that were deemed “puny or deformed” as a primitive form of Eugenics.

  200. Alsadius: sure, Economics in One Lesson is a great book. But while you can teach people good economics, it takes practice to internalize those ideas. Plus, economics is subtle. Until you learn to think like an economist, it’s very difficult to do economics.

  201. >but all your upper body muscle isn’t going to stop a 38 caliber round from a gun you didn’t see,

    I know that. I was taking exception to your universal claim that a fight is always something to be feared. If it’s empty-hand, and you know what you’re doing, and the other guy clearly doesn’t, not really. Weapons, of course, change the whole game.

    >Every week I tell them that they should first choose to walk away rather than fight if they can. Do you think I am wrong teaching them that?

    It depends on what your emphasis is. If the effect of your teaching is to make them fearful, or to suggest that running is morally superior to fighting, then yes I’d say that’s a wrong thing. If you’re teaching them that walking away is pragmatically a better choice in a situation where you can, and don’t have anyone else to defend, and there are significant tactical unknowns, then I agree with that.

    It’s also better advice for children than for adults. I think there are times when an adult should fight even if he/she is able to run. Defending your home, for example, or if someone tries to mug you in your neighborhood. If you are trained and competent, part of your responsibility is to use that competence to put a hurt on criminals who invade your home and neighborhood so that they (and others) learn there is a cost to paying the would-be predator. When we fail to do that, we are rewarding the predators.

    I’m not advocating taking crazy chances, I’m just saying there are ethical reasons to prefer fighting in some circumstances. It’s not a judgment we should expect children to make, but it is one we should expect of adults.

  202. What do you call terrorism?
    The USA attack on Irak for very bad reasons?

    Furthermore, I think that allowing guns in a plane will help people to defend themselves but will offer at the same time so many opportunities for “terrorists”.

    No your argument for guns is not that conclusive.

  203. > What do you call terrorism? The USA attack on Irak for very bad reasons?

    “Iraq”… for crying out loud.

    > Furthermore, I think that allowing guns in a plane will help people to defend themselves but will offer at the same time so many opportunities for “terrorists”.

    Why are “terrorists” in “quotes?”

    > No your(YOU’RE) argument for guns is not that conclusive

    Eric’s argument may have a few problems, but the kernel is sound. The system didn’t “run smoothly,” and once again citizens had to save the day. An armed, trained and righteous populace might have less to worry about from troublemakers (although I suspect the next “man-made disaster causer will cause his “disaster” while in the shitter, nullifying any arms advantage).

  204. jrok, while I agree with much of what you say, picking on somebody over ESL is lame. In some countries it is Irak. Sadly your correction of “your” to “you’re” is simply incorrect. His sentence would have been better with a comma but the “your” is correct.

    Eric? Small niggle. The MP40 and Hugo Schmeisser had nothing to do with each other. While Schmeisser was the original designer of the MP18 the MP36 (predecessor of the MP40) was an ERMA design. Schmeisser had more to do with the AK47 than the MP40.

    foodige? While you may find it difficult to believe, not everybody was in favor of invading Iraq over “WMD.” Myself, I was fine with the invasion over his killing of the Kurds and his invasion of Kuwait. Let’s put it this way – when they called “all aboard the invasion bus” I took a seat. When they decided they needed more passengers they brought up WMDs. That may have been the motivation for others to board the bus but not everyone. So, no, not “very bad reasons.” I was, and am, happy he’s gone. I’ve even happier his sons are dead.

    While I’m touring the comments. Somebody mentioned aircraft depressurization. I suggest a study of B-29s over Korea would be enlightening. MIG-15s shot some big holes in them. Many survived.

    Last point. “A well regulated militia.” The word “regulated” has morphed in meaning. It didn’t mean “a lot of written rules” back then. It meant “well running.” If you wish to explore that, look at antique clocks. They all have “regulated” on them. No rules though.

  205. Umm, in this case, as in many others, I think that the Founders got it right the first time.

    That is, volunteers only for foreign wars, and everybody shows up for militia drill or he doesn’t get to vote.

    Who was it who said that the Swiss militia system was the best school for citizenship in the world.? I dunno. Anyway, Albert Einstein wanted to be a Swiss Militiaman, but failed the physical exam.

    The Founders imagined a Militia of the Whole, which required that all who wished to participate politically in society should also participate in the militia, which included all free men, willy-nilly. The “National Guard” which we have these days is at best a select militia, a thing much deprecated by the founders.

  206. esr, the Second Amendment and the piece of legislation you quote are obviously correct in that a nation in arms commands more respect from any government than if it were defended only by a standing army.

    Aristocracy, the community of the armed people, was not governed by the principle of individual liberty; instead it was based on the allegiance towards one’s superior officer, the suzerain, and honor resulted from loyalty.

    While aristocrats may not have heard of liberty, the soldiers of last century’s World Wars were fully aware of democracy, human rights and the constitutional systems. Yet, after the wars, their solution to the social problems has most often been socialism in more or less anti-Liberal guise.

    My point is that merely being familiar with the use of arms is not enough to become a fully functional citizen while in cases such as flight 253 the skills of handling a gun were not even needed as such.

    Could you please elaborate on when (or how) a person skilled in the use of arms is more likely to become part of a freedom-defending “well-regulated militia” rather than of a totalitarian, hierarchical armed group.

  207. P.s. A Militia of the Whole requires a citizen to interact with his neighbors on regular occasions, be they richer or poorer than he, or congenial or grumpy, it requires all who wish to participate in the polity to play nice with each other while armed, and thus develop in their minds a sense of interdependent community. Now that’s _real_ communitarianism.

  208. P.p.s. It’s been more than a decade since I passed the age of 45 of my years, So I don’t have to attend militia meetings. In fact, I don’t even own a rifle of an “electoral” caliber. (The .22 Marlin might be useful for getting food, the way things seem to be going.)

    I absolutely refuse to say what kinds of small handy metallic defensive objects I may or may not keep near my bedside. Hey, I’m an old guy, and small, and out of shape, and pretty much all alone in the world!

    I cannot afford to engage in a fair fight!

  209. >Could you please elaborate on when (or how) a person skilled in the use of arms is more likely to become part of a freedom-defending “well-regulated militia” rather than of a totalitarian, hierarchical armed group.

    I should think that was obvious. The difference is one of core beliefs and political culture. U.S. military officers and naturalizing citizens don’t swear loyalty to a superior officer or suzerain but to the Constitution of the United States. This is a difference that matters.

  210. I cannot afford to engage in a fair fight!

    What’s “fair” about any of it?

    ‘Fairness’ implies some concept of rules and sportsmanship, none of which applies outside the sanitary world of sport-fighting. ;)

  211. >‘Fairness’ implies some concept of rules and sportsmanship, none of which applies outside the sanitary world of sport-fighting. ;)

    Not quite. There are some other kinds of fights that are governed by important conventions resembling sportsmanship. For example, those fights between adolescent males and young men raised in civilized conditions which occur as the result of a challenge or calling-out.

  212. I know what you mean….the ‘young buck’ conflicts….still, there’s a cultural concept of ‘rules’ at play even then – no ball hits, don’t kick a man when he’s down etc

    Whatever, it’s sufficient to establish a common concept of ‘fairness’ between combatants….breach of which has varying social consequences.

    There are no such rules on the ‘street’….not the streets I’ve had to chew my way through, anyway ;)

  213. So men between 17 and 45 can carry guns.

    Yet you’re 52 (having recently celebrated a birthday), so…

    give yer guns back already.

  214. >>Could you please elaborate on when (or how) a person skilled in the use of arms is more likely to become part of a freedom-defending “well-regulated militia” rather than of a totalitarian, hierarchical armed group.

    >I should think that was obvious. The difference is one of core beliefs and political culture. U.S. military officers and naturalizing citizens don’t swear loyalty to a superior officer or suzerain but to the Constitution of the United States. This is a difference that matters.

    Also, in a society where the RKBA is respected, becoming skilled in the use of arms doesn’t put one so much above the “common herd.” If one has to jump through a bunch of legal hoops to acquire firearms, then by doing so one becomes initiated into an elite crypto-aristocracy. But if any Tom, Dick, or Mary can go down to the local hardware store and pick up a firearm or three & a supply of ammunition for them, then having guns and knowing how to use them isn’t such a big deal. It’s potentially useful, yes, but not something that makes you special.

    When the RKBA gets regularly violated by the government, then becoming skilled in the use of arms does correlate with becoming part of a totalitarian, hierarchical armed group. See, for example the big-city police departments in those big cities where the gun-control screws have been turned the hardest – LA, NYC, Chicago… That’s one reason why respecting the RKBA is so important.

  215. >So men between 17 and 45 can carry guns.

    The founders of the U.S. did not intend RKBA to be limited to the unorganized militia, because they understood that a healthy gun culture including all of society was a necessary ground for the function of the militia. The Heller ruling in 2008 also made no such restriction.

  216. The founders of the US didn’t consider anyone who wasn’t a white male worthy of citizenship. For example, the Dred Scott case or Cruikshank.

    Moreover, the Presser decision upheld that citizens have no right to create their own militias or to own weapons for semi-military purposes.

  217. > The founders of the U.S. did not intend RKBA to be limited to the unorganized militia

    I’d go further: “RKBA limited to the militia” is an oxymoron. One of the distinguishing features of a militia is that it’s armed with those weapons that ordinary people have a recognized RKBA to. If a “militia” is armed with weapons that only members of the “militia” can have, then it isn’t a militia at all, but some other sort of paramilitary group.

    (And has anyone else noticed how the MSM suddenly started using the term “militia” to refer to those other sorts of paramilitary groups, some years back? I smell culture war.)

  218. The founders of the US didn’t consider anyone who wasn’t a white male worthy of citizenship. For example, the Dred Scott case or Cruikshank.

    That’s not true. Slaves were considered private property. In the Dred Scott decision, SCOTUS held that though pursuant to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 slavery was illegal in “free states” like Missouri, Scott’s owner did not lose his property simply by taking him into a free state. While the majority opinion expressed that those of African descent were considered “inferior” and ineligible for citizenship by the Constitution’s framers, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Framers saw it that way. In fact, the dissenting opinions noted that the none of the Framers had ever objected to the anti-slavery provisions of the Northwest Ordinance.

  219. >In fact, the dissenting opinions noted that the none of the Framers had ever objected to the anti-slavery provisions of the Northwest Ordinance.

    That is true. The record of the debate makes this clear. Most of the framers of the Constitution were anti-slavery; they made a painful bargain with the slaveholding plantocracy to hold the infant republic together. Even most of the planters, in 1787, did not envision extending slavery to new territories; their defense of it was essentially conservative rather than ideological, and class-based rather than racist (at the time a large minority of slaves were still white). The “peculiar institution” didn’t create an ideology around itself and develop strong racist coupling until the 1830s at the earliest.

  220. morgan and esr both fail to address United States v. Cruikshank.

    morgan attempts (and esr attempts to back) the position that the dred scott case was about chattel.

    The Dred Scott Decision, was a decision by the United States Supreme Court that ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, *and their descendants* **whether or not they were slaves** were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States.

    It also held that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories.
    (It held that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional.)

    The Court also ruled that because slaves were not citizens, they could not sue in court.

    And yes, the Court ruled that slaves, as chattel or private property, could not be taken away from their owners without due process.

    Tully wrote the opinion, including this:

    “We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included…. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race…; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit…. [A]ccordingly, a Negro of the African race was regarded … as an article of property, and held, and bought and sold as such…. [N]o one seems to have doubted the correctness of the prevailing opinion of the time.”

    That was more than 70 years after the Constitution was ratified.

    Did McLean and Curtis dissent? Yes, though McLean concluded that the argument that Scott was not a citizen was “more a matter of taste than of law.”

    Women did not gain the right to vote for over a hundred and thirty years after the Constitution was ratified.

    I find it useless to argue with an uneducated (presumably white) man.

    As for your comments, Eric, while some members of the Constitutional Convention voiced eloquent objections to slavery, Thurgood Marshall condemned them, saying they “consented to a document which laid a foundation for the tragic events which were to follow.”
    He also called the government created by the Constitution, “defective from the start”.

    Addressing your “Most of the framers … were anti-slavery”, of the 55 Convention delegates, 25 owned slaves. Twelve owned or managed slave-operated plantations or large farms: Bassett, Blair, Blount, Butler, Carroll, Jenifer, Jefferson, Mason, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Rutledge, Spaight, and Washington. Madison also owned slaves.

    Others, including Benjamin Franklin were former slave-owners. Franklin owned two slaves, but freed them prior to the Convention.

    This may be ‘most’, but it is also “nearly half”.

    The word “slave” does not appear in the Constitution. The framers consciously avoided the word, recognizing that it would sully the document. Nevertheless, slavery received important protections in the Constitution. The notorious Three-fifths clause (which counted three-fifths of the slave population in apportioning representation) gave the South extra representation in the House and extra votes in the Electoral College. Thomas Jefferson would have lost the election of 1800 without the Three-fifths compromise.

    The Constitution also prohibited Congress from outlawing the Atlantic slave trade for twenty years.

    A fugitive slave clause required the return of runaway slaves to their owners.

    The Constitution gave the federal government the power to put down domestic rebellions, including slave insurrections.

    During the Convention, on August 21, 1787, a bitter debate broke out over a South Carolina proposal to prohibit the federal government from regulating the Atlantic slave trade. This controversy was ultimately settled by compromise. In exchange for the 20-year ban on any restrictions on the Atlantic slave trade, southern delegates agreed to remove a clause restricting the national government’s power to enact laws requiring goods to be shipped on American vessels (benefiting northeastern shipbuilders and sailors). The same day this agreement was reached, the convention also adopted the fugitive slave clause.

    Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison claimed the Constitution a proslavery document when he burned the document in 1854 and called it “a covenant with death and an agreement with Hell”.

    And finally, again, Justice Marshall:


    What is striking is the role legal principles have played throughout America’s history in determining the condition of Negroes. They were enslaved by law, emancipated by law, disenfranchised and segregated by law; and, finally, they have begun to win equality by law. Along the way, new constitutional principles have emerged to meet the challenges of a changing society. The progress has been dramatic, and it will continue.

    The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 could not have envisioned these changes. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendent of an African slave. We the People” no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of “liberty,” “justice,” and “equality,” and who strived to better them.

  221. >morgan attempts (and esr attempts to back) the position that the dred scott case was about chattel.

    I said no such thing. I was concerned only to refute your earlier claim that the framers of the constitution “didn’t consider anyone who wasn’t a white male worthy of citizenship”. This is demonstrably not true, as free black men fought in the Revolution from its earliest moments and their right to citizenship in the new republic was never once questioned. Furthermore, members of the Five Civilized Tribes of early-assimilated Amerinds were already not only citizens but landowners and slaveholders well before the Dred Scott case.

    You have been projecting on the framers a form of racialism that did not evolve until about 50 years after the Constitutional Convention, because like most Americans you suffer under the delusion that Southern slavery was in origin the simple whites-on-top, blacks-on-the-bottom system that it became in the mid-19th century. It was not; in the earlier period, in the U.S. it was a development of indenture and penal servitude that mainly victimized other white people — rather especially the Irish.

    Slavery became identified with blackness, and vice-versa, only after Caribbean planters discovered that blacks stood the stress of stoop labor in a tropical climate much better than whites did. The U.S.’s plantocracy then essentially imported the Caribbean model — discarding, for example, attempts to enslave Amerinds because they would simply die in captivity rather than break to the whip.

    To be as clear as possible, I am specifically denying that the odious racialism of Dred Scott was even a significant minority position at the Constitutional Convention. Had it been, the citizenship of free black men would have been a subject of debate. It was not.

  222. Exactly, esr! The modern left’s usual characterization of slavery and its role in the history of the United States ignores large swaths of history, which is ironic considering the history of the Democratic Party, which was essentially formed to protect the institution of slavery — states’ rights. Slavery was an institution that caused many tensions in America from the earliest days of the colonies and through to the modern era. While there was much debate over the serving of slaves, the only debate over the serving of black men at all came from a few slave holders (some slaves had even been enlisted as well). General Washington had, thus, later ordered that negroes (the term he used) would no longer be recruited in the Continental Army; largely he had caved to pressures from those few wealthy slave holders. It’s important to remember that slave holders, from the earliest days of the country, were necessarily wealthy elites of much influence. Purchasing a slave was a luxury few could afford.

    Jake (and everyone else holding Jake’s position): When esr uses the term ‘plantocracy’ he’s referring to the agrarian elites of the South, which held a lot of power from around the 1850s onward. The central debate that led to the U.S. Civil War started from even before the U.S. Constitution was written. And it was not about slavery so much as it was about states rights vs. a strong federal government. This is a debate that still rages on today, despite the abolishment of slavery.

    In any respect, the citizenship status of free black men was never in question in the early days of the country, and many free black men did serve as Minutemen.

  223. Jake Fischer writes:

    I find it useless to argue with an uneducated (presumably white) man.

    Uneducated? How does refuting lefty revisionist history constitute being ‘uneducated’? I am sick of people trying to rewrite the history of the United States in order to further their own misguided political agendas, both on the left and on the right. For example, the left’s usual attempts to paint the Constitution as an archaic, outdated document that no longer applies to the modern world is completely ridiculous and without merit. Not only that, but I find this attitude to be utterly frightening. It is the Constitution that guarantees your right to speak your claptrap in the first place; it is the Constitution that men and women have fought and died to protect in order to guarantee your freedom. Or perhaps you’d prefer it if the Constitution were replaced by a more modern document like, say, Mein Kampf?

  224. “Slavery became identified with blackness, and vice-versa, only after Caribbean planters discovered that blacks stood the stress of stoop labor in a tropical climate much better than whites did.”

    Not just stoop labor, any labor at all. Tropical disease was epidemic and it was felt to affect whites whereas blacks were immune. During the Spanish/American war they budgeted the following:

    “For ten regiments, immunes, one million two hundred and fifty-five thousand six hundred and sixty dollars.”

    “Immunes” being black. It was felt they were immune to the tropical diseases which were decimating the “white” soldiers in Cuba.

  225. @ESR
    Re: Miller

    It doesn’t really matter is Miller is routinely ignored because the courts don’t want to allow machine guns as would be implied by the ruling.

  226. “gangsta-style” only makes sense when firing a fully automatic weapon at a line of people, so the muzzle rise makes the gun sweep. In general its pretty stupid.

  227. Oh, SomeDude? I’ve always thought that the “Jamaican” accent (sounds right Scots-like) is the only vestige left of the original white slaves there, who all died of tropical diseases.

  228. >>“There is virtually no private gun ownership where I live. Self-defense is achieved primarily with fists and feet.”

    >That is because you are a herd of cattle, fenced in and dominated by your masters.
    >You have no choice but to accept your place. And you are monumental cowards for
    >allowing yourselves to be so pathetically reduced. You are a collective living shame upon humanity.

    I think you malign the other poster. I interpret when he says not to disparage our right, but attempt to say he wishes his right of self defense were recognized properly in India; and that we should jealously guard our second amendment rights because he’s got first hand experience with what happens when your rights are disabled and it’s not good.

    I have several coworkers from India who have said exactly that, and one who is pursuing citizenship because of our excellent, liberal RKBA.

  229. “gangsta-style” only makes sense when firing a fully automatic weapon at a line of people, so the muzzle rise makes the gun sweep. In general its pretty stupid.

    So is the gangsta’s typical use case for a firearm (keep shooting till you hit something). And I was wrong anyway: guns were rarely held like that in the streets until Menace II Society came out.

  230. Coffee Achiever says:

    I think you malign the other poster. I interpret when he says not to disparage our right, but attempt to say he wishes his right of self defense were recognized properly in India;

    Am I missing something? Where did Tony Johnson ever say he was from India? All he said is that there virtually no private gun ownership where he lives. From the context, I think the guy’s from outside the United States, but I don’t think he ever said he was from India.

    FWIW, if he were from the United States, his statement would still be true. Private gun owners are a minority in most areas of the country, albeit a very vocal one. In a 1994 survey cited here, only 25% of Americans surveyed owned a gun. I suspect that that statistic would be a bit higher today. Maybe around 35%. I’ve seen other surveys that claim as high as 40-60%, but I suspect that these results are skewed. (FWIW, I’m an ardent supporter of the RKBA)

  231. Pingback: What if Glenn Beck is Right? – Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center

  232. Pingback: What if Glenn Beck is Right? – Tenth Amendment Center Blog

  233. I have an odd dilemma here. I basically
    agree with your position that people should be responsible for their self-defense. So I decided to learn to shoot. The problem? I’m bad at it. I’ve always been clumsy — I’ve never been as good as “normal” people at figuring out mechanical things. I can’t hold the rifle still enough to get anything that could be called a cluster. It might be worth practicing some more, but it may turn out that I’m just never going to be good enough for a gun to make me safer rather than less safe. Why don’t you allow for some division of labor in self-defense?

  234. >Why don’t you allow for some division of labor in self-defense?

    Thank you for that question. It is fair, and I will try to answer it fairly.

    First, I think you have already passed one of the most important ethical tests of adulthood by being willing to take responsibility for your own self defense. Under most circumstances short of immediate criminal threat or actual breakdown in civil order, the psychological and political consequences of a self-reliant posture of mind are more important than the ability to shoot or fight empty-hand.

    Of course, if you do have to cope with immediate criminal threat or actual breakdown in civil order, you’re in a kind of trouble a physically competent person wouldn’t be. But then, so would I be in a different way; my cerebral palsy limits my ability to run from danger. Reality bites, and we have to cope with it as best we can, and sometimes we suffer or die for reasons that can’t be helped. This harsh truth does nothing to diminish the value of taking responsibility for one’s self-defense. The mind is the first weapon; the person who is mentally and morally prepared to act effectively in a clutch has better survival odds than the person who isn’t.

    Second, you’re operating under a misapprehension. I do allow for some division of labor; when I got my second assassination threat I called the police and the FBI. Yes, I take responsibility for my own self-defense; I know that when seconds count, often the police are minutes away. But I use all the tools at my disposal, not just my own mind and my own weapons. If I can stop a threat before it reaches the point at which I have to deal with it personally, so much the better.

    The deadly mistake is not using the police and the FBI as part of your self-defense strategy, it is falling into a condition of psychological, moral, and political passivity. Such passivity leaves you unable to cope when a threat reaches your personal space. It has bad effects on the public sphere as well; you concede too much to those who are willing to use force.

    I might turn this into a blog post.

  235. Thanks for your response — that seems like a practical attitude. I think I’m going to work on learning to shoot as well as I’m able and if that still turns out to be “not so good” then I’ll just work under the assumption that that’s not a tool available to me. Incidentally I always found it weird that people try to believe they *don’t* have agency — wouldn’t you be glad to know you had the power to affect a situation positively?

  236. Pingback: Escalating Complexity and the Collapse of Elite Authority | Air & Space

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> <pre lang="" line="" escaped="" highlight="">