A civil rights victory

Today we scored what may be the most important civil-rights victory since the Heller ruling in 2008. Woollard v. Sheridan was found for the plaintiffs, and
Maryland’s law requiring concealed-carry applicants to show “good and substantial reason” for their permit applications has been found unconstitutional.

Consitutional carry – no permit at all required, as in Vermont, Alaska, Wyoming, and Arizona – would of course be better. But the remarkable thing about this decision is the judge’s language in striking down the Maryland restrictions.

Key sentences: “The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home” and “A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

The standard the judge is setting up for the constitutionality of firearms laws comes very near the “strict scrutiny” standard associated with First Amendment law. While the judge did not use the phrase “strict scrutiny”, he cited among reasons to strike down the law that it is not sufficiently narrowly tailored to the state’s public safety interests – a classic strict-scrutiny argument.

The decision will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit appellate court, which has only a mixed record on Second-Amendment issues. But the plain and powerful language of the judge’s opinion will be difficult to overturn without outright ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling in D.C. vs. Heller, setting the appellate court up for reversal.

This is a major victory for civil rights, argued by the same Alan Gura who won the D.C. vs. Heller case. With eleven mores states considering constitutional carry and a national right-to-carry reciprocity bill live in Congress, the legal climate around firearms rights is steadily improving.

95 thoughts on “A civil rights victory

  1. Colorado Supreme Court also confirmed that the University of Colorado had to obey state law and could not make up its own rules in contravention of the legislature. The specific issue being that the state concealed weapon permit does not allow the holder to carry concealed on K through 12 elementary schools but there is no exception for public universities – so now CHP holders may carry concealed on university grounds.

  2. @SPQR: Seems sensible. Especially when considering that college students are very often also ROTC. If you trust them to carry in defense of the nation…

    On a pragmatic note, I do hope they handle their guns maturely around parties at UC. All it would take is one drunk student to decide to shoot someone and deal the issue a PR punch to the groin. (Hopefully if that were to happen, he gets talked down by a woman carrying another gun before he gets a shot off…)

  3. Paul,

    There are lots of restrictions on Concealed Carry holders in Colorado which should (and did) mitigate that problem. There have been ZERO problems on all the other campuses (campii?) in Colorado. CU was the lone holdout. The Colorado County Sheriffs were in favor of Concealed Carry as specified by Colorado law on campus.

    Yours,
    Tom

  4. “All it would take is one drunk student to decide to shoot someone and deal the issue a PR punch to the groin.”

    Very true. It’s not just that, there’s always the troubled teen that shoots up a school, the lunatic that shoots up a shopping center, the peaceful, law-abiding armed citizen that shoots someone by mistake, etc….

    Unless a general attitude among the people towards guns develops like that about automobiles (“Yes they kill 40-50,000 Americans yearly, but they are very useful, so we accept that…”), you can be sure of an unending supply of media horror stories until the political pressure builds for a complete reversal of such court decisions.

    Yes, I know that the courts are supposed to be insulated from political pressure, but the Supreme Court makes its decisions “with one eye on the election returns”, as Mr. Dooley used to say.

  5. @LS
    > Unless a general attitude among the people towards guns develops like that about
    > automobiles (“Yes they kill 40-50,000 Americans yearly, but they are very useful,
    > so we accept that…”)

    The number has been on a steady decline for some years, and is now in the low 30s, mainly due to improvements in automobile safety (sadly, this was due as much or more to government regs as to consumer demand).

    Your point stands, however.

  6. @LS:

    > “Yes they kill 40-50,000 Americans yearly, but they are very useful, so we accept that…”

    It will be interesting to see if this attitude develops. Most Americans are smart enough to know that a gun is useful when someone bad has a gun, but some just cannot seem to make the connection between government and potentially bad behavior.

    So when government is unalloyed goodness, the answer is “obvious” — take away all the guns from the bad people. And logic fails to sway this. Police didn’t respond in time? Well, it wouldn’t have mattered if the bad guys didn’t have guns. A bad cop kills somebody? Well, cops have a very stressful job, but you’re right — we need to do a better job of weeding the bad ones out. Someone kills a bad cop? Send ‘em to jail forever — they shouldn’t have had a gun and by all rights should be dead by now anyway.

  7. Do you think that the Supreme Court will hear the appeal of the Fourth Circuit’s inevitable reversal? I’m not so sanguine, myself. I do think that if they hear it, the results will be good, but realistically speaking, has the situation gotten to the point where the Supreme Court will hear the appeal? Are there conflicting opinions among the Circuits, for example?

  8. “The number has been on a steady decline for some years, and is now in the low 30s, mainly due to improvements in automobile safety”

    …and, probably, the high cost of gasoline. I understand that we Americans are driving less and less, nowadays. As Glenn Reynolds would say, “The government’s Grand Conservation Plan is working!”.

  9. Been out of the civilized world again for awhile and just getting back and caught up on my reading. As a resident of Maryland and Virginia, this is most pleasant to return to. Having to shuffle gear before crossing state lines is annoying. The DC ruling was an interesting and welcome event as well but need to see how it actually plays out and to continue the push. When I find myself in Northern VA, you have to be very careful because numerous roads cross in and out of DC, so the reciprocal issue is very important too.

    With all current various “ends-in-A” legislation being attempted, its good to see some serious pushback for increasing/regaining freedoms that are I believe are legitimate civil rights issues.

  10. WCC on Monday, March 5 2012 at 10:31 pm said: With all current various “ends-in-A” legislation being attempted…

    Say what? I completely fail to catch the allusion. What “ends in A”? Marijuana? Schizophrenia? Alabama? Hoplophobia? It must be an entire category of things… Any and all proposed laws moved by “phobias”?

  11. “All it would take is one drunk student to decide to shoot someone and deal the issue a PR punch to the groin.”

    Very true. It’s not just that, there’s always the troubled teen that shoots up a school, the lunatic that shoots up a shopping center, the peaceful, law-abiding armed citizen that shoots someone by mistake, etc….

    Because its always the sentient gun that’s the problem and not the person behind it right?

    It never fails to amaze me (though it probably should by now) the (what almost has to be, doesn’t it?) willful lapse in logic that says if only gun control was tighter, there would be less gun related issues. Because the bad guys and lunatics will be the first in line to turn them in right? And they wouldn’t try to get their hands on them because, why, that would be illegal!

    Maybe if gun control was as tight as our supremely effective, draconian drug laws, they just wouldn’t be able to get them at all…oh wait…must still be jet lagged I guess…

  12. Say what? I completely fail to catch the allusion. What “ends in A”? Marijuana? Schizophrenia? Alabama? Hoplophobia? It must be an entire category of things… Any and all proposed laws moved by “phobias”?

    No, sarcasm fail I reckon. Sorry. I’m very, very tired. ACTA, PIPA, SOPA, NDAA…all the legislation I despise ends in “A” for “Act.”

  13. This ruling is part of an important megatrend. As current political forces drive society toward increasing governmental power and collectivist indoctrination, individualism is also getting a boost via record gun sales and improved carry provisions. The most significant check on runaway government growth is an armed population, and concealed carry makes it much more difficult for tyrants to use intimidation as a control tool.

  14. Let me know when this significant check kicks in, TomA. When I see so many laws that I can’t possibly comply with them all; when I see the IRS taxing me on money I never had and don’t have no; when I see butt-stupid things like the war on drugs, and the war on Iran, I see no checks on runaway government growth.

  15. Ditto to Russel Nelson – as a European who has generally enjoyed his time in the USA, I’m trying hard to understand the need for gun rights in the modern crowded world.

    Easier access to guns moves the border under the borderline lunatics and bad guys, while here in Europe, if you should glimpse a gun and it’s not on police, you know it’s bad guys and to get out of the way. Maybe US cases of shootings are made worse by people not immediately assuming the person with a gun should be disarmed or run away from. There was a big story on the news in the UK last week about how one person was shot in a planned police operation.

    I don’t seem to hear about guns used in defense against bad cops, or about the presence of guns moderating the politicians/government on any level. The resources at the disposal of governments are so much bigger than those of the (even armed) population; I think this ratio was much smaller when the Second Amendment was put in place.

    I do acknowledge the MSM bias against guns, so pro-gun stories would go underreported. Is it the case that such stories of defense against bad cops or authorities are significantly present but suppressed?

  16. Let me know when this significant check kicks in, TomA. When I see so many laws that I can’t possibly comply with them all; when I see the IRS taxing me on money I never had and don’t have no; when I see butt-stupid things like the war on drugs, and the war on Iran, I see no checks on runaway government growth.

    You really don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Can’t blame private firearms ownership for a substantial portion of the populace being high on utopian delusions, projection and hate.

  17. Jacek Kopecky

    I think the idea of resisting a tyranny is overstated. If it actually came to that things would be very bad indeed.

    It’s more that American Citizens are sovereign, in the sense that Kings once were. Under certain circumstances (self defence) we have the high justice. We did not replace hereditary despots with elected and appointed despots.

    There is also the difference between the English and Continental traditions, particularly the French. The French peasants were forbidden weapons. English peasants were required to own weapons and practice with them, particularly with weapons useful in war. Later on, when the English government stopped trusting its people it took those weapons away.

    We don’t ever want that to happen in the USA. The right to bear arms is a tangible symbol of our sovereignty.

  18. Eric: I’m not sure this is anywhere close to strict scrutiny, which is the beauty of the decision. One of the key facts is that the government stated that its goal was to minimize the number of people carrying – in effect, to minimize the number of people exercising the right involved.

    As soon as that happened, they lost the case. All of the regulations and restrictions ceased to be about safety and similar issues and were now arbitrary ways of limiting carry. From the opinion:

    “These arguments prove too much. While each possibility presents an unquestionable threat to public safety, the challenged regulation does no more to combat them than would a law indiscriminately limiting the issuance of a permit to every tenth applicant.”

    Bamm! There goes your condition.

    I can only wonder what slimy thing MD will do to try and do the same thing.

    Jacek: I prefer to carry a firearm because police officers are too heavy to carry. I’m not worried about people with guns attacking me. I’m worried about people with knives, bats, or just simply fists, but in groups, attacking me or the people I care about.

  19. “The number [of auto deaths] has been on a steady decline for some years, and is now in the low 30s, mainly due to improvements in automobile safety (sadly, this was due as much or more to government regs as to consumer demand).”

    Actually, this is do primarily to improving technology, not government legislation. There is an interesting graph in Charles Murray’s book “What It Means To Be A Libertarian”. There does not appear to be a sharp discontinuity on the decades-long curve showing the rate over time at the point when seat belts were mandated. Government regulation may have played a role, but other factors appear to be more powerful.

  20. The RKBA isn’t just about “big revolutions,” which overthrow the government. It’s also about “little revolutions,” which involve armed resistance to government and government-sponsored thugs. The civil rights movement’s Deacons were an example of a “little revolution”: armed blacks kept the KKK, which wasn’t a government organization but was using violence to facilitate government policy, from attacking protesters. Similarly, the armed Tea Party members are carrying weapons to prevent SEIU thugs from using KKK-style violence. For that matter, every armed man who crosses a picket line is taking part in a “little revolution.” And that’s not even bringing up “medium revolutions,” like the Battle of Athens.

  21. “There does not appear to be a sharp discontinuity on the decades-long curve showing the rate over time at the point when seat belts were mandated. Government regulation may have played a role, but other factors appear to be more powerful.”

    There’s no sharp discontinuity because cars are durable goods, they last 10 years or more. It took that long for seat-belt laws to take effect, and then there were more, gradual additions like smoother dashboards, collapsing steering columns and body parts, etc., that got phased in later.

    I’m afraid that auto safety is one place where government control did something good. The American auto makers would never have put that stuff in without being forced to do it. I remember those earlier car models – they were rolling death-traps.

  22. @esr,

    I was happy to see this case decided. It came alongside a (minor, but noticeable) court victory in Colorado regarding the applicability of carry-permits on a State University campus. There were a couple of legislative victories in Oregon, also.

    Now, if only the lovers of liberty who push for these things can also bring together support for other liberty-friendly things…

    @LS,

    I think you’re right about the long phase-in of automotive safety ideas.

    However, there are two kinds of auto-safety tools. Air bags and seat-belts are required by government (USDOT) regulation. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, etc., aren’t. Or they weren’t, when they were new technology.

    Crumple zones and human-friendly dashboards/steering-columns may be industry-created or a product of USDOT mandates, I honestly don’t know.

    Anyway, comparing guns to cars can be so much fun. Imagine having to defend your “need to use a car on a public road” to the State. Every year, when the license and tags come up for renewal.

    That’s pretty much what the law in question did to gun-owners in NJ. Until the Court decided that rights don’t require explanations for “need to use”.

  23. @LS,

    I forgot to mention. In any discussion about relative numbers of deaths-due-to-automobiles vs. deaths-due-to-guns, or deaths-due-to-drowning, or whatever…

    http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal_injury_reports.html

    Is a good resource of data. Deaths in the Transportation-Related, Motor Vehicle category declined from 44100 (in 2007) to 36300 (in 2009). I wasn’t aware of that decline, but last time I looked at the CDC WISQARS, the 2008 and 2009 data weren’t available.

  24. @Russell Nelson – “Let me know when this significant check kicks in”

    Look to Greece as an example. For the past 10 years, their liberal politicians have been buying votes with borrowed money by promising the unproductive “free” government goodies. Now that the money well has run dry, the average Greek citizen’s sovereignty is being usurped outside creditor nations and the caretaker Greek government officials are party to this usurpation. There are about 11 million Greeks, of which about 2 million are fight-capable males. With sufficient arms and ammunition, they would stand a good chance of taking back their country (remember, they are descended from the likes of King Leonidas). Disarm them, and you’ve got 11 million indentured servants.

  25. LS: “The American auto makers would never have put that stuff in without being forced to do it.”

    According to wikipedia, the first seat belt law wasn’t passed until 1970, but seat belts were “commonplace” after 1958 or so.

    I would find “never” hard to swallow in general regardless of the specific details of course; even the most cold-hearted capitalist must understand that a dead customer can’t be a repeat customer.

  26. “The American auto makers would never have put that stuff in without being forced to do it. I remember those earlier car models – they were rolling death-traps.”

    I disagree. The human species, and in particular modern Americans are constantly engaged in life risk mitigation. Just look at the modern family and how much effort is expended in “protecting the children.” Marketeers know these things very well and the first company that offered a vehicle to the family by selling it on safety-points (and that pitch would work very well) would create a wave of perceived necessity and constant improvement in the competitive market. A government regulation is not required to force this.

    Like other massivley-consumed goods such as phones, computers, and circularly, vehicle features, its tough to enter a product in the market that doesn’t contain x features as a standard, PLUS offer up something else. The market works to drive improvements/evolutions extremely well. Its a rare thing that a government regulation is required.

  27. “According to wikipedia, the first seat belt law wasn’t passed until 1970, but seat belts were “commonplace” after 1958 or so.”

    Reminds me of that Onion headline, “Wikipedia celebrates 850 years of American independence.”

    I’m a geezer (age 65). I was there. Seatbelts were not commonplace back then. Certainly, the 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 I learned to drive on lacked them.

    I don’t look at free markets with the superstitious awe that many here seem to have. In the case of the car manufacturers, none of them wanted to be the first to offer safety features because it would have put them at a competitive price disadvantage. The threat of legislation made them all put them in at the same time, so competition was maintained. Sometimes, government just has to take a hand in things, especially when ‘everyone’ knows that something needs to be done, but nobody wants to voluntarily pay for it. (If everyone is forced to pay for it, then it suddenly becomes ‘OK’…..ahhhh, human psychology….)

  28. @karrde:

    Anyway, comparing guns to cars can be so much fun. Imagine having to defend your “need to use a car on a public road” to the State. Every year, when the license and tags come up for renewal.

    IIRC, most states already consider a driver’s license to be a privilege, not a right.

  29. “I don’t look at free markets with the superstitious awe that many here seem to have. In the case of the car manufacturers, none of them wanted to be the first to offer safety features because it would have put them at a competitive price disadvantage.”

    I think this would only be initially and temporarily. Successful businesses take the long view. Safety sells. The illusion of safety sells extremely well.

  30. When we came back to the USA in 1962 my parents had bought a Rambler station wagon to be delivered at the point of entry. This was common for returning military personel. I suspect it still is. They paid extra for seatbelts in the back, and made sure we got into the habit of wearing them.

    Seatbelts might have been optional long before they became standard.

  31. @BobW:

    > Seatbelts might have been optional long before they became standard.

    They definitely were, on a lot of cars. And aftermarket seat belts were available too. The whole thing with forcing seat belts/child carriers/motorcycle helmets, etc. is just government messin’ with natural selection, in my book.

  32. IIRC, most states already consider a driver’s license to be a privilege, not a right.

    Unless you’re here illegally, then it’s a basic human right. /snark

  33. @Greg:

    > Unless you’re here illegally, then it’s a basic human right.

    True dat.

    Obviously, driving on a public road where everybody else is allowed to drive is a right. Just as obviously, if you abuse any right, you can be punished. Apparently not so obviously, the punishment can sometimes take the form of removing a right from you rather than incarcerating you. This concept is so difficult to grasp that we have to rename certain rights as privileges, so that revocation makes sense even to the most simple-minded. This renaming has certain other benefits for entrenched government bureaucrats and insurance agents.

  34. gee, no one noticed my finger-slip typo, mistaking NJ for MD?

    Anyway, even though driving is a privilege (and not a right), people would balk severely at filling out a form requiring a reason to drive on the public roads. It puts a heavy burden on the freedom to travel freely, even if cabs can be rented or busses ridden.

    Yet no judge had an opportunity to say the same about the right to bear arms. Until this week…

    That is very strange, even though the news is good.

  35. gee, no one noticed my finger-slip typo, mistaking NJ for MD?

    Some of us did. Not a big deal, the gun laws in NJ are the same sort of thing- harsh purchasing restrictions (deliberately punitive, clearly designed to discourage people from even *trying* to buy guns) coupled with a carry permit system that is in theory “may issue” with proper justification, but in practice is “will not issue” unless you’re politically connected.

    Anyway, even though driving is a privilege (and not a right), people would balk severely at filling out a form requiring a reason to drive on the public roads. It puts a heavy burden on the freedom to travel freely, even if cabs can be rented or busses ridden.

    My snarky comment wasn’t just a bad joke. There are states that are *very* serious about making sure illegal immigrants can get driver’s licenses. As in, they have a distinctly different definition of what is a right for a citizen and what is a right for a foreign infiltrator, and let me tell you the foreign infiltrator gets a WAY better deal. This is a VERY serious problem.

    Yet no judge had an opportunity to say the same about the right to bear arms. Until this week…

    That is very strange, even though the news is good.

    Might seem strange- it was also not an accident. And yes, this is a HUGE civil rights victory and wonderful news indeed.

  36. Does anyone get the sense that we are winning the occasional battle (SOPA/PIPA/CDA/ATCA*/etc) but losing the war? or am I just missing something?

    * we might even be losing this one.

  37. “I can only wonder what slimy thing MD will do to try and do the same thing.”

    Well, MD is in a special category of slime. I refer to this state as the People’s Democratic Republic of Maryland. The only other such snide refs I have is for MA (where I was born and lived for some years): The People’s Republic of Taxachusetts.

    But, regarding MD, I would expect an immediate appeal. I think there will be some serious pushback at some point based largely on the portion of the reasoning for individual concealed carry, extrapolating from the milita element of the second amendment.

    All in all I see the reasoning in this thread and the mass of rules Volokh alludes to driving toward a full Court insertion. The space between the districts and the circuits is getting wide. Right now I think the current Court would advance some carry rights a bit beyond states as restrictive as MD but not too far.

    My guess is that they’ll make an appeal to the high court and ask for an injunction until its resolved. If they have one of the smarter smarmy bloodsuckers making their case, they might even attempt a Starea Decisuous (sp?) rationalization covering the putting in place of the infrastructure, and then unwinding it if the ruling is overturned reasoning something like “it creates an undue burden and significant social disruption.”

    A notable victory, but the war continues…

    Also, they could use appeal by 9th circuit or the full District curcuit as a way to push this. I don’t think it will fully stand after skimming the language. It goes a bit far…

  38. The 2nd Amendment also allows the citizen militia to put down riots, or at least push them away.

    Those riots in Britain last summer would not have lasted so long if they had come up against armed shopkeepers. As it was the Kurdish and Turkish immigrant communities organized to keep the yobs out of their areas.

  39. Something I’m curious about: I hear semi-frequently about concealed carry laws and regulations, as in this case. I pretty much never hear about the same for non-concealed carry. What’s the reason for that? Is the latter a settled thing in most places?

  40. >I pretty much never hear about the same for non-concealed carry.

    In most parts of the U.S., open carry stopped being customary well before the vogue for firearms prohibition that began in the 1960s. The odd result is that it’s common for U.S. juridictions to have laws regulating or prohibiting concealed carry but not open carry.

    Where I live in PA, shall-issue permits are required for concealed carry, but there are no restrictions on open carry other than the federally-mandated ones on K-12 schools, courthouses and other restricted areas. However, actually open-carrying risks an unpleasant encounter with police officers ignorant of the law. In all three respects this is what is normal over most of the U.S.

    There is an open-carry activist movement which is trying to socially re-normalize open carry. I am part of it (we don’t have a chain of command, just a bunch of websites) and often carry my .45 openly or semi-openly (belt hoster under a shortish A-2 jacket, easily spotted if you know what a semiauto frame looks like). I’ve never had any trouble over it.

  41. I’m pretty sure open carry is verboten in Texas. At least for concealed carry, it’s a “shall issue” state.

  42. Pingback: A blow struck FOR Civil Rights, a nice change | | Because They Told Me Not ToBecause They Told Me Not To

  43. I don’t look at free markets with the superstitious awe that many here seem to have. In the case of the car manufacturers, none of them wanted to be the first to offer safety features because it would have put them at a competitive price disadvantage. The threat of legislation made them all put them in at the same time, so competition was maintained. Sometimes, government just has to take a hand in things, especially when ‘everyone’ knows that something needs to be done, but nobody wants to voluntarily pay for it. (If everyone is forced to pay for it, then it suddenly becomes ‘OK’…..ahhhh, human psychology….)

    There is reason I have long thought of you as “Loony Socialist”, I love initials.

  44. TomA: Why does a male cow have udders? Would that be “transgender cows with guns”?

  45. LS: ‘Reminds me of that Onion headline, “Wikipedia celebrates 850 years of American independence.”’

    I look forward to seeing your corrections to the article.

    “I don’t look at free markets with the superstitious awe that many here seem to have.”

    Hopefully you’ll pardon me for declining to look at governments with the superstitious awe that many others here seem to have.

    “In the case of the car manufacturers, none of them wanted to be the first to offer safety features because it would have put them at a competitive price disadvantage. The threat of legislation made them all put them in at the same time, so competition was maintained.”

    Oddly enough the first law referred to in the wikipedia article was to one mandating that seatbelts be worn, not that manufacturers install them. Presumably seatbelts had to have become be effectively standard by 1970 in order to make wearing them a requirement, but the article makes no reference to any great legislative push (against manufacturers, presumably sometime between 1958 and 1970) to bring this about.

    “Sometimes, government just has to take a hand in things, especially when ‘everyone’ knows that something needs to be done, but nobody wants to voluntarily pay for it.”

    And even more especially when it’s yet another source of easy revenue generation for the government.

  46. TomA: Why does a male cow have udders? Would that be “transgender cows with guns”?

    Er, no. From the video it appears that those aren’t udders, rather they’re some kind of phallic quad-pack. With working urethras, because the cow guru peed out of one of those ‘teats’. Anyway, that’s 4 minutes or so I’ll never get back. For all my Marxian needs, I prefer http://www.rathergood.com/christmas

  47. “There is reason I have long thought of you as “Loony Socialist”, I love initials.”

    @William B. Swift: No, I am not a socialist, nor anarchist, nor libertarian…. Anytime someone advocates their system for saving the world, I’m against it.

    delete *.ism #none of them work

  48. I’m pretty sure open carry is verboten in Texas. At least for concealed carry, it’s a “shall issue” state.

    Yes and yes. The process of actually getting a concealed-handgun license is surprisingly smooth, and the (5-year) renewal requires only a 6-hour course and a short online form.

  49. It would be fascinating if the comments system were to give the reason for a moderation trigger (sort of like a DB’s query-explain feature).

  50. @WCC
    MA’s concealed carry system could use a lot of improvement, it’s true, but it is far better than MD for one reason:

    Licenses are issued by the local chief of police.

    This means you have the option to move to a different town, one who’s chief is pro-2A. Since towns in MA are small and close together, moving towns does not carry the same hardship as it does in other parts of the country (there are 5 other towns in a 2 mile radius of my house).

    In comparison, MD’s license is issued by the state, so your only recourse is to sue or move out of state.

  51. @hsu:

    That doesn’t seem all that great to me. Both those are “may issue” states; if you want your life to get easier, just move to a “shall issue” state (which is about 3/4 of them right now).

  52. This is good news indeed.

    I am more Liberal than Libertarian. I don’t own guns and I hate them. But hey, just because I personally hate something doesn’t mean I think other people should be kept from them. Judge people for their actions, not for the potentially dangerous things they own.

    I wish more Liberals would realize that restrictions to personal arms ownership are as invasive as restrictions to personal drug use, and any issues around sexuality. As long as you harm no one, you should be allowed to do whatever the hell you want, right? That is the Liberal rationale for supporting things like gay marriage. Very well, just owning and carrying a gun isn’t harming anyone. It’s basic logic.

    But all the talk about gun ownership making you potential heroic resisters against oppressive, evil government? That makes me chuckle.

  53. As long as you harm no one, you should be allowed to do whatever the hell you want, right? That is the Liberal rationale for supporting things like gay marriage.

    That doesn’t seem to be the case. The modern liberal consensus seems to be support for gay marriage because they believe it to be good policy (I agree, BTW), not because they believe in a right to do what you wish as long as you’re not actively harming anybody. Mainstream liberals certainly don’t believe in my right not to pay for government-subsidized art I don’t like. Modern liberal doctrine (like most political doctrines) is fine with restricting personal choices in the pursuit of a safer/richer/fairer/etc. society. If they didn’t believe this, they’d be libertarians.

    From that perspective, gun control isn’t evaluated as a matter of rights and liberty, but as a matter of policy. Liberal gun control supporters (a group that, to their credit, is getting smaller all the time) believe that restricting guns will result in a better society, and thus should be done. Freedom to do as you please doesn’t enter the equation in any meaningful way. Liberals who support gun control are merely wrong, not necessarily hypocrites.

  54. Then I am more of a Libertarian. I don’t really believe in doing things for the betterment of “society”. As if any one human being could predict what is better for society with any hope of accuracy…

    Well, call me a disillusioned, bitter Libertarian. Most Libertarians I know are “positive”. They think following a Libertarian ethos will result in a better society, a free market will generally make people more prosper. I don’t believe in any of that utopian stuff. Or any utopian stuff, socialist, conservative, or libertarian.

    But I believe in individual liberty.

  55. elmo iscariot,

    Modern liberal doctrine (like most political doctrines) is fine with restricting personal choices in the pursuit of a safer/richer/fairer/etc. society. If they didn’t believe this, they’d be libertarians.

    It’s more than that. In the liberal mindset, three classes of people have interest in tools designed to kill human beings: military, police, and criminals; and law-abiding civilians have as much a “right” to keep and bear arms as a fish has a right to a bicycle. So banning or restricting firearms for civilians is not abrogating any inherent personal freedoms; as by definition they’d be criminals if they had an interest in using those firearms for their intended purpose.

    I learned this from a British computer scientist come to give a talk at my university. He said something like, “I don’t quite understand why you Americans are so obsessed with guns; in England a gun is to a criminal what a scalpel is to a surgeon: they are both tools used only by professionals.”

    Anyways, I’m of the belief that if a policy does produce better results, it should be adopted. There’s no question now that, for example, government-funded health care has produced vastly better results in terms of the health of individuals and society. Decades after this has been shown to be the case (the example of Canada standing out as the starkest), the US still hasn’t adopted single-payer health care due to pushback from conservatives and wrangling over rights and freedoms? Whose rights and freedoms? Big Pharma’s right to overcharge for prescription drugs? Big Insurance’s right to provide as little coverage for as much money as they possibly can get away with? Or is it some Tom Morello “freedom to starve” thing where the American poor have the right to get sick or injured, and have no recourse but to put themselves into hock for the rest of their lives to pay for treatment, that literally every other developed nation on Earth is abrogating?

    Maybe we need a new word besides “liberal”. Maybe “political empiricist” would be better.

  56. @Rene, RE: “As long as you harm no one, you should be allowed to do whatever the hell you want, right?”

    This may have been an overarching liberal philosophy once upon a time – some liberals may hold it now, but it does not come across in the national message. This is sacred to libertarians however.

    “But all the talk about gun ownership making you potential heroic resisters against oppressive, evil government? That makes me chuckle.”

    I am going to address the snideness in this statement because it is typical of liberals, a common shaming tactic which I find weak and disgusting, and it is a defeatist cancer among those who support gun rights but should the Nth hour come, would not engage through fear of the military, lack of faith that the war can be won, or fear of looking like silly militia weirdoes as exist today. Liberals have increased their abilities in memetic warfare.

    Heroic – I’m not sure you will find that mentality among too many in the crowd here. You may see that from fringe nut groups, it would be a mistake to categorize the folks here as such. Heroism does not seem to factor in to the equation vice the insistence on and protection of rights, but in the end the winners and therefore the writers of history determines who the heroes and villains were. Speaking only for myself, it is hard to feel heroic about insisting on what is naturally yours.

    But its not just the gun issue. These same people who demand to exercise their rights to go armed also insist upon absolute equality under the law, support gay marriage, fight institutionalized racism, oppose religious power and doctrine in the law, and so on. Many of which are liberal causes. Additionally, they go to war against filth such as PIPA, SOPA, NDAA, ACTA, all of which by the way are generated or largely supported by liberals (which is a far cry from “an ye harm none, do what thou wilt”).

    And if it absolutely comes down to it, if we really, truly get that far down that frightful, dystopian road, it will be about much more than firearms rights and it will be the armed citizens who choose to fight, and the military members (less than 1% of the population) who refuse to choose politics over convictions, and so join the fight that will save any hope of this country ever returning to its freedom and individual loving roots. To win that war, they will have to keep population pressure alive on the government to not use certain air components and mechanized cavalry against what will be termed the “rebels”, forcing the government into a more severe situation than they face in the middle east (a protracted guerilla war) which will give the “rebels” a fighting chance.

    Even so, should this dystopian future ever come to pass, most of the resistance fighters will die. Die for your ability to choose to hate guns and not personally have them, and other’s rights to do the opposite, and every other set of choices which “harm none”. Against overwhelming odds, public opinion, and a vastly superior military, they will fight this war on a secular conviction. Kind of like the Revolutionary War – something like 35% of the population supported it. Most chuckled at the “rebel” ideals, much as you say you do on the gun issue. It was still necessary. If someone dies for your secular rights that you gave up on, whether you agreed with the choice or not (chuckling at the “heroes”), against these odds, that your freedom might stand, when MOST did not choose to risk death and injury for what they SAY they believe, are those people not heroic?

    Anyway, end of sermon. In the long run, the people fighting for these rights and against things like ACTA/NDAA/SOPA/PIPA may well be the heroes. Each victory against these things on the legal/legislative floor makes the necessity to go to war for/against them one step further away. That’s the way to go.

  57. Honestly, I’m with you. Whether free markets will reliably lead to a better world isn’t honestly a question that interests me as much as the principle: “If Sally and I agree that I’ll buy this property from her for this price and under these conditions, who the hell do you think you are to get in the middle of the deal?”

  58. Incidentally, Rene, if I may address arms as a hedge against tyranny in a less obnoxious way than WCC did, I do in fact think they’re useful for that purpose. It’s always possible that we’ll come to outright violence with our government on a national scale, but it’s understandable for people to think of that as a remote scenario, and one that will not end well for the insurgents. This isn’t an argument I think it’s productive to have.

    What’s important to remember, though, is that the common and untraceable possession of arms by the general population fundamentally changes the calculus of tyranny. When the populace is armed, it is not impossible to oppress them, but oppressing them carries a higher cost.

    For a real-world example, consider the Black Panthers (we’ll take their controversial nature as understood, and just focus on this aspect). One of the earliest successful tactics the Panthers used was to send members who understood the California legal system to follow police cars through black neighborhoods, observing their interactions with black citizens (to discourage outright abuse) and shouting out legal advice (to help the citizens avoid self-incrimination). The ride-along groups openly carried guns, not because they believed they could defeat the California state and local police in a pitched battle, but because it presented the threat of immediate personal consequences to the officers on the scene at the time.

    I expect that an outright armed rebellion against the US government would fail. At the same time, though, if our political situation changes dramatically and police are ordered to go house-to-house enforcing some intolerable law, I’d much rather they have to worry about semiautomatic rifles behind every door.

  59. Unless a general attitude among the people towards guns develops like that about automobiles (“Yes they kill 40-50,000 Americans yearly, but they are very useful, so we accept that…”), you can be sure of an unending supply of media horror stories until the political pressure builds for a complete reversal of such court decisions.

    I suspect that attitude developed some time ago – indeed it may have been here all along.

    The problem is that certain media and government institutions are wholly colonized by Leftist True Believers who defend the morality and wisdom of strict gun control and a collective vision of “rights” overall as articles of faith, regardless of facts.

    So expect more cherry-picked public safety stats, manipulative horror stories, interviews with carefully-selected academics, outright lying, sinister talk of a “Gun Lobby” and all the rest of it.

  60. No, I don’t believe the US government would ever devolve into dystopian authoritarianism. I may very well come off as snide, but to my eyes it feels like a mix of wish-fulfilment and paranoia when someone says they’re hoarding guns against the possibility of the greatest democracy on Earth becoming so repressive that armed struggle becomes a necessity.

    And “liberal memetic warfare”? Hardly. I also chuckle at Liberals that think the US would ever devolve into a Conservative theocracy, Margaret Atwood-style.

    But in the remote event that the US becomes a dystopia, and in the remote possibility that the possession of personal firearms will make a difference in this world where popular oppinion makes and topples governments more than physical strength … It is all as remote as being hit by a micro-meteorite between the eyes, but the possession of firearms can only be a positive. So stick to your guns, say I.

    I just can’t take seriously this John Galt stuff.

  61. @Renem RE:
    “No, I don’t believe the US government would ever devolve into dystopian authoritarianism. I may very well come off as snide, but to my eyes it feels like a mix of wish-fulfilment and paranoia when someone says they’re hoarding guns against the possibility of the greatest democracy on Earth becoming so repressive that armed struggle becomes a necessity.”;

    Yes, but why? These things do not occur, or are not prevented from occurring in a vacuum. The hoarding of guns isn’t the argument. I don’t think there are many here who have that doomsday survivalist showdown fantasy. But the ability to go armed is a powerful piece of the overall freedom concept and “shall not infringe” statement, even just in terms of what it actually says. The Weimar Republic fell to a nightmarish oppressive regime and public opinion and the voting mechanism contributed largely to that. And as is common, rights such as an armed citizenry, freedom of assembly, and freedom of press and speech were some of the first things to go. Why do you suppose that is?

    Regarding arms WRT this exchange, I think that elmo iscariot made some strong points in Comment 374586

    “And “liberal memetic warfare”? Hardly.”

    I was not accusing you of engaging in that, but find the statement that was made is often part of that overall strategy. It is an effective and dangerous technique, particularly over time. Conservatives also use this as do others, and its all bad.

    “But in the remote event that the US becomes a dystopia, and in the remote possibility that the possession of personal firearms will make a difference in this world where popular oppinion makes and topples governments more than physical strength … It is all as remote as being hit by a micro-meteorite between the eyes”

    Yes, but tell me why it is remote. Why? What factors make this so? The Patriot Act. NDAA. CDA. Warrantless wiretapping. Do you know what the NSA’s actual capabilities are? Its ugly. The complicitness of the telecoms and Facebooks, and sometimes the Google’s of the world. Where does the devolution start, where does it stop, and how? How do you make it stop? Public opinion alone has not been enough to get us out some of the war fronts we are on, dent the economic crisis, etc. It is an important component, but there has to be something else. So, what else?

  62. I really messed up the editing in that last comment. Apologies.

    ESR says: Fixed that for you.

  63. No, I don’t believe the US government would ever devolve into dystopian authoritarianism. I may very well come off as snide, but to my eyes it feels like a mix of wish-fulfilment and paranoia when someone says they’re hoarding guns against the possibility of the greatest democracy on Earth becoming so repressive that armed struggle becomes a necessity.

    Everything ends. It’s not a question of if, but of when.

    If I had the money, I’d consider buying up a lot of unpapered firearms. Not because I think it’s at all likely I’ll need them to put pressure on a corrupt government,* but because I think my grandchildren might, and there’s a good chance that by the time my children think to buy up guns to pass on to them, gun laws may be much stricter.

    [* - Even WRT outright military struggle against government, the point of an armed citizenry isn't to meet government forces in the field; it's to keep that government under pressure, keep its troops feeling unsafe and stressed out, and make the government's tyranny harder and harder to sustain. You hope to exhaust their supporters and fence-sitters and draw them into resorting to extreme measures that kill their PR, not to blow up every one of their tanks and planes. The model is more like the Afghan insurgency than like the American Revolution.]

  64. @wcc:

    These same people [libertarians] who demand to exercise their rights to go armed also insist upon absolute equality under the law, support gay marriage, fight institutionalized racism, oppose religious power and doctrine in the law, and so on.

    I suppose it depends on how narrowly you view the term institutionalized racism. When an “institution” such as a country club decides to keep out women and/or racial minorities, or when an employer (perhaps other than the government or employers who take government money) systematically pays women and/or minorities less than white males, ISTM the true libertarian response would be to let them do that — the market will sort it out by creating a competitive alternative.

    Surely no true libertarian thinks that Hooter’s should be required to employ male waitstaff.

    I think there is a lot of validity to the idea that if we sort the government out, the rest of society will sort itself out in this area. However, I can understand the frustration of those who are impatient with how slowly things change in some areas. But what those liberals seemingly fail to recognize is that a quick fix for one injustice is a market distortion which will usually cause innumerable other injustices.

    The concept of government forcing positive change on society by penalizing *ism perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if every law came with a short sunset clause, and renewal was damned difficult. But no, the law is accretive and we’re left with laws that protect people who no longer need it at the expense of people who now do.

    Look at the state of alimony in many cases these days. Or consider the poor widow who advertises in the Chicago paper for a “handyman” to occupy a room in her home for reduced rent and winds up paying some scumbag lawyer thousands of dollars for daring to specify gender.

    So, obviously you have to be careful when using terms like “institutionalized racism” — there are many who can see this occurring at a local level, and think government should “do something” without realizing that the opposite of “racism by non-governmental institutions” is usually “racism by governmental institutions” which is much harder to stamp out and often much more costly for its victims.

  65. The other thing about “institutionalized racism”, or “cultural bias” is to try to make people understand that, yes, the world is culturally biased and it could not be any other way. Some modes of thought and behavior simply work better than others.

  66. WCC — I like your posts. Very inspiring.

    No, there probably won’t be an armed revolution against the U.S. government any time soon. (And Bog knows I’m not eager for any kind of violence. It’s not like it would end well for me or my family.) But the government can’t make us obey laws it can’t enforce. And that puts limits on what it can do; if there are some extreme, dictatorial laws that people would literally *fight*, with guns, rather than obey, then we’re safe from those laws. The only things you can be genuinely *made* to do, against your will, are the things you can be physically made to do, by force. There’s probably some truly crazy totalitarian stuff that nobody even thinks to do, because they assume the citizens won’t stand for it; and it’s only because the citizens won’t stand for it that we’re spared that kind of trouble.

  67. @ elmo iscariot, RE:

    “[* - Even WRT outright military struggle against government, the point of an armed citizenry isn't to meet government forces in the field; it's to keep that government under pressure, keep its troops feeling unsafe and stressed out, and make the government's tyranny harder and harder to sustain. You hope to exhaust their supporters and fence-sitters and draw them into resorting to extreme measures that kill their PR, not to blow up every one of their tanks and planes. The model is more like the Afghan insurgency than like the American Revolution.]“

    I believe that you are correct in this analysis for the most part and what you say certainly is the right and possibly even the only approach that could allow for victory. I have not finished the thought exercises to try and determine where this would likely ultimately go, but one of my first questions is “is such an insurgency possible?” and a second question “could such an insurgency really sustain itself in the US for long enough to do that?” There is nowhere to hide or run to within our borders, there is no unknown terrain. No safe havens, and I do not believe enough of the population would be supportive to be able to make use of hiding in plain sight. I wonder if, in such a scenario, the government would be able to quickly force a Battle of Fallujah type scenario, quickly pushing the insurgency to somewhere like New Hampshire or Texas and forcing a decisive battle.

  68. @Patrick Maupin, RE:

    “I suppose it depends on how narrowly you view the term institutionalized racism. When an “institution” such as a country club decides to keep out women and/or racial minorities, or when an employer (perhaps other than the government or employers who take government money) systematically pays women and/or minorities less than white males, ISTM the true libertarian response would be to let them do that — the market will sort it out by creating a competitive alternative.”

    Aye, there is nothing you’ve said here that I disagree with, and indeed I view the term “institutionalized racism” exceedingly narrowly. Limited to only the government really, and forced by our founding concepts. Look, IMO, if “race” or sex or any other arbitrary classification is a deciding factor for a business in hiring or benefits/pay, then in the long run said biz is probably going down because such a practice precludes them from hiring and retaining the best possible candidates. And the libertarian response, if one cares enough, is valid – don’t do business there, and brother, make sure ALCON know WHY you don’t do business there. In the current era, such idiocy could take care of itself I think.

    “Surely no true libertarian thinks that Hooter’s should be required to employ male waitstaff.”

    I dunno. I once had a waiter at a favored restaurant of mine, who was my favorite waiter. He called himself Skittles, and was as eclectic as the name implies. Just a really pleasant person (though for myself I can only take “pleasant people” in small doses ;-) Anyway, he was a libertarian and would have jumped at the chance to work at Hooters as waitstaff…
    I’m kidding – I agree with your statement and Skittles would have been horrified at the prospect of any business being forced to hire under such a circumstance…desire or no.

    “I think there is a lot of validity to the idea that if we sort the government out, the rest of society will sort itself out in this area. However, I can understand the frustration of those who are impatient with how slowly things change in some areas. But what those liberals seemingly fail to recognize is that a quick fix for one injustice is a market distortion which will usually cause innumerable other injustices.”

    One would have thought this to be quite clear through simple observation by now. The species’ penchant for mimicking the ostrich can be quite shocking at times.

    “The concept of government forcing positive change on society by penalizing *ism perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if every law came with a short sunset clause, and renewal was damned difficult. But no, the law is accretive and we’re left with laws that protect people who no longer need it at the expense of people who now do.”

    A government’s ability to penalize this to me means that government has way too much power. Its someone’s right to be a f***ing moron, and society, the market, and Darwin will punish them. Certainly the government should be able to dictate such things through programs and institutions funded and controlled by it. But how many of those should there really be?

    “Look at the state of alimony in many cases these days.”

    Frankly, I’d rather not. I am well acquainted with this disgusting nightmare. And being a resident of two states, one of which (as mentioned earlier is MD), I know how far this has been taken.

    “So, obviously you have to be careful when using terms like “institutionalized racism” — there are many who can see this occurring at a local level, and think government should “do something” without realizing that the opposite of “racism by non-governmental institutions” is usually “racism by governmental institutions” which is much harder to stamp out and often much more costly for its victims.”

    ’tis true, understand and agree with the statement. I believe I was careless in my use of terms. I beg absolution – after all, its you people’s fault – the use of language/terms/memes/philo’s and level of intelligence is fairly consistent around here and I just assumed what I was saying would be interpreted as I meant it. Joking, point taken. Thanks.

  69. @LS, RE:

    “The other thing about “institutionalized racism”, or “cultural bias” is to try to make people understand that, yes, the world is culturally biased and it could not be any other way. Some modes of thought and behavior simply work better than others.”

    I am not certain if you are advocating here or simply making a statement. Yes those things exist and are part of our evolutionary survival/coping/breeding mechanisms. Just because things are one way, doesn’t mean it has to be accepted. Just because something is “more natural” does not make it right or better. And anyway, these biases may have been good for the tribe, but that does not mean it is good for the species. We live in an era where taking the long view is a good and doable thing. My research here is by no means complete but as I understand it, inter”racial” breeding in humans tends toward creating a stronger species – often the offspring inherit the strongest traits of both parent’s bloodlines.

    For your reading pleasure, a start (assuming interest here).

  70. Don’t you think the mass murders of the Soviet Union would have gone quite a bit differently if the Chekists kicking in people’s doors in the middle of the night caught a bullet going the other way more often than not?

  71. Solzhenitsyn mad that point very well.

    “What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, polkers, or whatever else was at hand?”

    I don’t think We’ll be sitting behind a barricade with our rifles, facing the 1st Armored Division. Or standing in a field awaiting the 82nd Airborne.

    But confronting a snatch team and telling them to go away or die? Slashing the tires of a parked black mariah while the driver is keeping his hands in plain view and looking straight ahead as ordered? That I can forsee. It would suck for things to get that bad, it would suck worse if it got that bad and we’d given up the guns already.

  72. @WCC: The thrust of my statement on “instutional racism” is the stupidity of certain advocates of multiculturalism gone wild. They would have you believe that any culture is just as good as any other, and if their sacred culture isn’t doing as well as some others, it must be the other people’s fault. I say no. There’s good reason why the mainstream culture bowls over all of the others, and it’s not going to be cured by handicapping the mainstream. The mainstream picks up the best practices of the cultures in its midst and rejects the rest. It’s been going on here in America since the Pilgrims learned how to survive by listening to Squanto. The multiculturalists need to learn to do the same thing.

    I suspect that this is pretty close to your own opinion, but hey….

  73. I’m not too worried about standing at the barricades against the 1AD or the 82nd Airborne. The military of the USA is not going to be deployed successfully against internal agitators.
    I’m not even worried about the local cops, particularly. It’s the federal police forces that are trained and equipped (physically and doctrinally) for internal operations, that are most worrisome. To deal with that, as noted, small arms in the hands of the citizenry are quite adequate, thank you.

  74. Even WRT outright military struggle against government, the point of an armed citizenry isn’t to meet government forces in the field; it’s to keep that government under pressure, keep its troops feeling unsafe and stressed out, and make the government’s tyranny harder and harder to sustain. You hope to exhaust their supporters and fence-sitters and draw them into resorting to extreme measures that kill their PR, not to blow up every one of their tanks and planes. The model is more like the Afghan insurgency than like the American Revolution.

    Something like that. Also, the people on the other side have to live somewhere. Midnight knocks on the door by people with guns doesn’t have to be only a tool of the gov’t.

    Here’s an instructive example of brutal intimidation. (But with a smiley face fig leaf- it was only a “protest”). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/16/class-warfare-hundreds-pr_n_578015.html
    Kind of like Mussolini and castor oil. It’s just uncomfortable, but demonstrates how helpless you really are- think what we could do to you if we really *meant* it.

  75. Late to the conversation, but since people are still talking about it, I’ll say this: the problem would not be the armed civilian populace standing against the full might of the military. The problem is the armed populace standing against the part of the military that the government is willing to expend. That turns out to be a much, much fairer fight, especially in this country.

  76. Late to the conversation, but since people are still talking about it, I’ll say this: the problem would not be the armed civilian populace standing against the full might of the military. The problem is the armed populace standing against the part of the military that the government is willing to expend. That turns out to be a much, much fairer fight, especially in this country.

    That’s a very interesting comment. In the US at least, this might not turn out to be a fight at all, as the portion of the populace that is armed, and the portion of the military that the gov’t would be most willing to expend… are the same people. Ideologically speaking. And very likely literally family and friends. That is, the people the gov’t would order to do the shooting would be the sons, brothers and fathers of the people the gov’t would most want shot. Which is, of course, why the gov’t (and the Left) fears and LOATHES the military so.

  77. These same people who demand to exercise their rights to go armed also insist upon absolute equality under the law, support gay marriage, fight institutionalized racism, oppose religious power and doctrine in the law, and so on.

    You’re on crack if you really, seriously believe this. True libertarians make up a tiny minority of the hardcore gun-rights crowd. Most of the rest are of the sort currently putting “Don’t Re-Nig” bumper stickers on their cars.

  78. >True libertarians make up a tiny minority of the hardcore gun-rights crowd. Most of the rest are of the sort currently putting “Don’t Re-Nig” bumper stickers on their cars.

    Every once in a while I think Jeff Read might be slouching his way to some kind of connection to reality. Then he writes shit like this.

    I hang with the “hardcore gun-rights crowd”; I’ve been on the mailing lists, I read the blogs. Regulars on this blog will know from my replies to James A Donald that while I do not attempt to censor racist speech, I am quick to condemn it in the strongest terms. But I have never had to throw down about this among gun-rights advocates. Not ever, not even once.

    Once, years ago, I did run into a genuine Dominionist on the now-defunct pa-rkba list. I verbally drop-kicked him into next week. The list regulars laughed scornfully – at him, not me. I’d expect the same reaction to a racist.

  79. Every once in a while I think Jeff Read might be slouching his way to some kind of connection to reality. Then he writes shit like this.

    I hang with the “hardcore gun-rights crowd”; I’ve been on the mailing lists, I read the blogs. Regulars on this blog will know from my replies to James A Donald that while I do not attempt to censor racist speech, I am quick to condemn it in the strongest terms. But I have never had to throw down about this among gun-rights advocates. Not ever, not even once.

    Forums, too. The are gun culture forums, and racist forums. They don’t overlap.

    In Jeff’s defense, it’s much easier to believe crap like that when you don’t know anyone who owns a gun, have never met anyone who owns a gun, and have no direct knowledge of the culture that’s grown up around guns. If you’ve never been outside the cocoon, there’s no reason at all to disbelieve the groupthink. Maybe he just needs to embrace diversity.

  80. Exactly this. I’d considered Read’s comment self-evidently beneath notice, but just for the record, my experience has been the same. The “hardcore” gun rights crowd is much more libertarian than the general population, and the larger gun rights constituency, while generally more conservative than liberal or libertarian, is emphatically not racist. There are issues I’m likely to disagree with them on (mostly about sex, not race), but they’re far more likely to be of the “do whatever you please, long as you don’t hurt anybody or scare the horses” school than the hard right or the hard left is.

  81. >The “hardcore” gun rights crowd is much more libertarian than the general population, and the larger gun rights constituency, while generally more conservative than liberal or libertarian, is emphatically not racist.

    This is accurate in all respects. (I’m confirming this for regulars without direct exposure to gun culture.)

    The worst knock on the gun-rights crowd I can make is to observe that I’ve run into more thalamic anti-intellectuals there than I do elsewhere. However, I suspect this mainly means that I’ve effectively chosen my other social contexts to limit my exposure to yahoos and that gun-rights lists are showing me what the normal background incidence of them is.

  82. The worst knock on the gun-rights crowd I can make is to observe that I’ve run into more thalamic anti-intellectuals there than I do elsewhere. However, I suspect this mainly means that I’ve effectively chosen my other social contexts to limit my exposure to yahoos and that gun-rights lists are showing me what the normal background incidence of them is.

    In this case, reacting as a thalamic anti-intellectual may just be a result of having been bullied. A LOT. By people who are, in fact, smarter than you but nevertheless are totally wrong. (People who hold unpopular beliefs get bullied. Believing in personal freedom and that guns are tools to support it, rather than totems of evil, is still unpopular in the mainstream – used to be more so.)

  83. I wouldn’t be shocked if the gun rights movement is one of those tribes that does have a higher than average rate of TAI, due to historical context. Once the gun control movement got past its initial racist stage, it was advanced primarily by “intellectuals,” and largely through a public relations campaign intended to frame the issue as smart anti-gun advocates against stupid gun owners. There may be a rational (if I’m using your terms correctly) anti-intelligentsianism in the hardcore gun rights movement that’s been internalized as a TAI sentiment used as a tribal signal by the wider gun rights movement.

    And as a quick note for anybody still reading this who isn’t engaged in the gun rights issue, a quick thought experiment: Gun laws in the United States don’t prohibit gun ownership; they place burdens and inconveniences on it. These burdens are relatively easy to bear for people who have enough cash to add a few hundred dollars to the purchase price of a few-hundred-dollar firearm and can take a day or two off from work to get fingerprinted during the one hour a week that the cops process applicants, but can be insurmountable to poor urban minorities. If you meet a person who wants to eliminate these burdens, he’s implicitly arguing that American minorities’ access to deadly force should be closer to the access wealthy, privileged Americans enjoy. What are the odds this person hates and fears minorities?

  84. In this case, reacting as a thalamic anti-intellectual may just be a result of having been bullied. A LOT. By people who are, in fact, smarter than you but nevertheless are totally wrong.

    Arguing that people passionately committed to enforcing a policy shown again and again not to work are smarter than those who oppose it requires a fairly precise definition of “smart.” ;)

  85. >There may be a rational (if I’m using your terms correctly) anti-intelligentsianism in the hardcore gun rights movement that’s been internalized as a [thalamic anti-intellctual] sentiment used as a tribal signal by the wider gun rights movement.

    You are using my terms correctly, and I think this is a very shrewd guess that is likely to be true.

  86. Arguing that people passionately committed to enforcing a policy shown again and again not to work are smarter than those who oppose it requires a fairly precise definition of “smart.” ;)

    It does. Maybe call it “clever”- remember the quote ‘Some ideas are so stupid, that only an intellectual could believe them’.

    You also have to remember, that just because a policy can be shown again and again to fail to achieve it’s stated purpose, that it isn’t succeeding quite satisfactorily at doing something else.

  87. You know, I’d wrestled with saying ” a policy shown again and again not to achieve its stated goals” for exactly that reason, but decided the wordiness was already getting a bit opaque.

  88. @Greg

    You also have to remember, that just because a policy can be shown again and again to fail to achieve it’s stated purpose, that it isn’t succeeding quite satisfactorily at doing something else.

    Emphasis added.

    And the next question would be What are those unstated goals?

  89. >And the next question would be What are those unstated goals?

    And the usual answer is “More power for the permanent political class.”

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