The Commentary
The Gun Control debate.

Saturday, March 01, 2008  

Archive of Posts.

Blogger has eaten the archives of this blog, and since I do not have administrator privileges here, I am forced to build an archive in a single post. Beginning May 11, 2003:

Opening Post

Monday, May 19. Jack's response.

Tuesday, May 20. My reply.

May 22. Jack returns volley.

We trade a little side discussion.

May 23. The debate continues, Part I of II.

Part II of II. Pack a lunch. You'll need it.

I seem to have overwhelmed Jack.

There's a little bit more aside discussion I won't bother to link, but it would appear that I was unconvincing.

But I soldiered on.

And on.

And on some more.

However, Jack remained obstinate.

I remained undeterred.

But apparently the argument was stimulating!

I reply briefly for a change.

Jack ripostes!

I parry and counterthrust.

And I answer some of his questions.

He has more questions.

I have a (short) answer.

Jack starts on hypotheticals.

I respond.

I wonder if the discussion is concluded.

Perhaps not quite.

But on Monday, Sept. 15, 2003 we conclude that we've gone as far as we're going to.

Return to The Smallest Minority.


posted by Kevin | 04:25

Thursday, September 18, 2003  

Any Progress is Good

And education is a good thing. As I said early on, I did not expect to "convert" you, I was doing this in the hope that others would read our exchanges and learn some things. I have enjoyed this, and hope you did as well. I am pleased that you accept the "shall issue" vs. "may issue" argument, and perhaps some day you might finally conclude that there really is an individual right to own firearms just as there is an individual right to freedom of speech, religion, and assembly - and that limits on these fundamental human rights ought to be minimal. But for now I am satisfied with the result of our discussion.

posted by Kevin | 16:15

Monday, September 15, 2003  


Yes, we are finished. I am satisfied that the scenario I outlined below is satisfactory.

So, what has been achieved? Well, this whole thing started off with me saying that "I do not believe that [the Second Amendment] gives US citizens a blanket right to own and carry weapons". Has my position been changed substantially? Not really. It seems to be a straightforward fact that the US Government has placed many restrictions on the right to own and carry weapons.

Do I believe that the Second Amendment should give US citizens a blanket right to own and carry weapons? No. I have reached a conclusion in my own mind over what I believe are suitable restrictions.

So, what has been achieved? Well,

  1. I've accepted the lack of a link between the right to keep and bear arms and membership of a militia,
  2. I've been enlightened about the 'shall-issue' concept and it's superiority, compared with normal licencing.
  3. I've learnt a great deal about the whole issue, ranging from the origin of the right enumerated in the Second Amendment through to some of the restrictions placed on gun ownership by various US states.

So, for me, at any rate, the process has been useful and enlightening.

I think that my position now is actually more liberal (in terms of my approach to gun control) than when we started. Do you think so?

posted by Jack | 15:45

Thursday, September 11, 2003  

In the Mean Time

Assuming you're not burned out on the topic, I found this interesting paper on whether there's a prima facie right to own a gun. The author contends that the right is not absolute, but that the harm must vastly outweigh the benefits in order to ban or even restrict firearms ownership.

I haven't had time to read the thing in detail myself, but it looks interesting.

posted by Kevin | 03:51

Monday, September 01, 2003  

Take Your Time

I'll still be here.

posted by Kevin | 19:25

I think we are, but I'm still thinking...

posted by Jack | 14:28

Friday, August 29, 2003  


Has this discussion run its course?

Are we finished?

Have we accomplish anything?

posted by Kevin | 16:51

Friday, August 15, 2003  

Some Answers

You wrote: "(T)he fact is that, without going back in time and interviewing the people who wrote the Constitution to find out what their intention was, the argument will never be settled."

Well, not quite. All you've got to do is read what they wrote and apply a little logic. But I'll concede that on this topic we'll have to agree to leave you at least ambivalent.

You wrote: "I know you disagree with the competence thing, but I'm going to stick to my guns (or, rather, I would if I had any!) on this one, because I've been stood beside someone on a pistol range who wasn't quite competent to handle her weapon and I really didn't like it."

I don't like it either, but I've yet to see a way to require "proof of competence" that couldn't also be used to eventually eliminate private ownership - or at least make it so onerous as to accomplish the same thing. My point concerning US laws versus English laws was this: We have a large population of people who own guns. Trying to establish "competence" standards for possession would be ridiculous and would be resisted. England has accomplished, through over 80 years of ever-increasing gun control, a very tiny population of gun owners who would view "competency testing" as just one more hurdle to overcome in order to keep the weapons that the government hasn't already taken from them. NEW gun owners would see it as just another hurdle to (legal) acquisition.

Pie-in-the-sky? Yes, it would be wonderful if I didn't have to fear that my right to arms would be stripped from me because other people are morons, but that's not the case. So, if it were possible to expand an English subject's access to firearms (of whatever type) through competency testing, I'd be all for it (because I believe that all human beings have a right to defend themselves, and that a firearm is the best tool to do that in most circumstances.) But I view any imposition of "competency testing" on Americans as another effort to reduce our right to a government-regulated priviledge, and oppose it.

You asked, after your hypothetical list: "Assuming that everything was legally water-tight to prevent the government from amending the restrictions to contravene the spirit of the rules (e.g. they couldn't decide to amend the exclusions to add "people who failed to graduate from high school" or something stupid like that), would you go for that?"

I must answer "No." Because there is nothing "water-tight" about the law. The rest of your post relates to competence being a requirement. If you wanted to implement something along those lines in England (thus expanding access to subjects) I would think it a great step forward. If you wanted to implement something like that here, I'd object because it's a great slide down the slippery slope.

Let me say this: I have seen people on the range who bother me because they don't know what they're doing. When I can, I try to rectify the situation, but sometimes (especially out shooting in the desert rather than on a public range) I'd rather just pick up my stuff and leave. Given the extremely large number of people here that own guns, the morons must not be that dangerous because the number of accidental fatal shootings here has been going down every year since we started keeping records. Not in deaths per 100,000 population, either - the total number. In 2001 there were 776 accidental deaths by firearm, mostly hunting accidents. Out of a population of 275 million people, and about that many firearms, that's a remarkably low number IMHO.

So "competence" doesn't seem, to me, to be that big a problem.

posted by Kevin | 02:43