The gun control package

The President has issued sweeping new gun control measures, a combination of Congressional proposals and 23 executive orders that go into effect immediately.  Details on exactly what the measures are, as well as a list of the executive orders are linked after the jump.  From The Washington Post:

“President Obama on Wednesday formally proposed the most expansive gun-control policies in generations and initiated 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing what he called “the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

While no legislation can prevent every tragedy, he said in announcing the proposals, “if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”

President Obama proposed expansive gun-control policies aimed at curbing gun violence. The Obama administration can implement about half of the proposals, but the others — arguably some of the more critical initiatives — will require congressional approval.

Obama called on Congress to swiftly pass legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines for civilian use and to require universal background checks for all gun buyers. His proposals include mental health and school safety measures, as well as a tough new crackdown on gun trafficking.

via Obama unveils gun-control proposals – The Washington Post.

For a comprehensive list of the new measures, go here.

For the president’s 23 executive orders, go here.

Which of these would you find acceptable and in accord with the 2nd Amendment?

What do you think of this alternative, restricting magazine sizes rather than restricting gun ownership, thus avoiding violation of the 2nd Amendment?

 

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • sg

    Uh, what about Fast and Furious? Will selling/giving guns to Mexican drug cartels be exempted? Will Eric Holder and Obama’s friends have the same restrictions placed on them. Also, Pastor Larry Peters has an interesting take on Obama’s record of presidential pardons.

    http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/2013/01/forgiving-debt-but-not-debtors.html

  • Pete

    Why a private citizen should be allowed to have an automatic weapon has always been beyond me. Thorough background checks make impeccable sense. Can this president finally have done something right? I understand the sentiment that superior firepower in the hands of the authorities is okay as long as the authorities are still the good guys, as a cause for some concern. But in the age of drones, guns might be becoming irrelevant. An Al Qaeda operative vaporized on the street by a drone may well have been toting an AK-47.
    But nobody should harbor any illusions that stricter gun control will prevent Sandy Hook events in particular, or gun violence in general. These are cultural problems.

  • EricM

    Just to be clear – sale of fully automatic weapons manufactured after 1986 has been prohibited in the US since the late 80′s. The guns people talk about as “assault weapons” are all semi-automatic meaning you get one shot for each pull of the trigger. Military versions of assault rifles are fully automatic and are not available for sale to private citizens in the US.

    As to the list of actions President Obama wants to take, here are some comments on the major sections:

    Background checks: I don’t have a problem with making sure the existing database is up to date so that when a check is made the information is correct. It would be even better if the government made the system available to private citizens rather than forcing people to go through a gun dealer. As long as this system does not record purchases and therefore create a registration of gun purchases, improving the system is a good thing. Note that today, the system does not keep a record of sales and ATF is specifically prohibited from doing so by law. It should also be noted that his mechanism will not impact true criminals who are unlikely to buy a gun from a licensed dealer to begin with but it could help with folks who are mentally ill.

    Military Style Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magizines: The original assault weapon ban did nothing to reduce crime and this one will also do nothing because the weapons in question account for a very small percentage of guns used in crimes. It is simply a way of defining a weapon by its appearance. Banning high capacity magazines also will do nothing. In the case of Virginia Tech at least (and I think this is true of some of the other mass shootings), the killer only used magazines that held 10 rounds. However, he had a lot of them! With regard the armor piercing bullets, the statement is almost meaningless. What kind of armor are we talking about? A kevlar vest or tank armor? A kevlar vest may work against a handgun bullet but a hunting rifle round (just a standard round used for hunting) will go right through it. BTW – it also depends on how long the bullet is in the air as whether it will penetrate “armor” or not.

    Gun Violence Research: This does not make sense to me. It seems to be equating murder with a gun as a public health issue. Why not murder with a knife, hammer, or automobile? I have concerns that making this a public health issue is an attempt to change the game and make it easier to ban guns in the future.

    Gun Safety: Teaching gun safety is a good idea. In fact the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program is one of the best but there is no mention of it. Gun safety technology is pretty ambiguous. In the past this term has meant things like gun grips that only allow the owner of the gun to fire it. I believe that the term has also referred to microstamping spent shells with a reference to the gun that fired it (something that is not directly related to gun safety and that also does not really work). Such technology sounds interesting on the face of it but can do harm if it fails at a critical moment or is specifically designed so that a family member cannot use a gun for his or her own defense.

    School Safety: This set of proposals is all about adding armed staff to schools and creating emergency plans. Seems to be a change from the gun free school zones proposed in the past.

    Mental Health: This set of proposals seems to make sense (although it is the Federal government doing things that perhaps should be done by the states). The specific item about mental health professionals being able to ask about guns in the home could be an issue – why single out guns and not knives, cars, drugs, etc? Perhaps some of these are already on the standard list of things to ask about. This also seems related back to the section on gun violence research and making killings with a gun a public health issue.

  • Tom Hering

    If military assault style rifles are no big shakes, why are they so popular? Do people really want them because they’re no different, functionally, than other civilian rifles? Well, if it’s true they’re no different, then that’s a very good argument for banning more than just military assault style rifles.

  • EricM

    Tom – An AR-15 (the most popular of the “assault weapons”) is a semi-automatic rifle. In that way it is the same as many semi-automatic hunting rifles, target rifles, and even shot guns. It generally shoots a .223 caliber round but there are versions that shoot everything from .22 to .308 and larger caliber rounds. It has a detachable box magazine and the magazines come in various sizes. many other rifles, pistols, and some shot guns also have detachable magazines. Some versions have folding stocks – these are available after market. These stocks can also be added to (or in some cases come with) other rifles in various calibers and shotguns. The AR-15 (and others of its type) often come with accessory rails that can be used to add things like flashlights and sights to the rifle. These rails can be added to some other rifles and shotguns but not all.

    So what is the difference? The pistol grip? Nope, that is available on other rifles and shotguns.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Automatic weapons are only available to civilians with a very expensive special permit. What is legal is semi-automatic weapons — those that fire one bullet every time the trigger is pulled but do not require any further action (such as opening and closing a bolt).

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    They’re popular because they look cool. And they’re easy to personalize with all kinds of toys. They look “scary” to liberals because they do resemble military weapons.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    I’m all for the focus on mental health. Requiring background checks for private gun sales will essentially kill them — you’ll have to go with some kind of consignment. And thinking a 10 round magazine is safer than a fifteen round is silly; you can change magazines fast enough that it wouldn’t make a difference tactially — it’s just a convenience for sport shooters.

  • kerner

    These executive orders are mostly an emotional big load of nothing (although they will generate more useless spending we can’t afford). The urging Congress to act is going nowhere, not only in the Republican dominated House, but also in the Senate where Democrat senators from rural states want nothing to do with this. Even Harry Reid is luke warm toward this.

    It’s a little late for a prediction for 2013, but here’s mine anyway. With the possible exception of tightening background check requirements for private firearms sales, nothing of substance is going to come of this on the federal level. The American peole will NOT rise up in righteous indignation to disarm America.

    If anything, just the liberal rhetoric has driven sales and prices of semi-automatic firearms, ammunition and magazines through the roof. The stores can’t keep them on the shelves. Ironically, the fuming of the anti-gun crowd has pumped a lot more firearms, magazines and ammunition into circulation than would otherwise be there. Way to go, fellas. Thanks to you, America is more heavily armed than ever.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom,

    There is technically no such thing as an “assault rifle” available for private purchase. As EricM notes below, so-called “assault rifles” are identical to many hunting rifles and handguns owned by millions of Americans already. The only meaningful difference between an AR-15 and my favorite hunting rifle is purely cosmetic. Which is to say, there are no meaningful differences. The gun control “debate” is thus currently premised on distortions and hyperbole.

    Par for the course in American political discourse.

  • Cincinnatus

    Everyone read kerner’s comments: these “new” measures do essentially nothing that isn’t already on the books. An “assault weapons” ban–which has already been identified as rooted in spurious logic–is a dead letter on arrival in Congress. As usual, Obama has done little but reinforce the status quo ante. But I suppose he’ll appear to have done much, which is all he wanted, I guess.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tom,
    Why a thing is popular has always been an enigma to me. How does something become a status symbol and why? I imagine the AR-15 is popular in large part because our military trains its personnel on the M-16, and the AR-15 is basically the same gun without the ability to do three round bursts or go fully automatic. Being as the military is where a large segment of our population gets its firearms training, these people feel comfortable with that gun. And because more are buying it, it drops in price, making it more affordable for others. It is very reliable, and actually quite convenient. But in reality not much different than a Ranch Rifle.

  • Tom Hering

    ChrisB (@ 8:57 am) and EricM (@ 8:53 am), exactly, which is why an effective ban must include more than just rifles of a certain style.

    EricM (@ 8:53 am), I know all that. I used to do design work for a company that made training weapons for the DoD. I notice, though, you didn’t mention how some military style designs reduce recoil and muzzle jump – which helps in effective slaughter. Today’s mass murderers seem to be quite informed in their choice of weapons.

  • sg

    “I notice, though, you didn’t mention how some military style designs reduce recoil and muzzle jump – which helps in effective slaughter.”

    Hmm, would that really sell to the American public?

    “President Obama promises to ban gun designs that reduce recoil and muzzle jump”

    Yeah, I think that would be a real yawner.

    Youth models also reduce recoil. Hey, that is what they need to do, market these guns as youth models!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Any distraction to keep Congress and the White House from dealing with spending issues and the budget.

    Oh, look! A butterfly!

  • SKPeterson

    Tom – You’re not going to get a ban achieved on rifles like a 30-30, or even on 308′s. Those are very common hunting rifle calibers. Also, they are almost never used in any criminal way whatsoever. Even “assault” weapons aren’t used in most crimes. Their actual use is quite minuscule.

    As an interesting aside, having significantly stronger gun control laws does not necessarily equate to a more safe society. Britain has far more stringent gun control laws, yet their violent crime rates are about twice our levels. Further, most of our violent crime is geographically concentrated within (as in, not just “in” but in particular areas “within”) major metropolitan areas. Newtown scored so high on the national conscience because of the number of victims and their relatively young ages, but also because of the aberration of it occurring in an unexpected location.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I see the executive orders being struck down by federal judges pretty quickly. This is a circumvention of the second amendment, plain and simple. And anybody with half a brain should realize that, if a President can place himself above the Second amendment via exec order, he can do so with any of the other amendments. I don’t see this one standing up under scrutiny.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Yes, Tom, because deep down every single gun owner is a bloodthirsty savage just waiting to go postal.

    Seriously, drop the stereotyping of good people who own guns just because a few bad people misuse them.

  • sg

    Check out Chicago. The neighborhoods have vastly different murder rates.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/01/02/us/chicago-killings.html?ref=us

  • rlewer

    I don’t see that any of the proposals would have prevented the killing in Newtown. The guns used were stolen from his mother. How many of the guns used in mass killings lately were legal to the person using them? How would new laws help?

  • sg

    Chicago had 433 murders in 2011 according to the Chicago Police dept.

    Chicago is about 45% white according to the US Census bureau.

    White murder victims in 2011, 20. What is that, about the same rate as Sweden?

    So Chicago is pretty safe, if you are white. If you are not, then it is pretty dangerous.

    https://portal.chicagopolice.org/portal/page/portal/ClearPath/News/Statistical%20Reports/Murder%20Reports/MA11.pdf

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP, which stats are you using for the UK crime?

    The relevant wikipedia entry does not support that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

  • Steve Billingsley

    Kabuki theater for political aggrandizement. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    What is true is that 75% of all gun-related deaths are from handguns.

    Then there is this statistic: A gun in a home is 43 times more likely to be turned on a family member, than on an intruder: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/405837_4

    It would seem that making handgun ownership excessively difficult would accomplish most. It is more difficult to carry a rifle or a shotgun as a concealed weapon, anyway.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    One of the main causes, other than culture, for the vast difference in gun-related deaths in Canada and the US, I would guess, is that hand-gun ownership, though not impossible, is exceedingly difficult. The only private person I know here that owns one is a certified firearms instructor.

  • sg

    Klasie, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page of that wiki link, you will find a list of countries by intentional homicide rate. Contrast that with gun violence. Interestingly, Honduras has a firearm death rate of 46.7 which is lower than El Salvador’s 50.36. However, Honduras intentional homicide rate is significantly higher at 91.6 vs. El Salvador’s at 69.2. When you consider the whole of the data and compare and contrast firearm death rates with intentional homicide rates, you find that guns and homicide are not closely correlated.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    sg, I would guess that though there might not be a direct linear correlation, that that does not preclude a non-linear correlation. After all, there are many factors included here. Cultural, legal, developmental, as well as the statistical definitions and methodologies.

  • sg

    Yes, of course, but what we are trying to tease out of the data is the role of gun policy in relation to homicide, etc.

  • Ed Bryant

    Here’s a thought, let’s put as much time, money and effort into stigmatizing men fathering children without raising them in a stable marriage as we do stigmatizing law-abiding gun owners. The correlation between gun violence and being raised in a home without a father is much higher than the correlation between gun violence and gun ownership.
    Among the law-abiding, the net affect of gun ownershop upon life is positive, because they are far more likely to be used defensively to preserve life – often without even being fired.
    Guns are mere machines; violence comes from the human heart, out of which “proceed evil thoughts, murders…” so any attempt to allay violence without addressing the need to civilize young men is doomed, and will only result in less liberty and more government.

  • SKPeterson

    KK – The stat I’m referring to is not strictly gun-related murders, but the overall violent crime rate. I’ll track down the relevant statistical site. It’s from Home Office, but I’ll see if I can find the link. Anyhow, the point being, that removing guns does not reduce violent crime, but in Great Britain’s case it could be seen that violent crime has increased post-gun law. Further, our violent crime and gun-related murder rates are geographically concentrated in metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 persons, and more specifically, to geographically concentrated areas within those metro areas themselves. Moreover, these areas are ones associated with higher residential rates of African Americans, growing Hispanic populations, low incomes, high percentages of welfare recipients to total population, low educational outcomes, higher rates of unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, etc., etc. In short, most of our violent crime and murder is associated with other social pathologies that have manifested and festered in minority communities in the U.S. – the worst violence is literally directly correlated with the amount of government interference and intervention in a community. Since much of that has been directed toward African American communities we’ve witnessed the virtual annihilation of the two-parent family, growing illiteracy, high rates of persons with criminal convictions, and other associated ills. I keep seeing comments in the articles from the WaPO that the NRA kills and bears responsibility for these deaths, but I would argue that other three- and four-letter organizations like the SSA or HUD or HHS or USDA or ACORN, or pick you favorite social welfare agency/advocacy group should bear just as much responsibility as the NRA for the high rates of violent crime and locally concentrated high rates of gun-related murder that plague American inner city communities.

  • Holly (aka Med Student)

    “if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”
    Does the President really believe this is true? It’s a great sound bite, but in application it’s a road you don’t want to go down. If we could save one life by reducing the speed limit everywhere to 25 mph, should we do it? If we could save one life by having every person get a CT scan every year, should we do it? If we could save one life by locking up every person with mental illness in an institution, should we do it, 4th Amendment be damned? Maybe all these new gun measures could save one life, but that does not necessarily justify theml. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good arguments for these ideas, but the whole “if it saves one life!” argument is just stupid. There needs to be further justification than that (i.e. it’s not onerous, it doesn’t infringe on people’s rights, etc.)

  • sg

    Good point, Holly. In fact it may even be the worst kind of trade off, the kind where saving lives from cause A will result in more lives lost from cause B which was itself increased due to reducing the factors that contributed to cause A. It can be a medicine more deadly than the disease.

  • sg

    Okay, I found a site called Gun Policy. I don’t know if it is left, right, neither.

    Anyway, look at Barbados, a fairly well run Commonwealth country whose gun policy is rated as restrictive. US is rated as permissive.

    Barbados homicide rate is 11. 3. US, 5.1

    Barbados gun homicide rate is 3.0. US, 3.6.

    Their gun homicide rate is only slightly lower even with more restrictions on firearms.

  • fjsteve

    I’m especially grateful for the extra time and money that will be poured into the CDC for researching the causes of gun violence. I’m sure they will come out with a completely unbiased, non-politicized report loaded with helpful recommendations.

    [/sarcasm]

  • Hippoaugustine

    Let’s simply admit that the so-called assault weapons have less recoil and are much more useful in tactical situations. Think of the guys in Iraq, who had to enter and clear city buildings…. could they do it with a deer rifle? I don’t think so! That would be simply ridiculous. Deer rifles are clunky and gangly. They needed weapons that were easy to swing, carry, and fire repeatedly.
    Why do they want to ban them? Because they are like the guns soldiers have? This is all the more reason for them not to be banned! That’s the purpose of the second Amendment! If ever the government were to seek to become totalitarian we ordinary citizens could pose a threat to it. They try to tell us that our right to bear arms is about hunting….. but it’s not. It’s about defense. Defense from totalitarianism or monarchy or what have you.
    As opposed to the liberals who get rattled as they see hoards of people queuing up to buy firearms and ammunition, I actually find it comforting…..I know that with each new sale, it will become harder and harder for the government to ever think about taking our freedom

  • tODD

    I tend to agree with Kerner’s conclusions about this (@9:05 am). Although, come on, Obama’s existence in office has been driving conspiracy nuts to buy more guns.

    Still, I feel a lot of the discussion here is missing the point. We’re not reacting to violent crime levels in general. We’re not even reacting to gun deaths in general. I’d think it would be obvious, but what is driving this conversation is the fact that people are scared of public mass shootings in which the victims are unrelated to the murderer. That is what people want to do something about.

    Domestic violence is horrible. So is gang violence. But most of us don’t have much to fear from those, because we live in the “right” areas or are part of the “right” families. We don’t control these things, as such, but nor are they a threat to us.

    But public shootings could be. We go to movies. And malls. And our kids go to school. That’s scary. Can we just admit that? Because most of the statistics being bandied about here completely fail to address that fact.

  • DonS

    I don’t see any significant constitutional issues with Obama’s proposals, most of which are pablum. Bad policy, but not unconstitutional. This one is particularly so: “Direct the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.” Huh? Of course, per Obama, a lot of the proposals involve spending millions more of tax dollars we don’t have, for negligible unmeasurable results. The federal government should not be doling out money for “school resource officers”, for example. We need a lot less federal involvement in education, not more.

    None of the proposed measures requiring congressional action will see the light of day. Not just because of the Republican House, but also because Harry Reid is pro-gun, and there are about 8 red state Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014.

    Typical worthless Obama grandstanding. I hope everyone feels better.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Tom, that’s why people are so against all this. It’s easy to see how one more tragedy could turn this into no semi-autos with detachable magazines or no semi-autos. Not that this would ever affect anyone but law-abiding citizens, of course.

    The US effectively has the world’s largest militia. We’re going to do whatever we can to keep that.

  • Cincinnatus

    Todd,

    Fair point. But your logic–or the logic you suggest is behind the current debate–is precisely the same logic of “terror” that has underwritten the last decade’s expansion of the security state and curtailment of civil rights. Your chances of being harmed or killed in a terrorist attack are statistically nugatory, but the perpetual pall of ambiguous terror–that I could, theoretically, be killed by terrorists in a mall, in a theater, in a school–justifies prodigious measures to ensure an atmosphere of safety that may or may not bear any relation to my actual safety.

    Similarly, your chances of being murdered in a random shooting spree are significantly less than your probability of being struck by lightning. And yet here we are demanding more or less prodigious securitarian measures to construct a “mood” of perceived safety–that, gain, bear little, if any, relation to actual reductions in gun violence.*

    Recent analysts of our post-Bush security state have concluded that its most prominent and most tangibly oppressive features–e.g., the TSA–are almost entirely ineffective. They are, in the words of one commentator, “security theater” that haven’t actually increased our safety from terrorist attacks. I suspect the same would be true of any of the current proposals on the table for gun control.

    *Recall, though, that I agree with kerner: Obama’s proposals do little to alter existing firearms regulations. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

  • sg

    tODD @ 1:41

    Yeah, that is exactly right.

    Clinton had about the same effect on gun purchases, I believe.

    The truth is there really is no reasonable defense against lone nuts, kind of like it is hard to defend against terrorism. We don’t like that kind of lack of control. We want to arrange our lives to be as low risk as possible, and we generally succeed. So we are trying to see if this is a condition that can be mitigated. Likely it cannot.

  • mikeb

    +1

  • sg

    Obama’s proposals do little to alter existing firearms regulations. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Here is the part of this theatre that disturbs me. It leaves the impression on the public that the president may singularly enact restrictions on the Bill of Rights. Now, we can analyze the actual documents and note that it isn’t actually the case, but perception can gather momentum. Kind of like some people think that they are entitled to social security, social welfare etc, when in fact, there is nothing stopping a simple majority in Congress and a presidents signature from sweeping it all away. Not true in the case of gun rights. These are constitutional guarantees that can’t be infringed even by Congress and the president. I would expect an immediate challenge just due to the appearance of impropriety.

  • Steve Billingsley

    tODD,

    I agree – but is it a coincidence that most of the mass shootings occurred in “gun-free zones”? I am not a gun owner and am not particularly interested in everyone packing heat as if this were Dodge City in 1875 – but I fail to see how any of these executive orders or any legislation discussed would deter the type of deranged gunman mass shooting incidents (scary as they are) that have prompted all of the discussions. I think is political gasbaggery designed to win a few news cycles and bump a few poll numbers (or depress the poll numbers of the opposition)

    Call me cynical – but that is all from the perspective of our political leaders that this is about.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@2:10 pm), you’re reading too much into what I said (@1:41 pm). I didn’t actually call for any particular approach to this reality. I just wish people would limit their approaches, whatever they are.

    Yes, the fact that the chances are very slim that you will ever be shot in a public mass shooting should mitigate against highly expensive solutions that seriously alter or harm our way of life. But that is not the same as saying that we should therefore do nothing. There still has to be a cost-benefit analysis.

    So, sure, I saw somewhere that Obama’s proposals would cost $500 million. Not sure if that’s for the executive orders alone, or for the proposed laws that are unlikely to get passed. But it’s almost certainly not worth it if the millions are just from the executive orders, since the cost is quite high, and the benefits rather dubious.

  • tODD

    Also, for the record, most mass shooters (76% of them) in the past three decades have preferred semiautomatic weapons. Of those semiautomatics, two-thirds were handguns.

    And 80% of those weapons used in those mass shootings were obtained legally.

    So, while it might enrage fans of guns (though, honestly, when are they not enraged?), I’d suggest that any action undertaken to have a meaningful impact on mass shootings would likely have to take these facts into consideration.

  • Tom Hering

    Re: an armed citizenry prevents tyranny (Hippoaugustine @ 12:26 pm). True enough in the 18th century, I guess, though rebellions in our nation’s early history seemed easy enough for our then-small government to put down. So I wish all the luck in the world to any individual or community that thinks private gun ownership would stop today’s government – with its tons of firepower, manpower, and advanced technologies of all kinds – from taking away any freedoms it wanted to. Besides, government has plenty of ways to take away freedom that don’t require the use of armed force, and so a rise in tyranny is unlikely to come down to a situation involving armed resistance. I highly doubt a gun-toting citizenry would give a tyrannical government pause in this day and age. (According to some commenters here, it certainly hasn’t so far.)

  • fjsteve

    Tom: with its tons of firepower, manpower, and advanced technologies of all kinds – from taking away any freedoms it wanted to.

    Like the kind of firepower it used against the armed citizenry of Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan? How did those go?

  • tODD

    FJ (@4:36 pm), I’m pretty sure we were fighting actual armies with actual military equipment in most of the wars you just referred to. And not, you know, citizens who just happened to own guns.

  • Trey

    It’s not hard to make a semi-auto into an auto especially if you were in the military, which a vast amount of our citizens were. The discussion is futile since the 2nd Amendment bars any restriction on free people to protect themselves from their government. Obviously some commenters need to read the Constitution and Federalist papers.

  • fjsteve

    tODD, Unless I’m mistaken, the conventional wars ended in 2001 in Afghanistan and 2003 in Iraq. Since then, the bulk of the fighting–and the bulk of the casualties–have been against insurgents armed mostly with RPGs, IEDs, and small arms and as opposed to conventional armies.

  • kerner

    Tom H fjsteve and tODD:

    Obligatory disclaimer. I truly hope and pray that that nothing like this ever happens here.

    But having said that, I believe that fjsteve’s analogy is very apt, at least as far as to Iraq and particularly Afghanistan are concerned. Our military defeated the Iraqi militiary in short order. But to claim that the US military had no trouble with the armed citizenry of Iraq is just wrong. For a very long time opponents of our opperations there claimed that our attempt to deal with the Iraqi citizenry using our military was hopeless and we should withdraw. That turned out to be incorrect, but there can not be any question that significant portions of the Iraqi armed citizenry gave us a lot of trouble for years.

    Afghanistan is an even better example of an armed citizenry being a formidable problem for our military. Despite all our drones and satellite surveillance and high tech equipment, the armed citizenry of Afghanistan is giving our military all kinds of trouble. And there is a significant chance that the armed Afghans will out last us, because we are running out of patience and out of reasons to try to subdue them. And this is with the Afghan military and police on our side (theoretically).

    Is it not possible that a large enough number of armed and determined Americans could give the military just as much trouble?

    Which brings me to another important point. The kinds of people who want to privately own guns (and worry about a tyrannical government), and the kinds of people who volunteer for the military tend to be the same kinds of people. This is one of the greatest safeguards we have against the would be tryannical government using the full force of our military might against Americans. I mean, think about it. We won’t even use our really heavy stuff in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you really think that our military is going to nuke Cincinnatti? And of course, armed American civilians won’t want to turn their weapons on their friends and relatives in the military either. Each armed group tends to think of the other as being on the same side. I consider this a good arrangement involving mutual care and respect, and I do not see any benefit in changing it. We certainly shouldn’t change it to return to a system in which (like feudalism) a military class lords over an unarmed and helpless civilian population. That would really be the end of every principle this country was built on.

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, kerner, I wonder if contemporary Syria might be a more apt example: the State versus its people. Presumably, the state should conquer easily. But it isn’t, and it won’t.

    I wouldn’t exactly equate myself with survivalist militiamen stocking up arms for the coming revolution, but I always shake my head at those like Todd–sorry, Todd–who suggest that the very idea of revolution or resistance against the state is a quaint, antiquated idea. And even if it weren’t, these folks note, the government has bigger guns, which apparently means we should just surrender all our most of our guns and concede that the Second Amendment is outdated. That is, suspend all rights to resistance ahead of time.

  • kerner

    Cin @6:06:

    All very true.

    This is the motivation of the true left wingers. They believe, that the collective is more important than the individual. And there is another principle implicit in left wing thought that left wing Christian left-wingers try to ignore, and that is the idea that man is evolving, getting better, becoming more civilized, etc. And they believe, truly believe, that the most evolved among us, the best educated among us, should make the decisions for the rest of us through government central planning. They don’t want to think about the possibility that the oh so educated, civilized, evolved people who do the planning are simply fallen men, who, when given great power over other people, will simply use that great power to sin greatly against the people they control.

    The Second Amendment is nothing more nor less than one of the many checks and balances built into our political system. The Second Amendment, simply declares that the government shall not have a monopoly on the right, nor on the means, to use force. Because the individual is an integral part of his own government, and because by dividing power (even the power to use force), so that no one’s power is too great, no one has the ability to greatly abuse power either.

    The left has no use for checks an balances, because (to them) political power is the means by which progessive, educated, enlightened, evolved, non-sinner leaders will solve all our problems. The last thing they want is for the un-evolved to have some way to check or balance against that.

  • Tom Hering

    The way the second amendment has morphed from a guarantee that state militias could protect their experiment in democracy from foreign invaders, to a guarantee that individuals could protect themselves from their own government, shows just how sick the the conservative movement has become in the past few decades.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@6:06 pm), shake your head at me all you want, but you got my position wrong:

    I always shake my head at those like Todd–sorry, Todd–who suggest that the very idea of revolution or resistance against the state is a quaint, antiquated idea.

    No, my argument is that rebellion against the authorities that God has established — unless said rebellion is for the express purpose of obeying the commands of God — is sinful and to be condemned by Christians. Quaintness has nothing to do with it.

    In fact, it is my position that is far more likely to be derided as quaint or antiquated by those who are influenced by the relatively recent American experiment (moreso, sadly, than they are influenced by the words of Scripture).

    Many a sophisticated right-winger, wishing to at least pay lip service to Romans 13, will, of course, make many an elaborate argument about how, in America, we’re all authorities established by God. But, in the end, this boils down to every man deciding for himself when he’s had enough from the government, and it all ends up the same, anyhow: armed rebellion.

    But in America, we think that’s a Good Thing. Guns gave birth to our country, and you just don’t speak ill of your mother.

  • fjsteve

    Tom, 8:14pm:

    You are mistaken. This concept of an armed citizenry providing protection from tyranny is not new. It’s as old, even older than the Second Amendment itself. If there is any morphing of views, it’s that the Second Amendment was primarily to allow citizens to hunt or defend themselves from petty criminals. It was always seen as a deterrent of tyrants and there was little distinction made between foreign tyrants and would-be tyrants in our own government.

  • andrew

    the issue appears to be your recent national history (i’m watching a doco series on your civil war – forgive any ignorance or over generalisations). that within a few generations your great grandfathers had to take up arms to fight your fellow citizens to overthrow evil probably makes you more sensitive to tyrannical governments than many other countries.

    if the objective is to be able to form militias, then having long guns which would be useful on a battlefield makes sense. however, that so many of the guns are handguns, used not much for hunting, and not overly useful for military operations indicates that there is something else at play here. the desire to protect from tyranny from above has morphed into fear of fellow citizen, and a need to protect against him.

    the clock can’t be wound back. the criminals and mentally unhinged would not hand in their guns even if it was accepted among the wider population that this was something that was a good idea. I hope you guys find a way to reduce the death toll from improper use of guns. i’m not being sarcastic or glib. a solution of some sort needs to be found and there isn’t any easy one.

  • Kempin04

    tODD, 3:17,

    I’m a fan of guns, and I’m not enraged.

    Seriously, though, you cite the fact that 80% of guns used in crimes were legally obtained. I’m supposed to conclude from that that legal guns are causing crimes. Wouldn’t it also be valid to conclude from that statistic that illegal guns are difficult to obtain? Contrary to the contrived narrative that tripping over guns in flyover country, buying them in bulk at the hardware store and irresponsibly placing them into the hands of children, there are actually quite a few good and effective gun laws out there. Background checks already take place, for instance. Felons and the mentally incompetent are not allowed to buy guns. These things are already in place. If anything frustrates the informed gun owner, it is the general ignorance of the debate and the irrational demagoguery.

    By the way, your comment at 1:41 is a rather eloquent argument for concealed carry. I don’t know where you stand on that, since you spar quite a bit with positions you don’t necessarily hold, but seriously, you are right.

    For the record, though, I don’t like to hear you throw around the premise that those who purchase guns are conspiracy nuts or perpetually angry.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@8:14: Speaking as someone who does not consider himself a member of the conservative “movement,” I would like to point out that your interpretation of the Second Amendment is as wrong as any interpretation could possibly be given contemporary jurisprudence on the subject. According to D. C. v. Heller, decided way back in 2008, the Second Amendment does protect an individual’s right to bear arms. In fact, the Court specifically disclaimed your interpretation: that the Second Amendment was only intended as a guarantee of officially organized state militias, either against the national government or against foreign invaders. Incidentally, the Heller decision was rooted in more or less rigorous historical analysis that examined the texts surrounding the construction of the Second Amendment (i.e., they Court practiced an “originalist” archival interpretation).

    Of course, you’re free to disagree with the Court. But–and allow me to channel one Peter Leavitt–you should also have the cojones to acknowledge that you are also departing from the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution itself–both its original meaning and its contemporary meaning, per the Court’s dictum. Just don’t pretend that your interpretation is the right interpretation. It’s not. According to both the Founders (filtered through the Court, anyway) and the Court itself, the Second Amendment protects my right and your right to bear arms to defend yourself against criminals and, more importantly, against the government itself. Neat.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Apparently, then, the Second Amendment itself contradicts the specifically Lutheran understanding of Romans 13. Since my particular distaste for Lutheran political theology has been articulated on this forum in the past, I’ll leave that dilemma for you to resolve.

  • Tom Hering

    Wow, I am so not surprised that a conservative court validated the conservative movement’s reinvention of the second amendment, reversing traditional interpretation.

  • tODD

    Kempin (@8:56 pm):

    I’m a fan of guns, and I’m not enraged.

    Well then, you’re not paying attention. Wait, sorry, I’ve applied the wrong cliche. … Fine. But you are at least part of a minority when it comes to vocal gun owners on the Internet, yes?

    80% of guns used in crimes were legally obtained. I’m supposed to conclude from that that legal guns are causing crimes. Wouldn’t it also be valid to conclude from that statistic that illegal guns are difficult to obtain?

    Perhaps so. But wouldn’t that then further suggest that it would behoove us to make semiautomatic guns illegal, so as to make the preferred weapons of mass murderers more difficult to obtain?

    there are actually quite a few good and effective gun laws out there

    Glad to hear you say so, but surely you’ve noticed that not all your fellow gun-owners — on this thread, to say nothing of what one can discover in less-enlightened corners of the Internet — agree with that sentiment.

    By the way, your comment at 1:41 is a rather eloquent argument for concealed carry.

    Is it? How? I realize there is this theory, popular among many gun owners, that they will one day be declared a Hero when they shoot down the bad mass murderer. But I’m not aware of any actual examples of this sort of thing happening. “But how can it happen,” they will usually protest, “When mass murders take place in gun-free zones?”

    Well, as it happens, the shooting in Oregon (somewhat overshadowed by the one in Newtown) took place in a “gun-free” mall, but one man claimed that he was carrying a concealed weapon at the time, anyhow. Which tells you how effective such “gun-free” zones are, at least when they are enforced by nothing more than signage. And, though the man in question claims that he might have influenced the shooter to kill himself, all we really know for sure is that the man with the concealed weapon didn’t fire it. So can you name any examples of a person carrying a concealed weapon who definitively prevented or cut short a public mass murder?

    Because I’ll gladly concede that the existence of concealed carry is more likely to prevent the use of guns in situations like armed robbery. Robbers, by their nature, want to escape with their lives, so, all things being equal, they will rob a place where they are less likely to be shot in the process. But mass murderers have a definite tendency towards ending their sprees by shooting themselves. They don’t seem terribly afraid of the threat of death, to the degree they can be analyzed as if they were any average person. So it’s not clear to me that they’re going to be frightened by the existence of concealed carry, is what I’m saying.

    Now, that said, I didn’t say that “that those who purchase guns are conspiracy nuts”. I said (@1:41 pm) that “Obama’s existence in office has been driving conspiracy nuts to buy more guns.” By which I referred to those who claimed — well before there were several public mass shootings — that Obama was going to take away all the guns. He hasn’t, he isn’t, and he can’t. And the very topic of this post makes the case. And yet, conspiracy nuts abound.

    But, you’re right, not all gun owners are “perpetually angry”, and I was wrong to say so, even if I was being flippant. That said, I still wish more gun owners were like you.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus, you said that, according to the Supreme Court:

    the Second Amendment protects my right and your right to bear arms to defend yourself … against the government itself.

    Oh, did it? So the Supreme Court is cool with Christians running into the Capitol and the White House, guns a-blazin’, because they think this health care bill has gone too far vis-a-vis religious freedom? Or how, exactly, did they phrase that right to shoot agents of the government? Can you point me to a relevant passage?

    Also, I’m not sure why you think it’s a “dilemma” that an earthly government could have a law that goes against a Scriptural teaching. It almost seems like the very idea is surprising to you.

  • Kempin04

    tODD, 1:23,

    ” I realize there is this theory, popular among many gun owners, that they will one day be declared a Hero when they shoot down the bad mass murderer”

    That’s an unfair and pejorative statement.

    To the question of concealed carry, though, I suppose if you wish to narrow it to a particular case and say that a particular policy will have this effect on this type of crime (speaking of mass shooters), well, then, that will be a difficult debate to have. I don’t posit that conceled carry will have a suppressive effect on mass shooters (though, judging from actual cases, it does seem to influence where they decide to act.) I am reasoning from the perspecive of the people you mentioned–the people who are scared that if they go to the mall some crazy might decide to shoot it up. The fear comes from helplessness. I would rather see responsible adults–like the guy you referenced in Oregon–have the choice of whether or not to shoot in defense of their children than just the choice of where to cower.

    I grant that a wannabe hero with a chip on the shoulder looking to confront a baddie is not a desirable person to carry a gun. They are also the vast, vast minority in the gun owning community, and even so there would be at least an attempt made to break them of that attutude during training.

    Seriously, though, concealed carry as an antidote for fear makes a lot of sense. If you are afraid that your child will drown or choke, you take a first aid class. You hope that you will never need it, of course, but it is a relief to the mind to know that if the worst happens you are not just helpless.

    At any rate, I usually wade in here from my perspective as a pastor. I don’t really want to become a “gun guy” on the blog, but I do want to comment that while, as you say, there are people who foam at the mouth in the debate (not referencing anyone here, mind you), they are not at all representative of the attitude of the vast majority of gun owners. Still, I value the work of those more aggressive arguers. I believe they are correct politically in recognizing that this political debate is not about common sense gun laws–as I stated, they already exist. It is about an incremental path to banning guns entirely.

    And by the way, all handguns are semiautomatic. (Well, except for a few specialized target models and cowboy guns,) therefore banning semi-autos would ban handguns and eliminate concealed carry. See how that works politically? It takes advantage of common sense people–if I may presume to include you in that category–by making only half the case. Pretty slick, huh?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD:

    I don’t think the Second Amendment contradicts scriptural teaching. You apparently do. In fact, it seems that you have a problem with the entire liberal project, rooted in Hobbes (who argues that government is a product of a contract between the people, and which the government can violate) and Locke (who argues that nothing can abridge the natural right to resistance against any government)–not to mention the American founders (who, obviously, had no problem with resisting their government without reference to the question of Scripture).

    Again, since this is only a dilemma for you–and one you historically resort to often when your other arguments against a policy seem to fall apart–I’m not going to attempt to navigate it for you. I admit that the clause within em-dashes smacks of Grace, but I have noticed a trend for some of your political arguments to conclude this way: “Yes, okay, but [my idiosyncratically Lutheran reading of] Romans 13!”

    Also, no, the Second Amendment does not protect your right to stampede into the IRS building and shoot up the accountants. It never did. It does, however, protect your right to, say, defend yourself against an abusive cop–theoretically, anyway. It theoretically protects your right to defend yourself against any armed overreach of the state. Stop using extreme/absurd cases to challenge constitutional law: the Justices themselves are careful to note that the right protected by the Second Amendment is not “unlimited.” It does not protect your right to stockpile a hoard of RPG’s to aim at Air Force One, for example.

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, Todd: It’s perfectly fine to critique or reject the liberal project (by which I mean the philosophical amalgam that resulted in modern political life, not Rush Limbaugh’s word for Democrats) at a theoretical level. I myself am critical of liberalism, though for philosophical and not necessarily scriptural reasons.

    My point, though, is that such holistic, theoretical critiques don’t really lend much to a practical policy discussion of the President’s proposals. As I explained to Tom, the Second Amendment is what it is in contemporary jurisprudence–an individual right that includes but is not limited to the prerogative to participate in militia. The President’s policies must conform with that vision or they will be unconstitutional. It’s not really helpful, as contemporary progressives have a habit of doing at the moment, to conclude that the Second Amendment itself is just a load of crock.

    Again, I do this myself. If I were rewriting the constitution, there would be more than a few clauses and amendments I would remove. But I also recognize that such proposals don’t really inform everyday political debates.

  • Tom Hering

    The second amendment has been an individual right for – what? – a whole five years now? I suppose that’s why some folks here are careful to cite contemporary jurisprudence. Let’s see how it’s revisited in future before we consider it established and inarguable.

    And Todd’s view of Romans 13 is hardly idiosyncratic. I know at least one other person who shares it. :P

  • kerner

    tODD @8:37 yesterday:

    As one who has advanced something like the argument you cite, I take it as a compliment that you consider it “sophisticated”. ;)

    But seriously, I really do think many of my fellow Lutherans, sometimes including you, have great difficulty applying Romans 13 to a constitutional republic. Your argument seems to go something like this:

    1. Paul, in Romans 13, tells us to submit to the existing power structure (“the powers that be”), as these are established by God to reward the good and penalize the evil doers.

    2. At the time Paul wrote Romans 13, the existing power structure was an empire, i.e. a hierarchical power structure with an all powerful emperor at the head if it.

    3. Therefore, all political power structures must be hierarchical, but even if the political power structure demonstrably is not hierarchical, Christians must treat every political power structure as though it were hierarchical and Christians must treat all heads of state as though they were the emperor.

    What I continue to argue is that point 3 does not follow from the first two. Using your own first premise, “Guns” did not “give birth to this country”. If all political power is established by God, then the form of government of the United States was established by God in the late 18th Century. And it is rebellion to try to take that political power from anyone to whom God has given it.

    And, the form of government God established in the late 18th century is clearly and decidedly NOT hierarchical. God, in His wisdom, established a political system in which power is dispersed among numerous branches of the federal government, even more numerous state governments, and it specifically establishes power in the people themselves. Some of those powers are specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and these include the 2nd Ammendment, which is the power of the sword. But the Bill of Rights goes further, and in the 10th Amendment states that, essentially, the people have plenty of other rights not previously enumerated, and that it is the government whose power is limited, not that of the states or the people.

    If you really believed that ALL political power is established by God, then you would believe that the 2nd Amendment was “established by God”, and you would defend it, and the individual citizens who wield the power God has given them, against all opponents (like Tom H). But you don’t, because you do not like the the nature of the power structure God has established for you. You would prefer that God had established a hierarchical power structure so you could find some easily identifiable “powers that be” for you to submit to, like the fortunate citizens of North Korea.

    Alas, tODD, God has established a political system that you find problematic and imperfect. Instead of one emperor to submit to, you find youself in the confusing position of having literally hundreds of governmental entities, and 310 million fellow citizens to submit to, and all of these have some measure of authority over at least some of the others. And you don’t like it. But that’s just too bad for you. Whether you like it or not, the President is not your boss. He has no authority to arbitrarily tell you what to do. He can only enforce the laws Congress passes, and both Congress and the President are subject to the Constitution and the courts and the states, and yes, the people. Yes tODD, to some extent, you yourself are one of the “powers that be”. You may not like this state of affairs, but by your own first principle, it is the one God has established for you. So, stop rebelling against it.

  • Tom Hering

    kerner, do Americans send their tax payments to you, or to state, local, and federal governments? Who is and who isn’t an authority, then, according to the plain biblical definition? (I’ve yet to find a kerner quarter in my pocket. :P )

  • sg

    The way the second amendment has morphed from a guarantee that state militias could protect their experiment in democracy from foreign invaders, to a guarantee that individuals could protect themselves from their own government, shows just how sick the the conservative movement has become in the past few decades.

    That doesn’t really seem to fit with what the Second Amendment says:

    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Okay first, “well regulated militia” just looks to mean “citizens well trained and able to use weapons” which back then were not so easy to use. It does not imply armies at the state level. There is no mention of the states or state coordination. Back then there were no phones. You literally could not call the police to help you when confronted with an assailant. You had to defend yourself. The free state here seems to refer to individual liberty, not independence from foreign powers (that is what an army is for). Your freedom depended on your ability or that of your parents or husband to defend you using a weapon. The weapons therefore would have to be immediately accessible either in the home or on one’s person.

  • Abby

    kerner @10:55 Now that is a good case and summary!

  • PC

    I got a kerner quarter in my pocket, as well as a Tom Hering quarter (which I really relish). Electronically, kerner and Tom’s quarter comes once a month for 31 years of honest and faithful service. However, I also see kerner’s quarter when I look out on the nicely paved street I live on and then see my city policeman drive by. Thanks, guys.

    By the way, kerner and Cincinnatus, your rebuttals and explanations above were spot on.

  • tODD

    Kempin (@7:33 am):

    That’s an unfair and pejorative statement.

    Pejorative, perhaps, in that I am not holding up such people as exemplary. But I disagree that it’s unfair, even if it happens to be unfair to you (at which it was not aimed, no pun intended). I was thinking in particular of Paul McCain’s initial response to the Aurora shooting, but perhaps wisely, he has removed that post from his site. Anyhow, it’s not hard to find examples of what I’m talking about, so I disagree that it’s “unfair”. Perhaps you are merely taking issue with my word “many” (I intentionally didn’t say “most”), and if so, I’ll happily change it to “some”.

    If you are afraid that your child will drown or choke, you take a first aid class.

    If my child is, in fact, choking, the worst thing that could result from my having taken such a class would be that I fail to save him. However, the worst case for a scenario with many concealed carriers responding to a shooting is far more frightening. It is not hard to find examples (hello, NYPD) of police officers — who are trained to deal with such situations and, I believe, required to be a decent shot — accidentally shooting bystanders in chaotic situations. I can only imagine how the accidents could multiply in a situation with several untrained people carrying weapons and trying to respond in a chaotic situation. While a concealed weapon might be of psychological comfort to its owner, it should be of little comfort to those around him. Far more people are accidentally shot by a gun than are intentionally shot by a hero.

    And by the way, all handguns are semiautomatic.

    I disagree. All handguns produce one shot per trigger-pull, yes. But handguns classified as “semi-automatic” typically refer to those with a single chamber, thereby excluding revolvers from the classification. Regardless, this was the classification system used in the data to which I referred.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@9:13 am), yes, as controversial a position as it may be, I do not hold that the Enlightenment was wholly orthodox. This is a surprise to you, I guess?

    the American founders (who, obviously, had no problem with resisting their government without reference to the question of Scripture).

    Look, unless you’re going to claim that the founders were all good Christians (a popular sentiment in some corners of the Internet, but not one I expect you to hold), then who cares? I mean, there were some orthodox beliefs to be found among the Founding Fathers, but come on. I mean, Jefferson?

    I have noticed a trend for some of your political arguments to conclude this way: “Yes, okay, but [my idiosyncratically Lutheran reading of] Romans 13!”

    I honestly am not sure what posts besides this one you’re thinking. But I can’t help but notice that the entirety of your grappling with the text of Romans 13 seems to consist of saying that I’m wrong about it. Which, you know, doesn’t actually get to the point of considering what it says.

    It does, however, protect your right to, say, defend yourself against an abusive cop–theoretically, anyway.

    Well that got qualified rather quickly, didn’t it?

    It theoretically protects your right to defend yourself against any armed overreach of the state.

    Right, like in Ruby Ridge, or Waco! Oh, wait, I’m not allowed to use “extreme” cases. Let’s see … so I need a case where someone shot at government agents, but not in an “extreme” fashion … hmmm …

    Tell you what, it’s your claim. You said the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects my right to “bear arms … against the government itself.” So, first, can you point me to where they said this? And, second, can you give an example where someone bore arms in such a manner, and it was ruled okey-dokey?

    As to your latter comment (@9:57 am), you want a “practical policy discussion of the President’s proposals”? I already gave that, in my first sentence here (yesterday @1:41 pm). But, to reiterate, I think his proposals to Congress are moot. And I think his executive orders, while expensive and ineffective, cannot reasonably be claimed to be unconstitutional, at least as to the 2nd Amendment.

  • sg


    So, while it might enrage fans of guns (though, honestly, when are they not enraged?)

    They are enraged because they are being put under scrutiny and lumped in with criminals and stereotyped and feel defamed. This is kind of like most blacks who don’t appreciate being stereotyped as on welfare, involved in crime etc, just because some other blacks are. It isn’t fair to the vast majority of gun owners or blacks who are good citizens, responsible, etc.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@10:34:

    Did you actually read my original response to you? The Court’s ruling was that the Second Amendment has always, from its original inception, protected an individual right. One reason they draw this conclusion, by the way, is that, during the Founding period, a militia included every male (i.e., every adult citizen), and every male citizen was usually required to own and maintain the appropriate service arm of the day.

    Read closely: in both contemporary jurisprudence and in its original understanding, the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Those are the facts. You can argue that universal militias are implausible, that an individual right to bear arms is dangerous or imprudent in our republic, etc., but you can’t claim that the Constitution supports your conclusion. For your vision to apply, a new constitutional amendment or a somewhat radically activist Supreme Court ruling would be necessary.

  • Abby

    “. . . a somewhat radically activist Supreme Court ruling would be necessary.” We may not be far from that.

  • Cincinnatus

    Todd:

    1) I never stated or implied that the Founders–any or all of them–were Christian or operating within an orthodox Christian paradigm. I think you misread me, and/or I did not articulate myself well on that point.

    2) I think we agree in our assessment of Obama’s proposals. When critiquing your views, I’m critiquing specifically your broader assessment of the meaning of the Second Amendment itself.

    3) According to Heller, the Second Amendment protects a broad individual right to defend yourself. Against criminals, of course. But the Court refuses to specify what, exactly, one is to defend oneself against–presumably any violent threat. Would I be justified in shooting a cop who pointed a gun at me for reasons I judge to be illegitimate? According to the Second Amendment, perhaps. According to the government’s hypothetical lawyers, of course not. But this doesn’t necessarily undermine the legitimacy of the Second Amendment so much as it points to an enduring tension in the modern liberal (as distinct from Enlightenment…) project.

    The Constitution itself is underwritten by a logic of popular resistance. Liberalism means nothing if it does not assume the right of individuals/peoples to rebel against governments they find oppressive or tyrannical. The right of resistance is simply indisputable within the liberal philosophical framework–that is, our philosophical framework. Of course, however, when is the State–even a liberal state–ever going to permit rebellion? How likely is the federal government to admit a mistake? To allow itself to be overthrown? To give leeway for Jefferson’s call for periodic revolutions? You know the answer. The logic of the state is one of self-preservation and self-aggrandization. Again, however, this doesn’t imply that the state is right (and that the Second Amendment and broader rights of resistance are “wrong”).

    4) Feel free to label me a heretic–I won’t be offended–but I’m frankly not interested in a discussion of Romans 13. For better or worse, it doesn’t really factor into my political-theoretical analysis. On most days, I trend vaguely anarchical. My default position against the State–excuse me, of my “God-appointed rulers”–is one of opposition. Maybe I can harmonize this stance with Romans 13, or maybe not. *shrug* At the very least, I can claim with some credibility that Romans 13 is a deeply contextually contingent passage that can’t be applied in a pat or “plain” fashion, as a couple of you suggest. For starters, please identify for me who constitutes a legitimate authority in the Romans-13 sense, given liberalism’s ambiguity on the topic (who is sovereign? the people? the President? Congress? the mayor? the Constitution? the UN? and what about the fact that we bind all of these folks to enforceable contracts nowadays? Point being, we no longer have a clearly identifiable king or emperor to obey).

  • Kempin04

    tODD, 1:47,

    It’s as though, for some reason, you are intentionally not getting my point.

    “If my child is, in fact, choking, the worst thing that could result from my having taken such a class would be that I fail to save him.”

    How would that, in any sense, be a result of you taking a first aid class? Knowing first aid is no guarantee of saving a life, but not knowing could be a cause of tremendous regret.

    I thank you to not take Paul McCain as a spokesman for me, or for the shooting public, but perhaps we are just reasoning with a different perspective here. You seem to want to hold on to this “hero”language, seeing an armed citizen as an amateur commando eager to rush into a troubled situation with guns a-blazin’, and if I were persuaded that this was an accurate characterization, I would agree with you. I, on the other hand, see an armed citizen as nothing more than an ordinary citizen, not only wishing but actually trained to retreat from trouble, who nevertheless has a recourse if their safety is threatened. (The guy you referenced in Oregon is a perfect example against your argument. He was armed and prepared, and if the situation had developed differently, he would have fired. But he DIDN’T fire! He DIDN’T try to be a hero. Instead, he out performed the NYPD and quite possibly ended the situation merely with his lack of helplessness.)

    You should sit in on a concealed carry class some time. I’m pretty sure you would find it interesting. And if you spent some with actual shooters, who would probably be more than happy to take you to the range, you might reach a different conclusion than the one you reach listening to the blowhards.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, how is concealed-carry relevant to this argument? First, it’s legal in 49 states and will remain that way–and soon it will be legal in all 50 states (Illinois is currently drafting its provision). There are over two million concealed-carry permit-holders in Florida alone. Only 372 people have been killed by concealed-carry holders in recorded history. I don’t mean to minimize the deaths of those 372, but the alleged violence created by private citizens with legal, licensed guns is just a moot point.

  • tODD

    Kerner (@10:55 am), I respect you in many ways, but I still think that your comment is steeped in the pride and rebelliousness that are, sadly, products of American culture and not the Bible. One tends to see this more among Evangelicals — or especially in American-centric cults like the Mormons — but it certainly is not unknown among Lutherans (where American Evangelical culture has, of course, been rather pervasive).

    Anyhow, I think your comment really misses the context of the discussion here, which is ultimately about taking up arms against a tyrannical government. We can (indeed, I will, below) discuss the notion of authority more generally, but, really, the question is: when is it okay for Christians to shoot government agents or politicians. And the answer I continually hear, even from Christians who do not consider themselves rebellious (ha!), is “when the government gets too tyrannical”. I will typically then suggest that the government is already too tyrannical, so it must be okay to start shooting now. For some reason, they always demur. No one seems to have the chutzpah to carry this line of thinking through. But regardless, the end result of this thinking is that every man must decide for himself when he thinks the government has gone “too far”, and apparently the Bible has no real guidance to offer in this, so whatever you decide is okay. Except not right now, for some reason. You know, in the future. When things get really bad. Then you can shoot.

    Anyhow, you said:

    Paul, in Romans 13, tells us to submit to the existing power structure…

    So it begins. Change a word here and there. Paul talks about “authorities” and “rulers”, not “structures”. He calls them “servants, who give their full time to governing”. You’re trying to tell me that, in America, now everything is totally different, such that we have no human authorities or rulers. That’s pretty ridiculous on the face of it. Tell it to the judge, as they say. Literally.

    Here’s what I mean. Yes, we have a Constitution. But we do not all agree what it means. And it is not up to each of us to decide for himself what it means. No, we in fact have a system — a hierarchical system — for determining that. And guess what? What the Supreme Court (“Supreme” — kinda hierarchical, no?) says, goes! Yes, much to your and my frequent chagrine, but them’s the breaks. So, while the right to abortion is not found in the Constitution, yet while the human authorities in the Supreme Court say it is, then it is the law of the land! And I know you and your political allies know this, because you do not take up arms against the Supreme Court because they have trampled on the authority of the Constitution. No, you try to elect a President (a human ruler) who will nominate justices (more human rulers) who will be approved by Congress (man, it’s just crammed full of people here), who will finally say that the Constitution says what you believe it says. And, wouldya look at that — we have human rulers and authorities, after all!

    If all political power is established by God, then the form of government of the United States was established by God in the late 18th Century.

    Hate to break it to you, but our government has not been static since 1789 or whatever. You wanna try this line of thinking, then you also have to recognize the form of government God established in 1868. And 1973. And 2010. All of which tend to chisel away at the government established in 1789. So I’m not sure you want to try this line of argument, is what I’m saying.

    If you really believed that ALL political power is established by God, then you would believe that the 2nd Amendment was “established by God”…

    Um, that’s your position, not mine, that ignores people. I’m arguing that we must submit to the actual people involved, so this argument of yours makes little sense when applied to me. Sure, there’s an intricate web of power and submission among the many rulers and authorities — there was back in the day, as well — but that doesn’t take away from the basic principle.

    Anyhow, substitute “Roe v. Wade” into your “established by God” argument and see how much you like it. Or, heck, the 18th Amendment. But I don’t see how proposing an Amendment to the Constitution, for example, is rebellion, and I don’t know anyone who believes that it is. Though apparently you do?

    Alas, tODD, God has established a political system that you find problematic and imperfect.

    Um, duh. They’re all that way. What kind of argument is that?

  • kerner

    Tom H @11:04:

    I’ll tell you what you absolutely don’t have in your pocket. There is no United States bill or coin with the image of a living, much less in office, politician on it. Some of the people depicted on our money were not even dead presidents (Hamilton on the $10 bill) or even polititians (The Susan B. Anthony dollar) or American citizens (the Indian head penny) or even real people (the image of “Liberty” depicted on some older silver coins) or even people at all (Eagles or buffalo). The point being, there is no Caesar in America who’s image is on the tribute money. Hence, there is no Caesar in America to whom we must render anything. But you ask:

    “Who is and who isn’t an authority, then, according to the plain biblical definition?”

    In the USA, the only correct answer to that is “It depends.” There are many kinds of authority, widely dispersed among many many entities. At different times and under certain circumstances the entity in authority may be the federal government, the state of Vermont, Milwaukee County, the city of Omaha, some obscure township in Wyoming (and any of these political entities may have many subdivisions), or an individual person, or it may be the judge or the jury who decides who has the power to wield.

    There are many things the federal government may lawfully order me to do that I would be required, under Romans 13, to submit to. On the other hand, if the president himself were to stand in my front yard unwelcome, the president himself, under Romans 13, would have to submit to my God given authority and get off my lawn. Such is the way God has ordained that authority should be dispersed in the USA.

    Truth be told, I tend to believe that Romans 13 is more “contextually contingent” (thanks to Cin for that succint term) than many Lutherans sometimes posit. But if you really believe that all political power is ordained by God, period the end, then you are bound by that when it comes to a power structure that gives individual citizens the power to order the president to get off the citizen’s lawn. It becomes just as wrong to argue that power is to widely dispersed as it would be to argue that power is too concentrated in one person. If it is all just God’s will, then you are stuck with what you have, and you have no right to complain or try to change the status quo.

    In a way, you <b/do have a kerner quarter in your pocket. On the side with the eagle there are the words “e pluribus unum” (out of many, one). That probably referred to the states, historically, but in the sense that authority is vested in many many institutions and individuals in this country, I, kerner, am one of those “many” who make up the greater “one”, and so are you.

  • tODD

    Kerner (@3:35 pm) said:

    there is no Caesar in America to whom we must render anything

    Sweet! That’s gonna save me a bundle come April 15! Thanks, word games!

    Seriously, what’s your point here?

  • tODD

    Kempin (@2:57 pm) doubtless we are working from different experiences. But inasmuch as you bristle from my mischaracterizing you, try not to assume that I’m just another ignorant liberal pansy or whatever, would you?

    I’m from Texas. I was in Boy Scouts (ssh, don’t tell my pastor!). I’ve shot guns. We had a decent Beeman air rifle in my house. I know, I know, roll your eyes. But I’d take it out not infrequently and shoot at cans and stuff. I’ve also shot big old bolt-action .22s at camp. While laying down. Nothing to impress a True Gun Fan, I’m sure.

    It also seems to me you might have concluded that I’m opposed to all guns and all uses of them. I’m not. My father-in-law is really into hunting, and I think hunting’s great, even though I’ve never done it myself.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@2:28 pm):

    I’m frankly not interested in a discussion of Romans 13. For better or worse, it doesn’t really factor into my political-theoretical analysis.

    Yeah, that pretty well summarizes the underlying difference in our approaches here.

    At the very least, I can claim with some credibility that Romans 13 is a deeply contextually contingent passage…

    Not only can you, but you must, in keeping with your base principle.

  • Kempin04

    tODD, 4:07,

    I didn’t mean to imply that you are gun ignorant or gun phobic, and I would never roll my eyes at an air gun. (many of my fondest childhood memories involve an airgun.) You do sound like you haven’t really shot handguns or dealt with people who handle them much, or as though the people you HAVE dealt with have tied guns to their machismo. I may be misreading that entirely, of course, but if so I do it without malice or scorn.

    Anyway, best bow out of the gun talk. Thanks for the conversation. If you were local, I would invite you over to employ some time in a fun and profitless manner, doing nothing in particular. Certainly not anything that would be considered offensive to anyone here.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    Look, I respect you in many ways as well, and I know I sounded harsh, but I also know you can take it.

    But one of the many things I respect you for is the way you have decided to act as kind of a counterbalance to the simplistic sound-bites that seem to dominate these kinds of debates nowadays. Including and especially the influence of American Evangelical Protestantism on Lutherans in the USA. I get your point that so much of the talk we hear about guns and political power seems to be just talk. Here we have the holocaust of abortion in this country, and are any of us imitating Dietrich Bonhoeffer over it? Not really. And do many of those who talk about the right to rebel against a tyrannical government given any serious thought to when or how that right should be exercized? Busted again. At least for a lot of people. As our sister, sg, reminds us so often, any nitwit with a pulse can vote in this country. And she may well be right when she argues that the (now utterly lost) former practice of limiting the franchise to heads of households who had shown the ability to produce something (property owners) was a better practice. But, (Romans 13 again) that old system isn’t what God has ordained for us at the moment. So, this is my way of conceding that your point that our form of government hasn’t been absolutely static since 1789 is correct. If nothing else, the 14th Amendment changed the amount of power state governments have. So did the Amenment requiring the direct election of Senators. And I am sure there are more.

    But come on. My comment that there is no “Caesar” in the United States wasn’t indulging in “word games”. What I meant is that there is no central authority to which we, as Americans, owe the kind of “submission” that existed in the 1st Century Mediterranean world. When I say there is no “Caesar” in America, that doesn’t save you a dime on April 15. Instead of Caesar, you owe your tax money to me, and Tom H, and Cin, and Kempin, and everybody else in America. Because we are in one sense collectively the powers that be. At the very least you have to concede that there is no single person to whom we owe the kind of allegiance that the emperor claimed.

    And anyone who ended a comment by saying that “guns gave birth to this country” shouldn’t get all hot and bothered about “word games”. When you come right down to it, weapons “gave birth” to every temporal authority ever established on earth. Swords and spears may have been what “gave birth” the the Roman Emperors, and guns may have been the mother of the USA, but Romans 13 says that God was behind all of it.

    I can grant you your point about how so many American supporters of the Second Amendment seem to be arguing for an unqualified right to rebel “against tyranny” without any objective standard as to when it would be right to do so. But I wonder whether you will grant me my point that a lot of Lutherans take a simplistic, “literalist” approach to Romans 13? So many Lutherans utterly fail to consider that possibility that they themselves have “authority” that other, more powerful men might have to submit to. So few Lutherans even consider the possibility that there might be some practical limits to the submission required of us, or that there are situations that are not so clear cut (eg. if I lived in Sicily in 1850, should I submit to the authority of the Bourbon king of Spain, or the Mafia which was pretty much in charge on the local level?), or are there any circumstances in which a Christian may take a position to try to pick which side in a power struggle ought to win and support that side? Or even come up with a third side of his own?

    One last thing. I realize that you didn’t actually say this to Kempin, but it bears repeating that the Second Amendment is NOT about hunting. It is, to stick to the scriptural wording, about Romans 13 authority. The second amendment is about the power of the sword, which has been, in America, been given to almost every citizen.

  • Cincinnatus

    Todd,

    There’s more I could respond to in your last comment to me, but I’m stuck on this: you seem to think that my argument–and the argument of others who advocate a right of rebellion–is invalid (among other reasons of course) simply because I/we temporize when you demand a specific case when I/we would take up arms against the government. I don’t follow the logic here.

    You could pose hypotheticals all day: “Would you start shooting if the government took over healthcare? What if they reinstituted the draft? What about if they raised your taxes above x% of your income? What if they prohibited me from homeschooling my children? What if the President declared himself dictator-for-life?” And so on. Am I insincere (and thus wrong?) if I can’t–or won’t–from a purely hypothetical vantage state definitively whether I and my fellow citizens would revolt in any of these cases? Why do you imply that I’m some kind of lily-livered blowhard, all talk and no action, etc., simply because I’m not willing to be painfully specific about when a right to resistance should be activated?

    Sorry, I just don’t see your point.

    I own a high-powered rifle. I use it for hunting and target-shooting, but I also keep it around the house for the purposes of self-defense. It’s my Second Amendment right, after all. Have I negated my right–or should my right be negated–simply because I couldn’t tell you in what circumstances, precisely, I would actually shoot-to-kill with my gun in the event of a home invasion? I mean, I probably would not shoot if a random pothead were raiding my fridge; I probably would shoot with impunity if a masked man were raping my wife or strangling my child. But for the infinite variety of cases between those two extremes? I couldn’t say. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a “real” understanding or commitment to my right. It just means that political principles aren’t about being able to satisfy the loaded questions of hostile inquirers. Fortunately, the law (especially the common law; cf. the ancient “castle doctrine”) remains more understanding than you are on this point.

  • Cincinnatus

    Addendum: Contra kerner’s concurrence with your complaint, there shouldn’t be an “objective standard” for what constitutes tyranny that ought to be resisted. Though there were some Reformers around the time of Calvin who tried to supply elaborate rubrics for “Christian” rebellion–rebellion is morally acceptable if x conditions apply, but not if y conditions pertain, etc.–Locke, for example, and a number of the Founders (Jefferson, among others) insisted that, for popular sovereignty to be meaningful at all, a right to resistance must be unrestricted. It would defy the definition of popular sovereignty for some moral philosopher such as yourself to demand a list of “objective” conditions for rebellion. As with pornography, so it is with the “right” time for resistance: I’ll know it when I see it.

    I’m deeply critical of the liberal project, but I’ve always been rather sympathetic to Locke on that one.

  • Abby

    “Majorities of gun owners (81 percent), non-gun owners (58 percent), Democrats (58 percent), independents (72 percent) and Republicans (85 percent) say the people who do these kinds of things “will always find the guns” to commit violent acts. . . While American voters generally favor strengthening gun laws, 71 percent do not think tougher laws can stop shootings like the one last month in Newtown, Connecticut. Some 22 percent say new laws can prevent the Next Sandy Hook.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/18/fox-news-poll-twice-as-many-favor-more-guns-over-banning-guns-to-reduce-violent/#ixzz2INy1FbWj

  • kerner

    Cin @ 8:26 yesterday:

    Interesting counterpoints. I’ll have to consider them.

  • Cincinnatus

    kerner:

    Eh, subject to change. Many contractarians would suggest that a social contract is just that: an objective list of contractual obligations that, if clearly violated, justify rebellion. But the problem then, of course, is in deciding who gets to decide when the contract has, in fact, been clearly violated. So the search for “objective conditions” is probably vain, ultimately.

    For example, it is a violation of the social contract we call the Constitution (if you view it as a contract, anyway) for the President to declare war without congressional authority. So what about the scads of unauthorized conflicts our Presidents have entered over the past few decades? Has the contract been violated? If so, has it been violated enough to justify armed rebellion?

  • tODD

    Kerner (@6:44 pm yesterday),

    What I meant is that there is no central authority to which we, as Americans, owe the kind of “submission” that existed in the 1st Century Mediterranean world.

    I think, if anything, this tends to miss the mark on how things were back then. They had political functionaries at many levels, as you find in most states across history. Which is likely why Paul refers to “authories”, plural. I really don’t get your point here.

    Instead of Caesar, you owe your tax money to me, and Tom H, and Cin, and Kempin, and everybody else in America.

    That’s just bizarre. You seem to be intentionally ignoring reality in order to make some philosophical point. Not only are my tax funds not collected by you or any other group of individuals, but the taxes I pay are not even guaranteed to be distributed to you. It all depends on what the politicians decide. You can vote to remove them from office if you don’t like what they decide, but still. I know you know all this. I just don’t know why you’re ignoring the reality of it all.

    And anyone who ended a comment by saying that “guns gave birth to this country” shouldn’t get all hot and bothered about “word games”.

    Okay, go back and read that comment again. I was speaking from the point of view of people I disagree with (which is why I followed it up with “…and you just don’t speak ill of your mother” — i.e., guns).

    Moving on, I think I’ve already said it here, but the only clear “objective standard” that Scripture presents for rebelling against authority is “we must obey God rather than men”. Sinful man being what he is, we won’t always agree where that line is, or how the rebellion should be undertaken, but I still think it’s a better starting place than “tyranny is bad” or, worse yet, “I don’t know, but I’ll know when I know”. Tyranny is pretty clearly not a Scriptural standard for ignoring Romans 13 — especially when, you know, you consider the political environment in which it was almost certainly written.

    And I also think I’ve conceded that submitting to authorities will not always be clear-cut, simply because political upheaval happens from time to time. But in asking such questions, I think you’re missing the whole point. I can’t condemn a person who is honestly trying to figure out which power to submit to. But that’s a wholly different question from trying to justify rebellion. Remember, it’s always about our attitudes. The Bible is very clear in talking about submission, while most Americans will frame everything in terms of “rights”. In other words, it’s not about “what am I owed”, but rather “what do I owe”. They’re not mutually exclusive, but I dare say only one of those questions can drive at a time.

    Anyhow, I still think your reading of Romans 13 is odd. You seem to be applying it here as if it required of Christians that they always support the status quo, never questioning anything that exists. Which seems to misunderstand the nature of submission/rebellion. Consider a different situation, that of children and parents. Children are told to submit to their parents, obviously. Does that mean that children may not make requests of their parents? Um, hardly. Jesus talks about that very activity in a positive light, and, what’s more, makes a point about how we should make requests of our heavenly Father (to whom we ought also to submit, ultimately) in a similar fashion. Is it rebellious to make requests? No. Is it rebellious even to remind those in authority over us of the promises they have made to us? No. (Again, reread the Lord’s Prayer if you’re in doubt.) Likewise, it’s not rebellious to ask our legislators to make a new law, or alter an existing one. Or to remind them of the things they need to do. Rebellion is when you ignore the laws they pass, merely because you consider yourself an authority over them.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@8:22 pm yesterday), I think you somewhat misconstrued my point. Of course, it won’t likely resonate with you because of the fundamental difference in our approaches here (to which you already referred, @2:28pm yesterday).

    But my point was to demonstrate how a “I’ll know tyranny when I know it” stance just leads to anarchy. As you have already stated you’re somewhat disposed to anarchy, this doesn’t apparently bother you. Still, from a Biblical standpoint — and, honestly, I’d be surprised if you disagreed with this — having everyone do “as he saw fit” is clearly not the ideal (cf. the book of Judges). But if there’s no basis for when rebellion is justified that’s even plausibly objective, how is that not going to produce anarchy? Surely you agree that a not-insignificant number of people have considered (some aspect of) our government too “tyrannical” for well over a century now, if not always.

    Regardless, I have proferred my own answer to the question of where the line is: when submitting to the government would be in opposition to submitting to God. Of course, sinful man can and will twist even that to justify his selfish desires. But it’s at least a place to begin the conversation, not merely a shrug.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD:

    A few things:

    1) When I said I leaned in the direction of anarchy, I didn’t mean moral or social anarchy, much less moral or social individualism. What I probably should have said is that my political views are localist and decentralist. If a formal government is necessary–something we can debate another time–it should be as small and local as possible. Conversely, I’m a huge fan of informal or “social” pressure to conform to certain norms of conduct and belief.

    2) You haven’t escaped the dilemma that your reading of Romans 13 poses. You argue that the acceptable line for rebellion is demarcated by a law, policy, government, etc., that is in “opposition to God” or that commands you to oppose God in some way. And you wouldn’t be alone in this argument; scads of Christian political thinkers in the past 20 centuries have made a similar claim.

    The problem is this: what constitutes opposition to God, and who gets to decide? Of course, this is clear enough in some cases: if the state ordered me to bow down to Baal in front of the President, I would, of course, be required to resist. But, hey, what if the state is taking my tax money to fund abortion clinics or, say, drone strikes against innocent children? These are two random, contemporary examples. Do they justify rebellion? And if so, I could turn your own earlier argument against you: why aren’t you resisting? I mean, what does it take if killing children isn’t sufficient cause? Anyway, the point is that limiting rebellion to cases that “oppose God” is barely more restrictive than Locke’s call for an unrestricted right of rebellion.

    3) Vis-a-vis your dialogue with kerner, one question: why is it so “bizarre” for kerner to suggest that the people constitute the legitimate locus of sovereignty and authority in America (or a more ideally democratic government)? That is, after all, the idea behind many theories of representative government: that our representatives–our government–represent the People and only do so legitimately as long as they are acting in the interests of the people, as agents of the people. The representative answers to me, not me to the representative. A keystone of liberal theory is that the state is merely a magnified concretion of the people. It would not be at all strange to suggest that, when you are paying your taxes, you are paying me, kerner, and your other neighbors. In fact, I think that sort of rhetoric still permeates popular political discourse and official party platforms.

    Now, for a host of reasons, I don’t buy it. But the idea itself is fairly standard. So standard, in fact, that I’m surprised that anyone except an avowed monarchist (like one of my colleagues) would find it unusual. It’s really almost an implicit premise in the modern political tradition.

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@6:48 pm) said:

    You haven’t escaped the dilemma that your reading of Romans 13 poses.

    Meh. I already acknowledged that of course there won’t be universal agreement as to where to draw that line. But then, nor is there universal agreement on what it means to love one’s neighbor, or where to draw the line in premarital sexual conduct, or what “this is My body” means, or “baptism … now saves you”, etc. I hardly think the fact that there is a diversity of opinion renders moot my point, or else we could just write off the whole of Scripture as edifying because, hey, people disagree about its meaning — a tack taken by some naive Internet atheists, but not one I think you’d subscribe to.

    Which isn’t to say that, even among Christians that proclaim fellowship with each other, there would be perfect agreement. But, I posit without much evidence, the conversations about rebellion within such groups would be much more harmonious than between groups that are theologically at odds.

    Besides, much as if one were to challenge any other single verse of Scripture as too open to varying interpretations, I would note that Scripture contains more than that single verse. So when you ask about “tax money to fund abortion clinics”, I would then refer you to Jesus’ (and/or Paul’s) words about paying taxes, and under what secular political system he likely said those words. Was it one that was abover moral criticism, or was it at least as morally decrepit as our modern one? That seems to offer some guidance to the troubled taxpayer who wants to submit to an authority engaging in deplorable acts.

  • Grace

     ‏
       ‏ What would you do in this situation?

    D.C. man who shot dogs biting boy could face charges

    By Andrea Noble January 23, 2013
    The Washington Times

    “D.C. police are investigating whether a man will face criminal charges for shooting a pit bull that was attacking a child in his neighborhood.

    The incident unfolded Sunday afternoon, after three pit bulls attacked an 11-year-old boy as he rode his bicycle through the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest, according to a police report.

    When the man, a neighbor, saw the boy being mauled by the dogs, he went inside his home and got a gun. The man killed one of the dogs. The gunfire attracted the attention of a police officer in the area near Eighth and Sheridan streets, where the attack occurred. The officer responded and shot the other two pit bulls as they continued to attack the boy.

    Another excerpt _______________

    “While public opinion might be supportive of the man’s actions, he could still face significant charges depending on the outcome of the investigation, criminal defense attorney Daniel Gross said.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/23/man-who-shot-dogs-biting-boy-could-face-charges/


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