Americans Suddenly Favor Limiting the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

TEST #3: ‘Miniaturized, lighter’… Japan’s PM Calls Urgent Security Meeting…
Pyongyang orders troops to prepare for combat…
Test A Response to ‘Outrageous’ US Hostility…
On Eve Of Obama Speech…
World shaken…


I’m fairly certain we will not be hearing too much about how “the real source of evil is in the heart of the psycho dictator of North Korea, not in the weapon he uses to kill people”. Nor will we be told that if NoKo decides to nuke LA, well that’s just part of the mystery of evil and there’s nothing we can or should do about it. Nor shall we hear many counsels about how futile it is to try to take some sort of concrete steps to keep the technology of mass slaughter out of his hands. Nor will much energy be spent on saying that if we prevent him from getting a bomb and the technology to fire it at Los Angeles, then the next thing you know the utopian arms controllers of the UN will strip America of its military and leave us prostrate before The Terrorists[TM]. All of a sudden, the whole concept that states have the right and obligation to keep the technology of mass slaughter out of the hands of maniacs snaps into focus and it all seems so sensible. It’s like the Church’s teaching…

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

…is common sense–both at home and abroad.

So what’s the basic difference between this and our own domestic debates? As near as I can tell, it boils down to acceptable losses. The thousands we lose each year to gun violence are an acceptable tradeoff for us. Los Angeles is not an acceptable tradeoff. So we accept the idea of states regulating the access of evil maniacs to one sort of arms, but reject the idea of states regulating the access of maniacs to another sort of arms.

"The value of human life starts with accepting that we are not all the same, ..."

Gun Cult Renews Commitment to Lies ..."
"Deep breaths, please, Mark, and read Scott's actual comment, which started with "We need serious ..."

Gun Cult Renews Commitment to Lies ..."
"I just found this interesting little detail in another blog:From: Sen. Ted Cruz of ..."

Gun Cult Renews Commitment to Lies ..."
"Perhaps I am just getting cynical, but this seems more like a stunt than a ..."

Every Chilean Bishop Submits His Resignation

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Steve P

    Oooohhh… I’m going to pull up a chair. This should be good.

    That is if anyone can decipher some of your occasionally Pauline syntax…

    • Jon W

      This is the best comment I have seen in months.

  • Are we really condemning it, though? The Administration’s official reaction to this latest nuclear test was pretty much exactly how they’d also describe a performance by Nicki Minaj at the Grammy Awards.

    Anyway, they’ll probably just throw some more drones at the problem and be done with it.

    • Mark Shea

      Drudge is certainly condemning it. The same Drudge that was channeling hysteria about OBAMAHITLER *posing with children just like HITLER and STALIN as he signed a couple of executive orders after Sandy Hook.

      • Nahhh…. If Drudge Were really WERE condemning it, he’d have a picture of a flashing red siren or a photo of Kim Jong Un winking. No, this is just Drudge trying to sell page impressions; a nuclear North Korea would be very good for business.

        • Mark Shea

          Ah! Of course. And yet somehow he seems to know that his audience would be exercised by the thought of Obama *letting* a maniac in Korea have arms, and equally worked up at the thought of Obama *not* letting a maniac in Newtown have arms. Canny fellow he.

          • No doubt, he is a master manipulator. I’d hope after so many years more people would be on to him (Ann Althouse certainly is), and I’d like to give his readers some credit and not assume we’re all chowderheads… but you’re probably right.

            I also think there is a difference to be made between weapons of mass destruction which can kill entire populations indiscriminately and weapons like firearms which are used largely for personal protection. To not make that distinction is to be like those people who watched the Twin Towers come down and concluded “All religion is bad and must be stopped.”

            • Mark Shea

              I don’t think he’s particularly manipulating anything. I think he’s simply exploiting a fact about his audience’s psyche: that they see no contradiction whatsoever between happily endorsing the use of state force to keep big arms out of the hands of maniacs, while having a total horror of using state force to keep little arms out of the hands of maniacs.

              As to the difference you mention, I agree. And I made it myself: we are comfy with the thought of about three 9/11s a year in gun violence death that happens privately. We are frightened of single acts of mass death, particularly single acts of mass death that might take out us or our loved ones in a city like LA. So we cheerfully endorse state efforts to prevent the latter but resist state efforts to prevent the former because fears about impinging on our own gun rights are more important to us. It’s a cost/benefit analysis thing.

              • meunke

                “we are comfy with the thought of about three 9/11s a year in gun violence death that happens privately.”
                – Actually no, no we’re not.

                Some of us have been pushing for many years for actions to be taken on the areas where this violence takes place (overwhelmingly in inner cities). However, most real solutions in short or long term are never really considered, as they go against too many sacred political cows of both parties.

                More gun control, with no other REAL solutions is the only thing ever proposed. Why? Because the gummint’ wants to put us in camps?!?! No. It’s politically viable to go after gun owners because they usually (I stress USUALLY) vote republican anyway regardless of what happens so alienating them doesn’t have much political blowback. That way politicians can pat themselves on the back publicly for ‘doing something’, while not actually doing anything of value and not having to worry about political fallout. Does mainstream America care that nothing really changed? Of course not! Honey Boo-Boo is on and they need to set the DVR!

              • I wouldn’t say we’re “comfy” either, but the fact is that 10,000 (or however many) dead from gun violence is the result of 10,000 individual choices made by thousands of individual people. 3,000 killed on 9/11 is the result of 1 choice made by 20 people. It’s not that we’re more comfy with one form of death than another, it’s that we revere autonomy and self-determination in this country to the extent that we can more readily accept the result of the sum of 10,000 individual choices than we can the result of 1 choice.

                • Mark Shea

                  I don’t think we are disagreeing. Your point, like mine, seems to be that we are comfy with three 9/11’s worth of murder if it means a perceived risk to liberties we regard as more important than the lives of those victims, but we are not comfy with the murder of, say, Los Angeles and will happily impose on the liberties of, say, our troops if we think that necessary to stop a lunatic like the dictator of NoKo from using his big arms to endanger the common good. It is, as I say, a cost benefit thing. Three 9/11s worth of gang members and lower class victims are acceptable losses. LA is not an acceptable loss. So when LA is endangered all of a sudden arms control for the sake of the common good is back on the table.

                  • We don’t disagree then. Though for the record, I never said LA was an unacceptable loss.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Okay. Fair’s fair.

          • Mark, you really don’t follow the facts on the ground much, do you? Let’s just say that governments who are in a state of cease-fire with each other, such as the DPRK and the USA, have certain calculations that are simply not the norm. At any point since the signing of the cease-fire in the 1950s any of the signing parties has the right to just stop, say “I just don’t feel like doing this anymore” and the shooting war restarts, immediately. At the start of the Korean War, the DPRK was not a nuclear power. The amount of men we risk and the treasure we need to spend to keep status quo ante if they become a nuclear power goes way up.

            We’re not rolling in dough so much that the additional expense and risk is something that is easily borne at the present. Jaw jaw is better than war war and so we’re jawing because the alternatives don’t look so good.

    • woodrow wontson

      Drudge uses cynicsm and irony to “sell copies.” A lot of what he does is tongue-in-cheek juxtapositions. He is not a face-value kind of guy.

  • Exactly which regulations are we talking about and exactly what impact would they have, and exactly who is opposing those regulations, and exactly what are they saying should be done about North Korea?

  • vox borealis

    Is this post really comparing the right of individual citizens to bear arms, as articulated by the second amendment, to defend themselves and protect themselves against a tyrannous state, to the possibility of a tyrannous state obtaining weapons for its own use? Holy non-sequitur, batman.

    • Mark Shea

      This is a post comparing the right and obligation of the state to keep big arms out of the hands of maniacs with the right and obligation of the state to keep little arms out of the hands of maniacs. It’s only complicated if you want to pretend it is.

      • There is no obligation of a state to keep big arms away from maniacs other than the NPT treaty (which the DPRK has withdrawn from). Were there to be such an obligation, the number of wars and war dead would be much higher, something that I am opposed to.

      • Thomas R

        I agree it’s not complicated. A tad goofy and off-kilter yes, but not complicated. (For the record I’m not opposed to all gun control. I am opposed to ridiculous analogies and histrionics)

  • meunke

    “the real source of evil is in the heart of the psycho dictator of North Korea, not in the weapon he uses to kill people”
    – Well, it still is.

    Also, nuclear arms =/= firearms. I honestly don’t know of a single person who advocates for Americans to own nuclear weapons. Much like heavy artillery, such devices do NOT meet the standard of militia/infantry weapons, so the comparison makes no sense.

    “This is a post comparing the right and obligation of the state to keep big arms out of the hands of maniacs with the right and obligation of the state to keep little arms out of the hands of maniacs. It’s only complicated if you want to pretend it is.”
    – Or, it gets complicated when you try to combine two different things into the same facile argument. Where is anyone advocating the removal of laws that prevent mentally disturbed individual from purchasing weapons, or demanding the repeal of laws that make it illegal for mentally disturbed people from owning firearms? Just like no one is pushing for the revocation of laws that make it illegal for convicted felons from to purchase weapons, etc.

    A rifle is just a little different from a thermonuclear weapon. They actually operate on a slightly different principle.

    And by the way, some of us are actually against nuclear weapons, period.

    • Mark Shea

      Since most Americans don’t meet the definition of militia/infantry *members*, I don’t really see why invoking such standards means anything. But my point is simply that we already admit that fact that the state has the right and obligation to regulate access to arms. Now we are just haggling about the details.

      • meunke

        “Since most Americans don’t meet the definition of militia/infantry *members*”
        – Those are actually two different things. Militia is defined as being the whole people, or some such based on early documents during the writing of the constitution. Career infantry? No, I totally agree, most Americans do NOT meet that criteria.

        ” But my point is simply that we already admit that fact that the state has the right and obligation to regulate access to arms. Now we are just haggling about the details.”
        – I agree. In fact, I think most all 2nd Amendment people agree too, they simply don’t know that. Everyone already admits there are limits, GOOD AND JUST limits, that can be placed on rights by our government. That’s why I pointed out that no one really is in favor of getting rid of the ban on explosive ordinance for civilians, or lifting the ban on felons being able to purchase weapons. Heck, even the most outspoken FIRST AMENDMENT people will admit that it is just to say you are not allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater.

        I think a big chuck of our problem in this debate could be solved if we simply acknowledge that, yes, we DO have the same end: the protection of the innocent and the peace of society. Once we understand that we are simply debating the means, we can begin to have civil public debates on this subject.

        • Mark Shea

          Exactly! Bravo!

        • Stu

          Title 10 of the United States Code currently classifies all men between the ages of 18 and 45, not in the military, as part of the unorganized militia.

          • There are also state constitutional and legislative provisions. Washington State is actually quite a bit more expansive. I’ve got a link elsewhere (a bit lower) to the actual definition. It’s even gender inclusive.

      • Ken B

        Actually Mark, according to statutory law, there are over 50 MILLION members of the militia, even excluding the National Guard. Every able-bodied male between the ages of 17 and 45 are part of the militia, whether they want to be or not, and whether they are part of the National Guard or not. Or do you have some other law that contradicts that?

        (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
        (b) The classes of the militia are—
        (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
        (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

        • Stu

          Ken B,

          As you can see, I made the same point. Have been making it repeatedly during this entire discourse. It just doesn’t seem to stick.

          Whole bunch of men out there who don’t know they are in fact militia members.

        • Mark Shea

          Ah! I stand corrected! So we are all members of an invisible militia as ordained by a law most of us are unaware of and which allows, but apparently does not require us to be armed. Okay then. Clearly, this demonstrates that what? The catechism is wrong to say that the state has the right and obligation to regulate arms?

          • Stu

            No, it simply demonstrates that your premise above, regarding people not being part of the militia, is not quite correct.

            Many often assert that the militia is just the National Guard and therefore there is no need for people to have arms of any kind. That of course is not a good argument.

            Just promoting accuracy and knowledge for the sake of accuracy and knowledge.

          • meunke

            The legal definition of what ‘militia’ is does not violate the catechism.

            • Mark Shea

              True. I’m… not sure why that matters.

          • And actually in the city next to the suburb I practice in, the law states that it is illegal for me to not join if the sheriff appoints me as one of his posse. And this city is on the Illinois side of St. Louis!

      • Please go read your state code. I believe you live in Washington state. The relevant code is RCW 38.04.030 and should take about a minute to work your way through. It is not even in legalese.

      • Thomas R

        Yes the Firearms Act of 1934 makes acquiring fully automatic weapons extremely difficult if not impossible.

        But international arms policy versus domestic is going to be kind of different. So far as we don’t prohibit other countries from having fully-automatic weapons. Heck we likely sell fully-automatic weapons to countries we really shouldn’t.

    • Beccolina

      I do. I heard a radio commentator advocating that any weapon the US government has should be legal for private citizens to have as well. He cited tanks and rocket launchers, but if he goes by that logic, it would apply to nukes as well. Insane.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Frankly, I don’t think it’s that insane.

        However, I don’t see it as an argument for civilian tanks and nukes. I see it as an argument against their military use.

      • There was, at the time of the founding, something called munitions. They were considered different from arms and under a different control regimes. The distinction in law is maintained to this day and the funniest things can be declared munitions. Certain encryption programs are under that legal regime.

    • Kenneth

      Under the theory cited by most hardcore Second Amendment folks, it would not be unreasonable for an individual to claim a right to nuclear arms, if they had the resources to do so. We are told time and again that no limitation upon military-grade weapons is acceptable because the people must be able to maintain lethal parity at all times with their government.

      • Stu

        Which ones are they? Do they post here?

  • meunke

    I would also point out that the Church speaks out against proliferation in general, which I agree. The Church also comes out totally against indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction. She does NOT offer the same full condemnation on all firearms. Even the Church recognizes there is a slight difference.

    • Mark Shea

      And if I were arguing for full condemnation of all firearms that would matter. However, I’m simply arguing that we recognize that the state has the obligation to keep the technology of *big* weapons of mass slaughter out of the hands of maniacs, but for some reason insist she cannot keep the technology of little weapons of mass slaughter out of the hands of maniacs.

      • Stu

        But Mark, people who are characterized as “seemingly” disagreeing with you on the issue of gun control are not advocating no limits. They simply believe that we have reasonable limits already in place.

        • Mark Shea

          Correct. And “reasonable limits” comes down, in practice, to saying “We’re content with roughly three 9/11’s a year in gun deaths and don’t want to consider any changes to that.” Which was my point.

          • Stu

            No, it doesn’t equate into that.

            It equates into we will never be content with anyone dying by a firearm, but we don’t think your ideas for solving the problem will work and will probably make the problem worse.

            • Mark Shea

              My ideas have more or less begun and ended with the proposal of creating guns that can only be fired by the people authorized to fire them. I don’t see how such devices would make the problem worse, assuming they could be made to work. I don’t claim such devices would “solve” the problem. But they seem like an obvious improvement. And they are met with (to my mind) reflexive defeatist Can’t Do Spirit. I have no idea why.

              • Stu

                I think you have no idea why because when confronted with problems in your proposal from actual gun owners, your reply has been….and I quote….”Tough.”

                • Mark Shea

                  If you mean that I do not weight the need to accomodate thousand of deaths of innocents to the need to maintain the status quo in the same way as those arguing to maintain the status quo, that is correct. Still and all, I think the idea is worth exploring and that the instant and immediate counself of Give Up, Don’t Try, Won’t Work and No Hope were premature.

                  • Stu

                    No, I don’t mean that.

                    I mean that you categorically dismissed any real concerns that people had with your proposal with nothing more than “Tough.” People, including myself, actually took time to address your proposal in a thoughtful manner and it resembled nothing of “Give Up, Don’t Try, Won’t Work and No Hope ” as you like the characterize it. I think in return, a thoughtful reply should be expected.

                    Explore the idea. Great. But in doing so, the onus is on you to answer the objections to YOUR proposal in a manner that builds a consensus that you actually have a good and workable solution. There is no shortage in the world of “good idea fairies.” Making them legitimate solutions that don’t fall prey to the law of unintended consequences is the hard part. That is what is “tough.”

                    • Mark Shea

                      Well, no. I dismissed one objection with “tough” and for the reason I stated: because I don’t weight the common good vs. the status quo the same way you do.

                      As to objections, most of these have consisted of engineering questions directed at a non-engineer, followed by the triumphant claim that since a non-engineer cannot answer engineering questions, his proposal is worthless, can’t be done, give up, no hope. etc. People who are *serious* about the merits of the proposal should, of course, refer it to an actual engineer. I was simply answering the question “So what would you suggest?” with my suggestion. I personally find it almost impossible to believe that such an engineering feat would even be particularly difficult to pull off, must less “science fiction”. It would be a work of invention like any other: subject to testing, trial, error, improvement etc.

                    • Stu

                      Actually, it was more than once.

                      You claim not to be an engineer. Fair. Well, I think to hide behind that claim when those of us who are engineers by schooling, are military men, and have experience with firearms bring up reasonable objections isn’t quite fair. Certainly not to extent as dismissing our objections with “tough” or characterizing them as “his proposal is worthless, can’t be done, give up, no hope. “

                    • Mark Shea

                      I don’t have a problem with reasonable objections. What I have a problem with is objections raised, not with a view to actually solving the problem, but with a view to saying, “What? You’re not an engineer and don’t know how to fix this potential problem? Well then clearly your idea is utopian and there is no conceivable way to fix this problem!” The person raising objections in good faith is looking for a way to make the idea work, not looking for a way to make sure it is never attempted and is batted away with “Give up. Won’t work. Don’t try. Can’t do.” Those who are *really* making reasonable objections to engineering problems say, “Hmm. Interesting idea. Of course, there could be problems such as “what if the device can’t recognize fingerprints if our hands are dirty?” At that point, the *serious* person raising reasonable objections applies, not to me, but to an engineer and says, “Is there a way this might be addressed? Do we even need to use fingerprints or is there some other coding tech that could be deployed? How might this problem be cracked?” The unserious person says, “Shea has no qualification as an engineer! His idea is science fiction. Give up! Don’t try. Won’t work. Can’t do.” That’s been my objection.

                    • Stu

                      “Give up. Won’t work. Don’t try. Can’t do.”

                      YOU keep saying this.
                      No one else is.

                      One of my initial response to your proposal is very practical. I’d disable it on my firearms. As an engineering type, I don’t like adding complexity to simple systems. Being the average guy, I’m quite confident that I wouldn’t be the only one. Now if you think putting all the time, effort and resources into such an endeavor that many would bypass is worth the effort so be it. I’m not. I think limited resources could be utilized in much more effective ways. Now, it’s your idea. Defend it and justify it. Don’t now defer to experts and/or say people aren’t taking you seriously.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Yes. Plenty of people were saying it. I wasn’t just making it up when I said people will calling the suggestion “science fiction” and “fairy tales” and rejecting it without trial. And, again, you are demanding of me what is properly to be asked of an engineer. If you asked me, I would, of course, say “build a gun which will not work if somebody disables the security system”. But it’s up to an engineer to say whether such a system is designable. I again think this would not be *too* difficult to do if somebody set their mind to it, but then what do I know? So, I repeat: are you interested in actually finding out if such a thing could be done, or in trying to figure out fresh ways to say, “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t try.” If the former, then ask the people with competence in the field. If the latter, then keep complaining that an English major is proposing an idea he is not competent to carry out.

                    • Stu

                      “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t try.”

                      You keep saying it again.

                      I propose that to solve the NK nuke crisis, we build a transporter like on Star Trek and simply beam out all of the fissible material. Sounds doable. Even saw it on TV. I’m not sure how to do it. That’s up to the engineering types to figure out. Anyone who thinks my plan is not realistic or flawed is simply saying, ““Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t try.”

                      English majors can think up all manner of things. Doesn’t mean they are workable or even smart.

                      Now you say build a gun that will not work if someone disables the security system. Again, nice idea but such security mechanisms like that are bypassed daily. It’s like an arms race. I think the resources involved in pursuing such a measure would be better spent in other areas that would be more effective.

                    • Mark Shea

                      And so you join the ranks of those saying “science fiction” to the idea. In short, “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t try.” Now it may well be that such a device is impossible to create. Myself, I don’t know. I’m not an engineer. But then, as far as I know, you are aren’t an engineer either, Stu. The only difference is, my impulse would be, “I wonder what an engineer might think of the idea. Seems worth investigating at least” whereas your reply is to say it’s science fiction and sneer at the idea while dismissing it.

                      And this isn’t even some confiscation proposal or proposed panacaea. Just one idea that seems reasonable to investigate. So yeah: I do get the very strong impression of an irrational and reflexive resistance to absolutely any suggested change to the status quo.

                    • Stu

                      No, Mark. I point out that just because you can dream it, that doesn’t make it a good or workable idea. Think out of the box all you want. No problem. But don’t get overly defensive and dismiss others out of hand just because they can (and should) find flaws in your “good idea.” In my circles such feedback is actually welcome.

                      As to my bona fides, I have a BS in Aerospace Engineering, have been using firearms since I was a teenager, qualified as a Naval Aviator and was part of a special projects squadron that specialized in introducing emerging technologies in rapid order (I was the maintenance officer), have served as the Combat Systems Officer on a carrier and now work in IT consulting. I think that qualifies for being able to identify real challenges to your proposal. But you are free to disagree.

                      I defer to your knowledge in matters of literature, writing and apologetics.

                    • Mark Shea

                      As I say, I fully expect people to “find flaws” in my idea. It’s just an idea. The thing is, when people who are interested in seeing if the idea might work “find flaws” they also make some minimal effort to noodle ways of addressing those flaws. But I’m not generally seeing that in these conversations. I’m basically seeing “Here’s a problem. What? You aren’t an engineer and can’t give the specs on how to fix it? You just suggest a general idea of how to fix it? Give up your Star Trek fantasy. Won’t work. Can’t do. Don’t try.” It’s the attitude of “terminate with extreme prejudice” that bleeds through in the conversation. I get no sense whatsoever that there is any interest in really attempting to think about how the problems might be addressed. Just a demand that *I* fix them and, when it’s obvious I have no qualification for doing so, dismissal with a snort. Oh, and a complaint that I’m either defensive or mean for noting that attitude suffuses the dismissal. I’m glad you are an Aerospace engineer, but why should I suppose that makes you an expert in security technology. I know rather a lot about Catholic theology, but ask me about Hildegard of Bingen and I don’t know too much. Specializations means a small class of people know a lot about a very narrow bandwidth. So while I respect that you know *something* about engineering and a lot about aerospace engineering, I have no particular confidence that you know that the sort of engineering my idea calls for is Star Trek science fiction.

                      Meanwhile, there’s already an Intelligun out there that *somebody* thinks is worth trying to market. No idea if it will be a success or not. But, as I say, I’m just sitting here thinking, “Seems worth exploring.” And that’s basically all I’ve had to say here: Here’s one measly idea worth exploring. And even that gets hooted down with “I think the resources involved in pursuing such a measure would be better spent in other areas that would be more effective.” In short, you illustrate my point that when it comes to *big* arms we think it worth trying to keep them out of the hands of maniacs like the NoKo dictator, but when it comes to little arms we think “such a measure would be better spent in other areas that would be more effective.” Me: I think we don’t necessarily have to choose between addressing the sickness and evil in the soul of the shooter and building tech that makes it harder for evil shooters to shoot innocent people. We’ll see what happens with Intelligun, I guess.

                  • Stu

                    Mark said…”As I say, I fully expect people to “find flaws” in my idea. It’s just an idea. The thing is, when people who are interested in seeing if the idea might work “find flaws” they also make some minimal effort to noodle ways of addressing those flaws.”
                    And now we come back full circle to your response of “tough” when confronted with real shortcomings to your proposal. One can recognize that an idea is flawed and not have a solution for the flaw. In fact, sometime the answer is that the entire concept is flawed. But in the world of development of technology, the onus is on the guy proposing the ideas to answer the shortcomings. Not those who give him feedback.

                    • Mark Shea

                      In oher words, “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t try.” I really don’t get that. My reply “Tough” was initially to the objection that the new device might cost more. We make new improved things that cost more all the time. We even mandate them (as for instance with seat belts and air bags). The argument that this somehow makes the tech improvement impossible and not even worth examining just sound to me, once again, like a counsel of defeat with no interest in even considering whether it can be done.

                      What puzzles me is that I get the distinct impression that even granting the tech could be made to work *perfectly* at the same cost as current tech, you and others would still be saying it is counter-productive. I don’t get that at all.

                    • Stu

                      “Can’t do. Won’t work. Give up. Don’t try.”

                      YOU keep saying that. In fact, you keep trying to wrongly attribute that sentiment to me. I have not tried to characterize your position in such a manner. I haven’t called you “gun grabber” or asserted that you “want to take all of the guns.” I think in return, you could have the decency of treating my position in a similar manner. Seems fair. Seems reasonable. Seems like the gentlemanly thing to do. So please consider making a change in that regard.
                      I did point out that this will drive up the cost of firearms (and much to the glee of the manufacturers). Do I think that is a concern? Absolutely it is because even those among us will little resources have a right to be able to defend themselves with the government coming in and making it cost prohibitive and then making it illegal for these people to bypass such things. That’s an issue and I think glib dismissal of such aren’t indicative of trying to find good solutions.
                      I can point out other valid concerns, as others have done here as well, from people who have technical backgrounds, understanding of the use of force in stress filled situations and how technology breaks down in such events and with actual experience with firearms. With the believe that nothing is “perfect,” I am skeptical of how far such technology can go. Yes, Kodiak arms is attempting to market such a gun. At this point it is FAR from perfect in application. I’m sure some new gun buyers will purchase it or those with questionable relatives living under their roofs, but I am confident that most experienced gun owners will pass on such technology as just creating more complexity that will break and fail when at the worst possible time (paging Mr. Murphy.) You want to sell your idea as being good, then you need to convince people like this, take their critiques and challenges on board and answer them. Even if you are just and “English major,” your dismissal of such concerns as being concern only for the engineers chips away at any credibility you have in putting for the idea. Imagine if you approached apologetics in that manner.
                      My experience is heavy in technology integration. It’s a complex challenge to get it write. In my experience working in DOD, we routinely attempt to over-engineer systems that should be simple to our own detriment. In fact, as an aside I think too much technology in the cockpit has made a whole generation of shitty aviators. When you need a firearm for self-defense, it needs to work. Except for the most steely-eyed warriors among us, those times are often filled with extreme stress as well. Knowing that allows you to “war game” such a system and find possible points of failure. I could rattle off a bunch right now on the Intelligun to the extent that I wouldn’t want one. I’m not ready to put the self-defense concerns of my family in such a product and will be extremely reluctant to do so for the foreseeable future. Simple is better. It’s why I like my 1979 F250 and in the plane only use minimal computer aided tactical apps to do my job.

              • meunke

                “I don’t see how such devices would make the problem worse, assuming they could be made to work. I don’t claim such devices would “solve” the problem.”
                – I honestly don’t think that ‘if they could be made to work’ is a concern. There have been things like that before, I think, and they ‘worked’. Most of the time.

                The problem is in the nature of the firearm itself. We have sophisticated electronic locks on lots of stuff, but anything that may be depended on for one’s life always has an override. I took a look at the video you linked to in one of your posts (i forgot when that was), and looked up the tech. Yes, it ‘works’. That isn’t deniable. The real question I that I think is at the heart of the matter is, is it advisable to FORCE everyone to use it? Let’s just look at the ‘smart gun’ you linked to:

                It’s a drop in conversion, for right now, only the 1911 style semiauto, but it is possible to manufacure it as part of the firearm. It can also be easily removed and the firearm made to function without it in a matter of moments. It also has a mechanical override you can use, looks like an allan key, that makes the weapon function without the handprint.

                That last part is critical. Why? Because if someone used the product, and it failed, and it caused someone to lose their life, they would be sued into oblivion in our litigation loving society. And they would win. This is the case not just with guns, but anything really. Even the lock on an Iphone can be bypassed if you are dialing 911.

                The ‘reading your print’ thing is pretty cool, actually. And if released on the free market, I’m sure there will be buyers for it. Forcing someone to use it is a bad idea, though, especially without an override.

                Watch the video again: see how carefully the guy grabs the pistol? In a taget shooting or hunting setting, such is not THAT much of a problem. In a self defense situation? That is a MASSIVE handicap. If your hands are dirty?? greasy? bloody? wearing gloves in cold weather? What if your primary hand is disabled and you now have to use your off hand? What if, for whatever reason, you can’t ‘grab the pistol normally’? What if I’m disabled and my young son has to grab it to defend the rest of my family, as what happened with the 13 year old with his father’s shotgun in Florida who protected his 11 year old sister from armed intruders? These situatuions happen a lot. It’s also why the cops never adopted this or the earlier versions.

                There is really only ONE situation where such a device would be helpful: in an actual violent encounter where you are defending your life, someone grabs the firearm and turns it on you immediately. In all other situations, the device can easily be removed/disabled. Guns are less like Iphones and more like, say, a rowboat. Put fingerprint reader on the oars of a rowboat and you can still get around it. Guns are really that simple.

                • Mark Shea

                  Again, these are all considerations for engineers and would be addressed as the tech develops.

                  • meunke

                    Have been in the firearms field for quite a long time, I would agree that some could certainly be addressed. Others could not.

                    My point is that if our desired end is really the protection of the innocent and the peace of society, then we need to find the way to reach that end with means that actually do the most good. It is my opinion that the means you suggest are not anywhere near the best way to do that. (note, this is not saying “won’t work, don’t try, etc.” It is a disagreement on the utility of your means compared to other means, that’s all.)

                    • Mark Shea

                      I’ve already said that such tech fixes would need to happen in tandem with addressing the root of the problem, which is our spiritually and morally diseased culture. I am skeptical that we have to choose between addressing tech fixes and addressing moral renewal. I think it’s a both/and, not an either/or problem.

                      By the way, I’m not wedded to the different caliber idea. Mostly I’m simply thinking of finding a way to phase out bullets that work in old guns and phase in bullets that only work in the new ones. I can imagine some sort of engineering trick that would create bullets that could only fire under certain circumstances peculiar to the new guns. Again, a problem for engineers that is likely not all that insuperable.

      • meunke

        “keep the technology of little weapons of mass slaughter out of the hands of maniacs.”
        – I think this statement is ambiguous and comes close to being a strawman. As I have pointed out, no one is against law making purchase or possession of firearms by mentally ill, or felons, etc. illegal.

        The real debate, I think, comes down to this: To what extent shall we use the law to limit civil freedom (as any law is a limit of some kind by its nature) to gain a MEASURABLE amount of safety for society? (‘measureable’ here is extremely important)

        What do you think>?

        • Mark Shea

          Pretty much all I have to say is here. I think confiscation of guns is untenable and impractical. So I think the smart approach is, over time, to phase out guns that can be fired by any maniac and make guns that can only be fired by the people authorized to do so. Nobody with a right to a gun is denied one. Those with no right to a gun can use the gun, even if he acquires one, because the gun can’t be fired by those unauthorized to fire it.

          It’s not a “solution”. But it obviously would help, it seems to me.

          And of course, it would be implemented in tandem with other realities, such as the need to revisit our mental health system, penal system, etc. It’s perfectly true that evil is rooted in the heart, not the weapon. It’s just that, on the whole, I feel safer when the evil heart of the North Korean dictator or Adam Lanza *doesn’t* have access to weapons of mass slaughter.

          • meunke

            Can such tech be made to ‘work’? Yes. Is such a limitation advisable? No, I don’t think so. And it wouldn’t’ solve the problem, or help to be honest. Please see my above details on the ‘smart gun’.

            As far as ‘only the people allowed to have it could operate it’, you run into a SERIOUS problem I don’t think you’ve considered, nor has any other commentator that I’ve seen. It revolves around this question: In addition to forcing all civilians to ONLY own this type of print reading guns, would you also force all law enforcement levels and ALL branches of the military to comply as well?

            This is actually a serious question, because if you answer ‘no’ (which is honestly the only realistic answer) you haven’t solved anything. Am I insulting ‘can do’ America? No, I’m simply extrapolating on what data we have.

            A very similar situation exists in many south american countries and eastern europe. In those countries, civilians may NOT own any firearm or ammo that is ‘military’. This means no 9mm, no .308, no 5.56, etc. It’s a SEVERE limitation, and closely mimics what you’re suggesting. However, most all the violence takes place by lawbreakers armed with… you guessed it… military calibers. They steal it, buy it from corrupt people, etc.

            In the end, Mark, my point is that if we are willing to expend THAT much effort and control, on something that will have little effect at all, why not expend that effort instead on what WILL reduce the death and violence in BOTH the short term AND the long term and work on fixing the rot of the inner cities (which is where almost ALL of this violence happens).

            Let me ask this: Since we both agree that the ends we seek are the protection of the innocent and the safety of society, if doing what I suggest instead could be shown to be MORE EFFECTIVE at cutting down violence and murder, would it not be better to put our effort into that?

      • It is quite simple to drastically reduce gun violence in the US. You don’t even need to change the law. You just have to take the more drastic aspects of existing law seriously. Recognize the big gangs as militias (which they are in part) and call them up and let your IGs go to town on their books. And those books would be produced under pain of court martial. Be generous with pardons and amnesties for those who might be turned quickly to the straight and narrow and use the rest as labor battalions for the Army Corps of Engineers to build their housing in the Dakotas where they will be staying for quite some time.

        Yes, the ACLU would have a fit. It would give a lot of people pause, myself included. But it is a near certainty that the removal of such groups would reduce the death toll from guns significantly. And if that’s all you are optimizing your policy for, then this, or similar measures such as martial law would improve the US’ murder metrics significantly.

  • Stu

    I am against crazy people having firearms and nuclear weapons. I am confident that everyone who posts on this blog agrees. How best to achieve those ends is up for debate. The cost of failure in each instance is also of a vastly different scale. I am also confident that most people see that distinction.

  • Daniel Tobin

    I appreciate the comparison you make and I think that the moral argument is in fact parallel. But I also think there are other parallels.. One of the arguments against greater restrictions of the 2nd Amendment is that it’s mean only criminals and not the law abiding would have guns. And that gun laws don’t prevent the criminal or insane from getting them. This dimension of the issue is also parallel with nuclear weapons. However, the approach to dealing with problems like N. Korea’s program is different than the proposed solution by many to dealing with problems like Adam Lanza’s killing spree in Sandy Hook elementary. In an effort to protect the United States from a nuclear assault from N. Korea, the US will not disarm it’s nuclear weapons and ask that N. Korea to do the same. Rather it will keep it’s nukes and seek to disarm N. Korea because it’s having the nuke would be a danger to many countries. So the parallel argument wouldn’t be to restrict everybody’s access to guns but to prevent access by the criminal or mentally unbalanced.
    The treaty of the non proliferation of nuclear weapons didn’t prevent new nations from gaining nukes and the ones with nukes haven’t disarmed b/c they know a treaty itself doesn’t make them safe. And this too parallels US gun control laws. Laws by themselves don’t make us safe. And in the absence of safety, possessing weapons for the purpose of deterrence is both wise and morally responsible. It’s true of sovereign nations and I think likewise true of individuals.
    I’d be interested to know if gun control advocates agree with this or think I’m overlooking something.

  • quasimodo

    I read the comments down to this line:

    “: that they see no contradiction whatsoever between happily endorsing the use of state force to keep big arms out of the hands of maniacs, while having a total horror of using state force to keep little arms out of the hands of maniacs.”

    I stopped there. That line cause a world wide shortage of straw.

  • Stu

    I don’t like concentrations of power in politics, money or weapons. That’s what nukes are. I have much less problems with weapons that are distributed among the masses.

    • Mark Shea

      Which, pardon me, seem like a restatement of my point about deaths due to gun violence being acceptable losses, while deaths due to nukes are unacceptable losses. Cross the threshhold to unacceptable losses (and what makes the death of some innocents acceptable and other innocents intolerable is well worth examining, I think) and we happily embrace the use of state power to limit the access of the maniac to the technology of killing innocents. It seems, at first, blush to be an aesthetic judgment. Take all the people killed by gun violence in a single year and collapse three World Trade Centers on them and you have three acts of war worthy of a ten year long civilizational struggle. Kill them one at a time, without spectacular visuals, and you have some statistics that nobody really cares much about. Nukes carry a potent visual with them that involves us and people we love, plus an immense body count. Guns, not so much. In short, acceptable losses.

      • Stu

        No. Not acceptable at all. Just haven’t found a good way to end such violence yet.

        Haven’t found a good way to get rid of NK nukes either for that matter.

  • The Deuce


    As near as I can tell, it boils down to acceptable losses. The thousands we lose each year to gun violence are an acceptable tradeoff for us.

    Actually, I think that to the extent it’s about acceptable losses, it’s about whether there are any net losses at all, and in fact whether gun control would *increase* losses. I’ve seen no convincing evidence that stronger gun control in the United States would result in less violent crime or less murder, and a fair amount to suggest that if anything it would make matters worse. At the very least, it’s far from self-evident that the tradeoff you describe really exists.

    • Mark Shea

      And again, I haven’t advocated “gun control”. I’ve advocated (among other things) altering gun tech so that guns can only be fired by the people who should be firing them. I think that, over time, that would cut into deaths from gun violence. It won’t “solve the problem”. But it will help rather than hurt.

      • The Deuce

        Okay, but that’s a possible tradeoff that may be made in the future, not one that people are making right now. Also, since you were making an analogy to “arms control” against North Korea (ie, not allowing him to have certain weapons), it gave me the impression that it was an analogy to gun control here.

  • Peggy R

    One problem I have with these discussions is the premise that the availability of guns as a general matter is a problem, in fact worse today than in prior periods of history in America. When we look at instances like Sandy Hook or Columbine, which seem to upset the ruling class and media more than the daily killing in cities like Chicago, often with illegally obtained guns, we really need to be talking about mental health issues, medication for learning and behavioral problems, and the cultural war against boys. Why are boys and young men approaching the level of anger, disappointment, or distrust…whatever their individual motives…to the point that they not only want to die, but they want others to hurt and die with them? They want to take down the world around them because life isn’t what they wanted it to be. Or they are mentally ill. Or they have been emotionally or neurologically damaged by ADD or other medications. These are the important questions that few people are asking. We just decide to jump on gun regulation, when that’s not necessarily the problem.

    • Kenneth

      All of those things are “the problem” and all should be pursued in tandem with equal vigor and an open mind. The problem is we have some factions which insist guns are the only problem with one solution (bans), and people who say guns aren’t at all the problem and can’t be the problem as a matter of quasi-religious doctrine. That boils out to stalemate, and resignation to three 9/11s worth of deaths each year.

    • I think a not-so-small problem is how the debate is framed. I was watching folks on CNN discuss this, and it wasn’t hard to notice they seemed to be framing the debate as one between people who want clear and helpful gun regulations, and people who don’t care if babies are murdered. Good for politics. Good for rallying the troops. It may even win the war, in a sort of scorched earth way. But as Catholics, we should rise above that sort of tactic and try to find solutions where they are, and assume the best – not the worst – in those who may not see things the way we see them. Just a thought.

      • Stu

        “ it wasn’t hard to notice they seemed to be framing the debate as one between people who want clear and helpful gun regulations, and people who don’t care if babies are murdered. ”
        Unfortunately, it happens here too.

  • bob

    I just realized that if the milita definition is right then anyone over 45 can’t have a .45 —- that is, is no longer inthe “militia”, or at least isn’t any longer in the well ordered part of it? Big implications for gun ownership there.

    • Stu

      Fortunately, as a retired military officer I’m still part of the military.

      So I’m covered.

      Guns for me, but not for thee.

      Sounds good.

  • “So what’s the basic difference between this and our own domestic debates? As near as I can tell, it boils down to acceptable losses.”

    Friend, you are letting rhetoric usurp logic here. It does not boil down to ‘acceptable losses’ and no one who argues in favor of an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment has ever said it does.

    Are you honestly unaware of what the arguments are in favor of a republic maintaining an armed citizenry? I am not asking if you agree with the arguments, merely if you are aware of what they are.
    If you are aware of such arguments, then answer them. Answer our arguments at their strongest point, if you think your argument can carry the day. But to pretend we say something we did not say, and to answer that instead, is what is called a ‘straw-man’ argument. It is a trick of rhetoric, not something a serious man does when pondering a question seriously.

    Here are the arguments you have to address:
    First, an armed citizenry is the best guarantee of maintaining the liberty of a free people
    Second, even if this first consideration is secondary to the safety concerns which require some reasonable regulation of arms, the Congress has no authority to pass any such regulation.
    Third, even if state and local governments (who do possess that authority) wish to pass such laws, it must be done in a fashion which has the smallest possible effect on the legitimate ownership of arms by law-abiding citizens — this is a principle of the common law extending back to the Twelfth Century, namely that no law should be overbroad.
    Fourth, if a proposed law or regulation is found that places a minimal burden on lawful ownership of arms, whether the law will be efficient or inefficient? Both common sense and scientific studies show that areas with the most restrictive gun laws (Chicago, DC, LA) also have the highest rates of gun violence, whereas those with the least, have the least. See, for example, John Lott’s MORE GUNS LESS CRIME.
    Finally, the analogy between me, a law-abiding and honest citizen of a free country who has both the right and the duty to defend myself and my family from crime, assault, and tyranny, and the mad dictator who is himself one of the tyrants the whole point of civil society is meant to fight, and, with God’s help, abolish, is an analogy that looks at the shallowest possible surface phenomena and ignores the substance.
    Please resist the temptation to indulge in merely rhetorical scoring of points. Our current public discourse already suffers from far too much of this nonsense, and it generates emotion without addressing the logic.

    • Well said and thank you. Since I don’t personally own guns, I didn’t know the arguments against many of the new regulation proposals as much as I could recognize crappy arguments for new regulations and proposals. This has given me something to think about.

  • Ed the Roman

    Right, Mark, just like everybody is shitting bricks over the French force de frappe and the British Trident fleet.

    • Why I believe that *is* an examination of the intent of the owner of the weapon. You could even extend it to our different attitude to the Russian ICBM fleet as opposed to the Soviet one. In case you didn’t notice, we don’t get our knickers in such a bunch with the Russian weapons inventory even though it is *the exact same inventory* the Soviets had. Yes, hearts do matter even on a national scale.

      Somehow I doubt that Mark’s done much of a study of juche.