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2nd Amendment & Assault Weapons: a Dialogue

2nd Amendment & Assault Weapons: a Dialogue June 21, 2021

Mike Johnson is a Facebook friend. This time my words will be in blue (because they are a lot fewer than his). This exchange occurred on my Facebook page.

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There are three types of people who are pro gun control:
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A: They are simply very uninformed, not very curious and very easily led. These people are not bad, just too trusting. This is the majority of the anti-gun people.
B: People who use the topic as a way to deflect from addressing actual issues. Fundamentally dishonest people, but not that many of them.
C: People who seek to disarm others because they want no challenge to their power. There are not many of these, but they are very nasty people.
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Christopher Robin Stuart  Keep in mind that Dave Armstrong has been in favor of banning “military”-type weapons.
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[He cited my article, Gun Control and Deep-Rooted Societal Causes of Massacres (10-5-17), as evidence of this position, but I actually stated that in another post, Dialogue on Gun Control, Regulation, & Gun Bans (1-31-20). ]
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That’s a lot different from gutting the 2nd Amendment or seeking to take all guns away. I believe in some sensible measures.
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I consider Dave to be a good and decent man, as everyone here knows. However, when it comes to this particular topic, I consider him to be in group A, yes. And he knows I mean no offense by that.
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I don’t think you would disagree with anything I wrote in the above linked-paper [i.e., the first of the two linked above]. Our positions would be very close. I wouldn’t even say I am “pro gun control” but rather, “in favor of rational regulations, back-up checks, etc.” Now if you want to make an argument as to why a regular old citizen (as opposed to someone in the military) needs a machine gun-type weapon, feel free! I’d like to hear that.
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This is why I put you in group A (and again, I know you understand, but just for everyone else’s clarity, I absolutely mean no insult or offense by that). The question is a fundamental misunderstanding of the topic. You are starting at the wrong end, demanding justification to possess. As the courts have consistently now been showing, the weight is on you to prove that not only should citizens be stripped of that right, but that said stripping of right is in accordance with the intent and language of the Constitution.
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For the last 20+ years gun restrictions have been steadily being thrown away. The court is rolling up even California gun restrictions as being contrary to the 2nd Amendment, and they are right to do so, especially the so-called ‘assault weapon bans’. Permitless concealed carry is going to be the norm nationwide eventually.
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On closer legal analysis, gun restrictions and not even being enforced, even in Maryland and New York where official reported compliance with their ‘assault weapon ban’ hovers somewhere around 4% and sheriffs publicly announce they will not enforce it. The lack of any official attempt to enforce is a deliberate choice on the part of the federal government and the states, because so far attempts to enforce them on their own result in court challenges which consistently remove the laws as being unconstitutional. At this point the only real purpose they serve is a way to force arrested felons who are facing unrelated charges to plea bargain due to how many other charges they can pile on.

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The point here is that there is zero moral argument to be had at the practical level. The courts and state, federal and supreme level are starting to consistently hold to an originalist intent on the 2nd Amendment, which from all records from the Constitution’s debates and from all the writings of the Founders they specifically show that the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting, and is not intended merely for personal defense against law breakers, but rather to secure the populace’s ability to, at minimum, function as light infantry equal in armament to whatever standing military exists.
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Now one can have the opinion that the population should not have the ability to stand up to a military force, but at this point that’s like debating if we should let the wind blow. The only way to get a restriction that will not be tossed out when it reaches the courts at this point is to have a convention and formally change the Constitution, which is never going to happen.
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Even if that were to happen, which it never will, the advent of 3d printing and other modern technology nullifies everything and any attempt at a restriction will only be obeyed by the strictest of the law abiding, which neither you nor I are worried about anyway. (For a really cool example of that, which I can personally agree works very well, check this out.
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In the end, I welcome the implosion of all the laws, not just because I am a firearm freedom advocate, but because that collapse will finally force people to abandon the crutch of gun laws and actually have to address real problems we have, which focusing on gun laws has allowed politicians and citizens alike to avoid.
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So the argument is that we need machine guns because we may potentially have to stand up to a corrupt government that has a military with machine guns; in effect, that we might have to fight a civil war against our own government? The government also possesses nuclear weapons. Does that mean that we ought to develop those privately, too? That might be construed to follow from your comment regarding “the populace’s ability to, at minimum, function as light infantry equal in armament to whatever standing military exists.”
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No, the argument is that such personal weapons are what modern light infantry use (and remember, light infantry doctrine of the time was one of the roles that militia, aka the people, was expected to fill). The nuclear weapon argument is in general a red herring. It falls under what would be considered not a normal weapon of war, particularly militia related, whereas cannon, armor, etc. would.
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An interesting follow up from this: One of George Washington’s letters to Congress used to be partially quoted by gun control advocates years back, particularly the now disgraced guy who wrote “Arming America”. The part they quoted was how Washington was lamenting how militia, showing up for duty, were not properly armed. The full context of the letter explained what he meant, as the militia were showing up not with standardized muskets which had the ability to accept a bayonet, but rather fowling pieces, long hunting guns, bird guns, and the like, all with non standard ammunition, which he rightly pointed out was a logistical nightmare. The expectation was that you showed up for militia duty with a weapon capable of being resupplied and function as part of a cohesive whole, using the same equipment, or similar enough as to mesh with your unit.

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Okay, so we should be armed as much as light infantry, in case we have to fight a corrupt government, and that includes machine guns, or whatever they might use? I think that’s a decent argument.
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Of course if we have to eventually fight the US government, with the greatest military in the history of the world, then we will need a lot more than machine guns, no? At best, we could only fend off local government for a short time before being blown to smithereens. This is the problem I still have with it. I can buy your “infantry” argument above, but if it ever comes to a fight against our government, those weapons will be irrelevant in the final analysis. In other words, if you are arguing “worst case scenario” then they are simply grossly inadequate to defend our rights and our lives.
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This is a very common, but very understandable misconception. The best way to talk about it is a link to an article written by someone named Larry Correia. Be advised: there is a bit of bad language in it. It lays out the point fairly well.
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So the analogy to guerilla war and how difficult it is. That’s a fair point, too. So you would oppose private militias building big conventional bombs, developing artillery, etc.? At what point do we reach “sufficient defense”: at least enough to cause so many problems that a corrupt, wicked government wouldn’t attack us en masse? These are sincere questions. I’m thinking through this as I write. And I have already granted two good points to you.
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They already do. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no law that says you can’t own artillery, tanks, etc. People do own them. You can buy armored vehicles and tanks, both American and foreign and own them as a private citizen. Having heavy weapons is also not illegal, but according to laws requires a tax stamp and permit issued for what the NFA calls a ‘destructive device’. This would also apply to any weapons mounted to a vehicle.
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So why don’t you see cannon and tanks? Well you can, in certain places. Thing is they are pornographically expensive to own, considering our highway laws they are not street legal, you need to have special tools to work on them, they require massive upkeep and usually a dedicated crew just to do regular maintenance.
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If Jeff Bezos wanted to buy a handful of tanks, pay the permits, fees, all the backgrounds and paperwork required, and put them on whatever Dr. Evil-esque compound he has in the US (don’t tell me Jeff Bezos isn’t the spitting image of Dr. Evil from Austin Powers) that’s actually totally legal right now.
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In short, we’re in the same situation as the early Americans. Very few private people in the Revolution era owned canon or warships, not because of any legal prohibition, but because they were very expensive. In fact, the first artillery used against the British in Boston were privately owned and donated.
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As far as sufficient defense, I’m not sure how you would define that. Don’t know what criteria would be used. I think a simple answer is that if we can get people to actually address our serious cultural and social problems it would be a moot point anyway. But then, if we don’t, it still won’t matter what people try to do, if that makes sense?
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Oh, you did ask specifically about ‘large bombs’ and I didn’t give you an answer specifically about that. First of all, making and using explosives on your own land is totally legal as well, though some states do have other restrictions. The real legal restrictions come into play if you’re trying to make it to sell, or use on public land.
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Tannerite, which has pretty much the same detonation velocity as TNT (~20,000 ft/s) can be bought for cash over the table pretty much everywhere, and is a real hoot to shoot as it is shock sensitive with high velocity rounds, and is capable of doing much what of what TNT can do.

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The amount of extremely powerful explosives available in the US, or the ease with which they can be acquired (and I’m not talking about the garbage that is in ‘Improvised Munitions Handbooks’ that people used to sell, as those are famously bad directions) is surprising to people who don’t know. The reason they aren’t used in huge attacks is not because there are any effective restrictions on them, but because we don’t have that kind of problem here for the most part.
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Interesting. Does it not worry you that there might be fanatical elements who might conduct an illegitimate violent uprising: something far worse and more violent than the kooks who stormed the Capitol? Every group has its extremist fringes. Say it was 1% of 2nd amendment rights activists, who are planning some violent takeover (they can still do a lot of damage, in more senses than one) . . . does the guns rights movement police itself to weed out the nuts and the terrorist / McVeigh types? Of course the left has similar groups: BLM, Antifa . . .
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That is an excellent point, one that deserves a full reply.
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Fair enough. Thanks. Good discussion! I’ve learned several important things already.
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Well, like an organized coup or something? Nah, not really. We have had individuals or small groups of malcontents in this country do large attacks before. Explosives: Boston Marathon. Armored vehicle attack: Lookup “Killdozer” on youtube. Really large shooting attack? Las Vegas casino shooter. (speaking of him, does it not bother anyone else that they just kinda… dropped that whole deal without doing much, didn’t really find a motive or anything?)
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What prevents attacks like this? Well, nothing really. I think our saving grace (Europe too) is that homicidal psychopaths are extremely uncommon, and thankfully not all that bright usually. All the laws, by their very nature, are totally incapable of stopping anyone. I think it’s just that Andrew Kehoe types are, thank God, very rare.
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As far as policing their own, pretty much. It’s not perfect, but it seems to work. Do I have hard evidence for this? Not really, but the absence of such attacks speaks loudly. I personally think the number of weapons in this country to be well over 100 million at this point. We have no actual effective federal police force (for example, like the East German STASI who were rather efficient and effective for what they did), so it’s not like there’s some law enforcement group is actually stopping anyone. The reason there is a lack of attacks is because, that’s not what we do. To put it another way, with the overwhelming number of weapons, ease of access to them and ‘targets’ that revolutionaries and psychos tend to gravitate toward, if 2A people were a real problem, you’d know.
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I mean the last time the FBI announced they had ‘stopped an attempted terror attack’ that I remember, it turned out their own undercover people online actually talked this Muslim immigrant guy into it (if memory served, he also had some mental issues), the FBI talked him into which target, and the undercover cops provided him the ‘bomb’ he was going to use as well. So when they get excited and pat themselves on the back for stopping a ‘terror attack’ that they, let’s be honest, only almost happened because they had a hand in creating it, I don’t worry too much.
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Photo credit: MadamJenny (6-15-17) [PixabayPixabay License]
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Summary: Good & educational dialogue with a friend about some important aspects concerning the Second Amendment right to bear arms / “gun rights.” He makes some thought-provoking points.
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