I love Dale Price

I love Dale Price January 30, 2013

I’ve loved him for years. Clear-headed. True as a bell. Hilariously funny. A gifted writer who should really give up this whole lawyer gig and become a writer because the world needs him and, I’m guessing, appears to him in dreams in the form of a woman in rags begging him to come and rescue her with his sparkling and witty prose. He should listen to her.

Anyway, Dale is a hunter. Likes to use a gun. Has a sane man’s concern about things like protecting his family, the rise of the police state–and felt like all normal people the grief and anguish of Sandy Hook. He’s a deeply *good* man and a smart one. And he’s felt pretty marginalized by the national conversation on guns since Sandy Hook.

I have, alas, contributed to that for him, a man I would not willingly hurt for all the world. FWIW, I think guys like him are part of whatever solution we eventually arrive at. As I’ve said, I’m mostly still working through how to even frame the questions on this stuff. I come to it very much as Man in the Street, neither owning guns myself, nor wishing to take away anybody’s guns who should have one. I’m trying to hear both sides and, from where I sit, most of the hysteria seemed to be coming from people shrieking that Hitler was coming to confiscate our guns and march us into concentration camps or, as one my many sober correspondents put it:

Mr. Shea:

I hope you will come visit me in the camps.

Oh, wait, you’ll be the one in the camp. I’ll be dead. Never mind.

I’ve heard from an awful lot of these folks over the past month, yelling about Hitler and certain the mass confiscation and the camps and the three days of darkness and the prophecies of Medjugorje and Glenn Beck and Malachi Martin and Art Bell are soon to be fulfilled. They offer me sober advice about secessionism, demand to know if I have any better ideas than violent insurrection and panic, and poo poo the modest suggestions I do make as not even worth pursuing. They declare me “incapable of honesty” when I don’t share their take on something. They, well, just *yell* at me a lot and it gets hard to keep from tuning all the hysteria out.

The irony, of course, is that this is a mirror reflection of Dale’s experience. He too has heard from an awful lot of people who tell him he is the scum of the earth, is evil, won’t listen to reason, etc.. Arguments like this, involving the butchery of six year olds, evoke passion and primal emotions and call out the worst people from both ends of the bell curve to act as spokesmen for the vast majority of us in the middle who would mostly just like to wrap our arms around each other’s necks and bawl for a couple of hours when we think about what happened on December 14, 2012. That’s our common humanity and that’s where we start.

I don’t have any big answers here. But “love one another” seems like a good start, along with “No More Sandy Hooks.” I mourn those kids as he does, right down in my gut. I love Dale Price. That’s solid. That’s something I know. I wish I was better at loving more people. Your prayers to that end would be good.

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  • Well, I know I’m one of the folks that has directed some mighty intemperate and censorious things at folks arguing from Dale’s corner. Sorry all. (BTW: Dale, how did I not notice you have a blog? Great stuff.)

  • Really? Glad to hear it.

  • mary martha

    I am on Dale Price’s side in this discussion. Unfortunately, I have also realized that nobody is particularly interested in having a discussion.

    I like you a great deal Mark. However you have a habit of viscerally attacking those with whom you disagree with name calling and derision. It makes any discussion difficult.

    There are crazies on both sides of any issue… but judging a whole group by those crazies is not fair and is the action of someone who doesn’t want to have an honest discussion. You using that email as a justification for your postings doesn’t really justify your persistent misrepresentation of those on the other side of the issue and their positions.

    You have built an elaborate straw man of those who support gun rights and you have done a great job of attacking that. However, you and your readers would be much better served if you just presented your positions instead of attacking the positions that you have created for those you disagree with.

    I don’t think you will do that… because it would take listening to the well reasoned and well thought out opposition and that doesn’t make for a fun blog post… but it might make for a better society.

    • Mark Shea

      I use that email as representing a disturbingly large swath of correspondence I get. Like it or not, the cries of Hitler have been endemic since Sandy Hook. Apart from personal defense against attack, the *main* argument put forward for the second amendment is that it is our bulwark against tyranny. That line of argument presupposes a vision of societal breakdown so radical and so out of touch with what is actually happening at present that I just don’t know how to take it seriously, particularly when it is advanced in opposition to the tepid steps Obama took with his executive orders. Yet FOX–FOX, not some kook with a website–dutifully trotted out the HITLER rhetoric. It’s not a straw man argument to point out that FOX erects straw men like “Obama is Hitler”. Dale doesn’t do this. Other responsible people in the debate don’t do this (and I have posted their arguments here). But responsible people are not controlling this argument at the hational level. Outfits like FOX are.

      • mary martha

        There have been lots of ridiculous positions put up since Sandy Hook on both sides. I don’t think that Fox is ‘controlling this argument’ alone… Piers Morgan seems to be doing a great deal of controlling the argument from the other side with a full compliment of misrepresentations and straw men of his own.

        Regardless, neither Fox nor Piers Morgan controls the argument here – it’s your blog. This is where you choose what to post. You control the argument. What you have posted on this topic thus far has often been painting the other side of the discussion with a very broad brush based only on the crazy end of the spectrum. Then you use that as a base for attacks on everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

        Your demand that those who support gun rights justify them is seen by many as an attack. Some people think it is wrong with trying to make people ‘justify’ their exercise of civil rights set out in the Bill of Rights. Maybe you don’t mean them to be attacks but perhaps you could consider how you would feel if people demanded you justify your exercise of your other constitutional rights. My basic civil right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It says so in the constitution. Call me crazy, but I like my civil rights and want to keep them – all of them.

        Here we are discussing a really great post by Dale Price where he didn’t say a darn thing about Hitler, and I didn’t say a darn thing about Hitler (I never have when discussing this issue) but here you have dragged in the ‘everyone who disagrees with me is yelling about Hitler’ straw man. It’s not fair. The only person I see yelling about Hitler is you.

        Again, I like you. I like your writing and have been happy to see you speak a couple of times. However I do think you have hot buttons where you don’t realize just how cruel you can be to those who disagree with you.

        • Mark Shea

          I think Piers Morgan’s remarks were frequently dumb, and his cheap theatrics with Alex Jones were unhelpful.

          Sorry, but my blog controls no national argument. It’s read by a tiny handful of people and, on this matter, is professedly written by somebody who is new to the argument and thinking things through. The reality is that the argument is controlled, on the one hand by the NRA, FOX, the GOP and various assorted figures in the Conservative Entertainment Complex (where my readership tends to turn for news and opinion) and on the other hand by the normal organs of discourse on the Left, as well as various Lefty pols. Both sides have their sources of finance, etc. What I’m doing here is wading into the maelstrom as a newbie and trying to work out what it’s all about and what I think about it. When I run across arguments that seem dumb to me, I say so.

          I can’t help it if some people feel attacked when I ask them to justify their views of gun rights. I’m not trying to attack them. I’m trying to weigh the merits of their arguments. I may do that uncharitable or irritatingly (and that is a fault of mine). But weighing the merits remains an obligation. I have no problem with people asking how I justify the exercise of my constituional rights since I don’t regard the Constitution as sacrosanct or as handed down on Sinai. The Constitution is a *brilliant* human document that is one of the treasures of the age. But it is, at the end of the day, human law embodying prudential judgement, not divine law. Elevating the right to self-defense above the common good is, it seems to me, bad thinking for a Catholic. So I question it.

          The fact that you are unaware of the perpetual screams of “Hitler” that have been sounded for the past month does not mean they have not occurred. Like it or not, in addition to the reasonable people like Dale, there are 29,800,000 voices out there on the web who *do* take up that refrain, suggesting that hysteria is indeed alive and well. I’m glad you are a reasonable person. Give me some credit for being reasonable too.

  • Well said.

    May I politely suggest, since I believe your contrition is sincere, not painting people with a broad brush of “hysteria”? I do feel like you lumped me into the “shrieking” category because I believe that confiscation is a logical (eventual) consequence of current legislative proposals and would be facilitated in particular by the specific proposal you made, which was really anything but modest. It did make hundreds of millions of existing firearms incomplete, after all, and would introduce an entirely new regulatory environment over production, sale, taxation, and registration.

    I also did mention Hitler. Because Hitler was particularly effective at the same kind of thing American Leftists would *like* to be effective at if they just had the stones to do it. That doesn’t make *them* Hitler, but they share some common political philosophies, and that can turn out badly.

    I, and many others who are concerned about these things, are far from being paranoid Alex Jones apostles. I have concerns about possible future outcomes based upon my understanding of historical patterns and gut feelings, and it’s nice to not have those kinds of things dismissed in hyperbole that makes me sound like Chicken Little.

    I don’t think anyone not screaming that you need to take up arms and fight deserves that. And not everyone who disagreed with you was calling for blood.

    My wife tells me all the time that I’m too sensitive, so maybe that’s what is at work here. But even in this well-written, “can’t we all just get along” post about Dale – a man I know, respect, and consider a friend – you’re still marginalizing the people you think are outside the fringes of the rational discussion based on whether or not they even *mention* certain outcomes or historical figures that they think bear consideration.

    That’s not fair.

    You fight the good fight on a lot of things that aren’t popular, and I know there’s way too much of the whole having to deal with histrionics thing in that department. I just wish you could dial it back a notch on the ad hominem dismissals, even when your absurd-o-meter is going off. It’s the only way to have a real discussion.

    • Mark Shea

      There are, it is true, views that I think are rightly to be regarded as marginal. I don’t think every view deserves consideration. Secessionism is one such view. I consider it marginal first because most secessionists are not serious themselves (or they would be gone already), and second because I consider it dangerous since it will only lead to violence for the few extremely marginal people who undertake it.

      Similarly, I think Obama = Hitler rhetoric is, while not marginal in the sense that mainstream outfits like FOX encourage it, nonetheless “marginal” to any sober assessment of reality since Obama is, you know, not Hitler.

      And while I am aware that there are people out there who really wish all the guns could be confiscated–just as there are people out there who really wish women could be kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen–appealing to them as some sort of real threat to the right to self-defense as pro-aborts appeal to The Handmaid’s Tale as some real prophecy of the Slippery Slope is likewise marginal. Nobody’s coming for your guns. The only thing that got Obama moving on this at all was the horror of Sandy Hook and the steps he’s taken have been limited and moderate. I think that the counsel “Do not worry about tomorrow” applies here.

      • As I’ve said before, I don’t understand the “it can’t happen here” mentality. I’ve been reading up a bit on what has happened in the UK. There, the mass shooting in Hungerford in 1987 lead to the Firearms Act of 1988, banning semi-automatic and slide-action rifles. Because of mandatory registration, the government knew who had the now-illegal rifles and carried out enforcement of the ban. People were compelled to surrender their weapons.

        Then, another shooting in 1996 lead to further legislation, culminating in the ban of most firearms above a .22 (including handguns) and gave the government the power to ban any other unspecified guns or ammunition not written into the current legislation.

        The only explanation I’ve heard for why this is unlikely to happen here is that there are too many private gun owners (many with unregistered weapons) who would refuse to give them up. But if your proposal making all future ammunition proprietary were to go into effect, you would create the very circumstances that make confiscation possible.

        Whether or not confiscation is a desirable outcome (for those on the opposite side of the gun debate from myself) is a subject worth discussing. But I continue to think that its probability is less in doubt than you think.

        This administration has little concern for rights, whether it’s religious liberty or something other. Abortion has been around for 40 years and its a clear and intentional abuse of the 14th Amendment. The provisions of the Patriot Act are in violation of civil liberties, and you’ve documented well the legal and moral problems with torture and military campaigns that kill innocents.

        I guess I’m missing the need for skepticism.

        • Mark Shea

          Anything can happen. And yet our Lord says, “Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Nobody is proposing to confiscate our guns. Living in fear of things that are not happening and give no indication they will happen anytime soon is, I deem, a fruitless waste of time and a sin against faith and hope. So I avoid it. Your mileage may vary.

          • Mark,
            Why do you keep saying “Nobody is proposing to confiscate our guns.”? Lots of people are proposing confiscation of some firearms – Diane Feinstein and Andrew Cuomo are two examples.

            Feinstein famously said that if she could get the votes she’s tell “Mr. and Mrs America, turn them in.”

            • Kenneth

              Lot’s of people propose lots of things that they would do – if they could get the votes. Rand Paul would eliminate most of the federal government, if he had the votes. Some North Carolina pastor proposed putting gays in concentration camps last year. There is, apparently, a movement petitioning Washington to build the Death Star! Feinstein is the first to admit that her complete vision of gun control has virtually zero traction in the country at large. Even her much scaled down (by comparison) bills have very little chance of passing in their full form.

              Reasoned policy debates, or if you prefer, threat assessment, makes distinctions between proximate threats and probable outcomes and worst case nightmare fantasy scenarios. That doesn’t mean never considering the worst case long shot, but it’s unproductive to construct the entire debate and preparation around it.

              The Hitler comparisons and all of the other absurd histrionics of the gun debate have arisen from fear-mongering and gross misrepresentation of probabilities. The Feinstein crowd has maintained that nothing short of bans can be effective while many on the other side have insisted that any discussion of regulations whatsoever, even in the abstract, is capitulation to Hitler and that mass gulag imprisonment and just cause for civil war are inevitable and near-imminent. Mark has had the imagination to suggest some middle way based in reality and a bit of innovation. There’s been some fair if pointed criticism of his ideas. Many of the attacks however seem aimed less at engagement than on punishment of heresy. To even suggest gun regulation in any form is seen in some quarters as an insult to American identity and complicity in evil.

        • Harry Piper

          I’ve gone on about this before, but it really bears repeating – Brits simply do not care about guns in the same way that Americans do. Very few people owned their own weapons before the ban and very few people cared once the ban was passed. It was not a mass disarmament by a psuedo-fascist political party.
          I’ve seen this a fair bit in the Conservative media – this idea that “The Brits were disarmed! It CAN happen here!”. It completely ignores the fact that the 2nd Amendment does and did not exist in Britain. Not even the Police Force wished to be armed – what does that tell you about the rest of the population? We don’t care – foolish as that may be, we have never had wide gun ownership in the same way American has.

          • Kenneth

            However do you manage to keep your government from rounding you all up into death camps, if you don’t have an AR-15 in every house?

    • Steve, you seem like a nice guy.
      However, as a person generally on the left when not discussing life issues, when I read this:

      Because Hitler was particularly effective at the same kind of thing American Leftists would *like* to be effective at if they just had the stones to do it.

      I thought something a lot like this:

      I just wish you could dial it back a notch on the ad hominem dismissals, even when your absurd-o-meter is going off. It’s the only way to have a real discussion.

      People who disagree with you about economic policy (i.e., the left) don’t necessarily have a Hitlerite agenda. Not even a little bit. We just disagree with you about where on the continuum between welfare state capitalism and laissez faire capitalism our concededly entirely capitalist system ought to be. So while I appreciate the acknowledgment that we aren’t actually Hitler, I could stand not to be told we share aims with Hitler, either. Please no more “Hitler.”

      Thanks very much. May God bless you.

      • Confederate Papist

        When did we revert back to a capitalist society? It hasn’t been a capitalist society for almost 90 years? Maybe more.

        I think Distributism would be a good way to go…but we’re not talking about that.

        I do feel the way Dale does too. I don’t know about whether they’re going to take the guns away or not, but it does not surprise me that there are politicians that are entertaining the idea…and why not? Many things that would be unthinkable and would never pass a congress, years ago are now normal, so they will keep chipping away until 50.0000001% of the population demands the abolition of the Second Amendment.

        • When did we revert back to a capitalist society? It hasn’t been a capitalist society for almost 90 years? Maybe more.

          Well, if by capitalism you mean pre-New Deal laissez faire capitalism, then sure. But then you’re defining Ronald Reagan’s side in the Cold War as socialist or something, which . . . just doesn’t seem very semantically useful. But I guess if you want to call the Cold War a conflict between socialism and communism, then I could get on board with that.

          I think Distributism would be a good way to go…but we’re not talking about that.

          Yeah, Distributism is good stuff. How to get from here to there is a tough question.

          I do feel the way Dale does too. I don’t know about whether they’re going to take the guns away or not, but it does not surprise me that there are politicians that are entertaining the idea…and why not?

          I’m just not really aware of any politicians who are entertaining the idea of confiscating all guns.

          Many things that would be unthinkable and would never pass a congress, years ago are now normal, so they will keep chipping away until 50.0000001% of the population demands the abolition of the Second Amendment.

          Well, a majority vote of the population is neither necessary nor sufficient to overturn part of the Bill of Rights, as you know. You need either 2/3 of the states to amend the Constitution, or 5 Supreme Court justices (as in Roe) to just make stuff up. In fairness to your position, I can imagine a scenario in which a liberal majority on the Supreme Court overturns Heller, which would be an unfortunate result in many ways. However, even in that scenario, I don’t know that there would be that much practical impact absent an actual public desire to ban all guns, which really doesn’t seem to be there.

          One area I would red-flag for gun rights folks’ attention is that support for gun rights does tend to skew very white and rural. As demographics keep putting Democrats in the White House, and those Democrats’ nominees on the Supreme Court, the danger is that those same demographics would indeed, in a non-Heller world lead to an America that looks more like Los Angeles and Chicago, and feels accordingly about gun laws. In that scenario, you really would have a legitimate worry about a bare electoral majority contemplating banning guns. However, that scenario is at least a few decades away, both demographically and politically. And frankly, I think the best way to build support among urbanites and people of color for preserving fundamental gun rights to things like self defense is to give a little ground on proposed regulations that might assuage such folks’ fears.

          • [Or 3/4 of the states, depending on method of amending the Constitution. Need more coffee.]

      • Irenist,

        I was specifically referring to the policy on gun confiscation for the purposes of further empowering the central government, because this is a common agenda in all socialist agendas, whether they be of the Marxist variety or the National Socialist (fascist) variety.

        The American political left has been, to some degree, shaped by more sinister elements in Russia, Germany, and the various ideologies that sprung from them. From Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School to Alinksky and Sanger, there’s a lot of history there, even if it’s never come fully into bloom in this country. The Democratic party was the party of slavery, just as it is the party of abortion and sexual licentiousness today. The American political Left is actively anti-Christian. They are oppressing religious freedoms. They are ramming through legislation that the people don’t want, and centralizing more and more power in the federal government. They manifest a wanna-be totalitarian tendency, without the political conviction to go whole hog. It concerns me. But just because I may use “Hitler” as a reference point does NOT mean I’m preaching about the inevitability of FEMA camps.

        There is room for discussion about economics and the role of the State in Human welfare. There is certainly room for discussion about American Imperialism and our obsession with starting overseas military conflicts. None of those things align the people talking about them with Hitler or Stalin or Mao or Marx for that matter, and I don’t mean to imply it.

        It’s the more draconian policies that I’m referring to, and the need to control the people so completely that the government always is in the business of telling them what’s best for them, even by force.

        • Y’know, I’m just so grateful right now that you said “Democratic party” instead of “Democrat party” that I’m just going to say “thank you” and move on. You’re alright, Steve.

          • Ha! Thanks. I think? 😉

          • Kenneth

            I’m just grateful that we’re finally able to focus blame for totalitarian instincts on one political party! I thank the gods everyday that the GOP stood as the voice of civil liberties and restraint in those dodgy years after 9/11. Without them, who knows what sort of power grabs and abuses of due process we might have suffered……

        • j. blum

          Mr. Skojec, I ask in all humility, how much Gramsci and “the Frankfort School” have you read? Especially the latter. I think slogging through wet cement is a more productive use of one’s time. I just don’t see, after years of wrestling with such refractory verbage of the Adorno stamp, how such obscurantist abstruosities could have any visible effect on anyone. By the time you’re done reading “Frnakfort School” blather, you’re too tired and disgusted to pull a long march through your living room, much less “the institutions.”

  • dpt

    “demand to know if I have any better ideas than violent insurrection and panic”

    In addition to “love your neighbor” and to “love your enemy” is to take to heart “Be not afraid.”

  • Blog Goliard

    As horrific as Sandy Hook seems to have been (I avoided most news coverage myself…cable news, at times like this, feels like wallowing in others’ grief, which is icky even if the grieving volunteer to be on TV), I never felt much grief and anguish personally. So my failure to participate in the national festival of bathos makes me not a “normal person”?

    I mean no offense to these precious children or to their grieving families…nor to the innocent victims and grieving families of the countless other acts of violence which scar our world every single day. But I have other people, known personally to me (and not always to very many others), to grieve or to help or to pray for. Obsessing over Sandy Hook at the media’s command would only distract from this, to no real benefit. If this point of view makes me a monster, so be it.

    And of course, making hasty changes in national policy in response to a single, statistically insignificant (however despair-inducingly horrific) event is sheer folly from which no good can be expected to result. But that’s a tangential topic.

    • KM

      So in other words, you don’t care that others may care about this event. And anyway such events are statistically insignificant, and we’re all foolishly rushing to change something that only happened once.

      Okay. Thanks for sharing that unhelpful and unedifying viewpoint.

      • Well, Blog Goliard is a consistently thoughtful contributor, KM. And the “Yes, Minister” point about rushing to do something (and this is something) after a single event is a pretty obviously important one considering all the torture, drone-bombing, unjust war, and TSA shenanigans that followed on the single event of 9/11. So while I probably disagree with him on the specifics of gun control, I’d be wary of rushing to call his contribution here unhelpful or unedifying.

        • Blog Goliard

          Thank you, Irenist…you are too kind.

          We might in fact find many points of disagreement if we explored the issue further; but in the current context I don’t know that that matters much. I was just as opposed to the NRA’s mad call for packing schools full of gun-toting adults in the wake of this shooting as I was to the gun lobby’s mad call for bringing back ineffective Clinton-era “assault weapons” bans in the wake of this shooting.

          You got my main point; and the comparison with ill-conceived post-9/11 laws is an apt one.

          The rush to legislate seems especially mad to me because we’ve seen such a dramatic decrease in crime in recent years. Looking at what comes out of the “news” industry (which Mark has been excoriating quite rightly), one might conclude that violent crime in America is a growing epidemic…but all that cable news really proves is that murder and mayhem (and police chases and apartment fires!) are cracking good telly. The crime statistics show a quite different story: our current policies have, in sum, been *working*. Better than some of us dared to dream back in the ’70s and ’80s.

          As to the rest of my post, I mainly wanted to put in a word for those of us who abhor the murder of innocents with every fiber of our being, but nonetheless haven’t shed a single tear over what happened in Connecticut, chose to ignore news coverage of the event as much as possible, and have practically never thought of Sandy Hook unprompted since the week it happened. Perhaps I misread him–perhaps I’ve seen enough emotional bullying in the wake of dramatic events that I’m now apt to find it even when it isn’t there–but it seemed to me that Mark was saying that normal and healthy and decent people aren’t like that, didn’t and don’t react like that.

          I think that reacting to wildly-hyped tragedies with which one is not personally involved in this way is perfectly sensible and defensible–and indeed, for many people, healthier. (Your mileage may vary…I judge not the lachrymose, in order that they judge not me.) I’ve also learned that not a few people agree with me on this…but are generally most hesitant to say so.

          • Blog Goliard

            P.S. That should be “gun control lobby”, not “gun lobby”, of course.

            And general apologies for any and all sentences above that may be prolix and obscure. I’m quite tired and trying to get over a nasty bug–some of the fog inside my head may well have leaked out onto the digital page.

          • KM

            Thanks. I disagree about the “rush to legislate.” How many years has our nation been discussing gun regulation? Since at least 1994 when the initial Assault Weapons ban went into effect, then every year or so thereafter whenever a horrible event occurs. So the same arguments keep getting regurgitated each year ad nauseum. The good thing that Obama has initiated is calling on the CDC to study not only gun violence in more detail, but also to study the impact of other factors such as media violence. The data will hopefully help people to be more informed.

        • KM

          Okay I misunderstood. Sorry.

      • Mark Shea

        Oh, let’s not get into a pissing match about emotional reactions. Emotions are what they are. You might as well complain that the weather is different in BG’s part of the country.

        • KM

          I misunderstood. Sorry.

  • KM

    Extreme proponents on each side of the debate have demonized each other, allowing each side to claim the mantle of victimhood. But what seems to be forgotten in the entire heated and endless gun debate are the real victims: the 20 children and 6 adults massacred at Sandy Hook, and the numerous daily and annual victims of U.S. gun violence. Most Americans IMHO are trying to understand the issues and reach solutions that help the common good.

    • Perhaps their stereotypes or labels are mere devices they use to make a point. And I seriously doubt that anyone has really forgotten those or any of the other victims. It’s tough to forget when we’re reminded every day in the latest story suffering from gun violence.

      • KM

        Good point re: your first sentence. I think one has to look at context and who’s making the statement. During the last few weeks, I’ve been to other blogs that have a lot of unmoderated comments under the articles, and have seen many insults on both sides. I generally try to ignore them or laugh them off. I don’t pay much attention to television or radio talk shows these days either. Not worth it.

  • victor

    I LOVE CAMP!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mark Shea


      • victor

        If you’re going to camp, count me in!

        • Mark Shea

          Ah! I get it. I’m slow, but I’m dense.

    • ivan_the_mad

      But the important question is … will Mark come visit you?

  • Perhaps I’m missing something here; but, Mr. Shea, you have (rightly) sounded the alarm about the encroachments on our liberties by our government, in the name of “national security,” and you have, in the course of making those points, laid it on pretty thick. Fair–but in your way with rhetoric, pretty thick.

    In short, haven’t you, in your own way, invoked HitlerStalin too?

    It seems to me that people who feel strongly about gun-rights are seeing the same general trends as you.

    • Mark Shea

      No. I’ve invoke “tyranny” on a couple of occasions. But I shy from HitlerStalin rhetoric. George III was a tyrant, but not Hitler.

      • j. blum

        How was George III–the real one, not the cariacature from Schoolhouse Rock–a tyrant? Because some of his ministers insisted on the constitutional supremacy of Parliament and insisted that the colonists pay a bit more in taxes (still much less than Englishmen in England paid)? Because his governments were keen on Yankee smugglers (John Hancock) obey the law and not smuggle? Where were his kill lists, his NSA, his TSA, his “total information awareness?”. George III sounds right peachy compared to some other executives we might name.

  • Allow me, as an ardent pro-gunner, and a big fan of Mark Shea to make two observations: (1) some of the rhetoric coming out of the pro-gun camp is excessive (2) some of the rhetoric coming out of Mark Shea is excessive.
    Let me also add (3) some of the the rhetoric complaining about Mark Shea’s rhetoric is excessive, so much so that it spilled over into my blog, putting me in the awkward position of having to argue against my own camp.
    Mark, unlike you, I am not a beginner when it comes to this issue. I have studied it for years, and am familiar with the basic legal decisions concerning the Second Amendment and its interpretation. Two points that seem often to be overlooked in the discussion are, first, that the Constitution does not expressly forbid state and local infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, only the Federal government. On those grounds alone the federal action of banning certain semi-automatic rifles is unwarranted, perhaps unconstitutional, without any deeper question being reached. Some of the Bill of Rights also applies to state and local governments, and there are recent cases suggesting that the Second Amendment, in addition to being a safeguard of state’s rights against a federal tyranny, are also in individual right for self-protection, and therefore the state must meet a heavy burden of proof to show the regulation serves a legitimate state interest as balanced against these rights.
    But the second point deals with how hysterical the rhetoric is. The Second Amendment clearly foresees the possibility of civil war or actions by the militia, a legal term that does not refer to the national guard but to the body of all armed citizens subject to a draft. I do not contemplate such armed actions within this generation, and, like you, regard talk of secession and civil war to be not only treasonous but nuts. Nonetheless, we do not carry umbrella only on rainy days. Even the remote possibility that in some future time an ambitious federal government might seek by force of arms to impose a tyranny on this nation requires that the Second Amendment be held inviolate against that day.
    Let me add a third point which strikes closer to home. The atrocity of Sandy Hook could not have been prevented by stricter background check laws, because the weapons were lawfully purchased by the mother of the shooter, whose background was clean. Gun locks, even a fingerprint lock built into the grip, would not have prevented the killings, because in this case the shooter took his mothers keys and opened the gun safe. With equal ease he could have undid gun locks or the fingerprint safeties (which, in the ad you quote, can be turned off with a key). A limit on the number of rounds in a magazine would have perhaps required the shooter to change magazines, but in this case, since there was no armed man to rush him during the moment of reloading, he could have reloaded at his leisure. Of the styles of guns currently called “assault rifles” (an inaccurate and misleading term — these are semiautomatic rifles with military-looking features like bayonet lugs) the ones proposed to be banned are none of them the style used in this case by the shooter, nor are the rifles not being banned different in performance characteristics. In other words, the shooter could have done the same type of damage with another weapon even if the weapon of the type used at Sandy Hook were banned.
    Statistically speaking, mass murders and even school shooting have been declining steadily over the past century. Ironically, the amount of news coverage they receive has been increasing.
    Statistically speaking, gun ownership deters gun violence rather than encourages it. See, for example, the study done by John Lott.
    There is also a difference between the rural gun culture (every farmer I know personally owns a hunting rifle) and the gangster culture of the big cities. There is also a difference in gun use between rural, suburban, and urban areas. I might suggest any “one-size fits all” legislation that does not take that difference into account is flawed.
    (This is one reason why I personally deeply resent federal gun laws but not state and local laws. I live in Virginia, where we have concealed carry, and live across the river from DC, where the strictest gun laws in the nation are in effect. Virginia is not like DC, so our laws need not be the same.)
    The assault weapons ban of recent years, according to at least some studies, has had absolutely no effect at all in the gun violence rate. None. Those who favor additional bans have the burden of explaining why such a policy will work this time when it has not worked in the past.
    Seatbelt laws save lives. Motorcycle helmet laws save lives. Gun ban laws do not save lives. Emotion will not change that. No matter how much pity we have for the slain, no matter how much hero-worship the media directs toward our secular leaders, the facts will not change.
    The sad truth is that nothing can prevent an atrocity like Sandy Hook. Some laws and some cultures can lower the number of times such things happen, of course, and the logical thing to do is to look at what has that effect.