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View Diary: We have failed a moral test. History will not judge us kindly. (95 comments)

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  •  innocent until proven guilty (7+ / 0-)

    One of the reasons that it is difficult to curtail or eliminate personal rights in the case of mental illness goes back to this fundamental right: you cannot be deprived of rights and liberties without good cause and due process.

    What is "good cause"? We as a society have to 'draw a line' somewhere. We generally draw it so as to restrict people who are incapable of following the law. Either they cannot understand the law, or they cannot control their actions even when they desire to do so. There is also consideration given to acute or chronic conditions. If someone can get better or 'recover' from a condition, we tend to err on the side of personal rights and freedoms rather than imprisonment or restrictions that 'might' be needed. So, we only permanently restrict personal freedom when the person cannot follow the law, and won't get better.

    What is "due process"? It's usually the professional opinion of someone who has expertise with the matter, and then we don't rely on just one opinion. We try to involve a number of people, with a process that allows debate, discovery, and challenges. If a number of professionals are willing to come to a conclusion after debate and challenges, it's about as good a decision as can be made.

    These are principles in this country for a good reason. We don't want one 'expert', using an untested theory, taking away someone's legal rights with no way to question the decision, and no way to ever change the decision. We don't want to make mistakes when we are deciding if someone is 'too crazy' to be trusted in society.

    How do you want those decisions made about you? Think about your social  and political opposites. Do you want them to be able to easily and permanently take away your rights?

    •  Good points, but ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, 3goldens, lyvwyr101

      Do we just tell our children that they may be gunned down by someone suffering from a serious mental defect and that if that happens, we all just have to accept that their death is the price we pay for the Holy Writ that is the Second Amendment?  It's all well and good to accept a certain amount of death in the name of freedom in the abstract, but I'm not sure how I feel about it in terms of the people that I love.

      Because it's pretty clear that we either accept the status quo as the price for absolute gun rights or we make some significant changes in how we treat mental illness in this country, including restricting access to firearms.

      •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
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        Do we just tell our children that they may be gunned down by someone suffering from a serious mental defect and that if that happens, we all just have to accept that their death is the price we pay for the Holy Writ that is the Second Amendment?
        More people die for the 4th and 5th than do the 2nd.
      •  every freedom carries a price (0+ / 0-)

        We seem to use cars as a compare/contrast with guns a lot. I will do so here, as it is a useful exercise.

        Cars kill people. Cars will continue to kill people, some of them children. We can (mostly) accept that consequence because we feel that we have "done everything we can"  to minimize the negative consequences of cars in our society. We also recognize the tremendous benefit of cars. After all, ambulances and police save lives with cars. We don't ban cars, or eliminate them, but we do regulate them. At the end of the day, however, we accept that cars will still kill people.

        We don't have the same feeling about guns. We place a different value on the usefulness of guns, with some denying any usefulness at all. We certainly don't have the feeling that "we've done everything we can" to make gun ownership safer. Even though both cars and guns will continue to kill people, we do not have the same feelings and sense of accepting the consequences.

        I personally feel that it is possible to have responsible gun ownership and use, with a decisive majority accepting the consequences to society. I'm not sure what that society will look like, but I feel that we have many changes to make to get there.

        Read. Learn. Think!

        by IndyGlenn on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 02:42:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We constantly work to make cars safer (0+ / 0-)

          No one fights that, other than the obvious suspects that might fight if we try to eliminate cars completely.  Talk is that we'll take cars out of the hands of drivers and again, there is no serious opposition to the concept.

          No one is fighting to make guns safer and if anything, even the slightest attempt to bring some sanity to the Second Amendment is met with such howls that elected officials run the other way.  Or they're voted out of office.  

          Responsible gun ownership isn't even the issue here, and in fact, it's the exact opposite.  And inherently, if someone is incapable of responsible gun ownership, some third party is going to have to enforce the necessary restrictions.  How that will be done and by whom are certainly valid issues, but they're going to have to be addressed.

          •  Responsible citizenship is the issue here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If everyone were a competent, responsible community member, we wouldn't need law enforcement. Everyone would take the time to craft a good set of community rules, and then follow them to the best of their understanding. We might need the occasional arbitration for imperfect understanding, but no real enforcement.

            Since the ideal is never reached, we need an enforcement mechanism so that the majority can force compliance to a set of rules. If the rules are reasonable, compassionate, and fair, this works for the community and personal freedom is maximized (for the circumstances).

            The potential for abuse should be obvious. The majority can enforce it's beliefs, right or wrong. The majority can be cruel, capricious, and horribly unfair. So we "set the bar" pretty high when it comes to depriving anyone of their rights in order to conform to the community's "morals".

            This is a fundamental belief and principle of our nation. We are always hesitant and cautious when it comes to restricting freedoms and liberties. As a guiding principle, I feel that this is a very good one.

            Beliefs and principles are not detailed enough to be good rules, however. We have to 'work down' from the principle to a regulation that we can understand and follow. As an example, "Drive Safely" is the principle, and "Speed Limit 35" is the regulation that tells us how to drive safely at the moment.

            We have two principles here that we wish to express through regulations. The first is "we need a safe community", and the second is "we need to preserve individual rights and freedoms". As a community and a nation, we can craft laws and regulations that strike the best balance between community safety through restrictions on gun ownership, and individual rights and freedoms by not unduly restricting gun ownership.

            As always, the three rules of a good law apply:
            1) the law must actually address the issue
            2) the law must address only the issue, with as few unintended consequences as we can achieve
            3) the law must be capable of realistic enforcement

            Sounds like we have work to do.........

            Read. Learn. Think!

            by IndyGlenn on Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 07:28:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  In other words, point a finger and say "Witch!!!!" (2+ / 0-)
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      lyvwyr101, theatre goon
      So if someone is voluntarily committed or just have the police called about an incident, there is little that can be done to permanently remove their arsenals of firearms.
      I do not consider my ideal liberal society to be one where the police come and confiscate my possessions because some anonymous stranger phones in "an incident", and then I have to spend time and money to affirmatively prove my innocence in order to get them back.

      Your mileage may vary.

    •  Nowhere in your 5 paragraphs did you even... (2+ / 0-)
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      nosleep4u, lyvwyr101

      ...mention guns. It isn't mentioned in the comment title, either.

      The word doesn't even appear, as near as I can tell.

      This is a common occurrence in discussions about guns, and I've often wondered if perhaps there is some reason for this.

      Why does the discussion always get so broadened to the extent that one can't even tell what topic is under discussion without looking up to see what diary it is taking place in?

      An HR from a member of the RKBA is like an F rating from the NRA
      ---We Shall Overcome (12/3/13)---

      by earlybird on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 10:58:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No need to be so polite. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Deflection, stand gun0-toter tactic, is just another form of lying.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 12:02:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  taking away rights and liberties due to "mental (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas, theatre goon, Shamash

        illness" is a larger issue than just the right to carry a gun. Part of what I wish to address is that if you set a precedent because you are worried about guns, the precedent can be used for cases other than guns. I kept my comment more general to highlight that the precedents used to restrict gun ownership will have wide-ranging consequences.

        Read. Learn. Think!

        by IndyGlenn on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 02:50:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gun ownership is a privilage, not a right. (1+ / 0-)
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          Guns are dangerous weapons, and it wouldn't make much sense to generalize policies put I place for guns to most other privileges, even, much less rights and iberties.

          Nobody in their right mind would use public policies designed for dangerous weapons such as AR-15s, for example, as a precedent for dealing with actual rights and liberties such as the right to marry or the right to vote.

          When we don't distinguish between dangerous weapons specifically designed and engineered to kill and rights and liberties such as the right to marry or the right to vote, there is very little that we can usefully say.

          They are quite different things, and demand quite different policies.

          Life is not a one size fits all affair.

          An HR from a member of the RKBA is like an F rating from the NRA
          ---We Shall Overcome (12/3/13)---

          by earlybird on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 03:46:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's the right to keep and bear arms. (2+ / 0-)
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            theatre goon, Shamash

            No matter how many times you say it's a privilege...well, your opinion doesn't change the facts.

          •  rules of a good law (0+ / 0-)

            1) actually addresses the issue

            2) addresses only the issue with as few other consequences as possible

            3) is realistically enforceable

            I'm all for coming up with good laws to address some of the problems with guns. It's very easy to fall afoul of 2) if you are in too much of a rush to put a potential solution in place. Legal precedents and decisions often have consequences far beyond the intended scope. All I am advocating here is to make sure we put in place good laws, keeping in mind the rules above and our core values.

            A good exercise is to imagine and think through what a creative and ruthless enemy will do to screw you over with your new precedent.

            Read. Learn. Think!

            by IndyGlenn on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 04:05:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I can't go down the path that equates everything.. (0+ / 0-)

     sight with everything else.

              I am unequivocally in support of respecting the fundamental right to vote, for example.

              Allowing prison inmates, even those convicted of violent offenses like murder, the right to vote from their prison cells is a core value for me.

              Does it then follow that I am required to support giving such inmates privileges like the privilege of having access to AR-15s with extended magazines filled with ammo in their prison cells?

              Or does the fact that we don't give gun privileges to inmates in their prison cells constitute an argument (or precident) for disenfranchising them, also?

              I don't see how we can make rational public policy decisions without making rational distinctions between very, very dissimilar things.

              "One size fits all" just doesn't make any sense to me.

              An HR from a member of the RKBA is like an F rating from the NRA
              ---We Shall Overcome (12/3/13)---

              by earlybird on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 05:07:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  How are you getting "one size fits all" (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KVoimakas, theatre goon, Shamash

                from what I am saying? Just because all Constitutional amendments have to follow the same approval process doesn't mean that all amendments are a "one size fits all" solution.

                I'm talking about a process to make sure that whatever law we come up with doesn't make things worse somewhere else because we created a stupid precedent accidentally.

                In the area of mental illness and involuntarily removing any rights, privileges, or liberties, we need to be damned careful what precedents we set. The bar for action needs to be high, so that some asshole judge down the road doesn't decide that  he can overrule the five doctors, three psychiatrists, and two medical researchers and deny an abortion to a young girl because her liberal beliefs make her "mentally unstable". And yes, I do understand the concept of "don't let perfect be the enemy of good". I'm not asking for perfection, just thought, debate, and effort.

                We need good laws more than we need quick, feel-good, or crappy laws. This is doable with careful thought and debate to avoid mistakes.

                Read. Learn. Think!

                by IndyGlenn on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 06:38:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Answer me this (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            "This senseless murder of children has got to stop and the government should do everything in its power to stop it."

            Which of these is the above statement from:
            1) an anti-abortion fanatic?
            2) an anti-gun fanatic?

            If you buy into a particular rhetoric or "end justifies the means" mentality, then the same legal precedents you want to set for other people will end up being used against you. If you claim something for you is a "right" but someone else's belief is a "privilege", then they get to do the same to you...

            You need to have a set of consistent principles that will apply to every civil liberty or aspect of consensual conduct, not just ones you approve of. Even if you disagree with Rush Limbaugh and think he is harmful enough that we would be better off with him off the air, you grant him the same free speech rights you want for yourself...until he as an individual does something with that free speech that is criminal conduct.

            Same with guns. Or alcohol and cars. Or same-sex marriage. Or whatever.

            Which is what I think IndyGlenn is trying to get through to you.

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