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Guns do kill. That's why they were invented. Their manufacture, distribution, ownership, and use clearly need to be regulated in any community that cares about the welfare of its members. Much the same is true of other potentially deadly products, such as explosives and poisons. I doubt there are very many people even in the National Rifle Association who would argue otherwise; none of us is bullet-proof, after all.

America is a large, heterogeneous nation. In some places, such as major cities, guns are far more dangerous than beneficial. In a densely populated urban neighborhood, stray bullets are more likely to kill or injure than in deep woods. I might not care if my neighbor's gun accidentally goes off if he lives a half mile down the road; but it is a different story if he has the apartment next to mine.

People don't go deer-hunting in city neighborhoods, nor are there many cougars or grizzly bears in fend off in such places.

In the city, guns are most useful to criminals. Few other residents want or need them, and the fewer guns there are, the less harm they can do. The mayor who took away the last gun from the streets of New York, Philadelphia, or Detroit would be acclaimed the hero of the century, were such a thing achievable.

Please continue reading below the orange thingy.

However, America is more than Chicago and New York; it's also West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama. It is culturally diverse, and for better or worse, includes communities where gun culture runs deep, along with the myth that a ragtag militia of New England farmers, armed with the muskets they hung over their fireplaces, chased the British army from our shores in 1776. However much some of us may disagree with their values, we have to accept that these communities are part of our nation and, moreover, that they have as much right to live according to their values as we have to live by ours.

Three aspects of the current debate strike me as particularly unfortunate. The Second Amendment, stating that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed", should not be relevant. The Second Amendment is part of a constitution intended for a pre-industrial society, an eighteenth century relic that is of questionable value in the modern cities and suburbs where the bulk of our population lives.

The Supreme Court, in striking down the District of Columbia's ban on handguns, effectively asserted the values of rural gun culture over those of urban America, universally, in a one-size-fits-all manner, based on half a sentence of eighteenth century text taken out of context. The Court declared that the rights of the Kentucky farmer to his gun outweigh those of the inner city dweller to live in peace and safety, and that troubles me profoundly. In doing so, the Court makes a powerful argument for its own abolition, particularly in the wake of other recent misjudgments such as Bush vs. Gore and Citizens United. It's becoming clear that the modern Court is no longer the impartial arbiter its founders intended but just another partisan political tool.

Most troubling of all, though, is the timing of this debate. The massacre at Newtown, amplified by the palantir that is the corporate mass media, has shocked and infuriated the whole country. The heat of passion is the nemesis of rational discourse, and any law we pass now we will likely regret down the road.  Have we forgotten the Patriot Act and Congress's authorization for the "war on terror", passed in the wake of September 11?

As champions of working Americans and the nation as a whole against the powerful special interests who seek to divide and rule us, we should be making common cause with working people in gun-loving communities. Republicans win in places like West Virginia, Oklahoma, or Kansas on cultural issues like guns, persuading people who should be on our side to vote for their own impoverishment. As long as we allow this to continue, we will never come close to our goal of breaking the power of Wall Street and its Republican friends and establishing real democracy and social justice in America.

Originally posted to necturus on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:03 AM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is why we need to repeal the 2nd amendment (4+ / 0-)

    So firearms can be regulated  appropriately throughout the country.

    We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

    by i understand on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:08:54 AM PST

  •  necturus - I don't think Heller said that at all (5+ / 0-)

    In Heller the SCOTUS confirmed that we all have a constitutional right to own and posses guns. However, the Court also gave wide latitude to local, state, and federal legislatures to regulate guns, as long as they didn't infringe on the basic right of ownership and possession in our homes. This flexibility gives big cities like DC, NYC, Chicago and others to have very different restrictions than we will find in rural Montana.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:10:27 AM PST

    •  That lattitude may or may not be very wide. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, notrouble, oldpunk, BlackSheep1

      1) Since the scope of the right, and the level of scrutiny applied to its protection, were not before the Court, al that stuff is dicta. Potentially useful for tea leaf reading and the general illumination of thought processes, but not more than that.

      2) McDonald matters as much as, and in some ways more than, Heller. Pay particular attention to the description of the 2nd Amendment right as "fundamental." This is not dicta, as such a finding is necessary to get to Due Process Incorporation. It's also very important going forward. That one word shifts the landcape dramatically.

      3) While we don't know what standard of review we're going to get in regard to the right to arms, we already know that rational basis review is out, as is the "interest-balancing" method advocated in the Heller dissent. The Ezell case and the recent Illinois carry ban case out of the 7th Circuit are particularly interesting in this context. I think we're going to end up in the vicinity of 1st Amendment scrutiny, where infringments of the "core" of the right, (political speech in the 1st amendment case, self-defense in the 2nd,) are subject to strict scrutiny, and peripheral issues, eg commercial speech, get intermediate. I know that strict scrutinyl is where Alan Gura is going, and he's got a pretty good record so far... I wouldn't bet against him.

      4) The gun control organizations really stepped on their dicks when they chose to focus on the "in the home" language in Heller. Granted, they needed some place to hang their hat after a ruling that was a disaster for their point of view, but that was a bad move... it was very clearly not written as a limitation on the scope of the right, and no subsequent court has, that I know of, considered it so.

      Where will all this leave us? I'm obviously predicting here, but this is what I think:

      1) Carry laws are going to have to be "shall issue", with method of carry (open vs concealed) up to the States, likewise training requirements, so long as they are not so difficut as to unduly burden the excercise of the right. So, "OK, you can get a carry permit, but it's going to cost you 10 grand, a year of classes, and a million dollars in liability insurance," or other schemes designed to make it so difficult to get a permit that nobody will bother, aren't going to fly.

      2) An assalt weapons ban won't survive. Magazine restrictions might... I can see them getting intermediate scrutiny, but how that would fall I don't know. Intermediate scrutiny is kinda vauge. Waiting periods, at least for 2nd and later gun purchases, aren't going to make it. For a first gun, maybe... but I doubt it.

      3) Requiring all sales to go through an FFL has both 2nd Amendment and Commerce Clause issues. I've got no idea where this would end up.

      4) Licensing of gun owners won't fly... the government cannot require a license to exercise a fundamental right. Ditto punitive gun and ammo taxes.

      5) Machine gun regs are pretty safe. The most I can see is repealing the 1986 registry limit, and maybe requiring states to allow whatever is allowed under Federal law... but even that's a stretch.

      I'm an informed layman, not a lawyer, but this is what I see. The next couple of years should give us all a lot more information than we have now.

      I'm going to write a diary on all of this, I just haven't gotten off my ass to do it yet.

      --Shannon

      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 12:08:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LG - I think you have a very good start on (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        notrouble, BlackSheep1

        your diary. I mostly agree with your analysis and am very interested in the 7th Circuit carry ban case. That will tell us a lot about where this particular Supreme Court will draw some of the boundaries.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 02:09:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The democrats did a wonderful job of not (5+ / 0-)

    Using the word gun in a sentence for the first four years of Obama's presidency.  Oddly, it changed nothing in the minds of those rural voters.  I am sure if those 20 young hadn't died, it would have continued with the same effect.
    sigh

    •  Who's the member here who organizes in CO? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      S/he said that the Democrats had been making progress there as they built credibility that the blue-helmeted black helicopters were not going to break people's doors down and take their guns.

      Avoiding the anti-gun rhetoric thawed tension and made inroads possible.

  •  SCOTUS in Heller says that (0+ / 0-)

    government can regulate guns. Somehow I am figuring it isn't going to be as open minded about regs as it has with respect to reproductive rights.  Roe v. Wade is no longer good law b/c the court has allowed so many restrictions to access.

    There is no way the RW of the court will allow the 2nd A to be treated this way. The contrary is true.  It will strike most of these laws if it can, and it will find a way. That is why 2nd A needs to go.

    When you say it is "common sense" what you are really saying is "I don't have any evidence to back up my argument", because it is quite often neither common nor sense.

    by kaminpdx on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:01:16 AM PST

  •  You lost me with this: (0+ / 0-)
    The heat of passion is the nemesis of rational discourse, and any law we pass now we will likely regret down the road.
    Some were probably making the same plea for status quo in advance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

    by SoCalSal on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:22:06 AM PST

    •  The Civil Rights Act was not... (4+ / 0-)

      ...passed in the heat of passion, and the probable consequences to the Democratic Party were known. Johnson knew when he signed it that we'd lose the white South, but it was clearly the right thing to do.

      •  You're pleading for status quo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        S F Hippie

        with the rationale that "heat of passion" makes for bad laws, yet what has been proposed is reasonable and falls well within public opinion. As with the Civil Rights Act, this is long past the optimal time for enactment of gun safety laws.

        How old were you in 1964? I recall very heated, passionate discussion in those times, along with demonstrations, riots, and murders.

        The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

        by SoCalSal on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:06:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's sad all the left-most comments above miss (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annecros, BlackSheep1

      your point:

      As champions of working Americans and the nation as a whole against the powerful special interests who seek to divide and rule us, we should be making common cause with working people in gun-loving communities. Republicans win in places like West Virginia, Oklahoma, or Kansas on cultural issues like guns, persuading people who should be on our side to vote for their own impoverishment. As long as we allow this to continue, we will never come close to our goal of breaking the power of Wall Street and its Republican friends and establishing real democracy and social justice in America.
      This is why Progressives lose and will remain losers.

      The same naïveté applies to Dems of all stripes.

      Until we find a proper focus -- we will continue to drown treading water.

      My thesis is that MMT reveals that focus -- the Banksters and their backers.

      Learn about the modern monetary reality (as described by "Modern Monetary Theory"). It shows the myths the Banksters don't want you -- or the non-rich Repubs -- to know.

      It's the myths that have indoctrinated Obama's "economic" advisors -- Lew, Daley, Geitner, all, along with Obama, lawyers -- who have swallowed the myths told to them by "economists" -- so-called "economists" schooled in "neo-liberal" economics, that paints a false a patently false, upside-down accounting of the role of money and the relationship of government to money.

      It's not a freaking "DEFICIT", it's the "Government's contribution to Society"! We, the people, have created our government -- it's a friggin "social construct". It can do what we want it to do.

      This economic carousel is a LIE.

      All these other issues -- gun rights, "pro-life", … are distracting memes -- and the debates we participate in regarding them -- much as they offend our sensibilities and desires -- distract us from a more productive focus -- a focus that, if we adhere to will enable our other goals.

      It might take you a while to understand. That's because the general public discourse has been perverted by selected powerful interests and their acolytes (yes, it's an effective conspiracy), including the courses of instruction in macroeconomics given for the last several decades in college.

      Some good sources -- here by our very own:

      bunnygirl60 writing under an earlier pseudonym

      • Letsgetitdone (Joe Firestone) and crew at the dKos Money and Public Purpose

      and externally

      • the MMT primer and everything else at http://neweconomicperspectives.org by UMKC economics, et al., inc Joe Firestone

      Debates about the propriety of gun control miss the point.

      Get on board and spread the message, so we can each do something effective to accomplish our (and Obama's) goal of promoting the public purpose.

      United We Understand

      by dorkenergy on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:04:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  well then SoCalSal take a look at the NY law (0+ / 0-)

      shoved through with no debate -- so highly applauded -- & a good look at the admitted flaws in it that must now be addressed.

      Haste is not speed. It's waste.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:19:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agree that "one size fits all" legislation is not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DefendOurConstitution

    desirable.  But I do not agree that firearms are still the "third rail" of American politics.

    City dwelling and rural Americans both need to understand each other. Right now we have an opportunity draw a clear distinction between gun owners and "gun addicts" - those who demand the absolute right to military-grade firepower, because they live in perpetual fear of some hypothetical "race war" erupting in this country.

    Gun sales soared immediately following the election of our First Black President. America is now a multicultural society, but we still have a strong element of "white separatism" that hides its racial fear behind a mask of hostility toward taxes, welfare, public schools, unions, college scholarships, "big government" and anything else that levels the playing field on behalf of minorities.

    These are our Second-Amendment Absolutists. The only way we'll ever get them stop voting against their working-class interests is to extend benefits to white people only.

    Fortunately, their numbers are dwindling. The radicalism of the Tea Party has alienated non-racist conservatives and undermined their coalition. Putting pressure on the gun addicts now can help deepen that divide.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:53:09 AM PST

  •  How many more Americans must we sacrifice at (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    matching mole

    the altar of the gun Cult (created by the NRA and the gun manufacturers) before we take back our Government and pass some sensible national regulations like FULL background checks on EVERY firearm sale/transfer, licensing and registration?

    It bothers me that the Roberts (really Scalia) SCOTUS found a right that had never been found by the SCOTUS in over 225 years, especially since he is such an "originalist."

    Great diary discussion; thanks.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 10:40:57 AM PST

  •  Thoughtful. Reality-based. Recommended. Tipped. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    Now everyone who's read my posts is waiting for me to quibble :-)

    Should there be an exception, in cities, for armed private security?

    Within the private security industry, should there be an allowance for bodyguards?

    Should people be allowed to be their own armed bodyguards?

    I respect a "no" answer at any stage of that line of reasoning, but if it's "yes" all along then we're back to private gun ownership.

    "Yes, but only for people who really need it" does make sense to me, but would have to be implemented carefully so that "need" doesn't degenerate to "is rich and white".

    "Yes, but only for people trained to avoid hitting innocent bystanders" is a position that some gun rights advocates can get behind. Specifically, the sane ones, and those who make their living providing training :-)

    Keep in mind that non-gun threats can be lethal: if the intended victim is disabled, or outnumbered by the gay-bashing mob, then running away and pepper spray don't look as good.

    •  excellent comment, Dogs are fuzzy. Yes on 3, at (0+ / 0-)

      least, because if we restrict it to 1 and / or 2, then it winds up being only "yes" for those who can afford 1 and 2, and that means "yes if you're rich enough."

      Which is unconstitutional on its face.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:22:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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