Skip to main content

I have to admit, sometimes writing, talking and thinking about guns, gun laws, gun control, gun rights and gun policy depresses the hell out of me. Like many contentious issues of law and policy, I find the topic endlessly fascinating, and like to use writing and discussion to help me understand it better, without trying to feel too strongly about it since I don't really have a dog in this fight; I don't own or use guns, don't really want to own or use guns, and don't particularly care all that much if anyone else does. But how other people feel about it, and how they express those feelings, can become really upsetting and disheartening.

People who do feel strongly about guns, and about themselves as gun-rights or gun-control advocates, can sometimes be a little over-eager to reinforce those feelings, and thus wind up feeling profoundly threatened by any contrary ideas, especially novel ones that they've never considered before. And by "profoundly threatened," I mean profoundly threatened. I am endlessly amazed by how forceful the pushback is no matter how subtle or benign the idea may be, and how intensely personal it inevitably becomes, no matter which "side" of this "issue" the antagonist is on.

A while back I did a thought experiment that led me to a conclusion that, it seems, 240 years of history, scholarship and jurisprudence may have missed: that the "right to keep and bear arms" that is announced by the Second Amendment is a property right, as opposed to a civil right (or "liberty interest," which is probably a better term since "civil rights" could include property rights). This appears to be an entirely novel idea; I would have to research whether this has ever been argued or postulated before. I don't actually know if it has been or not. I discovered this idea as a result of that thought experiment.

I certainly didn't start with the idea that gun rights are property rights, and I didn't have any desire, need or motivation to reach that conclusion. I was trying to figure out why background checks and discrete weapons restrictions impermissibly "infringe" upon my "right to keep and bear arms," but outrageously-high gun prices, having to pay more than I can afford for my chosen weapon, doesn't. The only explanation that made sense and held up to scrutiny was that guns are goods, and goods must be paid for, because the seller has property rights in those goods until they are sold. Liberty, on the other hand, is something you should never have to pay for. Although some liberty interests may be facilitated in their exercise by certain goods or services, the rights themselves are not dependent on them; the Second Amendment is the only part of the Constitution that explicitly refers to a specific category of goods, and announces a non-infringeable "right" to "keep and bear" those goods. (More here.)

The debate about gun rights and gun control always revolves, be it on blogs or talk shows or in the courts and legislatures, around doing things with guns; what people can do with their guns, what they can't do with their guns, what they have a "right" to do with their guns, what they might do with their guns, what they want to do with their guns, what they need to do with their guns, what they won't do with their guns, what they worry or fear other people will do with their guns, how to prevent people from doing certain things with their guns, what The Founders™ wanted people to be able to do with their guns, and so forth. That's what everyone cares about; that's what everyone is, and has always been, invested in.

But the Second Amendment does not explicitly give us the answers. Instead we have to look to the law, and barring that, to the writings and commentaries of our various ideological allies, and whatever writings and commentaries those allies have carefully selected, edited and compiled for us to validate one normative premise or another, and to use as ammunition (no pun intended) in case anyone comes along with a new or different idea.

But if you set all that aside and start with the text itself, what the Amendment actually says [setting aside, for the moment, the "well-regulated militia" part], and apply nothing but simple English grammar and syntax to it, you have to conclude that the phrase "to keep and bear arms" means to own, possess and/or carry "arms." Ownership and possession are property interests, and to "carry" something is to exercise one's property rights in that thing. A gun is, indisputably, a thing, a chattel; the gun itself is property. To "keep" a chattel means, essentially, to own or possess it, permanently or quasi-permanently. To "bear" a chattel also means to own or possess it, or to carry it, hold it, display it, store it, maintain it, and so forth -- all of which are property rights.

Recently I've been confronted about the meaning of the English verb "to bear." I've been told that "to bear" does not mean to own, possess, hold or carry; rather it means, inter alia, "to act," "to use," and/or "to wage war."

An 18th-century English dictionary provides the following definitions and usages of the verb "to bear:"

A Dictionary of the English Language (1792 edition)

To BEAR. v. a.pret. I bore, or bared

1. To carry as a burden.
2. To convey or carry.
3. To carry as a mark of authority.
4. To carry as a mark of distinction.
5. To carry as in show.
6. To carry as in trust.
7. To support ; to keep from falling.
8. To keep afloat.
9. To support with proportionate strength.
10. To carry in the mind as love, hate.
11. To endure, as pain, without sinking.
12. To suffer to undergo.
13. To permit.
14. To be capable of ; to admit.
15. To produce, as fruit.
16. To bring forth, as a child.
17. To possess, as power or honour.
18. To gain ; to win.
19. To maintain ; to keep up.
20. To support any thing good or bad.
21. To exhibit.
22. To be answerable for.
23. To supply.
24. To be the object of.
25. To behave.
26. To impel ; to urge ; to push.
27. To press.
28. To incite ; to animate.
29. To bear in hand. To amuse with false pretences; to deceive.
30. To bear off. To carry away by force.
31. To bear out. To support; to maintain.

To BEAR. v. n.

1. To suffer pain.
2. To be patient.
3. To be fruitful or prolifick.
4. To take effect ; to succeed.
5. To tend ; to be directed to any point.
6. To act as an impellent.
7. To act upon.
8. To be situated with respect to other places.
9. To bear up. To stand firm without falling.
10. To bear with. To endure an unpleasing thing.

Two other 18th-century English dictionaries, the 1768 edition of the one transcribed above, and a Universal Etymological English Dictionary published in 1756, contain similar definitions and usages. I'm not sure that "to act upon" a chattel is the same as "to act with" (i.e., to "use") that chattel ("acting upon" a chattel tends to mean doing things to it, not with it), and the rest of the definitions and usages of "to bear" listed here don't seem to include any particular acts one can do with a chattel other than carry it, hold it, maintain it or exhibit it.

Of course, not every idiomatic usage of a word is covered by a dictionary; this one defines the idioms "to bear in hand," "to bear off," "to bear out," "to bear up" and "to bear with," but not "to bear arms." It's also been suggested to me that "to bear arms" has, and had in the 18th century, the idiomatic meaning "to use arms to kill others with or to wage war." The evidence of this was, purportedly, Wikipedia, quoting Justice Scalia's majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), citing an argument raised in one of the amicus briefs, which is unsourced:

The phrase "bear Arms" also had at the time of the founding an idiomatic meaning that was significantly different from its natural meaning: "to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight" or "to wage war."
Id. at 2794 (citation omitted). However, the person citing this "evidence" conveniently left out what immediately follows:
But it unequivocally bore that idiomatic meaning only when followed by the preposition "against," which was in turn followed by the target of the hostilities. Every example given by petitioners' amici for the idiomatic meaning of "bear arms" from the founding period either includes the preposition "against" or is not clearly idiomatic.
Id. (citation omitted) (emphasis in original). Hence even Justice Scalia acknowledged that the phrase "to bear arms" does not by itself mean, and did not in 1789 by itself mean, "to use arms to kill others with" or "to wage war." The phrase, "to bear arms against [X]" might have had that meaning, provided [X] was identified.  

Even looking up the phrase "bear arms" on Dictionary.com, in search of a modern idiomatic meaning, provides only the following:

Idioms
10. bear arms
   a. to carry weapons.
   b. to serve as a member of the military or of contending forces[.]
The evidence, then, does not show that the phrase "to bear arms" means, or meant in 1789, "to use arms to kill others with" or "to wage war." The evidence thus far shows that "bear arms" means to carry weapons, or to be a member or the military or some similar arms-bearing force (such as a police department). What those arms may or may not be used for is not included in that phrase.

Moreover, the use of a chattel is also a property right. It's one of the "sticks" in the "bundle of rights" that make up property rights in chattels (including inter alia the right to hold, store, sell, give away, convert, alter, destroy, use, and exclude others from using, the chattel). So even if we include "to use" in the definition or usage of "to bear," the only conclusion we can reach, based on the evidence presented thus far, is that the Second Amendment announces a "right" to own, possess, carry and use a particular type of chattel ("arms"), all of which are property interests.

Which brings us to the original question: Why is this idea so profoundly threatening?

I have a couple of theories about that, which I'm sure those who feel profoundly threatened by it won't agree with and won't want to hear. The fact is I haven't read or heard much to authoritatively disprove the idea that the "right to keep and bear arms" is, or ought to be considered, a property right or a set of property rights. The various First Amendment analogies and others with which I've been presented over and over again don't hold water, because they're just not analogous; the respective Amendments are simply not the same and do not say, mean or do the same things. Of course the point is always made that there's really no history or jurisprudence to support this property-rights theory, which I don't really dispute. But the fact that historians, scholars and courts have missed it or ignored it -- if indeed they have -- doesn't by itself mean that it's wrong or logically unsound. Moreover, there's also no history or jurisprudence or authority I'm aware of making the distinction in the opposite direction, viz., affirmatively finding that the rights announced by the Second Amendment are not property rights.

It's only natural, when presented with a novel idea that challenges one's deeply-held beliefs, to react defensively and defiantly, even take the new idea as a personal affront. But some of the reactions I've received to this idea have been over-the-top hostile. I have twice been called an "authoritarian" and "anti-rights activist" bent on "restricting the Second Amendment" to what I "wish" it means, which apparently is something like "you can own guns, but you can never use them." This is where the conversation usually ends up after I and the other party fail to change each other's minds. Unable to understand or consider a novel idea, the person feels threatened by it and lashes out with an ad hominem attack, calling me an authoritarian. Which, I guess, I must be if I don't see guns and gun rights the same way they do.

For one thing, I'm not sure what is "authoritarian" about property rights. Most libertarians I talk to are all about property rights; in fact some of them have told me that there is no such thing as "civil rights" at all, that civil rights are authoritarian or that believing in civil rights is authoritarian, and that property rights are the only legitimate rights/liberties/freedoms that exist. Yet somehow the idea that this is a property right and not a civil right is threatening to them, and indicative of authoritarianism. That, I can't figure out. And I've never used this property-rights theory to support or advocate for any particular gun controls or restrictions, let alone argued that it would permit more controls or restrictions than are already permissible. Property rights and liberty interests are both protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments' respective due process clauses. So I don't know what that's all about either.

As far as that "you can never use them" bit goes, I suppose it comes from the implication -- which is intended -- that the Second Amendment announces the right to own, possess and carry guns, but it does not announce a specific "right" to do any particular thing with our guns. Meaning, the Second Amendment does not announce a "right" to shoot, or as also suggested to me, a "right" to "use guns to kill others."

But that is not to say that such rights don't exist, nor that we are "forbidden from ever doing anything with a gun" or even that we can be forbidden from ever doing anything with a gun. (Obviously, "You do not have a right to [X]" is not the same thing as "You are forbidden to [X].") Clearly we can be forbidden from doing some things with guns, such as murder, assault, robbery, vandalism and extortion. No one has a "right," and the Second Amendment does not announce a "right," to "use" one's "arms" to murder, assault, rob, vandalize or extort. No gun-rights advocate has ever stated or suggested to me that it does. Indeed, gun-rights advocates point to these crimes often, as evidence that there is no point in "banning" or controlling guns because these various acts are already against the law.

So, the obvious next question is, what specific things, if any, does the Second Amendment give an individual the "right" to do with his guns? Since there are clearly things one does not have a right to do with one's guns, what does the text of the Second Amendment tell us to distinguish acts to which we have a right from acts to which we don't have a right? Answer: Nothing. That's where the debate begins. We have this debate because the Second Amendment itself does not provide the answers. That doesn't mean that the rights announced by the Second Amendment are not property rights.

What would the practical effects be of acknowledging and recognizing that Second Amendment rights are property rights? Probably none. It certainly wouldn't mean that guns could be confiscated; if anything it would mean the opposite. Property is already shielded from confiscation by the Fifth Amendment, and having the Constitution separately carve out a special category of property for non-infringeable property rights would seem to strengthen, rather than weaken, that shield. It also wouldn't subject guns to ordinary commercial regulation or products liability, because again, carving out a special category of products for non-infringeable property rights would seem to exempt them from such laws. It would obviate the need to exempt them by statute, not prevent them from being exempted by statute or nullify the existing statutory exemption. Ultimately, all it would really mean is that the law can place reasonable limits on what can be done with a gun, on what a gun can be used for, which, as noted above, it already does.

So, at the end of the day, the idea that the Second Amendment announces property rights in guns, without announcing any specific "right" to do any particular thing with them, should not be the least bit threatening. But it is. And I think I know why.

Speaking from my own experience and observation, and having given this a lot of thought and written about it at length here and elsewhere, many gun-rights advocates I've encountered have struck me as the heroes of their own private mythology. What I think is being threatened here is their own sense of, and desire for, personal heroism (viz., to feel heroic, if not actually be heroic). They are, and expect to be, the heroes of the next American Revolution, and they want to be able to continue to think of themselves that way by asserting a "right" to be heroes, and to do the things, the "Second Amendment remedies," that will make heroes out of them when the time comes. The guns are not only the instruments of that heroism, they're symbols of it as well.

Many gun-rights advocates I've encountered consistently describe and refer to themselves, their guns, the Second Amendment, and what they have a "right" to do with their guns, in florid, grandiose, mythic-heroic -- and very, very personal -- terms. By contrast, referring to guns as mere consumer goods, retail products, little mechanical devices manufactured and sold for profit, de-mythologizes them. One might even think it trivializes them. If guns are just property, retail goods, and don't represent anything more than that, then a person can't really justifiably take pride in or feel particularly special, let alone heroic, about owning, possessing or carrying one. (I might take pride in my music, were it any good, but I've never thought of or referred to myself as a "proud piano owner.")  Moreover, simply owning, possessing or carrying a mechanical device bought at retail is neither mythic nor heroic. It's actually quite ordinary.

So, what I've apparently done is accuse the Heroes of the Next American Revolution of being nothing but ordinary retail consumers. I guess that makes me an "authoritarian" and an "anti-rights activist." Oh well.

Originally posted to GrafZeppelin127 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:42 AM PST.

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

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  If the second amendment is a property right, (5+ / 0-)

    wouldn't it also be considered a civil right since it...well, Black's says this:

    These are the rights that are granted to every citizen of the United States by the constitution and all of its amendments. Equal protection is guaranteed to every one regardless of race, colour and creed.
    A diary link.

    Do civil rights and property rights have to be mutually exclusive?

    •  They are simply different. (0+ / 0-)

      "Civil right" may be the wrong term; "liberty interest" is probably better. I sometimes use the terms interchangeably when I shouldn't.

      But the idea is to describe and understand exactly what the "rights" at issue are, not to exclude them from one category or another.

      •  Gun rights, like property rights, not unlimited (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GrafZeppelin127

        The Supreme Court went way overboard early in the 20th century when they decided a constitutional right to have and enjoy property meant things like child labor laws were an unconstitutional infringement on property rights.

        The RKBA side likes to argue the right to owning the gun is an individual liberty exactly like the right to free speech, worship, or an abortion, which is why they constantly say that restrictions on firearms are akin to restrictions on those rights. But looked at as property rights (important yes),  then you can see that it is perfectly sensible and constitutional to put limits on certain individual rights such as property (or guns) when balancing other compelling public interests - in the case of guns, public safety.

        Of course, I'm sure you're well aware that you will convince few if anyone who thinks otherwise. But I'm glad to hear someone else come to this realization as well.

        •  Maybe that's the problem. (0+ / 0-)
          [L]ooked at as property rights ...,  then you can see that it is perfectly sensible and constitutional to put limits on certain individual rights ... when balancing other compelling public interests[.]"
          If you've already decided that that is not "perfectly sensible" and not "constitutional," then any means of making it seem "perfectly sensible and constitutional" must be rejected out of hand.
        •  re: "perfectly sensible and ... public safety" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theatre goon, gerrilea

          I see that you sort of addressed how I would respond to this in your comment below.

          Whether and how much regulation is effective or politically feasible are separate debates.
          I see this as the fallacy and fundamental flaw of gun control and is at the crux of why I oppose it.  It is based upon the idea that a lawful gun owner is a criminal who just hasn't committed their crime, yet.  This is a premise that I wholly reject.

          "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

          by blackhand on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:34:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not that I necessarily disagree, but... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blackhand
            It is based upon the idea that a lawful gun owner is a criminal who just hasn't committed their crime, yet.
            ...don't all laws do that?

            Don't speed limits assume that a lawful driver is a speeder before he ever gets on the road?

            Don't securities laws assume that every securities trader is a crook?

            Don't building codes assume that every contractor will use inferior materials and shoddy workmanship?

            Again, I don't necessarily disagree that this is what gun control does, I'm not saying you're wrong and I'm not trying to be sarcastic or oppositional. I'm just not sure what the distinction is, from an objective standpoint. Do you oppose speed limits, securities laws and building codes for the same reason, viz. that they try to prevent harm before it happens by assuming that everyone affected by the law has the potential to cause harm? If not, why not?

            •  Good questions. Replies in line below (5+ / 0-)

              I like and appreciate your reasoning and think that this does raise a very valid consideration as to what is and is not feasible in terms of a legal solution to crime and violence in general and guns in particular.

              Don't speed limits assume that a lawful driver is a speeder before he ever gets on the road?
              Is it not a societal assumption that most citizens are honest and generally law abiding?  

              Speed limits, ideally, are based upon physics of the roads, traffic patterns, and other geographic information with input from professional engineers to designate a safe operational limit for vehicles under normal conditions. In practice this is at least partially true.  What speed limit regulations and laws do is stipulate penalties for those who violate them.  In this regard, they are like any other criminal code including against murder, assault, rape, and gun brandishing.

              Don't securities laws assume that every securities trader is a crook?
              When you say securities laws, I think of things like insider trading and proper disclosure.  No, I don't believe that there is an assumption that every trader is a crook.  What the laws do is set penalties for improper action and activities that harm others.
              Don't building codes assume that every contractor will use inferior materials and shoddy workmanship?
              Again, no I don't believe there to be an assumption that contractors are crooks.  I also don't think building codes would effectively deal with a crooked contractor either.  Building codes, are in many ways similar to speed limits, in that they are a set of physical standards.  In this case, a set of minimal construction standards.

              I agree with you that the premise, at least partially, here is to try to avoid harm in terms of the public interest.  With the slight exception to speed limits, which I think are often artificially low relative to the improvements in vehicle design and safety, I don't have any outright objections to what I think of in terms of these regulations.

              Lets try compare this to common gun control.
              1) registration.  Setting aside the "it leads to confiscation", which is an argument in and of itself, how does registering "the gun" serve public interest.  How does it reduce or prevent crime and is it effective?   I do believe that there is a big difference between gun registration and carry permit licensing.   The former says the police have on record that I own model ABC123 and the latter says that I have taken the steps to be a lawful owner and demonstrated proficiency and understanding of my responsibilities.  By contrast, how many gun crimes are committed by persons with permits versus individuals who are already known to the criminal justice system?  Would registration prevent black market sales?

              2) "Assault Weapon Bans"  I think the data here speaks for itself.  These simply are not the weapon of choice for crime.  I think that this is an emotion based reaction that is nothing but retaliation against a false target.

              3) "Liability Insurance"  A subject that on the surface seems plausible, but is ridiculous in practice.  I also think that this is another reaction based punitive measure.

              4) "Magazine Limits".  I find this one to be absurd.  If someone is licensed to carry a lethal weapon, what good does this serve to limit them?  Would someone who plans to commit mass murder limit their bullets?  Then there are a whole host of enforceability questions as well as data that shows this to be a non issue.

              5) Carry restrictions on "sensitive" places. Again, if someone is licensed to carry and has demonstrated proficiency and responsibility, what does it matter?  The only practical premise I can see here is accident prevention, but even that I find nebulous at best.  If Joe is picking their child up at school is it safer for their gun to remain secured in a holster on their person, or in their car glove box where someone can easily make a smash and grab?   Restaurants and such, again, data is not showing this to be a problem.

              6) "UBC"  I think that this is largely in response to one, the myth that people are avoiding background checks via private sales, and two a symbolic feel good measure about the recognition of black market sales.  Personally, I don't think the Fed should be involved in the point of sale of any item, including guns.  It ties back to what I said earlier about a permit bearing individual versus point of sale surveillance.

              Lets also ask, who is going to abide by these laws and who will not?  The answer to this should be obvious. Are these measures effective and would they further the goal to prevent harm or crime in society?  With the possible exception of background checks, I don't see how, and even that would be limited in it's utility.  Hell, even Biden said that none of the proposals would have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting.  To me that makes the answer a resounding no.

              I think that if the goal is to reduce and prevent harm in society and ameliorate it before it occurs, there are things we could do that would be FAR more effective than gun control.

              "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

              by blackhand on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:54:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  No, not all laws assume guilt. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ER Doc, theatre goon

              That is a new machination of the last 80 yrs.

              Laws are being fashioned today that assume guilt.  Government by Decree, is what I describe it.

              The Supreme Court has decreed that trial by jury is no longer a right our government protects.

              You're guilty if we say so.

              -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

              by gerrilea on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:02:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Its 2d in a list of civil rights (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, 43north

        The Bill of Rights are generally considered to be civil rights

        Wiki:

        The Bill of Rights enumerates freedoms not explicitly indicated in the main body of the Constitution, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, and free assembly; the right to keep and bear arms; freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, security in personal effects, and freedom from warrants issued without probable cause; indictment by a grand jury for any capital or "infamous crime"; guarantee of a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury; and prohibition of double jeopardy.
        Not much about property rights there, other than Search and Seizure and the Secure in personal effects thing.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:03:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Largely an esoteric point (7+ / 0-)

    with no practical effect. I mean we can discuss and debate it, but in the end, it makes no difference whatsoever.

  •  I don't see a problem with the 2nd-A being (5+ / 0-)

    considered a property right.  Guns are, as you said, property, an item owned.  Even as a property right, the amendment still says that people's ability to possess these instruments shall not be infringed.  

    As you also said, this does not mean anyone has the right to commit, murder, vandalism, theft, rape, assault, etc, with or without these devices.

    I have no idea if you're correct in your theory about the negative reaction being due to a desire to be a super hero or not.  I don't have a frame of reference to offer an opinion or to judge.  However, it also strikes me that by the same token, the desire for "gun control" stems from fear.  Fear that one who possesses a gun will use it to commit murder, vandalism, theft, rape, assault, etc.  

    And here is where I have issue with gun control.  At worst, it will not stop the individual who will commit murder, vandalism, theft, rape, assault, etc.  Absent the gun, they will still commit these actions.  With a different instrument if necessary.  The gun is nothing more than a tool to give them an advantage and denied a gun they will use another tool.   At best, gun control to prohibit these actions with a gun is redundant and in implementation only becomes an infringement upon people's rights, property or civil.  It also becomes an infringement against and an impediment to their right and ability to defend themselves in circumstances where doing so is justified; including against those who will use guns whether they are legal or not.

    What gun control does do is turn away people who do value their right to bear arms and is therefore detrimental to our societal interests.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:38:52 AM PST

    •  No argument here: (0+ / 0-)
      However, it also strikes me that by the same token, the desire for "gun control" stems from fear.
      I'm sure that's true. But not all "fear" is irrational or unjustified.

      This is an important point too:

      The gun is nothing more than a tool to give them an advantage and denied a gun they will use another tool.
      (emphasis added). That "advantage" is the key. No "other tool" can provide the wielder with the advantages that a gun provides. No other tool has the kind of power, force, precision, range, effectiveness or instantaneous efficacy that a gun has, nor reduces the risk for the assailant the way a gun does. Foregoing a gun for some "other tool" reduces the risk for the victim(s), and increases the risk for the assailant. A gun makes a dangerous person more dangerous to those around him, and makes those around him less dangerous to him.

      I could go on and on but you gather my point. Laws are more about mitigating aggregate risks than anything else. They're not meant to guarantee that bad things never happen, but to increase the risk of committing bad acts and thereby reduce the risk of being a victim thereof.

      There was a good diary posted recently which is on my rec list, Stand Your Ground Advocates Always See Themselves As the One With the Gun. This is what got me thinking about this topic again. I think what you're saying here, which I would agree with, is that both gun-rights and gun-control advocates approach the issue from a victim's standpoint, and have different ideas about how to avoid being victims of gun violence. But there's another thing that gun-rights advocates feel, or fear being, victimized by, which may not have an analogue on the other side.

  •  Apply your arguments to cars, not exactly (0+ / 0-)

    parallel, but some similarities. The Constitution guaranties free use of highways.

    More people die in traffic than with firearms, many are innocent. Use of fossil fuels can destroy us all. Methods to move folks around more efficiently, economically and responsibly  exist. The manufacturing of a new vehicle or two for each driver every few years probably puts more carbon in the air than those cars will burn in their useful lifetime.

    But, as you point out, it's perception and strongly held beliefs.

    "They will take my pickup when the pry it out from under my cold dead ass."

    (Much snark in the line above, but not entirely.)

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. Sam Clemens

    by Wood Gas on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:43:44 AM PST

  •  Maybe it's less visceral than that... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    When we think of property (at least I do... I won't assume for anyone else) I think of the taxes and restrictions that can be placed on said property.

    For example:

    A vehicle needs to be registered with the state, inspected by the state (at least here in CA and in NC) on a regular basis (yearly, every two years, etc) and you pay yearly taxes on your vehicle.

    Your home and land are registered with the state, and you pay yearly taxes on it. Even if you rent, there are certain restrictions placed (by your landlord and the state) on what you can and can't do with your rental.

    When I think of the term "property" I think of those two things.  Granted, property is more than a vehicle and your land/home, your cell phone is property (but we also pay a fee for its usage), your clothes are your property, etc, etc.

    Maybe the reaction comes from a place of: if we label this property, then there can be more regulation?  There are already restrictions on RKBA, but perhaps people fear that if it is labeled a property right, there could be more government oversight and restrictions placed.

    I don't know, but it's an interesting thought.

    The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. -Charles de Montesquieu

    by dawgflyer13 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:47:25 AM PST

    •  I believe the diary points out that (0+ / 0-)

      having the Constitution explicitly carve out a special category of products for special, non-infringeable property rights would likely have the effect of exempting and immunizing those products from ordinary commercial regulation or products liability. Hence any perception that "if we label this property, then there can be more regulation" is entirely unreasonable. If anything, it would have the opposite effect.

  •  Forgetting 'Well Regulated Militia' (0+ / 0-)

    Totally removes the amendment from the context of a right of states to have independent militias both to obviate the need for a federal standing army, and of course, to defend the state from foreign and conceivably federal attacks.

  •  Hmmm (7+ / 0-)
    If guns are just property, retail goods, and don't represent anything more than that, then a person can't really justifiably take pride in or feel particularly special, let alone heroic, about owning, possessing or carrying one.
    I'm proud when I exercise my rights. Whether that's voting ("I voted!" stickers) or proud that I can exercise my right to be free from religion or proud that I'm exercising my freedom of speech.

    Why wouldn't I be proud about exercising my (civil or property) right to keep and bear arms? Why wouldn't I be proud about my proficiency in wielding said arms?

    •  I think it's fine to be proud of your skills (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blackhand

      and abilities. I just never really thought of owning a consumer product, in and of itself, as a source of pride. As I said, I'm a musician and I might be proud of my music (were it any good) or performing talent (if I had any), but it never occurred to me to think of myself as being a "proud piano owner," or to take pride in being able to carry my guitar around everywhere I go. I mean, I like my piano and I like my guitar, they're nice instruments, but I'm not "proud of" them or proud of myself for merely owning them.

      Neither, I think, am I "proud of" the fact that I'm exercising my First Amendment rights to free expression when I write or perform a song. Or my right to free assembly when I have a gig.

      I don't know. I guess you can be proud of whatever you want to be proud of.

      •  And if that piano was the Fazio Brunei? (4+ / 0-)

        I'd assume you'd be proud of that, on top of your skill.

        I see no issue in taking pride in the things you own. Usually that means you take better care of them.

        •  Sure. People are proud of their cars, (0+ / 0-)

          collectibles, objets d'art, and so forth. Usually, as you pointed out, if there's something unique or special about the item. Guns strike me as just ordinary mass-produced consumer goods, no more special or unique than shoes or blenders. If you owned Gen. MacArthur's pistol, for example, that might be one thing. And some people are proud of their Cuisinart or their Air Jordans.

          So, like I said, be proud of whatever you want to be proud of.

          •  My 12 Ga shotgun (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            theatre goon, DavidMS, gerrilea, ER Doc

            Is a Winchester Model 12 (as in 1912). One of the only Winchesters of that era not designed by the great John Browning. My particular one was made in 1931. It has a lot of "honest wear" on it that makes it not very valuable as a collectible. I've only had it for a decade or so, but I sometimes think about all the rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, etc... it has put on the table over the years. Someday I will give it to my son who I hope gives it one of his kids. I hope 100 years from now some descendant of mine looks at it, with it's honest wear, and thinks about all the rabbits and squirrels and turkeys it must have put on the table over the years.

      •  The more I think about it, the more I can see (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theatre goon, KVoimakas, gerrilea, ER Doc

        taking pride in owning certain objects.  I don't even think it depends upon the monetary value of the object or its rarity.  It is all about personal value, to you.  For example, I took a lot of pride in my first new car.  It wasn't anything special, but I still put a lot of effort and care into preserving it.  The same thing applies to objects with sentimental value which may be priceless to the owner but junk on the common market.  

        "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

        by blackhand on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:17:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Voting rights are not alienable or assignable (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GrafZeppelin127

      Property rights are. The only constitutional question about regulating firearms is the balance between an individual's right to have a gun and the public's interest in a safe society.

      Whether and how much regulation is effective or politically feasible are separate debates.

      •  Indeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerrilea, FrankRose, ER Doc, DavidMS

        Applying the concept of strict scrutiny that we would use with any other fundamental right like speech or privacy (though the SCOTUS kind of magically created the latter out of other rights).

      •  That's an interesting point. (0+ / 0-)

        And other "liberty interests" like free speech and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure are not assignable either.

        And I entirely agree with this as well:

        The only constitutional question about regulating firearms is the balance between an individual's right to have a gun and the public's interest in a safe society.
        (emphasis added). Does "to have a gun" mean, "to enjoy and exercise property rights in a gun"? Or does "to have" mean or include "to use," "to shoot," "to kill others," "to wage war" or "to overthrow the federal government"? What specific acts are contained in the verb "to have"?

        [These are rhetorical questions mainly; I'm thinking this through as I type.]

        If "to keep and bear arms" is a property right or a set of property rights, then that would include the right to sell or give away your guns, since alienation, assignment, conversion, etc. of a chattel are all property rights. Hence any regulations or restrictions on buying, selling, gifting and trading guns would "infringe" the property rights of the seller.

        The fact that property interests can be transferred and liberty interests can't helps to distinguish one from the other. But it still seems to me that gun controls, laws, regulations, restrictions, &c. interfere with property interests in guns (and, by extension, commerce in guns), rather than liberty interests in specific acts or forbearances.

        I'll think about this some more. Good point. Thanks.

  •  Great discussion. One we started the other day. (8+ / 0-)

    And one you refused to actually address in an honest manner. Let's move on.

    Why did you feel the need to begin this thought experiment?  What was the goal to be accomplished?  You claim it's to understand how restrictions or the banning of certain firearms isn't a restriction on a property right.  It does make sense but why can't the right be both a property right and a "liberty interest"???

    It's clear to me that it is both.  I've never agreed that it was a "civil right", that's a privilege that is established by a court and subsequently can be revoked with a future court decision or act of a legislature.

    When you innocently state that this:

    I don't own or use guns, don't really want to own or use guns, and don't particularly care all that much if anyone else does.
    I find your statement and your "experiment" to be suspect considering the only group you are a member of here on DK is one Group that wishes to restrict gun ownership through State Legislatures.

    As a non-gun owner as well, but one that supports the entire Bill of Rights, it seems we are viewing this issue from different perspectives.  It begins with the reason we created our government in the first place.  One that we can change or abolish if we so chose.  It has no inherent right to exist.  What is the purpose of said treaty, as written?  Is it to expand and protect preexisting "conditions" and "rights" or to restrict and grant them? Or is it somewhere in between?

    This statement:

    Liberty, on the other hand, is something you should never have to pay for.
    Leaves me a bit dumbfounded.  Throughout human history, millions have suffered and died to have liberty.  Paying the ultimate price for said with their own blood.

    Liberty has never been a free enterprise. Our "modern" foreign policy is a testament to this fact; we pay trillions "to bring freedom to the world".  We pay with the lives of our men and women in uniform.  We pay with the lives of innocents citizens with blowback, ie The Boston Bombing, 911, etc.  We've paid so much that its impoverished millions of Americans leading to 133,000 a year to die from the poverty it has created.

    That said, you ignore the purpose of our treaty with one another.  The constitution doesn't grant rights, it protects them.  Your rights end where mine begin and vice-versa.  This does not mean either of us have to actually exercise any of the rights it protects.  Which by our own admission, we don't.  Again, we have the liberty, if and when we so chose.

    Even looking up the phrase "bear arms" on Dictionary.com, in search of a modern idiomatic meaning, provides only the following:
    You need to either amend this statement or remove it, it is appears to me to be intentionally incomplete.

    The link I gave you the other day was this:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/...


    bear arms

    arm
    2 [ahrm]
    noun
    1.  Usually, arms. weapons, especially firearms.
    2.  arms, Heraldry. the escutcheon, with its divisions, charges, and tinctures, and the other components forming an achievement that symbolizes and is reserved for a person, family, or corporate body; armorial bearings; coat of arms.
    verb (used without object)
    3.  to enter into a state of hostility or of readiness for war.
    verb (used with object)

    4.  to equip with weapons: to arm the troops.
    5.  to activate (a fuze) so that it will explode the charge at the time desired.
    6.  to cover protectively.
    7.  to provide with whatever will add strength, force, or security; support; fortify: He was armed with statistics and facts.
    8.  to equip or prepare for any specific purpose or effective use: to arm a security system; to arm oneself with persuasive arguments.
    The next point you fail to address or accept in your biased presentation here is actual history.  What meaning(s) did our very First Congress debate on these terms, ie "to keep and bear arms"?

    You were provided primary source materials and have yet to address it, even now.

    If this preexisting right is only a property right then why did our First Congress actually argue over the 2nd A's original wording?

    http://memory.loc.gov/....

      "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms".

       This declaration of rights, I take it, is intended to secure the people against the mal-administration of the Government; if we could suppose that, in all cases, the rights of the people would be attended to, the occasion for guards of this kind would be removed. Now, I am apprehensive, sir, that this clause would give an opportunity to the people in power to destroy the constitution itself. They can declare who are those religiously scrupulous, and prevent them from bearing arms."
    Why did the States originally wish for this:
    19th. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be exempted upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead.
    If "to bear arms" wasn't meant to wage war???????

    What I find unacceptable in your "thought experiment" is the failure to include all legitimate sources.  The First Congress IS the ultimate primary source.  Not what Jefferson, Madison, et al stated prior to the ratification of said treaty as in the Anti-Federalist and Federalist Papers.  Whether or not their personal papers and diaries said, "x, y or z"...

    What our First Congress believed those words meant is all that matters, not what came before.  That is intentional misdirection, even by various "jurists" to this day, including the revered jurists on the Supreme Court.

    What were the attempting to do with those words?  TO protect a preexisting right from being infringed.  That right included ownership (a property right) and the use of arms (a liberty interest).

    Haven't we all argued, as progressives and liberals, that it's not the words written BUT the intent of the law?  Haven't we???

    Yes.

    Thanks for the opportunity to bring these historical facts forward and into this discussion.

    -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

    by gerrilea on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:28:34 AM PST

    •  Appreciate your input. (0+ / 0-)

      But we covered most of this the other day. At this point I think I'll leave it to the reader to review the diary and your comment, click through all the links provided in each, and draw their own conclusions. Thanks.

      •  So, no honest discussion of historical facts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theatre goon, ER Doc

        that negate your "experiment" and it's conclusions?

        Conclusions are then meant to distract and obfuscate history?

        You've now made it clear this diary isn't about anything other than "framing the issue" for public consumption.

        "Look here but not there."  

        I'm so sorry to have interrupted your propaganda exercise.

        Wink, wink.

        -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

        by gerrilea on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:04:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It'll be interesting to see how . . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FrankRose, DavidMS, ER Doc

       the anti gun left responds to this.

    http://blog.chron.com/...

    Will they accept this as a cynical position she must take to have a chance of being elected in Texas or will they believe she's sincere and turn on her.

  •  Excellent until the point it slid into (5+ / 0-)

    make-believe land:

    "Speaking from my own experience and observation, and having given this a lot of thought and written about it at length here and elsewhere, many gun-rights advocates I've encountered have struck me as the heroes of their own private mythology."

    Mind reading doesn't exist.  

    •  Mind reading may not... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kasoru, gerrilea, FrankRose, ER Doc, DavidMS

      ...but it has long been an accepted, if not strictly honest, tactic to attribute to those who may disagree with you motives that they don't actually exhibit that would tend to put them in a bad light.

      If you can paint those who disagree with you as having some sort of hero-complex fantasy, then it is much easier to dismiss their points -- especially if you don't have any substantive responses to those points.

      "No amount of belief makes something a fact." --James Randi

      by theatre goon on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:29:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, maybe. But I think I went to great lengths (0+ / 0-)

      to qualify this and the rest of the last three paragraphs as a subjective opinion based on observations I've made of some of the behavior and language of some of the people I've encountered and that the conclusion is purely my own subjective opinion and this is merely what I think might be going on.

      I don't know how much farther I can go than that. There's an exchange farther up that I think supports this conclusion. But you don't have to agree.

  •  Definitions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theatre goon, DavidMS

    To BEAR. v. a.pret. I bore, or bared

    1. To carry as a burden.  Ever carry a rifle?
    2. To convey or carry.  Ever convey a rifle?
    3. To carry as a mark of authority.  Yes.
    4. To carry as a mark of distinction.  See above. Distinctly different than those who don't.
    5. To carry as in show.  Precisely.
    6. To carry as in trust. Requisite of the previous three.
    7. To support; to keep from falling.  Seems applicable to today.
    8. To keep afloat.  Or at least your powder dry.
    9. To support with proportionate strength.  No tossing.
    10. To carry in the mind as love, hate.  "This is my rifle..."
    11. To endure, as pain, without sinking.  See the previous.
    12. To suffer to undergo.  See the previous two.
    13. To permit.  To "bear" is to permit?  Ok.
    14. To be capable of; to admit.  That works.
    15. To produce, as fruit.  Never saw a rifle flower.
    16. To bring forth, as a child.  Ah, now I get it.
    17. To possess, as power or honor. Much as items 3-6.
    18. To gain; to win.  A lottery?
    19. To maintain; to keep up.  Indeed so.
    20. To support any thing good or bad.  Endure.
    21. To exhibit.  I show you mine if...
    22. To be answerable for.  Quite so.
    23. To supply.  To one's own-self be true.
    24. To be the object of.  Verses objected-to.
    25. To behave.  Oh, behave.
    26. To impel; to urge; to push. I've seen this.
    27. To press.  Valid.
    28. To incite ; to animate.  Ah, to take an inanimate object and to act upon it.  We might be getting somewhere.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site