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Thomas Magstadt
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 25 February 2013
Liberty without limits is anarchy. Let’s vote accordingly. Let’s kick the lunatics out of our legislatures. And keep them out.

Gun-Crazed or Gutless? Lunatics, Legislators and Liberty’s Limits

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The headline in the Feb. 21, 2013, edition of the Plaindealer, the local paper published in Ridgway, Colorado, read, "Four gun safety bills pass state House of Representatives".  It's short enough to speak for itself without editing or ellipsis, but the real story here is all about what the headline doesn't say:

Denver, Colorado – Four bills introduced just over a week ago passed out of the Colorado House of Representatives on Monday. The bill requiring background checks for all gun transfers, including between individuals, passed by a vote of 36-29; and the bill ending the taxpayer subsidy for the cost of background checks and requiring payment by the transferee passed 33-32. A limit on magazines containing more than 15 bullets or eight shotgun shells passed 34-31. The prohibition on concealed carrying of firearms at public colleges and universities passed 34-31. According to a press release from the House Democrats, no Republican voted for any of the bills. The bills now go to the Colorado Senate for consideration.

Astonishing, not a single Republican in the Colorado House of Representatives saw fit to vote for a bill to outlaw magazines containing more than 15 BULLETS or EIGHT SHOTGUN SHELLS.  Not a single Republic in the Colorado House voted to ban concealed firearms at colleges and universities.  Not one.  In a state that epitomizes the dangers inherent in a mindless abhorrence of gun laws, a state where the Aurora movie theater massacre last summer preceded the Columbine school massacre of 1999. 

What hunter needs 15 bullets to bring down a deer or eight shells to pop a partridge?  Assault weapons have nothing to do with the Constitution: when the Second Amendment was passed they were still using muskets and powder horns.  So anyone who argues there was "original intent" to allow citizens to possess lethal weapons that did not exist when the Bill of Rights was drafted is:

a) brainless;

b) stoned;

c) disingenuous;

c) barking mad;

e) all of the above.

The virus infecting the politic body is highly contagious.  In Montana, Rep. Steve Lavin, a Republican, has introduced a bill (House Bill No. 486) giving corporations the right to vote.  After all, didn't Mitt Romney say, "corporations are people, my friend?"  Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, no doubt agrees, but keep in mind he also believes President Obama's re-election by defeating Romney is "the most radical" President in U.S. history and darkly insinuates Obama is a Communist. Cruz recently visited a rifle and firearms accessory manufacturer and declared Obama's gun control efforts to be "cynical, political, and wrong."

And then there is Missouri, where a cretin disguised as Rep. Mike Leara has filed legislation that would make it illegal to introduce legislation restricting gun rights. The bill reads as follows: "Any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony."  In Missouri, a class D felony is punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.  That would be for daring to speak on behalf of all the sane people in Missouri.

As if that's not crazy enough, Wyoming, Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee all announced plans to make it a crime for state employees to enforce federal gun control measures. 

If you live in New England or anywhere east of the Mississippi and north of the Old South, you're probably thinking, "Who cares," but think again.

As political scientist G. Ross Stephens pointed out in a recent post, "small states control the U.S. Senate. The 26 smallest states [mostly in the Midwest and far West] where less than 18 percent of the population have a majority of the votes, controls its committees and legislative procedures. Nine states with a majority of the population have only 18 percent of the votes."  And, as Al Gore learned the hard way, the electoral college can award presidency to a candidate who loses the popular vote.

Meanwhile, the NRA, ALEC, and the gun-crazed extremists, who back and bankroll them, would have us believing that placing any limits whatsoever on gun ownership is the first step toward tyranny; that the right to amass a private arsenal of deadly weapons is absolute.  Only fools believe a civilized society can exist without laws, especially laws aimed at protecting innocent lives.

Liberty without limits is anarchy.  Let's vote accordingly.  Let's kick the lunatics out of our legislatures.  And keep them out. 

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ABOUT Thomas Magstadt

Tom Magstadt earned his Ph.D. at The Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies. He is the author of "An Empire If You Can Keep It: Power and Principle in American Foreign Policy," "Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions and Issues," and "Nations and Governments: Comparative Politics in Regional Perspective." He was a regular contributor to the Prague Post in 1998-99 and has published widely in newspapers, magazines and journals in the United States. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic in the mid-1990s and a visiting professor at the Air War College in 1990-92. He has taught at several universities, chaired two political science departments, and also did a stint as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. He is a member of the board of the International Relations Council of Kansas City. Now working mainly as a free-lance writer, he lives in Westwood Hills, Kansas.

g) Compensating for

g) Compensating for something.

What I find even funnier than

What I find even funnier than the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as "any person may have any gun at any time and place"--an interpretation which flies in the face not only of the actual text of the amendment itself, but the context under which said text was written--is the idea of several state legislators to pass laws barring enforcement of federal laws. This is probably the most blatant and obvious method of violating the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause since the Nullification Crisis.

Any legislator who would introduce such a bill, let alone vote for it, can be considered to have substantially violated his oath of office and thus should be immediately impeached and barred from further public office. Furthermore, obstructing the enforcement of the law is just that, obstruction of justice, and should be punished accordingly. Laws do not cease to exist simply because you disagree with them.

" What hunter needs 15

" What hunter needs 15 bullets to bring down a deer or eight shells to pop a partridge?"

Answer, a really bad shot who poses little threat if he needs that much ammo to hit anything as large as a deer. But such bad shots should have their auto weapons confiscated because they might, while taking target practice, shoot everyone and thing in sight instead of the target.

This outfit likes to preach

This outfit likes to preach to the choir and on this issue, I think a lot of you commentators have zero gun experience and are simply anti gun. All the other arguments (however valid) aside, meditate on this:
Experience, competence and safety with firearms is a lifelong skill best acquired young and nurtured throughout life. As a world culture we are not done with firearms by any means. Those of you who think it sufficient to give our new young warriors a 90 day training course with a weapon they have never seen before in their life and then send them into battle where their life depends on that recently attained skill, might want to rethink some of this nonsense about hunters, powder horns, muzzle loaders and old concepts of militias. I doubt you have ever considered the huge number of American warriors lives which have been saved because they had a solid skill base with firearms before they ever entered the military and faced combat. It might help a lot of you to find how and why they got that training and who paid for it. Quite a few of you could use a dose of military training yourselves, so you actually understand the issues that the one-percent who defend us, face every day. (Feel free to encourage your child to join up and report back.)
Change is clearly needed in the country's management of firearms but if you think the removal of basic military style weaponry from among the civilian population is the answer; you don't begin to understand all the relevant issues and you surly need to read up on some history.

Robert, thanks for your

Robert, thanks for your articulate post. I have a few comments and questions.

First, your argument is that lifelong firearms training is advantageous to someone going into military combat. Thus, if a recruit has been shooting guns since childhood, he will be better prepared to use his gun than if he had never seen one prior to his 90 day training period. I'll allow that this is probably correct.

However, this argument focuses entirely on the value of the self-improvement of the recruit in question. It needs to be balanced against the safety of other people in civil society. For the past couple of decades, we have been facing an increasing problem of suicidally disgruntled shooters using military grade weaponry to attack and slaughter crowds of unsuspecting people. The question is what we can do to prevent these tragedies from occurring.

One possibility is to attempt to remove access to military grade weaponry from among the civilian population. This does not mean the removal of all guns. It simply means the removal of guns that basically spray bullets.

I was given a .22 rifle when I was 9 years old, and I was taught some of the basics of gun handling and gun safety for using it. It had a clip of five bullets, plus one in the chamber. I managed to grow up without shooting myself or any other human, and I feel that I am self-improved because of that experience. But if I had decided, e.g., to shoot up my school with it, the damage I could have done would have been limited by the fact that I would have quickly run out of bullets and been overpowered.

From my point of view, our civilian society would better off if civilians were limited to owning the types of guns that were common about 50 years ago. They were effective for learning the basic use of firearms; they were quite adequate for hunting; they were sufficient for self-defense; they could be used to murder somebody if you wanted to. But they were not likely to create the extreme carnage that modern military grade weaponry does in the hands of someone on a rampage.

So I am curious about why you dismiss "the removal of basic military style weaponry from among the civilian population". Referring the reader to "read up on some history" is too open-ended to make your case. On the other hand, you do state that "change is clearly needed in the country's management of firearms". What sort of change do you propose, and why?


"What hunter needs 15 bullets

"What hunter needs 15 bullets to bring down a deer or eight shells to pop a partridge?  Assault weapons have nothing to do with the Constitution: when the Second Amendment was passed they were still using muskets and powder horns. . . . " on an on - I feel bad for the USA that Thomas Madstadt has to spell this out -

It's the same for USA conversations on GMO labeling, health care reform, living wage, 9/11 investigation, renewable energy, education, financial regulation, emmissions, war, the illegal detention of Manning, the illegal occupation of Hawai'i (sorry I digress into the conversations the USA must but don't even get to).... on and on.

Looking from abroad it's like baby angst - a disabled rebelious baby with the nappie somewhere and the shit all over the floor and walls. Its fucken broken mate. Time's up yank.

This it is just one small snapshot of Colorado captured by Madstadt for the over sickened non-USA reader and the time captual of a so called superpower -the last stand of old imperialism.

Screw the USA and the gutless insecure babies for all the violence and destruction you cause and allow. AND THIS IS THE GLOBAL MODEL OF CONSUMMER CULTURE AND ENSLAVEMENT THAT COMES WITH GLOBALIZATION!!

Idiots with guns. Screw you!

Gun Loving and Bible Totting

Gun Loving and Bible Totting , Will be the down fall of the Red, White and Blue , of the Constitution and the real America where Freedom has been totally abused and corrupted..

And what enlightened society

And what enlightened society do you live in? And if you're so "over-sickened" by reading our debates, then why are you even bothering?

You just sound like some adolescent xenophobe who doesn't know what to do with himself.

2 Replies to Nemo: Yes,

2 Replies to Nemo:

Yes, you're probably correct that the 2nd Amendment had nothing to do with hunting. In fact, the mention of "militia" most certainly indicates that people were to be armed for defense, at a town or state level. The phrase "well regulated" meant that men were trained and equipped by the local government, with a couple of musters per year outside of planting or harvesting season, and supplied by guns and ammo from the local armory. It had nothing to do with personal weaponry.

As far as gun free zones, your argument doesn't hold up. In Washington, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or any other big city, the laws for that city apply to all residents, but it's the poorer neighborhoods that have all the gun crime. Fix the poverty, and you fix the gun violence.

And a third point: Just because a citizen happens to have a concealed weapon during a mass shooting, doesn't mean he or she will be able to do anything useful to stop it. The citizen will most certainly be taken by surprise, outgunned, and by pulling out a handgun, identified as a target and most likely killed.

The 2nd Amendment also has

The 2nd Amendment also has nothing to do with preventing government tyranny. The militia was for defense purposes, either against marauding Indians or the British. Use of weapons against the US government is defined as treason in the Constitution.

The 2nd amendment gives the

The 2nd amendment gives the people the right to possess guns, it does not specify what type of guns, it is guns in general. The people were to be armed for their protection and to protect their country against intruders. Another country would think twice about invading a country where the majority of the citizens are armed. Also, people in the government of a country with well armed citizens would think twice before trying to enslave the people. On a smaller scale a gunman would think twice about going into a theater and opening fire, or into a school and opening fire if he knew the majority of the people in the theater were armed and trained in how to use their weapon. If the teachers in the schools were armed and trained in how to use their weapons we would not have had as many casualties in the schools that have been attacked. The problem is lack of training and a shortage of people with guns, and the narrow minded thinking of people who feel if there are more laws and more restrictions on guns things would be better. Wake up and look at the statistics, there is more gun crime in areas with more gun control, because the honest citizens aren't armed, but the criminals are. Also, the weapons that they are trying to limit outlaw that have magazines that hold 15 or more rounds, or 8 shotgun shells, weren't used in the attacks. I firmly believe that any senator or representative that proposes a bill to limit the ability of the people to own guns should be convicted of treason against the people. The best defense against attacks at schools, movie theaters or anywhere else is to be well armed.

The 2nd's only enumerated

The 2nd's only enumerated purpose for keeping & bearing arms is for citizens to be ready and available to serve in the military. That is all. You can read it for yourself!
A "right" to "own" weapons, hunt with a gun, sport shooting, and yes - even self defense - are not mentioned in any manner by the 2nd amendment. Sure you can find supportive language elsewhere - "life, liberty, pursuit of happiness" comes to mind. But...
Only the ideologically bent gang of 5 Supreme Courtesans can get away with stuffing imaginary words into the 2nd. For now that is, until those Courtesans are replaced. And we can get back to reality and sanity in the 2nd amendment.

To Nemo-- I agree that the

To Nemo--

I agree that the 2nd Amendment has nothing to with hunting. The assumption that it does is one of the key misunderstandings of those promoting gun control.

BUT--Really, Nemo? Your logic about military weaponry argues that I, as a law-abiding citizen, concerned about the potential for tyrannical actions of my government, should be permitted to posess nuclear weapons--doesn't it?

Muskets WERE the assault

Muskets WERE the assault weapons of the 18th century.

f ) self righteous aggression

f ) self righteous aggression

O.K. so it was about muskets

O.K. so it was about muskets back then, but that's exactly what the military had also. One can make the argument that the modern arms of the military is what the civilian population should be able to own in the event they need to take up arms against the government. Telling the populace they need to go back to muskets in the face of modern military weaponry is rather silly, or that the founding fathers were so stupid that they didn't expect technology to advance, is as I said, silly.

NEMO: Who are "the people" in


Who are "the people" in the Second Amendment? Private citizens? Or the modern National Guard and our standing military organizations? Remember there was no standing army when this "right" was included in the Bill of Rights.

Remember also that the majority of the population was rural, at that time, and today it is largely urban. Farmers had to have means of protecting themselves and their families and livestock from the depredations of bears, cougars, bobcats, etc., and attacks from displaced aborigines, roving bandits, and so on.

Compare that to the urban environment. All animals, humans included, are stressed in crowded environments. Giving each single citizen the right to carry guns, including rapid-fire assault-type rifles, is just plain stupid, because we can predict what will happen.

Conditions have changed greatly since that amendment was written. Not just the technology of firepower, but the social and political conditions. We have the best-equipped military in the entire world; we have the National Guard, the FBI, state and municipal police, county sheriffs, US Marshals, etc. They're "the people" who have the right to own and bear arms, not your next-door neighbor who talks to himself while commuting to work and makes threatening gestures at fellow drivers.

This amendment is greatly in need of revision, to be far more specific about WHO can bear arms, under what conditions, and WHAT KIND of "arms" can be owned or carried.

Among Constitutional

Among Constitutional scholars, there is no debate about the meaning of the Second Amendment terminology, nor whether the authors understood that the nature of technology is to advance beyond what we can currently conceive. This is why you need a warrant for a wire tap, for example.

Why do people try to interpret the Constitution without doing proper research?

And by the way, how can you "predict" what would happen in an armed society? Much of the gun control argument is predicated on this specious logical fallacy. As we all know, Switzerland is a heavily armed society--an "assault" rifle in every home. What do you "predict" is going to happen there?

Addressed to "RON IN NM" and

Addressed to "RON IN NM" and others: The Bill of Rights in all cases enumerates rights retained by "The People" - the right to free speech, etcetera. Why would it suddenly, and in only one instance, suddenly be talking about the "Right of the Government" to have a militia? It doesn't make sense. If you really, honest-to-goodness want to understand the Second Amendment, and what its authors meant given the meaning of of key words/phrases (like "well-regulated" and "militia"), I urge you to check out, and read with an open mind (which is, after all, what liberalism is supposed to be, right...RIGHT?)

O.K. thought experiment:

O.K. thought experiment: Gun-free zones. Law abiding people will obey that dictum. The Aurora shooting location was chosen specifically because it had signs prohibiting firearms. Fish in a barrel. He didn't have to worry about anybody shooting back at him. Those with criminal intent care not about laws. Washington DC for all intents is a gun-free zone, yet it is always one of the top-tier murder cities. All gun-free zones do is insure that those intent on malice and mayhem can do so undisturbed

Folks...the 2nd Amendment has

Folks...the 2nd Amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting.

Nemo..... you wrote

Nemo..... you wrote this.....

"......the 2nd Amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting."........

Quite right. But it also had nothing to do with turning guns on the government. The government was rightfully suspicious of standing Armies. They were a prelude to a coup de'tat. Hence the "Militia" part of the 2nd Amendment. It was the militias that would be called on by the Federal government to defend the borders. It is what we call the National Guard today.

There is also the recharter that is required every two years for the Army Not the Air Force or the Navy... just the Army. The founders almost certainly did reckon that the guns might come to be pointed at them. Again it was the militias that what suppress insurrection. The Civil War changed much of that as regards the Federal government and the maintenance of a standing Army But the down side is that the possibility of an armed insurrection AGAINST the government succeeding became far more remote.... Which brings us to today. There will be no ARMED revolts against the government that can succeed. We may see more incidents like Dorner or the SLA or the Branch Davidians, but they will all end in similar fashion.

Any thinking that armed insurrection is sensible or practical has ceded the moral high ground before they even step up to bat. I've got no bitch with owning guns. I just think that the "fending off tyranny" argument is disingenuous and pure myth ginned up by orgs like the NRA in their campaign to boost gun sales...... and it works.

"A well regulated militia"

"A well regulated militia" had nothing to do with the National Guard when the Bill of Rights was drafted. "Well regulated" meant "well trained," and "militia" meant "the whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service."

They were more than suspicious of standing armies; they saw them as instruments of tyranny. It's hard to disagree with that, given the role of the US military in the past fifty years, as invaders without congressional approval.

So imagine the US as a country without a standing army, one in which every able-bodied citizen was prepared to defend the country and its Constitution. There was a time when this could have been accomplished with muskets, but that was a long time ago.

Anyone who spends any time reading the history of the Bill of Rights will agree that the intent of the Second Amendment was to prevent the government from disarming the People.

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