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Guns under the turkey?

Justin Webb | 22:56 UK time, Monday, 26 November 2007

Did I feel safer at Thanksgiving or less safe? You see, I spent the day in the Commonwealth of Virginia - just across the Potomac river, but light years from Washington DC in one particular respect. In Virginia I was in a home where the owner could carry a concealed weapon. In DC - even in my own home/castle - I cannot.

I am not sure whether my host exercises his right under Virginia law (the issue didn't come up over the turkey) but he has the option and I do not. But change is in the air and it's a change the Democrats might well view with trepidation.

There is so much else going on - at home and abroad - that the Supreme Court's decision to hear its first gun rights case for a generation has somehow slipped under the radar. But is gun control a new "wedge issue" about to replace abortion in its ability to damage the Democrats and rally Republicans?

US Supreme CourtThe case the Court is hearing is an appeal by the government of the District of Columbia (that's Washington DC, the nation's capital) against a lower court decision chucking out the city's ban on handguns. The second amendment of the US Constitution plainly gives individuals a right to bear arms.

Or does it?

That is the question before the Supreme Court and it is a pretty fundamental one. The justices will think about it next spring and decide by the summer. Whichever way the court rules it is likely to be a big deal and a big deal coming just months before the 2008 presidential poll, a poll in which Democrats would like to carry on the progress they made in the 2006 mid-terms in capturing rural conservative voters who are very keen on their weapons.

Might the Democrats be forced on to the defensive? Or is the fact that the police in DC are among those campaigning to keep the ban rather helpful to those Democrats who might want to make the case to the nation that sensible gun laws enforce people's fundamental rights to stay alive? What does Hillary (to pick a name at random) think the court should do?

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:43 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Kristin wrote:

Hello,
I am a 27-year-old American. By the time I was 25 I personally knew four people who had been killed by handguns. Given the circumstances of their murders, I am confident that these four people would not have died when they did without the availability of guns. I am aware that people are able to kill people without handguns, but such weapons certainly make killing much easier.

I have no problem with people using guns to hunt; this method of accessing meat is, in my opinion, more humane than the factory farming upon which we Americans are so dependent.

However, I do not agree with those who keep guns in their homes to protect themselves and their families. Research has proven that having guns in the home can actually raise the risk of homicide and suicide within a family.

I'm not sure what the answer is, although I would personally like to see a handgun ban.

  • 2.
  • At 11:57 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

"sensible gun laws enforce people's fundamental rights to stay alive?:

Ha! Last time I checked it was less safe in DC with their gun laws than it was in Virginia with gun freedom. I highly doubt those 'conservative voters' keen on their weapons feel unsafe with them. If someone breaks into my house, it feels good knowing my gun is right beneath my mattress.

PS- Can someone tell me how we can keep guns out of this country when we can't keep millions of illegal immigrants (not to mention cocain) out? You Europeans with your borders upon borders seem to forget we just have two.

  • 3.
  • At 03:49 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Dennis Turner wrote:

It should be the fundamental right for everyone, in all countries, to be able to protect oneself and their families. Police cannot do the job on their own. The bad guys are going to carry guns and knives regardless of what the law says.By governments outlawing the possession of weapons to law abiding citizens they effectively leave people to be like "lambs to the slaughter".You always hear about the bad things regarding guns, but never hear about all the times that having one has saved the lives of meny people.

  • 4.
  • At 04:36 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Joffre Williams wrote:

The Democrats will benefit if the U.S. Supreme Court affirms an individual right to arms. It will release them mercifully from an issue that has foiled their grasp on power so many times.

I live in Kennesaw, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta. It is one of the few cities in the U.S. that REQUIRES heads of household to maintain arms and ammunition.

It is a quiet, lovely town, and I never find it necessary to bear the arms I keep -- unless I leave it's boundaries.

  • 5.
  • At 10:53 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • clare wrote:

I am glad to see the court finally taking this case. With the conservative lean the court presently has, I do not expect them to uphold the ban...but I sure do wish they would. The constitution gives the right to bear arms to a MILITIA not to the common people. We are so afraid of losing an ounce of 'freedom' that we do not see the danger it has caused our country. Sure, guns are only as dangerous as the people holding them BUT having a gun makes it a lot easier to kill. We should have learned enough by now, watching as the children of this country kill and maim one another that handguns are not a positive.
I am from the country- so I will give the farmers their shotguns. It was very important in my family to not have guns because my father was almost killed in a hunting accident. It was an accident but to consider the fact that it would never had happened had the person not had a gun in the first place...this is the logic we need to start applying. Gun laws are about prevention not restriction.

  • 6.
  • At 10:58 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

I guess even the Republicans realize that if they try to scare conservative voters with gay marriage for a third time, people will catch on it's a diversionary tactic.

I grew up in rural Georgia on a farm with guns, but my family was extremely careful and responsible with their firearms and passed on that common sense knowledge. And NO ONE needs an automatic assault rifle for hunting or anything else domestic.

Far too many ignorant, angry, poorly trained people have access to guns. As helpful, and at times necessary, as guns were on our farm, I would rather see more restrictive laws in place.

  • 7.
  • At 11:02 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Alexander wrote:

What do the Americans think about changing the constitution? I'm not talking specifically about this case, just in general...

Suppose an elected party believed that the second amendment was wrong in the context of a modern society. Would they be able to change it? What kind of majority would they need to do so, and what would be the reaction of the public?

  • 8.
  • At 11:03 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

This is yet another case where the constitution was badly written. My reading of the 'right to bear arms' is that it guarantees the right to self defence of ones home or nation (Something sadly lacking in the UK). It wasn't intended to give you the right to stockpile artillery or to roam the streets with an AK47 under your coat.

Maybe the founding fathers should have a decent solicitor draft up the constitution?

  • 9.
  • At 11:09 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John K wrote:

Justin

The second amendment of the US Constitution does NOT, despite what the NRA says, give US citizens the unequivocal "right" to carry guns.

Its exact wording is:-

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

Note it says arms (weapons) not firearms, and puts this right in the context of the need for a well regulated militia - which the USA nowadays clearly has through other means than that of individuals providing personal resources to such a force, which is presumably what the framers of the Constition meant.

And the choice of the word "infringed" is important. It does not say constrained or circumscribed. "Infringed" has a legal meaning which allows the state to place controls or limits on this right: otherwise any US citizen would have the right to keep and bear nuclear weapons, grenade launchers etc.

  • 10.
  • At 11:30 AM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John Kecsmar wrote:

Americans love their guns, they love to cite the constitution for their right to bare arms. A gun in one hand is like a chop stick in the hand of an asian.
The majority of Americans appear to want their troops home from Iraq, yet draw no parallels with their troops using guns overseas.
The rest of the world has no love affair with guns, but the Americans do. Americans love to use guns whether at home or in someone else's back yard.
If they ban the gun, they will effectively ban their own right to wage war on others when the see fit. Just as their own citizens do on each other, for no apparant reason.....

  • 11.
  • At 12:02 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Giles wrote:

Cases like the one in the link below show that the ban needs to be extended:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7114838.stm


Of course, the gun lobby groups would convince you that you just need a bigger gun than the bad guys have.

  • 12.
  • At 12:17 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Simon Staniland wrote:

I find the issue of Gun control in the US very interesting.

Having spent some time in the states with families who enjoy their firearms gave me an interesting insight.

The right to bear arms does not excist. It states that citizens may bear arm in an organised malitia, the US army and the National guard make the need for a militia non excistant. The right to bear arms is something that only the state should have.

People will come back and say to me on this point that in all cases where a government has sought to subjicate its citizens and remove civil libertise their first step has been to remove the individuals right to bear arms. People will argue that it is the resposibility of the public to bear arms in case they must fight against a corrupt and unjust government.

Well as a subject of HM and without the right to bear any manner of weapons I feel that there are enough checks in place to safeguard my freedoms without the need for a violent uprising.

I have the power of reason and the oppurtunity to use it through discussion, at no stage do I need a gun to back that arguement up.

  • 13.
  • At 12:28 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

"The right to bear arms" is, of course, the world's most unfortunate spelling mistake. When they wrote the American Constitution, they just wanted to be able to wear short-sleeved shirts should they choose to do so. If only they'd spelt it "bare arms", all would have been well.

  • 14.
  • At 12:41 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • sandy wrote:

we cannot afford a gun ban...
when we are young we can practise with our gun at home..when i grow older i can go on war...with the next coutnry....it will save a lot of money of our army for training me...and i will be better prepared to attack country for annexation

  • 15.
  • At 12:46 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Paul D wrote:

As a Brit, I have long harboured a fondness for the idea that, given the choice between the freedom to walk the streets in relative safety and the right to bear arms, the former is infinitely greater. However, recent events have caused me to rethink. In Finland, where gun laws are very liberal, gun crime is actually very rare (hence the publicity over the recent school shootings), yet in Britain, despite very strict laws, gun crime is quite commonplace.

I am coming round to the idea that this is a cultural rather than a legal or moral question. If this is the case, then traceability becomes the dominant question. Since all handguns are illegal in Britain, none are registered and all virtually untraceable. Perhaps, after all, it is Britain that has something to learn from the States, not the other way round.

The one thing that is clear is that it should not become a political football. We all want to be safer and this will not be achieved by politicians jumping onto the vote-catching band wagon in the US, the UK or anywhere else for that matter.

  • 16.
  • At 12:54 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Sue wrote:

#7: changing the Constitution requires a resolution voted on by both the House and the Senate and passed with a 2/3rds vote; also, 3/4s of the 50 state legislatures have to ratify the resolution in their own votes; and the process cannot take longer than 7 years or it expires and has to be started all over again.

Gun control is okay; bans are not. There are millions of guns in this country and they are not going to go away. There are millions of people who consider the right to bear arms (which does mean guns; the Founders weren't talking about bows and arrows) a fundamental right of self-defense. A gun ban is unconstitutional and will cause massive civil disobedience. Every freedom, including freedom of speech, can be abused and have deadly consequences for others. Does that mean we ban everything that might be dangerous?

Politically, there is a perception that most handgun deaths take place among criminals. If you don't use or deal drugs and don't live with anyone who does, your chances of being shot are remote.

  • 17.
  • At 12:56 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

Isn't murder already illegal? Somebody bent on murder is not going to follow the laws anyway. Why prevent the law abiding from owning guns when the criminal is going to have the gun anyway?

Why? It's about power and emotions. People who want power prey on the emotions of those weak minded people who hate inanimate objects -- guns -- and cannot make the logical connection between honest, armed citizens and their own safety. They fear guns and anybody without guns. It's irrational and counter to reality. Why do some approve of armed police who must obey the government but disapprove of armed citizens with a desire only to protect their lives and the lives of others?

  • 18.
  • At 12:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ismael wrote:

A burglar breaks in your house. You don't have a gun. You lose your tv set.

A burglar breaks in your house, you do have a gun and use it. Either the burglar, you or both die. Because of a tv set.

I've lived in the "third world" most of my life (which is supposed to be much more dangerous than developed countries) and I have never seen the need for a gun. I was mugged on the street once and lost my bike. Would anything have been better if I had a gun? Of course not! Passing the right to bear guns as "freedom" is rubbish. Admit it! You just like your guns as children like their toys!

  • 19.
  • At 01:04 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Two things:

1) totally agree that there can be no reason to allow assault rifles.

2) IF people are allowed to have handguns, they should have to be vetted & trained to prevent lunatics and idiots being legally allowed to have them.

This might prevent the accidental shooting incidents.

Virginia law does not give us the right to carry a concealed weapon. We have to apply for a permit to do that, get fingerprinted, take a gun safety course, etc. That is the case in most places in the United States, with few exceptions, like D.C., New York City and Chicago, although some states make it harder than others to obtain the permit. What the law does allow is for the citizens of the Commonwealth to carry a holstered weapon in public in plain sight (open-carry), anywhere in the state, including urban areas, with a few restrictions, such as in and around schools, inside airport terminals, and such.

As you may have noticed, few people in Virginia excercise that right, and it should be noted that the headquarters of the National Rifle Association is in Northern Virginia, and so the gun lobby here is more than strong. In 2006, 17.1% (totaling 1,735) of all aggravated assaults in the Commonwealth (which has just over 7 million inhabitants) were committed using a firearm. There were 398 murders in 2006, 243 of which were committed using a firearm. (Source: Virginia State Police 2006 statistics). Your home town, Washington, D.C., with 589,000 inhabitants, had 169 murders all by itself, in that same year. It is a low percentage in comparison with other East Coast states - in the past this has been partially attributed to the large number of armed citizens in the Commonwealth. There were some 72,730 concealed carry permits in Virginia in 2006.

  • 21.
  • At 02:11 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Tom Rutherford wrote:

Re #7 - the Constitution can be amended only with the agreement of 2/3 of each house of Congress, and 3/4 of the state legislatures. As the second amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, any constitutional amendment to repeal it would be subject to attack not only on the merits, but also on the "slippery slope" argument that repealing this would make it easier for future governments to repeal some of the more fundamental freedoms (freedom of speech/trial by jury) contained in the Bill of Rights.

  • 22.
  • At 02:23 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Rick McDaniel wrote:

The court has little option but to uphold the lower court ruling, in that the US constitution provides for the right to bear arms, to all citizens not convicted of crimes, and a decision to the contrary would be a violation of the constitution itself, and would precipitate a governmental crisis.

The fact that the District of Columbia is not a state, does not bear upon that decision.

  • 23.
  • At 02:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jason Young wrote:

Gun laws do not reduce violent crime. Also as Europe reduces the number of borders that contraband has to cross the number of gun crimes there will increase due to the lack of border control and the ease with which these products will be able to be transported and sold through the black market economy.

Here in the US the states with the lowest crime and murder rates are right-to-carry states and those with the most liberal gun laws.

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=4706

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st176/s176c.html

Also you guys across the pond might what to take a look at violence in your own society before pointing fingers this way.

http://www.reason.com/news/show/28582.html

Further more, most of our violent crime in the USA is linked to drug prohibition (a.k.a. the War on Drugs).

http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=13

This link shows murder rates during alcohol prohibition and now drug prohibition:

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/crime.htm

The solution is not to take even more of our freedoms, that we lose by the day, away but to change our failing policies with regards to drugs to begin with and to recognize that guns only kill people due to the fact that someone aimed and pulled the trigger on that gun.

  • 24.
  • At 03:06 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Carl wrote:

Alexander
The Constitution of the United States may be amended. I know of no precedent for changing the fundamental document except through this means.
The first set of 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, actually contains the one under debate, Amendment 2. The Bill of Rights was a necessary compromise and set of additions for the various colonies/states involved in its signing and part of a resolution of the larger Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate of that era.
The provision for amendment lies in the Constitution itself in Article 5.

  • 25.
  • At 03:12 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ben J. wrote:

I live in the inner city of Richmond (the capital of Virginia), and I own a gun owing to the high crime rate. I know that several of my friends own them too. I'm not particularly happy to have to own one and would like to get rid of it. But maybe you have to have your door kicked in while you're sitting in your living room... a few weeks after a family of four had their throats slit in the basement by robbers... to understand why one would feel the need to have a handgun.

  • 26.
  • At 03:38 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Andrew Cline wrote:

It will be interesting to see how SCOTUS rules on this matter and how broad they make this decision. I'd wager that even if they do side with the lower court, which is likely, they'll establish a narrow decision that only applies to federal land. The whole relationship between the 14th and 2nd Amendment still hasn't been fleshed out. On the practical side of things I am a full supporter of the right to bear arms. They afford the individual the right to protect his person and his home, and deter would be attacks. Washington D.C. has some of the strictest gun control laws and it has one of the highest murder rates in the US; if there was ever an example of how gun control does not work it's Washington D.C. And on a side note, as far as suicides and accidents are concerned, if folks want to kill themselves then they ought to have every right to do so. And as far as accidents are concerned; quite a few kids are killed by cars or in swimming pools and you don't see a move to ban them. Guns are a tool; they can be used for hunting, target practice, or self defense. Gun control is both a violation of our rights and a bad idea on pragmatic grounds.

There is another reason for the right to bear arms that goes beyond personal protection, and it's one that Americans get a bit of ridicule for; the use of firearms as the last line of defense against a potentially oppressive government. Folks might scoff at this, but if you consider Europe only a little over 60 years ago, and other parts of the world today this concern does not seem so delusional or paranoid. As Thomas Jefferson said; "When people are afraid of government there is tyranny. When the government is afraid of the people there is liberty."


If one reads the 2nd Amendmet in conjunction with writings by various Founders, early state legislatures, editorial columns of the day, and other surrounding material one sees that the this collective rights theory simply does not hold up. The right of states to create state militias falls under the Reserved Powers Clause, 9th Amendment I believe, which states that all powers not expressly given the federal government, nor expressly denied to the states, are hereby reserved to the states. The US Constitution does not deny states the right to create militias so the 9th Amendment covers this perfectly. The 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment, which basically says that just because a right isn't specifically mentioned in the US Constitution doesn't mean that US citizens don't possess that right, as well as previously mentioned external primary sources would seem to indicate the right to bear arms as a personal right. There is nothing other than wishful thinking and the applicatio of extremely dodgy semantics to support the right to bear arms as a collective right.

  • 27.
  • At 03:49 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Grace wrote:

What you need to realize about gun control is that in the U.S. it is irrelevant.

Look up statistics on gun crimes committed with legal guns, and those committed with ILLEGAL guns.

Illegal doesn't just mean you can't legally purchase them, the vast majority(the last study i saw put it somwhere around 90%) of the murders commited with guns were done so with unregistered firearms... IE ILLEGAL guns....

how does banning handguns change that

  • 28.
  • At 04:06 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Phillip wrote:

I agree with what I have read and I disagree as well.

I agree that the Constitution does allow for a militia (which is now the National Guard) and that we are allowed to keep arms. I agree that no one needs an automatic rifle/handgun. I agree that too many ignorant and uneducated persons are buying guns and that they, mistakenly, believe that a few hours on the gun range or a couple of classes bestows some high knowledge upon them.

I disagree with people who say that we should not be able to keep any arm that we chose except those listed above.

If you are going to own an arm, then this should be followed with strict standards of training and retraining. Here is why. If our standing militia is gone, like say to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, then who is here to defend our borders? The police, FBI, US Marshall, Boarder Guards?

Americans are the people that made this country great by not backing down. If someone comes into our backyard without permission we ask them to leave, sometimes at the point of a rifle.

  • 29.
  • At 04:14 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Nomad wrote:

Let's remember that the MILITIA refered to in the second amendment provided their own personal weapon when they were called upon. I think this alone demonstrates that this right belongs to the individual!

The quotation below also goes a long way toward demonstrating the intent of those who framed our constitution.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin 1759

  • 30.
  • At 04:41 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • kimberly wrote:

I am a 42 year old American. I had a good friend kill herself with her fathers gun, it was doubly horrible because she was also pregnant. I do not think she [and her unborn child] would be dead today if it were not for having a gun in the home. I am afraid to send my son to someone's house w/o asking if they have guns in the home. I do not like them and I wish that they would be regulated heavily so that the only reason to have one is for hunting. Concealed guns are very scary, you never know who may flip out and start shooting.....

  • 31.
  • At 04:47 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Mike G wrote:

I live in Toronto Canada. Many residents here including our politicians, believe that most of our gun problems are caused by our proximity to the states and it's lax gun laws.

Simply comparing the gun crime statistics between Canada and the states surely helps prove this:

http://www.guncontrol.ca/Content/Cda-US.htm

Too bad the money spent on guns isn't spent on solving the underlying social and economic issues that lead to crime.

  • 32.
  • At 05:03 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Brent wrote:

Remember, under no circumstances are the police of any given area required to protect just one person. If the needs of the many in a given situation out weigh the needs of the few, they will not be coming to help you. This has been proven, ironically, by the D.C. police. A woman and housemates were attacked and brutally raped, they called 911, the police never showed up, and they ended up suing the D.C. police. In court, it was decided that the police have the duty to protect and serve the community, not an individual. It seems in D.C., the police not only take away your right to protect yourself, but also give you no guarantee that they will either.
I say you can have my gun, but only from my COLD DEAD HANDS.

  • 33.
  • At 05:04 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Sandin wrote:

I grew up in rural northern Wisconsin, and virtually every family I knew owned at least two guns, and several owned upwards of a dozen. However, there was no gun-related violence. How does that fit into the "guns cause violence" argument? In my apparently rural sub-culture, firearms are not regarded so much as weapons, but more as tools that you need for routine chores in the country. How is taking my guns going to help anyone in Chicago gang violence? I don't get it. Such is the case with legislation that fails to actually address the real problem.

  • 34.
  • At 05:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

"When seconds count, the police will be there in minutes."
I read that somewhere, but its true. Whatever your position on gun control, the fact is there are plenty of guns around, and most criminals who own guns do not own them legally. A legally armed citizen can defend his/her life.
In most cases an individual with a permit to carry concealed has undergone training, background checks and exams, and I see nothing wrong with that. There are problems with the unrestricted sale of guns which should be dealt with, but that is no reason to ban guns.
The county I live in has a high number of permit holders, and a low crime rate compared to surrounding areas. Gun ownership was made mandatory in Kennesaw, Georgia, and their crime rates remain low.
Lets use logic and analysis, not emotion and politics.

  • 35.
  • At 05:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Howard wrote:

To refer again to the wording in the constitution, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

This is not a very clear sentence. I don't think any high school teacher would permit it to pass uncorrected. What would that correction be? Perhaps there are teachers who might tell me the sentence upon which this fragment is based.

But of course, it's not the constitution that permits Americans to own and to carry semi-automatic rifles and pistols, it is the agitation of a very vocal minority. It is not a Supreme Court decision that will alter or adjust this permission either. It is the outrage of the majority and the courage of those they elect that will lead to change. One rather doubts that courage will appear any time soon in American politics.

  • 36.
  • At 05:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Edward Peterson wrote:

I hate to shatter anyone's idea of what the Second Amendment means, but it is Article Two of the Bill of Rights. These are ten rights guaranteed to the people, not powers granted to the States. Whether you like guns or not, the Second Amendment grants people (you and me) the right to keep and bear arms. Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote the constitution for the Commonwealth of Virginia, cleaned up the language of the Second Amendment to clearly guarantee the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

For those people that I have not enraged yet, here is the next thing I have to say. Laws are words written on paper to establish a code of conduct for a white, middle class society. There is a growing segment of American society that is not white and not middle class, and this segment is ignoring the laws and causing most of the crime. You see, words on paper do not stop crime. Those who commit crimes must be permanently removed from society. I would suggest labor camps in Alaska for convicted felons and flushing illegal aliens out of the United States and back to their own countries.

I grew up in a rural area, and I have owned guns since I was 7 years old. Times have changed, and I would have to be insane to give a 7 year old a gun today. However, I own guns and all my friends own guns and none of us have ever committed a crime with a gun. If guns cause crime, why have we not become criminals?

  • 37.
  • At 05:24 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

First, understand that this statement says "people." The right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms. Remember your history? Remember when England's Red Coats confiscated weapons from the people and the proceeding "revolutionary" war? Part of the reason that this was worded the way that it was and the fore-most reason why it was included was that the people should have the means necessary to over-throw a corrupt government. If you take away this basic right, the government will grow even more corrupt, untrustworthy and shameful than it currently is.

I have grown up with firearms in my home. When I was a boy and in Boy Scouts, we fired .22's and learned basic rifle safety and marksmanship. When I was in the Army, we learned the same, this time with a 5.56. Now that I am a regular citizen, I keep several firearms. I have never shot anyone. I have never even fired a weapon in the direction of someone. I keep my firearms in my home and no one in my home has ever been shot or committed suicide.

In any battle, disarming the opponent is a key tactic to winning, either by cutting off their supply lines or by any other means. Taking away the means of a people to defend themselves is a key way to ensure control and unrivaled power. With the current "regime" in power I am comforted to know that I have the means to defend myself if necessary.

People fear what they do not understand and it seems that there are many people who fear firearms or what they are capable of. Your friends that were murdered, you have my condolences, but men killed them. Do you fear men? Why aren't all men locked up and banned?

And for the record: why are so many Euros and Brits concerned with our gun laws in the US? Is it jealousy that as a private citizen I CAN own a small arsenal? Is it fear that should a systematic breakdown occur that I can properly defend myself against any oppressors (or at least attempt)?

When the Germans attempted to destroy one of the Jewish ghettos during WW2 there was a small uprising of boys and men armed with small arms. They held the Germans back for only a couple of days before most were gunned down. One of the survivors was quoted as saying that the only thing he wished he had during that fight was a submachinegun.

For those of you from a different country, try living in Detroit for a year and tell me if you would consider buying a firearm for defense. Try living in East LA, South Phoenix, Dallas or Atlanta. Sure there are people that live there everyday without firearms, and there are people that die there everyday that could have been saved by them.

The right to bear arms wasn't put into place so that we could hunt. That was pretty much a given at the time of the constitutions inception. The right to bear arms is based on the conception that in case of invasion or an oppressive government we can defend ourselves. This obviously includes handguns. If the Constitution needs to be changed, then so be it, but don't try to subvert it.

  • 39.
  • At 06:03 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • R. Slocum wrote:

Depending on the Supreme Court's decision, gun-control could be used as an issue to rally the Republican base. If the Court decides that the ban is unconstitutional, then there'll be little effect on the 08 election. It would be unlikely that this Court would uphold the ban. However, if they do and this becomes an election year issue, only to over-turned by a different-but-similar case, then I will be very suspicious our judicial system.

  • 40.
  • At 06:16 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

When the police have become so numerous that criminals are deterred from committing crimes against people, when our policticians can be trusted to pay more attention to the rights of the victims and the welfare of the public in general than doing whatever they need to be relected, when everyone is concerned and reports criminal behavior rather than not wanting to be involved...sorry, flash back to San Francisco in the 60's... There are bad people out there, who do not think twice about hurting the law abiding, unarmed citizen and there are not enough law enforcement personnel, or court staff, or prisons to handle them. As to the comment about " a well regulated militia", a militia is composed of law abiding citizens who are willing to guard their homes, and by extension their country. While the people of England may be satisfied with their Government having that much say in their daily lifes, in America, we aren't... which is why we had that little disagreement called the Revolionary War, I don't know what the English call it.

  • 41.
  • At 06:46 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

In response to John K.
My apologises for the lack of continutity in this.


From Merriam-Webster online,
3rd Definiation part A

Arm - a means (as a weapon) of offense or defense; especially : firearm

Since the only effective personal weapons of war have been guns since before the Revolution, I think that the 2nd must speak to and of guns.

As for it being in context with the Milita, we do not have a citizen milita. We have a National Gaurd that is run by the DoD as a branch of the appropriate service. It is a force of the Goverment not the people.

If we take as given the intent of the Founders to protect the people from their goverment, it stands that they wanted the people to be armed and ready if came down to cases.

This is why it's the second amendment. 1st - here's what your rights are, 2nd - here's what you do when they those in power say you can't have them anymore.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Mr. Franklin

Gun tragedy is caused by poor parenting, poor education and disrepect of the weapon.

Guns are for killing.

They are not toys, they are not for scaring away people, they are for killing something to eat, and killing the dumb SOB that dares break the peace of your home.

Alexander: Read up on the 18th amendment on how a minor political group can change the Constitution. It's very hard but can be done. Basically it requires a 2/3 super majority in both houses and the states.

IMO - the 18th was the one of the dumbest things this country has done. See 21st amendment.

  • 42.
  • At 06:54 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Luke Fochler wrote:

It is all very well to question the wisdom of keeping firearms within easy reach of children or those unfamiliar with them, but it is an entirely different thing to propose abolishing ones ability to effectively defend ones home. I believe the government is within its right to restrict ownership of handguns or assault rifles, but I do not feel that the abolition of private ownership of firearms in general is a noble (or wise) aim.

  • 43.
  • At 07:21 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • George Burrett wrote:

Why can't the Supreme Court make the distinction between handguns and long guns (and machine guns, which have a much faster rate of fire than semi-automatics, all of which were not around at the time of passage of the second amendment) and make everyone happy?

  • 44.
  • At 07:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Patti wrote:

I guess I have a couple of comments. I have been a hunter and marksmans for over 20 years. I will NOT turn over my means of defense. If that makes me a criminal, then so be it.

My second comment is: does no one remember Prohibition? We outlawed alcohol but it didn't make that go away either.

What needs to happen is for gun manufacturers to create smarter guns - don't ask me how, but there must be some brain out there who could figure out a way to keep bad people from killing good people without the rest of us having to do without protection.

  • 45.
  • At 07:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • garvin wrote:

The FBI report of crime has shown that states and areas that allow their citizens to carry firearms have lower rates of murder and violence from firearms

Harvard backs it up to http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

Studies like this show that the bans need to end.

Has for the statement that the Constitution only allows for the milita to have the right of firearms, check the sentence and learn some history.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The right of the people to keep and bare arms. Not the right of the militia, not the right of the state, the right of the people.

I'm sure that if the framers had meant for this to only apply to professional paramilitary forces they wouldn't have used the words "the people."

Furthermore at the time of the drafting of the Bill of Rights, militia was a term given to private citizens who served in times of emergency and kept their guns at home!

  • 46.
  • At 08:26 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Alexander wrote: What do the Americans think about changing the constitution? I'm not talking specifically about this case, just in general...

Article Five of the Constitution states how to amend the Constitution. The Constitution has had only 27 amendments in over 200 years, so I don't think there is an issue with the Constitution. To spare you the civics lesson, I recommend looking it up online, like Wikipedia.

Whatever the decision is on the 2nd Amendment, I doubt it will play a big roll in the Presidential Election. It is a topic that is too political, even for the canidates, and they will skirt around the topic every time the media ask it.

  • 47.
  • At 10:20 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Noah Webster wrote:

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.

  • 48.
  • At 10:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Woodrow wrote:

"The constitution gives the right to bear arms to a MILITIA not to the common people."

Thanks to the Militia Act of 1792, as amended by later acts of Congress, all able-bodied adult male citizens of the United States are part of the militia. You lose, thanks for playing.

  • 49.
  • At 10:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Woodrow wrote:

Kimberly: "I am a 42 year old American. I had a good friend kill herself with her fathers gun, it was doubly horrible because she was also pregnant. I do not think she [and her unborn child] would be dead today if it were not for having a gun in the home."

Then you are not thinking. If she was bent on suicide, there are many, many other ways she could have killed herself, and several of them were certainly readily available. She would simply have poisoned herself, overdosed on some form of medication, stabbed herself, hung herself, electrocution, jumping from the roof, or any number of other things. I'm sorry to say, your friend would be just as dead. The gun did not cause her to want to kill herself; it was simply the instrument she chose.

  • 50.
  • At 11:17 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • aidan wrote:

why would you need a legal right to allow you to use force against the powers that be? if you are going to have a revolution, surely the paper work is not going to get in the way.....

  • 51.
  • At 11:52 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Garrett Wollman wrote:

Under our legal system, there are no absolute rights. Even ignoring the vague and fractured wording of the Second Amendment, it is extremely unlikely that a majority of the Supreme Court would decide to make firearm possession the first absolute right ever recognized. So the decision will likely come down to the usual sorts of things the Court considers in questions of purported Constitutional rights:

1) Standing: do the parties actually have a legitimate cause of action to bring this case? Let's assume for the moment that they do, because if they don't, then the case is over and no decision will be made on the merits.

2) To whom is the qualified right given? The Court will have to analyze the text and history of the Second Amendment, and my guess is that they are unlikely to agree unanimously. Let's assume that a majority (probably Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Alito) determines that it is an individual right, and that the confusingly-worded introduction to the Second Amendment is an explanation rather than a qualification.

3) What level of review is required for this right. Much of the historic precedent on Second Amendment issues antedates the Court's current system of "rational basis review", "intermediate scrutiny", and "strict scrutiny". Strict scrutiny requires that government regulation be directly related to a "compelling government purpose" and also be the "least restrictive means" to accomplish that end; if a majority of the court elects for strict scrutiny, the D.C. ban falls. If, on the other hand, a majority on the court agreed that the weakest standard, rational-basis review, was the appropriate analysis, then the ban will be upheld.

The Court has never ruled, to my knowledge, on whether the Second Amendment is "incorporated" by the Fourteenth Amendment against the states. Since this case involves the District of Columbia, which is a creature of the Federal government and not a state, it is highly unlikely that the court will decide that question.

Which sorts of regulations can pass muster (no pun intended) will depend on the level of scrutiny adopted by the court. I suspect that even the court's liberals can be persuaded to vote for some individual right of gun ownership, if the court adopts the standard of rational-basis review (under which most if not all existing gun laws would be acceptable). I also expect that, even if Thomas and Scalia write fire-breathing dissents, the ultimate outcome will leave little room for political hay-making, particularly since state gun laws are unlikely to be affected no matter how the Court rules. Any state-gun-law case that might be motivated by the outcome of this decision will not reach the Court until next term at the earliest, which means any decision will not take place before the 2008 general election.

(IANAL)

  • 52.
  • At 11:59 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Garrett Wollman wrote:

It's worth noting, for what it's worth, that gun control is a rural-urban issue, not a Democratic-Republican issue. The Democrats from rural (primarily Southern and Western) states are as likely to be anti-gun-control as the Republicans, and many urban, Eastern Republicans -- like Rudolph Giuliani -- have supported some level of gun control. The political challenge for any national party, of course, is to keep both constituencies happy.

  • 53.
  • At 12:33 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Thomas Bollman wrote:

To me, it says that Because a well regulated militia is necessary, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. In other words, the right to bear arms is necesary for a well regulated militia. We can argue over whether that is true anymore, but that's what the Constitution says, so there ya go

  • 54.
  • At 01:01 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • C Seymour wrote:

The bottom lines on Gun Control are these...

Gun rights supporters believe that there are far more good, decent people than there are bad apples. Because of that they want as many as possible of the good people to be armed. Everywhere that it has been tried, this reduces violent crime.

Leftists and other Collectivists as well as Pacifists live in fear of their fellow citizens. Because of that they want to take away guns from as many people as possible. They also wish for their Parties to control the government. That is so they can use the Police to control the ignorant and unwashed and violent masses of citizens. Anti gun rights people believe that they are an Elite. In fact, they are cowards.

  • 55.
  • At 01:08 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Eric wrote:

As both a liberal and a gun enthusiast, I find myself agreeing with many of the comments on both sides of this argument.

Illegal gun use is a symptom of a bigger problem: a complete lack of moral training as a social norm, i.e., the basic morality that benefits the most people, not that of any particular religious bent. So many parents don't know right from wrong, and consequently neither do their children. Without wider teaching for our kids that theft is wrong, killing is wrong, etc., we leave ourselves wide open for the consequences of that moral vacuum.

I love responsibly and legally owning guns. I get enjoyment from target practice. I treat firearms with the huge respect that they deserve. And I don't mind licensing or exams...after all, a car can be just as deadly. But I'm not the one you have to worry about. Selfishness and ignorance are far worse contributors to crime than guns. Bring back education, a sense of right and wrong, and a focus on the greater good, rather than the individual, in the US and we'll see massive societal improvements.

No small feat, I know...but one aspect of the conversation that we seem to continually overlook.

  • 56.
  • At 04:06 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

Ponder ye this: Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot were all great champions of weapon bans for their respective general populaces.

  • 57.
  • At 04:32 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Travis Mayes wrote:

Unless the second admendment is somehow an exception all the rights in what we call the Bill of rights refer to the rights of individual american citizens. A responsible gun-owner is no less safe than a responsible driver. A person who is out to injure another person will do so somehow regardless of the availablity of hand guns.

  • 58.
  • At 06:11 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • George wrote:

Sir,

Gun Control means "Keep the Sight Steady on the Target".

I vote accordingly.

  • 59.
  • At 10:49 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • John K wrote:

Following up on Jon (#41) I was not saying the 2nd Amendment doesn't allow citizens to own guns. It clearly does. I was addressing the context.

But I can't accept your subsequent argument. Let's look at some history. "Arms" at that time (and indeed now) meant weapons generally, not just firearms. In c.1780 the firearm was not the sole, chief or even necessarily the preferred method of self-defence. Firearms at that time were mostly single-shot, unreliable and very slow to reload. They were excellent military weapons, where there were a group of men fighting another at a distance, but poor self-defence weapons. Swords and knives were better for close-quarter personal defence, once you had got your one shot off.

So whether the 2nd Amendment was meant to cover (a) being part of an organised fighting force, (b) personal self-defence (c) personal defence against the Government or (d) all of these is crucial. I have however never read anything which satisactorily addresses what the framers of the Amendment really meant.

And I notice no-one has dissented from my second point, that "infringed" means the state CAN intervene to regulate what weapons are held, how they are kept, and when it is reasonable to threaten to or actually to use them.

That was all I was saying.

  • 60.
  • At 03:11 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Anyone who thinks the founding fathers of the United States did not intend to have an armed citizenry by writing the second amendment needs a history lesson. I can guaranty every author of the bill of rights and most amendments had a gun in their home, I’ll also go out on a limb and say that all of them would have had a real problem with the government (State or Federal) trying to take that gun away. We (as a country) had just come out of an armed revolution against a tyrannical government (sorry cousin Brit’s, then not now) and our founders knew the importance of a governing body having some amount of fear (yes I said fear) over the citizen’s ability to rise against it. Right or wrong the intent of the second amendment is very clear when looking at it historically, everyone gets to own a gun, period. It’s written, it’s law, and it needs to be followed by our government and fellow citizens. Imagine someone trying to George Washington’s guns away even after he left the state militia……………

  • 61.
  • At 04:49 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • I. Murray wrote:

Comedian Cris Rock said they should just make bullets REALLY expensive. This is still the best course of action I have heard on the matter....

  • 62.
  • At 07:08 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • tom hentges wrote:

Those that claim that the second
amendment refers to guns only
in the hands of the "militia", should
note that wherever the term "the people" appears in the constitution,
(such as the 1st, 2nd and 4th amendments) it refers to in indivdual
right.

  • 63.
  • At 07:50 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Julio Suarez wrote:

We need to stop reacting to firearms emotionally, and react reasonably. It's been proven time and time again that gun bans do not reduce crime rates.

I invite all to research gun bans and crime rates on their own rather than listening to the anti-firearms crowd.


  • 64.
  • At 10:02 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Laura wrote:

The point of the 'militia' mentioned in the second amendment is not to provide an army for the nation, but rather to provide the people a means of protecting themselves from the government. The entire constitution was written with the thought in mind that one day the US government might need to be overthrown, and many of our civil rights are protected based on this entrenched belief. Who wants the only people with guns to be the people in authority? What a scary world that would be.

  • 65.
  • At 12:57 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Stefan Brand wrote:

The rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are not granted by the Constitution, just acknowledged by it. The rights are inalienable, granted by our Creator (whoever you believe that to be).

The 2nd Amendment states, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Although "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" could be the reason this amendment was included, it does not make militia membership a condition for "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." It simply states that this right "shall not be infringed."

"Agriculture, being necessary for well-fed nation, the right of the people to grow their own produce, shall not be infringed." This statement enumerates the right of the people to grow their own food, given that agriculture is necessary for a well-fed nation. However, it does not make the right to grow food dependent on the reason given.

  • 66.
  • At 01:11 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Stefan Brand wrote:

Someone commented that the death of the NFL's Sean Taylor proves that gun bans are needed.

Are you saying that there is no gun crime at all in Britain? What about DC, with a total ban since 1977?

Gun crime happens everywhere, whether or not guns are allowed. Go after the criminals, and leave the law-abiding citizens alone.

- Florida Concealed Weapon License Holder

  • 67.
  • At 02:33 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Jamison wrote:

I am a Texan, while I presently do not own a gun; I defend my right to own one for hunting purposes and for self defense.

Last year, in Corpus Christi, we had an incident, where a man had forced his way into the home of a family, during the day by holding a knife to the throat of the mother. Her son, home sick from school, went into his parent’s bedroom and got is father’s gun. The intruder was verbally threatening to kill this boy’s mother, the child, in his early teens, shot and killed the intruder. He saved his mothers life.

I believe that it is not only my right but my responsibility to defend my home, as a husband and a father. Thus I plan to legally purchase a handgun and acquire a concealed handgun permit. God forbid, the day arrives when an intruder tries to enter my home with the intent to do, the threat to do, or even the possibility to do bodily harm to my family, I will be prepared to put him down like the animal he is. I will not risk my families’ lives or well being waiting for the police to save us.

  • 68.
  • At 03:05 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • pete goswell wrote:

The Banning of Guns, particularly in the U.S. will not solve the problem. What will, is strict regulation.
In order to purchase, and after use in self defense. Mandatory Training by fully qualified firearms instructors is necessary.80% of the instruction should be on legality of use under existing laws. Types of guns: (exception for bonafide collectors), should ban fully automatic & military weaponry.
I had a license to carry, in Texas, after instruction from a retired Texas Ranger, so I know what I'm talking about.

  • 69.
  • At 03:02 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Ed Harris wrote:

In the upcoming US Supreme Court case, the District of Columbia Vs. Heller, I believe that the Court will lean towards re-affirm the right of states to regulate sales of all weapons within their boarders, personal liability, require reasonable firearms training, restrictions of use or movement into designated areas (permitting a broad interpretation of public health and safety) and licensing of ownership of certain classes of weapons.

This will allow states to regulate the sale of weapons, not prohibited
by Congress, but not to make these regulations so restrictive and
arbitrary as to deny all but a small minority of the public from being
able to obtain weapons which are not prohibited by Federal law. States
can impose limited licensing and regulate use and possession on public
property, where clear justification is shown that it is in the best interest of public health and safety, and impose strict liability
principles, criminal penalties where a weapon is used during the
commission of a felony. However, it would be a violation of the 4th and
14th Amendments to the US Constitution to require that all persons register all firearms, other than those over which the Federal
government has been granted by Congress, power to regulate.

Congress can regulate interstate commerce; it has often applied this
power very broadly to cover anything that can be moved across a state
line or across international boundaries, even analog and digital
signals. This includes controlling the sale of certain items, requiring
licensing of the use of certain items considered hazardous to public
health and safety, the establishment of manufacturing and testing
standards and restrictions, the application of taxes designed to cover administration and enforcement of licensing regulations, the regulate the movement of hazardous and dangerous substances and instruments across state lines, and to obtain jurisdiction to prosecute persons for specified criminal activity involving the crossing of state boundaries.

It is most likely that the Court will apply the "reasonable man" principle, which means that any jurisdiction must ask the
question, would a reasonable man obtain this weapon for his/her self
defense, the defense of his/her family, or the defense of a neighbor
from animal attack or the unlawful acts by another person that may
result in serious injury or loss of life. A reasonable man would not be
expected to use an artillery piece, mortar, rocket, nuclear weapon,
grenade, or machine gun as a defense weapon against another human or animal.

  • 70.
  • At 04:54 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Edward Peterson wrote:

Sigmund Freud said, "A fear of weapons is a sign of sexual immaturity." For those of you that fear guns, get some professional help.

  • 71.
  • At 12:15 AM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Shawn wrote:

So if the Second Amendment is a right of the states by way of their own militias then what do the state constitutions say?
http://www.law.ucla.edu/volokh/2amteach/sources.htm

Connecticut: Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

Kentucky: [T]he right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

Massachusetts: The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence.

North Carolina: [T]he people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Pennsylvania: That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination, to, and governed by, the civil power.

Rhode Island: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Tennessee: [T]he freemen of this State have a right to keep and bear arms for their common defence.

See the link for more.

  • 72.
  • At 12:30 AM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • John wrote:

Having lived in both England, and the United States, I have to say that I am far, far more comfortable in the US. Whilst in England (post-ban) I could not drive to work without daily hearing about the pensioner couple who had been bludgeoned to death in their home, after being tied to a chair.

America has its own unique set of problems, but guns really are not one of them. An inadequate education system, yes, but the vast majority of people here, particularly the gun owners, are polite, well spoken, and responsible. Like so many other issues, a few bad apples will spoil the lot. Should automobiles be banned? They kill far more people per year. How about swimming pools?

The US constitution is remarkably clear in its meaning - the issue of a well regulated militia is a subordinate clause, as most educated people would recognise. Unfortunately, the same people who recognise a "Freedom of expression" in the first amendment, fail to recognise with any clarity the actual grammar involved with the second amendment. The writings of the authors of the constitution make this clear; one need only read Jefferson, or Madison to realise that this was an individual right, and an individual responsibility. The real problem is with criminals, who will not obey the law by definition, and those with no responsibility, who will most likely become criminals.

  • 73.
  • At 01:27 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Laura wrote:

Mr.Peterson, why would it be assumed that Alaska should be the site of a labor camp just because it is far off? We have enough prisons as it is. They are simply used incorrectly. As though Alaska wants an extra-large concentration of criminals anymore than anyone else.
I personally do not own a gun, but that does not mean I want to wake up one morning and find that King George's Court has taken the right to decide yet another thing for myself away. And either way, the rest of the world has no right to tell us what to do anymore than we have the right to tell you what to do.

It is a shame that the inanimate objects "guns" are so often referred to as "weapons" - as though that were there primary purpose.

A gun is only a "weapon" when it is used as such. The same is true for a knife, a baseball bat, or any other tool/object that COULD be used to harm someone.

There are over 80,000,000 gun owners in the US with several guns each.

99% of them have never been and will never be pointed at another human being. They are used for target practice, hunting, and recreation.

By definition; if throughout the life of an object, it is NEVER USED as a weapon; should we really refer to it as a "weapon?"

  • 75.
  • At 01:28 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Ratio Tilt wrote:

I want to call upon everyone to get real, at least momentarily.

I hope it would be a cold day in hell before any of these Justices suddenly feel they can make any type of ruling that would redefine the interpretation of the second amendment.

Any justice who thinks otherwise will find they have earned themselves a less reputable in history.

The only thing the Justices should be considering is if it is Constitutionally sound for DC to deny the Constitutional rights of its citizens.

I think we can all agree, Its Not!

The fact that we as Americans feel threatened buy the fact that this issue has been granted review is the less desirable part of this ordeal. Unfortunately acts of Congress are sometimes decided by calls to address the "behavioral problems" of the few while the laws that pass effect the many. It is this part that I find bothersome.

What would we do without these freedoms?

It sickens me to think that my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as my right to speak freely and to defend myself, my family and my property even CAN come under review.

The self evident truth of the matter is that if some half witted Police Chief chooses to issue an order to suspend your "rights" and confiscate your means of defense in the wake of a national emergency, there are those who will execute those orders. (see YouTube)

It is a sorry state of things when you find yourself thinking "I wish there where some language in that old document stating that no such order, executive or otherwise, shall suspend said Liberties".

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO!

The worst of it is not the fact that there are those willing or ignorant enough to issue such orders and those willing and or ignorant enough to execute them. In this lies the danger that there are those who may issue such orders with the purpose of extinguishing forever the sacred American way.

There is danger lies also in the fact that We the People have demonstrated that we are willing to surrender to such orders when We the People as the “end user” are in fact charged by the Constitution to uphold these rights. We have thoroughly illustrated that we are willing to bend and surrender. Power IS a thing to be abused by those who realize that no one will stop them!

  • 76.
  • At 05:38 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Peter Riva wrote:

Justin... I wanted a gun on the farm in upsate NY (rabid racoons and the like were otherwise unstoppable). The only handgun permit I could get was a concealed gun permit. Three visits to the police later (never any safety training) I received the permit, linked to a specific handgun serial number. The permit entitles me to carry this permit ANYWHERE in NY State (not just the farm which was all I wanted it for).
Now that we've moved to New Mexico a concealed gun permit is VERY hard to obtain... however (this being the whacky USA) I can own as many handguns I want and have them ANY PUBLIC PLACE in the state as long as they are NOT concealed, open to view, yessiree bob, in a holster in plain sight.
Oh, and still no safety training requaired.
Stop guns? Bad idea. Common law and licensing (ie training beforehand)? Now there's a novel idea.

  • 77.
  • At 09:06 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Joe Fogey wrote:

In England and Wales in 1992 there were 0.46 firearms related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In the United States in 1993 there were 15.22 firearms related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

  • 78.
  • At 10:31 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

I live four miles from the nearest police station, and five miles from the nearest fire-station. We have a fire hydrant and 4000 gallons of water in reserve to fight fires. We also own handguns and dry ammo that we have never fired at or close to home [only in a range], and I pray that we never have to ever use our firearms.

Sure we have electronic security of the highest level, but given that I am surrounded by 4 acres of redwood trees in the SantaCruz mountains, I'll be dead before I get any help.

If anyone attacks me, it is because they targeted me, and with no guns, I'd be dead.

Rob

  • 79.
  • At 11:25 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Charles wrote:

16. You are incorrect 2/3s majority is required from both houses OR the states can do it sepratly, both are not required to pass an amendament

  • 80.
  • At 06:58 AM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Hans wrote:

The "right to bear arms"will now be extended by this Supreme Court and will include small tactical nuclear weapons and suitcase bombs. After all, why limit it to semi automatic weapons?

  • 81.
  • At 12:24 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • dan funk wrote:

Having been raised in a house that kept guns and never even considering taking one out of the house,or useing one with-out permission,I have an honest question for those whom propose a ban on them; If we ban the sale and manufacture of hand-guns to make life safer,what do we do with the several million already in peoples hands ? They won't just go away.

  • 82.
  • At 08:08 AM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Henk Vermeulen wrote:

Give everybody a rifle for his/her birthday and within a year, when there are no survivors left, all high school or shopping mall shootings are over.
It reduces also greenhous gas emissions.

  • 83.
  • At 01:16 PM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Sue wrote:

#79: All amendments, no matter how they are proposed (i.e. by congress or by the states), have to be ratified by 3/4 of state legislatures.

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