Tag Archives: 2nd Amendment

Thought for the Day – January 16, 2014

June 2013 – loaded handgun left in movie theater restroom traced to off duty Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detective
January 2014 – loaded handgun found in intersection.  Traced to Zephyrhills cop who’d reported it stolen.
January 2014 – Retired Tampa Police Captain shoots and kills a man in a theatre in an argument over texting DURING the previews.
December 2013 – PA State trooper deemed not mentally stable enough to carry a weapon while off duty, but okay to carry while on duty.
And, so on and so on.

Seems the only logical conclusion here is to disarm the cops.


Put Away Childish Things

Recently I have been having an ongoing discussion wherein I have maintained that one of the most significant differences between liberals and conservatives is that liberals are concerned with protecting the rights of everyone, whereas conservatives are primarily concerned only with protecting their own rights.

Let me be very clear about that, by rephrasing it, since we are talking about a spectrum.  In general, as one moves further along the spectrum from conservative to liberal then one can be expected to become less and less selfish and more concerned with the larger community, as well.  In other words, one grows up, and becomes mature enough to think beyond one’s own bedroom and toys, and capable of being responsible for the larger household and belongings of the family.

Yes, I did, in fact, just compare conservatives to children, because over the years that is precisely what they have shown themselves to be.  There may have been a time when that wasn’t the case.  I am trying to be generous by saying that, but it is not, as a general rule, true any more.

So, let’s look at some examples, shall we?  One of the “most-well known liberal” groups in America is the American Civil Liberties Organization.  What is it that makes this group liberal?  Well, primarily it is that they have consistently fought for the rights of everyone in America.  They have done so without regard to ideology, so long as those rights are within the bounds of the Constitution.  This does mean that they have not always stood as staunch supporters of the status quo.

The ACLU has provided legal counsel in support of students’ rights, minority rights, and marriage rights.  The ACLU has supported the bulwark between church and state.  The ACLU has represented the Ku Klux Klan, the Westboro Baptist Church, National Man Boy Love Association, as well as students and other private individuals.  The thing about the ACLU is that as an organization they consistently stand by their principles and will defend the rights of even those individuals and groups that are most repugnant to the members, if those rights are being violated by representatives of the state.  I personally find all of those groups offensive, and yet, I would also personally stand up for their right to speak.  Of course, I would also counter them, and speak back, because that is what free speech is.

Compare that standard to the American Civil Rights Union.  A group that most of us have probably never heard of.  It was founded in 1998 by a former Reagan lackey official, in response to the ACLU being too liberal.  Its board is stocked with former Reagan officials, and will be until they start to die off.  The ACRU is a conservative activist group that masquerades as a civil rights legal foundation.  A screenshot of their home page taken on 4/14/2013 shows that they are not discussing the court cases which they are working on.  They are not talking about the key civil rights issues that they are fighting for.  No.  They are instead hyping their political activism.  They are entitled to do so, of course.  However, in doing so, they make it clear that they are not a civil rights organization, and further illustrate my point.

What cases have they worked on?  It doesn’t appear they have actually done anything.  They have filed many briefs though.  They’ve filed briefs against the ACA, against marriage equality, and in support of the 2nd amendment in various cases.  They defended the Boy Scouts of America’s right to discriminate against gay troop leaders.  And, so on.

Fallacious Arguments on a Slippery Slope Lead to Foolish Appearances

There are many foolish arguments made every day and in so many contexts. Arguments in the supposedly “reasoned” sense.  Not arguments in the childish, “No, you didn’t. Yes, I did” sense, though we do see plenty of that, as well.

So, for example, we see the “Criminals don’t obey laws” argument against any sort of gun control, and this is supposed to stop the discussion, because there are supposedly enough laws already.  Of course, this is stupid.  The basic fallacy is in the construct itself.  They are criminals because they didn’t obey the laws.  Not vice versa.  This is not a stereotypical chicken verses egg argument.  No, what little validity in it is that once one has started to break some laws it does psychologically become easier to break some others, but this is neither a straight line progression, nor is it a complete break such that all lines are broken.

The old saw that, “There is no honor amongst thieves” is a bunch of hooey that really only serves to make sanctimonious do-gooders feel superior because they are following the laws that they have laid down upon everyone else.  There is actually a great deal of honor among those who would break the laws of the “upper world”.  To live in the “under world” that we have created, requires that one be very honorable, because to be without honor, is often to be dead very quickly.  Particularly if one is floating around anywhere other than the basic get along stream of junkies.  Outside of that, one’s word is more important than in almost any other realm you can imagine in this western world, and the consequence is not just being shunned.  The consequences can be dire.  But, I am straying into the psychology of criminology and the anthropology of the underworld far more than I intended to, and more than is required to make the point.  The point is that, in that world, the ability to count on someone’s word is more frequently literally a matter of life and death, whereas in the “upper world” it is, the vast majority of the time, all talk.

I saw a piece this week that made me think about this again.  It was beautifully written and, yet, all too many people will dismiss it.  A short little piece posted by Andy Borowitz in the New Yorker.  A Letter from Kim Jong-Un pretty wonderfully highlighted another couple stupid arguments being made in this same context.

In the immortal words of my dad, the glorious Kim Jong-il: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”


If you join today, we will waive the initiation fee and send you this bumper sticker: “Nuclear weapons don’t kill people. People kill people who don’t have nuclear weapons.”

My grandfather used to say, “Locks only keep honest people out.”  To some extent that’s true.  However, the other side of that is that it makes it more difficult, and to parody the right-wing’s arguments, “We keep our money locked up, don’t we?”  Gah!

So, what then are the answers?  We need to stop the bullshit arguments.  We need to have a real, adult conversation.  We need to have a multi-dimensional approach.  The real answers are going to start at home.  Start with teaching our children to be responsible, caring, compassionate, human beings that contribute to society rather than just looking at society, the world, and each other in terms of what they can take from it.

In a legal sense though, there are things we can and need to do:

    • Strengthen and enforce the laws which are on the books already.  The so-called gun show loop holes.
    • Require universal background check regardless of how or where the gun is sold.
    • Issue FEDERAL licenses to purchase a gun.  This should probably come in categories, much like a driver’s license.  I would have this run through the Health and Safety, and do whatever reorganization would be required to make that happen.


Roll up your sleeves, put away the toys, and lets do this!

Do you ever get tired of having the same conversations over and over again?  That overwhelming déjà moo striking you like a ton of bricks?  I know I do.  There are legitimate reasons to repeat a conversation.  For example, when there are new conditions, new facts, or if one has new students and needs to teach them.  However, this is so often not the case.  Particularly when the topic and context is our national political scene.

So, we discuss “gun control”, again, and one loud segment screams “You can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands,” as though confiscation is what reasonable people mean when they’re discussing gun control.  Reasonable people start to discuss ways that we could try to keep guns in the hands of responsible, sane people, out of the hands of insane, impulsive people, and from needlessly killing innocents.  And, yes, I suppose that there is likely a small segment who does advocate for the collection and destruction of all of the guns.  Though, honestly, I can’t find them anywhere other than in the ravings of the lunatic right-wing paranoiacs.  We go through this dance every few years, but the truth is that nothing has really changed in regards to guns themselves over the last half-century or so.  There has been some technological improvement in the ammunition and some in the firing rate, but essentially, we are still using the same guns we were using nearly a hundred years ago.  In fact, in some cases, we are literally using the same guns.  So, what has changed?  That is where our real focus needs to be, but as with so many things, we can’t get past the trees to see the forest.

Besides, that would mean looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.  That would mean, that we stop blaming the “schools”, the “government”, “Hollywood”, etc and accept our own personal responsibility in the choices that we have made as individuals, as parents, and as a society.  I am going to come back this in a moment.

It’s not just with guns that we keep having these same discussions, is it?  How many times in the last 15 years or so have we had national conversations about reforming the electoral process or campaign finance reform?  How successful has that been?  Why?  Because the people we send to do the job really have no interest in doing the job, and we, as a society, have not maintained any real interest in achieving a result either.  Think about where you work.  Let’s assume for the sake of discussion, and because I am sure that you are a responsible person, that you diligently work throughout the day, as you should.  When you look around though, I am sure you see a number of your co-workers who are frequently not.  They’re talking to others, taking extra breaks, surfing the internet, filing their nails, etc.  At a larger scale, this is essentially what happens with campaign finance reform, and all of the other things that we send our “leaders” to Washington, state capitals, and even the local county and city halls to change and address.  We send them there, and then there is no real oversight, so they get side-tracked with the perks or games playing.  The few who may care are incapable of accomplishing much because the others are too busy playing.  Until the deadlines approach.  At that point though, now all eyes are on them, and they have to seem to be doing their jobs to the best of their ability.  Which, sadly, they have been all along.

Assault and Sanity

I am an open and proud liberal.  I don’t think that any one would mistake me for anything else.  Sadly though, all too many people who call themselves liberal in this country are actually not.  That’s right, I’m calling you out.  You know who you are.  If you are a whole hearted supporter of Obama and think that he’s just the greatest thing since sliced cheese, then you are not a liberal.  Chances are pretty good you actually fall in the center, possibly center left (but more likely center right) of the political spectrum.  If you were an Obama supporter by default, there is a chance you may be a liberal.  I may or may not know you personally, so I won’t judge you.  I will, however, tell you those facts.

What this means, right now, is that sometimes my views may be shocking to some.  Even to some who consider themselves liberals.  That’s okay.  I suspect that today may be one of those days where some of you learn something you didn’t realize after reading along for the last year, and for those readers who have known me personally, may not have realized before.  This is also a deeply personal topic for me.

NEWS FLASH!  Not all “gun nuts” are conservatives.  Nor are all gun owners.  Nor are all constitutionalists.  Nor even all 2nd Amendment supporters.

Shocking, isn’t it?  You whackos on the right do not have a lock on the guns.  You only have a lock on the ridiculous arguments in relation to them.

My father has a friend who is an environmental attorney.  He is also a hunter, and a liberal.  He and another friend of his have taken such grief from the conservitard hunters that they also know at the hunting shop that they had shirts made up to commemorate their, “Pinko Commie Hunting Club”.

I, honestly, did not want to get involved in this debate this time around, in spite of its importance.  I was really sick of it.  However, I find that it is not something that I am able to sit back and not be involved in.  You see, it is simply too important and the idiots on both sides of this argument are being too stubborn to even listen to each other.  They are each taking the, “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts” position.  I find myself, again, in the “A pox on both your houses” seat.

We’re going to have to draw some distinctions here, in order to make any sense at all.

As a matter of principle I maintain that the 2nd Amendment serves two purposes – first, to provide for individual self-protection and second, to provide for defense against the government.  The former has some merit still, both from a practical and a principled stand point.  (We’ll come back to the pit falls.)  I firmly believe from a principle view that our government should not have access to any weapon that we as individuals do not also have access to.  Yes.  FROM the perspective of principle that does include nuclear weapons.  The principle is, if we as a culture, manifest through our government decide we do not want our individual citizens to have those weapons, then we as as culture manifest through our government should not have them.  (This is the same principle as we should be applying in dealing with our foreign relations, by the way.  If we do not want other nations to have nuclear weapons, then we should not have them.  It is a very, very simple principle.  Honor and integrity matter!)

However, as a practical matter, I have had to rethink this.  I do not like that.  In fact, I despise it.  I hate compromising my principles.  I have realized at various times in my life that I have had to.  Such as when I’ve had to compromise my moral principles and shop at Wal-Mart because the prices were lower, thus sacrificing my moral principles to my economic needs.  And, this is another example.  Having to sacrifice my philosophical principles to the practical needs.  I recognize that the principle I have just outlined, while I do believe it, is impractical at the individual level.  (It should still be practiced at the national level, and would then be de facto practiced at the individual level.)

A pox on both of your houses!

Fear is a powerful motivator.  It is an important evolutionary device.  It helps us, when properly understood, to avoid greater harm and damage to ourselves.  It is the emotional equivalent of pain that, for example, tells us to withdraw our hands from a fire rather than to leave it there and allow it to be burned to a crisp.

However, it is also a dangerous tool that can be used to confuse, mislead, and control people.  It has led to great harm.  In fact, it is likely the single most powerful weapon in the political arsenal, and politicians and other leaders, have been using it for as long as we have had them.  The examples are legion and varied.  Some have used fear to gain power while others used fear to hold on to that power.  Still others used fear for both purposes.

What may be unique about modern Western culture is that we have institutionalized this use of fear to the point that it is not about a particular individual, or even a cabal, gaining and holding power, but rather it is a way of life.  My study of history is not complete enough to know for certain if this is truly a unique development, or if it just another example of history repeating itself.  It could be an interesting historical study, but honestly it doesn’t matter.  It isn’t even just political.  We use this in every aspect of our lives from marketing for our cleaning supplies to teaching to politics and everything in between.

It has gotten far out of hand.  I have touched on this topic before.  It has grown worse over the years, and now instead of being a tool that is used by desperate men, or a tool of last resort, it is commonly used and is a tool of choice by many no matter what their political persuasion, or even their intent.

The events of this week bring this to light again.  Immediately, literally within hours, both sides of the gun control issue were screaming their points into the ether.  Both sides wanted to use the deaths of 12 people, the wounding of 59 others, and the fear (legitimate and otherwise) to build support for their cause.  To those who would use this tragedy to further their political aims, I say, a pox on both of your houses!  I have my opinions on the issue of gun control and the 2nd amendment, and those opinions may surprise some of you.  However, I will expound on that at another time.  It is not germane to this discussion, and I will not engage in that at this time.

This is what actually matters right now regarding this shooting incident, 12 people were killed, 59 were injured, and 1 other is so deranged that he thought this was an acceptable or even right thing to do.  We do not at this point know why he did what he did.  I will not speculate as some have done as to the specifics.  I have seen some try to tie him to the Tea Party and others try to tie him to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  In the absence of fact, people will attempt to assign him to that group that they dislike the most at the moment, as usual.  I will say this though.  I believe that when his motive comes out, we will find that it boils down to fear.

We allowed fear to let the PATRIOT act to be passed after 9/11, which was one of the greatest encroachments on our rights in modern history.  We have allowed fear to justify sending our soldiers around the world to kill innocent men, women and children in other countries in supposed searches for supposed terrorists.  We have allowed fear to justify illegal actions by other countries in killing innocent men, women and children too many times to count.  These are the larger items.

On the smaller scale we allow fear to control our every day lives in so many ways.  Everything from being afraid to look for new, better jobs, to fear of rejection in approaching new people that might be new friends or potential mates.  We have become so controlled by fear that we don’t know how to step up and be confident.  We are afraid of failure.  And, this too is a part of being conservative.  Part of the, “I’ll stick with the tried and true.”  Don’t be afraid to move forward and try new things.  If we fail, at least we tried!

After an emotional event, do not be tempted to allow a greater encroachment on rights than you would otherwise allow with a more rational mind. 

NPR’s Hypothetical Constitutional Convention

This is interesting, and unscientific.

NPR’s Hypothetical Constitutional Convention

One thing I found particularly interesting in reviewing the results is the inherent refutation of the charge made by many on the right that NPR listeners are anti-gun. At the time that I am seeing the results (and it is still live), it is 62% against the hypothetical amendment related to guns. Maybe this will make some small little dent in that article of faith which as with so many, bears no real connection to the facts.

See, here’s the truth.  NPR is part of the mainstream media and for all that you have been told that the media is liberal, it isn’t.  The mainstream media ranges from Ultra-right wing, FOX, to moderate, NPR, with NBC, ABC, MSN, CBS, CNN and all the other mainstream outlets falling lockstep in along on the spectrum.  There is no LIBERAL component to the mainstream media.

This myth actually comes from a single poll done from one news room in the early 80s.  This was then perpetuated throughout the echo chamber, and so many people bought into it, that they started seeing what they wanted to see, and it became part of the effective war that led to the political center being dragged to the right.  But, I digress.  (I will write more on this later.)

The point was, that at the time that I saw the results, and I will check back, the voters on this hypothetical, and again statistically insignificant, poll were not coming out in favor of changing the constitution to restrict gun rights.  Quite the contrary.  They were standing 2-1 in favor of protecting gun ownership.  Even those in the moderate camp are not in favor of taking your guns away, as though they want to pry you away from mommy’s precious nipple.  Many on the actual left will even more solidly support the 2nd amendment.

Not on the basis though of silly arguments like the NRA has made that one needs a fully automatic rifle to hunt deer.  You make that argument, and I’m going to suggest we arm the deer, because you, sir or ma’am, are an idiot.

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