There is no precedent

Continuing the discussion from Why Americans can’t agree on guns:

This is the only country in the entire world where the right to own guns is built into the very foundation of the government and the society. That makes us unique. We started right from the very first with having the recognized right to own guns. For that reason, with us, talking about gun ownership is ALWAYS from the viewpoint of trying to limit or restrict or reduce. That situation is utterly unique in all the world and in all history. In any other country you may want to point to, debate about gun ownership is debate about people forbidden to have them trying to pry permission to own them - permission, NOT right - from the hands of a government and privileged class who didn’t want the common people to have them. No, there is NO commonality between this country and any other when it comes to figuring the impacts of gun policy.

1 Like

Interesting debate. Can you clarify “right from the very first”?


Interesting, never saw it from this point of view. Need to mull this over for a while.

American Exceptionalism?

  1. Not quite “from the first” – it’s an Amendment, albeit an early one.

  2. Not everyone reads the amendment that way, you know.

  3. Experimental evidence in terms of gun injuries per capita suggests that, even if that is how you read it, it may be an experiment that has failed and should be reconsidered.


Also, guns in the late 18th century are not guns today. Plus, the supreme court has ruled that some regulation of gun ownership is constitutional. Plus, the constitution is not a document set in stone–it was meant to be flexible, even if that flexibility can be hard to enact. But it’s there.

Also, Yemen:

Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan have strong guns/weapon cultures, too. We’re really not as unique as you seem to think.


In fact anyone who has actually read the Amendment knows that the word “guns” is absent entirely, the Constitution uses the term “arms.” It’s become conventional wisdom that the Amendment covers all hand-held projectile weapons but that’s entirely a matter of interpretation. Why draw an arbitrary line that includes AR-15s but not flamethrowers or rocket launchers?


Why not expand that to include backpack nukes, as well? Why can’t I have one of those killer jets from Top Gun? How about a drone stocked with missiles? Besides, do you really think that they envisioned the use of flamethrowers and AR-15s?

I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I believe part of the reasoning including arms was about national defense, as well as guaranteeing the use of arms for hunting and the like, which was probably more regularly engaged in then as opposed to now (I’m not saying people don’t hunt, I’m saying it was a far more widespread and necessary activity then as opposed to now). Additionally, the first 10 amendments were included to keep the south in the fold, as they were unhappy about the shift from the Articles to the constitution, but the articles was toothless and did not provide for anyway to fund the fed, among other weaknesses.

Additionally, there are a number of things in the constitution that has substantially changed over time, in part because times changed. At one point the constitution did not explicitly ban slavery. Now it explicitly does. At one point it had senators appointed, now we elect them.

As for why banning more high powered weapon, well, why do you need a flame thrower. Doesn’t having one create a possible danger to the public? Are your rights to bear arms really being infringed by not being able to mow down bambi with an AR-15?


I think you misread my post. That was meant as an argument FOR gun control.

1 Like

And? It was common back then for rich, private citizens to own cannons. Full bore, fuck you and your musket, cannons. They were usually put into service during times of war and used in the Revolution, Civil War, etc. Given this, I don’t think the forefathers would scoff at the modern rifle being too powerful or whatever you are alluding to. Fun fact - black powder muzzle loading cannons are still legal today and don’t require any license.

[quote=“Mindysan33, post:6, topic:14177, full:true”]Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan have strong guns/weapon cultures, too. We’re really not as unique as you seem to think.

You’re seriously going to compare the US to some shit hole third world country? Give me a break. They may have some things in common - but they have way different causes, motivations, and fighting factions leading to gun violence.

Jesus - why go there? It’s like someone saying, “If we legalize weed, why not heroin?” Or “If we legalize gay marriage, what next? Someone wants to marry their dog?” It’s disingenuous at best.

Flamethrowers are legal federally and allowed most states. Get your flame on.[quote=“Mindysan33, post:8, topic:14177”]As for why banning more high powered weapon… Doesn’t having one create a possible danger to the public?

Oh no - a possible danger? Well anything is possible. A friend of mine has this irrational fear of guns. Anytime she sees one, even one on a cop, she is afraid they are going to whip around and shoot her for no reason. I have another friend who is terrified of water and drowning. He won’t let his kids near a pool.

Everyone has some irrational beliefs, and that’s fine. But when you want to take something away from someone because of them, you need to step back and look at the big picture. The low estimate for the number of guns in America is 270,000,000. In 2011 there were 32,163 gun deaths (some justified) in America. This includes suicides and accidents, which I feel should be looked under a different light, but let’s just lump them all together.

So, assuming one gun was used for each death, you are looking at 0.0119122% of all the guns in the US being used to kill someone. Let’s go ahead and add to that number the total number of people who in the US who were injured by firearms in 2011 (justified, intentional and accidental). We get 106,046, which means only 0.039276% of the guns in the US are used to hurt someone.

How can one rationalize that firearms are such a danger to the public, when so few of them actually hurt anyone?

But wait - guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Using a conservative estimate, there are 76,080,000 who own guns in the US (117,290,000 have them in their home). Assuming that each person was killed/injured by one other person (which isn’t the case, as we know that one person may harm multiple people, and in suicides and some accidents they users hurt themselves) you are looking at 1.3938% of the gun owning population have used guns to hurt some one, with .4227% of them using guns to kill someone.

And while some people get very upset around guns, most of us are totally cool with our cars. I would think there are very few people who have an irrational fear of driving (more probably have an even more irrational fear of flying). In 2009 there were 254,212,610 registered passenger vehicles in the US and 33,883 deaths (which would include non-passenger car deaths, like buses or large trucks, and assuming only one person died per car) which means 0.013328% of the cars in the US killed someone. Lets add injury accidents an you have 2,250,883 people injured by 0.8854% of the cars out there.

Oh but wait - cars don’t crash into themselves, people do. In 2010 there were 210,000,000 licensed drivers (so some may be licensed with out a car, and some car owners my drive with out a license) - which means 1.0718% of them hurt someone with their cars in a year, (though only 0.01613% of them managed to kill someone).

So there is my perspective. Both guns and cars are a “possible danger to the public” - but I don’t think either of them are a “rational danger” to the public. I don’t know how one can rationally condemn something when such a small percentage is actually being used to harm people.

If the gun lobby was willing to see guns regulated only to the degree that cars are – registration, testing, licensing, classes of vehicle (some may not be road-legal), owner responsibility for who they permit access, and so on – I for one would be delighted to accept that compromise.

If they continue to insist on all or nothing, I’m going to have to say that “all” is demonstrably not acceptable.


Ah… .fail on my part. My brain is still recovering from comps! :wink:

Except that you only have to get a driver’s license and register your car if you take it on public roads. You can drive an unregistered car with no license on your own property.

1 Like

As technogeek below points out, we regulate cars, so why not guns? What that should look like, I don’t know, but we can’t even talk about it to figure it out. That is not just the fault of the pro-gun side, as the pro-regulation side (and in some cases, pro-banning side) I think has their own prejudices to deal with–including the notion that pro-gun people are all white rednecks who are card carrying members of the KKK. There is a gun culture in African-American communities as well, which Ta-Nehisi Coates has pointed out, not just the stereotypical gang member, but across the south, where there is a strong hunting culture, and in terms of black self-defense, not just along the lines of the Black Panthers, but going way back. The week of the Atlanta Race Riot in 1906, DuBois sat outside his house with a gun on his lap, in order to defend his home and family. Coates pointed out that gun regulation has at times historical been aimed at trying to control African-Americans during segregation. In other words, regulation is a much trickier question than people are willing to admit.

I’m not afraid of guns, but I would feel nervous around an unstable person who had a gun in their hands, as should we all. That is a danger to the public, wouldn’t you say? Of course a gun in and of itself may not be a danger. But a gun in the wrong hands is. I don’t think that is irrational. I would be just as afraid of an irrational person behind the wheel–but we regulate for that.

I’m afraid we’re far more like a 3rd world country than many people would like to admit - given the depth of poverty, the high rates of crime in some areas as a result of the poverty, and the extravagent rich to constrast that with–not to mention the political corruption of both parties. And we are partly responsible for that mess over there. I was addressing his specific point about permissive laws, which both Yemen and Afghanistan (and parts of Pakistan) have–that was what I meant. They also both have strong weapon cultures, as the article pointed out. There is nothing wrong with the vast majority of the people in those countries, I have no quarrel with them and understand that in both places weapons have specific social and cultural roles to play. As such, I have no real issue with their gun culture, given the circumstances in which most people live. Here, I think it’s a trickier question. I understand concerns with government tyranny, but I’m not sure stockpiles of guns will help in that case, given the pure man power at the hands of the government.

Given the level of violence and incidents that one could argue could have been preventable with some degree of regulation, or possible not even around guns, for example having a health care system that functions and helps individuals with severe mental instability (and couple that with not allowing them to have guns, too, perhaps?). Honestly, I’m not saying ban all guns or even any guns, I’m saying let’s at least get to the point where we can talk about regulation without immediately comparing the other guy to hitler. The second admendment doesn’t mean unlimited access to a weapons cache. And the situation from 1800 has changed–it just isn’t the same world it was then.

We can have flamethrowers? Really? That’s crazy! I know what I’m doing this afternoon!!


In principle I’m willing to let people do what they want on their own property, as long as there is zero chance that the gun or the bullets will ever leave the property. The moment they do, the toys should be taken away. And if someone on the property gets hurt, that may still be subject to criminal charges of reckless endangerment and battery and so on unless it is provably self defense, just as now.

Problem is, I don’t know any good way to achieve that “zero chance”. And realistically there are some things you aren’t allowed to do even on your own property. Again, there should be a reasonable compromise we can reach, but that isn’t going to happen as long as people keep talking past each other.

I’ve shot, though I prefer archery. I’ve even shot fully automatic, on a range specifically set up for it, though frankly I wouldn’t be at all unhappy if that had been prevented. I understand the sport. I even understand the defense aspect when there’s a real threat. The problem is the folks buying guns because they’re subclinically paranoid, and the folks who can’t be bothered to take responsibility for their guns. Time was when the NRA was a gun safety lobby and would agree with those positions. No longer; they’ve found that the paranoids donate more.


Actually I’d be happy to argue for the legalization of heroin, because unlike guns heroin is rarely used to murder innocent bystanders. But legalizing weed makes sense even if heroin is kept illegal, so sometimes you take what you can get.

But back to the topic at hand: you’re obviously OK with banning backpack nukes, so it seems we’re all on board with the principle of imposing limits on individuals’ right to bear arms. The only place we differ is exactly where to draw the line between which weapons should be allowed and which should be banned in the interest of public safety.

See? We all have common ground after all, we’re really just fussing over the fine print.


OK -let’s look at these elements and see how we can apply them to guns to reduce gun violence.

registration - The main reason we register cars is to collect fees and taxes from them. I don’t think taxing guns is prudent, and given that it is a “right”, probably not legal. (And we need to ask ourselves, do we REALLY want to impose an inept, frustrating entity like the DMV on a bunch of already angry gun owners ;o)

I have to ask, how exactly will registration reduce gun violence? Would the cost of this massive amount of bureaucracy out weigh the benefits? There are already some areas that require registration of some guns, and I don’t see their numbers much different than neighboring states. DC requires registration of all guns, and they have the worst gun violence in the US.

And finally, people are going to be very hesitant to support registration because of so many cases of it being used for confiscation later down the road.

testing - While I like people to be educated on operating a fire arm, I don’t think it should be required. A gun is MUCH simpler to use than than a car. There are basically 3 rules of gun handling that will keep you safe. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to keep the end with the hole pointed in a safe direction, and your finger off the trigger. I was 10ish when I could safely operate a firearm with out supervision. Most people are in their 20s before they start driving decent.

I also don’t see how testing will reduce gun violence. It may reduce some gun accidents, but how many? Just like car accidents, injury doesn’t usually occur from not knowing how to handle a gun, but from people being careless or general jackassery. The many shit drivers on the road attest to the fact that being capable and knowing how to do something doesn’t mean you do what you should. And again, is the cost of something like this worth the benefits?

licensing - They already have this in many states for concealed carry and in some cases handguns. Again I fail to see how this would help reduce gun violence nor justify the cost of implementing.

classes of vehicle - They already do that: long guns, hand guns, short barreled rifles and shot guns, full automatics, and curios and relics are just a few of the different classes with different laws. Again - how would this reduce gun violence?

Just like the TSA, I don’t think any of those things will effect gun violence, it just makes some people feel safer, rob others of liberties, and become a huge money suck for our tax dollars.

I’ve heard your arguments before. They don’t convince me; I’m not going to convince you. We agree that we disagree.

It’s impossible to fully please everyone at once. The question is how to find a compromise that everyone can live with. That’s the price we pay for living in a functioning society.


I’m still interested in how [quote=“technogeekagain, post:18, topic:14177, full:true”]
The question is how to find a compromise that everyone can live with. That’s the price we pay for living in a functioning society.

Well in my eyes gun owners have repeatedly compromised. Then ten years later someone wants even more compromise. They take a little, and take a little more. Other than in the recent years some states allowing CCW, most gun laws have become more restrictive, rarely are they loosened. Who is compromising there?

Given the numbers I gave above and how few people are actually harming others with guns, how can one justify the need for more compromise? What IS the price you are willing to pay?

1 Like

[quote=“Brainspore, post:16, topic:14177”]
Actually I’d be happy to argue for the legalization of heroin, because unlike guns heroin is rarely used to murder innocent bystanders.[/quote]

Personally, I would legalize heroin as well, but it is a much more dangerous drug than weed - addictive and is the most likely to kill from an overdose. So I am approaching it from a “public safety” view.

I think there is a distinction between firearms and explosives.

Well I don’t know where you personally fall, but what some people see as fine print others see as a big fucking difference. This is often compounded by one’s general ignorance of firearms.