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22 February 2011

Comments

Paul Emery

So George and anyone else who wishes to chime in what kind of gun control to you advocate if any? Of course there needs to be limits unless we are entitled to have neighborhood tanks. What is a reasonable restriction and process?

George Rebane

As a lifelong NRA member I support the positions that have extensively been advocated by that organization. For those interested in exploring this considerable area of Constitutional rights, the following link is a good starting point.
http://www.nraila.org/About/

Paul Emery

Laura Wilcox, a 19-year-old college student, was gunned down by Scott Harlan Thorpe in a Nevada City public mental-health clinic around 10 years ago. What legislation and enforcement would support to prevent guns from getting into the hands of someone like Thorpe. I don't have the patience to go through the NRA website. I'm interested in what you and other contributors to this blog believe

Todd Juvinall

I don't own a gun but my opinion would be that no mentally incompetent person should have access to a gun. Of course, these same people can grab a kitchen knife and murder at any time and they do. Paul, what is your opinion on knives as murder weapons?

Paul Emery

How do you prevent mentally incompetent persons from possessing a gun without some form of licensing and control. We do it with cars. Thorpe couldn't have done what he did with a kitchen knife. That's a ridiculous argument in this case. This is real not theory. This happened in our community. In short. do you believe a person should need a permit to purchase a gun of any kind? The permit would require that the person be mentally competent to possess a gun and not be a felon etc.

Dixon Cruickshank

Not sure of the exact details of this situation but of course he peobably could have done it with a knife. Without really knowing I would bet as many people are killed with knifes as guns in a year. The problem Paul is when to stop deciding who can and who can't, thats a slippery slope.

Dixon Cruickshank

The battle in WI will change the country forever, the unions won't be able to hire the negoiators for the Gov with dues, and not be able to buy elections and no comments. The unions know this is it, if they lose the mandatory enrollment and dues, its a game changer. If you think almost every state will be right behind you would be correct. Of course the way its being handled has probably doomed the entire Democratic Party as we know it.

George Rebane

Paul, the 2nd Amendment was not about duck hunting, but about the notion of par force conceived by the Founders. The Founders were well aware of how fragile their experiment would be - Ben Franklin answered a woman who asked what the Constitutional Convention had produced for us, "A republic if you can keep it." We are not keeping it, and are sliding toward a democracy on the way to autocracy.

Broad based ownership of guns does not come free, and the use of tragic anecdotes about the misuse of guns is IMHO the errand of fools and light thinkers which I am not interested in pursuing.

These posts summarize and expand my views on the subject.
http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2008/04/par-force-an-un.html and
http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2010/03/firearms-refresher-course.html

Account Deleted

Paul - do you want to try to limit violence or just gun violence? This just took place less than a month ago.
http://newyorkcriminallawyersblog.com/2011/02/maksim-gelman-finally-arrested-after-28-hour-murder-mayhem.html
We can have a discussion about trying to spot and control violent people if you would like, but if you just want to complain about gun violence and ignore the mayhem and murder with other forms of weaponry, I'm not interested. We have several Constitutional rights as law abiding citizens. Owning guns is one of them. The reason was made amply clear in the supporting documents written by the folks that authored the Constitution. It was so we could protect ourselves from a govt that was abusive of our other rights and to be able to protect ourselves from criminals with out having to have a policeman full time at our door. By the way, I couldn't care less if my neighbor had a tank. I'm far more worried about some of them being able to drive on the same roads as I do.

Greg Goodknight

Did you folks know that felons and the mentally ill cannot be prosecuted for violating any US registration laws? There are exemptions specifically written into all such "gun control" ordinances.

Seems there's a pesky amendment to the constitution, in the middle single digits, that protects against self incrimination, so you can't arrest someone for not attempting to register an illegally held firearm. Registration laws can only be used to catch someone who isn't forbidden to own a gun.

Mikey McD

I agree with Scott. The guns are not the problem, violent people are the problem.

There is no gun law that would have stopped the violence carried out by Thorpe; however, freer gun laws may have helped save innocent lives. I remember holding my glock as I watched Thorpe drive by me that horrible day; had I lived in another era I could have used my gun to save innocent lives.

Pencils do not cause misspelled words.

Mikey McD

Scott, horrible local news... no gun required; just violence.

http://www.theunion.com/article/20110223/NEWS/110229924/1066&ParentProfile=1053

Thoughts and prayers to the Turner family.

Paul Emery

My original question was what if any laws should we have concerning gun control. Should we have a competency-skill test. Should anyone anytime be able to pick up a gun at a convenience store along with a fifth of whisky. We do have laws in California but they obviously failed in the Thorpe case in protecting the public.

Mikey McD

Harsh punishment guaranteed for those with violent crime history/known mental illness found with gun in possession.

Gun ownership is a right, which can be revoked if you have a violent police record or have lost your marbles.

Paul Emery

So do you check at the time of purchase if someone has a violence/crime/mental illness history or do you wait till after they've used the gun and give them more severe punishmnt ?

Todd Juvinall

Paul, you need to remember something your people fought for and were successful in achieving regarding human rights here in America. The terrible people of the past who were placing the mentally ill in institutions to make the public square safer were slapped down and the caring liberals were able to restore full constitutional rights to these people. Along with those rights is all of them, even the Second Amendment. So, look in the mirror Paul and be proud.

Mikey McD

"So do you check at the time of purchase if someone has a violence/crime/mental illness history?" NO.

Such intrusion is ineffective and a waste of time; such laborious regs would do nothing to prevent violence, but, it does immeasurable damage to personal liberty.

Paul Emery

Todd
So I assume by you're logic that because "my people" released all the mentally in from institutions they now have full rights to buy guns and shoot up the town. I have to give you cudo's for creativity on this one. I couldn't have done better myself. It was, of course Reagan who closed mental institutions in 1982 and placed thousands of mentally ill patients on the streets.

My question was do we check at time of purchase for mental-criminal history or do we deal with it after the fact with harsher penalties or both.

 Mikey McD

"do we check at time of purchase for mental-criminal history"- No.

Those with mental illness and those with violent records have been made aware of the strict penalties for owning/carrying a weapon.

 Mikey McD

Suggesting that a violent/mentally ill man amidst a fit of rage would find peace if only he was rejected at a firearms store seems foolish.

The violent/mentally ill will find a weapon regardless of the laws we pass.

Paul Emery

Wow....Hard core stance Mikey. That implies the knowledge of the deterrent is enough of an influence on a mentally unstable or person with a history of crime to prevent them from using a gun. Do you really believe that public safety is served by this process?

I know gun rights are a sacred cow but this is pretty extreme.

You get out of prison, you go to town and buy a gun. No questions asked. You are released from a mental care facility and youbuy a gun No questions asked. ???? You are issued a restraining order for threatening someone and you can go buy a gun no questions asked.

 Mikey McD

You can blame the gun, I will blame the man pulling the trigger.

My stance is not "hard core", it is realistic. I will not believe the fantasy that denying cons or the mentally ill the right to buy a gun will keep them from getting their trigger finger on one.

Fact: the Thorpe massacre would not have been stopped by stricter gun laws, though, his rampage could have been thwarted (damage lessened) by looser gun laws allowing me and/or others to protect ourselves.

George Rebane

When we talk of "public safety" and the distribution of guns in a nation or a country, what does that utility look like? over what period is it applied? History records that government has always been the greatest killer of its own people, far out-murdering the criminal and deranged elements that also take lives. And these state-implemented murdering binges lasting for years fall only on nations that have the common denominator of wholesale gun bans on their citizens. Rummel's 'Death By Government' is a copious yet conservative documentation of what happened in the 20th century.

In the grand scheme of human affairs, we are here discussing the inconsequentials. Nevertheless, such anecdotes always impact and influence those with short horizons. Another illustration of the dangers of democracy.

Account Deleted

Paul continues to duck the issue - are you against only some violence or all violence? Are humans killed by fire arms deader than those killed by other means? Are some murders worse than others? I love his statement - "I know gun rights are a sacred cow but this is pretty extreme." Yeah Paul, human rights are a kind of sacred cow in this country. We are kinda' funny about that. And everyone should all brush up on the "Reagan closure of the mental hospitals" routine. It didn't originate with Reagan and it wasn't his idea. Why don't we have competency tests as a precondition for all human rights? You have to prove you can live properly as a free person before we let you run around unsupervised after you turn 18. It would certainly have prevented all the greedy idiots from buying homes they couldn't afford and saved our nation a trillion or two.

Account Deleted

Thanks for the link, Mike. I hadn't heard that the victim had died. Maybe we should follow Paul's wise advice and make sure we register and license everyone who has access to logs.

Todd Juvinall

Paul, you are correct, silly me. We need to ban those that someone has deemed mentally ill or from a feloius life, a gun. Here is my suggestion. There seems to me to be only one way to be sure a person is mentally ill and a felon is a felon. I say, the scarlet letter. All those people that Paul Emery proves is incapable of owing a firearm shall retain a red NGA on their forehead. NGA means "no gun allowed". That way, our society will be safer. How about it?

 Mikey McD

A marking of NGA on a drivers license might be more efficient.

I am more afraid of men living without guns than I am of the mentally ill and violent having access to guns.

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." Thomas Jefferson

Paul Emery

I contend that unlimited access to guns of any kind to all people is not what was intended by the second amendment and certainly not what court rulings have supported.

Should we allow armed street gangs for example to carry unconcealed weapons in the streets. What limit should there be?
So Todd, aside from your silly ramblings I take it that there should be no restrictions on gun ownership by anyone lest it be a violation of the 2nd amendment. Also, what type of guns? Should a paroled bank robber be allowed to buy a sub machine gun at a local flea market no questions asked? Yes or know.

Mikey

Drivers licenses are so easily altered but it's a start.

Paul Emery

typo
yes or no

Todd Juvinall

Glad you caught your typo I thought I was the only one that did that.

Paul, are you aware that in the beginning of our country there were laws requiring gun ownership? Probably not. I personally have never owned a gun except for a BB gun I use to shoot squirrels in the arse. Anyway, yes, I agree a tank capable of carrying and shooting a weapon belongs strictly in the military. I do not believe individuals should own an atomic weapon either. I do know that street gangs carry weapons and they are murdering each other all the time. They gather those weapons regardless of your opinion they should not have one. The cat is out of the bag, man. The best thing we can do is teach ethics, gun safety and threaten jail or death to those that murder with them.

Paul Emery

Here's a question for RR readers. Do we have the right to form our own private militias under the Second Amendment ? Extending that thought then would a group like the Black Panthers or the White Citizens Council then be allowed to organize and be armed according to their interpretation of a necessary defense against a hostile government or citizens group ?

Todd Juvinall

They already do. Paul please give us your definition of a militia. Also, please give us your interpretation of the Second Amendment. That would help us a lot.

Paul Emery


Here's a start on the scope of what a militia might be from Wikipedia, somewhat edited for simplicity

This includes private militia's which would include groups like the Black Panthers or White Citizens League or even defenders of the Environment if enough got together and decided it was for a a vital survival defense. Earth First in an example.

"The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens[2] to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. This includes private militia's which would include groups like the Black Panthers or White Citizens League or even defenders of the Enviropnment if enough got together ad decided it was a vital survival defense

* Defense activity or service, to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws.[3]
* The entire able-bodied population of a community, town, county, or state, available to be called to arms.

* A private, non-government force, not necessarily directly supported or sanctioned by its government.
* An official reserve army, composed of citizen soldiers. Called by various names in different countries such as; the Army Reserve, National Guard, or State Defense Forces."

My interpretation of the Second Amendment would include provisions for protecting public safety. I don't claim to be a Constitutional expert but I believe all laws have to be relevant to the times. We will likely disagree heartily on what that would be. While I embrace the gesture that an armed citizenry can be a deterrent against excessive government power I also recognize that 30,000 people each year die in our country as a result of firearms. That's nearly 30 9/11's every year therefore it should be considered to be a safety issue that needs to be addressed.

Might I remind you that the people rose up against the dictatorship in Egypt and brought it down without the use or arms. If the Americans really wanted to topple this government they could do it in a couple of weeks with a consumer strike that would clean house in no time.

Paul Emery

Sorry I erred and re-pasted the reference to militia groups in the definition. I need a proofreader

George Rebane

Private Militias? I’ll offer my two cents – NO. I cannot imagine the purpose of a private (not sanctioned by the sitting government) militia other than to oppose the armed constabulary or military of our duly elected and functioning government. If our government ever does go off the rails, then these militias would spring up spontaneously across America, and a governmental crisis would ensue which could, and probably would, have a ‘soft landing’. I cannot imagine the US military backing a government gone rogue in this country. In the Army of which I was a combat arms officer, a command to fire on Americans would not have gone too far down the chain of command. But had it reached us, I think we lieutenants knew how to respond.

However, that does not mean that well formed private militias do no exist in the United States. We witnessed the training of at least one such militia in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu when we lived there. From our mountain top home at night we heard full automatic fire, and we saw Latino men in camis and webgear marching down Tuna Canyon Rd at 1am. We never found out who they were, and the sheriff’s office didn’t want to talk about them too much. But we did/do know that groups like MALDEF and La Raza have affiliates that may be called private militias. The 80,000 plus gang bangers in LA County are not really a factor in the militia discussion since they are almost entirely a turf defending (for drug dealing) criminal element.

I believe it is naïve to think that the Egyptian revolt has succeeded (it ain’t yet over) to this point without the clear presence of arms. Their army simply chose to back the rioters as a facile means of getting rid of Mubarak and buy time to try a Plan B.

Using the 30,000 annual gun related deaths is an oft quoted red herring by gun banners. The decomposition of that number does not support their stated reasons for eliminating guns. And, as I stated before, the longer term utility (including loss of human life) would be trashed if the US citizens were criminalized by owning guns. Many more people would start dying every year (I can already hear the ‘It can’t happen here’) Given our other problems, the subsequent collectivist takeover with the force of arms would IMHO spell the instant end of America as we have come to know and love it.

Todd Juvinall

Paul, using wiki to define militias is not acceptable. Either is your admission you are no Constitutionalist. When you ask a question or hold the opinion as you have I would expect nothing less of a journalist to have his own well defined positions. As a nation formed in violence as are most, the Founders wrote the importance of militias into our Constitution as well as the right to bear arms (that does not mean a man with no sleeves). BTW, maybe someone can send me to the law which nationalized all militias and National Guards into a federal force. Anyway, Egypt is unusual in the restraint so far, of violence. Libya today is murdering willy nilly and they are using guns. I remember seeing the videos and stills of the genocide of Rwanda. one million souls were taken by guns and machetes. All done is a short period of time. I would say if those people murdered by machete had a pistol or a rifle, they might be alive today. I remember seeing Bosnian mass graves. The Serbs stood them in a line and a huge man with a sledgehammer smashed their brains and through them in holes. Thopusands were murdered this way. U would think if those poor souls had a firearm it may have been a different outcome.

You think America is immune from these atrocities and I hope you are right. But, I would say we need to bet that someday that may not be and owning weapons and even having local militias may be a smart move.

Paul Emery

My role as a journalist is not to have positions but to ask questions and tell stories. I participate in this blog for my own amusement and education but what I express here is not to be confused with journalism. You asked me for a definition of militia so I used Wiki because it was convenient and actually conforms to most other definitions of the word.

The examples you cite-Bosnia and Rwanda were fueled by religious and tribal histories. If both sides had guns one side would have more and ultimately inflict the same outcome.

The outcomes in both Libya and Egypt will be determined not by who has the most guns but by the power of the insurrections stop the government and isolate it from the rest of the world.

Gandhi used consumer strikes to shut down India and once the British found out they couldn't make a buck there anymore they got out.

I started this whole discussion asking what limits should be placed on the right to bear arms that is consistent with public safety and modern reality. If the right to bar arms includes the rights of neighborhoods to form their own defense units so be it. I spent several months in Ireland both North and South in 1980 and I can share first hand experiences about what I saw and it's not pretty.

More later.

Mikey McD

Paul, would Ireland of the 1980's been "prettier" if one side had no guns?

http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/infowars-shop_2146_11429160

Todd Juvinall

Paul, come on now. If your neighborhood was under attack are you telling us you would not organize a defense? I would suggest you read the stories sent to the Union from the fellow in Egypt who said he and his neighbors organized a defense for the neighborhood.

Account Deleted

Paul - are you suggesting that in Ireland, the presence of firearms caused the violence? You were there in 1980? I think it goes back a wee bit farther than that.
In Rwanda, roving gangs of young men (cowards) raped and murdered mostly defenceless civilians without firearms. Read "A Thousand Hills" for a good account. The French, by the way, abetted the slaughter and the UN was useless as usual. The authors of the Constitution wanted the citizens of this country to be armed with the same (or better) fire arms available to any one else. Trying to turn the argument on the definition of "militia" is not an honest way of looking at the issue. In Switzerland, they issue machine guns to the citizens and it has not led to major issues. In England, Germany, and other places in Europe there have been horrible mass murders with fire arms even though they have the strict gun laws you want. The facts are totally against your views and as a so-called journalist you should know that.
If you want do away with our civil rights, then please come out and say so. "I started this whole discussion asking what limits should be placed on the right to bear arms that is consistent with public safety and modern reality." Really? Are you saying that the authors of the Bill Of Rights and The Constitution were not concerned with public safety? Modern reality? Folks didn't get shot and die in the late 18th century? Hard to follow your line of thought. Modern reality is no different than reality 10,000 years ago. Some one figures out a way to subjugate others around him if they have no way to defend themselves. Same old story.

Todd Juvinall

Scott, excellent!

Paul Emery

Scott

What I saw in Ireland in 1980 were neighborhood armed gangs that would nightly engage in retaliation against their "enemies" by bombing, assassination, ambush, murder and terror. They were well armed and supplied by the profiteers of war funded largely by so called patriotic fund raising in this country and Britain. Don't forget, there are no free bullets. The whole thing was big business promoted by profiteers on both sides. There would be no wars if there was no profit in war. As long as both sides had unlimited funding to buy guns the "troubles" continued. My question is that is this situation an extension of the right to bear arms that could happen in this country?

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