Thursday, July 16, 2015


Two Thirds Right

Here is an article in the online version of Newsweek (who knew it still existed in any form?) about guns which is 1/3 ignorance and 2/3 good sense. I call that progress. First the list of objectives:
  • Ban accessories that serve no purpose other than to transform guns into weapons of mass slaughter, such as attachable drums that carry 100 rounds.
  • Adopt rules that make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain firearms.
  • Outlaw the public display of weapons.
  • Allow the concealed carry of guns using the “shall issue” standard.
  • Stop trying to ban scary-looking add-ons that primarily protect the shooter, but don’t make the gun more dangerous to others.
  • Forget attacks on the “armor-piercing bullets.”
  • Abandon efforts to outlaw “assault weapons”—a politically loaded phrase with a mishmash of meanings that pretty much amount to nothing.

  • I am happy to report that I am in favor of 5 of the 7. Wow.

    Let's start with the author, Kurt Eichenwald. He went to St. Marks in Dallas (good-Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs went there too) but then only got into Swarthmore, where he majored in PoliSci between grand mal seizures (poor guy), and has no further degrees, certainly not a JD. So we can safely ignore his legal analysis, which is marginal at best. He has in the past written that we should repeal the 2nd Amendment, so there is that hole in his ability to reason in the real world. The clear analysis of his thoughts on Justice Scalia's opinion in Heller is that Scalia's right and Eichenwald is wrong. And yes Scalia left in place the 20 or so reasons for disqualification of gun ownership, gun free zones, and government intrusion (and taxing) of sales of full auto weapons, explosives and artillery. None of those are bans on ownership, which was the subject of Heller.

    But look on the bright side. 5/7. So much common sense. He's about the first lefty I've ever read to realize that merely cosmetic features don't make a gun more dangerous and that the concept "assault weapon" is vapid. Two cheers for the guy!

    His major flaw is the flaw of all lefties on gun control, his unshakable belief that criminals will obey gun control legislation. Both Jefferson and Madison had the grey matter to know that gun control laws are obeyed only by the law abiding (who won't commit crimes with the guns). Kurt can't seem to get on that bus. Behold.

    Which brings us back to gun accessories. Nowhere in Supreme Court precedent, or in the words of the founders, or in the Second Amendment (either of them) is there a right to attach stuff to a gun, including the add-ons that serve no purpose other than to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible. 
    Some of these accessories are largely unknown outside of the gun crowd, including such nonsensical devices as magazine drums that allow popular weapons such as the AR-15 rifle to fire up to 100 rounds without reloading. 
    Why would any gun enthusiast need 100 rounds?
    No right to attach things to a gun? You mean like a barrel? Like a box magazine? Like a box magazine that you think has too many rounds in it? The reason for standard and large capacity box magazines is so the gun can be shot for a while without reloading. Why are lefties so in favor of reloading more often? Why not make all guns single shots like the muskets and rifles that existed in the late 18th C., then we'd have to reload after every shot? Sorry for the reductio ad absurdum argument. I'll certainly forego stating the obvious that the 1st Amendment protection of freedom of the press applies to media other than just newsprint.

    That shooting a lot of bullets quickly without reloading can be used by mass murders is an insufficient reason for banning certain capacity magazines in light of the plain text, actually written down in the Constitution right to keep and bear arms. Besides, semi-auto fire using standard sized magazines would make the gun compatible with use by the militia which is the heart of the ruling in the Miller case, with which Kurt seems to agree. A car can be used as a weapon of mass murder too, just drive really fast into a crowd; but that fact alone is insufficient to cause rational people to want to ban the car. Cars are used much more often for useful, almost always non-lethal, purposes so that such a ban would be really stupid. It's similar with guns. Tens of millions of rounds are used for paper targets or plinking, mere thousands are used by criminals for assault or murder. And the same logic is true despite the essential purpose of the gun (to hurl a projectile with force and accuracy into flesh) being different from the essential purpose of the car (to move someone from point A to point B quickly). I'll even admit that the primary purpose of a handgun is to hurl the projectile into human flesh. Still not a good reason to defy the framer's clear, written intent and ban certain weapons for being too dangerous.

    As a quick aside, spring technology is ancient and has not really improved in two thousand years. There is only so much capacity you can have in a magazine before the spring fails to lift the cartridges up to be loaded into the chamber on the return stroke of the bolt. Also the upper range of capacity is curtailed by the strength of the spring in another way. If the spring is robust enough to lift 40 rounds or so, you can hardly depress it sufficiently in order to load lots of rounds into the magazine in the first place. 20 to 30 is the standard range of box spring capacity. After that problems start. We, with the Thompson, and the Soviets with the PPSh 41, increased magazine capacity with drum magazines which are still spring powered but you can load the drum full of cartridges and then engage the spring. Yes, James Holmes used twin drums on his S&W version of the AR-15 but it jammed and he stopped shooting. So not exactly nonsensical, as Kurt claims, but drums are merely a slight improvement in capacity to straight box magazines. Still all spring loaded magazines have an actual, technical upper limit with which I'm OK. Not so with gun ignorant lefties. Back to the article.

    But if anyone asks why do you need some configuration of gun equipment, that person's bias and ignorance has already been laid bare. It's not a question of need, but of freedom. The bill of rights is one ban on government interference with freedom after another. 'I want it' is enough to guarantee that I can keep and bear it free from government entanglements. Plain text, actually written down in the Constitution. Besides, as Bob Dylan sang, your debutante knows what you need, I know what you want. The government does not know anything about either my needs or desires. I am standing on clear, text-supported ground to say, stay out of my decision which firearm I wish to keep and bear. Kurt seems not to be down with that.

    And the reloading myth is strong with this crowd. They love to point out that both the murderers, on the Long Island train and at Gabby Giffords' meet and greet, were overcome when they stopped to reload. Yes, and the murderers at Va Tech, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood and Columbine were not. And there is the supreme problem with drawing the line (below where spring technology draws it, that is). With a ban on magazines that hold more than 15 or 10 or 7, you're necessarily saying that we can live with 7 or 10 or 15 dead victims but the 8th, 11th or 16th is somehow more precious to the state. No rational person will admit this is a good reason for unconstitutional gun legislation, mainly because it's not.

    Where we disagree, even when we agree, is about efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the insane. Kurt says that half of all gun sales are between private buyers and do not involve a background check. I doubt that very much. In fact, if it's over 20% I'd be amazed. But of course I have the right to sell my gun to whomever I chose and with that comes the responsibility not to knowingly sell it to a criminal or a madman. The government that necessarily trusts us to keep and bear arms should also trust us to use the same good sense we show being responsible gun owners when we become gun sellers from time to time.

    The criminal element will always be able to get firearms no matter how many laws we pass. That's a real world, well known fact which makes a mockery of gun control laws. They only are followed by the law-abiding who need no restrictions at all.

    Kurt also defames in ignorance the position of the NRA regarding "tightening up" the ban on gun sales to the mentally ill. Jeez, the NRA publishes a monthly magazine (3 in fact) which contain the same position articles regarding, on this subject, the well reasoned opposition to the proposed rules so far trotted out by the anti-gun ilk. I don't think Kurt has bothered to read them. It is medical privacy on steroids and the cruel and counterproductive closing of mental institutions which has allowed some guns to get into the hands of madmen. That's the mountain compared to the molehill of NRA opposition to overreaching on what mental illness should take away your 2nd Amendment rights. Should depression do it? How about PTSD? The sound limit is being judged to be a danger to oneself or others. Unfortunately, due largely to lefty support of mental illness rights, too few psychopaths are ever subject to that judicial scrutiny. Don't blame the NRA for that.

    The last bit of disagreement is about open carry. He actually advocates 'shall issue' concealed carry permits but opposes open carry. What? Does the sight of guns offend him? This is an internally incoherent set of positions in the context of this eye-opening article.


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