A Rabbi, A Country Singer And An NRA Instructor Walk Into A Bar…

The battle for the Second Amendment, in my lifetime, has turned nearly 180 degrees.  When I was a kid (and a liberal), things were looking pretty bleak; US V. Miller was broadly (and mistakenly) accepted as a precedent; the media and big government culture largely regarded firearms as a social illness that needed to be controlled and then eradicated.

But in one of the greatest grass-roots political movements in American history, millions of law-abiding citizens have turned the tide, for now – vote by vote, state by state, and finally, even turning much of this nation’s bobbleheaded “legal elite” around, to the point where the forces of good prevailed in the Supreme Court two years ago, in the Heller decision.  And with any luck, sometime in the next month or so, the McDonald case will incorporate Heller to all fifty states, causing the “individual rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment to become binding on all lower levels of government.

This is good.

One thing one can not say is that the human rights and civil liberties interpretation of the Second Amendment won because the broad sweep of the extreme “progressive” movement got especially better informed on the subject.

Because if this post at Mahablog is any indication, we have a long, long way to go.

Not content with merely supporting an individual right to own firearms, the National Rifle Association is hellbent on eliminating all restrictions on any citizens carrying guns anywhere he or she wants, including churches, workplaces, and now bars and restaurants. This is in spite of the fact that even in the most 2nd-amendment lovin’ red states a large majority of people think it’s a real bad idea for a bunch of drunken yahoos to be packing heat.

So many responses.

For starters:  the term “packing heat” should be a signal that whomever is writing really knows nothing about the topic.  I know – it’s a correlation that doesn’t equal causation, but there is an extremely high correlation between people who use the phrase (which has been otherwise absent from American English since the 1930s, except in old gangster movies) and abject ignorance on the subject.

Next – “Maha” claims that “big majorities” oppose the rights of legal permit-holders to carry in churches, bars and restaurants.  I’m not sure where she gets this – I’d love to see a cite – but it reminds me of the polls the “progressives tossed about from the seventies through the nineties that claimed a huge majority supported gun control.  The devil was in the details; the vast majority approve of some controls.  Keeping guns away from criminals and convicted felons is “gun control”, and I favor it; I’d be part of that putative “vast majority”.  It’s fodder for giggly statistical games, but it’s not really honest.

Because the only numbers that really matter are these; a law-abiding citizen with a carry permit (which proves, in 40 states, that he or she has no criminal record, no documented drug or alcohol problems, and in many of them has passed a skills course) is vastly less likely to harm you or anyone else than the general public – as in “two orders of magnitude” less.

Yes, the new Tennessee law that lifts all restrictions on where a citizen can carry a concealed weapon, including into bars, provides that the carrier must abstain from drinking.

I have to wonder – do these people either read, or talk with each other?

Because it was two years ago that this blog humiliated the Minnesoros “Independenton this exact question.   It’s been legal,l in überliberal Minnesota, to carry permitted guns in bars since 2005, provided one’s blood alcohol level is below .04 – half the level allowed to drive a car.   This is true in many other “shall issue” states.

You don’t have to look very hard to find stories of people shooting people in bars.  But you have to look long and hard to find any involving legal carry permit-holders.

The NRA pushed hard for the new Tennessee law:

The NRA’s argument is that while the militia may be “well-regulated,” any restriction on an individual citizen’s ability to carry a firearm amounts to an “abridgment” of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. This assumes that all such rights are absolute and untouchable by law under all circumstances, but we certainly have never treated any other right that way.

And we don’t treat the Second Amendment that way.

“Maha” writes imprecisely – which is as good as most “progressives” can do on the subject, to be fair.  The NRA is pretty absolutist about the rights of law-abiding individual citizens.  The NRA has also led the way on laws to punish gun possession and use by criminals.

The rub, of course, is that “progressives” never, ever distinguish between the law-abiding and criminals when the topic is guns (or, for that matter, quite a few other topics as well) – which we see in the following clip:

Freedom of speech doesn’t include a right to publish and distribute hard-core pornography, for example. Freedom of religion doesn’t rubber stamp human sacrifice.

That “Maha” thinks my right as someone with a clean criminal record is on par with human sacrifice is almost as telling as the fact she thinks that there are any restrictions on hard-core porn.

The NRA is using bullying tactics to impose its will on lawmakers, even when a whopping majority of constituents (and probably the lawmakers’ consciences, if they have any) disagree with the NRA’s position. There are some cities and states in which a big majority would prefer some level of legal gun control, for safety’s sake.

If decades of statistic don’t show you that controlling the rights of the law-abiding in the interest of  “safety” isnt’ a canard, the example of Chicago is probably lost on you.

Anyway – the issue is at a bit of a head, with the nomination of Elena Kagan to the SCOTUS, and with the high court’s upcoming McDonald decision.

“Maha”:

Now the wingnuts are screaming that Elena Kagan is opposed to gun rights because

Elena Kagan said as a U.S. Supreme Court law clerk in 1987 that she was “not sympathetic” toward a man who contended that his constitutional rights were violated when he was convicted for carrying an unlicensed pistol.

Note the “unlicensed” part.

We do.  That’s the point; it is impossible, in DC, Chicago and other cities, for the law-abiding citizen to get the “license”.  In other cities – New York is a great example, as was Minnesota until 2003 – it was entirely a matter of the applicant’s political clout and connections.

More recently she has said,

“There is no question, after Heller, that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to keep and bear arms and that this right, like others in the Constitution, provides strong although not unlimited protection against governmental regulation,” she said.

Right.

And it’s the “…although not unlimited…” bit that we are watching closely.

A conservative’s idea of a “reasonable limit” is “keeping guns out of the hands of criminals”; a “progressive” thinks that putting a gun into anyone’s hands at all makes them suspect.

I don’t read Mahablog much.  But I noticed she’d linked to me:

But that’s not good enough for the gun nuts, who predictably compared Heller to Third Reich Nazis.

Which is a rather “un-nuanced” view of what I actually wrote.   Read it yourself; I criticize those who defend Kagan’s 1987 comments on the Second Amendment by saying “it reflects what the “elite bar” thought at the time”.

The “elite bar” once thought that a black man was worth 2/3 of a white man, and defended slavery with carefully-written, legally-scrupulous opinions – that were morally utterly vacant, since they abridged basic human liberties.

The “Nuremberg Laws” were perfectly acceptable law under German jurisprudence, too.  The German “legal elite” said so.

There’s no comparing the results of the two; Slavery and the Holocaust were evil, while gun control is merely stupid and racist.

But my point wasn’t comparison; it was simply that a stupid opinion isn’t made correct because “the elites believed it was correct”.

The crazy part of this is that the basic position of the gun lobby — that the 2nd amendment protects an individual right to own firearms — is settled law at this point. And the issue of gun control isn’t even on the progressivist back burner any more, compared to, say, 15 years ago. It’s not even in the bleeping kitchen.

And how do you think it got that way?

Because millions of us schlumpfy, un-hip guys and gals in flyoverland – the ones that Bill Maher giggles at – made it that way, one vote and one state and, finally, one justice at a time.

And, by “Maha’s” leave, we’re going to make sure it stays that way.

About the only way gun rights are going to be seriously challenged in the foreseeable future is if there is a huge swing of public opinion in the direction of more gun control. A few shoot-outs in Tennessee roadhouses might do it.

Keep waiting.

And if you look at the statistics, you might wanna bring a water bottle.  You’ll be waiting a long, long time.

Side note:  Let’s see if Barbara “Maha” O’Brien is any better at allowing dissenting comments than she used to be.

UPDATE:  Nope, she’s not.  I’m told that several comments critical of her “position” have been removed.

Why are some liberal bloggers so utterly gutless?

17 thoughts on “A Rabbi, A Country Singer And An NRA Instructor Walk Into A Bar…

  1. Mitch,

    Does “the general public” include all those who for one reason or another would not qualify for the permit? If so, that argument means nothing. I would like to see a comparison made between people who qualify and do not carry and those who qualify and do carry. That makes a much stronger argument, if the data supports the same sort of conclusion.

  2. Leslie,

    I”m not sure I get the question; in my piece, I repeatedly refer to “carry permit holders”, which by definition excludes those who don’t qualify.

    And the data not only supports the conclusion, i’ts not only “not close” – it’s not even within an order of magnitude.

    In Florida after they passed “Shall Issue” in 1987, the Dade County Sheriff’s office did a study of permittees statewide. They found that out of 150,000 issued in the first five years, 11 had been revoked because the holder had committed some kind of felony. That’s less that a percent of a percent – less than one in ten thousand (and not all the felonies were violent).

    A little over 1% of adults in our society at large have been convicted of some kind of felony or another.

    So carry permit holders are less than one percent as likely as the general population to commit any kind of felony.

    How about gun owners in general? In the early nineties, the left made much hay out of a “conclusion” in the New England Journal of Medicine that purported to show that a gun in the home was 43 times as likely to kill someone the owner knows than a criminal. But digging into the raw data – it was all from King County WA, by the way – showed that 37 of them were suicides (tragic, but shouldn’t affect the civil liberties of the non-suicidal)…

    …and of the remainder, the definition “someone known to the owner” didn’t distinguish between who the owner “knew”; children and family members, certainly – but also drug dealers and abusive ex-spouses and ANYONE the owner “knew” in whatever capacity and whatever the circumstances of the shooting. Finally, the numbers only counted killings – not deterrences – and they didn’t control for the background of the owner.

    Re-sorted, and using the FBI’s unrealistically conservative figures for annual deterrences (80,000, a figure which is almost certainly a third to tenth of the real figure according to Gary Kleck), the fact is that a gun in the home of someone with a criminal record or a drinking/drug problem is about equally likely to deter a crime and harm someone; one in the hands of someone NOT so burdened is 400 times as likely to deter a crime.

    Getting warmer?

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  4. Mitch, you wrote :”Maha” writes imprecisely – which is as good as most “progressives” can do on the subject, to be fair.”

    Excuse me, well, actually – excuse you.

    I challenge that comment about progressives, liberals, whatever label you would like to plaster on someone who has a different point of view than your own. I and my colleagues are 1. not anti-gun; and 2. not imprecise when writing on the subject.

    i would add to the category of those whom I object to carrying guns not only criminals, but those who are mentally ill, and those individuals who are under a certain minimum legal age on the basis of unproven and questionable impulse control and judgement.

    I don’t believe that association can or should be the basis for denying legal gun carry – as has been suggested recently for those who are on no-fly lists. If they haven’t been convicted of anything, then I don’t think it is proper or legal to deny those persons a constitutionally guaranteed right.

    I think you may find that many of us you tar with too broad a brush here are standing up for a variety of constitutionally guaranteed rights – from habeus corpus to Miranda to both 1st and 2nd Amendment, as well as the rights to retain citizenship that Lieberman and Scott Brown would like to make more vulnerable.

  5. “as well as the rights to retain citizenship that Lieberman and Scott Brown would like to make more vulnerable.”

    Naturalized or native born?

    Title 8 of the United States Code will disappoint you – if your argument is going where it think it is.

  6. Excuse me, well, actually – excuse you.

    Well, we’ll see:

    I challenge that comment about progressives, liberals, whatever label you would like to plaster on someone who has a different point of view than your own. I and my colleagues are 1. not anti-gun; and 2. not imprecise when writing on the subject.

    Right. Hence I said “most”. I know plenty of second-amendment Democrats. Indeed, the Minnesota Personal Protection Act could never have passed without plenty of good (invariably outstate) DFLers.

    i would add to the category of those whom I object to carrying guns not only criminals, but those who are mentally ill, and those individuals who are under a certain minimum legal age on the basis of unproven and questionable impulse control and judgement.

    Ahem.

    Check back through my writing on the subject, in this post as well as elsewhere. I refer to “permit holders”. In every shall-issue state, there is a minimum age for a permit. Since a minimum age is a pre-requisite for the permit that allows one to carry legally at all (and the two states that allow carry without permits, AK and VT, have age limits), and most of them (MN included) list documentable mental illness as a disqualifier.

    I don’t believe that association can or should be the basis for denying legal gun carry – as has been suggested recently for those who are on no-fly lists. If they haven’t been convicted of anything, then I don’t think it is proper or legal to deny those persons a constitutionally guaranteed right.

    As a rule I agree, although actions that got someone on a no-fly list might be worth considering.

    I think you may find that many of us you tar with too broad a brush here are standing up for a variety of constitutionally guaranteed rights – from habeus corpus to Miranda to both 1st and 2nd Amendment,

    Well, sure, but then this post was never intended to be a complete catalog of every permutation of shades of libertarianism; it was a fisk of a fairly ill-informed blog post that does represent the views of a fairly ill-informed strain of “progressivism”.

    Just because I don’t specifically mention every possible exception doesn’t mean I don’t recognize them; it merely means they’re tangents from the actual issue at hand.

  7. I’m sorry, but Mitch, three years ago you didn’t have a good grasp of incorporation. I don’t think you really ought to be claiming to have been an expert.

    Moreover, you have here, as you have always, lump the baby with the bath water. Your imprecise use of language hardly seems coincidence. You want to convey an image of illiteracy on the subject among one class of people, or so it appears.

    Kagan’s (or rather Maha’s) point about unlicensed carriers is valid. Your redress is to seek to enact laws OR challenge it in the courts. Kagan felt (it seems) someone carrying without legal support was unlawful and nothing more. You seem to want to imply she was to overturn the whole idea of supremacy on her own, without SCOTUS comment or prescedent. Pardon me, but talk about judicial activism.

  8. And to be clear, I get that the defendant WAS challenging his status through the courts, but it’s not Kagan’s perogative to establish incorporation by her own hand. That’s for SCOTUS and they didn’t do it in Heller (because they WANTED to protract this stupidity) and they haven’t done it yet. Claiming that someone has the right to carry in a state where there is a prohibition, is, for the moment, illegal. At least until SCOTUS ( a FAR FAR RIGHT politically motivated and controlled SCOTUS) rules otherwise later on this year, in yet another demonstration of tossing aside soveriegnty and prescedent whenver they like.

  9. I’m sorry, but Mitch, three years ago you didn’t have a good grasp of incorporation. I don’t think you really ought to be claiming to have been an expert.

    Not sure I ever claimed to be an “expert” on anything – even my own field. But I understood incorporation, then as now, just fine.

    And I scanned the rest of your comment in vain for any hint as to why or how I do or don’t understand incorporation. Perhaps you’ll enlighten the audience at some point when you get a moment.

    Moreover, you have here, as you have always, lump the baby with the bath water. Your imprecise use of language hardly seems coincidence. You want to convey an image of illiteracy on the subject among one class of people, or so it appears.

    Er, Pen? Speaking of “imprecise use of language”, what on earth are you talking about?

    Kagan’s (or rather Maha’s) point about unlicensed carriers is valid. Your redress is to seek to enact laws OR challenge it in the courts. Kagan felt (it seems) someone carrying without legal support was unlawful and nothing more.

    I’m not sure where or how that was ever in question.

    You seem to want to imply she was to overturn the whole idea of supremacy on her own, without SCOTUS comment or prescedent.

    I said, wrote and thought nothing of the sort. Merely that her only documented stance on the Second Amendment seems to be out of line with Heller. I’m always open to further information.

    Pardon me, but talk about judicial activism.

    Please show me where I ever claimed that clerks could give binding opinions at the SCOTUS level.

    it’s not Kagan’s perogative to establish incorporation by her own hand.

    Er, with all due repesct, “well, duh”.

    That’s for SCOTUS and they didn’t do it in Heller (because they WANTED to protract this stupidity) and they haven’t done it yet.

    Your ascribing of motive is curious. From Scalia’s dicta, it’s pretty clear that the majority opinion did this one by the numbers; they didn’t want to overreach. Scalia quite clearly left things open for a more suitable case for incorporation.

    Please substantiate your assignment of motive.

    Claiming that someone has the right to carry in a state where there is a prohibition, is, for the moment, illegal.

    Well, yes. And no.

    If we accept that our civil and human liberties are from our Creator – God or biology or pure chance, whatever you believe in – then any law that unjustly curtails them is wrong. They may have temporary temporal sway via the mechanism of the criminal justice and judicial systems, but they are still wrong.

    Laws saying that slavery was legal were, in fact, the law of the land. They were still wrong.

    At least until SCOTUS ( a FAR FAR RIGHT politically motivated and controlled SCOTUS) …

    And it’s there that you depart the surly bonds of reason and escape earth orbit.

  10. I and my colleagues are 1. not anti-gun; and 2. not imprecise when writing on the subject

    [facepalm]

  11. The NRA is pretty absolutist about the rights of law-abiding individual citizens.

    You’re confusing the NRA with the GOA. The NRA has been known to compromise on gun control, the GOA never has. I came to within a whisker of dropping my NRA membership during the Clinton era.

  12. “Claiming that someone has the right to carry in a state where there is a prohibition, is, for the moment, illegal. At least until SCOTUS ( a FAR FAR RIGHT politically motivated and controlled SCOTUS) rules otherwise later on this year, in yet another demonstration of tossing aside soveriegnty and prescedent whenver they like.”

    I would encourage Thumb to view this CD. (Try to understand the implications of the 14th Amendment.)

    http://www.secondamendmentdocumentary.com/

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  14. What I’m finding fascinating about Maha is this: “We are not being consistent if we read one amendment in the Bill of Rights in a less liberal light than we read the rest of it.”

    I mean, like, huh? Pretty much everybody — present company included — reads the meaning of the Second Amendment in a less liberal light than they do the rest of the Bill of Rights. Would you accept a law that requires you to take a training class and be approved by a governmental organization — even on objective, “reasonable” grounds — before you write a letter? I doubt it; I wouldn’t. A background check before davening? Nah.

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