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02/20/2011

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Richard Friedman

I don't always agree with Posner, but on this one I'm with him 100%.

Hyena

As someone who grew up in the rural Great Plains and then moved to Los Angeles, my experience is that gun ownership, especially of handguns, has very little to do with either hunting or self-defense. Those topics are simply talk because they are considered acceptable culturally and unassailable in argument. When people know you're comfortable with gun ownership, the real reason people purchased guns becomes apparent: they're cool, some are signs of status, they're fun to shoot, etc.

The reason gun ownership is much higher in rural areas is because of traditionally less strict gun laws, a pre-existing gun culture (I learned to shoot at 8) and a greater availability of open land where people feel comfortable shooting. People in rural areas are much more likely to have access to guns, much more likely to have learned to shoot one without expending a lot of effort searching for an instructor, and (in my experience) far more likely to own multiple firearms. They can usually fire these weapons on their or a friend's land.

The "self-defense" argument is something I've heard way too much of, especially from young urbanites who are trying to impress people or acting out fantasies of self-reliance always so fashionable with people in their early to mid 20s. I don't buy it. It's true that there are fewer police in rural areas, but it's also true that there's a lot less crime because there are far fewer people (and less worth stealing). I don't buy the hunting argument, either, because it's not very fun at all (it's really quite boring) and most people seem to only ever go once per season at the urging of someone else. Those aren't people who own guns "for hunting", those are people who own guns for some other reason and then use them for hunting.

Henry Bowman

Posner's right about one thing -- if your aim is to stamp out liberty, you have to stamp it out from the get-go. Once people get a taste of it, it's heck to suppress.

Curt Doolittle

Guns are for more than hunting and self defense. They're also a political symbol, and a political institution. Arms have uses. But the purpose of arms is to maintain the ability to overthrow an oppressive government, and to insure that members of a government take no actions that would sufficiently anger even a small percentage of the people, such that they might raise their arms and use them.

Yes guns are cool. Yes they are a status symbol. Yes guns provide one with a sense of security. And yes, they are the material tools by which a people remain free. Even if remaining free is the sentiment of the minority of the population. One is not free if he must rely for his security upon the willingness of others. He is free because he chooses to preserve the existing social order, despite the fact that he has the physical power at his disposal to alter it if necessary.

Violence is a virtue: The more of it you have, the more free you are. The more free you make others by possessing it, but using it only to preserve that freedom. Restraint is the most powerful use of violence. If you no longer possess it, you cannot restrain it. It is most powerful if it is a potential.

Actions which are not taken are often not measurable. Economists know this. It is the problem of the broken window fallacy, and the principle behind Opportunity Costs. As such, economists should be wary of applying infinite discounts to a property of human behavior, simply because of the difficulty of measuring the cost of that behavior. Property is an institution that is created by the threat of violence. The use of violence to create property, whether it be the several property of the individual or the shareholder property of the collective, is the most massive and constant application of violence that civilizations apply, from the very broadest group, down to each individual. Property is the highest cost institution. It is the hardest to develop.

The Iron Law of Oligarchy and it's manifestation in bureaucracies guarantees that all governments, of all forms, will be corrupt, and self serving. The only counter to the bureaucracy of the state is the promise of violence by it's citizens. Under republican democracy and social democracy, the bureaucracy is demonstrably more self-serving than under other forms of government, and far less subject to democratic change. Tyrants can be killed. Bureaucracies cannot be.

The vast efforts of the West for the past few centuries have been to create the institutions of property elsewhere. And our primary advances in human productivity and cooperation have been the result of the tools to account for, the legal systems to administer, the education to teach children how to use, and the new types of money and credit instruments, finance, banking, capital and markets to facilitate, the ordered use of property. And we have spread those instituions of property, almost always by the force of arms. This has occurred despite movement after movement by one class or another, from the base proletariat to the elitist public intellectual, to deprive us of that violence, so that they may use the violence of the state to remove from us our freedom, and to alter our definitions of property, and therefore appropriate the institutions, the property, or the results of our labors for the benefit of one group or another.

Adherence to property definitions, and use of the tools to manipulate property, is the foundation of learning in every culture. The Justice that is used to resolve conflicts, and the government that is used to create and regulate markets, both sit upon violence. And governments, if they are over free men, are created and maintained the the fraternity of individuals who are wiling to forgo the institution of violence in order to preserve their definitions of property, their systems of justice, and their institutions of government.

Guns, more than any type of arms in history, equalize our capacity for violence. They make us equal in age, health, strength and choice. Each of us possesses violence. It is a natural human potential. The more skilled we are, the more armed we are, the more we possess of it. The greater the store of it, the wealthier are our people. The more secure are our trade routes. The more respectful are our governors. The more free are our citizens. The more prosperous our people. The more choices for happiness are open to each of us. History does not favor the weak -- whether as a nation, or as individuals.

In the west, our social order, our history, derives from our unique development of cities, which was accomplished through the cooperation of a fraternity of warriors. Today we sue the word shareholders. We should understand that cities are synonymous with markets. Warriors built markets with the threat of violence, and it was done at high cost. Our trade system today is one of high cost. And common americans benefit from that high cost. Even if we are exporting debt and currency to pay for our military system, rather than simply taxing everyone else for our world trade routes.

Our fraternity is what makes us unique among other civilizations. Its origin is in our weakness against the stronger, wealthier and more populous east. With smaller numbers, and better technology, our shareholders defended their markets against superior forces. And while in our lifetimes we have been majority for a brief flicker in time. We are a minority again. A minority who protects our markets, our trade, and our institutions and our freedom with a wealth of violence. By our actions-not-taken. Against the constant drum of talkers and scribblers who would take from us our violence and deprive us of our freedom.

There are only three tools by which humans can coerce other human beings: violence, words and payment. Each social class has developed elites that master one of the three tools. And any attempt to deprive us of words, arms or property, is simply an attempt by the elites of one class to deprive members of another class of their political power, and to obtain additional power for their own at a discount.

I hope that the meaning of that statement is not too subtle to be clear.

Curt Doolittle

TANSTAAFL

Doolittle gets it right. And Judge Posner's complaint about the "unwisdom" of the Supreme Court's recent Second Amendment jurisprudence smacks of sour grapes, in light of the Supreme Court's reversal of the Seventh Circuit's McDonald decision, an opinion that Posner joined. Even so, Posner seems to offer pragmatic (though scarcely conclusive) reasons for his disagreement with the supreme law of the land.

JBS

I take strong exception to both articles' comments about "gun culture." Both Becker and Posner have a very limited understanding of it. There are 2 aspects which need more depth.
First, gun culture includes a very strong bonding aspect between parents, siblings, and spouses. Massad Ayoob is a police captain in Concord, NH, who shoots competively, trains police and civilians nationwide in shooting, and has written several books and numerous articles on gun use. In the April, 2011, issue of Guns magazine he writes: "...When my little girls were 8 years old, they each learned to handle a 1911 .45 with full power hardball and manage it effectively. One of my proudest moments on a shooting range was when my daughter Justine, then 13, and I won the National Junior Handgun Championship Parent/Child Team ... in 1998." I suspect Becker and Posner did not have similar experiences in their youth, but that does not excuse them from being tolerant of those who did.
Second, another aspect of "gun culture" is that it is a 21st century variation of the Civil Liberties Movement. In the 20th century, civil liberties activism took the form of opposing discrimination based on immutable status, namely, race, gender, age, nationality, and handicap; these fights have largely been won. In the 21st century, the fight is against discrimination based on lifestyle, by which I mean discrimination based upon choices that individuals make. The Pro-Choice Movement fights discrimination, harassment, and intimidation against women who choose to be sexually active. The Gay Rights Movement opposes the same thing against persons who choose to be openly homosexual. Discrimination based on what a person chooses to believe about religion is a fight that has largely been won, but there are issues on its periphery. There is widespread persecution of persons who choose to be gun owners, but the victims have resolved not to put up with it anymore. What Becker and Posner call "gun control" is what they see as discrimination and harrasment. There are fighting it thru litigation, legislation, and politics. Each state has at least two activist groups plus about a dozen national ones. They have political action arms and tax exempt defense funds. They are in instantaneous communication over the Internet.
One example of how the fight is occurring is the issue of concealed carry. Every state except Illinois and Wisconsin allows or licenses concealed carry. Wisconsin currently provides for open carry but will most likely approve concealed carry this legislative session. Even in the backward political culture of Illinois, there are proposals in the legislature for concealed carry here. Arizona, Vermont, and Alaska provide for concealed carry without any form of permit; activists call this "Constitutional Carry". In 36 other states concealed carry permits are granted to anyone who meets the requirements laid down. In the rest of the states, local officials have discretion in issuing permits, a situation wide open for favoritism and corruption. There are reciprocity agreements that allow a permit to be valid in other states. For example, with a Florida permit, one can carry a concealed handgun in a total of 30 states. In Indiana and Pennsylvania, the number of permit holders exceeds 6% of the adult population.
I also believe that Posner should rethink his remarks about firearms regulation. These regulations were adopted before the Heller and McDonald decisions recognized "to keep and bear arms" as a fundamental right. The term felon includes someone who got probation 20 years ago and someone who just served his second term for armed robbery. It makes no sense to treat them the same. This is discrimination!
"Denying gun ownership to lunatics" is another area requiring rethinking. There are many forms of mental illness. Deprivation of a fundamental right needs to be fine tuned. I suggest that there needs to be a strong statistical correlation between a particular diagnosis and violent behavior before a deprivation of rights can occur and that the diagnosis be updated at annual intervals to assure that the deprivation is minimized.

Supra Shoes

You're a brave man and a great soldier.

Gart Valenc

The UK is far from being a trouble free society, but one thing that makes me have so much respect for this country is its attitude towards arms. Very few individuals are allowed to have arms and even within the police, only a limited number of highly trained officials are authorised to handle arms.

Contrast that with the USA attitude not just towards guns, but conflict resolution as a whole. It is unsavoury to have to agree with Gil Kerlikowske, the USA Drug's Czar, but in this case I have to concur with him as he candidly admitted in a recent interview with The Daily Caller that, and I quote: «…the United States was founded in violence, and we’re a pretty violent country. You can’t change that.»

Unfortunately, the same values that inform USA attitude towards arms, right to self-defence, pre-emptive actions, retaliation, and so and so on, are the same values that inform the USA War on Drugs.

Both Becker's and Posner's posts have plenty of incisive and insightful observations and I won't repeat them here again. But parodying Posner, the more violent people are, the more violence they want to inflict and the more violence they inflict, the more normal violence seems to be. So, it is not surprising to see how true this rings when one looks at the spirit and intentionality of USA War on Drugs policies in Latin America.

Gart Valenc [http://www.stopthewarondrugs]

Jack

Education!! We've a gun slaughter rate some four or more times that of the civilized nations and even that horrific rate is MUCH higher in the urban and rural "left behind" areas. The literacy rate of those we lock up at FIVE or more times the rate of the civilized nations is something like 50% or less, in a nation claiming 95% or higher lit rates in the general populace.

Mental health parity and mental health care access! "Parity" is insurance policies treating mental illness as they would physical illness. Most whackjobs, such as the guy committing the AZ massacre, and spouse abusers etc. often know they need some help, but where do they go under our system?

Then there is the "drug war" and related gun killings. Drug treatment on demand would lessen the demand for drugs, and of course, also lessen the criminal activities often required for addicts to pay for their habit.

And lastly, thirty round massacre clips were banned under the, now expired, assault weapon legislation. Obviously outlawing does not mean they disappear, but were they banned and no longer mfg'd there would be fewer of them and more difficult for a whackjob to get in the heat of a deranged moment. Same with "cop killer" ammo cheaply imported from China.

jbs

Jack's posting has a number of factual misstatements.
First, the Clinton Era "ban" on "thirty round massacre clips" only prohibited the manufacture and importation of high capacity magazines except for military and law enforcement. Existing dealer stocks and privately owned guns with large capacity were grandfathered in. The current McCarthy proposal goes beyond this and would impose a lot of red tape on even inheriting certain guns.
I must point out that large capacity magazines have a legitimate use. If one has a legitimate need to defend ones self against criminal assault, its better to have too many bullets than too few. Last year in California, a man with an extreme drug problem killed 2 children with a pitchfork. When the police eventually arrived, he attacked them. It took over 33 shots to bring him down. There are dozens of similar stories in the annals of law enforcement.
Finally, I have never seen cheap ammo from China at any gun show or advertised in any gun mag. For obvious reasons, mainland China maintains very tight control of their firearms stocks.

Quentin

While I understand the argument advanced by gun rights supporters that an armed public serves as a check on the abuse of power by government, surely such a check is considerably less than it would have been in the 1790s when both sides would have had roughly the same weapons. In an age when governments possesses the power to drop a laser-guided bomb on someone's house, does it matter whether or not there was a safe full of guns inside?

Handworn

Mr. Posner, how exactly does it help to suggest that "originalist" interpretations of the Constitution are tendentious? Are they really more slanted than any other? Is it tendentious for an attorney to stress the facts and parts of the law he or she thinks will lead to victory? And if it is, then why is "tendentious" any kind of an insult?

I think many people take a conclusion they want reached and work backwards from it to discover which interpretations and principles to argue for that will permit it. But I think those who value the legitimacy of a law or decision most of all have to start with what the authors of the Constitution originally intended and how the populace originally thought of it when considering its ratification. Jefferson thought so. "On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." (Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322)

And on the point of the individual ownership of firearms, the vast majority of quotations from the Founders and the era in which they acted support the "constitutional right to possess guns for personal self-defense" you believe is unwise.

Robert Johnson

In response to Quentin, certainly you have a point. But consider the havoc that has been wreaked with small arms (rifles) in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a few years earlier in Somalia and eastern Europe. The right to bear arms is a significant check on governmental power - and that's one reason it is precluded in so many nations.

Ernesto

This is a rational approach to this hairy issue. Although I would advocate a much harsher ban, I accept Posner's approach is in the riht dorection and seems more palatable than a black-or-white approach.

Now, the "...deeply entrenched and historically understandable gun culture..." phrase gets close to ruining the whole post. Some Middle East warlord could use the exact same words to justify the beheading of infidels.

SM

Do any of you keyboard commandos think you would actually ever hope get either Becker or Posner on even a minor point such as the use of the word "tendentious"? I learn more from reading three sentences written by them than I ever do slogging through the insipid walls-of-text you weird shut-ins care so much to write about. Just shut up already. Newsflash: If you didn't get a degree from a good school, not a single important person on the earth cares about what you have to say about your favorite pet topic, and the only ones that seem to are only feigning interest in order to get you suckers to buy more of their shit or vote for them in the next election.

Jack

JBS -- I stand corrected. Apparently President Clinton banned the importation of Chinese ammo back in 1994. So delete "Chinese" and just leave the armor piercing cop-killer part, OK?

As for the "need" for 30 round clips or more, I suppose such logic might extend to full automatic, 50 caliber stuff replete with bandoliers? Few grenades just in case? But if YOUR kid were in a classroom of 25 kids what size magazine would you hope an intruding whackjob would have?

As for "33 shots to bring him down" (fellow armed with a single pitchfork) most police do have riot guns. Or perhaps with budget cutting they're not getting quite enough time on the practice range?

Thanks for the corrections. but as seems typical with the NRA set nothing at all on the spotty nature of our educational funding, access to mental health care, or, sensibly, lowering the demand for drugs via providing treatment prior to there being a string of crimes and perhaps a few more gun related corpses being added to a pile already 4-5 times higher than in the civilized nations where deadly handguns are FAR less prevalent on their streets.

Perhaps the unusually low rate of gun deaths in gun limited NYC serves as a model?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jack's posting has a number of factual misstatements.
First, the Clinton Era "ban" on "thirty round massacre clips" only prohibited the manufacture and importation of high capacity magazines except for military and law enforcement. Existing dealer stocks and privately owned guns with large capacity were grandfathered in.

The current McCarthy proposal goes beyond this and would impose a lot of red tape on even inheriting certain guns.

I must point out that large capacity magazines have a legitimate use. If one has a legitimate need to defend ones self against criminal assault, its better to have too many bullets than too few. Last year in California, a man with an extreme drug problem killed 2 children with a pitchfork. When the police eventually arrived, he attacked them. It took over 33 shots to bring him down. There are dozens of similar stories in the annals of law enforcement.
Finally, I have never seen cheap ammo from China at any gun show or advertised in any gun mag. For obvious reasons, mainland China maintains very tight control of their firearms stocks.

Posted by: jbs | 02/21/2011 at 10:55 AM

Jack

JBS: Your first post makes a number of thoughtful points and reasons for not banning guns, but somewhat self-centeredly ignores that the facts of our nation having a gun kill ratio four times higher than in Canada, the UK, and Europe and 20 or more times that of Japan. It is those facts that provide ammo for those who would ban guns or strictly limit the packing of deadly handguns (with the aforementioned high capacity magazines and ammo designed for the killing of human beings.

Living in Alaska where guns are often needed tools of survival, subsistence and sport hunting, I'd not favor them being banned.

So where do we find rational compromise? Perhaps there are gains to be made in limitations on packing in our worst killing zones, and idea that seems to be borne out by NYC having, by far, the lowest kill of any large and diverse city.

Further, WERE the NRA to put some of their significant muscle into advocating EQUITABLE and ADEQUATE funding for the schools of ALL of our kids, a H/C system that made mental health service readily available to those such as the Columbine kids, the AZ whackjob and others, and open their minds to a more humane, less costly and more effective approach to America's drug problem, I think they'd get further than simply chanting the "cold dead fingers" mantra accompanied by something other than the "don't give an inch" (as in the assault ban and that of massacre sized clips) regardless of the cost in risk to human life, and of course, the pushback every time there is some horrendous front page event that eclipses the infamous Valentine's Massacre of competing gangsters that killed "only" seven.......... hardly a bad w/e in a major city today.

Jack

Curt: The "guns as political power" and protection from a government gone rogue seems a stretch these days. Over the last 30 years a very wealthy cadre of individuals and (recently even more politically empowered) corporations have peacefully and quietly taken most of what we once had and ensconced behind gated and guarded compounds with several homes and HQ's scattered about the globe have themselves generally protected from either political power or an armed uprising.

But the neutering of citizen owned arsenals from what might have been the gist of the curiously worded Second is hardly a reason for banning them.

www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm4g8D1ILQHahf-ylqwdIbVXL0S3UmBGsE

In relation to statements about "removing . . . guns from the American population" and "hopes of disarming the population", one has to wonder whether the other reference to "a problem that is not dealt with in its early stages" hearkens back to the failed British attempts to disarm American colonists or something much later historically.
As for "the emergence of a gun culture" statement, one also has to wonder exactly how it was that Americans successfully took up their own arms to resist tyranny in 1774 and 1775, prior to the formation of the new states, unless there was something approaching a gun culture already in existence. Perhaps this is a reference to the actual settlement of the American colonies or the much more recent response by Americans to the disarming related attempts of modern gun control advocates.
Regarding "an intellectually untenable ... belief in "originalist" interpretations of the Constitution", it would seem the better approach was reliance on the actual facts of period history rather than the opinions of modern historians. Justice Scalia's Heller majority opinion generally followed the history, while Justice Stevens' dissent was buttressed by the historians assertions about it. Because the historians' Heller brief contained numerous errors of fact, serious historical problems also lie in the Stevens dissent.
The errors in the professional historians' Second Amendment related briefs have been examined and documented at On Second Opinion Blog.
http://onsecondopinion.blogspot.com

AlSeen14

--------
Loopholes in gun-registration laws, such as permitting the sale of guns at gun shows without requiring the screening of purchasers, can be closed.
--------

There is no loophole. Guns purchased from dealers have to have the background check and registration whether at a gun show or a store.

Guns purchased from private individuals, whether at a gun show or in someone's home do not have to have the background check.

Tom in Houston

A quibble: to me it seems clear that the reason gun sales soared during the recent economic crisis was that crisis coincided (roughly) with Obama's coming to office. In reaction, right wing blogs and other forms of media irrationally screeched for months that Obama was secretly going to outlaw gun sales altogether, and a substantial number of gullible, uninformed people who like guns acted fast to collect more firearms.

jbs

Regarding Jack's second posting, more factual errors.

The "cop killer" bullet myth concerned the development in the U.S. of teflon-coated handgun bullets that could supposedly penetrate police body armor. No police officer was ever injured by one; it was a PR stunt by the anti-gun activists. Give something a bad name (like "assault rifle") and ignorant people fall for it. This led to this type of bullet being banned many years ago. Standard police body armor is designed to stop handgun projectiles. Almost any centerfire rifle cartridge can penetrate it.

With respect to the hypothetical, I would want by kid's teacher to be adequately armed and highly trained in its use. When seconds count, who cares if the police are, on the average, only 10 minutes away? In the Tucson incident the whole thing was over in less than 30 seconds; the police arrived 8 minutes after it arrived.

Regarding the pitchfork murders, the news accounts I read of the incident did not mention what the police armament was. Shotguns and patrol rifles are usually kept in the trunk of police cars, not available for immediate use. Shotguns are not a particularly effective police weapon, as illustrated by the 1986 shootout in Miami between 8 FBI agents and 2 bank robbers. This is why they are being replaced by AR15-type rifles in some police departments.

Regarding Jack's third post, the problem here is logic.

The reason why "rational compromise" is a non-starter is that few gun owners think that the advocates of gun control are rational. Their record of intellectual dishonesty has earned them zero credibility. These people are our mortal enemies. If one were to reach some type of compromise, the anti-gun forces would be back next year proposing further compromise with this year's one as the starting point. This is a very silly compromise to begin with: gun owners give up cherished rights and the anti-gun busybodies give up talking points.

The NRA is a special interest group, not a general purpose do-gooder organization. Were it to turn into one, it would lose most of its membership to the dozen or so other national organizations concerned with firearms civil liberty. Most of the other organizations are more hard line than the NRA. If someone wants to belong to a do-gooder group, they have lots of choices now. Disgusting and short-sighted as it is, the NRA is so narrow focused that it has even supported attacks on the First Amendment when it didn't affect them.

Jack

JBS????

Regarding Jack's second posting, more factual errors.

The "cop killer" bullet myth concerned the development in the U.S. of teflon-coated handgun bullets that could supposedly penetrate police body armor. No police officer was ever injured by one; it was a PR stunt by the anti-gun activists. Give something a bad name (like "assault rifle") and ignorant people fall for it. This led to this type of bullet being banned many years ago. Standard police body armor is designed to stop handgun projectiles. Almost any centerfire rifle cartridge can penetrate it.

.......... Many will recall that the assault weapon ban, made illegal guns with several features combining. Such as barrel collars so the user wouldn't be burned by rapid fire, silencers, over-sized magazines and a list of others serving little purpose to the law abiding gun owner. Yes, rifles, often used for hunting larger game are more powerful than handguns -- but! are not nearly as responsible for the deaths of human beings as is the case with hand guns.

With respect to the hypothetical, I would want by kid's teacher to be adequately armed and highly trained in its use. When seconds count, who cares if the police are, on the average, only 10 minutes away? In the Tucson incident the whole thing was over in less than 30 seconds; the police arrived 8 minutes after it arrived.

............. Umm, Yah sure. ONE of the problems in schools today, is that unlike the training that takes place in the private sector, teachers have to teach each day leaving little time for training and updating their skills. You'd like to add training in gun use to their load? As you may know, ONE of the many dangers of being a cop is that of an individual getting control of the officers weapon and using it against him/her. So where in a classroom are we to store the guns? Also....... you mention the AZ massacre, where it seems an armed individual came up just in time to, almost, select the wrong person to fire upon. Now suppose in your classroom setting we've a "whoopsie" resulting in a wrongful death, perhaps from a less than adequately trained gun wielder. You'd like to pitch in on the subsequent law suit and considerable settlement?

Regarding the pitchfork murders, the news accounts I read of the incident did not mention what the police armament was. Shotguns and patrol rifles are usually kept in the trunk of police cars, not available for immediate use. Shotguns are not a particularly effective police weapon, as illustrated by the 1986 shootout in Miami between 8 FBI agents and 2 bank robbers. This is why they are being replaced by AR15-type rifles in some police departments.

Regarding Jack's third post, the problem here is logic.

The reason why "rational compromise" is a non-starter is that few gun owners think that the advocates of gun control are rational. Their record of intellectual dishonesty has earned them zero credibility. These people are our mortal enemies. If one were to reach some type of compromise, the anti-gun forces would be back next year proposing further compromise with this year's one as the starting point. This is a very silly compromise to begin with: gun owners give up cherished rights and the anti-gun busybodies give up talking points.

The NRA is a special interest group, not a general purpose do-gooder organization. Were it to turn into one, it would lose most of its membership to the dozen or so other national organizations concerned with firearms civil liberty. Most of the other organizations are more hard line than the NRA. If someone wants to belong to a do-gooder group, they have lots of choices now. Disgusting and short-sighted as it is, the NRA is so narrow focused that it has even supported attacks on the First Amendment when it didn't affect them.

.......... The description of a p-match is hardly a logic error, as EACH can hurl the same ad hominem attacks. Of course -- logically speaking -- the efforts toward education, mental health care access, a more rational "drug war" and small compromises involving unnecessary firepower being readily available to criminals and whackjobs that LOWER the horrendous rate of gun deaths in our nation would clearly lessen the political power of either gun banners or those seeking the stricter limitations that have been such an unchallenged success in NYC. Indeed those ignoring the social issues I mention and taking the 'hard line' of "don't give an inch" are empowering their opposition.

As for the NRA being so narrowly focused and seeing the gun issue as a simple tug of war - win-lose - it's that myopic, ostrich-like viewpoint against which I warn. Perhaps reconsider the related issues I present as each are win-win-wins for most gun owners and our nation as a whole.

Jack

Definition of assault weapon

Note: there are differing definitions of 'assault weapon' that are listed at Assault weapon. This page refers to the usage in the United States under the previous and proposed assault weapon bans.

Assault weapon refers primarily (but not exclusively) to firearms that had been developed from earlier fully-automatic firearms into semi-automatic civilian-legal versions. Semi-automatic firearms, when fired, automatically extract the spent cartridge casing and load the next cartridge into the chamber, ready to fire again; they do not fire automatically like a machine gun, rather, only 1 round is fired with each trigger pull.

By former U.S. law, the legal term assault weapon included certain specific semi-automatic firearm models by name (e.g., Colt AR-15, TEC-9, non-automatic AK-47s produced by three manufacturers, and Uzis) and other semi-automatic firearms because they possess a minimum set of features from the following list of features:
A semi-automatic Kalashnikov AKM rifle.
An Intratec TEC-DC9 with 32-round magazine; a semi-automatic pistol formerly classified as an Assault Weapon under Federal Law.

Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

* Folding or telescoping stock
* Pistol grip
* Bayonet mount
* Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
* Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device which enables the launching or firing of rifle grenades)

Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

* Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
* Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
* Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold
* Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
* A semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm

Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:

* Folding or telescoping stock
* Pistol grip
* Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds
* Detachable magazine

The earlier term assault rifle refers to rifles that are capable of fully automatic fire. In contrast, the term "assault weapon" refers to weapons capable of semi-automatic fire that had those certain features, as listed above. The ban did not cover "assault rifles", but merely the new category of "assault weapons" which did not include automatic firearms of any type.

Gordon Longhouse

Posner and Becker are probably right and the chance for even the minimum requirement of a national registry of firearms keeping track of them from manufacture (or import) to destruction (or export) is gone.

In the circumstances the best the US can do is harm minimisation and the suggestions they make are probably the best that can be expected in the circumstances.

One issue that they did not take up, was that of the external costs to other countries (especially Mexico) of the US inability to curb firearm ownership. Strict laws against arms smuggling, strictly enforced would be welcomed by the rest of us.

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