Gun Issues

When the nation was reformed under the US Constitution, the country ratified the Second Article of Amendment of the Constitution, which stipulated the right to be armed in defense of the nation. The US Supreme Court has ruled that this right includes the individual’s right to be armed, outside of a militia (roughly because, if the individual is not armed, how can the militia really be so).

But we have random shootings happening, and we wonder what we should do about it. Some claim that we should limit the amount of automatically fed ammunition that firearms support. That we should pick and choose which guns should be sold. That we should have waiting periods and background checks. Others say we should focus on mental health care: that people who kill people are obviously disturbed, and they should be treated to prevent these incidents.

There are a lot of guns in the country, most of which are owned by law-abiding folks who are reasonably responsible. They want to keep owning guns, keep going hunting, keep target practicing. They have a bit of a fear or concern of government encroachment of these activities, too.

But nobody wants more people shot. We just haven’t figured out how to act. So we wait. We wait for the breakthrough that will let us do something, anything, about the problem, or around the problem.

The gun control crowd thinks that it’s insane we can’t just crack down on guns. Make them be registered, make them harder to obtain, they say.

The gun owning crowd thinks that it’s insane we can’t just arm everybody. Make them ubiquitous, make anyone looking to shoot someone worry about being shot right back, they say.

Then there are a lot of other issues that get brought up in the mix. How should the media cover such tragedy? How did the candidates respond? How many times does this have to happen before we try something? Anything?

I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is, but a couple of things do stand out:

The gun lobby, if they want to keep their guns, should be leading the charge to try to get non-control solutions enacted. The fact that they only whine and repeat tired lines about their cold, dead hands means they’re begging to have their guns taken away, rightly or not.

The pro-gun folks are constantly on defense, because these are gun issues. Barring some major change in culture and language, these will remain gun issues. Moreover, they fail to support reform of any sort, mainly out of fear that if and when it fails to produce the desired result, they will have a harder time blocking gun control.

So, their strategy is to do nothing, even though these are issues about which they choose to concern themselves.

The gun control side should push divestment and other economic leverage strategies if they believe their cause is just. They don’t have the legislative route, but money is louder than law anyway. The fact that there is no high-profile divestment and boycott is an equal sign of complacency as the gun lobby’s inaction.

But they don’t do that. The control side is a lot less organized and vocal. The fact that they do not have a legislative caucus, capable of legislating, means they feel like they can’t do anything. They haven’t found the traction to build any sort of national movement, and they’re as afraid as the gun folks that if they try a big push and fall, they will lose any credibility and set their movement back even more.

So we have a stalemate of inaction. Neither side dares to actually do anything meaningful. And so the only people doing anything are the shooters, with their meaningless violent acts that bring horror and dismay to us time after time.

But, if either side acts, the stalemate will get broken, and something will change (successfully or not). If both sides act as above, the stalemate will still get broken, and something will change (successfully or not). This seems to be a case where any action would be preferable to no action. Either side, literally doing just about anything, that would be something.

Waiting for Congress to elect a speaker, to swing to the Democrats, to figure out that none of us call post offices by their pet names so they might as well stop bothering, that’s all futile. Congress is proving that although we do need government, we can get by without a legislature. We won’t do great things, but we won’t just fall apart if the GOP decides it has better things to do than govern.

The Need for Extreme Moderates

Goldilocks, the famous larcenist and squatter of bear homes, was once noted by the New York Times [This is not true.] as being an extreme moderate. Unfortunately, she was devoured by her victims, so the world missed its chance for her to expound on her positions.

But in the current political world of the USA, extremism rules the day. The extremes of corporatism and corporatism. Gone are the extreme moderates that have never existed and yet have prevailed by virtue of the fact that the government used to need to be functional.

These days, the corporations don’t depend on the government being functional, as they have the legal muscle to dodge any stray bullets from the contraption that is the modern government. Indeed, some of the corporations actively bet on dysfunction to keep their businesses thriving.

The only honest course for the world is one of extreme moderation. We must cut spending and raise taxes. We must invest in our infrastructure while avoiding supporting industries that ought to decline. We must provide a climate of relative certainty for our citizens, both against undue regulation and affirmatively that if they take a risk to start a business, their very lives aren’t at stake.

If you read the Constitution, you find extreme moderation. The right to religious freedom is extremely moderate, neither recognizing nor barring any set of religious beliefs. The right to free speech is extremely moderate, neither favoring nor barring speech. The right to keep and bear arms is extremely moderate, neither forcing the issue nor allowing it to be overtaken by an overzealous government.

The whole document is utterly balanced, at least in its intention.

When it comes to our current predicaments, it seems as though moderation is the filthiest word available. Nobody is willing to take the moderate position, in fear that one extreme or the other will drag them askance.

Let me be clear I am not speaking to social issues when speaking of moderation. Social issues have little place in the law. Gay peoples’ right to marry exists, and the government’s failure to recognize it is not legitimate. Women have the right to determine their bodily activities, and the government’s attempt to thwart that is not legitimate. Individuals have a right to due process, and national security is only a legitimate defense if the government can show that they have taken all necessary steps to attempt to mitigate that issue and protect civil rights.

Most of our current issues involve the size and scope of government. It is there that I point to moderation. There is a bright line, where on the one side you have private businesses engaging in public commerce using private resources, and on the other you have private businesses engaging in public commerce using public resources. In the former case, only minimal regulation ought be allowed. In the latter case, the public has the right to the benefit of our shared resources.

On defense, we have an interest in defending our nations, but only to the point needed, and that point is not based on the geopolitical climate of 60 years gone. When you have crossed the river, you do not carry the boat around on your back the rest of your life.

It is disrespectful to the generations past, present, and future, that we would waste our precious time trying to have everything at once, rather than one thing at a time.

The one side speaks of limited government, seeing the glass nearly empty. The other speaks of limited government, seeing the glass as nearly full. I’m not that thirsty, but I am yet thirsty. I’ll take a half-glass of government.

“…remains confident…”

Talk about balls!

The slightly longer quote:

Chief Stump’s priority is to ensure that the public remains confident in the department’s ability to keep the campus safe.

[Source: UFL “incident”]

Yeah. Like they’re real confident at the moment. The fact is that anyone anywhere has a right to be told, “you are under arrest” before they are manhandled EXCEPT in cases where they have already acted violently or shown they intend to do so.

If you want them to leave the venue you must first ask them, and if they do not do so then and only then may you tell them, “we are not arresting you, but are escorting you from the premises” and only if they do not then comply may you use any force upon them.

And when you have them on the ground, subdued, you may not induce an electrical current through their bodies to force compliance.

But what the hell do I care, I’ve got my own busy life to worry about, right?

Right?

Anyway, the video is kind of strange. Hopefully the ‘incident’ and subsequent investigation will promote discussion about these sorts of political forums, the state of political dialog in general.

But the main thing to remember is unless you are actively trying to entice others to violence (eg fighting words) or pose some sort of clear threat to those around you then physical force is unacceptable. It’s also a good idea, if a police officer does grab you, to remain calm, consider yourself immediately under arrest.

Apparently he’s been charged with resisting an officer (different from resisting arrest? doubtful.) and disturbing the peace. If you ask me, seeing a fellow citizen go from asking a question to being arrested without any indication of crime, and then to being subjected to a weapon is much more disturbing than someone taking too long or asking a question that might be unpopular.

car tags

Just one of the reasons I have my doubts about the viability of libertarianism:

This piece of Alabama legislation that provides all privately owned vehicles may at the owner’s discretion display a ‘distinctive’ ‘god bless america’ license plate for no additional fee (except issuance of the new plate).

Maybe the libertarian line is that no one should need a driver’s license or license plate, and that there should be no public roads in the first place. But ultimately the libertarians seem to want to shut down most of the federal government and let states do as they please in these matters. On the one hand, it surely would increase competition between states. On the other hand, there’s no real evidence that it would improve conditions in states where things are already idiotic.

And that leads to the following question: If Iraq became a mecca for liberty, freedom, open and honest and glorious human spirit, would it encourage the neighbors to change? I’m sure it would encourage change, but whether that change would be the right kind or not is a different matter.

Committee of Public Safety

You know, this Paris Hilton thing is blown way out of proportion. While I can understand the masses eating it up like whatever that American’s name is that broke the world hot dog eating record, there’s a fundamental question of equitable justice in every single case of criminal justice.

Does this incarceration make the public safer than they would be if the person or persons convicted were let free? I don’t believe society has the right to imprison an individual for anything less than an immediate threat to the safety of others and I don’t believe this test is applied in even 1% of criminal cases. We’ve become a society where rights are foreclosed in total without the application of reason.

People feel like it’s about equal justice for all, but that’s only half of the equation for a fair and just society. Fairness is the other half.

If everyone receives equal treatment and that treatment is cruel and unusual, excessive, or in some other way unfair then the system is just as corrupt as one that convicts the poor and releases the rich. And just because the system is corrupt in the latter way does not make it right to approve of its corruption in the former when it does convict a rich person.

I say let her go and affect her in some other way than incarceration. It’s way too expensive and does not make the public safer.