Change

I spent the weekend wondering if this time America would change.

I wondered if the reactionary forces protecting an absurdly expansive view of a centuries-old right to bear arms would finally meet their match via an outraged and determined public, a public whose common sense sensibilities may have at last been quickened, quickened at the sight of those harmless little faces who turned out to be, in ways unimaginable, in harms way.

One could be forgiven for being pessimistic, given what we have been through before, given the carnage behind us that materialized in our seemingly safest social settings, and given that nothing, absolutely nothing, not a jot or tittle of our gun laws or the way we deal with mental health issues, has changed.

But I woke up this morning, the morning after President Obama said at that remarkable Sandy Hook prayer vigil, “we will have to change,” and I heard a conservative Republican, Joe Scarborough, a man with whom I rarely agree, give all of us who hope for real change this time reason to believe that change will come:

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40 Comments

  1. Even Joe Manchin, the conservative Democratic Senator (and NRA darling) from WV is calling for change. No citizen needs an automatic rifle.

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  December 17, 2012

    Duane,

    There is considerable room for rare agreement between you and me on this issue, an issue that is fundamentally one of controllng violence in America. In my view however it must be a dual approach. We must both better control guns of all sorts, constitutionally, AND find a way to better diagnose, treat and, most importantly, CONTROL the mentally ill.

    For well over a century the severe mental illness “treatment” was to control such folks institutionally. In the 1960’s we essentially abandoned that approach with broad community services. In my view the mental health professionals went to a “mile wide and inch deep” resolution of mental health problems.

    We need, rather desperately, to expand the discussion over Sandy Hook from JUST a gun control issue to a better way to diagnose, treat and control the mentally ill. I will go so far as to suggest that control of the menatlly ill has now become reliant almost exclusively on our criminal justice system, AFTER the mentally ill ACT insanely. Talk about trying to shut the barn door after the horse is long gone! Wow. That to me seems to be the current social approach to mental illness.

    Gun nuts will fight tooth and nail to prevent the control of guns. But civil libertarians will fight equally hard to deal with the control of mental health issues affecting America today.

    Finding a path forward dealing with BOTH problems is needed in today’s public outrage over Sandy Hook, etc.

    Anson

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  3. Anonymous

     /  December 17, 2012

    300,000,000,000 guns in America. Where do we start?

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  4. I love it that you posted Joe’s monologue today, and I agree with your assertation that hopefully now our leaders will finally enter into a dialogue that addresses all three issues Joe stated this morning. It is the best way to honor those who have lost their lives through all of these senseless tragedies.

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  5. “Guns don’t kill people, they make it easier to kill a lot more people.”

    “I can’t fathom that I live in a society that considers gun ownership to be a right, but health care to be a privilege.”

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  6. kabe

     /  December 17, 2012

    I wonder if he would have said this if he was in office? Although I found it encouraging, I will wait to see other Repubs that are in office follow suit.

    I have seen many comments recently comparing gun ownership to driving an automobile. At first it sort of pissed me off, but the more I thought about they may be onto something. To own and drive a car you must get trained, take a written test, take a visual test, serve a permit period, get insured, get a safety inspection on the car, and many of these steps are repeated and the license can be revoked. I say they are right, lets make owning and operating a gun just like getting an automobile!

    One other thing. The .223 rounds used to gun down these angels are meant for war and war only. These rounds were known to enter say the leg and exit the body through say the neck. There were complaints for these rounds during Viet Nam. No citizen needs these. There is not a worse round of ammo for home protection. It is a small projectile powered by a high dose of powder. To own anything like this should require a license. a safe and insurance, if at all. The military uses armories, many citizens use a closet for these weapons.

    Kabe

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    • You obviously know nothing about firearms.

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      • kabe

         /  December 18, 2012

        Rawhead- Why don’t you explain it then. I carried an M-16 with live rounds for 4 years while I was in the security field in the AF. I received training fro the AF, DOD, Albuquerque PD. I went through the AF SWAT school as well as the Academy for SP’s. I guess they must have lied to us all those years. I also owned one of these guns years ago and sold it when I left the AF because I had no safe place to keep it.

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        • So let me get this straight. In your military training they told you that the .223 Remington was only meant for war and if you shot someone in the leg with one, the bullet had a higher than normal chance of exiting through the neck? They also taught you that the .223 Remington was at the top of the list of cartridges you would not want in a home defense weapon, even above the .458 Win mag and the .50 BMG? The complaints about the 5.56 NATO round in Vietnam were more along the lines of it being too weak and lacking stopping power. So yeah, if they taught you all that stuff, which I doubt, they lied to you.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  December 18, 2012

    Kabe,

    You are “right on” and I agree with stringent liscensing requirements for gun ownership. As well with modern technology every rifled barrel in America should have a ballistic footprint on file along with a serial number. Each barrel should then be directly linked to liscensed ownership.

    Rawhide,

    I used to wear a medal in the military for achieving “expert” status for both rifles and pistols, some of which I could field strip blindfolded. I DO know a “little bit” about fire arms and learned about them “at my father’s knee” long ago. Great RESPECT for the deadly nature of such weapons, used by me as a nine year old for hunting rabbits, was Dad’s prerequisite before he would ever let me “touch a fire arm”. I remember those lessons today!!

    But all of you,

    It is NOT JUST firearms. PEOPLE, particularly unstable people, mentally ill people, are the real danger BEHIND any fire arm. Is that such a “dangerous” subject to “tackle” that we are left doing nothing about such people and the firearms they are allowed to own and even carry today? Just ranting about “guns” is only half the problem in America today, in my view.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  December 18, 2012

      Predictably enough, the only time you’ll hear a conservative speak about the plight of the mentally ill is when precious precious guns are at stake.

      Let’s talk about the mentally ill person at the center of the problem here, and I mean the mother, Nancy Lanza. She made real good money in alimony ($325,000 a year), and lived a comfortable generally threat-free life … despite which, she was hoarding guns and food for when it all comes crashing down. Now, I’ll concede that a gun, singular, could help keep you safe under some circumstances. But when your personal safety becomes such an obsession that you actively prepare for the collapse of society, when you start equating guns with safety and more guns with more safety, when you’ve got more guns than hands to use them, you become part of the problem. But it seems Nancy taught her troubled child to fetishize guns the same way she did, and so when a violent madman finally threatened her in her home, she could not defend herself.

      Yeah, there are a lot of ingredients in a tragedy, and I’m all for expanding ObamaCare to cover a wider range of mental health issues. But the first thing to do is rein in the right wing propaganda machine; start there and we can finally have nice things, such as some sensible limitations on weapons, better health care for all our citizens, and a little more life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

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      • It takes a special kind of crazy to go shoot up a school. I don’t think being raised by a crazy prepper mom had much to do with it.

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        • Maybe being raised by a fear-baited, survivalist mom with too many guns and too much crazy ammo did. More great civilization brought to us by right-wing paranoia-talk radio.

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          • There are plenty of ‘fear-baited, survivalist’ parents out there. Only one raised a kid that shot up a school! Looks like that kid was ‘broken’ from birth.

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        • King Beauregard

           /  December 18, 2012

          Well, he wasn’t able to buy an assault rifle at Dick’s — they turned him down — so he used his mom’s instead.

          I think that qualifies as “having much to do with it”.

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          • You’re confusing issues now. You start a conversation about mental issues and end it with firearm availability. Are you suggesting all firearm owners are mentally ill? That would explain a lot.

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            • King Beauregard

               /  December 18, 2012

              I think that survivalists are mentally ill. I think it’s mentally ill to stockpile guns within reach of a person who has been diagnosed mentally ill.

              But I don’t think it’s mentally ill of you to try to play games about “all firearm owners”, just pretty blatantly stupid.

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              • There’s all sorts of “mentally ill.” Perhaps he never gave his mother the slightest idea that he might pull something like this with guns. There are so many kinds of “mentally ill” that I bet all of us qualify in one or more ways.

                Hey I’m just trying to get a clarification here. You just made a blanket statement about survivalists being mentally ill then declare it “stupid” of me to wonder if you might think all firearms owners have a mental illness?

                I think we can agree that all gun owners are not ‘survivalists’ but many of them are, at least in part. Many hunters certainly qualify. Are they mentally ill?

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                • King Beauregard

                   /  December 18, 2012

                  “You just made a blanket statement about survivalists being mentally ill then declare it ‘stupid’ of me to wonder if you might think all firearms owners have a mental illness?”

                  Yes. You have a good grasp of what just happened.

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  8. henrygmorgan

     /  December 18, 2012

    Rawhead:

    As seldom as Anson agrees with Duane marks the number of times that I agree with Anson, but this time I am in total agreement with him in his support of Kabe. Like Anson, I was raised in a Southern culture that embraced guns and hunting. I received my first weapon when I turned twelve, a 20 guage shotgun..I also received intensive instruction on its use, its care, and safety, lessons were repeated often in the field. Later, in 8 years in the Marine Corps, I learned a great deal about weapons and fired virtually every non-crew served weapon available to us in the fifties, again, along with intensive instruction. One lesson that my Small Arms Instructor, Gunny Hartman, pounded into our heads over and over is that there is no such thing as a gun “accident.”

    Kabe’s comments about guns are right on target, pun intended. No one needs an assault rifle to hunt, or for self-protection. If you can’t accomplish your goal with a single shot, you shouldn’t be allowed to own a weapon. The old adage “One shot, one kill.” should apply. I own several weapons, all legally purchased and registered with local police, and I have no objections to supplying any ballistic identification necessary to the authorities, as Anson advocates.

    Why do you people assume that anyone who calls for “gun control” is opposed to gun ownership? And why do so many of you think that shooting another human being, even if he is invading your home, is easy to do? Have you ever been faced with the situation?

    Henry:

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    • I don’t recall saying that shooting someone would be easy. Where did that come from? I simply noted that Kabe’s comments showed a lack of knowledge about guns. Kabe seemed to be demonizing the .223 Remington, which has become a popular sporting cartridge since its introduction in the ’60s. It’s actually quite a puny round compared to some out there and in the global scope of things, just not very ‘powerful’ at all and certainly doesn’t have any special design features that would allow it to enter a leg and find its way out through a neck. I’ll agree that it wouldn’t be my choice for ‘home protection’ but it’s certainly not the worst choice one could make. It was an absurd string of statements that deserved to be called out as the bullshit it was. One shouldn’t mindlessly parrot something they read on subjects they know nothing about.

      While my evidence is purely anecdotal, most of the people I know keep their firearms locked up. I think it’s the responsible thing to do but shouldn’t be pushed on anyone by government.

      I’ll tend to agree with you, from an efficiency standpoint, that one should be able to hunt effectively with a single shot rifle. However, it’s obvious from the huge number of assault rifle owners out there that never shoot up schools that the average American CAN be trusted with them. Many people just do not understand the scope in which gun culture has become entwined with American society in general. I invite you, as I invited Jim Wheeler on another blog, to attend a large gun show such as the semi-annual Tulsa Arms Show and see first hand just how many assault rifles are in private hands and how much ammunition is out there. You’ll easily realize what an absurd proposition “banning assault rifles” actually is and what outliers school shooters are.

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      • kabe

         /  December 18, 2012

        Rawhead, I encourage you and others here to look up .233 remington on wikepedia. Judge for yourselves. Your damn right I am demonizing this ammo. The wikepedia version explains that the small round can fragment and can cause serious internal damage to humans. You have confirmed some of what I have said in that it is a small projectile and does not make a good home protection weapon. To say it is not powerful is a mistake in my opinion. The rate that it travels makes it lethal. I can only imagine what it did to these small children. While I was in the AF we were given a demonstration of this ammo piercing through steel plates and bullet proof vests. I am not parroting anything here. I am using my personal experience with this weapon. You have put out some bold statements here, but that is all. If you are calling bullshit, then please offer some knowledge. This woman was wrong to need this gun for home protection,wrong to train her son to use it, and wrong to not properly store it.( Since she was shot in her sleep tells me it was not stored properly.)

        Kabe

        I will repeat that I used this weapon for 4 years while in the AF with extensive training.

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        • Funny that the Wikipedia article you referenced seems to refute your statement that the cartridge is used for ‘war and war only’. I know from my own experience with military training that they tend to teach you only what you need to know and no more so I don’t blame you for being a bit ignorant.

          Please, I’d like to hear more about the .223’s exceptional ability to enter through the leg and exit the neck…

          Maybe the mom was a bit stupid. Maybe she just trusted her son of all people not to shoot her in the face while she slept. Crazy theory, I know.

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          • kabe

             /  December 18, 2012

            Rawhead, You are showing your ignorance.I had never formed an opinion on you, but now understand how others have. It is my belief that this weapon has no use in a home or our civilian society. What is so hard to understand about that? It was created for war, but just for you, I concede that others may want use this ammo if for no other reason than the 2nd amendment says they can! Are you saying that M-16s, when created, had civilian use in mind? Also, are you saying that this round could not enter one area and exit another? This was one example by a DOD instructor who had been in Viet Nam. I have no reason to doubt what he told us. But, just for you, go shoot yourself in any limb and let us know how things work out for you.

            Kabe

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            • Yeah I suppose I have a bit of a reputation here. Mainly for simply having a differing viewpoint than others though, and asking people to explain their reasoning. It seems, though, that most of the commentators on this blog simply like to get together and reassure each other that they’re correct and just get upset when someone comes in and makes the suggestion that they might be wrong or that others have differing viewpoints worthy of merit.

              You’re entitled to your own opinion, however, plenty of people using the .223 Remington every day for purposes other than war prove you’re wrong. Simple as that.

              Stay focused, Kabe. We’re talking about the .223 Remington cartridge, not the M-16. One debate at a time please. Don’t feel bad though, King Beauregard couldn’t decide if we were talking about mental health issues or gun availability issues earlier.🙂

              W

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              • kabe

                 /  December 19, 2012

                Rawhead, you seem to agree with most of what I have said, except you have a hard time believing that a round of this caliber could enter and exit a body in an indirect line. Fine, if that is what you believe. I never said it happened every time this round is used. I doubt something like this would happen often, but it shows the characteristic of this round. It can cause death by striking a human in a non-lethal body part due to it breaking apart and shards of the round damaging vital body parts. Now, I have not claimed to be gun expert, which you have alluded to. I do know about the M-16, Mini14, AR-15, which all use .223 ammo. Now, you stay focused, the M-16 uses .223 ammo. Now, this issue along with many other weapons will be debated nationally very soon. I can only hope that the Gun Freaks approach this issue as
                you have. If so, they will lose to common sense approaches to guns, and they will lose badly.

                Kabe

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                • Kabe,

                  I apologize if I’ve misunderstood what you said originally, but to someone who does know something about guns, and has been around them and used them (mostly) responsibly all his life, your original statements appeared naive and misleading. Especially the statement about the .223 being used ‘only for war’ which was incorrect.

                  I haven’t even really approached the issue, as I don’t believe people like you and people like me will ever see eye to eye on this subject. Luckily, “people like me” make up around half of the general U.S. population and more than half of the U.S. Supreme Court. Let me try one more time, though, to make my original point. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that sets the .223 apart from virtually every other centerfire rifle cartridge in its class other than its use in the AR-15 (and its descendants). There are plenty of bolt-action rifles (and even single-shots) chambered for it. Should the round itself be banned no matter what type of firearm it’s used in?

                  thegeneralist provides another great example of why we’ll never see eye-to-eye with his pre-conceived notions about me and my kind being ready to ‘bust a cap’ in the asses of anyone who disagrees with us. I’m sure there are people like that, but I don’t know any personally. Yet another with Jim Wheeler and his .50 caliber tangent, which serves only to fuel the anti-gun circle jerk you guys have going and really adds nothing to the argument.

                  I’ve also seen Anson Burlingame provide thoughtful commentary here only to be derided for his poor grammar with very little thought given to his opinion. I did not expect to be well received🙂

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            • C’mon, people! You’re not gonna convert Rawmeat. He’s nuts. He’s the shooters’ (all of ’em) spiritual father: Darth Vader, ready to bust a cap in someone’s ass because they don’t agree with him. Boy, I sure hope he doesn’t have Jim’s or Kabe’s home address.

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  9. Everyone writing in and on this post, the Generalist, Anson, Dawn, Kabe, King and Henry, all appear to have a sensible opinion of the issue, except Rawhead of course. I am heartened that something positive might actually get done, some sensible limitation on weapons that squirt bullets like water from a hose.

    Here’s some food for thought, everyone. It occurred to me to look up information on 50 cal. rifles, something I recall from a years-past 60 Minutes CBS segment. What I found is disturbing – such weapons are sold just like any other rifle in this country, California excepted apparently, and all records of the sale are expunged within 24 hours of the sale! Or so the article states, as of February, 2009. These things are accurate at 2,000 yards and pierce armor plate. Is this where we draw the line? Or should we extend ownership and “privacy” rights to shoulder-launched missiles while we’re at it?

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    • What’s sensible about banning a weapon that is used sensibly by 99+% of the people who own them?

      You’re just going off on meaningless tangents with the .50 caliber thing now.

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      • @ Rawhead,

        I’m surprised I need to explain the reason I brought up the .50 caliber thing. It’s not a “meaningless tangent”, it was to demonstrate the lack of sensible legislative limits to the public ownership of weapons.

        Why is it we aren’t allowed to own a nuclear bomb? Conventional bombs? How about shoulder-launched anti-air missiles? Mortars? Land mines? Cannons?

        I will concede that I know of only one misuse of any of the many .50 caliber rifles now out in the public, that being the use of one by the Branch Davidians, but the potential of such by terrorists is significant in my opinion. What if a terrorist with the mentality of the D.C. sniper decides to use one in the way he did? He could wreak havoc from a mile away.

        The point is that there is a need relative to public safety to draw a line somewhere and in the opinion of many of us it is currently drawn way too high.

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        • You’ll be happy to know then, that .50 caliber is more or less the limit… at least without going through a bunch of extra trouble.😉 I believe smooth-bore black powder cannons are completely legal and if you weren’t going off on a tangent before, you are now with the nukes and missiles🙂

          You guys are full of “what if’s” which could be continued ad infinitum. The fact is that the vast majority of gun owners never do anything even remotely malicious with their firearms and just because YOU don’t see use or value in something doesn’t mean that plenty of others don’t.

          Why is it that you people laugh at the paranoia of survivalists but fail to recognize your own paranoia about firearms owners misusing their weapons when, in fact, it just doesn’t happen that often?

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      • OK, Rawhead,

        Instead of more “what-ifs” from “us people”, might it be persuasive if I told you there was a developed country with a strong cultural affinity for firearms, a country with a frontier history similar to ours that reduced their incidences of gun massacres from thirteen in the 18 years prior to enacting a strict new gun law to zero in the 16 years since enacting them? And what if I told you the new law virtually eliminated private ownership of assault rifles and large ammunitions clips? And what if I told you the overall homicide rate in that country dropped from 0.43 per 100,000 prior to the law to only 0.1 per 100,000, a rate 33 times less than in America? That is a true story from today’s USA Today newspaper, and the people of that country, by the way, have not been enslaved by their government as a consequence.

        If you bother to follow the link, by the way, you will see another link to an “opposing view” which you will no doubt espouse. It claims that “The homicide rate was already declining” before the law was enacted. That is vapid and unsupported reasoning but it will fit nicely with your own immovable position on the subject. In the meantime, watch with the rest of us the heartbreaking school photos of the Sandy Hook victims as their tiny caskets are planted each day.

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        • Jim,
          I haven’t been living under a rock and I’m well aware of Australia’s gun laws. I’ll read the article after while though, when I get more time.

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        • K I read the article. One thing I do agree with is that a cultural shift will have to take place before anything near the level of gun control they have can be successfully implemented here. You guys are underestimating the scope of the gun culture here in the good ole USA… AND their political power. Tulsa gun show, April 6th & 7th, you and Duane should go. Also the Oklahoma Full Auto shoot would be a good event for you guys to attend. Take a few hundred cash if you want to shoot anything though.

          http://www.tulsaarmsshow.com/

          http://www.oklahomafullauto.com/

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  10. Robert J Roberts

     /  December 19, 2012

    I don’t think I have heard anyone here comment on that Second Amendment pesky phrase, “A well regulated militia,” that begins the Amendment. Seems to me that would require gun owners to be part of a militia. Am I wrong? The word “regulation” suggests there should be controls.

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    • King Beauregard

       /  December 20, 2012

      My opinion: the “well-regulated militia” verbiage is there so people don’t get the wrong idea, i.e. that gun ownership is about the right to overthrow the government. I don’t believe you’ll find comparable verbiage elsewhere in the Bill of Rights: they don’t say why there should be freedom of the press, or why a person shouldn’t be forced to testify against himself, but they do go out of their way on the Second Amendment.

      By the way, the Constitution names only one crime (“treason”) as well as its penalty (“death”), and taking up arms against your government would certainly count as treason. So that’s more evidence that the Constitution doesn’t come with a “self destruct switch” in the form of the Second Amendment.

      I’m sure many of the Founding Fathers were aware of the irony that their new government was banning the sort of activity that allowed their new government to come into existence in the first place. But when you’re designing a functioning government, one of its core functions needs to be defending itself from threats, and the Founding Fathers still had to address that. So on the one hand they came up with a system that allows for change as needed in the form of legislation, elections, and amendments; but on the other hand their system had to insist that you make changes WITHIN that system.

      So what we “know” is that the Second Amendment explicitly allows for militias, while the rest of the Constitution disallows taking up arms against the government. But as far as I can tell, the Constitution is otherwise silent on which uses of guns are protected and which are not, and of course the Constitution doesn’t say a thing about which types of weapons a person should have.access to. That all is subject to legislation, I believe.

      … Well except for 18th century weapons. The Founding Fathers were speaking in an environment of 18th century weapons, so if it had been invented by 1787, your right to bear it definitely shall not be infringed. Muskets, bows, atl-atls, halberds, rapiers, crossbows, slings, and so on.

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      • King B has made a good analysis of the second Amendment issue here, in my opinion. There is no other reason I can think of for the founders to have inserted the militia justification other than to constrain the right to bear arms, and Roberts is right to point out the significance of the word “regulation”.

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