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Posted by on Jan 10, 2013 in Debate, In the news, Philosophy, Politics | 22 comments

More on guns and demonizing Sam Harris (2)

In my previous post I touched briefly on arguments of the kind that says, “It won’t happen to me.” These arguments argue against regulating an activity in a way that forbids it to people like me, because people like me can avoid the relevant risks associated with the activity.

If this was just arguing that I should have a special privilege, it would have no merit – why should lawmakers take any notice of that claim? Furthermore, in a large class of cases I will be deluding myself if I act in the relevant way. For example there is no reason to believe that I am less vulberable than others to the health risks from smoking. If I think otherwise, I’m probably fooling myself.

Nonetheless, perhaps surprisingly, arguments along the lines of “It won’t happen to me” can be perfectly good ones in some cases. Activity X many be one that has certain risks to the individual (or to others) that can largely be eliminated if an individual adopts precautions A, B, and C. It may turn out that a certain amount of rational planning and self-discipline (and perhaps training) are required to adopt precautions A, B, and C., and that, alas, many individuals fail, in practice to take those precautions. Accordingly, activity X ends up  causing much harm.

Nonetheless, it does not follow that activity X should be prohibited. And indeed, someone can know that she is well-placed to take the relevant precautions (she may already have experience of doing so, she may have undertaken whatever training is needed, she may have analogous experiences with other activities, and she may simply know from a range of experiences that she is an adequately disciplined person).

I can think of numerous examples of this. In such cases, we may well trust our own judgments about whether we, as individuals, can take adequate precautions against a paricular set of risks. If the risks are large enough, the government may impose some kind of licensing scheme to encourage people to take the precautions, and there may be risks of criminal penalties or liability for civil suits for people who don’t undertake them. If the risks are very great, especially if they fall heavily on others, it may make policy sense to impose a ban, but it cannot simply be assumed that all activities like this should be banned. Indeed, the liberal approach is surely to introduce sweeping bans, as opposed to regulatory requirements, licensing, etc., only as a last resort.

Now, Sam Harris may be wrong to think that he is well-placed to own handguns without it turning out to be counter-productive, risky for others, etc., as it is for many or most other people. But we can’t simply assume that his reasoning is fallacious here. Perhaps he is better placed – because of his character, training, knowledge, understanding, or whatever – than most to be able to take due precautions. If so, there is an argument that the law should be able to recognise this, perhaps in a scheme of checks and licences.

I also see that Jean Kazez – another person whom I have time for – has written a very brief post that is dismissive of Harris. The problem with this is sort of thing is that it does not advance intellectual understanding. Jean’s only stated complain is that Harris supposedly thinks that the NRA is more enlightened on the topic of gun control than The New York Times, as if this is so absurd that no argument against it is even necessary. That, however, is a path that we should be very wary of taking. In some circumstances, a conclusion will, indeed, be so absurd that it casts doubt on the premises, or even the good faith of the person putting the argument, but we should be careful when that person is known to be intelligent and thoughtful, the conclusion is politically controversial rather than going against near-universal common sense, and it is really not clear without further inquiry what the conclusion even amounts to. It is better to look at the detail of the conclusion (and the supporting argument, if any) than simply dismiss it.

Note that Harris explicitly expresses “outrage” at the influence of the NRA, and says he finds it (viewed objectively) evidence of “collective psychosis” that the gun lobby and the topic of guns are so politically important in the US. (I agree.) Even when he says that the NYT editorial makes the NRA view seem enlightened by comparison, the clear intent is to say that the editorial it is even less enlightened than the NRA’s (unenlightened position). Harris may be wrong about that, but what he seems to be getting at is not that the NRA’s position is enlightened (indeed, he seems to have nothing but contempt for the NRA) but that the NYT editorial is “unenlightened” in the sense of being emotionally overwrought and revealing an ignorance about guns.

As far as those claims go, Harris doesn’t seem all that far off the mark (as it were). At the same time, the editorial makes a legitimate point: that there are documented cases where ready resort to guns by police and others has proved to be ineffectual and maybe even counterproductive. I don’t think Harris ever answers this very effectively. Furthermore, in partial defence of Kazez, Harris’s discussion of the NYT editorial seems like an unnecessary, perhaps distracting, excursion – it doesn’t add much to the logic of his argument. As it is worded, it is an unnecessary provocation.

In the end it would best for all concerned to focus on policy proposals and arguments for them. As to that, Harris seems to think that banning civilian ownership of military (or similar) rifles, something that could be done under current constitutional interpretation, would be a worthwhile action, if only for symbolic purposes, but would not save large numbers of lives, since most deaths in the US associated with guns are not caused by these weapons but by handguns. He also seems to favour limiting magazines to ten rounds, as well as instituting rigorous checking and licensing of civilian ownership of legal weapons. To his credit, he admits that doesn’t have the full solution, though he thinks that a lot of the problem relates to the existence of drug gangs, itself the product of the socially counterproductive war on drugs – so he seems to favour an end to the war on drugs.

These all seem like good policy proposals as far as they go, even if many of us would hope to go further. I think Harris has got into trouble partly because he has written the article in a somewhat contrarian spirit, arguing with people who agree with him in wanting more gun control… and partly because he does not set out clearly in one place what his policy recommendations actually are. Oh, and perhaps because he sees some social utility in guns, which is going to be anathema to many people. Still, as I reread the piece I don’t see anything like a rant, or someone being irrational – on the contrary, I see a thoughtful, generally quiet piece that is worth consideration and careful debate.

Harris is right about some things – for a start, it would be constitutionally difficult in the US to impose a total prohibition of civilian handguns. Perhaps this will require a separate post from me, but I don’t think we can work on the basis that District of Columbia v. Heller is bad law that can be safely ignored… and even you think that the case was wrongly decided, there is no prospect that it will be overturned any time soon. That means that any package of reforms will be limited in what weapons it can ban and how heavily it can regulate ownership of other weapons. That being so, constitutionally permissible bans on certain kinds of guns may not be able to achieve much by themselves. And Harris is also right if he’s suggesting that there is unlikely to be such a groundswell of public opinion as to overwhelm District of Columbia v. Heller (forcing a skeptical reconsideration of it by a reconstituted court, or leading to a constitutional change to overrule it).

So any package of reforms will need to be consistent with District of Columbia v. Heller, however unsatisfactory that may be, and there is at least a theoretical possibility that a law which goes only as far as allowed by this case could, perversely, be worse than no law at all. That is certainly not my position, and I don’t think Harris holds it either, but actual policies will have to take into account the possibility of perverse outcomes as well as the realities of what is achievable.

Harris does seem to think that merely banning machine-guns, military rifles, and the like (which is constitutional) could turn out to be counterproductive because it would distract from taking other measures that might actually be more effective for reducing deaths by firearms (such as, I take it, ending the war on drugs, addressing urban poverty, etc.). Surely this is at least possible. An electorate concerned that “something must be done” might be bought off by such a populist measure, even though it is likely to have relatively little statistical effect because these sorts of weapons don’t cause a large proportion of gun-related deaths.

In my view – and Harris doesn’t seem opposed to this, as he says to ban these weapons by all means – such a ban could nonetheless be useful. It might save some lives by itself, but it could also form a symbolically striking component of a carefully worked out package that would actually be useful, one which might take gun control as far as the constitution (as interpreted by the US Supreme Court) allows, while also including a raft of other measures.

All of this is somewhat imponderable. My aim is not to offer an overall solution to the problem of guns, on which I am not expert, but merely to counsel that we take a charitable approach to arguments that might initially seem unwelcome to us, looking for their possible strengths to see what this tells us. This will not only tend to make us fairer in our treatment of interlocutors – it can also help us find gaps in our knowledge, difficulties with our own positions, and perhaps even solutions that we hadn’t previously considered. Alas, I don’t claim to have discovered any exciting new solutions to gun policy, but at least the arguments put by Harris might inspire good discussion. That discussion just might lead us to some approaches that have merit (and which we would not otherwise have found). It’s worth a try.

  • keddaw

    Fully automatic weapons are highly regulated and very few deaths are caused by them, certainly by legal ones.
    Banning so-called assault rifles because they look like fully automatic rifles is just stupid. Look up the law on how a weapon becomes ‘assault’, it is a pick and mix of some enhanced features and some cosmetic. As Harris also points out, it is an affront to common sense to ban the most visible of guns when the vast, vast majority of deaths are caused by handguns.

    So, most likely scenario, they re-pass the Brady Bill which will do nothing for actual crime stats but will make people feel like they’ve done something and further alienate gun owners.

    If people want real change, organise to force a repeal of the 2nd Amendment. Or try to get the well-regulated part passed so that there is a (local) State-based training/licensing scheme teaching people how to safely store and use firearms before they are allowed to own any. We do it for cars, I see no reason it can’t/shouldn’t be done for guns.

  • Russell, Sam Harris is a titan of the atheist movement. I truly loved his book The End of Faith I don’t think, though, that I have to be deferential to him. There’s a lot of space between deference and demonizing, and I think I’m comfortably in that space. I have to point out that at the same time you’re accusing me of impropriety, you’ve also been praising Reap Paden as someone people should read and follow. His extreme incivility is apparently OK in your book, but I’m not to gently mock Sam Harris. I did actually listen to some of your interview with Paden and I believe you when you say you’re a pro-feminist man, but there’s something a little fishy here. You seem to be too comfortable with men attacking feminist women (Paden is allowed to call Zvan “dumb” and a “bitch” etc etc), but uncomfortable with women (like me) attacking atheist men (even when it’s just a matter of gentle mockery). It’s puzzling…

    But now to focus on Sam Harris. I didn’t have time to write a proper response, and still don’t have time (I’m preparing to teach a new class and have visitors). I see Sam Harris as a polemicist and a deliberate provocateur. He is full of righteous indignation, but in this situation he’s pointed it in the wrong direction. In his book The End of Faith, he was rightly concerned with all the people killed on 9/11. In this situation, he has undue concern for the poor, misunderstood gun-owner (like himself). This is irritating. After a massacre in which 20 tiny, defenseless children were slaughtered, and 6 brave teachers, we all need to be focused on preventing the next disaster.

    It’s also irritating the way he professes consequentialism in The Moral Landscape, but doesn’t take a consequentialist approach to the problem of gun violence. He tells us too much about the fantasies of gun owners (they want to stop bad guys from raping their wives and daughters, etc. etc.), instead of focusing on what’s really important–what happens when everyone is armed with high-capacity weapons or even just handguns? The answer is that there are more murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. If you say you’re still entitled to have your guns, despite the higher mortality rate, you’ve got to think there’s some fundamental right to gun-based self-defense. That’s problematic for two reason: (1) the appeal to rights doesn’t make sense in a consequentialist framework. (2) Even if you did believe in rights, it seems completely daft to regard gun-ownership as a fundamental right. The liberty to use guns is nothing like liberties of conscience, etc., so does not deserve the same protection.

    I don’t have time to flesh out all those points, but here are some great editorials. In response to Harris, I think Andrew Brown is entirely right to chide him for focusing on gun owners’ fantasies.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2013/jan/07/sam-harris-faith-guns

    The best thing I’ve seen on gun control is philosopher Jeff McMahan’s editorial (not a response to Harris)–

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/why-gun-control-is-not-enough/

    About Harris saying Wayne LaPierre is more enlightened on guns than the NYT. This is blatant nonsense, and I’m sure Harris knows it. As you say, it’s a provocation. LaPierre is a very dangerous gun fanatic (literally–this is not an exaggeration) who has had a horrendous influence on the US for years. The man has blood on his hands (again, literally). There is just no merit whatever to Harris’s assertion, and no need to treat it with deference.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    Russell writes;

    “My aim is not to offer an overall solution to the problem of guns, on
    which I am not expert, but merely to counsel that we take a charitable
    approach to arguments that might initially seem unwelcome to us, looking
    for their possible strengths to see what this tells us. This
    will not only tend to make us fairer in our treatment of interlocutors –
    it can also help us find gaps in our knowledge, difficulties with our
    own positions, and perhaps even solutions that we hadn’t previously
    considered.”

    Your in luck. I am something of an expert on firearms. As a former licensed gunsmith, target shooter, hunter, gun collector, military historian, and until recently, a Life Member of the NRA, I have a pretty firm grasp of the issue. Previously you asked me to comment about my views on gun control. I did as you asked, and now stand ready to take my place as one of your interlocutors on the subject.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    Jean writes;

    “That’s problematic for two reason: (1) the appeal to rights doesn’t make
    sense in a consequentialist framework. (2) Even if you did believe in
    rights, it seems completely daft to regard gun-ownership as a
    fundamental right.”

    I am particularly concerned with your reference to “belief” in this context. Especially since the Supreme Court has upheld the right — yes right — for individual citizens to bear arms. Unlike Harris, and despite the quibbles I have about some of his statements, yours is not a reasonable, pragmatic approach to the problem. His is.

    Undoubtedly we would be better off having an intelligent, informed discussion of what can be done about gun control in this country instead digging in on ground that is tactically and strategically ineffective. The Main Line of Resistance, so to speak, should be proximate to the middle ground, which on any graph, is the high ground of public opinion in this country.

  • RussellBlackford

    I do agree with Jean that the right to bear arms is a pretty daft “fundamental right”. My view of moral rights is basically “nonsense on stilts”, but I am not at all against rights in the sense of restrictions on government power to put aspects of our private lives beyond reach of easy government intervention.
    But the idea that being able to carry around a deadly weapon falls into that category looks pretty crazy to almost anyone outside the US. It is a product of very times and ways of thinking.
    Nonetheless, it’s written into the constitution. One huge advantage that we had here in Australia in 1996 was that there was no such constitutional provision to overcome. There was also no real tradition of thinking of a right to bear arms as some sort of essential right in a liberal democracy (just see how funny that sentence even sounds when it’s put in that way).
    As I remarked in one of the other posts, there was some opposition to the Howard gun control laws. But there wasn’t actually all that much in the end. He had support from all state governments, from both sides of party politics, and from a very wide range of people, including people with both liberal and conservative political philosophies or approaches. As I said, there is actually nothing about social or fiscal conservatism that requires you to oppose gun control. In the US, conservative opposition to gun control is more a matter of historical alliances and expediency.
    I do, however, agree with Harris that any solution in the US will have to take into account the difficulties in the specific US situation. I also agree that there will need to be support for gun control from people who are not liberals – in the sense that they are fiscal and social conservatives. If there are people who are like that and who are going to support gun control, that could be very important in moving ahead.
    It would, however, be presumptuous of me to say much more about that last point. I’m willing to bet that those people (i.e. fiscally and socially comnservative politicians who at least privately support gun control) do exist. However, I can’t identify individuals who fit that mould, and I have no idea whether any of them will have the courage to speak up and identify themselves. All I can really say is that I were Barack Obama I’d currently be trying to identify those people and to seek dialogue with them.

  • RussellBlackford

    Sure, you’re welcome to discuss your views. Your expertise with handling guns of various kinds and knowing what they can do and what they may have done historically, how they can be handled most safely, etc., is, of course one form of relevant expertise. It doesn’t make you an expert on, say, the principles that we use for determining public policy (which are very contested of course), or how we weigh up conflcting values in public policy deliberation (also very contested). But it’s certainly one relevant input to public policy deliberation.
    As I said in one of my other comments, Australia had a lot of advantages in 1996 that the US doesn’t have in 2013. I’d be the last to say that I know what will turn out to be needed to resolve the issue sensibly in the US, beyond very general observations that I’ve made. But I’m happy to host good discussion.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    With respect, I believe my education and experience in solving problems in the real world qualifies me to address the public policy issues at hand.

    Seems to me an academically trained, published historian (me) might know more than a little about how public policy is determined, depending on the
    time frame, of course.

    Come to think of it my MBA and career as a healthcare executive provide me with decades of experience dealing with strategic issues and federal changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers.

    Is it possible you have made a subconscious, chauvinistic decision about my qualifications based on my gun and hunting related activities?

  • Ingemar Oseth

    Russell writes;

    “Nonetheless, it’s written into the US constitution and is hard to get
    rid of. One huge advantage that we had here in Australia in 1996 was
    that there was no such constitutional provision to overcome. There was
    also no real tradition of thinking of a right to bear arms as some sort
    of essential right in a liberal democracy (just see how funny that
    sentence even sounds when it’s put in that way).”

    Indeed, the 2nd Amendment is written into the US Constitution, and how it got there is highly relevant to the current discussion. The right to bear arms in not merely a “tradition,” nor is it a cultural aberration of the American South, as is sometimes suggested. There were valid historical reasons for the codification of this right. I submit, without hint of vexation or rancor, that an intelligent discussion of gun control is impossible without first understanding the who, what, when, where and why of how the 2nd Amendment came into existence. In his book, “1794: American, Its Army, and the Birth of the Nation,” Dave R. Palmer does a more than credible job of explaining this within the context of examining the reasons why following the end of the Revolutionary War, so many Americans so strongly resisted having a standing army capable of defending the nation. You agree with Jean and I agree with Dave (actually I call him General).

    There is no substitute for knowing the background (history) of a subject before subjecting it to analysis.

    Russell writes;

    “I also agree that there will need to be support for gun control from
    people who are not liberals – in the sense that they are fiscal and
    social conservatives. If there are people who are like that and who are
    going to support gun control, that could be very important in moving
    ahead.”

    The liberal/conservative divide you deem to exist in the USA is in fact a continuum with the vast majority of populace within a standard deviation of the center. It is this group, regardless of race or religion, that decides presidential elections, and it is this group, if properly motivated, that can bring about change in gun control.

  • Ronlawhouston

    “It would, however, be presumptuous of me to say much more about that
    last point. I’m willing to bet that those people (i.e. fiscally and
    socially comnservative politicians who at least privately support gun
    control) do exist. However, I can’t identify individuals who fit that
    mould, and I have no idea whether any of them will have the courage to
    speak up and identify themselves. All I can really say is that I were
    Barack Obama I’d currently be trying to identify those people and to
    seek dialogue with them.”

    I agree with you that those people do in fact exist, but I am firmly of the opinion that they will not speak up or identify themselves. The modern Republican party is far to the right of bat shit crazy. No one dares speak up lest they find themselves drawing a far right wing primary challenger. I don’t think anything will pass that directly affects guns. What may pass is some legislation aimed at identifying people with mental illnesses and trying to prevent them from obtaining guns.

    Then again, I do confess to being a hard core cynic.

  • keddaw

    Russell: the right to bear arms is a pretty daft “fundamental right”

    Why? Because everyone should have a right to look into your house that overrides your right to privacy? Because allowing someone to protect themselves against physical or numerical superiority is a minor consideration? That may be the case, but you better have a better reason than glibly calling it “daft”.

    Russell: “But the idea that being able to carry around a deadly weapon falls into that category looks pretty crazy to almost anyone outside the US.”

    Yeah, because allowing 17 year olds to drive 2 tons of metal at up to 100mph is sensible by comparison… That’s not to compare the social utility of cars and guns, far from it, but it is to say that the ridicule you spout in allowing people to carry deadly weapons is somewhat at odds with your, and our, acceptance of people driving guided weapons. I would strongly suggest the restrictions on who is able to do both are severely tightened up.

  • RussellBlackford

    No that is not possible, and making accusations like that won’t get you very far. I’ve been civil to you, and I expect the same in return.
    There is a sense in which EVERY voter, and certainly every mature voter with solid life experience is qualified to address the policy issues at hand, so of course you are qualified to do that. It doesn’t make you, or me, or Harris, or anyone else, some sort of omnicompetent expert on all aspects who should be deferred to. We all have our inputs.

  • RussellBlackford

    I’m not sure what feminism (important a topic though it is) has to do with the subject matter of the original post.
    In any event, to be clear, I am certainly not suggesting that Sam Harris is someone we should defer to. After all, I wrote this http://jetpress.org/v21/blackford3.htm and this http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/04/26/3489758.htm .

  • RussellBlackford

    Keddaw, since when has driving a car been regarded by anyone as a fundamental right? If anything, it is regarded as a privilege – e.g. it requires a licence, and there is a very restrictive code as to how cars can be used. The idea that being able to drive a car is a fundamental right, worthy of being entrenched in a written constitution, would, indeed, seem pretty crazy to almost anyone either within the US or elsewhere. Don’t you think it would look pretty daft if a nation’s written constitution had a provision saying, “The right to drive a car shall not be infringed”, and this were then used by some people in serious political debate to argue against, say, speed limits, licence tests, alcohol testing, manufacturing restrictions, and fuel excises?

  • RussellBlackford

    You may simply be right, not unduly cynical.
    I hope you’re wrong, but there’s nothing in what you just said that I can really argue against. I can go on making the point that there is no contradiction in being a socially and fiscally conservative proponent of gun control … but while that point may be true (and, I think, worth pointing out), it only gets you so far. Such people may well be cowed into silence for exactly the reasons you suggest.

  • keddaw

    Approximately since the Magna Carta when the concept that people were free to do anything not specifically proscribed against was given its first breath of legal life.

    Or since the American revolution. Or since America decided roads were more fundamental to freedom than a half decent public transport system.

    The right to drive a car is enshrined in the Bill Of Rights. Somewhere in between the 9th and 10th.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    I am not trying “to get very far.” I am attempting to set the record straight while expressing my distaste for being talked down to.

    My question may have touched a nerve, but your denial of the possibility is accepted as honest and forthright.

    We are in agreement. None of the participants in this discussion are expert in all related areas. However, our experiences in the realm of public policy may differ.

    Several years ago I personally promoted a resolution with several members of the House of Representatives. One of them decided to sponsor the resolution, and i was asked to work with his staff to write it.

    Together we worked hard to obtain additional sponsors. After a surprisingly short time, a committee chairman and several additional congressmen signed up joint-sponsors. When he introduced the resolution on the House floor he publicly thanked me for my input and expertise. The resolution passed.

  • RussellBlackford

    I’m not sure how much you’re joking, but it’s not the same thing.
    Anyway, to take the point seriously for a minute, political liberty in the sense that you describe is a very important political principle (it’s arguably the main theme of Montesequieu’s influential The Spirit of the Laws, for example, and it has often been affirmed by the courts in many common law jurisdictions). And yes, it applies to driving a car or anything else. But specific legislation prevails over the presumption you speak of.

    That is completely different from a specific constitutionally entrenched right. At least prima facie, such rights prevail over specific legislation – thus they create limits on legislative power. There is not a constitutionally entrenched right to drive a car in the US constitution or any other constitution that I know of. I doubt that any nation of earth has entrenched such a right in its constitution. Of course, I do realise that the Supreme Court is sometimes creative enough to find rights that are not enumerated but are thought to be implicit in the constitution, and so entrenched (hence, it has, historically, found rights of sexual privacy, substantive due process rights that protect managerial prerogative, and so on). But I’d be very surprised if the right to drive a car ever turned out to be one of them.

    If you’re interested, I have a (very!) long article in the Australian Law Journal (old now, but not out of date in its fundamentals) on the topic of political liberty, in the sense that you’re talking about, in relation to non-judicial usurpations of judicial power: “Judicial Power, Political Liberty and the Post-Industrial State” (1997) 71 Australian Law Journal 267. It’s probably not available online, but probably accessible in any decent law library.

  • RussellBlackford

    No record to be set straight – and you also sometimes sound like you’re trying to talk down to people or pull rank. But we can leave the meta-comments at that if you’re happy to do so.
    The substantive topic is important and interesting, and your views on it are welcome here.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    The road building project which created the interstate highway system was initiated by President Eisenhower. Having seen first hand the advantages (internal lines of communication in strategy-speak) afforded to the German Army by having a high speed, all weather autobahn over which to rapidly transport troops, equipment, and supplies to points where they were urgently needed. Eisenhower realized how important this capability would be in defending the USA against another world power (read USSR). Therefore, the interstate highway system became and remains a crucial component of our national defense infrastructure — fundamental to defending freedom. There you have it — One important reason why roads trumped public transportation.

  • Ronlawhouston

    I don’t think it’s a liberal versus conservative issue at all. I think it is a fear based issue. Those who have an abundance of fear and don’t trust the existing societal structures tend to as Obama said “cling to guns (and also as he said “god”.) Those who have less fear view guns more objectively. I’m a gun owner but the guns I own are not at all for self protection. I own them to put an occasional tasty duck on the table. Now the irony is that game laws in the great state of Texas limit the magazine of your shotgun to 3 shots. Anymore and you face a substantial fine.

  • keddaw

    You say cars are regulated, but that’s only on public roads – on private land you need no license, your car need not meet any Federal regulations on noise, pollution or safety.

    In that sense it could be argued cars are less regulated than guns on private property.

    Incidentally, if I stuck machine guns onto my car, would it become Arms and hence be protected under the 2nd Amendment? Just a random thought of a morning.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    For those who really want to do something to support gun control, I recommend contributing to Gabbie Giffords’ new Anti-Gun Super PAC, “Americans For Responsible Solutions.”

    http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/

    Virtually everyone remembers that two years ago Gabbie, a Congress woman from Tucson, AZ was severely wounded by a deranged young man who also killed and wounded a number of other people. Gabbie and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, are dedicated to identifying workable solutions to gun violence, influence public policy, and support responsible legislation. As gun owners, Gabbie and Mark have standing to lead a moderate, grass-roots movement to reduce the NRA’s stranglehold on elected officials and influence the passage of reasonable, rational legislation designed to reduce gun violence through gun control and education.

    This is a put up or shut up moment for people who really want to address the problem of gun violence in the USA, so donate to Americans For Responsible Solutions or stop talking about how something needs to be done.