Saturday, December 15, 2012


From Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta on the culture of death and the choice to kill children:
"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters"

"And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."

From the Commander in Chief, the most rabidly pro-choice president in the history of the nation:
"We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.



Pray for the conversion of President Barack Obama and all pro-choice politicians and mothers and fathers. Pray for the conversion of America!


Anonymous said...

You said it, Father!

and I say:
There is much duplicity in that man.


ytc said...

ROFL, I saw that on tv, and there was a mixture of extreme laughter and sadness on my part. What a sad little man.

I think the Pope should mandate that all American priests celebrate one of their weekday Masses each week as a Requiem in black vestments for the intentions of "The Repose of the Souls of Those Babies Slaughtered Under the Auspices of Abortion and for the Conversion of the President of the United States."

Father, perhaps you should start doing this. Make your Tuesday EF a Requiem with catafalque permanently. And belt out that Dies Irae.

Mr. C said...

The first time I watched the address (live) a similar thought of "wow, cognitive dissonance," briefly crossed my mind as well. But, I felt then, and still do, that this is NOT the time to push this perspective into the forefront of our prayerful deliberations. This seamless garment of evil is pervasive, is potentially all consuming a devastation. But its face is not Obama's alone. This is just not the time. In the meanwhile...
Some other thoughts of mine of this.

Hammer of Fascists said...

I think it's worse than that. I think that a lot of people, including intelligent ones, genuinely don't get that "fetuses" are human beings--even by basic and incontrovertible biological standards. Others are in denial; on the surface they don't get it either, but that's because if they get honest with themselves about it, they'll have to admit that they have signed legislation authorizing the legal murder of horrendous numbers of people. Then there is a third group who know full well that the unborn are human, but don't care because those particular people can't vote and so deserve no attention or consideration.

Henry Edwards said...

As my friend Jon asked this morning, "When legalized abortion pushed back the lid of hell, could we really expect what was inside to remain?"

Bill said...

All the usual suspects have joined the refrain, cynically trying to use this very sad event to further their goal of disarming honest and non-violent citizens.

I pray for those who were killed, and for their families, and I pray--though honestly, with little hope--for the conversion of those so very cynical people who seek to make of us government chattel.

There are surely dark days ahead. My trust is in God, and not any slight measure in government.

John Nolan said...


I'm surprised at you! Infants do not require a Requiem Mass - if they are baptised and die before attaining the age of reason they are assumed to go straight to heaven and the rites are quite different (white vestments, votive Mass of the angels in the EF, and in the OF the Mass Ego autem cum iustitia apparebo, or in Paschaltide Venite benedicti Patris mei.

ytc said...

Yes but, John Nolan, aborted babies are not baptized. It might be argued that since they are not, then a Mass does them no good, but surely the merits of the Sacrifice do some good; if not toward the souls of those slaughtered in abortion, then to some souls in Purgatory.

Robert Kumpel said...

The national hypocrisy continues. And Catholics continue to support pro-abort politicians because of "social justice" concerns.

The scariest dishonesty of all is when we lie to ourselves.

rcg said...

The President's comments might mean more if his concern for life was more encompassing.

Anonymous 2 said...

I had the same thought as many as I watched the President yesterday: What about all the millions of innocent human beings destroyed in the womb? How could a Catholic not have those thoughts? But then I recalled the wisdom reflected in Anonymous 5’s comment: Many (most? One hopes all) in the pro-choice camp do not favor the murder of innocent human beings. Their theology and their metaphysics are simply different. Whether this difference is due to willful blindness, rationalization, or good faith disagreement I do not know, and as Anon 5 suggests it is probably a combination of these (perhaps sometimes even in the tangled mind of the same person) but isn’t this where the real challenge of persuasion lies (although much can also be achieved by seeking what common ground there is to be found between pro-choice and pro-life)?

Anonymous 2 said...

One further thought – A common thread between the gun control issue (and much else besides, such as a ready militarism) and abortion is that they assume the same sad fact: an almost reflexive recourse to violence to solve problems. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves, even more deeply, why as a nation we seem so addicted to violence in its many guises and forms (including its glorification and gorification in the media, video games, etc).

rcg said...

A2, it is because we have lost hope and faith in our nation.

vee8 said...

amen father

Gene said...

Anon 2, the ownership of guns does not imply a belief in the "reflexive recourse to violence to solve problems." That is a non sequitur, and you know better. You love clouding issues with wordy posts of a speculative or deliberative nature in an effort to create doubt or confusion. Such obsessive deliberation only allows evil, which knows exactly what it wants and never deliberates, to slip in between your lines and use your(and others') contemplative fog to lock down its purpose (please excuse the allegory). At first, I thought you were just a typically philosophical academic who, like the Laputians in Swift's Gulliver, needed a slave boy with a bladder of stones to tap them on the mouth or ears in order to bring them out of their speculations into awareness of the world around them. Now, I wonder if you are not more like the Yahoos and are playing us all for Houyhnhnms.

dominicansoul said...

Everyone is reeling over the slaughter of the innocents in their elementary school classrooms. It's really sad to see that 6 and 7 years ago, those same children could have been brutally torn apart and murdered in their mother's wombs and no one would have even batted an eye about it.....

Anonymous 2 said...

“Anon 2, the ownership of guns does not imply a belief in the ‘reflexive recourse to violence to solve problems.’ That is a non sequitur, and you know better.”-- ??? Please explain, Gene. It seems pretty “sequitur” to me, not for all gun owners of course – collectors, hunters, and sports competitors, for example – but for those many who are minded to use them on human beings aggressively, or defensively against others who, of course, will have guns.

“Now, I wonder if you are not more like the Yahoos and are playing us all for Houyhnhnms.” Gene, sometimes, you think too much. At least, that is the most charitable response I can come up with at the moment.

Gene said...

Anon2, you say, "not for all gun owners, of course," which gives the lie to your original implication.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. You really need to try to refrain from making such ad Houyhnhnm comments. =)

Hammer of Fascists said...

Sorry, Anon2, I have to go with Gene on this one. I think the place you fail is the "almost reflexive" part. Many who buy and carry guns face many problems throughout the day, at home, work, and while driving to work, without reflexively going for their weapons to solve those problems. And when placed in the rare circumstances where they face an aggressor who is threatening or resorting to deadly force, the usual reflexive reaction (for gun owners and everyone else), is to be stunned into inaction for a few moments, not to do a quick draw and start blazing away.

There are probably a few (statistically speaking) right wingnuts who carry guns in the hopes that something will happen to justify them pulling their guns to deal with a problem--in fact, I have had the misfortune to know one or two (although perhaps a lot of their talk was merely bluster). But I think you're stereotyping. Other carriers I've known are stable people who more or less adopt the official line of the US armed forces--their purpose is to deter war--and to the police, who are trained, in conflict, to escalate just enough to persuade an offender to stop the contest, with legal use of deadly force being the final escalation only if necessary (and an option that is more readily available if the defender is carrying a gun).

I would be able to agree with the gist of your point more readily if you could concede that "almost reflexive" is itself a bit of reflexive hyperbole. :-)

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene and Anon 5, I am happy to concede the force of your observations, to plead guilty to not making myself sufficiently clear, and to retreat from certain unintended implications of my comments.

So, Gene, to clarify, the “gun control issue” as I understand it is not about collectors, hunters, and sports competitors so much as it is about those who want ready access to guns for nefarious purposes (use in criminal activity) or for laudable purposes (self-defense) or for purposes that are more difficult to categorize (resisting government “tyranny”). In any event, however, in such cases the only point of having the firearm is to threaten bodily injury or death (aggressively or defensively through deterrence). If that isn’t recourse to violence to solve a problem, however conceived, I don’t know what is.

And, Anon 5, you yourself said: “Many who buy and carry guns face many problems throughout the day, at home, work, and while driving to work.” So, there you have it. Of course, I do not mean that most law-abiding people, when faced with a threatening situation, will reflexively reach for their weapon (although some may). In the same way, in my limited experience, some people who obtain an abortion may not do so reflexively either (although others may). Nor do most foreign policy crises reflexively result in armed conflict (and although many citizens often do seem to react reflexively in desiring such a result, thankfully they do not have their hand on the national trigger).

No, what I mean is that as a society we have allowed recourse to violence to become so ingrained in our national psyche that we are scarcely even aware of it any more. So, we readily accept the violence of abortion; we readily accept the violence in our citizen reactions to perceived foreign “foes;” and, as your own comment demonstrates, we readily accept the need to threaten and, if needed, to inflict deadly violence in “self-defense”; worse yet, we have permitted the rise of a culture of violence in which decent law-abiding citizens feel so insecure in the first place that they need to contemplate such a response. A statement such as “Many who buy and carry guns face many problems throughout the day, at home, work, and while driving to work” should be unthinkable. It is a measure of how rotten the state of Denmark has become that such a statement can be made at all. (Yes, Gene, I realize I am opening myself up to the Hamlet taunts again).


Anonymous 2 said...

I said in an earlier comment that “[p]erhaps we should be asking ourselves, even more deeply, why as a nation we seem so addicted to violence in its many guises and forms (including its glorification and gorification in the media, video games, etc).” Or, as I have just heard at Mass: why we have forgotten that life is sacred and have become a culture of death. It is that deeper, more fundamental, question that I was seeking to address.

All that said, I realize that, in characteristically quixotic fashion, I may be tilting at windmills. Perhaps it is too late because the genie is already out of the bottle and we are too far gone to find our way back. But in this Advent Season we are waiting for a great event in which the Prince of Peace takes on human form as a little baby. That gives me hope. And unless I am gravely mistaken, Jesus did not teach the use of violence.

In a fallen world we may not be able to live up to His perfect example. But don’t we have to try at least? And isn’t reasonable gun control, or the enforcement of existing reasonable gun regulation, part of that effort (along with much more besides)? Reasonable people can disagree about what reasonable regulation entails, of course. But for me it includes removing firearms from those who cannot be trusted to have them, limiting or prohibiting the availability of certain types of firearms, and ensuring proper police protection of decent law-abiding citizens.

One final thought regarding the Founders and the Second Amendment: Perhaps we should go back to muskets and other primitive firearms, just like they had (and doubtless had in mind when drafting and enacting the Second Amendment), although somehow I don’t see the constitutional fundamentalists supporting that kind of “originalism.” =).

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. In short, I do not mean reflexive in the sense of automatic violent action but rather in the sense of automatically thinking in terms of violent solutions. Such thinking is a symptom of the culture of death and its associated culture of fear.

Hammer of Fascists said...


Thanks for the clarification. I'm not actually sure, though, how much more violent we've grown recently; it seems to me, with the frontier self-help mentality of America, at least some of the things you describe have always been there. For instance, the common law has recognized self-defense as legitimate for a very long time, no?

I think the key changes areen't mainly mindset (although there is some of that, e.g. videogames as you mention), but rather increased population densities and the increased destructiveness of readily available weaponry (which includes fertilizer as well as guns).

I myself tend to be anti-gun control, not because I'm a good ole boy, but because I'm fatalistic about this sort of violence in an industrialized society. If this guy couldn't get his hands on a gun, he could easily have done a Timothy McVeigh and blown half the school, with a vastly higher death count, or put railroad ties on the front of a pickup truck and blown right through a wall. Welcome to the industrial world and the easy harnessing of cheap power. If guns are a social expression of violence and we eliminate them, the bad guys will just socialize themselves to different weapons of equal or greater destructiveness.

I think we would all agree that keeping guns out of the hands of those who want them for nefarious purposes is a good thing. The problem comes in passing a law to that effect that isn't overly broad, especially given the fact that these weapons are easy to trade, conceal, move around, and such. To resort to a second military analogy, the reason why the INF treaty of 1988 was practicable and successful is that it eliminated an entire class of weapons. The discovery of a single such weapon would mean that the other side is cheating. The most effective handgun ban would likewise be a categorical one, making it easy to police (any handgun is immediately confiscated and the possessor prosecuted), but that would surely be overbroad. Anything less, assuming it were to survive Second Amendment challenges, would do little if anything to prevent school shootings.

Mr. C said...

This whole combox thread is so off the rails with all the 2nd Amendment bullsh*t you're quibbling about.
FRAJM's beef focused upon duplicity from the POTUS playing to the cameras and thereby adding to the pretense of his ever expanding base and supposed mandate fo his "go for broke" second term. I get that, we all got that.
But we're suppose to be Christian Roman Catholics first, not faux-Diogenes talking heads pushing some political agenda.
I think that's unseemly so early, condescending to Obama's mud pit, and self-defeating to Catholicism's ordained call to be counter-cultural.
FRAJM, you need to stop swinging for the fences every post you make, regain your cred among adherents that doesn't extol only your POV and expanding fan base, and remember your real and first audience is whoever's face is opposite yours in whatever room you currently occupy.
Sorry, that's how I see it.

Anonymous 2 said...


I would like to respond to an earlier observation of yours that I let pass without comment so far. However, it is an important point that, I believe, goes a long way towards explaining why you often seem to misunderstand me.

You stated that I “love clouding issues with wordy posts of a speculative or deliberative nature in an effort to create doubt or confusion. Such obsessive deliberation only allows evil, which knows exactly what it wants and never deliberates, to slip in between your lines and use your(and others') contemplative fog to lock down its purpose (please excuse the allegory).”

First, I am not trying to create doubt or confusion except in the sense of suggesting that matters that may seem simple at first sight may prove to be more complex on closer examination. If I have a tendency to over-deliberate, I respectfully suggest that you may have a tendency to under-deliberate. Perhaps the optimal approach lies somewhere in between.

Second, evil may indeed slip in and exploit over-deliberation. But, again I respectfully suggest that if evil knows exactly what it wants it is equally prepared to exploit under-deliberation. After all, it does not care as long as it gets what it wants. Moreover, perhaps you spoke more truth than you realized when you said that “evil. . . never deliberates.” For example, one of evil’s favorite strategies is to simplify through demonization of others. If we can stick a demonizing label on another, then we can justify dismissing them as irrelevant at best or deserving of annihilation at worst. That way we never have to deal with them seriously and thus can avoid deliberating about the complexity presented by their situation and their humanity.

Take the abortion issue, for example, and let’s focus on unwed mothers. Evil loves to stick a demonizing label on the developing human being within the womb – fetus, embryo, collection of cells, unwanted pregnancy, etc, etc. – and will do everything to avoid the parent(s) being confronted with the truth about the developing child within. Such confrontation would result in recognition of the complexity involved and require real and painful deliberation about the awful choice that is presented. But evil also loves to stick a demonizing label on the woman who may be inclining towards an abortion -- baby killer, liberal feminist, immoral, selfish b**** --and will do everything to avoid those who support life being confronted with the truth about the mother’s situation, instead advocating coercion and intimidation, thereby inviting resistance and opposition as a natural reaction. Such confrontation would result in recognition of the tragic elements in the mother’s situation and require real and painful deliberation about how best to help her to a decision that chooses life.

Overturning Roe v. Wade and attempting to criminalize obtaining and/or providing an abortion is a nice simple solution but it is one that, again, avoids complexity, both the complexity of what to do in the meantime and the complexity of a consistent ethic of life that recognizes the need to support unwed mothers and their children. I am proud to belong to a Church does seem to recognize these complexities, but many in the pro-life movement do not seem to, at least judging by their strident rhetoric. They never seem to get beyond the labels and the abstractions (such as “the rights of the unborn”) to the real life flesh and blood human beings actually involved.


Anonymous 2 said...

Why this digression on abortion? Because it provides a particularly vivid illustration, I believe, of the frequent need for sound deliberation as one attempts to reach a wise outcome in often complex and tragic circumstances. For me the issue of gun control is no different in this respect, nor is a whole host of other issues. But this by no means is meant to suggest that I necessarily have answers. However, I would like to think that, sometimes at least, I make progress in identifying some relevant and important questions and, together with others, perhaps also in beginning to work out some answers.

So, there you are – yet another “wordy post of a speculative or deliberative nature.” You can choose to call me a Yahoo again or attach some other label. I will add it to my collection. Or, as you have also done sometimes, you can recognize my complexity and my humanity. And I am still looking forward to meeting you in person. As I mentioned before, I usually attend the 5:00 p.m. Mass on Sunday at St. Josephs, and I believe you attend that one sometimes too. And since you seem to know who I am but I do not know who you are, I leave initiating contact up to you.

Ray V.. said...

Who am I to say they were fake tears?...but I have never seen anyone wipe a tear from the outside corner of their eye....always the inside corner, right?....ooops.

Gene said...

Anon2, Is your favorite poet, by chance, William Wordswords? LOL!

Hammer of Fascists said...

A2 said: "But evil also loves to stick a demonizing label on the woman who may be inclining towards an abortion -- baby killer, liberal feminist, immoral, selfish b**** --and will do everything to avoid those who support life being confronted with the truth about the mother’s situation, instead advocating coercion and intimidation, thereby inviting resistance and opposition as a natural reaction."

I just want to point out a couple of points about this. First, while _you_ aren't stereotyping here--I don't think--I do think your observation, while valid in some cases, creates a tendency to get other people reading this to do so as a generalization. The culture of life does hold the mother's life to be as sacred as her child's. But the pro-choice knee-jerk is that if you're against abortion you must also have some sort of chip on your shoulder about the mothers involved. That's grossly unfair to the great majority of pro-life activists I personally know. It's in the same category of "If you're a Catholic who's against gay marriage, you're a homophobe."

That being said, I do think at least three things contribute in the great majority of cases to the fact that mothers who abort their children are at least reckless (or at the very least grossly negligent), and thus culpable to at least some degree.

First is a basic biological maternal instinct, without which the race wouldn't have survived, as attested to by the fact that abortion is often a traumatic event even for women who are unabashedly pro-choice. You don't see people having this reaction when they have their tonsils out. This alone should scream to the mother that abortion isn't right.

Second is all of the publicity given to the issue in this society. It's awfully hard for anyone to bury her head in the sand in this climate (although not impossible, I'll grant). Third is a basic burden/risk cost/benefit analysis: "My parents won't throw me out of the house/my boyfriend won't leave me if I just go kill my baby."

Are there cases where no such factors apply? Sure. Are there cases in which you can find duress, diminished capacity, and such? Sure. Are there cases in which you can genuinely find reduced culpability, or even no culpability, on the part of the mother? Yes, but I imagine those cases to be rarer than one might think, and I don't think that they ought to be driving the basic conversation about elective abortions in which mothers who are, after all, tainted by original sin and/or concupiscence, intentionally kill someone they know or reasonably should know to be their children.

William Meyer said...

For what it may be worth, there is a very good article now online which shows that the incidence of mass shootings--despite the hysteria--it not increasing. Moreover, in the majority of cases, the shooters were known previously to have mental/emotional issues.

Anonymous 2 said...


Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5:

My previous one word reply was to Gene, not to you, and was of course intended to be self-deprecatingly humorous.

Regarding your comment, yes, I was trying not to stereotype; and I specifically exempted the Catholic Church from those following such simplistic approaches.

I omitted to mention an additional element of complexity, although I have mentioned it in an earlier post before the election. Reversing Roe v. Wade by no means solves the problem. It just returns the matter to the states, which will then decide in accordance with the majority democratic will. Presumably, some states will permit abortion; and others will prohibit it to a greater or lesser extent, with the result that those who can afford it will travel to states where it is permitted and those who cannot afford it may avail themselves of backstreet abortions, just like in the good old days.

Consequently, even assuming that reversing Roe v. Wade is, like reasonable gun control, part of the solution, presumably the really hard, and more fundamental, work to achieve the reduction of violence in both areas (and in others) is to change hearts and minds to recognize and promote the sacredness and preciousness of all life as part of a consistent ethic of life from birth to natural death.

Aonymous 2 said...

P.S. Sorry, Anon 5 – I was writing too fast. Let me revise that last part to read: “to change hearts and minds to recognize and promote the sacredness and preciousness of all life, and to nurture that life, as part of a consistent ethic of life from conception to natural death.”

Anonymous 2 said...

I have been pondering why I mistakenly wrote “from birth to natural death” instead of “from conception to natural death” when hastily writing my last comment and what that mistake may be trying to tell me. I think I have figured it out now.

As a Catholic I accept the Church’s teaching on abortion and I appreciate the importance of seeing the connections between the horror involved in slaughtering children in a mass school shooting and the killing of so many unborn human beings. But I now wonder if using this terrible tragedy to focus so much on the issue of abortion, as we have been doing, may be missing an important point.

Of course, we must accept the sacredness and preciousness of life from the moment of conception, both as a matter of divine and natural law. But whatever we may_believe_ theologically and philosophically, it is surely only natural that the fact of actual birth makes a significant difference in_feeling_. Although it is tragic to lose a child before birth, isn’t the tragedy even greater and felt more intensely following actual birth? My perception is that a miscarriage, tragic though it is, just does not feel the same as the loss of a born baby or a six-year-old -- although I stand to be corrected on this, especially by women, who clearly know something that we men can never know, however hard we may try. However, if I_am_right about this, then I hope we are not doing an injustice to those families who have lost their precious children in this tragedy by talking so much about abortion at this time.

I just wanted to get that off my chest, because it has been bothering me this evening.

Gene said...

Anon 2, Yes, that was a good one. In fact, I chuckled about it all evening...Advantage Anon 2. LOL!

Hammer of Fascists said...


You are one of the few people I've talked with who understands what an overturning of Roe would actually mean. I've tried to explain this for years, but usually get shut down by emotional protestations long before getting to this point. But just because overturning Roe wouldn't end all abortions doesn't mean that we should keep Roe. If overturning it means that fewer abortions happen, then we must overturn it. If it falls more heavily on poorer people, that's not the Catholic Church's fault; if society had followed Catholic moral teaching from the outset, the problem wouldn't arise. I'm sure that Catholic charities would be the first to step in to aid the poor mothers who couldn't afford to abort their children, since the Church does have a history of cleaning up the messes society makes, especially in the industrial age.

But one must be careful with any Roe/gun analogy. I think that most people, as well as Catholic theology, would accept some guns as--well, not good, but legitimate--given the fallen nature of the world. The best example is defense of self/defense of others. Abortion, on the other hand, is _never_ legitimate (or good).

Thus, it's a non-sequitur to say that if even a partial ban on abortions is good, then even a partial ban on guns is good. And it can't even be a ban on particular guns (except perhaps assault rifles), since it isn't the gun but the circumstance and the intent of the owner that makes its use legitimate or not. I.e., the same weapon that may be used for home defense can also be used for a school shooting.

As for myself, I live in a rough neighborhood, and police response isn't as fast as I'd like. A law confiscating my gun has so many different due process and social ramifications as to make me dizzy. If it comes down to "Government can't protect me and my spouse from the bad guys and it won't let me protect myself and my spouse from the bad guys," then I know where I stand.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5:

I cannot fault the logic of your argument but I need to clarify my own.

First, as to Roe, you say that “just because overturning Roe wouldn't end all abortions doesn't mean that we should keep Roe.” I agree. You then go on to say “If overturning it means that fewer abortions happen, then we must overturn it.” Here again I agree, but with a caveat. Intuitively, it would seem that there would in fact be fewer abortions if Roe were overturned, but can we be so sure, given that many states will presumably retain a right to seek an abortion under their law and given the phenomenon of back street abortions? A personhood amendment perhaps promises more in this respect, although it does not reach the backstreet abortion problem and, unless I am mistaken, seems unlikely anyway.

But my real worry is more basic: Are we fighting the wrong battle? Isn’t the real battle to create a situation in which no-one, or as few as possible, would want an abortion even if abortion is legal? And that is a battle for hearts and minds. Moreover, it is a battle that can only be won with love – through empathy and compassion. I worry that putting so much energy into overturning Roe (instead of, say, into qualifying it further to allow additional state regulation short of prohibition) is distracting us from that more important battle. I also worry that the stridency and the militancy of many in the pro-life movement, or at least the perception of such stridency and militancy (perhaps to some extent manufactured by stereotyping opponents, either from malice or from misunderstanding), may result in further resistance that impedes, or prevents, our winning over hearts and minds. Those on both sides who demonize the other side have got to stop doing that, so we can get on with the hard work of loving persuasion, which must also mean loving support for all mothers and children, whatever mistakes and however ‘immoral” the behavior that resulted in the pregnancy may be. As I said before, I am proud to belong to a Church that seems to understand this. Not all in the pro-life movement seem to.


Anonymous 2 said...

Second, as to guns, you are of course correct. One cannot draw an analogy between prohibiting something that is wrongful and regulating something that is legitimate. But it is not necessarily a non sequitur to say that “if even a partial ban on abortions is good, then even a partial ban on guns is good.” This is because I was arguing from a different and much looser analogy premised on the goal of reducing violence, injury, and death. Thus, to the extent that we can reduce violence, injury, and death through reasonable gun regulation that does not impinge on the legitimate use of firearms, I believe we should at least consider such regulation, but only of course as part of a more comprehensive approach that addresses other aspects of the problem, such as mental illness.

However, I do think that, in order to be consistent, I should acknowledge the same two worries here as I did regarding abortion Thus, putting so much energy into gun control may perhaps distract us from the larger battle of winning hearts and minds to become a culture less addicted to violence, and it may also result in counter-productive resistance.
That said, I suspect something important can be gained from reasonable gun regulation just as something important can be gained from extending regulation of abortion short of prohibition.

On no account, however, would I contemplate confiscating all firearms, and apart from a few fanatics I don’t believe anyone else is contemplating that either. So, all this talk of the government wanting to “take our guns” is scaremongering. A “War on Guns” is the Second Amendment’s rhetorical equivalent to Roe v. Wade’s “War on Women.” No-one wants to keep all guns out of the hands of people like yourself, or Gene (I am not so sure about Templar – just kidding, Templar, but perhaps you could manage without that tactical nuclear missile =)), and we certainly need more effective background checks and assurances that permitted firearms are kept secure and handled responsibly. The details are a matter for study and debate.

Thanks again for engaging as we try to puzzle all this out.

Gene said...

We cannot allow the Left a foot in the door on gun control. Even the Left knows that such measures are irrational; gun control is not their deeper issue. The deeper issue is a war on individuality, independence, and the self-sufficiency of the individual. The Left is egalitarian and collectivist. Their God is government, and anything that threatens the power of government must be eliminated. I am not talking about some violent revolution here. No, it is far more subtle than that. To the degree that any individual lives in such a way as to be less dependent on government, he is bad. That is why so-called "survivalists" are hated and impugned. That is why the Left hates conservatives and people who believe in free enterprise and entrepeneurship. These people are not dependent on the government.
Just look at our society. All of our cars even look alike. A few decades ago, cars were a symbol of individuality and individual power and pride. Gradually, the tree huggers and enviro-wackos managed to pass laws that have eliminated all individuality from cars. I can't tell a Lexus from a Honda or a Nissan. Not to mention the fact that most of them don't have any steel in them (the steel industry being another example of American entrepeneurship and individual (corporate) power). Movies and TV all decry a virile male or a feminine woman. Most of the males on TV are androgynous, sexless twerps who couldn't fight their way out of a hair salon. The image of Leonardo di Caprio running around with a gun in his hand is total cognitive dissonance. It is like testicles on Venus de Milo. The women are either sluts or shrewish bitches. I mean seriously, you couldn't take enough Viagra to get aroused with one of them. Virtually all network shows are subtly or blatantly anti-family, anti-God, pro-homo, pro-gay marriage, and pro abortion and birth control. It is all a war on individuality, virility, enterprise, and exceptionalism. The idea of a male who is self-possessed and masculine enough to go armed is total anathema to the collectivist, egalitarian, metrosexual (read homo) mind set. Think about it.

Anonymous 2 said...

There’s a lot there, Gene, so it is difficult to know where to begin.

So, at the moment let me give you a metaphorical answer. Last night I saw again that great movie Shenandoah, starring my favorite actor of all time, Jimmy Stewart. There is a lot in that movie, just as there is in your comment, and Jimmy Stewart’s character provides a large part of my response to you regarding beliefs and ideals to which I would subscribe, and personally hope to be able to live out at least in some measure.

Anonymous 2 said...

There’s a lot there, Gene, so it is difficult to know where to begin.

So, at the moment let me give you a metaphorical answer. Last night I saw again that great movie Shenandoah, starring my favorite actor of all time, Jimmy Stewart. There is a lot in that movie, just as there is in your comment, and Jimmy Stewart’s character provides a large part of my response to you regarding beliefs and ideals to which I would subscribe, and personally hope to be able to live out at least in some measure.

Marc said...

Since we have the illustrious Constitutional scholar Anonymous 5, as well as law professor A2 here, I thought if present this thought for further discussion.

What does a comparative analysis of the text and the jurisprudence surrounding the 2nd and 4th Amendments show us?

The 4th Amendment reads, in pertinent part: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, _shall not be violated_...

The 2nd Amendment reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, _shall not be infringed_.

I am certain those practicing lawyers commenting here, along with our resident scholars, are aware that the exceptions to the 4th Amendment swallow the rule. That is to say, there is really no such thing as an unreasonable search under the 4th Amendment.

Yet, nearly the same language ("shall not") is employed in the 2nd Amendment. It is, however, interpreted strictly unlike the 4th Amendment.

It seems to me there is a more coherent argument from "natural rights" preventing unreasonable searches and seizures than there is for the possession of firearms. So, the inconsistency in interpretation is all the more baffling.

I am eager to hear the thoughts of the scholars on this. I don't want to completely derail the abortion discussion. Perhaps that discussion is somehow related to my thoughts , but since I'm forced to type on an iPhone, I won't try to tie that all together.

Templar said...

Drive by commenting:

On Roe v Wade: It should be over turned because it's a crap ruling. It's pretzel logic to find a right to murder in a right to privacy. But I agree that it wouldn't end abortion. As a catholic I agree with Anon2 that the end game state to seek is a condition where abortion is unacceptable by society on a moral basis. As an American I am 100% okay with the idea of over turning Roe and letting the States decide (that's THEIR right). I would make sure to live in a state where it were illegal.

On Gun Control, the 2nd Amendment is clear, it's not open for discussion. It's the same exact logic the left applies to the 1st Amendment: it can not be abridged in any way shape or form, no matter how uncomfortable people get when others exercise their 1st Amendment rights. Same goes for my 2nd Amendment rights, it can not be abridged in any way shape or form, and I don't care how uncomfortable that makes anyone. When the left is willing to limit the rights of the Porn industry under the first, I'll be glad to discuss limiting the gun industry under the 2nd, and not a minute sooner.

Gene...LOL...I love ya' brother. Your post at 645PM is (as ever) spot on. Hat's off!

Anonymous 2 said...

Let me elaborate a bit on my last comment.

The Shenandoah ideals will surely be lived out differently in the second decade of the twenty-first century than in the mid-nineteenth century. However, suitably adapted to our times (including our necessarily much greater interdependence), the kind of self-sufficiency, family values, non-belligerence, and common decency, represented by Jimmy Stewart’s Charlie Anderson, seem to be healthy and wholesome ideals.

Also, when you talk about a “male who is self possessed and masculine enough to go armed,” I certainly hope you are not suggesting that one cannot be self-possessed and masculine_without_going armed. Indeed, I would submit that many who choose_not_to go armed may be even more self-possessed and masculine than many who choose to_go_armed. And for that I invoke another of my favorite Jimmy Stewart movies, Destry Rides Again.

I am, of course, aware of the limitations to this line of thinking as represented by Liberty Valence’s challenge to Jimmy Stewart’s Ransom Stoddard. But the solution here is to combine Ransom Stoddard (commitment to law and order and the rule of law) with Tom Destry Jr.(precise, self-restrained, and evident threat or use of force only when, and only to the extent, absolutely necessary).

So, I would propose that an amalgam of Charlie Anderson, Ransom Stoddard, and Tom Destry Jr., suitably adapted to contemorary circumstances, is a pretty good recipe for a healthy temporal masculinity today.

Anonymous 2 said...

Templar: I am not sure how much your comparison with the First Amendment helps you actually. The First Amendment does not confer an absolute right to free speech, Indeed, reasonable gun control legislation under the Second Amendment can arguably be analogized to reasonable restriction of speech under the First Amendment:

Moreover, I do not approach the gun control issue from the Left as a liberal but from the Right as a conservative in the old tradition which accords high value to law and order. In addition, as a conservative, I would like to see more restriction of speech than many liberals would. For example, I have always been appalled at the psychic pollution produced by graphically violent video games, movies, etc. To me it is just one more symptom of our sick society that is so addicted to violence.

Marc: I defer to Anon 5, our resident constitutional scholar on this one. Indeed, later on I may have some quesions of my own for him about interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Gene said...

Anon 2, Society has changed a bit since the era depicted in "Shenandoah," neh? It is sort of like why no one can write or understand a "comedy of manners" anymore, such as "Vanity Fair." There are no longer any manners. It is the same with movies portraying "common decency" and nineteenth century Western Judaeo-Christian values. Those things can no longer be assumed.
If you want a movie depicting our times and the values, if you can call them that, of our era, try "No Country For Old Men."

Templar said...

Actually ANon 2, I think the comparison between 1st and 2nd Amendment enforcement is perfect. The 1st Amendment grants the right to free speech, unless and until you use it in certain situations, then the hammer falls.

So, for 2nd Amendment rights, I should have the right to self arm in any manner I deem appropriate, and laws should be written that punish me when and if I use them inappropriately. I can live with that.

Marc said...

The 2nd Amendment plainly calls for regulation. After all, te texts dependent clause states "A well-regulated militia..." As many are arguing they need weapons to protect themselves and others (making them a de facto "militia"), it seems regulation is necessary to comport with the Amendment.

The argument that we need guns to protect ourselves from all the guns is silly to me. Perhaps it is because I've met people convicted of murder by firearms and seen the crime scene photos (unlike many of the gun supporters commenting here). I have a couple cases right now that certainly would not be murder cases absent the ready accessibility of guns - that's 4 people right there that would still be alive and another that wouldn't be paralyzed. Again, that is only the toll in 2 cases I'm working on right now. If I went back and thought about all the murder cases I've worked, the number would surely grow.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, I appreciate your comments and the need for regulation of militias according to the 2nd amendment.
American is a gun crazed culture, glorifying weaponry and we've inherited this from our forefathers in the wild, wild west.
I see no plot to keep Americans from self-defense by those who wish to limit the types of weaponry that are out there and easily made accessible to the insane whether they be criminally insane on a permanent basis or only temporarily insane or enraged.
We have to stop glorifying violence and guns in our media, in our video games and in our minds.

Hammer of Fascists said...

I'll point out one part of the Second Amendment text that isn't often remarked upon: It's a communal right. The right of _the people_ to keep and bear arms, as opposed to the rights of _persons_. Make what you will of that.

Mark has raised an interesting point in bringing in the Fourth Amendment. Does it give a right against private aggressors as well as government agents?

A2, I do in fact see the gun control lobby's call to ban assault rifles as the thin end of the wedge that ideally (in their view) would result one day in the banning of all (or nearly al) weapons. I suppose there's an ex post fact problem with confiscating existing guns, but perhaps with civil penalties rather than criminal ones or maybe the use of the Commerce Clause, that could be gotten around.

Fact is that to own a full automatic--i.e., a machine gun--you have to register with FBI or ATF or someone, probably get fingerprinted, and pay a tax of a few hundred dollars, last time I checked. So the "assault rifle ban" is for weapons that are at least manufactured to be semi-auto. To be morbid for a moment and put myself in the mind of a shooter, if I'm going to be limited to semi-auto, I'm going to choose a handgun anyway. More concealable and easier/faster to aim, rate of fire just as fast as an AR-15 so I can kill just as quickly, ammo is lighter and easier to carry. So the assault rifle ban will do little in iteslf; it's just a first step.

I think that, rather than resting gun ownership rights on the Second Amendment, I would ground it in either natural rights, fundamental rights, or a substantive due process right to life. If the government can't or won't protect my life from an aggressor, I have a natural and inalienable right to do so for myself. The social contract is valueless to me, and thus means nothing to me, if I don't retain that right.

A2, I'm in agrement with you that changing hearts is the way to go. But in a world broken by original sin, such a utopia will never happen, so we must think in terms of contingencies.

Anonymous 2 said...

Templar: You have, it seems, shifted your argument. However, I do like the point you make. It is a good one. My response is that, just as speech is regulated when thought is manifested in the world through the act of speech, so also gums can be regulated when the thought of them is manifested in the world through the act of carrying them, or even possessing them. Some acts (some types of speech, possession or carrying of some types of firearms) are so contrary to public safety or public order that they should not be permitted.

In addition, of course, I subscribe to the points made my Marc and Father McDonald in their most recent responses.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: Although I was not familiar with the film you mentioned, I have now read a bit about it. I like Tommy Lee Jones as an actor too, but I suspect I would not like to see this film as I do not care for graphic violence on the screen.

Regarding Shenandoah, I do take your point but I would also note that Charlie Anderson was surrounded by, and then eventually affected by, the senseless violence and carnage of the Civil War/War Between the States. I realize I may be entering somewhat dangerous territory here around these parts, but I would suggest that the film’s perspective on that event (and war more generally) is worth attending to. I do not immediately see why mass violence organized by and perpetrated in the name of the state, especially when a people is tearing its own self apart in a civil war (with over 600,000 killed), is so very different from the non-state violence depicted in No Country for Old Men. But, as I said, I have not seen the film or read the novel. BTW, I feel the same way about mass violence organized by, and perpetrated in the name of, religion.

This is the situation as I see it: Although pelvic issues are important (and are certainly sexier to talk about =)), they pale when compared with the human propensity to violence -- except for abortion, which of course involves horrible violence. Indeed, the abortion example is instructive – and this is the point I have been making all along: Just as so many in society today accept abortion because they either do not see the violence it entails or because they have become so inured to it, so also so many in society today accept other forms of violence for the same reasons. Whatever the primordial eating of the apple actually consisted in,wasn’t the first recorded sin after expulsion from Eden an act of violence?

Civilization is a thin veneer on top of a boiling cauldron of passions and animal drives. It is fragile and we weaken it at our peril for the forces of hell can easily break through the cracks. And violence in all its forms is top of the list. It is our seeming collective inability to understand this which I find the most disturbing about America today.

Anonymous 2 said...

The unintentional misspelling in my reply to Templar has inspired me to rephrase part of that reply:

My response is that, just as gums are regulated when thought is manifested in the world through the act of speech, so also guns can be regulated when the thought of them is manifested in the world through the act of carrying them, or even possessing them.


Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5: Thank you for adding your informative insights regarding interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Regarding your natural rights/substantive due process argument, I really am an arch-conservative in the old tradition on this point and so I question your premise when you say “If the government can't or won't protect my life from an aggressor.”

We need to stop disabling the government from performing its primary legitimate function. And that includes retreating from ultra-liberal constitutional interpretations protecting the accused (Miranda is fine; but the exclusionary rule as opposed to discretion? – only in America I believe) as well as ultra-conservative statutory rights and constitutional interpretations allowing people to take the law into their own hands.

That said, on the protection of the accused, I will defer to Marc who sees all this up close on an daily basis.

Gene said...

Marc, I suppose we could argue all day about what a "well regulated" militia means. I do not think it means gun control.

I have seen people killed by violence and I have worked in ER's covered in blood from knife and gunshot wounds.

Unfortunately, given the milieu and background of the majority of your clients (when you were a PD here), as long as they are killing each other that is just fine with me. Saves the taxpayers money and eliminates one more felon.

I do not think the argument is "we need guns to protect us from all the guns." The argument is that we need guns to protect us from all the human predators and cut throats out there. Please do not tell me you are a gun control freak...

Templar said...

Shame on you Marc. You're a lawyer. You above others should know to check previous rulings.

DC vs. Heller (2008)

In the Majority Opinion (Scalia) we find this phrase which deals directly with your assertion that the 2nd Amendment applies to Militias NOT people:

"The majority opinion held that the amendment's prefatory clause (referencing the "militia") serves to clarify the operative clause (referencing "the people"), but does not limit the scope of the operative clause, because "the 'militia' in colonial America consisted of a subset of 'the people'...."

Item (1) of the ruling states: "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

The assault against weapons by well meaning folks such as you and Father McDonald are misguided. A weapon is a tool. It is incapable of killing without a person being attached to it. And if they could you could just charge them with racism and lock them up that way since guns seem to kill Blacks at 3x their demographic representation.

Anonymous 2 said...


Someone who supports reasonable and prudent gun control may be mistaken (opinions clearly differ on that point) but it does not make them a “gun control freak.”

Although someone who wants to ban all guns might be a “gun control freak,” I don’t think Marc is suggesting that. Instead his support of regulation seems to be informed by his confrontation with a dark and horrible reality.

Your own confrontation with that reality leads you in a different direction, but that is a good faith disagreement between reasonable people. It does not make you a “gun nut.”

And your statement that “as long as they are killing each other that is just fine with me. Saves the taxpayers money and eliminates one more felon” is, I assume, characteristic outrageous hyperbole that is not intended to be taken literally. =).

Anonymous 2 said...


I am no constitutional law expert (thus I defer to Anon 5, who is), but my inexpert understanding is that the Heller decision leaves the door open for reasonable regulation.

On the textual merits, my question is: Why even mention militias at all unless that clause is intended to have a limiting effect? I am sure there is an answer to this. However, I do not know what, or how persuasive, it is.

Marc said...

Gene: I'm not a gun control freak. I just think people getting killed is senseless regardless of how they're killed. I don't claim to have any special insight into how to resolve that problem except to say that I've seen the consequences of it. So, while many bluster about how great guns are. You take a utilitarian view of the matter, which I can appreciate. I really don't know where I stand on the issue. But I know that my clients are usually mentally ill, which when combined with guns has resulted in death.

Templar: I wasn't providing a legal analysis of SCOTUS jurisprudence on the 2nd Amendment. I have more pressing legal matters to reseach! But, I think it is correct to say that prior to your case from 2008, the Court had not interpreted the 2nd Amendment as an individual right to own guns with minimal regulation. Now, I'm sure you aren't a fan of SCOTUS inventing a right to abortion from the penumbra of the 1st Amendment - I would suggest they did the same thing when they created a right for individuals to have mostly unregulated access to guns from the 2nd Amendment.

But, unlike A5, I am not an historian or a Constitutional law expert. So, I'll defer to him on that.

As for your argument that a gun is merely a "tool", I agree. But it is a tool that all too often ends up in the hands of a mentally ill person who uses that tool to senselessly kill others. I can only share my personal experience and that is that I have seen cases where without that tool many more people would be alive. And when I say that I am keeping in mind that there are other weapons - knives, bows, etc. - and dangerous instrumentalities - cars and explosives - that can be used to cause death. No, in these instances the gun particularly was used in a situation where nothing else would have been used and now multiple people are dead. So, you can espouse statistics and SCOTUS opinions and other anecdotal conjecture. Respectfully, it means little to me based on my actual experience.

But, again, I'm not suggesting that I have the answer or that regulation is even in the realm of the answer. But, I do think that we can't get to the answer until we can agree to the subject matter of the problem...

Hammer of Fascists said...


If you're suggesting that I'm an ultra-conservative, I'll point out for the record that I generally support the exclusionary rule, and I believe that we should zealously protect and police _Katz's_ reasonable expectation of privacy.

Further, I'm not sure how discussing the basis of the social contract makes me an ultra-conservative. To the degree that government prevents self-determination in matters that the Declaration of Independence, both Due Process Clauses, and probably Catholic theology and natural rights theory presumably identify as my most basic right--i.e., life--I have a very hard time with that and will not submit to it. (Just to show that this can have bleeding heart ramifications, I also have a hard time with it in the context of military conscription.) I think you'll find that a good bit of classical liberal thought agrees with me on this.

Furthermore, I don't see the above arguments and position (as you apparently attribute to me) as either an argument for, or on the same legal or moral basis as, vigilantism. I'm not looking for an opportunity to take the law into my own hands as a sword. But I will claim the right to do so as a shield in the face of a government claim that I may not. I'm not talking about hunting down a persecutor after some conflict, but shooting an armed assailant who is currently darkening my bedroom door. In that sense, and in that sense only, I will give up my gun when the government pries my cold dead fingers from around it--OR when the government can give me an guarantee that I will not need it due to effective government protection from violent criminals. I think that this is a reasonable position, and I _don't_ think you'll find many right wingnuts qualifying the aphorism as I do here.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5:

You are not an “ultra-conservative” in wanting to be able to protect yourself and your family if the government will not or cannot protect you. Clearly, the government is not providing as effective protection as is needed; otherwise we would not have over 9000 killings by firearms each year or massacres such as the one that has just occurred. That is why you have the right to own a firearm for your defense under social contract theory. So, let’s agree on that so we don’t get distracted by it again.

However, that is not all you said. There are two other ways in which what you said seems to tend towards ultra-conservatism:

(1) You said: “I do in fact see the gun control lobby's call to ban assault rifles as the thin end of the wedge that ideally (in their view) would result one day in the banning of all (or nearly all) weapons.”
Now, perhaps I misunderstand you here, but I interpret that statement as implying opposition to any kind of weapons ban, especially as you also suggested a ban on assault weapons would be ineffectual and therefore the government would have to ban other types of firearms too. As I have said before, I am no expert in the area of firearms, and clearly we should only want the government to make policy based on sound information. That is why I suggested the details would have to be the subject of study and debate. But I bet there are many types of measures that could improve the situation through reasonable regulation – background checks in the case of private secondary market sales (which apparently comprise 40% of all gun sales) is one suggestion I heard this evening, for example. Moreover, the killer of the schoolchildren did not use a handgun, as you say you would prefer to use yourself; he used a Bushmaster .223 (whatever that is), so why not ban those and others that can do such terrible damage so quickly? I can think of other possible measures too but, as I said, I really don’t want to get hung up on the details; let’s leave those up to the experts, including representatives from the “gun lobby” who know about such things.

(2) And to return to the opening point, you said that “If the government can't or won't protect my life from an aggressor, I have a natural and inalienable right to do so for myself.” Although we agree on this, I suspect that your premise about lack of protection depends on the ultra-conservative position in (1) because, unless we have reasonable gun control, we will make it very difficult, perhaps impossible, for government to provide such protection. Thus one major way in which government can provide protection is to make sure that would be aggressors cannot get guns so easily, and certainly that they cannot get the kind of gun that was used on those innocent children. But if you insist on (1), and thus disable the government from protecting you, then I submit that is tantamount to taking the law into your own hands.

I am not so much a Lockean conservative as a Burkean conservative in the Disraeli British conservative tradition. As such, while recognizing the value of self-sufficiency and individualism, I also value the organic community and set a high value on law and order. Therefore, I tend to resist the kind of “hyper-individualism” represented by certain brands of conservative libertarianism in America as being, in my view, somewhat pathological and certainly in tension with, if not in contradiction to, a Catholic understanding of the “common good.” By the same token, I question whether we need to be so absolutist regarding the exclusionary rule. Other countries, such as Britain, seem to manage by giving the judge discretion to exclude illegally obtained evidence, and do not require exclusion in all cases. Why can’t we do the same? As I said before, however, I defer to people like Marc on this as they will know more. Perhaps there are peculiar American circumstances that justify exclusion that do not pertain in other countries.

Hammer of Fascists said...


Regarding point number 1: I'm in substantial agreement with most of your statements here, including facts and policy goals. But I disagree with a few.

First, yes, gun control can encompass many things other than gun bans, and to the extent that they're reasonable, I have no objection to them. We already have many state and federal regulations in this regard. I doubt they prevent school shootings, but perhaps they help with accidental deaths or crimes of passion.

Second, my opposition to bans on particular types of weapons is driven primarily by a pragmatic belief that such bans would fail to reduce events like Connecticut's by any measurable degree (or even any degree at all), while at the same time opening the door to bans on more "legitimate" weapons.

Third, yes, the shooter had a Bushmaster .223, which is essentially a civilian (and unless he modified it, a semi-automatic) version of the M-16. But he also carried Sig and Glock handguns. I in fact do have some familiarity with weapons (being a Southern boy), and in close quarters such as a school room or hallway, the Bushmaster really doesn't have much, if any, advantage over these two handguns. It has more power, but it's slower to aim, harder to conceal while getting to the scene, and has a larger ammo transportation problem. It can certainly be used in such circumstances and to deadly effect, but if I were doing it, I wouldn't use one, and I don't know if we know yet which of the three was the main murder weapon. Why did he choose a Bushmaster? Perhaps for some Freudian reason or to make a statement or because real men use bigger guns or something. But I promise that had he had only the two handguns and not the Bushmaster, the death toll would have been the same. (My bet is that you won't hear this fact from the media, which seems to be getting on board the push for the assault weapons ban.)

Likewise, I suppose I do subscribe to the "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" mantra. There's roughly one AK-47 for every two people alive on earth (And an AK-47 is like a Bushmaster on Steroids). Unless we're willing ot build that fence on the border that bleeding heart Dems and money-grubbing Reps won't let us build to keep out immigrants, a ban just won't work.

To be continued . . .

Templar said...

Marc; Actually prior to Heller no one had ever actually challenged that the 2nd Amendnment meant what it explicitly stated. Prior to the rise of the Statist Elite in ths US I think we actually read the Bill of Rights. You are correct that I am no fan of the Roe v. Wade decision, but it is not analogous to Heller. In Heller the SCOTUS rendered a decision on what the 2nd Amendment Rights were. In Roe the SCOTUS created a right that doesn't exist in the Constitution (not even today). Not the same at all. Heller is "this what we think these words mean"; in Roe it's "this is what we think".

I will not question your personal experiences, how can one logically do so, however isn't the problem really the Menatlly Ill acting violently and not what they act violent with? Why are the mentally ill loose on the streets? Why are they not identified and treated, and the rest of society protected from the threat they pose?

Hammer of Fascists said...

A2, as for your second point: I suppose I've already answered that in my "If guns are outlawed" statement above. There are just so many darned guns in circulation both in America, with its porous borders, and in the world, that this jinn simply can't be put back into the bottle. I'm not even sure a police state could do it these days. Thus, any government attempt to eliminate (or even significantly reduce) the number of guns in circulation in the name of public safety would be overbroad and affect people in my position far more heavily than the aggressors out there.

I sympathize with your Burkean conservatism. I have long subscribed to that school myself, though in recent years the classical liberal in me has been resurfacing a bit more. But on reflection, I would say that theory aside, in practice, the Burkean law and order model must be taken with a grain of salt. We currently have in America--and especially in inner cities, where I live--a curious mix of excessive government oversight in some areas, such as high taxation, real property regulation, and draconian water and sewerage administration, and lack of control in others, such as crime, control of school discipline, and of course the absolute right of a woman to kill her own--excuse me, control her own body. Thus, my concern about the aggressor in the bedroom door aren't nearly as hypothetical as I would like it to be. I can foresee, by not much of a stretch, a government attempt to take my weapons coincident with an aggressor's attempt to take my life.

As for "common good," at some point the social contract model also breaks down. I think that to some degree (how much is debatable), my contribution to the common good must be an act of will on my part rather than being extracted forcibly from me by the government on the basis of a contract that I personally ever agreed to. Police states kill individuals without due process and without any consent in the name of the common good. From there it's a short step to states that let individuals die without due process and without any consent.

Marc said...

Templar, Your analysis of the cases seems logical to me. Like I said, this isn't my area of legal expertise so I'll defer to you on that. I can certainly agree with your sentiment of state elitism leading to an erosion of rights (the 4th Amendment is a striking example of this that I encounter regularly in practice).

I further agree that the mentally ill being "on the loose" is a problem. But, there is another issue there: how do we identify who is mentally ill? To do so in a widespread way would violate other rights (1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment rights, and eventually 8th Amendmet rights as well). In one of the cases I'm thinking of, for example, there was no indication of mental illness prior to the murder. In some others, there were clear indicators. Of course, we are never going to prevent all violence in this county or any other.

Given the other rights implicated by the identification, seizure, and forced treatment of the mentally ill, I'm more comfortable eroding the 2nd Amendment than the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments. But, I really haven't put much thought into that question until you raised it. At first blush, though, I can see we share an understanding of the "problem" which at least forms the basis for a meaningful conversation about solutions. In that regard, we are light years ahead of the politicians and pundits!

There are more illustrious legal scholars here than me. I'll defer to them. My practice is experiential (therefore perhaps of more limited import), there's more academic. So, their insight may be of widespread relevance.