Tag: Second Amendment

Mar 11

The Rant of the Week: Bill Maher – Third Rails

One of the good things that has come out of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School is that Donald Trump has ruined the phrase “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” As one student survivors said in response to Trump’s tweet, “I don’t want you thoughts and payers, you piece of shit. My friends …

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Jun 20

State Gun Ban Stands

The US Supreme Court dealt a blow to the gun lobby and the NRA by declining to hear a challenge to Connecticut and New York laws that bans military style semi-automatic weapons, their parts and large capacity magazines. These laws were passed in 2012 after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. …

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Aug 07

“Go Ahead, Make My Day”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The infamous line that was uttered by Clint Eastwood ‘s character, Harry Callahan from the 1983 film Sudden Impact.

This morning Associate Justice Antonin Scalia made the day of every  weapons of mass destruction lover’s day. During an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, Wallace asked the Supreme Court Justice about gun control, and whether the Second Amendment allows for any limitations to gun rights. In Scalia’s opinion, under his principle of “originalism”, if the weapon can be “hand held” it probably still falls under the right to “bear arms”:

Referring to the recent shooting in Aurora, CO, host Chris Wallace asked the Supreme Court Justice about gun control, and whether the Second Amendment allows for any limitations to gun rights. Scalia admitted there could be, such as “frighting” (carrying a big ax just to scare people), but they would still have to be determined with an 18th-Century perspective in mind. According to his originalism, if a weapon can be hand-held, though, it probably still falls under the right o “bear arms”:

   WALLACE: What about… a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute?

   SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried – it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons – but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.

   WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?

   SCALIA: Very carefully.

Law Professor Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago observed in a guest opinion at Jonathan Turly’s blog:

Maybe Justice Scalia needs to see the photos of the carnage a semi-automatic weapon or a shoulder fired rocket launcher can create. Under this thinking, RPG’s might be legal for all citizens to own and carry.  Grenades can be hand-held and therefore under Justice Scalia’s warped sense of thinking, they too might be legal for citizens to carry.  Do we draw the limit at briefcase nukes that can be carried in one’s hand?

Obviously the theory that Justice Scalia is promoting can be carried to extreme and hilarious lengths.  The real scary part is that Justice Scalia doesn’t understand how hilarious and dangerous his concepts are in the real world. [..]

Since Justice Scalia thinks that these kind of weapons may be legal, is it too far-fetched to wonder if the current crop of right-wing Militia’s are free to purchase these kind of weapons, even if they hope to use them against the government?

Justice Scalia was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan with a Republican held Senate and the unanimous blessings of the Democrats. Al Qaeda must be thrilled.

N.B.: For more about Justice Scalia and his concept of “orginaliasm” read this article at Huffington Post written in 2011 by Prof. Stone: Justice Scalia, Originalism and the First Amendment

Mar 16

Protecting the right to protect yourself

I am always amazed at how far career politicians will go to test the bounds of their dignity when confronted with the simple question, “where do you stand on the Second Amendment?”

More often than not, they will provide an abstract answer tailored to placate the audience currently in front of them. Nothing is more disingenuous than a politician with manicured hands standing in a duck blind trying to prove that he believes in the right to bear arms.

I believe that an honest man will never have to worry about remembering what he has said or who he said it to. I believe that the Second Amendment is crystal clear, “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment is a fail-safe woven into the fabric of our Constitution that ensures the God given rights and freedoms upon which this country was built. The Second Amendment isn’t just about preserving gun ownership, hunting rights, or target sports.

It is about each and every law abiding citizen having the right to play a role in ensuring our collective freedoms. It is the manifestation of our resolve to exercise our right of self-determination. It is a means to protect the lives and liberties of our families and to ensure that our Republic will endure.

Our government goes to great lengths to protect the freedoms of speech, of religion, to peaceably assemble, and frequently does so in situations that bear great public opposition. It defies logic for our government not to protect our right to keep and bear arms with the same zeal as our other Constitutional freedoms.

Sadly, we find ourselves in a society today where The Second Amendment is restricted by over thousands of state and federal regulations. America’s greatness is founded in personal accountability and community awareness. Unnecessary over-regulation does nothing to strengthen our communities, decrease crime, or to ensure our safety.  Overreaching firearms laws do however increase the chance that an otherwise law abiding citizen may overlook an obfuscated regulation and unwittingly become a criminal.

Imagine if the same standards applied to the rights protected by the First Amendment. What if the federal government required a permit to publish a newspaper? Would you pay a fee, and then endure a waiting period to go to the church of your choice? What if your state decided that it was simply going to outlaw public assembly?

To me, the words “keep and bear arms” means that every law abiding citizen is a vehicle through which we collectively preserve the means to protect ourselves.

Concealed carry permits should be issued without any unreasonable hurdles, exorbitant fees, or arbitrary justification. In my home state of Maryland, in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, I need to provide a lengthy application with a non-refundable fee and “documented proof” of threats against my life. A judge will then arbitrarily decide if I deserve the privilege to protect myself.

The years of street experience that I accrued as a law enforcement officer with both the NYPD and the Secret Service imparts a personal perspective regarding the responsibility that carrying a firearm implies. I was raised in the inner city. I didn’t grow up hunting and I had never fired a gun until I was on the police force.

While serving in law enforcement, I shot regularly to maintain a high level of proficiency. I carried a gun every day for 17 years while working. Although I may not be what you would call an avid gun enthusiast, I am a lover of freedom and I do cherish our civil liberties.

The arguments for restricting our Second Amendment rights on the grounds of public safety seem fraudulent at best. Perhaps the goal isn’t to eliminate guns, but is instead a pathway by which to silence the voices of freedom. Either way, the Second Amendment is the only one designed to ensure all of our freedoms and any encroachment upon them are unacceptable.

Apr 14

The Seductive, Escapist Appeal of the Past

A fellow Friend told me the other day about one of her passions.  She is a skilled seamstress and designs her own ballroom gowns.  The clothes she makes are ornate and authentic, designed to be worn to balls which seek to re-enact social functions that date back to the 19th Century.  Part of the appeal, as she describes it, is to dress up, and part of the appeal is to participate in specific dances authentic to the period while socializing with others. I am conscious that recreating a Jane Austen novel has its appeal, but as a Feminist I am also aware of the gender inequality and sexism inherent as well in the practice.  British society of that day was rigidly stratified and effectively divided by a strict adherence to class distinctions.  I doubt many in the current day would care to deal with them or wish to feel marginalized and discounted to such a stifling degree.

Knowing this, the first question I have is why many feel such a strong sense of fascination with this particular time in history.  Every few years the same novel is adapted yet again for film and yet again it makes money.  I question if it is easy to brush aside the objectionable parts and still enjoy the experience.  If such films, books, or plays were, for example, full of racism or homophobia I doubt we’d be so forgiving.  We can tolerate that which effectively disregards the rights of women much more effectively than, say, a new adaptation of a minstrel show.  I doubt few would wish to go to social functions where participants dressed up in blackface, attempting to emulate Stepin Fetchit the whole night long.  

The past proves a respite from the daily grind, but we choose to see it in romantic terms, and really, squarely on our own terms.  Some would return to Austen’s day, but they’d certainly want to bring their toothbrush and modern medicine along, too.  Neo-cons and anti-feminists have done much the same thing in idealizing the Fifties, forgetting, of course, that those days were also full of paranoia and a constantly nagging fear of imminent destruction by way of nuclear war.  In those days, the average housewife had access to a car perhaps a few times a week, almost always at the discretion of her husband, and was predominately cloistered at home doing household chores.  This may be a very normal means of longing for simpler days, but some take it beyond fantasy and escapism.  When this does happen, then problems arise.

I wonder if we have truly come to terms with escapism and its role in our daily lives.  Most notably now it drives the Tea Partiers and those allied with them.  As many have commented before, there is really nothing especially authentic or historically accurate that points back to the American Revolution, aside from the occasional demonstrator in colonial militia costume.  Those who take the Second Amendment in its original context and apply it to today, arguing for the establishment of a well-regulated militia are the ones who scare us all; yet again it should be said that they are trying to use a document centuries old and make it fit exactly as justification for their own leanings.   We already have the National Guard and have no need for vigilante justice or a firearm in every holster.      

Some social critics warn of attempts by the powers that control society to provide means of escapism instead of actually bettering the condition of the people. For example, Karl Marx wrote about religion as being the “opium of the people”. This is to be compared to the thought of Saint Augustine of Hippo, who argued that people try to find satisfaction in material things to fill a void within them that only God can fill.

If nativist, xenophobic, reactive movements like these on the Right considered themselves wrought of honest religious dissent to the status quo, I think I would have less overall reservations.  Most likely I still wouldn’t agree with them, but religion practiced honestly has a leveling, moderating influence.  Without it, we quickly see rage and open hostility.  Taken to extreme we have the Westboro Baptist Church and its hatred towards LGBTs, but this is the exception, not the rule.  Tea Party groups thus far have cherry-picked passages from the Bible to suit their needs, but it is, by in large, a secular movement.  If these activists really are intent on turning back the clock, I think adopting a conservative Christian framework to guide them might not be a bad idea, since the days they allude to were far less secular than our own.  Here is another example of how many will selectively choose which parts of history agree with them while and disregarding the rest.  If it is purity which we are seeking, none of us passes the test.    

German social philosopher Ernst Bloch wrote that utopias and images of fulfillment, however regressive they might be, also included an impetus for a radical social change. According to Bloch, social justice could not be realized without seeing things fundamentally differently. Something that is mere “daydreaming” or “escapism” from the viewpoint of a technological-rational society might be a seed for a new and more humane social order, it can be seen as an “immature, but honest substitute for revolution”.

An important distinction to make here is that there is a difference between Utopia and Dystopia.  That may be the best encapsulation of what is on everyone’s mind right now.  I admit that I have my own bias and my own loyalty, but aside from a few misguided souls, I note that what we have been debating amongst ourselves in recent Progressive discourse are escapist means of imagining how government would run if our specific ideas were adopted.  As we scheme and ponder, regrettably some on the other side want to take the law into their own hands, while, regardless of how they frame it, wishing to take advantage of the government which agrees with them while seeking to dismantle the government that does not.  Our definitions of what constitutes active revolution are very different from each other, but regardless of it is phrased and by whom, one wonders what period in history or historical document will be cited next.  Doing so would seem to be inevitable.  And, as we do so, I hope we will realize that the past, consulted honestly, has no allegiance to Party or ideology.  Rather, as C. Vann Woodward noted, “there is too much irony mixed in with the tragedy for that.”

Nov 21

Some Thoughts About Amendment 2

I’m sure most of you have seen this. It’s a billboard sponsored by an as-yet unnamed businessman in Missouri. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the others highlighted in this diary at Orange too.

I find it incredibly offensive, but only because it’s coming from the WingNut faction. I figure if the government targeted in these public advertisements actually cared to enforce the law against sedition then they’ll do so before tomorrow morning. If not then it’s open season and somebody up there approves. I mean, it’s not like the feds don’t know who paid for it, whose company billboard it’s sitting on, and even who designed and printed it out and pasted it up. That’s what all this post 9-11 spying on Americans is all about, isn’t it? And the WingNuts love them some NSA spies rooting around in their email, business dealings, bank accounts and cell phone conversations. Or, they did when Shrubbie was POTUS, since he started it.

Which brings me to what is offensive here. It’s coming from those who served as tireless cheerleaders for wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the blanket abrogation of Constitutional and human rights here at home, for war crimes, the rendition and torture of prisoners of war in blatant violation of Geneva, for limitless government spying on innocent citizens and, finally, for the unaccountable billions and/or trillions printed to bail out Wall Street, the banking sector and even the Fed itself when the IMF began its long overdue audit of America’s books on The Day The Economy Fell. All the while unconcerned about trillions in deficit spending to support not just those illegal wars and the largest expansion of Big Brother in our history, championing Greed Gone Wild that brought this nation and the rest of the world to its knees.

Jun 27

Sneering Scalia: The right to bear whatever arms I say

Well, after the Supreme Court’s stellar 5-4 decision today in D.C. v. Heller (PDF file), I am saving all my pennies for the day when Antonin Scalia decrees that I can legally possess a TOW missile – because, as his majority opinion makes clear, he gets to decide what weaponry I get to own.

Jun 26

The Gun Control Decision Is Good For Obama And Democrats

Today, the Supreme Court issued a decision striking down the District of Columbia ban on hand gun ownership. Contrary to what some may think, the world has not been turned on its head, except that a rallying cry for the NRA and other forces that have used gun control as a wedge issue against Democrats for decades has been partially neutered.

The Court held that the second amendment right to bear arms is an individual, not just a collective right associated with having a state militia. But, it is still a limited right and is not totally disconnected from the concept of a militia. The court basically held that at the time of the founding the weapons that people had for personal protection are the same weapons they brought to their service in the militia. It is those weapons that the court says are covered by the Amendment.

Jun 26

Scalia Summarized

(cross-posted at orange under my nom du orange)

Writes Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller:


“We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country… [but, you see, as Right Wing fucktards, we really don’t give a shit.  In fact, not only are we going to strike-down DC’s ban on a kind of firearm technology that didn’t exist when the Bill of Rights was ratified, we’re going to strike down trigger-lock requirements!]”

Why?  What was Scalia’s and the majority’s reasoning and rationale?  I quote and paraphrase:


“The historical narrative [is that insane gun fanatics own the Republican Party, and the Republican Party owns me.  Besides, I simply don’t give a shit if Saturday Night Specials flow like a flooded Potomac into the lower elevations of the District of Columbia.  What’s it to me?”

Sorry for the short diary “essay”, but here we have, in a 5-4 decision, another legacy of Republican Presidents putting hacks and goons on our Supreme Court.

Mu . . .