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« Iraq president calls President Bush ‘the liberator of Iraq’ | Main | What’s up with CBS’ Lara Logan and CNN’s Michael Ware? »

June 26, 2008



1. The court just said what those writing the law meant. Anything more would make them the MAKER of laws. Good job. If we do not like it, write a NEW law the legal way, NOT through the courts.
2. Rifles in a home are a VERY bad idea. You could easily kill a neighbor going through two walls with the average deer rifle. Your average deer rifle will go through two car door and still kill someone. Shotguns are best for home defense but are uncontrollable for many small people. Hand guns may be their only option.
3. Who protects you when you are away from home? Rifles/shotguns are not easily transported. And again if you are small you need some sort of equalizer.


you said "For every “reason” to prefer a handgun, there is at least an equal danger in keeping one. But that is the whole debate, isn’t it?"

The court gave four simple ones. Can you give four?

Christopher Taylor

I’ve long thought it wise and fair to ban handguns

Sadly for you the founding fathers and the US Constitution disagrees. Clearly.

I know, this has nothing to do with either for you. You know better than they did.


"Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the people's liberty's teeth." --George Washington

Frank Warner

"Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the people's liberty's teeth." --George Washington

When did Washington say this?

Frank Warner

I’ve long thought it wise and fair to ban handguns

Sadly for you the founding fathers and the US Constitution disagrees. Clearly.

I agree that the Founders disagree with me. The Founders believed average civilians had the right to keep everything from pistols to battleships, but noboby believes that anymore. Even this court says there are limits to arms rights. So as long as we're making up the law, why not be wise and fair?

jj mollo

The reason that the Swiss want every home to have a rifle is because every citizen is considered to be part of a national armed defense. Rifles are basically weapons of war. A shotgun, as Mark says, is a much better weapon for home defense than a rifle. I'm not too into handguns for that purpose, but I can see some of Scalia's arguments.

On the other hand, it is harder for children to use a shotgun than a handgun, and nobody is going to be calling the police with one hand while holding a burglar at bay with the other. People just want the burglar out of the house.

My main concern is that felons, fools, psychos and children should not have access to handguns. The big problem with the gun lobby is that they are unwilling to bend in the least in order to allow cities to address urban problems. Screw the cities they say.

One gun a month. Requirement to report stolen weapons. Ability to search felons. Elimination of gun show loopholes. These things need to happen.

Trained individuals, like returned servicemen, should also be encouraged to acquire concealed carry permits. Guns on the street are a bad, bad thing unless they are in responsible hands. Guns in responsible hands can be a very good thing.


"When did Washington say this?"

It was on his blog.

Frank Warner

Four dangers, to start with:

1. Danger you'll shoot yourself with a handgun accidentally.

2. Danger you'll shoot a family member accidentally.

3. Danger you'll shoot an innocent person accidentally.

4. Danger you'll have your handgun ripped away by a criminal; it's small enough to grab quickly.

And, for a baker's four, one more:

5. Danger you'll use a handgun to resolve with violence an angry confrontation that normally would have been handled without violence.

Ironically, the handgun rights lobby is celebrating this ruling because it goes against the Constitution's intent, and reduces the right to bear arms as the right only to protect your home. The Second Amendment wasn't to protect your home; it was to protect everyone's rights, army-style. To serve the Founders' intent, rifles are perfect.


One advantage of a handgun that trumps your five dangers:
1. Probability of using handgun to stop grievous bodily harm is much higher than probability of accidental shooting.

Frank Warner

I doubt it.

And accidental shooting isn't the only problem. Having your handgun stolen by criminals is another.


For those who don't remeber. Just as their comments fitted for their time so do they today.

"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."
George Washington
First President of the United States
"The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."
Thomas Paine


You doubt? Here are some facts:

Guns used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year -- or about 6,850 times a day.

This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives. {According to the National Safety Council, the total number of gun deaths (by accidents, suicides and homicides) account for less than 30,000 deaths per year. See Injury Facts, published yearly by the National Safety Council, Itasca, Illinois. }


BTW I have MANY pistols, guns and rifles. NONE are easily accessible. I judge the risk of a neighbor’s kid screwing up with one was much higher than the need for self defense. That decision might be different if I lived in a high crime area. I always wondered what would happen if a neighborhood voluntarily banned guns. Posted a sign saying “Gun Free Zone”. What do you think would happen to the crime rate there?

Frank Warner

George and Steven,

I've read lots of George Washington's writings, and I've never seen anything in that style. No offense to the hero of the Revolution, but he wrote densely. You almost can't quote him because he never wrote a short, clear sentence.

So I doubt he wrote or said what you're quoting him as writing or saying.

When did he allegedly write or say this?

Frank Warner

And Mark, sorry, I doubt guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense.

Again, who says this is so? How did they come up with that number?


Very fair question. 2.5M is a number I have used probably because I liked it. :-) Let me check.

Here is a quick defense (pun intended) for now:
Department of Justice sponsored a survey in 1994 titled, Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms. This survey estimated 1.5 million defensive gun uses annually.


2.5M? Answer:"Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun," by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, published in that same issue of The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology.

These guys are probably "pro gun".
But the magazine does peer reviews. Here is a cut and paste of one...

Marvin Wolfgang, the late Director of the Sellin Center for Studies in Criminology and Criminal Law at the University of Pennsylvania, considered by many to be the foremost criminologist in the country, wrote in The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Northwestern University School of Law, Volume 86, Number 1, Fall, 1995:

"I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. If I were Mustapha Mond of Brave New World, I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police ... What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. ["Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun," by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, published in that same issue of The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology] The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator. ...I have to admit my admiration for the care and caution expressed in this article and this research. Can it be true that about two million instances occur each year in which a gun was used as a defensive measure against crime? It is hard to believe. Yet, it is hard to challenge the data collected. We do not have contrary evidence. The National Crime Victim Survey does not directly contravene this latest survey, nor do the Mauser and Hart Studies. ... the methodological soundness of the current Kleck and Gertz study is clear. I cannot further debate it. ... The Kleck and Gertz study impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well."

Frank Warner

Wolfgang says he liked the methodology of the gun self-defense study, but this excerpt doesn't hint at what the methodology was.

Generally, how do you arrive at a number of 2.5 million for the times guns are used each year in self-defense? From police reports? From polling?

What would the polling question be? How many times in the past year have you used your gun in self-defense? My guess is, a few handgun enthusiasts probably would say once or twice just to brag. It wouldn't take many faked answers to throw off such a poll.

But I'm willing to look at the methodology.

Yet I also read the papers. I see at least as many reports of people shooting relatives by accident as people using guns in self defense. I also keep in mind that a large number of the guns that criminals use once were legal guns that somehow landed in criminal hands.

My other sense is, in this country, if we had 2.5 million people using handguns each year in self-defense, at least 1 million of those people would be sued by the guys they defended themselves against. Right or wrong, those lawsuits would be flooding the courts. But they're rare.

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