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Dec-12-2009 23:26printcomments

Guns in America

America is a gun culture sui generis; but also a culture based on several false interpretations or presentations of history.

children with toy gun
Kids playing with toy guns has long been considered part of American culture by many.

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Every few years I find a book that changes my entire paradigm about the world—sometimes just a significant part of my world; sometimes my total worldview. The last such book was The User Illusion Tors Nørretranders which I found (by accident) in a book store in May, 1998.

The current book is A Necessary Evil: A history of American distrust of government by Northwestern University historian, Garry Wills, which was suggested to me by my friend and colleague, Henry Clay Ruark.

Wills has written more than 35 books and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (1993). I respect his credentials and recognize him as an authority. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes herein are from Wills’s book. I include page numbers from the hardcover edition so you can, if you wish, verify both the context of a quote and ensure for yourself that I am not misrepresenting what Wills has said.

One thing his book has made clear to me is how the people of America are carrying false mythologies around in their heads and that, as a result, these false ideas have distorted their political and social worlds, and reduced their freedom to act in the world at large. Knowledge is power, said Francis Bacon, the philosophical founder of modern science. My intention in this series of articles, based on what I’ve learned from Wills, is to try to counter those harmful ideas and publicize Wills’s book which I believe every forward-thinking American should read.

For those who might jump to the conclusion that I am just a Canadian sniping at America, let me make clear that this piece is based 100% on Wills and if you have any disputes or complaints, phone him or send him an email at Northwestern University. Attempting to shoot the messenger is counter-productive.

In the American beginning

Courtesy: opposingviews.com

Despite having put men on the moon, America is still stuck in the eighteenth century with its conformity and intellectual tyranny by the majority. The French writer Alexis de Tocqueville is famous for his travels across America which resulted in his book On Democracy in America. He wrote that:

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America…the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases but woe to him if he goes beyond them. The majority live in the perpetual utterance of self-applause.”

Little has changed since the two volumes were published in 1835 and 1840. I am writing outside those bounds which certainly raises some hackles among the more culturally and intellectually insecure.

America is a gun culture sui generis; but also a culture based on several false interpretations or presentations of history. The first is the role of guns in the Revolutionary War; second is the false belief of the role of guns in expanding into the West; and third is the belief in the contradiction that widespread gun ownership makes America safer. Stemming from these is the most egregious of mythologies, that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to privately own and carry guns. This last will be exposed in a subsequent article.

The Seventeenth Century

America was not actually founded on guns. The first thing to note is that in Revolutionary times “there was a drastic shortage of guns. This goes against everything we have assumed about our pioneer forebears—that they vindicated their own liberties with their own arms. But there is overwhelming evidence that a majority of males did not own usable guns. The colonies repeatedly legislated that all men should get or be given guns, and just as repeatedly complained that this had not been accomplished. In the French and Indian War, a contingent of two hundred Virginia militiamen went to the front bearing only eighty muskets, and British officers in Massachusetts, amazed that so few colonials possessed muskets, were even more surprised to find that many had not even fired one.” (p. 27-8)

Washington and his troops crossing the Potomic. en.citizendium.org

Guns for both militias and the Continental Army were so scarce that George Washington fills page after page with laments for his inability to get them—and he meant muskets as well as the even scarcer cannon and artillery. If guns were not omnipresent, then obviously the skill in their use was not widespread either.” (p. 29)

Militias were established by the states, which generally resisted federal attempts to control them. “What was truly feared was not so much going off on other states’ business as having others come into one’s own state. Some locales would rather deal with Indians or smugglers or internal dissent in their own way, without federal oversight or scrutiny. And the greatest fear was felt in the South, where the militia’s one constant use, one that was considered crucial, was to patrol, intimidate, and keep down the slave population.

[Law professor] Carl Bogus has argued very plausibly that uneasiness about the militia’s use against slaves underlay many of the objections raised to federal control of the militia. Patrick Henry was especially touchy on this point. When he had gone to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, he learned how ardent could be the feelings of outsiders about slaves. He carried letters of commendation from Virginia Baptists, whose religious freedom he had defended, for delivery to the famous Quaker philanthropist Anthony Benezet. Henry was asked how he could defend some men’s freedom of religion while denying freedom in its entirety to masses of black slaves. He did not want people who thought like that interfering with Virginia’s slave policies.” (p. 117)

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological trait where a person or group can believe in contradictory ideas with no conscious conflict. It was not only Patrick Henry, but influential Americans from Henry’s time to the present day who do it. It’s a growing battle for the Second Amendment. Carl Bogus poses the issue in an article titled: “Do we place our faith in law or guns”. It’s a dichotomy in society that the American people are going to have to resolve one way or the other—and live with the results.

During the War of 1812, “when Madison tried to federalize New England’s militias for the invasion of Canada, the governors refused to hand them over. Governor Caleb Strong of Massachusetts said that since invasion was not imminent, the militia was not being called, as the Constitution put it, ‘to repel invasion,’ so the law federalizing the militias was null. Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island agreed.” (p. 159)

(I had never heard of this historical detail but, as a Canadian, I am deeply grateful to the memory of Caleb Strong and the other governors.)

The Nineteenth Century and early gun control

The muskets and breech loaders of the eighteenth century were awkward, cumbersome and unreliable. The nineteenth century revolver was an improvement, but still an imperfect weapon. Cowboys carried two guns, because often the first didn’t work. Some carried three or four. They were not worn in holsters because they could not be drawn very quickly and were not very accurate beyond a few yards. Wyatt Earp, for example, mainly used his revolver as a club when arresting people.

Colt single action revolver wheelgun.blogspot.com

Given all these obstacles to pistol use, why was the handgun so popular in the West? Men clearly found it comforting to have a gun they could wear without carrying it or thinking about it. Rifles have to be put down if you are going to do a chore, have a drink, or simply move about. But having the gun always there at one’s waist was also an obstacle, so far as community peace was concerned. It was there for instant use by drunks, hotheads or panicky people. That is why handguns were banned in the cattle towns. The ‘Wild West’ was the birthplace of strict gun control laws. Far from the gun being the tamer of the West, the West had to tame the gun in order to be civilized [my emphasis added]. Kansas, after its bloody experience in the John Brown days, had made it a state law that no vagrants, drunks or former Confederate soldiers could carry ‘a pistol, bowie knife, dirk or other deadly weapon.’ The cattle towns made the restriction much tougher, collecting guns from cowboys and drovers when they came inside the city limits. (Wyatt Earp and his men went to the O.K. corral because they heard the Clantons had not given up their guns in town.) (p. 248)

Famous ‘gun cities’ like Dodge had a year or two of violence when the herds were first driven to them in the early 1870s, but they quickly imposed the gun laws that cut the homicide rates spectacularly. In 1877 and 1882, there were no killings in Dodge City during the cattle season. In other years, the average was one and a half killings, some of those accidental or unconnected with cowboys or marshals.” (p. 248)

In general, the settlement of the West was not a matter of individuals going off into the wilds. The modern frontier was marked by the advance of a technologically more sophisticated culture into a backward one. The technology of the western settlers—in mining and drilling equipment and expertise, railroad expansion, cavalry intelligence and manoeuvre, coordination of market information by telegraph, and a steady influx of manufactured goods—was at the core of settlement.” (p. 249)

Although raw settlements did have unstable conditions at the outset, especially when in conflict with Indian, Mexican or renegade groups, there was a massive social effort to quell those conditions as rapidly as possible. That is why Prohibition, gun control and women’s suffrage were pioneered in the West. The mot successful settlements were the most regimented (the Mormons were outstanding in this regard). Social institutions—churches, schools, newspapers, libraries, theatres, and ‘opera houses’—were introduced and supported by business interests and communal discipline. The federal government supported the whole enterprise with land grants, subsidies to the railroads, and maintenance of the army’s logistical trains. Fiction is full of violent struggles when tracts of territory were thrown open to settlers making a run to stake their claims. When fifteen thousand people made the run into Oklahoma Territory, on the day when it was declared open in 1889, newspaper stories told of shootings, claim jumping, and bloodshed around Guthrie, the ‘instant town’ where claims were recorded. But no one was killed or even wounded.” (p. 249) [my emphasis added]

As W. Eugene Hollon wrote in Frontier Violence: Another Look (1974): “Within thirty-six hours after everyone had arrived at the ‘Magic City’ on the Prairie, this heterogeneous mob had elected a mayor and a council of five members, adopted a city charter, and authorized the collection of a head tax. Within a week, Baptists and Methodists, and Presbyterians were holding church service in tents and planning the construction of permanent church buildings….Six months passed before Oklahoma Territory recorded its first homicide.” (p. 250 in Wills)

The myth of frontier individualism—of the man whose gun made him his own master, free and untrammelled—dies hard. What is excitement for the movies is ideology for the National Rifle Association, which thinks gun control would destroy the spirit that made America great. But the gun did not tame the West. The West had to tame the gun.” (p. 251) [my emphasis added]

There, in a nutshell, is an overview of the last 250 years of guns in America. The American gun culture itself is a new phenomenon, basically since the Second World War and it has evolved along with the increasing militarization of American society. This is part and parcel of the average American’s manufactured fear of government—every man his own private militia—one of the false mythologies many Americans carry around in their heads. There’s a saying that an armed society is a polite society. But such a society is based on fear, with artificial walls erected between people. Under such conditions, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to have a civilized society.

An example of such a culture is Robert A. Heinlein’s science fiction novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which is the social equivalent of the Wild West on the moon. All men are armed and because women are in such a minority, any man who insults or abuses a woman is subject to reprimand up to and including summary execution by other men in the society.

American culture, as a whole, requires a massive paradigm shift if it is to survive the twenty-first century as a world power. American culture is highly dysfunctional and living on past glories—usually mythological.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been active over past decades in supporting and, in the process, changing developing societies. The IMF imposes conditions on loans. They would, for example, specify internal economic policies that would have to be followed by the borrowing country before loans are granted or monies advanced.

I mention this only because America is getting close to the point where China may become America’s IMF. America has put itself in a position where a large lender like China could say to America: Do this and that and we will loan you more or not call in some or all of the outstanding loans. America has two choices; First, lose some of its vaunted sovereignty to a foreign power as a result of its own decades-long, short-sighted and irresponsible profligacy; or, second, fire up the ICBMs.


A note on comments

Salem-News encourages readers to comment on stories. I regard comments to be an extension of an article where a dialogue is established between me and you, the reader. I write, you read; you comment, I listen. Because I am a Canadian and some Americans who read my stuff are hyper-sensitive to the point of incoherence, I am instituting the same posting rules as you will find at The New York Times and many other online sites. We are not The New York Times, but it gives you an idea what online commenting is about.

The main points for which I moderate are:

§ Civility: politeness and respect. I endeavour to respect the reader’s intelligence and sensitivities. I ask for the same in return.

§ I encourage you to use your real name, or at least your real first name. I don’t hide behind a mask.

§ I do not censor comments. They are either approved or not approved.

§ Comments will be posted if they are on-topic and constructive. If your comment is not approved, you will be so informed.

§ I won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence or SHOUTING.

§ I appreciate comments that help to move the topic along—by adding to or confirming the argument or, equally important, refute (but not kneejerk denials) the argument or an important part of the argument.

§ I reserve the right to comment on the comments.

Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which is why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class—a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue. From 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman, Canada’s top business writer (notably a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting. He gave up journalism in the early 1980s because he had no interest in being a hack writer for the mainstream media and became a software developer and programmer. He retired from computers last year and is now back to doing what he loves—writing and trying to make the world a better place

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Stuart December 30, 2009 10:13 am (Pacific time)

Whose kidding who about comparing the 2nd Amend. with the right to drive? This is your basic Distraction 101. Here we have some tinfoil mayors in a few states who believe they can nullify federal laws, and in this below discussion that they can nullify the Bill of Rights. Hey if they can interpret the 2nd for their standards, why not the rest of them, or just re-write the Bill of Rights/U.S. Constitution without the benefit of a mandatory contitutional convention. If Henry Ruark is just trying to stimulate debate, hey have at it, but the Heller decision and over 100 million gun owners are not falling for it, nor are those who are familiar with state and federal case law. Plus I would hope elementary students would see a flaw so big in the drivers license arguement that you could drive a truck through it! Even a union GMC truck.

Al Marnelli December 29, 2009 11:31 am (Pacific time)

To explain the difference between an Amendment in the Bill of Rights and a statuatory state law (can also be an Administrative Rule/Regulation via the DMV and approved by the state Attorney General as is done in Oregon) is apples and oranges. Sure you can make a stretch and attempt to say they are similar but they are not. Our Supreme Court has ruled that the wording in the Second Amendment is about a "natural right." I would suggest that any law or right is "man-made recognition." So is the sound of a falling tree in the forest manmade? When I'm not there I don't hear it, but feel that the sound is made. My recognition even not seeing/hearing it is a manmade construct. Then each state determines what rights a driver has as per their laws. Revoking/suspending a driver's license is done via a state court procedure for whatever reason the statutes spell out. The revocation of gunownership must meet a higher standard, though it is done quite frequently for those in the criminal community and people with mental/emotional problems, the infirmed/aged and those recalcitrants. I also was not dissing Wills historical works (I have read many of his books over the years), but I was pointing out that achieving good reliability and validity standards can be a burdensome process, if not impossible, especially if you are also attempting to have a "control" group in which to compare. The latter is what all responsible researchers like to do when possible from my experience. As far as the Civil War and the millions of weapons that were put into American ownership is an historical fact. Many of these weapons were also sidearms, in fact I have several in a family collection which has been passed on from my ancestors who fought in that war. Do you have relatives who fought in that war? As far as the NRA and them dealing with groups whose primary endgame is confiscation, does not just deal with handguns. Are you familiar with the so-called assault weapons ban? Are you familiar with how many crimes those weapons were involved in during and before that ban, and how many since that law sunsetted? Hint: The law was emotionally based and was without statistical merit. That's why debates should never be one-sided as some would like, the truth only comes out when you have a full airing of "all" available facts. Let me once again emphasize that I am not diminishing Wills historical writings, but there are many writers and other professionals who have specialized in different micro-time periods within the time frame Wills has covered that can help augment the information he has provided. Have a happy New Year HR and other posters. Hope you don't have to do any airline traveling. The recent near bombing incident, was it a crime or a terrorist act? Defining the difference between the two is important in my opinion.

Al, sorry about the delay in getting this posted. It wasn't intentional. Yours and another comment just got sidelined the rush. Daniel

Hank Ruark December 23, 2009 6:19 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al:
Nice try, friend, but no payoff...still "circular". To clarify, that means stating what you see as if it is the fact, entirely unchallengable simply because of "controlled" status conferred by your words alone...I note you have cited not a single link to any other "reliable source" than YOU !!

You wrote:"The driver license comes under the individual state mandate, the Second Amendment is federal, big difference. The Bill of Rights says it all."

So tell us why the state mandate re driver licensing is any less a control of a natural right than the federal write that allows ownership of a gun...esp. that part where you depend,by your own choice of statement,on the BofRights.

If there is ANY credible difference, spell it out for us, please !!

Each is "control of a really deadly weapon" (any driver today will agree !); neither is "natural right", simply a rule established by people for rational, reasonable mnagement of a tool for living demanding supervision since so often put to malign and dangerous use.

SO explain why "the Second" is "natural" and nationally controlled; while "driver" is simply lower/level mandate.
WHO says so besides YOU ??
Where's YOUR source ? What reliable,authoritative,well-
accepted, widely published and voluminously-quoted one can you name ? --Parallel to the Wills book, that is...

You will find the decision is simply man-made (aided by the Supremes, themselves also a man/made group !).

Re yr unsubtle attempt at devaluing Wills' research and years of study, esp. your distortion of public record fact re Civil War holdover on guns, and failure to state that NRA, as shown by its very name, was established as a RIFLE-control group to help make sure owners could safely manage what they owned...and then shifted to handgun cover when that became where the money was...and still IS !

That set of facts does not denigrate NRA but simply states accurately what their history shows very clearly.

Given choice of Wills work and your old profs back East, let us know what they have published, in what fields, with what acceptance, awards and sales to millions, please.
Grd/level teaching is very demanding profession; but it is certainly not equivalent with established decades-deep worldwide reputation of Wills, noted for his work in this particular area of history.
Will you now name your gurus for comparison here by record of what they have published, and its worldwide acceptance ?

Stay tuned for next-part from DJ, which unavoidably now will explore and clarify much of these distortions attempted to kill off the potent impact of the Wills analysis, well examined here just in time for the reversal of the trend now so clear, examined in my Op Ed currently running, too.

Perhaps some-serious here will see close configuration of the various single "trees" involved in this massive main "forest", with all its shadowy parts demanding explanation best achieved by honest dialog displaying analysis by many.

Al Marnelli December 23, 2009 4:10 pm (Pacific time)

DJ that is a nice bit of info re: the probate records, but as you must know it would not be considered a valid statistical sample for all of the colonies and the outlying areas that were growing very quickly with westward migration. Of course just designing what would represent a valid statistical sample would be quite a challenge unto itself. That's why I earlier mentioned those gun collectors who sometime back mentioned getting records of gun manufacturers' sales, which [may] give a better insight on ownership all over the colonies during specific times, but still reliability and validity would be a tough thing to achieve. You should keep in mind that the people back in those days were pretty distrustful of government (like for many currently) and for firearms not to be in one's inventory list may be more of a norm than otherwise, plus admitting to owning firearms or providing a wrong number of guns owned may have been the prudent thing for them to do. That War of 1812 demonstrates how the English Crown kept people skeptical about their safety even after the Revolutionary War ended years before that one. A review of current literature also shows people are concerned about personal safety. Though I readily admit I do not know and have not researched this but I have some friends back east who have better info and will see if I can get more info from them. They are the kind of historians (retired) that drool over old (regardless of languages) journals, diaries, family bibles or whatever they can get their hands on. They were my former history profs quite a while ago when I was an undergrad. DJ comparing early times to the present, there is no law where I live that compels me to answer how many firearms I own and until there is I won't volunteer the info. I have weapons that were given to me by relatives that were not part of a probate record. I have also given firearms to my adult children and have sold a bunch over the years. Registration records are not required where I am from. All my kids at a young age were provided gun safety training and were continuously updated as they aged. They are doing the same for their children. I also saw that the NRA was established about ten years after the Civil War, and no doubt there were millions of firearms that were created during and after that war that most likely got disbursed widely as veterans moved around. You know as I think about it DJ, there is probably a wealth of info that would be available from gun collectors because these people spend some big bucks on these old firearms so it would be very important for them to know how to accurately authenticate them because when money is involved people don't want to be taken to the cleaners with fake firearms, plus they would most likely know more of the history than someone who didn't have the time and experience as some and may be more like a transient traveler in this period of American history,who knows. DJ I want to thank you for writing this article for it sure has generated considerable interest by the looks of all the posts. I did notice earlier posts that dealt with individual firearm ownership rights that compared the right to have a drivers license as similar. The driver license comes under the individual state mandate, the Second Amendment is federal, big difference. The Bill of Rights says it all. Well here's wishing you all some happy holidays, I am heading for some beautiful mountains in Northeast Oregon, so will have a white xmas with loads of family. Even a younger brother, an OB/GYN, who never seems to get away from his practice is going to make it there from Portland. Be safe everybody.

Al, have a great Yule break. We’ll be talking again in January, no doubt, when I post the next installment. Happy holidays to everyone that took part.

Hank Ruark December 23, 2009 10:33 am (Pacific time)

Friend Al:
You done did it again !
"Circular", that is...you wrote: "but I've been trained to be skeptical about numbers in research unless I can review how those numbers were arrived at, and even then I have found faulty research methodologies."

This re Wills classic book, with him, you must admit, far more qualified for analysis and research of available record than you have shown yourself to be,at least here.

IF you to make this point, please favor us with ID so we can evaluate which of you two we should now believe --YOU or WILLS.

Fair enough ? This simply to support and make-cling the Wills quote already supplied by D.J.

BTW, have you made any more effort to find, check, skim or review by Amazon easy-access the very book you find so demanded, we must believe psychologically, to question and criticize ?

IF you so meticulous re your reserch on number-claims, sure seems other steps might also occur to you.

Hank Ruark December 23, 2009 10:23 am (Pacific time)

P.Morrison: You wrote:"I noticed a below poster compared guns to driver's licenses, well that's an erroneous connection and has no merit for comparison. Driver's licenses are constantly pulled and suspended/revoked for violations , but owning a firearm and suspending that right comes under a much higher standard, and has been that way for long before cars came onto the scene." Try telling millions totally dependent on cars to move to jobs and rest-of-life that the license to drive is not surely "a natural right". As for ALL other "rights", it depends on who does the defining, and on absolutely demanded social control for exercise of such, when provisionally granted, as for all "rights". Do you contend our legal view of "rights" has not been under choice and control of Supremes, ever since Court first convened ?? Do you contend ANY right is not subject to control by the society, cannot be denied, or fully controlled by that same society ? If so, you are either very naive or deeply, damagingly misinformed. Test: Offer your view in any legislature, in any state, or at Congressional hearing. The whole concept of ANY "natural right" proceeds from early-century philosophical discussions, wellknown to our Founders. Are YOU familiar with those, or with discussion in The Federalist Papers reflecting painful, protracted, perhaps often even angry, dialog among the Founders ? If not, perhaps you should further inform yourself. If you need references, ID self to Editor with working phone for further booklist or documentation. Small fee: $25, inevitable from professional writer, covers preparation of quality report. WHY should I give away hard work, often done prior to need here, then billed at much higher cost to client ??!!

Al Marnelli December 23, 2009 7:26 am (Pacific time)

DJ: Regarding the ownership of firearms prior to the establishment of the NRA, one can only guess how accurate that information would be, plus how valid the survey constructs. Years ago I was talking to some gun collectors and they mentioned that researching gun manufacturers of the early time periods gives a better estimate of gun ownership within the population. Of course getting records of gun manufacturers (here and in Europe) that no longer exist would be pretty tough, this is where a good background in survey statistics would come in handy for the plus/minus percentage. Also if you break it down in a geographical context, for example in rural and wilderness areas and different settlements where people had to hunt for food more so than in urban areas. As people migrated west, having a firearm was essential for not only food but for protection. Also many of the soldiers from the different wars/conflicts and conscription service kept their issued firearms. Lots of guns left over from the Civil War era also. Did Wills cover any of that kind of available info, albeit, more energy required in that kind of research. I don't know about you, but I've been trained to be skeptical about numbers in research unless I can review how those numbers were arrived at, and even then I have found faulty research methodologies. Firearms back then were still needed for self protection as they are now also. Guns have been part of American culture for long before we told the King about our Declaration of Independence. Getting at the percentage of the population that had them may be a matter of controversey I believe. I read where there are nearly 100 million gun owners in America, so if you take the number of adults in our 300 million population, you have a pretty good percentage of gun owners here and the law abiding citizen who owns a firearm is statistically much safer than those who don't.

Here’s what Wills wrote: “In one of the most important (but neglected) studies of the colonial frontier, Michael Bellesiles went through over a thousand probate records covering the years 1763 to 1790 from western sectors of New England and Pennsylvania. Though these were inheritance lists for white males (those most likely to own guns), and though belongings were listed in great detail (down to broken mugs), only 14 percent of men owned guns, and 53 percent of those guns were broken or unusable.” p. 29

D. Fredricks December 22, 2009 8:28 pm (Pacific time)

How does that saying go Tim? Do as I say, not as I do? I won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence or SHOUTING.

DJ: I posted those rules for my articles, not Tim. I’ll bet you were personally offended by the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction”. Sounds like your New Year’s resolution should be: Get a life.

D. Fredricks December 22, 2009 8:12 pm (Pacific time)

"Here’s my take on people in the gun culture. People band together in groups which eventually become societies like Canada the U.S. There are several levels of banding together, but the main ones are for mutual protection and division of labour. What gun people like yourself are saying is simple: Society has failed, so in this area it’s every man for himself! That’s the law of the jungle. Are you acknowledging, then, that the great experiment in democracy called the United States has failed? Here in Canada we don’t need guns because we believe that the greater society has its purposes and they work. Our significantly lower homicide is a testament to that. There are, of course, still knives, fists and blunt instruments but, hey, you know what happens."

Let's get the definitions correct. The US isn't a democracy- it's a republic. Always has been. Don't put words in my mouth, society hasn't failed any more that it began as a failure. Guns have always been a part of society. Crime and violent crime happens- trust me I know. You never answered my question so I take it you have no reasonable answer.

I know that protecting myself, my family or others are why I carry a gun. You speak from a theoretical standpoint but that doesn't keep people from being killed.

I'm not sure if I would use the phrase "Here in Canada WE..." since there are currently "1,841,154 valid firearm licences" in Canada- true only about 5% of the country but the dramatic downsizing occurred after the 1996 c-68 which drastically restricted gun ownership.

Also, someone must be thinking they need gun ownership and restrictions rolled back since there is a current bill that has passed the House of Commons (C-391)to abolish registration for all except restricted firearms.

Are we different from Canada? Yep. We have a much larger crime rate and although shootings aren't a US invention, we seem to have refined it. Is the alternative confiscation of firearms? Allow some to die to make others FEEL safer?

Your idea that guns have always been a part of your culture is completely false. Reread the article where Wills explains how, during the Revolutionary war, the vast majority of men did not have working firearms. And so it was for the next century. Guns have only become important in American society since the founding of the NRA in the mid-19th century. That's the main reason why other societies--Canada, Japan, UK, etc--did not become gun cultures. No NRA.

D. Fredricks December 22, 2009 4:35 pm (Pacific time)

"While decriminalized acts are no longer crimes, they may still be the subject of penalties; for example a monetary fine in place of a criminal charge for the possession of a decriminalized drug. This should be contrasted with legalization, which removes all or most legal detriments from a previously illegal act."  You go on and on about marijuana. What’s your point?" My point? You're wrong. Your arrogance in spite of your ignorance of the drug issue shows that you don't care about the truth and would rather spout off about things rather than do real investigative research.

Tim King:  No, I have a major preference for the complete and total truth and I do not mind admitting mistakes, when I have to.  This is all semantics, and the word really means the legal penalty was lessened, but not removed.  It was still against the law, like speeding.  Are all traffic crimes are not crimes?  Anyone with marijuana during that time period would have received an infraction, or ticket.  If they didn't pay the ticket it could become a warrant, and land their ass in jail.  I think decriminalized is correct as a technical term for that period in the 1970's, OK?  But it was still never legal and that is what you seemed to initially imply.   During those years in Alaska, it was actually not illegal for a person to have it in their home, that would be the real definition of something being decriminalized in my opinion.   

D. Fredricks December 22, 2009 4:32 pm (Pacific time)

Really? that's your answer "Sh#t happens." (which contradicts your own comment rules, by the way). So, why not just say you don't HAVE an answer on how to protect yourself, instead "sh#t happens." Not what I would consider the best answer when a guy is threatening to kill you or your family. Do you doom everyone to the same fate as you and your family? Instead of a "sheep" answer, why not let a person protect their family or at least have the chance to protect their family. It seems to me you have not really confronted the issue or if you have, are happy to have your family or others killed.  Take a look at your family and determine which ones you are ok with let being killed.

Here’s my take on people in the gun culture. People band together in groups which eventually become societies like Canada the U.S. There are several levels of banding together, but the main ones are for mutual protection and division of labour. What gun people like yourself are saying is simple: Society has failed, so in this area it’s every man for himself! That’s the law of the jungle. Are you acknowledging, then, that the great experiment in democracy called the United States has failed? Here in Canada we don’t need guns because we believe that the greater society has its purposes and they work. Our significantly lower homicide is a testament to that. There are, of course, still knives, fists and blunt instruments but, hey, you know what happens.

Phil Morrison December 22, 2009 9:28 am (Pacific time)

I saw the recent report from the FBI that all crimes went down in the first six months of 2009, that includes homicides, violent crimes and property crimes. My theory is that because there has been a huge upsurge in the purchase of firearms/guns, whatever, and the criminals are being more cautious. Certainly the crimes of passion would not essentially slow down (an unfortunate aspect of human nature it seems), but the predatory criminals out there are getting the word that people are not waiting on the cops to take care of them, so they are armed and ready to confront them. Still having this crime rate go down really blows holes in the gun-grabber's theories that more guns create an atmosphere that will increase the crime rate. I expect the Supreme Court Justices to continue to rule that private gun ownership is a natural right. I noticed a below poster compared guns to driver's licenses, well that's an erroneous connection and has no merit for comparison. Driver's licenses are constantly pulled and suspended/revoked for violations , but owning a firearm and suspending that right comes under a much higher standard, and has been that way for long before cars came onto the scene. Those who are attempting to stop gun ownership will never prevail in the forseeable future. With the incredibly high drop out rates, I imagine that a future upsurge in crime will be a reality as has been predicted by numerous professionals in law enforcement, so self-protection is going to be even more important in the future.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 11:09 pm (Pacific time)

"While decriminalized acts are no longer crimes, they may still be the subject of penalties; for example a monetary fine in place of a criminal charge for the possession of a decriminalized drug. This should be contrasted with legalization, which removes all or most legal detriments from a previously illegal act."

You go on and on about marijuana. What’s your point?

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 11:07 pm (Pacific time)

"475.864 Unlawful possession of marijuana. (1) It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess marijuana. (2) Unlawful possession of marijuana is a Class B felony. (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2) of this section, unlawful possession of marijuana is a violation if the amount possessed is less than one avoirdupois ounce of the dried leaves, stems and flowers of the plant Cannabis family Moraceae. A violation under this subsection is punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000. Fines collected under this subsection shall be forwarded to the Department of Revenue for deposit in the Criminal Fine and Assessment Account established under ORS 137.300. (4) Notwithstanding subsections (2) and (3) of this section, unlawful possession of marijuana is a Class C misdemeanor if the amount possessed is less than one avoirdupois ounce of the dried leaves, stems and flowers of the plant Cannabis family Moraceae and the possession takes place in a public place, as defined in ORS 161.015, that is within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private elementary, secondary or career school attended primarily by minors." Subsection (3)- a violation, not a crime.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 11:03 pm (Pacific time)

Oh, and in Oregon, less than one ounce of Marijuana is a violation only.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 11:02 pm (Pacific time)

Outside of your "book review" do you feel that we are really safer without guns? What is YOUR alternative to active shooters, mental people with knives, etc. Give an alternative and I would be willing to take a look at it.."

Sh*t happens. That’s all I can say.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 10:25 pm (Pacific time)

Now, there's a surprise. You get pressed for an answer and you block dialog...

I don’t have time to go through all the posts. You could have just repeated your question. Instead, you insulted me. If you want to continue posting to this site, you know what your options are.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 9:56 pm (Pacific time)

try reading

You’re gone. Any future posts from you will just be deleted. Have a nice day.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 6:12 pm (Pacific time)

 Daniel:  I know, but it was going from felony to misdemeanor, so there never was a time here that it was actually legal, but it was in Alaska! Oh, and Oregon decriminaltized Oregon Legislature Ends 24 Years Of Marijuana Decriminalization

July 3, 1997 - Salem, OR, USA Governor John Kitzhaber (D) signed legislation at the eleventh hour last night that recriminalizes the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. House Bill 3643 increases the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a non-criminal "violation" to a class C misdemeanor crime. Under the new law, individuals would be arrested and, if convicted, could face up to 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and loss of their driving privileges for six months.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 6:10 pm (Pacific time)

So, are you going to answer the question and stop sidetracking the conversation?

What was the question, again?

Hank Ruark December 21, 2009 2:14 pm (Pacific time)

Al M.: Still dozen or so ahead of you on questions, including full details of your ID and ostensible special experience conferring right to speak on issues here. Isue raised by revolving nature of your comments so far - somewhat dizzying without knowledge of plague involved. You go first, kid; age has its privileges, in my case justly earned, esp. re your irrelevant questions again reflecting that same circular plague - what you see as sure "right" when it may well be only sure Right. Re guns, you said the right word: Control, via elected representatives properly open to citizen contact and much more carefully chosen, and with due mutual consideration worked out with Supremes, soon to be shaped differently in any case. Re even remote possibility of any connection or relevance to issues here of yours in last sentence, that in itself is excellent demonstration of that same ol' devil plague...

Al Marnelli December 21, 2009 12:14 pm (Pacific time)

Ha ha. You got me on that DJ, I was in the middle of a phone conversation and put in the wrong name. You got the point I assume. I shall endeavor to be more accurate in the future. Thanks for your patience and whimsy humor. Appears this Hatfield guy is looking for the McCoy clan? Henry I see where you stated you are a veteran. Where did you serve during WWII, Europe of the Pacific or were you more back in the safe areas like London, Hawaii or the states? What branch of the military? If Army, you have a CIB? What is your opinion on gun ownership? Should we have more laws? Have them confiscated? FBI report on AP today shows homicide went down 10% first half of this year. So we have had record sales in both guns and ammo, the economy is in the tank, but homicide goes down. You have an explanation for that? Thanks friend Henry.

Hank Ruark December 21, 2009 11:35 am (Pacific time)

Friend Ken: Might even turn out to be same Secret Service top guys from previous collaborations growing from both reporting and consultation...if they've lived this long, too !! One covered depredations by large-city educational media buyers receiving commercial producer products, copying in quantity and distributing to their schools. Quantities involved cost over $500,000 in several such situations. Coverage and revelations including testimony by those involved in coverage brought on some changes in copyright law to more strong support proper purchases beyond point then covered.

Vic December 21, 2009 11:33 am (Pacific time)

One thing I have recently learned is that Mexico is not nearly as restrictive on gun ownership as I thought. Generally, citizens are restricted by law to: Handguns of .380 Auto or .38 Special revolvers or smaller in either case, shotguns of 12 gauge or smaller, with barrels longer than 25 inches, and rifles, bolt action and semi-auto. Handguns in calibers bigger than those mentioned above are forbidden from private ownership.

Hank Ruark December 21, 2009 11:26 am (Pacific time)

Yay Vic ! Go, amigo, go...from South and North-both we may be able to offset some of this s... and substitute some pragmatic realism for responsible persons to perceive (!?) and perhaps even to propose to others and assist in solid progressive practicalities.

Hank Ruark December 21, 2009 11:22 am (Pacific time)

Ken Hatffield: Please note that review cited contains this statement: "...suggests that the invasion of Iraq was not an isolated case but an extension of settled American policy." Before you fire off that futile "big gun" you so dramatically flourish,you best check out standard American histories where very similar solidly-supporting statements are made by trained historians. I assume your experience does not confer their skills and methods, despite patriotic flourish as you self-define it. I'm also vet with some very ironic experiences and share with Dan in his portrayals, so challenge you to include me also in your hateful and most erroneous threat of special group retaliation for our exer cise of Constitutional rights under the First Amendment. There ARE kind and levels of patriotism, with some going in different directions than you so revealingly choose to state here.

Vic December 21, 2009 11:13 am (Pacific time)

Ken...are you the same armchair warrior that called the Secret Service on me last year for something I wrote here? I recognize your manic style of threats. It must give you a feeling of power....I do not agree with a lot of what DJ says, but your response is way out of the realm of reality. And for the record, "Overthrow" is factual history that anyone can verify....sorry to say. And I would like to thank you, Ken because that SS visit was one of the main things that helped my wife and I decide to move down here to Mexico...and it has been one of the best decisions we have made. Unfortunately for wanna-be Stalins like yourself...we still have our laptop, and the internet...so now you have "terrorists" sending propaganda from not just the North, but the South as well....

Al Marnelli December 21, 2009 11:04 am (Pacific time)

Ersun do you know how many countries that have private firearm ownership for their citizens are dictatorships? Then how many that forbid private firearm ownership are dictatorships? The United States and Canada provide private ownership, and we Americans have it in our Bill of Rights, I don't know how Canada addresses their ownership, but we are not dictatorships. Does Cuba allow it? Uganda? Albania? Myanmar? etc.? I just don't know what countries you are referencing? Do you believe that we should have all firearms confiscated? Regarding hunting, we actually have more deer and elk than we did 100 years ago, but that is another matter. Henry I did not say that the quote I referenced in a below post, and you inquired about was mine, obviously. Words to live by, for those of us who understand the basic overview of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Daniel I have not read the "Overview", nor do I plan on doing so, but I still have highly qualified opinions with substantial sources that show why Americans will never change, much less give up our inalienable rights our Founders so intelligently exposed as not something a government can take away.

So you haven’t read “Overview”. That’s fine. The book I recommend is Overthrow. I can understand why you’re not reading it. Facts might interfere with your “argument”. LOL

Ken Hatfield December 21, 2009 9:49 am (Pacific time)

DJ your statement "I'm serious about this: Anyone who has not read Overthrow does not know what the American government has done in the name of the people. If you haven't read it, you're not qualified to comment" pretty well establishes that I, as an American, a combat decorated veteran, must, in your hateful and hostile opinion, subordinate my comments to a Canadian who claims to know better than we Americans. I consider you an external terrorist trying to overthrow my country with hostile propaganda who is being aided and abetted by someone of similar hostile intensity. I am making a formal complaint to DHS, the FBI, and the State Department. Your full name and residential address (with google map location) will be put on the internet immediately and all veterans organizations, including the Oathkeepers will be appraised of what danger you present for us Americans, in my opinion. May you receive all you got coming you lowlife criminal terrorist!

Off your meds today, Ken?. Overthrow is written by NYT foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer. He’s probably in the U.S., so you can send the FBI right to his house.

Here’s the Library Journal review of the book:

New York Times foreign correspondent Kinzer has collected 14 cases in which the United States overthrew another government, starting with the 1893 annexation of Hawaii. By doing so, he creates an image of U.S. policymakers as arrogant, ignorant, and driven entirely by self-interest. His analysis of overthrow operations in Cuba, the Philippines, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Grenada, Iran, Vietnam, Chile, and Afghanistan suggests that the invasion of Iraq was not an isolated case but an extension of settled American policy. Kinzer considerably vitiates his thesis, however, by ignoring the two world wars entirely, even though the wartime aim of the Allies in Europe, for instance, was explicitly regime change. He overreaches in arguing that 9/11 stemmed directly from the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953, an assertion he originally made in All the Shah's Men. The chapter on Iraq attacks the Bush administration, comparing its mistakes to those of presidents from William McKinley on. Although not a balanced portrayal, this book is recommended as an addition to collections on foreign affairs.

It was reviewed by Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS.
That’s two more names to feed your paranoid fantasy.

Vic December 21, 2009 8:37 am (Pacific time)

" If you haven't read it, you're not qualified to comment." WTF? So now in order to be "qualified" to post MY OPINION, I have to read not one but two books..??..It is impossible to have discourse when one person sets himself up as the all-knowing possessor of all wisdom, and then dictates to the rest of us the terms of "qualification". Ill pass on this Sniff-and-Piss game... Arrogance and self-righteousness are cheap suits that look good on no one...

You read my “Facts” article, Vic. It’s about knowledge. If you are one of the citizens who is aware of your nation’s criminal behaviour by some of your leaders on behalf of their capitalist bosses, then you don’t have to read the book (but it would be useful, further education). But so many people deny, with little or no knowledge, some of my factual assertions, I refer them to legitimate American sources like Kinzer’s book. If they want to argue with Kinzer or the facts I present, then our discussion can be fruitful if we are talking about the same “facts”. By "our", I'm referring to the readership in general. Discussions with you are always fruitful.

D. Fredricks December 21, 2009 7:31 am (Pacific time)

oh, and Oregon decriminalized marijuana in 1973. Do a little research, kiddo.

Editor: D, there has never been a time in recent history that Oregon had legalized or fully decriminalized marijuana.  In 1973 sanctions were lowered, but it did not become legal to use or possess, so you are the one in error.  Funny, I would at least think you would give us credit on this subject.  The only U.S. state in recent years to actually separate marijuana from any type of crime is Alaska, and even then it doesn't affect the federal laws.

Henry Clay Ruark December 20, 2009 6:22 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al M."
  You quote statement re Constitution, obscuring clear statement that it is yours.
  If NOT yours, cite source.
IF it IS yours, albeit well done and not only very sensible but also sentimental, it is STILL ONLY YOURS...which is another way to define the  plague of "circular reasoning" where we started.

  We await your clarification  as to original from you or if from another source, naming that source, please.

  Best personal wishes of the season, sir; still open for coffee (gun or no !), with contact via Editor Tim.

D. Fredricks December 20, 2009 4:48 pm (Pacific time)

Well, we're certainly safer here in Canada, without guns. The problem unfolding here is all the guns being smuggled into the country from the U.S. No system is perfect and there will always be random, uncontrollable happenings.Another "Made in America" problem we have is your ridiculous war on drugs. Our federal government a few years ago was getting ready to decriminalize (not legalize) marijuana but they held back for fear of what the wacky Bush crowd would do to retaliate. In many ways, the U.S. is NOT a good neighbor."Annnnnd, you still haven't answered my question. I asked you for your answer to active shooters, robbers and carjackers. Still waiting. . .As far as the "war on drugs," and your silly rationale that decriminalization was held up based on "the wacky bush crowd," my question to you is, Why would that matter? Canada is suppose to be a sovereign nation. Do you expect us to believe your excuse is that decriminalization did not pass because of the USA? If that is the case, why did Oregon decriminalize it over two decades ago? Are you telling me that in 1973, the Quaker Republican President (Nixon) was less conservative that Bush? OR, That he would allow Oregon to decriminalize Cannabis but George Bush, had more influence over Canada to keep it from happening there? Really?

Oregon has decriminalized marijuana? Shows how misinformed you are and why your comments don’t need to be taken seriously. As far as America being a bully neighbor, I suggest you read Stephen Kinzer’s, book Overthrow. A Review Kinzer describes the thirteen legitimate, many democratically elected governments the U.S. has overthrown or undermined over the last century. American actions, in its own business, interests have resulted in the poverty, death and condemnation of millions of people—including its own citizens. American leaders--on behalf of their capitalist overseers--are ruthless.

Kinzer wrote: “Americans have a profoundly compassionate side. Many not only appreciate the freedom and prosperity with which they have been blessed but fervently wish to share their good fortune with others. Time and again, they have proved willing to support foreign interventions that are presented as missions to rescue less fortunate people.” (p. 83) and concluded that “Almost every American overthrow of a foreign government has left in its wake a bitter residue of pain and anger. Some have led to the slaughter of innocents. Others have turned whole nations, and even whole regions of the world, into violent cauldrons of anti-American passion.” (p. 302)

I'm serious about this: Anyone who has not read Overthrow does not know what the American government has done in the name of the people. If you haven't read it, you're not qualified to comment.

Ersun Warncke December 20, 2009 4:15 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel, thank you for more insightful work. I am really interested in reading this book now. Personally, I have always viewed gun culture as mostly harmless but somewhat silly. I grew up playing with guns, so it is nothing to me. At the same time, the idea of a gun as a self defense implement is absurd to me. I have always found that guns create more problems than they solve, and cause people to do ridiculous things. Almost across the board, the most heavily armed societies are the least free, most violent, and least habitable. Often, the most heavily armed societies are ruled by dictatorships. In the US, gun culture is driven heavily by advertising. It is just a business. The NRA is nothing but the public relations wing of the small arms manufacturers, and they spread their b.s. around at every opportunity to boost sales. The election of Obama was a banner event for them. At the end of the day, a gun is a tool to kill or intimidate people, or other animals. If you think you need a tool to kill and intimidate people, then you have a pretty high burden to demonstrate your case. A lot of people like guns just because they are fun. I am fine with that. People play with fireworks all the time, which are really just a kind of bomb. However, nobody should buy into the NRA b.s., because it is just stupid. If you want to play with guns, go ahead, but don't pretend like it is a fulfillment of your social responsibilities or delude yourself into believing that it improves your security.

Daniel December 20, 2009 3:38 pm (Pacific time)

Tim please set up a way to have everyone register and use only one name . I will no longer waste my time reading anything by posters who keep changing their name like AL M . Thanks Daniel ,not Daniel Johnson

DJ: I agree with Daniel. I respond as honestly as I can to commenters, but if they are not honest, everything breaks down. It’s also a waste of Tim’s time to be sorting them out. There are many websites that require some sort of registration. A person can easily use a nom de plume—and that’s perfectly okay, as long as they are consistent and honest in their use.

Ken Hatfield December 20, 2009 12:58 pm (Pacific time)

I noticed that Daniel Johnson feels it was Bush that stopped the legalization of marijuana. I had no idea he had that power over your elected leaders in Canada. As far as us being a bad neighbor, then how should we view Canada as the largest exporter of "Meth"? Just google that fact. As far as illegal guns being smuggled into Canada, well it appears that your gun situation has nothing to do with us but the behavior of your own countrymen. You should quit blaming and look for solutions like we have been successfully doing as pointed out by one of your academics below.

"Gun control has not worked in Canada. Since the new gun registration program started in 1998, the U.S. homicide rate has fallen, but the Canadian rate has increased. The net cost of Canada's gun registry has surged beyond $1-billion -- more than 500 times the amount originally estimated. Despite this, the Canadian government recently admitted it could not identify a single violent crime that had been solved through registration. Public confidence in the government's ability to fight crime has also eroded, with one recent survey showing only 17% of voters support the registration program. So, if this hasn't worked, what's the solution? "Canada's violent crime rate is now higher than in the United States. Our burglary and assault rates are particularly frightening, and illegal handguns are increasingly misused in our largest cities."

Gary A. Mauser, professor, Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C." Maybe it's time to legalize all guns and do what we in the United States do, afterall we should all work together because we have so many common interests, except the meth situation. Our guns will never go away in the long forseeable future, nor will Canada be able to stop the march towards having gun ownership along the same lines we have here. Just 17% of Canadians are on the same page as you Daniel Johnson.

I suggest you take a course in remedial reading. I said: “wacky Bush crowd” which nullifies the rest of your statement. I didn't say "legalization", I said "decriminalization", which is different (I specified in parentheses that it wasn't legalization). I also said “homicide” rates and you bring up “violent crime”, one of which is a subset of the other. Homicide rate in U.S. is still nearly triple that of Canada’s. My stats are from UN world figures. If you want to debate points, stay with the same ones.

You refer to Mauser as a source. He is a dual American/Canadian citizen and he is an associate of the Fraser Institute which is a very far right group which has even less than 17% of the population behind it. He definitely has a pro-gun bias before he even starts.

Al Marnelli December 20, 2009 9:41 am (Pacific time)

Daniel and Vic, the below statement sums up my understanding and personal assessment of what the U.S. Constitution means: "The constitution does not define our rights, it defines the limits on government. Our rights are granted by God not government, and government cannot take them away. Our government was established by and for us and was granted by us certain limited powers and only those limited powers. Our government serves at our pleasure to defend our nation and our rights. It does not RULE over us." There is a minority of limited thinkers who do not like this definition, and constantly attempt to misinterpret what it means by usually picking out Founder's phrases out of context and weaving them into their intentional misleading statements. For example they exclaim how they will change the Supreme Court an then change the interpretations they disagree with. But they always fail to understand just how our government is structured, neverless they continue their circular and angry pursuits, never understanding that they are on a fools errand. Now these are the kinds of people who may need some government oversight if they present a clear and present danger to us law abiding citizens. There is a big difference between a "right" and a "privilige", constitutionally speaking, but the distractors will never understand that reality. Fortunately the vast majority of the American voter is immune to these shallow thinkers. Vic good luck with your article and glad you saw the stats regarding Mexico's homicide rate. Keep in mind the different gun laws between our two countries and how much lower our homicide rate is.

Lower homicide rate? There are so many pro-gun commenters saying that, against all evidence. 2008 U.N stats show Mexico at 10/100,000; U.S. at 5.8 and Canada at 1.83.

D. Fredricks December 20, 2009 8:17 am (Pacific time)

The nice thing is, many people see this article for what it is, 'head in the sand,' pacifist blogging. Your feelings on the second amendment notwithstanding, Americans will never give up their guns, we understand this is a God given right, affirmed by the Constitution; a right to protect ourselves, not necessarily from a tyrannical government, rather from the random violence that takes place here and everywhere. Outside of your "book review" do you feel that we are really safer without guns? What is YOUR alternative to active shooters, mental people with knives, etc. Give an alternative and I would be willing to take a look at it..

Well, we're certainly safer here in Canada, without guns. The problem unfolding here is all the guns being smuggled into the country from the U.S. No system is perfect and there will always be random, uncontrollable happenings.

Another "Made in America" problem we have is your ridiculous war on drugs. Our federal government a few years ago was getting ready to decriminalize (not legalize) marijuana but they held back for fear of what the wacky Bush crowd would do to retaliate. In many ways, the U.S. is NOT a good neighbor.

Henry Clay Ruark December 19, 2009 6:11 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Vic: We know you will tell it true as you really see it, with all due concern for wide shaping differences in Mexican and American culture, society, economics and history.

Vic December 19, 2009 4:58 pm (Pacific time)

Al...After actually doing some research,I have to admit that you are right re crime statistics in Mexico. There are fewer murders, but the US has three times the population....soooo, higher rate per capita.. Kinda throws me a bit, but still plan on doing my article..:) Maybe it will make it that much more interesting.....

Henry Clay Ruark December 19, 2009 2:51 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al: Privilege is a form of "right", Al: privilege (as in "prerogative") n. : a right reserved exclusively by a particular person or group (especially a hereditary or official right); "suffrage was the prerogative of white adult males". That's what a license granted by govt. at any level gives the holder --and I do believe you will face millions who see driving their own car,provided by their own efforts, as at least as much a right as any gun. Distortion of meaning for clear terms is one recognized symptom of circular reasoning, by the way, well known both to critics and skillful writers. Point here from start simply repeats Federalist/anti-Fed. struggle which shaped our Constitution, forcing Founders into prescient language famed for flexible interpretation by whomever controls Supremes -- one flaw we will someday fix. You're welcome to your own reading, as millions are also welcom to their gun(s) under current interpretation by this selective Supremes-set. But that doth not deny or defy the decencies demanded via social lawful control. If that control at fault in any location, democratic means can shape and change. Meanwhile be sure NOT to bring gun for our coffee...no longer can trust your perhaps shaky self-control !!

Al Marnelli December 19, 2009 7:52 am (Pacific time)

Henry that is a classic when you compare the government's regulation of driving privileges with the Second Amendment (a recognized natural right, not a privilege). That has been refuted so many times by the courts, but still I'm not surprised when it comes up again. It just demonstrates the view that for a minority of people, they believe in government having power over the people instead of the way it is suppose to be in our form of governance. We fought the Revolutionary War to defeat that way of thinking. When it comes to exercising my informed opinion I do have a significant background, but my opinion is no more important than one who does not have my experience or someone who has more experience. Opinions are what gives us the ideas to drive us to improve, in my opinion. I will use primary sources and recognized professionals when called for. Have you ever had to use lethal force to protect yourself, loved ones, friends and those who needed help in a violent situation? Henry I am glad that you were able to revisit that 1940's radio broadcast and hear FDR provide that Second Amendment "endorsement" you innitially claimed would not be possible. Americans are okay with reasonable gun laws, but the ones in Chicago, DC, and other similar locations have been clearly rejected. Do you favor the gun laws in these places? Vic pleased you feel safe in Mexico. I go to the lower Baja a couple times a year and have generally felt safe, but things are changing for the worse. The link I provided in an earlier post clearly shows that the firearm and non-firearm homicide rate in Mexico is approx. 3 times that of the states. Familiar with the saying: "What part of the elephant the blind man touches becomes the elephant"? Our reality is based on our empirical experience and most importantly our ability to interpret that incoming info. Daniel your point about "individual self-defense" is well said, but my meaning (and I guess I should have been more clear) was in the context of imminent danger when one had to engage in self defense because of the immediate need to confront the life threatening situation. I am a big proponent of law enforcement and neighborhood enforcement programs. I'm a team player Daniel, but unfortunately in many violent situations the police arrive too late. There is plenty of data available that shows how the individual stops literally thousands of crimes from fully developing into a worse situation because of their individual gun ownership. Would be happy to share that with you in the future.

Daniel Johnson December 19, 2009 1:01 am (Pacific time)

Al: The comment you made in your Dec 18, 749 am post has clarified the complete issue. You wrote that “the ability to engage in self-protection is primarily an individual endeavor”.

The key word is “individual” and that is what separates Americans from the other Western nations who came out of the Enlightenment. There is individuality glorified in all your founding documents.

The Enlightenment credo was based on individuality and rationality, both concepts that have since been downgraded in importance everywhere, except in America.

If you understand one thing, then the whole issue is resolved: Groups can exist without individuals, but individuals cannot exist without a group. An individual is defined in terms of the group.

Americans, as a culture, for all their vaunted patriotism, do not believe in the common weal. In the quote from you I use you imply that individuals must protect themselves because the group cannot or will not do it.

If you’re unsure about what I am saying, indulge me by reading an earlier piece where I examine the whole issue. Try to understand, in particular, the concept of Kanisza people. There are no individuals And, if you haven’t yet read it, my current piece Facts do not speak for themselves.Thanks.

Henry Clay Ruark December 18, 2009 8:22 pm (Pacific time)

Fried Al: Many pro writers soon learn to re-read, re-appraise their stuff soon after it is done. That often has saved me from precisely the plague of the circular reasoning now in full display in your whole thread here. Also, how in h...else than by individual effort is self-protection possible ? See what I mean, friend ? Re Supremes, that leads you to oppose any who disagree with your feeling of what is right --which is odd stance in relation to famous trained jurists at the head of the profession nationally. Whole developing thread here now makes clear that many of all those millions you claim toadvocate gun ownership will also come down, very sensibly, on the side of rational and reasonable gun control. Surely you cannot contend they favor only Wild West, hanging-ready/holstered .45, and confrontational stance as demanded by perhaps very minor matters ? Re Constitutional question, again your stance is deep, desperate, demanding denial of every point-made or even suggested, except your own. Glad to have your continued participation here, since it has surely served as warning for others who may not share your views, while still in general agreement with what the Second can allow when it is properly and rationally set up with social control as surely demanded in 21st Century American cities and rural areas simultaneously. Strap on your holster, friend, and come for coffee anytime...but please make sure gun is unloaded for our meet.

Henry Clay Ruark December 18, 2009 10:19 am (Pacific time)

Friend Vic: Is it pertinent to full meanings here to know whether and why you are now in Mexico for second-time ? Might be strength to make a point via that disclosure,sir, if indeed that applies --given lengthy exploration of Wills points here still ongoing. Looking forward to your full and insightful report, in any case.

Vic December 18, 2009 9:15 am (Pacific time)

Al..you are right on re the drug cartel violence. We have decided NOT to smuggle or deal in drugs or weapons, as have most everyone here. We are no threat or use to the cartels...I do not worry about drug violence, especially where we are (Nayarit). The feeling of the average Mexican seems to be about the same..Another alarming statistic is that appx 9 journalists a year are killed in Mexico..almost without fail, covering the drug wars. Maybe we are naive, but we both feel very safe down here. Still working on that article, which so far has involved walking through the seediest parts of Mexicali, Hermosillo and Guaymas...at night. No robberies or attacks yet, but have met some awesome people, been invited to dinner and offered a free sample tamale. So far the biggest threat I have encountered is my own overeating.

Henry Clay Ruark December 18, 2009 8:29 am (Pacific time)

Friend Al: You will have noted my close agreement with DJ, continuing emphasis on who/decides at the Supreme level. THAT was main point of my mentioned/int'vw with famed, experienced lawyer, source of classic coverage/set on what Supremes (of varying flavor) had done since '76 ! DJ and I do NOT collaborate, often disagree on issues and solutions. So such continuity should tell you something, given the two skilled/analyst sources. That point proven by heavy past and current publication record, meaning winning close exam by skilled, forceful, very tough editors. (Cited as simple fact of life separating writers from commenteers, unless also they proven by publication and fact of editorial choice for stuff. That's what pro-writers DO !!) Again SOURCE means far more than FEELING for "objectivity" such as it may be by anyone, and however "intense" !! Main point here is now very clearly POWER, who has it and how applied...via not only 2nd Amendment situation but same old struggle underway ever since Reformation, impacts of (still/ongoing) Enlightenment. Democratic control of all citizen activity via law and rep./governance suffers, is damaged, endangered by even a possibility of return to only individual/choice, ostensible right to nullify, secede, defeat democracy --which is WHY Wills work worth all the fuss here NOW !! Basic principles involved, now well abused by widespread political misunderstandings, curable by continued dialog to rebuild consensus. Even given individual right to be armed, do you contend state has no right to control life-endangering device, as it does for road/side for every driver, license for them, for their vehicle ? Road/example fits since we surely have more deaths from abuse of that privilege than from guns of any caliber. Thanks for your continued strong participation and civil rejoinders, proving up again dialog as democratic consensus builder without parallel.

Al Marnelli December 18, 2009 7:49 am (Pacific time)

Daniel it's not that I desire to pick out different points in Will's books (have read a few of his over the years), and refute them, I just have read different perspectives regarding the Second Amendment and it's evolution by people far more knowlegeable than him in this firearm matter. That coupled with personal experience aids me in realizing that the ability to engage in self-protection is primarily an individual endeavor. Our Supreme Court quite frequently has made very close decisions about very important issues, that's why the selection of judges is so important. Many bad ones have been confirmed, and who decides what is bad/negative will always be a bone of contention. But remember that 71% of Americans believe in private gun ownership, and that percentage is growing. So if the court rules agaist the existing status quo, we have remedies to overrule them, which I assure you our elected officals would do very quickly. Can you imagine trying to prosecute over 100 million voters?! My observation over the decades is that even if the Heller Decision was 9 to 0, those who desire universal gun confiscation(their endgame) will never give up. One of their primary strategies is to cherry-pick data and hold it up as some critical negative trend. They will always lose the debate on the facts/merits. Just like the uninformed opinion on the murder rate in Mexico by Vic, we cannot let emotion and lack of correct information go unchallenged when "primary sources" clearly refute. I cannot remember who (am pressed for time right now), but someone made the statement that this was a "private gun issue", of course not, this is a constitutional issue. Bottom line, we are far safer with gun ownership in the hands of law abiding citizens than any other place in the states that inappropriately restricts firearms.

douglas benson December 18, 2009 6:01 am (Pacific time)

Can I point to any such things happening now? Not here [yet] but we are in the countries we are fighting "terrorists " ,rounding up ALL fighting age men locking them up and torturing them and if suspected "terrorists' cannot be found taking thier children . The abuse pictures the public saw were prior to their actual questioning and torture. The CIA and independent contractors took no video or pictures those they tortured and killed just never existed .So when the acts of terror start here get ready for the fear driven demand for actions such as these . Daniel ,if Mr Wills is suggesting that democracy cannot fail or that we should give up the means to rebel if it does then he not only knows nothing he is a fool .All the correct spelling and education in the world cannot change the fact that freedom is allways paid for in blood first then discourse .

Daniel Johnson December 17, 2009 11:30 pm (Pacific time)

Who is Garry Wills through all of this? Just some liberal know-nothing? I notice no one has tried to refute or discredit what he says.. Just disagree and deny. Anyone can do that!

Henry Clay Ruark December 17, 2009 2:14 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al: I agree with most of what you state-last, esp. that about Az governors with leaking mouths. That's surely characteristic of some bureaucrats regardless of useless party-labels !! Re Constitutional stringency for these situations, again absolute agreement. Question is who will read the situation ? ANY member of the public ? OR should we stick (or be stuck-with) the Constitutional necessity of leaving such legal judgment to the third leg of government's capacious stool, the judiciary.... since we all are perilously pyramided atop each other on that same stool? You are absolutely correct, too, in emphasis on action to be taken as we, the bosses, see fit...but I would add that any such action MUST be by the Constitutional processes we have held so dear now for more than 250 years. It is when we depart from those into mob (OR "militia") rule that we lose sight of the objectives and the prescient potent possibilities set up as our heritage by the Founders, and venerated all those years by our (perhaps wiser ?) predecessors. Truism has it that any deficiency in democracy surely demands full correction --by more democracy, wisely applied as deemed demanded. That last, friend, is rapid summary of nearly all comments found in this thread, don't you agree ? OR do you seek to contend that we are at the point where we each should choose our militia-bunch and prepare to be ready to fire, at the will of whomever has seized control of that group ?? Personal gun possession is not really the issue here, now denigrated to power and how it is possessed, as well as by-whom --which surely doth "open the door" to the very myths Wills manages to reveal and destroy in his materials.

Al Marnelli December 17, 2009 1:56 pm (Pacific time)

Good afternoon Daniel J. Regarding Vic's comments about gun crimes in Mexico, and not mentioning the international reporting on the incredible slaughter going on between their drug cartels (wink), the below link will show that both their murder rate and homicide rate by firearms is about 3 times that of the U.S.. As you may recall, cities here like Chicago and DC where firearms have been unconstitutionally restricted (see Heller decision) they have gun murder rates many times above those cities that do follow the Second Amendment. It appears Vic is in a pretty safe location, but as heads of police departments are being whacked down there in Mexico, he should be cautious. I also go down there and am very concerned how things are deteriorating.http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvinco.html

I think that the constitutionality, or not, of any of these issues is now beside the point. Look at who was in the 5/4 decision—all conservatives. If there were a couple more liberals on the bench, instead, the Heller decision would have gone the other way. My point is that it all depends on who gets appointed to the court, not the merits, or lack thereof, of any individual case.

Henry Clay Ruark December 17, 2009 1:55 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Point of ref. to Supremes set of decisions and explanations is their emphasis on responsibility and accountability for anyone in making any and all First Amendment-protected statements. Unfortunately, boxed set now engulfed in chaos remaining in my files here due to recent move and necessity to discard some of 20 boxes in process. Will file here when-found !! Meanwhile remember public statement,via Internet or in any other channel, requires your personal responsibility and accountability when sought even if anonymous or pseudo name-protected. If YOU say-print/publish it you are legally responsible for any consequences, if and when sought by anyone legally. This "friendly warning" originates from prior experience in follow-on by me for LMA client, resulting in interview with leading lawyer in D.C. re First Amendment; shared here for your interest.

Al Marnelli December 17, 2009 1:42 pm (Pacific time)

HR you stated to DB: "Some actions triggered by current terrorism protections can be distorted to seem all too similar to the past; but do you contend we should NOT take such action NOW ? Danger is as danger-defined and by whom, with "when" a very considerable constituent. YOU defined it, indeed as actually NOW taking place, it might seem. SO document and demonstrate, for all here to see,evaluate, and place within rational and reasonable expectations..." I would like to point out that last spring our Dept. Of Homeland Security, the former governor from Arizona, warned that veterans could be easily turned into terrorists. She eventually backed down from that statement, but no apology was forthcoming. HR, you are a vet, right? Do you feel someone high in government should make a statement for national (and international) consumption that you should be considered a potential terrorist? or any other vet? My feeling is that all ex-govenors of Arizona who head DHS are terrorists. I wonder what her views are on the Second Amendment when she is not in political "lie to the rubes" mode? This all goes back to an earlier statement of mine when I referenced if our politicans are respecting the will of their bosses. They are not on several issues in my opinion and the opinions of the majority of voters, so I expect that dissension may start to grow if they continue to ignore us. Just because someone wins an election does not mean that we suspend all oversight on that individual. Currently Obama has received the lowest rating for any first year president, so this majority "displeasure" is not going to go away regardless of what winning margin he received, which by the way was not very big compared to other margins in say the last 7/8 presidential elections. I will always support any elected offical as long as they support the Constitutiion they swore an oath to. Any violation of that oath must be redressed with the full weight of the Constitutions' remedies. Would you agree?

douglas benson December 17, 2009 1:12 pm (Pacific time)

I am not confused I am advocating vigillance against those that would use fear to deprive us of liberty and the use of lawfull means to stop such actions .The fact that many groups are labeled terrorist is undisputed so the jump to dissenters being rounded up is not without reason .Would you defend internment camps again in the name of the war on terror? My personal belief is all involved should have been held accountable just like germany . A warning to those that would suggest such practices in the future.I will point to current actions by our goverment in kidnapping and torture of a canadian citizen later released and unable to challenge in this country.Brandon Mayfield also comes to mind .Should such actions be taken now? I say not ever .The home of the brave should never cower in fear of terror or play into the hands of them by giving them all they desire . Afgahnistan is now a recognized country {what they wanted all along ] Bin Laden has drug us into a war that threatens to bankrupt us {his stated goal] Bring on 9/11 many times over I for one will never support bending the constitution or basic human liberty on the basis of fear .When our ideals are challenged the measure of courage and conviction is measured and it looks like we have become cowards ready to throw away these Ideas of liberty that should apply not just to us but to all and all we deal with as a nation .Distorted or not we watch carefully .

Henry Clay Ruark December 17, 2009 11:22 am (Pacific time)

Friend Al; For detail on my stance re your points, simply check out my some-600 Op Eds right on S-N --via Staff access. For points re Constitution, study and conclusions by many are available to all via very simple Internet access. On most points, you, me and millions of others are very close to agreement on demanded policies: The real dialog is on HOW, now WHY, with rational reasonable control very strong and near top-of-list for most of those millions...which may be why Obama won by large mandate, and also explain why millions now understane he has inherited most of these huge problems, needs support rather than unthinking attack, and will surely be open to fully democratic reward or otherwise by the end of his four years --during which he deserves a fair shot via American values and beliefs. That help ? Hope so, if not fire-away for more dialog...it is always the answer in any working democracy,until/unless radicalists undermine existing law and Constitutional safeguards, as per First Amendment...best start for reading that holy document. If useful, will state here again full set of four tapes and detailed book exploring Supremes actions via First...

Henry Clay Ruark December 17, 2009 11:10 am (Pacific time)

D.B.: You seem confused when you first advocate Constitutional means for settlement of any grievance, then rage on re the dangers of government ignoring those processes via internment camps et al, et al. For the record, those past incidents possible to cite were wartime actions, some driven by even more hysteria than we now suffer. Check your own choice of American history documentation. Can you NOW name, document and illustrate any actions of the kind you fear, currently occurring ? Some actions triggered by current terrorism protections can be distorted to seem all too similar to the past; but do you contend we should NOT take such action NOW ? Danger is as danger-defined and by whom, with "when" a very considerable constituent. YOU defined it, indeed as actually NOW taking place, it might seem. SO document and demonstrate, for all here to see,evaluate, and place within rational and reasonable expectations --just so long as we have those full Constitutional defenses you first mentioned. DO we still have the vote ? Do we set candidates for election via primaries --"the voice of the people" ? ? IS law/order still in at least partial and somewhat effective operation ? (even thugh often distorted and far too costly.) IS private property still at least partially and somewhat effectively protected ? DO we still have access to freedom of expression, albeit sometimes abused ? Do we stil see tremendous varieties of full information via "the media" ? (And, increasingly, the Internet.) Even though mainstream units may be distorted, many other channels are open to us, as demonstrated here in S-N, NOW. SO "fear of government" is perhaps a peculiar part of the true "American exceptionalism" and keeps us fully alert.(As already well-stated here...) On that we are agreed. We should also be able to agree on Wills' point, extremely well summarized and exampled by the DJ report: "There are many bad myths involved, needed full exploration and understanding".(Paraphrased) But on current fascistic or socialistic progression to near-take/over, strong current factual evidence shows clearly we are in less danger now than for decades. Many believe that is due to massively increased citizen awareness and access to better information and to the shared views of many other citizens (as, indeed, we now demonstrate right here in S-N) Fear is THE truly fearful political weapon, skillfully applied by those who stand to gain eventually by devastation of informed/citizen rational appraisal and understanding of the existing realities. That's WHY Wills wrote and DJ reported, when I referenced "the classic Wills" for him. We can choose here, too --to know and appreciate reality and to know, appreciate and protect our Constitution,while we rely on its processes and protections within our proven system of government. Do you contend there is any better one to use and protect? Do you contend there are no such mythic dangers as Wills presents ? If so, we then must rely on that solid first principle for all communications: Know the source. That forces me to now choose Wills,DJ, others responding here, and 50 years of personal observation as writer-reporter myself. Your quarrel, if indeed one is still possible, is with the Wills report. Why NOT query him at his publisher re his view of our dialog ? AND our current situation re the very dangers you portend ?? I already have, to alert them to this ongoing proof of open, honest, democratic dialog underway, triggered by their courageous publication of the Wills classic --'way back in 1999 --since when it has drawn fine reviews, fully supportive of further examination of his viewpoints, which was why I alerted DJ to this classic. Thank you for insightful participation and continuing fully civil response...that, too, proves up the power of dialog when properly done, as we are demonstrating here now.

Al Marnelli December 17, 2009 10:17 am (Pacific time)

Actually HR what I've been pointing out is that private gun ownership has been a very positive experience for not just Americans, but for those other countries that do not interfere with their citizens "natural" rights. In fact guns have made some people safer than most other places on the planet, which is easy to prove if you need an example. It is quite true that the gun does not cause the crime, but those who hold it. Historians, Wills included in my opinion, will write their books to more likely reflect their perspectives, this is human nature. There are countless constitutional scholars who devote their entire lives to studying the Bill of Rights and all the history that has developed over time with them. So far, when all those who have tried to challenge the Second Amendment in hopes of eventually doing what their end game is, confiscation, they have not been able to win the debate on facts. Do you feel that all humans are born equal, that is a "clean slate", and no genetic traits impact behavior? Not talking biological inheritable characteristics/traits, but behaviorial? Do you feel that it is the gun that causes people to commit violent crime? There are those who say that just having guns around will increase violence, do you believe that is an accurate conclusion? Considering that those who get a CHL must have a clear criminal background and go through at least some training before getting their license, that is far better than having no experience at all. Whether in an urban, suburban or rural environment gun crime rates for CHL's is statistically nil and lawful private gun ownership in the states creates a far safer environment. Comparing urban locations that allow CHL's and those that don't clearly demonstrate this lower crime situation. You mentioned GE's relationship with Reagan, are you familiar with GE's relationship with Obama and Iran and NBC/MSNBC ad nauseum? It is true Obama won the election and there are consequences to elections. Do you believe that our elected officals should listen to their bosses? Have you seen the vast majority of "bosses'" views on private gun ownership? Healthcare? and many other issues? As you must know when someone does something other than what they promised, it is time to call a person(s) on that deceit, right? The Declaration of Independence makes it very clear for those of you who have actually read it. Beware the spinners and the distractors is some advice a political science professor gave me back in the 60's, that advice has served me well in my decision-making since then. Including my time in some very primitive and violent situations.

Al: I refer you to Vic’s comment of Dec 15, here in part: “...here in Mexico,where guns are all but outlawed, crime is just a fraction of what it is in Oregon...seriously! I am putting together an article with some facts and figures and real life field work, which will have soon. The police are not nearly as aggressive, and drunken fights among friends usually are fairly benign, with the rare exception of the occasional stabbing. The society here in general is just not as aggressive as in the US. I know that if guns were readily available and legal here, there would be probably quite a few shootings.”

douglas benson December 17, 2009 9:22 am (Pacific time)

This article is about guns and the right of citizens to own them .While you may twist the constitution to fit gun control the declaration points to the right of all men to overthow the yoke of tyranny when redess of grievences fails . While we may suffer at the hands of idiots and criminals with guns that is the price of the abillity to secure freedom by force if need be.Much like the presumtion of innocence ect lets the guilty free The maxim that I would rather see a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer .Many of us see the direction we are going with the talk of muslim extremists and the attacks that are sure to come due to our "freedom bombs " . Will we start internmant camps again? Will they include terrorist groups like peace protesters and all the groups that run afoul of the will of goverment ? Several years ago I worked for a guy that was a white supremesist his son and I were work partners [it takes two people to hang sheetrock]and he lived with a bunch of skinheads . Now even though I am not a racist The FBI says I am a skinhead affiliate on some file . See how easy it is to become a candidate for internment called a terrorist held without bail or due process and tortured for any information you may have? We have been warned many times of the dangers of the fight against the unseen enemy stripping us of all our rights .So now more than ever we must be vigilant and prepared .

Actually, Doug, the right of citizens to own guns will be addressed in Part 2 in early January. DJ

Mike December 17, 2009 4:37 am (Pacific time)

Hey Doug B. This is Michael's son, you might remember me, last we saw each other was over at your place for shrimp kabobs and barbecued stuff. I found it very interesting that we find each other on here...what are the odds? How long have you been active on S-N? I like your writing man, very good.

Henry Clay Ruark December 16, 2009 5:32 pm (Pacific time)

Friend D. Benson: Agree absolutely with your first line preceding my last. With emphasis on the rational, naturally, which in this case means the flat-out fact as recorded by trained historians whose profession demands as much "objectivity" as possible. I hold no brief vs 2nd Amendment, only the need for rational, reasonable control and regulation, via either the states or at national level, albeit much prefer natural rather than 50-state chaos well experienced in education. Our most desperate danger cometh not from disagreement on principles you've stated well, but on due care and full Constitutional approach for implementing what we agree is needed for societal and individual protection. Thank you for your sensitive participation, sir. Again, I think our dialog here has set pace for more/of/same, which may be only rational way now to achieve the consensus so desperately sought by our Founders...and, I do believe, also by our current President, who has inherited this bloody mess via his courageous and reasonable stance, with our patience demanded while he does damndest to remedy 30-40 years of denigration built on deceit, dollars,and distortion of true public opinion and its understandings leading to the consensus we agree is most essential element of any action in a working democracy.

Henry Clay Ruark December 16, 2009 4:30 pm (Pacific time)

D.Benson: But then you wrote: "As for hating our goverment and those we elect may I point to our current president is a prime example of why . We said end the wars ,stop the diversion of capital from industry to war and the debt to the IMF .End torture ,the patriot act,and bring those responsible to justice. Take a new approach to the issue of drugs . The list goes on but the point is we elect them and they sell us out ." You overlook facts, sir, laid on line and in depth in print for more than thirty years. The complaints you have were all on record and under deep remedial study long before Obama was chosen by a huge mandate. Most originated with Reagan, whose own Tower Commission on Iran/Contra censured him for his loose administration and inattention to sworn duties. Then, too, his national deficits totalled more than all Presidents before him (about $1.4 trillion), now added/to by still another Bush via absolutely unneeded attack on Iraq and further wasting- war costs in Afghanistan. He further complicated U.S. life by sweeping slashes in government programs via tax cuts favoring the rich; then failed to enact pledged revenue restoration via "supply-side" economic policy leading to fiscal disaster -- with consequences we still are feeling. His favorite whipping boy was government, his choice statement that IT was "the problem", leading to widespread distortion of public opinion re our form of government. Many feel that stance was hypocritical in the extreme, coming from an actor playing the role of President for all it was worth, and strengthened by his longtime affiliation with GE for paid talks at their plants, after abandoning early work as a union leader.,,and that's not even looking at his favorite actions via many federal agencies for sweeping deregulation, privatization and distorted globalization, now well and widely recognized as major causation for our current worldwide economic debacle. SO you are correct: We need Constitutional remediation driven by careful-choice vote, which we have obviously demonsrated as missing in those years... For documentation of these statements, see famed U.S. history (1200pp.) used widely in schools, universities, and by all seeking truth: "America", 4th Ed.;Tindall, Shi; W.D. Norton, 1997. ISBN: 0-393-97063-9 Many thousands of this major text, in use since 1984, are easily available in our public schools; most libraries have multiple copies ready for use. See particularly Chapter 35, A New Gilded Age, with its ully detailed and distressing assemblage of incontrovertible fact.

douglas benson December 16, 2009 3:45 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Henry . The key to freedom lies in the abillity to resist by force when rational discourse fails I point you to the declaration of independence . Revolution and freedom lie in the hearts of all men ,slow to awaken the giant sleeps with a wary eye for is not eager to sacrifice its comfort .Let the tyrants and thier pawns beware how they tread .

Henry Clay Ruark December 16, 2009 1:35 pm (Pacific time)

Douglas B: Your emphasis on continuing effort to make democracy work legally and Constitutionally is both explicit and highly commendable. The historical record shows we've been here before, at the same or higher pitch of radical intensity --and the good sense of Americans driven by their honest democratic values carried the day via lawful Constitutional means. That's what Wills proposes, detailing deficiencies to aid us in that overall effort. Your emphasis on the still remaining power of the vote is the key point. It echoes that proven principle that failure within democracy demands even more democracy --wisely used. We CAN use it, if we CHOOSE to do so, and make more very careful choices for those to whom we deliver power via both legislation and governance. What we cannot permit is unwise, irresponsible, radical action defying, denying, damaging and thus defeating what so many millions for many decades have worked,fought and bled to preserve, protect and safely extend. We owe to them as well as ourselves and our posterity the continuing effort to make what adjustments we must and thus project into the 21st Century what the Founders gave us as principled heritage. We may need to work harder to bring ourselves into full consensus as to what is now demanded --but we must also agree that what we do will be carried out Constitutionally and within the wide realm of possibilities open to us under principles set up so strongly by our Founding Fathers.

Daniel Johnson December 16, 2009 12:18 pm (Pacific time)

Al: Finally got to your radio piece. It was before my time, but I see what you mean. thanks for the link.

Henry Clay Ruark December 16, 2009 10:01 am (Pacific time)

To all: Those serious here will want to be well and fully informed on our Founders and their many peculiar and revealing chaacteristics, truly shaping our world and our governing system. So here’s “three for free” notable refernences from shelf and booklist: 1. Revolutionary Characters: What Made The Founders Different; Gordon S. Woods; Penguin, 2006. ISBN: 978-159420-093-9 2. His Excellency George Washington; Joseph J. Ellis; Knopf, 2004. ISBN:1-4000-4031-0. 3. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House; Jon Meacham; Random, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-8129-7345-4. Note: All three authors are Pulitzer Prize winners. These titles set both background and tippinng points for our history, leading to epic struggles, beginnings of the denigration now causing us and world huge problems. Great strength of open, honest, democratic dialog is the sharing/learning resulting when properly pursued. Reading after comment accumulation is one major method for that.

douglas benson December 16, 2009 9:53 am (Pacific time)

First to Mike ,my brothers are the plumbers and my father was for many years here in salem . Daniel, I allready made the point that we are not the only country who fears thier goverment . As to why we arent overthrowing our goverment {yet} is fear of our goverment and the belief that we can still regain control within the bounds of law . Mr Obama created a huge run on firearms and ammo with his comments and restrictions on ammo our gun shops have wating lists for certain ammo . Soon folks will be making thier own. Your own posts make the argument that we have a revolutionary right to overthrow oppressive goverment and you cant fight with clubs .Our own goverment fears groups that in the past have been left alone who train and stockpile weapons . If they truly dont think they are a threat why bother? When people do start fighting back with force the new terrorist threat will be from our own and the response will fuel a political backlash that will change the political landscape in this country .My opinion of course .Even if resistance is futile we will fight when the goverment forces surround our neighborhoods to round up "terrorists " . I for one will not be rounded up for the internment camps and torture .As for hating our goverment and those we elect may I point to our current president is a prime example of why . We said end the wars ,stop the diversion of capital from industry to war and the debt to the IMF .End torture ,the patriot act,and bring those responsible to justice. Take a new approach to the issue of drugs . The list goes on but the point is we elect them and they sell us out .I still believe we can take back our goverment ,enact laws that force our represenatives to apply our will within constitutional bounds and engage directly and more fully in the political process . The goverment fears the power of our vote ,they discourage delay and deny us our power limit our choices making it seem as if we are powerless . I hope that it doesnt come to armed insurrection to wake us up but I fear that may be about to happen. Will the match be struck ? Pray that it wont .

Henry Clay Ruark December 16, 2009 9:17 am (Pacific time)

Friend Vic et al: Your disgust, frustration with party denigration now shared by millions. Classic book is "Party Politics: Why We Have Poor Presidents"; Leonard Lurie; Stein and Day, 1980. ISBN is 0-8128-2754-6. Don't be put off by its publication date 1980; it is still widely referred in many university courses, used by many (other !) distinguished writers. Amazon shows eleven new and used sources at low cost, and many libraries will have it. Lurie makes strong simple proposal for how to remedy the damage still done by descent into party warfare, precisely as Franklin predicted. Our 21st Century dilemma is how to remedy revealed radical damages while preserving what parts of democracy we can make work NOW !! Do you plan to remain in Mexico ? If so, look forward to your insights from there of their difficulties and what can be done to assist them towards true(er) democracy.

Henry Clay Ruark December 16, 2009 7:50 am (Pacific time)

To all: Friend Al's kind sharing of his great memory of radio clip from our mutual "checkered" past encourages me to state again another FDR strong insight: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." For me, his sharing proves up the most memorable of all "American exceptionalism"s: An ability to rationally and reasonable dialog about key and most painful issues, to reach the sensible solutions that the Founders so clearly intended, with their constant repetition and strong emphasis on responsible, accounable citizen participation. Without that, we would never have earned Churchill's famed statement re "the American people always make the right choice...but only after trying everything else."(Paraphrased) NOW we face those who will use fear, both political and personal, in any way possible to achieve their private-gain agenda and overcome by dollar influence the true merits of representative republican governance the Founders bequeathed to us. Are we sensitive, insightful and wise enough to see the whole forest, without focus on a single tree-at-a-time, and make the absolutely essential, and unavoidable adjustments we know we must do ? The future will be as we shape it for ourselves, via our choices and our decisions, built on what intelligence and tested-source information can give us as guidance. Thanks, Al. Ours here, for me, proves up precisely what dialog can still do for all of us in the 21st Century. Thanks, DJ. Yours exploring and illumining the current state of our nation, reflected from Wills/1999, triggered the insights shared from all here.

Daniel Johnson December 15, 2009 7:57 pm (Pacific time)

Here’s Chris Rock on bullet control: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuX-nFmL0II

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 7:22 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al: Thanks so much for link to this classic radio-shot, famed at the time and even more enjoyable now. Heard it then up in Maine in boyhood home,not far from the Canadian border,and recall th impact-then of FDR voice... Perhaps we all would do very well to listen more often to old-stuff with this level of classic meaning for NOW in 21st Century.

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 6:20 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel J. I believe you're at the age where you would recognize the names of the people listed below that were part of a WWII radio address. I listened to it and was swept away by it, as I imagine the nation was during the live event. It is significant to the subject matter at hand. Hopefully you will enjoy listening to it as maybe Henry Ruark will also, for he will hear the FDR "endorsement" in his own words and have no doubt knowing his response about his opinion on the Second Amendment, hopefully. DJ, my hope is you have the time to listen to the show and I will be looking forward to your next article on this matter.

"In 1941, the Roosevelt administration commissioned a radio special, “We Hold these Truths,” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. The producer and writer was Norman Corwin (an ardent New Dealer who is still going strong at age 99). It featured an all-star cast including Orson Welles, James Stewart, Walter Brennan, and Edward G. Robinson, and closed with a speech by Roosevelt.

Broadcast only a week after Pearl Harbor, it still holds the ratings record for any dramatic show. About half the American population tuned in. The actors, especially Stewart and Welles, give a hyper exuberant commentatory on each amendment.

Despite Corwin’s leftist political beliefs, the content (with a few exceptions) does not reveal a pro-New Deal slant. The section on the second amendment (32.35 minutes into the program) seems downright libertarian. It interprets the amendment as not only protecting gun ownership by individuals but also their right to use these weapons to overthrow an oppressive government." http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/121377.html

Thanks, Al. I just listened to the opening to make sure it worked. I’ll try to get to it later tonight and give you my take on it.

Vic December 15, 2009 5:22 pm (Pacific time)

Actually, I agree with about everyone here in one way or another...I think that a society where any drunken argument can turn into a gunfight is insane. On the other hand, wen we lived in Oregon ...way out in "the stix", I often wondered how smart it was for me NOT to have a gun. If someone WITH a gun had decided to rob me or attack me,I would have been pretty much defenseless. If I lived there now, I would probably have some kind of gun. I do believe that generally speaking, it is good for the leaders of a nation that has repeatedly betrayed the trust of the people to know that the peasants are most likely armed. I think that having a basic distrust of such governments is healthy for a democracy. Human nature seems to foul the best-laid plans eventually, it seems. I think what riles Americans is not just the issue itself, but the taking away of rights by the government. I do not smoke cigarettes...I hate the way they smell, but I would not agree with the government outlawing cigarettes and like pot, telling adults what they can or can not do. On the other hand, as I mentioned in an earlier post..here in Mexico,where guns are all but outlawed, crime is just a fraction of what it is in Oregon...seriously! I am putting together an article with some facts and figures and real life field work, which will have soon. The police are not nearly as aggressive, and drunken fights among friends usually are fairly benign, with the rare exception of the occasional stabbing. The society here in general is just not as aggressive as in the US. I know that if guns were readily available and legal here, there would be probably quite a few shootings. Daniel, sorry for coming off so abrasively...sometimes the line between passion and wild-eyed fanaticism gets blurred for me.I really enjoy and appreciate the exchanges here...and as soon as I can, I will read that book(or part of it)..Henry, good to hear from you, you old sea gull and fellow beachdweller!

Vic, did you ever hear the Chris Rock monologue where he says, we don’t need gun control. We need bullet control. Bullets should cost $5,000. Then people would say things like: I’m gonna get another job, save up my money, then I’m going to kill you. Or—I’d kill you if I could afford it. And so on. Quite funny.

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 5:10 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al: I'm sure FDR will appreciate your endorsement --in true meaning of word "endorsement", that is...! Trouble is we have no way of knowing his response, now... Re Oregon area detailed,that is only one more irrelevance while you avoid issue of true questions going to heart of matter here. Wills points go far deeper than mere right-to-gun. If you read (past/tense !) DJ report you might spend some time to see where you fit in Wills categories of those who now denigrate government, using any and all means to do so, for their own peculiar agenda and with malign intent. You can avoid self-dug hole by sharing with us any real qualifications you have to speak on the gun issue. But meanwhile re/read DJ to see what's at heart of matter here since you are obviously confused and concentrated on rather small point, taken into full context with detailed and comprehensive coverage accorded us by DJ on the whole Wills-statement. Time, attention here need to concentrate on much more really meaningful matters, don't you agree ? OR is there some special reason you feel so driven to make so much of "right", while avoiding commonsense, rational and reasonable outcomes of any huge further preponderance of untrained, uninformed, unskilled and unready gun-toters, at huge risk from perps fully ready to fire already-drawn killing tool ??

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 4:27 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel in the Portland Metro area, which brings Vancouver from southeast Washington in, and much of the surrounding area, it's quite urban, well over 2 million folks and growing rapidly. There is a concentrated crime rate in this urban metro area, but compared to similar sized metro areas the crime rate, including gun crime is much lower. Daniel J. in case you did not know, and I'm sure Henry Ruark knows this, FDR and many in the New Deal crowd were big on the Second Amendment and said that gun ownership was for individuals and that they had the right to use those guns to overthrow an oppressive government. Are you aware of that fact? Pretty strange considering the thousands of gun laws enacted during the 1930's. Glad to see FDR at least got this correct.

So, why aren’t you overthrowing your oppressive government?

Wills quotes Lincoln: “Whenever they [the people] shall grow weary of existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it [Lincoln’s emphasis in original]. But [says Wills] a revolutionary right, cannot be a constitutional right. “It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination…it being impossible to destroy except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.” p. 217

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 3:10 pm (Pacific time)

  One of  Wills stories from Old West gunfights is that of two who faced off three feet apart, fired ll shots, nine of which missed...
  Each got oneslug, minor wounds.
  Point: Major danger was to bystanders. Given walking gunfights set up when everyone carries, ready to draw-first  or die as records show is high probability, can you imagine how many times this will and is being multiplied ?

  Then, too, as Wills points out, most Western lawmen used Colt .45 as club to subdue rather than kill, some freely admitting less dangerous than to draw and fire, sometimes quicker and more effective.

  Given fact perps will have drawn and have gun ready, what is chance of ordinary citizen beating them out even if given  arm and training ???

  Where's answers to my questions, sir ? You "fraidy cat opposing 91-yr ready to draw ??? 

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 3:39 pm (Pacific time)

HR I really do not care if anyone owns a gun, but perhaps you have noticed that over 71% of Americans feel that the Second Amendment applies to individual gun ownership, as does the U.S. Supreme Court. If you have a problem with those 100 million plus gun owners exercising their natural rights, and the courts' recent interpretation of gun ownership, you should address them because I really have no problem who has or who does not have a firearm. That's called freedom. It sure is true that American slavery was abolished via democratic action which gave rise to the Republican Party I might add. The next major civil rights action took place in the 1960's where once again conservatives were the deciding body to help pass new civil rights laws. Regarding your inquiry about "shoot to kill", we have laws that cover this scenario coupled with a huge database going back many decades that clearly establishes that law abiding citizens promulgate a significantly safer environment when they are gun owners. Taking a life is not a pleasant thing to live with, whether in the course of combat or in a confrontation with someone who you feel causes you to fear for your life. It is quite rare that someone is prosecuted in any of the above scenarios, successfully. If you feel you cannot control your emotions and you own a gun, then that alone establishes you know right from wrong so I wouldn't be shooting anyone without legal cause. Daniel Johnson here in Oregon over 100,000 people have concealed handgun licenses, and that number has been increasing since the law for it was passed over 15 years ago. Here in Oregon you cannot carry a handgun into a federal building, courthouse or police station. You can carry in bars, taverns or any public place. Private facilities can post signs not to carry but that is rare. They know criminals will carry regardless. Our CHL gun crime rate is essentially nonexistent. Each county, we have 36, issues the CHL, and it's pretty easy to have them revoked if you break the law, like being convicted for even minor traffic or property crimes. It just rarely happens for serious gun crimes. There were those cries that there would be a blood bath if this law went into effect, plus the fact that one could carry where alcohol was served, but after 15 plus years it has not happened, in fact we have less crime than before. So the cry wolf has been assessed and it has no merit. This appears to hold true where ever people have CHL laws in place.

Al, exceptions don’t prove a rule. Oregon is a semi-rural environment. What do you think would happen in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami, et al? How many cases of road rage would end up with someone dead or wounded. And bars? Bloodbath!

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 3:02 pm (Pacific time)

Al M.:

Merely murmuring "read the whole thing" re ref. used by Wills, defended by DJ, means naught --only repeats your original point insistently, as if you have right to further rationalize, restricting what is meant to what you state is meant.

BTW, what's your experience with gun-toters ? Ever been confronted ? Fired-at ? Fired-BACK ? Ever witnessed police takedown ending in gunfire and death ?

WEver reported ? Ever published ? Ever taught ? At what level ? What subject areas ? Any specialization in grad study ?

What makes you the unique meaningful God of Notes like one in question ? If I have to choose,will take Wills and DJ reading over unknown source.

Give us quick 50wds or less on qualifications, please. Use more if demanded, as with ours in Staff section.

Until then you are simply masked man making ostensibly meaningful statement from less than secure credibility platform.

Daniel Johnson December 15, 2009 2:46 pm (Pacific time)

Responding to what Hank said, I’m going to requote Wills: “But having the gun always there at one’s waist was also an obstacle, so far as community peace was concerned. It was there for instant use by drunks, hotheads or panicky people. That is why handguns were banned in the cattle towns. The ‘Wild West’ was the birthplace of strict gun control laws.”

This reminds me of something that happened in Florida a number of years ago, and “panicky people”. One evening (it was dark) a man believed there was an intruder in his yard, so he got out his gun and shot him dead. The intruder, now dead, turned out to be his own son, coming home early. I reiterate, armed people are for the most part, more a danger to themselves and other people, than they are to criminals. I'd seriously wager that you could find thousands of similar examples for every example of someone actually shooting a criminal.

The “thousands” of counter-examples would include innocent people being killed, just wounded, or shot at but missed.

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 12:43 pm (Pacific time)

Al M.: I note you avoid answering my questions re "shoot to kill" as likely consequence of any real confrontations. Then, too, there is mine own experience with interviewing some few who lost battle with violent perpetrator even with gun-in-hand...sorry savagery seen with own eyes over same situations similarly ending in some three decades. SO where does one find such pragmatic experience exposed in extremely limited records ? Re questions, how-now you take 'em one-by-one ? That's direct challenge, sir...and my trigger finger aches to fire first...untrustworthy at 91 !

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 12:35 pm (Pacific time)

Vic et al: Better check out your man Jefferson: He was leader of anti-Federalists, slave owner till death, and full of many anachronisms as well as great accomplishments. What he writes sometimes changes to fit needs for his points, as others before me have made exceeding clear. Re our current "slavery" as you describe current chaos, do not forget real-thing/slavery was actually abolished via democratic action, driven to bloody war by radical Southern secession-effort reflecting a particular attitude still to be found in "American exceptionalism". Reliance on Founders demands broad knowledge of what they really believed as mirrored in what they did, under changing circumstance. It is current tragedy that too few know and appreciate the facts of history spread out for all of us to learn and share. Dare I offer still ANOTHER booklist ? - Prepared some time ago,counts ten classics from early years. Same small fee ($25), same ID to editor.

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 11:03 am (Pacific time)

Al M.: Yours citing background, for me, in no way offsets point made in Wells and DJ' summary: America is confronted with overly-strong gun-presence due exploration, explication, and extreme care in unavoidable adverse development of already too-confrontational society. Common sense confirms Wills contention that the West had to conquer the gun, and did so, per examples he cites including rapid action vs myth and magical mastery laid on by western/novelists and filmster drive to capitalize on that as money-maker. Do you contend every house and family and apartment and office and all other activities should each now be self-protected by heavy armament ? Why do we then bother with law-and-order, and police/protection --if we can allow each and all to stand ready with personal cannon ??

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 10:22 am (Pacific time)

  Forgive my awkward writing, friend Vic.
  Was pointing out inevitable frustration from UNinformed view without real contact with author's views.
  Should have pointed to ease of finding solid reviews, via Amazon et al...rapid way of overview instantly available via computer keyboard, better than of-cuff unthinking shot.
  Yours re any "arrogance" acknowledged but offset surely proven by my solid record here of links, sources, book lists, et al, et al...all open and vulnerable to other-view than mine own...You ready for another book-list, to supplement any reading lately?
  Whole purpose of dialog is to motivate and intensify all open, democratic exchange by as many as can be implicated into mutual perpetration !
  The sharing-learning aspect is the key, not the confrontation and debate...
  My intent was simply to show full range of other points in Wells' book.
  Another, in work  now, titled "CONSERVATIVES: Ideas and Personalities in American History",by Peter Allitt, makes precisely same points in close examination of major "conservatives" since 1776.
   Yours appreciated; why not now do Op Ed to follow DJ's ?
  We enjoy, appreciate, and challenge your talents,friend.

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 12:11 pm (Pacific time)

Our Second Amendment is not a battle nor is it taking time away from dealing with our economy which I addressed earlier when I mentioned that gun ownership has been around during times of economic upturns and downturns and has zip effect on the economy. Possibly you can point out where some legislative energy in this regard has been directed as to diminish our ability to deal with our economy? I would suggest that our economic problems deal more with poor decision-making back in DC. Regarding Don Kates Jr., if you read the entire paper maybe then you would have a better flavor on what he was addressing, maybe not? Sometimes having a legal background can be helpful for that gobblygook can be both circular and misleading to the untrained. Henry Ruark maybe you should address your questions to the U.S. Supreme Court and the legislature in your state. Possibly you have some data that shows gun ownership makes people less safe? If you do have data like that, then I'm sure you could have some significant influence with the courts and our elected officals. So far, no one has been able to document that we are less safe with gun ownership than those areas that have been restricted by a tiny minority as in DC and Chicago (two very violent gun crime areas), a group that will soon be over ruled with a more broadly worded Heller-like decision is my guess. One should keep in mind that every week there are thousands of crime victims, we have over 300 million people, so crime is going to happen. What many of these victims soon find out is that the police cannot really protect them and their loved ones in a timely way. Gun ownership actually reduces crime as things are now, so only in small locations will one find voters asking for guns to be restricted. Imagine in Canada if a ballot was set up for gun confiscation. How do you think that would be received? America also has a growing gang crime problem from those here lagally and illegally, for example the M13 has tens of thousands of members spread out all over America, literally in every state. There are 10 to 12 thousand in a military division, so yes we have a very serious problem that is getting worse. Self-protection is why most have firearms. It is wise to get training in firearm use and make sure your children also get it.

I go with what Wills said about Kates. You’re anticipating part 2, where I deal with Kates and the whole Second Amendment issue in early January. I appreciate your staying engaged here.

Vic December 15, 2009 12:05 pm (Pacific time)

Well, if the only rational way out of our slavery is the ballot box, then we are screwed indeed. The two party system is a fraud, and even if we did vote in something the fed didnt like (like Oregon's assisted suicide bill) they will void it. Where is all the change Americans voted for last year and in 2006.??...NOWHERE. The "no violence ever, under any circumstances" crowd (like yourself) is what gives our overlords the audacity to plunder,lie, lock up and kill at will. I like animals and deplore neglect or violence toward them, but if a rabid dog was threatening or harming my loved ones, I would kill it..with a 2x4 if necessary. Again, I have to wonder what your agenda is here....

I’m not a “no violence ever” guy. My agenda is the same as all polemicists—to encourage people to think about old things in new ways.

Vic December 15, 2009 11:22 am (Pacific time)

"When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) ...

Yes, Jefferson said that. But the question I’ve asked and is so far unaddressed is: Why are Americans the only developed nation in the world where fear of the government is part of the culture? You find no such attitude in Canada, UK, Germany, etc., (except among conservatives in those countries.) I’ve already argued in detail in other places that fear is part of the conservative psyche.

Vic December 15, 2009 11:21 am (Pacific time)

I used to despise what I called the "gun nuts"...I actually wished that Charleton Heston would get shot..not killed, but severely wounded. I thought the NRA were a bunch of paranoid whackjobs. But after seeing the constant rape and pillaging of Americans by the American/Israeli govt. and the heavy-handed tactics used by the police and feds against the very people they are supposed to protect, I have done a 180. I would urge all Americans to arm up..not against the Mexicans, or the Communists, or the Islamists..but the treasonous vermin that have sold out our country, stole our future and sent our kids to fight and die for foreigners that have absolutely no interest in our country other than what can be taken from it. We are a colony of Israel...a slave atate. Look what they did to the unarmed populace of Gaza..that is our future if we disarm. So it is great to sit around ,postulate , sing Kumbaya and toss around theories, but lets learn from history, for Christsakes. Our rulers have shown that they are ruthless liars and will kill millions to stay in power and reap profits...what more do we need to know?

Think a moment, Vic. Armed Americans are only a threat to each other, not the entrenched government. Your only rational way out is the ballot box.

Henry Clay Ruark December 15, 2009 11:20 am (Pacific time)

Al M,: Forgot to ask if you advocate all these newfound gun-users "shoot to kill" on first-fear ? Wells' research makes very clear fact that first-action wins overwhelmingly in all gun-duels... So rational and reasonable to contend for each gun-holder "Fire FIRST, or you may die !" Is that what you foresee for 21st Century, sir ? Have we learned naught since Western towns learned "the hard way" to force removal from any,all undisciplined visitors of the armaments they toted for the realistic, required uses in their work ? Do you include in your new crowd of gun/toters the 18-20 year/olds in colleges and at work ? Do you contend they can make split-second decision so obviously required ? Are you willing to take your chances on campus-visits ? How far down age-limits do you contend we must go as "right" ? OR how about oldest, most infirm, needing full and easy protection ? Say, at 91 ? Do you trust my trigger/finger sir ?? OR is there, just perhaps, a fundamental, rational and very reasonable and demanded level of control and care, now fully demanded in our rapidly deteriorating society ??

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 11:18 am (Pacific time)

I just saw this quote: "Of what benefit are guns and being armed in fixing this nationwide catastrophe?" This is a nonsensical inquiry in my opinion. How would you claim that the Second Amendment and the individual ownership of firearms would have any impact on America's economy? I would really be interested to see how that would have any effect, even at the smallest of margins. You should keep in mind that the vast majority of Americans have owned weapons during different economic cycles, up, down and in between. Looking back at our economic history in that regard should allow you to understand why I used the word nonsensical. Thanks.

What I’m suggesting is that you’re putting your energy into the wrong battle as the country disintegrates around you. Or do you think things will actually turn around for the middle class of whom you are, presumably, a member?

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 11:07 am (Pacific time)

As I essentially stated in my last post each country can do as they wish. In terms of our Second Amendment we have gotten to our present interpretation and it will be with us for a very long time. Garry Wills referenced Don B Kates Jr.'s "Handgun Prohibition and the Original meaning of the second amendment." Have you read the paper and the conclusions he drew regarding the Second Amendment? We Americans are also very pragmatic as well as no-nonsense when it comes to what we want and preserving that which we deem as an inalienable and natural right. You may find some value in reading the conclusion in this paper, maybe not? Depending on what one wants to pursue in interpreting most anything, there are plenty of sources out there to fit any agenda one may want. In the final analysis though, when we explore actual facts, that's when those engaging in distractions become exposed, and quite easily I might add. In the latter regard I mean those indivduals/organizations who engage in misleading stories about gun crime stats.

Yes, Wills does reference Kates. He says:

”Don Kates writes in the Michigan Law Review that the amendment clearly refers to personal weapons, since ‘bear’ means ‘carry’ and a person cannot carry certain military weapons, like artillery. This gets things exactly backward. ‘Bear arms’ refers to military service, which is why the plural is used…”(p. 256)

Daniel Johnson December 15, 2009 10:58 am (Pacific time)

Question: For those willing to open their eyes and see the reality on the ground, American society is disintegrating before your eyes. The middle class is about to disappear completely. The American dream is dying. As Bob Herbert said in his Nov 30 column: “The United States is broken — school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding — yet we’re nation-building in Afghanistan, sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each.”

Real unemployment is at more than 10%, and much greater underemployment is devastating the lives of millions of American families. None of them will ever be able to climb back up.

Of what benefit are guns and being armed in fixing this nationwide catastrophe?

Al Marnelli December 15, 2009 9:58 am (Pacific time)

"My question to you is this. Is the human race everyone on the planet, or just Americans? Does your interpretation of "All men are created equal" apply to the billions living on the rest of the globe?" Everyone on the planet, and everyone is created equal. All nations are free to set their own laws and to conduct themselves as they see fit, that is their soverign right. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights, whether one views them in terms of a "living organism" or in a "originalism" perspective, is our concern, our soverign right. It appears there are an endless amount of interpretations in this matter, but the evolution of court decisions has gotten us to this current place, and via the recent "Heller Decision", the individual citizen has a natural right to bear arms. Starting with St. George Tucker's 1803 American edition of William Blackstone's "Commentaries", up through the 1897 Henry Black's "Handbook of American Constitutional Law", the legal scholars of the 19th Century taught that that the Second Amendment belonged to all Americans, not merely to a milita that congress could define out of existence. In 1920 Missouri v. Holland, Oliver Wendell Holmes took the interpretation of the Constitution as a "living organism" and rendered the Second Amendment as an indivdual right superior to a miltia only interpretation. Later the Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986 and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 affirmed the indivdual Second Amendment right and enacted strong laws to stop various abuses by federal, state or local officals. These past decisions (I only mentioned a couple of them) spawned the Heller decision and we now can clearly see the abuse of the Second Amendment by a small group of politicans that have ignored the courts, so we wait a new decision that hopefully will prevent future abuses. Needless to say the voter's have made it clear where they stand on this matter, and you also may note the the vast majority of politicans know what the voter's view is also. That individual right to bear arms is quite strong, and it will be with us for a long time is my guess.

You’ve answered beyond what I asked. But, in light of what you say, are you suggesting that the right to bear arms applies to every human on the planet?

Vic December 15, 2009 9:10 am (Pacific time)

To the editor...I would not publish any story that requires the readers to read a book before they are "qualified" to make comments. And this "Comment Manifesto at the end of the story...WTF? I thought Tim King was the editor, but it appears that job has been taken over by our Canadian friend. I wrote an article re the Bible...did all you who commented first sit down and read the entire Bible so that you would be qualified to comment? Am I the only one who detects more than a whiff of arrogance here? Geeez.

Why so angry, Vic? The rules I posted are the same basic rules for any online forum. In this case borrowed from the NYT. Nothing new about them except it's my intention to keep the trolls away, and it worked.

No one is required to read a book, but it’s about expanding one’s mind with an American source in an area where most Americans have little knowledge and little understanding. You don’t have to read it but I argue that it is a good thing to do. After reading it your viewpoint is expanded if you agree with Wills; your already existing viewpoint is strengthened, if you don’t.

Daniel Johnson December 14, 2009 5:26 pm (Pacific time)

Here are the concluding paragraphs from an article by Carl T. Bogus, a law professor at Roger Williams University. http://www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/CT_bogus4_12-04-07_RJ80MH6_v7.2a87d62.html

”The Constitution is more than a legal document; it is the scripture of American political theology. The interpretation of the Second Amendment is about more than the government’s authority to regulate guns. It involves whether we choose to place our ultimate faith in constitutional structure or in guns.”

"The insurrectionist view has been present throughout American history, but until relatively recently it has primarily been popular with vigilantes and paramilitary groups. But this view is now being taken up by libertarians who worship the individual and are hostile to government. A senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute is engineering the case the Supreme Court will hear. He is betting that the Supreme Court is ready to cross a Rubicon — leaving behind a faith in ordered liberty that has long been embraced by both traditional conservatives and liberals, including Edmund Burke and the American Founders, and entering a new conservatism that, ironically, has much in common with Robespierre and Mao Tse-tung."

Feedback, anyone?

Mike December 14, 2009 2:02 pm (Pacific time)

Doug Benson? Are you a plumber by any chance? If so, we know each other. I don't think guns will ever be banned in the States, too many people are against it. There's always somebody trying to say it's a good idea though...

Al Marnelli December 14, 2009 1:51 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel Johnson not to bring out the which was first, the chicken or egg, but do you believe that guns owned by private citizens can save lives? And that they have on a daily level? Do you know the estimated number of crimes gun owners have stopped? Did you know that in 1959 as per the pollster Gallup the vast majority of Americans(60%) wanted restrictions on gun ownership? Now as per the same pollster this past October, just the opposite feel that way(71%). That 71% is a huge number, and to consider that that number of American citizens are not aware of why they want a weapon is foolish to say the least. You have any guess on why that turn-about has happened? Also why has there been record gun/ammo sales in the last 13 months? "A nationwide review by the Associated Press found that over 24 states in the last two years have passed 47 new laws loosening gun restrictions." In 1987 only ten states had provisions for concealed handgun licenses. Now only Wisconsin, Illinois and the District of Columbia prohibit that practice entirely. From those prohibited areas both Chicago and Washington DC lead the nation in handgun violence and murders. There are numerous urban areas that have CHL's that have significantly lower gun crime rates than those urban areas that restrict CHL's. Certainly common sense dictates that criminals are criminals because they don't follow the laws and the citizen gun owners know that. Regardless of Mr. Will's thesis and historical interpretations it has no impact on what's happening at present. Gun owners of America come from all races, genders, ideological viewpoints, religions, educational backgrouds, etc. You are not going to change any minds on this matter, self protection is a survival instinct, whether in the wilderness or the urban jungles.

Majorities are usually wrong, Al, as a cursory look at history will show. But, my philosophy, which shows in my writing is that there is always a bigger picture; everything exists within a larger context. My question to you is this. Is the human race everyone on the planet, or just Americans? Does your interpretation of "All men are created equal" apply to the billions living on the rest of the globe?

Henry Clay Ruark December 14, 2009 8:56 am (Pacific time)

To all:
  Careful read/analyze for comments so far indicates very few have checked the Wills book or anything else before "sounding off" top-of-head.
  Fact is that this classic reference (1999;widely used by leaders, universities, and well-reviewed ever since) goes far beyond the meanings of the Second Amendment to show the deep, inevitable and still essential roots of our odd American attitudes, building strong myths re government into dangerous and damaging and highly erroneous sentiment sabotating wise approach to the 21st Century needs now so demanding of all of us who really worship freedom and liberty --and continue to believe democracy is the best form of governance to achieve those and pursuit of happiness for all.
  Detail in depth of the Wills book is impossible here; but chapter headings themselves do show WHY DJ's fine, strong, accurate analysis of Second Amendment myth and inevitable misunderstandings is truly a challenge to all to share and learn from the book itself and the rest of its deeply meaningful message-NOW !

  Here are those chapter headings:
  1. Revolutionary Myths.
  2. Constitutional Myths.
  3. Nullifiers.
  4. Seceders.
  5. Insurrectionists.
  6. Vigilantes.
  7. Withdrawers.
  8. Disobeyers.
  9. A Necessary Good.

  If one-or-more of those defining characterizations fit your situation, I hope "the shoe pinches" and you will now resort to the radical action of really learning what your  national history truly means to you and your 21st Century.
This is great place to begin.

  Final statement in Wills' closing chapter:
  "...it is  tradition that belittles America, that asks us to love our country by hating our government, that turns our founding fathers into unfounders, that glamorizes frontier settlers  in order to demean what they settled, that obliges us to despise the very people we vote for.
  Our country, our people, our representatives deserve better. SO DO WE, WHO SUSTAIN THEM ALL.

  (Cap-emphasis added. See the book before you shut your mind, as with Galileo and his telescope offer to the church demogogues.

  (Per usual, ten key other  classic references offered for your examination for small fee ($25); ID self with working phone to Editor for receipt.)
  P.S. Have I read all ten of those offered ? You betcha... most several times, as with 4th time-through on Wills now.

douglas benson December 14, 2009 8:59 am (Pacific time)

Ok Washington wanted more what? Guns. Wyatt enforced the law with what ?Guns. The southern militia kept down the slaves with what?Guns. The civil war was won with once again ,guns. Citizens protect themselves from criminals with guns ,law enforcement cannot be everywhere so it is up to us to defend ourselves just look to the LA riots the stores that were not looted and burned used thier rights to protect what was thiers with ,guns. Then there is "the law" Im sorry the law has failed us ,we no longer have control of our goverment .The people have spoken ,have we brought our troops home? Have we ended marijuana prohibition? Have we ended torture policies ,illegal surveillance,political use of the patriot act ,goverment kidnapping of "terrorists" ? So we wonder whats next ,will our goverment give us a new crisis that they will use to take our weapons and the ability to fight back when they start rounding up "terrorists " And who will take our guns? UN forces ? Do you think our own military or law enforcement will take the liberties they have fought and bled for ? Lets say you get citizens to give up thier guns ,the criminals wont give them up leaving the public at thier mercy . Many years ago I had a problem with a street gang so I bought a gun they found out I was armed and ready  guess what no more problem . Your country has a huge gang problem ,and gun ownership is going up in your country by citizens wishing to protect themselves .The criminals allready have guns.

Thanks for your comment, Douglas. You make good points, but my argument is that there is always a bigger picture, which I try to emphasize and explore in my writing. But to see where we are in relation to our views I’d like to clarify where we are in terms Garry Wills, himself.

Wills is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian with decades of experience. On a scale of one to ten, where would you rate him as an authority on the history of American politics, his specialty? His PP was for Lincoln at Gettysburg. Even if you disagree with him, do you respect him as a professional at his craft?

BTW, I apologize for my comment yesterday about spelling. It was a cheap shot and I regret it.

douglas benson December 13, 2009 9:32 pm (Pacific time)

Allmost forgot you are still a British colony .

We became a Dominion in 1867 (not a colony); we got our own flag in 1965, and our Constitution was patriated in 1982. We still have symbolic ties to Britain but that’s more out of nostalgia. No legal force at all.

douglas benson December 13, 2009 9:22 pm (Pacific time)

When you cant argue the facts attack the spelling .Typical . Mabey my sentence structure needs some help too . I give up you want me to read a book and take your view that we can all hold hands and get along . RMCP not our goverment? WTF?

Why not take the road less travelled? as Thoreau said. I’m suggesting that you argue for or against the points Wills made that I've supplied at length. No commenter, so far, has done that. I’ve supplied lots of quotes. And you don’t even have to read the book. I’ve supplied page numbers so you can go the quote and see the context and argue against it with other facts. As far as I am concerned, that’s the whole point of this exercise.

BTW, I appreciate that you’re staying with it so far.

Vic December 13, 2009 7:25 pm (Pacific time)

Well, for the record, I do not own a gun...but I live in Mexico now, and very few people are allowed guns. The crime rate is FAR LESS than in Oregon and both my wife and I feel much safer here than when we were in the US. We are not in a border town, but we are also not in some gated Gringo community. We are in the real Mexico...Gun control is just one factor...I think the family/community connection is even more of a crime deterrent than the criminal justice system. Family is a big thing down here, and even a kid who is not afraid of the law does not want to face an angry grandmother.. The lack of guns does not eliminate violence, but I would guess that it certainly subdues it. :)

Good luck, down there, Vic. I see you’re still reading Salem-News.com. When an interesting idea pops up, do another article I enjoyed the ones you wrote.

Osotan; December 13, 2009 7:22 pm (Pacific time)

Vic; I am beginning to think we are still a British colony.,ruled by outsiders and governed by a facade of entertainers designed to keep information concealed and cover their own royal asses.,to coin a phrase. Maybe I'm biased but it occurs to me that the core is rotten when failed banks and auto industry giants are handed billions by the government to "rescue" the economy and the homeless freeze to death on the sidewalks of Washington D.C.

stephen December 13, 2009 7:22 pm (Pacific time)

read more of your rhetoric daniel. Firearm owners are NOT the government who abuses power and kills people for profit. Canada has military in the middle east also, and kill many civilians. U.S. Firearem owners are here to protect freedom. DEFENSIVE ONLY! You still dont understand the 2nd ammendment, and as a brainwashed slave you never will. Why dont you spend your time waking people up in your own country? The only reason your country is left alone, is because you are already their slaves.. they dont need to bother with you.. ya'all just gave up. Not the U.S. wont happen, and never will.
If they think Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, wait until they tackle the U.S. And, you probably dont even know, same as the article I sent you that you did not know about, that 4000 canadian troops are going to California for training. You didnt know that did you? figures.

I do know about the Second Amendment, Stephen. Wait until my next installment in early January. If you are not a slave, as you claim, then it will be an eye opener for you to understand how the gun mythology got started and is maintained. Stay tuned.

stephen December 13, 2009 7:10 pm (Pacific time)

Not approved.

Vic December 13, 2009 6:51 pm (Pacific time)

"Kill en all, let God sort em out" ? Seems like an implication that I am in favor of violence...But I am no more in favor of violence than I am in favor of appendectomies...hope I never have to deal with it, but if it is absolutely necessary, I will not rule it out.

My point is that that seems to be the philosophy of the gun people. Violence rules, but if some innocents get slaughtered along the way, it’s collateral damage. Having the guns is the priority.

Vic December 13, 2009 6:45 pm (Pacific time)

OK, I'm drunk......and Yeah..good point Daniel..where did all our guns get us ??? Dammit..hopefully, the show aint over. I think that the problem is that the idea of armed insurrection is so foreign to Americans, that by the time most would realize that it is necessary, it would be too late. We are one passive society....

I don’t think the show is over, but as long as Americans keep believing things without ever examining the foundations of those beliefs, nothing can change. And a bunch of wackos running around with guns are no threat to the state, they’re just a threat to themselves and their fellow citizens. I see you as a friend, Vic. Read Wills book. If you still disagree with him that’s another story, but as Francis Bacon, the philosophical founder of modern science opined, “Knowledge is power.” Guns are not power except among the sheeple.

Vic December 13, 2009 6:39 pm (Pacific time)

Thankfully the founding fathers were not a bunch of soft-palmed, apprehensive cowards, or we would still be a colony of Britain. I was raised a pacifist and I bought into it for a long time till I woke up and realized that violent, murderous people, regimes and enterprises that will kill for profit could care less about my protests and letters to the editor and my impassioned pleas. Fact is, some demons are only routed through violent means..some cancers must be cut out and some criminals of the worst kind are not going to simply walk away. Freedom Isnt Free....think about that...our country has been stolen and plundered..what are we going to do about it? Have another protest? Send an E-mail to our bought and paid for politicians? Those of you that are not cowards can see the writing on the wall. Daniel, you will never understand people like us....thats OK.

Kill ‘em all. Let god sort them out!

Vic December 13, 2009 6:26 pm (Pacific time)

Go ahead and ridicule Doulgas Benson, Daniel..but the reality is that there are a lot of Americans who feel exactly the same way he does...I am one of them, and I know a LOT of others. If you do not recognise or admit that tyranny and fascism has taken over America, then I am left wondering just who you really are and who you represent. Seriously..as for your "Rules of Comment Conduct"...is arrogance among the "donts' ? It should be.

I’m not ridiculing him. But if you think that “tyranny and fascism” have taken over America—then how much good has having guns done any of you? (I agree that tyranny and fascism are alive and well in America. It’s people like Tim King and Salem-News who are trying to reopen the windows of democracy.

Osotan; December 13, 2009 6:25 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel.,it's time to make an arms deal.,don't deny it.,you need some rocket launchers? A.K's?,F-16's or neclear bomb bays?,come on man.,prices due to increase after new year and Korea may shoot a missile at Calgary any second! so buy American,think of your security man!


douglas benson December 13, 2009 4:24 pm (Pacific time)

I am also sure England would have just given us independence without armed resistance.Not!

Vic December 13, 2009 4:18 pm (Pacific time)

Why does the font get smaller as the comments get older? Does this save electricity or bandwidth or something? Is there a point to it?

Tim to Vic: Thanks for catching that, it was a minor formatting issue related to changing but you helped us resolve it and that is great.  

douglas benson December 13, 2009 4:13 pm (Pacific time)

First you say why are americans are the only ones to fear thier goverment and I pointed out we are not then you switched up to why are we the only ones who believe tyranny is around the corner .

Two sides of the same psychological atitude.

douglas benson December 13, 2009 4:02 pm (Pacific time)

We dont belive tyranny is just around the corner we belive it is here .May I point out once again your own goverments bill C15 ? Drug war tyranny at its finest is at your doorstep . Pacifist resistance is for fools and sheep .The tree of liberty must be refreshed by the blood of tyrants and patriots .Try to take our weapons ,the saying that you can take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers is not an idle threat and one not likely to be challenged as long as we have weapons to back it up. Freedom comes at a price paid for in blood ,check your history books not some intelectuall prose of a pacifist.

From your inability to spell, I can see it’s a waste of my time to suggest you read Wills’s book.

Al Marnelli December 13, 2009 4:02 pm (Pacific time)

There are numerous individuals and organizations who have for years have been trying to weaken our 2nd Amendment resolve. We continue to see it strengthened. Since the 2008 election there has been record gun sales, and by people who have not in the past wanted to have one. Statistically those with firearms are far safer than those who live in area's where their use has been restricted by politicans who within the next year will have that restriction dissolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most Americans who are gun owners understand that having a firarm is a natural right, not a privilige that can be controlled by the government. Will's book is simply nothing more than one individuals opinion based on the historical record he chooses to use and augment. The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights trumps the opinions of all people, including well respected historians on this matter. Read that instead of Will's analysis for a better understanding is my suggestion. Articles that address the other side of Will's opinion (agenda) on this matter can be easily found on the internet, but it really is nothing more than a Brady Gungrabber treatment of something very basic to what we gun owners have always "known", not felt nor made a leap of faith about. Natural tights are natural rights. One does not need to read Wills book to understand what his agenda is.

Read Will’s book. Then we can be talking from the same base of knowledge. If you’ll recall your history, the Church Fathers refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. They knew what Galileo’s agenda was. He was trying to illuminate a larger reality. Something gun people don’t understand.

douglas benson December 13, 2009 3:41 pm (Pacific time)

To further debunk your claim that americans are the only ones to fear thier goverment I point to another salem news article concerning another of your own countrymen Rick Simpson who is currently seeking political asssylum due to yet again being raided by the RMPC right after the article in high times about his tinicture cures for cancer ect. If cannabis activists fear there goverment I am sure they are not alone .

That’s “RCMP”. My earlier comment applies.

douglas benson December 13, 2009 2:39 pm (Pacific time)

We sir have good reason to fear our goverment I mentioned internment camps lets consider the black panthers the use kidnapping and torture and lets not forget your own country Marc Emery comes to mind not because of his seed sales as there are lots of them in your country but for his political activism and funding of a political activism . The right of the people to resist tyrany by force is exactly what this nation was founded on .Force of arms is the only defence to tyrany you cannot resist with sticks and stones if those you fight are armed with guns .Just ask those who suffered ethnic cleansing whose only defense turned out to be the "criminals " who still had arms.

Mr. Benson: I suggest you read Wills’s book and see if you can come back with the same argument. You say, “Force of arms is the only defence to tyranny (sic)”. I reiterate my point: Why are Americans the only ones in the developed world who believe that tyranny is just around the corner?

Henry Clay Ruark December 13, 2009 2:13 pm (Pacific time)

To all:
It's about time we recognize here what is demanded as essential to guarantee free, open, honest and democratic dialog.

DJ's points mirror much here over the past several years.

It is my pleasure to both recognize and endorse his list and to demand of any wishing to comment here that they now be taken into close and fully conscientious consideration.

Words are mighty weapons and we must distrust those who distort this sensitive process of sharing and learning by any resort to revealing incivility replacing rational, reasonable reaction and cogent addition.

"Free speech", as for every other right, carries its own special responsibilities, but is specially vulnerable to the anonymous who shoot-and-run with nothing remaining except their potent damage to one of democracy's most essential elements.

Bill Brooks December 13, 2009 2:10 pm (Pacific time)

"I suspect that people would give up their guns before they would give up their cars, if it came down to a real choice." Most might do that, but real men wouldn't. I agree with Malcolm X when he said "Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." You're in a better position to take what you need if you have a gun. Also, you should check out the article "Why the gun is civilization" by Marko Kloos http://munchkinwrangler.blogspot.com/2007/03/why-gun-is-civilization.html

Okay, I’ve read Marko Kloos. So, who is he? Just a guy parroting unsubstantiated opinions. He’s not even in the same league as Garry Wills. I read Marko, will you now read Wills? That will then put you and I on an equal footing.


Henry Clay Ruark December 13, 2009 1:58 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Al M.: Your comment is itself purely (some would say "impurely" !) your opinion, and I commend DJ for referring you to Wills-direct. He is entirely correct to so do since his is a review while you attack the meat involved in this strong meal for all of us in the ongoing issues, sure to remain controversial. The book is a recognized classic, stands on its own strength from the day in 1999 published,is by distinguished author knee deep literally in former strong well-received works. It cites authorities also knee-deep, from every phase, form and level of American culture and via insights from trained historians and writer analysts, well reflected in DJ's choice of quotes. On that basis alone, DJ's cogent review offers us strong motivation to make sure of our facts and abolish our fancies re our own government - the very nature and heart of what DJ's content contribution here has been for some time now. He and I have some serious disagreeement on what some of these points mean NOW for our 21st Century further progress in this world/leading nation, and on how to maintain that American leadership so very valuable to progressivism, progress and potent freedoms everywhere. It must and will unavoidably be built on "American exceptionalism"; see previous dialog here on that. BUT his comment/analysis is comprehensive, solidly based and an honest reflection of the major points and meanings of the Wills book. Have you read it ? If not you are speaking from somewhat limited perspective,without the special insights and the deeper understandings DJ shows in his review. In all good will, get and read the book itself; you may find, as did DJ, that it will alter your view of what has occurred and is still going further in frantic fashion, demanding wise actions on our part best accomplished by this precise level of friendly,open and democratic dialog.

Banagher Saxby Potter December 13, 2009 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

I will not take pains to again express arguments already made by others on this page. I would like to simply mention that your comment to Mr. Benson rather fails to address his quite valid viewpoint. I should also submit that you have completely missed the point made by DDS, NRA life member, and you may wish to remove his post and your own to save face.You have my sincerest respect and sympathies for making these same hackneyed and tiresome arguments yet again, but managing to tweak them only so slightly. I hear them less and less as the generation of the sixties dies off. I do not offer these condolences sarcastically.Cheers,BSP

If you’ve read Wills’s book (an accredited historian, hardly a crank) you would be in a position to comment. Cheers, back

Al Marnelli December 13, 2009 12:28 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel Johnson you are writing and expressing your opinions on a subject you have no direct experience with yourself is my guess. When you break down gun crime demographically you will see that our largest population group has a lower crime rate than Canada and most European countries. You can write all you want on our 2nd Amendment but considering that over 100 million here own some type of firearm, expect that your comments are irrelevant. You may have the last word on this forum, but in real life we gun owners do, and your opinions and those that you parrot mean zip. Gun ownership is growing here and in Canada the gun laws there are weakening as the liberals continue to lose power. There is no existing database that can show where restrictive gun laws lower crime rates, in fact they actually increase crime both here and in places like England and Australia who allowed liberals to take advantage of various gun cimes and change the laws there. Conservatives in these countries are also getting rid of the liberal mindset that has been causing so much damage around the world with their ignorant and misguided pursuits. You are pursuing Moby Dick, and Moby is laughing at your shortsightedness.

Take it up with Garry Wills. He wrote the book I reviewed. I take his credentials over yours.

gail December 13, 2009 10:52 am (Pacific time)

Tim, Thanks for the wonderful rules. Actually, it all just boils down to curtesy it seems to me. However, it was very nice to see the reminder, especially for someone like myself who sometimes spouts off first and thinks second. And of course, Daniel's articles are always interesting and informative. Thanks Dan'l.

Morrison December 13, 2009 10:26 am (Pacific time)

Not approved.

J C December 13, 2009 10:23 am (Pacific time)

I have a couple of issues with this article. First, the dichotomy of “Do we place our faith in law or guns” seems to me a false one. The law is enforced with guns through the police and military. Those who own guns for self-defense generally wish to and do abide by the law; they do not seek to take the law into their own hands, merely to defend themselves when no enforcer of the law is present, or in a hypothetical scenario when the law and/or its enforcers become evil. This brings up the next issue, the idea that an "armed society" is based on fear, "with artificial walls erected between people". Again, compare this to society today in any country with armed government agents. In either case, the weapons deter, through fear, a certain number of people who are inclined to victimize others absent such deterrent; for most people, however, they do not cause fear or impair social relationships. People can be both armed and civilized, and high rates of gun ownership and permissive gun laws can coexist with with civilization, community, and low crime rates, as in the US state of Vermont, one of the nation's safest.

Exceptions don’t prove a rule. Vermont has a population of just over 600,000 and its largest city, Burlington, less than 40,000. Montepelier, the capital, under 10,000. America is no longer a rural nation where crime rates are, overall, lower.


douglas benson December 13, 2009 10:12 am (Pacific time)

Do we place our faith in law or guns ? I would have to say guns. The law and goverment have failed to secure our most basic freedoms now much more than at the begining of our country we need to be able to resist . Deploying the military within this country has allready been done ,they are called law enforcement ,complete with armoured vehicles automatic weapons and gernades . Our goverment has allready shown they are willing to use any means to silence dissent I point to putting peace protesters on terrorist watch lists ,infiltrating them and using law enforcement to arrest ,detain and disrupt thier activities with impunity . I ask whats next.Will suspected "terrorists " be rounded up and detained like the japanese in WWII .When the next attack comes or when the citizens of this country start trying to reclaim control of our goverment peacefully only to be rounded up how will we defend ourselves . Armed society may not be "polite" but when the goverment knows if it pushes too far the people can respond with force they will think twice .As long as the people in this country fear thier goverment guns will be a fact of american life.

Have you ever wondered why, out of all the developed nations in the world, Americans are the only ones who fear their government?



Mushfiq December 13, 2009 9:23 am (Pacific time)

This article is fairly disingenuous. First, you claim that you are only a messenger ("Attempting to shoot the messenger is counter-productive."), but only moments earlier you state that, "My intention in this series of articles ... is to try to counter those harmful ideas and publicize Wills’s book which I believe...". From that it is readily apparent that you're not precisely just a messenger, but indeed a promoter of a specific ideology. In this case, one Wills and you, the article author, share common ground with. Additionally, it is clear you've thought of the conclusion before you fully considered the hypotheses. Wills merely confirmed your assumption(s). Have you considered data and scientific studies from the opposition? For example, have you considered CDC data showing that cars routinely kill more people, and statistically pose a greater threat, than guns in the United States any given year. Going by your logic, if we must relegate guns to the dustbins of history, so we must with cars. Have you considered academic studies from even relatively liberal institutions, such as the University of Michigan. For example at www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=6759. I realize the basis of the article is just one book, and even if one were to stick to just that, there is still reason for skepticism. Its premise has a strong resemblance to the work of former professor Michael A. Bellesiles. There are other rational reasons to be skeptical. For example, du Pont established DuPont in 1802 as a gunpowder manufacturer and quickly grew to be very wealthy by the mid-19th century. Where was all this demand for gun powder coming from? Remember, even until WWI, the U.S. military was not the massive military-industrial complex it is today. A large military contract would help (and du Pont did eventually get it), but for his company to grow and survive as it did would not have been possible without consumer demand for gunpowder. One could also debate that the American fear of an overbearing government is justified, especially given the tyrannical approach the government sometimes takes in international affairs. There are even past domestic actions that are highly questionable, such as the very real Finally, there is the matter of the insult ("...culturally and intellectually insecure...") hurled at anyone, as far as I can tell, who disagrees with your anti-gun position. I have a 4 year degree for an accredited and respected university; I seek out new art in galleries from up and coming artists; I go to concerts of independent musicians. I don't believe I'm culturally or intellectually insecure. In fact, it's because I have some security in my intellectual ability that I can reason, slog through tons of data and research studies, to find that it's ok to own, possess, and use firearms. The facts is, should a crime befall me where I'm placed in grave danger (and I'm unable to safely escape), the police will not teleport to my location and save me. An inert hunk of metal and plastic, with some training, may give me a chance. Consider one of the newest self-defense firearm studies, _Self-Defensive Gun Use by Crime Victims__ by Timothy Hart and Terry Miethe, which concludes that "most often effective at helping the victim rather than hurting them in those situational contexts in which self-defensive gun use occurs." This academic study also performed a thorough literature review of past studies (as would any peer reviewed study), which were largely supportive. And, before you think, well, here's another typical American, I'm actually a foreign-born American who's, at least not entirely, deluded by all encompassing false American mythologies. I'm going to stick my guns.

 I suspect that people would give up their guns before they would give up their cars, if it came down to a real choice.


DDS -- NRA Life Member December 13, 2009 6:57 am (Pacific time)

Nice article. But it would have been nicer if you had pointed out that firearm homicide rates were higher per 100,000 of population back east in New York and Chicago in the 1870's thru 1900 than in the comparatively peaceful "Wild West".

Wills didn’t mention anything like that, but sounds about right. Thanks for the info.


Daniel Johnson December 13, 2009 12:51 am (Pacific time)


Coming early January, 2010: “Second Amendment Blues”, part 2 of the Garry Wills book review.


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