One Amendment from Column A, Another from Column B

A week ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy was a liberal hero. Joining the court’s four liberal jurists, he declared that while 9/11 may have changed everything, it didn’t change the constitution. Despite statements by the Bush Administration to the contrary, Guantánamo is not a legal no-man’s land. POWs being held at America’s Devil’s Island now have the right to challenge their detention in federal courts.
“Thank God,” an editorial cartoonist friend told me after Kennedy cast the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision restoring habeas corpus. “We were one vote away from fascism.”

Antonin Scalia’s dissent–“[granting Guantánamo detainees the right to a fair trial] will almost certainly cause more Americans to get killed”–was widely ridiculed as baseless and hysterical.

What a difference a week–and your politics–make.

Then Kennedy cast the swing vote in another major decision. Declaring Washington D.C.’s handgun ban unconstitutional, he accepted the NRA’s argument that the Second Amendment’s reference to “a well-regulated militia” is not a conditional clause. Wherever they live, Americans are indeed entitled to purchase and keep a handgun.

“What an idiot!” my friend e-mailed me. “Doesn’t he get it? Kids are going to die!” Shades of Scalia; irony included free.

“À la carte” airline pricing–$2 for a Coke, $15 to check a bag, $30 for a coach seat that sucks 95% as much as the regular ones–pisses people off. When it comes to constitutional questions, however, we Americans like to pick and choose our favorite parts of the Bill of Rights like items from a Chinese menu: one from column A, another in column B.

Liberals revere the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment. The right to bear arms, not so much. With conservatives, it’s the other way around. Sometimes they clash over the meaning of the original ten amendments. It’s freedom of, not from, religion, say right-wingers. Freedom from, argue advocates of the separation of church and state.

The recently concluded Supreme Court session highlights Americans’ unique refusal to accept the Bill of Rights in toto. Republicans decried Kennedy v. Louisiana, which struck down the death penalty for someone convicted of raping a child. They applauded the court’s approval of an Indiana law requiring voters to show ID at the polls.

Reactions to Supreme Court rulings are rarely related to whether or not the nine justices correctly interpreted the constitution. They’re political. Law-and-order conservatives like their justice Taliban style, tough and vengeful. Thus their dismay that capital punishment for rapists could be deemed cruel and/or unusual. States with GOP-dominated legislatures like voter ID laws, not because they think they don’t violate the equal protection clause, but because they tend to reduce turnout among Democrats.

Partisanship is healthy. Creating your own Constitution around your personal stand on the issues is un-American.

As a holistic advocate of the Bill of Rights, I agree with the D.C. gun ban ruling. When the Constitution was signed in 1787, all land-owning white men–the class of citizens whose voting rights it guaranteed–owned (or were allowed to buy) guns. A “well-regulated militia” was usually an ad hoc affair, a group of guys called up for up to a year (often less) to respond to the threat of, for example, an Indian attack.

Today the Bill of Rights applies to everyone, even illegal immigrants. Moreover, while militias have gone the way of the musket, it’s a fair bet that the government would ask ordinary citizens to use personal firearms to defend U.S. territory in the event of an invasion–i.e., form militias. Why, then, shouldn’t the 18th century right to own a gun, which applied to everyone covered by the Constitution at the time, apply to everyone now?

There’s also a practical argument. As history proves, every government falls. Every nation gets invaded. No one knows when it will happen in any given case, but thus far it’s proved inevitable. When the U.S. government turns against its people, gun nuts will be in a far better position to resist than the double decaf latte types on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We’ll all be praising Charlton Heston’s memory when foreign troops are marching down Broadway.

But practical arguments aren’t legal, much less constitutional, arguments. Either you agree with the Bill of Rights–all of it–or you don’t.

If liberals think the right to own a gun is antiquated, if they think the ability to resist future government tyranny is less important than reducing the number of young men getting gunned down in cities like Washington, they have a perfectly defensible argument. And they ought to do something about it. They should convince two-thirds of the states to ratify a constitutional amendment abolishing or amending the Second Amendment. Crafting an argument over principle around 18th century grammar and punctuation is tacky and embarrassing.



45 Responses to “”

  1. evilkumquat Says:

    Another good column with a well-written argument, which mirrors what I tell people who ask how a bleeding-heart liberal like me could be against gun control.

    I still hate guns, but when it finally occurred to me how hypocritical it was to bitch and moan every time anyone took any steps, no matter how minor, to curtail the First Amendment yet be perfectly willing to support actions taken against the Second, I changed my stance and accepted that the Constitution should be accepted whole and not just those parts with which I personally agree.

    I mean, hell! I was acting like a “Christian” treats the Bible- violently arguing the merits of one section of Leviticus denouncing homosexuality while ignoring parts of that same chapter that says eating lobster is a sin.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Would the gun nut really be in any better shape to resist the professional mercenaries of the United States government?
    Since Ted is supporting the Bill of Rights in toto, the second amendment gives the unabridged right to bear any type of armament. Nukes all around I say! Let’s give Anthrax to fifth graders after all the amendment doesn’t mention age.
    I would also like to take on the idea that the second amendment gives citizens the right to resist the government by force of arms. Imagine if you will that when a cop pulls you over for speeding you blow his head off because you are fighting oppression. The police are the most public tool of government oppression so it’s ok to kill a cop as long as you’re fighting oppression. Pretty soon the cop doesn’t pull you over for speeding. He blows your head off and takes your car just in case you’re “one of them freedom fighter” types.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    People vary little in what they value. Seriously, ask anyone and you’ll get the same answers: clean environment, equal rights under the law, security, guns, butter, etc.

    The sharp differences in our values come in their priority: what will you trade for ____?

    That’s when you find out that A values the environment, but not as much as he does self-determination, and B values self-determination, but not at the expense of the the environment.

    Both pro-lifers and pro-choicers value life and both value choice, just not in the same order. All the serious fights are about priority, about trade-offs; not about absolutes.

    wfar (works_for_a_republican)

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, you rule, once again. this “pick and choose your amendment” thing that liberals and conservatives do is something that has mystified me my entire adult life. i agree that anthony kennedy was a hero for keeping us “one vote away from fascism” with his gitmo vote, and as far as i’m concerned, one week later he was a hero again, for doing the EXACT same thing.

    or do people forget that one of the first things hitler did (and you don’t get much more fascist than that dude) was take everyone’s guns away, in the name of public safety?

    as far as quibbling over 18th century grammar, like you talk about in your last paragraph, there really is no need to try to second-guess the founders as what their intent was. they wrote plenty on the subject. all anyone needs to do is read. jefferson wanted to make sure that “no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms” (talking about a virginia state constitution, but it reveals his position). patrick henry (he was pretty good at coming up with sound bites) said “the great object is that every man be armed.” and as for what the 2nd amendment is really all about, and why it’s there, madison said “americans need never fear their government because of the advantage of being armed, which the americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.” they call madison the “architect” of the constitution, right? so he probably knew a thing or two about the intent behind the words. arguing about what the text means is silly and disingenuous. all you have to do is ask the guys who WROTE the text. they had plenty to say on the subject.

    as the saying goes, “freedom isn’t free.” when you live in an armed society, you run the slight risk of getting shot (maybe not so slight in some places). and for paying that price, you get the satisfaction of knowing that our elitist rulers/owners are afraid to oppress the population to anywhere near the extent they’d like to, because they know that we outnumber them, and that we have GUNS! 🙂

    as the punk band D.I. sang:
    “i like guns / and guns like me/ i like guns / they made america free!”

    sorry for the long rant.. and thanks for never letting me down yet with your columns. a week has not gone by where i haven’t been able to pump my fist and say YES!” at least once while reading one…

  5. Anonymous Says:

    1) there’s no evidence to suggest legalized guns cause more crime. Criminals fear armed citizens. If gun control is so effective, why do i still avoid walking down certain streets in Chicago?

    Gun Control just prevents *law-abiding* citizens from owning & carrying guns. Stop fearing guns. Fear people.

    2) ted’s 100% right. you think small arms and a militia style force can’t beat the US Gov’t or invaders? Look at Iraq. Look at Vietnam. Look at Mogadishu. Pockets of resistance, and guns in the hands of people who know how to use them.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Obama said in a debate, “I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right,” he said (, 17April2008).

    Does he also believe that “state or local governments [can] contrain the exercise of” such rights as Freedom of Speech? If the Federal Constitution declares a right, or sets a policy, it is not one of the states’ rights. State and Local governments cannot curtail the exercise of other rights in the Bill of Rights – why would they be able to curtail this one?

    Does Obama not understand how “states rights” work? Is he another unqualified pretty-boy idiot? Or is he just a rabid liberal who wants to unarm America’s populace?

  7. The Reverend Mr. Smith Says:

    This is why liberal libertarianism is the way to go. I don’t own a gun, never have and probably never will. I still flirt with the idea of lifetime NRA membership every once in awhile. Maybe now they don’t need me. I seriously doubt 2/3 of the states would ratify anything screwing with the Second Amendment. The first ten (at the very least) are the goddamn gospel of this country. When will “liberals” and “conservatives” get it through their thick heads?

  8. The Reverend Mr. Smith Says:

    Also, I don’t know where else to put this so I’ll put it here: they think the soil on Mars may support life. Let’s launch Joe Lieberman up there and find out!

    Thanks, I feel better now.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Out of curiosity, have you ever read “Negroes with Guns” by Robert Williams? I haven’t read it (though I am looking through bits on Google Books). It’s about an African-American who took up arms to defend his community and family from the attacks of racists- and the trouble he got into for it.

  10. Edward Says:

    Hey you forgot the “right to privacy” and “right to abortion”. Talk about making up rights out of whole cloth.

  11. G. M. Palmer Says:

    Hey Ted,

    w00t! Good article. Whenever I have a discussion with someone about gun control I bring up the exact points you mentioned — what happens if we get invaded? What happens if the government goes (even more) crazy? What happens if we Floridians decide (again) that we’re done with this Union thing?

    On another note, I was sad to see your short treatment in the Politiker regarding your panel on hate mail. I was hoping to see much more than firefighters and Ann Coulter’s feminine products.

    About firefighters — At least in Florida, they rarely fight fires these days (far less than one a week, my friends tell me) but are called out all the time on EMS-type missions (in which they frequently experience the grisly). Hence the now general “Fire/Rescue.”


  12. Anonymous Says:

    I really enjoy your columns, Ted. You have made a number of arguments for congress beginning the formal procedures to impeach President Bush, and the one which has always seemed to be the most fundamental is the marked failure to defend the constitution (the constitution as written I would assume the oath implies) as he swore he would do twice. The same argument has to apply to every part of the document and the cool thing about it is that as written, it can be changed so even if an imperfection is found, a bunch of people can work toward fixing a problem in the text. People can own weapons, people can make up funky religions or ignore them, you can tell soldiers they can’t sleep in your house, the local mayor can’t waltz into your house and rifle through your papers, and the list goes on.

    My soapbox unrelated to this rather hair splitting discussion of early writer’s intent vs. assault hand gun ownership is why, when an opportunity arose for a President to defend both the US and the constitution he swore to defend, did George Bush decide not to find bad guys who flew planes into buildings and planned assaults and then prosecute them using all of the laws and rules of the constitution and other federal criminal statutes to prove to the entire world that the US can protect itself and that the document works. I get very upset with someone who argues that “the US can not allow terrorists and liberal lawyers to use the constitution against us.” If the executive and related enforcement branches followed the well established rules of apprehension and burden of proof, a bad guy could even be executed for planning and killing hundreds or thousands of people. Then the US could be quietly smug to the world concerning who is really a free nation.

  13. Aggie Dude Says:

    Selective readings are nothing new, the religious unright has been bringing us extremely selective readings of the Bible for decades.

  14. Andy Says:

    Not to introduce a straw man but I really can’t understand anti-gun peoples’ fixation on the word “militia.” THe Bill of Rights is about protecting minorities. The majority doesn’t need its right protected. It doesn’t make any damn sense that the framers would waste ink giving the military the right to bear arms.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Seriously, your second amendment is from when, 1791? At that time, the most dangerous “arm” was a slow-loading musket. Today, a consequent interpretation of the right to bear personal arms means that you can own weapons that can kill more people much more quickly (and that is not even touching the question of whether it means you can own a nuke). Do you think the politicians of 1791 intended that, or could possibly have foreseen that?

    Now the people of the USA can certainly do what they want, but I sometimes count myself lucky that I live in a European country where our constitution does not date from the time before electricity, womens’ suffrage, long-distance travel etc. (which is, admittedly, “thanks” to political turmoil and warfare luckily unheard of in North America completely obliterating the previous system). And so I wonder if it would not be time for the US to realize that some parts of their constitution and laws are simply outdated. Just think of your election process, which made perfect sense *before* the invention of modern transport and communication…

    Also, as a German, I have not only never heard of any weapons that Hitler took away from the populace (they had none, just as today), but I must also point out that the big issue here was not a minority usurping power over a defenseless German people, but the German people becoming a fascist mob, electing Hitler, and turning on defenseless minorities. And on the other side, there were countless dictatorships worldwide that crumbled in the face of determined protests from unarmed opponents.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    To 6:53 Anon,

    “Would the gun nut really be in any better shape to resist the professional mercenaries of the United States government?”

    An armed civilian resistance is fighting our professional mercenaries to a standstill in Iraq. The Iraqis are also holding their own against a greater number of actual U.S. soldiers.

    Bush forever soured me on Republicanism. He did, howevern prove the truth of two of the more incredible claims of the American right. 1.) An armed populace can effectively resist a well trained and equipped occupier. 2.) The U.S. government should not be trusted to provide basic services to anyone. Ask Katrina victims about 2.

  17. Thomas Daulton Says:

    Hey Ted, I applaud your consistency, but just on a personal note…
    (and I often say this to conservative 2nd-amendment supporters too)…

    I do think it’s pretty delusional to imagine that any NRA supporter is even marginally better able to resist the US Government, than the rest of us, when that government’s kevlar-armored troops are wielding chemical weapons and microwave devices from a half a mile away, to say nothing of spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping, etc. It’s delusional to think otherwise and delusion does not contribute productively to politics, as we’ve found out for several decades now.

    I don’t squawk much about the 2nd amendment, though, because I think the government should be subject to arms control before the citizens. Let’s restore “Posse Comitatus” before we strengthen the 2nd amendment!

    Ever read Xoverboard?
    Some of the so-called “gun nuts” really do remind me of the guy in the comic. I think it’s [one of the few] perfectly unassailable things Obama has said, that it’s OK for localities to regulate weapons, because weapons are designed to kill people. Other constitutional rights such as free speech, never directly killed anyone.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Re: edward at 12:22am

    I don’t think it is much of a stretch to think that the 4th amendment is relevant to privacy and abortion. The disagreements in applying this clause are quite different than what is involved in gun control. Abortion was apparently not an issue for the founding fathers and, given that slavery was okay, their thinking about what defined a person doesn’t help. The Supreme Court is there to resolve these kinds of difficulties. There is a difference between arguing about grammar and punctuation and disagreements about semantics. If the latter was not a problem, the constitution would not have set up the supreme court. This problem with any set of laws has been known for at least 2500 years.

    * Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  19. Aggie Dude Says:

    “…I do think it’s pretty delusional to imagine that any NRA supporter is even marginally better able to resist the US Government, than the rest of us….”

    Keep in mind that we’re dealing with a population of severely delusional people. This is why the American militia movement dissolved in the mid 1990s after the Oklahoma City bombing. It was supposed to spark a revolution in this country.

    Instead all those NRA supporting, Rush Limbaugh listening morons went home and shut up. The reason? They’re chicken hawks. These are the same folks that still support GW Bush and company…they think the 2nd amendment is even a topic worth discussing instead of….I dunno…..illegally invading a country?

  20. k Says:


    I suggest you read the ninth amendment and shut up.

  21. Angelo Says:

    anonymous@6/30/08 6:53 PM
    Would the gun nut really be in any better shape to resist the professional mercenaries of the United States government?

    Always a good point. Thomas daulton drives the point home…

    “kevlar-armored troops are wielding chemical weapons and microwave devices from a half a mile away,”

    Numbers from the New England Journal of Medicine indicate that you are more likely to die by your own firearm than use it on someone else. These are all excellent arguments for gun control.

    Now I have owned an m1, a ppk and a 45 as long as I can remember. In addition, I have a 3000mw laser which could instantaneously and permanently blind anyone I want from a great distance.
    The point is, if we really believe that this government is gonna go bananas, we need to determine precisely what that means.

    No one should believe that we could defend ourselves against the full weight of the US military on the battlefield. However, As Iraq is demonstrating, the situation in cities is much different. More likely, our biggest threat would be kidnap and secret prisons. This still depends on good old fashioned raids, and thus, suffice it to say, I will keep my weapons, for now. Not because I’m necessarily going to use them, but because they change the game. it is like in congress how the ever-existing threat of a filibuster renders the majority party powerless. (It is actually called, the loaded gun theory of politics.)

    All that said, the neutron bomb is a real problem…

  22. Erik Z Says:

    “Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security”

    If there’s ever any doubt as to why the FF’s put a provision in the bill of rights to secure the right for people to bear arms, all you have to do is reread the declaration of independence. They seem to make it pretty clear.

  23. The Reverend Mr. Smith Says:

    “..they think the 2nd amendment is even a topic worth discussing instead of….I dunno…..illegally invading a country?”

    ANY assault on the Constitution is ALWAYS a topic worth discussing.

    Bob Barr 2008!

    …wait…THAT Bob Barr?!?!? Never mind.

  24. forksmuggler Says:

    And when the government does go to shit, we can’t just have a bunch of right-wingers with all the guns, now can we?

  25. Anders Says:

    Sure, private RESPONSIBLE ownership of firearms isn’t a bad thing. Mind you, “responsible” means not leaving your guns&ammo where your children can get to them, and teaching them what we in norway call “weapons-custom” (d.t.), so there’s no chance they’ll go shoot themselves or each other.
    Here in norwayland we have gun-control, which ssentially means that you have to have your weapons registered, and a permit from your local police to buy a gun, which again means that mentally ill or habitually criminal can’t get access to them. (Oh, and you can’t buy automatic pistols or rifles, though semi-autos are legal, which is fine, because only a moron sprays.)

  26. Sean C. Ledig Says:

    Hallelujah!!! Testify Brother Ted!!!

    Can I get a big Amen!!! brothers and sisters?

    Your column says what I’ve been complaining about for years. Both liberals and conservatives in this country are very good about finding exceptions to the freedoms and protections in our Constitution where none exist.

    The Constitution is a package deal. If we start ignoring parts of it that we don’t like for political reasons, then none of it is safe!

    I especially like the last graph. So many gun grabbers (on the left and the right) do not realize that the 2nd Amendment is a defense against tyranny. Look at all the great dictatorships of the world – Fascist Italy, Nazi German, the Soviet Union, South Africa under Apartheid, Czarist Russia, Medieval Europe, Edo-period Japan, the Ching Dynasty in China, etc.; and you will see that dictators and tyrants hate armed peasants!

    There’s another issue that has been ignored when it comes to gun ownership – that of consensual crimes. As a proud progressive, I don’t believe anyone should be prosecuted or punished for consensual behavior between adults. This goes for: abortion; use of birth control; private recreational drug use; the use, ownership or manufacture of pornography; gay sex and gay marriage; and yes, even gun ownership!!!

    If a behavior does not harm the person or property of another, it should not be prohibited. Until and unless I am using my gun in a hazardous, threatening manner or in the commission of a crime, it is NO ONE’S GODDAMN BUSINESS whether I own one or not.

    I don’t know why so many liberals are so clueless about that since they have been rightly on the side of individual rights on so many other issues.

    And if someone really doesn’t believe that guns belong in the hands of “commoners”, then he has a right to that opinion.

    But until you amend the Constitution to repeal the 2nd Amendment, anything you do to disarm private citizens is illegal.

    It is the gun grabbers that belong in jail for their disdain of the Constitution – not me.

  27. Flamingo Bob Says:

    You people have got to be kidding. Does anyone here actually believe that some handguns are going to protect you from being oppressed by the US Government? If the last 8 years haven’t taught you that your government can oppress you just as much as they damn well please and get away with it, I’m afraid nothing will.

    And please, spare us the nonsense about Iraq, Vietnam and Mogadishu as examples of resistance through gun ownership. Those people are resisting by strapping explosives to themselves or to their children. Improvised Explosive Devices and the will to use them ruthlessly are the only weapons that keep guerilla movements “successful”.

    As for invasion, if the USA is ever invaded by a force that can somehow get past the actual US military, then we’re all fucked. Such invaders would get past a nuclear deterrant, then stop at the sight of you and your Glock. Even Charleton Heston at the height of his Alziemers wouldn’t believe that crap.

  28. Kevin Says:

    More important than any of the constitutional arguments, though less of a legal principle, is that guns are fun. Anyone who has taken an M4 onto a pop-up range knows that. And I have zero respect for the kind of person who likes to tell me that my hobbies are destroying society. The average American hears this ALL THE TIME, from one lobby or another, and it’s a HUGE part of the reason why middle America often hates Democrats.

    That’s what a free country really means, living in a community where ‘they’ can’t just take something away from you because they dislike it. This is as true of gun control as it was back in the 80’s when Al Gore tried to ban rap music. I hate any politician who tries to outlaw recreational activities.

    As for the German guy, look, we get it, you’re the master race. Stop bragging.

    I’d also like to point out that if one of the main arguments against gun control is the defense-against-tyranny angle, that puts a bullet right through the idea of registration. How can you protect yourself from the government when they already have your name on a list? I bought an AK-47 cash and carry at a sports store in Michigan last year, and anyone should be able to get a gun that easily.

    If you’re afraid of getting shot, then shit, don’t make so many enemies. Or move out of NYC and live someplace where people think it’s impolite to shoot at each other.

  29. Sean C. Ledig Says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I like your comment about NYC.

    I lived in inner city Tampa, FL. for seven years, one block east of Nebraska Avenue. Anyone who’s been to Tampa or lived there in the 1990’s knows it was an area plagued with drug dealing and prostitution.

    During that same time period, I spent a total of four weeks on various visits to my mother’s NYC apartment, near 74th St. and Central Park West. My mother’s neighbors included the likes of Yoko Ono, Dustin Hoffman and Mary Tyler Moore. Obviously, a high-class ‘hood.

    So if gun control is so great at stopping gun violence, please explain to me why I heard more gunfire during visits to my mother’s NYC apartment than in inner city Tampa? After all, New York City and state have some of the strictest weapons laws in the country while Florida has some of the most lenient.

    One other note about Florida. As a longtime martial arts student and instructor, I love going down to one of Tampa’s beautiful parks and practicing outside. Thank God I live in Florida and I can take my swords or staff with me and practice outdoors. In other states where I’ve lived, like Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and California, I’d be committing a felony if I did that.

    Hopefully, with the recent Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd Amendment, we’ll see the draconian weapons laws in those other states eventually fall away and they can be as progressive as Florida.

  30. Sean C. Ledig Says:

    Hey Flamingo Bob,

    Iraq is a great example of resistance through gun ownership! Prior to our invasion, it was legal for almost anyone to get a gun and gun shops were found throughout the country.

    Just because an armed uprising hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t mean it can’t or it won’t. We’ve still got a loooonnngggg way to fall before people stop being anesthetized by what’s on American Idol that night.

    So please spare us your willful ignorance. It’s guys like you with your hopeless “Why arm ourselves? They’ll beat us anyway,” attitude that will turn us into a fascist state.

    Me, I prefer optimism to defeatism as a way to go through life. Pessimism is a luxury no one can afford.

    And whether I succeed or fail in life, I know one thing – I’m ready to go down fighting!

  31. G. M. Palmer Says:

    “Improvised Explosive Devices and the will to use them ruthlessly are the only weapons that keep guerilla movements “successful”.”

    That and direct and indirect support from outside goverments who have an interest in prolonging chaos.

  32. Aggie Dude Says:

    “More likely, our biggest threat would be kidnap and secret prisons.” – from Angelo

    Indeed, how many of your typical NRA types would willingly submit to police visit without resistance? Just on the anecdotal evidence, all of the people I know who are major 2nd Amendment junkies would not hesitate to invite the police in at a moment’s notice.

    After all, what do they have to fear? They’re old white men, and think that people like GW Bush are their friends and allies. If the US government wanted to start seizing people en mass, I believe these people are MORE likely to go along with it than most other citizens….it would be their opportunity to hunt down all those non-Americans like women, minorities, intellectuals and artists. These are always the first groups to get targeted when society goes bananas.

    “ANY assault on the Constitution is ALWAYS a topic worth discussing.” – From Charles

    Of course….and so we choose to start with the most obscure and outdated, ignoring all of the assaults on the constitution possession of arms by the public is SUPPOSED to be protecting us against? Face it, NRA types are overwhelmingly Republicans….repugs have done more to irrevocably damage the constitution in the past 8 years than anyone else in the past 50 years, maybe 100.

    So when do we decide our government has gone bananas? When we’re starting illegal wars? when we suspend Habeas Corpus? when we torture? Please tell me at what point all those constitution defending cowboys are going to step up to the plate and save us from an oppressive federal government that spies on its own citizens and violates its own laws?

    How about this for starters….get them to stop being so gung ho about our march to imperial fascism first….if you can get them to stop harping on welfare queens and gays.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    “As history proves, every government falls. Every nation gets invaded.”

    Sorry, Ted, but this isn’t “inevitable.” The US could avoid invasion by nuking the planet and killing everyone, or humanity could commit ecocide before the US government is overwhelmed by internal or external pressures–it could then just wither away. I think there’s a 50/50 chance that the US will still be in existence when civilization ends.


  34. DRT Says:

    Sorry Mr. Rall, while I really enjoy your writing and cartoons the idea that a handgun is an effective combat weapon is foolish. It’s good for concealment and close range, not for defending the homeland, or killing indians, the british, emboldened slaves or whatever other reason the forefatehers may have thought up. Despite the Declaration of Independaece’s tirades, against the native people’s, etc. the only people who pose a threat to america are americans.

  35. Flamingo Bob Says:

    Optimism. That’s what we’re calling it now, is it? Barbarians at the gates. Big Brother gearing up to de-libertize us all. Just because it’s bad in Iraq doesn’t mean it can’t get worse (and that “armed uprising” you’re rooting for would be against US troops, you do know that?) Ready to go down fighting? What a pretty picture you paint, oh glimmering optimist.

    No. When you carry a weapon, you have surrendered to your fear. Those poor people have nothing left but their fear. We still have a chance.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Angel, and Forker, I’m with you. Carrying a weapon when every one else is, is not surrendering to fear. It is smart. Don’t bring a gun to a knife fight, it’s true. Ghandi, and King, did wonderful things but the threat of the other option was always there.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, what is the difference between saying I have to agree with the Bill of Rights–all of it–or not at all, and saying I have to support my government–right or wrong?

  38. Incitatus Says:

    On a lighter note,
    15 Hostages Held by Colombian Rebels Are Rescued
    Not a single shot fired, none from the government, none from the guerrilla thugs.
    Never let them tell you Guevara t-shirts are useless!

  39. Anonymous Says:

    David took out Goliath with a stone.

  40. Matthew Says:

    Anonymous 7/2/08 11:44 PM – he’s not saying you have to agree with it, he’s saying you have to make laws in accordance with it. And if there’s a part you don’t agree with, then take the actions required to fix it – don’t just go and argue about punctuation and semantics.

    The founding fathers were quite clear about their intents. They were also fully aware they might be wrong. That’s WHY they built in a system to allow amendments.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    If someone wants you dead and they can’t get a gun, they’ll find a way. After yesterday’s tractor homicide in Israel, John Deere better watch his ass.

  42. Angelo Says:

    We should have another Revolutionary War where we fight England to get them to take us back.

  43. Sam Holloway Says:

    A few thoughts:

    First, Ted, you construct a dichotomy that rings hollow.
    It’s freedom of, not from, religion, say right-wingers. Freedom from, argue advocates of the separation of church and state.
    Right-wingers generally aren’t fighting for everyone’s freedom to worship; they’re fighting to have their own style of worship injected into as much of our common public life as possible. Advocates of the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state want to avoid what the establishment clause prohibits– government involvement in the establishment and promotion of religion. This is not a he said/she said issue; only one of these positions is clearly constitutionally unsound.

    Next, I find the analogy of the Iraqi resistance (being tossed up by some commenters here) both laughable and obscene. The Iraqis aren’t fighting their own government. They are fighting a foreign occupying power that starved them, bombed them to pieces, dismantled their public institutions, and robbed blind what was left of their economy. The U.S. has thrown the last straw onto the Iraqis’ collective back so many times that it’s a miracle what’s left of Iraq hasn’t descended into total chaos. That said, the suggestion that right-wing gun nuts are going to be some kind of first line of defense against a totalitarian government is a sick joke that betrays a lack of historical perspective. By the time the U.S. government decides to openly suspend whatever is left of the Constitution, it will have already recruited the gun nuts into its fold. They will be the first line of local offense in establishing the new order.

    And if you think public gun ownership will be any kind of defense against a foreign invasion, I offer you an anecdote that I hope will disabuse you of that pea-brained Hollywood notion. A right-wing nutjob I once knew was spouting off some historically wrongheaded crap about WWII and offered some alleged quote about Hitler promising to invade the U.S. and grease the wheels of his tanks with negroes. Even if the quote was authentic, I said, an invading Nazi force wouldn’t have had to life a finger against the U.S.’s negro population. They would have done what they did throughout Europe and encouraged the locals to deal with their Untermenschen problem. Not to mention the help they’d have had from all the right-wing industrialists who had backed the Nazis and had wanted to overthrow the Roosevelt administration, but I digress. Any foreign invasion of the U.S. would use the same tactic we used in every invasion we’ve done, and they’d use the same tactic we help our Israeli clients use in Palestine: divide and conquer. And, once again, the right-wing gun nuts would be the first recruits; I can see them falling over each other to line up for the chance to finally put the lib’ruls, homos, niggers, etc. in their place for good (no matter who’s giving the marching orders).

    I don’t advocate banning guns for anyone, but let’s not pretend that a well-armed or over-armed public is a solution to any threat to freedom.

  44. Angelo Says:

    “…let’s not pretend that a well-armed or over-armed public is a solution to any threat to freedom.”

    I wonder how the experience of Spain during the civil war can be used here. Everyone had a gun, and everyone was a target. To hear them talk about it, it was just about saving ones own ass in a chaotic environment.
    So, if the government had confiscated everyones guns a few years prior, no one would have needed them.

  45. Sam Holloway Says:

    Angelo, don’t forget that a key element of the Spanish Civil War was outside support. The Spanish fascists had the open and substantial support of German and Italian right-wingers, and they had less conspicuous support from across the globe. The Spanish Republicans weren’t as united or organized, and their support was even less so. While many U.S. citizens saw the dangers of fascism and went to fight with the Republicans, I don’t think it’s too hard to guess where the sympathies (and financial support, if any was disbursed) of our nation’s wealthier interests were more likely to flow.

    Likewise, if the U.S. devolves into another civil war, totalitarian outside forces will know who they can ally themselves with here, and it won’t be peace-loving liberals. The Russians, the Chinese, or whomever is wielding the big lever of influence in our affairs will find friends among the military hierarchy and the rabidly right-wing public. The same organs of fear and hatred that now serve the GOP (right-wing talk radio and to a less obvious extent corporate media) won’t have to change their program much in order to serve their new masters.

    So, again, I’m suggesting that the Second Amendment fight is a red herring. In fact, I’ll also suggest that liberals, progressives, and lovers of our Republican form of representative government might be well served to arm themselves and learn to shoot well. When the sh-t hits the fan, they’re going to be fighting more than their right-wing neighbors.

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