A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment

Monday, November 19, 2012

Veteran New York Times editor Craig Whitney reexamines America’s relationship with guns and looking at the ways guns are part of American culture. In Living with Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment he makes the case that trying to restrict gun ownership doesn’t effectively deter crime and argues that, if we focus on controlling violence rather than guns themselves, the Second Amendment may not be as lethal as the left would like to think.


Craig R. Whitney

Comments [36]

@BrettG, in response to "A pistol against a man wearing full body armor & with night vision in a darkened theater?"

The shooter in question, as it turns out, wasn't wearing body armor (nor, I believe, night vision), but even if he were, I'd much rather be armed and have a slim chance at defending myself, than unarmed and have a much slimmer chance.

Nov. 27 2012 07:05 PM
Bill from Poconos, PA

The term "Well Regulated" in the Second Amendment meant "Well Manned and Equipped " in 1791 as was determined in the 1939 United States v. Miller case after referencing the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The concept of Government Regulation, as we understand it today, did not exist at the time. United States v. Miller also determined that the term "Arms" refers to "Ordinary Military Weapons". American Citizens have the right to Keep and Bear, which means Own and Carry, any weapons that a soldier carries into battle. That includes past, present and future weapons. A Militia consisted of armed volunteers willing to fight with their personal arms and not under government control. The American people still have some work to do with regard to taking back their rights.

Nov. 26 2012 02:40 PM
tm2012 from Louisiana

There are many items that can be used for weapons if someone decided to inflict harm. There are many cases that involve the obvious such as cars, knives, medication, poison, and the list goes on. There will always be the uncommon, until they become common, such as the tennis referee accused of killing her husband with a coffee mug. You will always have those every day citizens that out of the blue seem to act violently, but the over all majority of law abiding citizens would never do so unless faced with the choice of their life or another's. (most will never know what they will actually decide unless faced with it and always hope they are never placed in that situation.) Any item could be a potential weapon. I don't think a coffee mug will help me much if a gang member, drug addict, robber, or any other criminal type has a gun of any type. I have no doubt that they do not care for any gun law or regulation for what is in their possession, they only care about what they are intending to do. I am also sure that their gun was not obtained through the proper laws or regulations that we follow, but instead was obtained illegally. If the gun regulators have their way, I, as a law abiding citizen, will be armed with a coffee mug and the criminal will be armed with a gun. No thank you! You don't take a knife to a gun fight. (or a frying pan or coffee mug!) You take a gun!!!!! The first step, they are discussing is limiting us to basically revolvers, shotguns and .22 caliber which won't do much with the guns they obtain illegally. There will always be the rogues or those that slip through the cracks, because nothing has ever been perfect in the world, but rogues are very few and far between. 2nd they are going to try to say that we don't need them at all, then we will really be in trouble. They will still be continuing their illegal lifestyle and have guns while we search for anything available in the house to protect ourselves with. (except, of course, the guns we use to own legally.) They will know we don't have them any more and that will only give them free reign to come after all the law abiding citizens they want. (maybe, I can call 911 and hit them with my coffee mug until the police get here.)

Nov. 20 2012 02:38 AM
Guav from Syracuse

Vlad from Central NJ: Firearm availability effects only METHOD of suicide, not overall rate of suicide. That is to say, when firearms are available, they are the method of choice for suicide. When they are not available, there is a total replacement of firearms with other means (hanging, jumping, poisoning, etc).

Leo from Queens: It's hard to understand what you're even trying to say—that sentence is entirely too long and convoluted. But automatic weapons (machine guns) have been tightly restricted since 1934, and banned for import and new manufacture (other than for military or law enforcement use) since 1986. You are under the common misconception that automatic weapons are freely and widely available to civilians. They are not.

Nissa from Brooklyn: About as well as controlling drugs has worked.

Ed from Bronx: The first gun control laws were originally about controlling blacks as well:

Sophia: Have you ever been to Japan? They have virtually no CRIME whatsoever—they are an exceptionally law-abiding culture. Japanese-Americans have extremely low homicide rates just like their counterparts in Japan even though, living here, they have the same access to firearms that everyone else has. It's in their culture not to kill people, it has nothing to do with firearm availability (or lack of it).

Nov. 19 2012 01:57 PM
Vlad from Central NJ

Glad to see you mentioned Guns as being the primary source for Suicides.

I can prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that "Gun Laws" have a DIRECT correlation to the number of Suicides that are performed in the US..

Top "Top 9" States on the Brady Score... match up with the "Top 9" Strongest Gun Laws in the Country.. and the "Bottom 7 out of 9" on the Brady Score match up with the "Top 7 out of 9" Worst State Gun Laws...

Nov. 19 2012 01:17 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

The NRA is a little nuts on the issue of no controls of any sort be tolerable.

Many against any gun ownership:
1. Know virtually nothing about guns.
2. Know nothing about hunting:
Why does anyone need a semi-automatic rifle? 3 ideas spring instantly to my mind: Wild pigs. They've begun invading Virginia of late (they're moving north). Pigs of all sorts are rather vicious creatures, if one is running at you with enormus tusks - gee why would I want a semi-automatic rifle? Deer hunting, you hit a deer & merely wound it - if you can follow up quickly, you can avert tracking a deer that is suffering until you find it and finish it off. And finally, bears - if I lived in an area with grizzlies I'd like a machine gun! Even black bears can be quite dangerous. About 10 years ago, a black bear ripped the doors off of a barn in NW NJ to get at the lambs inside. I sure wouldn't want to face such a creature without a semi-automatic rifle.

See, we don't all live in an apartment in NYC.

Nov. 19 2012 12:58 PM
Leo from Queens

Does your guest think that the lax laws that permit anyone to acquire automatic weapons and ammunition is due to the influence of the gun manufactures and the crime syndicates and drug cartels and their lobbying group (the NRA) to ensure that these weapons continue to flow to these criminals as they are not legally able to sell to them directly and if we only allowed law abiding citizens to own guns for personal use is not an economically viable model for the gun and ammunition manufacturers?

Nov. 19 2012 12:40 PM

I personally would like to see handgun ownership severely restricted. What form would the wording of an amendment to the Second Amendment take?

The militia argument is archaic and really only facilitates assassination. No militia could stand against modern military armaments for long.
Advances in personal defense weapons will (some day) remove the personal protection argument from individual firearms ownership.

We can think about it now before the advent of these technologies or we can wait until another 100,000 or shot to death.

Nov. 19 2012 12:38 PM
Joseph England from Florida

Isn't the 2nd Amendment an anachronism? It clearly bases gun rights on the need to serve in a militia. Isn't the right to bear arms in the 9th Amendment?

Nov. 19 2012 12:38 PM
Abhishek Kalla

You mentioned the issue of limits on what can be disclosed about a person's mental state, which may be why having an FBI file/list of people for whom gun-ownership may not be safe... but as soon as something like Arora happens, everyone knows about that person's mental state. We've heard about that guy's unstable mental state again and again since then. The Tarasoff vs. Regents of the Univesity of California case mandated that a mental health professional should tell law-enforcement about someone's malicious intent... giving the FBI or any other agency about someone's mental state (if it's questionable) is not like making it public record. People get banned from flying just because of their name... why can't we limit people from buying guns because of a known mental instability. Also... I still don't understand why people need to be able to buy semi-automatic weapons. I understand the sport/firing range thing (I had fun in paintball too), but keeping them in the home is not necessary!

Nov. 19 2012 12:37 PM

Concession is a very effective tactic for those who are conceded to.

1)The author claims an individul right to arms despite what's written in the Constitution

2) Then blames liberals for "backlash", while ignoring the profit interests and lobbying power of the corporations making the guns and the profits.

Nov. 19 2012 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Wait, did they just completely skip over the assassination attempt on Pres. Reagan & the Brady Bill?

Nov. 19 2012 12:36 PM

Colorado may not have been created by SSIs. I've heard that Holmes was barely conscious and on Opiates. Some theorize he couldn't be the shooter:

"With the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty negotiations ongoing (and going badly for the gun grabbers and elite power brokers), a game-changer was needed. It came in the form of James Holmes, “The Joker” who allegedly shot up a Colorado movie theater July 20.

Holmes is almost certainly a patsy — a term used to describe those used by government agents to pull off their hits or staged false flag events. There are just too many questionable aspects to the whole story — and Holmes himself — for the incident to have gone down as depicted by government authorities."

Nov. 19 2012 12:36 PM
nissa from Brooklyn

What about Chris Rock's old joke about making a bullet cost $5000. Could controlling ammunition help at all?

Nov. 19 2012 12:35 PM
Tim from Manhattan

Guns and cigarettes. Guns in American culture could go the way of cigarettes: less cool and more lethal than advertising and pop culture would have us believe. When was the last time you saw a movie *without* a gun in it?

Nov. 19 2012 12:35 PM

The reason the Black Panthers fought for the right to carry guns in San Francisco was that blacks were being killed routinely by SFPD. Lo and behold, when the Panthers started carrying guns, the incidence of police shooting of blacks dropped precipitously.

Nov. 19 2012 12:34 PM
Ed from Bronx

Just as a map of the red states is virtually the same as the slave states and territories, so the virulent gun advocacy has risen with the election of Obama. The second amendment was originally about slave control, as presented in this academic paper:

Nov. 19 2012 12:34 PM
Bill Gerstenmaier

Handguns are the real issue, but it seems the cultural and legislative logjam about firearms will require a dramatic change in negotiation strategy. How about this: allow assault rifles with unlimited capacity magazines, in exchange for drastic curtailment of handgun ownership.

Nov. 19 2012 12:32 PM

Doesn't New York City, for all Mayor Bloomberg's railing against hand guns, allow the privileged and wealthy to apply for a permit to carry a _concealed_ gun? If I remember correctly, Felix Rohatyn was granted such a permit, but Larry Flynt (who was paralyzed in an attempt on his life) was denied one.

Nov. 19 2012 12:31 PM
CK from Yorktown

Note that the guest said "gun control isn't going to resolve the gun violence" problem. We have alot of laws on the books. You can take the guns from the lawful citizens and you'll still have a problem: criminals don't care about the gun laws. What you want to do is keep them out of hands of mentally ill people. But that's difficult because no one wants to be politically incorrect, do they? How do you decide who cannot have a gun?

Nov. 19 2012 12:31 PM
Chris Garvey

Dear Tammy from Bushwick,
Nazis went to movies.
Hitler's Germany, for all but government Nazis, was a gun-free zone.
There were also no SSIs: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Virtually all of the gun-related massacres that have made headlines over the past decade have had one thing in common:

Nov. 19 2012 12:27 PM
Rick Pettit from East Village

It says "well regulated militia," not "unorganized militia." I agree with Peter. Ignoring that first phrase in the 2nd Amendment is irresponsible.

Nov. 19 2012 12:24 PM

Another "Gun-Free Zone" :Japan: virtually no gun deaths.

If you claim you have to be able to fight a tyrannical govt, be honest enough to argue for land mines and tactical nukes as well.

Nov. 19 2012 12:22 PM

Well-Regulated Militia
In the late 1700s, the meaning of "well regulated" meant properly functioning. A well regulated clock was properly adjusted. A well regulated militia was well trained.
There were two types of militia:
1. The King's Militia, a.k.a. select militia, organized militia, state militia, government militia; and
2. The unorganized militia, a.k.a. well regulated militia, people's militia.

Nov. 19 2012 12:20 PM
Tammy from Bushwick

Chris Garvey -- how does your bizarre theory account for there not having been a single case of a mass shooting in a movie theatre in Germany during the Nazi regime?

Nov. 19 2012 12:19 PM

"The unorganized militia shall consist of all able-bodied male residents of the state between the ages of seventeen and forty-five who are not serving in any force of the organized militia…who are…citizens…." 36 NY Consolidated Laws Art. I Military Law § 2 (2) [emphasis added]
10 US Code §311 is similar:
"(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able bodied males at least 17 years…and under 45 years of age who are…citizens….
(b) The classes of the militia are-…
(c) ...the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or Naval Militia."

Nov. 19 2012 12:18 PM

Why do most gun owners and the NRA neglect to mention the "well regulated Militia" part of the 2nd Amendment ? There's nothing there about owning an assault weapon to defend yourself.

Nov. 19 2012 12:18 PM
Laura from UWS

Question: Second Amendment and Slavery?
The potential threat of slave uprisings?

Nov. 19 2012 12:17 PM

My numbers below were from the 20th Century.

Nov. 19 2012 12:17 PM
Tony from Canarsie

Bit o' trivia: Since the late 1960's, gun ownership per household has gone down 75%, while the amount of guns owned by gun owners/collectors has increased sharply.

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's weapons cache"?

Nov. 19 2012 12:15 PM

The Aurora killer was not wearing "body armor," he was just wearing a "tactical vest," which does not have any bullet resistant plating in it.

Nov. 19 2012 12:14 PM

Gun Owner error 2%
Police error 11%
According to a DOJ report Cops kill 10 times more UNARMED citizens than the number of police murdered by "suspects."

Police officers have five times the error rate of shooting the wrong person as civilians.
That's probably because a gun-carrying civilian sees, or is the intended victim of, the crime he is thwarting. The bad guy is likely to be the one demanding his money.
The police are injected into the scene later, without knowing who the bad guy is, without knowing who is the threat to themselves. So a story of the plainclothes officer shot by his comrades is far more common than an officer being shot by an armed witness.
In most civilian defensive gun uses, a mere display of the gun is sufficient to cause the felon to depart, without shots fired.
Armed civilians are safer than trained police. The police can't be everywhere. Armed citizens could be, if allowed.

Nov. 19 2012 12:14 PM

A pistol against a man wearing full body armor & with night vision in a darkened theater?

Nov. 19 2012 12:13 PM
Edward from NJ

I recently received a automated phone "poll" that seemed to be sponsored by the NRA. They asked if I thought it would be okay if the US government allowed the United Nations to confiscate American guns. They assumed that this scenario actually existed in some reality.

Nov. 19 2012 12:13 PM

In Wars only:
700,000,000 enemies were killed by 200 governments = 350,000 per government / 0.0018 per individual = 194,444,444 (about Two-hundred-million) times
A government is Two-hundred-million times more dangerous to foreign people, than is an average individual.

Aside from wars:
200 national governments killed 180,000,000 of their own people = average 900,000 per government;
900,000 / 0.0018 = 500,000,000 times
An average government is 500,000,000 (Five-hundred-million) times more dangerous to its own people, than is an average individual.

For 65 to 90 million victims of their own governments, the pattern was:
1. Register the guns;
2. Confiscate the registered guns;
3. Kill the unarmed victims.

Nov. 19 2012 12:10 PM
Chris Garvey from Copr. 2000, 2012 Chris Garvey [permission to post granted

Gun-Free Zones
The Aurora Colorado Theater was a Gun-Free Zone. The "No Guns" signs deterred all, except the mass murderer, from being armed.
The Texas Restaurant, where Suzanna Gratia-Hupp watched her parents and 21 others executed, while her gun sat, as required by law, in her car, was a gun-free zone.
Virginia Tech; The Empire State Building; The Flights of 9/11, even Fort Hood - - all Gun-Free Zones.
Hitler's Germany, for all but government Nazis, was a gun-free zone.
Parts of the South were gun free zones; But only for slaves.
East Timore was a gun-free zone. And was helpless to resist Suharto's invasion, and 25 years of Indonesian genocide.
The death toll of gun-free zones: Thousands, Millions, and it accrues,
Massacres at shooting ranges, gun shows: none. But that's not news.

Nov. 19 2012 12:06 PM

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