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California 2nd Amend. Political Discussion & Activism Discuss gun rights activism and 2A related political topics here. All advice given is NOT legal counsel.

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  #1  
Old 10-23-2009, 10:37 AM
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Default Using the Second Amendment to Attack Democracy

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Using the Second Amendment to Attack Democracy
A Q&A with Joshua Horwitz, author of ‘Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea’

By Lisa Kaiser
Wednesday, October 21,2009


Those armed protesters at anti-tax and health care reform rallies aren’t an anomaly, argues Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. They’re part of a fringe element of the gun rights movement that supports armed rebellion against what they see as tyrannical government control. But Horwitz, author of Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea, argues that this viewpoint is rooted in a flawed interpretation of the Second Amendment and the early years of this nation. Horwitz, who will speak at a Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort benefit on Oct. 22, spoke to the Shepherd about the insurrectionist idea and how it influences the current debate on gun control.


Shepherd: What is the insurrectionist idea?

Horwitz: It’s the notion that armed political violence is a legitimate part of our democratic process. Our thinking about that is clearly “no,” but it’s an idea that has gained a lot of traction among libertarian and other groups in the last couple of years. It’s the idea that you can show up armed at a health care rally and it’s a legitimate form of protest. “You can push us only so far or we will retaliate with violence.” That’s what the message is.

Of course, that is anathema to America’s most important idea, and that idea is equality. My vote is worth as much as your vote. Gun ownership does not have anything to do with your political clout. But that’s the crux of the insurrectionist idea.

Shepherd: But aren’t they just acting on their Second Amendment right to bear arms?

Horwitz: But it’s an infringement on my liberty. My liberty is that my vote carries the same weight as your vote. They cast everything in the notion of freedom, but it’s really detrimental to the rest of our freedoms. It’s a fundamental idea that we come to these forums as equal citizens and that you should respect my vote even if you don’t like it. That’s the law of the land. And to believe that you should challenge that with firearms is anathema to constitutionalism in general and our Constitution specifically.

Shepherd: But the United States was founded during a violent revolution and bearing arms protects citizens from a tyrannical government. Isn’t that patriotic?

Horwitz: Our country was founded in a violent revolution—which swept away a form of government. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. That’s why I call it the insurrectionist idea, which is the unlawful activity against the government.

But I think the most important lesson that people tend to forget is that the revolutionary government’s first documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, did not work as a governing principle. The Constitution was formed to correct the libertarian bias of the Declaration of Independence. So I think that while people were proud of their revolutionary service, they found that those documents were impossible [to use] to run a country. We came very close to losing the Revolutionary War because the federal government didn’t have enough power. After the Revolutionary War, most of the major cities had riots. Legislatures were basically nonfunctional. The federal government had 90 troops at their disposal—literally.

Shays’ Rebellion broke out in 1786 and a group of self-anointed militia members took over the local courts and basically [George] Washington and others said, “We’ve had enough. We need a strong central government.” So that’s what they did. It really beggars the imagination to say, “Well, we want a strong central government, but let’s ratify a Second Amendment that creates the same problem we just had.”

Shepherd: How does that translate into the current debate on gun control laws—say, mandating background checks on all gun purchases, including private sales at gun shows?

Horwitz: If you see, as I do, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to preserve the independence of the militias, then the states should be able to regulate the militias in any way they see fit. They may say they’re going to keep all of the guns and people can get the guns from them. At Lexington and Concord the stores of weapons were in public places, in armories. Or they could say they’d like you to keep the weapons. But, in the 1780s, they had a list of who had weapons and what type of weapons.

The only argument for not wanting to have a background check or having a record of sale on all gun sales is that they don’t want the government knowing [who owns a gun] because the government could take their guns away. To me, that is completely illegitimate. The state government has every right to know who has guns.

Shepherd: How did this sort of fringe interpretation of the Second Amendment become endorsed by mainstream politicians and Supreme Court justices?

Horwitz: That’s the scary part of this. The real battle on gun control or gun violence prevention is between those who are the insurrectionists and those who are not. Those who I label self-defenders or hunters—if you want to keep a gun in your home, or if you want to use a gun to hunt, what does it matter if you have to go through a background check to buy your gun? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s part of your service to your country to make sure that it doesn’t get into the hands of criminals.

But the vehement part [of the gun rights movement] says they don’t want that. They are not worried about having a gun for self-defense. They want a gun to take on the government. Yes, it is very scary. A lot of the major presidential candidates—Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul—very clearly said the Second Amendment is not about duck hunting, that it’s about the ability to take on a tyrannical government. Then you have the [D.C. v.Heller] case, where you have [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia, all over his footnotes, saying that this right is based on the historic ability to take on the government, and more importantly makes the case that an independent citizens militia is an important part of this right.

Think about that. The rebels in Shays’ Rebellion were an independent militia. Our founders came together and drafted a new Constitution exactly because they did not want independent militias. Now we have a Supreme Court decision saying that’s a historic part of this. It’s very disturbing and scary.
The crux of Horowitz's argument seems to be that the carrying of a gun is an implicit threat of violence (in this case political violence).

Discuss.
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  #2  
Old 10-23-2009, 10:46 AM
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Somebody needs to buy Horwitz a copy of Glenn Beck's "Arguing with Idiots" book and refer him to chapter 2 (the one on 2A). Horwitz seems to fit the idiot profile pretty well...
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:59 AM
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It is an expression of the will to defend liberty by justifiable violence. Our opposition whimsically discards the notion of such thing. Reminding poltiticians that they are beholden to us and that our will bears weight of force is not only proper but way overdue. They forget that far too often and have become far too comfortable.
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:01 AM
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It is an expression of the will to defend liberty by justifiable violence. Our opposition whimsically discards the notion of such thing. Reminding poltiticians that they are beholden to us and that our will bears weight of force is not only proper but way overdue. They forget that far too often and have become far too comfortable, lacking sufficient fear impelling them to behave.
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:15 AM
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The major flaw with his argument (other than its wrong )is that he assumes to much. One thing he assumes is that background checks and registration are one and the same. I would hazard a guess that most gun owners think background checks are tolerable,and I believe they are a good idea. But registration is a different issue. Historically registration leads to confiscation.

Also he assumes that a fear of registration, and thus confiscation has to do with a desire to use the arms against the government. It does not. It is simply that if our guns are registered it makes them easier to confiscate, and therefore we lose our most effective means of self defense.

Occam's Razor applies here. He already has gun owners broken down into two groups, sportsmen and those desiring self defense. To then say that people from these groups don't want registration because of some insurrectionist tendency makes a huge leap of logic. It is a far simpler an explanation to say that they don't want the tools of their sport or means of self defense taken away, and registration is a threat towards that end. The simpler explanation is far more likely.
Even if it is true, and I think it is, that there is a minority of people who hold an insurrectionist view that arms are to be used against a government you don't approve of, it does not mean that if you take away that segment then registration won't be opposed. Put another way, insurrectionists would not be the only ones opposed to registration. In fact I think the majority of gun owners would be opposed to registration, whether for fears of confiscation or privacy reasons.

Finally he assumes that people bringing guns to rallies are there to intimidate or send a message that opposition will be met with violence. In fact this is a compound logical error.

Error one is assuming that they are bearing arms as a threat to the opposition. There are other explanations; they could be spreading awareness of the right to carry openly, they may be exercising what they view as a fundamental right as a means of showing their commitment to fundamental American values, or they may ALWAYS carry guns for personal protection. Horowitz apparently fears guns and those who bear them therefore he projects his own fear into their motives by assuming they are hostile or threatening.

The second error is assuming that the people who bear arms conspicuously, like the AR15 guy in Arizona, are even at the protest or rally because of the issue at stake. Ar15 guy was not there because of the health care issue, he was there to show his support for 2nd amendment issues. Just like Abortion supporters or opposers who show up to any and every political rally or event in the hopes of getting some media attention, many of the open carriers are at these rallies to show support for gun rights causes that they feel are threatened by the current administration. They aren't threatening anyone, they are just looking for some exposure for their issues.

It's impossible for me to take arguments like this seriously, I mean he admits straight out that his whole position is based on fear and not logic. How many times can you say in a one page interview "I'm scared" or "It's scary"? He is trying to tell his readers "I'm a reasonable person, and I am scared; therefore you should be too and just agree with me without thinking about it too much cus its just too darn scary"

Sadly this kind of argument goes a long way with educated people who should know better.

Last edited by jrr; 10-23-2009 at 11:18 AM..
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:27 AM
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Also, his points on equality and insurrections are interesting, but not for his reasons.

It is often said that a gun is the ultimate equalizer. He claims that having a gun is an infringement on his freedom o speech because he feels threatened. Well, nobody is stopping him from strapping on a piece and going to the protests. And since when is one liberty more important than another? Sure, if I use my liberty to infringe on the liberty of another then I should be restricted. But I feel my 2nd amendment liberty is threatened by his speech, so can I pass a law that restricts the right to talk smack and spread FUD about guns?

And the other major rebellion, and its consequences, that he conveniently forgets is the Civil War. Talk about States using the militia's power! And look at what did NOT happen... the North did NOT restrict the rights of gun owners in the Southern states. Despite the fact that if they were disarmed then they would not be capable of insurrection again.

Instead what happened was the South passed laws restricting the rights of freed slaves from owning guns! Why? Because a gun makes you an equal.

So the argument that the 2nd amendment was intended as some kind of check on insurrections or rebellions is ludicrous. If the intent was to prevent individuals from owning guns in order to prevent a repeat of Shay's rebellion then the second amendment would read "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the States to raise and arm the Milita shall not be infringed". Instead it says the People have the right to keep and bear arms, and later on the constitution gives Congress the power to call out the Militia.

Last edited by jrr; 10-23-2009 at 11:34 AM..
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:35 AM
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We are not a democracy, the founding fathers in the federalist papers spoke out against it, we are a republic. He talks about how voting matters but our system can void even the majority vote.
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by jrr View Post
It's impossible for me to take arguments like this seriously, I mean he admits straight out that his whole position is based on fear and not logic. How many times can you say in a one page interview "I'm scared" or "It's scary"? He is trying to tell his readers "I'm a reasonable person, and I am scared; therefore you should be too and just agree with me without thinking about it too much cus its just too darn scary"
Ah yes, the poor man is obviously using psychological defense mechanisms without even knowing it. Psychiatrist Sarah Thompson explains that here:

http://www.vcdl.org/new/raging.htm
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:40 AM
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A just government will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just government. If a small minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people the RKBA of the whole is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 12:25 PM
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Excellent and insightful posts, jrr.

Welcome to the forum.
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Old 10-23-2009, 2:17 PM
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So if the majority votes into office a murderous dictator intent on carrying out genocide, an armed insurrection would be wrong? Idiot. That Q&A is filled with strawman arguments and red-herrings.
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Old 10-23-2009, 2:23 PM
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Sorry... I feel better now.
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Old 10-23-2009, 5:50 PM
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Did someone pull a gun and tell him how to vote, No. and would anyone of us let that happen, No. so what was his point? I fear your rights.
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Old 10-23-2009, 6:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jdberger View Post
The crux of Horowitz's argument seems to be that the carrying of a gun is an implicit threat of violence (in this case political violence).

Discuss.
That is his interpretation, and probably that of many people who see these protesters, but the issue is that my vote is NOT worth as much as "his" vote, in part due to the electoral college, where a California, New England, or Hawaiian conservative may as well just stay home in a Presidential election (likewise for an Alaskan or Texan liberal), or due to the gerrymandering of district boundaries to ensure that representative seats are "safe".

Congress (and the state legislature), have an approval rating of under 20%, yet when you go one-on-one, nearly 90% of respondents are happy with THEIR representatives.

THIS is what has "broken" the 2-party system. The California legislature is in the pockets of the unions, and the seats are so safe that we are powerless to remove them.


The root of the "safe seats"?
The polar opposite of the reason our country was founded.
The colonists revolted over taxation without representation.
Today, we have the opposite true... we have segements of society that have full representation without equal taxation.

The founding fathers never intended for the general public to have the right to vote. The right to vote was reserved for those who paid taxes... landowners.
They understood that, even though renters pay more rent when taxes are increased, the renters would assume that a tax reduction would not result in a reduction of their rents, and the renters would view taxes as a way to "stick it" to the wealthy landowners.

Now throw in the "New Deal", and ice the cake with the "Great Society", and you have a system where true political power is stripped from the people and handed over to the best salesman who is able to appeal to society's lowest common denominator.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 6:10 PM
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The issue in the Shay's rebellion is that the rebels skipped the courts and went straight to arms. Of course Washington will put that down.

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Old 10-23-2009, 6:15 PM
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A just government will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just government. If a small minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people the RKBA of the whole is our insurance against their success.
Wow.

That should be engraved in marble.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 6:29 PM
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The issue in the Shay's rebellion is that the rebels skipped the courts and went straight to arms. Of course Washington will put that down.

-Gene
Is not that justified under some circumstances? For example, consider two options available when a thug breaks down your door with malice aforethought:

1. Shoot the miscreant down with the appropriate caliber;
2. File for a restraining order with your local neighborhood Court once you are released from the hospital and after your late wife's funeral.

Of course Shay's rebellion failed, possibly because they didn't use a clever moniker such as Americans Concerned Over Rotten No-good-courts.

Oh, and jrr did real good for a new guy.
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Old 10-23-2009, 7:12 PM
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I would hazard a guess that most gun owners think background checks are tolerable,and I believe they are a good idea. But registration is a different issue.
I wonder how many people agree with you, I think I do. The problem is that both sides of the debate refuse to discuss what is tolerable. I would like to see us move towards some sort of federal licence that allows instant purchase and carry rights. To get such a licence you would probably go through a background check and some form of training. It would probably need to be renewed on a regular basis. Such a licence would streamline our ability to exercise our rights and give some assurance to the state that citizens understand how to use their fireams while keeping them away from violent criminals. I would not want to see registration of individual firearms. The problem is no one wants to talk about how to meet in the middle.
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Old 10-23-2009, 7:20 PM
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Such a licence would streamline our ability to exercise our rights
The terms are mutually exclusive.

The purpose of the Constitution is to limit the powers of the government, therefore, to allow that government to have the power to deny you such a "license" nullifies the Constitutional right and makes it a privilege.

Even background checks are an infringement upon the 2a, but I do agree that there needs to be a step in "the system" to keep firearms out of the hands of convicted felons.

But no felony convictions? The Constitution allows for no registration, licensing, safety certificates, etc...
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 7:34 PM
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I can't put my hands on it right now, but I read a friendly analysis of Scalia's writings in Heller and one of the points it made was how fortunate we will be (for the long term) that he did not call out the 'insurrectionist rationale' in the opinion affirming the individual right to KBA.

While it is something that we all believe deeply is a last and most important line of defense against tyranny, politically it has the ability to self-defeat other less emotive arguments for our cause.

It's why wearing guns to tea parties, while completely admirable, legal/lawful, and "in the right sprit" is still a bad idea in the political environment.

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Old 10-23-2009, 7:46 PM
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Even background checks are an infringement upon the 2a, but I do agree that there needs to be a step in "the system" to keep firearms out of the hands of convicted felons.
So it's not black and white, criminal background checks are ok? I do believe a right is something you lose and not something you earn. I guess my point is that maybe one loses their right before they exercise it when they are irresponsible or unable (mentally ill) to keep and bear arms, hence the training idea.
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Old 10-23-2009, 7:55 PM
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So it's not black and white, criminal background checks are ok? I do believe a right is something you lose and not something you earn. I guess my point is that maybe one loses their right before they exercise it when they are irresponsible or unable (mentally ill) to keep and bear arms, hence the training idea.
That's the problem.
Rights are given up, not earned, but there needs to be a way to determine who has their rights and who has given those rights up, in a way that does not infringe upon the rights of those who have them.

Licensing of any type is certainly an infringement. Background checks are the only way to determine who has the right and who does not, but the catch-22 is that the government is the repository of that information, therefore, the fox is guarding the hen house no matter what scenario is proposed.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 8:07 PM
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Background checks are interesting ground.

When you consider the idea of "civil death" - something earned that nullifies rights as a citizen, society has a vested interest in verifying that the person is still in good standing.

Then again, there's the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing - or "innocent at first glance".

For me, the only way to get around this would be to somehow ID felons with a marking on their identification. And honestly, I'm not terribly comfortable with that. Maybe I had too much Hawthorne in my youth.
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Old 10-23-2009, 8:12 PM
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If you see, as I do, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to preserve the independence of the militias, then the states should be able to regulate the militias in any way they see fit. They may say they’re going to keep all of the guns and people can get the guns from them. At Lexington and Concord the stores of weapons were in public places, in armories.
The attempted seizure of those at Lexington and Concord by General Gage's redcoats sparked the Revolutionary War.

This guy is like, totally brilliant and stuff.
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Old 10-23-2009, 8:22 PM
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For me, the only way to get around this would be to somehow ID felons with a marking on their identification. And honestly, I'm not terribly comfortable with that. Maybe I had too much Hawthorne in my youth.
I'm with you 1000%.
There's nothing to stop a felon from forging an ID card... they do it all the time.

So we're back to the problem of coming up with a way for the industry to self-regulate (which is the only way of keeping the government's nose out of it), in an environment where the government is the source of who is and who is not a felon.

Like I said, it's a catch-22. Keeping guns out of the hands of those who do not have the RKBA by necessity implies some level of trust in the government on the part of those who do have the RKBA that the government will not infringe upon that right.....


... something that the US and other governments have proven that they cannot be trusted with repeatedly over the last 200 years.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 8:24 PM
Larry Hennick Larry Hennick is offline
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Greetings to all, Just a quick update on my campaign for Sheriff of El Dorado County; I attended the El Dorado Gun Show sponsored by "The Buck Stop" where I had a booth to inform voters/gun owners about my stance and meet people. The dates were October 10,11 2009 Sat/Sun and was well attended and positive reviews were enjoyed, of the seven candidates only myself and John D'Agostini were present which says a lot about the remaining five.
So to all who attended thank you and to those whom I have since meet, thank you for your questions and expressed support.
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Old 10-23-2009, 9:10 PM
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Larry - since you're gonna jack my thread, tell us:

What do you think about background checks, the musings of Josh Horowitz and insurrectionist theory?

Honestly, I'm all for you promoting your campaign, but don't you think it would benefit from it's own thread?

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Old 10-23-2009, 9:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Cokebottle View Post
So we're back to the problem of coming up with a way for the industry to self-regulate (which is the only way of keeping the government's nose out of it), in an environment where the government is the source of who is and who is not a felon.
I don't think that self-regulation is appropriate here. I think it should be like voting. However they keep felons from voting should be applied to firearms sales. Do they run background checks on people who show up to vote? What prevents a felon from voting? If the legislators are comfortable with the safeguards on their means of their own employment then surely it is adequate for a gun sale.

On a more serious note one could choose a PIN code when getting their driver's license and a system could be put into place for all transactions requiring a background check, certain employment, certain public services and anything else. The person performing the background check inputs the ID number and the buyer types in his PIN and approves the "purpose" for the background check. The background check central computer gets a general request for a check and returns all "hits" for prohibited items, cannot work with children, cannot vote, cannot own a firearm etc. and a transaction ID. The retail terminal filters all items other than those related to the issue selected and prints a report saying "eligibility to own a handgun, no records found" or some such.

This way the system only knows a background check was requested and not why the background check was requested. The local terminal only reports the pertinent information and not other private information about the buyer. Tracking number is for manual auditing purposes only.

This is essentially a list of prohibited persons that can be checked without being firearms specific so, unlike today there isn't some direct correlation between people in the database and people who own guns.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:13 PM
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I don't think that self-regulation is appropriate here. I think it should be like voting. However they keep felons from voting should be applied to firearms sales. Do they run background checks on people who show up to vote?
Voters are pre-registered, and if the registrant is found to be ineligible, they do not receive a packet. If they show up at a polling place, they won't be on the list, and if they request a provisional ballot, again, a "background check" is run against the provisional.

So in this case, it's basically sending each polling place a list of the limited number of people eligible to vote at that polling place... no more than a few hundred per polling place. That's a lot more practical than sending a list of every convicted felon to every gun shop in the country
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On a more serious note one could choose a PIN code when getting their driver's license and a system could be put into place for all transactions requiring a background check, certain employment, certain public services and anything else. The person performing the background check inputs the ID number and the buyer types in his PIN and approves the "purpose" for the background check. The background check central computer gets a general request for a check and returns all "hits" for prohibited items, cannot work with children, cannot vote, cannot own a firearm etc. and a transaction ID. The retail terminal filters all items other than those related to the issue selected and prints a report saying "eligibility to own a handgun, no records found" or some such.
That is probably, overall, the least invasive system... though it would present problems for gun shows.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:17 PM
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That is probably, overall, the least invasive system... though it would present problems for gun shows.
Make the slip good for 10 days or even just 1 day. Then you can have one or two terminals at the show and buyers can pre-qualify and carry their slips around with them. Seller calls the 800 number and types in the transaction code and computer reads back the ID # associated with the transaction and once compared to the buyers ID you have a valid background check.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:27 PM
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Using the Second Amendment to Attack Democracy
A Q&A with Joshua Horwitz, author of ‘Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea’

By Lisa Kaiser
Wednesday, October 21,2009


Those armed protesters at anti-tax and health care reform rallies aren’t an anomaly, argues Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. They’re part of a fringe element of the gun rights movement that supports armed rebellion against what they see as tyrannical government control. But Horwitz, author of Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea, argues that this viewpoint is rooted in a flawed interpretation of the Second Amendment and the early years of this nation. Horwitz, who will speak at a Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort benefit on Oct. 22, spoke to the Shepherd about the insurrectionist idea and how it influences the current debate on gun control.


Shepherd: What is the insurrectionist idea?

Horwitz: It’s the notion that armed political violence is a legitimate part of our democratic process. Our thinking about that is clearly “no,” but it’s an idea that has gained a lot of traction among libertarian and other groups in the last couple of years. It’s the idea that you can show up armed at a health care rally and it’s a legitimate form of protest. “You can push us only so far or we will retaliate with violence.” That’s what the message is.

Of course, that is anathema to America’s most important idea, and that idea is equality. My vote is worth as much as your vote. Gun ownership does not have anything to do with your political clout. But that’s the crux of the insurrectionist idea.

Shepherd: But aren’t they just acting on their Second Amendment right to bear arms?

Horwitz: But it’s an infringement on my liberty. My liberty is that my vote carries the same weight as your vote. They cast everything in the notion of freedom, but it’s really detrimental to the rest of our freedoms. It’s a fundamental idea that we come to these forums as equal citizens and that you should respect my vote even if you don’t like it. That’s the law of the land. And to believe that you should challenge that with firearms is anathema to constitutionalism in general and our Constitution specifically.

Shepherd: But the United States was founded during a violent revolution and bearing arms protects citizens from a tyrannical government. Isn’t that patriotic?

Horwitz: Our country was founded in a violent revolution—which swept away a form of government. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. That’s why I call it the insurrectionist idea, which is the unlawful activity against the government.

But I think the most important lesson that people tend to forget is that the revolutionary government’s first documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, did not work as a governing principle. The Constitution was formed to correct the libertarian bias of the Declaration of Independence. So I think that while people were proud of their revolutionary service, they found that those documents were impossible [to use] to run a country. We came very close to losing the Revolutionary War because the federal government didn’t have enough power. After the Revolutionary War, most of the major cities had riots. Legislatures were basically nonfunctional. The federal government had 90 troops at their disposal—literally.

Shays’ Rebellion broke out in 1786 and a group of self-anointed militia members took over the local courts and basically [George] Washington and others said, “We’ve had enough. We need a strong central government.” So that’s what they did. It really beggars the imagination to say, “Well, we want a strong central government, but let’s ratify a Second Amendment that creates the same problem we just had.”

Shepherd: How does that translate into the current debate on gun control laws—say, mandating background checks on all gun purchases, including private sales at gun shows?

Horwitz: If you see, as I do, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to preserve the independence of the militias, then the states should be able to regulate the militias in any way they see fit. They may say they’re going to keep all of the guns and people can get the guns from them. At Lexington and Concord the stores of weapons were in public places, in armories. Or they could say they’d like you to keep the weapons. But, in the 1780s, they had a list of who had weapons and what type of weapons.

The only argument for not wanting to have a background check or having a record of sale on all gun sales is that they don’t want the government knowing [who owns a gun] because the government could take their guns away. To me, that is completely illegitimate. The state government has every right to know who has guns.

Shepherd: How did this sort of fringe interpretation of the Second Amendment become endorsed by mainstream politicians and Supreme Court justices?

Horwitz: That’s the scary part of this. The real battle on gun control or gun violence prevention is between those who are the insurrectionists and those who are not. Those who I label self-defenders or hunters—if you want to keep a gun in your home, or if you want to use a gun to hunt, what does it matter if you have to go through a background check to buy your gun? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s part of your service to your country to make sure that it doesn’t get into the hands of criminals.

But the vehement part [of the gun rights movement] says they don’t want that. They are not worried about having a gun for self-defense. They want a gun to take on the government. Yes, it is very scary. A lot of the major presidential candidates—Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul—very clearly said the Second Amendment is not about duck hunting, that it’s about the ability to take on a tyrannical government. Then you have the [D.C. v.Heller] case, where you have [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia, all over his footnotes, saying that this right is based on the historic ability to take on the government, and more importantly makes the case that an independent citizens militia is an important part of this right.

Think about that. The rebels in Shays’ Rebellion were an independent militia. Our founders came together and drafted a new Constitution exactly because they did not want independent militias. Now we have a Supreme Court decision saying that’s a historic part of this. It’s very disturbing and scary.
Horowitz is an incredible idiot. I think the American revolution spells out how the framers felt about armed rebellion against a tyrannical government. But I guess that's trivial information.
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Old 10-25-2009, 3:20 PM
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Shepherd: What is the insurrectionist idea?

Horwitz: It’s the notion that armed political violence is a legitimate part of our democratic process. Our thinking about that is clearly “no,” but it’s an idea that has gained a lot of traction among libertarian and other groups in the last couple of years. It’s the idea that you can show up armed at a health care rally and it’s a legitimate form of protest. “You can push us only so far or we will retaliate with violence.” That’s what the message is.

Of course, that is anathema to America’s most important idea, and that idea is equality. My vote is worth as much as your vote. Gun ownership does not have anything to do with your political clout. But that’s the crux of the insurrectionist idea.
I don’t think he really has an understanding of the political philosophies of American rightists, who predominantly make up those who protest or demonstrate in the manner he is referring to. Force of arms is seen as the final check in a system of checks and balances when all other checks have failed or are about to, i.e. their failure is inevitable. Of course, the very notion of a system of checks and balances is antithetical to a belief in a democratic system, which deliberately removes checks and balances so that the will of the people, supposed or real, can have preeminence, whether this is done directly, indirectly, or through a mix of both. While in a way it is a warning about being “pushed too far,” the line is drawn for most quite a ways from where Horwitz is drawing it. In these protests it is often symbolic of a different issue (a sort of dual protest, generally related to gun control laws and policies); in other case it is people exercising what they have a right to do, something they may do in situations other than these functions. It is not, though, saying if you don’t get your way the result will be retaliation with violence through the means borne upon these persons. Of course, it helps his cause to try to portray gun owners who do this (or gun owners in general) so negatively.

Then you have Horwitz’s second paragraph. He puts the idea of equality forward as America’s most important idea. He has it all backwards. Equality, despite the ground it has gained in the 20th Century, is not the most important idea of America. Liberty is. And liberty as we all should know, but many apparently do not, is in fact anathema to equality. The two are mutually incompatible concepts. To quote Goethe, “Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks.” Of course, I really doubt Horwitz is a true proponent of any sort of real liberty, and it seems obvious just from his initial language that he is a leftist, leftism being the enemy of freedom.

Horwitz extols the equality of suffrage that is the norm in America today, but of course equality in suffrage is a very flawed concept. A person on welfare who is ignorant of the world and easily swayed by bribery and who also owns nothing of substance and has no job is not the equal of a man who is financially successful, owns landed property, and is completely independent, while also being well-learned and intellectual; the value of their votes should be reflective of this obvious inequality. His vote is only worth as much as someone else’s vote by force of law, not by the facts of the matter. In this issue, though, I digress.

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Shepherd: But aren’t they just acting on their Second Amendment right to bear arms?

Horwitz: But it’s an infringement on my liberty. My liberty is that my vote carries the same weight as your vote. They cast everything in the notion of freedom, but it’s really detrimental to the rest of our freedoms. It’s a fundamental idea that we come to these forums as equal citizens and that you should respect my vote even if you don’t like it. That’s the law of the land. And to believe that you should challenge that with firearms is anathema to constitutionalism in general and our Constitution specifically.
He has a very skewed idea of liberty (which IMO reinforces the fact that he is not interested in true liberty at all; equality, it would seem, is his liberty, as odd as that might sound). Someone exercising their rights is not an infringement upon his rights. Of course, voting and participation in the political process is not synonymous with liberty, not in the least; democracy is not the same as freedom. To quote von Kuehnelt-Leddhin: “Fifty-one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities, and still remain democratic.” History is replete with such examples (his lack of historical knowledge will be another point). He never proves the case that bearing arms during a political protest or demonstration is an infringement upon his freedom, whether we mean freedom in a real sense, or freedom in his skewed sense. By bearing arms, no one is bringing harm to him or forcing him to do anything. It is also not in opposition to constitutionalism; quite the opposite in fact. Meanwhile, Horwitz’s apparent ideology is in opposition to genuine constitutionalism, whether he can see it or not. But I think it is something else that ultimately bothers Horwitz and others like him, something I will soon get to.

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Shepherd: But the United States was founded during a violent revolution and bearing arms protects citizens from a tyrannical government. Isn’t that patriotic?

Horwitz: Our country was founded in a violent revolution—which swept away a form of government. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. That’s why I call it the insurrectionist idea, which is the unlawful activity against the government.

But I think the most important lesson that people tend to forget is that the revolutionary government’s first documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, did not work as a governing principle. The Constitution was formed to correct the libertarian bias of the Declaration of Independence. So I think that while people were proud of their revolutionary service, they found that those documents were impossible [to use] to run a country. We came very close to losing the Revolutionary War because the federal government didn’t have enough power. After the Revolutionary War, most of the major cities had riots. Legislatures were basically nonfunctional. The federal government had 90 troops at their disposal—literally.

Shays’ Rebellion broke out in 1786 and a group of self-anointed militia members took over the local courts and basically [George] Washington and others said, “We’ve had enough. We need a strong central government.” So that’s what they did. It really beggars the imagination to say, “Well, we want a strong central government, but let’s ratify a Second Amendment that creates the same problem we just had.”
The Articles of Confederation did not function well when it came to national governance, but this does not refute in any way what is in the Declaration of Independence, much of which still formed a basis for our Constitution, philosophically speaking (excluding some of the more egalitarian contributions made by Jefferson). It also does not make any sort of case for a powerful central government or big government, and the constitution is quite reflective of this. Of course, his statement here has nothing to do with the validity of the use of force of arms to resolve a political problem that cannot be resolved through peaceful processes and is a legitimate object of such attention. It also has no bearing on the War of Independence or anything else for that matter. Not only is he lacking in historical knowledge, but he fails to actually connect the dots within his own argument.

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Shepherd: How does that translate into the current debate on gun control laws—say, mandating background checks on all gun purchases, including private sales at gun shows?

Horwitz: If you see, as I do, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to preserve the independence of the militias, then the states should be able to regulate the militias in any way they see fit. They may say they’re going to keep all of the guns and people can get the guns from them. At Lexington and Concord the stores of weapons were in public places, in armories. Or they could say they’d like you to keep the weapons. But, in the 1780s, they had a list of who had weapons and what type of weapons.

The only argument for not wanting to have a background check or having a record of sale on all gun sales is that they don’t want the government knowing [who owns a gun] because the government could take their guns away. To me, that is completely illegitimate. The state government has every right to know who has guns.
He must have trouble both with reading laws and with history, since nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the right to keep and bear arms really means the guarantee of the independence of State militias. The independence in most areas and during most times is spelled out elsewhere in the Constitution (Section 8, Article I), not in the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment, read independently and in context, clearly is about something else. It is related to the efficacy of a militia force, but this is just an intended effect, and not the sole or primary goal or reason.

Conclusion in my second post...

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Old 10-25-2009, 3:21 PM
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And for my conclusion...

Horwitz makes it clear that he does not believe in checks and balances, which ultimately, must have a hard means of enforcement. I think he may actually understand but not want such checks. Statism and collectivism both depend upon the absence or undermining of checks and balances (which is why democracy, which Horwitz extols, is so conducive to such ends). He seems frightened by checks and balances. I think this is rooted in a deeper fear, which results in envy, the sort of envy which drives a man’s actions. To explain this I think it is best to once again quote von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who explains it quite well:

Quote:
Originally Posted by von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
There is a dull, animalistic leaning towards social conformity (identity) as well as a programmatic, fanatical drive in that direction…Its driving motor is fear, formed by an inferiority complex and engendered hatred, with envy as its blood brother. This fear stems from feeling inferior to another person (or to a situation); hatred is possible only through feeling helpless before a more powerful person…The demand for equality and identity arises precisely in order to avoid that fear, that feeling of inferiority. Nobody is better, nobody is superior, nobody feels challenged, everybody is ‘"safe." …Identity’s other factor is envy. Envy has several complex psychological roots. There is, first of all, the curious feeling that whatever one person possesses has in some way been taken away from another…The second aspect of envy lies in the superiority of another person in a different respect. A burning envy can be created by the mere suspicion that the other person feels superior on account of looks, brains, brawn, money, or whatever…
Horwitz, as I see it, feels like he has less power because we are armed and he is not. In some situations, it makes us superior. This is why he laments the perceived inequality resulting from this in the political realm. Ultimately he fears it. He wants us disarmed or restricted and to not exercise our rights precisely because he fears that feeling of helplessness, regardless of whether it is real or perceived (because, as Mao said, power does indeed come from the barrel of a gun). To justify this to others without trying to reveal these deep-seated fears, he has to make an argument that is an exercise in illogic, to invent justifications, despite their often nonsensical or contradictory nature. In short, he wants to feel “safe,” both in reality and in the political realm. This is why, IMO, he is so passionate about the gun issue. But it ultimately makes it easy to tear his argument apart and reveal it for what it is: advocacy of infringement upon our rights and upon liberty as a whole to eliminate his feelings of insecurity; because the flaws in this are immense, his argument is terrible as a result and is easily refuted.

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Old 10-25-2009, 5:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bigstick61 View Post
And for my conclusion...

Horwitz, as I see it, feels like he has less power because we are armed and he is not. In some situations, it makes us superior. This is why he laments the perceived inequality resulting from this in the political realm. Ultimately he fears it. He wants us disarmed or restricted and to not exercise our rights precisely because he fears that feeling of helplessness, regardless of whether it is real or perceived (because, as Mao said, power does indeed come from the barrel of a gun). To justify this to others without trying to reveal these deep-seated fears, he has to make an argument that is an exercise in illogic, to invent justifications, despite their often nonsensical or contradictory nature. In short, he wants to feel “safe,” both in reality and in the political realm. This is why, IMO, he is so passionate about the gun issue. But it ultimately makes it easy to tear his argument apart and reveal it for what it is: advocacy of infringement upon our rights and upon liberty as a whole to eliminate his feelings of insecurity; because the flaws in this are immense, his argument is terrible as a result and is easily refuted.
I have a problem with this portion of your analysis: Our most passionate opponents have more than adequate resources to build armories that would be the envy of most gunnies.

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Old 10-25-2009, 5:33 PM
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Bravo, bigstick61!
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Old 10-25-2009, 5:47 PM
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wow, that was very interesting. He makes some good historical references, but his problem is he interprets them wrong. GW and Co didn't draft the constitution simply because of a rebellion, and the rebellion wasn't just because of guns. The articles of confederation were too one sided and monarchical (that's a word right?) the constitution layed out a system of checks and balances to ensure that one system didn't overstep their boundries (at least they thought so until being a politicain became a carreer not a duty). This is a great example of a dumb, smart person. He makes some very valid points: ie, why would someone want to make a threat of violence at a health care rally? but i think he also missinterprets their actions. I see it more along the lines of "look, i'm going to exercise my constitutional rights and you can't stop me". And yes, the courts have ruled that it is the right of the individual ("the people"), not the state ("people" as a whole), to own guns. I think it's high time we stop bickering about the issue and start educating the opposition. put a gun in their hands since most of them have probably never held one, and start demanding that they take the criminals rights away, not ours, and then SHOW OUR SUPPORT FOR BILLS THAT DO SO!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-25-2009, 7:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bigstick61
And for my conclusion...

Horwitz, as I see it, feels like he has less power because we are armed and he is not. In some situations, it makes us superior. This is why he laments the perceived inequality resulting from this in the political realm. Ultimately he fears it. He wants us disarmed or restricted and to not exercise our rights precisely because he fears that feeling of helplessness, regardless of whether it is real or perceived (because, as Mao said, power does indeed come from the barrel of a gun). To justify this to others without trying to reveal these deep-seated fears, he has to make an argument that is an exercise in illogic, to invent justifications, despite their often nonsensical or contradictory nature. In short, he wants to feel “safe,” both in reality and in the political realm. This is why, IMO, he is so passionate about the gun issue. But it ultimately makes it easy to tear his argument apart and reveal it for what it is: advocacy of infringement upon our rights and upon liberty as a whole to eliminate his feelings of insecurity; because the flaws in this are immense, his argument is terrible as a result and is easily refuted.
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Originally Posted by socal2310 View Post
I have a problem with this portion of your analysis: Our most passionate opponents have more than adequate resources to build armories that would be the envy of most gunnies.

Ryan
Resources is one thing. The actual will to do so is another. For one reason or another they cannot bring themselves to do it (the reasons are probably in large part psychological in nature); therefore, since they cannot do it and thus are unarmed, they still look upon us with envy, fear, and perhaps even hatred (the second KL quote, in a place where I put an ellipsis instead, actually explains that part), as their insecurities remain, despite the fact that the remedy may be as simple as just buying their own guns. They are apparently blinded to this; either that or there is something more to why they won't do it (which would be the case if it is psychological in nature).
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Old 10-25-2009, 7:38 PM
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SkatinJJ SkatinJJ is offline
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Horwitz' innate affinity for Maoist dogma, (unsaid in this interview) that "political power comes from the barrel of a gun" is embodied in his assertion that a gunny is more equal now that he is armed, and Horwitz and others are less equal now that they are not armed.

His, and other anti-gun types', hoplophobia is their projection of their worst fear; their feeling of helplessness in the face of weapons that are not even deployed. They project that an armed citizen at a rally is intimidating the others there; that any possession of guns by simple citizens is a horrifying potential of the Maoist mass murder.

He is a tool, as many have been, for those who have sought to overthrow this nation's ideals of independence for the country and for individuals embodied by personal liberties. They attack those liberties and that independence, through the argument of equality.

Consider his argument with the condition of your enslavement by those like him, so that someone who feels like destroying our liberties doesn't have to fear when they walk into the night.
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Old 10-25-2009, 7:52 PM
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wow, that was very interesting. He makes some good historical references, but his problem is he interprets them wrong. GW and Co didn't draft the constitution simply because of a rebellion, and the rebellion wasn't just because of guns.
He actually makes very poor historical references, since they do not support his argument at all; anyone with the slightest knowledge of that historical subject could reveal that. He might as well have not even made them. Of course, the interviewer either won't call him out or does not have the knowledge to do so. And to say the rebellion wasn't just about guns is quite the understatement. As for him, I'm not sure of he just really doesn't understand, know, or get it, or if he's being disingenuous. It is kind of hard to tell.

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The articles of confederation were too one sided and monarchical (that's a word right?) the constitution layed out a system of checks and balances to ensure that one system didn't overstep their boundries (at least they thought so until being a politicain became a carreer not a duty).
That wasn't it, actually. The Articles were anything but monarchical. They actually called for considerable decentralization; the U.S. was just a Union by just a thread. There weren't really checks and balances because the Federal government had virtually nothing to do and had no way to enforce anything it did. It was pretty much entirely up to the individual States. The Constitution layed out a system of checks and balances (which were combined with ones that existed within the respective States at the time) because the power had been increased to the point where such was necessary to still maintain limited government.

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This is a great example of a dumb, smart person. He makes some very valid points: ie, why would someone want to make a threat of violence at a health care rally? but i think he also missinterprets their actions. I see it more along the lines of "look, i'm going to exercise my constitutional rights and you can't stop me". And yes, the courts have ruled that it is the right of the individual ("the people"), not the state ("people" as a whole), to own guns. I think it's high time we stop bickering about the issue and start educating the opposition. put a gun in their hands since most of them have probably never held one, and start demanding that they take the criminals rights away, not ours, and then SHOW OUR SUPPORT FOR BILLS THAT DO SO!!!!!!!!!!
I think this guy is of the sort where you could try to put a gun in his hands all day long but he will refuse or resist. I actually think, besides what I wrote in my response to him, that he may be a hoplophobe, a severe one at that. Usually these guys are and it would fit in with what can be observed about him. Unfortunately not all of the opposition can approach this rationally, or with an open mind, or even be able to mentally handle the concept of being armed. But there are those who can be introduced to shooting and can gain and understanding of it and an affinity for it (and they probably don't do the interviews like Horwitz or write such books and papers), and we certainly should make every attempt to convert them. The shrill cries of Horwitz and his ilk, if they fall on deaf or critical ears, become meaningless.
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Old 10-25-2009, 7:54 PM
Sutcliffe Sutcliffe is offline
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Default Let's him try this on for size.

If the only people carrying guns are law enforcement agents wouldn't that squash political freedom by intimidating the citizenry?
The guy is a tool and that whole, the second ammendment is really about the state militia is a bunch of socialist garbage.
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