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    A Word About Guns

    When I first heard reports of the armed man outside of Obama's townhall in Portsmouth, NH, I had a feeling that we would see an escalation of this behavior.  Today there were estimated to be a dozen armed outside of his appearance in Arizona.

    It's a tricky situation.  Technically, these people are acting within their rights.  Realistically, they're bringing loaded weapons to incredibly tense gatherings.  As the tension and the number of weapons increases, so does the chance that something unwarranted occurs.

    Of course, I'm not so blind as not to realize that the scope of possible action here is limited.  I know that the Secret Service is watching the people like hawks, waiting for the slightest indication that they intend to act outside of their self-determined role in their justifiable-if-hamhanded display of their rights.  I also know that any crackdown on these individuals that isn't 100% warranted on the basis of illegal behavior will be met by the right with charges of tyranny.

    To be sure, there are those who would like nothing better than to turn the focus of the nation away from the very serious issue of creating a functional healthcare system in America and toward a Democratic administration unjustifiably robbing people of their Second Amendment rights.  After all, the "Obama will take your guns away" meme was alive and well before he even won the election.  I know this because I bought a gun last summer while wearing an Obama t-shirt.

    I didn't even think about it before I went into the store, but you should have seen the looks.  And heard the questions.

    "Aren't you afraid that Obama is going to take your guns away?"

    "No, I'm not."

    This was followed by an intense look of confusion.  Surely, I had heard all of the things they had heard on the radio about Obama taking everyone's guns away upon being sworn into office.  I just responded that it isn't part of his platform, that he's a reasonable man and that I didn't think that reasonable gun owners have anything to fear from him, but I stopped there because by this time I was getting looks that had begun to make me feel as if I had left the house in a tutu.

    The point is that this fear is alive and well among some gun owners and that it makes perfect sense to respond to these protesters with great care.  Many are on a hair-trigger, pun intended, when it comes to vigiliance of their right to own a gun.  Not to mention all of the politicians and pundits that would absolutely love it if they could further corrupt the healthcare debate by turning it into a debate over the Second Amendment.

    This is a match that Obama and those charged with his protection can't afford to strike.  They really have to play this close to the chest and 100% by the book.  It's really the psychology of a dare.  These armed protesters are out there, flying their colors high for all to see, daring someone to make them stop because that will be the moment when they, fully vindicated, can begin to shout "TYRANNY!" at the top of their lungs.  That's the fish they're trying to land with this behavior.

    Fortunately, Obama and the Secret Service are smarter than this.  For now, they just have to watch these people closely and hope that everyone remains calm.  However, there is a barb upon this spear.  As we are seeing, these armed protesters are beginning to multiply.  There are limits to how many armed, vitriolic people you can put in one place at one time without someone escalating the situation.



    I wish that the Democrats would see the healthcare debate in the same context as the "psychology of a dare." Because that's exactly what it is. The Republicans are daring the Democrats to call their bluff on pretty much everything. Democrats haven't done it, so Republicans just keep escalating--to see how much they can get away with watering down the bill. But back to the topic of the post, I just got back from a vacation in northern Michigan. It was wonderful to be away from the news and the computer for several days. Not so wonderful when I got back, but I digress. While there, I was sitting around a campfire one night, with some old friends and some new friends. It was a great night, lots of laughing and joking. Then, the new friends started talking about how you'd better buy a gun quick before Obama takes away your right to do so. It got very quiet until someone who realized the crowd was politically mixed diplomatically changed the subject.

    Yeah, the sentiment is more or less a foregone conclusion with the NRA set.  Recent gun sales figures seem to indicate that people do take the prospect seriously.

    I see the GOP/Dem dynamic a bit differently.  To me, it seems like the GOP calls the Dems on everything.  The GOP method of getting stuff done is this: Do it and then tell people what you're doing.  They realize that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.  So, by the time they tell you that they want to go to war there are 100,000 troops on their way to Iraq.

    The Dems, on the other hand, announce beforehand that they want some reforms, but they want to know how everyone feels about that and get everyone's input first, aka "bipartisanship".  We're seeing how well that works out.  This is what you get when it's more important to chase vague ideals of everyone "just gettin' along" instead of sticking to your principles and getting the job done.

    It's why I posed the question of whether or not the Dems even really believe in the type of reform they're talking about in a comment on Deadman's recent post.  If you really believe that healthcare reform is not only necessary, but will demonstrably improve people's lives, then you do it.  Get it done.  Make sure it's the right bill and that it will actually change the game in a meaningful way, but don't worry about trying to put on a facade of cooperation with people who want to do anything but cooperate with you and make no secret of it.

    Pass the bill using whatever tactics are necessary, bank on the fact that people will thank you for it later and take comfort in the historical record, which shows that it would be nearly impossible to undo.

    This is a topic that I've begun researching for a new book. Conservative fearmongering has replaced terrorism with "fascist" liberal government. The number of books and paranoid talk show tantrums is staggering. Glenn Beck actually wept on television at the thought of a eugenics program killing his daughter with cerebral palsy. Nothing would fit right wing mythology better than a gun control bill. Sadly, I agree that this is not a fight worth taking on right now. With the number of pro-gun Blue Dogs in the Legislature, it's unlikely that it would be successful anyway.

    Just as caveat, I don't think that we need gun control to stop right wing terrorsts. Legally concealed weapons are unlikely assassination devices. The real problems with guns in this country is still gang violence.

    I agree, this isn't a gun control issue.  FWIW, I think that the state of gun laws in America is pretty damned reasonable, but I'm pretty moderate on this issue.  I believe that people ought to be able to own and use guns, but that there ought to be sensible regulations and that those regulations may be tighter in areas that are more densely populated.  I know plenty of people who own guns, some of them NRA members, but many of them not.  Most of them don't have any major objections to sensible gun regulations.  I get the sense that the Dems have come around a bit on this issue since the Clinton years.

    Along those lines, I believe that you're right to observe that this isn't a reason to propose legislation that would somehow ban the displays we've seen recently.  Not only would it be a political quagmire, but it's unlikely to quell any real threat to the President.

    Why does anyone need to carry a weapon on a city street? there is a related post at http://iamsoannoyed.com/?page_id=588

    I think the reason they appeared with "open-carry" of their weapons, was to protest having to openly carry them; they may wish to carry concealed but their state government does not trust their citizens with a blind faith or trust; although the police and Secret Service are given carte blanch there although none can guarantee your safety except yourself (why self defense is always logical).

    Before people threaten the citizenry with tearing away rights; the Second Ammendment is not a lone right, it is a part of the Bill of Rights; if it goes, you can bet your last breath that the others most definately will go as well as the Constitution, the Constitution is the blueprint for the government, and the first ammendments were to remind government of what rights the citizens already have and are guaranteed, some call them natural rights, common sense may be closer in a democracy, they are not something that can be taken away if they are rights, (rights you have just as true as air is free to breath), what you can take away are priveleges and at last check they were not called the Bill of Priveleges. Each of the ammendments, the original Bill of Rights, address the Rights of the People.

    This is why this arguement will never go away until the founding documents are null and void, and our natural rights are as well.

    When this happens to the White Man (U.S. citizens), you will know our strife and our grief at loosing our nations. If they could do it to us, they will eventually do it to you...

    You can project what you want onto these people, but several of them have been given a national platform to explain exactly what they were protesting and why.  I didn't hear any of them say they were protesting the concealed carry laws in their respective states.  Or, if they were, why they were doing it at a townhall meeting about healthcare.

    Did you know that despite the instinct for self-preservation seeming highly logical to you, that you can't even guarantee your own safety?  It's tough to accept, I know, but it's true.  Many have perished on the basis of this subtle point.

    FWIW, no one is talking about doing away with the Second Amendment.  It's been at number two on the charts for over 200 years.  I don't know how many times platinum that is, but it's probably more popular than Michael Jackson.

    As for you and your fellow White Men loosing [sic] your nation(s?), go tell it to the Cherokee Nation, brother.

    Thank you for recognizing our loss. The Trail of Tears.

    You're... welcome?

    DF says, "No one is talking about doing away with the Second Amendment." I've got no dog in this hunt, as James Carville might say, nor any vote. But I think the way the NRA has made that one provision of the Bill of Rights sacrosanct is pernicious. If free-speech zones can be set up to spare convention delegates the annoyance of hearing dissenting voices, surely free-fire zones can be set up beyond the range of any high-powered weapon whenever a president, vice-president or congressperson appears in public.

    Mr. Chenoweth suggests that inclusion of the right to bear arms in the Bill of Roghts means it is a "natural right." That's nonsense. Plenty of other countries went through revolutions and civil wars -- Britain, France, Russia. All of them rejected the idea of an armed citizenry. The only other country I know of that enshrined the right of citizens to own guns was Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

    The Second Amendment grew out of the particular circumstances of 1789: fear that the Brits could re-establish control by electoral means, or that a central government could sideline the sovereignty of the states, which would be almost as bad. Hence, the requirement a president be "natural-born."

    In fact, the amendment's rationale of the need for a well-regulated militia was code for something that does not appear in the Bill of Rights: an outright ban on a standing army. Similarly, the ban on quartering soldiers in homes without the owners' permission -- something British commanders were vilified for. The founding fathers were arguing they wouldn't behave like the Brits had, but without committing to a militia-only defense force.

    Anyway, the arms the amendment guaranteed you could bear were muzzle-loading rifles. Shoot, then take a couple of minutes to reload. Not at all like an AR-47, or like a multi-clip handgun.

    Any sensible country would long ago have repealed the Second Amendment. Not in order to confiscate everyone's sidearms -- just to let states and municipalities enact reasonable restrictions on gun ownership without the NRA citing the constitution. It works here. I know plenty of people who own guns -- mostly hunting rifles -- and all of them are duly licensed, registered, and safely locked up when not in use.

    A final word on those townhall crazies: The reports are all "he's carrying legally, but he's under constant surveillance," That works when there are one, two, a dozen armed protesters. But there are thousands of legal gun-owners in every state. What happens when, say, 1,000 show up at a presidential event? The Secret Service will be overwhelmed; the local police force as well. Trying to track each individual gun-toter will leave gaps a would-be assassin could stroll through. At what point does the Secret Service decide it cannot protect the president?

    We've got a system in which anyone who really wants or needs a gun can get one (no AR-47s, however). But if they take them to a political rally, they get arrested, tried and then we take their guns away. We're all cool with that.

    Any sensible country? Hi. Have you met us?

    For those who missed last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it's very apropos of this discussion.

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