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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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107 Responses

  1. Julian Morrison
    Julian Morrison March 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    “those gun deaths are inflicted by handguns”

    So, throw the gun in jail.

    Oh wait, was there a gun-wielding murderer just out of frame, who you weren’t mentioning? Perhaps the human who made the decision to commit the crime ought to be held responsible?

  2. Flowers
    Flowers March 8, 2010 at 4:46 pm |

    For once, I actually agree with Saletan. However, the black power movement has its roots in the gun movement — the Black Panthers started as an anti-gun control organization because they believed it was the only way that poor blacks could defend themselves when the white cops refused to patrol their neighborhoods. The Black Panthers today maintain this symbol of their roots by always carrying guns. (Also, guns are a pretty good way to scare off Klan members.)

  3. Marlene
    Marlene March 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm |

    Let’s also not forget that very few of the guns involved in homicides are obtained through legal channels. Enforcement of existing gun regulations would do more to solve the problem of illegal gun traffic than new laws. The problem is homicide, regardless of the circumstances.

    I resent the statement that “gun fanatics” have “pretty solid Klan roots”. I don’t know where this prejudicial bullshit comes from, but as a trans woman who can never rely on protection by the police and who has politics slightly left of left, I am a “gun fanatic” who has nothing to do with the fucking Klan!

    The point to emphasize about these morons is that they are “pro-life” and support the death penalty. In the future, maybe you can keep your classist and regionalist comments about gun owners to yourself.

    As far as the epidemic of gun violence is concerned, equating guns to violence is like equating forks to food. Guns are used because they are the current technology. Stabbings have been less and less frequent throughout the 20th century.

  4. Leah
    Leah March 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm |

    When are we going to be allowed to step outside the party line on issues?

    I’m pro-choice, pro-gun, pro-capital punishment, pro-racial tolerance, and feminist.

    But these straitjacketed stereotypes completely ignore independent thought on The Big Issues. Either we buy the whole party line, or we’re out of the club.

  5. Kathleen F.
    Kathleen F. March 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm |

    When the pro-life arguments are so ridiculously awful that even Saletan can’t find anything “noble” or “sincere” about them, you know it’s bad.

  6. Flowers
    Flowers March 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm |

    Kathleen, I totally agree.

  7. becky
    becky March 8, 2010 at 5:33 pm |

    oh dear… i’m from europe, so i guess i’m not equipped to understand the “regional” differences about the righteousness of owning things designed to kill either… but i’m afraid i still disagree.

    first of all: the “argument”, that guns don’t kill people, but people do (which is a nra slogan, isn’t it?) is quite disturbing, since weapons have the sole purpose to kill – animals or humans. yes, a human being has to pull the trigger – but that’s what it’s there for. so controlling gun ownership would at least take the risk away that apparently every person can obtain and use a gun as s/he sees fit. guns support murders, in case that wasn’t noticed. and no, that does not put the responsiblity for murder on the gun, but it sure as hell is an essential tool for it.

    i agree that one cannot ignore the historical roots and present dangers, e.g. violence against african americans or mostly every other person deemd a “minority”, underlying the right or necessity for self-defense, if one cannot feel protected by formal authorities. however, given the statistics presented, gun ownership hurts many communities and neighbourhoods more than it actually protects them against e.g. racist violence. but obviously, repeated shooting at each other does not solve the problems of discrimination and fear, but perpetuates it. and i think it’s an interesting fact that such a high percentage of african americans is actually for stricter gun control that one shouldn’t ignore.

  8. La BellaDonna
    La BellaDonna March 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm |

    Leah, you are not alone. And it IS frustrating.

  9. La BellaDonna
    La BellaDonna March 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm |

    Leah, you are not alone. And it IS frustrating. I resent being lumped in with the Klan – speaking of stereotyping people!

  10. becky
    becky March 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm |

    well… it’s not so much about party-line, but about consistency and logical consequences. and, in my straightjacket, racial “tolerance” (intersting choice of words here, by the way) does, for example, not go together with the death penalty, if only for the racial bias in sentencing people of color. personally, i would appreciate it if people stopped masking white-privileged as independent thinking.

  11. Joshua
    Joshua March 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm |

    You say that “gun fanatics have pretty strong Klan roots,” but in fact, gun control has historically been more about keeping minorities in their place (unarmed and vulnerable) than anything else. The Klan was in favor of gun control–for other people, that is.

    You’re doing the vast majority of gun owners a disservice by associating us with the Klan.

  12. KMTBerry
    KMTBerry March 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm |

    You know, when speculative arguments like this start, I think we Exceptionalist AMERICANS might do well to take a gander at what policies exist in other countries, and ask “how well are they working out?” What does a country with tight gun control look like? What does a country with adequate Sex Education look like? What does a country that defines Health Care as a RIGHT look like?

    We don’t have to trust to our imaginations! We can SEE how policy works!!

    (For those who don’t know: Countries with tight gun control laws have a TINY FRACTION of the number of murders we have in the US. Countries with adequate sex ed have a MERE FRACTION of the number of abortions, as well as way better maternal and infant health. (WAY, WAY BETTER.) Countries that have universal access to health care have STRONGER ECONOMIES. FWIW, countries that have generous parent leave and childcare have less crime, less insanity, happier citizens and, for you capitalists, GREATER PRODUCTIVITY.)

  13. Aydan
    Aydan March 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm |

    What is a gun fanatic for the purposes of this article, then? I’m curious. The Saletan article seems to imply a link between the Klan and anyone who opposes gun control which, yes, is quite offensive.

    I’m a little disappointed to see a feminist website advocating gun control– I realize the two often go hand in hand, but as a petite woman, I can’t easily think of another way to overcome the force differential between me and a large, violent, entitled-feeling criminal, besides a handgun.

  14. Ben
    Ben March 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm |

    The Saletan article is pretty lame, Jill. It’s the Chewbacca Defense. It does not defend the right to choose very well.

  15. That Girl
    That Girl March 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm |

    Ben, This site doesn’t like ableist language at all. See, any other thread at all.

  16. AK
    AK March 8, 2010 at 11:08 pm |

    I’m a gun owner. In fact, I own several–two handguns, several rifles, and a shotgun. The reason I own so many is that target shooting is a hobby of mine and my husband’s, hunting is a hobby of his and one of food sources, and we also live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere so need a gun for killing the occasional aggressive coyote or feral dog (which is rare, but does happen–we try to “live and let live” with predators but if they’re too aggressive we need to protect ourselves and our animals) and for emergency euthanasia of livestock if there is a catastrophic injury (again, very rare but if my horse breaks his leg I’m not going to make him suffer for 4 hours while we wait for the vet). Incidentally, I’m also a religious pacifist, anti-death penalty, pro-choice, and I think assisted suicide (voluntary euthanasia?) in terminal cases should be legal as well. Not sure where I fit in… ;)

    In spite of this, I agree that “gun fanatics” are often racist. I’ve had dealings with militia members and and strong “no gun control at all” activists, and none of them have seemed to have problems throwing around racial slurs or pointing out that “we” (being whites) are different from “those people.” Hell, I’ve been called a race traitor by a locally prominent anti-gun-control and pro-life activist, because my husband is Navajo. I try to avoid those people nowadays.

    Personally, I don’t think we can model US gun laws on European countries, because there are so many out there, even if we outlawed them there would still be way too many in illegal circulation. However, I do support reasonable gun control. I don’t mind a background check and I support a wait period before buying one (actually, I wish it would extend to rifles as well). I have some problems with mandatory registration, but that’s because I’m a bit paranoid and it’s not that big of a deal to me. I also believe some weapons should be off-limits to civilians, because there is no reasonable need or use for them. A detailed description of my beliefs would be too long for this thread, though.

    I do think the combination of racism, anti-gun control and pro-life beliefs that often go together are pretty interesting, especially in light of the recent race-based anti-abortion campaigns.

  17. Haley K
    Haley K March 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm |

    KMTBerry- I completely agree with you on the idea of looking to other nations for examples of sexual education, health care, etc. I cannot agree however that tighter restrictions on guns, which have led to reduced gun violence in other countries, would work here. We have a HUGE gun culture, and there are already millions of guns in this country. Take away the right to buy new ones, and they’ll just buy illegally or use ones that are already owned.

    As a woman living on an urban campus who is 100 pounds and very weak, I’m thinking about buying at least a taser when I move off campus.

  18. Chally
    Chally March 8, 2010 at 11:25 pm |

    Ben, what That Girl said.

  19. Azalea
    Azalea March 8, 2010 at 11:27 pm |

    I really hate to rain on the parade but the fact of the matter is; in places where gun control is strictest, you have the most black on black gun violence.

    I live in the DC area and if necessary will provide the data to back up what I’m saying but a HUGE amount of the people who are killed by guns are law abiding citizens who had nothing to protect themselves with. Many a youth with a gun feel so empowered by the knowledge that he has a weapon most others don’t have. It’s like having a nuke or atom bomb and your neighboring countries not even being allowed to build either- you feel invincible. What could they do if you used your weapon when they have NOTHING like it to retaliate with? What fear do you have in threatening them? In abusing them? In hurting them? In murdering them? The second amendment barely exists in Washington, D.C yet the city is shamed with some of the highest rates of black on black gun violence in this entire country! Does that get lost in politics?

    Poverty, gangs, drug using and selling, the revolving door that is “D.C. Jail” which allows dangerous criminals back on the street in record time only to kill, hurt or commit more felonious crimes is a MUCH larger factor in deaths amongst those in the black community than some of the most restrictive gun laws in this entire nation (speaking as someone in the US).

  20. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 12:21 am |

    Jill wrote: “Hey, all “gun fanatics” =/ “gun owners.” Come on now.”

    Jill, I hope I’m not out of line, and I apologize if so, but if you said something about my race and I expressed offense, would you respond by saying, “But I wasn’t talking about YOU.” Check one on the bingo card, right?

    I’m a “gun fanatic,” and given the negative attitude of many people towards firearms, so are lots of the people I know. In as much as I can speak for “us,” we simply consider ourselves to be “gun owners,” but we are constantly portrayed by the media as anarchic, secessionist, survivalist, immature, compensating-for-our-small-penii, and yes, fanatics. So when someone says, “gun fanatics,” and I translate it to, “gun owners,” well, I apologize if that’s not what you intended, but it’s what I heard. It wouldn’t be the first time someone made that leap, and I’m a little sensitive. So are a lot of gun owners, and I’d suggest that the same spirit of sensitivity and respect that we apply when discussing race, disability, sex, gender, and so forth, should also apply when discussing firearms.

  21. Chally
    Chally March 9, 2010 at 12:32 am |

    Joshua, I’ll leave the rest of the comment for Jill and just respond to with this: gun owners do not occupy the place of social oppressions associated with race, disability, sex, gender, and so forth. Yep, suggesting such a thing is out of line.

  22. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan March 9, 2010 at 1:46 am |

    I’d suggest that the same spirit of sensitivity and respect that we apply when discussing race, disability, sex, gender, and so forth, should also apply when discussing firearms.

    Well aren’t you so very precious and oppressed! If you aren’t swaggering around, fully armed and eagerly waiting for a brown person to try something so you can fill hir full of hot lead, then it’s not about you.

  23. TAS
    TAS March 9, 2010 at 1:47 am |

    “gun fanatics have pretty solid Klan roots”

    That’s a pretty ludicrous claim, considering that much of the support for guns comes from the Midwest and the West, where the Klan’s presence was limited to non-existent. And if they were present, there were no blacks for them to target so they went after other groups (i.e. Catholics).

    Not everyone lives in the middle of a big city where there is a cop on every block. Some of us live in parts of the country where the police response time is measured in minutes. Thus, handguns are highly useful for protection, though I admit I prefer shotguns for home defense.

    Also, liberals commonly criticize the criminal justice system for the disproportionate numbers of blacks in the system. Now, if more gun control laws were passed to stop the racism of blacks from getting killed by guns, far more inner-city blacks would be arrested under these laws than suburban or rural whites, which would lead to charges of racism. So either way, liberals will shout racism.

  24. Henry
    Henry March 9, 2010 at 2:33 am |

    Gun control doesn’t reduce crime rates. Might be counter-intuitive, but it just doesn’t. Countries with gun control and lower crime rates than ours would have them whether or not they had gun control, and you can tell this by examining violent crime rates of countries who haven’t always had strict gun control and now do. Is Britain’s violent crime rate lower than before it instituted gun control? No it is not. How ’bout Australia? Once again, no. Culture matters, and laws keep honest people honest. As Azalea pointed out, our highest crime areas have the tightest restrictions on gun ownership.

    @Chally Says you. Try explaining to a room of urban sophisticates that you sometimes carry a gun and that’s it’s really not that big a deal. See if people don’t immediately treat you like some sort of freak.

  25. Manju
    Manju March 9, 2010 at 3:00 am |

    i’m pro-gun but i don’t know what the gun people are getting all upset about. Jill saying “gun fanatics have pretty solid Klan roots” means, in this context at least, “the mere fact that gun fanaticism has Klan roots doesn’t undermine the legitimacy of gun fanaticism.”

    After all, she debunking the theory that planned parenthood’s eugenics roots should delegitimize the organization. so presumably her real position, as opposed to the one she’s taking in order to expose hypocrisy, is that pointing out connections between gun fanaticism and the Klan is an illegitimate guilt-by-association tactic, like the one the pro-life people are deploying.

  26. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 9, 2010 at 4:29 am |

    We don’t have to trust to our imaginations! We can SEE how policy works!!

    Oh, come now. That would mean USians looking with admiration and interest on how other countries have long since resolved the problems which still fester in the US. And no red-blooded American citizen’s going to do THAT when they can feel much nicer about themselves and their country by regarding the US as a special snowflake.

    Of course gun control would help the US. Eventually. But it would also cut into the profits of gun manufacturers and go against the policy base of the NRA, so naturally they’ll keep right on promoting the idea that gun control doesn’t diminish gun violence, which gullible people will swallow and repeat.

  27. umami
    umami March 9, 2010 at 4:34 am |

    Some rather silly arguments here.
    Henry, can you possibly be talking about the British handgun ban? Of course that didn’t reduce crime rates. It was a symbolic confiscation of a few thousand legally owned guns in response to tabloid pressure after a school shooting.
    No one thought it would reduce crime rates. Probably not even tabloid readers. We’re talking about only a couple of thousand guns that were only being used for target practice here.
    That’s got nothing to do with whether the already strict controls on gun ownership in Britain have an impact on the rate of homicide. No way of measuring that but I don’t think you’ll find many British people who believes that they don’t, or that gun laws like the USA’s are a good idea. From a European perspective the gun control debate seems just as one sided and crazy to most people as the debate on whether health care reform is a good idea.

    And yes, “culture matters.” Do you think easy gun ownership doesn’t affect culture?

    And “places that have the strictest gun control have the highest homicide rates”– well, of course they do. They have strict gun control because they have high homicide rates.

    The point is that if you can just travel outside the borders of your city and get hold of a lot of guns very easily and legally then gun control within the city isn’t going to be very effective at reducing the number of guns in circulation, and hence not effective at reducing crime.

  28. Chally
    Chally March 9, 2010 at 4:53 am |

    Henry: Yes, indeed, says me.

    I can’t believe people are comparing being a gun owner to having an oppressed identity on Feministe of all places. Stop that and stay on topic.

  29. Fine
    Fine March 9, 2010 at 5:09 am |

    As someone who is non-USAian it’s just bizarre reading the defensiveness here about guns. Those people who don’t care for gun control – you do realise you’re out of step with the rest of the developed world, don’t you? Perhaps there’s something you might learn from other countries, which is that countries with tough gun control laws simply don’t have the homicide rates the USA has.

  30. Fine
    Fine March 9, 2010 at 5:18 am |

    This set of international comparison statistics show how prevalent death by handgun is in comparison with other countries.
    Gun Deaths – International Comparisons

    Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):
    Homicide Suicide Other (inc Accident)

    USA (2001) 3.98 5.92 0.36
    Italy (1997) 0.81 1.1 0.07
    Switzerland (1998) 0.50 5.8 0.10
    Canada (2002) 0.4 2.0 0.04
    Finland (2003) 0.35 4.45 0.10
    Australia (2001) 0.24 1.34 0.10
    France (2001) 0.21 3.4 0.49
    England/Wales (2002) 0.15 0.2 0.03
    Scotland (2002) 0.06 0.2 0.02
    Japan (2002) 0.02 0.04 0

    Data taken from Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic. Praeger Security International. Westport.

  31. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 9, 2010 at 7:52 am |

    “Perhaps there’s something you might learn from other countries, which is that countries with tough gun control laws simply don’t have the homicide rates the USA has.”

    Which is clearly the only difference between those countries and the US. Clearly. It’s not like our violence rates tend to be much higher across the method-of-choice board or anything. Or that we have significantly less in the way of social safety nets. Or that our mental health care system is also a really bad joke. Or that our justice system is less interested in public safety than in retention and enforcement of regressive social hierarchies and profit.

    “Those people who don’t care for gun control – you do realise you’re out of step with the rest of the developed world, don’t you?”

    Call me crazy, but I’m more interested in how we’re out of step with the rest of the developed world on the above issues than I am on gun ownership. Guns don’t kill people by themselves, and it’s impossible to nerf the planet. Without a reduction in the inclination or need of the populace to engage in violent acts, reducing the number of legally-owned guns isn’t going to accomplish much in terms of “people getting assault-with-a-deadly-weaponed into the ICU.”

  32. KJ
    KJ March 9, 2010 at 8:27 am |

    I come from a family of gun-owners. My brother is a bit of gun fanatic. I fired my first gun at 5 in the backyard. Our family guns are kept in a gun safe in our house. None of them have ever been used to kill anyone. We use them for target practice, except for some of the antique guns, which are kept for their history. I’m really confused (and slightly upset) that a site that prides itself on blaming the right person for the crime in the instance of rape would try to blame an inanimate object for the crime of murder.

    Also, fighting for gun control ala European countries in the US will NEVER WORK. It is called the 2nd amendment and it states that gun ownership is a right. I think many folks from other countries fail to comprehend how the 2nd amendment makes the issue of gun ownership in the US very different from most other countries.

    The solution, IMHO, is teaching children, at a young age, to use and respect guns. My family it started early. We were told guns are not a toy and you never point a gun at anyone. We were not allowed to touch guns if an adult was not present. As we grew, we had respect and fear for guns. Instilling that respect and fear is the way to prevent gun deaths. Not banning guns, which would be unconstitutional anyway.

  33. melancholia
    melancholia March 9, 2010 at 8:30 am |

    The people murdering each other with guns, the vast majority of the time, are not law-abiding citizens for whom gun ownership was legal in the first place. Most “gun control” arguments revolve around creating stricter controls, but the fact is criminals are already getting around the controls that forbid them from owning guns presently – it’s hard to see how more gun control would work more effectively.

    See, e.g., Russia and Mexico, which have more gun murders than we do despite very strict gun laws. There is too much demand for guns from drug gangs and other criminals for even an outright ban on private ownership to work – all that would do is create a robust international trade.

    Also, some people are claiming that the lower crime rates in strict gun control countries is evidence that gun control laws results in fewer crimes. The problem with this is: Russia and Mexico , as I noted above, and also a few European countries and Israel, which have near-universal gun ownership but very low murder rates.

    Also note that, by controlling for demographics, the U.S. does not have a much higher murder rate than Europe. Europe doesn’t have our history of a huge population of enslaved and abused people. As the article pointed out, the black murder rate is 4 times the rest of the population.

  34. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 9, 2010 at 8:44 am |

    preying mantis: Call me crazy, but I’m more interested in how we’re out of step with the rest of the developed world on the above issues than I am on gun ownership.

    I agree that the US’s problems with gun ownership and refusal to consider that the solutions other countries have implemented could work in the US, too, are symptomatic rather than causative. The rest of the world has bigger problems with the US than the US’s refusal to regard homicide as a major problem when it interferes with profitable gun selling and head-in-sand attitude to other countries.

    But it is a symptom, and a clear one: the US doesn’t value human life over profit, and corporations can set up very successful propaganda networks that feed into the nastiest kind of patriotism.

    If the US could impose gun control laws and start mopping up the guns, that would be a good thing in itself and it would also be a positive symptom in the US that the oligarchic system of corporate rule is – maybe – crumbling.

  35. William
    William March 9, 2010 at 10:31 am |

    so naturally they’ll keep right on promoting the idea that gun control doesn’t diminish gun violence, which gullible people will swallow and repeat.

    I was born in Chicago the year the handgun ban went into effect, throughout my entire life we’ve had the strictest gun control laws in the nation on both the local and state level. We have (soon to be had) a full handgun ban, waiting periods, an “assault weapons” ban, firearm registration, a special photo ID to purchase weapons or ammo, two layers of background checks, a ban on gun shops within city limits, highly restrictive transportation laws, gun buy backs and turn in programs, and a whole host of other measures. Throughout this period we’ve struggled with the highest murder rates in the nation. For awhile in the 90s we were the murder capital of the US.

    Imagining that guns are the cause of the problem is like imagining that black people are poor because they can’t find good work. Sure, there might be some surface truth to such a theory but anyone with some basic reasoning capacity would realize that there is something more complicated at work. Black people die of gun violence because our government’s policies put them at risk. We have a ridiculous (and failed) war on drugs which has lead to violent gangs appearing in black communities to deal in controlled substances, we have racist politicians (like Mayor Daley and his equally repugnant father) who clearly don’t give a shit and police black neighborhoods (some of which they’ve actually physically cordoned off from white neighborhoods here in Chicago) only so far as is necessary for white cops to get enough arrests to qualify for a promotion and create a job for someone’s cousin as a guard at the county jail, then the heaps of young black men who come out of jail after serving sentences for minor drug offenses (which a white kid never would have served if he’d been caught) can’t get a decent job with a record, can’t get loans for college with a drug offense, can’t really find a way to put their life together, and end up with no where to really turn but the gangs. Along the way you have an army of racist white people who are all-too-willing to make sure that conditions don’t change and, even if they voted for Obama and have at least two black friends, wouldn’t hire “one of those people.”

    So yeah, when I hear a white mayor like Daley barking about guns what I really hear is “don’t bother to look behind the curtain.”

  36. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 10:42 am |

    Joshua, I’ll leave the rest of the comment for Jill and just respond to with this: gun owners do not occupy the place of social oppressions associated with race, disability, sex, gender

    I’m having a hard time expressing the concept I’m trying to get at, and I appreciate your attention while I muddle through. I do think there is something of substance here, though.

    I agree that gun owners do not occupy the same place of social oppression associated with race, sex, disability, gender, and so forth. I don’t mean to totally equate the two. As I have become more aware of these issues, one of the things that has really stood out to me is the idea that something that seems totally innocuous to me can be really offensive to someone else, for reasons that make absolutely no sense to me, because I’m in a position of privilege and they’re in a position of oppression. Used-to-be, I would respond defensively, but as my awareness has increased, I have tried to train myself to be open to others’ expressions of offense. When I was only aware of racism and sexism, it would have seemed ridiculous to me that there was anything wrong with saying, “lame,” or, “blinded me to the facts,” or, “that’s crazy.” By quelling my initial defensive reaction, I was able to become open to the reality that I don’t want to say those things because of the way that they may affect the people who hear them.

    I’m not trying to equate gun owners to oppressed people, but I am trying to communicate to Jill that when she says, “gun fanatics,” the distinction she means to make between them and “gun owners” may be lost on her audience, because those terms have already been so blurred by a media that seems quick to demonize actual gun owners. I’m evoking the “I’m not talking about YOU” entry on the bingo card because I think it’s a parallel to the type of reaction I got, and I assume that, as a feminist, Jill can identify with that experience, whereas she does not seem to identify with the experience of being a demonized gun-owner.

  37. Henry
    Henry March 9, 2010 at 10:49 am |

    “If the US could impose gun control laws and start mopping up the guns, that would be a good thing in itself and it would also be a positive symptom in the US that the oligarchic system of corporate rule is – maybe – crumbling.”

    The weaker gun laws in the US have nothing to do with corporate interest. We have weaker gun laws in the US because gun control is an electoral loser with a majority of the public. I’m sure it’s mentally comforting to believe that Americans are all simple slaves to corporate propaganda, but it isn’t so.

  38. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 10:50 am |

    Well aren’t you so very precious and oppressed! If you aren’t swaggering around, fully armed and eagerly waiting for a brown person to try something so you can fill hir full of hot lead, then it’s not about you.

    No, I am not oppressed. Well, given the kyriarchy, I am probably oppressed in some ways, but I am not particularly oppressed, and I am certainly not oppressed in that I own a gun.

    Just because I am not an oppressed minority doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to spread hateful stereotypes, which is what you’re doing in the paragraph above. I consider myself to be a responsible gun owner. I try not to be racist. I am not eager to shoot anybody. And yet there are gun-haters out there who see me with a gun on my hip and assume that I am exactly what you describe above. And then they try to take away my gun through legislation. And it burns.

    When I read discussions on rape, it makes me so angry to hear people focusing myopically on false charges of rape that “ruin a man’s life.” I want to shout, “Oh my god that hardly ever happens why is it dominating the ENTIRE damn discussion. What about all the other cases in which an actual person has been raped?!” Likewise, whenever the topic of guns comes up, all the gun-haters trot out the old stereotypes of the Klan and the good-ol’-boy who hates the brown people. “Oh my god, that is so the minority, why is that all we ever talk about?!?!” I am not trying to directly equate rape activisim and gun ownership, but I think that you may have shared the experience I describe r.e. discussions on rape, and may be able to identify with it better than the one we’re currently having, about guns.

  39. Jeff Kaufman
    Jeff Kaufman March 9, 2010 at 11:12 am |

    The comparison between shootings and abortions is off by a few orders of magnitude. The article says:

    Among blacks, [the homicide rate] is 20.9 per 100,000. That’s four times the national rate and seven times the white rate. In 82 percent of black-victim homicides in which the fatal weapon can be identified, it’s a gun.

    Which means the gun death rate for blacks is 17.1 per 100,000. There are about 42 million blacks in the us, so there are about 7000 blacks killed by guns each year.

    According to the cdc [1] there were 857,475 (legal) abortions in 2000, 36.3 of them to black mothers, which comes to roughly 300,000 black abortions.

    So if I were a pro-life person who believed that abortion and gun deaths were morally equivalent, I would be pretty reasonable to focus on abortion instead of shooting, given that it’s about 40 times more common.

    [1] http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5212a1.htm

  40. RD
    RD March 9, 2010 at 11:22 am |

    The national U.S. homicide rate is 5.3 per 100,000 people. Among whites, it’s 3.1 per 100,000. Among blacks, it’s 20.9 per 100,000.

    And among prostitutes, it is 204 per 100,000.

  41. RD
    RD March 9, 2010 at 11:28 am |

    But on the subject of gun control I agree with William.

  42. William
    William March 9, 2010 at 11:30 am |

    Joshua, I’m also a gun owner, so understand where this is coming from. I get what you’re trying to express, but seriously, just stop. Sure, its mildly obnoxious that a lot of people hold negative stereotypes about gun owners, and sure its annoying to constantly get lumped in with the Indiana crowd because you own a gun, but you’re whining.

    The bottom line is that, as a gun owner, you’re on the privileged side of the debate here. You’ve got an explicit constitutional right backed up by recent precedent, historical support, a sympathetic public, cultural support, likely broad legislative support on the local level, significant support on the national level, and a powerful advocacy base that is primarily grass-roots. DC just saw it’s handgun ban overturned by SCOTUS, it appears that Chicago is about to experience the same, 38 states have shall issue carry permits, 10 have discretionary permits, you’ve got a supreme court that has made it clear that its looking to expand and entrench 2A.

    Regardless of whether Jill might be in the wrong for tossing around stereotypes, your coming here to this space and moaning about how it burns is both childish and counterproductive. If nothing else, think about the context of your comments. There are a lot of people here who really are oppressed and seeing someone in a position of absolute privilege invoke oppression (even accidentally) is likely to burn a lot more than your minor offense. This is their space, and thrashing around about how unfair it all is makes you look like an MRA. Is that fair? Maybe not. Do you have reason to complain about it here? Unlikely. Is it their responsibility to bear with you as you “muddle through” and toss offense around without really contributing to the conversation? Certainly not.

  43. Henry
    Henry March 9, 2010 at 11:39 am |

    “And all of that said? I don’t want to take away your guns! I don’t really care if people have guns. I do think that there should be reasonable limitations — I don’t think you need a semi-automatic weapon”

    Considering that’s every handgun that isn’t an old single-action revolver and a very large portion of rifles, I’m not sure what this statement means. The second amendment isn’t about hunting.

    “I am saying that there is a relatively powerful sub-culture in the United States of gun fanatics whose love for guns and opposition to any gun control laws stems in part from a racist belief system.”

    Scary rednecks! I’m saying that you’re smearing a cultural group you don’t know very well and don’t identify with, and flat out disagreeing with you. Are there gun nuts who are racist? Of course there are; you can find racists in every group. It’s a correlation/causation argument. To imply that racism is the driving factor behind gun-rights absolutism is as offensive as saying that gun-control advocates are mostly concerned with keeping minorities in their place (even though that was true at one time). It’s casually assigning the worst motives to people you don’t agree with.

  44. William
    William March 9, 2010 at 11:46 am |

    I don’t want to take away your guns! I don’t really care if people have guns.

    I think this is the core of the problem with the gun control debate. I’m not sure either side really gets the other. Us gun nuts tend to see everyone in favor of gun control as a Daley or a Brady, looking to disarm the populace in the name of some questionable ideal. On the other side you have gun control advocates who just don’t understand guns at all.

    I do think that there should be reasonable limitations — I don’t think you need a semi-automatic weapon.

    All a semiautomatic weapon is is a weapon which uses some of the energy from the powder to eject the previous cartridge and load a new one. Its especially useful because it allows for more safety mechanisms, different kinds of shooting sports, and ease of use.

    I don’t think you need 19 different guns unless you have a pretty good reason.

    I can imagine having 19 different guns. Different guns have different uses. If I’m going to the range with my wife and she wants to be on the pistol range we’re going to use different guns, if I’m on a tight budget I’ll bring guns that use cheaper ammo, you can’t use the same gun for shooting clay pigeons that you would use for hunting deer. Different guns work differently at different ranges. New guns come on the market that have different capabilities and looks. By the time someone is at the 19 gun level they probably aren’t stockpiling arms for a race war, they’re probably buying guns in the same way someone who collects antique books buys books: maybe they’ll use them sometimes but for the most part they’re nice to look at.

    I think guns should be a little harder to obtain.

    I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’d honestly say I’m not sure how you’d go about doing that. Theres already the national instant background check, a lot of states have a secondary, many states have waiting periods. I’d like to see a better system for preventing people with misdemeanor DV convictions or recent restraining orders from buying guns, but I think it would likely be a logistical nightmare.

  45. Flowers
    Flowers March 9, 2010 at 11:47 am |

    Wow, I’m a gun owner, but I thought this post was about abortion more so than the right to own guns. I think that banning gun ownership, which is a constitutional right, and banning abortion, which is also a constitutional right, are the same things. (Note the difference between banning and controlling or limiting.) I think Jill hit the nail on the head when she highlighted this article in that it pointed out the hypocricy of trying to ban one constitutional right in the bame of being “pro-life” and “anti-racist” and not trying to ban the other because it’s a constitutional right, even though gun violence is not “pro-life” or “anti-racist.”

    I’m a female gun owner, but I care a hell of a lot more about having control over my uterus than control over my gun. Giving birth kills women. Not all women, but many women. It would kill me if I were to get pregnant. People forget this.

  46. That Girl
    That Girl March 9, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    Tas, the KKK was founded (at least the second wave in 1915) in Indiana. I went to primary and secondary school in the major city there and knew where not to go at night because of cross burnings. Almost everyone I went to high school with knows someone (either friend or relative) in the Klan. Almost everyone I went to high school with has an obsession with guns, and irrational fears of President Obama. I graduated in 2002. We’re talking about people in their late 20s.

  47. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 9, 2010 at 11:54 am |

    “I do think that there should be reasonable limitations — I don’t think you need a semi-automatic weapon.”

    I think you mean full-auto there. Semi-automatics are, like, everything made for the civilian market since WWII. Unless you’re okay with people having guns so long as they have to get all Wyatt Earp on the hammer for rapid fire, in which case I’ll shut up.

  48. Manju
    Manju March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm |

    I’m having a hard time expressing the concept I’m trying to get at

    Maybe the word Joshua is grappling for is classism. Surely gun ownership overlaps with the issue, as the fallout from Obama’s unfortunate “clinging to guns and religion” statement indicates.

  49. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm |

    I’m sure it’s mentally comforting to believe that Americans are all simple slaves to corporate propaganda, but it isn’t so.

    It’s actually fairly discomforting to realize how many Americans never think past the corporate propaganda about how gun control won’t stop gun-related homicide. But I never said it was all Americans. Just… enough.

  50. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm |

    @Jill: Ok! So, the gun-fanatics-and-the-Klan thing? I phrased that really poorly.

    Kthx. That’s kind of what I was asking for. Thanks for saving me from the even further depths of hyperbole I probably would have gone to in order to try to make my point ;-)

    @Jill: I am saying that there is a relatively powerful sub-culture in the United States of gun fanatics whose love for guns and opposition to any gun control laws stems in part from a racist belief system.

    I think you’re right that there is an alignment between some conservatives’ love of guns and their xenophobia. I hadn’t considered whether one stemmed from the other, or whether they both stemmed from a similar root value, but I suppose that’s largely academic. I’ll think about it.

    @Jill: Where do you think so many of the guns in the current Mexican drug wars are coming from?

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/04/02/myth-percent-small-fraction-guns-mexico-come/

    I’m a little bit chagrined to be quoting Fox News, but there are other sources as well, Fox is just the top Google hit. 90% of traced guns from Mexico come from the US, but only 17% of guns seized come from the US. The disparity is because Mexican authorities don’t bother doing US traces on guns unless they obviously come from the US. To put it another way, Mexican authorities correctly distinguish US guns from non-US guns 90% of the time. Many of the guns used in the Mexican drug trade actually come via the black market from the Mexican military, and thence, in some cases, from the US government.

    @Jill: But let’s not pretend like US gun owners are oppressed, or that there aren’t serious international consequences to our gun culture, or that racism plays absolutely no factor in the gun lobby and gun industry’s tactics.

    Granted. Likewise, let’s not pretend that it’s okay to throw around stereotypes just because we’re stereotyping a privileged group instead of an oppressed one, or that gun control policies are not and have not been just as racist.

  51. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm |

    @William: There are a lot of people here who really are oppressed and seeing someone in a position of absolute privilege invoke oppression (even accidentally) is likely to burn a lot more than your minor offense. This is their space, and thrashing around about how unfair it all is makes you look like an MRA. Is that fair? Maybe not. Do you have reason to complain about it here? Unlikely. Is it their responsibility to bear with you as you “muddle through” and toss offense around without really contributing to the conversation? Certainly not.

    Taking my own medicine, I’m going to swallow my defensive reaction and think about what you’re saying here. Are you interested in taking a discussion off-line? If so, you’re welcome to contact me at joshuabardwell@gmail.com.

  52. RD
    RD March 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm |

    I am not a gun owner. I would probably use it to kill myself. I’m also probably not allowed to buy them, but I don’t really know the laws that well.

  53. ElleBeMe
    ElleBeMe March 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm |

    “In spite of this, I agree that “gun fanatics” are often racist. I’ve had dealings with militia members and and strong “no gun control at all” activists, and none of them have seemed to have problems throwing around racial slurs or pointing out that “we” (being whites) are different from “those people.” Hell, I’ve been called a race traitor by a locally prominent anti-gun-control and pro-life activist, because my husband is Navajo. I try to avoid those people nowadays.”

    YOu know…anyone who has been to a gun show can see this is rather on the mark. I’ve never seen so much Nazi memorabilia in my life for sale…and it is quite disturbing to see a table of swastika patches next to a booth that is selling automatic weapons….

    FWIW – I am vehemently pro-choice and pro-gun. I became pro-gun during the Bush years when it seemed as if the conservatives really were starting to go a little batsh!t crazy…

    And anyone ever see the irony in the “pro-lifers” arguments about guns? They’re all about THEIR RIGHTS to posess a weapon that is designed solely to kill another person/animal…yet, they refuse to believe that a woman has the right to have bodily autonomy – pregnant or not. Heloooo….

  54. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm |

    I’m a gun owner, but I thought this post was about abortion more so than the right to own guns.

    Yeah, me too. And considering the fact that abortion providers have been regularly gunned down (the most recent one, George Tiller, murdered in church), I find the derailing especially chilling. It’s as if people are ignoring the actual point of the OP–something I’ve never seen before.

    You know Joshua, you have SHITLOAD more privilege than I do, and gaining. Your rights to firearms is not nearly as impeded as women’s rights to determine if they will get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. In many instances and in many regions of the US, it’s actually EASIER for a woman to buy a gun than it is for her to make personal reproductive medical decisions on her own. To say that the turn this comment thread has taken is sickening and insulting is mild.

  55. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm |

    “Giving birth kills women. Not all women, but many women. It would kill me if I were to get pregnant. People forget this.”

    I don’t think they forget it so much as they stick their fingers in their ears and yell “la la la I can’t hear you.” El Salvador’s an on-going case in point. They predicated their full-stop ban on abortion on modern medicine being so radically awesomesauce that pregnancy will no longer maim or kill anyone, and the (ircc) 170 Salvadoran women per year who have the temerity to die in spite of this cherished belief I guess just don’t exist.

    Of course, Saletan focusing on gun crime as a hypocrisy moment here is ridiculous. You want to see these people being hypocritical over black babies and black lives, all you usually have to do is bring up the subject of welfare, SCHIP programs, and anything else that might conceivably make carrying to term and parenting while black easier.

  56. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm |

    @Sheelzebub: You know Joshua, you have SHITLOAD more privilege than I do, and gaining. Your rights to firearms is not nearly as impeded as women’s rights to determine if they will get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term.

    I am adamantly in favor of everyone’s right to bodily autonomy. That same value results in me being pro-gun-rights. That a person’s ability to get a firearm is less impeded than her ability to get an abortion doesn’t mean that it’s okay to argue in favor of abortion rights with hypocritical, “blame the gun,” logic. As others on this thread have pointed out, when a rape occurs, we adamantly blame the rapist; that same logic should be used when a person uses a gun to commit a crime.

    I’m not arguing against women’s ability to have an abortion. I’m trying to point out that this particular argument in favor of that right (“guns kill more people than abortions”) is flawed, and seems inconsistent with the other values of the feminist cause.

    I’m having a hard time deciding if this whole thread is derailing. It seems relevant and on-topic to me, but most commenters are disagreeing with me, and few seem to be agreeing, so that probably means I’m out of line. I think I should probably let this drop.

  57. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm |

    Joshua, I never said you were anti-choice. I pointed out that when the subject is the rights of women to decide what we do with our bodies, yet again, the subject is derailed. A huge bulk of the comment thread was tending to the feelings of offended gun owners. It’s as if our silly little concerns over the right to make our own medical decisions must take second place to The More Important Concerns raised by those with more privilege. I also pointed out that your discomfort with the views some people have of gun owners is NOT on par with what women have to go through to get the pill, or get an abortion, or even get good care during a miscarriage.

    Given the backdrop of harassment, intimidation, violence, and murder among anti-choicers–including, most recently, the murder of George Tiller–I find this derail pretty goddamn sickening. You’re annoyed by the attitude towards gun owners, and I’m affected on a deep, immediate, and personal level by the violence that these forced-birthers have subjected women, clinic staff, and doctors to. The rhetoric they use–that we are committing genocide, that we are Nazis, that we are baby killing whores–dehumanizes us and makes it easier for others to interfere in what should be a woman’s private medical business. You’ll just have to forgive me and others if we are tired of explaining WHY this kind of derailing is off-putting and frankly, sickening.

  58. Sailorman
    Sailorman March 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    I don’t think it’s as much an issue of corporations as of the Framers.

    The right to gun ownership is right there in plain text in the second amendment. The right to privacy (and thus an abortion) isn’t anywhere in the plain text; the Roe court basically made it up.

    The right to privacy exists because the Supremes say so. That’s how it works. And it implies a right to abortion, again because the Supremes say so. But in order to understand it, you have to understand Article III, and Marbury v. Madison, and Roe v. Wade. Lots of people don’t understand.

    The right to bear arms not only exists in plain text, but can be read and understood by a three year old. It’s part of our country’s most important and well known document. You don’t need corporate lobbyists to get people opposed to changing it.

  59. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm |

    @Sailorman: The right to gun ownership is right there in plain text in the second amendment. The right to privacy (and thus an abortion) isn’t anywhere in the plain text; the Roe court basically made it up.

    There’s a school of thought, which I support, that says that the Bill of Rights doesn’t create human rights, but enumerates them, and that those rights exist even in the absence of the Constitution. A woman, like any other person, should be the ultimate arbiter of what happens inside of her own body. If the Bill of Rights is missing the necessary text to enumerate this, that’s a failure of the Bill, not an indicator that the right is any less real.

  60. Sailorman
    Sailorman March 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm |

    FWIW, a whole hell of a lot of people who share the ‘natural rights’ view of things disagree with your conclusions regarding abortion. Which is pretty much the main problem with that school of thought. Once you start making up rules and rights out of thin air, your opponents figure it out pretty fast.

    But that is all I’ll say on it because it’s way OT.

  61. Virginia Mariposa
    Virginia Mariposa March 9, 2010 at 4:43 pm |

    People with guns kill people! As for abortion, I’ve had two; they were painless, legal and freed me to follow my college career, write two novels and produce my current movie. Children aren’t for everyone! Abortion has nothing to do with race, it has to do with whether or not you want to dedicate a significant portion of your life to raising a child, which is not an easy job!!

  62. TAS
    TAS March 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm |

    Ha, fair, preying mantis. Sorry, you are right, I don’t know my guns all that well!

    If you don’t know what a semi-automatic gun is and you openly admit that you don’t know much about guns, perhaps you should refrain from posting about guns. It just makes you look ignorant.

  63. Fine
    Fine March 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm |

    I have to say I find it chilling that so many people on a progressive blog own guns and support gun ownership, when the primary reason to own a gun is to kill another person. I think it’s actually quite shocking.

  64. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm |

    “FWIW, a whole hell of a lot of people who share the ‘natural rights’ view of things disagree with your conclusions regarding abortion.”

    Yes, but this tends to boil down to the fact that they don’t believe women are actually human beings and are thus incapable of having human rights.

  65. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm |

    Sailorman: The right to gun ownership is right there in plain text in the second amendment.

    No, it’s not. What’s in the second amendment is “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    What’s in plain text in the second amendment is something like Switzerland’s system of highly-regulated gun ownership and all virtually all the male citizens being in the army (or rather, in the US, the state militia). Switzerland, incidentally, has extensive gun control laws, widespread gun ownership, and a low rate of gun-related homicide.

  66. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm |

    The right to privacy (and thus an abortion) isn’t anywhere in the plain text; the Roe court basically made it up.

    Nope. Eight years earlier, the Griswold court just basically made it up. Before then, it was legal for the state to decide what contraceptives you were allowed to use, or if you were allowed to use contraceptives at all. Roe was not a groundbreaking case on privacy. (Of course, pro-lifers who want to roll back privacy law so that Roe is upset, will be equally happy to have Griswold rolled back so that the government can ban or unban contraception, too.)

  67. Blue Jean
    Blue Jean March 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm |

    If you’re going to go all Originalist on us, I should point out that abortion was perfectly legal in the US when the Bill of Rights was being written. The Founders saw no reason to safeguard a right that was already taken for granted.

  68. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm |

    @Fine: I have to say I find it chilling that so many people on a progressive blog own guns and support gun ownership, when the primary reason to own a gun is to kill another person. I think it’s actually quite shocking.

    FWIW, my flavor of “progressivism” is about treating people with respect and dignity, and the first and foremost expression of that value is respecting individual autonomy–that is, letting people do what they want with themselves. From that perspective, gun ownership is not contradictory to progressive values. I believe that, through no fault of my own, violent criminals may put me in a situation where their death is warranted, and I’m not comfortable with a system that puts that decision solely in the hands of the state, especially when the state won’t be the one who dies if it guesses wrong. By the same token, I fully expect people to be held to account when they misuse deadly force; with great power comes great responsibility (thanks, Stan Lee).

  69. Manju
    Manju March 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm |

    sailorman:

    I think it important to acknowledge the Founders clearly didn’t want only enumerated rights protected. its right there in the doc (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”) and they debated this point so fervently they almost scraped the whole bill of rights in favor of going with simply enumerated powers (the govt can only do what the constitution says it can) out of fear that enumerating rights would imply those are the only ones.

    now autonomy over one’s body has been pretty central to liberal thinkers for a long time. of course, many didn’t mean women’s bodies, but that’s been resolved by subsequent amendments.

    and here we have yet another example of an institution effectively detangling itself from its racist/sexist roots to actually serve the opposite end.

  70. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery March 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm |

    What’s in plain text in the second amendment is something like Switzerland’s system of highly-regulated gun ownership and all virtually all the male citizens being in the army (or rather, in the US, the state militia).

    Ye gods, I hate this argument. Yes yes, I’m sure the framers envisioned their local militias gunning down students at Kent State, breaking up the Pullman Strikes, or executing Operation Garden Plot.

    People who don’t understand the difference between dependent and independent clauses should not be allowed to interpret the Constitution.

  71. Fine
    Fine March 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm |

    Joshua, I understand your argument. I’ve heard it many times before. My point is that it’s a peculiarly USAian argument, that you won’t hear from people in comparable countries. It’s an example of huge cultural difference. People from other countries find your argument shocking, which makes me think that commenting here is almost inappropriate. This is a USAian argument and I’m not sure that people from other countries can say much which is apt or useful.

    I’ve been to the USA a few times, have USAian friends and think it’s a great and amazing country. But, I also think there’s a barbarism and violence at the heart of the country which is expressed by the blithe acceptance of both gun ownership and capital punishment.

    It also never ceases to astonish me how USAians don’t look to other cultures that don’t share these attitudes and problems and say; “Hang on, there’s a few things we could learn here”. But, I guess that’s just USAian exceptionalism.

  72. becky
    becky March 9, 2010 at 7:05 pm |

    well, as a european who is somewhat bewildered by this discussion, i guess i just have to accept that many USians are quite peculiar when it comes to guns…

    still, i find it very interesting that an instrument for killing (and yes, that’s the first purpose of guns, not shooting cans or whatever people, too) animals and people is presented as an iconic symbol for freedom, independence, libertarianism, progressivism, feminism, “racial tolerance” (still love that one the most), constitutional rights, civil rights, a pro-choice stance, and all that is good and precious in the world. simply… wow.

  73. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm |

    Ye gods, I hate this argument.

    I’m sure you do. It’s unpleasant to be faced with the unpalatable facts, especially the nasty, awkward fact that the Second Amendment is about establishing every American’s right to serve in the National Guard, not about unlimited uncontrolled highly-profitable mass gun ownership.

  74. Henry
    Henry March 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm |

    “It’s unpleasant to be faced with the unpalatable facts, especially the nasty, awkward fact that the Second Amendment is about establishing every American’s right to serve in the National Guard, not about unlimited uncontrolled highly-profitable mass gun ownership.”

    False, and ridiculously so. The “militia” is the whole body of free people, not some state organization. A quick reading of The Federalist removes any doubt whether or not the text was meant to protect an individual right. Everything else is misdirection.

  75. Joshua
    Joshua March 9, 2010 at 9:28 pm |

    @Becky: well, as a european who is somewhat bewildered by this discussion, i guess i just have to accept that many USians are quite peculiar when it comes to guns…

    It’s like we’re from a whole different country! Go fig.

  76. Shelby
    Shelby March 9, 2010 at 10:06 pm |

    @TAS “That’s a pretty ludicrous claim, considering that much of the support for guns comes from the Midwest and the West, where the Klan’s presence was limited to non-existent. And if they were present, there were no blacks for them to target so they went after other groups (i.e. Catholics).”

    Huh? This is just all wrong. There are and have always been (since Columbus anyway) Black people out west and in the midwest. And the Klan is verrrry influential here in Michigan! We still have “sundown towns” (cities you DO NOT get caught in after dark if you’re any kind of brown) AND cross burnings (along w/ your average swastika-based vandalism of brown homes in white neighborhoods.)

  77. William
    William March 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm |

    What’s in plain text in the second amendment is something like Switzerland’s system of highly-regulated gun ownership and all virtually all the male citizens being in the army (or rather, in the US, the state militia). Switzerland, incidentally, has extensive gun control laws, widespread gun ownership, and a low rate of gun-related homicide.

    Respectfully, the interpretation that you’re suggesting is not that of the supreme court, of the traditional reading of the second amendment, or of the stated intent of most of the founders. It also ignores the meaning of the word “militia” both historically in the United States and in American law. The militia of the founders was every able bodied man in the community who owned a weapon and wasn’t a conscientious objector. That is essentially the definition of the militia still on the books. What you’re describing is the national guard or a standing army, both of which are provided for by other areas of the constitution.

    You also have to consider the context of the constitution itself. Government powers are enumerated earlier, the bill of rights deals with individual rights which the government is not able to abridge. Thats the reason it was added and that is what is contained in virtually all of the other 10 original amendments (the 10th amendment being a notable exception). Finally there is the matter of language which you must contend with. The second amendment is oddly worded, yes, but the independent clause is still “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Not only is it an independent clause, but the phrase “the people” is generally used in the constitution (and especially in the Bill of Rights) in opposition to the government, not as a synonym.

  78. William
    William March 10, 2010 at 12:01 am |

    Eight years earlier, the Griswold court just basically made it up.

    One could argue that the 9th amendment ought to have ensured the right of both privacy and bodily autonomy. Thats not the course the court took, sadly, but I dislike the meme that SCOTUS “made up” a right to abortion. Rights aren’t made up, they are restraints upon the authority of the government to infringe upon the liberty of the individual, things which society has carved out. If you buy into the natural state view of things they are the way man is in the absence of tyranny, if you buy into the constructionist view they are the things which society has deemed inviolable. Either way, rights are not so much made up as recognized. Once they’re here, they’re here until society changes the rules. Suggesting that a right is “made up” just gives ammo to the kinds of people who would like to oppress people who exercise those rights.

  79. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 10, 2010 at 3:11 am |

    William: The second amendment is oddly worded, yes, but the independent clause is still “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Because they need to be able to have weapons in order to be in the militia. That’s the plain text reading of the Second Amendment.

    Yes, I’m aware that isn’t the popularly-understood meaning of it, nor is it the meaning that it has come to have.

    My point is that the assumed legal meaning of the Second Amendment – that everyone’s got to be able to buy guns without let or hindrance – is (a) very convenient to gun manufacturers and (b) not in the least the plain text original meaning that has been claimed for it.

    Arguing that we-get-to-buy-all-the-guns-we-want is the current (and by now of fairly long standing) interpretation of the Second Amendment, is perfectly reasonable. Arguing that this is the plain text reading of what’s in the original document, is not. What’s in the original document is that a free state needs a well-organised militia, therefore people need to be able to keep and bear arms. That’s the precise situation in Switzerland – and as I noted above, they do have gun control laws. Only the US, with its corporation-run government, has such a foolishly random belief that any kind of regulation on being able to buy a gun is going to somehow ruin their personal FREEDOM. It’s not as if personal ownership of guns has done anything to protect Americans from any of the laws taking away their rights as citizens of a free state.

    Suggesting that a right is “made up” just gives ammo to the kinds of people who would like to oppress people who exercise those rights.

    I agree. I was quoting the person I was responding to, who claimed that a woman’s right to private consulation with her doctor was “made up”, but yeah, I should have responded without echoing,

  80. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan March 10, 2010 at 5:05 am |

    I’m pretty sure the founders didn’t include a right to remove something that is leeching off of your unwilling internal organs because they thought it was really fucking obvious. They also didn’t include the right to breathe oxygen and yet here we are.

  81. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 10, 2010 at 5:53 am |

    Actually, I’m pretty certain the Founders didn’t include “the right to have an abortion” for much the same reason as they didn’t include “the right to have open-heart surgery” or “the right to antibiotics”.

  82. becky
    becky March 10, 2010 at 6:56 am |

    @joshua: exactly! that’s why human and civil rights, feminism, anti-racism etc. have no universalist claim at all, but are entirely regionalist. obviously, i need to shut up when it comes to guns and murder, since i’m not from the US. thank you for the enlightenment.

  83. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan March 10, 2010 at 7:59 am |

    My understanding is that abortion and other fertility/birth control measures way precede open-heart surgery and antibiotics. Spermicides and various contraptions have been shoved inside ladies for a looong time — I don’t remember the date but National Geographic had a rather intriguing look at some ancient birth control devices a few years back. And if a teenager in a bathroom can do it now I’d imagine an experienced midwife could do it back then.

    Sure, the founding fathers may have been really ignorant about all that sordid lady business and it never occurred to them to worry about all those little “unborn” whatevers, but you can’t tell me Ben Franklin at least didn’t even have an *inkling* about how babies get made, or that women aren’t always keen on that happening. :p

  84. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan March 10, 2010 at 8:10 am |

    Joshua #39:

    Just because I am not an oppressed minority doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to spread hateful stereotypes, which is what you’re doing in the paragraph above.

    Just to clarify, I’m not saying anything that those particular racist gun-fanatics aren’t dogwhistling to high heaven themselves. When I talk about trigger-happy idiots looking for non-white trouble I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about the guys who basically *say* this is their motivation. They’re all “the blacks are gonna go crazy when Obama wins — I need guns!” and “violent criminal Mexicans are sneaking over the border — I need guns!” and apparently they’re the ones who designed the paper targets in the one shooting range I’ve been in, all of which depict Middle Eastern men.

    These people get bashful about straight-out saying “race war!” but that’s what (they think) they want. My pointing that out isn’t bigotry by any stretch. Unlike the scary, scary gays (who you bring up) these nuts actually *have* an “agenda” and it’s a dangerous one to boot.

  85. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan March 10, 2010 at 8:14 am |

    (Not saying you’re calling gay people “scary” of course, but just pointing out that assigning damaging motivations to a completely harmless group, like people with a particular sexual orientation, is not at all analogous to assigning motivations to a group like racist gun owners where it’s actually true.)

  86. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 10, 2010 at 8:23 am |

    “Actually, I’m pretty certain the Founders didn’t include “the right to have an abortion” for much the same reason as they didn’t include “the right to have open-heart surgery” or “the right to antibiotics”.”

    You do know that we’ve been performing surgical and herbal abortions with various amounts of safety and success since at the very latest Greek and Roman times, yes? This isn’t some wild new invention that we just figured out. It’s up there with willow-bark tea being good for headaches.

  87. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 10, 2010 at 8:28 am |

    Well, so much for not derailing. Glad to know that the rights of women take a backseat to the feelings of white male gun owners.

  88. Another Laurie
    Another Laurie March 10, 2010 at 9:47 am |

    I am another liberal American gun owner. And yeah, I am annoyed by the thread derail too. Saletan’s analogy between abortion and guns is brilliant!

  89. Sailorman
    Sailorman March 10, 2010 at 10:12 am |

    Manju 3.9.2010 at 6:41 pm
    sailorman:
    I think it important to acknowledge the Founders clearly didn’t want only enumerated rights protected.

    Sure. I have no interest in getting into a lengthy Constitutional argument at the moment, although (given my job) I do keep on top of things and understand it.

    My point is simply that the derivation of claimed constitutional support for abortion is quite different in form, practice, and precedent than the derivation of claimed constitutional support for gun ownership. The gun rights are more clear and are easier to explain to a layperson. It doesn’t mean that they’re “better,” or “stronger,” or “more of a right,” but it changes their political presentation to a huge degree.

    And it’s, well…. a debate. There are scholars who believe that active militia members should be able to own guns, and there are scholars who believe that anyone at all should own a gun. There are also a lot of arguments about the extent of abortion rights protection. Heck, even the Supremes (who are the ultimate arbiter of these issues) often split 5-4. Those who believe the answer is obvious are wrong: it’s not obvious. I believe I’m on the correct sides of both arguments (pro-gun-control; pro-choice) but I’m not so foolish as to believe that it’s carved in stone.

  90. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac March 10, 2010 at 10:26 am |

    You do know that we’ve been performing surgical and herbal abortions with various amounts of safety and success since at the very latest Greek and Roman times, yes?

    You do know that legislators (and religious folks) only really got into making laws against abortion when it became a medical procedure that was always successful and always survivable?

    (Not to mention that, back when reliable contraception wasn’t particularly reliable, and pregnancy tests didn’t exist, the distinction between “inducing an early miscarriage” and “preventing conception” just wouldn’t have been made: it’s not that long since religion and law combined to declare it not an abortion if the fetus hasn’t yet “quickened”, which would cover first-trimester “artificially induced miscarriages”.)

    No one bothered to regulate dangerous medical/surgical procedures in the Constitution because it was taken for granted at the time that an independent adult would decide for themselves with the advice of their doctor whether or not he was going to hazard any particular procedure, assuming he could find a doctor or a surgeon willing and able.

    In point of strict fact, I presume the Founders would have believed, like any good 18th-century gentleman, that it was a husband’s right to decide for his wife, a father’s right to decide for his children, and an owner’s right to decide for his slaves: but we’re no longer in the 18th century, which is the main reason I think originialist arguments are absurd.

  91. La BellaDonna
    La BellaDonna March 10, 2010 at 11:50 am |

    I’m actually happy to have had other people who were willing to speak up on behalf of other gun owners – I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t willing to enter into what I saw as a fruitless enterprise, given that there seem to be so many people who equate “gun owner” with “gun nut”, and for whom “gun nut” automatically equals “Klan”.

  92. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 10, 2010 at 12:17 pm |

    Oh, JESUS H. CHRIST ON A FUCKING POPSICLE STICK PEOPLE.

    Saletan made the point that for all of pro forced-birthers
    ridiculous lies–that the abortion rights movement is a way for racists to eliminate people of color, that we actually want to commit genocide, and that a lot of Black babies are killed–the same parallel could be drawn to the anti-gun control folks. And a few random pro-gun progressives aside, the bulk of the forced-birthers out there tend to be anti-gun control. Using that same logic, they are racist because Black people are disproportionately killed by gun violence, and one could argue that the proliferation of guns in poor minority areas are a way to ethnically cleanse the population. That, if abortion is a tool for genocide because it happens in the Black community at a higher rate than in the White community, then guns access is WORSE. (He also points out that many African-Americans seem to agree with this, since many of are FOR gun control). If you’re going to equate modern-day pro-choicers and clinics with racists because the founders were eugenicists, then you’ll have to do the same WRT the right to bear arms. And, as Saletan said, “If the sympathy of racists makes abortion a conspiracy against blacks, the same is doubly true of guns.”

    You know, reading is fundamental. And I am yet again sickened and disgusted that the actual topic at hand–the inconsistency of the pro-forced-birth crowd, and the rights of women to control their bodies and make their own medical decisions–takes a backseat to the offended sensibilities of gun owners. I am so very sorry you all feel so very oppressed, but Saletan’s point stands. The forced-birthers are not being consistent or true to their own rhetoric when they pull this shit.

    But do! Go on! Continue to derail! I mean, women are just inconsequential bitches and we should shut up to let you all talk about The Important Shit, like how horrible it is that someone used the term “gun nut” or pointed out that the Klan has a huge history of pro-gun activities, or pointed out that gun shows do tend to have a lot of that racist element there.

    Maybe I’m just being a big old meanie butt who’s yelling at people on the internet (but fair warning–any assberet who swoops in and gives me a tone lecture is going to have their ass handed back to them). But I am sick. to. fucking. death. of seeing these fucking derails. It’s as if women’s rights didn’t matter compared to the feelings of mostly white, male gun owners. And I guess to some folks, they just plain don’t.

    Well, you are welcome to fuck off.

  93. Manju
    Manju March 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm |

    “It’s not as if personal ownership of guns has done anything to protect Americans from any of the laws taking away their rights as citizens of a free state.”

    While I agree that a policy’s racist roots shouldn’t in and off itself delegitimize the policy, I think we should (as Jill did in her original post on the matter) acknowledge that those who bring up the racist roots of planned parenthood are historically correct.

    Likewise, gun control has deep racist roots precisely because the state wanted to prevent blacks from excerising their rights. Post civil war “black codes” prevented freed slaves from carrying guns. nonetheless, blacks formed militias to protect themselves from the kkk, a state sponsored terrorist group deeply aligned with the progressive movement and the democratic party. disarming blacks was a major objective of the klan.

    Indeed, even though the civil rights movement is famous for its pacifist stand, guns played a role:

    http://www.saf.org/pub/rkba/general/GunsVersusKKK.htm

    david Kopel provides context:

    http://volokh.com/2010/02/22/the-story-of-the-armed-community-organizers/

  94. preying mantis
    preying mantis March 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

    “No one bothered to regulate dangerous medical/surgical procedures in the Constitution because it was taken for granted at the time that an independent adult would decide for themselves with the advice of their doctor whether or not he was going to hazard any particular procedure, assuming he could find a doctor or a surgeon willing and able.”

    Which is naturally why you chose to make the above point by using two medical procedures/tools which didn’t exist as concepts at the time the Constitution was penned.

  95. a lawyer
    a lawyer March 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm |

    For what it’s worth, I think the slam against gun rights advocates is completely unwarranted. There’s no reason to throw around claims that gun rights advocates have “pretty solid Klan roots” except to smear them all as terrorist sympathizers who want to kill black people. The Klan’s position on gun control may be an interesting historical fact but it’s completely irrelevant to understanding the actual motives of actual people today. Replying to one set of baseless accusations about a secret genocidal agenda with another set of baseless accusations about a secret genocidal agenda doesn’t help anything.

    Also, the points various people have made in pointing out that the purpose of guns is to kill people is not really a refutation of the gun rights types. At least here in the U.S., the principal argument of the gun rights movement is that people should have the right to own guns for self-defense. Their ability to kill people is the whole point.

    (For what it’s worth, I care about gun control from mostly a death-reduction perspective, and haven’t put in nearly enough time researching the issue to develop an informed opinion.)

  96. Azalea
    Azalea March 12, 2010 at 9:23 am |

    @ Sheelzebub

    “…they are racist because Black people are disproportionately killed by gun violence, and one could argue that the proliferation of guns in poor minority areas are a way to ethnically cleanse the population.”

    Umm yeah the majority of the gun violence is black on black in places where the second amendment BARELY exists at all. Again to let politics go to hell on this one and realize that when talking about black people, we ARE talking about human beings, not pawns in a chess game that you use to make a point. HUMAN BEINGS! Gun laws did nothing more than ensure that those vulnerable to victimization, i.e. law abiding citizens (mostly black) would be up shit’s creek without a paddle. How about actually ENFORCING simple gun laws like background checks instead of saying black people shouldn’t have the right to bear arms because they don’t know how to act.

    “That, if abortion is a tool for genocide because it happens in the Black community at a higher rate than in the White community, then guns access is WORSE.”

    So simply giving guns to black people means that we will all kill each other?

    ” (He also points out that many African-Americans seem to agree with this, since many of are FOR gun control). ”

    These “many black people” are politicians who want to be re-elected and people who want enforcement of the laws that already exist. If black people were to be viewed as human beings equal to whites for once by both sides maybe the entire message could get through and wont be so damned conflated.

    “If you’re going to equate modern-day pro-choicers and clinics with racists because the founders were eugenicists, then you’ll have to do the same WRT the right to bear arms.”

    Are. You. Kidding. Me?! There is no IF eugenicists=racist PERIOD. I think its so wonderful that people could easily forget that feminism and racism were not always mutually exclusive but as a biracial woman I simply can not and will not forget that, especially when there are so many apologists running around dismissing the past and its trickle down affects on the present.

    I don’t think the Klan and typical right wing gun fanatics are viewed as color blind rays of sunshine. I don’t think any person of color , especially in an urban area forgets the stories of black men and women being unjustly murdered by some gun loving fool abusing the 2nd amendment in the name of racism and white privilege. The problem is when the other side think the solution to the exceedingly high rate of gun violence against black people is to make sure black people can’t protect THEMSELVES. Let’s not pretend that the police are a reliable form of protection against abuse and violence for black people or other people of color.

  97. Meghan
    Meghan March 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm |

    “I can’t believe people are comparing being a gun owner to having an oppressed identity on Feministe of all places.”

    Not to keep beating a dead horse, but as a chick who owns a shotgun, is anti-gun control, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-women’s rights, and REPUBLICAN (just to name a few viewpoints..), I am an oppressed identity. To many of the articles I’ve read, I am one of those people who thinks I belong in the kitchen and I hate black people and liberals and I think abortion is horrible. WRONG. Several of us are trying to identify ourselves and make others aware that we are oppressed, too.

    Just because I’m supporting gun rights doesn’t mean I’m a guy. I’m a competitive shooter, which has been a gentleman’s sport for a long time, but we’re working on changing the face of that. I hunt, I fish, whatever. I like my gun. And, to top it all off, I don’t have Klan ties. I don’t even need to justify that.

    I think that if the US had a gun control policy, it wouldn’t really help too much. There would just be more illegal guns, larger crimes, and those of us who know how to properly handle our firearms would be under pressure for doing so, and quite possible unable to do so. Saving children from guns doesn’t start by controlling gun laws; it starts through education, increased safety, and proper use.

  98. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm |

    “There is no IF eugenicists=racist PERIOD.”

    Oh, FFS. You’re twisting my words. I never said that eugenics wasn’t racist. Nor was I arguing for or against gun control, I was pointing out that the logic the forced-birthers are using to shame and intimidate women from controling their own bodies could be used against them.

    How about actually ENFORCING simple gun laws like background checks instead of saying black people shouldn’t have the right to bear arms because they don’t know how to act.

    I never said that “Black people shouldn’t have the right to bear arms because they don’t know how to act.” I pointed out that Saletan was using the same logic the forced birthers are using–and using it against the forced birthers. I pointed this out because waaayyy too many people in this thread turned this into a debate over the feelings of gun owners and how oppressed they are. I didn’t say anything about gun control, for or against. FFS.

    So simply giving guns to black people means that we will all kill each other?

    Why, yes, that’s exactly what I said. /sarcasm. See above. How about you stop twisting my words and lying about what I said?

    1. Sady
      Sady March 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm |

      @Everyone: Hi! I’m your moderator for the day. Today, as your moderator, I will ask that we keep our comments related to the post at hand, and try not to turn it into an argument about whether or not we hate each other because we have and/or do not have guns. There are a lot of complex issues at hand, here, and I think those conversations tend to go better when we maintain a certain level of calm, yeah?

  99. UnFit
    UnFit March 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm |

    Actually, eugenics are not the same as racism.
    They often overlap, but there is indeed a difference.
    Just for the sake of accuracy.

  100. William
    William March 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm |

    Actually, eugenics are not the same as racism.
    They often overlap, but there is indeed a difference.
    Just for the sake of accuracy.

    Sometimes eugenic ideas are rooted in classism, sometimes ableism, sometimes sexism, but the vast majority of the time you’re talking about plain old racism. Either way you’re talking about a very specific value system being used to define what kinds of human beings are desirable and what kinds are not which makes the “sometimes it isn’t about race” argument pretty much masturbatory. Violent oppression is violent oppression and at the end of the day it comes down to a powerful group hurting those who are not like them in order to maintain power. The delusion of difference that the powerful group operates under is worthy of consideration only to the oppressors.

  101. UnFit
    UnFit March 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm |

    That wasn’t my point.
    It’s just that lumping together different mechanisms of oppression and power structures can sometimes be misleading, and sometimes different issues demand different kind of actions, and it doesn’t do to treat them as one-and-the same.
    That’s all.

    /derail.

  102. UnFit
    UnFit March 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm |

    Orm if you will, eugenics is a tool. Racism, sexism, ableism etc. are the actual structures of oppression.
    If you do away with eugeics, you don’t automatically do away with, say, ableism, but if you did away with ableism, you’d be rid of at least a large part of eugenics’ applications.

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