Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Changed My Mind...

I think.

A few months ago I was talking to a law enforcement officer about axes.  Specifically tomahawks.  Somebody overheard my conversation and asked what I needed with a tomahawk.  I said they are extremely versatile, with many uses.  He asked why I didn't just get a full sized ax.  I told him that I already had one (a REALLY NICE ONE, thanks babe!).  He then said, "Are you one of those survivalists?"  I live in the city, in a cookie-cutter house, and spend a decent portion of my work day at a desk...but yes, I would like to survive.  While a tomahawk would probably come in handy in a survival scenario, I just wanted a smaller ax for camping...and in case the zombies got my full-sized ax....

Then came the real question he wanted to ask.  "Are you an NRA member?" I'm not sure how he made the jump from blades to firearms.

"Yes I am," I answered.


"They are the biggest force out there against those who want to take away a specific part of the Constitution." I knew this was not going to be a lengthy conversation, and wanted to answer as truthfully and succinctly as possible. (Not to mention the guy that I was talking to had taken an oath to defend the Constitution, and had a firearm tucked at the small of his back).

"Are you one of those guys that thinks just anybody should have a gun anytime?" he asked.

"Not anybody."

I suspect that he did not want to get too confrontational, and said, "I just don't think anybody needs an AK-47 or an M-16," with a smile, figuring I would agree.

I sensed it was the end of the conversation.  But instinctively I said, "It is not a matter of needing it, to me, it is a matter of having a right to have it."  I really did not think about what I said, I just responded.  He was talking about fully-automatic weapons.  The kind that have been regulated in America since the 1930s.  Usually I would respond with a statement as such, and include my belief that convicted felons should not be allowed to posses firearms, and people diagnosed with certain medical conditions, etc.  But I didn't.  I just wanted to make the most simple argument.

Last night, I was reading a book about guns in America.  The author was exploring views on gun rights and gun ownership. Late in the book, it introduced Aaron Zelman and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Zelman believed government should not be limiting the rights of gun ownership by free peoples (see Hitler's Germany, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, Rwanda, Ottoman Turkey, Uganda, the Soviet Union, Zimbabwe...).  My kind of guy.  But, of course, not for convicted felons.   Yes, for convicted felons too, government should not be limiting the rights of gun ownership by free peoples.  Convicted felons, he argued, have paid their debt.  They don't lose their first amendment rights forever, why would they lose their second amendment rights forever?  Whoa! Well, because... But that's different... See, they...  As much as I argued in my mind, I realized that I believe that the Constitution guaranteed the right to bear arms, and it did not limit it to non-felons, and mentally stable people, and outside of liquor establishments, etc.  [ Zelman, according to the book I'm reading, did not like to make the 2nd Amendment argument, as he believed this was an inalienable right - from God.  And I agree that is what the founders believed too - but I'll submit to the jurisdiction of the Constitution, as I live under its protection... ]

The Supreme Court has ruled that local entities can limit, and have always been able to limit, to some degree, where people may or may not carry.  But I could foresee another ruling - in which Governments (localities) are further limited, with respect to duration and location, in their ability to limit the right to bear arms.  We've already seen that in Heller and McDonald.

Zelman's argument was basic.  Kind of a mutually-assured-destruction that was based on inalienable rights.  I wonder what he felt about nuclear weapons, and say, Iran.  I will have to research that.

On the issue of convicted felons, without getting too much into the weeds, it is my opinion that our prisons, for large swaths of their populations, are too soft and easy.  Its hard for somebody who does not deal with them, or with the inmates to understand - but its just not much of a punishment for some people.  And parole and probation are a joke in America.  I would submit that those be fixed prior to changing our laws regarding convicted felons.  So, while my basic beliefs regarding the right to bear arms have changed, I will still push for prosecution of a felon-in-possession where I believe it applies.


LL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LL said...

Felons don't have the right to vote. (unless you live in Chicago) and I don't have a problem with prohibiting them from owning firearms. They can still own a tomahawk, for example, or a knife, or archery, or a stun gun. They are not prohibited from possessing all weapons. And how easily do knives, ice picks or tomahawks go through soft body armor?

There is a precedence in English Common Law where those who broke fealty and committed capital crimes were prohibited from bearing arms, so it's not a recent thing. Maybe there should be a sunset period written into the law and if you are crime free for ten or twenty years (meaning you didn't get caught), the right could be reinstated?

Your right to vote is never reinstated.

However those to bear fealty to the nation and their fellow men and are fully enfranchised citizens have the right.

And yes, I have a really nice axe too, but a tomahawk is a different breed of cat.

Race Bannon said...

I believe they should have the right to petition a judge to have rights restored, with a hearing attended by the prosecutor and any victims, after serving an appropriate sentence with little to know contact with other inmates, after all probation an parole is fulfilled, and certain conditions are met.

Its one thing for a violent offender, its another for a repentant jewel thief who stole the jewels to pay for his mom's life-saving surgery...or something...

LL said...

That makes sense.

I've always been in favor or allowing people to "work off" their crime rather than locking them up. Picking up trash by the side of the freeway is a trivial example.

The "Sheriff Joe" concept of a jail is more in keeping with my personal philosophy and it's what you alluded to. Prison should be a genuine work camp. You should examine the South Korean concept of incarceration. It's illuminating.

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

I love it when we can ruffle a few feathers.