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Question 38: Gun Control

This guy wants to know what the Democrats have to say about his "baby":

More of Channel '08's CNN/YouTube debate coverage.

By Ed O'Keefe |  July 23, 2007; 9:02 PM ET Debates
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Senator Biden got it right. If that fearsome looking assault weapon is the questioner's baby, he needs help. What is it about this very vocal and politically powerful minority that scares them so much about our society that they're so passionate about weapons? I have a baby. She's a cute five-year-old girl. Out of deference to her, I wouldn't think of having a gun in the house.

Posted by: David C. Nelson | July 23, 2007 10:39 PM

I'm really glad that Democrats make fun of gun owners, especially in very public forums such as tonight so that we can see for ourselves that Democrats talk about supporting the Second Amendment is just that - talk.
Why are we scared? Ever heard of Ruby Ridge, Idaho? Waco Texas? Door-to-door gun confiscation in New Orleans? You think maybe we have reason to be scared? Tonight was a perfect example.

Posted by: Hank | July 23, 2007 11:07 PM

Gun owners who ascribe human characteristics to a machine are disturbed.

I own multiple firearms, and would never refer to these devices as "my babies". In fact, I would avoid those who would, since I suspect they are unhinged.

Fearmongers love to cite the most extreme examples and attempt to pass them off as the norm.

Posted by: Arlo J. Thudpucker | July 23, 2007 11:25 PM

So, what you're saying, Hank, is that you need an assault weapon, such as depicted in the video clip, to protect yourself against you fellow Americans who are trying to enforce the law by serving legitimate warrants.

Yes, I've heard of Ruby Ridge and Waco. Weaver and Korsch chose to barricade themselves, and do so with many non-related people in the case of Waco, instead of surrendering to legitimate authority and casting their lot with our judicial system. Weaver's child should not have been shot, but he shouldn't have put his kid in that position. He should have surrendered.

New Orleans? Yes, I grew up there. As you'll recall, post-Katrina rescue workers were coming under fire. I have no problem with door-to-door confiscation under those circumstances.

Many of my conservative friends who are so passionate about their Second Amendment rights sell themselves, on other issues, as advocates of states rights and local option. They want to overturn Roe v. Wade so as to give state s the right to limit a woman's right to choose. They want states to be free to issue vouchers for use in religions schools.

Why are you so and so many gun advocates so passionately opposed to local option gun laws. If the residents of the City of New York think their circumstances differ than from their fellow citizens in New Mexico, why shouldn't they be free to exercise their local option to make gun laws more stringent?

The gun shown in the clip was a high-rate-of-fire, high muzzle velocity assault rifle with one purpose--kill a lot of people in a short time. It should be up to the citizens of our country to determine if such possession of such weapons are justified.

Posted by: David C. Nelson | July 23, 2007 11:39 PM

you bring up some interesting points. First off the Constitution is not about need, nor is it about hunting. As a matter of fact, one does not need to go hunting in this modern age to survive. I don't want an "assault weapon" to protect myself from "fellow Americans who are trying to enforce the law by serving legitimate warrants", I'm a law abiding citizen - I don't have that fear. And "assault weapon?" By definition, that could mean any number of rifles or pistols used for legitimate sporting purposes.

I find it kind of ironic the way you talk about Waco and Ruby Ridge the way you do, and wonder why gun owners STILL talk about those incidents. Should they have surrendered? Sure. But should an FBI sniper get a medal from Bill Clinton for violating his own department's policies, and shooting an unarmed woman with a baby in her arms? Can you see why gun owners might be a little scared of a Democratic President?

I grew up in Cameron Parish Louisiana, and Louisiana is a very pro-gun state, under a relative pro-gun governor, under a pro-gun president, and the first thing the government did, when it had the chance, was to confiscate firearms - door to door. And there was never any proof that there were rescue workers under fire in New Orleans. See this article from MotherJones.com, hardly a "right wing rag."
Seems like a convenient excuse to me. Can you see why gun owners might be a little scared of a Democratic President?

We are passionate about the second amendment, just as you are probably passionate about abortion, and school vouchers. Why the double standard? If you are allowed to be passionate, why can't I? Why is it always conservatives, espeically gun owners, who have to comprimise thier principles and beliefs?
You bring up another good point about "local option" for gun laws, and yet you would have an "Assault weapon" ban that totally erases "local option" for states like my home state of Louisiana. Huh? Can you see why gun owners might be a little scared of a Democratic President?

The "assault weapon" that was shown was actually purchased during the "Assault Weapons" Ban of 1994 and adhered to every aspect of that lay. It had a fixed stock, no flash supressor, nor did it have a bayonet lug. And yet he was able to purchase it - legally. It is also important to note, that the new AWB that Democratics tried to get passed included rifles that were considered hunting and sporting guns in the 1994 AWB. Can you see why gun owners might be a little scared of a Democratic President?

I agree, citizens' should be able to choose whether those types of weapons are justified. And this citizen, as a hunter, as sports shooter, as a veteren of the military, as the son of a disabled vet, as a law abiding citizen, CHOOSES the freedom that the second amendment provide to me.

And after all these paragraphs, I'll get back to the original issue at hand. Biden's response was sickening to me and just shows how much Democrats loath peaple like me simple because we choose something they don't understand. If I chose with my wife to have a child aborted, we would be heroes. Own a gun Dems don't like, and I'm a man who wants "to protect yourself against you fellow Americans who are trying to enforce the law by serving legitimate warrants." As if all gun owners are criminals. Funny how nobody but gun owners can be sterotyped -
"If that fearsome looking assault weapon is the questioner's baby, he needs help"
"Gun owners who ascribe human characteristics to a machine are disturbed."
"Fearmongers love to cite the most extreme examples and attempt to pass them off as the norm."
"to protect yourself against you fellow Americans who are trying to enforce the law by serving legitimate warrants."
And these statement are from the above comments, from an everday citizen. I can only imagine what goes on in the minds of politicians like Barack Obama, who not only wants to ban "assault weapons", but wants to take it one step further and ban ALL semi-automatic weapons - INCLUDING HUNTING GUNS! Can you see why we are passionate? Can you maybe understand where we are coming from? Can you see why gun owners might be a little scared of a Democratic President?

Together with D.C.'s appeal, McCarthy's new "Assault weapons ban", Hillary and Obama's very public view, and Biden's very public comments, hopefully gun owners will be passionate enough to vote for thier rights in the upcoming election. I know for myself, the more I here Democrats talk about the second amendment, the more I'm scared.

Posted by: Hank | July 24, 2007 9:51 AM


Nobody I know, even my most liberal friends, want to confiscate or prohibit your ownership of a hunting rifle or shotgun, target pistol, or any weapon you legitimately need to carry out you job or reasonably protect your family if you live in a rural area far from police protection.

In fact, most of my far-left friends have either dropped or muted their objection to concealed carry permits, realizing that such licensees receive extensive training to include an obligation to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation before resorting to violence.

It's not these legitimate forms of gun ownership that disturb us. It's being shot that we worry about. When a kid with a history of mental illness can purchase two weapons from different dealers, and ammunition on line, and then use them on his classmates at Virginia Tech, something's seriously wrong with the gun procurement system. When gun rights advocates can only lament that other students weren't carrying guns in order to stop him, there's something wrong with their thought process.

Many of us do indeed question the need for private citizens to own high-rate-of-fire, high -muzzle velocity weapons such as the one depicted on the video. Which animal, other than a two-legged one, did the videographer propose to hunt with his "baby?"

I can only assume that folks who own several such weapons envision some apoplectic confrontation with the authorities. That's the last thing I want to see.

So many gun advocates are set off by our characterization of "assault weapons." What else should we call them? I don't care if your hunting rifle has a flash suppressor or a pistol grip. I do care if its only purpose is to emit a high rate of fire that can overcome several law enforcement officers equipped only with their side arms.

Perhaps you missed the new story about the Iraq veterans who smuggled AK-47s into the country and then used it to rob a bank. With their loan such military-style weapon, they easily had first responders outgunned.


As for the constitution, I have two comments:

First, it has not been definitely settled what the framers meant by the right to bear arms. It would have helped if they could punctuate. Before the recent 2-1 D.C. Circuit Court ruling, eight consecutive federal court decisions had defined the Second Amendment as protecting the right to bear arms as part of a state militia. The matter may be settled in your mind, but it remains unsettled for many of us.

Secondly, whey do fervent Second Amendment advocates fear a Democratic administration for it's potential assault on their favorite part of the constitution, yet so many seem undisturbed by the present Republican administration's assault on the First and Fourth Amendments?

Do warrantless wiretapping, kidnappings, torture, denial of habeas corpus, national security letters, presidential signing statements, and the ability to consult your bookstore and library records without a court order disturb you at all? Why do you conveniently know that one of the FBI snipers at Ruby Ridge received a commendation from President Clinton, while it seems (to me at least) that you're unphased that George Tenet received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bush after behind discredited for providing the false intelligence the administration so desperately sought to justify the invasion of Iraq?

The only answer I can come up with is that gun owners, as represented by the loudest fringe among you, are people filled with fear. You're afraid not only of foreign terrorists, but also of legitimate law enforcement. You're afraid of your fellow citizens as much as you're afraid of outsiders.

What else would justify the guy in the video calling that military-style weapon his "baby?"

Posted by: David C. Nelson | July 24, 2007 2:13 PM

And Yet again, you assume that all gun owners like me are against law enforcement. You are wrong and it shows just how much the left is out of touch with gun owners, and why we are so passionate about the issue. My uncle was a police officer in Norfolk Virginia and he believes the same way I do - if not more.

You, again, assume the Constitution only applies to hunting rifles - wrong again. If there is not a right to own any gun I want, there is no right to own any at all and that includes hunting guns. Did you not know that Barack Obama supports the banning of all SEMI automatic weapons, to include HUNTING guns?

Good point about the AK-47's smuggled in because the AWB would have done nothing to stop it. Even gun control advocates admitted that, at most, only 10% of all crimes were committed by "assault weapons". So that begs a question. If you want to ban 10% of guns used in a crime, what about the other 90%?

Nothing I say to you or any liberal is going to change your opinion, and you are not going to change mine - or my vote for that matter. And though I care about other issues and other parts of the constitution as well, a candidate that believes in the second amendment as I see it, is usually in line with the rest of my beliefs.

And last Mr. Nelson, if you don't know any liberals who want to confiscate guns, let me introduce you to some;

If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them; "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in," I would have done it." , DIANNE FEINSTEIN,

No, we're not looking at how to control criminals ... we're talking about banning the AK-47 and semi-automatic guns." HOWARD METZENBAUM,

" ...we need much stricter gun control, and eventually should bar the ownership of

"Banning guns is an idea whose time has come." JOE BIDEN

"I shortly will introduce legislation banning the sale, manufacture or possession of handguns (with exceptions for law enforcement and licensed target clubs)... . It is time to act. We cannot go on like this. Ban them!" JOHN CHAFEE

"I believe.....this is my final word......I believe that I'm supporting the Constitution of the United States which does not give the right for any individual to own a handgun...." JAN SCHAKOWSKY,

"...I don't believe gun owners have rights." SARA BRADY

"[Handguns] For target shooting, that's okay. Get a license and go to the range. For defense of the home, that's why we have police." JAMES BRADY

We urge passage of federal legislation ... to prohibit ... the private ownership and
possession of handguns." ACLU

"I think there should be a law -- and I know this is extreme -- that no one can have a gun in the U.S. If you have a gun, you go to jail. Only the police should have guns." ROSIE O'DONNELL,

And last but not least........

"No one should have any illusions about what was accomplished (by the ban). Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control." Washington Post editorial, September 15, 1994

I rest my case.

Mr. Nelson, thank you for the civil discussion on an often heated subject.

Have a good day.

Posted by: Hank | July 24, 2007 3:21 PM

No, Hank, I'm not assuming that gun owners aren't in favor of law enforcement--just selective enforcement--as you seem to be selective, by omission, about which parts of the Constitution are sacrosanct.

Please tell me why the Second Amendment, as you read it, is so much more important than the First, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments?

Why is you freedom to own a handgun so much more important than my right to keep my Internet postings and phone calls away from the prying eyes and eavesdropping ears of Bush's gestapo, whose case is so weak that it doesn't seek a search warrant from an impartial judge?

After all, these are the same people you'd be afraid of if there were a Democratic administration.

Are you like Justice Robert Bork, who during his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, maintained there is no constitutional right to privacy?

Why is the principal of habeus corpus, recognized in English common law back to the twelfth century and certainly part of the American tradition since the beginning of our country, able to be stepped on by the Bush Administration without howling outcries by the pro-gun crowd?

You don't want anybody to be able to take your gun away, but if somebody takes YOU away and locks YOU in jail without charges for years on end, isn't that the greater threat to our constitutional liberties?

Why can't your librarian tell you the FBI has been by to check your reading habits? Because she's been served with a National Security Letter, which threatens her with prison if she reveals the purpose of their visit, or even that they showed up in the first place?

I'll bet you'd be up in arms if the FBI, under a Democratic administration, was trying to check on your purchase of ammunition.

Where is the gun-owning crowd when President Bush enacts another Signing Statement, which says he won't enforce a law Congress passed but he doesn't have the guts to veto? Doesn't the Constitution mandate that the executive branch enforce the laws--or only those laws to your or his liking?

What about the constitutional provision against cruel and unusual punishment? Where was the gun-owning crowd when the Army and the CIA were torturing people at Abu Ghraib? Where were the gun nuts when the national media revealed that the CIA kidnapped people and sent them to places like Syria and Egypt for torture?

In fact, Hank, let me pose a challenge to you? Can you name, without consulting a book or the Internet, the FIVE guarantees that the First Amendment assures American citizens?

If you seem to cock sure that the Second Amendment insures private right of gun ownership, rather than just the maintenance of a well-regulated malitia, certainly you can name every component of the First Amendment from memory--without any help.


I'll bet you those dastardly folks you named, who you believe want to take away your right to own a gun, can do as well with their constitutional knowledge as members of the gun nut crowd--who seem to believe the Constitution begins and ends with the Second Amendment.

Posted by: David C. Nelson | July 24, 2007 5:23 PM

Hank, I just reread what I wrote and I'm sorry if I came off sounding personal. For every "can you" assertion I made, please substitute, "can the typical Second Amendment advocate. . . ?"

I do try to be civil, but I'm as passionate about my rights as you seem to be about yours. I fear what's going on under this Republican administration as fervently as you seem to be afraid of what the next Democratic administration might bring.

We both seem to love our Constitution, but seem to emphasize different parts of it.

Posted by: David C. Nelson | July 24, 2007 5:32 PM

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