Guns and Democracy

The intent of the second amendment right to bear arms has come under debate since health reform protesters showed up with guns at town hall meetings last month. We asked Joshua Horwitz, a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, for his interpretation. Horwitz and Casey Anderson are authors of "Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea," published in April by the University of Michigan Press.

GUEST BLOGGER: Joshua Horwitz

Many Americans were disturbed by the sight of protesters carrying guns to town hall meetings across the country. How have we reached the point where individuals feel the need to engage in such shows of force? The truth is that the seeds of armed political activism in the United States were planted years ago by the gun lobby.


"The Nations's Gun Show" in Chantilly, Va., last July. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

In the 1990s, the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations realized that their traditional constituency of hunters and recreational shooters was shrinking. New members were needed, and the gun lobby began to reach out to Americans who fear the federal government and seek to keep it weak in order to ensure individual liberty. This effort attracted mainstream actors (i.e., Republicans, Libertarians, anti-tax advocates), but also some dangerous, underground elements (i.e., militias, white supremacists, survivalists, etc.).

The new formula worked well until Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. At that point, Americans began to look at the NRA's caustic rhetoric with disapproval.

The NRA needed an image upgrade, and it got one with the "Vote Freedom First" campaign. Preaching about basic American values like "freedom" and "patriotism" allowed the NRA to talk in code to a radical audience.

Additionally, the NRA's million-dollar endowment at George Mason University Law School became the center of an effort by right wing academics to define the Second Amendment as an individual right that was designed to give American gun owners a recourse against government "tyranny." These ideas were repeated constantly in the echo chamber of gun shows, trade magazines and Internet message boards.

For eight years of the George W. Bush administration, the lid was kept on this pressure cooker of anti-government angst. During 2008, however, that lid was removed. In June of that year, the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court accepted the NRA's insurrectionist premise, stating that organized state militias were not enough to resist federal tyranny -- individuals must also be armed and prepared.

The NRA then launched a $15 million campaign to discredit progressive presidential candidate Barack Obama, the centerpiece of which was a website called GunBanObama.

Obama was elected president despite this campaign, and has sought to make good on promises to institute a national health care system. Prominent in this debate was a discussion about a potential public option. The resistance to government's role in health care included not only hecklers at town hall meetings, but also individuals who were showing up at these events with guns.

What these protesters have in common is a belief that the Obama administration is already tyrannical. Chris Broughton, who brought an AR-15 assault rifle to the president's speech in Phoenix, announced, "we will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote."

The purpose of "Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea" is not to criminalize individuals like Chris Broughton or stifle debate over the role of government in America. Rather, the book seeks to educate average Americans about the dangers of a cavalier attitude towards insurrectionism and political violence.

The next time an angry protester calls for the blood of tyrants, we should remember that our country's founding was a revolution in favor of government. If we value the remarkable system of government our Founders bequeathed to us, we must reject the notion that the guys with guns make the rules and defend our democratic institutions -- peacefully but determinedly -- against attacks by those who would dismantle them.


By Steven E. Levingston |  October 6, 2009; 5:30 AM ET Politics , Steven Levingston
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Comments

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Mr. Horwitz. I cannot disagree strongly enough with your op-ed. This is not about the crazies. These are regular Americans who have gotten tired of the gun-prohibitionists trying to take away their 2nd Amendment rights. For all of the talk from the left for "reasonable gun regulations", all of those proposed regulations are the historical "slippery slope" towards abrogating our rights to keep and bear arms. This right is important not merely to hunters and sportsmen, but also to people who wish to be able to effectively defend themselves against violent criminals. You worry about people who fear a tyrannical government. Stop pushing the reason for their fears, and the fact that they own firearms will not be a problem. And yes, an armed society is a polite society and ultimately protects the rights of all. BTW, Chris Broughton was a black man, though his race was carefully edited out of many mainstream media broadcasts....

Posted by: honorswar26 | October 6, 2009 11:54 AM

An armed society is a polite society?

Utter rubbish. America is armed to the teeth and ruder than just about any nation.

Gov't regulations are necessary for the well-regulated (it's even in the constitution - for those who are confused) militia. Slippery slope, my ass. It's called intelligence - completely missing from National Machine Gun Association members.

Everbody on earth, except for the American right, knows that the guns are why our murder rate is at least ten times higher than civilized (some might say, polite) society.

Posted by: bflorhodes | October 6, 2009 12:03 PM

there are two main differences between the US and other industrialized countries: we have the worst health care system of the bunch as well as the most guns per capita. just a coincidence?

Posted by: eomcmars | October 6, 2009 12:28 PM

bflorhodes,

More research on your part and you will realize that "well-regulated" meant "well trained"! Now we know who is confused!

In your spare time, you may wish to read "More Guns, Less Crime" and get your facts straight.

Posted by: befuddled | October 6, 2009 12:29 PM

honorswar26, you're afraid of encountering "violent criminals" at a town hall, or a Presidential appearance?

Keep it up and we'll see how your AR15 fairs against the Secret Service's UZI's and MP5's. Either way, the nation loses.

Posted by: GregCleveland | October 6, 2009 12:33 PM

"The next time an angry protester calls for the blood of tyrants, we should remember that our country's founding was a revolution in favor of government. If we value the remarkable system of government our Founders bequeathed to us, we must reject the notion that the guys with guns make the rules and defend our democratic institutions -- peacefully but determinedly -- against attacks by those who would dismantle them."

No, it was a revolution against a certain type of government that relied on autocratic, central control of its subjects, in favor of a radically different government that derived its authority from the consent of the governed--the people.

That seems to me to be a rather basic error, Mr. Horwitz.

Posted by: JoeSchmoe06 | October 6, 2009 12:48 PM

Guns don't kill people. They just make it easy and fun.

Posted by: hayesap8 | October 6, 2009 12:49 PM

It's no use arguing with anti-gunners. There "minds" are made up and FACTS won't disabuse them of their wrongheaded notions. So I'll just say I have a RIGHT, guaranteed, not "granted", by the Constitution and confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, to keep and bear arms. Don't like it? TOUGH. And with the current socialist-wannabee Congress and pResident trying to seize control of more and more of the economy, we, the citizens, will need that RIGHT as much in the future as patriots needed that RIGHT in 1776.

Posted by: Fiftycaltx1 | October 6, 2009 1:11 PM

eomcmars

I wish you would explain if we have the worst health care system of all industrialized nations, why people come to the U.S. for treatment instead of Americans traveling to those other industrialized nations to be treated.

Posted by: vssapresident | October 6, 2009 1:23 PM

What do you get when you take a liberal educated Columnist, add in a pinch truth, a whole lot of bias and the rest ignorance and failure to perform even basic research into topics?

The result is this drivel written by Joshua Horwitz and teven E. Levingston...

... I would have thought that two heads were better than one... but apparently we all were wrong...

Posted by: indep2 | October 6, 2009 1:26 PM

Where in your quaint little constitution does it mention the right to create private armies?

This is what has happened. Think of Blackwater (Xe) or the quantity of well armed troops disguised as "security" around any rich person. Or, an army that can be used for an insurrection is NOT part of any rights that I have heard of.

It is all very well to talk of "protecting" yourself or others against the Federal Government, but at what point does that simply become a criminal act designed to avoid responsibilty (like paying taxes?)?

Posted by: Stonebird | October 6, 2009 1:26 PM

Very interesting piece, and spot-on. These guys who carry guns out to political events and intimidate others with their shows of force are indeed degrading our democracy. For reference, look up how our Founders dealt with these types of thugs during Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion. They did not hesitate to act. Hopefully, the Obama administration will draw a line at some point, too.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 6, 2009 1:35 PM

bflorhodes wrote:
"Everbody on earth, except for the American right, knows that the guns are why our murder rate is at least ten times higher than civilized (some might say, polite) society."

All you have to do is look at the murder rate in DC and the surrounding MD and VA counties. The difference shows that prohibiting guns just does not work.

What proof do you offer that shows gun control worked in the USA, surely not Chicago?

Posted by: ahashburn | October 6, 2009 1:46 PM

Virginia and Maryland are the source of 1 out of every 2 guns used in crimes in the District, so that argument is hogwash. Criminals aren't exploiting D.C. or Chicago's laws to get guns, they exploit weak laws outside these cities.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 6, 2009 1:59 PM

Mr. Horwitz: You are entitled to your opinions, but not your own set of facts. Gun owners are not all anti-government crazies huddled in trailers waiting to shoot it out with the hovering black helicopters. Me and my gun-owning friends are professionals including physicians, lawyers, engineers, government employees, police officers, teachers, and technicians. We don't see an opportunity to kill our fellow man at the first provocation. Rather, we enjoy our unique right to hunt for food if we wish, to punch holes in targets as a test of our eye-hand coordination, and if absolutely necessary protect ourselves and our families. As you well know -- and your side often fails to recognize this -- the police do not have a legal duty to protect you or anyone else. They can stop it if they get there in time, but if they don't, oh well. This is not a right-wing fantasy, it's the law of the land, laid down by the United States Supreme Court.

Your tortured effort to paint every gun owner as a redneck domestic terrorist is insulting. Further, it does not befit an academic, a person who is supposed to find truth through scholarship. You are hostage to your prejudices, which taints everything you write and say. You bend facts to suit your ends. Shameful

Posted by: sheehanjc | October 6, 2009 2:11 PM

So what if VA and MD and SC and whereall are the source of guns for DC? DC is where they're used to kill people; if easy access to guns were a problem then VA and MD would rank as high as DC, but they don't.

Posted by: ronjaboy | October 6, 2009 2:14 PM

Just remember, regardless of who is in power when they try to take guns away from Americans, I hope they brace themselves for the fact that we will all turn them in... Bullets first.

And remember, anything the US military has, private citizens also have by bringing it back home from the wars overseas throughout the years. I don't think firepower to defend ourselves from a Tyrannical Government is a problem at this point.

Posted by: indep2 | October 6, 2009 2:16 PM

Mr. Horowitz,
You mistakenly say that we are a Democracy. That is not true. A Democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep deciding on what to have for dinner.
We actually live in a Representative Republic. That is 2 wolves and a sheep armed with a 12 gauge shotgun deciding what is for dinner. You better learn the difference pretty quick.

Posted by: Dionysis | October 6, 2009 2:31 PM

Actually, if you look at cities like Richmond, Virginia, you will see gun death rates similar to D.C.

And sheehannjc, Mr. Horwitz never refers to all gun owners in his piece, he refers specifically to individuals who carry guns at political events and blatant insurrectionists like indep2 above. He never suggests these individuals represent a majority of gun owners (or even a large minority).

Posted by: gritsjr | October 6, 2009 2:33 PM

This is embarrassing. The NRA began its shift in focus toward rights immediately after the Gun Control Act was passed in 1968 and got serious after the Cincinnati convention in 1977 -- not coincidentally Carter's first year in office.
As for the Revolution, it was in favor of a certain FORM of government, one that was, and should be, inherently self-limiting. A lot of Americans understand that distinction, and are therefore understandably upset.

Posted by: daskinner | October 6, 2009 3:08 PM

first to vssapresident:

Prove we have the best health care system with facts. Rich people do come here to get health care because we do have some of the best technology. But it's not available to everyone here. There's an article in this paper today citing actual facts that shows we are failing as a nation with regard to health care.

Secondly, there is another article soon to be out in the American Journal of Public Health that directly contradicts the assertion that more guns equals fewer crimes.

Posted by: pippsk | October 6, 2009 3:08 PM

American's seem to forget that the NRA is all about the bottom line, but wraps itself in the 2nd amendment. Many of their avid followers seem to forget one thing-we are a country of law and lawyers.

The normal family of hunters and firearm enthusiast are proud Americans with a sense of love of family and country.

Once you move over to the "crazies" (those who stroke and sleep with the gun and believe every conspiracy theory invented), dangerous people. They have absolutely zero respect for America. Most are out and out racist and need some degree of help from a mental health professional. I am sure they slobber when listening to the Hannity,Beck, Limbaugh anti-America rhetoric shoveled across the airwaves each day.

This group of crazy, anti-American,racist people congergate in one geographical area of the country. They take great pride in blasting Obama and the Government but don't have a clue about reality-but one day they will.

When they fire on purpose or accidentially ,that weapon they love and wound or kill another person they will be introduced to one lawsuit after another.

They have NO insurance and will loose everything they have, even their lovely weapon, their house,car,job family and their freedom.

I am former military and 35 years a sworn law enforcement officer. I have a total of 17 guns and enjoy target shooting. Only an insane crack pot would take a firearm to a public event, especially when the President is present.

The NRA can take full credit for calling ATF Agents "Jack Boot Naziz's", to the NRA now being composed of Jack Boot Nazi's.

Whatever happened to respect and love of country and people?

Posted by: COWENS99 | October 6, 2009 3:12 PM

I am fascinated by, and, a long time collector of edged weapons and guns. I quit the NRA before President Bush Sr. did because what was once an organization of sportsmen, hunters and geezers like me who admired beautiful old zebra-striped stocks of Kentucky percussion rifles, had become DOMINATED by Waco David/ Paramilitary/ Far Right/ Survivalist/ White Supremacy Trash.

My last visit to a gun show (Houston). No cameras allowed. A white trash country flour sack dressed woman selling pamphlets on "How to Extract Information" (hanging by thumbs, etc.). Brass Knuckles being sold as "paperweights" to dodge their illegality.
Red flags with "Clinton" and a hammer and sickle printed on them. AND . . . Most disturbing of ALL - - - A GROWN MIDDLE AGE MAN IN BERET AND CAMOFLAUGE SHOWING A VIDEOTAPE ON HOW TO CONVERT A 12 GAUGE SEMI-AUTO SHOTGUN INTO A BELT-FED MACHINE GUN.

Even idiots SHOULD realize that the NRA is now an extremely powerful organization ruled by Aryan Nation/KKK/Survivalists/Far Right Extremists NUTS!
Yep, I'm also a Vet!

Posted by: lufrank1 | October 6, 2009 3:12 PM

daskinner, the U.S. Constitution was drafted for the express purpose of STRENGTHENING the federal government. The Founders realized that the central government was to weak under the Articles of Confederation to protect individual freedom. This is why George Washington, during his Farewell Address, said, "The Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government." 'Nuff said.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 6, 2009 3:46 PM

Hey Gritsjr

The more you post, the more I am convinced you work for the administration or you simply never finished High School.

Your depth of knowledge of constitutional law and the thoughts of our Founding Fathers is astoundingly inaccurate and borderline negligence.

I recommend you wait until you can research a little more in books that contain facts before trying to sound smart about it..

Posted by: indep2 | October 6, 2009 4:05 PM

Gee, too bad 'shortsighted' Libs like Joshua can't realize what his Israeli brothers realize - that when you're amongst 'Terrorists' - in our case Crips, Bloods, Disciples, etc. vs. Israel & Hamas, PLO, etc.)- you don't disarm !!!

And any 3rd grader can see crime rising & Police being laid off - as a CLEAR SIGNAL to BUY GUNS & AMMO - as Obama's Rich & Poor economy destroys the middle-class that Obama's Serf-like policies are hurting the most - as gun owners for the most part are (were?) 'middle-class' America.

So now, we have Democrats - who by & far make up the largest users of illegal street drugs - which fuels MOST of U.S. gun Crime - in lieu of Libertarian ideas to tax drugs - crying that Gun dealers & Gun Shows are causing all the misuse of guns - that really starts with the CASH Dems & other Libs use when they buy illegal drugs!

But that's TOO MUCH 'REALITY' for the Libs - as it sounds better to blame the Gun Industry - when Semi-Auto AK-47's wholesale for over $500 & Hugo Chavez & other weapons suppliers can supply cartels & drug dealers with FULLY AUTOMATIC AK-47's for less than HALF the price of so-called 'Semi-Auto' Assault Weapons sold legally in the U.S.!!!

Posted by: AK47WorldDotCom | October 6, 2009 4:26 PM

Also to the guy lufrank above who quit the NRA over his 'ILLUSION' that the 2nd Amendment is somehow about 'Duck Hunting'...

Hey lufrank & others with your leftist media inspired KKK bogeyman conspiracies - you need to read the 2nd Amendment (if you're not too 'anal') & the Supreme Court decisions around it (i.e. - U.S. v Miller 1939, etc) to see that the 2nd AMENDMENT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HUNTING WHATSOEVER !!!

And if you READ CLOSELY what the Supreme Court said - that the 2nd Amendment ONLY PROTECTS 'Militia Weapons' & guess what those weapons are called today Boys & Girls - 'Assault Weapons'!!!

DDDDuuuuuhhhhhh & they're for opposing Tyranny - like 'FORCED' Vaccinations (with white coats being provided for effect...) & oppressive taxes - while TARP pays off the 'Fat Cats' - while others starve!!!

Besides, we all can't afford $6,000 custom shotguns & hanging out at prestigious hunting clubs - like you phony 'country-club' patriots!!!

Posted by: AK47WorldDotCom | October 6, 2009 4:39 PM

Mr. Horwitz:
Your words are flatly defamatory.

Mr. Levinsgon:
Shame on you for trumping up the "context" for Josh's hysteria and vile. The intent of the 2A has NOT come under debate since some health reform protesters have carried guns.

Josh Horwitz' intent is to cast guns and gun owners in a negative light. His organization may have renamed itself from the Coalition to Ban Handguns, but its intent remains. Now that courts and legislatures have refused to ban handguns, Josh resorts to distortion, defamation, and vilification of his fellow Americans.

I can play your game. Josh Horwitz, you are a liar and a coward.

Posted by: ambiguae | October 6, 2009 4:46 PM

The actual truth is that the seeds of armed political activism in the United States were planted years ago by the original founders of this country.
The original 2nd amendment, talks to this armed political "activism" in best securing a free country.

"That right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."

The NRA did not instill the fear of a tyrannical government in the people, The founding fathers had that fear, and this thought is now being felt by more and more americans. I think most americans have no interest in shedding the blood of anyone, but the thought of an entire populace being armed keeps all government in check.

Your statment that the supremen court "accepted the NRA's insurrectionist premise" is both moronic and ignores the facts the the founding fathers wanted to guarantee the right of individuals to keep and bear arms both for protection from federal tyranny and self defense

Posted by: mydavis1201 | October 6, 2009 5:19 PM

The actual truth is that the seeds of armed political activism in the United States were planted years ago by the original founders of this country.
The original 2nd amendment, talks to this armed political "activism" in best securing a free country.

"That right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."

The NRA did not instill the fear of a tyrannical government in the people, The founding fathers had that fear, and this thought is now being felt by more and more americans. I think most americans have no interest in shedding the blood of anyone, but the thought of an entire populace being armed keeps all government in check.

Your statment that the supremen court "accepted the NRA's insurrectionist premise" is both moronic and ignores the facts the the founding fathers wanted to guarantee the right of individuals to keep and bear arms both for protection from federal tyranny and self defense

Posted by: mydavis1201 | October 6, 2009 5:37 PM

If the government ever got serious about taking away our guns, they'd raid the NRA offices in Fairfax. They'd confiscate member lists and get the locations of millions of weapons.

Anyone worried about his guns would be crazy to be part of the NRA.

Posted by: MAL9000 | October 7, 2009 8:27 AM

mydavis1201: Well stated. Its nice to see others out there with a grasp of the intent of founding a new nation where people had inalienable rights established under law.

MAL9000: Raiding the NRA would be like trying to rob a Gun Store... You may get away with some items, but in the end the perp is always tracked down, arrested and brought to justice or simply "disappears".

I would suspect that sort of action by the government would be tantamount to declaring war on all gun owners... Thus officially Tyrannical...

1+1=?

Posted by: indep2 | October 7, 2009 10:52 AM

Massachusetts' onetime Revolutionary agitator, Samuel Adams said in regard to Shays's Rebellion::

"Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."

I doubt that Adams, or many of the other "patriots" of his ilk would side with the gun toting protestors. In fact, they would strongly condemn them.

General George Washington wrote about Shays's Rebellion that:

"I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country... What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious."

Shays's Rebellion was an influential during the Constitutional drafting process and inspired the language "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" in the preamble.

Amazingly enough, only one crime is mentioned in the Constitution and that is treason mentioned in Article III, Section iii which is defined as: "shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

Perhaps these constitutional defenders should bone up on what they are defending as they obviously have no concept of what the Constitution actually says about rebellion.

Posted by: jcmb | October 7, 2009 11:00 AM

The problem with your argument (though valid in its own right) is that those statements were made during a time before our political system was perverted.

Go back to your history books for early 1900 and see what happened to change our course.

Posted by: indep2 | October 7, 2009 11:33 AM

Thank you Josh Horwitz for this illuminating blog. You hit a nerve and the rhetoric is, as usual, angry and mean and downright scary. Some of the responders don't believe in Democracy and then call those of us working to prevent gun violence anti-constitution. And then from one of the responders,: "Mr. Horwitz. I cannot disagree strongly enough with your op-ed. This is not about the crazies. These are regular Americans who have gotten tired of the gun-prohibitionists trying to take away their 2nd Amendment rights." If the folks that write in and the ones with the guns at town hall meetings and presidential events are regular Americans, our country is in deep trouble. These are not regular Americans. In fact, regular Americans do not agree with the extreme rhetoric of the NRA. Rather, in every poll taken, they agree with Mr. Horwitz and others, like myself, that reasonable gun laws are necessary to prevent "regular Americans" from being shot to death in great numbers on a daily basis. I am sick of the extreme rhetoric and name calling. As someone working on a local, state and national level to stop the shootings, I am also tired of people saying that I have evil intentions. No one is going to take any guns away- that is patently false and plays right into the fears that Josh Horwitz wrote about. He is right and I thank him. The majority is with him but our elected leaders are still too afraid of the all powerful NRA to vote with the majority. I am going to do my best to change that.

Posted by: aggie2 | October 7, 2009 12:07 PM

Thanks for your comment, jcmb. When one reviews the Founders' response to Shay's Rebellion and other domestic rioting in the period just before the Constitution was written, it becomes patently obvious that they never would have endorsed an individual right to insurrection against a "tyrannical" government. Heck, protesters at these heath care town halls have been chanting "TYRANNY!" at the top of their lungs and you can see the views of the insurrectionists commenting here. You pointed out that treason is defined as a crime punishable by death in our constitution. You might also note that the stated purpose of those "well regulated Militias" was to SUPPRESS insurrections (not foment them) as stated in Article 1, Section 8. Those preaching this insurrectionist ideology are traitors, plain and simple, or as George Washington called them in a proclamation regarding the Whiskey Rebellion, "insurgents." And thank you aggie2, for your work. When more act like you do, we will live in a saner, safer society.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 7, 2009 12:55 PM

Mr. Horwitz,

You need to expand your sources of news beyond the mainstream media. You do know that no one brought guns to the town meetings nor within the safety radius of the President, correct?

So, why did you write, "Many Americans were disturbed by the sight of protesters carrying guns to town hall meetings across the country."?

However, these people did get their "wrong place, wrong time" message across thanks to the less than honest media and the sheeple who trust in them.

Posted by: bandofotters | October 7, 2009 2:01 PM

Actually, there were documented instances of people carrying firearms into town hall meetings, including:

http://leftwingcracker.blogspot.com/2009/08/cohens-town-hall-meeting-went-well.html

http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/printDS/304149

And these, are course, are just the ones we know about. At many town hall meetings, participants were not physically searched, and concealed handguns would not have been visible.

As for your "safety radius" comment, it is subjective. Most rational people believe that a man walking around with a loaded AR-15 directly across the street from where the president is speaking is way too close for comfort.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 7, 2009 2:57 PM

You're welcome gritsjr.

I am not sure if indep2 is commenting on my post, but the legal analysis is as valid as when the Constitution was ratified. If anything, it has become clearer that it is not valid.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a qualified rejection of the insurrection theory. According to the Court in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, 71 S. Ct. 857, 95 L. Ed. 1137 (1951), "[W]hatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a 'right' to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change." Scholars have interpreted this to mean that as long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, private citizens have no right to take up arms against the government.

Another poster placed an early version of the Second Amendment which pointed out its military purpose. A good example of this is the version used in by Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia which pointed out the issue was standing armies, not personal ownership of firearms outside of the militia institution.

"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination, to, and governed by, the civil power"

No where in the Second Amendment is the phrase "self-defense".

Any lawyer worth his salt will tell you that if something isn't mentioned in a law, it isn't covered.

Posted by: jcmb | October 7, 2009 3:07 PM

I meant to say the insurrection theory is not valid.

Posted by: jcmb | October 7, 2009 3:13 PM

We see gritsjr's use of Article 1 Section. 8., lol, and the even funnier jcmbs followup referring to Article III, section iii.

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

But what gritsjr and jcmb forgot was to include the Insurrection Act of 1807, see #1 , which qualifies WHAT is considered an insurrection/rebellion!

333. Interference with State and Federal law

The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—

(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
(2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
In any situation covered by clause (1), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.

Read this real carefully gritsjr and jcmb as per the constitution, unless we are breaking the law and the state cant control the "violence", then by what manner will we who are currently exercising our first amendment right to call the HR 3200 Health reform bill a piece of doggie doo be prosecuted for treason gritsjr or jcmb?

Oh that's right, that statement of treason was based on an unfounded and unsupported by law opinion of a minority.

So all your position that we who protest against the governments actions (OH HEAVEN FORBID) are treasonous was is your lame pathetic attempt to demonize your opponents, a tactic that is straight out of noted socialist activist Saul Alinsky's playbook!

Besides, you really should qualify what insurrection and the varying levels are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurrection when in August 2009 almost 50% of the people polled have a problem with the fabulously crafted HR 3200 Reform bill!

Posted by: Outzide | October 7, 2009 6:02 PM

"...the dangers of a cavalier attitude towards insurrectionism and political violence."

Cavalier attitude? When one of Obama's assistant cabinet secretaries has made the overt statement that capitalism must be dismantled in the United States and a structure based upon socialism put in its place? Do you think that his position was merely ignored in his appointment?

Cavalier, my ass.

Listen, you dolt: Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants to go to the mattresses. But, as the DoI states clearly, when a "Long Train of Abuses and Usurpations" becomes evident, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish, by force, their government, and replace it with one that WILL protect Liberty.

This is not "cavalier", my friend. It is DEAD SERIOUS, and painfully thought through to its valid conclusion.

And, contrary to your aversion that the "2nd Amendment phenomenon" occurred under the NRA's watch, it was deliberately interwoven into our founding fabric, and for the first 150 years of our history, the right to keep and bear arms was NEVER in question. That only changed with FDR and his blackmail of SCOTUS, who substituted expansionist interpretations of clear, limited language and made progressive judicial precedent a surrogate for rote Constitutional restrictions.

You can try to revise history, but to properly educated Americans, our history will stand, unmolested. And, they will be armed. And, rest assured, they will be EXTREMELY reluctant to exercise the nuclear option, but if the statists refuse to respect the Constitution's intended purpose and proceed to trample us underfoot, they will be FORCED to.

May God help us all, and may God continue to bless America.

Posted by: teebone | October 7, 2009 7:14 PM

jemb, you wrote:

"Scholars have interpreted this to mean that as long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, private citizens have no right to take up arms against the government."

Well, according to the Declaration of Independence, they are wrong.

To wit: "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hat shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security."

The abolition of liberty under free-market capitalism with the intent of substituting centralized control under socialism is PRECISELY "a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism", as has been historically proved by ever single example of socialist states, including ostensibly 'benign' democracies such as the Europeans, who enforce abominable, suffocating regulations on their people.

I.e., if the "long Train of Abuses and Usurpations" is egregious enough, the right is validated.

Your serve.

Posted by: teebone | October 7, 2009 8:33 PM

Thanks for the fresh venue...yet another place for everyone to twist words to serve their agenda.

I am 35, post grad work, 100K+, married, family, law abiding, active in local schools, church, and volunteer work......

I AM THE NRA.

I am a proud member of the NRA, have been for years and will continue as long as fringe segments of society work to infringe on my rights.

What level of absurdity have we reached when a law abiding citizen carrying a firearm is seem as a threat?

Posted by: yourneighbor | October 7, 2009 9:10 PM

P.S. -

jemb, you wrote:

"Scholars have interpreted this to mean that as long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, private citizens have no right to take up arms against the government."

The scholars have it a bit mixed up. As long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, there is no authority to suspend habeas corpus and declare martial law.

Posted by: teebone | October 7, 2009 9:21 PM

You've got to love the blogs that Mr. Horwitz writes because the insane, conspiracy-laced comments make his case about the dangers of insurrectionism better than his own writing.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 7, 2009 10:19 PM

Mr. Horowitz, you seem to have touched a nerve with some of the pro-gun types, judging by some of the rather hysterical comments. The very premise of your book seems to have gotten lost: "seeks to educate average Americans about the dangers of a cavalier attitude towards insurrectionism and political violence."

What exactly ARE the pro-gunners trying to achieve, if not to intimidate those who might not agree with their extremist views? Nearly 30,000 people per year are killed by gunfire each year. Another 64,000 are injured yearly. (full disclosure, my own mother was murdered by a mentally ill man who was able to legally purchase a handgun, in 2001).

But somehow those deaths and injuries (the consequences of which are paid for by taxpayers - victims of violent crimes get a free funeral... Thanks tax payers!) - somehow that is worth it so that some crazies can show up at public forums with assault weapons.

If we're not going to install some reasonable control measures, at very least I think that whoever feels the need to own such weapons should be required to also buy insurance. That way, when that weapon kills or injures someone - they are liable, and can pay restitution, instead of it falling on taxpayers.

Posted by: njtejada | October 7, 2009 11:29 PM

to 'yourneighbor' - "I AM THE NRA.

I am a proud member of the NRA, have been for years and will continue as long as fringe segments of society work to infringe on my rights.

What level of absurdity have we reached when a law abiding citizen carrying a firearm is seem as a threat?"

Let me answer that. When people show up to crowded public gatherings with weapons that can kill masses of people, or while wearing t-shirts with threatening messages - that is threatening. That is an undeniable threat. It's probably less threatening to the speakers at the event than for those of us who show up for a peaceful protest, who might actually have different views.

Look - the NRA is a fine organization. If they would stick to being the national RIFLE association, they wouldn't be seen as being so far out of the mainstream. I am all for allowing people to own rifles, for hunting purposes or whatever. If people wanted to own the types of weaponry that were available in 1776, that would be fine too.

But it is a matter of time before some mentally unstable person takes the rhetoric on Fox News to heart (Obama is a muslim, not one of us, communist, socialist, nazi, baby killer, hates white culture, trying to destroy america, etc.) and decides to 'do' something about it. It has happened before....

Posted by: njtejada | October 7, 2009 11:42 PM

This is my last post... so all you pro-gunners, have at me. But just wanted to leave you with this graphic:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2007/04/21/weekinreview/20070422_MARSH_GRAPHIC.html

Roughly 81 people are shot to death each day. This chart breaks it down by race, gender and age. A large number are actually suicides - so try to keep your chin up, 'yourneighbor', 'teebone' and the rest of yuz. Suicide is not the answer...

Posted by: njtejada | October 8, 2009 12:02 AM

since njtejada won't be here to read this, maybe i should save my breath....but hey, it's a forum right?

I think you have hit the nail on the head in at least 2 of your posts...our country woefully underfunds and thereby undertreats mental illness. Existing laws prohibit those with mental illness from purchasing firearms. ( I know, this is where some of you say - that law doesn't work...we need MORE/DIFFERENT/BETTER laws - ease up genious...laws work against those that follow the law. Criminals don't follow laws people.)

sorry to hear of your loss.

for those interested, reach out to your local NAMI group and do something about Mental Illness. www.nami.org

Posted by: yourneighbor | October 8, 2009 12:43 AM

You are exactly right, yourneighbor. However, do background checks prevent someone who is on antidepressants from purchasing firearms? I'm actually asking because I don't know the answer. Anyone know? If that's the case... half of America would be prohibited from buying them, I think (or would forgo needed treatment).

Also, unfortunately, we sometimes don't find out the extend of the mental illness until it's too late and they've walked in to Ray's Sporting Goods Store in Wichita Kansas (since closed), and purchased a handgun on the spot.. just as an example. Instant Background Checks can detect if someone has committed a crime in the past, but how to detect if someone is unstable? I'm not asking this to be provocative, I actually just want to know.

But thanks for the NAMI link. Ok - now I am done. I promise. ;-)

Posted by: njtejada | October 8, 2009 1:26 AM

Actually, the federal disqualifications for mental illness in terms of purchasing firearms are incredibly narrow. Only people who have been INVOLUNTARILY committed to a mental institution or who have been adjudicated as "mental defectives" (an outdated term) are prohibited from buying firearms. Even for people who are mentally ill and have received treatment, few fall under these two categories. And the states have only forwarded 10% of those records to the federal background check database maintained by the FBI. But, of course, most mentally ill people in our society never get treatment for their illness in the first place.

Posted by: gritsjr | October 8, 2009 11:17 AM

That's what I thought... Anyway, if any criminal or mentally ill person wants to avoid the background check, and purchase a gun hassle free, all they have to do is this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQEDvqmAfqg&feature=player_embedded

Posted by: njtejada | October 8, 2009 12:23 PM

That's what I thought... Anyway, if any criminal or mentally ill person wants to avoid the background check, and purchase a gun hassle free, all they have to do is this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQEDvqmAfqg&feature=player_embedded

Posted by: njtejada | October 8, 2009 12:24 PM

That's what I thought. Anyway, if anyone (criminal, mentally ill or otherwise) wants to purchase a gun hassle free, all they need to do is attend a gun show apparently.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQEDvqmAfqg&feature=player_embedded

Posted by: njtejada | October 8, 2009 12:26 PM

oops - I didn't mean to post three times... technical issues.

Posted by: njtejada | October 8, 2009 12:28 PM

The NRA and Republican party has promoted a paranoid message of hatred and fear, inspiring every wacko this side of the equator to go out and purchase his weapons of choice. The angry, the unemployed, the alcoholics, the skinheads, the mentally ill have heeded their call. The second amendment has been distorted into an authorization to carry and kill on a whim, with the gun industry profit margin growing with every human life lost. We die, they make money, and that's the ugly truth of it.

We are all endangered, not from terrorists across the seas, but from America's own homegrown crazies now armed to the teeth. God help our children. We are a civilization destroying itself, with a government afraid to stop it the madness.

Posted by: MichelleH | October 8, 2009 6:26 PM

If the Supreme Court decides McDonald v. Chicago in favor of the plaintiff, our country will be a bit different.

For a preview, see:

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/the-armed-american/

Posted by: MikeLicht | October 8, 2009 7:17 PM

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