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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 10:38 AM

Semantics for progressives (how to avoid getting side tracked)

Look, I support many of the various progressive positions on gun control. But people are using extremely imprecise language and it leads to thread drift as the gun enthusiasts get all pedantic.

Semi-automatic: Most guns are semi-automatics. A few target rifles, and alot of shotguns aren't, but virtually all handguns and I'd guess "most" rifles are. All it means is that a fresh round is loaded in the chamber as part of the firing process. It's not really all that much different from a revolver (six shooter) except those tend to (but not all) position the next round as part of the trigger pulling process, instead of after.

Automatic weapons: They are already "illegal". Well, they are highly controlled and you need a federal license to own one. They aren't all that common although you can usually find a gun range around that has one you can fire (for a fee, they go through ammo fast too, which usually ain't cheap).

Assault Weapon: This one really riles the gun enthusiasts. It is an expression that was created by the gun control lobby as part of the '94 bill. (Kinda like "partial birth abortion" was created by the anti-abortion crowd). There are "assault rifles" but they weren't what was banned. Truth is, it is very hard to determine if the Bushmaster was an assault weapon because the legal definition was so tortured. I believe Feinstein has made some attempt this time around to improve on the definition. But the truth is if you are calling for their ban, you probably don't actually know what you are asking for. Some lobbyists and legislators probably do, but very few other people actually know (including alot of gun enthusiasts).

Assault Weapons Ban Effectiveness: Several academic studies have attempted to determine what effect, if any, they '94 ban had. They can't find anything. One can jump to false conclusions from that result, but none the less there isn't alot of data to indicate any particular kind of effect (other than maybe increasing the value of the "grandfathered" weapons).

The sad part is of course that little of this has any real bearing on the "discussion" we're suppose to be having. But it does tend to derail a discussion that is easily derailed to begin with.

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Arrow 40 replies Author Time Post
Reply Semantics for progressives (how to avoid getting side tracked) (Original post)
zipplewrath Dec 2012 OP
OneGrassRoot Dec 2012 #1
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #7
OneGrassRoot Dec 2012 #9
daleanime Dec 2012 #2
jody Dec 2012 #5
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #10
jody Dec 2012 #11
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #14
jody Dec 2012 #15
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #16
jody Dec 2012 #17
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #18
jody Dec 2012 #19
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #20
jody Dec 2012 #21
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #22
jody Dec 2012 #23
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #24
jody Dec 2012 #25
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #27
jody Dec 2012 #29
Spider Jerusalem Dec 2012 #30
jody Dec 2012 #31
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #36
jody Dec 2012 #39
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #40
ellisonz Dec 2012 #34
Odin2005 Dec 2012 #28
ellisonz Dec 2012 #33
patrice Dec 2012 #3
closeupready Dec 2012 #4
jody Dec 2012 #6
closeupready Dec 2012 #12
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #8
closeupready Dec 2012 #13
Recursion Dec 2012 #26
ellisonz Dec 2012 #32
HereSince1628 Dec 2012 #35
zipplewrath Dec 2012 #37
HereSince1628 Dec 2012 #38

Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 10:48 AM

1. Can you help with this, as far as terminology?

Does "high-capacity, rapid-fire firearms" (because, really, they're all "assault weapons," right, as far as being literal?) add more meaning to the discussion?

What is the proper terminology to be used for us to express the opinion that we don't feel handheld weapons of mass destruction -- with the ability to take out dozens or more people in a matter of minutes -- should be made available to the general public?

Thanks.

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Response to OneGrassRoot (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:06 AM

7. Not really

The "high capacity" I believe is where there is progress to be made. It is the argument of the absurd, but strangely, I suspect you'll even get some gun enthusiasts to admit that a 30 round clip is a bit on the "bizarre" side. Somewhere between 9 and 15 is where there is probably an opportunity for "compromise".

But "rapid fire" pretty much describes all weapons these days. Short of "full auto", the reloading process of a "semi-automatic" is so fast that for all intents and purposes, it can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.

Actually, another "ban" that might actually have some legs (because there is an odd ball precedent for it) would be to remove "pistol grips" from long barreled guns (they are already "banned" on short barreled shot guns. The infamous "sawed off" shot gun). Again, I suspect in the end it won't have any more real impact than the assault weapons ban did. It just makes it hard to use a long barrel gun for these kinds of mass murders.

(by the by, using the expression "banned" is always problematic. Almost anyone can own almost any weapon if they jump through enough hoops. And weapons can often be modified if one jumps through more hoops. Plus, restrictions CAN vary by state. It'd probably streamline the debate if control advocates would drop the word "ban" altogether and just say "controlled". Even gun control advocates only care so much what various SWAT teams use.)

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #7)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:08 AM

9. I never use the word banned.

There has to be room for reasonable discussion, in spite of semantics that can be used to thwart it.

Thanks for the discussion.

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Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 10:49 AM

2. Easy fix, if we're not presented with some workable that reduces gun violance....

we repeal the second amendment.

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Response to daleanime (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:01 AM

5. Rights preexist our Constitution, are not granted by it, and cannot be abolished by it. nt

 

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Response to jody (Reply #5)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:13 AM

10. So you say

And that's a very popular theory. But you won't find that in the original Constitution. The BoR alludes to something similar, but not explicitly. And the constitution only protects one right from modification or removal. Which one will be left as an exercise for the reader. And all rights can be denied under certain conditions. Those conditions again will be left as an exercise for the reader.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #10)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:30 AM

11. SCOTUS said that in US v Cruikshank and again in DC v Heller.

 

c. Meaning of the Operative Clause. Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment . We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment , like the First and Fourth Amendment s, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876) , “his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed … .”16

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Response to jody (Reply #11)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:54 AM

14. Doesn't discuss the ability to be withdrawn

The key issue is whether the Constitution has the "power" to "take away" rights. It does, and provides no protections against it. For example, the 3/5ths clause.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #14)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:01 PM

15. "Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence."

 

The meaning is clear, a right exists with or without our Constitution.

You can try to reinterpret that any way you wish but it always comes out the same, words on paper do not create a right and words on paper do not destroy a right.

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Response to jody (Reply #15)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:13 PM

16. Doesn't make it "inalienable"

What you are asserting is the inalienable concept. They are discussing the "un-enumerated rights" concept. They are closely related, but not the same thing.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:30 PM

17. SCOTUS in many cases recognize enumerated in the BOR and un-enumerated rights protected by the Ninth

 

I don't see how Inalienable/unalienable and un-enumerated rights "are closely related, but not the same thing" except they are used in the context of our discussion.

See an old DU post.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=2980285&mesg_id=2981257

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Response to jody (Reply #17)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:40 PM

18. Power of the Constitution

There is nothing in the Constitution that says it cannot deny rights to any person. It limits what powers the constitution gave to the government. The BoR stated particular rights that were CURRENTLY protected from the government, but it did not prevent those rights from being taken away, through constitutional processes. Some of these rights were unenumerated. ALL rights can be taken through "due process of law". The constitution makes no attempt to make any rights "inalienable". In fact, it explicilty delineates the ways in which they can be alienated, and recognized from the outset that certain people would NOT be granted these rights.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #18)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:55 PM

19. Abolishing a right for all law-abiding citizens is distinct from limiting an individual's exercise

 

of her/his right to achieve some social goal. The common example of limiting freedom of speech by making it illegal to shout "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

You and I disagree when you assert "it {Constitution} explicilty delineates the ways in which they can be alienated, and recognized from the outset that certain people would NOT be granted these rights."

For example a convicted felon cannot exercise her/his civil rights until they have served the sentence for the crime.

When a convicted felon petitions government to restore their civil rights and if they are "restored without exception" that includes RKBA.

FindLaw defines “inalienable” as “ incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred”. The definition of “unalienable” “is not alienable: ‘inalienable’".

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Response to jody (Reply #19)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:37 PM

20. Careful

All I'm saying is that the constitution does not recognize, nor guarantee any rights as "inalienable". Any right you have can be taken away through constitutional means. It can be done on an individual level, and it can be done on a broad level (and has by the by). The Constitution does not prevent it from happening, and in fact lays out the ways in which it can be done. Furthermore, no nation on earth recognizes, in their constitution, any rights as "inalienable". England may come closest, but they've never written their constitution per se (and are frequenctly advised to do so).

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #20)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:42 PM

21. Please read #11 a preexisting right is an inalienable right as PA & VT so clearly stated. Those

 

rights were not created by our Constitution nor can they by abolished by it.

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Response to jody (Reply #21)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:17 PM

22. Can be denied

However, per the US Constitution, there is a process to Constitutionally deny you your rights.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #22)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:42 PM

23. Do you use "deny" in the sense of limit for all law-abiding citizens or do mean abolish or ban for

 

those same citizens?

If the latter, please cite a SCOTUS opinion that says it's constitutional for government to abolish any of the enumerated rights in our BOR.

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Response to jody (Reply #23)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:49 AM

24. Dread Scot

I'm not sure the SC has ever been asked to rule on the constitutionality of the Amendment process. It is pretty clearly stated that the Constitution can be amended and there is really only one limit put upon that process, and that is about state representation in the Senate.

But the SC rule for years on the legality of denying a class of humans their rights to life, liberty, and property and it ruled in favor of denying them many of these things for decades.

Furthermore, it is practically the purpose of the court system to deny people their rights "by due process of law" which is also possible.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #24)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:50 AM

25. Understand but if words on paper do not create a right, how can words on paper destroy that

 

right?

It's accepted that the BOR does not create rights, it simply recognizes rights that preexist our Constitution.

PA and VT stated in their constitutions:
"That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable/unalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."

Inalienable/unalienable rights could not have been given away when PA and VT citizens ratified our Constitution and later the Bill of Rights.

For PA and VT citizens, our Constitution obligates government to protect rights that preexist our Constitution and those rights are natural, inherent, and inalienable/unalienenable at least in those states.




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Response to jody (Reply #25)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 01:10 PM

27. Deny, not destroy

Rights don't "exist" in any physical sense. They're a bit like feelings. You can't destroy the existence of feelings. You can't "destroy" rights either. You can DENY rights. And in this country, there are constitutional methods for doing exactly that.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #27)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 01:22 PM

29. I believe we're cycling. Are you saying "there are constitutional methods" for denying freedom of

 

speech for everyone?

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Response to jody (Reply #29)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 01:29 PM

30. There are and there have been restrictions on freedom of speech put in place before

see: Espionage and Sedition Acts during WWI (see also the case of Schenck v US, where Oliver Wendell Holmes made the famous analogy to shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre). The answer to your question is "yes, there are Constitutional methods for denying freedom of speech". (Or at least reasons which have been found constitutional in time of war and national emergency.)

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #30)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 01:59 PM

31. Your examples limit freedom of speech but do not abolish it for all citizens. Even under martial law

 

the limits on rights are temporary.

There have been cases that extended rights that had been enjoyed by a few to all citizens such as the 13th & 14th Amendments but I don't recall a case that abolished a right that preexisted our Constitution.

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Response to jody (Reply #29)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:11 PM

36. Yes

I could easily write an amendment modifying the First Amendment and restricting speech on a particular topic, in particular areas, or even by a particular class of people. Of course I might have trouble getting it passed.

Heck, many of the folks that WROTE the Constitution also passed the Aliens and Sedition Acts, and the SC upheld portions of it.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #36)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:51 PM

39. "restricting" a right is not "abolishing" a right. The latter is the subject of this discussion.

 

Have a great afternoon and goodbye.

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Response to jody (Reply #39)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 03:10 PM

40. And I can completely deny you the right

For example, I could pass an amendment that said that black people could be sold into slavery. There is nothing in the constitution that would prevent this. They could be denied all their freedoms, and the government would be bound by law to enforce these sales as legal contracts.

When does total denial become "abolishing"?

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Response to jody (Reply #11)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:02 PM

34. Good Thing we have Antonin Scalia to distort the Constitution for Us!

^^^^^^^^^^^^

Another NRA Talking Point (TM)

All Hail the Wisdom of Antonin Scalia

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Response to jody (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 01:20 PM

28. The notion of "Inherent Rights" is nonsense on stilts.

To quote English philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

Rights are creations of society. Belief in inherent rights is a modern-day remnant of how pre-modern people commonly equated parochial social norms with laws of nature.

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Response to jody (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:00 PM

33. Love that NRA Talking Point (TM).

Smell's like anti-Federalism.

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Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 10:59 AM

3. KICK

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Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:01 AM

4. There is no discussion going on here on DU.

Relating to gun control.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:03 AM

6. Agree no discussion but lots of calls for ban, ban, ban, . . . . . . . . . nt

 

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Response to jody (Reply #6)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:33 AM

12. Yep. Screaming? Check. Hyperbole? Check.

Lecturing? Check.

If it gets tiresome, I'd suggest just using the trash thread feature - I've trashed dozens so far, and it's improved my experience here. Cheers.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:08 AM

8. Feel free

Progressives should feel free to use this information outside of the confines of DU.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:34 AM

13. Right. Thanks for the thread, opening post.

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Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:08 AM

26. Thank you. (nt)

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Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 01:59 PM

32. Simple: Everytime they throw out a talking point, hit them with a left hook.

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Response to zipplewrath (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:06 PM

35. It'd be good for progressives to similarly have nuanced knowledge

about mental illness and the heterogeneity that exists in describing violence.

We want good laws, that focus on reducing authentic risks identified using actuarial evidence so that money and resource are used effectively with respect to reducing the occurrence of risk and efficiently with respect to the costs of the implementation of law enforcement and compliance.

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Response to HereSince1628 (Reply #35)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:22 PM

37. Good Idea

Why do you write something up and post it?

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #37)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:26 PM

38. I did. Days ago... please see:

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