HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Justice & Public Safety » Gun Control & RKBA (Group) » Oh Boy, is My English Tea...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Wed Apr 17, 2013, 11:50 PM

Oh Boy, is My English Teacher Gonna be PISSED!

So we're winding down to the end of the semester in my English Composition 2 class.

Throughout this whole semester, she's been having us read excerpts from our textbook which (more often than not) have a definite liberal bent to them.

Most of the other students in my class are pretty conservative, so they've been struggling with some of the views being presented (everything from abortion to excerpts of Obama's Dreams from my Father book, to the idiocy of Dan Quayle), while the professor keeps praising me for consistently hitting it out of the park in my online discussion board posts.

Well, this week she is in for a nasty surprise. After having us read two argumentative opinion pieces heavily critical of the Second Amendment, I had the following to say:

Oh boy, gun control. Where do we even begin?

Adam Gopnik's short essay definitely tugs at one's heart-strings, his emotional description of all those cell phones ringing in all the dead kids' pockets at Virginia Tech, as parents desperately tried to call and find out if their sons and daughters were okay, definitely drives home the gravity of the situation. It must have been truly horrible for all involved, not just the dead kids but the survivors as well.

While I agree with Gopnik that it would be nice if we could keep guns out of the hands of crazy people who would use them to do harm, the problem is that the government just isn't very good at figuring out who those people are. Not just with the Virginia Tech shooter, but with the Aurora (movie theater) and Tucson (Gabby Giffords political gathering) shooters as well, none of them had any criminal record or history of being involuntarily committed to a mental institution whatsoever. So they could all legally buy their guns. Even instituting universal background checks on all gun purchases like the U.S. Senate just tried and failed to pass today wouldn't have stopped these people at all.

Now one could make the argument that we should add more people with even signs of mental illness to the prohibited buyers' list, but then you have the problem of denying rights to those who are suffering from minor mental illness but are currently being treated for it with anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs. Because the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of mentally ill people are not dangerous to anyone, especially if they are compliant with their medications. So I have a hard time scapegoating them for the acts of the very few truly deranged people who wish to do others harm. So I think Gopnik kind of misses the mark there.

Akhil Reed Amar's essay was a bit more balanced. He argues that both the NRA and the gun control side have got it wrong. He points out that where the Second Amendment states "shall not be infringed", it appears in its second clause, which speaks of "the people" and not "the states" like many gun control advocates presume it means. Indeed, the Founders knew how to say "states" when they meant states. He further makes the point that "the militia" covers the entire body of the populace.

Where I think Amar goes off the tracks is when he tries to say that "the people" doesn't mean individual persons. He claims that the phrase "the people" only exists in the preamble to the Constitution ("We the People...") and thus speaks of a "collective" rather than "individual" right -- the problem is, it also appears in both the First and Fourth Amendments, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a constitutional scholar who would claim that the First Amendment doesn't protect an individual's right to free speech. Likewise, the Fourth Amendment defends an individual's right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. "The people" simply means every adult citizen, as the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in both the recent Heller and McDonald decisions.

Amar then goes on to compare "the militia" to "the jury", suggesting that they both embodied "collective" political action rather than private pursuits. Fair enough. But as he even points out, the whole point of a jury is to provide a check-and-balance against judges and prosecutors, just as the militia's purpose is to provide a check-and-balance against a standing army. It's hard to imagine how the militia could ever hope to stand up to any army without being able to bear the same types of small arms that the organized military can. That is, if we are talking about a strict interpretation of that amendment. But I digress.

Amar goes on to point out that violent felons get their First Amendment (free speech) rights back upon completion of their prison sentences, but don't automatically get their Second Amendment rights restored. Indeed, both the NRA and the Supreme Court accept this bizarre double standard. My personal view is that if a person is deemed safe enough to be free walking the streets, they should be considered safe enough to exercise ALL of their constitutional rights. Granted, felons who are out on probation or parole still have restrictions, but for those who complete their entire sentences, full rights should be restored and their criminal records sealed like they do in France. If people are deemed too dangerous to have their gun rights restored, that's what lifetime supervision is for -- or Life Without Parole in the case of the worst of the worst.

I think Amar is more fair than Gopnik also when he points out that guns aren't just for "essentially killing people." Amar points out that there is a great deal to be said on behalf of an individual's right to keep a gun in one's home for self-defense as well.

And while it may be true that states with more restrictive gun laws tend to have less gun violence, it still doesn't stop determined crazy people from resorting to other means of violence, such as detonating bombs in crowded streets like in Boston earlier this week.

I know its a cliché, and I've said it before in this class, but: sometimes the occasional act of random violence really is just the price we have to pay to live in a free society. And sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

But that's just my 2 cents.




I already have a solid `A' in this class, so even if she gives me 0 points for this week's discussion board post, it shouldn't affect my overall grade that much.

Can't wait to see how she responds.

9 replies, 1696 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Oh Boy, is My English Teacher Gonna be PISSED! (Original post)
LAGC Apr 2013 OP
discntnt_irny_srcsm Apr 2013 #1
virginia mountainman Apr 2013 #2
gcomeau Apr 2013 #3
Straw Man Apr 2013 #4
Eleanors38 Apr 2013 #5
gcomeau Apr 2013 #6
gejohnston Apr 2013 #7
CokeMachine Apr 2013 #8
Straw Man Apr 2013 #9

Response to LAGC (Original post)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 12:15 AM

1. Regarding: "the people" doesn't mean individual persons


In pari materia ("upon the same matter or subject")
When a statute is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined in light of other statutes on the same subject matter.


A principle of statutory interpretation.

Thus the terms of the other articles in the BoR may be used to decide the meaning of "the people".

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to LAGC (Original post)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 12:26 AM

2. Let us know what she has to say!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to LAGC (Original post)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 01:39 AM

3. Sigh...

I know its a cliché, and I've said it before in this class, but: sometimes the occasional act of random violence really is just the price we have to pay to live in a free society. And sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.


Thus choosing to write as if you are unaware that most of the rest of the developed world which deals with this issue far more effectively without somehow collapsing into dictatorship and the loss of their free societies exists... bullshit that's the price of a free society. Walk up to a parent in Newtown and say that.

As for the ridiculous idea that the founders intended the "well regulated militia" to simply refer to the random collection of every individual in the country, refer to the Militia Acts of 1792 where the Founders spelled out in explicit terms exactly what they thought a well regulated militia actually was. This silly ass interpretation of that phrase is a primarily modern invention.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gcomeau (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 02:51 AM

4. Double sigh ...

Thus choosing to write as if you are unaware that most of the rest of the developed world which deals with this issue far more effectively without somehow collapsing into dictatorship and the loss of their free societies exists... bullshit that's the price of a free society.

Which issue is that? Firearms ownership? And yet many European countries, despite stricter controls on gun ownership, have had mass shootings. The only way to eliminate mass shootings would be to eliminate private ownership of firearms, something that none of the other developed nations have seen fit to do. It's a matter of degree and of balancing the sometimes competing demands of freedom and absolute safety.

Walk up to a parent in Newtown and say that.

Not a valid test for determining public policy. Walk up to someone who lost a loved one in the World Trade Center and tell him or her why we shouldn't invade Afghanistan. Walk up to someone whose loved one was brutally and sadistically murdered and explain why capital punishment is wrong. Walk up to someone who lost a loved one to a drunk driver and explain why Prohibition was such a failure and why we don't have a 0% policy for blood alcohol content when driving (as some nations do). Walk up to someone who lost a child to a drug overdose and try to make the case for ending the failed War on Drugs.

See how that works? Emotionalism doesn't and shouldn't guide public policy.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Straw Man (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 04:44 AM

5. Very well stated.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Straw Man (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 11:44 AM

6. I'd save your breath...

Because you know what I suspect? I suspect you think "the occasional act of random violence is the price we pay to live in a free society" is a really good bumper sticker and that's about the extent of the thought you give to it.

But I invite you to prove me wrong... so tell me. what EXACTLY are you claiming is the necessary component here that negates the argument against gun control being implemented?


Is it that free societies must meet some kind of quota of innocent citizens gunned down and killed in order to be free? Somehow I doubt it... but if that is your argument by all means share that quota with us. I assume it is higher than that seen in any countries that do have those controls instituted?


Is it that you need an American style 2nd amendment right to bear arms in order to be free... and that just happens to come along with a certain threshold level of innocent people being killed? Rendering almost the entire rest of the planet who don't have that in their legal systems not-free dictatorships? Do tell.


Is it something else? If so... WHAT?


Moving on, "eliminate" mass shootings? Who said anything about eliminating? I said they deal with it more effectively, which they do. Nice try at moving the goalposts but we're putting them back. And dealing with the actual comparative levels of mass shootings? Your facile statement that those other countries "still have mass shootings"? Mass shootings in the large sample of other developed nations with sane gun control policies are RARE EVENTS. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. Your statement is like looking at two populations and saying both of them sometimes have "outbreaks of sickness" and saying that makes them the same when in one of them that sickness is the flu and in one of them it's the plague.

Moving on...





So, did Australia collapse into dictatorship when I wasn't looking? Why haven't I seen this on the news? The world should be informed!! Or... maybe... just possibly... is it 100% completely possible to institute effective gun control legislation that significantly positively impacts the rate at which atrocities like this occur without having your nation suddenly become "not free" and the statement that all these shootings are the price we pay for freedom is utter bullshit?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gcomeau (Reply #6)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 12:23 PM

7. post hoc ergo propter hoc

why does it show Australia having zero until 1984? The incident that started the trend was not a mass shooting as most think of it, it was seven casualties of a shoot out between two criminal gangs. Would the trend continue if NFA hadn't passed? Nobody actually knows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_mass_murders

I suspect there is some card stacking as well.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gcomeau (Reply #6)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 12:39 PM

8. What the source for your graph? Thanks

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to gcomeau (Reply #6)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 01:24 PM

9. And you can save yours ...

... if you think that telling me what I think is a valid rhetorical technique.

The US/Australia comparison is so facile and full of holes as to be meaningless. Where is the US AWB from '94 to '04 on your chart? Not there? Why? Because its presence would indicate that it had little or no effect on the death toll. Is there an adjustment for population size? No, just raw numbers. The same applies to your contention that mass shootings in other countries are "rare" events. Adjust for population size and see what comes out. Similar statistics have been bandied about to prove that Australia's gun bans actually led to a rise in violent crime -- an equally meaningless misapplication of some numbers.

No, free societies don't need a "quota of innocent victims gunned down in order to be free" -- that's absurd and you know it. But this country's problems with violent crime have deep-rooted social causes, and to crack down on rights without addressing those causes will lead us closer and closer to a police state. We've come quite far down that road already. See "inner city policing," et al.

Sigh ...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread