Topic: Gun rights

Follow along with Emily Miller, a total gun novice, as she pursues a concealed carry permit in notoriously gun-averse Washington, DC:

Emily gets her gun

Emily Miller fires a SigI have no experience with guns. Although my father had a handgun while I was growing up -- Baltimore is less safe than D.C. -- he hid it from us and never talked about it. I only know that he had it because as a kid, I found a revolver under the driver's car seat. He told me never to touch it, and that was the end of the discussion.


In contrast, my editor's father taught the rules of gun safety and took him to a shooting range at 10 years old. So my editor offered to teach me the basic safety rules and skills and then shoot his guns at the range. Since he can't legally bring his guns to our office in Washington, I went to his house in Virginia for the lesson. It's remarkable how different the gun laws are once you step over the Potomac River.

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My editor gave me a 22 caliber Browning Buckmark to start. I wasn't thrilled because it didn't look as cool as the other guns, but he insisted I learn with it. He put up the target and handed me a full magazine to load into the gun. He reminded me to keep my finger off the trigger until I was ready to shoot. I asked a female NRA aide who was about my size for help on the grip. She showed me how she held it -- left hand holding right hand.

When I felt ready, I held the gun up to the target, closed my left eye to line up the sights then slowly and nervously, pulled back on the trigger. POP! "I did it!" I yelled excitedly, turning around slightly.

"Don't turn around," my editor said. "Keep shooting until the magazine is empty." Pop. Pop. I pulled the trigger repeatedly, trying to carefully line up the gun after the kickback each time. After 10 rounds, I'd hit about half in the red. I was thrilled.

"Now try to group them, get the shots as close together to each other as you can," my editor said. I shot another 10 bullets and had improved already. This was easier than I expected.


Odds are, you'll learn something valuable.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided (in McDonald v. Chicago) that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental individual right that all state/county/city governments are obligated to protect, you're likely wondering what to add to your personal arsenal. Should you expand your shopping list beyond handguns and rifles?

In 2003 I wrote a detailed research piece for a law school class on firearms law. I went way back and looked at sources like the transcripts of the debates during the Constitutional Convention, the constitutions of various states, letters and speeches by the Founding Fathers, and I discovered what they thought about keeping and bearing arms. They understood the Second Amendment to allow the private ownership of military weapons. All military weapons. Period.

Here's a summary of my research:

The Right To Keep And Bear ... What?Everyone knows that rifles, pistols, and shotguns are "arms," but what about other weapons like clubs, knives, swords, artillery, bombs, missiles, or weapons of mass destruction? Although this question sounds silly at first, Larry Arnn of the Claremont Institute once remarked that if the courts interpreted the Second Amendment as they do the First Amendment, we would all have the right to own nuclear weapons. Some scholars think this kind of reading of the Second Amendment means that "individuals may keep and bear ... whatever 'arms' they desire."


So does our Constitution recognize your neighbor's right to park a brand new M-1 Abrams main battle tank in his driveway? Should we permit gun shops to hold tent sales offering great low prices on military-grade flamethrowers and nerve-gas-tipped artillery shells? Must the U.S. Government allow you to carry a "suitcase nuke" to avoid violating your fundamental Constitutional rights, even if you might trip while carrying it and level a city block?

Part I of this article summarizes the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that acts as the point of departure for this journey into the "what-ifs" of the right to keep and bear arms.

Part II looks at the decision's inconclusive treatment of what "arms" means, and explains why the "textualism" school of constitutional interpretation should control the search for the meaning of "arms," instead of the "living document" or "framer's intent" schools.

Part III explains what the Founders and their informed contemporaries understood "arms" to mean in their day: that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to keep and bear any and all weapons, no matter how destructive.

Part IV brings that definition forward to modern times and identifies the unacceptable social risks posed by private citizens' possession and use of today's most powerful weapons.

Part V makes some tentative and preliminary suggestions for a Twenty-Eigth Amendment limiting individual access to excessively destructive weapons that threaten society, while preserving the common-sense meaning of the individual right protected by the text of the Second Amendment.

Read the whole thing and then tell me that "arms" doesn't include a .50 caliber machine gun or an M-1 tank. You probably won't like it (I don't completely like it myself), but unless you're willing to let the courts twist the meaning of the Constitution in whatever way they want, you'll have to agree with my conclusion.

Armed populace = polite populace

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In other words, home invader = dead man.

Donna Jackson didn't want to kill the man breaking into her Oklahoma home, but he left her no choice.

Alternately funny, irreverent, patriotic, and inspiring. Not too shabby for a self-educated guy.

A couple of years ago I wrote a detailed research piece for a law school class on firearms law. I went way back and looked at sources like the transcripts of the debates during the Constitutional Convention, the constitutions of various states, letters and speeches by the Founding Fathers, and I discovered what they thought about keeping and bearing arms. They understood the 2nd Amendment to allow the private ownership of military weapons. All military weapons. Period.

Here's a summary of my research:

The Right To Keep And Bear ... What?Everyone knows that rifles, pistols, and shotguns are "arms," but what about other weapons like clubs, knives, swords, artillery, bombs, missiles, or weapons of mass destruction? Although this question sounds silly at first, Larry Arnn of the Claremont Institute once remarked that if the courts interpreted the Second Amendment as they do the First Amendment, we would all have the right to own nuclear weapons. Some scholars think this kind of reading of the Second Amendment means that "individuals may keep and bear . . . whatever 'arms' they desire."


So does our Constitution recognize your neighbor's right to park a brand new M-1 Abrams main battle tank in his driveway? Should we permit gun shops to hold tent sales offering great low prices on military-grade flamethrowers and nerve-gas-tipped artillery shells? Must the U.S. Government allow you to carry a "suitcase nuke" to avoid violating your fundamental Constitutional rights, even if you might trip while carrying it and level a city block?

Part I of this article summarizes the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that acts as the point of departure for this journey into the "what-ifs" of the right to keep and bear arms.

Part II looks at the decision's inconclusive treatment of what "arms" means, and explains why the "textualism" school of constitutional interpretation should control the search for the meaning of "arms," instead of the "living document" or "framer's intent" schools.

Part III explains what the Founders and their informed contemporaries understood "arms" to mean in their day: that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to keep and bear any and all weapons, no matter how destructive.

Part IV brings that definition forward to modern times and identifies the unacceptable social risks posed by private citizens' possession and use of today's most powerful weapons.

Part V makes some tentative and preliminary suggestions for a Twenty-Eigth Amendment limiting individual access to excessively destructive weapons that threaten society, while preserving the common-sense meaning of the individual right protected by the text of the Second Amendment.

Read the whole thing and then tell me that "arms" doesn't include a .50 caliber machine gun or an M-1 tank. You probably won't like it (I don't completely like it myself), but unless you're willing to let the courts twist the meaning of the Constitution in whatever way they want, you'll have to agree with my conclusion.

It's about time. The case is District of Columbia v. Heller.

King George6/26/08 Update: I've posted the text of the U.S. Supreme Court's gun rights decision District of Columbia v. Heller, as well as an analysis of which "arms" we can keep and bear.

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The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an appeal (District of Columbia v. Heller) that will likely settle whether the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, partisans on both sides of the issue are busily dissecting and spinning every word of the Second Amendment.

Most bloggers and pundits try to predict the outcome of the case by reviewing Supreme Court decisions and then trying to guess which side each current Justice will choose. Not only do the chattering classes speculate on exactly which kinds of "arms" we're entitled to keep and bear (all of them, in my opinion), they also dig through reams of federal case law to argue that the right to keep and bear arms applies either to the "well regulated Militia" (supposedly meaning the National Guard) or to "the people" (individual citizens).

Well here's a weird idea: maybe it's not an either/or situation. I wonder whether any existing federal law has anything to say about the matter?

United States Code, Title 10 § 311

Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are --

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

Gosh. It seems Congress and the President have already arranged for a well regulated National Guard and for armed civilians. It's amazing what you can learn by actually reading the law, isn't it?

Of course there's a very real possibility that the Supreme Court will twist the Constitution, completely ignore the text of a law properly enacted by the other two branches of the federal government, and impose its own gun control policy preferences on the rest of us. It wouldn't be the first time, and you just know that Anthony Kennedy loves sitting in the catbird seat.

It would be comforting if the Court simply cited 10 USC § 311 and said "here endeth the lesson", but somehow I doubt it'll be that straightforward. Stand by for heavy seas.

Rachel Marsden prediction

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OK, I don't understand where my post on Rachel Marsden went. The damn thing vaporized. I don't recall deleting a post since I started this blog. Strange. I'll try again.

I predict that tonight on Red Eye when Greg Gutfeld brings up the Virginia Tech massacre, Rachel Marsden will offer a snarky comment about how such things would never happen in Canada, land of draconian gun laws. Then she'll toss off an attempted joke about the Second Amendment and archaic 17th Century knuckledraggers.

Wanna bet on it?

Update: OK, OK ... I misunderestimated her. Mea maxima culpa.

Here's a perfect example of emoting instead of thinking, brought to you by TigerHill:

Allowing students to carry guns would not prevent the first shooting. Allowing students to carry guns would not prevent the second shootings [sic]. One off-kilter man with a gun can kill a person more [sic] matter what you do. Futhermore, the more realistic measure to prevent the second wave of shootings seems to be strengthened and continued lockdown after the first shootings.

One off-kilter man with a gun can kill a person, no matter what you do. But if he’s surrounded by people who also have guns, the off-kilter man will never get a chance to kill 33 people.

I've pondered whether to carry a concealed pistol long enough. It's legal in Ohio now. By the end of April, I resolve to find a good local shooting range and start putting rounds on target. By the end of May I resolve to take the required firearms safety course and submit all of the paperwork for a concealed carry permit.

There will be no repeat of the Virginia Tech massacre if I am in range.

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Update: Hog On Ice says it even more bluntly. The victims were doomed by the gun ban.

4/18 Update: I'm having success with pulling together a group of friends to come with me to a local range in the next week or two. So far, I'm the only guy. Here's to women who are interested in self-defense and who refuse to be afraid of guns!

Also, check out Michelle Malkin's latest on NRO, "Wanted: A Culture of Self-Defense"

Virginia Tech massacre: preventable?

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Mike Kinsey explains how armed students and faculty at Virginia Tech could have stopped the shooter ... if only Virginia Tech hadn't been a gun free zone.

Incidentally, where was this "Asian" shooter from? I wonder if he was Pakistani or Indonesian? Was he a muslim? I haven't seen anything to suggest that he is, but the silence of the Virginia authorities on those points leaves me wondering. After all, over the last few years Sudden Jihad Syndrome has been picking up steam.

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Update: Michelle Malkin rounds up the best of the breaking news.

Update 2: Something to think about: what do you have the right to keep and bear?

Publicola says that Newt doesn't get it when it comes to the Second Amendment, and neither does Hugh (but at least he listens). Dead on target!

As for what the Constitution means by "arms", I've done all the research already.

Hugh Hewitt and Newt Gingrich discussed the "assault weapons" ban yesterday, and both agreed that the 2nd Amendment doesn't permit individuals to own high powered military weapons. While I sympathize with their desired policy, the cold hard Constitutional fact is ... they're wrong.

A couple of years ago I wrote a detailed research piece for a law school class on firearms law. I went way back and looked at sources like the transcripts of the debates during the Constitutional Convention, the constitutions of various states, letters and speeches by the Founding Fathers, and I discovered what they thought about keeping and bearing arms. They understood the 2nd Amendment to allow the private ownership of military weapons. All military weapons. Period.

Here's a summary of my research:

The Right To Keep And Bear ... What?Everyone knows that rifles, pistols, and shotguns are "arms," but what about other weapons like clubs, knives, swords, artillery, bombs, missiles, or weapons of mass destruction? Although this question sounds silly at first, Larry Arnn of the Claremont Institute once remarked that if the courts interpreted the Second Amendment as they do the First Amendment, we would all have the right to own nuclear weapons. Some scholars think this kind of reading of the Second Amendment means that "individuals may keep and bear . . . whatever 'arms' they desire."


So does our Constitution recognize your neighbor's right to park a brand new M-1 Abrams main battle tank in his driveway? Should we permit gun shops to hold tent sales offering great low prices on military-grade flamethrowers and nerve-gas-tipped artillery shells? Must the U.S. Government allow you to carry a "suitcase nuke" to avoid violating your fundamental Constitutional rights, even if you might trip while carrying it and level a city block?

Part I of this article summarizes the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that acts as the point of departure for this journey into the "what-ifs" of the right to keep and bear arms.

Part II looks at the decision's inconclusive treatment of what "arms" means, and explains why the "textualism" school of constitutional interpretation should control the search for the meaning of "arms," instead of the "living document" or "framer's intent" schools.

Part III explains what the Founders and their informed contemporaries understood "arms" to mean in their day: that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to keep and bear any and all weapons, no matter how destructive.

Part IV brings that definition forward to modern times and identifies the unacceptable social risks posed by private citizens' possession and use of today's most powerful weapons.

Part V makes some tentative and preliminary suggestions for a Twenty-Eigth Amendment limiting individual access to excessively destructive weapons that threaten society, while preserving the common-sense meaning of the individual right protected by the text of the Second Amendment.

Read the whole thing and then tell me that "arms" doesn't include a .50 caliber machine gun or an M-1 tank. You probably won't like it (I don't completely like it myself), but unless you're willing to let the courts twist the meaning of the Constitution in whatever way they want, you'll have to agree with my conclusion.

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Update: I just unearthed a somewhat similar take on the definition of "arms."

Update 2: Publicola asks some pointed questions.

A resident of the suburbs surrounding Columbus, Ohio wrote a letter to the Columbus Dispatch supporting a proposed citywide ban on semi-automatic weapons, but not for the reason you might think.

Storekeepers shoot, kill robbers

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CNN brings us proof that sometimes the only way to stop robbers is to shoot them:

When two men walked into a popular country store outside Atlanta, announced a holdup and fired a shot, owners Bobby and Gloria Doster never hesitated. The pair pulled out their own pistols and opened fire.

The armed suspect and his partner were killed. The Dosters won't be charged, according to local officials, because they were acting in self-defense.

"I just started shooting," said Gloria Doster, 56. "I was trying to blow his brains out is what I was trying to do."

Before my liberal readers get bent out of shape over private citizens "acting like vigilantes" instead of waiting for police to arrive, read another excerpt from the story:

She said she tried to open the register, but one of the men told her she wasn't moving fast enough and tried to shoot her husband. He missed -- and his gun jammed.

At that point, Bobby Doster pulled out a .380-caliber handgun and shot one of the suspects. Gloria Doster then went for a 9 mm pistol she keeps near the register.

"All hell broke loose," she said. "I was trying to shoot and dial 911 at the same time."

Both suspects took cover behind the store's meat counter as the Dosters opened fire. Gloria Doster said she doesn't know how many bullets were fired, or how many times the suspects were hit.

Police arrived about five minutes after receiving Gloria Doster's call; the suspects died a short time later at a hospital.

[emphasis added]

If the Dosters had waited for the police to arrive, the Dosters would be dead today. Their exercise of their right to keep and bear arms saved their lives. When you disarm the populace, gun crime soars.

Any minute now

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At last, a real-time online test to see whether assault weapons cause violence.

Hat tip: The Open End

A great argument for concealed carry

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If I had been the driver in this incident, the angry gentleman with the crowbar would have been eyeball-to-muzzle with a loaded firearm.

Bleg: best pistol for concealed carry

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A question for firearms experts: what pistol(s) do you recommend for a paraplegic with limited grip strength, who wants to carry a concealed weapon while in a manual wheelchair?

It'll be carried in either a shoulder holster or a holster positioned in the small of the back. The jurisdiction is Ohio, so the rules & restrictions are not an issue. It should be relatively lightweight and easily concealable, of average reliablity (or better), with better-than-average stopping power, a caliber of .38 or larger, and shouldn't be too hard to break down and clean. Magazine capacity, appearance and price tag are immaterial. Utility über alles.

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UPDATE: I've re-opened the comments, now that Publicola and Say Uncle have chimed in (wish I'd noticed that sooner!). Thanks, folks. This helps alot!

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