Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Second Amendment fanatics aren’t paranoid. They’re blindsided.

Wed 16 January 2013, 8:16pm

The National Rifle Association is taking heat for releasing a new ad attacking President Obama’s attempts to curb citizens’ access to semi-automatic assault weapons.

Many are upset at the NRA’s focus on the president’s daughters. Former Bush speech writer David Frum isn’t holding back:

As the makers of the NRA ad should know, and probably do know, the First Family has come under years of racially coded attack for their “uppityism,” as Rush Limbaugh phrased it. This latest attack ad looks to many like only one more attempt to enflame an ancient American wound.

I agree. But surely the larger point here is the disingenuousness of those who scream “not from my cold dead hands” on gun rights while meekly acquiescing and even actively cheerleading the abandonment of a whole host of other Constitutional rights.

If Second Amendment gun rights advocates are so concerned about the prospect of a tyrannical, intrusive and unaccountable state rising, then why the hell are they so intent on building precisely such a state?

Let’s take the two chief but by no means isolates examples. The War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

America’s Drug War is a case study in actually existing Big Government dangers; the very theoretical threats to liberty gun rights advocates claim to fear. Aside from the millions of young American men and women who have been imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses, the brutal police raids, the stillborn careers shattered by resumes fouled by prison time, the sheer scale of this authoritarian state initiative is so vast that it has given rise to a whole economic sub-sector devoted to private prison growth.

You think anti-immigration sentiment is driven largely by American nativists hostile to Central American immigrants? Think again: follow the money. The leading lobby groups making campaign contributions in return for harsh immigration legislation are prison contractors who see the opportunity to build ever-more detention centres.

You’re afraid of big government tyranny? Consider this fact, reported in a must-read New Yorker piece last year:

“Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.—more than were in Stalin’s gulags.”

But if the War on Drugs should give those concerned by Big Government pause for thought, the unfolding legacy of the War on Terror should have them reaching for the brown trousers. Anyone screeching about unaccountable Bully-Boy Big Government while breathlessly scolding others who raise concerns about the constitutionality of policies unleashed under the War on Terror banner is either a fool or a rogue.

You’re terrified about the possibility of a government emerging with scant regard for citizens’ rights? Bad news bro: When Presidential legal advisor John Woo Yoo is publicly defending the President’s legal authority to order the crushing of a child’s testicles as a part of an attempt to ‘break’ not the child but the child’s father – well, we’re well past questions about potential tyranny.

Conor Friedersdorf succinctly captured the blindsided fixation on the Second Amendment last month.

It’s one thing to argue that gun control legislation is a nonstarter, despite tens of thousands of deaths by gunshot per year, because the safeguards articulated in the Bill of Rights are sacrosanct. I can respect that… but not from people who simultaneously insist that 3,000 dead in a terrorist attack justifies departing from the plain text of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth amendments, and giving the president de-facto power to declare war without Congressional approval.

Progressives laugh and scoff at Second Amendment fanatics who claim that government left unchecked has the potential to exert absolute authority. This is the wrong approach. Fears of Big Government riding roughshod over the US Constitution are, if anything, massively under-stated. A response to the extremities characterizing the current US Government’s executive over-reach is merited but it’s a response that should be anchored in protecting the First Amendment, not in a narrow fixation on the Second.

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Comments (42)

  1. mollymooly (profile) says:

    I choose to believe “Presidential legal advisor John Woo” was a deliberate mistake.

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  2. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Ah, Yoo gotta me Molly:)

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  3. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Yoo was given the wrong job. He should have been given the job at the Department of the Interior. As anyone who listened to Smoky Bear would know, “Only Yoo can prevent forest fires”.

    As regards the 2nd Amendment, methinks NRA doth protest too much. They don’t represent me, and I’ve had many guns in my adult life (and childhood, if truth be told). Many of the most vocal NRA guys are people I personally wish weren’t armed.

    As regards the Constitution, I still believe in it but the only article in the Bill of Rights that hasn’t been violated in my lifetime is I know of nobody who had soldiers forcibly quartered in their house. The various faux wars are excellent examples of PR tactics eroding basic freedoms.

    Excellent post, Ruarai.

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  4. Now if the US Secret Service could find a link between one of the many cranks who threatens him and his children and an NRA office, that would be the perfect answer to the advertisement.

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  5. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Ruarai, this is a posting of enormous significance. Thanks for your diligence, and for that link to the New Yorker. The anomaly which you identify (gun-liberation in a most authoritarian state) is quite incomprehensible.

    Although the RoI enjoys friendly relations with the USA, and although Irish Night in the White House is an obligatory pain-in-the-neck annual event, the RoI must be commended for having maintained its neutrality to a very large extent.

    I see the so-called ‘New American Century’ doctrine much as I see the #flegs protest: produced by fear, by irrationality, and by a refusal to acknowledge that the playing-field has changed. If the UK and the RoI have any wit, they will see their strategic future in Europe. (A unified Ireland could pursue an honourable military role within a UN framework, much as the RoI does now.)

    Whatever the future holds for NI, I don’t want to be tied to a nation which employs torture, and which locks up six million people in a rapistical prison-system.

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  6. Ruarai (profile) says:

    What happened to GreenFlag’s post??

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  7. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    I think you will find that the most vocal critics of the war on drugs and the excessive power given to police forces across the US are on the gun-owning, libertarian right. It is they who most condemn heavily the armed SWAT teams smashing down citizens’ homes while those citizens are themselves ordered to surrender their guns.

    They look at government officials who, like the president and his family, are protected by other government officials who are armed to the teeth and reasonably ask why it is that ordinary citizens might not protect their own families in the same way.

    Equally I think you will find that those who are most adamant in their opposition to being shook down and virtually strip searched by government officials at airports are again from the right. The gun owners helpfully suggest that there would be no need for such heavy security if law-abiding citizens had the right to defend themselves and the lives of their fellow citizens while travelling.

    This thread in other words is a complete red herring from start to finish.

    But I do have to laugh at the sight of left-liberals who spent the entire eight years of the George W Bush administration screaming about how he was tearing up the constitution and that the onset of fascist government was only a step away now calmly dismissing as cranks and nutcases those who have always had a rather more sceptical view of the benevolent nature of big government.

    Listen folks if you think a US president or anyone associated with him had any role whatsoever, no matter how indirectly, in the 9/11 attacks you should already be a fully paid-up member of the NRA.

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  8. Ruarai,

    Nice piece. The NRA, I think, are maybe going to suffer from the law of diminishing returns in relation to this issue. Their position can either be seen as setting out a stall where they know they will have to make some kind of compromise here and or they are simply deluded (I doubt the latter).

    While public opinion may be with Obama and the Dems to a certain extent, its all about the numbers.

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  9. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks, Harry Flashman. You say, “…..if you think a US president or anyone associated with him had any role whatsoever, no matter how indirectly, in the 9/11 attacks you should already be a fully paid-up member of the NRA.” For what it’s worth, here is a link from LiveLeak to cut and paste.

    Dumb Democrats; 35% of Democrat Cultists Think 9/11 Was an Inside Job…LMFAO!

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  10. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Ruarai,

    His abusive opening got the whole thing pulled…

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  11. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    This is the most sensible (and evidence based) article i’ve read on the issue.

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-riddle-of-the-gun

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  12. Mickles (profile) says:

    @BluesJazz

    Fantastic article, some really good points:

    “Given the changes that have occurred in our military, and even in our politics, the idea that a few pistols and an AR 15 in every home constitutes a necessary bulwark against totalitarianism is fairly ridiculous. If you believe that the armed forces of the United States might one day come for you—and you think your cache of small arms will suffice to defend you if they do—I’ve got a black helicopter to sell you.”

    Other parts of that blog make a lot of sense too, in relation to how much more obvious an AR is than a handgun. Made me think past a few misconceptions I had. A very reasoned piece.

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  13. Greenflag (profile) says:

    For the connections between the NRA and the profits to be made from the sale of machine guns to ordinary civilians here’s a link for those who might be interested

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/16/behind_the_nras_money_gun_lobby

    If these corporations can sell these kind of weapons to ordinary civilians why not rocket propelled grenades , or surface to air missiles or fighter jets ?

    The USA Government is not going to be toppled by a machine gun toting militia not when that Government already has 50% of the entire planet’s weaponry .

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  14. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Ruarai ,

    Unless my eyes deceive me I can still read my post above ? If my opening line was abusive what would that NRA TV ad be called ?

    I believe the USA elected Mr Obama as President and not the NRA .

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  15. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    “a few pistols and an AR 15 in every home constitutes a necessary bulwark against totalitarianism is fairly ridiculous”

    Tell that to every insurgent force that ever overthrew any tyrannical government in history.

    How exactly did the US gain its independence from Britain (and no it wasn’t Lafayette who done it)? I think you’ll find it was by farmers with personal firearms shooting well-trained professional soldiers.

    The independence of Ireland wasn’t achieved through nuclear weapons.

    The red-herring alert is going off the scale here.

    The US Army would not be used against the American people because the soldiers would never obey the orders. But at a local level you can bet your bottom dollar that heavily armed police forces and government agencies would use overwhelming force against politically inconvenient people at the drop of a hat.

    There really were Federal black helicopters circling over Waco and Ruby Ridge you know.

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  16. tacapall (profile) says:

    The second amendment being tampered with is pointless, simply because of modern technology in the shape of 3D printers. Its only a matter of time (some say its already there) before you can download a file from your computer and use it to print yourself up a automatic weapon. Its the ammunition that they need to regulate.

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  17. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Harry Flashman 17 January 2013 at 4:41 pm

    It’s NOT the USA government that these assault weapons are targeting .It’s children in elementary school, students in universities , people in movie theatres etc etc etc . Another 900 dead Americans by gunshot since the Sandy Hook slaughter.. These dead are people NOT red herrings !

    The USSR, East Germany , Poland , Hungary , Czechoslovakia etc -all totalitarian one party states had enough weaponry and nuclear weapons to destroy the entire world several times over . It was’nt enough to stave off their collapse . Hardly a shot was fired .

    Very few Americans object to people owning fire arms for self defence purposes or for hunting sports etc . With proper background checks and mental health clearance certificates and being held accountable for the safe storage and maintenance etc of these weapons -theres no reason why Second Amendment rights can’t be maintained without turning the USA into a continental Somalia :(

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  18. GEF (profile) says:

    Chicago had more murders than all the US troops
    who died on active duty in Afghanistan in 2012.

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Chicago-Already-Ahead-of-2012s-Murder-Rate-185868072.html&sa=U&ei=WTn4UIDcKenO0QWi44CoCA&ved=0CBsQFjAB&usg=AFQjCNH9vkKVtJxvrhhW_6FVqyXIUqceQw

    How come there is no numbers recorded for those who defended their homes in Chicago from attack?

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  19. Devil Eire (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty:

    “Ruarai,

    His abusive opening got the whole thing pulled…”

    And why was Pete Baker’s comment pulled?

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  20. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Harry,

    Regarding your recommendation below about improving airport security:

    The gun owners helpfully suggest that there would be no need for such heavy security if law-abiding citizens had the right to defend themselves and the lives of their fellow citizens while travelling.

    Can you unpack that for us a little more? Not sure you’ve fully thought that one through.

    Devil Eire,

    good question… Not sure if Pete pulled it himself or why. But I don’t pull them.

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  21. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    Ruarai,

    You point out what you regard as hypocrisy. But how about this, the Second Amendment is the only part of the entire Constitution that Progressives believe in taking an originalist approach to i.e. attempting to limit the right by discussing what those who originally voted for it meant by it. Elsewhere activist justices see nothing wrong with creating new so-called constitutional rights out of the penumbra (yes this was the language of the Roe v. Wade decision) of other rights and then applying them selectively to certain circumstances. Thus a so-called right to privacy applies to abortions taking place in a public facility but not to smoking marijuana in one’s own home etc. In other words whatever a majority of five can agree to becomes a constitutional right and whatever limits they want to put on existing rights they can put on.

    I have no problems with legislation banning civilian i.e. non-automatic versions of assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and requiring background checks on all firearms purchases, etc. I just find it rather depressing and hypocritical that many of the people advocating these things are absolutists on “reproductive rights” or on free speech in areas other than political speech.

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  22. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    “Can you unpack that for us a little more?”

    Delighted to.

    The catastrophe on 9/11 was a total and complete failure by every single government agency in the US whose specific role was to prevent such an occurrence. From the useless immigration officials who passed the childish, barely legible applications all the way through police forces, the FAA right up to NORAD who completely folded when faced with the scale of the attack. Every single government worker with all their fancy badges, shiny gee-whizz equipment, trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, draconian legislation and well-padded pensions utterly failed to prevent the attack happening.

    The symbols of US capitalism were destroyed, the heart of the defence establishment was smashed and either the White House or the Capitol was next but at that point some Americans realised that the government wasn’t there to look after them anymore, even though in reality that “protection” had never existed. Those American citizens did what their forbears did, they acted not as clients of an almighty state but as free-born, self-reliant citizens and ended the series of attacks themselves, they didn’t ask the government’s permission they did what they needed to do using their own two hands and brainpower.

    Now we in Europe have always been uncomfortable with ordinary citizens making their own choices and deciding their own destiny. We, the descendents of the people who chose to remain living under princes, kings, emperors and eventually duces, caudillos and fuhrers don’t like to upset our rulers. We like to sit and be told what to do by our betters, accepting whatever diktat they hand down submissively because of course the government always knows best.

    That’s not how most Americans think (well up until last November that is, Americans seem to be turning into welfare statists like the rest of us now), they believe government is there to help if you need it but frankly it’s more often a bother and it’s best to do it yourself if you can. A spirit I personally find rather admirable and refreshing.

    In American small towns, the fire company are volunteers, frequently so are the police. The schools are local schools set up and financed by local taxes and charities.

    This admirable self-reliance also extends to self-protection. Let’s see there’s an intruder on my land, he is a criminal, the local sheriff is fifty miles away but I have my own means of self defence, what should I do? I know I’ll sit meekly in my home and phone the government, I’m sure they’ll help me out, right?

    So after that preamble where am I? Well airports today are like post offices, and schools and universities and other places which are deemed “gun free” by the government but which remarkably happen to be where all the mass shootings take place (criminals ignoring the law, eh, whoddathunkit?). We must hope when we travel by airplane that the sort of people who issue drivers licences or deliver the post for a living are all super sharp James Bond types who will protect us from the bad guys.

    God forbid that we could set up a register of citizens that could be trusted to protect themselves and their fellow travellers in the case of an emergency. Not everyone could get on the register, just as not everyone can be a volunteer fireman or life guard. The qualifications would be stringent, it would be considered a matter of pride to get on the list. You would have to be physically fit, maybe pass an IQ test, have an absolutely clean criminal record and otherwise prove your public-spirited credentials, veterans, emergency responders, police officers even could be expected to sign up. Some training would also obviously be required, as with designated first aiders in most businesses.

    Then, and this point Europeans might need to sit down, these stout hearted citizens, free born American men and women, self-reliant, proud patriots, could be allowed to carry a specific type of weapon while travelling by air. They would then be duty bound to assist their fellow citizens if in peril, you know like life-boatmen and the like.

    No, no, no! I hear you shriek, letting free born citizens defend themselves, no way! That is the job of government workers. Better to have grannies in wheelchairs frisked and sick people prove the contents of their colostomy bags and little girls felt up and photographed nearly naked than ever rely on your own wits and willpower and that of your friends and neighbours in times of crisis.

    Baaaaaah, baaahhh, baaaaahhhh, line up for the showers there now, form an orderly queue.

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  23. Ruarai (profile) says:

    tmitch 57,

    “You point out what you regard as hypocrisy.”

    No I don’t. I didn’t once suggest hypocrisy.

    I said it was “blindedsided”. I pointed out the inconsistency of both fearing the power of a big state while standing back while such a state was created at the cost of a host of other amendments.

    As for you beef with progressives and constitutional interpretation, my post didn’t argue that Second Amendment fanatics were missreading the Amendment. Take down your strawman or take that point up with someone who is arguing that.

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  24. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Harry,

    I appreciate you giving it the old college try comrade but I’m afraid your suggestion that we’d all be safer, in the airports and everywhere else, if only we were all armed, I’m just not getting there.

    Here’s a few wee things that give me cause for skepticism towards your universally armed yet safer state:

    1. Gun Rights advocates routinely scream, ‘it wasn’t the gun, it was the pyscho!” Mental health is the issue.

    Let’s assume that mental health is indeed an issue: Don’t you think the chances of pyschos going off would increase if many more people had guns? (Let me guess: That problem would be dealt with by the pyscho being gunned down by someone else?)

    2. Accidental discharge. With a country of 300million + all armed and ready, don’t you think there’d be the odd accident?

    3. They called it the Wild West for a reason.

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  25. Devil Eire (profile) says:

    Ruarai

    “good question… Not sure if Pete pulled it himself or why. But I don’t pull them.”

    Pete Baker’s more… [spittle-flecked? - Ed]… colourful comments have a habit of disappearing. I am assuming it was due to the generally rude and narcissistic nature of the comment.

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  26. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    Ruari, I do appreciate my post was a little bit long but as you do appear to have got to the relevant paragraph would it be too much to ask you to read it with a minimum of attention? I did after all write it in response to your question.

    You say:

    “I’m afraid your suggestion that we’d all be safer, in the airports and everywhere else, if only we were all armed”

    I, very specifically, wrote:

    Not everyone could get on the register, just as not everyone can be a volunteer fireman or life guard. The qualifications would be stringent, it would be considered a matter of pride to get on the list. You would have to be physically fit, maybe pass an IQ test, have an absolutely clean criminal record and otherwise prove your public-spirited credentials, veterans, emergency responders, police officers even could be expected to sign up.”

    I hope this makes it easier for you.

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  27. pauluk (profile) says:

    Obama is ‘doing it for the children.’ Yea, right!

    Here’s the real reason.

    (It’s a cartoon)

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  28. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Harry, if the training required was sufficient and the background check thorough, I would not have a problem with your above proposal. This may be the first time I’ve agreed with you, so beware ;o)

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  29. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Harry Flashman ,

    ‘Not everyone could get on the register——–You would have to be physically fit, maybe pass an IQ test, have an absolutely clean criminal record and otherwise prove your public-spirited credentials, veterans, emergency responders, police officers even could be expected to sign up.”’

    Apply the same standard to gun ownership in the USA and you could save the lives of 250,000 people over the next decade .

    Don’t worry it’s not going. The profits of the NRA lobby corporations are more important and the re-election prospects of hundreds of Congressmen & Senators :(

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  30. Greenflag (profile) says:

    above should read ‘

    Don’t worry it’s not going to happen . The profits of the NRA lobby corporations are more important and the re-election prospects of hundreds of Congressmen & Senators

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  31. Greenflag (profile) says:

    Ruarai ,

    ‘Unless my eyes deceive me I can still read my post above’

    You were right -It was removed /reinstalled and removed again . Obviously the NRA lobby works not only in Congress :(

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  32. It is perfectly possible for private citizens to own firearms with little or no risk to other citizens. Millions of Canadians have guns for hunting, killing vermin on a farm or for personal protection when living in a remote area. These are long guns with automatic ones being banned. To get a firearms certificate, you have to undergo a background check by the police and will be refused if you have a criminal record, ever had a restraining order against you or have had mental health problems. Then you have to take a firearms safety course and must demonstrate ownership of a firearms storage cabinet. If you don’t need a hand gun for your profession, security guard for example, it is close to impossible to get a licence for one and, if you do get one, you are only allowed to carry the gun to a licensed firing range. We have but a fraction of gun deaths compared to the USA. Those that do occur are almost also carried out by thuggish gang members who have obtained them illegally, there being a thriving smuggling industry.

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  33. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Mister Joe, automatic weapons are also banned in the US.

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  34. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    What calibre firearm, I wonder, would Harry have considered most appropriate wth which to equip the pupils of Sandy Hook Elementary ?

    Perhaps .22 for the kindergarten class through .32, .38, .45 and .44 Magnum for other classes up to grade 4. Maybe compulsory repeat viewings of Bugsy Malone at the beginning of each school year and a showing of Red Dawn at the end of 4th grade to prepare the little warriors for Big School.

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  35. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Mister Joe ,

    Sounds like common sense prevails in Canada even though theres no chance of it prevailing in the US Congress :( Common sense and Congress have yet to be introduced ;(
    I read today (USA Today ) an article which described ‘concern ‘ at the ‘inexperience’ of the new batch of elected politicians . Given that the current batch are viewed as less popular than cockroaches I did’nt quite get the journalist’s drift .

    One presumes that the great American people will now sleep less easily in their beds because of ‘inexperienced ‘ politicians . I would have thought that it’s been the ‘experienced ‘ pols who have led the country these past 25 years into two unnecessary wars , the destabilisation of North Africa and the Middle East and a cliff edge away from financial default ? If this is what experience delivers then perhaps it’s overrated

    Life expectancy for the USA citizen is no longer among the top 25 in the world but is now less than that for Jordanians among others . For the record Canada & Ireland & UK and the other ‘universal health coverage ‘ countries are all years ahead of the USA .

    However things brighten up for Americans in the life expectancy area once they reach the magic age of 75 .At that point presumably the obese have moved on -all those destined to die by gunshot will have removed themselves for the count -most of the poor and not insured will have succumbed to a lifetime of non preventative care technologies etc . At age 75 Americans can expect to live as long as the average Englishman .

    Who said the American Revolution was’nt worth the effort?

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  36. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    Christ, Rory you actually got two recommendations from some numbties for that asinine drivel!

    Who is suggesting allowing elementary schoolkids to carry firearms?

    No one is suggesting elementary schoolers should be allowed to operate heavy equipment, fly jet airliners, drink liquor or perform neurosurgery either in case you’re wondering.

    Can nobody here debate this issue without resorting to complete red herrings?

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  37. Greenflag (profile) says:

    ‘Can nobody here debate this issue ‘

    The debate is over HF . On slugger the NRA have lost . I read that the NRA is now demanding that the USA Congress should do something about health care for the mentally ill instead of attacking the NRA .

    Next they’ll be demanding universal health care for all Americans so that the USA can catch up with Botswana and even Mexico which recently has opted for a universal health care solution for it’s citizens.

    President Obama might as well give up on his ‘dreams ‘ of compromise with the neo conservative -gun toting -bible bashing right wing -and just follow his conscience and hope that most Americans will see and insist on doing what’s right .

    He has nothing to lose and everything to gain from trying .After all he’ll not be going up for re-election . However most of the new Congress and Senate will be and if the NRA has any sense they’ll back off their current position . The Second Amendment is not in danger anyway -It’s the First Amendment that most Americans should be concerned about given the abuses and miscarriages of justice carried out under the Patriot Act.

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  38. David Crookes (profile) says:

    “It’s the First Amendment that most Americans should be concerned about given the abuses and miscarriages of justice carried out under the Patriot Act.”

    Agree 100%, Greenflag. The USA died as a civilized democracy once that totalitarian act was forced through. Today many ordinary Americans are scared to criticize the president or his administration in their private e-mails. They are scared of being arrested by space invader policemen who dress in black leather. They are scared of being interned without trial. They are even scared of being tortured. Of course that could never happen.

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  39. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Christ, Rory you actually got two recommendations from some numbties for that asinine drivel!

    “Numbties”, Harry (I think you meant numpties) ?

    Those commendations were from my grandchildren (aged 6 and 4 respectively) – I bribed them each with a new water pistol.

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  40. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    “The debate is over”, the eternal voice of the controllers, No discussion! We are right!

    The debate ain’t over, not by a long chalk.

    To further point out the fallacy around which this entire thread is based, ie that gun owners are preternaturally in favour of big government when it comes to “security”, (anyone with even the slightest passing acquaintance with the issue would know how absurd that premise is).

    Here is a link to a contemporaneous ongoing debate in that bastion of the liberal-left, the National Review, coruscating the overwhelming nonsense that is government security screening at US airports, my favourite quote comes from that well-known commie bastard, Mark Steyn:

    “On New Year’s Day, my son fell victim at Burlington Airport, Vt., which is a prime al-Qa’eda target. He’s at that tender age where he’s not partial to a trio of middle-aged men with latex gloves inspecting his genitals, and, having aced civics class, he found it hard to believe that the United States Government can put its fingers in your crotch without probable cause. I sighed airily, “After two-and-a-third centuries, this is what it’s come to” — at which the supervisor threatened to kick me off the flight, too, for “disrespecting” the process.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/338124/re-re-re-re-re-tsa-and-nude-scanners-mark-steyn

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  41. Greenflag (profile) says:

    HF,

    ‘the overwhelming nonsense that is government security screening at US airports, ‘

    Not just the US . A relative of mine returning to the UK last year from the USA was detained for an hour and a half at Heathrow . Her husband and one year old son were passed through as normal and were then told to wait until further notice . Not what anybody wants after a transatlantic flight .

    It turned out that she was detained because of traces of explosives in her clothes .She could not explain the presence of these traces to the customs /security people .

    A couple of days before her flight she was lucky to escape death in a car accident when her rental car was hit by a young ‘spaced out’ driver who broke a red light .The air bag saved her life .She emerged shocked and a little bruised but no other damage .

    Traces of explosive in air bags . In retro that makes sense .One would think that security officials would have known that and after a brief few questions she would have been on her way .

    Sometimes these ‘security ‘ people need to justify their jobs and perhaps it was a slow morning ?

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  42. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks for that anecdote, Greenflag. The plague of fatuously overdone security is that you are a potential terrorist with no rights, at the mercy of people who on a given day may feel under pressure to fill up their ‘quota’ of detained-and-questioned persons.

    Every liberal democracy has to be on guard against its own guardians. When they are allowed to so whatever they want security personnel, customs officers, and tax inspectors begin to see themselves as the owners of the state and the whole point of everything. No thanks! All the appurtenances of the state exist chiefly so that you and I may go about our business without hindrance.

    Boneheaded inhuman earnestness is creeping in everywhere. The day after you come home from your summer holiday you get a letter from the credit card people, to the effect that your payment is overdue. You send off the payment two hours later. On the following day you get two identical letters in separate envelopes from the credit card people, to the effect that you still haven’t paid, and that your credit status is in jeopardy. Boobies!

    A few years back my credit card bill was easy to read, printed in bold, and (unless I’d been squandering money like billy-o) one page long. Now it is an ungenial grey-type hard-to-decode affair of several pages. Dull malice oozes from every line of it.

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