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An Open Letter to the Guy I Just Unfollowed




The thing that gun-loving folks don’t get is that rights have limits. And that limit is when the exercise of your rights causes harm to other people. Which is what legal and illegal guns do to people every day. (Sorry, which is what the people who own legal or illegal guns do to each other every day.)

Actually, you may tolerate limits on your rights but that doesn’t mean that they exist/should exist. A right isn’t “limited”. Nobody staples my mouth shut in fear that I could commit slander or violate confidentiality agreements. The right to free speech in unlimited, because you can shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater because Congress could not make any law prohibiting it and you probably wouldn’t go to a theater that forced patrons to have their lips stapled shut.

Now, there’s no law against shouting. But if someone gets trampled to death in the panic you just caused, you’re in trouble.

As a matter of fact, you just admitted that such “limits” are only about causing harm to other people. Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say that it’s one’s right to harm others, so the Second Amendment is not limited on that aspect. Owning a gun does not harm anyone, and you’re using a game of semantics to compare owning a gun to outright harming other people, justifying restrictions on the ownership.

And by the way the Second Amendment cites a “well-regulated militia,” which, while vague (in fact the amendment itself is terribly written) does take the right to bear arms out of the same unlimited category, as, say, the right to religious expression, whether it be Christianity or Satanism.

Actually, it’s only “vague” and “terribly written” because you’ve been told. You’ve you’d have looked into it yourself, it’s pretty clear.

The whole Bill of Rights is used to limit the scope of governmental powers. Why would the Second Amendment limit the people? Makes no sense.

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.

Pretty straightforward. “A properly working civilian force comparable to a military being necessary for the security of a free country, the right of the people to own and carry weapons and it’s ammunition shall not be broken, breached or undermined.”

It says right there that it’s the right of the people to keep and bear arms. If I said “A well-balanced breakfast being necessary for the start of a healthy day, the right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infringed” - who would have the right to own and eat food? The people or the well-balanced breakfast?

Don’t believe me?

1. “Well regulated” didn’t always mean what it means today:

The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:

1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”

1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”

1812: “The equation of time … is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”

1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.”

1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”

1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”

The phrase “well-regulated” was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. Establishing government oversight of the people’s arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it.

In fact, “regulated” was closer to it’s parent word “regular” than today’s meaning.

2. The mention to a well-regulated militia was not necessary for the right to exist, it was left there as an explanation to why it’s a right.

 Justification clauses are actually more abundant than you think.

My modest discovery is that the Second Amendment is actually not unusual at all:  Many contemporaneous state constitutional provisions are structured similarly.

Rhode Island’s 1842 constitution, its first, provides:

The liberty of the press being essential to the security of freedom in a state, any person may publish his sentiments on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty … . 4

So, does freedom of speech only apply to the free press? Or any person?

The justification (prefatory clause) is part of an absolute construction. The first part is a non-finite clause - which is a dependent/subordinate clause - making the “right to keep and bear arms” an independent clause. i.e. the first part cannot stand as a sentence on it’s own and serves merely to add additional information. The part that mentions the right to keep and bear arms not only is not “subordinate to the well-regulated militia”, it can stand on it’s own as a sentence.



3. Bearing arms refers to militia service, not to the act of carrying weapons.

Cramer and Olson, on the other hand, argue that to the extent this is true, it is due to selection bias:

If you look in databases consisting almost entirely of government documents, it should not be a surprise that most of the uses will be governmental in nature.

Searching more comprehensive collections of English language works published before 1820 shows that there are a number of uses that are clearly individual, and have nothing to do with military service.

Many of Cramer and Olson’s examples are taken from British works, but this appears to me to be legitimate. In 1791 formal written American English usage was not, to my knowledge, significantly different from that of Great Britain. One such example is from Debrett’s 1797 Collection of State Papers Relative to the War Against France, in a discussion of orders from the French Army on the occupation of “the country beyond the Rhine”:

The inhabitants of the villages, who shall take arms against the French, shall be shot, and their houses burnt, as shall likewise all who bear arms without permission from the French generals.

While the phrase “take arms against the French” refers to military action, possibly collective rather than individual, “bear arms” here clearly refers to individual carrying of weapons. As Cramer and Olson note, it could refer to militia activity only in the extremely unlikely event that French generals were in the habit of giving permission to enemy militia to fight against them.

I’d say that by now, you’ll think that the Second Amendment is actually crystal clear and was very well written.

It’s just that these days we don’t know basic linguistics and we don’t bother educating ourselves about it.




When tree branches get in my way

Vine by: Logan Paul

How we manage to cram such genius in 6 seconds is beyond me. This is art.

I relate to this.

The morning of 19-JUL-2014 between 0450 and 0500, while transporting a Lyft passenger I was passed by a speeding black SUV heading north on Lincoln Street just north of Speer Boulevard in Denver, Colorado. Shortly after the SUV passed I heard 3 gunshots, which I thought were coming from around the corner to the left of the intersection I was approaching, so I stopped, checked that nobody was behind me, and got the hell out of there. After we were away from the area the passenger informed me that the shots came from the SUV, which you can see in the video if you pay attention to the top of the SUV as it goes through the red light, but I didn’t see it as I was paying attention to the intersection I was approaching.

I can’t figure out from the video if the shooter was shooting at anyone/anything or just in the air.

Welcome to Denver, After Dark.


82 shot, 14 fatally, in Chicago over July Fourth
July 10, 2014

For 10 minutes, it seemed like the shooting was everywhere in the South Chicago neighborhood.

It started when someone shot and wounded a couple, then two people fired at the shooter, then there was a chase and shots exchanged and a man sitting on a porch was hit. Responding officers kept cutting each other off on their radios as they reported other gunfire in the area late Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Then the heavy equipment rolled in: A helicopter and SUVs packed with lockers of rifles. SWAT teams in green coveralls patrolled the streets with uniformed officers.

It was just one of dozens of shooting scenes across Chicago over the long Fourth of July weekend. In all, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, since Thursday afternoon when two woman were shot as they sat outside a two-flat within a block of Garfield Park.

Five of the people were shot by police over 36 hours on Friday and Saturday, including two boys 14 and 16 who were killed when they allegedly refused to drop their guns.

Many of the long weekend’s shootings were on the South Side, clustered in the Englewood, Roseland, Gresham and West Pullman neighborhoods that rank among the most violent in the city.

The victims ranged from the 14-year-boy shot by police in the Old Irving Park neighborhood to a 66-year-old woman grazed in the head as she walked up the steps of her porch on the Far South Side.  Most victims were in their late teens and 20s.

Each night of the long holiday weekend, at least a dozen people were shot in the greatest burst of gun violence Chicago has seen this year.

• From Thursday night into Friday, three people were killed and 10 others wounded. An attack outside a West Englewood salon left two men dead and an East Garfield Park shooting took the life of a 21-year-old woman.

• From Friday afternoon into Saturday, 20 people were shot, one fatally. The man who died had been flashing gang signs in a parking lot in the Clearing neighborhood when someone told him to stop. When the man didn’t, he was shot, police said.

• From Saturday night into Sunday morning, four people were killed and another 10 wounded.

• The bloodiest stretch of the weekend was a 13-hour period between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 3:30 a.m. Monday when four people were killed and at least another 26 wounded, many of them in critical condition. And the most chaotic scene was in South Chicago, where three people were wounded during a running gun battle.

The shooting started around 11:20 p.m. Sunday when someone opened fire at two people who just left a store on Exchange Avenue south of 80th Street. A 25-year-old man was taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a 19-year-old woman was stabilized at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

While the man was firing, two people on the street shot at him and a chase ensued, with the three exchanging gunfire through a vacant lot west toward Escanaba Avenue, police and neighbors said.

The three didn’t hit each other but a 48-year-old man was caught in the crossfire while sitting on the porch. He was wounded in the ankle and taken to Jackson Park Hospital.

The shooting kicked off an hour of occasional chaos as responding officers kept hearing gunfire, first the exchange between the three, then an apparently unrelated volley of shots a few blocks west on Muskegon Avenue where police found shell casings on a porch.

A 10-1 — a call for an officer in distress — was broadcast across the city because the shots were so close to police.

Officers from across the South Side responded, including tactical teams who had been ordered to wear their uniforms instead of plainclothes for the holiday weekend.

Police were radioing about hearing gunfire all over the neighborhood, and a district lieutenant ordered a perimeter over a three-block-by-four-block area. No one was taken into custody.

As a helicopter circled overhead, someone shot up a house a few blocks south on Exchange Avenue, just outside the perimeter, around midnight. The gunfire was called over the police radio before any 911 calls were received, and officers ran down the street toward where the gunfire came from.

The house that was hit by gunfire, in the 8400 block of South Exchange, was near where a teen had been shot earlier in the day and police had responded to a call of a gang disturbance. A group of gang members had been hanging out outside and someone wanted them removed, police said.

About half an hour later, the neighborhood had finally quieted down. “Release the perimeter,” the lieutenant ordered, though he asked that patrol cars keep a watch on the four crime scenes.


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