How did one sentence become the Sacred, Inviolable Word of the Constitution?

You know the sentence: “A well regu­lated mili­tia, being neces­sary for the secur­ity of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” It’s Holy Writ. It may not be questioned, or at least, the interpretation that means anyone can own a weapon of mass murder, may not be questioned. One may wonder how that came to be, especially given the more limiting interpretation that prevailed over most of American history. Here’s a good summary of the twists and turns that led to our current armed state.

“A fraud on the Amer­ican public.” That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amend­ment gives an unfettered indi­vidual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conser­vat­ive appoin­ted by Richard Nixon was express­ing the long­time consensus of histor­i­ans and judges across the polit­ical spec­trum.

Twenty-five years later, Burger’s view seems as quaint as a powdered wig. Not only is an indi­vidual right to a fire­arm widely accep­ted, but increas­ingly states are also passing laws to legal­ize carry­ing weapons on streets, in parks, in bars—even in churches.

Many are startled to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule that the Second Amend­ment guar­an­tees an indi­vidu­al’s right to own a gun until 2008, when District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the capit­al’s law effect­ively banning hand­guns in the home. In fact, every other time the court had ruled previ­ously, it had ruled other­wise. Why such a head-snap­ping turn­around? Don’t look for answers in dusty law books or the arcane reaches of theory.

You know, it has the words “well regulated militia” right there in the sentence, and it turns out the phrase “bear arms” had a very specific meaning to the Sacred Founding Fathers: it didn’t mean to just carry a musket in case you saw a squirrel to shoot, it had the implication of being armed in warfare. That’s all been lost, thanks to the activities of one effective organization, the goddamned NRA. The NRA has only a partial quote on the wall of their building.

Today at the NRA’s headquar­ters in Fair­fax, Virginia, over­sized letters on the facade no longer refer to “marks­man­ship” and “safety.” Instead, the Second Amend­ment is emblazoned on a wall of the build­ing’s lobby. Visit­ors might not notice that the text is incom­plete. It reads:

“.. the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The first half—the part about the well regu­lated mili­tia—has been edited out.

Interesting. Also revealing is this interview with attendees at the NRA conference this past week.

The gun-waving fanatics will defend to the death the Holy Second Amendment, but they don’t even know what it says, despite being only one sentence long.

Then to learn that the whole modern justification for ubiquitous guns is built on lies, half-truths, and quote mining…jesus, what an embarrassing foundation of pseudo-scholarship.

Thomas Jeffer­son offers numer­ous oppor­tun­it­ies for pro-gun advoc­ates. “Histor­ical research demon­strates the Founders out-‘NRAing’ even the NRA,” proclaimed one prolific scholar. “‘One loves to possess arms’ wrote Thomas Jeffer­son, the premier intel­lec­tual of his day, to George Wash­ing­ton on June 19, 1796.” What a find! Oops: Jeffer­son was not talk­ing about guns. He was writ­ing to Wash­ing­ton asking for copies of some old letters, to have handy so he could issue a rebut­tal in case he got attacked for a decision he made as secret­ary of state. The NRA website still includes the quote. You can go online to buy a T-shirt emblazoned with Jeffer­son’s mangled words.

I thought creationists were the most shameless of liars, but gun-fondlers are giving them a run for the money. Although I also suspect there’s a huge overlap between gun-fondlers and bible-thumpers.


  1. ospalh says

    Anybody who wants to know what a «well regulated militia» looks like can look to Switzerland.
    One state-issued riffle, one box of ammunition in the home, and hefty fines when the seal on that box is broken without an actual enemy invasion in progress. Also mandatory marksmanship training.

  2. larrylyons says

    What Ammosexuals like the NRA forget is the entire amendment refers to the right of the state to protect itself with a well regulated militia. That phrase well regulated militia has very specific meanings according to George Washington. From Washington’s very first State of the Union on January 8, 1790.

    “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

    Washington was speaking on the need for states to ensure that their militia were well trained and supplied. A trained and well supplied state militia were essential to the security of the United States because the founders did not want a large Federal army.

  3. says

    The NRA have done a damn good job of shouting over and shouting down a ridiculously obvious fact: of all the rights described in the Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is the only right explicitly set forth as a means to an end. None of the other rights — free speech, peaceful assembly, free exercise of religion, privacy, etc. — are preceded by any language like “X being necessary to Y…” Because those rights are ends in themselves, and government exists to enforce those rights; whereas the right to keep and bear arms is a right granted by the government to enable people to do a particular thing that is considered necessary: organize militias or other security forces to enforce public order and individuals’ legal rights. The “well-regulated militia” to ensure “the security of a free State” come FIRST, the right to keep and bear arms comes SECOND, and is SUBORDINATE TO, and LIMITED BY, the preceding stated purpose.

    Also, the Heller ruling only struck down ONE COUNT IT ONE DC gun law, and there’s a paragraph saying the ruling should not cast any doubt on any other gun regulation or type of gun regulation currently in force anywhere. Anyone who cites Heller as enshrining an unlimited right to own guns is bluffing.

    And finally, all the gun lobby’s noise about the Second Amendment is nothing but a distraction. Beneath all the Founding-Fathers-y rhetoric, most sane adults understand that no one really has an unlimited right to own any kind of firearm they want. We’re not allowed to own fully-functioning anti-aircraft weapons, artillery, tanks, chemical agents, etc., and the overwhelming majority of laws to that effect have never been controversial. Even fully-trained police officers are given a very narrow range of weapons they’re allowed to carry on duty; so the idea that individuals have a right to outgun our own cops and other security forces is pure horseshit. That’s not a well-regulated militia, and it’s not conducive to the security of a free state.

  4. says

    I’ve been thinking about the Ft. Hood shooting a lot. You know, the one that happened on a military base. A place with A LOT of guns. My brother was there. All the guns in the world didn’t stop that guy. The answer to the gun question isn’t more guns. It is LESS guns.

    If the NRA was a fire department, then they would attempt to put out a fire with flame throwers. “The fire can’t burn down the building if we do it first.” They would stand on a pile of ashes and call it a victory.

  5. Walter Solomon says

    The Militia Act of 1792 gave the states and later the President the power to conscript every “free, able-bodied, white male citizen between the ages of 18 and 45.” Of course, in those days, while the gov’t could conscript you, it didn’t have to equip you. You were responsible for your own supplies such as a musket, powder horn, knapsack, bayonette, etc.

    Considering conscription no longer exists and hasn’t existed as it originally did for nearly two centuries (no lotteries or student exemptions back then) and the military provides all of the weapons and equipment needed by the soldier, the 2nd Amendment seems to completely outmoded

  6. Chris J says

    It’s kind of funny. The way the gun conversation has gone now, the 2nd amendment itself has become completely needless. According to Republicans… (A) The purpose of that amendment is to protect against government tyranny. (B) The mechanism is to make it impossible for governments to make gun ownership illegal. (C) Governments can only do so through passing laws. (D) Laws are useless in forbidding gun ownership, since people who want to break the law will always be able to have access to guns. (E) People will want to break the “law” to oppose a tyrannical government.

    So by their own logic, the 2nd amendment need not exist. Why are you relying on law to protect you against an institution you think is unlawful?

  7. PaulBC says

    Occasionally things are put in the Constitution that may have sounded good to someone at the time, but turn out to be bad ideas, such as

    After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

    It took less than 15 years to repeal it by ratifying the 21st amendment. In the meantime, two other amendments were ratified. One established women’s suffrage and the other concerned presidential terms and success.

    The Constitution is not sacred and inviolable. It is an ongoing draft that is supposed to be changed as reality and our understanding of reality changes. The mechanism for change is written write into it. I am not a founder worshiper but they got this part correct.

    For some reason or other, the US has become increasingly reluctant to amend the Constitution. I realize there are scary possibilities here and many recently proposed amendments are terrible ideas.

    The only thing worse I can think of than changing the constitution is entrusting a council of elders to assign meanings to gnomic text and assert either that this is what it meant all along or that this is what it means in a “living” context (depending on which side of the aisle they fall). We’re currently stuck in this situation with respect to the 2nd amendment.

    And yes, I know it’s a wild fantasy that this particular amendment could ever be changed. But until it is, we’re stuck with an albatross that no other nation shares and things will only get worse. There is certainly nothing “sacred or inviolable” about it. It is badly written, or at least written in an idiom so old that it confuses the modern reader. It is not inviolable. There is a process for changing it.

  8. PaulBC says

    ^^^ Sorry for multiple typos in @8. “terms and success” should be “terms and succession”. “written write into” should be “written right into”. I am sure there are others. Sorry, but this whole thing pisses me off and I have trouble concentrating.

  9. hemidactylus says

    I had been under the (mistaken?) impression they wanted an armed militia because conflict with angry Native Americans and the potential for slave insurrections.

  10. says

    @10: Yes, and they also needed armed state and local militias because the US Army wouldn’t always be able to move to the site of an emergency in time to deal with it. See “circumstances that will not admit of delay” in the Constitution.

  11. pick says

    I understand that the reason for the 2nd amendment was to establish the legality of the existing slave patrols.

  12. hemidactylus says

    I’ve never owned a gun. I’m a 2A moderate. I despise recent jurisprudence trending that has limited the ability of municipalities to regulate firearms as they see fit.

    I’m fine with pistols with limited capacity clips for self defense and limited action (double barrel or pump???) shotguns for hunting that cannot be sawed down. Period! People need different gauges and shot depending upon prey. And hunting should be heavily regulated and biased toward nuisance feral hogs and keeping deer populations in check. I guess certain birds too. If people were real sporting hunters they would strictly go for black powder, especially in the face of angry charging hogs. Or just wrestle them like a manly (Florida?) man would. If you can wrestle and dispatch a hog bare handed you have earned your tasty meal.

    Ammo should be heavily regulated though people seem quite capable of making their own. Those who fail at that stop being able to make ammo because reasons.

    A big NO to arming teachers.

  13. tallgrass05 says

    The conservatives and ammosexuals are all about the “literal interpretation” of the Constitution, unless it does not suit them. Then they move to “originalism” if it fits their agenda. I wonder which well regulated militias all these mass shooters belonged to.

  14. says

    Beau of the fifth column made a really good point the other day, namely that the 2nd deals specifically with political violence. When a 2nd amendment nut buys a guy they are, under those terms saying that they are prepared to shoot cops and fight the army. There’s nothing in the declaration or the 2nd that says you should have weapons so you can randomly fuck up your neighbors, or liberals, or whatever. It’s so you can make that thin blue line thinner.

    Checkmate, gun nuts. If cops understood that, maybe they’d be a bit less keen to have open carry gangs because, in principle, they are there to hunt cops.

  15. says

    In fact, if someone were a 2nd amendment literalist, they’d start shooting cops if abortion is made illegal – because the government just infringed on their freedoms.

  16. wobbly says

    My thing has always been, even if we all agreed that the second amendment was specifically about giving all people unfettered access to all kind of firearms at all times (which it obviously is not), when did it become so taboo to look at such an edict through the lens of experience, statistics and empathy and be able to say; “that amendment is clearly outdated and currently harmful, and needs to changed”?

  17. PaulBC says

    Thomas Jefferson really did write this in a letter in 1787:

    What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

    Speaking of manure, this is quite a load of it, despite its provenance. Jefferson was too erudite to say “You have to break some eggs to make an omelet.” but that’s more or less his point. I don’t care who said it. It is a very stupid way to view governance and encourages the worst people in their fantasies of self-importance. (Was he drunk when he wrote it? It reads that way to me.)

    (Seriously, if those outside the US think this is one of our founding principles, they must have a good laugh at our expense.)

    Jefferson made a more nuanced point and made it more sensibly in the Declaration of Independence, namely that overthrowing tyranny with rebellion is a last resort (“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”).

    He was abroad during the writing of the Constitution (he had a strong interest in it and specifically the Bill of Rights). There’s no evidence that he tied the 2nd amendment towards his views on rebellion, though there are a number of spurious quotes trotted out by gun nuts: E.g. here and here.

    So what about his “tree of liberty”? It’s not part of the constitution or any legislation. In fact, the idea that states can “rebel” was already put to an empirical test in the mid-19th century and found wanting. Also, the constitution was significantly amended shortly thereafter.

    Jefferson’s statement is in a particular historical context. It strikes me as tantamount to saying “What city block has ever lasted a century without a good fire to clear it out from time to time?” (Note that both nations and city blocks have lasted longer than Jefferson claims.) The aim should be to establish mechanisms such that governments by consent of the governed persist over centuries without degenerating into tyranny, not that we should be complacent about it.

    Jefferson’s claim is no better established than any claim that things will always suck and we just have to live with it. Plenty of things are better now. Childbirth death and infant mortality are much lower. Water is drinkable without boiling it. Buildings still burn, but we do a better job of keeping fire from spreading further. How about instead of entrusting our “liberty” to angry mobs with guns that we establish rights and representation as part of long-lasting government with explicit guards against either tyranny or mob rule.

  18. PaulBC says


    “that amendment is clearly outdated and currently harmful, and needs to changed”

    Yes, and that’s why we have an amendment process in the first place. Though we seem to be afraid to use it for anything significant anymore.

  19. says

    “One loves to possess arms!” I never thought about it before but if I didn’t possess my arms I couldn’t hug my cat. So I guess I do love to possess my arms. My interpretation of the second amendment just COMPLETELY shattered. After all that amendment was written during the time when best medical practice was to just saw off a dusky limb. Could you really have a literally armless militia? I think not.

  20. donfelipe says

    I’ve always been curious as to how these people vehemently defend the position that you can’t restrict guns based on a sentence that doesn’t even include the word “gun”. Which arms you are allowed to bear are never defined. If personal gun ownership was so important why doesn’t it say that?

  21. says

    It’s important to remember the full context of the phrase “well regulated militia” as it appears in the US Constitution. Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States had no standing military and the states were required to maintain a “well regulated and disciplined militia” that could be called up “for the common defense” upon a declaration of war by the congress.

    States, required to maintain a “well regulated and disciplined militia,” made use of those militias. Under the new Constitution, most of the work of those militias could be transferred to the standing U.S. military or to non-militia state agents.There was, however, one duty widely assigned to the state militias that could not readily be so transferred: runaway slave patrols. Slave states, wanting to ensure that they could maintain their runaway slave patrols, which by nature took the form of a regulated militia, agitated for inclusion of the Second Amendment in the bill of rights and got what they wanted.

    There is no ambiguity at all to the meaning or purpose of the Second Amendment at the time of its enactment: it was all about maintaining runaway slave patrols. That leaves us no doubt at all about the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment under any originalist argument such as conservatives claim to make, and getting from the original meaning to an individual right to own and carry any hand-held firearm one might desire requires not just a living Constitution but a Constitution under the influence of very powerful drugs. It also leaves us with a pretty good argument, which I’ve never seen anyone else make, that the Thirteenth Amendment, making slavery unconstitutional, acted to repeal the Second Amendment, which acted to ensure states the right to maintain runaway slave patrols. Maybe Joe Biden should have a talk about that with the National Archivist.

  22. birgerjohansson says

    Whheydt @ 23
    Boar spear is for wimps.
    Me and my posse go out in the forest and grunt until we have found a really big bear. Then we brain it with a rock.

  23. unclefrogy says

    the lobbying efforts of the NRA have changed over time. They are no longer an organization focused on safety and hunting and shooting sports. They have become nothing more than a political arm of civilian arms industry nothing more or less. They are just there to promote gun ownership using questionable arguments which lean heavily on emotional content for maximum effect. They do not care about anything but the money. The money from selling guns and ammunition.The politicians care primarily about the political contributions and the emotionally motivated votes. If there was not a lot of money in it they would not exist, body count is ignored as is hunting mostly ignored. They even had the success lobbying a law forbidding any effective investigation into the gun violence .
    The way it is played up you would think armed home invasion was a rampant thing happening on every block in every city every day.
    though i can understand given the unthinking inconsistent and often unnecessary violence of the police a doubt about any help they might bring

  24. Walter Solomon says


    Jefferson was too erudite to say “You have to break some eggs to make an omelet.”

    Was he? He was known to write some boners especially as regards race. He was, after all, an 18th Century figure so, maybe, it isn’t so surprising. Still, many of his opinions were despicable.

  25. Rich Woods says

    @birgerjohansson #26:

    Rocks are for wimps.

    When I need to put food on the table, I go out into the forest and challenge a bear to a game of Twister. Once it’s all tangled up in knots I steal its honey and its marmalade and leave it there to live down the shame.

  26. John Morales says

    “A well regu­lated mili­tia, being neces­sary for the secur­ity of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Children are part of the people, so it follows they should have that right. Right?

    (So are convicted criminals, of course)

  27. says

    How did the second half of one sentence become the Sacred, Inviolable Word of the Constitution?

    Fixed your headline for you.

  28. PaulBC says

    I often wonder about the converse question. How did the the 4th amendment come to be seen not as a significant, inviolable right but a challenge for law enforcement and others to push as far as possible, until the rare breaking point when people push back and the courts support them?

    The full text seems very clear to me compared with the 2nd amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    I know the same “anti-gummint” cranks would probably agree that they want this right for themselves, but in practice people seem to forfeit it easily whether it’s agreeing to urine tests or phone tracking.

    Over my lifetime, the trend has been the ongoing removal, not the restoration of the right not to be subject to arbitrary search. Some people do care about this, but it’s amazing to me that the 2nd amendment sucks all the oxygen out of the room when it is a bizarre historical anomaly of the US Constitution rather than anything philosophically identifiable as a right.

  29. lochaber says

    It’s funny how there are so many accepted restrictions on the rights supposedly guaranteed by the first and fourth amendments, yet for some reason, the second is the only one that is widely considered sacrosanct…

  30. says

    @Chris J 7
    Gun nuts simultaneously claim that gun control laws 1) will make it impossible for civilians to own firearms, leaving them completely defenseless; and 2) don’t prevent criminals from owning firearms, to the point that there’s basically no difference if gun control laws are passed or not.

    When I question them about the inconsistency, gun nuts will claim “Well, civilians will be too scared to go against the law, so they won’t get armed. Also, if they DID get armed, then they would become criminals and not civilians anymore.” Which opens up a whole lot of questions like:

    Alright. And? The civilians won’t be punished anyway. So why should they care?
    Weren’t you the ones who keep saying that you’d be willing to fight against the government in order to protect your right to bear arms? Now you’re scared?
    What, you think that everyone except you is a stupid sheep? Arrogant much?
    So you’re saying that everyone except you and criminals will just blindly obey the law? Aren’t you implying that you want to be a criminal? I wonder what you want to do. Rape? Murder?

  31. Kagehi says

    Watched a vid day or two ago, with Aron Ra, and some others and found some of the information disturbing, though.. honestly, if I had bloody bothered to think about it at all I might have realized this:

    ARs are so versatile that they can be reworked to be anything from a pistol to a rifle.
    The civilian version is no different in ammo type than the military, but both use ammunition that has relatively low velocity and size.
    Even the military does not, because it makes them less accurate, and less useful, generally use the full auto or burst features, which means that those functions, which would make the civil version an actual assault weapon are worthless additions anyway.
    Almost all hand guns, and rifles, other than the old classic, barrel load six shooter types, etc. (which have fast loaders for them), use clips, and its likely impractical to ban “high capacity” clips, since, unlike 3d printed guns, which, for now, make no sense, since firing them would ruin them, the clips are just a case with a spring in them.
    The second most popular “rifle” (which is more expensive) and most hand guns use – higher velocity, larger, ammo, which does more damage.
    The fire rate on ALL of those is basically identical to that of the AR series. It kind of has to be, since you can’t make “semi-auto” faster than, ‘How fast you can pull the trigger”.

    Now, all of this is a problem, because, if true, then it calls into question what the F everyone calling for a ban on “assault weapons” actually flipping means, or if they even know. It would, to be honest, and accurate, have to ban all semi-auto weapons, including hand guns, and it would need to do this even to get rid of the AR, since one of its versions is a pistol.

    They did go on to point out all the problems, escalations of stupid ideas, and things that could/do need to be done, all of which involve cultural shifts (such as an end to gun safety classes in schools, that while not mandatory, where “options” at one time), bad laws that have been passed (Stand Your Ground, etc.), and the spread of lies, fear, and paranoia, from the right wing (and which is a tool for them to gain power), which seems to far more strongly, than any other factor, in the current increase in violent events. It may be that alone, not just the spread of gun culture in general, which is unique to the US, and is, aside from the number of guns out there, causing the issue – since the next largest owner of guns in the world, per capita, doesn’t seem to have near the same issue at all, nor do they, every time their politicians fart, have idiots running out to buy even more guns, to protect themselves from the latest “liberal conspiracy”.

    Aron Ra himself also pointed out that, unless we fix these other issues, trying to ban “anything”, since we definitely won’t be doing something like ending sales to the public for X generations, or literally “anything” that might hurt the gun makers profits (and that is either party), we could, at this point, have people trade in, or even confiscate, guns at a rate of one per minute, and, by his estimate, it would take 800 years to get all of them.

    That last bit makes the lie that, “Liberals want to take you guns.”, even stupider – there is no way in hell its even possible to do such a thing, even if anyone wanted to.

    Also, of course, there is the lack of mental health services, a seeming refusal to believe anyone when someone is acting in a way that would require such services, until they act out, and a whole host of other things they bring up, which feed into (almost like its intentional) the sense of doom, fear, paranoia about someone out to get them, how society, or other people are not “giving them their due”, etc.

    All of which, like I said, is predicated on Aron Ra, and the other three that discussed it, being right about even half of the stuff they talked about (and which I, being not at all a fan of mass gun ownership, and not wanting one myself, I came close to just switching off, but decided not to, because while I don’t know much about the other three, I find that Aron Ra tends to push a principle, on all subjects, of, “Truth is what you can show to be true, and if you can’t show it to be true, then the incidental fact that it later does turn out to have been true, doesn’t make it not still a lie when you said it was true – instead of admitting it was just an opinion.” As such, he is unlikely to just be pulling stuff from the NRA website (and not also just because he has stated he despises them, and almost everything they say is a lie, including their take on the constitution). He even said as much in the video conference – “None of these people are a well regulated militia.”, and even the “police” where really, at one time, a Sheriff, who deputized anyone that had a gun, to help enforce the law, when needed (i.e., a temporary militia).

    Oh, and on that note.. none of them where remotely happy, with what we call “cops” now. lol

    In any case, the crux of it comes down to – 1. The boat, as they say, on banning, or confiscating arms has more or less sailed. Whether by design, or just natural changes for the guns, over time, by the useless “common” definition of “assault weapon”, all of them, including probably 90% of the hand guns on the market, would have to be classed as such, and this is why the definitions are utter gibberish, and tend to consist of, “You can’t have X part attached, if you do, it becomes one.” There is perhaps a bit more leeway in banning things like for bump stocks, since this is circumventing a limitation on the weapon, and increasing the fire rate above normal, but most of the criteria are inconsistent, pointless, sometimes flat out meaningless (like why if you can kill dozens of people at range does adding a knife to the thing make it “more dangerous”, and thus illegal?), and no one seems to know what the F they are trying to actually prevent people from buying.

    Answer – because it would now be “everything”, if we where using an honest assessment of how dangerous they are.

    The paranoia, fear, lies, etc. to push for more right wing power, is probably the worse threat, for many reasons.
    Almost all laws that have changed to promote misuse of guns, exist because of #2.
    The one thing that is notable among all of this is that “no one” is running on, a fix for the things that actually “could” make in impact – including helping solve things like the mental health issues, and the like, which would, all, make a difference, if only by utterly derailing a large part of the right wing’s propaganda machine.

    Well, other than, if they did such, they would have to stick with it, instead of immediately trying to “work with the other side”, as though they where not the people ignoring, benefiting from, and/or creating the problems in the first place.

  32. lumipuna says

    Thanks to PaulBC at 19 and Robert Johnston at 25 – Those are highly illuminating.

  33. PaulBC says

    @37 I agree that culture is a huge factor and you can’t legislate it away. You can, however, change culture intentionally. In a few decades we went from a society where smoking was something everyone did, often accompanied by some flourish like a pipe or holder, to one where it has distinctly negative associations, may be seen as low class and even a sign or poor self control and weak will.

    This was not accidental, nor was it because many people rationally evaluated their risk of cancer and other illnesses. It was done with a focused and sustained campaign.

    There’s an ad from the 80s where Brooke Shields says “Yuck” to being around smokers after she washes her hair. Well I am not Brooke Shields in her prime but I say yuck to people who collect mass murder weapons. What a sick and stupid hobby. Where’s the spokesperson for that message? Guns aren’t cool. They’re low class, dangerous, and asinine just like smoking.

  34. dorght says

    I have a .22 bolt action rifle in the closet. Hasn’t been used in over 40 years. I looked into how to legally dispose of it. Turning it in to the local PD sounds ok, but they give it to a private company that strips any parts it can resell then shreds the rest. I wouldn’t want any surrendered weapon to be used to restore several other guns to working (dis)order.
    AFT says to destroy it myself I need use a oxyacetylene torch, a band or hacksaw isn’t good enough. Don’t have a torch just sitting around. Also didn’t mention if any paperwork is involved.
    Guess it will sit until there is a buy back somewhere, if I can confirm all of it is destroyed.

  35. John Morales says

    dorght, no offense intended, but I’m getting a vibe from you.

    AFT says to destroy it myself I need use a oxyacetylene torch, a band or hacksaw isn’t good enough. Don’t have a torch just sitting around.


    I reckon I could make that gun pretty inoperable with a good hammering.
    Or just try using it as a crowbar. Or something.

    (I’d be happy to settle for ‘ruined beyond easy repair’ over ‘destroyed properly’)

    Also didn’t mention if any paperwork is involved.

    Or you could just settle for the reality that you’ve made it inoperable (at least without more effort and expense required to repair it than to just get a new one).

    But then, I was always good at breaking stuff.
    I suppose not everyone is as talented at it.

  36. lochaber says

    Dorght> Got a hammer, a vise, a length of pipe, a grinder?

    remove the bolt/firing pin, bend/crush the barrel, bend/cut/crush the bolt and/or firing pin. You don’t have to completely destroy it, just render it inoperable. Or, if you want to turn it in to the police department, just damage it enough it wouldn’t be worth salvaging.

    I don’t have experience with a lot of firearms, but prior enlisted, and have a LOT of experience with the M16, M249 and M240, and am fully confident I could render any of those completely inoperable with the tools I have in my studio apartment without much effort. I could probably do it with a decently sized rock and a bit more effort.

    Hell, just get a spare bucket, and fill it with water and add some bleach, and throw the parts in there. replenish the bleach as needed until you’ve nothing but some rusty sediment…

  37. Kagehi says

    Heck.. Dorght, buy some JB Weld and squirt it into every moving part, the odds of someone making it “usable” ever again would be highly improbable. I have no idea what it would take to “fix” it after doing that, but it would probably destroy half the parts, and/or damage them so badly it would cost less to buy another one, or remake every freaking part.

  38. PaulBC says

    Anyone remember “cash for clunkers?” The goal was to remove polluting vehicles and they had a precisely defined lethal injection for cars:

    the program outlines a procedure for destructively disabling the engine (and thus also precluding the possibility that any mechanical engine components might be salvaged to be used in the repair of any other vehicles): the motor oil is drained and replaced with a sodium silicate solution, then the engine is started and run until the solution, becoming glass-like when heated, causes engine internal bearings to abrade and ultimately seize.

    I guess you can’t literally do that with a gun because there is no way to start it like an engine, but the previous suggestions sound effective. The first thing that popped into my head was to fill it with epoxy. I doubt it would be worth salvaging at that point.

    Or you could go old school and try beating it into a plowshare. It might not function as a plowshare, but it would at least fail to function as a gun.

  39. dorght says

    @41, @42, @43 Thanks for the suggestion of rendering the rifle inoperable and un-salvageable before surrendering to the police. I do worry about having any interaction with the police though. What if I somehow inadvertently broke some law or regulation’s pg 1342 paragraph 54 subsection zz by my actions on my own property.
    It really should be a trivial exercise to have a gun destroyed legally, but gun fondlers have gotten state laws passed that prevent police from destroying firearms. Would be nice if you could take your firearm to any US government facility (Military base, FBI etc offices, but post office would be most convenient) surrender it and leave assured that it would be destroyed entirely and to the governments satisfaction.
    People, however, are idiots and would carry loaded weapons in. That happened at the Target store I worked at decades ago when a person wanted to return a semi-automatic because it jammed. Police were called. Same Target got a visit from the ATF after a person bought several weapons and tried to ship them to Libya (in the Gaddafi sponsored terror era.)

  40. whheydt says

    Perhaps what is needed is to get something through Congress (and then signed into law) that declares that the only “well regulated militias” in the US are the various state National Guard organizations. Want guns? Join the national Guard, and maintain good standing with it.

  41. says

    Basically, Jefferson was on drugs. And he was something of an outlier on this w.r.t. the other FF:

    The whole reason we have a Constitution in the first place is Madison, Washington, etc were scared shitless by Shay’s Rebellion. Jefferson was all relax, don’t worry about it / we need revolutions every so often to keep us honest / etc, and THAT is the context of his 1787 letter.

    The other piece of context that people forget is that he was writing from Paris — far removed from western Massachusetts where shit was going down. He did have a front row seat for the initial stages of the French revolution. But, Louis XVI was still king; i.e., people were angry and the powder keg was about to go off, but it hadn’t gone off YET. And, of course, this was all well before everything went sideways, i.e., before Robespierre’s reign of terror, and all of the shit leading up to Napoleon….

    . . . by which point TJ had long since returned to the US to be GW’s Secretary of State and Adam’s VP. Meaning Jefferson’s only firsthand experience of revolution at that point was (1) the American one, and (2) the optimism people were feeling about the French one that hadn’t happened yet. Meaning he had ZERO experience with places like Somalia and Afghanistan (i.e., places where “more guns” = “more latitude for your local warlord to decide what your freedoms are”)

    So it shouldn’t be any kind of surprise that he’d be overly optimistic about the end result of giving everybody guns.

    And we don’t really have any quotes from him later in life on this because what the 2nd Amendment really was about, ie. what people were actually debating at the time was the whole question of whether there should be a federal standing army and worries that if the militias were abolished that would open the door to tyranny

    . . . a question that was a thoroughly dead letter by the 1800s, after the US had to go to war with the Barbary coast states and wars with Britain and France were looming and people realized that, yes, we needed an actual fucking army and Madison’s bullshit theory that the militia would suffice for everything was NEVER going to work.

    The question of an individual right never really came up until the 20th century.

  42. says

    @25. It wasn’t just about runaway slave patrols. Being able to kill Indians was at least as important.

    Recall that the British had prohibited new settlements west of the Appalachians back in 1763. To be sure, people were undoubtedly defying the order, but not in large numbers prior to 1783. Meaning at the time of the drafting of the Constitution, the 5 southern states, NY and PA were still very much on the front lines, w.r.t dealing with the Native Americans.

  43. StevoR says

    @ ^ wrog : “dealing with” like “dispersing” here in Oz being the euphemism for massacring and genociding I guess?

  44. says

    I tend think of “dealing with” as covering a wide range of activities, but maybe that’s an American English thing. (and I did say “kill”; it’s not like I’m trying to paper over anything…)