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Guns and Crime

You decide: the gun debate between libertarians and conservatives

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In any given debate on the 2nd Amendment between the Right and Left, the unfortunate truth is that those arguing in favor of drastically heightened or “comprehensive” gun control tend not to know their history or anything about guns generally, and they find it difficult to articulate why a blanket ban on all guns wouldn’t be more productive than simply outlawing certain rifles.

Take, for example, Ben Shapiro’s notorious interview with Piers Morgan, as well as any interview Steven Crowder has done on the subject with SkyNews.

But for a much more nuanced discussion of the unalienable right to keep and bear arms, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’ve never heard a debate between dissenting Right-wing voices. Typically, this will materialize between a libertarian (arguing for as little government as possible) and a conservative (defending natural rights while attempting to maximize freedom through limited yet necessary order).

For purposes of this breakdown, my goal is to simply and briefly present the case for each of these two camps, not to argue in favor of one or another. Again, when two parties hold such similar worldviews, any disagreements will depend on greater levels of nuance than simply “you can’t own a gun” vs. “you can own all the guns.” As such, this might not be the best introduction to the topic, nor would it be very productive to share with your Left-leaning friends. But if you’re a libertarian or a conservative and wish to iron out where you stand on the 2nd Amendment and the appropriate regulation of firearms, then I hope you’ll find this discussion profitable.

(For more background on the 2nd Amendment generally, listen to this episode of The New Guards Podcast wherein I describe the Founders’ views on the right to bear arms.)

Conservatives:

Like any right, the right to keep and bear arms must be respected and upheld, but that doesn’t mean it’s absolute. In general, the appropriate standard for small, justifiable restrictions on rights is the maximization of freedom through the proper response to public safety issues.

For instance, free speech doesn’t apply to those who demonstrate a clear and present danger, specifically one involving a call to action that involves intent, likelihood, and imminence. Religious freedom does not protect female genital mutilation, suicide bombings, or human sacrifice. Regarding taxation in general, citizens are required to “cede to [the government] some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

The 2nd Amendment is no different, and early lawmakers and Founding Fathers understood this. William Blackstone and James Wilson both supported 14th-Century English precedent which asserted, “Riding or Going Arm’d with dangerous and unusual Weapons to the Terror of the People, is an Offence at Common Law, and Prohibited by Statute” — or, as Wilson specifically noted, “[carrying] dangerous and unusual weapons, in such a manner, as will naturally diffuse a terrour among the people.”

This standard was upheld in Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller, along with 1939’s United States v. Miller precedent, that “the traditional militia was formed from a pool of men bringing arms ‘in common use at the time’ for lawful purposes like self-defense.”

In other words, the 2nd Amendment may be curbed in small ways to ensure the public safety, to avoid diffusing terror among the people, and to limit its protection to weapons in common usage. Herein we find the justification for banning nukes, tanks, RPGs, grenades, and fully automatic weapons like AK-47s and M-16s, which present more of a hazard to public safety than a reasonable check against tyranny.

Another check in favor of public safety is federal background checks, which is a small grievance compared with the extreme risk posed by granting violent felons unlimited access to firearms.

Finally, while the undeniable purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to secure the right of the people in order to stand up against a tyrannical government, this can be done without the aid of such extreme measures. If the War on Terror, Vietnam, and most importantly the Revolutionary War have taught us anything, it’s not to count out the little guy.

Libertarians:

Not all libertarians are anarchists. #NotAllLibertarians. There’s nothing wrong with reasonable restrictions such as those mentioned for free speech, religious liberty, and minimal taxation.

But the phrase “dangerous and unusual” is entirely subjective. Arguably, all firearms are dangerous, and depending on experience, training, and even video game history, a gun that is unusual to some might be perfectly normal to others.

Furthermore, the “common use” test is so slippery that could readily increase dangers to the American public and needlessly restrict natural rights. A gun should not be banned simply because it is has fallen out of style or is ahead of its time, any more than free speech should no longer apply to MySpace, telegrams, and rotary phones. Who deems a commodity “common”? And what of gun collectors, whose trade relies precisely on obtaining that which is not common? Are they no longer entitled to keep their uncommon arms?

Nuclear weapons have nothing to do with this conversation. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is for the people to adequately defend itself against a tyrannical government. There is no instance in which the people could use nukes against the government without incurring devastating casualties among civilians.

Fully automatic weapons and explosives are a different story. The Founders knew of and sanctioned early automatic weapons such as the Belton flintlock, Puckle gun, and Girandoni air rifle. In 2013, Ben Shapiro erroneously claimed that the 2nd Amendment didn’t extend to owning cannons, but James Madison recognized this very provision in 1812.

Modern semi-automatic rifles are undeniably protected under the 2nd Amendment despite being far more advanced than muskets. Wouldn’t it then stand to reason that an AR-15 is to a musket as an M-16 is to a Belton flintlock or as an RPG is to a cannon?

There is no public safety without the ability to confidently stand against a tyrannical government. Such an occasion is unlikely, but should it become necessary, that’s not the kind of thing to leave to chance. The American people must be suitably armed.

Bring it back in:

This is a compelling debate that I don’t quite know how to settle, and it’s not my intention to do so now. And in all honesty, given that millions of Americans and half the Supreme Court want a total gun confiscation anyway, this is pretty much just a hypothetical exercise in debate rather than a serious referendum on realistic policy.

At the very least, it’s a good space to practice consistency in your constitutional argumentation, so enjoy the practice!


Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. jay

    March 11, 2018 at 10:51 am

    very well written nice to see someone throw facts over emotion

  2. Kathy Deles

    March 11, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Excellent article. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

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Guns and Crime

Will the left finally admit that gun confiscation has failed to keep people safe?

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Will the Left finally admit that gun confiscation has failed to keep people safe

Shouldn’t the gun confiscation crowd admit that depriving the people of the right of self-defense hasn’t kept people safe?

That didn’t take long. In many cases it’s easy to predict how long a news story will stay in the headlines. Yesterday, December 11, 2018 a terrorist shouting “Allahu Akbar” attacked a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg.

French police release image of Christmas market attack suspect

https://news.sky.com/story/one-dead-in-french-christmas-market-shooting-11578206The killer, who opened fire with a handgun and used a knife to stab people, is still on the run after he was shot in the arm during a gunfight with police.

He escaped in a taxi and there are concerns he may have fled to Germany where vehicles are now being checked at the border.

Chekatt has 27 convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland, said prosecutor Remy Heitz.

In less than 24 hours, the story has almost dropped from the headlines. Had this taken place stateside, the liberty grabbers on the left would have exploited the tragedy for maximum political gain within minutes. The problem is this didn’t take place in the states, but rather in a locale with strict controls on freedom. The perpetrator also used a handgun and used a knife instead of an evil black rifle. Finally, the killer made his motives clear by what he shouted.

Therefore, it was adverse to the left’s ‘gun reform’ agenda of gun confiscation. Nothing that could be construed at least at present as being an ‘assault weapon’ or whatever the term is this week. Lastly, the evidence points to this being Islamic terrorism. Even though the manhunt continues as this is being reported, the point remains. This was an obvious failure of the left’s gun confiscation agenda and it shows the threat of Islamic terrorism so the story has virtually disappeared.

Location, location, location

Compare the coverage of this story with a similar situation of a shooting in the states. Most likely the refrain would have been this only happens in the states because of the NRA or GOA wants to keep liberty and the right of self-defense. Most assuredly, they wouldn’t have phrased it that way, since they still have to keep up the fiction that they are ‘liberal’ in some form or another. It would have been couched in terms of ‘gun reform’ or ‘gun safety’ or whatever the terms happens to be this week.

Liberty grabber plans after their take-over of the House of Representatives

Since we’re on the subject, take note of the plans of the leftist liberty grabbers to denigrate the common-sense human right of self-preservation come January when they take-over the House of Representatives. As reported in the Hartford Courant:

Gun control advocates optimistic new Congress will act on their agenda

https://www.courant.com/politics/hc-pol-blumethal-murphy-newtown-guns-20181206-story.htmlBut now Democrats will seize the reins and plan to press for votes on measures that would tighten federal gun laws after the new Congress begins work in January. Once ignored, key proposals, including the expansion of FBI background checks of gun purchasers, are now likely to pass the U.S. House with its new Democratic majority.

On Thursday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who hopes to be the next House speaker, said “we will pass common sense gun violence prevention legislation soon, and … it will be bipartisan.”

Why does a failure in government overreach have to mean even more government overreach? From now on, it should be incumbent on the politicians to carefully explain why they need even more control over our lives. They need to show their work in just how some new ‘solution’ is supposed to solve the problem. This would include citing examples of unbiased reportage on similar ‘solutions’ from other locations that have actually worked.

Rapid firing rifles, oh my!

Then in the same article, a chilling turn of phrase on the issue of ‘the rapid firing of rifles’:

Other bills that will be keyed up for votes include … bans on “bump stocks” that allow the rapid firing of rifles and “3D” guns made with special printers and limiting magazines to no more than 10 bullets.

[Our emphasis]

Did everyone catch that? They are no longer referring to terms that have specific definitions such as automatic or semiautomatic fire. They are now referring to the speed of the operation of a weapon, not its functionality in select fire modes. We already know that they want to push the issue down the infamous slippery slope of government overreach. This means that they are signalling a change in rate of fire as a way of controlling our basic human Right of self-defense, as predicted by those opposed to Trump’s ‘meaningless’ surrender on the ‘Bump-Stock’ issue.

In other words, now that Trump and the NRA gave up an important point for absolutely no credit from the Liberty grabber community, they will use that inch’ and take it a mile. Instead of discussions of Automatic or Semiautomatic fire, the talking point will be on the ‘Rapid firing’ of guns as being too deadly. It should be patently obvious were the Liberty grabbers on the left will take it from there.

The Takeaway.

For too long the Left has taken the ‘throwing…papers up against a wall technique’ hoping that something will stick i.e. something will finally work. Meanwhile, the extent of our Liberty shrinks each time.

There is always a cost to every new idea of the Left. For every piece of legislation, there is an accompanying cost in Liberty and dollars. For the case of Leftist steps to gun confiscation, we citizens have a right to know how these measures will supposedly keep people safe. For far too long the Left has taken credit for making everyone safer without actually proving it. We are rapidly reaching the tipping point to gun confiscation, so from now on they have to prove that their draconian controls will work as promised. If they cannot, they shouldn’t attain more control over our lives.

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Guns and Crime

Yes, the President really is in trouble this time

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Yes the President really is in trouble this time

For over two years now, we’ve heard the leftist mainstream media and their Democratic Party puppet masters claiming every incident involving the President is the big one. We’ve heard that every “bombshell” means the beginning of the end, how the walls are closing in on him, and how we’ve reached a tipping point.

They even made a video about it.

Hilarious video: Bombshell, the beginning of the end, walls closing in, the tipping point

http://noqreport.com/2018/10/19/hilarious-video-bombshell-beginning-end-walls-closing-tipping-point/Most leftists remember it like a previous generation remembers when they heard JFK was killed. It was the moment they realized Donald Trump would become President of the United States. Since then, mainstream media has been incessant in their proclamations that his days are numbered.

Perhaps it’s comforting to them to continuously hear about how the latest bombshell means it’s the beginning of the end because the walls are closing in on a presidency that has reached a tipping point. Or something.

He has not only survived but thrived through these controversies. This time, it’s different. President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, and AMI, the parent company of his beloved National Enquirer, are both claiming they participated in paying hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, respectively. These payments were allegedly made with the sole purpose of keeping their stories of extra-marital sexual affairs off the radar before the 2016 election.

In essence, these were unreported campaign expenditures and/or contributions. They can therefore be considered campaign finance violations, leaving only three questions unanswered:

  1. Can special counsel Robert Mueller’s or SDNY U.S. Attorney’s investigations prove then-candidate Trump participated in the crimes?
  2. If they can prove it, what actions can they take now or later?
  3. How will Democrats use this to sink the President before the 2020 election?

What’s not a question is whether or not this will affect the President’s 2020 prospects. It will. If nothing else happens with this, the damage is done. Unfortunately for the President, there are very likely many things that will now happen with this.

Prosecutors have to decide whether they want to open up the can of worms regarding indicting a sitting President. They could announce a delay in the indictments until after his term is completed. They could try to go after others in his campaign or family who are not protected by the presidential seal.

Then, there’s the Democrats. When they take over the House of Representatives next year, the possibilities are endless. They could investigate and subpoena him ceaselessly, revealing all sorts of additional dirt on him. Even if they don’t formally impeach him, the dirt they can glean from the investigative process will almost certainly reveal other corrupt, unethical, or illegal skeletons in his huge closets.

The Cohen and National Enquirer revelations are much more damaging than anything the President has faced to date. Many of his supporters won’t admit it or will refuse to see it, but this is a major blow to his reelection hopes.

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Guns and Crime

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

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Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s once-devoted lawyer and all-around fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after telling a federal judge that his “blind loyalty” to Trump led him to cover up the president’s “dirty deeds.”

Standing alone at the defense table, Cohen, 52, shook his head slightly and closed his eyes as the judge pronounced the sentence for crimes that included lying about his boss’ business dealings in Russia and funneling hush money to two women who said they had sex with Trump — payments that both Cohen and federal prosecutors said were made at Trump’s direction to fend off damage to his White House bid.

Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate the president in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question.

Separately, prosecutors announced Wednesday that they filled in another piece of the puzzle in the hush-money case: The parent company of the National Enquirer acknowledged making one of those payments “in concert” with the Trump campaign to protect Trump from a story that could have hurt his candidacy.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved modest credit for his decision over the summer to admit guilt and cooperate in the federal investigation of efforts by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, but his assistance “does not wipe the slate clean.”

“Somewhere along the way Mr. Cohen appears to have lost his moral compass,” the judge said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better.”

The judge also ordered Cohen to pay $1.39 million restitution, forfeit $500,000 and pay $100,000 in fines. He was ordered to report to prison March 6 and left court without comment.

The prison sentence was in line with what prosecutors asked for. Sentencing guidelines called for around four to five years, and the government asked in court papers that Cohen be given only a slight break.

“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen, who once boasted he would “take a bullet” for Trump, told the judge before the sentence came down. “Time and time again, I thought it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than listen to my voice.”

Cohen got choked up near the end of his remarks and paused briefly to compose himself. His daughter, seated behind him, sobbed throughout. As he returned to his seat, he ran his hand across her cheek.

Cohen’s lawyers had argued for leniency, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators rather than hold out for a possible pardon.

“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” defense attorney Guy Petrillo told the judge.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Last month, he also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by concealing that he was negotiating a proposal to build a Trump skyscraper in Moscow deep into the presidential campaign season. He said he lied out of devotion to Trump, who had insisted during the campaign that he had no business ties whatsoever to Russia.

The sentence was the culmination of a spectacular rise and fast fall of a lawyer who attached himself to the fortunes of his biggest client, helped him get elected president, then turned on him, cooperating with two interconnected investigations: one run by federal prosecutors in New York, the other by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.

Beyond the guilty pleas, it is unclear exactly what Cohen has told prosecutors, and it remains to be seen how much damage Cohen’s cooperation will do to Trump. Legal experts said Cohen could get his sentence reduced if he strikes a deal with prosecutors to tell them more.

Cohen said in court that he will continue cooperating. And his legal adviser Lanny Davis, who previously represented President Bill Clinton, said the former political fixer will tell publicly “all he knows” about Trump after Mueller completes his investigation, and that includes testifying before Congress.

“Mr. Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts,” Davis said in a statement.

In the hush-money case, prosecutors said, Cohen arranged for the parent company of the National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to McDougal. He also paid $130,000 to Daniels and was reimbursed by Trump’s business empire.

Prosecutors said the McDougal payment violated federal law against corporate campaign contributions, while the money that went to Daniels exceeded the $2,700 limit on campaign donations. Also, campaign contributions must be reported under law, and the two hush-money payments were not disclosed.

Shortly after Cohen’s sentencing, federal authorities announced a deal not to prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent, American Media Inc. As part of the deal, AMI admitted making the $150,000 payment to McDougal to buy her silence about the alleged affair and fend off damage to Trump’s candidacy.

In a court filing last week, the prosecutors left no doubt that they believe Cohen arranged the hush-money payments at Trump’s direction, saying the maneuver was part of an effort to “influence the election from the shadows.”

Trump had denied any sexual relationship with the women and argued on Twitter earlier this week that the payments to the women were “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. And if it was a prohibited contribution, Trump said, Cohen is the one who should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote, adding, “Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

An attorney for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the sentencing, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, Jeannie Rhee, said Cohen has “sought to tell us the truth and that is of the utmost value to us” and has “provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation.” She did not elaborate.

But the New York-based prosecutors who handled the case against Cohen had urged the judge to sentence him to a “substantial” prison term and said he failed to tell investigators everything he knows.

In addressing the judge, Cohen described the sentencing as “the day I am getting my freedom back.” He said he had suffered from a “personal and mental incarceration” ever since agreeing in 2007 to work for Trump, a man he admired. “I now know there is little to be admired,” Cohen said.

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who played a major role in exposing the hush-money discussions, said outside the courthouse: “We will not stop until the truth is known relating to the conduct of Donald Trump.” But he added: “Let me be clear, Michael Cohen is neither a hero nor a patriot” and “he deserves every day of the 36-month sentence he will serve.”

___

Associated Press writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to fix “felt” to “thought” in Cohen’s quote about covering up “dirty deeds.”

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