Politics Thread


#521

I doubt Texas will secede that would be the dumbest mistake any state could make. USA stands for United States of America not Unorganized Stupid Anarchists


#522

On Secession:The United States is nowhere near the crisis that would be required for states like Texas to seriously consider seceding. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, just that I don’t see it happening outside of an extremely severe crisis on a scale to make the Great Depression look smalltime.

Value of the 2nd Ammendment: Personally, I sympathize with the argument that the 2nd amendment helps to keep the United States free, but only in tandem with the rest of the Bill of Rights. It is by no means more important than the rights to free speech and to freely assemble. In fact, I agree with @Havenstone that the latter are even more important. That doesn’t mean I’m willing to sacrifice the 2nd however. In addition to enshrining the right to self-defense, it serves to make a government leaning towards totalitarianism think twice about getting overly heavily handed with its opposition for fear of triggering a violent insurrection that it can not hope to win.

Mass unarmed protests are well and good when the government, or at least the police force, has a heart, but not all governments and government goons have a heart. Some are perfectly willing to fire on unarmed civilians. And whose to say that the US government will --always-- have a heart? OR that a national crisis will never arrive that would enable a tyrant to take power in a time of fear after having been elected by a desperate majority? There are plenty of places in the world where this is exactly what has happened. And while this sort of dire event is highly unlikely in the America of the present, despite what some alarmists may say, that doesn’t mean it either can not or will not ever happen. In essence, the 2nd amendment gives even a 10% minority of the population, if sufficiently oppressed, the power to veto a legitimately elected government that has since betrayed the constitution and run amok in its use of armed force.

Gun Control Legislation: Finally on the topic of gun control legislation in the US, I agree that the opposition of the NRA to expanded background checks is misguided as violent felons and nut-cases with violent tendencies should not be able to buy firearms. Nevertheless I consider the attempt to create an entirely new class of weapons out of thin air, ie. the so called “assault weapons”, along with the attempt to spread fear about this new made-up class of firearms rather disingenuous, especially since they are so often superimposed with video clips of already heavily restricted “assault rifles” in the hopes of confusing audiences. This made up class of “assault weapons” doesn’t actually include the already heavily restricted “assault rifles” with which its supporters so often confuse it with. Instead this new class of weapons consists of the “scariest looking” civilian ownable rifles which are used in less than 0.5% of gun-related homicides. --Real-- “assault rifles” capable of automatic fire have been heavily restricted for decades.


#523

In my opinion, I actually think the Canadian system of gun ownership is a rather good one (and that’s not just me being Canadian talking): You need to pass a background check and an eight to ten hour gun safety course, then pass an exam before they let you own any kind of firearm.

Certain types of guns (notably most bolt-action rifles, shotguns and black-powder from before 1898) are classified as non-restricted: you’re allowed to get those as soon as you can prove you’re not going to shoot your foot off, or your neighbour’s foot off. Above that there’s restricted guns, which require registration and a restricted firearms license, and above that, there’s prohibited guns, which are illegal. Most of what some would classify as “assault weapons” (though that classification is ridiculous in itself: the actual classification is for weapons capable of fully automatic fire, or have been modified to be so capable) fall into that category.

It’s a system which, I think, works pretty well for a country which has a good number of hunters (many professional) and other people who rely on firearms for their livelihood, despite the common perception that nobody owns a gun here. To me, it strikes a balance between not being allowed any kind of firearm for any reason (either through direct legislation, or through a web of red tape) and simply letting everyone and their mothers mount GAU-8s on their front porches for “home defence”.

Context: I don’t own a gun, though there’s a nice deal going on SKSes in a place downtown that I plan on getting in on.


#524

@Cataphrak I agree that a balance is required. Gun ownership by law-abiding citizens should not be banned, but neither should everyone and their mothers be able to mount GAU-8’s on their front porches for “home defence”.

Gun registration, even more so than licensing, is a particularly touchy issue in the US because it so often turns into a prelude to confiscation, as occurred in Canada with small calibre handguns. The government needs to know what you own before it can effectively demand that you surrender it. Gun registries also enable thieves who manage to somehow gain access to the database to target highly desired weapons for theft. Most gun owners in the US are thus fervently against the entire concept of gun registration.

BTW, the US 9th Circuit Federal Appellate Court’s decision today on the right to lawfully carry a firearm for the purpose of self-protection in Peruta v. Sand Diego is potentially huge. It builds on a previous 7th Circuit decision as well as previous Supreme Court decisions and disagrees with previous 2nd, 3rd and 4th Circuit decisions. The Supreme Court is virtually guaranteed to take either this case or the appeal that’s been filed in the 3rd Circuit case to break the disagreement, possibly even both, and barring sudden unexpected changes in the roster of Supreme Court Justices, odds are that the 9th Circuit’s decision will be affirmed.


#525

@P_Tigras makes his case well as usual. So I’ll use his words to describe the dystopian downside of the current US gun regime: it gives even a 10% minority of the population, if sufficiently ideological, the power to wage guerrilla war against a legitimately elected government and terrorize their fellow citizens.

That’s also happened in plenty of countries. US gun advocates’ dystopian arguments generally fail to move Europeans; surely a key reason is that for millions, armed domestic insurgency is a far more recent experience than totalitarianism (eg Spaniards, Brits, Germans, Italians).

Though I know which dystopia I find more plausible, we’re leagues away from either disaster in the US, so frankly it’s a bit of a sideshow. I’d rather see gun policy decided based on evidence of current impact. But because that evidence is mixed and contested, arguments based on speculative, dire future scenarios seem to be ever more popular.


#526

@Havenstone I completely agree with you philosophically, having see the results of a universally armed and destabilized population first hand, but as you have indicated in your post it is highly context dependent. I think the US government risks a potentially of a violent backlash in any attempt to confiscate weapons that were already legally obtained. Living in Japan since 2009 has given me some valuable outside perspective. Americans are highly suspicious of authority of any kind particularly if that authority retroactively tries to “take back” something that was already legal or an ex post facto violation for lack of a better term.

The language in the second amendment in my opinion, “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” is clear in that it was designed to protect states from foreign invasion and a tyrannical federal government. At the time the United States were considered by most of the founders to be 13 separate countries unified by a weak central government for the purpose of mutual interest/defense. Obviously things have changed in 238 years, and there is no question the intent of the 2nd amendment has been exceeded. I am pretty sure even Thomas Jefferson would not have approved of universal automatic rifle ownership.

Nonetheless I think the decisions on what constitutes “a well regulated militia” has to be answered at the local and state level else the federal government risks triggering the violent chaos they hope to avoid with legislation mandating confiscation of any type of weapon.

Additionally, basically Pandora Box is open. The US is never going to get 250 million weapons under any kind of reasonable control. The best that can be done at this point is controlling how new or used weapons are sold, traded, exchanged etc.


#527

I’m not willing to take to the streets over moderate gun control passed through legislation. I am most certainly willing to take to the streets over any gun control passed through an executive order. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro gun control or anti gun control in the situation indicated by our the president and vice president as their possible, and likely course of action opinions on gun control are irrelavent it is an abuse of power that I cannot tolerate


#528

@cascat07
The American love of firearms and the penchant for Americans to use personal firearms ownership as a symbol of freedom from government and a safeguard from an overbearing or tyrannical authority is a very old cultural tradition. The gun is a very common symbol of those who embody what many consider “American values” (self-reliance, the ability to build something from nothing, a willingness to sacrifice security for freedom) in the American national mythology, from the minutemen, to Davy Crockett, to the cowboys of the old west. Even before the American Revolution, the colonies were heavily influenced by English common law, which, though unwritten, would include many of the rights enshrined by the Bill of Rights, including the right to bear arms.

In the United States, owning a firearm, or at least, being able to own a firearm, is a crucial part of the american cultural myth, as a symbol of personal freedom. In other cultures, where firearms are not thus enshrined (Japan, for instance), there’s much less resistance to gun control.

I’d also like to note that the “Well regulated militia” stated by the Bill of Rights was probably referring to a regular army (as there wasn’t one when the Bill of Rights was being written). The Second Amendment was likely a safeguard against that army: marking sure that the general population were armed in case whoever was in charge of that army decided to promote himself from “General” to “King”, as was pretty common throughout history.

@817819
The worrying thing about the (at least from my point of view) increasing partisanship in the American legislative branch is the fact that a lot of the general population are becoming radicalised due to the fact that the normal channels seem deadlocked thanks to partisan rivalry, to the point where they wouldn’t *care* if a PotUS abused his power to ram through policy changes through executive order, so long as it was a policy change they elected him for.


#529

As @Cataphrak has already alluded to, the definition of “well regulated” has shifted a bit over the past two centuries. The Supreme Court itself recognized this in its landmark 2008 decision in DC vs. Heller. Basically in the time it was written, “well regulated militia " didn’t mean a"state-sanctioned national guard” or a “right of the government to restrict militia’s”, it meant a “working” or “effective militia”. This implies that potential militia members need to be able to shoot straight and hit what they’re shooting at, or they’re ineffective in a battle. This is the meaning of the dependent clause in the 2nd amendment which is given as a supporting, but not exclusive, reason for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Having just fought the revolutionary war with volunteer militias, and as directly stated in the Declaration of Independence, as well in the communications of several of the 2nd amendment’s framer’s, the right of the citizenry to take up arms against a tyrannical government was considered implicit by many of the US’s founders.

Prior to the Heller decision, there was a great deal of arguing over not only the definition of “well regulated militia”, but also the meaning of the punctuation in the 2nd amendment. In its Heller decision, the Supreme Court settled that debate.


#530

@Havenstone: Given the devastation of the two World Wars and several ongoing highly violent separatist movements, I can completely understand why much of Europe (Switzerland being a notable exception that is lionized in America) has chosen to go in a very different direction. Violent partisans have been a very real problem, and in a few places, still are. Nevertheless, that said, there is a sense among many Americans, rightly or wrongly, that much of Western Europe has shifted too far in the opposite direction, having grown culturally “soft”, and become overly dependent on its tougher American brother’s military strength.

Coming back to Switzerland, a country with very long traditions of multi-ethnic Democracy, gun ownership, and a citizen militia known for its excellent marksmanship, I’m reminded of the following story. When the German Kaiser asked in 1912 what the Swiss would do if invaded by twice as many German troops as there were able-bodied male citizens in Switzerland, the Swiss replied, “We’d each shoot twice and then go home.” Unlike much of the rest of Europe, Germany did not invade Switzerland, in either World War. If there is a European nation to which America’s gun-rights supporters feel akin, it is the Swiss.


#531

Maybe people should be less focused on the guns in gun violence and more focused on the violence portion. Shooting up a school or mall has become a regular occurrence, and that’s just unacceptable so here’s my diagnosis of my country’s current obsession with violence. When I was six I was diagnosed with adhd, and put on a drug known as concerta any who this caused me to develop some symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia hearing voices seeing things that weren’t real that sort of stuff obviously the suppression of a minor disorder such as ADHD is certainly not a fair trade for the side effects I was experiencing. Let me give you another example I was taken off concerta because it began to cause me to experience seizures I was promptly medicated for seizures with an drug kepra. Well kepra had side effects as well it caused me to behave with extreme hostility towards others. Eventually my parents took me off kepra and stopped medicating me all together but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that just maybe if we didn’t pump kids full of drugs that caused them to hear voices in their heads telling them to bite a squirrel’s head off we wouldn’t need to focus so much on gun control.


#532

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.

in·fringe verb \in-ˈfrinj\
: to do something that does not obey or follow (a rule, law, etc.) ( chiefly US )

: to wrongly LIMIT OR RESTRICT (something, such as a person’s rights)

(emphasis added by me)

I think almost any gun control law wrongly limits or restricts your right to gun ownership. I do not think that allowing people to have tanks and rocket launchers should be acceptable, but blanket bans and background checks do not work. They simply take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens.

My $.02


#533

Quick notes: I agree that context is all, and that in America solutions are usually best developed at state level or lower - federal solutions are often an overreach of one kind or another. Especially when they represent the exertion of judicial or executive power rather than the US legislature.

Europe’s current underspending on defense is I think only loosely linked at best to its rules on private gun ownership; lumping them together under the heading of cultural softness is a tempting but misleading analysis.

And of the many reasons the Swiss remained neutral and uninvaded through the 20th century, I’d imagine that the marksmanship of its militia members falls well below eg its inconvenient geography, relative lack of extractive resources, and the usefulness of various Switzerland-based services (notably financial) to people on all sides. Happy to hear that I’m wrong, though - it’s not an issue I’ve studied closely.


#534

@Havenstone Loosely linked, but not necessarily misleading. There is significant correlation between the two when it comes to sheltered activists who delude themselves and others into believing that violence never solves anything, and see every pound/franc/mark spent on the military as one stolen from their pet social projects. As Neville Chamberlain proved in 1938, dialogue does not always work. Occasionally force really is the only solution, whether we’re talking personal defense, or national defense. The predators of our world often understand little else.

As for the lack of a German invasion of Switzerland, it is certainly true that geography was a massive defensive multiplier on behalf of the Swiss in the calculations of the German High Command, but without people ready and willing to fight tooth and nail that geography would have been useless. Furthermore, Switzerland wasn’t the only country in Europe on Germany’s borders with mountains, but it was the only country on German’s borders that Germany did not invade at some point.

It’s also certainly true that the Swiss didn’t have much in the way of natural resources and this no doubt was factored into the German cost-benefit analysis. On the other hand the Swiss banking sector I’d argue was a tempting target. It was very much in Germany’s interest to shut off the flow of capital to its enemies, and to pressure the Swiss into investing more heavily into German manufacturing. And yet Germany never did invade. This map (http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/citizensoldier/conflicts/WWIIeto/images/europomap.gif) of mid 1944 German occupied Europe is rather striking given the Switzerland-sized hole in the sea of German control. In the end Germany concluded that it just wasn’t worth the price they’d have to pay. So Switzerland ended up being one of the very few countries in Europe, and the only one on the German border, that was spared the horrors of war.


#535

I should note that I was thinking in historic terms above. To be current, I should have also thrown Euro’s into the mix above as well since they’ve replaced most European currencies, including the Mark and most variants of the Franc.


#536

Alright…interesting.
I’m sorry to have left everyone again with no warning. I had been busy at work and with my son, but I should be back for a solid month at least. Glad to see you guys again.
Have we discussed abortion here yet?


#537

Regarding the Second Amendment, are there any actual militias in the US that aren’t subjected to complete control of the government? I feel the “right to bear arms” portion of that text is in conjecture with the “well regulated Militia” part of the text. I’ve asked this on Reddit once but I didn’t really get many replies.


#538

To answer your question, @hahaha01357, if a state were to have a militia, it would be either under the control of the governor or the federal state. There are no ‘independent’ militias that are paid by the state to assist in times of crisis or distress. Those are known as private military outfits.


#539

But how often do government sponsored militaries take up arms against its employers? (when not trying to seize power for themselves of course)


#540

Private military outfits, or mercenaries, are often hired by undermanned governments low on troops to aid with tasks and possibly participate in combat. Most outfits are not large. They are often just support, taking essential jobs while the regular soldiers are relocated for combat or other reasons. I haven’t heard of a private military taking over it’s employer. Most of them are just overqualified soldiers with nothing else to really do. They are paid pretty well, too. In short, they don’t have the numbers or the want to seize power.