Saturday, October 16, 2010

The right to bare arms.

Hi everyone,

Saturday's column.

The right to ‘bare’ arms
Even better: We don’t have to exercise 2nd Amendment right

Two weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon in West Bend, several dozen citizens met at a local coffee shop to demonstrate their right to openly carry legal sidearms. This “casual open-carry get-together,” organized through, the “premier resource” for right to carry, went off without a hitch. Holsters and weapons were polished for the occasion, the police were in attendance to monitor the situation, just in case; and the coffee was delicious.

This wasn’t a protest, really, since there is nothing to protest. Article 1 section 25 of the Wisconsin State constitution, enacted in 1998, states that “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”

Moreover, the June 28, 2010, federal Supreme Court ruling, affirming its interpretation of the Second Amendment, now guarantees that individuals may bear arms whether they’re in a militia or not. Openly carrying your constitutionally protected firearms isn’t a protest, but a display of rights guaranteed by the Constitution and federal courts and so, despite the police presence, these citizens simply met up at a local coffee shop in exactly the same way antique car fans — or model train aficionados — show up at local burger joints: to have fun and to compare muzzle velocity and stopping power.

The event was covered by the press and the local blogosphere.

But, during that week and in the weeks that followed, an even more remarkable demonstration was under way, completely under the radar of the national or even the local press.

In the weeks since the Open Carry demonstration, not dozens, but thousands of people entered that same coffee shop, bought coffee, and even talked to their friends — wait for it — completely unarmed.

Remarkable? I’ll say. But even more astonishing is that, during this past week alone, as many as 30,000 people in West Bend went shopping, picked up dry cleaning, drove to work, and even attended church — yes, unarmed.

So many people participated in this society-wide demonstration that nobody even noticed.

While I could have celebrated my right to openly carry a sidearm while enjoying a monster nerve-jarring latte (three shots and whole milk please),

I chose instead to celebrate an even more remarkable American privilege: the privilege of not having to carry weapons anymore.

We no longer have to protect ourselves as we did in the days of the Wild West. Not only is it safe nowadays to play poker with friends, or even walk your dog, without strapping on a six-shooter, we no longer have to fight off bears — or coyotes. Or pumas.

Or desperadoes. We don’t even need to defend ourselves against bandits now that we have a police force. In fact, it turns out that it’s a lot safer to let the police handle all of that for us.

One of the better, more recent studies on gun ownership (by the University of Pennsylvania Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology from October 2009) found that, in Philadelphia at any rate, those who carried guns were 4.5 times more likely to get shot, and 4.2 times more likely to get killed than those who don’t.

Recent numbers from the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics (2007) indicate the greatest number of deaths from handguns are, in fact, suicides.

Gun lobbyists will argue with any numbers related to the defensive use of handguns, but you can’t argue with dinner. Just remember that every day you’re able to eat a cheeseburger without reaching for your Ruger LCP or Glock 19, you’re part of a much larger, much quieter demonstration: a daily celebration of nationhood where you have a right to bear arms, but don’t need to.

I'm not happy about the secondary headline that my editor added -- probably assuming the pun in the original headline needed clarification. I didn't want to say that not-exercising ones Second Amendment rights was "better" but that it's an even greater privilege not to have to carry a weapon when picking up a cup of coffee.

It'd be okay to note that a counter-demonstration was in the works but was scrapped because of safety concerns. It involved a phalanx of 10-year olds wielding super-soaker squirt guns, but there was some parental concern that a few of the kids might actually shot by the honorable yahoos who needed to show off their... pieces. So the squirt guns got scratched.

I guess the Open Carry folks got their message across after all.



sofa said...

At first, I thought the article was about states rights (citing state law and not the Constitution). Consider that Mr. Licoln killed millions to force that federal law onto your state. Ignoring the law of the land, much?

Then I realized the article was about you wanting me to comply with your feelings. Well, Liberty means you must acknowledge that I exist, and that my existence and opinions are not derived from your permission.

And I have been endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights; among them Life, Liberty, and Property, and the persuit of my happiness. As I value my life and my family's lives, it would be counter-logical to not protect our lives and our property.

"When seconds count, the Police are only minutes away."

Being responsible for one's own self is an 'individualist' philosophy that values life; and is enshrined in the founding of our limited form of government.

Being irresponsible for oneself is un-American.


Disarming yourself is your choice.

But don't tell me what I can and cannot do! I have God given natural rights acknowledged in the Constitution.

If there is a federal government, then it's laws acknowledge the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and those rights shall not be infringed.

Or there is no law, and I can take you as a slave, for example, since you choose not to value your life enough to protect yourself.

Is your life not worth defending?
Or do you insist that my life is not worth defending?
Or that my rights no longer exist?
Or that I never had any rights?
Or that all my rights depend on your feelings?

Ask the Armenians (1915) about disarmament.
Ask the Jews throughout Europe (in the 1940's) about disarmament.

Here's some data:

sofa said...

Regarding data cited: Isolated inner city cultures do not follow the data from the rest of the country; as the inner city is more violent with cars, bats, pipes, guns, lumber, and cinder blocks- than the nation as a whole. So it is easy to make false comparisons between dissimilar data pools. I am saying your data is balderdash.

For example, inner city criminals with guns are more frequently shot than those who are not criminals (and without guns). Inner city gun rates are a guess, since many carry, and only the victims can be counted. And the law-abiding in the city have a hard time legally carrying, because of collective disarmament programs. Leaving the violent criminal victims as the only ones being counted; and SURPRISE, they are violent criminals.

Citing conclusions which misrepresent the data- suggests that you either didn't understand it, or understood and used it anyway. We are reminded that philosophers are not mathematicians, nor scientists.

James Dionne said...

By this logic, the library shouldn't *need* to shelve those those books in an childrens section either, eh Mark? Your hypocracy astounds me. You just can't ignore the the parts you don't like.

sofa said...

First thing: How about you stop exercising your first Amendment rights?

Shoe fits.