February 1st, 2013

Individuals Have the Right to Own Guns

The following op-ed submission was rejected for publication in the Salt Lake Tribune.


Rarely have I seen an English professor (and a linguist to boot!) ignore the meaning and context of words like I witnessed in University of Utah Professor Thomas Huckin’s recent op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune, “There is no individual gun right in the US Constitution.”

Huckin aimed his sights on the Second Amendment, a clause in the U.S. Constitution he pejoratively called “archaic,” to argue that “The framers of the Constitution never intended an individual right to own guns.” Instead, Huckin claims, the semantic structure of the clause itself specifies that owning guns is a collective right, and not an individual one. In other words, in his view, nobody has the inherent right to possess a weapon of self defense such as a firearm.

To support his claim, Huckin argues that the reference to “We, the People” in the Constitution’s first sentence refers to Americans “communally, not individualistically.” He further states that the Constitution addresses individuals by using the word “person” rather than the collective references to “people,” and therefore “the right of the people” to keep and bear arms is not an individual right recognized by the document.

A casual examination of the Constitution explodes his theories, unless one believes that the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments, which all refer to “people”, were never meant to recognize and protect an individual right. The Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of he people to be secure in their persons,” and the First Amendment refers to the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Huckin would have us believe, at least if he is consistent in his beliefs, that no individuals have the right to do these things, and therefore the government may at any time, and for any reason, invade a person’s privacy, property, and prevent them from protesting its actions.

But let’s ignore those amendments for a moment and return to the Second, that which deals with firearms. In the professor’s interpretation, the right to own guns is a communal one; only certain groups of people which operate with the government’s blessing may own and operate such a tool. This idea is completely unsupported by the historical record.

For example, the Federalist Papers are littered with examples offering the context Huckin seems so willing to ignore, namely, that the Second Amendment only made explicit what was then commonly understood. Individuals had then, and have today, the inherent and unalienable right to defend themselves, including with firearms. In Federalist 28, Alexander Hamilton referenced the “original right of self-defense” including using firearms to repel a tyrannical government. Madison echoed him in Federalist 46, noting that armed individuals in America served as a “barrier against the enterprises of ambition,” unlike the “tyranny in Europe” in which “the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” Far from mere hunting tools, firearms were considered an important last resort for individuals to resist an oppressive state.

During consideration of a bill dealing with the militia in 1790, Representative Roger Sherman, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signer of the document, noted that it is “the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made.” The Supreme Court of the United States went so far as to note, “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.” The Constitution does not confer a collective right, but rather recognizes and aims to protect a pre-existing individual right. The foregoing quotes and a litany of others like them completely disprove Huckin’s central claim.

We should not stop there, for there is a philosophical contention made in Huckin’s article which likewise merits a response. He argues for collective rights as somehow being superior to and separate from individual rights. In short, he believes that the government can confer, and thus deny, rights to individuals because they are only possessed by the body as a whole.

Again, this argument is unsupported by this nation’s founding documents as well as the contextual and supporting arguments made by the framers of those documents. But a simple analysis of how government operates drives a final nail into Huckin’s thesis. Legitimate government operates by exercising powers it has been delegated by those who comprise it. A collective or communal right must therefore be predicated on a pre-existing right by the individuals within that group. If a collective right of the people to own and use guns exists, then it necessarily implies an underlying individual right which cannot be infringed.

Perhaps for those of us in Utah, Huckin’s incorrect claims on the subject are ultimately moot, since the Utah Constitution makes explicit what is contextually and historically understood by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. Our state’s founding document states, in Article I Section 6, that it is an “individual right of the people” to own and use firearms. No amount of linguistic gymnastics can get around that.

46 Responses to “Individuals Have the Right to Own Guns”

  1. terrymac
    February 1, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Many State Constitutions – including those which were contemporaneous with the ratification of the Second Amendment – are quite explicit about the individual right to keep and bear arms. Permit me to quote from my home state, Pennsylvania:

    Pennsylvania: The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned. Art. 1, § 21 (enacted 1790, art. IX, § 21).
    1776: That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination, to, and governed by, the civil power. Declaration of Rights, cl. XIII.

    More at http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/beararms/statecon.htm

  2. David
    February 1, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    I wonder why this was rejected by the Tribune – oh yes, its because it goes against their liberal worldview.

    Well said Connor.

  3. Jeremy Lyman
    February 1, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    “Perhaps the deterioration of American education is illustrated by the high correlation between the number of years a person has attended school and his inability to understand the words “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It is more likely, though, that those who interpret the Second Amendment to preclude an individual right to own guns are driven by their political agenda. Whichever the case, they do themselves no credit when they tell us that a simple, elegant sentence means the opposite of what it clearly says.”

    http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/reading-the-second-amendment/#axzz2GBvvBWH0

  4. Brian E Kamerath
    February 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Well Said Connor. I’m sure Huckin’s, like many others, would like to get the Constitution and the Bill of rights interpreted their way so the Supremecy clause could be used to argue to change State Constitutions.

  5. Kelly W.
    February 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    I am a simpleton in trying to interpret all that complicated lingo, but to my simple mind it makes me recollect the novel 1984 when peace was war. Always trying to mean the opposite of the reality.

  6. jpv
    February 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Shockingly predictable that the Trib rejected it.

  7. outside the corridor
    February 3, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    It’s redundant for me to say that I haven’t read this article (tribune?)–

    because I’m not in Utah–

    but the fact is that my husband and I own a gun and have for years–that we kept carefully ‘stored’, and it’s not registered, because we purchased it long before all this permit ‘stuff’–

    we aren’t gun people–

    we are very peaceable people, and we don’t intend to use it to protect our food storage or anything like that–

    the fact is that when we were much younger we both learned how to use a gun; I was required to by my father, and I was a pretty good shot, and my husband also had good gun use training and was a good bird hunter for years (he doesn’t any more)–

    we aren’t gun people, but we believe in this right to bear arms, so we keep our gun, well hidden–

    our children who are old enough have had gun training, though, ironically, they got it from other people in our family who are gun people–

    one has a permit to carry–

    and I believe in this right to bear arms, and I do not like guns. I don’t like them at all, and to me it is a sacred right to be able to have one–

    just my 2 cents–

  8. JR
    February 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Well said Connor.
    No surprise the trib refused. Liberal is as liberal does.
    What these liberal folks seem to conveniently forget is that the nat guard, etc. were not formed until long after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written. At the time the Bill of Rights was written, “the people” were the militia. At that time, all competent males were included in the militia. Therefore, the Second Amendment clarifies that “a well regulated group of all competent males” are deemed necessary to the security of a free state, therefore, their right to keep and bear arms (equal to those of the enemy, either foreign or domestic) shall not be infringed.
    Simple English.
    JR

  9. Heath
    February 4, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    @David: I am in favor that we stop calling individuals who oppose, and/or wish to strip us of, our rights liberals. I think it is time that we call them what they really are–totalitarian statists. They wish to use the government as their agent to crush any opposition to their fiendish plan.

    Any in favor say I.

  10. Charles D
    February 4, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Clearly the matter of the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment is settled law so trying to revisit that topic is a non-starter regardless of the merits of the argument.

    We need however, to reduce the level of gun violence in this country so what is left? I would suggest that the Constitution does not prevent the federal government from requiring background checks for every individual who is purchasing or otherwise acquiring a gun.

  11. Nick
    February 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    The Founders’ inclusion of the preamble “A well-regulated militia . . . ” makes it pretty clear what they regarded as appropriate gun use. The context is very clear. Why is it not clear to you guys?

  12. Clumpy
    February 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    @Nick and @Charles D

    The term “well-regulated” doesn’t refer to governmental regulation, but to the health and preparedness of the militia: http://constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm

    This implies that experience with firearms would result in such a state and as such their possession shouldn’t be infringed. I’m less familiar with the context of the term “militia,” though I wouldn’t be surprised if it were meant to refer to American preparedness against a foreign foe, a function that has generally been taken over by a highly organized and enormous military.

    But should that really matter? After all, the Bill of Rights is not an attempt to explicitly guarantee certain rights that would otherwise be withheld. I think gun rights advocates would do well to ignore the Second Amendment entirely and focus on the fact that the Constitution itself doesn’t grant Congress mechanisms for forbidding gun ownership.

    Finally, the “something has to be done” argument falls flat with me. Car accidents, heart disease, and even slipping and falling kill more people per year than guns, but we don’t insist that drivers be wrapped in expensive webbing like stunt drivers use, that all trans fats be banned, or that all hard surfaces be smoothed over and padded to protect the vulnerable and elderly from falls. Our brains aren’t good at processing risk – we’re more afraid of things that seem random and unpredictable to us, like mass-shootings, sharks, or lightning, than we are of the things we’re doing which will probably actually kill us. While I’m theoretically open to some basic checks on ownership for certain ex-felons, and I’m sensitive to the argument that handgun availability may enable some suicides that a person otherwise wouldn’t go through with, I can’t see why the government is needed to solve THIS problem and not the others I’ve mentioned.

  13. Nick
    February 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    @Clumpy, I agree with your first three paragraphs, and moderately agree on the fourth.
    I would like to see more gun control, just like seat belt use is a law.

  14. M
    February 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    @Clumpy,

    Just to add to your point regarding risk. There are two components to risk.

    1) Occurrence or the likelihood of the bad event happening
    2) Severity or the level of impact resulting from the bad event

    People in news media (or people in general for that matter) tend to confuse the two component.

    People who successfully manage risk are able to identify failure modes (phenomena that affect occurrence) and their associated effects (aspects related to severity).

    As it relates to the debate about gun control, people are confusing occurrence and severity and are proposing risk mitigation that inappropriately infringe on natural rights. They are also not considering all risks that need to be mitigated and not applying a good framework to prioritize risk mitigation efforts. (Or they are driven by impure political philosophies.)

    I don’t think there is a correlation between suicide and gun ownership. Suicide is a mental health issue. I think Japan has double our suicide rate and very severe gun control.

    @Nick, there needs to be less gun control not more. The real problem that needs to be worked is moral decay. If you do an apples to apples comparison between the US and other countries where gun ownership is not restricted I think you’ll find that the US has relatively much lower violent crime. Still more needs to be done to persuade people to love their neighbors not hate them.

  15. Nick
    February 6, 2013 at 2:26 am #

    @M, I don’t believe in moral decay. Morality is relative.
    As to less gun control, I can hardly see a positive. More guns means more safety? Doubtful.
    “A criminal will obtain a gun regardless of the law” is an argument I hear all the time. True, but a criminal will also obtain heroin, regardless of the law. Why not make heroin and narcotics legal then?
    The point of gun control is to reduce access, ease of access. Walk out your front door and tell me the first place you’d go to get heroin, PCPs, etc. You probably can’t name a source. So it should be with guns. Why stop at guns? Why isn’t the average citizen allowed to own any number of ordnance and firepower? RPGs and the like? The argument you make against THOSE can easily be made against standard firearms.

  16. outside the corridor
    February 6, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    @anyone who wants gun control–

    Have gun control laws stopped the out of controlling killing by American “personnel” in:

    Africa
    Asia
    The Middle East
    South America

    Oh, wait, I forget that most LDS don’t believe that there are covert operations going on around the world–

    either accomplished by U.S. personnel or people they have trained–

    http://www.economichitman.com/

    Or do those deaths not count, because they aren’t Americans?

    *sarcasm alert*

    The fact is that worrying about gun control here in the U.S. is like worrying about the seasoning you are going to put onto poisoned food–

  17. M
    February 6, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    @Nick

    There are many things that should be decriminalized, including drugs. We should then rely upon persuasion and love to convince people to abstain from action that would be harmful to themselves using self-evident truths. We should only use the power of force when “bad guys” show a disregard for and abuse of another person’s rights.

    There are moral absolutes that are self-apparent. Unless you agree to that there is not much point in having a conversation. Moral relativism is like having a debate about whose opinion vanilla icecream is better. Further, a belief in moral relativism shows intellectual sloth on your part. Answer this question: “If something is popular does that it make it morally right?” If you answer “yes” then you are at least ideologically consistent. Wrong, but consistent. If you, answer “no” then you probably need to rethink your moral relativistic philosophy and open your mind to the concept of moral absolutes.

    Also, consider this analogy. A student in a classroom plays a “joke” on the teacher of the class by placing a tack on the teacher’s chair. The teacher sits and get a prick in the rear. Angrily the teacher demands to know who the perpetrator is. No one speaks (the perpetrator does not speak to conceal her identity, the rest don’t speak because none know who put the tack on the chair). This occurs in a country where corporal punishment is not frown upon. So the teacher has the class line up and proceeds to go down the line punishing each student and pauses after each beating to demand a confession. Half way through the line the child who put the tack on the chair admits to it.

    Was it appropriate for the teacher to punish the other students the way she did? Likewise, is it appropriate to infringe on law abiding citizen’s rights because a bad guy committed a crime? I would answer “no” to both questions. We all have a right to life and to defend that life (this by-the-way is a self-evident moral imperative, an absolute truth that you say you don’t believe in). The murder of innocent people is wrong and tragic, but let’s not follow-up on these school shooting tragedies by committing another tragic act of infringing upon individual rights to keep and bear arms. Gun control advocates’ arguments basically boil down to them saying, “We value life and everyone has a right to life, but people don’t have the right to defend their lives.” That’s counter intuitive and wrongheaded.

    These school shooting didn’t happen before when gun control laws were even more relaxed than they are now. So what is different? Gun control laws are stricter than before. So the answer can’t be more gun control. If it were, Chicago and DC would be the safest cities in the country. This is why I say moral decay is a part of the problem and I am probably right about that.

    When it comes to defending your life, you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.

  18. M
    February 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I made some typos in the previous post. I apologize for not being better at proof reading. Please try not to let these errors distract you from my points which I think are very relevant and valid. Despite the errors, I think what I wrote is still clear and understandable. If not, I am willing to clarify.

  19. Nick
    February 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    @M Do you consider it punishment that the average citizen cannot own a tank or an RPG?

  20. Nick
    February 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    @M One need only examine the cultures of the world to realize that morality is relative. For example, the Eastern cultures would regard our treatment of our elderly as immoral. We do not. So who is right? Nobody. Certain thought experiments have revealed a universal morality, one that can be found from the jungles of the Amazon to the Hong Kong board room, but plenty of social mores and rules and treatment of fellow man cover a wide swath of grey, and none is “correct.”

  21. M
    February 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    @Nick
    We too had a culture of honoring our fathers and mothers (think 10 commandments), but the culture shifted away from that tenant over a period of time. This is one example of what is called moral decay. Thank you for proving my point!

    It is true that some cultures have benign differences, but others differences are malignant. In certain cultures around the world woman and children are commonly abused and mistreated. Some have beliefs that women should not be educated. Other allow old men to marry young girls. Would you say that we should look past those things because who are we to judge, it’s their culture after all and no single culture is better than another. It’s all relative. I say no we should not. There is a reason why some countries and cultures excel while others don’t and much of it has to do with the level of corruption and immorality within each of these countries/cultures.

    Here’s a relativistic argument for you. My culture believes that people have a right to personally defend their lives even if it means using lethal force. Who are you to judge my culture? Who are to say what laws should be imposed against my culture that would restrict my ability to defend my life? Your culture is relative to you and mine to me. Therefore you should realize that your views on the subject of gun control are no better than mine and that you have no right to impose your morality on me.

    Are you beginning to see that moral relativism is a joke? You are already beginning to admit that there are moral absolutes (“universal morality” as you called it). Can’t you see that it is impossible to have serious debate about what ought to be, when you think what ought to be is relative to something like culture? (The truth is some cultures are superior to others in protecting and defending life, liberty and property)

    When it comes to what color of shirt should I wear today there is a lot of grey area. When it comes to morality there is no grey area in right-vs-wrong decision and very little grey area in right-vs-right decisions or moral dilemmas (i.e. loyalty vs. honest, the individual vs. society, mercy vs. justice, etc.). As long as one can correctly determine what the moral dilemma is (right-vs-wrong or right-vs.-right) and apply a good approach for dealing with the moral/ethical question (i.e. Kant’s Categorical Imperatives, Golden Rule or Utilitarian principle) then good will be done.

    Public policy tends to abuse the utilitarian principle which leads to a mentality of “the ends justify the means”. I don’t buy that crap. It’s short sighted and intellectually slothful to say the ends justify the means. The folks seeking more gun control seem to believe its ok to trample over the rights of law abiding citizens (the means) in order to “save lives” (the ends). The truth is that individual rights will be further eroded and the additional controls will do nothing to abate murder and may actually cause it to increase. You can’t do right by doing wrong and you can’t go wrong by doing right.

    With the DOJ saying that it’s “legal” to use drones to strike and kill American’s (what happened to the right of a fair trial?) and the WH saying that it is “ethical” and “wise” to do these drone strikes. Additionally, with the Patriot Act, NDAA and other infringements on individual rights I think an RPG could be useful. Lastly, it is estimated that 262 million defenseless people in the last century were murdered by their own governments. That’s a rate of 2,620 people per year. Those people murdered by their governments sure could have used some guns, RPGs or even tanks to defend their lives.

    We must remember the primary reason the founders included the second amended. It is a last resort defense against tyrannical abusive governments.

    Come on Nick! You are fighting for the wrong side here. There are ways to become “safer” while not destroying our rights. If we allow our civil liberties to be destroy we will reach a point of where no one will be safe. Please don’t try to win an argument for the sake of winning an argument. Let truth, personal responsibility, and liberty be our quest.

    Some quotes:

    “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” — Adolph Hitler, Hitler’s Secret Conversations 403 (Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens trans., 1961)

    “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    “One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.” — Thomas Jefferson

  22. Nick
    February 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    The fact that a commandment exists that says “honor thy father and thy mother” does not prove anything regarding treatment of the elderly. Your point is not proven.
    My culture says it’s okay to go topless, because this is the Serengeti, and this is the way it’s always been done. Your culture says that’s immoral. The exposed breast in society is immoral. So who’s right? (I expect an answer on this, btw)
    “We must remember the primary reason the founders included the second amended. It is a last resort defense against tyrannical abusive governments.”
    Well it’s a good thing the government lets us have our sticks and stones, or else they could walk all over us with their tanks, drones, infantry, missiles, etc. So glad the Second Amendment is still relevant today to prevent that!
    And finally, where does morality come from? What is its source?

  23. Nick
    February 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Clarification: The existence of such a commandment does not prove its proliferation in the culture, the extent to which it was applied, nor that anything has since changed. No proof of moral decay.

  24. M
    February 7, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    @Nick

    What is this nonsense you wrote? LOL…

    “Clarification: The existence of such a commandment does not prove its proliferation in the culture, the extent to which it was applied, nor that anything has since changed. No proof of moral decay.”

    Why did you want to restate what you originally posted? You drew the connection I intended you to make between caring for the elderly and honoring one’s parents. It was a correct connection to make. That is pure religion after all – caring for the weaker among us and those suffering misfortune. Religion has always claimed morality within her purview. The history of moral and religious belief is inseparable; only a fool would try to argue otherwise.

    When a society or culture parts ways with a higher understanding of morality that is moral decay. Put in slightly different terms – when in a culture or society once behaved itself better and then went to behaving itself worse. It is a within culture issue more so than an across culture issue. Something you didn’t seem to be understanding given what you wrote and the questions you asked.

    Some more evidence for you:

    Prior to and during WWII, the German people suffered a severe collapse in morality which led to the holocaust. The French suffered a similar collapse in morality leading up to and through the French Revolution. When Andrew Jackson convinced American’s to turn from assimilating Native Americans into the new country to attacking, murdering and putting them on reservations that was also due to moral decay. In these three instances of moral decay, look at the wickedness that followed. There are many examples of societies espousing certain values and morals and then later turning against that greater level of understanding. The US suffered another collapse in morality with the Baby Boomers during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Yes, you did prove my point. Moral decay is a real phenomenon.

    Now I will touch upon modesty, a particular aspect of morality. I believe there are things we could learn from the tribal people of the world about modesty. Modesty is more than just apparel; it is also a part of our conduct. Our society has gravitated toward flashy, expensive clothing used more as status symbols than for covering ones nakedness. This has led to some people thinking they are better than others because of their fancy clothing. There is not much modesty in the way many within our culture conduct themselves. Simple, modest, clean clothing that is available and affordable is what we ought to strive toward.

    However, let’s not overlook the fact that clothing is also a tool and has utility. Tribal people living nearer the poles dress much differently than those living near the equator. Covering up in the cold is easier to understand than perhaps going completely without clothes where it is hot. So, we must first seek to understand the pros and cons of going topless. Does it serve a purpose? Then we must compare and contrast the pros and cons of wearing a bra and blouse. Then we must discuss availability and the cost of clothing. It could be that the people lack the resources and/or skills to produce useful clothing. Perhaps they have nothing to trade with those from outside their world that have clothing. If given the chance to wear clothes would they choose to do so? Not surprisingly, almost all tribal people do. Lastly, we can discuss how clothing can be used to address issues related to modesty. My culture says going topless is immoral only if one knows better and has resources to acquire clothing, but chooses not to do so. My culture says it is immoral to using clothing as a status symbol to try to elevate oneself above their peers. My culture says it is immoral to dress and then behave promiscuously to purposely send lewd messages and attract attention. How can I pass judgment on a tribal woman or man for that matter for her/his lack of resources and/or ignorance of issues related to modesty? First we should seek to understand and then we need to conduct ourselves in a way so that the clothing is viewed as a wonderful gift and not a as symbol of oppression.

    Back to gun control. I know you were trying to mock, but you did speak a truth. If we are not diligent in defending our rights we will end up with nothing but sticks and stones.

    Lastly, I need to move on and focus on things that are important to me. I believe that I have laid out better arguments and more evidence than you regarding the two subjects we discussed (moral relativism vs. moral absolutes and gun control vs. the right to defend one’s life including the use of lethal force). I would like to declare myself the winner because you never had good arguments for more gun control and in one of your posts you conceded that there is such a thing as universal morals. I hope that any who read these postings will agree with the arguments I made.

    Nick, I leave you to kick against the pricks, but my sincere hope is that you will change your mind. God bless.

  25. Brian
    February 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    It seems to me that there is no individual right to bear arms in the 2nd Amendment. However, the Bill of Rights does not grant individual rights, but instead limits the government. Individual rights, or natural rights, are unalienable and god-given. No document can give or take away our rights – they are self-evident!

  26. M
    February 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    All,

    Dr. Benjamin Carson delivered the keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in President Barack Obama’s presence. Among other topics in his speech, he talked about the moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility that destroyed Rome.

    I also really liked the scriptures he quoted and how he spoke out against political correctness. Anyway, I watched this just now and thought it timely.

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4353213

  27. Nick
    February 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    So I’ve inferred you subscribe to Mormonism and believe religion is where morality comes from? Talk about “intellectual sloth.” And people are in the dark until they adopt YOUR morality? Keep dreaming. They are not ignorant of modesty. Their modesty is different. Get it?
    And I don’t think you understood why I clarified, so I’ll say it again. Just because there is a record of some commandment doesn’t prove it was adhered to or even an everyday part of life. We certainly don’t know the extent to which they “honored their father and mother.” So you can’t prove moral decay in that regard, unless you dig deeper than, “Oh, it’s there in the Bible! It must have been prevalent!” Citing some commandment does not prove there was a standard or common practice.
    And you also missed my point on sticks and stones. That’s what we have! Standard firearms are sticks and stones compared to the arsenal of the U.S. military. I highly doubt our pitiful firearms are keeping the U.S. at bay. After all, they really want to search and seize our living rooms and DVD collections, right? C’mon, M, you should be out there rallying people to demand the right to harrier jets and missiles! It’s our right! We need to protect ourselves from the government! To protect life and liberty.
    I leave you to seek out truths from ancient, irrelevant documents, and “to feel” what is right and expect everyone else to conform.

  28. Nick
    February 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    And you didn’t really make an argument against gun control, especially not before your last post. You basically just said it’s wrong to infringe on an individual right to own guns (which, I may repeat, is not granted by the Second Amendment, and doesn’t exist.) You railed on gun-control advocates, but didn’t add much more. The closest you came to saying gun control is bad was “These school shooting didn’t happen before when gun control laws were even more relaxed than they are now. So what is different? Gun control laws are stricter than before. So the answer can’t be more gun control. If it were, Chicago and DC would be the safest cities in the country.”
    And speaking of “countries and cultures [that] excel,” Sweden and general Scandinavian countries are the happiest and most productive on the planet. But man are they loaded with morally bankrupt people. Atheists and the lot. And legalized prostitution in Netherlands. Moral decay is their middle name, and yet, they thrive. Guess you should rethink “moral decay” as a precursor to downfall.

  29. Nick
    February 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    And one more thing, while I’m feelin’ ya, M. Your definition on “moral decay”: “When in a culture or society once behaved itself better and then went to behaving itself worse.”
    Fair enough, so I ask you, as Scandinavia shed itself of Lutheranism and embraced progressive causes (e.g. gay and women’s rights and equality), is that “behaving itself worse?” I’d like to hear your answer, in a nutshell.
    Science bless.

  30. M
    February 8, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    A true story: I once taught the discussions to a prostitute living in a certain European country (prostitution seemed to be an active industry in that country and I often found myself talking to people that had ties to that industry). That woman was not happy. To begin with, my companion and I did not know she was a prostitute (you never know who you’ll meet when you go tracking or doing street contacts. Member referrals were hard to come by), but as she got to know us she let her guard down and told us about herself and the life she was living. Once she let her guard down the tone of our visits changed. Often she would just sob, uncontrollably, as she talked about her misery. The unfortunate thing was that there was very little we could do to help her other than listen and pray for her, which she seemed to appreciate. Wickedness never was happiness and it never will be. Her life choices caused her great emotional damage. She only added to her misery in becoming an alcoholic; drinking was the method she used to escape the emotional trauma of her life-style. I don’t know what became of her after I transferred to another city.

    Why do people try to conclude there is a causal relationship between casual events? For example, why would anyone be so foolish as to equate decriminalized prostitution as a primary factor driving increased happiness? There is no evidence to support that. Anyone who has talked to people inside or around that industry knows that it breeds a lot of misery.

    I think it’s funny when people look at one survey and then blindly believe the results. Most OECD countries are in Europe so it is a biased sample because I think that there are a lot of other countires outside of Europe. Question: If the people in Sweden are so happy why is their suicide rate consistently higher than that of the US? In fact all Scandinavian countries have higher suicide rates. Oh I get it now. If all the unhappy people kill themselves then only happy people are left to take the survey. So more unhappy people in the US should kill themselves so that we can rank higher in the survey. Other happiness surveys say that the happiest people are in Latin America. These surveys are junk and mean nothing.

    Natural law is the origin of morality, that which is self-evident. Among the easiest to discern of the natural laws are respect life, respect another’s property and have integrity. Moral relativism says murder/don’t murder, steal/don’t and cheat/don’t cheat, what one chooses to do only depends upon the situation. Moral relativism assumes no universal truths or that humans are incapable of discerning universal truths. If everyone live by this philosophy it would result in widespread moral decay and a loss of civil society. People following this philosophy seem to have never learned about opposites when they were little (wrong vs. right) or they think what’s wrong and right changes depending upon geography, time of day, or one’s companions. They say, “When in Rome do as the Romans or when in the gang do as the gang bangers. Lie a little, cheat a little to get ahead. It’s all good.”

    Feeling is no less important than thinking. Both are required to discover and understand truth. If pressed, people almost always have a hard time telling the difference between their thoughts and feelings about many issues.

    Caring for the elderly was once prevalent in our culture and now it’s not what it once was (moral decay). Some people think railing against religion and the Bible disproves that.

    Sticks are sticks, stones are stones, and guns are guns. Many people seem to be very out of touch in terms of what is happening to our civil and economic rights and they don’t seem to care about defending their rights.

  31. Nick
    February 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I didn’t say legalized prostitution is a primary cause of their happiness. I mentioned it as an example of their “moral decay,” not a cause of their happiness. I have a number of theories on why they’re happy. I’ve read quite a bit on it. But they are well off, happy, and prosperous, in spite of their moral decay, as you put it. I don’t say their moral decay is the root of their positive situation. But according to you, their moral decay should have them worse off than the U.S., as far as crime, unhappiness, productivity, etc. That is not the case.

    “Why do people try to conclude there is a causal relationship between casual events?”
    You’ve done that already. I didn’t. Your words:
    “These school shooting didn’t happen before when gun control laws were even more relaxed than they are now. So what is different? Gun control laws are stricter than before. So the answer can’t be more gun control. If it were, Chicago and DC would be the safest cities in the country.”
    I recognize that your “Why do people” question was the result of a misreading or misunderstanding of my aside on prostitution, so I won’t belabor the point.
    And you assumed I looked at one happiness survey? You’ve been doing a lot of assuming, on the prostitution thing and now this. I’ve seen the Latin American surveys, too. They’re revealing. I’ve seen far more on the Nordic countries, though. And we’re not talking about just self-reporting surveys here. There are a ton of factors that the observers look at.
    “People following this philosophy seem to have never learned about opposites when they were little.” Wrong vs. right, black vs. white. Life is full of grey area, my friend. Killing = wrong. What about war? What about your own Nephi? What about in thought experiments, such as fat man in the cave? See, everything is relative. It all depends on the situation. Nothing is absolute.
    You didn’t address my “behaving worse” point on women’s rights and gay rights, and progressive causes, so I’ll make an educated assumption that you feel your stance on those is an Achilles’ heel. Are people that embrace those things guilty of “moral decay?”
    “Wickedness never was happiness.” Where do I begin? Things you consider wicked aren’t bad. A glass of wine after dinner? People enjoy that. Brings them happiness. Erotic literature? Plenty enjoy that, too. Being with someone of the same sex? I see smiles. They are happy. Conversely, sitting in meetings at the wardhouse for hours? Plenty don’t enjoy that, but they should, right? It’s righteousness, after all. Having tons of kids? I see more stress and anxiety than smiles. And pills. Oh, the pills.
    As I’ve said, the Second Amendment does not grant an individual’s rights to guns. The Constitution grants power to Congress to make law. They represent the people. If Congress wants to control guns, they can. Plain and simple.
    I appreciate your civil tone, M, but I’m retiring from this discussion. Feel free to address my question on whether acceptance of progressive causes is “moral decay.” There are many truths you have not yet discovered. It’s obvious. Find them.

  32. M
    February 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m done. I didn’t like how you positioned the question as if I would be opposed to equitable treatment of certain groups of people. So I’m choosing to not answer. That’s all.

    I appreciate your civility as well friend and that you came to the debate both fists swinging. I respect that you fought for what you believe even if it is wrongheaded. :) It is evident that you have a lot to learn too.

    Take care and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. LOL…

  33. Nick
    February 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Simple question: Is embracing gay rights/marriage, equality for women indicative of “moral decay”?

  34. M
    February 11, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    I don’t like how you lump these issues into one.

    Departures from different aspects of morality play out differently and have different effects on individuals and society depending on the breadth and depth of the departures. Obeying certain principles and following certain values leads to certain consequences, but with some random variation. Then there are also impacts that are material and easy to measure and impacts that are mental, emotional, or spiritual that are not as easy to measure. Example, a person has “unprotected sex” with multiple partners and both genders over a period of years, but escapes contracting any serious disease. You might say that the person is lucky. I would say, “But what about all the metal, emotional, and spiritual damage suffered that will affect any future relationships that person may have?”

    My view on same gender marriage is similar to what Connor advocates on his blog (this site). We know that the institution of marriage pre-dates modern government (i.e. nation-states). I believe that the state does not have the right to issue marriage licenses. I believe the government should stop social engineering through the tax code (providing special benefits to married couples) and we should have a flat tax or even better voluntary contributions to the government (like a tithe). I believe people should be free to contract as they please. I believe that a religious body has the right to establish its own rules regarding who can and cannot receive religious rites from that particular religious body. I believe that religious bodies can amend their rules. I believe people have the right to form new churches/religions. For Atheists, I think that they should be able to contract a union (marriage) not from the state, but rather from a third party of their choice, that offers non-religious marriage/union services. They could have a religious ceremony too depending on the rules established by that religious body. If these policies were put into place, I do not think there would be much debate over same-gender marriage and the state would not need to monitor so closely one’s marital status on a 1040 form. Lastly, inheritance laws would also need to be changed so that beneficiaries can be freely chose. Same with choosing legal guardians should parents die.

    My views on homosexuality are more complex. I do not know how much nature vs. nurture is at play. Regardless, the issue of how I am supposed to think and feel about homosexuality is a different matter in my mind. If homosexual behavior is purely a life choice then I can tolerate it, but I do not have to condone it and please do not push the issue in my face. If the causes are purely biological then that opens up other issues. Should the homosexual gene be viewed as an acceptable evolutionary outcome or should it be viewed as an undesirable genetic defect?

    Let’s say researchers discover how to test for homosexuality in the womb like what they can for the down syndrome genetic mutation. Let’s say you and your spouse are having fraternal twins and one is going to have down syndrome and the other has “the homosexual gene”. Let’s say you had the doctor run both tests on each unborn baby. Now you are faced with some choices (life for both, life for neither, or life for one). According to your view of moral relativism, whatever a couple chooses is simply their choice. I’m not arguing that choices should be limited. I’m just saying that there is a god who will judge us according to natural law (God’s law).

    Women and men are equal, yet different. We need each other. Husbands are just as important as wives are. Mothers are just as important as fathers are. Sisters and brothers are equally important. I decry cultures that diminish the role of either men or women. Many cultures demean women and the current culture in America demeans men. I do not like either.

    One way to determine the moral decay of a culture is by how children are treated. I do not see much of anything redeeming in general about how most cultures treat children – neglect, abuse, lack of education, murdering (i.e. abortions). I acknowledge that there are still good parent out there. My view is that committed, loving and married parents of opposite gender offer the best opportunity to children to be raised in a stable, caring environment. There is much data/studies to support this as well. Marriage is an institution for the benefit of children. Same-gender marriage is a new social experiment with outcomes that are yet unknown. I’m inclined to believe that sufficiently significant departures from the natural order of things (biological, opposite-gender parents, raising their biological children) will lead to bad outcomes regarding the impacts on children. I don’t believe same-gender couples or single-parents are ideal candidates for adopting children.

    Defending individual rights (religious, civil and economic) and protecting children from abuse are the issues that concern me.

  35. w
    February 13, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    M,
    ‘Natural law’ is a term which seems to get used repeatedly on this forum. In many contexts the term is used in a Deistic context, not a theistic one. Atheists may also use natural law in the absence of a god. Sam Harris suggests that there is a basic morality, that of human flourishing. Providing physical and emotional safety for the maximum number of people.

    People have speculated on the ‘religion gene’. For good or bad, one could compare it to any other gene and its manifestation.

    Progress towards human flourishing has largely occured as a result of atheism, and not typically from religion. If you exame the Bible, and koran and perhaps other religious works, one could find many examples of capital punishment for violation of particular laws. The bible for instance is more concerned with adherence to its laws, rather than the inherent value of life. Otherwise there would not be capital punishment, for example breaking the sabbath day.

  36. M
    February 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    @w, it sounds like you’ve only read the gospel of Sam Harris.

  37. w
    February 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    wrong

  38. chris
    February 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    If you re-worded the 2nd Amendment into modern language it would be something like,

    “Because a well equipped military force is necessary for defense of a nation, the right of the people to have weapons will never be limited.”

    At the time of the Constitution, there wasn’t really much of a standing army at that time. It was the citizens who owned the personal weapons by and large. So it was in the interests of the nation and society to have individuals be well armed, since they made up the army in times of need.

    Of course, that’s damn scary for people who don’t trust themselves or their neighbors.

  39. outside the corridor
    February 16, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    I have come back with another 2 cents–

    laws against ‘vice/crime/immorality’ don’t stop any of those things–

    I read the discussion between M and Nick somewhat–

    I agree with M that wickedness never was happiness, but I am not sure that the definition of either wickedness or happiness are universally understood or agreed upon.

    What is wickedness? Most LDS believe that wicked implies only physical crime or crimes of passion–

    whereas I state that wickedness includes such things as profiting upon the desperation of other people (which most corporations do)–

    how can a corporation be wicked? Well, corporations have the rights of individuals without having the accountability or responsibility of individuals, and many of the ‘crimes’ committed in the world today are committed by corporations (and governments)–

    and people suffer.

    As for prostitution–

    making it legal or illegal doesn’t seem to matter on the outcome, as long as corporations have control over economies–

    when people are desperate they (he/she) will do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means dulling the pain with alcohol–

    so where is the wickedness? Is it in the sin committed by the person trying to stay alive; is it worth it to stay alive by doing such a thing as selling one’s body? Is it better to commit suicide?

    I am asking; I am not sure. Suicide is definitely frowned upon in the Christian/LDS culture–

    and yet what is better, to live by selling one’s body and drinking oneself to death or . . . taking a pill that ends it all?

    It’s a terrible dilemma, and there are many of *us* out here in ‘conundrum’ land who struggle daily to stay alive by using legal ways of earning money and who watch the expenses rise and the income fall daily–

    scrabbling–

    that’s the reality of the situation–

    This wasn’t brought about initially by the choice of one individual who sat in plenty who said one day, “I think I’m going to sell my body so I can be terribly unhappy”–

    And yet who IS responsible? Irresponsible corporations are mostly responsible–and until more Christians/LDS/Americans realize this–

    there will be no change, no matter how many laws are created–

    This is one example that recently saddened and horrified me. Now I don’t ‘support’ Super Bowl; I never have, and I never will. I don’t celebrate it, but look what it engenders:

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/02/former_sex_trafficking_victim.html#incart_m-rpt-2

    Did this woman wake up in a good “Christian” home one morning and announce, “I’m going to be a prostitute.”?

    I don’t think so–

    What leads to this kind of thing? Profit–

    greed . . .–

    corporations that increase their profit margins by taking factories out of American towns, etc. It’s so complicated and so ‘deep’ that it’s hard to find the beginning–

    but prostitution could never be a problem in a Zion-based society with Babylon no longer ruling, and yet even LDS want Babylon, want the profits, want the glitz and the glitter and the big houses and the big cars and the nice vacations–

    enough not to read these kinds of articles of things that take place right here in America–

    Making rules that guns should not be owned by private individuals–

    what will that lead to?

    And–M, I agree with much of what you have to say, but you mention that single women shouldn’t adopt children.

    I know two very fine (one LDS, one Christian) women who never married, who had sound and productive careers and who adopted children from foreign orphanages–

    children who otherwise would have been on the streets (in one country; in the other who knows?)–

    Have you had much experience with children who were raised in orphanages? I have, and I can tell you that some love, safety and security is better than none at all–

    These children have a chance for a future–

    Until opposite gender married couples adopt at-risk children from orphanages in countries that have been destroyed by oligarchs and tyrants–

    who should take these children and save them from certain destruction and certain unhappiness?

    If you frown on my two friends who adopted children from these countries, it doesn’t make their lives any easier–

    There are no simple answers, but one of the things that LDS refuse to face is that wickedness goes beyond personal licentiousness–

    it goes beyond personal lust and passion; it is found in facades–

    found behind white shirts and ties–and smiles . . .

    and going to church on Sunday–

    people who play with the lives of other people during the work week and then ‘worship’ on Sunday–

    are some of the most wicked people on earth–

  40. M
    February 17, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    @ outside the corridor,

    I may not have written about it but what you wrote about is true. The way Cain became Master Mayhem was upon the practice killing to get gain. Gadianton robbers in the Book of Mormon lived by these same principles – little, cheat, steal, etc. – the only “virtures” to them were profit, power, and prestige. Perhaps the LDS community needs to talk more the organizations and groups who kill to get gain rather than exercising a righteous stewardship. But I am convinced that most the work needs to be done at the individual and family level in order to bring about change.

    Corporations suffer a lot from short term focus, group think and agent/principle conflict. Plus corporation can have no more integrity than the people who comprise their leadership and management levels because the culture of a corporation is determined by its leadership/management. There is an unholy alliance between big business and big government. They are exercising an unrighteous dominion. Plus, the future leaders of business seem to be lacking in moral/ethical character. Many business schools are concerned with their students values. When asked about making ethical business decisions the students are not contemplating values but only whether a business choice makes a profit.

    I wish your single mother friends the best and God’s blessing. I expressed my views about the ideal situation for raising children. I know that we don’t live in an ideal world. Yes, I’ve done volunteer work in orphanages, children’s hospitals as well as teaching/ tutoring children. My assessment is that we need to rescue the family unit in our society because children are suffering the most from its destruction. Children need both a mother and a father who are diligent in fulfilling their unique parental roles and supporting each other with their parental responsiblities.

  41. Joseph Sorensen
    February 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    Today a bill intended to protect rights related to the 2nd Amendment was transformed into a blatant violation of those same rights. During the Feb. 28 House floor-session HB268 was un-circled, amended, effectually reversed, and passed. This bill that initially appeared to protect a gun bearer from charges of disorderly conduct is now going forward as an infringement on the right to openly carry.

    The bill made it through committee after legislators received mass e-mails urging their support of an amended version of the bill. The amended version removed language that obviously infringed a persons right to carry and replaced it with language that subtly and more definitively restricts the right. I’m assuming that this subtlety was not pointed out in encouragements to forward the mass e-mail support.

    On the floor the bill was further amended to clarify the restriction. In response to concerns that this bill still permitted “offensive” firearms to be carried in public places, the sponsor of the bill refuted this idea and expressly confirmed that the bill effectually prohibits the carrying of un-encased firearms in public places. In effect the bill will outlaw the open, visible carrying of anything but a handgun.

    Even those who agree, should be concerned by the deceptive way this has been achieved. I’m guessing most citizens who supported this bill last week don’t realize how it has been transformed, and that many would no longer support it if they did.

    The problem with bills that violate rights protected by the Constitution is that any recourse will likely further diminish freedom. This is in accordance with early arguments against a Bill of Rights, which suggested that if we start trying to explicitly enumerate freedoms we implicitly deny freedom regarding anything not explicitly addressed. By saying that people cannot be charged with disorderly conduct simply for carrying an “encased firearm” HB268 implies that carrying any un-encased firearm is disorderly. Again, the sponsor of the bill confirmed that this is exactly what it effects.

    Sadly if HB268, assuming it is signed into law, is ever challenged by an appeal to the 2nd Amendment now the Utah Supreme Court is bound, and rightly so, by the provision in the Utah Constitution which allows infringement on the right to bear arms. Even worse, recourse by an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would make the issue federal and binding either way on States taking away the States’ ability to make its own decision regarding firearms.

    As so often happen when we try to address issues via government, HB268 in a supposed attempt to protect freedom has diminished it. Often leaving things relating to freedom unsaid is a million times better than trying to define them. When freedom is enforced it is not freedom.

    The Libertas billboard is right, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

  42. w
    March 1, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    M
    What do you make of Matt 10:34-37? It appears that sometimes christian values can cause a rift in a family. There could be some historical setting which was different at the time of writing, but it seems like the family unit in and of itself isn’t necessarily the highest value for christians. Its pretty well known that the LDS movement values family, but what does it do with verses like this?

  43. outside the corridor
    March 3, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    @w, what do I make of it?

    God realized eons ago that humans (whether in the spirit or in bodies) would be contrary, so He made allowances.

    After all, 1/3 of the hosts of heaven had every chance to gain exaltation, had heard every argument–

    and still chose oblivion (and not a peaceful oblivion); chose the powers of darkness over the light of God–

    So, God makes it clear that contrary humans need exceptions.

    paraphrase: “in case you have a family member who cares more that you choose the wrong path than that you are happy and good, you . . . you might have to choose me {God}, and it might be painful.”

  44. outside the corridor
    March 3, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    or, in other words, have you never known dysfunctional families–

    who would rather a family member be destroyed than reveal an ugly secret?

    I have–

  45. Joseph Sorensen
    March 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    The final of the three big “gun bills” hit the floor today, and like the others it suffered. In this case however the implications extended far beyond 2nd Amendment protections. The proceedings can be watched at:

    http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=3101&meta_id=83035

    Some wonderful principles argued by a couple of the legislators, but ultimately these did not win the day.

    I sent the following e-mail to all the legislators:

    Please, this is sincerely devastating.

    HB114 has been hijacked and amended (House Floor Amendment 3) into an egregious burden upon the very Utah citizens it was intended to protect. The 2nd Amendment is only one of the hostages.

    Prior to the amendment, the burden of demonstration lay on federal officers; now the burden is laid upon Utah citizens.

    The good sponsor frightened his good colleagues with a discrete scenario involving a state officer who, apparently unable to remember and comprehend a list of state and federal firearm laws, would somehow be relieved by having to remember the same list of state and federal laws and which of these had been ruled on by courts and how.

    This proposed solution does not alter the “in the spur of the moment, in heated battle” situation, it just affirms the superior position of the federal officer, neutralizes the state officer, and leaves the Utah citizen utterly alone to protect her presumed right to self-defense.

    Here are scenarios, pre and post amendment, simply but more fully played out to explore the assumptions of the amendment’s sponsor:

    Scenario prior to the amendment: A federal officer tries to enforce a federal law that a state officer believes is in conflict with Utah law, and the state officer steps in. The federal officer acquiesces and later sues, backed by the Federal government, or he does not acquiesce and (really?) a firefight ensues between federal officers and state officers who are probably relatively equally matched (balance of terror/mutually assured destruction). In the subsequent court hearing the federal government sues regarding its officer being impeded. And now, at the risk of impeding a federal officer’s duty the question is addressed.

    Scenario now: A federal officer tries to enforce a federal law that a Utah citizen believes is in conflict with Utah law. The Utah officer does not step in. The citizen acquiesces and later sues, bearing the burden herself, or she does not acquiesce and a firefight ensues between federal agents and a Utah Citizen. In the subsequent court hearing the citizen must fund a case to prove that her rights were infringed. And now, at the risk of depriving a Utah citizen of her rights, the question is addressed.

    The amended bill destroys the protection that was originally intended for the Utah citizen and demands that before protection will be offered a Utah citizen must risk life, liberty, and property to make a case.

    Perhaps more disturbing was the reasoning, beyond the scare tactics, and the intent that was expressed by the amendment’s sponsor.

    It was argued that, “We have to wait until our courts decide what the law is and then we move forward and act.” It was suggested that this accords with Rule of Law and that the answer to those who might worry about the court’s decision is to, “make sure that you get your chosen Presidential candidate elected and make sure you get your chosen Supreme Court justices appointed to our U.S. Supreme Court because that is ultimately where the buck stops.” What?!?

    First of all, legislators “decide what the law is.” I know this fact was challenged by the unbelievably early Marbury v. Madison decision, but nothing can change the fact that law is legislated — borne by (look up the etymology) legislators. Courts “decide” cases, which laws a case calls into play.

    Second, that is not Rule of Law, it is Rule by Law (what the sponsor referred to as Rule by Force): the arbitrary rule of those who are in power. I have spent the past year in China, and there is no mistaking, a society where the buck stops with the Party in power is definitively a society based on Rule by Law. This is not our system.

    Our system, Rule of Law, embodies the principle of equal application, and in this regard there is perhaps no more telling institution than the one that HB114 considers–the citizen’s right to bear arms. And here is the BUCK: In a Rule of Law society, where laws apply equally to all, regardless of status or position, no prohibition on arms can apply to the people that does not also apply to officers of the people.

    That is right, civilians must be allowed to carry any weapon that a soldier is allowed to carry, otherwise laws apply differently and Rule of Law does not exist. This is by definition, common sense, and perhaps the institution that throughout history has set societies apart as free or tyrannical. When a ruling body is able to protect its rule because it has access to arms that it forbids citizens from having, this body is above the law, and the society suffers under Rule by Law. There is no opinion here, no substantive debate, this is the “thin,” procedural definition of Rule of Law.

    The 3rd amendment to HB114 does not support Rule of Law. The system portrayed by the good sponsor is not Rule of Law. At best it is Rule of Lawyers, at worst it is Tyranny (the ruling body makes laws that it does not abide), by definition.

    Protection of Utah citizens was subverted. Rule of Law was distorted. The fundamental value of legislators was called into question.

    The majority of you agreed!

    HB114 surely is a federalism bill, and the Utah House of Representatives has spoken firmly against federalism. If this act and our distorted thinking are not repaired, we are surely on the road to the “Rule of Force” that the good representative from Heber was trying to avoid.

    Please, what will you do about it?

    This absolutely has become a statement by the Utah Legislature; its hesitation to stand up for Utah has been clearly stated. Please STAND UP.

    If it can’t be repaired, please don’t allow HB114 to be enacted. In current form it does more damage than good by implying the opposite of its intent, that until a court rules, Utah citizens have no defense, and that state officers shall support contradictory federal laws. At least without such a statement the uncertainty leaves Utahns free to STAND UP in defense of their rights.

    Sincerely,
    Joseph Sorensen, Utahn

  46. w
    March 11, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    Outside,
    Shouldn’t someones conversion make the household more harmonious not less? (Matt 10:34-37) Compare this to regular meditators in eastern religions. I have heard that it gives benefits (such as some degree of peace) to others that the person comes in contact with, such as family members. Maybe this passage is metaphorical in some way, not literal? Maybe its not translated correctly?

    Makes me worry about a population that is so adamant about owning a gun.

    “A gun is the weapon most commonly used in domestic homicides. In fact, more than three times as many women are murdered by guns used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are killed by strangers’ guns, knives or other weapons combined.i Contrary to many public perceptions, many women who are murdered are killed not by strangers but by men they know. ”

    http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/Guns.pdf

    I am not sure if anyones mentioned this, but does anyone feel vulnerable when flying? This is one acceptable context where the general population does not carry a gun, but security officers are permitted to carry one. I haven’t thought of any other contexts, but there must be some other contexts, like federal buildings, courthouses, perhaps some religious buildings?

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