How Far is Too Far?

Based on the poll I took a few days ago, there seem to be some people who believe registration is the line in the sand, but it’s not a majority.  Only about 11% of people who answered the poll.  I don’t disagree with folks on this for two reasons.  For one, if the reason we hate registration is because it enables confiscation, we already have that.  For all intents and purposes, 4473 is registration.  All a government would have to do is call in all those forms and scan them into a computer, or just keep going down the list.  Sure, it would be incomplete, but it’s probably complete enough for most of us.  Second, registration depends on voluntary compliance.  Unless you’re going to go around searching people’s houses door to door, in which case we have bigger problems than the registration law itself, if people don’t comply, there’s not much the government can do.  This is a good candidate for civil disobedience, which has worked very well in Canada.

But how far is too far?  Has California gone too far?  Chicago?  DC?  New Jersey?  Would someone there be morally justified in shooting it out?  I tend to think that as long as firearms of reasonably modern lineage are available to people for purchase and use, then the line hasn’t yet been crossed to the point where we’re ready to start thinking about the exercising the second amendment’s true purpose.

I hate California’s assault weapons ban, but it does regulate cosmetic features.  It’s what makes the ban silly, but it also doesn’t do much to prevent people from carrying out the purposes of the second amendment.  Are you really that badly downgraded with an M1 Garand, or a Mini-14 ranch rifle than an AR-15?  The ban is annoying, and yes, I do believe it infringes on the second amendment, but in terms of it’s practical significance in preventing the execution of its purpose, California’s laws frustrate the second amendment, but do not entirely destroy it.

I’m also skeptical about resorting to the doomsday scenario in response to local laws.  There is a fine tradition in America of saying “f^*k this!” and voting with your feet. People have been fleeing Massachusetts and New Jersey by the droves.  New York, particularly upstate, has also been depopulating.  No doubt this is not all over gun laws, but it would seem that when governments stop respecting their citizens, and start over-taxing, regulating, infantalizing them, they get sick of it and seek out greener pastures.  Who would have known?  I think gun owners can get a lot of mileage out of moving to states that repsect their rights.  I think you can even make a plan out of that.  Sure, picking up your life and moving it is a big commitment, but a far less so than pulling the trigger.

That said, I do think we need to keep the government from destroying the second amendment.  That’s a line that can’t be crossed, because if it is, you can bet others will be.  Fortunately, the government seems more interested these days in saying that it means something, rather than looking for ways to undermine it (Fenty and Daley’s turds in the pool notwithstanding), but if we do start heading down the path to destruction of that right, my attitude will not remain so moderate.

15 thoughts on “How Far is Too Far?”

  1. These United States have a blessing and a curse. It’s the ability to move freely between these several states. Where national registration may be a line in the sand, state registration isn’t. It simply makes people move. CA’s assault weapon ban was why I moved. The ability to choose and move, that’s the blessing.

    As state after state takes up bans and registration schemes, the choosers and movers are herded into a few states. While I’ve been in TN, meddling like smoking bans and seatbelt requirements have been instituted – imported from states like CA, and all reducing freedom. I expect that freedom will continue to be proscribed, including the right to arms, across the several states. So when all the line-in-the-sanders are in AZ, MT, VT, or AK, what can they do? They’ll be concentrated away from the centers of power so any action they take will be of little utility. That is the curse.

  2. Apply your rationalizations to freedom of speech or religion instead of firearms ownership, and it instantly becomes clear how incorrect they are.

    “I hate California’s non-protestant religion ban, but it does regulate doctrinal minutiae. It’s what makes the ban silly, but it also doesn’t do much to prevent people from carrying out the main tenents of Christian doctrine. Are you really that badly downgraded with the symbolic presence of Christ’s body and blood in communion, compared to the real presence? The ban is annoying, and yes, I do believe it infringes on the first amendment, but in terms of its practical significance in preventing the execution of its purpose, California’s laws frustrate the first amendment, but do not entirely destroy it.”

  3. Here’s a less obtuse example, this time avoiding religion entirely:

    California passes the following law related to blogging:

    1) All bloggers must be licensed in order to post on the internet. They must submit to a background check and be fingerprinted. They must post with their real names.–This common sense regulation ensures that unscrupulous posters will not hide behind anonymity in order to engage in hateful, argumentative, untruthful or illogical speech. Of course, felons, those adjudicated mentally unfit, pedophiles and terrorists would be kept from posting, making the internet a safer place for all of us.

    2) There is a seven day cooling off period before any post may be published to the internet. There is a limitation of 15 posts per month.–These generous terms allow reasonable expression while acting as a precautionary roadblock for those who would seek to post while angry, intoxicated, etc. Clearly no reasonable person needs to post more than 15 times in a single month.

    3) Blog postings may only be read by 100 people. After the 100th person reads a post, it must be deleted.–This balanced approach ensures that everyone has an opportunity to participate in our free expression by limiting the influence that any one poster may have. Certainly if one blogger agrees with another blogger’s post, they are free to quote or comment on it, as long as they have not exceeded their 15 post per month limit. Free speech is still able to spread geometrically, a most generous cap.

    4) Blog posts containing more than than two of the following features are considered to be “assault posts” for the purposes of this law, and are prohibited:
    a) Negative opinions of public officials or the actions of their offices or of any larger government body.
    b) Incitement of others to speak negatively about anything listed in section 4-a.
    c) Addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, pictures or descriptions of anything listed in section 4-a
    d) Incitement to vote, pursue ballot measures, or petition for redress of grievances in any matter which may be construed, at the discretion of this office, to contravene the stated wishes, policies, or actions of anything listed in section 4-a.

    These reasonable, common-sense rules increase freedom of expression by making blogging an activity which is safe for everyone to engage in, and by ensuring that harmful bloggers may not do any significant harm to the safety and peace of the land.

  4. Hey Sebastian – I’m one person you could say voted with their feet moving out of a socialist state. Though it wasn’t related specifically to firearms, it was a combination of many things. What I worry about is finding a place to move to. If one day a majority of states have registration requirements and very restrictive laws, is it then appropriate to consider the “start shooting” scenario? For some people yes. For some people, never, I suppose.

    And I’m with Teal on the “are you really that downgraded with an M1 Garand” argument. I don’t get the way you’ve phrased it. Apply it to the 4th Amendment. Are you really that downgraded if some nice police officers enter your home at dinner-time and spend a mere 10 minutes looking around? Hell yeah, I’d say.

    I mean, why not just apply that to DC then? Are you really that downgraded not being able to own a semiautomatic handgun? You can just have a disassembled hunting rifle instead. You still have a gun, after all. By that logic, what’s wrong with a handgun ban? What’s wrong with a ban on any weapon that can hold more than 10 rounds? You still have an M1 Garand, after all.

    What about the 13th? Are you really that downgraded being forced to perform a mere 25 hours of volunteer work every year? Obama wants your answer. Heh.

    You’re making excellent points on many arguments, Sebastian, and I’m happy to see this subject being talked about because it has seemed taboo, but there’s a line there somewhere in saying, “you can’t have everything, but be happy you have something”.

  5. I tend to agree with the premise that we have not crossed the line yet where we need to redress grievances from the barrel of a gun. I am outraged at the fact that there have been infringements and they have been allowed by the courts.

    What seems to be missing is the outrage from the general public, not just on the 2nd amendment issues but also for some very major issue with Congress and their lack of accountability and continual push for more poorly thought out legislation.

    There is a lot of play between individual outrage and open revolt and we as the outraged haven’t covered much of that ground. Very large organizations of citizens have been quite silent (ACLU, NAACP, etc.) are now so politicized to the extreme, they forget what they are supposed to do…slam the government for violations. Where were/are they on Kelo?! Why weren’t they pushing pro-Heller? These are made up of citizens and usually ones that are more informed than the masses yet they do very little for real rights and accountability.

    Maybe it is time to create a large lobbying group similar to the NRA which specifically targets the Legislative and Judicial branch to address our grievances. I would love to have 10 million citizens standing up against congress and saying enough with the violations of our rights and freedoms. Time to pay the piper.

    The checks and balances that are supposed to be in play aren’t working. The Supreme Court is a patsy and a fraud and filled with those who don’t even read or understand the constitution. Congress is only looking after themselves and lining their pockets with no interest in the good of the country.

    Ultimately, organization needs to happen to put some real pressure for these issues. Many have suffered because of the government with loss of jobs, prison, bankruptcies, and even death because government is overstepping their role. I would hope this outrage of the 3% would turn to fire and brimstone in the lobbying world first before we have to take it to the final step.

  6. Your choice on the matter of registration was exceedingly narrow:

    “Registration is a sufficient transgression to warrant shooting.”

    If you had posed the question as follows, perhaps you’d have gotten more than 11%:

    “Registration is a transgression sufficient to be opposed with all our political might.”

  7. “But how far is too far [for registration of arms]? Has California gone too far? Chicago? DC? New Jersey? Would someone there be morally justified in shooting it out?”

    Too far? Absolutely. Justification for “shooting it out” over such registration? Absolutely not. Individuals shooting it out is NOT how to change Chicago, DC, NJ registration laws.

  8. We put up with a lot of infringements on the first and fourth amendments. The Supreme Court has ruled that the police may set up roadblocks to check for compliance with a provision of criminal law. How is that not getting dangerously close to 1930s Germany? They also allow for citizens to be poked, prodded, and damn near short of a strip search (which might be coming) to be able to board and airplane and exercise their fundamental right to travel.

    As for the first amendment, our government says it’s against the law to broadcast material about a candidate for federal office 60 days before an election. That’s cutting to the very heart of what the second amendment is meant to protect! I think McCain-Feingold destroys the first amendment far more than California’s assault weapons ban destroys the second. The fundamental nut of the first amendment is that people have the right to criticize the government, and criticize those in power, so that we may discuss the merits of their continuing to occupy their seat at government. Once the government begins to shut down avenues of criticism of themselves, they are chipping away at its core purpose.

    Yet… no calls for revolution. If McCain-Feingold were to come before The Court today, it would be tossed out. O’Conner was the 5th vote on that one, and she’s gone. I think we’ll get rid of it. It will just take time.

  9. Sebastian,

    My disagreement with laws, registration, etc. is that may of them turn law abiding citizens into criminals. Look at NJ’s recently passed .50 ban. All the previously legal hunters or collectors are instantly criminals if the fail to dispose of their lawfully purchased, owned, and utilized firearms.

    If I cross the Delaware, and a stray hollow point is found (assuming I’d submit to a search -NOT) is found rolling around my range bag – instant felon. If I’m traveling to NH for an event and I stop for coffee in NJ or NY – instant felon. Especially if I have a “high cap” mag for whatever I’m transporting.

    You made a point of people leaving NJ in droves. True, but thats not about rights and freedoms, it’s about cost of living. And if you follow the local political scenes and newspaper interviews, these NJ flights are slowly turning PA in to NJ, Look at the intrusion into privately owned businesses no longer able to make a decision if they want to allow smoking or not. Where do you think that started? Why do you think that it might end with a smoking ban?

    In reference to roadblocks, yes I think they are unconstitutional and a bad idea, but driving on public roads is a privilege.

    As said in an earlier post; do I think it’s time to start shooting it out? No. But someone answer me this: If an uninvited armed individual were to attempt entry to your residence, would you let them? Why does it differ if that individual is wearing a uniform and / or employed by the government?

  10. You’re absolutely right about that. The problem is a lot of people are leaving the state because of qualify of life issues that are caused or at the very least exacerbated by governmental regulation, taxation, and nanny statism. People get fed up with the package and leave, but they take their attitudes that elected the government that made their lives miserable to other states. They don’t really make the connection that “Gee… the reason my last state had such a high cost of living is because I voted for a government that made policies that made things that way.”

    But someone answer me this: If an uninvited armed individual were to attempt entry to your residence, would you let them? Why does it differ if that individual is wearing a uniform and / or employed by the government?

    That’s a decision people need to make for themselves. I wouldn’t presume to tell people what to do in that situation. For myself, if I can readily identify them as police, I won’t shoot, but I’ll demand to see the warrant. If I can’t identify them as police, we’re going to have a problem. But, you know, I’m a rather heavy sleeper. If the entry team were good I’d probably wake to six guys poking me with their AR-15s telling me to get the hell up.

  11. Are you really that badly downgraded with an M1 Garand, or a Mini-14 ranch rifle than an AR-15?

    Well, yes. For now I can handle an M1 or Mini-14, but the pistol-grip AR, AK, FAL etc makes it much easier to hold and control with the arthritis in my hands and wrists. When my arthritis gets too bad, shouldn’t I be allowed to have a weapon I can use?

  12. If you live in California, you might be an excellent candidate for challenging the state’s assault weapons ban :) That’s not just a good argument, it’s a good argument to use in court.

  13. It isn’t registration that is at issue (maybe it’s just me but I thought the original arguement made by Mike V was over confiscation). If they come to take them because they have passed a federal ban…

    Just remember that the first battle of the revolution was over an attempt at confiscation.

    Just sayin’

  14. If national registration and/or licensing is passed, then I will become a criminal. I’ve said so before in several places. I will not register – period.

    One of the reasons it took me so long to get a CCW is getting over the idea that I had to get governmental permission to carry concealed, but I’ve read the case law going all the way back to just after ratification of the Bill of Rights, and if I’m going to be consistent, I have to acknowledge that even back then there was a general consensus that open carry was lawful, and concealed carry wasn’t and could be regulated. OK, fine.

    But not registration. That’s my line in the sand. And if they come to confiscate my firearms because I haven’t obeyed their unconstitutional law, then yes, that will be sufficient cause to open fire.

    And I’ll die like Carl Drega or Marvin Heemeyer, to no greater effect than they had.

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