The gun debate, distilled by BMG and RMG

I was on Emily Rooney’s show on WGBH radio this afternoon, along with Rob Eno of Red Mass Group.  We talked quite a bit about the state of the Senate race and of the Mass. GOP generally, and I found myself in agreement with much of what Rob was saying on that general topic.  Although he and I disagree on most substantive issues, we are largely in agreement when it comes to the best way to build a party and win elections.

But when we got to guns at the end of our conversation, the differences were stark.  Here’s the essence of the debate; you can listen to the whole thing at this link.

Rob: An armed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny….

Me: … The notion that the American government is anything like tyranny, I’m sorry…

Rob: But it can get there.  It can get there.

Me: Rob…

Rob: And the reason it doesn’t get there is because people have guns.

Me: No, it’s not.


59 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Rob is right about gun bans.

    Our Governor has proposed that magazine capacities be limited to 7. On the federal level, 10 is the current number favored by Democrats. While these may not constitute “gun bans” by some people’s understanding, realize that the magazines are necessary to operate the firearm. Most full-sized .40 and 9mm handguns have standard magazine capacities greater than 10. Many common firearms will be rendered unusable or unusable with the magazines that they were originally designed for.

    These are just a couple of reasons that Democrats are giving gun owners to vote against them.

    • I'm confused

      some folks opposed to the ban on high capacity magazines argue that it’s easy to machine your own clip, so the ban is ineffective. Now you’re arguing that the ban is too effective — that not only is it rather difficult to manufacture your own, but that magazine manufacturers won’t manufacture a 7 (or 10) capacity magazine.

      I’m not buying it. If the Federales put the magazine capacity at 10, you can be damned sure that OEMs or aftermarket manufacturers will design, manufacture, and sell magazines with federally compliant capacities.

      • Our government is not strictly majority rule

        and as such I did not allude to a majority rule government. I was talking about the one we currently live under. Sorry if I wasn’t clear about that. It does not detract from the fact that the irregulars with guns who fear their government and would use violence to have their way. At least that’s what I understand they are saying.

    • Of course you can do a smaller capacity

      Make the magazine as long as you need to fit into the weapon, but have the spring only go halfway down (or whatever). i.e. it looks like a 15-round magazine, but the bottom half is empty space. Trivially easy.

      • Yes

        It’s similar to how you can make a toilet use less water per flush by putting bricks in the tank. In a magazine, just install something in the bottom so the slider (or follower, or whatever it’s called) won’t go down past a depth corresponding to the desired capacity limit. Should be easy to check whether a magazine complies, too.

        • Easy to circumvent

          It also seems like that would be pretty easy to circumvent.

          How long have guns been produced with interchangeable magazines? This seems like the best way to stop mass shootings – prohibit guns that accept them. Any gun must be reloaded manually by placing bullets, individually, one-by-one, into a fixed magazine. Limit the capacity to 6.

          I don’t see how this dramatically impacts hunters, sports shooters, or self-defenders. The “interchangeable magazine” technology is only about 30 years old, so this would return us to where we were in the mid-70′s.

      • Not every manufacturer…

        will bother to make 7 round magazines just for MA and NY. Aftermarket magazines are notorious for being less than 100% reliable.

        But even if the gun is usable, you still have a firearm that holds only seven rounds. Your Ruger Sr9 won’t hold the 17 rounds it was designed for, but it will be reduced to roughly the same capacity of a revolver. Democrats always promised that common firearms designed for civilian use would not be touched, but it seems that this isn’t the case.

        • That's the point

          I don’t want my neighbors to have firearms that hold more than seven (or ten) rounds. A revolver is already more firepower than most people can safely handle.

          I want to make those high-capacity murder machines inoperable. On days when I’m in a generous mood, I’m ok with buying them back (though I can think of a multitude of other more constructive uses of government funds) — on other days, I think transforming them into non-functioning display pieces is exactly what I’m looking for.

          I hope I’ve made myself clear.

          • I appreciate your candor.

            But good luck convincing the American voter that the handgun carried by their local police is a “high capacity murder machine.”

        • oh noes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          I can’t shoot 5000 bullets in 20 seconds into a crowded movie theater anymore! Whatever will the world do!?!?!!?!?!!?!!

          I can haz a sad?

          /sarcasm off

          Thanks for the deranged post. It was good for a chuckle.

          RyansTake   @   Tue 5 Feb 3:35 PM
  2. Mr. Eno's twisted logic needs some real clarity

    The government he is referring to is carrying out laws agreed upon by its citizen representatives. If there comes a major disagreement with those laws, Mr. Eno’s side will be firing at those who are in agreement with those laws. In other words they are the ones who represent tyranny and anarchy something this country’s basic foundation strove to avoid. Such talk by Mr. Eno borders on treason. It is also ludicrous that he thinks his so called courage of taking up arms would not be matched by its so called opposition. This country already had a trial of this kind of wayward outlook. The Civil War took 700,000+ lives to settle such an issue and then over 150 years and counting to keep a unified country. In short Mr. Eno is not only wrong, he is dangerous to the well being of this nation. He is asking for a repetition of the United States’s lowest moment.

    • Government of the majority is not a guarantee against tyranny

      Your neighbors are capable of collectively oppressing you, especially if you are seen as somehow different or outside the bounds of is “normal” or acceptable. We have plenty examples of this from our own history and that of other democratic states.

      That being said, I don’t see widespread gun ownership as the best solution to this problem. Explicit legal protections of minorities and unfavored groups and activities are much stronger. Gun ownership can perhaps give you some protection against a mob, (at the risk of devolving into communal violence), but is next to useless against the collective oppression of the state, even a democratic one.

      Interestingly, the first group to forcefully advocate the present day NRA position was the Black Panthers who did see guns as their best defense against police oppression. (The Atlantic has a long article about the shifting history of the gun debate here: )

    • You got it

      Mr. Eno hosted speaker Andrew Breitbart in Lexington, September of 2011 where he stated:

      There are times where I’m not thinking as clearly as I should, and in those unclear moments, I always think to myself, <a href="” target=”_blank”>‘Fire the first shot.’ Bring it on. Because I know who’s on our side. They can only win a rhetorical and propaganda war. They cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns… I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with.

      There talking about shooting us. The liberals can win the debate, but they have the guns. They are talking about shooting us, and not a single person in that room, said, “Hey, I disagree with my neighbor, but I don’t want to kill them.”

      The language that the far-right has been using: the liberals are un-patriotic, not real Americans, hate America, Obama is Hitler, a tyrant, liberal tyranny, standing up to liberal tyranny in the age of Obama…. They argue that the liberals are tyrants and they are building the case to shoot you and me.

      In the accompanying video, an audience member questions Breitbart’s assertion that the numbers are in their favor. Breibart answers:

      You’re talking about an electoral battle and I talking about if they want to take it to the point of a civil war and it goes to the streets. We’re the guys who have the guns.

  3. Tyranny is easy, Now governing... that's hard.

    Rob: An armed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny….

    An armed citizenry is the easiest (read: laziest) defense against tyranny. It is not the “best“.

    The absolute, indisputable, irrefutable, with-out-a-single-shred-of-doubt, BEST defense against tyranny is an educated and engaged citizenry. Mr. Eno either doesn’t want this, or feels either himself or his fellow citizens, incapable of this. But one thing is certain: one educated man will rule easily over many hundreds of the armed but uneducated. Thomas Jefferson never, himself, picked up a gun in defense of his country yet his formidable intellect guides our actions to this very day. The same can be said of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams and many others who never even contemplated firing a shot in anger.

    Mr Eno forgets what a remarkable country we are: the first clear and unequivocal rejection of monarchy and oligarchy and the first, and longest lasting, refusal to adopt tyranny; the very existence of republican processes is a stronger refutation of tyranny than all the guns that ever have, or ever will, exist. He (perhaps deliberately?) wants to think we can control the power of government by allowing the equal measure of the might of violence: thinking he can control the one with with his force of will and intellect in effort to control the other by force of violence. Why can’t we just skip the threat of violence and control our government with force of will and intellect? We can.

    We’re rapidly (rabidly) approaching the point where the armed citizenry are the tyrants: where the oppressive and enforced orthodoxy of guns as the only solution is the strongest enemy of freedom. Already we see the first amendment being pushed to the back in favor of the second…

    • "An armed citizenry is the easiest (read: laziest) defense against tyranny."

      Actually I dispute that.

      A shootout war with the US military…first, it’s most likely to fail utterly. Second, it would take YEARS if it did succeed.

      The best, easiest method against a tyranny is economic. Ie refuse to produce en masse. It shuts down everything.

      A gun war against tyranny is suicide. Ask Syria.

  4. Lincoln

    David Frum quotes Lincoln on precisely this question:

    Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it, our people have already settled,–the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains,–its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.

  5. Traitors and treason

    The most immediate threat of tyranny comes NOT from the government, but the far-right traitors who most loudly declare their need for military weapons and the high-capacity clips to enable them. The “tyrannical” government they would take arms against is the duly-elected government of the United States — they are advocating treason.

    The imposition of tyranny on democratic Germany in 1939 came from the RIGHT. Our right wingers present the insanely absurd proposition that our government has an obligation to arm our version of the brown-shirts with the same high-capacity weaponry that our military carries.

    The other commentary on this thread is correct: we fought this battle, at great expense in blood and treasury, in the mid 19th century. We should not fight it again.

    The most effective way to protect me from tyrants is to disarm Wayne LaPierre and the mobs of extremist right-wing thugs that he speaks for.

  6. Deserving of mockery

    The next person who says that an armed citizenry protects him against tyranny should be laughed at and asked to explain how his assault rifle is worth more than a pen knife vs. a government armed wtih attack helpcopters, drones, cruise missiles, tanks, and highly-trained soldiers in body armor.

    Yeah I didn’t think so. People need to pulls their heads out of the sand and realize this isn’t the 18th or 19th Century anymore (back when a pissed off farmer actually was worth a measurable fraction of a soldier).

  7. The Greeks

    The Greeks believed that carrying weapons except during war was uncivilized.

  8. I agree more with David on this one than Rob

    Our government is not tyrannical, thus the need for semi-military guns is not a birth right. However, I am saddened that others on this thread call our fellow Americans traitors or tyrants, someone said to me the NRA is a racist organization, which blew my mind. I asked for claification and got none, but that is okay. Thus the debate debate spins out of control and the other side digs in their heals with “from my cold dead hands”.

    I believe in banning certain weapons like the AR-15, but in return, any person who is qualified (passes safety training, has a safe at home, etc) should have the right to carry a concealed firearm for self defense. Illinois does not allow it’s people to carry a firearm and here in MA, it’s at the discretion of the Police Chief. Both sides need to give up something.

    I thought what the NY paper did, showing an interactive map of gun owners, was disgusting and wished Obama said something to shame that paper into taking it down. A little good will goes a long way.

    The gun rights folks say that violent crime is much lower in areas where the gun laws are less strict, versus urban areas where there is tight gun control. They point out the shooter in Colorado bypassed closer movie cinemas or one which held a much larger audience, and selected the one which hpwas a gun free zone. I don’t believe that was a coincidence, do you?

    Let’s get something done with both parties at the table, knowing full well whatever law is passed, violence will rear its ugly head again.

    • The gun rights folks can say lots of things

      but that doesn’t make them true.

      Here’s 2004 data on gun homicides. Top 10 states of gun homicides per capita:
      state pop hom/100k, gun-hom/100k
      Louisiana 4506685 12.74 10.13
      Maryland 5561332 9.37 6.95
      Mississippi 2900768 7.83 5.55
      California 35842038 6.67 4.82
      Nevada 2332898 7.37 4.72
      South Carolina 4197892 6.86 4.64
      Illinois 12712016 6.10 4.59
      Michigan 10104206 6.36 4.55
      Arizona 6595778 6.28 4.54
      New Mexico 1903006 8.88 4.44

      Urban vs. rural [or more-strict vs. less-strict]? See the trend? I don’t either. Sure, California and Illinois are on that list, but so are Louisiana and Mississippi. New Mexico is remarkably rural. And so forth. There’s no urban-rural trend there, no obvious one. I notice that New York [state with the biggest city] and New Jersey [state with the highest population density] aren’t on the list at all.

      Personally, I have no problem “trading” things to allow concealed carry, but — the bar, for me, is really high. Lots of training, renewed frequently. Insurance. High criminal penalties for violating things like non-renewal, leaving it in a courthouse bathroom, not reporting it missing, it being accessed by a minor, etc. No concealed carry allowed in certain locations [exactly where, I don't know. Banks, ports, law buildings, government buildings, and stomv's home all come to mind. Probably more].

    • Concealed carry

      Here’s why I don’t like concealed carry: I believe it emboldens people, because they know that – because of what is in their pocket – they can have the final say. Laws like Florida’s “stand your ground” do the exact same thing, and predictably, we are seeing reports of stupid shootings down there, situations which would have been avoided if someone wasn’t allowed a defense of “fear” while simultaneously confronting someone.

      I’d be OK with concealed carry with significant and constant training (i.e. the same level that police get), and if there was a substantial penalty for use of a gun to threaten someone in a situation where the person was not in immediate danger of his/her life (note that I did not say “feared for his/her life). In other words, if I’m at a bar and bump someone, that person shoves me, I shove him back, and he pulls a gun on me, he gets charged with a firearms assault, because a shove clearly isn’t “imminent danger”.

      I believe that we need to get out of the mentality that a gun is an “equalizer”. A gun should be a last resort.

      • Both nopolitician and Stomv make excellent points

        I wonder if most would agree with you with the concealed carry laws being opened up “everywhere” with your required conditions listed.

        After hearing both sides of the argument, it may be easier to get to a balance budget than to pass a new gun law, even if both sides give a little.

        Menino was asked a similar question I proposed and he said he would be all for it.

  9. Many people don't realize the origins of gun control

    they forget about (or have not seen)

    Images like this:

    This is a great article by the way.

    And if you want to talk about protecting yourself from tyranny, there’s this great example from when I was in kid growing up near Chicago:

  10. In Rob's defense

    I think his argument does resonate with the revolutionary history of our nation and the political theories of the late 1700s:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Petr says Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin never lifted a gun against British authority. That strikes me as disingenuous. There never would have been a United States if thousands of people, led by Washington, hadn’t fought for it with weapons. And that army was approved of and paid for by the Continental Congress. In pure Lockean theory, as applied by Jefferson and Paine, etc., people have the right to overthrow a tyrannical government.

    The Civil War, to me, was more about a state’s right to secede than people’s right to overthrow a tyrannical government. I think the secession issue was settled more by realpolitik than in any theoretical sense.

    The real issue, as cat-servant points out above, is that any armed revolution today is a non-starter. Even the lunatic guy in Tennessee with his survivalist camp could not last long against our military. Unless these right-wingers think the military would join their side. But if there’s one thing were are not, for all our discordant history, it’s a military dictatorship. We transfer power peacefully after every election. Even 2000. And the military’s leadership has obeyed civilian orders, even those it has not liked.

    But they should be careful what they wish for. Any general who’d join their fantasy coup is not to be trusted. Reminds me of House of the Spirits when the old conservative grandfather supports the Pinochet coup because he thinks they’ll hand power back to the conservatives instead of establishing a military dictatorship. How’d that work out?

    Nor do I agree our government is tyrannical and we need a revolution. I don’t understand the anger on the right. For forty years they have been winning on economic and most criminal justice issues. The only major change in a leftward direction is allowing racial minorities, women, and GLBT citizens to participate in our national life more fully, as more equal partners. Maybe they just can’t stand that. Maybe they are scared in a more precarious economy, but they should blame their right-wing friends for that. As before the New Deal, a more free-market economy doesn’t work so well for ordinary folks.

    • Rob and his ilk have it completely wrong. Jefferson and the founders took up arms against British rule specifically because they had no other recourse. The revolted in order to install a government that would respond to the will of the people instead of the will of the king – a constitutional republic with representatives elected by the people.

      Anyone who claims guns are necessary to protect against the government is a traitor to this country and insults our founders profoundly.

      The argument is absolutely silly to begin with too. Next time someone raises it, then ask them “why don’t you just elect representatives who will vote for the change you want”. When they tell you that they don’t have enough supporters to that, then the logical response is that if they are in the minority for votes, they are likely in the minority in arms too.

      If you want to have some fun, tell them that using arms is against democratic principles. They will immediately proudly parrot “the USA isn’t a democracy, it is a constitutional republic”. You can ask them if they favor using guns against duly elected representatives because they want decisions to be more democratic (i.e. let the people make the decisions directly, as in a pure democracy), or if they favor it because they want decisions to be more tyrannical (i.e. let a small group of people force decisions on others using unelected power).

      Then watch their heads explode.

      • I agree with a lot of this

        The interesting thing about the American Revolution is that the large majority of the population supported the revolt. And I agree that most of today’s would-be revolutionaries don’t have the numbers and are just whining because they don’t like the election results.

        But the “government by the people” vs. “government by the king” argument I find less compelling. Jefferson said quite explicitly the people could alter or abolish any form of government not working for them. And one could say we have “government by the corporations” as opposed to “government by the people” today. On issue after issue the people support policies that can’t get a foothold in today’s Congress.

        I agree 100%, though, that the solution is to educate, organize, persuade and vote. Not to grab a gun and start shooting. I often want to ask these people if they really mean they want armed insurrection against the United States. For some of them, like the guy in Tennessee, the answer surely is yes. But that’s a very, very fringe position.

        • Guns = tyranny

          The key point that I want to get across is that Jefferson et. al. had no avenue to ultimately exact change other than revolution. When he set up the US Constitution, he gave the people the right to make such change – this invalidating the need for violent revolution.

          Jefferson could have set up a country that governed as he saw fit – but without the right of the people to elect representatives. He did not do this. He set up a country where the people elect representatives, giving the people the right to change their government. Not violently – with elections.

          The “tyranny” argument is 100% BS because tyranny is not defined as “rules that the people don’t like” – tyranny is “rules that the people have no power to fairly change”. Tyranny can only return if people are allowed to use other means (like guns) to circumvent elections.

          • The Tea Party and Pakistan compared

            Recently, a number of us were quite shocked at the unreal conspiracy that circulate around Pakistan, e.g., regarding vaccinations. However, on the Fox News-Tea Party boundary similar conspiracy beliefs run rampant. Remember, for example, the recent PPP poll that found 50% of Republicans attributing Obama’s recent victory to voter fraud by ACORN. Recently read an article about the recent shooting of the American sniper on a Texas newspaper and looked at the comment board. The commentators were convinced (and not just a little) that someone was out murdering members of their political tribe.

            If one believes that the machinery of democracy is broken — even if it is crazy to hold such beliefs, then armed resistance makes a lot of sense and the threat of tyranny looms real. There’s a reason Tea Partiers dress up in late 18th century costumes.

            • Fantasies of Democratic corruption

              The funny thing here is that their side is the one that stole a Presidential election in recent memory. But there is a strong bias in the mind of the American rural conservative, dating back at least to the days of Tammany Hall, that “Democratic machines” are electorally and otherwise corrupt. In the old days they were, but no more than the Republican machines of the same era.

              Nobody ever mentions Thomas Platt, George B. Cox, Boies Penrose, Charles Brayton, Nucky Thompson, Soapy Smith, Mark Hanna or William Lorimer (kicked out of the Senate for corruption). Hell, President Garfield was killed because of the dispute over patronage vs. relative honesty in the Republican Party.

              I think this double-standard started with the rural bias against Irish Catholic immigrants in the late 1800s and never really went away.

    • there's ointment... on your flaw.

      Petr says Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin never lifted a gun against British authority. That strikes me as disingenuous. There never would have been a United States if thousands of people, led by Washington, hadn’t fought for it with weapons. And that army was approved of and paid for by the Continental Congress. In pure Lockean theory, as applied by Jefferson and Paine, etc., people have the right to overthrow a tyrannical government.

      We’re not discussing the right to overthrow a tyrannical government. Nobody disputes that right. We’re discussing the best way to do that. Jefferson, et al, ARGUED WITH THE ACTUAL TYRANT first; begging, pleading, cajoling, appealing and building a reasoned and morally coherent case for why the King should relent on representation and THEN (and only then) argued for independence. The fight for independence (and the civil war, since others brought that up) built up over years and only slowly: Jefferson didn’t automatically reach for a gun he patiently and persistently faced down the tyrant. John Adams not only assisted Jefforson in this, but he also directly faced the tyrant as the first plenipotentiary from the US to Britain after the war. Again, never once having, so far as I know, even contemplated firing a shot in anger.

      Here, we’re discussing, essentially, the right to be paranoid and the resultant affect this paranoia has on the body politic: should disasters and despots not yet even on the horizon dictate our case? My point is that, if given legitimacy, this paranoia becomes tyranny itself and that if Mr Eno thinks he can keep his paranoia under control for the purpose of keeping the government under control he’s fighting a losing battle. When we have an actual tyrant to confront we’ll talk

      Nor, as has been pointed out elsewhere, does the Second Amendment derive directly from the need to prevent tyranny: it’s as much about slave holding southern states vastly outnumbered by their chattel: a specific instance of gun ownership to enforce the tyranny that was slavery. There’s some disingenuous for ya…

      • My only point was this

        We’re not discussing the right to overthrow a tyrannical government. Nobody disputes that right.

        I’m not talking about the origins of the Second Amendment, or the Second Amendment at all. All I’m saying is that, as a matter of Jefferson’s theory, political power derives from the people, who have the right to overthrow a government that is in fact tyrannical. That’s it.

        I don’t buy that our current government is tyrannical. And I don’t think anyone’s sitting in Washington saying “I wish I could be tyrannical but I can’t since Rob Eno and his friends have guns.” I think the paranoia on the right is entirely unjustified.

        But I think Eno’s argument is that eliminating private gun ownership would preclude a revolution not only against our current government, but against any future government that would in fact be tyrannical. He said, “But we can get there.”

        Look, if change be needed, I agree with you that there are better ways. As I said in my earlier comment, I think resorting to such an attempt is neither desirable nor practically feasible in today’s world. And that’s why my later comment linked to the Daily Kos post detailing all the successful non-violent movements for change.

        My only point is that Eno didn’t invent out of whole cloth “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

        One quibble: As a matter of history, the argument that Adams, Jefferson, Otis, etc. cajoled before fighting is not convincing. They did so for barely a decade before shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Surely a circumstance could arise where (1) a government acts in a genuinely tyrannical way, as much so or more so than George III; (2) a decade or two of cajoling does not fix the problem. You seem to be saying that the 1775 crowd was then justified in taking up arms, but nobody from here forward would be. I think that’s right as a matter of reality, but not as a matter of pure theory.

        • specious...

          My only point is that Eno didn’t invent out of whole cloth “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

          Mr Eno doesn’t so much as glance that way. He, and you, assume this and so you may well do so. But with that sub rosa assumption, Mr Eno says “THE BEST WAY” to alter or abolish is with guns… and comes, IMHO, perilously close to saying the only way to alter or abolish is by force of arms. I refute this. An armed citizenry is neither the only nor the best method of execrcising the right to alter or abolish any form of government.

          One quibble: As a matter of history, the argument that Adams, Jefferson, Otis, etc. cajoled before fighting is not convincing.
          They did so for barely a decade before shots were fired at Lexington and Concord.

          The shots were fired at Lexington and Concord not because Jefferson, Adams et al, desired a fight but because George III would not listen to reason. The fight was not inevitable just as tyranny is not inevitable here and now. The entire thing could have been accomplished without a fight if George III (then) recognized what we (now) recognize: the genius, both intellectual and moral, of the founding fathers. You may argue, and perhaps with some justification, that George III not being a genius himself lacked context and understanding to avoid the fight, thus obviating the question. But George III rationality aside, the moral force may have been necessary for anybody to decide to fight on our side. Absent that genius, the fighters (on our side) might not have fought with so much fervor and righteousness and Washington, without the context laid down by the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson et al) would not have led with even one quarter the moral force he thereafter commanded. Fewer third-party nations would have come to our aid, not having been swayed by arms alone. With few, and short-lived, exceptions like the Roman Republic and some Greek city-states, the history of the world has been usurpation of one tyrant by another and no doubt George III felt that Washington wanted to be King in his stead. The French Revolution, occurring very shortly after ours, devolved into terror, counter-revolution and led directly to Napoleon, whom it was that forswore kingship and tried to directly emperor.

          You can defeat the tyrant with moral suasion alone, Gandhi and MLK jr have demonstrated that. You can also defeat the tyrant with a mix of moral suasion and with force of arms and this is what has happend in both the revolutionary and civil wars. But you can’t defeat the tyrant with force of arms alone, lest you become the tyrant to be replaced later…

          But Mr Eno would rather be constantly on guard against tyranny wholly armed to the teeth, in the hopes of a good fight: after which combat he will no doubt work to set up a sustainable, perhaps even salutary, democracy. My point is, let’s skip the fight and go straight to a salutary democracy, here and now. There’s absolutely no need for guns to even enter into this so long as the citizenry is educated and engaged.

          • We are not in such disagreement

            To be clear, I agree with you on all of this:

            1. We are not under a tyrannical government right now. Where Emo sees unbearable tyranny, I see a centrist President and a divided Congress.
            2. If tyranny arose, guns are not the only defense.
            3. If tyranny arose, guns are not the best defense.
            4. If tyranny arose, people who oppose it should try moral suasion, political organizing, nonviolent protest, and all sorts of other things. Any armed resistance should be an absolute last resort.
            5. Our founders attempted to resolve their disputes with George III by peaceful means first. It did not work.
            6. Our founders were brilliant and their marshaling of moral suasion was very important to achieving independence for the reasons you state.
            7. No revolution will go far on force of arms alone. It takes having a significant moral case on your side as well.
            8. Rob Eno and his friends in the Ruby Ridge, I mean Republican Party, who take this position are not in the same universe as Jefferson et al. They occupy no moral high ground. They just don’t like the election results and feel entitled (perhaps encouraged by the coup of 2000) to have elections go the way they prefer.
            9. An armed revolution, in addition to being unjustified, is highly unlikely to work in today’s world for the reasons enumerated by cat-servant.
            10. We should not have these assault weapons, high-capacity clips, etc. on our streets. I have lost members of my family to gun violence. I don’t own a gun. I don’t want to own a gun. I don’t want to go hunting or hit the target range with someone else’s gun. I hate guns.

            My only point was that this country was born when people who perceived tyranny, and had failed in their peaceful efforts to eliminate it, took up arms. The American Revolution might have failed without Jefferson’s Declaration winning people over. But it certainly would have failed if we had the Declaration of Independence but no Continental Army.

            That’s not specious. Ho Chi Minh tried, in the 1940s, to win the moral argument by modeling his declaration of independence closely on Jefferson’s. He still didn’t get independence until his people fought the French for eight years. Then, of course, we came in.

            • A contrarian indulgence

              One reason for taxes were imposed on the colonies was that defending them against the Native Americans and the French did come cheap. It was not completely unreasonable to expect the beneficiaries to pay for the benefits.

              Of course, the defense could have been carried out more cheaply by relying on market forces.

  11. On the topic

    Just came across this: Daily Kos post saying guns are not the best defense against tyranny, and documenting all the non-violent movements since 1900 that have effected major change around the world.

  12. More importantly, David...

    I heard some of the show, but not all of it – did Rob finally get you to offer an opinion on Elizabeth Warren’s law license??

  13. Keep it out of the weeds

    Like birtherism, anti-UN paranoia, and an insistence on the religiosity of the Constitution-guns protecting against tyranny is another weed on the right that forces us to argue on grounds that are not based in rationality.

    Its a straightfoward public policy and public safety question. Frame it as one. Do you want criminals, lunatics, and terrorists to have access to high capacity weapons to kill and maim hundreds of people a second? If you care about public safety and national security the answer is Yes. Any other answer means that you are an ideologue not to be taken seriously. I am glad on this issue the media is finally doing its job and filtering our the objectively insane from the reasonable.

    Like Clinton did start getting cops and firefighters and military, aka America’s heroes, to argue in its favor. You are either with America’s heroes or against them. With the vast majority of Americans or against them. Sure I want government to leave me alone, I also want mass murderers to leave me alone and government is the only thing standing between them and me. Thats Hobbes 101. Make that argument.

    We respect law abiding gun owners having the means to hunt, shoot for sport, and protect themselves but we recognize that higher capacity rounds and weapons are a severe danger to the social fabric of our society. A balanced approach empowers law enforcement to stop criminals and terrorists from accessing these weapons. Thats the basic argument. If we argue on culure we are arguing on moronic terms and wasting everyones time while our kids are getting killed.

    • Typo tuesday

      Happening at work and on BMG,

      this should read

      Do you want criminals, lunatics, and terrorists to have access to high capacity weapons to kill and maim hundreds of people a second? If you care about public safety and national security the answer is NO.

  14. An armed society is a polite society

    So says Ted Nugent, who discussed the issue with Piers Morgan. Stormv was nice enuff to provide me with some data, I really don’t know who or what figures to believe. See video below, I must admit, Nugent held his own.

    • What an ignorant thing to say.

      If we were talking about eliminating the 2nd Amendment, your comment would be on-topic, but we are NOT, we are talking about universal back ground checks and limits on military assault weapons, Mr. Troll.

      • Mike cote- you obviously did not click the link in my post

        If you did, you would see that background checks and the AR-15 semi was discussed. Piers even went to the range and fired one. I believe it is on topic with what we are talking about. Let us know what you think after listening to the interview, I always look forward to what you have to say.

        • No Thanks.

          I have no desire to listen to that waste of DNA know as Ted Nugent. I was responding to your ignorant comment

          An armed society is a polite society.

          That is all the TROLLISHNESS in need from you to form an opinion on you complete ignorance. I hope you and Ted find happiness in Idaho or whatever survivalist dump you choose.

          • That is a shame mike c.

            You appear to have a closed mind, refusing to hear what the other side is saying. Never be afraid of opposing opinions, it may very well strengthen your own opinion on a particular subject, or you may even moderate a position b/c you learned something new.

            • In case it wasn't obvious.

              I said Go Day Sir. I have no desire to listen to the same tired boring garbage as the NRA for the thousandth time. Don’t waste my time.

  15. Dear Rob,

    The Government has tanks, helocopters, tanks, drones, aircraft carriers and even fucking nukes.

    If it ever comes down to a few people with guns and the government… guess who’s going to win?

    This isn’t the 1700s anymore. There will be no more revolutionary wars in the United States. Our problems will have to be solved through free speech and elections. Arming yourself is no longer any kind of an answer to addressing your issues. Thank goodness.

    Like your mother hopefully said when you were a little kid, Rob… use your words.

    RyansTake   @   Tue 5 Feb 3:40 PM
    • Just encouraging him

      Perhaps, then, Rob has the right to have a tank in his garage, an anti-aircraft battery in his backyard, and a nuclear warhead in his basement.

    • If it were ever to come to a rebellion

      that I supported (unlikely since political action and organization could achieve the same ends currently in this system), I’d rather have one powerful hacker than a roomful of AR-15s with another roomful of large magazines.

  16. Regarding tyranny

    There are plenty of countries just as free as we are with stricter gun controls, possibly freer if you argue that freedom includes freedom from the fear of being caught in the crossfire or gunned down by a madman with an ax to grind.

  17. The gun nuts and the NRA don't speak for me.

    And this toad Eno certainly doesn’t.
    I’m a gun owner and hunter who is for stricter gun laws and background checks, and for making assault weapons illegal to own.
    And that’s one reason I vote Democratic.

  18. Another Comparison

    Events posted on the BMG calendar on the main page:

    Feb 12, Mar 12, and Apr 9: Greater Boston Young Democrats

    Upcoming Events posted on the RMG main page:

    Feb 18: Presidents’ Day Fundraiser for Rep. Diehl
    Nov 20: London Mysterious Escort Agency
    Nov 20: Mysterious Massage Escort.

  19. "No Guns For Negroes"

    The idea of confronting a post-republic security force with limited weaponry is romantic. Doomed to fail, but romantic. As the Mount Carmel Center attack by government security forces has shown, the lives of American men, women and children mean nothing when the government’s interests are threatened. No weapon is too inhumane to use against citizens causing problems for the ruling class. Arguing for saving the republic with your little AR-15 is a red herring as is the capacity of a magazine.

    The world is a dangerous place. There are people that will do unspeakable things to you and yours given the chance. A person should have the right of self-defense as a natural right. “No Guns for Negroes” highlights the problem with unprotected citizenry. Police are the people that show up after the violence and write a report. Individuals, neighbors are the ones with a vested interest in survival.

    Just as the vast majority of automobile drivers don’t get behind the wheel intent on crashing into a school bus, the vast majority of gun owners aren’t interested in committing mayhem. To suggest otherwise is hysteria.

    If the failure of gun controls in Chicago has shown anything, it is the alliance, unintentional or otherwise, between the violent criminal element and politicians. A citizen should be allowed to determine one’s own security needs.

    (Actually, I’m surprised that government attacks on the 2nd Amendment have riled up so much more public interest than the attacks on the other Amendments to the Bill of Rights.)

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