McMaken: Why Joe Biden Is Winning The Gun-Control Debate

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

There are two fundamental arguments most commonly made against gun control.

1. The Anti-Crime Argument

The first one is based on the idea that persons have a fundamental right to self-defense against ordinary criminals. That is, in a world where criminals have access to either legal or illegal weapons, ordinary people ought to be able to arm themselves for purposes of self defense.

The benefits of private gun ownership in this regard can be illustrated in a variety of ways. Mexico’s strict gun-control regime, for instance, ensures ordinary Mexicans are at the mercy of the cartels and ordinary street criminals. Mexico’s astoundingly high homicide rates illustrate the unfortunate reality.

Moreover, within the United States, some of the worst regions for homicides are areas with some of the most strict gun control laws. Baltimore, for example, has a homicide rate ten times that of the United States overall, while the state of Maryland heavily restricts gun ownership.

Studies that assert “more guns means more crime,” meanwhile, have never been able to demonstrate a causal relationship here. Not only is there no reliable data on where exactly all the guns are, but the direction of causality can go either way. We would expect people living in a high crime area to be more likely to purchase a gun for protection. In other words, the proper conclusion may just as likely be “more crime means more guns.”

The gun-for-self-defense argument is the easier one to make. For the most part, one need only argue that people need to be at least as well armed as ordinary criminals. Shotguns and rifles for home defense, or conceal-carry of handguns, for instance, would arguably be sufficient.

2. The Defense-Against-Tyranny Argument

The other argument for private gun ownership is the argument that weapons ought to be owned by a sizable portion of the population as a defense against an abusive government.

In the current ideological environment, this is the harder argument to make. And, as we shall see, this argument depends heavily on making the case that a standing army controlled by the federal government is a threat to freedom. As it now stands, this argument isn’t exactly popular.

The Origins of the Second Amendment

In the late eighteenth century, however, the idea that a standing army was a grave danger to any society was far more common. The eighteenth-century arguments behind the Second Amendment, of course, were always centered around providing a check on the power of the central government’s military power. Those argumentsgo far back beyond the Declaration of Independence at least to the days of the English Civil war. In the 1660s it was agreed that troops were necessary to maintain order, but few trusted the central government with the task. Thus, “a nationwide militia, composed of civilians who would — as in earlier days — be summoned in time of need.”

In practice, this meant the militia members would have access to their own arms, and be skilled in their use. Much was made of the idea that a national standing army, under the command of the central government was a significant danger to the liberties of the resident population. This idea persisted in Britain even into the nineteenth century.

These ideas eventually made their way to the United States where state and local militias were commonly used during the Revolutionary War, and afterward, such as when the Massachusetts Militia was successfully used to put down Shays’ Rebellion. Formal and independent militias — some controlled by cities and states, and some semi-private — continued to exist throughout the nineteenth century. But there was also the “unorganized” militia, which in many state constitutions were defined as “all able-bodied male residents of the State, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years.” As noted by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, some militias were successfully employed in defense against Indian raids, and as part of the invasion force of the Mexican War.

Under-girding the idea of the militia was always the belief that a sizable federal standing army was a threat to American freedoms, and that outside the Navy, military force ought to be decentralized and subject to state and local control.

These militias — once called into service — were usually subject to control by government officials, whether local or at the state level. But it was often assumed that the ranks of the militia would be filled by residents skilled in the use of their own private arms. This also assumed private gun ownership. Moreover, it assumed ownership of arms — and proficiency with them — at the level of a military unit.

So What does This Have to do with the Gun Control Argument Today?

The idea of the militias as a check on standing armies remains important because gun-control advocates are now specifically targeting the defense-against-tyranny argument in their drive to further criminalize gun ownership.

For example, last week, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was asked about his position on gun control:

COOPER: So, to gun owners out there who say, well, a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns?

BIDEN: Bingo. You’re right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is, they should be illegal, period. Look, the Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own. You can’t buy a bazooka. You can’t have a flame thrower.

     The guys who make these arguments are the people who say the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots, we need the protection against the government. We need an F-15 for that. We need something well beyond whether or not you’re going to have an assault weapon.

Biden is not claiming no gun ownership is to be allowed. Instead, he’s just saying people don’t need guns beyond what’s necessary for personal defense. In his mind, that means it’s practical to eliminate private ownership of so-called “assault weapons.”

The tactic here is clear: Biden is attacking the guns-against-tyranny argument because he knows if he can win on that, he can make a case for abolishing legal ownership of semi-automatic rifles like AR-15s. For now, he won’t bother arguing against the guns-for-self-defense argument. That’s too much trouble.

But when he says guns can’t really fight abusive government, his argument will strike many listeners as quite sensible. Here are the key components:

  • It is silly to assert an AR-15 will defend against tyranny.

  • Why is it silly? Because a tyrannical US government would be armed with F-15 fighter jets and flame throwers and bazookas. Thus, the idea that people could defend against this with some AR-15s is absurd.

  • Should people be allowed to own military hardware then? Of course not!  Everyone knows we can’t just let anybody own a bazooka or a machine gun.

The conclusion is this: let’s move on form this fantasy about how your AR-15 fights tyranny, and let’s get down to making people safe by getting these “weapons of war” out of the hands of people who will use them to slaughter children.

Meanwhile, very few people are willing to go on CNN and say “yes, I think military grade rifles and armored vehicles with belt-fed machine guns should be perfectly legal to everyone at any time.” Few are willing to say this for good reason. They’d be mocked and dismissed as utterly irrelevant.

The pro-gun-control side also benefits from the fact the US military is incredibly popular, and we are regularly told that all Americans only have any freedom at all because the US military makes it possible. Why would anyone need a gun to shoot at those American heroes?

Rebuilding the Dike: Yes, Standing Armies Are a Problem, and Yes, We Must Decentralize Military Power

Unfortunately, anyone who wants to really defend the guns-against-tyranny argument has his work cut out for him.

For more than a century now, Americans have been told there is no longer any role for any sort of military force that is beyond the direct control of the federal government. In other words, a huge standing federal army is perfectly fine, and we don’t need military hardware — privately owned or otherwise — to defend against them. 

This idea was made a legal reality with the Militia Act of 1903. With the new legislation, the federal government created the so-called National Guard which would spell the doom of the unorganized militia in the US, and serve to completely undermine the Second Amendment and its defense of decentralized military power in the US.

After 1903, the federalization of the state militias only accelerated until, as historian David Yassky concludes, “Today’s National Guard is thus a far cry from what the Founders’ understood a militia to be” and the result of these changes has brought about “the disappearance of anything the Founders would have recognized as a militia.” Far from acting as a bulwark against abuse of federal power, today’s National Guard is something the authors of the Second Amendment “would have seen as little better than a standing army.”

This change has essentially removed the idea of the unorganized militia from public debate, and has also solidified the notion that all military power in the United States ought to be controlled by generals in Washington, DC. Thus, the idea that anyone outside federally-controlled military units ought to have military-level weapons strikes most as bizarre.

Yes, some vestiges of the old system did persist later than 1903. As late as 1990, it was still possible — at least in theory — for state governors to legally veto deployment of National Guard units ordered by US presidents. But even that independence is gone now.

Historically, however, state governments could — and did — refuse to deploy troops when US presidents demanded it. But today, the idea that standing armies are a danger — or that local and state militias have a role in defending against them — is profoundly unpopular among policymakers and average voters alike.

So now, if one is going to assert that guns (and other weapons) are needed to protect against tyranny, one has to rebuild the entire Second Amendment edifice: an edifice which is fundamentally opposed to standing armies and which imagines both an organized and unorganized militia outside the control of the central government.

After all, even many people who fancy themselves big defenders of the Second Amendment certainly don’t act like it. Often, the same people who clamor to thank soldiers “for their service” then say with the next breath that guns are necessary to fight against the military’s soldiers. Moreover, the destruction of the militia’s independence was historically cheered by conservatives. It was gun-owning social conservatives who supported legislation like the Montgomery Amendment which put the final nail in the coffin of state-control of National Guard units. The bill’s sponsor, conservative Congressman Sonny Montgomery of Mississippi, was never punished by his voters for his assault on the Second Amendment.

Pakistan’s PM Khan: World Must “Seriously Consider” Safety Of India’s Nuclear Arsenal

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has gone on a blistering attack, in a series of Twitter statements arguing that the world must “seriously consider” the safety of India’s nuclear arsenal under control the “fascist” Modi government.

“The world must also seriously consider the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal in the control of the fascist, racist Hindu supremacist Modi government. This is an issue that impacts not just the region but the world,” Khan tweeted early Sunday.

Khan’s words came just as the AFP is reporting some 4,000 Kashmiris thrown into detention amid an unprecedented crackdown by tens of thousands of Indian troops enforcing a legal revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&k) autonomous status. 

It also comes two days after Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh detailed India’s “no first use” nuclear policy, hinting that it could become permanent. Pakistani officials have said this is a distraction from India’s “genocidal” policies against Muslim Kashmirs.

India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu supremacist ideology and leadership. This threatens nine million Kashmiris under siege for over two weeks which should have sent alarm bells ringing across the world with UN observers being sent there,” Khan tweeted.

India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology & leadership.This threatens 9m Kashmiris under siege in IOK for over 2 weeks which shd have sent alarm bells ringing across the world with UN Observers being sent there

— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 18, 2019

And speaking of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata leadership in New Delhi led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which on August 5th J&K’s status quo ability and rights to maintain their own local governance, Khan described further, “One can simply Google to understand the link between the Nazi ideology and ethnic cleansing and genocide ideology of the RSS-BJP founding fathers.”

“Already four million Indian Muslims face detention camps and cancellation of citizenship. The world must take note as this genie is out of the bottle and the doctrine of hate and genocide, with RSS goons on the rampage, will spread unless the international community acts now to stop it,” he said.

Since the crisis began two weeks ago through New Delhi’s voiding Article 370 of the constitution, there’s been a reported build-up of Pakistani forces along its side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, meaning at any moment the heated rhetoric could spark a major war between the nuclear armed neighbors and rivals. 

“The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Hate-Based Scam That Nearly Caused Me To Be Murdered”

Authored by Jessica Prol Smith, op-ed via,

After internal challenges with discrimination, the Southern Poverty Law Center can’t call itself an arbiter of justice.

I’ll never forget the moment I learned we were on lockdown. It was Aug.15, 2012. My frustration mingled with fear. Trapped on the sixth floor, we knew someone had been shot. We knew we couldn’t leave yet. We knew little else.

While I was missing lunch, a crime scene played out in the office lobby below me. My coworker and friend Leo wasn’t armed, but he’d played the quick-thinking and inadvertent hero, disarming a young man on a mission to kill me and as many of my colleagues as possible. The gunman had packed his backpack with ammo and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches — later admitting that he’d planned to smear them on our lifeless faces as a political statement. Leo took a bullet in the arm but managed to disarm and hold the attacker until law enforcement arrived.

I wrote and edited for the Family Research Council, a public advocacy organization that promoted the principles I’d cared about since childhood: protecting the family, promoting the dignity of every human life and advocating for religious liberty. It reads like a tagline, but it’s also just what I believed and the way I chose to match my career with my convictions.

I never expected that everyone would celebrate or share my beliefs. But I did expect to be able to discuss and debate these differences without becoming a political target in an act of terrorism, the first conviction under Washington, D.C.’s 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act.

It was the type of violent incident that one could expect a group that purportedly monitors “hate,” like the Southern Poverty Law Center, to notice, research, and decry. In fact, we were on the center’s radar but for all the wrong reasons. The assailant acknowledged later in FBI testimony that he had selected our office precisely because the SPLC had labeled my employer a “hate group.”

It’s always been easier to smear people rather than wrestle with their ideas. It’s a bully who calls names and spreads lies rather than thoroughly reading a brief’s legal arguments or challenging the rationale underlying a policy proposal. The SPLC has chosen to take the easy path — to intimidate and mislead for raw political power and financial benefit.

For years, former employees revealed, local journalists reported and commentatorshave lamented: the Southern Poverty Law Center is not what it claims to be. Not a pure-hearted, clear-headed legal advocate for the vulnerable, but rather an obscenely wealthy marketing scheme. For years, the left-wing interest group has used its “hate group” list to promote the fiction that violent Neo-Nazis and Christian nonprofits peacefully promoting orthodox beliefs about marriage and sex are indistinguishable. Sometimes, it’s apologized to public figures; it’s smeared and recently paid out millions to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit.

The SPLC has its own troubles

These shameful secrets are no longer hidden in shadows. The New York TimesPoliticoNPR and a host of other mainstream publications are reporting on the corruption and widening credibility gap. The SPLC dismissed its co-founder, and its president resigned amidst numerous claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism within the organization — a parade of disgraces that vividly force the conclusion: The SPLC is hollow, rotten and failing at the very virtues it pretends to celebrate.

The criticism comes from many corners. There’s theCurrent Affairs editor who seems sympathetic to the center’s progressive mission but decries its “hate group” list as an “outright fraud” and a “willful deception designed to scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC.” 

There’s the retired investigative journalist who helped research and write an eight-part series on the center’s “litany of problems and questionable practices” in the mid-1990s. His Washington Post opinion piece reads with a thinly-veiled message: We nearly got a Pulitzer Prize for TELLING YOU SO. 

But perhaps most damning of all are the indictments leveled by former employee Bob Moser in The New Yorker. He remembers being welcomed to the “Poverty Palace” and recounts the heart-sinking reality of it all — being “pawns” in a “highly profitable scam.”

Jobs and years have passed, and I work now for Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF ranks among “the top performing firm(s]” litigating First Amendment cases, the “Christian legal powerhouse that keeps winning at the Supreme Court.” And yes, my new employer has also attracted one of the SPLC’s spurious hate labels. The label easily peels and fades away when one actually does the research and listens to truth before deciding to troll.

I won’t be intimidated by the SPLC 

If the SPLC thought that their hate would intimidate or silence me and my colleagues, they’re sadly mistaken. I’m lucky — blessed, really — that I didn’t take a bullet for my beliefs back in 2012. But the center’s ugly slander and the gunman’s misguided attack have sharpened my resolve and deepened my faith in my Savior, who commands my destiny and shields me from the schemes of man. The same is true for my colleagues.

Fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fell to an assassin’s bullet. The SPLC pretends to carry his legacy but weaponizes hate labels instead. Unlike SPLC’s name-calling, Dr. King’s words and vision stand the test of time. “Injustice anywhere,” he warned, “is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The SPLC, as an institution, has thoroughly disqualified itself as an arbiter of justice. But this country would be a better place if the center’s donors, lawyers and friends would truly believe and apply Dr. King’s legacy — his peaceful pursuit of justice and his love of neighbor.

US Air Force Can Now Turn Small Planes Into Robots

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Center for Rapid Innovation (CRI) and DZYNE Technologies completed a two-hour test flight of a new robot plane Aug. 9 at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

“This flight test is a testament to AFRL’s ability to rapidly innovate technology from concept to application in a safe build up approach while still maintaining low cost and short timelines,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, AFRL commander.

The new revolutionary Robotic Pilot Unmanned Conversion Program, called ROBOpilot, interacts with flight controls just like a human pilot.

“Imagine being able to rapidly and affordably convert a general aviation aircraft, like a Cessna or Piper, into an unmanned aerial vehicle, having it fly a mission autonomously, and then returning it back to its original manned configuration,” said Dr. Alok Das, CRI’s Senior Scientist. “All of this is achieved without making permanent modifications to the aircraft.”

The robot manipulates the yoke, pushes on the rudders and brakes, regulates the throttle, observes the instrument panel the same way a pilot does. “At the same time, the system uses sensors, like GPS and an Inertial Measurement Unit [essentially a way for a machine to locate itself in space without GPS] for situational awareness and information gathering. A computer analyzes these details to make decisions on how to best control the flight,” AFRL said.

Once the flight is completed, ROBOpilot can be quickly uninstalled from a plane. The system is the size of a pilot’s seat, which includes all the equipment needed to control the aircraft including actuators, electronics, cameras, power systems, and a robotic arm.

Das said ROBOpilot is a non-invasive way towards robotically piloted aircraft leverages existing commercial technology and components. It’s a low-cost alternative compared to military drones that cost $15 to $200 million.

“ROBOpilot offers the benefits of unmanned operations without the complexity and upfront cost associated with the development of new unmanned vehicles,” Das said.

AFRL uploaded a short video of the test flight onto YouTube last week. 

Former CIA Spook: “Russian Hoax Coup & Epstein Are Interlocked”

Via Greg Hunter’s,

Former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp says the Russian hoax and attempted coup of President Trump and the sex trafficking case against Jeffery Epstein are linked together by the same Deep State players.

Shipp explains, “The FBI has completely raided his vault, and they have some pretty damning material…”

I don’t know why it took so long, but they have raided Epstein’s island… So, there is a lot of damning information the FBI has now on certain people. At the top of the list, and the one who flew the most, was Bill Clinton. Then he lied about it. They are intertwined in that regard and with the Clinton Foundation that we know is a fraud. It is known around the world, and you’ve got these two intersections with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Of course, Hillary Clinton is tied to the dossier in an attempt to get rid of Donald Trump. So, these webs interlocked with each other, and these people interlock with each other. Welcome to the global elite. Welcome to human trafficking. These things are connected, and with Epstein dead, there are a lot of prominent people breathing a sigh of relief—for now. Is Barr aggressive enough? He says he is going to pursue this case anyway. Is he going to call in the people seen on the CD’s, videos and photographs? That remains to be seen.”

On Epstein’s officially ruled suicide while in prison, Shipp says, “Epstein tries to commit ‘suicide,’ and his cellmate, a four-time convicted murderer, said he didn’t see (or hear) it because he had his headphones on. Attorney General William Barr was in charge of the safety of Jeffery Epstein. There should have been an entire contingent of U.S. Marshals to protect this huge witness, but there were none... Why is that? …”

It is just unbelievable how they left this huge witness to die in prison. The prison guards were off, as we know. The cameras were not functioning. He was taken off of suicide watch and on and on we go. There are so many things that add up to this not being a suicide that it is remarkable. . . …

We are all still hoping that Attorney General Barr will do his job and people are charged, but this is starting to bother me a little bit. A major witness that was connected to high level people in government and finance was left alone to die in prison, and I think he was murdered. This was all left to happen by William Barr. The pieces to this just don’t add up…

We’ve got so many strange things going on here that do not add up, and Attorney General Barr is ultimately responsible for this happening.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former CIA Officer and author of the top selling book about the Deep State called “From the Company of Shadows.

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