New Hampshire and the Second Amendment

I read an interesting post by Mr. Pink Eyes on America’s Watchtower about a Second Amendment victory in the New Hampshire House, coming on the heels of a Second Amendment defeat, that got me back to thinking about gun rights. With apologies to Larry for returning to this controversial issue (and a promise to engage in spirited but not acrimonious debate) I thought it was worth revisiting. Just to be clear I will state my position up front: I support the Second Amendment and agree that it confers on Americans the right to bear arms; but I also believe the states have the right and the obligation to establish reasonable limits to protect their citizens. The question of what is reasonable is a legal one and should be left to state legislatures, and state and federal courts, including the US Supreme Court, to decide.

Last week in New Hampshire the state legislature voted to ban bringing guns into any state building. Mr. Pink Eyes saw this as “an infringement on the Second Amendment.” I prefer not to get into the constitutionality of the decision because that will surely get us nowhere. I believe the states can establish reasonable limits on carrying weapons and many of you do not. Fair enough, an honest disagreement. But I would hope most of you would think there are some limits that are reasonable? For instance, can we agree that nobody should be allowed to carry a gun into the Oval Office? How about carrying a gun into the Senate or House chamber while they are in session (clever responses not required)? How about into a courtroom? Or on an airplane? There are many physical locations that are quite secure and where all visitors must go through metal detectors before entering the premises. If those security measures exist then, by definition, those places are infinitely more secure than walking down the street in broad daylight or having a drink at a local bar. So my question is, doesn’t the availability of security provisions at state buildings in New Hampshire (if they exist!), or anyplace else, make the banning of guns substantially improve the safety of everyone inside? I suppose a corollary to that is whether the safety of the people in the building is paramount to the right of an individual to carry a gun? I’d most definitely say it is. By the way, if there are no security measures in place at the state buildings and the lawmakers passed the ban because they felt threatened then the hypocrisy of that vote is amazing especially in light of the vote that followed.

Now what about the Second Amendment “victory”? Here’s what Mr. Pink Eyes wrote about HB160:

This bill revises New Hampshire self defense laws to ensure that nobody who brandishes a weapon when they feel threatened will face charges no matter where the incident takes place in the state.

OK, I’m no expert on gun law and I know next to nothing about New Hampshire gun law but this strikes me as about the lamest “victory” I’ve heard about on Second Amendment issues in a long time. Here’s the actual language from the bill:

A person who responds to a threat which would be considered by a reasonable person as likely to cause serious bodily injury or death to the person or to another by displaying a firearm or other means of self-defense with the intent to warn away the person making the threat shall not have committed a criminal act.

So if somebody threatens you or yours this law allows you to pull out your gun and say “see how big my gun is?” but it does NOT give you the right to use it! If you shoot somebody who is physically threatening your children you are still going to be arrested and charged. If I have this wrong then please correct me but this seems like a law with absolutely no teeth – and this from ME of all people! The law does not make clear what constitutes a situation that reasonable people would find appropriate for pulling a weapon so this by no means will stop criminal cases against those who display a gun in “self-defense.” Does a barroom brawl rate? How about a football dad arguing with the coach about his son’s playing time? What about a nasty fight following a car accident where one person pulls a baseball bat and bashes in the other car’s headlights? I’d hope that in all these situations the first person to pull a gun is the one considered to be making the threat that warrants the other party pulling a weapon – but of course all that second person can do is say “mine’s bigger than yours!” If this is a Second Amendment victory then I’d say the standards by which a victory is measured have deteriorated considerably.

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42 comments to New Hampshire and the Second Amendment

  • Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Running for cover!!!)

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. A more substantial comment will be forthcoming when I have had time to read the article more thoroughly.
    .-= LD Jackson´s last blog ..Brown leads Coakley – The Massachusetts Senate race =-.

  • Mike – upon some digging, the language of the bill still has some problems and my be amended yet again. The new wording that is being recommend, and which would clarify it’s intent which is to allow NH residents to stand their ground when confronted with violence, looks like this.

    ” New Hampshire’s Proposed Stand your Ground Bill has Problems
    February 12, 2009

    Posted In: New Hampshire Title II Firearm Trust & Class III Attorney
    By David M. Goldman on February 12, 2009 5:00 PM | Permalink
    Our New Hampshire NFA Gun Trust Attorney has send in some information on HB 160 and some potential problems.

    1) The language

    (a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is within his or her dwelling, its curtilage, or in any place where he or she has a right to be, and was not the initial aggressor; or

    could defeat the purpose of the intended modification. In order to avoid the risk, the “swelling” and “curtilage” language should be removed from the law.

    2) Retreat is still required if one is in a place where one does not have “a right to be.” This is understandable as to stopping wrongdoers from availing themselves of this defense. However, what if one is inadvertently in a place where the person does not have “a right to be” and defends ones self with deadly force, that person still must retreat from violent criminal attack. (For example, inadvertently standing outside of a crosswalk, or in an illegally parked car because the meter expired.)

    3) Raising Self Defense in New Hampshire initially places a relatively small burden of proof on a defendant to give the State notice of the defense and show “some evidence” to support a rational finding in favor on the defense, for the jury to consider the defense. (See State v. Vassar,154 NH 371) The State then has to disprove it “beyond a reasonable doubt. The current burden could be eased further for a defendant by putting a presumption in the law.

    4) The section to be amended is misidentified the bill states: “Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, 111(a) to read as follows:” (Emphasis added) 627:4, 111(a) should read 627:4, III(a). There is no “111” in the law to modify. There is a “III” which I presume is what the sponsor meant means to change.

    Suggested amendments to address the above concerns:
    STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
    In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine

    AN ACT relative to physical force in defense of a person.

    Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

    1. Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, II to read as follows:
    II. A person is presumed to be justified in using deadly force upon another person when he reasonably believes that such other person:

    2. Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, II(d) to read as follows:

    (d) Is likely to use any unlawful force in the commission of a felony against the actor [within such actor's dwelling or its curtilage,] in any place where the actor reasonably believes he or she has a right to be.

    3. Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, III (a) to read as follows:

    (a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is [within his dwelling or its curtilage,] in any place where the actor reasonably believes he or she has a right to be, and was not the initial aggressor; or

    4. Physical Force in Defense of a Person. Amend RSA 627:4, to add new section IV (a) to read as follows:

    3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2010.”

    Basically, NH residents will have the right to stand their ground and defend themselves and be presumed not guilty instead of the other way around.
    .-= Dominique´s last blog ..FOUR life-lessons my PUGS taught ME =-.

  • Laurie

    Good post, Mike. Good idea to leave the Constitutional questions and the garden-variety arguments out. Gonna try to stick to the question of “reasonable”, something I think is lacking in this New Hampshire law.

    Yes this seems like a law with no teeth, and the subjectivity makes it nearly impossible to enforce (in the negative). Who decides whether the perception of the need to show a weapon is reasonable? A ‘reasonable person’, which leaves room for the broadest interpretation possible and puts everyone in public at the mercy of individual perceptions and the ability to make reasonable decisions in highly charged situations. This law virtually relies on individual judgment and restraint to guarantee the safety of others, something that doesn’t always fly in highly charged situations where senses are heightened and judgment could be impaired due to stress, emotions etc.

    For many years, it was legal in Wyoming to consume alcohol while driving for adults. Not to drive drunk, but to drink while driving. The presumption of the law was that an adult could excercise his own good judgment and pop a cold one while taking one of the endless drives it takes to get from town to town, and use his own judgement not to have too much. Drive thru liguor stores where you could order a shot or beer or mixed drinks were often the last thing you passed as you left town. It was, of course, too subjective, too trusting and resulted in a very high highway fatality average per capita and a generally lax attitude in the general public’s views and misperceptions on drinking and driving. Feds finally put a stop to it, but not before many were killed because they were at the mercy of somebody else’s judgement. The New Hampshire law has the same potential for tragic accidents of innocent bystanders, all because individual judgement is elevated above public safety.

    Is it reasonable that we cannot expect the same safety on a street that we could on a US military base or in the halls of Congress? I don’t think so. Should we not be able to go to a movie or a football game without our safety being subjected to the perceptions of others? I think we should.

  • Actually, let me explain that victory.

    It turns out that under previous NH law, a person was expected to retreat from threat if at all possible.

    This law allows you to stand your ground and present a weapon to defend yourself or others. By doing so, it will also cover the person who actually shoots an assailant.
    .-= Wickle´s last blog ..Duchemin’s Law of Bureaucracy =-.

  • Mike

    Look, I haven’t done thorough research on this so I’m just reading and interpreting the law as it was written and passed by the N.H. House. Dominique, the article you cite is 11 months old and in my quick study I found nothing to support consideration of the changes you mention. The bill was rewritten several times and what I italicized above is what was passed. In fact, Mr Pink Eyes noted in quotation marks in his article the ability for citizens to defend themselves “anywhere they have the lawful right to be.” Well, that line was in an earlier version of the bill but not the one that passed the House (unless I got it wrong). The bill is a simple sentence establishing that a person who displays a weapon, when confronted by a threat of violence, as a means of warning the threat off, shall not have committed a crime. It says nothing about use of the weapon. Wickle is probably right in using the phrase “allows you to stand your ground” but I confess that I find that victory somewhat hollow. Perhaps I’m missing an important nuance.

    Does nobody have any thoughts on carrying a gun into the US Senate or the right of a state to declare certain places (courts, airports, state houses, police stations, schools, etc) where metal detectors are in place off limits for gun possession?

    • Laurie

      In my first post I ended with:

      “Is it reasonable that we cannot expect the same safety on a street that we could on a US military base or in the halls of Congress? I don’t think so. Should we not be able to go to a movie or a football game without our safety being subjected to the perceptions of others? I think we should.”

      Perhaps too circumspect? Heightened security is possible and warranted in all the locations you mentioned. Although I think it is impractical to secure all workplaces and public areas like this, I do think that the states have a reasonable right to regulate carrying and showing weapons to menace in places where the public has a reasonable expectation of protection by the state. The state (not the individual) is in charge of not only the rule and enforcement of laws but a basic guarantee of safety in public spaces,including offices. The New Hampshire law encourages vigilante behavior, and the State is actually adbdicating its role to the individual.

      • “The New Hampshire law encourages vigilante behavior, and the State is actually abdicating its role to the individual.”

        You have to be kidding me. You cannot really believe that. I lived in NH on and off for over 10 years and I have never seen people become vigilantes because they have a right to carry. Geesh.

        Again, the facts do not support that. Crime has gone down as gun ownership has gone up. So if law encourages the right to own a gun and people buy a gun, why don’t we have more crime as the result of an increase in Vigilantism?

        It just doesn’t work that way. The majority of RESPONSIBLE people own guns, go through training, get their permits, etc. These are not the people who are breaking the law.
        .-= Dominique´s last blog ..it WILL come =-.

    • Mike,

      Sorry to be so late in posting a real comment to your article. I have had visitors since I arrived home from work and couldn’t very well abandon them for the blog. But, I digress.

      I have been thinking about your question about being able to carry a gun into certain places because of security procedures that are in place. As long as said security procedures are in place, then I would have to submit that it is reasonable for those places to be off limits for guns. That statement may get me in trouble with some people, but there may very well be some places where it simply is inappropriate to carry a gun. Let me explain what I mean.

      Think about it for a moment, taking the example of a courthouse. Most of these buildings have metal detectors in use at all times, which requires someone to be manning the detectors. Just imagine the security nightmare if you have several people coming into the building and one of them is carrying a gun for reasons that are not honorable and just. That’s not so bad if the person manning the detectors is doing their job, as the illegal activity can be isolated and stopped before it escalates to the point of the gun actually be used.

      Now imagine double and triple the nightmare if there are two, three, four, etc. people carrying a gun for which they have a concealed weapons permit.The person in charge has to sort through who has a permit and who doesn’t. By the time that task is finished, there is a real possibility that the real culprit may slip past unnoticed. It just seems like a reasonable thing for us to consider.

      • So…for every person that slips by, every other citizen who is abiding by the law should have their liberties restricted even further? What about the laws that are already on the books. The person in your scenario that slips through will be punished to the full extent of our laws.

        Where is the line and how many liberties do we allow the government and state to strip from us before we realize we have gone to far? And who gets to decide where that line is? I mean you and I don’t agree on the line so how do you suppose our government will decide which line is right? I can tell you because they do over and over. They will take away as many rights/liberties as they can to “protect” us.

        As a side note, I have no problem with the state/government enforcing laws created to protect us but I am getting very concerned by how far they are willing to go and how many Americans seem to have no issue it.

        I can’t imagine that our fore-fathers ever dreamed that we would so willing hand over our right to bear arms. They understood how necessary is was to have this right.
        .-= Dominique´s last blog ..it WILL come =-.

  • What would be the purpose of carrying a weapon into the U.S. Senate?
    Anyway, New Hampshire should look to NorthCarolina in the use of deadly force….
    http://www.wsoctv.com/news/13653578/detail.html
    I consulted a lawyer before i carried my Ruger.357 while working a paper route in a bad section of Fayetteville (Muchison Rd.).
    -He suggested i place pellet (rat shot) in my 1st chamber. I did, and it was useful not too long after, when 3 youths who were about to “pull” sure took off when that rat shot rang out. There was no need for the hollow points that followed.
    The advice was good in that i did not have to fire a deadly round that may have ended up in a nearby house.
    All people who carry a fire arm should be well trained in the use of a deadly weapon such as a handgun. It needs to be something that is well thought out before you strap that big iron on your hip.
    .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..Sell your coat and buy a sword? =-.

    • Laurie

      David,

      I don’t think there is any purpose in carrying a weapon into the Halls of Congress or the White House. Further, I think that, because of the need to protect those within the Constitutional provisions of power succession, it is absolutely imperative that guns are prohibited.

      • Further, I think that, because of the need to protect those within the Constitutional provisions of power succession, it is absolutely imperative that guns are prohibited.

        Maybe it’s cause I am exhausted but I’m not understanding what you are saying here.
        .-= Dominique´s last blog ..it WILL come =-.

        • Laurie

          Mike,

          I disagree that I was getting acrimonious. Just stating and opinion, and in that spirit I’ll attempt to clarify my question, based on my statement.

          Dominique:

          Your exhaustion isnt’ the problem. I seem to be having a hard time with coherent comments. Call it brain freeze…What I mean is this: Our Constitution has a plan for succession of power, should something happen to the President. The people on this list often work in the hall of Congress, and certainly in the government offices in DC. So it seems reasonable-from a national security perspective-that guns are banned from those place.

          Think of it like this. When the President (any President) gives a State of the Union address, nearly all the people on the list are in one room, and our Constitutional plan is at risk. Sure, one stays away, but if you were a bad actor and could get a gun inside, might it not be at least a thought in your head to shoot away, making certain that (for example) the Secretary of Agriculture is the only leader left? Paranoid, sure, but plausible? Sure. A very narrow restriction, but a restriction nonetheless, I admit and I don’t expect you to agree with it, but is the point clearer now?

    • I agree, David. Anyone who is going to carry a gun at all, for self-defense purposes or not, needs to be sufficiently trained. Anything less is to invite a tragedy. I listen to Gun Talk on the radio and Tom Gresham is constantly saying that not only are the good training courses training gun owners on how to use their weapons, they are also training them on how to prevent a confrontation from escalating into gun play. That sounds like a good thing to me.

      Out of curiosity, did those young fellas break the sound barrier on their way in the other direction? ;)

      • Larry, i was just so damn’d glad i drew first (….i had my eye on ‘em as they were walking’ up, already reachin’ for my weapon)
        and also that i didn’t have to worry about a stray round hittin’ some little kid nearby that i really didn’t notice. Also, had i hit one with a lethal round (….a hollow point instead of a pellet) i could’a been in a lot of trouble with the law.
        .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..Sell your coat and buy a sword? =-.

  • My only contribution to this would be my many conversations with my father, who spent several years as a police officer. Of course, this was in another state, and even the laws and court precedents have probably changed many times in the intervening years.

    At any rate, here is my take. If you use lethal force, it is expected that you might be arrested and perhaps even charged. However, if it is abundantly clear that you were acting in self defense, you’ll be cleared. It would probably be a royal pain, but it pales in comparison to the death or dismemberment of your family members, or yourself. That being said, and intruder in my home is in for a rude awakening.

    As for carrying in public, I see no personal need for that. I would also not foresee anytime in the future that I might carry one into a public building. However, dealing with the Second Amendment cannot simply be discarded. We are either free to do so, or we are not. It is the basis for the freedom, and the legal interpretation of that right has massive implications for our future.

  • OK, trained people with firearms can be a good thing……
    -But what about all the numskulls that can legally purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun? This is a real and present danger and the folks that champion the 2nd amendment don’t speak to this issue very much. In our zeal to protect our freedoms, it is often forgotten how dangerous a loaded weapon is. Even with gun locks (i kept my Ruger locked up when i was not carring it), and safety courses a quick google will show a real problem….
    “In the U.S. for 2006, there were 30,896 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 16,883; Homicide 12,791; Accident 642; Legal Intervention 360; Undetermined 220. This makes firearms injuries one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.”
    http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html
    For this reason, i have grave concerns about civilian use of firearms.
    .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..Sell your coat and buy a sword? =-.

    • David,

      First of all, let me say something that has been said many times. It is not the loaded weapon that is at fault. It is the people who are using the loaded weapon. Time after time after time after time, I see and hear things that seem to be trying to portray guns as something evil and to be avoided. That is simply not the case. I find it strange that no one mentions banning alcohol because too many people drink, drive, and kill someone else because of their stupidity. Following the logic that you seem to be using, would it not also make sense to severely restrict the use of alcohol and cars?

      I would like to know just exactly what you want to see done about civilian use of firearms. Your statement that you have grave concerns about this use leads me to believe that you would not mind seeing civilian use severely restricted or stopped altogether. If that is where you are going with this argument, then you and I are going to have a major disagreement.

      Matt and Dominique have already mentioned this, but the 2nd Amendment is a basic and fundamental right of the American citizen. It is part of the foundation of our very freedom and if you start taking that right away, you start chipping away at the foundation of our country. Matt said it well.

      We are either free to do so, or we are not. It is the basis for the freedom, and the legal interpretation of that right has massive implications for our future.

      • Laurie

        Larry,

        I completely agree that people are responsible for their actions, not inanimate objects. That’s why the wording of the New Hampshire law is troubling, in that it assumes that everybody’s judgment is equivalent, that everybody will equally judge a threat accurately. I think that is an assumption that 1)isn’t reasonable and 2) is far too subjective for adequate enforcement.

        The sticky part of this, for me, is that it appears to attempt to give prosecutorial cover to those legally licensed to carry in public, should they feel the need to draw a weapon. Am I off base as to the intent of the law? If New Hampshire sought to clarify this situation with this law, it’s understandable. I just think that they missed the mark with an overly broad law that leaves far too much room for imterpretation at the law enforcement and judicial levels. Laws like this one are ripe for abuse and confusion.

        Mike has suggested a narrow discussion, yet many on the post seem to suggest that you cannot discuss a gun law without Constitutional considerations. You may be right, but all that does is lead to this:

        There are limits to many Constitutional rights based on the State’s obligation to provide basic expectations of public safety. Thus, while the freedom to speak one’s mind is extremely broad, you cannot erroneously yell “Fire!” in a crowded building without legal consequnces. Drawing a weapon in public based on only your interpretation of the situation might fall into this category. I really don’t know.

  • I’ve been thinking about this all night. You seem to pose those kind of questions, Mike :-)

    Anyway, I have 2 problems with this ‘not carrying in public’ view.

    First, there is an assumption here that people cannot be expected to be self-regulating and I think that is a faulty premise, as well as a really dangerous one. In addition, as Mike pointed out, we have a justice system that will hold those who abuse the right to carry accountable.

    Secondly, (I’m going there Laurie) this is our Constitutional right and when you take that out of the picture you completely miss the point. If we start down this path of deciding who can do what when, where do we draw the line. People here have already said I’m okay with defending a home but not carrying in public. Well, what about those people who think there should be no guns allowed. This is a slippery slope that, I fear, will leave us unarmed in the end.

    I don’t think it is my job to regulate how someone else behaves or what the can or cannot do. Nor is it the governments job except in the sense to keep the populace safe.

    On a slight side note, the more I read about HB 160, it looks like the castle law has been stripped so in essence you can now protect yourself by showing your gun but it is questionable if you can defend yourself in your home. I like that you can stand your ground now, but I don’t like that on the home front, you may no longer be able to defend your home and family. If that is indeed the case, that is a serious problem for me and the 2nd Amendment.
    .-= Dominique´s last blog ..it WILL come =-.

    • Dominique, perhaps i didn’t make my point clear on this. I took the paper route along Murchison Road (….a hotbed of crime in Fayetteville N.C.) knowing i’d need to protect myself. I thought this out from a legal and practical standpoint. I talked to a lawyer about the use of deadly force and took his advice to heart. I loaded the chamber that was first to be fired with a less lethal round (small pellets instead of a lead slug. So when i pulled my Ruger .357, the law would know my intent was not to kill, but to ward off the criminals. The fact that the warning shot (the criminals had no way of knowing the difference…..) wasn’t as dangerous as a hollow point, both to the criminals(…to protect myself from legal fallout) and more importantly to the innocent bystanders (…a child in its bed nearby?),
      made my decision safer for all. For me, because i was able to make the split second decision easier. Any hesitation on my part would have sealed my doom. Had i in fact fired that high powered round, who knows where it would have ended up. Yes the 3 punks got away, but all in all i made a rational decision.
      Yet with firearms, this isn’t always the case. My point is that most people don’t think this problem through in depth. The notion that one may have a gun and can start shooting when threatened can be deadly to more than just the criminals involved. How many times have we read of an innocent bystander hit by a stray round?
      Yes, no doubt a handgun pulled by a citizen protects them from criminals as the links you suggested point out. But my point is that in politicizing the 2nd amendment and framing it in such a way that places responsibility in the background, trumps safety for rights. Any restriction on firearms, even those enacted for safety are regarded as infringements on our 2nd amendment rights.
      Larry suggested “……would it not also make sense to severely restrict the use of alcohol and cars?”
      Yes! it would make sense to restrict them, since many people drive that have no concept of driving other than how fast they can go. Same with drinking….
      2nd amendment restrictions seem to get many worried, yet many of the same people see no problem with restricting 1st, 4th, and 5th amendment rights in the name of security…..i wonder why?
      .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..Sell your coat and buy a sword? =-.

      • David – What the heck happen to individual responsibility?

        It is not my responsibility, or the states/govs if you break the law. That is your responsibility, whether it be by car or gun. Safety comes from our police and such enforcing the laws we already have on the books.

        If you want an example of what will happen if we ban all guns, take a look at England. And just for clarity, I am not one of those who thinks we should be restricting any of the rights we have been afforded under the Constitution.

        You know, for me, this is no different than raising my daughter. I taught her the rules and set the boundaries. When she was of an age of self-regulation and understanding, if she broke the rules, she suffered the consequences. This is the same thing. We don’t need to keep removing rights to keep people safe. What we need to do is hold people accountable for their actions. If you kill someone, in jail you go. Period.

        BTW, thanks for the really nice comment on my blog. I really appreciated you you taking the time to leave it and I comment back.
        .-= Dominique´s last blog ..it WILL come =-.

  • Mike

    Great comments everybody. Let me try to act the role of moderator and keep us on track. Dominique, you have commented often but I wonder if you could give a direct answer to the question about whether a state has the right to prohibit all weapons in a public building equipped with metal detectors and security personnel all designed to provide the highest level of public safety? Specifically, does the Second Amendment right outweigh the right and obligation of the state to protect its citizens? I would appreciate other comments directly to this question as well. Not whether you personally would carry into a public building but whether the state can prohibit it given other safety precautions.

    Dominique also commented that “I don’t think it is my job to regulate how someone else behaves or what they can or cannot do. Nor is it the governments job except in the sense to keep the populace safe.” They are called laws! We have them specifically to regulate what people can and cannot do. I don’t understand your point here.

    Matt wrote about the 2nd Amendment right, and Larry quoted him in support, that “We are either free to do so, or we are not. It is the basis for the freedom, and the legal interpretation of that right has massive implications for our future.” I find those two sentences a bit contradictory. The “free to do so or not” part sounds like it argues for no limitations or restrictions anytime, anywhere; but your comments, and Larry’s follow-up, seem to accept reasonable limits. Clearly there ARE limits and the Supreme Court essentially acknowledged the right of states to impose reasonable limits in the DC case. Can you clarify?

    David, I’m simply going to stay away from the rights or wrongs of possession of specific weapons or the ability of “numbskulls” to purchase weapons. Maybe another time but this post is going to remain above the fray.

  • I have been without a computer for about a week now but have been following Political realities on my Blackberry, however Political Realities’ mobile site does not give me a link to comment. Today I have access to a computer for a few minutes so here I go.

    I actually agree with you Mike on the states having the right to regulate guns, and I also believe that the states can mandate healthcare as does Massachusetts, and I belive abortion should be left to the states also. That is why I did not write a post about the New Hampshire legislature passing the gun ban, that doesn’t mean that I agree with it, I don’t. I understand why guns would be prohibited in state houses, but the fear that many New Hampshire residents have, is that this is just the beginning and that more regulations would follow. That is my biggest concern.
    New hampshire’s constitition is very straight forward about the right to keep and bear arms, even moreso than the United States constitution,this is from the NH constitution:

    “All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.”

    The problem is that some people when threatened have used the brandishing of a weapon to diffuse the situation lawfully under the state constitution only to be arrested later. This law would clarify their right to do so.
    You ask where the line is drawn, all incidents will still be investigated by the police and if it is found that the person brandished a weapon without being in danger they will still face criminal charges, this would just be further protection for those that had a reasonable concern about their well being.
    The “victory” is that this law will reaffirm what the state constitution already says.
    .-= Mr Pink Eyes´s last blog ..Martha Coakley claims Catholics shouldn’t work in emergency rooms =-.

    • Mr. Pink Eyes,

      I sincerely apologize for the failure of the mobile site to allow comments. It was supposed to be doing that, but since I seldom view the blog on my phone, I was unaware of the problem. I have changed plugins and double-checked to make sure, commenting is now enabled for mobile users.

  • Mike

    Laurie and Dominique, I’d like to ask you both to cease and desist as the conversation is drifting and getting acrimonious. Mr Pink Eyes has given some further perspective on the NH law and while I still think there’s not much meat on those bones I understand the change in risk.

    Let me turn this conversation to a very specific question and ask the following responses to focus on this alone for the moment: What is the difference between bringing a gun on an airplane (which I assume you all think should be prohibited — correct me if I’m wrong) and bringing a gun into a crowded movie theater (which I assume most of you think is perfectly fine)?

    • I don’t think either place should ban guns if the carrier is legally permitted to do so.
      .-= Dominique´s last blog ..it WILL come =-.

    • I may have a strange viewpoint on this, but I think there is a distinction between an airplane and a crowded movie theater. That distinction would be the fact that in an airplane, a single shot could bring down the plane. A movie theater, not so much. If a person has a permit, then I don’t see the problem with carrying a gun into a theater. I am not so comfortable with the idea of someone carrying a gun onto a plane, even if they do have a permit.

  • I’m a strong believer in both the 2nd and the 10th and a strict interpretation of both. The Constitution does not leave gun control to the states, but does leave all things not mentioned to the respective states. And if I recall some members of Congress do carry fire arms into the Capital–Senator Webb comes to mind and I suspect there just may be others. That said there are certain places that guns should be off limits, suchas planes, court rooms, etc. This does seem to go against the 2nd however and I do recognize that fact. One could go on and on about this, but I for one don’t like getting into the weeds—they breed mosquitos and confusion!
    .-= Ron Russell´s last blog .."No Barry", You Naughty Boy! =-.

    • >>I’m a strong believer in both the 2nd and the 10th and a strict interpretation of both.<<
      Ron, what's wrong with the 1st, 4th and 5th?
      .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..Sell your coat and buy a sword? =-.

      • I meant to answer your earlier question about these three amendments, but I failed to do so. I honestly do not see what the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments have to do with this discussion. No one is taking away from their importance and significance in any way and I am not sure what has been said to lead you to believe we are.

        • I brought it up because it just seems to get so many people’s panties in a wad when someone speaks of limiting firearms in any way. They’ll lament the fact that their rights are being taken from them, yet when 4th amendment rights are pissed on in the name of national security, i hear almost nothing from the right.
          So are 2nd amendment rights better than 4th amendment rights?
          .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..War sucks =-.

          • Just so you know, I deleted your last comment and corrected the one I am replying to now for purposes of clarity and to save a little space.

            No one said anything about one amendment being more important than another. It’s just that Mike’s article is about the 2nd Amendment and I think we need to keep the discussion to the topic at hand. If one of us writes an article about those other amendments, feel free to comment. If you want to write about them on your own blog, be my guest.

  • Mike

    Wow! OK, some surprising answers. Dominique, I marvel at your stubbornness. Even Ron thinks guns don’t belong on planes!! And the reason they don’t belong there is that in defending oneself on an airplane with a gun it is almost inevitable that innocent people will die. There is noplace to run, nowhere to hide. The whole NH law that Mr Pink Eyes noted earlier requiring people to attempt to avoid a threat by backing away is impossible on an airplane. An errant shot at 35,000 feet is a potential catastrophe. In a movie theater there are exits. That was an easy question — I can’t believe there was any disagreement.

    Several of you have thumped your chest and essentially said “I stand by the Constitution.” But the Constitution isn’t clear on lots of things and there are inherent conflicts that are regularly in dispute. The right of free speech ends with yelling fire in a theater, inciting a riot, slandering another person, etc… The right to assemble is often granted by permit in order to avoid unknown potentially volatile or simply disruptive situations (you cannot decide to assemble in the middle of Fifth Avenue during rush hour). The protection from unreasonable search and seizure in recent years took a back seat to national security issues. Many of our Constitutional rights conflict under various circumstances and the Supreme Courts decisions on prioritizing those right generally come down on the side of public safety. That’s why I find the adamance irrational when it comes to the Second Amendment right (which supporters argue is needed for self-protection) versus the greater public safety in a secure building or airplane. I’m surprised that isn’t slef-evident but clearly it’s not.

    This has been fun. I’ve really enjoyed all your thoughts on this but I’m about written out. I’ll consider taking a different tack on Second Amendment issues at another time.

  • No need to apologize, Larry. I can’t wait to get my computer back. :) Comments are working now, thank you.

  • Mike,
    The two scenarios that you laid out are not comparable in my opinion. Putting aside the safety issue of carrying guns on planes, most planes travel between states and these states have differing gun laws (not to mention international fights), a person would then be transporting weapons into states they may not be licensed to carry in. In that case they would not be carrying lawfully.
    If a person carries a weapon into a movie theater in the state he is lawfully licensed to carry, there should be no problem. If that same person carries his weapon over state lines into a state that he is unauthorized to carrry, he is breaking the law.

    • Mike

      I’m not buying that — gun owners are well aware of the different state laws re carrying and it should be incumbent upon them, whether driving into another state or flying in, of what those laws permit or don’t. Gun rights advocates are all about personal responsibility so whether it’s carrying locally in a movie theater or across state lines it’s your job to know the law.

  • -Gun Rights advocates talk about the virtue of personal responsibility. Yet hundreds of children are killed each year due to firearms accidents. Mike, i’d be willing to bet you in fact are a conscious, responsible gun owner. Yet the deaths of so many children point to the fact that many of our fellow gun owning citizens are not as vigilant with their firearms. My point is that so much effort is place in espousing our 2nd amendment rights and so little effort is placed in the safe use of these firearms our constitution grants us. Why is this? Could it be that it is a fact that gun rights advocates do not wish to publicize more due to negative reactions that may result?
    .-= David W. Walters´s last blog ..War sucks =-.


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