Posted by: inforodeo | September 18, 2008

Abortion, Guns and the Constitution

part of a response i posted on another blog:

Abortion: Pro-Choice

i was of the ‘on the fence, don’t know when life begins, everyone should have the freedom to choose’ variety most of my life, and i felt i was ‘pro-choice’ …
until it was turned on me. i know i’m making everyone sick with the story, but maybe to put it into perspective, imagine (this will be a stretch because it is so unbelievable) that years ago, a law was passed saying that, as head of the household (in this alternate reality, imagine that has some sort of super-huge meaning), a male had the right to terminate family members as it became financially necessary for the continued ‘well-being’ of the family as a whole. This term ‘well-being’ is widely in dispute, and for some, it means having a big flat-screen television, two cars, and manageable bills, while for others it might mean ‘getting by’ living on ramen and being able to scrape up the money to pay the heating bills.
one day, you come home, and your significant other says, “hey, uh, i want to go to this concert in new jersey with my friends, but it’s going to cost us a month’s pay.” you say, “well, we can’t afford it, so i don’t think that’s a good idea.”
he responds, ‘well, i was thinking, if we kill our 1 year old baby, we could probably afford for me to go, and maybe i’ll bring you back a t-shirt, so you’ll benefit too.”
you’re kind of freaked out, and though you’ve known your whole life that this was something ‘some people’ choose to do, you never thought it would happen to you …
so you put up a fight, and you give all your arguments, and he maybe listens to them for awhile … and then he reminds you that as the ‘head of the household’, it’s his family, and therefore it’s his choice. you know (in this weird alternate world) that he is right, and that legally you have no option but to comply. His friends step in and tell you that you should be supporting your ‘head of household’, and one of them tells a story about how his wife was kind enough to hold the gun …
everyone (but you) seem to think that’s a romantic idea, and a symbolic way to prove your womanhood and stand behind your man …

and i could stop here, but if i do, i’m sparing you the horror i had to witness at the hands of our ‘pro-choice’ society …

so the day comes, and you go down to the local ‘planned parenthood’, and he goes in a corner to secretly fill out his papers. you wonder what they say, but you know it doesn’t matter. The ‘doctor’ comes in and tells you to bring your 1 year old, and he ties her to a chair, and explains that “if they’re a good shot”, the “procedure” will be done fairly quickly, they’ll dispose of the body, and they’ll give you instructions on how to wash the blood out of your clothes.
sitting a few feet away, you are plunged into a big bunch of thought … for the first time in your life, you’re questioning whether or not there is life after death, whether all the things you’d been raised to believe, and the things you’d picked up on in the last few years are valid. what if they aren’t, and you never see your baby again? what if they are, and you suffer a worse fate at the hand of this “God” person? You feel your stomach sink as the explosion goes off. Your ‘head of household’ grunts a little … he felt a little physical pain when your child was killed … but after twenty minutes, the doctors tell you you might feel a little weird for a few days, but the deed is done. enjoy the concert!

THAT is the reality of abortion as i experienced it. so yeah, pro-choice may seem on the surface to be better than ‘no choice’ or ‘choice only under two criteria’, but when you’re not the one making the choice, yet you’re bound to it, it kind of sucks. it destroys.

I believe, and have always believed, that our freedom should only go as far as to not infringe on someone else’s freedom. This is why people filing lawsuits to un-decorate the town at Christmas, or people wanting to ‘ban guns’, or forcing Muslim women to bare their face or (now that i see it for what it can be) ‘pro-choice’ abortion really irks me. i recognize the world is not perfect, and that’s why i don’t freak out over not being able to take a gun on a plane, or not being able to pray in schools …
but laws are too readily (the hare) upholding the rights of a few, at the cost of many. Why should someone with no beliefs or desire to express or celebrate their beliefs symbolically even care if someone is going to put up a Christmas tree or a menorah? Something like that may be an irritant, but it’s a small, small thing to have to deal with for that kind of individual, while it is a large infringement on the freedom of those who would have liked to celebrate their beliefs, or see the beauty in the beliefs or symbols of others.

Sex Education

i agree … many families do not spend the time they should educating their children about sex and its consequences … but i think it should go a step further. Schools and media should stop ____ parents’ authority over their children and how the parent’s beliefs may be taught. if i want to teach my kid that having sex will make them go blind, i might be a freaking idiot, but i should have that power. if i want to teach my kid that it’s ok for two people of the same sex to have intercourse, that’s my prerogative. if i want to teach my children to respect the power of procreation and to associate with other children who share the same core ‘moral’ beliefs, then i should, and i shouldn’t have the local school trying to drill into their heads that “well, abstinence is certainly an option, but so are condoms and birth control pills and abortions” or whatever. (locally last year the high school kids put on a presentation for the middle school kids and taught them about sex. To their credit, they did mention abstinence, but without any kind of context as to why it’s not the best thing to have sex before you are mature and in a stable relationship 9like a marriage), i think the concept was a little too easy to pass by).

I’ve heard the accusation that teaching abstinence only makes teen pregnancy rates higher, but i haven’t seen the data. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, because (again) without the moral, spiritual, or ‘grown up’ context to understand why abstinence is (could be) important, these little kids just aren’t going to get it. My personal belief is that NO sex ed should be taught before college, that parents should be provided with federally-printed sourcebooks that help the parent know how to talk to kids (and presents all options, which the parents may pick and choose which to teach), and i think that abortion should be banned. In the past … when more people were religious (or claimed to be), and abortion was taboo, premarital sex was ‘a sin’, and teenagers had curfews (and parents had control of the media that came into their homes, clothing wasn’t as provocative, etc) … there wasn’t as much of a burden on society to take care of all these issues that have since taken root and choked out civility. I’ve heard the line “but back then, thousands of women died in back-alley abortions, and we just don’t know how many because they were never reported as abortions” … but to be fair, we have just as much evidence that this is a sensationalist exaggeration as we do that it was truly the case. The only thing we can be sure of is that society has grown uglier, more problems have come to light, and we can trace our way back through a path of social programs at odds with that age-old scapegoat ‘religion’ to a time when these problems were not as unmanageable, widespread, and politicized.

Guns

Banning certain kinds of guns or ammo serves no purpose. In fact, now that people are paying attention, there are documented examples of how gun bans may increase violent crime. certain types of guns and ammunition was banned in S.F. awhile back, and during the period of time since the guns were banned, violent crime has increased.
When there is a ban on something to ‘prevent crime’, the ONLY people who suffer are those who were not committing crime. Criminals will continue to locate or build guns, despite gun or ammunition bans. People unfamiliar with guns are usually quick to make all sorts of assumptions, but here are a few facts:
– it is incredibly easy for anyone to make ammunition. working ammunition does not require any ‘special ingredients’ that can be restricted (in the way that attempts have been made to restrict Meth production).
– The MAJORITY (as in better than 50%) of gun deaths in the statistics used by anti-gun folks in their propaganda are deaths by suicide. Someone intent on suicide is going to succeed using a different method if there are no guns around. Are we going to ban rope, medicine, gasoline, bodies of water, tall places, trains, automobiles and policemen next?
– Less people are injured per year in gun-related hunting accidents than are killed by lightning. This is largely due to the fact that people who hunt are required to learn gun (“hunter”) safety in most (all?) states. They use their firearms safely and responsibly.
– A portion of those gun deaths in statistics are the result of law enforcement shootings of criminals. Are we going to take guns away from law enforcement? It would make better sense to try to reduce the conditions that create criminals (single-parent homes, poverty, violent films, violent video games, mental illness, sexual abuse, physical abuse, a culture of ‘cop-hating’, music and music videos glorifying crime, criminals getting off [their sentence] lightly).
– A portion of the gun deaths are the result of bludgeoning and other no-fire use of the weapon. Hmmm.

So why do people need ‘semi-auto’ guns?
First of all, make sure you understand what semi-automatic guns do and don’t do. a semi-auto gun is not a ‘machine gun’. you don’t press the trigger and release a shower of bullets. semi-auto simply means that after you fire a cartridge, the gas forced the firearm to eject the spent casing, and a spring (or some other mechanism) pushes a new cartridge into place. Part of the action of the gun also ‘cocks’ it for you, preparing for you to fire again (meaning after all that stuff happens, you still have to press the trigger again to shoot the next bullet). You’re limited by how fast you can pull the trigger, as well as how long it takes the gun to be ready again.
In the old-old days, people threw rocks or chunks of metal or arrows.
Awhile later, technology improved, and they were able to use gunpowder to throw the projectile for them.
a few centuries later, someone got the idea to package the gunpowder and projectile together, making the reloading of a weapon much faster and easier.
that naturally led to ‘semi-auto’ weapons, like some “six-shooters”, and later guns.
semi-auto paved the way for full-auto (which is not legal, except for some government agencies. many criminals also have and use full-auto weapons, which they somehow got ahold of, despite a BAN in the United States and Canada).

so why do people need semi-auto guns? why can’t they just revert back to short-range, inaccurate muzzle-loaders, or even better, rocks and sharpened sticks?
why do people need cars that drive more than 35 MPH?

Semi-Auto is mostly for personal defense. Almost every handgun on the market is semi-auto. Most modern rifles are ‘semi-auto’ … in fact, in the same way there is a niche market for ‘old timers’ who muzzle-load, there’s a (growing) niche market for ‘bolt-action’ rifles, and more gun owners own them for the ‘novelty’, rather than the practicality.

In an effort to make hunting ‘fair’ and ‘sportsmanlike’, most states have some very specific laws related to hunting: you’re semi-auto rifle can’t have a clip that holds more than 5 rounds (5 bullets). You have to use a caliber within a certain range of size (to ensure the prey is killed quickly and ‘humanely’). There are seasons which help protect the animals during breeding and critical times in raising their offspring. There are boundaries which cannot be crossed. there are distances that the firearm/ammunition cannot exceed.

Guns intended for ‘personal defense’ are also made to kill rather than merely wound. I was kind of creeped out when i first heard about it, but people who fire in self-defense and don’t kill their attacker can get into more trouble than people who do, and some of this has to do with the ‘humane’ angle (i still don;t completely get it, but i’m not a lawmaker, so whatever). The other reason they’re made to ‘kill’ is that a wounded attacker can (and is likely to) still attack. The ‘semi-auto’ feature of the guns allows multiple shots to be fired at the attacker in a shorter period of time than if the gun had to be manually reloaded and cocked after reach shot.

Many of the semi-automatic rifles are popular because they are ‘civilian’ versions of the weapons used in the military (including the armies of other nations) and law enforcement. [i just learned the other day, in fact, that due to the budget cuts of the early and mid-1990’s, when the recent war started, there were not enough guns to train our soldiers with, so some were issued these civilian versions during basic training]. The particular gun that is the poster child and target of this aspect of firearms is the “AR-15” and it’s knock-offs. It’s popular because it is a lightweight, incredibly accurate firearm, and has been in use now for 40 years. It’s got a kind of ‘cult following’, and is one of the main guns used in target-shooting competitions nationwide. The gun is highly customizable (meaning a policeman can have a flashlight on it, an army sniper can have a high-powered optical scope, or a ‘plinker’ can add an additional hand ‘steady’ to the barrel), and, as with all things traditional or ‘with a history or culture’+customizable+’edgy’ (Harley Davidson motorcycles, World Of Warcraft, electric guitars, skateboards, hair), there’s something of a ‘cult following’.

does that mean we should be worried? does that mean there are literally thousand ‘school-shooters’ waiting to crawl out of the shadows? absolutely not … and the reason for this is the often overlooked set of laws which govern firearm ownership. If you have a history of mental illness, if you have previously been convicted of a felony, if you are not a U.S. Citizen, if you are currently a pot-smoking hippie (seriously!) or other substance abuser, if you have been convicted of domestic abuse and have a ‘no contact order’, YOU CANNOT BUY OR OWN THESE GUNS (including handguns). when you go to purchase one, they do a background check EVERY time. You have to pay a ton of money and get certified by the government to SELL or DELIVER these guns (you have to get a federal firearms license). contrary to the spooky media stories, you can’t just buy these online … if you do order them online, they have to be delivered to a licensed federal firearms seller, who then does the background check. If you buy the gun out of state, it has to be delivered to a licensed dealer in your home state, where you pick it up.
a criminal … even a ‘tame’ pot-smoking criminal (because that is illegal, right?) cannot possess a firearm. Those that do have broken a bigger pile of laws.

how do these guns get into their hands then? many are smuggled into the country. some (and you need to be certain not to change this to ‘most’) are purchased by a person with a ‘clean’ record (usually a girlfriend or relative who is in the country legally), and then sold (this would constitute ‘black market’) or given away. This is also against the law, and the background checks do their best to address this possibility. it is not possible to accurately estimate how many firearms are smuggled into the country and how many are bought legally and sold illegally, but my personal guess is that a bigger portion are smuggled into the country, because the criminals that have and use them are usually using weapons not available to the public in the United States. Most of these criminals are in the lower part of the country (California and Florida), so my guess is they’re coming across the Mexican border or, more likely, coming in by ship or aircraft. If you want to think this is a stretch … consider this: Firearms are as desirable and lucrative for criminals as illegal drugs are. If you know someone who smokes weed or does coke, you can see how easy it is for illegal items to be smuggled into the country or illegally assembled here.

Outlawing guns simply strips the people who are obeying the plethora of laws & “jumping through all the hoops” of their rights, and it does nothing to slow down or eliminate violent criminals.

I already mentioned the jump in violent crime in SF since the gun and ammo bans … but i can see a difference even in my own little town. There are a LOT of people “packing” here, and you would expect there to be a higher percentage of violent crime here if guns were what caused crime … but it’s actually a far lower percentage! So … more legal gun owners = less crime in PoDunk Idaho/Oregon, while less gun owners = more crime in Seattle, Detroit, Washington D.C. (they’ve got a HUGE gun ban, and the WORST violent crime in the country!). So where’s the logic? How is getting rid of guns everywhere going to lower crime, if the places that currently ban guns or have a far lower percentage of legalgun owners have HIGHER crime rates? I think if someone really wants to draw a link between legal gun ownership and crime, they really ought to look at the data before coming to this backward conclusion!

yes, guns can be ‘scary’, but only when they’re in the hands of idiots and ‘bad guys’. i don’t want to kill anyone, and i hope i’m never in a situation where that could be an option … but i do NOT want my right to defend my family against an intruder with a gun compromised because some lawmaker wanted to get brownie points with a bunch of people who legally can’t own guns anyway. (like that mayor that was just arrested in the midwest … he’s a huge, huge gun-control guy!)

THE SECOND AMENDMENT

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

i read this to mean that it is necessary for a ‘free state’ to maintain a well-regulated militia AND (because of the comma and the use of the word ‘the’) that individual people (because they said ‘people’ and not ‘the state’, indicating human beings and not an organization of human beings) to keep (own) and bear (use) arms (guns, swords, and for that matter, i’d imagine it could mean bombs, missiles, biological weapons, etc), shall not be infringed (banned, restricted, made difficult to do so, etc).

The supreme court recently determined that this does in fact grant individuals the right to bear arms, and is not solely a right of a ‘well regulated militia’.

I was actually looking up ‘militia’ the other day to see what this meant, and i learned that the government actually has a militia that is not the national guard, or states national guards but is instead a shooting organization designed to allow private citizens the option of owning and learning military weapons, so that in the event of a war, there will be ordinary citizens already trained to use the standard weapons, and they will be prepared to defend our freedom were there to be a need beyond the enlisted military. The organization is currently more of a ‘youth mentor’ or ‘development’ program, kind of like 4-H or Boy Scouts … but (not sure where) i guess there is a provision for it in the constitution somewhere.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.”

is also of interest to me. particularly in view of the 9th amendment:

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”

which says, in effect, that none of these laws are to be taken and used to put one set of rights above another, or to use one set of rights to deny or disparage the rights of others.

i always took this to mean that “no law respecting the establishment of religion” could not interfere with the “free exercise thereof” …
or that ‘freedom of speech’, ‘freedom of the press’ and ‘the right to peaceably assemble’ (peaceably, eh?) was not more important than the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects” …
(ok, that addresses the state search & seizure, and i was aiming for vandal protesters who use arson, rocks throwing and other violence as their ‘free speech’ or ‘right to peaceably assemble”.

The freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the right to bear arms, and the freedom to assemble are, however, only protected from congress making a law against them … which is why Obama can demand his middle name not be used, and why he aims at state laws in banning firearm ownership, rather than pushing for a federal ban (like the illegal ban the Clinton administration put on the American people in 1994).

Really, after reading all what was said, and going through this stuff as i’m writing, i think what we really need is less regulation … less government stepping into our personal lives. if a woman wants to kill her baby, go for it. it was part my fault for being involved in fornication in the first place. if i want to own gigantic scary guns, i should be able to … as long as i’m not hurting anyone with them. I think everyone is entitled to their own rights and as long as those don’t directly infringe on the rights of others, we don’t need some stupid laws complicating everything.

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