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Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: Supreme Court Rules for Gun Rights

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The Supreme Court of the United States has finally settled one of the most contentious constitutional questions in decades. Do individual citizens have the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment or can governments disarm their people? In one of the few cases that wasn't depressing to read, the Supreme Court ruled individuals can keep weapons for self-defense by a 5-4 vote.

Justice Scalia, in writing the opinion, struck down the District of Columbia's total ban on handguns and the "trigger lock" requirement. The opinion strongly indicated that while the case at hand was the District, it would be applied to the states as well. Reasonable regulation can still exist, as well as banning firearm ownership by felons, the mentally ill and children.

The case at hand involved an armed security guard, Dick Heller, who applied (and was rejected) to have a weapon in his home for self-defense. The District had a total ban of handguns without a special permit reserved for mostly law enforcement. Additionally, the court ruled that trigger locks are unconstitutional because it greatly hinders self-defense. Attackers tend not to wait while you get your keys and then unlock your gun.

Not so surprisingly, these draconian restrictions haven't seemed to make much of a difference in the crime rate in one of the most crime-ridden cities in America. Critics say the ruling will make Americans less safe, but that's hard to envision when criminals are fully armed and citizens are unarmed. A look over to Britain shows how bad crime gets when people are prevented from defending themselves.

Scalia was clear that, on certain classes of people (i.e. felons), registration and limits  on owning guns is still sound. This makes sense. Gun control advocates have a long-standing routine of saying that citizens cannot be trusted with guns. In short, they believe policy should be based on an irrebuttable presumption of guilt. Because some imagined person out there is too dangerous to have a gun, no one can. This line of argumentation is, quite frankly, un-American.

As far as the grammatical constructs that were attempted to indicate that an individual did not have the right to bear arms, Scalia was in rare form. Most of his opinion discussed Breyer's and Stevens' dissents and the rhetorical contortions they attempted. Scalia was unyielding in his criticism, and relied heavily on briefs filed by linguists for this case. Scalia may have still been cranky from the death penalty case.

Registration, on the other hand, provides a process by which the unfit can be restricted and citizens who want to protect themselves and their families can do so. The court didn't lay down a rule to test the constitutionality of certain gun control provisions, but it is unlikely that a "wild west" scenario will develop anytime soon. The Michigan Militia types might not be happy because the Court focused on the right to keep arms for self-defense and hunting, not to form a militia to overthrow the government. Likely, restrictions on heavy arms will still stand.

The case heralds the end of the current Supreme Court term which resolved a number of  contentious cases, many in a ham-handed way. For instance, in banning the death penalty for those who brutally rape minors, the majority opinion rested more on sophistry than any real legal analysis (and this is from someone who is against the death penalty). The gun rights case will put the issue up front in the 2008 election, and throws a bone to those who believe the Constitution should be read as it is written.

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • Pablo

    John,

    And what to the words (shall not be infringed) mean to you? Also there is a clear difference between “keeping” and “bearing”. Again I ask you what these words mean to you?

    My opinion is that this case means diddlysquat regarding the true meaning of the 2nd amendmant, which has more to do with a last resort of the citizenry against tyranny, which the court conveniently did not address.

    Shall not be infringed my ass.

  • whatever

    “A look over to Britain shows how bad crime gets when people are prevented from defending themselves.” — BULLSH!T

    It has been discussed and proven here many times that the US suffers from its ridiculous gun laws, having the highest rates for murder per capita than any industrialized country.

    Of course, the NRA lobby, the gun industry and its activists here and elsewhere in US are very well organized and influential and they are the ones that uphold the status quo against common sense and reason.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, Dan, I guess John beat us both to it!

    It’s a pretty sound decision. I had my doubts when early media reports seemed to suggest that Scalia was denying out of hand that there was any link between militias and the right to bear arms, when in fact he recognizes that they were only invoked as one justification for that right. Just because there are circumstances in which the need for a militia vanishes doesn’t mean that the right to bear arms vanishes too.

    Although it will upset some of the gun nuts, I like too that the court acknowledged that the right isn’t unlimited. Mind you, that in itself opens up a whole new can of worms… does it mean I can’t own a bazooka, or just that I have to give up my private, lovingly restored, nuclear-armed B-52? (for example)

    On a personal note, while I enjoy shooting as a sport, as a Brit I’m uncomfortable with gun proliferation. Nevertheless, the 2nd Amendment has always seemed pretty unambiguous to me. The root of much of the acrimony over gun rights has its root, IMHO, in the failure of certain factions to face up to the near certainty that there is a link between gun proliferation and the ridiculously high level of gun-related crime in the US.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Well, one step forward, fifty years backward. I guess it’s the best one can hope for.

    I will never understand the minds of gun owners. The love of guns and other weaponry is about as infantile as it gets. The one and only purpose of virtually all handguns and assault type weapons is to kill other human beings. One does not hunt with a handgun or an Uzi. One prepares him or herself to kill somebody else with those types of weapons.

    Essentially, Americans hate each other, suspecting that any and everyone wants to get into their homes and do what? Steal their fucking guns! – Oh, and perhaps to rape their wives and daughters.

    The good folks at the NRA are literally creaming themselves. There’s guns blazing and wild fucking going on the corridors.

    The next hope is that we can get all of our college kids packin’ heat. (Fuck man, you gave me a “D”? I got a “D” for you right here motherfucker!)

    Well, it’s a truly great day for all of you. You can all go shoot something (or someone) in celebration. Whoop tee do!

    B-tone

    I guess I shouldn’t use such bad language. Someone might take offense and shoot me.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    LOL, B-Tone. That’s quite an image you conjured up there.

  • Clavos

    I take it you aren’t a gun enthusiast, B-tone?

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Well, no. I was hoping ya’ll wouldn’t notice. I don’t like being too obvious. I have long prided myself in my subtlety, my deft use of nuance, goddammit!

    B-tone

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It’s a remarkably clear and coherent decision – for once – and may actually be definitive enough to end the travesty of gun grabbing by local jurisdictions once and for all. A real victory for liberty.

    Dave

  • Mooja

    This decision restores some of my belief that the U.S. Justice system has not become completely bastardized. I’m frankly amazed that 5 of 9 Justices actually took the Constitution at its word without being sidetracked by modern political correctness or global opinion.

    How anyone in good conscience can be against an individuals right to protect oneself and ones family is beyond my comprehension. Disarming honest, law-abiding citizens is not the answer to curbing gun related crimes.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Baritone, by that same logic you can also say that people who take up archery as a hobby are also doing nothing but practicing to kill.

  • Ruvy

    Baritone,

    Funny how different cultures make the same instrument so different in perception. In Israel, two Jews, both armed with pistols, can scream at each other, yell at each other and even get into a serious fistfight drawing blood and all – and neither will think to draw a weapon and kill the other. I could never say the same thing in the States where even passing somebody on the road is enough to cause a weapon to be drawn and fired at the “offending” person – with murder in mind.

    When using the following sentence “I will never understand the minds of gun owners. The love of guns and other weaponry is about as infantile as it gets.” one needs to use the adjective “American” in front of “gun owner”. When I see my fellow Jews carrying a weapon, particularly if they are out of uniform, I feel safe, not threatened. Here, we civilians understand what weapons are for. I can’t say the same for the government and its goons.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Doc,

    I agree that the decision was a good one and that the majority opinion explaining it was as well. However, you say,

    The root of much of the acrimony over gun rights has its root, IMHO, in the failure of certain factions to face up to the near certainty that there is a link between gun proliferation and the ridiculously high level of gun-related crime in the US.

    There may be some validity to your point, but I don’t think that many people who own guns legally are the ones using them to commit crimes. The Court’s decision does not impinge upon the right of states reasonably to require registration of firearms, or to deny them to convicted felons, people of diminished mental capacity, or others who clearly should not have them. Nor does it even suggest that use of a gun during the commission of a criminal offense can’t be treated as an aggravating factor. The Court does emphasize that the right of self-defense is very important, and that use of a gun for that purpose is legitimate.

    I should perhaps add that I do not own a firearm, never have, and don’t want one. Back when we were sailing around the Caribbean, some people carried firearms, and IMHO were foolish. Leaving aside the necessity to report them at the port of entry, often to hand them over to the officials there, and to return (inconveniently) to the same port of entry to retrieve them before leaving, they were dangerous. I have heard many stories of unarmed “pirates” taking over a vessel, and then using the owner’s gun on the owner and crew.

    Dan

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Even Candidate Obama likes the Court’s gun ban decision, and thinks the Court went overboard in its child rape decision.

    In the latest in a series of policy reversals for the Democratic presidential candidate, Obama came out in support of yesterday’s supreme court decision overturning a gun ban in the city of Washington that had been a model for fighting urban crime.

    He had previously supported the Washington ban, the strictest in the US.

    It was the second time in 24 hours that Obama had shifted towards a more conservative position. On Wednesday, he took issue with the supreme court for striking down the death penalty for cases of child rape that do not involve murder.

    It’s wonderful to see him flip-flop. Perhaps someone can compose appropriate music for his acrobatic performances.

    Dan

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I agree that legitimate gun owners, for the most part, handle their weapons in a responsible and law-abiding way. But the very fact that guns are a (fairly) readily obtainable and widely manufactured commodity in the US makes it that much easier for those with evil intent to acquire and use them.

    Your pirate story illustrates very well how easily guns can get into the wrong hands and how quickly a means of self-defense can be turned against you.

    The means by which most criminals get their weapons are of course usually a bit more subtle than that, but what galls me is the absolute refusal of some in the firearms lobby to recognize that there is any sort of connection between gun availability and gun crime.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I think Obama’s comments on gun laws were reasonable. I wish he had remained more steadfast in his opposition to the death penalty, though. It doesn’t really give the electorate much of a choice if both candidates are going to just jump on every bloody bandwagon that trundles by.

    That said, I disagree with the Guardian writer’s assessment that: “the hard line was seen at variance with comments in his memoir that the death penalty was not a deterrent to crime”. Obama is right about that, and furthermore he made no reference to any deterrent value in his statement: he was speaking purely about the appropriateness of the punishment.

  • Clavos

    “But the very fact that guns are a (fairly) readily obtainable and widely manufactured commodity in the US makes it that much easier for those with evil intent to acquire and use them.”

    True, but ease really has very little to do with people acquiring them; I believe it’s the general openness and freedom of this culture that makes acquisition of just about any restricted item short of enriched nuclear materials child’s play. Even nuclear materials are increasingly being found in the wrong hands these days.

    In short, no matter the item, if you want it, and know where to look, you can get it in the USA.

    Outright prohibition of guns will take them out of the hands of the “law abiding” owners (most of ‘em, anyway); it will do little to keep them out of the hands of those bent on far more heinous crimes than possession of a gun.

    I’ve said it before on these threads, but it bears repeating: One has only to consider the failure of Prohibition and the ubiquity of illegal drugs in contemporary society to predict the certain outcome of an outright ban on guns.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Re: Comment#10,

    Well, it is hard to tuck a longbow into your pants when you are taking down the local 7-11….

    As archaic weapons go, bows can be plenty dangerous in the right hands but not too many average people can shoot a bow, even fewer with any accuracy. It takes years of work to get good and to shoot accurately and swiftly.

    As has been pointed out, guns are the great equalizer and you can train someone on them very quick.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    True dat, Clav. I don’t dispute it. My concern is with the sheer ludicrous level of gun-related crime – particularly homicide – in the US. It depresses me that the latest shooting on the local news here is usually reported in an ‘eh – whatever’ sort of way.

    I don’t pretend to grasp all the dynamics of why the air in certain precincts of American cities contains more flying lead than a radiologists’ strip poker game, or what the solution is. Prohibition would, I agree, be a disaster, as has been proved multiple times in the past with other commodities. Acknowledging that guns do cause high levels of gun crime would, IMHO, not be a disaster.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Deano, I frankly can’t recall where my ex-father-in-law got hold of the bow, why he thought it would be a neat idea to let people try it out in his backyard, or whether he’d considered the potential consequences of accidentally skewering a few of his neighbors.

    I merely use the anecdote to show that I can testify from first-hand experience that shooting a longbow without any training is both dangerous to anyone within a 200-yard radius and extremely painful to the shooter!

    Eh, I wasn’t using the skin on my inner arm anyway…

  • Clavos

    This is priceless:

    “the air…contains more flying lead than a radiologists’ strip poker game…”

    Props for that one, Doc!

    “Acknowledging that guns do cause high levels of gun crime would, IMHO, not be a disaster.”

    Agreed. And to that end, I think making the punishment for commission of a crime with the use of a gun truly draconian is a good place to start. A number of jurisdictions have already set greater punishments for crime with a gun, but I have yet to see life without possibility of parole for holding up a convenience store with a gun.

    It might take a while to sink in, but eventually, even the moron criminals will get the message and take up longbows.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Long bows, like any other weapon, can do hella-damage to people who don’t know how to use them.

    We had a kid at a range I used to practice at who didn’t check his arrows prior to shooting (this was in the good old days of wooden arrows, now everything is high-tech materials). One of them must have been cracked becasue it shattered when it left the bow. It drove the back half of the arrow into his bow hand and half-way up one extended finger. Much plastic surgery was the result.

    And this wasn’t even a proper bow, just one of those light-weight thirty pound bows that the youngsters use. If he had done that with a full compound bow or a proper long bow, he’d probably have ripped a major part of his hand off….

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I must agree, bow and arrow deaths are way down. The only archer I know of who could stand in against an automatic weapon might be Legolas of LOTR fame. But, alas, he has hung up his quiver and gone to residing at Valinor after a brief stop at the Grey Havens 7/11 to get some Pabst and pork rinds for the trip.

    One thing pointed out in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine was that Canada has about the same ratio of guns to people – something like 457 guns for every humble Canadian, more or less ;-) – as here in the good ole US of A.
    But Canadians rarely shoot each other. And as Ruvy states, few Jews ever consider shooting each other even though many are armed to the teeth.

    So, it’s an American thing. As I stated above, generally we neither trust nor like each other very much. The supposed American melting pot hasn’t very successfully gone into solution. Our gun totin’, wild west, pioneer spirit lives on in our penchant for blowing each other’s nuts off. It has become for many the measure of a man (and sometimes, a woman) in just what kind and how many guns one has and one’s skill and willingness to use them. To some, a man with no guns may as well have no dick. One must have either a gun or a dick to even shoot blanks.

    B-tone

  • STM

    Longbow deaths ARE way down. They have been since Robin Hood shot a nice big dart into the Sheriff of Nottingham’s substantial blurter.

    I do love the bow and arrow though. I CAN hit an apple at 50 yards – eventually :)

    My grandparents’ village near the Scotland/England border had an archery stone on the village green – used for sharpening arrows.

    And Americans think their history goes back aways.

    I have actually contemplated taking my bow on trips to America for protection, but you just get tired of carrying the bastard things around, especially in the pub where it’s a particular nuisance.

    In reality a boomerang is better (or even a woomera), as Paul Hogan illustrated. Plus, they’re green weapons.

    You can use ‘em over and over again, once you pulled ‘em out of someone’s head.

  • Deano

    The low number of longbow deaths is entirely due to the new Longbow Bowstring lock, which prevent full draw and accidental discharge of your longbow…:)

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    The rather sad thing is that so many people feel it necessary to be armed at all. There are certainly places in this country where it would not be wise to wander without packing some heat, I suppose.

    But I have lived over 60 years in various places in the U.S. and have never carried nor owned a weapon. With very few exceptions I have never felt particularly threatened personally, nor had any great concern for my property. I have been victimized a few times from theft and vandalism, but who hasn’t?

    It seems to me that a great number, perhaps the majority of people who keep and bear firearms do so without any real need. That is, they have never really been threatened, nor do they live in a particularly dangerous environment. Rather, they manufacture some kind of fictitious “threat” to their well being and/or their property to justify in their own minds the accumulation of weaponry to have at hand for the coming conflagration.

    I would, if I felt it necessary, defend my hearth and home by whatever means, including guns if I truly felt the need. I’m betting, though, unless society really falls apart, that need will never arise.

    B-tone

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Sorry for my poorly constructed last sentence above.

    B-Tone

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Or actually, my poorly worded second to last sentence.

    B-tone

  • Cindy D

    Dear B-Tone,

    Here is something I hope will cheer you up. Don’t stop watching until you give it 55 secs, that’s when it gets good. Where The Hell Is Matt?

    Guaranteed to make you feel better!

  • Cindy D

    Oh, you have to make sure you have your sound turned on. It won’t work if you don’t.

    Whenever I find myself deciding I don’t like people very much, I just watch that little video.

  • troll

    excellent

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Cindy,

    It did. Actually, I nearly cried.

    B-tone

  • Dougray

    From an outsider’s (Australian) perspective, I can see the enormous difficulty in addressing the issue of gun ownership and use in the US.

    Because the guns are already out there in huge numbers, to not own one as a matter of choice results in a higher risk than it would in Australia which has strict gun control. A vicious circle to say the least.

    The argument that a weaponless citizen is at risk from criminals who DO have guns pales as an excuse when the numbers are compared. The numbers say MANY less people die, innocent and otherwise. MANY less men commit suicide. etc etc.

    I grew up with guns on the family farm here. As a utility and hunting weapon, a gun is a fine tool. But I question the tool design intent of handguns and assault weapons.

    It makes me wonder what the authors of the constitution would think if they could see what a rule designed to protect liberty has done for public safety.

    Any suggestion that they would approve would seem to me a very long bow to draw.

  • Cannonshop

    “Those that sacrifice essential liberties for temporary safety deserve, and shall have, neither”.
    -Ben Franklin.

    Dougray, There is a fundamental difference between, say, the Australian character, and the Yank. The Yank is nastier, meaner, and crueler-and not in a “Just kidding with ya” way.

    When was the last time a major Australian city was burned by its own residents (Watts, 1967, L.A. various times including the nineties), when was the last time that Australian constables were INVOLVED IN THE LOOTING and abandoned their posts, after a natural disaster (New Orleans, 2005)?

    How many MP’s (Ministers of Parlaiment) in Australia get caught EN MASSE committing cheque fraud, breaking the Laws they themselves pass, or using the courts to override a plebiscite that limits the scope of their powers? (Events run from the House Banking Scandal, McCain Feingold bill, and Tom Foley’s use of Federal courts to overturn a term-limits law passed by more than 60% of his home state.)

    How many times have the Dead voted in your home-state, ’cause if you live in Washington State, Illinois, or Michigan, they vote often, and long after being put in the ground. (Notably one result of this is that I am assured that I can vote Republican now, because I’ll have all of eternity to Vote Democrat after I die.)

    Trust and respect for the law make society safer, not more laws. New York and Washington D.C. are two of the most dangerous towns in the U.S. to live-and Chicago’s not a great spot either, not to mention Detroit.
    This goes even further considering high-court decisions absolving the public safety community as a whole from the responsibility to protect the lives of citizens. The Police are only obligated, here in the States, to protect “Society”-that means that if you have a court-order prohibiting someone from approaching you, and he does so repeatedly, the police don’t have to expend effort to protect you-they only have to draw the chalk line around your dead body and investigate your murder.

    Protecting YOU is up to…YOU. I don’t know if that’s the same in the Commonwealth nations, but it is here. a Gun, not a cell-phone, is the only equalizer for a small person against a sociopath who’s spent the last fifteen years lifting weights and working out in prison. The police are, for all intents and purposes, of no use whatsoever. I live within two blocks of an elementary school and a High School. In my mail, thanks to Megan’s Law, I recieve between five, and fifteen notifications of violent sex-offenders released from prison who’ve been moved into my area, including some rather scary types (Sexual torture of a three year old is the worst so far…my stack of these notices is approaching 200 pages).

    there are far too many of these guys out-and that doesn’t include the majority of criminals both in and out of jail in the area, including strong-arm robbers, home-invaders, arsonists…

    and this is a ‘Safe’ neighbourhood-the Gangs try to keep a lower profile than they do in places like Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane-none of which are as bad as Detroit, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, or D.C. Guns are a thing that’s better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have-I’ve repelled criminals in my own home without needing to fire a shot-simply the sight of the weapon was enough. They chose another target somewhere else-they’re the Problem of the Police. If I were unable to do that (as I would be pre-Heller in D.C.), they would be MY problem,one that I would, by the law, lack the ability to solve or cope with.

    Finally- Gun Control in the U.S. has a different origin than it does in your country. The first American Gun-Control laws were aimed directly at preventing blacks from carrying arms as other citizens could post-Reconstruction. Note that the most stringent gun-controls (and worst crime rates) occur in cities with large minority populations, and that Gun Control has been traditionally a Democrat plank since LONG before Desegregation. Essentially, it’s racial, the objective in American Gun Control (based on outcome) being to disarm citizens of colour and keep them dependent and afraid. States with few Laws regarding firearms have lower per-capita crime rates (including violent crime and murder rates) compared to states with stringent controls (such as California, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland…)

    it’s a uniquely “American” situation. There is no Parallel in Britain, Australia, or Europe (well, Western Europe, at least.)

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    My guess is that Cannon… is not a Chamber of Commerce kind of guy.

    He (I presume, he) is correct and supportive of my contention about how we Americans don’t trust or care much for each other as a rule.

    I just wonder how many people live day to day feeling as if they are constantly under siege? Probably more than I’d like to think. I also wonder how many people believe they are living such a life when they actually are not?

    B-tone

  • Cannonshop

    Um, sad to say, Baritone (since we almost NEVER agree on anything!) I’m NOT a “Chamber of Commerce” kind of guy. The views I hold are the product of observation and study, rather than wishful thinking. Like I said, I’ve got about 200 or so notices sent to my home (with no repeats, mind) informing me of violent predators that have been moved, often at state expense, into my neighbourhood. We’re talking Level III sex offenders here, likely to reoffend and psychologically unstable, often violent offenders, not the guy who got busted because she was fifteen , looked twenty, and had a fake ID. Criminals go to prison, and while they’re there, they share “recipes” on how to be better criminals, participate in body-building, form business and social contacts, and walk out more dangerous than they were going in-this is a fact. it is also a fact that the police are not obligated to protect you, the individual, from criminals, and that Political Leadership regardless of party affiliation has no respect for the laws it writes or the laws it is supposed to enforce, and that Electoral Fraud is commonplace. We have a Governor in this state who was elected by fraud, and permitted to remain in office because the agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting such fraud refused to do so, while the courts simply tossed the complaint out summarily…with most of the evidence PUBLIC RECORD.
    In the state of Washington, BY LAW Felons are not eligible to vote. Felons vote here anyway, and since 2006, it is easier to commit voter fraud in Washington if you are on the Elections board than it has ever been-there are no polls, all votes are mailed in, there’s no requirement to show identification or prove you even exist, much less have the right to vote.

    Add in that parents are discouraged from disciplining their children, and Schools idea is to dope those kids up real good on prescription meds so they’re not disruptive, that Cities have been judicially encouraged to take the homes of residents and give them to wealthy donors (thanks to Kelo, your home can be stolen and passed along at a profit to a private entity.) People here are constantly told not to interfere when they see something bad happening “Just leave it to the (agency)” is taught to kids from grade school on (and “(agency)” has a record of failure, not success…)

    yeah, people don’t (and likely shouldn’t) trust one another. Certainly I know that nobody around ME is going to lift a finger if I’m in trouble (I’ve been THERE, too). it becomes incumbent on myself to protect my family and my property, because the government may style itself a protector, but it’s the biggest bunch of predators out there.

  • Cannonshop

    and just one more thing:

    Because I am armed, I have no fear picking up a hitchhiker late at night on the freeway. I do not fear stopping to render assistance when someone else is in trouble-however, I am not fool enough to think anyone else out there is going to do the same for me. They’re afraid, and they have EVERY RIGHT TO BE.

  • Cindy D

    Criminals go to prison, and while they’re there, they share “recipes” on how to be better criminals, participate in body-building, form business and social contacts, and walk out more dangerous than they were going in-this is a fact.

    Even prison guards become less human. So, my question is why?

  • Cindy D

    Oh, my other question is why aren’t we doing anything different. Are we insane? You know that definition of insanity that goes, if you keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results.

  • Cindy D

    Wait, I’ll answer myself. We are more interested in retribution than change.

  • Cindy D

    And, yes, basically, we are insane.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Cannon’s life is unfortunate. I live in the same country. I live and work in an urban environment. I lived and worked in NYC in 1969 and 1970 when it was, in fact, a crime ridden city. Actually, it is not so bad now as then. Yet, my only experience with crime was the theft of some cash I had saved by an apartment mate, and the theft of my small Honda after being hit by a cab at an intersection in the West Village. I drove a cab for a year there.

    We send thousands of people to prison every year. Thousands are released every year. They all have to live somewhere. The mind set toward violence in this country forces us into this vicious cycle. As we continue to sink into the abyss, more and more of us will take on the same mind set and make our homes armed camps. Does anyone feel that this scenario sucks?

    I own no guns, no weaponry of any kind. I do not live in a world of wishful thinking.

    B-tone

  • Cannonshop

    In my opinion, Cindy, and Baritone, the root of the problem isn’t the object, it’s a pop/governmental culture that tells people they have no obligations, only Entitlements. the trade for such a culture, is that freedom is sacrificed for temporary, or even merely cosmetic, “Safety”.

    Because freedom entails risk. You’re very fortunate, Baritone, to live where you do, and how you do, and never encounter the down-side. I’ll put this question for you to chew on-a scenario, if you will…

    you’re driving (I assume you drive) down the highway, late at night, you see a pair of tail-lights in the ditch, and someone standing by the side of the road.

    What do you do?

    Do you:

    A) keep going, activate your cell phone, and call the cops?

    B) Stop, and see if you can help, and if you have a cell, call the cops?

    C) It’s not your affair, keep going, someone else will take care of it.

    D) Slow down, get a good, juicy, look, then drive on.

    If you answer “A” you’re above average, but you’re also avoiding getting involved.

    “B” means you’re probably going to end up testifying later, you’ll have to give a statement to the officer, you may even get hurt yourself if it’s not real accident. Most people don’t “Do” B.

    C we see almost daily, along with D.

    that one’s pretty clear-cut, right?

    Okay, how about a dark parking lot, at night, and a stranger approaches you asking for help starting his car.

    Very few people carry jumper cables, or admit to it, once they get over a certain income level. When you get caught out late it’s probably NOT the guy in a Lexus that’s going to give you a jump-even though he’s got all these stickers about civility in politics and “Noble” causes. He’ll save the Earth, he’ll aid poor folks in other countries, but he won’t lift a finger for someone right in front of him.

    I’ve SEEN this, usually while walking up to lend a hand. this is the kind of social hypocrisy I’ve been talking about-Lexus-boy will run away , and pat himself on the back for his “Compassion” and “Sense”, for his “involvement”-because he belongs to some activist group or another, contributes to the right causes, and rails about being “Green” or “The plight of the Poor”, or “Change”.

    (wow this has drifted off-topic…)

    Back on topic: The Heller decision doesn’t mean you should run out and buy a gun. It doesn’t mean we all need RPG’s and antitank cannons in the back room.

    It means that, instead of forcing everyone to take the same chance you do regardless of their actual risk-conditions, (the same life-choice, in other words, to be un-armed and rely on the kindness of strangers for your security) that there is a fundamental right to accept the moral Obligations that come with the ability of self-defense-and the consequences of that acceptance.

    It means you can go ahead, and drive on by, and the guy who stops to help, isn’t going to automatically go to jail for being there.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Cannon,

    You know, these scenarios can be and probably are played out about anywhere, not just here in the good ole mean assed US of A.

    When you say one can choose “to be un-armed and rely on the kindness of strangers for your security”

    That’s just the mind set I’m talking about. As if being “unarmed” is automatically putting oneself at risk. Your’s is a siege mentality. I don’t share that belief. Nor do most people. Even many of those who own guns don’t believe that they are at risk if unarmed.

    Woops gotta go. I’ll try to continue this later.

    B-tone

  • Cannonshop

    Baritone,

    First, hope to see you back again soon.

    Second…

    Yes, it’s a bit of a siege mentality when viewed from a certain perspective. From MY perspective, it’s simply allowing for the workings of the State as I have seen them and the public record has shown, and the nature of people as raised in an environment of Moral Relativism practiced without the benefit of serious study under a two-party regime where both parties practice “Situational Ethics” in the loosest and most selfish (but unenlightened)manner.

    In terms of Observation- I brought the jumper-cables and the battery for the guy-after six other people hurried away pretending not to notice he was talking to them, I’ve also testified in an auto-accident after being the first responder-the driver lost a leg, but she didn’t bleed to death-her husband didn’t know anything about first aid. I met a person coming in my window-with a shotgun. I didn’t have to shoot, he let himself back out and ran away before I could find a phone (talked to the cops then, too-they arrived about half an hour later).

    I’ve also timed the cops coming to a domestic in public, outside the apartment across the way-they got there only AFTER we (me, and a slightly loony friend of mine) broke up the fight and had the two separated-half an hour after. The good part is that I still know how to evaluate a casualty and apply a dressing. The bad part being that I had to describe the process to someone else because the only thing keeping the boyfriend from charging was a handgun and two bullets in the dirt at his feet. (Oddly enough, the Cops weren’t responding to the 911 call, they were coming in response to a shots-fired. apparently a big bastard beating a woman with a bat isn’t as high a priority) She is, I understand, still alive, and BF is back in prison for violating his parole.

    This shit isn’t “heroic”, it’s “Keeping your eyes open and doing something.” It’s also proof I need to get out of the city before it kills me-ten years is too damn long.

    What the Heller decision represents to ME, is the High Court allowing that the OPTION of intervening, or self-defense, is a Right, not a requirement (practicality says it’s a requirement, at least, in my experience). When the bully outweighs you by fifty or more pounds, and it’s muscle, unless you’re bruce lee, you’re not going to win-without an equalizer. Cripple or hurt them, and (per our Litigious society) they’ll own you by Lawsuit with state-provided lawyers. Ergo, non-lethals are out thanks to pain-and-suffering awards. An eighty-five pound girl is the lethal equal of a three hundered pound boxer/weightlifter if she’s armed and has the will to resist. Unarmed, in the charming vernacular of the misguided youths, she’s “food”.
    This equality is what deters the violent opportunists-the threat of something they KNOW will kill them works far more efficiently than the threat that they “MIGHT” be caught eventually, maybe, and that a generation later they MIGHT be executed if it’s not overturned.

    The Court made the right call in general terms here-that is, it provides a statement asserting the right of the weak to stand up to the strong, with the ability to back up their refusal to be abused. The right to bear arms for the protection of oneself, one’s home, and one’s family. The police can not, and in general do not, provide that protection effectively, it’s up to the individual to decide when, whether, and how much protection they need, and how to go about it, as well as what responsibilities and obligations their decision imposes on them. (Shoot the wrong guy, or toy with him, or go aggressor, you deserve to go to prison, or even face execution. It’s about STOPPING and DETERRING the criminal, not about recreating the Hollywood version of the Wild West.)

  • STM

    Cannon,

    Dougray’s right about how we don’t really care about guns and that we’ve seen them as tools more than anything. But you reckon we can’t be nasty down this neck of the woods? Puh-leeze. You haven’t been here, obviously, and if that’s what you think, you don’t know much about our history.

    On a serious note though, it’s a culture thing.

    A lot of us grew up around guns, but we don’t really care about them. I wouldn’t have a gun in the house, but I’ve used them on the farm and in the bush.

    Back in the old days (in the 70s) one of my mates who was a cadet says the boys used to take Bren guns (light machine guns) to the rifle range … on the bus. No one would have batted an eyelid back then.

    But you don’t need guns to be nasty. A good smack in the mouth works wonders, and might be a bit more humane, although you can’t do that either these days without getting into strife.

    We have a history page in the newspaper here, and there was a little story not long ago about a giant punch-up in Brisbane during WWII between US and Australian servicemen known as “The Battle of Brisbane”.

    It was sparked by a GI who shot dead an Aussie who was trying to get into a bar – it was an accident in that the GI was worried that he would be overpowered by a larger group, who were trying to wrestle the weapon off him. A bit like that shooting in Boston 200 years ago that sparked a bit of nastiness between you and the Poms.

    The little piece we had on it said: “Three Australians were shot, one suffering fatal wounds, and dozens of Americans were hospitalised in the ensuing brawl, mostly with facial injuries.”

    It’s been a cause for shame in this country that it even happened, but I reckon the lack of gunshot wounds suffered by any American serviceman is a telling factor, considering the Australian soldiers had access to firearms and knew how to use them, and the story didn’t go without some comment being passed along those lines.

    If you absolutely have to have any kind of nastiness, it’s probably a lot better to be spitting teeth or nursing a black eye than to be turned into a sieve.

    All these things are relative of course. It’d be nicer if we could all just say G’day to each other and leave it at that.

  • STM

    Cannon,

    Dougray’s right about how we don’t really care about guns and that we’ve seen them as tools more than anything. But you reckon things don’t get nasty down this neck of the woods? Puh-leeze. You haven’t been here, obviously, and if that’s what you think, you don’t know much about our history.

    On a serious note though, it’s absolutely a culture thing. We have no real gun culture within the community generally.

    A lot of us grew up around guns, but we don’t really care about them. There’s no way I’d have a gun in the house, but I’ve used them on the farm and in the bush and on the range – and I can shoot as well as the next bloke. Most of the targets here are dangerous AND moving – and at a fair clip.

    Back in the old days (in the 70s) one of my mates who was a cadet says the boys used to take Bren guns (light machine guns) to the rifle range … on the bus. No one would have batted an eyelid back then, but for the reason that’s it’s not something most of us would even think about.

    Guns were for shooting kangaroos, dingos or feral pigs. Perhaps crocs and sharks too, way back, or for using at the rifle range.

    You don’t need guns to be nasty. A good smack in the mouth works wonders, and might be a bit more humane, although you can’t do that either these days without getting into strife.

    We have a history page in the newspaper here, and there was a little story not long ago about a giant punch-up in Brisbane during WWII between US and Australian servicemen known as “The Battle of Brisbane”.

    It was sparked by a GI who shot dead an Aussie who was trying to get into a bar – it was an accident in that the GI was worried that he would be overpowered by a larger group, who were trying to wrestle the weapon off him. A bit like that shooting in Boston 200 years ago that sparked a bit of nastiness between you and the Poms.

    The little piece we had on it said: “Three Australians were shot, one suffering fatal wounds, and hundreds of Americans were hospitalised in the ensuing brawl, mostly with facial injuries.”

    Perhaps there was a bit of lopsided editing there, but it’s been a cause for shame in this country that it even happened, yet I reckon the lack of gunshot wounds suffered by any American serviceman is a telling factor, considering the Australian soldiers had access to firearms and knew how to use them, and the story didn’t go without some comment being passed along those lines.

    If you absolutely have to have any kind of nastiness, it’s probably a lot better to be spitting teeth or nursing a black eye than to be turned into a sieve.

    All these things are relative of course. It’d be nicer if we could all just say G’day to each other and leave it at that.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Cindy and others,

    I’ll try to get back to the current thread here, but I just wanted to take a quick moment to share this:

    Thanks to Cindy, I’ve had a great time watching and rewatching the link she noted above. I found that the lyrics of the wonderful song entitled “Praan” by Gary Schyman are from a poem which translates thus:

    The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

    A poem by one Rabindranath Tagore titled: The Stream of Life.

    TLS

  • Dougray

    Cannon,

    Let’s not forget that Australia was primarily designated as a penal colony. We had more nastiness than you could poke a stick at and, as such, local constabularies were fearsome.

    Our history wasn’t founded in revolution nor in wild free frontiers but in British administration.

    While we as a nation cannot bask in the glory of a people’s revolution that won our freedom, we are not soaked in blood either.

    For those reasons, I would never condescend to tell an American how s/he should do things in their own country.

    My comments were made in the light of the relative similarities between the contemporary nations of USA and Australia.

    In my opinion, we as a nation have learned a lot of good things from the US – as in the current debate for an Australian “bill of rights”.

    It would be remiss of me as a citizen of a an allied nation to not at least present what I consider to be an example of equitable gun ownership.

    As for the defense that the public must be armed in case of tyranny, one could look at Afghanistan where masses of people own assault weapons. Basically if an organized armed force such as the US Army wanted to crush public dissent in the US, they would do so efficiently and with little thought for the untrained Joe Shmo and his Glock.

    I agree entirely that a Government should fear its people and not the other way round but as a tool of freedom, the gun is nothing if not backed up guided weapons systems, air support, naval forces, and structured intelligence forces.

    The government doesn’t fear your guns (Waco anyone?) – your neighbors might but not the government.

    As I said in my first remark, I’m all to aware of the difficulties of gun control in an already armed nation, but if the people want their governments to tremble, guns are not the way.

    Having spouted all that, if I were living in a crime ridden part of the USA, I too would likely own a gun as it would be more likely that a potential assailant possessed one. As such I am not suggesting massive wholesale disarmament but merely the continuation of the debate.

  • Surfer

    Dougray,

    One of the reasons we don’t have a bill of rights and will likely not have one in the foreseeable future – and that is the current thinking at the moment, I suspect because of the legal ramifications – is that the framers of our constitution held that all those rights already existed under the English common law we inherited from Britain … which is where pretty much where everything set down in the constitution of the US came from anyway.

    The Americans didn’t pluck that stuff out of thin air. It’s why our systems of law are all virtually identical. It’s why such things as the right to trial by jury ARE in our constitution.

    It’s worked for us since the federation of the states and before.

    The High Court has found that those rights, especially to free speech, are implied in the constitution of Australia.

    Unlike in the US, however, they are tempered by greater rights favouring those deemed to have been “spoken against”, if you like, in such things as defamation and libel laws.

    These laws also exist in the US and render the 1st amendment not absolute.

    However, Truth is is still a complete defence to defamation in Australia.

    The truth is, we are not rights driven here. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wake up every day worrying about them.

    Like most of us, I have always taken them to exist under a system of rule of law that in effect goes back 1000 years and has been constantly evolving since that time.

    Perhaps that makes it even better than the constitution of the US, with Americans constantly wrangling over finnicky interpretations of what an amendment might REALLY mean and becoming mired in arguments over their meanings.

    In the end, over there in the US, the courts decide anyway – just like here. I also feel they have a more activist judiciary than we do in their interpretions of law, which is my view is not the role of the judiciary.

  • Surfer

    And Governments in Australia DO fear the people, Dougray, not the other way around … just for Cannon’s edification.

    But it has nothing to do with the number of guns the citizenry have.

    They fear what we are going to do to them at the ballot box.

    Surely that is as good an indication as you’ll get that a society is truly democratic, mature and dedicated to rule of law.

    Seriously, mate, do you have any fear that Australian soldiers will ever turn on their own people??

    I certainly don’t (I wouldn’t even give it a second thought), and I know my feeling is right. There’s as much chance of that happening as there is democracy suddenly sprouting in the middle east. I guess other people would have to understand us as a people to know why that wouldn’t happen. Australia is a country with the healthiest disrespect for authority of anywhere I’ve ever been.

    I also know that the court of public opinion would never allow a government in this country to get away with too much for too long.

    Look what happened in Queensland in the 70s. Eventually, people up there saw Joh Bjelke-Petersen for what he was … an old right-wing redneck, a charlatan, and the head of a government tainted by corruption Iin the mold of the Alabama and Missisipi of the 1960s and early 70s).

    Try having a police officer not read you your rights in Queensland today and see what happens.

  • Dougray

    Surfer,

    The point made about the government turning on it’s people was only for illustration. No, of course I don’t think that the government will turn on it’s people, here or in the US.

    Nor was I calling for a bill of rights in Australia, merely stating that there exists a debate in Australia about it.

    The debate in the US partly surrounds the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms – partly, as a way to resist tyranny. And, in my opinion, guns are ineffective in modern times as a way to resist governmental oppression.

    Do governments fear their people? Well, they do fear what the electorate might do to them at the ballot box but in essentially two-party systems like Australia, England, and the USA, the lack of an effective opposition can be a real problem.

    For instance, when Kim Beazley was “leading” the ALP, the whole party was a shambles. This meant that Prime Minister Howard was returned with a senate majority and set about doing things to the Australian Labor laws that even the liberal party now say “went too far”.

    Now, I don’t want to spark a debate about the justness of Senate majorities, simply to say a government will fear it’s people only if the people have a real and credible political choice.

    By now, our polite American friends in the room are wondering why the Aussies are talking domestic politics in a room about gun rights.

    By the way, I agree about old Joh. He would have been great as one of those vicious colonial administrators in British Africa!

    Mister Bush will have his own legacy and I won’t speak for him but I have a feeling history will do a lot of tut-tut-ing about our little Johnny.

  • STM

    Our polite cousins from the other side of the Pacific don’t mind us talking domestic politics. Well said on your points … and therein lies my point Dougray.

    Australia’s labour laws were among the fairest in the world before Howard started dismantling them to give us an American-style system.

    While Americans bang on about rights, we took many of our legislated rights for granted – you know, such things as the right not to be arbitrarily sacked, the right to strike without being sacked, a decent living wage, the right to be compensated through penalty rates for night and weekend work, the right to a decent annual leave package set at a minimum four weeks on top of public holidays, etc.

    Howard’s dismantling of that stuff is a classic example of why governments shouild fear the people.

    Because look what happened to Howard. We turned on him at the ballot box, so that Howard becomes only the second sitting Prime Minister to lose his seat in Parliament (and that’s how he’ll be remembered, and as a divisive figure) and if the ALP plays its cards right, the Libs won’t get back in for a decade. As you say, even people within the Liberal Party knew they had gone too far.

    Next time, before they try a stunt like that, they’ll be cognisant of the wrath of the people turning round and biting them on the bum.

    One thing you absolutely can’t do in Australia is tinker with the kind of rights that relate to a person’s economic wellbeing.

    Tell us we can’t villify people, fine, that seems reasonable as the villified have rights too … but don’t play pea-and-thimble tricks that rob of us of our workplace rights and give us the great standard of living and the big disposalable incomes that make life in Australia such a good thing.

    I’m all for governments having senate minorities provided the opposition doesn’t block the legislation of the democratically elected house of representatives for no other reason than they can.

    It’s different in Oz anyway … the minor parties and independents have more of a role to play, although losing the democrats is going to be problem for the Prime Minister as he’ll finmd the Greens far more radical and less open to compromise.

  • Cannonshop

    Two words for you Aussies to remember- CREDIBLE OPPOSITION.

    The U.S. has not had a viable third-party (much less fourth, or fifth, or tenth…) for a VERY long time. One of the outcomes of this, is that the two dominant parties have a raft of constituencies that are, for all intents and purposes, going to vote their way regardless of how they treat them, or how well and truly they ignore those constituencies. Further, I suspect your Elections Officials actually take their oaths of office seriously, and I rather suspect fewer Dead People vote in your elections at ANY level-along with fewer Illegal Immigrants, cats, dogs, zoo animals, and fictional characters.

    Here in just Washington State, there are thousands of registered votes whose home address of record is the Voter Registration Office in Seattle. the “Swing” district that put our current Governor in office contains housing for roughly half the number of people whose re-counted votes put her over her opponent in 2004…the first, incidentally, close race for that office since the nineteen eighties when an “Open Primary” was instituted (allows people to vote for the other guy’s choice of candidate. Notably, it was also the first time someone who wasn’t terrifying to anyone with an ounce of sense managed to get nominated by the Republican Party in this state, which can be traced straight back to a Federal Court decision that Party Nominations belong to the Party, not to their opponent. 2004 was a “Closed” primary.) In the month long repeated recounts, “Votes” kept getting “Found” in places where they didn’t belong-like the bottom of a ballot-box, until Queen Christine was the Governor-and the evidence of the fraud was being tracked publicly the entire time, documented, and when the legal challenge was made?

    Well… the guys responsible for assuring elections…decided they didn’t want to investigate, and the courts got a brief written by an amatuer-the case was tossed summarily.

    Dems have Florida, non-Dems have Washington State, both are strong indicators that the Ballot-box threat is essentially neutered in the United States.

  • troll

    …surfer dude and Dougray – I don’t know enough about Aussie economic history to comment meaningfully so I’ll ask:

    who voted Howard into office and why…at the time were his policies seen as necessary to stimulate growth in a system that had shifted too far to the left (and it’s arguably inherent stagnation) – ?

  • bliffle

    Pro-gun folk often say that they are ready to throw off tyranny if it should attempt to deprive them of their Liberty. So they need the guns. It’s part of an anti-tyranny militia.

    Suppose that a home-grown tyrant would rise to president. Suppose that the tyrant ignores the laws passed by congress, arrests people on the streets without Probable Cause or a warrant. Suppose those citizens are imprisoned without charges for years. Suppose the tyrant taps telephones without warrants. Suppose he starts unjustified wars in foreign countries, invades them, installs his puppet and occupies the country with troops.

    Would the anti-tyranny militia members revolt and throw off the hated yoke of tyranny?

  • Clavos

    Hell no, bliffle, we’re not doing it mow, are we?

    I have guns just because I like killing things:

    ducks, deer, quail, etc.

    If the tyranny gets too onerous, I’ll just vote with my feet…

  • Pablo

    Clavy said:

    “I have guns just because I like killing things:

    ducks, deer, quail, etc.”

    Why am I not surprised? Did you pull apart flies wings when you were a kid too Clavy boy? I bet you did.

  • http://www.parttimepundit.com John Bambenek

    The gun control crowd simply does not understand the diversity of this nation. In the cities, if there is a crime (assuming it isn’t a “no-go” area like those that exist in Chicago) the police response time is under 5 minutes.

    There are areas of this country that are basically frontiers. Guns can keep you from being animal food.

    There are rural parts of this country where there are essentially no police. Sure, you could call, but you’re talking 30-60 minutes at best. Sure, crime is low there, but still. People are their own protection there. That’s how they choose to live, fine, but we ought not to impose urban standards on them.

    In the end, the gun control argument rests on an irrebuttable presumption of guilt. Criminals commit gun crimes, so no one can be trusted with a gun. That’s letting the exceptions drive the rules and its one of the most nonsensical components of our political system.

    And despite what Ruvy and other American haters say, I’ve lived most of my life near Chicago and not once has anyone shot at another vehicle even within miles of me, despite some of the most hostile driving in the United States. We don’t accept painting African-Americans with broad brushes, we ought not to tolerate the same bigoted lines of argument for gun owners.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The gun control crowd simply does not understand the diversity of this nation.

    What, all of them?

    In the cities, if there is a crime (assuming it isn’t a “no-go” area like those that exist in Chicago) the police response time is under 5 minutes.

    !!!…

    (Excuse me, I just snorted my coffee through my nose.) Try calling the San Diego cops to a motel to break up a raucous crowd of drunken Irish tourists at 2 o’clock on a Sunday morning, and let me know how that goes.

  • Dougray

    Troll,

    at the time Howard came to power in the mid nineties, Australia was just coming out of rather dire economic times, as were many other nations.

    The Labor Party (akin to the Dems) had become complacent in power and had a leader who was an unpopular man, even with many Labor faithful. The man was Paul Keating. He had vision enough to float the Aussie Dollar, thus ending Australia’s long hazy dream of protectionism.

    However, the Labor Party were still largely at the mercy of trade unions who were very suspicious of Keating’s very non-left approach. It seemed that Keating was not going to have the support from the left factions to pursue his goals.

    I think it is fair to say that the system was too far to the Left at the time. But it wasn’t that the Labor Party had become MORE left of centre, more so that times were changing economically and many Aussies were sick of the stagnant economy, high unemployment, high interest rates, and way to much bureaucracy.

    Basically everyone who wasn’t a red-cap Labor voter or a trade unionist voted Liberal. Even my own Dad – a lifelong trade unionist, voted for Howard simply in order to topple Keating.

    Naturally, the story is way more complicated than just that but I think you have it right basically

    Howard’s end was just as welcome in the end as Keating’s was in 1996. Once again the great inevitable pendulum of two party politics swings back….watch this space.

  • Dougray

    Cannon,

    I couldn’t agree more about credible opposition, the essentially two party systems our countries both have are something of a poor cousin to healthy democracy in my opinion…at least these days anyway.

    I think it’s fair to say that our electoral system is very secure with regarding to polling, counts, and officials but the politicians have this little friend….

    I quote this from Wikipedia….

    “Branch Stacking: In Australian politics, branch stacking is the act of enrolling persons to a party by offering inducement, or enrolling persons for the principal purpose of influencing the outcome of internal pre-selections of candidates for public office.
    Branch stacking is not illegal unless it involves the use of false identities or false electoral enrollments, but it is contrary to the rules of both major parties.”

  • Clavos

    “Did you pull apart flies wings when you were a kid too Clavy boy? I bet you did.”

    Of course. Burned ants under a magnifying glass, too.

  • STM

    Clav: “If the tyranny gets too onerous, I’ll just vote with my feet…”

    Door’s open down here mate. It’ll just take you a while longer to get yer gun licence :)

    No need to shoot those cute little quail either … plenty of pesky ‘Roos and feral pigs round these parts.

    You can eat ‘Roo too, it’s better than lean beef if you cook it right, so the things haven’t died for nothing.

  • STM

    Doug, the thing about branch stacking is that it’s an internal party thing.

    It’s not electoral officials manipulating the result of a public ballot. As we both know, the Australian Electoral Commission prides itself on its impartiality. I have never had cause to doubt that the result of an election isn’t fair dinkum, even when I haven’t liked the result.

    Nearly always – except with Paul Keating’s “true believers” victory – in my lifetime, the result has accurately reflected public opinion – which is a pretty good indication that things work just fine.

    I mean, party members want to manipulate their internal party polling to choose a candidate for the seat, fine … so long as the candidate is OK and palatable to the electorate.

    I know it’s morally wrong, but there are always going to be blokes like Graeme Richardson who are good at crunching the numbers inside the party room so that all the factions within the party get a go.

    I don’t know what State you are in, but I’m in NSW and the State Opposition leader, Barry O’Farrell, has been making noises about the Liberal Party being more accountable and transparent in the lead up to the 2011 state election, in regard to such things as donations and stacking and number crunching within the branches.

    We’ll see :)

    Cannon’s point about credible opposition is right; it does make a difference in regard to how people respect and trust rule of law. That is one of the strengths of parliamentary democracy (which has its weaknesses too). By the way, despite the fact that Americans like to see it differently, most observers of world politics see the US system as a parliamentary system, although the names have been changed and the form is slightly different if the function is mostly similar.

    There are other factors that make this place different: one is compulsory voting, which tends to engage the entire voting populace in the electoral process, proportional representation, and preferential voting.

    I love both PR for its fairness and preferential voting for meaning that my vote isn’t wasted in a simple two-party contest.

    I like the idea that it can make a difference in that my second most preferred candidate gets my prefenence, as opposed to the person I least want to see in power.

    One thing I do like about the US system is the system of primaries, so that the entire process is democractic … in that the people rather than the party chooses a presidential candidate.

  • Clavos

    Down Under’s my prime destination, mate.

    If the wife weren’t so sick, I’d go now. When she gets better, you’ll be sorry you invited. :>)

  • John Snape

    Some one had better read the Constitution again,. We have the right to replace our govt. by election or force. If the govt steps out of line, and tried to by pass the constitution.