Brian Baker: Freedom costly in American democracy

By Brian Baker

Last update: Friday, October 13th, 2017

In the wake of the recent horrific Las Vegas massacre, the leftist anti-gun coven has kicked its hair-on-fire hysteria into overdrive. In the immortal words of former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Contrary to their hysterical assertions, gun violence and deaths are in fact at historical lows. For the last 30 years, violent crime rates – including murder – have been decreasing at a rate in direct correlation to the easing of restrictive gun laws, particularly for concealed carry, in those jurisdictions that have enacted such policies.

In contrast, where gun laws are the most restrictive, jurisdictions suffer disproportionately high violent crime rates, including murder. Washington, D.C., Chicago and many other urban areas illustrate that fact.

The actions of the Las Vegas shooter are no different from those who have driven their cars into crowds and committed mass murder, including in 2015 on the Las Vegas Strip when one was killed and 35 injured – but I don’t see anyone talking about banning cars. Why is that? Cars are at least as “dangerous” as guns, with a higher death toll.

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question: it’s because we don’t discuss abridging the rights of the vast mass of law-abiding citizens because of the actions of some lone nut job – unless it involves guns.

Is there an unfortunate price to be paid for people to enjoy those rights? Yes, sadly, there is. But that’s unavoidable in a free society; the only way to avoid it is to eliminate the freedoms themselves.
That’s an unacceptable price. If we’re not willing to do it with cars, why should we do so with guns? Just because leftists don’t use or like them?

But there’s an even more important underlying issue, too. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s there to assure that citizens have the ability to protect themselves if the government fails to do so, either by failing to respond in a crisis or by trying to impose tyranny.

We saw this illustrated most vividly during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots in 1992, when the Korean shop owners protected their businesses, and themselves, with their own weapons – including semi-automatic “assault rifles” – while chaos reigned on L.A. streets for several day. The Koreans were on their own, and if you’re stuck in what is essentially a war zone, you want to be able to bring the most firepower to bear that you can.

But the Founders’ ultimate purpose in the Second Amendment was to make sure that citizens had the ability to prevent their own government from trying to impose tyranny. The only way to do that was to make sure that said government couldn’t outgun them.

Never forget that they’d just fought a successful revolt against their own previous legitimate government, and they weren’t foolish enough to think it couldn’t happen again right here at home.

To realize that potential, it’s important that citizens have the same firepower as the average grunt they could be facing across the firing line. And that’s not some scoped bolt-action hunting rifle.

The “militia” to which the Second Amendment refers is not the active-duty military, which our Founders called the “standing army,” of which they were very leery. In fact, as defined under 10 U.S. Code Section 311, the “militia” is composed of the National Guard (as anti-gunners dutifully note), as well as the “unorganized militia,” which is composed of all law-abiding people of military age “who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States” (which the anti-gunners always manage to conveniently forget). That’s all of us, folks: you, me, and Joe Sixpack.

The AR-15s used by the Vegas madman, contrary to the hoplophobes’ characterizations, aren’t “weapons of mass destruction” or any of the other hyperbolic descriptions. In fact, they’re no different from any other semi-automatic firearm in that they only fire one round per trigger pull. Further, as they’re the most commonly-owned rifle in general circulation, the Supreme Court decision in the landmark case of “D.C. v. Heller” assures their legitimacy.

Calling these guns a “full-on grade military arsenal,” as Gary Horton did earlier this week in his column against guns, is like calling Johnny Depp a real pirate. It makes no sense at all. In fact, if you ever found yourself on an actual battlefield and all you had was an AR-15, your life expectancy could be measured in minutes.

In Vegas, the killer used a “bump stock,” an after-market device that attaches to the rifle to increase the gun’s rate of fire. Frankly, I’d never heard of this device before, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about guns. Whether or not this is an illegal modification of the guns is, I believe, a legitimate topic for discussion.

But other than that, the jihad against AR-15s is a cynical exploitation of this tragic event to piecemeal advance the anti-gunners’ ultimate objective of trying to completely outlaw gun ownership in this country.

To that end, I want to acknowledge and thank U.S. Rep. Steve Knight for his courage and conviction in standing firm for the rights of gun ownership. It’s thanks to people like him that we have any rights left at all.

The reality is that there isn’t any law at all that would have prevented the maniacal Las Vegas shooter from committing his insane act. None. We don’t know why he did it. We probably never will. I don’t think it matters. Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

He wanted to kill a bunch of people. He rented a hotel room and used guns. He could have rented a van and mowed them down. In 2001 Timothy McVeigh rented a van and used fertilizer. The 9/11 jihadists bought airline tickets and used jet aircraft.

Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

Brian Baker is a Saugus resident.

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Brian Baker: Freedom costly in American democracy

In the wake of the recent horrific Las Vegas massacre, the leftist anti-gun coven has kicked its hair-on-fire hysteria into overdrive. In the immortal words of former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Contrary to their hysterical assertions, gun violence and deaths are in fact at historical lows. For the last 30 years, violent crime rates – including murder – have been decreasing at a rate in direct correlation to the easing of restrictive gun laws, particularly for concealed carry, in those jurisdictions that have enacted such policies.

In contrast, where gun laws are the most restrictive, jurisdictions suffer disproportionately high violent crime rates, including murder. Washington, D.C., Chicago and many other urban areas illustrate that fact.

The actions of the Las Vegas shooter are no different from those who have driven their cars into crowds and committed mass murder, including in 2015 on the Las Vegas Strip when one was killed and 35 injured – but I don’t see anyone talking about banning cars. Why is that? Cars are at least as “dangerous” as guns, with a higher death toll.

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question: it’s because we don’t discuss abridging the rights of the vast mass of law-abiding citizens because of the actions of some lone nut job – unless it involves guns.

Is there an unfortunate price to be paid for people to enjoy those rights? Yes, sadly, there is. But that’s unavoidable in a free society; the only way to avoid it is to eliminate the freedoms themselves.
That’s an unacceptable price. If we’re not willing to do it with cars, why should we do so with guns? Just because leftists don’t use or like them?

But there’s an even more important underlying issue, too. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s there to assure that citizens have the ability to protect themselves if the government fails to do so, either by failing to respond in a crisis or by trying to impose tyranny.

We saw this illustrated most vividly during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots in 1992, when the Korean shop owners protected their businesses, and themselves, with their own weapons – including semi-automatic “assault rifles” – while chaos reigned on L.A. streets for several day. The Koreans were on their own, and if you’re stuck in what is essentially a war zone, you want to be able to bring the most firepower to bear that you can.

But the Founders’ ultimate purpose in the Second Amendment was to make sure that citizens had the ability to prevent their own government from trying to impose tyranny. The only way to do that was to make sure that said government couldn’t outgun them.

Never forget that they’d just fought a successful revolt against their own previous legitimate government, and they weren’t foolish enough to think it couldn’t happen again right here at home.

To realize that potential, it’s important that citizens have the same firepower as the average grunt they could be facing across the firing line. And that’s not some scoped bolt-action hunting rifle.

The “militia” to which the Second Amendment refers is not the active-duty military, which our Founders called the “standing army,” of which they were very leery. In fact, as defined under 10 U.S. Code Section 311, the “militia” is composed of the National Guard (as anti-gunners dutifully note), as well as the “unorganized militia,” which is composed of all law-abiding people of military age “who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States” (which the anti-gunners always manage to conveniently forget). That’s all of us, folks: you, me, and Joe Sixpack.

The AR-15s used by the Vegas madman, contrary to the hoplophobes’ characterizations, aren’t “weapons of mass destruction” or any of the other hyperbolic descriptions. In fact, they’re no different from any other semi-automatic firearm in that they only fire one round per trigger pull. Further, as they’re the most commonly-owned rifle in general circulation, the Supreme Court decision in the landmark case of “D.C. v. Heller” assures their legitimacy.

Calling these guns a “full-on grade military arsenal,” as Gary Horton did earlier this week in his column against guns, is like calling Johnny Depp a real pirate. It makes no sense at all. In fact, if you ever found yourself on an actual battlefield and all you had was an AR-15, your life expectancy could be measured in minutes.

In Vegas, the killer used a “bump stock,” an after-market device that attaches to the rifle to increase the gun’s rate of fire. Frankly, I’d never heard of this device before, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about guns. Whether or not this is an illegal modification of the guns is, I believe, a legitimate topic for discussion.

But other than that, the jihad against AR-15s is a cynical exploitation of this tragic event to piecemeal advance the anti-gunners’ ultimate objective of trying to completely outlaw gun ownership in this country.

To that end, I want to acknowledge and thank U.S. Rep. Steve Knight for his courage and conviction in standing firm for the rights of gun ownership. It’s thanks to people like him that we have any rights left at all.

The reality is that there isn’t any law at all that would have prevented the maniacal Las Vegas shooter from committing his insane act. None. We don’t know why he did it. We probably never will. I don’t think it matters. Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

He wanted to kill a bunch of people. He rented a hotel room and used guns. He could have rented a van and mowed them down. In 2001 Timothy McVeigh rented a van and used fertilizer. The 9/11 jihadists bought airline tickets and used jet aircraft.

Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

Brian Baker is a Saugus resident.

About the author

Brian Baker

Brian Baker

  • Gary Bierend

    Well done Brian.

    As for the “Bump Stock”, I see no legitimate use for it, and I suspect they will be outlawed.

    • Brian Baker

      Thanks, Gary.

      As to “bump stocks”, I suspect you’re correct that they’ll be outlawed. But I have a huge problem with the “legitimate use” rationale.

      Bump stocks were reviewed by the ATF under the Obama admin and deemed legal. So who gets to now determine what’s a “legitimate use”? Never forget that “legitimate use” is the rationalization for the “assault weapon” and over-10-round magazine bans, too.

      Once that door’s open, there’s no end to the number of things the hoplophobes will try to ban because they lack “legitimate use” in their blind eyes.

      • gary

        Brian,

        The entirety of your argument is fatally flawed from two standpoints:

        1. When the government rally comes after you it won’t be a “grunt with a gun” like in 1776. Think more like a police tank busting down your door or a nice little Apache helicopter blasting your house. Have at it, Brian, with your pea shooters. Or, shall we all have helicopter gunships?

        2. Cars are built for driving. They take people here and there and everywhere. We put all sorts of limits on cars and drivers and highways to maximize utility while minimizing danger. Injuries are accidental and are byproducts of their intended usage.

        The dude in Vegas used his guns for what they were made for. Killing. There’s nothing about a gun that makes it “purposed for resisting an oppressive government.” Nope, they’re just made for killing. Lots of killing. Blood and guts, guts and blood all over everyone who was there.

        You’re right that I can kill with a 2 x 4 and club someone to death. I can set them on fire with a lighter. I could use a pipe wrench and clobber someone. I can drive a car into a crowd. Yup, I could. I can push ’em out of buildings. I can push em into trains. There’s so many ways to misuse good things made for other purposes, instead for killing.

        But I’m not riding my AK to work, not taking my kids to soccer, not building my house out of AKs – although it seemed like this Vegas guy almost could have….

        There you go.

        Hey, this is now a forgotten issue again until the next time. Harvey Weinstein and tragic fires have the headlines again. America moves on without fixing a damn thing.

        • Ron Bischof

          I often wonder if you have an original thought when you’re in political mode, Gary.

          1. Millions of armed citizens, a subset of them vets trained in asymmetrical warfare, in urban centers that require clearing operations. Think about it.
          2. Amazing that you’ve completely ignored the European terror attacks killing over a hundred with vehicles.

          Are the firearms used in Olympic Shooting Sports only used for “killing”?

          I hope you do move on because you can’t be taken seriously on this topic. Leave it to someone with actual expertise.

  • lois eisenberg

    Thank you Dorothy for your input !!!

  • Brian Baker

    For once we agree. I think The Signal did a service by presenting both sides at the same time on the same page.

  • Brian Baker

    You clearly don’t understand the principles or the ideology involved, and you’re stuck with childish innuendo.

    My father died in a traffic accident because he was riding a motorcycle instead of driving a car. Amazingly enough, I don’t support the idea of banning motorcycles.

    Any other silly assertions you’d like to make?

    • Dorothy Rothschild

      When they start selling motorcycles that are designed to kill as many other people as possible, you can get back to us with your stupid motorcycles/cars=guns “analogy”.
      I’m sure that like most right-wingers, you would change your principles in a New York minute if someone you loved had been killed in Las Vegas, or if your child had been gunned down at school.
      It’s easy to scream about “principles” and shout down anyone who disagrees with you, until those principles bite back.

      • Brian Richards

        Nobody is going to be shamed into agreeing with you. I’m sure that like most left wingers you think it’s a good tactic, but we’re immune. Once you’ve been called every name in the book, falsely 99% of the time, you start to laugh at such tactics. We have the right in America to be armed and if you don’t like it, change the constitution.

      • Ron Bischof

        Non sequitur. You continue to make this unsupported assertion.

        I’m a Lifetime NRA Member and support rights recognized by our Constitution in the Second Amendment. That’s my principled position based on reason, facts and law.

        My mother committed suicide via a bolt action rifle when I was 15. The firearm wasn’t at fault as it was only the means to an end she choose voluntarily.

        Please support your assertion of how my principles were changed by that event, Ms. Rothschild.

  • Brian Baker

    Thanks, Ron.

  • Ron Bischof

    I know Brian personally and he doesn’t engage in situational ethics as you’re suggesting in your comment, Ms. Rothschild.

    Do you alter your principles based on circumstances? If so, are they actually principles?

    And do you imply by “when”?

    • Brian Baker

      Thank you, Ron. I appreciate that.

  • Brian Richards

    Like Brian and Ron, I think it’s great that two different points were published on the same day about an issue as volatile as this one. I personally think bump stocks, which like Brian I had never heard of, should be outlawed and I also don’t think anyone should be able to buy 35 guns in a year without a visit from someone. I’m loath to give the federal government leeway on this, but I see no alternative. I don’t know what the number should be, but it should be well south of 35. I’m not even saying someone shouldn’t be able to buy 35 guns, but just that there should be additional scrutiny. Who knows, maybe extra scrutiny would have prevented the massacre……or not.

    • Brian Baker

      The problem, Brian, is where do you stop? As I mentioned in my column, McVeigh used a van and fertilizer. The 9/11 jihadis hijacked airplanes. The Tsarnaev brothers used pressure cookers. The 1995 attack in the Tokyo subway was by sarin gas, which is about as “controlled” as it gets. Cars have been used. Vans. Pipe bombs.

      The harsh reality is that if some madman is intent on killing a bunch of people, he has many tools available, and there’s very little to stop him ahead of time. Once you cede legitimacy to the idea that some gun control law is going to make any difference at all, you’ve opened the flood gates to restrictive laws that ignore rights and yet won’t have any effect on the actual problem.

      • Brian Richards

        I get it Brian, I really do. I just don’t see any value, constitutionally or otherwise, to be able to cheaply and easily make a semi to a full auto. Machine guns are illegal for the most part and devices to make a semi into one should be as well. Just my opinion.

    • Ron Bischof

      Do we know how many firearms were actually used in this horrorific mass murder yet, Brian?

  • Gary Bierend

    That’s an interesting perspective. Since you are aware of the 2nd Amendment, and the risks involved, then you too know what you have “signed up for” by choosing to live in the US. Perhaps there’s some other place that has gun control that is more to your liking, you should consider living there.

  • Gary Bierend

    What hubris. You may be the boss at your gardening service, but you’re not the boss here. You don’t get to decide when the case is closed.

    But as long as you feel the case is closed, there’s no reason for you to bother posting your prepackaged talking point pablum anymore. Trust me, the only person that will miss it is lois.

  • Ron Bischof

    Another non sequitur based on ignorance of firearms. You’re reciting inaccurate talking points you picked up somewhere, Ms. Rothschild.

    View this video and note that no one was killed during this competitive sporting event. The 3 firearms in this 3 gun competition were legal semi-automatics.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7ayD1eLLrI

  • Ron Bischof

    An unsupported assertion by you “closes” zip, Gary.

    One can’t fail to note you offered no cogent rebuttal stating specifically how Brian’s argument is “fatally flawed”.

  • Dorothy Rothschild

    Let me rephrase…do you think the restrictions and regulations on machine guns are unconstitutional?

    • Brian Richards

      No.

  • Dorothy Rothschild

    Other than for R&D, the FAA says that former military aircraft must be demilitarized. And if they come from outside of the US, then FAA says that ATF requires them to be demlitarized before import.

    • Brian Baker

      Just answered, above.

  • Brian Baker

    No, tanks can be sold in their military configuration. In the case of aircraft, “de-militarization” means removing mounted arms, but that’s ONLY if a plane is going to be certificated, meaning it’s allowed by the FAA to fly. If all it’s going to do is sit in a hangar or on the ramp, it can be fully armed, assuming the owner has the appropriate documentation to own the weapons, i.e. NFA fees, etc.

    On tanks, just like any place else, cannons aren’t “destructive devices”. That restriction pertains to the ammunition, if it’s explosive, as I’ve already ‘splained, Lucy.

    Again, just like war planes have to meet certain requirements in order to be licensed to fly, tanks are restricted in that you can’t get them licensed to drive down public roads, if for no other reason because they’d chew the roads to pieces. But that doesn’t mean one can’t OWN them.

    A bit of education for you. You’re welcome.

  • Dorothy Rothschild

    “What hubris. You may be the boss at your gardening service, but you’re
    not the boss here. You don’t get to decide when the case is closed.”

    At least according to Mr. Bierend.

  • Dorothy Rothschild

    What does *that* mean? “If they don’t infringe” and “as clarified by SCOTUS”?

    Any regulation or restriction at all will, by definition, “infringe” on the Sacred Second Amendment, won’t it?

    Or are regulations (infringements) only okay if YOU agree with them? And others are not okay?