Why do liberals support gun control?

Anonymous asked this question on 8/9/2000:

As a Conservative voter I find myself totally disgusted with many things being stated by Al Gore and the Democratic Party. Since I have known some very special Liberal people during my life time, I know there must be some good people in the Liberal movement. I seriously want to speak to a real Liberal to fully discuss these issues. I am open minded. But what about the following:

1. The Second Amendment
2. Taxes
3. Social Security

I really want to know what a sincere Liberal will say to a sincere Conservative.

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/9/2000:

I'm only liberal on gun control so I won't answer the other two.

I understand the conservative viewpoint, that guns are needed as a check and balance against the federal government, but I think the NRA's viewpoint on the second amendment is extremist and disingenuous.

The founders never intended the unrestricted ownership of any and all weapons. The right to bear arms is fine, but not the right to bear any and all arms at any time anywhere. If that were true, we would have the right to carry a loaded bazooka with our fingers on the trigger while walking down the street, and we would have the right to drive a tank down that same street. Those would clearly be too dangerous for civil society; hence SOME restrictions are appropriate even under the second amendment. The disingenuousness in the NRA's argument is that they pretend that the founders really meant for absolutely unrestricted gun ownership, i.e., that Thomas Jefferson would approve of the street scene above.

So the question then becomes "What restrictions are reasonable?" A reasonable gun rights advocate might argue for no permit & no licensing; I would disagree with those too, but I would consider that a reasonable argument as opposed to a disingenuous argument.

The right place to discuss this issue with both liberals and conservatives is in the "Gun Control Forum" at

The right place to find liberals on Taxes is
and on Soc. Sec. is

You should post your question as is there and you'll get plenty of responses from all sides of the political spectrum.

Anonymous rated this answer:

You know that most, if not all of the Pro-Gun arguments I have heard have been arguing the rights to keep and bare arms that effectively in existence when the Second Amendment was written. I haven't heard anyone argue about keeping a bazooka or a tank. Most people, including me, are looking to continue to have the ability to defend myself and my family.

If you look at the gun control efforts in Australia, Great Britain and South Africa, you can see the utter failure.

I have had three occasions when I required a handgun to protect my life, or the life of someone else. Each time, if I were not armed, I, or the other people, would have been killed, or seriously hurt. I see this effort as being a threat to me. What right do they have to take my ability to protect my self or family?

History has shown that "permits and licenses" are the precursor to confiscation. Again look at the countries I mentioned above.

I sincerely appreciate your response and welcome your continued discussion.

JesseGordon gave this follow-up answer on 8/11/2000:

No one argues for bazookas and tanks because it's pretty unreasonable. But is it any more reasonable to carry a machine gun? The line between them gets a little fuzzier. Yet banning "assault rifles" meets with heavy resistance from the NRA. They're worried about the "slippery slope", i.e., that banning assault rifles will lead to banning personal handguns. But the "ban" on bazookas and tanks has been "in force" for as long as bazookas and tanks have been around, and somehow the "slippery slope" has been traversed without risk to personal handguns. I think most gun control advocates, including myself, want reasonable gun control, not a ban on personal handguns. I just don't buy the "slippery slope" argument -- when I clip my fingernails, I don't feel that my knuckles are at risk.

If you'd like to continue this discussion, post it at
and I'll look for it there.

Anonymous asked this follow-up question on 8/11/2000:

The question I must ask of you: What do you consider an "assault rifle"? The "slippery slope" argument is augmented when the definition is purposely "blurred" by the "gun-control" factions. When generic interpretations are purposely inserted into legislative regulations that impact the rights believed to be encased within the Second Amendment, it becomes a suspicion of deceit.

Actually, it was the people who banned the bazooka and tank. Too heavy to carry; too expensive to park. However, when you speak about "generic" descriptions of an "assault rifle," the definition is very important. What may be an "hunting rifle" to me is being translated as an "assault rifle" to you, by law.

The NRA, looking extreme at times, is only trying to hold, by the inch by inch method, the continuing eroding of the rights expressed in the Amendment.

I really enjoyed our discussion. However, I do not really want to spend time with a group discussion. Please contact me at, if you would like to argue some more.

R. T. Jones

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/14/2000:

"Assault rifle" = weapon that can be used is "fully automatic" mode, i.e., a continuously firing machine gun. There's no sport purpose for that, and hardly a self-protection purpose. The only purpose is to threaten people with harm, or to do harm.

Anonymous asked this follow-up question on 8/14/2000:

You see the reasonable position is to have truth on both sides of the argument. When the "gun-control" people come out and misrepresent the definition of an "assault rifle," it causes the "pro-gun" people to become suspicious of all legislation.

When I was a child I learned what it meant to compromise. What I found is that if I continued to compromise, I would eventually lose the argument. Example: Let's say I could agree with the position of "...let's just have reasonable 'gun-control.'" Would this be sufficient? Would you support the enforcement of this new regulation? You, as an individual, would say yes. But, the government, through hard experience does not. Now, they will say, " doesn't work." More laws; more lack of enforcement. Look at the other countries, they started out the very same way.

Guarantee me that "confiscation" is not on your mind. I might be able to agree with you. However, in England, they issued the same guarantees.

Who said a weapon was for sport. I never shot an animal in my life. My gun is for protection of my family, myself, and whomever is in need when I am around. I have had three separate occasion where it was needed. Unfortunately, each occasion, if I was not prepared, would have been my last time to protect myself.

Please continue....

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/14/2000:

If you have a tank, or a bazooka, you bet I'd recommend confiscation. They're too dangerous to keep anywhere but military bases and I would expect the police to not only confiscate them, but to arrest and prosecute the guy who possessed them.

With assault rifles or anything else that's currently legal and then became illegal, no, I would not recommend confiscation. When new laws take effect, they have "grandfather" clauses for that purpose.

With "normal" guns, those used for sport or self-protection, no, I would never recommend confiscation. Licensing, maybe (for purposes of advancing safety); registering, unlikely (what's the point? criminals won't register them anyway); confiscation, never. I've always said that the only time I would ever consider purchasing a gun is when I was convinced that they would soon become illegal. "Illegal" in my definition means that a typical citizen can't own a typical gun under reasonable rules.

I commend you for using your guns responsibly. Have you had any training in their safe use? That's the reason I'd recommend licensing, so that people would use guns responsibly and safely. There are too many accidental deaths from people who just didn't know any better.

I also commend you for your history of armed self-protection. If I were ever in a circumstance where my life or those around me were endangered, I'd be happy to have someone like you, armed, around. I've read plenty of stories of the same sort of thing, from the Staten Island ferry to Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, to know that life-threatening situations do arise regularly, and having guns around works.

I don't think that sort of situation is very likely at all in the heavily-populated northeast where I live. What I mean is, it's more likely that more guns on the streets will cause harm, rather than save lives. I resided briefly in rural Arkansas, where people were few and dangers were unknown. I was happy there to have my landlord show me where the guns were kept and instruct me on how to use them. Out of cities, guns make a lot more sense to me. In the cities, they seem more dangerous than protective.

With regards to "assault rifles," I focus on the tank/bazooka analogy -- if there's no need for a weapon for sport or personal protection, the risks outweigh the benefits. However, let me relate a story about when I visited a friend in Israel, who showed me his gun collection (all government-issued; they lived in a border zone). He had "assault rifles" (an Uzi and an M-16 with fully-automatic mode) as well as a regular pistol (a small, readily concealed sidearm issued to Israeli army officers). I felt that the pistol was considerably more dangerous, because it was small and hence didn't feel like it could easily take someone's life. The Uzi, on the other hand, was a substantial weapon, which when wielded, certainly felt dangerous and threatening. The M-16 was very heavy and certainly would never be mistaken for a toy, like the pistol might be.

I recognize the reasoning for issuing Uzis and M-16s in Israeli border zones. But they are issued along with a commitment to lifelong training. In the US, that doesn't happen. It should.

And it should as well with pistols. Small weapons, I feel, are more dangerous than large ones, because they don't feel deadly. That doesn't mean banning them; it doesn't mean confiscating them; it means making them reasonably safe and enforcing reasonable measures for responsible ownership. We license cars for the same reason, and the AAA doesn't lobby Congress for unlicensed, unregistered ownership.

Anonymous asked this follow-up question on 8/14/2000:

I have both police and military training. My incidences were as a civilian in both rural and urban zones.

I have to disagree with you on the urban ownership. If the perpetrator has an idea that there is no protection, such as the schools and churches, then this will become a target. As an example, Washington DC and New York. Guns are illegal. However, it would appear crime runs rampant.

As I stated before, if you look at Britain, you will see their crime rates have increased dramatically after banning all guns. Not just automatic weapons; even shot guns were banned. So much for the good intentions.

When a perp knows that the odds are that someone can defend themselves, they go elsewhere. Review the study that John Lott, a Democratic professor in Chicago, did on the crime statistics.

Training, I can live with that. However, guarantee me that a license or registration will not eventually "try" to take away my right to defend myself.

I never needed an auto weapon, or a tank. However, it is sometimes hard to judge where the political crap begins and ends.

By the way, an Appellate court in Ohio just threw out one of those "reasonable" laws. They want to ban the weapons by putting the manufacturers out of business. Where does it begin and end.

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/15/2000:

Where it begins:
- Licensing is ok, because it fosters safe & responsible gun ownership
- Limiting weapons to those which can be used for sport or personal protection is ok, hence I'd ban automatic weapons

Where it ends:
- Registration is not ok; I don't see any purpose in knowing who owns which gun. Yes, it makes the police's job easier in case of crimes, but criminals won't register anyway.
- Confiscation isn't ok.

Anonymous asked this follow-up question on 8/15/2000:

How do you license without registration? Even the FBI now, against the written regulations, have retained the files created through the Brady Law. It is an indirect form of registration. The government continues to violate the laws by effectively keeping the records. I am expected to obey the law (look at the experience in Idaho, where the ATF created a problem), when I see the government constantly evading the law. This has to be fixed before I could agree to the licensing.

"Automatic weapon" is a catch-all phrase for people who want to ban all weapons. I have heard Feinstein call many non-automatic weapons automatic weapons. We now get into the definitions.

Ban the weapons from law abiding citizens; or, ban the criminal from society. Clinton keeps saying the Brady law caught 40,000 felons from guns. Shouldn't we have 40,000 indictments?

I have been enjoying our discussions.

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/15/2000:

What I mean by "license" is require an I.D. like a driver's license which indicates that you have taken a safety course. You then have to carry your gun license around whenever you're carrying a weapon, just like you have to carry your driver's license around whenever you're driving. If gun licenses are administered by state and local agencies, then there's no federal registration any more than there is federal registration of driver's licenses (which I think there is not).

What I mean by "registration," which I don't support, is registering every gun, like cars are individually registered. I WOULD support that, if I thought the law would be followed, because it would make tracking guns used in crimes much easier. But I DON'T support it because criminals won't register their guns, and unlike how obvious it is when someone is driving an unregistered car, it's not very obvious when someone is carrying an unregistered gun. Hence registration would only affect law-abiding gun owners and is pointless.

Yes, "automatic weapons" is a catch-all phrase. Laws have to include specifics, however, to replace the catch-alls. My definition is any weapon which, when you pull the trigger, fires an entire clip without pulling the trigger again. Those are weapons of war, like bazookas and tanks, and belong in the hand of the military only. Semi-automatic pistols or rifles, where you can pull the trigger as fast as you can but once for each shot, have a reasonable place in sport & protection and I wouldn't ban them.

If you want to get into the Brady law, you're going to call me "soft on crime," although I'd phrase it as "hard on civil rights." I think there should be a lot less laws, including fewer gun laws. Whenever there are too many laws to enforce, police enforce them selectively, which means they get enforced disproportionately on minorities and other "outsider" groups. I suspect you'd say we should enforce the existing gun laws -- I'd say we should get rid of the unenforced ones instead, along with hundreds of other unenforced laws.

Anonymous asked this follow-up question on 8/15/2000:

We aren't so far apart. I believe that the gun laws should be eliminated if they are not being enforced. However, most of the laws they do enforce I find that I am against.

I believe, if the proposal was on the table, to eliminate or revamp, the existing laws, the NRA would look at it seriously. After all, with the layer upon layer of gun laws in the books already, just accepting a simple change can cause the entire system to collapse to the detriment of the 2 Amendment. If the system of laws were simplified, and the laws were scoped to include tanks and bazookas, it could be accepted. However, and look at the Tax Code, there are so many laws layered and already in place, even a small change could be bad.

I believe the NRA is in this situation. You tell me that you would support banning Bazookas. Fine. However, look at the fine print. Will they also include muzzle velocities that infringe on a rifle. How do you define the bazooka? Generic laws are all-inclusive laws the Liberal and gun-control people are famous.

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/16/2000:

The thing that makes us far apart is politics, not policy. That's pretty typical with hot political topics. The actual policy is something reasonable that both sides can live with (and which becomes law if Congress can get past the politics). But the politics is divisive and extremist.

The political difference is that you and other gun-rights supporters say "No yielding gun rights," and me and other gun-control advocates say "more gun rules." The stances are hardened by players like the NRA and Brady, who make impassioned arguments that are hard to refute without sounding extreme.

Anonymous asked this follow-up question on 8/16/2000:

As you probably already recognize, I am a Conservative, for lack of a better description. I asked the question in the beginning because I try to recognize your, the Liberal, position.

I believe that we are not that far apart, as long as we define the positions. I kind of describe the normal people as the people looking at the flag on the rope of a tug of war. We see the flag flicker one way, then the other. What makes the flag flicker? The extremes at both ends of the rope.

I believe that if we, you and me, look at the extremes, we can find a solution to the flag, and the position the flag finally assumes. If you and I can find, at least partial agreement, then we can go out and speak to these solutions. I don't think that sounds extreme.

Look, I support the NRA and more. I think Brady is a kook. But I can see the rope shredding by all the pressure. If we do not loosen the pressure on the rope and it breaks, then what will we have? I would like to keep things under control.

Please understand my position; I will try to understand your position. Maybe, through our discussions we can see a solution that both of us think is "policy."

JesseGordon gave this response on 8/16/2000:

Yes, I recognize that you're conservative.

The tug-of-war analogy is a good one.

I think we've both come to understand each other's positions and come up with a reasonable policy.

Let's close this discussion. I encourage you to repeat your posting on that Gun Control Forum at .

Anonymous asked this question on 8/9/2000:

As a Conservative voter I find myself totally disgusted with many things being stated by Al Gore and the Democratic Party. Since I have known some very special Liberal people during my life time, I know there must be some good people in the Liberal movement. I seriously want to speak to a real Liberal to fully discuss these issues. I am open minded. But what about the following:

1. The Second Amendment
2. Taxes
3. Social Security

I really want to know what a sincere Liberal will say to a sincere Conservative.

stevehaddock gave this response on 8/9/2000:

Well as the comedian Dave Foley ("Newsradio", "Kids In The Hall" said) "As a Canadian I am a communist", or in my case, at least a liberal.

1. The second amendment has been terribly mis-interpreted by the NRA (It has NEVER been considered by the Supreme Court). The amendment says nothing of the rights of individual Americans to own guns. It's purpose seems to be to allow all American's to join armed militias for the common defence of the people, and it is likely that anti-gun laws would be upheld by the courts.

2. U.S. taxes are far too low. Compared to Canada, Japan and Western Europe, they are incredibly low. For example, the main difference in gas prices between the U.S. and the rest of the world is the tax. We in Canada have to cry when we do the comparison - gas in Canada costs about $0.72 Cdn/litre, where as in the U.S., the "record high prices" mean a price of $0.44 Cdn/litre. In Europe, prices of $2.00 Cdn/litre would be a dream.

As a result, although gas, food, booze and cigarettes are cheaper in the U.S. than anywhere else in the industrialized world, health care and education are far more expensive (example - tuition to good U.S. law school - $25,000 U.S./year, tuition to good Canadian law school - $2,000 U.S./year - about what you would pay for a non-ABA accredited school.)

3. Social security is just fine thank you. In the past 35 years, people over 65 have gone from being the persons most likely to be living in poverty to the group least likely to be living in poverty. Moreover, Social Security is modest and cutting it off to rich Americans wouldn't have an impact on the total budget. It is also fairly well funded, and is likely to improve as new immigrants arrive to boost the population and the contribution base.

Investing social security in the stock market is a bad idea. If the law of diminishing returns is right - that would result in stocks becoming a poor investment and U.S. bonds becoming a good one. The stock market just couldn't absorb the amount of money that is currently in the system - and a crash would wipe it out.

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