Saturday, January 12, 2013

- In The Gun Debate, How Far is Too Far?

In the debate around gun rights, how much can you say about your intentions without violating the law with your speech?

As I've said almost continually for years... "Liberals are cowards." They will happily knuckle under to anyone who threatens to use force to support their political position. That's why they've maintained a policy of preemptive surrender in all international conflict, and will happily bully non violent Christians domestically while they cower in fear of violence from a tiny Muslim minority.

Which is what makes this piece from Charles Blow so interesting.

He's basically talking about the 'extreme language' of the gun rights debate and how it is getting in the way of the liberal goal of disarming the citizenry. But the best part is how he's so certain of his perspective that it never occurs to him that any rational person could hold another view. The media always talks about gun rights groups and their spokesmen as being 'crazy', because they resist the incrementalism that is so common in liberal policy initiatives. But Mr. Blow calls attention to one specific spokesman who I think it's important to listen to.

Near the end of his piece he links to this story about a man from Tennessee named James Yeager. Mr. Yeager made a video where he asserts that he won't be pushed any further where gun control is concerned, and in the civil war that further efforts would inspire, he'd be happy to "fire the first shot".

Like Mr. Blow and the rest of the coastal media, the people at refer to this as 'unhinged'. I and many of the gun rights activists I know would characterize it differently. But however you may feel about it, Mr. Yeager's comments are certainly at the extreme end of the public debate about gun control.

Here's the thing though. Few people will say so publicly, but there are a great many people in the firearms community who feel exactly as Mr. Yeager does. I know many of them. But they avoid stating their feelings in a public forum because it can, in the most extreme cases, be interpreted as language which is no longer protected as political speech, and could be interpreted as sedition. That's criminal speech in and of itself, and since the firearms community is more law abiding than average, they would prefer not to break that law either.

Let me put it another way. In much of the firearms community, killing a congressman is viewed as a rational and patriotic act if the congressman is an active part of a tyrannical government and is no longer acting lawfully. It's viewed as an attempt to assert the public will over its servant using the only means the public has left. Once the government has slipped over that legal line, this is considered not just OK, but a good thing.

But until the government crosses that line, even stating your potential future acts when they do so, isn't considered OK - at least not in any forum that it can be proved you have said it. And although members of the press are first amendment absolutists for themselves, when it comes to voicing your intent to resist government will by force, they're as happy as anyone to see you locked away indefinitely.

So I was hoping I could make an appeal to brother Frithguild, and any of you others out there who might have some insight to offer.

How much can you say about the violence you intend in this debate? Can you say "If the government does X then I will do Y!" if Y constitutes armed resistance to what you view as a tyrannical government? Because it seems to me that it would be in our interest to make it clear to liberals exactly how close they are to provoking a large scale violent response, but we don't want to have to break the law just to say so.

I know at some point on this continuum it comes back down to Benjamin Franklin's old quote about Revolutions. "They are never legal in the third person as in their revolution. They are only ever legal in the first person such as " our revolution." The prevailing view depends on who inevitably get's to tell the story.

But surely there is some clear line here between free political speech and the crimes of "inciting violence" or sedition. We know that if we were all minorities like the New Black Panther's or some other such group, we could say what we like without fear of government action. But being who we are, we must be more careful than that.

The justice department has made it plain that they intend to represent the interests of white, male, heterosexual Americans less vigorously than other groups. And it's not out of line to see the government as being "against" the interests of law abiding firearms owners. So having some sort of legal guidelines about what can and can't be said, would be to the great advantage of the entire firearms owning community.

The people who want to ban all guns are cowards, so we want them to be scared because it means they appreciate the reality of the situation. But we don't want to give them the excuse to round us all up for sedition before a single shot is ever fired.


James Yeager (pictured above) has lost his pistol permit over what he said.

%%%%%%%%%% UPDATE For LIBERALS %%%%%%%%%%

This piece has been linked to a source of liberal comments (Charles Blow tweeted it) but was written for conservatives, so I thought I'd explain something a little more clearly so the liberals reading it will understand.

Depending on whose estimate you use, there are something north of 100 million homes in America with firearms in them. Now you liberals have made it clear that you'd like to use the force of government to eliminate a large number of those firearms at the very least - to many of you eliminating all of them would be better. So would you pass a law to do that if you could? Would you say... repeal the second amendment?

Suppose you could only do it like Obamacare, by using a parliamentary trick to usurp popular support. That wouldn't exactly be straightforward, but it would certainly be legal. (The process at least.) Would you still do it then? How about by presidential edict? Is it an important enough issue to you to allow the president to override a constitutional right directly, even though such an act would be pushing the limits of legality at the very least?

If you said yes to this last part let me ask you this. Would you still do it by presidential edict if you knew that the act of doing so would be viewed as an illegal act by some tiny portion of the population - say 1%? OK... how about if that 1% was heavily armed and actually represented something like 1 million men who would resist your presidential edict with force? That means that your (at least arguably illegal) act would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths at a the very least - would you do it then?

Maybe you're saying yes right now and maybe no. But either way, understanding the consequences of an act is important. And you can only understand those consequences if people are allowed to state them. 1 million people is certainly a minority, but it's a lot of people. And if my sampling of the sport shooting and hunting community is typical (and I truly think it is) then there are a lot more people out there than that who feel that strongly about it. Charles Blow isn't just right about the extreme language out there. Given his circle, I think he's VASTLY underestimating it.

The second amendment was put in place to arm the populace against a tyrannical government. But like speed limits, here in the US anyway, the threat of force is almost always enough to prevent the requirement of actually using force. So when I say that I want those in government to be scared of us, what I mean is that I hope they fear the threat of force enough so that actual force never need be used.

I am not James Yeager. I'm a middle aged banker who makes his way in the world through commerce. I have no illusions about personally shedding the blood of tyrants. I'm prepared to use force to protect myself and my family, and to put myself in harm's way on their behalf. But I'm not one of the people out there demanding a politician's head on a pike. I know many of those people, but I don't personally think it's gone anywhere near that far.

But in spite of that, I think it serves everyone's interests for us all to be able to speak frankly about how we see this issue and I think James Yeager's view and those of the people who share it, should be included in that conversation. In fact, I think it's the more extreme views like his that are the most important.

In that respect I take the opposite view of Mr. Blow. I don't think extreme language stands in the way of rational debate, I think it's the most important part of it. If there are a million people out there (and in my opinion there are at least that many) who take such an extreme view, then I definitely want to hear what they have to say. And I want to hear it while 'talking about it' is all we're doing.

I think to fully understand this issue, you need to understand the limits of how far people will go. If some plurality votes to disarm those people at the extreme end of the discussion, they won't care. And I'm afraid the day that liberals finally step over this line will be a day when they believe that gun owners "don't really mean it" and they actually do.

The first American revolution was sparked by an attempt to disarm the populace. (What do you think the redcoats were doing in Lexington and Concord? Look it up.) At the moment it looks like the second one will be caused by the same exact thing. And if scaring a few congressmen with strong words is enough to prevent that, then I would like to hear them.


Anonymous said...


Mike M. said...

"The justice department has made it plain that they intend to represent the interests of white, male, heterosexual Americans less vigorously than other groups."

How do you figure this? Etchnic minorities are investigated and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers. Meanwhile, a white-dominated financial industry carries on business as usual, despite crashing the economy and doing more damage to more Americans (of any color) than any gunman (of any color) or terrorist (of any color) ever could.

Anonymous said...

James, for the love of G_D, think before you speak or write. Banning assault weapons is not banning guns altogether. It is banning a single type of gun, only and obviously. The extrapolation to 'all guns' is perverse and senseless. If a single type of Muslim radical attacks someone, does that mean all Muslims attack people? Of course not. No one is taking gun rights from anyone. We are taking away the use of one type of gun to ensure the safety of our children as they will likely shoot each other if given access to them. Now stop the mindless insanity.

Anonymous said...

stop smoking whatever it is you are smoking. NOW!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. You have a very different perspective than any person I've encountered before. I don't agree with anything you said, but I do recognize your 1st amendment right to say it.

Scotty Hendricks Jr

Jim said...

"all liberals are cowards"? ..."happily knuckle under to anyone who threatens to use force"?

As a liberal who has to stand up for his beliefs in the face of daily attacks from right-wing co-workers, I find the first assertion not true. What evidence do you have to support the second assertion? Osama Bin Laden? Keeping ground troops out of the Libyan civil war while using all other means to support the rebels?

David D said...

Funny, I always thought it was the gun nuts who were cowards...seems like so many of them need their pieces to boost their confidence...Also, I always thought elections were pretty useful for turning a Congressperson out of office. I didn't realize all the "brave" folks packing out there thought their weapons were a better solution than elections. Thanks for clarifying this for me!

jsutton said...

I think the FBI should take a careful look at this man and his community of gun enthusiasts who are thinking about taking down a government official.

Anonymous said...

No one's afraid of you and your friends. No one.

Simon Ateba said...


Even right here in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria in West Africa, I can sense the confusion in your thoughts and words. You seem to be confused and your words betray the mind of a troubled man in search of direction and ideas. I am far away in Africa but I can assure you that the government wants to ban assault weapons, AK47 rifles and so on and reduce the number of amunitions people are having. It will be better for America and the world. Sometimes, it leaves me stumped and discombobulated that as an African living in Africa, I need to talk common sense to some bigoted minds in America. I am the one bringing help and wisdom to a place where they should know better. How sad!

Anonymous said...

Your "fear of fascism" is really a fear of emasculation. You will be side-swiped on the Fascism issue because you are looking the wrong way. Ross Barkley

Anonymous said...

So many consider it ok to kill a congressman if that man is acting as an agent of dictatorship. And who decides that? Isn't it the mark of the insane to decide that "I am the only good one" and I must kill those who disagree?" I think perhaps Yeager might be having one of those "eureka" moments where he realizes HE is the enemy?

A True Patriot said...

Threatening to kill an elected government official because he or she crosses some line that you and your colleagues of the "firearms community" find repugnant is flirting with sedition. Tough shit if you don't like what other people believe, this is a democracy, and you change things at the ballot box, not down the barrel of a gun. I hope the FBI comes knocking at your door soon. I also hope they wear body armor because you're obviously unhinged.

Tom said...

For all you liberals who are reading this thanks to Charles Blow's tweet, please take a look at the update I put in.

I used a lot of short hand in the original piece that was really designed for a conservative audience. And in the update I try to explain that shorthand a little more clearly for non conservatives.

This was a post asking a question about what constitutes civil discourse. I haven't advocated the extreme view of James Yeager - in fact I called his view extreme in the original post. The opinion I was offering was that views like his represent an important part of the conversation and should be included in any discussion.

I don't mind liberals getting angry at my views, (I've certainly come to expect it) but it seems to me you should be getting angry at my actual views, and not the views you imagine me to hold.

But I think if you take a moment and read the update appended to the original piece, that will all be made much more clear to you.


Tom said...

BTW Mr. Blow, while our politics may differ dramatically, one more serious issue where we absolutely agree is our mutual frustration with New York City's version of Jambalaya.

So in the interest of amity, I'd like to recommend the Delta Grill on corner of 48th and 9th. It may not be exactly what you expect, but you'll certainly enjoy it.

Some things are too important to ruined by politics.

Anonymous said...

If you took five minutes to "game out" the armed civilian uprising you seem to want, you would understand the resulting chaos, misery, economic disruption, global discredit and ultimate failure is not worth your powder. My concern is that as a banker, you'd be OK with all of that. Somebody else's problem, right?

Tom said...

Actually I thought I made it plain that I don't want it. My only claim is that there are a great number of people out there who believe they do and that we should hear from them.

And for the record, "banker" is my vocation, not my job. I've actually spent the last 13 years as a hedge fund manager where the only person who pays a price for my mistakes is me. In my world, it's liberals who are very big on 'bold persistent experimentation' where it's someone else always ends up paying the price for any mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I keep my liberal guns to protect myself from people like Yeager and you!

Kristie O. said...

Goose bumps! Enough said with that reply! Thanks

Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...


I second the Delta Grill. Had an excellent dinner every time I have eaten there.

My frustration at finding good Cajun food has been partly ameliorated when a tenant of mine left behind a Paul Prudhomme cookbook. I have gotten quite adept (per the wife) with a number of dishes. Haven't tried making the Jambalaya yet.

BTW: A few more Tweets like this and you might end up with a column at PJMedia, due to your popularity.

frithguild said...

What are liberal guns? Biceps? A muscular government to keep order? Please tell me Anonymous and Christie O because I want to understand what is so self satisfying about your thinking.

In our history as a nation we had what I am guessing you mean as "liberal guns." Long ago governments of some states intruded so far into peoples lives in order to to keep things "orderly" that there was no liberty.

Then came the colt revolver, which could be made cheaply and voluminously enough that the routinely taking of liberty by state governments was no longer a routine option. But it took a war for many in some states to accept that.

Maybe you can use "liberal guns" to take liberty from those who do not say what you like. As I see it though, the solution to bad speech is more speech.

So do you believe, Anonymous and Christie O, that liberty should be taken because of "bad speech"? Or because somebody with no evil intention owns a piece of metal, plastic and/or wood that gives you fear?

Ranger Lou said...

America is at an awkward place, it may be too late to stop liberal tyranny, but it's too early to kill the bastards.

larry6246 said...

Banning assault weapons is not banning guns altogether. It is banning a single type of gun, only and obviously. ...No one is taking gun rights from anyone. We are taking away the use of one type of gun to ensure the safety of our children as they will likely shoot each other if given access to them.

How do carry on a conversation with this type logic?

Ikaika said...

More knee-jerks in this post from as far away as Lagos to right here in US of A. It is truly amazing how many self-proclaimed liberals didn't bother to read the article, but moved right ahead to erecting a pyre in the town square.
Keep up the good work Tom. Frithguild if you get a meaningful reply I'll eat my hat!

Don Paolucci di Catania aka ikaika

Anonymous said...

liberals called for the murder of George Bush and Dick Cheny year after year, and no one was arrested.

Why not? Why are liberals so intolerant, evil and violent?

Liberal celebrate murderers of millions like Castro, Che and Mao, and Stalin.

The star of Django brags about killing hundreds of white people for fun and everyone, except conservatives, laugh.

Why are liberals so evil and violent?

And Eric Holder's own employees said it is their job to let "minority" people like the Black Panthers slide when they call for the murder of George Zimmerman and arrest white people for the same words.

And by the way-- 10 percent of the world is white. 90 percent is not white. So stop lying about who is a minority.

Roadkill said...

Well, I'd someone disagree that liberals are cowards. Cowards exist in all camps. I'd say liberals tend to be ignorant of the subject of guns. If they were, not maybe we could do some things that could save lives without infringing on rights. I think we need to have a national 'Take a Liberal to the Range' day. Let them shoot semi-automatic rifles and handguns along with bolt actions, lever actions, and pump actions. At least then maybe we can get past some stuff with that common knowledge and maybe figure out something useful.

Big Time Jones aka CR said...

The logic here leaves me without words.

Tom said...

To anonymous:

what exactly makes you believe you need a gun to protect yourself from me? Was it my love of Cajun food that tipped you off?

Blegoo said...

Tom: you say (and I quote):

"...But I'm not one of the people out there demanding a politician's head on a pike..."

According to the left, there's NOTHING wrong with that.

“[I] want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick,” Erik Loomis, a professor at the University of Rhode Island (URI), tweeted.

Of course, you have to be a professor, or somehow related to academia, or media, or any such groups. Then... you get defended:

Tom said...

OK fair enough. But I'm still not one of the people who's demanding a politician's head on a pike.

I think greater gun control is a big mistake that makes law abiding people less safe. I have lots of data to support that position, that is being ignored in this current initiative (I believe) because it stands int he way of more power for our politicians.

But just because some wild eyed academic thinks it's OK to advocate violence doesn't mean that I do. I'm a civilized man after all, and he's ... well... an academic.

Steven P. Beaver said...

Why are the usual commenters on this blog arguing with idiots? They are only here because some liberal blowhard suggested that you needed put down. You probably only drew his attention because your posts are often timely, informative, and insightful. As far as taking away our guns, let the day of reckoning come. When it comes to surrendering my rights, I'd rather bring down t the whole world than comply. My family and children need defended from tyranny, and who better to do it than I?