To quote G.K. Chesterton :
And then, last but the reverse of least, there plunged in
all the people who think they can solve a problem they
cannot understand by abolishing everything that has
contributed to it. We all know these people. If a barber
has cut his customer's throat because the girl has
changed her partner for a dance or donkey ride on
Hampstead Heath, there are always people to protest
against the mere institutions that led up to it. This
would not have happened if barbers were abolished, or if
cutlery were abolished, or if the objection felt by
girls to imperfectly grown beards were abolished, or if
the girls were abolished, or if heaths and open spaces
were abolished, or if dancing were abolished, or if
donkeys were abolished. But donkeys, I fear, will never
The obsession is with the "one single cause", but more importantly the opportunity for every demagogue to revel in vilifying their preferred scapegoats. Nothing gets fixed, and people wonder why.
Example of this abound. Let's take the corrupt cops. Not every cop is corrupt, and the police as an institution is (by many) considered a good thing. Corrupt cops are also responsible for their own actions.
On the other hand, corruption / bad actions on behalf of the police, while not necessarily "rewarded" is usually only met with wrist slapping. In one instance that I can recall, a police office was caught on tape offering accept sex as payment to make an arrest warrant go away. Said officer's punishment was just to get fired. How many police officers in Canada have been punished as a result of the G20 debacle or the handling of the Vancouver Olympics security? What about the trigger-happy LAPD?
Society has some blame if they impart a message to would-be perpetrators that the consequences of bad behaviour are not very severe.
In this case, the person scoped their statement to (presumably) the society that they are most familiar with, yet this still managed to elicit a response that the scope was not broad enough!
I agree with the sentiment of your post, but as a non-American this one jumps out at me. I don't think it fits the rest of your argument, adding more control and checks for something as dangerous as gun ownership is a good thing.. in particular, it would take a lot to convince me that private ownership of assault rifles is anything but bad news.
I have read some arguments about private protection against excessive government excesses, but I don't really buy it.
In the US, there is a pattern of politicians pushing for their pet gun control measures after some mass shooting, regardless of whether or not it would have stopped the incident that justifies the legislative push. The most recent example is the reaction to the Charleston church shooting, where some politicians pushed for an "assault weapons" ban (which is political term about cosmetics—these are not machineguns) and background checks for private party sales, despite the shooter not using a weapon that would have been covered by the proposed ban, purchased from a licensed gun dealer after passing a standard background check. While universal background checks are arguably a good thing regardless of what motivated the push, the "assault weapons" ban is pure political nonsense. Such guns are almost never used in crime and previous bans were shown to not have any effect on crime. When a gun is used in a crime, it is almost always a handgun.
It would be costly, but that sort of licensing, even if done rather clumsily, would make it far more difficult for the wrong people to acquire weapons, while staying in line with the 2nd amendment and preserving gun ownership by law abiding citizens.
Oddly, the NRA seems more even more opposed to licensing than they are on restricting magazine capacity. Maybe they agree that it would be [too] effective!
"Psychological and temperament screening" is a tremendously subjective thing (psych is a pretty soft science on the best of days), and not something I'm comfortable with hanging a constitutional right off of.
It needs to be strictly objective criterion, along the lines of if X then Y.
Now being able to demonstrate safety, I would be 100% cool with, because then we're licensing people, not weapons, and doesn't carry the possible abuse factor of firearms registries. The FCC example given upthread is a great model. You go to a safety class, demonstrate that you know how to operate a gun safely based on objective criteria, and you get a card or a paper or something that entitles you to buy whatever. You have to re-up it every 10 years or so.
Hell, let the NRA run it and charge a token fee. Would give them an actual meaningful place in the discourse instead of the "government's coming for your guns!" scare tactics that they play every few years.
This rings alarm-bells with me, let's have a look:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rampage_killers_%28Ame... says (sorted by year)
>In September 2012, Rodger visited a shooting range to train himself in firing handguns. In November 2012, he purchased his first handgun, a Glock 34 pistol, in Goleta, after doing research on handguns and judging the Glock 34 to be "an efficient and highly accurate weapon", as documented in his manifesto.
>The Glock 9mm pistol used in the shooting was legally purchased by Vargas in 2010 from a local gun shop, and he had a concealed carry permit for it.
>On May 22, 2012, Holmes purchased a Glock 22 pistol at a Gander Mountain shop in Aurora. Six days later, on May 28, he bought a Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun at a Bass Pro Shops in Denver.
> Following an incident later in 2007 involving his stepfather, a restraining order was filed against him, barring him from possessing firearms. The order lasted a year and had expired at the time of the shooting.
(Seems to imply the guns were his? Can't see in article)
>Loughner allegedly purchased the 9mm Glock pistol used in the shooting from a Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson on November 30, 2010.
>He got out, shot, and wounded a woman on a motorcycle with a Norinco Mak 90 semiautomatic rifle.
(doesn't say who owned it)
> Items found on Wong's body included a hunting knife, in the waistband of his pants; a bag of ammunition, which was tied around his neck; and two semi-automatic pistols (a .45-caliber Beretta Px4 Storm and a 9mm Beretta 92FS Vertec Inox, matching the serial numbers on his New York State pistol license)
So of these 7 rampage shootings, 5 were done by people who used their own gun, one is implied (possibly not?).
Furthermore, some of these had past known mental health issues: Elliot Rodger, Scott Evans Dekraai had a restraining order filed against him, Jared Lee Loughner was told to get his mental health evaluated if he wanted to return to university (later diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic), Eduardo Sencion was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia a few decades before the shooting, James Eagan Holmes was seeing several psychologists of which one tried to warn his campus police, the others have unknown motives.
Unless you have a foolproof method of determining criminal behavior a-priori OR you're fromthe department of pre-crime, how exactly do you expect this to work in practice?
I think many people have a fundamental misunderstanding of the enumerated rights of the amended Constitution. I don't need permission to exercise any of those rights and they AREN'T granted by the government, only recognized by it.
I don't need a First Amendment license. Why would I need a Second Amendment license?
I don't need one, and never claimed to have one. A method does not need to be foolproof in order to be effective.
The existing procedure for screening police officers, though it has some flaws, works remarkably well overall. Thus, I suspect that a similar procedure, applied to average citizens, would also be effective.
> I don't need a First Amendment license. Why would I need a Second Amendment license?
When your free speech impacts others in your community, you often do. For example, amateur radio licensing is required to broadcast your free speech, and you may need permission from a zoning board to make a large religious display in your yard. Here is Scalia from DC v. Heller, a landmark case in the right to bare arms:
> nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms
It seems to me that a reasonable condition and qualification for the purchase of a weapon is to be of a stable mind, and have the proven ability to operate it safely and accurately.
The license would not restrict any law abiding citizen from going through the qualification process, and the cost would be subsidized, so how exactly are your rights being infringed?
Your understanding of basic civil liberties is so fundamentally flawed that I can't even understand how you arrived at those conclusions.
> The existing procedure for screening police officers, though it has some flaws, works remarkably well overall.
I don't have a constitutional right to be a police officer. I would also argue with your characterization of "works remarkably well overall". You're making an assertion with no supporting facts but since we're going to play that game. There are close to 300 MILLION legally owned firearms in the United States today. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a rampant gun violence problem with legally owned firearms. So I'd argue that the existing regime works pretty damn well for civilian ownership.
Now compare that record with the record of accidental police shootings (not unarmed suspect shot; think...I didn't hit the right person or/shot killed a person even given my training) and let me know which looks worse to you.
> When your free speech impacts others in your community, you often do.
NO. YOU DON'T. That's PRECISELY the point. The impact of my speech on my community is EXPRESSLY protected by the Bill of Rights. Political speech is given the HIGHEST level of protection. That's why racists can march down main street and call for all minorities to be expelled from the USA. It's why someone can picket a legal business and complain about its actions.
> The license would not restrict any law abiding citizen from going through the qualification process, and the cost would be subsidized, so how exactly are your rights being infringed?
Would you like an example of how this infringes rights?
This is code for "we need a reason to ban anyone we don't like without that pesky requirement of convincing a court".
Example 1 of this is Alabama's concealed handgun license scheme, which up until recently was may-issue (the state is permitted to give a license, but not required). In practice, that meant that if you were white, you always got one. If you were black, not so much.
Or David Cameron's recent gem: 'For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.'
They tried that in a few places, it usually just translated to "black people can't own guns" or discrimination based on the screener's impression of that person. "Screening for temperament" is akin to literacy or other such tests before voting.
Anyone can lie/spin a form test, similar to the customs form you get when you fly into the country, everything else is subjective and grounds for a discrimination law suit.
That's probably because licensing creates a list of who has them. They're afraid such a list will make it easy to take them away at a later date.
BTW, I kind of regret bringing up such a hot topic as an example rather than thinking harder for examples. Now I recall the attempt by media companies to get DRM into every A2D converter to plug the "analog hole" - that's technically impossible and it never went anywhere, but it's another example of the thinking.
Hand your rifle to a friend in Washington state? That's a (unconstitutional) felony.
Some rifles are classified as unrestricted don't have to be registered, while other rifles which accept the exact same rounds and magazines are classified restricted. Licenses must be obtained to even move them, let alone lend, give, or sell to someone else.
At least advances in manufacturing technology will make this nonsense impractical eventually.
I have a friend who is a machinist. He made himself a fully working replica of a 3 pounder black powder cannon (shoots it at festive and the like).
As the cannon ball it shoots travels at less than 500 fps, it is classified as a pellet gun and doesn't have to be registered.
We are in eastern Canada.
Being able to create any arm, any where, at any time!
What's next? Background checks for 3D printers? Maybe some DRM to keep us safe?
Are these people that just have the "evil bit" flipped to true? Tossing around the word "evil" just seems like you're asking for a politicized "debate."
I was under the impression that the AR-15 is very readily available? Do these not count as assault rifles?
The main difference between an AR-15 and a hunting rifle is that the hunting rifle tends to use a more powerful cartridge. The rest is cosmetic.
The labels on these things end up being one of the core problems. What is an assault rifle? What is a high-cap magazine? Certainly these terms are familiar to those of us with experience with firearms. But to hear politicians throw the terms around, you'd think they had no clue (and I suppose they often don't), even though they supposedly have "experts" on hand to help them make their decisions. What it (usually) boils down to is people with a decision already made going into the "decision-making process" and justifying their already-made decision with whatever materials and personnel they have on hand.
Which is the wrong way to run anything, let alone a government.
The legalities of what kind of rifle you're allowed to use to hunt what where and when and the particular ammo and how big of magazine can be used are somewhat arbitrary and vary from state to state and game animal to game animal. I think at least 48 at states allow some form of hunting with semiautomatic rifles.
In some parts of the country "Bubba'd" SKS guns are pretty popular for hunting deer I think. (Google image search "bubba gun sks" for a general idea of what's going on - converting a wood stock and 10-round stripper clip magazine to polymer with detachable box magazines, which is a pretty good illustration of how the same gun can look a lot different.)
Actually it's the other way 'round - the AR-15 came first; the M16 is based on it. Also, detachable magazines are often cited as another requirement for classifying a rifle as an assault rifle.
Politicians think encryption is in the first category.
Edit: given how this discussion is going, I think we're back to the idea that encryption should be classified as a weapon in the US and subject to second amendment protection, as the 2nd is much more strongly defended than the 4th or 5th or even the 1st. (This argument obviously doesn't make any sense in the UK, where we should lean on article 1 and 6 ECHR). A country where you can have an AR-15 but not AES-CBC makes no sense, but we have to work with the politics as they are.
Not necessarily; I don't think they're quite stupid enough to think that encryption is not needed. (Perhaps once upon a time that was the case, when encryption was a munition regulated by ITAR.)
Rather, politicians are under the impression that it is, or should be, possible to have encryption that protects against anyone except their own government, that that's something they should get to ask for in the first place, and that that's just as good as un-broken encryption. None of those things are true, but good luck telling a politician that something necessarily needs to be beyond their control in order to function correctly.
This -- until people realise that their online banking is not secure without encryption. That puts it firmly into the second category for many people.
(It's my experience that people are more worried about their money than their dick pics.)
For some time, only online banking was allowed to use strong encryption on the web. There was a special kind of certificate, which could be issued only to financial organizations, which told browsers they were allowed to use strong cipher suites.
For one thing, most people have at least some money, while the desire to photograph one's genitals (and especially, after having done so, to keep the results private) is relatively rare.
I never understood that position. Based on the argument that encryption is a mechanism for speech, why not classify it as speech?
U.S. armed violence has a lot more to it than the availability of weapons; statistics are easy to misinterpret as well, since they're really just the proportion of violent crimes that are committed with one particular tool.
Here in Canada, we have higher instance of violence with knives, but unsurprisingly almost the same proportion of violence with guns, despite fairly hefty controls.
The U.S. really just seems to have more violent crime in general than many other countries, and my understanding is that this has been true since well before anyone else had harsh restrictions on the legal ownership and use of firearms.
> I have read some arguments about private protection against excessive government excesses, but I don't really buy it.
The theme of the article is these excesses; if you're not making the connection here, you're never going to make it. Also, incidentally, that's the reason it's in the constitution; I hear that it's an important document over there, but what would I know?
The other good reason for widespread private ownership of firearms is protection against occupation by an invading force, which history has shown to be an unpopular tactic; though perhaps this is not comparable. IIRC the imperial Japanese even stated this as why they weren't interested in occupying U.S. soil.
Consequently the best firearm a guerrilla fighter can own is a high powered hunting rifle with a good scope. Also, the average hunting rifle sold in the U.S. is better than the sniper rifles we recovered in Iraq. Nothing is more demoralizing to an invading force than snipers, except perhaps anti-personnel mines.
More significantly, which countries do you think are in a position to attack the lower 48 states? Canada and Mexico. Can't see that happening any time soon. Sadly, an American on American conflict seems far more likely than a foreign invasion, but even that would require a a civil society and social order break down of unprecedented scale.
That's not deer hunting, that's duck hunting.
> Here in Canada, we have higher instance of violence with knives, but unsurprisingly almost the same proportion of violence with guns, despite fairly hefty controls.
Firearm homicide in the US per 100k: 3.55 
Firearm homicide in Canada per 100k: 0.51 
Homicide rate in the US per 100k: 4.7 
Homicide rate in Canada per 100k: 1.6 
Proportion of homicides from firearms in the US: 3.55/4.7 = 76%
Proportion of homicides from firearms in Canada: 0.51/1.6 = 32%
Not sure what to make of the numbers. But it doesn't seem like Canada has "the same proportion of violence with guns".
Actually it is quite easy. For evidence, see
>Firearm homicide in the US per 100k
>Proportion of homicides from firearms
That you can so easily switch between murder and homicide makes the numbers really easy to fudge to most people who don't consider the differences between the two.
EDIT: Don't read this as snarky disagreement. Rather, Im just confused and genuinely want to understand.
This is not to say that these other issues should be ignored. Having a gun in the home is more likely to make a suicide attempt result in death and that is an issue that should be discussed and dealt with. But it should be done so openly and recognizing it is a separate, though related, issue.
Consider two things,
> in particular, it would take a lot to convince me that private ownership of assault rifles is anything but bad news.
The technological different between an 'assault rifle' and a semi-automatic hunting rifle is very small. As Cody Wilson has demonstrated, with a few 3d-printed parts you can turn a simple rifle - which is already restricted by law from being an assault rifle - into a fully blown assault rifle with a relatively small amount of technical knowledge.
The same was true for decades with anyone with metal machining skills.
So how much of a difference will it make if the tech available is merely restricted and not banned? If you can easily modified the technology?
b) The proposed encryption laws must insist that they won't interfere with American corporations from creating, selling, and exporting encryption to valid purchasers. The development of better-and-better encryption will not stop. It will still be one of Americas greatest exported technologies. An industry the US dominates (software).
So now taking that into consideration, will it be feasible to stop criminals from getting access to encryption?
Similar to encryption, America is the largest exporter of weapons in the world - unlike the UK or Scandinavian countries.
The simple fact is that there will be a huge market of both weapons and people (with specialized-skills) which will leak their guns/knowledge onto the black market. Combine that with the internet and decentralized tech and you have a very challenging regulation environment.
At best, it will be become yet another 'arms race' between criminals/police that is ultimately a net-negative investment for society (see: drugs).
This. Also consider there are people with machine shops all over the country that make AR-15's from scratch. These are so-called "custom" firearms. Would we have to go around shutting down all machine shops if we outlawed "black" (named for the blueing) guns?
if you want to stop some crazy people killing with these "assault guns" (why not called home defense guns?), you should focus on removing given dangerous individual from society, and not trying remove their access to weapons. Anything can be used to kill, including scissors, saw, pipe, baseball, knife or just good old pure hands. with current logic, all these things should get outlawed too.
No statistics in hand, but I am damn sure the amount of people killed by legally purchased "assault rifles" compared to say hit & run with cars is neglible. with similar logic I say ban cars! (and it would do so much good in other ways...)
P.S. one last thing - pro-gun-ban people completely disregard gun shooting as a means for hunting and as a fun activity at range. Many weapons, including mentioned AR-15 (civilian version of popular M16) will never be shot outside shooting range. Why use higher caliber guns instead of some puny .22? Because it's more fun!
Ah wait, we're talking maybe to same people that banned almost harmless marihuana and happily kept tobacco and alcohol roaming free on markets...
DISCLAIMER: I never owned any handgun that would require any form of registration, yet before having strong statements about what should/shouldn't be banned, I at least educate myself. Gun ban laws are, apart for some corner cases, just pure crowd idiocy and hypocrisy.
All the things you listed require close distance, physical contact, possibility of attacker responding, and almost literally: blood on your hands. Any range weapon provides distance, more "comfort", and a higher degree of safety for the attacker.
If we can reduce that disconnect from what people are doing, then why not?
>P.S. one last thing - pro-gun-ban people completely disregard gun shooting as a means for hunting and as a fun activity at range. Many weapons, including mentioned AR-15 (civilian version of popular M16) will never be shot outside shooting range. Why use higher caliber guns instead of some puny .22? Because it's more fun!
From my understanding, removing these guns will save lives, at least one. Why is having fun more important than peoples lives?
I genuinely do not understand. Things like Marihuana only `hurt` the user for the most part where guns, if they hurt someone, is almost always not the user.
That said, I think our data is clear enough. As soon as we took the guns out of the streets, violence started to increase in a much bigger rate, and we are now almost in a civil war situation. Looks like the US stereotypical idea of a good men with a gun being the best deterrence to a bad men with a gun bears some truth.
Excluding suicides, the rest is what I consider the cost of our country owning guns. We will never have the utopia of zero gun violence with 300,000,000 privately owned firearms in this country and the 2nd amendment isn't changing anytime soon.
What we could reduce though are the problems I outlined first. Poverty, education, drug use, and the jail cycle. Those are harder problems than just pointing at guns though, so they don't get suggested as much.
And if amendments are permanent, well, then prohibition should still be in force.
Preamble to the (confusingly named) Bill of Rights:
The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.
They limit government by defining, in the fundamental law, rights that are prortected against government encroachment. Those aren't mutually exclusive alternatives, one is the means by which the other is achieved.
> That's why we call them inalienable rights. You cant "amend away" these things.
The quasi-religious belief that there are rights that exist "in nature" prior to law and which all governments are obliged to observe is a popular one -- and was with the founders -- and part of the basis for the use of the term "inalienable right". However, the exact parameters of such "inalienable" rights are far from uniformly agreed even among those who subscribe to the belief that they exist. You absolutely can alter which of the rights that some people believe to be inalienable are protected by a government through amendments; note, for instance, that quite a lot of people from the time of the founding through (and no doubt past) the time when this was, in law, settled at the point of a bayonet by the 13th Amendment, thought that the widely-accepted-as-inalienable right to property included the right to hold human beings -- and particularly for whites to hold blacks -- as personal property.
Yes and no. The point of the "inalienable rights" was that they were given to people by God, and therefore nobody - not king or president, not parliament or congress - has the authority to take them away. They may have the power to declare that we don't have them, but they don't have the legitimate authority to do so.
But now we (as a society) no longer believe in God, and no longer believe that we are made in His image. When that changed, "inalienable rights" (in the original meaning) died - except for those who still believe in God as creator of humans.
Sure, it can stand as a moral axiom on its own (and, heck, even when it is used in the context of a supernatural power, that's not really a logical validation/justification, simply another element of the story, and they still are independent moral axioms.)
OTOH, it makes the fact that they are moral axioms and not grounded in anything else a bit more obvious than the "God says so" version. Its pretty easy for people to reject bare moral axioms that other people offer.
A deist would say that humans inherently have those rights (from God), but that human governments and societies have illegitimately suppressed them. You (I suspect) would also say that human governments and societies have illegitimately suppressed them. But given that humans often have not enjoyed those rights, what basis (other than simply asserting that it is so) do you have for claiming that humans have those rights?
I gather that you find that argument convincing, but I suspect it's because you already accept the conclusion. To someone who does not already accept your conclusion, your argument is not likely to be very convincing.
> Do you think some people are born as subjects?
Yes, they are. Look at history; even look around today. It's not right, it's not moral, but it clearly is true that it happens.
I agree with you that people have inalienable or natural rights. However, I claim that your position does not give you an adequate basis for believing that. And your position certainly does not give you an adequate basis for persuading anyone who does not already accept it.
Perhaps I expressed this badly in my previous post, but that's what I'm trying to say.
Great. So what's your reason?
That doesn't mean you can't change it. You realize your constitution is pretty recent right?
'Sides, everybody's far more polite when everyone's packin heat.
For Americans at least, that mentality has evolved over time as we further distance ourselves from the Constitution and its Amendments; trying our best to ignore their very clear limits on the capabilities of each branch of government. In today's American society, a diverse (and often mutually disagreeing) set of groups see the limits set in the Constitution as quaint and outdated, too inflexible for the modern world. Some see the Fourth Amendment as unreasonably limiting the effectiveness of national security and law enforcement. Some see the Second Amendment as a relic of a more violent world. Some see the First Amendment as intolerant of intolerance. Some see the Ninth and Tenth Amendments as needlessly frustrating the federal government's ability to quickly "fix" problems.
Today, I find the Constitution—and more importantly, those who bring it up in polite political conversation—to as often as not be marginalized as "extreme" or, worse, comedic. There is a rough equivalence of "Constitution" with "Murica" (or similar slang insults depending on the point of view of the person who sees the Constitution as an irksome trump-card used to roadblock their agenda).
As someone who believes the Constitution was a work of genius that facilitated this country's ascent, I also feel that for all our modern failings, the Constitution is one of the remaining bulwarks helping keep us afloat. I am sad when I see it attacked so successfully and relentlessly by myriad disagreeing groups. Those who seek facile, overreaching, and quick government solutions to complex problems routinely want to ignore the limitations set by the Constitution, not realizing that deliberation and careful thought were and should remain a cornerstone of our governmental model.
This isn't anything new at all. The entire core debate of federalism versus anti-federalism (or to put it in perspective of historical figures, the Alexander Hamilton way against the Thomas Jefferson way) has been something going on since before the country was even conceived, and it goes on to this date.
Your portrayal of constitutional originalism being some gold standard from the "good ol' days" that we have since fallen out of grace from, is thus, completely ahistorical.
Are you saying you disagree that the Constitution is considered less relevant today than it was in the earlier history of the United States? If so, that's fine; we simply disagree.
Certainly the past were not "the good ol' days," and nothing about what I said is to suggest the past was a better time than the present. Technological progress alone makes today immeasurably more luxurious. Rather, my point was that the Constitution and the limits have been diluted with each circumventing event made for the sake of facile law-making and problem-fixing. And today the Constitution is more often than not seen as quaint.
Maybe you're right; maybe the percentage of Americans who see the Constitution as outdated and irrelevant has remained steady over time. I don't have polling data. But from my personal experience, even in my lifetime, the marginalization of arguments based on the constitutionality of laws appears to have grown. It now seems that bringing up the Constitution as a roadblock to new lawmaking is considered a tired, predictable, and ultimately weak talking point in a debate.
If anything, our First Amendment rights are now more robust than they were in the past. We have almost nothing like a modern-day equivalent to Anthony Comstock. The amount of obscenities you can get away with these days is higher thanks to people like Al Goldstein, Lenny Bruce and Larry Flynt setting historical free speech precedents. Labor movement violence is a thing of the past. The sexual revolution means pornography went from obscene to "meh, whatever". Film censorship no longer happens as much as it did in the period before the 1960s. The export restrictions on cryptography have been heavily softened to the point of being almost practically irrelevant. Left-wing politics, though hardly major, are no longer subject to any real suppression beyond punditry's ignorance.
As for the other amendments you listed, I presume they're in reference to mass surveillance. In which case, civil asset forfeiture dates back to maritime law, NSA has been documented to intercept ingoing telegraphs as far back as 1945, Operation Mockingbird had the CIA meddle with U.S. media, FBI has had COINTELPRO, DCSNet and other operations, so on and so forth. Nothing here is new.
You're viewing the past through exceptionally rose-tinted glasses, honestly.
This is not really true. Left-wing political groups are still actively suppressed by police organizations on a regular basis, as well as Islamic groups (religious and secular), LGBT rights groups, and generally anyone involved in protesting. Police see protest groups as antagonists and act to disrupt them pre-emptively if possible.
The sources for this claim are broad; I would recommend looking into the leaked maryland state police spying documents (which show infiltration of non-violent activist groups), the FBI, local police, and bank conspiracies to disrupt the Occupy movement (long before any actions in the real world had been conducted by any group identifying as Occupy), and the Green Scare.
Combine this with "free speech zones," protest permits, and other before-the-fact restrictions on free assembly, and you can see very clearly how political speech outside the mainstream is suppressed in the United States.
(Interestingly, right-wing groups, white nationalism groups, and similar are not often targets of these investigations and are often protected by police during their protests. In many cases this is the result of local connections, but you have to wonder why animal activists are such a higher priority than white nationalist extremists, especially after Charleston.)
Of these goals, the first is no longer relevant (the media keeps leftists and similar out of politics far more effectively than periodically purging the State Department of leftist party members ever did). The second is very real and continues to be accomplished by various police agencies. Because of modern "terrorism" laws, various methods of protest are criminalized as terrorism (mostly pertaining to protests that disrupt businesses, like picket lines or sit-ins), and so protest groups can find themselves targeted by fusion centers, special anti-protest task forces, and federal policing agencies (like the DHS).
Finally, the last goal continues to be enshrined today. Free speech zones and militarized police presence at protests makes protesting a much less empowering act than it was in the 60s and 70s -- imagine if Norman Morrison had burned himself in a free speech pen miles from the Pentagon! Going to a protest now entails locking oneself in a cage and being stared down by beefy, roided-up cops that are actively trying to attack protesters and see protesters as an enemy force. Use of grand jury investigations, fusion centers, task forces, entrapment, and finally, the persistence of social media, makes it hard to join nonviolent groups without the fear of "something" coming up that could ruin you for life. The programming in American educational systems about "keeping Facebook friendly for colleges and employers" supports this self-censorship.
If you look into what is actually going on, possibly by researching some of the topics I mentioned in my last comment, you'll find that modern suppression of non-mainstream politics is indeed comparable to the red scare. The fact that it no longer occurs to such fanfare indicates that such behavior has been normalized on the part of the state.
Nevertheless, and perhaps in part because the Constitution has in fact been routinely steamrolled in the past, it seems that bringing it up as a counterargument to any law today is just short of pointless.
Often banishment by mandate is conceptually easier to grasp than actually fixing the problem. Take any complex problem, for example hand guns and gun violence, you can try to fix the inanimate thing "guns" or the actual thing "gun violence" but often "gun violence" is really just "violence", rooted in a lifetime of hurts and little access to support, but "gun" is something you can ban from the market. Easy to walk up to someone and say "you have a gun, that is banned." into the jailhouse you go, it is much harder to walk up to say "you have unresolved anger management issues with an inability to control those impulses with respect to your fellow humans, into the sanitarium you go."
The latter case fixes the problem and the former case fixes one of the symptoms. We all know that angry people without regard for human life don't need a gun to kill people, they can do that with cars, or baseball bats, or rocks for that matter. But it is easier as a politician to try to patch over the symptom because sometimes you can make that happen.
One of the problems is that we can't figure out a better system of using humans to govern humans. Do you think we'll ever develop the fabled Sci-Fi computer overlord to govern us? Will it end in the traditional "disaster of ignorance", where the members of society return to a child-like state, and are unable to maintain the great machine we've built?
There are a lot of things we can improve, though. First past the post voting systems mathematically guarantee polarized two-party systems aligned on emotionally charged but relatively inconsequential issues. So we should switch to approval voting.
Having the same person purport to represent our interests in everything from which soda sizes we're allowed to drink to whether we can make our own end-of-life medical care decisions leads to incompetent science denialists running the government's science committee, gross ignorance of the consequences of their actions w.r.t. encryption, etc. So we should design a system with separate representatives for each technical domain, combined with an optional directly democratic override on a vote-by-vote basis.
These problems pop up with my example:
* You still need someone to centralize the execution; people are going to want a hierarchy and to have one person at the top.
* Having 5 mayors means paying 5 times as many people (but they'll be able to work much more in depth in their subject area)
Actually, it seems more recently the trend is to do it; and then make it legal retroactively.
In other words, it's a naïve approach.
For example, take the Digital copyright problem in the music industry. Almost anyone would agree musicians should get paid; so legislators feel they have to 'solve it'. And indeed legislators can 'solve it' using just that naive approach: make it illegal, put a huge fine to it. So when you download a music, you will consider the risk of getting caught. The issue then is obvious: if you only legislate, the chance of getting caught will be very low, so most people won't care. But if you set the fine/punishment high enough, it's pretty much a given people will start being careful. But how much is enough? If you have a 1 in a million chance of getting caught this has to be astronomically large: if people simply thought about expected value (we don't exactly, just to illustrate), you'd need to charge millions per infringement. It's a totally unreasonable punishment, basically a terrible system. This is (an example of) why symptomatic legislation/treatment often doesn't work: it's grossly ineffective/inefficient, it's usually best (but way more complex/demanding) to address the root causes.
So the best solution to terrorism/criminal activity is obviously not a surveillance state, but unfortunately it works to an extent. I feel legislators don't have at their disposal enough tools to handle the complexity of better solutions. It would be good if we could involve academia/industry way sooner in direct collaboration with legislators, reaching effective solutions -- I feel science is indispensable in finding them for most complex cases.
Remember what happened when the Federal government tried to get some farmer to pay for the grazing land he was using? People several states away showed up with rifles, and they had no skin in the matter. If you tried to take their rifles, they (and many others) would try their best to kill you.
If America were full of Europeans, perhaps it would work. It isn't, so any notion of gun banning in the US is nothing more than wishful thinking at best.
Try, if you can, to provide an example of genocide that wasn't preceded by mass-disarmament of the targeted populace (assuming they hadn't been previously disarmed).
What jail sentences for terrorism offences did they recieve? Or were they shot by police? Or were they white people?
(In other countries, you can't just show up to political protests with weapons!)
I think you know the answer to that. The answer is kind of my point, isn't it?
These people are dangerous to push around because they have guns. They realize this. They are not going to relinquish that leverage without a fight.
This works until a politically opposing group shows up with guns as well.
Would you argue that the group most subject to being pushed around by the state in the US - young black men - would be better off arming themselves?
Could you back your statement with any data?
THe only thing I got proves otherwise:
As an example of large differences in ratio, Finland has a fairly high gun ownership rate of around 55 guns per 100 people, but only 5 handguns per 100 people. And while it's common to have a rifle in your truck in rural areas, you can't legally carry around a handgun in the middle of Helsinki.
I just wanted to debunk this myth. As you pointed out there is more to it.
I was thinking a lot and I think any sort of gun ownership should be tied to employment and mental status. This is the easiest to filter out people like most of the mass shooters and criminal elements. I am not sure what is required in Finland to own a gun (any kind) but I am sure that it is not like here (at least in some states). There is an entire industry built on buying guns in states that anybody can get one and smuggling it to states with more strict laws. This just helps the criminals to get armed while exposing civilians to violence.
In Switzerland some of the ex-army people can keep they assault rifles and this drives down the chance of violent crime because the criminals know that there can be a trained soldier in the next house who won't hesitate to use the weapon. I try to dig up the study about this.
Please don't use downvoting for disagreement it is not supposed to be used for that. If you disagree reply and show the points where you disagree with me.
In addition, I don't know of any European nations that have outright banned guns, so that point isn't entirely correct.
> Not sure why you brought guns into this argument other than it being a pet issue.
No, it's an entirely valid one and fits the discussion.
Politicians want to ban/control both of them for their own misguided, naive reasons, and in both cases doing so is impossible.
The notion that you should be able to communicate in a way that your government can't monitor if necessary is a comparatively new one, and one you will find an awful lot of citizens don't agree with.
Today, if you want to securely plan some crime, you set up PGP or whatever and use cryptography. In years past, you might have used a pay phone, or mailed a letter to a neighbor or relative. You could come up with a relatively simple code based on some book you both owned that would be effectively impossible to crack. There were lots of things you could do to avoid spying, if you wanted to.
Historically the government has not been able to automatically monitor everybody's communications if they wanted to, with just resource restrictions preventing it from happening en masse. Historically, the government has always been able to monitor communications only if the targets didn't take adequate precautions. What's changing is that the necessary precautions are simultaneously becoming much more difficult (planning your crimes on a pay phone won't save you anymore) and much easier (the crazy math needed to protect yourself is largely automated).
Really, though, I think the police should suck it up and work with it. Used to be if you wanted to tap someone's phone you'd actually go out and mess with their wires to add a physical tap. The same idea still works! Get a warrant and add a keylogger to their PC, or a microphone to their car, or whatever you need to get the info. Historically, spying on people always took legwork.
I think the US mail is more secure, and it's been delivered by the government since way before computers existed. Sure they now scan the meta-data, but the content goes undisturbed except for specific interventions.
When Comey says that "two sides are talking past each other" who are on the other side? Because it's inappropriate for him to propose "two sides" are crypto experts and non-experts should be given equal weighting in the debate as if effectively breaking encryption has only mainly upsides.
Of course when you're dealing with a hammer, everything will look like a nail.
So to their petulant cries of being unable to read our communications anymore, I say: fuck 'em. Time to earn your keep now, boys. You're not going to destroy our Internet just so you can keep feeding the mass-surveillance beast.
Idle law enforcement is a terrible thing. When law enforcement has spare time, they will find ways to occupy it. Sometimes it will be by overzealous enforcement of low level laws and other times their idleness will be used an a pretext for politicians to pass even more micro-managing laws.
It's this kind of thing that led to women being arrested for wearing bathing suits that exposed their calves. It's this kind of thing that resulted in young men being arrested for the bad fashion decision of sagging jeans.
When they complain that something will make their job more difficult, I say good. I want law enforcement to be difficult and time consuming so that it loses its luster for the people who want to join up for all of the wrong reasons.
The NSA has almost no purpose in practical government.
But the NSA does do a lot and has a mission. It's the same mission US law enforcement always invents for itself. The NSA provides lots of leads to cops to arrest innocent drug dealers. Aside from parallel construction, the NSA does the same thing most FBI, DEA, and Border Patrol dollars go to: small time non-violent drug offender persecution.
What Angela Merkel has to say may be irrelevant, but having insights into trade deals before they are signed certainly isn't.
Power always corrupts. The big lie is "No, our motives are to keep you safe, and [list of the usual bad things] can't possibly happen this time."
And there's the nut. The concern of law enforcement is not protection of citizens, it's ease of prosecution and resume building.
No one can claim credit for a general environment of ongoing secure communication, but cops and prosecutors can definitely claim credit for specific arrests and prosecutions, even if that general security environment is all but destroyed.
In fact, the more breaches, the more crimes, the more cops and prosecutors are needed. Job protection.
From their point of view it might be quite a good trade-off, because they probably think it's far more useful for them to spy and hack US and UK citizens than it is for China and Russia.
And they also probably think that they, the elites, could use something better than what everyone else uses, too. So there's no negative to this.
Nobody would call the US an "empire" if all it did was keep in its own territory and stay out of other country's internal affairs. Nobody calls Canada an empire for example. But the US keeps deciding to outright attack other countries or uses the CIA to subvert internal politics (and sometimes to overthrow democratically elected governments e.g. Iran).
The US deserves to be accused of having imperial intent, even if just based on their interest in other country's oil.
The word you're looking for is "imperial." "Empirical" means something else entirely.
America has had the most powerful military on earth for 70 years, along with a large population. List all of the vast amounts of territory it has annexed using that extraordinary military power. There are endless opportunities to do so, and the US is the sole military with global projection.
Some people point to military bases. Which doesn't work in any regard. A few critical differences being: taxing power on the local population, or vast plunder. Neither of which America is known for. And US military bases around the globe overwhelmingly exist by permission.
Controlling territory but not extracting wealth is pointless. The U.S. doesn't extract wealth from its foreign bases; in fact it injects wealth because the bases are paid for by U.S. dollars but the downstream spending goes into the local economy.
And you might think "well the U.S. extracts the wealth through trade." But trade is mutually beneficial (unlike taxes) and the U.S. runs a foreign trade deficit anyway.
The things that the U.S. gets for its projected power are peace and stability. These are things that benefit any nation, though.
Hence we get scenarios where China is claiming islands a thousand miles off its coast as domestic territory and while the US Air Force flies overhead and Obama tut-tuts the whole thing is a boundary pushing exercise (no pun intended) and China continues to do what it wants, within reason. China knows that shooting civilians as in Tiananmen Square in 1989 makes for very unflattering optics and jeopardizes the Western trade and investment it needs.
Every day articles and blog posts announces the imminent demise of US and Western power or China's impending economic collapse. It's possible of course but for the moment not very probable. But it is clear that the West is no longer *utterly dominant.
Economically, militarily and culturally they are, what metric are you using?
That's why we have PGP, in
And that's why in the US
"The right of the people to be secure in
their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated, and no
Warrants shall issue, but upon probable
cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to
be searched, and the persons or things to
I know; I know: Various people
working for the people are all
wound up about wanting to know
and wanting to be sure,
wanting to be sure they know
just what is in all those
e-mail messages. Their thinking
"Those messages, they are sending
lots of messages,
are they planning something?
Are those people up to something?
Are we at threat? We want to know.
Why do they encrypt their e-mail
messages if they
have nothing to hide?
"If they have something to hide,
then definitely for the good of
everyone we should know about it
and they shouldn't use encryption.
Else they might be planning something.
If they have nothing to hide, then
they shouldn't mind our knowing
and shouldn't use encryption.
"Yes, definitely we should have
full access to all e-mail and other
communications, computer hard disks,
private conversations, private thoughts,
That's what some people working for the
Sorry, guys, I'm one of the people
you are working for, and you will
just have to do your job
without violating the Constitution.
It's an old story, as is encryption,
and e-mail, the Internet do not
fundamentally change the situation.
Bruce Schneier, Applied Cryptography,
Second Edition: Protocols, Algorithms,
and Source Code in C, ISBN 0-471-11709-9,
John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1996.
That material's not going away.
And, in addition, I
have some nicely short, not
difficult to read, source code.
About all the math needed for
PGP is in an elementary number
theory book -- I have several
> That cat is out of the bag;
you can't legislate it back in.
Did you mean "The toothpaste
is out of the tube"? -- supposedly
the phrase used in the Nixon
When Zimmerman made PGP public,
he also gave what I thought
was a good description of the
issues with the bottom line,
whatever the pros and cons,
net in plenty of cases
it's important for
individuals to have access
to strong encryption.
Yes, no doubt there's no
shortage of people in government
who don't like PGP. I'll send
some people in government
some toothpaste and an
empty tube and let them
try their hand!
There is no quicker way of alienating people who understand complex things than by pretending that you know better and have thought of a brilliant solution.
Do we also have nightmares about a hacker stealing a government's back door key and giving us a heart attack in our sleep?
They can't and shouldn't be trusted with this kind of power.
The government is going to give millions of people heart attacks, all at the same time, at 5 pm Eastern time on a weekday.
I cite the recent bonehead maneuver, wherein someone--likely backed by a foreign government--managed to access the data for every last person cleared to handle U.S. government secrets, which necessarily includes any embarrassing datum which could be used by foreign governments to apply leverage.
This is Murphy's Law in action. If a catastrophe is possible, it will eventually happen. Combine with Acton's Law. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. The result suggests that, for the sake of sane risk management, government should be structured such that no person working in it (or hijacking its infrastructure) can single-handedly do more than one nuclear bomb's worth of damage.
This means the fundamental principles that have to be engineered in are robustness, trustworthiness, and voluntary cooperation. Built-in backdoors are completely antithetical to all three.
While hackers interfering with embedded devices in people is worrying I'd be more frightened about bugs in the devices from sloppy minimum cost systems.
While not awesome current stuff is ok(ish) largely because it's a relatively small market so the people in it are better than the average dev.
I've been programming a long time, I'm a reasonably talented developer and I wouldn't touch that stuff at all.
But on the encryption front, the more the better. If everyone adds complexity then 'they' have to discriminate more. Which is good for everyone.
When your eyes are hackable, you cannot take the VR headset off. Even closing your eyelids won't help.
Would you want anyone besides yourself having authorized access to your sensory bus? Would it make you feel any better if the person doing it had a valid court order?
Would you want anyone besides yourself having
authorized access to your sensory bus?
It's fictional but there's a lot of truth in no matter how important or shielded a target is, it is always vulnerable to attack.
If anyone can solve that problem, surely it's us - the technologists, the problem-solvers?
Indeed, in 1992, the FBI’s Advanced
Telephony Unit warned that within three years Title III wiretaps would be useless: no more than 40% would be intelligible and that in the worst case all might be rendered useless . The world did not “go dark.” On the contrary, law enforcement has much better and more effective surveillance capabilities now than it did then.
Conveniently, Microsoft has a patent on just that. http://www.google.com/patents/US8891772
Michael S. Rogers should disclose any financial interest he may have in Microsoft. Or does he have something to hide?
Microsoft has some interesting project choices.
Maybe somebody can start a pay to broadcast service using namecoin atomic name changes https://wiki.namecoin.info/?title=Atomic_Name-Trading
1. Service announces public nmc pay to address.
2. People mail them a message as a name update transaction combined with payment to that address using snailmail.
3. They broadcast if the perceived risk of broadcasting is less than the value of fee provided.
This could be anonymous and encrypted if the source name coins are sufficiently anonymous.
This bugged me too, but ham is already not general purpose. I've come to accept it as the cost of preventing a disallowed uses of the ham bands inside an impenetrable envelope of allowed use.
And besides, it's usually possible (but less fun) to set up (or use existing) radio networking links in different bands.
ot: What do they (cameron and c/o) think the best case scenario is for this folly? Disrupt a few mainstream services while pissing everyone off in the process whilst the real criminals move on to slightly more obscure services?
That moral authority undermined in part from the risk of secure government data being exposed, and government operations then being exposed.
Breakable encryption is definitely a double-edged sword.
(all irony intended.)