Traverse City Record-Eagle


Handguns — who needs them?

Ed HahnenbergAs a former teacher of high school American History, I studied the formation of the Articles of Confederation, its abandonment, and the formation of the Constitution. I also was curious about the Bill of Rights and the reasoning behind one of them in particular — the Second Amendment, to wit:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

I had always thought that because the infant U.S. feared an invasion by England after winning its independence, the 2nd amendment was ratified to provide additional security against England. Also, many “lived off the land” and the use of firearms for the killing of game for food was taken for granted.

However, in a recent U.C. Davis Law Review article “The Hidden History of the Second Amendment,” Roger Williams University School of Law Professor Carl T. Bogus offers a thesis that about the writing of the Second Amendment:

James Madison wrote the Second Amendment to assure the southern states that Congress would not undermine the slave system by disarming the militia, which were then the principal instruments of slave control throughout the South.”

If the thesis is correct, the history of the writing of the Second Amendment is important for two reasons.

First, it supports the view that the amendment does not grant individuals a right to keep and bear arms for their own purposes; rather it only protects the right to bear arms within the militia, as defined within the main body of the Constitution, under the joint control of the federal and state governments. At the time, the southern states extensively regulated their militias and prescribed their slave control responsibilities.

Second, the hidden history is important because it fundamentally changes how we think about the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment takes on an entirely different complexion when, instead of being symbolized by a musket in the hands of a minuteman, it is associated with a musket in the hands of a slave holder.

So much for Madison’s possible motives.

Where the Supreme Court Stands:

The only Supreme Court ruling in U.S. history prior to this decade that has focused primarily on the issue of what the Second Amendment really means is U.S. v. Miller (1939), which is also the last time the Court examined the amendment in any serious way. In Miller, the Court affirmed a median interpretation holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms, but only if the arms in question are those that would be useful as part of a citizen militia. Or maybe not; interpretations vary, partly because Miller is not an exceptionally well-written ruling.

The D.C. Handgun Case and District of Columbia v. Heller:

In Parker v. District of Columbia (March 2007), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban on grounds that it violates the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court held that the 2nd amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use within the home.

So, there we have it. Firearms for private use within the home are constitutional. Bad decision. It could be reversed in the future.

It is estimated that there are upwards of 70,000,000 handguns in the U.S. A National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms (NSPOF), conducted in 1994, indicates that Americans own 192 million guns, with 36% of these consisting of rifles, 34% handguns, 26% shotguns, and 4% of other types of long guns.

There are three handguns produced every minute in the U.S. Four people are killed every hour by firearms in our country.

The United States is the most privately-armed country in the world.

It is estimated that today there is a known firearm for everyone of its over 300,000,000 citizens.

Now I ask you — isn’t that overkill? Who the heck needs a gun for every man, woman, and child? Nuts. Absolutely nuts. Handguns should be the domain of law enforcement officials and the military. Period.

We have paid an enormous price in loss of life in out government because of handguns. Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated while in office: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy.  Three of the incidents involved handguns and one involved a rifle.

Presidents Jackson and Truman were uninjured during assassination attempts, as was President Ford in two separate attempts only a few weeks apart. President Reagan survived an assassination attempt and President Teddy Roosevelt was shot and wounded during the 1912 presidential campaign.

Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were killed with firearms. Rep. Gabby Giffords is recovering from a handgun bullet that went through her brain… I could go on.

The central argument used today for handguns is self and property protection. Two incidents of which I am familiar where that was used occurred in our area. In both instances the protector of property who resorted to use (in one case, the handgun was only displayed) was hauled into court, being charged by local prosecutor for inappropriate use of a firearm. Use a registered handgun to defend yourself, your family, or your property? Expect YOUR day in court.

The argument is always made that if handguns were declared illegal is that criminals would find a way to get them anyway. That is probably true, but if life in prison were a mandatory penalty for use of a handgun in a robbery or attempted homicide, that might curb their use.

Efforts have been made to entice handgun owners to turn them in for a cash reward.  Several states and municipalities have had varying success with such plans. Money spent on a national “Handgun Roundup” campaign would be worth it. Outlawing them by legislation might take a decade or more. Enforcement would be difficult, certainly.

In the U.S. for 2006, there were 30,896 deaths from firearms, handguns being far and away the most used.  Death tally: Suicide 16,883; Homicide 12,791; Accident 642; Legal Intervention 360; Undetermined 220. This makes firearms one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.

I have no issue with shotguns or rifles used for sport or hunting. Many a small pest that have begun to chew up my garden crops have felt the fatal sting of my 12-gauge shotgun formerly owned by my grandfather.

Criminalizing ownership or possession of handguns by private citizens would no doubt lead to an illegal underground gun business. Big problem. Although I know my opinion to many is quixotic,  how many more deaths do we have to endure before this country’s legal system gets rid of this plague? When does the possession of handguns become a moral issue? I think that history shows it already has become one.

  • Troy Keith

    Normally I agree with just about everything you write Ed, but I’d have to take the other side on this particular issue.

    The primary reason being that which you stated yourself:

    “The argument is always made that if handguns were declared illegal is that criminals would find a way to get them anyway. That is probably true, but if life in prison were a mandatory penalty for use of a handgun in a robbery or attempted homicide, that might curb their use.”

    As far as the deaths attributed to firearms, assuming your figures are correct, we have 16,883 suicides – if guns weren’t available, people would turn to pills, cars, ledges or a variety of other means. Is someone really going to change their mind about a suicide because using a handgun would be illegal?

    The 12,791 homicides fall into the first category above – murder is still illegal in all states and if that’s not enough of a deterrent, I’m not sure placing an additional penalty for the use of a handgun would be any consideration to the murderer. Sounds strangely like a hate crime type of legislation to me.. So that leaves us with 642 “accidental handgun deaths” which is unfortunate, but a mere drop in the bucket compared to other causes such as drowning (3,000+), falls (16,000+), surgical complications (3,000+) and so on.

    I had intended to write about this issue as well but hadn’t gotten very far into the research. From what little I did, it would appear that crime and murder rates dropped substantially in communities that allowed CCW permits and in areas that placed outright bans on handguns, the reverse was actually true.

    Just my 2 cents..

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Troy…Ditto on your posts. I know my position is not what we conservatives like to hear. On this issue, though, I cannot morally accept the proposition that this democracy needs hundreds of millions of guns in the hands of private citizens to protect self and property.

  • Bob

    Hello Ed

    “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

    I have highlighted what seems to me to be the relevant section, but it seems pretty plain language to me Ed.
    Professor Bogus, that can’t be by chance can it? His unfortunate name aside it seems a rather straightforward attempt to cast the 2nd amendment in the most unfavorable light possible. It is the same PC twaddle we hear so much these days that is intended to intimidate and stop discussion. There now that Professor Bogus has enlightened us poor benighted souls only racist slavery loving knuckle draggers could support this and we can ignore them look at what they are. We might as well throw out all of those founding documents. Those guys were slave owners you know. That surely must invalidate any contribution to decent society they might have made.

    You are too well read to be unaware that one of the things they thought a well-regulated militia might be needed for was the tendency of governments to tyranny. Beyond this they were much more aware of how close anarchy is to our doorstep.

    I find the accidental danger too high and chose not to keep them around my children and do not own a handgun, but I know I could access all I could ever want on the shortest notice from my gun loving brother. These range from my grandfathers 16 gauge single shot through the gamut of shotguns and rifles, and no shortage of hand guns from 22 through .44 Magnum. All of which are double locked away in gun safes.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Well hand guns are made for killin’
    They ain’t no good for nothin’ else
    And if you like to drink your whiskey
    You might even shoot yourself
    So why don’t we dump ‘em people
    To the bottom of the sea
    Before some ole fool come around here
    Wanna shoot either you or me

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Mark Knudsen…If you cannot read a post correctly, you might score an “I” in comprehension. First, I am well aware of Jefferson’s (and others’) many writings on the need for an armed militia. You can read backwards into his writings from today’s perspective, but Jefferson and others saw every male needing a firearm to be a standing militia in the event of future invasions by England and other countries.

    Second, my entire argument is not based on the thesis cited. Again, not a logical reading on your part.

    Third, where you get the idea that I am promoting a socialist agenda is cuckoo. You write words with no logic behind them. Prove that blather of yours.

    As to Bogus’ thesis:

    The story begins in Richmond, Virginia in the summer of 1788. Since it had been proposed by the convention in Philadelphia two years earlier, the Constitution of the United States had been the focus of an intense struggle. By its own terms, the Constitution required ratification by at least nine states; if that were not achieved the United States would not come into being. The Federalists were working hard for ratification, but anti-Federalists were opposing them with equal vigor. Although eight states had ratified the Constitution, most of the remaining states seemed to be leaning the other way, and it was uncertain whether a ninth state would be found. The last and best hope was Virginia, where the Federalists and anti-Federalists were about equally divided.

    It was with high drama, therefore, that the Virginia ratifying convention convened in Richmond in June 1788. Madison led the forces for ratification, and as its principal author, no one understood the Constitution better. Yet the opposition was equally formidable. The anti-Federalists were led by George Mason, the most intellectual of the anti-Federalists, and Patrick Henry, who was considered the greatest orator of the day.

    Mason and Henry made many arguments against ratification, but one of the strategies they devised was particularly shrewd. Virginia was nearly half black, and the white population lived in constant fear of slave insurrection. The main instrument of control was the militia. So critical was the militia for slave control that, in the main, the southern states refused to commit their militia to the war against the British. The Constitution, however, would transfer the lion’s share of the power over the militia to Congress. Slavery was becoming increasingly obnoxious to the North, and southern delegates to the Philadelphia convention demanded and got an agreement, somewhat cryptically written into the Constitution, that deprived the federal government of authority to abolish slavery. Mason and Henry raised the specter of Congress using its authority over the militia to do indirectly what it could not do directly. They suggested that Congress might refuse to call forth the militia to suppress an insurrection, send southern militia to New Hampshire, or�and on this they harped repeatedly�disarm the militia. For Virginia and the South, these were chilling prospects.

    The Federalists prevailed, but just barely. Although Virginia ratified the Constitution, Madison limped out of the Richmond Convention. Half of Virginia was still anti-Federalist, and the anti-Federalists were determined to end Madison’s political career. Losing a bid to the United States Senate, Madison was reduced to running for a House seat. Patrick Henry had Madison’s congressional district gerrymandered to include as many anti-Federalist areas as possible, then recruited a rising young star�James Monroe�to run for the seat.

    Monroe campaigned as a champion for a bill of rights. Madison had previously been opposed to a bill of rights, but it was not a popular view. Cognitive dissonance set in, and Madison persuaded himself that he had only been opposed to a bill of rights prior to ratification. He promised the electorate he would support adding a bill of rights to the Constitution.

    Madison won the election, and he went to Congress politically committed to supporting a bill of rights. When he drafted that document, he included a provision that with minor modifications became what is now the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Dragon…Unintelligent that we have a firearm for every man, woman, and child… with manufacturers churning out three MORE handguns every minute? That kind of production is senseless stupidity.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Gene (and Bob)…Clever reply as usual. Yup, Bogus is his name…and I JUST KNEW you guys would point this out! Kudos. Imagine what you could do with the German name for “Exit” on the Autobahn.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Olbiffer…You offer some good points, particularly about people finding a way to kill others even if handguns were outlawed. The problem with handguns, it seems to me, is that they are so readily available, easy to purchase despite the Brady law, concealable, and instruments capable of horrific results. We’ve banned grapes from Chile because there might be trace pesticides on them. We won’t eat eggs because a producer bought tainted feed and had facilities that raised issues. Tomatoes, strawberries, spinach…you name it. The recalls on these vegetables in the past few years are well known. Maybe upset stomachs or an occasional death triggered these nationwide scares. Yet, like idiots, we see no problem with the ubiquitous presence of real death machines in our society. No sir, no warning labels on these tools of self-destruction. And I AM NAIVE?

    • RHX

      Ed – Alcohol is also ready available and you can buy it anywhere. It’s pushed on us every day through the media. Go buy that case of beer because a good time with scantily clad women on a beach is waiting for you. How long did prohibition last? I haven’t researched the statistics, but I’ll bet that alcohol is has killed more people dozens of times over than handguns. How about doing a poll showing how many people would like to ban alcohol? What do you think the results of that poll would be? Will your next article be titled “Alcohol – who needs it?”
      Ed, would you feel safer driving down the road with handgun owners sharing the road with you or alcoholics? How many handguns are the cause of road accidents and deaths versus alcohol?

      If your argument is that handguns are so readily available, let’s ban alcohol first, then see how much the death toll drops.

      • Ed Hahnenberg


        RHX, your arguments are excellent up to a point, and I agree that the 18th amendment didn’t work.

        However, in Michigan, 11 persons per 100,000 die from firearms each year, or 220 per 2 million. In Japan, the death rate, where firearms are prohibited, the rate is 0.05 gun deaths per 100,000 or 1 per 2 million people.

        Go to for more stats. In the 36 richest countries, according to the study, the U.S. accounted for 45% of deaths by firearms.

        The 2nd amendment, as regards handguns, isn’t working either.

        • RHX

          And I’d bet that if alcohol was banned, those 11 persons per 100,000 would probably decrease to maybe 7 or 8, if not lower.

          There will always be firearm related deaths. What do you think is the appropriate number? Of course, zero is the number we all want, but what number are we willing to accept? I’ll have to disagree with you Ed that the 2nd amendment isn’t working because you wrote this column about it and we’ve been having discussions like these for years both in and out of the courtroom. The majority of people, legislatures, and courts haven’t overturned or even tweaked the 2nd amendment, so it seems to be working just fine.

        • RHX

          Also Ed, in the medicinenet link that you sent, the NRA provides safety instructions for proper use of your firearm. The NRA is promoting responsible gun ownership. Do the alcohol companies do things like this? The only thing I can think of is the don’t drink and drive ads that we see from time to time. The federal government provides added funding (our tax dollars) to police departments for cracking down on drunk driving, especially during holidays. How much do the alcohol companies give? The NRA is also active at the local level and sponsors gun safety and training events. It looks to me Ed that the NRA is at least active in trying to minimize firearm related accidents and deaths. Can the same be said about the booze companies?

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            RHX…I have no problem with many of the responsible gun safety programs of the NRA. Its history is interesting.

            Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church.

            After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was also the former governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. Senator, became the fledgling NRA’s first president.

            An important facet of the NRA’s creation was the development of a practice ground. In 1872, with financial help from New York state, a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later, and it was there that the first annual matches were held.

            Would that its insignia, with two rifles crossed, and its name…the National RIFLE Association were all that it represented, instead of semiautomatic handguns and assault weapons.

          • RHX

            Well Ed, in that medicinenet link that you used, it only talks about gun related deaths, not handgun related deaths, so you’re using that source doesn’t make sense to me as it pertains to your argument.

            But if I understand your last response correctly, you’re saying that the definition of “rifle” should only cover a firearm with a certain barrel length? And now you’re throwing assault weapons into the argument? Is every assault weapon a handgun? From my experience, an assault weapon can have both a long barrel and a short barrel, depending on the weapon. So how would you define these different firearms? By barrel length? By semiautomatic versus fully automatic? Now we’re getting into the legal meat of the issue.

            The 2nd amendment only says “arms” and not handguns, assault weapons, rifles, etc. As I’ve said, the 2nd amendment is working because it hasn’t been changed, even though people like yourself would like to change it. Kind of reminds me of a former president that had his own definition of what “is” is.

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            RHX…Correct on your first point. However, I’m not one who tries to figure out how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, and don’t compare my position to Clinton’s perjury. I just see a moral line that the Supreme Court has crossed regarding handguns, as it did in Roe v. Wade.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Darrell…Thank God we have responsible people like yourself. However, we’ve banned grapes from Chile because there might be trace pesticides on them. We won’t eat eggs because a producer bought tainted feed and had facilities that raised issues. Tomatoes, strawberries, spinach…you name it. The recalls on these vegetables in the past few years are well known. Maybe upset stomachs or an occasional death triggered these nationwide scares. Yet, like idiots, we see no problem with the ubiquitous presence of real death machines in our society. No sir, no warning labels on these tools of self-destruction.

    I, too, in my youth had a fascination with guns, from the BB gun and single shot 22 rifle Dad bought for me. I advanced to a Swiss 308 military gun. I had it restored, complete with new scope, and recoil pad. It’s three feet away from me as I write this, securely locked. I, too, enjoy target practice, sighting it in, and the lure of deer hunting.

    However, the proliferation of handguns the Mexican cartels purchase in the U.S. sickens me. Reading about Rep. Giffords’ struggle for a lifetime of rehabilitation after a bullet from a semiautomatic handgun purchased legally by a psychopath went through her brain disturbs me, as does the deaths of several others, one being an innocent child. The specter of Popes and Presidents being targets of handguns brings to mind the scripture quote: “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

    • Darrell Patton

      “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
      Or as the NIV says “”Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
      Jesus did not say get rid of the sword, Mine is in my holster and ready to use if needed, not brandished about.
      A interesting article you should read is this
      It is out of the Strafor Global Intelligence interesting and yet you must keep an open mind when reading.

      • Ed Hahnenberg

        Darrell…In the article, there is the following:

        “In addition to factors such as bureaucratic barriers and negligence, many of the weapons seized by Mexican authorities either do not bear serial numbers or have had their serial numbers altered or obliterated. It is also important to understand that the Mexican authorities simply don’t bother to submit some classes of weapons to the ATF for tracing. Such weapons include firearms they identify as coming from their own military or police forces, or guns that they can trace back themselves as being sold through the Mexican Defense Department’s Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM). Likewise, they do not ask ATF to trace military ordnance from third countries like the South Korean fragmentation grenades commonly used in cartel attacks. Of course, some or even many of the 22,800 firearms the Mexicans did not submit to ATF for tracing may have originated in the United States.”

        As with some international news stories, one country likes to blame another. Conclaves within many Latin American countries are as lawless as war zones.

        Interesting take on the scriptural quote, which, I suggest, you miffed up on.

        • Darrell Patton

          Ed, I will not discuss the Bible because we all have our interpretation’s of it.
          However I just read another article and thought it very interesting, of course it is slanted to my liking,LOL
          The Gun Is Civilization!” Interesting take and one you don’t hear much. . . . . .

          As the Supreme Court hears arguments for and against the Chicago, IL Gun Ban, I offer you another stellar example of a letter (written by a Marine) that places the proper perspective on what a gun means to a civilized society.

          Read this eloquent and profound letter and pay close attention to the last paragraph of the letter….

          “The Gun Is Civilization” by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

          Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

          In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

          When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

          The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

          There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed.

          People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

          Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

          People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

          The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

          When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation… and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

          By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)

          So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.

          Thank You
          Darrell Patton

          • Ed Hahnenberg

            Darrell Patton…Thanks for mentioning the Chicago, IL Gun Ban.

            The latest decision I cited was The District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use within the home in federal enclaves.

            What is a federal enclave? Suffice it to say that the District of Columbia was the first such federal enclave, and NOT A STATE, but many more have been created since then, from large military bases to single buildings.

            The decision did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states, which was addressed later by McDonald v. Chicago. It was the first Supreme Court case in United States history to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense. In McDonald, the SC held that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states. The decision cleared up the uncertainty left in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller as to the scope of gun rights in regard to the states.

            However, the court battles are not over. According to Wiki, the initial reactions to the ruling have been favorable from both the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. They have both issued statements that they feel vindicated or pleased by the Supreme Court’s holding. However, the court did not include a “clarification of the standard for review” as requested by the Brady group in their amicus brief. In a discussion on the day of the ruling Wayne LaPierre of the NRA and Paul Helmke of the Brady Center both agreed that the ruling protected specifically against bans on handguns for self protection in the home. But as to the general question of gun laws not covered in McDonald; a large number of lawsuits will be needed in order to determine whether any other existing gun regulations might also be unconstitutional. Wayne LaPierre expressed caution that the NRA has “a lot of work ahead” attempting to overturn other gun control regulations not covered by McDonald. And Paul Helmke said that he expected that the NRA is “going to lose most of those lawsuits”

            Given the makeup of the court today, it is pretty well a divided court. As a pro-life advocate, I am torn between the possible addition of another liberal justice and a reversal of Chicago and the keeping of Roe v. Wade. In the end, the moral imperative, for me, is to overturn Roe v. Wade while preserving the Chicago decision. That might happen if this country would be blessed with a pro-life president in 2012.

          • Anonymous

            Maj. Caudill says, “When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force.” Well, if I carry a gun and you carry a gun, reason comes down to who’s quickest on the draw.

            As for an octogenarian being able to defend against a weightlifter… I hate to say it, but when my mother was that age, even if she’d had a gun her hands would have been shaking so much she probably wouldn’t have been able to get it out of her bedside drawer, snap off the safety, and aim straight before the attacker would have been taking it away from her.

            The Major also forgets that when a crook is intent on a crime, they’re prepared and focused, whereas the victim usually isn’t. So if the crook has a gun, he’s got the drop on the victim. Just having a gun won’t protect the victim.

            If societies without guns are automatically ruled by the young, strong, and vicious, why are countries in Europe generally so much safer than the USA?

  • Troy Keith

    With all due respect, I think the argument is specious and shouldn’t be focused on suicide as the post was about the justification (or lack of) for handguns – a determined individual will find a way. The same line of reasoning might suggest that we should outlaw razor blades because finding a suicide “victim” after such an event would be more horrific than someone who turned the car on and sat in a closed garage. As terrible as any suicide is, the thought that government needs to protect us from ourselves is not compatible with my belief system. Alcohol and tobacco kill countless MORE individuals. Careless parents have left the liquor cabinet unlocked for centuries and children have suffered the consequences, often ending in their death or manslaughter charges. Do you support a ban on all alcohol in the home? Beer & wine OK, but maybe no liquor?

    Statistics are a dangerous thing and I’d guess that for every 2 pro-hangun ‘facts’ there is at least one that can be cited against but here goes..


    States that allow registered citizens to carry concealed weapons have lower crime rates than those that don’t.

    TRUE: The 31 states that have “shall issue” laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24 percent lower violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower murder rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons. In fact, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states. Remarkably, guns are used for self-defense more than 2 million times a year, three to five times the estimated number of violent crimes committed with guns.”
    Lower murder rates in foreign countries prove that gun control works.

    FALSE: This is one of the favorite arguments of gun control proponents, and yet the facts show that there is simply no correlation between gun control laws and murder or suicide rates across a wide spectrum of nations and cultures. In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel “have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.” A comparison of crime rates within Europe reveals no correlation between access to guns and crime/


    “Yet manifest success in keeping its people disarmed has not prevented Russia from having
    far and away the highest murder rate in the developed world.6 In the 1960s and early ‘70s, gunless
    Russia’s murder rates paralleled (generally exceeded) those of gun-ridden America. As
    American rates first stabilized and then steeply declined, Russian murder increased so drastically
    that by the early 1990s the Russian rate was three times higher than the U.S. As of 1998-2004 (the
    latest figure available for Russia) Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than

    Murder Rates of European Nations Which Ban Handguns As Compared to Their
    Neighbors Which Allow Handguns (rates are per 100,000 persons)

    Nation Handgun Policy Murder Rate Year
    Belarus banned 10.40 late 1990s
    Poland allowed 01.98 2003
    Russia banned 20.54 2002
    Luxembourg banned 09.01 2002
    Belgium allowed 01.70 late 1990s
    France allowed 01.65 2003
    Germany allowed 00.93 2003


    Since the outset of the Texas right-to-carry law, the Texas murder rate has averaged 30% lower than it was before the law took effect

    Since the outset of the Florida right-to-carry law, the Florida murder rate has averaged 36% lower than it was before the law took effect

    Regarding your link to the Penn Medicine News, I found


    “That means that firearms are used 60 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to shoot with criminal intent. Of these defensive shootings, more than 200,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual abuse. About half a million times a year, a citizen carrying a gun away from home uses it in self-defense. Again, according to Kleck amd Gertz, “Citizens shoot and kill more criminals than police do every year [2,819 times versus 303].” Moreover, as George Will pointed out in an article entitled “Are We a Nation of Cowards?” in the November 15, 1993, issue of Newsweek, while police have an error rate of 11 percent when it comes to the accidental shooting of innocent civilians, the armed citizens’ error rate is only 2 percent, making them five times safer than police.

    Other studies give similar results. “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” by the Clinton administration’s Justice Department shows that between 1.5 and 3 million people in the United States use a firearm to defend themselves and others from criminals each year. A 1986 study by Hart Research Associates puts the upper limit at 3.2 million”

    And just for fun:

    • Harborlight

      Troy, obviously you have your agenda and I have mine. Mine is one of sanity, sanctity and respect for life. I don’t know what yours is. It saddens me that people misuse information like you have to prop up your own fears and agenda. Killing is wrong and guns are made to kill. Period. How much more life has to be lost until you begin to see the truth?

      • Troy Keith

        From my experience, the typical procedure is to attack the messenger with sweeping generalities and broad claims that do little to address the issue. You cite a singular source that is riddled with bias and then state that I’m misusing the variety of information I presented without addressing any of the specific points that I made. It’s one thing to have a legitimate debate and discuss tangible ideas but without a point/counter-point dialogue it amounts to little more than name calling and vague generalizations.

        I’m assuming that a position of “sanity and respect for life” translates for you into an anti-abortion position as well? The issue here isn’t whether “killing is wrong”. Do you have a response to my suggestion that more lives may be saved than lost via handguns? If the assertion that handguns are used for self defense more than 2 million times per year is even remotely true, then Mr. Hahnenberg’s figure of 30,896 firearm deaths (not just handguns) must surely be placed into some sort of perspective.

        I have no fears or hidden agenda in this matter. As stated before, I generally agree with most of Ed’s views but I think there is a legitimate other side to this debate and it’s one that I’m happy to have.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    RHX…Lots of good points in your reply. However, long story short. I have a .308 rifle, a .22 rifle, and a shotgun…all for hunting…locked, readily available for self and family protection if, God forbid, I needed to use them. My point was not about firearms such as these, but about handguns….

  • John

    Why can’t everyone understand the concept of our constitution. We all are born with God given rights and owning and possessing a hand gun is one of them. The constitution was not intended to control the citizens it was designed to limit our government from taking away our God given rights. The surpreme court finally got it right in their decision. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, Those that give up their rights for safety deserves neither.

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      John…These are rights that are supposedly so obvious that their nature and origin do not need to be defended by analysis. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson declared that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

      “God given rights and owning and possessing a hand gun is one of them…” is nonsense. Jefferson didn’t enumerate all “self-evident” rights given by God, but encouraged the protection of the U.S. against foreign invaders by the use of state militias.

  • Sea born

    Simply removing handguns or any type of killing instrument does not address the problem at hand. We live in a world of weapon sensitive, a framed mentality that guns are equivalent to automatic killing. People kill people, guns don’t kill people, there always has to be a person to pull the trigger. Giffords, as stated somewhere above in my attempt to skim the many comments, is not struggling because of solely a gun being legally purchased but the crazed man. Either we need to address the issue behind the gun, crazed and often ill-minded people, or allow for our gun restrictions to grow tighter and tighter while the problem expands and remains unaddressed.

    Recently in the stabbing spree of New York, should that not raise the same or similar questions as to ban butcher’s knives? He did not even have to use a gun to kill what is currently five people and wounding four.

    A while back there was a publication on someone throwing a rock at what I remember being a police officer, only to accidentally kill him. Luckily, in a comment to the editor, someone said we might as well ban rocks.

    As to the issues of the second amendment, its wording is for the vagueness intended. The people, back in those times, made up the militia, there were countrymen that went from all over to the battle of Lexington and Concord. There was no militia but the very men you would see on every day streets. Therefore, everyone was written in the right as to hold a gun in self defense. People are too quick to connect self defense to nation wide slaughters, obviously they have different intentions and we cannot blame a simple liberty of allowing for insanity. Thomas Jefferson himself said that guns were solely meant to be retained as to fight against one’s own government if things became in such a way. If we are all guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I believe that a handgun is somewhere in that to assure that that is retained. We might as well start using pillows to combat crime if we want to be particularly sensitive.

  • jeff4

    nice debate people!! Again, everyone has their own belief, their own statistics and their own view. nobody changes anyone else’s mind and in the end this is all just talk. What would a liberal commie socialist (Gene’s words to describe me) do? I’m all for gun ownership of any kind, any time, anywhere. If we ban handguns or guns of any kind then the only people who will have them are the criminals.

  • jeff4

    PS. I also like how a bleeding heart liberal like me can be FOR gun ownership and an ultraconservative like Ed can be against. Gotta love America.

  • Gene

    You must have cabin fever, holed up there in snow country. (Ditto Jeff4 . . whoa!) I first wondered about you when you claimed we were running out of water!

    Putting aside the philosophical and constitutional issues, lets assume someone passed such an ordinance – how would it work in practice? Confiscate, or no new production? I think it would be like Prohibition. Unworkable. I was once discussing guns with a client in my studio, and he reached down into his dress slacks in the crotch area, and pulled out a compact Sig Sauer. Said he always carried it. I don’t know his politics, other than he was very opposed to Bush’s first TARP program, and he must be conservative. He explained to me the extra responsibility that went along with the carry; that one was extra cautious, and would stay clear of getting involved in someone else’s trouble. A prohibition like you propose, would make this responsible man a criminal. And you know the rest . . .

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Gene…A few years back, Japan excelled in making quality autos…maybe they still do. Three Hondas in my lifetime. However, regarding handgun ordinances, they definitely have it right.

    The only type of firearm which a Japanese citizen may even contemplate acquiring is a shotgun. Sportsmen are permitted to possess shotguns for hunting and for skeet and trap shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure. Without a license, a person may not even hold a gun in his or her hands.

    The licensing procedure is rigorous. A prospective gun owner must first attend classes and pass a written test. Shooting range classes and a shooting test follow. After the safety exam, the applicant takes a simple ‘mental test’ at a local hospital, to ensure that the applicant is not suffering from a readily detectable mental illness. The applicant then produces for the police a medical certificate attesting that he or she is mentally healthy and not addicted to drugs.

    The police investigate the applicant’s background and relatives, ensuring that both are crime free. Membership in ‘aggressive’ political or activist groups disqualifies an applicant. The police have unlimited discretion to deny licenses to any person for whom ‘there is reasonable cause to suspect may be dangerous to other persons’ lives or properties or to the public peace’.

    Gun owners are required to store their weapons in a locker, and give the police a map of the apartment showing the location of the locker. Ammunition must be kept in a separate locked safe. The licenses also allow the holder to buy a few thousand rounds of ammunition, with each transaction being registered.

    Civilians may also apply for licenses to possess air rifles–low-power guns that are powered by carbon dioxide rather than by gunpowder.

    Civilians can NEVER OWN HANDGUNS. Small calibre rifles were once legal, but in 1971, the government forbade all transfers of rifles. Current rifle license holders may continue to own them, but their heirs must turn them into the police when the license-holder dies.] Total remaining rifle licenses are 27,000. Even shotguns and air rifles, the two legal types of firearm, are becoming rarer and rarer, as few people find it worthwhile to pass through a burdensome gun licensing process.

    Although there is no mandatory minimum penalty for unlicensed firearm possession, 81 per cent of sentences for illegal firearm are imprisonment for a year or more, perhaps because most gun crimes are perpetrated by professional criminals. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison and a one million yen fine. (Source of info:

    By the way, because of the three year drought, my market IS running out of water. Coincidentally, a new one is being drilled as I write.

    • Troy Keith

      Ed, are you advocating this sort of system for the United States? Singapore-lite perhaps? I’d have to think that Japan’s low crime rate (19.1/1000) is more of a cultural phenomenon rather than something directly related to gun control.

      The thought of confiscation on a national scale seems impossible to me. If people think the Tea Party is a ‘radical’ group right now, just wait until something like that was tried in today’s political climate.

      • Ed Hahnenberg

        Troy…That which is desirable is not always attainable. I am a realist, as are you. I realize that my proposal would go nowhere given this country’s history. I offered the post to get people thinking about how much we are still people of the frontier West.

    • Bob


      From the Wikipedia Yakuza page:

      Handguns manufactured in the U.S. account for a large share (33%) of handguns seized in Japan, followed by China (16%), and the Philippines (10%). In 1990, a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver that cost $275 in the U.S. could sell for up to $4,000 in Tokyo, and by 1997 it could sell for $500 due to the proliferation of guns in Japan during the 1990s.[16]

      Looks like the old saw about who will have guns is not too far off the mark at least in Japan. Good to see there are still some products we still export to the world.

      Ed I think it is time to go back to a US company when you look for that next car. Ford can hold its own with any manufacturer and the other two are not too far behind. The fact that my children have been indirectly feed by the Ford family for much of their lives may color my view, but I don’t think it takes much looking to find that the numbers support this view as well.

      • Ed Hahnenberg

        Bob…I have a Chevy Aveo (made in South Korea), so where am I in my loyalties? I think GM is an American company. The Aveo gets 37 mpg and I bought it new three years ago for $7995. No problems at all. Everything is globally produced, even Ford. IPads are designed in the U.S. but assembled in China.

        You are probably correct in saying that the handgun is a reliable U.S. export.

        • Bob


          Given my druthers I would put a put a small (5-10% range) tariff on that little Aveo just as I would for one made by Kia or Hyundai or any of the Chinese manufacturers that are soon to follow them here to the US market. By the same token to the extent that these foreign manufacturers want to come here and build cars I welcome them and would like to see them treated the same as any of the traditional US OEMs. When a manufacturer sells a car in the US I think there should be a strong likelihood that the car was manufactured in the US. When a manufacturer sells a car in some country other than the US if that country accounts for a significant portion of total worldwide auto sales there should be a strong likelihood that the car was manufactured in that country.

          I hope every US consumer gives Ford their first look. I think they have earned it by their performance. When the choice is close I hope they give Ford their purchase. I think they have a strong chance of taking the lead in US market share at somewhere around 20%.

          I think the nation benefits from a strong domestic presence in this industry.

  • Gloria


    Your posting goes to show that labeling people as “conservative” or “liberal,” or other political labels is at best an over-simplification. The professor’s point or interpretation is new to me, and interesting, but not totally compelling. It was also interesting the number of comments that mentioned alcohol, automobiles, even grapes from Chile etc. but I didn’t notice any that mentioned the reported (CDC, I think) 100,000 people who died each year in this country from taken legally made, marketed, and prescribed medications. (Remember Vioxx, thalidomite (sp?) and all the others). Very interesting posting and some thought provoking comments.

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      Gloria, et al…If we hang on to labels too much, they tend to define our thinking. Because I am a pro-life advocate, and a lifelong Republican, then I must be cheering on the NRA, be against the “dream act”, and against the START treaty. How crazy is that? Maybe that’s why we need more political parties. Could somebody define “Independent” for me, because that and the Tea Party are all that’s left.

      Thanks to everyone for your thought-provoking replies. I have to get some rest because I sure stirred up a hornets’ nest. Nice rhyme on your time. Seriously, thanks everyone!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ed, this is way late as I’ve been away from the blogs for the last week. However, I want to thank you for researching this issue so thoroughly, and for taking a stand that many conservatives would be afraid to espouse in print even if they felt it was right.

    You’ve come at this issue from a Christian standpoint — i.e., if thou shalt not kill, thou ought to limit the easy means to killing.

    I’d only add that we also ought to tackle the mentality that encourages us to rely on individual force. We might rather try to create a society which cares for individuals to the extent that the use of force becomes unnecessary. That could never happen in one fell swoop. But societies can change gradually, and I believe it’s what we should aim for.

    Once again, thanks for bringing a Christian — and practical — perspective to this contentious issue.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Cathy…Thank you for your kind remarks. I can’t help but remember Obama’s remarks in 2008: “You go into these small towns…and it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion..” Well, I am from a small town and do indeed cling to religion, but not handguns.

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