What shall we do with the predators?
What shall we do with the predators?
In my Aug. 25 column, "In fact, real rights ARE pretty much absolute,"
I argued the constitutional right to bear arms is automatically restored
when a prisoner leaves prison, just as is his freedom of religion, his
right to a trial by jury, etc. In response, former policeman W.L. wrote
by Vin Suprynowicz
"An interesting and thought-provoking essay.
"I tend to find myself straddling the fence. I don't want 'violent
felons' to have legal access to guns. The 81-year-old non-violent 'felon'
certainly shoots down the conventional wisdom, at least for me.
"But what about the guy who was convicted of aggravated robbery at 17,
23, and 29? Okay, paroling him at the end of two years on each five-year
sentence is insanity. But suppose he served all five years each time, and
demonstrates that when he is free, the temptation to use force to take
whatever he wants is too great to resist? Do you favor three strikes and
you're out? Or one strike?
"As a former police officer, I can tell you that the barring of felons
from being armed was a pro-active tool. Granted, most of my experience was
in small towns. We knew who was trouble.
"And yeah, perhaps they did get stopped when someone else wouldn't. (The
reality is that few can drive a mile in city or town traffic without
violating some traffic law!) I am certain that you will admit that there
are some violent predators in our midst. I will grant that their existence
is often used as an excuse to violate the rights of others.
"When a felony was what most people think of as a felony (murder,
aggravated robbery, sexual assault, burglary, car theft (no longer a real
felony in Texas), aggravated assault, kidnapping, etc.), then laws banning
felons from possessing arms, makes sense to me. When felonies are defined
as catching the wrong kind of fish, shooting a predatory bird to protect
you lambs, or whatever the crime of the month is, then I agree with you.
"How do you balance it? Please don't tell me that the balance comes by
having everyone equally armed so they can resist on the street. I am a
handgun instructor (CHL type, not NRA). I run our local 'combat' matches.
There are very few licensed carriers (who have undergone licensing
training) that I would bet on in a crisis situation. I am not against a
citizen carrying a gun, but if push comes to shove, the mindset is the most
important factor. Regardless of the words that are used in a training
course (Have you made the decision that you could and would use a handgun
in an appropriate crisis situation?), the criminal who has decided to
strike has it all over a person caught flatfooted.
"Unless someone practices regularly and has had top end advance training
(Gunfight, Thunder Ranch, LFI, or something comparable), it is easy to be a
danger to self and others. The greatest advantage of CHL programs is
deterrence. For that reason, I support them. They put some criminals on
notice that anyone may be armed. But for actually using the gun, most
programs are woefully inadequate.
"I guess my bottom line is that I want some people disqualified from
exercising their Second Amendment rights. However, the criteria (felony
record) is most faulty. We will all soon be felons if they keep passing
"But propose a workable solution that addressees the fears of those who
know that simply having a gun in their pocket is not an adequate solution.
... That law enforcement has become abusive in many areas of life, I will
not argue. I fear a totalitarian state as much as you. At the same time, I
am not ready to give up on all corporate responses to the problem. Bad law
makes the situation worse, but all law is not ipso facto bad."
Thanks for your thoughtful response.
Perhaps the problem is the degree to which we have become accustomed to
"(young) ex-felons in our midst," so that we are now puzzling over how to
deal with this problem, instead of asking why we face such a problem.
It seems we agree that far too many things are now called "felonies." If
we repealed 90 percent of the laws now on the books -- mostly the stuff
enacted since 1912 -- the whole issue would become much clearer. (Rape,
murder, and armed robbery were all illegal in every state by 1912. But why
should the same leniency standards apply to a convicted multiple armed
robber, as we apply to someone "caught in possession of the feathers of a
protected raptor," or "convicted of shifting fill dirt into a marsh" on his
own property, or "structuring his cash withdrawals to avoid the cash
transaction reporting requirement," etc.?)
Hand-in-hand with DE-criminalizing huge swatches of the federal register
and the state Revised Statutes (the smallest of the 34 volumes of the
Nevada Revised Statutes is titled "Criminal Laws," which always makes me
wonder, "What the heck are the OTHER 33 volumes for?"), we would indeed
need some kind of harsh new standards for repeat violent felons.
Judges and juries need the discretion to show mercy to some waist-high
kid who's just fallen into bad company, of course. Though I think getting
him out of his current urban environment and associations, by requiring
that he go live for two years on grandpa's farm, should be the minimum to
give such a kid a real chance to change his ways.
But once we're clear that we're NOT talking about folks who have merely
violated some bureaucratic edict, or engaged in some form of controlled
commerce without a federal license, etc., then I fear we need to get
1) Libertarians, in general, favor the death penalty. With freedom must
come REAL "responsibility for one's actions" - not the make-believe,
free-of-consequences variety cynically promoted by Bill Clinton and Janet
I have a problem with capital punishment only because it seems to get
dissimilarly applied based on race and social class. Also, as currently
"enforced," it's little more than a vastly more expensive form of life
However, at the very least we can and should certainly change the way we
treat officers and armed civilians who kill perpetrators IN THE ACT. I'm
thinking of medals, parades, and large cash rewards from the Chamber of
2) End parole and probation. Some statutory sentences would have to be
shortened to account for the fact that we now frequently sentence for 15
years, in hopes the jerk will serve four. But if judge and jury concur that
a crime is worth 30 years, that means we don't want to see this guy outside
again until his hair's white and his arthritis is too bad to allow him to
even THINK of pulling a second-story job.
3) Exile. The notion that a judge should ever have to deal with a
defendant back on a THIRD violent felony strikes me as an admission of
systemic impotence. The lenient sentence for the first offense, it should
be made clear, constitutes "society giving you one more chance to 'get it.'
The second time around, no such "benefit of the doubt" makes any sense. We
do own the Aleutian islands, don't we? Tattoo these guys "Rapist" (the real
thing -- don't give me "date rape") or "Murderer," or whatever, load them
up with a couple months worth of dehydrated food, a knife and a shovel, and
air drop them into a fogbound hell.
Escape? Tell them "We don't care if you escape, but there's a $20,000
reward (the cost of a mere eight months of keeping the loser locked up) for
anyone who ever finds you off this island and shoots you dead through that
tattooed bulls-eye on your forehead, no questions asked."
It would be very interesting to see what kind of society would develop on
that island (among those who aren't promptly murdered for their supplies by
the other inmates) after a couple of years. I suspect it would be one that
would make even those fellows yearn for their previous, soft life in the
lower 48 ... or even for the certainties of three squares and a dry bunk in
the Big Hotel.
Would they develop harpoons and kayaks and learn to hunt seal? How many
would die among the ice floes? I seem to recall that after our submarines
cut off their resupply ships, the Japanese we found still occupying a
couple of those islands in 1943 or '44 were little more than living
scarecrows, subsisting on mice, moss, and boiled boots.
The argument will be made that we've got a million people on prison, and
you can't drop a million people on the Rat Islands. But as we've been
discussing, the first half million go away when you legalize and pardon the
pot-smokers, alone. Keeping only those guilty of violating laws enacted
before 1912, you could open the doors of virtually all the federal
pens, and start sending the guards their
unemployment checks tomorrow. Even some professional criminals might find a
different line of work, once they figure out there's no more revolving
How many recalcitrant feral retards do we have in this country, who just
plain need killing, and who we would thus be doing a favor if we instead
handed them a parachute, a book of matches, and 30 pounds of dried beans?
It may sound a little far-fetched, but what we've got now is not going to
stand, and if we don't do something a LITTLE more bold and effective, we're
going to see vigilantes lynching 20 at a time, which I do NOT favor, given
the likelihood of mistaken identity, the loss of any shred of due process,
Finally, I fear we must agree to disagree on Concealed Handgun Permits.
The government CANNOT convert a right into a privilege, available only by
permit or license. Governments have shown, again and again, that they will
NOT stop at what is "modest and reasonable."
The 1916 Harrison Narcotics Act was moderate and reasonable, as such laws
go. "We're not going to ban anything," the federals said, "because we have
no such constitutional authority. All we're asking is that those who
manufacture, sell, or prescribe opiates or marijuana sign up, get
registered, get issued a license. All perfectly routine -- no one will be
turned down. This is NOT a precursor to regulating this part of medical
practice completely out of existence; trust us. We just want to make sure
we can guarantee purity, safety, and accuracy in labeling."
Yeah, sure. It took just 18 years before they broke every one of those
promises, giving us a "Drug War" which has now been with us for 65 years.
Inner cities more peaceful now? Less crime and drug use? Ha! (And
meantime, dying cancer patients writhe in constant, unendurable pain until
they beg their families to kill them, because their M.D.s are afraid their
"DEA numbers" will be pulled if they write prescriptions for "too many"
"We're not 'banning' the manufacture or sale of machine guns," Congress
said in 1934. "That would be unconstitutional. What are you Chicken Littles
squawking about? The National Firearms Act simply asks that machine gun
manufacturers and retailers sign up and get a little license, perfectly
routine, no one will be turned down. ..."
Write to the ATF today, tell them you're a law-abiding citizen who
doesn't mind undergoing a background check, and tell them you want to buy a
license to set up a little machine shop to mill receivers for Browning
Automatic Rifles in 30.06, on which you will then build up complete
full-auto BARs from imported spare parts kits, for sale to law-abiding
CIVILIAN customers, including members of the Unorganized Montana Militia,
in keeping with the intent of the Second Amendment and the 1934 National
Firearms Act. Promise to collect and remit their $200 "transfer tax" on
each weapon you manufacture and sell, and tell them your goal is to
eventually produce and sell 10,000 new machine guns each year
(militia-style, no "legitimate sporting use" that you know of), to
law-abiding American CIVILIANS, at a cost of $900 apiece. See how far you
Barring a War of Western Secession -- which grows increasingly likely --
it'll be the same with handguns, within 10 years. Pretty soon they'll pull
your "firearms permit" for such crimes as trying to pay cash for medical
services to someone other than your "assigned health care provider."
And as for retaining ownership of any firearm NOT on your "concealed
carry" permit ... forget it. After all, no one can legitimately "need" more
than one or two, can they? And therefore we OBVIOUSLY have to do an annual
"courtesy home inspection" to make sure you don't have any extras, which
would only serve as a temptation to burglars ...
Are you ready to defend your freedom? You speak of mindset, of folks
being paralyzed because they really haven't considered the tough questions
in advance. Well: "Have you made the decision that you could and would use
a handgun to shoot and kill a uniformed government officer who was 'just
following orders,' attempting to deprive you or others of your/their Second
Amendment rights?" Would you aim for body mass, or for the bridge of the
nose? Let her lie wounded, or quickly close in to put another round in the
back of the head? Lift the hair, or shoot through it? And has it occurred
to you that when that day comes, the fellow guarding your 6 may be an
"armed former felon"?
The other side wants Total Victim Disarmament. Once we help them disarm
"just a few dangerous ex-felons," they're going to smile and start pushing
that wedge in, wider and wider. Ever been convicted of misdemeanor spouse
abuse? Ever agreed to go to a mental health care facility for 72 hours
observation to calm down a concerned loved one because you got depressed
and hit the bottle for a week after a close friend or relative died? Sorry,
no firearms for you.
Shooting ranges? All shut down due to noise and lead pollution. Ammo?
That box of 20 shells will be $220, thanks to the Moynihan
thousand-percent ammo tax ... but don't worry, the extra money goes to the
medical care of gang members ("little children") recovering in the hospital
after being shot while committing grand theft, while the officers who shot
them face million-dollar civil liability suits.
Vin Suprynowicz is one of
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