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One of the talking points that gun fondlers are always putting out is that “our founding fathers believed in an individual right to keep and bear arms in order to overthrow tyranny, and it says so right in the Federalist Papers!”.

So: I went to a site with the complete text of the Federalist Papers, and went searching for the word “arms”.

The word “arms” appears 27 times in the Federalist Papers. It appears in two contexts — in reference to the arms of foreign nations, and in reference to the arms of the militia.

There is not a single reference to arms in the context of individuals. The militia, however, are referenced 64 times in the Federalist Papers, or almost three times as many times as the word “arms”. Think the Founding Fathers thought the militia was important? If you think the Federalist Papers are an accurate depiction of their thought, they sure did! The militia are mentioned primarily in two contexts: as a defense against tyranny, and as the principal military force used to resist invasion of the United States.

Remember the militia clauses from Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution?

Congress shall have the power … To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

The arguments put forth were that the militia clauses were necessary in order to

a) make sure that the militia was properly armed and organized so that the militia, not the regular Army, could be the principal armed force of the country. The regular Army’s duty would be to hold off the attacker until the militia could be called up to deal with them, and the militia had to be armed and trained to regular army standards because the militia would work with the regular army,

b) the militia had to be able to be placed under Federal control in order to coordinate effectively when doing so.

One argument was that if put under Federal control, the militia could be used to enforce tyranny. The answer was that by reserving the appointment of officers and the authority for training to the states, if the Federal government tried to impose tyranny using the militia, the fact that the officers are appointed by the states would lead to the militia refusing to obey those tyrannical orders.

But what if a state’s militia attempted to impose tyranny within that particular state? Well, by being able to federalize the surrounding states’ militias, the Federal government and surrounding states could overthrow that tyranny and bring back democracy.

The militia, then, was viewed as the principal means to resist a tyrannical government, whether it was a tyrannical state government or a tyrannical Federal government. Federalist #46 takes that to its ultimate extreme. James Madison states that the individual states amongst them were capable of raising up to 500,000 militia from amongst themselves, and the Federal government was incapable of arming and feeding more than 50,000 soldiers, or literally 1/10th of that number, thus if the Federal government decided to use its military to enforce tyranny, the states had the ability to resist and overthrow said government.

Based solely on the text of the Federalist Papers, therefore, the only right I can see that the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment was the right of members of state-organized militias to keep and bear arms. They viewed state-organized militias, not individuals with muskets, as the principal bulwark against tyranny.

But read the text yourself and see what you think. Don’t believe what anybody else says about the Federalist papers. You’re an adult. You can read. Read it yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you think you can find an individual right to keep and bear arms in order to resist tyranny mentioned anywhere there, please let me know which paper and which paragraph you found it in. Curious penguins are… curious!

– Badtux the Reading Penguin

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Republican lawmaker’s office and major Republican propaganda outlets claim that there was no school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and that all the kids being shown on TV are crisis actors.

Yeah, Anthony Borges sure is one helluva crisis actor. So much so that he got shot with 5 actual bullets.

“But these kids are too articulate!” shout the conspiracy theory pushers. Well duh. The TV folks naturally are going to focus on the articulate kids, not the average half-illiterate high school kid who would just stammer and stammer. These kids are no more articulate than the best kids were back in my day, which was admittedly before Raygun was president.

You can validate that these young people actually exist. You can go down to the high school in question, if you’re willing to leave your cloistered home, and validate that there’s a high school there, and there was really a school shooting there, you can stop high school students going in and out of the school and ask them “do you know so-and-so who was on the news the other day?” and they’ll say they’ve seen them in the hall…

Yet these Republican lawmakers and Republican propaganda tools would rather create ridiculous conspiracy theories than face up to the fact that, well, high school kids don’t like getting shot at in their own high school, and can be articulate in their distaste for being shot at in their own high school. What kind of MONSTER would do something like that, creating a conspiracy theory where it’s easy to check what actually happened?

Oh yeah, right. REPUBLICAN lawmakers and propaganda tools.

Finally, the governor of Florida called on the FBI director to resign for not doing anything about Nikolas Cruz. What, exactly, is the FBI supposed to have done? Until he shot up a high school (thus violating the federal Gun Free Schools Act), he hadn’t broken any Federal laws. Refer him to local law enforcement? Local law enforcement knew Cruz intimately already — the Sheriff’s office had already been called about Cruz’s behavior twenty times before the shooting — and other local law enforcement had already visited him another 19 times. What, exactly, was the FBI supposed to do when Florida law enforcement had already visited Cruz 39 times? Extradite him to Gitmo? Uhm, it doesn’t work like that, peeps. They couldn’t do anything about Cruz because he was angry, not crazy, and angry isn’t a mental illness (see prior post). They couldn’t do anything because he was exercising his 1st Amendment free speech rights and hadn’t stepped beyond free speech into the realm of terrorist threats (see prior post). So anyhow, apparently Florida law authorities during Governor Medicare Cheat’s term of office knew about Cruz, and did nothing. And so Scott’s flunkies are passing the buck to the FBI? For realz?

These people have no shame.

But they’re Republicans. So I guess we already knew that.

– Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Whenever there’s one of these school shootings there’s a quick rush by the NRA to shout “we need better mental health treatment!”. Here’s the thing: Mental illness has nothing to do with school shootings. The DSM5, the master book of diagnosable mental disorders, doesn’t even have a single classification that applies to most school shooters.

Most school shooters are angry. Not mentally ill. The stats are pretty clear — violence by the mentally ill is no more common than violence by non-mentally-ill people. Anger is not a mental illness, otherwise half the shouters on talk radio would be in asylums.

But, you say, threatening to shoot up schools is at least a threat! Well, uhm…. not so fast. First of all, it has to be provably what’s called a “true threat”. It has to cause someone to be alarmed, thus it has to be specific — there has to be someone that is the target of the speech who feels threatened by the speech. Furthermore, the State must prove that you intended for people to feel alarmed. It can’t be a joke mentioned in passing, there has to be intent to cause alarm. You can thus post a YouTube video of you posing with an AR-15 saying “I’m going to be the best school shooter ever!” and it does not qualify under the Elonis Test as a “true threat”. Because it’s not a specific threat against a specific school at a specific time, there’s nothing actionable there — it’s protected speech under the 1st Amendment.

Now, let’s talk about someone who is mentally ill, who is in possession of an AR-15. Surely we can take the AR-15 away from him, right?

Uhm, no. First of all, only those who have been involuntarily committed as a threat to themselves or others lose their gun rights. You can be on more psychotropic drugs than Keith Richards and still be legally allowed to own firearms.

Now, let’s look at what’s necessary to get someone involuntarily committed: Mental health professions must make a case at a court hearing that you present an eminent danger to yourself or others due to a disorder described in the DSM5. They must *prove* that you are a danger. The fact that you utter vague threats is not enough. They have to prove that you’re actually trying to carry out those threats, and furthermore that this is because of a psychiatric condition diagnosable under DSM5. If it’s because of other issues — because, say, someone cut you off in traffic and you threatened to beat his ass, i.e., simple anger (which, remember, is *NOT* a DSM5 psychiatric disorder) — then you won’t be involuntarily committed.

The reality is that the bar for involuntary commitment is so high in the United States, thanks to past abuses of the process, that basically the only way you can be involuntarily committed as a threat to others is if you’ve already done harm to others. You have a 4th Amendment right to be secure in your person against seizure by the state. Simply ranting that you intend to do harm to (non-specific) others is insufficient to violate that right, you have to have actually done something that is harmful to yourself or others or at least credibly threatens yourself and others. And remember, you have to do this while being diagnosable with a condition under DSM5 and it must be related to your diagnosis. Simply uttering threats and ranting aren’t enough, otherwise Alex Jones would be in jail.

In short: Better access to mental health treatment would certainly be nice. But it won’t stop school shootings, and the people claiming it does are just lying to you when they say it would. And the way the Constitution works, there’s nothing — zero — that the police can do beforehand in most cases. “I hate school” is protected speech under the 1st Amendment. “I hate school and I wish someone would shoot it up” is protected speech under the 1st Amendment (see: Brandenburg v. Ohio, it has to be a specific incitement to a specific person to do a specific thing, wishful thinking isn’t enough). Even saying “I will be the best school shooter ever” isn’t enough. The 1st Amendment protects speech that is ominous but not specific. For the vast majority of school shooters, there is nothing — zero, nada — that can be done beforehand. They can’t be committed. They can’t be charged with issuing threats. All that can happen is that the police issue a notice to schools to be on the lookout for this person and call the police if you see them on your campus. Even that’s problematic, because the city or county could be sued for defamation.

The reality is that there’s only one sure-fired solution for school shootings, and that is to outlaw the weapons most used in school shootings — pistols and rifles with box magazines. Nobody has ever done a school shooting with a .38 revolver and nobody has ever done a school shooting with a single-shot bolt action rifle or lever gun. And because of this reality, the NRA and their cronies in power are quick to redirect attention to mental health, police failing to follow up on threatening speech, etc… none of which, thanks to the 1st and 4th Amendments, are anything that the police can do anything about.

– Badtux the Civil Liberties Penguin

Of the 15070 murders that happened in 2016 where we know what weapon was used to kill, 11004 were committed with firearms. Over 70% were committed with handguns and 30% with long guns (or unknown kind of gun).

“Guns don’t kill, people do!” is the NRA talking point. But the numbers are clear: People with guns kill a lot more people than people without guns. Sure, you can hit someone over the head with a big rock or a hammer and kill them. But only 472 people managed to do so in 2016. Sure, you can poison someone. But only 11 people were murdered with poison in 2016. Guns just are super effective at killing people. In fact, the only other method of killing people that broke the four digit mark was murder by knife, which killed 1604 people in 2016 — a significantly smaller number than 11004. (Which, BTW, is why I don’t complain when cops kill someone who’s coming at them with a knife — it’s a deadly weapon, albeit only 1/10th as deadly as a gun in the big picture).

So what’s the NRA response to the reality that people with guns kill a lot more people than people without guns?

[CRICKETS].

So it goes. It isn’t as if anything’s going to be done. I almost didn’t even bother posting about the 19 year old MAGAt who murdered 17 people at Parkland High School in Florida, including fourteen students. Because what’s the point? It’s not as if anything’s going to be done. This uniquely deadly weapon, the gun, will still be widely available to any looney who decides to kill someone, regardless of whatever I post.

So fuck it. I’m going to watch videos of Chloe Kim pulling off back-to-back 1080’s.

She reminds me of a friend of mine, who is also short and Asian and a snowboarder, albeit somewhat older (in her late 50’s). If they’d had snowboarding in the Olympics thirty years ago, I like to think that my friend would have been up there… as it is, she’s slowed down a bit in her late 50’s, as have all of us. She still snowboards though… heckuva lot better than I ever did, or ever will.

– Badtux the Fact-based Penguin

Death used to be a big deal. The whole family would gather at a church, while the deceased’s corpse rested in a coffin at the front. There would be lots of flowers all around. A preacher would say some words. There might be a hymn played or performed. Then everybody would troop out to the graveyard to plant the corpse, and afterwards withdraw to the home belonging to the nearest next of kin, bringing along potluck dishes to feed the hoard. Folding tables might be set up on the lawn to hold the food, and folding chairs brought out from all around as people sat around talking about the deceased and catching up on family business. Then everybody would go home, until the next time.

But that was in a time of connection, when families were large and connected with each other, before the nuclear family blew up our society and turned it into isolated islands. Sunday I went to a “Celebration of Life” for a friend who died unexpectedly. A “Celebration of Life” is a California thing, I guess, where people get together with pictures of the deceased and talk about him and view pictures of his life. This was at the shop of an auto restoration business whose owners had met my friend via our Jeep club. There was no body present, no minister, no flowers, none of the trappings of the traditional Death industry. One of the members of the Jeep club is a caterer, and he catered some goodies to eat while we remembered our friend. And that is that. No children. No wife. His only living relative an older sister, who spoke of her memories. A girlfriend spoke of her memories. A street preacher who was the husband of a woman who worked at the shop and had visited my friend in the hospital spoke of his memories. No visiting a grave. He was cremated, and basically tossed to the winds.

That is our society today. Cremated, and tossed to the winds.

My mother was an only child. My father was an only child. My brother and I were their only children, and neither of us have children, though my brother has step-children. I guess I can leave whatever to the oldest of my brother’s stepchildren if my brother predeceases me, as is likely since my brother is younger than I am but lives in Louisiana, where people die on average ten years sooner than here in California. But when I die… it is likely that the story will be the same. Except I doubt that there will be forty people who show up to share memories of me. I doubt there will be anyone at all.

Because that is how we live, and that is how we die, in this time of societal dissolution and isolation.

– Badtux the Sombre Penguin

Yeah, I’ve had this here before, but it came up again in my playlist, so you get to listen to it again.

– Badtux the Music Penguin

Trump lied about a border agent’s death. So Trump invented an imaginary attack upon border patrol agents. It turns out that it was a simple auto accident — the driver ran off the road and slammed into a culvert, maybe after being sideswiped by a big rig.

But Trump used his trumped-up lie to tar a whole group of people as being evil criminals and as an excuse to instate brutal policies that tear families apart. And the MAGAts don’t seem to care that it’s all based on a lie. Because for a large subset of Americans, any chance to demonize brown people is fine, whether it’s true or a lie makes no difference to them.

If you wonder why I despise Trump, it’s not because he’s a Republican. It’s because he’s a liar, and I despise liars. They’re the 10 Commandments, not the 10 Suggestions, and one of those Commandments is “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. Add in the blatant bigotry, and, well.

— Badtux the Annoyed Penguin