The Gun Control Issue: How Political Doublespeak is Disarming the American Populace
THE SEMANTICS OF DISARMAMENT
by ANDREW GLIDDEN
MARCH 2013 / VOL. 14 / NO. 1 / CaliforniaPatriot.Org
On the cover: Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix, 1830. This painting inspired Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty in New York City.
Of the time a gun is used for self defense, no one is ever shot.
Guns are 60 times more likely to be used to save lives than to take them.
Saved by defensive use for every 1 suicide, homicide, or accidental death
Incidence of school shootings in states without right to carry laws vs. states with right to carry laws.
Vol. 14, No.1 | March 2013 EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Brendan Pinder Publisher Shawn Lewis Managing Editor James Presley-Nelson Layout and Online Grace Meador Editor Opinion Editor Alexis Boyd Deputy Publisher Jonathan Stewart
Opinion Bobby Saxton Contributers William Kwok Andrew Glidden Steven Johnson James Xing Jacob Grant Minutemen Contributors Joseph Benapfl Grace Meador Brendan Pinder B U S I NShawn E S S Lewis
FOUNDERS Kelso G. Barnett Tyler R. Monroe
C O N TA C T I N F O R M A T I O N
California Patriot P.O. Box 4428 Berkeley, CA 94704 Phone: (209) 535-6069 CaliforniaPatriotMagazine@gmail.com www.CaliforniaPatriot.org The California Patriot is a non profit publication produced by the students of Cal. The opinions expressed in articles, features, photos, cartoons, ads, or editorials are solely those of the individual author(s) or sponsor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or the Staff. Cal is not responsible for the content of the California Patriot, nor is the California Patriot responsible for the content of Cal.
Dear Patriot readers, I am proud, at long last, to present the newest issue of the California Patriot. Since the election last November, being a conservative at Berkeley has become all the more trying. And we thought liberal smugness couldn’t get any worse… However, if there is one thing you can be happy about concerning our current strife, it is that the worse it gets here, the more our writers have to write about! In this issue, we focus on the recent debate over gun control, one that has certainly made its way onto the Berkeley campus. Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook last December, the country has been plunged into yet another fierce debate about the role of guns in a free society. However, instead of honest and open discussion, what we all too often see are myths and misinformation flooding the media industry and Washington alike. Sorting the fact from the fiction now seems harder than ever. And this is precisely what our current issue seeks to do. This year, I am honored to serve as Editor-in-Chief alongside several other new additions to the Patriot team. Joining us this year is James PresleyNelson as Managing Editor, Alexis Boyd as Opinion Editor and Jonathan Stewart as the new Deputy Publisher. I am just as happy to see Shawn Lewis continuing as our dedicated Publisher and the ever-tireless Grace Meador as our Online and Layout Editor. There are also two new faces joining our talented lineup of contributors. In this issue I am proud to introduce Joseph Benapfl who writes this month about the troubling trend of sacrificing etymological history for the sake of political correctness; and Steven Johnson, who provides a unique perspective on Obama’s recent “evolution” on same-sex marriage. All of us here at the California Patriot are excited to continue this publication’s long history of quality reporting and biting editorials. We are ever thankful for your ongoing support, and look forward to continuing our fight against the manic Left-wing masses here at Berkeley.
Brendan Pinder EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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2 BOBBY SAXTON
obby is a fourth year Molecular and Cell biology major from Los Angeles California. He is currently the Co-President of Students for Liberty, UC Berkeley’s premier libertarian student group. Bobby is interested in the Austrian school of economics and economic history, as well as Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.
ndrew is the former Editor-in-Chief of the California Patriot. His writings have appeared in local, state, and national media outlets. He also blogs about economics and public policy at andrewglidden.com. He will be entering doctorate study in Economics in the Fall.
oseph, a Lodi native, is a junior Media Studies major at UC Berkeley. An avid Cal sports fan, he can usually be found daydreaming about better fantasy football strategies five months before the season starts. Joseph plays racquetball for the Cal Racquetball club and works at Cal Dining, where he prefers to call out Late Night order numbers using his patented “announcing voice.”
teven is a fourth-year Political Economy major hailing from Fresno, CA. His passion for politics began his senior year of high school and has since become an integral part of his life. In addition to geeking out over politics, Steven is also a hardcore pop culture enthusiast and is particularly interested in how popular culture reflects the attitudes and political context of a given era.
Tired of hearing about the one-sided view of the media? Then please contribute to the California Patriot. Feel free to contact the editor-in-chief, Brendan Pinder at BrendanPinder@gmail.com
The Semantics of Disarmament by ANDREW GLIDDEN
MARCH 2013 / VOL. 14 / NO. 1 / CaliforniaPatriot.Org
THE MINUTEMEN 8
It Ain’t Easy Being Green
Oh The Humynity!
10 Life in the Berkeley Bubble 11 Republican Legislators Want to Freeze Your Tuition
OPINION 12 Gun Control and the Drug War 14 Brittania: A Cautionary Tale 16 The Semantics of Disarmament 20 Hardly Evolutionary 22 Letters from the Ivory Tower
24 Robert H. Bork : A Lesson in Judicial Restraint
College Republicans hosted a “Dunk a Republican fundraiser for Wounded Warriors on the main plaza of campus. It was a hit!
IT AIN’T EASY BEING GREEN by GRACE MEADOR
M California Patriot
y first week back to school, I went to the local market. I hefted my basket of groceries onto the counter, and I felt the woman behind the checkout counter wince. “You brought bags?” she asked, hopefully. I was momentarily confused, then remembered— plastic bags were now a thing of the past in Alameda county. I admitted I had none and had to wince myself when she bagged my items in paper bags (for which I was charged 10 cents apiece). This change has produced widespread annoyance for shoppers everywhere in Alameda, representing yet another liberal regulation that indirectly suppresses the commerce the Bay Area so badly needs.
However, this ban has even further reaching consequences than making it harder for consumers to shop. Seattle’s plastic bag ban instituted in July 2012 resulted in increased shoplifting, according to a survey in which as many as 21.1% of Seattle business owners reported an increase in shoplifting due to customers hiding items inside their reusable bags. It is not hard to imagine this happening in Alameda county, especially in Berkeley. Even more disturbing research links reusable bag use to higher death rates from E. coli. In a study from 2011, researchers found E. coli in 8% of reusable bags randomly tested from grocery shoppers in California and Arizona. Many shoppers put meat in the same bag as produce or bread products,
resulting in even more risk for cross contamination. But when you only have one or two bags, making all of the groceries fit is a more immediate priority than isolating meat products. Unfortunately, this bacterial threat is more than just theoretical, as scholars from University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Law and Economics discovered by examining data from the San Francisco area. According to their findings, “both deaths and ER visits spiked as soon as the ban went into effect” with 50-100% increases of incidences of foodborne illnesses. This study estimates 5 deaths yearly resulting from the bacteria in reusable bags. But hey, nobody ever claimed the Hippy lifestyle was a sanitary one right? ■
OH THE HUMYNITY! be a more accurate substitute, one cannot add syllables to poetry willy-nilly. “Sons of California” should remain. Another word under attack is “freshman,” the appropriate substitute for being “first-year.” Similar to “Sons of California,” the word “freshman” dates back 450 years, when only men would have applied. Once again, the two terms are not completely synonymous. A “first-year” could theoretically refer to any activity in which one is new. A “freshman” innately denotes education, inexperience, and “clean-slate” aspects of being “fresh.” Conversely, “first-year” is a literal statement. Obviously, “freshwoman” isn’t implemented, because calling a woman “fresh” is gen-
erally frowned upon. Freshman, while literally inaccurate, is the more symbolically correct term. Nobody dares to change Neil Armstrong’s “Mankind” quotation, or alters Kubrick’s 2001 prologue, “The Dawn of Man.” Such modifications are sacrilegious. Yet, Jesus’ designation “fishers of men” was changed to “fishers of people” at a recent Berkeley church service. In many cases, historical and symbolic significance outweigh any anachronisms in certain words. This gender-neutrality movement, while well-intentioned, fails to carry over all implied meanings of masculine terms. ■
n the February 26 edition of UC Berkeley’s newspaper, The Daily Californian, a student contributed a progressively-minded op-ed regarding hurtful discourse. In the piece, the author opted to use “womyn” instead of the traditional spelling, “woman.” While unusual, this de-masculinization of “woman” is one example of a growing gender-neutrality trend in the Berkeley community. Apparently, the desire to be gender-neutral in today’s world is mandatory (myndatory?). However, in most cases, retroactively replacing masculine words with neutral substitutes devalues the tradition surrounding the word’s context and unintentionally changes the text’s meaning. During last fall’s Cal football season, the University distributed a promotional video featuring Cal’s fight songs. In one song, the line “Sons of California” had been changed to “Kin of California.” Undoubtedly, the song’s lyrics were written when only men would sing it. Changing it to include women makes sense, but the words “sons” and “kin” aren’t interchangeable. The former represents a parent-child relationship; the latter denotes family or relatives. In the song, California is imagined as “fair mistress of the sea.” This reminds listeners of California’s state seal, featuring Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, overlooking the Pacific. Minerva, a protective warrior, is better suited as a parental figure rather than a familial one. Additionally, Minerva’s fighting demeanor provides women a symbol of strength. As sons of California, students are encouraged to fight for her, as one would fight for a beloved leader. While “children” would
by JOSEPH BENAPFL
LIFE IN THE BERKELEY BUBBLE by BRENDAN PINDER There is absolutely nothing a college-aged liberal loves more than an excuse to be outraged. Perhaps due to a natural predisposition for bitterness or an insatiable longing to have lived in the 1960s, few things seem to give as much pleasure to them as a good union protest or the chance to call themselves “oppressed.” And yet, in this time of “social progress” and “change,” what happens when opportunities for these things start dwindling? Indeed, our perfectly insulated college community provides nearly nothing at all that should upset even the most bleedingheart idealist. So what are they to do? The picture is not a pretty one. It’s actually almost comical to watch, once you see it— like an endangered species realizing its habitat is quickly disappearing, tearing about, grabbing here and there for any scrap of possible controversy they can find or invent. The phenomenon is easy to spot. Within minutes of an evangelist starting to hand out his tracts on Sproul Plaza or a libertarian student group setting up
Student ‘activists’ practice their outraged glares on Christian evangelists on campus.
their stand, they descend. A common occurrence on campus is the arrival of sign-wielding fringe-groups, who come merely to be provocative. This is a particular delight to the college liberal. Immediately students will gather around and cry out accusations of hate and homophobia, all the while secretly overjoyed at yet another chance to be warriors for tolerance, pretending that these incendiaries are representative of the “hateful” outside world. And this self-congratulatory practice is by no means a private one. The whole point of these confrontations is quite simply to be seen doing them. Where an average person may be glad to be considered a good friend or honest, at Berkeley it is being called an “activist” or an “organizer” that are the most sought after social accolades. The same can be said for the nearly politically heterogeneous student government. Nary a month goes by without a senate bill being drafted in response to some overinflated controversy. Should there be no excuse to get angry about
campus issues, the student senate may very well begin to draft bills condemning US foreign policy or war crimes in the Middle East, until the Berkeley student government looks more like a high school Model UN. Even more entertaining, is watching the students who blindly join the many ambiguous protests through campus, with vague understandings of just what it is they are protesting. Like moths to a flame, the sound of a megaphone draws crowds. Recently the university administration paid for a campus-wide survey to gauge, what it called, the campus climate. Citing a previous study reporting that one out of every four Latino students felt that their ethnic group was not “respected” on campus, its endless slew of over 100 similarly worded questions seemed to be begging for any kind of data that could depict Berkeley as an “unsafe” space. Berkeley is the most hyper-politically correct and progressive campus in the country. There are countless student groups and facilities for every conceivable combination of ethnic, cultural and gender identity. The campus is a veritable cushioned room of inclusion, creating an unnaturally “feel-good” atmosphere. We are in fact so worried here of being called exclusionary, that the campus lives in a state of constant paranoia of being labeled as such. We even have a fully-paid administrator whose sole job is to be the Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion. If Berkeley—liberal, wild, progressive, over-sensitive, comfortable Berkeley—is a place of intolerance, then what does that make the rest of the real world, outside the Berkeley bubble? ■
MINUTEMEN REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS WANT TO FREEZE YOUR TUITION be committed to public education, it’s difficult to know exactly where Prop 30 revenue goes. We do know that Governor Brown’s initial budget proposal included a $1.3 billion wage and benefits increase for California public employees. Californians voted to keep education affordable for students, not to give public employees a pay raise. In an article I wrote for the Daily Californian last October, I expressed my concern that exactly this would happen. Based on the vague language in Prop 30, the fear tactics used to pass it, and legislative precedent in Sacramento, several critics had no confidence that Prop 30 funds would be fully committed to public education. While I, along with many others, opposed Proposition 30 on the November ballot, we can all agree now that we have these additional tax revenues, we must do everything we can to hold Sacramento accountable and commit Prop 30 money to public education in California.One ‘Yes on 30’ television ad featured California State Controller John Chiang claiming, “With strict accountability, money must go to the classrooms and can’t be touched by Sacramento politicians.”There currently exists no such accountability. By knocking on doors, making phone calls, and registering tens of thousands of new voters, student leaders fought to secure additional tax revenue for public education from Proposition 30. Is this where students’ efforts are supposed to stop? Get Prop 30 passed and let Sacramento politicians do the rest? Last November, students demonstrated their actions can make a difference—but what we decide to do
with our voices now can have an even greater impact on the future public higher education in California. Fortunately, there exists a proposal in the California State Legislature that would hold politicians in Sacramento accountable and further commit Prop 30 funds to pubic education. The UC, CSU, and Community College tuition freeze proposed by Republicans addresses the two critical weaknesses in Prop 30: 1) currently, there is no way to ensure these new tax revenues are being spent on public education; and 2) even if the state budget committed 100% of Prop 30 funds to education, issues like excessive executive salary compensation and risky Wall Street investments very well may receive this money rather than students. Assembly Bill 67 and Senate Bill 58 simply remove tuition hikes as an option to bailout poor budgeting in Sacramento or financial mismanagement by the UC, CSU, and Community College administrations. With this new law, legislators would have to finally get serious about finding sustainable ways to keep public higher education affordable and accessible to all Californians.Remember that tuition at the UC and CSUs has more than tripled over the past 10 years. Where do we expect tuition to be another 10 years from now? Because students worked so hard to get Prop 30 passed, it is now our responsibility to hold Sacramento accountable with these new funds, and supporting this 7-year tuition freeze is a first step that would have immediate positive effects on every student in California. ■
n November 2012, for the first time in over two decades, Californians elected to directly raise taxes on themselves by passing Proposition 30 by a healthy 10-point margin. By passing Proposition 30, Californian voters affirmed their commitment to fully fund public education by sacrificing more of their paycheck with higher taxes. The tax increases in Proposition 30 were approved in the spirit of safeguarding public education funding; however, just months after its passage, we already see Prop 30 funds being spent elsewhere. Although the UC and CSU systems were able to avoid a midyear tuition increase, painful tuition hikes still loom in the near future. Pending legislation in California State Senate and Assembly, SB 58 and AB 67, would freeze tuition at their current rates for all UC, CSU and Community Colleges for the 7-year lifetime of Prop 30. Prop 30’s hefty 3.45% increase to sales tax and establishment of the highest personal income tax rates in the nation will generate roughly $50 billion over the next 7 years. Although Proposition 30 revenues are estimated to reach $6 billion this year alone, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget includes just $2.7 billion in additional funding for public education (only $125 million of that amount going to the UC and CSU systems).If less than half of Prop 30 revenue is being spent on public education this year, where is the rest of money going? Because Prop 30 did not include a statutory requirement or guarantee that the additional revenues would
by SHAWN LEWIS
OPINION GUN CONTROL AND THE DRUG WAR by BOBBY SAXTON
Photo Credit: Vladimir Milivojevich
n the wake of the devastating Sandy Hook elementary school shooting this past December, media pundits and politicians alike have been clamoring for the federal government to do anything and everything it can to prevent similar tragedies in the future. While analysts with any understanding of history and logic recognize that reinstituting oppressive and ineffective gun control laws will not solve anything, liberal pundits such as Piers Morgan are at least correct when they point out that America does have a very serious problem. With over 11,000 gun murders per year, there is no question that the United States has an unacceptably high rate of gun violence compared to other industrialized nations, and in-
dividuals on both sides of the aisle agree that the federal government should be addressing this problem now. Though mass public shootings tend to receive the most media attention, the vast majority of gun violence actually does not involve suburban white neighborhoods and schools, but rather low-income inner cities where gang membership and drug trafficking are particularly prevalent. While there are certainly many factors that contribute to the problem of inner-city violence in America, if one had to identify a single policy that best facilitates this problem, the blame should without a doubt fall on the costly, ineffective and tyrannical Federal war on drugs. Both history and basic econom-
ics make clear that banning any good for which there is high and very inelastic demand will result in the formation of a criminal black market to fill the need of consumers. Since black markets are by definition illegal, they tend to attract and primarily benefit members of the criminal class, who are also by nature those most likely to be involved in violent crimes. The best historical example of this is of course the alcohol prohibition in 1920s America, which resulted for the first time in the formation of well-funded organized crime as well as a dramatic rise in overall gun violence. The current prohibition on narcotics is no different. Through this new prohibition the government has given the drug gangs and cartels a de facto monopoly
on the sale of drugs and has allowed them to expand tremendously as a result. Furthermore, DOJ statistics show that gang members, and drug dealers in particular, are the most likely individuals to carry guns and use them in crimes. It should come as no surprise therefore that, just as in the 1920’s, the current propping up of gangs by ill-advised government policy is also associated with the high rates of gun crimes in urban areas where these gangs primarily operate. In addition to the economic benefits and incentives drug prohibition provides to violent gangs, the actual enforcement of federal drug laws also contributes to the high levels of gun violence in American cities. Since the escalation of the war on drugs under Reagan in the early 1980s, the United States has implemented a mass incarceration program of drug offenders, with over 1.5 million arrests and 500,000 individuals now incarcerated each year on non-violent drug charges, many of which are for marijuana. Harsh sentencing in federal prisons often transforms non-violent drug users into hardened violent criminals, feeding the cycle of drug use and gun violence after their release. These mass incarcerations, which disproportionately impact low-income minori-
ties, have the added effect of destroying the economic stability of the families of those imprisoned, further feeding the vicious cycle of drug use, gang membership and gun violence that plagues America’s inner-cities most targeted by the “war on drugs.” There is no question that the high rate of drug use in the United States is a serious problem that must be addressed. However, politicians must also recognize that a policy costing taxpayers nearly 80 billion dollars per year, which has failed to significantly lower rates of drug use while simultaneously propping up violent drug cartels and economically destroying American inner-cities, cannot be the best solution. Federal policy should instead follow the lead of countries such as Portugal which have had tremendous success in lowering drug use through a combination of decriminalization and public health initiatives, effectively transforming the issue of drug use from a criminal problem to a mental health problem. Implementing this Portugal model in the United States would likely yield similar results: removing the financial incentives of gangs and drug cartels while helping nonviolent drug users overcome their problems, rather than transforming them into hardened crim-
inals and destroying their communities. Ultimately, if America hopes to ever achieve significantly lower rates of gun violence, particularly in low-income urban areas where it is most prevalent, we must take a serious look at changing our failed federal drug policy in favor of a rational and fair public health approach that will help make all Americans safer.
Gotcha! An Arizona sheriff points to a large cargo of Marijuana discovered en route from Mexico.
OPINION BRITANNIA: A CAUTIONARY TALE by WILLIAM KWOK
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
s Americans, we like to think of our nation as the fount of freedom and democracy, formed at a time when most of the world lived in tyranny. However, the United Kingdom is in many ways the birthplace of the modern democratic state. Great Britain was the home of John Locke, and a refuge for both Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Not only that, but the British Parliamentary system has been adopted in some form on every inhabited continent. Indeed, liberty has long been con-
sidered a central tenet of what it means to be British, with the patriotic song “Rule, Britannia!” declaring in every stanza, “Britons never shall be slaves.” Given Great Britain’s historic role as a bastion of freedom, it is all the more chilling to examine the degree to which the British people have been forced to surrender their freedoms in the last decade and a half, lost to a power hungry government bent on expanding its influence. Under the guise of fighting piracy, British courts set a precedent two years ago allowing Internet censor-
ship by court order. Just last year, Internet service providers were forced by the high court to block a number of websites. Although only sites that facilitate file sharing have been targeted thus far, British courts are in no way constrained in what websites may be blocked, opening the door to wider Internet censorship in the future. In fact, the creation of a robust system for censorship appears to be a bipartisan goal of the British government. Labour and Conservative MPs alike have pushed for a blacklist of un-
“Cameron’s conclusions about social media in the face of protests and riots closely mirror those of leaders in Tehran, Damascus and Beijing after the Arab Spring” Sadly, censorship is only the first of many similarities between the oncefree British nation and a totalitarian regime like communist China. According to Privacy International, a non-profit government watchdog, Britain ties with Singapore as the fourth most surveillance-heavy nation, trailing only China, Malaysia and Russia. In 2002, the British state gained the power to browse private e-mails and phone records without warrant, and it was reported that by 2006, there existed one government surveillance camera for every fourteen people. By 2009, some reports showed that Britain had actually surpassed China in total surveillance cameras by over 50%. The British government now tracks the movements of its citizens through automatic license plate scanners on the sides of roads, the identities of protestors are now stored in criminal databases, and a current government initiative, the Communications Capabilities Development Programme, is actively building a database of all private communications and internet browsing records. Finally, there is no finer example of the extent of the abuse of power
perpetrated by British authorities than in their almost comical fear of an armed populace. Having largely eviscerated private firearm ownership by 1997, British politicians were shocked to find that crime had not disappeared. Rather than reassessing their policies or examining academic studies, they promptly launched a witch-hunt over nebulously defined “offensive weapons,” which ranged from kitchen knives to baseball bats. In addition to their bewildering nature, these laws have encouraged extraordinary abuses of police power. In London and other metropolitan areas, the police have taken to arbitrarily searching pedestrians and vehicles without warrant. Britain is one of the United States’ closest allies, a nation connected to ours by both culture and history, and frighteningly, the United States is
headed down a similar bipartisan path of curtailing personal liberties. The Bush-era Patriot Act was renewed last year by President Obama, and the federal government has declared it legal to assassinate American citizens abroad without trial. In the past year, legislators have tried to pass Internet censorship laws similar to those of Britain in the form of SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA. Recently, Senator Feinstein led the charge in successfully extending the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Indeed, the United States only just beats Britain in freedom from surveillance. If we are to keep our freedom, we must realize just how fragile our liberties are, and resolve to never surrender them to the tyranny of government. We must fight at every step. Britannia may be lost, but God-willing, Americans never shall be slaves.■
desirable websites, and Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron himself expressed his desire to crack down on the usage of social media as a result of its role in the 2011 London riots. What is extraordinary is how similar these proposed measures are to those implemented by some of the most repressive regimes in the world. Cameron’s conclusions about social media in the face of protests and riots closely mirror those of leaders in Tehran, Damascus and Beijing after the Arab Spring, and a British Internet blacklist would be functionally identical to the widely criticized “Great Firewall of China.”
by ANDREW GLIDDEN
I California Patriot
THE SEMANTICS OF DISARMAMENT
n the wake of numerous mass shootings in 2012 – many of which involved rifles – gun control advocates have called for national attention to private gun ownership, with assault rifles squarely in their sights. Or, they would be, if assault rifles weren’t already illegal. Confused? So are gun rights activists. The issue is the result of a decades-long gun control effort to demonize legitimate civilian arms by labeling them as “assault weapons.” Those without significant shooting experience are likely to conflate “assault weapons” with
“assault rifles,” which are another thing entirely. This gives opponents of gun rights a huge advantage in the policy debate, because they can use the erroneous association to cast “assault weapons” as far more dangerous and uncontrollable than they actually are. “Opponents of gun rights can
primarily by selective fire, meaning that the shooter can select between firing modes such as burst and fully-automatic. Burst means that the firearm will fire a few times (typically 2-3) for each depression. Fully-automatic means that the firearm will continue firing for as long as the trigger is held down. An assault rifle is thus a type of light machine use the erroneous association gun, and has been illegal to own in the to cast ‘assault weapons’ as United States since 1986. In contrast, assault weapon is a far more dangerous than they uniquely American legal term describactually are.” ing a firearm – including handguns, An assault rifle is a rifle characterized rifles, and shotguns – with particular
Alternative mechanisms to semi-automatics are revolver, bolt-action, and lever-action. While semi-automatics do permit slightly faster shooting, the greatest difference to an experienced shooter is simply the amount of manipulation of the firearm between shots. In some cases, skilled shooters are able to fire more bullets and do more damage with lever- and bolt-action rifles than others could with a so-called “assault weapon.” The “legitimate civilian purpose” of a semi-automatic mechanism is ease-of-use in everything from sport
shooting to home defense. Manually chambering each cartridge takes effort and practice to do quickly, taking time, attention, and energy away from more important skills such as marksmanship. To a sport shooter, doing away with semi-automatics would be a significant inconvenience, but in home defense, it is a matter of life and death. A shooter without this extensive experience would have an extremely slow rate of fire and likely poor marksmanship, allowing an assailant to attack more quickly. An assault weapon also must have a detachable magazine, unless it is
features. It had never been used in law until the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Many have asked, “Why would anyone need an assault weapon?” and “What is the legitimate civilian purpose of an assault weapon?” The former question enters the dangerous territory of the government dictating what people do or do not need. The latter question is best answered by defining exactly what an assault weapon is. The defining feature of an assault weapon is semi-automatic firing mode – meaning it shoots exactly one bullet each time the trigger is pulled.
by ANDREW GLIDDEN
a shotgun. This means that the magazine – where cartridges are loaded – can be removed and reloaded by pressing a button. The alternative is a fixed magazine, which can only be removed and reloaded with a tool. The civilian purpose of a detachable magazine is obvious: requiring a tool to reload can be life threatening in a dangerous situation. Finally, an assault weapon must have two or more additional characteristics, which are purely cosmetic or extraneous features that do not affect the operation of the firearm. For rifles, these are:
• A folding or telescoping stock. A folding stock makes a firearm more compact during storage and transportation, while a telescoping or extendable stock enables the length of the firearm to be adjusted. • A pistol grip. This allows a shooter to hold the firearm with the hand oriented vertically, like a handgun, instead of horizontally. This feature makes the firearm easier to hold, and reduces wrist strain. • A bayonet mount. The name is deceiving – this actually refers to Picatinny rails, which are a standardized
mounting platform for accessories such as scopes, an essential tool for hunting, or tactical flashlights, which can be used to see targets at night or disorient assailants instead of resorting to lethal force. • A suppressor, or a threaded barrel that can be used to attach one. A suppressor reduces the sound and light produced by a firearm. A suppressor is merely an accessory to help protect the hearing of shooters and the people around them, not a way to stealthily assassinate people, as Hollywood would have people believe. • A grenade launcher. While
come prepared with extra magazines and spare firearms, making magazine restrictions a mere inconvenience to aggressors. Most importantly, it should be noted that hunting and recreation have nothing to do with the Second Amendment, which reads: “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.” As any scholar of the Second Amendment will agree, “militia” was understood to mean all civilians capable of bearing arms in defense of the country. These civilians were expected
to have their own firearms so that the country could quickly mobilize against any external or internal threat, from
“The most important civilian purpose of any firearm is its martial purpose.” invasion to insurrection. The most important “civilian” purpose of any firearm is its martial purpose. To suggest otherwise is to betray a gross ignorance of the Constitution and the rich history and intellectual tradition behind it..■ were put aside, our common identity asAmericans took precedence. At Yane-
there’s nearly universal agreement that these shouldn’t be in civilian hands, its association with other “assault weapon” features is ludicrous. What is Congress trying to say, that having a grenade launcher is fine so long as it doesn’t also come with a flashlight? A grenade launcher ban should stand by itself. The 1994 law also regulated “high capacity” magazines, which were arbitrarily defined as holding more than 10 rounds. This makes magazine capacity for everyday people potentially a life-or-death issue, as they would often need more than 10 rounds to defend themselves. Armed assailants generally
OPINION HARDLY EVOLUTIONARY by STEVEN JOHNSON
Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images
’m sure you saw the flood of Facebook statuses on May 9, 2012. President Barack Obama spoke out in support of samesex marriage in an interview on ABC News. For advocates of liberty all across the political spectrum, from the most radically liberal to the most staunchly libertarian, hearing the president proclaim support for what many view as a fundamental right was and continues to be seen as a
victory. Supporters of liberty seem to be entirely enthralled to see a sitting president’s views “evolve” to such a seemingly significant level. Yet upon further examination, it’s clear that Obama’s stance, however brave and admirable some may find it, is in actuality a flaccid and calculating move that does not support or promote any change that is not already taking place around the country. President Obama reaffirmed his views on LGBT
rights again in his second inaugural address, stating, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” This vague sound bite is better illuminated by his in-depth interview regarding samesex marriage, from the prior summer. In this interview, Obama did not speak out for same-sex marriage as a federal right, but merely voiced his support for “states working through this issue… all across the country,” saying that “different communi-
“Obama’s stance, is in actuality a flaccid and calculating move that does not support or promote any change that is not already taking place around the country..’”
fundamental right to a minority population. He recognizes that “this debate is taking place at a local level” and that “the whole country is evolving and changing,” but this passive stance is difficult to swallow, when just days prior to this interview, North Carolina voted by initiative to constitutionally ban samesex couples from marriage. Denying
AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski
rights from minority groups can hardly be seen as a “healthy process and a healthy debate.” This stance is particularly surprising coming from a President who, despite his rhetoric classifying marriage as a states-only issue, is in actuality reigniting a state issue that was already on the federal stage. The year 1967 brought the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision by the US Supreme Court, where, in his majority opinion, Chief Justice Warren wrote, “The State does not contend… that its powers to regulate marriage are unlimited notwithstanding the commands of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Essentially, the states are not given a blank check to define marriage rights, but rather they must follow the guidelines established by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. States are bound by the rules of the federal constitution, establishing marriage as a federally defined right that is
“This passive position does not support individual liberty, nor is it consistent with the constitutional precedent set by Loving v. Virginia.” handed down through the states. Yet whether it is left dormant for decades or brought back to the national stage, the President should not take a stance by simply accepting what is taking place. This passive position does not support individual liberty, the freedom to marry regardless of the gender of one’s partner, nor is it consistent with the constitutional precedent set by Loving v. Virginia. He cannot claim to be a champion for marriage equality while tolerating and even celebrating procedural discrimination on a stateby-state basis. This can hardly be considered a “healthy” process.■
ties are arriving at different conclusions, at different times.” He viewed this localized disparity of rights as a “healthy process and a healthy debate.” In essence, what the President is supporting is the status quo: individual states voting to support or deny a
OPINION LETTERS FROM THE IVORY TOWER by JAMES XING
s a student at the number one public university in America, I have interacted with many world class scholars who have a tremendous amount of intellect and knowledge of their fields. Knowing them, there is no doubt that their decades of research can certainly give us insights that are unknown to most people, and be beneficial for making effective policies for America. I therefore welcome intellectual elites to use their expertise in helping making governmental policies, but this does not mean I do not have an objection toward liberal elitism. I define a liberal elitist not as a left-leaning expert, as many professors of mine are liberals, intellectual elites, but not elitists. No, I define it as a liberal who possess arrogance toward ordinary Americans, who think because of the knowledge they have, that people like them alone are capable of deciding national policies, rather than for these policies to be decided by the American people. I have came across a book written by Princeton’s Professor of History Julian Zelizer titled <<Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975>>, which explicitly illustrates this arrogance that I call liberal elitism. Who was Wilbur D. Mills? He was a Democratic Congressman from the state of Arkansas who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1939 to 1977. He also served as the Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee from 1958 to 1975. At a time when there was no term limits for Committee Chairs, Mills’ expertise and credibility in tax policies, aided by his
WIlbur D. Mills chairmanship, made some describe him as the “most powerful man in Washington.” As a Congressman from Arkansas, he supported segregation in Arkansas
the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956 that denounced Brown v. Board of Education. To further secure his seat, he also used his power as the Chairman of House Ways and Means to make special “I define a liberal elitist as deals to his lobbyists and constituents, including securing federal projects, a liberal who posesses arsuch as “a missile launching complex” rogance towards ordinary in his district. From this, one can imagAmericans” ine what else he did to the U.S. national during the Civil Rights Movement, op- policies between 1950s and 1970s to posed the Civil Rights Act as “unneces- maintain his power. And for these 20 sary and unconstitutional,” and signed years, Mills was unstoppable. Being a
“...believes in Keynesianism, unlike the ‘irrational, impossible and unthinkable theories’ such as ‘radical free market conservatism’...” how, someone, somewhere, decided for the American people, that Keynesian economics is best for America. It is good, I firmly believe, for a scholar after decades of study, realizing a kind of policies to be superior to other kinds, to advocate and persuade other people why they should support this kind of policies. In fact, that is how a democracy should work, and that is why our society benefits from professors and experts. Yet, the kind of arrogance displayed in Professor Zelizer’s book, that it is better for an expert to use the
theory he believes in to dictate national policies for other people, that average Americans are just too ignorant to be taught and then decide for themselves, runs against the values of democracy and that of America. And this arrogance, this elitism, is does not just belongs to Mills, but to the federal government trying to apply one size fits all solutions to various of state problems, to the scientists who cover up evidences so they don’t hurt their arguments on global warming, and to N.Y. city mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas because he believes people can’t be relied to take care of themselves. This kind of arrogance, permeated through liberal ideology and liberal policies, is what I like to call, Liberal Elitism. ■
Professor Julian Zelizer, Photo: Princeton University Press
Congressman who was not elected by the U.S. people but only the people of his Arkansas district and an almost unknown politician outside Washington, Mills single handedly dictated many major tax legislations, including Medicare and Social Security, in U.S. Congress. Many of his colleagues, as Professor Zelizer indicated, simply trusted him. It was not until after the scandals of his campaign corruption and sex scandal with a prostitute broke out in the late 1970s did the reign of Wilbur Mills end. And one does not need to look far to the right to find oppositions to Mills. Just ask current Vice President Joseph Biden, whether if he did a major disservice to the country in 1970s when he helped push reforms to end the committee chairs’ unlimited terms. Yet Professor Zelizer brushed all of Mills’ personal failings and his dictator-like powers aside as he glorified Mills as a great technocrat whose expertise in taxes had ensured successful tax policies for the interest of the American people. Concluding Mills’ career in the last chapter of the book, Professor Zelizer lamented how the reforms made the new decentralized system in the U.S. Congress, where Committee Chairs do not get to serve forever, much less efficient and much more detached from the interests of the people. Why would the increased participation of Senators in tax policies make the final tax bills serve the people less? Does one person making the decision for everybody actually make the decision more reasonable, effective, and responsive to the interests of the people? Oh, yes, because Mills, as Professor Zelizer believes, is a detached, neutral, objective technocrat with a vast knowledge of tax policies and who believes in Keynesianism, unlike the “irrational, impossible, and unthinkable” theories such as “radical free market conservatism.” A big part of why Mills’ power is desirable, no doubt, has to do with how he kept the politicians believing in “irrational, impossible, and unthinkable” theories from tampering with his rational and scientific Keynesianism. And some-
HISTORICAL NOTE ROBERT H. BORK: A LESSON IN JUDICIAL RESTRAINT zation of “consumer welfare” and economic efficiency, rather than on the actions of individual companies, whatever they may be. This helped to center the Court’s decisions on what was best for consumers, as opposed to arbitrary and irrational limitations on companies. Thus, Bork—who was a key player in the Microsoft antitrust case of the late 90’s—is largely responsible for enriching the lives of millions of consumers. Throughout his numerous legal opinions as a D.C. Circuit Court judge, his work as a Yale Law professor, and his post-nomination book, The Tempting of America, Bork developed what is considered the core
always looks inside himself and nowhere else.” Such a restrained approach served as a repudiation of the wild overreach of many liberal courts, and has given a number of conservative-leaning justices a solid basis for limiting government power. At its core, originalism is a repudiation of one of the Left’s favorite tropes: that the Constitution is a “living document” that’s meaning changes with the times. Thus, the Left cannot stand the concept of originalism for the very same reason they cannot abide most tenets of conservatism—it places real limits on the excesses of government, and restricts the powers of liberal judges to create new laws, regulations, and “The judge who looks outside policy at whim. the Constitution always looks But Bork’s criticism of the judicial inside himself and nowhere activism of the Left went beyond mere concern over the proper inelse.” terpretation of laws. He also conof conservative jurisprudence: origi- sidered it a grave moral and social nalism. After half-a-century of the problem. A decade after his nomiWarren and Burger Courts “legis- nation, Bork published Slouching lating from the bench,” Bork helped Towards Gomorrah, in which he articulate a solid basis for judicial argued that the rise of the “New restraint. He argued that the only ba- Left” in the 1960’s had led to a desis for a decision should be the text cline in Western culture, as well as of the Constitution and the original the rejection of the American pointent of those who wrote it. A judge litical tradition. According to Bork, must work forward from these strict modern liberals’ focus on radical parameters to determine constitu- egalitarianism—that is, the equaltionality, rather than backward from ity of outcomes, rather than oppora desired outcome, as “the judge tunity—is fundamentally opposed who looks outside the Constitution to the values that define Western
ast December, one of the greatest legal minds in American history, Robert H. Bork, passed away at the age of 85. Bork was, by all accounts, an accomplished legal scholar, a brilliant jurist, and an intellectual giant, with an extensive array of books, articles, and opinions to his name. Despite all of this, he was more widely known to the public for what he was not—confirmed to the Supreme Court. His failed nomination is an example of the very worst political demagoguery and villainy, even turning his name into a verb, meaning, “to obstruct through systematic defamation or vilification.” But even after his vilification and rejection by Senate Democrats, Bork went on to build a legacy that fundamentally altered the legal direction of America—perhaps even more than he would have from the Bench. While a professor at Yale Law School in the 60’s and 70’s (where his students included the Clintons, Robert Reich and Jerry Brown), Bork became one of the nation’s preeminent antitrust scholars. His book on the subject, The Antitrust Paradox, was largely responsible for a dramatic and permanent shift in the way the Courts have interpreted antitrust laws. In his view, shared by many of the pro-market Chicago school of economics, the goal of such laws is the maximi-
by JACOB GRANT
civilization. Using the cudgel of unchecked judicial activism, modern liberalism has relentlessly attacked religion, upheld affirmative action, legalized assisted abortion, and much more. Slouching has served as a rallying cry for many social conservatives who oppose the havoc wreaked by modern liberalism. To Bork and many others, the New Left has eroded the moral and cultural fabric of America; moreover, such civic decay often harms the most vulnerable in society, only furthering the spiral. Bork has been
of the past 50 years.” Despite the brutal rejection of his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, Bork’s ideas exercise untold influence on the Supreme Court, the legal world, and American society. His work has fundamentally altered a wide range of issues—from antitrust law, to constitutional interpretation, to viewed by many on the right as an the effect of modern liberalism on inspiration in the battle against the American culture. Bork built a legdamage wrought by the Left. acy equaled by few men, and more Robert H. Bork was, in the words of lasting than that of many Supreme Supreme Court Justice and fellow Court Justices. He will be missed.■ originalist Antonin Scalia, “one of the most influential legal scholars
“Using the cudgel of unchecked judicial activism, modern liberalism has relentlessly attacked religion, upheld affirmative action, legalized assisted abortion, and much more.”
AP Photo/John Duricka
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