Freedom is Not Free (Gun Control is Still Control).

Via Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)
on Jul 23, 2012
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 “We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.”
~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

The tragedy in Colorado has surely renewed the very passionate debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights.

It is also surely going to further divide a nation already fractured to its core. I am lost in a sea of what I feel/want versus what I know to be true. Things like this are never easy, and such things often exercise our emotions versus our values. If we examine these things carefully and with awareness, we should be left with a resolution to adhere to our values. Character demands nothing less.

As is true with my attitude on abortion rights (I am pro-life but believe everyone has the right and should have the freedom to decide for themselves) my views on gun control often inspire a big reaction from those I know, love and/or discuss with. I would shrink from the discussion if it were not so important in our national discourse. My personality and my character simply does not allow me to hide in the shadows.

That being said, I am nothing more than some anonymous blogger who loves people and values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights bestowed upon us all by our Creator.

I feel a distinct and immutable sadness over the death, suffering and destruction created in Aurora.

Tears well up inside me as I empathize with those who have lost a loved one to such a heinous act. My heart bleeds for those who were injured. My soul prays for healing and yes, it even prays for forgiveness for the person who created caused it all. Yes, I wish him healing and love as surely as I wish it on the victims. If that offends you, I am sorry.

I am no longer a man prone to violence, and I see it as the lowest frequency of human vibration. I see violence as fear’s lowest low, the moment when our human minds become their weakest and our hearts lose their hold on the smaller part of us.

In that light, I cannot react to violence with violence and expect the world to become a better place for my existence. I must find the strength, resolve and love in my heart not to beat you down but to find a way to lift you up when I feel you have done me wrong.

That is my way. It may not be yours, and I have found it take great resolve and strength to act in accordance with that vision even in the most benign of circumstances, let alone in an event like the tragedy in Aurora. I struggle with adhering to this vision daily and certainly know the strength it takes to not react in fear’s grip when it is so easy to do so given our societal instruction from birth.

I understand that we are taught “an eye for an eye” from birth, and that “domestication” creates in us a reactionary personality that feels the need to do something when we feel a wrong has been done. Sometimes stillness should be the answer, but we weren’t raised that way as a collective and certainly were never taught how to exercise that restraint. That “domestication” often makes hypocrites out of even the most peaceful and well-meaning among us.

Control is Control and Control is Oppression

To me, it is this simple. The mechanism by which a deranged human being carries out his fantasies is not the issue. A man bent on killing others will find a way to carry out his will regardless of what weapon we put in his hand.

One such example was at the Happy Land Social Club, where an angry boyfriend used gasoline to kill 87 people. A difference here is that there is no “right” to gasoline, a gas can or matches. The Oklahoma City bombing was caused by fertilizer and fuel oil. You simply do not need a gun to carry out acts of terror, vengeance or anger on other people.

So, while I personally see no need for anyone to have an assault rifle, I can’t inflict my attitude on those who do. As a vegetarian, I see no reason for people to kill Bambi at all, let alone with an AK-47. I read somewhere that about 13,000-14,000 people a year die from car accidents related to speeding, far greater than those who are killed by assault weapons every year.

While speeding is against the law in the United States, I have heard no one propose that we take cars away from those who speed. They may lose their driver’s license after umpteen tickets, but they still have their car. Guess what, there is no “right to own a car” written in the Constitution anywhere either.

While this argument may sound silly to you, the idea of punishing law-abiding citizens whose pursuit of happiness involves owning a Uzi because of the handful of deaths committed every year at the hands of assault weapon owners is just as silly to me. If they want to own a Uzi, fine, they should be free to own one. As long as they don’t shoot up innocent people as a result. People should be free to make choices for themselves.

Attitude is a dangerous thing, especially when some try to force others to into adopting one. Gun control is not about controlling guns, it is about controlling others. It’s about keeping them from doing as they wish and distorting the Constitution to fit that attitude.

The Second Amendment is not about bearing arms as part of a “well-regulated” militia, it is about ensuring that the People can both keep a well-regulated militia as well as ensuring the right to bears arms is not infringed upon by the Federal Government (study Tench Cox and the opinions of the delegates on the Second Amendment).

Both things, the militias and the right to bear arms, were a direct result of the real fears of our founding fathers pertaining to tyranny. They wanted to ensure that the government could not keep the citizenry from both militarizing and protecting itself from a government.

“Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command; for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.”
~ Noah Webster  (1758-1843) 

This was a predominant fear, particularly of those who fought against the European monarchies and tyrannies. I understand that many Americans did not want a strong central government just for this reason. There was a real fear that everything they fought for against England would be lost by creating a government that could usurp the power from the People. The Second Amendment was considered, debated and approved under those auspices; the People can fight back whenever the government becomes oppressive.

So this isn’t about Bambi, or Aurora or Columbine. It is about the real fact that we have a right, liked or not by all, to keep and bear arms in this nation. That right exists more clearly than the right to abortion, the Separation between Church and State as well as many other “principles” many of us hold dear.

Freedom is Not Free

The price of freedom isn’t always about currency. It is not always about fighting foreign dictators or evil empires. It’s not always about liberating the oppressed. Sometimes the supreme sacrifice made in the honor of freedom is found in movie theaters, in schools, in dark alleys or on college campuses. Sometimes those who die for freedom are not part of a well-trained military unit, but are our neighbors, friends, husbands, wives and children.

It sucks to say this, in fact it pains me greatly to say this, but we can’t honor those who have died for freedom by eroding that freedom out of fear, just because we don’t happen to like something.

Yes, my attitude may be dramatically different had I lost someone close in Aurora. Anger does that to a reasoning mind. Sometimes we have to allow cooler heads to make decisions for us when in the throes of an angry reaction. I sincerely want the person who did this to be punished for his crimes, but I don’t want to punish everyone for them too. I don’t want to allow this government to take any freedom away from you, from me, or from anyone else. I simply don’t trust it enough.

I realize this may create some angry reactions. Understand that it is very hard for me to not only take this position, but to stick to it. I will stick to it, if only because I am sick of being told what I can and can’t do because of the attitudes of others. I have to wear my seat belt (I always wear it anyway. It is the “have to” that I dislike) for instance. Hey, if I want to drive down the road without my seat belt and suddenly wear my windshield as a necklace—that’s on me.

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t tell me about the monetary costs created by those who don’t wear their seat belts. Freedom is not free, and sometimes we pay a monetary price to allow others to exercise their own.

I pray we can have intelligent, wise and controlled public debate on this issue. To me, freedom is the issue here, and what we are willing to sacrifice in the quest for a false sense of security that will never exist.



Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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About Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)

Tom Grasso is a Colorado-based seeker, meditator, blogger (new site), and creative wordsmith. More importantly, he is a father of three (meaning he is also a lecturer, teacher, chef, order taker, taxi driver, coach, mentor and aspirin addict) and has found great joy in sharing his life experience to the benefit of others. Tom is an abuse survivor and a reformed (though unapologetic) bad ass warrior who bares the scars of his adventures and the power of transformation in every word he writes. As a former firefighter and rescue tech, Tom understands the fragility of life and the impermanence of each moment. You can follow Tom on Tumblr , and can find his books on Amazon. You will soon be able to purchase Tom's short stories (and erotica) at Don't forget to like his "blog page" at Tom Grasso, Writer on Facebook.  


65 Responses to “Freedom is Not Free (Gun Control is Still Control).”

  1. Thanks for being willing to stick your neck out on this at a time where it's probably not the "popular" thing to say. I have mixed feelings about gun control, probably in part because several members of my family are either currently or formerly in law enforcement and military service.

    Would I ever own a gun or keep one in my home? Probably not—for many reasons. Do I think I should be able to decide for everyone else? Definitely not.

    I don't think the answer to reducing gun violence in our nation is more gun control laws. The ones we have aren't working. Do we need different ones? Stiffer penalties? Mandatory sentencing? Maybe.

    I worry sometimes when we draw so much attention to what the framers of the constitution thought about our right to arm ourselves, when clearly, they could not have imagined the technology we would devote to killing machines. These are also the same folks who didn't think unalienable rights extended to women and non-white men. I believe in the constitution. I also believe that the true perfection of the constitution lies in the fact that it was designed to evolve and be amended.

    I also don't think there is one answer. Fewer guns available to people might mean less gun violence, but not necessarily less violence over all. I think one step that makes sense, as you have touched on here, is that we constantly examine these things mindfully. More mindfulness, more peace, More compassion (including and especially for those who harm others) = less violence.

    "To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  2. tomgrasso says:

    Absolutely Kate! We absolutely agree on everything save your point about the Constitution and those who were integral in the Bill of Rights. It is very relevant to their intention behind the 2nd Amendment for a variety of reasons. First, we cannot lose sight of the fact they they feared a powerful central federal government could become oppressive and tyrannical. It is central to not only an understanding of their thought process as it related to 18th century current events, but also in how it relates to modern-day events.

    On of the first thing tyrants do when assuming power is to disarm the population. This gives them power by fear. Gun control has never worked so well than in dictatorships. The second thing they do is dumb-down the population, usually by killing off intellectuals and teachers. This gives them power by ignorance.

    So…it is important to understand that our Founders certainly saw the threat of a powerful, central federal government in its potential to become oppressive. They wanted us, the People, to be able to forcibly remove that government in the event we found it oppressive and contrary to our unalienable rights. It is very clear that was their intent in that Second Amendment, and I frankly don't want to remove that ability for my great, great, great grandchildren who someday may have to exercise it because a few maniacs abused that freedom in the most heinous way possible.

    The founders didn't have much experience with equal rights and a slave-free world (even though some did liberate their slaves), but they did have plenty of experience with tyrants, oppression and open rebellion. I'd say I truly want to understand exactly what it is we are giving up before we just throw away a right out of fear.

    Gun laws will work about as well as drug laws. It will make criminals out of some while the laws themselves become utter failures in the process. One difference is that there is the mentality that our government will pry guns from the cold, dead hands of some gun owners. I believe them, and I don't think we need to be creating violence where none should exist. You start removing valued rights from people and you invite open rebellion. I honestly can see that happening, much the way the founders believed it could. To some, removing that right to bear arms is an infringement they just are not willing to tolerate.

    Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with your premise on peace. If we follow that tidbit of wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh this world becomes a wonderful place. You can't legislate peace, and you can't legislate security.

  3. Suri_k8 says:

    In order to enjoy the benefits of living in a civilized society some compromises must be made …having in mind a greater good and the advancement of society …..that you call it oppression is almost funny , opression is having to wear a burka all day long or what North Coreans experience everyday …that gun lovers complain about the government trying to "take away" their toys (eh.,killing machines) makes them look like selfish spoiled brats…whats more , what is preventing the US from being a great country is this 18th century rancho mentality …America needs to grow up. IMO

  4. Scott Lepthien says:

    While I agree that love is the only true answer, I disagree with your logic on a number of issues. One cars are not made to kill people. Glocks and AK-47 are made for one purpose only and that is to kill people. To say we should not control these thing is like saying we should not have stop signs or speed limits. Certain cars are not allowed on the road because of their engines. It is delusional to think that regulation is not part of society. No it will not solve the problem. The NRA has us by the balls. AK-47s were outlawed until 1994 and because the NRA (a manufacturer of fear, the opposite of love) tells everyone if we outlaw assault rifles you hunting rifle will be next. It is one big lie. And it is driven by fear. So while you say you want to promote love and you are supporting actions and an organization that is bent on promoting fear. I agree you can not legislate peace or security but you can promote love. And if people would wake up and see that the NRA and its followers are full of fear and they do not even recognize it. So I do disagree with your basic premise of letting the guns run amok in the streets with no regulation. The regulations in them selves will not solve the problem but they show the NRA that they are not and that the fear they spread will not be tolerated. Also, I believe the thought that any militia could be formed in to overthrow the government is ludicrous. We have a military that is the biggest and most sophisticated in the world. We are a war machine. I could go on about this too. Any how regulation is not the answer but it is a start in the right direction.

  5. tomgrasso says:

    I didn't define oppression, I simply suggest that those who currently are exercising their 2nd Amendment rights would find it oppressive to suddenly lose them.

    I know Muslim women who wear their burkas proudly and of their own free will. It would be oppressive to, like France did for example, tell them they are not allowed to wear them because you don't like them and find them oppressive. It's a similar behavior to the gun issue…you don't like guns, believe no one should be able to own them, and would force others to your will.

    And what gun owners (or lovers) wish to own is, frankly, none of my business as long as they use those "toys" in a legal manner. It isn't the gun that's the problem, it's the way its used. It doesn't make them look like spoiled brats in my opinion to demand their rights be as protected as any other American's rights would be.

    It seems that your idea of compromise only works if the other guy is the one compromising. I'd suggest you lead the way in not only seeking the greater good of society, but also in making those compromises you suggest make us civilized. In other words, let those who love guns and own them in a legal, peaceful way keep them if they so choose. That may truly be the sign of the maturity you seek.

  6. Chip Njaa says:

    "I have to wear my seat belt (I always wear it anyway. It is the “have to” that I dislike) for instance. Hey, if I want to drive down the road without my seat belt and suddenly wear my windshield as a necklace—that’s on me"… yeah, it's on you if you have health insurance. For those who don't have health insurance, it's on all of us and I think that's a point that many people who feel compelled to "defend their inalienable rights" don't comprehend. Libertarians and self-annointed defenders of "our" freedoms don't seem to understand that things they view as personal liberties are tied directly to the rights of others. It seems that Mr. Grasso believes that assault weapons are unfairly targeted due to rare horrific events, such as the recent tragedy, and a "handful of deaths committed every year at the hands of assault weapon owners". I want Mr. Grasso to make a visit to a poor minority neighborhood and tell the mother of a child who was killed by stray bullets during a drive by that while her son or daughter may be dead, the good news is that nobody's "pursuit of happiness" was affected by a ban on military stye assault weapons. At what point does one's right to pursue happiness cross the line? Americans like Grasso are suffering from a false sense of entitlement. We live during a time of exponential population growth, but instead of propagating ideals of sacrifice and working toward the greater good, folks like Mr. Grasso push the idea that we all should be free to do whatever we want… because it really sucks to be told what to do… "And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t tell me about the monetary costs created by those who don’t wear their seat belts" – why? It's the perfect example of what's wrong with your argument. Grow up. You don't live in a country, or a world, where you have the luxury of freedom to do whatever it is you feel like doing. Your actions, whether you understand this or not, affect a great many people. The world has evolved, it's time you do as well.

  7. Suri_k8 says:

    Well, you dont need the kind of guns Holmes had for self protection ,lets be honest , that kind of guns are not for self protection.
    I am not saying people should not own guns I only think tougher regulations are needed in general and in my opinion weapons that can kill massively and dangerous chemicals should be off limits for civilians .
    Aurora is a good example of how people use these toys in illegal , irresponsible and deadly ways….and it is definitely none of anyones bussines until something like this happens.

    My idea of compromise is tougher regulations …if you are a responsible owner then registering them shouldnt be a problem right?

  8. tomgrasso says:

    Hi Chip. I don't believe you read the part where I specifically say that I would WANT gun control as a human being…that regulating guns out of existence is in line with my thoughts! Otherwise, you wouldn't be labeling me as you have, blindly going about describing me in a way that lumps me in with just about everyone you disagree with.

    The greater value I hold dear than my belief that guns should be regulated out of existence (impossible since there will always be a black market for them) is my belief that people should ultimately decide what works for them, and that I (and you) should butt out (unless their BEHAVIOR will create harm). The gun my father owns, for example, is no threat to you unless you break into his house, so the idea that you could decide to arbitrarily either remove it or make him a criminal is outlandish to me. Personally, I don't own a gun, don't want a gun, and find them outside of my value system…but that doesn't mean anyone else who owns one should not be allowed to exercise their own value system as long as it isn't a threat to anyone else. My father should be allowed to own his firearm even if he should not be allowed to use it in a illegal manner.

    And yes, I do have a sense of entitlement. I believe I am entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If my sense of entitlement is a false one, please let me know.

    Thank you, and peace.

  9. Jenna says:

    Uh, North KOREANS

  10. Syd says:

    Thanks for the article. I, for one, agree with the author- that is MY opinion which I am still free to have. I am a female gun owner- I hate the idea of a gun & what it is capable of in general but, one thing I know for sure, is I WILL defend myself, my loved ones, & my property WHEN NECESSARY. Given that, the only time I have fired it is when I was learning how to properly operate it and have only handled it in gun safety scenerios, with the utmost care, attention, and respect to this tool's proposed power. I hope never to need to use it and, until recently, wanted to see firearms not only controlled, but eradicated all together. After much thought & consideration, I realized that if someone has intention to harm me, I certainly do not want to find myself empty-handed, defenseless and/or UNTRAINED if I have to use one. Id like to think some hero ( or "law enforcement official") will come to my aid in a crisis scenerio, BUT it JUST ISN'T REALISTIC. Also, I personally do not want to live in a society where only governing & law enforcement officials posses those "killing tools", while the citizens of that society are empty-handed… how would that look?? In our rapidly changing world, you really don't know if you will end up in a civilization melt-down where the only person who will save you is yourself (as far fetched as that sounds to some)… I don't want my only option to be to surrender & die, much less, the people I care for. So before we make a final judgement call on "gun control", each individual needs to examine how that affects them in multiple possible case scenerios. And, be careful what you wish for.

  11. Suri_k8 says:

    Forgot typos are not allowed here on elephant

  12. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Tom, you are a braver man than me! Maybe eloquence beyond what I could have produced gives you courage. Wonderful piece of writing. But now that you’ve laid down the topic, I’ll wade in with a few points.

    POINT ONE. Some of you here don’t think deaths from cars are an appropriate comparison to gun deaths. I hope it’s not out of place to suggest that you are wrong. Your feeling that car deaths and gun deaths are fundamentally different probably derives from your familiarity with cars. You probably can’t fathom how gun supporters could be so dense. To get where they’re coming from, consider the gun-car comparison. Guns are as safe to them as cars are to you simply because they are familiar.

    To an anti-Carworld person like myself, the gun-car comparison is highly appropriate. One person here wants us to consider the mother in the ghetto who has to worry her kids could be the victim of guns. Well, any reasonable parent feels the same about cars. You can’t let small kids play freely because the metal monster could easily flatten them in a hideous instant. And once those kids are licensed, the danger only increases. My son (born and raised near Tokyo) was surprised by a special section in the yearbook of his moved-to-America best friend. The back page was a memorial to 4 or 5 seniors killed in various car accidents that year. Is that really less tragic to a parent than having your child killed by a gun? Maybe, but only if you accept Carworld as the natural order. I don’t, so the gun-car comparison is a good one.

  13. Mark Ledbetter says:

    POINT TWO. J slightly de-emphasizes the "well-regulated" militia part of the Second Amendment. A mistake, I think. Standing armies were recognized by the framers of the Constitution as THE most dangerous threat to freedom. Standing armies result in suppression of citizens, foreign wars, and debt out of control. Well, now we have standing armies and all three of those results.

    There are multiple provisions in the Constitution to prevent standing armies. The most important (and most ignored) are that America must be protected by a civilian militia and that only representatives of the people in congress, not the president, can declare war.

    "Well-regulated" militias are traditionally ferocious on defense but unwieldy and unwilling on offense. Thus, they are a perfect defense against invasion from the outside, oppression from the inside, and imperial fever dreams of leaders. It's the Swiss system, intentionally and consciously adopted into the Constitution. You can't police the world with a militia, though, so the best foreign policy in the history of humankind, the Swiss policy, is ignored by modern America on those rare occasions when, from our imperial throne, we even deign to recognize it.

  14. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Whoops! Change J in the first line to Tom.

  15. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PS, one more of the important but ignored anti-standing army provisions is worth mentioning: the continued funding of any temporary standing army (temporary being the only kind they could accept) must be debated every two years. Can you imagine that debate ever happening now? Both Republicans and Democrats would find the idea ludicrous. Only a consitutionalist (a breed rarely found in either party) would think such a debate the thing to do..

  16. muks says:

    Hi Tom,

    First of all, let me show you the sentence at the end. You probably did not mean it entirely that way, did you? "I pray we can have intelligent, wise and CONTROLLED public debate on this issue."

    I am German and have spent some time in the US, I also met many expats from all kinds of countries who live in all kind of countries. Let me tell you one lesson I learned: There is no such thing as real freedom. Functioning societies are always controlled – yes, even the US. I had expected "freedom" in the US, so did many people who travelled and moved to Germany, even Americans. We all ended up being controlled in a different way. Just have a look at all the internationals who are arrested or excluded from society for doings that are accepted in their home countries.

    There is the saying "The freedom of one person ends where the freedom of the other person begins."

    I felt controlled by the guns in the US. I was not free to jog on the cross country trails at all times. A friend of mine was told first time when he arrived in the US how to behave when in contact with the police in, say, a traffic control – in order to avoid being shot. In addition, it seems to me that guns create fear. In Europe I am just not that afraid to be shot. I do not have to prepare to shoot someone. This cycle of fear only causes many deaths. You know all the stories about people freaking out because some teenager is walking down the street.

    By the way, did you know that the number of gun-related deaths includes many (!) spouses, children and those who end up being killed with their own guns in their own homes by an intruder?

  17. Agreed. The laws we have right now are not working and anyone who intends to use them responsibly (which means most people who obtain them through legal means) should have no issue with enacting more effective regulations.

  18. tomgrasso says:

    Suri, it isn't up to you to determine what kind of gun best serves one for self protection. I've heard countless times the old adage that you "don't bring a knife to a gun fight" and this would hold true for self protection. Given the types of weapons criminals have access to, I'd say the comfort level of the law-abiding citizen is the important factor to consider. If that law-abiding citizen feels protected with an assault weapon, they should be allowed to buy and own one.

    After all, THEY are law-abiding and pose no threat to you and me which is why they see tougher regulations as intrusive and overbearing. After all, our founding legal document says "shall not be infringed".

    Again, my attitude is that people should be free to do whatever they want as long as they don't hurt anyone else. When we can achieve that level of evolution then we have truly matured.

  19. tomgrasso says:

    Syd, I can imagine even this nation sinking into an oppressive system eventually. Look at what is going on now…it is a sign of things to come.

    While I believe in non-violent civil disobedience, I understand the type of unity it takes to effect change non-violently. I'm not sure, given the intent of the 2nd Amendment, that I want to dictate term to future generations who may be effected directly by our current sense of political apathy and appeasement. They deserve the same freedoms that we have and that our ancestors enjoyed.

    This may SOUND radical, but I assure you my thoughts are in line with those of our founders. I want to be free, and I want my posterity to be free, and I wish them to have whatever avenue they choose to remain so. When THAT sounds radical, I believe even more fervently that we are in a dangerous position to be controlled and dominated by a government all-too-eager to control and dominate.

    I'm not sure what political label this belief puts me under (I don't like being labeled), but it is how I feel. Be free my friend, and don't give up that gift to anyone…


  20. tomgrasso says:

    Thanks Mark. 🙂

    To your point one…it wasn't the "death by auto" I was focused on, but the fact that it was speeding that caused the death by auto. We don't take away cars from speeders because they MAY kill someone. Also, you are far more likely to be killed by a speeder than you are an owner of an assault rifle. Yet, we wish to erode our liberties and make assault weapons illegal but do nothing of the sort for other illegal activities that kill people.

    The other point I wish to make here is that I am NOT pro-gun, I am PRO FREEDOM. You want to smoke a joint…go to it regardless of my attitude about drugs. Just don't do it in a way that may effect me or others and we are fine.

    Make sense?

  21. tomgrasso says:

    Mark, I de-emphasize the "well-regulated militia" part because it is a separate component of the overall intention of the 2nd Amendment. The comma in this Amendment serves to separate the elements of the intention….that is we have the right to have well-regulated militias AND the right to bear arms without interference from any government.

    And you are correct, militias are defensive in nature. We see them as "radical" for the most part, but in reality they were to be an integral part of ensuring our liberties were maintained at a high level.

    Oddly, we haven't fought a declared war in nearly 70 years…another erosion of our liberties by allowing one man to amass way too much power.

  22. tomgrasso says:

    Hey muks, thanks!

    I love how you noticed my use of the word "controlled". It was intentional, and meant to suggest a SELF-CONTROL…a unique type of discipline that seems to be missing in our society. We seem to believe that we need Big Brother to control us, and that belief seems to stem from a rather immature belief that we are not capable of controlling ourselves.

    Yogic practice is about controlling oneself. It is about mastering the entirety of the Being you are. Your instructor may lead you in asana, but you are the one who takes it to the limit you can attain. Why we would consider living in a society that operates in direct opposition to that principal is beyond comprehension to me. Some have labeled me a "libertarian" or "anarchist" for my understanding. I simply say, "no, I am a yogi, and as such desire to master only my Self."

    I hope that makes sense, but I can't live that way when it suits me and abandon that principal when it becomes difficult.


  23. juana says:

    automatic weapons should not be allowed in any civilized society..

    you want to have a permit to carry a gun to protect yourself…fine…a small handgun…

    no one needs automatic weapons that can shoot 100 rounds of bullets in less than 1 minute…no one needs that ever…laws that were written 250 years ago have no place in our society now..



  24. Mark Ledbetter says:

    I used to make an identical argument til I began reading about Swiss style defense and the long history of civilian militias, the forgotten basis for the 2nd amendment and other anti-army provisions of the Constitition. The Swiss can hardly be called uncivilized yet most households are, I believe, required by law to have assault weapons in the house! If you are anti war, you have to give consideration to the Swiss system, counter intuitive tho it is.

    Btw, for all you Coloradians at Ele, the first book I read on civilian militias was The Minuteman by the liberal democratic presidential candidate from Colorado, Gary Hart

  25. Padma Kadag says:

    When Tea Party members began showing up to rallies with revolvers and Glocks strapped to their sides and the republicans began a hate campaign against any African American politicians and they discussed the "Christian" dominance of America and the Constitution…maybe the second ammendment is not such a bad idea. Politics of deceit, lies, and filibusters. The second amendment is needed more for those who currently do not live by the gun.

  26. tomgrasso says:

    juana, can't it be said that if the civilized society was "civilized" at all there would be no need to ban anything, let alone automatic weapons? I feel you can't legislate civility, it is either there or it isn't and one testament to the level of civility in any society is the type of laws it needs to enact.

    As to the intention of the founders of our nation…what good would a small handgun be in fighting an oppressive government that has automatic weapons? Again, I'm not speaking in terms of the present per se, but for future generations?

    You also said, "laws that were written 250 years ago have no place in our society now". So should we repeal freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? Freedom of press? Freedom is FUNDAMENTAL to the human cause, it doesn't become obsolete just because you are afraid or don't like something. Kings and dictators have done plenty to support my contention that people in a free society must be allowed to pursue their own happiness in a way that does not harm others.

  27. tomgrasso says:

    Exactly Padma… 🙂

  28. Chip Njaa says:

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my response. I don't believe that you are fully able to grasp the concept that I'm trying to explain and I ultimately blame myself for not being able to fully express what I'm trying to say. In my defense, I also believe that part of the problem is a lack of maturity (I don't mean this to be insulting, I believe that you are still a young man with limited life experiences to draw conclusions from) on your part. There are MANY facets of my life that are being affected by other people's "perceived" inalienable rights… my right to breath clean air and drink clean water, animals (which are seen to have very limited rights) being kept in horrific conditions on factory farms, the thousands of square miles of rain forests cut down to create food crops to feed those animals, the list goes on and on with my point being that people express their rights in ways that directly affect my inalienable rights not as an American but, rather, as a human. Americans believe they have a right to eat whatever type of food and as much volume of it as possible as long as they can pay for it. The cost of the food isn't an individual cost… it's shared by me as it degrades the environment to the point that those industrial farms contribute to global climate change. And, would you please quit saying that I want guns to be "regulated out of existence"? Asking for legislation to ban military assault weapons hardly qualifies as regulating them out of existence. You're not only putting words in my mouth but weakening your own argument by either outright lying or exposing the fact that you really don't understand the point I'm trying to make (again, if that's the case, I blame myself for not being able to communicate my ideas effectually). Anyway, whatever… I'm not going to change you mind about anything and without a shared hope (in this case, a society where people don't get their faces blown off), debate and argument becomes pointless. You state your views and I state mine and nothing ever changes… welcome to America.

  29. muks says:

    Very sadly weapons in Switzerland are misused against many women by their spouses or partners. Women are three times more likely to die violently if there is a gun in the house. Gun violence can be part of the cycle of intimidation and aggression that many women experience from an intimate partner. For every woman killed or physically injured by firearms, many more are threatened.

  30. muks says:

    Hey Tom,

    OK, I understood control as self- and external control. It is interesting how US Americans and Europeans, say Germans, perceive control by the government or external control. In the US I had the feeling that the government was far away from the people, but control was induced by the University, businesses and other organisations, including the churches of course. In Germany you just have loads and loads of laws and the government is doing everything for you. Businesses, Universities etc. are giving a sh*t about you – in some ways. Guns are self-evidently a government subject in Germany. But in this subject ot works for me. I do mind government intervention in many fields, but my personal safety may be regulated.

    Self-control is a different subject. So do you mean that gun owners shall utilise self-control, so innocent others are not hurt? This would mean you trust every gun owner to not shoot me when I am mixing up yards and am walking towards the wrong front door? No gun owner uses the gun in domestic abuse and voilence – no matter how angry in the moment? All army veterans handle their feelings healthily towards their spouses, no matter what they had experienced in their wars, and never threaten to kill?

  31. muks says:

    Is this how it IS or how it SHOULD be? How can we get there? Or is this not part of the subject – say, who cares about a few wives when people can defend burglars and robbers?

    Self-control in Yoga means you get up early, do your practice, commit yourself to meditation and so on. On teh other hand, especially Yoga made me let go of some forms of controlling. If I can touch my toes on one day and not on the other day, I cannot control it. Thought and feelings are to be observed, not watched. You cannot control eveything. For me, Yoga is learning when to control and when to let go.

  32. muks says:

    Sorry, "Thoughts and feelings are to be observed, not controlled."

  33. Suri_k8 says:

    ok, why not , then maybe grenades and landmines should be legal also because you never know right …as long as they are on your property no problem right .

    I think that what you are saying is that things should remain the same .

    According to the FBI crime statistics from 12,996 murders in 2010, 8,775 were caused by firearms that is 24 deaths a day , double the number of people Holmes Killed , everyday!!!

    Laws are made to protect people from other people

  34. Chip Njaa says:

    Disregard what I said about you putting words in my mouth. I understand that you were expressing your views and not mine.

  35. tomgrasso says:

    As I see it Suri, landmines and grenades are indiscriminate weapons to which the user has little control once armed. Also, the most acceptable definition of "arms" in a legal sense has to do with firearms, not all weapons that could be used to harm or kill.

    As to the statistics..well they don't tell the entire story. There are an estimated 200-300 million guns in the United States today (2010 figures) and an estimated 80 million gun owners. That means that an extremely small fraction of gun owners in the United States commit crimes with a gun, somewhere to the tune of .00001% (if my math is right). What you want to do is make 79,991,225 people who haven't committed any crime pay a price for those who have.

    I'd also venture a guess that a large part of those 8775 murders committed in 2010 were not committed by those who legally own a firearm. In essence, you want to punish law-abiding citizens for the actions of those who could care less about the law. That doesn't seem logical to me.

    I'm not sure why you forget that rights need protecting too. 79,991,225 people want to own firearms. They have a Constitutional right to own firearms. That right, THEIR right, should be protected. There are laws on the books to protect people from guns already, banning guns only serves to ensure that those who don't care about the law are the best armed people in America. That's pretty shocking to me.

    Again…I don't own a gun and don't want to. It's about the freedom of 80,000,000 Americans that I wish to protect…Period.

  36. tomgrasso says:

    A lot of things there muks! 🙂

    First, what I believe needs to be controlled is our reactions to what happened in Aurora and how we approach civil liberties and the rights of others as a matter of our reaction. It's easy to rush to the "pass a law!" mantra, but restraint is necessary in order to understand the issue and its implication. Statistics bear out that a minute percentage of gun owners commit murder (without stating how many of them are legal gun owners), so what we want to do is punish the overwhelming majority for the actions of the extremely small minority.

    It doesn't make sense to me muks. Not one iota of sense.

    So…if we focus on SELF-CONTROL and not the control of others, where does that take us as yogis or Americans? Certainly not the fear-based need to control others I would hope!!

  37. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Would that be three times a very small number? All countries have violent people, with or without guns, but I don't get the sense there's a lot of violence in Switzerland.

    In any case, three times a tiny number is a huge improvement over my country and yours, which often fight wars and often extend the fighting to wars on civilians. My country, for example, participated in the fire bombing of yours, and anyone who knows the details knows that fire bombing is just as horrendous as atomic bombing. Switzerland is the rare country that does not fight wars and it certainly does not make war on civilians.

    And your country, come to think of it, disarmed it's population in recent history as a first step towards sending millions to death camps, i.e. It made war on it's own civilians.

    There's no perfection in any system composed of humans, but the Swiss system would seem to be the least violent system ever devised in history and it requires guns in the hands of civilians.

  38. please says:

    Tom, timely article and its brought in other interesting points that fit in with the overall discussion.

    I usually find interesting the comments that usually ensue because it become clear that there is a professed and dinstinct desire to be controlled and to control which is dissonant with some of the ideas I personally I'm starting to understand through the practice.

    I suspect its partly conditioning and also a human response to the reality that we are not in control which is scary and human.

    Chip Njaa brought up some very important points and desires to live life much differently than we currently do (clean air, water, animal rights, etc). I wonder how many understand all that is directly tied into control and how we are governed. Yes we don't live in free societies at the moment, but that is precisely the reason why it appears we don't have the agency to shape our communities and lives with other like minded people as we see fit without control.

    It's one of those topics that I find difficult to speak about because the paradigm is so overarching that it requires a deliberate and systematic review.

  39. Suri_k8 says:

    If my math is right its .029% or 2.9 per every 100,000. 80 million is about 1/4 of the U.S population , what about the other 3/4´s? What about the freedom of the majority?

    And I am not saying those 80m should pay a price , if they are law abbiding citizens then they wouldnt have a problem registering their guns. That is all. Perhaps they dont want to because they are afraid they might mistakenly kill an inocent person and then they are fucked .. otherwise why wouldnt they cooperate? No one is saying they dont have a right to own a gun but with rights come obligations and responsibilities.. and that is what gun control means.

    Why would you initiate a debate on gun control if you want things to stay as they are ? Its silly. The purpose of a debate is to get to agree somwhere in the middle. To look at all the points of view and conclude whats best for all , but like I said compromises have to be made on both sides .

  40. tomgrasso says:

    So true…and I love your perspective.

  41. muks says:

    Isn't Switzerland involved in Afghanistan? Can we compare the current situation in Germany with its approach towards weapons with the situation before and during the holocaust?

    Well, you can probably take into account that the US might at some point build concentration camps and sends part of the population there. Households could protect themselves against professional police or army squads, assuming that neither authorities nor neighbours are there to help – but it sounds like a completely different subject to me.

    Did the US gun laws prevent the US from starting wars? I don't think so, neither do I see any reason behind such a link.

    Your argument is also new to me. Normally the holocaust and the World Wars are used in arguments against violence and war, with the exception of supporting Israel. By the way, I was neither born in Germany, nor am I living there since a few years. But it is good to know when and where I can get the past of "my country" smashed into my face.

  42. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Sorry Muks! Didn’t mean to get personal. But I am an anti-war anti-imperialist and will happily “smash in anyone’s face” the fruits of war and fascism. It has nothing to do with the particular country or person, it has to do with political systems that build aggressive war machines and powerful fascist governments. I happily smash America, my own country, for its war machine and fascism, for its fire-bombing of Germany and Japan and its atomic bombing of Japan; for Mai Lai, for No Gun Ri, for the Philippine atrocities, for genocide of American Indians, for incarceration of Japanese-Americans in WWII, for imperialism, and for its current wars.

    You ask, “Did the US gun laws prevent the US from starting wars?” Actually, they would go a long way towards doing just that, but only if followed. They obviously don't work if not followed. The Constitution and 2nd Amendment make aggressive warfare difficult, worldwide military bases impossible, and all of our current wars illegal and unconstitutional.

    I just googled it and was seriously disappointed to find out that, yes, Switzerland sent 31 soldiers to Afghanistan in 2003. This is hardly enough destroy its claim to having history’s best foreign policy, but disappointing all the same.

    Have a good day, and hope you don’t hold the face-smashing against me!

  43. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hi again, Muks. Normally I'm a pretty polite guy so I admit the charge (nicely done tho it was) of bashing still bothers me. So I figured I'd jump in just one more time to spread the blame a bit for 20th century atrocities. It wasn't just Germany by any means, and making Germany the symbol of pure evil is actually a case of history written by the victors. So let's look a bit at what the victors have done.

    Russia and China have outdone Germany many times over in slaughter of their own citizens, but that's no secret. Much less known, the Belgian genocide in the Congo may have surpassed what happened in Germany. England twice inflicted holocaust level famines (and starving to death is just about as bad as the Nazi death camps) to protect its empire, in Persia during the First World War and India during the Second. In terms of sheer horror, no one can really surpass what England and America did to Germany and Japan. I don't know if it's well known in Germany (it's certainly not in America) but atrocities committed against innocent ethnic Germans all across Europe at the end of the 2nd World War are beyond belief in both scale and horror.

    The Swiss participated in none of this. Power in Switzerland is diffused. No one even knows who the president is, right?, because he/she just isn't important. In Switzerland, power really is with the people, not the government, which is the main reason it hasn't gone on imperial adventures in six or seven hundred years. A big part of the reason for power to the people is that military power is restricted to civilian militias. For civilian militias, you have to have the right to bear arms.

  44. […] while we get caught up in the mundane but necessary political debate over ways to keep us all safe, simple men and women are doing remarkable things to get us there. In […]

  45. Suri_k8 says:

    A little list of the 5 worst genocides in the 20th century:

    1. Mao Tsedong: 27 – 73 million Chinese deaths (1945 – 1976)

    2. Joseph Stalin: 4 – 60 million polictical purges (1922 – 1953)

    3. Hitler: 15 – 50 million civilian deaths by democide and by deaths in concentration camps

    4. Hideki Tojo: 6 million – 30 million deaths of Chinese civilians during World War II

    5. Pol Pot: – 3 million deaths in Cambodia in the 1970s

  46. Mr. Science says:

    Hmm, I think the comment section just got me to rethink my position on something. . . sort of.
    While I generally agree with Mr Grasso's position, and feel that the right to bear arms is essential for individuals to protect themselves from both criminals and the overreach of the government. (something that is happening today in a way that is obvious to any thinking person)
    I do also find it interesting that America, the US of A while theoretically providing this right, has also been one of the most egregious offenders in terms of aggression towards others. Yet the general populace has not put a stop to this.
    Certainly pat of this has to do with the populace being duped. We have the love it or leave it GW Bush types, and we have the "Obama really cares, but has to attack every freaking country in the middlle east beacuse. . . "types. Either way we tacitly support this violence.
    Now I can understand not having an armed uprising against that sort of thing, Violence begets violence and so on. However, it seems that no matter who is in the Whitehouse we wind up with more control by the government and less personal freedom. What is it about the American ethos that causes this?
    I honestly am not sure.
    What I do know is that many things about this recent shooting do not add up. Why did this 24 year old child know how to rig a very sophisticated system of explosives in his apartment? Why after going to the trouble did he warn the cops? Why did he stop shooting and just wait to be arrested, much like the Lennon Shooter, Mark David Chapman? How did he afford 10-20,000 worth of equipment when he was drawing unemployment? Was it a coincidence that he was attending CU, one of the universities linked to the MK-Ultra program?
    When the constitution was written it was possible for the populace to have the same weapons that the government had, this is no longer the case. Try stopping a tank squadron with an AR-15; not going to happen. I wonder if the whole discussion is a red herring.
    Those are some things to consider. The true believers won't, but some of you will. As far as the guns causing violence issue is concerned, the town of Kennesaw, Geogia passed a law that required residents to own a firearm. Much to the shock of anti-gun people they saw a drop in crime of 89%. Google away. One person with a concealed carry permit could have stopped the batman shootings(at least some of it), if the theater had not banned guns. (Those familiar with property rights will know that a business can ban weapons, even licensed conceal carry, by simply posting a sign, which AMC does.)

  47. __MikeG__ says:

    The pro-gun argument that citizens with guns will prevent US government abuses is BS. I do not think armed citizens can stand up to the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines if push ever came to shove.

    The speeding argument made in the article is a classic straw man argument, IMO. Speeding and projectile weapons are two different things entirely.

    Totally with you on how the US government is too controlling and much of our freedom is an illusion. But living in a society of no regulation would be much worse than the regulation we live under today, IMO. The issue is not whether regulation is necessary, but where to draw the line. I have been considering purchasing a gun for home protection and I would not want the government telling me that I could not. But I would never purchase a 50 cal machine gun and I personally do not want my fellow citizens to own that weapon either. So, how do we determine where that line will be drawn?

    One big downside of owning a gun is that a single moment of carelessness or anger can ruin/end the lives of many people.

    I am not impressed by knee-jerk, reactive anti-gun comments either. The fact is there are people out there who actively engage in and enjoy hurting other people. And contrary to popular myth most bullies/criminals are not cowards. Most bullies/criminals have a lot of experience and proficiency in hurting others.

    To me the issue isn't gun control. The issue is living in a culture of violence. The Swiss shoot each other less than other peoples because the Swiss do not live in a culture of violence. US citizens shoot each other with great regularity because we live in a culture of violence. Maybe we need gun control because we live in a violent culture. Or maybe we need more guns because we live in a violent culture. I am so confused.

  48. tomgrasso says:

    These are wonderful facts you bring up. They are the type of facts that sway me, that lead me to a conclusion that is opposite of what my peace-loving, kind, compassionate side wants to see.

    Honestly, it may have been compassionate if someone else had been exercising their right to bear arms unimpeded by government and put an end to the grisly scene. Perhaps the shooter wouldn't have even tried to attack the theater if he thought he would meet armed resistance himself? To me, the compassion would have been in ending the violence sooner rather than when the only people who could legally carry weapons into the theater showed up minutes after the rampage began.

    It's something to think about…thanks for the info!