Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lethal Nation

Nice kitty....

From yesterday's cover story in the Middletown, New York Times Herald-Record:

Reported by John Sullivan:

MONROE, NY - "Fears that a liberal presidential administration will impose more restrictions on gun ownership have triggered [no pun intended, I'm sure] a frenzy of gun buying at local suppliers, who are struggling to restock their shelves with firearms and ammunition."

Well now! Isn't it heartening to know that in these hideously desperate economic times, there is still an industry that is recession proof? Thank heavens for these little blessings!

QUESTION: Have you ever had a loved one shot and killed in an act of mindless gun violence?

ANSWER: If you haven't, you will. Count on it. Your elected representatives will see to that.

As Americans arm themselves to the teeth, the law of averages will eventually forbid such an unspeakable tragedy from not touching the lives of almost everyone.
It has already happened to my family - twice. Two female cousins of mine - who never even had the joy of meeting one another - (one on my mother's side, the other on my father's) both died as the result of being murdered by men who were stalking them. Don't for a moment reflect on the passive tranquility of your lives and delude yourself into thinking, "It can't happen here". It can. It will. Whether child, parent, sibling, cousin or friend; gun violence will touch your seemingly untouchable lives eventually. Count on it.

I was never a great admirer of the governing style of Bill Clinton. As I mentioned in last week's posting," Democrat since Johnson (Andrew, not Lyndon) was a more bitter disappointment than William Jefferson Clinton." But while Bubbah did get a lot wrong, we must be fair to the poor old bugger by conceding that he did get a lot right. One of the areas in which he was very, VERY right was when his administration initiated a ban on assault rifles. It was George W. Bush who stupidly allowed that ban to expire. You're not surprised. I didn't think you would be.

I don't know the name of the person who designed the first rapid-fire weapon, but whatever his name was (and he had to be a man - women just aren't that cruel) he only had one purpose in mind: to kill as many human beings as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The corrupt Republican (and more than a few Democratic) politicians who are bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association have the blood of innocents on their greedy little hands. The people who manufacture these weapons are making a killing - figuratively and literally. And nowhere has the pungent aroma of their profit been more apparent in recent years than on the southern side of the Mexican/American border. Ninety percent of the guns that are being used in the atrocities committed daily are being purchased - legally - on the northern side of the border.

And now the violence between Mexico's drug cartels is spilling over into the good ol' U.S. of A. Regular Americans are becoming the hapless victims of this mindless narco-insanity. And why not? It is America's mind-fuckingly stupid gun laws that are pouring fuel in the inferno. Maybe that's poetic justice - who knows? But it is nonetheless exasperating in the heat of what can only be described as an international crisis, to hear these foolish American extremists declare that Mexico's problem should not interfere with our Second Amendment rights. Right.

"We got guns. They got guns. All God's chil'en got guns."

The Marx Brothers
From the 1932 film Duck Soup

From a Pulitzer Prize-deserving article by Guy Lawson in the March 19 issue of Rolling Stone:

'Mexico is on the edge of the abyss' retired U.S. general and former drug czar Barry McCaffery wrote in a strategic assessment at the end of last year. Michael Hayden, the outgoing head of the CIA, said in January that the threat of a narco state in Mexico is one of the gravest dangers to American security, on a par with a nuclear-armed Iran. A recent report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command likens instability in Mexico to the risk of a failed state in Pakistan, warning that a 'rapid and sudden collapse' could occur in the coming years. 'Any descent by Mexico into chaos,' the report concludes, 'would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone'"

In other words: probable war with Mexico in the next decade. Aren'cha excited? I know I sure am! The last Mexican/American war was waged by President Polk one-hundred and sixty years ago. We're overdue.

Now is the time for all good men
and women to come to the aid of their country. Start growing your own. That would be one of the most patriotic things a habitual smoker of marijuana could do at this moment. I'm not trying to be funny here. I am dead serious.

The so-called "War on Drugs", which this country has been mindlessly waging for almost four decades, has been a spectacular failure. The legalization of marijuana - at the very least - is long overdue. Such a legislative move would solve a lot (although certainly not all) of our problems along the border. Compared to alcohol and nicotine it is relatively harmless. Is it a "gateway drug"? In some cases it can be. So is Ballantine Ale. So is Brotherhood Wine. Grow up.

As long as most of the victims of the unspeakable violence are brown-skinned Mexicans, count on American politicians (President Obama included, I'm sorry to say) to do absolutely nothing. What has to happen is for a whole lot of white Americans children to be slaughtered in the crossfire. That'll wake the silly bastards up really quick, don'cha think?

Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Sure.

In the meantime the bodies are just going to continue to pile up everywhere. Not just along the border and in the blood-stained streets of American cities, but in the Our Towns of Thorton Wilder's Middle America. Let's not kid ourselves, boys and girls; Columbine and Virginia Tech were merely nasty little sneaks preview of the social holocaust that's right around the corner. Do you think I'm kidding? The sad fact is that America is armed and dangerous. The next decade will see the trillion dollar shithammer hitting the fan and it ain't gonna be pretty.

I used to envy children. Not anymore. Not anymore.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Bowling For Columbine
A film by Michael Moore

AFTERTHOUGHT, April 3, 2009, 4:47 PM:

This morning a lone gunman shot and killed at least thirteen people in Binghampton, NY. Not that I need to rub this in, but we had all better get used to this sort of thing. How timely.

AFTERTHOUGHT, April 4, 2009. 12:01 PM:

Three police officers have just been shot and killed in Pittsburgh, PA. No comment.

AFTERTHOUGHT, April 6, 2009, 10:14 AM:

It was just announced on MSNBC three minutes ago that a man in the state of Washington named James Harrison shot and killed his five children before killing himself. Nice.

AFTERTHOUGHT, July 20, 2012, 12:20 AM:

Three years later and the hits just keep on coming, folks! Some demented freak named James Holmes opens fire on a midnight showing of a new movie. Twelve innocent young people are killed. Bless the NRA.

For more recent postings on "The Rant" please go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

Vicious, commie propaganda


At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Hi Tom, I am sorry about and can understand your feelings about guns given the loss of family members. However, you are way of base with your belief that the assault weapons ban was a good thing, and that more gun control in this country will have any effect on the violence in Mexico or along the border. Perhaps the legalization of marijuana will, but not gun control. This letter pretty much sums it up

People who understand guns know how ludicrous the assault weapons ban was, and how it did nothing to control violent crime.

I will always own firearms. If there is a social holocaust around the corner, perhaps you should own one too.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


Had my cousin Susan's assailant not been able to purchase a gun without a background check, she would more than likely be alive today.

The existence of legalize assault weapons makes future Columbines and Virginia Techs not only probable, they are inevitable.


Tom Degan

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Tom, Perhaps your cousin would. There is nothing wrong with background checks, and I always go thorough them when buying a gun. But psycho killers don’t usually walk into a gun store to buy a gun. There will always be a way for someone to get a gun if they really want regardless of the law. The problem with gun control is it is a slippery slope. This is the reason why the NRA is so resistant to any gun control. The fear is that the antigun lobby won’t stop until no law abiding citizen can own a gun. It certainly didn’t do anything for the Australians.

And Columbine could have happened just as easily with weapons which complied with the assault weapons ban. One guy with a pistol and a bunch of 10 shot clips could have done the same thing. A guy with a pocket full of pipe bombs could have as well.

You should try a little skeet shooting. It is a lot of fun. Maybe you'll have a change of heart.

At 5:06 AM, Blogger JRD said...

I think your friend Joel is an NRA drone who is paid to respond to any negative criticism of gun ownership. Australia? What the fuck is he talking about? Are Australians knocking each other off at a rate comparable to Americans? I seriously doubt it.

And he hints at the dangers of a society in which citizens are not allowed to own AK-47s. What are they? How are guns making us safer? No one has ever seriously tried to ban hunting weapons, but these yahoos want to own, or more to the point, to sell any and every weapon under the sun.

By his logic, we should all be allowed to own thermo-nuclear devices.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"I learn with great concern that [one] portion of our frontier so interesting, so important, and so exposed, should be so entirely unprovided with common fire-arms. I did not suppose any part of the United States so destitute of what is considered as among the first necessaries of a farm-house." --Thomas Jefferson to Jacob J. Brown, 1808.

Germanicus, I agree with you concerning your thoughts about assault weapons -- and even more prolific weapons. I've been watching this discussion unfold, intentionally standing back because, quite frankly, it's a touchy area for most people, and one I've never really felt very strongly about. However, when you stated, "By his logic, we should all be allowed to own thermo-nuclear devices.", I felt compelled to jump in. I came to the same conclusion, long ago, and seeing a like-thinker on the subject, I had to throw in my two-cents worth.

I think it's important to understand what life was like during the founding of this country, and prior to, in order to have a deeper appreciation for why certain protections were provided for in our Constitution. Understandably, food for the common man was acquired through the bountifulness of nature, either through the tilling of the soil or the hunting of game. Everybody man carried a single-shot muzzle-loading gun in those days, just as every man wears a watch or carries a cell-phone today. It was as common a necessity as a man's horse or carriage. A gun was an everyday implement in early American society, and Thomas Jefferson recommended its use, however even he saw a necessity for prudence and limitation. He never, for example, proposed that each man secure artillery, or what would have been cannon back then, for protection or hunting purposes. If assault weapons were available during his day, one has to honestly ask whether he would have advocated their use, much less their common ownership. From all we know about Jefferson, the answer appears to be no.

Personally, although I'm not a strict advocate of gun control (what ever that term means), I certainly believe any legal weapon ownership, beyond standard rifle assortments, is not a good idea within our society any longer. Most handgun ownership, and definitely all assault and other military-style semiautomatic rifles, should be outlawed or, at least, very strongly discouraged. They're not sufficient for self-defense, or "to defend our nation against usurpers within and without", but only allow the less mindful and less self-sufficient to infringe upon civilized society through random and violent outrage. In the parlance of Thomas Jefferson, they're certainly not "common fire-arms".

At 10:32 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom, Some very good issues here. I grew up in the south in the country and we always had guns around. Given the number of predators (four legged) it was simply a matter of common sense and protection. I learned to shoot, but haven't handled a gun for years and have no desire to do so. Maybe living in Chicago, I should consider getting one, but the fact remains, no law abiding citizen needs an assault weapon. It is true that criminals will always find a way to get them, but background checks and such can help with the problem. Going to a gun show and purchasing a high powered firearm should not be as simple as walking into the grocery store and picking a jar of peanut butter off the shelf.

The idiocy of the NRA movement and others is now being shown by those who want to be able to carry concealed weapons into a church service. A church service??? Whatever happened to Christian love and such? What do you need to protect yourself from at church?

And you have really hit on another part of the problem; marijuana at the very least should be legalized. Plain old tobacco and alcohol have caused more deaths than pot every did and it is time for our lawmakers to remove their heads from their rectal cavities and do something about it. That would eliminate many problems with the Mexican drug cartel and while California is dreaming about it and hoping, think of the tax revenue.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Citizen Sane said...

I'm a gun owner and target shooter, and I live in the boonies, where it would take the Sheriff Dept. at least 25 minutes to get here if someone were breaking in.
Having said that, I must add that I can't stand the NRA mindset, and I see NO reason why any civilian needs to have assault weapons, machine guns, etc. It's ludicrous. The idea that every person is entitled to own any kind of weapon is insanity. There's just way too many fucked up, mentally ill people in our society for that.
Recently I picked up another small caliber rifle for target shooting. For the background check I filled out a questionnaire. One of the questions was: "Are you mentally defective"? Or something close to it. I laughed and asked the guy, "does anyone answer yes to this question?!" Most mentally ill people - including abusive, controlling men - never think there's anything wrong with THEM.
Anyone with a history of domestic violence, assault and battery, or has been involuntarily committed as a danger to self or others should NOT be able to own firearms. I worked at a domestic violence shelter for several years, and advocated for DV victims in court. These abusive nutballs are always the ones with small arsenals in the cellar. (They are also invariably the ones who enjoy killing defenseless animals for sport, fishing with dynamite, etc).
Tom, I'm so sorry about your cousins! Yesterday, here in NC, some wacko starting shooting up a nursing home, killing the infirm and elderly in wheelchairs and in their beds. When I heard about it, I wanted to puke.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Let me be clear, I do not advocate the total, across the board confiscation of the people's guns. But these things I believe with all my heart:

1. No private citizen should be legally allowed to own an assault weapon.

2. People with violent criminal record (and that includes spousal abuse) should be allowed to own any weapon.

We don't give people with histories of drunken driving drivers licenses. This is common sense.


Tom Degan

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

By the way, Charles, You make a point that I am fond of making myself.

By the time one hits fifty years of age (as I did last August 16) one has personally known - at the very least - fifty people who have died as a result of too much nicotine and another fifty who have died from too much alcohol. How many people have you known who have died as the result of too much grass? Not only have I never known someone to die in that matter, I'm not aware of it happening in all recorded human history.

Send my best to the Windy City!


At 2:18 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Tom, when one grows marijuana in one's home he/she risks losing that home in a forfeiture action ( the home is an instrumentality of the crime of cultivation ). Most folks find this too great a risk and foster the black market by purchasing their pot from others who are willing to take that risk for the profit to be made. Gun control has always been a tricky issue. While I don't condone violence ( especially with guns ) I don't think it's a good idea to have only law enforcement officers and criminals possess guns. Capable citizens should be allowed to protect themselves and others from psychopaths and insane persons. Not to mention protecting ourselves from a government run amuck in the worst case scenario.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Citizen Sane said...

Ellis, what you just described pretty much sums up the lunacy of our draconian drug laws. A citizen can lose everything they own for growing pot plants in their home, even if they use it for medicinal purposes - of which there are many. And Tom is right, no one in recorded history has ever had a fatal overdose of marijuana. Unlike unlike the products of Big Pharma, for example. Or alcohol, where you can literally drink yourself into a fatal overdose in under twenty minutes. That happens every day.
But if you defraud investors to the tune of millions or billions of dollars, running your company into the ground in the process, you get to KEEP all of YOUR property! Your beach house, your cars, boats, jewelry, real estate, and foreign investments. You can leave thousands of retirees virtually destitute, and just skip off to your place in the Cayman Islands! As long as you didn't have a pot plant...
An Epidemiologist in TN is losing his family farm because he grew some cannabis for sick and terminally ill people that he knew - and he never sold ANY of it.
That's what passes for a "Justice System" these days. Our founders would be turing in their graves. George Washington, who cultivated cannabis, wrote in one of his journals that, "There is nothing more pleasurable on a cold winter's evening than sitting in front of the fire with a book, and a pipe full of hashish in my hand".
Of course nowadays George would be a felon and "drug trafficker".

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Anna, the attitude of the establishment toward pot stems ( no pun intended ) from its hatred of the 1960s counter-culture. The establishment feels our generation disrespected them for protesting the Viet Nam war instead of mindlessly going off to die for the military industrial complex, among other things. People who are in a position to help stop this madness about marijuana ( Dr. Andrew Weil is an example of such a person ) seem unwilling to stick their necks out on this issue which I think is a shame. Obama is also totally chickenshit on this issue in spite of what he might have led people to believe during his campaign.

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,
Not to kiss up but I think your very courageous to host this site and I find it very informative. One of the posters on your last thread mentioned starving the beast and I was wondering if you had considered doing an article or sponsoring such a movement on your site? I know this is off topic but I thought it was a good idea and hate to see it disappear down the memory hole.
As for gun violence, I was a tool at one point and served in the Army. I have witnessed murder on a grand scale and I have seen it done with more than guns. Guns are demonized in the media and I truly believe its a Government attempt to disarm us. If someone wanted to kill large numbers of random defenseless people, you couldn't find a better means than the humble automobile. These people in power are not stupid, they understand the power of perception. When I was in the service they had units whose jobs were strictly psychological operations and that appears to be the media's job out here. Shootings are sensationalized on an endless media loop and why? Are they concerned for our safety, Or if the media is independant and the saying "if it bleeds it leads" is true how about more/deeper Iraq/Afghanistan coverage? Plenty of bleeding over there. IMO If you allow them a foot in the door on this, it will not end with assault weapons. Many of these people in power do not have the burden of conscience, but they do have a fear of death. They fear an armed population and that has done more to keep them at bay then any ballot measure to date.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Joel said...

FYI: Not all assault rifles are automatic weapons (machine guns). Nobody can legally own an automatic weapon without a class III firearms license which is extremely difficult to get. I would be surprised if anybody who has gone through the trouble of getting the license would jeopardize it by selling an automatic weapon to anyone without a class III license. These are not the people you need to worry about.

The fear of “assault rifles” is an irrational one. The definition varies from a gun that has a removable clip to one that can accommodate a bayonet. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if you have an “assault rifle” in your hands or a lever action Winchester and a side arm. You can do just as much damage either way if you know how to use them. There were over 5 million Model 94 lever action Winchesters made alone; just a bit of trivia.

I know many people who own an “assault rifle”. Most of these people are ex-military who like to shoot in long range competition. I see no reason why any law abiding citizen shouldn’t be able to own an “assault rifle”. I have to agree with any Anna that the questionnaire is stupid, but the background check is not. The laws in place now prevent anyone who has been convict of a violent crime from legally buying a firearm. I don’t know about Anna’s state, but where I live the police take away weapons from people who have simply been accused of domestic violence.

And for my ignorant little friend Germanicus, Australian citizens were relieved of their firearms by the government in an attempt to curb violent crime and it did nothing. Violent crime actually increased briefly as a result. Around a million people defend themselves each year in this country using a firearm, not including police personnel. The NRA has to be extreme to protect gun owners from nut jobs like you who think guns are the problem.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger JRD said...

You're the one defending the right to own an AK-47 and I'm the nut job.

I think that about says it all.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Now! Now! Germanicus and Joel, you two boys place nice!



At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Ok Tom, so maybe ignorant nut job was a little strong. Perhaps simply uninformed would be better. Also, I think anonymous has a good point. It is not a good thing to have an unarmed republic. I remember reading something about the Emperor of Japan; or maybe it was their ambassador during WWII, can’t remember. Anyway, he attended Harvard and lived in the US for a time. He was averse to the idea of invading the US mainland because he knew that most Americans were armed. It probably wouldn’t have stopped him, but interesting that he thought about it.

I would also point out to Jefferson’s Guardian that the common firearms to which he refers were the weapons of the day, excluding cannons. The firearms which equipped the armies of the day were the same as those used by the average citizen; assault rifles today. The frame of reference is completely different. As offensive as it may be to some, an armed citizen resistance is big part of defeating any aggressor. Iraq is a good example. The insurgents may not be the “good guys” but they sure make things difficult for us. Just imagine if every Iraqi were armed and opposed us.

The definition of aggressor is based on your perspective.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Hey there, Crime Stoppers!!

I received this e-mail from veteran Wayne Spalding. I don't agree with EVERYTHING he has to say, but he makes several good points. He has given me permission to post his note in its entirety. Happy reading!


I'm in total agreement on your post about the failed drug war. But your views on gun control displays a innocent ignorance of violence. I worked in the towing industry(we did not do repo's) and over twelve years my gun saved my life or a coworkers life at least 17 times. I've been jumped by four customers at time, maced twice, had a baseball bat, a golf club, tire iron, crow bar and several knives swung my way. Oh yeah, I've had several hand guns one shotgun and a hunting rifle pointed in my direction. I've fortunately have had a safe place to jump out of the way of many a speeding car. My son was car jacked at gun point and was kept for just under three hours while they would drive around looking for a safe place to drag him out of the car and beat him until they thought they had been in one place to long and go and find the next safe spot. At the tenth crime scene they thought he was dead and left him in a hole where a tree(farm) had been mechanically
removed. I saw my son's face print in the mud and roots with boot prints all around it. They traveled thru three different jurisdictions and the police just didn't seem that interested until I walked into one wearing an empty shoulder holster. They immediately assigned two detectives to watch me and we found the two car jackers in four days. They got ninety years each, thirty years in each jurisdiction. The gun control laws in the rest of the world just change the weapon. You will have to pry my gun from my cold dead hand.

Wayne C. Spalding

At 10:00 PM, Anonymous John said...

>>Unlike unlike the products of Big Pharma,

Don't expect pot to be legalized anytime soon. The pharmaceutical industry is orchestrating regulation to reduce or eliminate access to many types of traditional medicine. It is pathetic that the FDA refuses to oversee the fruit of genetic engineering - and yet they are making many new rules regarding natural remedies and other types of products that might be sold in health food stores. This industry hardly cares if you get high, take risky medicines or just suck down snake oil - as long as they are the ones selling you the fix.

My own suspicions began years ago when I was suffering from a sore throat and gargling with salt water made it worse. I had never experienced this when mom or Dr Quakenbush told me to gargle (Dr Q was probably the last who made house calls in Goshen - I have very fine memories of this man. I hope I spelled his name correctly). If you look at all the fine insoluble particles that remain suspended in a glass of water that has common table salt stirred into it, you can see the cause of this irritation. These are added for anti-caking. However, there was anti-caking ingredients in use when I was a kid that didn't seem inferior and didn't have this effect. My theory is that the pharmaceutical industry has cut a deal with the table salt companies to ensure that this happens.

By the way, Kosher or sea-salt works excellent for the gargle mix.

At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Quakenbush.

Doctor Quakenbush?

Did you say, Doctor "Quack-en-bush"?

Surely, John, you're pullin' our collective leg?

At 6:22 AM, Blogger JRD said...

He pulleth not

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Joel said...

Dr. Q was the man!

NH is about half way to legalization of medical use of marijuana. It has passed the House and is on to the Senate. Unfortunately, the terms are rather ridiculous. You need two doctors to state you need it AND you have to endure pain and suffering for at least three months before you are permitted to get it! John is probably right. I know that cancer patients are receiving marijuana derivatives sold by big pharma. Let’s legalize it all together, regulate it like tobacco or alcohol, and collect some tax dollars instead of spending them. I doubt illicit drug sales are included in the trade deficit, but they probably should be. Buy American!

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Yeah Joel and John, Dr. Quackenbush was the man indeed! I never had him as a Doctor. Our family Doctor was Dr. Nathanial Keyes. He was a lovely man as well. The last of the old time Doctors who came into your home to heal you. They are a treasured relic of a vanished age.

As I recall, John, Dr. Q lived just around the corner from you, did he not?


At 9:00 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

" unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824

Joel, I totally, though respectfully, side with Tom and disagree with your statement, "I see no reason why any law abiding citizen shouldn’t be able to own an 'assault rifle'." The Second Amendment is clearly not classified as an "unalienable right", although way too many proponents (or "gun nuts", to many) of unqualified and unregulated weapon ownership would lead you to believe it is.

So much of the debate has always hinged upon keeping or not keeping, bearing or not bearing, but none address the conditional question of keeping or bearing, subject to reasonable regulations. The Second Amendment is clearly conditional, and the condition is a "well regulated militia". If, and when, you find a single Founding Father saying the government cannot limit or regulate arms in any way, shape, or form, please let me know. I'd be interested in knowing. I'm quite such that such a quotation doesn't exist.

Similarly, no quotation exists that addresses the fact that the Founders were talking only about muskets and other simple arms. If you think the Founders would have approved of bearing arms such as assault rifles or semi-automatic pistols -- not to mention nuclear or biochemical weapons, for instance -- please provide direct quotations to that effect. As a challenge, I'd like you to show me a single quotation stating that a person has the right to own cannons, catapults, or gunpowder bombs -- which did exist back then.

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Joel said...

I didn’t suggest that we be allowed to own nuclear or biological weapons. A semi-automatic assault rifle is by today's standards a relatively simple firearm. Here are some quotes for you:

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Joel, I never intended to insinuate that you advocated the "right to bear arms" as applying to nuclear or biological weapons. But, I did mean to point out, rather pitifully it seems, that our Founding Fathers never intended for weaponry beyond that necessary for hunting, or basic personal self-defense, be lawfully owned by the citizenry.

To believe that assault, or assault-type, weapons are considered "relatively simple firearm[s]", by any common standard, is disingenuous at best. Absolutely, it's "relatively simple" compared to a thermonuclear device, but it's certainly not considered simple ("common") outside of military parlance or use.

I'm familiar with the linked page you provided (The Right To Keep And Bear Arms - Quotes). Again, I challenge you: show me a single quotation from that page -- or any other if you can find one -- stating that a person has the right to own cannons, catapults, or gunpowder bombs, all of which were common military weaponry at that time.

You won't, simply because you can't.

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Germanicus and Tom...

I don't doubt that the fine doctor you remember from your childhood was a decent and honorable gentleman, but to lead me to believe that he was a "Quakenbush" is far-fetched...and absolutely hilarious!

Happy April Fool's Day to you, too!

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Jeff's Guard,

You make a good point. IT was, in fact, against the law for private citizens to own cannons in the nineteenth century. And let's not forget the words that the NRA tends to ignore from the 2nd Amendment:

"Well regulated state militia"

It then goes on to say in the same sentence (and that is crucial to remember), "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

What they actually had in mind will forever be debated by scholars and politicians. But there can be no debate that what they had in mind was that the entire affair be "well regulated". There would be no regulation at all if the NRA had their way. As it is, there is not enough.

The asshole who murdered my beloved cousin Susan Clements in cold blood was not able to purchase a gun in Indiana where she lived - and died. He did a little bit of research and discovered he would be able to buy one (or as many as he liked - he in fact bought three) in the state of Arizona. He drove there, made the purchase, and ended not only Susan's life, but the life of her boyfriend.

She and a hell of a lot of other people (John Lennon, Bobby Kennedy, Rebbecca Shaefer, would still be alive today but for the insane, insatiable appetite for unregulated guns of a relative few. And don't forget, most Americans -and damned near every law enforcement agency in the country - agree with me.
The gun industry is "well regulated" in Europe and Japan. All those countries combined barely have half the problem we have with respect to the carnage.

on that happy note....

Enjoy this lovely Spring day, folks!

Tom Degan

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


As God is my witness (and Joel and John - both natives of Goshen - will attest to this):

The man's name was Dr. Quackenbush.

So help me Mitch Miller!


Tom Degan

PS - I believe his full name was Robert Quackenbush. Joel? John? Germanicus?

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous John said...

Tom, Stanley.

>>Did you say, Doctor "Quack-en-bush"?

I never looked at it this way. But now that you mention it, his wife Alison would strike you as one of those people who was truly satisfied in life!

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Good one, John.

Jeff’s Guard and Tom, I don’t believe that I said anything about cannons or catapults. Although, it would be cool to have a cannon in my backyard. Have a few beers on a Saturday afternoon and touch one off. You must admit that does sound like fun.

As I said before, assault rifles are not much different than your average hunting rifle except for the military appearance. In fact, the vast majority of hunting rifles are far more powerful than your average assault rifle. The only significant difference is that most hunting rifles will hold 5 to 10 rounds, and most assault rifles come with 10 to 20 round clips. And yes, there are semi-automatic hunting rifles.

If the founding fathers were alive today, I absolutely believe they would have approved of assault rifles and pistols. If you see the Second Amendment as I do, you would agree. See what you think of this:
Again, the definition of aggressor is based on your perspective.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"If the founding fathers were alive today, I absolutely believe they would have approved of assault rifles and pistols."

Joel, as much as this is truly an opinion board, I respect your right to have yours. But, I think you're missing the larger point...the only point, really, that I can see we've (Tom and I, at least) been attempting to make the last couple of days, but which you've been alluding and skillfully avoiding; that being the government's choice to regulate the ownership of weapons of the people, coupled with the government's restrictions on which types of weapons may be legally owned.

By the way, I prefer to avoid exploring any websites that have the word "god" in them. But, for you, I made an exception and went into it. Let me just say this last thing and I'll be done. It's dangerous when laypeople take it upon themselves and decide to become interpreters of Constitutional Law -- especially when those interpretations are taken out of context, and made without the benefit of having a full understanding and appreciation for the laws and cultural values -- the mindset, of the people living in that time. I feel the same way about attempts to interpret the Bible. It's not only leaving the door wide-open to misinterpretation and perversion, but it's fractious and ultimately dangerous to society.

But, I think I've beat this dead horse long enough. Even the fabled and industrious Dr. Quackenbush couldn't have done much with this patient.

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Speaking of regulation...

[I]t’s funny how GM is being treated as a ward of the state, even though it hasn’t formally declared bankruptcy, in a way that AIG — which is 80% government-owned! — is not. --- Paul Krugman, “The banks” versus “some banks”, The New York Times (2 April 2009)

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous John said...

A related discussion was taking place at work. One of my co-workers pulled out his registration card and pointed out his on-file serial numbers of weapons that belong to him. This kind of creeps me out. It is another example of government intruding on privacy under the guise of safety (although I have to acknowledge that some of those weapon enthusiasts are nuts. Special note to Anna & Joel: Please ignore that last line - I don't want to piss you guys off ;^)

Everyone who has posted is sort of on the same page in that some limit on the type of hardware should exist, the difference being only in the details. If the majority of society thinks there should be some limit on permissible arms due to technical developments since the 18th century, then there should be. That limit should be somewhat arbitrary yet practical and reflect historic capabilities. As for myself, I have no interest in firearms. I have however always wanted a trebuchet.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Shit, Harragin! You should start your own blog. You would put me right out of business, son! Seriously!


At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

Gee, I don’t know John. Maybe our founding fathers really did want the federal government looking up my asshole. After the wonderful experience of living under the well armed British, maybe they wanted to continue the tradition. We also know how little the States cared about their sovereignty and independence, and really wanted to be ruled by a Federal government. Yea, that's it. Could it be that simple? Nah, I guess Jeff’s Guard is right. There’s no way anybody but a constitutional historian could possibly understand their mindset.

Oh, and BTW. Did you know that there are pellet guns that have the same killing power as a 22? So, given that you can kill someone just as easily with a pellet gun as you can with a hunting rifle or assault rifle, what should we do? For that matter, all someone has to do is sit in their car and wait for you to cross the street! Maybe we should regulate BB guns next! Yea, I think we should. I know somebody who went blind in one eye because of a BB. At least lawn darts are off the market.

Yes, we should definitely leave it up to the judgment of our government. I completely trust the Federal government to always do the right thing on my behalf. They know what's best for me and my personal privacy/security! They've never done anything to cause me to think that giving them something else to regulate is a bad thing. What's a little more bureaucracy in an already bloated and inefficient government.

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous John said...

Being a human is a scary thing. We are pretty dangerous. It can be from very simple things like an accidental dropping of a banana peel on a staircase or a chef picking his nose. Even worse, you also can't prevent people with criminal intent from obtaining weapons. We ultimately have to regulate ourselves and hope other people do too ...and when you think about it, most people do - kind of (although I shudder to think of how many of us make it through the day without picking our nose).

The government's primary motivation for keeping track of guns may not be for our safety either - but so they can seize them if they are so inclined.

Anyway, government regulation of all aspects of gun ownership isn't the answer.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"Maybe we should regulate BB guns next!"

Joel, when I was a kid I wanted a BB gun like you wouldn't believe. But, the reason I didn't get one wasn't due to government regulation, or government restrictions (although that's only partially true). The reason I couldn't have a BB gun was because my mom said I couldn't. And the reason, and I understood this better once I became a parent myself, was because of the hazards you described.

"Yes, we should definitely leave it up to the judgment of our government. I completely trust the Federal government to always do the right thing on my behalf."

Joel, you're opening a rather large can of worms here, and I'm willing to go head-to-head with you. Your sarcasm is only exceeded by your ignorance if you believe consumer safety, and the safety of the public at-large, isn't justified by government intervention in some form.

All you have to refer to, as just the latest example, is the peanut product recalls due to Salmonella outbreaks all over the country. Because the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) was negligent in complying with FDA requirements, as mandated by federal law, hundreds of people became severely ill (and several died). Now, I would suppose that ownership of PCA felt like the federal government was "looking up [their] asshole" and infringing upon their right to run a business as they wanted, but the fact remains that some authority has to police and regulate private enterprises on the consumers' behalf. Because, and this is a certainty, private enterprise isn't going to go to the expense and trouble of policing themselves if they don't have to. So, I might not think the federal government always does the right thing on my behalf, but I sure as hell believe they're more likely to than the profiteers that are only concerned with their bottom-line, or satisfying the profitability cravings of their stockholders.

I sense a tone of frustration with your government, which I completely understand and empathize with you to the fullest. The government of today isn't the government envisioned by the Founders of this country. It's not the government of We, the People, any longer. It hasn't been for a very long time. Nevertheless, I don't want every redneck and ignorant pickup-driving dip-shit to have unregulated access to the types of weapons you feel you're denied. It's a stretch to believe they'd use them to revolt against tyranny and despotic government rule. It's more likely they'd only use them against each other (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) -- but I unfortunately might, or my friends or family, be in their line-of-fire (which would be). This is why I don't want unregulated ownership of weapons, or ownership of assault or assault-type weapons, where I live. You don't need an assault-type weapon to protect your home or property.

I wish the federal government would have been doing what's "best for me and" when they deregulated the financial markets and allowed most financial institutions to follow the mistaken path of pure laissez-faire practices. We'd all be better off if they did -- I'm sure.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger LCS said...

I like the way the late Bill Hicks said it:

" England where no one has hand guns, there were 14 deaths from guns last year. In the U.S., and I think you know how we feel about guns, 23,000 deaths from handguns. But there's no connection, and you'd be a fool and a communist to make one, there's no connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it, and not having a gun and not shooting someone..."

Paraphrased from the album Relentless

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

If you'll permit a post-script - just heard the news - 13 possible dead in Binghamton, NY - and the shooter was using a "high-powered" rifle...May the Good Lord help us all...and the families and friends of the fallen.

I confess - I gasped when I saw the locality and the proximity to your home town.

Stay safe, everybody as safe as possible which is getting harder to do every day.

I am shaking as I write this...something HAS to be done.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


I got the news of this latest atrocity when I read your post. I have had a news black out all afternoon. Ironically, I was watching the Marx Brothers DVD I was about to send you in the mail.

If only all of those foolish people killed would have been smart enough to pack some heat....

I need a fucking drink....


At 6:55 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"AFTERTHOUGHT, April 3, 2009, 4:47 PM:

This afternoon a lone gunman shot and killed at least thirteen people in Binghampton, NY. Not that I need to rub this in, but we had all better get used to this sort of thing. And now if you'll excuse me, I plan on getting very intoxicated. Cheers!"

You're right, Tom. I'm slowly sipping a cold mug of Old Dominion Lager -- probably not my last this evening -- on this windy and warm Friday evening in the 'burbs of our nation's capital, and I'm wondering, why do they always do this? Why do they always take it out on their peers...their class...their friends and family? Aren't they, if it's a truism as the advocates of pro-gun legislation always lead you to believe it is, supposed to be defending "our nation against usurpers within and without" with their armaments and munitions? But, you know, they never do that. There's never even anecdotal evidence suggesting they're dong it for some greater good -- for the betterment of society, for a political purpose...whatever. It's never that way. It's always some random nut-case...usually portrayed as a angry malcontent...a person down on his luck and seeking revenge. And they always seem to strike in April.

I don't know too much, right now, about this incident in Binghamton other than the killer was male; he killed fourteen people, including himself; and he held officials at-bay while he kept hostages inside the building with him before ending his own life. The only thing I do know -- and you can bank on it (poor, and untimely metaphor, I know), as the economy the promise slips the whole damn thing swirls down the drain, this won't be the last time.

My thoughts go out to the victims' families, and all the survivors of this ordeal.

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

"If only all of those foolish people killed would have been smart enough to pack some heat...."

Sad but true.

Jeff's Guard, you missed my meaning. I was inferring that the Feds aren’t very good at regulating anything, and I agree with your examples. I support the gun laws which are in place now. More gun control is not the answer to society’s ills. Here is some information regarding falicies that exist concerning gun shows and assault rifles.

I realize you will assume it’s propaganda from the stinky old NRA, but hold your nose and try to be objective, as it is factual. All non-gun owners should read and understand, if you're not sick of this topic by now.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


I love ya, pal, but that is the silliest argument I've heard since "We'll fight them there so we won't have to fight them here."

Can you imagine the carnage that would have occurred had everyone in that place been armed? With everyone not even knowing who the real gunman is? It would have been a freakin' bloodbath!

Don't hold this against me, but your argument is extremist to say the least. A "free society" where everyone has to carry a lethal weapon in order to feel secure may be many things - free it is not.

You're a great guy, Mr. Fish, but sometimes you can be sooo silly!


Tom Degan

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Sure, let's just return to the days of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral; where everyone is armed, edgy, and potentially dangerous. We'll trade in the abysmal prospect of an occasional nut-job wielding a weapon and attacking virtual unknowns, and instead have the streets, markets, and public areas full of them.

Yes, that just the type of society I want to live in. [dripping sarcasm]

By the way, Joel, I read all the articles you cited. I'm not convinced, and neither am I prepared to alter my viewpoints. I'll stick to my earlier pronouncements -- nobody needs to have assault, or assault-type, weapons. You can have your handguns and semi-automatic weapons, but forget about the military-type "weapons of mass destruction". There are no provisions in the Bill of Rights that legitimizes their ownership, or availability, as an inalienable right. None.

Tom, it's time for a new subject. May I make a suggestion?

At 2:10 PM, Blogger finefroghair said...

you are modern day nostradamus just days after this post and yet another mass killing and right in your home state wow I have been reading your blog for years Thanks for the good work keep slinging those pointed barbs and arrows at the wingnuts and other various assholes!!!

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thanks for the kind words, pal. I just checked out your blog. Pretty cool!

Predicting another massacre is no great gift of prophecy. When the gun laws are as stupid as they are in this country, it's a foregone conclusion that something like this will happen again - and again and again and again.

As I said in the piece, get used to it.

All the best and thanks for reading,

Tom Degan

At 4:07 AM, Blogger JRD said...

If only those kids in Washington had been packing...

If only those cops in Pittsburgh had been packing...

If only...

At 6:06 AM, Blogger Polyquats said...

Hi Tom,
Joel said "It certainly didn’t do anything for the Australians."

Think you should check this out:
"In the 1970's and till the mid 1980's the Australian figure for total gun deaths from all causes (suicide, homicide, unintentional) was nearly 700. Despite increasing population and almost certainly due to stricter gun controls this figure had been reduced to less than half that figure by the early 2000's - the actual figure for 2003 being 290. This means that today over 400 fewer Australians each year die from gun wounds than one might expect to be the case if the gun lobby had managed to keep Australians in the dark-ages with regard to gun laws.

1987 saw six gun massacres where 32 innocents were killed by shooters. Although there have been a couple of multiple shootings since 2000 it is probably reasonable to say that the gun massacre phase in Australian history appears to have passed by 1999 - 13 years of tragedy. The US is the only other westernised country to be plagued by repeated gun massacres over several decades. There are no seriously coordinated gun laws in the US in regard to handguns and non-automatic shotguns and rifles. We would argue that this situation arises because US politicians bow to the gun lobby and fail to enact responsible gun laws; several of the present Bush administration being members of the NRA.

US pro-gun activists such as author David Kopel argue that Americans insist on total freedom wih guns and that the Second Amendment to the Constitution places every adult in a position of arming and accepting responsibility - ie, to overthrow the government if it stops acting in the interests of the the citizens. They also argue that there is so much crime that the police cannot be relied upon to quickly help citizens, hence each person must become their own lawman. Readers can see from the figures below what a high price such policies create within American society.

Gun Related Murders per 100,000 of population in 2002 (From Sunday Times)

USA 4.08
Canada 0.54
England and Wales 0.12
Scotland 0.12
Japan 0.04

Our calculations show that the figure for Australia is 0.25. This means that approx 16 times more Americans die from gun murders than Australians."

Australian's gave up their guns pretty easily. Port Arthur was enough for us. Don't know how many Americans it'll take.

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you for that, Janet. very Interesting stats indeed.

I've known Joel for thirty-five years. He is in all (or most) respects a perfectly reasonable, intelligent man (a whole hell of a lot smarter that I). It's just that on a handful of subjects he gets a little nutty - not unlike yours truly.


Tom Degan


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