Dylann Roof -- the face of evil
Dylann Roof — the face of evil

I’ve been wavering in my support for the death penalty in recent years — repeated stories of people wrongfully convicted ending up on death row wore me down. Once the state has executed someone, there’s no going, whoops, we made a mistake, so sorry about that. But, then, along comes an incident like the murder of nine African-American church goers in Charleston, S.C., and I think, there are crimes so heinous and unforgivable that death is the only appropriate redress.

We’re finding out now that the suspected killer, Dylann Roof, was a loner. He had emotional problems. He was taking a drug, suboxone, which has been connected with sudden outbursts of aggression. I’m sure he’ll find some lawyer who will plead that it wasn’t his fault, the drug made him do it.

Now, Roof deserves his day in court to present a defense, but based on what we know now there are no facts that can possibly mitigate the horror of the crime he committed. Roof had been delving into racist ideologies and ranting about injustices to the white race. He then took it upon himself to go to a black church and sit in a bible study class for an hour before shooting and killing nine people. “I have to do it,” he allegedly said. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

If the act transpired as portrayed in the media, it could not possibly have been more calculated and premeditated. While Roof may have been emotionally disturbed, he displayed total clarity of mind. The appropriate response to such a crime is to expunge him from the face of the earth.

Update: Heart wrenching beyond words: “The man suspected of killing nine people at a historically black Charleston church told police that he ‘almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him,’” reports MSNBC. The statement demonstrates that he clearly knew right from wrong. No excuses. Definitely time for South Carolina to warm up the electric chair.


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  1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    There are some crimes so heinous that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is insufficient. And Roof’s uncle appears to agree. Let’s see what the South Carolina courts do.


  2. larryg Avatar

    well perhaps some questions –

    how come when blacks go berserk they are called sub-human criminals and “thugs” and when whites do they are called “mentally ill”?

    and how come virtually all of these mass killings are committed by white guys?

    oh.. and now the word is that the folks in the church contributed to their own deaths because they did not supports laws that would allow them to carry guns in church..

    and the biggest question – how come some of us continue to insist that race is a made up issue that does not really exist – anymore?

    you know – we cluck our tongues about what savages the folks who behead others and do suicide bombings are and in this country – we have one after another mostly white guys that go on killing rampages of truly innocent folks.

    retribution ? really?

    1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Larry. Every comment I’ve seen, even among conservatives, is that Roof’s act was reprehensible, heinous, unforgivable (add as many adjectives as you’d like). Even the guy’s own uncle (see TMT’s note above) said he’d push the button on the electric chair.

      I guess the question is this: Given what we know now, do you believe the guy deserves the electric chair? Or do you harbor some reservation about taking his life? It’s not a hard choice for conservatives. How about for liberals?

      1. Cville Resident Avatar
        Cville Resident

        I’m not a liberal, but I don’t believe in the death penalty. It’s not a hard choice. It’s ultimately about how much power you choose to grant to the state. I don’t think the state should have the power to take a life. I’m sure many disagree with me, and that’s fine. I respect their views so long as they respect my views.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          I respect that position. A number of states, most recently Nebraska, have abolished the death penalty. What I don’t respect is judges overturning years of precedent because they’ve discovered some hidden and unwritten clause in the Constitution that doesn’t exist to assert their views as if they were members of Congress or state legislatures.

          1. Cville Resident Avatar
            Cville Resident

            I’m in 100% agreement. The legislatures should abolish the death penalty, not the courts. The practice is too ancient to somehow be magically divining that “we’ve been deciding these cases wrongfully all these years, it actually is an 8th amendment constitutional violation.”

  3. larryg Avatar

    I think the talk of electric chair is dumb. It’s just retribution that solves nothing. This advocacy for the death penalty is misplaced deflection of more serious issues… who cares what happens to this piece of scum? If he commits suicide – good

    what I’m talking about is the reasons why , in our society, where we justify trillions of dollars and thousands of deaths of our own folks to go after terrorists – and we would have totally freaked out if this had been a Muslim and I can assure you that the talk would not have been about the death penalty – at all but something far more.

    we have our own domestic-born terrorists and our response is to change our minds about the death penalty?


    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Who has changed their mind on the death penalty? I’ve had the same belief since high school. I support the death penalty for heinous crimes and believe there should be a thorough review of the record by a court of appeals and full disclosure of all evidence to the defendant’s lawyers.

      Retribution is a reasonable response of society for outrageous acts of murder. I feel the same about Roof as I do about the Boston Bomber and Timothy McVeigh.

      I don’t see the connection of horrible domestic murders to terrorists operating overseas. What are the serious domestic issues that are being deflected? This time, you’ve got me quite confused.

      1. larryg Avatar

        Well.. the guy that wrote this post evidently… changed his mind

        I don’t see any satisfaction from retribution myself.. it just makes us a little bit more like the killers in my view.

        don’t get me wrong – I could care less how these guys meet their end and if it happens sooner rather than later – then fine

        but in our criminal justice system – this don’t work. They get another 10-20 years of life and it’s a life usually much better than if they were put
        in with the general population .

        prison these days is sub-human anyhow in my view. Spend a night watching “Lockup” and picture yourself living like that.

        The death penalty is the easy way out …

        TMT – are you unaware of just how many mass killings we’ve had in this country in the last few years?

        F.B.I. Confirms a Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000

        take a look: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/us/25shooters.html

        I’m basically agnostic about the death penalty – far more concerned with why we seem to be having more mass murders… of truly innocent people.


        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          Back in the early 1940s, my grandfather was chief stationary engineer at the Moose Lake State Hospital in Minnesota. My grandparents and mother told me many stories about how people with serious mental disorders, including those who were dangerous to themselves or others were kept confined and treated the best they knew how. People with less serious illnesses were allowed and encouraged to integrate with the hospital community. Many had jobs at the hospital and on the farm that fed the hospital. My grandmother even had a woman who came to their apartment and helped clean.

          But later society decided all must be free. I’d say many mass murders and serial killers often have serious mental illnesses. But its damn near impossible to get these people off the streets. Perhaps, too many people were hospitalized in the past, but damn sure too few are today.

          1. larryg Avatar

            TMT – did you ever see One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest?

            it ought to cure you of your thoughts!


          2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            Yeah, Larry, I’m going to believe a Hollywood movie over my grandparents and mother. My grandfather was at the hospital daily for more than four years. He knew and worked with superintendent, doctors and nurses.

  4. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Mr. Roof richly deserves the death penalty. He showed no mercy to the nine he killed, but shot them in cold blood. For a crimes such as these, I am glad we still have the death penalty, about which I am often ambivalent about its widespread application.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I think the death penalty is immoral. Also doubtful it is much of a deterrent in cases like this.

  6. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    “The sovereign beareth not the sword in vain,” Saint Paul wrote. Strange that we live in a world where executing mass murderers is deemed immoral, but innocent children in, and leaving, the womb are “fair game.”

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      That is a very interesting point you make. Thank you for reminding us.

  7. larryg Avatar

    If you could march Mr. Roof out back to hang from a tree – Lonesome Dove “Style – maybe.

    but think about what the death penalty means today.

    it’s a joke. This kid is going to be giving us the finger for 20 years…

  8. larryg Avatar

    I don’t think killing mass murderers makes one wit of difference in the bigger scheme of things. I’m not morally opposed to it – I just think it’s pointless. It solves nothing… it’s just an emotional response to a heinous act.

    I think it’s obvious we have a serious problem in this country of violence – more than any other industrialized nation on the planet. and yet all we can talk about is whether we should execute the murderers … and we basically are in denial about these mass murders.

    Our country has become more like 3rd world countries.. where people plant suicide bombs.. or just mow down dozens with gunfire.

    this kid is in many respects – a symbol of the problem that we have.

    sure we can kill him – I suspect had he just pointed the gun during the traffic stop -the deed would have been done forthwith … as we have seen.. hell.. we can dispatch them even if they are unarmed and … unfortunate..

    but this kid is just one of a series of others who will happen in the future. It’s not a question of if – it’s when.

    I’m much more concerned with this happening over and over than us killing the murderers.. over and over.. for retribution.

    1. Of course, an issue like this raises multiple questions, of which the death penalty is hardly the most important. More immediate questions are how do we identify and deal with mentally unstable people? How do we keep guns out of their hands? But those matters have gotten plenty of commentary in the last couple of days, as they do after every mass shooting. I don’t see/hear many people talk about the death penalty.

      All mass shootings are heinous. But I put the massacre of church goers in a bible meeting right up there with the massacre of school children as being especially horrific.

    2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry, what are some of your answers to address mass murders and, perhaps, serial killers? I ask this will all sincerity.

      1. larryg Avatar

        Serial killers are different from mass murderers. All countries have serial murders who often don’t use guns … but hands… and knives…

        what are my answers? I don’t have any other as long as we choose to talk about the death penalty instead of the bigger issues – we might as well be cleaning the wax out of our ears or some other more worthwhile thing.

        As a society we have to WANT to understand why other industrialized countries don’t have this problem. I’m not opposed to guns but I am opposed to our current really ignorant ways of handling guns that basically allow people with severe mental problems – EASY access. We can’t stop all access but we can have safeguards.

        we won’t stop it all but we ought to be able to say that the guy that killed 15 was 1. – the first in a long time rather than since two months ago, and 2. – he had a heck of a time getting is hands on a gun and ammunition for the gun. That he got turned down several times by several people, etc.

        the idea that people in that church should have been armed. That our teachers should be armed. That clerks in walMart should be armed – like found only in 3rd world countries should give us pause.

        we now are letting mentally ill people kill kids and people in churches and we seem to have no answers and prefer to discuss the death penalty instead.


        do you really want to see people walking the streets of America with a semi-auto gun slung over their shoulder or on their hip?

        do you want to stroll down the aisle in the grocery store to see every other person toting a gun?

        this current conversation about whether or not we should have the death penalty in the light of the other issues is … well.. that’s horrific.

  9. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Actually, unless the killer kept in solitary confinement, he will very likely be killed by other inmates, and probably tortured, first. American prisons, especially for whites, are extremely brutal places.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Good point. He might well prefer the death penalty to either the rest of his life in solitary confinement or an almost certain murder and likely torture he’d receive with any contact with the general prison population.

    2. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      Yeah, I can imagine a man who went into a black church looking to incite a race war won’t be welcomed into the Aryan Brotherhood with open arms at all.

      Also, thanks for taking the time out to remind us – in the face of a white murderer killing nine black citizens – that prisons are tough. Especially for white people.

  10. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

    No, the death penalty is immoral. This isn’t a hard choice. If murder is wrong then murder is wrong and murder is wrong.

    “was a loner.”

    No he wasn’t. He had a roommate who he talked to for six months about what he planned to do. He just got a gun as a birthday gift from his father. These aren’t connections a loner makes or maintains. He was connected and he was connected to white people who didn’t feel it was worth their discomfort to intercede at any point and correct his increasingly toxic racist views – from his views on segregation to his jokes to putting the American swastika on the front of his car.

    “He had emotional problems.”

    No. You know who’s going to have emotional problems? The five-year-old girl who played dead to survive while the sounds of bullets being fired, guns being reloaded and loved ones dying sounded around her.

    He was a stone cold racist killer who committed an act of terrorism and performed an assassination all in one moment.

    And the death penalty is going to do nothing to rectify or reconcile any of that. The true justice from this situation can only come from white society doing a complete overhaul with how it deals with race and the level of acceptance it has for racism. Because we all – white people – are culpable for the creation of this and the next Dylann Storm Roof when we:

    – Accept as legitimate political rhetoric centered around “taking our country back” by electing people who either implicitly or explicitly endorse this point of view.

    – Trade in discussion of black American culture as something different and deficient compared to white American culture and a culture that should be considered antisocial and outside the mainstream and that it’s right to respond to it with fear and disdain.

    – Laugh or pass along racist jokes and emails with watermelons on the White House lawn or “why is the penny the only coin facing the other way?” or the million and one other dehumanizing jabs at black people we’ve all heard and repeated throughout our lives.

    – Venerate as symbols of freedom and democracy violent and oppressive white men who enslaved, raped and murdered indigenous populations from Kenya to Kansas while castigating black protesters who commit the unforgivable sin or propety damage in the pursuit of seeking justice from a legal system that frequently gives a pass to state actors who kill members of their community. A CVS and a Kwik Mart do not matter more than the lives of American citizens.

    – Respond to instances of state brutality against its citizens by digging up the criminal records of the victims while withholding the names of the perpetrators for days, weeks and months on end.

    – Blame a man for carrying a toy gun inside a Wal-Mart, a boy for having a toy gun at a park, a business owner for selling loose cigarettes and a girl for being a pool party instead of simply saying “The level of police violence against these individuals was unacceptable.”

    – Continue to name our streets, schools and military bases after violent traitors who sought to keep black Americans in bondage.

    – Continue to nod our heads solemnly when someone responds to racist killings with “but what about black-on-black crime?” as if we’re unable to mouth the words “false equivalence.”

    – Accept as valid the argument that the reason European and Asian countries with better social programs and less violence than ours have these things because “they’re less multicultural.”

    – Allow the American swastika to fly freely anywhere in this country. Much less alongside our highways or over our statehouses. And perpetuate the lie that it’s about anything other than a continuation of the Civil War, especially when the flag of choice is a battle flag and especially when it was dead and in the ground until white people decided it needed to make a comeback during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s because they felt the need to signals that they were fighting a war.

    White society has engaged in racist destruction from the very start of the Founding Genocide when it was decided that this land and its resources were more important than the lives of the people living on it through the Holocaust of Enslavement to deciding that black people were only 3/5 humans and Native Americans less even than that to Jim Crow to Japanese interment camps to the Tuskegee Experiments to the assassination of Fred Hampton to watching a white cop choke a black citizen to death and deciding no crime had been committed.

    Dylann Roof thought he was going to start another Civil War when he walked into Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thursday. In order to fight a war you need at least two armies.

    In his lifetime in this country he had more than enough reasons to believe it would not be an army of one.

    1. larryg Avatar

      LOFL has some solid points…

      and we’re in denial about some of them

    2. Lionel Hutz Avatar
      Lionel Hutz

      Amazingly well said.

      1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

        I appreciate that, thank you!

    1. larryg Avatar

      ” It should be noted that not that long ago advanced nations in Europe were busy throwing people into ovens or starving millions on purpose.”

      yep.. that’s proof positive that Obama was exaggerating about mass killings ..

      come on Reed -do you really read stuff like this?

  11. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Actually, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn reminds us: “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.

    “Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

  12. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Liberals, I would argue, often fall into the trap of practicing so-called “Cultural Marxism”. They substitute whites for the bourgeoisie that needs overthrowing. The new proletariat are non-whites, women, homosexuals, trans-, etc. This young man, the mass-murderer, saw the injustice that Liberals routinely practice and embraced an evil, de-humanizing ideology that preaches hatred; he then committed foul, foul deeds, returning evil for evil. He will likely pay eternally for the heinous crimes he has committed against these innocent people. The way to oppose Liberal lies is with telling the truth, in love, not hate. For the truth spoken in love is powerful, but truth without love, and love without truth, are powerless and false.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Very well said indeed. It was also wonderful to learn this morning that the family of the victims have embraced this message of the power of love.

      It’s also good that Alexander Solzhenitsyn is enjoying a renaissance of study and scholarship. His message is powerful one, based on hard experience.

      Accusations against others based on stereotypes, such as the color of their skin, no matter the source of those accusations or the their target, are inherently false and vicious acts that in all cases originate from the anger and hate drawn from the stale, thin and soiled air trapped the heart and mind of the accuser.

      Of course these stereotypes, and the accusations they spawn through projection, are endless in their variety and adverse consequences. The spoiled meat of demagogues dressed in the cheap gaudy garb of enraged self-righteousness, they always end badly for everyone.

      1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
        Andrew Roesell

        Agreed, Reed! ;-)<

    2. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      Here’s Roof’s manifesto. Let me know which Liberal injustices he names herein:


  13. newmann Avatar

    Blinkered thinking like this is part of the problem and plays into why there’s so much inertia to restricting gun ownership or better enforcing the laws we do have. IMO the President is correct. Other industrialized countries (primarily in the West) have simply not had the overwhelming preponderance of gun violence that the US has had. (And cherry picking individual examples doesn’t prove anything, nor does misquoting the Constitution for that matter). We’ve had more than 80 school shootings since Sandy Hook alone, 2 ½ years ago, and we no doubt will have more until guns are not readily available to anyone who can afford to buy them.

    Needless to say there is indeed a direct correlation between countries with restrictive gun ownership and gun violence vs. those with more relaxed laws that have plenty of loop holes such as ours. And having a powerful gun lobby only ensures that gun manufacturers have undue muscle and influence..

    The question we should be asking ourselves is how many more innocent people have to die in yet another mass shooting before we as a society stop the madness? How many, before we reach a breaking point? Until and unless we pass laws that severely restrict firearms availability, I’m afraid more copycat violence will continue. We will have to reach a critical mass before the violence is stopped. A high noon indeed.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      To understand your argument better, could you explain where and how the Constitution has been misquoted? That’s a provocative comment, and I’d like to understand it more fully. Thanks.

  14. larryg Avatar

    I can… a “well-regulated militia” means what?

    and what does the Constitution say a well regulated militia is needed for?

    the whole concept is loony these days.

    please tell me that folks are allowed to “arm” themselves with stinger missiles or RPG’s and the like?

    What did the founding fathers mean when they said “arms”? Today, is that any “arms” that I can find and purchase?

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry, while you or I may think a decision is good or bad, the Supreme Court has the final say. The Second Amendment means a personal right to own and bear arms. The militia (i.e., National Guard) argument has been rejected by the Supreme Court. It’s not any different than the tortured opinion by Justice Douglas in Griswold v. Connecticut, where he found a right of privacy (not mentioned in the Constitution) amidst the Document’s penumbras and emanations.

      We either accept what SCOTUS says, subject to change by a constitutional amendment such as which occurred when the Court struck down the income tax law, or acknowledge that every public official is free to interpret the Constitution as she or he feels. Are we ready to say that a police chief in Connecticut can say Griswold is crap and arrest a pharmacist for selling birth control devices? If we are not (and I am not), then a police chief in California cannot say there is no person right to own a firearm unless that person is in the California National Guard.

      One of the biggest problems we have in this nation is the idea that we can pick and chose laws that we like. Either they apply equally and fairly (or are changed as Cville Res suggests) or we are a nation without the rule of law and, then, we all need to be armed to the teeth.

  15. newmann Avatar

    TMT, I was posting in response to RF3’s earlier link. Specifically, referring to the sacred cow of gun rights advocates, who routinely quote the 2nd Amendment as justification for their beliefs. Taken in correct historical context, it actually refers to a militia, which in today’s world would be the National Guard.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Newman, thank you. As I responded to Larry’s comments, that argument has been rejected by the Supreme Court. The Second Amendment provides a personal right to own and bear arms. We either accept the rulings of SCOTUS; change them via constitutional amendment; or agree to live in a nation where everyone (or at least, every elected official) is free to interpret the Constitution as he or she wants.

      Everyone, left, center and right, needs the certainty of the rule of law. While all of us will disagree on whether a law or court opinion makes sense or is fair or unfair, we need to follow the law or live in chaos. If one state can ignore SCOTUS on the Second Amendment, another can ignore SCOTUS on the duty to educate all children in public schools even when their parents brought them to this country illegally. Or Oregon can go back to prohibiting any child from attending any religious schools. Not many things are all or nothing in this world, but interpreting the Constitution is.

      1. Lionel Hutz Avatar
        Lionel Hutz

        Yes, but the Court had decided the issue in the 1930s, ruling that there was no individual right to bear arms. Then, through advocacy beginning in the 1970s, this view was challenged by the NRA and like-minded groups until a majority of similarly-inclined justices decided for the first time ever in 2008 that there was an individual right to bear arms.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          And the Supreme Court also reversed “separate but equal” and will probably reverse Baker v Nelson that held state prohibition against gay marriage was not even a federal question that could be raised. While the Supreme Court generally affirms precedent, there are times when it does not. Unless we individually play “heads I win; tails you lose,” we need to live with what we get or change the Constitution by amendment.

          The position that the Second Amendment preserves a personal right has much stronger historical support than does the contrary. Indeed, both Rhode Island and North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution until plans were laid for the Second Amendment.

          The Bill of Rights is critical to American freedom. I don’t like the idea that criminals sometimes get their cases dismissed because of an unconstitutional search, but I like that a lot more than permitting the police to knock down doors and root through people’s homes.

          Like it or not, the right to bear arms protects against government treachery. Check out the remarks of David Clarke, the Democratic sheriff of Milwaukee County and a black man. http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/sheriff-david-clarke-calls-guns-the-great-equalizer-in-radio-ad-dc8vu6e-194241801.html

          If you hate guns, don’t buy one.

  16. newmann Avatar

    I would argue 2 points:

    1) That this isn’t the first time that SCOTUS has made a ruling that has had disastrous results. Citizens United comes to mind, as well as a few others.. They are both spectacularly flawed and clearly both need to be overturned.

    2) You say ‘we need to follow the law or live in chaos.’ Well, we’re already living in chaos when we routinely have mass shootings. Allowing firearms to be so freely available is simply tragic and wrong. As I stated earlier, until and unless firearms are severely restricted, the unspeakable murder of the innocent will continue.

    Perhaps Burke said it best – The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Newman, if you take the position that the Second Amendment and Citizens United should be overturned, you’d agree others could take the position the Roe v Wade and the Texas public school education for illegal immigrant children could be overturned as well. I know many people who are on all sides of these principles. Or do you play a “heads I win; tails you lose” game?

      Now I would agree that, from time to time, but not often, SCOTUS overrules itself. And when it does, it has. But don’t we agree that unless and until a Supreme Court case has been overturned, the lower courts and all government bodies are bound by the existing decisions. The opposite is nullification, which is not a part of our governmental system.

      I can respect your views that you don’t like the bottom line results of the Second Amendment or Citizens United cases. You are not alone. There are some cases I think are pretty damn stupid as well. But I would strongly oppose a state law that said all abortions are illegal because such law would be prohibited by SCOTUS precedent. At the same time, while I don’t own guns, I strongly support the right of my neighbor to own one because the contrary would be prohibited by SCOTUS precedent.

      The remedy would be to amend the Constitution twice – once to prohibit abortions under certain circumstances and second – to allow restrictive gun control laws. (You are free to work for passage of any constitutional amendment you like.) But as we both know, neither will happen. Ergo, we live with the law we have. Or we are all free to emigrate to another country that may have a constitutional and legal system we prefer.

      I’ve always kind of liked the pro-choice slogan – Don’t like abortion; don’t have one. Don’t like guns; don’t buy one.

  17. larryg Avatar

    TMT – when did the SCOTUS define what is “arms” and what is not?

    who decided that you can have a 15-round Glock but not a RPG?

    and who decided who could have and who could not have guns ?

    and how come the SCOTUS has not ruled as unconstitutional the restriction of gun ownership in cities?

    I’m not that big on outlawing guns but I do think some reasonable restrictions are called for and we already have restrictions that apparently are Constitutional. I cannot go buy whatever “arms” I want to buy that are clearly available on the world markets. Does that mean my right to “bear arms” is being unconstitutionally restricted?

  18. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    District of Columbia v. Heller said that the right to bear arms is a personal right. McDonald v. Chicago held the 2nd Amendment binds states and their subdivisions. (Larry, your understanding that cities can restrict gun ownership is incorrect. That’s what McDonald held – they cannot.) Like most rights (you cannot yell “Fire in a theater”), reasonable regulation to serve a compelling government interest is permitted. As I read the law, what constitutes reasonable regulation is muddy, but it cannot amount to an effective ban on the right to own and bear arms.

    Its roots are in the 1689 Bill of Rights in which Parliament prohibited the disarming of the population. At the risk of being incorrect for over-simplification, a person has a basic right to own firearms that are not unlike those owned at the time the Bill of Rights were adopted, such as pistols and long arms, but not restricted to the technology of the times.

    And the right protects more than the rights to go hunting or self defense. Many of the Founders stated that the public has the right to be armed against government oppression.

    1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      So the government can effectively regulate the second amendment to its own compelling interest, but the second amendment exists to protect against the government.

      Thanks for clearing that up.

  19. larryg Avatar

    TMT – are you saying that David Gregory did not break the law?


    you did not answer the question as to what constitutes “arms”?

    do we already restrict “arms”?

    what keeps me from carrying a fully-automatic AR-15 into a WalMart?

    is restricting my right to do that – un-Constitutional?

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      No, Larry, what I am saying is that the federal government, states and local government cannot lawfully prohibit a person from owning pistols and long-arms generally. Whether a specific regulation is lawful is a different question and must be examined on a case-by-case basis.

      The Heller case struck down D.C.’s total ban on handgun possession in the home because it amounted to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly chose for the lawful purpose of self-defense, and thus violated the Second Amendment (note Heller did not want to own a 50-cal machine gun or a rocket launcher); and (2) D.C.’s requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be “disassembled or bound by a trigger lock also violated the Second Amendment, because the law made it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.” McDonald held that the Second Amendment applied to the states.

      The Court rejected the argument that the Second Amendment represented a state right, rather than a personal right and that the Amendment went further than a right to hunt or a right to self-protection but was also necessary to the Nation’s system of ordered liberty.” Just as it was unacceptable for James II to attempt to disarm all Protestants, it’s unconstitutional for the federal or state government to disarm all blacks or people who live in Fairfax County or Lutherans. Blacks, Fairfax County residents and Lutherans all have a basic right to keep and bear arms.

      I understand that federal law prohibits the manufacture or ownership of all automatic firearms, except for those that are grandfathered. I believe this regulation has been upheld. So you cannot take an automatic AR-15 into WalMart.

      But federal law does not ban all semi-automatics. Whether you can take a semi-automatic into WalMart depends on whether you are allowed to own arms (I trust you are not a felon), state and local law (open and closed carry), as well as WalMart’s policy.

    2. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      I appreciate the Socratic approach you’re taking here, but it’s just going to lead to a figure eight as the answers weave between “the immutable and unquestionable SCOTUS decided that guns were a personal right that the government can resonably restrict” and “gun rights are about arming citizens against government oppression.” For flavor, the notion that disagreeing with a SCOTUS decision means you wish to live as Mad Max will be thrown in.

      That’s because conservatives have no consistent approach to the second amendment because it’s more important to them as a sigil than an actual piece of law intended to advise governance.

      Over the years of observing the debate I’ve pieced together the conservative approach to the second amendment is as follows:

      – No restrictions on firearms that could seriously hurt the gun industry’s profits shall be found to be Constitutional.

      – The second amendment is about personal safety and defense until some lunatic decides to amass an arsenal to kill a bunch of school children or church goers at which point…

      – It’s really about protecting ourselves by being able to fight back against the government, except…

      – For any firearms and tools that might actually be effective against highly trained, heavily armored governmental personnel because…

      – Black people are citizens now, too and we can’t have them actually using these weapons to fight back against government agents who come into their communities and choke their business owners to death, which is why…

      – Even though Ohio is an open-carry state the police were right to shoot John Crawford and Tamir Rice because they had toy guns which are still like guns so the officer perceived them as a threat, but…

      – White people marching around political rallies with guns drawn better not be harassed because they’ve got second amendment freedoms buddy, and those guys palling around with Cliven Bundy who aimed at federal officers were well within their rights to protect themselves against governmental overreach, which basically means…

      – Paying taxes they disagree with.

      You want a more consistent approach, here’s one from a liberal:

      – well-regulated means well trained so gun ownership is inherently restricted to people willing to become proficient in the firing, transporting and storage of firearms. You want to take the time out to train with your weapon, learn to take care of it and store it without fear of theft, congratulations you get to own a gun. If you are not willing to go down to your local National Guard unit, register the weapon you wish to ttain on, display competency with its firing, cleaning and carrying then you aren’t serious about your requirements as a citizen and you can come down and train with the weapons on site at the National Guard armory until such a time as you are to be trusted with a killing machine. Oh, and if your weapon gets stolen because you failed to properly secure it, guess what: we will happily reimburse you for these confiscated weapons and we invite you to come down to the local National Guard unit with proof of purchase of a safe at your soonest convenience.

  20. Lionel Hutz Avatar
    Lionel Hutz

    My father was a criminal defense lawyer in a non-death penalty state. When it came to high profile cases, he was fond of saying “Big cases make bad law.” Such it is here. This particular case is not representative of the usual death penalty case in America. There is effectively no question that Roof committed the acts, act us rheus is not in question. The defense, such as one can be mounted, can only argue that some sort of diminished capacity, lack of men’s rea, precludes Roof from being “guilty” under the law. Which is as it should be, but makes this case an outlier and not representative of the vast majority of murder trials, rare is the instance where the basic question “did he do it?” is not in dispute. As such, however, it bears little weight on the day-to-day death penalty case where such a question is very much in dispute and the race of the victim (if white) and/or the race of the accused (if black) has been shown in every detailed study of the death penalty’s imposition to be a significant determinant.

    Roof is, unquestionably, a monster, one who “deserves” to die as his actions are so far beyond reprehensible as to make a mockery of the word. But he is also representative of nothing but the evil that lurks in some people, not of the “normal” of criminal justice in this country. Would that all murder cases were this easy, then decisions could be made free from the doubt and uncertainty that pervades any human endeavor; alas, that is not the case, and as a result, right now it is a virtual certainty that somewhere in America, an innocent man sits on death row. Trying to shoehorn this case in as support for an already-held belief is the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Interesting remarks from the perspective of the criminal defense side.

    2. Lionel Hutz Avatar
      Lionel Hutz

      Freaking auto-correct! Should be *actus reus and *mens rea. I didn’t learn these otherwise useless Latin terms just for them to be spelled wrong when they’re actually applicable!

  21. larryg Avatar

    ” That’s because conservatives have no consistent approach to the second amendment because it’s more important to them as a sigil than an actual piece of law intended to advise governance.”

    that’s an important and salient point. Governance by arbitrary rule is not governance… but increasingly it seems to be the method of many Conservatives even as they claim the “Constitution” guides them.

    in the end :

    1. – guns ARE restricted – that’s a plain fact
    2. – what can be restricted or not – is not agreed to as a consistent approach.

    it’s basically how many rounds in a clip verses clip or not. It’s a semi-auto AR-15 but not an auto AR-15.

    what I ask is where did these rules come from and why are these restrictions considered “reasonable” but others “not”?

    so .. in the end – it’s perfectly legal for a mentally-ill person to buy and own a deadly weapon and only after he kills many people do we stop to cluck our tongues about “evil”.

    we’re messed up big time.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry, it’s my understanding that the difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic is that the former fires multiple rounds when the trigger is pulled until it is released or the firearm runs out of ammunition. A semi-automatic fires one round for each trigger pull, but loads the next round automatically.

      I’d propose a better statement would be guns are regulated.

      Interestingly, I was watching CNN last evening when a former associate director of the FBI was interviewed on guns. He opined that, in order to get guns out of the hands of bad guys, we need aggressive street policing – the very kind we are all questioning now. It seemed the reporter was a bit flustered as she was looking at getting guns out of the hands of ordinary people and didn’t seemed interested in the illegal gun sales and thefts on our streets.

      1. larryg Avatar

        re: policing – there are lots of different ways to police – effectively -without beating the tar out of unarmed folks and killing others.

        Do you think that police are actually going to attempt to physically run down a guy with a gun to start with? it don’t work like that TMT. The police KNOW and they stay back and call in the troops… more bad advice for those who would mislead others.

  22. “Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming it’s not an individual right or that it’s too much of a public safety hazard, don’t see the danger in the big picture. They’re courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don’t like.”
    ― Alan M. Dershowitz

    Dershowitz is hardly a right winger or a gun nut. In fact, he strongly opposes the second amendment and works to have it repealed. That’s exactly the approach that should be taken. The second amendment should be rewritten or repealed.

    As for the death penalty … no way, not even in this case. How can a conservative like Jim Bacon who opposes government over-reach allow that same government to commit the supreme over-reach of intentionally ending a person’s life?

    What happened at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church was horrible. However, the bibles that were being studied there have a commandment which reads, “Thou shalt not kill.” There are no asterisks or footnotes on that commandment. There is no exception for government – sponsored killing.

    Put the bastard in jail and throw away the key.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Don, I respect your opposition to the death penalty. But the Bible also says:

      Genesis 9:6 – Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
      Leviticus 24:17-22 – And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. (Read More…)
      Exodus 21:12 – He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
      Leviticus 24:17 – And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.

      King James Version

  23. larryg Avatar

    The thing I’ve noticed about the political right and religion is.. that religion iswhat they want it to be – they’ll find the appropriate Psalm to justify it even if there appears to be a conflict.

    They sit in church on Sunday’s then everything learned and discussed is out the window on Monday when politics resume.

    no abortions but no birth control either

    those in need become parasites and takers

    poverty is the fault of those in poverty…

    however .. doing a little look up: ” The imperative is against unlawful killing resulting in bloodguilt.[2] The Hebrew Bible contains numerous prohibitions against unlawful killing, but also allows for justified killing in the context of warfare, capital punishment, and self-defense.”

    However the King James Bible seems to have no such escape clause.

    and no shortage of these guys:


  24. wesghent Avatar

    Certain champions of a narrow Southern history continue to insist that the Confederate stars and bars be prominently displayed — from the South Carolina capitol this very week, to the woods near I-95, somewhere south of Richmond (see past newspaper reports).
    A suggestion is, let’s make a sacrifice: Let’s forget that fluttering remnant of Southern pride and show the world that we can stop insisting on saluting a lost cause and instead become racially sensitive Americans, showing compassion for black people, and treating them as part of the Creator’s family — just as we want to be treated.
    Otherwise, our words of sympathy and condolence will be just words, and we will not have made any sacrifice. In practice, most belief systems include surrendering something tangible to show good faith. In history and myth, such sacrifices have led to reconciliation and human progress. The members of Emanuel AME Church know this principle: that’s one reason many of them have openly forgiven the white man who shot and killed their brothers and sisters at a prayer meeting.
    Those members of Emanuel Church know to whom vengeance belongs, and that it’s not up to us mortals to judge. But making a sacrifice is within our control. Such personal acts become symbols of our civilization, as well as for many, emblems of our religious conviction.
    To take down the Confederate flag (both visibly and symbolically) would send a potentially heart-changing message — all across America and around the world. It is a sacrifice worth considering, both public and private.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      My understanding is that the Confederate flag was removed from the SC state capitol building several years ago and now flies over a monument to the Confederate dead. I don’t see why any state should fly any flags except of the United States and the State over its capital or governor’s mansion. This is the U.S. and we have one flag.

      I’m not sure how I feel about flying another flag over a war memorial or memorial to the dead. The American Battle Monuments Commission flies the American flag over a number of cemeteries around the world, including one in Mexico City. Some argue the “Mexican War” was one of expansion and aggression. Should we fly the American Flag at war memorial in Mexico? How about the Philippines? After the Spanish-American War, Filipino nationals fought the United States Army for a number of years to expel us, but were defeated and we operated the county as a colony. At the Western Naval Task Force Marker in Morocco? The British are working with the U.S. government to construct a memorial to the “invading” British troops who fought at the Battle of New Orleans. Should the Union Jack be permitted to fly over the memorial? What principles inform our decisions?

      1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

        Holy false equivalencies, Batman! Because we’ve left vestiges of our imperialism in countries without the wherewithal to kick us out (I notice the list doesn’t include any sites in Germany or Japan) that means we have to wring our hands about the propriety of ridding ourselves of racist iconography that stands as a symbol of racism and terror to a large portion of American citizens!

  25. larryg Avatar

    what principles? well you listen to your own citizens in your own country who happen to be black – for a start and don’t get that flag part with different nations flying different flags for different occasions tangled up as if it’s the same issue.

    we keep fooling ourselves about the extent of race in our society. We have a ton of “deniers” who just refuse to accept the reality that we still have racism and blacks are very much aware of it .. they KNOW what the Confederate Flag REALLY means at the same time we have white folks running around totally clueless about what it means….

  26. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Larry, your arguments get sillier and sillier. I think states and their subdivisions should stop flying the Confederate flag over public buildings and remove it from any state or local flags.

    Are you arguing that Confederate battle flags in museums should be destroyed? Should we tear down statutes of southern soldiers in public squares? Stop teaching about the Civil War with any perspective from the South? Desecrate the gravestones of Rebel soldiers buried in Arlington Cemetery? I have an old video tape that contains an interview with a old black man who was a member of the UCV. Should it go into the trash? I’d rather keep it and continue to ponder why he was a member. I ponder that just like I wonder how my grandfather told my dad he had nothing against the Germans who gassed him. They were just men doing their job.

    Where should we draw the line? No one is arguing to fly the Confederate flag over public buildings. Or at least I’m not. Your arguments lately have been based on nothing but emotion. Unless you are proposing to destroy everything related to the Confederacy – including the Capitol of Virginia since it served as the Capitol of the Confederacy – you need to have some principles or rules. What’s the difference between destroying every vestige of Confederate history and what the Taliban did to the stone statutes? But you don’t want to have a civil discussion of how we treat a part of American history and upon which reasonable people can disagree. I’d truly like to know where you think we should draw the line?

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Too Many Taxes:

      Another variation on the same theme can be found at:


    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Another reference in first article is to PopeHat who opines:

      “Totally cool with banning the Confederate flag as long as we can put t-shirted Che douchesters into concentration camps.”

    3. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Here’s another, one that has much to recommend it, I believe:


    4. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      Gosh, I don’t want to be like the Taliban! Of course, they’re destroying religious works and last I checked I doubt you think the Confederate sympathisers constitute a religion.

      The correct analog is Germany and that country’s anti-Nazi laws. No one over there worries about “But will we have to bury Berlin?!” because they understand that Berlin existed before and for other purposes than Nazi power.

      That flag belongs in a museum, those streets and schools deserve different names, and I wouldn’t shed a tear if those statues all came crumbling down.

      Reasonable people don’t disagree because reasonable people don’t think starting a war to keep other humans in bondage is a cause that needs celebration.

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