Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Discomfort of Supporting Other People's Right to Act Stupidly

I spent at least a week being made uncomfortable about this issue, and I could easily have let it slide right by without comment.

First, the hat-tip to Mike W. at Another Gun Blog for covering it, even though a lot of what I write here will probably severely anger him.

Let's start here:

This is soccer mom Melanie Hain, obviously photographed at a five-year-old game, proudly wearing her Glock 26:

Hain has a PA permit to carry a concealed weapon, but on September 11 at Southwest Park in Lebanon PA she was carrying the piece openly, which I need to state clearly at the outset is completely legal.

According to the Lebanon Daily News, Hain was unprepared for the complaints that followed:

“I’m just a soccer mom who has always openly carried (a firearm), and I’ve never had a problem before,” she said. “I don’t understand why this is happening to me."

What happened was this:

Parents were upset by the presence of the weapon at the game being played by 4- and 5-year-olds, said Charlie Jones, who coaches one of three under-age-6 teams, known as U6, in the Lebanon Recreation Youth Soccer program.

“More than one parent was upset,” he said. “I did not see it, but it was brought to my attention.”

Jones, who is also the county’s public defender, said he wasn’t certain if Hain was breaking the law by wearing the gun, so he did not ask her to remove it. However, he explained to her that its presence was making parents upset and asked her to view the game from the other side of the field, away from the sideline were the kids were standing. She complied but continued to wear her holstered weapon, he said.

There was no confrontation, and police were not called to the park, Jones said.

Hain’s version of events is roughly the same as Jones’. However, she claims he raised his voice and talked over her when they spoke after the game. He denies that.

“His basic message to me was that if I was not carrying it because I was concerned about the other parents, then I should leave it off the field and keep it in the car,” she said.

Of course, that wasn't the end of it:

The end of the game was not the end of the incident for Hain. In the days following, she received two notices about her decision to wear a firearm at the game.

The first came from the Lebanon soccer-program director, Nigel Foundling, who had been contacted by Jones.

A former district judge from Jonestown, Foundling sent an e-mail to Hain the day after the incident advising her that carrying firearms was against the program’s policy. Foundling told Hain any future attempts to do so would cause her to be banned from attending her daughter’s games. He also said he would inform police about the matter.

“A responsible adult would realize that such behavior has no place at a soccer game,” Foundling wrote....

A few days after receiving Foundling’s e-mail, Hain received a letter from county Sheriff Mike DeLeo, the local authority in charge of issuing gun licenses. A parent of another child contacted him about Hain.

In response, DeLeo revoked her concealed-weapons permit under a statute of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act that denies permits to any “individual whose character and reputation is such that the individual would be likely to act in a dangerous manner to public safety.”

Although DeLeo has never met Hain and does not know her, he based his decision on what he considered a lack of judgment in bringing an openly worn weapon to a youth soccer match.

“That is my personal opinion,” he said. “I believe that, and that is why I revoked her permit. She has the right to pursue an appeal, and if the court rules that I was not justified I will be required to give her permit back.”

Magee [Hain's attorney] said he is preparing to file an appeal.

“There is a provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution that specifically prohibits any government agency from interfering with the right of an individual to openly carry a firearm,” he said. “He’s basically punishing her for doing something she is permitted by law to do.”

DeLeo said he was well aware of the irony that his revocation of Hain’s permit to conceal a weapon will actually force her to wear it openly if she chooses to carry her firearm. He said he wanted to bring the matter to the public’s attention, but he did not have the right to take away her gun, so revoking the permit was his only option.

“I felt some action was needed, and I do believe that something like this should be brought to the public’s attention so the public is aware of what took place,” he said. “The public has the right to complain about the issue, and if the Legislature wants to do something, then so be it.”

This case has drawn considerable attention in the gun blogs and bulletin boards, which you can access if you're interested through Mike W.'s blog, but Mike sums up the feelings expressed there pretty succinctly:

Absolutely stunning logic there huh? Some pants shitter complains about open carry, so they revoke her concealed carry permit, thereby requiring that she open carry from now on.

She should continue to open carry at the soccer games. If the league complains she should hand them copies of the letter she received from the sheriff and explain to them that she now must carry openly because of the revocation.

Also, can the league really "ban" her? Around here the soccer fields aren't private property, even if they are being used by a particular soccer league. I believe the ones near me are public property under the jurisdiction of New Castle County Parks & Recreation. They're certainly not owned or operated by any soccer league, and the league can't ban someone from a public park.

OK, here's the first thing you need to understand about my position: I do not advocate changing the laws to make open carry of firearms in PA illegal, and I think it was plainly illegal for law enforcement to void Hain's concealed weapon permit for not violating the law.

On the other hand, anyone who carries a pistol openly to U6 soccer games is arguably an idiot, and can legally be banned from attending games if such behavior violates league policy.

Let's unpack this:

1) Hain could have chosen to carry her Glock out of sight, but she didn't. Openly carrying the piece did not improve her level of personal security.

2) Hain in fact admitted that she wasn't carrying the piece out of any particular fear or threat, but out of habit.

3) Hain could reasonably have left the pistol in her car, with no real reduction in her personal safety and security.

Therefore, I conclude: Hain's behavior (which I emphasize again, was legal) represented a personal political statement rather than a decision based on security concerns.

Now, as to the league and the parents, who Mike W. so charitably derides as pants-shitters:

1) All of the referees and coaches in these leagues are volunteers; most are parents, but many are even teenagers. If you have ever been to these events--even at the U6 level--you will know that idiots and buffoons on the sidelines [read soccer moms, dads, and siblings] too often become abusive, intimidating, or even violent toward them. In U8 YMCA soccer and basketball in Delaware over the past year I have seen parents have to be removed for inappropriate behavior by Y officials or even arrested.

2) As a result of these overtly abusive behaviors, almost every league has enacted parental behavior policies, which parents are required to comply with as a condition of their children participating in the league. Parents know this when they sign up, and have the ultimate libertarian choice of either not signing up or starting their own league with different rules. That the league's rules may not specifically cover firearms, the intent of those policies are clear enough: behaviors that can be considered intimidating by the league coaches, referees, or officials are legitimate reasons to ask someone to leave.

3) Even if the behavior is legal, that certainly does not equate to being situationally appropriate, and the fact that other people objected to the behavior does not make them anti-gun or pants-shitters.

But, again, I need to emphasize that while the league arguably has the power to ban Hain, the law enforcement agency involved had absolutely no legal basis for suspending her concealed weapons permit.

Yet the upshot of all this is: idiotic if legal behavior by gun owners who demonstrate such poor judgment is one of the major reasons that attacks on the Second Amendment gain ground.

Being a Libertarian means that I stand up for the individual liberties of other American citizens, even when I disagree with how they choose to use those rights [as long as they are not harming anyone else].

It means I don't react to the non-harmful stupid acts of others by demanding that the rest of society be punished by new laws.

But it also doesn't mean that I give up the right to categorize and condemn idiotic or offensive behavior as idiotic or offensive, and seek to convince others that it's not a good idea.

It doesn't mean that I don't support the right of private associations like the YMCA or soccer clubs to set binding standards of behavior, and enforce them.

Sorry, Mike, as much as I support her right to carry, that right also entails responsibilities, and your shallow characterization of those who objected to her behavior is patently offensive.

She Fears Nothing may be Melanie Hain's blog handle, but maybe she should consider changing it to She's An Idiot.


Tyler Nixon said...

I don't know, Steve. Why should anyone demonstrate they are NOT a threat in some manner when they are abiding by the law?

If it is private property, sure, ask the woman to leave. As far as social group policies mandating which constitutional rights are acceptable to peaceably exercise...sounds a bit dodgy to me.

How or whether someone can freely exercise their constitutional rights should not be determined by how it makes others "feel". Unless and until it becomes an intrusion on others' constitutional rights or a breach of peace or safety, it should not be open to groupfeel repression.

No right exists in fact until it is actually freely exercised. This woman may offend others but she is hardly being offensive or irresponsible, much less a threat to the adults or the kiddies.

Steve Newton said...


Soccer clubs are private associations. You agree to their rules when you sign up. The rules almost invariably say that referees and league officials will be the sole judges of acceptable behavior.

Don't like it? Don't sign up. Start your own league.

How or whether someone can freely exercise their constitutional rights should not be determined by how it makes others "feel".

You miss my point, Tyler. I said repeatedly throughout the post that her behavior was legal and that the response of law enforcement was not.

Just because a behavior is legal doesn't mean I can't characterize it as idiotic, immoral, or any of a dozen other things, as long as I don't use my preferences to legislate away that freedom.

I have defended her right to act stupidly; I have no such obligation to defend their judgment.

Is she a threat? The private soccer associations define yelling at the referees as threatening behavior that allows them to be warned and then thrown out. You tell me how a teenage referee or coach handles it when faced with asking a person openly carrying a firearm to tone down their vocal support of their kiddies.

This woman may offend others but she is hardly being offensive or irresponsible...

Having spent nearly a decade of Saturdays watching perfectly normal looking parents morph into slavering barbarians capable of punching out referees [happened at a Sussex wrestling match last year], throwing things a child athletes [saw that happen in my Y league last fall], or just screaming curses at the top of their lungs [a routine experience in basketball leagues across the state], I will strongly defend the property rights of the people and organizations who own the leagues to mandate policies they believe maximize the safety of the participants.

Exactly how does that violate your constitutional rights?

ChrisNC said...

I don't see your point here, Steve. You say, and I agree, that a private orgaization has the right to determine the conditions for membership. However, I don't agree that they have the right to restrict access to public property. Think of it this way: by the logic of your argument, they could forbid participating parents from bearing arms at group events, but not random passersby. Which is more threatening, a parent with a visible weapon, or a stranger who merely shows up and decides to watch the game? The latter isn't subject to group rules, and is unfamiliar to anyone in the group, certainly a greater source of consternation.

I see this as an area in which the gungrabbers have been outrageously successful. They have changed the public attitude such that guns are scary, not a form of security. They have banished shooting training from the schools, so only a few hunters are accustomed to weapons. Hain's actions are exactly what are needed, to refamiliarize Americans with ubiquitous weapons. What is familiar ceases to be threatening.

Mike Stollenwerk said...

If you guys had done your homework before pontificating, you would realize than Melanie did not violate "League Rules" - the League does not have any rule or position, and as they hold events in public parks, cannot enforce rules on people in the park generally - so even assuming the League boots the child from the team, mom could still come and watch games.

The idea behind open carry is to make gun carry generally normal - that means people need to step up to the plate and open carry in public, and that means while shopping, at city council meetings, and at soccer games.

tom said...

"3) Hain could reasonably have left the pistol in her car, with no real reduction in her personal safety and security."

not true. having a weapon that is not readily available when needed is the same as being unarmed.

while the chances of this particular game being the site of the next random shooting rampage were admittedly minuscule, they were non-zero. the same goes for her chances of being mugged on her way back to the car after the game.

Even though the incident took place across the street from where my grandparents lived when I was young, I don't know any of the people involved, so I'll refrain from theorizing about their character, intelligence, or politics.

I will agree, with some reservations, that it probably may have been more appropriate in this situation for her to carry concealed.

I personally would feel more comfortable in many settings if a majority, or at least a substantial minority, of the people were openly armed. But that is extremely uncommon almost everywhere in the U.S. today. Some people have an irrational fear of guns because it unusual to see anyone but police carrying them. That wouldn't be true if they were a commonplace everyday sight.

I don't know get there from here, but I do know that I don't want to be the one who tries to start the trend. If Melanie Hain's openly carrying the gun was, as you say a political statement, she is a brave woman. Around here, instead of confronting her someone would have called the police and they would have "accidentally" shot her while removing her from the field.

"Jones, who is also the county’s public defender, said he wasn’t certain if Hain was breaking the law by wearing the gun, so he did not ask her to remove it."

Now this guy, on the other hand, is either an idiot or a liar--it's his job to know that openly carrying a gun is perfectly legal.

Steve Newton said...

Let's be clear: when I wrote this I knew it would be unpopular among libertarians.

Too bad.

I defend Ms Hain's legal right to carry concealed with a permit or openly with or without one.

I condemned the law enforcement officials for revoking her permit.

I argued that the league has a property right to ban her from games.

Chris, your point about who owns the property is around the edges: in most cases in Delaware, for example, such soccer leagues take place on YMCA property, soccer league parks that are privately owned, or on public school soccer fields. Most of your arguments do not apply there.

Even if the soccer games in PA take place in public parks, I'd argue that the league rules take precedence over the park rules.

As for the idea that the right to carry means that everybody should carry, and that we should normalize the idea of people openly carrying weapons in all venues at all times is simply something I disagree with. I'll try to convince people to agree with me; I'll ridicule or criticize people I think use poor judgment. But as I said in the post I defend absolutely their right to do so.

If you can't wrap your heads around the idea that a Libertarian can personally condemn behavior without wanting to use the power of the State to prohibit it, then maybe I'm not the one with a problem understanding the libertarian philosophy.

tom said...

"Is she a threat? The private soccer associations define yelling at the referees as threatening behavior that allows them to be warned and then thrown out. You tell me how a teenage referee or coach handles it when faced with asking a person openly carrying a firearm to tone down their vocal support of their kiddies."

The article gave absolutely no indication that she was misbehaving in any way. Given that absence, I can only conclude that she was not doing anything remotely close to threatening. Just because some people don't know how to act in public doesn't mean all parents who go to games are slobbering barbarians. Have you ever been warned or thrown out?

Steve Newton said...

No, I've never been thrown out. For truth in advertising I will admit to once having been warned by a referee when I vocally criticized a failure to call a foul when one child had actually been injured.

I portrayed her behavior as legal and non-threatening but idiotic in situational terms.

I stand by that portrayal.

Think for a minute, folks: how is it somehow non-libertarian for me to have a strong personal feeling that a behavior is inappropriate, and to criticize the individual, as long as I acknowledge it is legal and don't seek to circumscribe her rights with the power of the State?

Feel free to disagree with me on my personal interpretation all you want. I still think it is idiotic, absent real security issues, to open carry a handgun to a U6 soccer game.

Tell me, does her 2nd amendment right to carry the piece somehow trump my 1st amendment right to criticize her behavior?

tom said...

at the risk of continuing to beat this dead horse, i don't think anyone (at least in the public comments on this post) has called you non-libertarian. they just expressed their disagreement.

in the history of this blog, i think you have personally stated that you disagree with various libertarian positions more often than people have called you out for your lack of ideological purity. re-read the comments and ask yourself if you are being overly sensitive.

i already said in my first comment that i more or less agree with you that it was inappropriate in the situation in question, though not in general.

Arthur Torrey said...

While I will somewhat agree with you that the situation was one where carrying concealed might have been more discreet, I also totally agree with the other posters that say she

A. Had every right to be carrying.

B. Unless acting in a threatening way otherwise, NOBODY had a right to challenge or complain about her carrying.

C. By making the political statement that she did, was helping to dispel some of the gun-phobia that so irrationally infects many of our citizens.

I don't think she was acting at all stupidly, and wish MORE parents would have the testicular fortitude to do as she did. She is helping to change the culture, you're supporting the illness.


Steve Newton said...

I'm not sure she'd agree with you that she was displaying testicular fortitude, but that's not my point. But aside from that....

There is a difference between gun-phobia and my position here:

1) I never said she didn't have the right or that I wanted to abridge the right;

2) I said in my opinion she selected an idiotic venue for expressing that right

As for your comment NOBODY had a right to challenge or complain about her carrying, that's simply not true. I have the right to complain about the color of the shirt you choose to wear or the way you speak to your own children on the sidelines. That's a first amendment right; it's not trumped by any others.

The right to carry a weapon is absolutely protected, but it does not exempt you from criticism or differences of opinion.

You've got a point that I was overly sensitive in my reactions.

However, I knew when I wrote this that it would be controversial. In fact, I almost didn't write it. So I guess I already had my hands over my head.

But it's a tough issue for a lot of people, and I do think it was worth raising.

Big Gay Al said...

"Even if the soccer games in PA take place in public parks, I'd argue that the league rules take precedence over the park rules."
They can make all they rules they want to. On public property, my Constitutional rights out weigh their rules.

Steve Newton said...

Not if you voluntarily sign an agreement that says otherwise....

You're right--in a public park you can't be evicted, but you damn sure can be removed from the game and the league.

It's a private association: you can stand and watch, I guess, but your child won't be playing, because you signed a parental policy agreeing to abide by the league's decisions.

Pandora said...

Quick! Everyone rush to their corners. Anti-gun people start pointing out that this woman is the reason guns should be banned. Pro-gun people... you start pointing out (like Art) how her carrying a gun qualifies her for the Mother of the Year award.

This woman's behavior was inappropriate. In the same way that two adults making out on the sidelines would be inappropriate. And the idea that we don't make judgement calls when it comes to other people's behavior, attire, tattoos, smoking, etc. is ridiculous. We do it all the time.

The NRA will do itself no favors by making this woman their new poster child, but I have a feeling they'll do it anyway.

Chainsaw said...

Sheriff Mike DeLeo had no constitutional right to revoke her concealed-weapons permit based on what she would likely do.

Steve, In your opinion, where is it acceptable in public to legally, ethically, or a non-idiotic location to open or conceal carry?

The grocery store?
No, not based on your stance, too many people would shit their pants and contact the local constabulary.

The library?
Nope, more stained britches, fainting octogenarians, and PC parents dialing 911.

Stepping into the 7-11 to buy Powerball tickets?
Nope, the cashier would struggle to keep from filling his pants as he raises his 12 gauge to protect his business from the person carrying the scary looking weapon on their side.

Going into Best Buy to check out the latest technology?
Nope, more skid marks.

Indeed as Arthur Torrey stated, 'She is helping to change the culture, you're supporting the illness.'

It is very ironic that nothing has changed in this situation other than her having to carry what amounts to a permission slip that has her Glock on her side.

I myself carry what city folk would consider a deadly weapon.

It's simple lock blade knife.

I've carried it and similar ones like it on my side since I was 12 years old.

I am sure that I could pop it out and do serious damage to save a loved one, or a stranger's life with just 2 inches of the tip of the blade.

I mainly carry it as tool, but feel naked and useless on many levels without it, as I am sure that Ms. Melanie would feel without her personal protection.

I do foresee the Soccer league petitioning the city council to put up signs at the soccer field stating, 'NO ALCOHOL OR FIREARMS.'

I only hope that Ms. Melanie can draw her weapon fast enough, and has the extra clips in the event some true moron shows up wherever she may be,and takes him out before he executes innocent people just living their lives.

Would she not then be painted as a heroic woman that saved lives, or some idiot that legally and carries whether it be concealed or openly?

Where I am from, in the south, once the police are aware that you have a permit or amid application for said permit, they admire your weapon of choice and even share tips on the best prices for ammunition, the contents of their own private gun collection, and in one instance a Deputy dropped his clip out for me to hold his .45 service weapon to feel the new pistol grips he had just installed.

As long as you're a law abiding citizent it's just not a big deal, until some whining, P.C. wuss makes a stink about it.

There is more gun violence in the northern cities per capita, what's up with you Yankees?

Steve Newton said...

Thanks for reply.

You ask, Steve, In your opinion, where is it acceptable in public to legally, ethically, or a non-idiotic location to open or conceal carry?

I didn't suggest that what Ms Hain did was either illegal or unethical, so I guess I get to skip those.

I also said I had no problem with her carrying concealed.

What's the difference between open carry at the grocery store and open carry at a sporting event, even one for six year olds?

I think the difference is that at sporting events in this country we regularly see [and I can personally attest that it happens quite frequently at U6 games] people get seriously angry over nothing, where amateur volunteers are in charge of crowd control, and where I've routinely seen parents do exceptionally stupid shit when they think they are trying to handle the situation.

In that environment, as opposed to a grocery store or the post office--a competitive environment with a long, steady history of bad judgment appearing with great regularity, the open carry of piece is not a neutral act.

In that environment I don't think it's either illegal or immoral to carry openly, but I do think it is stupid, and I'd support league rules that banned it.

I do not (and have said this repeatedly in the posts and comments) think that what the sheriff did was anything but illegal.

Where we all seem to be coming to an impasse (or where I seem to have left everyone else) is that while I agree strongly and soundly that people have certain rights (including the right of open carry), I do not agree that the exercise of that right in particular situations is beyond criticism.

So the point is finding out where we diverge.

If you believe that it is always appropriate, under any conditions, to carry a piece (or any other weapon) openly, then I guess we'll just have to disagree. I have seen multiple scenarios unfold in my life where the presence of a firearm caused an otherwise fairly innocuous situation to escalate. [Yes, I know the people caused the escalation by their actions, but their potential inventory of immediate stupid actions was vastly increased by the presence of the piece).

If you agree with me, however, that there are sometimes, even though they might be exceptionally rare cases in which to carry openly would just be plain stupid, then all we are discussing here is a distinction of degree and not kind.

I want to live in a society that guarantees the right of citizens to own and carry firearms. I resist, and I continue to resist, attempts by the State to regulate that right.

However, I also want to live in a society wherein the people who do exercise that right do so with common sense and sound judgment. If I don't want to legislate that behavior, then how do I pursue that agenda?

I see two ways:

1) In situations I think such is not appropriate, especially those governed by private voluntary associations, I favor the members being able to determine what the rules will be, and having the option to enforce them by exclusion. If you don't like the rules, don't patronize the organization.

2) Put up for frank discussion and disagreement the times at which such an action might be considered inappropriate. Such disagreements I expect to be ever bit as passionate as we have been going at it here, but it's a tough discussion that I think responsible people need to have.

I think that defenders of the 2nd Amendment have become (pardon the pun) so gun-shy that any criticism of gun-related behavior was an attempt to incrementally destroy those rights.

That's obviously not what I'm doing here

Steve Newton said...

Oh, and chainsaw, I'm a Virginia-North Carolina boy.

Puh-leez don't lump me in with the damnyankees just because the fortunes of employment stranded my ass in Delaware.

Anonymous said...

No soccer league has any authority to ban somebody from attending any of their games held on public property except in cases where that person is breaking the law. (in which case they could be banned / fined / arrested regardless of what event was being held)

Mike W. said...

Thanks for the link Steve. A well articulated position, even one I disagree with isn't going to "severely anger me." Disagreement, even heated disagreement isn't anger, at least not for me.

"3) Even if the behavior is legal, that certainly does not equate to being situationally appropriate, and the fact that other people objected to the behavior does not make them anti-gun or pants-shitters."

It may not be "situationally appropriate." In fact I would not choose to OC at a kids soccer game. What makes them "pant-shitters" is the manner in which they reacted. They not only freaked out, they told her to stand on the other side of the field and she did so. But that wasn't enough, since they felt the need to pressure law enforcement into revoking her permit.

Also, it's a public park. It's not private property, so league rules or not she's well within her right to carry. Soccer games at Swift Park in Hockessin would be the same thing. Swift park is a public park.

I agree with your sentiment that it's not good judgment to carry openly at the soccer games. That said, there are many who would consider carrying ANYWHERE to be "bad judgment." Why should the feelings and irrational fears of those people prohibit someone from freely exercizing their rights?

As far as leaving the gun in the car. Bad idea. On her body is the safest place for it. It does her little good in the car and raises the chances of it being stolen.

"Think for a minute, folks: how is it somehow non-libertarian for me to have a strong personal feeling that a behavior is inappropriate, and to criticize the individual, as long as I acknowledge it is legal and don't seek to circumscribe her rights with the power of the State?"

I completely agree with you here Steve. Nothing wrong with criticizing her behavior while acknowledging her rights and the abuse of authority by the sheriff.

Steve Newton said...

For the benefit of anybody who may still be reading this--nine months or more later--I have reversed course: Chainsaw, Tyler, and Art were right and I was wrong.

Follow my change of heart and mind here:

Anonymous said...

Hahah, and now the dumb bitch is DEAD. LOL

Anonymous said...

Can't help but wonder if these kids would still have parents if there weren't guns in the home.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 26: 52 - "Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." What in God's name are we coming to? A "right" is a justification or fair claim. I have yet to hear any gun owner or second amendment proponent give any justification for citizens owning guns except that they don't have to justify anything - "my right is guaranteed by the constitution." Well, the American people are beginning to wise up. The old ways are going. We want reasons. I want reasons. Why does any American need to own a gun? Oh wait - I know the answer: if guns became illegal, then the bad people would still get the guns illegally and would shoot up all of the good people. Law-abiding citizens have the right to rpotect themselves. Another reason is based on a similar paranoia. This time it's not fear of other people, its fear of government. If the government robbed us of our rights to arm ourselves then we would have no defense against them, and they would effectively take over our lives. During the G20 conference in Pittsburgh, a guy pulled a gun on a few cops who came to serve him a Protection Against Abuse order (he was beating his wife). This caused a SWAT team to come in and get him. I understand he had a sizeable arsenal. They tear-gassed him and he shot himself. I'm sure his soul is satisfied that they had to pry his gun "from his cold, dead hands." Here's the point I'm making: if the government wanted to take over our lives, it'll do it no matter how many guns or rocket launchers the American people have. The only justifiable reason I can think of is hunting. Hunting is a long-standing tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation. I'm not kidding when I say I feel bad for these people. I feel bad that they are most likely living fairly decent lives in a rural area where hunting can be a valued outdoor pasttime. But can't we regulate ownership to only hunting rifles? Why do a small minority of people get to argue that the word "freedom" implies no limitations, when the same freedom they are arguing for infringes on the many freedoms that a majority of Americans want and deserve? Why can't my government protect my freedom to walk in a public area and not feel like a possible target to a crazy man with artillery? Could he buy a hunting rifle - sure. But any gun owner knows that a man who wants to kill a bunch of people would be incredibly limited by a standard, single round hunting rifle.

I need to know from somebody. I mean I am legitimately trying to figure out what logical reasons exist for citizens to own guns. Somebody please explain it to me. I'll try to understand.