August 20, 2004

Volokh v. Scher (& Seder?)

Prof. Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy will engage Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis in a deabte about gun cuntrol on Air America at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time. I'll try to live blog it & I'll update this post accordingly.

Updated: Wednesday 8-25-04 2:00 a.m. MDT

Okay, so far it's commercials. Looks like I tuned in early.

Ah, so the word "liberal" is a compliment even though it's used as an insult by conservatives. That among other things is what I'm listening to so you don't have to. The people on the air currently are Michael Massing (the guest) along with Janeane Garofalo & Sam Seder (who are listed as co-hosts).

Ahh, they're still talking about the 2000 election. Nice to see they don't dwell on things. Unfortunately this would mean they're running over as it's 6:24 MDT as I write this.

Ah, the right wing/conservatives are successful because they rely on emotional arguments. (Kettle? Is that you Pot?)

The Republicans & the media don't play fair? I wouldn't necessarily disagree about the latter but Miss Garofalo is using it to rationalize why the left isn't as successful. I guess I was so busy being paranoid about a left leaning/socialist bias in the media I completely missed how biased they were to the right.

Cool, they seem to be moving on - not about the election or the press' right lean, but they've said good-bye to their guest (Mr. Massing) & have gone to commercial. Hopefully that means they'll have Prof. Volokh & Mr. Scher on when they come back.

They're coming back. They're talking about how the media is failing them. I'd agree with that if they had said the press is failing everyone, but that's a slightly more complex subject than can be covered by a sound byte.

Here they come. They're introducing Prof. Volokh & Mr. Scher (actually they introduced them in reverse order).

Sam asks them about the "hubabbaloo about automatic weapons" which I assume by which he means to focus the debate on the “assault weapons” ban. His question has been corrected by Volokh.

Volokh asks “what is an assault weapon?”, & it was defined by Sam as an automatic that would be obscene for hunting. Volokh calls him on that.

Volokh is taking him to school on what the AWB covers & doesn’t cover.

Sam interrupted Volokh to ask Scher what his opinion was (though it was phrased in a way that implied Sam wanted Scher to speak the truth & correct Volokh's statements). Scher claims Volokh was half right.

Scher is saying that the AWB was cosmetic & therefore not as effective as it should have been, but that it was effective.

Sam & Scher are ganging up & Scher is saying the solution is to strengthen the ban.

Volokh is saying that the AWB is a slippery slope & explains it nicely.

Sam asks Volokh why that would be a bad thing (if more types of guns are banned).

Volokh points out that the VPC wants to ban all handguns. Scher says 80% of crimes are committed with handguns. Volokh pulls out 100,000 to 1,000,000 defensive gun uses that would be prevented by a prohibition.

Volokh speaks of unilateral disarmament - except for criminals, meaning that criminals would never be disarmed by the law.

Scher calls it an over simplification. Scher claims a first time offender gets his gun from retail outlets in the majority of cases.

Volokh disputes it, uses Prohibition as an example

Volokh asks since there are 200 to 250 million guns, 180* 80 million handguns - would a prohibition keep criminals from getting hold of those?

Scher brings up accidental deaths, Volokh points out that there are about 900 per year & that his (Scher's) point is exaggerated.

Sam asks if Volokh would mind if handguns were allowed but semi's banned. Volokh clarifies that a lot of handguns are semi-automatic.

Scher is dogging the fireams protection bill of last march as being un-American.

Volokh defends the immunity bill. Sam is bitching about the NRA cutting the ATF budget. (if that was true I might reconsider joining them)

Volokh is using the drunken driving analogy to explain why lawsuit protection is needed for the firearms industry. Sam is claiming that's what the court's are for.

Sam is saying that Volokh doesn't trust Americans on juries to do the right thing.

They're taking a break.

It seems that the debate is more between Sam & Volokh than between Volokh & Scher. I'm not impressed at all by Sam’s role - since it was billed & should be a debate between his guests. But he can't seem to help jumping in whenever he sees an opportunity to argue against Volokh's assumed position.

They're coming back.

Funny, Sam introduces it as a two sided debate. Sam should admit his bias in this & that it's actually two against one.

Volokh explains why laws should be relied on to weed out what is actionable in court.

Volokh: "…if you were injured by a lawful product made by lawful manufacturer" through someone’s criminal use then the company that made or sold the product shouldn't be liable.

Sam asks if the same sort of laws are in place for car makers. Scher says it's politically motivated.

Volokh objects. They're shouting Volokh down, claiming it's Scher's turn.

Scher is bitching about the denial of gun trace data by republicans. In effect he claims that every time the government tries to enforce the gun laws (which the “gun rights lobby” says it advocates) the gun rights lobby stops them.

Volokh answers: gun rights people are in favor of banning criminals from owning guns - if our rights were guaranteed they wouldn't be concerned about these kinds of solutions. In other words gun owners don’t trust the government to stop at less than an eventual complete prohibition.

Sam claims that demonstrates the “gun rights lobby’s” paranoia.

Volokh points out the D.C. gun ban.

Volokh offers a deal - background checks for private sales, one gun a month laws, exchange for all law abiding adults being allowed to own guns & handguns. He asks if Scher would take that.

Volokh slams the use of the term "gun rights lobby"

Volokh claims that the anti's aren't willing to compromise on disarmament therefore the gun owners aren't trusting.

Sam asks Scher if a one gun a month & background checks were offered would Scher go for a slackening on prohibitions on possession by law abiding adults.

Scher claims there should be dialogue & that reasonable gun owners want reasonable gun control.

Sam talks about federal laws which trump local statutes.. Volokh points out that federal laws in some cases do trump local laws - Sam mentions the 2000 election again.

It's over.

Volokh made some good points & to be fair he was given more time to talk than either Scher or Sam - but less time than both of them together it seems.

I disagree with Prof. Volokh on a few things but generally find him to be a thoughtful person who makes decent arguments even for the positions of his with which I disagree. He didn't do badly at all; especially considering it was two against one on this show.

Mr. Scher was - well, if you're read any VPC press releases then you wouldn't find anything new or informative about the bullshit he passed off as if it were fact. But he had a nice speaking voice.

Sam was a horrible host for a debate in my opinion. Perhaps he thought he was merely trying to keep things rolling but I feel Prof. Volokh & Mr. Scher could have engaged in a conversation without much assistance, & certainly without Sam jumping in on one or the other's side.

It seems Sam & Mr. Scher both have drunk deeply from the civilian disarmament kool-aid as it were. It was unfortunate that Sam chose to jump in when attempts were made at refuting the great taste or the health benefits from that particular flavor of poisoned beverage.

I wasn't impressed by Sam, Mr. Scher or Air America. Then again I guess I'm just part of the "gun rights lobby".

Update: Prof. Volokh has a post which he provides some references for his arguments on Air America

Update: Glen Whitman from Agoraphilia made the following observation:

"I was amused by the following juxtaposition:
(1) Within 5 minutes of the debate's opening, they were openly discussing the need to expand the assault weapons ban to include some handguns, and you had to argue against full-on gun prohibition.
(2) Toward the end of the debate, Scher called gun owners 'paranoid' for thinking that minor gun restrictions would lead to full-on gun prohibition."

Also Matt from Stop The Bleating points to the comments section of the Air America blog's post about the debate.

I left a rather lengthy comment after which one other person left a comment which was generally supportive of the Right to Arms. Since then it appears to have died.

Here's a direct link to the comments section. You'll have to scroll almost half way own before people start discussing the Volkh/Scher & Seder debate & the AWB. Even then you'll have to wade through much talk of the Swift Boat Vets Against Kerry, the 2000 election, etc. & this is fair warning that many if not most of the posts about the debate itself come to nothing more than ad hominem attacks against Prof. Volokh.

Update: Here is the audio of the debate. You'll have to jump around a little to find it but it should be roughly 44 minutes into it.

*I corrected an error: Prof. Volokh said there were 80 million handguns in America, not the 180 million I had originally wrote. Much appreciation to Prof. Volokh for pointing that out.

Posted by Publicola at August 20, 2004 06:04 PM
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