April 04, 2007

Newt Doesn't Get It

Last week on the Hugh Hewitt Show Newt Gingrich answered a few Right to arms related questions. A caveat: Hewitt is not very knowledgeable on the mechanics of the Right to arms. I think he has a general idea of the theory & supports it to some extent but I wouldn't say he's adamant about the issue, so Hugh didn't ask any follow up questions that could have clarified Newt's views. I'm going with what Newt said but it's possible that his views may be slightly different than what they seem. No way to tell unless there is some follow up to his statements. So I'm relying on only what he said in his interview with Hewitt & what I think his answers imply.

HH: "...Do you support allowing individuals to own those weapons labeled assault weapons under that law?"

NG: "Well, if you remember, there are a number of weapons under that law that are not assault weapons, and the law the way it was written in the Clinton administration is an absurdity. And I think people proved that at the time. And I voted against the law, and in fact, I helped stop it at one point."

Note that he says a number of weapons that were covered by the ban aren't "assault weapons" & that it was written poorly. The first is partially true but I'd have argued that all the weapons covered by the ban were not "assault weapons" as it was a contrived term to facilitate that specific law. The second - well it was written absurdly, but the premise was the absurdity more so than the language, which Newt seemed to imply the latter in his statement.

But he did vote against it before he voted against it so that's a point to his credit.

HH: "And so how would you…what weapons ought Americans not be allowed to own under the 2nd Amendment."

NG: "Look, I think we ought to draw a clear distinction about a whole range of weapons that are explicitly military, and I have no interest in arguing or defending the right of people to randomly hold weapons that are that extraordinary, except under very, very unique circumstances."

A huh. Basically Newt is saying that he has no clue what the 2nd amendment was about. I do wonder what he would define as extraordinary.

HH: "All right, so basically, return the right for some of these higher caliber weapons, but keep the military weapons away from."

NG: "Right. I just think, you know, if you said to me would I feel comfortable if my next door neighbor had a 50 caliber machine gun, I would say no."

HH: "Yeah."

I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable if my next door neighbor had a radio talk show, or a congressional seat, or a presidential campaign, but does that mean we throw the weight of the law against those people even though they've done no harm to anyone? Of course what would be funny is if one of his neighbors did own a belt fed .50 (since Newt lives in Virginia & Virginia doesn't restrict automatic weapons as long as they're possessed in compliance with federal law).

Luckily for Hugh Cali doesn't allow folks to own items that the 2nd amendment had in mind, so any automatics in his neighborhood are owned either by the LAPD or criminals (that was redundant wasn't it?).

But Hugh & Newt seem to be in agreement that arms designed for martial use shouldn't be owned by mere civilians.

NG: "And I realize that for a purist, that probably means I’m a squishy on the 2nd Amendment. But I do think there’s a line of practicality here. I’m also not very much in favor of them buying M-1 tanks just because it amuses them."

I'm not in favor of politicians doing anything for their own amusement on their own time, but again would it be proper to craft laws to stop them?

& tanks - what the hell is it about the Hugh Hewitt show that always involves tanks? Maybe it's a corollary to Godwin's law - on the Hugh Hewitt show if any discussion of the 2nd amendment continues for more than 45 seconds someone will mention tanks.

From what it seems Newt supports the 2nd amendment, but only to a certain point. When martial arms are involved he gets uncomfy. I'm not real clear on where he'll draw the line - whether it's just belt fed .50's or perhaps something more common - but it's clear he has a line.

As I said I'd love to get some clarity on his answers, but A: Hugh isn't very knowledgeable about the mechanics involved B: doesn't seem to be enchanted with the actual purpose of the 2nd amendment & C: seems to reserve the hostile witness treatment for principled conservatives.

Then again Hugh is a Romney supporter who'd probably also back Giuliani if Romney lost the primary to him.

It may be a generalization but I'm gonna roll with it for a while - it's hard for me to believe someone seriously supports the Right to arms if they back Romney, Giuliani, McCain, Thompson, Hillary, Obama, Edwards & possibly Newt.

Yes; Newt voted against the AWB but it seems the problem he has is in the basic underlying theory of the 2nd amendment - that every citizen be capable of defending against a soldier or cop bent on carrying out tyrannical directives. unless that is corrected he will be an unpredictable ally of ours, though the Fuddites would have a sure friend.

Again I'd like a follow up session on Newt's answers but I don't think Hewitt has the desire or capability of doing so.

Posted by Publicola at April 4, 2007 04:52 AM | TrackBack

HH is a smart man, and he runs a fine show, but he is is a classic country club Republican. He is so wedded to being a "Moderate", and moderation in the party, that he reacts more hostilly to the hard core right than he does against the Moonbat left.

On the 2nd Amendment I fear this time out we will have no champion running. Rudi is rabidly anti gun, regardless of what he says (I lived in NYC all my life until 1997). He believes that the state should have a monopoly on the use of violence. Mit is at best neutral on gun rights ( I have lived in Ma since 1997). WE may have to go with the lesser of the evils we are presented with.

One point I must take exception with. The 2nd Amendment is not so that the citizen be capable of defending against a single soldier or cop acting illegally; in that case you follow their instructions and go up the chain of command (complaints, law suits), to seek redress. The second Amendment is if the government becomes tyranical and acts outside the limits of the constitution. (Maybe I misinterpretted your comment, but I think it is important to be clear on this point)>

Posted by: KevinD at April 4, 2007 07:59 AM

Unfortunately most politicans know squat about weapons, and then write meaningless 'feel good' laws to show the public their concern for 'public safety'. BTW, nice looking M1 ya got there. Although as a purist, I'd get rid of that ugly recoil pad. :o)

Posted by: GarandFan at April 4, 2007 08:02 AM

Well I support the 2d Amendment and I could support any one of those guys. No one is going to get elected saying that tanks should be unregulated, simple as that.

Posted by: Osvaldo Mandias at April 4, 2007 08:19 AM

I heard the interview live. I don't know how we could come to any other conclusion other than the main one posted here, that Hugh and Newt are to some as yet undefined degree indifferent to the 2nd Amendment,and due to this mindset, neither are well versed in why it was written and what the Founders intended.

I listen to Hugh quite frequently, and I've never heard him interview John Lott, Wayne Lapierre, Sandy Frommer or anyone else of that type. That doesn't mean that he never has, of course, as I don't have time for the full 3 hour stint.

Hugh's focus is on other things as most listeners should know. Unfortunately, he and the leading Republican candidates overlook the importance of NRA, GOA and other similar friendlies to the overall Republican cause. The mistake we risk making is in assuming that Hugh, Newt and others are irredeemable. They are indifferent, not hostile. A concerted effort to get their attention might yield a better result.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at April 4, 2007 08:55 AM

Hugh is, as "KevinD" implies, something of a fanatical "moderate". Moderation that, paradoxically, HH carries to the extreme in the name of winning. HH's blind support of the Harriet Miers nomination comes to mind as a sample of his work product. That said, Hugh, like so many "moderates", often fails to realize that the Second Amendment, in the political, philosophical and practical final analysis, is ultimately the Constitutions Army and was intended to be so by the Founding Fathers.

Posted by: C. Norris at April 4, 2007 08:56 AM

Boy am I glad I clicked on the "Thompson" link. I at first thought you were referring to Fred Thompson and I was really scratching my head. I don't think we have to worry about Tommy Thompson going very far and I really don't see any of the GOP candidates picking him as VP.

I am supporting one of the lesser candidates - one who has a pro-gun record - Jim Gilmore (www.gilmoreforpresident.com). He currently is getting less attention than Sam Brownback but I tend to think Rush is on to something when he said he doubts today's frontrunners will be in that position come February of 2008. Gilmore has a real uphill battle but he has my support.

Posted by: vasportsman at April 4, 2007 09:32 AM

Frank Herbert's novel Dune features one of many families that have acquired its own nuclear weapons (called 'family atomics'). In the Padishah Empire, each family that owns nukes also rules its own world. This would be the logical outcome of an unfettered 2nd Amendment, if we weren't all stuck together on the same planet. (Of course, if you consider Americans a 'family', that's exactly what we've done: we have our own nukes and we 'rule' the world...after a fashion). Our real problem is how we protect ourselves from ourselves. Normally we do this through the rule of law, but how much personal firepower do we need as a back up? Since we can't have our own individual worlds, maybe we should draw the line somewhere between a tank in every garage and a nuke in every suitcase...

Posted by: jpudewell at April 4, 2007 10:48 AM

What is the case against Romney? My older bro (NRA lifetime member) usually screens candidates for office based on the NRA's material and he felt Romney was acceptable. I think Romney got a B.

I actually think this can be applied to a lot of issues, but do we need to have someone in the presidency who actively pushes to change current legislation or someone who will veto bills that my restrict are freedoms.

Personally for me - I prefer somone who will veto stupid legislation (such as AWB) and appoint judges that take a strict originalist intrepretation to the constition. Presidents can push through what 3 or 4 majore legislative initiatives in 4 years or 5 or 6 in 8 years? Also the choice of a VP who is a current or former legislature may be a more effective avenue to influencing legislation. For example would you support a Romney/F. Thompson ticket?

Anyways - Hugh is a big tent Republican because he believes there is wiggle room within the Republican party on most issues and that party orthodoxy is critical only on a few central issues like on the nat'l security and the judges. I'd posit that Hewitt's preffered judicial nominees math up quite well with the NRAs. And since the 2nd ammendment is a constitutional issue not purely legislative: judges, not legislation, are more important.

Thanks for the interesting and well constructed post.

Posted by: Brendan at April 4, 2007 11:01 AM

Yes, Gingrich and Hewitt did duck the central issue.

But then so did you and every commenter above.

A-bomb plans can be had off the Internet.

Do you want it legal for all of your neighbors' high school sons to build and own them?

If not where would YOU draw the line?

Posted by: Tom Paine at April 4, 2007 11:16 AM

Is this really the Hoo Hoo Hewitt blog? Boy is that turd a radio-star wannabe these days. Just wanted to let you know Hoo Hoo that you don't have much of an audience anymore, what with your knee-jerk, Kool-aid drinking ideology. John and Ken were mentioning you yesterday. They've pretty much buried you, Shitved, and Weiner and all the other losers on puny KRLA. Have a nice day Hoo Hoo.


Posted by: Kurt Yusuf at April 4, 2007 11:37 AM

"If not where would YOU draw the line?" (Tom Paine).

At any weapon that required more than one individual to operate, carry and maintain, Tom Paine. Machine guns require an operator and an ammo bearer, and nuclear weapons require leagues of personel to assemble, deploy and operate. I think the "nuke" interpretation of the RKBA is a red herring, on both sides. These are all "Crew Served Weapons" and do not address the issues at hand. The issue at hand is the "fundamental right" and not it's speculative inclusions or exclusions. The arms that a man can wield under his own power are "fundamental" to the right protected by the 2nd Amendment. Interpretations that allow only Muskets and flintlocks, as argued by the left, and opinions permitting tanks, Howitzers and nukes on the right, are nothing more than the fatuous chatter of the thoughtless. The 2A is not about hunting. It's not about flintlocks and atomic bombs either.

Posted by: C. Norris at April 4, 2007 12:11 PM

Where to begin?

I meant an individual must be armed against a soldier bent on tyranny that was decreed by his superiors. Although I'd also argue that a cop acting unconstitutionally should be resisted by force IF he is using force or the threat of same to accomplish his ends. A no-knock raid with a shaky warrant comes to mind as a prime example. I don't care who you are - you bust down my door in the middle of the night you will be repelled to the best of my ability.

The NRA is not a great way to determine a candidate's stance on the 2nd amendment. Their rating system is much more political than ideological. Gun Owners of America is usually more accurate. But Romney supported an expansion of Mass. "assault weapons" ban among other things, which make anything higher than a D rating from the NRA unrealistic of them.

I would point out that during & after the War for Independence private cannon & privately owned men of war were both legal & existent. That being said I'd be fine drawing the line at crew served weapons heavier than belt fed machine guns (since an individual can operate a belt fed).

The recoil pad on the Garand is there for length of pull. The Garand stock is a little shorter than ideal for me with the issue buttplate. A pretty Garand is one that I can shoot well, so... :)

The 2nd being a judicial issue is what concerns me about Newt's (& Hugh's) position. If we look at things form an originalist viewpoint then most gun control laws we have are unconstitutional. However if we start talking about tanks & that a line must be drawn, etc.. then we murk up the principle a bit. If through a rational exchange it can be concluded that tanks are protected instruments under the 2nd amendment & that's undesirable then the answer is to change the amendment, not try to judicially (or legislatively) redefine its scope.

& A- boms & other nukes. Sigh. lol Really it's much more difficult to keep a nuke safely than it appears on TV. with that in mind I could rationalize that the risks of it being dormant outweigh any benefits of private possession. Although they're not that easy or cheap to build so I think the market would self limit that to any appreciable degree. But nukes (because of the radioactivity) are unique & the logic used there does not apply to more conventional weapons. Although I think the purpose & intent of the second would be served as long as arms wielded by an individual (including belt fed machine guns) were available unrestricted to the people. But that's a more lengthy & involved topic that I should try to post on sometime.

Posted by: Publicola at April 4, 2007 12:36 PM

Publicola, you're right about the scope of the 2nd Amendment and you're also right about the only legitimate way to limit it (if you really must). I came to the same conclusions a few years ago in law school, after I researched the definition of "arms" in depth for a firearms law class.

Posted by: The Puddle Pirate at April 4, 2007 02:27 PM

Newt my boy you know your history and econimics, but not a damn thing about firearms and the 2nd Amendment.

So as daddy would put it, If ya don't know whay ya talk'in about, then don't talk 'bout it.

Yeah, daddy was the last of the "country lawyers" in my opinion.

Posted by: Michael at April 4, 2007 02:52 PM

I have to admit that I was a bit dismayed by these answers. The criminals have automatic weapons. When the EMP bomb goes off and the lights go out, how is a population with .22 rifles going to fare against AKs?

Also a suggestion for your post: you may want to distinguish Fred Thompson from Tommy. I would be very interested in hearing Fred Thompson's opinion on this issue.

Keep up the great work! Am taking my Texas "Carry"
Course this month!

Posted by: Discerning Texan at April 4, 2007 10:25 PM

I'm getting mailings from Brownback. Correct me if I am wrong. Wasn't Brownback one of the guys who sided AGAINST General Petreus's strategy to increase troop levels in Baghdad? Isn't this strategy--as nascent though it may be--seeming to bear some undeniable successes? Anyway, this is why I have not been willing to give a dime to Brownback, so far.

Posted by: Chuck at April 5, 2007 01:23 AM

(sigh)...It never ceases to amaze me that my comments pertaining to the "fundamental" rights protected by the Second Amendment are so often taken as being a top limit, rather than a basic minimum to prevent any local, state or federal authority from reducing without violating the Constitution.

Right now, many state legislatures are in the process of successfully diluting the 2nd. Amendment by passing laws that would be considered "chilling" were they directed at other amendments in the BOR. The legislature of California has gutted the 2A, just as the legislature of Pennsylvania is preparing to do the same. The Second Amendment is not being subverted by state and federal limitations on the personal possession of a M240SAW machine guns, but on such basics as taxes and registration on ammunition and its components, "drop-test" safety requirements on well made firearms, "ballistic engraving" on firing pins, eliminating lead bullets because animals eat them. In short, it seems that way too many RKBA'rs are more concerned about their machine gun rights than their minimum basic right to purchase, keep and shoot a weapon such as graces the top of this web page. I consider a .30cal, semi-auto long gun (minimum 6rds), a pump or double-Barrel shotgun, a .30+ caliber sidearm, semi-auto or revolver (minimum 6rds), AND their respective ammunitions, to be the minimum of the "arms" protected by the 2A and not the maximum. Above that minimum, the Brady campaign and the NRA can be locked in eternal conflict.

As for me, personally, an Ohio-Class Trident Nuclear Sub, with 24 tubes of 8 warheads each (192 atom bombs), might be desirable, but I'd have to hire a secretary of state and an ambassador to the UN because that sub, by itself, would be the fourth most powerful country on the face of the earth. I don't want to join the UN.

Posted by: C. Norris at April 5, 2007 10:31 AM