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When the Right to Bear Arms Trumps the Right to Life

Amidst the sorrow, fear and despair that I have experienced since Friday evening, anger is what has taken up most of my thoughts. Anger for each of those parents, anger for each of those students and anger for each and every one of us as we try to prevent this event from ruining our home away from home. Most of all, I am angry that our country has yet to figure it out. I am angry that so many Americans want to “protect” their right to guns when I want to protect my friends, family and loved ones from what we experienced this past weekend.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That is the Second Amendment. And do you know what came before it? The Declaration of Independence. The document that lays out the unalienable rights of each American citizen to be “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right to life is an especially important part in there. I don’t see anything in the Second Amendment about the right of a civilian to own an assault weapon or the right to stockpile over 400 rounds of ammunition. When the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, “the right to bear arms” back then meant a single-shot weapon that was loaded through the muzzle and fired by means of a flintlock, that little thing on those super old guns that creates a spark, which in turn ignites gunpowder. I don’t believe that the founding fathers had Glocks and AK-47s in mind when looking to ensure that civilians could protect themselves.

In 1996, after a decade in which 11 mass shootings occurred, the people of Australia were fed up with the lax gun regulations in their country and took action. Twelve days after 35 were killed and 23 wounded by a gunman, the conservative Prime Minister John Howard led the charge on enacting a ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons. Since then there have been zero mass shootings in Australia. Zero.

Our country is at a rate of 88.9 guns per 100 people — that’s ridiculous. Every day an average of 32 Americans are murdered with guns. Guns kept in homes are 22 times more likely to kill or injure their owner than they are to protect them. I’m not saying that our country needs to be rid of guns entirely; I understand that many people feel that they are truly safer with a gun in their home. But if there is no limit on the number of handguns you can purchase in California, how does that make sense? Why would I ever need more than one gun to protect myself? I only have two hands.

We all know that the actions of Elliot Rodger were not due to just one fault in the system. The stigma towards mental illness in our country needs to change. The unbelievable amount of misogyny that still exists in our country needs to change. Those are societal changes and they will take years to enact. But we can change one of the factors that led to the murder of six of our own right now. We can change the future. Automatic and semiautomatic weapons have no place in our homes. They are war machines; they were created to kill, not to protect. There is no reason that a civilian should have an assault weapon in their hands.

What happened on Friday was not fair. Six of our fellow classmates, friends and loved ones were taken from us. And it is going to happen again somewhere else. On another campus, in another movie theater, at another elementary school. If we don’t take action it will happen again. Richard Martinez, father of Chris Michaels-Martinez, told us on Tuesday that if our leaders refuse to do something, it falls into our laps. It is now our responsibility to prevent this from happening again. We have to stand up for those that we lost and we have to remember that mass shootings, as often as they occur, are not normal. We don’t have to live this way. We shouldn’t live this way. Sign the petitions, write to your politicians, make them listen to us. Not one more.
Mckinley Krongaus prefers to interpret the right to “bear arms” as the right to “bare arms.”

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, May 29, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students

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17 Responses to When the Right to Bear Arms Trumps the Right to Life

  1. raoul duke

    May 30, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    what about the knife?
    Let’s lock up anyone seeing a shrink or therapist.
    You never know what they might do.
    The ycould buy a gun illegally.

  2. Howard Zochlinski

    May 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Put the blame where it belongs – with the Regents and the UCPD – When the police got the report of Rodger Elliot’s attempt to push girls off a ten-foot ledge, they had sufficient grounds for an arrest. There were multiple witnesses to his actions, which, besides the physical assault, included verbal threats to kill the girls. The police could have gotten a warrant for his arrest, put him on the no-buy list for guns and even take away the gun he had at the time.

    I know lawyers out there will point out that the crime was a misdemeanor and there are requirements for an arrest for a misdemeanor that does not take place in the presence of an officer, such as a warrant, The UC police have no problem getting warrants from friendly D.A.’s desperate to suck up to the Regents, and they could have easily arrested Rodger, find his gun and confiscate it. If that was UC Regents’ “policy.”

    Then there was the later incident where the Santa Barbara County Sheriffs came to his home due to concern over his videos, which included threats. Santa Barbara’s county sheriff, Bill Brown, now engaging in COA, stated that his deputies found Rodger “shy, timid and polite, well-spoken”, who played down any claim to his having mental problems. Of particular interest, the sheriff claims no one in his department had bothered to watch the threatening videos before going to see Rodgers about them, yet, according to Rodger’s ‘manifesto’, seven deputies showed up at his door. Why the small army then? Moreover, Rodger’s YouTube broadcast threats were sufficient to secure a search warrant and would justify confiscation of any weapons found there. The sheriff claims that all his deputies did was give Rodger advice and information on where to seek help and leave.

    So, why wasn’t any ‘enforcement’ done by law enforcement? The sheriff’s COA effort blames “inadequate mental healthcare.” Others blame our “gun culture”, “inadequate laws”, culture / civilization in general, movies and video games, the laws, and, in one really odd attack, Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow.

    That’s all nonsense – the responsibility lies with the Regents of the University of California and the thugs they hire as police. The Regents, to use a legal term, foster a “policy, practice or custom” of ignoring crimes against women unless there is so much publicity or pressure that they can’t hide what occurred. The UCPD is trained to believe their mission is not to protect the safety, health or welfare of the students, staff or faculty, but, rather, to protect the property and reputation of the Regents and the University. They will ignore crimes on campus unless someone with authority wants the person arrested for what the Regents see as crimes – for “whistle blowing” or threatening to do so (e.g. Prof. Bin Han, UC Davis), as retaliation for complaining about or suing the University for civil rights violations, for stealing the University’s property or money (e.g. Jennifer Beeman, former director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program, who kept track of Clery related data on the UC Davis campus), or there is a racial motive or a personal vendetta.

    How do I know all this? How can I dare make such an allegation? Experience:
    I hate to discuss this and admit it as most people don’t know my history with UC, but I have been arrested five times (three times in 1972, once in 1992, once in 1993) by UC police, all the arrests being for false and malicious charges for reasons of racial animus (anti-Semitism), politics (anti-Vietnam War leftist), threats of whistleblowing and retaliation / vendetta.

    If you are like most Americans, you’ve seen at least some pro-police propaganda, a.k.a. television police procedurals such as a C.S.I. or Law & Order variant. In these, the police generally keep to the rules as people are led to believe they are always enforced: the police gather evidence, interview the suspect, seek witnesses, etc. and do all of that before they seek an arrest or search warrant. The original Law & Order even began with the pronouncement that the police “investigate”. Yet, with Rodgers the police merely interviewed him, ignored the preponderance of the evidence (the videos, the numerous witnesses, his roommates, etc.) and left, only to give the matter a Gallic shrug “What else can I do, Monsieur?” after their deliberate and knowing incompetence led to disaster. In other words, they did less than would be expected of your average television cop. I submit that they didn’t want to make an arrest as they saw no reason to upset UC’s applecart.

    In sharp contrast, here’s how my cases were handled:

    All of the five arrests except the first (burglary of a photolab – I had been processing photos of police brutality at the UCSB riots – see Islavista.org) were for misdemeanors. None involved more than two witnesses and in several cases the actual alleged crime was not even witnessed (e.g. – theft of a camera lens – no one saw the theft, and it was falsely alleged that I had been in the room alone for less than a minute ‘sometime’ before the lens had allegedly ‘disappeared’). There was no investigation of any of the alleged crimes, not even as to whether a crime I was accused of had even occurred (e.g. – the burglary – after my arrest they took inventory and found nothing had been stolen from the photolab) and several of what the police claimed were investigations were actually criminal actions by the UC police to support the allegation (e.g. – making evidence disappear if it was exonerating). The most important point: in every case the warrant was secured (sometimes by having the Assistant District Attorney lie on the affidavit for the warrant, something they get away with as they have “prosecutorial immunity”), and the arrest made before I was interviewed / interrogated – i.e. the police had no interest in what I had to say or any evidence I could produce, only in insuring that I had an arrest record to haunt me.

    Note that none of these five arrests resulted in a conviction and only two went to trial. Of those, one was thrown out half-way through the trial as the judge realized the only witness against me was lying; the other was straight out of television – the fifth and final arrest went to trial. A victim identified another person in the courtroom as the perpetrator. The person identified was someone whom the UC police had been telephoned about and had on their suspect list, but claimed they could not locate him or his work place. My attorney and I not only found this man, but discovered that the UC police had lied – officers had been to his research institute and spoken to his boss. My attorney had subpoenaed him despite objections by University authorities and the DA. Seems he brings a lot of research funding into the University and the UC police and administration, in arresting me, thought they could kill two birds with one stone – retaliate against me and provide a fallguy for this very valuable researcher.

    What was this crime that I was arrested as the fallguy for? Indecent exposure from a moving car, a crime against women. I’m from New York – I never learned to drive a car, never had an automobile license. The UC police hadn’t even checked that, causing the DA some embarrassment and the jury to have a good laugh.

    Why did I suffer all this? Because retired UCPD Officer John W. Jones, the arresting officer in the first four of my arrests, and who ran for congress in Yolo County in 2006, is nothing more than a violent racist, anti-Semitic thug. His own superiors, when they fired him over another racist incident that resulted in an Asian student being in a coma, called him a liar, a slacker and implied, if not stating outright, that he is a coward. But, due to the crimes he committed against me at UCSB in 1972, which I was willing to reveal in Court, the University made a full court press to silence me – slander, disqualification (expulsion without my Ph.D.), harassment, etc. before the false charges he manipulated Yolo County District Attorney Patricia Fong into lying about in order to secure a warrant were dropped.

    It took more than ten years before I had an honest due process hearing before the Academic Senate: http://dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=8165
    But, even after 92% of the voting faculty voted to reinstate me with full back benefits, the administration and the Regents refused. So I am unemployed and, on occasion, harassed. And I submit that this is typical of the kind of near-criminal or even criminal conduct the Regents, University administrators and police engage in when they feel their reputations are threatened. One faculty member called it “a scorched earth campaign”. And they get away with it as everyone who might prevent it is in their pocket: sheriffs and D.A.s run for office and need money for their election campaigns, so they give carte blanche to the most powerful business and largest employer in their county – the University of California.

    As to Jones, he is typical of the sort of officers the Regents hire: incompetent at best, a criminal at his worst. As to crimes against women on UC campuses – those have the lowest priority as “boys will be boys” and no one wants to embarrass the Regents with bad publicity on a campus. As to all of you who believe that the media effects culture and is a cause of rape, etc, consider that Jones himself, at a bachelor party he threw for a faculty member at UC Davis, showed the porn films “Behind the Green Door” and “Deep Throat”. How do I know this? Let’s just say I make a better detective than Jones. And a more honest one.

    So, in sum, you want to be safe on the UC campuses? Get honest police with their duty being to protect the students, staff and faculty and not the reputation of the Regents. Better still, change the California Constitution to eliminate the Regents altogether.

    • A

      May 29, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      Take your pills dude

      • Howard Zochlinski

        May 31, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        To Anonymous A-hole;

        It’s cowards like you, refusing to see the real problems, that make people like Elliot Rodger possible.

        • raoul duke

          June 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

          Oh shut you cake hole.
          No one wants to har your poor me rant. Go away – this is not about you.

          • Howard Zochlinski

            June 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm

            To Duke;

            First, learn to spell. Second, learn not to troll.
            Third, what it is about is deeper than you seem to understand – that the system is screwed up, but almost everyone is afraid to deal with it.
            Gee, to thing, I even complimented one of your other come backs!

  3. JP

    May 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    “When the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791, “the right to bear arms” back then meant a single-shot weapon that was loaded through the muzzle and fired by means of a flintlock, that little thing on those super old guns that creates a spark, which in turn ignites gunpowder.”

    You forgot another crucial part of the Declaration.

    “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    In order to be able to “alter or abolish” a “government who has become destructive of [those] ends”, we need suitable weapons for the the modern soldiers we would be facing. These soldiers will not simply agree to use only muskets and black powder weapons because you say they should. The authors did not intend for us to be limited to inferior weapons.

  4. Erin

    May 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Agreed. #NotOneMore

  5. E. David Quammen

    May 29, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    The right(s) to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” necessarily includes the right to defend that “life” and “liberty”. And that right existed long before the Declaration of Independence was even contemplated. The right to use arms for defense. Was a right that had been secured to We The People when we were still “subjects” of the crown back in 1689.

    There no amount of treasonous whining is going to alter the fact that the right is SECURED to We The People by the supreme law of the land.

    • A

      May 29, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      You should learn what treason means before you go tossing it around like that.

      • E. David Quammen

        May 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm


        noun: treason; noun: high treason; plural noun: high treasons

        the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

        We The People are the “sovereign” authority in our government.

        Take a hike.

        • A

          May 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

          Hmm my critical thinking skills seem to be failing me. Could you please use yours to point out the part of that definition that says, “expresses an opinion that I disagree with?”

          If your definition of treason includes expressing disagreement over one part of the constitution then you had better get your asylum paperwork in order since you seem to be struggling with the first amendment.

  6. Bastion of Hope

    May 29, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I lived in isla vista and had a 4 guns in my house – if I saw this guy(s) driving around shooting I would have fired back – maybe ended it sooner. The NRA and gun laws have nothing to do with this debate. It is purely a mental health issue.

  7. raoul duke

    May 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

    The Australian example? I see, you’re a cause and effect type of person. The ban = no more mass shootings?

    Perhapse you isn’t aware that Australia has a nasty habit of “taking people into protective custody” who are actin weird. That’s right liberal, they take the freak off the street. So much for utopia.

  8. stopthebs

    May 29, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Uh… raoul duke, stow it, my friend. 3 people were shot to death and a number of others wounded ***BY GUNS***. And do you have problem with reading comprehension with respect to the Australian example? Why not just go spend whatever the NRA pays you to post here on some online gambling or some internet porn and not come back to this issue.

    • E. David Quammen

      May 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      How many of those people would have survived had they been able to exercise their inalienable natural right of Self-Defense? (Instead of being disarmed due to cowardly traitors).

  9. raoul duke

    May 29, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Save you breath. He went 3 for 3 with the knife.
    It was no less lethal with the blade than he was with the knife, yet I do not hear any cuninary disaprigement.