A debate between me and Jason Alexander (George Costanza) on banning assault weapons, prompted by the Colorado theater massacre, 2012

 

Please look for my comments below prefaced by “Larry’s response”

 

I’d like to preface this long tweet by saying that my passion comes from my deepest sympathy and shared sorrow with yesterday’s victims and with the utmost respect for the people and the police/fire/medical/political forces of Aurora and all who seek to comfort and aid these victims.

This morning, I made a comment about how I do not understand people who support public ownership of assault style weapons like the AR-15 used in the Colorado massacre. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15

That comment, has of course, inspired a lot of feedback. There have been many tweets of agreement and sympathy but many, many more that have been challenging at the least, hostile and vitriolic at the worst.

Larry’s response

The internet being what it is, it doesn’t surprise me that you are getting threats of your own. That happens on every issue and is not an indication that only gun owners are rude, insolent or dangerous. There are many instances on twitter and the rest of the net of the political Left threatening conservatives. For example, Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor who recently survived a recall election had death threats on the same twitter that you experience your “vitriol,” in fact they called for his assassination. http://twitchy.com/2012/06/06/kill-scott-walker-angry-libs-flood-twitter-with-death-threats-after-wisconsin-recall-defeat/  So, it’s a mean world out there Mr. Alexander and if you want to play in it, you have to expect consequences. I think from your reaction here, you are a little too thin skinned for this kind of thing.

Clearly, the angry, threatened and threatening, hostile comments are coming from gun owners and gun advocates. Despite these massacres recurring and despite the 100,000 Americans that die every year due to domestic gun violence – these people see no value to even considering some kind of control as to what kinds of weapons are put in civilian hands.

Larry’s response

Did  any of your tweeters question this figure? I can’t seem to find anywhere near 100,000 deaths a year from guns in the last decade. Where did you get those figures?

At the same time from this response you apparently see no value in tracking down criminals with guns, like the Colorado shooter, only to limit law abiding citizens from owning these kinds of weapons. That’s  Draconian in spirit even if it isn’t in intent.

Many of them cite patriotism as their reason – true patriots support the Constitution adamantly and wholly. Constitution says citizens have the right to bear arms in order to maintain organized militias. I’m no constitutional scholar so here it is from the document itself:

Larry’s response

If being an American can be defined by remaining law abiding and seeking constitutional protections under these laws that you cite below, then yes, these Americans are as patriotic in their desire to obtain and collect these weapons as you are not to have them in your possession. Or, can you only be considered patriotic because you  support banning these weapons?>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As passed by the Congress:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

So the patriots are correct, gun ownership is in the constitution – if you’re in a well-regulated militia. Let’s see what no less a statesman than Alexander Hamilton had to say about a militia:
“A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.”

Or from Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Definition of MILITIA
1
a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
2
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service

The advocates of guns who claim patriotism and the rights of the 2nd Amendment – are they in well-regulated militias? For the vast majority – the answer is no.

Larry’s response

Now that’s a specious argument, much more so than what you cite as “specious” below. Of course, there is no need for militias at this time because we have effective law enforcement and a common defense which protects us. You mentioned that you’re not opposed to hand guns, shot guns and other weapons commonly used in hunting, target practice etc.  But if your argument about “well regulated militias” is used as the criteria for gun control then how can you constitutionally distinguish between the automatic weapon and the hunting rifle. They would all have to be banned. See why people are so careful about protecting their constitutional rights?

Larry’s further response

You know if Nazi Germany had not made private ownership of firearms against the law it’s quite possible that Hitler would not have been able to exact his final solution on the Jews as he did. Even if half of those people had survived think of how that might have affected the world, cures for diseases, wonderful literature, spiritual enlightenment, to say nothing of the strength that the State of Israel might have sustained from some of these three million people settling there. That should be enough to decide that no ban on any weapons should ever be carried out in a free society, don’t you think?

Then I get messages from seemingly decent and intelligent people who offer things like: @BrooklynAvi: Guns should only be banned if violent crimes committed with tomatoes means we should ban tomatoes. OR @nysportsguys1: Drunk drivers kill, should we ban fast cars?

I’m hoping that right after they hit send, they take a deep breath and realize that those arguments are completely specious. I believe tomatoes and cars have purposes other than killing. What purpose does an AR-15 serve to a sportsman that a more standard hunting rifle does not serve? Let’s see – does it fire more rounds without reload?

Larry’s response

Mr. Alexander, do you have any hobbies. Collect books, maybe old manuscripts, musical scores, or anything like that. I know you are a fan of Broadway and take great interest in your profession. What if someone advocated not collecting manuscripts because written on paper and collected into apartments or homes they are a fire hazard. Mr. Alexander, don’t make criminals out of people who have a hobby that is not yours, go after the criminals themselves like this Holmes character from Colorado.

Yes. Does it fire farther and more accurately? Yes. Does it accommodate a more lethal payload? Yes. So basically, the purpose of an assault style weapon is to kill more stuff, more fully, faster and from further away. To achieve maximum lethality. Hardly the primary purpose of tomatoes and sports cars.

Larry’s response

Not the point. The point is that they have the right, the basic inalienable right to own them if they want.  That is what we all should be focusing on. If you erode the importance of constitutional law it creates a slippery slope, one that will eventually affect you. Do you know that story about the people who should have cried out against the Nazis when they gathered up  the Jews and homosexuals but chose to remain silent because it wasn’t them that was suffering and when the Nazis were all finish with those “others” they came for them.  Don’t let that happen to you Mr. Alexander. You and me and every American must concentrate on preserving our liberty not tearing away at it piece by piece.

Then there are the tweets from the extreme right – these are the folk who believe our government has been corrupted and stolen and that the forces of evil are at play, planning to take over this nation and these folk are going to fight back and take a stand. And any moron like me who doesn’t see it should…
a. be labeled a moron
b. shut the fuck up
c. be removed

Larry’s response

Those people are a fringe element that might be vocal but probably can be counted on your two hands. And, I would chance to say that the FBI watches them pretty close. They are no different than people like Charlie Barren on the extreme left who also thinks we have no freedom and that Jews build concentration camps in Israel. So, if you want to connect me with the extreme right in your twitter feed than the least you can do is snuggle up to the Charlie Barrens of the world and admit that they are as much a part of your thinking as the extreme right is of mine. Please don’t reduce it to that, this issue is too important.

And amazingly, I have some minor agreement with these folks. I believe there are evil forces at play in our government. But I call them corporatists. I call them absolutists. I call them the kind of ideologues from both sides, but mostly from the far right who swear allegiance to unelected officials that regardless of national need or global conditions, are never to levy a tax.

Larry’s response

I’m not sure what this has to do with banning assault weapons but I think you are mixing up undo and out of control spending with the lunatic fringe again. How much more spending per year would you say would make you happy, one trillion? Ten trillion? How much more will it take until your kind of thinking will say “Ok that’s enough.” By the way who are the ideologues on the Left and what are their “absolute” positions?  Do you play fair on this or is it only us right wing “absolutists” who are not reasonable?

That they are never to compromise or seek solutions with the other side. That are to obstruct every possible act of governance, even the ones they support or initiate. Whose political and social goal is to marginalize the other side, vilify and isolate them with the hope that they will surrender, go away or die out.

These people believe that the US government is eventually going to go street by street and enslave our citizens. Now as long as that is only happening to liberals, homosexuals and democrats – no problem.

Larry’s response

Who is enslaving “liberals, homosexuals and democrats”?

But if they try it with anyone else – it’s going to be arms-ageddon and these committed, God-fearing, brave souls will then use their military-esque arsenal to show the forces of our corrupt government whats-what.

Larry’s response

Sheesh! Where do you get this stuff? Do you actually think there are right wing forces in this country that have the power to do something like that? If I were you I would be more concerned about the extreme left that has apparently taken over the Democratic Party in this country. That is a real threat. And, it is sinking us further and further like Europe.

These people think they meet the definition of a “militia”. They don’t. At least not the constitutional one. And, if it should actually come to such an unthinkable reality, these people believe they would win. That’s why they have to “take our country back”. From who? From anyone who doesn’t think like them or see the world like them. They hold the only truth, everyone else is dangerous. Ever meet a terrorist that doesn’t believe that? Just asking.

Larry’s response

Mr. Alexander as far as I can see from this letter you are the only one wants to win something here and “take back” something that was already given.

Then there are the folks who write that if everyone in Colorado had a weapon, this maniac would have been stopped. Perhaps. But I do believe that the element of surprise, tear gas and head to toe kevlar protection might have given him a distinct edge. Not only that, but a crowd of people firing away in a chaotic arena without training or planning – I tend to think that scenario could produce even more victims.

Larry’s response

You really should do the research before you answer in such a shoot from the hip fashion.

The fact is that “In right-to-carry states, the violent crime rate is 24% lower than the rest of the U.S.,” http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp. There are a number of studies out there that can be downloaded from the Intenet in which the data shows time after time that most violent crime is not proliferated because of the use of fire arms and that in places that allow “right to carry” crime rates have significantly fallen.

Lastly, there are these well-intended realists that say that people like this evil animal would get these weapons even if we regulated them. And they may be right. But he wouldn’t have strolled down the road to Kmart and picked them up.

Larry’s response

Are they selling AR-15s at Kmart?

Regulated, he would have had to go to illegal sources – sources that could possibly be traced, watched, overseen. Or he would have to go deeper online and those transactions could be monitored. “Hm, some guy in Aurora is buying guns, tons of ammo and kevlar – plus bomb-making ingredients and tear gas. Maybe we should check that out.”

Larry’s response

Fine. Maybe his shrink could have recognized something in his personality, maybe his mother should have been more vocal, maybe, maybe maybe. Look, if he hadn’t been able to get guns to do his evil he would have done something else, a bomb perhaps, chemical weapons, who knows. The point is that the evil must be stopped not means to create that evil. Those weapons in the hands of responsible level headed individuals are harmless. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

But that won’t happen as long as all that activity is legal and unrestricted.

Larry’s response

I beg to differ. There are restrictions, perhaps not enough, perhaps too much. But, still it is the evil you must stop, not the gun and certainly not law abiding citizens who collect these weapons.

I have been reading on and off as advocates for these weapons make their excuses all day long.

Larry’s response

Not excuses, rights. There is a difference.

Guns don’t kill – people do. Well if that’s correct, I go with @BrooklynAvi, let them kill with tomatoes. Let them bring baseball bats, knives, even machetes — a mob can deal with that. And they will if it suits them.

Larry’s response

As Gilda Radner would say in her Beth Lupener character on those old Saturday night live shows, “haha, that’s so funny I forgot to laugh.”

There is no excuse for the propagation of these weapons. They are not guaranteed or protected by our constitution. If they were, then we could all run out and purchase a tank, a grenade launcher, a bazooka, a SCUD missile and a nuclear warhead. We could stockpile napalm and chemical weapons and bomb-making materials in our cellars under our guise of being a militia.

Larry’s response

Those are valid points. There needs to be some regulation and restriction. And, I believe they are already in place, that’s why you don’t see people purchasing nuclear warheads, God forbid.

These weapons are military weapons. They belong in accountable hands, controlled hands and trained hands. They should not be in the hands of private citizens to be used against police, neighborhood intruders or people who don’t agree with you. These are the weapons that maniacs acquire to wreak murder and mayhem on innocents. They are not the same as handguns to help homeowners protect themselves from intruders. They are not the same as hunting rifles or sporting rifles. These weapons are designed for harm and death on big scales.

Larry’s response

Not that I don’t disagree with this statement but even if you made them illegal how would you prevent them from getting into the hands of maniacs like the Colorado killer. You can’t honestly say that we are safe if you prevent everyone from obtaining these weapons. However, in the spirit of fairness if you can demonstrate that you can keep automatic firearms out of the hands of bad guys I will support it.

SO WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THEM? WHY DO YOU NOT, AT LEAST, AGREE TO SIT WITH REASONABLE PEOPLE FROM BOTH SIDES AND ASK HARD QUESTIONS AND LOOK AT HARD STATISTICS AND POSSIBLY MAKE SOME COMPROMISES FOR THE GREATER GOOD? SO THAT MOTHERS AND FATHERS AND CHILDREN ARE NOT SLAUGHTERED QUITE SO EASILY BY THESE MONSTERS? HOW CAN IT HURT TO STOP DEFENDING THESE THINGS AND AT LEAST CONSIDER HOW WE CAN ALL WORK TO TRY TO PREVENT ANOTHER DAY LIKE YESTERDAY?

We will not prevent every tragedy. We cannot stop every maniac. But we certainly have done ourselves no good by allowing these particular weapons to be acquired freely by just about anyone.

I’ll say it plainly – if someone wants these weapons, they intend to use them. And if they are willing to force others to “pry it from my cold, dead hand”, then they are probably planning on using them on people.

So, sorry those of you who tell me I’m an actor, or a has-been or an idiot or a commie or a liberal and that I should shut up. You can not watch my stuff, you can unfollow and you can call me all the names you like. I may even share some of them with my global audience so everyone can get a little taste of who you are.

But this is not the time for reasonable people, on both sides of this issue, to be silent. We owe it to the people whose lives were ended and ruined yesterday to insist on a real discussion and hopefully on some real action.

In conclusion, whoever you are and wherever you stand on this issue, I hope you have the joy of family with you today. Hold onto them and love them as best you can. Tell them what they mean to you. Yesterday, a whole bunch of them went to the movies and tonight their families are without them. Every day is precious. Every life is precious. Take care. Be well. Be safe. God bless.

Larry’s response

I will

http://www.twitlonger.com/index.php/main_new/index/reply/IJasonAlexander/226874179658584066

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/ii8a02

Jewish community examiner

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