Liam Madden: A ‘middle ground’ perspective on guns from a former Marine

This commentary is by Liam Madden, a Marine Corps veteran who is running for U.S. Congress as an independent.

Part of my frustration with the gun control conversation is that liberals have their hearts in the right place but rarely know enough about guns to make effective policy. Banning assault weapons as a main strategy assumes that there is a meaningful difference between what qualifies as an assault weapon and any other semi-automatic firearm. It feels like liberals hear ‘assault weapon’ and picture Rambo, but as a former Marine, I see that it is sadly true that most of the violent tragedies very easily could have been — or were — committed with firearms that don’t qualify as assault weapons. Therefore, what liberals hold as the beacon of good gun control policy (banning assault weapons) is not likely to achieve much other than pissing off conservatives.

As an independent, one who has at least some knowledge of firearms — although I haven’t owned a gun since the I left the Marines — here is my offering to the policy conversation. Hopefully we can expand the framing of the debate to create some middle ground to actually move both parties into:

1) Mentally ill people should have severe restrictions on firearm use.

2) Schools need former Marines guarding them. It’s a sad fact, but the only thing that would make me feel safe with my children going to a school at this point. I don’t like the idea of militarizing schools, but I don’t see a near term alternative that actually protects our most precious beings.

3) The Second Amendment should remain intact — restricting 18-20 year olds’ gun ownership, Vermont’s most recent measure, is unconstitutional. I’m not judging it as a bad idea, but I need to call a spade a spade. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the people, 21 or above, have the right to bear arms. If you can be drafted into military service, and have your income taxed, you are entitled to every constitutional right and the state does not have the authority to abridge that right.

4) However, to me, the Second Amendment implies “a well regulated militia” i.e. — a community of people who impose discipline about the use of deadly force. That, to me, means that the right to bear arms comes with responsibility to bear arms as part of a community of ethics.

In practice, firearms for hunting or self defense (pistols) should be allowed in homes and personal lives. Firearms with military applications should not be allowed at homes unless people receive multiple references from a local community of ethics on firearms. In lieu of actual militias, we should be able to verify from among our community interactions who is responsible enough to privately keep a weapon with the capacity to cause mass violence.

5) Hunter gatherers prevented sociopaths from destroying their cultures by having close relationships throughout the entire community. If we want to prevent more tragedies, our communities need to become strong enough where people who become dangerous get help way before they inflict harm. This is a systemic issue that needs a systemic response.

What made those hunter gatherer communities work, in this respect, was total transparency. Everyone knew everything about everyone. It was impossible to hide malicious or dangerous habits. In our modern society, we can either achieve that total transparency with dystopian government surveillance, or, preferably, through strengthened local communities. In the community of ethics scenario I outline above, I am clearly suggesting the latter.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Thayne Tuason

31 thoughts on “Liam Madden: A ‘middle ground’ perspective on guns from a former Marine

  1. The leftist Dems go after the scary looking AR (armalite rifle .222) because they
    don’t want to address the real issue which is MENTAL HEALTH.. and we all
    know that being a liberal is indicative of having a mental disease. One of the biggest
    threats to children in school is grooming which has produced 2 mass killers the CO. and Texas killers were both Trans identity which has been stated to have a 45% rate
    of suicide or attempts.. This is killing more kids than all mass shooting have.

  2. A couple of points:

    The term Well Regulated meant something far different back when the Constitution was first drafted. Vocabulary usage and the meaning of certain words often changes over time. Back in the late 1700’s it meant “in proper working order,” not highly controlled as its more commonly used today. Additionally, according to U.S. Code all adults of military fighting age are considered part of the militia, even today. So in reality what the 2A says is “for the citizenry to properly defend the nation, the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Just like every other Constitutional right, the 2A is an individual liberty, not a collective right.


    “Assault RIFLE” is a military term for automatic rifles that are almost exclusively restricted to military use. Civilians can purchase them, but it’s a very lengthy, difficult and cost-prohibitive process that requires federal checks and licensing.

    “Assault WEAPON” is a political term from the 1980’s, created for the sole purpose of confusing the general public. The goal was to frighten and manipulate people into falsely believing that commonly owned semi-automatic rifles (like the AR-15) were fully-automatic machine guns.

    • Gee, I remember when they only wanted to get rid of Saturday Night Specials. The Commiecrats make up their own vocabulary as they need it.

  3. Just because he was a former doesn’t make him a weapons expert or a Constitutional scholar.

  4. Liam, A little history for you.

    FROM THE FOUNDERS 2nd AMENDMENT by Stephen P. Halbrook

    1774 – British General Gage takes over as governor of the Massachusetts colony and 36 Tories are appointed to the Massachusetts council by King George III

    Gage restricts the distribution of gunpowder and has 300 barrels of gunpowder seized. Gage realizing, he is outnumbered restricts powder & shot trying to use “ammo control” to disarm the people. Guns, powder and shot were however considered private property.

    On October 17th Gage is ordered to confiscate arms especially long guns but knows this is not practicable and as the colonies get wind of what is happening in Massachusetts start arming themselves.

    King George III bans the importation of guns to the colonies also the importation of gunpowder, saltpeter and lead.

    1775 – On April 16th the Battle of Lexington & Concord takes place and the British start seizing arms in earnest. Women are hiding guns and children are making cartridges.

    April 17th Gage starts to disarm Boston and on June 17th Gage proclaims that anyone in Boston who has not turned their arms are to be considered enemies of his majesty. On July 6th in Virginia Jefferson and Dickenson draw up the Declaration of Causes of Taking Up Arms and militias start to form.

    On May 10th Ethan Allen captures the British Fort Ticonderoga. September 16th the New York Provincial Congress orders the seizure of arms with the promise to be compensated
    for them. (The First Buy Back?) Bills of Attainder’s, or legislative trials are held without the ability to rebut the charges.

    1776 – In April the British order the Repression of Pamphlets (Thought Crime) and firearms and other properties are seized and forfeited.

    July 4th The Colonies Declare their independence.

  5. I find it incredulous that people in the media are calling for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. None of the first ten amendments can be repealed. If they can repeal the 2nd, then they could repeal the other nine. The first ten amendments tell government what it cannot do under any circumstances. It is a restraint on government.

    That being said I would love for them to try to repeal the 2nd Amendment because these fools don’t even realize that over 25 states now have Constitutional Carry, and they could never meet the two thirds threshold of states to repeal it.

    If you are historically ignorant, then you are politically naive.

  6. ALL GUN CONTROL UNDER THE U.S. CONSTITUTION IS ILLEGAL! Government does not give us our rights. Our rights are not given to us by the Constitution. Our rights are given to us by God and are inherent to us as human beings and by the Laws of Nature. These rights that we are born with are affirmed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution and specify what the government can and cannot do to us as citizens of the United States. Government’s only power is the power which is enumerated to it by the Constitution. The federal government, a state, county or town cannot pass a law contrary to the Constitution. Article 6 the Supremacy Clause makes the Constitution the supreme law of the land. Under our Constitution the government is not delegated the authority to legislate, enforce, or adjudicate laws pertaining to the exercise of our rights under the Constitution – Period. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to require the government’s permission to exercise any right affirmed to us under the Constitution. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be secure from unwarranted interrogation, search, or seizure in the absence of probable cause of criminal conduct. Or compel us to waive our guaranteed 5th Amendment right to due process as a precondition to being allowed (or denied) the exercise of our right to keep and bear arms. This violation of our 4th and 5th Amendment rights happens every time that we are interrogated under penalty of perjury without probable cause that a crime has been committed when we fill out B.A.T.F.E form 4473 to purchase a firearm. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our 10th Amendment right to a federal government exercising only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution, and State governments are prohibited the exercise of any power prohibited to the States by the United States Constitution.
    The government is not delegated the authority under the 14th Amendment to make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Government is not delegated by our Constitution the authority to license firearm dealers or operate or fund the most powerful anti-rights government agency on the planet called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Since no Amendment in the Bill of Rights has been repealed thru Article V or by a National Convention of States, the only legal way to change the Constitution, all existing gun control laws presently violate five Amendments of the Bill of Rights and goes against the settled law of two Supreme Court decisions, Heller vs the District of Columbia 2008 and McDonald vs Chicago 2010. Both decisions affirm that the people’s right to keep and bear arms is an individual right and that citizens are allowed firearms in common use, those small arms or those that operate like them and are issued to our National Guard which comprises of citizen soldiers.

    The purpose of compelled background checks as a precondition to allowing or denying the transfer of a firearm is to deceive firearm owners and prospective owners into unknowingly waiving their rights guaranteed by the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 14th Amendments so they will have no rights left to claim when the government decides to register and confiscate our firearms. We have a right to keep and bear arms, not a privilege to keep and bear arms. Our rights are beyond the reach of the government and no citizen has to ask government permission to exercise a right. Government has no authority delegated to it by the Constitution to deceive its citizens into waiving their rights or acquiescing to the loss of their rights by subterfuge, scam, fraud, or force. DO NOT VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS!

  7. I just watched Mr. Madden’s video.

    He seems to be a nice guy. But he hasn’t a clue about about the economic principles that create and sustain a free enterprise system. It’s not about ‘money’. Never was. It’s about our ability to interact economically and socially as free indiivduals.

    “The essential notion of a capitalist society … is voluntary cooperation, voluntary exchange. The essential notion of a socialist society is force.” Milton Friedman

    Clearly, Mr. Madden doesn’t get it. And I’m not sure many people do. And that’s a problem.

  8. You can try to speak logic all you want. It does not matter, and never will matter when you go up against ideological liberal democrats.. Truth, facts or evidence make no difference. All that matters is to win (re: Saul Alinsky tactics). Witness the recent trial with AG Durham…and PROOF that Hillary & campaign did ALL the lying, cheating to destroy Trump…tied him in knots for four years…and it was all a lie. The author above is making the usual response from our side to just get the Dem side to try to liisten. It will never work, never has worked and you will just get backstabbed in the end. The MEDIA is in control (as well as of all education)…and this is the headline that explains all you need to know of the Media – and recent shootings:

    “TV news companies view mass shootings as ‘ratings-generating revenue sources.”

    • Jeffrey Green,
      This is why nothing is ever really solved or fixed- there is too much money to be made off of ‘Broken.’

      One side of the political spectrum does very well in a well running country, the other side does very well in a broken disaster of a country.
      It’s all in what each side likes to do for work- and who is in power to set that all up.

  9. ‘a well regulated militia’ does not mean you have to be in one to own a firearm. It meant states were also allowed to have a a well regulated militia. — I want to my congressman to know more. Like go read the Federalist papers.

  10. I don’t agree with this writer at all- and I bet many Marines wouldn’t either.

    I believe that people should look at guns like tools.
    They should have the right tool for the job- this is how criminals look at it !!
    Are you going to go to a gun fight like the one in Uvalde with a .22? I don’t think so.

    Another thing to consider is that each state has it’s own gun culture.. NY and NJ are vastly different than Montana. So why are we talking about this one size fits all approach?
    There are many states that are very rural and there is no police coming to save you, you’re on your own. These people need what they need- and frankly, what they do is none of our business. Period.

  11. J, not intended for you. I was pointing this out to the author who should know this from his service. Also, for others who are recipients of false pandering from politicians who know very little about most things in life and only present false information to please their donors.

  12. If restricting an 18-20 year old’s right to purchase and own a firearm is unconstitutional then the same logic would apply to a 6-8 year old’s rights. The adult brain is not fully formed until early to mid twenties.

  13. Upside down. Only adults 21 and older only should be subject to the draft, eligible to volunteer for military service and eligible to vote. Conscription of children by the U.S. military is unconscionable. Somebody under the age of 21 should not be allowed to purchase or own a firearm and always be accompanied by an adult when in possession of a firearm.

    • I agree.

      The age of majority in modern America should be 21 years.

      Voting, legal drugs, guns, military conscription should all be 21 years of age.

      It’s time to follow the science on human development, allow youth to be youth and protect/re-develop a civil society.

  14. The last independent politician Vermont sent to congress was Bernard of Brooklyn. As it turns out Bernie was not independent because that’s not a party in Washington and to get anything done or committee assignments, one has to coccus with one of the two parties. Bernie is a democrat when it suits him and an independent at election time. So, this candidate needs to break his silence and reveal which party he will join in with.

    As for the 2nd Amendment and The Bill of Rights, I would also ask, who is the militia? The answer can be found in the writings of our founders. The militia is every able-bodied adult age 16 to 60. Well-regulated meant their personal arms and equipment were to be in good condition. The militia consists of the people with their own firearms, no license, no permission needed. The Ukraine government had disarmed the public until Russia invaded the country. Guess what, the government handed out Fully automatic AK 47s to anyone who would stay and fight. This is America and law-abiding people will not be disarmed by pandering politicians. Stop the global warming fiasco and redirect the money to mental health

    • “I ask, sir, what is the Militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials”. – George Mason

  15. You can send them to war at 18, but civilians can’t defend themselves.

    Try harder please.

    Ask Ukraine what they think if 2A.

    If any thing we should have mandatory firearm training in every high school across the country. The NRA should have a fund raiser for the City of Chicago where the rest of the united states donates money and fire arm training for every citizen in the city.

    That would make an immediate difference. That is gun control, tight groupings, double tap, and good finger positioning make all the difference….and I haven’t had any training yet and even I known this much.

    Not many people came into Western towns shooting people up, that’s the movies, everybody was armed, and therefore polite. We should go back to our roots. Perhaps Chicago would become the most polite city instead of the boodle and voting fraud capital of the US>….

    Students all carried guns to school when I was younger, deer hunting, etc… violence.

    • Gun safety courses should be made available, and at a reasonable cost. Vermont is lacking in this area. If more people were comfortable with a firearm, we wouldn’t have the ‘this vs them.’ Education is key; in helping to understand the importance of the 2nd Amendment. Look at countries like Australia. They gave up their guns and now are living under a tyrannical government.

      • You are wrong, Kathi.
        The best gun safety curriculum in existence is the Hunter Safety Course available to all youth who sign up for it. It is extensive in handling weapons, which it needs to be. The NRA has extensive youth programs as well.
        There are private schools who take students to the local firing range to teach basics in firearms and handling. This where it needs to start.
        Any of these options are better positioning our youth than nothing to do with firearms will do; which is where the liberals really want this to be. They want the issue, not the solution.

        • A “hunter safety course” is not the same as learning how to use a handgun period. And it looks like the NRA firearms training is by group request only.

  16. There is no middle ground on the Constitution and Bill of Rights,one would think that a former veteran would understand that more deeply than others.

    “In practice, firearms for hunting or self defense (pistols) should be allowed in homes and personal lives. Firearms with military applications should not be allowed at homes unless people receive multiple references from a local community of ethics on firearms. In lieu of actual militias, we should be able to verify from among our community interactions who is responsible enough to privately keep a weapon with the capacity to cause mass violence.”

    As written and at the time of it’s writing,the 2 nd. the founders had just won it’s freedom from the most powerful military at that time. The second was to provide the citizens were armed on equal with any other nation in the world, well we started down the road of destruction of the 2 nd. in 1934 and ever since then. Politicians fail to realize the true cause of violence,is that morality can’t be legislated. I might suggest that before any person decides to run for office that they have a working knowledge of the founding documents, when you do you may be able to earn my support.

    • I would have to remind you that every firearm can and does have a military application. For instance, 12-gauge shotguns are military issue, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers, knives and many other everyday implements are used as weapons in the military. If you are implying AR 15s (Armalite #15, not, Assault Rifle15) is a 22 caliber semi-auto rifle and is not a fully automatic military M-4. There are currently 20 million Armalite 15 sporting rifles in private hands which qualifies for the Heller decision as a firearm in common use. Once again, guns are not a problem, it’s the poeple who use them criminally and require jail or mental health intervention.

  17. Please define “Firearms with military applications”, “Assault weapons”, and “middle ground”….

    • Ouch! He can’t do that but most likely doesn’t realize it yet. Not to mention the poor Marine left out us Navy vets (and Army, USAF & Coast Guard). Probably doesn’t even realize that MARINE stands for ‘My Ass Rides in Navy Equipment’.

      • It’s the crux of the article… It says nothing without those definitions.

        I hadn’t heard the M.A.R.I.N.E. one before. Classic.

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