The stupid gets worse: gun organization blames anti-gun lobby for school shootings

First it’s God, who let the shootings happen because he was pouting at being banned from schools. Now, from Salon, we hear that the murders are the result of the bleeding-heart liberals who have banned guns from school zones:

The advocacy group Gun Owners of America [GOA] know exactly how the Newtown massacre might have been averted: Guns in schools.

And in the hours after the tragedy, Larry Pratt, the group’s executive director is calling on state and federal lawmakers to overturn any bans on guns in schools. More hauntingly, he is suggesting gun control advocates “have the blood of little children on their hands.”

Here is his statement [JAC: I've embedded the full statement from the GOA website]:

“They have blood on their hands

A gunman whose name we do not need to memorialize took advantage of our gun control laws to slaughter some 20 children and seven adults in a Newton, Connecticut elementary school.

In addition to the gunman, blood is on the hands of members of Congress and the Connecticut legislators who voted to ban guns from all schools in Connecticut (and most other states).  They are the ones who made it illegal to defend oneself with a gun in a school when that is the only effective way of resisting a gunman.

What a lethal, false security are the Gun Free Zone laws.  All of our mass murders in the last 20 years have occurred in Gun Free Zones.  The two people murdered a couple of days earlier in the shopping center in Oregon were also in a Gun Free Zone.

Hopefully the Connecticut tragedy will be the tipping point after which a rising chorus of Americans will demand elimination of the Gun Free Zone laws that are in fact Criminal Safe Zones.

One measure of insanity is repeating the same failure time after time hoping that the next time the failure will turn out to be a success.  Gun Free Zones are a lethal insanity.

We must tell our elected officials that they are acting as the criminals’ friends as long as they continue to support legislation that only protects criminals, not decent people

Oh, and we must also insist that these criminal friendly elected officials not even try to blame gun owners and our “gun culture” for what a criminal did.  Had a few of us been available with guns at the Newton school, most of the victims might still be alive.”

The GOA uses as its slogan Ron Paul’s endorsement as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in America.” That’s for sure!

For those who say, “banning guns won’t keep them out of the hands of criminals,” I say, “Bosh!” Make it illegal, as it is in Britain, to own a handgun of any sort, and rifles will be for target shooting only. The Second Amendment to our Constitution was for an armed militia, not for citizens to carry weapons around whenever they feel like it. And I don’t care what the Supreme Court says; there is simply no need for citizens to possess handguns, semiautomatic or otherwise.

Will it work? I think so.  Many murders or accidental deaths are caused by the presence of easily-obtained guns lying around, and if you can’t get them, the average citizen won’t bother. Of course there will still be a criminal black market in guns, but with sufficiently tough legislation that should abate.

Here’s what The Economist says:

After a couple of horrible mass shootings in Britain, handguns and automatic weapons have been effectively banned. It is possible to own shotguns, and rifles if you can demonstrate to the police that you have a good reason to own one, such as target shooting at a gun club, or deer stalking, say. The firearms-ownership rules are onerous, involving hours of paperwork. You must provide a referee who has to answer nosy questions about the applicant’s mental state, home life (including family or domestic tensions) and their attitude towards guns. In addition to criminal-record checks, the police talk to applicants’ family doctors and ask about any histories of alcohol or drug abuse or personality disorders.

Vitally, it is also very hard to get hold of ammunition. Just before leaving Britain in the summer, I had lunch with a member of parliament whose constituency is plagued with gang violence and drug gangs. She told me of a shooting, and how it had not led to a death, because the gang had had to make its own bullets, which did not work well, and how this was very common, according to her local police commander. Even hardened criminals willing to pay for a handgun in Britain are often getting only an illegally modified starter’s pistol turned into a single-shot weapon.

And, to be crude, having few guns does mean that few people get shot. In 2008-2009, there were 39 fatal injuries from crimes involving firearms in England and Wales, with a population about one sixth the size of America’s. In America, there were 12,000 gun-related homicides in 2008.. . .

I am willing to believe that some householders, in some cases, have defended their families from attack because they have been armed. But I also imagine that lots of ordinary adults, if woken in the night by an armed intruder, lack the skill to wake, find their weapon, keep hold of their weapon, use it correctly and avoid shooting the wrong person. And my hunch is that the model found in places like Japan or Britain—no guns in homes at all, or almost none—is on balance safer.

As for the National Rifle Association bumper stickers arguing that only an armed citizenry can prevent tyranny, I wonder if that isn’t a form of narcissism, involving the belief that lone, heroic individuals will have the ability to identify tyranny as it descends, recognise it for what it is, and fight back. There is also the small matter that I don’t think America is remotely close to becoming a tyranny, and to suggest that it is is both irrational and a bit offensive to people who actually do live under tyrannical rule.

Is there any credible justification for allowing Americans to own guns and carry them around concealed? I haven’t heard one.

Sadly, the author (they’re anonymous at The Economist) pulls his/her punches at the end, saying that America is a democracy and we love our guns and therefore nothing is going to happen:

I personally dislike guns. I think the private ownership of guns is a tragic mistake. But a majority of Americans disagree with me, some of them very strongly. And at a certain point, when very large majorities disagree with you, a bit of deference is in order.

Deference? This isn’t religion—it’s guns! People are getting killed by guns, and at the same rate now as that cited above for 2008-2009: about 33 per day—add another 55 per day if you include suicides committed with guns.  Now’s not the time to say “guns will always be with us” (a mantra similar to that used by accommodationists, and just as false).  Now is the time to fight, and get Obama to take serious action about gun control.  I don’t for a minute mean to use the slain of Newtown as political capital, but the national sentiment for gun control is going in the right direction, and that means we should apply pressure. I’m deeply embarrassed by the failure of our government to ban guns (and really, what excuse is there for semiautomatic weapons?), and even more so by the yahoos that defend their right to have as many guns as they want, and to take them into school zones. What fulminating idiocy!

One of my personal Rules for Living is that if more than one friend tells you you’re behaving badly, they’re probably right.  Now we have nearly every democracy in the world telling America that we’re wrong on gun control, and yet those benighted folks fond of their Glocks won’t listen.

You can sign a petition to the White House here, and write your representatives and senators in Congress (email addresses here and here).

____________

UPDATE: See the powerful article about America’s obsession with guns in the Telegraph, pointed out by a reader below.

359 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I do not think a majority of Americans are opposed to gun control. Our politicians are simply afraid of the NRA.

    • Jeff
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      The majority of Americans oppose gun control because it is an infringement of our rights. Your statement is made in ignorance, but I don’t blame you. Liberalism abhors education. And it also jumps at the chance to take advantage of tragedies like this to push agendas.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Really?

        “In general, do you think gun control laws should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?”

        More strict 57%
        Less strict 30%
        Kept as they are 9%
        Unsure 4%

        CBS News Poll. Dec. 14-16, 2012. N=620 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.

        Enough of the BS and snark about liberalism abhorring education. The facts are quite the contrary.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Dec. 14-16, 2012. N=602 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.5.

        “Do you favor or oppose stricter gun control laws in this country?”

        Favor 54%
        Oppose 43%
        Unsure 3%

      • gbjames
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        CNN/ORC Poll. Aug. 7-8, 2012. N=1,010 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.

        “Which of the following statements comes closest to your view? There should be no restrictions on owning guns. There should be some restrictions on owning guns. All guns should be illegal for everyone except police and authorized personnel.”

        No restrictions 13%
        Some restrictions 76%
        Illegal 10%

      • gbjames
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Your statement was the one made in ignorance. And I do blame you for it.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        The last estimates I saw had figures of 300,000,000 guns in the hands of about 90,000,000 owners. I don’t know if that figure is only those in private hands or if law enforcement and military issues are included. There is no way to extrapolate how many of those 90,000,000 own only one gun and how many own large numbers of weapons. If those figures are correct, that still means 225,000,000 Americans, or 71% of the population, do not own a firearm.

        Opinion polls aside, there are few issues that would ever be allowed to be decided by 29% of the population, but it’s clear that the gun issue has.

        Jeff = Epic Fail

        “Liberals are people who believe that they are right, and that those who disagree with them are misguided and need help; conservatives are people who believe that they are right, and that those who disagree with them are wrong and should be marginalized.”

      • Leef
        Posted December 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        Actually, experimental research for over 30 years has shown that the more educated you are the more liberal you become. You can find these articles in refereed sociology journals and look at the data and methodologies. It doesn’t matter if they’re older or newer. All of the results have been the same. So liberalism does not abhor education. Conservatismm does.

    • neesir
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      It is a common fantasy that gun bans make society safer. In 2002 — five years after enacting its gun ban — the Australian Bureau of Criminology acknowledged there is no correlation between gun control and the use of firearms in violent crime. In fact, the percent of murders committed with a firearm was the highest it had ever been in 2006 (16.3 percent), says the D.C. Examiner.
      Even Australia’s Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research acknowledges that the gun ban had no significant impact on the amount of gun-involved crime:
      In 2006, assault rose 49.2 percent and robbery 6.2 percent. Sexual assault — Australia’s equivalent term for rape — increased 29.9 percent. Overall, Australia’s violent crime rate rose 42.2 percent.
      Moreover, Australia and the United States –where no gun-ban exists — both experienced similar decreases in murder rates:
      Between 1995 and 2007, Australia saw a 31.9 percent decrease; without a gun ban, America’s rate dropped 31.7 percent. During the same time period, all other violent crime indices increased in Australia: assault rose 49.2 percent and robbery 6.2 percent. Sexual assault — Australia’s equivalent term for rape — increased 29.9 percent. Overall, Australia’s violent crime rate rose 42.2 percent. At the same time, U.S. violent crime decreased 31.8 percent: rape dropped 19.2 percent; robbery decreased 33.2 percent; aggravated assault dropped 32.2 percent. Australian women are now raped over three times as often as American women.

      • RedSonja
        Posted December 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp

        “The piece quoted above leads the reader to believe that that much of the Australian citizenry owned handguns until their ownership was made illegal and all firearms owned by ‘law-abiding citizens’ were collected by the government in a buy-back program in 1997. This is not so. Australian citizens do not (and never did) have a constitutional right to own firearms – even before the 1997 buyback program, handgun ownership in Australia was restricted to certain groups, such as those needing weapons for occupational reasons, members of approved sporting clubs, hunters, and collectors. Moreover, the 1997 buyback did not take away all of the guns owned by these groups; only some types of firearms (primarily semi-automatic and pump-action weapons) were banned. And even with the ban in effect, those who can demonstrate a legitimate need to possess prohibited categories of firearms can petition for exemptions from the law.”

        The article goes on to point out that, without context, many of the statistics bandied about regarding crime rates are inconclusive at best and deliberately misleading at worst. So color me skeptical that the gun buyback in Australia has triggered a massive crime wave, whereas here in the United States we’re all safe as houses.

  2. Bonzodog
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    And today’s Telegraph is no less hard hitting than the Economist:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-politics/9749024/Americas-deadly-obsession-with-guns.html

    And remember the Telegraph is the most right-leaning of all the broadsheets …

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      And remember the Telegraph is the most right-leaning of all the broadsheets …

      Not for nothing is it popularly known as the Torygraph. Unfortunately this has almost everything to do with an Erse slang word for a back-country small-beer bandit (a “tory“).

  3. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    The Second Amendment makes it clear that it applies to “well-regulated militias.” Even if you take the position that “regulation” in this sense is the same as one would describe of a “well-regulated piece of machinery,” the fact remains that the Second does not apply to any random schmuck.

    I would be all for restricting arms ownership to private citizens who meet the same standards as soldiers. If you want to carry a sidearm, that’s fine, but you must pass the same physical and mental examinations as an officer and on the same schedule, as well as any and all range and safety tests the officer is required to pass. And anything that would get an officer cashiered would revoke your right to carry said sidearm.

    You want to carry an assault rifle, too? Well, fine. But now you’ve got to meet not the officer requirements but the infantry requirements, and you need a quartermaster to secure your weapon when not in use.

    And if you used your weapon for a shooting spree like this, just as in the military, the responsibility would also fall on those responsible for your training and access to weapons. A school shooting like this would result in the permanent end of whatever militia sponsored it (wittingly or otherwise), the blacklisting of its members, and criminal prosecutions for many.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      good post.

      • Adrian
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Would a better idea be to limit guns to the ones that the Founders knew. One musket and one Holster pistol per person?

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          watch someone decide that this would mean they could have cannon. Of course, as soon as they could shoulder one, I’d be happy to let them have it.

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          I was thinking just that — both took forever to load, were single shot, and tended to be very inaccurate because the barrels were not rifled.

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Ben beat me to it. To these fools who think widespread carrying would prevent these tragedies, because the Good Guys could shoot back, I say fine: anyone who wants to own and publicly bear a gun (especially the kind that’s only good for shooting people, not game) for “self defense” should be required to take and pass the same training required of SWAT teams and military commandos, and show the same level of psychological discipline (or at least, what those guys are supposed to have) — to remain calm in an emergency, to assess the situation, and to be able to aim the weapon accurately at the correct target, and fire when appropriate. Otherwise, all we’ll have is a bunch of trigger-happy yahoos “trained” by watching cop shows, popping away wildly.

      Oh, and gun-nuts? Most of my country is by American standards a “gun-free zone” — and how many mass shootings have we had?

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Pratt’s arguing like a stupid idiot. The issue is not gun-free zones. The issue is access to firearms in the first place.

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          Firearms AND ammunition. Access to ammunition is as important as access to the guns.
          Restricting access to ammunition (e.g. accounted for on a round-by-round basis by the quartermaster at your target-practice range) would make it harder for those people who still have guns stock-piled at home to continue using them un-regulated.
          Not that anything of substance is likely to happen. It’s America with guns ; change is not desirable.

      • RF
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        How in the world can we know how many mass shootings there are in your country, when you fail to mention what that country is?

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      What, you don’t think a room full of six year olds packing heat constitutes a “well-regulated militia”?

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Black humor at its finest.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a good place for this quote, by L. Neil Smith (I believe the “L” stands for “libertarian wack-job”):

        “If a politician isn’t perfectly comfortable with the idea of his average constituent, any man, woman, or responsible child, walking into a hardware store and paying cash — for any rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything — without producing ID or signing one scrap of paper, he isn’t your friend no matter what he tells you.”

        • Posted December 18, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

          Wonder of Ron & Rand Paul feel that way too. If so, that’s another excellent reason to not vote for them.

    • Don
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Alas, the Second Amendment really does apply to “any random schmuck.” In DC vs. Heller, the Supreme Court recognized the Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms” for personal defense. The Court in its decision has affirmed that firearms ownership is and was all along an *existing* right that “shall not be infringed.” The language of the amendment refers to a pre-existing right, a right that the amendment pledges to protect. It does not establish the right; the right exists. The reference to “a well-regulated militia” merely points to the framers’ view of what then constituted the salient reason to preserve the right. Thus, the right to keep and bear arms was not contingent on the need to maintain a militia. The reference to militias is simply a *justification,* not a condition. That is what we’re contending with today–it’s as if a curse had been unwittingly imposed on us by the framers. They could never have anticipated the weapons technology we’re dealing with today, of course–but we’re stuck with the framers’ language.

      In Heller, the Court also recognized the rights of jurisdictions to circumscribe those Second Amendment rights as may be deemed reasonable, just as other basic rights are circumscribed. That, for now, the only avenue left for those of us who seek greater regulation and control of firearms. One place to start is to require those who buy and sell at gun shows to abide by the same rules as those who buy and sell in federally licensed stores. As it is now, anyone may sell a handgun privately in a face-to-face exchange without any kind of check at all and without incurring any liability.

      Most gun violence ultimately stems more from enduring cultural troubles (poverty, drug addiction, lack of access to health care, and so on) than simply from the easy availability of firearms. If drugs were legalized and treatment provided, and if (for example) the sums of money we have thrown away in Iraq were invested instead in public education and in our social infrastructure, in time the incidence of violent crime in America would plummet.

      In the meantime, we must push for the licensing of gun owners just as we license drivers. The NRA and other groups will fight such measures, but for now licensing is the only remotely viable control that’s left for us to institute. Adam Lanza and Jared Loughner could never have gotten a gun owner’s license and, if such a provision were in place, could not have practiced marksmanship at gun ranges. And if Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter (who lied on his ATF form 4473) had been required to present a license, he could not have purchased the semi-autos he used to kill 32 students. Nor could the Aurora, Colorado, shooter. Licensed owners will have passed written and practical tests, just like drivers, that serve to establish their sanity and their capability in handling and maintaining firearms and their ability to store them securely in the home. This is the most realistic place to start. Until we can institute just this much in the way of regulation, truly, little else will be practicable.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        “Most gun violence ultimately stems more from enduring cultural troubles”

        I grow weary of the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” trope. The existence of additional contributing factors in no way removes the obvious fact. Without high power weaponry people can’t kill people as easily. Poverty, and the other items you list, should be addressed. But that should not stop us from addressing the clear and obvious fact that restricted access to guns cannot help but reduce the level of slaughter that we are living through.

        • Don
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Agreed. Guns kill people, no question. That is, violent or deranged people with ready access to guns kill people. That’s why, for starters, the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines must be reimposed. All the same, the underlying social conditions that broadly lead to gun violence must be addressed far more effectively than they’re being addressed today.

          • JBlilie
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            Guns kill more people, faster. That is their raison d’etre.

            Why can we not recognize this and decide that they have no place in a normal, civil society?

            If the killer has to use a knife of a hammer, it’s a lot slower and they have to come to immediate grips with their victims. There’s a much better chance to stop them.

            And there’s no such thing as a drive by bludgeoning or knifing.

            • Scott near Berkeley
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

              …or, death by stray bullets. I think &Ben really touched on all the salient points.

              Another analogy might be race cars. There is no need to drive one on the street, and they are not built for anything but transporting one person very fast. Their use is restricted by licensing, to tracks, definitely off-road compared to other drivers. Just as there are other means of defending oneself (I keep a Samoan war club near my bed, but the telephone is probably going to be more effective, and used first) there are other ways to get from A to B, however enamored you might be of your dragster or Formula Ford vehicle. Own it,sure, but only for use at a shooters’ club.

              The Remington adv. for the assault weapon used in the Sandy Hook slaughter is making the rounds on the internet. A picture, and the slogan “You just got your “Man” license back”. Disgusting.

              • Matt G
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

                This is what manhood means to them. Pretty pathetic….

          • Posted December 24, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            I grow weary of the assumption that all of these shooters are “crazy,” i.e. psychotic. I was on the faculty of Nursing when Robert shot and 3 of my colleagues who had failed him. Robert was not “crazy” by the DSM-IVxis I classifications. How do you classify the professional killers – some of whom become mercenaries so they can kill people they do not know & be paid for it. Loefner in AZ is certainly schizophrenic — but very few schizophrenics kill or injure anyone. And the mental health system is certainly underfunded — but many people refuse treatment because, so far as they are concerned, they are OK, everyone else is a threat — sort of like the many gun nuts in the survivalist gangs in Montana & other places. Were the members of the KKK “crazy”? Or just very very evil? Where do you draw the line?

      • Tulse
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        They could never have anticipated the weapons technology we’re dealing with today, of course–but we’re stuck with the framers’ language.

        But if we’re going to be all originalist, let’s be all originalist, and only allow the weapons that were available to the Framers. Mass murder is much more difficult with muzzle-loading flintlocks.

        • thh1859
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          Impeccable logic — seriously.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        The Court has erred and overturned itself in the past. There’s no reason it couldn’t do so again today.

        And, even if the court wouldn’t, even if your interpretation of the original intent of the Second is correct (and I don’t agree with you that it is), all that means is that we need another Amendment to fix things. It most emphatically does not mean that we’re stuck with what, if your interpretation was correct, turned out to be something as undesirable for a modern civilization as eighteenth-century notions of medical care.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Don
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

          Ben, I do believe the court was correct in interpreting the amendment’s infelicitous syntax. There isn’t much room for argument there, unfortunately. Nonetheless, of course you’re right in saying we have a good method of addressing the framers’ inadvertent errors in composition, and we probably should try to use it. All the same, it would be extremely difficult to revise the Second Amendment, particularly in view of the well-entrenched opposition in many parts of the country to what would be constraining changes in the amendment’s language. Realistically, I’m afraid we’re a long way from a time when it might be possible to persuade three quarters of the state legislatures to approve any effective modification.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

            So, here’s a serious question for you:

            How many more people have to die in mass shootings before you think either that entrenched opposition will give in or to sufficiently steel the resolve of the regulation proponents to overcome the opposition?

            Would a few dozen more Newtowns do it, or maybe just one or two? How about if somebody opened fire in an airport lobby before going through security? Maybe a postal worker with a silencer killing hundreds of little old ladies in a single day during the course of his rounds? Would that be enough?

            Oh — hey! I know! What if we gave a bunch of machine guns to a bunch of six-year-olds and turned them loose at the NRA headquarters! Would that be enough?

            b&

            • Don
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

              As I say, a constitutional remedy is probably worth going for, never mind the opposition. Then we’ll begin to discover the reprehensible answers to those questions.

            • Tulse
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

              What if we gave a bunch of machine guns to a bunch of six-year-olds and turned them loose at the NRA headquarters! Would that be enough?

              If you want to see someone screw with heads of the gun lobby, just look up the Arm the Homeless campaign. It was a hoax, alas, but it really seemed to freak out the Right, and revealed that gun owners aren’t so much in favour of freedom for all as privlege for few.

              • Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

                Wow. That’s…that’s actually fucking brilliant.

                I do think I shall now begin to counter NRA apologetics with suggestions that Second Amendment rights be treated similarly to Miranda rights, with free firearms provided at government expense to those who cannot afford them.

                Thank you!

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Diane G.
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                Thank you, Tulse & Ben! Wonderful ‘reframing.’

        • Gary W
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          all that means is that we need another Amendment to fix things.

          Oh is that all.

          Amending the Constitution is extremely difficult. Given the enormous weight of popular and scholarly opinion favoring an individual right to possess firearms, I see no basis for thinking that amending the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment or to preclude an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment is remotely feasible politically or will be for the forseeable future.

          • Don
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            +1

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        I think that the 5 Supreme Court justices who subscribed to the point of view they expressed in “Heller” are wrong – so do the four Justices who voted against it. The Supreme Court has reversed itself numerous times in the past. It can do so again. That would go a long way toward changing gun laws in individual States. All that requires is 1)a good case aimed at reversal of the decision, 2) targeting the most flexible of the five to rethink the decision (which may be Roberts – though Kennedy takes great delight in being the “swing” vote — what power!) 3) Get the Court to hear the case challenging the majority decision in “Heller” – they can always simply refuse, saying they have decided it already. That might require getting those who opposed the “Heller” decision to pressure Roberts and Kennedy.

        • Posted December 18, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          Great. Think there’s any chance of setting up a petition drive to get that amendment changed? How about it, Amend.org?

    • debaser71
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      No. The 2nd is to limit the power of the government over the people. It says that since the government needs all these arms (to ensure the state’s own free state status on the world stage), the people need arms too, to ensure the government doesn’t become tyrannical over the people.

      IMO when one goes on about disregarding the 2nd then they are also paving the way to disregard the 1st, the 4th, etc.

      • lamacher
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Whichever interpretation one flaunts, let the ‘right to bear arms’ limit the arms available to the citizenry at the time of the writing of the ‘sacred’ constitution: muzzle-loading, single shot muskets and early rifles. That would curtail the ability of a lunatic to kill kids and anyone else.

        • fred
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          Ok, then let’s limit the 4th amendment protections to only those dwellings that use construcitons available in the 18th century.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Are you seriously telling me that you think the US military would have even a remote chance of turning its might against the civilian population?

        Let’s even pretend for a moment that the military was united in this dystopian fantasy of yours, and that all soldiers were willing to turn their weapons inward and open fire and none chose to stand with their families against the rogue military.

        Have you not been paying attention to the news? What good has all our overpowering might done us in Afghanistan?

        Are you really going to try to suggest that the American public would fail where a small bunch of backwards hicks in the middle of Bumfuckistan have succeeded?

        We don’t need small arms to protect us against the US military. Hell, we don’t even need any weapons at all.

        All we need is to go to all the schools and nursing homes, link arms with the kids and the grannies, and walk down the street singing songs. And those of you in the back need to keep marching and singing, even over the sound of the bullets and the screams of those us in the front.

        So cut it out with your adolescent Rambo fantasies. You’re proposing a fatally flawed solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, and people are dying useless deaths because of it.

        b&

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

          +1

        • JBlilie
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          Well said, Ben.

        • microraptor
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          By the very nature of the scenario, any occurrence of the US military attacking the US civilian population would require a complete disregard for war crimes, which is something that’s constrained the US military in Afghanistan.

          Also, in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military was fighting people who were used to living in conditions that are appallingly bad by US standards. Here, 90% of the potential insurgents will have surrendered by the end of the fourth week without access to football games, NASCAR, and cheap beer.

          Not that I actually find the above scenario the slightest bit realistic.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          “All we need to do…”

          Yeah, like that’s not a hurdle that dwarfs action on gun control.

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          Why would the US military be a threat? Who would be controlling them and targeting the people? And why? Why kill all your voters and customers?

          Through big business and a strong lobby in government: provide a high sugar diet to addict and satiate into a stupor, limit education, increase religious belief, allow them to have firearms – and you have all the control of the population you could want, shooting each other up into the bargain just to keep them on their toes against communism. Any serious intellectual opposition can be tackled by a strong secret service. And make bucket loads of money and live in luxury, convince the people of trickle down and the American dream.

          But that’s not likely to happen is it.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

            Why would the US military be a threat?

            You make clear some of the reasons why they wouldn’t, but that’s the fantasy that the gun rights advocates always fall back to when regulation is proposed. They point out that the prime motivation of the Framers in putting forth the Second was to provide the citizenry a way to rebel against the Federal government should it follow in the footsteps of King George, and they insist that that’s why we must not do anything to restrict access to weapons that would let a civilian force go toe-to-toe with the US Armed Forces.

            I don’t think there’s any sort of exaggeration or hyperbole in that preceding paragraph or anything that a gun nut would disagree with, though I’m sure they wouldn’t phrase it just like that. But I also think the way I just phrased it makes clear just how batshit fucking insane that position really is.

            It was probably a good idea in the Eighteenth Century. Its utility as an idea became questionable with the Civil War. The advent of chemical weapons in the First World War made it obsolete; nuclear weapons made it absurd; and Ghandi’s and King’s discoveries of the effectiveness of civil disobedience made it irrelevant.

            Cheers,

            b&

          • geoffboulton
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:29 am | Permalink

            I would put another argument for why the US government isn’t a threat. Tyranny is a result of lust for power and/or money. The top 1% in the US already owns nearly half of the wealth and, through direct or indirect involvement, pretty much owns the political system. A system in which key political positions are almost impossible to obtain without huge financial investment. They already have much of the power and much of the money. Tyranny has already taken over without a single shot being fired, behind a smoke screen of ‘democracy’. What has the 99% movement really achieved apart from popularising a slogan? Incidentally, this is the same ‘democracy’ that the US wants to export to other countries, believing it’s doing them a favour? It’s hardly surprising that so many of them resist so fiercely.

        • DV
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          +1

      • Scott near Berkeley
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        I really disapprove of “slippery slope” arguments, because it never works that way…ever. Maybe if you are Hitler’s Germany devouring Czechoslovakia, a little leads to a lot, but otherwise, no. Just as the Constitution no longer regards counting “slaves” as 3/5ths of a citizen-human, the 2nd Amendment can be re-tooled, so that it refers to the rights of State Militias, say, to bear arms, and specifically prohibit individuals from owning weapons: all weapons would have to be owned by Militias, and you could join one if you were a gun nut.

        Right now, our whole society is being held hostage to fear, and the absurdly gigantic lethality of bullet-firing weapons. My wife never lets me honk, fearing that the other driver will pull out a Glock-9, if he’s had a bad day, and I’m the “last straw”.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Times change. So do laws and Constitutions. Madison, who wrote the Bill of Rights as memoranda, would be appalled to see how it has been stretched and distorted. Slavery was legal when the Constitution & the Bill of Rights were written & ratified. The 13th Amendment changed that; the 14th changed it further. Originally only white male property owners were enfranchised. That has changed. The 19th gave women the vote. It has also been changed by Supreme Court interpretations — like Dred Scott — which were subsequently reversed. The Constitution & the Bill of Rights are not written in stone — as has been demonstrated repeatedly in the few short years since the Bill of Rights was ratified (1791).

      • moarscienceplz
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        OK Debaser,

        Please promise me you’ll have a cameraperson on site when you try capture Fort Bragg. Your cache of automatic guns against a single attack helicopter should be quite an entertaining show.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:54 am | Permalink

          I feel impelled to point out that the US Gummint owns Predator drones, F16s and nuclear weapons, so quite obviously by the Second Amendment any private citizen with enough cash must be legally able to own those things too. Or am I missing something…?

    • RF
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      “The Second Amendment makes it clear that it applies to “well-regulated militias.””
      That statement is utter nonsense, and exhibits a blindness to anything that contradicts your views.

      “If you want to carry a sidearm, that’s fine, but you must pass the same physical and mental examinations as an officer and on the same schedule, as well as any and all range and safety tests the officer is required to pass. And anything that would get an officer cashiered would revoke your right to carry said sidearm.”
      Do only officers carry sidearms? Should people who engage in fellatio not be allowed to carry guns? Should an amputee not be allowed to carry a gun? Do you truly not realize how ridiculous this is?

      “A school shooting like this would result in the permanent end of whatever militia sponsored it (wittingly or otherwise), the blacklisting of its members, and criminal prosecutions for many.”
      So, was the army disbanded after the Fort Hood shooting? Who other than Hasan has been charged? Do you even bother thinking before posting?

      And what in the world is your point in citing Afghanistan? Surely Afghanistan shows that an armed populace can be an effective counterweight to the US military.

  4. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to admit that one has fault in something, and much more so when it comes to the deaths of innocents. These idiots in the GOA are desperate to ignore the fact that their selfish desires have caused harm and must blame anything and anyone but themselves. They must delude themselves into thinking that children and teachers could use guns to defend themselves when a battlefield of guns used by the inexperienced would cause even more deaths with a hail of lead going both ways.

    I enjoy shooting guns and I’m good at it. However, I do not need a gun and I especially do not need a gun that is expressedly meant for killing humans as fast as one can. The only people who might need such guns are the military and law enforcement and then only on a very limited basis. I’d suggest that we ship all of these GOA nincompoops to some place like Somalia where guns are popular and law isn’t. Let them actually live in a land where anyone can shoot anyone else. I’m sure these poseurs would soon whimper to come back to the relatively safe United States.

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      There’s the problem: a certain type of American (and there’s a god-awful lot of that type) are oblivious to anything that goes on beyond their borders; that many otherwise culturally-similar democratic countries have strict gun control (and while we’re at it, socialized healthcare, and massive public commitment to local transit and intercity rail transportation) and are very pleasant and free places to live.

      • NWalsh
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        +1

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Why keep bringing up other countries? They don’t have a 2nd Amendment guaranteeing the right of individuals to carry arms for their protection. And that means semiautomatic weapons, which is what an assault rifle is.

        • microraptor
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          Actually, for a firearm to meet the definition of “assault rifle” it needs to be capable of selective firing (able to select between semi-automatic and burst or fully automatic mode). And even a semi-automatic version of an assault rifle, like the AR-15, is serious overkill for personal defense in the US- there’s absolutely no reason a citizen should need that kind of clip size, firing rate, or effective range for any self defense situation.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            There have been many different definitions of “assault rifle” in use over the years. I do believe that some legal ones have been so silly that a .22 bolt-action rifle with camouflage paint over a metal stock would qualify as an assault rifle whilst an AK-47 coated in hot pink fingernail polish would not…but that particular extreme example might be an apocryphal exaggeration.

            Regardless, I don’t think there’s much need to distinguish firearms based on style, and rather only on basic properties such as rate of fire, how many rounds it can fire before a reload is necessary (and how long it takes to reload), overall dimensions, how far the shots go with what kind of penetrating ability, and that sort of thing.

            In other words, I don’t care if the propellant is gunpowder or compressed air or an electromagnetic pulse and I don’t care what the projectile is made of; something that’ll punch a hole through 1/8″ steel at 100′ should be treated differently from something that bounces off skin at a few yards, regardless of what the stock is made of.

            Cheers,

            b&

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          Antonin Scalia, the ultimate textualist, wrote the majority opinion in 2008’s DC v Heller.

          Most 2nd Amendment absolutists celebrated the ruling without actually reading it – even though it is a very short decision.

          Paragraph 2 says:
          “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”
          http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html

          It most definitely is Constitutional to ban semi-automatic weapons.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            thanks for presenting us with the text of Heller

  5. mattpenfold
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    The last year for which data is available, 39 people were murdered using firearms in England and Wales. If the rate was the same as in the US, that figure would have been over 1700. Which is actually more than double the total number of murders in England Wales from ANY cause.

    The relative difference in the difficulty of obtaining firearms and ammunition is unlikely to be totally coincidental.

    The US also has more children killed using firearms, murders and accidents, than any other developed country.

  6. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    “And I don’t care what the Supreme Court says; there is simply no need for citizens to possess handguns, semiautomatic or otherwise.”

    I am 100% behind this and always have been.

    • mattpenfold
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      I read in The Observer yesterday that in many US states it is quite legal to own .50 calibre weapons.

      It is just crazy.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        .50 calibre weapon

        Enlighten us with a civilised country’s approach to domestication of artillery : is this what you’d use to kill a gnat, a pigeon, a wolf, a person, a charging bull elephant in a kindergarten playing field, a Humvee, or a main battle tank?

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          It straddles the border between a hand-held and a mounted weapon.

          That monster handgun you see in action movies like The Matrix, the Desert Eagle, comes in a .50-cal version. There are .50-cal bolt-action hunting rifles for big game, and almost-indistinguishable weapons are a favorite of snipers. WWII machine gun nests, with belt-fed guns, were .50-cal. If you see a Humvee or something similar with a machine gun on top of it, that’s very likely a .50 calibre weapon.

          A .50-cal round will go through an unarmored vehicle like tissue paper and is effective against light armor. It won’t even scratch the paint on an M1-A1 tank.

          You do not want to be anywhere downrange of such a weapon.

          b&

        • morkindie
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          My father owned a .50 muzzle loading rifle that he hunted dear with.
          One loud boom, lots of smoke and a large hole in something.
          The .50 used in the military is supposed to be an Anti Material weapon.
          Read as, “long range sabotage”. But I think they actually use it to shoot people through walls and lightly armored vehicles.

          • gravelinspector
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink

            But I think they actually use it to shoot people through walls and lightly armored vehicles.

            There were enough people killed in the 1970s “Troubles” in Ulster by soldiers deliberately or accidentally firing through brick walls or (multiple) cars that it is obvious that the standard NATO round (is that 7.62mm? a bit over a quarter of an inch, assuming that .50 is a calibre in inches) is perfectly capable of achieving these effects.
            I would ask my friend “RSM Gorgeous George” from “2 Para” (and we all know what that means!), who used to be a sniper, what he used. Unfortunately he died of cancer a couple of years ago (thankfully it was quick).

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 2:08 am | Permalink

          For a main battle tank you need something like a GAU-8 30mm rotary cannon (and preferably an A-10 Warthog to carry it).

          It has the huge advantage, if you wish to take out schoolchildren, that you wouldn’t even need to break into the school – just set the thing up in a parking lot across the street, give it a ten-second burst – job done.

          (The only reason I dare even mention this on da Internetz is that the chances of some psycho actually being able to get his hands on one is virtually nil…)

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

            “…the chances of some psycho actually being able to get his hands on one is virtually nil…”

            Don’t be too sure…

            • gravelinspector
              Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
              “…the chances of some psycho actually being able to get his hands on one is virtually nil…”

              Don’t be too sure…

              My thoughts entirely.Which is exactly why I chose to not post my recipe for causing the evacuation of any major city centre I choose to pick upon. (Besides, I don’t want to tip off “The Authorities”.)

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      If citizens were restricted to owning one muzzle loading flintlock rifle (as was the typical militia armament when the Second Amendment was written) then the Second Amendment could be honoured but the deaths significantly reduced.

      • debaser71
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        The people who wrote the 2nd Amendment said, “arms” not old fashioned musket styled weapons.

        • Tulse
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

          The people who wrote the 2nd Amendment didn’t know about the advances in technology. Or are you in favour of citizens owning nuclear bombs as well?

          • debaser71
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

            The 2nd Amendment says what it says. I don’t really want to argue “gun control” or snarky hypotheticals about grandma owning nukes.

            • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              ah, the usual answer of someone who has lost an argument. Suddenly, you don’t want to argue about it anymore. How unsuprising.

              • debaser71
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

                Let my upcoming silence be viewed as a “not worth bothering” rather than admission of any supposed “losing of an argument”.

                /carry on

              • Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

                Oh, of course. By *all* means. Always “not worth bothering” if you are losing, eh?

              • RF
                Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

                Unless you seriously think that the First Amendment does not apply to internet communications, then you recognize that the “argument” that the Second Amendment applies only to technology then available is completely idiotic, and really not worth bothering with. Just because you come up with some moronic pseudo-argument that you can’t possibly seriously believe is valid, and people don’t think it’s worth explaining just how stupid the argument is, doesn’t mean you’ve “won”. This is borderline trolling.

            • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

              Sorry to hear that, because the 2nd says, “arms,” not, “guns.” And it’s often been interpreted to mean that private citizens have the right to their own warships, complete with canon.

              Ever heard of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties?

              Any argument that’s valid for restricting private ownership of a Minuteman II is equally valid for restricting private ownership of an M16, a Beretta M9, or anything interchangeable with either.

              Logically, you simply can’t have it both ways. Either grandma gets to add an R-29 to her collection to put in the case next to her 36-pound long gun, or we’re equally justified in restricting her right to own an AR-15 or a Colt .45.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

                No.

                The meaning of “arms” was not “armaments”. Cannons, for example, were stored in locked armories in Colonial times.

                Grandma with a nuke in her snood is not a relevant scenario.

                You know, the Supremes just made a pretty explicit ruling that the 2nd amendment protects the rights of individuals to carry guns and pistols for their personal protection. Including semiautomatic weapons, like assault rifles.

                All this liberal saber-rattling(!) (like “I don’t care what the Second Amendment says, I want guns outlawed…”) will do that is of any consequence, is to help batshit Republicans get elected.

                Personally, I care many orders of magnitude more about the billions of people and millions of species which will perish due to global warming because of those batshit Republicans elected on this gun control issue, than I do about the relatively tiny numbers of people slaughtered by crazy people on rampages with guns.

                Do we need to hand Republicans their election bids on silver platters because of a compulsive need to launch well-meaning but ultimately quixotic assaults on Constitutionally-protected rights?

              • Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

                Roger,

                A) Overton Window.

                ii) All the headlines today are about prominent politicians — Obama last night and Senator Manchin this morning — shifting their views away from permissiveness and towards regulation.

                If you think liberal positions on gun control are going to result in conservative victories, especially after the way the Republicans got their clocks cleaned in last month’s elections and how Boehner is already backing down on the budget and in the wakes of the aftermaths of Sandy and Sandy Hook, then you’re pretty far out of touch with the current political scene.

                That pendulum has swung, and it’s coming back fast the other way. Now would be a great time to jump on board and give it an extra push in the right direction.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • RF
                Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

                I find it difficult to believe that you are so stupid as to think that if there any limitations on a right, then all restrictions are legitimate.

          • gravelinspector
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            I’ve always wanted to have some Family Nukes since reading ‘Dune’ ; those and the sandworms were by far the most interesting ideas in (what I do recognise as) the SF story.
            I just wished I’d not bothered with reading any of the sequel books.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

            They also didn’t know about infrared spying. Presumably since they didn’t know about it at the time, the 4th amendment is no debarment to the government constitutionally peeking inside everyone’s house because they’re bored.

            And listening to everyone’s phone conversations shouldn’t present you with any problem at all either. After all, the founders knew nothing of telephony.

            Presumably, since lethal injection and the electric chair were unknown to the founders, in states where they still execute people, they have to stop using either method and return to either hanging or shooting, right?

            Since cameras and television were unknown to the founders, I expect that if the government decides to outlaw all television broadcasts by CNN, MSNBC or other news organizations, you’ll not bother invoking the constitution because, you know, shit, man, if the founders didn’t know about technology, it’s not protected by the constitution.

            You know, that same constitution that says its binding interpretation is to be decided by the Supreme Court. Curious that when people dislike an opinion of the court is the precise moment they show up to start talking about what the constitution really means – all the while ignoring that on its own terms it means exactly what the Supreme Court says it means – and that this can only change if and when the Supreme Court changes its mind, or the constitution is amended.

            Oh right. Because what it says is important only to the extent that you agree with it. If you disagree with it, well, naturally you’re right.

            Don’t like it? Fine. Do the work and get it amended. Don’t like the SC’s ruling on what it means? Tough shit. They’re not there to arbitrate what law is wise or unwise – only to say what the law is.

    • musubk
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I carry a large caliber revolver on my hip when hiking in the Alaskan bush for bear defense, and a .22 semiauto in the backpack for taking small game if needed. I probably don’t *need* either of them, just like I don’t *need* to carry a cold weather sleeping bag and candles in my trunk during winter, but it’s serious peace of mind. Whether you agree with that being enough reason to allow them, you at least have to see there are reasons for handguns beyond ‘hur dur I’m gonna shoot me some gangsters / black helicopters’.

      • microraptor
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Carrying a large caliber revolver when hiking in Alaska to protect yourself from bear attack is reasonable, but most people in the US don’t live in a region where they’re likely to have an encounter with Ursus arctos.

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

          So, carrying a weapon to fend off a bear attack is reasonable. In 2008, in the United States and Canada there were 3 fatal bear attacks (none in Alaska I note).

          In 2008, in the United States alone there were 5,306 fatal human attacks (generally called murders), none of which involved an assailant using a firearm. Carrying a firearm to fend off such a human attack is, well, quite obviously entirely unreasonable.

          Seems like an intellectually defensible, logically cogent line of reasoning you have there to me. Totally legit.

          • microraptor
            Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t say anything about not carrying a gun at all. I said that a 50 caliber revolver was an appropriate gun to have when you were somewhere were you were actually at risk of being attacked by a bear. As an anti-human defense, a 50 caliber revolver is serious overkill because if you actually had to shoot someone to defend yourself, you could reasonably expect that a bullet from a much smaller and less powerful pistol or revolver would be just as effective at stopping them while less likely to punch through the person or the wall behind them and becoming a threat to a bystander.

  7. Griff
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    If the UK had similar access to weaponry as the US, every Friday and Saturday night in the big cities would be like the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

    • Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Only if there was a football (soccer) game on.

      Btw, a few years ago I visited some English relatives. One lives out in a very rural area, where budget cuts have virtually eliminated local police forces.

      People are breaking into homes and injuring people like nobody’s business and she and her neighbors were terrified. She said folks are finding their father’s and grandfather’s old shotguns in their attics and leaving them loaded and within easy reach.

      • Griff
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        It’s frequently the case that one individual is responsible for a huge amount of crime in an area. We occasionally get stories of homeowners injuring or killing burglars with shotguns but they are rare.

  8. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    It is not the case that the majority of Americans own guns or that the majority of Americans support unrestricted access to guns. Much of this comes from non-scientific polls (like the recent one from Gallup, which I suspect was funded by the gun industry). The General Social Survey shows that only 30% of American households (individual ownership is much lower) have a gun. Further, 73% of Americans are in favor of gun control. Rational people need to use this information to confront the myth of NRA/ gun nut dominance.

    • freegrazer
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      If you want to talk about reality, it’s being in a neighborhood in my are of the country during new years eve, where me and my family huddled afraid of possible stray bullets while it seemed every household around us fired off enormously large amounts of rounds at midnight many among them being automatic weapons and in fact, they did end up shooting out the transformer and causing the entire neighborhood to be without power for.about 10 hours in the cold. Now, we have moved to the country, where yesterday, it sounded like someone was shooting a canon in the area behind our 50 acres. Every weekend, people come down and shoot guns at who knows what and 100% of the people I know own several guns. These people will hide their guns and never give them up willingly, how will we ever get all the guns back that have already been released in the population and people have stockpiled ammo. You may think Americans are stupid, but there is no end to their creative resourcery when it comes to something they really want.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Can you get to a border crossing and apply for asylum? Sounds like you should be making plans.

        • freegrazer
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

          I think you are kidding, but I’m not really sure. I live in the midwest, are you American?
          I’m just trying to point out that here in the midwest most people do have guns, and in fact, I don’t know of any who don’t, I’m sure they exist, but that is my only way of doing “polls”
          to come up with an idea of percentages. I just question the realistic effectiveness of making laws to ban guns, considering the overwhelming number that already exist among the general population, and realizing that the technology is already out there, people will find a way to make their own guns. In America there is a mindset, we have a right to bear arms, we have always had this mindset, it’s hard to erase that after over 200 years.

          • gbjames
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            I live in the midwest and I know a lot of people who don’t own guns. I don’t own one, unless you count an 1863 Civil War era Springfield rifle that is useless as a weapon but makes a nice wall hanging.

            My answer to the question of “this mindset” is… so what? Mindsets can be changed. The place to begin is to demand that politicians stand up for the right of citizens to live peaceful lives, free of fear that some neighbor will take it in his head to make history and go down in a blaze of gunfire.

            • freegrazer
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

              Ok, would love to see you change peoples minds, if it’s that easy, why is it such a controversy and why are people fighting so hard for their 2nd? My point here was that people from countries where this right never took hold have had success and improvement in gun violence cases, but it will not be that easy in the US because once people feel they have rights and freedoms, they will fight to the death for them. Try talking to anyone you know who does have guns and see how easy they will give them up. You can say whatever you want but that’s the nice thing about reality and experience, I know what I know and have seen with my own eyes, these are not statistics or claims made up by others with
              an agenda, these are the facts and no spin or arguement can change it.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

                The place to _start_ is to admit that there is a discussion to be had, that there is a real problem to be solved, and that incapacitating platitudes like “now is not the time to discuss this” need to be stopped.

          • Scott near Berkeley
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            When I lived in the California Sierras, due east of Sacramento (you could see the lights) the report of weapons, semi-automatic as well as single shot occurred regularly. Heck, my next-door neighbor used a shotgun to cut mistletoe off his oak trees! (true!). Another neighbor (75 yrs old) came onto my property with his rifle, because he thought I was “out of town” and was sure I was a trespasser! Certainly, these people would bury their weapons for six months, to escape any confiscation (and, I always challenge people who say, “(Insert politician here) has a plan to confiscate your guns!!” Never would work.) Nonetheless, eventually, the proliferation would stop. If we had this conversation 20 years ago, Sandy Hook would never have happened. So, rather than argue the language of the Second Amendment, repeal and replace.

            Look, dynamite used to be available in hardware stores. There were no “cats” or backhoes 100 years ago. But times have changed. Too many people. It also used to be a Christmas Day tradition, for the men to go out and shoot =every=bird= on the wing they could spot, all day long.

            • Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

              Certainly, these people would bury their weapons for six months, to escape any confiscation

              Fine by me. (And, clearly, you’re not upset much by it, either.)

              I’m not so much concerned by rural gun ownership as by urban gun ownership. Hell, I’d even be willing to grant sweeping exceptions to gun laws for firearms more than x miles away from n people.

              For that matter, I’d even be happy to grandfather in all existing guns…

              …but only if all transfers of ownership from here on out required documentation, and if such transfers were strictly and appropriately regulated.

              So, if you want to bury your gun out back so the gubmint doesn’t take it away from you, fine. But you’ll never be able to sell it unless you let the gubmint register it within the grace period, and you’ll only be able to buy a new gun if you pass whatever regulatory qualification we settle on.

              Of course, I’d further regulate the sale of ammunition to only those with a current firearms license; require all gun smiths to be licensed; and yank a smith’s license if he serviced an unlicensed weapon.

              There are lots of legitimate reasons to own all sorts of firearms, and we shouldn’t stop people from legitimately owning legitimate firearms for such legitimate reasons.

              But it also isn’t hard to demonstrate such legitimacy, as well as competence to bear proper responsibility commensurate with the danger.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

                If I was a criminal I would happily pay extra for one of those backyard-buried unregistered and untraceable guns of yours.

                I’ll meet you at the old oak tree behind where the gravel pit used to be. We’ll talk turkey.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        20-some years ago I moved to the rural Midwest and felt at first the same way you do. Having subsequently gotten to know my neighbors, I have had to modify my opinions.

        Also, law enforcement response out here can be very slow; there have been times I’ve called my armed neighbors first to report suspicious activity; then the cops.

        The landscape has changed with the arrival of meth-heads.

  9. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    “Had a few of us been available with guns at the Newton school, most of the victims might still be alive.”
    With tighter gun control, all of the victims might still be alive.

    • Tulse
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Yes, the logic of their argument confuses me. “If only people were allowed to bring tigers to school, they could protect themselves from psychos who bring tigers to schools.”

    • dwisker
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      “Had a few of us been available with guns at the Newton school, most of the victims might still be alive.”

      If the shooter’s mother had owned guns, then the massacre would never have even started.

      • RedSonja
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        The shooter’s mother DID own guns. It was her guns that he used.

        • dwisker
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Exactly.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Are you making a bad joke or are you that ignorant of the situation? I’m confused by this comment.

        • dwisker
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Are those the only two possibilities?

          • gbjames
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            Other explanations are welcome.

            • dwisker
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

              That maybe my comment on the idea that more guns could have prevented the violence, and the sad irony of the mother’s gun ownership not saving her or the other victims was too subtle for you to understand?

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

                I’m perfectly capable of understanding subtlety. And I’m sure you are able to understand how comments on websites are sometimes made by people who are clueless. There was nothing in the comment to help distinguish.

        • RF
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

          It seems to me that a moment of inattention that resulted in dwisker writing “If the shooter’s mother had owned guns instead of “If the shooter’s mother hadn’t owned guns” is rather obviously the most likely explanation.

          • gbjames
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            That is reasonable.

  10. JB
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    “And I don’t care what the Supreme Court says”

    You should. Because it means the only options to accomplish what you propose are a constitutional amendment or waiting around for a change in the Supreme Court.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Yep, but pressure can work here, too, and certainly one can pass stiffer gun-control laws that would probably pass the Supreme Court. After all, the Constitution says nothing about handguns, concealed carry, or semiautomatic weapons.

      • Larry Gay
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Or high-capacity magazines. Good hunters only need one or two cartridges.

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          If the five-shot bolt-action M1903 Springfield rifle was good enough for the Doughboys to kick the Kaiser’s troops out of France, one would hope that it’d be good enough to bring home a deer for supper.

          b&

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 18, 2012 at 2:19 am | Permalink

            I say arm the deer with automatic weapons! Let’s be fair about this, after all…

      • Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        “After all, the Constitution says nothing about handguns, concealed carry, or semiautomatic weapons.”

        Oh dear. The Constitution says nothing about the rights of gay people to get married, about the right to not have your e-mails searched without a warrant, or about the rights of atheists to seek redress for housing discrimination.

        Do you really want to go down that low road, arguing that Constitutional rights not explicitly expressed are not protected?

  11. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    “The Second Amendment to our Constitution was for an armed militia, not for citizens to carry weapons around whenever they feel like it. And I don’t care what the Supreme Court says”

    It’d be a very interesting read of history to see how well the war of independence would have gone had the British citizens (subjects as they were known then) in the colonies not have had their own firearms to resist their tyrannical government’s intolerable dictates, which led the document you’ve above cited to. You know, the legal instrument that provides it says what the Supreme Court says it says, subject to revision only by that court, or the constitution itself.

    “Of course there will still be a criminal black market in guns, but with sufficiently tough legislation that should abate.” Indeed. Just like possession of machine guns, sawed off shotguns, child porn and drugs should have abated. It’s interesting to note who winds up having them: those who elect not to be constrained by legislation.

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      In the transition of a straight-up ban, you would have an armed criminal class, sure. But an incremental ban that began by making guns less readily-available, fewer manufactured & so on, this would starve the criminals of their weapons. Decrease demand first, then outlaw them when fewer people have them.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Right. And if you listen to the oral arguments before the court in the Heller case, the point is made that it was by this means that the crown was able to for so long to abuse its subjects – by taking away their arms to resist its trespasses – as noted during the writing and enacting of the amendment in question. The framers were aware of this reality, and wrote into the constitution the means to prevent the executive from so easily mirroring the sovereign they’d just fought a war to overthrow.

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          If you think that argument is relevant in the 21st century then I suggest you come out of your underground bunker & actually pay attention to the world rather than imagining it through a warped glorification of the 18th century. We Brits will leave you alone, you have my word.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

            Right. That’s a great argument. Allow me to translate it: if you think anything other than what I think, then you need to stop thinking anything other than what I think because I’m right and you’re wrong and you should stop being wrong by agreeing that I’m right.

            Also, the fact that the Brits won’t be invading us doesn’t do away with the reasons for writing our constitution the way it was written after the colonies secured their independence. Indeed, our forbears constructed a constitution to create a government of limited, delineated powers to avoid having the tyrannical excesses of government that’d just been gotten away from.

            And the quaint sceptered isle’s desire to invade or not isn’t the universe of tyranny, and thus it’s not dispositive – even if I grant that this is at all material.

            And since this response will put me right around Jerry’s “15% rule”, I guess it’ll have to be my last comment.

            • Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

              I had typed out an incredibly sarcastic reply but you know what? It’s just not worth it & probably wouldn’t be keeping with the civility guidelines anyway. I’m glad that was your last comment, for a while at least, as this is mine for now also.

    • mattpenfold
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      I wondered how long it would take someone to turn up and claim that people should be allowed to own guns in order to depose Governments.

      I do hope you if you are serious that you think it is also OK for individuals to own not just firearms, but also all the other types of weapon possessed by the modern military. Now in the case of nuclear weapons, it might be hard for individuals to obtain them, so how about a compromise and allowing people to possess chemical and biological weapons ?

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        Right. That’s naturally a great argument considering that it’s always been the case that constitutional rights are absolute and unlimited. Except that this has never been the case, and never shall be. But hey, if slippery slope arguments to the extreme are the best you can muster, then it’s the best you can do.

        • Marta
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          Law-making is line-drawing.

          People decide how much or how little of a thing they will allow, and these limits change as people’s values change. Most people understand this–it’s why, for example, we no longer consider African Americans to be equal to two-thirds of a white, propertied, male, as originally written in the US Constitution.

          Strict readings of the 2nd Amendment would seem to prohibit regulating weapons, and yet weapons are regulated: You can’t own a live hand grenade or build and keep a bomb virtually anywhere. If we can outlaw hand grenades and pipe bombs, we can outlaw guns and magazines whose sole purpose is to kill people as rapidly as possible. Same reason. Same logic. Same 2nd Amendment.

          • Zach
            Posted December 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            It’s also why we don’t allow a majority of people to decide what’s best for everyone – we recognize that the rights of the minority can be so easily infringed on by the majority.

            In this case, I look at gun-owners as possibly being a minority whose rights are in danger of being trampled upon by an emotional mob whose passions have been stirred by recent and tragic events. The mob can be fickle.

            I think of Franklin’s quote about democracy being like two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch and that liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

            • Posted December 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

              Actually, it seems that a rather sizeable majority of gun owners favor a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The NRA is a paid lobby for gun manufacturers, who have no principles except greed.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        The claim that private gun ownership is necessary to depose a civil tyranny is further refuted by the fact that, despite our nuclear weapons, despite our fleet of dozens carriers (each of which could single-handedly defeat any non-nuclear country and even a few of the nuclear ones), despite our staggeringly overwhelming military superiority…

        …despite all that, we’re still getting our asses handed to us in Afghanistan by a bunch of backwards hicks.

        And we’re not special: every other empire in all of history has invaded Afghanistan, and every single one of them has had their asses handed to them.

        We also lost in Vietnam, despite (once again) an overwhelming military superiority. We nearly lost Iraq, too.

        Is there anybody in the pro-gun movement who doesn’t think that, even if they were stripped of their guns, that that would stop them from successfully overthrowing the UN when they come in with their black helicopters?

        They’d be perfectly justified in thinking so, too. Wars are exercises in politics, not force, and there’s no way that the US could ever be taken by force.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • RF
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          “The claim that private gun ownership is necessary to depose a civil tyranny is further refuted by the fact that… we’re still getting our asses handed to us in Afghanistan by a bunch of backwards hicks.”
          First, you are attacking a straw man. Second, how does the fact that people with guns in Afghanistan are inhibiting the US-backed Afghan government’s ability to rule a counter argument?

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      The argument about protection from a tyrannical government became outdated decades ago – arm everyone in the country and the firepower of the military still leaves them laughing. And as far as the comparison goes with drugs and the rest, you have to look to those societies where guns are outlawed, just as Jerry did. In doing so, you see vast improvement, so the analogy must fail.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        No, the analogy persists. Your ignoring of the trivial matter of whether or not the citizenry will allow itself to be disarmed doesn’t make the issue go away. Citizens in those countries are free to consent to whatever they’d like. It doesn’t thereby follow that the ones in the United States will be so agreeable to consenting to the same things as those people in other countries have been.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          They _are_ willing to consent to strictures of the 2nd – the majority is for that.

          Those that are not are, apparently, agreeable to the killing of children. And they will give the killer his guns.

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

            Most people are willing to tolerate reasonable restrictions on guaranteed rights because they recognize that a society of laws entails the balancing of competing rights and interests. I was responding to the type of dimwitted argument made by several people here that if we allows handguns, we have to also allow private ownership of nuclear weaponry and seemingly private ownership of massive chemical stockpiles.

            And I see that you’re not immune to using some silly fallacious reasoning yourself: “Those that are not are, apparently, agreeable to the killing of children.” Do go out and ask around. Talk to some gun owners (myself being one), and ask how many of us are in favor of murdering children.

            Oh, say, wait a minute! I can play this game too! Anyone who drives, or supports driving, a motor vehicle is in favor of killing tons and tons of people – somewhere around 1.2 million per year.

            There are consequences to decisions. If you’re not in favor of stopping all motorized transportation immediately, then you accept the consequence–those 1.2 million dead people per year–is a fair trade off for the oh so highly important matter of how convenient it is for you get to where you’d like to go faster and so that you will have available for your personal luxury certain items you’d otherwise have to do without.

            Yet the desire of gun owners to have chance to protect themselves (and their families) from the assault of some belligerent party is, well, problematic. I realize it’s not as important as catching the 7:30 showing of the latest movie on time, but it’s still something some silly misguided retards care a little bit about. Myself among them.

            • Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:21 am | Permalink

              “Talk to some gun owners (myself being one)”
              Noooo, really? That wasn’t coming across at all from the comments you’ve been making.

              Dammit, couldn’t keep the sarcasm out this time.
              If you can’t see how cars are different from guns in terms of the need for control (in fact, isn’t car ownership better regulated than gun ownership? I had assumed that you needed a license to have a gun in the US, but an earlier comment seems to have knocked down that assumption) then I am incredibly glad I don’t live anywhere near you or your gun.

              • Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:15 am | Permalink

                I never said that cars and guns are the same. But either the body count argument is relevant or it isn’t; you seem to argue that the number of dead people is relevant. So, which is it going to be? Is the number killed important or is it irrelevant?

                I have quite clearly argued about cost and benefit here. There are consequences to guns existing. There are consequences to cars existing. And if we’re going to be worried about body count, then it’s worth noting that more people have been killed in car crashes in the last four years than we killed of the Central Powers in the whole of WWI. More people have died just this year in car crashes than have been killed in both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

                You said that, “Those that are not are, apparently, agreeable to the killing of children.” And I’m pointing out that unless you’re willing to immediately start calling for dramatic and severe strictures on who can operate a motor vehicle, you apparently are agreeable to the killing of not less than one million people year… to maintain access to your own private convenience.

                For the record, I obviously accept the trade-off is fair considering that I continue to drive. If that’s a cost I, like yourself, am willing to accept for the sake of my own selfish desires of luxury, then I’m certainly willing to accept a far smaller cost for the sake of being possibly able to defend myself should the unfortunate befall me.

              • Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

                @Justicar
                You said that, “Those that are not are, apparently, agreeable to the killing of children.”
                No I didn’t.

                As has already been pointed out (apologies to earlier commenter, I can’t find where you said it), guns are designed to kill people. Cars are designed to transport people. The latter is a convenience, yes, and there are tests in place that one must pass in order to be able to operate one, and improper operation may cause you to lose that privilege. The former is NOT A FUCKING CONVENIENCE & improper use is remarkably similar in its outcome to ‘proper’ use.

                Sorry Jerry, trying to keep it civil but the combination of extreme selfishness & insensitivity really gets to me. I’ll stop commenting now.

              • Posted December 18, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

                J, my mistake. I missed, for some reason, that it was you responding to me and not the person to whom I had responded. No clue why.

                You wrote, “Sorry Jerry, trying to keep it civil but the combination of extreme selfishness & insensitivity really gets to me”.

                The distinction between us is that I don’t pretend my desire to drive from here to there–knowing its consequences–is anything other than what it is. Similarly, I’m aware that the existence of guns, and my right to own one, also has some downrange consequences. And neither of these will be keeping me awake tonight.

                And knowing the death cost so that you can drive around, you will still not be losing any sleep over it. Let alone over the ~50 million ADDITIONAL people who will be severely injured/maimed in those crashes for your (and my and others’) convenience.

                And you dare pretend to lecture me while you so blithely excuse away your own because, well, when it comes to what’s important to you, now it’s a different ball of wax.

    • bruce from chicago
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Oh really! The suppression by the crown wasn’t that egregious on the colonies. How bad would it had been if we never broke away from Britain? Canada and Australia really suffered being colonies, didn’t they. Would we have had a civil war? Probably not.

      • Gordon
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        I thought from the declaration that limiting movement westwards and stopping native americans being slaughtered were part of the English oppression. Maybe I misunderstood that bit.

  12. Don
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Madness. See this Opinionator essay in yesterday’s NY Times in powerful contradiction:

    “As Michel Foucault pointed out in his detailed study of the mechanisms of power, nothing suits power so well as extreme individualism. In fact, he explains, political and corporate interests aim at nothing less than “individualization,” since it is far easier to manipulate a collection of discrete and increasingly independent individuals than a community. Guns undermine just that — community. Their pervasive, open presence would sow apprehension, suspicion, mistrust and fear, all emotions that are corrosive of community and civic cooperation. To that extent, then, guns give license to autocratic government.”

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/the-freedom-of-an-armed-society/#postComment

  13. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I completely agree with that last point – I was stunned to find someone call it undemocratic to not take sensitive account of gun owners’ opinions. Why are people so prone to treating idiotic and harmful ideas so preciously as though it’s damaging to an individual’s mental health to meet with reasoned criticism? It’s so frustrating!

    Similarly, as a UK citizen, I think we have better laws, but you’ve had so long to dig yourself into a hole with so many guns, is it really possible for you to get rid of them? I’ll be surprised if I see anything of the sort in my lifetime.

  14. MKray
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Automobiles can kill an maim although that is not what they are designed for; strict licensing and regulation is accepted.

    Guns are optimized just to kill and maim; why anyone should want such things is beyond me. Objecting to their strict control seems pathological.

  15. jose
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    What is this, the wild west mentality? I’ll kill you before you kill me? Unbelievable.

    You go down that route, you’ll get an arms race, a citizen-level cold war. What you need is a gradual, consensuated disarmament roadmap like you’re doing with Russia.

  16. Footface
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    The Telegraph article says 80 gun deaths every day. That’s 3.3 an hour, not 33.

    Still horrifying, yes.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Fixed, thanks!

  17. barnabyd
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Wo sind die Tränen von gestern abend? Wo ist der Schnee vom vergangenen Jahr?.

  18. Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Second Amendment? Doesn’t the national Guard fit the requirement of a militia?

    “The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of National Guard militia…” – wiki.

    Anyway, here’s some teacher training video:

  19. Walt Jones
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I’m curious what kind of weapon the principal (refering to Rep. Gomer’s quote–misspelling intentional–in support of the GOA’s position) could have used to stop a gunman in body armor that wouldn’t have posed a greater risk to innocent people (especially when you multiply it by the number of schools in the US). Who else should be armed at the school? (In case the gunman knows to shoot the principal first.)

    • JT
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I wonder if we could provide tazers for certain employees? I know they don’t have the range of a firearm, but maybe they’d be as effective witnhout the risk of collateral damage.

    • RF
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      What word is intentionally misspelled?

  20. Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    One thing which is typically not emphasized the discussion which occurs after any gun-related massacree: The US already has gun laws. Something like 20,000 such laws, at various levels of jurisdiction (i.e. Federal, State, county, etc). And typically, nobody asks the question, “Which of the existing gun laws might have prevented this massacre, or even reduced the harm done, if that law (or ‘those laws’, if more than one) had actually been enforced?” Instead, gun-control advocates more-or-less assume that the existing gun laws just aren’t working, and so of course we need yet more gun laws to throw on the pile of 20,000-or-so gun laws which already exist.
    Well, maybe every last one of the existing pile of 20,000-or-so gun laws is useless. But if it’s a matter of the relevant already-extant laws not even being enforced in the first place, I honestly don’t see what good it can do to pass yet another gun law, to be not-enforced with all the rest of the existing not-enforced gun laws.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      And instead you more-or-less assume that the existing gun laws are just working.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        No, I don’t assume that at all. It’s pretty clear to me that the US’ existing gun laws don’t work very well. What’s not so clear to me is whether or not the US’ existing gun laws could work, if only they were enforced.

    • Walt Jones
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Which unenforced laws would have prevented the shootings in CT and those in jbillie’s 2012 Roll below?

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        That’s my point: we don’t know which of the US’ unwieldy patchwork of gun laws might actually have done some good, had it only been enforced.

        • Walt Jones
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          Easier question: which gun laws aren’t being enforced?

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            That’s the question I’ve been asking. If you know the (or even “a”) answer to that question, I’d be interested to read it. If you can provide some pointers to relevant data, that would also be good.

            • Walt Jones
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

              Sorry, I thought you were making the claim that the laws are not being enforced. I
              have heard that claim before, but never backed up with evidence.

  21. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Two points: First, a lot of the gun people seem to have missed the irony that the guns used in the CT massacre were legally owned and acquired by the murderer’s mother. She wanted them for “protection”. Didn’t do her much good, did it? She was killed with her own gun.

    Second, it strikes me that the whole Second Amendment argument could be circumvented by levying a huge tax on ammunition and its makings. If shooters had to pay $100.00 per bullet, guns wouldn’t have to be regulated at all. L

    • Marta
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      There are lots of things we could do.

      We could fingerprint owners and buyers of firearms.

      We could regulate the number and type of weapons permitted.

      We could require gun-owners to acquire insurance, the beneficiaries of which are anyone injured by the gun owned, exclusive of the owner’s immediate family.

      We could require strict testing and licensing, with continuing education to keep license current.

      We could regulate (or eliminate) gun shows.

      We could do any of these things just for starts, but what we will do is nothing.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Great ideas Marta! Thanks! Promulgate these ideas? Please?

    • jose
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Then only the top 1% could afford hunting and sports. Better to make as sure as possible only responsible people own guns regardless of how much money they have.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      She was killed with her own gun.

      … which is probably one of the more common outcomes of gun ownership.

      • Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Seriously? There are between 300 and 600 million guns in the U.S. The almost complete totality of guns and gun owners never have an untoward result.

        Of the untoward results, the statistics that I could find were not particularly helpful or could not be valued with confidence. Which is, of course, a pretty considerable problem when we try to evaluate the facts on the ground in this debate.

        There are a fair number of people being injured or killed with guns. But the numbers of folks killed by maniacs on a rampage is tiny – less than the number of people killed by bee stings or lightening strikes every year IIRC. Which is why I argue it is extremely short-sighted to make this a political issue that can help a substantial number of Republicans get elected.

        I daresay that the majority of mayhem and murder with guns is due to a mixture of drugs or alcohol, and that the majority of crime committed with guns is drug related. But I don’t know for sure – the statistics I could find with Google do not break the data down this way. And police departments, as far as I could tell, are not required to keep statistics on this, which is pretty shocking.

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t say “the most common”, I said “one of the more common”. Death (of the weapon) by rusty neglect would probably be the most common way of getting them out of circulation, assisted or combined with loss. Being used in a massacre one of the less common ways of a weapon being removed from circulation. Given the 12000-odd annual hecatomb to guns in the US, I’d think that being shot by your own gun lays between the two probabilities. Comparatively few weapons are likely to be removed from circulation as a result of direct meteorite impact (though at least one car has been, so it’s certainly not impossible).

  22. Steve
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Whenever something like this happens, the uninformed on both sides of the issue feel the need to speak. Unfortunately, both sides practice biased data selection in order to attempt to make their point. After something like this happens, there should be a 1 month moratorium on speaking or writing about it. Unlikely, but time to consider all the facts might allow for a more measured response.

    • Tulse
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      You want a “measured” response to the murder of 20 children by guns? Calls for a “measured” response are just calls for the status quo, to do nothing, to let the outrage and emotion drain away, just like every other time this sort of thing has happened. The time to do something is when we’re pissed off, so we don’t have to be pissed off in the future over yet another tragedy.

      • Steve
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Your emotional response is exactly what I’m referring to. To the non-reactive person, it should be obvious that I’m talking about a measured response to gun control not to the murder of 20 children. Are you familiar with the maxim, “Hard cases make bad law.” Look it up.

        Your inability to control yourself has caused you to misrepresent what I said. That’s ok. I can take it. BTW, doing something when one is “pissed off” rarely, if ever, works out well.

        • JBlilie
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          With all due respect, I don’t think we need a few months of repose to decide that automatics, assault rifles, and large-volume magazines are inappropriate in civil society. Or that serious training and background checks be required for gun ownership.

          How many more school shootings are really required?

          It’s been months and years since:
          Aurora, CO
          Virginia Tech
          Gabby Giffords
          Columbine
          Sihk Temple in Milwaukee
          … and so many others …

          How high must the bodies pile before we can have a measured response?

          Seriously, why is more than one required for you?

          A horrible incident like this is exactly the kind of motivation needed in the US to actually, you know, do something. Nothing else (clearly!) is going to motivate the citizenry to finally get up on their hind legs and demand a change!

          2012 roll:

          February 22, 2012—Five people were killed in at a Korean health spa in Norcross, Georgia, when a man got into an argument and opened fire inside the facility.

          February 26, 2012—Multiple gunmen began firing into a nightclub crown in Jackson, Tennessee, killing one person and injuring 20 others.

          February 27, 2012—Three students at Chardon High School in rural Ohio were killed when a classmate opened fire.

          March 8, 2012—Two people were killed and seven wounded at a psychiatric hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when a gunman entered the hospital with two semiautomatic handguns and began firing.

          March 31, 2012—A gunman opened fire on a crowd of mourners at a North Miami, Florida, funeral home, killing two people and injuring 12 others.

          April 2, 2012—A 43-year-old former student at Oikos University in Oakland, California, walked into his former school and killed seven people, “execution-style.” Three people were wounded.

          April 6, 2012—Two men went on a deadly shooting spree in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shooting black men at random in an apparently racially motivated attack. Three men died and two were wounded.

          May 29, 2012—A man in Seattle, Washington, opened fire in a coffee shop and killed five people and then himself.

          July 9, 2012—At a soccer tournament in Wilmington, Delaware, three people were killed, including a 16-year-old player and the event organizer, when multiple gunmen began firing shots, apparently targeting the organizer.

          July 20, 2012—James Holmes enters a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opens fire with a semi-automatic weapon; twelve people are killed and fifty-eight are wounded.

          August 5, 2012—A white supremacist and former Army veteran shot six people to death inside a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before killing himself.

          August 14, 2012—Three people were killed at Texas A&M University when a 35-year-old man went on a shooting rampage; one of the dead was a police officer.

          September 27, 2012—A 36-year-old man who had just been laid off from Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, Minnesota, entered his former workplace and shot five people to death, and wounded three others before killing himself.

          October 21, 2012—45-year-old Radcliffe Frankin Haughton shot three women to death, including his wife, Zina Haughton, and injured four others at a spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin, before killing himself.

          December 11, 2012—A 22-year-old began shooting at random at a mall near Portland, Oregon, killing two people and then himself.

          December 14, 2012—One man, and possibly more, murders a reported twenty-six people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, including twenty children, before killing himself.

          NOT ENOUGH OUTRAGE FOR YOU? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

          • Marta
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            +1

          • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Oct 28, 2002 Robert Flores, failed nursing student, killed three faculty members, two in a classroom where his classmates were taking an exam.He had enough ammunition with him to kill the students as well, but chose not to. He was NOT mentally ill. He was simply furious that he had failed several courses several times – for good and sufficient reasons — and was out of the program. That meant that no other U.S. program would accept him either. I was on that faculty & spent weeks with those students, counseling them & helping them hold it together. He had no need for those weapons, which he had obtained legally.

          • gravelinspector
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            Or that serious training and background checks be required for gun ownership.

            … which it seems that the owner (and first victim) of these guns had.

          • Gary W
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

            With all due respect, I don’t think we need a few months of repose to decide that automatics, assault rifles, and large-volume magazines are inappropriate in civil society. Or that serious training and background checks be required for gun ownership.

            Fully automatic weapons are already mostly illegal. Background checks are already mostly required for gun sales (though there’s a loophole for gun shows). I doubt that banning assault rifles and large-volume magazines, or requiring “serious training” for gun ownership would have more than a minimal effect on rates of gun violence (better training might even make criminal gun users more deadly).

            Various gun control measures have been enacted over the past 50 years. At least one of them (the assault weapons ban) has expired. Have any of these changes to the law had a discernible effect on the trendline of gun violence? Perhaps they have, but I haven’t seen any evidence.

          • Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

            Well, as interesting as all of that is, would you be willing to join with me to ban all travel in the United States during major holidays? Why, do you know that on holidays, hundreds of people (sometimes like half a thousand) die in crashes? Clearly, if we outlawed alcohol, ~40% of those wouldn’t have happened. And to get rid of the other ~60%, we only need to make it illegal to drive a motor vehicle for the day preceding and following any major holiday. (Thanksgiving in particular; do you know that more people die just on that holiday than all of the mass shootings in the history of the United States combined?!)

            And goodness me, the right to drive or own a car isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution (unlike arms)! And yet I somehow have never managed to find a single person who would support a nationwide ban on driving for only a couple of weeks per year. Though, it must be said, I can find people who would be happy to see alcohol be made illegal again (all of them religious though, so take it for what it’s worth I suppose).

            I don’t know why so many tens of thousands of people dying senseless deaths just to get from point A to be point B isn’t enough to get people to care about making driving illegal for a small fraction of the year.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, that is what we _typically_ do after catastrophes like hurricane Sandy: wait one month because both sides of the issue (more preventative measures vs sufficient measures, act against AGW vs not act against AGW) are “uninformed”. Because everyone is asking for “a more measured response”.

      Tell me, are gun apologists fucking nuts? Or do these guys feel privileged with religious special pleading?

      (Yes, yes, I know – these alternatives are the same thing really.)

  23. Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The scenario:

    1) Firearms are locked away for the safety of the children.

    2) Gunman enters school and starts shooting, killing many kids and teachers.

    3) Principle eventually unlocks firearms and starts to hunt down killer in school.

    4) Principle accidentally kills students, mistaking hockey sticks for guns.

    5) Perp is just about to kill himself, bringing incident to a close, when principle spots him, starts a gun fight, and wipes more kids and teachers.

    6) Principle eventually kills the killer.

    7) Some of the kids, admiring their principles heroic stand pick up the killer’s weapons.

    8) Policeman arrives and sees multiple gunmen and shoots dead the principle and gun-toting kids.

    9) That night the policeman, in anguish at his mistake, and not wanting his wife and family to go through the shame, turns his private guns on his family and himself.

    10) Neighbours hear gunshots and come out with their guns, and seeing other gunmen in the street start another gun battle.

    11) Police arrive …

    Perfect solution.

    • morkindie
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Are you writing a screenplay?
      It’s easy to construct a scenario, but that doesn’t really get us anywhere. It’s even less useful than an anecdote.

    • JBlilie
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Well, we might need more action from the Principal, rather than the principles, though our gun principles in the US are pretty messed up …

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      I followed you until about step 7 where you began entering into hyperbole. 8 is feasible, especially if they enter a building where shots were fired and you have a bunch of armed teachers hopped up on adrenaline and a bit of friendly fire ensues.

      I agree with most of this scenario because it’s the exact reason I don’t own a gun, even though I was raised around guns, and learned enough about them to know that I wouldn’t want one within a mile of my own kids. If you have a gun for home defense, and you have kids, then you have to keep it locked in a safe or a locked gun case with a trigger safety lock, which makes it useless if your home is ever invaded or if there is an intruder. You’d be better off just beating the perpetrator with the locked gun case because you wouldn’t have the time or the nerves to get the gun out and loaded. There are lots of ways to defend yourself, and one of them is not to be a threat to other people holding guns.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Poor spelling noted.

      It was intended to be hyperbole. A simple extension of the hyperbole that lies behind the suggestion that arming teachers is a solution.

      But, if you think it over the top, watch the video a few comments up. Police explaining the dangers of firearms in school; police with a suspect already under control and still an accidental discharge.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Your career in Hollywood screen-writing is ruined by your attachment to realism.

      [Point] 3)

      As I understand the reports, the principal was the first target at the school – something about trying to prevent the perp’s entry …

      [Point] 6) Principle eventually kills the killer.

      Rather assumes that the principal is comparably well-armed and a comparably good shot to the perp. Even with my very limited experience of weapons, that’s a pretty large assumption. Given the apparent ease of getting machine guns in America … that implies about an Iron Man suit and multiple Doom-esque Chain Guns per kindergarden. Lovely!

  24. JBlilie
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I’m all in favor of more gun control in the US (even though I was brought up amongst gun-toten’ NRA members.)

    My thought for the day (SARCASM TURNED UP TO 11!):

    Those poor, threatened white males in the US must retain access to assault weapons and high-volume magazines. That way they can kill more 5-year-olds before the first responders arrive! Real men really need that!

    (sarcasm off)

    Our current legal situation and culture relative to guns is shameful.

  25. eric
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Oh, and we must also insist that these criminal friendly elected officials not even try to blame gun owners and our “gun culture” for what a criminal did.

    If guns didn’t make it easier to kill people, we wouldn’t bother equipping our soldiers with them, and GOA wouldn’t be reccommending them for self-defense. The GOA’s argument is self-refuting, in the sense that their solution is only viable if we first recognize that guns make killing easier.

    Yes the criminal did the act, but the act was made easier and quicker by the gun. Removing the gun will make it more difficult and slower to kill people.

    How is this difficult to understand?

    • gbjames
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

      • Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        It is not hard to understand.

        But it is hard to square the need to try to reduce gun violence with the fact that Americans have Constitutional rights to carry and use firearms.

        I don’t know about you, but I like to protect Constitutional rights, even if I might disagree with every single outcome they protect.

        Much like how many Christians feel it is important to protect rights to non discrimination, even if they might be used to protect same-sex marriage, which these Christians oppose.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

          There was a time when slavery was a protected constitutional right. There was a time when it was constitutionally sound to deny voting to women. If the constitution needs to be changed to protect our country from this continuing slaughter, so be it. (Although I doubt that it is really true that an amendment would be required. What is required first is a political commitment to solve this problem.)

          • Zach
            Posted December 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

            That’s fair. However in those cases you were expanding the rights of others and in this case you seek to err on the side of restricting existing rights.

            • gbjames
              Posted December 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              I would err on the side of the rights of children (and many, many adults) to a life without fear of being slaughtered by crazy people with high power weapons.

              • Posted December 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

                Applause! Splendid answer! Thank you!

              • Zach
                Posted December 23, 2012 at 1:03 am | Permalink

                It sounds like you are going to live in fear regardless. My point was that the examples you gave before expanded the rights of Americans at no cost to anyone, where this issue forces us to make choices between an individual’s right to defend him/herself and the public’s need to feel safe.

                Obviously we all want to live without fear of being slaughtered, but that’s not necessarily a reason to disband the 2nd no more than it is for each of us to give up our privacy rights, rights to habeas corpus or freedom from search and seizure in the name of protecting America from terrorism.

                This seems to be the Dems version of the Patriot Act. Beware the fearmonger.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 23, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

                You are making the tired old NRA slippery slope argument. The 2nd amendment does not grant ANYONE unfettered access to ANY weapon. There are words like “well-regulated” in there, too.

                Dramatically reducing access to high-power military style weaponry is not going to lead me or the vast majority of Americans to live in fear. It will do exactly the opposite. I am not afraid of a boogie-man world without guns. And getting rid of these weapons would in no way affect habeas corpus, search and seizure, or other freedoms. It is nothing but a right wing fantasy that Mrs. Lanza’s arsenal was protecting anything more than gun manufacturer’s bottom lines.

              • Posted December 23, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

                Yes, Yes, Applause, Applause. Very well put. It’s the Negligent (IR)Responsible Assassination folks shilling for the Greedy Gun Makers. Stop them all !!

              • Zach
                Posted December 23, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

                Ok, you shouldn’t ascribe fantasies to a blanket “right wing” because that’s pure straw man. It does nothing to advance this discussion because I’m not a member of the group you are castigating. Or, at least I don’t think I am. I’m a registered Democrat, if that helps.

                My argument doesn’t make a slippery slope fallacy if the chain of related events and outcomes are demonstrable. History is rife with examples where Americans have ceded important civil liberties under the banner of public safety. Today’s spectre is gun violence but the ghosts of Christmas past have been terrorism, communism, or the war on drugs. Look at how we treated Japanese-Americans during WWII or how we are treating prisoners and detainees at Guantanamo Bay today. So, maybe I’m a left-wing civil liberties nut?

                In any case, I’m especially critical of laws that are made quickly in the wake of public tragedy. They tend to be rash, ill-considered, and ineffective.

                That leads me to my final point – since we’ve not discussed specific proposals this is going to make our discussion fruitless. Every good debate begins with an agreement of terms and a clear definition of the issue. Without that, we may be just arguing against what we think the other person means or represents.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 23, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

                One need not be a member of the NRA to repeat tired NRA propaganda.

                How is it NOT a slippery slope argument to say (if I may paraphrase)”We can’t reduce access to military-style weapons without threatening a lot of other (unspecified) freedoms?” It is the essence of a slippery slope argument. What is the demonstrable horror that is going to result from removing the ability for people to purchase guns with clips that contain a dozen or more bullets?

                Feel free to define your terms.

              • Zach
                Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

                No, and one need not be a right wing nut to support the Second Amendment. I’m surprised and shocked to learn that the NRA has been arguing the civil rights angle. I think they are going for the slippery slope angle, but that’s probably only because Senator Feinstein and others say that they would actually like to ban all guns and an assault weapons ban is just an opening salvo (pardon the pun, if you will) in their assault on guns.

                But that’s not what I’ve been arguing. I never said there was a causal relationship between restricting gun ownership and other Constitutional freedoms. Rather, I’ve pointed out that America has a rich history of rash policy making in the wake of tragedy or crisis. I have specified the freedoms that have been breached as a result of, say, the Patriot Act that followed the horrific events of 911. First amendment, fourth, fifth…take your pick.

                The burden of proof is on you because you are arguing for a change to the status quo. So you have to demonstrate that your ban is constitutional and would produce a reduction in gun violence that you find acceptable. I don’t own any guns that are “military style” or that shoot “a dozen or more bullets” but operationalizing things that way is problematic.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

                The proof is obvious. If there are no guns in the hands of the populace there can be no death due to gun violence. If there are fewer guns there will be less gun violence. This much is so obvious that to deny it is to advocate for Alice in Wonderland as our future.

                The best I can gather from your position is that it will be hard reduce access to high power weaponry. I don’t need to “prove” that reducing access will reduce unwanted gun deaths. That proof will come as the result of action. Inaction will give us more of what we have. You may find that acceptable. I’m not willing to tolerate it.

                The proof that action is needed is in the cemeteries of Newtown and countless other burial grounds across America.

              • Zach
                Posted December 24, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

                So the slope is slippery after all. See how quickly you got to the total ban? The cause and effect are only obvious if you ban all guns, but you’ll need to include Canada and Mexico or you’ll have an illegal smuggling problem and guns will end up in the wrong hands.

                For what it’s worth, I live and work in cities that have extremely strictest gun control laws but are among the most dangerous in America.

                So to me, the cause and effect isn’t so obvious.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 24, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

                So, Zach, is the slope slippery or not? You can’t take both positions.

                As for me, I would prefer that all guns were banned, period. This is a PREFERENCE, not a realistic expectation. I recognize that not everyone sees the world just like I do and I need to compromise with others. BUT…. Others need to compromise with me, too. And for far too long we’ve been living in a political environment where those of us who would like to reduce gun violence have allowed ourselves to be bullied by the NRA. We’ve allowed our politicians to not confront this menace. It is time to change that.

              • Zach
                Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

                I see your point.

                I would have agreed with you that the NRA was guilty of the slippery slope fallacy right up until this particular tragedy. It then became “safe” for some politicians to reveal that they were in fact incrementally working towards a total gun ban.

                I agree that we need to compromise and craft policies that protect our Constitutional freedoms while addressing the problem illustrated by the Sandy Hook shooting. I’m just not sold on the solutions that are being bandied about because the reforms we’ve tried haven’t really proven effective IMHO.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                You are free to offer the solutions which you do think will work. Those would be most welcome. My objection is to paralytic claims that nothing can be done because… (fill in the blank with the usual excuses).

  26. Martin
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I’m interested in Mr. Pratt’s statement that “All of our mass murders in the last 20 years have occurred in Gun Free Zones.”

    Is he really claiming that Fort Hood, the largest US base in the world, was a gun-free zone when a single gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in 2009?

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      And deaths of troops in Afghanistan from Afghan police and troops.

      And military deaths from friendly fire and other accidents.

      And deaths to civilians in every war zone.

      And if the killers in gun free zones bring otherwise legal and easily accessible guns into into gun free zones then the zones aren’t gun free.

    • RF
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      From Wikipedia:
      “”As a matter of practice, we do not carry weapons on Fort Hood. This is our home.”[119] Military weapons are only used for training or by base security, and personal weapons must be kept locked away by the provost marshal.”

      And to Ron Murphy:
      Do you really not grasp that by “our”, he meant “in the US”?

    • Zach
      Posted December 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      He’s right, Fort Hood is essentially a gun-free zone. There were strict controls in place that required soldiers to keep their sidearms locked under supervision. Guns there are carried by base security or mainly used for training, so the soldiers murdered were basically defenseless.

  27. John Edwards
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    As a UK citizen I am proud to live in a “gun free zone” and how successive governments have had the balls to make it more and more difficult to own and use guns here. I sometimes despair at what goes on in the US and how it so arrogantly thinks it can take the high ground in world affairs. However I find it heartening to see the comments of support for Jerry’s piece along with calls for better and enforced gun laws.

    • JT
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Well, I live in rural Canada (British Columbia) and I really do need my guns. First of all, I need them for hunting, and I also carry a large calibre rifle for protection from grizzly bears, cougars, and wolves when I’m hiking (and yes, they are all here in plenty—this ain’t jolly old England). I’ll admit that I have no real need for a handgun and I’d be willing to give them up if the government decided to ban them here. Assault rifles are already banned here, BTW. We have very strict licensing procedures for firearms, and they seem to be very effective, so far, at reducing gun-related violence.

      • JBlilie
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Legitimate reasons for having a real rifle where you live. But need? No: reason, wish. And perfectly legitimate IMO. Especially if you have a family to protect.

        I have traveled quite a bit in Grizzly country (and wolves and cougars; but I am basically unconcered about them as an adult male). I never carried a gun. Read Doug Peacock’s The Essential Grizzly and then avoid them.

        I’m orders of magnitude more likely to be killed by a fellow hunter or a car or lightning than to be killed by a grizzly.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        JT,

        I appreciate the hunting requirement (or choice). I’m a meat eater and my meat is usually conveniently supplied by shops from abattoirs, so I can hardly object to hunting for food.

        Some guns in the UK are used for hunting, but many are used for sport. Without the complete banning of all guns it’s impossible to prevent guns landing in the hands of anyone who wants them enough.

        As a matter of interest, have you ever had to shoot a bear or wolf?

  28. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand why we can’t

    a) keep weapons out of the hands of minors (Columbine) or schizophrenics (shooter of Gabrielle Giffords)

    b) Severely restrict or ban semi-automatic machine guns that enable mass slaughter

    c) require background checks compulsory safety training for gun owners

    However, the real problem is the paranoid culture of America’s right-wing. Adam Lanza’s mother was a survivalist. Honestly, don’t know what to do about that.

    Great post by Ben Goren.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Obviously she just didn’t have enough of them. Or maybe having a few more rounds of ammunition is what was needed.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      If the NRA had only compromised and accepted your sensible proposals, it might have done better in the long run than refusing to engage in rational discussion. Could the NRA be in for a big surprise, a bit like the one Rove experienced on election day?

      • JBlilie
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        We can only hope, and ACT.

      • Gary W
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        If the NRA had only compromised and accepted your sensible proposals, it might have done better in the long run than refusing to engage in rational discussion.

        Huh? The NRA seems to have been pretty successful. According to surveys of Congress, the NRA is the second most powerful political lobbying organization in Washington (after AARP). It has repeatedly stymied the efforts of gun control organizations like the Brady Center to pass significant new gun control measures. And the NRA’s power seems to have been growing in recent years. Polls suggest that public support for more gun control may have declined. The Republicans have never really been interested in gun control, and the Democrats have largely ignored the issue since the Clinton administration.

        • Larry Gay
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          I’m talking about the long, long run.

    • RF
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Should we also be keeping weapons out of the hands of blacks and men? Or is prejudice only okay when it’s against schizophrenics?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 3:29 am | Permalink

      “Adam Lanza’s mother was a survivalist.”

      Didn’t work, did it?

      • Zach
        Posted December 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Sadly, a good safe might have saved her life. That, and a much more skeptical appraisal of her son’s state and character.

        • Posted December 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          Adam Lanza’s mother DID have a gun safe. What is more, she apparently kept her guns locked up in it, along with her ammunition. Evidently he found his way into that safe – we’ll never know if that was before or after he killed her while she was sleeping.

          • Zach
            Posted December 23, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

            She may have, but it couldn’t have been all that secure if he got into it. Most of the higher end ones use a biometric lock or a dial which would require he know the combination. If she had reservations about his mental state she wouldn’t have trusted him with the combo. If it was a simple key then that’s obviously really easy to defeat. Where I live you are liable for the guns in your home, so if your children get into them and hurt themselves (or others) you are accountable. That law makes A LOT of sense to me.

  29. morkindie
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    A “Gun free zone” is meaningless without someone there to ensure nobody breaks the rules.

    With a “Gun free zone” as small as an elementary school campus, with no locked doors to keep gunmen out, there is almost no effect at all.

    We could fantasize about a staff member who is also a superb and responsible gun owner, but without supervision, we could easily end up with an idiot who accidentally or intentionally shoots students anyway.

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      The doors were locked. The school required that anyone wishing to enter the school provide I.D. and have a legitimate reason to enter the school. The shooter forced entry through a window – presumably broke it. If he hadn’t had access to guns he could not have massacred the children & teachers.

      • Posted December 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        e NRA proposal to possibly use armed volunteers is an invitation to people like George Zimmerman, who killed Treyvon Martin. Virginia Tech student asked “we have 50 buildings on this campus — do they propose we should have an armed guard in every one of those?” The NRA leadership doesn’t THINK !They just want to sell guns for the gun manufacturers for whom they are a front.

      • Posted December 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        e NRA proposal to possibly use armed volunteers is an invitation to people like George Zimmerman, who killed Treyvon Martin. Virginia Tech student asked “we have 50 buildings on this campus — do they propose we should have an armed guard in every one of those?” The NRA leadership doesn’t THINK !They just want to sell guns for the gun manufacturers for whom they are a front.

      • Posted December 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        e NRA proposal to possibly use armed volunteers is an invitation to people like George Zimmerman, who killed Treyvon Martin. Virginia Tech student asked “we have 50 buildings on this campus — do they propose we should have an armed guard in every one of those?” The NRA leadership doesn’t THINK !They just want to sell guns for the gun manufacturers for whom they are a front.

  30. Joseph
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    A few points:

    1. Britain is a horrible model.

    “Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U .S. and even South Africa–widely considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries.”

    “But it is the naming of Britain as the most violent country in the EU that is most shocking.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

    2. The second amendment implies the absence of a standing army, hence ‘citizen’ militia. If there’s a standing army then the second amendment has its direct target [the only explicitly constitutional 'standing army' is the Navy]. Elbridge Gerry:

    “What, sir, is the purpose of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.”

    3. A universal study found that there’s no correlation between the access of firearms and the reduction [or encouragement] of violent crimes:

    “This Article has reviewed a significant amount of evidence from a wide variety of international sources. Each individual portion of evidence is subject to cavil–at the very least the general objection that the persuasiveness of social scientific evidence cannot remotely approach the persuasiveness of conclusions in the physical sciences. Nevertheless, the burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, espe‐ cially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.”

    • Joseph
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Oops, sorry. Forgot to link that last study for #3.

      http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

    • JBlilie
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      “A universal study found that there’s no correlation between the access of firearms and the reduction [or encouragement] of violent crimes”

      Funny how these killers never choose knives or clubs though!

      • Joseph
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        @ JBlilie,

        Actually, where gun murder is rare ‘murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent’.

        @ Ben Goren,

        Abit of both. Areas where firearm ownership is ‘most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest’.

        The 2008-09 Crime Rates released by the Census Bureau also shows a high correlation between the lack of firearm flexibility. The District of Columbia and Illinois have some of the the highest murder rates in the country. They also have the strictest firearm laws. D.C.’s is ridiculously so, almost a 2:1 margin to the next closest.

        http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/law_enforcement_courts_prisons/crimes_and_crime_rates.html

        And you are certainly right that i’d ‘rather see the children scarred and scared but alive than simply dead’. But firearms aren’t a problem. Drones are. Killing children in other countries are.

        So if the argument is to prevent people from shooting each other, you have to take or restrict access to firearms. That rests on the assumption that it limits tragedies like this–and the data i’m familiar with simply does not hold up.

        @ Grania Spingies,

        I checked it. However, the article seemed more convenient than the actual reports [which are hundreds of pages]. I will link to them, if you wish. Telegraph also has a similar article up.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5712573/UK-is-violent-crime-capital-of-Europe.html

        P.S. sorry, I have no idea who Karl Rove is. I’m a researcher. I don’t have much of a life–except perhaps for reading Dr. Coyne’s blog.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          “I have no idea who Karl Rove is. I’m a researcher.”

          Let me introduce you to a fine assistant assistant, Mr. Google.

        • JBlilie
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          “where gun murder is rare ‘murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent’”

          All I can say is “duh”.

          Of course.

          And there aren’t mass school stabbings or clubbings. Or drive-bys for that matter. Or stray knives and clubs.

          And: You have a fighting chance to stop someone with a knife or club. Hell, you may be able to simply out run them.

        • JBlilie
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Let me get this straight and do a small extrapolation:

          More guns = less gun violence
          More guns = more safety
          Arm every single person and require them to carry.

          QED: We’ll be perfectly safe!

          Maybe there’s a hole in that logic somewhere …

          Maybe the causal arrow is pointing in the other direction …

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        Have you seen the story about the attack in China on school children — he used a knife. They were stabbed. None have died. Horrible story – and less lethal.

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Since that “universal study” is rather long and you’ve read it and the rest of us haven’t, perhaps you’d be so kind as to answer a question.

      Is the (lack of) correlation between the number of crimes or the number of deaths?

      Because I don’t think anybody advocating for restricting easy access to guns thinks that the crime rate will go down.

      Rather, we’re suggesting that, when somebody does go on a rampage at a school, rather than gun down and kill dozens of children as just happened in the US with all our guns, instead they’ll slash and cut dozens of children but kill none of them, as just happened in China where it’s not so easy to get a hold of a gun.

      I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see the children scarred and scared but alive than simply dead.

      Plus, all those Rambo fantasies about being the hero and stopping the madman? You’ve actually got a fighting chance of doing that against a madman armed with a knife, no matter what you yourself are or aren’t armed with. If the madman has a gun…well, even if you’ve also got a gun, your chances aren’t so good, plus you’re putting all the innocents around you at risk from your own stray gunfire. They’re in no such danger if you’re only armed with the chair you just grabbed to use to pin down the madman.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t reference the Daily Mail as a reliable source for anything. If they announced it was sunny outside I would check for myself.

      They are a sensationalist, scandal-mongering tabloid of the worst kind, and fact-checking and their claims regularly turn out to have very little in common.

      Quoting the DM is the equivalent of quoting Karl Rove on Romney’s chances of winning the recent elections.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        I wouldn’t reference the Daily Mail as a reliable source for anything.

        That’s a touch harsh. They normally get the TV timetables right (for London ; is there anywhere much else, and do they have TV “oop norf”?).

        If they announced it was sunny outside I would check for myself.

        Put your coat on before going out to check.
        The “Daily Mail“, popularly known as the “Daily Flail“, particularly when protesting for the return of corporal punishment in prisons, high schools and kindergarten.

    • Martin
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      South Africa has 26 times the homicide rate of the UK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate), perhaps 5 times the rate of robberies (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rob-crime-robberies), 4 times the rate of reported rape (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics), perhaps 20% higher rate of burglaries (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_bur-crime-burglaries).

      The UK is rated the fourth-safest country in the world by the OECD Better Life index (http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/safety/) [SA was not rated].

      Given that, I can conclude two things: I know which country I’d rather live in; and the Daily Mail is a very poor resource to use to back up any argument.

  31. NoAstronomer
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    “Had a few of us been available with guns at the Newton school, most of the victims might still be alive.”

    No. You would just have been the first ones shot.

    Mike.

  32. JBlilie
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Just last week in my state (Minnesota), a 4-year-old killed his 2-year-old brother playing with a loaded hadngun in their home.

    Although one might view this as Darwinism in action, it seems harsh and pointless.

    I wonder how that father of these kids feels that worked out for him?

  33. Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    As nicely summarised in a Slate article, we here in Australia had a buy back and banning of all automatic and semi automatic weapons in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre. We have not had a mass shooting since. Doubt that would work in USA though.

  34. jamesgart
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    It is psychotic drugs that is the reason for most mass murders.

    ________________________________

    • JBlilie
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Yep, the ones percolating in human brains normally.

    • Marta
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Rubbish.

      In the first place, I want to see your evidence for this assertion.

      In the second place, there is no second place.

      It is endlessly bothersome that people pull stuff like this out of their hats.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Marta, that isn’t a hat. ;)

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          It’s a pipe?

  35. IW
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Adam Lanza’s mother was a gun owner. She had guns in the house. Not a one of them saved her life. Why doesn’t the gun lobby want to address that?

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Good point!

  36. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    In 2008-2009, there were 39 fatal injuries from crimes involving firearms in England and Wales, with a population about one sixth the size of America’s. In America, there were 12,000 gun-related homicides in 2008.

    Yikes! That is a factor 50 right there, from one factor alone (gun availability).

    I’m not especially proud of the gun density in Scandinavia, which is obsessed by hunting, and the criminals have easy access through the Schengen toll space.

    But, importantly, the people that go on an impulsive rampage has no easy access. That seems to make all the difference.

    And honestly, when did guns _ever_ defend against school shootings?

    And without any such examples, it is a priori likely the unaccustomed gun owner is more likely to contribute the massacre with “friendly fire” as taking the responsible bastards out.

    But I also imagine that lots of ordinary adults, if woken in the night by an armed intruder, lack the skill to wake, find their weapon, keep hold of their weapon, use it correctly and avoid shooting the wrong person.

    That is the one’s you read about – killing returning family at night, killing hunting partners, dogs killing their owners or owners killing their dogs under hunting – all because of incorrect use.

    Guns are no magical “get out of jail [problem]” card. They are more likely to get you into problems.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      And honestly, when did guns _ever_ defend against school shootings?

      Or cinema shootings? Or mall shootings? Or military base shootings? To name just the few largest, most recent, massacres of which news has come out. Or just any mass shooting.
      I suppose, in an attempt to be slightly fair, I should add shootings at political party youth rallies on isolated islands to the list of questions. That one, the shooter has been tried and convicted because he was sane, and is likely to spend decades being politely reviled and not allowed to take the easy way out. I wouldn’t like to be in his (slip-on) shoes.

  37. Gary W
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Polls suggest that most people support more gun control, but not very strongly. The people who really care about issue, and who are most politically active on it, tend to be anti-gun-control. They may be a minority, but they’re a large, powerful and committed minority. So they’re the ones the politicians tend to listen to. Most of the people who are currently fulminating about the lack of gun control in the wake of this latest tragedy will have largely forgotten about the issue by the time of the next election. But the NRA won’t.

    There are 300 million guns in the U.S. Gun ownership is widespread and taken for granted. The right to own guns, and idea of gun ownership for self-defense, is deeply entrenched in U.S. history and culture. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Constitution protects the right of private individuals to possess guns.

    I agree that we need much stricter gun control. But more than that, we need a dramatic change in American culture on guns. And that’s a very difficult and long-term project.

    • JBlilie
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Dead-on. The guns wing nuts are usually single-issue voters/contributors/pressure groups.

      The rest of us are … the rest of us.

      Hence the need to respond to something like this with immediate actions.

    • Tumara Baap
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      The Supreme Court’s ruling was partisan, misguided and downright stupid. The Second Amendment originally pertained to the overall right of citizens to be armed against a dictator/monarch/warlord. It was nothing to do with an individual’s right to be armed. After all where do you draw the line? Assault rifle? Surface-to-Air missile? A nuclear bomb? But now that the court has ruled, it is law of the land whether you like it or not.
      One thing that has to change is baseline attitudes. If a case can be made for a culture of guns for self-defense, so can one for a historical leeriness to the easy mayhem and atmosphere of insecurity guns have presented. The culture has been malleable and can still be influenced.

      • Don
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        On the contrary, in drafting 2A, the framers were recognizing an existing right, the right of every citizen to own a firearm. They did not establish that right; rather, it was assumed. The pedestrian uses of firearms–hunting for the table, protection against dangerous animals or criminals, and so on–were taken for granted. The salient justification for protecting this *existing* right was to make certain that the people who were members of the militia would have the means to resist tyranny. That’s why it was explicitly included in the language.

        As for the private possession of nukes and chemical weapons and bazookas and so forth, limitation on 2A–and there are many–forbid that nonsense.

  38. Hank
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    There is unfortunately a lack of pragmatism displayed on the part of some in the anti-gun camp. By some estimates there are > 300 million privately owned firearms in the united states. How does on propose eliminating them?

    We often hear that the we can’t possible deport the 12 or so million illegal immigrants we have – used as a common justification for normalizing their presence. If that’s true, then how can we possibly confiscate millions of firearms?

    It’s certainly one thing to want to get firearms out of people’s hands – I think it’s a laudable goal in theory. I just don’t see how we can start having a constructive conversation about this without first deciding how we could feasibly accomplish it.

    Like Jerry, I live in Chicago – we had a de facto handgun ban for much of the past three decades – however we obviously have a serious problem with gun crime. And it’s a question of numbers – there are millions of guns, there are people who want them for nefarios purposes – our city’s laws failed to prevent those people from getting the guns. The reason is, there is no mechanism to prevent the illegal sale and transfer of firearms from a low-regulation area to a high-regulation area. Thus, the only solution is universal regulation and some mechanism to drastically reduce overall numbers.

    I feel like any other discussion is somewhat pointless until we square that problem – however I don’t hear anyone address it.

    • Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, they instituted a gun buy-back program followed by strict regulation. And they haven’t had any similar massacres since.

      If the Aussies can figure it out, I’m sure us Yanks can, too.

      b&

      • gbjames
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Exactly. Except that the “followed by” needs to be “combined with”. You have to stop the inflow before you start the buy-back or you are just bailing water from a boat with a hole in it.

      • Don
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Winston Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing–after they’ve tried everything else.” I hope we’re getting there.

      • Occam
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        See the current report and comment by Philip Alpers of the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, published online by CNN:

        http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/16/opinion/australia-gun-laws/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

        “Gun control is possible – and fast”

        • JBlilie
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          All it takes is the will to do it. That’s what the US needs, and this is exactly the kind of incident required to general such will.

          • JBlilie
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            generate …

      • Hank
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately what may have worked in Australia probably won’t work in in the US for a few reasons…

        First, according to the article linked below, “Australia collected and destroyed more than a million firearms, perhaps one-third of the national stock” – which leads one to believe there were 3 million firearms in Australia (if this is correct) – in the US there are 100 times that many guns – there simply cannot be a widespread buy-back – if we only offered $10 per gun, and we had 1/3 response, that’s a billion dollars! That’s simply unworkable.

        Second, the article alludes to national standards for gun registration – we can’t even agree on a national ID in the US, what makes you think we could nationalize firearm registration – it simply won’t work.

        I think that despite everyone’s good intentions, the only way things will change in the way the anti-gun side favors, would be for there to either be a Supreme Court case that overturns previous precedent incontrovertibly, or the Constitution itself must be amended.

        This is why I hope gun control advocates inject some pragmatism into their calls for reform. I feel like many in that camp just don’t understand how powerfully resonant “they want to take your guns away” is to many non-urban Americans.

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          I feel like many in that camp just don’t understand how powerfully resonant “they want to take your guns away” is to many non-urban Americans.

          For every “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” empty-chair-lecturing nutjob, there are a dozen soccer moms who, as of the day before yesterday, now are convinced that the NRA wants to sell guns to psychotics so they can kill their babies at the daycare center.

          This is America, so it’s hard to be confident of any predictions.

          But after the attempt on Reagan we got the Brady Bill. Since Sandy Hook, Obama has promised to use his Executive power to do something, and more and more Congressmen, including those the NRA has staunchly supported in the past, are calling for regulation. Three Senators alone — Manchin, Warner, and now Majority Leader Reid — today alone. The New York Times is running an Editorial Debate in which the myth of the NRA’s invincibility has just been laid bare.

          It’s becoming clear that Sandy Hook is about to become our own Port Harbor. The tide has just turned, and a big and angry wave is just now starting to crash about the heads of the gun lobby.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • gbjames
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

            I hope you are right.

            • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

              Thanks.

              I just hope my prognosticatory skills are superior to my ability to format HTML….

              b&

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          if we only offered $10 per gun, and we had 1/3 response, that’s a billion dollars!

          What is a billion dollars measured in days of paying for military fiascos in the Middle East? Or of bailing out incompetent Wall Street financiers?

      • Zach
        Posted December 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Um, that might work if you live on an island, like Australia.

        A comparable solution would be a North American gun ban.

        Wouldn’t we need to ensure that Mexico and Canada also regulate? Otherwise you have the same problem you have in Chicago – an unregulated area contributing to an illicit and profitable gun problem in a regulated area?

        Oh, and let’s stop looking to the UK for guidance. They stopped arming their citizens because eventually every one of their colonies revolted against their imperialism.

        Ditto with examples drawn from China. Do we want to live under the same auspices or rights afforded to the average Chinese citizen to ensure that our schools are “safe”?

  39. notsont
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I would be happy with a HUGE tax on any and all gun powder items. something along the lines where it would cost $10-15 per bullet. Also a nice tax on guns that must be paid every year for each gun you own. something equal to a car registration, make the tax amount be based on how many bullets the gun is rated to fire in a minute, something like $200 per bullet fired in a minute.

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      “If you have to ask what the cost is, to own a gun, then guns will only be owned by those for whom cost is no object.”

      Americans love to “keep up with the Joneses”. There would be no ownership of motorhomes (only renting and leasing) if the true annual cost were a deterrent (it’s probably around $1000 per night, life-of-product-equivalent, for most owners of a motorhome).

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      There would be tremendous resistance to such taxation.
      So, start it off really low – say so each gun-bullet-minute cost (say) $10/year and the penalty for non-registration of 1 year’s income per weapon unregistered. If you can’t prove that a gun previously registered has been destroyed, then you continue to be taxed for it until you can prove it destroyed. And a penalty for selling a gun without completing the tax registration which would beggar any gun dealer on the first offence (say – 10 year’s income).
      Have a clause in the legislation doubling the tax each and every year. And the fines.
      The number of people who won’t recognise the old “reward for inventing chess” problem is going to be quite high.

  40. Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Chris Rock had it right – we don’t need gun control,we need bullet control!

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      In the short term bullet control is likely to be easier to achieve than gun control. The manufacture of bullet-manufacturing equipment (even for “hand-loading” enthusiasts) would need to be controlled first. Then the transfer (sale) or repair of such equipment. Then the consumables (casings of size X, machined bullets of size Y). This is pretty much in parallel to the sort of controls in place for chemicals and equipment for equipping, say, your new meth lab.
      Still not easy to achieve, but probably a useful side trail to follow while pushing along on other lines too.

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        I think he may have been onto something, even though he was joking. Maybe not 5,000 dollars per bullet, but something like 50 or 100 or 150 bucks for a ‘personal use bullet’ with an anonymously registered serial number. Sell unmarked cartridges to ranges dirt cheap, require the range to account for all rounds delivered to it, make it illegal to possess an unmarked cartridge off-site. For hunters, it works – how many rounds do they fire per season in the field? For ‘home protection’, if your bullet tab is prohibitive, you’d best just move! For gun n…I mean gun enthusiasts, it works – they can cap it up at the range for peanuts. Everybody is then free to own whatever sort of pistol or rifle they desire, and it puts a fine point on another time honored platitude that folks of a certain political persuasion love to trot out at times like this: freedom isn’t free.

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

          I was perfectly serious in my proposition. I haven’t thought it through in any depth, but possession of ammunition in Britain is a separate offence to possession of a weapon, AIUI. You get a license for a weapon (if possible) and simultaneously a license for possession of ammunition for that weapon. So, if you have a shotgun license with permission to keep it on your farm (for vermin control), and a separate hand gun license (must be kept in a safe at the licensed range and you need prior permission to transport it to a different range, for a competition perhaps), then in theory being found on the street with one hand gun bullet in your pocket will result in you being charged (for un-licensed possession of ammunition). The charge for a firearms offence will make it practically impossible to keep any of your other gun licences.
          Having any un-serial-numbered cartridges in circulation will encourage proliferation. Serial number every bullet (or shotgun cartridge) – an RFID tag only costs a dollar or two and should have a big enough address space. And then make every stage in the distribution chain personally responsible. So at the crime scene a bullet casing is found … which came from bullet factory X (pull in the distribution manager, now!) in a box that went to wholesaler Y (pull in their stores manager, now!), who reported selling it to shop chain Z … where it disappears. OK, pull in the store clerks until the police find where the bullet left the “chain of custody”. Whoever let the bullet out of the chain, goes up on charges of “accessory before the fact”.
          This sort of scheme begs the question of what the half-life of bullets in the supply chain is. And what the half-life of bullets in storage is. I know that the military routinely do test firing and training just to use up bullets that are approaching their end-of-shelf-life.
          I very much doubt that the half-life of bullets is longer than the half-life of guns. That would be like having car tyres that outlast the car.
          You’ll note that I don’t care about the cost of implementing such a scheme. A hunter who drops a thousand bucks (guess) on a long weekend trying to get one deer with one bullet isn’t going to give a shit ; a gun nut who wants to unload a 500-round clip into a sand bag wall with a portrait of [Pick A Politician Name] on Saturday night can whinge as much as he likes. Someone who takes the family, the house’s “protection” gun, and last year’s box of bullets down to the range once a year for everyone’s firearms training refresher, a new box of bullets, and the gun’s annual service, isn’t going to be adversely affected.
          (Note the quote marks around “protection” there ; I do not buy the claim that these weapons are (generally) effective protection. There are not enough reports of cases where the protection has been effective compared to the reports of ineffective or damaging use. If there were lots of cases of “effective” protection, the pro-gun lobby would be quoting the statistics and cases using a loudspeaker.)

  41. Veroxitatis
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I wonder if the Newtown atrocity has changed the mind of any parent who was going to give their 12 year old a hunting rifle for Christmas?

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Probably it has : he obviously needs a bullet-spraying massacre machine which will fit into his school bag. For his own protection, naturally. From my limited knowledge, I think that a company called “Uzi” make one that should fit the bill?
      Isn’t that the argument?

  42. James Weedman
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    If everybody had the attitude that “I don’t care what the Supreme Court says,” where would the rule of law be in this country?

    • Tumara Baap
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Well where is it now? Any idea how the Supreme Court used to rule in regard to the civil rights of free negroes about a century ago? Thankfully a lot of decent people didn’t care too much about those rulings (funny how these decent people back then were mostly “extremist” Republicans). For a period of time these disgusting views were the law of the land. But they were not insurmountable.

  43. Ed Collins
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Just a snide aside from a Canadian. Get rid of a million guns a year, and in three hundred years your peoblem will be solved.

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Same goes for ICE automobiles: build a million electric vehicles a year, and watch the reduction in emissions go down less than one percent per year, for a hundred years!!!

      US nationwide vehicle fleet is over 310 million vehicles!

  44. SES
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    This, from the Washington Post, is worth reading — http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/ — offers good information on where to begin re: crafting more rational gun control policy in the US.

  45. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    These are now my favorite links on this issue:

    Readily observable:
    1. US gun culture is unique. (As is its gun mediated mass killings, see the post.)

    Seems observable:
    2. The US gun mediated mass killing cycle. Also here, recycled.

    This is chilling, especially this part:

    “Quickly, the shooter is identified. Politicians issue statements of shock and sorrow. The shooter’s parents, if interviewed, are confused and abashed or else hide. The social media forensics begin. People with the same or a similar name as the shooter are harassed.”

    Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

    “There is another wave of public discussion about our failures, and the nature of evil. Politicians make feints at gun-law changes, which fail. And then everyone forgets and moves on. Everyone, that is, except the survivors.”

    3. Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make.

    And of course we have already seen #1 _on this very thread_:

    1. Now isn’t the time to talk about guns.

    We’re going to hear this over and over, and not just from gun advocates; Jay Carney said it to White House reporters today. But if we’re not going to talk about it now, when are we going to talk about it?

    After Sandy hit the East Coast, no one said, “Now isn’t the time to talk about disaster preparedness; best leave that until it doesn’t seem so urgent.” When there’s a terrorist attack, no one says, “Now isn’t the time to talk about terrorism.”

    Now is exactly the time.” [Link removed; my paragraphs.]

    Also, Bora Zivkovic’s FB page has some of these and more.

    And now comes the twist:

    One year ago, I would have said the US Constitution was a model for a democracy. And I admired it.

    Silly me. Today, the gun apologists on this very thread has showed me that the US Constitution and its Amendments are absolute crap compared with most democracies.

    Most democracies aren’t killing their own children. We can do better.

    • Gary W
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Now is exactly the time.

      Completely disagree. A rational discussion about gun control is more difficult in the immediate aftermath of a gun rampage because the shock and anger that people are feeling is not conducive to clear thinking or rational deliberation about gun policy.

      What you’re saying is like saying that the immediate aftermath of a major terrorist attack would be “exactly the time” to have a public discussion about the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspects.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        We appear to be in a situation where these types of events are happening weekly. So is it now the case that NEVER is the time?

        • Gary W
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          We appear to be in a situation where these types of events are happening weekly.

          I don’t think shootings involving the deaths of two or three people really count as mass killings. The last incident that received anything like the attention of this one was the movie theater shooting in Colorado, when 12 people were killed. That was in July. The fact that most of the victims of this latest tragedy were young children makes it especially likely that political debate in the immediate wake of the incident will be clouded by shock and anger.

          • gbjames
            Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

            Well, right here in my town I can offer a couple of more recent examples:

            August 6: http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/reports-of-people-shot-at-sikh-temple-in-oak-creek-qc6cgc0-165059506.html

            October 21: http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/multiple-victims-shot-near-brookfield-square-le7a3b4-175147441.html

            I’m not interested in an explanation of how these incidents don’t count as examples.

            • Gary W
              Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

              I’m sorry that you’re not interested, but they’re not examples of mass shootings that provoked a huge national outpouring of grief and anger like the Newtown tragedy. I’ll bet most Americans don’t even remember them any more, if they were even aware of them at the time they occurred.

              I am mystified why anyone would think that a public debate about gun law in the immediate aftermath of a national tragedy like Newtown is not likely to be seriously distorted by shock and anger. Do you really think it would have been a good idea to have a public debate about terrorist interrogation procedures in the days immediately after 9/11?

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

                Gary, you can hang anything you want on the phrase “like the Newtown tragedy, which is why I am not interested in your special pleading.

                FWIW, I imagine if you poll Americans for the phrase “Sikh Temple” only one thing will come to mind.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

                I’m wondering if the Portland shopping mall slaughter qualifies as a significant event in your mind.

                This shit is happening all the time these days and you guys just try to block discussion of the problem with platitudes about “not being the time”. Sorry, it reeks of special pleading.

              • Gary W
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

                It has nothing to do with special pleading. A debate about gun control right now would be grossly distorted by the national tragedy of Newtown. No comparable distortion would have occurred if the same debate had taken place a month ago.

                I ask again: do you really think it would have been a good idea to have a public debate about terrorist interrogation procedures in the days immediately after 9/11? Do you really think that public support for harsh treatment of terrorists would not have been amplified by the acute feelings of grief and anger that Americans were experiencing in the immediate aftermath of that tragedy?

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

                Perhaps you can provide us with a definition of the acceptable-for-discussion window. How many weeks/months do we need to wait? And how ghastly does the slaughter need to be to reset the OK-to-talk clock?

              • Gary W
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

                Is that a “Yes, I believe a public debate about harsh interrogation of terrorists would have been a good idea right after 9/11,” or a “No, I don’t”?

              • E.A. Blair
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

                I ask again: do you really think it would have been a good idea to have a public debate about terrorist interrogation procedures in the days immediately after 9/11? Do you really think that public support for harsh treatment of terrorists would not have been amplified by the acute feelings of grief and anger that Americans were experiencing in the immediate aftermath of that tragedy?

                Suppose I were to suggest that the NRA is arranging for these mass shootings to occur just to keep the public debate from happening? That just when the “window of discussion” is about to open, Wayne LaPierre gets some unhinged individual to grab some guns, mow down a bunch of innocent people and close it again?If I were to seriously suggest that, I’d be laughed off this site. However, It doesn’t take much to suggest to me that the NRA isn’t using the “window of silence” to its poolitical advantage.

              • Gary W
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

                Suppose I were to suggest that the NRA is arranging for these mass shootings to occur just to keep the public debate from happening?

                It seems extremely unlikely to me that the NRA would do that, or that many people would take your suggestion seriously without clear evidence.

                Still no answer on debating the interrogation of terrorists.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

                @Gary W: All times are good times for discussing the problems of the day. No time is a good time to attempt to censor discussion. Nice try with the cheap rhetorical trick.

              • Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

                Just because the Bush administration was successful in slamming through the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act in the days following the 9/11 attacks doesn’t mean that that wasn’t the right time to have such a discussion. It was absolutely the right time to have such a discussion.

                The problem wasn’t the timing; the problem was the guy in the bully pulpit.

                Same deal now. We might or might not make the right decision, but now is the time to act.

                Oh — and you’re still dodging the question somebody asked of you earlier about when, exactly, is the right time. How long did Sandy Hook reset the clock for? Six months? What happens if we get another mall shooting with a half-dozen dead a few weeks before you’ve re-scheduled the debate? How much longer does that push it back?

                “Now is not the time” is bullshit and only serves to sustain the status quo, and the status quo is only serving the needs of literal honest-to-the-gods baby killers.

                While you’re thinking up of how to dodge the “when is the time” question some more, here’s another one for you to dodge:

                What made you so sick and heartless that you’d rather wait for even more gunmen to kill even more babies before we’re allowed to talk about how we’re supposed to keep gunmen from killing babies?

                “Now is not the time” my ass.

                b&

              • Gary W
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

                All times are good times for discussing the problems of the day.

                So I guess that’s a yes, then. You think it would have been a good idea to have a public debate immediately after 9/11 about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorists. I strongly disagree. I think that would have been a terrible time to debate the issue. The acute grief and anger people were feeling in the immediate aftermath of the attacks would likely have seriously clouded the judgment of many of them, and caused them to support much harsher forms of interrogation than they would have endorsed if they were not in that acute emotional state. The same is true with respect to people’s judgment about gun control in the immediate aftermath of a national tragedy like Newtown.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

                You seek to veto discussion with a disingenuous appeal to “a better time” which you refuse to define. Your position is obnoxious.

              • Gary W
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

                No, I don’t seek to “veto” (or “censor”) it. I’m saying it’s a bad idea, for the reasons I explained.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

                Then be quiet, sit on the sidelines, and let the rest of us discuss the problem.

              • E.A. Blair
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

                It seems extremely unlikely to me that the NRA would do that, or that many people would take your suggestion seriously without clear evidence.

                It seems extremely unlikely that anyone would have thought I was being serious in suggesting it. That fact that you chose to reply as if it were only proves the truth of this post’s headline.

              • Gary W
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

                It seems extremely unlikely that anyone would have thought I was being serious in suggesting it

                Then I don’t know why you said it in the first place.

              • E.A. Blair
                Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

                “Then I don’t know why you said it in the first place.”

                Exemplum ad absurdum, fæxmens.

              • RF
                Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

                “However, It doesn’t take much to suggest to me that the NRA isn’t using the “window of silence” to its poolitical advantage.”

                Was there a discussion, or even an incipient discussion, of gun control right before this shooting that was postponed? I find it quite disingenuous for someone to say, in a discussion that was prompted by a shooting, that shootings are being used to foreclose discussions of gun control. When the NRA went through with a previously planned meeting after the Columbine shooting, Michael Moore criticized them. But it’s okay for gun control proponents to take advantage of shootings?

  46. Rhetoric
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Three thoughts

    1. We trust police to carry firearms, but they show up AFTER an incident where they would need it has started.

    2. Isn’t it Switzerland that has 50% gun ownership and really low violent crimes?

    3. The number of people killed in these types of events over the last 4 decades is ~500.

    I feel there are numerous other solutions to this problem, number one being better mental health treatments and training/background checks, before we get around to “banning all guns”.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      The Swiss situation is nothing like America. It really does qualify as a “well regulated militia”.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland

    • JBlilie
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      The toll for 2012 alone, the US alone:

      February 22, 2012—Five people were killed in at a Korean health spa in Norcross, Georgia, when a man got into an argument and opened fire inside the facility.

      February 26, 2012—Multiple gunmen began firing into a nightclub crown in Jackson, Tennessee, killing one person and injuring 20 others.

      February 27, 2012—Three students at Chardon High School in rural Ohio were killed when a classmate opened fire.

      March 8, 2012—Two people were killed and seven wounded at a psychiatric hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when a gunman entered the hospital with two semiautomatic handguns and began firing.

      March 31, 2012—A gunman opened fire on a crowd of mourners at a North Miami, Florida, funeral home, killing two people and injuring 12 others.

      April 2, 2012—A 43-year-old former student at Oikos University in Oakland, California, walked into his former school and killed seven people, “execution-style.” Three people were wounded.

      April 6, 2012—Two men went on a deadly shooting spree in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shooting black men at random in an apparently racially motivated attack. Three men died and two were wounded.

      May 29, 2012—A man in Seattle, Washington, opened fire in a coffee shop and killed five people and then himself.

      July 9, 2012—At a soccer tournament in Wilmington, Delaware, three people were killed, including a 16-year-old player and the event organizer, when multiple gunmen began firing shots, apparently targeting the organizer.

      July 20, 2012—James Holmes enters a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opens fire with a semi-automatic weapon; twelve people are killed and fifty-eight are wounded.

      August 5, 2012—A white supremacist and former Army veteran shot six people to death inside a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before killing himself.

      August 14, 2012—Three people were killed at Texas A&M University when a 35-year-old man went on a shooting rampage; one of the dead was a police officer.

      September 27, 2012—A 36-year-old man who had just been laid off from Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, Minnesota, entered his former workplace and shot five people to death, and wounded three others before killing himself.

      October 21, 2012—45-year-old Radcliffe Frankin Haughton shot three women to death, including his wife, Zina Haughton, and injured four others at a spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin, before killing himself.

      December 11, 2012—A 22-year-old began shooting at random at a mall near Portland, Oregon, killing two people and then himself.

      December 14, 2012—One man, and possibly more, murders a reported twenty-six people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, including twenty children, before killing himself.

      (BTW, over 10,000 people die in gun violence in the US every year.)

      • Gary W
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        over 10,000 people die in gun violence in the US every year

        But a lot of those are suicides and accidents, not homicides. Other countries have much lower rates of suicide by gun, but higher rates of suicide overall. Public awareness of individual incidents has increased, thanks to the internet and cable TV and the 24-hour news cycle, but the homicide rate in the U.S., and violent crime rates in general, have actually fallen substantially over the past two decades.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          Oh! No problem then! I’ll go ride my pony now.

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

          But a lot of those are suicides and accidents, not homicides. Other countries have much lower rates of suicide by gun, but higher rates of suicide overall.

          Are you thinking of rates of suicide attempt, or of suicide success?
          The number of failed suicide attempts which employed guns … well, apart from missing there aren’t that many ways to fail. You don’t get many second thoughts too, if you put the barrel in your mouth far enough. (I had access to some really un-fun photo books when I was cleaner in the office of a forensic pathologist ; they study these things in gory detail to distinguish accidents, suicides and murders.) Suicide by car allows for a lot more accidental survival, and a lot more second thoughts too. And a lot more denial that it was a suicide attempt.
          I remember a flat-mate’s girlfriend – a newly-qualified doctor – who had to deal with the aftermath of an unsuccessful failure of a suicide attempt by paracetamol. Usual Friday night “boyfriend and girlfriend break up” story. Girl takes bottle of pills ; falls asleep ; wakes up some hours later and calls the ambulance. Stomach pump, blood tests, and then the hard talk (which caused my friend’s girlfriend the grief – she had to deliver the news). “Enough paracetamol got through that your suicide attempt was a failure. You’re going to die, in agony, of liver failure, in a week or two. Do you want to talk to your family now to make your funeral arrangements? Or just go home? You’re well enough to leave. Now.”
          A classic “cry for help”. The increasing availability of liver transplants make it more tragic : the supply of suitably matching livers is still very iffy. Which is why there are significant regulations which make it harder (by no means impossible, but definitely harder) to acquire a lethal dose of paracetamol.

        • Gary W
          Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Are you thinking of rates of suicide attempt, or of suicide success?

          As I said, suicides. That is, successful suicide attempts. They wouldn’t be dead otherwise.

      • RF
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        Both double-posting, and posting an overly long post, are bad etiquette. And you’re doing both.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Almost everybody in Switzerland who owns a gun has been through military training. Their firearms mean something more than a substitute dick.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        If I understand it right, when you leave militia service in Switzerland, if you want to keep your weapon, you need to turn it in so that it can be made into a non-automatic.

    • mandrellian
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      1. So is your solution for more people to have more guns in more places, just in case something happens? Or for police to become psychic?

      2. Switzerland requires national service for most male citizens, including _mandatory annual weapons training_ afterward. If you want to arm schoolteachers, you’d better be prepared to pay to teach them how to shoot and how to keep kids from stealing their M4s. Life isn’t an action movie, where a gun-shy main character suddenly learns how to kill when given a gun and a pack of badguys. It’s time America’s gun-lovers grew up, admitted that and accepted a bit more regulation.

      BTW Switzerland also has decent public healthcare (physical and mental), excellent education, functional welfare, liveable wages, secular government and generally better overall standards of living.

      Comparing two countries directly is never a good idea, especially when one of them is the US, which is an outlier in almost all of the metrics used to guage a modern industrialised nation’s wellbeing.

      3. I assume “These types of events” specifically means “public massacres of unarmed civilians by unbalanced/criminal individuals with access to automatic weapons” not all firearm homicides.

      It’s quite telling that you made this distinction – now that you have, would you like to compare the numbers of such “events” and their death tolls with those of other nations? I’m quite sure the US spree-killing death toll would eclipse the combined numbers of several other nations.

      I know in my own country of Australia, there’s been one – ONE – such “event” in the last twenty years, at Port Arthur in 1996 where 35 were killed by a man armed with an AR-15 assault rifle. This single event led to the ban and heavy restriction of all automatic weapons in this country and included a state buy-back scheme for any such weapons currently owned by citizens. That the killer was able to legally obtain a military assault weapon without a gun license highlighted inadequacies in our gun laws, which were subsequently tightened up. Severe penalties now face anyone possessing or trading in illegal firearms and waiting periods and background checks are just part of owning weapons in this country. You want a shotgun/rifle for sport or hunting? You get to wait and you have to justify it. You want a pistol? Keep it at the range. You want a machine gun? Go to a Cambodian tourist attraction.

      • mandrellian
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        I should note that the unofficial death toll is 36: a guy I went to school with (class of 93) was in Port Arthur that day. He survived but was so traumatised that he took his own life within a year by jumping from a radio tower.

  47. Don Quijote
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I can’t understand all this. Gun control, no gun control. Isn’t it obvious that if that person didn’t have access to guns he couldn’t have committed that massacre? Sure, he could have attacked those kids and teachers with some other weapon but would the outcome have been different? Isn’t it obvious that allowing so many people to own guns some will fall into the hands of people with mental problems or people that will develope mental problems. This doesn’t even take into account those with criminal intent which might be a mental condition itself.

    Meanwhile, this horrific event has completely overshadowed the death of ten children in Afganistan due to a land mine. Of course, brown kids in some disrant land will not bring many tears to Obama’s eyes.

    • DV
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      “Isn’t it obvious that allowing so many people to own guns some will fall into the hands of people with mental problems or people that will develope mental problems”.

      Somehow I read that as allowing people to own guns will lead them to developing mental problems. :)

      • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Let’s avoid amateur diagnosis of the mental condition of Adam Lanza or any other shooter until we have some data. Please don’t anyone assume that all shooters “have mental problems,” i.e. are psychotic. It’s not that simple. Most people who are DIAGNOSED as psychotic are NOT violent. We don’t know yet about Adam Lanza. His brother is reported to have said that he “had a personality disorder.” That is an Axis II diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the APA (and probably continues to be so in the just issued Vth edition). That is not an Axis I “psychosis.”

        • Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          I used the wrong expression. The post to which I am replying said “mental illness.” I would gladly remove my post but so far have not figured out how to do so. However, I repeat my main point — let’s not diagnose Adam Lanza without more information on his behavioral history? Specifically I am wondering if he used meth? The Speed/meth freaks destroyed the Haight-Ashbury community by their extreme violence.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Sure, he could have attacked those kids and teachers with some other weapon but would the outcome have been different?

      I was talking through this one time at the (alleged) Mons Graupius battlefield a while ago with a local amateur historian. The estimated death toll at that battle was estimated as a few thousand. Meanwhile the nearby village, and every other village in Scotland, has a war memorial listing the names of people who died on (say) the Somme, for a total of twenty or thirty thousand on the first day (figures for the German casualties are sparse). The difference of course being that in one battle, each death was an individual physical act of throwing-arm or stabbing-arm, while on the Somme there was mechanised death. And mechanisation is so much more efficient. Otherwise, why would we pay for the development of mechanised death machines?

  48. moarscienceplz
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    “The Second Amendment to our Constitution was for an armed militia, not for citizens to carry weapons around whenever they feel like it.”

    Very true, Jerry. Unfortunately, the SCOTUS is not as well-informed about grammar as you are. It appears they cannot recognize a dependent clause when they see one.

    • Gary W
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      An individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment is supported not just by the Supreme Court, but by numerous constitutional scholars, including several distinguished liberal law professors, such as Lawrence Tribe, Sanford Levinson, Akhil Reed Amar and Jack Balkin.

      • Don
        Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Right. The Court was in fact accurate and correct in its interpretation of the framers’ syntax. The language they used is terribly unfortunate, of course, but the only way to address this one today is by amending or revising the Constitution, an enormous challenge, given the wealth and political strength of the entrenched opposition.

    • RF
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Can you explain how you think that they have erred, or are you just going to engage in argument by assertion?

  49. Andrew Fredriksen
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Did you ever wonder why, everything we know, through science, about cigarette smoke, aka ETS, cigarettes are still allowed to be manufactured?
    I realized a long time ago that in the grand scheme of nature human life has no value; it is only in the human-sphere that we hold our existence sacred.
    Why do we tolerate the massacre of children? Why is it such a complex problem, with no easy solution?
    Guns: a $31.8 billion dollar contribution to US economy – $2.07 billion in tax revenue.*
    What’s the value of human life? Evidently in America, not much; profit rules.
    Money doesn’t talk it swears. – Bob Dylan.
    • Check it out: http://nssf.org/impact/

  50. Laura Norder
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    The idea that being armed would prevent mass killings is disproved by the Giffords shooting. Jared Loughner was not incapacitated by someone with a gun, but by a quick-thinking person who grabbed the ammunition after Loughner had dropped it, a person who hit him with a chair, another person who tackled him to the ground, and two other people who further subdued him. One of the last two was carrying a concealed weapon but was not able to use it against Loughner.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Tucson_shooting

    • gravelinspector
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for those details. I hadn’t paid any undue attention (i.e., she was a politician, husband an astronaut, bad brain injury but relatively good recovery last I heard) to a foreign murder attempt. I’ll remember enough about those details to drag them out (with checking) the next time there’s a massacre by civilian gun-user(s). You’ll note that I have no doubt what-so-ever that there will be a next time.
      I anticipate that the man with the concealed (and un-used) firearm was a bodyguard, whether from the police or the Secret Service?

      • Posted December 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        No. The man with the gun in the parking lot of the Gifford shooting was just a civilian with more than average common sense. He said later that he had not been able to get a clear shot at the person he thought was the shooter, and then discovered after the dust had settled that he had been aiming at the WRONG person, not at the shooter. Which points up another problem in such crises — Clear identification of the target. Concealed guns are frequently in the possession of AZ civilians, which has some of the most lenient gun laws in the whole country.

        • gravelinspector
          Posted December 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          [Repeat of previous comments.]
          Licensed and trained gun-user settles on wrong target! That’s not going to be in an NRA advert, is it?

          • Zach
            Posted December 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

            If this is true, I’d say he ended up exercising good judgment…trained police officers have done much worse!

  51. Nicolas Perrault
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    More guns less shooting! I have long given up understanding America.

    • Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      Works in Sweden, which has a higher gun ownership rate than the States, and a very low incidence of gun-related deaths. So, it’s clearly possible to have both (but I’d hate to piss on anyone’s parade of ‘guns are evil and those who own them love to see children get killed’ with the petty matter of data.)

      • Don
        Posted December 18, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        Yes, the prevalence of gun violence is matter of culture, too. I live in Vermont, one of only two states with no significant firearms regulation at all. Anyone here can own, carry, purchase, trade, and shoot a rifle or handgun as he pleases, as long as he observes the broadest of safety concerns. There are no permits required, no waiting periods, no one-gun-per-month purchase limits, nothing. And yet in my 40 years here I have never seen anyone, except for hunters and cops, carrying a weapon. Indeed, Vermont is always among the two or three safest and least criminally violent of the 50 states.

        • Posted December 18, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

          Indeed. And what is ignored by the ‘what does the Supreme Court know about the constitution anyway, other than when they agree with me’ crowd is that if one tracks economic trends, one can easily see an inverse relationship with gun related incidents. Look at roughly equivalent regions in terms of population density and guns owned and it’s immediately obvious that the poorer areas are afflicted with gun incidents and the affluent areas aren’t.

          But what difference would facts make if one has The Truth and one’s own righteous indignation?

  52. Carl Sartreback
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    “Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244)

    Amazing, that’s what we need – a duopoly of gun owners – the government and criminals? Certainly education and vetting applicants
    to competency of a reasonable standard is in
    order. My contention is, not to the level of any particular branch of law enforcement or the military, but to a level that is appropriate for self and home defense. We have enough laws making it illegal to kill innocents.

    Where was the mothers mindfulness regarding gun safety and safely stored weapons?

    Reading the posts gives pause to our circumstance. Alzheimer’s patients run and win the Presidency, possibly. They drive automobiles everyday and in every state. Repeat drunk drivers get back behind a vehicle, drink and drive. Both groups kill innocents and themselves at times.

    Is it 40% of American high school students think the Sun revolves around the Earth? Whatever the number, any would be too many. When will we adequately address the failure of Science illiteracy?
    So lets make wanton school killings revolve around the gun as the cause. Let’s go back to a similar Ptolemaic model and reverse the painful understanding that gun control advocates won’t accept – that this event has roots in our nature. Argue it any way you want – our Founding Fathers came to their conclusion about the citizenry possessing arms over 200 hundred years ago.

    Is it that we just don’t really yet understand what happens at the neurochemical level? If the molecular model is correct with regard to Toxoplasma gondii infection and behavior, then maybe this young man was infected with T. gondii and has some violent schizophreniform disorder? We should find out – until then, lets ban all contact with cats. Wait till the criminal defense lawyers grab this one! And so it goes.

    This is a strange circumlocution of thought to some, but someone help me understand this question?

    How does it makes sense to violate what the Founding Fathers forged and crafted after careful deliberation. We have the country we have because we are not afraid of our government nor are we afraid to take up arms when that need arises. To say that we gun right advocates are cowboys, paranoid,
    narcissistic, or misguided misses an interesting point – as if politicizing the
    tragedy in Conneticutt needs more insanity – the human condition being what it is in its
    present state; we are condemned to be free because we have no choice in the matter of
    being free. To my mind gun ownership is the expression that I am willing to accept and
    embrace my freedom and consequently be responsible for myself. God(s), governments, parents, teachers cannot help us because ultimately our destiny is in our own hands. Guns are and will always be apart of that as long as we are this kind of human.
    Unfortunately, what happened a few days ago is all to familiar. It is unbearably sad – but guns are not the problem, we are.

  53. E.A. Blair
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I think a situation is building that verges on violating part one of last week’s post “Moar Roolz”:

    1. Please do not dominate threads with your comments. If you exceed 15% of the total comments, you are commenting too often. What I particularly dislike is one-on-ones, where two people go hammer and tongs at each other. (I have never seen a rapprochement from these engagements!). Take it to private email if that happens.

    There is a commenter her to whom I shall no longer be responding nor acknowledging, even though I would like to know if Wayne LaPierre signs checks in blood. I guess I’ll never know.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Typo apology: “her” should have been “here”.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been thinking this about the same commenter for a few days, now, regarding several other posts as well. Debating whether or not to employ the “troll” word…

  54. Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Most of the people I speak to think America has gone to the dogs. Why are they hanging onto ancient laws which have no benefits for the people. It’s like the Slavery law, that was abolished. But the diehards thought that it was every American’s right to own a slave or 2. We know what happened to that. America do you not realize the WHOLE WORLD is watching you in disgust. How many more innocent children will die before you give up on this pipe dream of owning a gun is your right, You’re not cowboys anymore.

    • microraptor
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      It’s because of our deification of a group of men who wrote a document that they knew was imperfect at the time but has since come to be viewed as scripture.

      • Posted December 23, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Jefferson thought we should write a new Constitution every 19 years. Madison who wrote the Bill of Rights, would be appalled at the lengths to which it has been abused. This is a very different world, a very different society than in 1891 when that document was ratified.

  55. RF
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I find this “everyone else is doing it” argument rather unpersuasive. If all the other countries jumped off a cliff, should we? Other countries have anti-blasphemy laws. Should we? And the question “Is there any credible justification for allowing Americans to own guns and carry them around concealed?” does not strike me as being asked in good faith.

  56. marksolock
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  57. John Deer
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Guns in the hands of the people as a defense against tyranny might have been reasonable in 1800, when guns where the latest thing in warfare. Given that a tyrant would have access to anything from tanks to nukes I think the law should be updated: citizens should have the right to an F-15 in their backyard

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      … where it will blow their house flat if they should try to start it up ;)

      That sort of underlines the impracticality of the militia myth – modern weapons are so high-tech and high-infrastructure that no practical group of citizens could operate them.

      (I had a friend who was a serious gun collector. Oddly enough he was also an animal lover who had long ago given up shooting at anything except tin cans. His most imposing weapon was a Vickers machine gun which was really no danger to anybody – even if he’d suddenly gone insane, by the time he’d managed to drag this huge thing out into his garden plus the ammunition boxes and set it up on its tripod, the neighbours would have had time to walk out of range…)


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