Imagine no guns

It keeps happening over and over again.  Six people, including several students at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), were killed by a deranged, 22-year-old student from another school, Elliott Rodger,Thirteen people were injured as well, and apparently Rodger killed himself as the cops closed in.

One of those killed was Christopher Martinez, a 20-year-old student at UCSB who was inside a deli. His father, Richard Martinez, gave this angry and moving speech at a press conference yesterday.

Yes, Rodger had serious problems, but serious problems for someone like him become deep tragedies for others when guns are readily available.  It’s time to stop the madness, and quash the power of the nefarious National Rifle Association, which simply sees these deaths as a byproduct of our ineluctable right to own guns.  The Second Amendment should either be construed as the right to own guns in a militia, or it should be overturned. That won’t happen, of course, for, when it comes to guns, Americans have lost their senses.

Can you hear the heartbreak in Mr. Martinez’s voice and not think that the NRA’s position, and the general American penchant for guns, is deeply dysfunctional? It is unbelievable but true that if many Americans had their way, the situation would be worse—all the way up to our right to own fully automatic weapons and portable missile launchers. Will that stop the slaughter of innocent people? I haven’t heard the NRA offer a solution.

The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world: 88 guns per 100 people (that’s scary!). And no, we don’t have the highest rate of gun-induced homicide in the world—there are other social factors affecting these statistics—but it’s way up there.

Imagine if we had the same strict gun-ownership policies as England, where the rate of homicide by firearms is only 2%  that of the U.S., and there are only 6.2 firearms per 100 people.

If you’re going to weigh in below on the side of the NRA, then please give me your solution to the problem of these recurrent killings.

196 Comments

  1. Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Maybe foreign governments should put the NRA on their lists of terrorist organizations.

    • thh1859
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      What a good idea!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      In the sense of arrest if found, deportation immediately (at deportee’s expense), put on the no-fly list (including the ones that get sent to America, and with the flag “known member of terrorist organisation” as the reason, not “member of the NRA”.
      And there would, of course, be no interest in answering the American courts if they demand to be told which terrorist organisation Joe Sixgun belongs too.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

        The NRA is, after all, far better at killing Americans than Al Quaeda. This could certainly qualify it for the terrorist list, I would have thought.

        Their only slightly redeeming factor (and I say this as a totally cynical foreigner) is that, unlike many wacko American organisations, the NRA doesn’t seem particularly active in exporting its brand of mental derangement to other people’s countries. Which gives me considerable comfort.

    • Billy
      Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      I own a 9mm semi automatic hand gun and have a non professional license to carry. I don’t hunt, and I don’t carry my gun. I got my license because it takes away a lot of restrictions when traveling with my gun (crossing state borders when loaded, etc.). I love target shooting. It is really fun. My experience has been that people who fear/hate guns have not had opportunities to shoot or learn about them.

      I also believe that gun ownership and background checks should be more strict. No loopholes! A major crackdown on gun ownership will not affect my hobby, nor other law abiding owners. My type is usually quiet because we don’t want to be branded as a gun-toting psychopath. The fringes are the loudest. Both the “Gubment can’t take me guns!” and “All guns should be illegal!” There is a middle ground.

      Shootings like this are a tragedy that should never happen. These can be prevented. The NRA is wrong; gun ownership is a privilege, not a right, much like voting. Just as convicted felons cannot vote, they should not be able to own a gun. Rational minds can see there is a middle ground.

      Peace, empathy, and reason.

  2. Barry Lyons
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    “The Second Amendment should either be construed as the right to own guns in a militia, or it should be overturned.”

    That is exactly right, and I’ve been saying this for years.

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      I would love to ask the Supremes who keep voting for unrestricted gun ownership what they think that part of the Second Amendment about the militia is doing there.

      They act like it’s irrelevant. But they are the ones who keep talking about the original intent of the framers. What gives? L

      • bpuharic
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Our conservative court loves to give the illusion that we’re free. If the 2nd actually was related to freedom you can bet they’d restrict it.

        But it does keep the knuckle walkers at the NRA happy

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          Hey, some of my closer relatives are chimpanzees! They object to being compared to NRA-tards! They demand an apology. Or a banana. Except for Kanji, who’d prefer a locust souffle.

      • Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Who cares what the founder’s intent was? They weren’t gods and certainly could not have had knowledge of the weaponry available today. If anything, the other writings indicate that they supported secular reason, not dogmatic adherence to a policy at all costs. Anyhow, their ideas should stand and fall on their own merit even if gun ownership for everyone was the intent.

        • Dr.Mami
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          Exactly! Who cares what they thought! Can we think about what makes sense NOW and not way back then to a group of white males?

      • David Cass
        Posted July 9, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        It’s even in the same sentence! To be sure, we’ve lost our way and our senses.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution defines the rights and responsibilities of Congress as follows:

      “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

      The succeeding paragraphs of Section 8 enumerate these rights and responsibilities, including these passages:

      “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

      To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”

      Reading entirely within the context of the Constitution, this is the same “militia” cited in the Second Amendment. This clearly states that only Congress can raise and regulate a militia, which is under the authority of the president as Commander-In-Chief. I am far from being a constitutional scholar, but my understanding of these passages means that all these so-called citizen militias are unconstitutional and should be subject to regulation by the legislature and the authority of the president.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      This is also my opinion. I don’t believe there should be so many guns around.

      The gun lobby will say that mental health care (lack of it) is the problem. I think that is 20% of the problem with gun access being 80%.

      The US dismantled most of mental health care facilities during the 1960s and ’70s.

      • Achrachno
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        “The gun lobby will say that mental health care (lack of it) is the problem.”

        And yet these are the same people who will oppose funding for mental health care.

        “The US dismantled most of mental health care facilities during the 1960s and ’70s.”

        In CA is was the budget cutters assoc. with Reagan who did this — maintaining mental health facilities was expensive. Plus there was a compatible “libertarian” movement in mental health, assoc. with Thomas Szasz, which argued that all people have a right to be free, including the right to live on the streets if that’s where they ended up because they were incapable if managing their lives.

  3. Keith
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Mr. Martinez has it exactly right and I am terribly sad for his loss and all victims of this senseless tragedy. We need more voices to stand firm against the NRA and push for sensible gun restrictions.

    • Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      And he is passionate and eloquent.
      When will we say not any more?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        The next time. And the next. And the one after that.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I wish there were an equally powerful counter lobby group to squash the NRA’s madness and get legislation passed to restrict guns more. There must be billionaires with money to burn who would see this as a worthy cause and I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that a large portion of Americans are actually for greater restrictions on fire arms – it is the NRA that stops the legislation, which to me, flies in the face of democracy.

    Either fight the NRA with another lobby group or find a way to stop these lobby groups from having power at all (a giant systemic change). Both are huge under takings.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      I see where you’re coming from. But despite having been recently (like half an hour ago) been joking about dancing the Dance of the Crushed Testicles on Billy Boyo Gates, I do have to admit that his choices for spending his loot have been generally defensible. Likewise Paul Allen, Ebon Musk to name a few other of the “dot-com” billionaires I can think of. No doubt there are others who could be put in the frame, but things like funding research into poor people’s diseases and better ways to get humans into a plurality of egg baskets, or even to improve our hygiene in our current only egg-basket are defensible choices at the species level of action.

  5. Haris Basit
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    (Below is mostly tongue in cheek — or is it?) Perhaps take a purposefully ironic counter stance. The word ‘arms’ in the 2nd amendment could be applied to chemical and nuclear weapons as well. If we push that angle then perhaps the politicians will be scared straight. Also, having a lot of black people walking around with guns in the capital in Sacramento scared Ronald Reagan when he was governor into passing anti-gun legislation. It would be great to show up with a bunch of minorities openly carrying military style weapons in the middle of NRA small towns. I would volunteer for that march.

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      I think if the gun people want to have concealed carry in schools and churches, that we should allow it in Congress and open sessions of the Supreme Court, too. L

      • Achrachno
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Allowing people to have firearms at an NRA convention is something to consider. They don’t allow them now, you know.

        • Trophy
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          Wow. Really? I didn’t know that and it’s so telling. If they really believe more guns make the society safe, then they should encourage more people with guns at their meetings. If it doesn’t happen, then they are obvious hypocrites.

          • Achrachno
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

            Their defenders blame this on the city/venue, but as far as I can tell they’ve managed to hold their annual meeting every year (at least since 2010, I’ve not searched further) in a place where attendees had to pass through metal detectors and guns were forbidden. Weird coincidence? I’m guessing not.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          I think your spelling checker needs a recalibration. It’s correcting “Requiring people…” to “Allowing people…”, which changes the meaning somewhat.

          • Achrachno
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            Not if you know the NRA types. Just allow and there’ll be a gun in every hand. Functionally, they’re identical.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

              Not if you know the NRA types.

              Fortunately I live in the civilised world.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:01 am | Permalink

        [cynicism ON]: I think concealed carry in churches would be a very good idea. After all, speaking as an atheist, that is at least one place where they’re very unlikely to kill me. 🙂

        P.S. The old trope about shouting “Fire!” could come to have a whole new meaning…

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 12:36 am | Permalink

          “P.S. The old trope about shouting “Fire!” could come to have a whole new meaning…”

          Gawd, I love black humor… 😀

  6. GBJames
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, the NRA “solution” is more guns. Our gun policies are insane.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      There’s no possible way for the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” to have prevented this.

    • quiscalus
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      correct. their “solution” has been offered repeatedly as the only way to stop a crazy person with a guns is a crazier person with more guns. I’ve grown up within this nutty bubble of ignorance but remain unswayed by their “logic” or their influence. The usual retort to gun laws is that “we” have to be armed in order to prevent the guv’ment from controlling us,because thats what Hitler did…never mind that Hitler put more weaponry in the hands of his minions, or that if the government did want to exercise more control over us, the tanks, bombers, jets, missiles, subs, battle ships, aircraft carriers, nuclear warheads, etc. would make short work of any doomsday preper NRA goony hunkered down in their bunker full of hoarded guns, ammo, and spam.

      If there is any sane nation such as France, Belgium,or the UK to name a few that will take me and my son out of this festering heap of crazy…

      • Todd Steinlage
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        I’ve often heard those arguments about “responsible armed citizens standing up to crime”. But when I ask for evidence, it’s almost always a hypothetical “what if…” or “can you imagine how much worse it would be if…” I don’t buy it. My heart is breaking for all these people, and all the countless “smaller” tragedies.

  7. Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Cue the vigilantes (stage right) and the “stand your ground” crusaders lionized by ALEC.

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Mr. Martinez will probably get threats.

      • Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        OMG, I didn’t think of that. Sad, if true.

      • quiscalus
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        yup, and the NRA always feels the need to organize a rally in the city where these mass murders take place, to show how the right to own guns are more important than the right to live. Stay classy, NRA.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    It’s also important to point out that Americans are indoctrinated into regarding the brain as not a “real” organ; it’s seen as something different than the heart, liver or kidneys, and thus not subject to disease or malfunction. We must begin treating mental illness effectively and realistically with less stigma and many more resources. Of course, not having access to guns would be a milestone in the progress of stopping gun violence. I’m just making the obvious point that many of these mass shootings are caused by the untreated mentally ill. According to the reports, this particular gunman had some deranged Youtube posts.

    • reasonshark
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      “It’s also important to point out that Americans are indoctrinated into regarding the brain as not a “real” organ; it’s seen as something different than the heart, liver or kidneys, and thus not subject to disease or malfunction.”

      What, really? This sounds incredible, and I have to ask if you’re exaggerating for effect here.

      • Mark R.
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Yes, some hyperbole, but my point is that the brain is put on a pedestal and the serious issue of mental illness is impeded by denial and skepticism…unlike, say, heart disease. Hope that clarifies.

        • reasonshark
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          Ah, I see.

          Thank you for clarifying, but I have to admit I’m still shocked at this idea that citizens can be so ignorant of psychology and brain anatomy as to think this way about mental illness. Then again, most of them probably don’t think evolution is true, so it follows, I guess, from an inability to see the brain as another organ.

          • Filippo
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:47 am | Permalink

            ” . . . still shocked at this idea that citizens can be so ignorant of psychology and brain anatomy as to think this way about mental illness.”

            Possibly less shocking when remembering, per NSF (via Lawrence Krauss), approx. 50% miss the survey question: “T or F: the Earth goes around the sun and takes a year to do it.”

      • Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        A pastor at the church my wife went to in college used to preach about the evils of psychology. Mental problems were due to the influence of Satan or demons, not due to natural ailments of the brain. Nutty religion and nutty gun views are very closely linked in the United States.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I really take issue with trying to underscore that people who commit these crimes are mentally ill. If they are, then so is everybody who in the history of this planet who decided to murder someone else.

      Sorry, that sort of line of thinking just adds to the already too high stigma attached to mental problems suffered by a number of people. This guy was already in multiple therapies. That didn’t help avert this at all.

      There were multiple problems here, but the fact that he wasn’t the most stable personality out there is not the over-arching one.

      • Achrachno
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Well, in this case it was pretty big. He apparently started out by knifing 3 of his roommates. Getting guns under control would do more than anything, but getting help for those with mental issues is needed too. Whatever care he got was obviously inadequate.

      • Prof.Pedant
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Deciding to murder someone is pretty much a sign of insanity, or being in an insane situation. There are additional factors, but untreated mental illness is a huge factor. Sane people do not go on murderous rampages.

        Being stigmatized sucks, but if murderous rampages are viewed as something that sane people do the incentives to be sane are greatly reduced. I would far rather have untreated depression and social anxiety than risk going on a murderous rampage because being sane allows me to do so.

  9. bonetired
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    In 2011 there were over 32,000 gun deaths from all causes in the United States ( I very much doubt that they have declined since then)

    Just to put that figure into perspective, the number of US deaths during the worst year of Vietnam (1968) was about 16,500 ( Wiki )

    I really don’t think I need to comment on those figures.

    The US numbers come from the University of Sydney’s superb Gun Policy site –

    http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

    It is worth comparing the US rate with that of other countries.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Ouch! I hadn’t summed it all up. But now I know where Martinez’s figures come from. Roughly 70 – 80 years of free guns would do that.

      I hear 2/3 of the numbers are suicides [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States ], but removing guns from easy access would pull that number down too. A great many US suicides are by guns at a guess, the numbers are similar to gun violence or about 30 000/year total. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_the_United_States ]

      I live in a nation who has the 3d highest gun rate (Sweden), but the most popular suicide method isn’t guns but trains. Likely the difference is because we have gun licenses, most guns are licensed for hunting only, and neither guns nor ammunition are allowed outside gun cabinets except for use (either training or hunt).

      So, US is in war with itself. (More than 1000 dead/year in a “conflict”, the conflict being between pro-gunners and anti-gunners.)

      • bonetired
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Using the same site, there were in Sweden in 2010 just 18 gun homicides which works outs at 0.19 per 100,000 people. The equivalent for the US was 3.6 per 100,000.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Martinez’s figure of “2 million dead”, that is.

  10. Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    “…the nefarious National Rifle Association, which simply sees these deaths as a byproduct of our ineluctable right to own guns.”

    Actually, I think a big part of the problem is that the NRA types don’t see a correlation, much less causation, between the relative ease of arming oneself with all sorts of guns and these tragedies. They insist that severely restricting access to firearms will only mean that these tragedies will occur with other weapons, like knives (!), or that heroic, upright citizens will be unable to help stop such tragedies which will continue to occur because the type of person who commits them is the type of person who would illegally own guns.

    I myself don’t pretend to know the details of any actual correlation/causation, but I’d bet good money that many of these massacres fall into the category of a “crime of passion” and/or the perpetrator is not psychologically stable, and that with the right restrictions on gun-ownership, that is, decreased accessibility, incidences of these killing sprees would also decrease.

  11. Jimnight
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    After 11+ months as an infantryman in Vietnam in 1967-1968, I came home hoping to never see one again! After experiencing just what guns, and particularly assault rifles, were capable of doing to someone I thought it was only common sense to live where no one had assault weapons. Now they are being sold at the rate of hundreds of thousands a year because some NRA idiot wing-nuts think it is their “God-given right” own one, and because the NRA has made everyone of that ilk think that Obama is going to make the sale of those weapons illegal in the near future. It is a marvel to me how we, as a nation, have done as well as we have up to now…

  12. Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The statics for gun deaths in America are astounding.

    I also find it amazing that people like Sam Harris, who is so eminently sensible on most subjects can be pro gun.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      He is sensible, but not on all subjects, notably generic woo (buddhism, meditation which AFAIK still lacks science support) – and guns apparently.

      • Kelton Barnsley
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

        What woo does Harris support, specifically?

    • Tim Harris
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’m glad that someone has mentioned Sam Harris. Perhaps he might be invited to say why, in the light of this and so many other murders and massacres, he still thinks that possessing a gun is a right and a good thing.

      • Alan
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Sam Harris clearly states that Americas gun laws are not strict enough and he is openly agaisnt the NRA and their view of the second ammendment. He’s in support of strict licensing laws, mental stability check ups and extensive firearm training for those who want to own firearms. I believe he’s also said that gun licensing should be more like getting a pilots license. His view is highly critical of Americas current legislation. It doesnt seem like this type of “pro gun” attitude in America is unreasonable.

        • Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Sam Harris is for strict licensing. What he points out and rightly so, is that ridding America of guns would be impossible. He is nowhere near the same spectrum as the NRA. The policies he advocates would be much more in line with a place like Sweden.

    • Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Any relation to Thurl?

  13. Ian Belson
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The solution is really rather simple. People can have all the guns that they want if they don’t have a criminal or violent psychiatric record but we should regulate bullets like we regulate pharmaceutical controlled substances. After all guns don’t kill people, bullets do.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      But how do you screen for a criminal or mentally ill future?

      • thh1859
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Look for a Y chromosome.

    • H.H.
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Unlike pharmaceuticals, people can easily and cheaply make their own ammo.

  14. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I read of so many crimes against morality from the NRA. A recent one was the marketing of a simple safety device that would prevent a gun from being fired except by a person wearing an electronic ring or bracelet. This was greeted with great interest by many gun owners and gun sellers. The NRA crushed it. No movement toward increased safety is allowed b/c (they say) that may some day lead to actual gun control.

  15. Boris Molotov
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I don’t think America can afford the massive investment required to clean up the guns per capita problem, which is the root cause here.
    Guns are too highly available and that’s not an easy problem to solve considering the general attitude of the American population towards guns. Any such massive clean-up program would need broad public support with lots of government intervention to be successful. As necessary as it may be, I just don’t that happening easily. Especially, since it’s much easier to waste hot air looking for “other causes”. People sometimes lose it, having a gun around is just too convenient for some, that’s the only cause needed.
    Yes, if by some miracle (i.e. possible but highly improbable event)a constitutional amendment was implemented requiring gun control, it would be a first step.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      the guns per capita problem, which is the root cause here.
      Guns are too highly available and that’s not an easy problem to solve

      Hmmm, not necessarily.
      (1) Control equipment for making home-made bullets by whipping up a spurious PR campaign about home-made dum-dums (a British invention, AFAIK) and the unreliability of home made bullets. Pure PR, just shout louder than the few gun nuts who really care. Reduce the number of people with the equipment to make bullets.
      (2) Push forward (possibly in a compliant foreign country ; I’ll put Britain forward) with development and proving of gun safety measures such as the RFID ring mentioned above (more than 2ft from the ring the gun becomes a club). Get them in use and publicly debugged.
      (3) Regulate that “safe guns” are required to be in a novel calibre, requiring new ammunition which can only be made (or re-loaded) in factories.
      (4) Then stop the sale of old, unsafe calibres of ammunition.
      It’d be hard, I agree. But probably easier than tearing the gun from Rock Hudson’s cold dead fingers.

  16. Posted May 25, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    It’s painful to watch poor Mr Martinez, but despite his grief he’s bang on the money. It’s too simplistic to expect violence to drop off if guns are controlled, but I can’t understand the mindset that thinks there are greater liberties at stake if the right to bear arms is limited even a little bit.

  17. rick A
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I’m a Canadian mental health worker. Americans appeared to have dropped a clause from the fifth amendment of your Constitution “in a duly constituted militia”. The result of this free and easy access to weapons of mass murder is mass murder.

    We have a problem too in Toronto. It is police using semiautomatic handguns to shoot dead, mental health patients-some even in hospital gowns. Some of us think the prudent move would be to disarm police. I know how terrifying A paranoid schizophrenic in Florid delusion can be. The prospect of another Toronto police officer wetting his pants while he kills another innocent citizen is unacceptable. Disarmament starts at home.

    Even one of our number, Sam Harris, is a self-defence gun nut-almost makes me ashamed to be an atheist.

    Peace

    • ladyatheist
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      yes, that a key case at the supreme court expanded gun rights by reinterpreting that

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:29 am | Permalink

      In Australia, the Victorian police are notorious for lethally shooting people displaying mental disturbances in public. In our other States it doesn’t happen nearly as much, but there are a few lethal taserings instead (in Vic they don’t use those wimpy ‘non-lethal’ gadgets).

    • Kelton Barnsley
      Posted May 28, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      If you can’t tell the difference between Sam Harris and a “self-defense gun nut”, you’re part of the reason why we can’t have a rational conversation about gun control in this country.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 28, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        I’m glad people have come to Sam Harris’s defines. I remember when I heard his argument, I went in thinking one thing and came out convinced and I couldn’t remember the whole argument, just that it made sense so I’m glad others did.

        I also always wonder if Sam Harris is just really good at persuading me. He should argue something I would normally never agree to like guinea pigs are terrible animals. If he convinces me, then I’ll know it’s all Sam. 😀

        • Posted May 28, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

          I think Sam Harris often does a great job in illustrating assumptions and biases which readers are naturally not aware they have. I’ve always liked him because he strikes a chord with me when he says that he is liberal by many definitions, but then refuses to reduce his views to such a simplistic dichotomy of liberal vs. conservative.

          With regard to his stance on guns, he does an excellent job removing the ,from the “no gun” position. It’s not tenable, or to be generous, it isn’t tenable in a way that anyone has thought of yet. If someone could propose a way to rid America of guns that wouldn’t involve forcible removal by the military, with you guessed it, guns, then bring it on. A proposal like this would validate the paranoia that the most ardent right wing gun nuts possess.

          The analogy of gun licensing to pilot licensing is an excellent one I think, and there are meaningful steps we can take to address our violence problem based on what the current situation is, not on some ideal unreachable scenario.

  18. Nick260682
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Being English, I may be being naive here, or simply not understanding the nuances of the US political system. But if, as one of the commenters above pointed out, a large proportion of the US population wants to ban guns, or have more stringent laws in place, do you guys not have referendums?

    Surely it’s such a large debate, that it’s worthy of a single issue vote?

    • Dan
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      A majority of Americand favor slightly stricter gun laws than we have now, but it’s stuff like universal background checks and limits on magazine sizes. There surely isn’t a majority asking for banning guns or real strict gun control measures. If we voted on UK styled gun laws I’d be surprise if 25% of the population supported them.

      Also, the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to apply to individual, so they have thrown out a lot of moderate gun control laws. We also don’t have national referendums on issues, and a lot of states have stricter protections on gun ownership that the Federal government does.

      • Dan
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Please excuse the spelling errors. I typed that on my phone and accidentally submitted it early.

    • bpuharic
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      A number of Americans are FANATICS about guns while the general population favors some mild restrictions. The fanatics are truly crazy, thinking that our govt is going to build concentration camps and kill us all unless we have guns to stop them (and no, I’m not exaggerating here.)

      The gun cult is truly a cult in the US, with an ideology of crazed fanatics thinking they’re the only thing stopping the US turning into Nazi Germany (and, again, that’s not a Godwin’s law violation. It’s how they really think.)

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        crazed fanatics thinking they’re the only thing stopping the US turning into Nazi Germany (and, again, that’s not a Godwin’s law violation. It’s how they really think.)And the comical thing (to outsiders) is that many of the people we see making these claims are out there on the lunatic fringe, exactly where the Austrian Lieutenant started off.

      • Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

        What’s even more amazing, for lack of a better word, is that these same gun nuts who insist that we need to have open access to weapons to protect ourselves from the Government also insist that we should never cut, or even increase military spending.

        So on one hand, we’re scared of the Government, on the other we fund it to be more powerful by many orders of magnitude than any other military on Earth.

    • Thylacinidae
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      bpuharic put it very well. The more vocal members of the pro-guns club are off-the-deep-end nuts. It is a cult mentality and they are absolutely scary as fuck. Where most people would second guess when it comes to injuring or killing another human; some of these people I think would not hesitate and might actually enjoy getting the chance to pull the trigger.

      I am a gun owner and frankly the pro-gun nuts scare the crap out of me.

  19. Andrikzen
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    The NRA wants a return to the good old days, a return to frontier justice. Forget the rule of law, if you have a dispute shoot it out. Perhaps we can go back to dueling.

    I rue the day when I’m at the mall and have to duck for cover while the good guys shoot back at the bad guys.

    Amygdala’s and guns do not mix.

    One proposal I heard about, in addition to background checks and banning military weapons ( however defined), is to require every registered gun owner to buy liability insurance for each gun they own, similar to automobile insurance.

    • Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:13 am | Permalink

      I have a family member who is a gun owner living in the deep south. He insists that even licensing guns is Government overreach because “tracking them is the first step to taking them” then goes on to say the only way Obama is getting is guns is to take them from his cold, dead hands.

      Why he doesn’t have this same sentiment about cars, I can’t understand. He doesn’t seem the least bit worried about the Government confiscating his vehicles. In the event of this hypothetical takeover by totalitarians that they always carry on about, wouldn’t an equally crippling move be for the Government to strategically take out vehicles and gas stations? I would argue that limited mobility could even be more devastating that limited weaponry.

  20. aljones909
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Here is an astonishing stat from the BBC radio program “More or Less” (sorry, don’t have the date). The London police fired a total of 15 bullets in a recent four year period. i.e. average of 3.75 bullets per year. My own search gives the size of the London police force (The Met) as 31,000 with the population of Greater London over 8 million.

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      By US standards they’re obviously just not doing their job.

      I found this in Reason Magazine:

      “Meanwhile, On May 5, 2011, a Pima County SWAT team fired 71 bullets into the home of Iraq War veteran Jose Guerena while his wife and four-year-old ducked for cover. That’s one police department, in one county, on one day of 2011.”

      That’s a 17 year supply of bullets for the London PD.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        There is a tendency for police officers to empty their clips into people here as well. A sad example happened in Toronto not long ago where a guy armed with a knife was murdered when a police officer emptied his clip into him then others tazered him.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      That would be bullets fired in action. There would have bee considerably more fired in training and assessments. I hope.
      To put it in context for some Americans – not only are the British police not routinely armed, but many police forces struggle to get sufficient numbers of officers to volunteer to be trained as firearms officers.
      Not being a police recruiting sergeant, I don’t know for sure, but a potential recruit who came along exhibiting knowledge of firearms and a desire to be trained and to use them is more likely to leave the interview unemployed and with his background being investigated then to be recruited. People with that sort of unhealthy interest in guns are, by their very nature, considered suspicious.

  21. alexandra
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Heartbreaking. There will always be mental illness, crazy people, enraged people, but there dont have to be guns, too, available to them.
    Since politicians, mostly republican but plenty of craven democrats,and the supremes are too scared to confront the NRA, there dosn’t seem to be any way to restrain gun ownership. How about money? If foreign countries would tell their citizens and potential US tourists “Don’t go anywhere near the USA, it’s too dangerous” and tourist dollars here dropped way off, maybe, just maybe, money would talk loud enough to stiffen some spines in Washington.
    So very sad – I cannot imagine the grief of needlessly losing a child or friend just because the NRA wants to show its power …no words.

    • quiscalus
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      the irony is that when my son and I took a trip to Belgium several years ago, I was repeatedly warned about how dangerous it is in Europe. Seriously. England, for example, had 551 murders in 2012, yet Chicago, just ONE CITY, had 506. My own home of Kansas City, which is not very populous by comparison to either Chicago or the whole of England, had a whopping 108! yeah I’m sure glad we are so much safer here in the god-fearing, gun-toting US of A than in those dangerous Atheist countries in Europe or the UK…

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:23 am | Permalink

        Hmm, I just Googled – the total number of deaths in Northern Ireland during the IRA insurrection from 1969 to 2000 (when it tailed off) was a bit under 3500. That’s civilian plus combatants. Average a bit over 100 a year. About the same as Kansas City, in other words. The worst year, at the start (1972), was 479.

        Though I’m not sure if that excludes ‘domestic’ murders.

        Source:
        http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/jun/10/deaths-in-northern-ireland-conflict-data

  22. bonetired
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Oh … and in case anyone (which I doubt given the fact that most people on this not-a-blog are rational but it can be useful elsewhere) mentions Switzerland and guns ….

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21379912

  23. bpuharic
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    We DO have the highest gun related murder rate in the developed world by a factor of 3-4X

    The 2nd should be repealed. No one has ever made a coherent argument FOR it and NO advanced free country has anything like it. It’s useless except to cause death.

  24. Tye
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    except…. the three men killed were stabbed.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Oh. That makes it all better, I guess.

      • Tye
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        Makes it easier to… imagine no guns.

        • M'thew
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:20 am | Permalink

          How about drive-by stabbings? I guess it’s not as easy to get out of the car, stab someone to death, hop back into the car and drive off to repeat this somewhere else. Of course people will kill each other with different implements if guns aren’t readily available, but guns just make it so easy and quick.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 3:48 am | Permalink

      “the three men killed”

      And the other three were shot, or did you miss that?

  25. Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    You ask “Can you hear the heartbreak in Mr. Martinez’s voice and not think that the NRA’s position, and the general American penchant for guns, is deeply dysfunctional?”

    I’ve had a [snort] and an [eyeroll] in my Facebook feeds already over the “notion” that “sure, it’s the NRA’s fault”.

  26. Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Why do gun toters feel the need to have guns at hand at all times? What are the gun-toters so afraid of that they feel the need to have semi-automatic hand guns and semi-automatic rifles based on assault rifle designs at their side?

    A Gallop poll taken in 1959 revealed that 60% of Americans favored banning handguns. By 2011, that percentage was down to 26%. Why?

    The second thing we must do to reduce the incidence of mass killings is provide universal mental healthcare. The first, is to require universal background checks of gun buyers.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      People are afraid. They are under the mistaken impression that violence is everywhere. It’s like mass anxiety.

      • Cremnomaniac
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Yes, fear. Wasn’t it fear the Bush used to manipulate this country into war? Isn’t mass media responsible because very incident is reported, making it seem like its right outside the door?
        Isn’t it the tact of the NRA to warn against an abusive government, and guns will protect them.
        Fear is a big part of the sickness I mentioned below, but its not the whole story.
        I wonder what the correlation is between general fear/insecurity of the populace and a countries religiosity?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          There was a study that showed those with more conservative tendencies were more fearful and more easily startled. I think that study was criticized a lot though so I don’t know how valid its results were.

          • Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

            Certainly, when 40$ of the country thinks Jesus is coming back within a generation or two, and with him all the terrible events that go along with Armageddon, one doesn’t have to look far to see where this fear comes from, at least a large part of it.

      • Alan
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        Most people are fearful of violence, not just those who carry a firearm. Isn’t that the reason for this discussion? We are scared that us or the people we care for may be shot by some idiot.

    • Thylacinidae
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      The news is in your face and constantly reporting crimes, crime waves, and crime sprees. They hype it up and continuously drive home that there are bad people out there that want to hurt you. Now, compare that to the 50s when you hear almost nothing about crimes… People just assume that back then was perfect and now there are hoodlums out there just waiting to rob/rape/murder/steal your kidneys and leave you in a bathtub full of ice.

      Yes, they are afraid. They are also irrational. That lump of metal is a security blanket keeping them protected from all the bad stuff in the world.

  27. Richard C
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I personally wish instead of listing murder/homicide rate *by guns*, which of course we’ll be high since we have so many guns, supporters of gun control should list overall murder rate. As NRA fans love to point out, there are many ways to kill someone and guns are sometimes just convenient.

    Total homicides per capita, we’re almost 5 times higher than the UK and 3 times higher than Canada. No western European country comes close; in eastern Europe / former Soviet bloc countries you just get a few countries like Lithuania matching or surpassing our homicide rates. And then of course there’s Russia (almost double ours).

    https://www.unodc.org/gsh/en/data.html

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      “guns are sometimes just convenient”.

      But that is just it, when it comes to suicides. As I commented on above, since suicides are such a large part of US gun killings, one should tease out the increased suicide rate that likely appends to having easy access.

      As a comparison, suicides here doesn’t use knives, roofs or something else with similar easy access substitute. They go to a train track to make sure it is instantaneous, which takes a lot more premeditation.

      I don’t know of if it can be done, but concentrating on just murder rate doesn’t capture the whole gun problem.

      • bonetired
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Again from the Gun Control site ( what would I do with out it?) the UK suffered in 2011/12 653 homicides by any means. Of these 38 were from gun homicides. The equivalent for the US was 15,953 of which 11,101 were via guns.

        • Richard C
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          The UNODC charts from the URL I posted has the same data. Of course, simply showing how *many* people died isn’t useful since the US has so many more people. Per-capita it’s 4.7 homicides per 100,000 in the US vs 1 per 100,000 in the UK.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        They go to a train track to make sure it is instantaneous,

        For the suicide, or for the train driver?
        I have this deeply horrible thought experiment where Google go to Sweden to run trials of their driver-less train and the track gets … messy.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:42 am | Permalink

          Speaking as a regular train passenger, I strongly support suicide-by-gun as an alternative. (This should not be construed as any sort of support for guns in general). But I feel suicides should at least have the decency to off themselves without causing maximum inconvenience to everybody else, which jumping under a train does. It doesn’t inconvenience the train in the slightest, but unfortunately under standard police policy of spreading the inconvenience as widely as possible, they are likely to hold up the train for hours and stop traffic on the line while they ‘investigate’.

          P.S. to Aidan: It doesn’t make any difference if the train is driverless or not, the train still won’t stop in time. Ligne 1 of the Paris Metro is driverless, by the way.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:25 am | Permalink

            The point of the trains being driverless is that the (stereotypically) polite and considerate Swedes might choose to use a train with no driver to distress.
            In other news

          • Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:31 am | Permalink

            I have that issue in New York too. Several times a year, my train is delayed, sometimes significantly, due to “unauthorized pedestrians” being struck.

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 29, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

              I’ll never forget being on a packed T platform beneath Copley Square with everything ground to a halt due to a jumper. Everyone of us was thinking, “that asshole!”

              • Jim Knight
                Posted May 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

                Reply to Diane G.: If you think the jumper was an asshole, try the guy who commits suicide with a gun. Someone has to clean up that mess!! In my case, no janitor service would touch the aftermath. If a person needs to off him/herself, use chemicals! Pills are available, and the blood is negligible…

              • Posted May 29, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

                Yeah would it really kill them to wait till off hours and take advantage of one of the numerous bridges available?

                Sorry, I couldn’t resist the horrible pun there.

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 29, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

                Jim, yecchh, that’s awful–so sorry.

                Chris–“off hours”–LOL!

                Now, FWIW, I should mention that after the subway incident I did go home and question my humanity.

  28. ladyatheist
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I read much of the guy’s manifesto last night. He was a spoiled brat who got whatever he wanted from his parents and didn’t understand why the world didn’t act the same way. i.e., he just needed to grow up. He was also narcissistic – he was short and not particularly special but thought he deserved to hang out with the cool kids and date beautiful women/girls. He acted like women & girls were a total mystery to him yet he had a sister!

    He was victimized by bullies but otherwise his life was either rather ordinary or rather special (his mother is friends with George Lucas and took him to premieres). It certainly wasn’t the horror he imagined it to be. After reading his whines & rants, I admire Princess Diana’s trips with her boys to Africa even more. She had her problems but she tried to prevent her kids from becoming spoiled brats.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      ” . . . the guy’s manifesto . . . a spoiled brat . . . didn’t understand why the world didn’t act the same way . . . needed to grow up . . . narcissistic . . . .”

      Sounds like a ballpark definition of “American Exceptionalism.”

      “– he was short . . .”

      Is shortness ( and third-parties’ comments thereabout) something he lamented about in his manifesto? (I wonder what minimum height one must be so that ones height – as well as other physical characteristics over which one has no control – does not become the object of third-party attention/commentary.)

      ” . . . and not particularly special but thought he deserved to hang out with the cool kids and date beautiful women/girls.”

      No doubt, in this American pop culture, “cool kids” are the gold standard and arbiters of the specialness to which one ought aspire.

      • jsoon71
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Yes, he repeatedly lamented the fact that he was both short and not as strong as the other boys. This seems to have begun as early as 4th or 5th grade.

  29. Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Elliot Rodger bought his three handguns legally. Police interviewed this guy at the request of a mental health expert, but only talked to him at his door. Rodger himself says if they had searched his apartment, his ‘plan’ would have been foiled.

    No new proposed gun law that I have ever heard of that would be Constitutional would have prevented this tragedy.

    The system as it exists almost prevented this tragedy. Hopefully, cops will learn from this and search more people’s apartments. Would have been nice if the cops’ database included info on Rodger’s gun purchases. Wouldn’t be surprised if the NRA had something to do with that.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I think 25 should be the minimum age for a handgun or AK-47. That’s the age when the prefrontal cortex is fully developed, and 16-25 is the peak age for first symptoms of serious mental illness. If you screen an 18-year-old for a felony, anything they’ve done in the past is sealed in juvie court and they may still be “odd” rather than the schizophrenic they will become.

      • Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        What? You think people should be able to own AK-47s? What’s the rationale for that?

        • ladyatheist
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          Noooo I don’t, but if they’re going to have them they should be older! The hunting culture is beyond redemption, but at least you can’t mow down dozens of people with hunting rifles. It’s hard to commit suicide with one of those too.

          Personally, I don’t think anyone needs a semi-automatic anything, nor do they need clips with dozens of bullets.

      • Richard C
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Considering how many kids get guns from their parents’ collection, I don’t know how effective a higher minimum age to buy a gun would help.

    • Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      The Coyne Antigun Law would: the prohibition of private ownership of handguns. In fact, that law was enacted by Washington D.C., but was later struck down by our *&^$#!!*( Supreme Court.

      In my administration, we would have the British system.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        The Canadian system works pretty well too.

  30. Elmer fudd
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Militias!? Is there anyone who wants that either? Who gets to decide how a militia is defined? I am beginning to think we need to scrap anyone’s right to arms ownership, let’s forget the hunting class too. I think maybe a few more wild predators will do instead of Remington’s.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Each state’s national guard is the militia for the US.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      See my reply to comment #2 for the way the US Constitution defines a militia.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      And the thing about overthrowing a corrupt government. Good luck with that! If the US government went bad, do you really think the arms accumulated (vast as they are) would deter drones & the various high tech toys at the control of a crazily over armed military?

      Wait, maybe I shouldn’t have said that; now they will want thermo-nuclear weapons for private ownership!

    • Richard C
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      “Well regulated militia”, being an armed civilian force tightly regulated by local community jurisdiction, used for the “security of a free state”. Which is protected from undue federal control.

      In other words, city and state police.

  31. Cremnomaniac
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read a handful of the comments, so apologies if this is redundant.

    I did see someone mention the mental health system, and the role of the NRA is criticized, however, I’m not sure I lay blame entirely on gun ownership.

    Let be clear, as one who has been the victim of a random shooting (yes I have), and having background in psychology, I do not support broad gun ownership. However, it seems to me that there is far few asking the question, “what is going on in our society that gives rise to this kind of behavior?”

    Certainly, restricting access to guns is important. A knife wielding student would do less damage, but the principle question remains. NOBODY seems to want to address the question because it places responsibility in all our hands. There may be some that are willing to step up, but too many want the responsibility to be someone else’s. It’s not just the NRA.

    Yes, mental health is important and it has been severely restricted. Here in California the days of mental institutions closing under Reagan remains vivid. I had a brother that needed those services. BUT, There is something in the water, so to speak. If anyone recalls, the movie Fahrenheit 911 highlighted some serious attitudes, and is likely the tip of the iceberg. We are becoming a sick society and these shootings are a manifestation of that sickness, just like the NRA, or wars without cause, or god bless our soldiers, etc. Somebody needs to look in the mirror. No, I can not blame it all on gun access and ownership, its more than that.

    • Cremnomaniac
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Correction: The movie I should have referenced was “Bowling for Columbine.”

    • reasonshark
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      You’re coming across as rather cryptic. What specifically convinces you that the USA is “becoming a sick society”?

      • cremnomaniac
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Maybe I should have said dysfunctional. What parameter would you like to consider?
        U.S. ranks 3rd in poverty and
        ranks 4th in child poverty – out of 30 OECD member nations,
        14th in teenage suicide,
        20th in suicide,
        1st in mood disorders,
        1st in sending people to jail,
        7th in homicides – of 87 countries,
        33rd in acceptance of evolution (of 34),
        15th in literacy (of 27),
        ranks 134th out of 164 countries in terms of guaranteed maternity and parental leave policies,
        1st in small arms ownership,

        This isn’t a report card that screams healthy society, is it?.

        • reasonshark
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

          Yes, those parameters illustrate your point nicely. But MAN, I didn’t realize the USA was THAT bad… O.O

  32. E.A. Blair
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    A new post at Crooks and Liars indicates that Rodger’s parents tried to do something about their son’s violent impulses a month ago, but couldn’t do anything more because of the laws passed by Governor Rayguns in the ’70s. The post links to a related item in the LA Times.

  33. Col
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m quite curious about the Canada-USA difference. Such similar cultures, histories, and gun ownership rates. But, such different homicide by gun rates. I can’t remember specifics but I think Steven Pinker wrote in Better Angels that he thought it was because the ‘law’ colonised the west of Canada together with the settlers and so we missed the whole wild west thing with our expansion west. Seems plausible but that’s one hell of a cultural carry-over… and no clue how you’d test that idea

    • MikeN
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      The argument put up by gun rights supporters is that it’s all the fault of the black people (and Hispanics).

      In the late 80s there was a study comparing Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle showing that while income, eduction etc. were comparable, Seattle had much higher homicide rates.

      Critics pointed out that gun-violence rates among non-Hispanic whites in Seattle were about the same rate as in Vancouver.

      • Filippo
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        Anyone here in-the-know about the place of guns in Latin American culture? (Re: so-called Latin “machismo,” its Anglo equivalent no doubt just as intense.)

      • Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        There’s no doubt the demographics behind violent crimes, including murders, indicate a widespread problem amongst minorities. Not that there isn’t some responsibility to be placed on those groups for their behavior, but what we essentially have is victim-blaming in a society where we have thankfully made much progress in terms of Civil Rights, but that has led to much more indirect ways of promoting racism.

        Chief among these is the “War on Drugs” where the United States has an unimpressive history of creating drug laws which target minorities. When we have the largest jail system in the world and a large chunk of the inmates are minorities put there for nonviolent drug crimes, and then these crimes permanently affect their ability to retain a well-paying job, well we’ve got a pretty vicious cycle going.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Steven Pinker talks of the southern US being colonized by Scots Irish (yay!) who came from a rural honour culture. I believe he mentioned that the northern US as well as Canada were from urban England and not of the same honour culture.

      Also, Canada has a different history of how it came to be – a lot by good luck after the war of 1812 where the US came to be through open rebellion and war. Therefore we tend to see government differently and tend to see guns differently.

      • Boris Molotov
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s too general, it doesn’t explain Quebec or some western provinces whose immigrant populations are not dominated by English/Loyalist decent.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          Confederation took the French idea in as well. It’s why official bilingualism was brought into the constitution. A general over view of the influences on Canadian culture are explained here.

          • Boris Molotov
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            Not sure what it has to do with the constitution or conferation. What I am saying is that there is no blanket “Canadian Culture” with respect to gun control, as many in the mid-west would be more against gun control whereas, in Quebec, there would be more support. It kind of matches the predominant politics prevelant in those respective areas. Quebec, for example, wanted to keep the long gun registry.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

              The question is about the difference between American and Canadian culture.

              Where there may be regional differences mostly wrt gun control, it is an urban vs. rural divide. Further, the long gun registry was flawed and I don’t think reflects attitudes toward gun control. The reason I was against it was because if you registered guns (which were already registered BTW) the police could enter and search your home without a warrant simply because you owned a gun. That was a constitutional violation. Therefore, people who support gun control like me may be anti long gun registry. Canada already has a good system. The extra stuff was unnecessary and ineffective in reducing gun crime.

          • Boris Molotov
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            I would also add that those two areas have a mixed culture, mid-west with German and Eastern European descent while Quebec a mix of French, Irish and Native American among many others in both cases.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              Ok my bad, I didn’t say “mainly” as it was the government of France and the government of England that had colonies in what became Canada. As far as I know, the Irish, German and Russian (you forgot the Doukhobors) did not have colonies in BNA.

      • Col
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        I do remember that part but did he not also mention the fact that the Mounties were sent west to colonise together with the colonisers and that this might have led to a longer tradition of stricter law and order? I guess this seems more likely than the cultural differences of colonisers still having major detectable effects today…at least to me.

        Or maybe I am making this up and just remembering the Heritage Minutes of my youth

        <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lab6gyWsMXo&quot; Sam Steele

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 26, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          I can’t remember that part. I think a big difference though is that we had no need for a militia or fear of corrupt government in Canada because we were just well behaved colonists :). That meant not needing a right to bear are a clause in our constitution.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 26, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

            Arms not are. Screw you ipad.

  34. Brian Jeffs
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    We must ban knives as he used one to kill 3 people. Damn knife lobby.

    Because blaming the object is better than blaming the murderer.

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Pg. 24, NRA Book of Stupid Arguments, 1st ed.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        +1

        • Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

          It’s related to the argument on pg. 25 of the book, “Nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people kill people.”

  35. Rich
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Since I respect you, and agree with you on a number of other topics, I’ll stick my head in your echo chamber and dare to disagree.

    I have no idea how to do formatting in a blog comment, and I hope WP doesn’t squish it all into an unreadable clump.

    (The Second Amendment should either be construed as the right to own guns in a militia, or it should be overturned. That won’t happen, of course, for, when it comes to guns, Americans have lost their senses.)

    Many millions of US citizens disagree with you, and, thanks to citizens like them who lived 2 centuries ago, you have the right to say that.

    (Can you hear the heartbreak in Mr. Martinez’s voice and not think that the NRA’s position, and the general American penchant for guns, is deeply dysfunctional?)

    Of course, I hear Mr. Martinez’s grief. But does it make me think of the NRA? Of course not. Because, as is often pointed out when dealing with woo, co-incidence is not causation. This killer stabbed 3 people to death before using guns. I don’t hear you volunteering to give up your kitchen knives. In fact, people are, stomped to death each year by cowboy boots, so perhaps such boots should be banned – they are too dangerous for the public!

    (It is unbelievable but true that if many Americans had their way, the situation would be worse—all the way up to our right to own fully automatic weapons and portable missile launchers.)

    You have a funny definition of worse. The the number of crimes prevented by guns each year is huge. In fact, it exceeds the number of people murdered with guns by several orders of magnitude. The lowest figure I saw was 100,000 and the highest was 2,500,000. I believe the real figure is somewhere in the middle.

    So, since you’re appealing to emotion in the face of facts, instead of watching Mr. Martinez in his grief, imagine a hundred desolate fathers and mothers bewailing their murdered children because no gun was available to protect them. Just because prevented crimes don’t get the press, and are often unreported, doesn’t mean that that the prevention didn’t occur. For every high-profile spree-killing death, how many un-publicized murders are you willing to tolerate? 10? 100? And, how many rapes? 100? 1000? And how many robberies? How would that affect the quality of life in this country? Badly, and for far more people than are currently affected by “gun violence.”

    By the way, Americans already have the right to own fully automatic weapons. Roughly 120,000 are in private hands (and a similar number in police hands). By the way, do you know how many crimes have been committed by people with legally owned fully automatic weapons? Two such crimes have been committed in the last 80 years (and one of those was committed by a police officer).
    As to portable missile launchers … I hear your frustration. Something terrible happened, and you want to DO SOMETHING. Unfortunately, you, and I, cannot change human nature. We cannot create a perfect world, and, to a great extent, when we try too hard to remove all risk, we end up worse off than we were when we started.

    (Will that stop the slaughter of innocent people? I haven’t heard the NRA offer a solution.)

    Well, machine guns and/or missiles are not relevant to stopping spree killers. As to increased firearms carry, that would certainly lessen the problem. Encountering an armed citizen (or armed police officer) tends to stop spree killings. When confronted, a significant number of such killers commit suicide. Increasing the number of armed citizens would make a significant improvement in the outcome of such incidents.

    There are over 300,000,000 million people in this country. A very small percentage of those people will snap, and will do terrible things. It is impossible to prevent all of those instances from occurring. Focusing solely on those isolated tragedies blinds you to the bigger picture. Your “solution” of removing all guns from the hands of non-criminals might have saved a handful of people the other day, IF, the murderer hadn’t simply continued his murder spree with knives, but it would have also caused a great number of rapes, robberies and murders. Yes, gun murders: you have no “solution” for getting guns out of the hands of criminals – you only take them from the law-abiding. Yes, this killer got his guns legally, despite CA’s strict gun laws. But, he could have obtained one illegally with ease. This case is, in fact, another demonstration that strict gun laws are utterly useless.

    (The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world: 88 guns per 100 people (that’s scary!).)

    Not to me. The day my (now ex) wife fended off a stalker who became a would-be rapist with a gun, I was very glad she had that gun. The police were 10 minutes away. BTW, she didn’t have to pull the trigger. He lived to stalk her again, which he did for another 3 years, despite a restraining order. We called the police multiple times, as he sat outside our house, watching my wife through the window. However, he never stayed there long enough for the police to catch him. He got away with it many, many, times. The only thing that kept him out of the house was the knowledge that, if he entered the house, he would face a loaded gun. In the end, he took a job outside the US, and that ended the torture. It was beyond the power of the government to assist.

    (And no, we don’t have the highest rate of gun-induced homicide in the world—there are other social factors affecting these statistics—but it’s way up there.)

    You imply that none of the murders committed with guns would have occurred had guns not been available. That’s rhetorically cute, but it’s silly. In countries with less guns, murderers use other implements – a murderer will murder. Also, most of our gun murders are in inner city areas and are overwhelmingly gun and drug related. The rest of the country has a much lower rate. If we had a decent solution to the inner city gang problem, the US statistics would be very different. Perhaps, if your efforts were directed towards ending that cycle of poverty and crime, instead of towards persecuting innocent gun-owners, you might actually accomplish something.

    (Imagine if we had the same strict gun-ownership policies as England, where the rate of homicide by firearms is only 2%  that of the U.S., and there are only 6.2 firearms per 100 people.)

    While you’re cherry-picking data, you fail to mention the U.K. violent crime rate which is now 1.5 times the rate here when you take into account the different definitions of “violent crime” used in the US and UK. And, according to a recent poll, 70% of the U.K. population wants the gun ban reversed. For the first time in UK history, their police have to carry. Why? Because criminals still find it easy to get firearms. Despite having “no guns” and an Orwellian surveillance state, they still can’t get crime under control, and people feel far less safe on the streets than they did 20 years ago.

    (If you’re going to weigh in below on the side of the NRA, then please give me your solution to the problem of these recurrent killings.)

    I think you need to defend your position, and you can’t. In the last 2 decades, while gun ownership in the US has skyrocketed, violent crime is down by half. US gun crime is universally highest where gun laws are strictest. These laws simply don’t work in the context of the US. In fact, the number of mass shootings are down, both in percentage and absolute number, while the population of the US, and gun ownership, has climbed dramatically.
    Instead of demanding a solution from the NRA, I should demand a solution from you, because your philosophy would not only fail to solve the problem, it would make the US a far worse place to live.

    Demanding that the NRA come up with a solution for crazy is pointless. Imagining that disarming innocent citizens would improve the country is not only pointless, but crazy.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      “You have a funny definition of worse. The the number of crimes prevented by guns each year is huge. In fact, it exceeds the number of people murdered with guns by several orders of magnitude. The lowest figure I saw was 100,000 and the highest was 2,500,000. I believe the real figure is somewhere in the middle.”

      Cite your sources and give a link.

      “Demanding that the NRA come up with a solution for crazy is pointless.”

      How about asking the NRA to stop promoting crazy – and by crazy, I mean crap like this)?

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Lets start with this: I am not anti-gun, it’s your business how you spend your money, and so long as you aren’t going to shoot people I don’t particularly care.

      I am however anti-bullshit, and the whole guns prevent crime thing? That’s bullshit.

      First of all, if that was the case, you wouldn’t see things like dropping gun sales accompanied by dropping crime.

      Gun manufacturing over the past decade has dropped about 50%, meanwhile crime has hit a 30 year low.

      http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=131017

      However the relationship goes, the correlation between gun ownership and crime prevention just isn’t there.

      In fact actual studies have repeatedly shown that guns are increased risk factor for violent crime.

      This is because if you look at the nature of murder, a fair chunk of the time, and that includes in high crime societies like mine (I am a South African), if somebody gets murdered it is by somebody they know.

      In fact in real terms if you look at the stats you will find that the number of times guns are used in self defence is lower than their contribution to suicide and accidental death figures.

      Not only that but gun ownership also increases the risk of getting robbed – why? Because criminals will target gun owners in order to get guns.

      Now to repeat, I am not anti-gun – if you want a gun, that’s your business, it is your risk to take. The guy who just really likes guns isn’t the one I’m worried about.

      The one who spends his life terrified of crime, who ties his security to his gun and loudly fantasises about killing criminals, that guy worries me a lot more than somebody who just thinks they’re pretty.

      Oscar Pistorius’ criminal defence at the moment is trying to use a Generalised Anxiety Disorder to get him off the murder charge.

      The NRA tendency to sound exactly like it is a convention of GAD sufferers does not to my mind support their case very well.

      • Posted May 26, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Gun sales are down?
        The CNN article is based on a valuation of S&W, and ONE gun store’s sales of one year to the other, rather than SALES FIGURES over any period of time.

        Here’s a REALISTIC picture, NICS background checks that are done each time a firearm is sold in a store.

        S&W’s value as a company had nothing to do with “gun sales”, but LOTS with a boycott of THEIR guns because they colluded with Clinton and his anti-gun policies.

    • bonetired
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 2:18 am | Permalink

      Your comparison between the UK and the US concerning violent crime is just wrong. You mentioned that there are different definitions of violent crime between the two countries but you don’t mention HOW different they are. For example (and a caveat here – this applies to England and Wales. Scotland has a different judicial system), the Home Office ( the British Interior Ministry responsible for Laura Norder) defines violent crime to include all “crimes against the person,” including simple assaults, all robberies, and all “sexual offenses,” as opposed to the FBI, which only counts aggravated assaults and “forcible rapes.” Lets see how that changes the situation?

      Because of that, it gets VERY difficult to compare owing to different definitions. However, Daniel Bier ( who writes the SKeptical Libertarian blog) looked in detail at the figures and attempted to reconcile the two sets of data. He came to the initial conclusion that the UK does indeed have a higher rate of violent crime BUT that the difference is nowhere as much as popular memes has it. Later he revised (see update 1 in the link below) the figures even more downwards for the UK – again due to the different definitions.

      He however made that probably correct point that “considering how differently crime is treated and defined in the two countries, it’s not possible to parse the data any further, in my opinion, but my point was simply to show how incredibly wrong it is to make comparisons of two rates that are measuring fundamentally different crimes.” which translates to: under no circumstances can UK statistics be compared to US ones.

      Full details here.

      http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/01/12/fact-checking-ben-swann-is-the-uk-really-5-times-more-violent-than-the-us/

      There is a good summary of his arguments here:

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jun/24/blog-posting/social-media-post-says-uk-has-far-higher-violent-c/

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:17 am | Permalink

      “There are over 300,000,000 million people in this country.”

      I’m pretty sure that’s not true, and I’m also skeptical about your stats on the number of crimes prevented by guns.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:35 am | Permalink

        313.9 million (2012) US population.

      • Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        I agree. I’m quote certain there are not over 300 trillion people in the US.

    • aljones909
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      “And, according to a recent poll, 70% of the U.K. population wants the gun ban reversed.” The figure I can find is 47%. The police federation poll showed 82% of police men and women opposed routine arming. There’s a big debate in Scotland at the moment because about 1.7% of officers are armed (without requiring prior permission from a police chief).

      “For the first time in UK history, their police have to carry. Why? Because criminals still find it easy to get firearms.” We’ve had armed police for a long time in response to specific threats. It is, and always has been, a very rare occurrence (police at airports are now always armed as a response to islamic terrorist attacks).

      “Despite having “no guns” and an Orwellian surveillance state, they still can’t get crime under control, and people feel far less safe on the streets than they did 20 years ago.” Wrong. Crime is falling and is at the lowest level for decades(as in most industrial countries). Whether people feel safe or not has more to do with media coverage rather than actual risk.

      It’s obvious that high gun ownership does not correlate with a low crime rate. Compare all the industrialized countries. Most have strict gun control but much lower crime rates than the U.S. I would tend to give a high weighting to murder. A bullet in the brain is worse than a punch on the nose. As in religiosity – the U.S. is an outlier.

    • Wayne Turner
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      This killer stabbed 3 people to death before using guns. I don’t hear you volunteering to give up your kitchen knives. In fact, people are, stomped to death each year by cowboy boots, so perhaps such boots should be banned – they are too dangerous for the public!

      This is the standard argument, which equates guns with other tools. Guns may be a subset of tools, in that they are a manmade object. But any of the objects that you mentioned, knives, boots, what have you, are easily recognized as being created for another purpose. Guns are made for one purpose only, which is to kill, and are an exception in the list of manmade objects.

      Your other arguments would have more force, except that you are making them in a vacuum. The NRA, and people like you, have blackmailed legislators to pass legislation preventing research into gun violence. When you want to control and argument, control the available information. The NRA, and you, are very good at that.

      As for criminals obtaining guns, most of that comes from ‘licensed’ dealers making straw sales. My source? I can’t cite one, since the NRA backed laws prevent us from determining the truth. Your arguments have equal merit, which is to say, none.

      • Posted May 27, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        “As for criminals obtaining guns, most of that comes from ‘licensed’ dealers making straw sales. My source? I can’t cite one, since the NRA backed laws prevent us from determining the truth.”

        So you feel completely comfortable fabricating some fact to support your position, and then claim that there is no way to know otherwise.

        Then, how’s this fact: 300% of all firearms used in crime come from martians.

  36. Achrachno
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just respond to a couple of points quickly, and maybe more after dinner.

    “I think you need to defend your position, and you can’t. In the last 2 decades, while gun ownership in the US has skyrocketed”

    Number of people owning guns has declined, but the number per guns per nut has increased substantially. The UCSB shooter had three.

    “violent crime is down by half”

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc?

  37. Posted May 26, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on toadliquor and commented:
    No matter how emotional these appeals are, they don’t help. (Calls for bans lead to surges in gun sales). There ARE positive steps that can be taken…

  38. Posted May 26, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is good.

  39. barlofontain
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The American fascination with guns is a peculiar thing to most Europeans, I think. The way the NRA speak of the “need” for them, makes living in the USA sound like a Mad Max movie.

    I, (really do), hate to be a pedant, but it’s a British law, not an English one. I feel this is very important as it was introduced after a massacre in a Scottish school.
    .

  40. Michael the Awesome Mexican Space Pirate
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Gun sales should be regulated. People should need a license to own a gun, and the license should require serious training regarding the use of the gun and gun safety, as well as when a gun should be used and when it should not be used. Mental evaluation should also be included in the requirements to own a gun. And no semi-automatics or fully automatic guns, only handguns.

    • Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      Your comment shows you don’t really know much about guns, and that really detracts from any authority your comments may have.

      Please look into the difference between single-shot, single and double action revolvers, lever action and bolt actions, semi-automatic and fully automatic. All of those can be had in a “handgun”.

  41. Posted May 26, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I’m all for putting an end to the NRA’s ideals which seem to rule this country, but then I don’t think we have much of a choice anymore.

    Yes, we need to put a stopper in gun use and ownership, but then what about the rise of 3D printing? 3D printed guns are becoming much more efficient, and in ways which can’t be controlled. Anyone who says they can be controlled is delusional, since it’s equivalent to arguing that we can control pirating or the online black markets within the Deep Web.

    We’re at that point now where guns will almost always be available by some other means – most assuredly via 3D printing.

  42. Nathan
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    The Killers first 3 victims were stabbed with knives in his apartment. He killed a bicyclist with his BMW and then shot several more. Poison darts in a crowded area could kill far more than what he killed. I do not believe I would be safer in the USA with restrictive gun laws. I travel to Rio and San Paulo where guns are outlawed and yet gun violence is endemic and the people there are literally like sheep to the slaughter. On the other side every Swiss household has an automatic weapon with gun deaths some of the lowest in the world. Maybe the problem is with the culture and not the gun?

  43. aljones909
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    This is the kind of gun control legislation there is in other ‘advanced’ countries.

    Gun control in the Netherlands (from Wikipedia)

    “In The Netherlands, gun ownership is restricted to law enforcement, hunters, and target shooters. Self-defense is not a valid reason to own guns. To obtain a hunting license one must pass a hunters safety course. To get one for target shooting, one must be a member of a shooting club for a year. People with felonies, drug addictions, and mental illnesses may not possess any firearms.

    Once obtained, firearms must be stored in a safe. Firearms may only be used in self-defense as “equal force”. Police will come once a year to inspect your guns. Fully automatic guns are banned, however there are little restrictions on types of guns one may own besides that. Semi-automatics, handguns, and magazines of all sizes are legal, as are all types of ammo. A licensed gun owner may only have five firearms registered to his or her license at one time.”

  44. Pliny the in Between
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    A good start to dealing with the gun fetish in the US is to eliminate the exclusions that gun dealers and manufacturers enjoy from product liability protection. Some idiot gets drunk and sets his aluminum ladder against a power pole and some one gets sued but nothing ever happens when guns are involved.

    • Haris Basit
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      This would work. It will take a lot of political will but much less than repealing the 2nd amendment.

      • Filippo
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        I gather that bullet manufacturers do not enjoy a similar immunity from liability. Is that correct? Can’t imagine NRA tolerating that should a defective bullet explode in the chamber, damaging/injuring firearm/marksman, eh?

  45. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    This is an angle on Rodger’s actions that wasn’t prominent in yesterday’s reports. I think Hamad’s piece gets it right, but the comments there predictably bring out a lot of ‘men’s rights’ narcissists.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:03 am | Permalink

      Good article.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Would these “men’s rights” types be properly labelled “masculinists”? Not that I’ve read much about it, but I’ve never seen the word “masculinist” used to describe vociferous critics of feminists. I gather that this is because “masculinity” is so enculturated that it just doesn’t occur to anyone to use the word.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Masculinist sounds like someone who plays some sort if instrument. I realize that sounds salacious but seriously it sounds like an instrument. “Yes I’m the 2nd chair masculinist at the symphony”. See, it sounds like it!

        • Filippo
          Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          Some type of flute?

  46. John Galtwell
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the English homicide by firearm rate is lower, but the overall homicide rate did not decrease. In fact, in the years immediately following the gun ban, the homicide rate dramatically increased. I guess for those that prefer to get stabbed or bludgeoned to death, this might seen like some sort of victory, but those of us in the real world do not seer this as a positive result.

    • aljones909
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      The virtual banning of all handguns in the UK followed the mass killing of 16 children in Dunblane, Scotland. The intention was to make it difficult for crazed individuals to repeat such an atrocity. Gun deaths are about 10% of all murders. It’s not therefore reasonable to expect a gun ban to dramatically reduce or increase the murder rate. The legislation was introduced in 1997 when homicides were at around 750 per year. They peaked in 2002 at around 1050 a year. They now stand at about 550 per year. There have been no mass killings since 1997. All figures are for England/Wales but the scottish figures show a similar trend. Most murders in the UK are by sharp instruments (but population adjusted knife deaths in the UK are still lower than in the US).

      • Bonzodog
        Posted May 28, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        There has been, sadly, one mass killing in the UK since Dunblane: the Cumbria shootings in 2010 where Derrick Bird killed 12 people before killing himself.

  47. John Galtwell
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I just scanned the comments here, and there is a ton of prejudice and misinformation. The NRA’s last annual meeting in Indianapolis did allow people to carry firearms, and there were no incidents whatsoever. The location determines whether firearms are allowed, not the NRA; so no, the NRA was not a bunch of hypocrites, as some suggested, when in past meetings the carrying of firearms wasn’t allowed. They support following the local laws. Others have suggested that the NRA promotes crazy “truther” theories about Sandy Hook being a hoax. Where is the evidence of that? If you have it, please share it. You won’t, because it doesn’t exist.

    Others have presumed that people who carry guns are afraid or paranoid, and that violence is not that bad out in the world. I heard many people in Isla Vista proclaim that they never thought that the recent violence world occur in their town either. To those who question others who carry firearms, I ask this: why do you carry car, house, or renters insurance? Why do you carry an umbrella in your car if the sky is clear at the moment? It’s not a matter of fear, it’s a matter of preparation. I have been the victim of violence, and I now carry a firearm. Yes, I have had to use that firearm to prevent a crime, and fortunately, it involved only the display of the weapon to eliminate the threat. AS in most other defensive uses of a firearm, it didn’t make the newspaper. There are hundreds of thousands of these types of incidents every year.

    • Jim Knight
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      John is correct – the VAST majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who take handling a firearm very seriously, as they should! The responsibility of possessing and carrying a weapon is one not to be taken lightly, and many gun owners don’t. As with most organizations, a vocal very few get the most press and sound the most stupid, as in the case of the NRA. I seriously dislike much of what the NRA stands for, but I don’t believe that we should paint all gun owners with anywhere near so broad a brush.

      • Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        I agree. I went back and read Sam Harris’ article “The Riddle of the Gun” and yet some of these comments paint him with the same broad brush as the gun nuts who think every man woman and child regardless of capability or mental stability has the right to a gun.

        He does a good job pointing out where a couple of the “gun nut” talking points are actually valid, but emphasizes that the adamant stance against any type of laws addressing our violence problem is ridiculous. The overriding theme of the article also does a nice job highlighting the irrationality of attempts to remove all guns from America. Our starting point is that we have nearly as many guns as people and I have never seen anyone put forth a rational proposal for how these would be successfully removed from the population, without yes, the “bad guys” being the ones who fail to comply with orders like this and we simply end up with a huge problem of black market guns, similar to the problem we have with illegal drugs.

  48. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    The Onion just did a story in this tragedy and honestly, they didn’t have to change anything about it to make from the Onion!

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      The Onion at its finest.

      I hope they’ll now do a story on political response. Not long after this story broke I saw a headline reading something like, “In wake of tragedy, Obama, Congress renew call for better gun control.”

      Empty fucking words…

      • Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

        I have long compared gun ownership to driving. As a start, we should have age restrictions, physical and written tests, gun licensing and mandated insurance for gun owners.

        Sadly, there’s a second way that guns are similar to cars in America. America continues to outpace much of Europe by 400-500% in automobile fatalities and the parallels are quite striking. Congress calling for better gun control and actually making it happen is about as likely as Congress calling for improved infrastructure, more mass transit, better driver training, etc. There’s no reason why nearly as many people need to die in either case, but Amurika insists on complete “liberty,” even when that “liberty” means unnecessary deaths.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I view gun ownership that way too.

          And of course, blaming congress is really just blaming ourselves, or at least the other half of the electorate.


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