THE ORIGINAL ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION TREATMENT

One more set of comments and then I'm getting off of the Giffords thing. Palin and Glenn Reynolds and the torrential flow of stupid is making my head hurt. Like yesterday, I have two separate but related points. Unfortunately (for me) a lot of writers around the internets have already jumped on these, but I'll say my peace anyway.

So let's talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the political aftermath of America's semimonthly mass shootings. Let's talk about guns.

1. This is not a photo of the actual weapon used in the shooting on Saturday, but it is the same caliber and with the same magazine:

Since the Assault Weapon ban was allowed to die in 2004, cheap, high capacity "extended" magazines have flooded the market. They are illegal in a handful of states but easily available online, at gun shows, and so on. No one who identifies as a strong pro-gun advocate has ever been able to offer a remotely convincing (or even plausible) answer to my question regarding the above photo: what legitimate purpose can this possibly serve?

Recreation? I'm pretty sure you can recreate with the standard 15 round magazine. Hunting? Who in the hell hunts with a pistol? And if you did, do you need 33 rounds in case the deer call for backup? Personal defense? Well, that looks very difficult to conceal and remarkably awkward to handle, aim, and fire under duress – and once again, only in the most sophomoric Rambo fantasies can anyone concoct a scenario in which you would need to shoot 33 times at a mugger or home invader. The gun pictured above was basically designed around the firearm needs of Mexican drug cartels.

This is an example of what's wrong with gun politics, and the NRA in particular, in this country. Americans, including Ed, have no problem whatsoever with the fundamental right to own a firearm. But the NRA has been insisting for 30 years (Does anyone even realize that they used to be sane?) that Americans are guaranteed the right to own every and any type of firearm their hearts desire. This is patently false, unsupported by anything in the Constitution or laws that followed it. Armor-piercing bullets! .50 cal anti-materiel rifles! Full automatic! 35 round magazines! Hand grenades! You can't ban anything because it will be a slippery slope to banning everything!

Let's be clear: the 33 round magazine for a 9mm handgun – like the one pictured here and used in the Giffords shooting – serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever except to enhance the number of rounds that can be fired in a spree killing or drive-by shooting. On the off chance that Congress considers a knee-jerk ban on these magazines it won't matter, as tens of thousands of them already circulate in the U.S. And capacity is certainly not the only relevant factor, as the Virginia Tech shooter used handguns with standard 10- and 15-round magazines (although even the 15 was banned until 2004). What this is, however, is an excellent example of how the "Guns don't kill people" argument is deeply flawed. With 15 rounds, the Tucson shooter hits (and possibly kills) half as many people. Our insanely lenient gun laws directly resulted in him being a better and more productive killer. We have ensured that when people snap and decide to start shooting people, they can shoot more, and more powerful, ammunition.

2. Fox News is furiously pounding away at its collective pud over the non-story of the innocent bystander who was armed and rushed over to confront the shooter – the typical right-wing "saves the day with his concealed handgun" fantasy. Alas, the assailant had already been subdued by (unarmed) bystanders when Johnny Rambo arrived. What the WSJ story that started this meme neglects to mention is pretty stunning:

"I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready," he explained on Fox and Friends. "I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this." Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. "And that's who I at first thought was the shooter," Zamudio recalled. "I told him to 'Drop it, drop it!' "

But the man with the gun wasn't the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. "Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess," the interviewer pointed out.

Zamudio agreed. "I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky."

When Zamudio was asked what kind of weapons training he'd had, he answered: "My father raised me around guns … so I'm really comfortable with them. But I've never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted."

In other words, the effect of Zamudio's weapon in this incident was to dramatically increase the odds that someone else who had nothing to do with the attack was shot and perhaps killed. Among right wingers, the "saves the day with guns" fantasy has cured more unresponsive penises throughout the years than all of the Viagra in the world. While it's commendable that he (and other unarmed bystanders) intervened, Zamudio is the prototype of the self-certified, self-trained, self-appointed vigilante who dreams of blazing away at the bad guys but in reality can only produce one of three outcomes:

1. Vigilante shoots the assailant. Victory parades are held in his honor.
2. Vigilante shoots additional victims, either through poor aim or mistaken identity.
3. Vigilante is shot by the real cops who arrive to find some idiot in street clothes blazing away like John Woo is directing him.

One of those three is a positive outcome, and it is arguably the least likely one by far. Just as guns kept in the home for "defense" are infinitely more likely to be used in a suicide, homicide, or firearm-related accident than to be used against actual Bad Guys, introducing more armed people into spree shooting scenarios offers poor odds of making the situation much better along with much higher odds that the situation will be made worse.

It's a great Prospect Theory problem if ever there was one.

100 thoughts on “THE ORIGINAL ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION TREATMENT”

  • "the "saves the day with guns" fantasy has cured more unresponsive penises throughout the years than all of the Viagra in the world. "

    This is why I've been reading this blog for close to 2 years.

  • Speaking of torrential flow of stupid, the facebook self-imustbesomeoneism at all imbarassing costs, in spite of probable torrential, unexpeakable (new word, btw) "Father David" exorcist rallyism crap sponsored by the hair turnup mouth that is hosting the evil meat bag void we like to call– Palin– made me think twice about having another twinkie in the morning….if you know what I am talking about, which I think that you do. Pass me another Libel. They're good.

    The best thing about that memorial tonight was the beginning prayer when the man talked about healing thru humor. Now it that act that make us human, no? Now bang the drums.

  • can only produce one of three outcomes

    … mmm … The actual outcome, that actually happened in reality, was none of those three.

  • I know a lot of gun owners and include myself among them. 95% of us are occasional target shooters or hunters but most of us own them because our fathers did and we leave them locked and unloaded in the attic or in a safe. There are, however, the other 5% of gun owners that are self-described gun nuts that carry an overpowered handgun with them everywhere they go and are living this paranoid fantasy of defending the virtuois or gunning down some crackhead that aggressively panhandles them.

    To the latter group, I shout a hearty "What the hell is wrong with you… TM Ed of G&T.

    Self defense comes with a lot of responsibilities and these off the hook nutters have a hard time with the concept. Let's look at the group most likely to have to use a gun; the police. Absolutely none of them carry extended magazines, none of them (SWAT aside) use 50 caliber rifles, and none of them carry an arsenal with them at all times.

    Gun control in terms of a full ban isn't likely to happen anytime soon in America but, hopefully, enough backlash will errupt from this nonsense to bring back some reasonable restrctions, require training before purchase, and generally require prospective gun owners to jump through a few hoops before they pack heat. Much like driving a car, owning a gun requires a certain amount of instruction.

    Of course, the NRA will never acknowledge any fault with their cause and will eviscerate any politician that takes the smallest step to prevent mass killings like we saw from a lone gunman in nut-friendly Arizona.

  • Welp, time to be the one gun nut on your blog again.

    As far as the 33-round magazine goes, I'll admit it's not a particularly useful self-defense weapon. Attempting to legislate it away, however, presents several problems. First, the problem of exactly how you would phrase it arises. Assuming you favor the Second Amendment as written and adjudged–that is, individuals in the United States have a right to own firearms expressly for the purpose of fighting tyranny or foreign invasion (whether or not you consider that scenario likely is, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant)–there's a limit to how much you can restrict things like magazines. Fully automatic weapons? Sure (and by the way, those have been heavily restricted almost to the point of a full ban since 1934, as have hand grenades and other explosives–I'm not sure if your point there was hyperbole or a lack of information). But many semi-automatic rifles are designed around a 20-30 round magazine, and smaller magazines are both less reliable and, in the aforementioned Second Amendment scenario, less effective. So what about just limiting pistol magazines? Well, then you run into issues of caliber–a 30 round magazine for a .22 target pistol is much different than a 30-round magazine for a Glock. Furthermore, even Glocks are used in things like 3-gun competitions, and in those cases larger magazines do indeed have a legitimate sporting purpose. It'd be tough to say there's absolutely no reason for a magazine that holds X number of rounds, even if you didn't grandfather in the hundreds of thousands of magazines already in existence.

    Second, while in this case the size of the magazine may have made a difference, generally speaking it's almost irrelevant. For a practiced shooter, changing the magazine on a handgun like this one takes less than a second. The people in Tucson, from what I've read, got lucky–the guy wasn't very good at it. But thinking that legislating 10-round magazines will make any difference in your average shooting is laughable.

    Also, please explain to me how the Second Amendment does not guarantee American citizens the right to own a wide variety of firearms. The whole point of the Second Amendment is that the militia should be as well-armed as any standing military. That notion was scaled down a bit with the National Firearms Act of 1934, but the point remains–we are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms not for hunting, not for recreation, but for the express purpose of providing a check on government excess and a deterrent to foreign invasion. It's easy to say "Well right now neither of those things is likely!," but it was just 70 years ago that a Japanese invasion of the American mainland was anything but farfetched. We won't be a superpower forever, and the whole reason that the Constitution is so difficult to amend is because it's not supposed to respond to political whims and swaying emotions and temporary states of power.

    As for Zamudio, the story would seem to make a point that the anti-concealed carry crowd are loathe to acknowledge–that your average "guy with a gun" is actually pretty capable of judging a situation, deciding whether or not to fire, refraining from shooting until absolutely certain of the target, etc. Considering the cops have a much higher "mistaken identity" shooting rate than civilians, I see no reason to assume that your average citizen cannot be trusted with a firearm.

    As for the last study you reference–the famous claim that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill an occupant than a criminal–it's true but it lacks a lot of context. The study in question included suicides (which to your credit you mention) as part of the "gun deaths of occupants" despite the fact that it's equally easy to off yourself with a bottle of pills, a knife, or a decent length of rope and a chair. Suicides are the overwhelming majority of gun deaths in the home, so that inflates the numbers quite a bit. On the other hand, the "self-defense" uses of guns only "counted" when the occupant actually killed the intruder. Over 90% of defensive uses of firearms don't involve a single shot fired–the sight of the gun, a verbal warning, or the sound of the gun cocking is enough to scare off the intruder–and of those that do, many may not result in the death of the intruder. So yes, if someone takes a bullet to the head inside a home it's likely to be the resident. But the implication–that you're going to accidentally shoot your kids when they get home late if you own a gun–is patently false.

    [Cue at least 25 comments calling me a paranoid right-wing nutcase]

  • Nick,

    The Constitutional issues you outline are all moot. Large magazines had been banned for ten years as part of the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004 with no Constitutional trouble. The way that the second amendment has been used to support individual firearm use has not been to claim defense against the government; if that were true, then weapons commensurate with military grade hardware would be acceptable in order to counter military weaponry. Second amendment arguments have centered around whether "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" means that the militia is entitled to guns or whether the individual (theoretically as part of the militia) is entitled to guns. Whether for defense against the federal government or not doesn't enter into it. Your argument about "militias being able to keep up defenses against the federal government and against foreign invasion" also doesn't enter into it because it's not in the text of the document itself. Additionally, the interpretive method which attempts to acquire gun rights, originalism, can't really read that into the text very easily. The only way to do it would be to argue about what the militias were intended for in the 1700s, and it gets very messy very quickly (both because it's not clear what they were for and because whatever their purpose they have atrophied to the point that any strong understanding of a militia's purpose circa 1787 is just not going to fly today).

    K, that was the reasoned part, here's the impassioned, probably unreasonable part: EXTENDED MAGAZINES CAN BE USED TO KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN WOULD OTHERWISE BE THE CASE. WHY THE FUCK SHOULD WE ALLOW THEM? In the name of recreation? Yeah, that's worth lives, recreation. In the name of self-defense? You say yourself that 90% of defensive use of firearms don't involve a shot. Why. The. Fuck. should we allow these large magazines and assault weapons that are used to more efficiently kill people?

    We should look at firearms the same way we look at alcohol use: it's fucking dangerous if done in the wrong way, so we regulate the ways in which it can be used. Barring 20 year olds from drinking probably isn't Constitutional, but fuck it, we've decided as a society that it's dangerous to allow them to do so. It seems we should treat guns and gun paraphernalia the same way: it's inherently dangerous, and so deserves a special class of restrictions that don't normally apply.

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    "Also, please explain to me how the Second Amendment does not guarantee American citizens the right to own a wide variety of firearms. The whole point of the Second Amendment is that the militia should be as well-armed as any standing military. "

    Ok let's see, the standard military weapon in the late 18th century was…a musket, rifled or smoothbore. The standard militia weapon of the same era would be….a musket, rifeld or smoothbore. In other words, OF COURSE the militia would be armed more or less similarly as the military, since standing armies in Europe had only recently come into existence again around that time, and the founding fathers didn't like the idea of large standing armies anyway.

    Nowadays things are a wee bit different. A single infantry squad carries far more firepower than an entire 18th century regiment. Even more if you consider their ability to coordinate with artillery, airstrikes, and armor.

    As for the other things said on here, I'm pretty sure that hi-cap magazines, at least for rifles, were legal in Arizona prior to 2004. I'm sure I bought a couple 40-round AK prior to 2004- that's 10 rounds more than the usual 30. Or did that ban apply only to handguns?

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    I should also add to those who think that civilians would be just as good at determining targets- Consider for example, friendly fire incidents in the military. Here you have people wearing uniforms, distinct from their enemies, and still people get shot in the back. Pat Tillman was shot something like 9 times at a distance of approximately 40 meters(the closest target on an army qualification range is 50 meters). Needless to say, even the outline of a US army ranger is pretty different than that of a Taliban fighter. Didn't matter in that case. Police also routinely shoot people who were unarmed, particularly people of a darker persuasion.

  • Ben: Constitutional issues are anything but "moot" considering that the major defining Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment have both come down in the last couple years. You are, however, correct that Constitutionally speaking the National Firearms Act would be illegitimate. The Court has largely tiptoed around the question–the only challenge to the law to reach the supreme court was US v. Miller, back in 1936. In that ruling, the Court held that the provision of the NFA banning sawed-off shotguns was legal. But, and this is important, their reasoning was that sawed-off shotguns served no militia purpose. This, of course, would imply that any firearm that does serve a militia purpose–including machine guns, explosives, etc.–would be legal; however, the Court has never really addressed that implication. The case could be made that explosives constitute ordnance, rather than arms, but you'd have a hard time defending the ban on short-barreled shotguns in view of Heller and McDonald.

    As for individual versus collective right, why would there be a Constitutional right to own guns for hunting? Or target shooting? Or a Constitutional right giving the armed forces the ability to be, well, armed? The right to keep and bear arms is intrinsically bound up in the notion of an armed citizenry being the last line of defense against tyranny or invasion, and to pretend otherwise is akin to acting like the "states' rights" that precipitated the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery.

    As to your impassioned part, two points: First, as I mentioned above, magazine capacity is often irrelevant in incidents like this. The people in Arizona got lucky, true, because the guy sucked at reloading. But generally speaking, loading a 10-15 round magazine into a gun takes under a second. I can do it in less than a second and I've received very little in the way of formal training; I just go shooting about once a month and I've gotten decent at it. Furthermore, considering that reloading with a short magazine is much easier and faster than reloading with a long magazine like the one in the picture, the incident in Tucson could very well have been worse if the guy had had four 15-round magazines instead of two 30-round magazines–he might not have had as much trouble reloading, and thus the people who managed to take him down while he was attempting to reload wouldn't have gotten that chance. It's impossible to say, of course, but to act as though a guy who brought dozens of rounds of ammunition would only have brought half as much if he'd been limited to shorter magazines is patently ridiculous. Not only that, but as Ed acknowledged in his post, standard magazines have been used in the past for similar purposes and have been just as (if not more) effective. So what's the point in banning them?

    That's really my whole problem with gun laws. It's not that I'm opposed to any restrictions whatsoever out of principle. My problem is that gun laws do not work. The CDC studied a whole range of gun laws–hundreds of them–of every type, from waiting periods, to assault weapons bans, to magazine restrictions, to bans on concealed carry. They could not find any evidence that a single one of those laws demonstrably reduced gun-related violent crime. Not one.

    As for your assertion that guns, like alcohol, should be restricted, you're correct. That's why we have background checks, residency requirements, mental health checks, and age limits. Of course, that doesn't stop criminals any more than the current drinking age prevents 18-year-olds from getting plastered, but it's not a particularly onerous restriction and regardless of your opinion of the Second Amendment's intent, a background check does not conflict with the Constitution, since felons often have their rights restricted in general (voting, assembly, association, speech, etc). But we shouldn't restrict the rights of regular citizens unless there's a damned good reason. "Because they look scary" isn't a good reason. Gun control laws are the legislative equivalent of TSA–looks good, makes scared white people feel safer, but doesn't actually do a goddamned thing.

    Arslan: The level of technology present in the weapons is completely irrelevant. Making the argument that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to modern weapons because the authors of the Constitution wouldn't have predicted semi-automatic rifles is like saying that the First Amendment only applies to single-page printing presses and unamplified voice.

    As for hi-capacity magazines, there was a grandfather clause that allowed existing magazines to be sold as normal. So if you bought it from a friend or collector or something–in a private sale–you could buy standard magazines for rifles or handguns. However, during the time the law was in effect, no new magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds could be imported or manufactured in the United States.

  • As for friend versus foe distinctions, the difference between police or military and civilian gun use is situational. The police have to chase someone down, or find a guy who matches a certain description, while that person may be armed. The military have to deal with a constant threat of guerrilla warfare, snipers, trained tactical units, etc. A civilian shooter, on the other hand, has to deal with a single, known, identifiable threat, in a single instance, usually at short distances. Comparing the two is (and I'll admit to stealing this from some message board or another earlier today, but I liked it) like comparing apples and really bad metaphors.

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    Sorry Nick, but the story above shows that civilians don't have a "single, known, identifiable" threat. And what could be more identifiable than a guy in a UNIFORM? "Shoot at the guys in the gray-green," should be enough, yet American troops in Normandy would often come under fire just for not wearing their gaiters sometimes.

    "Arslan: The level of technology present in the weapons is completely irrelevant. Making the argument that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to modern weapons because the authors of the Constitution wouldn't have predicted semi-automatic rifles is like saying that the First Amendment only applies to single-page printing presses and unamplified voice."

    Sorry but it is clear that the Founding Fathers intended the interpretation of the Constitution to change with the times. If you want to take it so literally, then why no push for that "well regulated militia" which is also mentioned in the 2nd Amendment.

    Also, arms means arms, anything from hand grenades to multi-launch rocket systems. If you are going to read it literally, why not be honest and push for the whole thing?

  • @nick

    If the government ever gets tyrannical, or a major power capable of getting through the US military invades us –

    The Predator drone locking on to me from 5 miles up is not going to be phased by my Kimber Tactical Ultra .45 ACP

    I enjoyed Red Dawn as much as the next person but it wasn't a documentary.

  • If memory serves, the atrocity that precipitated the (Mostly meaningless, except for magazine restrictions.) assault weapons ban was a mass shooting at a McDonalds, done with a Ruger 10/22 with a 30 round clip, plus some silly military looking mods.

  • Goytotheworld says:

    @Major Kong

    You pretty much nailed my problem with my fellow gun nuts, and the major reason why I no longer have anything to do with the NRA, and I'm starting to even debate jokingly using the term gun nut in reference to myself.

    I have a strong interest in rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Since I was a kid I used to go with either my pop, or friends, and go target shooting with skeet, or on a range with targets. I'm used to them, they don't scare me, but I've got a damned healthy respect for them. I was raised with the rule that all guns are to be treated as if they're loaded no matter what the circumstances are.

    Did I have fun? Yes.
    Do I still sometimes do it? Yes, not as often, but yes.
    Am I going to be able to take down the Spetsnaz when they come sneaking the country? Fuck no! I'd be damned lucky to turn the safety off before somebody takes me out from 600 meters while hiding in a tree!

    I don't get these guys who think because they own a semi-auto rifle with armor piercing rounds, that they are able to go toe to toe with special forces military. I'm sorry, but somehow I doubt your AR-15 and the house you converted into a war stronghold will hold up to a couple of missiles shot from a MEL ten miles away from you.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    I'm sorry Ed, but you left out the most probable outcome of the Zamudio scenario:

    4) Vigilante shoots self.

  • Been doing some reading on the Shay's Rebellion 1786-7. Effectively this li'l event is what lead to the Constitution and the Federal Gov't.

    It's from this that we get Jefferson's famous bloody line about the Tree of Liberty (of course he was off jaunting about Frog-land during this time).

    The uprising was over farmers being sent to debtors prison and losing their farms because of the debt to foreign nations over the Revolutionary war (hmm… anything sound familiar here?). As the Commonwealth (Mass) would only accept gold or silver, this effectively screwed the farmers who were mostly subsistence level in much of Western Mass. As calls for leniency were being ignored by Bowdoin, civil unrest ensued.

    The deciding battle was over the Federal Arsenal at Springfield. There were the "Regulators" (farmers and debtors) and the militia financed by the Bostonian merchants.
    Both sides were poorly armed and had muskets at best.
    Gen. Shepard's (militia) request of Sec. of War Knox to access the arsenal at Springfield was rejected as Knox believed that it required Congressional approval. Shepard ignored this, and commandeered the arsenal anyways. Giving him *access to canons*.

    Ok enough of the history lesson, what does this mean for our discussion? Well we can see that even early on, the Founding Fathers had their wits about them and that when they would later pen the Bill of Rights it can be directly inferred from historical evidence that certain levels of weaponry would not be classed as something the ordinary citizen would be allowed to have let alone the sheer volume of weaponry – another major factor as to why the Springfield Arsenal was of such import to both sides because *both* were poorly equipped. Therefore in some ways the Federal Gov't **is** allowed to be more heavily equipped than the citizenry.

    All I can say is: $#¡†!!! $#¡†!!! $#¡†!!!! Cause there goes my dream of getting myself that nuclear missile sub. ;-)

    Sources:
    http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h363.html
    http://shaysrebellion.stcc.edu/index.html
    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=uOY8x2YfJEoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=shays+rebellion&source=bl&ots=Wd9b8maQNo&sig=S_54fy7iNUEscQfjsg2QK5wmWyE&hl=en&ei=MhIvTbOkEpCkuAPOoYW3CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CEAQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=shays%20rebellion&f=false
    And of course: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shays'_Rebellion

  • Grumpygradstudent says:

    "…despite the fact that it's equally easy to off yourself with a bottle of pills, a knife, or a decent length of rope and a chair."

    Just wanted to pipe up and disagree with this statement. I think there's a big difference on the margin between "point gun, pull trigger" and the more elaborate, slow, painful, and uncertain methods of suicide a person could engage in. I struggle with depression, and that's why I will never own a handgun…I'm too afraid I would use it.

  • "Sorry but it is clear that the Founding Fathers intended the interpretation of the Constitution to change with the times. If you want to take it so literally, then why no push for that "well regulated militia" which is also mentioned in the 2nd Amendment."

    Change through amendment, yes. Change through people deciding that the document didn't actually mean what it said, no. Again, if changing technology invalidates the Second Amendment, it would just as easily invalidate the First. I'd rather not go down that road.

    "Also, arms means arms, anything from hand grenades to multi-launch rocket systems. If you are going to read it literally, why not be honest and push for the whole thing?"

    As I said, "arms" generally refers to small arms, those that can be carried and fired by an infantryman. Explosives are ordnance, rocket systems are artillery. Not that it really matters, given how easy it is to make your own explosives, but still. In any case, I suspect nobody's going to be challenging the law on Destructive Devices anytime soon.

    "If memory serves, the atrocity that precipitated the (Mostly meaningless, except for magazine restrictions.) assault weapons ban was a mass shooting at a McDonalds, done with a Ruger 10/22 with a 30 round clip, plus some silly military looking mods"

    Really? Interesting, then, that the one exception to the magazine capacity law was (IIRC) .22 caliber rifles.

    To several people: Obviously me and my rifle aren't going to go toe to toe with the US military. Guerrilla warfare would be the order of the day. The Viet Cong and the Taliban and various Iraqi groups have managed to wreak some havoc despite not having much in the way of weapons other than small arms; what makes you think Americans would be any different?

    "I enjoyed Red Dawn as much as the next person but it wasn't a documentary."

    Well that's just plain false.

    (Tangentially, I'm not sure how I feel about the upcoming Red Dawn remake. I like the idea, but the fact that it features Tom Cruise's kid and no Swayze makes me pretty nervous. I'll almost definitely still go see it though, at least in the dollar theater. WOLVERINES!)

  • As to the probability of small arms resistance to main force military units being successful, I would offer the muhajadeen of Afghanistan. They roughly have:

    automatic rifles, pistols, RPGs, IEDs, mortars?, machine guns?, hand grenades?, raw explosives, knives…have I forgotten anything important?

    They wore out the USSR and they are now holding their own against the US of A after nine years.

    Fantasy?

    //bb

  • Nick highlights a hypocrisy inherent in "conservative" ideology. Why can we read the Second Amendment through a modern lens, while interpreting any other part of the Constitution amounts to EVIL JUDICIAL ACTIVISM?

    (This is not to pick on Nick, who seems very reasonable. He very well may not be a "strict constructionist in all ways but one.")

  • Grumpygradstudent: I'll admit that I don't suffer from depression and thus am not an expert in this area. Nevertheless, it seems as though there are some other fairly immediate ways to commit suicide–jumping, for instance. In any case, blaming guns for the suicide seems somewhat facetious. It'd be much more effective to examine whether adequate mental health care and support systems were provided. This goes for people who turn the gun on others as well; ensuring treatment for mental illness would go much further toward preventing another Tucson than banning a longer magazine.

    On an unrelated note, did anyone else notice that three of the above posts contained the word "Sorry," one of them twice? Why do people feel the need to apologize for disagreeing with me? I'll just assume that it's because I'm always right.

  • OK Nick. I'll agree to that. It would be effective to examine whether adequate mental care is available for our benighted bretheren. But unlike you, I don't see it as a binary equation.

    Lets do it all. Rigorous background checks and waiting periods, mental health care and support systems, and restrictions on automatic weapons that include long magazines, armor piercing ammo, etc.

    What's stopping us?

  • @ Nick

    I appreciate your willingness to articulate your views; I haven't seen this much in-depth analysis on the pro-gun side very often.

    Constitutional Issues:

    I didn't mean to imply that all Constitutional issues on guns are moot, just the specific ones you bring up. Citing case law from the thirties isn't going to get you very far, because there's been a revolution in 2nd Amendment law in the past twenty years. Previous case law (including US v. Miller, the case you cite) held that the 2nd Amendment has to do with providing a right to arms to the individual as part of a militia for the common defense (not as a defense against the federal government). The thinking was that the intent of the amendment was to prop up the militia system and prevent the use of a standing permanent army. That that view is archaic and defunct presently doesn't change the reason the amendment was enacted in the first place, and case law has gone accordingly: guns are ok as part of the military use for militias, but there isn't an individual right. From 1942 to 2001, there weren't any cases that contradicted this reading of the 2nd Amendment.

    But in the past twenty years, there has been what conservative justice Warren Burger has called "one of the greatest pieces of fraud–I repeat the word 'fraud'–on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime": the idea that there is an individual right to gun ownership. Culminating in DC v. Heller, now the idea is that the 2nd Amendment provides a right to self-defense regardless of any militia activity. That the Court ruled this way is a good example of how the Court responds to the social and political mood of the country. See this Cass Sunstein paper for a good rundown of these issues: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1204942

    Anyway. The issues you talk about ("individuals in the United States have a right to own firearms expressly for the purpose of fighting tyranny or foreign invasion" and "how the Second Amendment does not guarantee American citizens the right to own a wide variety of firearms") are moot in the context of the case law both before the "fraud" Burger talks about and after. In previous case law (1942 – 2001), what mattered is that the 2nd Amendment guaranteed the right to a gun as part of a militia to provide for the common defense. Emphasize the word "right", because the effectiveness of the weapons for providing for the common defense has been moot, since Lichtenstein's national army could take out every state militia combined at this point. That's just the way the world is, and case law has reflected that reality: the Constitution provides a right to a gun for somewhat archaic reasons, so there's an explicit right to own firearms, but the archaic reasons the Constitution gives for owning the firearms are indeed archaic, so worries about actually equipping the militias to fight a war have fallen by the wayside.

    After the "fraud", with the new case law, there's an individual right to a gun for purposes of self-defense, so questions of providing for common defense and owning a variety of firearms based on that defense are moot.

    Practical issues in banning large magazines:

    It's kind of interesting that in response to the question "why take the chance at all that a gunman would take advantage of larger magazines to shoot more people", you come up with hypothetical scenarios while ignoring the actual scenario that just took place. Had Loughner used smaller magazines, he would have killed fewer people. Full stop. Hypothetical scenarios don't really match up to scenarios that have already played out.

    Additionally, even given the applicability of hypothetical scenarios to this argument, it is much more likely that mass shootings will be perpetrated by someone without gun training or someone who is incapacitated to the point of not being able to carry out their training. I'm getting here at the idea that people who undertake mass shootings are mentally deranged; about 40% of all mass gun killings are performed by schizophrenics. This is not a class of people who are going to be whipping magazines in and out of handguns like something out of Call of Duty.

    Finally, why even take the chance? Why take the chance? There is only the possibility that more lives will be saved should extended magazines be restricted. Your argument that experienced marksmen can burn through smaller magazines quicker and thus more bullets extends equally to extended mags; concealing extended mags in a deep pocket wouldn't be very hard, and surely the markesmen you are talking about can re-load an extended mag just as easily as a smaller one (or with as little time difference as to not mean anything).

    So there's no downside from a saving lives standpoint from banning the magazines, and we just saw a scenario play out where it would have saved lives. Why not ban the magazines?

    Also, just for completeness' sake, that CDC meta-study you mention? The one that "could not find any evidence that a single one of those laws demonstrably reduced gun-related violent crime"? That's not true. They reviewed 51 studies of gun control laws, and found the results to be inconclusive; some studies reported increases in gun deaths due to gun control laws, and some studies reported decreases in gun deaths due to gun control laws. They called for further research. Additionally, they didn't study bans on magazine size, only types of ammunition.
    The report is here: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm

  • I have to say a couple of things, related to the topic, but not really to each other. In no particular order …

    1) Zamudio was actually a responsible "gun nut". He saw the situation and realized pulling his weapon was the wrong choice. Kudos to him for showing a little wisdom and restraint. The point being made is that his gun had no positive effect on the outcome of the situation.

    2) The legal reasoning behind the right to individual gun ownership is the "Militia of the Whole". The idea that all citizens comprise a militia that can act against threats even in the absence of a governing authority. Of course, the idea that said militia CAN be regulated is also in the amendment. The argument now is over how much can it be regulated.

  • @Nick 11:48:
    Ah, but that's what we're trying to do, and for some reason enforcing an NHS that would include mental health on the people is "tyranny!"

    How many of these extremists are up in arms over getting medical care? *All* of them! Really, between the brown president and his "socialist agenda", they're going ape shit!

    This'n here darkie, He's a gunna take our jobs, an' our banks! Af'er that he's a gunna deval'r the dollar, so we won't be able to afford us no more o' those Chiner made assault rifles. Then he's gunna take our houses an' guns, but worse yet! You know what he's a gunna take?? He's a gunna take our *crazy* from us!!! and make us gets denta-m-al care so we's a gunna have mouths fulla teeth!!!

    Follow the link that Tosh put up earlier in the week. All of this gov't tyranny crazy crap is focussed on health reform. So they're going to rise up in revolt to prevent people getting the help that they need.

  • Actually, you missed one outcome, which is what happened:

    4) Vigilante intelligently decides that gun is not the answer, but jumping on the guy is.

    I live there, and I'm REALLY grateful that Joe Zamudio is a man of such (un)common sense.

    Alas, it's our damn Lege that's got no damn sense. ANYONE who isn't prohibited from owning firearms, including Loughner, has the right to carry a concealed weapon. They also gutted state funding for mental health care.

    Thanks Gov Brewer…you signed the law and the budget, you don't get to cry your crocodile tears at this 'senseless tragedy'

  • Better than most conversations about gun control. In the end I tend to agree with Nick, and I am hardly a paranoid right- wing militia member.
    The usual self- defense scenario is similar to what happened to another Leftie I am aquainted with. He was a taxi cab driver back in the 1990s, in of all places, Tucson, AZ. He got a call one night and ended up driving into a cul- de- sac. Whereupon a large dude with a sawed- off single shot shotgun pushed it up against the window and demanded he get out. The guy gets out. Dude backs off a way when his buddy says something to him. Distracted he turns away from the driver, turning the shotgun away at the same time. The driver pulls out a .380 automatic and fires one shot into the Dude's chest. In the ensuing confusion, the driver gets back in his cab and escapes. The Dude suffered a flesh wound and survived to be later incarcerated after botching another armed robbery.
    That's the usual situation- not a home invasion ( most crooks aren't that dumb), not an invasion by the People's Liberation Army, not a terrorist attack, not a rebellion against Big Brother. Just a working class guy who knew he was in a sometimes dangerous line of work and took steps to even the odds if the worst happened.

  • Ben: With regard to the issues of Constitutionality, this may be an area where we fundamentally and irreconcilably disagree, but nevertheless I'll try to at least articulate where I'm coming from.

    The Heller and McDonald decisions confirmed that individuals have a right to keep and bear arms unconnected with formal service in a militia, yes. But that does not negate the original intent of the law, which was that free men would keep and bear personal arms for the common defense. Self defense is a right, but it's a right that's secondary to the larger issue of common defense. As for a "collective right," to my mind no such thing exists. The "collective right" argument asks us to accept that the authors of the Constitution felt the need to expressly grant the armed forces the right to have guns, and made that declaration second only in importance to the rights of speech, assembly, and religion. This, to me, seems fallacious on its face. While you are correct that it was originally intended that there would be no standing army, the presence of such a force does not negate the need for an armed populace. If anything, it makes that need stronger, since military coups are not uncommon events, and in such a case the citizenry would be forced to fight back against the standing military. Since we entrust the citizens with the right to keep and bear arms in defense of their rights and their country, it would be silly not to allow them to bear those same arms in defense of their lives. To do so would undercut the necessary trust that we as a democracy place in our citizens, the same trust that allows us to vote and travel freely and say what we want regardless of how offensive some may find it. Are there some who will abuse that right, or who probably shouldn't be trusted with it? Of course. Just as there are some people who I'd rather not have voting (or reproducing for that matter). This presents us with a choice: Do we accept the risks and responsibilities inherent in freedom, or do we submit to a (hopefully) benevolent dictatorship, acting in our best interest? I view gun rights through the context of this larger question. This is why I find very few restrictions on gun rights to be acceptable. The fact that they are so ineffective doesn't help, but even if they worked better I'd want to examine each one carefully before implementing it, just as I'd be skeptical of a law prohibiting hate speech, for instance, or legalizing certain forms of torture regardless of how effective they might be.

    This leads to the practical issues. Your statement that "Had Loughner used smaller magazines, he would have killed fewer people" is every bit as hypothetical as my speculation that he might have killed more. We can't know. But what we do know is that very few crimes are committed with "assault weapons" with large magazines (numbers available at http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcassaul.html). We know that gunmen can be just as deadly, if not more so, with standard magazines (see Virginia Tech). So the efficacy of such a ban is debatable, and while I hate to use a "slippery slope" type of argument in most cases, it is true that the stated end goal of groups like the Violence Policy Center and Brady Campaign is to drastically reduce access to weapons and to accomplish this goal via "stepping stone" legislation. Just as restrictions on the most onerous of speech should be opposed because of its potential for setting an unconstitutional precedent, so too do I oppose measures like this one.

    As for the CDC study, you're incorrect about what it studied. Scroll down on your own link; it studied a number of types of regulation. To quote the study, "In summary, the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence." Were gun laws demonstrably effective, the CDC would be able to say so. But they can't. This implies that such an effect is debatable or limited at best, and nonexistent at worst, which leads to the question of why we should pass these types of laws at all.

    Geeno: Zamudio's gun may not have had an effect on the situation, but the burden of proof as far as restrictions on ownership and carry is on the side that wants to restrict, not the side that wants to permit. It's clear that even in an extreme situation like this one, the nightmare hypothetical of dozens of permit holders shooting at each other mistakenly is unlikely to come to pass. Concealed carry might not have helped in this case, but restricting a right requires evidence that the restriction is likely to prevent harm in a predictable manner. This case would indicate that such evidence does not exist. As for the legal reasoning, there's debate even over the meaning of "well-regulated." There's some evidence that the phrase is synonymous with "well-practiced" or "well-drilled," which of course would lead to the question of whether formal or informal training was the expected standard. I'll admit to not having studied that particular question enough to make a definitive argument, but my point is that the phrase "well regulated" does not necessarily equate to "well-legislated."

    xynzee: I agree that socialized healthcare should be available to all citizens, but that issue is separate from the gun rights debate. Both sides have a tendency to make assumptions about political beliefs on all issues based on support of either gun rights or gun control, but it's fallacious to do so and obscures the issue at hand.

  • "1) Zamudio was actually a responsible "gun nut". He saw the situation and realized pulling his weapon was the wrong choice. Kudos to him for showing a little wisdom and restraint."

    And how many of your fellow Americans do you trust to show that wisdom and restraint – if it can be so called, given that he did pull out his weapon, remove the safety, and come quite close (by his own admission) to plugging an innocent person?

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    Apparently we have some problems with English here.

    First of all, regulated and drilled are very different things. Regulation is not a synonym for training, or education, it means, limiting and overseeing.

    Second, arms are arms. Nobody gives a damn if the modern US military classifies explosives as "ordnance" or whatever. An RPG-7 is considered "arms"- let's legalize it!!! An automatic grenade launcher counts as arms.

    Nowhere in the 2nd Amendment is there anything which defines "arms" as what an infantryman can carry. It is pretty much understood that the armored divisions of that era left much to be desired- for example, they lacked physical existence.

    "Geeno: Zamudio's gun may not have had an effect on the situation, but the burden of proof as far as restrictions on ownership and carry is on the side that wants to restrict, not the side that wants to permit."

    Sorry, there is no reason for the burden of proof to be shifted that way. The fact is- fewer guns on the streets and in the hands of people, fewer gun deaths. You see, you need a gun, to shoot someone with a gun.

    I'm currently living in a country with a massively corrupt police force, with a murder rate on par with the US. Gun control is near total and yes, outside of the police, only criminals have guns here(but I repeat myself). And yet in more than four years I have never been the victim of any crime whatsoever, despite being a foreigner. I feel safer here because while I realize that someone might have a knife, or someone could gang up on me- I at least have more of a chance to survive.

    In America I was robbed at gunpoint on the job, and even if I had a gun myself there was no way I could have taken these two guys out unless one of them had left their safety on. I have actually witnessed at least one shooting in the US as well, and I'm glad I didn't get hit by a stray bullet. I have had acquaintances who were shot by punks who talked shit and then couldn't back it up- so they go for the gun.

  • Paul W. Luscher says:

    Let's face: no one needs a 30-round pistol clip in a sane and civilized society. There is no purpose for anything like that, except to kill large numbers of people in a very short time.

    I think what's really going on–though the NRA won't admit it–is that the real reason our laws allow people to own what are really weapons of mass destruction is because so many Americans want to jack off their inner John Wayne.

    I think there are many Americans who would just love to draw, fan lead, and blow someone away….if they could get away with it.

  • Thank you, Bruce J, for noticing what I pointed out twenty some comments back. Reality doesn't seem too popular around here.

  • Arslan: See some uses of "well-regulated" here: http://www.constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm. It appears to be used variably as "disciplined," "legislated," "ordered," "practiced," etc. The phrase "well-regulated" does not necessarily mean "limited."

    As for restriction, in a free society the burden of proof is always placed on those who wish to restrict. The default state is freedom. In order to restrict that freedom one must prove beyond a doubt that the restriction is both beneficial and in keeping with the Constitution.

    You seem to acknowledge that gun control in your current country doesn't work. Yet you advocate implementing those same failed policies in the United States. Why?

    Paul: Of course. Nobody's actually in favor of gun rights due to principle or strongly held belief. It's cause we're whackin' it. Thanks for contributing to the debate.

  • Nice discussion. One of my major gripes with the whole pro-vs-anti gun discussion is that one side is almost always arguing from a position of complete ignorance. They don't own guns, they don't like guns, they didn't grow up with guns, they've never had formal training using firearms, they've never been to a gun-related competition, or seen a gun-related sporting event, etc.

    You'll occasionally get some guy who "carried an M16 in Vietnam" who is now a gun law crusader, but it's rare.

    Because they are ignorant about guns they propose ignorant solutions that would never work. For example, banning 30-round mags for Glocks when, as Nick rightly points out, you can actually get off more rounds with more smaller magazines if you've got some degree of training. I've seen guys with some amount of training who can reach into a pocket full of 12-gauge shotshells and pump 10 of them off in about 30 seconds with a single-shot 19th-century style shotgun. Then there's the "assault weapon ban" that uses a list of criteria for defining "an assault weapon", almost NONE of which have anything to do with how deadly a weapon is. Barrel shrouds, pistol grips, etc, do not make a weapon more deadly, but they did get them banned.

    The fact is that unless you ban all guns of every kind you're never going to make a real dent in gun-related crime. Now what? So we ban all guns? Do you really think there's a prayer of that happening? I don't see it as possible in our society.

    I'd love to do "common sense" things to make a difference in criminals using weapons to commit crimes against innocent people. I just have a higher standard than most on the left in that I want those "things" to actually be effective and not just feel good restrictions that limit sporting and other legitimate uses of firearms with no resulting effect on criminal uses.

  • Constitutional issues:

    You're getting pretty far afield from the Constitution. Here's the argument: 1) original intent of the amendment was to keep state militias viable in order to avoid a standing army. 2) this prevents arguments about WOLVERINES! style defense against the army itself; the state militia was to act in the stead of the army, not in order to counter it. 3) militias have become hopelessly outdated. 4) as a result, case law from '42 to '01 revolved around whether it would be reasonable for a militia member to have a given kind of weapon. Case law after '01, as a result of interest group politics, revolves around the question of whether an individual has a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense regardless of any questions of fighting a guerilla war against the army. Nowhere in this analysis is there room for consideration of either fighting the government or being able to supply oneself with a complete arsenal.

    If you can offer any arguments or case law against that, have at it.

    Practical issues:

    "Why shouldn't we ban extended mags for handguns?" "Slippery slope." If you really think that there's any chance of a slippery slope for banning extended magazines in America today, I can't help you. Independent of that just being a crazy idea, we actually have a natural experiment. They were part of the assault weapons ban, and there wasn't further regulation. In fact, it was allowed to expire and wasn't renewed. If anything, the slope is lined with sandpaper and is tilting up, not down.

    As for the CDC meta-study, oy vey. I usually love talking about interpreting social science, but this is just draining. The world is a complicated place. There are multiple ways to study things, and multiple ways to interpret each way of studying things. One example of this is the research on gun control. There are studies that find an effect is large in banning guns, and studies that find an effect is small. There are studies that find the effect is to save lives, and studies that find the effect is to take them. That the current state of gun control research (which is a young field) hasn't produced a consensus about the effectiveness of gun control means no more about the actual effectiveness of gun control than the failure of the research in happiness to come to a consensus as to what makes us happy means about the actual effectiveness of things to make us happy.

    In the abstract to the meta-study, the CDC explicitly sates "insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness." They call for more research. They cite several problems that currently plague gun studies as a whole. To claim that the effect of gun laws is "debatable or limited at best and non-existant at worst" from this CDC study is just plain wrong.

    Additionally, I'm well aware of what types of gun control laws they studied, I'm only pointing out that they did not included any studies of laws banning extended magazines, so the CDC study can't apply to the Loughner discussion in any event.

  • I'm confused about a few things.
    1) Supposedly, the AZ shooter was tackled when he was reloading. And supposedly, he had a large-volume clip. Did he actually unload a full clip?
    2) There is a legitimate purpose to a large-volume clip. It is more convenient when shooting at the range. Shooting ain't a hobby of mine, but I think it's a legitimate hobby.
    3) I'd like to see fewer people with weapons. Hell, I'd like to see fewer people with cars. To be perfectly honest, I'd like to see fewer people. But I'm not sure how I get from any of those into anything actionable (except, perhaps, socially-endorsed and government-subsidized discorporation chambers on every streetcorner).

    Honestly, I don't know what the answer is, because my objection to guns is that they make it easy to make a terminal decision out of impulse. That's my objection to owning one.
    But hey, the shooter, here, was not acting on impulse.
    And the "hero" actually did not act on impulse.
    So even removing the issue, for me (finding a way to make discharge of a firearm only possible through premeditation) wouldn't solve much….

  • To bb in GA:

    And we must not forget Uncle Ho's little people in black pajamas with small arms and beer can booby traps and punji sticks. Very formidable enemy.

  • Just me talkin' – but if it's me and my buddies from the shooting range vs the 82nd Airborne, supported by a couple tactical air wings, I'm betting on the 82nd Airborne.

    Otherwise, I guess we should withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, since they've got small arms – against which no invading army can prevail.

  • @Jeff

    Those weren't punji sticks bringing down B-52s over Hanoi in 1972. They were Soviet-made SA-2s in very large quantities.

    So which foreign government do you propose is going to supply us with modern air defense weapons and Migs for our hypothetical guerrilla war against the US military?

  • Once someone has something it's hard to take it away from them, at least without a lot of bitching and complaining. If you sleep on a tempur pedic mattress for a 30-day free trial it'll be hard to go back to your old bed. I think the same applies with gun control, and it'll be very hard to go back.

    If they want to go back to 2004, or scale it back even further I think the only hope (if that's what you want) is for politicians to take the next step from fearing their safety to being worried about the safety of others.

    Making it so you can't carry a gun around a congressman is fine and dandy (although unrealistic in a sense), but shouldn't they also be thinking about the other people who died in the shooting, and make it so less people, not just less congressmen get hurt or die?

    For a liberal, I'm pretty lenient on gun control (who am I to care how many guns someone owns), but the right to "bear arms" is totally different than the right to carry them around, with extra magazines. Maybe in Arizona it's (relatively) safe, but I can't imagine 20 million people in NYC walking around fully loaded, it just wouldn't work.

    I will never fully grasp why people get so much enjoyment out of guns, but it's not my right to say they shouldn't have the right to own them. With that said, it seems pretty obvious to make it harder for crazy people to get guns, right? It's a sensible request.

    There will always be crazies, and while that isn't a good enough excuse, complaining about rhetoric (although likely justified) will probably just cause an outrage with them complaining about abuse of the first amendment.

    I didn't follow what happened after the VT shootings, but does anyone know what was said about gun control then (regarding the mentally unstable) and if anything was done about it?

    I don't follow this stuff too closely so I apologize if I have just repeated a lot shit.

  • "Otherwise, I guess we should withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, since they've got small arms – against which no invading army can prevail."

    I like that this was said sarcastically as though it weren't totally true and proven by history.

  • I did not mean to ignite "How me and my buds are gonna whup Uncle Sam's ass with our shotguns, AKs, AR-15s, SKS, etc. etc."

    I think it is a fact that guerilla warfare has some success w/ limited objectives and the right support. We have seen it work best in a War of Attrition Scenario in VN and now in Afghanistan. Not so much in Iraq because the Sunni guerillas didn't have enough outside support (arguable)

    I would like to thank the contributors who placed the lengthy, documented pieces here on both sides for your time. I learned a lot.

    One word in the 2nd Amendment that I googled and didn't get much back that I thought was relevant is 'infringed.'

    What did the word mean in the late 18th century and how does it harmonize w/ laws that might restrict possession of various arms and accessories (like our 30 round mag)?

    Have any of y'all greater lights on this subject run across anything on it?

    //bb

  • One more very liberal gun "nut" (and relatively new reader) checking in.

    .50 cal stuff? Armor piercing bullets? Come on, you're better than that.

    Anyway…

    The percentage of homicides with multiple victims is small, less than 5%. One quarter of those did not involve guns at all. Which means multiple victim gun homicides comprise about 3.75% of all murders. Multiple victim murders with extended magazines are therefore some number (I'd wager a *very* small number) less than 3.75% As is the case with many gun control measures, we are emotionally reacting to a horrible incident by applying a band-aid to a decapitation.

    We are engaging in the same kind of simplistic thinking we often (rightly) attribute to conservatives. The truth is, crime is a ridiculously complicated monster. The real issues don't make for a tidy press conference; economic and educational inequities, an absurd tolerance for repeat violent offenders, poor or nonexistent social safety nets, and I can keep going.

    If I had to pick a guns-only policies that might reduce the number of guns in criminal hands, I'd suggest aggressively going after straw purchasers and dramatically increasing the penalties for illegal possession of a firearm.

    Oh, almost forgot: END THE FREAKING WAR ON DRUGS.

  • Assuming you favor the Second Amendment as written and adjudged–that is, individuals in the United States have a right to own firearms expressly for the purpose of fighting tyranny or foreign invasion

    I must be a poor reader, because I sure as hell don't see that in the Second Amendment anywhere. The "expressly for the purpose of fighting tyranny or foreign invasion" part, that is. And, if you are saying that's the only reason Americans can own firearms, then aren't you putting a condition on the use of a firearm?

  • Julie in Austin says:

    To BB in GA:

    The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is helping to insure that we don't need a standing Army =and= that our Government fears the Citizenry.

    The confusing part of the 2nd Amendment is normally the use of "militia" and "regulated". The "militia" is the unorganized military force which is comprised by all able-bodied men (and now women …). And "regulated" meant "trained" or "drilled". Which is to say that the 2nd Amendment protects our right to be armed for War.

    That's it.

    Based on that, we do have an individual right to bear arms of military style or quality, because we have the right to be the "militia". This does not mean that we have the right to do whatever we want (see "well-regulated" and the historical meaning of same). Whatever laws are put in place should be consistent with proper military discipline. Just as a private cannot checkout a 155mm howitzer from the armory for a bit of duck hunting, someone in the unorganized "militia" should not be able to tow their M777 out to a local park for a bit of skeet shooting.

    And this is what the Neo-Cons go completely wrong — our right is related to the formation of a properly trained and disciplined military entity which exists to protect both the Individual and the State against enemies internal and external.

  • I am a gun-lover (I hate the term gun nut) and I've known people for whom the possession of a gun was the difference between life and death.
    There are those in the gun community who use their right to own guns as a way to engage in what could be called military role play, dressing up in cammies and armor and running about with assault rifles. Have they ever killed anyone to my knowledge? No.
    The white elephant in this room seems to me to be how we deal with mental illness. The shooter in AZ could have easily built a bomb to mail to the senator if he couldn't get a 30-round magazine. Hell, he could have bought four Glocks, loaded them all, and used one after another.
    Regan and his ilk destroyed the mental health care system of this nation, and rather than blaming a pursuit that is practiced by millions in this country with great safety I think it would be far more productive to focus on how someone in as desperate need of help as the shooter was able to go though life without receiving treatment.

  • Julie in Austin says:

    @Mothra,

    You have to read all of the texts associated with the history of the 2nd Amendment. A "militia", by its very nature, is a fighting force. It was also historically intended to permit defense of ones Person.

    To address all this "need" — personally, it wouldn't bother me if 20+ round magazines were outlawed. Anything much larger than 10 to 15 rounds is only good for "spray and pray" — shoot as many rounds as you can get off and hope they hit something. When I was shooting 9mm on a regular basis, by the time I'd gone through 50 rounds my sights were far enough off from the barrel heating that it was a constant struggle to adjust my aim. The other problem I have with large capacity magazines is that they aren't really practical — I kept two 13 round magazines loaded back in the day. One for "the bad guys are in the house" and the other for "the bad guys are trying to get in the house". Two very different scenarios with two very different types of rounds.

    And that gets all the way back to "well regulated" — there's nothing at all "well regulated" about some yahoo with a 30 round magazine filled up with who knows what running around town.

  • Julie in Austin says:

    @Alex,

    Reagan destroyed nothing of the sort. People who are mentally ill and =want= to stay within the system had the right before, and still have the right after, Reagan was in office.

    What Reagan's administration did was make it so that people who could function outside of mental health institutions were able to get themselves out. The problem is that medications for mental illness work, and once they start working, the person is able to choose to leave the institution. But then there is little or no support or follow-up because the person is no longer "mentally ill".

  • It's true we keep neglecting a key component we always ignore of the 2nd Amendment are those that start it. "A well regulated Militia,…" though the decision of Heller jacked that didn't it? If being a member of a state militia was a requisit then that would allow for some of the controls necessary. As a regulated militia is a far cry from a rabble.

    Of course the record for a single person killing spree still goes to an Australian, using standard rifles and pistols. Back then we had some v. tight controls and he was a diagnosed psychotic (and being treated) who got through the cracks. So it's going to happen no matter what, it's more a question of "how often".

    As for bb's observation of the Muhajadine v. Soviets, consider them a return gift for their friends in the black jammies. Of course we bank rolled Bin Laden in the deal too. Viet, Afgh and Iraq are cases of foreign countries invading. In this one, it's internal ideology v internal ideology. And someone is supplying the Taliban and insurgents. These groups don't have more than small arms because it's hard to equip hit n run groups. Charlie didn't have the SAMs.

    The original post that kick started this all was the rhetoric being used by the Rightwing-nuts. Very few here are opposed to any responsible citizen from having arms. Our loony-left lives in a fantasy world of think good thoughts and all the guns will turn into flowers.

    @Nick: agreed gun control and an NHS are two different topics. I'm *not* confusing the two, it's the radical right who are drawing the lines between an NHS, gun control *and* the "corrupt", "despotic", "tyranny" of the Obama govt.

    If one is armed and starts making threats towards individuals and particularly govt officials of course the police (and by extension the govt) is going to take one's weapons. It's better to prevent a killing than to mop up the mess. What the wing-nuts aren't seeming to get is: act responsibly, pay your taxes, vote, if you lose take it on the chin and try again next time, obey the relevant laws etc. an the govt will by and large leave you the hell alone. Start making insurrectionist claims and now they're going to start watching you.

    For a group of people who lurve to quote they always seem to ignore Romans 13:1-7. For those who don't know the context, he was often writing from prison and to people under very dire circumstances. Ultimately, he was executed by Roman authorities.

  • @Julie

    Thank you for spotting my mistake.

    I believe my point is still valid. I see the issue here as one of a maladaptive society. We offer very little financial support for those with limited means and mental difficulties to seek treatment. Insurance and health care reform could help address this, but many remain sadly opposed to this solution. That seems to be the more important issue.

    A little under a year ago, a mentally unstable young man in my home state (Iowa) killed the football coach of his hometown. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/desmoinesregister/access/1761842461.html?FMT=ABS&date=Jun+25%2C+2009 It was an incredible tragedy, and I do not mean to deny that violent or unstable people with guns are very, very dangerous. Iowa recently passed sweeping legislation making the acquisition of a permit to buy and carry weapons more uniform throughout the state, and many anti-gun residents fearfully linked the gun law to the coach's death. However, the young man stole the gun from his parents. The recent law would have had no effect on the shooting that occurred.

    Would I cry if 33-round magazines were banned? No. I neither own them nor use them. But I know a great deal about guns and the people who own them, and I know that people will always find a way around restrictions. As I said, the young man in AZ could have purchased several guns and used them consecutively. He could have bought a bolt-action hunting rifle with a scope and killed people from the rooftop of a building or a parked car.

    I am a reasonable, liberal young man. I do feel safer with a gun in my possession, and it is not because I cruise the dark streets of my town looking for villains. But if we build a more equitable and fair society that reduces poverty and provides support for those with mental issues, I believe we promote a great deal more safety than if we give a knee-jerk reaction to a very visible but ultimately insignificant problem.

    How many people die from gun fatalities due to the war on drugs as opposed to mass shootings with huge magazines?

  • Julie in Austin says:

    @Alex,

    You've really hit the proverbial nail on the head — a serious lack of follow-up. That's what let's most of the seriously disturbed "slip through the cracks". It's also what created the mu'jihad'in ("the people who practice jihad", for the Arabic uninformed), and even the Viet Minh.

    Afghanistan could have been an ally post-Soviet expulsion if we'd followed up "guns" with "shovels" or "plows" or much of anything else constructive. Dittos for Vietnam post WW-II and French Colonialism. Hell, IRAN could have turned out differently if we actually lived up to our values, instead of allowing corporate interests to go crazy. And trust me — heavy duty Capitalist here, I just want the Ordinary People to be able to engage in Commerce, buy our stuff, sell us their stuff and enjoy Liberty.

    The overarching problem is one of too much Rhetoric and not enough Reality. Everything gets reduced to sound bites. Requiring that people actually pay into the Health Care System (topic drift much?), which should be a 100% Conservative proposition, is opposed simply because a "Liberal" / "Progressive" proposed it. Getting the government out of the bedroom — gay rights — should also be a 100% Conservative proposition, but instead a 100% not-at-all-Conservative Religious Establishment has decided that queer sex is bad, but eating pork and working on Saturday is okay. It's Bizarro World.

    I love the Constitution. I think it's a fantastic document, but when I see people claiming to respect the Constitution wanting to make religious edicts the Law of the Land, I cringe. Or when the 2nd Amendment, which could be a force for good — in particular, getting rid of our standing army and the drain on the economy it creates, and having a populace that is better able to fend for itself in times of need — becomes this weird justification for packing heat solely for the purpose of packing heat, I'm saddened.

  • It seems hard to elide the historical context of the Framers' times. A "militia" was a body of local troops, "regulated" in that they had officers (usually elected from the landownership or the most popular guys down at the taproom) and were required to drill regularly. So when the 2nd Amendment talks about the right to bear arms as a requirement not of personal liberty or defense against government tyranny but as "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State," it seems commonsensical to interpret this not as an endorsement of unrestricted private firearms but as the Framers' desire to ensure that they would have adequate military reserve forces in time of war.

    Obviously, given both the rhetoric and the case law since then, substantial restriction of gun ownership is impossible. However, I see neither a political nor a social reason that types and functionalities of firearms cannot legally be restricted, as indeed they are in the case of fully automatic weapons.

  • Julie: If we'd have been willing to work with Ho in 1945, maybe. Or maybe not – his guys had been pretty brutalized by colonialization and then Japanese occupation. But after backing the French double-down in Indochina we had that pooch fully screwed. We messed up big in Iran with the Mossadegh coup – once we slapped the Shah up things were going to go sideways 9 out of 10 times. But Iran was headed for trouble like a lot of the rest of the Middle East, and not sure that more Nikes and Levis would have helped.

    And Afghanistan? Enh, hard to say. We certainly armed a lot of bad guys there, and the Soviets did the rest flattening a hell of a lot of the place.

    Not saying that things might not have gone better if we'd done differently, just that there were a lot of forces in play.

    Same-same for the Second Amendment. The Framers liked the idea that the "militia" could do what a standing army couldn't. That lasted, what, about twenty years, and then the damn Brits turned up again, the militia ran like rabbits from Bladensburg, and the Congress, looking at the burned mess of D.C., decided that maybe a professional army wasn't such a bad idea after all. I mean, I like the Second Amendment, but the militia it prescribes was an Enlightenment experiment that, in practice, didn't work so well. And our present interpretation – as authority for private gun ownership – is really an indulgence.

  • I'm gonna take a break in lurking just long enough to suggest that perhaps the constitution has less to do with the state of your gun laws than the hilariously euphemistic Defense Industry's cashed-up lobbyists do.

    30 round magazines and the word 'convenience' appeared in the same sentence somewhere above. Convenience. Let's think about that for a minute, shall we?

    No? OK, back to shouting, then…

  • eau

    I think this whole gun rights discussion has been about a 9.5 on a 0 -10 scale.

    What choo talkin' about…shouting?

    //bb

  • One thing I think is vital to state is that most of the problem with guns is that they have become an emotional issue. Guns are tools. Bad people kill with them, but good people can, and do, protect themselves with them.

    The gun right has done most of the damage to it's own cause. The man I took my NRA concealed carry course from is as liberal as me, and he said that he's often shut up an entire room of radical right-wing loonies by mentioning that he's a liberal and former teacher.

    For a fairly reasonable look into how gun people think, I really recommend this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei8OK4WdoW0 . This guy, nutnfancy, is a scion of the gun cause on YouTube and by gun crowd standards is fairly rational. It's not that I don't believe in reasonable restriction, but as Nick said it is most often infective and done as a reactionary measure to a rare tragedy.

  • Well, I'm not going to respond to every post since my last one, because quite frankly I'm too lazy. But some general points:

    –With regard to the Constitutional intent of the Second Amendment, I maintain that it was meant to imply something quite different than simply a supplemental military force. The draft suffices to ensure that the number of soldiers will be adequate for any particular conflict, and many countries without a right to bear arms have a system in place for conscription. If that were all the Second Amendment wanted to ensure, it wouldn't have been in the Bill of Rights. The BoR is intended to enumerate certain rights that citizens have which cannot be infringed by the government. The idea is that arms equal freedom. As George Washington said, "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."

    –A couple people have mentioned that the shooter in Tucson could have used other weapons instead. I agree, and it's worth bearing in mind that none of the weapons used by Charles Whitman in his massacre would have been affected by the defunct Assault Weapons Ban.

    –FDChief is right that a militia cannot accomplish the same goals as a standing military. Other posters are also correct, however, that an armed populace fighting a guerrilla war can and has proven extremely effective in some cases. With 300 million guns already in private possession in this country, it's not unreasonable to think that Americans could mount a fairly effective resistance if it came to that. Despite our current (and temporary) superpower status, I think that's something worth preserving.

    –eau claims that we're all "shouting," but for the most part this is probably the most civil discussion I've been a part of on this topic in recent memory, and certainly since last weekend. I may never agree with some of you, but I really appreciate the willingness to rationally articulate arguments and beliefs instead of just calling one another psycho gun-totin' rednecks and hippie faggot communists. It's a nice change.

  • eau, I'll not only think about it, I'll repeat it.

    "2) There is a legitimate purpose to a large-volume clip. It is more convenient when shooting at the range."

    And your objection to that statement is what? That shooting at the range isn't an appropriate hobby? That convenience is irrelevant for that hobby? If you could articulate what was so worthy of reconsideration, maybe we'll end up on the same page…'cause I (who've never fired a gun, in my life) made the statement, and I honestly don't get why you think it's absurd.

  • No matter what the gun laws are, there are a shit ton of guns out there and someone will snap and kill again. No amount of legislation can prevent this shit from happening.

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    "You seem to acknowledge that gun control in your current country doesn't work. Yet you advocate implementing those same failed policies in the United States. Why?"

    Nick, your reading of my post is as bad as your reading of "well regulated"(and even if it did mean 'drilled' or 'trained', who does the drilling, and is the NRA willing to allow mandatory training to purchase a gun)? Russia has a high murder rate, just like the US(normal for a developing country), but the difference is that in Russia I can walk into a 24 hour shop at 0100 in the morning and not worry about walking in on a hold up. I don't have to worry about stray bullets. I haven't heard a gunshot since I arrived here, and I that's one big advantage.

    So yes, outside of the police, who are typically criminal, only hunters and crimnals have guns. But VERY few criminals have guns.

    @Alex "The white elephant in this room seems to me to be how we deal with mental illness. The shooter in AZ could have easily built a bomb to mail to the senator if he couldn't get a 30-round magazine. Hell, he could have bought four Glocks, loaded them all, and used one after another."

    The problem is that building a working bomb is not "easy". He could have attempt to build it, and just as likely blown himself to bits, which would have been a better outcome. Also, the products he would buy to make that bomb would typically have other, harmless uses. It's just like when people use the "HE COULD RUN HER DOWN WITH A CAR" argument- yes, a lot of things can be weapons, but they also have an alternative purpose in most cases.

    @Anyone who thinks that an American militia fighting guerrilla warfare would be the equivalent of the NLF in South Vietnam or the mujahadeen in Afghanistan:

    First off, in both cases the insurgents had a pretty much defined ideology, but far more importantly, they had outside sources of support. The Afghan rebels(who weren't even doing very well at all until long after the Soviets invaded) had support from the Middle East, the US and Western nations, Pakistan, and a little bit through Iran as well. Just as important as support, they had neighboring countries willing to open their borders wide for arms shipments. Who would come to the aid of militant American nationalists, who are known for irrationally hating every other country on Earth?

    And the NLF? They had help from the NVA. In fact they needed it because after the Tet offensive the NLF was basically dead as an offensive force. They had to write off almost all their main force units.

    People often remember guerrilla insugencies which were successful, often because they stand out in history as David and Goliath type stories. At the same time, people tend to ignore the casulties and suffering these movements go through. In the Vietnam/US conflict, something like 2 million Vietnamese lost their life. I don't see middle class Americans willing to put up with conditions like that, even for a week.

    Take a look at the Silent Brotherhood's attempt to create a white separatist state in the Pacific Northwest, or the laughable struggle of the Republic of Texas. Keep in mind that both groups had access and/or members who were former military, including Green Berets and SEALs in one case. Still, it ended up being more pathetic than the Mau Mau rebellion.

    Also consider that in WWII, the only partisan army that managed to liberate its own country without heavy weapontry and an allied invasion of any kind was little Albania.

  • Too much here for me to read carefully, but this is important, from Nick

    As for restriction, in a free society the burden of proof is always placed on those who wish to restrict. The default state is freedom. In order to restrict that freedom one must prove beyond a doubt that the restriction is both beneficial and in keeping with the Constitution.

    Here is beneficial, without a doubt.

    http://www.vpc.org/press/0905gundeath.htm

    Constitutionality, from what I've seen here, is pretty damned muddy.

    There's nothing in the constitution about driver's licensees, but nobody, as far as I know, has ever gotten off the hook for driving without one, based on a constitutional argument.

    They wold get laughed out off court.

    Just sayin' . . .
    JzB

  • There is no constitutional right to convenience. The Constitution guarantees, in fact, that the government has the power to make many things considerably LESS convenient.

    "It's fun" or "I like it" are the worst possible arguments for why something should be permitted under the 2nd Amendment.

  • Arslan: My point is not that you don't feel safer (for whatever reason–"because I feel that way" is not a valid reason to restrict rights). It's that evidently criminals have no problem whatsoever getting firearms. Their inclination to do so may be less than here, but that doesn't change the fact that apparently the laws had no effect on their ability to acquire guns. That's the important factor here, not whether or not X number of criminals decide to buy guns.

    As for armed resistance, it may or may not be successful. But does that mean it shouldn't be an option?

    jazzbumpa: Is the VPC really going to make the argument that there's no other differences between those groups of states that might have something to do with crime rates? (Answer: Yes. Yes they are.) I'm not going to look up all the relevant numbers–I'm at work and should be doing something besides arguing on the internet, but it's just so addictive–but there was a similar "study" done by someone at Harvard a while back claiming that higher gun ownership rates leads to higher death rates. I responded with the following, and while the states change slightly the point doesn't: Cherry pick your data, ignore relevant factors, and you can imply that the numbers mean whatever you want as long as your audience doesn't understand the difference between correlation and causation.
    ——
    There is no attempt whatsoever to differentiate other factors between the high-gun and low-gun states. The high-gun states are Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia. The low-gun states are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware. No attempt is made to take socioeconomic factors into consideration.

    This is the most important critique–as it basically invalidates the study, since socioeconomic factors can lead not only to crime but also to the sense of despair and hopelessness that may cause depression and suicide.

    To back up this point, here are the average incomes of the "high-gun" states, followed by those of the "low-gun" states, as per http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/medincsizeandstate.html :
    Louisiana – 48,261
    Alabama – 49,207
    Mississippi – 42,805
    Arkansas – 45,093
    West Virginia – 44,012
    Overall Average: $45,875.60

    Hawaii – 70,277
    Massachusetts – 74,463
    Rhode Island – 64,733
    New Jersey – 77,875
    Delaware – 62,623
    Overall Average: $69,994.20

    So, a family in the "low-gun" states tends to make about $24,000 more than those in the "high-gun" states.

    Now let's do our own experiment. Here are gun ownership rates by state: http://www.swivel.com/data_sets/spreadsheet/1003599. Let's pick the data the other way. For high-gun states, we'll use Alaska, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These states all have over 50% gun ownership, and several are higher than the "high-gun" states used in the Harvard study. For low-gun states, we'll use DC, New York, Illinois, Florida, and California. These states all have less than 25% gun ownership, which is admittedly a higher threshold than the "low-gun" states in the previous study, but nonetheless is significantly below average for the United States, and will give a better picture of socioeconomic diversity. Incomes are as follows:

    Alaska – 69,872
    Idaho – 51,640
    Montana – 51,006
    South Dakota – 53,806
    Wyoming – 57,505
    Overall Average – $56,765.80

    DC – 61,105
    New York – 62,138
    Illinois – 63,121
    Florida – 54,445
    California – 64,563
    Overall Average – $61,074.40

    Still a difference in average income, but a far cry from the difference in the Harvard set. But what about homicide rates?

    These are more recent than the Harvard study; I took the rates from 1996-2006 from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=169 (except for DC numbers, which are taken from http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm for the same years, and with crime rates of other states verified as exactly the same as the first site). Average homicides per 100,000 for that decade is as follows:

    Alaska – 6.263
    Idaho – 2.436
    Montana – 3.0
    South Dakota – 1.527
    Wyoming – 2.77
    High-gun Average – 3.12

    DC – 45.236
    New York – 5.18
    Illinois – 7.56
    Florida – 5.91
    California – 6.927
    Low-gun Average – 14.16
    Low-gun Average Less DC – 6.394

    So if you pick a different set of states, you can make it appear that you're half as likely to get murdered in states with higher rates of gun ownership than states with lower rates of gun ownership, even if you ignore the shockingly high crime rates of DC.

    As a side note, national average homicide rates per 100,000 people from 1996-2006 was 5.945.
    —–
    Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    "My point is not that you don't feel safer (for whatever reason–"because I feel that way" is not a valid reason to restrict rights)."

    Yet again you read it wrong, just like with the Constitution. I DO feel safer, MUCH safer. In over four years I have never felt worried whatsoever.

    "It's that evidently criminals have no problem whatsoever getting firearms."

    No, actually they do have problems getting guns. A simple Makarov pistol may cost under $100 in the US. In Russia on the black market it will go for $600, and I know you know what that can buy you in the States. The fact is that banning guns makes guns harder to get. You need connections to the black market, and you have to pay a higher price generally. You also take much bigger risks.

    " Their inclination to do so may be less than here, but that doesn't change the fact that apparently the laws had no effect on their ability to acquire guns. "

    Actually it has a huge effect. Gun crime is almost unheard of compared to the States.

    "As for armed resistance, it may or may not be successful. But does that mean it shouldn't be an option?"

    If you are loyal to the United States- no(not that this is a terrible thing). The state must have a monopoly on legitimate violence, otherwise it is not a state. No government on Earth recognizes a right of the people to commit sedition against it. The US put that theory to rest even before the Civil War with the Whiskey Rebellion.

    Also if it is going to be an "option", supposedly backed by the Constitution as you suggest, then the constitution MUST include as arms virtually any weapon including explosive ordnance, MANPADS, ATGWs, and what have you. Likewise, it will have to be legal to have connections to and do business with all manner of states and organizations which may not be friendly with the United States.

    Have your guerrilla resistance with your AR-15s if you must, but be ready to accept the consequences of going to war with the US government, and don't act as though you have a Constitutional "right" to do so.

  • Ed,

    I wasn't making a 2nd amendment argument.

    You argued:
    "No one who identifies as a strong pro-gun advocate has ever been able to offer a remotely convincing (or even plausible) answer to my question regarding the above photo: what legitimate purpose can this possibly serve?

    Recreation? I'm pretty sure you can recreate with the standard 15 round magazine. "

    I'm not a strong pro-gun advocate, but I think there is a legitimate purpose: convenience for users of guns as recreation.

    I think it's defensible to say "no…handguns are weapons, and as such, all legislation around them should assume this as their only use."

    But if you're going to allow recreational handgun discharge, legally, then there certainly is a legitimate purpose to larger clips. Honestly, I would guess this is a more likely use of a large clip than mass killing. [Using the case in Tucson…the nutjob shot how many people with the first n bullets (where n = the number of bullets in a "standard" clip)?]

    Again, I've never fired a gun, and never been to the range. But if your intention is that the citizenry can legitimately be fire-armed, then:
    – Can they legitimately use them for recreation?

    what is wrong with a larger clip?

  • As far as armed resistance goes, few major powers will willingly indefinitely occupy a teritory if constant, unending violence is the result.

    Look at the resistance against the French in Algeria. Who backed the Algerians? They were a motley crew of armed, ordinary people. And even better, look at the one factor that makes most of us afraid of gun crime: gang violence. Gangs often have illegally acquired weapons and no support outside the resourced they wring from their community. The police in most major American cities have go to a state of near warfare against gangs with SWAT teams and technology and tactics gangs don't and never will possess. The result? Major, institutionalized crime in these communities. I have friends who live in these places, and they as innocent people want guns most of all.

    Also, the US is a special case when it comes to banning guns. Like it or not, banning guns in the US will leave a huge number of guns in circulation. HUGE. They will not vanish, and like it or not if the government tries to forcibly remove guns from homes the nation will explode into violence and chaos. I know people, as I said, who train explicitly for this. We'll be done as a nation.

    As for your right to feel safe, I understand how it feels to be vulnerable. But I've known people in Russia (journalists like myself) who are terrified of gun crime because difficult to obtain or not, the crooks are armed and there aren't enough cops. The difference between here and there is that while fewer people may have to stare down the barrel of a gun, in an anti-gun state there is absolutely zero chance of an innocent person defending themselves if caught in that unlikely scenario.

    And practical uses for a 30 round clip? If I do feel that I live in a neighborhood where a large, organized violent force may target me (like a criminal gang), it increases my chances of survival. I have black friends living in New York who own 30 round clips for precisely that reason: the cops don't come, and they may very well have to have a high-volume shootout.

  • Couple of points:

    "you're half as likely to get murdered in states with higher rates of gun ownership than states with lower rates of gun ownership"

    Nonsense. You're more likely to get murdered in states with IMMENSE URBAN CENTERS full of whackos and crooks. The data sets are comparing apples and oranges. Use the same states and run a comparison of injuries resulting from livestock and you'll get the reverse. I'm willing to accept that "gun ownership" in and of itself is not a predictor of firearm homicide, but these statistics don't tell us anything about that.

    Instead compare two urban centers, one with high gun ownership and one without. And look at the other factors; high "diversity" (crime, including violent crime, seems to track with cities with large disparities in income – putting criminals with firearms next to people and places with money – as well as social, racial, and ethnic divisions), high mobility, police powers, legal status of firearms and punishents for firearm crimes.

    And as far as the political position of the 2nd Amendment, the probable reason that's it's in the BoR is that the Constitution itself deals primarily with the powers of the governments, federal and, to a lesser extent, the states. That's WHY the populist members of the convention wanted a Bill of Rights, to enumerate personal rights and duties. But if the amendment was about personal firearm ownership, it would have read simply "It being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    Add the part about the militia makes it clear that the amendment is about having a military reserve. That's all.

    Now I have and use my firearms, and at this point I don't want the federal government to go too much further restricting firearms ownership – though we could do a hell of a lot better coordinating our mental health and firearm registration agencies – but I accept that this is an indulgence on our part, and as part of the price of that indulgence some innocent people will die.

    But we do that all the time! What is a driver's license, or a bottle of vodka, or a cigarette, or a Browning Hi-Power? We allow all those things, as both tool and toy, knowing that some people will misuse them and as a result some people, often people who have nothing to do with that person's incompetence, will die. I'm willing to live with that.

    But I AM a callous bastard, tho, so your mileage may vary.

  • Can we PLEASE stop with the "Wolverines!" fantasy of armed resistance?

    1. Successful guerilla wars have only been waged against democratic opponants. Any fantasy occupier of the U.S. will not be democratic.

    2. Successful guerilla wars are viciously brutal on the guerillas. Most successful guerillas come from warrior societies, and most of them are effective only after decades of brutalization. A better example would be the resistance operations in western Europe during WW2, which were no more than a nuisance to the Nazi occupiers.

    3. Guerilla groups quickly use up whatever war materials they have on hand and must either then take them from the occupier or get them from an outside ally. So that arsenal in the basement? Why bother? Keep a garotte in your boot to strangle that Nicaraguan sentry. Once you have his AK, you're in business. That AR-15 knockoff with the full-auto conversion will just make you a target.

    3. So the combination of a ruthless occupier, logistical difficulties, and a "domesticated" U.S. society is a poor combination for any sort of even moderately successful resistance.

    There are perfectly valid reasons for firearms ownership in the U.S.; the Bill of Rights suggests it, and most U.S. citizens either want it or are unconcerned about it. It makes us look silly to drag in some sort of American Maquis fantasy scenario to justify what is a political choice on our part.

  • @ FDChief

    You do not have adequate experience with military tactics or the admittedly whako fringe of armed resistance to blow off the idea of armed resistance. Some of these people are my friends, and they know both the data and the tactics.

    Guns in the hands of the citizens do deter invasion and occupation. As per the "rifle behind every blade of grass" quote by Isoroku Yamamoto and the aversion to heavily-armed clusters of paranoid white people, guns do deter potential aggressors.

    The United States is a warrior society. It's why we invade and kill so many damn nations. We're a bloodthirsty bunch of kooks (note that I am not defending this) and there are many more people than you know who are veterans or military hobbyists who know exactly how to mount successful guerrilla operations. Also, think the IRA. How long did Britain try to grind them down?

    Fuck, I'd die to protect a legitimate concept like my personal freedom.

    Is it a likelihood we'll be invaded? No. But it could happen. The nature of resilient opposition to American occupation in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as a political science professor of mine who studied the issue closely once said, is due in part to an incredible level of private gun ownership in the average community in those nations. And what has happened? We've up and left from Iraq, and a handful of cave-dwelling Islamic hillbillies have put the squeeze on the world's most powerful military.

    As to an earlier comment, bombs are harder to make than loading a gun, but they're far easier and more user-friendly than you'd think. I've done the research, and I know this though I've never tried it.

  • I think we can put this one to bed, now that we're aguing about how much like Afghans and Iraqis were are.

    Here's Greenwald with a pretty good summation of the whole business:

    "Even if we were to create an absolute Police State — the most extreme Police State we could conjure — acts like the Arizona shooting would still happen. There are more than 300 million people in the U.S. and, inevitably, some of them are going to do very bad and very violent things. Thus has it always been and always will be. The mere existence of bad events is not evidence that the Government needs to be more empowered and liberties further restricted.

    Having people do bad things is the price we pay for freedom. There is a cost to all liberty. Having to hear upsetting or toxic views is the price we pay for free speech; having propaganada spewed by large media outlets is the price we pay for a free press; and having some horrible, dangerous criminals go free is the price we pay for banning the Police from searching our homes without a warrant (the Fourth Amendment) and mandating due process before people can be imprisoned (the Fifth Amendment). The whole American political system is predicated on the idea that we are unwilling to accept large-scale abridgments of freedom in the name of safety, and that Absolute Safety is a dangerous illusion. There is a new report today that a police officer in Tuscon stopped Jared Loughner's car for speeding shortly before his rampage, but was unable to search his car because he lacked probable cause to do so. Obviously, that's regrettable — if you're a family member of one of his victims, it's horrifying — but the alternative (allowing Police the power to search whomever they want without cause) is worse: that's the judgment we made in the Bill of Rights."

    So I'd throw the 2nd Amendment in there. We don't have to conjure up some Miliusian fantasy world. The right to bear arms has consequences. We as a nation have chosen to accept those. Let's use the KISS Principle – our political choice to accept the consequences of our liberties is really all we need to make the case here.

  • Alex; see above.

    But, for the record, "warrior society"?

    No. We have soldiers who do our invading for us. We aren't a bunch of tribal hillmen in Waziristan or a gang of death-loving Shia militiamen in Sadr City. We'd be, by and large, just what the French were in 1943 or the Danes in 1944. Or, for that matter, what most of us were in the British occupied parts of this country in 1779 ; a nice, cooperative little citizenry. Take this from an old sergeant. Guns in the hands of citizens ensure lots of dead citizens.

    No, don't take it from me, ask a Tamil Tiger. Oh, no, wait, you can't – the Sinhalese army of Sri Lanka killed them all, along with pantsloads of innocent bystanders whose only crime was to get in the way of a civil war.

    Anyway, now we'rejust arguing about silly stuff. End of mission, out.

  • FDChief: Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in the context for my statement. My point was not that you're less likely to be a victim of gun violence in high-gun states. It was that making a claim that you're more likely to be a victim of gun violence in low-gun states is at best an assumption of causation and at worst disingenuous. As evidence of that, I showed how you could make the same numbers say the opposite thing by cherry-picking the data the other way.

    As for the effectiveness of guerrillas in America, all I can say that's not hypothetical is I'd rather reserve the ability to fight–whether or not I'd be any good at it.

    To your point about accepting the consequences of our liberties, though, I'd agree.

  • Whoops, the above should have said "It was making a claim that you're more likely to be a victim of gun violence in high-gun states…". Apologies for my inability to type.

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    "Look at the resistance against the French in Algeria. Who backed the Algerians? They were a motley crew of armed, ordinary people."

    Algeria was conquered by France in 1830, and was occupied henceforth until the liberation in the mid-20th century, which was helped in no small part by France's defeat in WWII, Indochina, and the propaganda support of the Soviet bloc. Americans got tired of the Iraq war around 2005-6, 3 years max. The "middle American" yahoo with a gun talks a big game, but if the gubmint ever did demand his gun he'd most likely turn it over and go back to watching football. No need to pry anything out of cold, dead fingers.

    The FLN also utilized sanctuaries in Morocco and Tunisia. Please do some more research before attacking others for "not having enough military experience" to comment.

    "And even better, look at the one factor that makes most of us afraid of gun crime: gang violence."

    Or some yahoo who picks a fight he can't win, and decides to even the score. Or some wannabe, or some guy holding up the store you're about to walk into at 0200 in the morning.

    "Gangs often have illegally acquired weapons and no support outside the resourced they wring from their community."

    Not really. In AZ they can simply buy guns via private sale at gun shows, or through the want-ads. They can also have supporters or family members without records buy the guns for them.

    "The police in most major American cities have go to a state of near warfare against gangs with SWAT teams and technology and tactics gangs don't and never will possess. The result? Major, institutionalized crime in these communities. I have friends who live in these places, and they as innocent people want guns most of all."

    LOL WUT I lived in some of the most gang-infested areas in Arizona. It is not "warfare". And are you trying to say that everyone having guns will somehow succeed where your phantom SWAT counter-insurgency force fails?

    "Also, the US is a special case when it comes to banning guns. Like it or not, banning guns in the US will leave a huge number of guns in circulation. HUGE. "

    Nobody is advocating banning guns. Just some sane regulations.

    "As for your right to feel safe, I understand how it feels to be vulnerable. But I've known people in Russia (journalists like myself) who are terrified of gun crime because difficult to obtain or not, the crooks are armed and there aren't enough cops."

    Either they don't know what they are talking about and simply superficially read the stories of murdered journalists, or they, much like those journalists who were killed, actually investigate those who could easily have them killed if they wanted. And if you mess with such people, a gun isn't going to do you a damned bit of good. There are also plenty of cops, the problem is that some of them are criminals. Yes they sometimes shoot people just for the hell of it- but what are you going to do with your private handgun then? Shoot cops? Good luck with that.

    The fact is that guns are extremely difficult to obtain in Russia, including for criminals. Let me explain this again because some people here aren't getting it:

    Number of shots(shootings that is, not individual shots) fired in anger personally seen/heard within my last two years in the US, in one neighborhood: 4-6.

    Number of shootings seen/heard in over 4 years of living in Moscow and the surrounding area: 0

    Number of times I've been assaulted or threatened: 0

    "The difference between here and there is that while fewer people may have to stare down the barrel of a gun, in an anti-gun state there is absolutely zero chance of an innocent person defending themselves if caught in that unlikely scenario."

    Assuming the criminal, who is less likely to have a gun than one in a high-gun state, has a gun and is competent with it. Simply having a gun is not a magic wand that gives you omnipotent power over others.

    "And practical uses for a 30 round clip? If I do feel that I live in a neighborhood where a large, organized violent force may target me (like a criminal gang), it increases my chances of survival. I have black friends living in New York who own 30 round clips for precisely that reason: the cops don't come, and they may very well have to have a high-volume shootout."

    If your friends(why the need to note race?) in New York expect a high-volume shootout with a large number of gang-members it would suggest that they themselves are involved in organized crime.

  • @Arslan:
    "If your friends(why the need to note race?) in New York expect a high-volume shootout with a large number of gang-members it would suggest that they themselves are involved in organized crime."

    Bingo! Statistics also show that very few homicides happen between complete strangers, but have some kind of connection. Ie. spouses, classmates, co-workers, gang v. gang etc. In Tucson, the target was Giffords, everyone else just had the bad luck of being there. Case in point, friends of mine were freaking out because their neighbour was brutally stabbed to death, and "the killer was on the loose!" I asked, did you know her? Not well. Then you're fine. You'll find that the victim knew the killer. Turned out to that it was a former patient of hers…

    @Alex:
    I'm not sure how you can compare an invasion and colonial/imperialistic situations with an insurrection.

    In an insurrection, the Government brings with it a moral legitimacy to hold the lands that are being disputed, unlike colonisation. An insurrection will not be dealt with in the same way that the police handle a crackhouse. In the case of the crackhouse, the remaining parts of the BoR apply, ergo need to be handled with court orders etc. Was it the Nat Guard or Army called in to assist the ATF, or was it all police at Waco? Still, ATF just couldn't "invade the compound" just because it sounded like a good idea, they needed to gather evidence to legitimise their entrance upon private property.

    In the case of an insurrection, the Government will roll in the Nat Guard, Army, Marines and AF. These groups have completely different objectives and rules of engagement. There is nothing in either the Constitution or the BoR that allow for insurrection, however there are many provisos for the Government to deal with insurrection. On top of this, I'm guessing that the majority of gun owners here, while not into bans on their guns, sure as nuts do not believe in measures that would subvert the Constitution and can recognise the difference between having their taxes raised to pay for Obama-care v. legitimate tyranny. This group would then form The Militia that we've been discussing so often. Not to mention, many people on the left and the right will have no truck with these groups and very quickly throw themselves behind the Government thus giving greater legitimacy for the Government to deal very harshly with those involved. Suddenly, very suddenly these groups will find themselves very alone indeed. I just wouldn't want to be living next door to one of these idiots.

    I've often thought that what the Fed should do, is give all of these collective nut jobs, their own little plot of land, say in the Malheure area of Oregon, and allow them all to move there. In fact encourage them to do so (bribe them, whatever it takes). Seal the door behind them, and allow them to set up their own little secessionist government with Pallid, Beckerhead and Lapierre as their leaders. Then invade them, and reclaim the land. Obviously, during the invasion and bombing a fair number would be killed… but then they would have had what they'd asked for, but lost it.

  • Arslan: So the fact that you personally heard a handful of shootings in wherever you lived here, and haven't thus far heard any around where you are in Moscow, means that gun control laws are working (despite your own admission that criminals have no problem getting guns)?

    I live in Salt Lake City, which has fairly low crime rates to begin with, and I live near the University, which is one of the better areas of town. Despite our extremely lax gun laws I've heard a grand total of one shooting since I moved to the city eight years ago, which turned out to be a drug deal gone bad and didn't result in anyone getting killed. Now, if I were to move to, say, certain parts of East London or Birmingham, and thus saw and heard more violent crime than I do now, could I safely conclude I'm more likely to get shot in any part of England than in any part of the US?

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    Nick, I am going to explain this to you one more time, after which you will be diagnosed with some form of mental retardation if you repeat the following again:

    "(despite your own admission that criminals have no problem getting guns)"

    Criminals DO have problems getting guns. You need connections to get a gun, and you need a lot of money. You also need connections if you plan to use a gun in some crime because unless you're able to pay off a lot of people you are going to be in a world of shit.

    As a result, crime may be high but it's not gun crimes. It means no worries about stray-bullets, hold ups, or shoot-outs.

  • So they're more expensive. Which means a criminal who wants a gun will have to commit a few more crimes to buy one. Seems like not many of them have problems with that. As for needing to know people in the black market–again, that's something criminals pretty much excel at.

    In any case, considering that Russia's per capita homicide rate is more than three times that of the United States, you'll excuse me if I don't put too much stock in your argument that "I saw some crimes in the US, and I haven't seen any here so far, therefore gun control works!"

  • Ed: I've been thinking about the question for this thread. Why a 30rd mag? I think it's the wrong question. The question that should be asked is more fundamental than that: Why the *obsessive* need to arm oneself in the first place?

    Yes there always have and will be those who arm themselves. For most it's as Nunya put it, for others it's "because I can". In some cases there's a legitimate need for self protection, but those one's are rare. Usually those who are most likely to encounter gun violence are involved in crime themselves.

    Here, the majority of robberies involve bats and knives (we get people who use a stick in a pocket as gun even). It's only when they're hitting something big like a pub, bank or an armored van that guns enter the mix. Home invasions involve the aforementioned weapons.
    That said life's relatively peaceful.

    What the US is getting is bordering on paranoia with the potential Johnny Crackheads ready to rob Starbucks whilst you're getting your double latte. Why no faith in the police to keep the public order, or your "neighbor" is going to do the right thing, or the belief that Obama-care is going to send people to a gulag?

    Hmm… how much of this is grounded in "There is no society, only individuals…"

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    More talk radio child logic from Nick:

    "So they're more expensive. Which means a criminal who wants a gun will have to commit a few more crimes to buy one. Seems like not many of them have problems with that. As for needing to know people in the black market–again, that's something criminals pretty much excel at."

    Idiocy. Sheer, unadulterated idiocy. Do you think that the 17 year old punk kids who robbed me back in America needed special connections to get their guns? Do you think most common criminals in the US have to pay astronomical prices for the simplest handguns and have connections in the black market?

    In case you weren't aware, you DON'T NEED to resort to the black market in America. You scrounge together $150 and you can easily buy a handgun from a private individual at a gun show.

    "In any case, considering that Russia's per capita homicide rate is more than three times that of the United States, you'll excuse me if I don't put too much stock in your argument that "I saw some crimes in the US, and I haven't seen any here so far, therefore gun control works!"

    You do realize that Russia has been dealing with an ongoing insurgency for years right? And that it has areas with virtually no rule of law? Don't you think that might have something to do with that?

  • "Recreation? I'm pretty sure you can recreate with the standard 15 round magazine. "

    I listened to a gun rights guy on the radio the other day explain that it's more fun when you go to the range to have a high capacity clip. That way you get to spend more time shooting and less time reloading your clips.

    That's plausible. But it's still incredibly dickish. I don't want to spend a couple of extra minutes reloading clips. So I won't be inconvenienced at the firing range, making mass shootings more convenient and possible is a price I'm willing for the rest of you to pay. Making mass murder slightly more difficult isn't worth the inconvenience to me when I go out to the firing range.

    What was odd about that guy was that if you actually didn't really take him seriously and thought he was just a paid flunkie who was in the biz of spouting off stuff he didn't believe, you would have actually found him less morally repulsive.

  • "Do you think that the 17 year old punk kids who robbed me back in America needed special connections to get their guns?"

    Well, considering that you have to be 18 to buy a long gun and 21 to buy or carry a handgun (regardless of private sale exceptions), I'd say that yes, they did need to go to some illegal black market source to get their guns.

    "You do realize that Russia has been dealing with an ongoing insurgency for years right? And that it has areas with virtually no rule of law? Don't you think that might have something to do with that?"

    Wait, so you're saying that gun (and other) crime is attributable mostly to factors that have little or nothing to do with the liberality or restrictiveness of a nation's gun laws? Fancy that.

  • Duh Quarterly says:

    Is it rare to be a gun owner who's in favor of banning guns?

    I live in a crap neighborhood. I've heard drive by shootings more than once, very near my house. I own a gun and I keep it cocked & locked by the bedside because, you know, home invasions are not unheard of. But honestly I would be kinda relieved if all guns were banned and I'd probably be OK with turning mine in…if it meant I didn't hear any more drive-bys.

    It sounds like people are saying "in countries where guns are banned, you don't hear drive bys". I kinda like the sound of that.

  • @Duh: it's very nice. It's not that we have *no* gun violence, it's more the *exception* rather than the rule.
    Those using guns are involved in more organised drug crime or hitting banks than knocking off the corner store or using them in a home invasion. For a home invasion against someone with a knife, a good ol' baseball bat is more than enough.

  • @Duh: What Xynzee said. I can only think of one mass shooting in Australia in the last…well, ever. It led to a Federal Gov. firearm buyback/ amnesty, and tighter controls. Farmers still have guns, but inner city youths don't. Sure, scared white guys in safe neighbourhoods within safe cities within safe states are still pissed off about it, but they just drive V8s to compensate for their erectile disfunction instead.

  • Xynzee

    Of course the record for a single person killing spree still goes to an Australian, using standard rifles and pistols. Back then we had some v. tight controls and he was a diagnosed psychotic (and being treated) who got through the cracks. So it's going to happen no matter what, it's more a question of "how often".

    He had an AR15 semi-automatic rifle with a 30 round magazine. That's not v.tight controls. The tight controls came after and were massively popular. It was 14 years ago

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    ""Do you think that the 17 year old punk kids who robbed me back in America needed special connections to get their guns?"

    "Well, considering that you have to be 18 to buy a long gun and 21 to buy or carry a handgun (regardless of private sale exceptions), I'd say that yes, they did need to go to some illegal black market source to get their guns."

    Genius- they can just have a friend or relative buy the gun for them, or use their gun. You know, just like the Columbine killers did?

    "Wait, so you're saying that gun (and other) crime is attributable mostly to factors that have little or nothing to do with the liberality or restrictiveness of a nation's gun laws? Fancy that."

    I'm saying that an ongoing insurgency and a large piece of territory where clan ties and blood feuding is still the norm tends to jack up the homicide rate a bit.

  • becoming john galt says:

    So, every person carrying a gun is a self-appointed vigilante???

    You seem to miss the point that the same consequences would have played out if a Police Officer had rounded that same corner, gun-in-hand and confronted a person the assassin's gun. So, let me re-write your para as follows:

    "In other words, the effect of THE COP's weapon in this incident was to dramatically increase the odds that someone else who had nothing to do with the attack was shot and perhaps killed. …. in reality can only produce one of three outcomes:

    1. THE COP shoots the assailant. Victory parades are held in his honor.
    2. THE COP shoots additional victims, either through poor aim or mistaken identity."

    Get a grip, pal.

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    How about this, you self-entitled moron:

    Vigilante rounds corner: Shoots person who wasn't Loughner.

    Cop sees vigilante, shoots vigilante.

    Not so simple is it?

  • Arslan Amirkhanov says:

    Here's the cherry on top. While Arizona has incredibly liberal gun laws, unless something has changed in the 4+ years I've been gone, fireworks are still strictly banned in AZ.

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  • I use my handgun for home protection. If too many people see my 42 inch LCD, from the street, I may have 4 people, breaking in; wanting my shit. I now have 15 rounds to offer up a way of negotiation to them bad people, outta my house.
    The problem with the anti-gun people is that they feel someone is stealing because they need, and so that they shouldn't die for wanting food. The problem with this is that there are many opportunists within the "hungry" that want to kill you.

    My .380 begs to differ.

    ~james
    Denver, CO

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