NOTHING TO SEE HERE

Another week, another mass shooting. America truly is the greatest country on Earth, at least at this.

It's almost too obvious to point out the disparity in news coverage and public outrage – even given the ephemeral nature of Mass Murder Outrage in this society – between the shooting at a Colorado movie theater and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Sure, maybe it's just a case of mass shooting fatigue given the close proximity to the Colorado incident. Or maybe neither the media nor the public can identify with odd, furreign-soundin' dark people from a religion they've never heard of. You know, it's not like they're Real Americans who do 'merican things like go to Batman movies on opening night. And far be it from any of us to learn how to feel genuine sympathy for people who are not identical to ourselves in almost every way.

The next time someone recites the trite mantra of "senseless" or "random" violence – the "guns don't, people do" argument – kindly remind them what those two words mean, because a white supremacist gunning people down in a Sikh temple is neither.

Oh, remember that Homeland Security report about how ex-servicemen were turning to extremism in increasing, even if still small, numbers? Good thing that was a load of nonsense!

92 thoughts on “NOTHING TO SEE HERE”

  • TSA Disparager says:

    Fortunately, Congress has decreed that TSA exempt military personnel from the same screening as the rest of us. Present a military ID, go through the pre-check line.

    Thankfully, this application of risk-based screening takes into account the fact that the only domestic terrorist attack in the last ten years was the Fort Hood shooter, and he had nothing to do with the military except that he was, you know, an officer. And on a military base. And had been given orders to Afghanistan.

  • Not to mention that if a Sikh had gone on a shooting rampage at a white-pride event, it would be instantly classified as TERRERRIZM!!!1!!

  • so where is Bachmann, Steve King of Iowa, Gohmert of Texas and all those wonderful gun nuts and anti-Muslim haters.

    not a cry to stop the use of guns, nor a call to lower the temperature of the crazies. no remorse by the Right. just like Tucson, not a word to cool off.
    not a call to "less violent" means.

    as someone said, the violence we have inflicted upon the rest of the world is now coming home to roost. the proverbial chickens coming home to you and yours. the spread of hate is so continuous and so sustained by teh Right.

    Michelle Bachmann, Steve King and the rest of the Right/Republican Muslim hate cabal must realize how more powerful they are now. not that they care to stop this "energy." they are and will continue to use this to advance their "agenda." NOT a single word from them or their ilk in response to this.

    like kind words and I"m sorry would do much by now anyway. Actions speak so much louder than such words.

    so when will the next shooting come? and who's next and where next? we all know now it is just the frequency of the killings that will change. not that this will stop, nor will our "leaders" ever do anything to stop the killings.

    the NRA and the Right are in total charge of our culture WAR, which is little solace to innocent victims. but as i'm told, collateral damage is part and parcel of wars. and the Rigth has America in its' riflescopes.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    Shooting rampages by a white males resulting in a large number of dead and wounded in now as American as apple pie. It has even become a social phenomenon other countries adopt, i.e. Sweden.

    We may express some objection or even shock to this new American tradition, but clearly we don't object enough and aren't too shocked to do anything about it.

    Basically, we fully accept shooting rampages as part of our lives. We intend to do nothing to prevent them. It's now similar to breaking a leg, car accidents, buying a gun, pedophilia or going to Hawaii.

  • Timothy McVeigh was a servicemember, and he managed to do a whole lot of damage with very little help.

  • So after years of heavy training, war experience and a constant barrage of Faux News/Limpbough/Beck(erhead) messaging these guys are coming home to a shit economy and a fever pitch of anti-government sentiment.

    And *now* we're going to talk about gun control. YASF!

  • @ J Dryden:

    You know The Onion is just channelling Mark Twain, right?

    "[The steamboat] blowed out a cylinder-head."
    "Good gracious! anybody hurt?"
    "No'm. Killed a nigger."
    "Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt…"

    That's fron Huckleberry Finn, published 1884.

  • @MS: Sweden? Sweden's the one in the middle. Norway — the one on the left — hasn't been apart of Sweden for a good hundred years.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Have a cold?
    The flu?
    Alleriges?

    Well, if you want an antihistamine, you can go to the aisle in the drugstore or supermarket that sells them, and purchase as many as you want.

    Ah, but if you want a decongestant, because it's frequently used in the production of methamphetamine, since 1999, you have to go the counter and ask for it.
    It's sold only in small amounts.
    And you must sign for it.
    Purchase too much, or too often, and a warning bell may go off somewhere, and local police, sheriff's, or state troopers, may be paying you a visit – and you'd better be sneezing or have a runny nose!

    So, if you want to purchase a decongestant, we have mechanisms in place to monitor potential abuse.

    But if you want a gun, or a semi-automatic weapon, thousands of rounds of ammo?
    NO PROBLEM!

    You see, methamphetimine destroys lives and kills people, so we need to monitor some of the ingredients, to prevent people from making and selling it.

    But, since guns don't destroy lives and kill people – people do – in too many states, anyone is free to buy as many ingredients for committing murder as they want – guns, rifles, bullets, ammo, camo, etc.

    We have nationwide controls in place for the sale of decongestants, and very few in most areas for the purchase of guns and bullets. And those controls that ARE in place, are constantly being attacked by the NRA.

    We're now a nation where saying "Gesundheit!" or "Bless you!" to someone, makes the person who sneezed seem potentially suspicious, but yelling "Duck!" is considered a sound use of a person's 1st Amendment Rights because someone else has chosen to use their 2nd Amendment Rights.

    AH-CHOO!!!
    Excuse me, there's someone knocking at my door…

  • anotherbozo says:

    I didn't hear the media bias in this one. Interviews with articulate, polite Sikh men and women, including one by the surviving son of the "president" of the temple. Media seemed to like the Sikh who asked plaintively, "What have we done wrong?" or some such, meaning, "how have we deserved this?" Also mention of young Sikhs having had to shave their beards and do away with turbans because of unrelenting harassment from morons who thought they were Muslim.

    No, I thought coverage was ample, Ed, not 24/7 overload, maybe, but adequate and serious.

    As to the case that these shootings are becoming as American as apple pie, I'm with you. Sad, all these massacres; they just can't be helped.

  • Really enjoy the blog but not sure I agree with the ending of this post.

    While the DHS report did raise the possibility of disillusioned (and/or emotionally disturbed vets) being targets for recruitment from various extremist groups, this incident really doesn't fall into that category. The shooter left military service in 1998 and (as far as I can tell) never deployed to a conflict zone. To connect his military service (16 years ago) to this shooting is a stretch that hasn't been supported by anything but speculation and the desire to give the story a compelling 'hook'.

    The DHS report was suppressed due to political considerations largely stemming from conclusions discussing veterans and alternate political parties, this shooting, however, is not a good case for validating the work.

  • I've noticed that ex-military have become more and more right-wing since the draft was eliminated. I guess they buy the BULLSHIT from the right about how they love the military.

  • Some excellent commentary on the issue by my one of my other (sorry Ed) blog crushes, Chauncey de Vega: http://wearerespectablenegroes.blogspot.com/2012/08/white-nationalists-reflect-on-sikh.html

    To quote: "… we will never see a special investigative report called "White in America: Why do White Men Commit Mass Shootings?" on any major news network in the United States.
    Likewise, there will be no special congressional hearing or "Beer Summit" where a panelist dares to ask either "What is wrong with white men?" or "Are white men exhibiting pathological violence in response to the Age of Obama?"

    No, there won't. Nope, we sure won't.

  • I think it's worth keeping in mind that the last time a white supremacist in this country decided to make a high-profile statement through violence, he killed 168 people without firing a single shot.

  • Yes, and since then we track large purchases of fertilizer (ammonium nitrate).

    Large purchases of ammunition – not so much.

  • So your theory is that someone who puts months of planning into a massacre will be stymied by having to drive around town and purchase 50-100 rounds of ammo at a time with cash, instead of buying it in bulk?

  • @Nick: Actually they caught the guy who planted the bomb in Spokane by checking receipts for fishing weights.

  • "So your theory is that someone who puts months of planning into a massacre will be stymied by having to drive around town and purchase 50-100 rounds of ammo at a time with cash, instead of buying it in bulk?"

    It certainly seems to have stymied further fertilizer bombers.

  • Andrew, that's the same logic used by the Bush Administration when it claimed that the War on Terror was a success because no more terror attacks had happened. Correlation != causation.

  • You need to understand Nick's message folks. You see, if someone REALLY wants to kill people, they will find some way to do it, which is why we can't have any laws against gun ownership or the purchase of ammunition. It's just a total waste of time. For some bizarre reason, this cannot be applied to traffic laws, larceny, fraud, etc. but only guns. There's no point in having any laws because people break them.

  • Yeah, we get it, Nick: there's absolutely no connection between our nation's free-for-all attitude toward guns/ammunition – and handguns in particular – and the amount of gun violence in the US. Point proven. Maybe if all of those Sikhs had been armed in their temple this wouldn't have happened.

  • Arslan: We already have laws against killing people. Not to mention laws against possession of weapons by felons, which seem to work about as well as laws against possession of marijuana by stoners. What, exactly, makes you think that passing a law against ownership of certain firearms would be any more effective than passing a law against ownership of certain plants?

    Ed: The vast majority of the gun violence in the United States is gang/drug related. Mass shootings like this, while high-profile and inspiring emotional appeals for legislation that doesn't actually work but certainly makes frightened people feel better, are statistical anomalies. If we're really serious about ending violent crime–involving guns or otherwise–we need to end the ridiculous war on drugs, provide better education, vocational training, and job opportunities to disadvantaged young people, and fix our broken mental healthcare system. The problem with gun control is that it doesn't actually address any of the causes of violence; it points a finger at a scary-looking piece of metal and says "There! That's the problem!"

    The ineffectiveness of gun control has been shown time and against. The CDC couldn't find any evidence that any gun control law in the country actually reduces crime, which is pretty self-evident when you look at the crime rates in many places with strict gun control laws (e.g. Chicago or LA). In England, an example that the pro-gun control crowd loves to hold up as an example of a civilized society that's properly terrified of firearms in civilian hands, gun crime has risen significantly since their latest round of gun bans, enacted in 1996 following the Dunblane massacre–a legislative response based on emotion, similar to what many here are calling for at this point. Now, obviously there's not enough data to say that gun control increases crime, but there's plenty to show that it does nothing to reduce it.

    But hey, keep acting as though the efficacy of gun control is a forgone conclusion–Because hey, gun control will work! Just like prohibition did! Just like drug laws do!–and dismiss any factual evidence or logical argument to the contrary. Argument from Incredulity: It's not just for creationists anymore!

  • It's funny how "ex-military" is sort of touted as exactly the kind of person you'd want to own a firearm "because they're trained with it", etc. Yet, it sort of overlooks the fact that military personnel are systematically trained (i.e. brainwashed in a very real way) to dehumanize those who they have been ordered to kill and to disconnect their moral objections to taking human life.

    The problem is that if they decide someone is somebody who needs to be killed, for whatever reason (e.g. they are ordered to kill them, or they have some mental snap), they are exactly the person who's been trained to gun down people and not have any moral issues with it.

    I guess my point is that if guns should be kept out of the hands of anyone, I'd err on the side of keeping them out of the hands of people who have been trained to kill other human beings and not feel anything about it.

  • I've often wondered if we've kept the war going out of fear the return of the military en masse. I'm with Xynzee on this.

    You know, there is no demilitarization program for returning service members. After breaking them down, rebuilding them in the military mold, subjecting them to trauma, requiring them to perform self-altering act, and so on, the government releases them as-is into the general public.

    Nothing like unemployment and uncertainty and loss of cause to push people toward whatever gives them something to believe in, something to unify and make sense of all the chaos. Look for more extremist nuttiness, especially of the religious / nationalistic / White Noise variety. Look for more people craving the comforting authority of the Right wing. More bread and circuses, too.

    I just hope that we don't get a charismatic veteran who understands leadership and decides to organize his peers, whether into a violent gang for profit or a "take back our government!" political group.

    Ironically, one of the purposes of an armed populace is to protect itself from the military. Just sayin'.

  • As an ex-military person myself, I'd say that people like this guy are much more the exception than the rule.

    Keep in mind that there are something like 3 million active and reserve military personnel at any given time. Add in the number of former members and it would be quite a few more.

    I'm sure any city of 3 million people in the United States is likely to have one or two psychos in it.

  • In England, an example that the pro-gun control crowd loves to hold up as an example of a civilized society that's properly terrified of firearms in civilian hands, gun crime has risen significantly since their latest round of gun bans, enacted in 1996 following the Dunblane massacre–a legislative response based on emotion, similar to what many here are calling for at this point.

    This is factually inaccurate. 'Gun crime' went up in England and Wales post-Dunblane and the introduction of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, and then started to fall. In Scotland, it went down in the years after Dunblane.

    However, the reason I've put 'gun crime' in quotes is that it contains an enormous range of offences, and types of weapons that stretch the definition of 'gun' (imitation handguns, converted imitation handguns, reactivated firearms, converted air pistols, BB gun/airsoft weapons, deactivated firearms, blank firers, converted and unconverted blank-firing starting pistols, CS gas and pepper sprays). There is also a challenge for those working with stats around offences involving firearms in Great Britain (the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 is not law in Northern Ireland) in that the definitions have been changed at least once since Dunblane, and cover two completely separate criminal justice systems.

    This paper, published by the Centre for Crime and Justice studies, speaks to the actual situation with regard to 'gun crime' in GB. It specifically warns against misreading the statistics in the way that you have, thus:

    "This paradox of rising ‘gun crime’ in the wake of a ban on the private ownership of handguns prompted some ill-informed criticism (especially from certain American commentators) on the perverse effects of handgun prohibition."

  • @Major: of course mass murderers are the exception rather than the rule! That goes for any population. But it's true that we have an overworked, under-served military right now, and more stressors than ever.

    Even so, I'm far more worried by the guys who fetishize the military (or the police) and either got kicked out, never made it in, or didn't even try to serve. They have more problems that we can describe in a few paragraphs. And they may do all the quasi-military range work, but they never receive the key training involving self-control, when not to shoot, and why we don't shoot people for personal reasons — only for state reasons. On and on.

    But until there is a meaningful way to measure a person's capacity for future violence, absent a history of actual violence, the only gun control measure that could make a real difference is an absolute ban — which is impossible, given our size, borders, and current firearm circulation. Not to mention our Constitution. Cities can have greater limitations on ownership by charter, and should, but nationally? Non possumus.

  • @ Ellie: Well-spotted/cited. That passage always creeps me out more than any other in that novel–Twain just isn't going to let *any*body in the book not be an asshole: Jim beats his deaf daughter, Aunt Sally dismisses the humanity of blacks, and the less said about that little shit-weasel Tom, the better. No wonder Huck lights out for the territories.

    Anyway–

    America is a Venn diagram of communities that, when they overlap in a certain way, produce horrible, dangerous people:

    People who love guns (not horrible in itself, but it does make them comfortably familiar with the ownership and use of a means by which many people may be killed in a short span of time)

    People who are racist (horrible in itself)

    People who are hostile to the government (not horrible in itself, but an easy tip-over into lunacy)

    People who are crazy (horrible in itself, though not really the fault of the insane so much as a community that lacks any kind of effective support system for these people.)

    Enough of those circles overlap and you get a mass killing. And if you take away one, well–frankly, it's not that hard to find some non-gun-related way to kill a lot of people. And maybe you're not racist, you're anti-Islamic (*so* much black comedy about the killing of Sikhs under the impression that they're the same as Muslims.) And maybe you love the government, and just hate the people who are 'trying to usurp it.' And maybe you're not crazy, you're just evil–for which there is no fix.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't address any one of these problems. But when we do: a., we shouldn't confuse one problem for the entirety of the diagram, and b. those within the group in question will always be able to point to other sections of the diagram as 'the *real* problem.'

  • Elle: I'm not sure you read far enough into that report (thanks for the link BTW, it's actually quite interesting). Note the graph on page 12, which shows that crime involving handguns and non-airgun firearms has increased until recently despite the ban. Further, the authors point out that one of the "biggest proportionate increases in types of firearms being recorded as misused" is Handguns (up 55 per cent from 2,687 to 4,175) (p13). Pages 16-17 also note that "Over the period considered as a whole, the total number of firearm offences has increased by a third, the number of firearm offences (excluding air weapons) causing serious or fatal injury has more than doubled and there has been a marked increase in the use of imitation weapons," although crime has gone down in the most recent year. It's also worth quoting the authors' conclusions regarding policy implications, wherein they state that "Fundamentally, however, the core message from the existing evidence base is that firearm-related offending must be understood as the result of a complex combination of social and economic factors – and it will be necessary to address these social and economic factors in order to tackle the ‘gun crime’ problem effectively."

    Bottom line, gun crime may not have increased as dramatically as certain British media outlets have portrayed, but the laws have certainly been ineffective.

  • The liberal blogosphere is really working hard to be outraged here.

    First it was, "bet they won't call it terrorism" Oh nevermind, the FBI is investigating it as domestic terrorism.

    Now it's "the media won't pay attention to it" Oh, nm, CNN has a whole section devoted to it in their top news stories.

  • @Nick

    There is no 'recent' data in the report, in that it was written in 2007. It is helpful as a clear record of what happened immediately post-Dunblane, and a useful introduction to the complexity of 'gun crime' indicators in Great Britain.

    From the Home Office stats published in 2011, we can see that the same measure you cite as evidence of an increase in firearms offences post-Dunblane, has actually fallen for the sixth time in as many years:

    "Offences involving the use of a firearm continue to make up a small proportion of recorded crime. In 2009/10, firearms were used in 0.3 per cent of all recorded crimes, or about three in every thousand. Overall, firearms were reported to have been used in 12,995 recorded crimes in 2009/10, which is the sixth consecutive annual fall and a nine per cent decrease on 2008/09. This compares with an overall decrease of eight per cent of all offences recorded by the police between 2008/09 and 2009/10." [Source]

    With regards to handguns, specifically, there was an even larger reduction:

    "Handguns were used in 3,748 offences during 2009/10, a fall of 12 per cent on 2008/09. The number of offences involving the use of a shotgun decreased by five per cent, from 618 in 2008/09 to 585 in 2009/10." [ibid.]

    Both of these, as with your original statistic, refer only to England and Wales.

  • Fair enough. So crime went up in the decade or so after Dunblane, and since then has been dropping. Violent crime in the United States has also been dropping since 2006 (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0612/US-violent-crime-rate-down-for-fifth-straight-year). Given that Americans have been buying more guns and getting more carry permits in the last 20 years (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34714389/ns/us_news-life/#.UCFdivaPVSk), while Brits have had access to things like air rifles and replica weapons restricted in addition to the already-strict measures on real firearms, wouldn't that suggest that crime rates rise and fall independently of gun control measures or gun ownership? If so, it would behoove us to consider the actual causes of crime (as the conclusions in the first paper you linked state) rather than focusing on this idea that firearms restrictions are what make the difference.

  • [W]ouldn't that suggest that crime rates rise and fall independently of gun control measures or gun ownership?

    I'm not sure that two sets of data are enough to answer that question, or even to develop much of a working hypothesis. I think that the US and UK (kind of, in that N. Ireland has different gun laws, is awash with guns, and is a post-Conflict state, which muddies the waters) are probably the worst two countries to try and compare, if you're going to compare two countries' firearms regulation. Pre-Dunblane and post-Hungerford, GB already had incredibly robust gun laws, so measuring the impact of the 1997 Act is possibly less useful than looking at other interventions.

    I would think that looking at Europe might be interesting from the perspective of looking at the impacts of tighter regulation? The EU is trying to level out gun laws, and has directed member states to regulate in this regard. There will no doubt be something looking at the different effects of this on crime in states as diverse as gun-happy Czech Republic and gun-shy Poland.

  • Its late here in Afghanistan, but I wanted to make a small point: I knew jack-nothing about white supremacist "culture"…until I joined the military and met about a half dozen current and a couple former members/subscribers to that, Ed, ethos(?).
    Every one of them was a gun enthusiast (as was/am I to a much lesser degree). However, unlike them, I did not have a small library of supremacist literature nor was I interested in "the coming race war" (they certainly were). Bear in mind this was in a unit of maybe 100-120 during my years there. Haven't sen any of them n the news, but it would surprise me not at all if I did tomorrow.

  • "Andrew, that's the same logic used by the Bush Administration when it claimed that the War on Terror was a success because no more terror attacks had happened. Correlation != causation."

    No, I mean it has *literally* stopped further fertilizer bombers because their purchases were tracked, raised alarm bells and resulted in their arrest. It's in the news on an irregular basis.

  • Elle: "I'm not sure that two sets of data are enough to answer that question, or even to develop much of a working hypothesis."
    –No, but every country has gun laws, and every country has crime rates. England has low(ish) gun crime and restrictive gun laws. The US has high gun crime and liberal gun laws. Switzerland has low gun crime and medium-liberal gun laws. Russia has high gun crime and restrictive gun laws. The bottom line is that gun laws in and of themselves have no causal effect on crime rates, because crime is a matter of social and economic ills, not the ability of non-criminals to buy guns from a store.

    "I think that the US and UK…are probably the worst two countries to try and compare, if you're going to compare two countries' firearms regulation."

    –I won't disagree; I brought up the UK primarily to illustrate that their gun laws, at least the 1997 set, don't seem to have had any real effect on their gun crime rates, and because the UK is often held up as an example of the efficacy of gun control.

    Andrew: The difference is that there are really only two reasons to buy more than a couple pounds of fertilizer to begin with; you're either a farmer or blowing something up. By contrast, legitimate uses of firearms can use a great deal of ammunition. If I spend a couple hours at the range, I can easily burn through 250-500 rounds target shooting, and if I go with a decently sized group as I often do, we'll get through 1000 rounds pretty easily. Buying in bulk to save money makes sense–5000 rounds might be anywhere from one month's to five years' worth of shooting, perhaps even less if you shoot competitively–whereas there is precisely zero legitimate non-farming reason to buy a great deal of fertilizer.

  • The bottom line is that gun laws in and of themselves have no causal effect on crime rates, because crime is a matter of social and economic ills.

    The fact that the second part of this sentence is true(ish) doesn't make the first part also true.

    Completing a score-card for a set of states, recording the tenor of their gun regulation and their crime rate, can't possibly predict the impact of changing the regulation of gun ownership in the US. It's not even an adequate way of measuring of what happened as a result of regulation in those states.

    Someone must surely have modelled the likely impact on gun crime in the US of introducing different types of regulation?

  • I don't know how you could possibly model that. Plenty of predictions have been made by both sides, but they can't be substantiated. While correlations of existing data is not ideal, I don't know of another way to predict the results of legislation.

  • While correlations of existing data is not ideal, I don't know of another way to predict the results of legislation.

    At the risk of sounding facetious, and I promise that I'm not being, you build a model. It's absolutely business-as-usual for technical pieces of regulation, and there must be a hundred interdisciplinary teams in the US who could give it an excellent crack.

  • Well, I'll admit to being skeptical–I'd definitely want to see the methodology used in such a model–but if you find one, let me know. That'd be interesting.

  • Back to the original statement about McVeigh –

    Sure, he was able to kill 168 people with an explosive device. After considerable effort, time and planning. Not to mention that he had the help of an accomplice.

    It doesn't take that much time, effort and planning to grab a semi-auto rifle, several oh let's say 30-round magazines, and start picking people off.

    Which is probably why we see that scenario far more often than a truck full of explosives.

    The gun is:

    Much easier to obtain.
    Requires little or no assembly.
    Requires very little specialized knowledge to operate.
    Is much less likely to kill the operator than an improvised explosive.
    Takes up much less space and is easier to transport employ.
    Is much more reliable than an improvised explosive.
    Is less likely to be traced by the authorities.

    Which is why we equip infantrymen with rifles and not Ryder trucks full of fertilizer.

  • yep all this, oh but there are other ways to kill, so lets not rush to judge this instance of gun related murder.

    lol. there have been too many too often to play that semantic game. and some of you are very good with semantics. i am amazed/saddened at all the word play.

    the facts speak otherwise, all the dead people, i mean.

    giving excuses for ths type of behavior is what enables more of teh unfortunates to use guns, ammonia/nitrogen or whatever "weapon" of choice they can get.

    that's what is most notable obout the conversation.

    all kinds of excuse and alibis, but not a whit of determination to call this trian of thought, that it's okay to absolve others, like there's nothing we can do about. too bad, all we have is words, while the enabling of nuts with guns and hate speech further encourages the abuse of the intolerant people.

    tolerance of the intolerance, allowing guns nuts and hate speech without doing something other than calling them on their actions, aka by saying "everyone does it" or it not so special is so typical of what happened n Weimar Germany. who'd have thought the Nazis could have turned from thugs into state sponsored thugs, right?

    so you tihnk you can stop these people and these ideas by saying, " oh well, that's life". that's the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans? to die by nuts who are egged on by nuts like Bachmann and Rush or whomever pushes hate? gosh what a country.

    we/Americans really are special, leave England, Sweden, Norway and all those other Gun fanciers in the dirt. we deserve to die at this rate is what i hear from all the excuses.
    wonderful. wonderful. oh nevermind. i forget sometimes. this really is AMERICA. silly me.

  • @Bernard

    Just wait until Rush goes into full-blown Rwanda "Kill the cockroaches" mode. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

  • Major Kong/Bernard: So what's your solution, then? Gun control? Even the most onerous of gun control–a full-on ban–would do nothing except making guns about as hard to get as cocaine is now or whiskey was during Prohibition. There's no evidence that lesser forms of gun control do anything at all, either in relation to crime or mass shootings. After all, Charles Whitman killed 14 people using a bolt-action hunting rifle with a five-round fixed magazine.

    The choice isn't "gun control or do nothing," any more than the choice is "impose jail sentences for racism or do nothing." As I stated in one of my first posts on this thread, "If we're really serious about ending violent crime–involving guns or otherwise–we need to end the ridiculous war on drugs, provide better education, vocational training, and job opportunities to disadvantaged young people, and fix our broken mental healthcare system." But I guess it's just easier to appeal to emotion and blame an object. Can any of you provide evidence that gun control, of any kind, actually has any sort of demonstrable effect on gun crime rates?

  • Hard to say Nick. I think some of your ideas are quite good. I'm not blaming the object, I'm just pointing out that the object makes somebody a much, much more efficient killer.

    I'm not spring-loaded to the gun control position, but I suspect Whitman might have done a lot more damage if he'd had more firepower at his disposal. How many people do you think the Aurora shooter could have hit with a 5 round bolt-action rifle?

    Yeah, you can kill with a bolt-action rifle, heck you can kill with a muzzle-loader but you can't kill nearly as many nearly as quickly. You can kill someone with a knife, but you don't hear of too many drive-by stabbings.

    There's a reason we don't send soldiers into the field with bolt-action rifles any more. Seriously, would you choose an '03 Springfield or an AR-15 for your hypothetical mass-shooting rampage?

    We already have some limits in place on civilian firepower – you can't own a fully automatic weapon without a Class 3 license, a lengthy background check and a large fee. Which is why Class 3 firearms are almost never used to commit crimes. Oh, but I forgot, laws don't work.

  • The effectiveness of any particular weapon is purely situational. Had Whitman been in possession of an AR-15, he might have done more damage. He might have also done less damage, had he fired more quickly and thus less accurately than he did. He also might have done the same amount, if he'd had a scope and carefully aimed his shots. In your hypothetical scenario, it would depend entirely on the time, place, exits, etc–the kinds of things that a psychopath would spend significant amounts of time planning. A semi-automatic weapon is no more inherently dangerous than a bolt-action, a handgun is no more inherently dangerous than a shotgun; what makes them dangerous is how they're used.

    As for fully-automatic weapons, you're correct that they're rarely used in crime (although illegally owned weapons are still out there). You confuse correlation and causation, though. Most gun crimes are committed with handguns, and there aren't a ton of fully automatic handguns. Nor is full-auto a necessity or even desirable in most situations, which is why even soldiers rarely use it unless their task involves suppressing fire. A fully-automatic weapon, which dumps a magazine in seconds, costs a lot to feed, and provides no real advantage over a semi-auto to the average criminal, isn't worth the money. They're more common in Mexico, however, because of the obscene scale of that conflict–despite the fact that civilian possession of fully-automatic weapons is prohibited.

  • For the record, I am in favor of extremely harsh penalties for anyone who misuses a firearm, as well as any felon found to be in possession of a weapon, or anyone who sells to someone who couldn't legally purchase a gun on their own. I just don't think that restricting firearms ownership by people who are inclined to follow the law in the first place makes any sort of sense.

  • "By contrast, legitimate uses of firearms can use a great deal of ammunition."

    Yes, and so can illegitimate uses. Better to make sure, given the potential.

    After all, I doubt you can argue that fertilizer is illegitimately used *at a greater rate* than ammo is.

  • Or, as Andrew Vachss put it, "I'm 100% behind the 2nd Amendment—I think adults should be allowed to own as many flintlock rifles as they wish."

  • It's interesting to me that the above two arguments are rarely applied to any right besides the right to bear arms. Speech can be used for illegitimate purposes–to incite riots or coups, to exhort one person to harm another, to convince some racist asshole that "action needs to be taken." Should we license free speech, and force all adults to register any speech they make with the government? Perhaps allow no more than one political statement per month, or maybe set up a permit system to allow people to speak in public?

    As for the technology argument, does the First Amendment apply only to single-page, text-only printing presses and unamplified voice?

  • Christ, Nick, gun control isn't a zero-sum proposition. You seem to advocate better access to mental health-I'm with you. You even say explicitly that you think there should be harsh penalties for illegally obtaining guns. By that line of reasoning, I would think you would agree that gun shows should have the same background check requirements that gun shops have. Or is it the other way around? Should gun shops not be required to perform background checks? How randian do you want to be?

    Look, no one who desires stronger gun legislation thinks that's gonna be the silver bullet for all of America's problems. But saner gun legislation is an important step. Much like ending the war on drugs and increasing access to mental health care. But while you pay lip service to better access to mental health care, I'm sure you'd fight tooth and nail if some of that care came out of your hard-earned tax dollars.

    If I could go back 200 years, maybe I would try to stop the second amendment from ever being written, but since I don't have a time machine, I'll just fight the NRA in battles I can potentially win, such as logical legislation. Who really wins when the NRA moves the debate farther right? Individual gun owners or gun producers? And who loses aside from the Sikhs, Aurora movie goers, the forty-year old guy walking to the Safeway down the street, Columbine high school students, Virginia Tech students, Fort Hood soldiers, Kip Kinkle's parents and classmates, Gabby Giffords, children of gun owners, victims of armed robberies, the old, the you, the in-between, the fat the thin, the Americans, to name a few?

    Christ, man, you are not John Galt!

  • I wouldn't mind a yes/no background check hotline that could be checked by private sellers, although it would have to be evaluated for potential privacy issues. That said, gun shows are not the wretched hives of scum and villainy the Brady Campaign would have you believe–according to the DOJ, less than one percent of inmates using a firearm in the commission of a crime reported that they obtained their weapon at a gun show (http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/k/kouri/2004/kouri112904.htm).

    Why is gun legislation "an important step"? Thus far, nobody's been able to show that any kind of gun control even works. It seems to be taken by the anti-gun crowd as a matter of faith, and I don't believe in basing law, particularly law which restricts a right, off of what someone is "totally sure will work, man."

    It is pretty amusing how you act like you know anything about my other political stances based on this one. I'm a proponent of high progressive taxes, socialized healthcare, women's rights, unions, and subsidized clean energy. I'm also in favor of gun rights. Yes, Timmy, it is possible to have an opinion on multiple issues independently of one another!

    Again, show me any evidence that the legislation you're in favor of actually works, and maybe you'll have some basis to call it "logical." Right now, the calls for gun control seem to be based on fear, misunderstanding, emotion, and unsubstantiated assumptions.

  • RE: The "shooting range, buying bulk" argument.

    Do shooting ranges log hours? Surely it'd be pretty easy to prove that you've been spending bulk time, and using bulk ammo, at the range?

    And asserting "most crime is linked to drugs" is just stupid. Really? Your saying that most crime is linked somehow to the largest criminal enterprise on the continent, possibly on the planet?

    Sweet merciful pants! Someone get this guy a line to the President!

  • Generally, no they don't. Additionally, not all ranges are indoor, supervised ranges–the one I go to most often is a public shooting range out in the middle of nowhere; there is no rangemaster or anything like that.

    Be as dismissive as you want; it appears that a lot of people don't realize the easiest way to reduce violent crime in this country is to end the war on drugs.

    Good luck with the grammatical seppuku.

  • "We already have laws against killing people. Not to mention laws against possession of weapons by felons, which seem to work about as well as laws against possession of marijuana by stoners. What, exactly, makes you think that passing a law against ownership of certain firearms would be any more effective than passing a law against ownership of certain plants?"

    So lets just get rid of ALL laws, since laws apparently don't work. This is basically what you're saying.

    I also don't know what you meant by claiming that Russia has high gun crime. That might have something to do with the wild situation in the Caucasus where there is clan violence, organized crime, and an insurgency, or perhaps crimes with "traumatic" weapons are classified as gun crimes.

    In any case, nobody is arguing that gun control laws would stop all gun crime, or perhaps even a significant amount of gun crime. The idea is NOT HAVING SO MANY FUCKING MASS SHOOTINGS. There are shootings in Russia but generally if you get shot it's because you are somebody important, and you'd better know somebody important if you plan to buy a gun illegally.

    And please don't try to use poor Switzerland as an example unless you are going to advocate gun registration and licensing as they do in that country. No, Switzerland doesn't just give everyone a Sig rifle to play with. You are serving in the reserves and the ammo is sealed under lock and key, with a penalty for opening it without orders. Private firearms ownership requires a license and qualification. Support that, and then maybe you'll have an argument. But then again…

    You are somewhat right when you say that crime may not be tied to gun laws. The thing is though, we're concerned with stopping first and foremost a particular type of crime- the mass shooting spree. Would this prevent a lot of regular crime? Probably. The lack of guns in Russia has not pushed ordinary thugs to rob little stores with knives.

    Furthermore, the claim about ending the war on drugs is ridiculous; drugs tend to kill only the user, if at all.

  • "So lets just get rid of ALL laws, since laws apparently don't work. This is basically what you're saying."

    Clearly you're unfamiliar with the concept of reductio ad absurdum. We have laws against harming people (e.g. shooting them). Having laws against things that are not in and of themselves harmful to others (e.g. possession of a semi-auto rifle with a pistol grip, smoking the reefer, or drinking) is generally unnecessary and unsuccessful at best, and at worst leads to the criminal control of whatever object has been prohibited (see also: Prohibition).

    "I also don't know what you meant by claiming that Russia has high gun crime." Russia's per capita murder rate is two and a half times ours (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate).

    "In any case, nobody is arguing that gun control laws would stop all gun crime, or perhaps even a significant amount of gun crime. The idea is NOT HAVING SO MANY FUCKING MASS SHOOTINGS."
    As discussed above, a) Mass shootings, while an emotional topic, are statistically almost insignificant. The real issue of gun violence is common criminal use of guns. Mass shootings have much more to do with the sorry state of mental health care than they do with whether or not the magazine I can buy holds 10 or 20 rounds; b) even if mass shootings were tied to the availability of certain types of weapons, there's no reason to believe that prohibiting those weapon types would be any more effective than prohibiting marijuana; c) Even if it were, people could still use other weapons, as discussed above in the case of Charles Whitman.

    "And please don't try to use poor Switzerland as an example unless you are going to advocate gun registration and licensing as they do in that country."
    That's why I mentioned their gun laws as "moderately liberal." Registration is necessary, but at the same time fully-automatic and other military weapons are perfectly legal for private civilians to own.

    "The thing is though, we're concerned with stopping first and foremost a particular type of crime- the mass shooting spree."
    Again, there's no evidence that gun control would actually do that. It's simply a default emotional response taken as fact without support by people generally inclined to gun control in the first place.

    "The lack of guns in Russia has not pushed ordinary thugs to rob little stores with knives."
    No, it's pushed ordinary thugs to buy black market guns from other ordinary thugs, which is why their homicide rate is still ridiculously high.

    "Furthermore, the claim about ending the war on drugs is ridiculous; drugs tend to kill only the user, if at all."
    Yes, but the people involved in the manufacture and sale of drugs tend to kill a lot of people.

  • It's interesting to me that the above two arguments are rarely applied to any right besides the right to bear arms. Speech can be used for illegitimate purposes–to incite riots or coups, to exhort one person to harm another, to convince some racist asshole that "action needs to be taken." Should we license free speech, and force all adults to register any speech they make with the government? Perhaps allow no more than one political statement per month, or maybe set up a permit system to allow people to speak in public?

    As for the technology argument, does the First Amendment apply only to single-page, text-only printing presses and unamplified voice?

    BWA-HAHAHA.

    Oh, excuse me, I guess I should explain. False analogy. We already have restrictions on "free speech," the most obvious ones being restrictions against libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation). There is an entire federal agency devoted to the regulation of speech on the nation's airwaves–the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates such mundane things as how much cussing goes on and how much skin is shown during prime time viewing hours (although one must admit that these regulations are outdated with the advent of cable and Internet). The MPAA puts ratings on movies which affects who can see what movie; I never tried to sneak into R movies when I was a kid, but my understanding is that movies are clamping down on underage moviegoers these days. Most theaters won't show movies that get the dreaded X or NC-17 ratings at all. There are permit systems in place which are required for gatherings larger than a certain minimum number of people, which is supposed to be in the name of public safety, and officials are prohibiting people from the use of speaking devices such as bullhorns (see the Occupy movements). Sexual and racial harassment can be disallowed under certain circumstances, and a "hate crime" element can be tacked on to crimes committed for intimidation purposes. Commercial speech is regulated. Years ago, Papa John's got into a snit with another pizza chain over their "better ingredients, better pizza" slogan and it went to court. The Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration will regulate companies over the claims they make on the products they sell, and the FDA forces companies making vitamin supplements to include the disclaimer which says that statements regarding vitamins have not been evaluated and that the products are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. The surgeon general's office forces tobacco companies to put the infamous disclaimer regarding various cancers of the lungs, throat and mouth on all cigarette packages. Most recently, there are new regulations on bloggers; if you look at many twitter feeds belonging to celebrities, they will include *(ad)* with many of their tweets. That's because they are required to do so, to make it clear that they are endorsing products for advertising purposes.

    All of this tl;dr is by way of saying that "free speech" isn't quite as free as the First Amendment and junior high school history classes make it out to be. It is regulated, and it is regulated in ways which might surprise the average citizen.

  • "Clearly you're unfamiliar with the concept of reductio ad absurdum. We have laws against harming people (e.g. shooting them)."

    I am also familiar with the concept of hyperbole.

    "Having laws against things that are not in and of themselves harmful to others (e.g. possession of a semi-auto rifle with a pistol grip, smoking the reefer, or drinking) is generally unnecessary and unsuccessful at best, and at worst leads to the criminal control of whatever object has been prohibited (see also: Prohibition)."

    Having a car is not in itself harmful to others, but we regulate the ownership and operation of cars.

    "(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate)."

    1. Russia is between an industrialized and developing country these days.

    2. Russia has this place called the Caucasus, where law enforcement is a joke.

    3. Russia has a level of corruption on par with several African nations, the US does not.

    4. High homicide does not entail high gun crime. The idea is not that guns cause crime, but that regulating the use and purchase of guns lowers gun crime.

    "As discussed above, a) Mass shootings, while an emotional topic, are statistically almost insignificant."

    They are, but they are particularly unpleasant and unlike many other types of crimes, quite preventable.

    " Mass shootings have much more to do with the sorry state of mental health care than they do with whether or not the magazine I can buy holds 10 or 20 rounds; b) even if mass shootings were tied to the availability of certain types of weapons, there's no reason to believe that prohibiting those weapon types would be any more effective than prohibiting marijuana;"

    This is ridiculous. If high capacity magazines don't facilitate killing, why does the military bother issuing 30 round mags? I'm sorry but it IS easier to kill more people if you can put more rounds down range without reloading.

    "That's why I mentioned their gun laws as "moderately liberal." Registration is necessary, but at the same time fully-automatic and other military weapons are perfectly legal for private civilians to own."

    No, they are not perfectly legal. The military weapons are ISSUED, not bought. Unless you plan to advocate the actual Swiss laws, don't invoke Switzerland. Are you prepared to advocate for these regulations?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland#Buying_guns

    "Again, there's no evidence that gun control would actually do that. It's simply a default emotional response taken as fact without support by people generally inclined to gun control in the first place."

    Except the very obvious fact that countries which restrict such ownership typically don't experience so many mass shootings.

    "No, it's pushed ordinary thugs to buy black market guns from other ordinary thugs, which is why their homicide rate is still ridiculously high."

    You can't buy guns from "ordinary thugs" in Russia. While I'm impressed by your Wiki-scholarship I've been living in Russia for six years now and I haven't heard a single shot fired in anger. Can't say the same for my city back in the US.

    "Yes, but the people involved in the manufacture and sale of drugs tend to kill a lot of people."

    1. Not if drug use were legalized.

    2. What do those people use to kill a lot of people?

  • Yes, it's regulated (although some of the examples you list, such as ratings, are not legally binding), as are firearms–the BATFE monitors sellers, records transactions, gives answers to background checks. Laws are enforced against felons and other restricted persons in possession of guns by the local police. In most places a concealed carry permit requires the approval of BCI or a similar state agency. Et cetera. My point is that I'd be hard pressed to find someone on this blog who would argue that free speech protections don't apply to, say, photographs, simply because they weren't around when the Founders were. Or maybe you're all in favor of laws preventing citizens from filming police?

  • Nick, when you pointed out that gun regulation is just a diversionary band-aid solution for the effects of the WoD, poor economic prospects, poor education etc. on that you are assuredly correct.

    The reason that Switzerland allows for "private" citizens to "own" assault rifles is simple: Every Swiss citizen is a member of the Swiss Defence forces. From the time you turn 18 until you're 50s or 60s you spend time every year doing training. You have four choices: show up annually for your training, pay a very large fine, go to jail, or get the hell out of the country and never come back.

    I know people who became ex-pats, and as they were too far away and couldn't afford to return for their service they didn't go. They figured I'm out of the country, so why pay the fine and as they're not there they can't go to jail so they didn't pay the fine. Then when they decided to return for a visit, they found their passport revoked, were refused entry to the country or threatened with arrest.

    The common Swiss is not "common", but a member of the Reserves ready to be called up when the need arises. Which probably makes them the most heavily militarised nation in Europe and probably second to Israel in the world. That automatic weapon is "military issue" because it is military issue. Wouldn't it be rather silly to have a National Service and your militia wasn't ready for a fight? They are drilled and trained in the use of that weapon annually. So Switzerland is always a false equivalency when comparing gun laws.

    As for the Russian States, you're comparing carrots to candy bars here.

    Arslan can probably give you a far better lay of the land for the situation in the Russian Federated States. In a nut shell, most of the country(ies?) is rather lawless as many functions of effective government services (i.e. police) went with old regime. Also many parts of the country have been undergoing a rebellious uprising (Chechnya), which will skew any form of statistics on "gun violence" if not properly calculated for.
    Sorry Arslan I know I haven't given the situation there it's true merits, but feel free to correct my inaccuracies.

    Let's not even include South Africa (let alone the rest of the continent) in this argument.

    So let's look at how the US stacks up against similar developed industrialised countries on the issue shall we?

    Australia has very tight gun control and that got even tighter after Bryant set the previous record for single person killer. Unless one is involved in crime somewhere, either as a crim or as a cop, odds are very low that you're going to be a victim of gun violence. That weapon needs to remain locked in the police house at the end of the shift. I still have no understanding as to why the average Australian beat cop carries. To get a gun licence, good luck. I feel a hell of a lot safer for it.
    We had a shooting a couple of years back in the next suburb over. It was a purposeful hit. To listen to the news, one would think that the Western Suburbs of Sydney were Baghdad, but that's the news. The drive-bys are drug related and as I'm not involved in the drug trade, I think I'm relatively safe. Could I still get mugged with a knife? Yeah! Could I still get shot? The possibility is slim to none.

  • You're correct that every Swiss citizen is military-trained, but if guns were the problem, that wouldn't prevent them from committing crimes or going on shooting sprees–after all, the guy in Wisconsin was ex-military as well. The real difference is that Switzerland doesn't have the sort of social ills that the states has.

    As for Australia, you're acting as though the low likelihood of getting shot is due to the gun laws that were changed following the Port Arthur massacre. In reality, the number of murder victims of all types in Australia–regardless of weapon used–is much lower (the highest number of murder victims in one year in Australia, at least in the last couple decades, was 344 in 1999, which is just over 1/3 of the number of people we had killed by strangulation in 2008); per capita, our overall homicide rate is about 4.7 times theirs; in 2007, we had more murders per capita committed by all non-gun means than Australia had committed by all means including firearms, and on numbers alone we had more killings by blunt object than you had total by all means. (see http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.aspx and http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004888.html).

    This isn't an issue of guns–or knives, or blunt objects. It's an issue of neglect and abuse and ridiculous laws and the fact that we share a border with the most crime-stricken nation in the Western Hemisphere and possibly the world. These aren't things that can be fixed by waiting periods or magazine restrictions. "Band aid" isn't even the right term, as a band aid will stop the bleeding at least to some degree. Gun control is more like a healing spell–people are convinced it'll work and it makes them feel better about things, but it won't actually have any tangible effect.

  • Also, I seem to have missed Arslan's last post.

    "Having a car is not in itself harmful to others, but we regulate the ownership and operation of cars."
    Operation in public, yes. Possession and operation on private property, no. If I own a pickup truck and drive it around on my farm, it doesn't need to be registered and I can have my 16-year-old kid drive it. The correct analogy here is weapon ownership versus car ownership, and drivers' licensing versus concealed carry permits.

    "1. Russia is between an industrialized and developing country these days.
    2. Russia has this place called the Caucasus, where law enforcement is a joke.
    3. Russia has a level of corruption on par with several African nations, the US does not."
    So in other words, violent crime has little to do with weapons laws and much more to do with socioeconomic factors. Glad we agree.

    "4. High homicide does not entail high gun crime. The idea is not that guns cause crime, but that regulating the use and purchase of guns lowers gun crime."
    Oh good, so people get stabbed instead of shot. I'm sure the families of the murder victims feel much better about that.

    "They are, but they are particularly unpleasant and unlike many other types of crimes, quite preventable."
    We agree on this, we just disagree on how they can be prevented.

    "This is ridiculous. If high capacity magazines don't facilitate killing, why does the military bother issuing 30 round mags? I'm sorry but it IS easier to kill more people if you can put more rounds down range without reloading."
    Because the military has a need for things like suppressing fire. However, semi-auto is generally more useful when actually shooting at a single target. In some cases (particularly the M-14, which had high recoil in full-auto) the military has actually disabled the full-auto function of issued rifles.

    "No, they are not perfectly legal. The military weapons are ISSUED, not bought. Unless you plan to advocate the actual Swiss laws, don't invoke Switzerland. Are you prepared to advocate for these regulations?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland#Buying_guns"

    That link says that "The purchase of [fully automatic weapons, suppressors, etc] is however legal with a special permit issued by cantonal police. The issuance of such a permit requires additional requirements to be met, e.g. the possession of a specific gun locker." As I said before, I invoked Switzerland as an example of a country with less restrictive gun laws than many European countries, and low gun crime. Further, whether the guns are issued or purchased, their possession should lead to mass shootings and high gun crime if the availability of weapons is in fact the causal factor of gun violence.

    "Except the very obvious fact that countries which restrict such ownership typically don't experience so many mass shootings."
    Correlation != causation. Despite high gun crime in South Africa (indicating that weapons are largely available to the criminal element), mass shootings are rare. The issue is cultural and social, not legal.

    "You can't buy guns from "ordinary thugs" in Russia. While I'm impressed by your Wiki-scholarship I've been living in Russia for six years now and I haven't heard a single shot fired in anger. Can't say the same for my city back in the US."
    Fair enough, so people just get stabbed a bunch. Again, I'm not sure how that's better.

    "Not if drug use were legalized."

    Agreed. So why not legalize drug use, instead of worrying about whether people who aren't selling drugs can buy guns?

    "What do those people use to kill a lot of people?"
    Generally speaking, firearms that are obtained and possessed illegally, meaning that whether or not I can buy a gun at a store makes no difference whatsoever to a criminal's ability to obtain a weapon.

  • I'm all for citizens being able to film police and military actions. However, I am vehemently against child porn. And the laws against such material is an area where photographs get regulated.

  • That to me is the equivalent of not allowing felons to possess firearms. But we don't require permits and registration for cameras because child pornographers exist.

  • "Operation in public, yes. Possession and operation on private property, no. If I own a pickup truck and drive it around on my farm, it doesn't need to be registered and I can have my 16-year-old kid drive it. The correct analogy here is weapon ownership versus car ownership, and drivers' licensing versus concealed carry permits."

    First, guns are already regulated on private property as well. You aren't allowed to keep certain weapons even if they are on private property, and you aren't allowed to discharge a weapon within usually 1/4 mile of a residential area. Moreover, when you're talking about concealed carry that is operation IN PUBLIC. Please don't talk to me about "correct analogies."

    "Oh good, so people get stabbed instead of shot. I'm sure the families of the murder victims feel much better about that."

    I think you still don't understand what's going on. What happens is a lot of people get shot in and around places like Dagestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia, where there is very little law enforcement at all. There are also bandits, insurgents, and this institution known as the blood feud. Tell me, what significant portion of the US public engages in blood feuds?

    "Because the military has a need for things like suppressing fire. "

    Yup, and civilians don't.

    "However, semi-auto is generally more useful when actually shooting at a single target. In some cases (particularly the M-14, which had high recoil in full-auto) the military has actually disabled the full-auto function of issued rifles."

    Thank you, I went through BRM.

    "That link says that "The purchase of [fully automatic weapons, suppressors, etc] is however legal with a special permit issued by cantonal police. The issuance of such a permit requires additional requirements to be met, e.g. the possession of a specific gun locker." As I said before, I invoked Switzerland as an example of a country with less restrictive gun laws than many European countries, and low gun crime."

    Less than many European countries, true. BUT ARE YOU ADVOCATING THE ADOPTION OF SUCH LAWS IN THE US? Also, were you aware that Switzerland is a very small country with a very high standard of living and GDP?

    "Except the very obvious fact that countries which restrict such ownership typically don't experience so many mass shootings."
    Correlation != causation. Despite high gun crime in South Africa (indicating that weapons are largely available to the criminal element), mass shootings are rare. The issue is cultural and social, not legal."

    It doesn't matter what the culture is. If Billy Bob can't get a permit to buy a semi-auto WASR 7.62x39mm, he can't shoot a lot of people with that weapon. Sure, maybe he'll snipe people with an old Turkish Mauser, but he's not going to have better firepower.

    "Fair enough, so people just get stabbed a bunch. Again, I'm not sure how that's better."

    1. Nobody I have ever known here has been robbed violently, nor have they known anybody who has ever been stabbed or even threatened with a knife. Actually I have been threatened by a knife(though the guy never showed it and actually passed out), but that's it. You also have to understand that Russia has very poor laws when it comes to things like self-defense. The famous case was a woman who had been raped by a taxi driver so she started carrying a kitchen knife for self-defense. One night another taxi driver tried to assault her and she stabbed him to death. She was charged with murder.

    So in this case you also have to take into account how many crimes were classified as "homicide" whereas we might call them manslaughter or something else in the US.

    Also, a great deal of homicides have been committed by thugs who beat immigrants to death. Apparently you think they should have guns. And before you even try, keep in mind that the immigrants themselves would not be able to get guns as they would be too expensive.

    "Agreed. So why not legalize drug use, instead of worrying about whether people who aren't selling drugs can buy guns?"

    If we legalized drugs, we'd still regulate them. Why not regulate guns?

    "Generally speaking, firearms that are obtained and possessed illegally, meaning that whether or not I can buy a gun at a store makes no difference whatsoever to a criminal's ability to obtain a weapon."

    Again, bullshit. Buy weapons on the black market isn't as easy as you think. In many countries it usually requires some connections, and again you have to think REAL carefully about buying a gun, much less using it, because the consequences of getting caught with it are severe. Also, police in Russia are often armed with AKS74U's, and if they are told they are dealing with an armed suspect, they're most likely going to shoot first and ask questions later.

  • "First, guns are already regulated on private property as well. You aren't allowed to keep certain weapons even if they are on private property, and you aren't allowed to discharge a weapon within usually 1/4 mile of a residential area."

    Just like you're not allowed to own a non-decommissioned tank even if you never drive it to work, yes. It doesn't change the broader point.

    "Moreover, when you're talking about concealed carry that is operation IN PUBLIC."

    Which is exactly my point. A concealed carry permit is the firearm equivalent of a driver's license.

    "Tell me, what significant portion of the US public engages in blood feuds?"

    Replace "blood feud" with "gang feud" and you have the same idea, with the same result.

    "BUT ARE YOU ADVOCATING THE ADOPTION OF SUCH LAWS IN THE US?"

    For the third time now, no. Simply making the point that differences in gun laws and gun ownership do not indicate a corresponding difference in the level of gun violence.

    "Also, were you aware that Switzerland is a very small country with a very high standard of living and GDP?"

    So maybe we ought to focus on bringing up the average standard of living, since that seems to be the real issue here.

    "It doesn't matter what the culture is. If Billy Bob can't get a permit to buy a semi-auto WASR 7.62x39mm, he can't shoot a lot of people with that weapon. Sure, maybe he'll snipe people with an old Turkish Mauser, but he's not going to have better firepower."

    Again, you're making the assumption that gun control actually keeps guns out of the hands of people who will misuse them. Read a newspaper and see how many stories come up that involve the phrase "charged with possession of a weapon by a felon/restricted person" and tell me again how telling people they can't have something keeps them from having it.

    " Nobody I have ever known here has been robbed violently, nor have they known anybody who has ever been stabbed or even threatened with a knife. Actually I have been threatened by a knife(though the guy never showed it and actually passed out), but that's it."

    And I've never been robbed violently or shot/threatened with a gun, despite living in a state where over 50% of the population owns at least one gun and where carry permits are easy to obtain. Both of our anecdotal personal experiences are irrelevant to the larger issue.

    "The famous case was a woman who had been raped by a taxi driver so she started carrying a kitchen knife for self-defense. One night another taxi driver tried to assault her and she stabbed him to death. She was charged with murder."

    That's certainly fucked up. However, part of the right to self-defense is the right to an effective means of self-defense. While weapons besides guns can be used, none are as effective and reliable as a gun, and few allow any distance between a victim and their attacker.

    "Also, a great deal of homicides have been committed by thugs who beat immigrants to death. Apparently you think they should have guns."

    As I've stated before, I support harsh penalties for criminals found to be in possession of weapons. Stop making straw man attacks.

    "And before you even try, keep in mind that the immigrants themselves would not be able to get guns as they would be too expensive."

    So we should add to that a probably expensive licensing and registration process and restrict low-cost firearms (by referring to them as "Saturday Night Specials" until everyone's scared that those poor folks might have guns)?

    "If we legalized drugs, we'd still regulate them. Why not regulate guns?"

    We do. Don't be obtuse.

    "Buy weapons on the black market isn't as easy as you think."

    I'm not sure of the situation in Russia, but here's it's not as difficult as you seem to think. You can't necessarily walk up and go "hey I want a gun" (though that might work on occasion), but if you're a regular customer or associate of a drug dealer and ask him where you can get a gun, you can find one without much trouble.

    "you have to think REAL carefully about buying a gun, much less using it, because the consequences of getting caught with it are severe."

    Again, I'm fine with harsh penalties when it comes to illegal use or possession of guns. I just don't believe that I should be subject to penalties for owning something I use to put holes in paper.

    "Also, police in Russia are often armed with AKS74U's, and if they are told they are dealing with an armed suspect, they're most likely going to shoot first and ask questions later."

    Police here shoot first and ask questions later even if they don't have much reason to believe the suspect is armed. What's your point?

  • It seems to me that we can agree that guns are things which should be regulated to some extent, and where we disagree is the extent to which they should be regulated.

  • "Which is exactly my point. A concealed carry permit is the firearm equivalent of a driver's license."

    Any you can't drive a tank, nor can you conceal an AR-15. So now we're almost in agreement.

    "Replace "blood feud" with "gang feud" and you have the same idea, with the same result."

    You need to look up what a blood feud is. The responsibility to preserve the family honor is incumbent on ALL members of the society in question, not just people in gangs. This is why historically, blood feuds have actually had massive economic effects on populations.

    "For the third time now, no. Simply making the point that differences in gun laws and gun ownership do not indicate a corresponding difference in the level of gun violence."

    Unless you advocate Swiss-style laws, do not use Switzerland as an example.

    "So maybe we ought to focus on bringing up the average standard of living, since that seems to be the real issue here."

    It is a major issue, but what determined that it is the "real issue?"

    "Again, you're making the assumption that gun control actually keeps guns out of the hands of people who will misuse them. Read a newspaper and see how many stories come up that involve the phrase "charged with possession of a weapon by a felon/restricted person" and tell me again how telling people they can't have something keeps them from having it."

    How many newspapers in Germany, or Switzerland, read that way? Again, it's "laws don't work so might as well not make new laws." And if I point out that even corrupt countries like Russia manage to keep guns out of the hands of most people, you'll just claim that all the "bad people"(because bad people are always bad) just switch to knives.

    "And I've never been robbed violently or shot/threatened with a gun, despite living in a state where over 50% of the population owns at least one gun and where carry permits are easy to obtain. Both of our anecdotal personal experiences are irrelevant to the larger issue."

    The larger issue is that your claims about Russia are simply incorrect.

    "That's certainly fucked up. However, part of the right to self-defense is the right to an effective means of self-defense. While weapons besides guns can be used, none are as effective and reliable as a gun, and few allow any distance between a victim and their attacker."

    I was making a point about how homicide numbers in Russia can be skewed.

    "So we should add to that a probably expensive licensing and registration process and restrict low-cost firearms (by referring to them as "Saturday Night Specials" until everyone's scared that those poor folks might have guns)?"

    Again, you cite other countries with liberal gun laws, when they are stricter than those of the US, but then you reveal that you are basically in favor of no regulations and laws.

    "We do. Don't be obtuse."

    Ok, then why not more?

    "I'm not sure of the situation in Russia, but here's it's not as difficult as you seem to think. You can't necessarily walk up and go "hey I want a gun" (though that might work on occasion), but if you're a regular customer or associate of a drug dealer and ask him where you can get a gun, you can find one without much trouble."

    YES, BECAUSE THE US HAS REALLY LIBERAL GUN LAWS, THAT'S WHY. If you changed them to those of Switzerland, it wouldn't be so easy.

  • "This is why historically, blood feuds have actually had massive economic effects on populations."

    Blood feuds are a terrible situation, undoubtedly. But again, the question is whether or not gun control will reduce homicides. Whether the cultural ill is blood feuds or gang wars, the results are what matters.

    "Unless you advocate Swiss-style laws, do not use Switzerland as an example."

    You're trying really hard to deliberately miss my point here, so I'll try one more time, slowly and carefully. Your belief is that firearms in the hands of the average citizen lead to things like mass shootings. Unless you can explain to me how Swiss laws like licensing and registration prevents some crazy racist ex-military guy (who would have had a fully automatic weapon in his home had he been Swiss) from shooting a bunch of people at a church he doesn't like, Switzerland provides an example of a well-armed populace largely free of mass shootings. Whether or not I advocate their laws is irrelevant, unless, again, you can explain why licensing makes the difference.

    "It is a major issue, but what determined that it is the 'real issue?'"

    The fact that places with different gun laws have crime rates that are higher or lower independent of the strictness of those laws, and that in all cases can be linked to the economic and social factors found in those places.

    "How many newspapers in Germany, or Switzerland, read that way?"

    Not many. How many drug gangs and how much concentrated poverty do they have in Germany and Switzerland?

    "Again, it's 'laws don't work so might as well not make new laws.'"

    No, it's "gun laws don't work, so we might as well enforce harsh penalties for breaking the laws we have now, and then move on to solutions that might actually work instead of beating our head against the wall and wondering why people are still shooting each other even though we've banned 15 round magazines."

    "And if I point out that even corrupt countries like Russia manage to keep guns out of the hands of most people, you'll just claim that all the "bad people"(because bad people are always bad) just switch to knives."

    That's not "my claim," that's borne out by Russia's high homicide rate. I have yet to hear how getting stabbed or beaten to death is more acceptable than being shot.

    "The larger issue is that your claims about Russia are simply incorrect."

    The larger issue is that there are safe and dangerous places in both Russia and the US, irrespective of their gun laws. So maybe both countries should tackle what actually makes those places dangerous, instead of blaming non-criminals purchasing inanimate objects.

    "I was making a point about how homicide numbers in Russia can be skewed."

    Slightly skewed, perhaps. But are you really going to claim that Russia doesn't have a lot of murders, based on the fact that you personally haven't been stabbed?

    "Again, you cite other countries with liberal gun laws, when they are stricter than those of the US, but then you reveal that you are basically in favor of no regulations and laws."

    See above. If private gun ownership is the causal factor in gun crime, then registration would be irrelevant. More people might be caught after committing a crime were all guns registered (which, BTW, would likely be impossible here considering there are hundreds of millions of legally owned and who knows how many illegally owned firearms already in circulation) but they wouldn't prevent someone from committing a shooting in the first place.

    "Ok, then why not more?"

    Because it DOESN'T WORK. The CDC could find no evidence that any gun law anywhere in the country worked to reduce crime. Crime rates rise and fall irrespective of gun laws. Through all of this discussion, you still have yet to provide an example of an effective gun control law–and no, "Most murders in Russia are just people beating immigrants to death" does not count as providing an example of a gun control law that's worked. Show me an instance where gun control demonstrably reduced gun crime or homicide levels. Show me one single time that gun homicide rates fell after the enactment of gun laws, with all other crime remaining the same (in other words, only gun crime went down). Just one would be great. Thanks.

    "YES, BECAUSE THE US HAS REALLY LIBERAL GUN LAWS, THAT'S WHY. If you changed them to those of Switzerland, it wouldn't be so easy."

    It would if Switzerland had massive drug gangs, huge smuggling operations from an incredibly violent country on their border, and poverty on a shameful scale in its inner cities.

  • mel in oregon says:

    the NRA doesn't represent hunters or the dumb bunny in his pickup with a stupid bumper sticker. they represent gun sellers period. the second amendment is not as important as people's right to not be murdered by some evil white shithead. but the american people don't really give a damn, if they did they would riot & get these godamned stupid laws changed. don't forget too, that some of the biggest victims of police brutality during occupy movements were veterans of iraq & afghanistan.

  • "It's interesting to me that the above two arguments are rarely applied to any right besides the right to bear arms. Speech can be used for illegitimate purposes–to incite riots or coups, to exhort one person to harm another, to convince some racist asshole that "action needs to be taken.""

    Certain kinds of speech are already controlled. Death threats, for example.

    The argument is not whether action needs be taken. There's always a line where it needs to be taken – sometimes that line can be very permissive (Speech), while other times that line can be more restrictive (Fertilizer purchases). People are arguing that the line for gun ownership needs to be moved, not created.

  • So, asking why there's no outcry for Speech Licenses is a non-sequitur. It's not whether the thing can be misused, it's whether the consequences of misuse are too terrible and range of legitimate uses narrow enough to warrant action.

  • It seems worthwhile to point out that there are already restrictions on your right to bar arms. No Gatling Guns. No grenades. No land mines. No Tomahawk missiles. So on and so forth.

    It seems quite clear that limits can be placed on the right to bear arms that do not appear to appreciably reduce the freedom granted by the second amendment – unless you'd like to argue that any private citizen can and should be able to purchase any and all weaponry that exists, up to nuclear arms? If not, why is *your* proposed restriction perfectly all right, but any other proposed restriction (say, making bulk ammo purchases harder to do, and perhaps limiting the capacity of magazines) is completely out of the question?

  • "Certain kinds of speech are already controlled. Death threats, for example."

    True, but we view those as exceptions to the general rule that speech should be unrestricted, rather than as reasons to prevent people from speaking in the first place.

    "If not, why is *your* proposed restriction perfectly all right, but any other proposed restriction (say, making bulk ammo purchases harder to do, and perhaps limiting the capacity of magazines) is completely out of the question?"

    I'm alright with limiting access to weapons that require special training to use–although I think people who have served in the armed forces, for instance, ought to have less restricted access; in that way I do like what Switzerland does. But the idea behind the Second Amendment is that the people have the ability–not just the right, but the means–to resist government tyranny. Now, I'm not one of those "ZOMG THE GUMMITS COMIN FER MAH GUNS CUZ OBUMMERS A COMMIE" types living in a compound, but a quick look at history shows that every empire, and eventually every republic, either disappears or changes drastically, and it's not unreasonable to assume that the same will eventually happen here, although probably not in our lifetime. Because of that, I think preserving the means of resistance is a worthy goal.

  • "True, but we view those as exceptions to the general rule that speech should be unrestricted, rather than as reasons to prevent people from speaking in the first place."

    And likewise for guns. I can't think that a restriction on high-capacity magazines is a challenge to the general rule of gun-ownership.

    "I'm alright with limiting access to weapons that require special training to use"

    *All* guns require training to use. What, in this case, is the definition of "special" training, other than "training you wouldn't normally have because the weapon in question is already banned"?

    "Because of that, I think preserving the means of resistance is a worthy goal."

    The citizenry have already been denied any means of resistance to an armed force. Lacking the ability to purchase land mines, grenades and other explosives and rocket-based systems, I can already tell you the all the AR-15s in the world will not provide enough armed resistance to someone attempting to topple your Empire. You have no air force. No navy. You armed citizenry, unlike that of Switzerland, has no training as a militia nor as an defensive force meant to coordinate with the military in case of an attack. Arguing that the unrestricted sale of rifles and handguns and ammo for them is some defense against a determined threat to your country (from within or without) is sheer, unadulterated hubris.

  • Mow, it may do a lot to bolster your morale via National Myth, so I guess there's that, but seriously: If an invading force managed to secure a landing zone against the full might of the U.S. military, I think they are more than prepared enough to fight off any assaults coming from the .22-calibur crowd.

    If the invading force *was* the U.S. military, I suspect you'd stand even less chance.

  • "And likewise for guns. I can't think that a restriction on high-capacity magazines is a challenge to the general rule of gun-ownership."

    I think the criteria ought to be: Does this restriction demonstrably reduce a harm while not infringing the right to a degree greater than the harm which it prevents? In the case of background checks or mental health reporting, the answer is yes. In the case of magazine restrictions, which haven't been shown to have any sort of effectiveness, the answer is no.

    "*All* guns require training to use. What, in this case, is the definition of "special" training, other than "training you wouldn't normally have because the weapon in question is already banned"?"

    "Special training" being defined here as "training you can't get at a normal civilian gun range." I can learn to shoot a handgun or a rifle or a shotgun at a range; I can't learn to use a grenade launcher or a tank.

    Re: Government resistance, two main points. First, insurgencies have managed some success even when horrendously overpowered, particularly if they manage to survive long enough to find outside allies, and particularly in spread-out, hostile terrain (a la Afghanistan, or large swathes of America between the coasts). The goal of insurgency is not to defeat the invader/usurper by strength of arms, it's to hurt them enough that they go "fuck this" and leave. That can be done with small arms and improvised explosives.

    Second, in any scenario in which the Second Amendment as intended would come into play, there would be additional factors. If an invading force is the scenario, undoubtedly elements of the US military would survive and engage in guerrilla warfare following the defeat of the main force; this would contribute to training and knowledge among the insurgency as a whole. If we're discussing a military coup or similar domestic threat, the military would very likely be divided and weakened, suffering a great deal of desertion and fracturing among troops, which would level the playing field somewhat.

    Again, I have no visions of me and my redneck buddies sitting in our compound with AR15s and defeating the onslaught of the United States military. It's insurance against a (hopefully) distant future.

  • "I think the criteria ought to be: Does this restriction demonstrably reduce a harm while not infringing the right to a degree greater than the harm which it prevents?"

    And yes, I think it's pretty obvious that restricting the purchase of and tracking high-capacity magazine purchases would meet that criteria.

  • "Again, I have no visions of me and my redneck buddies sitting in our compound with AR15s and defeating the onslaught of the United States military. It's insurance against a (hopefully) distant future."

    What, when your descendants are going to be defending themselves against orbital bombardments? Robot overlords?

    Or are you trying to ensure you have the most guns left after the world regresses to the stone age post-WWVII?

    I don't see how this nebulous concept of "insurance" is at all a weighable factor against the clear and present harm being enabled by easy access to high-capacity magazines and the ammo to fill bucketloads of them. It's clear that if, say, Loughner had to reload more often, his death count would be lower – he was caught *while he was reloading* and tackled to the ground. Not fought off by other gun-bearing citizens – tackled physically.

  • ""Special training" being defined here as "training you can't get at a normal civilian gun range." I can learn to shoot a handgun or a rifle or a shotgun at a range; I can't learn to use a grenade launcher or a tank."

    Exactly what I said. It's not special training. It's just training you won't get because the weapons aren't able to be owned by you. Under this rubric, if rifles were restricted, the training to use on would "special training".

  • "And yes, I think it's pretty obvious that restricting the purchase of and tracking high-capacity magazine purchases would meet that criteria."

    Obvious according to whom? Can you actually show that restricting high capacity magazines keeps people from getting shot?

    "What, when your descendants are going to be defending themselves against orbital bombardments? Robot overlords?"

    I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

    "It's clear that if, say, Loughner had to reload more often, his death count would be lower – he was caught *while he was reloading* and tackled to the ground."

    Actually, that's not clear at all. He was tackled while reloading, because he was having trouble getting the high-capacity magazine into the gun. Standard-sized magazines are much easier to load, because they don't stick way out of the bottom like the 30-rounders. A trained shooter can reload a standard-sized handgun magazine in under a second; if he weren't fiddling with a long stick mag, he may well have been reloaded before anyone could get to him.

    "Not fought off by other gun-bearing citizens – tackled physically."

    At least one of the people who went for him was actually carrying a gun, and decided not to use it because of the crowd. Carrying a gun isn't an end-all solution, it's another tool in the toolbox. In some instances it's the right one to use, in others it's the wrong one; the fact that it was the wrong one in this instance doesn't delegitimize times where it's been the right one.

    "Exactly what I said. It's not special training. It's just training you won't get because the weapons aren't able to be owned by you. Under this rubric, if rifles were restricted, the training to use on would 'special training'."

    So, are you in favor of a full on ban? The skills used with my single-shot .22 are exactly the same as those used with my semi-auto "assault" rifle, so if special training is your rubric, it's pretty much all or nothing on small arms. And if you are in favor of a full ban, how exactly do you propose it be implemented, and how successful do you think it would be considering the number of guns and gun owners already extant in this country?

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