Boy, the internet is just buzzing with Responsible gun owners letting everyone know how unfair it is to "punish" them for the actions of a Few Bad Apples. Lately I find it quite interesting to press a little on this issue of responsible ownership. Rarely are more than a few questions necessary to reveal that most individuals' conception of Responsible Gun Ownership means that they have never murdered anyone with their gun. While commendable, I'm not sure that alone qualifies.

I may have forgotten a lot since the last time I fired a gun (about two weeks ago, at a range) so I consulted an owner's manual (2010) from Smith & Wesson. As I recalled, the manual contains a very clear list of precautions to take with one's firearm to use them in a safe and responsible manner. The next time you encounter one of the internet's apparent millions of Responsible gun owners, try out some of the following.

1. Is your gun kept in a locked safe? Failing that, is it locked in a case? Or is it in your closet, in a drawer, under the bed, or lying on a table? A cabinet with a glass door that a 10 year old could break is not a safe.

2. Is your ammunition kept in a separate location, away from the firearm? Or is it in a box next to or under it? Or is there a loaded magazine right there? Or is it just flat-out loaded?

3. Is a trigger lock installed? This is required by law in some places and recommended by all manufacturers regardless.

4. If you have no safe and your house was burglarized, would your gun(s) be difficult to find? Or have you "hidden" it where a complete moron could find it (under the bed, in the bedroom closet, etc.)?

5. Have you ever fired your gun in an unsafe manner – in the air, indoors other than at a range, or without being fully aware of your background (i.e. in the dark, in the woods, etc.)?

6. Have you ever fired overpowered or hand-loaded ammunition beyond the manufacturer's specifications for safe operation of your gun?

7. Do you use hearing and eye protection at all times? Do you insist that others in your party do so as well before you fire?

8. When outdoors, have you ever fired intentionally at something that could cause a ricochet (a rock, the ground, etc)?

Some of these things fall into the "Only a Total Moron Would…" category, yet I'd be willing to bet that more than a few self-proclaimed Responsible owners have flouted some of these rules. Oh, they'll have lots of excuses posing as reasons – I'm experienced, I live alone, I know not to blah blah blah – but what they really mean when they call themselves responsible is, "I have never walked into a school with my gun and used it to murder children." This is certainly a key part of responsible ownership, but the bar is set a tad higher. The data would be impossible to collect, but I'm sure that we could find plenty of Very Responsible people with loaded guns laying in a closet or dresser drawer. You know, real responsible-like.


  • It seems to me that "responsible gun ownership" is an important issue that is utterly irrelevant to what happened in Newtown. And in Aurora. And at Virginia Tech. "Responsible gun ownership" would be relevant if there had been anything accidental or inadvertent about these events. There was not. Those who used the guns that killed so many at those places, used them exactly as they were designed to be used: to fire projectiles into the bodies of human beings, causing great and often lethal damage. That's what such guns are designed to do–indeed, it is the range-going hobbyist who is using the gun for something other than its intent, just as the man who plays the spoons is using them for something other than theirs–I do not denigrate or judge either individual, nor would I take either instrument away.

    Bringing up the issue of gun safety as a response to Newtown is pointless. Most gun owners are, I suspect, very much on the "responsible" side of the spectrum. (Were they not, the deadly nature of failing to be responsible would, I suspect, thin that herd soon enough.) Indeed, there's a hilarious component to all this: I suspect that most gun owners think of a gun as something that is only dangerous when it's misused.

    Because I also suspect that most gun owners–while they know intellectually that the device they enjoy is theoretically designed to kill others–are utterly innocent of such ideation when it comes to their gun and how they view it. To them, that piece of machinery is *not* a weapon, any more than a set of golf clubs is. Violence is so far from their own minds and hearts that when someone comes along and uses it for the purpose for which it was designed, it's literally a shocking reminder that, Oh, yeah, this thing is meant to kill people!

    And that's where the divide–unbridgeable, maybe–stands: most gun owners do not wish or think harm on others, and they do not see their guns as a means of doing harm, and just because anti-gun people do, well, since when does anyone owe it to a bunch of strangers to share their perspective, when he is doing no harm by holding on to his own? (Answer: because the society that makes guns available to him–harmless, empathetic–also makes them available to Adam Lanza.)

    In short, "responsible gun ownership" isn't the issue.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    What exactly defines a "responsible" owner of a semiautomatic rifle? Those monsters are not used for hunting. They are much more difficult to use and less accurate when the mythical self-defense breaks out considered. The only non military use semiautomatics have is to kill a lot of people or for their owners to enjoy the noise and thrill.

    To summarize: by law we sell weapons whose function is to kill people. Amazingly, it works. The weapons help kill adults, kids, teacher and police officers. Safety of a killer weapon is totally beside the point. Our values do explicitly support killing; we do it quite well actually. Newtown was not an accident. It's us accomplishing a goal.

  • I disagree on some of your points J.D.:

    If Lanza's mother had correctly stored them. Ie in a safe that only she had the combination for, with a trigger lock that only she had the key for, and the ammunition locked away as well. Then Lanza wouldn't have gotten his hands on her weapons or at least made it harder. Especially if it was a digital safe that locks itself if the combo is entered wrong three times.

    Also those who buy a handgun do so with concept of "self defence" in mind. So There's already an idea shooting someone.

    Those who purchase *hunting* rifles tend to have slightly different mind set, but they're pretty much committed to killing something.

  • I _do_ think the "responsible gun ownership" meme is worth harping on, if only because it's one of the few areas where we might be able to push specific legislative policies that curb (alas, we shall never completely prevent) spree shootings.

    Having a gun is a right, and a right is also a responsibility. You want to own a gun? Go ahead, but make sure you can afford things like a proper storage unit, trigger lock, and maintenance.

    Oh, what's that you say? You don't know how to strip and clean your own weapons? Well, that's another barrier that should be put up between you and your He-man fantasies.

    Look, it's just like getting money from the government. When somebody gets laid off and gets unemployment, they "earned" it. When a poor urban mother gets food stamps, well, she's a blah-person moocher.

    But when Mr. Weekend Warrior doesn't properly secure his arsenal and his kid blows his head off, Mr. Weekend Warrior should be arrested for manslaughter.

    I dunno. So much going on here. So much sadness and anger. But I think Ed is generally making good points, as usual.

  • @ xynzee: I see your points–and indeed, it seems as if Adam Lanza attempted and failed to acquire a hunting rifle prior to the massacre, only to resort to his mother's stockpile–though her failure to abide by the methods you suggest only seems "irresponsible" if she knew her son to be likely to use the guns for, well, the purpose for which they were designed. Since she raised him in the house with the guns, took him to the range, and in general seemed OK with his having access to the firearms, it's quite possible that she was plenty "responsible" in that she saw no reason to keep the combination/key/location of the ammo all to herself–after all, he was her son, for heaven's sake.

    But to what extent is "self-defense" truly an acceptance of using the gun to harm/kill another person? (I'm asking, not snarking.) That is, do those who purchase handguns for "self-defense" actually envision (or fantasize about) using them to make bloody, wall-spattering holes in another person, or is that the kind of scenario anti-gun people like to *imagine* about gun purchasers?

    I wasn't including hunting rifles in my list of hypothetical owners/guns–I trust that those objects are, indeed, being used for what they were designed to do, and usually responsibly so.

    But you're right, on the whole–though I stand by my (modified) assertion that "gun safety" isn't the *main* problem, so much as "gun availability."

  • I can see objections to handguns being locked up with the ammo separate because they are supposedly for defense, but with semi-auto rifles? No, you are not going to use that for self-defense, period. Nor should you. One miss, or even a hit, could over penetrate and hit your kid in the next room(even across the house in some cases). To be sure, there is also a similar risk with handguns as well, which is why a shotgun with the appropriate load might be more suitable for home defense.

    The thing about defense with guns is this though: You are not expecting to be attacked, your attack is planning to attack you. This gives the attacker a GREAT advantage. Consider the same question of defense in regards to martial arts. Brazilian jujitsu and Judo can be effective because if someone does jump you, you might still be able to fight even though they take you down. And your attack probably will take you down because again, they are prepared- they're planning to attack while you're dicking around thinking about what you're having for dinner tonight. On the other hand, there are a myriad of "deadly" martial arts(the deadlier they are, the longer and more expensive contracts you must get to learn them) which will have you believe that you'll utterly destroy any attacker(s) the moment they get in range. Bullshit.

    The same thing goes with guns. The person planning to shoot has a big advantage on you and they will have the drop. Even if they didn't see you initially, you're not going to be at the top of your game, like at the range. You're shocked, people are screaming and running everywhere, you're mind is still trying to process the fact that there is a man some distance away shooting people, and you are faced with the fact that you, who may never even so much as considered signing up for the military(where you have to actually work to handle weapons), may now have to take a life. Are you sure you're going to shoot straight? Are you sure in the process you're not going to be mistaken for the real shooter by approaching police?

    This is why we talk about the fairy tale of the responsible armed citizen who saves the day. It's something out of Hollywood.

  • While I wouldn't claim that internet forums (general and specific) on the purchase and use of handguns for self-defense represent all owners, they do show an imaginative capacity beyond the wildest nightmares of people who aren't so enraptured by such things.

    Which is to say that you will find ample detailed comment on precisely the kind of bloody, wall-spattering (and wall-penetrating) holes a certain combination of ballistic equipment can produce, as opposed to the bloody, wall-spattering holes produced by other combinations of ballistic equipment. In fact, people seem to have very strong opinions on what combination of ballistic equipment should be used to ensure just the right kind of bloody, wall-spattering holes.

  • One RGO basic – not on your list.

    Gun handling combined w/ psycho-active drugs – prescribed all the way to recreational.


  • c u n d gulag says:

    A society isn’t really free if you can’t express your freedom of speech by flipping the middle-finger salute to the driver who just cut you off, out of fear that he’ll shoot your head off, and pry your finger off of your cold dead hand.

    Now, let’s compile a list of places that have had mass gun murders recently.
    Work places.
    Post offices.
    Movie theaters.
    Shopping Malls.
    Elementary Schools.
    High Schools.

    Quite a list, that.
    A lot of places you wouldn’t go to, if you feared that “lightening” would strike the same type of place again.
    And now, let's add some more places, some states like Michigan, say it'll be ok to LEGALLY carry guns – even concealed ones.
    Bars (Nope, nothing bad can happen there. Oh yeah – the person "carrying" is not supposed to drink! Well, I feel better already. "A double bourbon for me, bartender, and a seltzer for the guy down there packing the Glock. I guess he's the DD, right? Designated Defender." Nope. Nothing bad can happen here!).
    Day-cares facilities.

    Is there any place that's "safe" from guns anymore? Or people with guns?
    There used to be an old axiom: “There’s safety in numbers.” Sure, maybe back when a killer had to load his flint lock or muzzlebuster after every shot.
    But now?
    Where can anyone go anymore, and rest assured that they won’t be shot, even with a whole lot of other people around them, by some madman carrying handguns or rifles that carry enough bullets to kill an entire football team in one or two clips, or cartridges, or whatever they’re called.

    Maybe it’s time to change our nation’s motto to Clint Eastwood’s, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’”
    Well, do ya?

    Again, you want to keep a rifle or two to hunt with? No problem.
    You want a simple handgun to protect your home? No problem.
    Follow the simple rules that Ed laid out.

    And here's an idea I really like – mandatory gun insurance:

  • "To them, that piece of machinery is *not* a weapon, any more than a set of golf clubs is. "

    A set of golf clubs is designed to hit a ball. A gun is designed to kill something. There is no comparison. Nor is there any comparison with a tennis racket, Bunco dice, or playing cards–other things guns have been compared to. No child has ever found his parents' Bunco dice under the couch cushions and accidentally killed himself with them. No child has ever grabbed a deck of playing cards in anger and slaughtered the next-door neighbor with them.

  • @Anonymouse: on the bunco dice… choking hazard.

    @CU: That's why I proposed yesterday that individual property rights trump gun owners in *all* cases. As it stands it's coming to where you lose your rights to the gun owner. What the…?

    That's why I proposed that individual property rights trump guns in *all* circumstances. This way you, employers and shop keepers can decide what kind of environment they want to have. For employers this can be extended to cover their parking lots, so no guns in the vehicles as well.

    Make the sentence for violating a gun free property zone an unavoidable mandatory extremely long sentence that will preclude them from ever owning a weapon again.

  • The other one that I keep reading about is the "law abiding citizen" who should not have their rights restricted. Except, everyone is a law abiding citizen until they're not. That is, there is no category of individual who can be designated as law abiding and separated out from the non-law abiding. Anyone who possesses a gun, which is designed to, you know, injure someone, can use their gun criminally. The idea that we can keep guns away from the "bad" people and protect the rights of the "good" people is ridiculous.

  • There is a deep gap in understanding if you think that a guideline issued by a manufacturer, possibly only for liability purposes, is the last word in safety. Specifically, there is a delusion on the part of people who think no one ever successfully used a gun in self-defense. Again, the requirement that everyone be required to take a class before purchase of a gun (or a new type of gun) would solve this. Most people don't read the manual when they buy anything they don't have to program.

    Weapons used for self-defense are not safely and responsibly stored if they cannot be accessed and fired quickly. That means on your body, not in your purse, and certainly not in some obscure labyrinth. Most of my friends handle the problem by removing the firing pin and keeping it elsewhere on their person. No kids, irresponsible buddies, strangers — no one else, period — can use it. And by all means, lock up whatever is not in use, or store it at the range.

    If your goal is to rant out your ya-yas, I hope it helped. Preaching to the choir gets a very receptive audience, but that doesn't mean the sermon was great. If you want to persuade the heathen, however, you will have to try to understand their real feelings, rather than their side's rants and memes and superficial reactions, and you'll need to deal with the arguments of their better minds rather than their ranks of foolish loudmouths. Both sides have simpletons, and probably the most common mistake I see (again, on both sides) is the assumption that the loudmouths represent the best arguments the opposition can offer.

    Last (I promise; I have to go study for finals): I hope everyone understands that some types of laws are strictly administrative and have no effect. Gun storage is one. Unless you are going to inspect homes and revoke ownership privileges, and there is no way to do that, improper gun storage is something that can be used to enhance sentencing, but does not function as a deterrent. A lot of the ideas non-gun-owners are coming up with are like that.

    Emotional reactions are fine, but better arguments make better laws. Not caring about the rights of gun owners right now is expected and understandable, and I hope you are enjoying the NRA members who are backing toward center. (I know it's a relief to me.) But is your goal to punish gun-lovers, or to create an actual decrease in gun violence? If you it's the former, keep ranting. If it's the latter, harder arguments are required.

  • @ladiesbane: On gun storage, I disagree. Yes, it is impossible to ensure that guns are stored safely in a home but it would take a five minute inspection to determine whether or not the home had the facility to provide for safe storage. And yes, the penalty for violating safe storage requirements should be revocation of privilege. (As it is elsewhere in the civilized world.)

  • @rosiesDad

    You hit the nub of it…it ain't a privilege, its a Right.

    Why do you want to violate my 4th Amendment Rights to insure to your satisfaction that I'm exercising my 2nd amendment Rights in a way that you deem proper?


  • First, on semiautomatic rifles/home defense–as a matter of fact, the 5.56/.223 round is a good one for use in a home defense rifle. Because it's a small bullet at a high velocity, it tends to fragment on impact–in fact, it's designed to. So it's less likely to penetrate through either the bad guy or the wall than, say, a full metal jacket .45. It's not what I use, but it's a valid choice.

    More to the heart of the matter is what J. Dryden asked: "But to what extent is "self-defense" truly an acceptance of using the gun to harm/kill another person? (I'm asking, not snarking.) That is, do those who purchase handguns for "self-defense" actually envision (or fantasize about) using them to make bloody, wall-spattering holes in another person, or is that the kind of scenario anti-gun people like to *imagine* about gun purchasers?"

    For me personally, it's certainly something I've thought about. Not in an "Oh man, if I'd just been there, I would have dived through the air in slow-motion and double tapped him before I hit the ground because I'm the white Chow Yun Fat" way, in a "Could I actually kill someone if I was in that kind of situation?" way. It's something that I think you have to think about if you purport to own guns for self-defense, and especially if you obtain a concealed-carry permit, which I have. Occasionally you'll hear someone say something like "Oh, I don't carry it loaded, I just figure the bad guy will get scared and run off anyway," or "Oh, I don't have ammo, but racking a shotgun will make the guy leave the house," both of which are utterly retarded statements. If you have a gun for self-defense, you should only draw it in a situation where you believe that you will be seriously injured or killed if you don't; if you're in a situation where you may be seriously injured or killed, an empty gun is a fucking stupid thing to have. And if you have to shoot someone, trying to pull some ninja John Woo shit where you shoot the guy's knife out of his hand or something is equally fucking stupid–you shoot to stop the threat, which means shooting center mass, which means very likely killing the person.

    So yes, before I purchased my handgun, and before I got my carry permit, I thought, "Could I actually kill someone–could I make the decision to end someone's life–if I were in that situation?" To a lesser extent, I ask myself that same question every time I put my gun in my holster and walk out the front door. The answer was, and still is "I think so." It's impossible to know for sure unless it actually happens, so I hope I never have to find out. But knowing myself pretty well, I think that I could pull the trigger–much as I have no desire to hurt anybody, if it's a choice between the life of someone who's trying to hurt me or someone I care about, and the life of me or someone I care about, I will do my best to keep the latter alive, even at the cost of someone else's life.

    With any luck though, I'll die peacefully, having never needed the gun outside of a range, and feeling kind of silly for having carried it all these years.

  • I was born in NY City, and left when I was 11, when we moved to a suburb upstate. I was raised in a lower-middle class neighborhood, in the city – a solidly middle class one upstate.
    I lived in NY City apartments from the late 70's until the early 90's (every borough except Bronx), and a year in Philadelphic, in both good neighborhoods, and some sketchy ones, bordering poorer areas.

    In the early 00's, I lived in Chapel Hill, NC, in a great apartment complex, sorrounded by an upper middle class housing development.
    I then lived in Southern Pines, in a lower middle class area, in an apartment.
    Finally, I ended my stay in NC in Fayetteville, NC, a military town, in an apartment complex that dealt mostly with young military families, or two soldiers in one unit – in other words, noise, fairly poor, and probably heavily armed.

    And never, in either good or sketchy apartments in urban areas, or my youth in suburban Upstate NY, did I ever feel the need to keep a gun at home, or carry one one me when I went out.

    The thoought literally never occured to me.

    Oh, and I'm not the kind of guy who just sits at home, watching TV and reading books (or at least not then). I went to Harlem, downtown Brooklyn, some shaky sections of Queens and Staten Island, and the Lower East Side (before the areas were gentified), of NY for either concerts, shows, plays, exhibits of urban art, or to go to restaurants. Ditto going to downtown Durham, NC (before it was yuppified), and the meaner sections of Fayetteville.

    In other words, I haven't exactly lived a sheltered life. I've been in some bad areas, on some pretty mean streets, in some pretty bad times. And I never thought about living at home, or going out, armed.
    And, believe me, I'm no hero.
    I will say though, that if I had a wife and family, I might have thought differently. But, none of my friends have any guns either. So, I think that not owning a gun, is as much of a mind-set for me, as those who grew up around them, and/or see them as tools, or defensive measures.

    I can't imagine owning one. Others can't imagine not owning one. Or more.

    And THAT'S why I just don't "get" guns, and gun ownership.

  • A couple of thoughts from a transplanted city kid.

    I get that folks in the country think of guns as tools, but in the city, they are at best, as useless as tits on a bull, and at worst can destroy a community. People in rural areas need to work harder to understand that. Like, study for finals hard work.

    Are background checks, locks and limiting the number of bullets an undue burden? Really?

    Finally, please stop the fantasy about 'if only someone was armed….' it just makes you look stupid.

  • Oh, Ladiesbane. Long time readers (and authors with eerily specific memories) are well acquainted with your belief that you are not safe unless you have a loaded gun on you at all times, and that individuals are all competent to make the correct judgment about when to pull it out and start waving it around and/or using it.

    You should move to Florida. They have a special law designed just for you.

  • @ c u

    My story is exactly the same, just change the towns and states.

    I have been in pee-in-pants-scary Chicago neighborhoods and only thought that having a gun would create more problems than it would solve.

  • I dunno, I'd have to agree with Ladiesbane.

    IF you are going to buy a gun for "self defense," then it is pointless to have it in any state other than loaded, safety off, and on/near your person at all times.

    Fact is, if someone sneaks into your bedroom while you're sleeping and attempts to murder you, you'll only have a few seconds to pull out your gun, point and shoot to save your life. You wont have time to get your gun from it's safe, you won't have time to remove the trigger lock, you won't have time to load the magazine, and you won't have time to release the safety. (And you certainly won't have time to wait the 10-15 minutes for police to arrive.)

    Some people are paranoid enough that I'm sure they sleep on their loaded, safety-off handgun at all times; but for the rest of humanity that is just plain impractical for the 0.00000001% chance that some homicidal maniac will come into your bedroom on any given night. Ladiesbane and Nick appear to be two of them.

    Nick said:

    and feeling kind of silly for having carried it all these years.

    Yes… yes you are.

  • Also: http://www.mattbors.com/blog/2012/12/17/armed-society-polite-society

    I've been saying that for a while. In the perfect Ayn Rand world there would be no government. Therefore the most logical conclusion is that anyone who wants to engage in commerce and the open market would have to be armed at all times. Since Ayn Rand wanted people to act in the most selfish way possible there is nothing stopping people from just murdering each other and taking all their possessions and goods.

    I was amazed the first time I read Atlas Shrugged that all the idiots in Galt's Gulch were living so peacefully together. Not only that but that they all wanted to hear that pianists work. When in reality the whole damn thing should have been a free-for all with the pianist playing alone because who gives a shit about pianos? (And I was quite pleased a few years later when the video game Bioshock pondered that exact scenario.)

  • Meanwhile 45,000 people die every year because they don't have health insurance. Many of them kids just as innocent. It would be nice if the mouse-click revolution spent 1/10th the amount of thought and fury on getting something done about that as they are currently spending flooding every available outlet with demonizing anyone who owns any kind of firearm.

  • mel in oregon says:

    i'm a hunter & shooter as i pointed out in my 12-17 comments. i never discuss the nra or anything really except the weather when i come across another hunter or shooter. it's pointless since i am opposed to everything the nra stands for. gun safety is a good thing, but obviously isn't followed closely since there are so many accidental killings in homes, while hunting & by the police. which brings up another point. do we really want to add a bunch of trigger happy cops patrolling schools, & that might shoot some kid smoking a joint or high on something else, thereby impaired & not acting instantly to a law enforcement command? with the growing militarization of police forces & their brutal tactics against peaceful demonstrators & especially minorities, the answer should be no. every police force in the united states, in each city, town, county & municipality has as its primary purpose the protection of corporate america. its secondary purpose is to make damn sure the poor & minorities obey every stupid law & law enforcement order no matter how stupid or insane.

  • Whatever you think of guns for self defense, folks, they are a last line of defense.

    You know what works pretty damn good? Deadbolts! Alarms! Not walking in shitty neighborhoods at 2am! Still feeling unsafe? Get an akita. Nobody will ever break into your bedroom!

  • @bb
    Seriously? Your "right" is infringed by legally instituted controls to increase safety and possibly descrease gun violence? So when the cat lady down the street, who has been hoarding for the last 15 years, has her house condemned, are we violating her rights? Or are we placing higher value on the right to life and the pursuit of happiness when one person's delusional life directly affects others?

    This isn't meant to be a direct analogy, BTW. Why do we need an analogy for the horrific shooting sprees in our country? Aren't they evidence enough that change is needed? And I don't care that the statistics during the assault rifle ban decade didn't show a corellary drop in crime. There is no reason that anyone needs to own an assault rifle, semi or full auto!

    Is your argument actually that banning assault rifles and increased capacity mags won't make a difference, or are you scared of the infamous "slippery slope"? Because that argument died when Congress let the assault ban die!

    I argue that semi-auto handguns also have no place in the hands of the general public. If you don't believe you can "defend" your home with a revolver or, better yet, a shotgun, you are delusional.

    In reality, Americans have fetishized guns to the point where nothing is going to change.

  • I generally don't weigh in on the gun thing because I am pretty harsh–I think people should only be allowed to own a revolver and/or a single-shot rifle. That should get whatever killing job you need done. If you want to own a gun, you have to wait two weeks, have your background checked, attend and pass a safety/use class. Which you have to go to every year to keep your permit current. Yes, the government should maintain a database of all gun owners. For fuck's sake, they keep a database of those licensed to drive–and cars are weapons too, people. As far as the NRA saying that any gun control is ceding ground–well, no. If you make it plain as day that there are only two types of gun allowed then that's where it begins and ends. It's only when you start allowing anything and everything that the government has to start thinking about reigning the shit in.

    But now that everyone is armed to the teeth, I just don't know if we can do anything to stem the gun murders which happen every day (not just to sweet white kids in CT). Which doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

  • "Look, it's just like getting money from the government. When somebody gets laid off and gets unemployment, they "earned" it. When a poor urban mother gets food stamps, well, she's a blah-person moocher."

    Yeah, funny how conservatives don't spend a lot of time thinking about the rights of the Responsible Welfare Recipient when they ask her to pee in a cup to get their benefits because they read on the Internet that OMG TEH DRUGZ.

  • Aaron Schroeder says:

    Not exactly sure whether Ed is purposefully failing to call attention to Megan McArdle's especially reasonable response to the gun violence. So here's a choice paragraph, in all its pants-shittingly insane glory.

    "I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips."

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Yeah, that was what I was trying to link to above. But everytime I tried, my comment went into the ether.

  • Back to the chin-stroking debate. Next week's debate will be on "Crack Cocaine; just how much is safe, and should responsible crack-users be permitted to have a personal supply in their homes?" How long has this asinine guns debate been going on? And how far has it progressed? How many times has my kid or bb's kid or his mom or his sister been killed or maimed? Remember when you discuss this oh, so thoughtfully that every kid was your kid; that every girl was your little sister, no matter who they were actually related to. It's bad enough going out on the road in a car with most people apparently unwilling or unable to drive responsibly, but nobody seems willing to even treat guns like we treat motorboats in this country. Under the circumstances, why shouldn't we treat the debate as settled – guns are deadlier than drugs, and should be outlawed, since we have demonstrated conclusively that we are not capable of handling our gun addiction? bb and David Brooks could write a Very Serious op/ed together about how this is all very regrettable, but that it's important to keep the Larger Picture in view. Screw that – I work at a hospital. Guns are a worse public health issue than drugs are.

  • DH is right. The fantasy that there are "good people" and there are "bad people" drives a lot of the gun nut paranoia … The so-called "good people" aren't going to feel "safe" until they have the firepower to fight off the bad people. But anyone can have a few too many drinks or a bad day at work and then, suddenly, access to that gun means deadly consequences.

    The fact that it is easier to buy an assault rifle – a device with no purpose other than mass murder – than to bring a cup of pudding onto an airplane is just another example of how we all have been forced to go along with delusional wingnut thinking.

  • I'm always a little bit perturbed by people who imagine that if someone breaks into their house in the middle of the night they'll be able to dispatch the interloper coolly in the manner of James Bond.

    When I was 20, and a student, I lived in an apartment with doors that locked when they closed. We (I shared a room with my boyfriend) had kept ours propped open, but had serendipitously started to keep it shut after acquiring an apartment-mate who thought nothing of borrowing socks without asking. One night, when I was ill and all my apartment-mates had gone out to a party, I woke up to the sound of someone trying to pick the lock on my bedroom door.

    It's amazing how quickly your mind works under those conditions, and I thought about, and rejected, jumping out of the window (we lived two floors above the ground floor), and hiding under the bed (I didn't want to be trapped with no escape route, or for his lizard brain to misinterpret us all being in my bedroom in the dark). I assessed everything in our room as a likely weapon (mirror, too big; dressing gown belt, probably quite hard to garotte someone with textiles), picked up an empty wine bottle from the floor (no judgment, we were decidedly subpar housekeepers), and opened the door and essentially roared at the guy. Although I must have looked ridiculous in my doubtless adorable pyjamas, brandishing a wine bottle, he turned around and ran out of the front door.

    It wasn't until I was weeping down the phone to the poor desk sergeant who answered the phone at the police station that I realised how shocked I was. I would have said before that that I was a very nonviolent person, but I was running completely on instinct, and my instinct was ruthlessly in favour of making him leave me alone by whatever means possible. If I'd had a gun under the pillow, or in my bedside-table, I would at least have waved it at him. I think I would probably have shot him. I'm incredibly glad I didn't have those means at my disposal, because in the cold light of day I don't think someone should be dead because they helped themselves to my N64 and gave me a bit of a fright. I may be a stone-cold outlier in the difference between my rational brain and adrenaline-soaked brain* (*any resemblance to science is coincidental), but I suspect I'm not.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Let me ask a question for those people who supports guns out there, why are there metal detectors outside the entrances of Federal and state facilites?
    If guns are so safe, then why isn't every member of Congress, and every Judge in a Federal Court, packin' heat?
    And why aren't people allowed to come armed into those facilities?

    If the visitors knew that all, or even some of the Congressmembers were armed, they'd never start to shoot, right?

    There should be no problem if everyone's trained in the Congress, has a permit, and is licensed, right again?

    Call your Congressperson and ask why he or she shouldn't have to worry about having some loon start shooting-up the places where they work, but the rest of us do?

    When our Congress, and state legislatures allow armed visitors, because their representatives are probably armed, THEN we can talk about arming teachers.

    And when the NRA lets in armed visitors (I'd read somewhere that they don't – no fools, they), that will also give credence to the talk of arming teachers.

    If we're ALL armed to the teeth, we're ALL safer, right?

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    Several state legislatures do allow members to concealed carry on the floor of the legislature. Not sure about support staff, visitors, and others, though. I find the idea appalling.

  • Doomed, we are says:

    I asked myself the same question Nick did- could I shoot if threatened. I came upon the same answer- "probably yes". And that is precisely why I do not have a gun. Why escalate an armed robbery into homicide? Even a jerk armed robber is still a person, and I don't want to kill them. I'll just hand over the purse and be really pissed. And the last thing a mass shooting needs is multiple shooters. Jesus H. Christ, the odds of hitting an innocent or being mowed down by the SERT team vs stopping the shooter are not favorable.

  • Re bb and his concern about the 4th amendment bumping up against the second in the case of laws mandating gun safes: it doesn't have to be that hard. No need to go door to door to confirm compliance. But if a gun is stolen from you because it wasn't safely locked up, and it's used to, say, shoot up a shopping mall, perhaps the gun owner could take some responsibility in the cold-blooded murder of, I don't know, 2 people, give or take. That and let the gun insurers provide some enforcement.

  • Make sure you vote with your pocketbook as well. If you own gun company stocks, sell them. Encourage the mutual funds/pension plans that you are invested in to do the same.

  • Ah, Ed, I know you think that a five-foot-tall female’s best line of defense is strong language. Many males, especially tall / young / strong guys, feel the way you do. I try to keep in mind that decent guys, including you, probably haven’t really explored how easy it can be to dominate a woman physically, or intimidate her. Consider how many of us have been sexual assaulted in childhood or adulthood, and that many/most females can be physically overpowered by most males. What are we supposed to do to equalize matters? I'm too old to become a kung-fu master, much as I would love that.

    @ deep: Do you really think that staving off a violent home invasion is the only reason to arm yourself? If you are a single female who has to take mass transit at all hours for work, or walk a ways in the dark between the bus stop and the employees’ entrance, or use a parking garage at night, you may have a limited number of crappy options. Some females hope or assume that pepper spray is enough to hold off one man, and if there are more, you’re S.O.L. I don’t. The arguments against my position, in the circumstances I’ve been in, amount to “you shouldn’t be there.” Poor judgment on my part was not being born well off or male, so I wouldn’t have to worry about living in crummy neighborhoods or being sexually assaulted while living and working as an adult. But please, don’t let me interrupt you telling me how silly I am.

    I am not about to dismiss my real experiences with home protection and self-protection because people who haven’t walked in my shoes think that my life, and what has happened to me, doesn’t count or is irrelevant.

  • God I've harped on this forever. Responsible gun ownership is not giving your 11-year-old kid a gun to take to school for "self-defense" (at which point he threatens all the kids on the playground with it because he's A FUCKING 11 YEAR OLD), nor is it keeping a cache of guns and ammo where your mentally disturbed kid can access them and use them to slaughter innocent kids.

    There are very few responsible gun owners. I'm so over that argument.

  • There is very clear, crystal clear, precedent on the 4th amendment not applying to administrative searches (with clear procedures and a clear non law enforcement perspective) and closely regulated industries. I don't believe either would apply to th home though. Regardless, people fail to realize that their own perception does not control. There is plenty of 4th amendment jurisprudence (amorphous and scattershot as it may be) to answer all your questions.

  • Violence against women is very real and very serious and unfortunately very prevalent. But it does not constitute a prima facie case for carrying a gun on your person.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    The Fourth Amendment?
    The Fourth Amen…
    That's SOOOO pre-9/11 and Patriot Act!
    Get with the times – we are secure in pretty much FECKIN" NOTHIN' anymore!
    Or, have some people forgotten?

    And if I remember right, it was the NEW Conservatives who gave-up that liberty and right for some post 9/11 security.
    The old ones used to be the ones who used to scream bloody murder about privacy rights.
    THOSE were the Conservatives I used to love to talk to and argue with.

    This new breed is too Manichean.
    They're all on the side of God and Jesus, and we're all humpin' or bein' humped by Satan, whose army we Liberals are all, apparently, a part of.

  • One of our state legislators open-carries on the house floor. Welcome to Utah

    Shit. Our GOVERNOR carries–concealed, though.

  • I hate that Patriot Act and its children…Notice that it was passed when people were all het up about 9/11. There's a lesson in there for the current emotional storm.

    And I don't care about the jurisprudence on administrative violations of the 4th. I know how its been used by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in the building code enforcement biz by governments. Been in the inspection game before.

    I don't care if the damn cat lady has crap running out her windows, the government needs to get a warrant and show some evidence in front of least some ol' recorder's court judge before they push her out of the way when she answers the door.

    The rules now make it so they (AHJ) can come in and poke around on the flimsiest pretexts just cause they want to.

    Old school, old fool


  • Yet somehow, 99.9% of the small female population manages to go about their day WITHOUT carrying a loaded gun.

    If "Stand Your Ground" isn't enough to prove what's wrong with your logic, I don't know what to tell you. If you're incapable of feeling secure without having a loaded gun at the ready, go talk to a therapist. I no longer feel compelled to play along with the idea that we should just trust the judgment of people walking around armed. An awful lot of them seem like paranoid, privileged white sociopaths whose idea of being threatened is "I saw some black people." You seem to think that the rest of society should just trust you. Well, you're a stranger. We have no reason to trust your judgment.

    You choose to carry a gun. Your argument implies that you think you have to, as if it's an obligation. If I argued "I can't feel like a man unless I have a gun, because my mother didn't raise me right and my uncle raped me", how would you respond? You'd be on board with that argument, right? You wouldn't perhaps think that I have issues unrelated to "needing" a gun to defend myself?

  • And all I ask from your side is to sell it.

    Get the votes to change the Constitution and not be party to attempts to pass un-Constitutional ends-justifies-the-means laws just to fight a holding action.

    Same same for all the Pro-lifers who want to outlaw abortions.


  • For responsible gun owners, I'd recommend supporting legislative efforts to make sure that guns are not used irresponsibly and with awareness of potential consequences.

    First, join the effort to eliminate "Stand your Ground" and similar laws, which encourage the irresponsible use of firearms, often resulting in unnecessary deaths.
    Second, there's an effort to reduce magazine sizes and reduce rates of fire. As you probably know, semiautomatic weapons are dangerous to responsible gun owners, since only criminals tend to use them in public places.
    Lastly, encourage gun-owners not to fantasize about violence or consider guns to be a first resort in self-defense. Guns should, as Nick points out, only be used when the target has a gun and has shown clear intent to kill.

    There is an organization that is working to prevent responsible gun ownership called the NRA. If your political representatives have any association with this organization, I suggest you ask them to reconsider.

  • Death Panel Truck says:

    I've never owned a gun, and I don't ever plan to get one. I'm not going to live my live believing that there is someone hiding behind every rock, tree or bush just waiting to take me out. I think people who carry concealed weapons are paranoid, and I refuse to live my life that way. As Deep said above, there is about a "0.00000001% chance that some homicidal maniac will come into your bedroom on any given night." If it happened, and I did have a gun on my nightstand, if the intruder is pointing a gun at me and saw me reaching for mine I'd be dead before I ever got to it. So what's the point?

  • Death Panel Truck says:

    "You seem to think that the rest of society should just trust you. Well, you're a stranger. We have no reason to trust your judgment."

    I have a female friend who carries, and I don't trust her judgment either.

  • I lived in a poor big-city neighborhood for a couple of decades, often waiting for a bus before dawn, taking the subway at night, or coming home late after dark. It never occurred to me that I ought to have a gun to protect myself (an average-size female); none of my friends or neighbors had a gun that I knew of, and the only guns I ever saw were worn by cops.

    What are all these people who need their guns so afraid of? Is it just old-fashioned cowardice? "A coward dies a thousand times; a brave man dies but once" was a motto I grew up with, and living every day scared of the big, bad something or other is a life I couldn't bear.

  • This conversation reminds me of that "Real Housewives of Orange County" season a couple years back which featured a Hummer-driving gun-lover who bragged about all of her guns she kept at the house; they even shot footage of her at the gun range. Then two episodes later we find out this woman suffers from severe post-partum depression and had suicidal thoughts.

    There just are no words.

    Anyway, an actual scientific study showed that women are actually at greater risk living in homes with firearms:


  • @ladiesbane
    congrats you are the Bernard goetz of gin and tacos. Shooting that gun will get you months of lawyer meetings even if 100% justified.

    Drop that gun and it will be even worse.

  • A co-worker who had been an FBI special agent once recounted a discussion that he'd had about guns with a couple of his fellow brand-new agents and an old FBI hand .

    A newby: "What kind of a handgun should I buy for personal protection?"

    Old hand: "A blue steel snub-nosed .38, but make sure it doesn't have a front sight on the barrel."

    Newbie: "Why no front sight?"

    Old hand: "Because, when somebody takes it away from you and sticks it up your ass, it won't hurt as bad."

  • There's a new meme making the rounds about a shooter at The Hobbit.

    The obvious going unmentioned are:
    A) How did the shooter get a gun in the first place.
    B) The person who shot him was an off duty sheriff.

  • Yeah, let's see the numbers on women carrying for personal protection. Number who use it on themselves or have it used on them, vs. successful self defense uses. And that doesn't even count instances of using it as the aggressor.

  • Am I missing something? I am reading comments from the likes of ladiesbane & seatea, who usually make a lot of sense, but the sensible bits of their arguments seem to be… not present. This is disappointing.

    @Ladiesbane: You seem to be supplying personal anecdotes to counter data. The numbers say your weapon is likely to be used against you, or not at all. The numbers say that high rates of gun ownership and availability correlate with high rates of gun crime and spree killings. The numbers say that gun control works, and works well. What evidence do you have – apart from personal anecdote – that counters this?

    @SeaTea: "…they are currently spending flooding every available outlet with demonizing anyone who owns any kind of firearm."

    That's not really what's happening, is it? Especially here at G&T. I think your persecution complex may be showing.

    I make these comments not to pile on. It's just that I have come to expect better, based on the strength of your arguments on other topics. If nothing else, doesn't it bother you that you agree with bb? Personally, when I find myself in that situation, I re-assess.

  • This figure is obviously very out of date, but I couldn't find a more recent one over breakfast.

    In 1998, for every one woman who used a handgun to kill an intimate acquaintance in selfdefense, 83 women were murdered by an intimate acquaintance using a handgun. [Cite]

    This paper from 2006 also has some narrative and data about the ways in which guns are used in households in which there is domestic abuse. From surveys of women in domestic abuse shelters, guns are used by intimate partners to control, threaten, and coerce women, even if those women are not shot or shot at. Women in domestic abuse shelters are more likely to report there being a gun in the house at all than women in the general population.

    I don't know if this came up in the other thread, because I was away and haven't read it yet, but I would entirely support limiting access to guns for men convicted of domestic abuse or who are the subject of restraining orders. However, it would seem from this abstract that such provisions in law are not well used.

  • Ed, I'd actually be interested if you could find something like that. The meme about guns for self-defense is "the bad guy will just take them away from you," which always seemed silly to me. I realize criminals aren't always the most rational of actors, but I can't imagine a lot of them taking the "Bitch, you won't pull the trigger" gamble.

  • @eau

    In logic and rhetoric I think that you are guilty of committing the 'Genetic Fallacy' It is a an old Southern tradition for sure, as your momma would say 'Consider the source,' but momma was wrong.

    It has a percentage going for it, but just because 'bb' argues for something doesn't make it automatically wrong

    "Even a blind hog etc etc…"


  • @eau: my deep-rural childhood and urban adulthood have (had) a lot of overlap with guns being used in a safe and responsible manner, in ways that directly improved my safety. I don't expect my anecdotes to persuade anyone of anything or change their minds, just as other people's experiences might inform me or might not. But do you see why all the statistics in the world don't weigh much compared to direct personal experiences? Who discounts his or her own reality after reading something in a newspaper?

    The really tiresome part of all this for me is that I have argued with my gun-loving friends for years that gun ownership and ammo purchase needs to be more regulated, better regulated, and profoundly limited in certain circumstances, with severe punishments and permanent revocation of rights for gun abuses. They think I'm nuts, but I keep trying. And I haven't even owned a gun in years, although not by preference. My ex-husband deplored guns and would not take a course in gun safety, and I wouldn't keep a gun in a house with someone untrained. And where I live now, gun ownership is regulated in really useless ways rather than effective ones, and you have to be law enforcement or military in order to get a carry permit. I am neither. But I won't break the law, even though it would be very easy to do so, and barring a highly unlikely disaster, would never be caught.

    Not having a gun doesn't keep me awake at night. I understand the chances of it being an issue here are slim, given variables of my current situation. But just as I wish gun maniacs would look beyond the raving blowhards of the anti-gun side when they make silly or irrelevant points, I wish my fellow lefties would recognize that not all pro-gun people are maniacs, and that there is such a thing as safe and reasonable gun use, even if you don't like, enjoy, or approve of guns.

    Again, I don't expect any person to have a change of heart or mind based on anyone else's experiences. But ranting, wholesale dismissals of people who have different experiences is not as productive as listening to each other and trying to see where the other guy is coming from.

  • bb, they're not sagging, I am, since I'm getting the same sneering contempt from my gun-nut friends. Silly of me to throw a dinner party that includes militant carnivores and morally indignant vegans — they literally won't sit at the same table together. I know I'm supposed to pick a side and drink the Kool-Aid, but I just can't.

  • @ladiesbane: Damn wordpess ate my lengthy reply. Short version: Seems we agree on more than we disagree on. As a wise and sadly passed friend used to tell me, "If both sides are pissed at you, you're probably on the right track". Seems appropriate to your experiences. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    @Nick: I will resist the temptation to tell you to do your own damn research, and instead point you towards one Arthur Kellermann. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Kellermann

    @bb: Have a happy Christmas, big guy.

  • Two things, eau: First, had you actually read my post, you would realize that I wasn't asking "is a gun more likely to be used against a criminal or for suicide?", I was responding to Ed's inquiry regarding women who carry–i.e., is a woman who carries a gun more likely to use the gun against an attacker, or have the gun taken from her by said attacker?

    Second, Kellerman's methodology and ability to draw conclusions both suck. Read through the bit after the bullet points on the 1993 study–"Once [information regarding whether the gun used in the shooting was owned by someone in the home, or whether it was brought in by whoever did the shooting] was taken into account, it was found that the effect of household gun ownership on the risk of homicide could not have been more than 6% of the effect that was estimated by Kellermann."

  • @Nick: I am not sure which random assertion, moving goalpost, or lazy cherry-pick to address here.

    There are many sites out there, just a google search away, that will break down gun violence and various gun control approaches into sets of numbers for your easy perusal. Make use of them. Or don't, it's your choice.

    Though I think we all know what you'll choose.

    Good luck to you.

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