THE GREAT RESIGNATION

Imagine yourself one of the small number of Americans who have political power – real power. Say you wanted to browbeat Americans into accepting some truly awful aspect of their lives without complaint. It would be in your interest to have this awful thing happen so regularly that people would become resigned to it, aided by saturation news coverage emphasizing that it is inevitable and nothing can be done about it. After a sufficient amount of time you would most likely achieve your goal; people will just shrug their shoulders, accept it as part of life, and go about their miserable days.

With our latest public spree killing at the Navy Yards in Washington, the NRA appears to have accomplished its goal at long last. They have achieved their dream of an America in which an armed gunman can murder 12 people in public and no one will give it a second thought. It isn't shocking, it isn't a cause for outrage. It's just a thing that is going to happen a couple of times per year indefinitely because really, what can be done about it? Lacking an especially gruesome angle – in Newtown, for instance, the victims were all tiny children – we hardly even pay attention.

It feels as if no one has the energy to go through the motions, to take to their soapboxes and yell that America has either too many guns or too few. After Newtown, Americans have finally gotten the message: the gun industry owns the NRA, the NRA owns Congress, and Congress owns nothing but the votes it sells to the highest bidder. Nothing is going to change, ever, unless it involves arming more people in more places. So really, what is the point? Why bother? Why try to make changes that will never happen? People may not be smart but they are rational; most of us recognize a lost cause when we see it. We're left with no option beyond retreating into the fantasy that we can somehow protect ourselves with more guns and bigger locks on the doors.

Getting policies enacted is not a rare accomplishment for an interest group. Getting the public to accept their position as the status quo is harder but not unheard of. The NRA alone, it seems, has succeeded in reducing its opposition to total resignation. They are going to win every time. The only solution is more guns and the occasional killing spree is just a fact of American life now. Despite the saturation media coverage of these once-shocking events, they're treated essentially like the weather: it's just a thing that happens that nobody can control or predict, and it sure is sad when some people end up dead.

Lyndon Johnson once said that real power is getting someone to kiss your ass in a Macy's window and then announce that it tasted great. He wasn't wrong, but today real power is getting an entire nation to react to something that should be jarring with, "Just twelve? Regular adults? Oh how terrible. What's for dinner?"

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118 Responses to “THE GREAT RESIGNATION”

  1. Isaac Says:

    All day I've been thinking about how the latest event puts absolute nail in the coffin to the NRA argument that shootings won't be a problem if only we could have "properly trained, armed, vigilent" citizens everywhere.

    On a tightly guarded, secure, cctv'd military base, with probably hundreds of armed MP's, Rent-A-Cops, and active duty personnel… it took hours and hours to apprehend the guy, and they still don't seem very certain that there was only one of him. And he didn't just sneak a handgun through the gate in his toolbox… Reports are of a rifle and a shotgun.

    But you are right Ed. The powers that be (and a great pile of the American people) don't give two shits about human life.

  2. wetcasements Says:

    I've given up on gun control as anything but a political liability for me and my fellow Dems. Ed is right — the bastids won.

    Just look at what happened in Colorado — reasonable gun-control legislation = automatic recall.

    So it sucks. It really sucks. But America is now an irredeemably violent country and always will be forever, because Freedom.

  3. Nick Says:

    The NRA's status as boogeyman for the anti-gunners has always fascinated me. Yes, the NRA is a fairly powerful lobby. But there are 80 million people in this country who own guns, and only a small fraction of them belong to the NRA. And you never hear people bitching about the power of the AARP despite Boomers running the country into the ground. You never hear about the National Corn Growers Association despite corn subsidies being largely responsible for our ass-backward agricultural policies. Nor do you hear much about other interest groups in general, except under a broad umbrella of "lobbyists running everything." The NRA alone seems to stand as this mythical cabal that wields enormous and undue influence. I'm no great fan of the NRA, but guns aren't popular in the United States because the NRA has lobbying power. The NRA has lobbying power because guns are popular in the United States.

    In any case, I'm sure the standard arguments will be made here about how if we'd just get rid of 30-round magazines and folding stocks everything would be hunky-dory. I get sick of the debate, not because it's worthless, but because we keep banging our heads against the wall over this stupid shit. There was enormous political potential after Sandy Hook. You had Republican lawmakers actually indicating a willingness to overhaul the state of mental healthcare in the US if it meant guns would be left alone. If the Dems had stood up and said "Fine, no gun control, but we're going to subsidize mental healthcare for people who can demonstrate a financial need," they might have actually gotten it. But instead of using the collective anger and grief and pain of a nation to actually do some goddamned good for once, they wasted all of that political capital trying to A. revive a law that sucked in 1994, died a deserved death ten years later, did absolutely fuck-all, and the new iteration of which was actually even more useless; and B. implement universal background checks in the absolute stupidest way possible, virtually ensuring that even those gun owners like myself who support universal background checks didn't like the measure.

    But yeah, go ahead and tell me how much safer we'd all be if bad guys had to reload slightly more often.

  4. Coises Says:

    Concurring with wetcasements' and Nick's observations, I'd add that at a time when the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to our Constitution are under relentless assault, I really don't care to argue against a straightforward interpretation of the Second as an individual right that government at all levels must respect. I suggest that at present, a policy of not splitting hairs with regard to the Bill of Rights is very much in order.

    Maybe someday when we're not just a hair's breadth away from a police state, we can afford to question the finer points.

  5. middle seaman Says:

    Absolutely agree, Ed. The rich pay little taxes, Obamacare will leave 30 million Americans without health care, we have millions of people in jail and we aren't China and more. Does anyone care? No, and will continue to be no.

  6. Tim Says:

    Two issues, the first being minor. People often think they're being rational regardless of whether they are or not. It's a cognitive blind spot, much like the well-known Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Second, I think it's ridiculous and unfair to bring the AARP into the comments of a post about lobbies. Not because their actions are saintly, but because on a blog post dealing with shooting sprees and the gun lobby doesn't need to cover all other lobbies to be intellectually consistent or compelling. To bring up an (intentionally) uncovered subject hardly seems to be more than a poorly thought up counterargument.

  7. Breezeblock Says:

    It's like you read my mind….

  8. RosiesDad Says:

    We are now at the point where a couple of dozen mass shooting victims a few times a year is now accepted as a reasonable cost of freedom.

    In a rational world, the people most committed to gun rights would do at least part of the heavy lifting in trying to figure out how to keep guns away from the mentally ill and criminals. But we don't live in a rational world, do we?

  9. Major Kong Says:

    Got to water that tree of liberty from time to time don't ya know.

  10. Talisker Says:

    @Nick: Here's a better comparison for you. The AAA is, among other things, a pro-car organisation. If they choose to lobby against higher gas taxes, that's fine. You could argue that they're wrong, but that's the way democracy works.

    Now imagine that the AAA successfully opposed any and all requirements for driving licenses or car safety features, regardless of how many lives were lost as a result. Imagine they issued rank propaganda about how any regulation of cars was the start of a slippery slope towards banning all private vehicles. And imagine they were richly bankrolled by car manufacturers and oil companies, and did not hesitate to use those funds to unseat members of Congress who were not sufficiently supportive of their crusade against car laws.

    This is more or less the situation with the NRA. As Ed points out, they've won. But you can win, and still be grossly irresponsible and destructive.

  11. Matt Says:

    Tim, I suppose you know a more rational way to make the point that one lobby garners more attention and blame than others equally or more deserving… WITHOUT mentioning any other lobbies? Or to make the point that unlike lobbies possibly more deserving of criticism, the NRA isn't powerful *in spite* of popular sentiment… again WITHOUT mentioning other lobbies?

    There is plenty of room to criticize the fact that the most loudly defended individual constitutional right is the one inescapably tied to a private-sector industry, and it seemed to me Nick was willing to find that room. How about instead of tap-dancing around your point and obtusely name-dropping cognitive traps we deal directly with Nick's argument?

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    Obviously, our Founding Fathers got the sequence wrong in the Bill of Rights.
    The 2nd Amendment obviously takes precedence, over the 1st.

    Because no matter how much you want to exercise your 1st Amendment right of free speech, a person with a 2nd Amendment gun always has the last word.

    And if you keep shooting off your mouth, well, the person with the gun will be more than happy to make that literally happen.

  13. Matt Says:

    @Talisker: yours doesn't seem an entirely unfair analogy, but it's incomplete. To apply it to Nick's point, you'd have to allow that the success of various AAA campaigns weren't due exclusively (possibly even primarily) to the funding of interested businesses – you'd have to admit that, in fact, the reason AAA has so much political clout is most automotive owners are at least implicitly ok with its efforts. Largely, keeping with the analogy, because those who wish to regulate vehicle use keep bitching about the AAA and offering such brilliant solutions as limiting vehicles to three wheels, instead of four. Or to two-wheel drive instead of four-wheel drive. Or banning radios and cup holders in cars because they cause fatal accidents.

  14. GunstarGreen Says:

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a flamethrower, is a good guy with a flamethrower.

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a rocket launcher, is a good guy with a rocket launcher.

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a battle tank, is a good guy with a battle tank.

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuclear device, is a good guy with a nuclear device.

    Why is it that the primary argument of the pro-unrestricted-weapons lobby and its supporters is so easily shown to be a farce, and yet people still go in for it?

    Set aside the "right vs. privilege" malarky for a moment, as that's based on a document written over two centuries ago when personal arms were a thing (and note that this was at a time when 'to bear arms' did not actually necessarily imply FIREarms, people still used edged weapons back then) and motorized vehicles were not. Why is it harder to get into a state where you are legally able to operate a car than a gun in some parts of this country? If 'bearing arms' is a sacred, unrestrictable right, why don't pro-2A folks support civilian ownership of high explosives? That's an arm. What is the material difference between an assault rifle and a rocket launcher? They both exist for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of people, it's just that one does it by piercing them and the other does it by blowing them up. What is the difference?

  15. Major Kong Says:

    We've had very strict regulation of fully automatic weapons since the late 1930s and nobody's shot up a bank with a Thompson or a B.A.R. (Clyde Barrow's weapon of choice) since anyone can remember.

    If we can regulate 600 rounds-per-minute I don't see what's so magical about 60 rounds-per-minute that we couldn't regulate it.

    We'll never be able to completely prevent this sort of thing but limiting how much firepower one of these wackjobs can bring to the party would be a start.

  16. bb in GA Says:

    Depending on your stat source the US had a homicide rate rising from about 1.0 in 1900 [recently subject to revision higher] to about 9.7 per 100K back in 1932, trended downward to about 4.5 in the late 1950s and locally peaked in 1980 at about 10.2 and gradually reduced to the 5.5 to 6 range by 2000. We’ve been bumping along roughly there since.

    Murderers who use guns have most recently accounted for about 75% of the yearly total which would be about 4.3 per 100K. The so-called ‘assault’ rifles (usually just bad-assed looking semi-auto weapons with large capacity magazines) have regularly been used in 1 – 2% of these murders.

    So we are talking something on the order of 0.1 homicide per 100K. When the ‘assault weapons ban’ was passed back in 1994 w/ a ten year sunset provision, I thought that there would be a tremendous statistical hill to climb to make any statistical inferences about the effectiveness of the law unless it were almost 100% effective.

    Well, I was right. Gun restriction fans and gun rights promoters have concluded that the 10 years of data support their respective positions.

    Emotional times like we have right now seem to make for bad law. Might I cite the ‘Patriot’ Act and some of its progeny (like the NDAA)?

    Norway has considerably more restrictive gun laws than the US, for instance:

    All guns registered
    All gun owners licensed and required to have training
    Some calibers restricted
    All ammo sales registered

    Mass murderer Anders Breivik killed 69 and wounded over 100 with his LEGALLY OBTAINED, registered, weapons in Norway in 2011. He also killed 8 people and injured over 200 with a bomb the same day. He killed the equivalent population in the US of over 4000 people in one episode. (Norway pop ~5E06)

    For those who haven’t heard, SCOTUS declared in the Heller case (IIRC) that the 2nd is an individual right. I know, I know it’s a corrupt, blah, blah, SCOTUS (just like the ones that handed down decisions that I don’t agree with…)

    Those who oppose gun ownership in the US ought to ‘cowboy up’ and educate the public to their position, sell enough of them to get the needed political support, and amend the Constitution to change the 2nd Amendment to what they want.

    In fact, I have predicted it here before (just like BHO’s victory), the Left is going to win in the long run (another 20 years.) I think that if y’all push it too hard too soon you will get your civil war (as most Cracker history students believe we’ve not had the first one yet.) Then you can get the ethnic cleansing that many here have long desired.

    Of course, maybe some old Crackers said stuff like that back in Brown vs Board days…

    //bb

  17. Sarah Says:

    Set aside the "right vs. privilege" malarky for a moment, as that's based on a document written over two centuries ago when personal arms were a thing (and note that this was at a time when 'to bear arms' did not actually necessarily imply FIREarms, people still used edged weapons back then) and motorized vehicles were not. Why is it harder to get into a state where you are legally able to operate a car than a gun in some parts of this country? If 'bearing arms' is a sacred, unrestrictable right, why don't pro-2A folks support civilian ownership of high explosives? That's an arm. What is the material difference between an assault rifle and a rocket launcher? They both exist for the sole purpose of killing large numbers of people, it's just that one does it by piercing them and the other does it by blowing them up. What is the difference?

    If I had time to do the research, I'd look at that question from the other direction and ask what the sacred Founders had to say about civilian ownership of heavy artillery. The heavy artillery of their day was cannons. There must have been at least one nutcase who wanted to own one and was willing to go to court over it.

  18. Sarah Says:

    Blech, html failed me. That second paragraph above is mine, and the first one was quoted.

  19. Doctor Rock Says:

    An armed gunman, eh?

  20. Doctor Rock Says:

    No idea what other blogs Nick reads, but the outsized power lobbying groups hold over us is a pretty frequent topic. Yes, AIPAC, the AARP*, various agricultural lobbies. But I guess if we don't talk about them all at the same time even if it doesn't make any sense to do so, then we have a huge blind spot.

    *which, really, isn't nearly as destructive and doesn't deserve to be mentioned with the others here.

  21. witless chum Says:

    Doctor Rock,
    Has anyone on the left ever been so gauche as to criticize the financial industry?

    The argument that the NRA is successful because guns are popular is partly right, but mostly duh. How our politics works is that if you've got a well-funded lobby plus significant, though minority support, and a smaller group of basically single-issue voters, you can often get your way. Especially if you're basically trying to prevent the government from doing things. That's not attributing some kind of magic power to the NRA, it's attributing a sophisticated understanding of our system, it's veto points and patterns of pro and anti gun sentiment. If you take away the well-funded lobby part or the significant, but minority support part or the small group of single issue voters, it fails.

    The anti-immigrant crowd doesn't really have the well-funded lobby part and, maybe consequentially, doesn't have a big group of single-issue voters.

    And, I hope it doesn't lead to the ethnic cleansing I'm supposed to want in the paranoid imagination of morons, but gun violence isn't even the whole story.

    You've also got hundreds of accidental shootings and suicides by gun that actually outnumber homicides by a large margin. And, no, if we make guns less available or less common, all those suicides will not find another way or so research on people who are prevented in their suicide attempts or fail in suicide attempts suggests. The UK's experience with changing the type of gas piped into people's home also suggests that absent a quick, painless method of suicide easily available to hand many people do not kill themselves.

  22. Chris Says:

    I'm amazed at the complaints at the power of the NRA. The NRA isn't that big, it's coffers aren't as big as the opposition, and a significant number of gun owners don't support them for obvious reasons.

    In the Colorado recalls, the NRA donated $100,000 to their side. Bloomberg and his cronies donated $500,000 ($350,00 from Bloomberg himself) to their side, and they lost.

    So if money isn't a factor, and the NRA had less to spend then the opposition, then it must be the votes of people registered in that state that made the difference.

    What's more scary – that the NRA has some imagined magical power, or that voters in the American public don't agree with the rich elite on gun rights?

    What happened to "90% of Americans support gun control"? Where did that number go in Colorado?

    Oh yeah, it disappeared into smoke, because it's a made up statistic based on dishonest polling where the bias is built in to the question: "In order to prevent criminals, terrorists and the mentally deranged from easily obtaining firearms, do you support or oppose legislation that requires background checks be completed on every person that attempts to acquire a firearm?"

    Of COURSE people support the prevention of criminals, terrorists, and the mentally deranged from easily obtaining firearms. It's just misleading to run a poll like that, but hey, that's politics and marketing at work. We all support dishonest numbers when it works in our favor. There is a term political strategists use for wording polls to get the (often paid for) result: "push polling".

    @Isaac: he didn't "sneak in" an "assault rifle" or handgun. He took those from people he killed.

    @Doctor Rock: I didn't read Nick's comments as a need to address all problems with every large lobbyist group in this conversation… I thought he was merely pointing out our hypocrisy when we complain about the power of one group, and remain silent on another lobbyist (who is often larger and more powerful) when they are temporarily aligned with our political views. *Temporarily* is the important word, because they all seem to turn on the public and poison them at some time.

    @GunstarGreen: nice straw man. Also, I love how the 2nd amendment is apparently outdated. If that's your argument, then I can apply your logic to the first amendment. The founding fathers could have never foreseen modern free speech: the internet, social media, cell phones. There is no reason why the constitution should apply to modern speech technologies.

    Why stop there? Free speech zones make sense, because the founding fathers could never have foreseen public/modern transportation, which would allow more and more people to assemble to protest.

    Digital spying shouldn't count either, since the founding fathers could never have anticipated email and digital records. It shouldn't apply to electronic privacy, since it is virtual, not physical. I doubt they had computers in mind when the 4th was written.

    I could go on and on. But no, keep right on applying your logic selectively to suit your perceived needs at this time.

    Please, beg the government to take away MORE of your rights. Get organized! Devote money and your free time to restricting your own freedom! Donate money to Bloomberg. He could use your help.

  23. grumpygradstudent Says:

    Witless Chum,

    Yes, absolutely. As a person prone to depression, there's no way in 30 hells that keeping a gun in my house would make me safer. I can't imagine something more dangerous, actually.

  24. Chris Says:

    Oh look, the press has already started to point the finger at video games, too. http://gma.yahoo.com/navy-yard-shooter-aaron-alexis-angry-frustrated-vengeful-124906767–abc-news-topstories.html

    Christ. The media and politicians are so predictable.

  25. ladiesbane Says:

    The NRA went cuckoo a while back and the fearful-ignorant branch of the right wing are getting louder. Did anyone notice the NRA recall in Colorado? Why is that ho-hum? Is David Frum the only conservative saying Hey Guys Let's Talk Why Not? And whyinhell aren't more responsible (and left-wing) gun owners stepping up to head-check their own side? (I say this to all groups with a lunatic fringe.)

    I'm not changing the subject, but one of the reasons this incident is not shocking is because it's military. Not long ago the public became aware of the scope and prevalence of PTSD, comorbid disorders, and mental health problems in our service members and veterans. Then, it was shocking. Now, it's so commonplace as to be blase.

    Every day, two uniformed service members commit suicide (it's actually much higher, but it's said to help certain families). And every day, 16 veterans commit suicide. I don't want to burst any bubbles, but almost none of the proposed gun control regulations will affect those gun owners. And if you think all of those suicides will be going out alone, keep your eyes on the headlines.

  26. Talisker Says:

    @Matt: Congress fears the NRA. Correctly or otherwise, they believe it can make or break political careers. So at most they propose limited and ineffectual gun control measures, because they believe it is all that can be done without waking the dragon. I agree this makes them look weak and foolish and harms gun control in the long run; but it does come back to the power, perceived or actual, wielded by the NRA.

    @witless chum: Yes, exactly.

  27. John Danley Says:

    Per mike the mad biologist: "But the NRA is simply the public face of the gun traffickers. The organization that, in state after state, has successfully beaten down even the most minimal of gun murder prevention laws is the American Legislative Executive Council, aka ALEC. I’ve written about ALEC misdoings before–all you need to know is that, if there is a morally reprehensible position on any issue that allows someone to make a dirty buck, ALEC will lobby for it."

  28. Nick Says:

    ^Yup, the position of gun-rights advocates can be fairly described as "pro-murder." Thanks for the contribution.

    ladiesbane, a lot of us do. In the same way that most Christians don't agree with Pat Robertson, and the way most Muslims don't agree with Islamic extremists, most gun owners aren't a huge fan of the NRA's rhetoric–which is why, as I said above, the NRA comprises only a tiny fraction (about 5%) of the nation's gun owners. They're simply the loud ones, because Wayne LaPierre being a douchebag is a better headline than talking about those of us who are reasonable.

    Chris and bb said most everything else I wanted to, cheers guys.

  29. Daniel Says:

    Are the gun nutz still trying to convince the public they need these dangerous weapons for hunting purposes?? Why can't we TRY to regulate gun purchasing, Nick? Because, in your mind, it did fuck-all? Well, let's just give up then. Hell, start selling rocket launchers at Wal-Mart. Missouri is trying to legalize machine guns. Because, home protection! Or hunting! Or, sexual frustration!!

  30. Slothrop Says:

    Are you thick or something? The fact that most gun owners are not NRA members is beside the point. One of the core problems, like with many lobbying groups, is their outsized influence! But you seem to think its a devastating point that people here are somehow missing.

  31. Heisenberg Says:

    @Nick: Nobody wrote the words "pro-murder" except you. Whom exactly were you quoting? Seems like you're just twisting others' words to fit the narrative of persecution that we hear so often from the pro-gun side.

    We can't have a rational debate if you're not willing to be intellectually and rhetorically honest. Twisting others' words and constructing strawmen (in an escalatory way, no less) will only serve to degrade the debate into an irrational shouting match. But perhaps that's what you were going for all along.

  32. Doctor Rock Says:

    Bad numbers and push polling when it works in out favor? Hell yeah I support that. Politics is ugly sometimes, this handwringing is ridiculous. If dishonest numbers had helped get gun control passed I'd be for it. And the GOP already doesn't play fair so don't start.

  33. Tim Says:

    @Matt

    The first part of my comment, since you did not seem to realize, was directed at Ed. There's a lot of research, especially in econ, to show that people hardly act rationally. I was disagreeing with the notion that people are acting purely rational to give up on gun control (or to support/oppose it, as well).

    Now, lets deal with the non-sequitur that you seem so intent on shoving into this discussion. You've decided, like Nick, that the NRA is just one piddly lobby group among others. But you fundamentally misunderstand the difference between organizations like the NRA and the AARP, which can be broken down as focused vs diffuse interests. Representatives are always more responsive to the former. Money doesn't always buy equal influence, and organizational structure and mission makes a real difference. If you still cannot understand just how powerful an organization like this is, you need to read about the anti-saloon league and its role in prohibition.

  34. mothra Says:

    Oh, you pro gun boys and girls, relax. You can keep your guns. I think every time there is a mass killing with guns, y'all ought to have a little celebration to honor those that sacrificed so you can keep your guns.

    And…for all you folks blathering on about the two legislators who lost their jobs in CO–well, one of them barely won in the first place and probably would have lost on a re-election bid and those who were engineering the recall managed to make that recall ineligible for mail-in voting, which most voters in CO use–so turnout definitely affected the results there. Plus, what fucking waste of money: the law stays in place. Stupid ass shit. And Nick, I don't know where you got your numbers from, but the Denver Post stated that the NRA funneled $360,000 to support the recalls and Bloomberg's group funneled $350,000 to fight the recalls. So basically even money there.

    Oh, and also, really? The AARP? Okay, so you young kids think the olds are ruining the country because they get Social Security and Medicare? Guess what–the AARP is trying to preserve those things for you, too. Get out of your little short-sighted worlds and realize that maybe the organization has a little bit of a longer view. Someday you'll get old, too.

  35. Nick Says:

    Daniel, it's never the "gun nuts" who bring up hunting. It's always the gun-control crowd who brings up hunting in an attempt to "connect" with gun owners, and in the process show that they don't actually understand the point of the Second Amendment. As I said above, I'm in favor of universal background checks if they're properly implemented. But yeah, keep misunderstanding the entire debate.

    Slothrop: You've missed the entire point of my post. My point is that their influence is not actually outsized–they are a lobbying group like any other, perhaps more obnoxious, and with some influence certainly. But this idea that somehow the NRA is pushing policies that everyone hates against the will of the entire nation because they somehow hold all of Congress in magical thrall is a result, not of reality, but of an echo chamber among pro-gun control forces–i.e. "Everyone I know supports gun control and hates the NRA, therefore the NRA's success is due to their ability to somehow mind control Congress."

    Heisenberg: The post above mine referred to gun control as "gun murder prevention laws," implying that anyone who doesn't support those laws has no interest in preventing murders. This is about as intellectually honest as characterizing supporters of Roe v. Wade as "pro-stabbing babies." Please try to reign in your feigned nobility and respond to the topic at hand.

    Doctor Rock: At least you're honest about it. Personally, I prefer laws that are based on facts instead of intentional dishonesty and unproven assumptions.

  36. ladiesbane Says:

    @Nick: I hear that, because I'm a gun owning leftie who would love to see more registration and ownership/use limitation laws. But I truly don't hear a lot of responsible gun owners calling out the irresponsible ones, just as I don't hear a lot of religionists or Republicans calling out their nutty peers. Trying to soothe anti-gun opponents who dismiss all gun owners in a bunch, yes; trying to pull pro-gun extremists back to reason, not so much. Reasoning with nuts has a profoundly limited chance of success, but the action would establish that there are at least two separate groups of gun owners, helping those who lump us all together to tell us apart.

    And (omnibus point) believe it or not, there are a lot of mothers-milk gun extremists who are not nuts, and can be reasoned with IF they hear sensible lessons and not just scornful name-calling. Just because they were raised with a different mentality doesn't mean they are devoid of reason; but no one changes his mind based on being told, "Oh my god, if you're not already on my side, you're a hopeless, a moron, and a potential murderer."

  37. Heisenberg Says:

    @Nick: Your assumption of what someone else's words were "implying" is just that – an assumption. And in this case, you used that assumption to completely misquote your opponent (and then ignore the rest of his argument).

    Quotation marks are for quoting someone else's words. There's no need to use quotes if you're just going to make shit up.

  38. Nick Says:

    Ladiesbane, I think there's more than you may realize, at least judging from the pro-gun Facebook groups and blogs I'm a part of. It's generally fairly quiet though, and if you're not actually looking on pro-gun Facebook groups in the first place, the only gun owners you'll see in the news are the crazies. Again, they create better headlines; I can write a well-considered op-ed in response to the douchebag who showed up at a mall in Salt Lake strapped with an AR-15 to make a political point, but the douchebag story is going to get a hell of a lot more circulation than my op-ed.

    Heisenberg, if this were a peer-review paper you'd be correct. In casual discussion, however, quotation marks can be used sarcastically to make a point. For instance, if I characterize Putin's editorial in the Times as saying "Hey guys, we really need peace and human rights, just ignore the fact that I'm not big on either of those for now," it's not because Putin actually wrote those exact words.

    Also, welcome to the Internet! You'll get the hang of it eventually. You've already got the pedantry down, so that's a plus.

  39. Heisenberg Says:

    @ Nick: You're no slouch at pedantry yourself. Thanks for the kind words.

  40. Chuckles Says:

    I own guns, and I live in Colorado.

    I have been in a lot of discussions with other gun owners and I have to say that I am coming to the conclusion that "responsible" gun owners are a lot fewer and farther between then I would have thought a year ago. Maybe I am jaded by the events here in Colorado but my views on gun control have become more and more extreme largely because I think the average gun owner is incapable of logical thought on matters of gun control and I also have come to believe that the average gun owner has no business owning and operating a gun.

    I do think the lesson to be learned from Colorado is to not take the gun lobby for granted. They have been spreading this propaganda for years and its not going to be unwound overnight. Because of a lack of disclosure laws we really don't know how much weapons manufacturers spent in Colorado, but I can tell you first hand that the recall was bought and paid for and that by getting out there early and often the terms of the recall debate were set in stone long before money started flowing in from Bloomberg (that did not help by the way). I can't tell you how many people who are capable of examining other issues rationally told me with absolute certainity that these gun laws were not going to do anything to reduce violence (they had no evidence for that mind you) and that these gun laws were only about harming law abiding gun owners (again no evidence of any harm to law abiding gun owners).

    I think the point is that its visceral for a lot of Americans, but I hope that the take away message is that we can't give up. It's taken decades of NRA and weapons lobby propaganda to get to where we are now and its going to take a least that long to try to unwind it. Especially considering that we are going to be battling these lobbies the entire way. Just remember that the gun fetishists really don't have an answer besides that we just are going to have to learn to live with this violence and mayhem. Well I have a family now and that answer is just not ever going to be acceptable to me.

  41. Nick Says:

    Chuckles, you're creating the same false dichotomy that anti-gun lobbies tend to every time something like this happens–"Either we pass gun control (much of which has been tried before, none of which has been effective), or we do nothing and just decide to be okay with the occasional mass murder." Why not address mental healthcare? Why not end the War on Drugs (by far the biggest source of violent crime in this country)? Why not provide better funding for schools and for entrepreneurship in disadvantaged areas? Why not attempt to do a better job of identifying kids whose home lives are likely to contribute to instability, and address those situations? Nope, it's magazine restrictions or being A-OK with murder.

  42. Daniel Says:

    I kinda wish a politician would just say outright, "Yeah, I wanna take all of your guns away. All of them. Even some fucking peashooter." Talk about political suicide! It wouldn't do anything, but at this point I just want to see the gunners out there piss and moan some more. Just fuck with em. Nick, are you fine with Missouri wingnutz trying to legalize machine guns? I ask you, because you are the resident second amendment patriot on here.

  43. Daniel Says:

    I think most of the liberals on here are all about eliminating the War on Drugs, improving schools, mental health care, health care, etc. etc. Also making people reload more. All of it. You know, to IMPROVE society.

  44. Chuckles Says:

    I didn't create this false dichotomy. I just don't hear any answers from your side of the debate that aren't complete and utter bullshit. I have been lucky enough to travel a bit in my life and I have seen first hand that gun violence can be reduced and that gun control works. Addressing mental health care and ending the War on Drugs are great ideas, but in this instance they are excuses put forward to keep from having to address the actual issue and not attempts to do anything about gun violence. Plenty of other comparable countries out there with comparable mental health issues and comparable illegal drug problems. The biggest difference is that they don't have powerful firearms lobbies, they haven't allowed their streets to be flooded with guns and they don't have the levels of gun violence. I don't think its a coincidence that those things tend to group together.

  45. Big dog Says:

    I've owned a couple of rifles. I taught my kids to target shoot responsibly with a Savage 22. I inherited a deer hunting rifle from my father-in-law that I actually used to hunt with in Indiana. When not in use I kept my rifles in a locked closet. I never had the slightest objection to the registry of guns and would gladly have done so were it required. I think the argument that this is the first step to the confiscation of all weapons is absurdly spurious. Does the registration of my car lead to its confiscation by the government? The second amendment does contain the language "we'll-regulated." What exactly do you think the founders meant by that?
    Nick, why do you want to slip away from the argument to talk about health care, education and crumbling infrastructure? The issue seems to me to concern the reasonable regulation of firearms, but you don't ever want to go there, reasonable or not.

  46. Nick Says:

    Daniel, see Chuckles' answer. If gun advocates bring up things like mental healthcare or ending the war on drugs or funding schools as answers to violence, they're immediately dismissed as "excuses." Rather than finding things that might actually help, that both sides can agree on, we're forced to keep beating our heads against the wall over magazine size or some shit. Even if the changes are things the anti-gun people would normally support, for some reason they insist that nothing can be attempted unless we first try some stuff we've already tried, because to them the causal factor in violence isn't health related or socioeconomic, it's being able to go to a gun store. There's also the inevitable comparisons to other nations without any mention of the fact that A) homicide rates vary greatly between nations irrespective of gun laws, and B) that the nations with fewer shootings also generally have fewer stabbings, rapes, beatings, etc. despite the lack of a powerful National Beatings Association in the US.

    Big dog brings us to the other standard anti-gun refrain, that things he supports are therefore objectively reasonable. Personally, I think universal background checks are reasonable. I don't think it's reasonable to put the cost of those checks on private businesses. I also don't think it's reasonable to attempt to revive a shitty law from twenty years ago that had no effect (remember, Columbine happened during the AWB). More to your point, I don't understand why attempting to address the root causes of violence is somehow shirking the discussion, while blaming it all on the NRA is perfectly valid. Furthermore, it boggles my mind that anyone could look at the government's post-9/11 surveillance and detention programs and decide that they should be trusted with more information about citizens, and further that any suspicion that they'd ever abuse that information is redneck paranoia.

  47. Chuckles Says:

    Why the call for better mental health care is a BS excuse:

    1) The majority of the people suggesting such a thing are conservatives who despise paying taxes and think the government can't do anything right. Yet I am supposed to accept with a straight face that the answer that these people have come up with involves a massive government program at the expense of millions of tax payer dollars

    2) A program of screening for mental health care would screen out nearly every person suggesting such a program. In other words knowing what we know about the majority of mass shootings, how do you design a profile for those likely to be involved in mass shooting that doesnt include gun fetishism and hatred of authority?

    3) The same people suggesting better mental health care as a solution to gun violence would scream bloody murder and start up the calls for a revolution if we actually started basing gun rights on the ability to pass a mental health care screening.

  48. MS Says:

    Just a random interjection: the Connecticut legislature passed a law specifically to prevent the crime scene photos from Newtown from ever being released to the public. Yep! Even though they would have been released under the state freedom of information laws, the state raced to pass a law specifically for Newtown to prevent that from happening.

    Front-page, full color, above the fold photos of a room full of first grade students with their heads blown off might have been one thing that would actually change the insanity. But you'll never see them. Have to wait for the next batch to get killed, I guess.

  49. Nigel Says:

    I read this article and was truly saddened because of how true it actually is. The killings that happen everyday across this country are viewed as just another news story as we as a nation have become completely desensitized to gun violence. There will be no answer to this problem coming from any elected officials on any level because there will always be a backlash like what happened in Colorado. Our congress couldn't do anything about gun violence when one of their own colleagues was shot in the head! The entire discussion is being controlled by the gun manufacturers and the NRA, not the average citizen or gun owner.

    So it is with great sadness that I actually say this to the next person that goes on a shooting spree. If you choose to go on a shooting spree please do not come into my life and shoot and kill people around me that I love and care about. Please go the homes, schools, and offices of the gun manufacturers and the NRA officials and kill them, their families, and those they care about. Then and only then, after they have been directly affected by gun violence will the discussion about guns and gun violence will change and we as a country can have an actual dialogue about guns and gun violence and how to solve it.

  50. Jesse Says:

    The real failure here is the Prosecuting attorney who dropped charges to a misdemeanor. As a Federal LEO I see this a lot. Our AUSA's and ADA's fail to fully charge our violent offenders. This guy should be serving a 20 year sentence even if he simply had a felony the gun sale would have been prevented.

    People rail on the NRA but who makes up the NRA mostly law enforcement and military. We need to demand more of our prosecutors (take the teacher rapist in Montana where the girl committed suicide, the prosecutor offered a plea deal that guy should be locked up) especially with violent and sexual offenders. This guy was arrested twice but was let off easy for known felonies. The prosecutors are more responsible than the shotgun and GOVERNMENT controlled weapons (those two pistols are government issued).

    Policeone did a survey of verified LEOs and most agree the superb laws on the books need to be enforced but as law enforcement when we arrest someone it is up to the Prosecutor to charge. We see it all the time a real violent bad guy getting a misdemeanor.

    So its easy to say they appeal to lobbyists but honestly they have the support of police and the military personnel too. We want to fight crime but are told to write tickets or shoot tear gas into a crowd of people in San Francisco at the order of the (liberal) Mayor or get fired. Same Mayor then criticizes for following her.

    So before you hammer on the NRA who thousands of cops owe their life too. Take a look at all facets or in Criminal law The totality of the circumstances.

    We have designer drugs made by chemists, criminals can go to a machine shop and make a gun from scratch. so banning all guns like the Island country of the UK would be impossible (it has not worked there) Guns are still around.

    This guy sought mental help and was failed by that system. So was James Holmes and Adam Lanza. We were also failed by our prosecutors. Armed felon with a gun in NYC and the AUSA never took the case local ADA plea bargained it down. A known violent offender will be out in 3-5 instead of 20.

    Fix those things our violent crime will plummet. Combine that with minor infrastructure upgrades and instilling real security plans. That is where to start. Ban guns what happens to the 2 million people who use them for self defense? What happens when we have criminals use explosives like in Bath Michigan 46 dead our largest mass killing of school children.

    Blaming politics and enthusiasts won't fix things but the solutions already given will.

  51. Chuckles Says:

    Jesse. We already lock up more people than any other nation and we have the harshest criminal justice system that I am aware of in the entire world. I think the idea that we just need to get tougher on criminals is a joke.

    2 million people do NOT use guns for self defense. Using that ridiculous study as part of your arguement is absolute freaking bollocks. For Christ sakes that would mean that there were 5000 self defense gun uses per day. Find me evidence of 1/10th or even 1/100th of that number. More NRA propaganda aint helping the situation.

    And if we regulated guns like we regulated explosives in this country I highly doubt we would be having this discussion.

    Drives me right up the damn wall. Normally rational and constructive people seem to lose all sense of logic and common sense when it comes to guns. There is a boat load we could do to reduce gun violence in this country, including a lot that doesn't infringe on even the most wild eyed interpretations of the second amendment. Manufacturers lobbies oppose these ideas because it will cut into their profit margins, but I don't understand why the rest of us twirl around in circles coming up with any idea that we could use to reduce gun violence that doesn't actually involve doing anything about the obscene and ridiculous availability of guns in this country.

  52. Nick Says:

    Alright Chuckles, I'll go ahead and take your bait.

    1) This is exactly the bullshit I alluded to above. There was enough shock and outrage after Sandy Hook that the Democrats could have at least attempted to subsidize and expand mental healthcare. But they didn't, instead deciding that they were better off attempting to resurrect failed policy. And of course, that's all the fault of gun owners.

    2) Gee, I wonder why you don't have a lot of reasonable discussions with gun owners? I mean, it's almost like people aren't interested in logical, factual conversations once you've accused them of being crazy fetishist rednecks living in a militia compound instead of actually making a sound policy argument.

    3) When did I say that the mental health screening should be done as part of some kind of ownership license? No, I think there needs to be the gun-specific part that we've already implemented (although it's still in progress)–ensuring that people who have been judged mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed cannot purchase firearms (a provision which the NRA supported, BTW)–and more importantly, a mental health overhaul that addresses the issues long before the guy tries to buy his firearm. The way I look at it, if you've decided that murdering a couple dozen kids or coworkers or classmates sounds like a fine way to spend a morning, you're already too far gone. Bickering over whether one can buy a 30-round magazine in the face of someone who is sick enough to murder children is laughable. We need to ensure that people have access to the treatment they need long, long before that happens. Mental healthcare should be a part of the standard health screenings in schools. Mental healthcare should be subsidized for those who can't afford it or don't have it covered by insurance. There should be public efforts to de-stigmatize mental health care. Now, if the Republicans or other gun-rights advocates try to block those, I'll absolutely join you in calling them out for it. But to say "oh well they wouldn't support it so we can't even try, instead we need to try to pass a useless magazine restriction or something because that's a good use of our time and money and political capital" is ridiculous.

    I also agree with Jesse's post; "enforce the laws already on the books" may be a bit of a cliche, but it's nevertheless true. I'm absolutely in favor of harsh penalties for anyone who misuses a firearm, because keeping this guy from legally purchasing a gun after he shoots up someone's car seems to me a far more logical thing to do than letting him off with a slap on the wrist and then deciding that background checks at gun shows (which wouldn't have caught said slap on the wrist even if he'd gone to a gun show to purchase his firearm) are the real problem.

  53. Nate Says:

    I was still in shock about the cops gunning down a former college football player. He was unarmed and approaching the cops for help, because his car broke down.

  54. A Canuck Says:

    Dear Americans, You are fucked. That is all.

  55. Nick Says:

    Dear Canadians, at least we're not Canadian.

  56. Jason Says:

    Big Dog: "The second amendment does contain the language "we'll-regulated." What exactly do you think the founders meant by that?"

    It doesn't mean "regulated" as we see the term today. It meant well prepared, running efficiently, having the character of a professional militia/army.

    Chuckles: "Addressing mental health care and ending the War on Drugs are great ideas, but in this instance they are excuses put forward to keep from having to address the actual issue and not attempts to do anything about gun violence."

    Do you think gun violence exists solely because of the existence of guns? The drug war drives gun violence. Mental illness (not very often) drives some gun violence. Limiting magazine sizes or banning guns that are used to kill a tiny fraction of all gun murders does nothing to address the issue. They make people feel safer. Security theater, just like what we get in airports and such.

    "A program of screening for mental health care would screen out nearly every person suggesting such a program. In other words knowing what we know about the majority of mass shootings, how do you design a profile for those likely to be involved in mass shooting that doesnt include gun fetishism and hatred of authority?"

    Do some quick Googling on mass shooters. Short version: there is pretty much no effective profile for them.

    "I think the idea that we just need to get tougher on criminals is a joke."

    We shouldn't just be throwing more people in jail, we should be looking at what crimes get priority for harsher punishment. Straw purchasers rarely get prosecuted and the government spends little resources trying to get them. The latest mass shooter had not one, but two incidents of discharging a gun in public with no repercussions. That is insane.

    "2 million people do NOT use guns for self defense. Using that ridiculous study as part of your arguement is absolute freaking bollocks. For Christ sakes that would mean that there were 5000 self defense gun uses per day. Find me evidence of 1/10th or even 1/100th of that number."

    Huh. 1/100th? That's 20,000. Would you take the word of Anthony Hemenway, one of the most quoted researchers on the gun control side? He extrapolated, if my memory serves, a minimum of 60,000 defensive gun uses per year with the high end of the range being over 100,000. Other researchers have concluded that Kleck's estimate is likely too high, but Hemenway's is much too low. In any case, the number is at least double the total number of gun deaths of all types, and four times the number of gun murders. Note: at the time those studies were done, overall crime rates were much higher. Both Hemenway and Kleck are in agreement that whatever the number was at the time of those studies, it is much lower now.

    "There is a boat load we could do to reduce gun violence in this country, including a lot that doesn't infringe on even the most wild eyed interpretations of the second amendment."

    Such as? And it would be nice if you could make a rational case for these ideas to be effective rather than making people feel good.

    Finally, the one thing that just keeps getting glossed over: on balance, the national trend in the last two decades or so has been less gun control. During that time, all violent crime, including gun murder has fallen through the floor. I don't think the legal trend is the cause of that drop in crime. But we are at historically low levels of violent crime, and it sure as hell wasn't gun control that got us there.

  57. Tom Says:

    [Yes, I know that this requires a palatable assumption on population growth being uniform (in some sense), since population data is from 2007 and crime data is from 2010 (Thanks, Wikipedia!).]

    Wyoming has the highest gun ownership in country and a gun murder rate of about 0.9 (per 10^5 people). D.C. has lowest gun ownership in the country and a gun murder rate of 16.5 (per 10^5). To spell it out for y'all: The state where almost no one has a gun kills ~18 times more people than a state where well over the majority have guns. I don't mean to make a pro-gun argument, but, like, surely better understanding the mechanism driving the above stats would lead to less deaths.

    Effecting social change is cultural rather than juridical; legislation comes once the proles are begging for it (obvious topical e.g. is marriage licensing). They will beg once you can convince them, and, since most people are educated enough to be resilient to bullshit these days (these are people who have nothing to prove, btw, so don't use Twitter/Dumb Social Media to extol/denounce the virtues/offences of things to people they don't know [uh-oh, blog readers!]), they will only be convinced by actual evidence– not tribal/emotional/nonsensical showboating.

    (c) 2013 WTFPL

  58. Sharkbabe Says:

    Sick of human beings.

    Here's my proposal: a law that all persons be required to own and carry a loaded firearm at all times.

  59. Xynzee Says:

    Let's address the absolutist nature of gun ownership rhetoric which is: if we cannot prevent 100% of all crimes therefore gun regulation is of no benefit.

    1) Nick you advocate for better access to mental health services. Breivik as a Norwegian had access to affordable mental health care. Epic fail there. Guess we can take making mental health services available off the table.

    2) As laws do not stop violence and crime in 100% of all situations. Guess the only real solution is to get rid of **ALL** laws. Including murder.

    We've had laws against murder in one form or another for as long as we've had society.Yet people are still murdered. As these laws do not prevent murder in ALL cases let's just get rid of the prohibition.

    Yes Nick, that is exactly how silly the argument sounds.
    Because 100% is unachievable, then mowr gunzzz!!

    So shorter, as murder is unavoidable, then legalise murder. Makes sense to me.

  60. Nick Says:

    I suppose I should expect the complete and deliberate misunderstanding of all pro-gun arguments by now, but I'll bite anyway.

    The issue is not, as you and someone on the G&T Facebook both have claimed, that gun-control opponents believe anything short of perfection is failure. It's that we don't believe gun control works AT ALL. There's no evidence beyond speculation and assumption that gun control has actually worked anywhere it's been tried, whether on a local, state, or national level. The nations with stricter laws and fewer shootings have an equally lower number of other crimes, indicating that international differences are generally socioeconomic and/or cultural in nature rather than a result of gun laws (this is further evidenced by the fact that crime rates in those countries also do not fall as a result of the passage of new gun laws–note that Australia's homicide rate is statistically unchanged since 1993, despite a massive overhaul of gun regulations in 1996; England's gun crime rate actually rose after their post-Dunblane laws), and that interstate and intercity differences are generally socioeconomic in nature, as Tom points out.

    So no, I'm not rejecting gun laws because I think they're only somewhat effective. I'm rejecting gun laws because they DON'T. FUCKING. WORK. AT ALL. Mental healthcare reform may fail sometimes, but it's got a better chance of success than reviving poorly written laws that failed when we tried them before, or creating new poorly written laws that are equally useless.

    As for the blorb blorb that's like saying we shouldn't have laws against murder blorb, the point is that the nature of gun crime makes it inextricably linked to other crime. If you've decided to shoot someone, the criminal element is not that you've chosen to do it with a 12-round instead of a 10-round magazine, nor will the unavailability of said 12-round magazine prevent you from killing someone with a 10-round magazine. Therefore, laws against 12-round magazines are pointless. Get it now?

    I am in favor of restrictions that actually work. As stated above, I favor universal background checks (in the form of a phone line or website where private sellers can get an "up or down" answer on a sale, not in the form of forcing businesses to be liable for private transactions). I favor heavy penalties for misusing firearms, whether through negligence or malice (and to the genius above who stated that we shouldn't increase the prison population, maybe the fact that the prisons are so full of people who got caught with weed that we don't have room for people who shoot motherfuckers is part of the problem here). What I don't favor is laws passed on a "well we have to do SOMETHING, and guns are scary!" basis.

  61. Alan C Says:

    So I guess the tree of liberty is watered with the blood not of tyrants but of innocent bystanders.

  62. Tom Says:

    The tree of liberty is watered by the blood of everyone who participates, you doofus.

  63. Xynzee Says:

    Nick,
    Aus has some of the tightest gun control laws in the world.

    98% of all gun deaths are criminally related. As in drug gangs shooting at each other, or being shot by the cops during criminal activity.

    The rest are being a victim in a robbery (very rare), a hit (extremely rare — there's a case going through the courts now), accidents and the occasional crime of passion (none come to mind in recent history ie 5yrs).

    What's missing from this list? Some guy walking into his place of work and going postal. Someone pulling out a gun over a traffic altercation. Five y.o. Timmy didn't accidentally put a cap into three y.o. Suzie with his Little Gun Freak(TM) .22.
    We have not had a mass shooting since Port Arthur.

    Who says gun control does not work?

    Someone I work with was in the States and went to a Walmart. While he was looking at the guns. This guy is a farmer and was amazed at what you could get. The majority of it was, "WT..!! do you need that for??" weaponry, with no sensible application than to kill *people*.
    While he was there this guy came in absolutely ropable. Wanting bullets that would make a real mess of someone, an how he was going to shoot some guy. The sales clerk then sold the guy some derivative of hollow point. Then want on business as usual after the sale. "Welcome to America".

    I can understand not refusing service in that situ for the reasons CU gave, but to not call the cops?

    So good luck trying to buy rounds when you're in a mental state like that in Aus. Ain't going to happen.

    But then gun control measures do fuck-all eh?

  64. What the karp!?! Says:

    Last year in the Milwaukee area we had 2 mass shootings in less than three months. the first one, the Sikh Temple shooting was pretty jarring, I sat at the TV for hours wondering how many suspects were on the loose in an area I drove through several times a week. it was like an hours long morbid cock tease, waiting for more violence live from the choppers and the ground crews. The next one, the "Salon Shooting," well, I don't even really know how many died in that one. There was a "weren't we just across the street from there last weekend" kind of a moment, but we were all so sick of waiting to hear the latest from the previous one that I think we all just kind of knew it was a better idea just to check facebook the following morning to see if there was a lunatic in our neighborhood. Plus I think the second shooting happened during a Packers game. Anything going up against a Packers game is going to take a serious ratings hit.

  65. Talisker Says:

    @Nick:

    There was enough shock and outrage after Sandy Hook that the Democrats could have at least attempted to subsidize and expand mental healthcare.

    Any such attempt would have been stopped by House Republicans, who never shut up about how Obama's rather cautious health care reforms (closely based on Mitt Freakin' Romney's work in Massachussetts) will bring about the apocalypse.

    It is just laughable to suppose the modern Republican party would support a meaningful expansion of mental health care. I don't blame the Democrats for not trying.

    Wider changes to society — ending the war on drugs, anti-poverty efforts, and so on — might help too, but these are even less likely to make it through Congress.

    Australia's homicide rate is statistically unchanged since 1993, despite a massive overhaul of gun regulations in 1996

    Not so. There is some fluctuation from year to year, but the overall trend in total homicides, and homicides using guns, is clearly downwards: http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html

    If you've decided to shoot someone, the criminal element is not that you've chosen to do it with a 12-round instead of a 10-round magazine

    Fine. But if you've decided to shoot as many people as possible then a 30-round magazine has major advantages over 10 rounds. So why is it a good idea to allow them?

  66. GunstarGreen Says:

    @Chris: You are misunderstanding my argument entirely. I never said the 2A was 'outdated', I was simply heading off the usual "CARZ IZ A PRIVELEGE, NOT A RIGHT" rebuttal that always shows up when you mention how it's harder to legally drive than own a gun in this country. The only reason "the right to keep and drive motorized vehicles" isn't right up there with weapons is because they didn't exist at the time the document was written.

    See, the hilarious thing is that your sacred second amendment rights are ALREADY limited, in arbitrary ways. Is it legal for civilians to own nuclear devices? Why or why not? What about tanks or fighter jets? Why or why not? What about rocket launchers? Why or why not? This continues, on down the line, until you reach guns, where you are suddenly allowed to keep and bear arms. Why is that? What's the difference? It certainly isn't body count potential.

  67. Nick Says:

    I don't know how to do your fancy quote tags, so bear with me.

    Xynzee: "Five y.o. Timmy didn't accidentally put a cap into three y.o. Suzie with his Little Gun Freak(TM) .22."

    –This is not the epidemic you think. In 2011, there were 851 accidental firearm deaths, out of 122,777 accidental deaths overall. 0.69% of accidental deaths were firearm-related. In a nation of 300 million people, that's 0.28 deaths per 100,000. Each one is tragic, certainly, and even more so because every one is preventable. I fully support holding people liable for negligence in care of firearms, whether that means leaving it out for a kid to find or not clearing the chamber before cleaning it. But to imply that guns are inherently more dangerous than other household items, so much so that they should be restricted due to the potential for accidental deaths, is a bit disingenuous.

    "We have not had a mass shooting since Port Arthur."
    –Wikipedia lists seven mass murders (not counting a Port Arthur itself, or a gang shootout) from 1976 to 1996, and four mass murders since Port Arthur. The difference is that three of the mass murders were committed via arson (the other was in fact a shooting), though they had body counts as high or higher than many mass shootings here. It's hard to call a trend in such rare events, but the difference between 7 in 20 years and 4 in 17 years is not statistically significant. The main difference is that Australia as a whole is much less violent than the US.

    "[anecdotal evidence about a sale of ammo, as told by a coworker]."
    –The employee had a duty to refuse the sale if the circumstances were actually as told, and could be held liable if that's the case. I'm not convinced that they were, but even if they were, it's evidence that we should enforce existing laws, not write new ones.

    Talisker: "Any such attempt would have been stopped by House Republicans, who never shut up about how Obama's rather cautious health care reforms (closely based on Mitt Freakin' Romney's work in Massachussetts) will bring about the apocalypse.
    It is just laughable to suppose the modern Republican party would support a meaningful expansion of mental health care. I don't blame the Democrats for not trying.
    Wider changes to society — ending the war on drugs, anti-poverty efforts, and so on — might help too, but these are even less likely to make it through Congress."

    Why is it that "we won't get it done, so why bother?" is defeatist bullshit if we're talking about gun control, but perfectly legitimate if we're talking about mental health?

    In any case, I'm not defending Republican hypocrisy. I'm saying that if you want to address gun violence in the wake of a tragedy, do it in a manner that's actually been shown to have an impact on violence, and which would enjoy broad popular support. If the Republicans oppose it, so be it, but this argument of "Well, Republicans won't support measures that work, so instead we should introduce measures that won't work and also aren't supported by Republicans, and then blame the Republicans for our inability to try anything new" is bullshit.

    "Not so. There is some fluctuation from year to year, but the overall trend in total homicides, and homicides using guns, is clearly downwards: http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html"
    –This graph is a victim of something Ed discusses in an excellent post on polling that I'm too lazy to find right now. That line in the middle graph looks pretty convincing, but then you notice that the difference in the highest and lowest years is actually only about 25-30 murders. Australia has only a few hundred murders per year. Even adjusted for population, there are fewer total murders per capita in Australia than there are murders using only non-firearm weapons in America: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8. So even if you magically made firearms disappear overnight from the US, and none of the murders committed with firearms were then committed with replacement weapons, America would still have a significantly higher homicide rate than Australia. This is why I suggest the issue is cultural and socioeconomic, not gun law-related.

    Furthermore, this is taking into account that America's homicide rate actually has dropped significantly. Check http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state, down at the bottom of the page. Despite the fact that the FBI has recorded 100 million gun sales since 1998 (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics , and keeping in mind that the number doesn't include private sales), and despite the trend toward looser gun laws, the nation's homicide rate is the lowest it's been since at least 1970 by a significant amount. Furthermore, despite the 24-hour media cycle's constant stream of fear, violent crime on the whole has been steadily dropping for decades, and is now about half what it was in 1992 (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-1). This is a much more significant change than Australia's despite our penchant for violence.

    "But if you've decided to shoot as many people as possible then a 30-round magazine has major advantages over 10 rounds."

    Can you actually show this? There doesn't seem to be any correlation in mass shootings between magazine size and casualties. James Holmes used an AR-15 and a 100-round magazine and killed 12 people. The shooters at Columbine used shotguns, a rifle with a ten-round magazine, and a pistol with large-capacity magazines to kill 13 people. Charles Whitman used a bolt-action hunting rifle and a shotgun to kill 16 people. Seung-Hui Cho used two pistols, one with a ten-round and the other with a 15-round magazine, to kill 32 people. Jared Loughner killed six people with a pistol that had a 33-round magazine. And Aaron Alexis killed 12 people with a pump-action shotgun, despite Dianne Feinstein's assumption and immediate press release stating that an AR-15 was responsible. So there doesn't actually seem to be correlation between body count and weapon/magazine type.

    Gunstar: I don't see how the distinction between "small arms" and "nuclear weapons" is arbitrary. "Small arms" seems to me a logical interpretation of "arms suitable for militia service."

  68. Big dog Says:

    Nick, we all know that you are a concealed-carry aficionado. I try to imagine what goes on in the mind of an obviously intelligent guy like you when you walk out on the street with you metallic help-meet. Are you waiting for some bad guy to accost you so you can blow him away? Maybe you're looking for someone else in trouble so you can provide humanitarian service by killing the putative perpetrator. Truly my heart goes out to you for how you must look upon the world around you. It's so sad to think of the good that you might have accomplished in this world, rather than waiting for an opportunity to brandish and perhaps use your weapon.

  69. Nick Says:

    Well, my other comment is still awaiting moderation, so I'll go ahead and respond to Big dog's unusually insulting curiosity.

    I view carrying a gun in the same way I view putting on a seatbelt, or keeping a 3-day supply of food and water in my apartment, or occasionally checking the batteries in the fire alarm. I don't expect to get in a car wreck, I don't expect to be stuck in my home after a natural disaster, I don't expect my house to burn down, and I don't expect to ever have to use my gun. But I do believe in preparing, to a reasonable extent, for worst-case scenarios. The calculus might be different if I had kids or some other reason to worry about misuse of my gun, but I don't, so to me personally carrying a gun is a reasonable preparation. You may disagree, but it's hardly the Rambo wannabe scenario you're envisioning, nor does it preclude me from accomplishing anything good.

  70. bb in GA Says:

    A common complaint from the Left is that we on the Right are generically anti-government on a functional level.

    While perfection is certainly a never achievable goal, if the background checking system for both Security Clearance and Firearms purchases brought to you by 'Government' can't filter the Navy Yard Shooter with all his warts and red flags, then who the hell are they gonna catch?

    This kind of Fail stokes the cynical fires of 'It's all just a harassment game…"

    //bb

  71. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Nick,

    Perhaps the reason you feel such a need to "be prepared" is because in the US there are so many other people out there with guns. Maybe if you lived somewhere where there were far, far fewer guns on the streets you wouldn't even consider carrying a sidearm. Such a thing would likely seem silly, similar to wearing a football helmet while walking to work.

  72. Nick Says:

    Gerald, I've spent significant amounts of time in both Spain and England, as well as a great deal of travel throughout Europe and a bit in Central America. I feel no more threatened there than I do at home–which is to say, not very much. Like I say, I don't walk around believing that I may have to shoot someone at any moment, any more than the fire extinguisher in my car indicates a belief that my vehicle is likely to burst into flames.

  73. Gerald McGrew Says:

    "I don't walk around believing that I may have to shoot someone at any moment"

    So what protection does it offer? The data shows by carrying a gun, you are more likely to shoot someone you know, either accidentally or in committing a murder. Now, if the same could be said for fire extinguishers (e.g., you are more likely to start a fire with one than use it to put one out), I would see your point. But as it stands, from where I sit you're committing the fallacy of false analogy.

    Given your belief that you'll likely never have to use your gun and the higher statistical likelihood of something bad happening, I fail to see your rationale for carrying it in the first place.

    I mean, I have guns but they're always locked up unless I'm using them to hunt or get ready to hunt. I can't even imagine what process would lead me to suddenly think I need to carry them with me wherever I go. Maybe if I lived in an active war zone or something….but otherwise, no.

  74. Nick Says:

    Gerald: are you referring to the Kellerman study? If so, I suggest you review the numerous flaws in that study. In any case, there are two concerns you mention. First, accidental shootings. I'm a proponent of the maxim that "there are no accidental shootings, only negligent shootings." Safely carrying a firearm is not difficult if you're not an idiot. Second, murder. If I decide to murder someone, my carry permit will be irrelevant.

  75. Big dog Says:

    On smoke screens and fatuous divagations…mental health may play some role, probably minor, in actual murders, but usually the mental health of the perpetrators is determined after they have killed. As I understand, the Newtown massacrer's mother wanted him to receive psychiatric help and this desire ended up having him kill her. Nick, on smokescreens and fatuous divagation. you offer up mental health services as more useful than gun control efforts. The mental illnesses of gun-toting murderers seem to show up mostly after the fact. the Newtown children's murderer seems to have murdered his mother because she wanted him to get mental health care of some sort. Could any medical service have prevented this? I don't see the answer as positive. What would you have the medical services do about the Navy Yard killer? Should everyone hearing voices be locked up. Seriously, the smoke makes my eyes water. Criminals and crazies can get guns just about anywhere legal or otherwise, because millions of weapons, maybe tens of millions of them, are everywhere. The only reasonable approach to this is to work to decrease the number with by-backs and making gun ownership more difficult through training requirements and the like. I am not of the belief that the 2nd Ammendment protects the kind of freedom that you people demand. When the SCOTUS right wingers die off, we might get a better interpretation of what was actually intended by the Founders. Till then, I agree with Ed, we're stuck with you guys and your toys.y

  76. Nick Says:

    Mental healthcare in schools wouldn't prevent everything. Nor would universal background checks, harsher penalties on misuse of guns, ending the drug war, funding education, or anything else I've advocated. But it's a damn sight better than reviving things that have already failed and pretending that it means anything so we can sleep a little easier. And pretending as though requiring training pr offering a buyback would have stopped the Navy Yard shooter, while treating his PTSD wouldn't, is farcical.

    It's amazing how quick you go from "You can't say gun control is worthless just because it won't fix everything" to "We can't implement alternatives to gun control because they won't fix anything." The logical and intellectual disconnect is really astounding. But I guess it's more difficult to defend a position when said defense requires something more than "all gun owners are crazy rednecks."

  77. Jason Says:

    Talisker- "Fine. But if you've decided to shoot as many people as possible then a 30-round magazine has major advantages over 10 rounds. So why is it a good idea to allow them?"

    Nick already showed the questionable correlation, but I'd add something else. The latest mass murderer used a pump action shotgun that likely held no more than eight rounds *and* required manual cycling after each shot fired. Soo……? Do you not see the point? If we cut magazines down to ten rounds, would the thought process change? Would we then reason, "Well, he killed a bunch of people with a ten round magazine, why does anyone need that much?" And so on until we get down black powder muzzle loaders.

    I'd think it would be obvious that there are almost too many factors to count that affect the death toll in these incidents more than the magazine size. Number of potential victims present, their ability to escape or hide, their density, response time of authorities, the amount of preparation and skill of the shooter, and on and on.

    And towering above all of this is the fact that all murders committed in these horrible incidents represent a tiny fraction of total murders. If we prevented every single one of them, the murder rate would barely move. In the meantime, we do nothing to go after the root causes of the majority of murders; substance abuse, drug prohibition, income inequality, shitty healthcare system, an inherently unfair public education system, absurd prioritization in our criminal justice system, non-existent rehabilitation of offenders who are put back on the street, and on and on.

  78. Talisker Says:

    Why is it that "we won't get it done, so why bother?" is defeatist bullshit if we're talking about gun control, but perfectly legitimate if we're talking about mental health?

    Now you're putting words in my mouth. I would call it political realism. The fact is that in US politics, certain things will not be accomplished in the foreseeable future. Meaningful action against gun violence is one of them. That was the point of Ed's original post, with which I agree.

    In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, the Democrats calculated that a few additional restrictions on guns were feasible, but massive expansion of mental health care wasn't. It turned out they were wrong about the first part, but that doesn't make it an unreasonable calculation.

    This is why I suggest the issue is cultural and socioeconomic, not gun law-related.

    How totally amazing. There are differences between Australia and the USA other than their gun laws. I would never have known that without your helpful and relevant explanation.

    Seriously though, you said the murder rate in Australia was statistically unchanged. This is not the case. So far as one can tell with a small sample size (ie. not many murders each year), the murder rate is declining. This may or may not be the result of gun law changes, but it is at least plausible that the laws had something to do with it.

    If you have a proper statistical argument I'd like to hear it, but "La, la, la, I can't hear you" doesn't qualify.

    So there doesn't actually seem to be correlation between body count and weapon/magazine type.

    So you claim a few hundred Australian murders aren't enough data points to say anything about correlation, but six arbitrarily chosen mass shootings are just fine. I'd lay off the statistical inference altogether if I were you.

    As I recall, large magazines were involved in the Giffords shooting in Arizona and at Sandy Hook; and more than one mass shooter (definitely the Giffords one) was overcome by bystanders while he was changing magazines. But we don't need to rely on statistics here. Large magazines allow you to fire more bullets without reloading. All else being equal, this enables you to kill more people in less time. That's what they're damn well for.

  79. Talisker Says:

    @Jason: See my response to Nick above.

    Obviously the law needs to draw a line between guns which have legitimate civilian use, and guns which don't. I think we can agree that shotguns belong on one side of that line, and anti-tank missiles on the other.

    I think we also agree that there is (so to speak) no magic bullet which will halt gun violence in the USA. Any attempted remedy can only change the probabilities.

    How many rounds is enough for hunting, target shooting, and self-defence? 10? 8? A 6-shot revolver was enough for Dirty Harry. There is room for reasonable disagreement on this point, but I think 30 is excessive for anyone except a soldier or criminal.

    In the meantime, we do nothing to go after the root causes of the majority of murders; substance abuse, drug prohibition, income inequality, shitty healthcare system, an inherently unfair public education system, absurd prioritization in our criminal justice system, non-existent rehabilitation of offenders who are put back on the street, and on and on.

    I agree entirely. But this is not a reason to take gun laws completely off the table.

  80. Talisker Says:

    @Nick again:

    Safely carrying a firearm is not difficult if you're not an idiot.

    For the most part, laws are not there to protect us from responsible, intelligent and emotionally stable people.

    Making firearms freely available means that some of them will be obtained by idiots. Children of idiots, people who get into arguments with idiots, innocent bystanders who happen to be near idiots, and the idiots themselves will be shot and killed. It's not a question of *if* this happens, but *how often*.

  81. Townsend Harris Says:

    Nick wrote "quotation marks can be used sarcastically to make a point."
    Why not use paraphrase marks? Their use is a long-standing way to tell readers 'I'm translating Putin into plainer English.'

  82. Jason Says:

    Talisker-
    "How many rounds is enough for hunting, target shooting, and self-defence? 10? 8? A 6-shot revolver was enough for Dirty Harry. There is room for reasonable disagreement on this point, but I think 30 is excessive for anyone except a soldier or criminal."

    I don't frankly care how many rounds YOU think is enough for any of those tasks. There are shooting sports that utilize "large" capacity magazines. As for self defense, again, who gets to decide what is adequate and what isn't? Strange that damn near every police agency in the country issues guns with "large" capacity magazines to their officers if they don't have legitimate self defense purposes.

    And you missed my point. So you think 30 is too many. Post Sandy Hook, 15 was too many. The Navy Yard guy carried a six or (at most) eight round shotgun that wasn't even semi-automatic. Tell me what the magic number is. Do you deny that the factors I listed are more important than number of rounds? Magazine restrictions AT BEST, would reduce by some small number the body count in a tiny number of crimes that represent a miniscule fraction of total homicides. And that's if you managed to make it work. There are already tens of millions of these in circulation and I think we agree that no politician is stupid enough to say the word "confiscation".

    Magazine limits are like looking at teenage pregnancy and proposing that we ban Katy Perry music because one tenth of one percent of teen moms report having it on in the background when they have sex. You're addressing a virtually insignificant part of the problem and doing it with a law that likely won't even work because it doesn't address the actual problem, just one small mechanical aspect of it.

    "I agree entirely. But this is not a reason to take gun laws completely off the table."

    There is always a reason to take ineffective and irrational laws off the table.

    "Making firearms freely available means that some of them will be obtained by idiots."

    This is the case for any number of consumer products that accidentally kill far more people than firearms. And those are even easier to get than guns.

    "Children of idiots, people who get into arguments with idiots, innocent bystanders who happen to be near idiots, and the idiots themselves will be shot and killed. It's not a question of *if* this happens, but *how often*."

    I don't even know what you are saying. Are you saying that there should be an IQ test for gun ownership? Mandatory gun safety classes? How exactly do we keep the lowly "idiots" from legally owning something? Are you aware that gun accident rates are, like crime rates, at or near all time lows?

  83. Nick Says:

    "Now you're putting words in my mouth. I would call it political realism. The fact is that in US politics, certain things will not be accomplished in the foreseeable future. Meaningful action against gun violence is one of them. That was the point of Ed's original post, with which I agree.

    In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, the Democrats calculated that a few additional restrictions on guns were feasible, but massive expansion of mental health care wasn't. It turned out they were wrong about the first part, but that doesn't make it an unreasonable calculation."

    –Okay, so why are there now more calls for gun control, or at least lamentation at the lack of gun control? If it's all political realism, why aren't they at least giving something else a shot?

    "How totally amazing. There are differences between Australia and the USA other than their gun laws. I would never have known that without your helpful and relevant explanation."

    –My point is not that HOLY SHIT THEY'RE DIFFERENT PLACES AND THIS IS TOTALLY NEW INFORMATION. My point is that people like Xynzee who claim that gun laws are responsible for America's unusually high crime rate compared to other Western nations is misguided. I guess I didn't quite explain that slowly enough.

    "Seriously though, you said the murder rate in Australia was statistically unchanged. This is not the case. So far as one can tell with a small sample size (ie. not many murders each year), the murder rate is declining. This may or may not be the result of gun law changes, but it is at least plausible that the laws had something to do with it."

    –I personally don't consider going from 325 to 300, with several spikes in both directions, all that significant a change. But if you do, I suppose good for you. In any case, if gun laws were responsible, then why has the US's crime rate dropped much more precipitously despite liberalization of gun laws and more common concealed carry?

    "So you claim a few hundred Australian murders aren't enough data points to say anything about correlation, but six arbitrarily chosen mass shootings are just fine. I'd lay off the statistical inference altogether if I were you."

    –Are you deliberately obtuse or just bad at reading comprehension? It's strange that you see no issue with Xynzee's claim that because they've gone from 7 mass murders in 20 years to 4 mass murders in 17 years, gun control works, but you have an issue with examples related to your assumption. So I'll rephrase: You treat the idea that larger magazine capacity = more fatalities in mass shootings as a foregone conclusion. It's difficult to draw any sort of overarching statistical data from such rare events–keep in mind, despite the media hype, mass shootings still comprise less than one tenth of one percent of all homicides in the United States (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-17/mass-shootings-fuel-fear-account-for-fraction-of-murders.html)–so I presented individual examples. Presumably you have a factual argument beyond "well well but they're OBVIOUSLY more deadly!"

    "For the most part, laws are not there to protect us from responsible, intelligent and emotionally stable people.

    Making firearms freely available means that some of them will be obtained by idiots. Children of idiots, people who get into arguments with idiots, innocent bystanders who happen to be near idiots, and the idiots themselves will be shot and killed. It's not a question of *if* this happens, but *how often*."

    Fair point. This is why, as I said above, I favor harsh penalties for people who misuse guns through negligence as well as malice. But the existence of approximately 851 total idiots a year in a nation where 80 million+ own firearms is not exactly an epidemic. In any case, anyone who drives can tell you that licensing in no way prevents or negates idiocy.

    As for "legitimate civilian uses" like hunting, I hate to bring this up because of how much people here tend to wish that gun ownership was not actually a right, but the Second Amendment has fuck-all to do with hunting.

  84. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Nick,

    I still don't understand your rationale for carrying a concealed weapon. You say you feel no less safe where you live than in countries with much lower crime rates and gun ownership, and apparently you rely heavily on your counterparts (other people carrying guns) to not be negligent or idiots.

    As I said, the only reason I could ever think of to carry one of my guns around with me wherever I go is to protect me from other people with guns. Thus, the more obvious remedy is to not allow regular people to walk around the streets with guns.

    I can't even imagine the mindset one must have to think, "I'm going to the grocery store/bookstore/library/soccer field/golf course/gas station/brew pub….better get my gun".

  85. Gerald McGrew Says:

    The "let's let regular citizens carry a concealed weapon" mentality produces incidents like this…

    http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/268289/280/Enraged-drivers-shoot-kill-each-other

    …where what would otherwise be angry confrontations easily become shootouts.

  86. Jason Says:

    Gerald McGrew-
    Would it not be more relevant to look at the total rates of criminality among permit holders? Do you really want to get into an anecdote fight? Because I can cut and paste literally dozens of news stories of people with permits using them in self defense. Permit holders now number around 10 million, nearly one in thirty Americans. you can't select a group of 10 million people of any kind and not have some assholes in the mix.

  87. Jason Says:

    People with permits using their guns in self defense is what I meant. Yeesh, I need to pay more attention.

  88. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Jason,

    But again, what exactly justifies them carrying guns in the first place? "Self defense" against what?

    From what I can tell, it's self defense against other people with guns. Thus as I said earlier, the more obvious remedy is to not allow regular people to walk around the streets with guns.

  89. Jason Says:

    Gerald-
    You do know that criminals carry guns illegally, right? And that self defense doesn't mean you can only use the same weapon as the attacker. And that sometimes there are multiple attackers (yes, I can provide news stories with that circumstance).

    So we eliminate carry permits and then what? Criminals say, "Well now that legal carry is gone, I'll stop carrying illegally,"? Permit holders have lower rates of criminality, including gun crimes, than the general public. And if news stories are representative, they use their guns for legal purposes many many times more than illegal.

  90. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Jason,

    The problem is, what you describe inevitably leads to an arms race, where citizens and criminals are always seeking to "out-gun" each other.

    Further, you seem to be promoting the logic of "Criminals will always carry guns no matter what we do, therefore we must allow everyone to carry guns wherever they go".

    I sincerely hope the flaws in that logic don't need to be explained.

  91. Jason Says:

    Gerald-
    No, not too many people are trying to "outgun" anyone. That's nonsense. Criminals don't carry guns for maximum effect, most of the time they carry inexpensive pieces of junk. People who carry legally typically value small, lightweight guns that conceal well comfortably, not the most powerful hand cannon available. More importantly, I'm not worried about legal carriers. I know that they are less likely to harm me than someone who doesn't have a permit.

    And yes, criminals *will* always carry guns no matter what we do. I mean, short of metal detectors in the streets and somehow confiscating every gun in the country. They are criminals. They don't care what the concealed carry laws say. I think the deterrent value of laws against illegal concealed carry is minimal, those laws exist more for adding penalties to other crimes.

    Furthermore, plenty of violent crimes are committed by people using weapons other than guns. The criminal also always has one inherent advantage: he knows he's going to attack you. They also frequently select victims based on physical mismatches. Guns can be great equalizers for those who can't fight or run their way out of a violent crime.

  92. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Jason,

    Well, I guess that's where we differ. You take "bad guys with guns" as a given that we can do absolutely nothing about, so we might as well carry a gun ourselves just in case, whereas I look at other countries and see that yes, rates of gun possession by criminals can indeed be reduced.

    IOW, your mindset seems to be "The world's a violent dangerous place, so I carry a gun", completely oblivious to the fact that by carrying a gun with you almost everywhere, you are making the world more violent and dangerous.

  93. Talisker Says:

    @Jason

    As for self defense, again, who gets to decide what is adequate and what isn't?

    Elected representatives get to decide. I'm a voter. What's your point?

    I assume you're not arguing against any form of restriction on personal firearms. I'm sure a fully automatic AK-47 is just jim-dandy for defending yourself, but I really don't want to live in a society where most people carry one down the street.

  94. Talisker Says:

    @Jason again:

    You're addressing a virtually insignificant part of the problem and doing it with a law that likely won't even work because it doesn't address the actual problem, just one small mechanical aspect of it.

    As a matter of fact, I agree about 80% with what you're saying. I just take issue with the illogic of saying that restrictions on magazine size can't possibly do any good.

    BTW I'm talking about gun violence in general, not just mass shootings. If you're a criminal who wants to spray bullets around and doesn't care how many bystanders get hit, then large magazines are rather useful.

  95. Talisker Says:

    @Nick:

    OK, I let my sarcastic side get the better of me. I admit I was being a little too rude there.

    If it's all political realism, why aren't they at least giving something else a shot?

    I can't speak for all of "them". I don't even know who "they" are.

    It's strange that you see no issue with Xynzee's claim that because they've gone from 7 mass murders in 20 years to 4 mass murders in 17 years, gun control works, but you have an issue with examples related to your assumption.

    I overlooked what Xynzee said. Mea culpa. In a statistical sense, he's wrong too.

    You treat the idea that larger magazine capacity = more fatalities in mass shootings as a foregone conclusion.

    As I said to Jason, I don't just mean the classic "going postal" mass shooting. I mean any case where a criminal or madman starts spraying bullets around indiscriminately. Serious question — if large magazines are no good for killing things, what is the point of them? Convenience on the firing range? Duck hunting with a handgun?

    I think we can agree that there is a whole range of complex social and economic factors at work here. Switzerland and Somalia both have lots of guns, but one has a much higher murder rate.

  96. Talisker Says:

    @Nick, continued:

    It's one thing to say that gun laws are only part of a big picture. I agree with that. But it's quite another to say that gun laws, and the number of guns in circulation, are of no relevance whatsoever. You certainly seem to be arguing that.

    Like-for-like comparisons are hard to come by, but here's one: Consider the cities of Seattle and Vancouver. Socially, culturally, economically, they are very similar. Of course, Vancouver is in Canada and has fewer guns and much stricter gun laws. It also has a homicide rate one-sixth of Seattle's.

    (That statistic is from memory and may be out of date, but you get the idea.)

    If you think those extra homicides are a price worth paying for all the benefits of widespread gun ownership, fine. Stand up and take pride in it, if that's what you believe. But pretending guns have nothing to do with murder rates just doesn't make sense to me.

  97. Big dog Says:

    Nick, holy shit talk about logical fallacies….you assert somewhere above that the assault weapons ban was a failure because the Columbine massacre occurred while the ban was in place. Your conclusion seemed to be that the law was bad because someone violated it (this turns out not to have been the case, but more on that later.) now truly that is not a position that you want to hold for a real long time, smart whip that you are. Following your logic, since there are murders that take place and laws against such don't seem to be stopping them, then lets just get rid of those laws. Nether you nor I nor anyone else knows how effective the ban actually was, but it certainly reduced the number of these killer weapons for ten years.
    For your information, the TEC-DC9 used in the Columbine massacre was made by aMiami gun maker while the debate over the ban was on-going in Congress. He tripled production to beat the ban. The gun therefore was not in violation of the ban. What the violation was had to do with providing one of these weapons to a minor. The purchase was made by an adult friend and therefore legal. That the friend transferred the weapon to the killers was a violation of the law and that person was prosecuted.

  98. ladiesbane Says:

    This is turning into the religion versus science debate. What I really would like to see are suggestions for a workable solution. Personally, I'm in favor of gun registration, reclassification of certain weapons to prohibit private ownership (just as I can't own a grenade launcher), mandatory safety training, background checks preventing sales to violent criminals or anyone with a history of serious mental illness, strong punishment for any type of abuse, and permanent revocation of ownership rights for serious abuse of ownership. As a godless commie liberal gun-owner, I personally am fine with those reasonable boundaries.

    And I think they would cut down a lot of risk. But will it prevent idiots from leaving their guns within reach of children? No. Will it keep disgruntled former employees from going postal? No. Will it prevent suicides? No. Will it prevent mass murders? It might lower the body count, which is important, but prevent mass murder altogether? No.

    So all the folks who are sad and scared and outraged at gun deaths, I am right there with you, but nothing short of a blanket ban is going to change a thing — and then only if you have a magic wand to whisk away all the guns currently in circulation.

  99. Jason Says:

    Gerald-
    "Well, I guess that's where we differ. You take "bad guys with guns" as a given that we can do absolutely nothing about, so we might as well carry a gun ourselves just in case, whereas I look at other countries and see that yes, rates of gun possession by criminals can indeed be reduced."

    I have suggested that direct, aggressive action against straw purchasers could reduce the number of illegal guns in circulation. But yes, in a country with north of 300 million guns already out there, our political system, and our gun culture, it is largely impossible to keep guns out of criminals' hands. Reduce? Sure. But not by any miraculous rate.

    "IOW, your mindset seems to be "The world's a violent dangerous place, so I carry a gun", completely oblivious to the fact that by carrying a gun with you almost everywhere, you are making the world more violent and dangerous."

    I have added no violence to the world and it is incredibly unlikely that I ever will, as the odds of needing it are very low. Same goes for the vast vast majority of gun owners. Despite being a good driver, I present more risk to society every time I get on the road than I do when I carry.

    Talisker-
    "Elected representatives get to decide. I'm a voter. What's your point?"

    Wonderful. One thing I know is that the public and our politicians are so knowledgeable about all things gun. Yes, that was sarcastic.

    "As a matter of fact, I agree about 80% with what you're saying. I just take issue with the illogic of saying that restrictions on magazine size can't possibly do any good."

    I'm saying that given the very small number of crimes where large numbers of rounds are fired, and given that tens of millions are already in private hands, a ban on magazines over a certain size will have no measurable effect.

    "BTW I'm talking about gun violence in general, not just mass shootings. If you're a criminal who wants to spray bullets around and doesn't care how many bystanders get hit, then large magazines are rather useful."

    This is what I mean. The average number of rounds fired during gun crimes is very low, much lower than any "large" magazine's capacity. And again, I'm waiting for someone to tell me what the magic number is. Our latest killer used a six or eight round pump action shotgun. So why not say that six or eight rounds is too much?

    Big Dog-
    "Nether you nor I nor anyone else knows how effective the ban actually was,"

    Actually, there's a good deal of research on that.

    "but it certainly reduced the number of these killer weapons for ten years."

    Not really. Yes, it reduced the number of NEW weapons that fit the precise description in the law. But most manufacturers made simple cosmetic changes to their "banned" guns and sold those instead. As for "deadly weapons" yes, of course they can kill. But more people are beaten and kicked to death every year than die from ALL long guns, that is shotguns, hunting rifles, AND so called assault weapons. They are used in well under 500 murders per year. Therefore, even if the law had stopped every murder that would have happened with an "assault" weapon, you basically wouldn't be able to reliably measure the effect.

    "For your information, the TEC-DC9 used in the Columbine massacre was made by aMiami gun maker while the debate over the ban was on-going in Congress."

    This is what I'm talking about when I mention the public or politicians making decisions about magazine sizes and such. The anti-gun people managed to turn the TEC-9 into an almost sentient murder machine. The reality? It was a lousy over-sized 9mm handgun. That's all. It wasn't a machine gun and it wasn't any more dangerous than a run of the mill handgun. But it looked scary and was used by bad guys in movies a lot.

    "He tripled production to beat the ban. The gun therefore was not in violation of the ban."

    He also later made some of those cosmetic changes I mentioned to continue to sell the same gun during the ban.

    "What the violation was had to do with providing one of these weapons to a minor. The purchase was made by an adult friend and therefore legal. That the friend transferred the weapon to the killers was a violation of the law and that person was prosecuted."

    The gun was purchased with the intent to transfer it to an ineligible person. That's a straw purchase. That's a law whose violation is rarely prosecuted to its full extent.

  100. Halcyon Says:

    ladiesbane:

    Strict liability and insurance. I can't remember now where I read the suggestion, but it seems to me to solve the problems we're having. You want to own a gun? Fine. It will be registered, like a car, and like a car, *you will be required to carry liability insurance on it.* You are then free to own as many guns as you want provided you can cover the insurance for them. Let the insurers set the rates based on what *they* determine are the risk factors. Let's make the free market work in our favor for once.

    Of course, for the fuckwits who don't insure them, they're on the hook for strict liability for those murders or injuries. And, yes, if someone steals (or "steals") your gun and shoots someone with it, you're on the hook then too if you don't report it. That takes care of straw purchasers. Hell, include gun manufacturers for liability for unregistered newly produced guns.

    Everybody wins. Own as many guns as you want. Pay for the insurance against it being used catastrophically. When that happens, the victims (or their families) are covered. If we're going to be the land of a ridiculous amount of guns, fine. But let's just see exactly how much it's going to cost.

    Oh, and I think I just created a few thousand new jobs, because I'm that fucking awesome.

    So: Strict liability and insurance. Let's get on that shit.

  101. Big dog Says:

    Halcyon, good post…..but

    Nick and Jason…David Frum a guy who usually speaks from your side of the mouth, offers this on the Daily Beast.

    Gun rights advocates insist that the US faces a choice between the status quo ad the
    Repeal of the 2nd Amendment and the mass confiscation of firearms. This is false,
    Improved gun safety no more requires a gun ban than improved auto safety demanded outlawing cars….It's not all or nothing….moderate steps could achieve substantial results…The goal is not to reduce the level of violence to zero, any more than it is to stop all auto fatalities.

    Now maybe you guys think that seat belt laws are dangerous impositions by an out-of-control government, but those lilly-liveried, tree-huggers who appreciate human life and safety like me and maybe two hundred and eighty-million other folks see the wisdom in these kinds of laws. Speed limits save lives. Limiting the proliferation of guns will do likewise.

  102. ladiesbane Says:

    Halcyon, you might have been speaking facetiously, but I totally agree. Why haven't insurance companies spent their lobbying dollars to push that legislation? Beyond the basic liability policy, they could sell additional coverage for medical bills, wage replacement, permanent damage, property damage…it's a huge opportunity. The first ninety days of coverage should be included in the sale of new or factory refurbished weapons. Get a package deal from your home / auto carrier. Face serious consequences for failure to insure.

    But here's the kicker: no ammo sales without proof of current coverage for the weapon matching the ammo.

    This could be huge.

  103. Southern Beale Says:

    Two things will change this:

    1) When the son or daughter of someone in power is a victim;

    2) When people are so terrified that they stop going to movie theaters, shopping centers, Starbucks, etc. (i.e., stop buying shit).

    Then and only then …

  104. Jason Says:

    Big Dog-
    "Nick and Jason…David Frum a guy who usually speaks from your side of the mouth, offers this on the Daily Beast."

    Whoa, excuse me, Frum is usually on my side on what issue?

    "Gun rights advocates insist that the US faces a choice between the status quo ad the "Repeal of the 2nd Amendment and the mass confiscation of firearms."

    Full stop. Complete bullshit. I've listed plenty of measures I think could reduce gun violence, including some that directly attacked the illicit gun market. Frum is full of shit.

    "Improved gun safety no more requires a gun ban than improved auto safety demanded outlawing cars…."

    Then tell that to the people who want to ban entire classes of weapons and accessories! We're not making this shit up.

    "It's not all or nothing….moderate steps could achieve substantial results…"

    Which. Ones. And who defines "moderate"?

    "The goal is not to reduce the level of violence to zero,"

    Red herring, no one said that it was.

    "Now maybe you guys think that seat belt laws are dangerous impositions by an out-of-control government,"

    Nope. Sorry.

    "but those lilly-liveried, tree-huggers who appreciate human life and safety like me and maybe two hundred and eighty-million other folks see the wisdom in these kinds of laws. Speed limits save lives. Limiting the proliferation of guns will do likewise."

    Yet crime continues to drop even as gun sales explode and more people than ever are legally carrying them.

  105. Southern Beale Says:

    Halcyon & Ladiesbane:

    After Newtown I asked my Congresscritter (a Dem) why we didn't have mandatory liability insurance for gun ownership. He said it's because the insurance industry doesn't have a federal regulatory thing, it's all state-by-state. So no one federal law can affect state insurance regulations.

    I think it's a brilliant "free market" idea, however.

  106. ladiesbane Says:

    Southern Beale, I think there's more at play there than your Congresscritter knew, but I'm cynical after years in the insurance industry. And for what it's worth, I quite agree that lawmakers will make laws when, and only when, a Republican official's cute blond daughter is involved in a school shooting or some such. They sure didn't care when Gabby Giffords was shot. But it's what got Republicans off the pot for mental health, and it's all that will work here, too. "It stops being trivial when it starts being you."

  107. Southern Beale Says:

    ladiesbane,

    Well maybe, my question to him was more like, "why can't YOU file a bill requiring this," and the answer was because it's a state issue. So people can certainly lobby their states.

    I often thought the insurance industry would just LOVE to have a mandate for guns, why wouldn't they? More money for them. I guess we need to Occupy ALEC or something.

  108. Halcyon Says:

    I actually wasn't kidding. It was facetious only in that I can't see it happening. I really like the bit about ammo sales requiring proof of insurance though! Hadn't thought of that aspect.

    Although I admit my bit about liability would've included all those things you suggested as mandatory coverage. You're on the hook for *all* of it in my theory. Police have to respond to a shooting? The gun owner gets the bill for their time and the time it takes to investigate and fill out the paperwork. Plus any injuries, including medical and lost wages and emotional damages and all of it. Somebody sprains an ankle running away? The gun owner is on the hook for *that* too. Strict and *complete* liability. That's the only real way to bring the costs to bear on the industry and owners. A human getting shot should be financially problematic to *someone*, in this working. Deaths, even accidental, should mean someone is going bankrupt (or their insurance fees are going to be terrifying from then on, if they can even afford them).

    And, sure, this might admittedly be extreme, but as an opening position it seems about right. By the time it wound through Congress I expect we'd get a mushy middle-ground, but that would still be an improvement.

    I still like the ammo thing though. That stays in.

  109. Big dog Says:

    Jason… As to your earlier comment "clarifying" the 2nd Amendment, I am truly impressed that you are able to call up James Madison on your weiji board to get the straight scoop. Unfortunately, many legal scholars think that the actual language is ambiguous. But you are in good company with Scalia and his crowd who think that the word "bear" in the Amendment means any weapon you can carry, such as bazookas and the like. What fun it would be to blow away all those Hummers!

  110. Jason Says:

    Big dog:
    No talking to the dead ability is needed. Look at how the word was used in contemporaneous and relevant text:

    From the Federalist Papers:
    "To oblige the great body of the yeomanry and of the other classes of the citizens to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people and a serious public inconvenience and loss."

    Now tell me, does that work better going by the definition I gave you or does it make sense to substitute the modern meaning there?

    From The Journals of the Continental Congress:
    "Resolved , That this appointment be conferred on experienced and vigilant general officers, who are acquainted with whatever relates to the general economy, manoeuvres and discipline of a well regulated army."

    Again, does that sounds like today's meaning? Or does it sound like an army that is disciplined, having the properties of a professional army, etc.?

    One more. This is George Washington:
    "If your present numbers should be insufficient for that purpose, I would then by all means advise your making up the deficiency out of the best regulated militia that can be got."

    Can you say with a straight face that Washington was saying that a shortage of soldiers should be dealt with by getting as many militia who are well controlled by government regulations as possible? Or was he saying to get as many disciplined or prepared soldiers as possible?

    I can keep going if you'd like but I was hoping that you'd take my original request and look it up for yourself.

    And thanks for further enhancing the quality of the dialog with the good old, "bazooka" line. Great stuff.

  111. Big dog Says:

    Jason…why should I look anything up when I have a bulldog as an interlocutor…thanks for the info, but I'm still not convinced. Work harder.

  112. Jason Says:

    There is no point in my working harder if examples that clear don't convince you.

  113. Big dog Says:

    I hope I don't have to explain what ambiguity nmeans to such a brainy guy. If all you concealed carry guys are involved in well regulated militias I would be happy to eat all of my remarks without soy sauce.

  114. Jason Says:

    Wow.

  115. Nick Says:

    Actually, according to current US Code we are. Every male of draft age is part of the "unorganized militia" and has a duty to respond with arms to threats foreign or domestic. So if you want to go down that road we can.

  116. Big dog Says:

    I see a lot more "unorganized" than "regulated" in your camo-clad buddies running around the woods with assault rifles, hoping for the moment when they can rise to glory shooting down the local dog catcher or some other tool of government oppression. In any case, thanks for the opportunity to vent, but we must all be bored by this and surely have bored everyone else.

  117. LosMarathons Says:

    Holy crap Ed, this was depressing.
    And as always the Onion nailed it a few months back:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-won,32106/