Where Are the Gun Protests?

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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171 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    Maybe (most) folks (rightfully) realized that more gun laws restrictions wouldn’t cease THESE types of shootings. Maybe minds changed. Maybe the pro-gun folks won this battle and haven’t even realized it yet.

    Or everyone got distracted by the Olympics and all the shiny things that accompany it?Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Kazzy says:

      I think gun restrictions would ceases these types of shootings. There are many more gun deaths and mass shootings in the U.S. than in European countries and gun restrictions must play a role.

      That being said, I realize that my position is probably a minority one right now and changes must be done in a way that goes for a long-game. This is going to be a decades-long battle.

      As to your other question and in a completely unrelated tone, I thought it was really cute and sweet that the Czech delegation wore Wellies in tribute to their British hosts.Report

      • Scott in reply to NewDealer says:

        And that is after you re-write the constitution, right?Report

        • NewDealer in reply to Scott says:

          There are ways to interpret the 2nd Amendment that go counter to yours and many people believe in those interpretations and many of those are more brilliant lawyers and constitutional scholars than either of us.

          The Constitution is rather unclear and open to interpretation in many places and the Second Amendment is one of those places. Scalia’s ideas not withstanding.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        I think Holmes would have found a way to kill many people with or without guns. Look no further than how he rigged his apartment.

        I do think there ought to be room for conversation about gun control. I just don’t think instances like Aurora are the sword that folks should be falling on to have it.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

          Also, why was Holmes charged with 24 counts of murder if there were “only” 12 victims?Report

          • Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

            He is being charged with murder under two different legal theories to give the prosecution as much flexibility as possible. The charges can be amended as more facts are known. The first that the killings were premeditated while the second theory is depraved indifference murder, that his actions demonstrated a callous disregard for human life. ( you didn’t plan to kill but shooting into a crowd was going to kill someone) Not that it matters b/c he will argue insanity and get a comfy room.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

              Does insanity really get you a comfy room? Seems like the most it does is save you from prison rape (which we really should be trying to save everyone from) if you aren’t insane. If you are insane, it hopefully gets you the help you need.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Kazzy says:

                It’s also a very difficult excuse to prove that is generally not regarded well by legal authorities.Report

              • Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

                John Hinkley got a nice comfy room after his insanity defense.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

                Well, I don’t know just how comfortable Hinkley’s accommodations were at St. Elizabeth’s but, yes, he received a sentence far different than the one he would have received if he was found guilty. There also appears to be strong agreement among medical professionals that he was legitimately mentally ill. Would you prefer a man like that be subjected to the horrors of prison?Report

              • Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

                I don’t see why he couldn’t get whatever treatment he supposedly needed while in a real jail. At St. E’s he even got visits outside the hospital with mom and dad. That just makes a mockery of the punishment. Jail isn’t supposed to be fun or comfortable or a place that folks should want to come back to.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

                But he wasn’t in jail. He was in a mental hospital. Because he was mentally ill.

                And I can imagine a whole host of reasons that jail is not a place that is conducive to making the sort of gains that one hopes come through treatment.

                Your use of the word “supposedly” implies you think he wasn’t mentally ill and/or didn’t actually need treatment. Is this your position?Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Scott says:

                He tried to kill the president of the United States to impress an actress he’d never met, and he thought it would impress her because long ago she’d been in a movie that portrayed an attempted assassination. What, you think that made him crazy?Report

              • Scott in reply to Scott says:

                I use the word supposedly b/c I’ve never met him and am not a doctor who is qualifies to make a such a diagnosis.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

                Then shouldn’t you put supposedly in front of everything you say about just about everyone? All your criticisms of “Barry” are supposed, no?

                This is just getting silly.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Scott says:

                Your use of the word “supposedly” implies you think he wasn’t mentally ill and/or didn’t actually need treatment. Is this your position?

                His position could be that shooting Reagan is a straightforwardly rational thing to want to do.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Scott says:

                On the other hand, Hinkley’s guilty of attempted murder. He’d have gotten ten years in prison for shooting at anyone besides the president. Instead, he’s been institutionalized for three times as long.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

              To date, no spree killer who has used guns has successfully executed an insanity plea. He’s got enough premeditation and self-preservation actions in this case that his chances of getting an insanity plea through are monumentally smaller than the chance that my body is going to randomly attract enough loose protons, neutrons, and electrons to spontaneously convert to gold.

              Interesting side note: insanity pleas in mass killings have been successfully put forth in Canada, the U.S., and Germany. In all cases the perpetrator was piloting some sort of vehicle.

              You use guns, you’re not going to the nuthouse. You’re going to SuperMAX.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Doesn’t CO shift burden of proof to the prosecution once the defense is initiated? That’s what I heard on the radio…Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kazzy says:

                Regardless, I will wager $1 that he gets the death penalty.

                Double or nothing says at least life in prison.

                You pick “he cops insanity and makes it work”, you win $2.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Oh, I’m confident he’ll go to jail for the rest of his life, which might be artificially shortened by the state. That’s a sucker’s bet. I’m just offering/seeking clarity on the specifics of this situation.Report

  2. Dan Miller says:

    “Next up, is there just a general malaise that the battle has been lost and there’s no point in trying? There seems to be a new shooting every other month (albeit not always so gruesome in scale). Maybe folks have given up?”

    Bingo. Congratulations, I guess.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Dan Miller says:

      Yeah, this one’s right on target. Err…I mean this would be my guess, too.Report

    • Ryan Noonan in reply to Dan Miller says:

      I agree with this as well.

      Although I do have to add… what is up with the conservative insistence that Obama is really, truly, in his heart, the scourge of gun owners? He has done exactly nothing to restrict gun ownership in 3.5 years. He hasn’t even shown an inclination to do it. What kind of effed-up Rorschach test is going on where we have to stipulate up front that he hates guns and their owners? Is it because he once said people “cling” to guns? Are we so adolescent that one disparaging statement is more important than policy? There are any number of condescending things I think about gun owners, but I suspect most libertarians would consider my position on gun control pretty good.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        “what is up with the conservative insistence that Obama is really, truly, in his heart, the scourge of gun owners? ”

        The same thing that’s up with the liberal insistence that Bush was really, truly, in his heart, the scourge of government criticism.Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        Well Ryan, Obama did say these things, which at the very least restricts a /kind/ of gun ownership. But even though he was strongly anti-gun in the most anti-gun state in the country (Illinois) when he was a senator there, his political handlers have made sure he doesn’t commit political suicide by foisting his views on the electorate that put him there. Once re-elected he will have no such concerns and can eviscerate gun ownership at the same time he cuts his deal with the Russians.

        “This is my last election,” Mr. Obama said. “After my election, I have more flexibility.”
        The Russian leader responded, “I understand. I transmit this information to Vladimir.”Report

        • Don Zeko in reply to wardsmith says:

          Let’s put money on this. $100 to a charity of your choice if Obama gun control legislation makes it out of committee during Obama’s 2nd term, if he gets one. What odds do you need to take me up on this?Report

        • Ryan Noonan in reply to wardsmith says:

          I see. So we’re just out-and-out going with “conspiracy theory” now. Fair enough.Report

          • wardsmith in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

            Ryan you called out Duck and I backed his play with links. You don’t like that fine, but the rules of the road are generally he who substantiates his claim wins. Ergo I win. Or you could try to weasel out of it by claiming that “that” doesn’t mean “that”. I think I’ve heard that song before.

            Democrats are still smarting from the humiliating defeat of a SITTING speaker of the house (Tom Foley) and they believe that he lost ONLY because of his support for the assault weapons ban after (another) mad man shooting happened in his own district. There were perhaps other reasons, and they lost their majority that year anyway, but the narrative they prefer is the one they prefer.Report

            • Don Zeko in reply to wardsmith says:

              Your link in no way substantiated the claim that a big push for gun control is just around the corner. It substantiated the fact that Obama used to be in favor of gun control and that diplomatic negotiations that aren’t meant to be public sound really unfortunate in public, but your conclusion doesn’t follow from that.Report

            • Ryan Noonan in reply to wardsmith says:

              Your links haven’t demonstrated anything except your rather extreme paranoia. Paranoid people with guns are pretty much exactly the thing that gets gun control advocates all worked up in the first place.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Yes I said if Obama got re-elected he’d be less circumspect as the open mike proved. He wants that second term so he can do whatever the hell he believes he can get away with, and that might include a lot of things we can’t think of now. When every thing Obama has done and said shows that he is in favor of gun control, your take is he absolutely is against it now? The evidence doesn’t back your personal opinion. The reality is exactly what I said, his party won’t let him go there because they fear the political backlash, and he needs the party to win reelection.

                And of course we have Fast and Furious. Or if reading is too much a bother you can watch this

                I’ve made my case, with evidence and you’ve refuted with accusations of paranoia. Pretty weak sauce any way you slice it. Perhaps in future you’ll have sufficient grounds and intelligence to have a reasonable conversation without resorting to ad hominems?Report

              • Ryan Noonan in reply to wardsmith says:

                No, in this case paranoia is pretty much the sum total of what you’re selling. No thanks.

                When you have an actual policy proposal from the Obama administration advancing a radical gun control agenda – or any gun control agenda at all – come back and talk. Until then it’s just your weird fantastical fever dreams.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                I just want to point out the amusing irony of Ryan Noonan arguing that President Obama is failing to live up to his campaign promises.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Not to mention the fact that zero gun control legislation will pass the House. And the Democrats are likely to lose the Senate, too.

                What’s he going to sign?Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                He;s going to impose martial law first, silly.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Patrick, he would sign an executive order. Why use Congress when you can just go around it? Now do I need to point to the literally dozens of places where he has already done this? Enforcing some laws, refusing to enforce others? Czars? Recess appointments? A liberal apologist could claim, “Well these are just individual cases”. Someone who pointed out that there’s an apparent pattern could be labeled a paranoid crank I suppose, but a /real/ mathematician can see patterns easily enough, if he’s not wearing blue colored glasses. Only time will tell, but if Obama is reelected I know where I’m placing my wager.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I don’t think Executive Orders work that way.

                Certainly, one can put forth an E.O. to do something that is blatantly past Constitutional boundaries (NSA wiretapping, cough), and if gone unchallenged by the other two branches, everyone in power can agree that nobody is going to take steps to undo it.

                I cannot possibly imagine that any such Executive Order would be issued, or if it was, if it would stand longer than about 20 seconds.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Ward made his case fine. From his link to Obama’s Aurora speech:

                “The background checks conducted on those looking to purchase firearms are now more thorough and more complete. Instead of just throwing more money at the problem of violence, the federal government is now in the trenches with communities and schools and law enforcement and faith-based institutions.”

                But even though we have taken these actions,” he continued, “they’re not enough.

                Explicitly stating Obama wants more government action.

                “The background checks conducted on those looking to purchase firearms are now more thorough and more complete. Instead of just throwing more money at the problem of violence, the federal government is now in the trenches with communities and schools and law enforcement and faith-based institutions.”

                Other steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress.”

                That the President is fine with using executive orders to circumvent opposition in congress to get his way is an open secret*.


                Now, his supporters might trust Obama, that he will not exploit the limits of his power, and has no anti-gun agenda in mind. But it’s completely unfair to dismiss WardSmith’s case with the pejorative of “paranoid.”

                Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean Obama’s not up to something. And WardSmith has established motive and opportunity.


                *Shift on Executive Power Lets Obama Bypass Rivals
                By CHARLIE SAVAGE
                Published: April 22, 2012

                WASHINGTON — One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism.

                “We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,” recalled William M. Daley, who was the White House chief of staff at the time. “The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.”Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Ryan – I think you are pushing the ‘conspiracy theory’ angle way too far. Wardsmith is basing his opinion (and for the record i agree with him) on Obama’s strongly anti-gun position in Illinois. You are saying that conservatives are being paranoid because Obama hasn’t proposed any actual legislation. But he also promised he WOULD do certain things in his first term (close Gitmo) that haven’t happened and did other things he never talked about before he was elected (endorsing gay marriage).

                So I don’t think we should completely base our assesment for his future plans strictly on what comes out of his mouth. Politics are fluid and if he sees an opening for anti-gun legislation and senses a possible victory, his history tells us he will take it. That’s not paranoia. That’s simply logical reasoning.Report

              • Ward: I’m on the same side as you wrt gun control, but Ryan’s right here – this just comes across as paranoia. Yes, Obama has an anti-gun track record in the IL state legislature; that’s a far cry from suggesting that it’s a priority worth spending political capital on in his capacity as President, even if he does get re-elected.

                The odds of Obama getting anti-gun legislation passed if he pushes for it are exactly zero; the only way to even modestly improve those odds would be for him to campaign on the issue, secure Dem victories in the House and Senate, and then claim a mandate for gun control- and even then, you’re talking about a pretty modest improvement in odds since it’s such a politically risky issue for non-urban Dems. He’s not campaigning on gun control, though, and there’s just about zero chance of Dems both holding onto the Senate and taking the House in November, much less obtaining a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

                Sure, he doesn’t have to worry about re-election. But he does have to worry about enacting other parts of his agenda if he’s re-elected – after all, what’s the point of getting re-elected to a position of power if you’re not going to try to use that power? Pushing these other parts of his agenda take a lot of political capital. You don’t waste political capital on legislation that has zero chance of passing.

                As for Fast and Furious – there’s just no evidence of a grand conspiracy to make a political case for gun control by making sure that US guns were used in cartel crime; that US guns are heavily used in cartel crimes is not exactly a new phenomenon, and this would be one hell of a convoluted conspiracy if this in fact were the goal of the program. That’s not to say that Fast & Furious is anything other than a scandal mind you, and I think there is cause to believe, though perhaps not to prove conclusively, that there was ill intent involved in that program in addition to gross incompetence. But there’s no evidence that the intention was to increase cartel crime in order to somehow make a political case that could have already been made without F&F.

                Instead, the evidence seems to suggest that the relevant people involved in the program were trying to enforce the gun laws they wished existed rather than the laws that actually exist and were trying to expand their authority into an arena that should have been outside their jurisdiction.

                Law enforcement agencies do this type of thing all the time. It’s wrong, arrogant, stupid and, yes, evil, borne out of a thirst for power. It is also wholly deserving of outrage. What it is not is a conspiracy to obtain partisan political advantage.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Mark I am certain you are an excellent attorney and should I ever need one in California I’m inclined to give you a call. You’ve narrowed the scope of your argument to where the ground is strongest, ie, that Obama can’t get his gun control through the legislature. But as you can see in the post I was already typing here this administration uses executive fiat rather than congressional approval. Yes he is not the first president to use it for /some/ things but he is certainly the first to use it to this extent and for this /many/ things. And this was only his first term, who knows what he might do the next term?

                If as your penultimate paragraph suggests this was a rogue operation by ATF agents low down the food chain, the questions raised are: Why then was there a coverup? Why the memos about and retaliation against “whistleblowers”? Why the invocation of executive privilege? The logical thing to do with rogue agents is to terminate them, not /promote/ them.Report

              • But as you can see in the post I was already typing here this administration uses executive fiat rather than congressional approval. Yes he is not the first president to use it for /some/ things but he is certainly the first to use it to this extent and for this /many/ things.

                There is a huge, MASSIVE, difference between enforcing a non-existent law by executive fiat and declining to enforce, or at least deprioritizing enforcement, of an existing law. I should think this distinction is fairly obvious. And I really have to challenge the assertion that Obama is the first to use even this prioritization ability to the extent and with the frequency that he has. It is, of necessity, something that every Administration has to do, and in roughly equal amounts, increasing in proportion to the number of laws that it is supposed to enforce. The biggest difference is that usually Presidents don’t hold Rose Garden press conferences to announce that they’re doing it.

                On the F&F issue, I’m not saying that this was necessarily limited to low-level ATF employees; I’m actually fairly certain that the stink went relatively high up the food chain (not necessarily all the way up to Holder, but definitely pretty high up, and I don’t rule out the possibility that it went that high up). But that’s a far cry from saying that the motivation was this convoluted idea that introducing more American-traced guns to the cartels would somehow create an outcry for more gun control in the US. Again, it should not exactly be a matter of controversy that this is the case, especially given the size of the US firearms industry combined with the huge cross-border drug trade between Mexico and the US. Instead, the evidence pretty consistently points to an attempt by ATF (and perhaps DOJ) officials to expand the agency’s jurisdiction, with callous disregard for basic things such as the rules of evidence and the actual law. When the proverbial shit hit the fan, these officials wanted to, and tried to, blame everyone but themselves and their participating underlings.* Those efforts, which are as I understand the main focus of the document demands on which privilege has been asserted, are no doubt incredibly embarrassing to the Administration. They are, indeed, an outrageous coverup. But they’re not remotely evidence of the particular conspiracy you suggest.

                *There’s also some dispute as to whether the individual allegedly promoted was, in fact, promoted rather than simply transferred to desk duty.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

                Mark, perhaps it is a matter of degree, but I had a link to over a dozen instances so you’ll have to show me the same under his predecessors. Not doubting it just want to see it. Czars represent their own “massive” issue not addressed here.

                As for F&F, it deserves its own OP (again) I suppose. You talk about an “individual” agent in your comment, my answer is which one?. My understanding is there have been even more but can’t find the more recent link, got sidetracked for an hour or so. I do know that at least one of the whistlblowers has already been fired. Sure wish I knew an attorney in California who could represent him in a wrongful termination case…Report

              • Second question first: regarding the agent(s) allegedly promoted, the link you provide doesn’t actually show any promotions, just transfers that Newsmax asserts are promotions without any basis; in the case of McMahon, the linked story actually shows a pretty clear demotion by most standards, from Deputy Director, Field Operations, to Deputy Assistant Director, OPRSO.

                Regarding the Heritage Foundation story to which you cite….egads. The first two examples in that article just describe basic formal rulemaking under powers that were clearly delegated to the Executive (that you and I might think that Congress is Constitutionally not supposed to be able to delegate its powers is a ship that sailed a very long time ago); that is something that is done thousands of times every year. The third example was likely an overstepping of authority, for which the administration seems to have been rebuked by the courts. On the fourth, NCLB waivers for adopting national standards, Heritage’s claim that these waivers were without authorization by Congress is highly questionable since there doesn’t seem to be any dispute that the Executive is explicitly allowed to grant such waivers, just over whether it can place conditions on them.

                The sixth, immigration laws, has largely already been covered. The seventh, marijuana laws, boils down to the same issue of choosing not to make enforcement of certain laws a priority; in addition, Heritage seems pretty clearly wrong in suggesting that marijuana laws aren’t being enforced, especially given stories like this: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/03/west-hollywood-medical-marijuana-raid.html

                The eighth, again, is a matter of the Administration not enforcing a law as vigorously as conservatives would like. The exercise of executive privilege in F&F, the ninth issue, is bothersome but all-too-common over the course of several administrations. The tenth and final one, recess appointments, involves Heritage adopting a fairly novel view of the term “recess of the Senate.”

                But you asked for equivalent examples from another administration, so I’ll give some examples from the Bush Administration:

                – undeclared wars (yes, Bush was hardly the first to do this, but the precedent for Obama’s rulemaking, claims 1 and 2 above, is even more firmly established).

                – Defiance of the legal – and Constitutional – prohibitions on the use of torture.

                -Issued a directive gutting anti-trust enforcement (this is exactly equivalent to claim 6, above, and is Constitutional for exactly the same reasons)

                -Gutted enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (again, Constitutional, but again exactly equivalent to Obama’s alleged non-enforcement of marijuana laws): http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/us/politics/03rights.html

                -Blatantly politicized the hiring process for DOJ attorneys, firing US Attorneys for purely partisan political gain

                – Made questionable assertions of executive privilege

                – Leaked classified information for political gain

                – Developed a novel theory of the unitary executive, basically asserting authority to ignore judicial decisions

                – Warrantless wiretapping.

                I could go on.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:


                From your link…

                “This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.”

                I spot a logical error in there. “This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States” != “This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 could not be traced back to the United States”.

                We don’t know anything about that 90%. Insufficient data. In fact, the GAO report I found actually mentions this. I have no idea if this is the specific GAO report to which everyone is referring, because in all of the hubbub about this GAO report on both pro- and anti- gun sites, nobody links to the actual goddamn report.

                It does look like almost all of Mexico’s legal arms purchases come from the United States. Maybe the illegal acquisitions of firearms in Mexico are dominated by their own military selling guns to drug runners, maybe not (we don’t have any real evidence on that score either, at least not from the links you supply here).

                If anything, the GAO report says to me that we ought to consider our legal arms exports to other countries of dubious provenance. Well, hell, we knew that already, right?Report

  3. Murali says:

    Next up, is there just a general malaise that the battle has been lost and there’s no point in trying? There seems to be a new shooting every other month (albeit not always so gruesome in scale). Maybe folks have given up?

    This seems right. I break rather severely from libertarian orthodoxy in my beliefs about gun control (I’m very very pro gun control). While there are some salient points to be made about attempts to ban guns in America (and the questionable constitutionality of such laws), I still think that Americans in general have a kind of collective insanity when it comes to this issue. Part of this is because the issue of gun ownership has a lot of symbolic meaning.

    So, for those of us in our heart of hearts who secretly pine for a universal ban on firearms, it really seems pointless to argue because there doesnt seem to be any argument that we could make that would convince you of our side.Report

  4. Creon Critic says:

    I think you’re absolutely right, the most unlikely scenario is that the left has been convinced of the wisdom of widespread gun ownership, concealed carry, and a permissive interpretation of the Second Amendment. I certainly haven’t been convinced, and I don’t think the liberal parts of the country are itching to loosen their restrictions anytime soon. Mayor Bloomberg tried to push for more forthright presentation of perspectives on gun ownership restrictions. Also, Representative McCarthy and Senator Lautenberg have proposed some gun control legislation that I’d certainly be in favor of. A pretty permissive interpretation of the Second Amendment doesn’t make much sense to me, and I’d favor justices and a president who would permit more restrictions on guns, gun ownership, ammunition, and such. It’s just a long difficult fight, perhaps how pro-life people feel about the long road they have in front of them. Until guns are sufficiently stigmatized or we can get five votes on the Court to permit restrictions, it seems we’re locked in a sub-optimal stalemate. And America will go on being anachronistic in a
    very depressing way.Report

  5. LauraNo says:

    I have given up. What is it, 5,000 kids killed every year by non-people-killing guns?
    Texas is set to execute ANOTHER mentally incapable person.
    45,000 people a year were dying from lack of health insurance.
    We killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq.
    No one but liberals cares about any of it.Report

    • Roger in reply to LauraNo says:

      Did 45000 people really die due to lack of insurance? That is much worse than I woul have expected.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to LauraNo says:

      No one but liberals cares about any of it.

      Bullshit. A lot of libertarians are opposed to the death penalty, and most libertarians opposed the Iraq war. Not believing in ACA or single-payer does not mean you don’t care about the poor state of health care in this country. But go ahead and make yourself feel good about how special and superior you are compared to all the completely amoral and humanity hating non-liberals.Report

      • LauraNo in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’m sorry I generalized like that. I should have said no one I hear on tv or in my daily life cares, but for liberals. Not believing in single payer or ACA while never PROFFERING ANY ALTERNATIVE certainly says something. Do libertarians have a plan to reduce senseless death? I’ll gladly sign up if so.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to LauraNo says:

          Libertarians want more free market oriented solutions, criticizing the current system for pricing the poor out by being too tightly tied to employment. And, no, you won’t sign up because you won’t think that approach will work. And that’s ok. Really. Disagreements about the effects of policies are totally legitimate. It’s the assumption that the other side doesn’t care–the implication that they’re morally monstrous–that’s problematic.

          So if you want to think non-liberals are ridiculously naive, even stupid, to think a more market-oriented system would reduce deaths caused by not having insurance, ok. But understand that, for better or worse, they actually do believe it. They may be misguided, but that doesn’t mean they’re uncaring. Hanlon’s razor is usually a good guide: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.Report

        • Fnord in reply to LauraNo says:

          Not really a lot of alternatives, war-wise and death penalty-wise other than “stop doing that,” which plenty of libertarians have proposed.

          Murder-wise, I think curtailing the drug war would be a big step in the right direction.Report

  6. Alan Scott says:

    Thirty thousand people die from gunshots in the US every year. Spree killers kill maybe twenty. If we’re going to talk about gun violence in the US, then we should talk about the suicides, The career criminals with guns, and the domestic violence that account for the vast bulk of those thirty-thousand deaths.

    Making this conversation about the twelve people who died in Colorado won’t help us reach a useful solution to gun violence, and it’s also disrespectful of the victims. Maybe us liberals are smart enough to realize that.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Alan Scott says:

      Suicides alone account for around 17k of that thirty thousand. The murder rate is actually at a 40-year low, even as gun laws have been liberalized.Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Alan Scott says:

      You’ll notice suicide was the first thing I mentioned. I don’t think it’s appropriate to ignore the 17k people who kill themselves each year with guns in a discussion about how to reduce gun death.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Alan Scott says:

        What’s the suicide rate, per capita, in comparable Western countries?Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Alan Scott says:

        “I don’t think it’s appropriate to ignore the 17k people who kill themselves each year with guns”

        I guess that’s true; I mean, now that they’ve installed those nets under the Golden Gate Bridge and put “DON’T JUMP” signs at the train crossings, guns are pretty much the only way left to kill yourself, right?Report

  7. Scott says:


    Come on, the so called “pre-emptive outcry” by the right was a reaction to ABC news immediately connecting the shooter and the Tea Party as well as nanny Bloomberg resuming his anti -gun rant. Why is the right so jumpy, just look at the what the left has proposed in the wake of the shooting: renewal of mis-named assault weapon ban, restricting internet ammo sales and renewing the hi-cap magazine ban. None of which I can tell would have stopped the shooter.Report

  8. Tom Van Dyke says:

    Obama is toast on guns: Fast & Furious scandal, and hometown Chicago is now The Deadliest Global City despite restrictive gun laws.

    He opens his yap, it’s a shitstorm, and he knows it, so he took a vanilla stance after Aurora.


    BTW, the other day, Justice Scalia sent a signal that gun rights aren’t absolute:

    WALLACE: Let’s turn to an issue that is the news right now with the massacre in Colorado. And that is gun control.

    You wrote in 2008, the opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, the majority opinion that said the Second Amendment means what it says, people have a right to bear arms. Question: how far does that constitutional right go? Can a legislature ban semiautomatic weapons or can it ban magazines that carry 100 rounds without violating an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms?

    SCALIA: What the opinion Heller said is that it will have to be decided in future cases. What limitations upon the right to bear arms are permissible. Some undoubtedly are, because there were some that were acknowledged at the time. For example, there was a tort called affrighting, which if you carried around a really horrible weapon just to scare people, like a head ax or something, that was I believe a misdemeanor.

    So yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed. What they are will depend on what the society understood was reasonable limitation. There were certainly location limitations where —
    WALLACE: But what about these technological limitations? Obviously, we’re not talking about a handgun or a musket. We’re talking about a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute…

    SCALIA: We’ll see. I mean, obviously, the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried. It’s to keep and bear. So, it doesn’t apply to cannons. But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to be — it will have to be decided.

    WALLACE: So, how do you decide if you’re a textualist?

    SCALIA: Very carefully. My starting point and ending point probably will be what limitations are within the understood limitations that the society had at the time. They had some limitation on the nature of arms that could be born. So, we’ll see what those limitations are as applied to modern weapons.

    Loved the “cannon” bit. And the “head axe.” Killer interview, highly recommended, especially for Scalia-haters. Best to hear him in his own words and hate him on that, rather than second-hand. 😉


    • Jeff Wong in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      The disturbing thing is that the 2nd Amendment is also intended for offense (against the government). Since it has been shown the IEDs are effective against the US military, they should technically be allowed under the Bill of Rights.

      Landmines should probably also be legal for citizens since they can mostly only be defensive weapons.Report

      • LauraNo in reply to Jeff Wong says:

        IDK. What does the ‘well regulated’ part of ‘a well regulated militia’ mean? Seems it would be government doing the regulating, to me. Not any come hither Sherrif or whomever wanted to be in charge.Report

        • James K in reply to LauraNo says:

          Regulated in the context of 18th Century military meant “well trained”, rather than the modern usage “controlled by the State”. Adam Smith uses it the same way in The Wealth of Nations. It comes from the property of armies of being “regular” or able to march in orderly ranks.Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to James K says:

            This was the period of Frederickian maneuver warfare and formations, so drilling and orderliness was important. (If the Constitution had been written 20 years later, the language might actually be different, particularly due to the substantial change in the views of national militias during the Napoleonic Wars)Report

        • Jeff Wong in reply to LauraNo says:

          The clause “a well-regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state” is a preamble, or an explanation of the justification. It’s not a restriction on the context of bearing arms.

          This is according to this book I’m reading called “Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can’t End the Battle over Guns” by Mark Tushnet.

          I’m not sure if I support the idea of Civil War as a method for dealing with an oppressive government. War can be worse than death. Perhaps that’s why so many people who have seen combat end up killing themselves.

          It disturbs me to see people on the Net talking about starting a war because of the tyranny of health care. Or going to one of those Appleseed shoots and wondering if that’s what people think they need to protect themselves against. And then also people claim that it wouldn’t be that hard since the national Army would not shoot civilians. Perhaps not, but thinking a war will be quick is history’s most foolish idea.

          Civil wars are never good. I bet if America had another one, it would look more like the Yugoslavia or Republican Spain or Russia. More ideological than territory based. Neighbors rounded up and shot. Maybe not sex slavery or rape as a weapon but it wouldn’t be surprising.

          But at least people won’t hack off limbs and ears.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Jeff Wong says:

        we have VERY good reason that NO defensive weapons are allowed (without a hell of a lot of red tape and justification — I could set up some defenses within a quarry, but, really?)
        Mostly the chance of someone accidentally wandering onto your property and getting hurt.
        And by someone, we mean kids.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Jeff Wong says:

        The disturbing thing is that the 2nd Amendment is also intended for offense (against the government).

        Well, yes, in sufficient numbers and with proper organization. Shoot at random members of the government, even if they’re just the ones that show up at your door to collect the taxes or deliver the order that you have to cut your grass because it’s too tall, and you’re just a nut. Do it in sufficient numbers — which would be quite large these days — and if you win it’s one thing, but if you lose you’re just another armed insurrection. And we know how that turns out.

        Asking seriously, what’s the legal theory that a large group of people with guns doing any of (a) removing some piece of territory from the US to be independent, (b) forcing the federal (or even a state) government to change laws under threat of violence or (c) installing new people within the existing structure by violent means falls within the vision of the Constitution held by the original authors?Report

    • Fnord in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      That’s true too. As far as political point-scoring is concerned, keeping gun issues off the agenda is probably a win for Obama at the moment.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      methodology, sir! one cannot say that Tokyo is not the deadliest city (though it probably isn’t), because their cops suck (cultural, among other things)Report

  9. I think what we might be seeing here is a decoupling of “liberalism” or “the Left” and “conservativism” from one’s stance on gun control. Perhaps it’s ceasing to be the defining issue of who is and who isn’t a liberal or conservative.Report

  10. Jason M. says:

    As a commenter noted in a different thread, liberalism is a “pretty big space”, so I’m not representing myself as the baseline liberal here. I’m pretty much a “eh…the status quo is about right” kind of guy on gun control – which doesn’t make for a great bumper sticker . Regardless, even if I did think we need tighter restrictions, I couldn’t see myself being able to match the apocalyptic fervor that animates the core of the NRA crowd. Not that I think everyone on the other side of the debate has a “Red Dawn” DVD running on a loop, but the High Priests of the 2nd Admendment who preach that “we need to be ready to overthrow the tyrannical gubmit” are front and center, even if most everyone else are just hunters, sport shooters or gun collectors who’d just like to be able buy or use whatever gun they want without being hassled by the man.

    Liberals are either tired of dying on that hill, or could never bothered to fight for that hill to begin with. Still, conservatives don’t own a copyright to Burkean incrementalism, and gun regulations figure to be just one of many issues where attitudes will adapt as we continue to become more urbanized.Report

    • Ryan Noonan in reply to Jason M. says:

      Nice! I almost feel like I’m making progress here!Report

    • Don Zeko in reply to Jason M. says:

      My attitude is basically this: Mark Kleiman’s book says that there’s no good evidence that gun control can reduce crime, and I never really cared that much about the issue in the first place, so whatever NRA, keep your guns. The trouble is that the apocalyptic fervor (a description too apt to not steal) of the NRA and their insistence on laws that do everything possible to encourage people to blow their fellow citizens away at the drop of a hat make me very uncomfortable.Report

      • Don Zeko in reply to Don Zeko says:

        Also, I want to hear people describe how exactly legislation could prevent people with mental health problems from buying guns. Would it require everyone to get a psych eval before heading to a gun shop (full employment for mental health professionals! Hooray!)? Would it instead say that, if you have psychological diagnosis X,Y, or Z you can’t buy a gun? In that case, wouldn’t the true effect be to discourage gun owners from ever getting help with mental health issues? I get the impulse behind this idea, but I don’t see how it becomes a policy that’s even remotely workable.Report

  11. Michael Cain says:

    This week we had this story, where a man carried a gun into another Denver-area theater. Several auditoriums were evacuated and the man turned himself in to authorities in the lobby. Nothing in the article about whether this theater chain has a policy on firearms. Very little play after the initial story ran.Report

  12. Jonathan Hall says:

    I think it has more to do with those on the left not wanting to politicise the shooting. It seems a bad idea to try and legislate in the emotional wake of a tragedy.

    I think there is an honest debate to be had, but it would be difficult to undertake when emotions are running high. A middle ground must be found but when a tragedy like this happens both sides will tend to the extremes.Report

  13. Brett says:

    It seems to me that those who call for new laws restricting gun ownership are totally ignorant of existing laws restricting gun ownership. For example, a frequent call is that “citizens should not be able to easily purchase fully automatic machine guns!” which of course, they can’t. Even “unlikely ally to the gun control cause” Bill O’Reilly got it wrong stating, “But you can buy a machine gun and the FBI doesn’t know” which is of course false.

    To answer the question in the OP, I think in an election year gun control proponents are following the President’s lead, who called for enforcement of existing laws rather than new ones (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/22/barack-obama-gun-control_n_1693650.html):

    “I would say that the president’s views on this are as he has stated and as he spelled out in the op-ed that was published in an Arizona newspaper,” said Carney, “which is that he believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons.”

    Reference for my O’Reilly comment:

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Brett says:

      > “But you can buy a machine gun and the FBI
      > doesn’t know” which is of course false.

      Sure. But I can build one and the FBI won’t know.Report

      • Do you have the precision machining skills necessary to build a machine gun? No, seriously, I have a different project that will need some custom precision machining done and have questions.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I don’t actually.

          But I can afford them. I might be able to help, though; I know a couple of guys with a lot of experience running full machine shops. If you have a question, feel free to email me. Papa Sierra Charlie at Charlie Mike Sierra dot Charlie Alpha Lima Tango Echo Charlie Hotel dot Echo Delta Uniform.Report

        • Scott in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Sorry but you don’t need precision machining skils or a large machine shop. The British we2 sten gun was quite simple, to the point the many resistance groups could build their own.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Scott says:

            Yep. If you want something that shoots armor-piercing rounds accurately at a distance, then you need precision machining. If you just want something that sprays pistol-caliber bullets at targets within fifty feet, you can do that in a typical auto-service garage.Report

  14. Tim Pearce says:

    I think the real reason is that, for the overwhelming majority of the anti-gun-rights crowd, it isn’t something they think about much. It’s not something they have any passion about. They generally don’t see themselves has having much of a stake in the argument. Whether some new “assault weapons” ban passes, or not, nothing with regards to themselves will change. They generally don’t worry about a need for self-defense. They don’t see themselves as having gun rights, so they don’t see themselves as losing anything, and anything they see themselves as gaining is hypothetical to their viewpoint.

    There are some anti-gun-rights folks to which the gains and loses aren’t hypothetical, such as Carolyn McCarthy and Sarah Brady. They lost something to a violent man with a gun, and sadly they view the problem to have been the gun. But, these are a rare minority. To the majority, the most concrete thing to them is what is shown on the news.

    Gun owners have a stake in the matter, so we have passion about it. It will be our property, and our rights, that are targeted, so we are more likely to get involved.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Tim Pearce says:

      Most black people in my city have lost a friend to a gun. not exactly hypothetical to ’em.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kimmi says:

        Here in L.A., that’s more generally attributed to gang culture and/or the drug war than the physical object used to carry out the crime.Report

        • And of course gun control is unlikely to stop gangs form getting guns, after all drugs are illegal but gangs still manage to get drugs.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to James K says:

            How many gangs get their hands on mortars these days? How about grenades? (perhaps this is better addressed to Jason…)

            Controls can work, guys!Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kimmi says:

              Tell me your plan.

              Sure, controls “can” work. I really doubt you can build a meaningful control system for all firearms in the country, but give me a model and we’ll see how long it takes me to circumvent it.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Kimmi says:

              Uhh….how many gangs would really want to get their hands on grenades and mortars? I can’t imagine them being anything but terribly ineffective and/or counterproductive in gang warfare. These are not weapons that are good for targeted killings.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

              I really don’t see how we can conflate the issue of small arms with grenades and indirect fire weapons.

              Here’s the real problem: the gun control advocates have needlessly annoyed the legit gun owners and gun dealers. They should have recruited the gun community early to the struggle to advocate for rational controls on the sales of firearms and ammunition. It was both bad politics and bad manners: had they made any effort to get the gun owners on board, advocating for gun education, gun safety, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, we’d be having a very different debate today.Report

              • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


                Tell us, who are the “legit” gun owners and dealers you speak of? Are they the ones that you think would agree with you? Maybe they are the useful idiots like The American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) that would go along with the antis until the the anti take their guns.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:


                Tell us, who are the “legit” gun owners and dealers to whom you would refer? Are they the ones who would only support no gun control laws of any sort? Maybe… oh, never mind.Report

              • Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


                Blaise is the one arguing that there are two groups legit and non-legit. I don’t think it is too much to ask him to define them for us, do you? I see myself as a legit gun owner (maybe not to Blaise) that doesn’t care for gun control.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                No, I think it’s fair to ask him who qualifies.

                I think his answer is probably “legal and responsible gun owners”, but I have no certain idea. The fact that you appear to have jumped to a definition for him – one that appears to be structured by your idea of what constitutes “legit gun owners” makes me curious as to what your definitions are, as well.

                So who, in your mind, qualifies as a legit gun owner? What characteristics make up a legit gun owner?

                It seems you disqualify The American Hunters and Shooters Association as “legit gun owners”.Report

              • Scott in reply to Scott says:


                Sure, “legal and responsible gun owners” is general or nebulous enough that I probably would agree to it. Though I’m not sure how you would define “responsible.” To me, if you are legally entitled to own a gun then you are a legit gun owner. I fail to see the connection that Blaise seems to make between “legit” gun owners and agreement with gun control.

                As for the AHSA, legit or not they are just a front for antis.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

                I smell a No True Scotts-man.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Scott says:

                That was horrible Kazzy. I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. You and Mr. Schilling, however, should talk.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

                He’s not a true Scotts-man until he’s kilt somebody.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

                And if he did, let’s hope he’s quickly whiskied away to prison.Report

  15. Morat20 says:

    Because liberals, by and large, stopped trying. There’s some tinkering around the edges, but despite the screaming from the NRA — Democrats have pretty much dropped the issue.

    Nobody’s coming for your guns, not Obama and not the UN. But I guess paranoia sells.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Morat20 says:

      I would argue that in most states, despite the screaming from the NRA, the guns-rights side has also stopped trying to go farther. For the most part, they’ve gotten as easy access to the purchase and carrying of guns as is feasible under local politics. Here in Colorado, they know that they’re not going to get anything easier than the current background checks for purchase and concealed-carry permits, or do away with local control over open carry — so why make an issue out of it?

      What I find most interesting here is that despite the relative ease of getting a concealed-carry permit, only about 90,000 people out of a total population of 5.1M have done so. There’s simply no way to get around the fact that the vast majority of the population prefers to not go around armed.Report

  16. Rufus F. says:

    I actually know a lot of liberals down on that side of the border who own guns and use them for hunting. Am the only one who knows these people?Report

  17. Rufus F. says:

    Another thing: I’m not anti-gun, but many times when I’ve visited friends and family in the states, I’ve thought that trying to fight against guns in the states would be about like trying to fight against football and barbeques in the states. They’re just too ingrained in the culture.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I think it goes back to the mythology of the Revolution, that we beat the British army with our squirrel guns, and if the gunmint ever gets too uppity, we’ll just do it again. It’s closely related to the fact that people who’ve never been shot at in their lives think that in a situation like Denver, they could just pull out their trusty piece and take care of business. [1] I think it also explains a fair amount of the reflexive support for Zimmerman — it’s not so much racism as the unwillingness to believe that a gun could make a situation worse.

      1. Freezing and panicking are for sissies, and firing wildly under pressure is for incompetents like soldiers and policemen.Report

  18. NewDealer says:

    As said above, I think this is largely geographic and cultural.

    I grew up in Nassau County in a suburb where there is not much of a hunting culture because you would need to drive far before reaching any sort of hunting area. The general activities were more in the golf and tennis line for adults. I don’t know of any classmate from my childhood who was taught how to use guns or anyone whose parents knew how to use guns.

    I also only know a handful of people whose parents served in Vietnam.

    So if you grow up in an area like mine, you are probably more amendable to gun control/regulation.

    That being said, I am not opposed to hunting as an activity but don’t see any reason for people to own assault rifles or automatic weapons.Report

    • It should be pointed out that, by and large, it is in fact illegal to own automatic weapons; the number of persons who can legally own automatics is very small. This is one of the more common misperceptions about our gun laws. Second, the term “assault rifle” is, by and large, a term that was invented by gun control proponents; it is not a term that, AFAIK, had any prior history. The way that an “assault rifle” or “assault weapon” is defined focuses on largely cosmetic features of the firearms that have little or nothing to do with the lethality or dangerousness of the firearm.Report

      • Don Zeko in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Really? I was under the impression that “assault rifle” was originally used in a military context to describe fully automatic infantry rifles like the M-16 and AK-47. I could easily be wrong on this, of course. Have a link handy?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko says:

          From The Wikipedia:


          The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) (or Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a federal law in the United States that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms, so called “assault weapons”. There was no legal definition of “assault weapons” in the U.S. prior to the law’s enactment. Report

          • Ryan Noonan in reply to Jaybird says:

            The definition of “keep and bear arms” is one man, one gun.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

              Where did they hammer *THAT* out?Report

              • Ryan Noonan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Thousands of years ago. Don’t argue with me. It’s always been this way.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Hey, the dude said that he thought that assault weapon meant a particular thing and asked for a link explaining how it wasn’t used that way.

                I posted a link saying that, prior to the AWB, there was no legal definition of a particular term.

                I assume you’re arguing in a meta way that, prior to the AWB, everyone knew pretty damn well what an assault weapon was… well, it seems to me that the AWB could have been written better had it come out and said that an assault weapon was the second weapon that any given person owned and, thus, was not constitutionally protected.

                Sadly, that’s not how the law was phrased. It made the mistake of officially defining the term.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                I have to say that it’s amusing to see people say “copyright? we have technology now that we didn’t have in the 18th century, therefore nothing should be restricted! gun control? we have technology now that we didn’t have in the 18th century, therefore everything should be restricted!”Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Kinda hard to kill people with a book.

                I mean, it *can* be done, but still.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                If you want to kill one person, you use a gun. You want to kill tens of millions? You need a printing press.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to DensityDuck says:

                The real trouble is that we’ve been using technology to make books less effective murder weapons. Killing somebody with a nice leatherbound 1000-pager is no problem. Killing somebody with a Kindle? That’s a much dicier proposition.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I’ve always assumed that’s why Atlas Shrugged is so big. It’s not like she had a complicated story te tell.Report

          • Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’m unconvinced. When the term was first given a legal definition isn’t the same as when the term was first used, right?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko says:

              I assume that it was a term introduced to distinguish “good guns” (sportsman weapons!) from “bad guns” (guns intended to kill people). As for when the term was first used, I don’t know when that was but I want to say that it wasn’t around in the early or mid-80’s.

              The late-80’s early 90’s are when I remember that term bubbling up.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Don Zeko says:

              Right, but by the time it was given its legal meaning, fully automatic weapons had been banned for most people for nearly 60 years, and new fully automatic weapons had been pretty much completely banned for nearly a decade. So it’s simply incorrect to say that the term as used for the last 20 years has any connection to fully automatic weapons, and before that, even by your reckoning, it was a term that seems to have exclusively applied to fully automatic weapons.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                If we’re all guaranteed a absolute right to keep and bear arms by the 2nd Amendment, where does the government get off telling us we can’t have machine guns?Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                You can have a machine gun. You just have to find one for sale. Or build it yourself, which requires a proper license.

                Plus an annual colonoscopy by the BATF.Report

              • Scalia tried to address that issue in Heller. I wasn’t terribly persuaded by his reasoning, but I think you could reach the same result he did (ie, that machine guns may be prohibited) by applying even a more traditional strict or intermediate scrutiny analysis.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to Don Zeko says:

          I don’t know about the original use of the term “assault rifle,” but machine guns (defined as anything capable of fully automatic fire) have been restricted to so-called “Special Occupational Taxpayers” since the National Firearms Act of 1936. It is not easy to become an SOT. For fully automatic weapons manufactured after 1986, ownership is restricted to military and law enforcement users (with a narrow exception for FFLs who make demonstrations to prospective military and law enforcement purchasers).

          This is a relatively useful summary: http://www.titleii.com/bardwell/nfa_faqhtml.html

          To become an SOT, and thus have access to even pre-1986 automatics, you have to hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL) as a dealer (it’s not enough to hold a curio & relic FFL) and register to pay a $500 annual tax. Becoming an FFL dealer is no small task.Report

        • Scott in reply to Don Zeko says:

          The Germans (some say Hitler) coined the term “assualt rifle” in WW2 to describe the new StG 44. The groundbreaking weapon was defined by its use of an intermediate size cartridge and ability to fire either semi or fully automatically.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to NewDealer says:

      NewDealer – define ‘assault rifile’ please.Report

  19. DensityDuck says:

    It’s also worth pointing out that it was very quickly established that the guy was, as it were, bat-guano crazy.Report

  20. wardsmith says:

    Mike, Thank you for writing this. Although the politics (during an election year no less) of this has a muting effect, the commenters here have voiced their opinions loud and clear.

    I wrote my own OP about this last Thursday but ED apparently didn’t like what I had to say, and of course I’m a guest here so have to respect that. My take was all about the fact that we can expect NO protection from the police. Since then I’ve found a (certainly better) OP that discusses the same issue here.Report

  21. damon says:

    Given up? No way. If there is anything I’ve learned in the last 30 years is that those who wish to “improve” society, humanity, etc., is that they never stop.

    Perhaps this is a pause due to exhaustion, divided attention, lack of attention, insufficient traction, whatever. Rest assured, the “gun grabbers” haven’t changed their mind, and will, soon enough, be back on their campaign.Report

    • Don Zeko in reply to damon says:

      This sort of thinking makes me actually want to take people’s damn guns away. There’s a subset of the Right and the NRA that has an set of beliefs surrounding this issue that are simply not amenable to evidence or argument. The Democratic Party is in the middle of a 20-year stretch of sitting quietly and not complaining as gun right folks win in the courts, the states, and local and city governments, but in your head this isn’t evidence that it has given up on gun control. It’s evidence that the Dem. party has chosen to wait for some nefarious reason, but stay alert, because the gun grabbing will be happening any day now.Report

      • Ryan Noonan in reply to Don Zeko says:

        As my grandmother used to put, “Quit crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

        Simpler times.Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Don Zeko says:

        Don, please explain to me the rationale behind Fast and Furious? Why was it so unlike Wide Receiver in which a small quantity of guns were implanted with GPS receivers so that the guns could be tracked to the bad guys who had them? Why weren’t the Mexican authorities informed? Why was the scale so dramatically larger (up to 20K guns by last count)? Could it be, as many have asserted that F&F was utilized to make a reality out of the lie that the guns used in the violence in Mexico were coming from the US? Is the next obvious step gun control? Inquiring minds want to know.Report

        • Don Zeko in reply to wardsmith says:

          Jeebus, Fast and Furious? I can think of a half dozen explanations of this that make more sense than “it’s a plot to take away your guns at some undetermined date in the future.” You know what, fuck it. Let’s see if i can get to a half-dozen.
          Possibility 1) Fast and Furious wasn’t actually what’s been described in the Right wing media. In fact the cops were tracking guns with the intent of making arrests, but the relevant US attorneys weren’t interested in prosecuting gun trafficking cases. No actual gun walking was intended.
          Possibility 2) Fast and Furious was awful policing, but had no larger political intent. Don’t assume evil when stupid is still a possibility.
          Possibility 3)Fast and Furious was intended to facilitate future gun control by the people behind the policy, but those people are at best mid-level bureaucrats and have no ability to shape national policy.

          I suppose I’m out here, but the point stands. This is nutty shit.Report

          • wardsmith in reply to Don Zeko says:

            Jeebus, half a dozen? And you gave up at three. Perhaps someone should explain to you that half a dozen equals six. Needless to say you didn’t even click on the link did you? Therein you would have read in black and white that F&F was an end-run around legislation so that something could be implemented by executive branch (Demand Letter 3) that has zero congressional authority. Your point 1 falls flat on its face (since there was no tracking done there was no hope of making arrests) as does your point 2. And if your supposition 3 were indeed correct, why would Obama invoke executive privilege to hide that? It is always fun watching the Left squirm on a hook. You could just do what Ryan does, throw out ad hominems and run away.Report

            • Don Zeko in reply to wardsmith says:

              Personally, I had assumed that Obama invoked Executive Privilege because the F&F documents included some references to the death panel selection process, or perhaps a copy of his real birth certificate. Oh wait, am I being too unimaginative? Maybe they were really funneling guns to Al-Qaeda’s Kenyan/Indonesian affiliates in preparation for a real-life recreation of Red Dawn, but with extra Falafel this time?Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

              This comment applies.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to damon says:

      Given up? No way. If there is anything I’ve learned in the last 30 years is that those who wish to “improve” society, humanity, etc., is that they never stop.

      At least as long as miscreants like the Koch brothers are willing to keep funding them.Report

  22. Kazzy says:

    I can’t find the article online, but I just saw a Time magazine with the cover story “How Guns Won”. Might be worth a read.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      Can you spoil it for us? How did they win? Slate had a good article on how the NRA is so influential beyond its actual numbers and dollars. I’ll see if I can dig it up. (Basically, instead of money, they’ve got passion and lots of it.)Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        My apologies… I didn’t read the article. It was in the magazine rack at my physical therapist’s. I only noticed it on the way out. I’ll try to grab it next time. Had I read it, I would have offered it’s argument. Sorry for the confusion.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        A bit more Googling makes it appear that this is the latest issue of Time, due out August 6th. My hunch is we’ll hear more about it as it makes the round, either here or elsewhere. Hopefully someone like Mike or another LoOGer informed on the topic can do something with it, provided there is something of value in it.Report

      • Scott in reply to Will Truman says:


        I’m glad to hear that my membership dues are having the desired effect.Report

  23. Iffy says:

    The fact that most states have greatly relaxed their gun laws (concealed carry, etc) and murder rates have dropped sharply over the past decade has led most people to conclude that gun control is ineffective at best and counter productive at worst.

    We at a violent culture, or at least men are.Report

  24. Kazzy says:

    What are the stats on gun related deaths and violence? I understand that rates are dropping. If the drops are largest in the suburbs and other places where “people who tend to protest” live, I wonder if the threat of gun violence is out of sight, out of mind. It bubbles up when events like this occur because it threatens those folks, but because the baseline is lower, the bubbling up is more simmer than boil.Report

  25. Jason M. says:

    Hey, as long as we’re all throwing around reckless and ill-considered conspiracy theories, could someone here confirm my supposition that the Citizens United ruling means corporations can make donations to Super PACs with complete anonymity? The complete anonymity aspect is central to my “Gun manufacturers in the tank for Obama” theory. Obama’s presidency has been a boon for sales of guns and ammo, and they’re sure to want this fire hose of cash to continue for another four years. From Ward’s mouth to a PowerPoint slide of the sales department of Smith&Wesson: “Sure, Obama played it close to the vest in his first term, but now that he’s been re-elected…GUN BAN LEGISTLATION SHALL BE UNLEASHED! Buy em all up now, while you still can!”Report

  26. Kimmi says:

    Note: I think Beck’s Eliminationist Rhetoric lay behind most of the bitching about Gifford/the Doctor’s killing/the shootup in Tennesee. Maybe that’s not a GOOD reason to talk gun control (mouth control might be a better thing…).

    But I do know one thing: when someone comes into your church and shoots it up because you might “love gays” in a different way than people “love sinners”, smart folks leave the state. Nobody I know is getting recommendations to move to Tennesee anymore, even if they’re from there!Report

  27. LauraNo says:

    Tim Pearce: Who are the “anti-gun rights” crowd? I’d like to hear a new perspective on this issue.
    Are they the pro-abortion and pro-welfare-for-everyone people? I can never find one of these creatures to have a conversation with.Report