Mike Dwyer

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

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472 Responses

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    I’d appreciate it if your primer explained the gun show/private seller “loophole” to the background check system (scare quotes because there’s so much incompatible “information” about it flying around that I have no idea whether it’s accurate terminology or not.)Report

    • Bill Kilgore in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      The “Loophole” is a term used to indicate that private party sellers are not required to provide background checks on persons who buy their personal firearms. This is largely for practical reasons as regulating private party transfers would be virtually impossible.

      Gun shows- as I understand it- typically have areas where private parties display guns that are available for transfer. Thus, if you attend such a show, and choose to buy from a private party (instead of a licensed dealer who must insist on a background check) you can buy a gun without a background check.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

        Thanks, that was stated very clearly, and isn what I’d gathered from online discussions of the subject. But I was a bit skeptical, since it makes the background check system, one of the most common justifications for not requiring any further gun regulation, a bad joke.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

        Hmm. While the initial paperwork would be onerous, especially for large collectors, why not treat guns like vehicles?

        Complete with title of ownership. I suppose this might be a chilling effect to some gun owners, but I’m of the mind that if you own guns — whether one or a hundred — they should be registered. They are, after all, lethal weapons.

        My state makes me register my car, year in and year out. Registering a gun, getting the governmental equivilant of ownership papers for your weapon, just seems sensible.

        Admittedly I can think of some logistics problems — lack of serial numbers on older guns, that sort of thing. Gun theft would still be a problem, but it would certainly work as a shield for responsible owners as well as aid law enforcenment in figuring out where criminals got their guns.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Morat20 says:

          Morat – I think we can agree that forced gun registration won’t prevent spree killings, right? With that said, there’s something to be said for creating an ownership society with full registration. The obstacle here is that you have millions of guns floating around unregistered. In order to get those registered, you create have to go into homes. Not advisable.

          That’s why I really like the microstamping of ammo. It can be implemented much faster, covers all guns in time and essentially the gun owners will seek out the registration method instead of the government having to go into their homes to get old guns registered. It also eliminates the pesky problem of trying to get guns on the books that have gone through several owners with no documentation.

          An example of this last phenomenon: I have a shotgun that was manufactured in the early 1950s. It had an unknown number of owners before ending up in a pawn shop in Murray, Kentucky where my father purchased it in 1969. When he passed away it went to me. That’s a tricky item to try to document.Report

          • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            “forced gun registration won’t prevent spree killings, right?”

            I think the goal is reduce or greatly reduce the number of killings, including spree killings.

            ” you have millions of guns floating around unregistered. In order to get those registered, you create have to go into homes. Not advisable.”

            Aren’t many gun owners law abiding citizens? Wouldn’t the law abiding citizens register in order to comply with the law out of respect for the law. (Or is this stuff about illegal immigrants breaking the law not believed by the people on the right who believe it?) You’d be surprised how honest people are about a lot of things that they won’t get caught on, for fear of the small chance of getting caught and embarrassed, or for respect for kaw in general.

            Those that don’t comply will have greater reason to make sure their guns are locked down in a way that makes them less likely to be stolen (lest they be used in a crimewhich could possibly be traced back to the owner, even if unregistered, or in case the house was searched, or in case they had to be used in self defense prior to the police coming to the home to pick up the now-shot home invader.

            (As an example, I lived in a country where gun control laws got harsher and a libertarian-type friend didn’t want to comply. So he hid his rifles inside of a wall and plastered it up, hidden to all but a select few, even I didn’t know what wall he hid them in. Previously, he had simply kept them in his basement in a cabinet that would’ve been easily broken into.)

            Granted, it will take years for strict gun registration legislation to slowly bleed unregisted guns away from non- law abiding, hard core criminals, but that is better than the current system where there is a firehose of supply of new guns. The goal of gun registration is partially this: slowly draining the pool after making the inflow of guns and their free flow nearly non-existent.

            In short, it couldn’t hurt anything at all worth avoiding hurting.Report

            • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              Indeed, if I was a non-complying gun owner, I’d be scared crapless that my gun would get stolen during a burglary (and later discovered at a crime scene) or that I’d have to kill or injure in self-defense with it and I’d have to admit to police that I had broken the law in a police report, or even that it would be discovered during an unrelated search of my house.

              We should also give incentives in the years to gun owners in the form of buy backs, amnesty for anyone who voluntarily turns over a gun, tax cedits for exchanging an old gun with a high capacity magazine for a new, “safer” gun with maybe a 5 round capacity and a gps chip like they have in ankle lock bracelets, or tax credits for shooting ranges and businesses that rent hunting rifles with gps devices to prevent theft.

              Ultimately, we can easily imagine transitioning to a world where every rifle and hand gun doesn’t have a high capacity magazine, and where it is very difficult to find a gun that the police cannot easily track moments after it is reported stolen. That transition will take at least a decade, but if we move towards it we can save more than a 9/11 per year (for an indefinite number of years).Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                …Indeed, if I was a non-complying gun owner, I’d be scared crapless that my gun would get stolen during a burglary…

                If the gun was never registered how would the police know to go back to that owner and prosecute them?Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Glad you’re responding again.

                I was thinking of situations like this:

                Young X steals his dads best friend, old Mr. Y’s non-registered gun and kills his girlfriend.

                The police investigate. They ask young Y, his friends, where did the gun from. Someone says, well his friends dad, old Mr. X had a gun like that, I think. The police go and ask old X. They tell old Mr. X they will dust for on the gun and he could be in trouble. Better plead guilty or get caught up in the murder trial.

                Maybe old X can deny it, and not get penalized for illegal gun ownership, but he has to worry about that possibility. That sort of thing in general is a scary possibility for illegal gun owners.

                In short, illegal gun owners would be like illegal immigrants (who knows what might happen where you get caught and deported, even if it is unlikely), but gun owners will have an easy path to ammesty: gun buy backs, etc.

                Why wouldn’t they take it.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5 says:


                Stolen guns represent under 5% of all gun crimes. It’s just not a common problem. And by the time an unregistered gun gets into the hands of a criminal it has already passed through several people.

                And I think you grossly underestimate how many people will resist registration by simply not doing it.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Ah, cyber space ate my reply.

                1. Fiver percent is a lot of deaths in the U.S.
                2. The goal is to make people fear that their gun might get used in a crime and traced back to them (or found during an unrelated search or during a slef-defense killing). As long as that happens occasionally, it will give people an incentive to register if their respect for the law is not more than the so-called “illegal” immigrants.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                Your policy proposals seem to fall into two general buckets:

                1) Too strict to ever be taken seriously
                2) Chipping away at the margins

                So let me help with a talking point. About 90% of the gun crime in the United States comes from handguns that were purchased legally (i.e. registered) and then passed on to someone else illegally.

                That’s a pretty narrow scope in terms of what needs to be done. It’s not as sexy as banning assault weapons or as meaningless as worrying about stolen guns, but it’s also the most necessary. How do you fix that?Report

            • George Turner in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              That transition would take about a hundred years. Just yesterday I sold a British Enfield made in 1916, with a ten-round magazine, still in good to excellent condition. They don’t wear out like cars.

              Aren’t many gun owners law abiding citizens? Wouldn’t the law abiding citizens register in order to comply with the law out of respect for the law.

              Not likely, as few gun owners think it’s the government’s business what personal possessions and family heirlooms they have, and there’s a long estabished thought that registration is just the government’s way to con people into documenting all their guns so the government can seize them. They might document some of the guns they don’t have much attachment to, but the stockpile for the zombie apocalypse will be unremarked.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to George Turner says:

                I agree that the primary problem in enacting strict gun control is the delusions of gun owners.

                But it won’t take 100 years with buy backs, penalties for unregistered guns. And it is true, the will always be some unregistered guns, kept hidden in safes, but the flow of guns and the unsafe holding of guns will be lessened, which will lessen the homicide rate. That’s the point.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Gun registrations & seizures would be less of a concern if places like CA didn’t make a habit of deciding a weapon is illegal & then using the registrations to seize the property without compensation. The federal government has never done it, but some states have.Report

              • This is actually a point that Chuck Schumer (I repeat – CHUCK SCHUMER) acknowledges in his surprisingly thoughtful commentary piece today.

                From the piece:

                In the current state of play, moderate gun owners have become convinced by the NRA and other, even more radical gun organizations such as Gun Owners of America that the goal of all gun-safety advocates is to take away their guns. These owners view even the most reasonable gun-safety proposals with suspicion, fearing a slippery slope to a ban on firearms. This paranoia is what gives the gun lobby its power. …
                But this radicalization was also abetted by those who really were seeking an outright ban on guns.

                Schumer slips into his usual ways in making the “Fire in a crowded theater” reference, but other than that, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him say something on the subject where he sounds like he kind of, sort of, understands the issue from the other side.Report

              • This is partially why I think that Michael Bloomberg is a *terrible* spokesman for the anti-gun movement. I find it very unlikely that, in his heart of hearts, he doesn’t want to actually ban guns or make them exceptionally difficult to get? And that most measures between here and there go towards that end?Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                WOW! Will wonders never cease…

                & Bloomberg is a huge hypocrit who is obviously of the “Guns are not for the little people” mindsetReport

              • If you ask me, Michael Bloomberg is a terrible spokesman for *any* movement. In my mind, he’s a perennial Top-5 contender for A-Hole of the Year.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Bloomberg doesen’t realize that without guns, it will be hard for citizens to apprehend people flaunting 32-ounce slurpies.

                This article burned with rage at Obama and Bloomberg for having armed protection for themselves and their families while trying to deny it to their fellow citizens.Report

              • Derp de Durr! in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                “I agree that the primary problem in enacting strict gun control is the delusions of gun owners.”


          • Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            It’s not exactly to prevent spree killings — it’s there to start moving America to a responsible gun ownership society. Used to be — back before, frankly, the nutcases took over the NRA — America was a bit more responsible.

            I have no idea what happened in the 80s and 90s that turned the NRA from a group of, basically, responsible gunowners (mostly hunters) into a collection of nutcase black-helicopter types who militarized themselves and transitioned pretty much entirely into an organization dedicated to making sure you could lay your hands on as much lethal-to-human hardware as you could, with “Oh yeah, and hunting rifles and stuff” as an add-on.

            As for legacy guns — require them to be registered, give a grace period of a year or two to get it done, and make unregistered guns subject to seizure afterwards. Sure, law-abiding Americans are unlikely to have their houses searched for something unrelated and their unregistered guns seized (although, you know, we should reform those drug laws because that is sort of becoming a problem), but then again law-abiding Americans would probably have filled out the paperwork to register them, antiques and new guns alike.

            At that point, if you haven’t registered your guns — you’re gonna darn well keep them locked up, won’t you? You’re not gonna be wandering around in public with it, in case some police officer checks to see if you’re both registered to carry and the gun itself has been registered.

            So in short: Law abiding Americans have registered their weapons, grumblingly take their classes on gun safety, and act like grownups. The black helicopter crowd and the criminals hide or lock their guns away, because they don’t want the cops to notice them.

            Which basically means….guns are locked away. Which I’m absolutely fine with.

            Add into documenting sales with the state, and removing those idiotic “privacy” laws that ONLY apply to guns, and you’ve started creating a paper-trail on guns. And I am TOTALLY OKAY with that.

            Because guns are made for killing things. Animals, people, whatever. It’s made to kill them. They’re lethal, efficient machines created to kill. The fact that you can also put holes in a paper target is a nice bonus, but they’re designed to kill.

            I can track my stupid car through every owner EVER, I should be able to do the same with a lethal freakin weapon.

            (And yes, I do shoot. Not well or often, but I do. My father-in-law has a sizeable collection, all for hunting — well, the 22 pistol for target shooting isn’t. Although at least 60% of his collection was inherited. The only reason I don’t own a shotgun or rifle is because I use one of his, and just cover the ammo)Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Morat20 says:

              “I have no idea what happened in the 80s and 90s that turned the NRA from a group of, basically, responsible gunowners (mostly hunters) into a collection of nutcase black-helicopter types who militarized themselves and transitioned pretty much entirely into an organization dedicated to making sure you could lay your hands on as much lethal-to-human hardware as you could, with “Oh yeah, and hunting rifles and stuff” as an add-on.”

              That’s much more of a perception thing than reality. The truth is that the general public only sees what they want to see. The NRA is still doing plenty for hunters and more importantly, firearm safety (which is their primary mission).

              Also, while creating a paper trail is fine, how does that stop gun crime? What about that process makes a gang member less likely to carry a concealed weapon illegally and then murder someone with it? What about registration makes the future spree shooters of America less likely to commit mass murder?Report

              • zic in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                What about that process makes a gang member less likely to carry a concealed weapon illegally and then murder someone with it? What about registration makes the future spree shooters of America less likely to commit mass murder?

                In hard terms, you’ll deter some people at the margins from gun violence; but you won’t stop it; and we all know that.

                But in soft term — in the language of custom and acceptable behavior, you re-wire the message. In too many homes, guns are a recreational activity, they’re fun, and it’s not clear that the responsibility guns trigger get more than lip service instead careful, deliberate thought. Guns are not bowling balls or skateboards.

                I’ve been in homes where the walls are shot up by the folk living there; in rural places, not urban. A bottle of Jack Daniels and a hand gun and a long, cold winter night are sometimes not kind to the sheetrock.

                I’ve seen women cower in my home, where I’ve given them shelter for a night after a difficult day in court, knowing their estranged/ex husbands own guns and have threatened to kill them. I’ve been shot at by an abusive neighbor after his wife lied and told him I’d testified on her behalf. (I would have testified, if she’d asked, but she didn’t, she just told him I did.)

                I’ve also known several people who were shot, most of them are dead, in ‘hunting accidents,’ and in two cases, the folk who died were not hunting, they were going about their normal business around their homes. I happen to think there’s no such thing as a hunting accident; if you don’t know exactly what you’re shooting at, you shouldn’t be shooting, it’s not an ‘accident,’ it’s demonstrated lack of responsibility.

                It’s convenient to lay the problem of gun violence to gang violence and drug wars; but that’s not the gun violence I’ve encountered. We probably shouldn’t separate the conversations about gangs from poverty; they are intertwined, just like we cannot talk about what happened in a school in CT without talking about mental health.

                Personally, when folk suggest that a change in gun laws does nothing so we shouldn’t change the laws, I think it’s copping out of a debate because the debates difficult, you fear you’ll have to give something up, something that’s protected by taking the action of doing nothing. It means that at the end of the day, you may be sad about the status quo, but not enough perturbed that you’re willing to talk and compromise.

                (And I don’t mean you, specifically, Mike, but to address the reasoning in general.)Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to zic says:


                You make some good points regarding gun safety. I will say though that with regards to hunting, most states, my own included, require hunter safety classes in order to hold a hunting license. They go a long way towards preventing accidents – although some people are still jackasses. I run into that problem regularly when hunting public land.

                As for the individual that shoots up their house or shoots at a neighbor or whatever, yes, that is terrible. I just don’t see a gun registration requirement as preventing that.

                I’m not opposed to new laws IF they have a chance of working. Believe me, a lot of gun owners would disagree with me about microstamping ammo. I’m also willing to consider a special permit for those wanting extended magazines. Full registration though is something I am skeptical about.Report

              • zic in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Thanks, Mike.

                A big part of the problem we’re likely to run into in holding this discussion is delineating the hard talk — actual change in regulation — and the soft talk — change in culture. I think many other people have made the point that alcohol/smoking are both good examples of the cultural change; it’s important to remember that both also involved regulatory change. While changes in law and regulation don’t solve the problems, they do give heft to the soft talk that helps bring about social/cultural change.

                There’s good reason to make sure we look at both regulatory change and cultural change, and recognize how the can work hand-in-hand toward moving us in a better direction.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to zic says:

                Part of that cultural shift is getting the government to stop making life difficult for gun owners just because they can. It would be nice if the majority of gun law violations that were technical did not result in felony level penalties, i.e. you should not be charged with a felony until you discharge a firearm in a dangerous & reckless manner.

                David Olofson should not have been sent to federal prison for 30 months, he should have gotten a fine & at the least been ordered to repair the firearm (like if you had a burned out tail-light), or at most had the faulty weapon confiscated.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                The the NRA needs better PR people. And probably to stop blocking commonsense measures that have high approval, even among gun owners. I’m not sure why your right to own a lethal weapon is more absolute than, say, free speech — which has plenty of caveats.

                Registration is simply a step, Mike. You’re not gonna solve gun problems with a single law — not with the culture America has. The best you can do is enact laws that make gun owners responsible for their guns.

                Part of that is registering them — knowing your gun is tied to YOUR name certain helps ensure you keep it properly stored and report it to the police if it’s stolen or lost, hmm? It certainly aids police in trying to track guns — and helps them identify if, say, a supposedly legitimate “private collector” has stolen weapons in his posession.

                Accountability, Mike. We can’t stop spree killings, but we can enact laws that force gunowners to be responsible for their guns. Whether that stops a spree killer or a gang member is irrelevant — it’s simply a pretty darn good idea for people who own a lethal weapon to be responsible with it, hmm?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                FWIW, here is an article on the expiration of Canada’s gun registry.

                (Also, if you haven’t checked the email address you supplied, I sent you an email a little while ago.)Report

              • That story’s interesting, but it’s truthiness isn’t quite up to par.

                It’s correct that the gun registry cost (past tense) a ton of money and was a giant boondoggle, but that was the development costs. The maintenance costs were peanuts.

                And, of course, Canada still has a gun registry, just not a long-gun registry. I don’t know how much it differs from any registries in the states, though.Report

              • Honestly, I found the questions about the law’s efficacy more interesting than the cost. I actually found the fixation on the cost to be… odd. I wouldn’t care if it cost money if it (a) were effective and (b) there weren’t issues of freedom involved.

                When I look at our situation with the TSA, cost isn’t my concern. What guns are still be registered? I thought handguns were mostly banned?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Morat20 says:

                Morat – stolen guns represent a tiny part of the guns used in crimes. Owners ARE responsible for their guns. The problem is really at the gun store level. They know when they are selling to a gun trafficker and the penalties are tiny.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                And at the gun manufacturer level. if they were held accountable for every smuggled gun…
                Surely the manufacturers can id the bad stores, and put them out of business??Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Wouldn’t registration fix that though? A gun is used in a crime and the last registered owner is the gun shop — now the owner is complicit to some extent in the commission of a crime. Seems like they’d be less likely to sell outside the chain if the chain ends with them.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                So if a Car dealer sells a car to an alcoholic, he should bear the responsibility if the buyer kills someone with that car? Or if it is used in a bank robbery, or a drive-by shooting?Report

              • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                The car dealer passes the registration to the drunk/robber. If a car dealer was selling cars but not doing the paperwork, use in a crime would be the least of their worries.

                Also, the car is not being sold for the purpose of committing a crime — in this case, the gun is. Do you deny any culpability for the seller?Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

                Ohhhhh, I see what you are saying. But gun dealers do paperwork with every sale, a Form 4473 background check. If a gun is used in a crime, and the dealer did his due diligence by running the background check, how is registration going to fix that?

                Now, if the last known owner was a private citizen, that might make a difference, but not much. You have to prove he knew it would be used in a crime before you could establish culpability.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mens Rea still means something in this country (although I swear it is less & less each day). It’s easy to ‘know’ an FFL is running straw purchases, a lot harder to prove it (unless they are doing so at the behest of the ATF – See Fast & Furious scandal).

                Honestly, I would be very uncomfortable with the government being able to go after someone for what the government thinks it knows, versus what it can prove in court. Not that that stops it, but that isn’t supposed to be how it works.

                & FYI knowingly participating in a straw purchase is 10 years in federal prison.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


                A report showed that 120 gun shops sold approx. 55,000 guns that ended up involved in crimes. That seems to be clear evidence of trafficking or at least looking the other way.Report

              • zic in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Mike, listen to this essay, on NPR’s All things Considered yesterday.

                Does shed some light, and it’s a very different view then generally get’s represented here.


              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Link to said report?

                Seeing as how the number of ways the BATFE has at its disposal to make life difficult for FFLs, and to revoke their FFL, is legion, I would start to wonder who is turning a blind eye?Report

            • Loviatar in reply to Morat20 says:


              Do you notice that even though you calmly laid out a thoughtful process and reasoning for registering and securing guns, the self proclaimed “responsible” gun owner wants nothing to do with it. At the end of the day his right to own a gun will always outweigh your right to send your child to school safely.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

                1. I’m pretty sure Morat’s grounded enough to realize that simply laying out a considered argument doesn’t end a conversation; it begins it.

                2. Do you have a substantive point with your comments, or are you just trying to discourage others from engaging in discussion here?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Re: 2: the issue seems to be one of a) competing values and b) the relevant empirical evidence.

                I’m somewhat sympathetic to the argument that people who go on sprees will … well … go on sprees. So violating or restricting other people’s rights isn’t justified.

                I’m also sympathetic – probably moreso – to the argument that easy access to tools which can kill lots of people in a short period of time increases the likelihood that a spree will happen. Or really, any random act of gun related violence. I mean, the argument against this view is supposed to be that the criminally insane will get their weapons one way or the other. But that doesn’t really follows from the premise of regulation, I don’t think.

                Regarding the rights of the competing camps, I don’t think there is an inherent right to have children be safe at school, whereas there is a quite plausible argument for the right to possess weapons for self-defense. Obviously (at least it’s obvious to me) the excluded middle is precisely where the debate takes place.Report

              • zic in reply to Stillwater says:


                Something to be very clear about here:

                1. We are having this conversation because people went on shooting sprees, the most recent shattering the bodies of 20 kindergarten students in their classrooms.

                2. Spree shootings are just the tip of the iceberg in the discussion of gun violence. If all we do is talk about spree shootings, we do the conversation and goodwill needed to address gun violence disservice. Real gun violence is complicated; it’s women being murdered by abusive partners, drive-by gang shootings, etc.

                But it’s also a growing culture that feels they have the right to force their version of right on others; so a man can shoot passenger in the back seat of a car after demanding they turn the music down; supposing the passenger’s armed, even if he isn’t.

                We measure others by our own yard stick. If you walk around armed, does that increase the potential you think every other person you might have a confrontation with is also armed?


                Yes. We need to talk about spree shootings. We need to talk about mental illness; it’s criminal that we live in a nation where you have to turn to the criminal justice system to get help for a person in the throes of psychosis. Cops have become the first responders of mental illness, and can only respond after the fact. They are not trained for this work.

                But we also need to talk about the place of guns in our society; the responsibility you bear when you opt to arm yourself. A gun is not a bowling ball. There are many good, responsible gun owners. But right now, the gun drunks are giving them a bad name.

                We need to talk about family violence.

                Limiting the problem to spree killings misses most of the carnage.Report

              • Derp de Durr! in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                “Do you have a substantive point with your comments, or are you just trying to discourage others from engaging in discussion here?”

                YOU are definitely trying to discourage others from engaging in discussion here. His substantive point was: “the self proclaimed “responsible” gun owner wants nothing to do with it. At the end of the day his right to own a gun will always outweigh your right to send your child to school safely.”

                If you want everyone who isn’t a frothing mouthed, brain damaged lunatic gun nut out of the conversation just say so honestly rather than pussy footing around it and making veiled threats.Report

              • Loviatar in reply to Derp de Durr! says:

                Thank you for the supportReport

              • There were no veiled threats, as far as I could see.

                Loviator isn’t actually making a point about gun control. Rather, he’s trying to assert the moral superiority of people on his side over the people on the other side. It’s a shoddy way to make an argument and there’s nothing wrong with calling it out, in my opinion.

                The notion that this conversation is being limited to “frothing mouthed, brain damaged lunatic gun nuts” is belied by this actual thread.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:


                I understand that your role here is really just to provoke people and not actually defend your own positions but I would point out AGAIN that I have offered several policy proposals of my own including a consideration of reducing magazine sizes. I just remain unconvinced about the effectiveness of a registration requirement. Either your intentionally ignoring those comnments or you need to re-read this thread.Report

          • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            ” In order to get those registered, you create have to go into homes. ”

            Why? Why not make it a felony, with pretty severe penalty, to be in possession of an unregistered gun? As long as the gun stays in the home, there’s no problem.


            “It also eliminates the pesky problem of trying to get guns on the books that have gone through several owners with no documentation.”

            At this point, we may have say “possession is 9/10ths of the law”, and just grant registration to undocumented guns. But after a gun is registered, every transfer of ownership must be documented. In the case of your father’s shotgun, part of the estate proceedings would be a formal transfer of ownership — however vehicles are handled today.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      If you are taking requests, as a gun owner and a conservative (Republican?) I’d be curious to hear your take on the following…

      It seems that conservatives/Republicans (from herein referred to as “The Right” for simplicity sake) tend to be the strongest defenders of gun rights. It also seems that the right is the strongest proponents or most hawkish interventionists when it comes to nuclear armament, especially in Iran.

      My question is this: Is this a logically consistent perspective?

      Some caveats:

      – I recognize that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to foreign citizens or nations. However, many gun rights advocates derive the sense of a right to guns from something greater than the Constitution.
      – I recognize that a nuclear warhead is not a rifle. But if we are talking about the right to self-defense, including self-defense via deterrence, than I think you can see individual:gun as roughly equivalent to nation:nuclear warhead.

      It seems to me that if folks feel that they have a god-given or otherwise inalienable right to possess arms to defend themselves from their fellow citizens and the government that we should also recognize the rights of governments to possess arms to defend themselves from other governments. Yet I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such an idea articulated by the right. I also don’t know that I’ve seen it from the left, but the left does not make the same claims to gun rights that the right does.

      Personally, I don’t think our government, or any government, should inject themselves into the armament of another government. It seems a fundamental function of the governing body. It also strikes me as highly problematic that the US assumed its role as the dominant super power in part through its development, possession, and use of nuclear weapons and now wants to cry foul when others attempt to do something similar.

      Hmmm… perhaps I should just write a post on this and solicit your feedback in the commentary. Oh well… I’ve come this far…

      And if you don’t want to take this on, I totally get that. I look forward to your writing, as I’ve come to really respect your position on guns (among other things).Report

  2. Sam says:

    I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-ease-with-which-guns-and-ammunition-are-gotten.Report

  3. Bill Kilgore says:

    I think your 90% figure is off a touch.

    Here is the most recent data:

    In light of the above, the general focus on rifles ….is curious. Unless you focus on the marketing.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Bill Kilgore says:


      My number came from guns used in all crimes which included homicides and non-homicides. I think it also included some guns that were not even actually fired but were recovered at crime scenes.

      If you’re looking at homicides only I am not surprised that rifles take a larger % because of the larger calibers and higher magazine capacity. Handguns might be used more but a 30-round rifle chambered in .223 is probably more deadly than a 9mm with an 8-round magazine in the hands of an inexperienced shooter.Report

    • Fnord in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

      6,009 out of 8,775 are recorded as handguns, according to your cite, which is indeed less than 90% (about 70%). But 1,939 are “type not stated” guns. So there are only 6,839 where the type of gun was recorded, and of those, close to 90% were handguns (87.9%).

      Incidentally, does it strike anyone as odd that the number of gun homicides that are “type not stated” rose significantly over the 2006-2010, even as the total rate of gun homicides dropped?Report

  4. zic says:

    Thank you, Mike.

    And a primer would be much appreciated.Report

  5. Kim says:

    “Gun violence related to gangs and drugs has its roots in communities without enough fathers and in the warped need to cary a gun to feel like a man.”

    I don’t think this is it. At all. If you can’t trust the government to do it’s job and protect you, then of course you carry your own gun for protection. It’s only natural.

    People in cities who can depend on the cops (people not working in the underground economy), don’t carry guns, for the most part.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

      Kim – I specifically said gang-related violence.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Yeah-huh. I’m saying without drugs being illegal, the violence would tank.
        So too might the gangs, for that matter.

        Carrying a gun is a survival mechanism for a drugdealer, just like
        letting 10 junkies hang out outside (as an early detection system for trouble).Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kim says:

          Kim – do you think that if drugs are legalized all of those kids are going to become businessmen?Report

          • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Dude. They already ARE businessmen.
            Take away the drugs, and you have simultanously killed their source of funding for weapons, their need to organize into roving bands (though perhaps not their desire), and most of their reason to not call the cops.

            Do I think that some of these people could be gainfully employed doing Wall Street trading? Of course, with a bit of training. They’re used to high stress, and icing out if you fail.Report

            • DRS in reply to Kim says:

              Kim nails it on this post. These guys are businessmen – they make cost-benefit analysis decisions, they know how to cut their losses and as she says, they know what it’s like to work under pressure.

              I worked for a youth rehab organization many years ago – kids who had been first-time drug offenders, still under 19 years old, all male (at least the group we dealt with), part of their parole was getting help for their drug taking, etc. etc. Most definitely the youth-at-risk category all by themselves.

              They all had a desire to get rich. They wanted to live in the nice houses in expensive neighbourhoods and had no idea how to get there except by doing what they were already doing (but not getting caught next time, obviously). They saw no need for school, saw it as a waste of time. All thought they knew more than the teacher.

              So the counsellors created a mock stock-exchange, where each received $10K in Monopoly money and they followed the stock markets, invested their play-money, watched the day-trading sites obsessively, everything. By the end of four months, each had increased his pile by a factor of 3 and one smart (and lucky) kid got as high as $75K.

              They were amazed. No idea you could get rich legally. It turns out they thought most really rich people were just really good at doing things illegally – that led to some further discussion one-on-one. Once it was explained to them in terms they could understand – wearing a suit everyday is like wearing your colours, it’s part of the look, the image, the costume – it all fell into place for them. And it helped to get them back to school, which they weren’t thrilled with but finally saw as a means to an end – which they hadn’t before.Report

              • zic in reply to DRS says:

                I highly recommend this comment.

                Awesome, DRS.Report

              • Kim in reply to DRS says:

                Four months? Shoot, that is doing well!Report

              • DRS in reply to Kim says:

                Well, it was the 1990’s, after all. And one of the counsellors had a father who worked for a brokerage and he came in and gave them advice on how to pick stocks intelligently. “Never go for what’s in the headlines this week – that’s PR” “No matter how bad the economy gets, people need to be clean – so look at companies that make toothpaste and shampoo.” “Remember – everything has to be made of something, so mining companies are always worth a look.”

                And they were naturalborn businessmen. It made sense to them. It wasn’t the usual “kids, don’t do drugs!” stuff they heard all the time. They came from troubled homes, absent fathers, overworked mothers – what did they know about middle-class life except what they saw in the media? Seriously, I believe clearing gangs off the street will be easier if authorities look at draining the recruitment pool and treating kids at risk as misdirected future entrepreneurs than as potential criminals.

                Unfortunately most authorities (police, schools, politicians) are fixated on the “YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING BAAAAAAD!!!!!” message. Very short-sighted.

                If there’s an appropriate post, I’ll tell you how they took to Shakespeare readings and liked them.

                Thanks, zic. You’re too kind. And you’re on fire on this thread too.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            It’s not every day that I both understand what I think Kim is getting at, and mostly agree with her, so I feel I should chime in.

            If drugs were legalized, we’d still see some beef-type shootings over girls, and gang turf, and other petty vice industries like prostitution (which, legalize that too); and also that old standby of “respect” – especially since, sadly, the guns are already out there.

            But I would expect a significant reduction in overall gang violence (or at least lethal violence) if the profit center of drugs and its attendant black market requirements of extralegal conflict resolution and security schemes were to be removed.Report

  6. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    I’m looking forward to this.

    I really appreciate your well thought-out post here. This is exactly what I, for one, was looking for from the gun-owners of the League.Report

  7. Damon says:

    This seems like a good place to post a request too, since Kazzy did it 🙂

    I’d like to someone from BOTH the Left and Right to answer this question: 20+ kids and adults slaughtered by one guy with a few guns and understandable outrage follows. Hundreds, or more, kids and adults slaughtered by helicopter gun ships/drones/airplanes in Pakistan/Afghanistan and nothing. Where’s the outrage?

    Is it because it’s “far away”?
    Is it because they are “brown”?
    Is it because they are Muslim?
    Is it because there are so many killed; it’s not a tragedy, aka Stalin’s quote?

    Do tell.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      Mali’s my target.
      We at least hear about Afghanistan.

      There’s no money in reporting on Mali, no matter how many people die.
      No matter how many seven year olds kill each other with rifles.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:


      I’d say all of those and more. We briefly discussed this on one of the threads. And you need not even look overseas. How many young people are killed every day in America because of gun violence? The number isn’t zero, I know that much.

      It is a complicated issue. It doesn’t necessarily justify the disparate response which is indeed troubling. If I had to peg it down to one thing (which really encompasses all you said) it would be how relatable it is. If something feels like it could happen to you it is much more real than if it doesn’t. And it is more likely to feel like it could happen to you if it happened to people who look/act/live like you.Report

      • Damon in reply to Kazzy says:

        I agree Kazzy. The point of my question was not really to get an answer but to point out the hypocrisy. Yes, I understand the emotional aspect of proximity, same tribe, etc., but let’s proportional-ize this.

        27 people (mostly kids) die by one shooter and the US is up in arms over it. Understandable.

        Hundreds of kids die someone else from direct action by our gov’t and no one is up in arms. The same gov’t that is now up in arms about those 27 people. Frankly, I see little moral difference between CT and that infamous video of US Soldiers machine gunning civilians and kids and good Samaritans from a gunship.

        But I notice the hypocrisy and it disgusts me.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Damon says:

      For the same reason all of us would even be more upset if one of those kids that died were our family. Because we’re human beings, so we react like human beings. And among human beings, closeness, proximity, and ‘sameness’ matters to some extent.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        Not to mention the ability to do something about it.

        There used to be a saying:
        Clean up your own backyard before you clean up someone else’s.

        Now, failing to clean up someone else’s backyard, either first or simultaneously, has become “hypocrisy.”Report

  8. George Turner says:

    Here is a very interesting paper called “A Circle of Distortion: The Social Construction of
    Mass Murder in the United States.”

    Over the past twenty years, claimsmakers have asserted that the mid-1960s marked the beginning of an unprecedented and ever-growing mass murder wave in the United States. Recent research has shown, however, that mass murder was just as common during the 1920s and 30s as it has been since the mid-1960s. Using the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) and newspaper, network television news, and newsweekly magazine coverage as sources of data, this study examines why and how mass murder was constructed as a new crime problem. I suggest that the news media have figured prominently in the social construction of mass murder by heavily influencing which cases claimsmakers have selected as landmark narratives and, more generally, as typifying examples. Because claimsmakers have relied almost exclusively on national news coverage as a source of data, they have made a number of questionable claims about the prevalence and nature of mass murder since the high-profile cases represent the most sensational and least representative mass killings. And the news media have completed the circle of distortion by disseminating the bulk of the claims that have been made, leading to policies that have targeted the rarest aspects about mass murder. But not all of the solutions offered by claimsmakers have been accepted by policymakers. As a result, this study also looks at why claimsmakers tasted only modest success in constructing mass murder.

    It presents a great deal of data to make the case that we have a distorted view of mass murder because only a small and odd subset makes national news. For example, 22 percent of mass murders are felony related, 8 percent are interracial, only 5 percent are in the workplace, and only 2 percent use an assault weapon. But in academic examples only 4 percent are felony related, 30 percent are interracial, 26 percent are in the workplace, and 22 percent use assault rifles.

    If also goes into detail about how we came to perceive mass murder the way we do, looking back from the 80’s and thinking Richard Speck and Charles Whitman in the mid 60’s had marked the start of something new and dark, and then focusing on whatever sells the most ad revenue.Report

    • Kim in reply to George Turner says:

      3-4 people constitutes a mass murder now?
      Dude, that’s a guy kills his family. Finito, done.

      Maybe the WPIC shooting doesn’t count, but the one where Pittsburgh cops were killed by a guy lying in ambush does.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Kim says:

        Four people have always constituted mass murder, which is part of his point. To make national news you need to kill about a dozen in a workplace or public area and do a whole bunch of other statistically rare things, otherwise you just get local coverage. This leads to a distorted perception, and few would suspect that fire is used six times more often than an assault weapon and produces a higher body count per attack.Report

        • Kim in reply to George Turner says:

          But. Sir. We’re talking that lady who drowned her three kids in a lake?
          A Mass Murderer???
          I think this is an odd definition.Report

        • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          It seems odd because our discourse was determined by the media incorrectly framing mass murder to focus on the cases that would sell more newspapers and get higher ratings. Family murder/suicide is a very common form of mass murder, followed by murders committed during roberies and other crimes. So we have the odd blindness that killing two kids in a school attack is an incident of mass murder, but a guy killing his parents, wife, two inlaws, and three kids is not.

          Put another way, yesterday in the LA Times I read that only 1 percent of child homicides occur in school. What about the other 99 percent, and why do we ignore them?Report

          • Kim in reply to George Turner says:

            A guy killing his extended family seems somehow different than a parent trying to commit suicide with her kids. Call it a gut-check.

            Likewise, I think you’re having trouble analyzing these things. You’ve got a bit of survivor bias going on. That WPIC shooting? Five police departments showed up, within a minute or two of each other. Thus, one person died, and a few were wounded. The ER doctors/EMTs running in saved the rest.

            Maybe this is an extreme case… but I do really think that the amount of response can easily change a “one person dead” to “five people dead” really easily. Most people with gunshot wounds tend to survive ’em, after all — if someone calls a medic.Report

          • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

            But to the kids, there is no difference.

            Family killers tend to be thorough and often the incident isn’t even uncovered till long after. I think the easy bias runs the other way, because while we can all imagine being a random target in a public place, when we read about a family killing our gut response is “What a tragedy. Glad I wasn’t a member of that family.”

            In the Newton case, how do you even draw the line? Lanza started by killing his mother, then went to kill her “extended family.”Report

            • zic in reply to George Turner says:

              In the Newton case, how do you even draw the line? Lanza started by killing his mother, then went to kill her “extended family.”

              That, it seems, is an early-story rumor/myth. The school claims no knowlege of Nancy Lanza; they say she never worked there, never volunteered there, and the teachers there did not know her.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

              From a public policy standpoint, there is a difference between mass-murder instigated against (effectively/nearly random) groups of civilians and mass-murder inside a family.

              There really isn’t much, policy-wise, that you can do to prevent a mother from killing her kids. Moreover, as callous as it sounds, the general public isn’t going to find that risible as someone killing kids that aren’t theirs, simply because they’re not going to kill their own kids (and thus have no fear of such an event), but they can certainly imagine someone *else* targeting their kids.

              Generally speaking, the motivations aren’t aligned, either. People kill their kids (or their spouses) for vastly different reasons than killing strangers… so any countermeasure for the two will likely not map onto the other.Report

            • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

              Well, there’s also the oddity that you can go into a workplace and shoot everyone there, guaranteeing massive national media coverage, until you ruin it by cleaning out the cash register and jumping in a getaway car. Then it drops to page 6 of the city paper.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

                Pretty sure that’s actually the opposite of the case, George. It’s these sorts of comments that cost you credibility.

                Shooting the shopkeeper might get you on page 6, “Store Owner Shot in Altercation with Robber”.

                Gunning down “everybody there” gets you on the front page, whether you’re robbing the place or not.

                You know, like these guys:


  9. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    And include short descriptions on all of this:

    Militia Act of 1793, National Defense Act of 1916, NFA, GCA, FOPA, pre-May Sample, post-May Sample, DIAS, SBS, SBR, AOW, Other Weapon, Miller, K-baffle, M-baffle, 4473, Form 4, Form 1, Class III, C&R, FTF, DEWAT.

    Most people have no idea just how many laws are already on the books with regard to firearms.Report

  10. M.A. says:

    In the meantime I would encourage everyone to look at the coming debate over guns and violence in the context of our larger society. What are the driving forces behind spree killings and gang violence? Is the root cause guns or are they a symptom of something else?

    The Gun Thing – Eddie Izzard.

    “The National Rifle Association says that, “Guns don’t kill people, uh, people do.” But I think, I think the gun helps. You know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, “Bang!” That’s not going to kill too many people, is it? You’d have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that. “

    You can have other driving forces, but draw a venn diagram. It’s the intersection of guns with all sorts of other problems where the majority of the death occurs. That’s not a coincidence, that’s a result of a culture that glorifies the use of guns as a legitimized, “manly” way to solve problems and disagreements. It’s the result of a culture that thinks guns are to be handed out, responsibility-free, to anyone who says “gimme.”Report

    • George Turner in reply to M.A. says:

      We had about 17 school attacks, the Germans have had eight, the Canadians, two. Per capita they’re worse than we are for this type of thing, or not much different. The worst school attack in US history was carried out by a school official in 1927 in Bath, Michigan, who spent a year planning to kill everybody and even finished up with a car bomb.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

        If we’re going back 80 years, I am pretty sure that I can make a good case that the Germans have us beat.Report

          • Chris in reply to M.A. says:

            Dude, honestly, when your need for “gotcha” moments becomes so strong that you can suggest that the Ku Klux Klan beats out the Nazis in the mass murder department, something has gone seriously wrong.Report

            • M.A. in reply to Chris says:

              The Nazis were an army.

              The KKK were precisely the sort of thing we’re talking about here.

              If you want to try to equate domestic mass murder to the likes of Hitler, Pol Pot, or other military dictatorship actions, then you’re already starting off on an invalid comparison.Report

              • Chris in reply to M.A. says:

                I’m going to assume that words like Kristallnacht mean nothing to you, because I think it’s more charitable for me to assume massive ignorance on your part than to believe, as I’m tempted to do, that you simply need to be right so desperately that you’ll continue to argue this despite knowing what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Chris says:

              Well, in fairness, the KKK only killed 3,446 people in 86 years, which is 40 per year. There are probably apartment buildings in Chicago that are worse than that.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

          On a side note, even the Nazis, using Nazi methods, never managed to eliminate guns from possession by the French, the Poles, or anyone else who were determined to keep shooting Nazis. If they couldn’t make guns go away even while willing to massacre whole villages in retribution and torturing confessions out of people, it’s pretty safe to say that no policy will ever get rid of the guns.Report

      • M.A. in reply to George Turner says:

        The Swiss have managed to not have any. Why? What, culturally, is different?

        They have a high gun ownership society. They also have a high gun responsibility society. A vast majority of their population are (required to be) members of the armed reserves. They practice, culturally as well as for that responsibility. They treat guns as the dangerous weapons they are, rather than items of machismo.

        They require a sanity test from citizens before the right to own guns is conferred, and those who don’t pass are barred from owning. They have nationalized healthcare in a system that in some ways resembles Obamacare.

        Their cultural issues – between germans and french, and a few other minor caucasian groups – aren’t nearly as intense as what we see when MS13 fights Yakuza fights Crips fights Triad fights Mafia fights… well, yes.

        They get a lot of things right. High gun ownership can be something that’s not a problem, but high gun ownership in American society today clearly is a problem. It’s either intersection of guns with high-risk issues, or the intersection of high-risk issues with guns. Given that guns are the commonality with a number of high-risk issues in American society, addressing access isn’t a bad recommendation.

        This is not to say that addressing those issues isn’t also needed. But addressing them will also be a hell of a lot easier when social workers can visit troubled teens or families without feeling like they should put on a bulletproof vest just to drive into the neighborhood.Report

        • George Turner in reply to M.A. says:

          The Swiss know that committing any act of violence would generate excitement and confusion, and they just don’t do things that might cause excitement.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to M.A. says:

          It’s either intersection of guns with high-risk issues, or the intersection of high-risk issues with guns.

          If you have high-risk issues, you don’t need “guns”. You just need “weapons”. Mass killings happen all over the world, and guns are not always involved.

          I appreciate the fact that the Swiss have a high gun responsibility society, that’s a valid point, though.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            Look, America — or at least a very vocal minority – -want America to be a high gun ownership society.

            Fine, that ship has sailed. Even in the most fevered gun control dreams of the most liberal Democrat, the one he hides in his journal at night, it still leaves hunting rifles, shotguns, and at least some pistols in the hands of Average Americans.

            So what we need here is simple: We have a gun ownership society. What we don’t have is a responsible one. We have mentally ill getting ahold of guns. We have kids shooting themselves with their father or mother’s gun. We have gunshows that are somehow private citizens with armories selling to other private citizens, and not gun sellers selling to customers.

            We don’t keep track of gun sales, we don’t make people register their weapons, we don’t have fines or jail time for owning an unlicensed or unregistered firearm, we don’t require safe storage, we have — thanks to decades of the NRA’s lobbyists efforts — pretty much zero governmental requirement for responsible gun ownership.

            I think, given citizens and states have utterly failed doing this of their own free will, that the only thing that both might allievate the problems a bit AND might possible be acceptable to the majority of Americans – – is cracking down on irresponsibility. I go through more paperwork yearly on my car, compile a lengthy record on my driving — than anyone with a gun does.

            Mandatory registration. Storage requirements. Licensing requirements. Massive changes to how sales are handled, including the equivilant in having to sign over the gun. (Which might help the occasional person whose handgun shows up a murder scene years later. Noting that he’d sold it, legally and above board, to Bob X four years ago is a useful defense).

            You want to own guns? Fine. Go for it. You’ll need a gun safe or locked safe, you need to register your firearms, attend annual training — the gun equvialant of defensive driving — and basically FORCE you to act responsible, because way too many people aren’t.

            Guns are a lethal weapon, designed to kill. They’re very good at it. It’s deplorable that owning one requires less actual responsibility than owning a car.Report

        • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M.A. says:

          The Swiss also have a very homogeneous society, which helps a lot.Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            Kinda sorta. Keep in mind they have three distinct ethnicities, each with their own language. But, yes, even with that they’re surprisingly homogeneous and peaceable towards each other, at least when compared with the less ethnically complex Belgium.Report

  11. NewDealer says:

    Here are some issues or questions that I have:

    1. Do you think that urban/suburban residents have different needs when it comes to gun policy than rural or exurban residents?

    2. If yes, what are the differences and is there an equitable way to create a policy that meets the needs and desires of both groups?

    3. Are you personally concerned or freaked out by any of the attitudes of the gun lobby? If yes, what are they?Report

    • Kolohe in reply to NewDealer says:

      The evolution of gun policy in the US over the last half century goes something like this:

      Rising crime rates caused white suburbanites to be scared of black men having guns and thus moderate Republicans allied with urban liberals to support gun control, reaching their pinnacle (and Waterloo)(Gettysburg? Midway? … Pearl Harbor?) with the Brady bill.

      When crime rates finally started to come down, white moderates weren’t as scared anymore with black men having guns (and were less scared of black people in general) and so gun control no longer had the political heft it once did in the suburban political center of gravity.Report

  12. Shazbot5 says:

    Are you saying that you are against strict forms of gun control but you don’t want to talk about why you are against it?Report

  13. Loviatar says:

    We used to allow people to smoke indoors in order to further their relationships with their family and friends, we used to allow those with an obsession with smoking to smoke around children and newborns. We no longer allow either of those things.

    When does your right to love guns outweigh my right to send my son to school with the expectation that he would not be gunned down with an assault rifle?

    When does your responsibility to society match your rights to own guns?Report

    • greginak in reply to Loviatar says:

      Not sure what country you live in. People smoke indoors and in front of kids all the time.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to greginak says:

        We did used to think that the rights of people to smoke at work, in airplanes, at movies, and in other confined spaces outweighed the rights of people who didn’t smoke to breathe unpolluted air. We changed out collective minds about that, and a good thing too.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Loviatar says:

      When does your responsibility to society match your rights to own guns?

      This question can go a *LOT* of wacky places.

      And has.Report

      • dhex in reply to Jaybird says:

        creepy rephrasing: when does the responsibility of a parent to society match their right to have mentally ill children?Report

      • Damon in reply to Jaybird says:

        “We used to allow people to smoke indoors in order to further their relationships with their family and friends, we used to allow those with an obsession with smoking to smoke around children and newborns. We no longer allow either of those things.”

        NO. In years past “society” believed that it was these were individual decisions with “society” having no say in the matter. There was no ALLOW. Then “society” decided that what was previously none of business now was. This was mainly the result of busybodies thinking that they knew what was good for everybody and enforcing their will on the rest of us.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Damon says:

          I’m perfectly fine with interior smoking bans in public buildings (that is, state-owned facilities) … private buildings, that’s something else.

          But filling a building occupied by people other than you with carcinogens is clearly not entirely an individual decision, nor is it good for most of the people in the building. That doesn’t make it a great place for the state to butt its nose in, but neither does it make it entirely a matter of individual freedom, dude.Report

  14. Loviatar says:

    @ greginak / @ Jaybird / @ dhex

    I like the attempted sophistry of your answers, but I truly would like an answer from Mike to my question.

    Why does his “Gun Rights” outweigh my child’s right to attend school without getting shot by an assault rifle?Report

    • Murali in reply to Loviatar says:

      This is a hard question.

      What would people choose behind a veil of ignorance?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Loviatar says:

      My sophistry was *ACHIEVED*, Loviatar.

      In any case, I would say that his gun rights exist as do your child’s right to go to school and not be shot exists and that, indeed, these rights can both exist at the same time.

      Good Lord, surely you don’t think that Adam Lanza was doing nothing more than exercising his “gun rights” by shooting toddlers, do you?Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:


      My specific gun rights certainly do not outweigh the rights of your children to a safe day at school, but that is because my gun rights do not cross paths with your children. If you say the existence of A makes B possible I would suggest we have a difference of opinion over what A is. I assume you will say it is legal gun ownership. I believe A represents free will.Report

      • Loviatar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        “My specific gun rights certainly do not outweigh the rights of your children to a safe day at school, but that is because my gun rights do not cross paths with your children.”

        Ahhh, but in the mind of too many of your compatriots they do outweigh my child’s rights. Too often people don’t realize that when they blindly support a group/cause not only are they supporting that group/causes mainstream positions they are also supporting that groups/causes extremist views. Your previous uncritical support of the NRA means that not only can I apply their mainstream positions on gun ownership to you I can also apply their NRA extremist positions to you.

        Unfortunately too many times the NRA has made it clear that my child’s right to a safe school are the price to pay for your 2nd Amendment rights.


        “I assume you will say it is legal gun ownership.”

        I have no problem with legal gun ownership what I have a problem with is responsible gun ownership. Too bad when it comes to guns, you and your compatriots are more worried about the legality and not enough of about the responsibility.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:


          “Too bad when it comes to guns, you and your compatriots are more worried about the legality and not enough of about the responsibility.”

          That’s the whole point. The way guns are used depends 100% on personal responsibility. George Turner made the obvious analogy here. A quick search shows an average of 900,000 peopel being arrested for drunk driving every year. Does that mean all those car owners care more about the right to drive than the thousands of people killed in drunk-driving accidents every year?Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            If they oppose drunk driving laws (i.e, want to repeal the laws relating to BAC and make drunkenness at most an enhancement to the penalty for vehicular manslaughter), then yes, they do care more about their right to drive inebriated than about anything else.Report

          • Loviatar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            First off, let me apologize to Mike at the beginning because while I address my comments to and about him, for me he is a stand-in for the great majority of “responsible” gun owners.


            “The way guns are used depends 100% on personal responsibility.”

            No, the way guns are use are the way they are designed to be used, to kill things. Personal responsibility should have kicked in when you decide that maybe shouldn’t support the sales and usage of assault weapons in a non-battlefield environment. Please explain why you never took “personal responsibility” to say to the NRA, no I can’t support the sale of a Bushmaster .223 with multiple 30 round clips to civilians. That is a product designed for war, it has no other purpose, it is designed to kill humans, many many humans on the battlefield, why did you support it sales to civilians. Where was your “personal responsibility” the last time you renewed your NRA membership and sent them a check.

            Please understand, the “personal responsibility” of gun ownership started way before Adam Lanza pulled those triggers.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:


              You just apologized to me for making a generalization and then made another assumption here. I’m not an NRA member and never have been. I choose to give my dollars to Ducks Unlimited and my local Fish & Wildlife Dept. instead.

              So is your problem with a .223 round, the high-capcity magazine or the rifle? Because there’s a lot of nuance there that you seem to be ignoring.Report

              • Loviatar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Okay I’m a bad person for generalizing and assuming you were an NRA member.

                Now back to my question; have you ever taken “personal responsibility” and stood up and said to your gun owner friends you know supporting sales of Bushmaster .223s with multiple 30 round clips to civilians is not what we want to do as “responsible” gun owners. Or did you just care more about your gun rights than not your gun responsibility.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:

                I’m not sure why I would stand up to the NRA on that issue when I don’t believe those guns are a real problem. The stats seem to support that when they only account for 10% or less of gun crime.

                Again though, is your problem with the .223 round, the magazine or the rifle?Report

              • Mr. Blue in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                You’re missing the point, Mike. Personal Responsibility here means agreeing with Loviator and pushing your (his) views on others. It has nothing to do with actually taking responsibility over your own actions or with regard to your own conscience. Either you’re with him or you’re against him and civilization.

                The most dangerous place in the world to be is between some people and their own sense of self-righteousness.Report

              • Loviatar in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                Mr. Blue,

                I guess it was self righteous of me to ask Mike to expound upon his “personal responsibility” statement. I know its usually not done and a little presumptuous to question a conservative when they’re on a “personal responsibility kick.

                However maybe you can answer for him; pray tell when it comes to gun ownership, in your opinion where should “personal responsibility” start?

                Should it start with the millions of gun owners who blindly and uncritically support an organization with extremist views on gun ownership?

                Should it start with a NRA leadership espousing and pushing extremist gun ownership legislation?

                Should it start with a mother of an mentally unbalance child purchasing assault weapons and training that child to use such weapon?

                Should it reside with the mentally unbalanced child who ends up pulling the trigger?

                Or should it reside with the millions of parents who send their children off to school with the expectation that they’ll be safe?Report

              • Mr. Blue in reply to Mr. Blue says:


                Personal responsibility means taking care of your own. If you buy a gun, learn how to use it. Learn to properly store it. Don’t kill people unnecessarily with it. Telling others what they can and can’t own – passing laws to that effect – doesn’t fall under personal responsibility.Report

              • Loviatar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                “I’m not sure why I would stand up to the NRA on that issue when I don’t believe those guns are a real problem.”

                And that is why I place you with the extremist; in your mind if the Bushmaster 233 type weapon “only” accounts for 10% of the problem then its not really an issue.

                Pray, please tell me at what % do we begin to consider the Bushmaster 233 type weapon a real issue.


                ” is your problem with the .223 round, the magazine or the rifle?”

                My problems are with the:

                Assault rifle (added the term “assault” since you seem to be dropping it from your description of the weapon), which is designed for the sole purpose of killing humans. Is it a good animal hunting or target shooting weapon?

                30 clip magazine, which is designed to allow the shooter to cause the maximum amount of damage before having to reload. Are most hunters so bad shots that they need 30 rounds to put down their animal or are they shooting at multiple animals in sequence and they need 30 rounds in order to get their kills for the day?

                Why are either of these items needed in the civilian world?Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Loviatar says:

                Why are Porsche’s needed in the civilian world? Nobody needs a car that can drive faster than around 80 mph, and cars with more powerful engines and smaller frames only make it easier for people to be killed in auto accidents. We should clearly ban all sports cars.Report

              • Loviatar in reply to Loviatar says:

                I’ve run into this before, question but don’t challenge otherwise you might embarrass one of the chosen gentlemen.

                Its their playpen so I’ll play by their rules.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:

                “Pray, please tell me at what % do we begin to consider the Bushmaster 233 type weapon a real issue.”

                Maybe after you’ve dealt with the handguns that are responsible for 90% of the gun crime. People like yourself who are going after assault weapons because you think you have some collateral after the CT shootings strike me as either opportunists or people who have been duped by scary terms like ‘assault rifle’. My inclination is to automatically dismiss policy proposals targeted at 10% of a problem and ignoring the other 90%.

                “Is it a good animal hunting or target shooting weapon?”

                Of course it is. A .223 round is fine for deer hunting in many places. Personally I shoot a .243 for deer which is only slightly larger. And for target shooting they are a blast to shoot. I see fellows with them at the gun range all the time.

                Large magazines are a legitimate concern but beyond that you are only talking about cosmetic features. I mean, does this gun look scary to you:


              • Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

                Mike – also worth pointing out is that the 10% to which you’re referring aren’t all so-called “assault rifles.” From the link Bill K. provided above, the roughly 10% of homicides from non-handguns (I’m assuming that the guns in the unspecified cases have a similar breakdown to the specified cases) are attributed to all rifles and shotguns combined, of which so called “assault rifles” are only a comparatively small proportion in terms of their prevalence amongst the general population. In fact, more homicides are from shotguns than rifles.

                Quick question, Mike – do you have a link for the stats you were relying on? I’m just curious as to which crimes “assault weapons” are used in since they’re used in such a small percentage of homicides – far less than 5%, it seems.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:

                Mark – here’s the link. It’s a survery of 175 firearms collected at a crim lab in California in 2010. I’m having a lot of trouble finding national-level details this robust so I’m hoping this is a representative sample. From the anecdotal info I have heard over the years I believe it is at least pretty close.


              • Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

                Thanks, Mike. I think you may be understating your point a little bit by relying on those numbers. First – those numbers have only 5%, not 10% of crime guns being designated as assault weapons under CA law (IIRC, CA’s definition of an assault weapon is slightly broader than most, though my memory may be wrong on that). Second, though, it shows rifles and assault weapons being used in roughly the same percentage for both homicides and non-homicide violent crime (it doesn’t say what falls under that terminology); given that, combined with the overall small sample size, it seems fair to say that the numbers cited by Bill W. above for national homicides are likely similar to the percentages for all violent crimes nationally.

                On top of that, it’s important to note that the California figures are not a random sampling- they’re pulled almost entirely from rural areas of California, and then only to the extent voluntarily reported from local law enforcement agencies. Local law enforcement agencies also have a strong political incentive to report AW crimes for the study that does not exist for other crimes, so if anything the CA study likely oversamples AW crimes. After all, the use of an AW for a crime in a jurisdiction provides a department with an argument for additional funding that it would not otherwise have.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:

                Thanks Mark – not sure where I got that number. It appears it could be even lower. From a 2012 report to Congress.

                “According to a 1997 survey of 203,300 state and federal prisoners who had been armed during the commission of the crimes for which they were incarcerated, fewer than 1 in 50, or less than 2%, used, carried, or possessed a semiautomatic assault weapon or machine gun.”


                P.S. I just found that report. It’s the mother load for gun stats.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar says:

                Loviator: Your questions have nothing to do with anything relevant to the post, and are pretty clearly aimed at derailing discussion rather than advancing it. Clean up your act or leave.Report

              • Derp De Durrr! in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Yeah, only rigid groupthink adherence is allowed here. Saying things that others find uncomfortable isn’t allowed, and if you do it the enforcers will come round to insult you and delete what you said while allowing the insulting, hate filled stuff they agree with to stand unmolested.Report

              • Mr. Blue in reply to Derp De Durrr! says:

                Totally true. If there’s one thing this site is missing, it’s liberals with attitude. That’s not allowed here at all.Report

              • If there’s one thing this site is missing, it’s liberals with attitude.


            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Loviatar says:

              No, the way guns are use are the way they are designed to be used, to kill things.

              Then why aren’t there a couple dozen million dead people in the United States? There’s about 240 million guns. I think the staggering majority of guns are not at all used the way you think they are designed to be used. I can’t imagine a greater substantive chunk of empirical evidence that guns are not used to kill people. There’s a staggeringly huge lack of bodies around.

              Which says to me that you’re massively anthropomorphizing guns. You’re endowing an object with a Purpose. You’re giving it an Identity.

              It’s a thing. It has no mystical powers of its own, no psychic imprint of its designer or its manufacturer. Its purpose, like all things, is determined by the owner.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Loviatar says:

              Loviator, The Bushmaster has a perfectly legitimate use other than killing people, that is shooting prairie dogs. It is entirely possible that you have a beef with killing harmless cute prairie dogs. I know a rancher in Montana who would disagree after losing a six figure stud horse whose leg was severely broken in one of their holes, and the fact that a prairie dog “city” can denude vegetation for dozens of acres since they eat from the roots up. Prairie dogs have an interesting ecological advantage. Since they are so efficient at “prairie dogging” popping their heads up to look for danger, coyotes and other carnivores have little chance of catching them. Poisoning isn’t good because the raptors eating the carcasses are likewise poisoned.

              My friend has gone on multiple prairie dog shoots. Because he’s such a good shot (multiple hits at 500 yards) with his Bushmaster, ranchers have given him the red carpet treatment, room and board feeding him like a king and ferrying him around to the prairie dog towns on their property. He’ll easily go through 1000 rounds on a trip. I guess by your lights the next time he buys that many rounds you’ll want to throw him in jail. Too bad he’s also an air marshal.

              In terms of lethality, the shotguns carried by police depts would be dramatically worse than an AR15 in virtually all these spree killings. In Aurora the death toll vs injury numbers would have been reversed.Report

        • Your previous uncritical support of the NRA means that not only can I apply their mainstream positions on gun ownership to you I can also apply their NRA extremist positions to you.

          Loviatar, I’ve known Mike for several years through blogging and I can attest to the fact that he is a responsible gun owner. You seem to hear the words, “gun owner” and think you know this person, which to me sounds pretty prejudiced to me. You don’t know this guy but you feel that you should because he owns a gun.

          That leads me to another point. A lot of folks, especially those of us who live in urban areas tend to assume that someone that owns guns is some kind of paranoid freak that cares more for guns than anything else. I used to have that opinion, but that has changed when I started meeting normal and sane people who owned guns. I learned that they weren’t wannabe Rambos, but regular folks that I could seek common ground with.

          I truly believe that as long as those of us that might favor some restrictions keep viewing gun owners as nuts, the longer it will take to deal with gun violence. If you want to see someone get defensive quick, just start telling them they are insecure about their masculinity or aiding and abetting killers. Such treatment will leave us nowhere.Report

          • Loviatar in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

            First off, let me apologize to Mike at the beginning because while I address my comments to and about him, for me he is a stand-in for the great majority of “responsible” gun owners.


            “I’ve known Mike for several years through blogging and I can attest to the fact that he is a responsible gun owner”

            You’ve missed my point, I don’t give a damm how responsible of a gun owner Mike is, by him uncritically supporting the NRA he is supporting extremist views. In some small but significant way he is an enabler of much of the gun violence that is occurring today.


            “That leads me to another point. A lot of folks, especially those of us who live in urban areas tend to assume that someone that owns guns is some kind of paranoid freak that cares more for guns than anything else. I used to have that opinion, but that has changed when I started meeting normal and sane people who owned guns. I learned that they weren’t wannabe Rambos, but regular folks that I could seek common ground with.”

            You know for while now I’ve been hearing a lot a people run around saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. Usually in conjunction with some shitty proposal that has to be accepted because the counter proposal is so much worse, well in this case the good just is not good enough.

            There is no sane reasonable assault rifle ownership and anyone who defends the right to own one is as insane and unreasonable as the assault rifle owner.Report

            • Don Zeko in reply to Loviatar says:

              I would think that the burden is on you, the person suggesting that we ban a given class of product, to articulate what it is about this product that is so bad, what harms you aim to avoid by banning the product, and why the ban is likely to have the desired good effect. You haven’t done any of these things, so I think you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself when you start calling people insane and unreasonable.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Or, to be more specific, I think that Mike’s done a great job of pointing out that large-caliber, large-magazine semiautomatic rifles are used in crimes quite rarely. I’d add that, if anything, such a gun is far less suitable for most criminal purposes than a handgun because it is big, bulky, and impossible to conceal.

                So if we want to ban such a gun, basically the entire purpose is to prevent rare, high profile mass shootings like the one in Newtown. But if that’s our goal, then I think we’re in TSA territory. Banning AR-15’s and AK-47’s orients our entire gun-control policy around a single very rare threat to public safety, and then takes steps that are both needlessly intrusive and unlikely to work. All of this assault weapon talk seems to assume that, had an AR-15 been unavailable, Lanzer couldn’t have taken several handguns with extended clips to the school and caused just as much death and pain.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Or just waited until school got out and plowed through the kids in the playground in his SUV.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Well if we’re talking about using cars or homemade bombs as murder weapons, then I think we’re reached a point where the weapon is either substantially less lethal or substantially more difficult to acquire. But if the legislative push is to make spree killers switch from AR-15’s to 9mm handguns, I don’t see what’s actually being accomplished.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:

                “But if the legislative push is to make spree killers switch from AR-15?s to 9mm handguns, I don’t see what’s actually being accomplished.”

                +1 And that’s all that is going to be accomplished here.Report

              • Loviatar in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Regarding the “cars” issue in all its permutations (drunk driving, speed, etc.). Are cars purpose designed to kill? Do they kill if used incorrectly? yes, but are they purpose designed to kill? No. Can’t say the same thing about assault rifles.


                But if the legislative push is to make spree killers switch from “AR-15?s to 9mm handguns, I don’t see what’s actually being accomplished”

                Maybe the fact that it would take a little longer to kill 20 kids and 6 adults, thereby giving the hope that the shooter could be stopped after maybe the first 6 or 7 if he had one in the chamber.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Who cares about the intent with which a car is built? Your argument against the legality of assault weapons is that they cause some societal harm to be marginally greater, and they have no reasonable purpose, so they should be illegal. But sports cars are exactly the same thing. They are marginally more dangerous than more boring vehicles, and there’s no way you ‘need’ that added capability on the road unless you’re driving in a reckless and dangerous way. But people like to have cool cars and drive fast, so they buy sports cars. Similarly, people think that it’s cool to go target shooting with AR-15’s, so they buy them. What’s wrong with the analogy?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:

                “…yes, but are they purpose designed to kill? No. Can’t say the same thing about assault rifles.

                You also can’t say the same thing about crossbows, swords and those cool Chinese stars we all wanted when we were kids. Your fascination with assault rifles is telling. You seem to have been duped by PR.Report

              • Kim in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Thermite is cheap and easy to make.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                #1 – Is it? All I know about making thermite I learned from Breaking Bad.

                #2 – I suspect that few potential spree killers know any more about making thermite than I do. So even if the hurdle is knowledge rather than logistics, that’s a bigger hurdle than exists for firearms.Report

              • Kim in reply to Don Zeko says:

                It’s a bit harder to make good thermite (you want a more pure oxide), but…Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I was very uncomfortable when the Romney campaign was threatening to make it.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        So you’ll have no problem giving up your car because drunk drivers occassionally kill children?Report

        • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

          Step 1 to obfuscate any discussion whatsoever regarding guns is suggest every bodies guns are going to be taken away.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            Greg, if someone points out that “gun rights” means “you can kill my child”, then when someone else, in response, says “give up your car because drunk drivers plow into kids” and you start yelling?

            You’re yelling at someone who didn’t start the whole “let’s make crappy analogies” game.Report

            • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

              Well i did give a snarky response to Lovi up thread but i didn’t specifically call out the silliness. For the official record i don’t find Lovitar’s approach here helpful nor is involving a good analogy. I’ve also been seeing the mentioning of taking away every bodies gun here and other places. That is just as paranoid and ridiculous. Its one of the ways there discussions get all cattywampus. The people i tend to agree with, who are making some good suggestions for improving gun laws are making just as many bad arguments as the people talking about mandating teachers pack heat, having 1st graders mob rush gunmen and saying we pissed off God so he didn’t protect those kids.Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to George Turner says:

          Some cars aren’t street legal. Neither should some guns.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            The fast, high perfomance cars are street legal. It’s the junk that’s not. I would be happy with a ban on .25 ACP pistols, the most worthless guns out there, once commonly given to 13-year old lookouts in gangs because they cost about a hunred dollars and were about a match for a .22 LR revolver, but without any of the accuracy.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            BTW, the apex of my gun designs, which mostly focused on rear extraction from the magazine, which increases effective barrel length and reduces Browning’s parts count, was a computer controlled aiming system where the barrel floated relative to the grip and trigger, with a camera aimed back at the shooter’s eye, which is an alignment bullseye. That isolated the shooter’s wrist from the aim equation, making the gun even simpler to shoot than a rifle, and just as potentially accurate with even a 128×128 pixel camera with a 5 degree field of view.

            Other benefits is that a better camera could also do an iris scan, making the gun user specific and rendering it useless for suicide, and it could even encode a picture of the firer on the spent casings for the police. Nowdays I would enhance that with a laser range finder, a forward facing camera for target tracking once the rear camera/eye line picked out a person to track, rate gyros for lead, etc.

            One problem is that a drunk pimp could pull a pistol out of their pocket and shoot someone a couple blocks away, but the real problem, and the reason I abandoned it, is that not even police could use it. The first time someone in a panic situation shoots a bystander, their lawyers would blame the gun, subpoena all the design notes and software, and crucify whoever made it. Even police lawyers would do this, and even with full video recording of the entire incident, there wouldn’t be a way to prove that the cop was looking at the innocent bystander to make sure she was safe, as opposed to a threat.

            So that’s one of my gun designs that will never see the light of day, as it’s both too convenient and effictive and none of the users would ever accept the blame for their screw ups.Report

        • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          Besides, gun owners don’t really have a problem with taking away every body’s guns, and in fact picking guns up from all the bodies when you run out of ammunition is sort of an honored tradition.

          At present, liberals have focused their anger on guns, which will accomplish nothing even if they passed a complete ban, such as Luxmbourg, which still has guns and sometimes has a higher homicide rate than the US. They can go after gun manufacturers over cosmetics or magazine capacity, but frankly, a magazine is less sophisticated than a beer can, and the profiliferation of home CAD/CAM/CNC systems, along with 3-D printers, means that soon anyone with a PC can make their own machine guns and ammunition, a potential cottage industry.

          Probably sometime next week a paranoid nut will ask the inevitable conspiracy question, “who benefits?” and realize that Lanza just saved his dad about 3 million dollars in alimony, plus whatever long-term costs Lanza’s care would incur, draw one of those cute little diagrams with faces and string, and conclude that their father/son time consisted of LCD, flashing lights, and a computer generated spooky voice saying over and over “Son. Kill your mother, then kill yourself. You must stop the alien invasion fleet she leads.” Then they’ll realize he works for GE, connect him to NBC and Comcast, and think the attack plan was spawned to boost ratings.Report

          • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

            “who benefits?” If i was in the stock market i would have bought into every major gun manufacturer. I’m sure gun sales are through the roof and will stay that way for every day there is any mention of guns in the media.

            FWIW. I don’t think banning big mags is much of an idea. Banning assault weapons…same. They will try to ban the ones that look like military guns but there will be plenty of others that can fire semi-auto. If there is a assault weapon ban, which i seriously doubt, it won’t touch the millions already in the community. Pro-gun people will, mostly, still act like the most oppressed group ever no matter what happens and despite years of victories for their views. Plenty will be sure a totalitarian state is just around the corner. Basically just the way they feel right now.Report

          • Kim in reply to George Turner says:

            Have you ever seen a 3-d Printer? We have 10 on the east coast.
            “Soon” may be a long time coming…Report

            • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kim says:

              I can build a 5 axis CNC that can talk to my computer & Google Sketch for about $500. I can build a $200 3D deposition printer after a trip to Home Depot. A light sensitive resin printer is maybe $500 & can also be built with parts from Home Depot & a few websites.

              You are thinking about manufacturing level Rapid-Prototyping machines, which are a lot more expensive & uncommon. But I bet there are way more than 10 of those on the East Coast (probably way more than 10 in the NY Metro area alone).Report

  15. John Howard Griffin says:

    One statistic I would present for consideration is that in the U.S. roughly 90% of all crimes that involve a firearm are committed with handguns. So-called ‘assault weapons’ represent less than 10% of all shootings. This is important to keep in mind when policy prescriptions are offered in the coming weeks.

    I have been thinking this same thing since the atrocity occurred. It is important to keep in mind, as Mr. Dwyer notes.

    As such, I am depressingly resolved to the fact that many words and much emotion will be spilled on this topic, and we will find ourselves, in the end, not much closer to addressing any of the underlying issues. Perhaps, we will even do things to take us further away from addressing them.

    Apparently, this is just part of American Exceptionalism. We’re different. It seems, as a country (in our impotence to grapple with this), we are really saying:

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of 6 and 7-year-olds.

    Maybe a GRB, meteor or the Mayan’s will solve this problem, since there is about as much of a chance of us addressing it as any of these other solutions.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to John Howard Griffin says:


      At the most what we are likely to get out of all this IMO is a renewed AWB that does nothing to curb gun crime and maybe closing the gunshow loophole which will have a slight impact. No one is going to propose serious policy changes.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Being able to treat pistols differently than rifles under the law would be a great start, IMHO.

        A shotgun is a much better home defense weapon.

        Whatever happened to rock salt?Report

      • Citizen in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I think what we may see out of this is more assualt type rifles in public hands. I know stores here are selling more in a day than they typically sell all year.

        I haven’t recently seen anyone approach the arms race between the civilian base and the government-military-police state. Why else would civilians want military hardware in their homes? I don’t know how labeling folks paranoid, whacky or redneck will defuse this.

        In light of things, if to pursue peace is to prepare for war, we must be in for a helluva alot of peace. I would like to see the “at home” military take on a little less facist flavor. Dropping back to the 1911 and m1 would make assualt types a little less sexy.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Citizen says:


          If you want my honest opinion the popularity of ARs is a pop culture thing. Think zombie movies, I Am Legend, The Road, Walking Dead and a fascination with dystopian stories. There’s a rising popularity not just in buying guns but in prepping, fallout shelters, etc. It’s a fantasy thing, not really any different than men who dress up in period costumes and run around in the woods with long rifles and tomahawks.

          And they are a lot of fun to shoot.Report

          • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            “And they are a lot of fun to shoot.”

            Does the “they” in this sentence refer to ARs, or, more grammatically correct, the “men who dress up in period costumes and run around in the woods with long rifles and tomahawks”.

            A valid case could be made for either possibility.Report

      • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I think you are likely correct, Mr. Dwyer. I’d also expect video games (and, less so, Hollywood) to be impacted.

        I keep thinking that, if America has a problem with gun crimes or violence or mass murders or whatever we want to call what we are trying to discuss as a nation, then it must begin with identifying what the problem is.

        But, we can’t even agree, as a nation, with what we’re really talking about (what the underlying problem is), other than “this horrific event has forced me to think about guns and violence in America”.

        So, why should we expect that any solution we decide upon will have an impact on the problem?

        Shouldn’t any discussion begin with defining the problem? Especially at a thoughtful place like the League of Gentlehumans?

        Is it gun violence? Is it mass murders? Is it guns? Is it mental health? Is it the death of children? American children? Is it power? Is it control? Is it something larger and more endemic to America’s society and culture? Is it something else? Is it many of these things?

        If it’s the last one (which is what I think), then we, as a country, have a lot to unpack before we should even begin thinking about solutions. I have every expectation that we, as a country, won’t do that. But, it’s all I can think about. Will our mass media, blogs, and culture help or hinder that discussion? Can we even have this conversation, which will likely take a longer period of time than our culture can usually stay focused? Will we all get to a point of having talked about it and grieved, that we will be searching for something to help us “move on”? And, will we have really addressed this by the time that happens?

        “What are we trying to talk about? What conversation are we trying to have?”

        I suggest that everyone start there – in your posts, your comments, your conversations, and your thoughts.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

          I should clarify, I think, that the above comment isn’t directed at you Mr. Dwyer, except insofar as you are part of Everyone. Your post of some of your thoughts allowed a safe landing for me to regard some of my thoughts in an open forum. I just thought responding to your comment was the logical place for it.Report

  16. Shazbot5 says:

    This article by philosopher Jeff McMahan decimates every commonly given argument given for not banning (or strictly, strictly regulating for a near ban) guns in the U.S.

    I am in full agreement and would be interested to hear how anyone can disagree.

    The only claim I disagree with is the claim that the old west contained a lot of gun-carrying. That is a sort of half-truth, based more on movies than history.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      He’s fine up until this point: “But, as with nuclear weapons, we would all be safer if no one had guns — or, rather, no one other than trained and legally constrained police officers. ”

      Because the analogy is broken, for one thing.

      Most of his refutation of pro-gun arguments seems at least defensible, and I agree with a bunch of it. Many pro-gun arguments are weak sauce.

      The problem is that this doesn’t get you to “gun prohibition as actually accomplishing anything”.

      Compare this list:

      To this list:,212,6,7,8,10,344,11,12,13,16,17,18,19,26,27,28,217,29,30,218,31,33,38,39,40,41,43,44,221,45,46,47,48,49,50,222,56,57,60,61,62,347,64,65,66,227,69,71,73,74,75,77,81,82,83,86,90,91,94,95,233,99,100,102,234,104,105,107,108,110,111,112,236,238,113,114,116,241,118,242,121,122,123,125,127,279,128,131,132,282,275,343,136,137,139,140,143,145,146,147,148,338,152,153,154,155,158,159,162,163,247,164,166,340,170,172,249,175,177,178,180,182,341,183,54,254,184,185,186,187,188,189,190,192,197,199,342,200,258,339,204,205,206

      I’ve looked at the data six ways to Sunday and I got nothin’.

      There is no significant correlation between gun laws, gun prohibition, and violent crime rate (particularly homicide), worldwide. All of the stats monkeys that show a correlation… do it by comparing one particular country to another, nearly the definition of cherry-picking evidence.

      This tells me that violent crime rates don’t have bufkus to do with guns. They have everything to do with something else. Socioeconomic factors (income, mobility, unemployment, education rate, discrimination) seems by far a much better predictor of the prevalence of violent crime.

      All the brouhaha over gun laws is looking in the wrong place.Report

      • I agree with just about all of this, Pat, but wanted to jump in to add that, as you would probably agree, this doesn’t mean that gun regulations of some sort or another can’t have a meaningful effect one way or another. It does however mean that, at minimum, a regulation needs to be well tailored to the environment in which it is proposed to be effective. It also sugguests that there’s a possibility, maybe even a likelihood, that there are effective gun regulations that haven’t so much as been proposed.

        I have to admit, the more I think about Mike’s ammo-stamping proposal, the more I think that it would be more effective in the long run than the majority of gun control proposals. I also am firmly of the opinion that mag capacity restrictions (which obviously have been proposed, just as a typically overlooked aspect of the AWB) are both legitimate and important.

        Guns without ammunition are harmless. Moreover, guns are usually not left behind at the scene of a shooting, but ammunition pretty much always is and has to be. Since ammunition is also only used once, chain of title is remarkably easy to establish.

        On top of that, tracking ammunition sales instead of establishing a national firearms registry is both more practical (since you wouldn’t need to retroactively register hundreds of millions of existing firearms) and alleviates a lot of concerns that a firearms registry would only serve to make it easier for the feds to seize guns if they were ever banned.

        There are a number of other things I like about the idea, but that’s a good start.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          Glad you are taking interest Mark and I agree on the points you mentioned. I like that it gets pushed out from retail stores instead of creating some kind of draconian registration regime for firearms. And it can take effect almost immediately as ammo stores for most people are relatively small.Report

          • Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Mike, I’m curious what you think about this article:

            It has the hysterical anti-gun attitude that is suffusing Slate right now, but the actual change seems like a good one: making guns that can only be fired by their owners, or perhaps only be people with an RFID ‘key,’ thus preventing many accidental gun deaths, suicides, etc.. Obviously this only has a large effect on a long timescale, since guns wear out so slowly, but it seems like a much more practical area for effective regulation than most of what’s floating around. Thoughts?Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Don Zeko says:

              If I ever buy a handgun for target shooting, I would probably only store it at home after this technology became pervasive.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:

              Smart technology is great but I’d be curious about its reliability, how many shooters you can map to a specific gun, how durable is the technology, etc. I think about how well the electronics in the gun would work 20 years after date of manufacture.

              And of course it isn’t retoractive it’s only marginally effective.Report

              • Register and Control in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                You should try out the canadian system.


                It works well for us and we’re a lot more polite up here than you are down there.

                Registering firearms. In order to be legally owned, a restricted or prohibited firearm must be registered in the Canadian Firearms Registry, which stores all data regarding firearms in Canada. To register a firearm into the system, a firearm must first be verified; its identification and classification being confirmed by an authorized verifier working with the RCMP. One must submit a registration application, which can be done online. If the firearm is being transferred from one owner to another the process can be done by telephone. Firearm registration certificates do not expire and do not need to be renewed. The Canadian Firearms Registry Online (CFRO) is accessible to police through CPIC.
                Public Agents Firearms Regulations, which took effect on October 31, 2008, require public service agencies to report all firearms in their possession. Agency firearms are those used by employees (i.e. service firearms) while protected firearms are those that have been found or seized or are otherwise being held. The timely reporting and sharing of information about protected firearms is particularly important for police as it will have a significant impact on investigators’ efforts to monitor the locations, movement and distribution of illicit firearms in Canada.

                If we can live with it you can too.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It would be easy to require regular “tune ups” for gps and smart technology to track whatever guns were or are sold.Report

          • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            “draconian registration regime”

            Would you call the regulations on the buying and selling of extremely hazardous chemicals and biological materials “draconian.”

            Indeed not.

            “Draconian” would be a ban on pregnant women getting abortions.

            Gopnik is correct here:

            “As I wrote last January, the central insight of the modern study of criminal violence is that all crime—even the horrific violent crimes of assault and rape—is at some level opportunistic. Building a low annoying wall against them is almost as effective as building a high impenetrable one. This is the key concept of Franklin Zimring’s amazing work on crime in New York; everyone said that, given the social pressures, the slum pathologies, the profits to be made in drug dealing, the ascending levels of despair, that there was no hope of changing the ever-growing cycle of violence. The right wing insisted that this generation of predators would give way to a new generation of super-predators. What the New York Police Department found out, through empirical experience and better organization, was that making crime even a little bit harder made it much, much rarer. This is undeniably true of property crime, and common sense and evidence tells you that this is also true even of crimes committed by crazy people (to use the plain English the subject deserves). Those who hold themselves together enough to be capable of killing anyone are subject to the same rules of opportunity as sane people. Even madmen need opportunities to display their madness, and behave in different ways depending on the possibilities at hand. Demand an extraordinary degree of determination and organization from someone intent on committing a violent act, and the odds that the violent act will take place are radically reduced, in many cases to zero.”


            “So don’t listen to those who, seeing twenty dead six- and seven-year-olds in ten minutes, their bodies riddled with bullets designed to rip apart bone and organ, say that this is impossibly hard, or even particularly complex, problem. It’s a very easy one. Summoning the political will to make it happen may be hard. But there’s no doubt or ambiguity about what needs to be done, nor that, if it is done, it will work. One would have to believe that Americans are somehow uniquely evil or depraved to think that the same forces that work on the rest of the planet won’t work here. It’s always hard to summon up political will for change, no matter how beneficial the change may obviously be. Summoning the political will to make automobiles safe was difficult; so was summoning the political will to limit and then effectively ban cigarettes from public places. At some point, we will become a gun-safe, and then a gun-sane, and finally a gun-free society.”

            Read more:

            Reduce the number of guns and prevent homicides. (Not all, just many.)Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5 says:


              ““Draconian” would be a ban on pregnant women getting abortions.”

              I think I warned you once already but in case I didn’t, let me do so here: If you want to try to reopen an abortion debate with me, this isn’t the place to do it. well, to be honest, there isn’t any place to do it because I am not going to participate. You and I are not going to agree and I don’t want to waste my time covering the same ground.

              If you’re just trying to make an analogy, this is a bad one and only has the potential to derail a pretty good comment thread. So… any more references like that and I will edit them out. Not trying to be a jerk and I hate to even threaten that but you’ve poked enough times and it’s getting old.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                “Warning” me? Do you have an internet-gun that you will internet-brandish at me?

                I get that you shouldn’t respond to personal insults and attacks here, but I’m not doing that. Perhaps you are uncomfortable with your own position and are mad, but I am just making fair arguments. Deal with the substance or not. This threat to “not respond” is a strange one, IMO. IMO, you are a nice guy with wrong opinions and faulty arguments about these two issues.

                I am arguing that your use of the term “draconian” is ridiculous in a way that even you should recognize, given that you seem to be for strong regulations (that you wouldn’t call “draconian”) requiring women to carry fetuses to term.

                If you were a hardcore libertarian, against nearly all state limiting of negative rights, I could see why you would call strong gun control “draconian” but you are clearly not such a libertarian as your position on the abortion debate clearly implies. (If you were a strong libertarian like that, I’d have asked whether you think a ban on owning fully automatic weapons, tanks, chemical weapons, anthrax, etc. was draconian.”Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Shazbot – the only warning you are getting is this: Stray off-topic again and I edit the comment. This has, for the most part, been a productive comment thread. I’m not going to let it get derailed because you have an axe to grind. We both know you like to take things about five comments too far (our discussion of eating meat, for example). So just drop that angle and we’ll be fine.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Holy cow! Are you fishing serious?

                I haven’t attacked you personally. I have made a very legitimate argument about your use of therm “draconian” and an inconsistency about your views on rights.

                Feel free to disagree or argue with me or not respond.

                But you just threatened to edit, to censor one of my comments, even though it was not an attack on you personally nor was it any way even close offensive. I have also called you “nice” and said I enjoy discussing things with you, and that we likely agree on facts not values.

                But now you say that I go to far and that I am so off topic (without justifying your claim that I am off topic) and you are threatening to cut or edit my posts?

                If you do not immediately retract this bullying threat to use your powers as a FP’er to silence legitimate questions about issues (lke the consistency of your views on rights, re gun rights and the right to choose) and arguments about your positions (you could’ve just not responded instead of threatening me with censorship), then I will leave and never post again or read here. And I will be right to feel thoroughly unwelcome here even though I have done nothing wrong.

                I will also accept similar assurances and stay if FP’ers other than Mike assure me that my comments will not be editted or deleted as long as they are not offensive, antagonistic, threatening, or ad hominem.

                I enjoy this place and feel like people like my comments too, but I can’t post here if I am being illegitmately bullied.

                If someone would stand up for me and agree that I have done nothing wrong in this thread that deserves censoring, it would be greatly appreciated.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5 says:


                You aren’t being bullied. To the contrary, I kind of feel like you have a personal thing with me. You have followed me from thread to thread and making reference to my positions on other thinly-related topics with a *wink, wink* each time. If memory serves in the last abortion thread you somehow connected it to me being a meat eater. In this thread you linked guns to abortion. I can only assume that the next thread will link back to guns somehow.

                If I say ‘draconian’ that is not an invitation to link it to my preferences on abortion policy. The League commenting policy is clear:

                “In general, a comment will be deemed inappropriate if it makes no attempt to address a point germane to the original post…”

                I consider your abortion-related comments to fall into this category. Now, I will apologize for one overstep which is threatening to edit your comments myself. Since I am not a site editor this was inappropriate. What I WILL say is that if you continue to make off-topic references I will ask Mark or someone else to step in. Keep things on-topic and we have no problem.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Let me also add that you arent pointing out an inconsistency betwrrn the broad level prolife movement and being pro gun. You are specifically challenging my posititions. Now I havr no problem being challenged but youve done it across several threads as though you have appointed yourself the ombudsman of my ideological positions. That indicates this is personal and likely to go off the rails. I am very active in the comment threads of my posts and I see it as important to keep them on track. I ask people to stay on topic regularly. You shouldnt take it personally and asking everyone to defend you seems a little bit overly-dramatic.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Also, I’m no Socrates (not by any stretch) but the idea that you can take an argument too far by continually asking questions and debating is something the sophists and propagandists would love and that anyone with a true desire for wisdom would reject.

                I urge you to reconsider your suggestion that I asked and argued too much. I never attacked personally and I never was rude or offensive. If you find me irritating, say so amd say why. Please. I am sure I can be irritating or aggressive, but I am willing to change my tone, not my desire to continue arguing over facts and moral principles.Report

              • ktward in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike, my comments here are infrequent so I’ll take no offense if you take my thoughts with a grain of salt. But I feel a strong need to speak to this sub-thread.

                Obviously there’s some … contentious? history between Shazbot and [presumably] yourself. But prior to this thread, I had zero knowledge of it. I missed entirely whatever drama it is that informs the dialogue between you.

                So mine is about as objective an observation as you’re likely to find. And I really do not see any persistent theme in her comments that should warrant censoring. Not that I think she actually did stray off-topic, but is that all it takes to get threatened with censoring? Seems to me there’d be remarkably fewer and shorter comments if that were the case.

                Shazbot was making an argument. A valid one, imo. Clearly she pushed a button or two on you. However, pushing someone’s buttons in the course of making a legit argument, knowingly or not, doesn’t seem to me a good reason to threaten censorship. Might be a good reason to step back and take some deep breaths, maybe say, “Hey, don’t go there”, maybe even drop the argument. But threatening censorship seems an excessive response. Altogether knee-jerky.

                That’s my one cent, here’s my other cent for the pair:

                This has been one of the most informative threads I’ve ever read. Powers of awesome. It’s both deepened and broadened my understanding of the current particulars and persepctives surrounding the gun control debate, on both sides. Kudos to all, seriously. But especially to yourself, Pat Cahalan, zic, Mark Thompson and Shazbot.Report

              • DRS in reply to ktward says:

                I would like to think that in a thread with currently over 400 comments there would be a certain amount of wandering from the main point and exploring other aspects of the topic that suggest themselves from the ongoing dialogue. I think Shazbot has a rather cheeky tone that obviously grates on Mike but that does not warrant having comments edited or deleted.

                A few months ago, on a thread devoted to “How can we get new people to post on LOOG?”, I suggested that the “old timers” might have to recognize that they can’t assume everyone understands the history of the place or knows the experienced posters intimately as the experienced posters know each other. That’s the risk you take with newbies: that the increased involvement is worth the decline of previously accepted (and mutually comfortable) intimacy. Like now.Report

              • ktward in reply to ktward says:


                Personally, I don’t think Shaz went off-topic. In order to make a point of rebuttal, she used an analogy that, clearly, Mike didn’t like. For whatever reasons. It escalated from there.

                There’ve been at least a few posts that have specifically addressed the League’s desire to attract more folks and encourage active engagement.

                Off the top of my head, I recall two posts that specifically pondered how the League might encourage women, especially, to both post and comment. The Gents were even weighing the option of changing the site’s name, which I considered a very sweet and kind thought but A) quite an overreaction, B) likely unnecessary, and C) surely a mistake in terms of branding. I remain unconvinced that a majority of smart-minded women will simply refuse to engage with a site just because there’s not some kind of reference to vaginas in the name. (Exaggerating for emphasis, natch.)

                Wait. It just occurred to me that I really have no idea whether Shaz is girl or boy. If I don’t know for sure, and it’s not made obvious in some fashion, my default is girl. So, apologies to Shaz if I got that wrong.

                I have a tough time identifying the newbies. It’s easier for me to categorize folks as regular commenters vs. infrequent commenters. Myself, I’ve largely been a lurker over the years. I mostly know who the oldest oldies and the newer oldies are. But some folks come and go in terms of commenting, which doesn’t mean they aren’t lurking. Case in point, me. Oh, and Katherine. Maybe Maribou and Johanna, too. (That I can only immediately list a few gals is a reflection of my own limitations– obviously I’m wired for certain cues. But I’m sure there are dudes who also fit this bill.)

                Meanwhile, I’ve gone off-topic. Though I’m fairly sure I haven’t pushed any of Mike’s buttons.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to ktward says:

                Hi DRS, Mike, and ktward!

                Okay, first off thank you to ktward and DRS so much for confirming I am not crazy and that the points that I am making are relevant or at least relevant enough even if they are wrong or invalid. At least they are not so irrelevant that they need to be threatened with censorship or editting.

                Second, thank you for apologizing and rescinding the threat, Mike.

                In response let me apologize for my tone. Somehow I come off as attacking. I don’t mean to. I think Mike holds cotradictory positions and his views on gun rights, abortion. animal moral worth, etc. are -in some ways- internally incoherent. But one way or another, I am bothering Mike in how I say this and that is on me. I will work on it and apologize for the tone I use that seems to grate.

                However, I cannot stop pointing out that people’s ideas are inconsistent with some of their other positions. (Sure everyone has some inconsistency in their views, but we need to talk about it and try to eliminate it. After all, we are after the truth and inconsistent views can’t be true. (Unless you are a crazy dialetheist.) And I will not stop “pesetring” by asking more questions. I owe that to Socrates and the philosophers. But if anyone wants to say “Shazbot, I don’t want to talk anymore, I will make one last post pointing out the importance of answering my question and then I will stop.”

                The only reason I bother engaging Mike on this is because I think he is smart and interesting. I have tried to compliment him multiple times, but he seems to think I am attacking him by critiquing his views and pointing out inconsistencies and continuing to press him on his views.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to ktward says:

                Oh, also I am male. But whenever I am confused for a woman, I take it as the highest compliment. Seriously.Report

              • ktward in reply to ktward says:

                But whenever I am confused for a woman …

                So … I’m not your first? You heartbreaker.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          This doesn’t mean that gun regulations of some sort or another can’t have a meaningful effect one way or another.

          Oh, absolutely.

          It does however mean that, at minimum, a regulation needs to be well tailored to the environment in which it is proposed to be effective.

          Yes. In particular, we need to keep in mind that to the extent that guns are used as weapons of opportunity, decreasing the availability of guns – or certain types of guns – will have an effect on outcomes only to the extent that it changes the utility calculus of people who want to commit violence. You cramp down too much on the availability of guns, people are going to start using something else. If your goal is to stop violence or death, overall, that can be a net loss, depending upon what they switch to using. Thus, you’re unfortunately committing yourself to walking a fence, all the time, always balancing your tradeoffs. This is not a problem space that’s going to have solutions that are “do this, and the problem goes away”, because the very nature of the problem you’re trying to solve changes dynamically as you intervene.

          That’s just the way these things are. That’s no reason not to try and change things, but it’s definitely reason to approach the problem with caution, and measure the crap out of everything that you can, and be not only prepared but be willing – willing! – to reverse your position if one of your interventions isn’t working.

          That means “gun control” isn’t something you can root for, always. You can’t always look at something and if the label on it says, “it’s gun control”, you cheer or vilify. It’s all contextual.

          I’m not a fan of ammo-stamping, because I can see it being far too easily circumvented. I can think of a couple trillion ways to get around it myself. The magazine capacity thing I think is really relevant, though, the more I think about it.

          I can’t imagine using an extended magazine for anything other than suppression fire or a sustained assault against a bunch of unarmed targets. Neither of those is something that anybody needs other than the military. That includes law enforcement.Report

          • Except for the ammo-stamping issue, obviously, I agree in full with this.

            On the ammo-stamping, I’ll just say that although it can be circumvented, there are ways to do it where removing the stamping would be quite difficult. At minimum, though, you’re talking about a fairly time-consuming effort to remove the stamps.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Right, but you can pretty easily reuse brass and cast your own bullets. People have their own reload kits already.

              When you can buy a couple of things on the web and set up an ammo shop in your garage, it’s kind of hard to enforce a stamping mandate on ammunition.

              Now, normal people will still mostly buy ammo, so you’ll have tracking on most of it, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But you’ll also see a black market not only for illegally made ammunition, but also for the resale of stolen ammunition, and you’ll see homebrewed ammo… and any given illicit use of guns is thus pretty likely going to be traceable to nowhere.

              Unless it’s a crime of passion, like a husband shooting his wife, but tracking the ammo is usually not a necessary part of the criminal investigation at that point.

              I dunno. It is certainly technically feasible to stamp mass-produced ammunition, but there’s a cost to it and I don’t know that you’d get much real benefit out of it, in practice. That said, I’m not opposed to it reflexively. But if we did it, I’d want to see something in the way of real results for the cost.

              Run it for ten years, if you see a significant uptick is solvable violent crime or a drop in violent crime overall, I’ll readily admit I was likely wrong. I just think that’s improbable.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I think a credible microstamping program would have to consider ending the ability to reload ammo. I know people love doing it but it just seems an obstacle to success.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Is that even feasible?

                I mean, you can cast your own bullets. I suppose you could outlaw the over-the-shelf molds, but if you’ve got the equipment to make your own reloads, you probably also have the equipment to make your own molds.

                You’d have to restrict or outlaw the sale of primer caps and powder?

                But then you’d see someone buy a pack of perfectly legal bullets, disassemble ’em, melt the bullets, package up the powder and the primer caps, and resell them, or just put newly cast bullets in the shells. I mean, if I was gonna shoot somebody, that’s what I think I’d do, but what the hell do I know about the actual process of reloads?

                I don’t see a really significantly difficult way to limit that, but maybe I don’t understand the process well enough.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I think you outlaw primer and powder. And I believe some people have talked about stamping the inside of the casing. Not sure. I am a bit out of my depth here. I probably need to do some homework on ‘circumventing microstamping’.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                If you stamp the casings, you’re just going to make revolvers really popular murder weapons?

                Well, I’m somewhat gratified that you don’t know the answer, either. Makes me feel less like I’m talking out of my ass 🙂Report

              • you’ll also see a black market not only for illegally made ammunition, but also for the resale of stolen ammunition, and you’ll see homebrewed ammo… and any given illicit use of guns is thus pretty likely going to be traceable to nowhere.

                Sure, but there’s a couple of things here that counteract these flaws:

                1. The black market ammo will be more expensive than the open market ammo. This is a good thing.

                2. While criminal organizations will have ample access to these types of facilities, the solo premeditated killer will have a much harder time getting that kind of access – it would be a similar problem to the guys in Office Space trying to figure out how to launder their money.

                3. With respect to stolen ammo, you still at least get a lead to where the ammo was stolen from. That is not insignificant.

                4. Illicit manufacturing would be a relatively high-risk, low reward industry, whose only purpose would be to make ammunition for use in violent crime. Getting caught would have the potential consequence of literally being an accessory to murder. While you wouldn’t need a lot of room to do the manufacturing, the fact is that you also couldn’t just flush the manufacturing equipment down the toilet or walk around with it.

                5. Catch an illicit manufacturer, and you quite possibly generate leads on a number of violent crimes.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                All those things are pretty true, but I don’t think that the solo premeditated killer is… well, I suspect that the breakdown on murder goes something like this:

                X% are career criminals, or criminal organizations
                Y% are individual psychos
                Z% are people who freak out one day and shoot their (usually) spouse or spouse’s lover.

                The Z% is pretty high, IIRC, particularly in the “middle-class victims of crime” segment of crime domains. In any event, the X% and Y% are the folks who would have both the highest motivation to bypass stamped ammo, and the most probable access to it… and the Z% are usually pretty quickly caught, and stamped ammo won’t have much of an effect on that, if any.

                Again, I don’t see it as fundamentally something that can’t be done. I just don’t think it’s liable to be very effective, in the long run. But hey, that could actually be tested, empirically.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              One of the problems with microstamping is that brass is trivial to reload and everyone shoots at the same ranges or trash dumps, and people pick up each other’s brass.Report

      • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        The analogy is meant to be explanatory not argumentative. The claim is that ownership of guns gives others a ason to buy guns, which creates more of a reason to buy guns and carry them in the street, which will lead to teachers and office workers being armed, and so and so on. A gun ownership society leads to gun proliferation in the way that we have nuclear proliferation.

        I grant that it is hard to tease out the effects of certain kinds of gun control as they have in various countries (McMahan doesn’t disagree.) McMahan’s claim is that if you prohibit (not just control as in many places) private gun ownership (you can still have shooting ranges and maybe some gun rentals in areas where there is hunting), then you will reduce homicides. (The title of the article is that “control” is not enough,)

        The evidence that less guns means less homicide is here atthe Harvard School of Public Health (peer reviewed, not think tank crappola):

        Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.”

        There is a strong prima facie case for the conclusion that reducing gun ownership in the U.S. via strict regulations and bans will reduce homicides.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

          There is a strong prima facie case for the conclusion that reducing gun ownership in the U.S. via strict regulations and bans will reduce homicides.

          Is looking at cities where gun ownership was reduced bia strict regulations (if not bans) to see what happened with the homicide rates there something that we’d want to do?Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

            Because a gangbanger in DC can’t walk over to Virginia and get whatever he wants. A better comparison would be US rates to the rest of the First World. But, of course, that doesn’t help those in favor of less gun restrictions.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              It also doesn’t help people that favor more gun control restrictions that DC is on track to have fewer than 100 homicides this year, fewer than last year (which is turn was lower than the year before, etc) – in fact the lowest in almost 50 years.

              So the status quo seems to be working.Report

            • A better comparison would be US rates to the rest of the First World. But, of course, that doesn’t help those in favor of less gun restrictions.

              Actually, it doesn’t really favor anyone, at least not if you compare those countries to each other, which you kind of have to, since the hypothesis is either “more guns correlates with more homicides” or “more guns correlates with fewer homicides.” Otherwise, you’re just taking an average and comparing it to an outlier, which is an absolutely awful way to do statistical comparison, reducing dozens of data points to two. Amongst First World countries, no one has ever disputed that the US is both an outlier in gun ownership (though it’s also kind of an outlier in that regard with respect to ALL countries) and homicide rate (it’s not an outlier in that regard when compared to the rest of the world, though). But without a lot more, that says next to nothing about either correlation or causation.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Mark says smart things, here.

                Particularly this bit:

                “Otherwise, you’re just taking an average and comparing it to an outlier, which is an absolutely awful way to do statistical comparison, reducing dozens of data points to two.”

                This is really, really important… especially if you’re attempting to come up with a generalizable result. You’re cheating horrendously, and if you presented a paper like that at a conference you’d get your ass chewed out by the Q&A unless you put all sorts of heavy disclaimers in your “Limitations” section.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                See the studies I cite below.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

            “Is looking at cities where gun ownership was reduced bia strict regulations (if not bans) to see what happened with the homicide rates there something that we’d want to do?”

            I think that it absolutely is something you’d want to do.

            I also think you’d want to add in accidental shootings, however, unless we’re assuming that there are “acceptable” gun deaths and “unacceptable” gun deaths.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5 says:

          The analogy is meant to be explanatory not argumentative. The claim is that ownership of guns gives others a ason to buy guns, which creates more of a reason to buy guns and carry them in the street, which will lead to teachers and office workers being armed, and so and so on. A gun ownership society leads to gun proliferation in the way that we have nuclear proliferation.

          Yes, but he’s got the same blind spot in his analogy that I talk about here. Namely, he’s assuming that the “arms race” will stop if guns are removed from the picture. I really don’t see that happening.

          Regarding the Harvard link: searching in ejournal portals gives me (full citation with abstract):

          Author(s): Hepburn, LM (Hepburn, LM); Hemenway, D (Hemenway, D)
          Source: AGGRESSION AND VIOLENT BEHAVIOR Volume: 9 Issue: 4 Pages: 417-440 DOI: 10.1016/S1359-1789(03)00044-2 Published: JUL 2004
          Times Cited: 19 (from Web of Science)
          Cited References: 53 [ view related records ] Citation MapCitation Map
          Abstract: This article reviews the most commonly cited, representative, empirical studies in the peer-reviewed literature that directly investigate the association of gun availability and homicide victimization. Individual-level studies (n=4) are reviewed that investigate the risks and benefits of owning a personal or,household firearm. The research suggests that households with firearms are at higher risk for homicide, and there is no net beneficial effect of firearm ownership. No longitudinal cohort study seems to have investigated the association between a gun in the home and homicide. Two groups of ecological studies are reviewed,,those comparing multiple countries and those focused solely on the United States. Results: from the cross-sectional international studies (n=7) typically show that in high-income countries with,more firearms, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide. Time. series (n=10) and cross-sectional studies (n=9) of U.S. cities, states, and-regions and for the United States as a whole, generally find a statistically significant gun prevalence-homicide association. None of the studies prove causation, but the available evidence is consistent with the hypothesis. that increased gun prevalence increases the homicide rate. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
          Accession Number: WOS:000222063400006
          Document Type: Review
          Language: English
          Author Keywords: firearm; firearms; homicide; guns
          Reprint Address: Hemenway, D (reprint author), Harvard Univ, Sch Publ Hlth, 677 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115 USA.
          1. Harvard Univ, Sch Publ Hlth, Boston, MA 02115 USA
          E-mail Address:
          Web of Science Categories: Criminology & Penology; Psychology, Multidisciplinary
          Research Areas: Criminology & Penology; Psychology
          IDS Number: 829PZ
          ISSN: 1359-1789

          Unfortunately, “No Full Text Services Available from the Caltech Library.” It might be available through CGU.

          Before I read the article, though, I can say just by looking at the methodology as outlined in the abstract, this is what I would call a piece of preliminary evidence. Indeed, I’m pretty sure it’s going to fail to convince me of the overall argument… primarily because it’s going to be comparing the U.S. (a “high income nation”) to other “high income nations”, and I don’t think that income is the right controlling variable.

          The #2, #3, and #4 citations all have a strong possibility that they’re looking at the wrong confounding factors.

          So no, I don’t think there is a strong prima facie case for the conclusion that reducing gun ownership in the U.S. via strict regulations and bans will reduce homicides.

          I will absolutely agree that there is a case. This is the first bit of investigation. We’ve shined a flashlight into a cave, and we’ve determined that it might go back a ways.

          That’s as far as we’ve gotten.Report

          • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            There’s all of this, too:

            From the same link:

            “2. Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.

            We analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability using data from 26 developed countries from the early 1990s. We found that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded.

            Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries. Journal of Trauma. 2000; 49:985-88.

            3. Across states, more guns = more homicide

            Using a validated proxy for firearm ownership, we analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and homicide across 50 states over a ten year period (1988-1997).

            After controlling for poverty and urbanization, for every age group, people in states with many guns have elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

            Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states, 1988-1997. American Journal of Public Health. 2002: 92:1988-1993.

            4. Across states, more guns = more homicide (2)

            Using survey data on rates of household gun ownership, we examined the association between gun availability and homicide across states, 2001-2003. We found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide. This relationship held for both genders and all age groups, after accounting for rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, urbanization, alcohol consumption, and resource deprivation (e.g., poverty). There was no association between gun prevalence and non-firearm homicide.

            Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64.”

            Less guns equals less dead people and less dead children.

            That is peer reviewed social science.

            Feel free to be a denialist, but don’t get angry when you decry the denialism of climate skeptics.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              Shazbot, I *am* a social scientist, okay? I’ve read plenty of social science studies. I well understand several different research methodologies, their limitations, when they are generalizable, and when they aren’t.

              Honest. Multiple classes in research methodology and everything. A’s in all of ’em.

              I’m not denying their findings. Indeed, until I read the actual paper, I’m not even sure I’ll deny your argument.

              However, your argument does not necessarily follow from the findings in those papers. There’s a difference between being skeptical of an argument, and denying actual findings.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Also, I don’t know many social scientists who would present their findings as starkly proving that which you’re asserting, here. Because there’s tricky exceptions that you need to be able to explain.

                Correlation doesn’t necessarily give you a mechanism. Indeed, if you can find an example that falsifies the presumptive conclusion, your conclusion is in trouble.

                You have to be able to explain data that doesn’t fit in your theory, using causal mechanisms that also explain data that does fit in your theory. Otherwise, what you’ve got is observations, but no conclusions.

                Observations are important, but they’re the first step in social science, not the last.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                The findings I cited are quotes from the papers cited by social scientists at The Harvard Injury Control Research Center at the Harvard Scool of Public Health.

                They write/quote: “We found that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded.”

                I paraphrased by saying “More guns means more homicides.” And the converse, no guns or almost no guns means less homicides. Perhaps that is too vague. I mean to say that we have a lot of empirical evidence that (if the past is a guide to the future) it is likely that the homicide rate in the U.S. would go down significantly if we could get the number of guns in the U.S. down significantly.


                Patrick, are you a practicing social scientist, i.e. with publications, a position a doctorate, etc.? Or are you an aspiring one with a masters of some sort, no publications, no past or future peer reviewed publications in the works? (I don’t mean that to sound snooty. I thought you were a tech guy by profession and training, not a practicing social scientist. Forgive my confusion if I am wrong.)Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                It’s a fair question, Shaz.

                One course left for my coursework (I’ve already got the Masters), then I have to do the hard part, writing the dissertation. My degree is in Information Systems and Technology, it’s transdisciplinary. My two minors are organization science (Drucker) and politics and policy. My research focus is information systems for crisis management and disaster response, so I read a lot of exception scenario literature, including workplace shootings, information systems for first responders and law enforcement, etc.

                I have a conference paper on the technical side, and a lot of draft work that’s going to turn (hopefully) into publications on the way to getting incorporated into a dissertation, but I don’t have an impressive CV by any means. I’ve reviewed quite a few papers, though. I know how it’s done.

                I mean to say that we have a lot of empirical evidence that (if the past is a guide to the future) it is likely that the homicide rate in the U.S. would go down significantly if we could get the number of guns in the U.S. down significantly.

                See, that’s the conclusion that we don’t actually get to (at least, not based on the one-line sub-abstracts that you link to). We have a solid basis that this is a possible theory, but we don’t have any predictive power.

                Because crime, generally, is very heavily affected by socioeconomic factors like poverty (especially generational), lack of access (particularly for minorities), and (in the U.S.) the drug war.

                Now, all of the EU nations, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan… they all have one thing in common with each other that they don’t have with the U.S. -> they’re predominantly monocultures, with a small population of minorities relative to their majority population, and in most cases not the sort of history with those minorities that we have here in the U.S.

                We’re a lot more like a couple of second world countries in our immigration pattern and minority populations than we are anything like any of the countries in the EU.

                That’s not to say that we can’t learn from their experiences, but we need to be careful that we’re correcting for that pretty substantial difference. A comparison between crime in the US and crime in the UK is probably not helpful. A comparison between crime among subpopulations in the US (like urban African Americans) and some representative minority population in the UK (like Muslim immigrants) would be better.

                Look, I’m not saying that there’s no evidence you’re right. I’m just saying that this isn’t the same sort of body of evidence that we have for global warming 🙂 There’s a lot more work to do before I’d have the gumption to make any sort of reasonable prediction. We just don’t have enough in the way of description, yet.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                The analogy with global warning denialism was too strong. I apologize
                There is more room for doubt about the efficacy of gun control than for whether CO2 emissions are altering temperature and weather.

                But note that McMahan’s point is that the presence of virtually no guns (a strong, near ban) would reduce homcides. 1. Past experience tells us that places with very few guns have very low homicide rates. 2. The only guide we have to what is likely to happen in the future is past experience. Therefore, if we can make the U.S. a place with low gun ownership like Japan, we will likely have low homicide rates.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I contest that we have major culture dissimilarities with Japan that make this rather less than likely; or to be most precise… it’s certainly possible and perhaps likely that we’d see a drop in general violence across the board, but I doubt that even in the best case it would resemble what you see in Japan. Just comparing the earthquake preparedness of the average Japanese household and the average Californian…

                It’s certainly possible that we would have lower homicide rates, likely, in fact. I’m not sure of the significant digits, but it’d likely be lower *somehow*. It’s also very possible that we’d have much lower homicide rates.

                Like I said, there’s plenty of preliminary evidence out there that suggests that a disarmed society, generally, is more likely to be less dangerous than an armed one. However, I’m not sure that our specific instance is part of that generally, and I certainly am not convinced enough of the potential likelihood to make any promises to that effect, and I’m very, very, very leery of strong statements to that effect, particularly when used as a basis to amend the Constitution (which, really, is what it would take to achieve gun control like they have in Japan!)

                As for the potential appearance of perhaps uncharitable skepticism, that’s okay, dude. There’s plenty of gun supporters who are just as rabidly anti-evidence as any other zealous supporter of anything, and it’s easy to get sucked into a crazy conversation with somebody who at first glance appears reasonable but isn’t going to change their mind about anything, ever. I’m frustrated enough on that score to jump to that conclusion myself on several topics.

                If I have one fault, it’s that I’m unlikely to take a very strong position on anything other than uncertainty, though. So if you’re reading me, generally, and you think I sound pretty convinced of something, keep that in mind. I’m probably much less convinced of the strength of one set of arguments than I am of the weakness of another.

                There’s lots of weak arguments in the gun control debate.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I don’t think we need to change the constitution to implement a strong gun ban. Just allow anyone to own a gun as long as they go through process X, Y. and Z at their own expense. (Legal liability forms, legal consultation, regular gun training, regular psych evaluations, regular visits from police and to police including unannounced searches of you home and where you store your gun, demonstration of proof of secure storage facility, installation and proof of maintenance of gps devices and trigger locks on all weapons, etc., etc. and a few thousand dollars of processing fees to pay for the work the police have to do keeping up with your guns.)

                Just make X, Y, and Z so expensive that few would be willing to do it. You still have a right to buy a gun, but only if you prove that you have followed every step necessary to keep others safe from your gun.Report

  17. Loviatar says:

    I’m done, don’t want the moderation police to kill my buzz. I’ll leave with this comment:

    NOTHING, NOTHING will be accomplished on stricter gun legislation. The sole difference between this incident and previous incidents is that it was a group of little white kids from suburbia was killed instead of adults or minorities. By Mike Dwyer’s post and comments we begin to understand that he is not ready or willing to stand up to the extremist among his peers when it comes to advocating for stricter gun legislation. Per his self proclaimed statements he is a “responsible” gun owner, so to me that begs the question, when the “responsible” gun owners won’t stand up for common sense gun regulation what hope is their that anything will be accomplished.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Loviatar says:

      Common sense says gun contol won’t work. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa already have lower homicide rates than the UK, and their gun laws basically just say you can’t carry a pistol in a courthouse. North Dakota, Idaho, and lots of other states already have lower homicide rates than most of Europe. In contrast, DC has extreme restrictions on firearm ownership and possession, as does Maryland, and their homide rate is worse than Haiti.Report

  18. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    BTW, for those of you who are not well versed in firearms & the bits & bobs that go with them, this gives a good explanation of a lot of them.Report

  19. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    Mike, how do you feel about the following:

    1) Establish a Department of Gun-Owners (this would probably be best at the state level, with each state having access to every other state’s database, like the DMV).

    2) Every gun is registered with the DGO. We’d have do this carefully, so that those who think the GUBMINT wants to seize their guns can be reassured. For now we’d have to use serial numbers, but I’d like to phase in RFID technology, where the chip is inside the handle.

    3) Registration (and continued ownership) is contingent on periodic review (with a written and physical test).

    4) Any transfer of a gun must have the paperwork registered with the DGO, just as any sale of a vehicle does.

    5) Possession of an unregistered gun would be a felony, punishable by a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison.


    I really don’t care about “but, gangs”. “Locks are made to keep honest people out” but that doesn’t mean we don’t have laws against burglary.

    What do you think?Report

  20. Mike Dwyer says:

    1) As a conservative it’s hard to support another new agency.

    2) Still not sold on full registration.

    3) Why a renewal clause? We don’t do that for driver’s licenses. And it also creates a situation where a new shooter can’t buy their own gun which makes it harder to learn.

    4) See #3

    5) See #3Report

    • Loviatar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      And Mike is considered a “responsible” gun owner.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      “We don’t do that for driver’s licenses”

      the one’s I’m familar with do have automatic renewal at some periodicity, but do require a vision test at some greater periodicity, and sometimes a written test.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      We actually do that with driver’s licenses in California (expire them).

      Generally speaking, from a security process standpoint, it’s good policy to have any authorization token expire. If it’s lost, stolen, or duplicated, it has a minimum effective lifespan before it needs to be discarded.

      I know most government agencies look at expiration as a freebie revenue stream, but that’s a case of coming to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons.Report

    • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      1) I’m sure you can guess how much ice that cuts with me. 🙂

      3) I was thinking of the tests you have to take (at least at the California DMV) every year — it’s a written test covering rules of the road. And I have to renew my driver’s license every few years (my wife was a bus driver and she had to renew AND pass a physical every few years).

      As for new shooter’s — let them get a learner’s permit. Force them to show that they can handle a gun before they can “drive it in public”. I learned to drive in part on a neighbor’s tractor. Those who want and can can learn in their or a neighbor’s back-yard. For anyone else, the entrepreneurs should be glad to see a new market for gun-training classes.

      I don’t see how 4 and 5 relate to your objection to 3.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

        Um, you realize that discriminating against the disabled would be stuck down by a court in about ten seconds. In Mike’s home state, legally blind people even get a special hunting season.Report

        • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to George Turner says:

          How am I discriminating against the disabled? Anyone who can show that that they know the rules of gun ownership and can pass the field test gets a license. The written test could be in Braille, Arabic, Chinese and Klingon. If you pass, you pass. If not, so sad, try again later.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

            If everyone can easily pass the test, what purpose does it serve? If you make it a long course, then it will probably follow the usual state standards for concealed carry, so every gun owner will go ahead and get their CCW permit just because they pretty much have to go through the same thing just to get a regular license.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

        Again, why is the penalty a felony? There is no such penalty for owning an unregistered car as long as it never goes onto a public highway, and even then, the penalty is a misdemeanor.

        Trust me, everyone, you’d get a lot more traction with gun owners if technical violations of law did not result in felonies & prison time. People forget, & make mistakes, or are just ignorant of the tens of thousands of laws out there. No one should risk prison for failing to fill out paperwork.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

          “No one should risk prison for failing to fill out paperwork.”

          How else are you going to make sure poor and/or minority folks stay in jail if the drug war ever goes away?Report

        • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

          My thinking is to impress the importance of registration. I can see your point, but if the penalty is too weak, why bother to register?

          I’m open to other options.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

            Most people in urban areas go to the range to shoot. If you’re carrying your weapons there, you need your paperwork, right? In case you get pulled over by the cops, you need to have your registration with you.

            So just make it necessary for the range owners to check your registration when you show up for your lane reservation. The desire to practice will cover quite a bit of territory, right there.

            At least in the urban areas.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


              In a lot of states (probably more than 50% I would guess) there is no requirement of having a registration withyou when transporting a gun. I have never done that. I’ve been pulled over a few times with guns in the car heading to and from a hunting spot. I’ve also been stopped by Fish & Wildlife on routine checks. Never been asked to prove ownership of my gun. All experiences were pleasant. The registration proposals turn those stops into something…unpleasant.Report

              • zic in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Please forgive me here, Mike, but. . . show me your papers is always unpleasant, no matter if it’s in the woods with your gun, on the streets of AZ if you look like you might be from somewhere else, or at the voting booth. It’s a requirement to open a bank account, get a driver’s license, renew a driver’s license, get on an airplane, or get a mail box at the post office.

                It’s an unpleasantry that we’ve got to experience in many other parts of normal life, and I’d suggest the ‘unpleasantness’ of proving your right to legally own/carry that gun doing doesn’t have much bearing on the argument.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to zic says:


                I disagree. Because eventually the people that pushed for full registration are going to get a tally of how many guns were actually registered and it will be millions short of projected gun totals for the U.S. Then what? We depend on traffic stops and gun ranges to catch the rest? I’m sure you have seen movies and read stories about what prohibition looked like, right? Or the current drug war. How well is interdiction actually working?Report

              • DRS in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Registration is not prohibition. Sorry, but I can’t take that analogy seriously.

                And zic’s point is a good one. There are all kinds of areas in our lives where being inconvenienced is a lamentable fact of life.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to DRS says:

                The fact that Sherriff Joe sucks is an argument to unsuck Sherriff Joe (and failing that, at least his area of responsiblity), not make more things suck.Report

              • zic in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                This is why I apologized in advance, Mike. Because voting is not potentially lethal; but there’s a strong push by Republicans to push for voter ID laws, even though the actual incidence of voter fraud is statistically close to zero and the right to vote is constitutional.

                Carrying a gun, on the other hand, is potentially lethal. We’ve ample evidence of that. In some states, gun deaths now exceed car-accident deaths. While gun ownership is protected by the 2nd, courts have also ruled that there are reasonable limits; whole classes of people (felons, for instance) who are forbidden, and classes of weapons.

                I get your argument that it’s difficult to ask for papers. It’s dangerous — the person you’re asking is being asked because they have a gun with them. But difficult and unpleasant frequently describe tasks we, as a nation, have to face.

                That it’s unpleasant for legal gun owners? The very notion makes me want to cuss in a most unladylike fashion. There are many double-standards evident in the debate over guns compared to our reaction to other problems. But ‘unpleasant to be asked for your papers’ boggles the mind. If you want to talk about the real issues, such as it being used to further crack down on inner-city minorities, be my guest.

                But don’t insult us by suggesting that it’s a bad idea because it would ruin your day of hunting, but it’s okay at the bank, the airport, on a street corner in AZ or a town in AR, or most significantly, the voting booth.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to zic says:


                It seems the Left opposed the voter ID law pretty strongly. How would this be different as a violation of civil rights?

                But regardless, I shouldn’t have made the point out it being a nuisance because that muddies the waters of your point. What I said in my last comment though is the key point I believe: How does a registration requirement stop gun crime? Prohibitions didn’t work with alcohol and they don’t work with drugs. And those things have to get moved around by their very nature. Guns can sit in people’s basements for decades. I think you’re not thinking through the full application of the law.

                Furthermore, do you require every traffic stop to also involve a gun search? I don’t think you can push registration checks to gun ranges unless you want to put a law enforcement official at every location. Even if you DO use traffic stops, how many unregistered guns do you think you will catch in a year? And I can guarantee you that fish & wildlife officers will catch very, very few illegal guns because hunters generally aren’t that dumb.Report

              • zic in reply to zic says:


                Nobody, nobody, nobody expects to stop gun crime. It will be.

                We only expect to diminish it. We only expect to take steps to reinforce the responsibility of gun ownership, something that has clearly slipped down the slope as marketing the joys of gun ownership for self-protection have grown.

                I gave you a link to an essay on NPR somewhere on this thread, did you listen? Mandatory registration would likely prevent much of the problems that young woman described — women purchasing weapons for family members who cannot purchase their own; likely in the belief they need those weapons to defend themselves on the streets of their neighborhoods.

                I didn’t suggest every traffic stop should include a gun search; we shouldn’t be doing that for drugs, and we shouldn’t be doing it for guns, either. But if a gun turns up on your person, I have pretty much no problem with you being charged with a crime if it’s not registered and registration is required.

                I think there’s another dynamic to this, however. There are more and more guns being sold, but fewer people owning. That means there’s some gun hoarding going on. My best guess is that mandatory registration would reveal the hoarders; and that they fear if for the very same reasons they’re hoarding to begin with. I’ll say it again: this is the unspoken problem. Gun addiction.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to zic says:


                It is a federal crime today to buy a gun for someone else (straw purchase) who couldn’t legally buy it themselves. So when the woman buys those guns for family members, she’s already in violation of the law. And for the people she gives them to? Violations themselves for felons with guns and/or carrying concealed. So you already have the necessary laws on the books.

                My point is that a universal registration is window dressing that doesn’t really fix the problem. If I thought it would, I would support it. I support waiting periods and background checks for guns bought from dealers. I’m already halfway there.

                ‘Gun hoarding’ isn’t a crime. People collect guns. I’ve got quite a few myself which I rotate through depending onthe game animal and my whim on a particular morning. I have plenty of relatives with sizeable gun collections (mine is pitiful in comparison). They aren’t scared of something. They just really like guns.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to zic says:

                @Zic: I’ve seen this point about fewer people owning more guns in a number of places; indeed, it’s something I came very close to referencing as fact in a draft post I’m working on. But when I went to look for the original source data, I wound up coming across this, which :

                The source for the statement that fewer people own more guns seems to be this:

                This is a really odd discrepancy. Gallup’s survey found the percentage of gun owners and gun owning households at a 20 year high, while the Violence Policy Center, relying on the General Social Survey, had it at a historic low, about 20 points less than in the early ’70s. Gallup found 34% of Americans personally owned guns, and 47% had guns in their household; the VPC found only 20% personally owned guns and 32% had guns in their household.

                Something’s really off with this.Report

              • zic in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                One other point Mike:

                You have to register to vote. I do not know anybody on the left who’s suggested that it’s a civil rights violation.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to zic says:

                What about the proof of imigration status on traffic stops?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Owning a gun isn’t a “right” like voting. You need to show your papers.

                And if this means that old people in podunk parts of the state can’t own a gun then that means that old people in podunk parts of the state can’t own a gun.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

                I trust the NRA to ensure that whatever ID is required to register for a gun is freely available, and to help people who need one get one. Nor would there be six-hour lines at the gun-registration place.Report

        • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

          I’ve been thinking about this and have come up with the following:

          NOTE: all the below is open to modification and subject to a fair amount of judicial control

          First offense would be a fairly minor penalty, maybe $100 total for up to 4 guns and possible increments from there

          Second offense would be $1000 PER GUN

          After the third offense, it seems like flagrant disregard for the law, so that could be when the felony kicks in.

          Does that make sense?Report

          • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

            See, now you are moving in the right direction.

            This falls under a different discussion, but we are far too eager in this country to push felonies for minor offenses because we want people to know we are SERIOUS about his law.

            For technical/administrative violations, it really does need to be stepped. A slap on the wrist the first time is a great way to bring attention to the rule & hopefully prevent a second offense.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:


        In KY we have to renew our license every few years but there is no test. Once you get your license you are set for life. Same with Hunter’s Safety classes.

        The problem is not really gun safety though. Accidental shootings by gun owners themselves are relatively rare. The focus I think still needs to be on gun crime and what that looks like. The numbers tell me we need to look at hand guns that end up illegally in the hands of criminals. Fix that and you’ve just knocked out about 90% of your gun crime.Report

  21. Loviatar says:

    A conservative case for an assault weapons ban

    Judge Larry Alan Burns – is a self-described conservative, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush
    There is just no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun enthusiasts can still have their venison chili, shoot for sport and competition, and make a home invader flee for his life without pretending they are a part of the SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden.

    It speaks horribly of the public discourse in this country that talking about gun reform in the wake of a mass shooting is regarded as inappropriate or as politicizing the tragedy. But such a conversation is political only to those who are ideologically predisposed to see regulation of any kind as the creep of tyranny. And it is inappropriate only to those delusional enough to believe it would disrespect the victims of gun violence to do anything other than sit around and mourn their passing. Mourning is important, but so is decisive action.

    Congress must reinstate and toughen the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
    h/t TPMReport

    • Mr. Blue in reply to Loviatar says:

      “We want to use the events in Newtown to enact legislation that will eliminate or greatly reduce access to things that a lot of people want but we don’t want them to have. But they are politicizing it by disagreeing with us.”Report

      • Mr. Blue in reply to Mr. Blue says:

        Sorry, I forgot that “quotes around things that weren’t actually said” is a no-no around here. The quotes above are not meant to quote the specific words that Lov said, but instead are a reflection of how those words come across to me.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Mr. Blue says:

          Shorter Blue “I feel privileged to misquote people with impunity”. (We don’t do “shorter” here either, for pretty much the same reasons.)Report

          • Mr. Blue in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Yeah. I should have found a more productive way to point out the faultiness of the argument I was reading.Report

          • Since when was “shorter” set out of bounds? It’s not so different from reductio ad absurdum. To be sure, it’s easy to drop the ball on the maneuver, because it’s easy to mis-state someone’s argument when you attempt to rephrase it derisively. But when it’s done correctly, it’s a powerful rhetorical maneuver.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

              I vaguely recall a comment from one of the FPers disparaging “shorter” as unworthy pf this pace, but it was a while ago, and it’s impossible to Google for,.

              Shorter Mike “I made the whole thing up”.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Loviatar says:


      I asked you somewhere above to look at a semi-auto BAR rifle made by Browning that would NOT be classified as an assault weapon. Since you didn’t respond I will try again here:

      Do you see this gun as problematic? Because it’s essentially the same gun as an AR-15 with two exceptions: Smaller magazine AND it shoots a larger caliber bullet (.270).

      I’m asking because you are clearly focused on ‘assault weapons’ even though a study I cited in this comment section that was delivered to Congress in November shows less than 2% of gun crimes are committed with assault weapons. That tells me either you aren’t in command of the facts or you believe terms like ‘assault weapons’ have more PR value.Report

  22. I should never start a deep-thinking post after midnight (and the world hasn’t ended…yet), but I think this tit-for-tat is kinda making me think about how we view guns and gun owners. Having grown up in cities, I came to see guns as bad things. But other folks who lived in the country have a very different view about guns. For those who see guns as bad, anyone that likes guns must surely be crazy. Hence our little argument.

    But I’ve learned to step outside of myself and see that not everyone that goes hunting is a nut case. And I’ve learned that in some cases, guns have saved lives.

    Does there need to be some more regulation of guns? Yeah. But I think we have to take into account the millions of folks who are responsible owners of firearms. It makes no sense to lump them in with mass murderers or gangbangers.Report

  23. Mike Dwyer says:


    Just a quick note. The NRA has a press conference scheduled for 11am. You can watch it here:

    They are supposed to lay some new policy proposals. It will be interesting to see what they are.Report

    • Derp de Durr! in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      NRA wants a national database of anyone with mental illness, but doesn’t want to be responsible and register guns.

      Yeah, you people are fucking assholes.Report

      • Loviatar in reply to Derp de Durr! says:

        You know what might actually work, if we get gun owners certified as mentally ill, we would have our national database of gun owners. /snark

        Nihilist all of them and yes that includes their supporters whether they call themselves responsible or not.Report

        • What is your problem? Clearly you don’t want to listen and you have your mind made up. So, why are you here other than to heckle people?

          It’s one thing to debate an issue, but you seem to enjoy demonizing your opponents. I might not agree with everything Mike agrees with, but I am willing to listen and treat him as a human being, which is the least I can say about you.Report

          • Chris in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

            They come from pretty much anywhere else on the internet, and think this is the way you talk on the internet about politics and issues. They can’t help it, because they don’t know any better.Report

            • Loviatar in reply to Chris says:


            • Burt Likko in reply to Chris says:

              As the website grows and attracts an audience, more and more of this will have to be endured and dealt with. I think that the process must be an organic one of maintaining a comments culture that values people making substantive points, so as to show up the fact that pure bile lacks intellectual weight.

              But, unfortunately, some people are just plain never going to get it.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

              “They come from pretty much anywhere else on the internet”

              Actually, when a non-regular just pops up and does this, I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to read the comments they leave and correctly guess which site has just linked to us. BJ, Five Feet of Fury, Instapundit, Red State, the Manspalining person’s blog, etc. Their cranks all have their own distinctive voice.

              Looking at Lovitar’s comments, I will bet you $5 – without having checked – that BJ has linked to one of our posts in the past 24 hours.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      There was no chance of them saying “we should do nothing”, so I’m not surprised they came up with pretty assinine suggestions.Report

  24. Mike Dwyer says:

    So the NRA wants a cop in every school. I did a quick check and since 2000 there have been about 61 deaths related to school shootings in the U.S. This compares to 176,899 homicides outside of schools during the same period.


    • Plinko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I think that’s sufficient right there.Report

      • Plinko in reply to Plinko says:

        And by ‘sufficient’ I’m referring to your analysis of gun deaths.
        We shouldn’t need any more analysis than that to render judgment on the proposal.Report

    • Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I suppose it’s possible to think of a bigger misallocation of scarce police resources, but it would be tough.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I’m not as big a fan of “a cop in every school.” Like a lot of things proposed on this thread, it strikes me as a more superficial solution. TSA for schools.

      Oddly, though, I am coming around on the “schoolhouse marshal” idea, wherein specifically designated school personnel undergo some training and get a weapon.Report

      • Loviatar in reply to Will Truman says:

        Columbine Had an Armed Guard

        “Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Gardner soon would complete his second year as the uniformed community resource officer assigned to Columbine High School. Gardner, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, normally ate his lunch with the students in the cafeteria during first lunch period. His car would have been parked in his “normal spot” in front of the cafeteria doors – between the junior and senior parking lots.”Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Loviatar says:

          Yep. there’s a lot that cops and armed personnel wouldn’t stop. But if we’re going to try to tackle things that way, I prefer schoolhouse marshalls over uniformed guards and/or cops.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

            I heard a piece on NPR in which they interviewed school officials from a district in Texas that had instituted “school house marshals” (not their term, but essentially the same thing). They did so primarily because of their proximity, or lack thereof, to the nearest police station, which was either 20 minutes or 20 miles away, both of which are too far to respond to a situation like we saw in Newtown. Interestingly enough, I actually saw a lot of merit in the idea.

            I think “school house marshals” might be preferable to cops or other forms of security for a few reasons:
            1.) Little additional cost. Assuming the marshal is a teacher or school employee already, the only costs would be training and arming.
            2.) Investment. Many (myself included) are critical of police or other security guards because these folks will eventually become jaded and complacent, because such events are exceedingly rare. But complacency is precisely the sort of issue that will most undermine these efforts. But a school employee (particularly a teacher) is already heavily invested in the security of the school and the safety of the children. There is no risk of the marshal falling asleep in his chair watching moms and children parade through the door.
            3.) Potentially lower risk of accidental shootings. A marshal will presumably have a working relationship with the students and adults in the building that regular security might lack. He’ll have had students in his class and met with parents during conferences. Presumably this would make him see these folks in a different way and, should one of them be potentially posing a risk, therefore less likely to shoot first and ask questions later. In sizing up a potential threat, he doesn’t just see a potential threat; he sees Johnny from 3rd period Algebra.

            The key to this working would be a very careful selection process. It’s possible that not all schools would have somebody who meant the criteria, in which case those schools should not have a marshal. It wouldn’t be about selecting the BEST person among those who are there, but about setting very high criteria and only selecting folks who meet or exceed them. In my case, there is a member of the maintenance staff who I would probably feel confident to have as a marshal. He is an experienced hunter and gun owner who, in the few conversations I’ve had with him about guns, has always started with points about safety and responsibility. He is a former member of the volunteer fire department and is EMS trained, meaning he has experience working in life-or-death situations and the requisite skills that lead to success there. I’ve seen him leap into action in emergency situations before and his level-headedness and sense of the situation is what you’d want in someone taking on such a role. There would still be hurdles to clear, such as evaluating his proficiency with a pistol versus that with the rifle he is more accustomed to. But he is the type of person I’d potentially look at for such a role, given that we are at least 7 minutes away from the nearest stationed police officer.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Will Truman says:

        That is how Utah does it. School employees volunteer & get trained to carry in the school.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Out of those 176,899 homicides, how many were people we care about, though? Not all 176,899, I tell you that much.

      When it comes to school shootings, however, we care about every single one of the victims.Report

      • Loviatar in reply to Jaybird says:

        No, we care more about these children because they look like our political/media/financial elite. Upper middle class and white.

        — The number of minors killed by guns in Chicago between Dec. 14, 2011, and Dec. 14, 2012, according to the Chicago Police Department.Report

        • Mr. Blue in reply to Loviatar says:

          I was wondering how long it was going to take to go there. I thought about suggesting that those trying to exploit this tragedy were using racial affections to do so, but decided that was below the belt. It’s kind of funny watching you throw those who might be moved by the Newtown tragedy under the bus, suggesting that any urgency they feel might be racially (or class) motivated.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Mr. Blue says:

            Are you saying it is impossible that that is part of it? I don’t think it is necessarily conscious, but folks definitely respond differently when the victims look like them than when they don’t.Report

            • Don Zeko in reply to Kazzy says:

              If Loviator had instead said that there are certain types of horrible crimes about which Something Must Be Done, and there are other types of crimes that elicit a collective shrug, and that race and class are absolutely part of what separates the former from the latter, would you disagree with that at all? This isn’t to say that there’s something wrong with people’s strong reaction to Newtown, but it does suggest that we are under-reacting to more mundane violent crime, especially when the victims are poor and non-white.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I was responding to Mr. Blue, who *seemed* to be saying that questioning the different response to Newtown versus the murders of children of color in urban areas amounted to throwing folks “under the bus”.

                I think the response to Newton was very real, legitimate, and genuine. I think for a host of reasons (which I’ve outlined elsewhere), Newtown is getting a unique brand of attention, some (but not all) of which have to do with race and class.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Kazzy says:

                Sorry, I meant to be responding to Mr. Blue as well.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Don Zeko says:

                No worries.Report

            • Mr. Blue in reply to Kazzy says:

              Kazzy & Don,

              There are absolutely racial elements involved in the response. I’d actually go a step further and say that some of the reason that gun control advocates were getting such mileage in the 90’s was fear of black men with scary guns. Subrosa, acourse.

              However, if you’re trying to whip up some fervor in response to an event, the last thing you want to do is start shining a light the motives of those you’re trying to stir up into a frenzy.

              I was tempted to say something early on because I’m against gun control. But I realized it was a convenient but not useful argument because the responses are what they are. Then Loviator went there for me.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                Thanks for clarifying, Mr. Blue.

                In this statement…
                “However, if you’re trying to whip up some fervor in response to an event, the last thing you want to do is start shining a light the motives of those you’re trying to stir up into a frenzy.”

                Who is it that you think is trying to whip up a fervor? Who do you think they are trying to whip into a fervor?

                My point is to neither say, “We should be just as outraged as the deaths of young black boys in Chicago as we are about Newton,” or “We didn’t get upset about black boys dying in Chicago so we can’t get upset about Newton.” First off, I recognize that there are legitimate differences between the circumstances of Newtown and those other deaths that justify some difference in response. Secondly, my hope would be that any attempts at “doing something”, and I’m not even fully conceding that “something must be done” (see my earlier posts on this), would be the type of something that addressed the Newtowns of the world AND the Chicagos of the world, even if that meant two different somethings happening to address two different scenarios and contexts.

                I don’t doubt that folks of all stripes are trying to whip up a fervor. I’m just not one of them and hope that my stated opinions on the various topics have demonstrated that.Report

          • Loviatar in reply to Mr. Blue says:

            Oh my thoughts went there immediately, however out of respect for the families and the situation this is the first time I’ve mentioned it. This being America race and class are always a factor in my mind.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Loviatar says:

              I wrote extensively on the tragedy in the hours and days afterwards, largely from the perspective of a teacher of young children. The race and class was not lost on me, though I too opted not to make those points then and there. But I do think there is room for conversation. Unfortunately I fear that conversation going the route that most of our conversations on race and class tend to…Report

    • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I think, to he charitable, they believe their should be armed cops everywhere, not just schools: also malls, theaters, busy markets, universities, anywhere where more than a few people gather. And also nearly everyone else should be armed, regardless of the presence of cops.

      Except anyone with a history of mental illness, on a national database, which would create a nasty incentive not to seek mental treatment (which is already a problem) for fear of the consequences of diagnosis.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      This strikes me as the pro-gun version of a bad, knee jerk, ineffective gun-ban proposal: just a political line thrown out to rally the troops

      They know it will never happen, but it allows them to say “I Care!” in a way that underscores their importance in the big scheme of things.

      What I am curious to see is how the anti-gov and anti-spending part of their ranks react to the proposal.

      As to the actual merits of the idea, I do not believe that it would deter (or prevent) tragedies like what happened last week. If you’re stationed at the door of a school, how many people come and go every day? If you’ve been there for 876 days in a row with no crazy people ever coming in and shooting people, how hard is it going to be for a Navy Seal Wanna-Be to take you out before you know what’s happening?

      There very well might be unintended positive consequences, however. Everything in my risk management training tells me that having eyes of outside authority on school grounds would lead to at least a small decrease of vandalism, theft, drugs, etc. Whether or not its worth the trouble and expense is another matter. (I have to admit, I would be profoundly irritated if Portland Public Schools, which can’t seem to find the funds to keep my son in classes past 1:30 in the afternoon, was able to hire a mini-police force.)Report

      • Shazbot5 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Also, how many accidental shootings are now more likely to happen if the marshall or the school cop makes a mistake and starts shooting when he or she shouldn’t.

        I’d say lots, given that the cops do accidental shootings, even with training and experience.Report

      • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        The armed guard would end up being used to discipline kids and enforce rules. Not a good idea.

        Then when John Q Maniac shoots ups a library, mall, bus station, park, playground, etc the NRA will suggest armed guards every place. Not a good idea.

        There are limited things we could do to lead to less of this kind of thing. I’m not sure i’ve seen almost any of those things being actually suggested.Report

      • Citizen in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        This one is a pretty ugly knee jerk. The worst outcome is that the children become used to seeing paramilitary on an everyday basis. Maybe a tasers for teachers program?Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        “What I am curious to see is how the anti-gov and anti-spending part of their ranks react to the proposal.”

        With those folks spending on cops is always okay.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          There’s probably something socioloigacalal about that.

          I wonder why it is. The cynical part of me thinks it’s just arbitrary response to different tribal calls: For a while, my tribe was all Law and Order, so I defend policemen under any circumstance. Now they’re all, “Gov is Bad!”, so I hate the gov, but I like cops cause that’s what we were for for so long.

          There’s probably a more kind, more rational and more accurate argument, though.

          Will’s good at knowing this stuff. Why is this, Will?Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Tod, there is, but it’s kind of convoluted. Essentially, the “less government” argument involves doing a minimal number of things but often doing them aggressively. Security for our children is one of the things that conservatives would argue we have a government for. So aggressively doing so – by putting cops in schools – doesn’t really fall under “anti-gov” (the military gets a similar exemption). Gun control doesn’t apply as an acceptable measure of doing so, however, because of the Second Amendment and because it is perceived as a regulatory rather than crime measure.

            Mostly, though, I think it has to do with coalitions and/or tribes.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        We had three officers stationed at my high school. I don’t know how effective it would have been, but it wasn’t end-of-world bad, either. It was mostly just a waste of money and resources.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

          What did they do all day? Situations requiring a police presence aren’t all that common.

          If you reversed the other idea, who you had uniformed police who could also tutor math or coach basketball, that might make sense.Report

          • A (uniformed) Bunny Colvin in every school! I like it.

            What did they do? Mostly just kept an eye on things. They weren’t involved in school issues other than keeping people from leaving. If there was a fight, they’d show up. Kids who were in trouble or on some probation would have to report to them periodically. If there were accusations of guns and drugs, I’d guess they’d be involved in that, too.

            Worth noting that my high school had 4,000 students in it.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Presumably Portland Public Schools would get this money to police up the schools your son attends for half days from some sort of state or Federal source. Which is probably who would buy the full body scanners for the students to go through and x-ray machines for their backpacks. Be sure to get your kids to school two hours early to give them adequate time to clear security. Which means that faculty and administrative staff will need to be there two hours early to oversee the TSA-style security admissions line. Which means there will not be enough budget to pay for school through 1:30 in the afternoon, so your kids will now be sent home half an hour before noon, having received two hours of security theater and two and a half hours of instructional time. The silver lining is, since the kids will now be sent home before lunch, the school lunch program can be cancelled, giving the school valuable breathing space in its budget to pay for in-service faculty training sessions on firearms safety and storage.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        With just 61 school deaths in such shootings since 2000, and given the number of police it would take to station them for eight hours a day, I’m not sure how the potential lives saved per resources expended would work out compared to other ways to use law enforcement, absent other crime and drug issues at problem schools that already have a police presence.

        There are less drastic measures we could encourage, like more teachers with tazers and the occassional gun-toting coach, and we could futher harden the environment because we largely know beforehand where the shooter will enter and what he’ll most likely do (moving down the halls, trying to get into classrooms, the library, the cafeteria, etc).

        So you could install roll-down metal doors like you see above the entrance to stores in malls or city store-fronts at key points in the hallways, recessed up in the drop ceilings, so during a lockdown the halls become inaccessible, or even trap the shooter. The shooters in all these cases grab doorknobs and rattle them, so if the doorknobs could shock the shooter (like a taser), the shooters will self-disable until they adopt thick rubber gloves, which generally aren’t good for shooting. Triggering the sprinkler systems might also help slow them down a bit. Almost anything we can add to slow, hinder, isolate, and immobilize a shooter would be greatly beneficial, If the schools had webcams throughout that could feed video to the administrators, teachers, and police, the responders wouldn’t be as blind and confused about what’s going on, better identify safe evacuation routes, immediately determine the number of shooters, track their locations, etc.

        Perhaps we should encourage the potential targets to do a little plotting and scheming of their own, based on profiles of the most likely actions an attacker will take, and perhaps not say much about it so an attacker won’t know to plan ways around the enhanced defensive measures.Report

    • Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I think a wiser, more realistic soultion would be the Corbomite Maneuver for school shooters.

      Tell the shooters that some schools are equipped toblow up when shot at, killing the shooter in the process.

      Or strict gun control that greatly reduces the number of guns in the U.S.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I think it sends a pretty clear message to the kids about what their adult life is going to be like.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Won’t somebody think of the children?Report

    • Derp de Durr! in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      The same NRA mental patients calling for cops in every school are the ones dismissing the TSA and armed airport security as being incompetent and meaningless security theater.Report

      • Mr. Blue in reply to Derp de Durr! says:

        I think “a cop in every school” is a dumb idea, but there is a difference: cops are actual law enforcement officers and TSA guards aren’t. That they put badges on the latter is an approximate definition of theater.Report

    • Reading the transcript of that speech, I think – or at least hope – that we just witnessed the beginning of the end of the NRA’s near-monopoly on the representation of gun owners in Washington. Not because LaPierre’s proposals are so bad (they’re terrible, but unfortunately I expect they’re also likely to be broadly popular amongst gun owners and non-gun owners alike), but because the whole speech effectively leaves the impression that LaPierre thinks he and the NRA are the real victims of Newtown, and the media the real villains. Regardless of the potential effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the proposal, the self-pitying rant leaves the distinct impression that the only thing the NRA is really interested in is its own feelings, not serving as an effective representative of its members interests.

      Rather than using the rare platform to try to educate the public about guns and why particular proposals would be effective or ineffective, he just rants about how the media doesn’t understand guns and doesn’t understand/is out to get the NRA.

      I fully expect this will play well in the conservative media, and be good for conservative news media ratings and book sales. I do not expect it will serve the interests of gun owners, which are the group the NRA is supposed to represent. At some point, gun owners are going to get pretty pissed about how poorly the NRA represents their interests.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Well said Mark.Report

      • greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I made this point on another thread and didn’t really see an answer. Before this recent event the pro-gun side had pretty much won the debate. The Supremes had given them major victories, state legislators had been putting in place all sorts of laws the NRA wanted and belief in, and desire for, new gun control had dropped to all time lows. However even with all that many gun owners had an attitude of being under siege and on the verge of, depending on their level of paranoia, massive gun confiscation up to dictatorship. The fear and rhetoric just didn’t match the reality over the last 10-15 years. No amount of victories led to feeling liek they had won. The paranoia and fear was largely self-sustaining and permanent.Report

        • Trumwill mobile in reply to greginak says:

          arguably, one of the reasons that the pro gun side has been winning is that they’ve gone on the offensive and have become more vigilant. there is no final victory and that which has won can be lost. the argument that they had no reason to worry was stronger before the newspaper headlines talked about changing perceptionson guns and a lot of the rhetoric of the past week our two.Report

          • greginak in reply to Trumwill mobile says:

            Well think the NRA has been vigilant and on the offense for a long time. There is rarely any final victory for any viewpoint. But no matter what victories they have had the response is still paranoia and fear. The response to anything is paranoia and fear. I don’t have a problem with them pushing for what they want even if i have a low opinion of the NRA. Its the constant pool of abject terror, belief in impending complete gun confiscation and gov takeover that explains why so manner find the NRA despicable. If they could let go of their fear the NRA has the perfect position to win over people who don’t fit their gun grabber stereotype but think better regs are needed.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

              Back in the 90’s, the NRA had a much more defensive posture. That was one of the reasons that more extreme organizations like GOA started gaining traction. Since then, the NRA has been much more vigorous and the result has been some of the changes that you’re talking about. That wasn’t all that changed between the nineties and the aughts, but among advocates it is at least credited with some of the shift.

              While the rights of gun owners is not as precarious as the NRA believes, I also don’t think they’re as solid as you do. The Supreme Court rulings help a lot, and make me personally more open to regulations I’d otherwise be more skeptical of, but there is still some uncertainty with the possibility of a more liberal court possibly on the way with different attitudes towards gun control than the current one.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Trumwill mobile says:

            Most Americans support stronger gun regulations. However, there are very few pro-gun control people for whom it is a single issue. However, there are a lot of anti-gun control people for whom it is a single issue when coming to vote for a candidate or not.

            I will vote for a candidate who is less strict on guns than I want if I think he or she is good on other issues that are important to me. Many gun rights people would not do otherwise. They won’t vote for the pro-gun control candidate even if they agree with the candidate on everything else.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I think this is another Sailing Away to Irrelevance moment for the GOP and would love to see Tod take on the NRA as part of the boondoogle. noted that Rush Limbaugh called Wayne LaPierre, the “adult” in the room on gun control.

        Though I disagree with one of your assertions but it could reflect my Pauline Kael problem. I do not think his arguments will be popular among non-gun owners. All of my friends are talking about how absurd and brutal and horrible the statements are. Why do you think non-gun owners will love them?Report

  25. zic says:

    Mark Thomspson, bumping this down.

    Silver tackled it a few days ago here.Report

    • zic in reply to zic says:

      And on the increases in sales, here’s Forbes from last summer:
      But the thing is the surge is gun sales didn’t begin in 2008. Over the last 10 years (from 2002 to 2011) there has been a 54.1 percent rise in the number of NICS checks and the increase hasn’t all taken place since 2008. In 2005 there were 8,952,945 NICS checks. In 2006 the number topped 10 million. In 2007 NICS checks pushed passed 11 million. In 2008 NICS checks passed 12 million, and then hit the 14 million mark in 2009. They increased slightly (4 percent) through 2011.


      These indicates a drop in households that own guns; from less then 30%, perhaps close to 20%, but an increase in sales as charted by background check requests.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to zic says:

        Zic – reading the comment to which you’re responding again, I realize that I was not clear with my point. I completely understand where the data comes from to support the claim that fewer people are owning more guns, and indeed that the data does in fact support that claim. I also recognize that no matter what data you look at, the average number of guns per gun owner has been steadily increasing and that as a result, we now have roughly 88 guns per 100 Americans.

        The problem is that the data for the claim comes entirely from the GSS Survey, which found through interviews that only 34% of households and 20% of individuals owned guns, an all-time low. I say this is a problem not because the data doesn’t support the claim (it does), but because there’s a huge discrepancy in the data if you use another well-respected survey from Gallup, which finds that 47% of households and 34% of individuals own guns, the highest in 20 years.

        That’s a huge discrepancy between two well-respected surveys asking the same question, with a fairly large discrepancy appearing between the two year after year; as importantly, the polls have trendlines moving in opposite directions, with GSS showing a slow but steady decline, and Gallup a slow but steady increase. As a result, depending on the survey that you rely upon for the questions “what percentages of households and individuals own firearms,” you will wind up reaching completely opposite conclusions.

        Neither of these data sources are generally considered to have an ideological axe to grind – in fact, their very success is almost wholly contingent on providing accurate data – and both are widely respected and widely relied upon. Yet in this case, one or both of them must of necessity be astoundingly inaccurate in its results. I honestly have no idea which one, and I can think of good arguments why the methodology of each might be preferable to the other.Report

        • zic in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          The USA Today story suggests a 2007 Harvard Study; I’ve been unable to pinpoint it, and have an obligation; I will continue searching.

          Greginak posted a link a couple days ago to a story in Salon about how the right’s also curtailed CDC research into anything that might be construed as infringing on gun rights; so I’ve a growing concern that the true magnitude of who’s armed and how heavily is a deep mystery. If you’re interested, I’ll find it.

          Mike’s comment upthread — Because eventually the people that pushed for full registration are going to get a tally of how many guns were actually registered and it will be millions short of projected gun totals for the U.S. Then what? highlights this. I mean no slight to Mike, but in the greater context of gun rights, it left me feeling like gun advocates know they’re hiding a dirty secret, and would rather keep the secret then deal with the problems it reveals.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

            Zic, here is what I suspect “the dirty secret” is:

            In several instances in the past, registration of firearms has eventually led to confiscation of firearms.Report

            • DRS in reply to Jaybird says:

              Like when?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DRS says:

                If you want a recent example, Australia’s gun registration turned into a “buy back” program where guns were confiscated and their owners were given payment in exchange before the guns were destroyed. That was 1996.

                The registry told them who owned guns and told them who needed to sell their gun to the government.

                If allowed to mention totalitarian regimes popular in the 20th century, I can name more than a few but I’m sure that you know all about those examples and weren’t counting them when you asked.Report

            • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

              Let me be clear, Jaybird, I don’t necessarily thing registration is the answer. In fact, I don’t think there is ‘an answer.’ There are probably many interlocking things that can bend the trend lines.

              But consider George’s comment below; One of the problems with any such survey is that you might as well be calling people up and asking them how much they cheated on their taxes the previous year, or whether they beat their kids or are cheating on their spouse. It also has the sense of dirty secret; doing something wrong.

              Fear of confiscation is definitely a factor, I’ll grant. But why would it make people think they’re doing something unsavory, like beating their kids or cheating on their wife? I can’t help wonder if there’s more to it.

              I apologize to George if I’ve offended him by using his comment; he spoke what he felt, and I’m grateful for that.

              Why is that?Report

              • zic in reply to zic says:

                edit: reverse those last two sentences when reading.Report

              • George Turner in reply to zic says:

                Fear of confiscation is definitely a factor, I’ll grant. But why would it make people think they’re doing something unsavory, like beating their kids or cheating on their wife? I can’t help wonder if there’s more to it.

                I apologize to George if I’ve offended him by using his comment; he spoke what he felt, and I’m grateful for that.

                Why is that?

                Because gun ownership has been demonized. My housemate had his school teacher ask the class “who here lives in a home where there’s a gun?” He raised his hand. His father got a nasty note from the school demanding that he get rid of his guns. Dad told them to mind their own business, and fortunately they didn’t try and stir up further trouble, which they could’ve easily done by claiming the child was in an “unsafe environment.” My housemate now lives by the rule, “Never, ever confess to possessing a gun to anyone who doesn’t also possess a gun,” as do I and a great many of other people.

                It only takes one nosey, sanctimonious, freaked out neighbor, busybody, or crusader to cause all sorts of trouble, and any stranger asking such a question is up to no good. Generally the vicious troublemakers will just append “and they own guns” to “he cheats on his wife and beats his kids,” and we’ve seen it all too often.

                I was once evicted fom an apartment complex where I’d lived for fifteen years because I left a WW-I antique rifle where a maintenance man could see it when he changed air-conditioning filters. He mentioned it to the liberal girls in the front office, and you guessed it, evicted for an unspecified “unsafe environment.”

                Some people freak totally out at the site of a gun or the mere mention of one, so many gun owners act like having a gun is about like having a kilo of cocaine laying around. Needless to say, this engenders a reflexive attitude and an unwillingness to volunteer information, and often other behaviors you might not expect. I ended up keeping all of my guns at other people’s houses. This made my friends very happy. I ended up selling just about all of them to friends, bosses, and coworkers.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

                My housemate now lives by the rule, “Never, ever confess to possessing a gun to anyone who doesn’t also possess a gun,” as do I

                No offense, but you’re doing a really bad job of that.Report

              • Kim in reply to George Turner says:

                Never any reason to keep guns around the house. ‘cept if you live far enough away from the road that you can see/hear trouble coming…
                ‘sides, if there’s trouble, no way I wanna be home for it.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                You’re not my neighbors, and I don’t currently possess a gun. Otherwise I’d be keeping quiet.

                But the point is, if you’re always demonizing something and demanding its confiscation, why on Earth would you expect people to freely confess, especially when they know you’re just on a witch hunt?

                It’s like thinking you’ll fight drug addiction by demonizing cocaine and simultaneously demanding that drug lords register their inventory with the government. Nobody with any sense would think that would work.Report

              • I think one of the many (seriously, MANY) problems with this particular discussion is that the assumption of bad faith goes in both directions.

                Where you see half of society demonizing you, I see one out of every hundred demonizing you and the other 99 asking, “Isn’t there some better way we could do this so this doesn’t happen again?”Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                About a third to half of that 99 percent is loudly asserting that the way to prevent the tragedy from happening again is to drastically reduce the number of guns people possess.

                Now think through what that actually entails. The number of gun owners who think they have too many guns, in a free market economy, is theoretically zero, as any excess gun can be sold for cash. Given the surge in sales, obviously those who own guns think they own too few guns, not too many.

                So the only way to reduce the number of guns is to take them from people against their will, as expressed by their current buy/sell behavior. Gun owners realize this quite well, even if liberals don’t.

                Gun owners also know that the point of registration isn’t really registration, since registration doesn’t do anything but put your name on a list – of suspects, future targets, etc, and the killing at Sandy Hook was done with fully registered guns in the state with the 5th tightest gun regulations. Registration and regulation obviously didn’t do anything to stop that tragedy, so why would they be rationally suggested as remedies? Basically, there’s only one logical conclusion a gun owner will reach. This isn’t their first time on the merry-go-round, they basically live on it at this point.Report

              • “About a third to half of that 99 percent is loudly asserting that the way to prevent the tragedy from happening again is to drastically reduce the number of guns people possess.”

                There’s some big, wide open spaces between that comment and the assertion that everyone that disagrees with you is “demonizing” anyone that owns a gun.

                Over the past week, I have read a LOT of (mostly bad) arguments asking for laws to stop producing certain kids of arms, to ban certain kinds of ammunition or magazines, to limit the access of arms to the mentally ill and convicted felons, and other such strands of spaghetti thrown against the wall. I have yet to read one piece by anyone that says anyone who owns a gun is a monster. In the threads of this site, only one guy (not a regular) has said anything remotely like that, and he was loudly shouted down by everyone, cons and libs alike.

                I don’t believe that villagers with pitchforks are on their way to your door. If their arguments are flawed (and I agree with you that most of them are), may I suggest you’ll have a better chance convincing them so if you listen and respond to what they’re actually saying rather than telling them they’re saying things they aren’t.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Oh, I’ve been responding to their arguments, which over the last couple days has meant debating homicide rates in the UK and Europe, quite a bit of which is in this thread.

                I’ve just gotten into this pitchfork discussion because I do probably have some accounts to offer to clarify what many gun owners do feel, and why.

                To some of the anti-gun people, owning a gun seems weird, if not a little alarming and perplexing. In many areas with high gun-ownership rates, such as where I’m from, owning three to twenty guns isn’t nearly as odd as owning two cars. “Why would anyone want two cars?” Most of the people I know own lots of guns, and it’s not a self-selected sample. Most of my coworkers own guns, and some have walk-in gun safes. I grew up in an area where the average age of getting the first gun used to be six, and by high-school the average child used to own three. It doesn’t cause much of a problem at all. Everybody just goes squirrel hunting and plinking instead of getting in bar fights.Report

              • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                George, the problem with “only one logical conclusion” is that every argument is then turned into “they are coming to take all my guns away.” It is completely possible to think we need some new or better gun laws, think guns are useful, appropriate tools, should be legal, fun to shoot and that gun owners/non-gun owners are just normal people. In general people who want more gun laws then you agree are just fine decent people, you know, like gun owners.Report

              • DRS in reply to George Turner says:

                If George sees people who disagree with him as demonizing him, then he might be too emotionally fragile to possess guns in the first place. I certainly don’t want the responsibility of knowing that he acted out inappropriately.Report

              • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                DRS- i’m guessing this comment is not going to lead to a respectful conversation.Report

              • DRS in reply to George Turner says:

                DRS- i’m guessing this comment is not going to lead to a respectful conversation.

                Didn’t realize I was interupting one. Carry on, then.Report

              • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                I remain eternally hopeful. And pretty much eternally disappointed,but you never know.Report

              • George can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m going to guess that one of the biggest things that leads gun owners to think that the ultimate goal is the confiscation of all/most of their guns is that the AWB is far and away the most frequently advanced proposal for gun control. They are quite right when they say that there is no functional difference between an “assault weapon” and the overwhelming majority of firearms. When they ask, as Mike has done several times on this thread, what it is about an “assault weapon” that makes it more appropriate to ban than other firearms, they get one of three responses: (1) silence; (2) a point about how no one should have a machine gun; or (3) a point about how no civilian should have access to a semi-automatic firearm. You will note that “assault weapons” are not machine guns, which are banned under separate laws, and that the overwhelming majority of firearms, not just “assault weapons”, are semi-automatic. When this is pointed out, the response is just about always more silence or, at best, some sort of huffy statement that civilians shouldn’t own military-grade weaponry, which is an extraodinarily circular argument.

                Under those circumstances, there’s only two conclusions that can be reached about the actual reason for an assault weapons ban, and especially the reason why such a ban is at the top of gun control advocates’ priority list: (1) gun control advocates have no understanding of guns and are just trying to ban whatever guns they can willy-nilly; or (2) gun control advocates want to ban all semi-automatics (again, the majority of guns in this country) but currently only have the political ability to ban “ugly guns,” which they can easily (and falsely) portray as a machine gun.

                Basically, as long as an AWB is at or near the top of gun control advocates’ wish list, gun owners are understandably going to think that gun control advocates are just trying to ban whatever they can, whenever they can.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Hrm…Hadn’t heard the “emotionally fragile” argument before. Perhaps you’re saying that women shouldn’t be allowed to own guns to defend themselves against stalkers, rapists, and psychotic ex-husbands?Report

              • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                The answer is mostly 1. Most people for whom gun control is a major don’t understand guns that well. They don’t understand what semi-auto means and are focused on guns that look like military weapon. Yes. Many gun control proponents often end up displaying their lack of knowledge in these kind of debates. Pro-gun folks insist on taking ignorance for malice. Not just any malice but malice covering up massive totalitarian plot. I’d go farther to add that any thing suggested by any gun control advocate is going to be taken as malice + secretive sinister plot. In fact any disagreement with the NRA line is malice and plot.

                I know i keep posing this question/point, but it seems like the most hard core gun rights folks are simply overwhelmingly paranoid and see everything as an evil plot.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Greg, part of the Merry-go-round is:

                “We want to take away your guns.”
                “You want to take away our guns?”
                “No, you’re just being paranoid. We only want to some of them.”
                “You want to take away some of our guns?”
                “No, you’re just being paranoid. We only want common sense regulation.”
                “Which would be?”
                “We want to take away your guns.”
                “You want to take away our guns?”
                “You’re being paranoid again.”Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to George Turner says:

                One way to defend yourself against murderous ex spouses is to live in a society where ex spouses don’t have easy access to guns. In places like Japan, fewer murders -including spousal disputes- happen.

                I suppose some people may buy a gun to deter being beaten by a husband after leaving their home, and maybe have a legitimate need for a weapon. (Pepper spray or a taser is likely a better option, of course.)

                However, one thing I know about abusers and stalkers is that they almost always aren’t rationally deterred by the threat of violence, even death. A fairly likely outcome is that the abuser will find out that the abused has a gun, buy one themself, and then kill the abused.

                There may be a rational need for guns in the home for a small class of people (though pepper spray and tasers would be better). On the basis of need, we can have police issue special licenses to these people (who are in danger) for a weapon (with a limited firing capacity, say 6 rounds) and a GPS chip that would require them to keep the weapon in the home, or in very rare cases on them at all times. (Fees could be waived for the license and the person could be given a length of time before they were required to complete gun training, demonstrate that they stored the gun safely to police, finish psych evaluations etc.) Moreover, police would then be able to track the person and the weapon, which could be beneficial in any investigation later on.

                Determining need for a special license for a gun with GPS and low capacity would be a tricky business, legally, but so are things like restraining orders. These situations are already legally complex before or after the gun arrives.


                Tasers and Pepper Spray
                Abused are safer in aworld with few guns, like Japan
                Guns in rare cases with licensing, GPS tracking to keep track of gunReport

              • Greg – I agree that the answer as a practical matter is mostly (1), but that’s really no better, since it raises the implication of just trying to ban whatever can be banned whenever it can be banned, without making any effort to figure out what kinds of regulations and/or restrictions would actually increase safety. Basically, if the goal is improved public safety, then there would be an attempt to focus on regulations and laws that at least have a theoretical nexus to improved safety. If the goal is that all guns need to be banned in order to improve safety, though, then banning things willy-nilly whenever politically feasible has a certain logic to it.

                Basically, the AWB is so illogical and arbitrary that having it as a high priority item gives gun owners every reason in the world to absolutely distrust gun control advocates’ motives. This is especially true when the response to attempts to educate those advocates on this issue is silence, at best.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to George Turner says:

                Isn’t it the NRA and gun owners who assert that there is no diffference between a Bushmaster and a .22 bolt action squirrel rifle?
                And that there is no difference between registering guns and confiscating them?
                Sorry George and Mike, while you guys present as sane and responsible, your representative agency, the NRA, is out there telling us that we need guns in churches, guns in pre-schools, guns in the shower, guns, guns, guns, everywhere and always.

                Because in NRA World, a simple trip to the grocery store is no different than a smuggling run in Somalia, and stepping foot into a church on Sunday is as fraught with danger as the cantina on Mos Eisley.

                Its the NRA that paints themselves as the freakish paranoids, the ones who are a half-step away from squatting in a corner polishing a AK-47 mumbling about black helicopters.

                Pro-tip: if you don’t want people to look at you like a lunatic, don’t elect spokesmen who tell us that our pre-schoolers need to strap on a Glock on their way to storytime.Report

              • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                No George, “we” don’t want to take away all your guns. I’m fine with you owning guns. I think guns are fun to shoot myself. this is the paranoia i’m talking about. Everything ends up being “you just want to take all our guns away.” Are there people who make wild statements and also clearly don’t know much about guns. yes. But there are also real nazi’s in America. But not everybody i disagree with a real nazi. not everybody who thinks we need some more gun laws is your stereotype of a person who wants to take every bodies frickin guns away.

                Hell i don’t think a ban on assault weapons makes sense but somehow, based on past conversations, i still somehow, without me being aware of it, wants to take every bodies guns away.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to George Turner says:


                A bushmaster functions the same as a .22 semi-auto , like the one I shoot. The only real difference is the size of the bullet.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to George Turner says:

                Yeah, I know- I’ve shot both a .22 Marlin and a Bushmaster. I had a friend once who was a certified gun nut- the sort who bought a .44 magnum after seeing Dirty Harry. He insisted on owning a Bushmaster, and kept looking for friends who could convert it to full auto.

                The difference is, a .22 Marlin is useful for targets and varmints, a Bushmaster is only useful for fueling Travis Bickel fantasies.

                The NRA has decided to comingle responsible gun owners and paranoid gun freaks, and refuses to allow any distinction between the two. They purposefully insist that any infringement on the right to own a Bushmaster is the same as confiscation of squirrel rifles.

                This has been politically convenient for them for a long time. But see, the demographics are changing.
                The number of gun owners is shrinking, but the number of gun owners is rising; the number of hunters is shrinking, but the number of gun nuts is rising.

                At some tipping point, a majority of Americans, when they think of “gun owner” won’t think of sober and cautious Uncle Fred who goes with his buddies each year to hunt deer; instead, they will have a mental image of Adam Lanza or Jared Lee Loughner or that creepy guy who hangs out at the VFW.

                And at that point, nobody is going to give a rip about the difference between a .22 and a Bushmaster.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to George Turner says:


                Even though you and I don’t agree much, I know you to be a smart guy. So I know that you know a Bushmaster can be used for non-human killing purposes. It’s no different than a Browning BAR or anyone of a bunch of other semi-auto hunting rifles. If the magazine capacity is the problem, go after those. But the rifle itself is not some kind of death machine.

                And the thing is, more shotguns kill people than assault rifles. If you are so upset with assault rifles, what are you going to say 5 years into another ban when this one doesn’t work any better than the last one? That’s when I have to worry about the guns I have to hunt with.

                What’s kind of bizarre is the fact that we have already had an AWB and it has been documented to have had no effect on the gun crime and yet liberals are now saying, “Yeah, but let’s do it again anyway.” These seems like a knnejerk reaction to CT, not rational thought.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to George Turner says:

                I agree.
                Or at least, I agree that banning “assault weapons” isn’t by itself going to make a dent in the crime rate.
                Because “assault weapons” is really just a catchall name for “scary-looking paramilitary rifles”.
                Which is the point I made elsewhere, that while you COULD hunt with a Bushmaster, no one really does. Their intended consumer is not a serious hunter but a gun nut.
                Because they are designed, not to effectively kill deer, but to be scary-looking and paramilitary; the flash suppressor, the top handle, the M-16 mimicry; these things are decorations that are like a flashing sign to mentally unstable people but don’t do anything to make it easier to hunt deer.
                I’m not proposing legislation; I’m proposing that we collectively (and the NRA specifically) call out, isolate, and shun gun nuts.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Part of the problem with the NRA shunning AR-15’s is that one of its founding purposes was to make sure Americans were skilled in the use of American military combat arms so that our sons would never serve as poorly trained cannon fodder. That’s why it’s specifically a “rifle” association. It wasn’t originally for duck hunters, or hunters at all, it was a military/civilian organization devoted to teaching effective marksmanship to everyone.

                I’d be happy if everyone ditched the AR-15 platform, despite its popularity, because I’ve never really liked it. In a lot of states you can’t hunt deer with one because it’s not sufficiently lethal, and the entire platform really doesn’t upgrade to much more powerful cartridges very well. They can also be very unreliable and prone to jamming. The smaller magazines are much more reliable in that regard, whereas the large drum magazines are almost guaranteed to jam, which is one of the reasons the military won’t use them. Ironically, it’s the unreliable magazines that are under threat.

                The last assault weapons ban improved lethality by getting rid of a lot of useless gimicks like folding wire stocks and flash supressors. If there’s another ban, hopefully it will upgrade people to a better platform, more like an M-1A or BAR in at least a 6mm, 6.5, 6.8, 7, or 7.62 caliber instead of .223, which is a poodle round.

                But if we insist on disaming the general populace, it won’t matter if the shooter has a Brown Bess and a cap and ball revolver, or at least an 1819 Hall breechloader in either flintlock or percussion, because everyone will simply be targets waiting their turn.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to George Turner says:

                All that sarcasm, and you couldn’t work in a reference to toddler’s Kevlar overalls by OshKosh B Gosh, or something?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

                So you’re unconcerned with us (quite logically) because we can’t affect you in real life, but you’d lie to a Gallup pollster, because …. ?Report

              • George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Because I can’t know that they’re really a Gallup pollster and not some wacko stirring up trouble.

                Just last week a lady up the street, neighbor to a power-mad guy who wants to take over leadership of our neighborhood association, sent an e-mail to one of my neighbors who is the current president saying that some man tried to lure her neighbor’s young daughter into a car, and would she please send out a mass email to the neighborhood.

                Instead of starting a witch hunt immediately, the head e-mailed back asking what kind of car, a description of the man, and whatnot. So the freaky neighbor sends out a nasty e-mail saying that just because the head doesn’t have children (she can’t), she doesn’t care about kids, blah blah blah, then started a stream of facebook and e-mail posts to stir the pot. Meanwhile the head had been calling the police looking for information on the perp, and after a couple of days the guy in the records office said that a lot of neighbors pull this kind of stunt and it pisses him off.

                The whole point of the child abduction story was to undermine the head so the power-mad guy could replace her as association head. Given that many people behave that way, would you honestly answer a stranger’s question over the telephone?Report

              • FWIW, the evidence would seem to suggest that, if there’s any hiding going on at all, it’s more to the GSS Survey, not the Gallup poll folks. This is interesting since the GSS Survey interviews people in person rather than over the phone.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I probably would, about relatively neutral subjects, but than I don’t have an unfounded fear of persecution.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Let’s unindent a bit.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                and unindent a bit more.

                Mark, going by me as an example, I would be even less likely to tell a stranger at the door if I had a gun in the home, depending on the level of trust they could establish, because they’ve obviously got a definite location on the house, and might be part of a group casing places.

                One of the reasons I never kept guns here is that the landlord, though very nice, was a trustfund baby with a crack problem and I just wasn’t going to tempt him with an opportunity to get in further trouble.

                One of my police friends up the street, who obviously would have guns and parked his squad car at home, had his entire gun safe ripped out of his floor. Fortunately it turned up the next morning by the railroad tracks, but his service issue Glock and his wedding ring were missing. Oddly, the Glock had been recovered by the ATF the night before in a drug sting, but the ring was never found.Report

              • This is a pretty reasonable explanation for a good chunk of the discrepancy, I think.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Hope this is the right indent level.

                So what I’m saying is that several confounding consideration affect how a gun owner will answer a stranger’s questions. Some questions have judgemental implications, perhaps even resulting in official trouble, and some are asking about items with a great deal of street value and demand, and some are all of the above.

                How many of you would always honestly answer someone asking the following?

                1) Do you even use corporal punishment to discipline your child?
                2) Do you keep unused bottles of opiod painkillers in your medicine cabinet, such as Vicodin, Percocet, or Lortab?
                3) Do you keep more than 500 dollars worth of jewelry at home? Do you keep more than 2,000 dollars worth?
                4) Do you keep guns in your home?

                If “none of your business” pops into your head on 1 to 3, well, number 4 is no different.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

                If it’s a known polling outfit, I’d answer all those questions.

                My answers to number #3 and #4 would be “decline to state”, but I’d answer them.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

              Like all throughout history, Nazi Germany being a prominent example often cited by pro-gun advocates. But it also happened in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Chicago, California, New York, New Orleans, Bermuda, Greece, and countless other places.

              Since registering a gun doesn’t change its utility or lethality in any way, shape, or form, there’s really no reason to register them except to make confiscating them logistically easier.Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to zic says:

            Zic – don’t worry too much on my behalf about that particular study.The claims it makes don’t seem to necessarily be contingent on whether the percentage of Americans owning guns is increasing or decreasing. To be honest, I also kind of suspect that it may in part be reliant on previous GSS surveys, in which case it wouldn’t resolve whether GSS or Gallup is more accurate on the question.

            I’d most like to see someone like Hanley weigh in on this, since presumably he has a good amount of familiarity with the GSS’ methodology.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          One of the problems with any such survey is that you might as well be calling people up and asking them how much they cheated on their taxes the previous year, or whether they beat their kids or are cheating on their spouse.Report

  26. Rufus F. says:

    It occurs to me that nobody has ever asked me why I don’t own a gun, nor have I ever thought about why I don’t. I take it that gun owners regularly get asked why they own a gun.

    In the first place, I’ve little interest in hunting. My father took me fishing and I always enjoyed that, but hunting was never much fun for me. I do know plenty of hunters who own hunting guns. I’m not sure what percentage of gun owners they are however. I know there are places in the country where hunting is a community activity.

    Then there are guns for people who are afraid of crime. This might seem paranoid to those who don’t live in places where crime is a part of life. One gun owner I knew was my boss when I used to work at a convenience store that was poorly located on a rural road and the owner had a handgun that she carried at all times. I know there were a few times that she had to get in her “shooting stance” with someone- once it was to prevent a robbery that could very likely have ended much worse than it did- they were probably tied to a robbery/killing at another local store. At any rate, I do think there are people who actually have good reason to fear crime because of where they live or work. I remember being unsurprised to hear a liquor store owner in a rough city I lived in mention having a gun behind the counter.

    But, that’s the thing, I have lived in some places that had quite a bit of crime and never felt compelled to own a gun. I think, to be very honest, that I just don’t think a gun would do me any good in a situation in which I actually had cause to use one. I think there’s a certain amount of optimism that you need to own a gun that I lack. I’m not sure what that means about me or gun owners though.Report

    • zic in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Thanks for saying this, Rufus.

      For one of the things that disturbs me most about a debate on guns with gun owners is the co-opting of the right to self defense to mean the right to won a gun. Yes, it’s legal to own a gun for self defense.

      But it’s legal to defend yourself even if you don’t own a gun; and there are many, many more folk who don’t own a gun then folk who do. I think it important to push on the question if the minority is abusing the rights of the majority who opt to go unarmed; who don’t want trained marksmen in our schools, churches, and meeting places.Report

      • Kim in reply to zic says:

        Worse yet, untrained marksman.
        I know someone who has shot at another human being, in self-defense.
        The odds of that shot shooting someone else are pretty high.
        He’s not a terribly good shot, you see.Report

        • zic in reply to Kim says:

          Sometime, I’m going to bring up the discussion of the Police Force. We have this assumption that they’re trained.

          But there’s a pretty big parcel of reserve officers who fill in who are not well trained at all, at least around these parts. So they get the badge, the gun, the car, the responsibility, and totally lack the training. That’s frightening.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to zic says:

        Thanks, I really hadn’t even thought of that. I guess I’m really just trying to understand different types of gun owners’ mindsets and where my thinking is different. You start with hunters. There are quite a few hunters and, in spite having never found the sport very enjoyable, I think it’s very easy for me to understand why they own guns. Then you have people who really do work and live in places where violent crime is common. I think I can understand their mindset, although frankly I can’t envision trying to defend myself with a gun and having it end in any non-tragic way. (My boss did, in fact, most definitely prevent a tragic situation from happening with a gun, so it is possible.) The hardest ones for me to understand, though, are gun owners whose situation is roughly the same as mine, but who feel compelled to own a gun. What percentage of gun owners are they? I don’t know. I wish I knew more of them to discuss why I don’t own a gun and they do.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

          This is one of those weird things. I inherited Uncle Bill’s Mauser (taken from the body of a dead Nazi), my dad’s Ruger Mach I, and Papa’s shotgun (it dates back to the 30’s and I believe it has a lady’s name but I don’t know what it is).

          I don’t really think of myself as a “gun owner”. I suppose, technically, I am… but I’ve never fired the things… I don’t know how to take them apart and put them back together or anything like that. It’s just that the previous owner died and now they’ve ended up here. It’s only when we have conversations like this one that I am reminded “oh, yeah… I have some of those.”Report

        • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I own guns partly for protection, partly for hunting, partly because they are fun to shoot.

          It’s fun whether you are firing a full-auto just for the hell of it (& it is fun – insanely expensive, but a whole lot of fun), or blasting away a semi-auto until the mag runs dry (a useful exercise to remind yourself how quickly you you can empty the thing if you are not careful & deliberate with your shots), or running a shooting course (skeet, trap, pin shooting, & steel matches are fun & require a good combination of speed & hand-eye coordination!), or just allowing yourself to fall into the Zen-like state of careful aiming to achieve the, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” state.Report

    • greginak in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Good points Rufus. While i don’t particularly doubt i could kill someone to defend myself or others, unless i’m having an action movie fantasy i can’t see how packing heat would help. Obviously i could get lucky by spraying bullets but unless i trained and practiced owning a gun wouldn’t likely do much for me other then giving me a false sense of security. The belief, that many gun owners seem to feel, that they would calm, cool and collected, and also ready at any moment, to take decisive deadly action is appears to be a major difference in mindset among gun owners and non-gun owners. I don’t doubt that training helps and i imagine combat vets would have an advantage, but cops and combat vets panic, miss and screw up. Gun owners seem a bit to certain they will be on target and get everything right to me. Braggadocio and over confidence scare me more then, well fear itself.

      This has nothing to do with whatever should or shouldn’t be passed.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Rufus F. says:

      This is a fantastic comment, Rufus.

      Funny, though, that I think of the reason I *don’t* carry around a gun is my optimism.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I do not own a gun and, until relatively recently, hadn’t planned on ever getting one. A couple of things changed my perspective. One of them is having moved out to where I live. There are a total of 14 cops in my county (6 of which are part-time) covering an area half the size of New Jersey and partitioned by mountains and with wildlife about. The cops out there tend to support gun ownership for that reason.

      I’d intended to get one over the summer, but couldn’t quite work out the scheduling on usage and safety lessons (lessons, I should add, taught by the local chapter of the NRA). So it may be a while, or it may not happen at all.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        What are the crime rates in your area, particularly violent crime? Could they ever be sufficiently low enough to mitigate your new-found consideration of gun ownership?Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

          Violent crime rates are 10% below the national average and 25% above the state average. I’m not sure if there is floor enough to mitigate my views on the subject because of the wildlife question.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to DRS says:

      I caught excerpts of this on Rush this morning, presumably sections he thought were strongest. I was pretty appalled at a lot of it. I did enjoy his reference to “Natural Born Killers” (1994) and “American Psycho” (2000) as movies that are played on loop daily. It was almost like he simply cut-and-pasted that portion of the speech from a decades old one. Could he really not find a more contemporary movie reference? And if he genuinely couldn’t, maybe that means something, no?Report

      • DRS in reply to Kazzy says:

        I think the message the NRA has sent with this event is that they are (you should pardon the expression) shooting with blanks. This is the best they can do after a week’s silence? It’s the media’s fault – like that worked so well for the Republicans last month, didn’t it? Video games? Tax-payer-funded cops in schools?

        Stick a fork in them, they’d done. What bought-and-paid-for congressperson is going to stick his neck out for these recommendations? Over to you, Joe.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to DRS says:

          Blaming video games and entertainment is, unfortunately, still popular. As are cops in schools.Report

          • DRS in reply to Will Truman says:

            Yes, it probably is. But this is a great big special interest group with money to consult GR and PR experts – and recycling stuff like this is the best they can do after a week? If you were an NRA member, would you feel like this was good stuff? I don’t think so. Looks to me like very tired and flacid policy. Again, if you’re an NRA-approved congressman, would you look at this as giving you good cover? Once more, I don’t think so.Report

        • Chris in reply to DRS says:

          Here in Austin, the school system has its own police department. I don’t know if this is unusual, but I don’t recall seeing school district police cars riding around anywhere else.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Kazzy says:

        I admire people who can listen to Rush when they don’t agree with him. It always makes me feel hypertension.Report

        • zic in reply to NewDealer says:


          Getting rid of cable TV, and the talking bobble-headed loopynewsness was 100% smart move.

          Someday, entertainment that’s offered on cable will be offered for a small fee download, and life will be good.Report

  27. DRS says:

    Another spree in Pennsylvania this morning.

    Four dead including the shooter. Happened at a church. Words fail. Again.Report

  28. Kolohe says:

    And so it begins:

    The strange kids are being sought out and arrested, thrown in jail where they can become proper criminals.

    Mental health treatment?

    Pssah, as if.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

      Police then searched the boy’s home on the 300 block of East Spencer Lane and found several electronic parts and several types of chemicals that when mixed together, could cause an explosion, police say.

      If he builds a bomb and uses it, then we can say schools are crap because they never prevent these things.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        If you wanted to characterize your political opponents correctly, you’d say that if the Principal had a bomb, it would have prevented the tragedy.

        But anyway, they’re ain’t a home in the developed world that *doesn’t* have electronic parts and chemicals that go kablooey when mixed together.Report