Assault Weapons Ban, Part II: How to Prevent a Meaningful Dialogue on Guns and Gun Control


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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317 Responses

  1. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    What is the point of having a dialogue, though, if it won’t lead to any meangingful action? I’m skeptical that a clip size ban would have any impact at all, and even if it did, it’s likely to only slightly decrease the death toll in the worst mass shootings, doing basically nothing to stem the tide of more “ordinary” violence that leads America to have more gun deaths than any other first-world country. To actually get anything meaningful done, we need to decrease the number of guns and the rate of gun ownership in this country. Things like a strict licensing regimen, insurance requirements, and a buyback program could accomplish this. But frankly, I don’t see what the point is if all we do is minimally affect the lethality of the worst tragedies.

    If fear of “firing the first salvo in a war on guns” prevents us from discussing things that would actually make us safer, rather than “things that would make us feel better while still being acceptable to gun owners”, I’d be disappointed.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      What do we mean by “meaningful action”?

      In Mike Dwyer’s (awesome) lingo post, there’s a sub-thread in the comments about banning .50 cal sniper rifles. The general argument against banning them is something to the effect of “these aren’t used in crimes, they haven’t been used in a mass shooting, why are you paying attention to these?” and the general argument for banning them is something to the effect of “the potential for danger is so great and there are so few of these in the hands of even fewer people that banning these guns will prevent great potential for violence at the cost of stepping on only a few toes”.

      (at which point it goes back to the whole “BUT NOBODY USES THESE GUNS FOR THE VIOLENT CRIME YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT” vs. “BUT THERE’S NO LEGITIMATE REASON TO OWN ONE OF THESE THINGS” arguments where both sides have entirely different ideas of what “meaningful action” would consist of)

      What is “meaningful action”? Reduction in the number of murders in any given year? Reduction in the number of armed robberies in any given year? Reduction in the number of suicides in any given year? Reduction in the number of guns owned?

      Because if, over the past decade, the number of murders and number of armed robberies have *ALREADY* been going down, wouldn’t we want to explore *WHY* that would be?

      Because it’s got little, if anything, to do with a ban on weapons… and if we don’t want to explore why those numbers would have been going down but instead talk about banning guns, I’d think that we’d have established significantly different definitions of “meaningful action” being in play.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        I’d say that meaningful action is something that makes it likely that fewer people will be shot next year, or even in the next 20 years. Realistically, I think that this will entail reducing gun ownership. I mean, does anyone believe that a ban on large clips will actually prevent all that many deaths?

        As for what’s driving the decline in violence, obviously there are a ton of factors, with the biggest probably being the decline in lead levels. But I think it’s pretty obvious that lower gun ownership rates will lower rates of gun violence. That’s the trend that we should be encouraging.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I think the problem is that folks are looking for solutions that will change things immediately or almost immediately (and a time horizon of one year is “immediately”).

          Many folks point to studies that show complete bans on gun tend to lead to an increase in violence. And this makes some sense. Remove individuals’ rights to possess and use guns and the only folks still using them will be criminals, who now have a bunch of unarmed patsies to take aim at (either with their weapon or with their weapon as a threat to do some other sort of crime, such as theft). But my hunch would be that would not be the reality long-term. EVENTUALLY those violence rates would drop, as the criminals would slowly lose access to their guns and have no means of replenishing them. And that gives little solace to the victims of gun violence until that happens.

          It is possible that magazine restrictions would do little to quell gun deaths in the short-term, but could lead to a cultural shift that cuts down on violence in the long-term. If large magazines become viewed as something only crazies would have instead of something cool, than there are going to be less large magazines out there and folks are going to view their use and possession differently.

          I don’t think we’re ever going to stop violence by making violence or the tools for violence illegal. People who want to do harm will find a way to do harm. But if we make cultural shifts, societal shifts, we can possibly do some long-term good. But much like turning a large boat, it will be slow and gradual.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            Slow and gradual I’m fine with–that’s why I included the caveat about the next 20 years in my reply to Jaybird. But a large-clip ban goes beyond “slow” and into “nonexistent”. Even the Newtown shooter would probably have been just as lethal if he’d had to reload after every 10 shots instead of every 20; and in the vast majority of gun deaths, clip size isn’t an issue, since it’s a person killing just one other person or themself.

            I have yet to see any evidence that smaller clip sizes would lead to noticeably lower rates of gun death, or would lower rates of gun ownership. Those should be the two goals of any gun control bill. I have zero confidence that smaller clips will actually do anything measurably positive, so using up a scarce chance at gun control on something meaningless bugs me.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Magazine size may prove to be ineffective; I only used it as an example because it was already discussed.

              Personally, I’m pretty liberal on most issues. And I am pretty uncomfortable with and around guns and with certain subsects of “gun culture”. But gun control isn’t a big issue for me, largely because I don’t think controlling guns will really address our issues.

              I’m far from a Michael Moore fan, but what I took away from “Bowling for Columbine” is that many other countries have guns like the US does but doesn’t have gun violence the way we do, which tells me the issue is less about guns and more about something else. As we saw in Aurora, where the shooter had booby trapped his apartment with homemade bombs, if someone wants to do ill, they will find a way to do so, through either legal, illegal, or extralegal means.

              What I think we need to do is figure out WHY so many people want to do ill and why they seemingly lack the skills or support to avoid giving in to this impulse. And I think there are different answers to this based on different groups. Gun violence happens for a different reason than domestic abuse which happens for a different reason than mass shootings.

              If suddenly every gun in America disappeared tomorrow, we’d still see high rates of violence. Probably somewhat lower because it’d be HARDER to do certain acts of violence, but we’d still be a violent (by industrialized nation standards) place.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Fewer deaths and massive injuries, perhaps. Or perhaps not. I venture to say we’re quite possibly more experienced/better at fixing bulletholes than knife wounds.Report

          • This. Especially the last paragraph.

            A ban on high-cap magazines admittedly only has effects on the margins, at best (though this is probably more than one can say about a renewed AWB). No argument there. But that’s not the point, which is that it at least creates a place where an actual discussion of reforms aimed at reducing gun violence (whatever those reforms might actually wind up being) can occur.Report

            • Avatar Dan Miller says:

              What reforms do you think will meet a two-part test of a) actually reducing gun violence and b) not pissing off gun owners? I honestly can’t think of any. Yes, there are gun owners that aren’t as crazy as the NRA out there, but even they are unlikely to sign off on something that makes it more onerous or expensive to own a gun, or a gun control measure that might actually have an impact (like, e.g., banning all semi-autos or all handguns). Am I missing something? What actual restrictions would be acceptable to the responsible-gun-owner community?Report

              • There’s a major difference between “acceptable” and “tolerable,” for starters. But certainly the second we start talking about complete bans on large categories of guns, you’re in the “intolerable” realm. \

                Mike D. has set forth some interesting proposals – microstamping ammunition in particular. Significant, but reasonable, taxes on ammunition could also have a noticeable impact.

                I could see legitimate arguments for registration schemes to be successful, but more than any other type of reform, such schemes need gun owners’ acquiescence, and that will never happen until and unless gun owners trust that such a scheme won’t ultimately be used to grab all of their firearms. Nothing ensures that distrust more than the continued talk of gun bans, and especially the renewed push for the AWB.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Reading the article on microstamping that Mike linked to, it seems that it would require a nationwide gun registry with good searching capability to do any good (needless to say, we have nothing like this now). If that’s out of bounds, what good will microstamping do?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Dan – there are two kinds of mircostamping. I support ammunition microstamping by the manufacturer and tied to point-of-purchase. This is a registration of sorts but it’s technically voluntary AND doesn’t require police searches for enforcement. It’s also much faster to implement.

                What that link discusses is stamping by putting a plate on the firing pin of the gun itself. I don’t think that’s practical for many reasons and also yes, creates a search-and-seizure problem.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Thanks for the clarification, but to my eyes this “reform” is pretty weak sauce.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              It seems like the question is…

              “What can we do to stop gun violence?”

              Most answers seem to be one of the following types:
              1.) Greater gun control
              2.) Greater access to guns
              3.) Nothing so don’t try

              If I understand you correctly, it seems as if you are offering up a version of #1 to avoid people heading down the path that #3 offers. Do I have that right?Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                That’s basically the size of it. As far as I’m concerned, the way to decrease gun violence is to discourage gun ownership to the extent we can. That doesn’t necessarily mean a ban on all guns; even partial bans are probably far off in the future, to make enforcement easier. But the goal should be to decrease the prevalence of weapons.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I don’t think you do that by stigmatizing guns (and subsequently gun owners) as the provence of loons and violent folks, which is what a lot of gun control efforts and the conversations surrounding them seem to be.

                “ONLY CRAZIES WANT BIG MAGAZINES!!!” is, right or wrong, going to make a lot of non-crazies double-down on their opposition to such efforts, perhaps even going so far as to buy more guns and more big magazines in defiance.Report

              • To an extent, I guess, though I very much prefer the broader term “gun safety,” as James Fallows has proposed. I do not think that most “gun control” measures are actually designed to decrease gun violence, and that measure that actually would decrease gun violence fit more under the broad “gun safety” rubric rather than the “gun control” rubric that has become synonymous with grabbing legal guns.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                The safest gun is one that was never purchased. But I think at a certain point we’ll just have to agree to have semi-conflicting worldviews.Report

              • Avatar Michael says:

                I’m pretty sure stolen guns are used more often for violence than guns that were purchased. 😛Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Michael – incorrect. Only about 10-15% of crime guns were stolen.


              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Not to mention, of course, that stolen guns couldn’t have been stolen if they were never purchased.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                do we do better if we get that ratio higher? that more guns need to be stolen in order to be used to commit crimes?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Well, Dan, now you’re in the tautology space.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                I don’t think it’s a tautology. I’m saying that if you want to decrease the amount of gun crime, you should decrease the number of guns, and that any reforms that don’t do this will likely be ineffective.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Well, duh.

                The nuance, though, is that concentrating too much on the “gun” and not enough on the “crime” just moves the problem space. The “crime” is sort of important, given that you have a legitimate reason, as a member of the public, to have a reduction in crime but you don’t have any particular legitimate reason, as a member of the public, to dictate what objects people can and cannot own, except as it relates to the previous contention.

                Let’s play fantasy world for a second and say that Magneto and Charles Xavier teamed up and flew around the country right now today and found every single gun with telepathic probes and Magneto gathered them up and melded them into a giant metal ball. No more guns, January 3rd 2013.

                There would almost certainly be a temporary drop in all sorts of things.

                Your implied contention is that this temporary drop would be the beginning of a long trend of an overall dropping in violent crime, assault, murder, mass killings, and presumably a bunch of other things. By banning guns, you are making everybody safer to a measurable degree.

                I don’t think you can support that as being a plausible outcome with existing evidence.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Really? Why not? After all, assaults-with-gun are definitely more likely to be lethal than assaults-without-gun. If Magneto did destroy all the guns–and they weren’t all replaced, so that the US had an ongoing lower level of gun ownership–than yes, I’d expect there’d be fewer deaths overall. Some people will find other ways to kill themselves or others, yeah; but others will only beat someone up instead of shooting them, or even refrain from escalating a situation altogether. Look at comparative international murder rates. Look at the death rates of people who have guns in their house vs. those who don’t. Yes, having fewer guns around leads to fewer gun deaths and fewer overall violent deaths. This doesn’t seem controversial to me.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’ve looked at the comparative international murder rate.

                The idea that America is uniquely violent is, IMO, incorrect. Comparisons to other first world nations are invariably bad comparisons because our socioeconomic distribution doesn’t compare remotely to other first world nations. Studies that support the idea that America is uniquely violent have generalization problems. Big ones.

                Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Greece, Russia, Japan… they all have very, very different population distributions. They’re much more homogeneous than the United States. They don’t typically have very large populations of particular minorities that are stuck in pernicious generational poverty.

                When you compare middle-class spouse on spouse murder rates in the U.S. to middle-class spouse on spouse murder rates in other countries, are they substantively different? When you compare middle-class spouse on spouse abuse rates, are they substantively different? Are these differences more easily explained by reporting issues than they are by social policy decisions?

                When you compare lower-class minority on minority murder rates in the U.S. to lower-class minority on minority murder rates, are they substantively different?

                When you compare spree killing rates per capita, or deaths per attack type, are they different?

                If you take the Drug War related violent crimes out of the U.S. crime rate, and you compare us to Portugal which has decriminalized drugs, are we substantively different?

                If all of the answers to those questions are “no”, or “not enough to really be very significant”, wouldn’t you say that the root cause of violence in the U.S. is much more likely to be associated with something other than the presence of a particular sort of tangible object that really isn’t much more or less deadly than several other forms of readily accessible tangible objects?Report

              • Avatar Plinko says:

                They don’t typically have very large populations of particular minorities that are stuck in pernicious generational poverty.

                I’m not sure you can make that statement about France or Germany, Pat. Definitely not about Russia. Maybe the generational aspect is tough for the first two since many of their minority populations have developed over the last 50-75 years and calling it as such would be as yet unproven, but they’re there and there’s significant tension around them as well.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                And do they compare?

                Look at the minority populations in Russia. Hey, Chechnya. Muslim minority still under the authority of a non-Muslim, ethnically different majority population.

                Any particular violence problems in Chechnya? Maybe even worse ones than in inner-city Los Angeles?Report

              • Avatar Fnord says:

                Yeah, it’s not true in Russia. And, what do you know, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Russian murder rate was 10.2 per 100,000, compared to 4.8 for the US (2010 numbers).Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well, gun safety seems highly preferable to gun control, but that is not one of the common responses given. Perhaps if it were, we’d be better positioned. And transitioning from GC to GS would be a worthwhile step. But as long as you have a cottage industry around pushing GC, that is going to be what folks opt for.Report

              • With this I agree. So I guess my point is that said cottage industry largely prevents a discussion about reforms that would actually have a chance of reducing gun violence.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well, nuance never sells.Report

          • Avatar Michael says:

            I don’t believe that any form of legislation can cause a cultural change, but I do agree that culture is what reduces crime. I am a lawful and responsible gun owner. Due to the culture I was raised in, I understand what guns should and should not be used for much like the average citizen knows what kitchen knives should and should not be used for. I believe that criminals who use guns are either insane (like the perpetrators of the recent mass shootings) or were raised in a culture that did not establish proper and firm boundaries on the acceptable uses of guns. I believe the best way to cause positive cultural change (and therefore reduce everday gun violence and crime in general) is to improve everyone’s standard of living by providing them the tools for self-betterment (a.k.a. gainful employment at market wages and a stable currency that doesn’t inflate your wealth away).Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              I think some legislation can help shift culture, but again in the slow moving boat way and only if there is enough impetus elsewhere to change. But it takes a while. Ad most examples suffer from chicken-and-egg type hindsight analysis…

              Do we value education because long ago we decided on compulsory ed and that has dictated our cultural view? Or did we mandate ed because we valued it, thereby culuture dictating law? My readings on the matter indicate the former but I bet most people believe the latter.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              When you can’t call the police to enforce contracts, are you really at fault for enforcing them at the point of a gun? (answer: yes, but… locking up individuals doesn’t solve the problem of an underground police force/army).Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


          I would amend your statement to read, “..this will entail reducing illegal gun ownership.”

          The vast majority of gun crime is committed by people who are illegally carying firearms. Either they are felons who aren’t supposed to have them or they are carrying concealed without a permit or they live in a city where gun ownership is severely restricted..or some combination of the three.

          I’m pointing this out because legally owned and carried guns are a tiny part of overall gun violence.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            And yet it’s the stupid POS who is out to make a quick buck who really gets to me. He legally buys guns, and then runs them to people who can’t legally get ’em.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            ” legally owned and carried guns are a tiny part of overall gun violence.”

            That’s true only if you don’t include suicides by gun, which I tend to. And more generally, the line between legal and illegal is fuzzy (for instance, your example of a legal gun carried illegally). The easiest way to reduce the number of illegal guns is to reduce the number of guns, period; that’s why I’m in favor of a strong buyback proposal, mandatory background checks on all sales, licensing requirements that require renewal and insurance coverage, etc.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


              There was an study I linked to recently from ABC that showed something like 55,000 guns involved in crimes came from 120 gun shops. That’s a disproportional linkage thatclearly demonstrates gun trafficking i.e. illegal guns.

              This isn’t a zero sum game with the total number of guns. That implies a certain % will always be used in crimes, whichI refuse to accept is a fixed number.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                100%. We just need to change the incentives, if we’re looking at 120 shops. Pin the blame on the gunsmugglers (both internal to this country, and external).Report

            • Avatar Michael says:

              Gun crime is ordinary crime that involves the use of a gun. Without the gun, the crime may very well still take place if the ill intention of the individual is there. I don’t believe the premise that the presence of guns leads to crime because I own a gun and it hasn’t sparked ill intentions that weren’t otherwise there, so I think reducing the availability of guns, while it may reduce gun crime, will not reduce crime on the whole. However, I do believe that if we reduce crime on the whole, we also reduce gun crime. I believe the most effective use of our efforts is in reducing crime on the whole, but the method to accomplish that is a discussion for another time.Report

        • Avatar gunowner says:


          Let me correct you in your statement
          Large Clips are something you use to hang something. Or use in your hair.
          High Capacity Magazines are what is used in semi-auto fire arms. Lowering Gun ownership will not reduce gun violence. It will actually cause it to go up. If criminals know that people are less likely to own or carry a firearm then there will be more crime.
          And really dude what does lead levels have to do with gun vilolence reductionReport

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        They were used in Waco and elsewhere. They can be used to attack body armor, vehicles, helicopters, and do assassinations at very long range. See the links at the bottom of that post to the GAO and the VPC.Report

    • But the point is that insisting that the first salvo be renewal (indeed, doubling down) of the utterly pointless and useless AWB is insisting on something that doesn’t even theoretically make us safer, much less actually make us safer. All it does is ensure that no discussion of things that actually might make us safer can occur.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        I’m not defending the AWB at all here. I’m just saying that even if we jettisoned it unilaterally, as a show of good faith, it wouldn’t lead to a more productive action.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          This is where I get confused. We cannot jettison something that is utterly pointless and/or useless, even as a show of good faith?

          Here’s my compromise: we re-instate the AWB as Clinton passed it, right before mid-terms, and have it sunset after 10 years.

          That is my good-faith offer.Report

        • I think you severely underestimate the impact of the AWB on gun owners’ mistrust of any gun legislation put forward by liberals whatsoever. The number one reason for the intensity of opposition to a gun registration regime is a fear that such a regime would be used to seize guns. This is an entirely reasonable fear, as even Chuck Schumer acknowledged a week or two ago, so long as there is a substantial push on the left for seizing lots of guns. Where Schumer was wrong was in claiming that Heller takes the teeth out of any such push, because the strong support for the AWB is support for exactly such an effort.

          While I’m not a gun owner myself, I’ve travelled enough within the gun rights community to know that nothing gins up their anger like talk of the AWB.

          Would they still be opposed to registration if the AWB were dropped? Absolutely. Would they still be intensely opposed for a few years? Probably. But as it gradually became clear that the AWB and measures like it or worse were off the table, the intensity of that opposition would decrease to a point where maybe they could live with it even if they didn’t like it.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Propaganda is power. the NRA (and republicans) used the AWB as a wedge issue.

            Dirty Fucking Hippies was the rallying cry against occupy wall street, wasn’t it?

            Code for communist was a rallying cry against Obama.

            These poisons take a generation to die.Report

            • Avatar Michael says:

              I don’t disagree with you, but you must also accept that the other side also used birth control as a wedge issue.

              Tea Bagging Redneck Racists was the rallying cry against the tea party, wasn’t it?

              Code for capitalist oppressor was a rallying cry against Romney.

              These poisons when mixed with the ones you stated are the true barriers to cooperation and why I can’t stand either of the two major political parties.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                My statement against the tea party was always “Stealing Nuclear Power Plants”. But then again, I tend to look at the big picture, not the distractions. And astroturf is still astroturf.

                [yes, indeed, code for capitalist oppressor was a rallying cry against romney. Maybe if he’d stop insulting people pointlessly for no reason, it wouldn’t have stuck so badly].

                In my humble opinion, it’s hard to work with folks who say “veterans benefits are the new welfare”, and who are seething about Acadia being public land.

                Republicans aren’t the problem, but some republican backers are not worthy of being included in civil discourse, as among other things, they despise democracy, and consider themselves above the law.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Please. If it wasn’t AWB, it’d be whatever OTHER measure was introduced.

            I know gun guys like this. ANYTHING is the camel’s nose in the tent. EVERYTHING that involves guns and legislation or regulation is step one in “Seizing all our guns”.

            There’s no point, whatsoever, in talking about “The problem with AWB is gun owners feel it’s Step One in taking all our guns”. Anything involving gun control, no matter how sensible or insane, is going to be cast as that. It’s the gun version of how every Democratic Presidential candidate is suddenly the “most liberal in the country”. (Wasn’t sure how or when Obama supplanted Kerry for that term, but it seemed to be right around when he announced).

            You might as well stick to whether it’s constitutional, or a good idea short or long term, but the hurt feelings of gun owners over it is immaterial. The NRA is primed to scream from the rooftops about anything.

            Speaking of — did you know there’s actually a gun lobby to make silencers more available? (And to remove some onerous tax on them). It’s for the kiddies, according to their PR. Those poor kiddies, whose ears get so hurt when firing guns and are so scared of the loud noises. So silencers should be readily available, for the kids.

            I am not kidding. It’s their pitch.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Out of curiosity, would the legislation you propose be the camel’s nose?

              To jump to the War on Drugs for a second, I supported Medicinal, among other reasons, because I suspected that it would eventually lead to Recreational. However, if someone politely asked me “but you just want to legalize pot, you stupid pothead!”, I would talk about chemotherapy, radiation, and other really awful cancer treatments and how they could be (and are) alleviated by Medicinal.

              As such, I can’t help but wonder if the eventual goal is, in fact, something much further down the road. If that’s the case, calling this the camel’s nose would, in fact, be accurate.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I can’t help but wonder if the eventual goal is…

                This question isn’t asked in good faith, it seems to me. The answer is entailed by your account of gun control advocacy. And even if you deny that you’re account entails a determinate answer, nothing anyone could possibly say would alleviate you’re continued “wondering” about their ultimate aims.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There is one thing that we could do to alleviate my “wondering” about their ultimate aims.

                Say something to the effect of “this legislation should sunset. After it sunsets, we should compare the numbers we care about to the numbers prior, the numbers during, and for a few years after the sunset expires. If the legislation worked, we should keep it. If it didn’t work, we should abandon it.”

                That sort of thing would strike me as being measurable. At the end of the time period, we could look at the numbers and say “This Worked” or “This Did Nothing” or “This Not Only Did Not Work, It Made Things Worse.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So, when the AWB was enacted you didn’t think “look, I might not like this legislation, but one thing I know for sure is that liberal’s ultimate goal here isn’t to take my guns away. It has a sunset provision!”?

                You sure about that JB?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t mind legislation with sunset provisions. I mind legislation with sunset provisions that is not allowed to sunset, of course… but if the legislation can sunset, I’m a big fan. Even for an AWB.

                According to what I’ve said about, now’s the time for the discussion of the numbers prior, the numbers during, and the numbers for a few years after.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Well, it didn’t work, and now it’s back on the table, Stillwater.

                So, uh…Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So, the fact that some people want to reintroduce the AWB suffices for the conclusion that anyone who advocates for a gun related regulation not-so-secretly wants to confiscate all privately owned guns?

                Man, that’s a powerful piece of legislation.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                No, not reasonably.

                However, if you tell me that you want X, and you pass legislation A to get X, and ten years later A sunsets and you find out that you didn’t get X…

                … and now you tell me that you want A again because of X, I have to conclude that either you’re (a) just following along on a partisan cheering march (b) uninformed about the efficacy of A (c) crazy or (d) interested in something other than X.

                The reality of course is that most people who support the idea of a new AWB are probably a large grab bag of those four reasons, not all (d).

                But that doesn’t change the fact that as a signaling behavior, it’s an incredibly stupid move. Feinstein introducing the AWB reinstatement was a colossally bad policy idea, pretty much for the reasons Mark laid out here (this was more or less what I would have written, but Mark writes better than I do).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If they want to reintroduce the legislation without wanting to discuss the numbers prior, the numbers during, and the numbers after?

                At the very least, we can conclude that what they want to do has no relationship to the numbers… right?Report

              • I think the problem is largely that it’s not just “some people” who want to reintroduce the AWB; it’s that the AWB is the main (and at this point, only) piece of legislation that is actually being pushed, and there is virtually no one outside of the League who is pushing other legislation who is not also pushing a reintroduction of the AWB.

                Basically, because the AWB is so non-sensical (and in the ways detailed above), there is a good chance that anyone who is pushing it wants to confiscate or at least ban most guns.

                This is especially problematic when we’re talking about hypothetical registration regimes, which I think very well may have independent merit. The problem is that a registration regime is also an absolute necessity for any ban of any set of guns to be effective. So is the purpose of the registration regime to empower criminal investigations or is it to ensure the effectiveness of at least a partial gun ban? Well, if the people pushing it, with the exception of some folks on this site, are almost all also simultaneously pushing a gun ban….well it’s really hard to conclude that the point of the registration regime is empowering criminal investigations rather than enforcing an outrageous-to-gun owners partial gun ban.

                It’s not just a matter of the AWB proposal creating suspicions about proponents’ intentions, either; the AWB also destroys any credibility AWB proponents have on gun legislation by outing them as people who have no understanding of guns whatsoever.

                Once someone starts advocating for an AWB, they start sounding on gun policy much as global warming denialists sound on environmental policy to climate scientists.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Jaybird and Patrick: JB’s claim above was that he couldn’t help but “wonder” if any restrictions on gun rights were in effect the camel’s nose. The response was that, well, people want to reintroduce the AWB even after it’s been shown to fail to achieve it’s goals, so (therefore) Yes! Every piece of legislation intended to regulate gun access, use, sales, magazine capacity, etc etc is evidence that these policies are intended to culminate in a complete confiscation of citizens private property.

                You guys don’t see a problem there?

                Mark T: Well, if the people pushing it, with the exception of some folks on this site, are almost all also simultaneously pushing a gun ban….

                If that’s true, then it’s news to me. Who’s pushing a gun ban? You said in your comment that the AWB is the only legislation working it’s way thru congress, so no one at the federal seems to be pushing a broader gun ban.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Of course there’s a problem there, Stillwater.

                35% or more of the country flat out believes that every attempt at gun control is part of a greater plan to result in impound of their guns.

                To be fair to this 35% of them, a good amount of the distrust comes from the fact that in California, when the state assault weapons ban went into effect, the state used the gun registry to ensure compliance. So California has contributed greatly to the inimical response to gun registries by doing exactly what pro-gun people thought was the plan all along.

                Do I think this would happen with a national gun registry? No, not with a GOP-controlled House and Heller.

                So clearly, I agree, trust is a problem here. However, this is a two-way street. Some of the commentary on the thread from the Left kind of refuses to acknowledge that the AWB, as presented by Feinstein… is exactly the sort of thing that abuses the already damaged trust relationship.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Patrick, we both agree that trust is a problem here. Maybe I haven’t made my view clear here. It’s that Jaybird’s “wondering” problem was an example of that lack of trust. And you effectively backed him up on that. That is, that the reintroduction of the AWB constitutes irrefutable evidence that the ultimate goal of any regulatory proposal is to confiscate people’s guns. And this from a bill that permits people to retain possession of the specific weapons that fall under the scope of the bill!

                Now, I don’t support the AWB, but I’m not married to a principled opposition to it either. SO when you blast liberals for not rejecting it as an act of good faith, I think it’s because they don’t think it ought to be rejected. But more importantly, you’re basically asking liberals to play politics on this issue. The liberal view is that assault weapons aren’t necessary for self-defense, so there is no basic prima facie right to them. (Or something like that, I think.) People who take a strong reading of the second amendment say they are justified for protection against governmental tyranny. How those rights cash out is what’s at issue, it seems to me.

                But the supposition that liberals who advocate for any regulation whatsoever do so because they ultimately want to confiscate everyone’s guns seems like not only a ridiculous myth (and slightly delusional) but a really blatant example of begging the question.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                That is, that the reintroduction of the AWB constitutes irrefutable evidence that the ultimate goal of any regulatory proposal is to confiscate people’s guns.

                I think that’s a very, very overly strong assessment of Jaybird’s point, and certainly not what I was attempting to back up.

                SO when you blast liberals for not rejecting it as an act of good faith, I think it’s because they don’t think it ought to be rejected.

                Then they’re either crazy, playing partisan politics, mislead as to the efficacy of the original assault weapons ban, or interested in something other than preventing violence. If they’re just misled, okay, that’s fine. That happens. If they’re crazy, that’s to be expected to some degree, too, we can excuse that chunk of the party. If they’re interested in something other than reducing violence, that’s okay, but pony that up to the bar.

                But more importantly, you’re basically asking liberals to play politics on this issue.

                Well, of course. Do they want to get something done? Or do they just want to have a mike in front of a camera so that they can drum up votes among a limited section of their constituency? Isn’t that something that anybody could take issue with? I mean, I harp on the GOP when they do it.

                The liberal view is that assault weapons aren’t necessary for self-defense, so there is no basic prima facie right to them.

                Look, Stillwater, if that’s the other thing that liberals are interested in other than that X, that’s fine.

                But then you’ve got a procedure to follow. You’re going to have to amend the Constitution to get what you want, or you’re going to need a supermajority in both Houses plus a Presidency for the next 16 years to ensure that you can stack the Court to overturn Heller… or you’re going to be dragging this through courts for dozens of years for nothing. You’re going to be alienating potential voters for nothing. You’re going to accomplish nothing in the way of practical policy outcomes that might actually diminish violence. And you’re going to be weakening your political capital which will reduce your ability to get other shit done… that other shit might be something that I actually find kind of cool and stuff.

                You’re letting your political principle that “Americans shouldn’t need guns” get in the way of the oft-stated goal of reducing violence, and reducing your political power, and you’re not even taking the actual path that gets you to the goal!

                This is just like the baloney going on at the state level with the GOP constantly chipping away at abortion, only to find a huge legal fight the whole way. We argued strenuously before the election that this was an unnecessary, unproductive, and illiberal imposition on women’s reproductive rights – something that *isn’t* named in the Constitution – and here we have something that is an unnecessary, unproductive, and illiberal imposition on gun owners right to be armed – something that *is* named in the Constitution.

                Shouldn’t I be giving them shit for it?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Shouldn’t I be giving them shit for it?

                Only on the supposition that they’re chipping away at the second amendment with the ultimate goal of confiscating all guns.

                And if that’s who you’re arguing against, then have at it. But Heller affirmed a second amendment right to possess a handgun for the lawful purpose of self-defense. As far as I can tell, the second amendment was interpreted narrowly, and all the ruling affirmed was the right to possession (of a handgun, for self-defense). It says nothing about various regulations that might or might not be imposed as conditions on possession. Given that, why do you think Heller tells us anything about regulations restricting access to assault weapons?Report

              • @Stillwater: The liberal view is that assault weapons aren’t necessary for self-defense, so there is no basic prima facie right to them. (Or something like that, I think.)

                I realize that you’re not married to an AWB, but the problem with the “liberal view” you identify here is two-fold:

                1. The very term “assault weapon” was basically invented by liberals as a means of selling the ban on particular types of weapons.

                2. No attempt has been made to explain why these “assault weapons” are unnecessary for self-defense in a way that distinguishes them from firearms not so prohibited. The only prohibited characteristic of an “assault weapon” that is even arguably useful for offensive purposes, but not self-defense purposes, is the grenade launcher characteristic, which is itself rendered meaningless because of other (comparatively easy to enforce and effective) restrictions on high explosives.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Only on the supposition that they’re chipping away at the second amendment with the ultimate goal of confiscating all guns.

                I can’t give them hell for it because I think it’s not going to work and its bad law?

                Even if they have honorable intentions (lets say for a minute that I *don’t* agree with the second amendment), if I think this is bad law it’s not okay for me to criticize it?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Mark T:

                1. The very term “assault weapon” was basically invented by liberals as a means of selling the ban on particular types of weapons.

                Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. There are all sorts of constructed concepts that we use to make important distinctions in the world.

                2. No attempt has been made to explain why these “assault weapons” are unnecessary for self-defense in a way that distinguishes them from firearms not so prohibited.

                I’m not sure any definitional account could provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a distinction between an assault weapon and a defensive weapon, since the distinction between them is fluid, contextually determined, pragmatically determined, etc. But the failure to provide a rigorous definition doesn’t impugn the two categories in play. I mean, we could define them much more loosely as “the types of weapons generally used for the following (not exhaustive) type of activities” (followed by lists).

                I can also point to paradigmatic instances in which certain types of weapons are characteristically employed.

                But I also think that your argument above presumes that there is a principled view of what constitutes the “right to bear arms” such that a burden must be met for any policy banning or restricting a specific type of weapon to be legitimate. Tanks? Fully automatic machine guns? F-16s?

                The same logic applies in principle to other weapons. I mean, armor piecing bullets are illegal, and presumably there is a sound argument justifying that provision. Should military grade rifles with 50 round magazines be legal? I think that’s an open question (obvs). But I think it’s open because we’ve already employed the exact same type of argument (ie., does it meet the burden of justification given the weapons potential purposes?) wrt other weapons.Report

              • @Stillwater:

                There are all sorts of constructed concepts that we use to make important distinctions in the world.

                Absolutely – but then we’re back to pointing out that this particular term does not actually make any important distinctions, at least not if the goal is to reduce gun violence.

                I’m not sure any definitional account could provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a distinction between an assault weapon and a defensive weapon, since the distinction between them is fluid, contextually determined, pragmatically determined, etc. But the failure to provide a rigorous definition doesn’t impugn the two categories in play. I mean, we could define them much more loosely as “the types of weapons generally used for the following (not exhaustive) type of activities” (followed by lists).

                Sure, but the problem is that the AWB doesn’t even attempt to use factors that would draw a line within that fluid boundary; by contrast, a ban on high cap magazines makes exactly such an attempt. The difference in utility between a firearm possessing the prohibited characteristics and one without those characteristics isn’t merely negligible, it’s non-existent; the difference in utility between a low-cap magazine and a high-cap magazine may or may not be negligible, but it’s at least a difference.

                The factors pointed to in defining an “assault weapon” are entirely arbitrary and at best show a complete and utter ignorance of how guns work and are used.

                But I also think that your argument above presumes that there is a principled view of what constitutes the “right to bear arms” such that a burden must be met for any policy banning or restricting a specific type of weapon to be legitimate. Tanks? Fully automatic machine guns? F-16s?

                In this case, I make no such assumptions – there’s a reason, after all, that I was able to make the relevant points without once referencing the 2nd Amendment or, for that matter, even gun owners’ “rights.” Instead, the point is just that arguments for renewal of the AWB are totally incoherent and lacking in any kind of recognition of how firearms function or can be used. My argument has nothing to do with rights – to the contrary, I am increasingly of the view that rights-based arguments on this issue are often used inconsistently as a means of avoiding discussion on the real issues. Instead, my argument is simply based on the assumption that a reduction in gun violence is not possible without the acquiescence of people who already own firearms, who will quite rightly never be willing to provide such acquiescence as long as it appears that attempts to restrict their ownership interests are arbitrary and without any kind of rational basis, serving only to antagonize them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                That is, that the reintroduction of the AWB constitutes irrefutable evidence that the ultimate goal of any regulatory proposal is to confiscate people’s guns.

                I wouldn’t say that it’s irrefutable evidence that the ultimate goal of any regulatory proposal is to confiscate people’s guns… but I will say that it’s irrefutable evidence that the ultimate goal of this particular regulatory proposal has little, if anything, to do with its stated purpose.

                We’re going back to “this legislation should sunset. After it sunsets, we should compare the numbers we care about to the numbers prior, the numbers during, and for a few years after the sunset expires. If the legislation worked, we should keep it. If it didn’t work, we should abandon it.”

                What numbers do we care about?

                What did the numbers that we care about do under the AWB? Before the AWB? After the AWB?

                Because, it seems to me, that ideally, the numbers we’re looking at will be relatively high before the ban, drop dramatically after the ban, then go up (either slightly or dramatically, whichever) after the ban ends.

                If the numbers don’t do that? Then, I propose that the ban didn’t do what we were told that it would do… and if the ban didn’t do what we were told that it would do, then it’s fair to ask why we’re going to pass it again. I’d also say that, at that point, speculation about the reasons becomes fair game. Or, I suppose, speculation about fact-impervious ideologies being at play.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Pushing for a new AWB seems to be a textbook case of “something must be done. This is something” thinking. Sure, it might not accomplish what we would like it to accomplish, but it’s a lot easier to push in Congress and something that would actually work probably can’t pass. And we’re already passed this once, so it doesn’t feel too radical…let’s do it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Or, I suppose, speculation about fact-impervious ideologies being at play.

                Rather, the attribution of fact impervious ideologies come into play with the added bonus that the your attribution of them to others is also fact impervious. {{Liberals are always speaking in code, aren’t they? Even the laws they advocate for are code!}}

                Small point, yes. But important it seems to me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I have no problem with speculation about me taking place so long as we do so *AFTER* we look at the claims folks made about what the numbers would do and then look at what the numbers actually did and then do a comparison.

                After we do that, we can speculate about what goals I must secretly have. All day.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Is there a name for a bird that Dodges?

                Since I know you’re a bright guy, I can only assume you’re willfully missing the point. But whatever. I tried.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I have to say, I find the argument in both cases to be irrelevant and a purposeful dodge. The point at hand is either a valid one or not; the proposed idea is a good one or not. The deepest motivations of the person you are speaking with are only relevant to the person you are speaking with.

                Or to put it another way, “You probably just want to have sex with animals!” is not actually an argument against SSM, it’s just something some people use when they’re feeling like they might be losing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t know that it’s a purposeful dodge, necessarily. Please understand: I’m not saying that I think that people who wish to ban guns are anywhere near as wicked or vile as those who wish to argue against SSM. I believe that they have the best of intentions, probably.

                In any case, while I may, personally, see a full weapons ban excepting for Police/Military as immoral, I’m willing to put that aside and just see it as a value-neutral position upon which reasonable people can disagree.

                As such, if a particular policy is going to be a “this is actually the first step of seven policies”, I find that I’d like to know what two through seven are.

                Now, of course, perhaps there is no “ultimate goal” and the main focus will be upon making sure that there are no 10 bullet magazines anymore and only 8 bullet magazines available (or whatever policy). Sure.

                If, however, there is an ultimate goal? I’d like to see at least someone raise their hand for that. I mean, I know how well the argument worked for me with regards to Medicinal.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Please, the legislation I’d propose would cause seizures and possibly deaths from apolexy at the NRA. 🙂

                What’s likely to get passed? The only people it would even marginally affect are the idiots who think their collection of civilian knock-offs would actually stop the government if they were serious about coming in the door.

                Out of, oh, twenty or thirty gun-owners whose collections I actually know — I can think of exactly zero guns that would fall under any legislation that has greater than a 1% chance of passing. That’s because it’s all hunting legal shotguns (which have a maximum magazine capacity. At least that’s what I vaguely recall being told as to why his shotgun only held a certain number of shells), hunting rifles, and handguns.

                They use their guns to hunt or for target shooting. None of them have fantasies about being soldiers. (Those that did, joined up. And apparently lost the fantasy of being the big action hero with the blazing guns).Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                *snort* am I the only one who knows someone whose grandpa had an AK-47 in the basement?Report

              • Avatar Michael says:

                You must have some deeply ingrained biases that give that statement meaning to you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you should realize that not everyone (in fact, probably most) do not share those biases, so statements like this can only lead to pointless arguments or just being written off as ignorant.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                No, it’s an honest question. I’m asking for anecdotal evidence, sure, but we’ve got a lot of folks around here.
                the fact is, I did know one person like that.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Please, the legislation I’d propose would cause seizures and possibly deaths from apolexy at the NRA. 🙂

                Write a post for the Symposium and submit it to Tod.

                I’d like to see what you come up with.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I’d considered it, but honestly my personal views lack rigor on the subject. They’re entirely anecdotal.

                I know responsible gun owners personally. I know irresponsible ones at a remove (as in I know them, are not friends with them, but frankly get first hand accounts of their shenagians. Some of them are simply relatives of mine whom my family doesn’t get along with, and thus avoids) — I’ve spoken to them, heard stories from and about them, and certainly have a feeling for their outlooks.

                But only anecdotally.

                I know what I consider ‘safe, responsible’ gun owners want, have and do. I know want those I consider dangerous want, have and do.

                The only overlap between the two involves handguns, where I’m iffy at what to do. (Although concealed carry is a ludicrous idea).

                But like I said — it’s personal experience. Not exactly convincing, you know?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Oh, and my eventual goal? Forcing gun owners to be responsible for their guns (storage, transport, security, use). Denying civilians military weapons. Removing concealed carry for anyone but law enforcement or those who can convince locals, state, and feds they need one.

                And maybe restricting civilian use of handguns to target ranges. That one is iffy. I go back and forth.

                I have no plan, desire, or urge to outlaw hunting rifles or shotguns. Even if Sandy Hook had happened with a hunting rifle or a shotgun I would not. (I would again look at the current requirements to own one to see how someone obviously mentally ill had gotten his hands on one).Report

              • Avatar Michael says:

                The guns were his mother’s, and he killed her with them. She was what I consider to be an irresponsible gun owner. She should have had all of the guns not currently in use for protection or being prepared for a hunting trip or range visit locked in a safe with the ammunition. If she had, she may still have been killed by her son, but he would not have been able to carry out the massacre.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I don’t know that you have enough information to make this judgment at this point.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

              Morat – it’s no different than when pro-life folks like myself talk about banning second and third trimester abortions. I really want to see them ban abortions for non-health reasons too, but you have to start somewhere. Gun owners are justified in believing many would use the AWB as an opening salvo. Even better, when it doesn’t work (it won’t) then they can argue for a deeper ban in 5-10 years.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                So, just let me get this straight: The argument is: “We oppose passing a law — by the usual democratic process — because later, you might pass ANOTHER law”.

                That’s effing stupid.

                Doubly so as the AWB was passed and…not only went no further, it expired for a decade. So it’s both stupid and empiracally wrong.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Morat – No, let me be clear here: The problem with the AWB is that it’s simply bad legislation that will not fix the thing it hopes to fix. It’s arbitrary and poorly thought out and already proven not to work.

                What I was talking about is why gun owners distrust AWB proponents in general. Consider it a compliment because that means we are assuming you know the AWB is a turd and you’re working with the political angle longterm. If you actually think it’s a good idea on its own merits, well as you said, that’s effing stupid.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                And my point is the NRA would distrust anything any Democrat did, including a free gun giveaway, as some sort of plot to seize their guns.Report

              • Sure, but the NRA =/= all gun owners.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Morat – The NRA has proven to be just as much a part of the problem as the other side. They really hardened their stance after the first AWB. The speech given by LaPierre proved that. And yes, they spend millions on lobbying. But IMO there are a lot of gun owners who are willing to consider a more nuanced gun policy.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Just not one that would entail guns being regulated similarly to cars? The fact that licensing and insurance are controversial is a sign of just how extreme this debate is.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I know a gun-owner — Big Second Amendment guy.

                The mere THOUGHT that he should register his firearms with the government — the way he does his car? He goes into a FROTHING RAGE.

                And then immediately claims it’s “historically the first step to total confiscation”.

                He is the poster child for the NRA. He has drunk their kool-aid, he gives to them, and however much you claim “the NRA is part of the problem” — the NRA is the face of the American gun owner, no matter how bad that makes the American gun owner look.

                If they don’t like it, maybe they should change it.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                If the “moderate” gun owners want to be seen as the face of gun ownership instead of the “I’ve got an AR-15 to take down Obama’s Stormtroopers folks”, then organize yourself. Because Congressment in swing state districts are scared of the NRA’s money. They’re not scared of you.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Kos had a post up about a new gun-rights organization, that isn’t nearly as crazy as the NRA. People contribute.

                It’s like Jstreet versus AIPAC.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

                Wait, didn’t you threaten to edit my comments -on account of being off topic- for bringing up the analogy between abortion and gun control in another thread?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


              Silencers actually have one legitimate use, and you just described it. As an incredulous example of silly gun lobbying..Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Silencers have only one use: To muffle the sound of a gunshot.

                Legitimate shooters wear something called “ear protection” or “ear plugs” which come in kids sizes and are far, far cheaper than a silencer. (And also, more effective at protecting the kids ears, because it will protect them from every gunshot noise! Unlike the silencer, which can only be affixed to one gun at a time and wears out). Those things protect against the sound of every gunshot, whether handgun or rifle or shotgun!

                People who want silencers don’t want them to protect their kids ears.

                And you know it.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Go watch a video of a suppressed gunshot on YouTube. They’re easy to find.

                The drop in decibel amount is not going to enable you to run around in a building and shoot people without someone knowing that somebody is running around the building, shooting people. Silencers don’t silence anything.Report

              • Avatar Fnord says:

                A silencer, on the other hand, protects everyone around, not just the guy wearing the ear protection. And it doesn’t muffle sounds other than the gunshot itself (because, you know, being aware of what’s going on around you might be important when you’re using something that could kill someone).

                And, at that, silencers and ear protection aren’t mutually exclusive.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Actually, they want them to protect their ears, and to reduce the local noise pollution (so the neighbors stop being angry they moved in next to a gun range).

                Suppressors will drop a 160dB gunshot to 130-145dB. That’s it.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                *eyeroll* Where do they shoot? I’ve only shot at ranges, quarries, or so far out in the hicks the nearest neighbor is miles away.

                To which: You should be wearing ear protection covers ranges (because who gives a fart if you have a silencer, no one else does), and no one is around to complain at the other two.

                Hell, Houston isn’t exactly known for it’s zoning laws and I can’t think of any ranges within a reasonable distance of homes, apartments, or otherwise.

                Nobody needs a silencer. People only want it because they secretly want to be spies, action heroes, or whatnot.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Given that possession of a silencer does not make you into a spy, or an action hero, or give you any capabilities to be nefarious that you don’t already have by possession of the actual gun, what is the point in banning them?Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Houston doesn’t have gun ranges around people? According to Google Maps, I got this:


                Looks like they are indoor but still well inside the populated areas.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Sorry, I meant “outdoors” ones. The indoor ranges are quite well muffled, at least the ones I’ve been to. Certainly not loud enough to hear over, say, daily traffic.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                In WA state, especially near Seattle (where I live), numerous outdoor ranges, ones that have been around for decades, suddenly find themselves surrounded by residential communities, who are now all upset that ranges are, you know, noisy. These residents then push to get the range closed down (see here). The easy availability of suppressors would help reduce the noise pollution.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Fine, gun ranges and only gun ranges can buy suppressors and if they’re found off the gun ranges property without the gun range reporting them stolen, the gun range is liable for all damage done + a 10,000 dollar fine.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It sucks that the concept of “coming to a nuisance” is quietly disappearing from our culture.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Funny thing is, suppressors are legal in many parts of Europe, specifically so people can shoot without waking the neighbors. Seems they never bought into the Hollywood created hysteria of suppressors making silent kills possible.Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    Thanks, Mike. I don’t pretend to know the solutions to gun violence. I believe in the 2nd, including the part that says, “well regulated,” and we’ve definitely missed the boat there. Essentially, we’re trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Heaven help us.

    Although there were several reasons for this, the most common and important was that the ban targeted features of firearms that were either common to the overwhelming majority of firearms (semi-automatic and capable of accepting detachable magazines) or had nothing whatsoever to do with the firearm’s potential to cause harm (the elements of the “two feature” test).

    This jumped out at me for two reasons. The first is that the guns everyone seems to purchase of late are the guns you’re describing here, they’re not my Grandfather’s hunting rifle or shotgun. It’s really essential for folk to have a discussion about the differences here, not in guns, so much, but in the way marketers have rebranded military for civilian. This is as much about marketing as anything, and needs to be viewed through that lens.

    But the second is this bit: had nothing whatsoever to do with the firearm’s potential to cause harm . Reality check here: all guns fit this criteria. There is no such thing as a safe gun, a gun that doesn’t have the potential to cause harm. That needs to be part of the conversation, too. I so often hear gun owners make fun of the unarmed, panicking and uninformed. Well, the unarmed get the danger of 100% of guns, and gun owners do the conversation not good by belittling and mocking instead of acknowledging.

    The simple, undeniable reality of the problem of gun violence is that any solution, to have any chance of working, must have at least the acquiescence of the tens of millions of gun owners in this country. What’s more, to succeed, it also needs real input from those owners on how firearms are actually used and actually work; otherwise, it might as well be an attempt to regulate a barely understood planet.

    I agree with this. The bolding is to emphasize something: for unarmed citizens, there feels something of a threat. Either gun owners buy into a solution to gun violence or else. That pretty much sucks. I am not armed. But I have the right to defend myself. There are, from my perspective, other methods then lethal force.

    You focus on ‘what.’ What guns. There’s no mention of Who. We need to talk about who, too. We’re looking at something like 21% of households hijacking the rights of the rest here, also. Most particularly the unarmed right to defend yourself, it does not rely on the aid of a gun. One way for the unarmed to defend ourselves — the ballot box — feels threatened; potentially meeting armed resistance. Then it’s not a conversation; it’s a protection racket. Nice country you got here, hate to see anything happen to it.

    Yes, gun owners need to be part of the solution. I hope they’ll start there; that unspoken threat from some of them that’s hanging over the rest of us.Report

    • Avatar Just Me says:

      Just wanted to point out I don’t own a gun and I don’t feel like the 21% are hijacking my rights. In fact they are exercising a right that we all have. I just shake my head every time I hear we must take away rights in order to have them. Very confusing. I always thought a right was something we as individuals chose to exercise. If I choose to not buy a gun I still have the same right as the person who does buy a gun. Nor do I feel that if I decide to protect myself by using my mouth or feet that the other guy having a gun somehow takes that “right” away from me. Personally I would rather be shot then beaten. That is beside the point though.Report

      • Avatar Just Me says:

        Ok, shot than beaten. NOT shot and then beaten!Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        No, but it does make it far more likely that you’ll wind up bleeding when you try to exercise your right to self-defense.Report

        • Avatar Just Me says:

          I’ve seen a few beat downs, there is a pretty good chance at bleeding from them. I have also seen how bad a shot most people are. That is why these guys bring so many bullets, not because they are going to shoot 100 people, because it probably takes 100 bullets to kill 10 people. Most folks aren’t one shot killers, they are usually multiple shot killers. If you add a moving target to that equation, I am probably better able to defend myself with my feet from a person trying to gun me down than I am from someone who is gonna run after me to keep beating me. (Unless the person with the gun is only shooting at point blank range).Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            If you add a moving target to that equation, I am probably better able to defend myself with my feet from a person trying to gun me down than I am from someone who is gonna run after me to keep beating me.



            • Avatar Just Me says:

              Ok, I admit I’m not sure what that means…but let me clarify. When I say feet and mouth I mean that I think my best defense in situations is to either talk my way out of a bad situation or by running away. Since I can’t run very fast it wouldn’t be too hard for the bad person to catch me and beat me up. I’m less certain that if run and keep things between me and the shooter that that person is actually going to hit me when he shoots.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        This week, my school board will discuss increased security in the wake of Sandy Hook. Our local movie theater closed, a drop in attendance after Aurora combined with the cost of upgrading from film to digital formats made continued operation impossible. The owner told me that without the drop, it might have been possible, with it, it was out of the question.

        The right to liberty — to not have to worry about safety — the right to feel safe without being armed is the right I’m discussing. In fact, there’s long been a movement, a marketing movement, to suggest we’re not safe without a gun, as if it’s a magic spell that will protect us from harm.

        I’ve never advocated for banning guns. I am, strongly, advocating a conversation that’s not only about what guns, but about why and who; I’m advocating for research, and advocating that ‘well regulated’ is part of the equation; as with cars, I’d see required training, registration, and insurance.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yeah, damn those folks who show up armed at the ballot box, harassing legal voters.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        That’s actually a pretty good illustration of my first point, the belittling the unarmed get from gun owners.

        All that talk about ‘exercising our second-amendment rights’ was just talk, ehh? No threat implied?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          to be clear: I was referring to the Minutemen, who have been recorded as harassing voters at the ballot booth.Report

          • Avatar Just Me says:

            So they openly carried a weapon inside a building where voting was taking place?Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              They stood outside and harassed hispanic voters. I’m certain kos has the pics.Report

              • Avatar Just Me says:

                Ahh, so outside the polling place not at the ballot booth. I was just a little shocked that any precinct in the United States allowed open gun carrying inside during voting.

                So like the Black Panthers, Minuetmen carried legal weapons that some took as intimidation and others as somehow being helpful.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                unlike the one weird black panther guy, the minutemen were asking for identification and other things that people weren’t required to give to private citizens.
                (also, I may be wrong, but I think the black panther guy might have been an actual pollwatcher. and wasn’t actually filmed harassing people — very big difference between “publically carrying uniform and gun” and “getting up in your face and demanding shit” while carrying the same.)Report

    • Avatar Citizen says:

      Ownership of guns for many is due to the ballot box having no real stopping power. When the state looks to take your freedom, what is your PLAN B? Isn’t it curious we see more police in black garb with black rifles, then public is arming more with black rifles. It is no stretch for me to see individuals going to war against society in military fashion. A reap what you sew thing.

      Law and military should be a non-facist homeland presence. Or for that matter global presence? Nothing will change until we decouple the black gunned enforcers from the political will and means of the state. If that could happen there may be some meaningful draw down.

      I know in Texas the blacked gun fed enforces will be met with black guns, its damn near a creed.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        When the state looks to take your freedom, what is your PLAN B? Isn’t it curious we see more police in black garb with black rifles, then public is arming more with black rifles. It is no stretch for me to see individuals going to war against society in military fashion. A reap what you sew thing.

        Irony abounds here. For it seems to me that it’s the big tough-on-crime states that also have the biggest rates of gun weirdness. And that the advocacy for getting tough on crime and 2nd amendment rights are pretty much the same group of people. And neither tracks all that well with the places where there’s significant gun violence on a regular basis — places like Oakland or Chicago, for instance.

        More then a little cognitive dissonance for me; I’m happy if someone can explain why my perception is wrong.Report

        • Avatar Citizen says:

          Gun weirdness is a golden AK-47. Is it the guns creating the wars, or are the wars creating the guns? Plenty of people died from spears, even gold ones.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          I am always astounded to talk to some of the (white) gun-nut members of the Tea Party groups.

          When you get right down to it, and you hear them talk? The ones that are the worst, the ones who imagine needing the gun to “defend themselves” or their homes, almost always seem to imagine it being from someone who doesn’t look like them. They talk about uprisings of blacks from the inner city, spilling out like zombie hordes into the suburbs in some strange rants that sound Charles Manson-level (“helter skelter”) insane.

          They talk about needing it for protection from “illegal gangs”, by which I must assume they mean people who look latino or speak spanish that they don’t like in their neighborhoods.

          They talk about not having “enough” police presence in their neighborhoods. And in a strange twist of logic, their proposed solution to inadequately staffed or funded police dep isn’t to pay a bit more in taxes in order to hire more police and get police where they are actually active in the neighborhoods instead of mostly operating speed traps and trolling for tickets, it’s for the “empowered citizen” to have a gun and shoot anyone that looks at them crosswise.

          The discussions I have with some of these people really, really concern me.Report

          • Avatar Citizen says:

            What concerns me is how quick to label, and easily astounded some folks are.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              It’s not “quick to label” when people actually announce to the cops “I shot a “. And then invoke stand your ground to excuse shooting a neighbor on the shooter’s doorstepReport

    • Avatar ian351c says:


      I am trying to understand the motivations behind your positions as expressed in your post. I would like to explore this further because I suspect that many people have this same point of view: they feel threatened by guns. Why is it that you feel this way?

      I would also like to address a few points from your post:

      “There is no such thing as a safe gun, a gun that doesn’t have the potential to cause harm.” There is also no such thing as a car, or a knife, or a baseball bat that doesn’t have the potential to cause harm. What makes guns special in this context?

      “We’re looking at something like 21% of households hijacking the rights of the rest here, also. Most particularly the unarmed right to defend yourself, it does not rely on the aid of a gun.” Would you not feel that your rights were being abridged if I were to threaten you with a knife or an axe instead? Again, what makes guns special in this context?

      The overall impression I get from your post is that your feel threatened and powerless in the face of a culture that embraces the possession of guns by the civilian population and that the, shall we say, “immaturity level” of the gun owners you have talked to does nothing to dissuade you of these feelings. Am I on the right track here? I’m also curious as to your personal experience with guns. Have you ever taken a class or gone to a range with an instructor?

      I think this is important to discuss because many people who vote won’t really be persuaded by statistics or logic but will vote with their feelings (I’m making no judgements here, we all make decisions with incomplete information, and must trust our feelings on a great range of issues). Many times these feelings will not be informed by education or experience. In the case of economics, foreign policy and many other things we vote about (or are at least part of a party platform) it is hard to have first hand experience and we have to trust the judgement of others. But, when it comes to guns, I think it is simple enough to go out for a couple hours and, for less than $50, get a pretty good education on what guns (and gun owners) are really like.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        The overall impression I get from your post is that your feel threatened and powerless in the face of a culture that embraces the possession of guns by the civilian population and that the, shall we say, “immaturity level” of the gun owners you have talked to does nothing to dissuade you of these feelings. Am I on the right track here? I’m also curious as to your personal experience with guns. Have you ever taken a class or gone to a range with an instructor?

        #1 reason to own a gun now is self protection. I fear those fools mightily.

        Guns have no other purpose then to shoot projectiles with lethal force; any other allure is one humans imbue it with. I hunted; shot my first whitetail when I was 12. I’ve many friends who compete in triathlons; I’ve known Maine Guides who offer professional guide services to hunters my entire life. Friends who do search and rescue, and have pulled bodies out of the woods after hunting accidents. I spoken with hundreds of active-duty and former military, including sharp shooters, in writing about the military for various magazines.

        I’d say each and every one of those people are responsible gun owners. And I cannot, for the life of me, think of a single one who would suggest they wanted or needed a gun to protect themselves; in fact they’d all freely admit their lives and their loved-ones lives are more endangered because there’s a gun around.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Shortest way to tell who should be allowed a gun: Keep a loaded gun in your nightstand? No.

          Keep an unloaded one in your gun safe? Yes.

          Because the latter understands what a gun is, and the former does not. The former needs a dog and an alarm system. Will do far more for security than a gun, also you can’t shoot your kid with a dog.Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            Shortest way to tell who should be allowed a gun: Keep a loaded gun in your nightstand? No.

            Keep an unloaded one in your gun safe? Yes.

            Worth my weight in gold.


        • Avatar ian351c says:

          It sounds like I may have misread your original post then. Are you talking more about the marketing of guns as an empowerment tool that makes people invulnerable (and the subsequent threat that people that buy into this marketing represent) more than the threat that the guns themselves represent, even in the hands of responsible gun owners? I would agree that the mere presence of a gun in one’s house carries some risk, but responsible gun ownership should entail the minimizing of that risk. This same logic would be applied to anything from golf clubs to off road vehicles. It is also a point that, if handled responsibly, the pleasure derived from a gun can far outweigh the risks entailed in its possession. Would you agree?Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            ian357c, I grew up being stalked by a pedophile, I’ve spoken of it frequently here. I learned about fear very early on.

            Right now, we live in a nation where we are often set one against another with fear because there’s a profit motive to it.

            Perhaps, rather then banning guns, we should ban gun advertising.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              You mean the summer blockbuster movie season?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Actually, no.

                Unless someone’s already really, really unstable, we know a movie’s fiction. And fictional experiences help us prepare for facing tough things in real life.

                I’m guessing one of the strange things we might be experiencing culturally right now is the cleansing of children’s stories; and if I’m right about your age (mid 30’s?) your at the beginning of it. Left kids unprepared when they were small. But I’m kinda weird that way; I believe in the power of story. Think that’s why we’ve got so many — particularly of the religious variety — that keep a grip on us.

                No, I mean advertising; like the man-card.Report

  3. Avatar aaron david says:

    Excellent article Mark. The only thing that I would add is a minor thing, in that like the flash hider, detachable magazines are a safety feature, as they allow you to unload the firearm in the safest manor.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Bridges says:

        Actually, I’m less sure about this. Removing the magazine doesn’t necessarily prove that the gun is empty, and can just provide the illusion that it is. How many accidental discharges come from semi-automatic guns where people have pulled the magazine but there’s still a round in the chamber?Report

  4. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    Mark, really nice piece. Thanks for kicking off our symposium with some analytical rigor.

    To tie this topic into your previous piece and what’s been going on in terms of hurricane relief legislation: do you think what we’re seeing now with Team Red obstruction to hurricane relief is tit-for-tat in response to Team Blue’s gun control drum circles? And if not, why wouldn’t that be a political certainty in the weeks and months to come? Do you think that the quality of relief allowed by the House is ultimately going to depend on the Dems caving to gun owners?Report

  5. Avatar Tom says:

    The main argument against restrictions on magazine capacity is, in my mind, more about morality than anything else. A 10-round maximum implies that it’s somehow less offensive to kill 10 people rather than 11 (assuming that every round fired is lethal). That must lead to even lower capacities for magazines, until we end up with single-shot firearms that are locked up with local authorities and ammunition that is rationed sparingly and at great cost. I would prefer if people advocating things like “assault weapons” bans or magazine capacity restrictions had the courage to call for outlawing all firearm ownership, sales and manufacturing.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      The problem is, that would be an absolute bitch to enforce, and would likely create problems similar to the War on Drugs, especially if implemented all at once. Otherwise, sign me up. In the interim, less invasive methods are called for.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        We can enforce gun regulations, even gun bans, without using prison time as an incentive to comply. The main problem with the war on drugs is the cost (to the prisoners, to the state’s finances, and to the communities the prisoners come from) of putting them in jail.

        Use tax penalties and fines -and community service- for most non-compliance and offer tax incentives and rewards for compliance (buy backs of non-conforming weapons, free licenses until a certain date, etc.) at least for some years. Reserve jail time for large-scale sellers who violate the law regularly and for cases where there is a clear intent use weapons in crime or terrorism.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      As a gun owner I respectfully disagree with your assesment. High-capacity magazines DO lead to more deaths in ‘spray-and-pray’ scenarios. Drive-bys, mass shootings, etc. I think there’s a legitimate cause for at least examining the issue and it strikes me as rationale and not part of the AWB gun grab certain politicians would like to see.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        But let’s be real, mass shootings account for a small fraction of all firearm deaths. According to Mother Jones, there have been 513 deaths in mass shootings since 1982 (defined as shootings with 4 or more deaths). Meanwhile, there have been over 8,000 homicides by firearm in any given year in the same period (source). That’s not even counting suicides, which are also over 10K per year.

        Mass shootings are a marginal phenomenon. If we want to seriously decrease gun violence, we need to focus on single-victim shootings and suicides, neither of which will be affected by clip size requirements.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Mike’s got a point about drivebys, though, and you’re ignoring it.
          Ever seen a playground get shot up by someone in a car?Report

        • There’s a big difference between single-victim shootings and single-shot shootings, though.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            Mike’s statement was that higher clip sizes lead to more deaths, i.e. definitionally not single-victim incidents. And that’s not even counting suicides. I’m still not convinced that clip size is a factor at all in the number of gun deaths.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              I’m still not convinced that clip size is a factor at all in the number of gun deaths.

              How would you argue for this, given the evidence?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                To clarify: you say you’re not convinced that magazine capacity is a factor in in gun-related deaths even tho you concede upthread that mass-killings are a real phenomenon. What is the argument that magazine capacity isn’t a factor in mass killings?Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                I think I overspoke there. There are individual cases where magazine size is a factor, no doubt. But I don’t think that those cases are a significant fraction of gun deaths, and therefore don’t believe that limiting mag capacity will have any sizeable impact on the number of gun deaths.Report

            • Not true – a “spray and pray” scenario is what would characterize your typical single-victim drive-by.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Do you know of a good source to find the number of drive-bys? (Not meaning to be snarky, honest question). I’ve been looking around and haven’t found one. I don’t think that they’re very common–my instinct is that most shootings take place in the home or proximal to it–but I could be wrong and it’d be interesting.Report

              • Unfortunately, I do not know of such a source, though I’d say that they surely account for a significant portion of gang-related gun violence. It’s worth emphasizing, though, that I think a high-cap mag ban would only have an effect on the margins – we’re not talking about a huge reduction in gun violence here.

                The point is that it would at least save some lives and, more importantly, dropping its relationship to the AWB would create a jumping off point for an actual dialogue on gun violence.Report

              • Avatar Tom says:

                I read an article today about homicides in Baltimore. I apologize that I can’t insert a URL, but it should be relatively easy to find. What police are seeing is a majority of gun homicides having wounds to the head, suggesting executions in gang-on-gang violence. No large cap mag needed.

                The suggestion that an AWB or other new gun control law would save “some” lives isn’t much of an argument. There are a lot of things that would save many lives, such as overturning the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments and requiring not just registration of firearms, but registrations of our own persons. It wouldn’t take much to turn every cell phone into a tracking device allowing police to see who was in the area of a dead body at a certain time. No, I’m not a conspiracist. And if you’ve done nothing wrong, what have you got to hide?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                cell phones are already tracking devices. (why mine is almost never on.)

                Would you be in favor of legalizing drugs?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Depends. A lot of gun violence takes place in the context of “enforcement”, and shadow government. That’s where you see drivebys — someone in the wrong place, beign told to get the fuck out. Or someone you hate, yadda yadda.Report

              • Avatar Tom says:

                I am absolutely in favor of legalizing drugs. I believe that would not only reduce much of the violence — gun or otherwise — that we see, but would also save us a boatload of money, de-militarize our police, and reduce poverty by eliminating criminal records that often prevent employment.Report

              • Avatar Jay says:

                Legalize drugs, Really? Have you seen what someone one meth is capable of? Wouldn’t this be analogous to legalizing all guns which you are certainly opposed to?Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


                Not even close.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          For some reason, including “suicides” under the umbrella of “gun crime” strikes me as a shenanigan.

          It’d be like discussing how important the need for changing our approach to the War On Drugs would be in light of the number of people committing suicide using barbiturates and alcohol.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I don’t think it’s shenanigans – it strikes me as a very real and valid topic. But it ought to be carefully distinguished from another type of gun violence, which is violence committed against others.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              I would hazard a guess that any blanket attempt to reduce gun-related deaths that included suicide as one of the target behaviors to be addressed is going to either be unnecessarily broad or fold part of our mental health policy into a social structure policy.

              I’m pretty sure this is a really bad idea.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko says:

            It seems to me that gun control legislation is more likely to be successful at reducing the number of accidental deaths and suicides than homicides, so I don’t see this as an unreasonable inclusion at all. While homicides are a bigger problem, there are still a lot of accidental deaths and suicides involving firearms, so it’s something that we would like to do something about.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              This is a fair point, but you need to keep in mind how you’re aligning things.

              For people who do own guns for self-defense, legislation that would reduce access to the firearm in ready-to-use mode reduces the possibility that you can use it for self-defense (note: I think self-defense is largely a non-credible gun use, but it’s a legitimate one, legally).

              For suicide prevention, you pretty much need to reduce access to a firearm in ready-to-use mode.

              I’m also fairly dubious that this will work much. For the same reason I laid out here and here.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                I agree that there’s a means-ends disconnect here; I was just objecting to the notion that suicide or accident prevention is somehow an inappropriate or irrelevant consideration when we talk about gun control. Still, it seems like trigger locks (or, if we’re feeling sci-fi, guns like the one in Skyfall that will only fire if the ‘right’ person is squeezing the trigger) will at least reduce the number of children hurt or killed in gun accidents without doing too much to scare gun owners, and you could get an incremental benefit even if you grandfather in all existing firearms.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                This is a valid point.

                I don’t think it’s unreasonable to require that gun owners maintain their firearms in spaces that are inaccessible to casual visitors to their home. Hiding a loaded gun in your bedside table and inviting curious kids into your house is a really bad idea.

                Trigger locks or keeping the loaded gun locked up in a gun safe or keeping the unloaded gun around and the ammunition locked up are all reasonable safety precautions.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Question: Do we have to solve 100% of the problem all at once and instantly?

          Or are we allowed to propose regulations, law changes or acts that work long-term or only address parts of the problem?

          Because whenever legislation is proposed, discussed, or debated it always seems to boil down to “That won’t solve all gun problems instantly. Also, people can still knife each other” with a side order of “And lots more kids drown in pools and you don’t get upset about that, hypocrite”.

          Me? I mean, mass shootings are awful but I accept that any fixes will be slow, incremental, and take time to filter through. Even my dream legislation doesn’t come close to confiscating all the guns, although it certainly makes owning them — especially handguns — take a lot more effort.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


            But if you’re proposing something as a “this might make things better” type of proposal, you kind of need to lay three things down:

            (1) what you’re trying to make better
            (2) what you’re giving up to make things better
            (3) at which point in the future you’re going to compare 1 & 2 then to 1 & 2 now and decide whether or not it worked

            And then, in the future, when it doesn’t work, you need to admit it didn’t work. Or, if it does work, you can say, “Hey, this worked!”

            And then it also kind of lands on you to be ruthlessly honest about the stuff you tried that didn’t work and not try to do it again. See: topic of the OP.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I would prefer if people advocating things like “assault weapons” bans or magazine capacity restrictions had the courage to call for outlawing all firearm ownership, sales and manufacturing.

      You might prefer it, but it would be contrary to fact, I think.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        That’s case in point: ANY gun control regulation is further proof that liberals want to take all your guns away.

        Arguing that you don’t means you’re just lying about it.

        Remember gun sales spiking when Obama was elected? Even though he’d never said a word about guns, and not a single piece of legislation over guns went anywhere during his first term? (or was even proposed by anyone?).

        The “knew” he was coming for their guns. And when he didn’t, it was proof of how sneaky he was that he was waiting until his second term to lull them into a false state of security.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          You know, Morat, this objection is pretty much the objection that I have about the reinstatement of the AWB.

          People “know” it’s going to reduce violence. They’re sure it’s going to work. The fact that it didn’t work before and has no particular evidence to support it working again is just proof that it didn’t go far enough last time. Arguments that it didn’t work based on an analysis of the actual policy are really just hidden attempts to take all discussion about gun control off the table, or hysterical responses that are embedded in a secret fear about gun impounds in the future.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            I want the AWB back in place solely because I think the fewer military style guns in civilian hands, the better.

            If it reduces gun deaths, awesome bonus.

            I don’t think your handgun needs a clip bigger than a dozen or so, or your shotgun or rifle more than that.

            I don’t think you need to fire more often than you can pull the trigger. Revolver speed is about as fast as I’m totally comfortable with average people having.

            Again, this is because in my personal experience, the people I know who want such things honestly shouldn’t be allowed guns because they are dangerous to themselves or others.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              I want the AWB back in place solely because I think the fewer military style guns in civilian hands, the better.

              If it reduces gun deaths, awesome bonus.

              If reducing gun deaths is the “bonus”, what’s “the better”?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think this is where things get dicey. “The better” is changing a culture where the baseline expectation of normal civilian society is that it’s heavily militarized, that resolving problems with extreme prejudice ala Rambo is minimized (or at least that the collapse between fiction and reality is blunted by the lack of access to weapons used to fulfill some people’s primal fantasies), that a peaceful society isn’t an armed society (remember, you cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war!!), etc.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Yeah, well, OPRE.

                I don’t see any of those things, when I look around me. I don’t see a heavily militarized civilian population. I don’t see a lot of resolving problems with extreme prejudice (the unfortunate Mr. Martin, rest his soul, is remarkable because he represents an outlier, not a day to day occurrence).

                If making something I don’t see go away is the primary motivator – even more important than the bonus, mind you – I’m having a hard time getting myself into a place where I’m going to agree with you much.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Finally! Patrick, we don’t agree on these things. I call that progress.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Where do you live, Still?

                Note: I live in California, by far the strongest gun control state in the country, I believe. Most of what California has as gun law I consider to be pretty reasonable, and the parts that I think are unnecessary or unreasonable are likely, in the main, mostly annoyances for legitimate gun owners, not major impediments to their safety, rights, or liberty.

                I think, for example, that this is criminally negligent. The fact that it isn’t under OK law mystifies me.

                On the other hand, if my brother was in the habit of having loaded guns around his house, I would expect that I would know that ahead of time and plan accordingly, so I’m not really certain that Officer Rozier deserves felony charges. I don’t really know enough about the particular set of circumstances to say for sure.

                On the militarization thing… well, maybe the police. The police are heavily militarized in the U.S. That’s a problem. But it’s a problem because they have fairly broad authority to use that force.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Longmont, Colorado.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The police are heavily militarized in the U.S. That’s a problem.

                I was going in a different direction than that…Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


              “I want the AWB back in place solely because I think the fewer military style guns in civilian hands, the better. “

              So what about a flash suppressor or pistol grips scare you?

              “I don’t think you need to fire more often than you can pull the trigger.”

              The AWB would not ban those types of guns.

              “Revolver speed is about as fast as I’m totally comfortable with average people having.”

              So a semi-auto hunting rifle makes you uncomfortable?

              I know this seems like nitpicking but these are the kinds of statements I find problematic when they come from the pro-regulation crowd. There are all sort of little tells that demonstrates only a partial grasp of current gun law, proposed gun law and guns themselves.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I’ll say it if Morat wants. I’m perfectly OK with any law that in the long run, means less total guns in circulation in America. So, pistol grips, semi autos, whatever. If there are x guns at the beginning and we have x-y number of guns in the wild at a later point in time, I’m giving it a thumbs up.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


                So your premise is that a certain % of guns will always be used to commit crimes, therefore a total reduction means a reduction of the crime %? Because that’s the only way your plan makes sense.

                Personally I’d like to keep gun ownership the same and work to reduce the % used in crimes.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

                To be fair, I think the goal of banning weapons with certain somewhat cosmetic features (like pistol grips or flash suppressors or that look like whatever) was to make the guns that also carried large magazines less sexy, fun, cool or whatever so that people wouldn’t want to buy one on the basis of coolness, thereby reducing the number of weapons in circulation in society that could be used most effectively in mass shootings.

                That is, the authors of the AWB were aiming at taking away the cool features that they thought created a higher demand for rifles with high capacity magazines.

                I still think the AWB was a messy bit of legislation, but taking away the sexiness of a dangerous item isn’t always a bad strategy, e.g. regulating or banning certain kinds of cigarette advertising and packaging.

                By analogy, the packaging of the cigarettes isn’t dangerous, nor is a pistol grip. But by getting rid of cool cigarette packaging or by forcing companies to not sell cool looking, military style rifles, you may dry up the demand for a dangerous product.

                Maybe not, but why not try, given that cool cigarette packaging and pistol grips are not needed for anything really.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                “Does feature X have a legitimate reason for hunting or sport shooting, or is it there entirely to look cool or more military”.

                I realize you can’t quite write a law on that (it’s a bit “I know it when I see it”) but that’s my personal criteria.

                Do you need a flash suppressor for hunting? (No, not really). Pistol grip? I dunno, really — is it a bonus for target shooting or skeet? Doesn’t seem like it, so what’s the point of it?

                What’s the point of a given feature on a gun? Is it to make concealing it easier? Killing humans easier or more efficient? To make it look more like a soldier’s weapon? Is it to make hunting easier? Your aim more accurate for target shooting?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


                A flash suppressor is designed to reduce the chance of blinding the shooter in a low-light situation (ex. home intruder at 3am). Many people believe a pistol grip creates a more solid aiming position, better accuracy, etc. That’s why they are being added to shotguns for turkey hunting now.

                The point is, these features can be combined, along with faster firing and heavier rounds and a smaller platform, to create a gun that is more efficent and killing people. The question is, should we be allowed to have guns that will help us kill people better? I would argue, yes, because self-defense is still legal. Where the AWB folks and I disagree is when they seem to imply that the offensive capability of these guns is more important than the defensive capabilities.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                A gun isn’t terribly good as a defensive weapon. Perhaps we have reason to ban better tools… Or perhaps we can argue that most times, the relative quality of defensive weapon doesn’t matter (the criminals are stupid defense)Report

  6. Avatar damon says:

    I’d like to add a comment about swapping mags.

    Only someone who is unfamiliar with the firearm in question or new to semi autos in general might have a relatively long delay to swap one out. Maybe a total of 5-10 seconds if the shooter doesn’t know where the release button is and fumbles the reloading and cycling the bolt. Anyone who’s fired a weapon, specifically the same weapon he’s shooting at people, can do it in @ 1-2 seconds.

    ” However, the fact is that even a second can create an opening to stop or slow down an attacker; ”

    Yes, to a point, maybe, but let’s also remember that those not in the habit of receiving fire (i.e. almost everyone) isn’t going to have the reflexes, training, presence of mind, to take down someone who’s swapping mags. They probably will be running scared, or hiding. I only see unarmed folks being able to take down someone reloading if they are very close to the shooter and / or rush in a group, figuring someone will live to get close enough to knock the guy down.

    I consider these opposing sides to be essentially counteracting each other.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      They ought to be fucking hiding. That’s the problem with some of these dunderheaded ideas (go rush the shooter… don’t ever do this unless you’re on an airplane, or someplace where one bullet will kill everyone…)

      And I really, really agree. Cops ain’t trained to be calm under fire. They aren’t. Civilians aren’t either.

      I know a few people who have been in real combat situations… They aren’t the same afterwards.Report

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    Yes, you don’t see grenade launchers used as weapons much.
    By that point, you’re looking at low-end artillery, in which case there are legal means for you to buy the appropriate equipment.Report

  8. Avatar Dan Nolen says:

    For those of you who wonder what a legitimate reason to possess a so-called assault weapon, large capacity magazines, military grade weapons, so on might be—-how about freedom from potential tyranny? That was what Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said more or less. Just the HAVING of the guns protects this great nation from the despots in huge fashion. If we ALL (except felons, deranged, psychotics, so on) carried, what a wonderful dissuader that would provide! Oh wait—-all those big bad guns LOOK dangerous—-and might frighten someone.

    @ Tom (with no last name) Clearly you are advocating doing away with the 2nd Amendment inalienable right altogether. Either you don’t understand the desperate NEED that we Americans have to keep our guns/2nd Amendment rights intact—or you are deluded with your own protected state (said protection being provided via the very guns you detest), or you are not from the US. That’s my opinion.

    As Ron Paul has said, (paraphrased, not quoted) we cannot depend on eternal government protection in life. We cannot live/dwell/subsist incased in nice safe bubble-wrap to protect us from the evil world out there. Instead we have to be ready to take necessary action as individuals (law abiding individuals too!) to protect ourselves, our homes, our “stuff”, and our loved ones.

    You want to do away with guns because you clearly have not been in a situation where a loaded gun in your possession made the difference between you walking away—–or not. This isn’t television I am talking about. This is our world….and you live in it too—apparently without guns. Makes you an easy target—-guess that’s why you didn’t put in your last name.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You already have the ability to buy mortars, TNT, and I think even some grenades. Why do you need handguns/rifles in particular?
      All of the above are MUCH better defense against a tank than a stupid rifle.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Dude, if you think your civilian knock-off is going protect you from the Army, or even moderately well equipped cops, you probably shouldn’t be allowed a gun under the grounds that you’re mentally ill.

      Hint: They have snipers, bombs, tanks, air places, cruise missiles, smart bombs, drones, APCs, armored vechiles, and can crush you like a bug.

      It’s not your GUN that’s stopping them, no matter how big your magazine or matte-black your barrel. It’s the fact that they’d rather not kill you if they don’t have to.

      The days of defending yourself from the government ended…well, you know, they never actually existed. The only way not to get squashed by a bug is to have either the masses on your side (Democracy) and/or the military.

      That’s a funny Ron Paul quote. Don’t we spend 600 billion a year on the military? Isn’t that “government endlessly protecting us?Report

      • Avatar Dan Nolen says:

        Interesting to have a lesson on what the military has and is capable of. I have served over 29 years in the United States Army, all active duty. However, I am posting this as a citizen, not by my rank or position. I only tell you my credentials so you will get it through your head that I understand very well what is “out there”.

        Glad you liked my Ron Paul tribute too, “Dude”.

        What you fail to realize is that a well armed populace is exactly what can keep honest people honest when it comes to running a country. That is the message that our founding fathers wanted us to remember. You are too quick to discard lessons learned before (and probably not through your blood) as antiquated or outdated. The reason that Japan never invaded the US in WWII was exactly because of our armed civilians. Would some nice muskets have stopped them?

        Also, vehicles is spelled thusly—-Dude.

        And now because I have a differing opinion from your unwashed (and unproofed) diatribe, I must be mentally ill. How sad. Dude.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Hmm. I saw an appeal to (asserted) authority there, a repitition that “well armed citizens” keep the government honest with no actual support, a rather stupid and historically idiotic statement that armed civilians was what kept Japan from invading us and not, say, the US Navy (really, really funny as a joke though).

          And a spelling flame. The last refuge of the out-classed.

          Nowhere in there, of course, was an explanation of how your civilian knock-off of a real military weapon will protect you from even the moderately armed police, much less the US Army which has a habit of blowing you up from very, very far away.

          How sad for you. Dude.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          The reason that Japan never invaded the US in WWII was exactly because of our armed civilians.


          The reason that Japan never invaded the US in WW2 was (take your pick):

          #1 – China was closer.
          #2 – Most of the other Pacific Rim islands were closer.
          #3 – They were hungry enough for personnel as it is without fighting a land war.
          #4 – They were predominantly interested in conquering other people who looked like them, leaving subjugation of whites and africans to the Reich.

          I mean really, the only reason they sent a bunch of fighters off to suicide on what they thought would be a fleet at Pearl Harbor was that they wanted to have the US stop competing with them in the Pacific Rim. Actually occupying Midway or Hawaii would have stretched their fleet to the breaking point just to do minor supply runs.

          “Japan didn’t invade the US because the citizens were unarmed” is more of the stupid, historically incorrect revisionist nonsense that we really shouldn’t give the time of day to. All you’ve proven is that you know NOTHING about history.Report

          • You forgot to point out that Japan technically did invade parts of the US….that were along the Pacific Rim. Specifically, the Aleutian Islands. American gun laws did not seem to be any kind of deterrent.

            The notion that the Japanese were prevented from invading the mainland US because of an armed citizenry is patently absurd, as a simple look at a map would demonstrate:

            One seeking to expand one’s territory as much and as quickly as possible does not usually choose targets that are further away than other targets and require millions of ground troops that one does not have and which need to be ferried across thousands of miles of hostile waters to launch the invasion.

            Even if Japan had ambitions for invading the US mainland, it would first have needed to successfully invade and subjugate Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Chinese interior, the Pacific coast of Canada, and probably Mongolia and a good chunk of Russia as well.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          “The reason that Japan never invaded the US in WWII was exactly because of our armed civilians” Absolute nonsense. The Japanese never invaded the US because they had A) no desire to an B) did not have a military capable of even trying to invade Hawaii let alone the mainland and C) their army fully committed to fighting in China. Their navy was a raiding force they did not have the ships or capability to sustain a lengthy sea born invasion. They didn’t even have the logistic capability of supporting a force on frickin Guadalcanal let alone trying to actually fight on US territory.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            It’s the sort of nonsense gun-nuts eat up with a spoon, though.

            Kids shooting themselves with daddy’s gun or spree killings? Isolated incidents.

            Man scaring off mugger? EVERY DAY occurance. US winning WWII because the Japanese were scared of armed citizens? Total historical fact.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      Since when is there something wrong with expecting the police to mostly accomplish their mission? I think I am entitled to a government that can provide domestic security to its citizens. If it can’t, the correct response isn’t to revert to some wild west fantasy, but to get mad as hell and make the state actually carry out its most fundamental functions effectively.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        So… a police officer for every homestead?
        Forgive me, but if a police officer’s role is to stop crime — as opposed to “give directions” (Japan’s police), or “stop the noisy kids…”, he’s got to be there to do his job.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko says:

          That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just suggesting that there’s nothing wrongheaded about an attitude in which you assume that the police and the general decency of your fellow citizens will probably protect you from violence, and that if they don’t, it might just be the sort of bad luck that’s going to get all of us eventually. If you don’t think that the police can protect you, then the more reasonable response is to figure out why the police are failing, not have everyone pack heat. A nation in which everyone is taking their self defense into their own hands is a much more dangerous one than one in which most of us rely upon the police to protect us most of the time.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            It’s even more incoherent given that, well, we trust the government to command the military. Which are bigger and better armed than the police. Much more so.

            But the government would go ape with the police all over the citizens, but not the Army. Or the Army would rebel, but not the police.

            Police = bad. Army = good.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Why are the police failing? Simple. they aren’t there.

            Someone comes to burn down your house? Cops ain’t there.

            Someone comes to rape you? Cops ain’t there.

            Someone comes to drive you off your land? Cops ain’t there.

            Three different rural situations. Cops ain’t gonna be there to stop it.

            Assuming general decency seems dunderheaded. Humans ain’t decent — not a one of us.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      I think a quick glance at the trajectories of Egypt and Syria would reveal that, against a modern state with modern military technology, non-violent resistance to tyranny generally leads to better outcomes than violent resistance. Your best defense against any hypothetical tyrannical US government isn’t your AR-15, it’s the fact that US soldiers don’t want to shoot civilians, and they really really don’t want to shoot American civilians.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Egypt only worked because Egypt was dying anyway. And aren’t you forgetting Libya? And Bahrain (which was invaded by saudi arabia)?Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Freedom from tyranny includes:

      1) the right to vote
      2) separation of powers in government — justice/executive/legislative
      3) right to petition
      4) freedom to speak

      It’s built in, redundantly, all over the place.

      Recommended reading:

    • Avatar Tom says:

      I apologize if I gave the impression that I would favor revoking the 2nd or any amendment. I shamelessly enjoy the benefits of the 2nd amendment. Rather, I would point out that if we follow the logic of gun control advocates where “something” — including chipping away at the 2nd amendment — needs to be done for the sake of public safety, then all our rights are at risk.Report

  9. Avatar Dan Nolen says:


    Actually it is much harder than you think to legally possess explosives, thanks to the new laws that hit the books after the OKC bombing. Further, the paperwork is extensive to purchase a higher class of weapon (such as machinegun), there exists a tax of a couple hundred dollars, and it opens your home to the BATF to come in and “inspect” (I call it harass) whenever they want to. Also, just because you WANT something of that nature, it takes the county sheriff to actually approve it—and that isn’t so easy either.

    You should watch an old movie called “The Beast”. It is all about Afghanistan and the Russian invasion back in the 80’s. Yes, it is just a movie, but it lets you see the true power of an insurgency (small arms and rocks in this case) against a better armed foe (Russian tanks with complete armament).

    I (and you too) deserve to have top quality rifles and pistols (semi-auto pistols with high capacity mags are the self-defense weapon of choice for Americans) to defend ourselves.

    I truly hope it never comes to the point where Americans are forced to rise up against the government. But should it occur, you would much rather have a nice AR 10 or AR 15, semi-pistol, or semi-auto shotgun to fight back with.

    The 2nd Amendment isn’t a bit about hunting. The only reason you don’t care more about guarding your 2nd Amendment rights is because you haven’t been in situations where you can see what such an absence of rights can create.

    By the way, who do you actually know who has TNT, mortars, or grenades in their home? No one of course. Neither do I. ‘Nuff said.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I know someone with a quarry in their backyard. Of course they have TNT. Getting a blasting license only takes passing a written test, as far as I recall (okay, so you’re supposed to take their class too…).
      google is thy friend:

      If semi-auto pistols are the weapon of choice for Americans, it just goes to show how stupid we are. A good steel door works much better for self-defense, provided you’re behind it. In fact, it works while you’re asleep, which firearms most certainly don’t.

      Don’t put words in my mouth, about what I would much rather have. I can make thermite — it’s actually pretty safe to do, and, again, is much MUCH more safe than making bullets. A gun doesn’t do jack against a tank, nor an airplane, unless its flying really low and slow.

      You, sir, have no idea where I have been, and who I know. I know a friend of a friend who uses grenades to stop folks from ambushing her (she’s in real estate).

      You also are poking at the wrong liberal if you think I don’t care about guarding our Second Amendment rights.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        ” a friend of a friend who uses grenades to stop folks from ambushing her (she’s in real estate).”

        Oh yeah, Remax. Don’t work with Remax or Kaboom!Report

    • Avatar Plinko says:

      Invasion and rebellion against your own government are pretty much incompatible concepts here.Report

  10. Avatar Dan Nolen says:


    I have read all about how to make thermite—-yep, easy enough as long as you can actually GET the materials AND get the igniter that gets the thousands of degrees of heat that you need to actually get it to ignite. Give it a try and see how that works out. (by the way, I am a SGT Google believer too lol). Took me 2 years of research to download the Anarchist’s Cookback way back in the infancy of the internet. 🙂 Kind of like the Most Dangerous Book for Boys on steroids. 🙂

    As for your steel door, it is a great line of defense, true enough. But it won’t do much for you in a car-jacking or armed robbery while you are out dining.

    Unlike many, I don’t equate liberal to stupid; not at all. I for one am glad that we have multiple parties (of course mainly only 2). I wasn’t “poking” you in order to make you angry…..I simply read your comments and make assumptions at the risk.. (ass out of you and me lol)…..we all do that.

    And a quarry in the backyard—-interesting. Must be a business and a lovely place to live. Again, try possessing some nice dynamite through legal channels yourself.

    Funny how these (I have to assume legally procured) grenades going off and killing people and protecting your real estate friend of a friend hasn’t made the news. Media plot? Israeli friend? Naaa…..just hasn’t ever happened. 🙂 Kind of like the cellphone igniting the gas tank on your car while you fill up BS.

    And if you care about guarding the 2nd Amendment, then why on Earth would you want to weaken our guns that we CAN have down to chicken soup? Leave the 2nd Amendment alone….and leave the guns alone—as is. Thoughts?Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      How hard is it to get rust and shaved aluminum?? Yeah, it takes a bit more effort to get good thermite… But kids make that in chem class all the time.

      How often does a car-jacking really happen? Armed robberies are rather rare where I live, too (and even so, the number that the perpetrator doesn’t want to end peacefully is vanishingly small…).

      As to buying explosives legally? I call it the Ohio loophole. So long as you don’t have Ohio plates, and promise to get it out of Ohio by sunset, you can buy some pretty dangerous shit. They’ll even give you the (one-time-use) mortars. [I’m talking about fireworks, in case it wasn’t clear.]

      My friend isn’t in America. It’s more of a “regular thing” over there. (not in Israel either, in case you’re wondering). ‘Sides, who has ever cared about criminals dying?

      I just don’t think that guns make a meaningful defense against tyranny. Nor do they alone make a meaningful defense against anarchy… After all, you have to sleep sometime… How much have you read about Argentina?

      I find it rather meaningful that we do have licenses, and tests, and that we actually bother to control — legally, things like TNT. Certain guns rise to that level of hazard, particularly when held in quantity (out here in Pittsburgh, we had a nutjob ambush the cops…).

      Mike brought up a study, saying that over 50% of the guns used in crimes were sold from 120 shops in America. That says something significant, I think. Might be a better time for a great wall of china, rather than Germany’s solution (ban all maglites, they might hurt someone!)Report

  11. Avatar Annelid Gustator says:

    I know a friend of a friend who uses grenades to stop folks from ambushing her (she’s in real estate).

    You’ve said this before. I thought then and think now that someone in the chain of communication here is unreliable.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Not really. I never mentioned which country she’s in, did i?Report

      • Avatar Dan Nolen says:

        I can’t see how talking about access to grenades for someone who isn’t in the US has any relevance to this discussion. It is a nice dramatic statement…..but I think out of place in this discussion about American 2nd Amendment issue.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Not at all. You were talking self-defense. A grenade is a much better defensive weapon than a gun…Report

          • Avatar Annelid Gustator says:

            Wow. No.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Welcome to Kimspace.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              A gun is a very good offensive weapon. But to use it on defense means that you have to be awake, and aware of the vector of attack. Also, your opponent has to be really fucking stupid. As in “not shooting from cover” stupid. Also, your opponent is much more likely to already have drawn his weapon… leaving you needing to scramble for yours.

              A grenade, on the other hand, provides a focused amount of destruction (or blindness/deafness, if you’re using a flashbang), in a way that you don’t need to see your opponent to hurt/take-out-of-commission the other person.

              Needless to say, grenades have a much higher chance of collateral damage. Which, in an ambush situation, one generally counts as a good thing, because you can get more than one attacker at once.Report

  12. Avatar Dan Nolen says:

    One more thing, Kim. Rifles can down jets, helicopters, and other aircraft. One of the most basic military techniques taught to raw recruits is estimating how many football fields in front of an approaching aircraft to shoot. Granted it isn’t a single shot that brings down the aircraft but WALLS of bullets—-but it IS effective.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Call me stupid or crazy, but I’d hit the supply depots before I’d waste that many bullets on a plane.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Wow. It must be firing magic bullets. Considering modern jets bomb their targets with smartbombs from miles up.

      And the ones that do fly low and slow, well — also magic bullets. I’ve see what Warthogs can stand up to, and your civilian knock-off is unlikely to even scratch the paint.Report

  13. Avatar Plinko says:

    This is an excellent salvo in the symposium, Mark.

    There is clearly a mirror image of this issue on the other side, when it comes to guns, which several comments above have referenced, that any mention at all of regulation immediately drives folks into apoplexy and claims of government seizure of all private weaponry.

    The challenge for the pro-control crowd, as you’ve eloquently put, is to educate themselves on what effective gun control would even look like and figure out how to wrest the conversation in a productive direction.
    For th0se opposed to such, it’s much more complicated – do you keep gambling on widening, knowing that the risk if you lose is bad legislation, or do you try and influence your opponents into settling on something effective but appropriately respectful to responsible owners?

    I’ve been drawn to the idea of mandatory liability insurance that’s been floated about lately, though in the current climate of debate it doesn’t fit with either side’s messaging well enough to gain traction.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      If only there were a symposium of some sort where fresh ideas could be discussed and evaluated….Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

      IMO, handguns are so prevalent in the U.S. (and are the most often used in gun related suicides and homicides) that the only way to reduce the homicide rate in the U.S. is to make them less prevalent (maybe not entirely gone, but rarer).

      Cars can be regulated for safety features and environmental health at three points: 1. At the factory or upon import. 2. When the owner/driver is licensed and 3. On the public roads while driving in full view of everyone else, including possibly patrol cops.

      Notice that there is no real equivalent of #3 for guns. Most people don’t carry their gun around in full view of thousands of strangers, daily, and in front of police officers regularly. We put visible licenses and registration stickers on cars, we post rules of the road, and we enforce rules -like a speed limit- that couldn’t be enforced if no one saw you driving or if it was unlikely that a cop would see you driving.

      This lack of publicity in gun ownership and use (hunting rifles are a different story than handguns here) means it is very difficult to require people to coerce them to follow certain rules when they own a gun.

      To require people to own and use guns safely, we will have to do it at points 1 and 2, i.e. the point of sale and in licensing. But that is problematic too. Once a person has bought a gun and got the license, there is no more incentive, no more coercive pressure to follow the rules (as their is with driving) that make us all safer. So, to make guns safer we would have to require regular police checks that guns are stored safely, regular psych checks to make sure owners aren’t behaving dangerously, regular training sessions, and (IMO) gun tracking that is stronger than putting licenses on cars (GPS chips, IMO).Report

  14. Avatar Canadian says:

    This is about disarmament of American citizens. It has nothing to do with protecting children or public safety. Hundreds of children die every day from malnutrition, medical malpractice, or even American military action in other countries yet I do not see Obama crying over them. He cries when he wants to manipulate the public.

    Via executive or or otherwise, via the Patriot Act, National Defense Act, and the communications control bill he executive ordered last July 2012 Obama now has the power to detain American citizens on suspecision alone, forever, with no trail, on American soil. All rights to trial etc are denied. He has control over all food, all transportation services, all electric services, all banking transactions, and all communications. He can even utterly shut down the internet, your TV or your cell phone, or otherwise control what you see and hear, or what you can say or show. Combine this with the USA being a well documented electronic police state- all that you say is monitored, the only step left for a complete and utter tyranny is to disarm Americans.

    Demonizing “preppers” and gun owners via the Newton shooting is not a mistake, it is a necessity. In order to pass unjust laws against a segment of the population you must stereotype and scapegoat them, demonize them. Gun owners, preppers, and militia groups around America are the only force left that can realistically resist any type of tyranny and the American government knows it.

    You will see in the media various further attempts to link legal gun owners with illegal crimes, spree shootings, and terrorism. You will people who are not utterly dependent on the government for food and self defense together with militias painted as crazies and dangerous to you simply because the state feels they are dangerous to their power hold over the country.

    It will be much easier to arrest and detain these “terrorist” if the guns they own are all now illegal, or they are finger printed and photographed for a database so the government knows where to go to round them up for various infractions of ever more complicated and subjective “gun control” laws.Report

  15. Avatar Kazzy says:

    If I remember correctly, “Boyz in the Hood” featured a number of automatic weapons. I remember the scene at the car hangout where the one guy shoots what appears to be an Uzi into the air and the final shooting scene seems to feature automatic rifles that resemble M16s. Was this wholly inaccurate of the guns that exist on the street? Because I know a lot of folks, myself incuded, that took that particular movie to be a fairly accurate portrayal of gang life in LA. And some of these folks allude or point to this movie as evidence in support of AWB.Report

    • It’s been….a long time since I watched Boyz in the Hood, and I honestly don’t know whether it is or was accurate at the time. However, it’s important to emphasize that automatic weapons are not covered by the AWB since they’re heavily restricted (pre-1986 guns) and/or banned (post-1986 guns) under separate, pre-existing legislation.Report

  16. Avatar Michael says:

    It is my belief through a study of history that the Second Amendment was included in the Constitution to ensure that the states had the right to defend themselves from the Federal Government should it overstep its bounds. It seems to me that the zeitgeist of modern America either doesn’t know this or no longer believes this to be necessary. I disagree, but we should all agree that the Second Amendment protects that right despite the zeitgeist. It is for this reason that I believe if gun control is to be the law of the land, the Second Amendment must first be repealed. If it is not, then we are permitting the Federal Government to arbitrarily remove our Constitutionally protected rights without our permission which should always be unacceptable. To be clear, it is the prerogative of the people to implement gun control and must therefore be done by Constitutional Amendment.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      It is my belief through a study of history that the Second Amendment was included in the Constitution to ensure that the states had the right to defend themselves from the Federal Government should it overstep its bounds.

      And it’s my belief that this is revisionist horse shit that should not be taken seriously.

      They weren’t worried about going to war with each other. They were worried about trouble with neighboring powers. Border skirmishes with the natives to their west, who were increasingly restless with the way the English were treating them (as opposed to the French, who took the time to get along better). They were worried about the French coming down and getting into territorial dust-ups, and they were rightly so worried about getting dragged into war (1793, lo and behold, the French got a bug up their butt about the Jay Treaty…) and then they were worried about getting into wars with the Spanish if and when territorial expansions or sales got them into contact or if and when some dispute over shipping lanes were to crop up.

      Maine declaring war on Virginia was less worrisome to them than the possibility of bad weather during the growing season, and those who think otherwise really need to start learning actual history rather than this paranoid garbage the tea party revisionists and “Sovereign Citizen” wackos have been selling.Report

      • Avatar Citizen says:

        I would wager that your perception of the Magna Carta would have been snot paper.
        People have been trying to limit the power of authority for some time now. Nothing really has survived over time except out right anarchy.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          I would suspect you’re the type of deranged lunatic who thinks the Magna Carta was for anyone but the nobility, that it was anything but a document that codified contractually the “rights” of the feudal noble lords in exchange for their not holding an open rebellion against John Lackland, King of England.

          Please learn at least a little about history before injecting mindless horse dung into the conversation.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            The Magna Carta actually is a more interesting document when viewed in light of how it describes and codifies some of the provisions involving the commons and the relationship between estate owners and tennants…the chapters are pretty fascinating on their own.Report

        • Avatar Citizen says:

          Pannage, estover, and tubary are all about nobility?Report

  17. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Just a thought about registration. If you want to implement a registration scheme, of either guns (unlikely) or gun owners (more likely), you have to give them something in return.

    We register our cars so we have the right to drive them on public roads, and the fees collected from automobile registration goes (usually) to maintaining & improving those roads. We register ourselves as drivers for much the same reason, as well as to demonstrate (marginal) competence with vehicle operation.

    If the only reason I need to register my guns, or myself, is so the government has my name on a list…

    Expand and promote firearms safety & training. Encourage people to get trained & licensed to carry (gun owner registration). Offer classes on safety, storage, proficiency, self-defense (& the legal aspects thereof), shoot/no-shoot situations, etc, and not just through some gun training institute for $2K, but at reasonable prices and ranges everywhere.

    Use the money from owner (or gun) registration fees to support & promote classes & ranges where people can practice & get instruction. The fees from hunting licenses & tags are used to fund wildlife conservation (so hunters have something to hunt) & hunter safety training. I rarely hear hunters complain loudly about the money involved, or the fact that they are registering themselves as experienced gun owners.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      PS That also answers the whole, “well-regulated” bit of the 2nd Amendment, from all angles.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      This is an eminently reasonable response. Also a pretty good idea.Report

    • Avatar ian351c says:

      This sounds reasonable to me. I’m sure there will be those that have a problem with government knowing where all the guns (or gun owners) are, but this strikes me as something that would fall under the heading of “tolerable” as discussed above. Perhaps if it were implemented at the state level so as to assuage some of the “big government program” fears…Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Keep the registrations local & prohibit a federal database. Allow sharing by request, but most crime committed with legal guns is wholly local, so the feds have no need to know who owns what guns in MT while investigating a shooting in IL.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Keep the regs private. Let the gun manufacturers handle them. And hash key the whole thing, so that it only works one way, gun to person, not the reverse.

          Saving the argument through technology!Report

          • Avatar Patrick Bridges says:

            Would you require the manufacturer to be involved in every sale? What if a manufacturer went out of business?Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Then transfer the filesystem. I don’t mind the gov’t paying for it (via tax, or what not).Report

              • Avatar Patrick Bridges says:

                As a liberal, I’d like any databases like this to be kept separate from federal government just to keep Fort Meade for aggregating yet another data source for trolling for “bad guys” with high false positive rates.

                My point, though, is that if you actually want the database to be meaningful, it has to be kept up to date and fault tolerant. That requires both technical and policy solutions much more complex than “make a hash on initial sale”. As someone with non-trivial technical expertise in this area, doing so in a way that is both functional and robust is hard.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                *nods* I’m envisioning something similar to notary publics. Private folk who are able to help make sales of guns (or other regulated substances, including controlled drugs).
                Someone will verify on each sale, or the last person sold to is liable, except for the “stolen” provision, which if you have enough guns stolen (in separate incidences), is enough to get you banned from having guns.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Again, I’m the liberal. I have LESS problem with the gov’t having my personal info than google. But other people feel differently… so, why not go with what Republicans (statistically our gun owners) want?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      I should also note that a lot of people, in my experience, have carry permits, but rarely actually carry a firearm. I maintain the permit so when I want to carry, I can, and to make it easier for me to transport my firearms when I feel like a trip to the range.

      It is also, in a way, a good citizen card. I’ve had police see my carry permit, and once they do, their whole attitude changes. They know I’ve had an extensive background check done, and I am not a person prone to violence or erratic, irrational behavior (such persons tend to get in trouble with the law & have a hard time getting, or keeping, a carry permit), and I will likely not give said officer a hard time, as I wish to protect my carry permit. I’ve had more than a few traffic tickets turn into warnings that way.Report

  18. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    The simple, undeniable reality of the problem of gun violence is that any solution, to have any chance of working, must have at least the acquiescence of the tens of millions of gun owners in this country. What’s more, to succeed, it also needs real input from those owners on how firearms are actually used and actually work; otherwise, it might as well be an attempt to regulate a barely understood planet.

    By insisting on a renewed AWB as the centerpiece of any attempt to reduce gun violence, gun control advocates make it nearly impossible for that badly needed dialogue to happen.

    Isn’t part of the problem that we can’t even agree on what the “problem of gun violence” is?

    For some, it is stopping mass shooting murders, and nothing else. For some, it is reducing the number of gun deaths from all firearms, particularly handguns. For some, it is stopping all deaths related to firearms. For some, it is stopping “unnecessary” deaths (with each person defining “unnecessary” differently). For some, it is something else.

    I don’t disagree with your post, Mr. Thompson. It’s just that this conversation on gun violence becomes more granular at an exponential rate, because we don’t agree with the basics.

    It is because of THAT lack of agreement that I think nothing will be done that addresses gun violence. And, the gun lobby wants it that way. Not that Feinstein isn’t playing right into their hands.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      It is because of THAT lack of agreement that I think nothing will be done that addresses gun violence. And, the gun lobby wants it that way. Not that Feinstein isn’t playing right into their hands.

      I’m pretty much on board with you, here, JHG.

      I don’t know that Feinstein isn’t playing right into their hands so much as she is playing her role for her well-established reasons.Report

    • I fully agree with this, JHG. I actually started writing a separate post that tried to delineate all of the essential facts that need to be accounted for in any discussion, but which one side or the other always makes a point of ignoring, with the hope that this would allow us to narrow down exactly what aspect(s) of gun violence we’re hoping to address and also allow us to see how different aspects of that problem would require different solutions, possibly at odds with each other.

      But I only got a little bit of the way in. It was too depressing and the important factual differences too many and too overwhelming. So I scrapped the post and chose instead to focus on one particular issue, with the hope that other contributors to the symposium would address other aspects of the problem(s).

      If the insistence on the AWB unnecessarily makes the ears of gun owners deaf to proposals supported by liberals, the insistence on “more guns, less crime” policies by NRA types has the same effect in reverse.Report

      • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

        I feel your pain, Mr. Thompson. I have also tried to define some of the basic assumptions that different groups make when having this discussion, and quickly arrive at the point where I think there is not enough overlap for the discussion to move very far.

        And, then I listen and read what people are saying and the only thing that ever seems to be agreed upon (when it doesn’t devolve into spittle and rage) are tiny changes at the edges, because there isn’t enough overlap in what we’re trying to discuss. But, those tiny changes aren’t doing much to address the problem anyway (and, we didn’t agree on the definition of the problem in the first place).

        I think you hit on it here:

        allow us to see how different aspects of that problem would require different solutions, possibly at odds with each other.

        It’s my rights vs. your rights. And, my rights are always more important than your rights.Report

        • Honestly, I’d be pretty happy with just agreement on “tiny changes at the edges.” In this respect, maybe I’m more pessimistic than you – in my view, the nature of the discussion is such that even where there can be broader agreement on such tiny changes, those changes never get made. On the other hand, where maybe I’m more optimistic is that I think if those tiny changes could get made, they’d create gradual space for larger changes (whether of the “more guns” or “less guns” variety, or more likely a mixture thereof, I care not a whit so long as they actually work) by providing at least some common ground to build on.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Ideologically, that’s an impossibility, it seems to me. Politically, it’s possible if the moderates of the world unite and impose those types of changes. That will undoubtedly make one or both of the radical factions blind with rage. One faction claim to be pacifists, so we’re probably safe from them. The other faction, tho. Watch out.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Actually I should flesh that out some. The logic of lots of gun owners is that the second amendment provides them the right to defend themselves from governmental tyranny, they possess guns to prevent tyranny, and a violation of the second amendment would constitute tyranny.

              I guess it’s possible that their all just engaging in political theater…Report

        • That said, and while we’re talking about such things, I just stumbled across this. If the statistics cited in the post are at all appropriately representative (and since this is an advocacy group, I am taking this with a big grain of salt), then this is the sort of legislation on which broad agreement ought to be comparatively easy and yet the effects on gun violence seem to be substantial:

          I’m pretty sure it would not be overly difficult to draft a federal version of this legislation, or at least get it passed in nearly every state that has not yet passed it, without running afoul of either existing interstate commerce clause law or existing 2nd Amendment law.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            This is why CAP laws are resisted.


            And here

            I do think Guns should be safely stored, but parents should also be able to decide when their children are old enough & responsible enough to have access in an emergency. If the law is crafted as a blanket prohibition, with no exceptions, then it will be resisted hard.

            Here, again, is another area where training can be helpful. Kids who have taken firearm safety & skills classes could be registered such that should they access their parents firearms in self-defense, the parents can not be prosecuted.Report

            • That’s a pretty reasonable exception, and I’d be fine with it. However, in the absence of an exception, it seems like we’re still talking about a situation where the flaw in the legislation will have an exceedingly rare impact as compared to the benefits of the legislation. If the statistics from the linked article are even in the ballpark of being accurate (and I’d certainly be interested in seeing competing statistical claims), then we’re talking about a policy that can save a minimum of around 1000 childrens’ lives a year.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                No argument from me on that regard (I consider safe storage to be paramount; my guns, my responsibility). But such an exception is crucial, since it still lets parents make the decision (albeit, with a bit of required training – something I think we should have lots more of in this country, in a whole lot of different areas).Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Here, again, is another area where training can be helpful. Kids who have taken firearm safety & skills classes could be registered such that should they access their parents firearms in self-defense, the parents can not be prosecuted.

              Another suitably responsible and sane suggestion.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

              I see that as a failure of a nation where 14 year olds have to be armed at all.Report

              • Avatar Just Me says:

                Plenty of kids at 14 have been legally hunting for two years already. It’s not “have to be armed” it is want to be armed.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                You want to hunt? I don’t see the point, fine. When you want to go hunt, unlock your rifles that have been registered and licensed by the government and go shoot some animals. When you’re done, return the rifles to the locked area. Personally, I’d require that locked area to be a private gun club where other people in the local area also store their weapons, but regardless.Report

              • Avatar Just Me says:

                See that is why we All get to vote, some people just can’t relate to others way of life. A lot of these suggestions seem like great ideas for people in cities. Just take your gun and store it in some central location. How about for the fair amount of people in these United States who would have to drive 40 miles to find a place to store their weapon? That’s the problem with one size fits all thinking. Not every one lives like you do or like I do. I can see wishing that children wouldn’t have to use a weapon in order to protect themselves from other humans. I think that is something most normal people can agree with. Unfortunately it’s not like that, there are people who want to take what others have, fact of life.

                As the old saying says “God made men, but Sam Colt made them equal”.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Actually, there are plenty of bad people in Sweden, Germany, and Belgium, but nobody thinks they have to arm their kids, because nobody is carrying a gun they got through a straw buy into the house.

                As for the rest, I haven’t particerpated in these threads much because I’m well awaee my views are far to the left of everybody here and it’d be pretty pointless since to be blunt, I dont’ believe the 2nd amendment gives anybody the right to bear any arms as a citizen.

                But, all I’m going to say is yes, this is why we have elections. And if the number of families who have guns in the home continue to drop, there’s going to be a whole generation of people in about twenty years where the concept of having a gun in the home is about as alien as their parents smoking in front of them.Report

              • Avatar Just Me says:

                Well Jesse I am glad for your input. It is great to hear all of the sides of the gun debate. People ask why gun nuts question any gun legislation. It is because we know there are people here with your beliefs. We also know that you are also represented in our government. No amount of gun control is enough. Not unless it is total ban on all civilian gun ownership. For me this convo really highlights the problem. Some in good faith are willing to try to give away some of their rights in order to make others feel better. Its never enough. Then we are told nobody wants to take away your right to own a gun when most of us know that is the ultimate goal. I applaud you for at least being honest about it.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Agreed, it is. But until we can figure out to fix it so kids never have to worry about violence more extreme than a punch, it occasionally comes in handy for kids to be able to arm themselves. Such events are truly rare outliers, but parents hear about events like Merced, CA & they don’t want their kids killed because they law had no wiggle room.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

      We can agree that there are multiple problems -mass shootings, availability of military grade weapons, gun suicides, accidental gun deaths, domestic gun homicides, and gang/organized crime gun homicides- no?

      There is no question as to which of those is “the problem.” The only question is how can we -or whether we can- solve each and every problem without creating greater problems. (NB: many other wealthy countries have solved many of these problems, so all are solvable in some larger sense of “solvable.”)Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        OK, Shazbot, please, please, PLEASE get over this obsession with “Military Grade Weaponry”. All modern weaponry is, to some degree or another, “Military Grade”.

        When you talk about “Military Grade Weaponry”, my brain clicks over to hand grenades, mines, RPGS, Shoulder fired rockets, Tanks, or military aircraft. Right now, by your definition (so it seems), “Military Grade Weaponry” is something to easily be found in every police department in the country, and a large number of private homes.Report

        • Basically. Again, the question must be answered, what exactly makes an “assault weapon” “military grade” in a meaningful way?Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Design goal.

            Civilian weapons are designed for hunting animals and sport (target shooting).

            Military weapons are designed for killing people.

            It’s pretty easy to go through them by that criteria. Except for handguns, which are iffy.Report

            • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

              To give M.A his due, all firearms are designed to propel a slug along a path. Their purpose is to maim or kill for reasons of survival (hunting), defense, or politics by other means (war).

              Civilian weapons all have their roots in military hardware. In most cases, the only difference between a military rifle & a civilian one is select-fire (semi-auto/full-auto/3-round burst). Everything else is just labeling, styling, accessories, & personal preference. This is why us “gun nuts” get so annoyed when people try to make distinctions between military & civilian firearms – because there is no significant difference to the bullet ballistics!

              There is almost no functional difference between your Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle & an AR-15, or an M-1 Garand & Remington 750 rifle chambered in .30-06.

              Also, too often, people focus on the weapon platform, and ignore, or treat as minor, the caliber of the ammunition it uses. They see the AR-15 fully kitted out with all the accessories & think, “Wow, that looks like a dangerous gun!”, when in reality, because it is chambered in .223/5.56, it is little more than a jumped up .22LR, suitable for killing rodents & small game. It’ll wound or kill a man, if you hit him in the right spot, or put enough rounds in him, but most hunters avoid it since it reliably won’t drop anything over 50 lbs with one hit. But the semi-auto hunting rifle in .30-06, that will take out an 250lb deer with one shot. That is a dangerous gun. It’s much more powerful, much more accurate, and has much greater range than the AR-15. Hunters just usually don’t bother with pistol grips, or picatinny rails (except maybe to mount a scope), or lights, or lasers or all that other crap, so their rifles look like nice, tame hunting rifles.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                You could just as easily make the argument that most military weapons (at least at the infantryman level) have their roots in civilian gun use, when you look at the ammunition.

                Generally speaking (Mike can correct me here if my twentieth century gun history is off), military rounds are an adaption of an existing civilian round.

                In particular, the 5.56 NATO round was chosen in the late 1950s as the standard for the U.S. military not because it was more lethal than the 7.62, but because it had less recoil and you could carry more of them… and infantry fire and advance tactics depend highly upon suppression fire.

                Basically, after WWII, our main military tactic has been “throw a lot of ordinance *thataway* to keep their heads down, and advance infantrymen into effective kill range”. IIRC most infantrymen engage in high fatality combat at ranges where a .45 ACP would still be an effective cartridge… we just don’t use the Tommy gun any more because you can’t lay down suppression fire over a couple hundred yards with it. The 5.56 is a midway round between killing power and recoil/weight.

                It is, in fact, *not* a round designed to “kill people”. It’s a round designed to allow a team of infantrymen with support to be more effective in battleground situations than an opposing team of infantrymen.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                “Generally speaking (Mike can correct me here if my twentieth century gun history is off), military rounds are an adaption of an existing civilian round.”

                Patrick – My understanding is that the .30-06 and the .223, the two primary rounds of the US military in the 20th century, were both designed for the military first. As is usual they were quickly adopted by civillians.

                Other rounds like the .270, .243, .308 were all designed for civillian use and have stayed that way.

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Right, but the .308 came before the 7.62 NATO. No?

                Maybe this is a matter where it’s hard to say who did what for what. I do know that the Winchester Model 70 is one of the most popular civilian hunting rifles out there, and it’s .308 by default, right?

                Isn’t the bolt-action Model 70s (the civilian model) more accurate than a M14 (the military one) because manual load long arms are more accurate than semi-automatics as a rule?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Yes – the civillian .308 came first.

                As for bolt actions, they are generally considered more accurate. It’s because of the stability of the frame, especially with forward locking lugs. They do a prety good job of explaining it here:


                (FYI – the videoes those guys do are awesome. Look for the one on ‘cut shells’ )Report

            • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

              Handguns are essentially designed as last resort or close quarters weapons. The ones you use when you can no longer effectively deploy your rifle (because the enemy is too close, the environment is too tight, or your rifle is empty). They are useful for civilians (& I group police in this, because we really need to stop thinking of the police as anything other than civilians) because they are small (easy to carry) & meant for close quarters. 95% of the time, if a civilian finds themselves under attack, it is in close or tight quarters.Report

  19. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Mark T:

    Absolutely – but then we’re back to pointing out that this particular term [assault weapon] does not actually make any important distinctions, at least not if the goal is to reduce gun violence.

    I think the purpose of the bill, from a liberal’s pov, is two-fold. Maybe threefold. 1) It’s to make illegal the purchase of a weapon that is not necessary for self-defense but can be used to offensively kill lots of people. In fact, it’s offensive capabilities overwhelm what I think is conventionally understood to be a defensive weapon. 2) It’s intended to reduce crime insofar as these types of weapons are utilized, or at least reduce the likelihood of their illegal use. and 3) It’s intended to change culture.

    It might or might not fail at all three. We know the first AWB didn’t effect crime rates. It’s effects on 1 and 3 are – as they say – subject to dispute. Depending on how heavily you weight each of 1 thru 3 you’ll get different answers as to whether the ban had a positive effect.

    Sure, but the problem is that the AWB doesn’t even attempt to use factors that would draw a line within that fluid boundary; by contrast, a ban on high cap magazines makes exactly such an attempt. … The factors pointed to in defining an “assault weapon” are entirely arbitrary and at best show a complete and utter ignorance of how guns work and are used.

    Conceded. I agree that magazine capacity is the most important component of whatever we might define as an “assault weapon”. So magazine capacity ought to be the focus of the discussion if we’re primarily interested in 2. That doesn’t mean that 1 and 3 are irrelevant or have even been refuted. (I say that granting your objections that the bill lacks clear definitions.)

    My argument has nothing to do with rights – to the contrary, I am increasingly of the view that rights-based arguments on this issue are often used inconsistently as a means of avoiding discussion on the real issues. Instead, my argument is simply based on the assumption that a reduction in gun violence is not possible without the acquiescence of people who already own firearms,

    Granted. I think I was misunderstanding your argument in comments. And kudos, too: that’s a pretty small needle you threaded there.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson says:

      The problem with your (1), though, is that it gets us back to the question of what, exactly males these weapons possess offensive capabilities that overwhelm their defensive capabilities. The prohibited characteristics have nothing whatsoever to do with offensive or defensive capability. If magazine capacity is the relevant issue, the point is that magazine capacity is an entirely separate issue from an AWB because magazines are not part of a firearm- there is absolutely no reason for a mag-cap restriction to be tied to an AWB, nor vice versa. As for (2), any reduction in then use of these specific firearms is pointless since the relevant prohibited features are purely cosmetic and can be so easily altered by the manufacturer to make the firearm compliant. As for (3), I can accept this as a legitimate and even laudable goal, but it is also a goal that the AWB cannot hope to serve- cultural change inherently must come from within a culture; it cannot arise from outsiders antagonizing the culture, which is what an AWB is.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson says:

        Just as a means of reinforcing my point about (3), it’s worth mentioning that the NRA’s intransigence and power pretty clearly traces back to the original AWB- prior to that, the NRA had actually supported both the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act. I suspect if you look into it closely, you’ll also find that the trend towards gun owners owning more and more firearms per gun owner dates back to original AWB, or close enough thereto. It was an attempt to impose cultural change from outside, and the response of the culture was to create a giant backlash, in the form of massively increased NRA power and intransigence and stockpiling firearms.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Check your dates — does the initial AWB also coincide with military draw down, post cold war?

          Is it possible this is also about shrinking military markets, and looking toward the civilian market to replace?Report

  20. Avatar gregh says:

    The point of the AWB is to ban the firearms that can do a lot of damage and to take those weapons off the market that contribute to the fantasy of killing PEOPLE. We all know what an assault weapon looks like.
    And the flash suppressor protects the vision of the shooter who is shooting AT NIGHT, IN THE DARK. Who lawfully shoots in the civilian dark?
    It is the fantasy that needs to be reined in. The little boy playing soldier.
    Responsible hunters don’t hunt with assault weapons. Those weapons were designed by the military to gain an edge over enemy combatants and were an escalation of the individual soldiers firepower. Why do civilians need to escalate their firepower? Except for having fun.
    Let us de-escalate the gun war.

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Here is a picture of cartridges, by size comparison. Gun purists will note that this is only a proxy for stopping power.

      Can you identify the rounds that you think were specifically designed to kill people?

      Keep in mind that the 5.56x45mm NATO round has been criticized for lacking sufficient stopping power, making it quite possibly less deadly than many of the rounds you see in that picture.

      Personally, I think the Army switched primarily because you can carry twice the ammo for the same weight allowance as its previous standard light infantry round (the 7.62x51mm round), and high rates of suppression fire are indicated in post-WWII standard infantryman advancement tactics.Report

  21. Avatar gregh says:

    And as far as that “protect themselves from their government” argument. Isn’t that why we vote?
    It seems the ones concerned about the government are the ones who lost the election!
    It seems prejudicial to democracy and law and order to violently resist laws enacted by the will of the people. And what better reason to get shot or bombed by “your government” than to take up arms in a violent action. If the people are on your side just sit down in front of the courthouse. All 300 million of you.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      This strikes me as a little naive. One of the concerns here is that the minority will have their rights abridged by a hostile majority. Now I’m not saying that’s a realistic risk in this specific case, nor am I saying the Second Amendment is the best method in practice of preventing that from happening.

      But the whole question is what do you do when democracy fails you, appealing to democracy again misses the point.Report

  22. Avatar ACR says:

    Nice intelectual debate.
    The problem is you miss the point if the point is really diminshing gun deaths and by that I will focus on criminal death not accidents which continue to fall or suicides which open up a whole other basket.
    First some history please. Americans have owned military grade weapons since prior to the American revolution. The Brown Bess as the British infantry weapon for almost 75 years was called was by far the most common firearm in colonial America. I could write essays on the supply of military surplus, type and grade all through the 1800s but lets get to modern non antique firearms defined by law as anything after 1898.
    The NRA was created not as a social sports club to run deer preserves but to improve the efficency of civillians in marksmanship after the disaster of the Civil War. Taking advantage of a massive world wide interest in amature soldiering and the mess of the Spanish American War the NRA with help from TR got the government to create The NBPRP and hold national matches using military rifles. With few exceptions due to war or politics in the 70s these have been held every year. For more info please google National Matches/Camp Perry/ODCMP. a quarter of a million Americans across the country use military rifles in formal federal sanctioned competition every month culminating in the national matches at Camp Perry Ohio in July/August. About 4k of the nations best shooters in teams and as individuals meet to compete/shoot with and against each other including all the services and many government LEOs. The Auroa(sic?) massacre happened in the middle of this annual event. In the military and shooting world this is a big deal. Google Farr trophy the President’s 100 etc.
    In the 1960s military surplus weapons were everywhere dirt cheap with no criminal misuse except and it is a biggie the Carcano used to kill Kennedy. The worst possible rifle for the job. High power rifles like the Enfied. Mauser, Nagant as well as more modern weapons were available mail order! In fact my father ordered an m1 from the same outfit that Oswald got his Carcanno, Kliens gunshop. He also went into Miller’s dept store in downtown K town and bought a m1 carbine no questions asked. Now before anyone starts I understand why that is no longer an option but bare with me. At the same time you could have recoilis rifles, mortars and other ManPats delivered to your door along with all the exploding ammo you could want. Machineguns could be imported or made and made legal by registering them in the 1934 NFA registry. The GCA of 68 changed all that. Now the import of military surplus was banned unless it could come in as a Curio and Relic and even then it stilll had to meet the sporting purpose test. This last point a direct copy of laws from Nazi Germany which ruffled all sorts of tail feathers for obvious reasons. At the same time progressives in Congress attempted to destroy the National Matches , end the NBPRP, the DCM and generally cut the connection that had exsisted for decades with the military. The NRA did little to oppose this officially which resulted in what is called the Great Membership Revolt. in 1977. The NRA has not been hijacked by antigovernment nut cases the membership of the time had had enough loosing everything. This is when the NRA began it’s climb to it’s current position. legislation was sponsored for several years always opposed by the progressive leadership in Congress to loosen the restrictive laws. In 1984 the general ban on non automatic military surplus firearms made prior to 1946 was lifted. This was followed two years later by the FOPA of 86 which used a rarely used legislative manouver at the time to get it to a vote past the liberal congressional leadership. This law was designed to remove some of the more useless restrictions like silly record keeping on ammo which the BATFE said was useless. Enraged that the law was passing the liberal leadership under Mr. Hughes engineered a vote to ban the manufacture of new machineguns for civillians. By all accounts including the video availabe on You Tube the vote failed on voice but the leadership said it passed and refused a role call vote. This Poed lawful gun owners. You see civillian legal machineguns have only been used in a crime once and that by a police officer of all things.
    The very complicated and unreliable tax and registration system used to effectively ban machineguns or so called destructive devices is what Sen. Feinstein wants to put so called AWs under. Perhaps you understand why the outrage is unreal!!!!! If you knew the history of this you would understand gun owner especially those who own the affected firearms outrage!
    In the 80s they fought so called cop killer bullets which were actually ammo intended for police only in handguns but that didn’t matter. Using the new created term AP ammo or more correctly “cop killer bullets” the progressives attempted to ban whole classes of small arms ammo. They said if it will defeat police body armour it should be illegal. Never mind that any rifle capable of taking whitetail deer will slice right through soft body armour irregardless of the bullet type. If a handgun was made in the caliber and the bullet met certain material qualifications it coud be banned. This included singe shot bolt action hunting handguns in 7.62mm. All of the sudden no more steel core surplus NATO ball widely used for target shooting. Uncle Bill Clinton would use this law to halt the import of very popular Chicom m67 ball used in the mountains of SKS and Ak rifles being imported. Why? because a U.S. gun company at the request of many law enforcement agencies built a pistol style AR in the Russian caliber as an entry weapon. The OA93 was never intended for commercial sale. Oh well. No cheap surplus ball for all those millions of SKS and AKs floating aroud in the hands of collectors and shooters.
    In 1989 in response to the massacre in Stockton California by Patrick Purdy a multiple serious felony arrest perp including possesion of an unregistered machinegun and being called by a police shrink a threat to himself and others the sporting purpose rule was changed to fit a particular idea. By the way mr. Purdy despite a lengthy criminal history was never convicted and was able to legally buy all his guns. Remember unregistered machine gun and this is what Feinstein wants to put all her so called banned Aws under. Why was the nut never prosecuted or locked up as mentally unstable. Nope able to legally buy his Ak and handguns. This caused the Cali AW ban .
    The National Matches suddenly became paramilitary training and plinking was a “pass time” and not sport according to the BATFE. Some how the much maligned Uzi carbine went from “particullary ready and adapted to sporting purposes” to banned. This from Bush 41. All with the single decision making of one individual the president. Not to be outdone above and beyond the 94 AWB president Clinton had the sporting purposes test rewritten twice. In fact this is where Mr.Emanuel’s famous never let a good crisis go to waste” phrase actualy came from. They created a whole new class of so called Assault Pistols and not liking the fact that gun importers were using thumbhole stocks and importing surplus parts kits into the U.S. to built compliant 922r rifles they rewrote the import rules without Congressional input. Now thumbhole stocks were a banned feature on imported rifles and having a double wide magazine well that woul accept a standard military magazine suddenly became a LARGE MAGAZINE MIITARY RIFLE. TOTALY MADE UP WITH ZERO CONGRESSIONAL INPUT OR OVERSIGHT. Al Gores open support for this rule change is widely thought to have cost him the few hundred votes needed in Florida and the election. Agian how many rule changes with no input from Congress. If this wasn’t bad enough president Clinton used a vague rule in the AIECA of 75 to ban the import of millions of ex U.S. surplus military rifles prized by collectors and target shooters like the m1 and m1 carbine.
    Much has been said that Mr. Obama has taken no steps about gun control and actually pushed progun laws. Not really. His comment about under the radar gun control is more relevant. You see mr. Obama used the same justification to ban the import of 700k m1 Garands from Korea and a similar number of m1 carbines(now on Mrs. Feinstein’s ban list I wonder why?) These rifles by law are classified as Curios and Relics and eligible for import, the carbines were denied import as so called Large Magazine Military Rifles. More recently his BATFE besides the well documented disaster with FF has started rewriting the import rules again with regard to shotguns trying to get the wildly popular Saiga and Mk19 banned? The problem is their study suddenly found with regard to sporting shotguns that ooops wow the much maligned pistol grip is an aide in correct shooting. One ruling finding a previously banned feature useful. OOOPPPS. More recently it appears the BATFE was tring to rewrite the AP ammo ban to include other rounds. of course you neer hear anything about this from the media do you.
    Excuse my rant, run ons and massive abuse of the English language and grammar. these are the reasons that most serious gun owners who are in the know and not fed the BS spread by the liberal media that doesn’t know an assault rifle from an assault weapon from a asault gun. This is why you find no support for these schemes. Decades of abuse, lies and flagrant disregard for reality and the law abiding. It is often said for a law to really work you must have the support of the people it is designed to regulate. After all this crap why would we support anything.Report

  23. Avatar Patrick Bridges says:

    I’m not a huge fan of the AWB, but I think people are misunderstanding the political and policy motivations for part of it.

    First, in terms of political reality, Feinstein and crowd are pressing for a somewhat modified AWB because that’s what they think is necessary to get it to pass. The NRA has made it clear that it will oppose any bill as the camel’s nose. If Feinstein and crowd wait for the “perfect” bill that the unorganized sane gun owners will support, nothing will actually pass at all. As a result, gun control proponents feel their best bet is to put forth legislation that has already passed before with only minor changes.

    Second, in terms of policy, the discussion of the pistol grip/folding stock components of the bill in terms of deadliness likewise misses their point in the bill. Everyone, including gun manufacturers, gun control advocates and opponents, and legislators, I think, knows that those elements don’t make guns more deadly. They also don’t make them more useful for the purposes for which I might buy a gun. So, if those features don’t make guns more effective for how a civilian gun owner might actually use the weapon, why do gun manufacturers sell them and why do some gun buyers buy them?

    Simply put, the pistol grip/folding stock portion of the AWB is about regulating features used to *advertise* semi-automatic rifles to certain market segments. Gun manufacturers put those features on guns to target market segments that aren’t looking for the most effective weapon for target shooting, hunting, or self defense. To be honest, as someone who grew up around guns and has considered purchasing a gun for target shooting purposes and decided not to, I don’t know any functional reason why I’d want these features.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      You want to pretend to be Rambo? You’re deluded as to your chances versus the Army or the FBI? You’re a paranoid whackjob who thinks he’s gonna be invaded by a 20-strong gang of black rapist thugs?Report

    • I am far from convinced that your last paragraph is a correct statement of the intention behind the AWB, but for sake of argument, let’s say that it is. That brings us back to the whole issue of outsiders attempting to impose cultural change- such attempts must inevitably result in a massive backlash from those within the subculture to be changed. What’s worse is that it assumes, with little evidence, the intentions of those who might purchase firearms with these features even though it’s abundantly clear that a remarkably low percentage of these firearms are actually used for nefarious purposes – from this article ( it seems likely that about 2% of all firearms in the US are legally defined as “assault weapons” (roughly 1.25% are versions of the AR-15); meanwhile the most reliable statistics I’ve been able to find estimate no more than 2% of all firearms homicides or crimes involve an “assault weapon.” Basically, you’ve got somewhere between 4,000,000 and 6,000,000 “assault weapons” in the US, being used in -at most – 200 to 300 homicides a year. In other words, 99.995% of “assault weapons” are not used in homicides in a given year. Yet the presumption is that the only reason one would want a firearm with these purely aesthetic features is to attack humans.

      Simply put, if the justification is as you suggest, then it is a justification entirely premised on outsiders’ armchair psychoanalysis of gun owners. Not surprisingly, this pretty much ends any possible conversation between gun owners and those seeking to crack down on gun violence. There is a reason why the 1994 AWB was the last piece of significant gun control legislation to actually get passed.

      I repeat: you cannot significantly reduce gun violence in this country without the cooperation, or at least acquiescence, of legal gun owners. You cannot obtain the cooperation, or at least acquiescence, of legal gun owners if you insist on policies that treat them as the enemy.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Bridges says:

        I agree that it’s a bad idea to legislate what they’re legislate – I’m just explaining what I see as their motivation. The problem is that gun owners (or people like me who are relatively well educated with guns) who want to make reasonable proposals on gun safety and gun control have precisely zero political voice. As a result, we’re subject to the whims of the others in the gun control debate who do have a loud political voice (i.e. money).

        Personally, I’m in favor of requiring a license to purchase a gun and ammunition, but making such licenses shall-issue for anyone with reasonable required training and background checks. However, I’m actually *more* interested in ways to reduce gun violence and crime that focus on reducing the long-term causes of the violence and crime. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that countries with significantly greater social spending and less income inequality have much lower crime and violence rates.Report

  24. Avatar Patrick Bridges says:

    How well do you think “Dear GOP, we’ll drop the AWB and just mandate shall-issue gun permits for all trained and checked persons if you agree to double the budgets of the EITC, federal education spending, job training, medicaid, NSF, etc.” would fly?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      You might have more luck if you start with the prison guard’s union in California. “We’ll move to shall-issue gun permits for all trained and checked persons in exchange for an automatic third strike against untrained/unchecked persons found with firearms”?

      If you want the Republicans on board, just say “we won’t have a problem with any disparate impact”.

      I’m pretty sure that only crazy people would have a problem with it.Report