The Two Extremes of the Gun Debate


Mike Dwyer

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

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266 Responses

  1. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Horsey’s column is such a hack-job I’m glad you didn’t link to it. The way some liberals have been handling this debate seems to be more about NASCAR vs. Tennis then about safety vs. rights. I have a hard time believing that other dangerous parent-child activities that are not associated with back-woods yokels – model rocketry, for example – would get this level of vitriol: “Maybe a better idea would be to fine anyone idiotic enough to put a gun in the hands of a tiny child. Possible? Naw, the NRA would kill that idea too. The gun lobby depends on a legion of idiots.“.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      That column speaks for how a lot of my friends feel about this story and we are not a small minority.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My concern for the number of people who feel this is why I am less amenable to middle-ground solutions than I otherwise would be.Report

        • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

          Can you see how the current climate works both ways, Will? Look at who the NRA elected president. And Ted Nugent on their Executive Board or whatever?

          Look at it this way: The absolutist position on gun control would be repeal of the 2nd amendment followed by a total ban and confiscation of all weapons.

          The absolutist position against gun control would be no restrictions whatsoever.

          Only the latter position is actually being publicly advocated by any significant number of people.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            Look at it this way: The absolutist position on gun control would be repeal of the 2nd amendment followed by a total ban and confiscation of all weapons.

            Yep. I’ve seen any number of editorials and/or comments, written by people who aren’t citizens of the US, of the flavor, “Silly Americans, talking about strict gun laws. Strict gun laws start from ‘Civilians can’t own guns’ and go on from there.”Report

          • Avatar trumwill mobile says:

            I take it as a given that the pro-side has its peoblems. It’s been mentioned un this thread and it’s hard to disagree with.

            The defense that nobody is advocating anything more than minor restrictions can be simply a matter of political reality and political realities change. To the extent that this is a culural issue rather than strictly a safety issue, the less confidence I have that the goal would be met with minor curtailments. The LA Times piece and ND’s comment lend credence to the cultural argument.

            Or, put another way, on this issue if a line is drawn in the sand, it doesn’t matter what I think of the gun nuts because I am “with” them. Gyn control advocates them selves will say so, when they determine I am not with them.Report

            • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

              But like Rod Engelsman pointed out, only one side is advocating a line in the sand. Only one side is threatening to shoot the police, only one side talks about the need to have guns to shoot at US military personnel, only one side talks about the need to “defend themselves” against nebulous and ill-defined threats that often reduce to simple racism on the part of the advocators when pressed.

              Only one side has Ted Nugent talking about how he will be “dead or arrested if Obama gets elected again.” I’m waiting for what Nugent does to justify it.

              Only one side just replaced their president, whose family are so irresponsible with guns that his son is a convicted felon barred from owning and whose crime was to whip out a gun and shoot at people on the freeway. And what did they replace him with? An unreconstructed southern racist still fighting the civil war.

              The problem with the argument is that one side argues for reasonable regulation and reasonable compromise while the other side is categorically drawing a line in the sand. Uncoincidentally it’s the “pro-gun” side that has zero credibility left and yet are drawing the line in the sand.

              The line in the sand has been drawn somewhere to the political right of the crazy line. Which side of either line are you going to be on?Report

              • Avatar Turgid Jacobian says:

                Only one side has Ted Nugent talking about how he will be “dead or arrested if Obama gets elected again.”
                Particularly fine comment since he was later a guest at a SOTU. Jejeje.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                To the extent that gun control advocates view gun owners through the prism described by Horsey and ND, I am not on their side. Whether that puts me on the side of the NRA or not is up to gun control advocates.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                And to the extent that pro-gun persons like Wayne LaPierre, Jim Porter, Ted Nugent, and the host of those advocating armed marches and the murder of citizens or police or military personnel in the name of the 2nd amendment, thus behaving exactly like what you are claiming to be an inaccurate “prism”, where does that leave us?

                Every time they act this way apologists for the NRA and for pro-gun groups claim it’s an outlying incident or not representative of the pro-gun culture and yet these are the people they elect and who they let speak for them. How long are we expected to believe that this sort of nonsense is not representative of them when they simultaneously make it an active theme of their rhetoric?

                Have your cake or eat it. You can’t have both.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Those are the people that some gun owners elect.

                Whether or not it is representative of gun owners, and those who favor gun rights, isn’t particularly relevant to me. This isn’t a popularity contest.

                Attempts by gun control advocates to recast it as a cultural issue ultimately leave me on the wrong side of it. The people who hate them the most are not necessarily big fans of me and my kind, either.

                (Which is not to say that the other side doesn’t do it – or doesn’t do it even more than GCA’s do. Merely that when push comes to shove, I am on the opposite side of the line in the sand that they would prefer.)Report

            • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

              Will, you seem inordinately wary of camels sliding down slippery slopes and getting their noses stuck under tent flaps. If you know what I mean.

              This is a blog, not the floor of the Senate. What you and I discuss here isn’t going to have anything more than a infinitesimal effect on the overall debate in this country. I don’t see you doing this on other issues, so why do you take this tack on the gun control issue? Because, seriously, this sounds a hell of a lot like the arguments against SSM that portend poly marriages, incest, baby boy brides, bestiality, and marrying a tree or your car if we allow this unholy ruination of the sacred tradition.

              It may not seem like it right now with the current composition of Congress, but your side will sorely need a cadre of moderate allies in the years to come. The moderate majority on the GC side are offering a limited set of measures that we hope will stem some of this god-awful violence infesting our society. Maybe we’re wrong about that hope, but it’s nothing like wholesale gun confiscation.

              And you stand there, a moderate on the other side, shaking your head slowly, not really offering strong opposition, but yet you can’t get behind it because of something something slippery slopes and something about camels and tents. Well, pendulums swing my friend, and the TeaPublican crowd represents the right wing at the top of their arc. Even now, the most Red states like Kansas are only like about a 60/40 split.

              People are getting tired of burying kids and there’s going to come a time, soon, when you’re going to want moderate allies like me on this side of the aisle. But taking my cue from your current position, I could easily stand back and say, “Hey! I’m not actually in favor of a wholesale ban, but it’s not really any skin off my nose. I’m afraid of what your side would do if you got your way.” And I could point to old press clippings to support that position.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                When it gets down to it, practically speaking, the question is: Do half-measures now make full-measures in the future more likely, just as likely, or less likely?

                In this, it depends on what the half-measures are. Good half-measures can prevent the problem from reaching the point where full-measures are necessary. Bad half-measures accomplish nothing and primarily serve to move the window of the debate in the full-measure direction.

                Smoking bans in restaurants didn’t prevent smoking bans on entire university campuses. They made them more feasible. And smoking bans in restaurants are good half-measures. A bad half-measure does nothing to solve the problem, whereby not preventing the problem from reaching the point where full-measures are necessary. (Note: When I say “full-measure” I actually mean anything beyond half-measures… three-quarters measures and such would also apply.)

                Now, in the case of gun control, there are two proposals before the US Senate. The first is an assault weapons ban. I see that accomplishing little or nothing in the way of preventing handgun violence. It’s a bad half-measure. We’ve had an AWB before. The result was a press for more. Since the AWB lapsed, we’re now discussing whether or not to re-institute something like it rather than whether to expand it or not. For supporters of gun rights, this is a good thing. A better place for the debate to be.

                Now, trickier is the background checks. Honestly, I have to read more about it to come to a more firm conclusion. My inclination is to say “It might help.” But I also hear people whose opinions I respect (not the NRA) saying that the bill put forth was actually quite flawed. So I don’t know. On the one hand, a more universal background check might make the GRA side seem more reasonable. On the other hand, it moves the window of the debate closer to all-out registration.

                All-out registration, of course, makes confiscation more feasible. This isn’t some wacked out theory or paranoia. This is what has happened. The notion that if gun owners were only more reasonable than the confiscations wouldn’t have occurred is undermined whenever I see comments expressing contempt for gunowners at-large.

                That’s why it matters what people say. Is this enough to get me to change my position on any given sub-issue of the guns issue? Not sure that it is. Probably not. But only because I believe such voices are a minority and are unlikely to carry the day, and not because I believe that if gun-owners would just become more accommodating that they will stop being despised.

                Now, none of this is to say that gunowners don’t have some PR work to do. The NRA is a serious PR liability. We agree on that. But the NRA doesn’t negate those on the other side that would see this as less of a safety issue and more of an “us vs. them” issue. Columns like the one cited in this OP don’t help.Report

              • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

                When it gets down to it, practically speaking, the question is: Do half-measures now make full-measures in the future more likely, just as likely, or less likely?

                In this, it depends on what the half-measures are. Good half-measures can prevent the problem from reaching the point where full-measures are necessary. Bad half-measures accomplish nothing and primarily serve to move the window of the debate in the full-measure direction.

                First, we need to define precisely what we both mean by full- and half-measures so that we’re not talking past each other. FTR, my idea of a full-measure is NOT a total ban and confiscation. It’s more like a comprehensive system that’s reasonably effective at keeping guns out of the hands of those we can all agree shouldn’t have them while ensuring access for the rest of us. It would allow localities to tailor gun restrictions to their particular needs; tighter in Chicago, looser in Utah. It might also mean restricting or banning the sale and possession of certain types of particularly troublesome weapons.

                On the other hand, a half-measure is something that aims for one or more of those goals but is so watered down as to render it ineffectual from the get-go. An example is the current system of background checks with substantial loopholes. Or the laws that tie the hands of agencies like ATF and make it virtually impossible to track gun-runners. The AWB was another such measure in that a) it was temporary with a sunset clause, and b) didn’t address the issue of existing weapons on the street. The ten year ban on sales just wasn’t enough to really accomplish much but raise the resale price.

                You claim that the half-measures lay the groundwork for full-measures (by your definition, not mine) later. Conversely, I see half-measures as the result of sabotaging a full-measure (by my definition) that just lays the groundwork for claims of ineffectiveness and later repeal.

                Here’s the problem. You’ve stated repeatedly that you can’t support “full-on registration” because it gives you the heeby-jeebies wrt to the specter of confiscation. Okay. But I see no other way to get a handle on guns flowing from states and localities with lax gun laws–which may be perfectly reasonable for those places–to other localities that legitimately desire to limit access. We don’t have checkpoints on the highways last I looked (and, ya know… I would know).

                I keep hearing this fear that places like Chicago and Boston are going to somehow export their gun restrictions on Utah and Kentucky. But currently it’s working exactly the opposite way. Anything you can buy anywhere in the country ends up anywhere else because we have free and open borders between states. The loosest gun laws in the country effectively become the operational gun laws everywhere. Unless you get caught, but that’s always after the fact, after someone has died from a gunshot wound. And then, the gun rights crowd just points at Chicago and declares that gun restrictions don’t work. Well how the hell would we know? They’ve never been allowed to work.

                I’m all for states and localities tailoring their gun laws to their local needs. But doing so requires a way to control the flow of weapons and the only way I know to do that is going to involve some sort of registry so that law enforcement agencies can crack down on that very small percentage of people willing to engage in that sort of trade.

                If you have better ideas I’m all ears, but I just don’t see how you can have local controls without the registry. At this point, people like you are actually the ones forcing gun control at the national level. I guess you better hope that pendulum doesn’t swing too far, huh?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:


                I don’t think a registry would solve the interstate issue, though. I mean, I am a fan of each state setting up their own laws in many respects, but with guns I absolutely recognize that it creates a “race to the bottom” where Virginia laws will heavily, heavily influence availability of guns in Maryland.

                I don’t think a registry fixes that. I mean, it could have a statistically significant impact, but not to the point that “Oh, we’re satisfied, let’s all go home now.”

                I would add that there is a lack of equivalence – to my mind, at least – between Virginia undermining Maryland’s gun laws and Maryland forcing Virginia to have and enforce laws Virginians don’t want just so that Maryland can have laws that it does want. ,Report

              • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

                I don’t think a registry fixes that. I mean, it could have a statistically significant impact, but not to the point that “Oh, we’re satisfied, let’s all go home now.”

                I’m assuming that the actual population of folks buying guns in VA and selling them in Chicago and Baltimore is fairly small. But they’re endangering your gun rights far more effectively than am I. Believe it or not, I actually don’t have a big dog in this fight. I live in small-town KS; the thousands of gun deaths in the cities are sort of abstract to me. And I don’t own or care to own firearms so protecting my “precious” rights to lethal weaponry is also rather abstract.

                And this notion of needing firearms to protect ourselves from government tyranny is delusional at best. It didn’t work for the Black Panthers, SDS, or Weather Underground back when Republicans were pro-gun control and it won’t work now for the Alex Jones yahoo crowd. In point of fact, to the extent that the oath of office I took when I joined the Navy is still operative–which I suppose has expired now, I dunno–those clowns are actually domestic enemies that I’m sworn to defend my country against. They’re treading god-damn close to treason and more than one has crossed that line.

                This shit’s getting serious. If I did decide to arm myself it would be to defend myself and my country from the assholes that you’ve elected to stand next to on your side of that line in the sand. You know; the Shitter, the Quitter, the Racist, and the Flip-Flopper (Nugent, Palin, Porter, and LaPierre). You can claim to be all moderate and friendly and stuff, but at the end of the day there isn’t a sheet of paper’s worth of daylight between their policy prescriptions and yours.

                I would add that there is a lack of equivalence – to my mind, at least – between Virginia undermining Maryland’s gun laws and Maryland forcing Virginia to have and enforce laws Virginians don’t want just so that Maryland can have laws that it does want. ,

                I agree. Virginia undermining Maryland’s gun laws demonstrably results in deaths and injuries. The other way around? Not so much.

                Look, Will, you’re a smart guy and I know you mean well. But in this entire debate, going back to the gun symposium at least, I have yet to see you offer a single positive proposal for reducing gun violence. Not once. Your entire contribution has been, “I don’t think I can get behind that,” for whatever iteration of “that.” It’s like you’re not even trying or something. I could speculate on motives and priorities but that quickly gets into ad homs, so I’ll refrain.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:


                I live in small-town KS; the thousands of gun deaths in the cities are sort of abstract to me. And I don’t own or care to own firearms so protecting my “precious” rights to lethal weaponry is also rather abstract.

                Well, same here for the most part. I don’t own a gun and won’t for the foreseeable future. The kind of gun that I would own is among the least likely to ever get banned.

                That paragraph is followed by two denouncing NRA and gun-nut rhetoric, then closing with this:

                You can claim to be all moderate and friendly and stuff, but at the end of the day there isn’t a sheet of paper’s worth of daylight between their policy prescriptions and yours.

                There are differences, actually, which I’ll get to in a moment. However, either the non-policy stuff matters or it doesn’t. If it matters, then the fact that I distance myself from the attitudes you refer to – if not the policies I agree with them on – ought to be significant. If, at the end of the day, policy prescriptions are all that matter and I’m on the wrong side of that line in the sand, that’s fine, but let’s then stop talking about the rhetoric.

                Or you can say, I suppose, “As long as you oppose the same gun control proposals they oppose, you’re responsible for their point of view.” Well, okay, then I guess I’m in a no-win situation unless I base my policies views on the basis of personalities. Is that what you think I should do?

                You can also say “These attitudes are undermining the anti-gun control movement.” Which I agree, as far as rhetoric and attitudes go. As far as actual policy prescriptions go, though, we continue to disagree.

                I am not a member of the NRA. I don’t vote on their leadership. If I was a member, I’d be about as responsible for their leader as you are for George W. Bush. Except that you could rightfully say “But you can leave the NRA more easily than I can leave the USA.” Which would be right, and which is why I am not a part of the NRA and keep my distance from them. But I can be a dissident voice within the NRA, or I can be apart from them, but what I can’t do is change who they elect to their leadership.

                Anyway, as it happens I do disagree with the NRA on some things and I did put forth a proposal. The NRA thinks we should put cops in every school and I disagree with that. The NRA wants us to crack down on violent media and I disagree with that. The NRA seems to oppose any background checks, and I disagree with that.

                I have also said that I am on board with a decentralized gun sales registry. Basically, have some certified registrars who collect information on gun sales and will turn it over to the government with the appropriate subpoena or warrant. This was not well received by the GCAs because it was perceived as the sort of watered-down half-measure you denounced.

                But if failing to support the lengths you and others would go counts as not supporting anything, or is perceived as intentionally undermining the aims, well there isn’t much I can do about that. You can assume good faith, or you can assume bad faith. The common assumption of the latter – along with “if you don’t agree with me, you’re just/almost as bad as the NRA” – don’t particularly bring about open-mindedness and compromise on my part, but there isn’t much you can do about that if that’s how you honestly feel.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                +1 to this. The problem with the pro-gun side of the debate is they won’t put forth an honest argument. It’s all camels sliding down slippery slopes, getting their noses stuck under tentflaps, and then the end of the world is nigh.

                The pro-gun side insists that everyone who wants reasonable regulations is trying to confiscate guns and is in favor of total ban and confiscation. Listen to Wayne LaPierre or that new racist nutjob they elected their president and that’s what you’ll get.

                They’re fighting an imagined enemy and even their so-called moderates like Will Truman here pay lip service to that approach. The delusion factor is so strong that it is almost impossible to have an honest conversation. Propose anything less than wild west gun-on-every-hip demands and you’re instantly for total confiscation according to them.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I don’t think everyone who wants reasonable regulations wants to confiscate all guns or is in favor of the confiscation of all guns. I take Rod at his word that it is not.

                Rather, I think the “reasonable regulations” won’t actually do much good. And having failed to do good, will invite future support for things that people do not support today. Or, alternately, will enable policy expansion.

                Which itself wouldn’t be total confiscation of all guns. Rather, it will be the exact sort of confiscation that we have already seen. Which already passes the bridge into unacceptable.

                Humorously, trying to have me dismissed from the conversation as a closet extremist or dishonest or whatnot confirms mostly those parts of me that you are objecting to.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                Care to provide some examples of “the sort of confiscation we’ve already seen?” Or are you just throwing that out there? Because state gun laws are getting weakened, not strengthened.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie says:

                Assault Rifle ban does not fix handgun violence. no duh.
                it also doesn’t stop “bad people” from firing grenades into buildings for fun, or launching mortars in major american cities.

                I think we ought to analyze from the paradigm of “small problem” (grenades, dealt with by increasing security), and “large problem” (handguns).

                Are assault weapons a large problem or a small one?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                They’re a fixable problem. We can pass a law against pistol grips on shotguns. Given that we can’t pass the law that we want to pass, we’re stuck asking if we want to ban pistol grips on shotguns.

                Well? You just going to walk away from the table with nothing or are you going to go back to your constituents and say that you helped pass legislation that took dangerous weapons off the streets and thus saved the lives of Our The Children?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Often I think the half-measures are disingenuous because they don’t seem aimed at doing anything to reduce violence. They’re just aimed at inconveniencing or eliminating law abiding gun owners, or pandering to idiotic ideas that circulate in anti-gun circles, like the ban on bayonet lugs. Hardly anyone is murdered with a rifle, much less a bayonet. I think the FBI is still awaiting the first bayonet murder in the past hundred years just so they’ll have a stat. Yet the gun control forces were out backing Diane Feinstein’s list of a hundred rifles she wants banned, while other legislators came out an argued, with a straight face, that 30-round “clips” will disappear once their sale is banned because they can’t be reloaded.

                A writer at Iowa State University’s student paper expressed his frustration today in a heartfelt article. He’s tired of all the lies from the gun control side, which are constant.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                We on the other side are tired of your side’s constant lies. Starting with your lie that reasonable regulations are “just aimed at inconveniencing or eliminating law abiding gun owners” as if you were speaking some sort of gospel truth rather than expelling gases from your anus.

                Your little “heartfelt” conservative liar’s article goes into the standard tropes from the liars of the pro-nut side. Calling us anti-gun instead of pro – reasonable regulation. Insisting that anyone who isn’t for a gun on every hip and a bullet in every disagreement has no experience with guns.

                Best lie of his whole little lying diatribe was “How can we “gun people” honestly be expected to come to the table with anti-gunners when anti-gunners are willfully stupid about guns, and openly hate, despise and ridicule those of us who own them?”

                So let’s expose this lie for what it is and put it to rest right now. “Anti-gunners” aren’t “anti-gun.” We are PRO – reasonable regulation. We are PRO – preventing criminals from having guns. We are PRO – preventing people who have severe mental illness bad enough to commit suicide, murder-suicide, or attempt murder-suicide by cop from owning guns or getting access to them. We are PRO – responsibility and PRO – keeping guns out of the hands of unsupervised 5-year-olds who might in a horrific moment shoot their two year old sisters.

                We are PRO – REASON. We are not “anti-gun” we are ANTI-NUT.

                More of us than the liars of the pro-nut movement could ever acknowledge or dream have experience with guns. More of us than the liars of the pro-nut movement could dream have gone into the statistics in depth. More of us than the liars of the pro-nut movement could dream have listened to the arguments of the other side because we really want to find a compromise, this wild west shit is not helping anyone.

                New rule time. From now on when I see this sort of a lie I’m not going to hold back.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie says:

                “. Hardly anyone is murdered with a rifle, much less a bayonet. ”

                … unless they’re murdered by gas companies, ya mean?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well gee.

                “How can we “gun people” honestly be expected to come to the table with anti-gunners when anti-gunners are willfully stupid about guns, and openly hate, despise and ridicule those of us who own them?”

                Seems right on the mark to me, or am I just expelling gases out of my anus?Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                See my responses below.

                I’m not “willfully stupid about guns.” I’m not even stupid about guns. I know plenty about them. I don’t have to be a gun-porn nerd to be educated about guns.

                As for the rest of the ridiculing, you pro-gunners do it to yourselves, you don’t need our help.Report

  2. Avatar jim k says:

    The nuts with rifles association just elected as their president a racist southerner who still rages about the “war of northern agression” so I really do not think they have any credibility left.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I am always surprised at how the modern American right continues to just double and triple down on their worst beliefs. As Andrew Sullivan says, things need to get worse before they get better.Report

    • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

      Nuts with Rifles Association. I’ll have to remember that one.

      I’ve heard a lot about this lunatic they elected. He’s a birther, he believes a lot of the thoroughly debunked Alex Jones conspiracy theories involving the UN taking over the USA, and he thinks that the purpose of the NRA is to train civilians to engage in firefights with police or national guard or the army if needed. The fact that he’s also an unreconstructed racist who references the “Woah of Noathern Aggresshun” is just icing on the cake.

      If this is the new face of the NRA, there can be no rational discussion about guns because the NRA has just admitted they have no interest in being rational.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Those conspiracies existed well before Alex Jones was born. There was a far-right Congressman from Orange County who used to warn that the UN was training “barefoot Africans” in Georgia* (the state, not the country) to take over the United States.

        *Considering this was during the 1950s when Jim Crow was alive and well, this conspiracy theory makes even less sense.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    between this guys column and the comments by the new NRA prez it seems like basic civil discourse and semi-common sense aren’t likely just around the corner.Report

  4. Avatar LWA says:

    Speaking as a former Scoutmaster who did in fact give guns to children, I am sensitive to Mike’s argument.

    What I am extremely skeptical about is the idea that there should exist children’s versions of guns.

    Making a children’s version of a gun trivializes them, turning them into playthings. This is aggravated by the facft that for many people in the gun owning world, guns ALREADY are a plaything, heavily freighted with all sorts of fetishistic ideas of manhood, patriotism and tribal signaling.

    One of the reasons we made a point of teaching the boys about gun safety and proper handling was specifically to confront and counter that culture- we openly mocked any boy who dared to assume a Hollywood pose with our guns, and permanently benched anyone who treated a firearm with anything other than sober caution.

    As the gun owning culture slowly shrinks, this problem is growing worse, not better- the gun owning culture is becoming ever more detached from the rest of the American culture, and the most extreme voices and rhetoric are rising to the top- look at this weekend’s NRA convention for Exhibit A.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      “Making a children’s version of a gun trivializes them, turning them into playthings. This is aggravated by the facft that for many people in the gun owning world, guns ALREADY are a plaything, heavily freighted with all sorts of fetishistic ideas of manhood, patriotism and tribal signaling.”


    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      “Making a children’s version of a gun trivializes them, turning them into playthings.”

      I disagree. While a case could be made for the bright colors being a bit too far, the smaller size of youth models is a good thing for the reasons I outlined in the post. They promote better shooting habits and make kids less nervous to shoot them.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I think that it isn’t making guns smaller is what turns them into children’s versions. What turns them into children’s versions is the bright colors and making them look more like toy guns than real weapons. A gun should have a certain intimidating look.Report

        • Avatar Kimsie says:

          I’d say the use of mortars as fireworks is MUCH more of a problem than gussying up some guns.

          Fireworks are things that kids routinely play with — they come as toy tanks, for god’s sakes!Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

        I don’t have a problem with the size, per se. There’s plenty of adults that are small. There’s a grown woman, for instance, in my home town that’s a couple inches shorter than my nine-year old daughter. (I don’t think she qualifies as “Little People”, just on the short side of normal like my family is on the tall side of that bell curve.) So guns made for smaller hands and shorter arms are just filling a legitimate market niche.

        It’s when the company selling such weapons markets them with Fun Dayglow Colors! and features photos of young children wielding the things on it’s website that you lose my support.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


          Gun companies have been producing guns in funky colors for a long time. They have always been popular with the competition shooting crowd. As I noted elsewhere, the pink guns especially are an appeal to female shooters from kids to adults. The other colors are indeed fun but let’s keep in mind that shooting IS fun. Guns are just as dangerous as cars and we don’t complain about the colors those come in.Report

  5. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    Okay, I for one am super bothered about pink guns for girls. There’s no clearer indication that these companies are treating guns like toys than that they decide to make a separate pink version for girls.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      Alan – there’s a huge trend in hunting gear towards pink stuff. It’s part of an effort to get more girls/women involved. A bit silly, but it works. It’s not really about making guns seem less dangerous. It’s about making them seem more ‘girly’.Report

      • Avatar Kimsie says:

        I find that whole trend irritating too… If you want to make things “pretty and girly” why not use purple?Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Because then you couldn’t use pink-slime marketing; wrapping inferior products in pink skins and marketing them to women for inflated prices?Report

  6. Avatar Lyle says:

    While I can see the point of no prosecution, yet in another sense, they are guilty of endangering a minor at a minimum. “I did not know the gun was loaded” is an excuse almost as old as the hills. But clearly in a home with minor children not having the guns in a gun safe or otherwise secured is negligent at best. So you might convict and put on probation, more to send a message to the community about gun safety. (After all a large part of the criminal justice system is to persuade folks to behave for fear of what might happen to them otherwise). Just for the sake of arguement assume the 2 year old had shot the 5 year old which was just as likley to happen since the gun was sitting around loaded. So in one sense would be not the shooting but the leaving of the gun loaded and unlocked.Report

  7. Avatar Heisenberg says:

    We don’t give five year olds car keys and we don’t give let 10 year olds drown their sorrows in alcohol. I fail to see why guns should be different.

    And to your point, LWA, I hear you. I stopped going to the range because people kept violating basic safety precautions. Gun culture is so thoroughly machoed up that basic safety is almost seen as an affront to people’s sensibilities. Even basic rules like keep your weapons pointed at the ground when you’re not aiming get frequently violated, and I’ve seen people show up *drunk* to the range.Report

    • Avatar Ken says:

      There are many, many things that fit in the blank of “We don’t give children the same access to ____ as we do adults,” some of them fairly fundamental rights – voting, executing contracts, marriage, birth control. It almost seems the default is to go the other way; if you want to put something in that blank, you need to have a good reason why we should do that. Which I think is a good thing, otherwise you wind up with NAMBLA trying to fill in “sexual relations with older men.”Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Well let’s see. I was operating the steering wheel on country roads, sitting on my Dad’s lap, when I was around 10. I was driving on a farmer’s property when I was 12–moving the car to the deer carcass we’d hauled down the mountain.

      I was drinking a small bit of wine with dinner at family celebrations and an occasional sip of beer at family picnics around 14-16.

      I started tagging along with my Dad deer hunting and bird hunting when I was 10 ish and had completed the hunter safety course about the same time. I had a cut down bolt action shotgun to fit my smaller frame from that age and I new about safe handling of firearms before I was 10.

      Basic firearm safety is NOT an affront to most people’s sensibilites–least the folks I used to hang out with. Everyone has usually been very conscious of it. It’s the rule vs the exception. However, I’ve seen the occasional safety violation and I stepped up and interceeded so no one was endangered–and actually improved folks fun. I’ve never been to a shooting event where alcohol was present unless the firearms had been locked up PRIOR to the boozes comming out.

      So, yah, guns haven’t been any different to me. I started driving, drinking, and shooting from an early age and learned how to do all of them responsibly. Of course, I don’t suffer fools in the car, in the bar, or on the range, but maybe that’s just me…..Report

  8. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    The issue shouldn’t be that kids are allowed to fire guns in supervised places, like shooting ranges or camps. Those places are safe. The issue should be that there are guns in homes that kids have access to, including kids guns that kids might be very excited about shooting that they have the ability to shoot at themselves and others. Having guns in the house, especially guns that kids (who love to act dangerously, let’s be honest) want to shoot, is a recipe for disaster.

    Here’s the American Association of Pediatrics telling you that you shouldn’t have a gun in the house with kids:

    “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reinforced its long-standing message that the safest home for children and teens is one without guns, while maintaining that it is not an “anti-gun” organization.

    Since its last policy statement on firearm-related injuries in 2000, new evidence has bolstered the position that the risks of injury, suicide, and death are higher in homes with guns, according to M. Denise Dowd, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and one of the lead authors of the policy statement.

    Thus, the guidance, published online in Pediatrics and released just days before of the Academy’s annual meeting, continues to say that the most effective way to keep children safe from firearm-related injuries and deaths is to keep guns out of homes and communities.

    Young children are curious and older children tend to be moody and impulsive, and “when you combine these traits of children and adolescents with access to guns, the consequences can be tragic and permanent,”

    If you own a gun, you are risking the life of your child. The best solution to create safety is to not own a gun. Second best is to store the guns in a way that restricts access. But if your main priority is child safety, you should take the best solution and not own guns, if it is at all possible to not do so. (Might not be possible for those who are farmers, or policemen, or those who have active death threats against them; we’ll leave that for another day, though maybe they could store their guns at work.)

    If your priority is having fun hunting and you keep a gun at home your children are less safe, no matter how carefully that you believe you have stored the gun. You are prioritizing the entertainment value of owning the weapon over your child’s safety.

    I’m a pretty responsible guy. I am smart and safety conscious. But I would never have a gun in a house with a kid. No matter how safe you think you are, we are all stupid and occasionally miss something. We leave doors unlocked. We forget to lock cabinets. We don’t realize that our depressed daughter saw where we hide the key to the cabinet. And it only takes one mistake for the gun to be out and for the kid to get it. Then dead kid. (But hey, hunting is fun.)

    I own birds. And birds can be killed by teflon pans heating up (the fumes are toxic to birds). I don’t even keep teflon pans in the house, because who knows. Maybe one day a friend comes in drunk and starts cooking. Boom, my beloved birds are dead. (I could use the pans sometimes too. Put the birds in another room, cook an omelette. But owning the pans is dangerous to the birds, and I prefer them over the birds lives safety over the fun of cooking with non-stick pans.)

    The same obvious lesson should be applied to kids. You might think you are storing your guns safely, but no matter how smart you are, you can miss things, make mistakes. Then dead child. Suicide. Murder. Accident.

    A child is killed by a gun every 30 minutes in the U.S.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

      I suspect a lot of those parents of the kids killed every 30 minutes thought that they were behaving responsibly.

      Maybe you could cut the children’s death rate by firearm by teaching parents to store guns safely. But you could cut it even more by telling them not to store guns in their house at all.

      I prefer the latter because I prefer children’s lives to the fun of being able to go hunting without having to pick your guns up from a rental place or storage facility.Report

      • Avatar Jason says:

        I seriously doubt that stat. Some quick arithmetic shows that would add up to over 17,520 killed. That’s about half the amount of all gun deaths in a given year. Combine that with the average number of suicides and there’s no gun crime at all: it’s all accidents and suicides. That’s the problem with this debate: someone reads some rhetrickery and starts quoting it as fact.

        Never mind that lots of things we own endanger the life of a child: cars, knives, medicines, etc. Ranges and camps are no safer than homes. Education is the key to safety. I do admire the fear mongering about “choosing priorities” and the phony “gun most likely to kill you” stat (that research includes suicides).

        That’s the other problem with this debate–anti-gunners repeat the same tired, often false, points like they’re new. Of course, so do pro-gun folks for the most part.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          There’s no question that a child is killed every 30 minutes. He’s named “Kenny”.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

          Sorry, that should say “killed or injured every 30 minutes”

          Over one person per minute is killed by a firearm.Report

          • Avatar Shazbot3 says:


            More than one person killed every 30 minutes.

            One child killed or injured every 30 minutes.


            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              “Child or teen,” it says. The “or teen” is doing most of the heavy lifting.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                Almost all of the heavy lifting, in fact. 86% of those deaths were “children” age 15-19, with only 6%, or 155, being under 10.

                One reason the distinction is important is that many, if not most, teenage homicides are gang-related and do not involve guns taken from their parents’ homes.

                Note also that only a third of the victims were white. Yet recreational gun use is an overwhelmingly white phenomenon, is it not? Perhaps recreational gun use is not so dangerous as you’re suggesting.

                Now, there were 750 suicides, but of course many, if not most, of those people would have killed themselves by other means if they hadn’t had access to guns. Despite the fact that about 60% of gun-related deaths in the US are suicides, the US does not, in fact, have an unusually high suicide rate. In fact, the US’s intentional death (homicide + suicide) rate is only slightly above average for wealthy nations, and is significantly behind those of Japan and South Korea, both of which have very strict gun control laws.

                So…yeah. That 2700 figure exaggerates severalfold the risks to your children attributable to keeping a firearm in your home.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

                500 kids under 15 per year.

                Lots of 15 and 16 year olds killing each other by accident, too. Suicides too.

                Gang related killings are in there too. I’d argue a 15 year old killing another 15 year old in a gang related killing is heavily the fault of the parent who bought the gun and our fault for not getting guns off streets and out of houses.

                Perhaps the data on 17 and 18 year olds should be removed, especially the homicides, Still that’s a lot of dead kids.

                Your paragraph on suicides disagrees with what the experts on suicide prevention say. It is true that there are more suicides in parts of Asia than the U.S. This is because of a relatively higher cultural permissibility of suicide there.

                In the U.S. we know that access to more lethal means of suicide increases the likelihood of succesfully committing suicide. And gun ownership increases suicide likelihood.

                “…researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that suicide rates among children, women and men of all ages are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the April 2007 issue of The Journal of Trauma.

                “We found that where there are more guns, there are more suicides,” said Matthew Miller, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at HSPH and lead author of the study.”


        • Avatar George Turner says:

          That’s worse than your previous math. One person killed per minute is 1,440 a day, which is almost 526,000 a year.

          May I ask what wacko news source is producing those figures?Report

        • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

          If you don’t need X and X makes children less safe, it is wrong to own X.

          If you need a car, it is okay to own one.

          If you need a gun, say because you are a cop, fine.

          But if you own a gun because hunting or shooting is fun for you, you are endagering your child needlessly.

          The American Academy of Pediatricians agrees with me.Report

          • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

            We should probably ban swimming pools for people with children.

            Trampolines too, for that matter.

            Give me a little while and I’ll think of some more.Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            What about bleach? You don’t strictly need bleach.Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

              You do need cleaning chemicals in certain situations. (Bleach products are needed for certain kinds of disinfectant cleaning that if not done could be dangerous.) I avoid keeping them in the house whenever possible.

              We do pass laws banning some chemicals from being kept and sold in homes because they are too dangerous and unnecesary. Other chemicals are needed in some cases and somewhat dangerous, so we allow them.

              Certainly, I wouldn’t produce a kind of bleach product that kids liked to use that encouraged 5 year olds to clean with bleach and another kind with ammonia.

              All these arguments are slippery slope and line drawing fallacies.

              We can regulate the more dangerous, less necessary things without regulating the less dangerous, more necessary things. We regulate cars, correctly, very heavily for safety, especially child safety. We need to do the same with guns.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

            According to this, twice as many “children” die each year due to alcohol than guns. How would you apply the principles outlined above to this information?Report

            • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

              Personally, I wouldn’t store hard liquor in a house with kids. (Actually, I pored out a bit of expensive vodka the other day when I knew my 12 year old niece was going to be in the house mostly unsupervised, not long ago. You never know.)

              I’d be in favor of punishing parents who behave recklessly with owning alcohol, especially if they stored the liquor in a way that kids could easily get it. Kazzy probably has a better solution than a straight up ban (which would be hard to enforce). If your kid gets sick or dies because you stored alcohol (or meth or heroin) in an unsafe way, then you should get punished.

              I’m more okay with banning guns from homes with kids than alcohol because the former might be enforceable if we had a licensure and registration system for guns. Register a gun at an address with kids, pay a big penalty and get a visit from social services.

              But if you think my solution is too heavy-handed, go with Kazzy’s.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      No, it’s not a child killed every thirty minutes, it’s a child killed every other day (about 200 a year in firearm accidents according to the CDC, slightly less than the number of children killed by riding with drunk drivers).

      Meanwhile two children a day die (four times as many) from being accidentally burned, the majority from scalding in households where the parents are irresponsible enough to use a stove to boil water. Two more a day die from poisoning.

      Two kids a day also die from drowning, and many parents intentionally expose their children to water, some even teaching their children how to swim, forever endangering their child’s life.

      Every couple of weeks a child is killed by a television, one of only the myriad 0f ways it messes up children.

      All told about 9,000 American children a year die from accidents, more than the total number of soldiers killed in Bush’s war for oil.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Two more a day die from poisoning.

        Well, sort of. In mortality statistics, “poisoning” is to all intents and purposes a euphemism for drug overdose. The category includes all kinds of poisoning, but the vast majority are drug-related.Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          Yes, but I filtered down to young children and poisoning via prescription pills or chemicals, as the overall mortality when you include adults and illegal drugs would produce a staggering number, similar to all traffic related deaths. Another odd thing is that accidental poisonings (with legal drugs) peaks among fairly old people (50’s or more), I guess because they have so many prescriptions to keep track of.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Let me start by saying that I don’t think guns should be illegal for parents of young children to own. Nor do I think there should be additional restrictions on their use or storage in such situations. However, as the AAP points out, guns do pose a real threat when kept in homes with children. As such, I think it is entirely fair that we hold parents responsible if and when something happens involving children and guns when both are under their care, especially if proper precautions are not taken. Exactly what “proper precautions” ought to be, I’ll leave for other, more knowledgable people to decide.

      But just as we’d want to pursue action against a parent that kept bleach in an unlabeled bottle in the fridge or a parent who tethered forks to electrical outlets or a parent who constructed a slide connecting a baby’s crib with a swimming pool, we should pursue reasonable action against parents who make unsafe decisions when it comes to children and guns.

      As I said below, gun owners often argue that they should not have their rights curtailed because of the actions of a few criminal or irresponsible people. And I agree. But I think that viewpoint must be balanced by consequences for folks who do act criminally or irresponsibly with guns. And it would seem to me that loaded guns in the hands of 5-year-olds (who, developmentally, do not fully appreciate the permanence of death and, thus, cannot fully appreciate the power of the weapon) or unsecured weapons in homes with children constitutes “irresponsible”.Report

    • Avatar Philip H says:

      I challenge you to find a single story in any media that says a kid was killed accidentally by a firearm that was properly locked up, with a trigger lock properly installed, with ammunition locked away separately. The Newtown killings don’t count, because we already know that the mother in question showed her son how to shoot – and possibly how to access her weapons and ammo – instead of getting him the mental health services he apparently needed.

      So yes, eliminating the gun from the home – or the teflon frying pan – will ensure that you and your home will not be the author of your own child’s demise from a misfired weapon. But as soon as that kid steps put in the world where others have guns in the home – including the aforementioned police officers – that child is at risk. Especially since they may never have seen a gun.Report

  9. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    Also, it should be illegal to have a loaded gun that isn’t locked up in a home with children. You wouldn’t catch many people doing it, but it should be illegal.

    The problem is that a gun that is supposed to be used in self-defense (ironically, given the stats that a gun is more likely to be used to kill a loved one or you than an intruder) is not as useful in the unlikely event of a home invasion if it is carefully locked away and unloaded. If you believe that you need the gun to defend agains home invasion, you also probably believe it needs to be unlocked and loaded.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      We should make a law against anything and everything that might somehow someway hurt somebody.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

        No, you should make laws against things that aren’t necessary that kill a lot of people, including 2500 children per year, around 500 of whom, are quite young.

        I would ban swimming pools in homes that had kids who couldn’t sim, too.

        Trampolines aren’t as dangerous, but I would avoid having them in the house.

        Cleaning products are necessary in modern life at least in some situations.

        This is all about drawing lines between things that are very dangerous and unnecessary and things that less dangerous and more necessary. Those lines won’t be as bright and sharp as nitpickers want them, but we as a a scoiety need to draw them. Indeed, we already do draw them, preventing children from being driven in cars without car seats, for example.

        Indeed, what is the difference between laws requiring people to not carry their children in cars in certain ways and laws requiring people to not carry guns in their houses in certain ways?Report

        • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

          “Trampolines aren’t as dangerous, but I would avoid having them in the house.”

          Well, yeah, if you had it in the house you’d bang your head on the ceiling.

          So you move it outside. Hey, trampoline! We’re allowed to have it, so it must be perfectly safe to do anything I can think of! I got an idea, let’s tip this bad boy on its side and throw bowling balls at it!Report

        • Avatar Patrick says:

          Shaz, the list of things that you don’t need and are dangerous to children includes a great number of things.

          Skateboards. Bicycles. Archery equipment. Half of the stuff in my garage. Most cleaning products. Plastic bags – about ten times as many kids suffocate or are strangled as are killed with guns.

          I really think you’re erring far too much on the side of caution. Kids die on bikes when they’re wearing helmets and obeying the laws of the road. People just die. It happens all the time.

          Eliminating the cause of a particular death doesn’t necessarily even change the rate at which people die. Kids who are under X years old don’t make proper risk assessments… whether one gets killed by wiping out on his skateboard without his helmet or drowns jumping off her roof and whacking her skull against the side of the pool… in the last decade, take a population of 8 million or so kids under the age of X and about 12,000 of them die each year from accidents (about half of those are vehicular, the other half are going to be largely self-induced accidents).

          We’re going to tell 8 million kids they can’t have a bicycle because a few hundred of them are going to get hit by somebody driving a car? They can’t ski or skateboard because about 8 in 1,000 are going to make a gross error in judgement and hit a tree?Report

          • You’re vastly exaggerating the dangers of plastic bags.

            “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received an average of about 25 reports a year describing deaths to children who suffocated due to plastic bags.”

            So guns are far deadlier to kids than plastic bags. Plus, it seems likely that nearly 100% of American households have plastic bags, while only a third have guns, so the discrepancy is even larger than it appears.

            Guns are designed to kill. It’s ludicrous to pretend that they’re less deadly than plastic bags. (If plastic bags are as deadly as you say, then why does anyone need a gun for self-defense? Just use a plastic bag. )

            Nonetheless, it’s perfectly reasonable to warn parents that it’s dangerous to leave an infant napping on a bed or sofa where there’s a plastic bag nearby (say a plastic bag full of clothes, or a plastic-covered garment from the laundromat lying on the bed). And it’s perfectly reasonable to warn parents that having a gun in the same house as a child is dangerous.Report

            • Avatar Patrick says:

              You’re vastly exaggerating the dangers of plastic bags.

              Sorry, I wrote that sentence badly. Suffocation kills ten times as many kids as firearm accidents. Granted, not all of those are attributable to plastic bags. But you’re missing the point for the semantic trees.

              Guns are designed to kill.

              I’ve brought this up on other threads and I’m not really interested in getting into it again here, but this is an oversimplification, and it can lead you to lots of bad places.

              And it’s perfectly reasonable to warn parents that having a gun in the same house as a child is dangerous.

              I have no problem with that.

              I have no problem with passing laws that provide criminal penalty in cases just like this one cited, because it seems pretty self-evident to me that you can train 5 year old kids to shoot but you can’t expect them to be responsible enough to check their weapon status, and any way you slice it this particular case looks to me to be a case of pretty clear cut criminal negligence.

              On the other hand, I can also imagine plenty of cases where you can take reasonable precautions against accidental misuse of firearms and the kids can bypass them anyway, at which point I don’t think a criminal negligence charge is warranted or justified.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    It goes without saying that the family of the two children made several tragic mistakes. They left the gun loaded, did not store it safely and gave the boy a gun he was not ready for.

    There is no gun in the world that a 5-year-old is ready for, unless an adult is standing right next to him and watching him every damned second. I don’t think that point is even arguable. (Worse still, he’d that the gun for a year, since he was 4.) If the manufacturer has a shred of integrity, they’re going to start emphasizing in their ads that it’s a weapon, not a fishing toy. And if they don’t have even a shred, well, they’re a gun manufacturer, and the money they spent lobbying for immunity from safety regulations was well spent.Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy says:


    Let me say that I agree with a lot of what you say here. As a teacher of young children (5-year-olds!), I believe that we often underestimate what children are capable of when given the opportunity to properly learn something. I often give my students kitchen knives to cut ingredients with when cooking, but only after going through several demonstrations about how to use them safely and all that jazz. So, I get you that there are a number of things we might immediately say, “A kid? DOING WHAT?!?! NONSENSE!” to but which can actually be done quite safely in the right circumstances.

    But, these were clearly not the right circumstances. Which is why I disagree with this section:
    “It goes without saying that the family of the two children made several tragic mistakes. They left the gun loaded, did not store it safely and gave the boy a gun he was not ready for. I trust our readers are wise enough to know that this is atypical of most gun owners. I rarely believe in criminal charges in these types of situations because no court can issue a punishment worst than what they are already receiving. ” (emphasis mine)

    I’m sorry, but there absolutely should be charges filed against these parents, no matter what torment they might be feeling. And I’ll construct this argument in two ways:
    1.) Gun owners often argue that their rights shouldn’t be infringed because of the actions of criminals and irresponsible people, which they (rightly!) point out are in the vast minority. But, when folks do act criminally and/or irresponsibly, that it behooves us to respond accordingly. What happened here shouldn’t necessary change what happens to their gun owning neighbors, but it absolutely should have consequences for the parents.
    2.) I’m going to go in a bit of a weird direction here, but I think it is important. The grief these parents feel is not the only harm done by their actions/inactions. Saying that they’ve suffered enough and therefore no further justice is warranted is wrong. Because if we take up that approach, than how can *anyone* argue against abortion access? If a 2-year-old’s death requires no more justice than the grief her parents feel, than why should the termination of a several-month old fetus require criminal proceedings against the parents and/or doctor? And while I’m not positive of your position on abortion, we all know that there is a high correlation between folks who are pro-gun and anti-abortion. So if folks who are both those things (and maybe you’re not one of them) are going to argue that we shouldn’t prosecute parents for the negligence they showed that resulted in the death of their child because grief is a strong enough punishment, I’d really like to see them make peace of those two positions.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

      I hate to wade into any kind of abortion argument, but your analogy is flawed. There is a difference between deliberately taking a life and causing a death through negligence. There is at the very least no requirement that one’s moral evaluation of the two acts should be the same. I would think that would be obvious.Report

      • Avatar Russell M says:

        why are they different? in the entirely real world a person-thing is dead in both cases. does leaving your childs loaded gun sitting in a corner of the room unsupervised and unlocked not indicate a callous disregard for life? i mean according to to most anti-abortion people an abortion is murder, so i dont see how leaving a lethal weapon out with no safeguards would not be at least manslaughter.Report

        • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

          I don’t know how to respond except to point out that criminal negligence causing death and manslaughter are distinct and well-defined categories with different elements, and different punishments mandated by the state. Leaving a loaded gun in a house where children have access to it may legally considered criminal negligence (I am not American and I do not even know the Canadian case law on the subject, but I suspect the answer might be yes), but it is certainly not manslaughter. Manslaughter requires, on a basic level, some kind of intent to injure. It is a distinct legal category.

          It is worth noting that manslaughter is still much less serious than murder, which, if you accept the pro-life position (which we are doing for the sake of Kazzy’s example, as Kazzy himself points out), is what an abortion is.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I recognize that the analogy is not perfect precisely because of intent, but in both scenarios a child’s life* is ended because of a preventable series of actions. I am not arguing that we outlaw guns or outlaw guns in households with children; only that we punish those who put children at needless risk. It surprises me that people who oppose abortion would not feel similarly. If you think that life is so sacred that it trumps the other conflicting rights that arise via abortion, I would think that you’d also consider it so sacred that it trumps the other conflicting rights that arise when 5-year-olds are positioned to shoot and kill 2-year-olds via their parents’ actions.

        * I know this language is getting a bit tricky because many do not see abortion as “ending a child’s life”, but those who oppose abortion certainly do and those are to whom I’m speaking.Report

        • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

          I don’t say that I disagree with you; I happen to think that penalties are appropriate in cases of negligence (though necessarily different penalties than would be implied in a case where, say, the parents deliberately shot their child).

          I take your earlier argument to imply that because grief exists in both the case of abortion and of negligent death by gun of an older child, it is inconsistent to argue for punishment in the one case and not the other (if I misunderstand you here, I apologize). My point was simply that there is enough difference between negligence and deliberate action for someone to hold a philosophically coherent position which calls for punishment of one but not the other. That does not mean that you need to come to the same conclusion, simply that your argument that it is necessarily incoherent is flawed.

          I hope this makes sense.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            That makes sense. And is fair. But I also think it is fair to ask people who wrap themselves in a “pro-life” cloak to explain why we should criminalize abortion but not criminalize putting guns in the hands of 5-year-olds. I’m sure arguments exist that can justify those stances, but the onus should be on those folks to make them and make them well.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Because putting a gun in the hands of a five-year old almost never results in death or injury (it’s probably safer than putting them on a bicycle, as long as they’re supervised), whereas abortion has a 100% fatality rate (ideally). To a pro-lifer, a more apt comparison would be whether we should have the same abortion penalty as we do for running through a daycare center shooting all the kids between the eyes.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      I probably should have left that part out of the OP because it gets into all kinds of legal arguments I am not knowledgeable enough about to have an opinion on. I think morally-speaking though, we don’t always need the government to add their own punishment on top of the pain a guilty person has already suffered.Report

  12. Avatar greginak says:

    FWIW…Kids can be responsible; kids can also be blood thirsty, irresponsible little maniacs who should be kept on a short leash.
    Story: Last summer i was biking on a trail right through scenic anchorage when i rolled up to a small bridge. A guy flagged me down saying there was a bear on the other side of stream. There was a fisherman with two 8-10 year old boys about 20 yards ahead scanning the trees at high attention.The adult had a pistol out, holding down to the ground. The bear and cubs wandered back and forth about 30 yards ahead behind some bushes. The adult had good discipline since there were houses in three directions only about 100 yards away. Any gun shot could hit a house. After a minute the bear clearly wasn’t’ going anywhere so we all moved back the way we came. The two young boys had both been cheering for their dad to shoot the bear. dumb, dumb kids ( the bear was partially hidden so it would be hard to aim, it was a hard handgun shot away, might not be taken down by a pistol bullet and had cubs so killing the momma bear would have been a loss) Kids; oyReport

  13. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I think a lot of people here make spot-on points.

    There are at least two very deeply divided cultures on this without any common language or ground between them. Not even a basic respect. I did not grow up in an environment where hunting or gun ownership was the norm. If anyone I knew as a kid learned to shoot guns, they certainly kept mum about it. And then on the other side, I see people who think that not teaching kids about guns or owning guns amounts to parental negligence.

    I worked briefly with a guy. Came to the United States as a young child, spent a good chunk of his life in the military. Has two young sons but not as young as the 5 year old. He mentioned around the office that we would leave guns around the house and they would have a bullet in them. I forgot if it was a blank or not. The kids were trained to discharge the gun and bring their dad the bullet.

    He thought this was responsible parenting and teaching his son’s proper gun safety. I thought he was absolutely fucking insane.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      I think we are all hoping his children never feel suicidal.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Has two young sons but not as young as the 5 year old. He mentioned around the office that we would leave guns around the house and they would have a bullet in them. I forgot if it was a blank or not.

      That’s kind of an important detail, isn’t it?

      The kids were trained to discharge the gun and bring their dad the bullet.

      Unload? To discharge a gun is to fire it.Report

    • Avatar kenB says:

      PEG had an interesting post on this topic a few months ago.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I read this article when it first came out.

        My problem with this line of argument is that it is always a one-way street. It is the burden of the non-gun people (presumably northern and western urban liberals) to take up the other culture. We are required to learn about proper gun use even though we do not like guns and don’t want them in our homes.

        What if I suggested a different burden in the name of cultural understanding? I grew up in the suburbs of NYC. My parent’s did not go hunting or own guns and were not gun people. But they did think it was important for my brother and I to be exposed to what is normally called “high” culture. This meant fairly frequent trips to the Met, MOMA, Guggenheim, Frick and Young People and the Orchestra concerts at Lincoln Center. I’m sure this helped turn me unto theatre and then I developed more avant-garde tastes as frequently seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival.

        My parents were also pretty liberal and thought it important to expose me to the controversial art of my youth like Pist Christ by Andre Serras. I think my dad’s comment upon showing me that piece of art was “Isn’t this cool?”

        What if I wrote a blog post saying that it is important for all non-art people to go do the above as a kind of moral responsibility? Especially art on the avant-garde. I would be accused of being an elitist, a snob, and all sort of nasty things that are not very common man.

        So I don’t see why gun-culture has any moral rights over me in terms of what I know or don’t know about guns.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Huh. I like this, New Dealer. Please let me add another cultural dimension.

          I grew up on a farm. So everyone who eats food should have to weed a row of peas, pick a bushel of beans, shovel a load of manure, and slaughter and dress a chicken or larger animal and then cook it, since farm culture is crucial to eating food.

          And everyone who listens to music should have to play an instrument.Report

          • Avatar Patrick says:

            FWIW, NewDealer, I think this is a grand idea all around and I bet a bunch of our culture wars would go away if people actually did as you suggest.Report

            • Avatar Kimsie says:

              Yeah. And I think that everyone ought to try going to the supermarket once every two weeks. For at least a month.

              Live how someone else lives, fuckers.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          New Dealer,

          I don’t believe in dismissing someone’s opinion on something just because they don’t have firsthand knowledge, so I don’t think there is an obligation of non-gun owners to become familiar with guns or do all of the heavy lifting in the two sides understanding each other.

          With that said, I do think it’s good for ALL kids to go through a gun safety class as part of their school curriculum every single year. It would take 30 minutes and would save lives. If that also creates some new level understanding when those kids grow up, that’s a bonus.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        BTW I am much more sympathetic to John Marshall than PEG. The guy’s that John Marhsall described were being assholes.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I thought both JMM and PEG made good points, but very much agree that the people JMM was talking about are arsewipes.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            PEG misses part of the point of JMM’s childhood story. Sure, if those people were responsible, the gun was unloaded and the safety was on. That still doesn’t excuse leaving it lying around within the reach of a 4-year-old.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          He was a great Chief Justice, but what does ….

          Oh, Josh Marshall.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I also can’t help but to think that idea of everyone knowing how to use a gun is to turn us all into gun people….

        Where is the other side of the coin? Where is gun people learning about how non-gun people feel on the issue.Report

        • Avatar LWA says:

          The fact that we can so accurately be sorted into “gun people” or “non-gun people” is itself a symptom of the underlying problem of why guns are so radically diffferent than say, chainsaws.

          If guns were viewed as nothing more than a piece of equipment used for sport, which is dangerous in the wrong hands, and which caused a statistically small number of accidental deaths each year, we wouldn’t be having this sort of discussion.

          But they aren’t. The number of gun owners who view them soberly and sensibly is small and getting smaller. The remaining core of NRA members is becoming the hard core who see them as a totem of their political worldview, a prop in their grievance against modern culture.

          It isn’t about balancing the rights of gun owners against safety precautions of society anymore- the debate has become part of the trench warfare of the rump base of the Republican Party versus the rest of America. Witness the recent background checks debate- even people who agreed it was a sensible measure refused to back it out of loyalty to the tribe.

          The idea that it is the gun control advocates who are being unreasonable is absurd. The rhetoric of the gun nuts is getting louder and more radical- (a fully armed march on Washington? Seriously? Carrying guns to Starbucks? WTF?).

          PEG’s argument that we could have a calm sensible discussion if only those wacky gun control advocates would learn how to handle guns is laughable- We are supposed to have a calm discussion with people who are convinced of FEMA camps and black helicopters as well as the fact that Obama is buying up billions of bullets to slaughter Americans?Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            One thing that I will admit is that some of my revulsion to guns might come from a being turned off by certain cultural tropes in the white, working class.

            San Francisco is now known as a very wealthy city. There used to be a strong white, working class component until fairly recently. This white, working class tended to be Irish or Italian Catholic and their neighborhoods were North Beach, the Mission and the Sunset districts. The white working class did white flight in the 1960s as Asians, Latinos, and the original hipsters (beatniks and hippies) moved into SF.

            I know a woman whose dad was part of this old-school white, working class San Francisco. According to my acquaintance any beer beyond Bud/Coors/Miller is “Fou Fou Beer” and any coffee beyond Folgers is “Fou Fou Coffee”. This is a big swipe at the craft beer and coffee revolutions currently happening in San Francisco.

            The woman (who grew up in a middle class suburb of SF) described her dad’s statements as him being “old-school Outer Mission.” My reaction to hearing how her dad describes craft beer and good coffee is with a certain kind of revulsion. I dislike the maschismo and outright homophobia of the comment. I dislike how it is patently wrong because craft beer is more alcoholic than Bud/Coors/Miller stuff. I do not find his comments to be charming in a salt of the earth kind of way.

            So I find myself at a paradox. I sympathize with the economic plight of the white, working class and the end of their labor but find myself turned off by the kind of statements above because they are not sophisticated or cosmopolitan or very tolerant.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              I think that you’ll find sentiments against the finer things in life are more widespread than just among the white-working class. We just tend to ignore them from other groups because of politics. There has long been a suspicion of culturally sophisticated people in this country and possible in the English-speaking world in general. The English were making fun of fancy French food since the 18th century while arguing for the superiority of roast beef.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            The number of gun owners who view them soberly and sensibly is small and getting smaller.

            Citation requested.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              It’s getting harder and harder to have a Northern Agression conversation with them.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              In this case, I think all the paranoid statements from the leadership of the movement and the silence from the rank and file are evidence enough.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                No, because you’re using volume to count numbers.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                Seems more like they used an active vote to count numbers. If the NRA weren’t full of crazy, then Wayne LaPierre and Jim Porter wouldn’t have passed the election process.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Again, you demonstrate that you cannot engage in a reasoned non-ideological debate.

                First, n0 matter what a crackpot LaPierre might be, a person might vote for him because they (mistakenly, imo) think he’s going to be the most effective person to protect their rights. And that has absolutely zero bearing on how they themselves handle guns and treat them.

                Second, the NRA claims to have about 4 1/4 million members, whereas their may be over 40 million gun owners in the U.S. So if only about 1/10 belong to the NRA, then you can’t say that the votes of a majority of NRA members actually represent gun owners in general.

                But, hey, you’re doing a great job of demonstrating just how ideologues pervert logic, so maybe you’re doing some kind of a public service.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                Would you please knock off the personal ad hominem attacks. You’re not even engaging in tu quoque, you’re just insulting me and others over and over with no reason to do so.

                I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve this and in fact I think I’ve not done anything at all to deserve it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                James, it seems to me that neither of the two arguments you made upthread refute RE’s claim that “the NRA is full of crazy”. All three of those views could be consistent.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Stillwater, what you say is true as it pertains to the NRA. The initial comment to which Hanley was responding to was “gun owners” in general. Can we argue that the NRA speaks for “gun owners” in a general sense? Well, the number that Hanley cites suggests that maybe not. That doesn’t, of course, mean they don’t speak for the NRA. Those aren’t the same question, which I think was what Hanley was getting at initially getting at.

                (He does say “majority of NRA members” later when the sentence makes more sense if he’d said “a majority of gun owners”… so I’m inclined to think he misspoke, though he can correct me on that.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I hear ya Will. Point taken.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                It’s a personal attack, but not an ad hominem. There is a difference.

                And I’ll be happy to stop insulting you the moment you stop valuing reason over ideology.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s a personal attack, but not an ad hominem.


              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                “And I’ll be happy to stop insulting you the moment you stop valuing reason over ideology.”

                I’m going to assume two things. First that you meant the word “start” in that sentence and second that you, despite being a member of this site with your own personal blog here, don’t really care about or else believe you have personal immunity from the commenting policy posted above.

                Instead of responding to my reasoned points you have engaged in personal attacks upon me, which I find both insulting and unbecoming since I don’t know anything about you personally. It is you, not I, who has invested in ideology and not reason and you, not I, who needs to stop doing so.

                Eye. Splinter. Beam. And all that sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Let’s try to stay away from personal attacks. If we do not believe we can honestly engage with somebody, we should refrain from doing so. Likewise, we should not suggest that those who do choose not to engage are “running away.”

                (On another note, James Hanley is not on the masthead – well, the masthead is presently down and under construction, but you get the drift – and does not have a subblog here. He does contribute guest-posts, however, as most readers are invited to do.)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Thanks for the correction on start/stop.

                I don’t have a personal blog here.

                Of course I’m not immune from the commenting policy.

                I did respond to your arguments.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie says:

                Man, this is fucked up. Fucked up beyond belief.
                Folks over on kos started an alternative to the NRA.

                So, what do you suppose happens? A lot of leftish
                gunowners join it. Therefore, the NRA drifts right.

                All normal.

                But you, you cite this as a reason that gun owners, IN GENERAL are getting crazier.Report

            • Avatar LWA says:

              The number of gun owners is shrinking, as a percentage of Americans.

              Yet the rhetoric of the NRA has become more angry, more filled with paranoia and grievances. It has become more and more conflated with the rural culturally conservative worldview. Exhibit A- any sentence uttered by Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, compared to past spokesmen such as Charlton Heston.

              So the percentage of gun owners (like me) who are not part of that worldview is small and getting smaller. The idea that there is some vast silent majority of sensible gun owners out there is wishful thinking.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Be wary of any poll about gun ownership, since most gun owners will not tell a stranger if they own a gun because ownership got politicized. By the poll you cited, 50% owned guns thirty years ago but now only 32% do, yet virtually no one got rid of their guns. In 1980 people weren’t afraid that someone was going to try and take their guns away or put their name on some list. Then Reagan got shot, the Brady’s started pushing for a pistol ban, and gun owners have been hunkered down ever since.

                Wiki reports that about 43% of Americans own a gun, while a Gallup poll from the mid-1990’s reported that 43% of women said they had a gun at home, and noted that apparent shifts in gun ownership were probably due to changes in willingness to admit to gun ownership, not actual gun ownership.

                More simply, if gun ownership is dropping how come gun stores have been swamped with first time buyers?Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                “More simply, if gun ownership is dropping how come gun stores have been swamped with first time buyers?”

                [[citation needed]]Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                That’s what I got when I put “first time gun buyer” into the google. First link.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie says:

                Most rural folks got a gun. I dont’ want to say that most rural folks are crazy (the ones that think arson is Fun are an EXCEPTION!)Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          I also can’t help but to think that idea of everyone knowing how to use a gun is to turn us all into gun people….

          Not quite that, as just so that you develop what they see as a more complete understanding of guns. They don’t care if you become a gun person; they just hope that the experience leads you to be less anti-gun.

          And there’s some reason for thinking it would work. I have a friend who is a firearms instructor, and he’s taught a good number of people who are badgered into it by friends, and who come in being fairly anti-gun or just scared of them. In most cases they leave him being much more comfortable with guns and less intrinsically opposed to them.

          So gun owners who feel that popular opinion ultimately threatens their gun ownership rationally see introducing anti-gun folks to guns in a controlled learning environment as a way to protect themselves by shifting public opinion. But they don’t really care if you never buy one yourself and never go back to the range.

          Of course if you’re on the other side of the fence, you might want to discourage people from taking gun courses, to ensure they don’t experience that transformation in views. ‘Tis all a political battle, and both sides need as many allies as they can get.Report

          • Avatar Murali says:

            I am rifle trained but I do still find my instincts on the anti-gun side of the issue. I’d bet most of my fellow Singaporean men who are rifle trained feel the same way. And this is even though Guns are not illegal (though they require a permit) and the Singapore Rifle Association is the oldest sports club in Singapore.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Same for me, actually. I grew up around guns and gun people (hunting, target, ritualistic gun cleaning (!!)). Those experiences shaped my current views, which tend to fall further to the left than gun people are comfortable with.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                I’m standing in this swamp, too. I grew up around hunters; there was always at least one gun in the house.

                I shot a deer when I was 12 — on my own. We’d been living on army surplus food (the precursor to food stamps) and what came out of the garden. Meat was scarce. So I took the rifle that had been my grandfather’s, climbed a tree in the abandoned apple orchard on our farm, and waited. Patience in the wild is a hunter’s friend, and it was certainly mine that day. It probably took 45 min. for the doe to approach (now, you need a permit to get a doe. Then, a 12-year old on his/her own land didn’t need anything, including an adult). I shot her in the head. I did need help hauling her back to the house; and my mom made me do most of the dressing, though I had help from my brother-in-law.

                I don’t consider this an episode in guns; I’d been taught how to use one, and didn’t blow myself out of the tree when I shot that doe with one clean shot.

                But I do consider this an essential part of my education as a cook.

                And I think there’s a world of difference between what I did and the notion of needing a gun to be ‘safe.’Report

              • Avatar Kimsie says:

                Try giving a 9 year old a gun and telling him to go off and scare off the black bear (after the farmers’ honey, natch)…. oh, did i forget to mention? Without telling his parents…Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            “Not quite that, as just so that you develop what they see as a more complete understanding of guns. They don’t care if you become a gun person; they just hope that the experience leads you to be less anti-gun.”

            But doesn’t this apply to *anything*?

            Here, let’s try…
            “Not quite that, as just so that you develop what they see as a more complete understanding of welfare. They don’t care if you become a welfare person; they just hope that the experience leads you to be less anti-welfare.”
            So let’s make everyone live below the poverty line for a few months!

            “Not quite that, as just so that you develop what they see as a more complete understanding of drugs. They don’t care if you become a drugs person; they just hope that the experience leads you to be less anti-drug.”
            Free crack for everyone!

            “Not quite that, as just so that you develop what they see as a more complete understanding of homosexuality. They don’t care if you become a homosexual person; they just hope that the experience leads you to be less anti-homosexual.”
            Well… I’m sure you can imagine how we might accomplish that…

            What makes guns unique such that those who oppose them or are uncomfortable with them or support their regulation must bear the burden of understanding them better?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              To some extent, yes. It’s just that old “walk a mile in his shoes” business. And pro-gun people are just playing off it. Sure, most people who’ve never experienced living on welfare would be more likely to have a more sympathetic view toward it if they had to for a while. And we know that anti-gay rights people often become more sympathetic when they realize someone they’re close to is gay (the Rob Portman experience).

              I didn’t make any faint stab at suggesting guns were unique in this case. And yet it’s not necessarily applicable to everything. Giving people experience with meth addiction isn’t likely to make them more favorable toward meth. And forcing straight people to experience gay sex is surely different than teaching them to shoot a gun, since the sexual attraction is much deeper, more biologically based, while the like/dislike of guns is surely dominantly a matter of cultural experience.

              But overall, absolutely nothing unique about guns. And that was really my point–gun owners are just using a really standard approach to try to change opponents into allies. The fact that it often words–not always, and I in no way challenge Murali’s and Stillwater’s experiences–suggests it’s a smart political tactic. But just a smart political tactic, not a desire to convert everyone into driving pickup trucks with rebel flags and loaded guns mounted on the rear window gun rack (not that ND actually went that far; just riffin’).Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                That’s fair. But I don’t think it is an obligation on the part of non-gun owners, which some people seem to be indicating (unless I’m reading them wrong).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you agree that these people would have different opinions if they were more informed, that’s good enough for me.

                We can agree that it’s not incumbent upon them to become more informed before they start imposing policy on other people, if we agree on that first part.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                I don’t know, I think that we already by and large fail to do the due diligence in informing ourselves about the relevant issues and that we could and should do more to inform ourselves before we vote.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I agree that people *might* have different opinions if they were more informed.

                But I think there are many ways in which one can become more informed. I don’t think owning a gun makes one any more of an expert on the issue of a national gun policy than does being well read on statistics.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Whether “owning a gun makes one any more of an expert on the issue of a national gun policy” is not even an issue that I’m addressing. I think the nature of the gun debate in the U.S. makes it exceptionally hard to recognize when someone is not talking about that, but just analyzing the purpose and effectiveness of a political strategy.

                The issue of whether one is “an expert on gun policy” has no relevance to what I’m saying. I’m talking about whether a particular political strategy can affect how people think about it.

                And I’m not claiming it will change everyone’s minds. I’m saying it will have an effect on some folks’ thinking, in a direction that pro-gun people would identify as positive. So encouraging people to try out guns is an effective strategy for the pro-gun crowd to use.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                See, I wasn’t even talking about becoming an “expert” (put on this blindfold, now put this handgun back together) or owning a gun.

                I’m just talking about something like “taking a gun course” and “learning how to shoot”.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                That’s fair, JB. I’ve gone to the range with some friends who were strong gun advocates, but also highly responsible gun owners. My time with them definitely gave me a more nuanced position on gun culture. However, I’m also not particularly anti-gun or pro-gun control, as much as I’m pro-gun responsibility and pro-culpability for those who fail to demonstrate such responsibility.

                But, as a political strategy, would it be fair to argue that pro-gun folks attend the funerals of children killed by guns? Should we have demanded that they look at the pictures and read the bios of the victims of Newtown? Or would that be too emotionally manipulative?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Sure, and as a followup, we can go to the funerals of folks who were shot in cities that had gun control laws that were representative of the gun control laws that we’re pushing for.

                And then we can ask about what the laws were in the places where they went to the most funerals.

                That way, we can even tie in “statistics” to the exercise.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                And then we can tie logic in by teaching them about post hoc ergo propter hoc. And when we ask “Why are all the public spokesmen for the NRA such buttholes?” they can say “Tu quoque!”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                would it be fair to argue that pro-gun folks attend the funerals of children killed by guns?

                I would assume that the friends and family of the kid discussed in the OP will be at his funeral.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Sure. Then we can visit women who were raped at gunpoint. And on and on we go.

                The question is, which of these do we ACTUALLY consider appropriate? And if the only appropriate steps are ones that can be taken by gun-control advocates to better understand gun culture, I see this being the case for two reasons: the gun culture people are objectively right -or- the gun culture people cannot be expected to move on their position.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “I would assume that the friends and family of the kid discussed in the OP will be at his funeral.”

                And I’d be curious if they plan on letting the 5-year-old handle guns any time soon.

                If they’re not, might we conclude that 5-year-olds, in general, shouldn’t?

                (Edited to make clear who I was responding to.)Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Raped at gunpoint? That’s probably a good example of the incorrect assumptions and misunderstandings gun owners hope familiarity and education will address. Guns are very rarely used to commit rape (Any felon quickly figures out that an easy-to-use lethal weapon is the last thing you want within a victim’s reach while you’re trying to get your pants off). They are a -pretty reliable deterrent, however.

                My caving partner got blocked in by a carload of drunk teens at the end of a remote forest service road deep in eastern Kentucky. The leader was the notorious son of the local sheriff. He got out and leered, “Watch’a doin’ little lady?” as his teen gang giggled in the car. She was eating lunch on the gate of her pickup, and always prepared, slid her .357 around and said, “target shooting.” After that they were just dust and taillights bouncing down the road.

                Not everyone lives in a brightly lit city full of crowds and police cars. Gun laws that might appease effete urban Starbuck’s patrons might be suboptimal for nurses who work the night shift in the boonies.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                “Not everyone lives in a brightly lit city full of crowds and police cars. Gun laws that might appease effete urban Starbuck’s patrons might be suboptimal for nurses who work the night shift in the boonies.”

                But the pro-gun crowd seems unwilling to acknowledge the reverse position that gun laws that work out in the boonies may not be the correct approach in urban environments?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think it’s because “Let Boston be Boston and let the boonies be the boonies!” inevitably turns to “the reason Boston laws don’t work is because guns get smuggled in from the boonies! We need Boston laws in the boonies!!!”

                I can find an example of this, if you’d like.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                National Review just had a piece that addressed that very thing.

                NR linkReport

              • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

                I think it’s because “Let Boston be Boston and let the boonies be the boonies!” inevitably turns to “the reason Boston laws don’t work is because guns get smuggled in from the boonies! We need Boston laws in the boonies!!!”

                No. We need Boston laws in Boston and laws in the Boonies that don’t actively undermine Boston laws. That means having laws against gun-running and active involvement of authorities in the gun-fun states to curtail that activity.

                And it might mean repeal of some of the ridiculous restrictions on record-keeping at the Federal level that hamstrings investigation of those kind of crimes by the FBI and ATF.

                If we can’t get a handle on the problem of guns from Virginia ending up in Boston, then that’s when the freedom of Virginia gun-lovers starts being threatened.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie says:

                +1 to Rod.

                George, a friend of mine has been fired on (-relatively- unprovoked) while lost in rural America. So, yeah, target shooting may keep one woman safe. “Defending your illegal whiskey still” almost got a friend of mine killed. [not aimin’ to talk about morality of distilleries, legal or otherwise]Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

                “We need Boston laws in Boston and laws in the Boonies that don’t actively undermine Boston laws.”

                So it *is* “Boston laws don’t work because of the boonies, so we need Boston law in the boonies too”, then.Report

              • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

                So it *is* “Boston laws don’t work because of the boonies, so we need Boston law in the boonies too”, then.

                You’re at 50%. Try engaging the rest of your brain and try again.

                It’s about jurisdictions like Boston and Chicago having a mutually respectful and cooperative attitude and working relationship with places like Virginia and Indiana.

                It’s about Virginia and Indiana honestly asking themselves what measures they can take to reduce gun smuggling from their jurisdictions into places like Boston and Chicago. This would be in contradistinction to the currently prevailing attitude of “Fuck those city fucks!”.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                I’m just talking about something like “taking a gun course” and “learning how to shoot”.

                The latter, in particularly, represents a significant amount of time and effert. What do you propose the pro-gun people do as an equivalent?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Learning how to shoot doesn’t take that much time and effort. Becoming very proficient does, but you can teach someone how to shoot in less time than it takes to teach them safe handling.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It does? I was more thinking about a Saturday afternoon level of commitment.

                What do you propose the pro-gun people do that’s about the size of a Saturday afternoon? The folks above have discussed “going to a funeral”. Would that suffice?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Not seeing the point. I’ve shot guns, and got to where I could hit the empty soda cans we were aiming at an appreciable part of the times. It didn’t make me want to own one, or learn more about them, or think they’re good presents for five-year-olds.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Perhaps we could pass a law saying that children cannot own guns until they are 21.

                This would also have the benefit of addressing the issue of school shootings.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                It hasn’t been claimed here that everyone responds that way. My friend the gun instructor claimed that most of the people who taught responded that way. So if his experience is generalizable, then this is a good strategy for pro-gun folks to pursue. If his experience is not, then it’s not a good strategy. But nowhere is there a claim that everyone will necessarily respond that way.

                It’s really that simple, and I can’t see what logical objection anyone could make to it. Of course you haven’t made a logical objection–you just said your experience was different. You’re only addressing your own experience, not the logic of the argument itself.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I’ll do ya one better…

                How about we outlaw any child under the age of 10 even handling a gun?
                And allow children between 11 and 17 to handle guns with proper supervision, but also hold their parents/guardians who have signed off on their gun handling culpable for any harm done?
                And once they hit 18, they’re on their own, with full rights and responsibilities?
                Would that work?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Could I get an answer to a couple of quick questions, first?

                How much do you think that law will change anything?

                The second question would be “we’re talking state laws, right? Not federal?”Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Most of the people who chose to sign up and pay your friend for gun lessons wound up with a positive attitude towards guns. Hmmm. I wonder if there’s any reason that wouldn’t generalize to the population as a whole.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I think if these parents were charged and other parents whose children harmed others with guns, we’d perhaps start to see parents taking greater responsibility and care. And I think, more importantly, it’d move the needle towards allowing responsible gun owners to engage in their gun ownership responsibility while also allowing irresponsible gun owners to be rightfully barred from gun ownership. Because, right now, a lot of people seem to talk about responsible gun ownership but balk at any step to prevent irresponsible gun ownership.

                And, yea, sure, state laws. Whatever. Personally, I’m not all that interested in the mechanics of it. I believe in doing what is right and doing so either A) within the existing framework for taking steps to do what is right or B) after taking the appropriate steps to adjust the framework.

                So if the Constitution currently requires that such gun laws happen at the state level, I hope each state would enact such a set of laws. If that were impossible, I’d seek an amendment allowing the laws to be enacted federally.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                And now I’ll ask you a question… would you sign off on these laws? If not, why not?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Eh. I wouldn’t sign off on those laws (as in, if they were put on the ballot, I would vote against them) because I imagine that they’d be enforced selectively against a certain type of people while folks from the good castes wouldn’t have to worry about it.

                I believe in doing what is right

                Oh, is that what makes your position different from mine? I was wondering.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “Oh, is that what makes your position different from mine? I was wondering.”

                No. But if you want to read it as such, such is your right. I mean, I’m pro-doing what’s right. There’s nothing wrong with declaring myself as such, right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No, go for it. It’s good to get that stuff out there. Lord only knows what laws we could pass if we could just establish that we were doing what is right.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Just to make clear, I made that statement in the broader context of what mechanisms I’d take to pass my desired legislation. I would not circumvent the Constitution, as many people seem very willing to do.

                I’m on record several times over that I tend to think most people advocate doing what they think is right; we just tend to disagree on what the right course of action is.

                But, hey, if you want to completely reverse course on an earlier argument you took and say that I shouldn’t consider myself doing what is right (while no where saying that other people are doing wrong), by all means, do whatever you need to do to make your point, which I’m still not really clear on, as is usually the case.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Dude, my position was, and remains: “If you agree that these people would have different opinions if they were more informed, that’s good enough for me.”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                @Mike Schilling,

                Most of the people who chose to sign up and pay your friend for gun lessons wound up with a positive attitude towards guns. Hmmm. I wonder if there’s any reason that wouldn’t generalize to the population as a whole.

                Congratulations, Mike, you’ve come to a very convenient conclusion based on a misrepresentation of my comment. Now perhaps you’ll go back and read what I originally wrote, and actually get it right this time.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Lord only knows what laws we could pass if we could just establish that we were doing what is right.

                +1 This comment is both terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time. Profound in either case.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Something I agreed *might* be the case; some people’s opinions would stay the same.

                But you also seemed to balk, sarcastically so, at my position that gun owners might be “more informed” by attending the funerals of children gun violence victims. So, I’m curious exactly what steps you think are in bounds and out of bounds when it comes to making people more informed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’re reading The First Circle with us, right?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                No. Why?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                (I meant Stillwater but you should probably read it too. Why? It’s Solzhenitsyn! It’s great literature! More than that, it’s readable apart from the fact that he switches from referring to a person using his last name to referring to a person using his first name and you’re stuck having to remember any given person’s full name to keep up with the narrative in any given chapter. Oh, but it also explores such things as the futility of doubling down when it comes to attempting to change culture using law.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Heh… sorry. I’d probably struggle with it. Plus I have a ton of books on my list. But sounds interesting. Enjoy.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Oh S***! I’m not reading that stuff since a bunch of Terry Pratchett got in the way. I’m going out with my wife for the night and will pick up the thread when I can. And since you’ve excited my curiosity I’ll get the book and catch up to where ya’llrat for next week.

                Thanks JB.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I don’t think it is an obligation on the part of non-gun owners,

                Of course not. Except to the extent that if they want to engage in extensive arguments that go beyond statistics and start talking about guns and gun culture, they, like all of us, really ought to do the research it takes to really know what they’re talking about.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                But isn’t the same true of the pro-gun side? Owning a gun isn’t sufficient either. You can’t say, “Well, I own a gun and never killed anyone so damn the statistics”. Gun policy is different than gun culture.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                If there’s something the anti-gun side can introduce pro-gun folks to that they aren’t already familiar with and that might change their perspective, then I would expect them to do so. I have no idea what that something would be, though.

                This is why, as appropriate and legitimate as it is for anti-gun folks to cite the statistics, those numbers won’t move pro-gun folks–because the pro-gun folks are already familiar with the statistics and still hold their pro-gun positions; so obviously some thing that is new to them will be necessary if anti-gun folks hope to change their minds. That’s not to argue against continued citing of the statistics, though, because they’re probably effective in shaping the ideas of those who don’t have a settled opinion before hearing them. In fact the pro-gun crowd’s encourage of people to get some gun experience may simply be a strategic response to the anti-gun crowd’s success–get those who aren’t totally anti-gun some gun experience, and maybe it will offset the effectiveness of the statistics.

                In case it’s not clear, I’m not making an argument for or against either side. I’m just talking about the purpose and likely effectiveness of political strategies.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I see you’re coming at this from a different angle, James, so apologize for whatever extent we were talking past each other.

                But on this point:
                “…because the pro-gun folks are already familiar with the statistics and still hold their pro-gun positions.”

                Are we sure they are familiar with the stats? I’m sure some are. But we can’t assume they all are.

                Just like we can’t assume that all folks who are anti-gun (or pro-gun control) have never taken a gun safety course or held a gun.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Because it appears we risk setting up a scenario wherein the only people who can or will move are the gun control people. That’s a problem, no?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Are we sure they are familiar with the stats?

                Good point. I should have said “familiar with the stories.” So more stories probably can’t move them. But maybe not actually familiar with the stats. The trick, then, would be to actually get them to actually consider the stats.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I think the question is, what does each side (or each group, presuming there are more than 2), seek to accomplish?

                Me, I want gun owners to be responsible and careful… exceedingly so. And when they fail to do so, I want them to be prosecuted.

                And if we reach a point where we can say a particular behavior is inherently unsafe or irresponsible, we outlaw it and prosecute people who engage in it whether or not it results in harm.

                So, while we can point to gun deaths and say, “Guns kill people!”, we can also point to how rare it is that any particular gun or any particular gun owner has killed anyone with one. Thus, we should prosecute people who kill people with guns but allow the rest of people to own them responsibly.

                However, if we see, based on stats or other factors (see my OtC post) that young children cannot be trusted to handle guns safely, they should be barred from doing so and any parent who allows them should face consequences.

                The thing is… does this make me pro- or anti-gun? Depends who ya ask, I guess. Both sides probably hate me.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                “Me, I want gun owners to be responsible and careful… exceedingly so. And when they fail to do so, I want them to be prosecuted.”

                Doesn’t prosecuting them necessarily mean making laws against irresponsible behavior?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “Doesn’t prosecuting them necessarily mean making laws against irresponsible behavior?”

                Um, yes. Is there a problem with that?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Let me clarify what I think you meant and what I mean…

                Is spinning a gun around one’s finger like they used to do in old tv shows responsible? Absolutely not. Should we make a law specifically outlawing that? Probably not. But if someone engages in the behavior and the gun goes off and shoots someone or damages property, I think Mr. Spinny Gun should be prosecuted accordingly. If we find that a great number of people are spinning guns and a decent enough percentage of those guns are firing and harming people or property, then it might be appropriate to bar the practice and prosecute those who engage in it regardless of the outcome.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Hey, I bought a Glock 9mm just to practice gun spinning. I never used it for anything else, and spinning a gun is harder than it looks. The Glock got dropped a lot, but Glocks are so ugly that it’s pretty difficult to make them any uglier, which is why I chose a Glock for gun twirling.Report

              • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

                Apropos of nothing, but I recall one night about thirty years ago I went to the house of a friend of a friend to score some weed. Walked in the door and there sat a city cop, in full uniform and stoned to the gills, showing off his gun twirling skills. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen anyone do that.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Well, finally Irving got three slugs in the belly.
                It was right outside the Frontier Deli.
                He was sittin’ there twirlin’ his gun around,
                And butterfingers Irving gunned himself down.

                Big, fat Irving.
                Big dum-dum Irving.
                Big dum-dum dead Irving.
                The hundred and forty-second fastest gun in the West.

        • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

          The theory is that if we all “learn to use guns” we will all “learn to love guns.”

          In the same way that if we all tried cocaine we’d all be crack-heads.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            I’ve preemptively explained why both of your sentences are wrong.Report

            • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

              No. You haven’t. There’s a psychological addiction factor on the pro-gun side that they aren’t willing to acknowledge.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Yes, I did. And your link has no relevance because I’m not talking about getting people psychologically addicted.

                But I’ve read enough of your arguments here to know that having a reasoned non-ideological conversation with you is impossible, so I’ll leave it at that.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                No you didn’t, and please consider that if you run away from the conversation you are openly admitting you have nothing constructive to provide to it.

                I suppose I should have expected that, though. I already pointed out that gun nuts don’t want to discuss the real problem of psychological addiction to guns, which has led to less gun owners and more stockpiling and fanatic behavior among the remainder. Presuming you are pro-gun, you will doubtless run from this conversation because you can’t argue the facts.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                I shall assume that James Hanley after insulting me one final time has indeed run away from the conversation but I have one final point to make.

                First of all I admit this is an anecdote and as such not data but I believe it illustrates my point.

                I am not a “gun person.” I don’t own guns. I am however reasonably proficient. About once a year I go to the range with a friend of mine because he likes to go shoot with friends around his birthday. I’ll happily shoot with him. We have a good time doing it.

                5 years ago he owned 4 guns, two pistols one rifle one shotgun. He had owned the same stock for over a decade. Then the tenor of the debate changed, right around Obama’s election and the rise of the current insanity from the NRA. Today he owns 15 and keeps talking about buying more. He has actually purchased a second gun safe to hold them all in properly locked up.

                When I have asked him why he would keep accumulating far more guns than he could ever use he has repeated some of the chatter constantly from the right wing about how “Obama is going to take away our guns” and “if I don’t get them now they might get banned” and so on and so forth.

                This is not healthy. He’s gone from a man who owned some guns, was licensed to carry, and was responsible with his weapons to a man who is engaging in some serious addictive hoarding behavior. It worries me.Report

              • Avatar Rogue Economist says:

                @James Hanley, above: No, you’ve not responded to this. You’ve danced around and declared the psychological addiction question irrelevant, you’ve insulted me personally multiple times for bringing it up, but you have not answered it with any form of reasoned argument.

                The assumption by the pro-gun side is that if everyone “knew guns” then everyone would “love guns.” That anyone who is not on their side of the giant we-dare-you line in the sand that they stand opposite to while promising to shoot anyone who disagrees is in fact uninformed.

                I’m the precise sort of person they think ought to “love guns” because I’m informed. I know how to handle guns. I choose not to own them for very good reasons. I see and agree with reasons for reasonable laws and restrictions regarding gun ownership, carriage, and use. I ought to be on the side of the NRA or at least the NRA that existed 30 years ago but instead of meeting us in the middle and working out compromises that everyone can live with the thugs showed up and took over the NRA and now the only word from their side is a shout that either they get their way or they come back with loaded weapons to march on DC.

                The NRA and the gun nuts are the ones who derail any chance of a real conversation.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Hopefully He’s buying AR-15s so when another “assault weapon” ban hits, he can PROFIT by selling a few under the table to folks who missed out when they were legal.

                Smart man.Report

              • Avatar Citizen says:

                Notice there is little conversation about “society nuts”. I think every society nut should have to go to every funeral their society creates. (especially including suicides)

                There are some very good points made by the anti gun side. The one that stands out for me : “we have the right to not be shot”
                It’s clear, to the point and not wrapped completely in politics and was more individual based.

                I’ve seen specific hoarding behavior more than most and say it is mostly an anti statist sentiment manifested in collection of arms. Hell no its not healthy. The proliferation of AR-15 lower receivers just makes me shake my head. The “good intentions” are creating reactions that wouldn’t normally exist. But so goes the “telling” of bastards and hold mu beer folks.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Citizen says: I’ve seen specific hoarding behavior more than most and say it is mostly an anti statist sentiment manifested in collection of arms. Hell no its not healthy. The proliferation of AR-15 lower receivers just makes me shake my head.

                I take that hoarding behavior to mean that gun-rights advocates not only fear stricter regulation, but expect it to be reality. And given the complete lack of political will to make that a reality, it suggests that they kindasortamight think it needs to be a reality to control their own hoarding mentalities.Report

              • Avatar Citizen says:

                @ zic,
                A contract broken is a contract borken. It’s a trend that doesn’t push outside the realm of possibility as of late. What would you do if society broke contract with you?

                It doesn’t take much to play off the fear does it? Fear is not rational and it spends both ways.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                There is a difference between walking away and running away. I am happy to leave you with the last substantive word. But I do want to make one correction. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun. In several different places on this thread I have taken pains to note that I was not making an argument either for or against guns. I have had some (not much) training and experience with guns. I own no guns, nor have I ever owned guns. I have friends with guns, but have not gone shooting with any of them since 2004. The last time I fired a gun was when I had the opportunity to observe Marine Corps training in, iirc, 2011, at which time all us observers got to take a handful of shots from an M-16 and a 9 mm pistol. I’m fairly neutral on the gun issue, with considerable sympathy for both sides.

                You assumed I was making a pro-gun argument, or at least had a pro-gun position when all I was doing was evaluating the reasons for, and likely effectiveness of, gun owners’ encouragement of others to experience guns–it was pure strategic analysis, no more. But you seem to have difficulty grasping that someone could talk about this issue without staking out a pro or anti position. That is a sign of your ideological bias. I do not condemn your position on guns (like I said, I have sympathy with your side); I only condemn your inability to look at my arguments without the ideological blinders that caused you to misconstrue my argument as a pro-gun position.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Well given that there was an actual Assault Weapon Ban which eventually expired, and there was, and still is, talk about renewing it, buying something that has a chance of being made illegal again isn’t an unwise decision.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie says:

      You’d say (if I can put words in your mouth) that going to other countries is a positive experience, that leads to growth.

      Given that: “I see people who think that not teaching kids about guns or owning guns amounts to parental negligence” is probably a somewhat true statement. Because there are a lot of places (not all in this country) where knowing how to use a gun is a survival skill.Report

  14. Avatar DBrown says:

    When you make this irresponsible statement “The problem here is that this represents a view just as extreme as those that believe in full access to all guns for everyone” you really show how extreme gun nuts really can be. So, by this logic, children should have legal access to deadly drugs like tobacco, or full strength alcohol? What about porn or even sex? Because unlike adults, by this logic, children are completely ready to handle deadly substances/behaviors; that statement by you is just out and out ridiculous. Even if one uses the twisted logic ‘under adult supervision’ do these drugs/behaviors are then proper? That is the worse statement I’ve seen outside of what that totally stupid and nutcase nra leader has said.Report

  15. Avatar DBrown says:

    I should add that yes, I do believe that many young children across a range of ages could safely handle fire arms after careful instruction but a huge number would be unable and that is the issue here – other children and adults will die as a result (and do.)

    Saying that all children should have a right to have access to guns is the issue here. No child (here I’m being arbitrary) under the age of consent (by State law) should be allowed to own a fire arm and use it as they please (really, if a child can give consent to sex, I believe they are old and mature enough (in general) to be considered responsible if trained in gun use) – but for younger children this should, at best, only be considered at a gun range under tight control after careful safety training and never allowed free access until old enough.

    Maybe that would be an acceptable idea but why should such young children even have guns? Is operating a gun as important as academics in today’s world? Or even just learning to maybe read first? I mean some people are arguing that a five year old can freely operate guns yet can’t even read – that is not reasonable argument for free access to real guns – these are weapons always designed to kill (yes, I know hunting animals is a ‘sport’ but people are animals as well and do become targets by accident or possibly design when an immature child just points and does not realize the real danger.)Report

  16. Avatar zic says:

    A second cousin shot and killed another cousin in a hunting accident when they were both in their early teens. I do not recall anyone in that branch of my family hunting after this.

    I would want to hear this family’s judgment on the freedom of guns; not now, but maybe in two years or perhaps five. In general, people who are involved with these types of accidental shootings seem to turn their backs on gun culture; there was a recent op-ed in the NYT by a man who’d been raised in this (his bedroom at this dad’s house was also the gun storage room), and who’s shot and killed a friend.

    I guess to me, the voices we need to hear now are not the poor, put-upon souls who are having their rights curtailed, but the voices of folk, like my second cousin, who curtailed other’s lives accidentally; the voices of people who’ve had holes punched in their families, like the parents of Newtown, or the countless people who’ve lost loved ones in the gun violence that takes lives one at a time in our cities without much fanfare in the news.

    Because their rights have also been impinged. Let’s ask them how they feel about unfettered gun rights, too.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      I remember this sort of debate during the 1970’s, at the last gasp of liberalism, when liberals would emphasize how important it was to protect the rights of the accused to protect freedom, and conservatives would argue that the rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens- to walk arouond un-mugged, to sleep safely un-burgled- were at least as important.

      Therefore, freedom itself required order and restrictions on actions.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        So they were right, then?Report

        • Avatar LWA says:

          Yes, they were right.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            But there is more than one way to look at this.

            I agree that the right to walk around and not fear muggings and to not worry about bulgaries are important. I don’t agree with how the conservatives decided that the way to fight crime is through very long prison sentences for all crimes. This has created an untenable situation where the U.S. holds 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

            The costs of keeping someone in prison for a year are high. Do this for multiple years and the costs become astronomical. We are spending money on prisons that can be spent on schools, healthcare, roads, environmental clean-up, etc.

            You can fight crime by going against the causes of crime. I generally think this is a better way to do it.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              Except what we have found that it’s (probably) just a matter of getting the lead out of the atmosphere and people’s homes. All the other ‘root cause’ stuff seems to be a dead end, if one also really believes that the poor and middle class have gotten progressively (so to speak) worse off since the pre-Reagan era.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                The lead studies are interesting I will admit that.

                However this does not change the fact that we are spending a lot of money to keep people locked up for a really long time.

                In fairness, I will add that there are plenty of people on the left who don’t care about criminal justice reform or have a tough on crime stance. Caring about the rights of those accused of crimes belongs to a small but passionate subset of the population.

                Did you see the stories in the NY Times about the Bronx and their criminal justice woes? This helps no one. Not the person accused (guilty or not) not the victim of the crime, no one is helped by this kind of dysfunction:


            • Avatar LWA says:

              My takeaway from the battles over security v. freedom is only that they can’t be ends in themselves.

              The adage about trading freedom for security and ending up with neither also works in reverse.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Huh. After many of the recent posts here, I’m starting to come to the view that there are no ‘rights’ to security. There are only rights, after security is shattered. Criminal justice is not about providing justice for the victim (via Mark Thompson’s recent post,) but about metting out justice to the accused; rights don’t kick in until there is an accused.

                I don’t have the right to not be raped; and after I’m raped, I don’t have a right to justice. I don’t have a right to not be shot in a movie theater or to not have my child shot in school, and if that tragedy happens, I don’t have a right to justice.

                Please excuse me if I’m sounding sour; but that’s how I feel today. Rights to safety and self really don’t exist in this country, because they’re a null — they’re something bad not happening.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Zic, this is an interesting thought process. Let’s say that we are in complete agreement on your entire comment here.

                Why shouldn’t I let you own a gun?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                meh. I don’t want a gun. I don’t believe it makes me safer; quite the opposite.

                The more important question is why I should let you own one.

                Because null rights, my right to not own a gun, for instance, don’t exist.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m a white male with political connections. My gun ownership should be assumed.

                The question is whether you should also be allowed to own things that I am allowed to own.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                JB, since you are a white male, rights naturally fall to you as the norm.

                The rest of us? We’ve got to squabble and squeak. I seem to recall the white males rearing up to demand some gun control after the Black Panthers began exerting their 2nd rights. But You already knew this.

                I saw a FB post the other day on what the reaction would be if women started using the 2nd to defend their right to reproductive health care. Just imagine, open carry to get you through the gauntlet in front of the family planning clinic.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For the record, I support the right of women to open carry as part of a vigorous defense of their rights.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                FWIW, I think it is possible to have a legal system that is fair and just to both the accused and the victim’s of crime.

                Right now, we have a system in many places that offers fairness and justice to neither group.

                Due Process and Fair and Speedy trials are important to everyone. A false accusation or wrongful conviction merely causes more distrust in the system.

                What is also important is that the criminal justice system act just as much for rehabilitation and redemption as anything else. Long sentences should be an option but not a tool of first resort. This just creates an overburdened system that has been called The New Jim Crow by many critics.


                Mass Incarceration has failed as an experiment. What we know is that the most important deterrence to crime is swiftness and certainty, not severity. A drug dealer (or any other criminal) is less likely to be a repeat offender after a short sentence that comes quickly and with high probability than one who is at low risk for a long sentence.*

                There are also serious questions about what kind of society locks someone up at 18 or 19 for 50-60 years or longer. This is costly, not a very effective way of fighting crime. It is an out of sight and out of mind way of dealing with crime and poverty. You also have people sentenced to long sentences for very minor crimes. There was a story of an African-American woman in Florida sentenced to a decades long jail sentence because her boyfriend stored cocaine in her house. The judge thought she deserved a short sentence (I think she knew about the drugs) but not the very long madatory minimum that the law made the judge give her.

                What we currently have in the US largely seems to be the low risk of the long sentence.

                *An article I read in the Economist several years ago stated that only one in every fifteen thousand Cocaine transactions in the United States resulted in jail time.Report

  17. Avatar Kazzy says:

    The title of this post refers to the “two extremes” of the gun debate. It then mentions that people who think manufacturers should bear some responsibility for the creation of guns that make it easier for kids to kill someone should “take pause”. Are such people considered to be “extreme”? Because that seems like a reasonable, even if wrong, view to have. And, to again point out the largely self-serving inconsistencies that seem to dominate contemporary American politics (on BOTH sides, mind you), it is surprising that conservative calls for personal responsibility seem to stop when it comes to guns. The parents should face no consequences for their actions, but wouldn’t doing so be calling for them taking personal responsibility? The gun makers should face no consequences for their actions, but wouldn’t doing so be calling for them taking personal responsibility? Is there no personal responsibility we should expect on the part of those deeply entrenched in the gun culture?Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

      Also, people of the world in other 1st world countriies where there is strict gun control are extreme, too.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      People also voted in a survey to ban pressure cookers in light of the Boston bombings.

      When will we American be safe from the evils of pressure cookers??!!Report

  18. Avatar LauraNo says:

    “The article was embedded with a poll asking, “Is it acceptable to teach kids to shoot guns?” The results show 45% yes, 55% no… The problem here is that this represents a view just as extreme as those that believe in full access to all guns for everyone.”

    Give people two extremes to pick from, and you get two extremes as an answer. Though the second choice seems much less extreme to most people, hence the 55% saying no. Why do young children need to learn to shoot guns anyway? Shall we start manufacturing child-sized cars, too? If as a society we have decided they can’t be trusted with driving, or drinking, or legal obligations, or what kind of or even if they can purchase birth control, I don’t get what the argument is regarding lethal weapons, so can’t consider the stance that children should not have guns ‘extreme’. And certainly not comparably extreme as advocating for wild west’s no rules (though I understand they actually did have gun bans) anyone-who-wants-one-gets-many policy position.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      The unfortunate legal response is that driving, drinking, and safe sex aren’t constitutional rights while the 2nd Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court makes gun ownership and use a constitutional right. The Supreme Court also basically held that the Constitution applies to children. If minors have First Amendment rights than they also have Second Amendment Rights. I think its foolish to give minors second amendment rights but there you have it.Report

  19. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Here is a really important resource:

    Given that most children do not fully grasp the permanence and irreversibility of death or that all living things can die (as opposed to thinking it only happens to old or sick things) until around age 9 or 10, it seems reasonable to keep children younger than this from possessing or using items with such great potential to kill.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Or teach them that permanence earlier by giving them a pet they cherish, then killing it and leaving the body lying around for them to observe.

      Since you’ve been looking for parenting advice, I’d venture to say keeping guns out of their hands may be the better approach.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

        Better yet is to force them to wring the little critter’s neck themselves. That way they get the full nightmare treatment complete with a load of guilt and lasting resentment that will only ever be assuaged by many thousands of dollars worth of therapy later in life.Report

  20. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I think that America has an unfortunate tendency to fetishize violent kids. Our media has recently been resplendent with kid heroes that resort to some rather serious violence as a way to solve problems. Arya Stark in A Game of Thrones/A Song of Fire and Ice and Hit Girl from Kick Ass are too prominent examples. We also have a rather sad tendency to be against innocence and too want people to get tough sooner and see the growing of a lawyer of grit and guilt as a positive. Its not. Innocence is a good thing.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

      One day I hope to be a lawyer of grit.

      I’d like my son to be innocent for as long as possible, though. Probably won’t last much past the point where he hits kindergarten.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie says:

      Hit Girl was a commercial failure in key market segments.
      Think before talking?

      The fact that she failed is an interesting case study in human psychology.Report

  21. Avatar Jason M. says:

    “The article was embedded with a poll asking, “Is it acceptable to teach kids to shoot guns?” The results show 45% yes, 55% no. If Horsey doesn’t think kids should be given guns, he is apparently not alone in that opinion. The problem here is that this represents a view just as extreme as those that believe in full access to all guns for everyone.”

    The poll asked about teaching kids to shoot guns, not giving kids guns. I’d bet the results of a poll asking “Is it acceptable for kids to own guns” wouldn’t buttress your “extreme view” argument quite as well.

    Wake me when there’s a concordant ground swell of support for overturning the laws prohibiting children from driving cars, drinking alcohol, and entering into contracts.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      We used to prohibit kids from entering contracts, but now elite society, government, and academia can’t force them to sign their life away on student loan forms fast enough.

      BTW, children don’t really “own” anything. Their parents let them pretend they own things so they’ll understand ownership and responsibility.Report