One More Discussion About Guns

Mike Dwyer

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

Related Post Roulette

494 Responses

  1. One thing in favor of banning sales of high-capacity magazines in that the population of gun nuts doesn’t overlap the population of homicidal maniacs all that much. If I as a gun nut have a small pile of high capacity magazines for my collection of assault(tm) rifles and can’t easily get replacements I’m not likely to sell a few of them to my nice quiet neighbor who’s just bought his AR-15alike and wants some magazines so he can go target shooting.Report

  2. Jean Meslier says:

    Thank you for the educational post. I think your pinpointing of magazine capacity and semi-automatic capability as particular targets for regulation was astute. Both of these capabilities enhance the ability to commit mass murder, as opposed to targeted person-to-person violence in a domestic or intimate context.

    I accept your summary of the NY Times link that most mass shootings are carried out with handguns. It’s far from obvious to a novice like me, though, whether the weapons depicted in the article have large magazines or semi-automatic capability. Handguns can have these characteristics too, no? Could regulating magazine capacity and restricting access to any guns with semi-automatic capability make mass shootings significantly more difficult? I honestly don’t know.

    Stipulating that handguns are the real problem, I think you’re right to wonder whether the gun control crowd would really be satisfied once semi-automatics and enlarged magazines were banned or restricted. It’s tempting to think we’d be just another mass shooting away from a hue and cry for banning whatever weapon characteristic was perceived to have caused that shooting. And in a sense, the gun control is not wrong. If you set aside Constitutional intricacies and have zero sympathy for gun hobbyists, the home defense crowd, etc., the logical conclusion is a European gun control regime. For such people, I think the question for the gun lovers is whether there’s any alternative policy that reduces gun deaths to levels comparable to the rest of the world (presumably the only level that is acceptable to gun control types).Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jean Meslier says:

      Re: Handguns

      They come primarily in 2 flavors; revolver and semi-auto. There are break-breech and bolt action handguns out there, but they are curios and competition arms. Both revolvers and semi-auto will fire once per pull of the trigger, the difference is in how the rounds are help by the firearm.

      Revolvers have a cylinder mounted in the frame that holds the rounds and acts as the breech. Pulling the trigger rotates the cylinder and aligns the next round with the firing pin and the barrel. Reloading involves removing the spent cartridges and inserting live rounds by hand, or with the aid of a speed loader (a device that helps hold and align live rounds for quick insertion into the cylinder).

      Semi-autos have a box magazine in the pistol grip that uses a spring to push live rounds up into the breech. The action of the slide (the square-ish top of the firearm) will strip the next live round from the top of the magazine and set it into the breech. Once fired, energy from the recoil is used to work the action, and a device called an extractor pulls the spent cartridge out and ejects it away from the firearm, clearing the way for the slide to strip a fresh round from magazine and complete the cycle. Reloading is done by dropping the empty magazine from the firearm and inserting a full one.

      Visually, the giveaway is the cylinder that is distinctive for a revolver. If you don’t see the cylinder, it’s probably a semi-auto.

      Overall, semi-autos are a lot faster to reload if you have multiple full magazines handy.Report

      • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        In which I betray my own mild gun-control leanings: what the fish is the self defense argument for semi-automatic handguns??Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

          North, just to clarify, do you mean semi-auto or auto?

          I think it’s actually much easier to argue for semi-auto handguns. Typically in that situation you have a very close distance (often 10 feet or less). Assuming you have a legitimate threat where deadly force is justified, you want to put as many rounds as possible into the assailant as possible before they reach you. Regardless of what Clint Eastwood might have done in Unforgiven, that is very hard to do with a revolver.Report

          • North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Yeah I can grok it in the cranium but in the chest cavity I just keep feeling “Isn’t however many shots you get out of a revolver enough?” Keep in mind I am half Canadian (and was raised there) so there’s definitely a culture gap.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

              The general theory on self-defense is to put as many holes in the person as possible until the threat is ended. There are many stories about guys attacking someone with only a couple of rounds in them.Report

              • North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Yep, I understand I just don’t empathize if ya know what I mean.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                People vastly overrate how much stopping power a weapon has pretty much up and down the whole range. There are plenty of stories of the target not even noticing the first few rounds that hit them, much less being drastically affected by them.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to El Muneco says:

                Drugs, or just adrenaline, can allow a person to shrug off the first few hits, if they don’t tag something vital.

                Not forever, mind you, but long enough to continue being a threat.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I wish more “for home self defense” buyers thought about over-penetration and where all the misses are going to go.Report

              • ian351c in reply to Morat20 says:

                That’s more of an ammunition discussion than a gun discussion. Just about any gun you would buy for home defense (handguns, shotguns, even assault rifles) can be loaded with ammunition that won’t penetrate much more than a wall or two. It is definitely something to be conscious of when buying ammunition.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to ian351c says:

                I admit I’m biased towards who is buying home protection by the people I know who have done it, exactly zero of whom have any real need (quite suburbs, no crime waves, no real crime period, no history of being robbed, no one in their neighborhood being robbed, etc) and exactly zero of whom gave any thought to ammunition.

                If they were going concealed carry, they wanted a handgun — and “what’s the one that holds the most bullets”. If they didn’t, they wanted the most military looking piece of hardware in the store, and I have no doubt the staff happily gouged the crap out of them.

                At least one of which sleeps with his gun, loaded, on the nightstand next to his alarm. I suppose it’s heartening that he doesn’t sleep with it in his hand.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                Home Protection sounds way more like “team of trained mercenaries camping out around your house”

                I do happen to know people who have used guns in self-defense. (They have been trained, but still can’t really shoot straight). They don’t keep their “self-defense” guns on their property.

                At least your friends don’t carry around live grenades for self-defense (not in America, and a friend of a friend).Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

              Here is where some experience with handguns matters. Revolvers are fun to shoot, but have a much lower rate of fire thanks to long, and often strong, trigger pulls, because the trigger is doing the work of rotating the cylinder.

              Semi-autos don’t have that shortcoming.

              Keep in mind that when the first popular semi-auto came out, it didn’t hold substantially more rounds than a common revolver, but it could shoot faster and more accurately.Report

              • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Thanks, that’s definitely valuable context.Report

              • scott the mediocre in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I would think that the stronger trigger pull of the revolver would operate against accuracy (to the degree that accuracy matters in the self-defence situation), but my layman’s understanding is that it ain’t so. Is that because ceteris paribus the revolver layout gives less torque reaction to the shooter, and controlling the torque is the dominant effect on accuracy?

                Enlightenment, please. Or gruel.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to scott the mediocre says:

                My experience is that revolvers tend to have more rise than semi-autos of a similar caliber/power, because nothing is doing anything to redirect the recoil, so controlling it is all about strength and reflexes. Semi-autos direct a lot of recoil backward to work the action, so you get less rise, but your wrist still gets jerked around a bit. A two handed grip on a semi-auto is, again, in my experience, better able to control the jerking as opposed to the rise of a revolver, so I can bring the sights back on target faster.

                Took me a lot of practice to learn to shoot a revolver well, much more than I needed for a semi-auto.

                If you are in the shit and shooting one handed, it better be because the other hand is carrying a small child, or broken.Report

              • scott the mediocre in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Thanks, all of that makes sense. Evidently the information I received (from an Old School Target Shooter) regarding revolvers versus (semi-)automatics was inaccurate or at least incomplete.

                given that muzzle rise is a problem, why don’t handguns have some sort of gas port plus vent on the top to redirect some of the gas while the bullet is still in the barrel?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to scott the mediocre says:

                Old school target shooters usually aren’t trying to get back on target in a hurry. Talk to some timed competition shooters.

                Some revolvers with long enough barrels are ported, but it adds expense, so it’s not a common feature.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I should add that a practiced grip and stance do a lot for aiming. The guys who do shoot & move drills, they’ll have a slightly different take on things.Report

              • Wyrmnax in reply to scott the mediocre says:

                You are either adding weight to the piece ( more barrel lenght to have the gas port ) or reducing barrel lenght ( adding vents on the normal barrel ), because the port part of the barrel is inneffective as a barrel.

                Neither is really good on a handgun, whose main characteristics is a small profile and the main drawback is a short barrel – giving less accuracy and power to the bullets.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Jean Meslier says:

      “Stipulating that handguns are the real problem, I think you’re right to wonder whether the gun control crowd would really be satisfied once semi-automatics and enlarged magazines were banned or restricted. It’s tempting to think we’d be just another mass shooting away from a hue and cry for banning whatever weapon characteristic was perceived to have caused that shooting. And in a sense, the gun control is not wrong. If you set aside Constitutional intricacies and have zero sympathy for gun hobbyists, the home defense crowd, etc., the logical conclusion is a European gun control regime. For such people, I think the question for the gun lovers is whether there’s any alternative policy that reduces gun deaths to levels comparable to the rest of the world (presumably the only level that is acceptable to gun control types).”

      Generally, I’ve tended to skew libertarian on gun control. In fact, I generally resist government telling us what we can and can’t spend our money on. For a while now, I’ve put guns under this umbrella, mulled over certain restrictions (such as the one Mike explores here), but generally landed on the idea that there are probably other ways to cut gun deaths than an outright ban.

      Honestly… now I’m not so sure. When I look at the 30,000* gun deaths every year, when I look at how victims and assailants include every type of person imaginable, when I look at how many, many, many — not all, but many, many, many — of these deaths would be avoided if every gun in America disappeared tomorrow, there is a part of me that thinks, “Screw the 2nd Amendment, screw hunting, screw collecting, self-defense through other means (which will be more effective if those you are defending against are themselves without a gun), get rid of all the guns and let’s start saving lives.” Maybe this is a temporary and emotional reaction but when GRAs (seemingly rightfully) point out that just about any reasonable gun control would be ineffective at curbing gun deaths, it makes me think that maybe we need to get unreasonable.

      * Yes, approximately 2/3 of these are suicide but given the incredibly low repeat-attempt rate of people who fail in their initial suicide attempts using less “successful” means leads me to believe that the vast majority of these suicides were impulsive acts made permanent by the use of a highly effective killing device. So, yes, a ban on guns would cut into both suicides and homicides and is arguably an even more compelling reason for one.Report

      • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

        I think you have to keep in mind what getting unreasonable would look like in this country. We aren’t only talking about regulating here, we’d be creating a new series of criminal offenses and incarcerating even more people. I see no reason to think that repeal of the 2nd Amendment and replacement with a large number of new criminal offenses wouldn’t play itself out along the same class and racial lines our current criminal justice system does, replete with violence and new reasons to curb civil liberties.

        The types of gun control proposals out there I think put far too much faith in well-meaning legislation and take too little consideration of what law enforcement actually looks like in America. In addition to putting the guy on the corner of the ghetto who sells weed because there arent many other options in jail we’d now be adding the single mother who keeps a firearm in her nightstand because she lives in a bad part of town where the cops won’t come, even if they’re called. Much like prohibition if drugs we’re trying to treat the symptom (gun violence) instead of the cause (generational poverty and economic exclusion).

        I will say I’d be open to certain new regulations (I am a firearm owner) but I think that the gun control crowd is largely arguing in bad faith. It makes it very hard to compromise.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


          Oh, yes, my theory involves a magic wand (they won’t be regulated… yet…).

          I also almost included something in my initial comment above about how there is so much mistrust that even a “THIS IS TOTALLY NOT THE CAMEL’S NOSE IN THE TENT!” type legislation would never be accepted as such by the gun rights crowd and rightfully so. I just couldn’t find a way to say it that didn’t detract from the broader point.Report

          • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

            @kazzy and that’s exactly why I think the debate is so intractable. The way I try to present my perspective to people who disagree with me is to compare it to abortion. When conservative politicians talk about safety regulations on abortion clinics those, including myself, who are pro-choice are rightly suspicious of what the intent really is.

            One thing that I think your waive the magic wand hypothetical needs to include for it to be something I’d consider would be equally large scale disarmament of law enforcement and maybe even to some degree the military. There’s something very ironic to me about watching Obama’s calls for gun control as though the chief executive of our government has any sort of moral standing to solemnly condemn armed violence.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


              When I talk about banning all guns, I mean it almost quite literally. Beat cops and the like would also be disarmed (of handguns at least… they could probably carry other weapons). You’d probably want a few highly trained and armed individuals for high stakes situations but they would not regularly interact with the public.

              I tend not to venture too deeply into these matters but I venture to guess that the gun control crowd is pretty split… those who genuinely want limits but not a full ban and those who want a full ban. I don’t know which faction is driving the bus but if the perception is that it is the latter, that either needs to be undone OR embraced (with success pretty much impossible).Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    The government could ask citizens to turn them in, however if attempts in Connecticut are any indication, we can expect less than 15% compliance.

    Add in the fact that you can download the CAD/STL file to print a high capacity magazine.

    A printed mag won’t last as long or be quite as reliable as a steel one, but if I only need it for one day…Report

    • That seems like it would be something only a really dedicated gun nut would do, not a spree killer.Report

      • notme in reply to David Parsons says:

        What is this “gun nut” you speak of?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to David Parsons says:

        If we are talking about the guy who just snapped one day, I agree (the print job would probably take a day for each magazine). But if the guy is a planner…Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Aurora seemed planned. So did Arizona. Orland was definitely premeditated, though how planned seems yet to be determined.

          But at that point, I’m likely to say, “This person is pretty hellbent on death and destruction and will find a way.”

          It’d probably stop a Lanza. And other deaths.

          I don’t know that we can stop the Holmeses. Sad as it is to say. At least not through restrictions. We might through mental health programs but that is a whole other bag.

          We’re really looking at the “median” murderer. And as Mike mentions, nothing being talked about is likely to stop that person.

          So most proposed laws don’t effect most murderers and the murderers they are most likely to effect are probably dedicated enough to find other means. They’ll stop some of the most destructive ones but that is a relatively small subset of gun deaths. Ugh.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to Kazzy says:

            Auto theft prevention systems won’t make a professional thief blink. But one will stop joyriders, or at least raise the barrier to entry. And that’s all they have to do to be more valuable than not having one at all.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to El Muneco says:


              I’m not sure that analogy holds. This would be like putting auto theft prevention systems on 18-wheelers and assuming it will stop joy riders and car thieves from boosting Porches.

              If there is a reg that effects ALL gun transactions, sure, you might stop some joyriders. But limiting AR-15s does nothing about handgun deaths.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Kazzy says:

                It gets back to the question of what we’re trying to accomplish.

                Given the facts on the ground, is it feasible to enact a regulatory regime that will stop a highly motivated fanatic from acquiring sufficient firearms, explosives, and/or accelerants to kill a lot of people in the chaos of an attack on a crowded, unsuspecting, gathering of people? Probably not.

                Can something be done to prevent, or at least handicap, someone, somewhere, on the spur of the moment, from shooting up a car that cut him off, or a garden party that got too loud, or guys chopping down trees too close to his property? That’s possible.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to El Muneco says:

                Put it in a locked case. The mere act of having to stop, unlock the case, and remove the gun takes time. It might only be twenty seconds, but I suspect that 20 or 30 seconds would deter a lot of dumb impulse decisions.

                Basically you want it to take two or three times longer to get the gun free than reaching into the console or opening the dash.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                This doesn’t do jack for someone who is not angry, but legit scared. The legit scared person opens the case and has the gun out at the first sign of a gunshot (yes, I’m aware that cars backfiring sound like gunshots).Report

    • Wyrmnax in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      This is actually a much bigger problem than you make it to be. Soon it will be easy to print whole guns at home, and that one is going to be pretty hard to regulate.

      It already is possible to do so, just not effective. With better printers and methods, wh knows?Report

  4. Anne says:

    Mike nice post. If you ever get out Oklahoma way you need to check out the J..M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Claremore, OK. I am not a gun person by any stretch but fascinating place.Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    Doesn’t #3 matter because it allows the weapon to be more easily concealed? I can see legitimate arguments in favor of an easily concealed weapon, but it at least seems somewhat relevant. But perhaps I am misunderstanding what this feature offers the user.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    Thanks for posting this, Mike. It actually helps begin to answer a question I was just wondering so I will pose it here, if I may…

    Image such a regulation which would NOT serve as the camel’s nose sneaking into the tent… that is to say we draft a ban/regulation that will in no way lead to future bans/regulations and sits firmly on flat ground (i.e., no slippery slope)…

    A) Where do you think a reasonable line to draw with regards to magazine size, rate of fire, weapon strength might be?
    B) Would you support this regulation?

    I guess what I’m saying is that if we could clearly define a class of weapons that even the most adament of gun lover would say, “Yes, that gun would be useless in the hands of a hunter or someone interested in self-defense… that gun exists solely for the collector (not by any means an illegitimate purpose) or for someone intent on harming others,” and then craft a regulation that says, “These guns and ONLY these guns are banned and you can keep all your others,” would you support it?

    Please know this isn’t meant as some sort of “gotcha” question. I realize it indulges in hypotheticals that will almost surely never see the light of day… really what I am trying to understand is whether or not there exists a class of weapons which we can at least agree we would be much better off without or if gun “classes” or “types” are too fluid categories such that we’d lose babies with bathwater.

    And if this is too far afield (I know you want to say on topic and I think that this is but submit that it might be not), feel free to delete this comment and I’ll draft a post.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

      Personally, I’d set 10 as the upper limit.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

      I wouldn’t mess with rate of fire or caliber (strength). If you wanted to reduce capacity you could go to 15 for rifles and 10 for pistols but those numbers are pretty arbitrary.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


        When you say, “You could go to 15 and 10…” do you mean that you would support (or at least wouldn’t object to) such limits?

        More importantly, would these make any difference? It seems like they likely would have limited the damage wrought by the Orlando shooter. Maybe? And while we might be left saying, “Okay, so he would have killed 30 instead of 50… big whoop,” that is 20 less dead bodies with, seemingly, no cost. But maybe I’m misunderstanding why a non-spree killer might have a genuine interest in higher capacity. Is there a practical use for such high capacity weapons that we could reasonably say responsible gun owners are being burdened by such a restriction? To me the answer seems no but I’m not particularly qualified to answer that question.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

      I also don’t think there is any class of firearm (excluding specifics on capacity) that should be banned. Put a 5 round magazine in an assault rifle and it’s theoretically less dangerous at close range than a WWI-era Springfield.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        So, as Burt Likko said elsewhere recently, if we are really looking at effective regulation absent outright bans, we’re probably looking at regulating ammo more than the guns themselves?

        God, guns are really just such a tricky bag. I really have no interest in taking away Mike’s guns. Or Oscar’s. Or my friend Munch’s (an avid hunter who taught me more about guns, gun safety, and gun culture in an afternoon at the range than I could have learned in any comment section on the web). The odds of these folks allowing anything irresponsible or harmful to happen with their weapons seems exceedingly small.

        Then I think of a friend of a friend… a hot head who once (and maybe still does?) keep a handgun in a shoe box in his closet. Who talks incessantly of ever bigger weapons. And who is the sort of guy to get half-cocked at our mutual friend’s wedding and starts threatening to fight people, saying the only reason they haven’t had their larynx ripped out is out of respect for the groom. This guy probably shouldn’t have a weapon. Not because I think there is any risk of becoming a spree killer. But because I could see him letting his emotions get the best of him while carrying and making a really fateful decision that he otherwise would avoid if he was armed only with his fists.

        And then there are the spree killers and others intent on causing harm with guns.

        Unfortunately, there isn’t some way of differentiating the Mike/Oscar/Munches from the hot heads from the murderers. Not with 100% accuracy. So what do we do? Well, I guess that is the gun control debate in a nutshell. I think we just sometimes neglect to recognize that this is a really complicated issue. I mean, we might SAY it is because that is what we’re supposed to say but too often we end up with bumper sticker sloganeering and demonizing the other side.

        I know just above I talked about an outright ban and with some rather choice words. Believe me, I felt ugly the whole time because I know that people like Mike, Oscar, and Munch would be unfairly harmed by such an action. I just wonder if maybe we’ve reached the point where the scales tip that way. Maybe? I don’t know. Ugh. We need better people control, it seems…Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

          Let’s all recall my proposals for the last time I took a stab at thee…Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

          ” And who is the sort of guy to get half-cocked at our mutual friend’s wedding and starts threatening to fight people, saying the only reason they haven’t had their larynx ripped out is out of respect for the groom. This guy probably shouldn’t have a weapon.”

          No, you mean he shouldn’t have a gun.

          Because if you actually did mean that he shouldn’t have a weapon, then we’re moving the discussion from “should we ban guns” to “should some people not be allowed to have weapons”. And that comes awful close to admitting that maybe it’s not guns, specifically that are the problem here.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Guns are the problem due to efficiency. (They are, after all, sort of the end state of millennia of work to develop the most efficient man-portable killing machine).

            Actually, I wouldn’t even say that it’s their efficiency really. I’d say it’s a combination of how easy it is (stabbing or clubbing someone to death is a surprising amount of work. Starting with having to chase them down, and the fact that you have to get close enough for them to fight back, and it’s pretty intimate and in your face) and how detached it is.

            I’ve always found shooting bows to be far more fun than shooting guns. I feel rather detached from a gun. I’m operating a machine there. Yeah, it requires some skill (depending on the gun, the conditions, and the range) but I’m basically mashing a button. It doesn’t trigger all those gut-level, visceral feelings that say “I’m involved in this”.

            A bow, on the other hand? I have to put muscle into it. Effort. It feels more “real” in a way I can’t really describe.

            And even that pales in comparison to, way back in the day, martial arts. Shooting a bow is far more clinical than getting right in there with fists.

            Guns are really, really powerful and really, really efficient — and firing one is a few pounds of pressure on a trigger. Even picking up a 2×4 and swinging takes more physical and emotional involvement. And more time.

            And my very, very few experiences with potential violence…that heat of the moment often doesn’t last very long. Seconds, perhaps, before that nagging doubt creeps in. Before most people start to back down. (Now once it starts, once fists fly or knives come out or shots are fired, people tend to ramp up not back down. I mean, hey, the die has been cast).

            That’s not a lot of time. And it takes so little time to draw a gun and fire, and it’s so detached and so easy compared to wading in with fists, and so much lower risk.

            I think guns alter the calculus of the moment — at least for ‘heat of the moment’ — things dramatically over, say, clubs. (Although to be fair, it’s possible that the perceived less lethal nature of clubs might factor in as well)

            In the end, I think it’s a lot easier for a person to stand 15 feet away and pull a trigger than it is to wade into range and start swinging with some other weapon. That guns and bullets are more intellectual to most people than fists. (We’ve all had a pushing or shoving match somewhere in the past, if only as kids. Very few of us have shot someone or been shot at).

            And quicker to boot, and quicker is….really important when it comes to these things.Report

            • Wardsmith in reply to Morat20 says:

              Guns are also great equalizers. You’re facing “the Mountain” from game of thrones. Choice of weapon? Closer to home, you’re a five foot tall very attractive woman and you find yourself pursued by four very bad actors. They’ve already hit your car with theirs to try and get you to stop on a bad road in a bad neighborhood. You’ve been calling the police but they are firm believers in Warren vs District of Columbia and don’t have a previous relationship with you. Plus let’s face it, from the police perspective it’s much safer to draw the chalk lines around your body than deal with your nemesis of the moment. Luckily your dad is a former special forces soldier and he not only taught you to shoot but required you to have a concealed carry permit.

              So you speed up, yank the car to the side of the road and jump out using your vehicle as cover and aim your gun at the bad guys with a textbook modified Weaver two handed stance. They have a gun too but decide as all predators do that it isn’t worth the risk and speed away.

              To all you couch sitters this is all very academic but that woman I am very proud to say is now my daughter in law. I have zero doubt that had she been unarmed everything would have been different. This is why we need guns. Wave your magic wand and make all the bad guys disappear and I’ll happily relinquish my weapons but until that happens fuhgeddaboutitReport

              • greginak in reply to Wardsmith says:

                Way to take a reasonable act like self defense and make it sound like a silly fantasy.

                And of course equalizer goes all sorts of ways. It you are one person who wants to hurt 50 people it is really hard to do that w/o a gun. “Equalizer” only means it gives people more power then they would have with just their hands but that can be used for good or evil. It is a neutral term that has no moral meaning on its own.Report

              • Wardsmith in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                People here like Greg are why I left and likely will again. No reasonable discussion with some people.Report

              • greginak in reply to Wardsmith says:

                @wardsmith Well lots of people liked your comments when you were here so come on back. FWIW i’ve had people tell me i hate the us or are an f’ing idiot or whatever for a few decades since i’m a liberal. yeah that is stupid but nothing close to my snark. Really only the first sentence was snarky anyway. If one sentence chased you away then the intertoobz are never going to work for you.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

                ” If one sentence chased you away then the intertoobz are never going to work for you.”

                do you ever sometimes wonder how it is that everywhere you go turns out to be a toxic soup that blows up into vicious arguments all the time?Report

              • greginak in reply to DensityDuck says:

                No DD every where i go doesn’t turn into a toxic soup. At least all your comments are pure honey so that must work for you.Report

              • Wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

                I’m not afraid of confrontation but simply have better things to do with my valuable time then argue with folks who can’t be persuaded by logic or reason. Snark is not earning you the points you think but merely painting you for what you are. I’d say think about it but suspect that is beyond your capacity.Report

              • greginak in reply to Wardsmith says:

                I said self defense was a reasonable use of arms. I’m fine with that. So where was the persuasion? I’m not, nor are most people, all for taking away all the guns and leaving innocent people defenseless. That is one of the prime tactics of the pro-gun crowd to frame the entire opposition as wanting the most maximal, and indefensible, position. Sort of like the gun control crowd portrays all gun owners as Ted Nugents. Sure there are people that can conform to your stereotypes, but there are far more reasonable people on both sides.

                I mocked the style of story that i have read a million times from pro gun people; filled with irrelevant tactical details which seem more like signaling, that while plausible, seem really unlikely.Report

              • Wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

                You never treat certain people here as human beings but merely a “class” of opponent that you need to smack down. That doesn’t play well with me anymore. Signaling and dog whistles are made up liberal bs that can’t be refuted. To put that in perspective think flying spaghetti monster.

                What happened happened. I don’t give a flying duck whether you believe it or don’t. That dent is still in her car, the police said the other car was stolen. They’re still at large and trust me when I say hey father spent a lot of time looking for them. If it sounds like other stories perhaps that means predator behavior is predictable. Done here talking with youReport

              • greginak in reply to Wardsmith says:

                Okay. Fwiw a lot of people liked your contributions. I don’t’ remember how many conversations we had or how they went and i don’t think you are correct about where i’m coming from. I’m sorry. I apologize. So come on back and toss some grist into the mill.Report

              • What happened happened.

                Of course it happened; men are dangerous poisonous dicks to women all the time, and your daughter (yes? Saying “her father” is just awkward phrasing?) doesn’t have to be particularly unlucky to fall victim to this. But your retelling of the story is like what you saw on Mulberry Street.Report

              • Kim in reply to Wardsmith says:

                you haven’t been pursued by anyone serious, then.
                It’s one thing to be pursued by the murdering equivalent of the Keystone Cops. It’s another to find people actively herding you, checking in with each other via radios (cellphones), and already planning on how to kill you when you get to cover.Report

              • Wardsmith in reply to Kim says:

                Reading comprehension required. I was never involved nor my son they hadn’t even met yet. But thanks for sharing yet another of your ludicrous fantasies. You really should write bad fiction, it suits youReport

          • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:


            I actually did mean “gun”. That was an error on my part.Report

          • Wyrmnax in reply to DensityDuck says:

            While I am of the personal opinion that such a guy shouldn’t have arms anymore so he can’t effectively hurt anyone, the point I want to make is another.

            The problem of a specific violent person using a gun is that a gun is very effective at killing people.

            Give that guy a knife and he can kill people, yes. But it is much harder for him to do so than if you give him a gun. The problem of guns is that killing and seriously injuring people with them is very easy to do.

            This is not a good statistic, but serves as a good example of what I am trying to point out: How many toddlers kill other people with a knife? How many do so with a gun? That points out why guns are a bigger problem than most other weapons.

            And besides, *everything* is a weapon.Report

  7. North says:

    A fine post Mike. One minor quibble: you rightly note that banning guns with certain characteristics does not eliminate the existing ones from circulation but it is the beginning of doing so. While such a ban wouldn’t eliminate existing guns it would turn off the spigot and the availability of those weapons would immediately begin to decline. Since spree shooters are not typically gun collectors themselves the elimination of the availability of the most spree shooting friendly guns could plausible be expected to impact them the most which is desirable. In time those guns would fade out to only the dedicated collectors and enthusiasts. We’re not talking about policy that necessarily impacts us today but also twenty years down the line.

    That said my optimism on the matter is low. The right to possess firearms is enshrined in the constitution* and has a powerful advocacy group pushing it. Also just as pro-choicers look at the naked unabashed eliminationism of the pro-life side and conclude that any concessions are pointless I can easily see gun owners looking at the disdain and unabashed eliminationism of the gun-control advocates and reaching a similar conclusion.

    *Then again even the recent past conservative courts have explicitly stated gun ownership can be constitutionally regulated and it would not take many more liberal jurists to expand on that position.Report

  8. notme says:

    Not really. An m4 carbine with a fully extended stock is 33 inches long and 29.75 with it retracted. Its really is more about ease of handling the weapon inside buildings and vehicles.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    Yeah, the “tumbling bullet” makes for great body horror but I’m absolutely certain that I wouldn’t want to hunt with them.

    I’m planning on eating that.

    Or would, if hunting didn’t involve going outside.

    So now I’ll engage in some light speculation (please correct me, gun people, if I’m wrong on any of this). It seems to me that the best hunting bullets would also be the worst self-defense bullets (and vice versa).

    You do not want a bullet that can go all the way into the core of a deer against a bad actor in your kitchen. If you miss, for example, it might go all the way through your wall and then all the way through a neighbor’s wall (or window). Hell, even if you hit, it could go through windows and then hit someone else.

    If you’re shooting someone in your kitchen, you probably want something that does MASSIVE damage to anything within 10 feet but then quickly peters out beyond that. So I’d think that you’d want something that shoots garbage cans like a .45 or something. If it hits a wall, it’ll cause magnificent structural damage, but it won’t go through.

    How bad are the assumptions I’m making here, gun people?Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:


      You aren’t wrong, and what constitutes a proper home defense weapon is one of the great geek fights of gun culture.Report

    • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

      What you’re saying is in many respects true. In addition to what Oscar said, another issue is being able to wield the weapon effectively. Rifles built for bringing down large game are typically bigger, heavier, and, in my experience, take more practice to be able to use effectively. They are not built for defending yourself from an assailant in close quarters.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      If you’re shooting someone in your kitchen, you probably want something that does MASSIVE damage to anything within 10 feet but then quickly peters out beyond that.

      Hollow points. As a dude I once bought a hand gun from said (para): “What I’d do is get some hollow points. It’ll blow a hole out the back of him big as a cantaloupe.”

      Which had the ironical result of me breaking down the gun into its constituent parts, all placed in different locations.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

        Really depends on what it hits. Hits a stud or wooden/stone siding, it’ll stop. But two half inch sheets of drywall won’t do much to a hollow point.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Jesus, there’s just no winning with you guys. 🙂Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:


            If you are really concerned about overpenetration, you buy frangible rounds, not hollow points.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              On the level of personal use, I’m not concerned about it one way or the other. Jaybird mentioned that as an issue and I provided one answer. Taken to it’s conclusion, if collateral damage from shooting people in a kitchen is an issue, then why not opt for tazers and just ditch the high caliber, semi-auto, extended magazine yaddayad?

              As I’ve said previously (tho I haven’t said explicitly in any of the recent threads) my issue with guns in America is fundamentally focused on gun culture and not tactical solutions or narrowly focused laws….

              Parts of American culture seem to me defined, at least in part, by a love of punition, a love of pure power concepts, an embrace of irrational (in my view) radical individualism, an acceptance that the use of lethal violence against Others is a Just Desert, which, when combined with the Culture of Guns, gives me the fucking heeby jeebies.

              I won’t say more. I’m doing my best to stay outa these threads anymore. For my own good, but everyone else’s too. 🙂Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Pretty sure I’ve made clear that I’m all for less than lethal self defense options, and the more options out there, the better.

                But many of the current options have glaring issues. Tasers, for example, are very expensive to practice with (Taser reload is $30/shot), and if you miss, or hit but fail to complete the circuit, you won’t have time to reload the Taser.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                But many of the current options have glaring issues. Tasers, for example,

                Right on que… 🙂

                (I actually (privately) predicted That.Exact.Response.)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well that isn’t all that hard, Oh Mighty Karnak, since I’ve said that exact thing many times before, hereabout.


                But honestly, I want the less than lethal options to be better, way better. We’ve gotten very good at devising ways to kill an assailant. I want more effort on finding ways to incapacitate.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                You misunderstand. My prediction was that the entire substance of my comment regarding gun culture and violence would go unaddressed EXCEPT a response focusing on the tactical merits of using tazers when reliable, efficient lethal stopping power is what’s really at issue…Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                I thought I made a respectable effort at discussing culture last time I posted on this topic.Report

        • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          People put their fists through drywall all the time. It’s construction paper and very, very soft stone.Report

  10. Morat20 says:

    There’s also the question of what do we want gun control to address. Mass shootings? That’s one thing. Gun deaths in general — including suicides? That’s another.

    Suicide via gun is generally handgun. (I mean you CAN with a rifle or shotgun, but that takes a lot more work). Mass shootings — it seems handguns show up in places where pre-crime concealment was really needed to get to whatever you wanted to shoot, and rifles are a lot more common.

    I dunno. It’s a complicated subject, and none of my ideas would get anywhere in any possible American landscape. I suppose as a first step, I’d think heavily curtailing public carry in any form and instituting more stringent transport requirements.

    I know several people with carry licences. Not one of them needs to spend their day tooled up. Not even remotely. Every minute they spend in public with their gun(s) (yes, one carries two) is an accident waiting to happen. If they were out on their 60 acres or hiking in the deep woods, that’s one thing.

    I’d be happy just reducing the capacity for accidents, and that doesn’t infringe anyone’s rights to own a gun at all. Asking that you leave your gun in a case when you’re moving it from point A to B rather than carry it on your hip isn’t a huge imposition

    I’d add in confiscation and destruction of weapons being illegally carried in public (if the police don’t already do it. Which they might).

    I’d probably add in a buy-back program. Yeah, trade in some old clunkers and get a better gun. That’s still less guns on the street, and frankly you’re less likely to loan out your shiny new gun OR leave it lying around. Long term, even if every gun owner in America gleefully abuses the program to upgrade to the shiny new awesome, that’s still a new reduction in the number of guns floating around over time.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Morat20 says:

      “Suicide via gun is generally handgun. (I mean you CAN with a rifle or shotgun, but that takes a lot more work).”

      Per Irving “Fletch” Fletcher, it’s possible, at least for a cowboy hero, for someone to commit suicide with a bow and arrow. It’s weird enough to damage resale value of one’s house, though.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Morat20 says:


      I see the arguments against concealed carry on the street, however they are very, very few stories of someone with a CDW doing something bad with their gun, and more stories of them stopping crimes.

      I would actually be willing to dial back CDWs if they made it easier to transport across state lines and keep a gun for emergencies while traveling. My biggest fear is being 500 miles from home on a work trip when an earthquake hits the eastern U.S. and having to get back to my family. A CDW is currently the best way to make sure I have a firearm with me in that scenario.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I see the arguments against concealed carry on the street, however they are very, very few stories of someone with a CDW doing something bad with their gun, and more stories of them stopping crimes.

        I’d prefer data, not anecdotes and am happy to see where that leads us.

        Also, let’s be honest — your fear is really ow probability. Your biggest fear that a firearm protects against is actually multiple low probability events (an earthquake big enough to disrupt government, you being far enough away from home that you’re across state lines, and then instant anarchy).

        Even the more common “self-defense if I’m attacked” thing is, for average Americans, a really low probability. (Protection from animals in the woods is higher probability, which is also balanced by a much lower human population in the immediate area). You take large numbers of people “protecting” themselves against low-probability incidents, and what you get is…..

        Very few people using the gun for it’s intended use. A whole lot of mis-fires, impulse shootings, accidents, and other mistakes.

        Societally, there really should be a balance. Your right to carry a gun should be balanced against my right to not get perforated by some idiot who dropped his stupid gun, the gun he didn’t really need to have on him in a Denny’s.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

          It still shouldn’t be such a pain to transport firearms across state lines. It’s another of those “eff you” laws whose existence makes moving somewhere constructive difficult.Report

          • Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Oscar Gordon:
            It still shouldn’t be such a pain to transport firearms across state lines.It’s another of those “eff you” laws whose existence makes moving somewhere constructive difficult.

            Just so we’re clear, the ultimate source of your difficulty here is a (supposedly) bedrock conservative principle, i.e., federalism, aka states’ rights, aka local control.

            Also to be clear, I can totally sympathize. My job, and the business of operating as an interstate carrier, would be an incredible PITA absent the primacy of the Federal DOT and FMCSA.

            And this may or may not be much of a gotcha against you in particular since I can’t really recall where you generally come down on such matters, but for many on your side of this issue it looks a lot like “freedom for me but not for thee.”Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

              My conservatism is less bedrock, more loamy .Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:


              FYI the feds have spoken about this. The problem, as I stated elsewhere, is that some eastern states don’t actually obey the feds on this, and will mess with people, confiscate and destroy firearms, and cause them to go through the process of appealing the conviction up to the federal level, where the feds promptly toss it.

              Do you ever have trouble with a state ignoring federal law and making life difficult for trucking?Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oscar Gordon,

                Absolutely. Hey, I already said I sympathize with your position in that regard. Interestingly, it’s the western states that tend to give us more grief. California and Oregon immediately come to mind.

                In general, however, states can impose somewhat tighter rules about certain kinds of things, but other things not so much, and I’m not sure what guiding principles, if any, are operating there.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

                Sorry, didn’t mean to come across as curt. I was honestly curious if you have such issues (I figured you did, but I have no clue what form they take).Report

        • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

          Just IN Time isn’t instant anarchy, but it’s pretty close.
          Mike’s in logistics, don’t think he doesn’t know our country’s strategic flaws.Report

        • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

          “You take large numbers of people “protecting” themselves against low-probability incidents, and what you get is…..”

          No, that’s if people are jackdamn idiots. If you’re protecting yourself against doomsday, you don’t even need your guns in the same state as yourself. You definitely don’t need them loaded and ready for bear.

          Most people carrying guns for self-defense can’t call the police and expect them to help. (please note: gangsters do call the police after they’ve shot people)Report

      • I would actually be willing to dial back CDWs if they made it easier to transport across state lines and keep a gun for emergencies while traveling. My biggest fear is being 500 miles from home on a work trip when an earthquake hits the eastern U.S. and having to get back to my family. A CDW is currently the best way to make sure I have a firearm with me in that scenario.

        Mike… listen to yourself here. You want to (probably) fly into my part of the country with a CDW and some (probably large) number of rounds. Your reason is so that in the unlikely event of a sufficiently large natural disaster, you can — and I don’t see any other way to interpret the threat — murder some number of people here to steal a car and enough gasoline to drive home.

        I describe my partition conspiracy as lunatic fringe. But honestly, if that attitude is widespread in your part of the country, that’s an easy case for me to make that we should have real, serious, as in national not state sorts of border control between here and there.Report

        • @michael-cain

          Wow. In the 20 years since I first got on the internet that is the first time I have ever been accused of plotting a murder. It’s ludicrous that I am responding, but here goes:

          Natural disasters are a very real possibility. Remember Hurricane Katrina? Or riots. Remember LA after Rodney King? So yeah, it might be hard to get back home and there could be a situation along the way where I have to defend myself but when I fly I still get a rental car. So, no, murder wasn’t part of the plan.

          Jesus Christ… that was bizarre.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            No, he’s got a point. Your go-to example involves:

            1) A massive disaster. Not Katrina, much, much worse. (There literally wasn’t much violence in Katrina. Some looting, most of which was for “water and food” and not TVs).
            2) The complete collapse of civil order. Apparently cops aren’t out, there’s anarchy and such.
            3) You actually come under threat in this situation.
            4) But you can still get home by some method other than “walking” that’s quicker than “waiting for crap to get repaired”.

            That is, bluntly, crazy.

            Katrina? No roving gangs. Ike? No roving gangs. The last several major earthquakes? No roving gangs. Allison, that drowned Houston? No roving gangs. Sandy? No roving gangs.

            None of them saw massive civil unrest, none of them saw massive spikes in violent crimes, and all of them had basic transportation up in a matter of days. Electricity took awhile longer.

            And that’s your go-to scenario for why you need a CC permit for multiple states. A series of events an order of magnitude less likely than winning the lottery, because someone actually does win the lotteryReport

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Morat20 says:


              If the New Madrid fault goes, which is within the realm of possibility, it is projected that as many as 7 million people could be displaced. That is well beyond the capability of local law enforcement to handle. I have to get through that to get back home. So yeah, a gun makes me feel a bit safer. Likewise for my family auto breaking down in a rural area in the middle of the night. Or a dozen other scenarios that I might consider. You’re welcome to call them crazy or something else, but that is my choice.

              So how about we get back on topic…okay?Report

            • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

              Argentina. Who said it was going to be a natural disaster?
              1 in 4 shot of civil unrest in America in the next eight years, Hillary or no Hillary (the bet on that second one is Sue Collins).Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            So yeah, it might be hard to get back home and there could be a situation along the way where I have to defend myself

            Jesus, I gotta say Mike, the logic employed here is breathtaking. In the event of a natural disaster your first and fundamental worry is blasting your way back home? From a disaster area? That’s really fucking crazy dude.Report

            • Joe Sal in reply to Stillwater says:

              Still, have you ever had to fight three guys because you were walking through their neighborhood? Not talking punk 16 year olds, but twenty somethings with the main strong man being 6′-7″ and 325 pounds. His buddy to the left holding a tire iron. Territorial disputes can get pretty interesting even without a disaster.

              Some stuff you just can’t logically predict, humans being the biggie.Report

          • I get the rental car. But why the big fuss about the collision damage waiver?Report

          • North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Guys, seriously, unless the idea is somehow travelling at light speed around the country and hectoring every gun owner in the country on their reasons for wanting to own guns like some kind of demented gun-control Santa Clause is there any productive point to this?Report

            • Stillwater in reply to North says:

              What’s the point of any of it anymore, North? If a guy can seriously attempt to justify carrying when he travels out west because it’s possible the continent might split in half causing him to have to shoot his way back home, we’ve reached Peak Insanity when it comes to justification. We’ve literally hit the bottom of the argumentative barrel.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Stillwater says:


                Is any form of prepping, or disaster-prepardness, justifiable in your opinion?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Have you thought about a meteor strike, Mike? Or the sun going supernova? It’s bound to happen at some point, ya know.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Stillwater says:

                So do you want to make dumb jokes, or answer the question? I’ll ask again: Is any kind of disaster preparedness justified in your opinion?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Thought I did. Preparing for an earthquake you have to shoot your way thru to get home is insane to me.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                On the other hand, purchasing a Honda 3000 generator doesn’t strike me as unreasonable…Report

              • notme in reply to Stillwater says:

                And when folks without a generator decide to take yours, what are you going to do? Call the cops that have bigger problems, give it to them and hope they don’t kill you or resist?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to notme says:

                Use my tactical nukes on them. Which I’d have if the courts took the 2nd seriously.Report

              • Damon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Dude the nukes are only for the “final” solution. You use your .50 cal sniper rifle and up close your twin .50 cal machine guns. Use mortars in the mid range. Up close, whip out your flame throw and grenades.Report

              • Dave in reply to notme says:


                And when folks without a generator decide to take yours, what are you going to do? Call the cops that have bigger problems, give it to them and hope they don’t kill you or resist?

                Oh some of the stories I’ve heard in the post-Sandy world of NJ before power was restored and gas supplies got back online…yikes!!!

                It’s the kind of stuff that isn’t supposed to happen so we’ll file it under fiction. 😉Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dave says:

                @dave @notme
                The stories I’ve heard (and experienced) in the aftermath of a natural disaster are that neighbors share resources, check on each other, and in general form peaceful nonviolent cooperative communities.

                Is it different where you live?Report

              • Kim in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                All that lasts until we run out of food and water. Just In Time says that we have about 1-3 days worth of food.

                Lose roads, and you’ve got starving kids, roaming gangs, and people taking things by force.

                Guns don’t get you much in these situations, really — friends get you more, because you have to sleep.Report

              • Kim in reply to Dave says:

                Someone was running a data center on tequila…Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Stillwater says:

                No one is talking about shooting their way through a natural disaster. But it’s exactly that kind of intentional hyperbole that makes so many on the Left look bad in these kinds of discussions.

                Anyway, that’s enough on the subject.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                No one is talking about shooting their way through a natural disaster.

                Dude named Mike Dwyer did: So yeah, it might be hard to get back home and there could be a situation along the way where I have to defend myselfReport

              • Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                You guys should really read about Argentina.Report

              • Dave in reply to Stillwater says:

                Stillwater: No one is talking about shooting their way through a natural disaster.

                Dude named Mike Dwyer did: So yeah, it might be hard to get back home and there could be a situation along the way where I have to defend myself

                Please tell me you’re smart enough to know the difference between contemplating self defense and openly advocating shooting people.

                I’m kind of a skeptic on these matters so my guess is if I made a comment like the one Mike made, not a single one of you would have responded the same way. That’s actually kind of sad when I think about it, but that’s the way I feel.

                These conversations are completely counterproductive and tend to bring out the asshole in everyone, myself included.Report

              • Kim in reply to Dave says:

                Yeah, people really did jump on Mike.
                If I, a noted liberal, made the same comment… well, *shrugs*

                My guns are out west, unlike Mike’s. Rural west has a lot of space to disappear into, if needed.

                Unlike Mike, my backup plans also include immigration to Canada (under the general “Germany in the 1930’s” scenario of America starts cracking down on people leaving).

                ALWAYS have a backup plan!Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

                The Anschluss happened before things really started going to s***. The Nazis made it easier as time progressed (until Poland) to GTFO of Germany (if you didn’t want to bring anything with you) – what was difficult is finding places that would take you.Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                My point is that people will have an assortment of reasons for wanting guns. If the only conversation to be had is gun-restrictionists belief that those reasons are irrational or inadequate vs gun rights advocates assertion to the contrary then the conversation is effectively over and the only thing left for gun-restrictionists is to go after the 2nd amendment itself which, considering the difficulty of constitutional amendments, is basically admitting defeat in all but the long run.Report

            • trizzlor in reply to North says:


              The self-defense case is fundamentally going to seem irrational to people. We’re talking about extremely low-probability / high-damage events here. How you feel about them is always going to depend on a whole host of priors that you will probably not be able to recognize or articulate.Report

          • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Natural disasters are a certainty if you live certain places. They’re not a very likely possibility if you live other places.

            Guns don’t help you if you need to sleep (granted, if you sleep way out in the boonies, you’re pretty safe).Report

    • Guy in reply to Morat20 says:

      Is the carry/transport distinction even defined in the law? I recall a case in NJ involving a guy getting arrested with some kind of carrying-related charge for a gun in his trunk, which seems more like transport to me.

      In my head, I think of carrying as keeping a gun close at hand (holster, glove box, etc), and transport as moving a gun from point A to point B while otherwise basically still having it in storage (in your trunk; even in the bottom of your backpack, probably). Were I gun-dictator, I would just regulate those differently. For example, transported guns should probably be unloaded at all times. Carried guns, if allowed (I go back and forth), probably have some restrictions on their characteristics and require training and licensing.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Guy says:

        Transport (and carry, but that is different) across state lines is more of an issue back east. Most of the western states just want the weapon unloaded and in a case separate from the ammo in the cargo area of the vehicle, so crossing a state line isn’t likely going to be an issue, since the requirements are largely the same, and violations of them are, generally, misdemeanor kinda things.

        The east coast, on the other hand, especially the NY-NJ-MA corridor, has some ridiculous transport requirements that are not consistent across state lines, and they have little respect for the federal law that says that a person passing through is not obligated to meet all such requirements (they’ll arrest and try you for a felony until you appeal it to the federal level, where it promptly gets tossed).Report

  11. Road Scholar says:

    Thanks, Mike. I long for an intelligent discussion on this topic. All too many of these conversations get bogged down over details that, quite frankly, really aren’t important to a casual discussion like this. I mean, I grok that all those details of caliber and muzzle velocity and firing rates and such are endlessly fascinating to someone inclined to be so fascinated by such things, but to the rest of us it’s akin to eavesdropping on a conversation among car aficionados or a heated discussion at a Comic-Con.

    Take for example, clips vs magazines. Now I understand that there’s a difference between the two and I even understand what that difference is and that someone knowledgeable about guns would never confuse the two. But I also understand that when someone less knowledgeable about firearms mistakenly uses the wrong word they basically are referring to that thingamabob they saw on TV that lets someone quickly reload a gun for the purpose of efficiently killing more people at the mall or nightclub. I also know that the GRA knows quite well what the GCA is talking about and that making a big deal about the nomenclature is just a diversionary tactic intended to shut down the conversation. It’s akin to playing grammar Nazi. “Ha! You used ‘there’ when you clearly meant ‘they’re’. You are a fool and therefore your opinion is null and void!”

    To your point 1: Yes, the term “assault weapon” suffers from imprecision, but like the clip/magazine thing, it’s more than a little disingenuous to pretend not to know what your interlocutor is referring to. The funny thing is, my understanding is that the term was introduced by a gun manufacturer for marketing purposes. Whether that’s historically accurate or not is largely beside the point (though interesting if true, given how it gets under the skin of GRAs). What I find amusing is how GRAs dismiss the concerns of GCAs about “scary looking” tacticool when that scary look appears to be the precise thing you’re willing to pay a premium to possess.

    It’s analogous to “sports” cars. Very difficult to define precisely or, particularly, legally, yet, like pornography, you pretty much know it when you see it. I also have to wonder… if there were a law or regulation dictating that high-performance cars had to look like Corollas or minivans — you know, booooring — would street racing be much of a thing?

    Which is all to say that I wonder if the styling, the “tacticool”, might not actually be a more important factor than you want to admit. Not because it somehow magically renders the weapon inherently more lethal or dangerous, but because of the type of person who is disproportionately more attracted to that sort of thing in the same way that a Camaro or Corvette attracts a certain kind of reckless showoff. Essentially, it feeds a fantasy.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

      Which is all to say that I wonder if the styling, the “tacticool”, might not actually be a more important factor than you want to admit.

      I made a similar comment on a FB discussion, that I think part of the reason most of these killings happen with a 5.56 AR-15 (or similar) is because the same platform in the larger, much deadlier calibers are not as available in tacticool black (since they tend to be actual hunting rifles, so have wood furniture or woodland camo paint). Likewise, you rarely see killers toting Ruger Mini-14s, even though they are also 5.56 semi-auto and almost half the price.

      Killers gotta have style, even if they aren’t consciously thinking about it.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        If you’re buying a gun to go shoot up a bunch of people, you want something as military as possible (especially if you’re not an expert in guns) because, well, isn’t that what military guns are for? (Not…exactly, but to a layman certainly).

        If you’re buying for self defense and you expect hordes of, say, dark men assaulting your house — you again turn to “military”. You’re like a soldier under siege.

        Both rely on the fact that most people will be the hero’s of their own stories. If they’re violating social norms, they’ll cast it as “for a greater good” or some such. Some greater morality that overrides that contemporary one, you know? So casting themselves as “soldiers” — even if by simply using guns that resemble those used by the military — fits into their image.

        Now if I bought a gun for home defense, I’d start with the fact that I’m highly unlikely to ever need to use it, and if for some reason I pushed past that fact then pushed past the fact that a collapsible baton would be far more efficient in my hands, I’d settle for a shotgun. I’ve handled them, they’re fairly simple to fire and load, I can get one with three to five round capacity, they’re quick to load, and unless I’m really dumb with ammunition it’s not going to go through walls.

        And while the spread isn’t that far at 5 or 10 feet, I’m still more likely to hit them than with a handgun or rifle.

        And worst case, it’s a bigger club than a handgun. I wouldn’t go for a military rifle because I don’t see myself as a soldier, I don’t really see myself as getting attacked, and if I’m going to have it in my house I’m going to go with what’s efficient and easy for me to use.

        Which is why I’d probably just get pepper spray and a baton. Seriously, asp’s are nasty.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Morat20 says:

          I wanted to be clear that when I say “you want a gun like X for a mass shooting because it’s like a military gun” I mean that as in “You don’t know much about guns, but plan to do X” because the logic “the military uses this, ergo it’s for shooting a lot of people really well” is pretty obvious to someone who wants to go shoot a bunch of people but doesn’t really have a ton of firearm expertise.

          Not because I personally think an AR-15 is clearly the superior room killing machine for civilians.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:


            BTW, I agree with this:

            “I mean that as in “You don’t know much about guns, but plan to do X” because the logic “the military uses this, ergo it’s for shooting a lot of people really well” is pretty obvious to someone who wants to go shoot a bunch of people but doesn’t really have a ton of firearm expertise.”

            It was one of the reasons I suggested having a community approval requirement in my last post about firearms. Too many low information gun buyers.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

          I keep Bear Spray in my nightstand, and a kukri behind it. I had an Asp, but it got stolen out of the car when we moved & I haven’t replaced it yet.

          The bear spray is nasty stuff and sprays a lot further than your average purse spray, although it is the size of a small fire extinguisher.Report

          • Patrick in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            The kukri is probably one of the better home defense weapons if you know how to use it.

            I’ve held a lot of weapons in my time, but the kukri is the one that made me say, “Yeah, I understand how folks that made these were thinkin’ ‘I could kill a whole slew of folks with one of these’ during the design phase.”Report

            • Kim in reply to Patrick says:

              Knives are pretty bad, because knives tend to get you up close and personal. That and people tend to overestimate their ability with the things.

              For an odd form of self defense, there’s always the yo-yo. Or if you’re better at stealth (it is your house, after all), try the blackjack.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Patrick says:

              And also I could hack my way through a jungle, cut down a tree, or otherwise use this for things that don’t involve the corpses of my foes.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Patrick says:


              Not to mention, they make an excellent melon knife!Report

  12. Mike Dwyer says:


    I try really hard not to get hung up on terminology most of the time (I even say clip sometimes just because I grew up in the 80s and that’s what the movies called them). The assault weapon thing is problematic but not a deal-breaker, which is also why I used it here. Of course, the way it is defined IS problematic, so that’s something to consider.

    I think you’re right about the tacticool aspect and I would be lying if that wasn’t somerhing that appealed to myself and others. I think those guns are sexy as hell, not because I need my manhood augmented, but in the subjective way I also love a ’68 Camaro and an art deco building. I guess I don’t see it as a bad thing. Plus, they are fun as hell to shoot.

    What I would disagree with is how it might attract the wrong people any more than other dangerous things. Most gun lovers are very responsible. I doubt the percentage that arent is any higher than the number of people who are irresponsible with (insert other dangerous things here).Report

  13. Chip Daniels says:

    Yes, its a good idea to begin with what we want to accomplish, which prompts us to decide what the problem is.

    First off, I believe that spree killers, the suicidal kind, shouldn’t be a focus. There just isn’t any way a free society can adequately prevent these sorts of killers without warping ourselves into a different sort of society.

    Second, there are multiple problems to address, and each would respond differently to different solutions.

    The biggest problem that should be addressed, is that violence of any kind, harms society in ways that go beyond just the immediate victim or property damage.

    Having lived through several riots, multiple hysterias of everything from the Zodiac Killer (yeah, I was a kid riding a school bus when Ted Cruz was out there and everyone was freaked); the Satanic Pedophile Panic of the 80s to the Night Stalker, I can testify that crime and violence and disorder chafes away the trust and kinship society needs to function.

    Even just the fear of it, rational or not, present or not.

    This is the core of my objection to the “An armed society is a polite society” stuff; it isn’t. An armed society is a society that has lost its ability to function, that has admitted that it can no longer control its most horrific impulses.

    If an armed society was a polite society, by that logic a society of boarded up windows, razor wire, guard dogs and militia checkpoints would be the most polite of all.

    It wasn’t God, guts, and guns that made America great.

    It was quilting bees, barn raisings, Sunday picnics; the mutual interdependence of social norms and boundaries that were respected, the peaceful gathering of citizens at pubs and social gatherings where the spirit of trust and safety flowed like water.

    There is a too-large group of people in America who have a disturbed and unhealthy relationship to violence and the guns that represent it. The gun nuts that I’ve known, the ones I grew up with and met at the range, were not people soberly responding to a threat; most were men who had the wish for violence, who harbored rage and fear and insecurity; they both feared and fantasized about the coming apocalypse, where they would stand heroic against the hordes.

    These are the ones who need to be confronted, shunned and shamed.Report

  14. j r says:

    I get the magazine argument and don’t think that thirty-round magazines is the hill to die on, but it is more complicated. The basic combat load of an American infantryman is 210 rounds, carried in seven thirty-round mags, one in the weapon and six in ammo pouches.

    The obvious question is “why thirty?” Why not 50 or 100? There lots of reasons why more isn’t necessarily better: weight, the fact that magazines and rounds jam, the ability to give and take mags from others. That’s said, thirty is probably the optimal number for someone likely to be in a firefight.

    So, sure it’s probably harder to kill a lot of people with a bunch of ten-round-mags than a bunch of thirty. But the saying in the army is that you train how you fight. So put me in a situation where I only have tens and I’m going to practice with tens. I’m going to practice mag changes. I’m going to optimize how to change mags in the least vulnerable way. And I’m probably going to be more selective with my shots.

    All of this really depends on who the shooter is, what their intentions are, and how lucid they are. Of the history of warfare and criminal justice and fighting in general has taught us anything, though, it’s that human beings are really resourceful in coming up with ways to harm other people.

    tl:dr – Sure, ban “high capacity” mags, but don’t expect too much from it. My slightly informed opinion tells me two things. One, mass shootings are a phenomenon that are going to rise and fall almost entirely on factors outside of regulation. Two, the answer to the larger gun control and crime issue likely rests in safety training and licensing, maybe registration; the rest is about feelings and appearances.Report

  15. Stillwater says:

    Well, let’s acknowledge … Let’s also consider … Lastly, let’s put the focus on handguns … What are we then left with as a solution? I honestly do not know but that is the conversation I would like to have. So let’s talk.

    First question: does gun violence constitute a real problem? (Like, I dunno, maybe some people don’t think it is, ya know.)

    If it is a problem, can it be solved legislatively with accompanying enforcement? (Some people think it can’t.)

    If not, is there a cultural solution? (Lots of people think there isn’t.)

    If there is a cultural solution, what would that look like? How would it interact, if at all, with legislative solutions? What steps could gun owners take to protect their rights to own guns consistent with a recognition that gun violence is a problem? What concession would they be willing to make?

    I don’t really have any answers to that except to note that rejecting the legislation & enforcement option while also denying that culture plays a role puts gun rights activists who think there’s a gun violence problem in a bit of a pickle. Not, of course, gun rights owners who think gun violence isn’t a problem, tho…Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      A buddy of mine told me a story the other day of riding his bike in the mountains behind his house. He got to small clearing off a two-track road and saw a whole section of the pine trees mowed down buy gun fire. Like, dozens of trees, all felled by bullets. (And this was public land, gaddamit!) In my mind, I think “well, teenagers do all sorts of stupid things before they grow up, and then they look back on those actions with regret….”Report

  16. j r says:

    does gun violence constitute a real problem?

    I would suggest that you start by disaggregating. “Gun violence” means a lot of things: mass shootings, street crime, gangs, domestic violence, self-defense, suicide, etc.

    I’m not sure that anyone has rejected anything at a group level, which is part of the issue. There are some gun owners who don’t want to cede any ground and some who’d be happy to adopt more safety regulations so long as they were assured continued recognition of the individual right to bear arms. Just like there are some gun control advocates who are happy to recognize that individual right and others who basically want to stop individuals possessing anything other than a restricted number of hunting rifles.

    This is tricky, because you can’t have this conversation without recognizing the importance of culture. At the same, time once it becomes completely about culture and political identity, progress becomes impossible.

    Getting the language right doesn’t solve any of these problems, but it makes sure that we are all talking about the same thing as opposed to talking past one another.Report

  17. Michael Drew says:

    I remain in general supportive of “reasonable”* gun control laws. I think the 2nd Amendment has been wrongly interpreted to contain a strong protection for a personal right to own a very wide range of weapons for essentially whatever purpose one desires up until some non-gun-based law is broken. Etc., etc. Typical liberal on guns, whatever.

    But I have come around to this view of the gun control advocacy movement/Democrats-on-guns: they don’t know what the hell they actually want to do, and do’t know how to now, and don’t really care anyway. There are certain things they’d like to do that are within the range of political plausibility. But I’ve become convinced that if Democrats were given one-time unrestricted reins to make gun control policy (but still had to live with political consequences afterward), and that policy were going to be devised by the leading gun control advocacy orgs, they (the Dems) would still have no idea exactly what measures and systems they would want to put in place. I’m not even sure if they know what problems they would want to try to solve first. Mass shooters? That’s really the only time we hear from them on the topic, and all their proposals center around mass shooters and guns use in terrorism. What about the broad, entropic reality that so many more people are shot in America because we have so many guns here? The issue is that any way to really.

    There’s a degree to which (some would obviously laugh at that lukewarm hedging) the political routine after mass shootings have just become sad rituals now. Democrats propose “reasonable” or politically clever measures like tightening background checks or restricting the right to buy a gun for those on terrorism watch lists, and a political point is made about the intractability of the political process and the power of the gun lobby when these reasonable measures don’t pass.

    Okay, fine, that’s great. But at this point I’m lost. Do Democrats claim that these measures are solutions? That they are what is needed to make a real dent in the frequency and lethality of mass shootings, and in the background level of entropic gun violence and accidents? I just have a hard time believing that the kinds of proposals we’re getting right now reflect what it is thought is actually necessary – if it’s even possible – to “solve” gun violence to the extent that Democrats believe it’s possible and still desirable to do so given the trade-offs. I’d really like to know what, if they could do whatever they wanted to curb gun violence (though still had to face the voters thereafter), Democrats and GCAs (and those answers will be different, I realize) think should be done. Take political plausibility (veto points and so forth), though not political consequences, out of the equation. What actually is the right type of gun control policy for the United States? Not just the “surely you can’t claim this policy isn’t reasonable, gun rights groups” policies, but the whole slate (or main prongs) of what is actually the right policy. At this point I feel I have a better sense of the kind of policies that gun rights advocates ideally want than of the kinds that the smartest gun control groups and Democrats would want if they could make policy on their own.

    * – Intentional weasel word!Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …The issue is that any way to really try to address the overall (background, non-psychopathic, non-politically-driven mass shooting-type) gun violence problem – street violence – through gun control probably requires some really dramatic measures. Buy-backs followed by seizures, etc. and even then, the criminals aren’t going to give up their guns.

      I’m not saying I would never be for such things, but I would like to know what the gun control advocacy side would actually like to do. Because it’s getting harder and harder not to see the post-gun-atrocity political two-step as anything other than a staged dance put on for the benefit of officeholders’ messagemeisters. And that’s because it’s getting harder and harder to believe that the proposals being offered are really what our representatives view as solutions, or anywhere in the ballpark.Report

    • The whole gun control debate in the USA is over; the gun nuts have won. So the people in favor of gun control are just ranting about it knowing full well that no matter what happens nothing will be done. Look at the discussion here, for example. On one hand there’s an ongoing series of mass murders with guns, and on the other hand there is the fantasy of a complete collapse of civil society into mad max-style anarchy, and we’ve gotta have our guns because of the latter.Report

    • trizzlor in reply to Michael Drew says:

      >>But I have come around to this view of the gun control advocacy movement/Democrats-on-guns: they don’t know what the hell they actually want to do, and do’t know how to now, and don’t really care anyway.

      Great comment and an important point. I’m someone who is agnostic about gun regulation and the biggest reason is that I don’t see any coherent proposals from Democrats *at all*. I see a lot of parallels between the gun debate and the abortion debate. Both have been strongly settled by the SCOTUS and would require massive changes to society to undo. And so the advocates against both have settled on marginal nuisance measures that make the process more frustrating or more embarassing. Sometimes these nuisance measures add up to what is effectively a ban, but they are never really targeting root causes. At the federal level, symbolic measures that express scorn (defund planned parenthood / ban gun sales to the terror watch list) are supported over more effective solutions that don’t. [as a side point, while it initially made no sense to me why gun advocates would be against collecting gun death statistics, imagine how the left would react to a bill promoted by anti-abortion advocates to collect statistics on abortions]. When rare but gruesome tragedies happen (spree killings / abortion doctor malpractice) the anti’s see it as reflection of the entire industry that spurs regulation and the pro’s see it as a freak outlier that’s just going to happen whether you regulate it or not.

      In that context, I think the only effective gun regulation will come from the gun owners themselves. And I’m not seeing a whole lot of engagement on their part. If it happens, it will be a long cultural shift. It will necessitate a liberal version of the NRA; liberal gun clubs; perhaps even liberal gun manufacturers. Basically, the anti-gun folks have to get involved in gun culture and then move for regulations from inside.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Wow, this is a really cool group. It’s heartening that there’s some interest in splitting “right wing” from “gun owner”. At the same time, I’m surprised to see their talking points not even close to the sort of thing pro-regulation folks are proposing. Do any of these positions strike you as a big change from where the NRA is? Or is this mostly about just having a club where you’re not gonna find Obama’s face on a paper target?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

            Not sure, I’d have to research the NRA positions. I don’t pay much attention to the NRA.

            Personally, I have no issue with training and proficiency requirements for ownership and carry, as long as they aren’t set so only SWAT, Spec Ops, & competition shooters can hope to meet them.

            And any social problem should be looking hard at root cause mitigation, since history has shown that strict regulations and bans on things people want are at best stop gaps, not long term solutions.Report

            • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              >>since history has shown that strict regulations and bans on things people want are at best stop gaps, not long term solutions.

              From what Mike was saying below, the auto weapons ban has been effective and gun owners don’t seem to begrudge it. I believe the regulations on explosives have also effectively curtailed large-scale acts as well (requiring DIY improvisation like pressure cookers).Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                The key is “things people want”. The population that legally wants full auto, or explosives, is small enough that severe regulations are effective.

                Semi auto with detachable magazines is a thing a very large population legally wants (& already owns), so there will be considerable political resistance if the regulations are burdensome.

                Of course, if you can convince that population that proposed regs are burdensome, or a camels nose (thanks to the words of well known extremists (Feinstein, being painted as representative of the moderates), you can rally that resistance early.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I feel like these conversations fall into a pattern:

                Q: What are some small-scale regulations that would reduce the effectiveness of a spree killer?
                A: Regulations don’t work.
                Q: What about these regulations that worked?
                A: Those were small-scale, the problem is large-scale regulations wouldn’t work. Also you should focus on the problems of why bad people do evil things, that’s more tractable.

                When the proposal is small it’s rejected as not solving the entire problem (see other thread where magazine restrictions were rejected because a proficient gun owner could still reload quickly). When the proposal is large it’s rejected as being too sweeping to be acceptable to the gun-owning community. I’m inclined to agree with other commenters that the whole “let’s have a conversation about gun regulation” is just posturing. The reality is “let’s you propose some gun regulations and I’ll find reasons not to support them”. Which is fine. You go into a pro-choice forum and ask what kind of restrictions on abortion would be tolerable people are going to tell you to pound sand. But at least they own it.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                I’m not saying large scale regulations wouldn’t work, I’m saying you’ll have a hell of a time getting them going.

                If a hypothetical semi-auto rifle ban passed, and you got the vast bulk of those weapons turned in & destroyed, it would work as well as the full auto restriction did. But you got two massive political hurdles to overcome to get there.

                It’s not that I’m telling you it won’t work, I’m asking you if that hill is really worth attacking, because the defenders are seriously dug in, and well armed and supplied, and taking that hill will net you a very small realistic gain toward your stated goal (reducing death from firearms).

                Now if your actual goal is to try & severely wound the gun rights crowd, then trying to take that hill might be worth it, but you might want to make sure the rest of your allies are willing to join you, especially if they aren’t really interested in that hill.

                So, pick your battles. If you really want to address the issue of firearm related violence, your real target should very much be handguns, not semi-auto rifles, and if you are going after handguns, you should probably have some kind of alternative(s) ready to offer people who truly fear for their lives and want some means of self protection.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon : This is kind of what I’m getting at. Let’s say you overheard the following conversation:

                Q: I just witnessed a loved one die of lung cancer and it’s motivated me to work on ways to discourage smoking.
                A: Well, if you really want to address the issue of cancer related deaths your target would be breast cancer. And if you do that, you better be prepared to disentangle an extremely complex and heterogeneous disease.

                What would you think of that person? Would this attitude even come up in any other policy debate? Do you think we should just be walking dispassionately down the “causes of death” list and solving each one entirely before we go to the next, irrespective of how difficult they are; how gruesome; what impact they have on society; whether they are intentional or accidental; etc. I was struck by this in Mike’s post as well: “Still, people want to talk about assault rifles…”. Did you guys not get the memo that the most deadly mass shooting in US history just happened, involving an assault rifle? And the major one before that, killing 14, involved an assault rifle? In fact, if you follow Mike’s link you can compile two sets of numbers:



                can you guess which of those lists corresponds to deaths in spree killings involving assault rifles? So yeah, people want to talk about assault rifles.

                I do take your point though that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of small-scale proposals on the table. Staring at Mike’s “How they got their guns” link, here’s what I could see as the start of negotiations for the GCAs:

                * Strict magazine limits
                * Firearms with detachable magazines have to go through the same licensing hoops as full-auto.
                * The process can be streamlined if you belong to a club, which vouches, and demonstrates regular attendance.
                * Likewise, current owners have to sign up with a club and maintain the same standards in training and attendance. Nothing non-voluntary but the weapon is otherwise illegal (with some encouragement to turn weapons in, anonymously or otherwise).

                This cuts down on volume of fire across the board with minimal impact on hunters and home defense. There may still be a lot of guns floating around. But, the vast majority of spree killers on that list got their weapons within a few years of the act and were not the type to navigate black markets. So access for that type of person is significantly curtailed. The big counter-argument is “but it’s fun to shoot!” which will have to be hammered out in the court of public opinion.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to trizzlor says:

                Great comment, @trizzlor . As I said elsewhere, we reach a point where we need to force certain folks to say, “My desire to own this gun trumps any desire to cut down on gun killings.” Which isn’t evil… But let’s not pretend it is anything different. Banning assault rifles won’t end all shooting deaths. But it will mean fewer. I’m not a “If it saves one life…” type-thinker. But we can’t pretend trade-offs don’t exist.Report

              • j r in reply to Kazzy says:


                There are a lot of assumptions in that statement. What do you mean by “banning assault rifles?” A renewal of the Clinton era ban probably won’t save many lives at all. You could have a stricter ban, of say all magazine-fed semi-automatic weapons, but how would you enact it? Are you going to ban the manufacture and sale of new ones or are you going to try and buy back all the ones already out there? And what do you do with the folks who don’t want to give them up?

                Personally, I remain unconvinced by the “we have to do something,” because that is never true. Talk to me about costs and benefits and talk to me about policy implementation and then you get my attention.

                @trizzlor and @kazzy

                As for the whole getting the memo about two mass shootings involving assault weapons, yeah, I get it. I get why lots of people want to talk about AR-15s. Lots of people also want to talk about Muslims, since both of those incidents involved someone professing their allegiance to IS.

                Are you swayed by those people? Personally, I don’t think that you should be. But if you want to understand why someone like me isn’t in a hurry to jump on the “machine that serves no purpose other than death” bandwagon, think about how you perceive the “why won’t you say Radical Islam” folks.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


                I’m not actually arguing for any particular ban or regulation.

                This guy bought his weapon shortly before the shooting. If he hadn’t been able to buy that particular weapon, he probably would have bought one that would have made it harder to kill 49 people. His ability to buy that weapon legally very likely led to more deaths.

                Does that mean we should outlaw it? No. But it does mean that we have a trade off: access to that weapon versus deaths. If we think access to that weapon is more important than the lives saved by not allowing access to that weapon, so be it. But we don’t get to pretend otherwise.

                I don’t get to pretend that alcohol doesn’t contribute to deaths because I enjoy drinking it and want it to remain legal. I can make arguments why the cost-benefit analysis is in favor of legalization, but I don’t get to pretend that those costs don’t exist or that I’m not weighing them as less than the benefits. That just isn’t how it works.

                Now, if the argument is that banning the sale of assault rifles wouldn’t save lives, that is a different story. But I think the evidence shows otherwise, especially in this case.

                If your position is, “No regulations on guns,” than a necessary follow up to that is, “Because I favor access to them over mitigating the consequences of that access.” And one of the consequences of that access is deaths.Report

              • Damon in reply to trizzlor says:

                “Firearms with detachable magazines have to go through the same licensing hoops as full-auto.”

                Do you know the requirements to have a full auto weapon? This recommendation would essentially eliminate the majority of all firearms in the country, pistols, rifles, and some shot guns. Are you aware of the paperwork alone not to mention the lisc. fees?Report

              • notme in reply to Damon says:

                That’s what I thought when I read his post. Clearly he doesn’t understand them.Report

              • Damon in reply to notme says:

                Yes he does, but he said why he’s using it in his original post.

                That still doesn’t change the fact that the a lot of people don’t understand the term, use it wrong, and frankly, don’t care since it’s a gun and that’s all that’s important to them…or they will use the ignorance to their advantage ’cause “guns be evil”.Report

              • notme in reply to Damon says:

                I was referring to the class 3 licensing requirements.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to notme says:

                “you idiot! don’t you understand that this gun restriction will restrict a lot of guns?”Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Damon says:

                This regulation would require that the majority of firearms owners in the country join a well-regulated gun club. It would also make it very difficult – but not impossible! – for people to purchase such weapons in the future. These weapons will disappear from the market only if the invisible hand wills it.Report

              • Damon in reply to trizzlor says:

                Thanks for not answering the question.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to trizzlor says:

                So basically we become Germany. Fun!Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                >>So basically we become Germany. Fun!

                I don’t see a problem with this. How would it effect you personally? How would your day-to-day experience be different if you had to belong to a club and your guns didn’t have detachable magazines (note that, they would actually be grandfathered in under this proposal)? You said you wanted to get an AR-15 at some point in the future. How would it effect you if this process took a year and you had to fill out paperwork, background checks, and training in the mean-time?

                The proposed regulation has none of the elements that the liberal opportunists want. It doesn’t ban specific “scary looking” models that are functional identical to others. It doesn’t twist itself into knots figuring out which attachments offend our sensibilities. It doesn’t do any redneck punching: make gun buyers watch videos of spree shootings; make them talk to a survivor; make them travel halfway across the state and stay overnight before they can purchase; etc etc. It doesn’t shame the gun manufacturers or force them to stamp “this machine kills children” on their weapons. Moreover, it shifts most of the policing to the gun community itself, via gun clubs, and encourages thousands of new members.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to trizzlor says:

                Gun clubs cost money and time. That is an immediate pain in the ass. They would also become a tool used to identify problem gun owners, which would completely erode trust in short order.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                That is kinda the point. Well, not the cost money bit, but the community bit (which always requires time to belong to a community) and the problem owner bit (seriously, if there was a guy you thought was becoming dangerous, wouldn’t you want to find a way to head it off?).

                I mean, this is the bulk of my suggestions a few months ago.Report

              • So how long before our guns have to be stored at the gun club? And what is the legal protection and recourses for the guy that turns a fellow member in or the guy that had the FBI show up at his house because a fellow member tipped them off? And what about the (likely) 85-90% of people that don’t comply? Confiscation?

                This seems to be a proposal which is not based on a thorough understanding of American culture.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                First off, let’s dispense a bit with slippery slopes. I know some people like the idea of all guns at the armory, but I doubt you’ll see public support for that any time soon, at least certainly not before safe storage laws have been tried and found wanting.

                As for legal recourses, what legal recourse is there now? Nothing stops people from calling 911 on their neighbor right now, and some do, and even send a SWAT team after them. Last I checked, SWAT teams and DAs are not amused at such antics.

                As for those who don’t comply, I don’t know. Maybe if they already own, they get grandfathered in, but aren’t allowed to buy anything new. It’s not a perfect suggestion, but nothing is. If we only look for perfect solutions that make everyone happy, we are all wasting our time.

                PS Which American culture, the one where every man is an island, or the one where we are all good neighbors helping each other & looking out for each other, because both exist? The idea behind a gun club is not about ratting each other, but about building a strong & responsible gun culture, because let’s face it, a very small minority of shitheads are busy ruining it for the rest of us.Report

              • “The idea behind a gun club is not about ratting each other, but about building a strong & responsible gun culture…”

                We actually already have that. We just need better PR. We don’t need some new club-system that would take generations to have any effect. We just need the people that don’t understand guns to become better educated.Report

              • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                …because let’s face it, a very small minority of shitheads are busy ruining it for the rest of us.

                Are you referring to the criminals or the liberals, or both?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to notme says:

                Actually, I’m referring to spree shooters. Even if we did focus on reducing the bulk of homicides by gun through enhanced penalties/improved social programs/suicide prevention/what have you and had fantastic success, spree killers will still dominate the news cycle, will still command the headlines, and social media feeds, etc. ad nauseum. We have some pretty good understanding of what contributes to urban gun violence, and reducing it is largely a matter of funding and political will.

                We don’t yet, to my knowledge, have a concrete idea what trips a spree killer, at least not enough to be able to short circuit them, and as long as 50 people killed in one night at a single location can demand our attention much more completely that 48 dead in one weekend in a single city, spree killers will drive calls for gun control.Report

              • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I don’t think we are anywhere near understanding what motivates spree killers so I guess we are left with liberals shamelessly using them for political purposes.Report

              • greginak in reply to notme says:

                Or you could at least have a minimally chartable reading of people you disagree with. Liberals, well many, see spree killings are further proof that their views are correct, they aren’t being shameful, they are pushing for their beliefs when they see profound confirmation of their beliefs in the most gruesome way possible.

                Put another way, both sides of the gun debate have people who ascribe the absolute worst motives to peeps on the other side instead of trying to listen to the sensible voices on either side. Makes for a nice screamfest but not much conversation.Report

            • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              If you can’t shoot the broadside of a barn, you ought to at least be able to figure out when you’ll be effective, and when you won’t.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to trizzlor says:

        In that context, I think the only effective gun regulation will come from the gun owners themselves

        Well, sure. Obviously.

        But right now, the prevailing view is that the problem of gun violence (to the extent the extent there is one….) can only be remedied by more folks possessing more guns.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Stillwater says:

          That’s because the gun-owners lobby is actually the gun manufacturer’s lobby.

          They want to sell guns, and if you’re selling to the civilian market? That’s America.

          The people who make guns for the civilian market have a lot of cash to lose of the American public stops being terrified of “others” and starts wondering why the heck they need so many guns.Report

  18. Damon says:

    There’s a whole lotta talk here about guns but not a lot about what to do to reduce the killing.

    Wanna stop gun killings? Who’s getting killed? Drug dealers and associated criminals. “Legal” gun owners and “regular” folks ain’t generally shooting people. Maybe you could start with enforcing more the existing firearms laws on the books when criminals use them?

    Maybe you should look at legalization of drugs or decriminalizing them?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:


      It seems to me there are three types of gun deaths:
      1.) Suicides
      2.) Intentional killings/homicides
      3.) Accidents

      I intend accidents to mean only those times that a gun was misused or malfunctioned in some ways. I would not count those situations wherein an individual thinks they are shooting a home intruder but actually shot their college kid who they forgot came home for spring break and who was putzing about the kitchen. I’d put those in category 2 (no, the intention was not to kill that individual but the goal was to pull the trigger and harm/kill).

      It seems to me that each of these requires a different — though potentially overlapping — approach. You seemed to focus on #2 and understandably so. To that end, do you know of any stats on who tend to be the victims and perpetrators of these killings and the circumstances? You indicate that drug dealers and criminals are the ones involved. But do we have numbers to back that up? I’d think that knowing having demographic data (e.g., age, race, gender, SES), geographic data (e.g., urban vs suburban vs rural, home vs business vs street, proximity to victim’s and perpetrator’s residence), and knowing the circumstances (e.g., robbery, drug related, crime of passion) would go along way towards developing a (or many) approaches to curbing these.

      If we don’t have this data, how can we get it? It is my understanding that there is some rule or law that prevents federal agencies from researching gun violence. And while I conceded above that there is so much mistrust on both sides, would GRAs be willing to relax or repeal this law so that we could gather data that would allow a more targeted (no pun intended) approach as opposed to broad and sweeping regulation efforts that will catch many responsible gun owners up needlessly in the nets?Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        For instance, if we know that 50% of gun deaths are related to the drug trade in cities, maybe we craft specific regulations for urban centers. Maybe we legalize/decriminalize (certain?) drugs.

        If we know that 20% of gun deaths are instances of domestic violence, maybe we draft legislation that puts men accused of abuse on a temporary “no gun list” and men convicted of abuse on a permanent “no gun list” (which may require search and seizure of the home).

        None of these are perfect ideas. All will in one way or another will risk imposing a burden of one kind or another on innocent, responsible citizens. But that is part of life. We all have to follow the speed limit, even if we can drive perfectly safely at higher speeds. But if we can gather the necessary data to take a much more targeted approach, we can maybe dramatically cut the burden of, ya know, being killed or having our loved ones killed by guns while minimizing the undue burden places on others as much as possible.

        So, again, can we get that data? How? What reason is there to oppose its collection (aside from a very real mistrust of how it might be abused)?Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

          Here’s the FBI’s expanded homicide data, for which a disappointingly large percentage of cases fall into various “unknown” categories. Whether that’s because the data aren’t reported to the FBI, or because those details are just never found out by anyone, I don’t know.Report

      • Damon in reply to Kazzy says:

        The FBI aggregates criminal activity so I’d think it’d be there. Predominately, I ready my local paper and occasionally Baltimore city papers, and a few others. In my local suburban area, the crime generally falls into property crime (stealing stuff from apts/houses, businesses at night, and cars.) the occasional exposure and one or two crimes like robbery, etc. Lot’s a crime I read about in B-more and DC are related to drugs, turf wars, etc. (These cities also heavily restrict legal firearm, in particular handgun, possession. Doesn’t seem to make a dent in the crime. See the above link for an example. I’ll try and find some cites.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

          You probably have a bit of a selection bias there, though, no? Baltimore and DC crime patterns may be representative of urban trends but not necessarily the country as a whole. And even then, Baltimore and DC are different from New York and Boston and LA and Miami etc.Report

          • Damon in reply to Kazzy says:

            True. But where’s the gun violence? It’ ain’t in surburban virginia, md, etc. It’s in the big cities relative to drugs.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

              Fair enough.

              And, ultimately, immaterial. If that is what the data shows, that is what the data shows. We just need more data, it seems. Including (which I failed to mention earlier) data on the types of guns and ammo used. If 80% of gun deaths are attributable to hand guns firing standard (is there standard?) ammunition, than talk of “assault weapons” and “high caliber bullets” and “magazine size” is largely misplaced.

              So let’s get that data. How do we do that? We won’t get 100% of it — if we don’t catch the perp or find the weapon — there will be holes but we can probably know a lot more than we do now and be much more targeted.

              We probably can’t craft a national gun policy. We may not even be able to do it at the state level. Baltimore may need Baltimore-specific laws while suburban Virginia or rural West Virginia have their own laws.

              At this point, I’m willing to concede certain principles if we can make a realistic dent in gun deaths. Are GRAs willing to do the same? Are they willing to abandon an absolutist position on the 2nd Amendment in pursuit of laws that have little effect on most gun owners but dramatically cut gun deaths? Is there a middle ground there we can stake out?Report

              • Dand in reply to Kazzy says:

                How about we try to solve the problem economically? The areas of Chicago that have high gun violence also have very high unemployment. How about providing the people living in those areas with jobs? Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg are would rather talk about gun control than their own policy failures in the inner city. Emanuel could have spent money on providing jobs to people in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods but he spends the money bike lanes and bike sharing programs instead, he cares far more about bicyclists than poor blacks.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dand says:

                Although this is tangent to the op, there is an element of gun control as a useful distraction from more mundane political problems.Report

              • notme in reply to Dand says:

                Yes libruls would rather whine about guns than actually address the problems, jobs and culture, in urban communities.Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                Yes reactionaries would rather whine about guns than actually address the problems, jobs and culture, in rural communities.

                ’round here, the rural areas are more dangerous than the city.Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

              Right. Poverty, crime, and gun violence all seem to go together, whether the guns are legal or not. I got no answers, but suspect that “easier guns” isn’t going to work there.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

              What effect does urban violence have on suburban citizens?

              Isn’t the fear of urban violence one of the main drivers of racism and political dysfunction?

              Isn’t the fear of urban violence the main claimed reason why gun nuts need to carry guns for “self defense” everywhere?

              So even if we accepted without argument that most gun violence happens in urban centers,it still remains that this is an urgent issue that compels us to act.Report

              • Damon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I agree re urgent action. But criminals don’t give a damn about gun laws. They’ll get the guns one way or another. Small manuf shops, theft, brought up from the borders, etc.

                My point was that the crime in the cities is driven by specific issues. Those issues need to be worked on. Until that happens, reducing access to legal gun ownership isn’t going to have a material impact.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

                This is the One Weird Trick again.

                True, gun registration won’t by itself solve urban ills.

                But nothing else will either.

                Gun registration and insurance; economic security; reform of predatory fines and fees; and several other issues as well, will reduce the violence in our society.

                But what won’t work, in fact will inflame and worsen the situation, is promoting the idea that everyone needs to be armed, because society is incapable of protecting them.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Well, consider Stand Your Ground laws. If Mateen made it thru this f***ing catastrophe alive, he could have engaged in a SYG defense:

                “Sure, I admit that I violated the law by openly carrying a rifle into a gay dance club, but once people saw it, and reacted violently to seeing it, I legitimately feared for my life! So I plead guilty to the charge of openly carrying a rifle in public, but not guilty to the charge of murdering 49 people.”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                In fact, that logic works against McMegan’s robustly held belief that people should rush the shooter.

                For example, in the recent Colorado Springs shooting (either one…) since the shooter hadn’t done anything against the law by openly carrying a rifle, rushing the shooter would constitute an act of aggression which a person would crazy to not defend themselves from. “Shoot em. Shoot em all! I’ve got a right to Carry This Gun!”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, who you gonna trust over her? Some vet who saved lives that night? Pssssht…Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                “You could just tell it was a high caliber,” said Yousuf, a former sergeant who just left the Marine Corps last month.

                I seriously hope that is a misquote or mis-statement, because no Marine should ever confuse the sound of 5.56 with anything a person would call “high caliber”. 5.56 has a very distinct “low chatter” to it, while larger rifle calibers “crack”.Report

              • As a young teenager I occasionally pulled targets at an outdoor range that specialized in competitions at 400 yards. I’ll never forget the distinctive sound a large caliber bullet makes when it goes by three feet over your head…Report

              • notme in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Was it Camp Perry?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                At 3 feet, you should not only hear it, you should be able to feel the shockwave. Sometimes when I take the Mosin out, I use inflated balloons for targets. A near miss will still pop them.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Potentially stupid question: how do you tell the difference between a hit and a near miss in that circumstance?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Don Zeko says:

                No gaping hole where the balloon used to be.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I must be visualizing things wrong. I imagine hit = missing balloon, hole in the dirt somewhere behind balloons former location, while near miss = missing balloon, big hole behind balloon’s former location. Is the balloon lying on the round?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I staple the balloons to a large board that is on a collapsible frame.

                I also tend to tape over holes so I have an idea where I hit, instead of new holes getting lost in the crowd. After enough hits, I replace the board.

                So if I hit just to the right of where the balloon was, but the balloon still popped, either the round sent a splinter into it, or the shockwave took care of it.

                If it happens a few times, I figure I’m inflating the balloon too much and start to inflate them less. Ideally, if I remember to, I buy some flour or corn starch and grab a funnel, then put about a 1/4 c into each balloon before giving it a couple of breaths of air. I get a smaller target, but it’s less prone to being moved by the wind, and there is no mistaking it when I hit it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                In all honesty, I’m not going to nitpick given that he saved lives. Whether it was pre-existing temperament, his training, or a combination of both, we should be thankful this guy was there that night. He could call it a “bang bang you’re dead machine” for all I care.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy Oh, no question on that. And given he was a Marine, I’m more than willing to bet the reporter got it wrong.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Damon says:

          The FBI data appears cloudy seemingly over issues of local reporting. There are too many homicides that seem to be recorded as “killed by (unknown) firearm for reasons unknown.

          But as pointed out above, clearly the most deadly weapon is indeed the handgun.

          Also, the overwhelming number of murders is a single victim (89%) by a single person; and a plurality of people (42%) are killed by people they know – usually with a handgun.

          White people overwhelmingly kill White people (83%), and Black people overwhelmingly kill black people (90%). There is no data specific to hipsters, but we can probably conclude they are murdered by blacks and whites at similar rates.

          People are mostly killed by handguns in America… overwhelmingly one at a time…most commonly by a single person; often someone you know.

          As a gun owner on a large property where guns are tools that I need and use regularly; if the objective is to reduce murders, we should seek to disarm our arguments and reduce the number of handguns – not necessarily in circulation – but on the person.

          If I could blue-sky on a possible solution, I’d focus on some sort of additive to the metal that would make a gun easily detectable by a special sensor from about 10-15 ft away… such that it would be detectable entering/leaving an establishment and or on a person or in a car. Make the alloy inseparable from the gunmetal… regulate it at time of manufacture…and make the detectors cheap and available for home use. Ideally existing weapons could be tagged with an alloy paste or paint ex post facto.

          In many ways this wouldn’t change our current gun regime… the possession and conveyance of firearms is pretty well regulated already; but what is lacking is verification that the existing rules are being obeyed; and or the wishes of gun-free zones are observed in the breech or not detected at all. A shocking number of homicides occur as a result of argument… if folks were disarmed upon entering a club, or even just a friend’s house – hey Timmy, put your keys in this jar and your gun in the closet… it’s gonna get wild tonight… Or if random strangers were aware that their escalating argument was backed by one or more weapons present, we’d see at least a measure to pre-emptively de-escalate lethal violence, if not plain old violence. Similarly; spree shooters would potentially be unmasked by simple alert systems at various points.

          So, buy guns, have guns, use guns… in the event the gun is being used in an appropriate way or during some sort of crisis – 15 ft detectability is a non-issue. Otherwise, the possession of an undetectable firearm is immediate confiscation and reasonable penalty. Make the weapons “visible” so that the appropriateness of the weapon to the situation and person can be known.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      Who’s getting killed is often “someone who looked like a drug dealer” rather than an actual drug dealer.Report

  19. Joe Sal says:

    The two main pivot points here about mass shootings are semi-automatic, and magazine capacity. Is there any indications that different results would occur if someone used a single barreled break over shotgun being fed by hand from a bag of ammo? If target acquisition is about 8 seconds and reload times are about 5 do these pivotal points really matter?Report

  20. trizzlor says:

    Thanks for this post Mike, it’s very informative and level-headed. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the 1986 automatic firearms ban. Do you think it was effective in what it set out to do? Are full-auto weapons still regularly used in killings to this day? Do you see them continue to circulate through the various informal gun markets you are exposed to? How was the ban received by the gun-owning community and how is it viewed in hind-sight? Should it be seen as a model or a mistake by people looking to further regulate firearms?Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to trizzlor says:


      I am not very knowledgeable about the 1986 law. All I can tell you is that anecdotally, I only know one person who owns a fully-automatic gun. A friend’s dad is fully licensed and has owned an M-16 since we were kids. He used to bring it out at the farm and shoot it once per year and all us kids thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I assume he still has it but that was 30 years ago.

      As for more anecdotal info, I have never heard a single friend bemoan the lack of access to automatic weapons. If someone really wants one, they can jump through the hoops and pay the fees to get one, but everyone seems to be happy with semi-auto.Report

  21. Kazzy says:

    “I honestly do not know but that is the conversation I would like to have. So let’s talk.”

    I’m honestly seeing not all that much talking from you, Mike. You are largely shooting down other’s proposals. Which isn’t an illegitimate position but it doesn’t strike me that you have made clear what you are willing to give in pursuit of a compromise. So let’s leave aside effectiveness and even practicality for a moment and, if you will, just focus on what concessions you are willing to make as a gun owner and believer in gun rights. Because I am not seeing much flexibility from the GRA side though I have seen much flexibility from the GCA side. And, again, for the record, I’m probably more on the GRA side than the GCA side as I generally have zero intention of banning all weapons.Report

    • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

      Compromise my civil rights? No thanks.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

      Good question/comment Kazzy. I made a similar remark above. My suspicion is that the vast majority of GRA don’t think there’s anything to have a conversation about regarding gun control or whatever – since nothing can be done consistent with preserving gun rights – and the level of gun violence we experience in the US is something we all just have to accept as the price of Freedom.

      Actually, “price of freedom” isn’t quite right. More like “the glories of Freedom”….Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        I feel like I’ve asked a version of the following question repeatedly: “Are there regulations we could craft that would have minimal practical effect on gun owners?” No one besides @oscar-gordon seems interested in offering sincere answers. And I ask the question genuinely: I’m not a gun owner or particularly knowledgable about guns so I really do need someone steeped in the “culture” to answer. And if the answer is, “No,” okay, that is at least a starting point. But I feel like the response from the GRA side is largely, “Craft something perfect and we can talk. Or don’t even bother because we ain’t compromising.” And while I realize the desire to put the onus on those seeking to limit rights, the reality is if we want to reach a reasonable compromise, everyone needs to come to the table in good faith. Some — not all, but some — GCA do that; they don’t want to ban all guns but want to craft good legislation that is reasonable for gun owners but which saves lives. They just don’t know how to do that much of the time. So much of the GRA side seems to stake out ground in which any discussion of any regulation is off limits.

        And, again, I’m someone who generally believes in gun rights. I just can’t align myself with the GRA side because of what seem like increasingly insincere or inflexible tactics.Report

        • Francis in reply to Kazzy says:

          The short answer in my view is no.

          The longer answer depends on the question you’re asking.

          Worried about suicides? Then increase mental health planning and impose a waiting period on the transfer of handguns both privately and through registered dealers.

          Worried about private ownership of “assault” weapons? That ship has sailed. We are way too far down the path of private ownership of that type of weapon to impose any kind of ban or (even less likely) mandatory government buy-back.

          Worried about spree killings using assault weapons? First of all, it’s a microscopic number of events, so purely on a statistical level it’s best not to worry. But if you do want to beyond the waiting period approach, you could (hypothetically) give the FBI the power to go to court and get some kind of restraining order against some list it makes up, and then serve the restraining order on the person, on all registered gun dealers and on every electronic clearinghouse which matches up buyers and sellers. The affected individual would then need to go to court to establish his suitability to acquire the weapon and expunge the restraining order.

          More likely than a gun ban, but still a major political lift.

          Worried about ordinary every-day gun violence in tough neighborhoods? Impose a mandatory licensing procedure that requires gun owners annually to complete a seminar on gun safety and reducing gun violence.

          Also a major political lift, because gun rights advocates worry (and legitimately so) that the licensing process will some day be used to target those houses that need to have their gun confiscated. Providing adequate assurance that the registration list won’t be mis-used at some point in the future is essentially impossible.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis says:

            This. Anything we do is nibbling about the margins. It’s why I’d rather engage the culture, rather than the regulatory burden. But damn if that isn’t an uphill battle as well.Report

            • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Like I said before, increase the penalties for use of a gun in a crime and possession of a gun by felons. Something like 25 years of federal time w/o parole. Target the criminals not my civil rights.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to notme says:

                Just thinking out loud, but I would be surprised if such a law were enforced very thoroughly. You’re talking about elevating, for example, most armed robbery and a bunch of domestic violence cases to federal court. Federal district courts settle 90-95% of all criminal cases by plea bargain — that’s not likely to happen often when the floor on the penalty is 25 years w/o parole. I would not be surprised if one result were that the federal district courts had to handle several times as many full-blown trials per year as they do now. Except they wouldn’t, the feds would decline to prosecute all but the most egregious cases and leave the ball in the states’ hands.

                State courts are mostly even more heavily dependent on plea bargaining to manage their load than the feds. So I would expect a state law to suffer the same fate — the charge would be plea bargained down to something without the 25-year gun sentence in play. Might raise the plea-bargain results somewhat, but wouldn’t put many people in jail for 25 years.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Not to mention, DAs have an incentive to pursue drug charges over gun charges, so if they can plea away a gun charge to get a drug conviction, they will. So it might not be that tougher enforcement is needed, but an alteration of incentives.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to notme says:

                I’m not immediately opposed to such suggestions, but the problem is that it’s essentially based on economic logic; increase the price (penalty) and you’ll see less of that activity. It’s the same logic behind sin taxes. But unlike sin taxes which are collected at some point of sale, the assessment of this “tax” depends on the user (criminal) being caught and convicted.

                So in order to be viewed as a deterrent the potential perpetrator has to have a reasonable expectation of being caught. Because if he’s never caught the size of the penalty is irrelevant; it may as well be zero. A more sophisticated analysis might assign a probability to that potential eventuality to derive an expected cost and weigh that against the perceived benefits to arrive at a decision.

                So is it your contention that criminals actually perform that kind of sophisticated cost-benefit analysis? Wall Street and corporate types maybe; but your average street criminal? I’m dubious.

                And your proposal doesn’t even begin to touch on suicides, crimes of passion, accidents, or the unhinged, like spree killers.

                All in all, I doubt it would make a lot of difference.Report

              • notme in reply to Road Scholar says:

                So is it your contention that criminals actually perform that kind of sophisticated cost-benefit analysis?

                So do and some don’t Your argument seems to apply to any kind of a penalty, not just guns. For example, if bank robbers don’t perform a cost benefit analysis why bother having severe penalties for that crime, maybe instead of a 20 year prison term we should make it a small fine instead. I believe that increased penalties for drunk driving have played a role in deceasing the number of drunken driving incidents.


        • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

          Here’s my simple opinion: no. Any policy changes that will effectively reduce either gun violence generally or the recent style of mass shootings will place large burdens on certain classes of current gun owners. I don’t think I’m the first one here to say that.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

            So the next question is: Are gun owners willing to shoulder that burden to reduce deaths? If the answer is “No”, let’s at least insist they own that position.Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

              Not the right question. Will elected Republicans (and Democrats in some parts of the country) accept that burden? Unlikely IMO — unless the voters in those areas are overwhelmingly willing. Are they willing to own it? Sure.

              To harp on a point, there’s more than one America out there. My take is that at the national level, neither side is willing to accept that. Both want one set of rules everywhere. Eg, ban AR-15s everywhere on one side; rural concealed carry permits applying in core urban areas on the other.Report

              • notme in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Why not say something like this, use a gun in a crime it’s a mandatory 25 years w/o parole federal time. Also increase the penalty for felons with guns. Direct the penalty at the real problem not my civil rights. But libruls won’t get serious.Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                OOOH! You HAVE solved the problem of we ain’t got no jobs for the rural people!


              • notme in reply to Kim says:

                Not sure what your reply is about since the crimes I mentioned are already crimes and folks would go to jail anyway. I’m talking about increasing the penalty not making up new crimes. When we as a society decided to get serious about drunk driving we increased the penalties. The left could propose the same thing to show they are serious about gun violence but I doubt they will.Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                Prisons provide a substantial portion of rural jobs.
                That’s all.Report

              • notme in reply to Kim says:

                I think we all know that in those rural areas with a prison, that the prison is usually the major employer. I’m not sure though what that bit of info adds to the discussion of getting the left to act seriously about gun violence and increase the penalties for using a gun.Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                Above you were saying it was the fault of the left for not addressing urban culture of violence.

                Mind if I lay the rural culture of violence at the right’s feet, then?

                Ya know, when you do psych profiles, prisoners and prison guards score almost identical.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kim says:

                “Ya know, when you do psych profiles, prisoners and prison guards score almost identical.”

                Site please. I am curious as to how each sees authority. There are some peoples that are outright serious in their anti-authority leanings.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:


      I don’t really see me shooting down someone else’s ideas here, but if that’s your perception I can’t change it. Additionally, I was hoping to see suggestions from the readers here which is why I didn’t offer much of my own opinion, however I think I have several posts in the archives which cover specifics. Since you asked though, here’s roughly what I would do to reduce gun crime:

      Work to remove the reasons why kids join gangs. For starters
      – De-criminalize marijuana in the United States
      – Issue pardons to every non-violent drug offender in the U.S. prison system
      – Adequately fund back-to-work programs for felons
      – Adequately fund programs aimed at reducing gun trafficking

      For crimes of passion, I would implement mandatory 5-day waiting periods on gun purchases.

      To prevent terrorism I would beef up the terrorist watch list and also implement universal background checks.

      You will note that not a single one of these proposals involve banning certain types of guns, or making guns less available to law-abiding citizens. I don’t see any good from that. Guns are a symptom of the disease, not the cause.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I’m on board for all this. How likely are these proposals to get support among other gun owners and GRAs?Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

          A lot of that would get support. Plenty of libertarian and liberal gun owners both want to see marijuana legalized and prison reform (not to mention a few conservatives). There is also support for background checks and waiting periods across all political persuasions. The biggest mistake anyone could make in this discussion is to assumr an acronym means that gun supporters are a monolithic group.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            That is why I asked. And why I referenced both gun owners and GRAs because I recognize those groups may overlap greatly but are not identical. You know far more gun owners and GRAs than I do so you would be better positioned to understand their likelihood to support these measures.

            And even among those who may not be inclined to support them for other reasons, there is an opportunity for their use as a bargaining chip.

            “I’m personally opposed to legalizing marijuana. I agree that we have far too many gun deaths. But I disagree with calls for further gun control for a host of reasons. I’m willing to support your marijuana legalization effort if I know you will support my goals regarding gun rights.”

            Of course, we get back to the whole ‘trust’ issue I referred to elsewhere…Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Beefing up the watchlist is fine, but it needs to be appealable/contestable. As long as it remains a big secret list no one can challenge, it’s a problem.

        In that vein, however, you could have a flag on the NICS system that law enforcement can place, so that if a LEO knows of a hot head or other troublemaker, they can flag them, and get a notification should they buy a gun anywhere. What LEO does with that information is up to them (they can ignore, or go make contact, etc.), but if the Orlando shooter had been interviewed 2 or 3 times by the FBI, and the FBI had flagged him, they would have at least gotten a notice that he’d just bought 2 guns, and perhaps they could have interviewed him prior to the massacre.

        Also, gotta do something about getting information into NICS. Tougher background checks won’t do much if the background information isn’t there. Dylan Roof never should have legally gotten a gun.Report

  22. notme says:

    FBI: More People Killed with Fists and Hammers Than with Rifles and Shotguns

    Oh no, we need assault hammer control.

  23. Lurker says:

    Can we all agree on this proposition:

    The degree to which we make it difficult to own a weapon (of any sort) should correspond -in general- to the degree to which it can be used to kill larger numbers of people and the degree to which the killing becomes easy.

    This is why we ban or thoroughly restrict private ownership of nuclear weapons, dangerous viruses, chemical weapons, military hardware, etc.

    Firearms that release a larger number of bullets more quickly have proven to be more deadly. Thus society has the right to make it hard to own such weapons.Report

    • David Parsons in reply to Lurker says:

      It’s not going to fly. Bellum omnium contra omnes is the world many gun nuts think they’re living in, and they really and truly think that their AR15-alikes are the only thing that’s going to save them from the inevitable zombie invasion.Report

    • Francis in reply to Lurker says:

      To expand on this point, the 2A refers to the right to “bear arms”.

      Now, I’m no deep scholar of the original public meaning of the expression “bear arms”. But from what I’ve read, the consensus appears to be “those weapons that could and should be carried by a militiaman”. Moving forward in time, let’s take a look at what the modern infantryman might be carrying beyond his gun.

      Grenades, for one, both hand-thrown and launched from his gun.
      Claymore mines and other anti-personnel devices.
      A side-arm.
      A knife.

      Possible alternatives include a rocket launcher or a sniper rifle.

      Now, I’m not aware of anyone suing for the right to carry grenades along with his open-carry rifle. But it’s kinda curious how the “arms” argument is mostly debated about only one kind of weapon.Report

      • scott the mediocre in reply to Francis says:

        I honestly don’t know if there have been any court cases wherein some sort of legal sanction related to possession of guns or other weaponry has been upheld on the grounds that the possessor was not a member of a regulated militia (i.e. where the same weaponry would have been a-OK had the possessor been an enrolled militia member or something of the sort). Particularly interesting would be a case involving somebody who by the law of the time could not be a member of the militia, e.g. by virtue of gender phenotype or melanin content.

        I suspect there are not such cases, since if they do exist, they would have been brought up, at least in amicus briefs, against the individual right interpretation of the 2nd (e.g. during the arguments for Heller), and AFAIK that did not happen.

        I do know that it was relatively common for (US) merchant ships in the early 19th Century to mount light naval artillery as an anti-pirate measure (typically a few 6-9 pound cannons along with lighter anti-boat weapons), though I don’t know how effective a deterrent that level of armament was to fairly heavily armed pirates (e.g. Jean Laffitte’s flagship at one point mounted twelve 14-pdrs per le Wik). I think any private vessel mounting equivalent firepower vis a vis today’s light naval units would draw rather a lot of attention.Report

        • North in reply to scott the mediocre says:

          The bigger problem the merchant marine had was a question of raw manpower. Regardless of the size of the cannon they mounted merchant ships typically carried only a crew adequate to man their watches with a little bit extra on the top. It was simply uneconomical to man the ships with more men than that. Thus no matter how big their guns were any pirate or warship could take the merchant ship simply by closing quickly and commencing a boarding action.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Francis says:

        “To expand on this point, the 2A refers to the right to “bear arms”. ”

        And the 6A refers to “houses, papers, and effects”, and since telephone conversations are none of these things, warrantless wiretaps are OKReport

        • Francis in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Actually, the 4th Amendment starts with “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects… “.

          iirc, the spike mike case established that right to be secure in your person prohibited warrantless wiretaps. But I’m goofing off on what is actually a busy day, so I don’t have time to double check.

          To return to the point I was making, “arms” are much more than guns, even using an originalist / textualist interpretation.

          Random guess for the future: If HRC wins, the Sup Ct with its newest justice will head in the direction of approving time, place and manner restrictions on the exercise of 2A rights, much like it does for the First.Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to Lurker says:

      Lurker: Can we all agree on this proposition:

      The degree to which we make it difficult to own a weapon (of any sort) should correspond -in general- to the degree to which it can be used to kill larger numbers of people and the degree to which the killing becomes easy.

      To answer the question: no, I don’t think everyone here would agree. In this thread, I think there are people who are more concerned about single-person deaths than mass shootings. You might come back and say “well that doesn’t mean they might not want to do something positive in this area of smaller concern,” but I think you might still get a “no.”Report

  24. Michael Cain says:

    This morning, the Supreme Court declined to accept a challenge to Connecticut and New York bans on assault weapons.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michael Cain says:

      This makes perfect sense. The Left knows they don’t have 5 votes to initiate actual change to things and the Right knows they don’t have 5 votes to overturn the law, which means those laws would stay valid, at least in those states.

      Better to wait until Trump nominates Judge Joe Brown to the Court.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Question: If the SCOTUS declines to hear, does that bar persons from asking the court to review it again in the future?Report

      • Don Zeko in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        No. The particular plaintiff involved might not have a live case next term, but there should be plenty of others that could challenge the law in the future.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Don Zeko says:

          Does it mean a future plaintiff has to develop a novel question/approach?Report

          • Don Zeko in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            There’s nothing procedural stopping them from doing so. The Faye of the previous case might indicate that its not wise to do so, but if the court just punted rather than issuing a substantive ruling there’s no obvious reason not to try again.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Don Zeko says:

              Thanks @don-zeko, I’ve always kinda wondered how that works.

              Given the missing member of the court, I suspect we might see a lot of punting until they are back up to 9.Report

  25. Mike Dwyer says:

    @trizzlor @kazzy

    Since you made similar points above I’m going to address both here… You are both asking why we can’t talk about assault rifles now, because a terrible mass shooting just happened that involved an assault rifle. Well, Trizzlor answers that question. He says, “Do you think we should just be walking dispassionately down the “causes of death” list and solving each one entirely before we go to the next, irrespective of how difficult they are…”

    The short answer is, yes.

    Legislation can certainly be sparked by emotion and emotion can carry it forward, but it’s also how we get knee-jerk decisions that will haunt us for years to come. Jaybird talked a while back about just how how hard it is to un-do bad legislation. So would either of you be okay with a sunset provision on your proposed ideas where it would automatically expire in, let’s say, 2 years if Congress doesn’t choose to renew?

    Additionally, if you could see the other side’s opinion for a minute, what you’re doing is suggesting we create bans which target certain types of guns, that are used in very few crimes as a percentage, because it’s easy. What gun owners see is that if you can do that based on low-hanging fruit, then that opens us us to having other guns taken away which kill way more people. It’s not hard for me to imagine Kazzy, for example, saying three years from now that if a new AWB reduced gun violence by 25% then certainly we should consider legislation aimed at handguns, which account for a much higher percentage. And because it’s a higher percentage, maybe we should consider banning them completely and look how quickly we got there. Or maybe not…

    I also think there’s something to ponder when the Left keeps going after guns that are stereo-typically owned by white conservatives, and used it proportionally few crimes, but they never seem to want to talk about the guns that are used in all of the black-on-black crime in cities that have been controlled by Democrats for decades. I can speculate as to why that is, but I keep ending up in a bad place.



    “…we need to force certain folks to say, “My desire to own this gun trumps any desire to cut down on gun killings.”

    You need to force people to say… That sounds pretty gross to my ears but it’s also exactly the way many liberals think. They want to get conservatives on record as taking a position the Left can then characterize as bad. It’s exactly why the legislation that was voted down yesterday was pushed through in less than 2 weeks in a Congress that usually takes years to bring something to a vote. I’m sure it had nothing to do with this being a key election year (insert eye rolling here). Now the Left can spend the rest of the season saying, “We tried to stop gun violence and those mean Republicans voted against it. They think their guns are more important than your lives.” And because most people don’t really understand the gun debate and most people just assume an assault rifle kills way more people than all those handguns in inner cities…well, maybe you guys will score a few political points. And meanwhile, nothing will get done because quite frankly, the Left sees more net good for them in the inaction of the Right. And the Right gets so pissed off every time they do this that they refuse to consider good legislation any other time. So, yay politics.Report

    • Damon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Most people don’t even know what an “assault rifle” is either.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      “You need to force people to say… That sounds pretty gross to my ears but it’s also exactly the way many liberals think. They want to get conservatives on record as taking a position the Left can then characterize as bad.”

      No, we want you to be honest.

      The existence of cars causes many deaths. It probably also saves lives because things like food and medicine can get places faster. But, yea, it probably is a net contributor to the death toll. And I still think we should have cars. I think the benefits we gain from cars is worth the risks associated with them. I’m in favor of efforts to make cars and driving safer but I wouldn’t support a car ban even if it saved tens of thousands of lives.

      If your position is, “I want fewer gun deaths but not if it means giving up my guns,” why won’t you just own that position?Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        And, remember, I’m on record as saying that I think limiting the ability of the government to dictate what we do with our money and what we own largely trumps the benefits of giving them that power. So I don’t think this is an “evil” position. But we need to be honest about what we’re talking about.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:


        “No, we want you to be honest.”

        So, to be clear here, by ‘we’ you mean the Left…correct?

        The reason we balk at these proposals is that, again, it is feel-good legislation. Many Americans (I saw 85% quoted on MSNBC this morning) are in favor of more gun controls…however there’s a lot of disagreement about what that looks like. What would have been a lot more interesting and comprehensive is that there had been some kind of mental health funding, watch list, etc tied to these bills, since honestly that’s the root cause of most of these shootings. Also, it would be interesting to see the legislation aimed at actually getting guns out of the hands of the people who commit most of the crimes.

        I just don’t agree that proposing marginal legislation aimed at less than 1% of all gun crime means you get to say the other side is bad because they aren’t supporting. I watched an interview with the White House press secretary this morning and he mentioned Republicans, by name, at least 20 times. It’s clear this is about political points, not real reform. If it was about real reform the President would be putting together a true, bipartisan commission to make suggestions and they would actually base their proposals on facts, not emotion.

        So while you want to get us on record today, it’s not the appropriate time to do so.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          I speak for myself. *I* want you to be honest.
          What do you value more: human life or unfettered acceas to guns?Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

            You do know that’s the most ridiculous, absolutist question to ask…right? It’s a gotcha question on the highest moral level you can create, which of course is what you intend. But I’ll play along. I do value human life more than ‘unfettered’ access to guns. Now, if that was actually a thing, we would have a problem. But guns are already highly regulated, so I guess there’s no problem there, right?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

            As per this article (Will had it up on his last Linkluster), we have lots of gun control, and unfettered access is not a term I would use to describe things, since buying a gun involves more work than buying groceries.

            What do you value more: human life or unfettered access to guns?

            I’ll play: I value both & I reject your position that one precludes the other.

            What I really value is a robust, responsible culture that values & respects firearms. I’m fine with creating communities that promote such, and creating strong incentives for interested parties to be active in such communities.

            Honestly, we have 2 tiers of access to firearms: The “You check out, here ya go” level, and the “Awww, Hell No!” level. Criminal & mental history sets the two. Perhaps two levels isn’t enough, maybe we need an intermediate level. Maybe we need something like “Trusted Traveler” for firearms. Not sure if that would be any more effective at stopping things than all the security theater at the airport does, but I’m willing to entertain the idea, especially if being a “Trusted Firearm Owner” made me immune to a lot of the more annoying ‘F-U’ gun laws.

            Or perhaps we have a rule that you can’t buy a semi-auto rifle until you’ve built one from an 80% lower* & registered it. That’ll slow people down.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              @oscar-gordon and @mike-dwyer

              I’m going to walk this back because I let this conversation get away from me.

              No, we don’t have unfettered access to guns nor do I think either of you are arguing for that.

              Rather, my point is this:
              – handguns have a specific and legitimate purpose (primarily self-defense)
              – hunting rifles have a specific and legitimate purpose (primarily hunting)
              – But it seems to me there is a class of weapons that don’t really have a specific and legitimate purpose: the sort of gun used by the Orlando shooter. That gun would be LESS effective for both self-defense and hunting as I understand it. But is is MORE effective at killing people indiscriminately and in large numbers than either of those types of weapons. So it seems to me we have a very different cost-benefit analysis with this type of weapon.

              These types of guns kill more people with no clear benefit to the responsible owner that I can discern beyond rounding out a collection or it being fun to fire or whatever. So, if you are arguing that people should be able to buy the sort of gun the killer in Orlando used, it seems to me that you are saying a having access to a gun that is primarily about getting one’s jollies off is more important than limiting the amount of human carnage a spree shooter can cause.

              If left to handguns and hunting rifles, would this guy have killed 49 people and left at least that many in the hospital? Everything I’ve seen says no. Maybe it would have been 20 dead. Or 30. Or 40. Even then, that is 9 more people going home alive that night. And while I recognize this is an appeal to emotion, does emotion have NO place in this conversation? Should we say, “Sorry, folks, those 9 people have to die so we can have fun with this super cool gun?” This isn’t about self-defense. This isn’t about hunting. It is about something else. I’m trying to understand what that is.

              My apologies for going off the rails there.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:


                “But it seems to me there is a class of weapons that don’t really have a specific and legitimate purpose: the sort of gun used by the Orlando shooter. “

                Many people (myself included) believe those guns DO have a legitimate purpose, both for (A) self-defense and (B) hunting. Let me unpack those:

                A) Assault rifles are designed so that they can be used in close-quarters combat i.e. they would work well against a burglar in your home. I would also add that I define self-defense in a broader sense. While Stillwater and Morat believe this makes me a would-be murderer, there are scenarios where someone might have to defend themselves from other civilians in some unforseen disaster situation. There is also, for some people, the threat of the government. If you believe guns ensure we stay free from tyranny, you want a gun which would help you against government forces. I’m less in the second camp, but I am firmly in the self-defense against civilians camp.

                B) Many assault rifles are starting to be chambered in .308. This is partially because people want to use them for hunting and partially because it’s just a lot more power. It gives people the opportunity to buy one gun for multi-purposes verses two separate guns.

                So, I don’t think it’s fair to lump assault rifles into the ‘bad’ group based on those criteria. For me, it still comes back to capacity as the only possible logical argument, and I have already stated I think that is pointless.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Please know I’m not attaching any MORAL judgement to these weapons. They are inanimate objects. Rather, I’m trying to do cost-benefit analysis. What is offered by this weapon? What harm is risked?

                Given the potential uses you’ve outlined, do you think restrictions on the manner in which these specific weapon types can be acquired would be acceptable? That is to say, extended waiting periods; more thorough background checks; and/or testing-backed certification/licensure? Something else? It seems any of these — especially used in conjunction — might have deterred the Orlando shooter and others like him with minimal cost imposed on the responsible gun owners.

                I’m not interested in an argument about what constitutes legitimate use. It strikes me as a fool’s errand and, in the interest of discussing in good faith, I’m willing to accept gun owner’s at their word regardless of my own feelings (which are naturally skewed by being in minimal contact with ‘gun culture’). So if you say those are legitimate uses or legitimate interest in ownership, I accept that. Would that use be impacted by the sorts of barriers to access outlined above?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

                As I noted here, I am in favor of universal background checks for ALL guns. I’m also okay with a 7-day waiting period for all gun purchases.Report

              • notme in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                That’s all good but I have yet to hear a liberal say they are in favor of increasing the penalties for use of a gun during the commission of a crime or for a felon possessing a gun.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

                I’m not sure how that’s relevant. I suspect most liberals are perfectly happy to have enhanced sentences for crimes committed using firearms. The issue is that most liberals think that most criminal sentences are already excessive, and therefore don’t support increasing them for any reason.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:


                While I’m not a fan of excessive sentences either, I do think @notme makes a valid point that liberals do not seem to have much interest in gun restrictions that have will (mostly) affect one of their key voting blocks.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Wait, is the suggestion that liberals don’t support enhanced prison sentences for gun crimes because we don’t want to send Black potential voters to prison? Can’t liberals have a good-faith critique of excessive incarceration? This strikes me as only marginally less uncharitable than @kazzy ‘s question for you above.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:

                It’s really more about ANY new gun legislation. New handgun laws, anti-trafficking efforts, etc will dis-proportionally affect minorities. That’s why it always seems weird when they go after assault rifles.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I feel like that’s a fairly big logical jump from @notme ‘s comment, but if this is the concern then I’m really not the best interlocutor, since I’m more or less a heretic on gun control.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Don Zeko says:

                By which I mean that I think liberal gun control efforts are similar to campaign finance reform: the sorts of reforms that would actually affect the underlying problem are politically and constitutionally impossible, and therefore a waste of political capital even when half measures don’t have undesirable side effects.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:

                But that is precisely my point. Assault weapons are responsible for a tiny fraction of gun violence, so why are liberals focusing on it? The reason seems obvious, which is that they want to earn political points. That was very clear based on the press releases after the votes failed. It costs them nearly nothing to suggest the legislation but they can get plenty of mileage out of it in an election year.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko says:

                @notme can correct me if I am wrong, but I think he and I are largely in agreement that any focus on gun crime that doesn’t look at inner cities is so far off the mark that it seems to either be unbelievably stupid or politically motivated.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Above Mike putlined real reforms that I think would curb gun violence. Many of them are part and parcel of the liberal platform (e.g., legalizing marijuana). I wholeheartedly agreed. Where were you then, @notme ?

                If there is a way to reduce gun violence without curtailing gun rights, I am all for it.

                Jobs, improved economy, better school options, ending the drug war… All of these would make a huge dent and none involve gun control. Will gun owners and GRAs other than Mike sign on?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Will gun owners and GRAs other than Mike sign on?

                I think you’d be pleasantly surprised by how many would.Report

              • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

                I support decriminalizing marijuana though I’m not sure the Colorado experiment has been a great success.Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy a little late to the party but I’d sign on to that.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Isn’t this somewhat undercut by the fact that liberals have tried pretty damn hard in the not so distant past to restrict handguns? You know, with things like the outright Babs on then that were passed in cities like Washington and Chicago, but them struck down by the Supreme Court?

                I don’t feel totally comfortable reaching inside the heads of my fellow travelers that I disagree with, but attempting to very heavily regulate handguns, hitting a legal and political brick wall, and then moving on to lower-hanging fruit is a pretty venal son as far as political cynicism goes.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Apologies for the plentiful typos; I’m on my phone.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Don Zeko says:


                This is part of the reason I suggested that real movement on banning handguns won’t happen until there is some movement on some manner of replacement.

                Although, to be fair, neither Chicago or DC limited themselves to handguns, and that is a big part of why they caught a lot of resistance.Report

              • notme in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Does increasing the penalty ever deter crime. Liberals say gun violence is real problem, right? If they are telling the truth then it may help to increase those penalties. Let’s target the folks that are causing the issue. We could get a reduction in gun violence without trampling on my rights. What a notion! All I ever hear is ban guns not punish folks severely for their criminal use.

                Take Palxico Burres and his illegal gun. Bloomberg urged that Burress be prosecuted to the fullest extent, saying that any punishment short of the minimum 3½ years (42 months) for unlawful carrying of a handgun would be “a mockery of the law.” Yet he only got 24 months and only served 20 months. So much for gun violence being taken seriously in NYC.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

                Whether increased penalties deter crime is a complicated question that likely depends upon our starting point, the type of crime, the manner of the increase, etc. Given our current level of punitiveness, I don’t have much faith in the value of increasing the punishments for gun offenses even further.Report

              • notme in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I see, I guess gun violence isn’t bad enough to even try this remedy.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

                We haven’t tried to curb violent crime e through enhanced sentences for violent crimes, particularly those committed with deadly weapons? What was the last four decades of anti-crime politics, chopped liver?Report

              • notme in reply to Don Zeko says:

                If Plaxico Burress is any example, my answer is no.

                I’d start with a 20 or25 year min no parole for folks that use a gun or felons that posses one. I take gun violence seriously and feel the penalties should reflect gravity of the crime.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

                Gee, how could liberals resist another opportunity to put multi-decade mandatory prison sentences on the books? 20 years minimum without parole is an insanely harsh sentence for mere possession. People get less for rapes, assaults and murders, and that’s in a country that leads the world in prison population. I’ll pass.Report

              • notme in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Gun violence is a real issue that’s puts people’s lives at risk, or so liberals claim. Serious crimes needs serious sentences. Then what is appropriate sentence? NYC is 3.5 years but that’s clearly too little. Give me a number.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

                Again, I am not the right person for this conversation, since I’m very heterodox on gun control. Also I like that this discussion has basically become a plea deal negotiation. That said, I don’t think possession of an unlicensed firearm should carry any prison time at all. A fine, probation, or community service should suffice. If the guy uses it to commit a robbery, an assault, a rape, etc, then come back to me and the deadly weapon will enhance the sentence.Report

              • notme in reply to Don Zeko says:

                If the guy uses it to commit a robbery, an assault, a rape, etc, then come back to me and the deadly weapon will enhance the sentence.

                Give me a number.Report

              • notme in reply to notme says:


                Did you come up with a number? You can always ask kazzy or somone else for help.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to notme says:


                Enough with the badgering of people who don’t reply back to you. Don might actually have more important things to do than talk to people on the internet. If you hear from him, great. if not, he chose to walk away and let’s be okay with that.Report

              • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

                You might find the following interesting, though I’ll leave it to the gun owners here to vouch for it:

                Why I “Need” an AR-15″Report

              • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:

                Interesting indeed. Curiously, I find his argument about it being the police’s weapon of choice the LEAST convincing one.

                Thinking more — and forgive me if this was addressed elsehwhere — it seems rate of fire might be the biggest issue with mass shooting. That seems to be a combination of auto/semi-auto/manual chambering, ammo capacity, and reload speed. So is there a reasonable cap on bullets per minute or bullets per secon and, if so, how do we best achieve that?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

                No – that’s not reasonable. There are millions of guns in circulation that would have to be confiscated and you would basically send guns back to the 19th century.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                There’s NO reasonable cap? So you support full-auto? If not, why not? These aren’t gotcha questions… You keep staking put absolutist positions and then get prickly when pressed?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:


                I understand that I have had nearly 40 years to learn this stuff, but you’ve been participating in gun conversations on this site for years. This very post goes into significant detail about the difference between full-auto and semi-auto. At some point you should either understand this stuff or it feels like you are deliberately getting on the conversational treadmill.

                Fully-auto guns are already heavily regulated. That’s a non-discussion. I’m talking about semi-auto guns with high-capacity magazines. And no, I don’t see any point in reducing them.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                YOU aren’t listening. yOu said no reasonable cap. But full autos are regulated in part because of rate of fire. sO if you don’t believe in a RoF cap, how do you justify ful-auto regs?

                It is increasingly clear you are no coming from a place of good faith…. Maybe because that is how the gun debate goes or maybe cuz of personal crap. Not sure which is worse but enjoy your echo chamber.Report

              • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

                Semi autos fire as slow or as fast as the user pulls the trigger. No more no less.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

                Re-read the post Kazzy. I pretty clearly dismissed fully-auto guns as not part of the conversation and I think you’re the only one here bringing them up. When we talk about rate of fire and capacity, semi-auto guns are the focus of the conversation. The only one getting off track here is you I’m afraid.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:


                See my comment below. Rate of Fire is not just a dial you set.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kazzy says:

                kazzy, I know guns aren’t your expertise, so I will offer this to show even bolt action rifles have cycle times below 4 seconds, these guys are about at 2 seconds with 10 round mag changes. I myself can get sub 4 second cycle rates feeding the bullets individualy by hand, less if the targets are close. (both with the enfields and common remington bolt guns)


                now in these mass shootings, there was time before the authorities arrived that allowed 7-8 second cycle times to achieve the same kill rates.

                A different gun just equates to more work, but not necessarily less death.Report

              • David Parsons in reply to Joe Sal says:

                A different gun just equates to more work, but not necessarily less death.

                That should be pretty easy to verify, yes?Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to David Parsons says:

                I would say if the ‘assult rifle’ bans go through we would find out. The problem is instead of a rifle, mass killers will likely just acquire semi auto pistols, which would probably have the effect of faster cycle times with higher death rates.

                What are your thoughts?Report

              • David Parsons in reply to Joe Sal says:

                It’s not as if there is any shortage of mass murders with firearms in this country; if the unicorn of a highly skilled homicidal gun nut existed there would already be evidence of it in the police reports. Personally, I think it’s doubtful that many — if any? — like that exist, because the sort of obsession that will put you on the range improving your accurate rate of fire and reloading speed isn’t the same obsession that will put you in the middle of a heap of bodies at some church, nightclub, grocery store, or elementary school.

                The claim of “oh, we can’t do (x) because some unicorn might exist” is sloppy.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to David Parsons says:

                Guys in clock towers being the exception that proves the rule?

                ETA I largely agree with you. I just worry that if they can’t use guns to commit mass murder, they’ll find another way. If we ever really get a handle on why mass murder is attractive to these people, my worry may be abated somewhat.Report

              • The argument is that guns — particularly the semi-auto/large magazine variety — are a much more efficient way of doing mass murder. Personally, I’m not sure; yes, countries that have actual gun control don’t have nearly the rates of mass murder that the US has, but once you get away from failed states countries without actual gun control don’t have nearly the rates of mass murder than the US has. But what the pro-gun arguments look like now are unsupported speculation and vaguely sourced personal anecdote (okay, there’s also the black helicopter argument, but that’s a joke once you get away from the GOA and the militias), which is fine if you have the government in your pocket and are trying to rally the troops, but which will end up failing /badly/ if gun violence reaches the point where people actually take it seriously.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to David Parsons says:


                Your point is a good one (and one that @morat20 echoes), in that, TTBOMK, most of our mass murders are generally not well versed in firearms or firefight tactics, and of those, very few show any real effort at practice. There are exceptions, obviously, and I’d want to see data before I say this with any seriousness, but most are just murder happy amateurs.

                Which means one thing we could do is require an alteration to the magazine mechanism on semi-auto rifles. Something that doesn’t make it impossible to swap mags (like, I believe, CA did), but something that takes a person a second or two to swap a mag. Certainly such a modification could be easily reversed by anyone who likes to tinker with their firearms, but if most aren’t actually hobbyists, will they put in the effort to learn how to make the change? You could capture many of those in the wild by requiring the modification in order to complete a legal transfer.

                I ask this because if these guys were really serious about close quarters killing, they really wouldn’t bother buying a rifle, and just build a full auto sub gun in their garage.Report

              • SSC: there’s a part of me that wants to see a “typical” spree killer try to use a full-auto weapon — there are an awful lot of stories of unprepared people firing an automatic and having it walk up and kill/injure/scare the pants off of them, and gosh it would be horrible if a mass murderer ended up getting in the papers for blowing his face off instead of killing a dozen or so people.

                @MikeDwyer: don’t assume liberals aren’t gun nuts. That big sort has not happened yet.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to David Parsons says:

                The San Bernardino shooters modified their rifle to be fully automatic.Report

              • Damon in reply to trizzlor says:

                A quick google search and 4 articles later and the reports are CLEAR:

                “The Smith & Wesson M&P15 had been altered in a failed attempt to make it function like an automatic weapon, she said, while the DPMS A-15 was modified to accommodate 30-round magazines.”


                Give me an authoritative citation that the weapon was converted to full auto. I doubt these guys had the technical knowledge to do it, nor knew anyone who did.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Damon says:

                Okay. The articles I had read said they were modified, I guess the mod failed.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                Converting a semi-auto to full auto (that is reliable) generally requires welding and machining skills, and if you don’t have some solid skills in those areas, chances are you will scrap an expensive handful of weapons before you get it right. Seriously, you are better off building a Home Depot Sten – much, much cheaper.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yeah, I was surprised that they attempted this at all and still had a functioning weapon (I’ve never seen that before, and heard that there have been like two known murders with fully-auto weapons since 1986). Note that they successfully converted the rifles to exchangeable magazines. I imagine that takes much less know-how, but it does indicate that there was thought and effort put into their preparations.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                Those two were a bit more thoughtful than most spree shooters. And yes, the mag modification is simple, which was the primary criticism of the law when it was being debated (that it was trivial to subvert the inability to change magazines).

                But trying to undermine the ability of the prepared person to cause carnage is a fools game. The best you can hope to do is undermine the impulsive ones.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Indeed, I remember being astounded by how much of our airport security is premised on catching the dumb terrorists (like thinking those squigglies the TSA agents write on your ticket are un-forgeable).

                BTW, did the San Bernardino attackers substantially modify the magazine system or just install the bullet button or both?Report

              • greginak in reply to trizzlor says:

                Yeah most security measures are aimed at stopping the dumb or impulsive. That is really fine with me. We can’t really stop the super genius villains at most we can slow them down or make it more difficult. Luckily there seem to be few of them, but stopping the maroons is a worthy goal.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to greginak says:

                I agree. And this was a point I tried to make earlier that gun regulations don’t actually have to be extremely comprehensive or heavy-handed if they just make it hard for some dude with no weapon experience from grabbing what he needs the morning of the attack; or forcing him to fiddle with the gun every time he needs to reload; etc. But this kind of thinking runs the risk of being unfalsifiable, “our system is *intentionally* bad, please give us more money to maintain it’s poor performance”.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                The obvious problem with issues like this is that it is devilishly hard to craft a law to demand an engineering solution. There are way more people much smarter than lawmakers who are happy to find a way to turn a buck while keeping within the law.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “The attack had been carried out with two AR-15 rifles outfitted with high-capacity magazines and a feature called a “bullet button.””

                I gather that “outfitting” a rifle with a high-capacity magazine is as difficult as putting seat covers in your car; and “outfitting” it with a bullet button is as difficult as installing a stereo. Is that about right?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                High capacity is a weasel term like assault weapon. For an AR-15, the magazine it is designed to load is a 25-30 round magazine. That isn’t high capacity, it’s standard for the platform. So outfitting it involves buying one from the store.

                Now a 50 or 100 round drum magazine, that is high capacity, and the extra weight can strain the magazine retention system such that the rifle fails to feed & jams, unless you beef up those components.

                The bullet button probably came with the rifle when it was purchased, so the manufacturer or dealer did the outfitting (which is something that can be done with simple hand tools and 15 minutes).Report

              • notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                An interesting fact, the U.S. Army originally only issued 20 round magazines with the AR-15. It wasn’t until later in the Vietnam conflict that they issued the 30 round magazines.Report

              • Damon in reply to trizzlor says:

                No worries. It’s easy to get confused. I was surprised you said this because if it was true, I would have expected a lot more news about that full auto. But both were modified. One to accept a larger mag and one mod in an attempt to make it full auto, but as Oscar says below, that’s some skeelz needed to do that. I’d also note that the mods were illegal under cali law.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Damon says:

                I’m actually surprised there wasn’t more discussion of this [in the media], even just the magazine mods. The CA laws seem to be the maximum that gun-control advocates could achieve at the federal level and so any violations of those laws are pretty critical to the discussion.Report

              • notme in reply to trizzlor says:

                Why would there be much if any discussion of these facts when they don’t support more silly gun control legislation?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to David Parsons says:

                gosh it would be horrible if a mass murderer ended up getting in the papers for blowing his face off instead of killing a dozen or so people.

                I.E. Why successful bombers are rare.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to David Parsons says:

                “The claim of “oh, we can’t do (x) because some unicorn might exist” is sloppy.”

                I didn’t make this claim did I? I was just pointing out that some assumptions here about fire rates (and capacity) versus dead/alive people appear to have possible flaws.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:


                Simmer down. Full auto is a very different physical mechanism than semi-auto (it’s why the idea of being able to convert a semi-auto to full auto is largely a myth, there were only a couple of models that could do that, and it still required some level of gunsmithing). The action of a semi-auto has something of a lower speed limit, in that restricting the speed with which the rifle can automatically eject a spent round and reload a fresh one is not something you can do very easily without adding a lot of complexity to the firearm, and complexity like that usually gets hacked in short order (i.e. someone will find a way to remove the limiter and bring the cycle rate back to normal).

                In addition to just the plain old engineering/mechanical concern is the fact that there are millions of such rifles already in circulation, so finding a way to force all the owners of those rifles to accept a cycle time limiter that can not be easily defeated is very tall order that will take decades to complete, if ever.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Also, let’s all keep in mind that it is perfectly legal to own a machine gun, provided that you pay a $200 tax and go through a lengthy background check, and that the gun in question was built prior to Jan 1 1968. The number of such guns is rather limited, so the price floor sits somewhere between $5K -$10K for one (with some of them fetching many tens of thousands of dollars).

                It’s a defacto ban, in that such guns are reserved for the very wealthy, but not an actual ban.Report

              • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                now mounted on mansions in nyc.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                As an example, your car has a minimum idle RPM (somewhere between 500 – 1000 RPM, I suspect), because the combustion reaction has a minimum energy at which it happens. If I add more fuel, I get a more energetic reaction and I can drive the pistons faster, but if I remove fuel, at some point, the reaction either has insufficient energy to move the piston enough, or insufficient fuel to cause a reaction.

                A semi auto is similar, in that the powder charge has a certain amount of energy, and the mechanism is going to borrow that energy to work the action, and the speed at which the action is worked is heavily dependant upon the energy of the powder charge. We can alter the mechanism to some degree to adjust the cycle rate, but the result will be measured in small fractions of a second. Increasing the cycle time to a value like 1.1 seconds is, well, not impossible, but certainly complicated (off the top of my head, you could incorporate some kind of viscous damper into the action, but how much time that would add would be uncertain).Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                >>There are millions of guns in circulation that would have to be confiscated and you would basically send guns back to the 19th century.

                This muddies the line between aspirations and tactics. First let’s determine what would be effective if it were 100% enforced. Then let’s talk about how to have reasonable enforcement. There are a lot of options between (no enforcement) and (BATF kicks down doors and puts you in a black bag), and concluding that this can’t work because the most draconian enforcement policy is too draconian is counter-productive.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to trizzlor says:

                I’ve pointed out I’m ALL in favor of gun buy-back programs as long as all bought back guns are destroyed, except for any with proven historical value that might better belong in a museum.

                I’m perfectly happy if this means someone trades in 3 old shotguns and uses the money to buy a new one. That’s still two fewer guns. The guy with the new shotgun is happy, I’m happy, everyone’s happy. Heck, even the NRA’s happy as their primary constituents are selling more guns (it’s not like they make money off of resales).

                And it reduces the number of guns floating around out there.

                I mean in an ideal world I’d pair that with increased backgrounds checks and licensing, and universal registration, along with very specifically targeted enforcement of gun shows and gun owners whose firearms tend to end up in criminal hands at a ridiculous rate (and from what I recall of some old news articles, it really is a handful of people/shops doing the bulk of the damage).

                And of course in a super ideal world, I’d make you carry liability coverage on your guns AND also get rid of the weird cultural quirk (which also seems to translate into proprietorial discretion often enough) that somehow leads to headlines like “Toddler shoots another toddler in tragic accident” as opposed to “Toddler shoots another toddler due to criminal negligence of the gun’s owner. Charges filed for negligent homicide”.Report

    • trizzlor in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      First off, thanks for continuing the conversation. I see myself developing a case of asshole-itis in these comments and I appreciate your patience.

      >> The short answer is, yes.

      I respect your approach, but this doesn’t happen in any other public policy discussion. When we discuss healthcare, or welfare reform, or whatever – the argument “but this worse thing is happening over here” holds zero sway with people. And it should. Mass acts have an impact on society that depends on their context. Knowing that it’s very easy for some psycho to mow down you and fifty other people in a night club is fundamentally different from knowing that someone can cut you off on the highway and you’ll die in a wreck. A single death by a sexual predator is different from a hundred deaths by drug deal gone wrong. These things have different levels of corrosiveness on our society, and on our sense of justice and liberty. If you witnessed 9/11 and thought “*yawn* just an average week in US highway fatalities, why’s everyone so concerned” that’s a consistent position that I will not be able to move you from. But it’s also not how policy works. Moreover, it seems strange to have a post that says “let’s talk about rifles” and then spend 80% of the discussion trying to pivot back to hand-guns.

      >> It’s not hard for me to imagine Kazzy, for example, saying three years from now that if a new AWB reduced gun violence by 25% then certainly we should consider legislation aimed at handguns, which account for a much higher percentage.

      I believe what you’re saying is that you are against a policy that – if it is very effective – people will want to expand. I get the logic here but, again, this is just not how policy works. You’re never going to get someone to promise that they won’t build on their policy successes. And you shouldn’t believe them even if they make such a promise. You have the constraints of the constitution and the movement of public opinion to work with. But if your stipulation for gun regulation is a promise that no regulation attempts will follow you may as well admit that nothing will meet that standard.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to trizzlor says:


        The reason that we have a problem with the AW focus is that it takes advantage of mass shootings to attempt to remove guns that aren’t really problematic. It’s either a product of liberal ignorance or opportunism. Either way, it’s not good policy making. I’m not sold on the idea that ‘something is better than nothing’.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          The link you had in the post – “How they got their guns” – shows that spree killings committed with an assault weapon were three times more deadly than spree killings committed with handguns. I agree that the focus on AR-15s is the usual liberal dumbfuckery on guns. But a holistic approach to curtailing AWs (or limit rate of fire, or increase reload time, or decrease capacity) seems to be consistent with minimizing mass deaths in such events.Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to trizzlor says:

            Mass shootings are less than 1% of all shooting deaths in the country. Basing federal legislation on that is, well, ludicrous in my opinion. It’s not low-hanging fruit. It’s the gnat on the low hanging fruit. I think it seriously demonstrates how much liberal policy-making is tied to the hearts instead of their heads.

            When I see a proposal that is actually tied to the root cause of gun crime, whether it be addressing the problems in inner cities, or mental health, or trafficking, then I will know liberals have gotten serious. Until then it really is just a waste of everyone’s time.Report

            • Zac Black in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              While I agree with you on your overall point here, Mike, couldn’t you make the exact same argument (with a few nouns traded out) against the War on Terror?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Zac Black says:


                I think you’re probably right about that. I think most people know we’re never going to defeat The Terrorists by picking off the 1%. We still do it though because it makes us feel like we’re doing something instead of just sitting on our hands.

                There’s also an analogy to be made there about how little we understand the Middle East and how little the Left understands gun owners.Report

              • Zac Black in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Mike Dwyer:
                @Zac Black
                I think most people know we’re never going to defeat The Terrorists by picking off the 1%. We still do it though because it makes us feel like we’re doing something instead of just sitting on our hands.

                There’s also an analogy to be made there about how little we understand the Middle East and how little the Left understands gun owners.

                Yeah, I think that’s about right, especially the latter part.

                Re: this whole thing, I occupy what is probably considered to be a middle ground position in the gun debate: I support the right for people to own firearms, but I’d also like, at a minimum, the stuff you outlined here. In my ideal world, getting a gun would be like getting a pilot’s license, but I understand why that’s not politically feasible (and it’s not because of the NRA, at least not solely). I usually stay out of these debates precisely because it’s so polarized and both sides think I’m an idiot for either not being as anti- or pro-gun as they’d like, but I appreciate your willingness to wade into this stuff, Mike. Keep doing what you’re doing.Report

        • notme in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          It’s either a product of liberal ignorance or opportunism.

          I think it’s both.Report

  26. Slade the Leveller says:

    Every discussion of guns, and whether to regulate them or not, seems, at least in my humble opinion, to miss the point. Gun owners will rightly point to the 2nd Amendment as their basis for holding arms. If gun opponents are not willing to do the (extremely) heavy lifting necessary to amend the Constitution, then all the bloviating about gun regulation is just spitting in the wind.

    Why not, instead, regulate ammunition? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say one is guaranteed a right to shoot said firearms. The government has been taxing the living hell out of cigarettes for years in an effort to stamp out use. A similar effort could be made with respect to ammo.

    Alternatively, as with lead paint or asbestos containing products, just outright ban manufacture of a previously legal product. Probably a bit more difficult, but not without precedent.

    At the very least, it would make for some interesting legal gymnastics, as the inevitable legal challenge made its way to the Supreme Court.Report

  27. notme says:

    Yet Another Gun Debate Ignores the Disproportionate Death Toll in Black Communities

    • trizzlor in reply to notme says:

      What are some Republican proposals for dealing with black-on-black violence that you would like the Democrats to get on board with?Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to trizzlor says:

        When there is a black perp and a black victim, send the black person to jail.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to trizzlor says:

        Something something personal responsibility.Report

      • notme in reply to trizzlor says:

        First Dems would have to stop grandstanding for political points. Then they could address the real problem, handgun violence in urban areas. Like I said before, increase the penalties for use of a gun in a crime, possession of a gun by felons/illegal possession Something like 25 years of federal time w/o parole. Target the criminals not my civil rights. We increased the penalties for drunk driving and it made a difference so do the same here, if violence is really a problem and not just a fundraising pitch.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to notme says:

          What are some Republican proposals for dealing with black-on-black violence that you would like the Democrats to get on board with?Report

          • notme in reply to trizzlor says:

            I don’t know. However that doesn’t stop Dems from proposing steps like these to directly address the criminals causing the gun violence. But then they wouldn’t need to grandstand on the House floor would they?Report

            • trizzlor in reply to notme says:

              Here’s what I see. Democrats look at black-on-black crime through these guiding principles: (1) less guns, less crime; (2) incarceration breeds more incarceration; (3) racial discrimination does continual harm to the black community. Based on these principles, they propose all sorts of legislation to limit access to guns, to address issues of mass incarceration, and to counter racial discrimination (which is also prioritized at the DOJ). Since we’re on the topic, I’ll note that I’m agnostic on (1) and strongly disagree with the way Democrats pursue it, but I recognize the internal logic.

              Stop me at any time, but Republicans have two corresponding guiding principles: (1) more guns, less crime; (2) getting tough on crime. They spend a great deal of time *talking* about black-on-black violence; inner-city crime; pointing at largely black, urban neighborhoods as examples of failed policies; etc. etc. But they propose very little. I’m not aware of any national push to help African Americans get access to guns or to get them interested in gun clubs. Nor am I aware of a national push on stricter sentencing laws. I don’t see anything on the issues list that is tangentially related. You’ll also be shocked to learn that the Republican nominee for president doesn’t touch these issues on his campaign web-site either. For comparison, here are the relevant issues that have specific proposals on Clinton’s page: substance abuse; criminal justice reform; gun violence prevention; racial justice.

              So who’s grandstanding?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to trizzlor says:

                Why not both?

                The number one thing that it seems to me that would help is the cessation of the arrest of harmless (fsvo “harm”) criminals and putting them in institutions with hardened criminals (many of whom were dropped into similar institutions back when they were first harmless criminals).

                Legalization of (or serious rescheduling of) recreational drugs would exchange some serious problems for some moderate problems.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think the evidence shows that poverty/crime/discrimination/addiction within the black community is on a completely different level then outside of it. By most metrics we have a 1st world country for inner-city whites and a 3rd world country for inner-city blacks. So while I agree that general decrim efforts are useful, I also think it’s important not to lose track of the underlying racial disparity (which, by the way, was raised by notme, not me). In that context, my point was that someone who says “I’m really concerned about black-on-black violence, here are my proposals to deal with black-on-black violence” is fundamentally different – even if those proposals are ineffective – from someone who says “I”m really concerned about how the other team ignores black-on-black violence, here are my … whoops look at the time I must be going”.Report

              • j r in reply to trizzlor says:

                So who’s grandstanding?

                Good question. From the 2000 Democratic Party platform:

                Bill Clinton and Al Gore took office determined to turn the tide in the battle against crime, drugs, and disorder in our communities. They put in place a tougher more comprehensive strategy than anything tried before, a strategy to fight crime on every single front: more police on the streets to thicken the thin blue line between order and disorder, tougher punishments – including the death penalty – for those that dare to terrorize the innocent, and smarter prevention to stop crime before it even starts.

                Dated, yes, but not much in more recent platforms to walk this back. Meanwhile, this is from a couple of months ago:

                Not to imply that “Republicans are better,” just to note that your narrative needs a little reality check.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to j r says:

                Look, I’ll be ecstatic of this becomes an RNC plank. But you’re kindof making my point by comparing a platform from 2000 to a platform proposal that hasn’t been enacted yet. And how long do you think we’ll need to wait before a proposal that actually mentions the black community? Again, for comparison, here’s the *current* DNC platform:

                We will end the dangerous cycle of violence, especially youth violence, by continuing to invest in proven community-based law enforcement programs such as the Community Oriented Policing Services program. We will reduce recidivism in our neighborhoods. We created the Federal Interagency Reentry Council in 2011, but there’s more to be done. We support local prison-to-work programs and other initiatives to reduce recidivism, making citizens safer and saving the taxpayers money. We understand the disproportionate effects of crime, violence, and incarceration on communities of color and are committed to working with those communities to find solutions.


              • j r in reply to trizzlor says:

                I don’t think that I’m making your point when I posted something that directly contradicted something you said:

                Stop me at any time, but Republicans have two corresponding guiding principles: (1) more guns, less crime; (2) getting tough on crime.

                What candidates mention is great, but I’m more interested in what happens when the rubber meets the road. And if you look at bills in congress and efforts at the state levels to reduce incarceration, they all have pretty wide bipartisan support.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to j r says:

                I’m starting to see the goalpost tire marks. What GOP proposals are you thinking of that specifically say they are targeting black-on-black violence?Report

              • j r in reply to trizzlor says:

                I’m not talking about black on black violence, which is generally a stupid thing to be talking about.

                I’m questioning your assertion that Ds are working on ways to limit mass incarceration and Rs are still “getting tough on crime.” That split exists, but it simply doesn’t break down on party lines.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to j r says:

                Well, if you look through my previous comments you will see that they were all made in the context of black-on-black violence, which was the topic set by notme. Within that topic, D’s are working on ways to limit mass incarceration and R’s are either delinquent or still getting tough on crime. If you think I’m being pedantic by focusing on the racial angle, I recommend this essay, and this snapshot for why I’m talking about things this way:

                In the chart above, Sampson plotted the the incarceration rate in Chicago from the onset imprisonment boom to its height. As Sampson notes, the incarceration rate in the most afflicted black neighborhood is 40 times worse than the incarceration rate in the most afflicted white neighborhood. But more tellingly for our purposes, incarceration rates for white neighborhoods bunch at the lower end, while incarceration rates for black neighborhoods bunch at the higher end. There is no gradation, nor overlap between the two. It is almost as if, from the perspective of mass incarceration, black and white people—regardless of neighborhood—inhabit two “fundamentally distinct”worlds.


              • j r in reply to trizzlor says:

                Yeah, it’s generally not the best idea to take notme’s bait.

                And I don’t think that you’re being pedantic. If your point is that Ds are more likely to focus on the racial angle of policies than the Rs are, then you are right. But what you said specifically about incarceration, is just not really the case anymore, if it ever was.

                Separately, I just don’t buy TNC’s points, either about the desirability of progressive policies as a whole or the efficacy of policies specifically focused on race when it comes to economic development or criminal justice.Report

              • notme in reply to j r says:

                What bait are you talking about? It’s a fact that most gun violence occurs with handguns and takes place within inner cities. My proposal targets those segments of the population that cause the most damage. I would increase the penalties for current crimes to make sure that violent people stay in jail longer.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to notme says:


                That has already been tried. Opinions about its effectiveness are varied. I’m not a huge fan of harsher sentencing as a deterrent. Having once been a teenager, having raised two teenagers and having several teen nieces and nephews…I think it’s pretty clear they are idiots that are extremely vulnerable to peer pressure and other cultural issues. Throwing them in jail for a longer period of time just increases the liklihood they will re-offend when they get out, in my opinion.

                I’d much rather try to actually fix the reasons why the inner cities are so messed up in the first place. Any suggestions on that front?Report

              • notme in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Project Exile only got the criminal 5 years, hardly comparable to what I’m suggesting. Besides, there are indications that Exile was working in the link.

                My other suggestions are: stay in school, don’t do drugs and don’t get pregnant. Also don’t implement $15 an hour for jobs b/c those jobs will disappear.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to notme says:


                “My other suggestions are: stay in school, don’t do drugs and don’t get pregnant.”

                That is a very Republican thing to say, but also it doesn’t seem to demonstrate any intent for the government to help with the problem. Basically, behave or we throw you in jail for a long time. Awesome.Report

              • notme in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                How is gov’t supposed to get folks to stay in school, not do drugs and use birth control? That gov’t can’t make folks do everything, somethings have to come from the person’s own internal motivation of from the culture the folks live in.

                Take seat belt use. Use a belt and your chances of being injured fall greatly. Can the gov’t really make you use a seat belt? Other than public service announcements and fines for not wearing them it has to come from the personal choices you make each day.

                Or take drunk driving, gov’ts have increased the penalties for DUI and the rates have gone down.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to notme says:

                “How is gov’t supposed to get folks to stay in school, not do drugs and use birth control?”

                I don’t think those three issues are really a serious solution, so i’m not that interested in the government enforcing them. Letting men return to their communities and helping them be there for their families would be much more effective.Report

  28. Road Scholar says:

    So, over four hundred comments thus far and basically it looks like any other internet discussion on this topic. I probably shouldn’t bother, but I have a few thoughts to get off my chest.

    1. Spree killers using “assault” weapons are indeed a small component of the overall death toll by firearms. Likewise, airline crashes are a small component of the death toll by transportation accident. Yet we spend a considerable amount of time, attention, and money to making air travel as safe as possible. I think the reasons spree killers get the kind of attention they do is the same reason airline crashes do despite the much larger overall toll from auto crashes; it’s about control and scale.

    One airline crash can kill hundreds of people; one car crash can kill, at most, a handful. A car accident that ends in a half-dozen deaths will make national news. A bus or train crash certainly will. And yet, all these disparate events can have identical causes; a mechanical failure, operator error, etc. The impact of the one is going to be a lot greater than the impact of the other. This is why, as an operator of a commercial vehicle, I have tighter licensing requirements, hours-of-service regulations, and am subject to random drug/alcohol testing. If I eff up the potential consequences are much greater than if you, driving a typical automobile, should eff up.

    The bit about control is significant as well. I can mitigate much of my personal risk of death by firearm simply by not owning one. I can’t commit suicide with a gun I don’t own. I can’t accidentally shoot myself or another family member or be shot by my young child who finds it in the nightstand. If I get into a drunken argument it may end in a fist-fight but not in someone being shot to death. I can avoid dangerous neighborhoods and criminal pursuits. With sufficient income I can deliberately choose to live in a nice, safe, suburban neighborhood.

    But spree killings are like getting smote by the finger of G-d. You read about one in the news and you can easily put yourself in the shoes of the victims who were just shopping at the mall, going to class, or enjoying themselves with friends at a club. They had done absolutely nothing to increase their degree of personal risk, there’s no way they could foresee the event, and there’s precious little they could do to mitigate the damages. Basically, you’re just along for the ride, just like people that die in a plane crash.

    So focusing on gun control and such in the wake of a spree killing may not make sense from a purely logical standpoint, but it should be totally understandable from a psychological one.

    2. The flip side of my point 1 is that if you’re insisting on owning and carrying a firearm for personal defense, you’re almost certainly doing it wrong. The reality is that the vast majority of folks in the U.S. live a pretty placid, peaceful, even boring, existence. Your background risk of victimization by criminal action is very low. So the odds of being in a situation where the ability to instantly wield a firearm in self-defense would actually come into play are vanishingly small. Which is why the gun nut (and yeah, that guy is a nut) insisting on running around the mall open-carrying an AR-15 looks so ridiculous. On the other hand, your risk of death or injury by firearm increases by an order of magnitude if you own a firearm. Yes, the possibility exists that you might find yourself needing to, and successfully, defend yourself with your firearm. But you’re far more likely to injure or kill yourself or a family member, or be yourself injured or killed by a family member. The net result is that your life expectancy goes down, not up. There are exceptions to this of course. Some folks, by virtue of where they live, what they do for a living, etc, have an elevated background risk of criminal victimization that may reverse this calculus*. But I would submit to you that that isn’t the case of the vast majority of GRAs that skew heavily toward the white, male, middle class, suburb dweller with an office job.

    Now, I suppose one could take an evolutionary perspective on all this, shrug one’s shoulders, and consider it a case of Murphy’s Law thinning the herd. One could, if it weren’t for the pesky reality of innocents getting caught in the cross-fire. I could mostly not care if it weren’t for the fact that, as a non-owner of firearms, my personal risk of death or injury by same weren’t a function of the sheer number of weapons in circulation, mostly the illicit ones, but also to a lesser extent the legal ones via accidents and such.

    Between my points 1) and 2), you find a telling inconsistency. On the one hand, GRAs will deride GCAs, and not without some good cause, for focusing on their attentions on low-frequency events like spree killings committed with “assault” weapons. But then these same people, totally unironically, will turn around and claim that they really, really need a firearm for self-defense against what are, objectively, very low-frequency, low-probability contingencies.

    Honestly, my take-away from all this is that human beings really suck at risk analysis and that about 90% of this debate, from both sides, is driven by pure emotion.

    * For example, for a couple years I was, first, an assistant manager, then a manager of a retail store. At closing, I had to take a bag of money to the night deposit at a bank. A very predictable schedule of carrying a largish sum of cash along a predictable route. I never encountered a problem but it wouldn’t have been irrational of me to carry a sidearm in that particular circumstance, and I wouldn’t gainsay someone in a similar situation who decided to do so.Report

    • @road-scholar

      You aren’t wrong about the logic you are detailing here. The problem with airline travel is that if it suddenly became unsafe, it could dramatically affect our economy…so we have to maintain the feeling of safety. Since mass-shootings don’t seem to be affecting the way people go about their lives, but all of the shootings related to gang violence actually do…I think we can rationalize a focus aimed at that.

      I want to make it clear here that while I can’t speak for everyone that takes this position, I really do want to focus on handgun crime as part of a much larger effort to fix some of the conditions that afflict inner cities. I think our drug war is insane. I think the way we treat people who have served their time is insane. I think the fact that we allow gun trafficking to go largely unchallenged is insane. It really touches a million other issues from Section 8, to child care assistance for working mothers, to work programs…you name it. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, shootings are a symptom, not the disease.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


        You’ve spoken before on trafficking, specifically (I believe) regarding the “gun show loophole”. Leaving aside all the other (very real) issues you mention here, why haven’t we developed a better system of tracking guns and ammo? There are probably tens of thousands — maybe more — of guns in the “wrong” hands right now. These are the ones we need to focus on. How did they get there? I doubt we can fully stamp out the black market (or ANY black market) but it seems we can do better. Is it impossible from a technical/engineering standpoint to make guns and ammunition components fully traceable? If we find a gun that was used in a shooting in inner city Chicago and can trace that the last lawful owner was someone in suburban Atlanta who bought it for self-protection or a gun store owner in Seattle, we start there. “How and when did the gun leave your possession?” If they don’t have a good answer, there are consequences. The private owner gets his license suspended; the gun shop closes down. If you are contributing to the flow of guns into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, it seems that you can reasonably be put into the “irresponsible gun owner” category, even if you yourself didn’t shoot someone with the gun. Selling that gun illegally or allowing it to fall off the back of the truck is irresponsible. (If your gun was legitimately stolen and you filed a police report, you’re in the clear.)

        I get that determined criminals will find a way around any technological change. But not all criminals are that determined… or effective. If guns/ammo can be made traceable in 90% of cases where an artifact is recovered*, we might make a real dent in the number of guns in the wrong hands… with seemingly no cost to folks with the right hands.

        Separately, are there any restrictions on ammo purchases? Would it be unreasonable to say if you want to buy Bullet X, you need a license for a gun that fires Bullet X? I mean, that’d cut down on giving ammo as a stocking stuffer, but why would someone need ammo for a gun they don’t (legally) own?

        * I know that this isn’t always the case and that bullets themselves are almost impossible to trace.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

          Traceability, in my opinion, can be helped tremendously by requiring all sales to be documented. No more private sales in the aisles of gun shows, etc (and I say this as someone who has bought/sold guns in private sales and also bought them from dealers that required lots of paperwork and a background check). I also like the idea of documenting ammo purchases and stamping serial numbers on every bullet produced. Not perfect, but it would help quite a bit.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Yea, I remember you being on record about documentation which seems like an obvious first step. But, since we aren’t there, it must not be obvious to all. What are the arguments against it?Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

              Most of the arguments are around cost and the difficulty in keeping records. You can find the details here. I remain unconvinced.

              Contra-opinions here.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

              The hysterical argument against tracking is it becomes a defacto registry that the government can use to come take your guns.

              When it comes to UBC, I still think a modernization of the system would deal with a lot of the resistance. If I could run a background check on someone who wants to buy my gun with my smartphone, I would be a lot more willing to do just that. If I have to coordinate with them to meet at a dealer, during business hours, and pay whatever fee the dealer feels like charging me, then I have to compare the hassle & cost with how much I’m going to make selling the gun. Bring the hassle and cost close to zero for doing it (while making the potential cost of not real high), and you’ll get some pretty nice compliance numbers.Report

              • I think the arguments against record-keeping are pretty silly. Every gun guy that whines about it has probably bought gun-related items online. If they think the government isn’t tracking that, they are very naive.

                As for it being painless, my last ‘documented’ gun purchase was done via cell phone at a gun show. 10 minutes worth of paperwork and 10 minutes waiting for the call to be completed. Some would complain but I didn’t mind.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Was one of you an FFL? My understanding was that only an FFL can access the NICS system?Report

              • I bought it from an in-state gun store that had a booth at the show. It just shows how easy it is for everyone to do it though,Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Right, so one party was an FFL and could access the system.

                I’m saying the system should be open to all.Report

              • My suggestion would be to just have transfers happen at the DMV or something similar. For gun shows, people could be licensed to access the system and the show would provide a booth that facilitated documented private sales.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Granted, I’ve only been to a few gun shows in my time, but everyone had exactly that, a booth with a bank of phones for doing transfers. When a purchase was made, the dealer would tag the item, give the buyer a claim number, and have the buyer do the 4473, then the dealer would walk the item over to the booth. Seller would present the claim ticket & his completed 4473, the check would run, and if it was good, the buyer got his item.

                But the booth was only for sellers who had registered for the show (which was how they got claim tickets to hand out).

                My focus is less on the gun show floor, and more on the sales arranged via internet message board.Report

              • I’d like to see all private sales basically handled like a car sale. Whatever that looks like.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                That seems about sensible, sure.Report

              • notme in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Why bring the DMV into the picture if you can access NICS from your phone?Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                Why not just bring the DMV into the 21st century while we’re at it?
                If we’re working title on guns (and that seems sane and sensible), well, let’s do it as well as we can, and then use the same system for everything else.

                Even the government is capable of improvement.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            I wouldn’t do a serial number on every bullet, but certainly lot numbers that are tracked. Or, alternatively, develop microdots with lot numbers on them that can be mixed with the powder, something CSI techs could look for at a crime scene.Report

            • Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Hmm sensing an oppy to sell reloads..on the DL….Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


              On the bullet itself? That’d seem to be a huge advance.

              I’m surprised there isn’t more traction on the law-and-order side of the aisle as this would seem to help with convicting murderers and have zero impact (besides cost) on non-murderers.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Stamping a unique serial number on bullets is probably a waste of time, because they deform on impact, so it’s questionable if you’ll ever get a good number (unique serial numbers would be long, so they’d have to be printed very small, which means any deformation risks destroying enough of the serial number to make it less than useful). Lot numbers would be shorter and help narrow down the search as to who bought them.

                Now plastic microdots with serial/lot numbers capable of surviving the combustion of the powder, if mixed in with the powder, and if made so that they fluoresce under UV light, would offer a handy investigation tool at the scene of a shooting. Not sure if we have a plastic like that, but it’s be worth investigating.

                PS Making modern smokeless gun powder at home requires significant knowledge of chemistry and lab procedures, and involves some chemicals that would be easy to track. Using black powder, which can be made at home, in firearms not designed for it, is asking for trouble.Report

      • Road Scholar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Mike Dwyer: Since mass-shootings don’t seem to be affecting the way people go about their lives, but all of the shootings related to gang violence actually do…I think we can rationalize a focus aimed at that.

        Do they? Really? How exactly do the shootings related to gang violence actually affect your life? I know that they affect mine not at all. I don’t live in the kind of neighborhood that’s controlled by gangs. I have no friends or family members involved in gangs or the drug trade*. I know exactly zero people that have been affected by or involved in such violence.

        But I take your point. Depersonalize it and view from a societal level and you’re correct, but only to the extent that we’re focusing on intentional violence directed at others. Suicides, accidents, and non-premeditated crime — or crimes of passion committed by otherwise law-abiding folks — are huge contributors as well, likely dwarfing the kind of thing that notme’s Final Solution to Strengthen the Strain is aimed at.

        When you look at this cross-culturally, comparing the U.S. to peer societies and economies, the one single factor that jumps out is the sheer number of guns in private hands, both legally and not. And it constitutes a feed-back loop of sorts because the greatest criminal threat that you personally might face is going to be from someone wielding one of those weapons with ill-intent, thus justifying your personal desire to add to the sum total of firearms in circulation.

        We have, as a society, made considerable progress in reducing deaths from drunken driving. We managed to do so without repeating the failed policy of Prohibition. We also didn’t do it by making alcohol more accessible.

        * Okay, full disclosure: I used to sell a bit of weed in my college days, and I acknowledge that there were certainly some Really Bad Guys(TM) farther up the supply chain somewhere, but at my level it was all really friendly. Note: Statute of limitations, thirty-five years ago.Report

        • @road-scholar

          Gang-related crime doesn’t affect me because I am lucky enough to not have to live in places where it is a problem. For many of our citizens, that isn’t an option.

          Also, this:

          “Suicides, accidents, and non-premeditated crime — or crimes of passion committed by otherwise law-abiding folks — are huge contributors as well…”

          I agree, and the only thing I believe can help that is a mandatory 7-day waiting period.Report

          • Road Scholar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Mike Dwyer: Gang-related crime doesn’t affect me because I am lucky enough to not have to live in places where it is a problem. For many of our citizens, that isn’t an option.

            That’s sorta my point that relates back to the inherent contradiction in people who live lives like ours claiming a need for firearms for personal protection. I don’t and most like you don’t really either.

            But that’s more of a rhetorical point than substantive. In reality, our positions are very similar which points to a larger meta-point I wanted to make:

            Gun control, despite the contemporary rhetoric, isn’t an inherently left vs right issue. The contemporary regime of gun control wasn’t originally a liberal cause, but actually a conservative one, with its roots in the violent leftist organizations of the Vietnam/Civil Rights era. Back when the word “terrorist” was used to refer to orgs like the Black Panthers, The Move, The Weather Underground, The Symbionese Liberation Army, etc. Somewhere up above jr referred to “the Clinton era” assault weapons ban. Umm… that was actually instituted in the Reagan administration, with his full support, and expired under Clinton.Report

            • notme in reply to Road Scholar says:

              Wrong. Slick willie was in office from 1993-2001. The AWB was passed in 1994 and sunset in 2004.Report

            • I know the history of the gun-control movement and you aren’t wrong. It’s a weird flip-flop that it has switched sides.Report

            • Joe Sal in reply to Road Scholar says:

              Road, I don’t buy that this isn’t a left right issue. The social people on the left want guns only in their social constructs, government agency, police, army, national guard. Their starting point is usually guns are to be used by a social construct to protect ‘society’. I really dislike that position because it doesn’t even uphold basic tenets of the rule of law. It starts with ‘these people can have whatever gun requirements they want and those other people can’t. It projects a ignorant inversion of what liberalism was supposed to be.

              The individual constructs of the right typically has a starting point of self defense, or individual constructs, such as individual ‘rights’.

              There isn’t even a thin veil between the tensions in those conflicts.Report

  29. Lurker says:

    Expertise about guns does not make someone more knowledgeable about whether gun control is a sound and just policy.

    The semantic dispute about what count as an “assault” weapon is irrelevant. Legislation can be comstructed that makes it more difficult to purchase or obtain specific weapons that have been shown to make mass killing easier and more deadly. If some weapons are as deadly and not caught by that legislation, we modify the legislation. This is how we do it with car safety laws and worker safety laws, etc. Pass a law, see what works, modify when you see the real world results.

    It is clear that there is a case for the claim that some items are too dangerous to be owned at all by private citizens except in rare cases where there are strict regulations, e.g. dangerous microorganisms. Moreover, we ban ownership of fully auto weapons, despite the fact that people could use them for fun. for collecting. and even for defense, as in the case of defending a religious compound.

    There is also a strong case for regulating ownership of products -with licenses, product standards, etc.- that are shown to be toxically dangerous to people. And gun ownership has been shown to be -in the aggregate- dangerous to people who own guns and to those near people who own guns.

    Thus, the moral case for strong gun control regulations like licensing, national registration lists. trigger locks in some cases. penalties for losing a gun and not reporting it, holding owners legally responsible for the use of their weapon civilly and criminally in some cases, required training, waiting periods, proof of safe storage, require and regulat mental health checks for owners, is powerul and nearly indisputable.

    And the case for the creation of legislation (and modifying of that legislation of time to make it effective based on empirical resulys) banning of weapons with high rates of fire, substantial magazines, easy to reload quickly magazines, high power rifles, is even stronger.Report

    • Damon in reply to Lurker says:


      “Moreover, we ban ownership of fully auto weapons” No we don’t. It’s mentioned like, you know, in the comments of this very thread. We ban “some” of them, date related. But you did get this right: “Expertise about guns does not make someone more knowledgeable about whether gun control is a sound and just policy.” You clearly demonstrated that.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Lurker says:

      Actual knowledge about firearms applied to the ’94 AWB would have stood a chance of making it more effective, rather than the completely ineffective joke that it was.

      Full auto weapons are legal. The standard is that weapons which serve a “sporting purpose” are fine, and machine guns did not, in the court’s eyes, meet that purpose, so they are more heavily regulated. Semi-auto rifles have been around since the 1880’s, and have been actively used as hunting (read: sporting) weapons since shortly thereafter. So semi-auto rifles are now, and have been for over a hundred years, weapons that fit the “sporting purpose” definition.

      This is why focusing on the semi-auto part is a long slog. Detachable magazine is a easier target to hit.

      Aside from that, I’m all for insurance & training requirements, as long as they are reasonable (i.e. the requirement has a constructive goal toward producing a safer, more responsible gun owner, rather than just being another set of F-U rules & laws).Report

    • trizzlor in reply to Lurker says:

      >>This is how we do it with car safety laws and worker safety laws, etc. Pass a law, see what works, modify when you see the real world results.

      This is true, and I would hope liberals move towards a more outcomes-based approach to gun regulation. The CA law, for example, started out listing specific gun models that were restricted, which – it should be obvious – can be circumvented by cosmetic changes to the gun and a new model release.

      That said, if your goal is to regulate cars then you should at least have a minimal enough understanding of their function so you don’t waste political capitol trying to ban painted stripes, eight-ball gear shifters, stickers of Calvin peeing on stuff, etc. just because you see those things on cars that tend to have aggressive drivers. And if you learn that every car is one basic component with different plastic shells on top that have little effect on functionality, then give up regulating cars and focus on regulating drivers.Report

  30. Jason M Coggins says:

    I think this is an accurate assessment, but I have one small point of contention that is accompanied by a caveat. I disagree about points 3 and 4 being irrelevant. A collapsible stock makes any weapon more easily concealable under a coat or jacket. It would be awkward but I am pretty sure one could hide an M-4, under an oversize coat, so as to not be noticed on casual inspection. Pistol grips are where the caveat comes in. Pistol grips are absolutely advantageous in a tactical situation. If one has ever attempted tactical movement while conducting building clearing exercises, where you have to transition frequently from the low-ready position to a firing position frequently, the traditional grip position of something like an M-14 are just awkward. With that being said, one of the often overlooked factors in this discussion (I think) is training. Tactically advantageous features don’t help much if the user has no tactical training or experience.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jason M Coggins says:

      Even with a collapsable/folding stock, hiding a carbine under a long coat isn’t as easy as Hollywood makes it to be. Putting it on a retractable sling would help a bit, but it’s still a tall order. You’d have to be around 6′ tall and wearing a very bulky or very baggy coat, which is going to stand out in many places.

      Now a subgun, on the other hand, or a bullpup rifle, is a different story. But no one seems to use those, probably because concealability isn’t a consideration for a spree shooter.

      As for tactical features, as was said before, most spree shooters have no training, so such features don’t help them much, so focusing legislation on them is a waste of time (is that what you were trying to get at?).Report

      • Jason M Coggins in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Yes, Oscar that is some of what I was going for I think that it gets ignored in these conversations quite a bit. Training trumps tools every time, and a great many of these shooters seem to be largely untrained. I feel like a lot of the advantages of these weapons go largely underutilized in these situations, and the controversy really is because a certain segment of the population finds them scary looking. I will disagree about concealability being a factor for a shooter. The shooter has to get to his target before he can do any damage. You now have to be buzzed through many school doors, and that is not likely to happen if you are openly brandishing an AR-15.Report

  31. Oscar Gordon says:

    One thing we haven’t discussed is what kinds of tools could law enforcement have? Right now there is all the political grandstanding about using the No-Fly/Terrorist watchlist to deny gun purchases, which, while I can see the logic, I have one major issue with; those are black lists. A person on the list has a hell of a time finding out they are on the list until they attempt to fly or apply for a security clearance, once they suspect they are on the list, getting confirmation is a slog, and challenging their inclusion on the list is even more so. Those lists need a lot of work before I am willing to support their use in this manner.

    But, such lists could have a slightly different use right now, and that is to act as a flag for law enforcement. The FBI had probably flagged the Orlando shooter in some database of theirs. If that flag had been attached to NICS, the FBI could have gotten an email saying that he had just purchased a handgun and a rifle, and the FBI could have made an effort to track him down for a chat, or just kept tabs on him, etc.

    I could see such lists being something local LEOs could use as well. Known trouble makers could be quietly flagged and the PD that flagged them could get a notice if that person bought a gun that went through NICS. If those kinds of flags could be set by officers, rather than through court action, it might help to close some of the NICS holes (imagine if Dylan Roof had been flagged as a known drug user by an officer; even if the court records failed to populate NICS, the PD would know he had bought a gun, and perhaps it was time to go find him).

    Obviously, such things would require safeguards to prevent officers from using it to act out grudges (i.e. it has to be challengeable, with penalties for misuse), the whole information sharing across PDs has to get a lot better, and even then it won’t be perfect. But it could help.Report

    • Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      You do know how many agents are in the FBI right? Add the BATF agents in and compare to how many background checks occur per year.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal says:

        Ergo, law enforcement would have to be judicious with the names they add to the list.Report

        • Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Do they even have time to be doing the work they are supposed to be doing now?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal says:

            Don’t know. Depends on the department. Perhaps it would help distract them from annoying people over harmless violations. Ultimately it would depend on how many people they put on the list. Too many on the list & you’ll either spend all day chasing such reports, or you’ll risk dangerous people getting lost in the noise.Report

  32. Kazzy says:

    Regarding background checks, what crimes would we want to use to create the banned list? Any crime? Drug and violent crimes? Exclude simple possession? Only violent crime? I see merit and drawback to any such system.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

      Sorry, forgot about this.

      IMHO, only people with violent histories should be banned, and I would do away with the lifetime ban. What I would do is take rape, assault, battery, and homicide (did I miss a violent category?) and make those (and anything that falls under them) into the offenses that can suspend your right. I’d put misdemeanors under that as well.

      Then, I’d create a graduated rights restoration table. Convicted of a misdemeanor, loss of rights for 1-5 years from date of conviction, depending on the degree of the misdemeanor. Felonies cost you the right for 5-25 years from date of end of supervision, again depending on the degree of felony.

      Rights restoration is not automatic, but it also isn’t onerous (something simple, like a boilerplate petitioning of the court).

      The way we do it now not only casts too wide a net, but it also provides little in the way of rights restoration (hell, felons can automatically vote two years after the end of supervision, so why is it so hard to get gun rights back?). If we want to be serious about being rehabilitative, rather than just punitive, rights restoration has to be part of that.Report

      • (did I miss a violent category?)

        Creating petitions protesting dress codes.Report

      • greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        A big issue is restraining orders. They can be tricky since the burden of proof is lower and there is no conviction. However to get a long term restraining order a judge has made a finding on the record. Often RO’s are for domestic violence which is a big issue and the people in fear have significant valid reasons for that fear.

        Should people lose their guns due to a RO? Well that is big question. Since there is no registration we never really know if someone has given up their guns. Also some RO’s are given out with thin evidence so maybe a person is losing their guns for not much. Losing guns, as you well know, might mean no hunting for a year which is a big deal for lots of people especially Alaska Native/Native American people. This is a difficult one to answer but sometimes the answer should be that people lose their guns for an RO.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

          RO/TPO’s are a tough one. From the anecdata I hear, one of the big complaints with RO/TPO’s is that you often permanently lose your guns, even if the order is not sustained, because the police seize them, and make you fight like hell to get them back.

          It’s not every PD, but I hear it enough to know that it concerns people.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


        If I’m understanding you correctly, it seems this would ban FEWER people from being able to possess guns and for a SHORTER period. So leaving aside the morality/ethics/justice of the current system, wouldn’t this only give more people access to guns sooner?Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:


          You say that like it’s a bad thing. ?

          But seriously, it is a right. When people are done paying their debt to society for their misdeeds, we ought to be making them whole citizens again, should we not? Part of a rehabilitative reintegration is trusting them to be reformed.

          Now I dont think we have to be restoring that right immediately to people who have demonstrated violent behavior, some time to make sure they’ve learned self control & are on the straight & narrow is probably prudent, and I think the act of petitioning the court will help drive home that the right is important & perhaps care should be taken to avoid losing it again.

          Finally, I really do think the loss should only be limited to people who have been convicted of violence. Unless you care to make an argument for why a person convicted of felony fishing should lose his gun rights?Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


            I don’t disagree with any of that.

            I oppose the use of the “terrorist watch list”, “no fly list”, or any other means to strip people of rights without due process.

            And I believe that those who have ‘served their time’ should have their rights restored; denying ex-felons the right to vote (hell, denying folks currently in jail the right to vote) bothers me to the core.

            As I said, my question was one that intentionally ignored the ethics of the situation. I ask because many folks cite expanded background checks as a means of helping reduce gun violence. Given what you’ve said here, it seems that background checks are a dead end in terms of reducing gun violence. Now, if by “extending” them, we mean requiring ALL transactions to require a background check, it strikes me that that might help.

            So, yea, I agree with your argument here. But since we do agree, than we can’t say, “Background checks!” are the answer to reducing gun violence. Which is okay. It just means we need to explore other avenues.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

              That depends, is the purpose of the background check to serve as a way to further punishment for the rest of your days, like a sex offender registry, or is it simply a means to verify that you are a full citizen, with all attendant rights & responsibilities?Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oscar Gordon,

                The purpose of limiting the gun rights of those convicted of violent crimes isn’t punition. It’s prophylactic, much the same as limiting those same rights to children or the insane. The violent felon has demonstrated, through their actions, that they’re simply not the kind of person who can be trusted to exercise that right responsibly.

                Now the science is pretty clear that there are two kinds of criminals. The majority are essentially “sowing wild oats” and have a career that peters out in their late twenties or early thirties after the executive center of their brain matures. The remainder are true career criminals. Arguably the former should be eligible for eventual rights restoration, but the latter not. The trick is distinguishing between the two cases.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:


                Yep, and that is why I didn’t suggest an immediate & automatic restoration of rights.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                My sincere belief is that the background checks should be aimed at curbing gun violence by keeping guns out of the “wrong hands”. My question was genuine: which sort of people — what sort of hands — are the kind we want to get caught in the background check net.

                That is why I mentioned drug crimes (including or excluding possession). These aren’t violent crimes… but involvement in the drug trade is probably (maybe?) a good indicator for potential violence. So if we know a guy is a dealer, do we want to curtail his rights? I don’t know. I see arguments both ways.

                And if we do want to attack gun violence via limiting access to guns of those in the drug trade, do we treat grandmas who turn their knitting circles into medical marijuana clubs the same as we do the gangbanger patrolling an inner city project stairwell if all we have on them — legally — is possession with intent to distribute? Common sense says hell no. But how do you craft a law for that? And without further exacerbating systemic racism?

                As Mike said above, the ideal answer is to end the drug trade. But assuming that isn’t currently an option, how do we use background checks to curb gun violence?

                If only a small handful of perpetrators of gun violence have criminal records that would trigger a check, then we aren’t going to get much done there. Which is okay! It just means we need to continue to look elsewhere.

                I’ve heard people offer extended background checks as a panacea. It seems that isn’t the case. That is what I’m trying to get at.

                In summary, stopping everyone with a criminal record from ever having (legal) access to a gun will probably make some dent in gun violence but will curtail the rights of many, many people it shouldn’t.
                A more targeted approach, such as the one advocated by Oscar, will be more respectful of gun rights but likely yield little impact on gun violence.
                As such, it seems background checks alone aren’t the best place to focus our energy.

                Quasi-related: I’d be interested in the folks who think that a non-violent criminal record SHOULDN’T restrict gun rights but SHOULD restrict other rights and/or access to employment. I don’t see anyone here doing that but I have a hunch those people exist and would take strong issue with them.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                Question: How many convicted drug dealers do you figure don’t have a criminal record of violence, or, more to the point, how many would have one if DAs were not incentived to secure drug convictions over other crimes?

                I’m betting that would be a very small number.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                I really have no idea. I would venture to guess that the higher ups are probably smart enough to keep their hands clean with violence. But maybe not? I don’t know.

                Then again, I bet these guys are getting most of their weapons through illegal means anyway.

                So, yea, I’m on board with reforming the background check system as you suggest. But possibly expanding it to include folks convicted of high-level drug crimes (if we aren’t going to just end the drug war). And, again, I’d renew my call for finding the last legal owner of a weapon used in a crime and figuring out how it got from there to the scene of the crime.Report

          • @oscar-gordon

            *hands clapping*

            Agree 100%. I actually know a guy who has a felony for doing something very stupid, but in no way violent. He paid for his crime (probation, lost his license, etc) and is now back to (mostly) being a part of society. At the same time, he is a lifelong hunter and can no longer hunt with guns. He has children and can’t take them squirrel hunting. His aging father is a serious duck hunter and can’t hunt with them. Can’t attend our annual dove hunts. Etc. That’s where the law is pretty dumb IMO.Report

            • Road Scholar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Mike Dwyer,

              Agree totally. That’s why I stipulated violent felonies. Murder, rape, assault, armed robbery, etc. In fact, I’m not even sure why any non-violent crime is even considered a felony in the first place. But then again I’m a bit unclear on the distinction between felonies and misdemeanors anyway.Report

              • @road-scholar

                Understood, and that wasn’t directed at you. I guess I have never understood the logic that says a felon is less likely to commit a violent crime if they can’t legally possess a gun. It seems to me that if they plan to commit another crime, they aren’t too worried about catching a gun charge.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                “It seems to me that if they plan to commit another crime, they aren’t too worried about catching a gun charge.”

                This assumes it is planned. I’m thinking of the guy with a temper and violent streak who jumps out of his car after getting cut off in traffic. I’d much rather he enter that situation with cocked fists than a cocked gun. So if this guy has a history of violence, I’d like to keep a gun out of his hands. It won’t stop him from committing violence, but will likely limit the severity of that violence.Report

              • In fact, I’m not even sure why any non-violent crime is even considered a felony in the first place.

                I peacefully skimmed $10M of my clients’ funds into my own offshore account, moved to St. Kitts, and purchased citizenship. Their extradition treaty with the US requires that the crime be a US felony.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Good example. Now, what is the threshold for felony embezzlement? How much do I have to skim before it’s worth taking my rights away?Report

              • In my state, anything over a thousand dollars.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Seems in need of updating.

                Alternatively, what can’t “fleeing the jurisdiction” be the felony to extradite on?Report

  33. KenB says:

    a way to further punishment for the rest of your days

    To be fair, the sex offender registry isn’t intended as a punishment. It’s more like “We don’t think it’s fair to put you in jail for the rest of your life, but at the same time we don’t trust that you’re no longer a threat, and so we’re going to restrict some of your rights to try to keep you from molesting anyone else.” The same principle could apply to convicted felons and gun ownership. It is rather a small needle to thread for a standard liberal though.Report