Thinking RATIONALLY about Guns and Violence


A gun owner: This terrifying woman is armed, and must be considered dangerous until she proves otherwise.


A rare voice of informed reason and sanity in the debate about guns and public safety is economist John Lott, who has taught on the faculty of the University of Maryland, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and the University of Chicago.


His article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, entitled “The Facts about Assault Weapons and Crime,” is a drink of cool water in a fever swamp.


His website is a treasure trove of clear thinking and actual facts on the subject.



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  • Lucy Mcgee

    Anyone who has experience with an AR-15 is most certainly aware that it can be configured to “bump-fire” using something as simple as a rubber band, or modified with an aftermarket stock which turns this rifle into an automatic weapon. Anyone interested can see this for themselves on YouTube.

    Conversely, a bolt action, internal box magazine (3-5 round capacity), hunting rifle like a Ruger M77 is designed for hunting and target shooting. There is a huge difference in the way these styles of rifles can be used. Our family and friends have hunted big game for decades and have never once seen anyone in the woods using an AR-15. There are, however, groups of people roaming the southern US border in full combat gear and carrying military style rifles, obviously with a different intent.

    • danpeterson

      I’ll let people who actually deal with guns respond to this, if any of them are reading here and care to do so,

    • Cassandra

      On some older model AR-15s it was possible, though not that easy, to do so. Newer models are, I believe, uniformly incapable of being modified to become automatic. So at best this argument is only valid for promoting regulation of resales or possession of older models. I would, however, first want to know if such modifications are already illegal (bet they are). So then you’re back to giving bad guys one more difficult-to-enforce law to ignore.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        Cassandra- Turning a stock AR-15 into a weapon which can fire 100 rounds in about 10 seconds is accomplished by using an add on called a Slide Fire gun stock. This is a legal add-on which uses the recoil of the weapon to cause the trigger to be activated rapidly. While not a true automatic weapon, the ability to fire 100 rounds in under 10 seconds seems like it approaches that capability. See this:

        This is offered so that you folks know what’s out there but not discussed in the national media.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The firearms already in the hands of criminals are in the tens of millions.The only way to destroy any substantial percentage of them would be to violate the Fourth Amendment and enter the homes of suspected criminals without any specific probable cause or warrant. The lives lost in such a program would be great, including the relatively innocent spouses and children of the alleged criminals. Many police would rebel against such unconstitutional tyranny, as would many local and state governments.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      Raymond Takashi Swenson- I absolutely agree with you that removing firearms would be nearly impossible and totally unacceptable. My point was that if Mr. Lott, in his article, were to be totally forthcoming, he would also have pointed out that these weapons can be modified and made to stream bullets at a rate of 10 per second (150 round drum magazines are also available). An armed citizenry should also be an informed citizenry.

  • joe etheridge

    Lucy Mcgee,

    FWIW….my experiences with such modifications, but not the exact one you link to above but based upon a very similar principal is……as you should have noticed in the video this was a controlled demonstration? the rapid fire demos are based upon the operator applying the same muscle memory procedure each time, a memory of muscles that is gained by repetitive usage of the modified rifle, as you have to get you finger in just the right position and hold it there without the movement of the rifle disturbing that position. a “trick” that can be learned by some very quickly, while some never quite get the hang of it….kinda like riding a unicycle for an easier explanation. notice, how each operator is always holding the weapon in the same position while firing??? and they are not demonstrating while walking, or moving about in anyway???

    as you might have noticed, none of the “mass killings” have utilized such modified rifles……and why is that? because committing mass murder & target practice or dumping ammo into a hill of sand with this type modification is not of a similar mindset/mentality?

    the AR-15 framed rifle is a VERY popular target rifle & varmint rifle in this country whether you realize it or not?

    • Lucy Mcgee

      I mostly agree with your comment. My point wasn’t that bump firing this weapon could be done while running an obstacle course, or practical or that it was employed in mass killings. My point was simply to inform that it is possible to alter these firearms so that they can spay a stream of bullets in a few seconds and to note that where I’ve hunted big game (Wyoming and Montana), you don’t see assault type guns being used by the majority. Perhaps the appearance of someone showing up in hunting camp with such a weapon would cause discomfort to others who are more interested in a more traditional game hunting ethic than someone going after big game armed with a combat style weapon and 30 bullet magazine. But that is of course, just my opinion. I’ve never shot at small animals for target practice so I can’t speak to that.

  • joe etheridge

    yes, they can be altered. but what has that got to do being “forthcoming” as to these with the “mass killings”? these type alterations/modifications are not suitable for that sort of intent.

    you won’t see anyone show with a AR-15 framed rifle to hunt with “big game” with a “30 bullet magazine” mostly likely because it is against most if not all US State’s Big Game Laws to allow Big Game to be hunted with a gun that has more than a 5 shot capacity.

  • joe etheridge

    somehow my “with” got in the wrong paragraph?

    should have been included here…….but what has that got to do WITH being “forthcoming”….?

    • Lucy Mcgee

      If you watch the videos of the use of the Slide Fire stock, you’d have to be blind to not see that such firepower could be used to kill humans in a terrible manner. It doesn’t take the skill of a person learning to ride a unicycle; far from it. These things were designed to be easily used (and enjoyed?).

      If you hunt big game in Texas, you can use a 30 bullet magazine, or at least that was the law a decade ago. Things may have finally changed. By the way, how many hunters do you think actually hunt big game with assault type weapons as a percentage?

      • JohnH

        What does hunting have to do with the right to bear arms?

  • joe etheridge

    Lucy Mcgee,

    you are all over the board with your comments? which of your comments are we to believe??????

    1st you stress your Big Game hunting areas as pertaining to…..

    “and to note that where I’ve hunted big game (Wyoming and Montana)”

    then we learn it reaches into Texas as late as a decade before?

    “If you hunt big game in Texas, you can use a 30 bullet magazine, or at least that was the law a decade ago”

    and then……

    you post this……

    “I mostly agree with your comment. My point wasn’t that bump firing this weapon could be done while running an obstacle course, or practical or that it was employed in mass killings.”

    then pretty well contradict yourself with………

    “If you watch the videos of the use of the Slide Fire stock, you’d have to be blind to not see that such firepower could be used to kill humans in a terrible manner. It doesn’t take the skill of a person learning to ride a unicycle; far from it. These things were designed to be easily used (and enjoyed?).”

    if your above statement where true, then all the mass killings where a AR-15 frame was used would have had these modifications implemented…..using your own logic included in the above quote of course….cause you watched the video, right? seeing is believing, eh?

    if watching the video is the extent of your knowledge (which i highly suggest it is) of these type of modifications, then one might assume you have drawers/cabinets full of ShamWows & Slap Chops???

    i might be incorrect here, but my guess is that you are posting on this subject only to fan the flames of this recent Liberal led “Assault Weapon” ban charade?

    btw, what is a “assault weapon” by definition anyway?

    • Lucy Mcgee

      First, I never claimed to have hunted in Texas but had a friend who did years ago. I remember the conversation because I was surprised that a large capacity magazine could be used. Checking the regulations… there are no restrictions on magazine capacity that I could find in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and Idaho. There are probably more. My experience has only been with family and friends who would not be inclined to use an AR-15 while hunting deer or elk (old school). But that wasn’t my main point.

      A Slide Fire stock allows one to spray 100 bullets in about 10 seconds. You can’t do that with a bolt action hunting rifle. If you believe that a person with a modified AR-15 and a 100 round magazine couldn’t inflict massive damage on people then good for you. Lastly, I do understand the definition of “assault weapon” which means “automatic fire”. So an AR-15, fitted with a Slide Fire stock, while not by definition an assault weapon, comes close. Now I’m off to clean the kitchen floor with a ShamWow. Thanks for reminding me.

      • kaph

        The extreme exception should not determine the rule for everyone. I have an AR, some family members have a 100rnd drum magazine for theirs, I have even considered purchasing one of those slidefire stocks for fun — but decided against it, because the stock alone is the price of 1000rnds of ammo, and you’d shoot way too much using it.

        The vast vast vast majority of AR15s and similar rifles are not used to commit crimes. I’ve seen some estimates there are 5-10 million AR15s in circulation. A handful have been used to commit crimes. It’s so small it’s statistically insignificant.

        Blaming the weapon for it’s potential for misuse is understandable, but wrong nevertheless, when you consider how rarely it occurs. And it would occur a lot less frequently if we did not have such a violent culture addicted to shoot em up video games, violent films, from broken families, and medicated with mind altering drugs to boot.

        I’m not calling for any of those things to be illegal, but the problems with our society go much much deeper than the ability to buy a 30rnd magazine.

        BTW, an extraordinary amount of devastation could be inflicted by a psycho with a 12gauge, single barrel shotgun in 20 minutes (how long it took the police to arrive in Sandy hook) or 10 minutes (average response time).

        • Lucy Mcgee

          I hope you understand that I did not write anything about a ban on such weapons, nor have I written that such weapons cause an increase in murders. What I was hoping to point out is that it is possible to modify them into something much more lethal because Mr. Lott didn’t point it out in his article. I’m not blaming weapons for their misuse. I’m not a “Liberal led “Assault Weapon” ban charade” advocate as Mr. Etheridge guesses. I grew up and took part in a culture of gun use.

          In the early 80′s, I was witness to the carnage inflicted upon a large herd of antelope killed by modified single fire guns where 50+ antelope were killed and left to die and rot on the high plains of the Great Divide basin, just south of Atlantic City, Wyoming. The hunting community in Wyoming was angry and perplexed that such weapons could be made to fire automatically. Fortunately, gun laws corrected this problem.

          My final point is that the national discussion should include ALL aspects of gun ownership and personal responsibility which would include slide fire convertible weapons.

          • Mr Responsible

            Unfortunately, Lucy, in this day and age anything from a simple pencil sharpener turned shiv to slide fire stocks, can be modified to be more lethal. Just because it can be more lethal does not mean that its lethality must be a bad thing. If these slide fire stocks become an issue, other than just having fun on the range, then maybe we should discuss the problems they face. I personally don’t care what modifications are made to any “weapon” of sorts, as long as it is done responsibly. I think the slide fire stocks are a great invention which allows for hours of entertainment at the range. Do we need to start talking to people about the dangers of toothbrushes and razor blades, since they are the most lethal way to make a weapon in prisons? The tools that are used are not the problem. Its the idiots who use them for evil that’s the problem.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Your logic is impeccable. A pencil sharpener creates a prison or public weapon as dangerous as an AR-15 fitted with a slide fire stock fitted with a 150 round magazine. We are only spraying bullets at targets on the gun range explain the advocates of such technology.

    My initial point was that all information should be made available within our national media. Let us have classes and discussion on slide fire capable weapons. Let us imagine how they could be used on an unsuspecting public. It hasn’t happened yet, and good. Mr. Lott, in all his wisdom, should not fail to point out such technology and then defend it.

    By the way, every pencil has an eraser. Can’t we just simply erase our trillion dollar national debt? Same logic?