Regarding guns

“Well, I like the American culture, such as it is, but let’s get rid of the f–king guns.”
— Kurt Vonnegut

Ezra Klein: “Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States”

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.

Joshua Holland: “Yes, we can have sane gun control”

Given the rather significant divide between the NRA’s positions and the views held by most of its members, there appears to be ample political space to the organization’s “left” to advocate reasonable gun controls on behalf of American gun owners – people who cherish the basic right to bear arms but also recognize that allowing drunken bar patrons to carry concealed weapons is just stupid.

Such an effort could go a long way toward convincing reasonable gun owners who have been deceived by the NRA’s brazen lies into believing that someone’s out to get their guns, and that’s really the only way that we’ll ever be able to have a serious discussion about safe and responsible gun ownership.

David Frum: “Every Day is the Day to Talk About Gun Control”

I’ll accept no lectures about “sensitivity” on days of tragedy like today from people who work the other 364 days of the year against any attempt to prevent such tragedies.

It’s bad enough to have a gun lobby. It’s the last straw when that lobby also sets up itself as the civility police. It may not be politically possible to do anything about the prevalence of weapons of mass murder. But it damn well ought to be possible to complain about them – and about the people who condone them.

Adam Gopnik: “Newtown and the Madness of Guns”

After the Aurora killings, I did a few debates with advocates for the child-killing lobby — sorry, the gun lobby — and, without exception and with a mad vehemence, they told the same old lies: it doesn’t happen here more often than elsewhere (yes, it does); more people are protected by guns than killed by them (no, they aren’t — that’s a flat-out fabrication); guns don’t kill people, people do; and all the other perverted lies that people who can only be called knowing accessories to murder continue to repeat, people who are in their own way every bit as twisted and crazy as the killers whom they defend. (That they are often the same people who pretend outrage at the loss of a single embryo only makes the craziness still crazier.)

So let’s state the plain facts one more time, so that they can’t be mistaken: Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.

The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children.

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  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children.

    Yes. And none of them can claim the title “pro-life” with any integrity.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     And yet today I have seen like a thousand fucking people smugly declare how they can’t understand why a liberal would be upset about a school shooting, since we’re okay with abortion.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You’re kidding. God, what a horrible culture war.

  • Random_Lurker

    It’s those damn Satanazi’s again.  Everything is their fault…

    too bad they don’t exist.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, because ripping a loved, wanted, and known-for-several-years child away from zir parents is exactly the same thing as making sure someone can carry on zir life without the burdens to zir physical, mental, and financial health that every child entails, which are triply burdensome when the child is unwanted and unloved.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Ask them how they can claim to be so upset about school shootings when they support candidates who prefer to let people die for lack of healthcare, and let them starve, and let them go without work to continue lining the pockets of the rich, and purposely work to sabotage their education…

  • P J Evans

     They also believe that liberals are all about taking away guns, since none of us can stand them.

  • Dan

    As a liberal gun owner, I can only shrug at these comments from gun grabbers. I understand their emotions since I am a bleeding heart too, and yet I still carry a gun because I think with my brain and not my heart.

  • stardreamer42

     Liberal or not, by referring to anyone who advocates sane gun laws as a “gun grabber” who “doesn’t think with their brain,” you are part of the problem.

  • Dan

     The same way we demonize pro-lifers by calling them anti-choicers? Gun grabbers is apt for their advocacy.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The same way we demonize pro-lifers by calling them anti-choicers? Gun grabbers is apt for their advocacy.

    If people who identify pro-life actually were, they would be vehemently in favor of measures that let someone who is unexpectedly pregnant keep the baby without falling into poverty. They are not. They would be vehemently in favor of measures that let someone capable of becoming pregnant and desirous of penis-in-vagina sex but not of pregnancy enjoy that sex without risk of pregnancy. They are not. They would be vehemently in favor of abortion in all cases where the pregnant person’s life or health is at risk and that person prefers to end the pregnancy. Some of them are. Most of them are not. (Ireland. Savita.)

    ‘Pro-life’ is not an accurate label for these people. These people’s actual policy positions make clear that their main concern when it comes to reproductive and sexual freedom is not to let anyone have any, which, concerning the specific issue of abortion, means attempting to deny all pregnant people the ability to choose whether to continue or end the pregnancy. Hence, ‘anti-choice’.

    ‘Gun-grabbers’ is about as apt as ‘pro-life’.

  • Gorgias

    I think both “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are misnomers; technically, everyone’s pro-life and pro-choice.  It’s just a matter of how one defines life and how one defines what socially acceptable choice is.

    Personally, I would prefer to use the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” to refer to the two sides in conversation because it’s verbally succinct.  “Anti-abortion” is such a mouthful, and calling someone “anti-choice,” despite the fact that I think it’s true, probably isn’t going to make them more likely to listen to you.  Similarly, if someone called me “anti-life” because I want to keep abortion legal, I’d probably lose any interest in taking them seriously.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    If people who identify pro-life actually were, they would be vehemently in favor of measures that let someone who is unexpectedly pregnant keep the baby without falling into poverty. They Many are not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Right, sorry.

  • stardreamer42

    Ah, the false-equivalency gambit. We call them “anti-choice” because that’s exactly what they’re about — removing a woman’s right to control her own body. Talking about sane gun regulation is NOT the same thing as wanting to take all your guns away forever, no matter what lies the NRA has told you.

  • Lori

     

      The same way we demonize pro-lifers by calling them anti-choicers? Gun grabbers is apt for their advocacy.   

    Your logic skills need some serious work. I hope to FSM that your gun skills are better because if they’re not you’re a danger to yourself and others.

  • The_L1985

    I don’t advocate any laws that take away guns from people who legally own them. That would be blatantly unconstitutional. I only advocate laws that make it harder for me tally unbalanced people, and people with a criminal record, to buy guns, and laws against buying or modifying assuault rifles by civilians. (And as a gun owner, you know as well as I do that modifying a semi-auto to full automatic, as current law forbids, is both difficult and expensive, and requires gunsmithing equipment that most law-abiding citizens don’t have.) Please explain to me how this is “gun-grabbing.”

  • Gorgias

    I understand your frustration, let me try to articulate my thoughts a bit more fairly than Dan.  As a gun owner, I fully understand the need for responsible gun laws.  More could be done, for instance, to run instant background checks online to determine whether the person in question does have a history of mental illness.  (You’d think that’s a given, but apparently not always.)  Waiting periods are more of a mixed bag; it might prevent crimes of passion, but premeditated mass killings probably wouldn’t be impacted by such measures.  Honestly, a lot of our society’s problems with guns is the fact that we let people buy guns, but do little to educate them about the proper storage of guns and the hazards of leaving them in a place where unstable individuals could have ready access to them.

    I’m perfectly willing to enter a dialogue about gun laws.  But I tend to distrust people who call for gun control when they’re on record as being anti-gun in general.  It’s the same reason I wouldn’t trust someone who calls for heavier regulations on clinics that perform abortions when, in other circumstances, they’re on the record claiming they want abortion banned entirely; it’s just a ploy to make it harder and harder to have abortions.  Similarly it’s hard to tell apart the people who genuinely merely want to reform dysfunctional gun control laws from the people who see it as the next step to banning guns entirely.

  • Daughter

     So who are these people who want to ban guns altogether? I’m not talking about random Internet commenters, or pacifist groups. I’m talking about people of influence in politics or the media – the people who would be involved in such dialogues and crafting gun control laws. Can you name anyone in such a position outside of perhaps Dennis Kucinich (who is no longer in office) who has advocated banning all guns?

  • Gorgias

    That’s just it.  It’s hard to tell when you’re dealing with people of influence in the government and media; they know that the NRA and every redneck in the country will pitch a fit if they out-and-out promoted a full gun ban.  When I talk about people who are anti-gun, I’m talking about people I personally know; my mother, for instance, is extremely anti-gun (and very conservative politically, oddly enough).  And I have friends who, while they are socially as liberal as I am, seem to base their thoughts on gun control laws on their personal phobia of guns rather than on a reasoned response to the issue.  My fear is that the people of influence are using talk of gun control as a front for ultimately making guns, if not out-and-out illegal, at least practically illegal through the amount of red tape it takes to obtain and possess a gun.

    And I know that it’s an unreasonable response.  I’ve seen to many shootings to naively claim that there are no problems with the way things stand, and I also want something done about it.  But what else am I to think when laws are passed that make life more difficult for us legal gun owners, while criminals simply go on the black market and bypass the law altogether?  And is our government in a place fiscally where it can enforce gun laws?  We’re already involved in a disastrous war on drugs that causes more problems than it solves.  (Then again, if drugs were decriminalized, it might free up resources to deal with gun-runners and the black market surrounding guns, but that’s another issue.)  Point is, I just don’t want us to blithely pass laws that not only fail to change things, but cost us extra time and money as well.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And is our government in a place fiscally where it can enforce gun laws? We’re already involved in a disastrous war on drugs that causes more problems than it solves.

    Why is ‘transfer resources from apprehending and prosecuting drug offenders to apprehending and prosecuting gun offenders’ not an option?

  • Gorgias

     I never said it wasn’t an option.  I think the drug war is a financially ruinous waste of time, and maybe if we legalized drugs (reasonably so, of course, similar to alcohol laws, with lighter or heavier restrictions based on the substances themselves), then we could more feasibly pursue those who violate gun laws.  Hell, we’d probably see a lot less gun violence when the legalization of drugs caused the drug-dealing culture to collapse.

    This is what I mean about understanding people.  I’m not trying to pick a fight with you.  Honestly, the fact that you apparently read Fred’s blog shows that you and I probably have a number of similar opinions on issues.  You want to pursue drug reform as part of a general social reform that also includes more effective gun laws?  Sounds like we’re on the same page.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hell, we’d probably see a lot less gun violence when the legalization of drugs caused the drug-dealing culture to collapse.

    Have fun with that. Organized crime sprang up in response to Prohibition, but doing away with Prohibition didn’t do away with organized crime. I don’t see how changing the no-longer-forbidden substance from alcohol to other drugs will change that.

    I’m not trying to fight with you either. Sorry if I come off that way. I should probably just concede that I am not actually writing any story tonight and go the fuck to bed already in hopes of being less grumpy and more creative in the morning-or-preferably-afternoon.

  • Gorgias

    Yeah, I understand.  I probably need to lay off as well.  Glad we could come to to a better understanding.  Would that people of public influence would do likewise.

  • arcseconds

     Surely the answer to the ‘can the government fiscally afford to enforce gun laws?’ question is obvious.

    Fund it through a tax on guns and ammunition.

    It seems quite reasonable to me to expect an industry to pay for the social costs incurred by the existence of that industry.  You can pry my alchohol from my cold, dead hands, but I’m quite happy to pay tax on that alcohol to fund alcohol treatment programmes, policing of liquor laws, etc, even though I might not benefit from those things directly myself.

    Of course, if the tax is too high it’ll help illegal sales, but it should be possible to do this in a way that achieves the aims.

    I agree with you about the drugs thing, by the way, or at least, I agree there’s a strong argument to decriminalize.   There’s an organisation of law enforcement officers (LEAP) who think so, too.  It’s  psychologically difficult for most people to every day dedicate their lives to pursuing policies they think are a waste of time,  so the existence of this organisation itself should prompt us to at least listen to their arguments.

    The fellow I heard suggested the same thing about drugs: tax them enough to fund treatment programmes, etc.

    http://www.leap.cc/about/who-we-are/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think if we’re at the level where anyone can seriously argue protecting kids from being shot at an elementary school is beyond our financial resources (as the richest country on Earth!) then maybe we might as well just pack it in and admit that we deserve these things. Why not make cuts elsewhere if the financial situation is that dire? I’m sure we can pare back some of our military spending and do something to rein in healthcare spending. 

    We could even borrow some ideas from Canada or Western European countries. It’s not a perfect fit since every country is different, but I don’t buy this idea that America is somehow uniquely incapable of addressing any social or economic issue. 

  • arcseconds

     

    I don’t buy this idea that America is somehow uniquely incapable of addressing any social or economic issue.

    American exceptionalism — in reverse gear!

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (shrug) It cuts both ways, though. Maybe you don’t trust me, because you fear I’m too gun-phobic to be reasonable and will end up supporting bad law. Maybe I don’t trust you, because I fear you’re just concern trolling in an attempt to subvert reasonable gun regulation.

    So, OK, we don’t trust each other. Taking that as a given, can we nevertheless come to agreement about what level of gun regulation is something we would want to see?

    I mean, obviously we can’t if either of our fears are correct. If I’m really an irrational gun-phobe, then I won’t agree to a reasonable position. If you’re really a concern troll, you won’t agree to a reasonable position. But even supposing hypothetically that we’re both people of good will capable of reason, our mutual distrust of one another’s status might still make it impossible for us to agree. One or both of us might reject the other’s proposals in a knee-jerk fashion simply because of that distrust.

    One place we could start, for example: would you suggest that the amount of “red tape” required to obtain and possess a gun should be more or less than the amount of “red tape” required to operate a motor vehicle?

  • arcseconds

    I’m assuming you realise what you’re saying here.

    The pro-gun people hold all the cards politically.  You guys have won.

    Yet you’re still paranoid about crypto-gun-banners, and you’re taking the fact you’ve won as evidence that they could exist in positions of power.

    The ones you know personally (I’m guessing) have no political power, and even if they did, they wouldn’t have any power to do anything for their anti-gun attitudes, and they’re in a small minority.

    But somehow, they’re still so scary that you’re demanding anyone making a pro-gun-contol argument prove that they’re not one of them.  

    (What kind of proof would be acceptable to the gun lobby, do you think?)

    I can’t see how meaningful dialogue can take place with people who have their views prevailing politically, yet respond with such paranoia and suspicion to the slightest talk of the smallest compromise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.mcirvin Matt McIrvin

    “The pro-gun people hold all the cards politically.  You guys have won.
    Yet you’re still paranoid about crypto-gun-banners[…]”

    Looking at the longer game, this may be a reasonable worry for them. They’ve won, in the sense that gun control has been politically radioactive for years. But the fraction of Americans who actually own guns has been decreasing for decades; most Americans do not have direct experience with them, and gun manufacturers are getting their sales from existing gun owners buying more guns.

    At some point, just the demographics of the situation will cause political attitudes to change. If not now, then someday.

  • arcseconds

     All the more reason to engage in constructive dialogue now, while they hold the aces.  

    Shutting down any attempt at questioning the status quo with hysteria is an effective (if deplorable) tactic if you can be sure of staying in power, but it’s not likely to generate any goodwill, sympathy or understanding of your position with others, and it legitimizes the use of those tactics by all.

    What you want to do instead is to use your current power to make yourself to seem as reasonable and as sympathetic as possible, and engaging in dialogue with those that aren’t in power now but still will be is a good way to do that.  It also normalizes that behaviour, which is more useful behaviour for you when you’re not in power.

    Also, if you think that a regulatory framework is likely to be inevitable, then perhaps you should implement one now, while you’re still in power.  That way you should be able to get acceptable levels of freedom for yourself, while giving enough to the others so that they don’t feel too inclined to change things while they’re in power. 

    If they inherit a situation which is mostly OK, they might well take an ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach, but if it’s the current mess, they might be inclined to fix it in a way you don’t like.

  • Lori

     

    At some point, just the demographics of the situation will cause political attitudes to change. If not now, then someday.  

    It’s incredibly depressing how many things seem to lead back to “Well, eventually they’ll die off and if the rest of us can just manage to outlast them maybe we can get a decent country.”

  • The_L1985

    Ok. You’ve clearly demonstrated an ability to post YouTube links. Mazel tov. Now cut it out.

  • Lori

    But what else am I to think when laws are passed that make life more
    difficult for us legal gun owners, while criminals simply go on the
    black market and bypass the law altogether?   

    One thing you might want to think about is how those guns get onto the black market. This will likely change as 3D printing technology evolves (FSM help us all), but at this point the vast majority of guns on the black market are not manufactured for the black market. So, how do they get there? It’s not magic. Somewhere in the chain of ‘responsible” gun manufacturers, sellers and buyers/owners guns move from the legal market to the illicit market. You know, those responsible people. The one’s we’re never supposed to question and who can’t be fairly regulated in any meaningful way without bringing on the dawn of a dark, freedomless age.  Those people.

    I have said several times and I continue to say, I am not categorically opposed to guns or gun ownership. Something has to change though and I’m totally out of patience with this notion that there’s nothing we can do about the situation because everyone who wants to do something about it is a brainless, bleeding heart looking to Take All The Guns. That shit is really starting to trigger my slap reflex.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Supposing for a minute that there actually are people who want to take all the guns away.

    Why does that make them untrustworthy on the subject of whether fewer guns would reduce gun violence?

    Your abortion parallel is inaccurate, by the way. People who try to ban abortion are uninterested in reducing abortion; we know this because they overwhelmingly oppose measures to reduce unwanted pregnancy and to reduce the pregnancy-and-childraising-related strains on physical, mental, and financial health that lead to abortion and/or that people have abortions in order to avoid. People who try to instate gun control laws are actually trying to reduce gun violence, though if you have evidence to present that the point of reducing gun access is to increase gun violence, the way not having over-the-counter contraceptive pills or antipoverty programs targeted at pregnant people and parents increases abortion, you go right ahead and present it.

  • Gorgias

    Point taken, I can see how the analogy is imperfect.  Though I will point out that the anti-abortion lobby’s opposition to birth control is perfectly consistent when you realize that their goal isn’t preventing abortions from happening, but from trying to control other people’s sex lives.

    Let me clarify; I’m using the analgoy to  explain why gun-owners bristle when gun control is brought up.  I recognize that it’s a largely a reactionary response, but it’s one that will continue to occur until we can rest assured that the issue is being approached with an eye for reform rather than part of a plan to criminalize.

    And yes, I have indeed encountered people who touted gun reform when, when I probed further, were actually anti-gun in general.   And while it doesn’t take away from the validity of their opinion, I’d prefer they’d be up front about it so a more effective compromise can be reached.  The paranoia about “gun-grabbers” is largely because it’s hard to pick out the reformists from the people who just want guns to go away.  Show me that your approach is based on logic and sanity, and I’ll be right along with you.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I tend to distrust people who call for gun control when they’re on record as being anti-gun in general.

    That’s your right.

    I suppose ultimately the question is going to be whether we collectively prefer to work with people we don’t trust, whose goals may not perfectly align with ours, in order to improve the system, or whether we collectively prefer to keep the system as it is.

    Thus far, when it comes to encouraging responsible gun ownership and discouraging irresponsible gun ownership, we seem to prefer to keep the system as it is.

  • stardreamer42

     We seem to be mostly in agreement. I do have one question, though — how do you know whether or not I’m “on record as being anti-gun in general”?

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

     “Honestly, a lot of our society’s problems with guns is the fact that we
    let people buy guns, but do little to educate them about the proper
    storage of guns and the hazards of leaving them in a place where
    unstable individuals could have ready access to them.”

    We don’t even educate people on the four basic gun safety laws*. Look at the cover of any book with a character holding a gun (or a movie poster). How often do you see the character with their finger on the trigger, no matter in what direction the gun is pointed? I swear it’s 9 times out of 10. No one knows anything about them, how to safely handle them, or what they’re capable/not capable of.

    *For those who don’t know these–which everyone should, even if they never think they’ll be around guns. That way, if you do end up around someone who’s holding a gun, you’ll know if they’re being safe with it.

    #1: The Gun Is Always Loaded!

    #2: Never Point The Gun At Something You Are Not
    Prepared To Destroy!

    #3: Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!

    #4: Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are
    On The Target!http://www.reloadammo.com/gun-law.htm

  • hidden_urchin

    This. 

    I have a friend whose mother just died.  When said friend was going through her mother’s possessions she found four loaded handguns hidden around the house.  One was under a blanket on a chair.  Her mother didn’t know a damn thing about guns but was so afraid of criminals breaking into her home or the like that she kept them anyway. 

    Here’s the best part.  There’s still one unaccounted for.  Her mother claimed to keep a gun in her car but my friend can’t find it.  It isn’t anywhere else that my friend knows of. 

    In short, somewhere there is very likely an unsecure, loaded gun because we allow people who have no training on gun safety to own them.

    Perfect.

  • Lunch Meat

    Huh?

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s a word for word of what he put on the NALT thread.

  • AnonymousSam

    Just a troll. Ignore it. It’s been posting garbage all over.

  • Lunch Meat

    Ah, good to know. (I haven’t had time lately to keep up with every thread.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    That bit on homosexuals we got from Mr. Smith reminds me of THE DOSADI EXPERIMENT by Frank Herbert, which sort of tainted him in my eyes the way Orson Scott Card’s editorials did.

  • Madhabmatics

     whoah, was there homophobia in the Dosadi Experiment? I haven’t read that since I was a little kid, spoil it for me please

    (The thing that made me go :gonk: about herbert was how many times “HEY GUYS, GUYS, I TURNED THIS WOMAN INTO AN UNTHINKING WOMB” comes up as a plot point in his books)

  • The_L1985

    Aww, and I wanted an idiotic neoNazi punching bag. They make such a satisfying whooshing sound when they realize nobody takes Nazis seriously anymore.

  • The_L1985

    …What?

    I am of the opinion that Du sprecht kein Deutsche, and you don’t speak English either.

  • The_L1985

    Aww, how cute. The nithing thinks he can impress me with gutter Spanish.

  • The_L1985

    Sorry. I don’t speak Idiot-Who-Thinks-Mastery-Of-Many-Languages-is-Impressive-on-the-INTERNET.

  • The_L1985

    First of all, I don’t have a penis to erect. Secondly, I’m not the one who fails to realize that any idiot can put things into Babelfish without even having to speak the languages in question. That doesn’t make you an omniglot, just someone who knows where the Copy and Paste buttons are.

    Thirdly, you have yet to say anything that implies you are worth me putting any thought into my responses. All you’ve posted are discredited Nazi swill and sophomoric insults. You. Do. Not. Scare. Me.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Your brain is the much larger organ higher up.

  • Daughter

    Before I write this, I want to say that this is very personal. A friend of mine lives in Newtown, CT, and her son was a student at the school. He survived the shootings – her godson did not.

    I’ve always lived in urban communities. I’ve always worked for nonprofits that serve low-income communities, including the homeless and youth involved in the criminal justice system.  I’ve been mugged once in my life -in the early evening in a supposedly “good” neighborhood. I twice had teens pull knives on me. Both times, I responded, “You know you can’t do that. Hand me the knife” – and both times, they did, and ran off.

    My 6’7″ husband worked as a Rent-a-Center repo man in his youth, and was stabbed and shot (two different occasions) at while working. I wouldn’t be surprised if the perpetrators had no prior criminal record before fighting to defend their “stuff.” In any case, he called the police, and his attackers ended up in prison.

    I preface all this to say, I don’t own a gun. I don’t want to own a gun. But I don’t know what the answers are.

    more people are protected by guns than killed by them (no, they aren’t — that’s a flat-out fabrication);

    I want to know more about this. On the last thread, caryjamesbond talked about all these documented cases of people foiling crimes because they had guns. A commenter to the linked article cited this research: http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

    Well, I have many more questions. Several of the incidents of someone stopping a killer cited by commenters (such as the security guard who took out a spree killer at a church that I mentioned on the last thread) involved people trained in the military or law enforcement. OTOH, Tim Wise cites a few cases in which stopping-the-perpetrator turned fatal for the heroic citizen with a gun: http://www.timwise.org/2012/12/of-heroes-and-hype-mass-murder-and-the-absurdity-of-the-more-guns-crowd/

    I also have questions about some of the research. For example the 1982 study in which a third of prisoners talk about having been shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim, and two-thirds knowing another criminal who had. Were those armed victims ordinary, law-abiding citizens going about their business until they encountered these felons? Or were they other people involved in criminal activity? I very strongly suspect the latter, partly from my experience of working with kids involved in gangs.

    And the millions of people who claim they’ve foiled a robbery or other crime by having a gun – what were the circumstances? Were they facing actual robberies or muggings? Or were they theorizing that, for instance, their home wasn’t broken into while their neighbor’s was because they had a gun on the premise?

    IOW, is Ross right, and that if so many people were foiling killers, it would be on the news, or is cary right, and it’s so common it never makes  the news?

  • Dan

    The thing with defensive gun use (DGU) is that the majority of foiled crimes are prevented just by brandishing the weapon. I wouldn’t be surprised if less than 1/10 of 1% of DGUs actually involved firing the weapon. Sadly, most brandishing DGUs are not reported to the authorities and even less are picked up by the media (too boring), while they are fixated in reporting the 0.1%.

    For me, I would hope I’d never even have to brandish my weapon. But I do hope that if the situation arises, that brandishing is enough to scare away the criminal. I may own a gun, but I am not looking forward to ever using it against another person. Deterrence is good enough for me and my family.

  • Daughter

     OK, describe these situations in which someone just brandishes a weapon. Are they home invasions? Attempted muggings? Attempted carjackings?

    I shared my background, because I just don’t see how that happens. I stopped two kids with knives just by asking them to hand them over. I figured (accurately) that they were scared and trying to pretend to be tough, and when I gave them an out, they took it.

    With my mugger, we were walking toward each other from opposite directions. Right after he passed me, he grabbed me from behind. Unless I had some sixth sense (which I suppose some people have), I had no idea he would do that, and no chance to react and brandish a weapon even if I’d had one.

    The person who stabbed my husband did so with a machete, and they ran at him wielding it. He lifted his arm to block the attack and the machete sliced his arm.  Would a gun have stopped someone that crazy? Maybe if he was fast enough on the draw (which isn’t necessarily the case for everyone with a gun). And he would probably have had to kill the culprit, rather than just send them to jail. I think he’d rather have a person in jail than a person dead on  his conscience. When my husband was shot at, it was by another person in the home, not
    the one who answered the door, and he didn’t even see the person until
    he heard the click. Again, no way to avoid that other than run, which he did. (He quit his job after that).

  • Dan

    I can’t describe them all (over 1.5 million DGU according to the DoJ, see my response to Ross). But I suspect that it’s usually attempted muggings or robberies where the victim was able to brandish a weapon as the criminal was about to accost him/her. For home invasions, I think the difference between brandishing vs shooting the weapon is not too far apart.

    There is very few actually shooting incidents involving a DGU. Heck, we should probably arm all of the citizens with guns but only allow 1% to have bullets. So that any criminal would be playing Russian roulette with his victims. :p

  • Daughter

     Again, as a mugging victim, I’m skeptical. A mugger is  more likely to grab the purse and run before the person knows what’s happening, or grab them as they did in my case in such a way that the person can’t get to a weapon if they have one.

  • Daughter

    A home invasion, maybe. The person is more likely to have time between realizing a crime is going on (hearing the criminal in the house, for example), and being able to access their gun.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I do find myself wondering if there is any measurable difference between homes successfully saved from invasion by the owner brandishing a gun, and homes saved from invasion by an unarmed owner shouting “I’ve got a gun.”

  • Baby_Raptor

    How would a robber know just from scoping out a certain house if the people living inside owned a gun? Yes, there are some people who would advertise it, but probably not enough to make a noticable dent in the figures. 

  • Ross Thompson

    And the millions of people who claim they’ve foiled a robbery or other crime by having a gun – what were the circumstances? Were they facing actual robberies or muggings? Or were they theorizing that, for instance, their home wasn’t broken into while their neighbor’s was because they had a gun on the premise?

    According to the only serious study to have been done on the topic, having a gun in your home makes you 2.7 times more likely to be murdered than not having a gun.

    It doesn’t really matter how many crimes were foiled by gun ownership, unless you compare that number to the number of crimed facilitated by it, and it turns out that second number is far higher, no matter how you slice it.

  • Dan

     I wouldn’t call that a “serious study” let alone the only one. Rather than quote this or that “expert” (or whatever ideological authority you subscribe to), I’d rather just use the statistics by the Department of Justice: http://www.nij.gov/pubs-sum/165476.htm

    “Applying those restrictions leaves 19 NSPOF
    respondents (0.8 percent of the sample),
    representing 1.5 million defensive users. This
    estimate is directly comparable to the well-known
    estimate of Kleck and Gertz, shown in the last
    column of exhibit 7.”
    “If the DGU numbers are in the right ballpark, millions of attempted
    assaults, thefts, and break-ins were foiled by
    armed citizens during the 12-month period.
    According to these results, guns are used far more
    often to defend against crime than to perpetrate
    crime. (Firearms were used by perpetrators in 1.07
    million incidents of violent crime in 1994,
    according to NCVS data.)” Uhm, care to revise your statistics Ross?

  • Daughter

     The very same article you cite questions those results:

    For example, in only a small fraction of rape and robbery attempts do victims use guns in
    self-defense. It does not make sense, then, that the NSPOF estimate of the number of rapes in which
    a woman defended herself with a gun was more than the total number of rapes estimated from NCVS
    (exhibit 8). For other crimes listed in exhibit 8, the results are almost as absurd: the NSPOF
    estimate of DGU robberies is 36 percent of all NCVS-estimated robberies, while the NSPOF estimate
    of DGU assaults is 19 percent of all aggravated assaults. If those percentages were close to
    accurate, crime would be a risky business indeed!

    NSPOF estimates also suggest that 130,000 criminals are wounded or killed by civilian gun defenders.
    That number also appears completely out of line with other, more reliable statistics on the number
    of gunshot cases.[14]

  • Dan

    Question, yes. But even if accounting for the discrepancies, it would not seriously lower the 1.5 million statistic. And they authors were unsure if the 1.5 million (which is their result) is more or less reliable than the other studies. They’re just being cautious like any serious scholar. Unlike Kellerman which Ross quoted, which reads as too certain and triumphalist.

    It’s up to you if the 108,000 (lowest estimate) or 2.5 million (highest estimate) crimes prevented by guns is outweighed by the 10,000 annual murders/suicides using guns. You know which side of the fence I sit on.

  • arcseconds

    Dan, they don’t just ‘question’ it.  That whole section of the paper is highly sceptical of what those numbers mean.

    Here are some more highlights, beyond the mismatch of DUGs and other data, mentioned by  Daughter:

    *) the studies indicate only a small fraction (between 0.05 % and 1%) of adults have ever used guns defensively. 
    **)  They point out that we could expect a low ‘real’ rate of incidents would result in false positives tending to dominate the evidence.
    **) they discuss reasons for people to give false positives

    *) they point out that a DGu does not mean that the DGUer is innocent themselves.  How many of the real incidents underlying this data were altercations that both parties contributed to, or even were instigated by the DGUer?

    So, the study authors don’t end up drawing the conclusions you seemed to be inclined to draw from this article.  They really conclude very little from this section.   Perhaps they’re bleeding liberals who think with their hearts, rather than their brains, too? 

    Whatever the reason, you’re being pretty disigenuous to quote this study as though it wholeheartedly supports your  case, and then backing down to them being ‘cautious’, when actually ‘highly sceptical’ would be a better description.

    Also,  the numbers in the article are based on a very small number of respondents, just 19 in the case of the attempt to restrict to  ‘genuine’ DGUs, or about a thousanth of the survey study.  I find it quite easy to believe that 1 person in a thousand would be inclined, for whatever reason, to completely misrepresent their involvement in a DGU.

    (In fact, I’d expect a certain percentage to lie completely about this on the basis that the data might be used by ‘gun grabbers’, and they wouldn’t want that.)

    Anyway, what are you doing comparing the number prevented with the number of deaths caused?   I don’t think these simplistic comparisons tell us much, but if you’re going to compare them at all, it should be either the number of prevented deaths by DGU (which we can’t know, it seems to me, but should be a lot less than the total number of crimes prevented) with the number of deaths involving guns, or alternatively the number of crimes prevented with the number of crimes involving. 

    I can’t seem to find a number of crimes involving guns, but there apparently were 52,000 non-fatal deliberate gunshot injuries in 2000 [*].  The number of crimes involving threatening with a firearm should be a lot higher than that.


    [*]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I tried looking it up, and the numbers I found were such a range as to be useless — from a low figure of 3 to a high of 2.5 million. 

    …After reading Dan’s post below, I’ll bet counting/not counting brandishing helps screw up these number totals too.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Well, one of the people yelling at me on twitter tonight claims that scholars have proven that guns save literally twice as many people as they kill in the US each year.

    I’m not sure how exactly anyone would prove this, and also, I think if guns save more people thanthey kill that would, technically, count as the guns having utterly failed, killing kinda being the raison d’etre of a gun.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing.

    I’m a little surprised to see that quoted on this blog; considering Fred’s previous dismay over the actual state we’ve let our infrastructure get into, I wouldn’t expect him to agree with this kind of certainty.

  • arcseconds

    I hate to disagree with Ezra Klein here, but there are actually dozens of people dying every day on the roads, albeit not so much from collapsing bridges.

    Between 30,000 and 40,000 people in the USA every year due to motor vehicle accidents[*].

    In 2010,  31,500 people died of gun related deaths in the USA, so that is comparable.  However, only 11,000 were homocides (19,000 were suicides). [†]

    So, leaving aside the suicides, motor vehicles kill 3× as many people as guns, and 10× as many as the worst terrorist attack in the USA ever every year, yet there’s no outcry about this.

    At least some of those road deaths are due to poor infrastructure, too.  Fred had a link to an interesting blog about this once, but I can’t quite find it right now.

    People react according to the romance of the manner of death, it seems to me, not the raw numbers.  Lots of people dying all at once increases the romance (it also increases the impact on a single community).

    However, there is also the question as to where you can expect improvement, and we probably do have to accept that the road fatalities will never be 0.   The USA’s gun homocide rate is about 3 per 100,000, the motor vehicle death rate is around 10.  By comparison, Canada’s are 0.76 and 9, respectively,  and the UK is  0.03 and 3.6.

    Britons probably don’t drive as much as USAians and Canadians, of course. 

     

    [*] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year
    [†] http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html

  • Daughter

    Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog post on this topic has a number of interesting points made by commenters. Among them:

    – In a situation in which ordinary citizens are armed and shooting back, how can you be sure that people will clearly distinguish the shooter vs. the defenders? (the armed citizen who almost shot the man who tackled Jared Loughner is instructive here).

    – There have been cases in which an African-American off-duty police officer was killed when he/she was attempting to defend someone with a gun, yet was mistaken for a perpetrator by the police.

    – How much more risky will DWB (“driving while black/brown”) traffic stops be for people of color if those stopped also have weapons on them?

    – Even if we accept “militia” in the 2nd amendment as the equivalent of “ordinary citizen” today, “well-regulated” is still clearly in the wording. Can anyone say that guns in this country are well-regulated today?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/a-world-of-maximum-guns/266320/

  • Carstonio

    I admit that I am uncomfortable around guns, but that’s really a fear of people rather than the weapons themselves. I favor tough regulation of gun purchases instead of outright bans. In some areas, one has to go through more red tape to adopt a dog or cat. 

    But most of my opinions about gun control involve disgust at the NRA’s pandering to racism and xenophobia. “Guns in the hands of criminals” is a fallacy on many levels. The shooters in massacres like this aren’t thieves or gang members. Deaths from handguns tend to involve arguments between friends or relatives. Concealed carry laws assume that muggings are commonplace, ignoring not only shootings from domestic disputes but also from drug deals gone bad, and again the mentality sees criminals by skin color.

  • P J Evans

     I think I’ve heard of more people being killed accidentally by a family member who had a gun to hand, than of burglars being killed by a homeowner.

  • EllieMurasaki

    tw: suicide

    Or thinking the gun was a toy when its owner left it out or its cabinet unlocked, then shooting their small self or equally small sibling or friend. Or successfully suiciding when an attempt using any other method would have had a rather lower chance of success.

  • Lori

     

    Or thinking the gun was a toy when its owner left it out or its cabinet
    unlocked, then shooting their small self or equally small sibling or
    friend.  

    Or knowing that it’s not a toy and pulling it out to show it off to a friend because a gun is just so cool, and shooting the friend to death by accident.

    The dead kid was the 14 year old son of our backyard neighbors while I was in college. The owners of the gun swore up and down that they had taught their son proper gun safety and that he knew better than to play with it and that the gun had been  stored properly. I have no reason to think they were lying about that, but they were tragically mistaken. I have no idea where that boy is now, but assuming he’s still alive, whatever else he has done with his life he is and always will be a guy who shot his best friend in the head.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So many times today I’ve been told that “If only some of the teachers had guns, they could have prevented this.”

    Of course, we know one teacher did own guns. Those guns were the ones used in the massacre.

    Part of me wants to shout “Fine. We will arm elementary school teachers. And if you’re right, great. But the first fucking time this leads to someone dying, every one of you who advocated it gets executed on the spot. Via bullet to the stomach.”

    I don’t like feeling like this.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The shooter’s mother wasn’t a teacher after all, apparently. Despite all the stories saying she was. What do they teach them about fact-checking in these schools?

    I’m with you on the gut shot for people who advocate arming teachers, to be fired asap after the first death caused by having armed teachers. I don’t like it either, but you know as well as I do that that first fatality is going to be an elementary school kid. Abusive teachers do, after all, exist.

  • Daughter

     Again, a great comment by a reader of TNC’s blog. The person said something like, law enforcement and military personnel do their jobs in a state of vigilance, on the lookout for signs of violence, because they have to. But teachers don’t generally exist in that state. Even if you arm them, how quickly do you expect a teacher to go from reading and doing math problems, to suddenly being ready to take down an armed shooter? Most people aren’t able to change gears that quickly. And how easily accessible and ready to fire do you want guns to be, in a classroom of small, curious children?

  • Mrs Grimble

    One thing you might want to think about is how those guns get onto the
    black market. This will likely change as 3D printing technology evolves
    (FSM help us all)

    Currently, that seems to be highly unlikely.  This very question was discussed a few months ago on a science-oriented mailinglist that I’m on; gunsmiths and materials experts hashed it back and forth between them and concluded that the plastic materials suitable for ‘maker’ machines were totally unsuitable for building working guns.  You might possibly be able to make a single-shot weapon; but you’d be much more likely to produce something that would turn into a hand-held IED when you pulled the trigger.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     What is more likely is that you’d be able to use a combination of 3d printing and off-the-shelf non-regulated parts to build a working gun.  It would be hard, for example, to justify restricting the sale of rifled steel tubes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     Of course, we know one teacher did own guns. Those guns were the ones used in the massacre.

    Fact check:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324481204578181542025261964.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

    Note that she is not described as a teacher.

  • Lori

    My favorite quote so far about the arm-all-the-teachers nonsense is from a commenter at Lawyers, Guns & Money, which was highlighted in a post titled “Time to arm the union thugs”: 

    So I’m a teacher. According to conservative orthodoxy, I’m a parasite on the public’s dime who is only interested in indoctrinating the precious children of America into communism or atheism or whatever. I can’t be trusted to have any control over the curriculum I teach. I can’t be trusted to fairly and impartially evaluate my students, let alone my colleagues. I can’t be trusted to have collective bargaining rights. I can’t be trusted to have an objective view of governmental policy when it comes to my own profession.

    But they’ll trust me to keep a gun in a room filled with children.

    Even the cynicism-producing neurons of my prefrontal cortex can’t wrap themselves around this kind of stupid bullshit. 

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/12/time-to-arm-the-union-thugs

  • Tapetum

    For whatever value personal anecdotes have – I know two people who own guns. They are also, by some amazing coincidence the only two people I know who have been shot. One was shot by a trespasser on his family lands, when he assumed they didn’t have the guts to shoot him in the back, once he had confronted them, his own gun in hand, and then turned and walked away. The other was shot in the chest with his own double-barreled shotgun, after the home invader got it away from him. He only survived because he kept it loaded with rock-salt instead of shot.

    Speaking as someone who doesn’t much care for guns – I’m not anti-gun, I’m anti idiot-with-gun, anti-criminal-with-gun, anti-kid-with-guns, anti-gun-violence. Personally, I think that guns ought to have licensing requirements just like cars. Want a gun? Go learn to shoot one from a reputable club, or a responsible owner. Go prove to the government you are capable of keeping a gun safely, caring for it safely, shooting it accurately. Then you can have guns – but you’d better be willing to keep up those skills and prove them every now and then.

    I have to prove I can see well enough to drive a car, don’t suffer from any medical conditions that would prevent me from driving one safely (like uncontrolled seizure disorders), and actually know how to drive one in order to get a license. Also, if I prove I have lost that competence (too many at-fault accidents, driving drunk, driving recklessly), I can lose my license, and the loss of my mobility is just too bad.

    As far as I’m concerned that ought to be a minimum sort of requirement for gun ownership. Owning a gun without a proper operating permit (possible exceptions for one that’s kept locked up at somewhere else, like a gun club) should be illegal.

  • The_L1985

    I know 4 people who own guns.

    2 of them are hunters. They shoot deer. Venison is tasty and abundant, so I certainly can’t argue with this use of guns at all.

    The third is an online friend. He is a self-described “left-wing gun nut.” He loves target shooting and drooling over various types of knives and firearms. He is also strongly pro-gun-control, because he knows that a lot of people out there are idiots, and that an idiot probably shouldn’t have, say, a military issue AR-15.

    The fourth is my father. He keeps a .22 revolver “in case of intruders,” and frankly I think the only reason the man has survived to old age is from sheer stubbornness and being Too Fucking Scary To Attack.

  • fredgiblet

    “military issue AR-15”

    And THAT is one of the major problems with the discussion.  The AR-15 is not military issue, that is the M-16, and in fact the AR-15 is functionally highly-similar to large number of other weapons.  So people such as yourself want to target the platform, but in doing so you aren’t actually accomplishing anything besides annoying legitimate gun owners.  So say you ban AR-15s, so I buy a Kel-Tec SU-16 instead, not only does it fire the same round out of the same style of barrel it accepts the same magazines AND folds for easy carry (or concealment).  What have you accomplished?  Nothing.

    So now legitimate gun owners have to purchase new equipment that will be functionally identical to the AR-15 platform, but has a different name and is therefore outside the ban.  This is the EXACT same thing that made the AWB stupid, useless and a laughingstock among gun owners.

    But at least you get to feel like you did something…right?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    So say you ban AR-15s, so I buy a Kel-Tec SU-16 instead

    Why don’t I ban both of them, then?

    In fact, I’d ban all semi-automatics and handguns, except for those who are on some kind of active duty.

  • The_L1985

    Please point out where I said that I, personally, was a gun owner. If I wanted to own guns I would make a point of actually learning about them. As it is, I live in a society where guns exist. So I made it a point to learn the 4 rules of gun safety, and frankly don’t care to know much else about them beyond what laws exist to stop people with mental illness from buying a gun during a period of instability and going on a killing spree like what happened 2 days ago.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Using a gun in any real life situation is something requiring a lot of skill. You do not get this skill by firing 25 shots at silhouette of BHO on alternate Thursays. As a skier and a trombone player, I think I have some expertise about expertise. One hour per day serious practice on both of those is not enough to get really good. I hope there is no one so stupid that they think real life gun use is easier than skiing through trees.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I hope there is no one so stupid that they think real life gun use is easier than skiing through trees.

    I’m sure there are people who think exactly that, but I suspect it’s more the Law of I’m Better: I’d bet that more than half of all gun owners think they are better-than-average shots.

  • http://thegoldweredigging.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    As a skier and a trombone player, I think I have some expertise about expertise. One hour per day serious practice on both of those is not enough to get really good.

    Perhaps you should combine them and do both for two hours instead!

  • fredgiblet

    The problem that I have with the dialogue that anti-gun people want to start is that it usually has no basis in reality.  Take the Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 for example, if you look through the list of what was banned by that it was almost completely irrelevant to criminal activity.  I don’t have a problem with sane gun laws, I have a problem with people who have no understanding of the way guns work deciding what sane gun laws are.

    I see people talking about how we need to prevent people from getting machine guns, nevermind the fact that machine guns were never popular and are presently cripplingly expensive and almost entirely unavailable anyway, they’re still convinced that you can go down to the gun store and buy an Uzi.

    I see people like the link above talking about closing the “loophole”, when there IS NO LOOPHOLE, there is NOTHING that you can do a gun show that you can’t do anywhere else.  If you tell people they can’t sell the guns at the gun show they’ll step outside where they can sell them.

    I see people talking about aggressively attacking a SYMPTOM, while ignoring the actual cause.  Just like they talk about how violent video games should be banned because the kids who do things like this are sometimes gamers.

    I see a knee-jerk reaction that we have to do SOMETHING and rather than think about what’s happening and deal with the hard issues that CAUSE tragedies they decide to attack the tools of the tragedy.  That knee-jerk reaction is how we got the PATRIOT ACT.

    I am perfectly willing to talk to people who want to determine how to make laws that will actually HELP, laws that aren’t simply targeting guns, but actually deal with the root cause of the issues.  I’m perfectly willing to give up some of my access to guns, if it will actually produce a positive result and is part of a balanced approach to resolving the issues that we as a country are facing.

  • Lori

    So what exactly do you see as the root cause issues? You apparently aren’t willing to address guns capable of firing an enormous number of rounds in a very short time, because that’s what people have been wanting to talk about for quite a few massacres now and you’re dismissing that discussion. So, what are you willing to do? What do you think will actually HELP?

  • Shallot

     Could you talk about what you’d suggest, then?  I realize I’m jumping into the conversation here, but I don’t know what would be most effective.  (And while my Facebook is apparently full of idiots, tomorrow I go back to work, and I’d like to be prepared for a real conversation.)

  • fredgiblet

    1. Strict rules regarding how the media is allowed to report stories of spree killings.  I would be shocked to find that the massive sensationalism isn’t part of the problem.  I expect (though obviously it’s hard to tell since most of them off themselves) that a large number of these spree shooters get the idea and the final push by watching the news reports of other spree killers.  The new media turns them into celebrities, evil ones to be sure, but still celebrities.

    Total blackout regarding information about the killer, no name, no face, no family, no personal details that aren’t vastly out of sync with expectations (i.e. young, white male with young, white male interests).  The crime itself should be reported in a bland manner and the amount of time allotted to it should be proportional to the amount of actual information on hand to provide, so no breathless, half-hour long segments where they update the death count by one.  That can be done in 30 seconds.

    2. Start a national dialog about mental health, perhaps model it off the “It Gets Better” campaign and have prominent celebrities, politicians and public figures openly discussing times they had mental issues and how they got through it.  Make attempts to de-stigmatize mental illness and push for easy access to anonymous mental help.

    3. Sane drug laws.  Recognize that the war on drugs is lost and deal with it.  My suggestion would be government-run dispensaries with a “shall issue” mandate where if you’re of age, pass a test and don’t fail certain criteria (like convictions for dealing) you can buy drugs.  It funds itself, guts the drug-dealing culture that causes a great deal of violence and saves a TON of money.

    Regarding actual gun laws I would say restricting face-to-face transfers, requiring an FFL to transfer guns even in-state and requiring that guns be secured when not in use.  When you look at the spree killings they are almost always using guns they either legally own or that they took from friends or family, requiring that the guns be locked up wouldn’t eliminate that but would strongly curtail it.

  • Lori

     

    Strict rules regarding how the media is allowed to report stories of spree killings.   

    So your solution to preserving 2nd Amendment rights is to create new limits on 1st Amendment rights? That could be problematic.

  • P J Evans

     I think it’s closer to don’t report until there’s actual information to report, and don’t turn it into a media circus,with conflicting information and lots of speculation about motive etc. We don’t need breathless reporting of every detail for hours on end.

  • Lori

    We don’t need breathless reporting of every detail for hours on end, full of conflicting information that hasn’t been fact checked on even a basic leave, about anything. And yet we that’s what we have about damn near everything. How exactly would be write laws to change that without running afoul of the 1st Amendment?

  • fredgiblet

    Of course it’s problematic which is why it will never happen.  However it’s also completely reasonable.  The fact of the matter is that the news media turns the shooters into celebrities and that is a problem, a big one.

    The 1st amendment isn’t absolute, it never has been.  You can’t shout fire in a crowded theater, you can’t make public, negative statements about someone unless they’re true, why not add you can’t provide fuel for the fantasies of emotionally damaged people just so you can make a buck onto the list?

  • Lori

    why not add you can’t provide fuel for the fantasies of emotionally damaged people just so you can make a buck onto the list?  

    Is this a serious question? Do you actually not see why this isn’t possible to do, probably at all, certainly not in a way that would pass any Constitutional review?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I am actually often surprised that there aren’t more civil suits against producers of “torn from the headlines” style TV movies for causing emotional pain and suffering for the people involved in the event on which the movies are based.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m curious about that one. We don’t let people say ‘fuck’ on air because–actually I’m not sure why but it probably has to do with Protecting the Children. What makes that constitutionally possible but restricting TV news updates on mass murders to (say) a minute every half hour constitutionally impossible?

  • Lori

    We don’t let people say fuck on TV because it’s on the list of FCC no-nos, because think of the children, blah, blah, blah.

    The reason we can have a rule about the 7 words you can’t say on TV (see: George Carlin), but not about fueling people’s fantasies is that you either said one of the words or you didn’t. It’s binary and clear cut. Fantasy fuel is not. Unless you create a complete news blackout on spree killings or mass murders where do you draw the line and say this is OK because it’s just information, but that is not because it’s fantasy fuel. Fantasy doesn’t work that way.

    It’s the same reason that 1st Amendment rules =/= most 2nd Amendment rules. You can legally guy a gun or you can’t. You have ammo that can be fired at hundreds of bullets per minute or it can’t. You took and passed a safety class or you didn’t. 

    The equivalent to a fantasy fuel law would be something more like not allowing anyone with diagnosed mental illness to own a gun and we’ve talked about why we can’t do that and it would be wrong to try. Separating the mentally ill who really shouldn’t have access to firearms because they may harm themselves or others from people with mental illness who would be no more or less dangerous with a gun than anyone else is all but impossible to do accurately and would inevitably lead to discrimination. Can’t do it.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve heard some strong arguments that the media’s focus on the killers themselves, or would-be killers such as Gabrielle Giffords’ assailant, encourages copycat killings. Apparently even the idea of postmortem glory has some appeal to such people. This time (and I cringe at that phrase) I’ve seen more focus on the victims as well as the gun laws, and that might represent progress.

  • AnonymousSam

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be helping. At least two people in the last two days, one nineteen and the other sixty, have been arrested for threatening to perform school shootings of their own.

  • Lori

    There was also the guy in the parking lot of the mall in California. He fires 50 shots, all into the air or into the ground. Both of those things are dangerous and he could have hurt someone, but the fact that he wasn’t firing at anyone makes it pretty clear that he was either out for the pleasure of watching people run or for the attention. If I was forced to bet I’d pick the 2nd one.

  • fredgiblet

    I heard a story (granted from an unreliable source) about someone who was going to the range shortly after the shooting.  He was loading up his guns when the police showed up.  He asked why they were there, they said that his neighbor had called and said that he was preparing to attack an elementary school.

    I’ve seen a TON of fun stories in that vein, though since they’re from the internet they should be taken with a bag of salt.

  • Tapetum

    Make that at least three. They arrested a 15-year-old in Southern Indiana this morning for “terroristic threats”.

  • Lori

    Yes, mass killings seem to be “catching” at least to some extent and that’s driven at least in part by the posthumous fame that the killers get. I would also very much like to see more emphasis on the victims than on the killers. That’s why I said that I wish we’d forget every one of their names.

    My point isn’t that the news coverage isn’t bad and harmful, it’s that we really can’t effectively change that with laws, certainly not without violating the 1st Amendment. If we want coverage to be different we need to stop rewarding coverage as it is now. Don’t watch when they talk about the killer. Don’t click on links to stories about the killer. Send messages to the media outlets you regularly view and let them know what kind of coverage you do and don’t want to see.

    No one thing is going to totally solve the problem, but desensationalizing the news coverage would really help.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I didn’t say anything about fantasy fuel. That was someone else. What would make it constitutionally impossible to restrict TV news about spree killings to a minute every half hour, letting them say whatever they want about the incident as long as they can fit it in that minute?

  • AnonymousSam

    I would say the problem is that whenever Big Business’s constitutional rights are in question, those rights are absolute.

    Whenever poorer, private citizens’ rights are in question, they can jolly well get fucked. (Free speech zones, anyone?)

  • Lori

    I think the argument would be that limiting time (or page count or some appropriate measure of webpage space) would be effectively limiting the freedom of the press in a way that just wouldn’t fly.

    As a practical matter it would virtually certainly have the opposite of the desired effect. They’d spend every bit of their allotment totally focused on the killer and we’d never hear or see anything about the victims. As long as the killer’s name is out there someone is going to want to kill to get that attention.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not sure your first paragraph flies, but your second makes excellent sense, so I’ll shut up now.

  • fredgiblet

    “It’s the same reason that 1st Amendment rules =/= most 2nd Amendment rules. You can legally buy a gun or you can’t. You have ammo that can be fired at hundreds of bullets per minute or it can’t. You took and passed a safety class or you didn’t. ”

    You mentioned the shooters name or you didn’t.  You showed a picture of the shooter or you didn’t.  You had a half-hour segment where you provided no new information than was yesterday or you didn’t.

    There are rules that can be made black and white.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     For my own part, I have no problem with laws governing what can be said on the airwaves in segments labelled “news”, and I agree with you that such laws are in principle passable and Constitutional. For example, I’m all in favor of enforcing standards for how many demonstrable falsehoods I can report on the air as “news” and still keep my license as an official news broadcaster.

    I wouldn’t endorse using such laws to enforce novelty as you describe here, though. Nor would I endorse using them to enforce “balance” or anything like it. If a studio chooses to air a news segment that shows nothing but gory scenes from mass shootings, or car crashes, or whatever, repeated over and over again until the next such event occurs, I think that’s in woefully poor taste but would oppose criminalizing it.

    Still less would I endorse using such laws to enforce such constraints on non-news segments. The Onion is full of lies, for example, but I would not wish to see it banned on that basis.

    Mostly I think the right response to media in poor taste is to not consume it, and to provide alternatives to it, and to build systems that allow others to make informed decisions about what to watch.

    But all of this is predicated on a model of the world in which people can make such choices… that is, even if I’m targeted by a news broadcast, I can choose whether to watch it/read it/listen to it.

    It’s not clear to me that I have an analogous freedom when targeted by a handgun, so I’m reluctant to generalize from one to the other.

  • EllieMurasaki

    We’re not talking about media in poor taste, though. We’re talking about media that actively, if indirectly, endangers people’s lives. If a major motivating factor of spree killers is the media attention, and we cut the media attention we give them down to the bare minimum, well, the next spree killing will still happen, probably the next ten spree killings will still happen, extinguishing a behavior takes time, but eventually potential spree killers will figure out that committing a spree killing is not a route to lots of attention.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Sure, I agree that if reducing media attention given to spree killers reduces the number of spree killings (even if it takes a few years, as you suggest), that’s different than just dealing with media in poor taste, and can justify prohibiting or at least controlling access to such media.

    That said, “if” is a key word in that sentence.

    I mean, if reducing media attention given to Mr. Rogers reduces spree killings, that can similarly justify prohibiting/controlling access to Mr. Rogers, but before I endorsed such prohibitions/controls I’d want to be convinced that it actually does that.

    Conversely, if we end up prohibiting media attention given to spree killers without the sort of data that would lead us to prohibit Mr. Rogers, I would suspect that taste was playing a not-inconsiderable role in that decision.

  • EllieMurasaki

    People do stupid things for the attention it gets them all the time. Given the amount of attention lavished on spree killers, it seems an obvious connection to make. I don’t know of anyone who’s studied it, but it is absolutely a thing to look into.

    What connection could there possibly be between Mr. Rogers and spree killings?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > What connection could there possibly be between Mr. Rogers and spree killings?

    None that I can imagine. In fact,  it seems remarkably unlikely that there is one.

    That’s why I use it as an example. If the data I have is actually compelling, I expect to find it compelling (albeit surprising) even if the conclusion is utterly counterintuitive and seems unlikely on the face of it.  Conversely, if I only accept the data if it indicates something I already half-believed, but I would reject the same data if it indicates something I found unlikely, I conclude I should keep looking into it until I actually have compelling data.

    Otherwise, I’m biased in favor of my initial intuitive judgments. If everyone does this, we all end up with the same disagreements we started with, just more data to throw in our opponents’ faces, none of which our opponents find compelling. See also “using statistics the way a drunk uses a lamp-post”.

    There’s not much point to collecting data in the first place in that case… we can more simply advocate for our preferred positions on the basis of our intuitions, and skip the data-collection step altogether. Equally effective, and much cheaper.

    Incidentally, more likely targets than Mr.Rogers include most action movies, much prime-time television, many video games, and refined sugar. But the same standards of evidence apply to them as well.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    About 5 years ago, there was a meme floating around the right-wing think-tanks that Mr. Rogers was Bad For America, because he told children they were special and worthwhile just for being themselves. This gave them an unreasonable expectation that they were, indeed, worthwhile people. One could argue that Mr. Rogers tells children they are special and important, and then when they grow up and the world fails to treat them as if they are special, important, or worthwhile, the crushing disappointment leads them to violence.

    Now, I think the entire argument is a load. But I’m also unconvinced that restricting news coverage of spree killings will have a demonstrable effect on spree killings (Especially given how many of them predate the 24 hour news cycle)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Problem with that argument is that everyone IS unique and special. Just like everyone else.

    And I’ve no idea how to test this, but I’m pretty sure mental health issues arising from considering oneself not at all important (or, probably more accurately, internalizing the belief expressed by one’s surrounding people that one is not at all important) are more prevalent and more vicious than mental health issues arising from considering oneself overly important.

  • Carstonio

    Harlan Ellison once speculated the reverse – what if Sirhan Sirhan or Arthur Bremer or David Berkowitz had been given five minutes of TV time before they ever picked up a weapon? Would they have lived off the exposure and lives might have been saved? Almost sounds like a premise for a “reality” show.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Problematic as fuck, though. The thing about spree killers is that they’re mostly young white men who seem to be responding with violence to not getting the attention they think they deserve, and it’s a phenomenon that seems to be a response to the general loss of privilege being experienced by white men. We do not want to feed the idea that these people are getting less than they as white men deserve.

    Also, how in the fuck would we identify these people in order to stage that sort of intervention?

  • Carstonio

    From my reading, the idea wasn’t a serious one, but instead a critique of television and the cult of celebrity. The loss of privilege is probably a factor, but I would be interested to know what the killers themselves thought about it.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > it’s a phenomenon that seems to be a response to the general loss of privilege being experienced by white men.

    And yet, the vast majority of white men losing privilege don’t go on spree killings. Which suggests to me that other factors are more relevant.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Also relevant, no shit. More relevant, show your work.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > More relevant, show your work.

    Seriously?

    OK, sure. My work is something like this:
    * Percentage of white men who become spree killers = Some really small number.
    * Therefore, likely contribution of being a white man to being a spree killer = Equally small number.
    * Likelihood that events have causes that contribute more than a really small number to them = large number.
    * Therefore, likelihood that people who go on spree killings have a contributing factor that contributes more than being white men = large number.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What in that explains why spree killers are disproportionately white men?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Nothing at all. I don’t know why that is.

    But whatever the reason for that turns out to be, since most white men losing privilege aren’t spree killers, it’s unlikely that being a white man losing privilege is the most relevant factor to being a spree killer, even if it turns out that a higher proportion of spree killers are white men losing privilege than of the general population.

    The same thing is true if it turns out that a higher proportion of spree killers are of German descent than of the general population, or of French descent, or Jewish, or watch violent movies, or were not breast fed, or whatever.

    More generally, if the majority of group X doesn’t kill anyone, X membership probably doesn’t explain why this person kills someone.

    Which I know you already know, because you have previously expounded this principle yourself, compellingly and correctly, when arguing against the commonly held false notion that having a mental illness explains why some people kill.  It doesn’t, and the way we know this is that most people with mental illnesses don’t kill anyone. And that would be true even if it turned out that more killers than nonkillers were mentally ill.

    So presumably you have some specific reason for not applying the general principle in the case of white men losing privilege, which I’ve failed to understand. If you could articulate it, that might be helpful.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Most murderers are not mentally ill. Most spree killers are white men.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It seems to me that it is unlikely that there is anything in particular about being a white male that makes one more likely to be a spree killer than to be a normal upstanding citizen. But it may well be that there is something about white-male-ness that makes it more likely that, having decided to become something decidedly less social than “normal upstanding citizen”, the alternate choice is “spree killer” rather than some other form of sociopathy.

    In much the same way that access to guns isn’t likely to make someone with good intent become a murderer, but it is more likely that access to guns will make someone with bad intent  become a murderer instead of, say, a vandal.

  • Daughter

     Your logic would probably be true for any factor that you pick. For example:

    * Percentage of violent video game players who become spree killers =  really small number
    * Percentage of violent movie watchers who become spree killers =  really small number
    * Percentage of young men who become spree killers =  really small number
    * Percentage of people with mental illnesses who become spree killers =  really small number

    So perhaps we shouldn’t be thinking about whether any given factor is big or not? Perhaps we should be looking at a confluence of factors, and determining that individuals with that confluence of factors are at risk?

  • Carstonio

    White male privilege is part of the context of gun violence. From my reading, no one here is claiming that resentment over threats to that privilege is more relevant than other factors. It’s a part of the equation instead.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2012/12/17/why-dems-shouldnt-fear-politics-of-gun-control/

    What’s really striking is that opposition to stricter gun control is
    largely driven by white men — blue collar white men in particular…By contrast, college educated whites, white women, moderates, and
    minorities all show majority support for stricter gun laws. These are
    the emerging pillars of the Democratic coalition.

    No coincidence at all that the same demographic that most fervently opposes gun control is the same one most fervently opposed to Obama. And opposed to health care reform, contraception access and same-sex marriage. Opposed anything that would reduce the automatic privileges that come with being white or male or straight or Christian or rich. “God, guns and gays” has always been about pandering to the resentments of white men. Obama did very little about guns in his first term, yet that didn’t stop the “I’ll keep my guns, money, faith and freedom” crowd. If Hillary Clinton had become president four years ago, she might have gotten similar reactions over guns, except the fearful rhetoric would have been castrative instead of racial.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I agree with your claims about the demographics of gun control, anti-Obama sentiment, opposition to health care, contraception, and same-sex marriage (also abortion and non-Christian religions, though you didn’t mention them), and how that relates to the resentment of privileged white men.

     > From my reading, no one here is claiming that resentment over threats to that privilege is more relevant than other factors.

    When I suggested that other factors were more relevant to spree killing than being a white man, Ellie asked me to show my work.
    When I explained my reasoning, she challenged me to explain why spree killers are disproportionately white.
    When I explained why spree killers being disproportionately X didn’t mean that X caused spree killing, she replied that most spree killers were white men.

    If she’s not claiming that being a white man losing privilege is more relevant to spree killing than other factors, then I’m clearly deeply confused.

    So my reading differs from yours in that regard.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I am saying that a given combination of factors that does not lead to spree killing in people who are not both white and male does lead to spree killing in people who are. If you want to read that as me saying being a white male is the most important factor in spree killing, you go right ahead.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Nope, I don’t especially want to do that.

    If we can agree that there are likely factors more important than being a white male losing privilege, great.

    If we can’t agree to that, that’s fine too.

    You challenged me to explain my reasons for believing that, so I did; I’m content to leave it there.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t think we’re even having the same conversation here.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I don’t think we’re even having the same conversation here.

    That, too, is possible. If you’re interested in converging on a conversation, I’d be interested in hearing your summary of what conversation you’re having, and how I’ve diverged from it. If you’d rather drop it here, I’m OK with that too.

  • Daughter

     If we can agree that there are likely factors more important than being a white male losing privilege, great.

    I haven’t finished reading all the comments, so maybe you’ve answered this one already, but you’re no longer making sense. Your earlier point that unless we have data indicating that X is the primary factor leading to spree killing, we shouldn’t make policies banning X, is spot on.

    And it’s true, Ellie may be wrong that the loss of white male privilege is a primary factor in spree killings, unless we have data showing a causative relationship.

    But you can’t then turn around and say that other factors are more  important than loss of white male privilege unless you can name what those factors are and present data showing the causative relationship. Which so far, I don’t think you have.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Your logic would probably be true for any factor that you pick.

    Not
    necessarily. If we find a factor where a significant percentage of
    people with X turn into spree killers, my logic would not apply to X.

    you can’t then turn around and say that other factors are more  important than loss of white male privilege unless you can name what those factors are

    As I said initially (when Ellie asked me to “show my work”), I do find it likely that there are more-than-negligibly predictive factors, and since being a white male is a negligibly predictive factor I therefore find it likely that there are more-predictive-than-being-a-white-male factors.

    But you’re certainly right that I haven’t demonstrated that those factors exist, so sure, it’s possible that they don’t, and that being a white male is no less predictive than anything else. I find that unlikely, but other people are free not to.

  • Daughter

     Point taken. I guess a better way for me to word it is that “Your logic would probably be true for any of the factors currently being floated about what causes spree killing.

    My opinion – and it is purely an opinion – is that there is no one single primary factor, but likely a series of factors.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > Your logic would probably be true for any of the factors currently being floated about what causes spree killing.

    Yeah, absolutely.

    More generally, the speculation I see about what causes spree killing (including my own) is at best unverifiable, and more often simply false.

    > My opinion – and it is purely an opinion – is that there is no one single primary factor, but likely a series of factors.

    That’s fair, and you may be right.

    There are certainly a lot of contributing factors, regardless of whether there’s a primary factor or not.

    Regardless of which of us is correct, right now I mostly think the best tool we have to predict this sort of thing is the intuitions of trained mental health professionals. It’s a lousy tool, but it’s the best we’ve got. I also suspect that figuring out how to adapt the system so that those professionals can more reliably obtain what they consider appropriate levels of care for people they suspect might commit such acts (which includes preventing them from acting out on such impulses) is the best tool we’ve got for reducing the likelihood of them.

    That said, I doubt we’re willing to spend what that tool costs.

    And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that the people who commit these sorts of acts are necessarily mentally ill. I’m suggesting that, whether they are mentally ill or not, the intuitions of trained mental health professionals are the best tool we’ve got for identifying and caring for them.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I find the theory implausible, but given compelling data to support it I guess I’d be up for providing a 5-minute prophylactic  TV appearance for all prospective spree killers.

    I have trouble imagining that world, though.

  • Lori

     

    You mentioned the shooters name or you didn’t.  You showed a picture
    of the shooter or you didn’t.  You had a half-hour segment where you
    provided no new information than was yesterday or you didn’t.

    There are rules that can be made black and white.

     

    And which would blatantly violate freedom of the press.

  • fredgiblet

    Maybe.  But then there are people clamoring to violate the right to bear arms.  Why should the right to freedom of the press be held inviolate if the right to bear arms isn’t?

    Also we already have laws on the books about inciting to riot, it’s hardly a stretch to consider inciting to mass murder a sub-type of that.

  • hidden_urchin

    Why should the right to freedom of the press be held inviolate if the right to bear arms isn’t?

    This op-ed says it best as far as I’m concerned.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/the-freedom-of-an-armed-society/

    I’d also point out that people forget the “well regulated Militia” portion of the Second Amendment.  Unrestricted access was never part of the Constitution.

  • Lori

     

    But then there are people clamoring to violate the right to bear
    arms.  Why should the right to freedom of the press be held inviolate if
    the right to bear arms isn’t? 

    By “violate the right to bear arms” do you mean Take All The Guns? Because if so, that’s not going to happen. Some people are talking about it, but it’s not going to happen. Just like we aren’t going to start restricting freedom of the press.

     

    Also we already have laws on the books about inciting to riot, it’s
    hardly a stretch to consider inciting to mass murder a sub-type of that.  

    Look at the laws against inciting too riot. They’re actually very narrow. The prohibited behavior has a very clear, straight line connection to rioting. TV coverage of mass killings does not have that kind of clear, straight line relationship to other mass killings. It may feel like it does, but research hasn’t found that kind of clear connection. You can’t point to X thing in news coverage and say truthful, “This is a causative factor in future mass killings.”

    And here’s where we can turn your “sauce for the goose” argument around—the vast majority of people who watch sensational TV coverage of mass killers do not then go out and commit a mass killing themselves. People obviously want this type of coverage or they wouldn’t watch it. Why should law abiding people be deprived of the news coverage they want just because a tiny handful of people are violent?

    I think it’s also worth noting that the available evidence it pretty clear that press freedom is more necessary for a healthy, functioning democracy than private ownership of large numbers of guns.

  • Carstonio

    George Carlin once replaced “kill” with “fuck” in movie clichés and common sayings. He emphasized the classic point about people objecting more to their kids seeing two people make love and less to their kids seeing two people trying to kill one another.

  • Michael Pullmann

     It would be fun to rewrite action movies like this. Die Hard would be great.

    Bond movies, of course, would become much more disturbing.

  • Lori

     

    2. Start a national dialog about mental health, perhaps model it off the
    “It Gets Better” campaign and have prominent celebrities, politicians
    and public figures openly discussing times they had mental issues and
    how they got through it.  Make attempts to de-stigmatize mental illness
    and push for easy access to anonymous mental help.  

    I am 100% in favor of destigmatizing mental health issues and providing a much better level of mental health care to people who need it. I think doing so is a good in and of itself and that it would also reduce our overall level of violence.

    That said, you are never going to be able to identify everyone who has problems and is at or nearing a crisis point. People in crisis, whether they’re contemplating self-harm or harm to others, present far less danger in societies that don’t have such high levels of gun availability.

  • Lori

     

    requiring that guns be secured when not in use. 

    I’m totally in agreement with this. The thing is, in my experience the gun lobby is not. Here’s the rationale that I’ve heard too many times to count:

    People have an absolute right to guns to defend themselves and their property. Not an hour ago I read a comment at another site from a woman who stated very succinctly what I’ve heard from many others—without the ability to defend oneself and one’s property all other rights are meaningless.

    You can’t defend yourself with a locked gun. If your gun is locked you’re a sitting duck for criminals who obviously won’t keep their guns locked.

    Besides, any restrictions on what I do with my gun in my home, or on my person if I have a concealed carry permit, are unconstitutional infringements on my right to bear arms. All Real True Gun Owners know perfectly well how to store their weapons. How dare the government attempt to restrict the freedoms of responsible, law-abiding folks exercising their Constitutional rights just because some people who have guns, but are obviously not Real True Gun Owners, have no sense?

    The follow on about how gun locks are part of a UN plot is totally optional and IRL I’ve only known one person who went that far. I’ve heard the first 3 points from many people though.

  • fredgiblet

    I would argue that home defense is a valid “In use” situation.  Keep the guns locked up when there’s no one home, but if you’re there and you want to put you pistol under your pillow or your rifle under your bed for the night that’s perfectly fine.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    So (to continue harping on the point) how much do you have to train to reliably and safely defend your home after being awakened at 3 AM? Can you even realistically train for such a situation? I don’t think I’m doing too much stereotyping to suggest that a lot of gun owners think firing 50 shots a month at the silhouette of a scary niCLANG! makes them an expert.

  • hidden_urchin

    If someone I know tangentially is any indication–not enough.  He has told me twice of shooting through his (closed) bedroom window at what he thought was an intruder in the middle of the night.  The first time it was his uncle.  The second time, well, he doesn’t exactly know what he shot at because he was still half asleep.

    Everybody feel safer now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/swbaxter13 Scott Baxter

    I am perfectly willing to talk to people who want to determine how to make laws that will actually HELP, laws that aren’t simply targeting guns, but actually deal with the root cause of the issues.

    Well, it seems to me this is a relatively straightforward problem: look at other rich democracies, see what their overall gun crime rates and spree murder rates are like, and if they’re lower than the US then look there for solutions. 

    I’m pretty sure you’re going to find that simply targeting guns is going to have to be part of the solution. The US is a massive outlier on gun ownership, with about 90 guns for ever 100 people. As a comparison, Switzerland – which has mandatory gun ownership for part of the population because in lieu of a standing army they rely on a well regulated militia – only has about 45 guns for 100 people, and even that is quite high for the rich democracies. You don’t start to see a cluster until the 30-31 range, where you find countries like Germany, France, Canada, Norway, Sweden, etc. It’s rather unlikely that the US’ outlier status on gun ownership is completely unrelated to the US’ outlier status on gun deaths and spree killings.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    “Take the Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 for example, if you look through
    the list of what was banned by that it was almost completely irrelevant
    to criminal activity.”

    Like bayonet mounts. Was there really a sweeping wave of bayonet-related crimes going on until then?

    I actually think a lot of the things on the AWB were merely an attempt to mollify its supporters without completely pissing off the NRA. So they threw on things like bayonets, knowing it made the whole list longer, but also knowing it would affect the bare minimum number of people.

  • fredgiblet

    The general perception among gun owners that I’ve seen is that the AWB was made by people with no idea how guns work targeting guns they felt were especially scary.

    The fact of the matter is that if your’e trying to address gun violence by targeting long guns you’re DOING IT WRONG.  However crimes committed with long guns are VERY sexy, so they get all the play in the news and thus a disproportionate amount of media coverage and legal attention.

  • Lori

    You know, it’s not helpful for people who claim to have expertise on guns to refuse to take any meaningful part in a discussion about what to do about gun violence in the US and then do the point-and-laugh about how stoopid the people who write gun laws are. In fact, it’s pretty much a dick move.

    The AWB was dumb, but it was dumb in large part because the people with the most knowledge flat refuse to participate in the process beyond saying that the solution to gun violence is to arm everyone.

  • The_L1985

    This. I don’t care to know every nit-picky detail about how Model X differs from Model Y. Tell me GENERAL categories of firearms, how those differ, and we can go from there.

    People who don’t know much about guns aren’t going to learn anything helpful, or want to, if the gun experts keep going “oh, ha ha, you don’t know the difference between a breech-loader and a barrel-loader!” Well maybe if people spent less time treating the gun-apathetic like a bunch of idiots and just told us the fucking difference, we’d know at least the bare bones of the matter.

    Mockery shuts down discussion. Always.

  • Lori

     

    I don’t care to know every nit-picky detail about how Model X differs
    from Model Y. Tell me GENERAL categories of firearms, how those differ,
    and we can go from there.   

    I don’t know either and frankly I don’t especially want to. However, if knowing would help us make changes that reduce gun violence then I’m willing to learn. I’m not willing to be condescended to while doing so though. That means that the gun lobby and its supporters are going to have to come out from behind their great big “No!” and actually take part in the discussion.

    I don’t think all gun owners are horrible people. I do think we have too fucking many guns. Yesterday a man here in Indiana (about 150 miles away, over near the Illinois border) was arrested for threatening to go to the elementary school near his house and kill as many people as he could. When police searched his home they found 47 guns and some ridiculous amount of ammunition. WTH?

  • Madhabmatics

    When you are in the south you learn that there are two kinds of gun owners: People who own them as a tool and get about as worked up about them as they would a nice hammer, and Gun People. I’m always suspicious as heck of Gun People.

  • Ursula L

    Controlling guns can mitigate the actions of the people who do this.  It’s why China has 20 kids in the hospital with knife wounds today, while we have 20 kids in the morgue with bullet wounds.

    But, for the US, this is a long term solution.  We won’t stop mass murder next year with gun regulation, because there are already so many guns in our communities that someone wanting a gun can easily find one.  But we can probably have fewer mass murders with guns twenty or forty years from now, as we gradually reduce the number of guns in our communities and make them harder to get illegally. 

    But the long term nature of the problem is no reason not to address it.  

  • arcseconds

    I think massacres are going to be very difficult to stop.

    The thing is, there’s little in the way of real warning signs.   What might look like warning signs in retrospect aren’t of much predictive value.   The killers are usually social outcasts of some kind, but it’s no good treating all social outcasts as potential mass murderers.  For a start, it’s grossly unfair, as practically none of them will actually be mass murderers.  Plus it makes their lives even worse – which, if anything, will compound any likelihood of them doing something extreme (suicide is far more likely than mass murder).

    As they look pretty much like ordinary people before their shooting spree, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deny them access to weapons, especially if we’re being at all realistic about what kinds of legislation are likely to pass.   Especially as they don’t need to be the licensee themselves: they’ll often be able to access weapons from family members or friends, who have no real reason to suspect them.

    The things that would be most effective in preventing massacres, I think, would be cultural changes.   What really needs to happen is that going out in a hail of bullets needs to be taken off the table as a possible exit strategy, and I’ve little idea of how to do that.   But reducing the romance of guns — the redemption through violence, the manly sense of power, or whatever it is — sounds like a good place to start, and gun legislation might be part of the solution there, as
    suggested by an earlier commenter.

    (Although what’s putting it on the table for them is likely to be previous massacres more than anything else…)

    The other thing that might be worth looking at is the patterns of social exclusion themselves.    Get rid of bullying in schools is an obvious target — and we’ve plenty of reasons to do this indepedently of stopping massacres.

    Where gun legislation is more likely to have an impact is the lower-hanging fruit of the thousands of people who are shot to death every year not in gun massacres.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I think massacres are going to be very difficult to stop.

    They will be as long as you cling to the premise that civilians should be allowed to own weapons of mass murder.

  • arcseconds

    They will be as long as you cling to the premise that civilians should be allowed to own weapons of mass murder.

    I’m not clinging to any premises about shoulds. 

    (Whatever gave you the impression that I was?)

    I’m being realistic about what’s possible.

    Do you think the USA could institute gun control laws like Canada’s or Australia’s, and reduce the number of guns from 88 per capita to Canada’s 30 per capita over the next 20 years? Perhaps Switzerland’s rate of 45 would be more feasible.

    Anyway, let’s assume that this happens (I’m not even sure I’d call this ‘realistic’, actually.  ‘highly optimistic’ is probably better, but I think it might be possible.  Something to aim for, maybe.)

    That’s not going to stop massacres completely.  Why would it? There are still massacres in countries with fewer guns and more gun control.  The best you could hope for is to reduce it to the same rate that other countries have.

    And that might not even be possible, because rampages, I think, are a culturally-conditioned response to circumstances that are, I suspect, more prevalent in the USA than elsewhere.  And as I said before, I don’t think there’s any sure or even good way of spotting who’s going to go on a rampage before they actually do. 

    (On the other hand, it’s difficult to believe that such a circumstance could come about without also a big cultural change in how guns are viewed.   )

    This argument has nothing to do with whether civilians ‘should’ be allowed accesses to firearms, but rather that it’s overwhelmingly probable that they will continue to do so.   Countries other than the USA review their gun laws after massacres, and sometimes adjust them, but there seems no real political will anywhere to ban them entirely. 

    (There is one ‘should’ I’m clinging to, though, which perhaps misled you in to thinking I was making an entirely moral argument, and that’s that it would be unfair to discriminate on gun ownership on the basis of popularity, eccentricity, or even mild forms of mental illness  – in other words, the sorts of things that might be taken to be signs of being a possible rampager.   If you’re Ms. Popular and Cool and you’re allowed a gun, I shouldn’t be denied one because I have no friends; collect moulds, slimes and puffballs; and suffer from mild depression. )

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m not clinging to any premises about shoulds.
    (Whatever gave you the impression that I was?)

    The bit where you said this:

    As they [social outcasts] look pretty much like ordinary people before their shooting spree, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deny them access to weapons, especially if we’re being at all realistic about what kinds of legislation are likely to pass.

    Saying that it’s going to be pretty difficult to deny people who may have mental illnesses access to weapons of mass murder because they are largely indistinguishable from “ordinary” people rests on the premise that you can’t deny such access to “ordinary” people.

    You can do such a thing; it is physically and legally possible and is, in fact, done quite readily in much of the world. So I interpretted “you can’t do that” as “it’s not OK to do that”.

  • arcseconds

     

    Saying that it’s going to be pretty difficult to deny people who may
    have mental illnesses access to weapons of mass murder because they are
    largely indistinguishable from “ordinary” people rests on the premise
    that you can’t deny such access to “ordinary” people.

    You can do such a thing; it is physically and legally possible and is, in fact, done quite readily in much of the world.

    I’m not sure what you mean by that. The obvious reading is obviously false. 

    In most countries it’s still possible for ordinary people to own guns, and it’s still possible for people who are prone to shooting sprees to own guns, because shooting sprees still occur outside the USA.

    And, again, I don’t think the wide availability of guns is the only factor at play.  I think there are also cultural differences that mean that other countries don’t produce as many people liable to this sort of behaviour. 

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

     “And that might not even be possible, because rampages, I think, are a
    culturally-conditioned response to circumstances that are, I suspect,
    more prevalent in the USA than elsewhere.”

    Us and China, actually. Do a search on school knife attacks in China and you’d be surprised at how often it happens. So even if they ban nearly all guns in the US, they still need to work on the root of the problem of figuring out what causes these people to do this in the first place. I’m sure we don’t want to simply replace one horrible problem with one really bad one and then just throw up our hands and say, “Well, at least they aren’t likely to die any more.”

  • banancat

    Saying “At least they’re less likely to die” isn’t ideal but it’s a step in the right direction.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

     I’m afraid, though, that after a complete gun ban, the politicians would dust off their hands and say, “There. Done,” and act all shocked when the first knife spree attack occurs, because they still didn’t bother to address the issue of what makes someone decide to do that to begin with.

    I’ve made clear in this thread that I’m a gun owner. I’m also a liberal (as I mentioned before, I voted Obama in 2008 and Stein in 2012. I value other women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage more than my gun rights).

    If they manage to get laws passed outlawing handguns, I’ll turn in my gun and feel only a mild pang of regret for losing something I own. (I just hope we get compensation for them. I’m not so rich I can afford to just throw $600 in the trash).

  • Carstonio

    As much as I object to Michael Moore’s use of his liberalism as a superior attitude, he and Susan Faludi are right about the real problem behind the US fascination with guns. We spent a good portion of our history fearing Native American attacks and slave uprisings, and the racism and xenophobia still linger. Our action movies are about the Villain With a Thousand Dark-Skinned Faces, whether these are Wild West shootouts, urban vigilantism fantasies, or even alien invasions.

    Rare are attacks on gun control that don’t resemble Ralphie Parker’s hero fantasies. In Louis Gohmert’s mind, he and he alone stands between his tiny, huddled family and insensate evil.

  • arcseconds

    I think a rampage is a cultural response of sorts to a particular sort of situation, which itself is in part bound up in gun culture of a particular kind, which is more prevalent in America than elsewhere.

    (I think the biggest salient difference between the USA and the rest of the developed world is not actually the level of gun ownership itself, but rather what people think guns are for.   In the USA, the attitude that guns are for personal protection is widespread (and there’s a whole lot of mythology that goes along with that), and enshrined into law.  Everwhere else the general attitude is that guns are for sports, and otherwise are locked in a cabinet somewhere inaccessible. )

    If there were no guns whatsoever, then this response would not be possible.  You may be right that they’d replace it with another response.  But I don’t think it’s as simple as just a simple replacement.   I don’t think it’s useful to think of these events as though the goal is to kill a lot of people, where guns are an expedient means to that ends, and could be replaced with some other means.   It’s more like a kind of ritual action.

    It’s worth making a comparison with suicide, I think.  The means of suicide is, I think, culturally conditioned in a similar way.  People tend to commit suicide in the way they hear about other people committing suicide.    If the usual means is to jump off a particular cliff or building, you can actually reduce the rate of suicide if you block access to that.   

    What would need to happen is another ritual arise to replace the old one.  And that’s possible, yes, but it’s also possible that it might not happen.

    Anyway, yes, we need to understand more about how this occurs.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I think a rampage is a cultural response of sorts to a particular sort of situation, which itself is in part bound up in gun culture of a
    particular kind, which is more prevalent in America than elsewhere. 

    How would you characterize the salient differences between the particularly American-gun-culture-bound rampage you describe here, and (for example) the amok kind of rampage that James Cook described in Malay in the mid-18th century?

  • fredgiblet

    This circles back to my earlier suggestion of limitations on reporting.  The news media makes the shooters celebrities and to some people, heroes.  That can be stopped with very little effort and essentially no negative impact.  All it requires is a willingness to treat the 1st amendment the way a lot of people in this thread are pushing to have the 2nd amendment treated.

  • Tapetum

    嫌な馬鹿

  • The_L1985

    Oh noes, YouTube links! The horror! Lol

  • Tapetum

    Pardon, that was intended for the obvious recipient, the odious Winston Blake.

  • AnonymousSam

    I think a simple “滚开。” would suffice.

  • Tapetum

     Probably, and I shouldn’t have neglected telling him to go away, since it’s actually the most important bit. I’m easily provoked today, unfortunately.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of some stuff the pro-gun folks like to come up with, here’s one: Some gun owners advise purposely shooting your wall after you shoot a home invader or trespasser so you can claim you fired a warning shot first.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    On a much nicer note, I’ve heard people advise that if you don’t want a gun but still want to feel safer in case of intruders, there is some sort of device that makes the sound of a shotgun being cycled.  The idea is that you use it behind your closed door if you hear a bad guy, and hope he will run away (rather than, say, open fire himself).

  • hidden_urchin

    I think there’s an app for that…

  • P J Evans

    Some of them also advise dragging the body (dead or alive) into your house so you can claim that’s where hse was shot, even if you shot hir in the back as hse was running away.
    Some pr-gun folks need to get their minds re-calibrated.

  • Lori

     

    Some of them also advise dragging the body (dead or alive) into your
    house so you can claim that’s where hse was shot, even if you shot hir
    in the back as hse was running away. 

    Those people are not only grossly immoral, they’re deeply stupid. Any half-competent investigation can determine that a body has been moved, where the shooting actually happened and which side of the body the bullet entered.

    TTBOMK there’s no way to determine which of 2 bullets exited a gun first, so the post-killing “warning shot” in the wall could at least work if you’re a good liar.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

     I agree with you. It’s stupid and immoral. You can’t call yourself a law-abiding gun owner if you’re willing to do something illegal like that.

    (I live in a state with castle doctrine laws, so it’s not something you’ll hear said around here).

  • Lori

     

    (I live in a state with castle doctrine laws, so it’s not something you’ll hear said around here).   

    I can see how living in a place where the law gives you the right to kill any intruder in your home, with intruder functionally defined as pretty much anyone who doesn’t live in the house, with nothing more required than that you say you felt threatened and no need to produce any evidence that you had any actual reason to feel threatened, would tend to cut way down on discussions about how to manipulate the scene to create the appearance of a righteous shoot.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    I like that the law protects me from a criminal (and civil) trial in a clear-cut case of home defense, but I’m personally of the belief that our castle doctrine laws are far too lenient. I don’t think it should be legal to shoot someone trying to steal your car out of your driveway. Theft does not warrant the death penalty. I believe defense of your/your loved ones’ lives is the only justification for the use of lethal force.

    I also believe if you do have/carry guns, you have more responsibility not to escalate incidents.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I think that if you save your life and the life of your family, that should be reward enough, and you should be happy to face a jury of your peers and justify your actions before a court of law.

  • Lori

    Eh, going to court involves hiring a lawyer, which is very expensive and the outcome of any given case is never assured. No one is happy to go to court.

  • Lori

    Yes. I’m not a believer in the death penalty for theft. At the same time I recognize that a lot of people see having things stolen from them as a huge violation of their self or something. I also know people who see it as a slippery slope. If you just let them take your X then they’ll know you’re a sucker and a wuss and they’ll come back for everything you own and then they’ll kill your dog, rape your wife and make you watch while they slaughter your entire family.

    Sadly it’s not like that scenario has never happened, but I think there are a lot of stops between it and not shooting a person to death for stealing your car or your wallet or whatever.

    I was thinking about this earlier in connection with yesterday’s discussion about crimes thwarted by gun owners. As I said, the supposed heroes I’ve known personally were mostly full of it, but I know of one story where I feel pretty confident that the guy involved actually stopped a crime.

    Guy goes to get gas and has the experience that Ruby’s online acquaintance apparently fears—two guys try to jack his truck. Guy has a carry permit and a gun in his truck. He grabs the gun and shoots both would-be truck jackers, killing them both. No one else is wounded. No damage is done to the gas pumps. Chalk up one crime prevented by a guy with a gun.

    Here’s the thing—is that actually a good outcome? I’m not a fan of car jackers and I know that while they aren’t usually dangerous if you give up the vehicle that’s not always the case. There were other people at the gas station and even if the truck owner hadn’t been hurt maybe someone else would have been. IDK. I just feel like the thing you really ought to have in your truck to protect it from car jackers is LoJack, not a deadly weapon. Let them have it, call it in, send the cops after it.

    Here’s the other thing—the truck owner wasn’t remotely an ordinary gun owner. Those two wanna be thieves were the unluckiest bastards in Texas that day (and that’s saying something) because they tried to steal Chris Kyle’s truck. Chris Kyle was a SEAL sniper and has the most confirmed combat kills in US military history. At the time of the attempted truck theft he was fairly newly retired from an adult life spent focused on being really, really good with guns. The number of rounds he had fired in practice is many, many times what even the most enthusiastic of gun enthusiasts will ever fire, that practice was largely spent in very sophisticated drills, not blasting away at paper silhouettes or tin cans, and that doesn’t count the shooting he’d done in actual combat. The fact that Chris Kyle was able to kill two would-be truck thieves without hurting anyone else says exactly nothing about what even a fairly skilled run-of-the-mill gun owner could reasonably expect to do.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    I’d almost bet Mr. Kyle had more than the magic 10000 hours of practice needed to assure mastery. One of the things that angers me about the gun nut response to this is the implied sentence of thousands of hours practicing shooting the rest of us would have to endure to stay safe. I’m ok with doing some plinking but would much rather be sking.

  • AnonymousSam

    Indeed. They seem to be implying that everyday life ought to be like spaghetti westerns, where every man (women? what are those?) lives and dies by speed and skill, and every crime ought to end with someone getting shot.

    I, for one, would prefer otherwise. I’m one of the few who apparently has no interest in being reasonable, in trying to be reasonable or in pretending to be reasonable. If I had my way, guns would be outlawed period. Not because I don’t trust gun owners, but reasonable measures to be a responsible gun owner defeat the supposed purpose of owning a gun (as pointed out, if you have ammo in one safe, gun in another and locks on the triggers, how are you going to defend anyone with a gun?) and anything less (and sometimes this and more) create the inevitable potential for someone to take those guns and use them.

    The example I heard awhile ago draws a comparison to nuclear weaponry. Sure, the people typically around them are certified experts… but why should that be a comfort to anyone else, knowing certifiable maniacs are frothing at the mouth in anticipation of the eventual nuclear cataclysm and would be more than happy to hurry it along?

  • Lori

    I’m like you in that I’d have no objection to dong a little plinking, but I have no interest in devoting the kind of time and effort that would be required to keep me from being more dangerous than not. There are quite a few things I’d far rather be doing and that would be far more productive for me and I’d way rather spend my very limited funds on books and music than guns & ammo.

    I’d be fine leaving each to their own if we were just talking about hobbies. The problem is that we’re not and I also have no interest in living in an armed camp, being the “little lady” cowering in terror in the background while they go all John Wayne. Part of the purpose of civilization is for us not to have to live like that. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Of course, if it does come to light that you’d fired a post-kill ‘warning shot’  with the intent to mislead a criminal investigation, first, it makes the shooting look very suspicious, and second, even if the shooting is still judged legit, that’s still its own felony.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    As Lori said, you can’t tell with any degree of certainty which bullet left a gun first. Even eye (ear?) witness accounts as to the duration of time between shots is not meaningful.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Knowledge gleaned from CSI (except it can’t have been CSI, but something in that genre): isn’t the way to match bullets to a gun by putting a fresh clip in the gun and firing until the striations on a bullet in the target match the striations on a bullet recovered from the scene? I definitely recall that different bullets from the same clip in the same gun have subtly different striations. So, while it is probably not worth CSI’s time to figure out which bullet was fired first, it seems like a thing that’d be possible.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    ISTR bullet striation matching will tell you which gun fired which bullet but not the order in which they were fired unless the gun is known to foul easily, in which case the degree of fouling might be evident and tell you if a false warning shot was made.

  • Lori

      Of course, if it does come to light that you’d fired a
    post-kill ‘warning shot’  with the intent to mislead a criminal
    investigation, first, it makes the shooting look very suspicious, and
    second, even if the shooting is still judged legit, that’s still its own
    felony.  

    Yes, but there are a lot of people who always believe they’re not going to get caught.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s the thing that bothers me about the “shoot the wall” thing. It’s advocated by people who KNOW they are breaking the spirit of a law which mandates least overall harm (a legit warning shot sends the trespasser away and hopefully causes them to think twice), and committing greater overall harm while creating a way to basically escape a manslaughter charge.

  • fredgiblet

    Or the warning shot shows him that you don’t REALLY mean it and takes your sights off the baddie long enough for him to close and try to take your gun.  If you have a pistol in a holster and some comes at you with a knife from 25 feet away you will lose.

    People quote statistics about how likely you are to be shot with your own gun, the reason that I see for that is that a lot of people don’t understand that by pulling the gun they are escalating the situation and making a threat, if you don’t follow through on the threat then you’ve made things WORSE, not better.

    If you aren’t willing to pull the trigger, don’t pull the gun.

  • Lori

     

    People quote statistics about how likely you are to be shot with your
    own gun, the reason that I see for that is that a lot of people don’t
    understand that by pulling the gun they are escalating the situation and
    making a threat, if you don’t follow through on the threat then you’ve
    made things WORSE, not better.   

    There are a lot of things that a lot of gun owners clearly don’t understand, that’s part of what we’ve been talking about. At least in the US a lot of extremely ignorant and/or careless people own guns. We could mandate some sort of safety training before buying a gun. I think that’s perfectly reasonable and ought to be done, the gun lobby does not agree.

    However, even if you make everyone take safety classes a lot of people are still not going to actual do what they’ve been taught. That’s just how people are. As a result, as long as we have large numbers of guns in the hands of civilians we’re always going to have safety problems.

    People are going to get shot with their own guns. People are going to shoot family and friends by accident. People are going to shoot family and friends in the heat of an argument.  People are going to have their guns stolen and used in later crimes. Even if the incidence per gun is very low that still adds up to a lot of people hurt or killed because we have a truly staggering number of guns in this country. 

  • Tapetum

    That is exactly why I do not own a gun, and will never own a gun, outside of a vague possibility of a shotgun with rock-salt.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I wonder what percentage of the “We’ll be safer if MORE people have guns!” folks would change their tune if someone pointed out that this would include people who were not white.

  • Tapetum

     Indeed. Someone on Making Light pointed out astutely that an Arab-Americans for an Armed America society would be hounded out of existence by whatever means available, legal or not, even if their position was word for word that of the NRA.  I suspect that would be true even if their position were substantially less hard-line than the NRA, they would be viewed as a threat and the same people howling about taking guns away now would be baying for their blood.

  • Madhabmatics

     Several states have had bouts of gun stores refusing to sell to Arabs or anyone who looks like Arabs already

    The 2nd amendment is inviolable (unless you are not white!)

  • caryjamesbond

    Ok, so- different types of guns, quick run down. 

    On the largest scale, you can more or less break guns down into two giant catagories- long guns and hand guns.  Long guns are everything from a smooth-bore musket to a fully automatic shotgun. Handguns are everything from a .22 derringer to whatever the largest caliber pistol they make now is. There are, of course, some inbetweeners- sawed off shotguns and mare’s legs but those are pretty much illegal anyway. 

    Long guns, despite the recent tragedy are…not really an issue with gun violence. Despite the very high profile tragedy from the other day, the vast majority of people are going to be killed with pistols. 

    Your LEGAL long guns, however, can be largely broken down into two categories- Semi-automatic and Not. There are fully automatic weapons- those are your actual machine guns. They’re pretty useless- honestly, I’d rather be shot at with a machine gun on full auto than anything else on this list because only the first two shots are coming in my direction, everything else sprays in the air, and the clip empties incredibly fast. 

    Semi-automatic is simply any weapon where you put in a bunch of rounds, and some of the recoil from the shot is used to cycle the rounds, so one trigger pull equals one shot. Not semi-auto means you have to work a bolt or a lever to chamber another round. Honestly-not that much of a difference in speed- I use a Marlin 30-30 lever action to hunt with, for example. Without that much skill, you can shoot accurately about as fast as a semi-auto. Extended magazines- well, its not the worst thing to ban, I suppose, but honestly, switching clips is not that much of a slowdown.

    “Assault Weapon” is a somewhat pointless designation, IMHO. GI’s did plenty of assaulting with lever action M1’s. As generally understood, assault weapons are semiauto with a pistol grip.  Modifying them to full-auto is, in theory, possible but extremely difficult. Generally, there is no difference between these weapons and more traditional looking hunting rifles in terms of capability or caliber. The “problem” with long guns and crime is that they’re bulky. The Marlin 30-30 I mentioned is about as short as you can make an effective and accurate rifle and its over three feet long. They make shorter weapons, like the Tec-9, but they’re pointlessly inaccurate. The length of even the shortest rifle allows you to simultaneously brace the gun against your shoulder and support it with your non-trigger hand, as well as providing sufficient barrel length for accuracy. 

    If you wanted a place where you could make practical bans that might have a real effect, guns like the tec-9 would be a good place to start, or assault weapons with folding stocks, which makes them more concealable. 
    But 99% of your crimes are not with long guns. It’s the portability of the handgun that makes it good for the criminal. Personally, I’ve considered just banning handguns as a solution. If you really want that self protection, carry a rifle around. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > It’s the portability of the handgun that makes it good for the criminal. Personally, I’ve considered just banning handguns as a solution, and if you really want protection, carry a rifle around.

    Portability and concealability, I should think.

    Actually, in that vein I’d be interested in hearing from the folks who are worried about “gun-grabbers”… would y’all oppose a legal requirement that firearms carried by civilians must be visible? If so, why?

  • fredgiblet

    The only concern I would have about forced open-carry would be that it would make it easier to try and steal the guns.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Just for the record: Answers I have gotten to the question “Okay, so you think teachers should be armed, do you mean that they would carry it on her person loaded at all times while they teach children, or do you mean that the weapon should be securely stored and when the gunman forces his way into the classroom, the teacher runs to the locked gun safe, unlocks it, takes out the gun and loads it?”:  0

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    *sighs* Is there a way to block a specific person in these comments? That lovely troll is spamming pointless youtube links, and it means I can’t subscribe to this thread without getting flooded with spam -.- (Also makes reading it kind of a mess).

  • EllieMurasaki

    Disqus flat refuses to make it possible to auto-hide all comments from a person. I know of no Greasemonkey script or other clever trick to accomplish the same end. Sorry.

  • Madhabmatics

     the refusal to say “no one can follow my posts” is even creepier

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yeah, what Ellie said.

    Also, the little flag icon next to comments allows you to flag them as inappropriate, which in principle calls their attention to the moderator, who can then ban the commenter altogether.

  • P J Evans

     Probably not,but I just went through and reported a lot of them.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    @openid-27157:disqus : That’s called “open carry,” and it’s controversial: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_carry_in_the_United_States
    I’m against it, myself. It terrifies people to see someone carry a handgun on their hip into Starbucks, regardless of their intentions. California used to permit open carry, but after some gun nuts decided it’d help their cause to start brazenly carrying their guns everywhere, it got outlawed. I’m also for very strictly controlling concealed carry permits; I think there needs to be a compelling reason why one might fear for their life in order to carry. Training, licensing, and registering are obviously prerequisites.

    Other things worth mentioning: every time I’ve purchased a gun, I’ve also had to purchase either a trigger lock or a lockbox. They are supposed to be stored locked, and I’m legally responsible if someone else accesses them. I don’t know what the storage situation for the guns used by the killer in Connecticut was, but I couldn’t imagine having kids and not keeping my guns in a safe that the kids had no access to. Right now I just use trigger locks and lockboxes.

    Not to respond as someone who would use the phrase “gun grabber,” though. I am all for stricter gun access. 

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I’m also for very strictly controlling concealed carry permits; I think there needs to be a compelling reason why one might fear for their life in order to carry.

    The most surreal online conversation I ever had about guns was with the guy who informed me that when he and his wife went to fill up their car at the gas station, the car contained a total of FIVE guns…in case they were held up at the pump.

    He was not a man much given to humor, and appeared not to understand my questions regarding number of guns/number of hands available to hold guns.

  • Lori

    What in the world? Where were they buying gas? Beirut?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Didn’t that guy even realize he could have started a fire at the gas station if the cashier didn’t shut the pumps off?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I’m sure, as the star of the action movie in his mind, the thought of accidentally hurting innocent people or damaging property never occurred to him.

  • Tapetum

     That’s going to revive some old nightmares for me. When I was four, the gas station behind our preschool blew sky-high, while we were all outside to see it. (It was fortunately across a largish field, so no injuries or damage to us.) It’s one of the very few long-sequence memories I have from that age. Something caused a spark, but I don’t know that they ever found out what it was.

    Realizing that any given gas station could have an armed idiot, just waiting for someone to try something so he can pull his gun is not going to make me more copacetic about gassing up the car next time. I still avoid Sunoco stations, and it’s almost forty years later.

  • hidden_urchin

    Eh, he probably figured that he’d walk away calmly while the gas station blew up dramatically in the background. 

    ETA: And Ruby_Tea beat me to it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I am shaking. I amtrembling with rage. SOmeone just calledm e a rape apologist because I implied that it was good that there were fewer murders in the UK than in the US (“It’s disturbing you think that only murder coutns! What about rape? Rape murders the soul! Hey everyone this guy likes rape!”)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but that looks like you didn’t mention rape at all. Not because you think it doesn’t count, but because you think it’s irrelevant to the discussion of gun violence. Which, you know, it is irrelevant to the discussion of gun violence unless we’re making a point of discussing the rapes committed at gunpoint, which is really not very many rapes at all (at least when compared to total rapes), and I suspect (on admittedly no grounds) your accuser of being someone who cares about rape only when it can be used as a rhetorical bludgeon against your accuser’s enemy of the moment.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I didn’t, but I got a cluster of responses all at once that assumed that ‘murder is worse than other violent crimes’ implied “rape ain’t so bad”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think that rather depends on the definition of ‘violent crime’. Because when I think of ‘violent crime’, I do not think of date rape.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I assume it does if you’re heavily invested in the argument that no nation has ever become safer via gun control because they just trade gun murders in for non-gun non-murders.

    That’s their argument. That gun control has never saved a signle life, and that the kids who died friday died directly because of gun control laws.

    (By which I mean “because we have any laws at all”, not ‘because we have inadequate gun control laws’)

    No number of dead children is too many in service of America’s Die Hard Dirty Harry fantasy.

  • EllieMurasaki

  • EllieMurasaki

    I can kind of see people arguing that they personally would prefer being murdered to being raped, but that is absolutely not a universal thing. So even if gun control causes a rape or other violent attack to replace every murder that gun control prevents, that’s an awful lot of people who are alive instead of dead and who would rather be alive (however injured and traumatized) than have been murdered, and that’s thanks to gun control.

    Injuries and traumas can heal, given enough expertise and time. Death can’t.

  • Lori

     

    I assume it does if you’re heavily invested in the argument that no
    nation has ever become safer via gun control because they just trade gun
    murders in for non-gun non-murders.   

    I’d beat a vital organ that I already know the answer to this, but do they have any statistics to back that up?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t know. Apparently my “theories” are “farfetched” and desperate attempts to be deliberately obtuse when “everyone knows” that guns could safely be kept in every school such that a gunman could be dispatched by teachers.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ask them how long it would take for a teacher to notice a shooter, get to the keys, get to the gun cabinet, unlock the gun cabinet, remove the gun, get to the ammo cabinet, unlock the ammo cabinet, remove ammo, load the gun, and fire at the shooter. Then ask how long it would take for the shooter to notice that somebody’s going for a gun. And point out that the alternate scenario is loaded guns in easy reach of children and abusive teachers.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Here’s what I got: The gun is stored, loaded,  in a handprint-scanner safe in the principals office.Opening the safe triggers a monitored alarm. I am assured by my interlocuters that it would take only a few seconds to get the gun, order the other classrooms secured, go in, and shoot the attacker. I am told that I am being ridiculous and grasping at straws to suppose that a teacher might misuse a gun or that the principal might shoot the wrong person.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I know someone whose brother got a desk thrown at him by his teacher. The teacher never got so much as a reprimand. I do not trust that teacher with access to guns in the presence of students. I do not trust that that teacher is the only such person in the profession.

    Remind them that there was more than one person with a gun at the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and the only reason there was not a friendly-fire incident is the armed bystander realized just in time that the person he was about to shoot was in fact a friendly.

  • Lori

    Why are you talking to these people again? Are they related to you or in some other way people you feel that you need to interact with? Because if not I think it may be time for you to give your skull a break from the wall-pounding and just let it go because I think they’re just about zero chance of anything productive coming out of that exchange.

  • f_galton

    I don’t like the American culture, such as it is. I’ve noticed considerable overlap between the people who’ve contributed to ruining it and the people who want to take away guns.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The people who insist on reinforcing the kyriarchy at every turn, including but not limited to funneling money to the tippy-top of the wealth pyramid, denying reproductive freedom to pregnancy-capable people, denying the benefits of legal marriage to same-sex couples, denying bathroom breaks to people who can’t get up a step, denying accurate identification documentation to people who do not identify with their assigned-at-birth gender, insisting that people who are behaving in a certain way while brown are behaving suspiciously when people who are behaving in the exact same way while white are not…

    These are the people who want to take away guns?

    Well, hell, let’s let them have that one, it’s the only sensible idea any of those people have ever had.

  • f_galton

    You suffer from GRIDS, don’t you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • f_galton

    Your comment has all the indications of GRIDS dementia.

  • EllieMurasaki

    [citation needed]

  • Tapetum

     Define please.

  • Lori

    If you don’t like American culture do feel free to live elsewhere.

  • f_galton

    Where can you go to escape American culture?

  • Lori

    What a US-ecentric POV. I’m sure a smart person like you can find somewhere.

  • f_galton

    There’s really no escaping it. The last time I was in Qatar, for example, all guys wanted to talk to me about was American movies and American pop music.

  • Lori

    Just tell them you’re too good to watch American movies or listen to American pop music and move on. I’m sure they’ll be very impressed with your sophistication.

  • f_galton

    They like rape porn.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ah, lovely, someone stuck in Reaganite 1980s America when they still called AIDS “GRID” for Gay-Related Infectious Disease.

    Also, what IS it with people who purposely caricature anyone wanting sensible gun control laws as “gun-grabbers”? Christ almighty, for a group of people who claim to have a monopoly on the ~intelligent and proper~ use of guns, these folks manage to whoop themselves into a paranoid frenzy over a completely imaginary threat. That’s not intelligent, that’s just rampant emotionalistic button-pushing.

    Does anyone seriously think in any country in the world guns ever get taken away from people outside of the context of a war in which there is a clear winner and loser, and the winner disarms the loser?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Tom Tomorrow explains what’s going to happen (nothing):
    http://thismodernworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/TMW2011-01-12acolorlowres-copy-2.jpg
    First drawn after the Giffords shooting, and it’s just as relevant now.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m being realistic about what’s possible.

    And there you go again.

    Every American I’ve ever seen who hauls out something like this is usually engaging in some kind of reverse American exceptionalism where instead of the motto being “can-do-anything”, it’s “can’t-do-anything”.

    If FDR threw up his hands and said the USA couldn’t do it because the Japanese were clearly ahead in throwing their soldiers into war without bothering with the cost, do you think y’all would have won World War II as fast as you did in the Pacific theater?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Wouldn’t it be a regulatory thing like the Equal Time Doctrine? Surely the FCC could regulate news in some fashion that sets the desired outcome of not spamming a news channel repeatedly with the same news over and over and over.

  • Lori

    We no longer have the Fairness Doctrine and the GOP uses (sadly untrue) accusations about the Dems wanting to bring it back as fund-raising fodder.  That pretty much tells you where we are WRT the FCC regulated general content.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    One other odd data point: Since I first heard about and started following what the NRA was getting up to, I’ve noticed that there seems to be no racist dimension to the opposition to gun control. And by that, I mean I have yet to hear of someone from the NRA trying on any kind of sophistry that amounts to “those people shouldn’t have guns.”

    I suspect this is because on average, whites have higher incomes anyway, and there are more of them, so the odds-on favorite in an all-out gun war will be the white guys with guns, not the black or Hispanic guys with guns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I don’t see how they could even design a gun control law that only affects people of one race but not another. Besides, even if they were racist — and I’m not sure that they are, to be honest — it makes no sense for them (based on their strategy) to advocate for any gun control laws at all. Their main argument is that gun control laws can’t work even if they were Constitutional because criminals will get their hands on guns illegally anyway, and only law-abiding people will be impeded. 

    Arguing that “only some people should legally have access to guns” implies that this argument is false — that it IS possible for the government to stop criminals (at least, those of a certain race) from having guns, and if they concede that then it pretty much opens the floodgates — they won’t be able to argue that gun control laws in general are ineffective but we should still have some anyway to stop the wrong race from getting their hands on them.

  • Madhabmatics

     http://houston.cbslocal.com/2011/11/01/texas-gun-instructor-refuses-to-teach-muslims-how-to-handle-firearms/

  • Carstonio

    http://www.salon.com/2012/12/17/why_is_the_shooter_always_male/

    If, when considering violence in our society, we were to turn being a man into a marked category, we would not ask questions like “why is America so violent?” but rather questions like “why are men so violent?”
    Some researchers do ask that question, and they come up with a number of answers, usually featuring a mixture of biological and social explanations: testosterone makes men more aggressive, while boys are brought up to believe that a willingness to engage in physical combat is essential to being a man, and so forth.
    To the extent the latter sorts of explanations are valid, they suggest that levels of violence in general, and mass murder in particular, are culturally determined, and are related to the messages societies convey about gender identity. Yet because men belong to a – or rather the – socially dominant group, they find it relatively easy to ignore demands (from people they dismiss as “shrill feminists”) that they take responsibility for male violence.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    Testosterone doesn’t increase aggressiveness.

  • Carstonio

    Can you provide a citation? I ask that as someone who condemns the assertion that gender-specific behaviors are determined solely by biology, as merely a rationalization for male privilege.

  • InvertIntrovert

    The Amish school murders and the women’s gym murder were explicitly targeting women and girls. The Skih temple shooting and the man who was targeting black men earlier this year were obviously about race.

    So at least some of the white men who went on murder sprees in the past few years have been kind enough to remove any doubt that this about white male rage. Whether that’s a factor in other shootings remains to be seen, but it’s not like there isn’t precedent for it.

  • fredgiblet

    I don’t think those really make a case.  I think it’s more likely that each spree is unique, the reasons behind them being personal.  For instance at Columbine it’s pretty obvious from the stories we have of incidents pre-spree that Klebold and Harris were severely bullied.  In that case it’s hardly some sort of “white men are angry at Other” they’re angry at the people (almost certainly mostly white) that have attacked them and that have failed to protect them.

    I have thoughts on why it’s mostly whites (Cho wasn’t white remember) but they’re totally unfounded at the moment so I won’t bother going through them.

  • Daughter

     For instance at Columbine it’s pretty obvious from the stories we have
    of incidents pre-spree that Klebold and Harris were severely bullied.

    Not true, according to Dave Cullen, who spent about a decade researching what happened at Columbine. “Much of what we reported, though, was simply wrong, as attested by tens
    of thousands of official documents and other evidence that has at last
    seen the light of day after years of suppression by the local
    authorities. As the Colorado-based journalist Dave Cullen tells in his
    gripping and authoritative new book Columbine, Harris and Klebold had
    plenty of friends, did pretty well in school, were not members of the
    Trenchcoat Mafia, did not listen to Manson, were not bullied, harboured
    no specific grudges against any one group, and did not “snap” because of
    some last-straw traumatic event. All those stories were the product of
    hysteria, ignorance and flailing guesswork in the first few hours and
    days.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/17/columbine-massacre-gun-crime-us

  • fredgiblet

    An interesting read.  Not terribly surprising that the news got it wrong, that seems to the be norm these days.

  • Daughter

    Re: white male privilege as a factor in spree killings. This article (http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/16/elephant-in-room-why-is-gunman-always-male ) addresses it, but not very convincingly other than to point out that virtually all spree killings, and indeed, most violent crimes, are committed by males.

    However, the only (so far) commenter, called Cade, takes it further in a very thought-provoking way, looking at the issue of someone like Lanza who had multiple marks of privilege – white, male, upper middle class – and yet spent his life struggling. His father and brother were successful, and meanwhile, his mother no longer worked and had devoted his life to caring for him.

    Cade asks, “If Lanza was in a family where he was repeatedly recieving messages that
    he was a failure as man, that he had all this potential and opportunity
    (thanks to being not just smart but also male, white and well-off), how
    did this shaped Lanza’s worldview? Did it make him feel like he
    deserved something he didn’t have, but his brother and father did? Also
    in our culture, we idealize hyper-masculine behavior, like “killing
    anyone who gets in your way.” Especially in entertainment of all forms.
    Lanza reportedly liked video games. I play video games too–and sadly,
    there is a serious imbalance in the game culture where the most common
    and dominant type of game is the one where the storyline is precisely
    that: killing whomever gets in your way. … Would this be an ideal
    that he, over time, internalized, shaping his attitude toward society
    as “I’ve been shafted, and society owes me, and I going to go get
    society back for that”?”

  • Carstonio

     Excellent questions. What Cade describes is resentment borne of entitlement. A version of that was the norm among poor Southern whites for decades during Jim Crow and is still fairly widespread. The region’s social structure was feudal, and whites who were locked out of political and economic power still had social status from their skin color. Particularly true for white men in that position. Instead of getting back at society in general, they took out their resentment on blacks who didn’t know their place, and lynchings were not only common but also public. They experienced civil rights and women’s rights as a personal loss, because the only thing they felt they had was their status, and that resentment has been handed down to younger white men, some of whom may feel like their inheritance or heritage has been taken from them.

  • Lector

    You know, the amount of ableism on display here is really pissing me off.
    Fact: There is not a correlation between mental illness and committing acts of mass violence. The men who commit mass murder (and it is overwhelmingly white men who do this) are by and large, not in the midst of psychotic breaks, they are not hearing voices that tell them to kill, they do not suffer from depression or anxiety or mood swings severe enough to qualify as a disorder. They are in their ‘right minds’, and they choose to kill anyway. Being white and male makes you more likely to commit acts of mass violence than being mentally ill does. So if we’re to talk  about restricting the mentally ill from having guns in the name of public safety, you better damn well be prepared to restrict white men from having guns too. And I say this as someone in favor of stricter gun control.
    http://psychcentral.com/archives/violence.htm


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