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.

  • 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”?”

  • The Guest Who Posts

    Testosterone doesn’t increase aggressiveness.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Tapetum

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

  • fredgiblet

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