What YOU can do about gun violence

Why you have to do something about guns

This message is primarily for those living in the United States. In the US, we have an outdated Constitutional amendment that has been interpreted by many, including the courts, in a way that hampers effective legislation to address what is clearly a major problem with the proliferation and use of firearms in inappropriate ways. We are frequently reminded of this by the regular occurrence of mass killings such as the recent event in Oregon. But really, that is a small part of the problem, numerically. I lay out some of the numbers below, and address some of the arguments that regulation of guns should be absent or minimal. We have another problem as well, one that is paralleled in many other areas of policy. Special interest groups such as the National Rifle Association, through pressure and campaign financing, control much of the Congress.

Other countries have addressed their gun violence problem effectively. We can too. But in order for that to happen, this has to happen:

1) The specious arguments against gun regulation have to be called out for what they are, and ultimately, ignored.

2) Citizen pressure on our elected representatives has to be increased significantly.

3) Organized efforts against the gun industry and the gun lobby have to be supported.

Your role as a citizen is critical. There are three steps you can take. Here, I’m asking you to take one of them, the one that requires the least effort and would likely have the largest impact. First, the other two. You can learn more about the gun problem, by reading this post to the end, and reading other material. After that, don’t let the gun supporters off easy when they pull out their arguments. Tell them they are wrong, and why. I understand and respect the fact that most of you are not going to do this, but some of you may be inclined to do so, and I thank you for that. Another idea is to check your investments (like your 401k) to see if you are supporting the gun industry. If so, see if you can fix that. You can find information about that here.

The easy step you can take, and likely the most effective, is to send a note right now to your representative in Congress. I’m told (see this) that a written letter delivered by the US Post Office has a significantly larger impact when it arrives on the desk of your Congressperson than an email (or tweet or a signature on a petition), so do please spend the stamp and do that if you can. But an email is good too, and if that is all you have time for, please do it.

Write your own note, but here are a few suggestions.

Write your Senators.

You have two US Senators. Find out who they are and get their contact details here. Usually there is a form to fill out. I suggest you say something like this:

Dear Senator,

I am a voter living in your state, and you represent me in the US Senate.

Firearms have become one of the most significant sources of injury and death in the United States. Yet Congress has done little to address this problem. We have made cars and toasters safer with sensible regulation, but have not done so with firearms.

I am writing you to urge you to take action to address this problem. Also, please tell me what you have done so far and what you plan to do in the immediate future.

Sincerely,

your name here

Write your representative in Congress

You have one representative in the US House. Find out who that is here. Send that person a note as well. An example:

Dear Congressperson,

I am a voter living in your district, and you represent me in the House of Representatives.

I am writing to ask what actions you have taken to reduce gun violence and deploy sensible regulations of firearms. Also, what actions do you plan to take in the near future?

Gun violence has become one of the most serious problems we face in this country, including massive numbers of youth suicide. Yet, Congress has failed to act effectively to address this problem. I urge you to to do so.

Sincerely,

your name here

Read the rest of my post if you want more background before writing the notes. Or, just do it if you don’t feel the need to do so. Ask your friends and relatives to write their reps. Ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and your buddies on Instagram and Pinterest to help out.

Gun morbidity and mortality rivals other sources

When people talk, especially in social media, about this or that alleged dangerous thing (pesticides, nuclear radiation wafting from Fukushima to California, failure to purge, vaccination) it is very rare that Godwin’s Law comes into play (the mention of the Nazis or Holocaust to eventually come up). But quite often someone will make the comparison between the deadly issue of concern and car deaths. “More people die in their cars than by eating GMO corn,” someone will say.

Indeed, we see reference to automobile deaths as a misleading rhetorical device to diminish the importance of firearm fatalities. I’ll quote from Briebart: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) final report on death statistics for 2013 shows there were 35,369 deaths from motor vehicle accidents versus 505 deaths from the accidental discharge of firearms. That is not a typo—35,369 versus 505. Americans are 70 times more likely to die in a vehicle accident than by the accidental discharge of a firearm.”

The truth is that the average annual rate of death by firearms is currently about 32,529. About 67,000 people are injured annually by firearms in the US. So, while you were not looking, cars got safer. The annual rate of death by car has declined steadily in recent decades owing to increases safety standards, even as the rate of cars per person on the road has increased. It is about half as dangerous to ride around in a car these days than it was before aggressive implementation of safety laws, and for some groups this number has declined even more (i.e., children).

It is also true that gun related deaths and injuries have declined over time, but not by much (in recent decades) and the rates are now going back up. The reasons for the decline about 20 years ago are not entirely clear, but probably have to do with changes in crime related violent deaths. In the late 1980s and 1990s, there were major changes in the nature and character of the illegal drug trade, and major efforts to clamp down on drug production and distribution caused a significant increase in violence followed by a decrease in many communities. Murder cities (often with special names like Murderapolis for Minneapolis) emerged temporarily around that time as organized gangs changed territories and tactics. From one study:

Previous research points to several potential contributing factors including the cycling up and down of youth firearm homicides (more so than adult homicides), changes in markets for illegal drugs (particularly the crack cocaine market which swept across urban cities in the 1980s and crested about 1990), changes in juvenile arrest policies and penalties for drug-related crime in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, improved economic conditions, and an increase in community-based policing strategies and primary prevention strategies for youth, families, schools and communities

So the current situation, 67,000 injuries and over 32,000 deaths annually, being one of the major non-disease causes of morbidity and mortality in the US, especially for youth, is a mild improvement from a period of chaos a few decades ago, and the rate of injury and death is staring to climb again.

Most gun deaths are suicide (20,000 a year), followed by homicide (11,000 a year) and accident (under 600 a year). Despite the obvious importance of rampage killings such those over the last few years in Roseburg (10 dead), Charlestown (9 dead), Ila Vista (7 dead), Fort Hood II (3 dead), Washington DC (13 dead), Santa Monica (5 dead), Newtown (27 dead), Brookfield (3 dead), Minneapolis (6 dead), Oak Creek (6 dead), Aurora (12 dead), Oakalnd (7 dead), Seal Beach (8 dead), Tucson (6 dead), Manchester (8 dead), Huntsville (3 dead), Fort Hood I (13 dead), Binghamton (13 dead), most of the homicides are not random mass killings. But, since the victims of rampage killings are entirely innocent, and the killings are sudden, unexpected, shocking, and often target children, they constitute a significant part of the problem.

Anatomy of a suicide

Let’s talk about the single most important gun related problem for a moment: suicide.

Sensible gun laws can prevent thousands of gun related deaths a year. When people talk about suicide, gun owners often bring up the idea that suicide is a mental health issue, not a gun issue. Well, yes, suicide is a mental health issue, but it is abysmally incorrect to say that it is not a gun issue. Here is why.

The majority of firearms related deaths in the US are due to suicide. A recent study showed that about 20,000 people in the US die of suicide using a firearm. This is the largest single cause of firearms related death.

If a person attempts suicide by poison, their success rate is about 2.5%. Cutting and stabbing has a success rate of less than 1%. Jumping has a success rate of just under 20%.

The total amount of time from choosing to commit suicide and carrying out an attempt at doing so, on average, is incredibly short, measured in minutes. (There is obviously a large spread for this number.)

When a person attempts suicide and lives, the chances that they will attempt suicide again is very low. The rate of trying an additional attempt is about 10%. A large proportion of those who do attempt suicide change their minds and seek medical attention, or others find out what is going on and intervene, saving the person’s life.

The rate of success of suicide by firearm is about 85%. When a firearm is used there is little chance to reconsider. A large percentage of those who attempt suicide and do so with a gun probably would have gotten past this period in their lives had they used a different method. I don’t have data on this, but I suspect this is more true for younger people. Also, one could argue that people should be allowed to kill themselves. I’ve seen gun owners make this argument. However, while that may be true for some individuals, especially older ones, it is a rather cynical answer to the suicide problem and certainly does not apply to adolescence or young people.

It is probably the case that a large number of people who kill themselves with guns obtain the guns simply because they are easy to obtain. Given the short span of time between choosing to take one’s own life and carrying out such an act, it is likely that most of these guns were already in the household. It is likely that many young people who kill themselves with guns obtain a gun owned by the adults in the household, a gun that is kept unlocked with ammunition readily available, perhaps the gun already loaded.

Among those who make the strongest statements against any kind of gun regulation, based on numerous conversations I’ve had, seem to be many who prefer to keep a firearm loaded and at the ready, in a nightstand drawer or some other convenient location. In a household with younger kids, this is extraordinarily irresponsible. While it might be difficult to imagine how laws or regulations could change this extremely dangerous and selfish behavior, having such laws would allow for vigorous prosecution after the fact, and may lead to more thoughtful and safe behavior by such individuals in the long run.

But what about guns as self protection?

The most vehement and vitriolic verbiage spewed to support unfettered ownership of guns seems to come from those who live in fear of home invasions or other attacks, and feel that they require a readily available firearm to protect themselves. It is quite possible that this honestly does apply to a very small number of individuals, but that is a special case that we should find a way to handle as a society. Most people who have this view are not such special cases. Also, when one has the view that enemies can enter the home at any moment and kill you, and thus you must be protected, then one must also believe that one’s personal gun must be loaded and ready, not locked up or secured, at all times. And that is unconscionable behavior, and should not be legal.

A gun kept in your home is more likely to be used to kill or injure an innocent person in an unintentional shooting, a suicide, or by a criminal who has taken it, then to be used in effective self defense (see this. A gun can be used to intimidate an attacker, but it is not clear that this is a strategy that is more effective than other non-gun related strategies (see study below). Many call for more widespread gun ownership in order to “take down” criminals involved in random violent acts out in public spaces. But there is about one gun in the US per person, a lot of people claim to carry them around, yet these self-defense guns are almost never actually used. This is probably because criminals are non-random in their behavior, and individuals armed with legal (or illegal) firearms are rarely in just the right place at the right time. Also, when people do pull out guns and start firing them, it is not uncommon for the outcome to be something other than the bad guy being “neutralized” with no one else injured.

Claims that guns are used defensively millions times every year have been widely discredited. Using a gun in self-defense is no more likely to reduce the chance of being injured during a crime than various other forms of protective action. At least one study has found that carrying a firearm significantly increases a person’s risk of being shot in an assault; research published in the American Journal of Public Health reported that, even after adjusting for confounding factors, individuals who were in possession of a gun were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. (source)

A recent study looked at the use of firearms for self protection.

The data for the study come from information on personal contact crimes from the National Crime Victimization Survey for 2007 through 2011. They looked at cases where an offender intended to steal property.

Among 14,000+ cases just under 1% involved the use of a gun in self defense. When the incident was over, on average, 4.2% of the victims were injured regardless of how it went down, 4.1% were injured when a gun was used in self defense. In the case of an attempt to steal property, 55.9 percent of the time the property was taken overall, with a slight reduction to 38.5% when the victim used a gun, and if the victim used a self defense weapon other than a gun, 34.9% of the time the property was lost.

So, you can stop a robbery with a gun, a little. But any weapon at all has a similar success rate. And you have a good chance of being injured.

An interesting result of that study is from the literature review. The researchers found almost no good studies that would inform of the basic question that many assume the answer to: Can you really protect yourself with a gun? The assumption that we should have lax gun laws so one can defend oneself, with the cost of tens of thousands dead each year, is a rather bold and unfounded one. The study is a bit nuanced and complex, and the researchers admit that the data are insufficient to examine many important questions. From the conclusion:

…the data provide little evidence that using a gun in self-defense reduces injury. Slightly more than 4% of victims were injured during or after a self-defense gun use—the same percentage as were injured during or after taking all other protective actions. Some self-protective actions were associated with higher probabilities of subsequent injury. The reader must be warned, however, that the sample of those injured after using a gun (5/127) is really too small to warrant strong conclusions. The large majority of crime victims who are injured are injured before they take any action.

The evidence suggests that using a weapon in self-defense may reduce the likelihood of losing property during the commission of crime. However, it is not clear that using a gun is better or worse than using other weapons…

Gun culture

Having such lax laws, and a loud minority in favor of keeping those laws lax, and of course other factors, probably contribute to a sort of gun fetish among those sometimes referred to as “gun nuts.” How do you know if you are a gun nut? If you keep a loaded gun in your house, if you keep guns and ammo unlocked, if you are just a regular person with no special security requirements but have a concealed carry permit, or if you think 20,000 suicides by gun per year is not a problem related to gun regulation, then you are probably a gun nut. On occasion a gun owner sets up a trap in their home, luring burglars or home invaders known to be working in the neighborhood so they can be shot “legally.” That is of course, very rare. But if you think that is OK you are probably a gun nut. For that matter, if you think it is OK when a teenage boy, on a dare, enters a home thought to be vacant and is shot dead for it, you might be a gun nut. These are all self-justifying excuses to argue against sensible regulation of guns.

Our society as a whole pays a huge cost, greater than the costs of international or domestic terrorism, so that individuals who have this gun fetish can do more or less what they want. The benefit for this lackadaisical and protectionist view of firearms is virtually non-existent. Those who suffer from the nearly unregulated presence of so many guns are accommodating the desires of individuals who want unfettered access to toys they happen to find enjoyable, at best. At worse, our society is accommodating monsters, people who believe that carnage counted in the tens of thousands is necessary so they can be wrong about safety and wrong about security.

With our current gun laws, we are paying a very high price to support unjustified ignorance and madness.


Arthur L. Kellerman et al., Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home, 45 J. Trauma 263, 263, 266 (1998).

Branas, Charles et al. 2009. Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault, 99 Am. J. Pub. Health 2034.

Fowler, Katherine ,Linda L. Dahlberg, Tadesse Haileyesus, Joseph L. Annest. 2015. Firearm injuries in the United States. Special Issue on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Gun Violence. Volume 79.

Hemenway, David, Sara Solnick. 2014. The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007–2011. Special Issue on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Gun Violence. Volume 79.

Hemenway, David. 2004. Private Guns. Public Health 78

ADDED because it is relevant to some of the discussion below:

wholechart (1)

Hat tip

Added because it is interesting with respect to specific policies that might be implemented:

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211 thoughts on “What YOU can do about gun violence

  1. Er.. ah…. more than 99% of USA citizens don’t have representatives in Congress, and have not since around year 1981. Ordering our employees in Congress to obey us does not work and will continue to not work until bribery is once again against the law, and treason is once again punished— which ending the “citizens united” crime against us will do. Only after that is done will our employees obey us.

  2. Thanks, Greg. I’m an hour south of Roseberg, and I regret that I hadn’t done my part until now.

    (Headline I copied on my way over here: “Mike Huckabee on Oregon shooter: ‘It was a cop with a gun that stopped him.'”)

  3. Mike Huckabee on Oregon shooter: Making completely irrelevant, out-to-lunch statements to pander to an unpopular and minority political group that holds America in contempt.

  4. Worth adding:many gun “enthusiasts” trot out the old saw that an armed populace is less vulnerable to the government. Such people have usually not been to Afghanistan, or Somalia, or any other failed state where the populace is heavily armed and government basically non existent or very weak.

    In fact what I find fascinating is all these people who seem to think that an armed populace will spontaneously form some kind of rebel army. It’s a comic-book version of the way politics (and revolutions) work.

    Many of these people are right in one respect: if you can go toe to toe with the local National Guard you are less likely to be tyrranized by such horrible ideas as rights for minorities, or women, or ending slavery. Those were so terrible the people took up arms to end them, usually wearing white sheets.

  5. Jesse, I would go along with a plan where Texans can keep their guns, pay for repatriation of Texans who want to move out of Texas, then they can have their own little failed state.

  6. As far as self-protection goes, there *was* that incident in July where a West Virginia prostitute shot and killed a likely serial killer while he was attempting to subdue her in a prelude to murder.

    However the NRA isn’t likely to trumpet this since the intended victim used the attacker’s own handgun. No word whether he was an NRA member.

  7. Gunlawscorecard has interesting map by state, drill-down.

    Labels.
    Some have asked that the “shooter” not be identified, but for some, “shooter” is a plus.

    A modest proposal:
    agree on a standard name, like “worthless” or “contemptible” or maybe “scum”.
    Then, one can give each a unique label by adding year and count, like
    scum-2015-294 for this case.

    This is at least more methodical, and may make Googling easier, although that might better use 2015scum294.

  8. I have been reading this useful blog for several years without commenting. I am not a working scientist, but I have enough math and science education to be able to follow scientific arguments in some detail.

    Kudos to you for making suicide a prominent part of this post. Most people arguing for increased gun regulation don’t even mention it which makes me question their seriousness toward trying to reduce firearm injuries and deaths.

    I have a number of issues with this post, parts of which I find ad hominem and offensive. I’d like to first ask: have you ever owned or even shot a firearm?

  9. As to the “What YOU can do about gun violence”, one suggestion I’d have is this:
    If possible, stay away from “Gun-free” zones.

  10. What you can do about gun violence is also to get money out of US politics. Wolf Pac has a plan that seems to be realistic and some first victories.

    Would have with many other political issues and the US culture war in general.

  11. Enon Zey #10,

    Why does it matter whether Greg owns or has fired a gun?

    I see this all the time on comment threads, and it is a symptom of the “gun culture” that he is talking about. What, are you going to lecture us about the difference between auto and semi-auto now?

    If you want to have a serious discussion about what you consider “offensive”, please state your position. I may be a bit more objective about the subject than Greg, since I have handled a fair range of firearms, and hunted, and have been in situations where I (rationally) would have preferred to be armed. I get it.

    But “gun nut” is a perfectly reasonable description of certain behaviors. Like wanting to carry at the mall or at work or on a college campus. Or stockpiling arms and ammunition, and wanting access to large capacity magazines. Or feeling that you have a “right” to buy and sell without being a licensed dealer and keeping records.

    If you think that such behaviors are not indicative of some kind of irrationality, please explain why.

  12. Enon, asking if someone has ever owned a gun does not add anything to this discussion. It derails. Most gun owners’ attitudes about this are not much different from the general population. No one is advocating to take our guns away. Sensible regulation could substantially reduce the number of deaths and injuries without infringing on our rights.

    1. “Enon, asking if someone has ever owned a gun does not add anything to this discussion. It derails. Most gun owners’ attitudes about this are not much different from the general population. No one is advocating to take our guns away. Sensible regulation could substantially reduce the number of deaths and injuries without infringing on our rights.”

      Indeed, the claims about “the gov’ment iz comin’ for me gunz!” that some people make are just stupid, asinine, and false. Seven years so far, and Obama still hasn’t taken my guns

      I want to see ammunition as hard to acquire as it is for black people in Alabama to get a “voter ID.” Create a law that mandates background checks for ammunition, with a two-year permit. Also ban Internet sales of ammunition in the USA.

      A few years ago I purchased 2,000 rounds for my .45 caliber pistol and rifle, in bulk, and received it in two days (about 90 pounds of lead). It only occurred to me how scary that was when I opened the crate.

  13. @Enon Zey – have you ever flown or owned a 747? Then why should you have any opinion on whether pilots should go on a bender before getting into the cockpit?

    Whether someone has owned a gun or not is irrelevant to the discussion of whether the ease of obtaining a gun makes things harder or easier to kill people. And from my perspective it does.

    One of the issues I have with guns is that it makes killing easy and escalates ordinary situations. I haven’t used a gun. I have used other weapons, and even teach people how. One of the fascinating things is that if you carry one around there’s a tendency to want to use it.

    “Don’t pull it out unless you plan to use it” is a good maxim, but with many people it becomes “I want to pull this out because doing so emphasizes my manhood.”

    And one of the other interesting things is that using a hand weapon of any sort takes a lot of training to do right. It’s not easy to kill someone with a knife — it really isn’t. You have to get up close and personal. You have to know what you are about. You have to commit.

    A gun takes part of that away. Guns are frighteningly easy to operate, and separate you from the person you want to kill or injure. that makes it easier to contemplate using one, and it also means that when you’re drunk off a few beers and feeling belligerent you’re much more dangerous. A guy with a knife or sword, even, who is drunk and stupid can only kill a single person at a time and is unlikely to kill anyone else.

    Guns allow you to do something very very stupid very fast, with no time to reflect or even slow down. No other weapon I know of allows for that. it’s why people who advocate carrying a gun everywhere scare the shit out of me. Imagine a local bar where everyone is armed. Oh, that’s going to end really well, huh?

    You want to protect yourself? Fine, use bo (it can be had around the house if you own a mop) or a machete. Carry a knife. I happen to like sais. The targeting is easier, and at close range it’s faster, and you can’t accidentally kill yourself with them. (Well, I suppose you could, but it would be hard to do).

    What, you need to train a bit? Tough luck. You need practice to drive a car too.

    I find it odd that we have all kinds of regulations on hand weapons but have a tough time passing even the most mild restrictions on weapons that do so much more harm and are far more likely to do harm in untrained hands. A guy with a katana is dangerous, but he can’t do anything to anyone if people stay far enough away. There are restrictions on owning such weapons. But guns? No problem! That says something about American values I think, but I am not sure it’s anything good. It’s as though we’d rather that taking life should be easy enough for any fool to do.

  14. It’s all about POWER. The feeling of, and the projection of, personal power.

    The right-wing mentality is built upon a Foundation of Insecurity.

    Wielding a gun is an attempt to compensateand overcome these deep-seated feelings of insecurity through the possession of and association with the gun’s power.

    This does not work, however (but they are blind to this).

    Owning guns does not confer security to the right-wing gun advocate, because it only brings a form of physical security and cannot provide the actual forms of security they ultimately crave for themselves. This creates frustration (which often comes out as anger, bitterness, and callousness towards gun victims).

    When presented with the evidence of the significant collateral damage that goes hand-in-hand with gun ownership (as there is no widespread gun ownership without the violent, bloody deaths such as Roseburg, Sandy Hook, etc. that come as a necessary consequence), it becomes evident that guns not only fail to provide the desired security, but also guns reduce security because of these demonstrated physical risks of having weapons readily available.

    This creates cognitive dissonance within the gun advocate. Pressing them on the issues of these risks and on the inevitable blood letting that will continue to occur heightens this internal tension and aggravates their insecurity; this tends to cause them to double-down on their demand for their security proxies: “More guns are needed” and “if everyone were carrying a gun, society would more secure”, etc.

    The ultimate way out is to find the means of reducing the insecurities of the right-wing gun advocates, so that they no longer see guns as the solution to their fears, but instead see them for what their are: instruments of violence, death, war, and accidents (and suicides) waiting to happen.

    Arguing with them will not achieve this. Attempts to pass intelligent gun-control laws will continue to be seen by them as an attack on them personally, because they are an attempt to take away one of the more tangible things they turn to for security. And this only serves to make them more belligerent towards doing the safe & sane thing for society.

    1. “It will be interesting to see how the investigation in Oregon goes, especially with the sheriff in charge being an amazing dick.”

      The usual “he was hunting Christians” meme has already swept through the “social media,” with the same claims being made that he asked his victims if they believed gods existed or not before he killed them.

  15. @zebra #13 and others

    I asked if Greg had owned or even fired a gun because I was curious, for several reasons.

    I know that people have the right to hold an opinion even on matters about which they have no personal experience. OTOH, I’ve noticed that people who have no personal experience with science, even just some undergraduate lab courses, tend not to understand the ways of scientific thinking. Also, I sort of resent unmarried, supposedly celibate priests presuming to tell us about family planning. And Rush Limbaugh, with no biological children of his own, telling us about family values.

    Secondly, but more importantly, my experience is that people who have never had any firearms experience at all often have a visceral fear and loathing of guns. That makes it difficult to have rational discussions of practical steps to reduce gun violence and has produced some bad legislation.

    There are two issues where I have no political home. One is immigration – just as the American frontier closed, I think the time for high levels of immigration is over, but on ecological grounds. I don’t want to see this part of North America with a population of 500 million, which is what we’re headed for. Unfortunately, the only political parties and organizations who want to restrict immigration are nativist, know-knowing types. Nothing I care to join.

    On gun control, things have polarized between fearful second amendment absolutists, resulting in bad laws, and fearful gun haters, also resulting in bad laws. I’m not comfortable with either side as currently constituted.

    @Raucous Indignation #14

    “No one is advocating to take our guns away.”

    Yes? And just what do you think the Australian model is, if not gun confiscation?

    @Desertphile #15

    Your suggestion we institute background checks for ammunition and ban mail order or internet sales is reasonable, just as we banned mail order sales of guns after the Kennedy assassination. But the most common suggestion I see from gun haters is that ammunition be made very expensive by taxes and fees.

    @Jesse #16

    If you don’t think the ultimate goal of many gun haters is to turn us into England, then I don’t think you’re paying close attention.

    You’re absolutely right, alcohol and powerful machines of any sort don’t mix. That’s a whole another discussion, how can we reduce the power of the liquor lobby and nudge people to more sensible behavior around alcohol without returning to prohibition?

    “One of the fascinating things is that if you carry one around there’s a tendency to want to use it.”

    You’re probably right, at least for some proportion of the male population. But it’s not my experience. When I’m armed I’m more aware and want to avoid confrontations.

    More later.

  16. Jesse +1

    It is ironic that people who favor guns for their lethal efficiency, turn around and promote their proliferation by conflating them with less productive methods of destroying lives.

    The arrogance, meanness, and stupidity are monumental.

  17. “If you don’t think the ultimate goal of many gun haters is to turn us into England, then I don’t think you’re paying close attention.”

    If you think that you are engaging in hyperbole. As is the statement that “the Australian system is confiscation.”

    If you refer to shotguns and rifles, they are still legal, but not as easy to obtain as they were in the past. Estimates for the number of registered guns range from just under 4 to just under 6 million, as of early 2015. People who want a gun must have a license, demonstrate secure storage, and (typically, but there are exceptions) be over 18. Registration (since the mid 90s I believe) had to be by serial number except for some very old weapons (I don’t have the year, but it was roughly 100 years prior) which do not need to be registered at all. Regulated militia? Certainly not confiscation.

    The rate of deaths by firearms has gone down (since the laws were enacted) from a little over 2.5 per 100,000 to roughly 1 per 100,000. Usually we try to avoid assigning cause and effect to results, especially in uncontrolled experiments, but the fact that the major change in Australia in 1996 was the gun laws’ enactment, it is difficult to find many other contributing factors.
    Don’t bother responding with the many “arguments” (from National Review and others of that ilk) that the changes in Australia didn’t result in anything other than a spike in gun violence – they really had to torture the statistics to get there, and in the end all they had was pure crap.

  18. @Enon Zey: I have a better question: Have you been a victim of gun violence? Well…I have. I hate guns. I also know that if I’d had a gun…I’d be dead. You may be too old for this but there was a toothpaste back in the ’60s with an anticavity additive they called Gardol. The “Gardol Shield” protected teeth, they said. Guns are not a Gardol Shield. If we could get rid of cavities, we wouldn’t need the GS. We can, however, get rid of guns. Australia proved it.

  19. To Jesse #16:

    “You want to protect yourself? Fine, use bo (it can be had around the house if you own a mop) or a machete. Carry a knife. I happen to like sais. The targeting is easier, and at close range it’s faster, and you can’t accidentally kill yourself with them. (Well, I suppose you could, but it would be hard to do).”

    That might be fine when the attacker is using a bo or a machete or a knife or a sais.

    But what if the attacker is shooting?

    OR what if he looks better with his sword than you are with yours?
    I’d side with Indy.

  20. The NRO article on the “Australian Model”:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425021/australia-gun-control-obama-america
    …………………….
    I might *briefly* consider giving up my guns,
    as soon as the criminals, crazies and the evil no longer have guns.
    But then, we’d still have this government.

    “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

    “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century
    criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776

  21. @23 – true. My thought was this: This moron not only thought that the Sandy Hook shootings were due to multiple shooters, he actively questioned the findings and conjectured that some of the parents were “crisis actors”.

    It’s scary that someone with that history of foolishness is still trusted to be in office. I sure as hell would not want him overseeing any shooting at my son’s school.

  22. Hey, dean#24,

    I wonder if your realize how sad what you said really is.

    I was able to listen to most of President Obama’s interaction with the “mainstream press”. If anyone gets it, this President does. Are we really having discussions about who we want “overseeing a shooting at your son’s school?”.

    I don’t believe in prayer, but if I did, I would pray that this never comes up for you. I’m waiting for Enon to explain what it is about gun ownership that is so important that you and other parents have to even think about such a thing.

    Yes Enon, I get how you feel. Do you get how dean, who has a son, feels?

  23. Zebra, I’m genuinely confused about your point. My comment was about this sheriff, who has demonstrated that he has a screw loose (imo) due to his comments about Sandy Hook.
    I won’t say I haven’t said something stupid, but I can’t tell what it would be from your post.

  24. dean, I said it was sad– you have a son, and it breaks my heart to think about you facing that situation. You don’t understand that?

    Maybe it’s too much time on the internet. For me, sad still mean sad.

  25. Apologies zebra – I took the “sad” as a reference to some intent of what I said.

    I spent 3 hours in our local Nature Center woods today walking and taking pictures just to relax after a long week. Apparently I relaxed my reading comprehension away.

  26. I read today that the Congressional Research Service reported that the number of privately owned firearms in America went from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million in 2009, and that homicides involving firearms dropped from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.

    1. “….and that homicides involving firearms dropped from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.”

      Indeed, cleaner air and water, and the end of the Bush2 Recession, and an increasing secular population, has lowered the number of almost all crimes in the USA.

  27. I am an Australian, and maybe Enon Zey’s comment about the Australian model gives me some right to comment.

    I am a great admirer of the US, which has given so much to the world including the technology that I am using at the moment. Our countries are very similar, geographically large, Western, federal democracies with capitalist economies and a British heritage. Our societies though have some major differences, especially over this issue of guns.

    I am a liberal (1) and cannot understand the US gun culture. I have many Conservative friends, most of whom would be Tea Party supporters if they lived in the States. All of my Conservative mates have a similar attitude to guns as mine. We are amazed that a country as great as the US has ended up in this horrific mess.

    I have only known one person who owned a gun – he hunted ducks. All of his work colleagues thought him a kook.

    Australia’s response to the “Port Arthur Massacre” in 1996 is instructive. Our Conservative Prime Minister, John Howard implemented a gun buy back and a restriction of the types of guns that could be privately owned in this country. Howard implemented these policies in the face of opposition from his own base, particularly in rural areas. It is possible that only a Conservative could have effectively responded to Port Arthur. Such policies would have been more sternly resisted if implemented by the left of centre Labor Party. This holds some lessons for the US on Climate Policy. Will any important Conservative politician stand up to the Republican base on Climate?

    (1) I don’t describe myself as a liberal to my fellow Aussies, as our major Conservative party is the “Liberal Party”. It is liberal in the 19th century sense rather than in a way that would mean liberal in contemporary USA.

  28. See Noevo:

    “OR what if he looks better with his sword than you are with yours? I’d side with Indy.”

    Actually, the Indy clip demonstrates exactly why having armed bozos with concealed weapons responding to imagined or even real threats is a very dangerous idea.

    Because most, when confronted by an armed opponent, are going to either piss their pants or get the shakes or both. When they unload their 19 round Glock they may or may not hit their target. They won’t hit their target with every round. And in a crowded scene, such as See Noevo’s, those round are going to end up hitting innocent bystanders. It happens with trained police officers who often find themselves in stressful and potentially dangerous situations, and should be more likely to handle themselves well in such a situation than an armed bozo (or See Noevo).

    It was a movie, See Noevo. Indy was firing blanks. His target was acting. It’s not reality.

    Reality is losing a leg at 9 because, when you’re sleeping over at a friends, the two of you hear a noise in the back yard and your friend’s single mom hauls out a 12 gauge and accidently lets lose about five feet from you.

    Reality is getting shot in the gut because some punks stole a gun in a jewelry store at night, kept under the counter, for protection, then use it to shoot you while robbing your neighborhood grocery store.

    Yes, I am the victim of gun violence, the 9 year old was my neighbor and very good friend, while the second was my father-in-law at the time. and I’ve shot guns but own none.

    I know no one who has successfully defended themselves from an armed criminal with a firearm.

    1. “I know no one who has successfully defended themselves from an armed criminal with a firearm.”

      In an area where there are many people running and/or hiding, every single Good Guy With A Gun looks and often acts exactly like every single Bad Guy With A Gun ; law enforcement officers cannot tell them apart, and must assume everyone with a gun is a valid and justified target. Potential victims must also assume every Good Guy With A Gun is there to kill them.

      The stupid shits walking around with hand guns and rifles in shopping malls, and in restaurants, don’t seem to have the brain power to understand why sane people are required to assume the gun-holders are there to kill people.

  29. “I know no one who has successfully defended themselves from an armed criminal with a firearm.”

    I might also add that when my father-in-law was shot while his grocery store was being robbed, with a gun stolen from a jewelry store where it had been kept for protection, my brother-in-law was in the back with a rifle. He coudn’t get a shot off during the robbery because his dad was in the line of fire and he was afraid if he exposed himself by moving to a better spot they’d see him and open fire themselves. As it happened, they shot his father and ran out the door unscathed.

  30. “I know no one who has successfully defended themselves from an armed criminal with a firearm.”

    Happens a lot in movies. Records show it to be so rare in real life that it is almost non-existent.

  31. ““….and that homicides involving firearms dropped from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.”

    Yes, and it indicates an interesting pattern of action by folks like sn.
    On the one hand the cry is that guns are needed to protect people and their property from the ever-increasing threat of assault, robbery, and murder that is plaguing the country, even though numbers show significant decreases in such things.
    On the other hand, in cases like this, they lower themselves to touch on facts and say “See, nothing to worry about even though there are more guns around.”
    Whether they don’t realize how two-faced they are, or they simply don’t care, I can’t tell (I do have strong suspicions).

  32. “I might *briefly* consider giving up my guns,
    as soon as the criminals, crazies and the evil no longer have guns.” – SN

    You *are* one of the “crazies and the evil.”

    Also you are stupid.

  33. 34,35

    On the other hand, police officers, who receive at least some firearms training, appear to be good at defending themselves from not-armed, not-criminals who pose no threat. With deadly force.

    Go figure.

    Yes, the happy endings of hollywood ignore what happens in the real world of buck fever.

  34. On the actual statistical front….

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/number-of-households-with-guns-on-the-decline-study-shows/

    Which brings up one of the issues Enon Zey will apparently not be addressing– an increase in purchases, and where the guns end up.

    There’s no way this country will become Australia or UK or Canada, or any of those other places where it is so horrible and dangerous to live. You will always be able to drive around Montana with that rifle in your pickup. But it might be nice if people in urban centers could prevent trafficking from states with few restrictions and little enforcement.

    Some 14-yr old gang initiate doesn’t acquire a firearm from the local gun shop or the local bodega or from international smugglers (hollywood again). It almost certainly comes from someplace in the former Confederacy, straw-purchased and laundered through “sportsman shows” as we call them now.

    But I guess illegal trafficking is protected by the constitution?

  35. “law enforcement officers cannot tell them apart”

    True. One veteran, John Parker, was on the campus, was carrying a sidearm, and made just such a comment:

    “Luckily we made the choice not to get involved,” he explained. “We were quite a distance away from the building where this was happening. And we could have opened ourselves up to be potential targets ourselves, and not knowing where SWAT was, their response time, they wouldn’t know who we were. And if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think that we were bad guys.”

    One of my students, a former Green Beret (who, I will assume, knew something about handling weapons) talked to me shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings some years ago. He was much less polite about the “citizen loons with guns” so many claimed could have stopped that. Essentially, his argument was “shooting at targets in a training range teaches you how to avoid shooting your nuts off and qualify to have a gun. It doesn’t teach you shit about how to handle a gun in a situation where there are other people around, with at least one person shooting back. It’s hard to teach us those skills in the military. Civilians with guns in that situation are as useless as balls on a priest.”

    Yes, anecdotes are not data points, but it is an interesting view.

  36. Me: “… privately owned firearms in America went from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million in 2009, and that homicides involving firearms dropped from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.”

    Desert-baked: “Indeed, cleaner air and water, and the end of the Bush2 Recession, and an increasing secular population, has lowered the number of almost all crimes in the USA.”

    That’s different.
    A global warmer/liberal saying
    1) our air and water are getting cleaner,
    2) the cleaner air and water is a crime stopper, and
    3) fewer religious people means fewer crimes.

    1. “A global warmer/liberal saying”

      A what?

      “1) our air and water are getting cleaner,”

      Our? No. The, yes.

      “2) the cleaner air and water is a crime stopper, and”

      Stop? No. Decrease, yes. It is an observed fact that when pollution in an area increases, crime increases. When pollution in an area decreases, crime decreases. The single greatest step any and all countries can take to reduce violent crime is to reduce environmental lead.

      “3) fewer religious people means fewer crimes.”

      Yes, that is also an observed fact. The less religious a country is, the less violent it is and the fewer crimes. Even in the USA, the fewer religious people in each state correlates with fewer crimes; I gave a presentation on the subject, using FBI data and religious affiliation survey data.

      Did you have a point? I stated three facts regarding why murder has been decreasing in the USA, and you repeated them. Why?

      By the way, violence is also associated with ambient heat; as the world continues to warm, violence will continue to rise.

  37. To dhogaza #34:

    “I know no one who has successfully defended themselves from an armed criminal with a firearm.”

    I don’t think I do either.
    But I’ve read of a lot of people who defended themselves or stopped crimes with firearms. For almost two years I was keeping a file of news stories about such. I saw about two per month on average. Here are a couple:

    http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/local/2014/07/03/wheelchair-bound-homeowner-kills-intruder-officers-say/12196521/

    http://www.waff.com/story/25182262/burglary-suspect-recovering-from-gunshot-wound

  38. Regarding the story in #43:

    Questions for (concealed-carrying against school policy) veteran John Parker:

    1) “Saying he does conceal carry in case “I’m in close proximity” to an incident where he might try to save some lives…”:
    Would Parker have used his firearm if he HAD BEEN in close proximity to the shooter, and had not been quite a distance away from the building where this was happening?

    2) “Parker admitted he’s not the type who believes that “there’s always somebody out there behind your back ready to do something like this.”:
    Who in this world DOES believe this? I don’t know of anyone who believes this.

  39. This is a question for Desertphile or anyone who lives in an area as he describes (#49) where people actually do carry guns in malls and restaurants.

    WTF do the police do? What does a citizen do? Ignore it? In my part of the country, 911 would be flooded with calls.

    1. “This is a question for Desertphile or anyone who lives in an area as he describes (#49) where people actually do carry guns in malls and restaurants. WTF do the police do? What does a citizen do? Ignore it? In my part of the country, 911 would be flooded with calls.”

      It is extremely rare that some asshole will carry a firearm into a business where I live. Where I live (the poorest region of northern New Mexico), rifles and hand guns are handled by almost everyone, from a young age; they are necessary tools when working cattle from horseback when up on the remote mesas and isolated canyons, and the Jicarilla Apaches hunt deer and elk as a family duty (a man who cannot or will not, is not a man). So we understand how goddamn bloody dangerous it is to carry firearms, and we don’t do so in public places and in businesses.

      It’s the young white Anglo males from the cities that are the problems. When they show up with a pistol in their pants waistband or a rifle hung on a shoulder (which thankfully is extremely rare in Northern New Mexico), we call the state police and the police rush into the area by the dozens. The police rightfully must assume that anyone with a firearm in a public place is there to kill people.

      That is not the case in most areas of Arizona, and parts of west Texas. The local culture is accustomed to seeing men with hand guns at hardware stores and driving in bars. People do not call the police when they see this, because it has been the case for over 100 years and is nothing new.

      No Pueblo Indian, Apache, Genizaro, Mexican, or cattle worker in Northern New Mexico would ever think a hand gun is appropriate to have on a college campus, as a student or staff. It’s the lazy, uneducated, coddled, obese, self-entitled, angry, frightened, pasty-white young males that do, and that’s cause for concern.

  40. See Novo: Regarding “Desert-baked: “Indeed, cleaner air and water, and the end of the Bush2 Recession, and an increasing secular population, has lowered the number of almost all crimes in the USA.””

    Start being respectful to your fellow commenters by not messing up their names, please.

  41. The association between how many guns, the nature of gun laws, and the number and nature of homicides is complex and it is easy to cherry pick and find whatever you want. It is not surprising to me that the complexity is beyond the capacities of many individuals who also happen to be climate science deniers, because that is also complex.

    Anyway, there is an overall association between numbers of guns and amount of killing and death/injury. But some of the hikes in numbers (like the Obama Gun Crisis spikes) are people who already own guns buying more guns. that would be an example of complexity. Cases where gun laws are restrictive or more numerous are often associated with regions where there has been a lot of gun related morbidity and mortality. Band aids are found more often on wounds than on non-wounds. This is expected. Also, it is complex.

    Overall, though, more guns = more bullets hitting more people.

    I added an interesting chart to the end of the post because I thought it related to this discussion.

  42. Sn, is it imposible for you to fins anything on your own. First did you read his comment and understand it?

    Google his name and you can find his article. In case you are too lazy to do that (as you always seem to be) he also said he and other students were taken into a classroom by a faculty member who locked the door. The faculty member asked if anyone was armed in case the gunman made it to their roo. He (the veteran inquoted) said he was and in the article said he would have used ilhis weapon if the need arose there.
    I’m not sure how you mablnage to misinterpret the rest of his comment. I’m guessing it was intentional on your part, as usual.

  43. “But I’ve read of a lot of people who defended themselves or stopped crimes with firearms. ”

    That would be amazing, because official records show it is extremely rare.
    I should say – it would be amazing if the reports you read were real – I have no doubt there are many fake stories floating around.

    1. “That would be amazing, because official records show it is extremely rare. I should say – it would be amazing if the reports you read were real – I have no doubt there are many fake stories floating around.”

      Indeed, many of the “a gun saved my life” stories appear to by mythical.

      Some people argue that hand guns deter violence. The problem with that argument is that so damn many USA citizens don’t give a shit if they die, or they have no idea what death means (no, really). People handle guns as if they are toys. In the most recent Los Angeles riot, there are videos of people threatening looters with hand guns, and the looters showed no worry or concern at all at lethal threat.

  44. Greg, with reference to #50, I think President Obama did a pretty good job of un-complicating it. He pointed out that there are angry young men in other countries, there’s crime in other countries, there’s mental instability in other countries.

    While he didn’t use the expression, Ockham’s Razor cuts quite cleanly here. Is there something special about our angry, criminal, disturbed young men? Is being homicidal one of the things that makes us exceptional?

    Or is it simply that the easy availability of guns makes for more deaths when those individuals act out according to their natures?

    This is the kind of question for which the term “no-brainer” was invented. We don’t need fancy statistical analysis, just common sense.

  45. To Greg Laden #50:

    The ‘violence & guns’ issue may be intricate, indeed.
    You used a form of the word “association” three times, and of “complex” five times,
    but “cause” not once.

    “Overall, though, more guns = more bullets hitting more people.”

    And overall, more cars = more traffic fatalities.

    Maybe we should ban cars, too. It might even help with global warming!

  46. Me: “But I’ve read of a lot of people who defended themselves or stopped crimes with firearms. For almost two years I was keeping a file of news stories about such. I saw about two per month on average. Here are a couple…”
    And here are a couple more:

    http://wbtw.com/2014/10/21/1-dead-after-nc-grandfather-fires-back-at-trio-in-attempted-rape-of-teen-granddaughter-sheriff-says/

    http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/Suspect-Shot-by-Homeowner-during-Burglary-Attempt-249080051.html

  47. To zebra #54:

    “…President Obama did a pretty good job of un-complicating it. He pointed out that there are angry young men in other countries, there’s crime in other countries, there’s mental instability in other countries…Is there something special about our angry, criminal, disturbed young men? Is being homicidal one of the things that makes us exceptional? Or is it simply that the easy availability of guns makes for more deaths when those individuals act out according to their natures? This is the kind of question for which the term “no-brainer” was invented. We don’t need fancy statistical analysis, just common sense.”

    Your argument does SEEM to be a “no-brainer”.

    Unfortunately for you and President Obama, one of the OTHER things that makes the U.S. exceptional is our Constitution and its Second Amendment. It’ll be tough to change those.

    Also, I’m not sure things are so much better in other countries that are less-gunny than us.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

  48. It’s the young white Anglo males from the cities that are the problems.

    Yeah, we have a bunch of young-to-middle aged white guys on the east side of Michigan who are currently all butt-hurt because one of their group was removed from an elementary school when he sauntered in with a pistol in a holster on his waist.

  49. Greg:

    Thank you for posting that chart at the bottom of the post.

    Very interesting.

    I also live in Minnesota and have a permit to carry (although I own no firearms).

    I obtained one just to exercise my 2nd amendment right (and for fun).

    One nice feature of the permit to carry in Minnesota is that you are pre-cleared, so you can obtain a handgun without the waiting period – just walk in and walk out with a weapon (if you needed one fast for the zombie apocalypse).

    You can already get a rifle in Minnesota without a waiting period – the waiting period is just for handguns (at least that is my understanding).

    It was pretty easy to get a permit to carry in Minnesota – take a four hour class, demonstrate proficiency (shooting 15 rounds at 15 feet and 15 rounds at 25 feet, if I recall correctly – pretty easy) and fill out a form and pay a fee.

    You get a nice card and everything.

    It also shows on the back of your drivers license.

    What is your perspective on the chart and where Minnesota falls?

    From my perspective, Minnesota is pretty low among states, and I wonder if you think we are an anomaly?

    Just curious.

    By the way – thanks for not banning me from your site.

    You are very tolerant in letting me post about global warming, and I really appreciate it and enjoy your site and sparring with your other guests.

    1. “By the way – thanks for not banning me from your site.”

      Thank you for doing nothing worthy of being banned for.

  50. RickA,

    First, the chart is a bit misleading in the sense that there are background checks. The question is, where do most Minnesotans buy their guns? What percentage of guns are linked to background checks?

    In any event, as I said above, the relationship is complex. More gun laws can reduce gun misuse. Or, more gun laws can be a response to widespread violence from guns. That is the reason that the chart is made the way it is. The blue blocks are meant to demonstrate the overall gestalt of the legal and social response to gun ownership, and this grades as expected under the hypothesis that more regulation generally reduces the violence.

    Note that in Minnesota the vast majority of citizens want universal background checks. The reason there is not such a rule is because our legislature/governor have almost always been “mixed government” (neither DFL nor GOP in charge in all houses/branches) or GOP only, for a long time. We had a brief DFL only government, but they were swamped with fixing up the mess left behind by a GOP/GOP/GOP mix for several years. Background checks were proposed, opposed in the legislature by the minority, supported by the citizens, but the gun lobby won.

    Expect the background check boxes for this chart in Minnesota to turn blue eventually.

  51. I agree that background checks are inevitable in Minnesota and probably in the entire United States.

    With the permit to carry in Minnesota – it includes a background check – and really it would be fine with me if they did a background check before someone purchased their first gun.

    Not sure how many times you need to do it – but maybe every 5 years (like the permit to carry renewal).

  52. By the way – I should also say that I don’t think a background check violates the 2nd amendment.

    So that sort of legislation, so look for mentally ill people, is probably fine.

    On the other hand – since so many of the gun deaths are suicide related (like 2/3rds), I think barring anyone who ever attempted to commit suicide (and obviously failed) from getting a gun, just because they tried to commit suicide – would probably not be held constitutional.

    I guess it also depends on your definition of mental illness – do only mentally ill people commit suicide? What about terminally ill people?

    Do we bar people with depression or bipolar disorder from getting guns?

    I see a lot of grey areas and difficulties with background checks and trying to only find mental illnesses which might increase the risk of harm to others (as opposed to the person who buys the gun harming themselves).

    I actually see the right to die becoming a personal right at some point (who is the government to tell me I cannot kill myself)?

    After all – most of the anti-suicide laws are religious in nature .

  53. #70 People in favor of “common sense” gun laws, who wish to disarm the law abiding populace in order to disarm the criminal underclass often point to Australia as an example of positive reform. The link in #67 demonstrates that there are still events where criminals get their hands on firearms and use them to kill people, even when response times from police are absolutely minimal (as this occurred just outside a police station).

    From the story:
    “A police source said there had been increased “chatter” detected in the past week relating to a possible attack on the Parramatta headquarters.

    The officer, who works at the State Crime Command headquarters, said that every officer had been ordered to wear their guns on them at all times this week, even while at their desks.”

    So, in response to “chatter”, there was an order to keep weapons handy. If weapons were not at hand, one can imagine the carnage would have been much greater.

    It doesn’t get much more “common sense” than that, thanks for asking.

  54. To Desertphile #63:

    “Did you have a point? I stated three facts regarding why murder has been decreasing in the USA, and you repeated them. Why?”

    Why? For entertainment value.

    In fact some of them are so good I’ll show them again:

    – ‘OUR air and water are NOT getting cleaner, but THE air and water ARE getting cleaner.’

    – “It is an observed fact that when pollution in an area increases, crime increases. When pollution in an area decreases, crime decreases. The single greatest step any and all countries can take to reduce violent crime is to reduce environmental lead.”

    – “The less religious a country is, the less violent it is and the fewer crimes. Even in the USA, the fewer religious people in each state correlates with fewer crimes.”

  55. It was pretty easy to get a permit to carry in Minnesota – take a four hour class, demonstrate proficiency … and fill out a form and pay a fee.

    Which is inadequate. All states should require not only demonstrating proficiency in how to correctly point and discharge a firearm, but also demonstrate:

    * Proficiency in safety issues, safety features, etc. I.e., show that you know how to be sure that a loaded gun only ends up in the right hands under the right circumstances.

    * Proficient knowledge of the laws and legal issues surrounding shooting another human being (civil and criminal). I.e., know what you’re going to face when you decide to shoot vs finding another solution to your “situation”.

    * Proficiency in treating gunshot trauma victims (suicide attempts, accidental discharge, kids playing with guns, domestic violence victims) — to the level of being able to increase the odds of their survival until paramedics arrive to take over.

  56. Do we bar people with depression or bipolar disorder from getting guns?

    If you don’t, you might as well advocate for allowing children to carry loaded guns, too. You’ll get similar results in the end.

  57. RickA, Ron,

    Most of the time, the problem with these discussions is that there is no specificity, which leads to rhetorical fallacies cropping up–like the Nirvana Fallacy (it isn’t a good idea because it wouldn’t be perfect) and Slippery Slope (if guns are registered they will be confiscated).

    So, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, we have a problem with trafficking, because individuals are allowed to sell guns to other individuals, and of course there are no real background checks when that happens. This provides access for gang members and the mentally ill as well.

    How would you fix that? Or does the second amendment say something about your ability to sell your gun to your cousin, who may be a little shady, or a little unstable, so you have a constitutional right to do that?

    And what does it say about buying dozens of handguns and not being required to account for them– is that a part of “keeping and bearing arms” by an individual as interpreted by SCOTUS?

    These are the kinds of common sense issues that most people would probably agree need to be addressed. What do you think?

  58. Brainstorms 77,

    This obsession with the mentally ill is just a red herring– and equating people suffering from depression with children is both absurd and offensive.

  59. Brainstorms #76:

    Gun safety and the legal issues is part of the 4 hours.

    No treating gunshot trauma required in Minnesota.

    I guess that will be up to each state.

    Here is an idea (just running it by you):

    Draft everybody when they turn 18 for a 2 week intensive training course in firearm safety, medical stuff as you outline above, and reactive fire in a crowd training, etc.

    Then make everybody do a weekend per year to brush up on their skills.

    Then require everybody to own a firearm and allow them to carry it if they want (carry optional).

    I think the Federal Government could also do that – what do you think of that idea?

  60. #78 A bit off topic, but suicides are regularly cited as a reason to restrict Rights also. A woman just used drain cleaner to blind herself. http://tinyurl.com/pu28mb7 Shall we ban all things that are harmful to humans? Sometimes people misuse products. http://tinyurl.com/pjfbdmw I hear you saying that weapons are designed to do what they are doing…but I believe weapons can be used virtuously. You do too, that’s why you call the cops, to virtuously use their weapons.

    Prisons are very secure. Even so, contraband finds its way in. http://tinyurl.com/oyvmuja That’s when you ARE treating everyone like a criminal. On the free side of society, we’re supposed to give people liberty.

    SCOTUS is not the final authority, nor should it be (Dred Scott?). I can appreciate that now it’s become the ATM for Uber Rights based on behavior instead of immutable characteristics that you might agree with them, but I won’t even cite Heller or McDonald in order to dash your faith in that august group.

    Trafficking is a problem, but why would another set of laws change anything? Background checks are a joke (less than 6% of “prohibited people” caught applying are prosecuted http://tinyurl.com/d65aedq ).

    How would I address these issues? I would not begin with civil government having final authority over the matter, because they simply don’t. Civil govt isn’t around when someone wants to break the law. This is where a strong family unit and upward mobility (aka hope and effort towards a better future) govern one’s actions. But when all the available energy is being pumped into destroying the economy and the family unit (aka societal deterioration), you shouldn’t be surprised that people misuse a product that can be used virtuously.

  61. zebra:

    Yep – those are tough problems you outline.

    The 2nd amendment would permit registration laws (you get to keep and bear, but you have to disclose).

    If you had a garage sale and sold firearms, a law could require you to register the new owner (like a car title).

    You could even require a background check and waiting period before you transfer the property to the new owner.

    A good registration law would take care of both the number and resale of guns (and background checks). A gun is like any other piece of personal property – so if the government wanted to, they could make you register how many lawn chairs you own, and who you sell them to (i.e. at a garage sale).

    Of course, they wouldn’t do it for lawn chairs – but they could if they wanted.

    Same thing for guns – they could if they wanted.

    I am not advocating this – just saying how your problems could be addressed with a constitutional law.

    You could also make it illegal to resell a gun with no serial no. – but that is already illegal and happens all the time so never mind.

    Criminals will not abide by any of the laws I am talking about anyway.

  62. Brainstorms #77:

    I doubt the depressed or bipolar would agree with you.

    How long would you preclude them from getting a gun?

    What if a depressed woman had a stalker?

    What if a depressed woman had a restraining order?

    What if a depressed person had completed treatment and were not symptomatic?
    For 1 year or 5 or 10 or 20?

    What if you were misdiagnosed as depressed?

    You see the legal morass you are getting into with this line of thinking?

    Lots of potential problems.

    Still, I am sure something fairly minor could be enacted – but I am not sure how much good it will do.

    It is a little bit like passing a law wishing that people would just be nice to each other.

  63. zebra, I was not equating people suffering from depression with children. Accusing me of doing so is both absurd and offensive.

    I was equating outcomes from giving both groups loaded weapons.

    I expect you to discern the difference.

  64. Apparently sn is also ignorant of any results from social statistics, and doesn’t think environmental lead is a hazard (or if it is people should just move away). That’s the result of never learning math past basic addition and subtraction and never studying “anything that doesn’t have a direct application” – at least in his point of view.

    Here in Michigan the city of Flint has been having no end of problems with its water supply since a governor-appointed city manager moved them off a supply of water from Detroit “to save money”. The reason they were on Detroit water was because of problems with the infrastructure in Flint being outdated, with massive lead problems. Now tests show the local water, in homes and schools, has nasty high lead levels (not that there is a safe lead level) and the recommendation from government to date has been: don’t drink the water, buy bottled water. Not a viable option for many of the residents of the city, or for the school district. (Of course, as one tea-bager in the region said on a news site, “If a kid’s family can’t afford bottled water he wouldn’t have a chance of success anyway.” Right up sn’s alley, write off a generation because they don’t have the benefits he enjoys. We also know that the local/state government had not done the required safety/health investigations of the infrastructure, and did not have a plan in place to deal with problems such as this.

    http://flintwaterstudy.org/2015/09/commentary-mdeq-mistakes-deception-flint-water-crisis/

    Thanks Governor Snyder.

    (Latest discussions lean toward putting the city back on the pipeline from Detroit, but without the state picking up the tab, leaving that for the city. Because why should a state government be concerned with the health of residents it put at danger?)

  65. The link in #67 demonstrates that there are still events where criminals get their hands on firearms and use them to kill people,

    Yes it does. The only people who try to claim that the types of laws discussed here will magically stop people who want to get a gun and do something from doing it are the people misrepresenting the intent of the laws.
    The point is that we have ample evidence that shows such laws do not hinder gun rights but do result in a reduction of gun crime – partly by their existence, partly by the increased enforcement.

  66. Rick A

    “Criminals will not abide by any of the laws I am talking about anyway.”

    ?

    As opposed to the kind of laws criminals will abide by?

    So, you are basically making the Nirvana Fallacy argument. It will not be perfect. But no laws are perfect in their implementation, so you would then logically have to argue that we should have no laws at all. You are obviously smarter than that, but you are trying to defend an indefensible position.

    The government doesn’t register lawn chair sales because it can’t demonstrate a compelling interest. It does regulate automobile sales. That’s because autos are items that can be stolen easily and resold, and requiring title transfers inhibits that process. Not perfectly, since VIN numbers can also be fudged, but it makes it much riskier and not nearly as profitable net.

    There is no reason for anyone to buy dozens of handguns, but even if you argue that you are a collector, you should not object to demonstrating that the items are in your possession on demand. If, indeed, we have a law that requires sales to be made through licensed businesses or registered with at state agency, that’s hardly a burden.

  67. I think Hillary and Bernie (and Biden?) should put ‘more aggressive gun control measures’ at the top of their respective presidential platforms.

    Don’t you?

  68. RickA #83: You see the legal morass you are getting into with this line of thinking? Lots of potential problems.

    These are not hypotheticals; we already have analogues in our laws:

    Someone is diagnosed with epilepsy or macular degeneration… Does the DMV allow them to keep their driver’s license?

    Do you want them to?

    Why does the DMV not allow 14-year-olds to get a driver’s license?

    Do you want them to?

    How about for convicted drink drivers?

    “You see the legal morass you are already in with this line of thinking? Lots of potential problems.”

  69. 88 “I think Hillary and Bernie (and Biden?) should put ‘more aggressive gun control measures’ at the top of their respective presidential platforms.”

    Why do you think that?

    1. “I think Hillary and Bernie (and Biden?) should put ‘more aggressive gun control measures’ at the top of their respective presidential platforms.”

      Why do you think that?


      He doesn’t “think” it, I suspect. He wishes to believe that politicians who say they wish to prevent firearm murders are committing political suicide; he is of course correct— the USA’s culture of death and fear would never allow voters to support measures preventing murder by hand guns and rifles. USA citizens love killing and mailing people easily and from a distance: it’s as American as Napalm from 30,000 feet.

      I like the idea being spread around Facebook at the moment:

      “How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because).

      “Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

      It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

  70. To Desertphile #91:

    “I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

    Right. But tens of millions of women have killed over 55 million other people in the U.S. in the last 40 years.

    1. “Right. But tens of millions of women have killed over 55 million other people in the U.S. in the last 40 years.”

      Heh. Why was that not mentioned in any news media?

  71. To Desertphile:

    You’re ready and willing to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds, aren’t you?

    I wouldn’t be.

    But you are, right?

    1. “You’re ready and willing to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds, aren’t you?”

      Huh? I don’t get it, sorry. Why in the world would I wish to “surrender” my weapons?

  72. @88. See Noevo : I think Obama should act and start adding reasonable gun laws into the US legal system right now. I think the other politicians form both parties should support him on that too.

    I wish I could see that happen although I know it won’t.

  73. To Greg Laden #90:

    Me: “I think Hillary and Bernie (and Biden?) should put ‘more aggressive gun control measures’ at the top of their respective presidential platforms. Don’t you?”

    You: “Why do you think that?”

    Well, for starters, for all the reasons you cite.
    Please re-read both your piece and President Obama’s statement http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/10/02/president-obamas-statement-on-shootings-in-oregon/.

    At a minimum, ‘more aggressive gun control measures’ should be in the top two of their platform positions.

    The other, of course, would be ‘more aggressive measures to combat anthropogenic global warming/climate change’.

    And the more detailed the policy positions with their impacts on the various stakeholders, the better.

    It’s the only right and decent thing to do, for them and for you.

  74. @Brainstorms,

    The incident StevoR references should give some insight into why you can’t focus on the mentally ill in this context. The issue is the gun culture, not the aberrant behavior of the individual.

    When I was in elementary school, there was this classic bully– the kid who got a growth spurt, and was also really heavy (for those days), and who physically tormented everyone during recess. One day, he tormented me one too many times– the really skinny little kid in the class. It was my first fight, and I had no clue what I was doing– but I had rage, and I was fast and well coordinated. I remember this still because I went far beyond knocking him down, and got in some serious trouble over it. No psych counseling unfortunately in those days, and it took a lot of time and trouble before I worked it (mostly) out.

    But there was no shotgun in the schoolyard, and in all the tv westerns I watched, the good guy never pulled his gun except as a last resort. If not for that rage, I might have been the hero, and maybe there would have been a hollywood ending where we became good buddies as we matured.

    If you look at the rage shooters– ex-wife, family, that little girl– it is pretty much what I did as a child. They lose it, but the culture says shooting is the first resort, and the guns are there. No chance at all for a hollywood ending, or even eventually growing up and rejecting violence.

    If you look at the history of most of the planned mass shooters, they are not hearing voices or hallucinating. They have personality issues, and are immature, and internalize some distorted, paranoid view of the world, and again guns are part of their coping mechanism. My goodness, now we have two at least living with their mothers who take them to the shooting range?

    And in the criminal culture, the same applies. It isn’t the Jets and Sharks fighting it out with knives and chains, where the appearance of a gun is a Big Deal. SN points out that there is violence in the UK; yep, and something like one fifth of the homicide rate. Go figure.

    It isn’t about mental illness, and it isn’t even about safety training. It’s what Desertphile says– it’s about recognizing firearms as tools, not ornaments or statements, or, as you described early on, as a psychological defense against the insecurities imposed on us by just– reality. The gun culture makes that exceedingly difficult.

  75. Brainstorms #89:

    Good examples.

    In Minnesota getting diagnosed with epilepsy or macular degeneration does not result in lose of drivers license.

    If you have a seizure while driving – you are supposed to report it and then be seizure free for 3 months before getting permission to drive again.

    For vision issues – you have to fail the drivers renewal test.

    14 year olds can drive on the farm in Minnesota and many do (and own guns).

    So you are correct – these are real world issues and the response to these are nuanced and do not demonstrate that all mentally ill people will be banned from owning guns just because they are depressed or bipolar.

    I am afraid gun control is not a very simple issue, and background checks, while they can certainly be beefed up, will not stop future mass shootings.

    Especially if the nuance which your examples demonstrate are extended to mental illness (which they will be).

  76. Zebra #93:

    Yes – it seems to me that these most recent mass shooting are not rage shootings.

    They are well planned, cool, calculated events, committed by people who all obtained guns legally, well in advance of their actions.

    I think this is a way young people are committing suicide, death by mass killing.

    If they don’t get shot – they kill themselves.

    Not sure how to stop it – because even if all guns were taken away, I am sure this type of person would still find a way to die by mass killing.

  77. ” I think Obama should act and start adding reasonable gun laws into the US legal system right now. I think the other politicians form both parties should support him on that too.”

    The phrase “both parties” implies the USA only has two political parties.

  78. “Huh? I don’t get it, sorry. Why in the world would I wish to “surrender” my weapons?”

    I’ll take a stab at it:
    Because you’re a victim and don’t know it. If they can take away your slaves, they can and will do absolutely anything. Now is not the time for reason. It is not the time for understanding or nuance or complexity. Now is the time for blind hysteria, paranoia, and berserk whininess against the pagans who refuse to live in the nineteenth century bible belt. For verily the Lord sayeth unto you hug thou, kiss, and fondle your assault weapons lest ye be barbecued and eaten by liberals and goblins. Lo! Verily! And Hallelujah!

    Plus mindlessness is fun and easy.

  79. To Desertphile #100:

    Me: “You’re ready and willing to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds, aren’t you?”

    You: “Huh? I don’t get it, sorry. Why in the world would I wish to “surrender” my weapons?”

    Well, in THIS world, if you lived in Australia, would you have refused to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds?

  80. Hopefully, this comment comes out of “moderation” soon. (I didn’t bring up abortion, Desertphile did.)

    To Desertphile #91:

    “I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

    Right. But tens of millions of women have killed over 55 million other people in the U.S. in the last 40 years.

  81. Desertphile, sn doesn’t need to give a reason for what he says, the fact that he says something automatically means it is correct. /snark

    You have to wonder how he would respond to a demand that the Republican “candidates” remove all the bigotry, racism, and outright lies from their campaigns.
    I doubt he would endorse removal of things that are fact free, as are the positions and statements from the right: he only has problems with things that are fact based.

  82. Zebra: The incident StevoR references should give some insight into why you can’t focus on the mentally ill in this context.

    I’m not. But you sure are. Your emotional issues over it seem to have blinded you to where you can’t see the simple point that was being made. This isn’t about the mentally ill. I suggest you just drop it.

  83. RickA: I am afraid gun control is not a very simple issue, and background checks, while they can certainly be beefed up, will not stop future mass shootings.

    I’m glad that you got the point. We cannot simply wave the 2nd Amendment over our heads and say, “The Bill of Rights is clear and obvious: Guns For Everyone!”

    There are many dangerous things in the world that are regulated & restricted by society. There are many situations and conditions of people that necessarily restrict what they can & can’t do and what they can & can’t possess, all in the interests of public safety.

    Guns are not excluded from these considerations, the 2nd Amendment notwithstanding. Just because the 2nd Amendment does not explicitly prohibit allowing 12-year-olds to buy guns and ammo does not mean that it’s allowable. The same reasoning holds true for a number of other members of society.

  84. Brainstorms #104:

    I agree that guns are not excluded from these considerations.

    Unlike most kinds of dangerous things however, the second amendment is added protection over and above most items, applied to guns.

    So a knee jerk ban on the sale of guns in Minnesota (as an example) will never survive a constitutional challenge.

    Ditto for a city (say Minneapolis) – cannot do it.

    No law taking away peoples guns will survive a constitutional challenge.

    You could buy them – if the decision to sell was voluntary – that would be constitutional.

    You can certainly do background checks – if a state or the federal government wants to.

    Where you have to be nuanced is the reasons why you might fail a background check.

    Since the 2nd amendment is a fundamental right, on the same par as freedom of speech or your fourth amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure – the law will have to be nuanced or it will get struck down.

    That is my only point.

    With 350,000,000 guns already in the USA – and more being made and sold everyday – there is just not a lot we can do about this problem – except maybe try to make it uncool to commit suicide by mass murder.

    By the way – what did you think of my idea up above in #82.

    With a republican house, senate and President, there is no reason the government couldn’t do what I suggested.

    After all – if they can make us buy insurance, why not a gun?

    They already have the power to draft – so why couldn’t it be for just 2 weeks?

    There are a lot of people who do go the other way – and argue that if everybody was armed (and trained to use them in a crowd), that would be a better solution than trying to reduce the number of guns.

    How would you feel if the government ordered you to buy a weapon?

    It is always interesting to look at things from a different perspective – because it could happen.

  85. The 2nd Amendment gives you the right to own a gun.

    The 2nd Amendment does not give you the right to own explosives, explosive chemical precursors, cartridges, primers, fuses, or any type of ammunition.

    Let them buy guns. Keep the ammo in the armories. Then we’re safe, and the gun enthusiasts can have their guns.

    That’s probably about as win-win as you’re going to get, and no one’s fundamental constitutional rights will be violated.

  86. ??

    Re: A lot of people argue the other way. How would you feel if the government ordered you to…[insert pointless demonstration of pique here]…?

    There are a lot of people who argue baloney. This is why reason matters.

  87. Brainstorms #110:

    Yeah – that won’t work.

    Heller basically said a gun which cannot fire bullets is useless and struck down the law in question (requiring keep the gun safed, unloaded and ammo in a different room).

    Keeping the ammo in an armory would be like requiring your gun to be unloaded and the ammo in a different room – except even more useless if you needed to shoot an intruder (please wait while I drive to the armory and get my ammo).

    A gun without ammo is going to violate the right to keep and bear arms – so that won’t be an option.

    Sorry. That is not even a realistic option.

  88. #106 Brainstorms, you are the one being emotional with your earlier rant about what would properly be described as Authoritarian Personality. I’m being practical, but my opinions are informed by some life experience beyond video games and social media, so I’m sharing some of that. I don’t care about sticking it to “those people”, because I’m just an AP person who happens to be “on the other side”. And as I’ve said, there are reasonable people with reasonable reasons to have firearms.

    I’m trying to deal with how to fix a problem.

    I’m also informed by having followed this debate for a while, and there is just a lot of nonsense being spouted. The second amendment, even as interpreted by this ridiculous SCOTUS majority, is not the issue. Take away the second amendment, and the problem would remain. Take away the mentally ill, and the problem would remain. You are simply spouting the NRA position, while at the same time claiming you want a solution. That’s how good, as President Obama said, their propaganda machine is.

  89. Obstreperous Applesauce #111:

    The fact you think my idea is unreasonable doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

    Sure – you think it is baloney.

    But it would be a better deterrent than trying to get rid of 350,000,000 guns which are already here.

    My only point is my idea is constitutional – and could therefore happen.

    Training everyone is as they turn 18 would sure cut down on accidents.

    Other countrys do this. Switzerland and Israel come to mind.

    Having everyone over 18 trained and armed would really cut down on death by mass killing (in my opinion) and would probably keep the body count per incident down also.

    Something to think about.

  90. “which is pertinent to this post:”

    Marginally. The discussion here centers on gun deaths: that article deals with total homicide rate (gun + other means). As has been pointed out here, gun deaths, other than by suicide, are at almost historic lows now. (It is also true that areas with more stringent gun laws tend to have lower gun-death rates. It’s an association, not a universal law.)
    The point of that article is that there is no meaningful association between gun laws and overall homicide rate (not just homicide by shooting). That isn’t a surprise: the coupling of low incidence of gun deaths with the larger incidence of death by other methods washes out the association with gun laws – laws aimed at only one type of homicide.
    I found it a pleasant thing that he included the data he used – I saved it to look at later.
    That post and this one tackle two different things: here the discussion is focused on gun deaths, there it is a discussion of homicide rate in general.

  91. Lets think through the different solutions to this problem.

    1. Take. As in take away all guns. This will never happen.
    2. Buy. As in offer to buy all guns. Could offer, many will not sell. I bet desertphile wouldn’t sell (for example).
    3. Register. As in have everyone report every gun they own. Could happen – not unconstitutional. I would question the compliance rate. What good does this information do for us?
    4. Check. Background check at point of purchase. Could be done. Last few mass killings all passed this hurdle, so how useful is it?
    5. Mandatory mental exam for everybody – then flag crazies not to be able to buy weapons in the future. Unconstitutional.
    6. Make mass killings illegal. Check – already done.
    7. Tech to prevent a weapon from firing on innocent people – science fiction – not possible yet.
    8. Tech to prevent a weapon from firing without biometric registration – could be done – won’t stop crazy from using a weapon they purchased legally, but would cut down on stolen weapons being used improperly.
    9. Laws related to ammo – like only 2 bullets per clip. Could probably do. I bet human ingenuity would create huge aftermarket to fix this (like 3D guns, etc.).

    Can you guys think of anything else?

  92. #110 For each of the 350,000,000 firearms out there, how many rounds of ammunition do you think there are? More than zero? More than 1? Over/under 50…100…more?

  93. RickA — 116

    No. You missed my point. How I FEEL about your hypothetical is irrelevant. I do THINK that your hypothetical is beside the point however, and that it says more about how you feel about government than what I think about gun control.

    Further, gun control is not the same as getting rid of all the guns. You are simply being manipulative.

  94. RickA,

    OA is just being polite by saying that you are being manipulative– what you are doing is trolling, and not very interesting trolling at that.

    There is no perfect solution to the multiple problems created by the US gun culture. That doesn’t mean that changes in the laws would not have a beneficial effect, without excessively burdening those who would like to own guns.

    The first step is to eliminate individuals selling to individuals.
    The second step is to share all transaction records with law enforcement, including LE from different states and the feds.
    The third step is to require liability insurance, as with automobiles. That way, market forces will operate to improve general safety practices.
    Fourth, require that purchasers of more than say 4 firearms demonstrate that all previous purchases are in their possession or sold to a licensed, brick-and-mortar business.
    And so on.

    Not that hard to figure out and implement. Local laws like CC would vary of course, and local LE would be able to pay attention (or not) to what might be considered dangerous individuals who also have guns.

    It’s all about responsibility.

  95. “RickA, OA is just being polite by saying that you are being manipulative– what you are doing is trolling, and not very interesting trolling at that.”

    RickA,
    In case you haven’t noticed yet, zebra’s and Scienceblogs’ definition of “troll” is
    “anyone who posts comments which disagree with them and with the liberal agenda (e.g. gun control, global warming/climate change, abortion, evolution, etc.).

    It makes no difference how extensive and persuasive your arguments are. If zebra and the others here at Scienceblogs don’t like your arguments, you’re a “troll”.

  96. “It makes no difference how extensive and persuasive your arguments are. ”

    You would not know that since you’ve never had any extensive argument or point supported by data. You don’t even read the articles you present.

  97. zebra #121

    Your point #2 could be done by law – I don’t see any legal issue with that.

    Your point #1 – I don’t know how you do that. Passing a law that you cannot sell an item of personal property? I don’t know what the laws of Minnesota are on this? I have heard of scalping laws for resale of tickets – not sure about alcohol or cigarettes to another adult? So I will put this down as a maybe. Is this a taking? Not sure about that either. Could the state of minnesota bar me from selling any item of property? A car, a house, . . . Not sure this would pass the legislature even if it was constitutional.

    Your 3rd point is interesting – liability insurance for what?

    If you use the gun to commit a crime yourself (like a mass shooting), no insurance claim would be paid (the intentional criminal act voids insurance).

    If the gun is stolen, you are off the hook (the criminal act of another voids insurance claim).

    It would work for accidents – i.e. you shoot someone by accident cleaning your weapon or something like that.

    But your umbrella policy probably covers that already.

    Your fourth point – I suppose a law could be passed for this – but it seems tough to enforce.

    Of all your points – I would be in favor of #2 – daylight is ok.

    Doubt the criminals would report their private sales – but could pass the law.

  98. In SN World:
    Extensive = long winded or Gish gallop.
    Persuasive = specious verbiage that only gullible fools will gobble up.

    SN is all about pushing buttons, baseless assertions, and self-righteous snark. He couldn’t construct a reasoned argument if his life depended on it, and wouldn’t recognize the difference if Jesus himself came and spelled it out for him.

    He is one of those rare people who has absolutely zero critical thinking skills and probably thinks that they are tools of the devil.

    1. “SN is all about pushing buttons, baseless assertions, and self-righteous snark.”

      I am still waiting for him to explain why he asked if it’s okay if I surrender all my guns and ammunition. Surrender to whom? And why?

  99. OA #120:

    I really don’t like the idea that the Federal government can order me to buy something. However, the Supreme Court said it was ok for health insurance.

    I merely extrapolate to the Federal government ordering you to buy a gun, and gave you a rationale which would support that action.

    I am not saying they will – merely that they could – partly so you will look at the issue from the other direction.

    I was against the government being able to order me to buy anything – I thought it was unconstitutional – but I lost that battle (Supreme Court said it was ok).

    This is an example of a hypothetical that would fall under the law of unintended consequences.

    But I agree – it is very unlikely to happen.

  100. To Desertphile #125:

    “I am still waiting for [See Noevo] to explain why he asked if it’s okay if I surrender all my guns and ammunition. Surrender to whom? And why?”

    I am still waiting for you to explain why you haven’t answered this question of mine:
    Well, in THIS world, if you lived in Australia, would you have refused to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds?

    1. “Well, in THIS world, if you lived in Australia, would you have refused to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds?”

      To whom? Why?

    1. “Sn, you incredible lying tool, are you implying guns were confiscated in Australia?”

      Oh, is that what the genius is implying? If so…. how very odd. I wonder why. No one in the USA is talking about anyone “surrendering” their weapons; no one in Australia did so, or is doing so.

      It appears that once again I was “thrown” by the denialism / conspiracy mentality.

      Denialists often say or write something that has no basis, no connection, in what everyone else has said or written, and only denialists (I assume) can see the connection (which I also assume is founded in conspiracy ideation). I saw the same behavior among dangerous, abusive cults: it’s called “language loading,” and it is used exclusively to be divisive— only cult peers understand each other.

      I had no idea why “SN” here asked me if I would be happy “surrendering” my weapons; the question has no connection to anything written in this article, nor to any of the comments, and certainly not to anything I have written. That behavior is like trying to understand the thought processes of an insect. One must be a paranoid conspiracy alarmist to understand why “SN” asked the question, or one must have studied such people.

  101. RickA,

    The government can’t prohibit me from selling private property?

    How about Oxycontin? Which I legally obtained?

    Gun regulation as I described already exists to one degree or another in various states. It takes a few seconds to look that up, so I am just going to stick with labeling you as a troll– a lazy troll.

  102. To Desertphile:

    Me: “Well, in THIS world, if you lived in Australia, would you have refused to surrender your .45 caliber pistol and rifle and 2,000 rounds?”

    You: “To whom? Why? … No one in the USA is talking about anyone “surrendering” their weapons; no one in Australia did so, or is doing so.”

    Maybe I had some bad info, or perhaps more likely, a bad understanding. I guess I was thinking of stuff like this:

    “Gun buybacks have been held in Tucson (one in 2013) and Phoenix (three in 2013)…
    Unlike the voluntary buybacks in the United States, Australian buybacks of 1996 and 2003 were COMPULSORY, compensated SURRENDERS of particular types of firearms made illegal by new gun laws.

    The 1996 “National Firearms Buyback Scheme” took 660,959[2] long guns, mostly semi-automatic rimfire rifles and shotguns as well as pump-action shotguns, and a smaller proportion of higher powered or military type semi-automatic rifles…
    The 2003 handgun buyback took about 50,000 licensed target pistols…”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_buyback_program

  103. @zebra #40

    On the contrary, I think cracking down on straw purchases and the very small number of gun dealers who thereby facilitate trafficking of guns across state lines to criminals is one of the most practical things we can do.

    I hadn’t looked in on this discussion for a few days. Typical that it seems to have degenerated into the usual name calling and finger pointing. I’m back to where I started from – no political home. The petitions I’ve seen, and been invited to sign, are appalling non-specific. They come down to appeals to legislators to do something, anything about gun violence, no matter how ill conceived, out of fear. On the other side, the NRA has completely abandoned its founding principles of supporting training, safety and reasonable regulation.

  104. zebra #133:

    Good point about prescription drugs – I bet you are right and it is illegal to resell.

    I hadn’t thought about that.

    I was thinking of things like alcohol and cigarettes, and struggling to think of anything I couldn’t resell – but I didn’t think of drugs.

    So I will give you that one – good point.

    The government can ban the resale of certain things – like prescription drugs.

  105. Enon Zey, #135

    OK, I’m inviting you to sign (metaphorically) a petition along the lines of my #121. Very specific.

    So, if you really want to get away from the whole trolling and finger-pointing business, why not take a concrete position on those points?

    (I even think you could find a “political home” if you agree with them.)

    I await your reasoned analysis.

  106. @zebra #137

    I have supported liability insurance for some time. It would provide a strong financial incentive for individuals to demonstrate competence and safety in using and storing the guns they own.

    I’d have to see how a ban on individual to individual transfers was structured and enforced – you might get a lot of pushback on this from rural residents. That of course is a big part of the difficulty in coming up with politically practical approaches to gun control – there’s a big urban/rural divide.

    Better records and requiring people to show they actually have their firearms could definitely put a crimp in the black market in guns.

    Now, point me to a gun control organization whose priorities are requiring liability insurance and increased funds for suicide research and prevention, and I might have a political home.

  107. For what’s it’s worth, I do have a political home of sorts. I am a great admirer of Sam Smith, long time activist, journalist and editor of the ‘Progressive Review’. He’s walked the walk and achieved many good things (such as help organize effective opposition to the interstate highway system slicing through the heart of DC).

    Despite all his excellent journalism, I almost never see him quoted by liberals. That may be because he’s been consistently scathing in his criticism of Democrats, he has always supported people being able to have guns in the home for self-defense (that makes him a “gun nut” by Greg’s definition), and he has been unrelenting in attacking the Clintons for their venality and corruption. (Sam Smith can’t possibly be part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, better to just ignore him.)

    http://prorevnews.blogspot.com/2015/10/gun-notes.html

  108. Enon Zey,

    Can you explain the functional difference between “straw purchases”, which you want to “crack down on”, and “individual to individual transfers”?

    So, I think California has something like what I am talking about– if you want to sell a gun to someone, you do it through a dealer. Not very complicated or burdensome. See what you think.

    As for Greg– I’m not sure exactly what his position is WRT someone wanting a gun to keep in the house and being a gun nut. I gave some examples of what I think qualifies; that’s not one of them. The woman with no law enforcement status who tried to kill a shoplifter, on the other hand, represents the mentality that concerns me.

  109. Sure. A straw purchaser is someone who buys a gun for the specific purpose of transferring it to someone who wouldn’t pass a background check. Example: an ex-con convinces his girlfriend to buy a gun for him. Big problem: people who buy multiple guns for the purpose of taking them across state lines to sell to gangs for profit.

    OTOH, individual transfers also include transfers within a family and transfers to neighbors and friends. There are a lot of people, particularly in rural areas, who will resent having to drive a hundred miles just to legally transfer a rifle to a favorite nephew.

    I am not saying I am necessarily opposed to the idea, just that I’m suspicious of proposals that are drawn too narrowly and provoke people to opposition who otherwise might be on our side.

    The woman who shot at the shoplifter was incredibly ignorant. It’s illegal everywhere (except perhaps Texas) to deploy deadly force to protect property. I’d say education, but some people are simply willfully ignorant.

    Greg plainly stated that anybody who keeps a loaded gun in his house is a “gun nut”.

  110. Enon Zey,

    My question was obviously rhetorical. The girlfriend can certainly claim that she changed her mind after buying the gun, and decided to give it to her boyfriend as a gift. Just like the uncle and the nephew. Functionally, all individual sales are straw purchases in that they bypass the intent of the law.

    I refer you again to the California law, and laws in various states, which you can easily find with a quick search. You and I are not going to work out all the tiny details of the “ideal” law here, but there will certainly be accommodations for specific circumstances.

    I’m also not going to quibble about Greg’s wording and intent– you and I would agree that if it is too hard to access and get the gun loaded, it defeats the purpose of having it. That may be where regulations regarding insurance would come in; again, details to be worked out by the interested parties.

    As for carrying at the Home Depot– I go there all the time, and yes, anyone who shows up armed is a gun nut. I would argue that whatever fantasy prompts someone to do that is indicative of a questionable mental state to begin with. Talking about education and training is just silly; the more people doing it (goal of the NRA and right-wing politics), the more the group will include those for whom training will never work.

  111. Enon Zey:

    I am sure it would be jarring to see a civilian carrying a gun at Home Depot.

    However, what if you saw a cop carrying a gun at Home Depot?

    That seems almost normal.

    Cops carry guns at schools and no one even blinks.

    Put a uniform on and it is ok to carry a gun.

    Where street clothes and people think you are a gun nut.

    Kind of interesting.

    1. “However, what if you saw a cop carrying a gun at Home Depot?”

      Police officers in the USA tend to be low hierarchy, submissive males; they are therefore more dangerous than average citizens. When I see a police officer anywhere who is carrying a gun, I get the fuck out of the area just as quickly, and for exactly the same reasons, I flee when non-police are walking around with fire arms.

  112. While I mostly agree with desertphile, I’ll simply mention that the comparison between a police office carrying at a public store and someone not clearly identified as such doing the same fails on its face. Rightly or wrongly, there is the expectation that an officer has had more training in the handling of a weapon than the typical civilian who simply wants to “exercise a right”, so the first reactions to the two situations will not (in general ) be the same. It is as false as arguing therr should not be any speed limits on public highways because “there aren’t any on a race track and very few accidents there result in death.”

    So yes, when I see the local clown carrying an automatic on his hip, wearing an NRA cap and a cameo shirt heading for my table at the bookstore, it isn’t a soothing sight, it is disconcerting.

  113. So it is not necessarily seeing a person with a gun that is scary. It is seeing someone who you assume is less well trained, is associated with the NRA and wearing cameo.

    What if a state required permit to carry holders to wear a uniform (to be determined) when they carried, to permit ease of identification? That way when the cops get to the scene and there is a permit to carry person there – they can be easily identified, to lower the chances of friendly fire from the cops.

    I think that the number of people shot by permit to carry holders is a lot smaller than the number of people shot by cops (at least in Minnesota) – so I am not sure your local clown fear is rational.

    But everybody is entitled to their own phobias.

  114. So it is not necessarily seeing a person with a gun that is scary. It is seeing someone who you assume is less well trained, is associated with the NRA and wearing cameo.
    Maybe I didn’t make my point clearly l. It would be the second time today, in two different spots.

    It is a reasonable assumption that an ordinary joe who thinks there is a need to carry a weapon is not as well trained as a typical police officer. There may be exceptions – it is impossible to tell whether a person is or is not former military, for example – but in general there is no great hurdle to get a carry certification. That in itself is concerning. Second is the appearance issue – the difference you picked up on.

    I don’t think the dress idea you give would matter in general (I know it wouldn’t to me) as the training issue isn’t addressed. I also have doubts that it would be accepted by the folks we’re talking about: I could see the objection being it isn’t needed because they are simply exercising a right.

  115. Well poop. Not the day for phone posting. Rock (and others) sorry about screwing up the blockquote tag.

    Sn, when you advance to the point of being able to ask an intelligent question you’ll get an answer. I have a feeling that will not happen for a very long time, if it ever does.

  116. RickA 143

    I was going to forego anymore commenting today, but what the meh…

    I go on heightened alert around anyone with a gun, but there is a difference. Police have an institutionalized and regulated role in society to keep the peace. It is a fulltime, supervised career (often life long) and snarky objections aside, is about more than just strutting around with a gun pretending to be John Wayne.

    However problematic policing is (and it is a relatively new concept as we understand it today) it’s not helped by a situation where every wingnut and his half wit cousin self-deputizes, essentially turning the clock back to a time before law and order came to the wild west.

    So no. It’s not about who designs your clothes, even though seeing police decked out in military gear and looking hopped up on roids is disconcerting. It’s about everybody moving their mindset out of the 1800s and into the 21st century.

  117. dean #149,

    Sorry, but I think you miss the point here. The reason to be concerned is not training. The reason to be concerned is that it is irrational to be carrying a loaded gun at HD.

    There is no explanation– “I’m packing heat while shopping for plumbing supplies because…”– that makes any sense.

    The cop is armed because it is part of the job description to engage with violent people, even if all she is doing at the moment is directing traffic. But it is not desirable, and you can ask any cop, that some wannabee citizen responds to a bank robbery with guns blazing.

    So– what is the justification for carrying a loaded gun into a public space? “Because I can get away with it”, or “because I can even recklessly discharge it and get away with it” does not count as justification.

  118. RickA 143

    If you’ve ever been exposed to security work, you’ve probably run into people who’ve failed to make the cut onto the police force. Some of them are great, but some are just gun toting cuckoo for cocoa puffs, and they have more than your average amount of training.

    You really ought to step back and have a good, hard rethink before you further advocate slathering society with extra unregulated lethality — especially if all you are doing is trying to fulfill some dogmatic, social Darwinist vision of the “intelligence” of uninhibited marketplaces.

  119. To zebra #153:

    “The reason to be concerned is not training. The reason to be concerned is that it is irrational to be carrying a loaded gun at [Home Depot].”

    At what, if any, locales do you think it IS rational for a citizen to carry a loaded gun?

    I’ve carried concealed into Home Depot. No problems. In fact, I carry to virtually all places as a matter of routine.

  120. “The reason to be concerned is that it is irrational to be carrying a loaded gun at HD.”

    Personally, I agree. There is no need for these folks to be walking around with a gun strapped to their hips, especially when the reason so often given (protection against an attend by a bad guy) is so lacking. As the saying goes, the fact you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    But my view of what’s irrational is something I feel like basing a nan argument on. The lack of training is, in my appraoch, a more solid point

  121. dean,

    I understand your position, but irrationality is not a subjective call. Where there are remaining stricter laws, you have to justify a license to the issuer. For example, transporting lots of cash or jewels or some other occupation that might make you a target.

    See Noevo 155: There are no such public spaces.

    An ordinary citizen (and I include myself) would rationally be concerned in isolated situations, even though the probability of a confrontation is low. For example, if I drove a lot at night far from police response, I would keep a gun in the car. But I would leave it there when I went to the mall or a stopped at a diner.

    If you feel afraid when you are surrounded by fellow citizens, that probably indicates that you should not be armed. I would use a yes answer to “would you carry a gun to go shopping at HD” to disqualify someone who was applying.

    And FWIW, if I saw you, armed, “reaching for your waistband” at Home Depot, I would grab a shovel and take your head off. And ask questions later, because “I feared for my life”. See how that works?

    It is far more rational for me to do that than for some random idiot to shoot at a shoplifter.

  122. It is precisely because of flawed people like sn carrying a weapon that we should be concerned when we see an open carrier.

    1. “It is precisely because of flawed people like sn carrying a weapon that we should be concerned when we see an open carrier”

      The odd person wants us to believe he believes women in the USA have killed 55,000,000 people. If he really does believe that, he shouldn’t have access to knives, let alone guns.

  123. @zebra #142

    I thought that there was a significant difference between those trafficking guns for profit and those transferring guns as gifts or favors. After looking into the latest information about trafficking from police and other investigators, I see that I was wrong. We need to address all forms of gun transfers if we are to reduce the number of guns getting into the hands of gangs and other criminals.

    Where I live we have had a rash of shopping center parking lot robberies in ‘nice’ neighborhoods, so I can see why some people might want to conceal carry to and fro HD.

  124. Enon,

    You sound like someone willing to learn, but you also sound like you are trying to justify something that has an abstract appeal without the life experience and understanding that provide a pragmatic context for your analysis. More study and training is in order.

    Not to go all Sun Tzu on you, but if you end up shooting someone to prevent being robbed in an HD parking lot, you have demonstrated that you are an inept and pathetic loser on the field of individual combat.

    Say you are a nice suburban mom and you need to pick up some mums to put on the front porch this time of year. What are you thinking?:

    “I’m carrying, so I will park at the far end of the building where it isn’t well lit, and there is a pile of lumber someone can hide behind, even though it is almost closing time and very dark. And of course, it would be embarrassing to ask someone to help me, so I will go out all alone and make myself vulnerable loading the plants into my SUV.”

    Come on, dude. Someone is approaching you in that situation saying “I work here would you like me to help?” How close do you let him get before you brandish? How stupid will you feel if he does work there? Will that make you hesitate too long? How horrible will you feel if he just doesn’t get the danger, as Desertphile says, and he does work there, and keeps coming, and you kill him? Or…. will that make you hesitate too long?

    Well, OK, I will be all Sun Tzu, even thought it is often incorrectly overused. If you need a gun to buy mums….

    You have already lost.

  125. @zebra #161

    The tone of your post is very condescending – I just noted that considering some of the robberies where I live I could understand why some people might want to conceal carry, not that I do. I don’t even shop at HD.

    I would never brandish a gun just because someone walked up to me – you’re just coming up with hypotheticals to label me as some sort of gun toting gun nut.

    OTOH, I have been knifed. Considering the statistics, it is very unlikely that I’ll be knifed again. I wasn’t prepared the first time, but I am now.

  126. Enon,

    I am not being condescending to you. I am, however, putting you on the spot, because the points are important, and you appear to be one of the rare people in these discussions who is not so constrained by ideology as to never see beyond it.

    I said I get it, and I do. But that’s empathy; I know how you feel. I’m not sure that you are correctly projecting that onto the people we are talking about, who for the most part have not experienced violence and fear in the real world.

    It’s a serious question, open to anyone who wants to give it a shot (heh). How exactly would carrying in any public space like HD help? What possible scenario produces a net positive outcome?

  127. To aebra #163:

    “It’s a serious question, open to anyone who wants to give it a shot (heh). How exactly would carrying in any public space like HD help? What possible scenario produces a net positive outcome?”

    I could give you limitless possible scenarios producing a net positive outcome, but here’s one that happened about fifteen minutes from me.
    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Mercy-Fitzgerald-Hospital-on-Lockdown-268489642.html

    P.S.
    The doctor who saved the day was actually breaking the hospital’s gun-free zone rules by having his weapon on him. Good for him, and for those he saved.

    1. “The doctor who saved the day was actually breaking the hospital’s gun-free zone rules by having his weapon on him.”

      Hurray! One person with a gun did a good thing, while 32,000+ people with a gun did an evil thing. Woo hoo! We need more guns, so that two people with a gun can go a good thing, and 64,000+ people with a gun can do more evil. Why, it’s just common sense!

  128. See Noevo 164,

    You could give me “limitless possible scenarios” but you chose one in which the doctor in question was not carrying in a public place like HD, but was armed in his office– a private space, just like one’s house.

    So, the woman wasn’t saved. Perhaps the doctor was saved, because he had a gun in his private space. There is no objection to that from me, and if someone like a psychiatrist who deals with potentially violent patients wants a carry license, I would gladly give him one. As I suspect most people here would.

    It’s people like yourself that are the problem. And your inability to justify your position even with a hypothetical reinforces that concern.

  129. There are some people who carry a leatherman on their belt and some who don’t.

    There are some people who carry a gentleman’s folder (knife) in their pocket and some who don’t.

    There are some people who carry a gun and some who don’t.

    A gun is a tool like a knife or a leatherman and sometimes a tool can be handy and other times you will not need it.

    In our country, I get to decide what tools I carry on my person (everyday carry). It is my choice – not yours.

    In Minnesota, stores have the right to post “Guns are Banned on These Premises” – and then I cannot carry my tool (the gun) into the store. That is their right.

    Some stores ban guns and some don’t – that is their right.

    Individual freedom and individual rights are a good thing.

    I am glad my constitutional rights (the first 10 amendments) are not subject to a majority vote – or I would find my speech banned, and my house subject to unreasonable searches, and have no representation.

  130. Desertphile #166:

    You said – 32000 people with a gun did an evil thing.

    22,000 of those killed themselves with a gun.

    Is that an evil thing?

    I don’t think so.

    Religious people think it is evil to kill yourself – but I am neutral on this issue.

    So I set aside 2/3 of the gun deaths per year – which only leaves 11,000 who killed someone else with a gun and which you consider to be an evil thing.

    Some of those were justified homicides and some were criminal acts (I cannot remember who many of each).

    But your number is exaggerated by counting suicides.

  131. To zebra #165:

    “You could give me “limitless possible scenarios” but you chose one in which the doctor in question was not carrying in a public place like HD, but was armed in his office– a private space, just like one’s house.”

    A hospital seems like a pretty public place.
    It’s just another place of business, and anybody can walk into one off the street.
    Just like they can walk into a limitless number of places. I bet you’ve heard, and know the derivation of, the phrase “going postal”. But fired, disgruntled employees aren’t unique to post offices, of course. Here’s another
    http://www.11alive.com/video/61515386001/1/Disgruntled-Ex-employee-Opens-Fire-and-Shoots-Five-People

    And what’s with the “It’s people like yourself that are the problem”?
    You want to take my guns and CC permit away? On what Constitutional and legal basis, and how for me, specifically?

  132. See Noevo,

    I would deny a carry permit to <i<anyone who doesn’t supply a rational explanation for why he or she wants and needs it. You have failed to do so, given a couple of opportunities.

    1. “I would deny a carry permit to anyone who doesn’t supply a rational explanation for why he or she wants and needs it. You have failed to do so, given a couple of opportunities.”

      Indeed, and being unhappy with one’s penis is not a valid explanation.

  133. #170…how’s about “it’s the most compact and effective tool that can be utilized (since you’ll dispute safety) to defend my body and those of innocents in my proximity”

    We can go into why my body is valuable in society, but this would go the way of a pro-life argument, which I’m going to guess you’d oppose.

    On what basis would Darwin have any objection to my weapon of choice?

    1. “We can go into why my body is valuable in society, but this would go the way of a pro-life argument, which I’m going to guess you’d oppose.”

      Do you *REALLY* not understand how asinine your “guess” is?

  134. Ron 172,

    But you haven’t provided a rational explanation of why you think you would need it at Home Depot or the mall or other such public spaces.

    (I’m putting aside the question of efficacy for the moment.)

    (And by the way, bringing up Darwin, if you mean the Darwin, makes one question your rationality a priori. No possible connection I can see.)

    1. “But you haven’t provided a rational explanation of why you think you would need it at Home Depot or the mall or other such public spaces.”

      One never knows when a gun battle will break out between the human carnivores near the meat section and the vegans near the produce section.

  135. #174 The rational explanation of RKBA at a place outside the home / public spaces is that it is where my body is. In order to defend my body the weapon needs to be in close proximity to my body.

    Attempting to predict when and where a crime will take place is not something to wager one’s well-being on. Indeed the “gun-free zone” shootings seem to prove my point. Movie theaters to military bases have been recent crime scenes…many retailers declare themselves to have a no gun policy on their premises. Does softening a target make it more or less attractive to criminals?

    #173…are you asserting that being pro-life and pro-self defense against criminal violence via weapons is asinine?

    1. “#173…are you asserting that being pro-life and pro-self defense against criminal violence via weapons is asinine?”

      I am “asserting” that your assertion that someone in this blog forum is not pro-life is asinine.

  136. zebra says #170:

    I would deny a carry permit to <i<anyone who doesn’t supply a rational explanation for why he or she wants and needs it. You have failed to do so, given a couple of opportunities.

    It would be good to be king.

    However, you don't control permits to carry in the United States.

    Ron doesn't have to justify his decision to carry – that is his choice.

    Home Depot can ban guns with a simple sign – and if they don't that is their choice.

    See gun rights are like free speech rights – the default is they exist.

    The burden of proof is on those trying to take them away.

    So it is your job to justify why someone shouldn't have a permit to carry.

    You can do this by showing the person is a felon, or has a restraining order against them, or is mentally ill.

    You cannot (nor can anyone else) justify taking away someones permit to carry because you don't agree with their reason for wanting one.

    The 2nd amendment is a personal right, no matter how irrational you think that fact to be.

  137. Ron 176,

    You sound more and more irrational the more you write.

    You are talking about the mass shooter scenario?

    So, if I were interviewing you as to why you want a permit, you would say “because I am concerned that I will be the target of a mass shooter”?

    I’d put you on the no-sell list in a heartbeat. Maybe even have you in for an involuntary psych evaluation.

    Look, there is an infinitesimally small probability of that happening to you. As Desertphile has pointed out, you and your gun and your paranoia are much greater threats to us than any shooter is to you. That’s why it is rational for us to attempt to minimize the number of people carrying firearms in public spaces– we are protecting our bodies and the innocents in proximity from your potential dangerous acts.

  138. #179 I’m not only speaking about “mass shootings”…I’m talking about crime, from theft to murder, done against me or those in my proximity. I recognize that these rates are dropping, and that’s positive…there are places and times that are likely more safe than others, and that’s positive. In that awful instance of a mass shooter, there are not many other things I’d want at my disposal than a weapon.

    I appreciate that the odds against me are minute. I can make them even smaller, and I will, with or without Official Government Blessing.

    You can call me paranoid and I’ll call you irrational. We’re back on the playground…

    If we’re going to debate what is and what is not rational…it sounds like a moral argument, to which I would wonder what is your external standard of morality? If you don’t think rationality is a moral question, to what authority do we turn to determine what is rational thought and what is not?

    It’s called freedom. Funny how some pro-choice people (#178 this is an atheist blog, is it not?) would advocate choice in one realm and not in another.

    Unless you want to make the E PLURIBUS UNUM case…which would favor concepts like property rights http://tinyurl.com/p5v7nvf and man over government http://tinyurl.com/mcmhe7…we’re all left to do what is right according to our conscious…so if some wish to not carry a weapon, they should be allowed that freedom, but others do…”The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may
    exercise it by themselves, …that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.” Thomas Jefferson writing to Major John Cartwright June 5, 1824

    It’s called a negative right because it doesn’t impose a duty on others. http://tinyurl.com/q75fgx5 You’re turning a negative right into an imposition on individuals to provide a justification or ability to clear myself from suspicion.

    What we’re doing now is taking property rights and negative rights and turning them into positive rights (see bakers/photographers being forced to provide services). People are no longer allowed to refrain from health insurance, etc…

  139. Ron 180,

    Irrational is not an insult. But now you are just being incoherent, and I can’t follow what you are trying to say at all.

    I was just in a big long debate involving “rights” and “morality”, where “the liberals”, as you would call them, were all ganging up against me. So if I could figure out what the heck you are talking about, I might find it amusing. But just being practical:

    Some lady in a Home Depot parking lot started shooting at someone who was running with some merchandise, being chased by HD security. That’s one of the things we’re talking about here.

    Do you feel that you have a “right” to just start shooting at someone because “theft is being done to those in proximity to you”?

    If so, what I said about not giving you a carry permit holds. You are obviously not qualified to be in possession of a firearm, whether in a private or a public space. You present a threat to others (me, for example, who goes to my local HD fairly often,) if not yourself.

    Don’t I have a “right” to shop in an environment free from the risk of death at the hands of some nutjob?

  140. zebra #181 asks “Don’t I have a “right” to shop in an environment free from the risk of death at the hands of some nutjob?”

    The answer is no.

    The reason is because nobody has the power to grant you that right.

    Nobody has the right to be free from a criminal act.

    Who would give you that right?

    That is like saying you have the right to flip heads 100 times in a row – who has the power to grant you that right?

    Nobody can give you the right to be free from death at the hands of a nutjob.

    That is why some people find it rational to carry.

    Because they know they have to protect themselves – they cannot rely on government to protect them. Because any individual can be subject to a crime committed against them at any time, anywhere, by a nutjob or even by a rational criminal.

    That is reality.

    If a person wants to pretend that just because a law is passed saying nutjobs shouldn’t shoot people in mass killings – that this will protect them somehow – well – that is their choice.

    Other people know that no matter how professional the police force, and no matter how many laws are passed – that shit happens and you have to be responsible for your own safety – because sometimes you just don’t have the luxury of calling the cops and waiting to be saved from harm.

  141. To zebra #170:

    Me: “You want to take my guns and CC permit away? On what Constitutional and legal basis, and how for me, specifically?”

    You: “I would deny a carry permit to <i<anyone who doesn’t supply a rational explanation for why he or she wants and needs it. You have failed to do so, given a couple of opportunities.”

    I have a feeling what you consider a rational explanation and what my state considers a rational explanation are different, thank goodness.

    ‘Target shooting and self defense’ were explanation enough for them, as I recall.

  142. #181 perhaps you’re referencing this Home Depot incident:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3270903/Michigan-woman-charged-shots-fired-shoplifters.html

    My understanding is that this woman was not directly in harm’s way. I wasn’t there. The criminal seems to be attempting to disengage as he flees. So, IF those are the facts, it’s a “bad shoot”. Shooting a fleeing suspect, unless he poses a threat, is not appropriate. That being said, a tire seems to have failed shortly after she shot, helping police apprehend the criminal.

    By way of contrast, this seems to be a “good shoot”: http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/1-Shot-Dead-at-Waterbury-Cafe-331886291.html

    What say you about this case?

    We who wish you no harm are not the one’s you should fear, but the random, unpredictable criminal is the “nutjob” we all wish to avoid.

  143. Just because this language of “rational” is being linked to RKBA…http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/10/14/a_rational_case_for_gun_ownership.html

    “There is a legitimate, rational use for guns, a use that results in crimes deterred and lives saved. The left’s argument that people may use guns for illegitimate purposes is senseless. Why should those who use guns rationally be sacrificed for the sake of those who will use them irrationally? We don’t ban cars simply because some people will drive recklessly. We don’t ban alcohol simply because some people will get drunk and attack their neighbors. The same should apply to guns. The individual has volition and he has inalienable rights. The freedom to possess a gun to defend himself follows logically from those two premises.”

    **Note: I didn’t label “the left”…

  144. ron and friends,

    I would feel much safer being robbed by a rational criminal than being “protected” by immature and irrational wannabees like yourselves.

    And I expect the majority of citizens and LEO would agree; it’s just common sense. You are that woman at Home Depot, and she is you.

  145. “a use that results in crimes deterred”

    But again, that is so rare as to be immaterial to the broad discussion. It is the same as arguing against seat belt use in cars because someone knew someone who wasn’t wearing a seat belt and survived a severe accident.

  146. #188 Are you willing to be consistent, then, in your belief that crimes are so rarely deterred by guns, that you would call for all police / military to eschew their weapons?

  147. a) It is a fact that a civilian with a gun stopping a crime is incredibly rare
    b) Are you trying to say the role of the military is equivalent to a civilian carrying a gun in daily life? If so, that is too foolish to deserve a response.

  148. @zebra #163

    I didn’t express myself well. I avoid violence by being aware of my surroundings in a way I didn’t used to, but not by carrying in HD.

    “One point I’d like to make in this context is that the best defense against violence is always your own mind. People tend to overlook this because it sounds like an empty platitude, but it’s true. Some people acquire the maturity and understanding to avoid violence early on, but these days—and this is obviously a good thing—most of us go our whole lives without encountering violence, so we need to be taught what to look for. We also need to be willing to see it, and we need to know how to manage our distance from it.”

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/self-defense-and-the-law

    I am sure we can both come up with scenarios where it would be good to have a well-trained person with a gun around even in a retail environment. Why else hire armed security guards? Unfortunately, the requirements for concealed carry permits are pretty superficial.

  149. Enon 163,

    I appreciate you taking the trouble to find a quote that shows you understand what I am talking about. I think we could have some good debates, since I don’t agree with many aspects of Harris’s approach, but that is spot on.

    As for retail spaces and armed security guards– no, I’m just trying to be practical, and I can’t see how it helps, except for the extremely rare active shooter case with ideal conditions. Some places in the developed world still have actual police that don’t carry guns, but relatively non-lethal weapons.

    (Not to mention, we have cases of psychologically unfit cops who are “trained” but still kill people with no justification. Where do you find people to fill those armed security guard slots in all the stores in the country?)

    I wasn’t kidding when I said earlier that, if I were in an advantageous position, and I saw someone in a public space reach for a gun, I would do my best to take them out, even by using potentially deadly force like a knife or a club. I think a citizenry with that attitude is far better protection than some yayhoos like those commenting here parading around with their guns.

    Anyway, stay vigilant. And if you have bad dreams, I hope they get less difficult over time.

  150. @zebra #192

    Thank you for the good thoughts. Actually, the attack was a long time ago and the wound minor. It did act as a wakeup call – having had a sheltered childhood, I had no street smarts at all, zilch. I do like Harris’ point that many (most?) people have a ‘can’t happen to me’ attitude and avoid thinking about the possibility of violence happening to them. The probability is small, smaller than many other bad things that can happen, but it’s certainly not negligible. We know that people in general are very bad at probabilities and risk assessment.

    I continue to be astonished at how people move in an urban environment without any awareness of what’s happening around them. The pocket computers (aka smartphones) that people are absorbed in have just made things worse, I OTOH, never wear earbuds – one’s ears are a front line of defense.

    What do you think of Sanders’ point that there is a urban/rural divide about guns? I do open carry when I’m out in the boonies, where law enforcement is sparse and wild animals common.

    I find it interesting that there are states (Vermont, the Dakotas) with very liberal gun laws and high rates of gun ownership, yet their homicides rates are similar to the UK. Gun violence in this society (outside of suicide) is primarily an urban phenomenon. DC, with its strict gun regulation, has a homicide rate an order of magnitude greater than Vermont’s.

  151. While I think that absence of effective gun control is a problem, it’s not a monocausal, or one dimensional issue. It’s worth considering that the environment in which people live can foster a culture of fear, lethality, and the cult of the gun. Poverty matters. Race matters. Demagoguery and crappy politics matter.

    And city planning certainly matters. For instance, it’s now understood that warehousing people in housing projects is one of the things that effectively destroys communities and fosters chaos. If you’re interested in this, the writing of Jane Jacobs makes for a very readable way into the otherwise boring subject of planning and zoning.

  152. #190 b
    I’m trying to say that you’re targeting guns, and to be consistent you should be eager to express that nobody should have them…otherwise we’re bickering over training and who trains…and that the general citizenry is less able than other classes of citizen…creating a tiered system for Rights (something I might assume is a non-starter, but I could be wrong).

  153. “a) It is a fact that a [law abiding] civilian with a gun stopping a crime is incredibly rare”

    [Note: I took the liberty of inserting “[law-abiding]” because it’s assumed in the sentence and because it’s useful in my last sentence below.]

    Actually, it’s not incredibly rare. I could post lots more stories of such, in case you haven’t read the ones I and others have already posted above.

    What IS incredibly rare [and technically non-existent] is a law-abiding civilian with a gun committing a crime.

    1. “What IS incredibly rare [and technically non-existent] is a law-abiding civilian with a gun committing a crime.”

      Do you still some times wonder why people think you are an idiot, or pretending to be an idiot?

  154. Actually, it’s not incredibly rare. I could post lots more stories of such, in case you haven’t read the ones I and others have already posted above.

    sn, your cluelessness about reality and general dishonesty is astounding. Are you truly so stupid that you think unsupported personal claims are the same as data?

  155. “As if to reinforce the fact that shooting incidents are so commonplace as to be business as usual, the undeterred theater managers told guests they could get a free coupon to see another film some other day or wait until staff could mop up the blood and resume the film.”

  156. ” It was certainly not his intention to shoot himself in the leg. But his gun went off, because that’s what guns do.”

    Golly. Mine must be defective. They only go off when I touch the “bang switch”.

    Again, as in post #81, some will misuse the product, but that’s not the fault of the product. These products can be use for virtuous purposes. (Like this woman did…http://www.wtok.com/home/headlines/Man-Killed-During-Alleged-Burglary-333937771.html Why do we want to disarm women and lower their odds of surviving a hostile encounter?)

    1. “Again, as in post #81, some will misuse the product, but that’s not the fault of the product.”

      “Misuse?” ROTFL! Good gods that’s hilarious! Dude! Hand guns are *THE SAFEST* when they are not used as intended! I wish everyone misused them.

  157. #204 Guns don’t “go off” spontaneously, just as toasters and ovens don’t heat when you leave your dwelling.

    This whole discussion is twisting language in order to attack an inanimate object, when the desire is to take away the ability of the individual to KABA…which is why post 195 goes unanswered.

    In a culture where we force people who sell booze or cut hair or teach children to pay a tax for a government license, I’m sure it does seem odd to let people roam free with firearms, but just as scissors don’t randomly cut your hair, neither do firearms spontaneously discharge.

  158. Desertphile #204:

    I cannot tell if you think a handgun is misused for a suicide or if that is an intended use.

    Please clarify.

    Since 2/3’s of gun deaths are suicide I figure I should understand what your definition of intended use is.

    I am pretty sure the label says – be careful not to shoot yourself with this gun – so I doubt suicide is an intended use.

    2/3 of the deaths caused by misuse is not “the safest” – but that is just my opinion.

    Or maybe you mean the subset of accidental shootings – maybe those are intended use?

    Or wait – maybe you are referring to when the gun is pointed at somebody else and a person is shot on purpose?

    Please clarify.

    1. “I cannot tell if you think a handgun is misused for a suicide or if that is an intended use.”

      Heh. You are complaining about not being intelligent. No one can help you there.

      The proper use of a hand gun is to kill a human being. It is therefore a good thing when hand guns are misused.

  159. “Since at least 1950, all but two public mass shootings in America have taken place where general citizens are banned from carrying guns. In Europe, there have been no exceptions. Every mass public shooting — and there have been plenty of mass shooting in Europe — has occurred in a gun-free zone. In addition, they have had three of the six worst K–12 school shootings, and Europe experienced by far the worst mass public shooting perpetrated by a single individual (Norway in 2011, which from the shooting alone left 67 people dead and 110 wounded).

    “Mass killers have even explicitly talked about their desire to attack gun-free zones. The Charleston, S.C., church shooting in June was instead almost a college shooting. But that killer changed his plans after realizing that the College of Charleston had armed guards. Holmes decided not to attack an airport because of what he described in his diary as its ‘substantial security.’ … Holmes decided not to attack an airport because of what he described in his diary as its “substantial security.””

    And more examples of concealed carry to the rescue…
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425802/gun-free-zones-don't-save-lives-right-to-carry-laws-do

  160. the gun violence culture can also be blamed on gun violence tv shows watched by parents with children in the same room digesting it all. i hope tv executives think about this. not every child copes well with seeing drugs and guns so much a part of our culture

  161. It is a shame that Gun Violence has become a part of the American Culture. The violence is doing nothing but tearing this country down. There is not a source to blame but I think it is very important that we start pay attention of deranged behavior.

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