Guns, Redux

A few posts ago I tried to get a discussion going about guns and gun control, which started but then sputtered to a stop after a few desultory comments. It was suggested by one devil’s advocate (*cough* Philly *cough*) that perhaps guns in the hands of responsible citizens protecting their homes from invasion was a counter-argument to my implied disdain for guns (my implication most obvious in the graphic of Rick Santorum holding a gun. I just don’t think frothy fecal matter and guns mix well). I tend to agree, to a point, but I don’t necessarily feel that ends the discussion.

I see today a story about a young mother who shot and killed a home invader, protecting her child, with a shotgun, who seems to be ruled in the clear for doing so. To add sympathy to the story, her husband conveniently died of cancer on Christmas Day. And, to make it even better, she called the police and asked for permission before she shot the guy. Permission was not granted explicitly, but it was granted implicitly. (No responsible police authority would say “Sure, go ahead and shoot the bastard”. At least not when the 911 call is being recorded.)

However, while I sympathize with that woman (really a teenager, scared and certainly within her rights) the last line of the article bothers me.

According to the latest FBI data, firearms were used in 215 cases of “justifiable homicide” in 2009 in the United States, where every year guns figure in around 30,000 deaths ranging from murder to suicide and accidents.

My calculator says that of all the deaths caused by guns in 2009, less that 1% of them were justifiable. The other 99.3% are from murder, suicide or accidents and the like.

To me, home protection may be a good reason to oppose gun bans, but it certainly has no place in a discussion about gun control. Gun control contemplates some supervisory and regulatory process meant soley to lower the statistics of gun deaths and violence as a result of murders, suicides and accidents, while leaving protection of one’s home intact. Law abiding home owners, one would think, would a) have no problems securing guns to protect themselves, and b) have no problem with minimally intrusive controls placed on their acquisitions.

But the NRA thinks otherwise, and the NRA is a powerful lobby. And we all know how well the Republicans and Democrats love that lobby money.

And while I’m at it, I hate, hate, hate the analogy that gun control opponents use concerning the licensing of automobiles. Yes, automobiles do result in many deaths, and yes, we don’t ban them. But automobiles are not designed nor manufactured for one purpose and one purpose only, as guns are, to kill. Death from automobiles is incidental to their use; it is not their primary purpose.

So I frankly don’t understand the complacency in the country about doing something about guns. It makes no rational sense to me.

43 thoughts on “Guns, Redux

  1. What would you propose?

    I am already checked by state and federal authorities when buying a gun. I had to get a course about guns, gun use, and guns laws to get my permit, and it included showing proficiency with handling, loading, and unloading guns, when I applied for my permit to carry.

    One of the things the NRA pushes for is for federal prosecution of gun crimes (only happens in high profile cases, and it’s to the discretion of federal prosecutors). At the state level you have plea bargaining and differing laws. Federal laws and sentencing guidelines are tougher (or used to be – have not looked recently but have no reason to suspect they got laxer).

    I’m open to regulation, but when people talk of gun control they invariably aim not of regulating, but of limiting, and often banning guns. Hence the opposition to even “sensible” proposals.

    But again, I would be curious to know what you would propose.

    • One of the things the NRA pushes for is for federal prosecution of gun crimes (only happens in high profile cases, and it’s to the discretion of federal prosecutors).

      Sorry. Anything the NRA does that could be termed “good’ like gun safety courses, etc, as far as I’m concerned, is merely an attempt to create a patina of respectability for what is obviously a lobbying organization for the gun manufacturers. And dues paying members of the NRA simply add to that patina, and as far as I’m concerned, become complicit in the slaughter of millions.

    • As long as there is a selection process, and I get to select, I agree.

      If it’s any consolation, I’d keep you around. ;)

  2. So then if only 0.7% of those who get a death sentence are actually innocent, then that’s an acceptable margin of collateral damage too, right?

    As for auto fatalities, we just need to legalize pot. How much you want to bet there will be less shootings, too.

    Btw, not only didn’t Obama close Gitmo, but he just signed off on NDAA permitting indefinite detention w/o trial so those yahoos hoarding guns just in case aren’t sounding so batshit anymore.

    • As for auto fatalities, we just need to legalize pot. How much you want to bet there will be less shootings, too.

      I didn’t know that. I’m all for it!

      And Obama is a serious disappointment, just another politician. But I’d still rather have him there than McCain, or any of the riders in the current Republican Clown Car.

  3. I have no proposals. I’m not knowledgeable enough to opine with any credibility. Hence my request for a discussion.

    However, generally, I’ve watched, since I was a little boy, the NRA oppose gun control, even of small hand guns. It took Reagan being shot by Hinkley in ’81 to actually start a national dialog of any significance, and while some legislation was enacted, it was always watered down and opposed by the NRA, in all regards. Some states have tighter gun acquisition policies than others (See Arizona and the guy that shot Giffords) so there is no uniformity.

    Meanwhile, for 50 years, gun manufacturers like Colt, S&W et al (the REAL beneficiaries of the NRA lobbying) have flooded the markets of the world with hundreds of millions of guns. It was a stall tactic to delay the inevitable. Again there was no rational reason, other than pure profit motive, to delay real gun control, and now the horse is so far out of the barn, found other horses, reproduced, created herds of horses, that closing the barn door now would be completely ineffective.

    Philly’s right. It’s so bad that the only solution to all the guns in the world is to make sure everyone is armed to the teeth. I have to admit that as repugnant as It seems to me, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a gun. For protection in my home.

    I blame the NRA for that. Not criminals. Not wackos. Not the militant right wing. The NRA.

    I have a hard time accepting that.

    • Does not seem like much of a basis for starting a dialog, discussion, or exchange of ideas. Basically you don’t like guns, or any efforts against restricting them.

      You mention “real gun control”. What does that mean? I ask because you say you have no proposals, and furthermore you are not knowledgeable on the subject. And yet you bash guns, the NRA, and anyone not in favor of “real gun control”.

      As far as the NRA, if you want to try and understand their motivation, you need to do some research on the history of gun laws, gun registrations, gun control, etc. etc, not only here, but in other countries. Also some history of the NRA itself.

      And you need to do some research on the organizations who are “pro gun control” to understand their motivations.

      You put the effort into understanding the whole religious thing so you could arrive at an informed decision, but it seems to me you are making statements about guns without a similar involvement. I mentioned before that the majority of the people I debate on guns have little understanding of the issue; they just don’t like guns, and that is enough for them to make judgments about people and organizations who don’t share their views.

      On a personal level, I’ve never had anyone give me a valid (based on fact, backed by research, etc.) as to why I should not be able to own and carry a gun. I am more than willing to engage in a debate (I have a large amount of research on the subject) but I don’t see it as worthwhile if the starting point is the above post. It would be a little like debating a believer; I would not get anywhere.

      For the record, I’ve not killed anyone. I don’t buy guns to kill anyone. They are fun to shoot, and I enjoy them for their aesthetics, their mechanical design, and because it is a challenge to shoot a gun well. That they have a self-defense component is just a bonus, and even then, gun are statistically much more often used as a deterrent than fired in self defense.

      The other aspect of guns is hunting. When people talk about banning handguns, they mention they would still allow weapons for hunting. That’s when I know they don’t know squat about guns. Hunting weapons have much more destructive power than all but a few specialized handguns. I would rather not get shot at all, but if I were shot, I would much rather get shot by a handgun than any hunting rifle or shotgun (if you are looking for home self-defense, buy a shotgun – a handgun is not a realistic choice unless you want to put the time into mastering it so that you can be proficient with it in a stressful situation like an attack).

      Depending where you look, hunting in the US employs around a million people, and fuels a 65-70 billion dollars economy that includes many peripheral businesses (hotels, restaurants, etc.), as well as fund conservation efforts.

      So yes, guns are designed to kill . . . as are bow and arrows, crossbows, etc. They are versatile mechanical machines that have a wide range of uses. The vast majority of guns (estimates are between 200 and 300 million guns in the US) are used for leisure activities. a small percentage abuse them.

      In your opening statement you mention the following:

      “Gun control contemplates some supervisory and regulatory process meant soley to lower the statistics of gun deaths and violence as a result of murders, suicides and accidents, while leaving protection of one’s home intact.”

      Once again I would ask how that is accomplished. How does one target “only” murders, suicides, and accidents? Especially since all of the proposals I hear from gun control advocates target not the people who commit those acts, but law-abiding gun owners. The laws that I am familiar with all restrict my rights. The proposals I read all target me and other gun owners.

      And they are non-sensical proposals. Arbitrary limits, arbitrary bans of certain kinds of weapons with little basis supporting the selection criteria. The only context that all these proposals make sense is by what is openly stated by many anti-guns groups . . . step-by-step, a gradual reduction of available guns until there are no more.

      Won’t they all be sorry when the zombie apocalypse hits.

      • And yet you bash guns, the NRA, and anyone not in favor of “real gun control”.

        Of the three I only “bash” the NRA, which I feel is significantly culpable in the glorification of gun ownership and the proliferation of gun violence. Guns are just inanimate objects, and would make no sense to bash them. The latter of the three is a straw man.

        My problem is the mindset and how that effects our country. Guns are too available, too easy to acquire and we really have no solid check on who acquires them and uses them. And, in response to “there is obviously too much gun violence” (a sentiment most people don’t disagree with) one gets from the NRA crowd “Well, arm yourself, then, if you don’t like it”. This to me is sheer lunacy.

        No offense, but my perception of your response to what I am saying seems to be to take it personally (bashing guns=bashing my guns), as if I want to limit your ability to own whatever guns you have. This is the stance the NRA takes when ever there is a suggestion of gun control. Don’t get me wrong. I have fired guns. I find the thrill and the rush to be enticing, when the bullet actually strikes what I’m aiming at. There is a real sense of power involved, and I don’t minimize that, nor would I take it away from responsible adults who enjoy, say, target practice and shooting ranges. Guns can be an enjoyable hobby, and hunting certainly has a place in our society. I allow hunters on my property (bow hunting only – the area is too residential for guns) so please don’t get me wrong. I am not in favor of banning or bashing or otherwise limiting people in the enjoyment that guns bring.

        And I don’t suggest that any solution is going to come overnight. It’s probably a over-generational time line that it could possibly occur in. Education and indoctrination (or actually counter-indoctrination, since the NRA and its ilk have been doing all the indoctrinating so far) that will do this. As a society we have to want to change this mindset.

        There’s a telling line in a Phil Collins Song “Both Sides of the Story” .

        White man turns the corner, finds himself within a different world
        Ghetto kid grabs his shoulder, throws him up against the wall
        He says ‘would you respect me if I didn’t have this gun
        ‘Cause without it, I don’t get it, and that’s why I carry one’

        We always need to hear both sides of the story

        That feeling of the powerless has to change.

        I have more to say, but I have to go to work. This is good. This is the kind of discussion I wanted the first time. I don’t have answers, and I’m not trying to pretend to be dogmatic. I’m offering all this not to impose my solutions, but to test my thinking, as I say in my “About’ page. BBL

        • Straw man . . . your quote “. . . dues paying members of the NRA simply add to the patina, and as far as I am concerned, become complicit in the slaughter of millions.” My mistake in assuming you also hold culpable anyone who does not oppose the NRA and their efforts. If I understand the accusation of a straw man argument, I apparently oversimplified and exaggerated your position so I could show its weaknesses.

          Per my reckoning, and again, I might be misunderstanding your position, the straw man might be me including not only NRA members, but anyone opposing “real gun-control” in people you find culpable. I put that in quotes because it is a direct quote from you.

          I make a point of addressing this because I am truly ignorant of how I set up a straw man, and how I used it in my argument. In all honesty, I don’t mind being called on it, but I would like to have it explained to me so I don’t do it in the future. Is it that you only find the NRA and their members culpable? Is it that it’s only the NRA’s efforts you take issue with, and not any of the other pro-gun organizations at both the state and national level?

          I want to stress this is not a challenge. I don’t understand the straw man accusation and would like it explained.

          • Per my reckoning, and again, I might be misunderstanding your position, the straw man might be me including not only NRA members, but anyone opposing “real gun-control” in people you find culpable. I put that in quotes because it is a direct quote from you.

            Yes. Sorry. That’s what I meant by straw man. I have not elucidated in an way a real gun control position, because frankly I don’t have one – yet. I’m still exploring the problem, and hoping solutions will come from the discussion.

            Is it that you only find the NRA and their members culpable? Is it that it’s only the NRA’s efforts you take issue with, and not any of the other pro-gun organizations at both the state and national level?

            As I hope I’m getting across, I’m trying to look at this objectively, from above, but my problem has been not so much with individual arguments pro or con, or individuals who own guns such as yourself, but with the overall mindset of gun “love” or “infatuation” that seems to prevent us from rationally seeking solutions to an obvious problem. The NRA and its ilk are just an obvious manifestation of this mindset.

        • I take no offense to your perception that I take it personally. Many people make the attack against guns synonymous to an attack against gun owners, so I am used to thinking that way.

          My reason for speaking up is because I consider my ability to own a gun to be significant in me having control for my safety. I have yet to hear any gun control organization put forth a proposal that seems equitable with my desires. Worse yet, the stated purpose of all the organizations I know about is to abolish gun ownership by civilians, or at the very least, severely curtail it.

          If you read my blog post on guns, you might come to understand why I take issue with that. If you read the link I provided in the other response (http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/104ali.htm) you might get the same argument better stated, and from a different perspective.

          You say “that feeling of the powerless has to change” . . . I am not asking you to agree, but to at least understand that threatening to take away my guns, restricting my ability to carry a gun, puts me in a position to experience that feeling of powerlessness.

          Because that is where I come from in these discussions; perhaps others that have experienced what I have come to a different conclusion about what they should do to help ensure their safety, but my decisions include the availability of guns, and my ability to carry.

          How can I not take it personally when someone wants to deny me what I believe is an important part of taking control for my safety?

          • I have yet to hear any gun control organization put forth a proposal that seems equitable with my desires. Worse yet, the stated purpose of all the organizations I know about is to abolish gun ownership by civilians, or at the very least, severely curtail it.

            I’ll say at the outset that that option is certainly on the table, and after all due consideration, it may be the only viable option. If from a societal point of view, individual rights are infringed in favor of society as a whole, then sometimes individuals need to “suck it up”. We do that all the time. Criminal laws are replete with those policy considerations. But frankly I’m not convinced that an outright ban on guns is the answer, although whenever I hear the Charlton Heston quote about taking his gun from his cold, dead hands, sometimes I lean that way. You have to admit that he doesn’t leave any other choice.

            You say “that feeling of the powerless has to change” . . . I am not asking you to agree, but to at least understand that threatening to take away my guns, restricting my ability to carry a gun, puts me in a position to experience that feeling of powerlessness.

            And yet, I do not own a gun, and don’t feel powerless by its absence. Is this perhaps a psychological issue, one better left to mental health professionals?

  4. Interesting! I hadn’t thought about it, but it’s yet another application of the Libertarian Fallacy — which is to say: if you don’t favor an abolishment of laws, then you are obviously in favor of absolute totalitarian lockdown, and there is no middle ground. Which is usually akin to saying that you must either fill your house with liquid nitrogen or burn it down.

    I don’t know that arming yourself is necessarily a very good idea, even now. Especially if you don’t train yourself to use the gun (which is probably a waste of money and resources, really). The statistics show that even guns bought by experts are much more likely to end up being used to shoot family members (presumably accidentally, although you never know) than intruders, and the statistics are even worse for people who buy a gun to “feel safe” but then don’t learn how to shoot.

    Also, of course, if you buy a gun, you’re just throwing MORE money at the gun manufacturers.

    • I would be interested in the source for those statistics regarding how guns are used. Near as I know they stem from one study (there are plenty of both critical and supporting examination of that study, and one can look them up easily if interested in understanding it, examining its validity, and verifying if the underlying methodology was sound). Here is a start, not that I actually believe anyone will read it all: http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdgaga.html I’ll leave you to find the supporting arguments, and comparing them for yourself to the rebuttals cited in the link.

      As for the Libertarian Fallacy . . . there are many, many laws governing guns, their sale, their use, etc. I would be interested in which new law would provide this fabled “middle ground”, you know, that would accommodate the needs of the many. That’s the question isn’t it? And one I keep asking and get no answer to . . .

      As far as I know, the NRA is not against any laws that punishes wrong-doers. Their official stance is that every gun crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and I have no reason or evidence to doubt them. If anyone can point me to something showing the contrary, I will be glad to re-examine my views.

      What they are against is additional laws restricting the lawful ownership of guns by overwhelmingly law-abiding gun owners. (Just a reminder; 200-300million guns in between 35% to 50% of US households . . . all those poor people at risk!! It’s a wonder we have anyone left in this country).

      Finally, some interesting reading: http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/104ali.htm

      Again, read to get informed on the arguments first, then examine the arguments for any flaws. I know . . . that’s just crazy talk!!

      • The page you cited is irrelevant; it attempts to derail the question of whether guns are more or less likely to be used against the owner in some way (including against family) by trying to make claims about other forms of violence. Those claims, whether right or wrong (and they are extremely questionable, by the way; I took a course in statistics in college and they are being very disingenuous) are irrelevant. The page does NOTHING AT ALL to disprove the claim you’re trying to disprove.

        Moving on: the NRA is against any sort of preventative measure against gun crime, which means that being anti-gun crime post facto is fairly pointless. They’re against registration, they’re against serious repercussions against unscrupulous dealers (the laws we have now are unenforceable and in any case have such weak penalties that there isn’t much point in enforcing them — largely because the NRA opposed anything better), they’re against anyone anywhere ever being able to say: you can own all the guns you like but you can’t bring them here, and they’re against any sort of limitation as to firepower. The NRA has explicitly argued that I should be able to carry a loaded semiautomatic weapon with teflon-coated bullets with me into your place of business and not even be required to tell you I am doing so; this is madness.

        Our lack of serious enforcement has all sorts of repercussions. Just to name one: it’s fairly well-known among Texans that the drug gangs in Mexico get most of their guns over here in the US. They have agents buy the guns over the counter using cash in Texas, and since the waiting periods aren’t enforced and there’s no registration, they get the guns same day without any significant transaction record, and when those guns get used to kill people in Mexico, there’s no trail and you get a bunch of smug gun dealers saying “prove it was me who sold that”. Any time you hear anyone worry about the lawlessness in Mexico and drug smuggling and how it’s starting to encroach on the southern US, remember that This Was Brought To You By The NRA.

        What would work to actually stop some of the problems? Require registration. Have a one-year grace period for registration of existing firearms; after that, although there’s no point in searching for them, discovery of possession of an unregistered firearm should be treated like discovery of possession of cocaine currently is. Enact much stiffer permit laws (more testing, and repeated yearly tests to renew, just for a start — right now there are states where a gun owner can get a license without knowing how the safety works OR that gun licenses aren’t valid across state lines) and no concealed carry off your own property, by federal mandate. Require manufacturers and dealers to keep track of serial numbers at every transaction (it isn’t that hard these days) so dealers who turn out to have sold illegally can actually get tracked down and punished — and vastly increase the penalties. And above a certain level of firepower — I concede that there are totally legitimate uses for, say, a rifle; there are people living out in the wilds who have to cope with aggressive wildlife — tax everything so heavily at every transfer between the manufacturer and the user that the price of a semi-automatic weapon to the user is better compared with the price of a house than anything else.

        And before you come back with “but that hasn’t been proven to make anyone safer”, which is the go-to argument for pro-gun people these days, nothing you have suggested has been proven to make us any safer, either. If anything, history certainly shows that gun crime has increased with access to guns. At the very least, enacting my suggestions would create both a lot of jobs and a lot of tax revenue to pay for those jobs.

        • You know what is interesting? There is no discussion when one says “that is irrelevant”. And there is no discussion when one makes an argument from authority. I am glad you had a course in statistics. The sources that are linked in the page you dismiss have taken a few more courses than that. Why, I myself have a minor in math. So, for instance, I can go and get FBI crime data and put together my own tables.

          There are excellent arguments and counter-arguments regarding the study cited, both from people who want to prove its validity and people who want to question it. For my own self, looking at the original study, it was a very small sample in Philadelphia. It did not control for a number of things, but one of the main objections I have is the assumption that what is true in Philadelphia is true in rural Pennsylvania, in other cities, small towns, etc. But I am not the expert, so I do read both pro and con arguments. That I draw a different conclusion from you may be due to a personal bias, but I venture that is the same for you . . . except I am fairly certain you have not read as extensively as I have both sides of the argument. I could be wrong; I would not want to assume I know more about it than you do. All I know is that I have a different opinion than yours, and that according to you it’s irrelevant.

          You also make a number of other claims, only this time they are claims from ignorance. You obviously do not know the history of “Teflon-coated” bullets, nor what that means, and I don’t have the time or inclination to educate you on them.

          I walk around with a .357 magnum, and I do not believe I need to tell a business that I am carrying, any more than I have to tell them anything else about myself, or what else I have in my person. If they do not want guns legally carried into their place of business, all they need to do is post a sign saying so, and I will stay out. To do otherwise is to break the law . . . in every state I know of.

          As for it being “madness”, I would like to have it explained why, other than in your opinion that is so. Here’s an interesting factoid; I have a Colorado permit to carry a concealed weapon such as my gun, but it does not allow me to legally carry a knife with a blade longer than 3”.

          The 2.75” pocket knife I always have with me would be illegal in Michigan, where I used to live, because they have a 2.5 inch limit (or had; I’ve been gone from there a few years). Now, that to me is “madness”.

          I have no answer to the “it’s fairly well known” argument because it’s not worth anything, and there is plenty of data to work with, and it’s by no means clear what exactly is going on there. It cracks me up when they show confiscated guns “from the US” and there are fully automatic weapons in display. It may make the average Joe Blow feel all self-righteous, but that’s because they do not know how difficult it is to buy, sell, or trade fully automatic weapons in the US. Further, if you followed the news lately, there are some interesting things coming to light about the very agencies entrusted with regulating guns, enforcing gun laws, and gathering statistic of gun usage and origin, especially in the border areas.

          Again, I have no interest to educate on matters that are easily researched. The Wiki entry on the matter presents both the claim, and the doubts cast on those claims. Their entry sounds to me as favoring the same claim you make, but at least they cite the opposing views. Views you obviously dismiss because, after all, “it’s fairly well known”.

          I won’t dignify your “suggestions” as they are not in the spirit of an actual discussion. Oh, perhaps I can tell you about people “in the wild” having to cope with aggressive wildlife. There are bear warning in my neighborhood (Monument, Colorado). There have been cougar attacks in Colorado Springs, an urban area with over a half a million people. There are bears in Woodland Park where I work, and our hummingbird feeders are destroyed a couple of times each year by bears. I get there around 6:00am. I am the first one there, and there is no one there until 7:00. Everywhere we hike around here is both bear and cougar country, and there have been attacks by both. For the record, I do not carry a rifle for protection . . . people apparently get nervous when they see someone walking around with a rifle.

          • I walk around with a .357 magnum, and I do not believe I need to tell a business that I am carrying, any more than I have to tell them anything else about myself, or what else I have in my person.

            I’m curious as to why. Why do you feel the need or the desire or whatever it is that motivates you to walk around with a .357? Have you ever been attacked? Is there a high crime rate in your area? You said you are in Colorado. Is that a custom to the locality?

            I ask because I’m curious. I guess at some point then I need to extrapolate your answers and come to some conclusion as to why, overall, people who carry feel a need to do so.

            The 2.75” pocket knife I always have with me would be illegal in Michigan, where I used to live, because they have a 2.5 inch limit (or had; I’ve been gone from there a few years). Now, that to me is “madness”.

            Madness? I’m not so sure. From my POV, it’s evidence of the inconsistency of the laws from state to state, which allows people who are so inclined to use that to their advantage. Like education, family law and many others, this is something that has been historically left up to the states. Perhaps a truly comprehensive federal law would help? Perhaps one is in place. The Brady law is in place isn’t it? Though if I remember correctly it was somewhat watered down through the efforts of the NRA.

            Private citizens are not allowed to own nuclear weapons (probably couldn’t afford them) but that’s a drastic example of the feds superseding everyone in matters of inherently dangerous things, a category which I think guns fall into. Pick a less drastic example, like bazookas, or anti-aircraft weapons or mortars. We aren’t allowed to own them, despite the 2nd Amendment (time to bring that into the discussion. Aren’t they “Arms”?) It’s pretty obvious that our mentality on guns, as simple as handguns, has gotten us in trouble, not to mention the technology of firepower is somewhat different than it was in 1791. (see, e.g. The deadliest weapon ever invented. We need to as a society recognize that we are killing ourselves with the unhealthy love of guns and do something comprehensive to change that culture of adoration.

            So? Anyone want to tell me whether the 2nd Amendment is a good reason to resist gun control? Or maybe that wasn’t phrased correctly. How about “Does the 2nd Amendment prevent us from seriously affecting individuals rights concerning their guns?”

  5. Just because people are checked out before getting a gun does not mean that one day they will not use them illegally. According to Wikipedia, gun deaths in the USA are 40 times that of the UK. In the UK there are few, if any, legally-owned handguns in peoples’ homes. The same goes for automatic weapons. Shotguns and rifles can only be stored at home by licence and with a good reason,but again this is pretty rare except for farmers. UK residents feel comfortable in the knowledge that guns are few and far between and there is no (overt) lobbying to change this situation as I doubt if there would be any support for increasing gun ownership..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_United_Kingdom

  6. OK, I’ve taken significant time to respond to a few of the posts. I will be frank and say the level of discussion here is lacking any kind of depth. It is my impression people are not only not knowledgeable on the subject, but have neglected to do even basic research on it. The arguments are little more than regurgitation of press kits from people who don’t like guns much.

    Counter that with excellent discussions I have had with thoughtful proponents for gun control from both here in the US, Australia, and Europe. Numbers are cited, links are provided, logical arguments are made without vilification and in an effort to truly understand both sides of the question.

    For the record, as with all implements capable of inflicting damage to others, I am in favor of reasonable regulations. The problem is that I do not trust the other side to actually meet me half way. There is plenty of history around the world and here in the US supporting the slippery slope argument. It is, in fact, a stated aim of major gun control organizations. So, not only are they not meeting me half way, they are duplicitous in their negotiations.

    It’s how I see it, and as such, I am with many other gun owners in favoring holding the line. That the NRA has the same stance is neither here or there. They don’t always do or say what I like, much like many of us don’t always agree with what our favorite politician does or proposes, but they are broadly in the same camp I am. They too see no reason why I should have to curtail my access, legal ownership, and legal use of guns.

    With that gentlemen, I withdraw from the discussion. I have better and more fruitful endeavors I would like to attend to. Good night.

    • With that gentlemen, I withdraw from the discussion. I have better and more fruitful endeavors I would like to attend to. Good night.

      You say that now, but you’ll be back. ;) A good discussion never ends until it’s been depleted of thought. We’re nowhere near that point yet.

      I have to disagree with your contention that no one has given you any good arguments, though. I have not addressed some of the links you provided because frankly, statistics bore me, and both sides seem to be able to pull up statistics to counter the other on a moments whim. (“Lies, damned lies and statistics”) I see that kind of discussion to be part of the problem, not a help in the solution, because while we throw charts and graphs and polls at each other, the gun manufactures have managed to put another couple of million guns into circulation, and the effort to get them out of circulation will cost so much, not just in money but in lives lost, and take so much time, that it becomes an un-winnable proposition.

      I frankly don’t see any disagreement from either side that there is a serious problem with gun violence in the country. The arguments revolve around, (nonsensically, in my opinion), whether the solution should be to infringe on someone’s “right” to own a gun, or not. Until that’s resolved, all the statistics in the world will be useless.

  7. Greg Laden is on a roll. Here is another post dealing with a study showing that statutory intercession can cut down on the incident of legal guns falling into the hands of criminals from gun dealers.

    • That should be seen by everyone whose only experience with guns is what they see on TV shows. Those suckers have a lot of kick, and don’t always work the way you want them to.

  8. This is the one subject where I certainly wander off the reservation. Where I generally disagree with the liberal line. I am NOT a member of the NRA. Was once. I got tired of the begging for money in my mailbox at least three times a week. And I cannot stand Wayne LaPierre. However, I truly do believe in one’s right to defend themselves with deadly force. It’s a dangerous world out there. I travel extensively by auto and I always have a handgun with me.

    I know it’s a tried cliche, but guns do not kill people. People kill people. Guns are merely a tool for the job. As are knives, hammers, bows, baseball bats, RPGs and hand grenades.

    And me personally, most likely from too much reading of websites like Injustice Everywhere and The Agitator have absolutely no use for anyone in law enforcement. In the United States, a person is 8 times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist. I don’t call 911 for any reason. Well maybe a fire. Never for a cop.

    • However, I truly do believe in one’s right to defend themselves with deadly force.

      And this is where I think the discussion tends to get mixed up. I agree with the right to defend oneself. I agree that one certainly has the right to defend themselves with the weapon of their choice (within limits). What I don’t agree with is that we as a society should allow the unfettered distribution of weapons to anyone and everyone under the guise of defending ourselves, which in my mind is the practical application of the NRA philosophy and efforts. There has to be an organizational plan that allows well-meaning and well-educated citizens to own defensive weapons, while at the same time limit access to the opposite sort of citizenry.

      • Well, you were right . . . you got me to comment again.

        Take a look at what you wrote: “well meaning and well educated” and “opposite sort of citizenry”

        First, do you see any potential for abuse in that sort of approach?

        Second, wouldn’t it be just wonderful if we could apply the same standard to all facet of our society? Like car ownership, having kids, sitting in position of authority, operating dangerous equipment, etc. Voting!!! If there is one human activity that would benefit from restricting it to only “well-meaning and well-educated” citizenry, voting has got to be it!!

        Heck, at minimum I would apply that standard to our police, security, and armed forces.

        Before I am (yet again) accused of using a straw man, I will ask you to define what those statements mean, and suggest a metric for assessing whether someone meets those requirements.

        I ask because to my experience neither well-meaning nor well-educated are qualities that assure one will not hurt others either intentionally or by accident, be it related to gun ownership, or any other facet of human existence.

        Further, there is a long history of using something close to that approach to subjugate and deny rights to large segments of the population.

        • I will ask you to define what those statements mean, and suggest a metric for assessing whether someone meets those requirements.

          I see what you mean. There will never be a perfect system where only the bad people get filtered out and be denied access to guns.

          Still, there has to be some way of tightening things up a bit. People like Jared Loughner and the Virginia Tech shooter should not have been able to acquire firearms. Or a man who has an order of protection against him. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve read in my life where a jealous ex-husband or boyfriend, in spite of having an order of protection against him, was able to stalk and shoot their ex-wives or girlfriends in a public place.

          Or are sad episodes like this just the price we have to pay to maintain our Second Amendment rights?

        • Well, you were right . . . you got me to comment again.

          My work here is done. ;)

          Take a look at what you wrote: “well meaning and well educated” and “opposite sort of citizenry”

          First, do you see any potential for abuse in that sort of approach?

          Well, again, I’m not setting forth any proposals, I’m asking questions. Don’t take short blog comments as well formulated policy positions. I was simply trying to point out a distinction between those that will use guns for valid purposes and those that won’t.

          And if I’m allowed, Emile, this is part of the (sometimes irrational) defensiveness that gun owners exhibit, as if any criticism is a personal attempt to take all their guns away from them. We need to get past that before we ever have a worthwhile dialog.

          Second, wouldn’t it be just wonderful if we could apply the same standard to all facet of our society? Like car ownership, having kids, sitting in position of authority, operating dangerous equipment, etc. Voting!!! If there is one human activity that would benefit from restricting it to only “well-meaning and well-educated” citizenry, voting has got to be it!!

          I recognize your sarcasm, but there are times when I would love to apply that standard to voting. But seriously, how can you compare something allowed in a broad generalized abstract sense (voting, reproduction, transportation) to something that one individual, either intentionally or negligently, can pick up, point at another human, and use it to take that life. (OK, the car analogy might arguably work for that, but only with some rhetorical convolutions. We stop all transportation? Take guns from that equation and life as we know it still continues pretty much unchanged. Take cars out and life as we know it changes drastically.)

          Heck, at minimum I would apply that standard to our police, security, and armed forces.

          Before I am (yet again) accused of using a straw man, I will ask you to define what those statements mean, and suggest a metric for assessing whether someone meets those requirements.

          See above

          I ask because to my experience neither well-meaning nor well-educated are qualities that assure one will not hurt others either intentionally or by accident, be it related to gun ownership, or any other facet of human existence.

          Further, there is a long history of using something close to that approach to subjugate and deny rights to large segments of the population.

          Again, I ask the question, I don’t pose an answer. Admittedly it’s not an easy resolution, and people will fall between the cracks. And as Tommy implied, the goal would not be to eliminate gun violence. I’d be happy if we could simply get it in line with other countries that have better success. There are no absolutes involved.

          Maybe I’m being Pollyannish, but there should be a plan that would keep a substantial amount of illicit firearms out of the hands of people who will use them incorrectly, while ensuring that law abiding citizens can still protect themselves.

  9. Hmmm . . . I could have sworn I already said I am not against regulation. If not, let me repeat it here. I am not against regulating guns.

    However, I do want to hear a proposal, any proposal, that we can discuss. So far, nothing.

    Asking questions is fine as well, but that particular question is so broad, so fraught with potential problems and abuse that I had to speak up. It was not a matter of being defensive about the gun issue. In fact, I did not even mention the gun issue, or guns, in my reply.

    I pointed out that something so broad, and might I add, subjective, is not only impractical, but dangerous. And not just dangerous in its implementation, but even in its contemplation.

    However, now there is a question I must ask:

    you say:

    “OK, the car analogy might arguably work for that, but only with some rhetorical convolutions. We stop all transportation? Take guns from that equation and life as we know it still continues pretty much unchanged. Take cars out and life as we know it changes drastically.”

    Is that what one might call a straw man?

    I never said to abolish cars. I suggested we apply the same metric to them that you brought up.

    But, since it was brought up, no, we cannot abolish cars. But surely there must be a way of keeping cars away from the hands of people who are incapable of following rules, who lack proficiency to operate them, who routinely break the law while operating them, and who are responsible for more than 10 times the number of gun-related death?

    I’m not putting forth any proposals here, just asking questions. I mean, we already limit the kind of cars that are legal to operate, why not limit the speed at which they operate to something reasonable? Cars are tested to 35mph for crash survivability, add 20mph for convenience, and limit cars to no more than 55mph. At least initially; there is no reason I can see to operate a car beyond it’s survivability parameters. In fact, it’s what I classify as madness.

    Moreover, over half of car accidents involve the use of alcohol. Why not forbid people who drink from purchasing cars? I mean, we all know they will eventually drive with some level of impairment.

    Again, I am not proposing anything, I am just asking questions. After all, it seems to me addressing 37,000 deaths a year, countless injuries, property damages, etc. merits some discussion.

    Maybe I am being idealistic here, but as a non drinker, ex-auto engineer, and concerned citizen, I might also suggest restricting automobile use to only certain venues, and then only under strict screening, would not only save lives, but would help our current dependence on fossil fuel. It would spur the implementation and use of public transportation, thereby helping with the environmental impact of cars.

    Before I am derided, businesses like Zip Car (http://www.zipcar.com/) should be encouraged and publicly funded. In combination with expanded public transportation we could eliminate a large part of the casualties we suffer each year. People could still rent a large vehicle, even buy a large vehicle, once they demonstrate a) they have the need for one, and b) are responsible individual who will not operate it illegally, and c) have the necessary skills required to operate one.

    Or are those lives that are lost just the price we have to pay for the car culture we live in? And the drinking culture; let’s not forget the drinking culture. Surely alcohol has even less of a practical use than guns.

    Not being Pollyannish, but as I don’t personally see any benefit from alcohol, I can’t help but think of the millions of lives that are negatively impacted by it. I think abolishing it would greatly improve the human condition. After all, I don’t drink, and I have a great life. For one, I can both operate a vehicle and handle a gun responsibly.

    • Madness is doing 55mph in the left lane. If that’s your comfortable driving speed, please get out of the way and move to the center or right lane and please, put down the phone or whatever device you’re paying more attention to than the road.

      Within a city, certainly zip cars and public transportation are much needed necessities but neither are that viable once you push out into the ‘burbs and more rural areas.

      I have to laugh at your hypocritical positions. As much as you are the contrast to SI on guns, you essentially are him when it comes to alcohol. Ranting against alcohol and then boasting how you can responsibly operate a gun is funny. No one can operate a drink responsibly? LOL!

      The argument that anyone who ever drinks alcohol should be barred from ever driving or something comparably impactful is hopefully just a joke, because where does it end? Let’s bar women from everything since periodically they have radical emotional shifts. Hey, let’s ban anyone who is single and dating since you know how potentially unstable relationships can make someone. Let’s bar those with high stress jobs, too. Oh, and let’s bar anyone over say 50 from driving since they have the potential for having a heart attack while driving, and we can extend that to any age if they’re obese.

    • But, since it was brought up, no, we cannot abolish cars. But surely there must be a way of keeping cars away from the hands of people who are incapable of following rules, who lack proficiency to operate them, who routinely break the law while operating them, and who are responsible for more than 10 times the number of gun-related death?

      Well, actually, if we’re going to use the gun/automobile comparison, society does significantly more to accomplish what you suggest concerning automobiles, than guns. We already have laws and regulations that require one meet, first, an age (maturity/experience) level, before one can drive a car. We then require that those new drivers receive a certain amount of training and eduction, and pass a driving test. We then require that once they have a license to drive, they follow a very detailed set of laws (The Traffic Code in PA) while driving, or suffer fines, penalties, restrictions and even forfeiture of their privilege to drive (driving is deemed a privilege, while gun ownership seems to be a right – go figure) if they violate them. Then most, maybe all, states require insurance to cover a driver if something goes wrong and someone is injured by your use of an automobile, and if you drive without insurance, you can lose your license, or even go to jail. There are also criminal laws that address negligent homicides involving the use of automobiles. Using alcohol while driving is one seriously enforced statute on all the books, though admittedly it took efforts by an anti-drinking and driving lobby group (MADD) to change the consciousness of society to the point where these statutes are strictly enforced.

      Imagine how many more deaths by automobile there would be if we treated cars like we do guns? I think the current state of the law now minimizes those deaths and injuries about as well as we can, given the necessity of transportation. As a public policy, we balance the need for transportation against the costs of regulation, and this is the result. We don’t do that with guns.

      So, having compared guns to automobiles, why not use that example to arrive at a proposal regarding guns? I’ll bite the bullet and throw one out here for everyone’s contemplation:

      1. Enact a law that before anyone can buy, own or use any gun, including those for hunting, they reach a required minimum age, say 18. No exceptions.
      2. In the same statute, require that all gun owners, purchasers and users receive extensive training in the use, storage, abuse and handling of guns, and pass a test to show proficiency and knowledge. Require periodic retraining after time passes.
      3. Require that all gun owners obtain liability insurance that will compensate people injured by their guns, even if the guns are stolen, or get into the hands of people who are not authorized to use the guns.
      4. Require forfeiture of guns if there is a lapse of insurance, or if there is a violation of any of the above gun laws.
      5. Enact a statute that requires gun manufacturers to make their guns so that they can only be used by a specific end user, much like cars with keys. A little electronic combination code on the handle, much like you use on your cell phone to unlock it, would be easy and cheap, and add little cost to the gun. Also, make gun manufacturers strictly liable for crimes used with their guns. Right now they are insulated from liability, unless they manufacture a defective weapon.
      6. In conjunction with all this we need a MADD type lobbying organization to counter the NRA. I’d love to outlaw the NRA, but existing laws allowing them to lobby don’t permit that, not to mention the First Amendment. But a consciousness raising and change to the collective attitude about guns is sorely needed.
      7. Finally, something like the original Brady Bill should be enacted, not the watered down version. I personally think we should also repeal the 2nd Amendment, because it’s used as an all-too-convenient excuse to do nothing.

      The practical effect of all this would be to slow down the distribution of guns, by making them more difficult to own.The insurance requirement alone will probably make them prohibitively expensive, because the insurance industry will require all sorts of additional requirements to make their insurance affordable. Underwriting will probably exclude all sorts of people from insurability.

      All of that would be a start to diminish the use of guns for the future generations. The guns that are already out there will have to be destroyed as time goes on, when they are picked up in the use of crimes, or as they get older and more obsolete, or otherwise come into the hands of authorities. Not much more than that can be done about them now. That horse is out of the barn.

      That should be a good start. I’m sure gun lovers will hate it but you asked me for a proposal. If we as a society have the will to do something, acknowledging the problem and understanding that it will require sacrifice and effort, then we’ll do it. If we’re more concerned about the so-called rights of gun owners over those of the victims, then we won’t. It’s really that simple.

      • 3, 4, and 5 are insane.

        3. Looks like you’re just trying to make people lock up their guns in safes for their entire lives. Someone steals a gun, uses it for a crime, and the victim of the theft has to pay for that via making insurance payments? How about the criminal, instead?

        4. This one’s insane only because 3 is insane. Complying with 1 and 2 wouldn’t be a problem at all.

        5. This one’s insane because it punishes gun manufacturers merely for putting their products on the market, as they can’t control whether or not crimes will be committed with their products.

        Basically, the above items would seem to lead to de facto gun bans, which would do a whole lot more than what you’d previously been advocating.

        I’m no “gun nut”. I don’t own a gun. I’m not sure I’ll ever get one. I find “gun nuts” and the NRA disturbing sometimes. I would like to see fewer guns and far less adoration of “gun culture”, as you mentioned. But even I think the above items are way much.

        • Well, aside from the hyperbole in the word “insane” I would tend to agree with you, but only in the strict sense that given the current state of the law, and attitudes of society, it’s not a very realistic proposal. I’ll admit it was purposely provocative in order to engender discussion.

          But, it seems if attitudes were different, and we seriously wanted to do something about gun violence in this country, and weren’t afraid to “violate ” the 2nd Amendment, then it would take something drastic like what I propose to do so, as entrenched as guns are, not only in reality, but also in the collective psyche of the country.

          It would boil down to “Make guns expensive and difficult to own, and people won’t own them.”

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