Time to get guns out of the hands of crazy people

Bumped, because kindergardeners shouldn't be shot. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The slaughter of 20 little children and many of their teachers today in Connecticut reminded me that the Second Amendment states only that state militias should be armed. That’s it. Not in a state militia: no right to bear arms:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Want to own a gun as a private citizen, for example as a hunter? Do it subject to reasonable limitations imposed by our elected representatives. My proposal for a good first principle: crazy people should not be allowed to own guns.

Of course, the narrowest possible Supreme Court majority doesn’t agree with me at all, but they would if they were progressive, reality-based thinkers instead of blinkered ideologues locked in an intellectual Tower of Silence and corrupted by corporate money.

Why should kindergardeners be sacrificed to zealots assembled by the gun industry to ensure profits: the National Rifle Association. More generally, the current anarchist-inspired gun rules in this country are an inspirational example of the importance of getting the radical faction that dominates the Supreme Court out of office and accelerating the demise of the Republican Party that put them there.

Most specifically, for the record, the recently departed Senator Scott “As you can see, she’s not” Brown generally opposed gun control regulation during his tenure in Washington and, before that, in Massachusetts. Just one example of the harm that small-minded politician did during his time in office. Globe:

In January 2011, following an Arizona shooting that killed six people and injured US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Brown offered more pointed opposition to federal gun restric­tions, saying he was “not in favor of doing any additional federal regulations with regard to any type of weapons or federal gun changes.’’ …

In the Legislature, Brown was a reliable vote for gun rights, with one major exception. He supported the state version of an assault weapons ban. But several of his votes earned top marks from gun rights groups, including an A-plus in 2008 from the Gun Owners’ Action League. Among them was a vote against a 2004 measure that sought to ban ­assault weapons manufactured prior to 1994. While serving as a state representative in 2002, he sided with a number of Democrats in allowing residents who had certain felony convictions to get gun licenses after seven years.



Discuss

82 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. It's long past time.

    I thought that the shooting of an actual Member of Congress – Gabrielle Giffords – by a crazy person would be enough. I wrote at the time, “if Congress cannot stand up to the NRA now that one of its own has nearly lost her life to gun violence, then Congress is more craven than I would have thought conceivable.” Of course, I underestimated the extent to which Congress caves to the NRA every chance it gets. And now, 18 grade school children, along with several adults who were trying to educate them, are dead.

    And here’s something to remember: talking about gun control when something like this happens is not “politicizing” a tragedy. It is, rather, a statement that events like this are totally unacceptable and should not be allowed to happen, and that a decent society would try to find ways of ensuring that they don’t. We can and will disagree on the best way forward. But the notion that we shouldn’t even talk about it? I reject that utterly.

  2. If anything good can possibly come out of this tragedy it's if

    we finally agree as a society that this kind of danger from the unrestricted availability of guns is unacceptable.

    We are in more danger as a country at this point from mentally unstable people with guns than from Al-Qaeda. I pray we finally get the leadership and cooperation from our elected leaders, starting with President Obama, to enact meaningful gun control.

  3. Thank you for posting this. Here in SmallTown (Scott Brown lives a few miles away) we have a vocal group of gun defenders. They exhibit the following characteristics:

    1. Guns endow their possessors with magical powers.
    2. Any attempt to regulate firearms must be resisted.
    3. A tiny number of irresponsible gun owners create anti-gun sentiment that is expanded by the media.

    On the last point, if everyone were responsible, we wouldn’t need laws, regulations, stop signs, and prohibitions.

    • Tiny number of irresponsible...

      … voters attempt to commit voter fraud and the Republican Party rushes to write new laws regulating the right to vote while Fox news pushes the story for months. Someone who believes that voter ID laws are reasonable and necessary please explain to me how gun control legislation is any different.

  4. I'm from the town next door.

    Sandy Hook Elementary was five miles from the front door of the house in which I was raised. I’m terrified to check my email and find out that the child of a classmate of mine is amongst the murdered.

    • Not as small as it looks

      My girlfriends boss, a UCC pastor in Chicago who has been a leader in stopping gun violence in Chicago, also has family in the area. My thoughts and prayers are with them all. She was briefing Rahm Emmanuel on her work this morning when he was informed of the tragedy and he is furious that the Supreme Court destroyed the effectiveness of our city to contain violence like this. We have lost five times as many kids as Newton over the course of this year, the fact that the incidents are scattered and occur to the black, brown and poor gives it scant coverage. But it’s time we did something for these kids in Chicago and Newtown and Aurora and everywhere in this country to make our schools free of violence.

  5. We need to have a serious discussion about guns in this country. Not a hysterical one, a serious one. There is a difference between reasonable regulation and “taking away everyone’s guns.” It should not be easier to buy a gun than get a driver’s license.

    But we also have to have a serious discussion in this country about mental illness and how we deal with it. Ever since de-institutionalization in the ’70s, we seem to have decided that this problem will somehow take care of itself. It won’t.

    If you missed it, read the story from the Sunday NYTimes magazine last summer about a woman dealing with her father’s mental illness. It’s not only heartbreaking, but it points to the lack of resources to deal with troubled adults:

    Joe Bruce’s story is particularly haunting. In 2005, his son William, who had schizophrenia, was discharged from a mental health facility, even though he had recently threatened two people with a gun. Bruce remembers begging the facility to reconsider. “I said: ‘In all likelihood, he is going to kill someone. And in all likelihood, that someone is going to be her.’ And I pointed to my wife and asked them: ‘Do you understand? Do. You. Understand?’ And they let him out anyway.” One year later, William killed his mother with a hatchet.

    • Agree 1000 times with all these sentiments

      My grandfather was killed by gun violence so I have always been in favor of more restrictions and regulations. It is high time those of us that are not among the victims and survivors stand together with those of us that are and demand an end to this insanity. These are acts of terrorism and if we sacrificed so many civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism we can certainly lose this right to bare arms on demand.

      But oceandem is also right. My dad lived through this era and retired early since he could no longer stomach going into work and seeing how poorly we are dealing with these people that need treatment and help.

    • Whoops

      Sorry – I meant to hit the + sign and accidentally hit -

      You had a fantastic, great post that I 100% agree with. The mental health aspect is every bit as important as new and reasonable gun regulations, and thank you for bringing that up.

      RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 6:43 PM
  6. "crazy people should not be allowed to own guns"

    I think that explains the GOP opposition. This first principle you suggest would affect too many of them personally:)

  7. I don't really follow the gun rights arguments

    but generally believe in the right to bear arms with reasonable restrictions. However, in my experience in Massachusetts, the laws are pretty onerous, an example being that in order for me to legally carry pepper spray, that’s right, pepper spray, there is an application process for an FID card and then I have to be fingerprinted. That is pretty restrictive for something that can’t even kill a person necessarily. So is this a federal law that you all keep wanting to be passed that will make states rights irrelevant and all laws be comparable to Massachusetts laws. Although this will be controversial to say here, I do mostly believe that the gun doesn’t commit the crime, the criminal does. This is a horrifying crime that was committed today. It makes me want to break down in tears that these poor children had to endure this. I think the more broader issue is not gun laws, but a mental health crisis. What the hell is going on? Is it video games? Is it too many parents working too many hours and leaving their children in day care centers day after day at such a young age? To much structure, not enough down time. Is it lack of opportunity and hope? There is a much bigger issue going on here.

    • in my experience in Massachusetts, the laws are pretty onerous, an example being that in order for me to legally carry pepper spray, that’s right, pepper spray, there is an application process for an FID card and then I have to be fingerprinted. That is pretty restrictive for something that can’t even kill a person necessarily

      You find that onerous? What, you should be able to pick it up at Wal*Mart, put it in your pocket, and spray away? It’s a weapon, capable of substantial harm on a number of people at once, with no warning. I would hope you’d also be required to be photographed, and prove that you’ve had training on how to use the weapon properly and store it safely.

      So is this a federal law that you all keep wanting to be passed that will make states rights irrelevant and all laws be comparable to Massachusetts laws.

      That the SCOTUS has ruled that I can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre does not in any way make states rights irrelevant.

      Although this will be controversial to say here, I do mostly believe that the gun doesn’t commit the crime, the criminal does.

      The criminal couldn’t have killed dozens of people today with a knife or a club. The gun was a necessary element in the mass murder in Connecticut today. You know who doesn’t have deaths by assault as high a rate as we have in America? Every single other OECD country. By a factor ranging from 2 to 20. In every single year over the last 50 years. You can point to video games or parents working or day care or structure or lack of opportunity or all this other nonsense. Or, you can point to the obvious: America allows people far easier access to guns — the very tool we use to murder each other an awful lot of the time. The “much bigger issue” is that we as a nation selfishly complain about having to be fingerprinted to get pepper spray instead of collectively realizing that restrictive gun laws dramatically reduce the number of accidental deaths, suicides, and murders in our own country, our own community, even within our own family.

      • Addendum

        Mexico and Estonia were excluded from the chart I saw about OECD countries. So except for those two.

      • no stomv

        “you should be able to pick it up at Wal*Mart, put it in your pocket, and spray away?” Not spray away, but have it available in case of an emergency. I’m here to get educated about gun laws in the United States, so I have a lot of googling to do. I have family and friends who are hunters, and they are pretty responsible with their weapons. They are locked in gun safes or cabinets, their children have been properly trained in gun safety. They do go hunting and follow all the laws as far as time, weight and quantity restrictions. They also fish. I know that is a bizarre concept to many, but it is a way of life for some people. It seems to me there are already a ton of gun laws. I guess it’s time to start learning more about this issue, because if this keeps going on, I want to support the right solution, which aside from more gun laws, might be addressing the mental health crisis in this country.

        • If you want it in an emergency

          have it. But that doesn’t mean that owning it shouldn’t entail legal requirements.

          Restrictive gun laws can go hand in hand with permissive hunting. Hunting doesn’t require semi-automatic weaponry. It doesn’t require Saturday night specials either. Hunting doesn’t require clips that hold dozens of bullets. Hunting doesn’t require that the hunter be able to buy guns at a flea market. Hunting doesn’t require a bullet proof vest. Hunting doesn’t require that you be able to purchase a gun within hours or even days of the hunt.

        • Do your friends hunt with hand guns or automatic weapons?

          Because it seems that most of these incidents do not involve hunting rifles.

          Whether or not you really need to carry around pepper spray, it seems like a whole lot of whining to complain about the few hoops you have to jump through to get it. You got it anyway, right? It can be pain to get your driver license as well – big deal.

          Anyway, you can bet that once again nothing is going to come of this incident. Until crazy people start opening fire at NRA board meetings, or start killing the family members of gun company executives, you can pretty much bet that politicians aren’t going to be willing to upset the gun lobby by doing anything substantive about gun safety or about keeping guns out of the hands of people who will commit crimes with them.

          • I think it's that the issue is debated in soundbites and

            generalities. I am certain there could be a lot of support behind assault weapon bans, but the issue never gets discussed beyond the beginning introductory sentences.

            • The issue is debated in blood

              Almost 30 people died today, including 18 kids from the ages of 5 and 10, and you call that a soundbite?

              How dare you.

              RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 6:30 PM
            • I agree

              that the complexities of these issues rarely get full exposure with the public engaged (v. a few talking heads on news shows). Public education does not provide a venue for in-depth analysis of the pros/cons of gun control or lack thereof. In a rural hunting-fishing community today in MA, as reported by a high school student to me, few educators or students had knowledge of current gun laws or the historical, economic, political and criminal aspects associated with this serious matter.

          • Being fingerprinted is not a minor hoop

            it’s insulting and makes you feel like a criminal for wanting to protect yourself. It’ not like I want to carry a concealed firearm. This is where laws cross lines, and fingerprints for pepper spray is beyond ridiculous.

            • TWENTY CHILDREN ARE DEAD!

              Twenty children were murdered in their classroom this morning. I suggest we talk about automatic weapons right now, instead of pepper-spray.

            • Nonsense

              If you feel like a criminal that is your hangup. I had no problem getting fingerprinted when I worked for a brokerage firm. Once again, big deal. Stop whining. Pepper spray is a chemical weapon, not a toy. I have no problem with people being fingerprinted before being allowed to buy it. The last thing I want is for thugs to be able to easily purchase pepper spray and use it mug people.

            • I got fingerprinted to do...

              … work on sensitive infrastructure. This was done for the safety of everyone around be because of theoretical damage I could do. It seems to me that the same principal is operant for gun ownership. That it’s fingerprints rather than ‘mere’ registration is just a matter of degree. Given the number of deaths involved it seems to be a very reasonable degree to me. Moreover, we often hear about ‘enforce the laws that are already on the books’. Fingerprinting helps enforce responsible gun ownership. As such, the NRA should be for it.

            • me! me! me! me!

              I think I sense a theme.

              • In my classroom

                there is a smiley face sticker on the wall, high up by the ceiling, in the corner of the room to which I am to take my students to huddle and cower should there be a shooter in my school. Every day teachers across America enter their classrooms, having been instructed on which corner of their rooms are deemed the most safe, and teach as if there’s nothing wrong with the society they live in.

                And somebody thinks it’s “insulting” to get fingerprinted in order to carry around a chemical weapon, something to be used should he or she someday feel threatened or unsafe?

            • That's nuts

              I had a three-month internship with the Justice Department. Fingerprinted.

              People use pepper spray for legitimate defense. But mistakes can happen too, and it can harm people. Being able to figure out who used it and what the hell happened seems legitimate.

              Anyway, it has nothing to do with restrictions on combat-level rifles. SomervilleTom is absolutely right.

          • Well

            The issue with “reasonable regulations” is that a good number of the supporters of such regulations view it as a stepping stone to a ban, and said as much when the 90s “assault” weapon ban was enacted. In this respect it is a bit like the way that supporters of restrictions on immigration carry a strong odor of those who support restrictions on immigration from countries with people with dark skin.

            Second, yes people hunt with handguns. The range is shorter and the aim is more difficult, and the handgun is more challenging. A bit like golfers who choose to use the pro tees.

            Third, the 90s ban was a farce, focusing only on superficial and cosmetic qualities of the weapons. The result was a “ban” in which almost any basement tinkerer could easily convert a legal weapon into an illegal one.

            Fourth, any reasonable discussion of national regulation must begin (on this side) by acknowledging that a significant portion of the country–probably a majority in most states that don’t touch the Pacific or North Atlantic ocean– believe that the keeping and bearing of arms is a fundamental right of citizens of the republic, just as is free speech. And by an acknowledgment that most of these people believe (not complely unreasonably, in my view) that many/most advocates of gun control seek more than mere regulation.

            Lastly, a reasonable discussion must acknowledge that the number of firearms owned by the people of the United States is sufficiently large that regulation, even if enacted will not necessarily prevent incidents like yesterday’s.

            On the other side, advocates of 2nd Amendement rights must, if acting in good faith, acknowledge that, while “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” people with guns kill one hell of a lot more people, and that this is a problem.

            Honestly, I do not see any prospect of a “reasonable discussion,” much less a prospect of a political solution via gun control or regulation. The two sides are too entrenched, too mistrustful of the other side, and too interested in their own righteousness to consider addressing the other’s mistrust, rather than dismissing it. If it was going to happen, it would have happened after Columbine. It didn’t, and isn’t going to happen now either.

            The suggestion of approaching the problem through the improvement of treatment of mental illnesses therefore seems more promising, if only because it seems remotely possible.

            • On the lack of reasonable discussion

              Given that positions are so frozen, I’m with Alison Benedikt of Slate who offers an impassioned, and, I think, completely correct plea to politicize this tragedy immediately:

              Right, right, today’s not the day because we wouldn’t want to politicize a tragedy. That might make you look crass. And more important than stopping future elementary school students from being shot in the face and head and chest and little legs is for you to show a little tact by rising above your unseemly urge to make this country better. Also, you don’t want to offend anyone directly involved in the shooting. Like the parents of the kids who were murdered this morning while learning basic addition and how to write their ABCs. I’m sure they just want you to stay out of it for the day—keep it to yourself, will ya? Because no one likes a president who would immediately and decisively stand up to stop something like this from happening again. That’s just too political, and you are a statesman.

              And yeah, I agree that there’s a fear that gun control could be too stupid or go too far, but jeez if we can’t be reasonable, let us please use the natural emotions we have in the face of this tragedy, take advantage, and for once do some good.

            • You're not wrong

              The thing is, I don’t think the left is arguing fora ban on guns, or that hunting should be outlawed, etc.

              The way I see it — as a person who has no interest in ever touching a firearm but who also has a brother-in-law* who loves to hunt — is this:
              1. I don’t see folks on the left arguing that the 2nd amendment should be ignored, just as the first amendment can’t be completely ignored. I see folks on the left arguing for sensible restrictions which protect both individual liberty and group liberty. Nor have I ever heard the claim that better gun regulation would *prevent* any group of crime; that it would merely reduce the frequency seems like a good enough start.
              2. The gun rights side hasn’t recently proposed a sensible restriction. They treat every possible restriction as the slippery slope. You don’t hear the ACLU arguing that yelling fire in a theatre should be OK because of the first amendment, but you hear the NRA argue that veterans who’s mental health is so, ahem, questionable that those vets aren’t allowed to make their own medical or financial decisions should be allowed to buy a gun without any additional process. They made that argument what, 2 weeks ago. So yeah, if the NRA et al made proposals to make it harder for (a) mentally ill, (b) criminals, (c) minors, and (d) those without training or permission to obtain or use guns, they’d have some credibility and we’d all be safer. But they don’t. They opposed (a) two weeks ago. They oppose requiring that guns be stored so that criminals, kids, and those without training can’t steal them or otherwise use them without permission, and they oppose adequate background checks at places like gun shows. They oppose restrictions on what kinds of guns can be sold to private users, even if the gun or ammo is designed to kill many people at close range, or ammo designed to pierce vests.

              An NRA interested in public interest could easily quell lots of the folks on the left by simply working with politicians to tailor laws which make it harder for folks who shouldn’t have guns to get them. Instead, we get Stand Your Ground laws and Castle Doctrine, both of which are designed to ensure that those with the guns get to treat their instinct as more valuable than human life. Instead, they’ve found that by being extremist, they’re able to got what they want and to hell with the victims of gun violence. Since 1994, the NRA has been clear — you do *anything* to restrict gun ownership, and they’ll do everything they can to throw you out of office. And, they’re good at it. There are plenty of “gun rights” citizens who vote on this and only this issue — they’d vote out a gun control Republican in favor of a baby killing Muslim Harvard educated pro-gun hippie. Gun control advocates simply don’t have that kind of voter, and as a result most politicians who would get somewhere between a “B” and a “D” on an ‘honest’ NRA rating scale would really prefer working on anything but gun legislation, because there’s no winning vote.

              Bottom line, I think I’m like most folks who argue for gun control in that I don’t want to eliminate guns. I want guns to be treated with more thoughtful regulation than cars. I want folks who use guns to be licensed, and that means I want them to have to go through appropriate classroom and field training, and background checks. I want them to get a license, with photo, on par with a driver’s license. I want all guns registered, just like cars. I want some guns to be prohibited, and others to require higher levels of license — just like cars, commercial vehicles, etc. I want people who are carrying a gun on their person to not be consuming alcohol, just like folks driving a car. I want guns to have serial numbers (like license plates), and I want them to have unique imprints on the bullets. It’s true, criminals might not have drivers licenses, might be driving illegal or unsafe vehicles, might steal them, and might use them in conjunction of other criminal acts, and might even kill with them. Still, I believe our society is safer because of auto regulation, and I think we’d be safer if we treated guns and gun ownership and gun use with at least as much legal regulation as we treat cars and car ownership and car use.

              I also want to be able to use public spaces without fear of being shot. I’m not just talking about Downtown Crossings, I’m talking about outdoor spaces like National Parks. I’m not saying that hunting should be prohibited, but simply that there be sensible dividing of the space. I also want to be able to ride Amtrak without fear of guns (yet another recent “gun rights” win). Hell, you know what I want? I want our civilian deaths due to gunshot wound to be on par with other first world countries. That’s what I want. I’m tired of Americans being 5-20 times more likely to die from gunshot than just about any other country I’d be willing to raise my family in.

              * great guy, the classic Republican in Utah — hunter, outdoorsman, National Guard, career private sector military contractor after serving in Iraq, the works. Thing is, he’s a Democrat and always has been. Go figure.

              • You're right, for the most part

                But neither is there any discussion on the gun-control side– I don’t think it is fair to call it the “left” or liberal– of a limiting principle on regulation.

                “The Second Amendment doesn’t apply to individuals” or “The Second Amendment should be repealed or interpreted so as to apply to muzzle-loading muskets only” doesn’t really work as a limiting principle.

                Until then, “we’re just talking regulation here” always sounds like it is followed by a whispered “until we have some more votes.”

                So the response to “We aren’t even talking about a ban, we just want regulation” will sound the same in this debate as it does in the abortion debate, and will illicit the very same response.

                And, honestly, I have no idea how a all these public place bans– are guns allowed in elementary schools in Connecticut, and if not then WTF good did that ban do?– protect against incidents like these. Seems to me that these mass shootings have fewer victims when somebody can shoot back.

                • The public place bans

                  are a total cop-out. They are a way for politicians to look like they are serious about guns without actually doing anything. We have to get serious about regulating the weapons themselves, and the ammunition that they require, in order to get anything done. Stomv is right – wouldn’t treating them something like automobiles be a decent start?

                  • Sure it would

                    But as neither I nor you are Tiberius Ceasar or the Sun King, we should probably find some way that doesn’t begin by ignoring political reality, and by looking for a way around the brick wall rather than trying to smash through it, because we’re right dammit.

                • Wait a minute

                  “The Second Amendment doesn’t apply to individuals” or “The Second Amendment should be repealed or interpreted so as to apply to muzzle-loading muskets only” doesn’t really work as a limiting principle.

                  The Second Amendment didn’t apply to individuals until Roberts and Alito came to town just a few years ago. They overruled explicit Supreme Court precedent saying it applied to militias.

                  So be it. Let’s start with any weapon capable of firing more than 10 rounds per second. Background checks, registration, fingerprints, or just a damn outright ban. Nobody needs that kind of gun to shoot a deer. Which is cruel and gross anyway.

                  How’s that as a starting point?

                  • Which is cruel and gross anyway

                    Which is why it is clear that the probability of my winning every single Powerball drawing for the next year– by finding tickets, since I don’t buy them– is greater than there being a reasonable discussion on this issue.

                    These incidents don’t change anything. They just entrench the status quo.

                    • Fine. Focus on the throwaway line.

                      If you want a reasonable discussion, engage with the reasonable points being raised.

                      It’s true that in my view there’s no justifiable reason to go out and shoot an animal for sport, rather than the need to eat. That’s my view. People argue for the “culture of hunting” but in the cities there was a culture of jumping kids from a different ethnicity. That’s wrong too.

                      But I’m sorry I mentioned it, though, because it allowed a distraction from the real issue: the availability of these kinds of assault weapons. In other OECD nations these kinds of massacres are much more rare because these kinds of guns are much more rare. It’s not an accident.

                      As distasteful as I find hunting, I’ve never called for a legal ban on it, or for a ban on simple hunting rifles. I’m talking about automatic weapons like was used in Connecticut this Friday.

                    • That wasn't the point

                      I agree with most any regulation proposed, short of bans, which never work.

                      I know that not all firearms are purchased for hunting or sport. I lived for a time in a part of West Texas where the response time for emergency services was measured in hours because of the distance to be travelled. People there maintain basement arsenals that would appall most northeasterners who can have a police car at their door within a minute or two of dialing 911, and don’t think that is going to change (or that it should). I also know that firearms are not exotic technology, and can be manufactured by anyone with some basic machining skills and simple tools.

                      Lastly, I know that regulations, reasonable or otherwise, proposed by the left are viewed in EXACTLY the same way that the left views proposals from the right to regulate women’s health services. They are the camel’s nose under the tent, not to be trusted, and therefore resisted regardless of the specific proposal.

                      So, bans such as the 1990s “assault weapon” ban strike me as being both politically impossible and practically ineffective, which is a combination that makes me think that a different approach might be in order.

        • Guns for hunting aren't the issue and never have been

          Hunters don’t buy assault rifles. The gun laws have always respected and honored the right to hunt.

          Here is a deer rifle:

          Here is a combat weapon:

          Here is another:

          Do you see the differences? A hunting rifle is designed to shoot animals while causing minimal tissue damage. A combat weapon is design to kill humans, in as large a quantity as possible.

          Ammunition used for hunting is designed to stop and kill and animal, while again causing minimal tissue damage. Ammunition used for combat weapons is designed to mushroom, tumble, fragment, and anything else that will increase the devastation done by the projectile.

          Hunters shoot one or a few shots at a time. These combat weapons are either semi-automatic (firing as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger) or fully-automatic (firing continuously so long as the trigger is pulled). No hunter needs the 100+ round magazines that the NRA protects so zealously.

          The gun control lobby has never, to my knowledge, objected to allowing guns for sporting purposes. This is red-herring, introduced by the NRA to distract attention from the need for and reasonableness of laws the restrict access to combat weapons.

          • Exactly, there is simply not enough thoughtful discussion about it

            Thank you for sharing this. For some reason i though there was already an assault rifle ban, but looking it up, I see that it’s was just temporary. I’ll bet a lot of people don’t know that, so it’s easy for the NRA to imply that now you are after hunting rifles. I am certain that there is a lot of misunderstanding when this issue comes up for debate.

            • "there is simply not enough thoughtful discussion about it"

              NO.

              You just haven’t been listening. As Tom made clear, no one of any stature on the issue is talking about getting rid of hunting rifles. Never has and never will.

              That you apparently thought that’s what people were doing speaks to YOUR ignorance, not theirs.

              The whole entire debate for over a decade over gun control has been assault weapons, heavy magazine clips, the 3 or so states in the country where some gang member can buy 100 guns in a day and sell them on the black market, gun show loopholes and nuts able to get easy access to guns because of them.

              That’s it. Now stop digging and pretending as if these are new concepts, instead of just new concepts to you, because your cousin’s brother’s uncle’s friend likes venison or something.

              RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 6:37 PM
        • Shorter answer:

          “Stop using facts and disagree with me, I don’t know what I’m talking about and my cousin likes to fish!”

          RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 6:27 PM
    • I seriously doubt that mental illness is caused by

      kids being left in daycare. In fact, I find it rather appalling that anyone would argue after mass murder committed with a combat weapon, that there’s no gun-law problem with civilians being able to possess assault weapons that fire 6 rounds a second but maybe the problem was that his mother held a job outside the home.

      I’m sorry, but no civilian has a legitimate need for this kind of weapon at home for any purpose. And that involves gun laws.

      Which is not to say we don’t have a mental health crisis in this country. We do, as I alluded to above. Both issues need to be addressed.

      • Well, it depends on what goes on in any particular

        day care center. One can never really be sure, because we aren’t there. Having to leave my children in daycare to go to work was without question the most difficult and heartbreaking aspect of raising them. Many families try to work different shifts to avoid that, which is how we handled the situation mostly when my children were young, but there were a few years they spent way too much time in day care and it was really difficult. For those poor kids who are left day after day in abusive, strict, over structured, unloving day care centers, yes, it can create monsters. It’s so sad.
        I agree about the ban on assault rifles. I’ve heard that come up from time to time and honestly haven’t’ been paying much attention to it. There should definitely be a ban on assault rifles, there is no need for them, really. But I still believe in the right to bear arms. This is such a divisive issue. So maybe the problem is that the arguments for and against aren’t clear enough. Because when I hear it debated, in bits and pieces and soundbites, I hear Dems say no one should have any guns, and Republicans say all people should have all types of guns. In that way, it becomes to divisive to change the rules.

    • Solve the acute problem first

      If an ambulance rolls in a morbidly obese patient whose heart has stopped, the first order of business is to restart the heart. Yes, any sort of long-term care program has to address the broader issue of the patient’s obesity. Nevertheless, the immediate crisis must be dealt with first.

      How many more dozens of schoolchildren and their teachers have to be murdered in school (that they are compelled to attend) while we zealously protect the ability of ANYBODY to buy automatic weapons and the death-dealing ammunition that they require?

      I encourage you to watch Bowling for Columbine again. Seriously.

    • A readiness to feel victimized,

      which you often express on this form, would seem to make you a particularly dangerous possessor of a can of pepper spray.

  8. "His brother said he has a history of mental illness problems."

    Watching MSNBC now, and that’s one of the bits of news to come out on the show.

    RyansTake   @   Fri 14 Dec 6:51 PM
  9. I own guns.

    And I hunt. (OK, I shoot two geese a year…)
    And I believe it is an absolute truth that we need to get guns out of the hands of crazy people and criminals, and we need to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people and criminals.

    • It's about both

      The problem with gun control is its just that, it’s control coming from the federal government and people dislike that. During this Presidency we have seen 7 or 8 mass shootings all involving military style weapons including semi automatic handguns, assault rifles, semi automatic rifles and the disturbing trend of military style helmets and gear in the most recent ones (Newtown has that in common with Aurora). We saw only one mass shooting under Clinton and those involved semi automatic but not assault weapons. The Brady Bill getting overturned has partly allowed these tragedies. We should also know by now its easy for these individuals to access this equipment, get information about prior cases and copy them, and access these areas. It’s time to get these individuals treatment before they act and harm others.

      • Gosh, James, Treatment for the Mentally Ill?

        You’ll hear the conservatives: “We just don’t have the money for that. We can only spend what we take in”
        They’ll agree that what happened in Conn. is terrible.
        But it would be unthinkable for them to support an actual program to get help for those who need it. Might have to raise taxes by a penny per person.

  10. Many states restrict....

    … voting for convicted felons. Do any restrict gun ownership for for convicted felons? I wonder, given that voting isn’t actually in the constitution but the 2nd amendment is.

    • Lots of states restrict gun ownership for felons

      Former Congressman Duke Cunningham of San Diego, convicted of corruption (he had the menu of bribes he’d give to businesses who wanted a piece of the Defense budget), finished his sentence and recently went to court to ask a judge to let him own a gun again because he would need to hunt to eat at his new retirement home in Fairfield Bay, Arkansas. So, yes, states do restrict gun ownership for felons, even non-violent ones.

      BTW, Fairfield Bay has groceries and restaurants, so the convicted felon was attempting to deceive a judge.

    • What's with the minus Walt?

      n/t

  11. Scott Brown Follows Right Wing Ideology Too Much

    And the distinguishing characteristic of ideology (as opposed to a philosophy) is that NO amount of evidence will change its conclusions.
    America could suffer a mass shooting every week, and the rightwingers in charge of the Republican Party would not waver in their support of the gun lobby. His support of the sale of assault weapons is not moderate.
    For Pete’s sake, their hero, President Reagan, was shot by a mentally ill man, and they don’t want to restrict gun laws. (Interesting enough, Governor Reagan supported gun control when the Black Panthers exercised their 2nd Amendment rights in Sacremento in the 1960s.)

  12. A partial defense of liveandletlive

    At first it seemed the point she was trying to make was that pepper spray is harder to obtain than a firearm, which does seem rather backwards.

    • It sure does seem backwards

      Of course, I could probably obtain it illegally on the web, but I’m a law abiding citizen so I wouldn’t do it that way.

    • It isn't

      Pepper spray is easier to get than a gun.

      Pepper spray can be bought on the Web or in stores in some other states, even without an FID card. The procedure for getting an FID card, which is required in MA to own either firearms or pepper spray, is the same.

  13. I'm tempted to offer a deal...

    …to those who claim that the intent of the 2nd Amendment doesn’t allow the regulation or even ban of certain firearms: You let me regulate or ban modern weaponry in an appropriate manner and I promise I won’t touch any gun that was available in 1791. How’s THAT for original intent!?

  14. Focus on guns, not mental illness

    I think it is dangerous to shift the focus to mental illness. Think about the path that will take us down. I am already seeing calls to “round up the social misfits”. That sounds eerie.

    Instead, how about changing the culture of guns. What is clear to me is that too many people fetishize their guns, they worship at the altar of Smith and Wesson. This guy was raised by a mother who bought into this weapon religion.

    Guns should be treated as a necessary evil. Instead, they are being elevated to the status of jewelry, with open carry laws being the new rage. People are encouraged to own many, many guns. That is just wrong.

    Offensive guns should not be allowed. There should be a limit on the number of shots you can take before manually reloading – six or ten would be just fine. You should not be able to “snap a new clip” and then shoot more. There should be limits on the number of firearms that you can own too.

    All those things would be a lot better than a witch hunt, trying to figure out who might be a “misfit”, and persecute them by labeling them to justify preventing them from owning a gun.

    • Changing the culture of guns?

      How in the world are we going to do that?

      Perhaps under some kind of socialism, we would all vote to change public media policy, and, presto! the culture of guns improves. Under our current system, subscribers to the culture of guns are not going to listen to Nanny Power no matter how it expresses itself. Even — especially — if it is “just wrong”.

      And, yeah, I don’t understand why Gary, say, at RMG, owns $1000 worth of semi-automatic weaponry. Ming vases, orchids, truffle butter, musical instruments, donations to charity, and jewelry for his Significant Other would seem to offer more happiness per dollar. I doubt any liberal is going to convince him of that, though.

      • Make combat weapons and ammunition like child pornography

        This culture has NO PROBLEM making the possession of child pornography (never mind producing, selling, or buying it) a criminal act with serious life-long consequences. As serious as our child porn problem is, these laws surely help far more than they hurt and I know of nobody who argues we should scrap them.

        It shouldn’t be that hard to put combat weapons and ammunition in the same category. Make their possession criminal, and make it criminal in a way that shames and embarrasses EVERYONE ASSOCIATED with the perpetrator.

        I don’t want anybody with Nancy Lanza’s arsenal anywhere near me. I think Gary should be given an opportunity (say six weeks) to surrender his combat weapons and ammunition to the authorities, and after that I think he should be prosecuted, convicted, and jailed for possession. I think he and people like him should have to register as a level-II gun offender, so that ALL NEIGHBORS ARE INFORMED that he has been convicted of these crimes.

        I’m not trying to contrast and compare child pornography and combat weapons (though I’m sorely tempted). I am, however, emphatically asserting that any culture that can find the means to make child pornography completely unacceptable to society can do the same with these weapons and ammunition.

        • One problem though...

          99%+ of American adults are horrified by the idea of sexually exploiting children. Fundamentally, unwaveringly, horrified.

          What percent of Americans are horrified by the idea of private ownership of assault weapons? It ain’t nowhere near 99%. I’m not even sure that it exceeds 50%. Sure, the majority may be in favor of not allowing assault weapon ownership by private citizens, but most don’t have a visceral reaction against it.

          • We need to connect the dots

            I suspect that the share of Americans who are horrified by the idea of slaughtering children with combat weapons is approximately the same as those who are horrified by sexually exploiting children. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of those are also horrified by slaughtering innocents — surely most American adults are as horrified by the slaughter of movie-goers as they are by children being sexually abused (if not, we have a far larger problem to solve).

            It seems to me, then, that the learning is that we must help people connect the dots. That’s a political and educational process. I think we have to help people understand that there is NO OTHER PURPOSE for these weapons than mass murder. On the battlefield, we accept and celebrate this. Surely Americans do not want our schools to be a battlefield, no matter what the NRA says.

            I agree with you wholeheartedly that not enough Americans have a visceral reaction against these weapons of mass murder. I think that’s a political problem that we must solve.

            I think the first step in that solution is making their ownership and possession a major crime, on par with owning and possessing child pornography.

        • That is an excellent recipe, I think,

          for changing the gun culture in Cambridge, MA. For North Carolina? Not so much.

      • Smoking

        We did it with smoking. Once, smoking was glamorous. Now it is the sign of a weak person, it is dirty and disgusting.

        • Sure it might be possible

          Some differences:

          1. The medical establishment proved smoking was bad for you. The NRA and friends will attempt to prove that ownership of high-powered weaponry is good for you. Fox News & Mr Limbaugh will be sympathetic to this view.

          2. Smoking is an everyday event. One can distance oneself subtly from smokers thereby expressing gentle disapproval. Owners of AK-47s do not usually brandish them daily.

          3. Expressing disapproval of smoking, even if indirectly, might lead to a socially awkward moment. Expressing disapproval of someone brandishing an AK-47 would seem to entail more risk.

          4. Gun nuts who go to gun nut shows have built up a tremendous wall of epistemic closure. They won’t believe the New York Times, professors, liberals, or tut-tutters of any sort. From everything I’ve heard and read, gun shows are easy places for stocking up on neo-facist reading material and bumper-stickers.

          • We have to start somewhere

            Ostracizing smokers was not done to make long-time smokers quit. It was done to make it harder for people to start. Someone who now has 50 guns is a lost cause. We have to work on his kids so they don’t inherit the gun culture.

            Maybe even repeatedly calling things “the gun culture” would help. Bottom line is that owning guns should not be something to be proud of. It’s a legal right, but there is no right that it should be considered “normal”.

            How about this: if your son or daughter gets invited to someone’s house, ask them if they have firearms in the house. If the answer is “yes”, then the reply is “sorry, I don’t feel comfortable with my child being at your house”. Let people know that guns are not normal.

            I really feel like people have been mesmerized by guns, to the point where they threaten violence if anyone “tries to take them away from me”. Is that a reaction a rational and sane person would make? If someone tried to take away my comic book collection, would I threaten to kill them? If someone tried to take away Coca-Cola, would I threaten to kill them? But it’s somehow seen as not bonkers-nutty when someone makes this statement about guns? So when they do, ostracize them. Let them know that they are going off the deep end.

            • See, this is the disconnect

              Bottom line is that owning guns should not be something to be proud of. It’s a legal right, but there is no right that it should be considered “normal”.

              I think this is where you overstep. I write this as somebody who has no interest in even touching a gun, and who would never let his kids spend time in the home of somebody who owns guns.* I’ve always felt this way, and love that you brought this up.

              But, there are legitimate reasons for owning guns, and merely owning a gun is not, in itself, a shameful thing. You’re right to hone in on gun culture. You’ve hit on some of the many, ahem, quirks, of people who are gun aficionados. Those quirks demonstrate a problem with the person’s relationship with guns.

              Regarding private citizens… Owning guns? Sure, normal. Owning semi automatics? Not normal. Bragging about guns? Not normal. Subscribe go Guns & Ammo? Not normal. Own a substantial number of guns, or lots of ammo? Not normal. Take the NRA position on gun politics? Also, not normal. Shoot at targets with Bin Laden or Obama or any other specific person on them? Not normal. Walk around with a gun on a regular basis, concealed or not? Not normal. Clips or guns capable of more than 10 rounds without reloading? Not normal. Bought a gun “on a whim”? Not normal.

              * Two exceptions: my father in law, and my brother in law. Both of them are remarkably strict, calm, and responsible about guns. They keep their guns in one safe, their ammo in another, and have absolutely none of the braggadocio of “gun culture.” Guns are dangerous weapons, not fun, and not toys. Until I know any other owner has that deep level of respect and care for guns, my kids aren’t in that house. Period.

              • Guns not for hunting or protection = mentally ill

                You’re right – I just don’t get it. I’m completely disconnected from someone who wants to own guns. I have no desire to own one, in fact, you couldn’t pay me enough to have one.

                In my mind, there are two reasons to want a gun: for hunting and for protection (usually your home). I’m OK with both of those things, and would view people who owned guns for that purpose as normal. In the former category, I’d view someone who owned several guns as normal (different types of game, etc.); in the latter category, I think a single small gun solves the problem.

                I would love to hear from someone else as to “normal” reasons for owning a gun other than those two reasons. An upfront note: the argument “I own guns to protect myself from a tyrannical government” is an abnormal reason, and people who say that should be ostracized. Sadly, as of late, this is becoming more acceptable, and I think that this contributes to people going on shooting sprees, because this is the position that it is acceptable to kill people that you don’t agree with who may be doing things to you that you don’t like (but aren’t a direct threat to your safety).

                I guess I’m stating that I think that anyone who owns a single handgun for protection, or a few rifle-type guns for hunting, should be treated as mentally ill and should probably not own guns to begin with. I’d love to hear arguments to the contrary.

                • A few other reasons

                  admittedly, far less common:

                  1. Collector. That’s fair game. Folks collect lots of things, and guns (antique or modern) are no different. Collecting them for the sake of collecting them? Cool. Don’t have ammo that matches the guns, keep them well locked, perhaps keep them somewhat disassembled or otherwise disabled, etc.

                  2. Dealer. Not full-stop “Joe’s Guns”, but a part-time, occasional dealer.

                  3. Tool for work. This falls under protection I guess, but not “for your home.” Think: tow truck operators, private investigators, repo men, that sort of thing.

                  • Agreed, and ...

                    None of these rationally translates to a Bushmaster M4 (the weapon used in too many of these massacres) or any clip, drum or magazine holding more than ten rounds.

                    Even if combat weapons are rightfully in your category (3), those can be highly regulated and tightly controlled.

                    I like your earlier proposals for marking each round and each weapon with individual serial numbers that can be traced to their last legitimate purchaser (and manufacturer).

                    I’m going to lean on my overused metaphor again — erotica has been produced, sold, bought, and possessed for about as long humans have made art. As a culture, we have learned how to differentiate between “erotica” and certain of its pathological offshoots — we do not and should not tolerate child pornography and “snuff porn”.

                    I think you draw a similar distinction here, and I think it’s important to draw that distinction. I have no problem with somebody who keeps a 30-30 rifle for hunting or a shotgun for discouraging woodchucks from destroying a vegetable garden (I have family in West Virginia who are ardent pacifists and who nevertheless keep these weapons for these purposes).

                    A Bushmaster M4 is different.

                  • 1 of 3

                    A gun dealer will surely have multiple guns. I’m OK with that.

                    I’m not OK with someone having multiple guns as “tool for work”. One or two small guns should suffice for protection.

                    “Collector” might be appropriate for antique guns, but handguns are not baseball cards. I would posit that someone who has a large collection of working handguns is tending towards mentally unbalanced.

                    I want to start this now – people who fetishize guns, who deify them, who brag about them and buy lots of them are not in a normal frame of mind. They are far less normal than someone who is just a loner or a bit off. They need help. This is aberrant behavior and we need to start treating it as such.

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