Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tragedy in America

I think that the behavior of America in the wake of the massacre/tragedy/terrorist attack/mass shooting has been utterly disgraceful.  Without batting an eye, America has turned a very sad personal event for a school community into a national three-ring media circus.  Complete with commander-in-chief pronouncement and hand-wringing snake-oil salesmen.  

In the past week, I have heard that America needs to ban assault rifles, ban expanded magazines, ban .223 rifles that look like assault rifles, expand mental health services, lock up crazies, treat crazies, deal with crazies, and a bunch of other pronouncements.  You know what?  I'm sick of this exploitation.  The fact is that NONE of these things would have prevented this incident.  Only a complete change in American society, the likes of which should not be engaged in during a terrible trauma, could change this scenario in anything like a predictable way.  

None of what's currently being discussed would have a reasonable chance of preventing an adult from killing another adult, stealing that person's guns and attacking a seemingly randomly chosen school.  No ticky-tac gun law would affect these events.  Additionally, no amount of attention from school counselors or mental health professionals can reasonably assure us that bad things or crazy people will not happen in America.  Only a complete change in the society and culture could do so, and no matter how interesting it might be to seize on this moment to affect a profound change, it would be unwise to do so like this.  Just consider the evil that has been wrought by the tragedy of 9/11.  Can we be assured that our immediate plans to make changes to make us all 'more secure' will not end up causing different/worse problems?  

Just for a second, let's actually look at ways we, as a society could handle this.  Knowing the events that transpired, could we have kept some or more of those kids alive?  Absolutely.  Schools could revisit the 'Duck and Cover' days and perhaps work in drills to help improve safety.  Are there ways to improve the physical security of schools?  Can we plan for these events and prepare defenses?  I'm not talking, suspending kids for twitter threats or butter knifes, but actual planning on how to defend a school from a mass murderer.  What are the cops going to do?  What about the teachers/teachers union?  We don't need all teachers carrying, but one who is trained and capable (think air marshall for schools) of handling such a dangerous eventuality might decrease the dangers posed by a mass murderer.  I'm just spitballing here, but I've heard exactly 0 about any sorts of solutions that would prevent the actual occurrence of this event.  I'd like to hear more.

What happened was wrong and its sickening to think that it'd happen in America, but what's happening now, where the media is feasting on this carcass and all the gun-control and mental health nuts are out in force is making me sick.  It's not right.  Let these parents and community grieve in peace.  Don't turn their personal tragedy into a way to rally support for your personal cause.  It's basic ethics.  I'm also pretty sure that the last political figure to try that was Mitt Romney when an Ambassador got killed in some dubious setting.  It was wrong then and its wrong now.  I don't care how right you think you are, if you are using pictures of crying children fleeing a building to rally support for anything other than helping those kids and their families and community, it's not appropriate.  

I support laws that will keep guns out of the hands of crazy or criminally inclined people.  I think keeping certain types of guns out of the conventional market makes sense, but let's not confuse these issues.  Gun control would not save these kids.
I think America has a duty to take care of the mentally handicapped and provide for services that reduce their harm to themselves and others.  But in the same way, greater spending on mental health would not have saved these kids.
I also think that America's culture glorifies violence in a way that makes some individuals believe that an orgy of violence is an acceptable and cool way to go out.  That should change, but it cannot be that this would save these kids.
And this event is about the kids that died.

Wait a while, let's make decisions like adults when the pain subsides and we can act responsibly and with longer term goals and horizons in mind.


  1. Two points:
    1) Complete changes in society do happen, but they take time. Look at the slave trade, or drunk driving. I conclude that you would decree it appropriate to not talk about drunk driving law enforcement immediately after one veers across the median and kills a school bus full of kids? These changes in society were typically done, bit by bit, by appealing to emotion precisely at points when emotion was high.

    2) Does society *ever* act responsibly and with longer term goals in mind? What different decisions do you think will be made "once the pain subsides"? Why would they be better decisions (as opposed to simply damping down political forces and continuing the status quo).

  2. Ael,

    1) I think you're misunderstanding me a bit. In the drunk driving kid/school bus scenario, I'd be complaining if the media was clamoring for a re-instatement of Prohibition over the incident. That's how I'm viewing this incident, an overreach by well meaning people that's become ugly to me.

    Societal changes are profound, and if you'll remember, the fight over slavery left a million dead in America. I would hate to start a fight that size over a personal tragedy that got politicized.

    2) Not really a good reason to exploit a national tragedy for a political goal, in my opinion.

    Look, some changes are needed, for sure, but getting rid of assault rifles would not have prevented this tragedy, and acting like, now is the time to act because kids are dead, is just wrong, in my opinion. This can wait for the parents to bury their kids. Real solutions to the problems of unsafe schools cannot wait. But Changing ammo capacity laws or restricting access to people with felonies is smart but not right to bring up now.

    PF Khans

  3. http://s3.amazonaws.com/dk-production/images/12613/large/TMW2012-12-19colorKOS.png?1355584910

  4. Well said, Sven, as usual.

    I've got a lot of conflicting emotions on this topic.


    1. PF Khans, why are you worrying about the "gun control and mental health nuts?" They always appear after such events, we listen respectfully to them and then do nothing. Why do you think this time will be different?

    2. "What about the teachers/teachers union? We don't need all teachers carrying, but one who is trained and capable (think air marshall for schools) of handling such a dangerous eventuality might decrease the dangers posed by a mass murderer"

    No, it will not. The people who do this sort of thing tend to be intelligent, plan ahead, and are not deterred by the thought of their own death (indeed, that is the goal of a lot of them). They would plan for the defender, who would be caught off guard by this black swan event and would likely do two things:
    a. Be the first victim
    b. Provide the shooter with more ammo and another gun

    Furthermore, how do you know that the shooter won't be the teacher with the gun. Do you have any idea of how much stress teachers can be under during the average school day? Don't you worry about people "going teacher?" I've worked with public school teachers and I do worry.

    3. "I would hate to start a fight that size over a personal tragedy that got politicized."

    This is exactly how the War on Drugs got started during the Reagan administration. Do you favor repealing it?

    4. "Societal changes are profound, and if you'll remember, the fight over slavery left a million dead in America"

    Very true. What should cause us to make a change to society other than a continuing flow of blood? The US is by far the most violent country in the developed world. Is this a good thing?

    What would you say about the 15,000 people killed every year in the US (mostly by relatives and friends). Is this sufficient reason to fight for societal change? If not, what number would be sufficient?

    5. Read this list of mass slayings in the US in 2012: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171774/fifteen-us-mass-shootings-happened-2012-84-dead#.

    Near as I can tell, the frequency of these events is not going up, but their lethality has gone up considerably in the last decade with something like 8 of the 10 worst events in the nation's history occurring in the last few years.

    Given this information, why is doing nothing the best option?

    6. China is experiencing a similar problem with attacks in public places. Not a surprise considering how much they've changed in the last 30 years. Lack of access to modern firearms leads to a vastly lower death toll. Here's a story about an incident that occurred on the same day as the Sandy Hook slayings. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/man-attacks-22-kids-knife-china-school-article-1.1220230

    Short version: lots of people hurt, nobody killed.

  5. I saw a statistic yesterday about firearms in civilian possession per people killed with firearms by criminals.
    The U.S. is somewhere in between notorious countries such as Mexico, South Africa (the latter with firearms in the low hundreds per kill/year) and European countries (Germany hundreds of thousands per kill/year).

    I can't find it now, but according to another list,
    there are only 0.06 homicides with guns per 100,000 inhabitants in Germany while we have about 20,000 (+/- a lot) civilian firearms per 100,000 inhabitants.
    That's 1 homicide per 100,000 guns, +/- about 30,000 guns (the gun statistics have a surprising variance and the homicides in Germany are so few that year-to-year fluctuations are huge in %).

    So obviously, it's possible to have a lot of guns in a quite strictly regulated environment without having many gun-based homicides.
    (Most of our guns are low power sports guns, though.)

    The 1,000,000,000,000 dollar question is how to get there while having almost as many guns as inhabitants and many people interpreting the 2nd amendment in a radical way (this wasn't always the case).

  6. PFK,
    Thanks for the courage to write this essay.
    We want to knee jerk and put more restrictions on gun owners. We say this in a forum manned mostly by men who carried guns in dedication to the Constitution, and now after our service we say that that's gonna all change. That's typical bait and switch tactics. We allow and are ok with our police armed to the teethg with auto weapons , gun trucks, swat teams and all the military goodies, but we get excited over hi cap mags and auto pistols and rifles. Well dip me in mule snot.
    Why don't we outlaw games like Call to duty and allow the other blood and gore games?
    Why do we supply the world with small arms and other weapons so that they can control their citizens with applied violence. Our US supplied weapons go to wackos and we are ok with this, but then cry crocodile tears when the violence happens here. Do the arms we supply go to folks after back ground checks?
    Yeah it's terrible but look at the violence we spread worldwide with our guns in the PWOT, and war on drugs etc..
    We sit on a nuclear ability that boggles my mind AND WE WRAP AROUND the axle over gun violence. How many millions of people did we kill with guns and wmd in the 20th century? Is that ok? But it ain't ok in the homeland?
    Are we so stupid that we can't see the connection?
    Why don't we discuss Reagans part in this episode?
    The emptying of mental patients from treatment facilities and cost cuts in mental health have had their effect , as we are seeing in long term problems. The saME IS TRUE TODAY- JUST LOOK AROUND YOU AT THE SHELTERS AND WE ARE AWASH WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS FLOATING AROUND OUR CITIES,and what's the solution?
    Yep-gun control.
    I feel like i'm in kinder garden since everything i hear is group think punishment for gun adherents and i find it onerous coming from a POTUS who authorizes assasination and missile strikes and looses our killers on the world. But that's ok because killing is ok if it's done in the name of security.
    If killing is bad in Connecticut then it's bad in OBL's bed room, and it's bad in a video game.
    We are so filled with hypocrisy that it's over whelming.

  7. I defer to Jim's superior ability to ask the hard questions. I knew I should have waited to respond until after Jim commented.

  8. I think jim's comments are pretty much in line with my own thoughts. Gun control and even the mental health system are easy targets, but do they get to the root of the problem?

    We have been conditioned over a long period of time to see violence as the preferred instrument to resolve conflicts, the "magic bullet" is the option of choice in foreign policy, and even the gun control lobby thinks that the solution can be solved by passing strict laws, their own "magic bullet" so to speak. Even if Federal laws were as strict as those in Conn., it would not have stopped this shooting . . . and really what are the chances of that?

    The truth is we've always been a violent society, especially in the South. The murder rate for the US was 5.4/100,000 in 1912, the same as in 2008 . . .


    The difference seems to be the random and nihilistic violence common today . . . perpetrated by an alienated and atomized youth who know no transcendent values and see no future, nothing beyond their own egotism . . . we've become a society saturated with violence, and as Hannah Arendt wrote, "violence destroys power" . . . the levels of violence would then be a result of disempowerment . . . ? For Arendt, "rage and violence turn irrational only when they are directed against substitutes", such as innocent children.


  9. As a group you guys are making the same arguments that were once used against seat belts and other measures taken to reduce the lethality of automobiles. “It’s the nut behind the wheel,” the yokels said. But the most immediate way to reduce highway carnage was to modify the machines, rather than attempt to change the nature of the drivers. Engineering human change is a far more difficult proposition than adding seat belts, rollover protection and crash space.

    Ditto for guns. There is no reliable way to identify individuals who might someday go on a killing spree. The kid responsible for the most recent of atrocity was, by all accounts, receiving the best psychiatric care money can buy.

    Consequently, the way forward is to reduce the lethality of firearms in civilian hands.

    Another MilPub argument seems to be that as veterans, we defended the Constitution. Therefore the Constitution cannot be reinterpreted to conform to present reality. I don’t see the connection between my military service and your rights to own assault weaponry. None of us in the Army owned the weapons we used nor were we able to take them with us on three-day passes.

    The argument that the government itself is guilty of discretionary violence is not worth the effort of rebutting. I wish that Obama would do more to earn his Nobel Prize, but until he or the local SWAT team attack my great grandchildren in their kindergarten class, I’ll hold my tongue.

  10. Paul-

    Nice comments . . .

    "Consequently, the way forward is to reduce the lethality of firearms in civilian hands."

    One could argue that the Founding Fathers were talking about muzzle-loaded muskets, and perhaps a sword, so "the well-regulated militia" would be so equipped. Since the Founding Fathers (FF) never dealt with Bushmasters, or my particular weapon of choice, a G-43 with matching scope, that level of instrumental violence was beyond their comprehension . . .

    That, and the simple fact that the 2nd Amendment was much to do with the experience of the English Civil war and the FF's aversion to a standing army, which was seen as an instrument of Royal tyranny . . .

    So allowing everyone to have a musket and a sword would be constitutional, whereas having a Bushmaster . . . ? Not to mention the balance of the instrumental violence available to the state, as opposed to that available to the citizenry, has changed significantly since 1787. An armed citizenry today is thus no guarantee against tyranny, if it ever was . . .

  11. Seydlitz, you do understand your last line could be picked up by the NRA for a campaign to allow private possession of Stingers, Javelins and M777s?

    On the other hand, these examples are great at pointing out that the gun thing in the 2nd amendment is obviously not unlimited.

    Besides; the 2nd amendment doesn't guarantee the possession of ammunition, does it?

  12. Sven-

    I doubt if the NRA needs to rely on me for their arguments . . . although I was a member at one time . . .

  13. On the whole I am against disaster-porn by the media wolfpacks. But on this matter I'm with Paul.

    No reason in the world my crazy neighbor needs his 'streetsweeper' shotgun. WTH is he going to do with it: save himself from a zombie invasion? or maybe protect his family from the UN black helicopters? another slave revolt led by a Massachusetts John Brown wannabee. After asking him one day he told me he actually considers himself the sane one in the neighborhood as I am derelict in my duty because I only have an old 9mm pistola and an older pump gun I use for duck. When I told him I was considering a reproduction black powder rifle for elk, I detected a note of pity in his 'Oh, very nice' response. He immediately lost interest in that conversation.

    jim - Vicky Soto and her first graders compared to OBL????? That is a bridge too far for me. I don't get it and hope I never will so please do not try to convince me.

    seydlitz - Hope you are using only the original 10-round mag and not the high capacity aftermarket ones (BTW I recommend loading only 70% to 80% of capacity, or are springs better nowadays). What do you hunt in Portugal?

  14. "No reason in the world my crazy neighbor needs his 'streetsweeper' shotgun."

    I agree while also pointing out that this has nothing to do with the situation in Newton. Guys, they are just burying the first of the kids. It's just way too soon.

    No street sweepers would not save these kids. No guns would save these kids, but opens a whole other set of problems that have not been fully thought out. If we're going to talk a solution that would save these kids, it's got to be more than no 'assault rifles' solution and more than that is just not the sort of conversation we should be having before the burials.

    Another opinion to consider on the matter:

    PF Khans

  15. pfk -

    There is no way I was implying that a streetsweeper shotgun could have saved anyone at Sandy Hook Elementary. I thought I was being clear, but maybe my King's English needs to be strengthened. God help us all if we start defending schools with shotguns of any type, which would only kill or wound more kids as collateral damage.

    What I was implying is that my neighbors obsession with the 'streetsweeper' and other hi-volume lead throwers borders on Mrs Lanza's Bushmaster. Is your reasoning to say that nutjob weapons like this have nothing to do with the situation in Newtown?? Of course they do.

  16. mike,

    "Is your reasoning to say that nutjob weapons like this have nothing to do with the situation in Newtown?? Of course they do."

    I don't think they have anything to do with each other. Unless you mean that the handguns he was carrying and used are also nutjob weapons, and I don't think they are. Nutjob weapons are not the issue here. A nutjob using guns on kids is the issue. I see a difference here.

    And please don't misunderstand me, I'm game for a change to how America views violence and guns, but I think the way we're going about it now isn't appropriate.

    PF Khans

  17. pf -

    I believe it was perfectly clear that I was not talking about pistols. I own a 9mm myself and my bride has a pair of derringers (God only knows what she would ever do with them as they are only .22, shoot me in the a$$ probably if I keep looking at that redhead down the street). I do not believe the American public is worried about handguns either.

    Items like the streetsweeper and high volume assault weapons are the issue. Access is too easy for nutjobs like Lanza. Can't buy it for yourself??? Maybe Mom will buy it for you? Or maybe my neighbor's drifty grandson will inherit when grampa kicks the bucket? Or maybe you can steal it. This is the appropriate time for a public discussion, there is no better time.

  18. mike,

    I'm not making myself clear, and for that I apologize.

    I understand your argument. I get what you're arguing for and agree with parts of it. But I do not think that it is really relevant to the tragedy in Newton because of two important factors:

    a) the kid stole the guns from someone who had a right to own them and was not in any way a known threat to society
    b) the kid had pistols on his person that he fired. Right now it looks like most were from the rifle, but the police said they didn't know for sure what had been fired. Who knows how many kids were killed with the pistols? Who knows how many would have been killed with them if they were used exclusively without the rifle?

    All I'm saying is that the ONLY way gun control would have prevented this event would have been if guns were heavily restricted in a way that would probably put even your arsenal under suspicion. If you took away his Bushmaster, he'd still have 4 other guns with which to commit the massacre.

    I believe that a law that could prevent this massacre would be so draconian in its rules that no Americans would tolerate it. Maybe not, who knows, perhaps anyone with a gun should have some sort of sound alarm that triggers an automatic police response if a shot is fired. That way this thing ends tragically with his mother and not the school kids.

    I think gun crimes can be better controlled by more gun control, but this tragedy is not one of them, and so framing this disaster as a case for assault rifle bans or whatnot is exploitative. And that's not right, no matter how good the cause.

    PF Khans

  19. This tragedy could have easily been lessened in magnitude if Mrs Lanza had possessed one pistol to "defend" her home. As it was, she had 5 or 6 pistols and the Bushmaster. A Marine fireteam in 1960 had about that level of firepower and a hell of a lot more training in employing it. This arsenal is what her son had access to.

    As to arming school employees, fallacious reasoning abounds here as well. The basic false assumption is that the selected employees are going to have immediate awareness, access and clear shots at the shooter. As the trained, off-duty security guard in OR said after than mall shooting, he quickly saw he could not get a sightline on the gunman that did not put multiple bystanders at risk, so he retreated and took cover to await a better situation. Fortunately, the fellow was TRAINED and reached this decision, and more fortunately, the gunman decided to commit suicide prior to any further loss of life.

    Equally fallacious is the notion that an armed teacher will intimidate a suicidal actor, intent on taking others with him as he goes down in infamy. That only happens in the movies. If someone intends to die, he is not going to be swayed from his "mission" by someone else pointing a gun at him. He's going to either shoot at the other gun wielder or go down shooting at any and all targets. Sadly, people who truly fear death cannot come to grips with a dedicated, suicidal person, and assume the suicidal shooter is going to hold the same fear. Ain't gonna happen.

    You seem to think that the only "solution" is a draconian law. I think that far too many fire arms are in circulation in a society with the highest propensity for domestic violence in the industrialized world, and there is a major industry profiting from that excess of firearms. Don't matter if the weapon was obtained via legal or illegal means, the manufacturers are the same. The supply needs to be damped, as it is overflowing into the hands of gangs and nut cases. Again, I would be willing to wager that Mrs. Lanza was no more able to bring effectively 6 or 7 firearms to bear on a potential intruder than she could one, unless she had 4 extra hands the liberal media has been keeping under wraps. Her arsenal does not pass the Napoleon's Corporal test. Young Mr Lanza was able to create havoc by the aid of a Bushmaster .223, a "civilianized" version of the M-16. A Bushmaster his mother had in their house, along with 5 or 6 other firearms. So yes, the availability of weapons is a factor in the magnitude of the tragedy.

    So now, gun shops are raising their prices on assault weapons, or holding them back from sale to await even higher prices. And I am sure manufacturers want to increase production to capitalize on the increased demand while their weapons are still legal. Increasing the supply of weapons in circulation even more.

    Now is the time to begin addressing the problem.

  20. Mike,
    If we are liberal thinkers then comparing obl to the kids is a valid point.
    All life is sacred and this is the basis of ALL US code.

  21. To all: SO included.
    What we have here is a failure to communicate.
    The Dec 11/2012 Illinois news sources report that the US 7th circuit court has ruled that the IL state ban on carrying a weapon(yes Sven this includes the Zombie killer rounds chambered there in)in public is unconstitutional.
    The SC also has affirmed the individual right of the individual to possess firearms. So let's bury the militia rhetoric and bring the argument up to dec 2012 reality.
    We have a little thing called checks and balances and the courts are consistently ruling on the issue.
    WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO OWN,CARRY, BUY ,SELL and all the other things associated with real property.
    We don't even have to like it , BUT STREET SWEEPERS are legal to own and operate . I , nor anyone need justify such ownership.
    I think this whole recent spate of news coverage is rather racist in essence. We have black on black shootings regularly in all cities to include Washington D.C.
    We don't get our shorts in a wad over that.
    Do we??
    Do we fail to realize that authoritarian rule is often based on the concept of gun control.?

    I for one don't understand why anyone would kill young innocents,and that's the crux of the problem. Even die hard terrorists usually avoid targeting kids. This aspect was one of the things that was strange about the OKC bombing, but the perverted justification was that kids were killed in the assault phase in the Waco/ Branch Davidian scenario.
    So what's the key to these shootings?
    Is it autism or just nasty ass mean behavior?
    This question should be answered before we attempt to ram rod new legislation.

    Think of the GCA 68 that outlawed saturday nite special cheap crap guns. This assured the demise of cheap guns. Now that was progress.
    We anguish over gun purchases and all that jazz, but we allow idiots to vote based upon nothing but being 18 years old.
    My guns never did as much damage as a mindless vote.
    But ain't that America.?
    Little pink houses and all.

  22. pfk - Nobody is going to take your pistol away.

    What Al said of profit is sadly true. And a portion of that money goes to our congressional representatives in the form of lobbying by the NRA and GOA. Those congress critters have baby blood on their hands in my opinion. They care more about the death of a diplomat and his contractor security detail than they do about dead first graders. Nixon may have been a crook but at least he had the honor to disavow his NRA membership, same with Bush 41. We need to see some high profile Democrats drop their membership also.

    jim - you are welcome to turn the other cheek. But please do not confuse me with liberal thinkers. OBL is certainly comparable to Adam Lanza, but not to those children. And Wayne LaPierre and his ilk are comparable to the Wahhabi preachers.

  23. jim

    You are working under the notion that the Constitution is immutable. The 2nd Amendment itself, attests to the fact that Article 5 disproves this. The 2nd Amendment was an "afterthought", and is worthy of revisiting. There weren't assault weapons, nor automatic pistols, for example, in 1789, and I doubt anyone anticipated them.

  24. Mind if I enter the pool?

    :::dips in with birthday suit:::


    The problem here, and it's being touched, groped, and felt up like a hot little blonde minx ready to be taken for the ride of her life is the America's obsession, fascination, love for violence.

    We, as a nation, have a hard on for violence.

    We, again, as a nation, collectively think that violence will solve our problems...or at the very least, allow solutions to proceed without resistance.

    We, as a nation adore, and worship violence as a viable solution for any and all problems.

    Guns, cannons, explosions, detonations, critical mass, BOOM's!, more BOOM's!

    Our entertainment, our news, our lives, our hobbies all revolve around violence.

    Our nation was birthed in blood, baptized in blood, sustained in it's growth by blood, and fed blood from the moment it came squalling on the world stage.

    So, in a long winded treatsie I will say this: If we want to change the world around us, we have to change who we are first.

    Legislation, gun-control, mental-health are all good and noble things to pursue, but none of that is effective if the working material, ergo, the people of the nation have not changed their collective attitude, spirit, mindset that violence should be the very last thing that come to mind when a problem arises.

    So, I say, we must change our national cultural fondness for violence to one of peace, love, grace, and mercy towards one another.

  25. Lively conversation, no better one around on this subject me thinks . . .

    mike, I should have stated that the G-43 w/matching scope in question "would be" my rifle of choice, since I sadly don't own one. Had the chance back in the early 80s, but passed, and when you miss that train . . . Still have a few firearms from my once significant collection, which are all divvied up among family and friends back home. Here in Portugal, foreigners are not allowed to own guns. Very strict gun laws and definitely not a "gun culture".

    Al, Yes! Muskets and swords as per the original Founding Father intent of 1787, one pair per citizen with the officers allowed to have a set of dueling pistols as well . . .

    Sven, the NRA taking up the cause of even heavier weaponry for US citizenry, as per my earlier argument, would be the beginning of their undoing . . .

    sheer, yes, violence is ever soooo sexy! Chicks with big heaters and ready to use them . . . And "right kind" of violence - that is "our kind" - always solves the most difficult of problems, like we see in the movies.

  26. Sheer-

    Yes, a nation in love with violence. Add to that, a basic dislike for democracy - that's the only description I can offer for people refusing to accept the outcomes of legitimate elections.

    Thus you get comments such as that just posted by a woman back in my old neighborhood in WA state:

    I heard a view yesterday that made me think: when the Founders established the 2nd amendment, it was with the idea that the citizenry would have a way to defend themselves against a tyrannical government. So, if the government, say, like in Hitler's case, came after citizens with assault weapons, that would mean the citizens should not be left shooting back with small arms. They should be able to fight back accordingly.

    While Lincoln may have said:

    that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the

    A fair number of people have a very limited idea of who "The People" are, and are ready to bear arms to defend their notion. The "enemy" government, in the above lady's viewpoint, will thus be kept in check not by the ballot box, but by being outgunned by the masses.

    Is it not a wonder that people shouted "Kill him" and "Off with his head" at McCain/Palin rallies in response to President Obama's name? We don't need no stinkin' elections, we got killin' to do the job.

    American society is seriously ill, and the 2nd Amendment simply fuels that illness.



  27. Glenn Greenwald | Newtown Kids vs. Yemenis and Pakistanis

    Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK
    Greenwald writes: "Why is the US media so devoted to covering in depth every last detail of the children killed in the Newtown attack, but so indifferent to the children killed by its own government?"

    is this a fair viewpoint?

  28. Ok, I will be the asshole and ask the question:

    Why should the federal government care?

    Sandy Hook was a tragedy. Innocent people are killed throughout the US on a daily basis by guns. So are some not so innocent people. But how much should we require of the federal government to regulate this, and at what cost, for what amounts as a relatively small (statistically speaking) national problem.

    We have a government that can't even balance a check book, and we are asking them to solve this problem? How much will that cost us, and how effective will it be? My bet, it will cost us a lot of money that we don't have because it will have to be enforced (the genie is already outside the bottle), and it won't be effective no matter how much money we throw at it.

    At what point will be able to accept that we can not regulate or legislate or buy a risk free world? Or I am just the insensitive asshole here? Somebody please set me straight.

  29. Come on bg, you are talking about a country which went nuts for a decade over a 0.001% loss of life.
    Intentional homicides with firearms are a 0.003% problem.

    They would need to spend something on the order of 4-12 trilions and three decades on the firearms problem to keep the same level of reaction.
    That is, if firearms-based homicides happened only in one year. They happen every year, though.

    Next: Think about how many death row prisons you need to handle all those people from the tobacco industry...

  30. bg

    If one takes the Canadian view, the stated objective of government is to provide, "Peace, order and good governance." While they have incorporated it in their founding document, many Americans intuitively realize such a concept unconsciously.

    Obviously, these objectives of "peace, order and good governance" are not arising spontaneously from the individuals in the American population, which prefers day to day, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". While Newtown and other similar instances are not routine, they are consistent with a behavioral trait of violence that our society exhibits to a greater degree than most, if not all, other "civilized" societies.

    We effectively have two options to tamp this down. Arm everyone ( A vigilante, violent response to violence) or employ governance to address it as a societal imperative.

    I have an old friend from the 1960's Army who proudly proclaimed, "I have shown all the family how to place revolvers in strategic locations in their homes. Thus, should a burglar attempt anything, a solid defense is immediately available, no matter where in the house they may be." Thus, violence is his response to potential property crime, and, sadly, in many states, a legal response.

    Newtown was simply "big" enough to make even the most distracted citizen's segmented worm brain sense that something is amiss. Yes, innocents are killed at a rate of about 2 per day in the US, but that is far too "abstract" for most to be cognizant of it.

    Using the logic that it is not "government's job" to address such violence, perhaps we are also on the wrong path having DUI legislation? Why not take the gun advocates' approach and legalize "defensive" shooting of drivers we suspect are driving erratically because they are drunk?

    I have said it before, and will say it again, we, as a society, are becoming not only masters of, but victims to, fallacious logic arising from blind ideology.

    We may be seeing a reaction to violence in general, in that it is closer to a "home game" than that which we have foisted upon the innocents of Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.

    However, for a society to act formally as a society, government is their primary expression. Government is not the "answer", but it is the means to implement that answer.

  31. Al,

    I don't like to compare this to DUI's. There is/was a cost involved in DUI enforcement. But that cost was minimal, some advertising, some police checkpoints. Same as seatbelts. Minimal cost, some advertising, legislation that required auto makers to put seat belts in cars, police officers who enforced it.

    Note: to be fair, DUI enforcement is NOT free by any means. The only article I was able to pull up about the cost was California providing the City of Davis $80K to setup DUI checkpoints. Davis has 60K people. Just quick math, if every city with over 100K in the US (about 285) got $100K for DUI enforcement a year, that is still less than $30M. That is budget dust.

    I don't see an easy or cheap way to deal with this one. I just don't see a "once size fits all" approach, which is what the federal government is designed for, that will be cost effective at this point. Are we going to do a "dollars for guns" program? Who pays for that??? We could restrict new sales, but old weapons will be here for a century, and we could see a black market develop to trade the weapons that already exist if the war on drugs and prohibition are fair historical precedents, which is hard to predict. The other evidence for a potential black market after a weapons ban is to look at what happens at Walmart every time there is a shooting. They sell out. Why, because people are afraid? Damn right, because they are afraid the Federal Govt are going to ban firearms somehow. Where there is a market, there is a way.

    Al, if my logic isn't sound, please let me know.

    I just don't think we can get there from here, not at a cost that is worth the potential gain. Can't we expend our political energy on something else more relevant and proportional to the health and welfare of our society? Or perhaps I am the one who needs the mental health care....

  32. bg

    I would begin by saying that the biggest irritant I faced in my 29 years in the Army (versus the first 6 in the Corps) was an institutional propensity (or perhaps more accurately at times, an imperative) to list all the obstacles to solving a problem first, and then then surrendering by defining it as unsolvable, so nothing should be done.

    I would continue by offering that I do not support "one size fits" all solutions in any manner, and have spoken out forcefully against such stunted logic consistently over the years.

    However, the American propensity for violence, both by the "bad guys", as well as those who support violence in support of "good guys" (i.e. having a vast arsenals of weapons in the home to address non-violent burglars) needs to be addressed fully, in terms of both causes and means of that violence. And since violence is so imbedded in our society, no factor should be granted arbitrary "sacred" status. While I am not saying a revisit of the 2nd Amendment is necessary, it is indeed possible, as one of the very "freedoms" the authors of our Constitution granted in article 5.

    The unfettered possession of unlimited firearms is both a vested business interest and a ideological maxim. Treatment of the mentally ill has no such level of support. Perhaps the "sanctity" of one needs to be lowered and that of the other raised?

    Lastly, I have never been of the notion that life can be risk free. My choice of occupation for 35 years, my regular and routine riding of Vespas for 54 years, along with other activities readily belies such ideas. HOWEVER, I recognize risks and do all within my ability to keep them within reasonable limits. I don't use the mere existence of risk as a license to throw all rational thought out the door or as an excuse for reckless behavior. Surely you have had some exposure to the Army's Safety Center's message.

    We can get somewhere from here. Either we begin a national discourse on violence, without preconceived notions, ideological blinders or sacred cows, or simply surrender to our various conflicting ideologies, cowardliness and ignorance and keep on keepin' on. In keeping with our Great American Way, I suspect it will be the latter.

  33. Al, I agree with all your points. Unfortunately, I especially agree with your last point.

    I fear that we've achieved a tipping point of information. Psychologists talk about decision paralysis. People tend to not make a decision, the more information that is presented to them. Classic example are IRAs. Studies were done where an employee was given 2 options for retirements plans. Plan A and Plan B. Another group was given 10 retirement plans to choose from. Data showed that those with only 2 options were significantly more likely to sign up for a retirement plan. Those with 10 options were more likely to just say,"Fuck it" and didn't even sign up.

    I think we've reached a point where there is so much info out there, so many arguments, that people cling tighter to their own belief systems based solely on their own "top of mind data," or in other words, their own most recent experiences and self interests (versus societal interests). We use a form of confirmation bias to quote statistics that support our argument, then will quickly denounce the use of statistics when they don't support our argument. You have one group, who only watch/listen to what they want to hear to prevent any cognitive dissonance. You have another group who disregards everything in the media to the point where they don't know what to believe (this used to be a group of tin foil hat wearing paranoid types, but more and more rational people are joining this group).

    We may already be over that tipping point. Too much information = no decision. No decision = status quo. Status quo = continued decline. By that logic, the solution is to limit/control information. That is an unacceptable solution for reasons no one on this thread would disagree with. Feels like the entire society is caught in a Catch 22 feedback loop.

  34. As I mentioned earlier, about the best discussion on this subject I've come across on the various blogs . . .

    Three points:

    "DUI". Interesting comparison in that there are many components that go into making this a serious problem or not. First, there's culture, how does the culture in question deal with alcohol consumption? Europeans in general drink like fish, but, and here is where the second component comes in, their urban areas are designed with extensive public mass transit which precludes DUI becoming a serious problem. If you are "under the influence" you can either take public transport to get home, or walk since the cities are built on a smaller, that is more human scale. So I could argue that DUI became a serious problem in the US due to a whole series of conditions that arose from seemingly unconnected decisions, not to mention notions of "individuality", the "freedom of owning an automobile" which became a necessity as we became more and more urban, the car defining the design of our urban landscape.

    By then comparing this situation to that of gun ownership, do we see any similarities?

    "Critical thinking". There are various definitions for this, I see it as simply the second stage of literacy, the ability to read a text and decide what are good and bad arguments without dismissing the whole due to disagreement. That is the ability to see various sides/perspectives of an argument and judging their adequacy/compatibility. In the end one has a relatively stable view and is able to communicate it clearly, but with the willingness to change that view based on new information/better arguments.

    In general, I think we've lost that ability in the US. For too many people from my part of the country especially, voting is seen as essentially a "moral act". This follows regarding all the issues associated with either side - guns, gay marriage, abortion, "entitlements", etc . . . "We're right and they're wrong", "we're the good Americans and they're anti-American" . . . these attitudes exist on both sides, but are sharper imo, more clearly defined on the "right". It goes without saying that without this ability, debate is essentially a waste of time.

    Finally, "power". Power is defined as the probability of achieving one's intention in a social relationship in spite of any resistance. Politics is the struggle for the distribution of/sharing of power within a political community. These are Weberian sociological definitions.

    The problem is that many people feel that the power has been sucked out of the spectrum of politics in which they are allowed access. One votes today for an image, a label and hopes that the image acts more or less in accordance with the voter's wishes, but this is hardly the case. The politician operates exclusively in the sphere of those holding power, which does not include the broad electorate, contrary to all the hype we hear otherwise. Perhaps this is a common trait of the mass state in the 21st Century, or maybe it is more specific to our obvious political dysfunctions . . . Hypocrisy has become our dominate political characteristic which precludes any politician from implementing any policy in the broad, national interest . . . the private, powerful interests always have priority . . .

  35. bg

    I would agree with you with one caveat. We have a plethora of data, but very little information being derived therefrom. And far too many people who really believe that can pick the fly shit out of their ground pepper.

    That said, if we give up and fail to speak truth to power, fail to call out patent falsehood, fail to identify ignorance for what it is, the decline will only accelerate.

  36. Aviator,

    Do you recognize that for all your talk about ignorant biased and idealogical Americans holding this debate back, you have exhibited those exact same traits but on the side of gun control?

    You have told me that certain people shouldn't be allowed to have more guns than is reasonable, and I'd argue that that is a cultural norm that is hard to quantify into law. It'd also be incredibly expensive, and I don't think it'd be very effective. You're blinded by the need to restrict the number of guns so you don't see the bottom line problem here.

    Americans do not feel safe and increasingly do not think they can rely on the civic institutions that are in place to resolve disputes. Add to it an increasingly splintered and fractured cultural framework and a popular culture that fetishizes violence, and you've got all the recipes for loner gunmen trying to put a mark on society. The problem of the loner gunman is not going to be solved by the restriction of firearms but requires cultural change. Maybe its a chicken and the egg type thing, but I have to say that by far the most frustrating thing about this discussion is the way you and other gun control enthusiasts talk down to anyone and everyone that isn't with your program. Just saying, 'segmented worm brains,' is that really necessary?

    PF Khans

  37. seydlitz- The problem is that many people feel that the power has been sucked out of the spectrum of politics in which they are allowed access

    I would offer a more profound problem. Americans are very bad losers, and cannot deal with our Constitution delivering the reigns of government to the winner of an election, a manifestation that I would say is more prominent on the Right Wing than left. Further, when the Right is in power, it has absolutely no hesitation to trample on the rights of minorities, but when they are not in power (and thus the minority), they cry "foul" if they cannot set the rules and have their way. With dysfunction like that, we have little hope of rising out of this decline.

  38. PF-

    Just wondering, do I come across to you as a "gun control enthusiast"?

  39. Al-

    I've found your arguments here to be both very coherent and compelling, but I think we disagree as to the nature of our political dysfunction in question.

    To me, it is not about the problem with "right" or "left" which for me have been drained of most meaning, but the nature of our political elites and the exercise of power they have seized for themselves. The system doesn't work because it's not really suppose to work, rather it is expected to serve a complexus of rather narrow but powerful interests that invest in government to promote their own welfare. Issues that require a national interest are impossible to resolve since there is no national interest nor any power constituency to demand it be respected.

    Our government operates as an auction house for a self-styled neo-feudal aristocracy. We operate with the same labels as before, but they have no substance, indicate no deeper meaning . . . our political life devolves to an endless series of bait and switch scams . . . regardless of which party is in power.

    Maybe we've done this to ourselves, especially folks from my part of the country, since we seemingly assumed that our guns could act as a guarantee for liberty, the old "militia argument", but failed to see that potential violence was never the guaranteer of our liberty, but rather a well-educated and critically thinking citizenry was. One which is not afraid to question, and yet secure in their own transcendental values . . . People are making runs on the gun shops now since they are seizing the one symbol which still has meaning for them politically . . . we are ripe as a people for "the strong man" to come forward with all the easy answers . . .

  40. PF Khans,

    First I thank you for having the balls to post on this and throw your hat in the ring.

    I have a couple of questions. I have watched Discovery Channel and they have a few shows on that I have watched in grotesque fascination. One being American Guns and the other the show where Red Jacket Armory builds guns.

    In the former The gunsmith plies his craft, drives around in a pickup truck wrapped in the red white and blue of the American flag, makes some colt 1911's, while at the same time customizing guns to a particular client. (They have put M-16s on helicopters and pistols on the front of a car). At the end of the show the client gets his guns and shoots, and hay bales blow, etc...

    The Red Jacket show is in the same vein. I saw the gunsmiths reworking an uzi to make it fire faster. They reworked a BAR for the motorcycle builder Jessie James. Of course at the end of the show these guys blow hell out of anything they want.

    This is an inditement on USA culture. When guns are considered entertainment and a hobby without realizing that BAR's and UZI's are meant only for warfare yet people still buy them kills me.

    For your information I live in Taiwan. The only guys who have weapons here are the military, police and gangsters. The gangsters (criminals in your theory) only ever use them on themselves. The cops on the rare occasions when they meet up on the gangsters and the civilian population is left untouched. I have lived here for more than twenty tears and have never felt afraid, let alone the need for a weapon.

  41. To continue (and I am sorry to be so long winded), The stupid false argument that is also propagated is that you can kill anyone with anything. A gun is equivalent a knife, sword, car, etc... That was proved patently false when at the same time of the Sandy Hook massacre a similar one went down in China. The Chinese guy had a knife. No fatalities and 20 dead kids in the US. PF KHans why don't you arm yourself with a spear? If you don't want to that's ok but please put that stupid meme to rest.

    The other fallacy is that arming the citizenry stops tyranny. The basic meme is that minutemen and brave patriots overthrew the tyranny of the English empire. Do you realize we only won that war because the Dutch and French were involved? Yes, we had brave patriots fighting for an ideal but if the Dutch weren't running us guns, and the French Navy wasn't screwing with the English in a the Atlantic to deal with their own colonial interests we would have been screwed.

    To your first point we shouldn't do anything because it is too soon. Well that makes my blood boil. There was ANOTHER massacre in Oregon a few weeks earlier. We stand down and now this happens. Should we wait another month or four to do something? And when the next one happens we wait again?

    It makes me sick all this wallowing around in detached introspection.

  42. I think we need to go broader than what is being discussed, and that is banning guns, or even limiting guns doesn't remove, does not solve the under-lying problem.

    We need to address the underlying problem which is the American love affair with violence as the go-to for solutions.

    Now, looking at DUI to see similarities is a good thing, and discussing the evolution of the problem; But, I think we need to also look at another social construct...abortion.

    Abortion was illegal up to Roe vs Wade, and the thing is that Abortions were still being performed even when it was illegal.

    So, did abortions being illegal stop abortions?

    Same with guns...making guns illegal is not going to solve the problem, nor limiting the number of guns people have going to solve the problem...all it does is remove aspect of consequences, but no solution to the problem of our violent worshiping culture.

    So, instead, may I humbly suggest we address the underlying problem and not the tangential, though not inconsequential issues of fire-arms ownership or numbers of fire-arms...

    Rather, lets deal with what drives this insane fear, this insatiable need to resort to violence to resolve our problems with people. How do we address that?
    How do we change that?
    How do we convince our neighbors and friends that violence doesn't solve problems, it just creates more problems?
    How do we convince our community, our state, our nation that the use of violence has solved one problem for us, but rather created more problems than what we as a nation and a society can deal with?

    How do we do that, how do we change 300+ million peoples opinions about violence?

    And just as an aside...I think this will also solve much of our foreign policy dilemma's that many feel the use of violence is an opened option for nations we disagree with.

  43. I am sorry ShereKhan but you are comparing apples to oranges. Mass shootings to abortions?

    Abortions go under a whole other rubric as in when is life conceived, and we can both agree that many cultures throughout the world cannot agree on that determination, let alone the USA.

    The issue is how long will we allow people to have unfettered access to weapons or if we don't. My take is if weapons are so important to the citizens of the USA then we must be willing to take these random massacres as a consequence. There was a quote from a gun shop owner saying "What's the use of a Dragster? None. But people want them." And that is so true. The people in the USA want them and so there will be lots of death. It's a conscious decision.

    I think that is stupid as I wouldn't want people running a dragster down the street and I don't want PF KHan with his gun up the road but apparently I am in the minority.

    One last thing I am an elementary school teacher and it it is beyond absurd to arm teachers. If you give me a pistol and someone is coming in with an AR 15 I wouldn't stand a chance. So arm me up with the same weaponry, but then the shooter will come in with a flack jacket, so I will also have to wear one. It's madness. Maybe the teacher will be the one to go of the reservation so arm the kids with some weapons. But if the teacher is wearing a flack jacket and has an assault rifle maybe the 6 year olds should have something to take the crazy teacher out. A race to the bottom. I am NOT sorry to say I am disgusted by this dilly dallying about guns.

  44. Anonymus-

    With PF Khan's indulgence I'll ask the obvious question . . . what's your solution, since you are "disgusted by this dilly dallying about guns"? Consider your answer carefully since simply an emotional response won't go far with such a cultural issue . . . also it would be nice if you could provide us with a name or moniker to address you as, "Anonymous" gets tedious . . .

  45. Sheer-

    Being a bit older, and an adult when Roe v Wade was decided, I can tell you that laws against abortion resulted in far, far fewer abortions being performed in the US. Yes, illegal abortions were performed, but the law suppressed the act significantly. Very significantly. Whether one is "pro-choice" or not, there is great agreement on that. "Pro-lifers" will say the laws worked, and "Pro-Choicers" will say that the were two downsides to the law: 1) The denial of abortions to all but the affluent and 2) Too many botched abortions. A close friend of mine suffered the latter in 1962 in a very famous case.

    Again, I wish our discourse would address all the causes and means of violence in our society. Stop creating sacred cows or lame excuses. The NRA has offered as a solution stationing an armed police officer in every school. That is just plain lame. Remove the causes and means that justify armed guards for our children. As the comment above notes, we are designing a race to the bottom if we meet violence with violence.

  46. Anon,
    If BAR's and uzi's are only for warfare then i guess you're saying that auto weapons have no place in civilian life.
    If this is true then why do all civilian police agencies have grenade launchers, assault vehicles, 50 cal m2's,M60's, m4's,mp5kS,uzis plus stun guns just to get the ball rolling.
    Why don't you try to find the stats on the number of folks killed by police?
    You're focused on only part of the problem.
    If our police are armed in a military manner , then as a free man i invoke that right also.

  47. The traditional way to limit a good is to raise the price. Especially when the costs of a good are born by others who are not benefiting from the good.

    One way is *mandatory* liability insurance for the owner of a firearm (independent of who actually pulls the trigger). The insurance companies will, no doubt, determine that some guns pose more of a risk than others (similar to vehicle insurance). Premiums will vary accordingly.

    Victims of gun violence will then be able to benefit from the funds in the mandatory insurance pool.

  48. Sheer,

    I applaud your efforts to get us out of the game of treating the symptoms (lone gunman) and try to focus on the root cause. What are the true motives of these individuals? And how have their environments shaped these motivations? Is "violence" really problem?

    1. First problem: There is no single motive for people who pull triggers. With over 30K+ gun related homicides in a year, my bet is that the vast majority of those were not crazed gunmen. Crazed gunmen are the outliers. So, if we solve this problem, have we really done anything except for prevent the outlier events? But let's stay with this thread.

    (Note: Crazed gunmen do not include religious zealots who are methodically killing for religious/political ends)

    2. Is our society desensitized to violence, and therefore, more prone to resort to violence? IMO, no way! The average American has never seen anyone gunned down for real, never even killed an animal for food. Unfortunately for many of us on this thread, we learned the hard way that real life killing is NOTHING like what you see on TV. Take a look at the first responders at Sandy Hook (or any other event of this scale). They are the ones who should be trained and conditioned to deal with this kind of killing, however, they are equally affected by the carnage. Were the kids in Columbine who witnessed the event desensitized and therefore it didn't bother them? Or are we only desensitized to the idea of killing, and not someone trying to kill you?

    A conditioned killer may learn over time to disconnect themselves from the killings through coping mechanisms, and are therefore truly desensitized. This desensitization does not account for crazed gunman who are, in most cases, killing for the first time. Many crazed gunman turn their own guns on themselves after the adrenaline fades and they see what they have done (or perhaps, for the first time, feel the fear of someone trying to kill them).

    3. I disagree with the concept that Americans see violence as the solution to everything. Americans see killing our enemies in foreign lands through remote warfare (remote meaning it is accomplished by someone you don't know) as a solution. But unlike Colonial days when duels were more common place, average Americans today don't see violence as a solution. And IMO, the crazed gunmen aren't attempting to solve anything....

    4. So why are crazed gunmen killing people? To add an exclamation point to an otherwise meaningless life? Infamy? Does the 24 hour coverage of shooters glorify them and lead to future shooters?

    I read a study, and I can't find it unfortunately, that suggested that there was a correlation with shooting and media coverage of previous shootings. Or at the very least, a tendency for shootings to be clustered together (copy cats).

    My no cost solution: Let's try this, when a crazed gunmen opens fire, we consider it unethical for the press to release the name, or any identifying information about the killer. He/she becomes an "unperson" as far as the shooting goes. We need to make it clear to future would-be-shooters that no one will ever learn of their actions. They will die in obscurity outside the public light and their death will be meaningless.

    Instead, we put their picture everywhere or watch them live on trial, and try to analyze where society failed them. We empathize with them, and create their clones.

    This won't fix 90% of the homicides by guns in America, but it might at least end the senseless massacres.

  49. Lisa and I have been hammering away at this since the (now-forgotten) mall shooting in Portland, and I am thoroughly convinced that there is no possible middle ground that will satisfy both sides on this issue.

    For many on the one side (where I suspect that Lisa, jim, and PFK sit) regulation = confiscation, or, at least, the top of the slippery slope towards confiscation, and they will have none of it. Many people who hold this view also believe that the issue is the violent nature of American society; we heard something very like that from the President of the NRA today, blaming video games, movies, and hurricanes for violent death.

    For many on the other side, it's firearms, full stop; Sven has given us numerous examples of the difference between the highly regulated firearms in Germany and Europe generally versus the Wild West of The U.S.

    I can't see how those two sides, in our present dysfunctional polity, can work out a sensible compromise about this issue.

    And that's messed up, because there SHOULD be a way to do something about the ridiculous volume of firearms loose in the U.S.

    So. Let me start here: with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. "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."

    IMO we do poorly to break this text down to its components. Look at the phrase; as seydlitz pointed out, clearly, the Framer's intent here was to create a National Militia of armed and trained volunteers. The idea of a standing Army was an anathema to these guys; it wasn't until the debacles of the Whiskey Rebellion and the shambolic militias of the Articles period that the U.S. Army was firmly established.

    So on Constitutional grounds the purely personal "right to bear arms" seems to have little to do with "protection" and even less to do with "resisting tyranny" as it does with national defense; to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence...", that sort of stuff.

    So the notion that We the People are mistaken, or foolish, or acting against individual rights to regulate the number, type, or accoutrements of private firearms seems to be, legally, a non-issue.


  50. (con't from above)

    So the question at hand is; why not?

    Since we've established that private firearms weren't intended to be some sort of Constitutional bulwark against tyranny, since the need to hunt for food is passe' at best and a sport at worst, and there is no "right" to entertainment through target shooting it seems eminently practical that regulating firearms is legal.

    And given the relatively high level of firearm deaths (including accident, suicide, and homocide) in the U.S. relative to other developed countries it seems incumbent to ask; what benefit - legal, social, moral, or otherwise - do we derive from NOT taking some common-sense steps to reduce the potential lethality of, and access to, firearms?

    Why should a private citizen need to fire more than half a dozen rounds of semiautomatic fire? Last time I checked the ducks, squirrels, and deer did not fire back. And as a deer hunter of some vintage I can pretty much assure you that if you need seven shots to down your buck you're a damn sorry excuse for a hunter and I don't want you in the field within extreme range of me.

    Why shouldn't a firearms owner be required to purchase a secure locked storage facility to keep his or her weapon when not in use, and a trigger lock when not on the range?

    Why should I be able to go to a "gun show" and sell a rifle to any knucklehead who has the cash?

    The bottom line is that most people who own a firearm own it for some version of entertainment or fear; entertainment as a sport shooter, fear of attack - largely from another person with a firearm!

    But it seems that if you want to argue for your firearm you should have to first accept that in so doing you (among all the other people who will be able to obtain a firearm because YOU will) increase the risk to your fellow citizens by some measureable degree.

    We do this all the time; lowering the speed limit on the interstate highways to 45mph would prevent some statistical number of fatal high-speed collisions. We choose not to do that and suffer those fatalities. Increasing the number of inspections meatpackers have to undergo would increase the cost of a hamburger at the price of reducing e. coli deaths by X. Yet we choose not to do that.

    So we can see the number of lives we lose every year so I can take my Bushmaster .223 out plinking on Saturday. It seems to me that - without falling back on the ridiculous FREEDOM! argument, which, as I said, is really a canard - if you want that privilege, you need to argue it's worth the cost.

    (concluded below)

  51. (continued from above)

    My inclination is to conclude that the cost really IS too high. But I am sure that the furor from the gun-owning groups will never allow the cost-benefit analysis to even surface, and instead we will be confronted by a contest between dead kindergartners and WOLVERINES!


    Anyway, one last observation;

    The default setting on both Left and Right seems to be that somehow these nutter-shootings are tied to video games, movies, and some overall horrific violent nature in American society circa 2012.

    But are we really that much more horrible than we were, or than anyone was?

    More horrible than America circa 1845, where hunting Indians for sport was a pastime and you could rape your slave with no more fear than you might damage valuable property? Where public executions were entertainment?

    More horrible than Rome crucifying thousands of slaves along the Appian Way?

    In that case, where are our pogroms? Where are our St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres? Our auto-de-fes, our witch trials, our stonings and stocks?

    Where are our Mongols, Huns, conquistadors, hashishins, and crusaders?

    As far as it goes, the great human pastime has always been killing other humans; Homo homini lupus. said Plautus in 195AD - "Man is a wolf to Man." Whether crazy or sane, you can always count on some asshole to spoil your day.

    So...doesn't it make sense to make it a teensy bit harder for him to do that? Make him reload, say, once or twice?

    Just sayin'.

    Okay. Have at me.

  52. To all,

    I have no problem with gun control. I see no reason to have a street sweeper or assault rifle. I used one at war and want nothing to do with it anymore. I don't need it. America is pretty safe.

    I'm ok with a ban on assault rifles or most guns or some guns. I'm open to this discussion. I'm not up to this incident being used by ANYONE pro-gun or anti-gun. This is a personal tragedy and it deserves to be treated as such.

    What I'm really mad at are those who are trying to make these dead kids flags for their cause. I don't care about the cause.

    Does anyone think that the parents or relatives of the deceased will benefit from this sort of hype and attention? This is just wrong. Hell, I must be making this worse, so I'm going to stop posting here because no one wants to address this.

    The only thing we are more addicted to than guns, is exploiting personal tragedies for political gains. That includes the NRA with their police in every school. And it includes all the assault weapons ban folks too. I see no distinction between the two in this sort of exploitation.

    PF Khans

  53. "What I'm really mad at are those who are trying to make these dead kids flags for their cause."

    But therein is the hobgoblin in all this...the only time this is addressed is when the body count climbs.

    Furthermore, and unfortunately your answer to this question...

    "Does anyone think that the parents or relatives of the deceased will benefit from this sort of hype and attention?"

    ...is that their children have become statistics for the discussion...not because "Oh I want to beat your head into the proverbial statistical wall" but rather because one side will have to provide a rationale for their argument (gun control, gun laws, mature ratings, etc, etc, ad nauseum) over the other group who sits like a monkey with it's hands over it's ears screaming, "Don't tread on me! My Guns! My Choice!" etc, etc, ad naueseum.

    Personally, I think we have plenty of laws on the books regarding guns and they are all ineffective.

    Federally convicted offenders still get their hands on guns.
    People have machine guns even though their allegedly not available to Joe citizen.
    And there was an armed cop at the Columbine school who exchanged gun fire with one of the shooters there and he was outgunned.

    So you see...we've done everything but addressed the one, underlying issue...we have a culture of violence.

    " I disagree with the concept that Americans see violence as the solution to everything."

    And we can all disagree as much as we want, hell, even I want to disagree with my initial premise; but when we set aside all the bullshit excuses that we defend our rationalizations and justifications with it all comes down to our final solution is violence.

    That is our answer to pretty much everything.

    You afraid of the bad guys, go buy a gun.
    You afraid of the brown people, go buy a gun.
    You afraid of shooters in school, armed the teachers.
    You afraid of carjackers on the highway, armed the drivers.
    You afraid of robbers robbing you while you're out and about, get a conceal and carry permit...oh, and arm yourself.

    You see all the solutions the NRA is coming up with...violent.

    You see all the solutions the Right is coming up with?
    Yep, violent.

    Hell, even banning guns carries the under-tone of violence...

    "Ban all rifles and pistols, and only the criminals will be armed."


    The thing I see that drives this insanity to rely on violence or the threat of violence is the fear we feed ourselves on a daily basis.

    We fear the brown man, we fear the secret Muslim president who wants to have all our wives as his private harem of concubines, we fear the Russians, we fear the Chinese, we fear the our neighbors...Jesus H Christ...we have so many fears it's a therapists dream patient.

    We need to rein in the fear...now, anon to exception to my use of Abortion, and perhaps I didn't make this clear enough...

    We can ban and make illegal anything and everything, but like how abortion was treated prior to Roe vs Wade, those banned items will still be around, will still be used, and will still be a blight on our society.

    And we can't ban every fucking murder weapon under the sun for Pete's sake...knives, axes, saws, cars, pipes, baseball bats, pick-axes...the list goes on.

    We need to stop the fear mongering first.

    I say lets take this a step at a time...back up a bit, calm the fuck down, take a breather, inhale, hold a puppy, whatever...we don't have to solve everything at once, but lets start with the fear mongering.

    Lets stop doing that...then, we can address the next issue which is of concern to our society.

    One step at a time, one thing at a time.

  54. A hand grenade would not have killed as many children and teachers that day, yet hand grenades are illegal. An RPG round shot into that classroom would not have killed as many, yet RPGs are illegal. I note that that .223 Bushmaster has the capacity to fire 45 rounds per minute in semi-automatic mode if you can pull the trigger that fast. I understand that is not well aimed fire, but then how much well aimed rounds do you need in a first grade classroom? That rate is damnably close to the BAR in sustained full auto mode that I carried many decades ago.

    So I am with Chief, make the guy reload a few times. I do not believe that anyone on this blog has advocated banning guns totally. And neither has anyone in the country that I know of except for a maybe a few distraught old ladies. The argument here and elsewhere in America is about outlawing assault weapons and outlawing aftermarket high-volume magazines.

    As far as the 'resistance-to-tyranny' meme, I call BS. If you are deemed a threat to public safety by a tyrannical government (or even a good one) and are armed with an assault weapon, they will come after you with armored vehicles and if that doesn't work then with an Apache gunship or an A-10.

    I also call BS on the excuse that another Rwanda could happen here and we need to defend ourselves against an American version of the Hutus. If the mob comes after you and you fend them off with your assault weapon, then they or their friends will come back and burn you out. You end up dead either way if you cannot wait for the cavalry or the local police to come.

    The only use that makes any sense at all to me for a small subset of these weapons like that .223 in civilian hands is for ranchers shooting coyotes or wolves that are after their young stock. We have banned poison and most traps. Give the ranchers a break I say, but with some type of special license, maybe a clause in a new Farm Bill.

    I agree with old Wayne LaPee and the NRA that Hollywood and the violent video game industry is complicit. I believe Obama also made similar statements. I am specifically concerned about video games characterized as FPS or ’first-person-shooter’. They were originally designed as training aids for the military and police departments, but have morphed into bloodbath competitions. I would disagree somewhat with bg about desensitization to violence. Society as a whole may or may not be, but teenage (and younger) boys playing those FPS games where their scores are determined by how many “OTHER PEOPLE” you can mow down. A minute but significant percent of those adolescents are desensitized to killing.

    Let's hope this Biden commission makes some strong recommendations – although I foresee more political gridlock. Congress will take the money from the assault weapon manufacturers, laundered and funneled through the NRA of course. And they are not smart enough to pass effective laws against the violence in the film, tv, and gaming industries.

  55. @PFK: "This is a personal tragedy and it deserves to be treated as such."

    Well, be mad at me because as much as you think otherwise, I and many others believe this massacre of first graders to be a national tragedy, NOT a personal one.

    A week from today a local Lutheran pastor is going to hold a special commemoration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents:


    I am not a religious man and have not been to church since my brother-in-law's funeral 15 years ago. And I have never set foot in a Lutheran church. But I hope to attend. The sermon is previewed to cover both the Newton and Bethlehem child executions. Who plays Herod in the Newton Massacre I wonder? Certainly not Lanza. Nobody remembers the names of Herod's triggermen do they? This is in a small town in farm and hunting country. Many of the vehicles in the parking lot will display an NRA sticker. I am anticipating standing room only.

  56. Ael- "Victims of gun violence will then be able to benefit from the funds in the mandatory insurance pool." I am gobsmacked by the notion that money can "benefit" or offset the loss of a human life. Totally gobsmacked.

    The NRA's indictment of Hollywood and video games, is, if one is rational, a self indictment as well. The violence is a result of causes and available means. So by their account, they may be providing the means, but are not culpable because someone else is encouraging that means to be used? Pathetic.

    Chief is correct. Man has a violent streak. Societies have either unleashed that streak or tamped it down. That's why they are societies. America was born in violence, sustained that violence, perfected violence, and whatever.

    Violent film and game do not create the beast of violence, they fuel it and routinize it. If "selling" is all it takes to create something, then we would all own Yugos. It's market demand, not simply "selling" that is the key. We use fear and violence to market products that appeal to people's base instincts, and knowingly or not, we all join together to fuel those fears and act out violent responses, either through games/films, or real events.

    As a society, we definitely make items illegal when we think they are harmful, and indeed deter some actors from access to such items. Ever hear of child porn? We even regulate items that should be self evidently harmful - can't sell "recreational cyanide", can we? Even though there may be a "market" for suicidal fools. We don't allow the sale of that Japanese fish that could be poisonous, even though it is readily available from a licensed chef in Japan. We see it as too much risk.

    The argument against regulating something because it won't change anything doesn't hunt. We do it all the time, even if only to identify what we as a society finds unacceptable. Don't you find it a bit perplexing that 47 of the 50 states outlaw the means for a 90 year old, terminally ill person, suffering intense pain, to quietly end his or her life, but we glorify the means for any and all members of society to take dozens of other peoples' lives?

    I also agree with Chief on the fear issue. GWB ran on a platform of fear. Terrorists have evoked more self harming behavior in America with one act than all the IRA bombings in the UK combined. We are a nation of ninnies, and can only hide that by being bullies. If we aren't born in fear, we surely are conditioned in our lives in the American culture to succumb to it. Hell, watch your TV and see how many innocuous products are presented in a manner that generates a level of fear (or worry, if you prefer) that not using that product will have a deleterious effect on your life. Be safe from the embarrassment of dust bunnies. Far from scientific, but what we notice here is that so few commercials on Greek TV use a "negative motivation" to sell their products.

    It's a societal issue, and a particularly American societal issue. It's causing the uproar today, not because the recent tragedies are being exploited, but because the events were large enough in scale that they cannot be ignored. And since they cannot be ignored, people are frightened. Frightened that their sacred guns will be regulated, or frightened that a gun wielding wild man will come to their neighborhood next. OBL is dead and gone. The fear de jour is now the two sides of the argument over Newtown. And it's a good for business fear, too. WalMart has sold out their inventory of assault weapons, and armored backpacks are flying off the shelves. Now, if only we could find products that do as well from fears arising from assisted suicide, so that suffering 90 year old in Mississippi can die in peace.

    Gotta have fear. But how the hell can we make rational decisions when fear is the only motivator we are able to respond to?

  57. PFK: Are you familiar with the so-called “coffin broadsheet” or “coffin handbill” of 1775?

    A colonial printer ran off an account of the fighting around Boston in April that featured two rows of coffins at the top along with the names of some of the dead of Lexington and Concord. Their bodies were probably barely cold at the time.

    Or the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911? The ILGWU used the very funerals of the dead of that disaster as protest marches, and the eulogies spoken over the open graves were full of the rhetoric of unionization and damnation of the callous factory owners who had caused those deaths.

    Should the patriots of 1775, or the workers of 1911, waited a decent interval for those families to mourn privately?


    But they didn’t.

    And they never have; human history is full to bursting with people who seized on the emotions of the tragedies of others to make change in laws or society.

    Frankly, how else TO make change?

    As Al rightly points out, it is only these sorts of horrors that can grab the attention of the segmented-worm-brain (thanks for that one, Al!) that is public opinion. Wait a “decent interval” and the public forgets, turns back to its little pastimes and entertainments.

    So you can regret the current furor all you want; it is well within the human as well as the American experience and both predictable and expected. Social and political change has often and will often be linked to others’ personal tragedies.

    To lament this is to lament being human, something that humans have been doing since there were humans, I suspect.

  58. Chief- Please let me correct the "historical record". Dr Janice Taylor, our HS Biology teacher, emblazoned that analogy in our minds when she said, "You may ask why we are spending so much time studying and dissecting segmented worms. Besides the basic biological lesson, I and all the faculty hope that this learning activity will ensure that when your diploma is finally earned, you will carry on the tradition that PMHS graduates do not ever appear to think as if they had the brain of a segmented worm." It became a common youthful jab, and at subsequent reunions of our class, when we would reminisce over the major positive influences our excellent high school education (a public HS, BTW) had on our lives, Dr Taylor's "segmented worn" warning was always among those many experiences remembered.

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast:

    Yes, huge, emotional events like this do tend to motivate change. As one of my Organizational Behavior profs noted, when people embrace notions into their "values" (e.g. guns), it is very hard to get them to rethink their position on the issue, as "values" become very central to one's very identity. When faced with data conflicting with one's values, they will, in decreasing order of probability:

    1. Blindly reject the data

    2. Break the data down into increasingly smaller component parts until one component, no matter who small or irrelevant, supports their values and claim that "grain of sand" as absolute proof.

    3. Adjust their values to recognize the error (Rare as hen's teeth)

    #3 usually requires what is called a Significant Emotional Event (SEE) to ever take place.

    A SEE doesn't necessarily motivate change for the better, but it is definitely a huge motivator for any change. As we have discussed, 9/11 definitely has motivated some really dumbass changes in what many previously rational people would have rejected without hesitation.

    Most scholars of "Managing Change" would say that for change to take place, there must be:

    1. A awareness of the need for change
    2. The tools with which to identify the necessary change and make the change
    3. A willingness to change.

    Newtown seems to have accomplished #1. I am a bit reluctant to say that we have #2 in hand, simply because #3 will cripple the search for and identification of #2. All too much of the SEE of Newtown has been knee jerk identification of the tools that cannot be put on the table (see "Values" above). Until there is a general calling of bullshit on that blind adherence to dysfunctional values, the change process will be seriously crippled.

    All we in the Pub can hope for is that in addition to motivating change, Newtown will open the dialog to rational investigation of every element contributing to our violent American culture.

  59. Al: I'd say that even #1 is not accomplished. Based on Mr. LaPierre's performance Friday I'd argue that there is a significant minority that will NEVER accept that there is a cost-benefit tipping point or ANY degree of sensible regulation of private firearms. The ingrained belief that any regulation = confiscation is too deeply engrained. The propaganda campaign has worked for this group.

    If there is to be any change, it will have to be in the face of total resistance from this segment of the public.

    And I agree that the problem with #2 is that there is little, if any, agreement on what those tools can or should be; for example, I disagree fundamentally that there is something uniquely violent or dangerous about modern U.S. society, something fed by violent movies, television, and video games. Those (IMO) are just the sort of contrails of human violence that used to be worked out in assault and murder, mob violence, pogroms, massacres...you know the drill.

    Instead I would argue that the main difference is a combination of ease of method (a trigger is simple; an axe is hard...) and ease of movement (in a small, insular community where everyone knows everyone else it's hard for the whackos and buttholes to work up a head of steam before they blow. In a nation of transient passersby, where we are lucky if we are even recognize 9 out of every 900 people we pass, it is simple for these nutters to assemble their caches and launch their mad attacks without anyone twigging to them or turning them in before that happens. In fact, it's pretty amazing that as many get stopped as do...)

    So while I agree that I'd like to see some agreement on things like, say, increase access to psychiatric treatment and a greater ability to decrease the violent media I'd settle for an immediate reduction in the ability of the individual nutter to rip off 30 rounds inside of a minute.

    But given the pressures against the structural solutions of firearms regulation I am prepared to see this process stop somewhere before #1 is even fully accepted...

  60. PF Khans

    I still have to disagree with your assertion that we should wait to do something. It's been twelve years since Columbine and things just seem to be getting worse.

    Seydlitz, I think it is rather obvious in how I see the problem begin to be addressed. Stop people from arming themselves to the gills NOW. I now view the NRA in the same vein as I think of the KKK. It's a scurrilous organization that should be shamed out of existence. Their stupid idea of "defending" schools is ludicrous. What did Napoleon say? If you defend everywhere you defend nowhere. The schwerpunkt, as it were, is too many weapons of war available to too many people.

    ShereKhan, All of that violent stuff you have mentioned, movies, first person shooters (Taiwan is WAY more wired than USA) abortion (they are legal here), drugs pharmaceutical and otherwise are all available in Taiwan. There are two differences, no mass access to weapons and no mass killings. It's pretty simple.

    Ranger, I respect your viewpoints but I don't get why you want to be armed as well as the police. You will never win. Economy of scale. Are you willing to get in a shootout with them? That will only have one result, your death.

    Respectfully, James.

  61. Australia a few years ago, their PM did not want the "American Disease" imported into his country.


    The point is glaringly obvious, among the civilized nations of the world, the US by far leads in gun deaths. Among the civilized world, there are movies, stories, video games just like in the US.
    And just like with the debate about Global Warming, there is a whole industry devoted to refuting and obscuring the facts.

    The gun industry and NRA has clipped the ability of the CDC to investigate and report on gun violence and the harm that causes in this country.

    My former US Congressman Todd Tiarht of Wichita KS has clipped the ability of law enforcement to adequately track anyone, nuts included, when they buy guns


    The Tiahrt provisions require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to destroy certain background check records within 24 hours, making it nearly impossible to use those records to help solve crimes or to identify gun buyers with criminal histories who were mistakenly approved. Learn More
    The Tiahrt Amendments also block ATF from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory checks to detect loss and theft, which law enforcement says is a dangerous back channel source for criminals who are in the market for illegal guns.

    I have a friend who works in Wash. state at a sporting goods store. She made nearly 70K in sales in one day selling GUESS WHAT?

    Anybody wanna guess why?

    NRA shakes and rattles the nation with stories that Obama will take their guns away, sales skyrocket, gun mfrs. profits likewise skyrocket, NRA pockets their share from mfrs., donate to people like Todd Tiarht, police can't track, mass murders by nuts increase, NRA blames gov't for lack of law enforcement.

    Meanwhile, the evil tyrannical US gov't is at your doorstep with Black Helos ( flown by a crazed expat named Al no doubt ) and jackbooted thugs.


  62. Slight correction, Tiarht was not MY Congressional rep., his district was the one directly south of mine, which was represented by now Senator Jerry Moran.

    Also, a link about the CDC



  63. Al,

    I was using the term "benefit" in the technical sense. In no way was I suggesting that people ought to go out and get shot up in order avoid working for a living.

    A sucking chest wound is going to put a damper on you ability to earn money. An insurance payout is not going to stop the bleeding, but may help you keep your house. (in exactly the same way that victims of traffic accidents get assisted with their injuries)

  64. And who will guard the guards?


    Reuters) - A man with a pistol fatally shot three people on Friday in rural western Pennsylvania, one of them in a church, before he was killed in a shootout with state troopers as he tried to flee in a pickup truck, authorities said.

    Three state troopers also were injured in their confrontation with the gunman in Frankstown Township, about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, shortly after 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), state police said.


  65. Anon-

    "Seydlitz, I think it is rather obvious in how I see the problem begin to be addressed. Stop people from arming themselves to the gills NOW."

    You're not that obvious at all, ban all further gun sales, ban "assault weapons", which really doesn't solve the problem . . . You use metaphors, but they don't really "go" anywhere . . .

  66. Replies
    1. Even if we disagree, you are a gentleman.


  67. Seydlitz,

    I am not in favor of banning all gun sales. Hunting rifles, shotguns, pistols don't bother me at all. Semi automatic rifles like the Bushmaster I can accept. Keep the clips down to five or ten rounds. 50 years ago this was not regarded as radical. That is one baby step of a suggestion that is relatively easy for people to accept. Sorry you didn't like my metaphors. I thought the Napoleon one was quite good!


  68. James-

    Thanks for your response. I'm a strategic theorist so I'm pretty hard on metaphors since they can either expand or reduce understanding. Ok, now that's something to start with, but let's consider some facts. If we look at the 2002 and 2009 school murders in Germany, the murderers were only armed with semi-automatic pistols - one each - yet were able to wreck a similar amount of death with those as we have seen in Conn. It is more the nature of the target and the murderer than the weapon used. Schools present individual classrooms full of kids who are defenseless against an individual who shows no mercy, nor even regard for their own life. A pistol with several magazines is all that is necessary given this sick frame of mind, as experience has shown, sadly.

    The M-9 has a 15 round magazine, the 2009 murderer used the civilian version of the same pistol. Most modern 9mms have a 15 round magazine or more . . .

    So to implement the change you are talking about would require that all the pistols sold in the US be modified to take at most a ten round magazine, since a 15 round or more would be illegal . . . not to mention all the 15 or more round magazines out there . . . Which would require a massive program of inspection and verification, not to mention the actual gunsmithing involved which would be paid by whom . . . ? Even if successful, would limiting these pistols to ten round magazines make any difference?

    I wish that stricter gun laws were the answer, that would make it all much easier . . .

  69. :I wish that stricter gun laws were the answer, that would make it all much easier . . ."

    Oh for cryin' out loud!

    Look, nobody here - nobody period is saying that trying to reduce the volume of fire that some random nutters can produce will be "The Answer" anymore that anyone said that airbags would be the answer to traffic fatalities or that stricter DUI laws would be The Answer for drunk driving fatalities.

    But they did say - and they ARE - a good start.

    Y'know what? Who the fuck cares that it would be so haaaaard to modify civilian semiauto pistols to ship six rounds? It's call a cut-off, it goes in magazines, and it's been a practical solution since there WERE magazines.

    I thought better of you, seydlitz, and theat's what I see as the real problem here. When the folks who are arguing from the Gun Side aren't even willing to utter the phrase "Well, that might help cut down on these things..." then they convince the rest of us that there is no chance for ANY sort of compromise on this issue. THAT's the sort of language that ends up with the AntiGun Side deciding that Prohibition is the only answer and tooling up to jam the 2nd Amendment up the country's ass sideways.

    No. Of course it's not The Answer. But you know perfectly well that there is no Answer for human fucktardry. Skeevy banksters will evade financial regulations, skeevy exes will evade child support legislation, and skeevy nutters will evade stricter gun laws.

    Does that mean that financial regulations and child support legislation aren't good ideas? That we should just throw up our hands, since humans are so awful they'll just do Bad Stuff?

  70. Seydlitz,
    You are a theorist and i'm a practical gunman trained for duty of the service.
    I agree with all you put forth , but let me add that i am a cowboy action shooter, formerly with SASS. I quit b/c of their crazy right wing christian rhetoric and apocalyptic vision. I quit the nra in 1975.
    My point is that i shoot COLT Model P 1873 peacemakers and 1873 winchesters , and clones there of in matches and i smoke with these 140 yo guns. The colts are 6 shooters and the win has a 12 rd magazine.
    Now let's talk the old practical police shooting of the 60's and 70's before the IPSC craze of hi cap competition, which is usually equated to combat style shooting.
    In police matches we shot double action 6 guns and fed them with speed loaders. ALL of these guns were patented before 1899. MY point= a gunman can put out a lot of fire with obsolete guns-we don't need hi caps. Watch videos of these events easily found on the net.
    So how do you legislate around these facts.?
    Why are your shorts in a wad about people arming to the teeth?
    What's the problem? Do a risk assessment. Capability and intent. The deadly shooters are NOT armed to the teeth ,but they do have deadly intent. Do we treat everybody as a potential murderer?
    I like my neighbor armed.
    If the gov't doesn't trust me to be armed , then why would they trust me to vote responsibly?

  71. I have a very hard time, intellectually, accepting the logic that a Bushmaster with a 30 plus round magazine (up to 100 rounds) is no more of a threat than a pistol with a 10 round magazine. A real hard time.

  72. Jim,

    I guess "armed to the gills" is subjective. Lanza had two pistols and the Bushmaster. To me that is armed to the teeth. For you I guess it's a normal load. Sorry I don't buy your "argument." What did you carry in Vietnam?

    Comparing yourself (a SF guy) to random loonies regarding weapons skills makes the mind boggle. Why don't the loonies arm themselves with peacemakers? Also what is IPSC?

    Seydlitz I bet that putting an armed guard in every school would be way more expensive than reworking clip sizes. Let the people who own them pay. I had a car that didn't pass pollution control, it wasn't confiscated but I had to pay to make it legal.

    Chief, I guess you were right that we are pissing in the wind. People just love them some guns too much. ANYTHING regarding weapons seem to be off limits.

    I am going to watch my Rams play some football (How many guards would it take to secure a stadium)? Happy Holidays to all on Milpub. I hope Santa is packing :)


  73. FD Chief-

    You're talking morality, and I'm talking practicalities and the political system/relations that we have today. About the best one could hope for is a renewal of the Assault Weapons ban, but that will not actually deal with the problem.


    You're right, the Bushmaster is more of a threat, especially in the open, the range, rate of fire and magazine capacity all come into play. But the reality of the two examples I've mentioned, and there are more . . . is that one can perpetrate this level of murder with a pistol and several of the current standard magazines. A sad fact, but how do we get around it?


    We seem to be on the same sheet of music. How to deal with individuals who are willing and have the means to create such carnage? What do we legislate? What do we forbid? What do we change?


    Enjoy the game.

  74. Jim,

    To quote you, "Do we treat everybody as a potential murderer?" When I see a guy with a gun that's what goes through my mind. Do you do your risk assessment in those situations? You must have spent some time in the PI. I have too and you have to be careful. What a waste of energy

    Anyway my Rams won and might have a chance for our first winning record in about ten years so all things are possible. Even old curmudgeons like you and Seydlitz seeing the light!

    Merry Christmas, Kwanza, Chanuka, and anything else that I may have forgotten.


  75. To judge from comments here and at RAW, guns invoke a kind of religious feeling among the otherwise sane and skeptical. It’s as if guns have a mystical quality, like splinters from the True Cross. Any change in magazine capacity or in civilian access to military weaponry is a profanation.

    It’s worth remembering that one of the justifications Tacitus and other Roman apologists used for the destruction of Carthage was to put an end to the worship of Moloch, the god to whom children were sacrificed.

  76. Paul-

    To think that guns have a "mystical quality" for some is not the same as believing in that mystical quality oneself. When friends back home tell me that they believe in having a gun at home because "there is evil in the world", it is something I understand, because I'm part of that culture, or rather what that culture used to be . . . I can discern patterns from the "shards of broken glass" so to speak. Oh, how many times have I used that particular metaphor . . . ?

    I lamented above the possibility of stricter US gun laws being the answer and was misunderstood. In Germany after the 2009 mass murder in Winnenden, there actually was a possibility of a total ban on privately owned weapons . . . I have family in Germany recall, who have kept me informed of what was going on there. That would have been possible politically in Germany, in fact the whole level of discussion there was something that would be almost impossible in the US . . . the comparison is striking in fact.

    Why is that? Political relations and the structures of power, imo . . . the last thing our elite would want is something being generated from the public, the actual grass roots. Instead the debate is being scripted, totally . . .

    It all comes down to politics.

  77. Perhaps, not "scripted", but more "channeled" . . . we've seen this before . . .

  78. James,
    I find it interesting that you don't know squat about the shooting sports, but you know what is needed to regulate we shooters.
    I have shot with literally 100's of thousand of shooters over the years, and we ain't the problem.
    Armed to the gills-ok i accept your point-DON'T LET FISH HAVE GUNS OF ANY SORT.

  79. So Jim, I have no objection to your six shooter and your Winchester. You do know that nobody on this post has suggested banning sales of those weapons, don't you? I would not even object to any other weapons you in particular own as long as you keep them secure from thieves. And nobody here, or anywhere else that I know of has suggested confiscation of any existing assault weapons or hi-volume mags. You are my age, I suspect, what happens to your assault weapon(s), if you own one or two, when you kick the bucket? I do object strongly to assault weapons being for sale to any JSR off the street.

    PS - I have no objection to the IPSC. But how come an American has not won the world title in how many years now - close to 20 isn't it?? Could it be that too many American sport shooters are too fascinated with spray-and-pray volume instead of accuracy? Do we now believe that what Hollywood puts out is reality???


  80. seydlitz: . . . is that one can perpetrate this level of murder with a pistol and several of the current standard magazines.

    If the premise above is absolutely valid, then why haven't we been sending more troops into combat with just pistols and piles of mags? Especially for close in or urban combat. Sure would ease their burden. If I had known that back in the day, I would have traded in my BAR for a 45 and a bunch of mags. Sure would have made running through the boonies easier. But then, taking your logical approach, why would someone need a Bushmaster to defend his home if a pistol and a lot of mags can be just as deadly?

    I would expect that any rational person supporting such restrictions will simply say that these controls could reduce the likelihood of a mass killing, or reduce the carnage in a future mass killing or raise the level of difficulty in accomplishing a mass killing. If we eliminate or reduce the availability of one or two of the means, is it not reasonable to expect we reduce likelihood of the results such means deliver.

    If that reduction in likelihood isn't worth the effort, then let's just throw in the towel - which is what the vested interests are hoping for. After all, reducing the likelihood of just one additional fatality from such weapons is not as important as providing these wonderful sporting goods to everyone who wants them.

  81. Let me reiterate what I have posted before on the whole "2nd Amendment" issue. The authors of our Constitution were wise enough to establish the Constitution as the overriding law of the land, and equally wise enough to know that they were not fortune tellers. Thus, the incorporation of Article 5, to allow "The People" to correct errors, omissions and address changes in their world via amendment. They did not see their product as having been inscribed in stone and handed down on the mountain, as it's a human product, not a divine one. Thus, it is the role of the Constitution that was intended to be generally inviolate, not any specific rule established therein. Yes, they made Article 5 require a serious majority to enact change, but that is one of the beauties of it all - resistance to frivolous changes, while still allowing change.

    However, many rights we enjoy today are as a result of Article 5, to include the "sacred" 2nd Amendment. Whether or not the 2nd Amendment is being used to provide “rights” far in excess of what "The People" intended when they first amended the original document is irrelevant. Those "People" are dead and gone and the world has changed significantly since then. In their wisdom, the authors and adopters of the unamended, Original Constitution gave today's (and tomorrow’s) "The People" the right to alter any and all elements of the Constitution, to include the 2nd Amendment. That alone, tells us that the subjects addressed in the basic document are not and never will be permanently closed. If it were, we would, for example, still own slaves and not have freedom of speech.

    The question at hand is not the existence of the 2nd Amendment, as it can be repealed or modified. We as a society need to simply investigate the weapons issue on it's own merits, without the arbitrary restriction of an Amendment that is, by definition, subject to change, and then see if what we want can be accomplished under existing law, or if the law needs to be changed.

    After all, I did regain my right to carry a fingernail clipper, didn't I?

  82. To all,
    Let's think a bit here about the absurdist literature called gun control.
    We have a federal law that makes it a crime to have a gun in a school. It's actually illegal to have a gun within 1000 ft of a school. What if i live 900 feet away? What if i drive by doing my business and have a gun in my trunk? Does this make me a criminal?
    How do you enforce a law like that? Do you do it with selective prosecution or do you search everyone without warrants etc??Doesn't the 4th amendment still exist?
    Did the 1000 ft law save the kids in CO/Cn, or anyplace else? If so let's extend the exclusion zone to 2000 feet to make Chief and James happy little campers.
    I'M AGAINST violence and guns in inappropriate hands, right wingers scare me,BUT stupid laws will not change reality. Eyewash is not effective.
    Now to Al,
    Of course we the people can change the laws as is proper, so if necessary lets do it. Let's add torture, warrantless wiretaps, aggressive wars, imprisonment by edict for folks we just don't like,make support for despots national policy while we're at it.
    THIS WHOLE THREAD in our pub and elsewhere is a smoke screen as always to keep us aroused and more easily manipulated.
    Again Al we are supposedly allowed to secede from the union , but that ain't gonna happen.
    We hate gun violence ,BUT we wave the flag when it's Yemen or Paki kids getting whacked. We are so full of crap that it is beyond perverse.
    To James,
    I would gladly see assault weapons banned, by legal action IF THE POLICE and fed agents are so constrained.
    To Mike,
    MY 1873 colts are every bit as legal as a black rifle. I apologize to no man , nor do i have to justify my gun ownership. The same was sadly true of slave owners before we changed the law. Interestingly slavery like guns was not bannned by congressional action as described by Aviator Al.
    IMO the Potus did not have the authority to outlaw slavery nor does he have the legal ability to ban weapons.THIS IS CONGRESSIONAL imperative.
    An unfettered POTUS is more dangerous than a few crazies with illegal firearms.
    Isn't the actions of GWB proof of that , and ain't it why we write at milpub?

    1. jim - My only concern with your Colt and your Winchester is envy. I wish they were mine. Of course they are legal, nobody here suggested they were not.

  83. jim

    Do not misquote me. I was not referring to "congressional action", but to:

    Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.".

    I do not deny you the guns you describe, and your rant is mere smoke - billows and billows of smoke. My question is whether allowing the unrestricted manufacture, sale and ownership of any and all firearms is sensible social policy. Our laws and Constitution reflect who we, as a People, define ourselves, whether the 100% enforcement of same is possible. If one uses the ultimate reach of your examples above, we should have no laws at all, as there are always those the law does not deter. We are where we are in part due to the lack of legally stating who we are as much as stating so.

    And from where do you get the idea that we are "allowed to secede from the Union"? The Constitution provides no such notion. None at all. Once could build a stronger case for expulsion than secession. After all, the idea of "We the People" pertains to a national majority, not an individual state. That said, I would truly enjoy watching a selected state or two try to make it on their own, and would definitely support my elected federal officials in granting irrevocable alien status to such states.

  84. To all,
    I again refer to Glen Greenwalds art on the us killings of kids overseas since no one has commented on it's content.
    As much as i dislike the nra they do not do missile strikes on foreign kids.That's what the POTUS orders while he's crying for dead US kids.
    Let's also remember the Branch Davidian massacre which is sometimes called a siege. A liberal prez allowed a military style assault using armored vehicles and chemical munitions against US citizens here in the homeland.(I'm assuming that Texas is still part of the US)
    My count was 23 kids killed in the assault phase.
    Did the black rifles that started the whole mess keep those folks alive? Black rifles will not kill tanks.
    This scenario is assiduously ignored when we discuss kids being killed by senseless violence.
    My point is that although this situation was a one off it is something to think about.
    BTW the Davidians were described as heavily armed although all they had were small arms. To James- the gov't had 50 cal hb's and assault vehicles.
    Government is more dangerous than any singular crazy armed with a black gun.
    So much for the castle doctrine.
    Oh yeah, in closing - the Clintons always supported gun control even while being surrounded by armed guards.
    That's my take.

  85. Al-

    "seydlitz: . . . is that one can perpetrate this level of murder with a pistol and several of the current standard magazines.

    If the premise above is absolutely valid, then why haven't we been sending more troops into combat with just pistols and piles of mags? Especially for close in or urban combat."

    "Combat" is a poor analogy to what we're discussing. These mass murders are essentially mass executions. There is little resistance, let alone armed resistance to what the murderer is doing until police are able to get to the scene which is usually too late to stop much of the killing.

    History shows that a pistol given the right conditions is enough to execute large numbers of people. The NKVD executioner Blokhin is said to have personally murdered 7,000 Polish prisoners in a 28 day period during the Katyn massacres. His weapon of choice was a .32 cal Walther PPK.

  86. seydlitz and jim-

    OK, I give up. There is absolutely no value in diminishing the fire power available to every citizen on the street. OK? You have chosen to list all the obstacles, without entertaining a dialog examining any potential benefit. God gave us the 2nd Amendment, and I am now cursed for espousing the heresy that it deserves a look. Not necessarily a change, but just a look. When the Grand Inquisitor arrives at my door, you may rest assured that I will meekly go to the gallows in hope that my soul might be saved. In the meantime, I will refrain from spreading my evil ideas.

    Merry Christmas.

  87. Seydlitz,
    Ironically the gun control act of 1968 made it illegal to import the Walther ppk but the Walther pp was legal to import.
    Now what was the logic since the pp held 1 more round in the mag? It was that the ppk was smaller ergo this got it designated as a 'Saturday night" special.The pp/ppk were 22/32/380 all of which are non military cartridges.
    Now that made us a lot safer.

  88. Like Al, I give up on this one.

    I do want to throw in the last observation that while we've often despaired here of the sort of geopolitical blindness of the idiots who got the U.S. mired in two land wars in Asia in the Oughts I find it particularly sad that this discussion has produced a solid bloc of people (whom I consider very intelligent, well-informed, and politically courant) who are arguing, in effect, that any legal measures to restrict the access of dangerously unstable people to rapid-firing, high-volume-fire weaponry is dangerous, impractical, and impossible without explaining why this solution that has been applied elsewhere is - not merely difficult - but impossible here.

    Every time Al or I have put forward what we consider potential suggestions you and seydlitz simply reply "WE CAN'T DO THAT!", jim. So I'm done here.

  89. This is an old argument with a new topic, nothing more. My view was stated clearly in my 21 December comment to Al. I've stated my view repeatedly and clearly (in my mind) so any repeating is unnecessary. It consists of the comments that I have made on this thread, rather than what others say my view supposedly is . . .

    Basically the problem is political. We are not the same country we were 20 years ago, the political structures have shifted away from any real accountability, or rule of law, or representation of national interests. If any reform were possible it would have to take that reality into account and start from there imo . . . We seem as a people unable to do that, and prefer rather a "faith-based" politics . . . which to me is a cheap swindle . . . sorry.

    Merry Christmas to my fellow barkeeps and to our loyal readers . . .

  90. Chief,
    You fail to acknowledge my basic criticism to your proposals.
    The premise that guns are the problem is as feeble or erroneous as was the logic of the pwot.
    THE PROBLEM isn't the availability of guns, it's the gomers (Your term)using them in a faulty manner. You didn't bother to answer my question about group punishment at platoon level. If it doesn't work there as i surmise then why would it work at the national level???
    You can't base legislation on emotional foundations. That's all i'm saying, and the thread has been slap full of emotion.
    I acknowledge my emotion also, and i may be wrong, but when speaking of foundation rights i'd rather error than gladly and blithely throwing my rights away.
    If you can't swing with that Chief, ole' buddy, then you need to cut my booze off.
    Laws that can't be enforced , or are useless ain't laws they're poor government.
    Merry christmas from western NC state hill country.
    Land, i'm sure,that we killed Indian kids and women to give the land to white men.

  91. seydlitz: "Basically the problem is political."

    All issues of public or social policy are political. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a political response to what was seen as a moral issue, for example. Doesn't stop people from disliking Blacks, but does limit their ability to act out on that dislike. So, while the Act may not have changed a fair portion of the population's values, it does moderate their actions to fall somewhat in line with what a basic majority of the populations deems acceptable.

    We are not the same country we were 20 years ago, the political structures have shifted away from any real accountability, or rule of law, or representation of national interests.

    We are not the same country we were in 1789, 1865 or 1929, either. The composition of the population, no less the world, has changed over the centuries. Whether people like it or not, if your country is regulated by generally "democratic" rule, things will change as the demographics and environment change. The "political structures" only represent the general mores of the society, and there is far from a sense of individual moral responsibility in American society. We seem to be more interested in imposing one brand of morality on others than exercising self discipline.

    We don't know what we want as a society, but there is one thing that is certain, whatever it is, it should be at no burden to me. The American dream is not simply "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". It is an all you can eat Free Lunch buffet.

  92. Back in 1964, my Uncle Vincent, a fairly astute amateur philosopher said, "They named the law improperly. Should be the 'Civil Rights and Responsibilities Act'. Can't have rights without accepting the responsibilities and consequences involved, or we are just talking about privileges".

    His point was, for example, for everyone to have the "right" to eat where they please, you have to accept the responsibility and consequences of everyone else having that right. In short, who sits next to you at that lunch counter is a consequence a general "right" cannot determine. If you wish the privilege of only having whites sitting next to you, then such is not a "right".

    Where I find fault with the proponents of an unbridled "right" to bear arms is that few, if any, are willing to belly up to the bar and state, "Occasional murders and mass killings by firearm wielding people is one small price we pay for this right". Rather, the consequences are blamed totally on other factors. We abridged the right to carry all sorts of stuff on airplanes, to include firearms, and the NRA was silent. Obviously, this "right" does indeed have some widely accepted limits, which tells me it is not so absolute.

    However, as I said above, I quit on the subject, as it is definitely Un-American to discuss responsibility and consequences in terms of the provision of "rights". However slight the consequence, the American notion of "rights" simply defines such notions of consequences away into non-existance. Therefore, I will pretend to accept the notion that the availability of an assault weapon and HC mag had absolutely no bearing on the tragedy in Newtown. The kid was mentally impaired, and if only a revolver or four were available, he would have accomplished the same carnage. Just might have taken a bit longer. Hell, he could have done it with a box cutter, if he was patient. The important thing was that the arsenal in the Lanza home protected Mrs Lanza from an intruder.

    If it's our societal imperative to have rights without openly accepting any and all potential responsibilities and consequences arising therefrom, so be it. It's just sad that there isn't the courage to say so.

    OK, so I lied. I haven't really quit. ;-)

  93. Al,
    We have been conditioned to the sky is falling for some time now. We had a war or 2 or maybe 3 or 4 based on a faulty premise. We have an economy that is out of control and both sides rely on theories that are just that -theories. We aren't safer on the world scene, unemployment figures are lies and the core of the country is less than healthy, but hey let's jump on a issue like gun control and all will be ginger peachy.
    I'm sick of ineffectual leadership and knee jerk liberalism OR conservatism yanking us around.
    OF course the fucker killed kids with a HC semi auto military clone rifle. Of course 9-11 happened, but the sky ain't falling b/c
    of gun violence or terrorism.
    We are unable to control our lives and our leaders on both sides of the aisle are equally to blame and we spin our heads trying to carry on our daily lives. We go to church and pray to a god of goodness or so we are told. We believe in his destiny and guidance of our lives, but then when a few kids die we act as if it's the judgement day.
    The bottom line imo is that we have become spineless , risk averse people who want to fight phony wars without US casualties and we want freedom without the requisite costs.
    Either we are or we aren't - that's my mantra.
    Either we accept the risks with the benefits or we ain't what we claim to be.

  94. Al,
    There are definitely events that can lead to the decline of a country and/or culture.
    There are things that feel good , and things that are painful but necessary and it's beyond my ability to sway these events, but i just don't get it.
    Guns have been central to our national life. The DCM/NRA have been sanctioned and the dcm funded by congress to support firearms training and availability since 1871. OK so we've changed and i ask-how so?
    If my country no longer trusts me then i no longer will trust my country.When i lose the most valued asset of being a citizen then i must ask why am i here.
    THIS AIN'T ABOUT GUNS- it's about the rights of citizenship. We've paid for our rights of citizenship and i ain't crying for rights without having borne my responsibility of citizenship. Neither have you or seydlitz or chief.We've all done so in different ways.The violence we've seen is as irrational as was Newtown and we played our part and now i reckon i'm just a bit shy on the sympathy side of things.
    We're at each others throats over bullshit that we have no control over and we are getting emotional just as our leaders want. When we get all girli we fail to be coldly rational.

    Well this is written in the mountains of Western NC and it's Christmas morning, but here's a salient point. I'm staying in a mountain home and the owners do not have a gun to protect themselves, and police could not respond if there were a violent episode.
    This boggles my mind b/c i am trained and my instincts require me to rely on myself. I just can't imagine any other attitude and that is b/c of what i am. This does not imply that i'm right,but that's how it is.This template is a perfect metaphor for the gun issue.
    Sadly Santa did not bring me a new rifle, but i did notice his newly acquired flanking security contractors.
    I'll rely on myself.
    Best to all of you at the pub.
    To PFK-keep it up. You're doing fine.

  95. jim

    Is that an oblique way of saying that unfettered gun ownership is worth the innocent lives that are lost to guns? Or are you just posting a cathartic rant?

    I am not claiming the sky is falling. Just suggesting a rational discourse on a current social issue, but without sacred cows, irrelevant digressions or a defeatist attitude that shuts down discourse. If you fell that's asking too much, say so.

    So, two "Yes or No" questions. Ball's in your court.

  96. Been travelling and I'm late to this interesting discussion. Merry Christmas everyone!

    There are a lot of things I could respond to, but instead I'll just make a few general observations.

    To start off with, I'm pretty ambivalent when it comes to guns. I currently own a .357 revolver and a .22 rimfire rifle, though I haven't gone shooting in a couple of years. In the past I owned an AK-47 and a Beretta 9m. I don't really have an ideological view on this except for some narrow issues. I find myself very skeptical of both the NRA and Gun Control advocacy groups.

    I tend to agree a lot with Seydlitz's comments on society and the state of our democracy. I tend to thing guns make some of our societal issues worse, they aren’t an “evil” in and of themselves. I tend to agree with Chief about the history of violence and the use violence and tragedies to further political goals. I find points of agreement and disagreement with everyone who's commented so far.

    I think guns in the US are a more complex issue than the pro and anti-gun partisans realize or admit. I kind of wish both sides could look a bit more at the big picture and think a bit more holistically about the problem of gun violence. I think it's both sad and unfortunate that incidents like Sandy Hook tend to simply revive old culture war debates regarding guns with the usual arguments. Very little consideration is given to cost/benefit by either side, much less deeper analysis of specific policy proposals. There is very little that's new in what I've been reading in various places - the arguments are mostly retreads.

    Now some analysis: At this point I don't think there is much political support in the country for new gun laws that would actually be effective. Americans do not want any significant new restrictions on firearms. At the most they appear to want the appearance of tighter guns laws, not actual tighter guns laws. This is evidenced by the low-hanging fruit of magazine size restrictions and revival of the so-called Assault Weapons ban. It’s quite questionable whether either would have any significant effect at all on gun violence in the US. This is the way we do things America these days. We don’t really fix problems, we make the appearance of fixing problems because we don’t want to make the really hard decisions or deal with the really difficult issues. Much easier to either ignore it, or pretend that the low-hanging fruit will actually make a difference.

  97. Now for my opinion: Overall I think that there are some pretty big limits to what legislative action can do to curb gun violence. And I'm not simply talking about gun control or guns laws. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and so I think if we really wanted to reign-in the number of weapons out there it will require a very-long term effort, probably over a couple of generations. This would be a process of changing minds more than attempting to force compliance through government authority. Of course, government-mandated compliance can certainly play a role, as Chief noted with the Civil Rights act and other measures. The problem with guns, however, is that we haven’t reached a point where effective legislative action is possible. Maybe someday it will come, but until it does, it seems to me the best course of action is to change minds which is about impossible in the current environment.

    Personally, I would not have a problem with looking at the 2nd amendment. Al is right the Constitution can be changed. Where I disagree with liberals is that I don’t agree with the idea that the 2nd amendment can simply be made practically irrelevant through judicial interpretation. That said, I don't have a problem with more gun regulation, but my support for any proposal really depends on the details including whether or not the proposal would be effective (ie. actually do what it intends to do). And that's what really frustrates me the most about the gun control side of the debate. There are lots of generalities, but few specifics. I go look, for example, at the Brady Campaign sites and it seems more focused on attacking the NRA than proposing actual gun control measures.

    And the key for me here is effectiveness. The Brady Campaign, for example, had a hand in crafting California’s Assault Weapons ban and wants to use it as a model for a federal law. However, like the Clinton-era ban, it’s not very effective. You can still get an AR-15 or AK style weapon or any number of other semi-automatic rifles. These legal weapons are, at best, marginally less lethal for spree-murders. Here’s a primer on CA’s law from a California gun dealer:


    I’m not for or against CA’s gun law, but I am seriously skeptical regarding its effectiveness. The California example is a problem with most gun control proposals in my view – they make a show of banning “assault weapons” but they don’t ban them in reality.

    As for what I would do, I think the focus should be with the states. The gun-control needs in New York are not the same as those in Colorado or Montana. I don’t think a one-size-fits-all federal solution is going to work, either practically or politically. I think states should pass whatever restrictions they feel are necessary. The role of the federal government should be to facilitate state choices. To do that, the feds should more strictly regulate weapons crossing state lines and the feds should require that purchasers demonstrate residency in the state they are purchasing in. Additionally, the feds should set up a national background check system for the states to use. That could be a start at least.

  98. Andy

    Welcome home and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    As usual, a well thought out response. I question how effective 50 independent laws would be in curbing the massive volume of assault weapons and HC mags nationwide. Would simply result in new "channels of distribution", especially since there are major holes in the existing legislation, as once a firearm is first sold commercially, any and all subsequent "private sales" are unregulated. Won't even go into how many weapons are "missing" from gun dealer inventories, but that seems to be a common issue in the trade.

    It is clear that the sales of AR-15 based weapons since the end of the previous ban have been astronomical. No way I could shoot from the hip to offer a means of roping that in, but rolling over and saying the horse is already out of the barn does nothing to encourage dialog nor offer solutions.

    As I have said all along, there are indeed a multitude of factors in the violence we see in American society. Simply listing a variety of examples of factors not pertaining to gun ownership to avoid addressing guns and violence is horse pucky.

    I, for one, am heartened that this event has at least stirred any form of discussion. We do have an unusually high level of domestic violence in the US, and it's time it got some serious attention. That we, as a society, are up to the task, is another issue. As you say, minds need to be influenced, but ideological rigidity and fear sure make that difficult. Very difficult.

    Perhaps the first question every American has to answer is simply, "Is the absolute right to own firearms worth one or two innocent lives per year?" Perhaps answering that while face to face with a grieving Newtown parent would be interesting - especially if limited to a simple "Yes" or "No", not a "Well, you have to understand - (smoke cloud, smoke cloud, etc)."

    Again, I am not saying the sky is falling or demanding an immediate and absolute ban. Just a rational and honest discourse, with everything on the table, concerning all aspects of our violent culture, to include the role of guns in same. If we, as a society, accept and openly state that easy access to fire arms is more important than the innocent lives taken by guns, so be it. At least that's an honest stance. Instead, we dance around that very fundamental question. No one wants to do the "cost-benefit" analysis. Instead, we perform diversionary acts such as wrapping ourselves in the Constitution as if it's divinely inspired and immutable, or point our fingers at everyone else. If the Constitution was immutable, there wouldn't be a 2nd Amendment.

  99. Well said, Andy, as usual.

    And jim, I think I have answered most of your points in one place or another, but let me try and piece everything together here (tho I am very serious in saying that I have really finished with this subject; we will just never agree and I have to accept that and stop bending ears tha don't want to listen). So, here goes:

    The premise that guns are the problem is as feeble or erroneous as was the logic of the pwot.
    THE PROBLEM isn't the availability of guns, it's the gomers (Your term)using them in a faulty manner.

    I don't think I ever said that "guns were the problem". I think there are many conditions that MAKE the level of violence in the U.S. a problem. But I think that the ease of use of, and the easy availability of, high-magazine-capacity autoloading firearms helps MAKE THIS VIOLENCE MORE DEADLY. If these nutters were forced to use a Winchester .30, or a .38 Police Special wheelgun they would, at least, have to stop and reload one round at a time after six or seven shots.

    You didn't bother to answer my question about group punishment at platoon level. If it doesn't work there as i surmise then why would it work at the national level???

    But it DOES work. IT did when I was a privvit, and when I was at SFQC. We were punished as a class and it made us a HELL of a lot more wary about what our classmates did.

    But I think that's a poor analogy. I like this one: a NASCAR driver is perfectly capable of bombing down the interstate at 140mph. I'm not. So to protect everyone else from my incompetence the speed limit on the interstate is 65 for both the NASCAR guy and me. That's not "collective punushment", that's ensuring domestic tranquility. Sucks for the NASCAR guy, but that's how civil society works.

    You can't base legislation on emotional foundations.

    But my point isn't that "OMFG we HAVE to STOP these nutter shootings!" It's that we have legal and physical means to make them more difficult, and we should at least debate the cost-benefit by, at least, first accepting that there IS a cost to the widespread access to these very effective, simple-to-use weapons. Your point seems to be that there simply isn't. (Seydlitz seems to be arguing that, while there is, the political will to conduct that debate isn't there - which may well be true but was true in 1964 when Johnson ramrodded through the Civil Rights Acts, so, there...)

    All I'm saying is that we've seen places like Australia (another "Wild West" culture very like our own, albeit with roots in the gun-control British legal system - it's not a perfect analogy, I admit) enact some very simple, sensible restrictions on weapon type, magazine capacity, use and storage, that have helped significantly reduce their civil firearms deaths.

    When I posted my comments I thought that I was being very rational and cold-blooded. I was, and am, accepting that outlawing private firearms ownership is neither desireable nor possible and that will mean that a certain number of innocent Americans will die every year. But that there ARE ways to reduce that number.

    But you don't seem to believe that suggestion even worthy of debate, so beyond that, I got nothin'.

    Hope you are all having a terrific Christmas Day. Here's a glass to all of you, my friends.

  100. Al,

    No doubt there are downsides to a state-focused approach, but I think that's the way to go in a nation as diverse as ours. The "channels of distribution" problem is where the feds could focus their efforts. Of course short of draconian measures there's no way to really stop the flow of weapons. That's a problem without any perfect solution IMO.

    It is clear that the sales of AR-15 based weapons since the end of the previous ban have been astronomical. No way I could shoot from the hip to offer a means of roping that in, but rolling over and saying the horse is already out of the barn does nothing to encourage dialog nor offer solutions.

    On the second point, I would just say that pointing out that the "horse" is already out of the barn is simply stating reality. The fact is that there are a lot of guns already out there, something like 300 million. That's not automatically an argument to do nothing, but it's something that can't simply be ignored. Guns aren't like, for instance, cars. With a car, government can mandate new safety standards knowing that most older cars will be off the road within a decade. Guns, well maintained, can last well beyond 100 years. The replacement rate due to obsolescence is a lot slower. That’s one reason I think we need to take a long view on the issue.

    With regard to AR-15's, there is a reason they became so popular and remain so. In a way, it's become a platform in the way that intel chipsets are for computers. Dell, Apple, Gateway use mostly the same guts with some modifications. That standardization brings the price down and allows customization that's not possible with other weapons. With an AR-15 you can buy a different upper assembly and change the cartridge to almost anything available, just as one example. With the variety of stocks and grips available, the weapon can be customized to fit the shooter no matter what their size. So they are very comfortable to shoot for most people. All these features make them widely popular. I’m not sure how legislation can affect that. The AR-15 is really a platform, not a “gun” in the traditional sense. That makes it difficult to regulate or ban, as California found out.

    If we, as a society, accept and openly state that easy access to fire arms is more important than the innocent lives taken by guns, so be it. At least that's an honest stance.

    I guess it seems so obvious to me that it goes without saying. After all, if we, as a society, thought otherwise we'd probably have different laws and a different culture.

  101. Chief,

    I like this one: a NASCAR driver is perfectly capable of bombing down the interstate at 140mph. I'm not. So to protect everyone else from my incompetence the speed limit on the interstate is 65 for both the NASCAR guy and me.

    I think your analogy is the status quo. There is nothing that says you can't drive a car capable of going 200 MPH, yet the speed limit is 65. Similarly, there's nothing that says you can't own a gun capable of killing a lot of people, but killing is illegal.

    What if, instead, we mandated that manufacturers could only sell cars that were incapable of going faster than 65MPH? Or make cars "smart" and incapable of exceeding whatever the posted speed limit is on whatever street they’re on? Wouldn't that cut down on a lot of auto deaths? Wouldn't that be a lot more effective than the speed limits we have now? Yes, but no one is interested in doing that, even though it would be easy to implement.

    People don’t want built-in speed limits on their cars. I think the same principle applies with guns. People think it's justified to criminalize behavior committed with guns, but are much less interested in placing restrictions on the guns themselves.

    A couple of things I forgot to mention before:

    I think gun owners should be held responsible for what happens to their weapons (situation dependent, of course). If you want to at least partly solve the secondary sales problem, then pass a law holding the original purchaser libel for any crime that gun is involved in. People would be incentivized to transfer ownership through an established system.

    Second, let's end the "war" on drugs. That would probably do a lot more a lot quicker to reduce gun violence than just about any gun law.

  102. Andy and all,
    Why are black rifles so popular? Try looking at the militarization of police and society.
    Look at the after math of the shooting when there WAS A ZERO THREAT LEVEL. All the police were escorting the traumatized folks with accessorized black rifles hanging from their necks. That's a good summary of crass indifference..
    Why don't we consider the constant play they get on TV programs,or that millions of people have carried them in combat as US military or as contractors or police.
    Why do u folks denigrate 6 shot double action pistols? They are a volume of fire weapon if you use cheap, readily available speed loaders.
    Why the fascination with crummy 10 rd mags? Why are they a solution? You just have to change more often. It doesn't slow you down.
    The supremes have spoken as has the 7th us circuit court.THE 2ND AMENDMENT IS A PERSONAL and individual right. It ain't just about the militia.
    Why do we ignore this fact
    Yes we must accept the deaths of innocents just as we must accept that terrorists will kill more of us in the future.Again i emphasize the fact that nobody here will acknowledge the fact that the US kills kids in foreign countries , but we only cry about kids in Newport.
    This is absurd.
    If i'm ranting then i'll fuck off.

  103. Andy:
    I think gun owners should be held responsible for what happens to their weapons (situation dependent, of course). If you want to at least partly solve the secondary sales problem, then pass a law holding the original purchaser libel for any crime that gun is involved in. People would be incentivized to transfer ownership through an established system.

    In short, something similar to the titling of motor vehicles. In many states, if you fail to notify the state that you have sold a car and to whom, you retain liability for damage and injury caused by the operation of that vehicle. Makes sense to me.

    Also, in many states, the gaining of and subsequent transfer of too many motor vehicles in a given time frame is limited, as only registered dealers can buy and sell that volume. When you see the piles of weapons on a gun show participant's table, those are weapons for which traceability and liability has been lost.

    A HS classmate is a retired police chief. He said it's amazing how many gun shops "realize" a gun has been "stolen" from their shop after is has been found to have been used in a crime and traced back to them.

    The above "gun titling equivalent" came up in an online discussion I was reading, and one poster said:

    That's OK for cars, but if the government becomes tyrannical and knows who has weapons, they will use those titles to go after us first. We need to be able to defend ourselves against this, and keeping them from knowing is a main line of defense.

    I would agree that implicit in the US culture is a widely held belief that easy access to fire arms is more important than the innocent lives taken by guns. HOWEVER, I am also willing to bet that few, if any, of the public figures supporting unrestricted gun rights would go on Meet the Press and say so in those few succinct words. And, in my highly judgmental opinion, the unwillingness to say it out loud and clearly is pure and simple cowardliness.

    Yes, it's a huge problem, the assault weapon horse is out of the barn, but rolling over in defeat is not a problem solving approach.

    Yup, we lost the "War on drugs" years ago. We are effectively DOA on that one, but aren't smart enough to realize we stopped breathing. However, most mass shootings over the past several years had nothing to do with that. Another diversion from a fully open dialog.

  104. jim

    You make the totally unsupported assumption that I accept and/or ignore the killing of "foreign" children. You obviously don't read what I have written over the years, or haven't retained it. The "collateral damage" (i.e all the innocents killed by US fires) inflicted in the PWOT, to use your term, is unjustifiable, barbaric and a reason I have raised my voice and also cast my vote in the manner I chose. Note that I refer to "innocents", not "kids" in my reasoning. The firemen killed in Webster, NY by a Bushmaster wielding nutjob were just as innocent as the children in Newtown. My brother-in-laws father, as well as three other coworkers killed by a semi-automatic rifle wielded by a disgruntled former employee, were "innocents". Afghan and Iraqis who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time were "innocents". In fact, the Iraqi bystanders who were trying to carry a wounded "bad guy" to safety and thus gunned down by an Apache were "innocents". Two wrongs don't make a right. Little Johnny's unacceptable actions do not justify mine. Never did and never will. Learned that from my Dad about age 5, and never again thought otherwise in the subsequent 65 years I've been around. Wished it were that easy sometimes, but still knew better.

  105. Al,

    Yes, it's a huge problem, the assault weapon horse is out of the barn, but rolling over in defeat is not a problem solving approach.

    Who is rolling over in defeat? A "problem solving approach" would recognize the issue of the existing supply of weapons and consider what, if anything, to do about them.

    Another diversion from a fully open dialog.

    Why is it a diversion? If it is, in reality, a "fully open dialog" then I don't understand how looking at factors other than the weapons themselves is a diversion. Or is the discussion limited to mass shootings?

  106. Andy- Why is it a diversion? If it is, in reality, a "fully open dialog" then I don't understand how looking at factors other than the weapons themselves is a diversion. Or is the discussion limited to mass shootings?

    If the dialog addresses all causes, and all means of violence, it is open. What I was offering, perhaps not clearly, was the risk of making an a priore assumption that a given cause or means is too difficult to address or can't be fixed, or isn't the root cause, and consequently moving on to the next item. Drugs gangs, mental illness, violent entertainment should be viewed, as should firearms, knives, bombs, etc.

    Similarly, individual homicides and mass killings need to be on the plate. 27 individual shootings equal one Newtown in terms of loss of life. It's still the killing of 27 innocents. In short, it is not just an issue of mass killings with AR-15 type weapons with 100 round mags, but violent physical assaults and the instruments used therein in general. e.g.- from another direction, one could say, "Well, we can't just institutionalize or give mandatory Prozac to every person suspected of being a threat" and then say that the banning all weapons is the only answer. We aren't going to wipe out all the causes nor remove all the means, but it would still be worthwhile to attempt to diminish both.

    As to the magnitude of the task in reducing the quantity of weapons in improper hands, well, I offer this anecdote:

    In the 1980's, auto theft in NYC was a big issue, often with the cars ending up as burned hulks on the side of the road. The Precinct Commander on Staten Island reduced the level of theft on the island by 40% at a total cost of $5.00, which he paid himself. 1) He no longer accepted verbal reports of vehicle theft. The owner had to complete and sign a police felony report. Officers responding to a reported theft would simply give the complainant one to fill out on the spot or turn in at their leisure at the precinct. 2) For $5.00, the Commander has a rubber stamp made that cited the criminal penalties for filing a false police report and for making a false insurance claim. This was dutifully stamped in red ink on all forms provided to folks wishing to report any vehicle theft. Within a day, there was a front page item in the Staten Is newspaper decrying this "burden" on residents, especially the cessation of allowing telephone reports. "Better and more vigilant patrolling" was the answer - clamp down on criminals, etc.

    Both reported vehicle theft and burned out vehicle hulks dropped immediately, and stayed that way. Amazing how powerful a deterrent a simple rubber stamp could be. Within a couple of months, when the precinct reported the reductions, the Staten Island paper was pinning roses on the chief, and speculating if such a step could help reduce burglary of insured homes and businesses. The chief may not have only reduced vehicle "theft", but he also probably reduced insurance fraud.

    Sort of like your mention of making people liable for their action or inaction in reporting gun sales or transfers of ownership? Wouldn't eliminate every illicit weapon, nor eliminate every violent act, but it could be a disincentive towards one category of act. Or, we could just say, "That will never work", and fight for mandatory Prozac.

    To be continued.........

  107. (Continued)

    I have not, in any manner, espoused "draconian measures". In fact, I have not really championed any specific measures. I have simply said, "no sacred cows". Of course, "draconian" is not very precise in societal terms. Obviously, if we have to arm ourselves against a possibly tyrannical government, we need to own our weapons in relative secrecy and are going to need to have access to a lot of weaponry not currently legal.

    All I ask is that there be an attempt to consider any and all approaches to reducing the slaughter, both of individuals and mass killings. And, yes, not just in controlling the means, but addressing the causes. One life "saved" is one life "saved". Won't even begin to address the synergy of a broad application of individual measures.

    Instead, it is all too common to rule out a given factor totally because of a claimed "lack of will" or the like. The issues under discussion are not simply guns nor simply mental health, but guns and mental health are still part of the overall problem and should remain in the discussion, lest their absolute exclusion results in the failure to find a reasonable point that might work - not as a "silver bullet", but as a contributing element.

    So, if you want my definition of a "fully open discussion", no issue is discarded or ruled out until it has been examined in the minutest detail for any promising approach. We really don't know the true "political will" about minor tweaks, simply because we all to often obfuscate them by elevating them to the level Rights" and "Draconian" and then retreat to the bunkers.

    If a few innocent lives are worth saving, then a fully open dialog is reasonable. If they aren't worth saving, then we should openly say so and move on to the next subject. And whether or not they are worth saving should be the first issue on the table. Can't even have a discussion until that is resolved. To be frank, if we, as a society, were to formally accept the status quo, it sure would save a lot of time and effort that could be invested in other things.

    How the hell can we even debate the "costs" of a policy proposal when we don't have a consensus that there is even a worthwhile benefit or problem to apply it to in the first place. Isn't it similarly non-productive if we predefine that a specific category (but not necessarily the level of that category) of cost must be ruled out? If we in MilPub cannot do that, I doubt the "Great Unwashed" have a snowball's chance in hell of doing do.

  108. At least it is good that no one here is getting a petition up to deport anyone else, like what is happening to Piers Morgan.

    No one here has gotten that far here into the wilds of Gun Nuttery.

    So what have we got so far from the tragedy in Conn.? Immediate action from our recently renewed president, namely a commission headed by VP Biden; gun dealers unable to keep the infamous Bushmasters in stock.

    Look at this picture from my hometown newspaper:


    See anything disturbing in it?

    We regulate so many things that affect our lives and well-being, like cars, food, water, land use, air, medicine and medical care. However, these regulations are under siege . . . by guess who.

    I don't see why guns should be exempt from regulation, and I do think titling is a good start.
    So why aren't guns regulated as much? Because there is a lot of profit to be made . . . by guess who.

    The "WHO" are the manufacturers of the weapons and especially the ammunition and other supplies, their chief PR organization the NRA, and for many members of our political leadership who get the funds they need to stay in power.

    I'm totally cynical about anything of use being done very soon WRT privately owned guns. Nothing happened after the Gifford incident in Arizona, the theater in Colorado, the campus deaths in Virginia, Columbine, and other mass murders.

    And now after this latest in Newtown, we get a presidential commission, the best way to deep six a hot issue. Senator Feinstein wants to reinstate the assault weapons ban, and in the Senate are calls for reforming the filibuster.

    Anyone taking bets on any of those 3 happening? I'd certainly be happy if just one of them comes to fruition.

    The point I'm getting at is that our government "of the people, by the people, for the people" is fast slipping away to one controlled by corporate and monied interests.

    We will not have effective control of private weaponry b/c of political money. ( My personal opinion, 6-month minimum waiting to get the 6-banger pistol or rifle with similar size mag. for adequate background check, and titling as suggested above. )

    Look at frakking, a proven risk to our environment, our health, and our rights, it is for the most part immune to regulation from local to federal, b/c of political money.

    I have a couple of buddies who are activists for hemp and medical marijuana. It won't happen, b/c of political money. ( Qualified though, it will be interesting to see how Washington state and Colorado stand up to Obama, who promised support for such things in his 2008 campaign, but reneged. )

    IMO, we as a nation have sold our political birthright for a corporate-sponsored bowl of porridge. We've allowed unelected and unaccountable individuals with vast sums of money and power to operate without controls, to do as they wish.

    The thought offends me, but there will have to be many more massacres to stir a mass movement for effective gun control, like the Civil Rights movement, if for no other reason than fear of being part of a mass murder experience ourselves. The thousands of us who are shot dead,young and old by our singles, 2s and 4s, every year don't matter a whit.

    At some point in time, We the People will have to take our government back and keep it. The problem is, will it be in time?


  109. AL:

    Within a couple of months, when the precinct reported the reductions, the Staten Island paper was pinning roses on the chief,

    In lieu of cynicism and mass movements spurred on by numerous, multi-victim, repetitive gun-caused tragedies, courageous, sensible and incorruptible political leadership would be fine by me.

    An honest and free ( from popular and monied influence ) media would be a plus too.

    I view this gun problem as a spiritual one. People here commenting are not the problem, the problem consists of those people who feel powerless and who are shaky in times of uncertainty and societal change. They are easily swayed and think that a weapon is an easy and cheap way of getting power for themselves.
    And there's a lot of money to be made off that type of fear.


  110. May I edit a bit to expand my scope

    "The type of people commenting . . . ."

    And right after I left here, "guns and power"



  111. The supremes have spoken as has the 7th us circuit court.THE 2ND AMENDMENT IS A PERSONAL and individual right. It ain't just about the militia.
    Why do we ignore this fact

    Contempt for something is not ignoring it; the SCOTUS opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 is a fucking joke, a wingnut pity party completely disconnected to the actual language of the 2A and the clear intent of the amendment.

    In a sane polity the Congress would have laughed along and immediately passed an addition to the U.S. Code nullifying this idiotic opinion.

    Look, jim; if dead kids and firefighters and all won't change your mind I sure can't. My position here is functionally the same as Al's; I've done what I can short of active rebellion to change my government's nasty business overseas. And I'm trying here, as I'm trying in Salem and D.C., to change my government's position on the firearms free-for-all we have here in the U.S. I don't know whether I can or will be able to do anything, but I'm gonna try, and I see pushing for some sort of sensible firearms regulation as part of that effort.

    Your response seems to be, simply, well, those kiddos and firefighters and all will just have to die because the 30-round magazine is a Good Thing.

    I'm not going to continue to try and change your mind on that. But you haven't convinced me to change mine, either. And that, I'm afraid, is where we're going to have to stay.

  112. And one further observation re: DC v Heller: it's hilarious to listen to wingnuts fulminate about "legislating from the bench!" until said "legislation" goes their way. It'd be entertaining to hear the screams over Heller if it had gone the OTHER way, wouldn't it?

    Andy: Well reasoned, and I agree. But let me posit the case somewhat differently. You couldn't install governors on vehicles to keep speeds down to 65 simply because the physics doesn't work; the governor would prevent you from, say, overtaking or hillclimbing.

    But in this case I think you can extend the analogy to the vehicles - or the weapons - themselves. The NASCAR guy has proven that he can handle his "stock" car safely on an oval track. But we don't let him drive it on the interstate, right? Same with the F1 guy and his Ferrari, or the Bradley driver and his M3.

    What I'm suggesting is that we consider the possibility that certain types of weapons (and types of magazines) are simply not compatible with "domestic tranquility", and that, as such, would no more be "infringing" on the right to bear arms per se than preventing the privvit from driving his Brad down I-5 would be...

    Okay, seriously, last comment on this subject. Guh-bye, all.

  113. Chief-

    As to what the professional NASCAR guy can do on the track versus he and the general population do on the road, I offer this quote from the news article bb linked above:

    Michael James, part owner of Inman Arms LLC, in Inman, said it was much the same in his store. He said the AR-15 seemed to be one of the more popular choices since last Friday.

    "People come in that don't know anything about that gun, but they think they want one," he said.

    nuff said?

  114. Ok, for those still following this thread, I want to throw in a tangent. If it needs to be it's own post, I think it is worth doing it.

    My argument about the gun violence is based around the idea that we have bigger problems in America that aren't being covered in the media, so we ignore them and focus on the statistical outliers. Check this out:


    Rape capitals of the world in 2010:

    South Africa – it has one of the highest rates, with 277,000 reported cases. The same year a survey by the Medical Research Council found that one in four men admitted to raping someone

    United States – more than 84,000 rape cases were reported. Criminals face life behind bars, and in some states, castration is an option

    India – reported a little more than 22,000 cases

    United Kingdom – 16,000 cases were reported. A suspect found guilty, faces a maximum conviction of life in prison

    Mexico – nearly 15,000 cases were reported. In some parts of the country, penalties may consist of a few hours in jail, or minor fines

    Germany – counts the highest number of reported rape cases in Europe, just under 8,000

    Russia – almost 5,000 cases were reported, and the crime holds a punishment of 4 -10 years in jail

    I don't know for a fact if AJ's facts are good (UN has the same numbers). But if they are, this is despicable. The U.S. is 2nd in the world only to South Africa in rapes?? And these stats, if accurate, are NOT normalized to population (to be fair, many rapes go unreported in al countries). What are we doing about this???

    The answer is clearly nothing, but what should we do? An interesting trend, the US, according to AJ, has some of the strictess penalties, yet, still have among the highest rates. What does that say about legal deterrence of violent crimes?

  115. Al: Roger that.

    And, since I didn't actually bother to go back and read Heller before I posted my reply to jim, here are some interesting bits worth pondering before we consider this decision the absolute final word in keeping and bearing every variety of arms. All the quotes below are from Justice Scalia, not exactly an internationally recognized hippie bunny-hugger:

    “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill...laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools...laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

    He also noted that laws banning “dangerous and unusual weapons” are “another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms.” He gave a very specific example: “M-16 rifles and the like.”

    During oral arguments Scalia stated “I don’t know that a lot of people have machine guns or armor-piercing bullets, I think that’s quite unusual.”

    So Antonin is with me; yay, Antonin! Another round, buddy!

  116. bg-

    The gun issue we have been discussing here has been, for most of us, primarily discussed in terms of their involvement in violence. Thus, your comment is spot on, as far as relevance. Pure and simple, rape is a crime of violence. The US is a violent society. Hell, rape is an issue at the service academies, which are alleged bastions of honor and virtue. Many military women claim that rape goes unpunished because they are afraid to file a complaint, as the complaint will only result in further suffering (psychological assault?).

    Deterrence by legislation is only effective if the individual sees the following costs occurring in the decision making process: Detection, apprehension, adjudication, conviction and finally punishment, and then concludes that the unlawful act offers less benefit than the costs, if any. Add "the heat of passion" often involved in violence to the formula, and even that long chain of events before there are consequences becomes obscure.

    I am willing to bet that there is a greater element of our culture's violent nature fueling violent video games, than those games creating violent natures. However, the two probably go hand in hand. Sort of a regenerative feedback loop, amplifying things in susceptible individuals, reinforcing it in some others.

    As I wrote above, we need to look at both the causes and means of violence. A fair part, I hate to say, is in our championing of the rights of the individual trumping the collective well being. We are pretty much of similar "seed corn" as Canada, yet significantly more violent. The US was "birthed" by an act of violence, Canada by peaceful legislation. Probably could start there.

    We say we are a "nation of laws", yet we act like a "nation of personal desire". While I accept Chief's premise that mankind has a violent streak, all too many cultures have shown the ability to tamp that down significantly, without resorting to so called "draconian measures".

    I guess we would have to begin by admitting that the US is a violent culture, has been for a long time, and appears to be becoming increasingly so. No hiding behind "they are the violent ones, not me". It's time to include everyone in "We the People", and honestly address the problem.

  117. As a parting shot, let me say that most of us who follow or contribute to MilPub are, to put it gently, past our prime. Nor does it help that we are overwhelmingly male and white. What our cohort thinks of as the norm hardly counts, as witness the acceptance of gay marriage, marijuana and Draconian measures against drunk driving, to name three of the changes that came about without the courtesy of asking our permission. In short, gentlemen, we have become superfluous, like the old man in an early Thomas Mann story. The fellow was hobbling by a cemetery when knocked down by a bicyclist, who sped away without so much as a backward glance.

    In England and Wales guns in the hands of criminals resulted in the death of 39 people in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 the United States 39,000 homicides were recorded and experienced by the victims and their families. The NRA and NRA fellow-travelers have a lot of explaining to do, as one can see from the impassioned arguments on this blog. And it’s sad, because those of us who grew up during the industrial age, the time when men (and not robotic machines) worked and crafted metal, find beauty in firearms.

    I once had a collection Nambu 8-mm pistols ranged from a beautifully finished 1937 model to the sheerest junk in 1944. But it seems that such relics and their more lethal modern counterparts are going the way of smoking and three-martini lunches. Each generation must make its own arrangements.

  118. Paul-

    I've sat back and read all the various comments since my last one, and what exactly has been accomplished? Have we come any further in this discussion? If so, I don't see it . . . sorry.

    Andy's commented, and that's good as usual, as have basil and bg, but have we turned over any new ground? . . . and then you say that that's due to "generations" . . . as if the politics are assumed to be always the same? Who's blowing smoke now . . . ?

    Imo, jim's got a much better fix on it than any of you . . .

    My best friend back home got an M-4 as a Christmas gift, a person who was introduced to weapons by me . . . who had little interest in weapons until I introduced them to him . . . but I was not the one who bought him this gift . . . it is not generational, since we see it happening across generations . . . it is something else. Essentially "bait and switch", imo . . . which is why ya'll are having such a hard time dealing with it . . .

    This "debate" will go nowhere . . .

  119. True, s-89.

    If I read our jim's opinion rightly, even if we get an assault weapons ban along with the restrictions on magazine size, not much will change for a long while. With a 4-year record of Obama's actions to look at, I don't even see the likelihood of that.

    I would like to be surprised.

    I agree with Chief & Al on what ought to be. If I ruled the world, you'd only have small capacity handguns and bolt action rifles and shotguns, and registration/titling along with it.

    I'll reiterate that the only method whereby we'll ger positive action on guns or any other issue troubling the public mind is massive and consistent demonstrations spurred on by disgust with the status quo or a sea change of politics in this country.

    What's the immigration policy where you're at?

    Just halfway kidding, or not.

    PS Aviator, true what you quoted from my link, but my greater concern was the little kiddies crawling about all over the picture. Plus the fact that this not-very-well off family was considering purchasing an unnecessary expensive item.


  120. seydlitz-

    If water is leaking down from the ceiling, very often, the entry point on the roof is nowhere near the visible exit point inside. Nor does that tell us if it’s a leaky roof or a leaking water pipe. bg's mention of rape did, indeed, open, not necessarily "new ground" but a new point of inquiry into what the gun discussion is trying to address - violence against our fellow man. Jim made a valuable contribution by opening the discussion of "acceptable violence" against children - as long as they are in "enemy lands".

    So, rather than simply patching a piece of sheetrock, we are crawling around in the attic looking at a variety of issues, albeit in a less than focused manner. How the hell can we be focused when the subject is violence - by our very neighbor? Sure, we can say that the perpetrator is not "one of us", and thus what we “hold dear” is not the problem. The first person plural lacks precision in that regard. Kinda like when the Mrs says, "We need to do something about that leaky ceiling." Her part of "we" ends long before the act of crawling into the attic.

    Funny thing is that the "We" in "We The People" was never an all inclusive "We". It did not include slaves nor Native Americans, and only partially included women. "We" are not an inclusive "We" in our values, just in our marketing pitches and self-congratulatory delusions. The American "Melting Pot" notion is a joke. What the WASPS meant was that the non-WASPS were simply to take on, or at least mimic, the values of WSAPdom. Thus, my grandma’s forbidding my generation speaking any Italian, lest we end up with an accent and be treated as an “outsider”, as she and her children were. If we were, indeed, a "Melting Pot", the resulting mixture would be ever changing with each new ingredient. People of color are at a particular disadvantage, since their most easily identifiable physical characteristic cannot be changed under the WASP definition "melting". Eternal outliers – that even The Borg cannot assimilate .

    "Americans" really want to be tribal, but have neither the balls nor wherewithal to do so, no less admit it’s their goal. Further, the “Real American” tribe has no geographical area to dominate. States Rights, selectively applied by most proponents, is really Tribal Rights, but so far, the ability to keep the population of Tribal Lands pure has failed . We don't want to find a common ground with other groups, because common ground is not tribally exclusive. And most Americans desirous of being in a tribe don't want the responsibilities that tribal membership affords (c.f. - my comment on "Rights vs Responsibilities above). So we just create surrogate and pseudo tribes to support our individual desires, often investing more energy defining what we are against than what we are for - values that promote self gain, not tribal gain.

    Hell, even the notion of "Christianity" in the US is quite tribal. Hartford Seminary offers that there are 217 formal "denominations" in the US. However, viewing American Christianity in purely "denominational" terms gives an inaccurate picture, since the second largest population of non-Roman Catholics in the US are members of one of the 35,000 plus "independent" congregations around the country that choose to have affiliation with no other congregation. 16 Million people who find 217 choices of affiliation insufficient. Try to find a similar manifestation in another "culture".

    (to be continued)

  121. (continued)

    Once upon a time, it was easy to have a tribe. Territorial dominance, and bloodlines are pretty strong adhesives. Today, in the US, the "purity" of our bloodlines has been pretty much reduced to skin color. Sure makes it simple. Territorial dominance is still a bit of a binding agent, but there is nowhere near the homogeneity in the current population of Mississippi as there was in, let's say, the Natchez People who originally populated the area. There are, indeed, some "Godless Liberals" living in MS.

    So, we may be nibbling around the edges in this thread, but at least we are nibbling. But I suggest we reflect a bit on how "emotional" it got when the "MilPub Tribe" stumbled upon a topic that is not universally agreed upon by the tribal members. Run Away! Run Away!

    Are we wrestling with an American culture that is simply frustrated by the inability to form a single tribe, yet clueless as to the responsibilities and conformity that tribes involve? The eminent Canadian historian, Pierre Burton, discussed the down side of tribal behavior using the case of Tecumseh's failed efforts to achieve a lasting confederacy of the Native American tribes to preserve some semblance of sovereign territory for the Native Americans in general. Basically a "United we stand, divided we fall" concept, and the divided Native Americans fell like a ton of bricks.

    From whence does this crap arise? I’m not sure, but there are enough examples of peaceful, inclusive cultures to make one think that mankind is capable of less violence. And, some of those examples were formerly bloodthirsty and aggressive states. One could try to support this inherent violent nature by offering that “Christianity” practiced “conversion by the sword”, “witch hunts” and “The Grand Inquisition”, but that is not universally true, as such was not the case with Eastern Christianity, just Western. Did Rome, and not human nature, eternally corrupt us? Too simplistic.

    Chief: I am not convinced that man is inherently violent. I am convinced that when gathered into groups and cultures, man can amplify and glorify, for self gain, violent means. I am also convinced that a culture can find equally satisfying self gain in pulling together toward a common goal that eschews violence.

    jim and seydlitz. Rest assured I have no a priore desire to arbitrarily and capriciously "take away" anything from you or anyone else. However, I do respect you sufficiently to expect we discuss every topic under the sun on the basis of no "sacred cows", and proceed from there.

  122. Al-

    I think you misunderstand my perspective here. I'm not arguing against gun control, but stating that the current political relations preclude the formation of policies which reflect the "national interest". To use your roof analogy, we no longer own the house where the leak is taking place. It has been taken away from us and is being systematically deconstructed to be replaced by something else, which may bear the label "our house" but will not really belong to us.

    I would support whatever rules were implemented by the state providing there were an actual debate, but that is not going to happen. The two sides are already using this tragedy to rally their supporters and reinforce the status quo, essentially two big "sucker rallies" as they were called back during the Great Depression. This is the perfect issue for this type of bait and switch scam, lots of emotion and lots of "good & evil" hobgoblins to shake your fists at. The GOP will use this to reconsolidate their support among their rubes after the shellacking they took in November. Ditto with the Demos . . . The "tribalism" you mention is being pushed from the top for obvious reasons. Which leads to where exactly?

    Then there's the sociological issue of what drives young men to do this, which jim and I have both attempted to put in focus, but then are painted as being simply "pro-gun" . . . and the discussion moved on . . .

    Finally, when I commented about "a better fix on it than any of you" I was referring to my fellow barkeeps, not the other commentators . . . Paul's comment was the lightening rod to what had been building up since my last comment.

    What I felt concerning this thread was not anger, but more frustration, (that tempered greatly by the fact that it has been a great Christmas for us). Why has it been that I cannot get my ideas across clearly? Why is it that people I respect don't see the severity of our current political dysfunction? Why this ever recurring politics of "faith"? It reminds me of Thucydides and when language loses all meaning due to political dissolution. I had been planning a thread on strategic theory during a period of political dissolution and had been finding difficulty in how to put it together. This thread would be a difficult one to top in that regard, which is a compliment to PF Khans and all who have commented here, but a damning verdict on the state of our political community . . .

  123. eydlitz

    My apologies for not catching your nuances.

    Why this ever recurring politics of "faith"?

    Probably because it is easier for the Great Unwashed to blindly act on "faith" than reason? The scary part about the latter, is that one can "learn" something, and learning is the enemy of ignorance. "Faith" is never wrong, in the eyes of the "believer". Life becomes simpler when you are never wrong.

    I differ from you in the notion that all this is merely "pushed down from the top". Used by the top, perhaps, to further their agenda, but they pander more than lead or inform. The housewife who suddenly discovered that people need semi-auto weapons to be prepared for when "the government goes tyrranical" came to that conclusion by listening to friends speak, not based on something from the top. She said she was, "Willing to consider a ban until she head that", and then changed her mind.

    What we need is a Significant Emotional Event the magnitude of the Great Depression. The majority, probably in fear, suddenly became more socio-centric than ego-centric, even if for selfish reasons. But it takes thought to see the abstract personal benefits in a socio-centric view, and "faith" alone won't accomplish that.

    Ever speak to an "believer" in pre-destination who was convinced he or she wasn't among the chosen? The line between hope and absolute certainty can get very dulled.

    The simple fact is that the general dialog on most serious societal topics in American society is made dysfunctional by "faith", sacred cows, fear and greed, salted with a little touch of surrender by folks who really do know better. Other than that, we are doing fine.

  124. There was another attempted mass murder in China the last day our so. A father whose daughter was killed three years earlier drove a car into a mass of students. Said car was filled with pyrotechnics and a propane tank. About ten injured children and no deaths.

    You guys are missing the point. They have the same problems we do but the difference is easy. Access to military style weapons. The fact that people on this thread (who I respect and have been following since the Intel Dump days) can't see it is really depressing.

    Someone up-thread mentioned that it will be a generational change is correct. For our time, to quote Chief, WASF. But I am just pissing into the wind, sigh.

    I would like to here Publius's take. I miss his thoughts. I guess we can't come to an agreement on this issue at this time. Maybe our children will.

    Hopefully, James.

  125. James,
    I just had a 3day cognitive brain function test done at the Mayo clinic. I rec'd a clear bill of health.
    May i suggest the same for you as you make sweeping non-logical statements that are not realistic or factual, and could be viewed as cognitive disorder.
    Do the chinese have the same problems that we do?
    Are you a cultural anthropologist , or just an expert on US gun problems?
    How do you make such sweeping generalizations as a basis for talking about specific incidents.?
    We in America HAVE ALWAYS had access to military style guns, and to my knowledge this is not a chinese template.
    Was the driver driving a military style vehicle?
    If so then why not restrict cars to using only 2 wheels. That'll cut down on military style car related deaths. That's the only solution that i see as realistic(using your expressed logic)
    How can you equate a dude using a car with US gun violence? There is absolutely no linkage or indication of reality in that thought sequence.
    HOW IN THE HADES can you predict/guess/surmise that the driver would have used a gun if one were available?
    This is pure friggin' speculation based upon your misperceptions of what is reality.
    As for the fact that you are depressed maybe you SHOULD stay away from buying a gun.
    I really think that somebody is missing the point.

    When you anti-gun people talk it's ohhh sooooo logical, but when i express my point it's a rant.
    Exactly what did i say that was a rant?

    To all,
    It's amazing how emotional and crazy the thinking gets when talking about gun violence. Why don't you all focus on the birth rate of minorities and the high deaths for those babies?
    Or what about the folks that die from Doctors mistakes, or the 44,000 folks who died last year from a lack of health insurance?
    Why don't you ask why 17000 of us kill ourselves with guns each year? And why does this happen?
    How many folks are killed by cops every year with gun violence?
    I say again- the hypocrisy level is overwhelming.

  126. Jim and and all and especially PDKhan. Thanks for having a reasoned debate. I think Khan is right that it is too emotional an issue to be dealt with at this time. I think Mike said it above it will be a generational thing. I apologize if I pissed anyone off TOO much!

    Khan, a genuine thanks for having the balls to step up to the plate and broach the subject. Keep posting as you write some exceptional stuff.


  127. http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/12/29/on-being-safe-with-guns/#more-122657


  128. James.
    I just find it strange that you talk about China and compare it to the US of A.
    Are you suggesting that we should emulate their society and be authoritarian?
    Do you realize that 35000 Americans were killed in the Korean war opposing their communism and all related philosophy?
    And now you seem to think they are better than us b/c they don't have weapons in civilian hands.?! Or so i understand from your cmts.
    Samo the Nazi's. Should we adopt Hitlers gun control laws? They didn't have any school shootings in the fatherland but the ghettoes sure were unsafe for jewish kids.
    Yeah , i know -we ain't Nazis. I remind myself of this every time i read of renditions , torture, presidentially mandated asasinations,secret prisons,endless open ended wars,preemptive invasions and secret intel budgets ans black/covert opns. etc.
    Have you read about the 175 men wrongly convicted in Fed courts in NC based upon faulty gun control laws, or the interpretation there of by federal judges?
    Gun laws create new classes of criminals with a simple stroke of a pen. Laws often based on faulty premise and authoritarian principles. For example-when a gun felon serves his time out completely why are his/her rights not restored automatically? No pun intended.
    Now ain't that America???
    Yes , i share your praise of PFK.
    Happy new year.

  129. Seydlitz,

    I agree with your description of the political problem, though I would put it a bit differently. Most people do not have the time or inclination to learn about most issues (I'm being charitable here), so their answers on a range of empirical questions are determined by their political identity, which, in turn, is often determined by partisan affiliation. So I think most people do not sense the incoherence of the two party ideologies, nor the more subtle issues you've described at length. The elites who control the narratives are increasingly detached from reality, and so I keep hoping that more people will realize the ideological contradictions they've bought into do not make much sense, but there remains little evidence of that so far....

    The result is how you describe it - the "debate" is divided into two ideological camps which reinforce the existing narratives and those not firmly with their camp are berated "enemies" about which almost any bad thing can be assumed or said. This is a state of affairs I am very familiar with since I sit on the outside and am, at best, a heretic.

    And nothing is any different with regard to guns, except the passions are more intense and the accusations and vitriol slip off the tongue with ease and little regret. Holistic examination of the issues are most unwelcome.

    I had great hopes for the internet as a vehicle for exchanging ideas and engaging in a global "conversation" to facilitate understanding. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, things have not turned out that way and most of it is just a more convenient method for confirmation bias.

    At least there is Milpub and a handful of other places, so perhaps there is yet some hope....

  130. Andy-

    Hopefully, there is always hope. The ideological obsessions that drive all too many (either side of the aisle) has our society basically constipated on many key issues, from the role of government, to addressing violence in our society.

    One of my mentors said that the most important words in the maturation process, are "I didn't know that", as it is a sign of learning. Another mentor said that if someone claims absolute knowledge, it usually means he's too stupid or arrogant to learn. Both of those bits of wisdom give a clear insight into the morass into which our society is falling ever deeper. It is as if an open mind is a sign of weakness.

  131. Hey Jim, I have lived in Taiwan for more than twenty years and can speak some Chinese. So I think I have a legitimate grasp of things regarding China, especially vis-a-vis the Taiwan issue. I have also travelled through China on more than one occasion but I am especially drawn to Tibet and so have seen first hand their ruthless repression of dissent. No I don't think China is better than the USA but they certainly do some things better than us. Talking to normal Chinese people they are very much like us, both good and bad.

    My old man was a fighter pilot in Alaska (I think he flew the f-86 saber) during the Korean War so am aware of that conflict. One of his better stories was flying copilot for George Gay for TWA and meeting Joe Foss but that was another conflict!


  132. James,
    OK i concede your point EXCEPT there is not a relevant correlation to what happens in China that would affect our gun right discussion.
    By widening the discussion we just make it less digestible, and it's bad enuf just discussing the US aspects of the problem
    After 134 cmts the only thing resolved is that we all agree that we have a problem. That's the first step-let's define the problem.
    Also we at milpub must be different as Seydlitz points out. We must keep the dialogue alive and i for one am happy that we all don't agree. If we did then why bother at all?
    Best to you grass hopper.

  133. James,
    After considering our exchange i wrote todays post.
    We can't even agree if we have a problem let alone a possible solution.

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