Commentary — July 20, 2012, 7:30 pm

The Price of Gun Control

Dan Baum is the author of Gun Guys: A Road Trip, which will be published by Knopf in March. He wrote “Happiness Is a Worn Gun: My concealed weapon and me” for the August 2010 issue of Harper’s Magazine. He blogs at Our Gun Thing.

When you write about guns, as I do, and a shooting like the one in the Aurora movie theater happens an hour from your house, people call. I’ve already done an interview today with a Spanish newspaper and with Canadian radio. Americans and their guns: what a bunch of lunatics.

Among the many ways America differs from other countries when it comes to guns is that when a mass shooting happens in the United States, it’s a gun story. How an obviously sick man could buy a gun; how terrible it is that guns are abundant; how we must ban particular types of guns that are especially dangerous. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence responded to the news with a gun-control petition. Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times has weighed in with an online column saying that “Politicians are far too cowardly to address gun violence . . . which keeps us from taking practical measures to avoid senseless shootings.”

Compare that to the coverage and conversation after Anders Behring Breivik murdered sixty-nine people on the island of Utøya in Norway, a year ago next Sunday. Nobody focused on the gun. I had a hard time learning from the news reports what type of gun he used. Nobody asked, “How did he get a gun?” That seemed strange, because it’s much harder to get a gun in Europe than it is here. But everybody, even the American media, seemed to understand that the heart of the Utøya massacre story was a tragically deranged man, not the rifle he fired. Instead of wringing their hands over the gun Breivik used, Norwegians saw the tragedy as the opening to a conversation about the rise of right-wing extremism in their country.

Rosenthal is wrong, by the way, that politicians haven’t addressed gun violence. They have done so brilliantly, in a million different ways, which helps explain why the rate of violent crime is about half what it was twenty years ago. They simply haven’t used gun control to do it. Gun laws are far looser than they were twenty years ago, even while crime is plunging—a galling juxtaposition for those who place their faith in tougher gun laws. The drop in violence is one of our few unalloyed public-policy success stories, though perhaps not for those who bemoan an “epidemic of gun violence” that doesn’t exist anymore in order to make a political point.

It’s true that America’s rate of violent crime remains higher than that in most European countries. But to focus on guns is to dodge a painful truth. America is more violent than other countries because Americans are more violent than other people. Our abundant guns surely make assaults more deadly. But by obsessing over inanimate pieces of metal, we avoid looking at what brings us more often than others to commit violent acts. Many liberal critics understand this when it comes to drug policy. The modern, sophisticated position is that demonizing chemicals is a reductive and ineffective way to address complicated social pathologies. When it comes to gun violence, though, the conversation often stops at the tool, because it is more comfortable to blame it than to examine ourselves.

The temptation at times like these is to “do something” about guns. Australia and Britain passed tougher gun laws after mass shootings, and haven’t suffered another since. I would respectfully submit that Australia and Britain are full of Australians and Britons, not Americans. Moreover, neither country is home to an estimated 180 million privately owned guns, as ours is. Guns last forever. The one with which I hunt was made in 1900 and functions as well today as it did then. If tomorrow President Obama signed the ultimate gun-control law—a total ban on the sale, manufacture, and import of guns—we would still be awash in firearms for generations to come. Madmen like the murderer in Aurora would find a way to kill. Witness Timothy McVeigh.

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control—no friend of the gun lobby—evaluated fifty-one studies on everything from the effectiveness of gun bans to laws requiring gun locks, and found no discernible effect on public safety by any of the measures we commonly think of as “gun control.” Two years later, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine did a similar survey and came to much the same conclusion.

Gun-control advocates have their own studies and statistics, of course, and off we go down the rabbit hole, shouting at one another about the benefits of gun control. But let me add a parallel concern: What about the costs? Why should gun control be exempt from a cost-benefit analysis? Gun-control advocates brush away evidence of gun laws’ dubious value with the argument that if even one life could be saved, it’s worth trying. What’s the harm?

The harm is that 40 percent of Americans own guns, and like it or not, they identify with them, personally. Guns stand in for a whole range of values—individualism, strength, American exceptionalism—that many gun owners hold dear. Tell a gun owner that he cannot be trusted to own a firearm—particularly if you are an urban pundit with no experience around guns—and what he hears is an insult. Add to this that the bulk of the gun-buying public is made up of middle-aged white men with less than a college degree, and now you’re insulting a population already rubbed raw by decades of stagnant wages.

The harm we’ve done by messing with law-abiding Americans’ guns is significant. In 2010, I drove 11,000 miles around the United States talking to gun guys (for a book, to be published in the spring, that grew out of an article I wrote for this magazine), and I met many working guys, including plumbers, parks workers, nurses—natural Democrats in any other age—who wouldn’t listen to anything the Democratic party has to say because of its institutional hostility to guns. I’d argue that we’ve sacrificed generations of progress on health care, women’s and workers’ rights, and climate change by reflexively returning, at times like these, to an ill-informed call to ban firearms, and we haven’t gotten anything tangible in return. Aside from what it does to the progressive agenda, needlessly vilifying guns—and by extension, their owners—adds to the rancor that has us so politically frozen and culturally inflamed. Enough.

President Obama, to his credit, didn’t mention gun control in his comments today. Maybe that was just a political calculation; maybe, during an election year, he didn’t want to reopen a fight that has hurt his party so dearly in the past. But maybe it’s a hint of progress, a sign that we’re moving toward a more honest examination of who we are. ?

A reader responds:

This piece seriously mischaracterizes two scientific studies in its criticism of liberal attempts to restrict certain types of gun ownership. Baum writes, “In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control—no friend of the gun lobby—evaluated fifty-one studies on everything from the effectiveness of gun bans to laws requiring gun locks, and found no discernible effect on public safety by any of the measures we commonly think of as ‘gun control.’ Two years later, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine did a similar survey and came to much the same conclusion.”

If one clicks through to read the hyperlinked studies to which Baum refers, one finds that the CDC study concludes, “The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes. (Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.)” Similarly, the linked AJPM article abstract states, “Based on identified studies reviewed in this report, the evidence is insufficient to determine whether the United States firearms laws affect violence. It is concluded that evidence for the effectiveness of a given firearms law on an outcome is insufficient. It is not implied that the law has no effect; rather, it is not yet known what effect, if any, the law has on that outcome. Additional research is recommended on how laws might affect firearm-related injury and death in the United States.”

In other words, both of the studies advanced by Baum as evidence that gun-control laws are ineffective conclude nothing of the sort; rather, they conclude that not enough evidence exists to make any conclusion at all.

Nat Crosman
Portland, Ore.

Dan Baum responds:

If fifty-one studies have been done to determine whether gun-control measures have an effect on public safety, and there’s no evidence to draw any conclusion at all, what does that tell you? And what does the CDC mean by, “Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.” Why shouldn’t it? To me, it’s always sounded like the CDC can’t bring itself to say the obvious: That if evidence existed that gun control measures save lives, we’d see it. And we don’t. And this conclusion is corroborated by the stunning drop in crime during the past two decades, when gun laws have only grown looser.

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More from Dan Baum:

From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

The gun Congress can’t ban

Perspective May 17, 2013, 9:00 am

On Gun Control and the Great American Debate Over Individualism

The firearm as emblem of personal sovereignty

From the August 2010 issue

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

My concealed weapon and me

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Harper’s for only $45.99

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  • gking

    Regarding Baum’s reply: Clearly not one versed in the art of scientific argument. I advise that you take a beginners course on logic.

  • dryu

    Dan, your response to the comment misses the entire point of the commenter. The CDC perhaps worded their conclusion poorly, but the adjective “ineffective” applies to the gun control law studies, not the gun control laws themselves. Their answer to the question “are gun control laws effective?” is “we can’t tell, somebody should do a better study.” You cannot logically extrapolate the inadequacies of the studies to the laws and reforms themselves.

    • yup

      I disagree.

      The wording of the CDC indicates a lack of statistical evidence to prove the thesis statement, that gun control saves lives.

      As with any study on any subject nothing is ever *proven*, they simply have percentages of confidence that something may or may not be true based on a given mathmatical test, such as linear regression analysis.

      In short, to suggest that the evidence of 55 studies shows no effect in either direction of gun control is very (!!!) supportive of the conclusion that gun control has no effect on crime / murder rates.

      A similar study by Langman in Canada showed the same results for our country. It too was a study of all the other studies.

  • Rhett Rothberg

    I dont think anyone is arguing to “take all the guns away”. That is shifting the argument. Why do people need semi-automatic guns or guns with large magazines? If people want to own a simple handgun for self defense, fine. But beyond that, what is the purpose?

    Further the argument that guns have already infiltrated the country is just simply throwing your hands up and giving in. Granted, it may take time, but what are we to do in the face of recent shooting events, nothing? That’s madness…

    • Bill

      Beyond a simple handgun the purpose has always been understood to help you defend yourself against an ever aggressive and despotic Government. It is what it is.

      • Rhett Rothberg

        Ummmm….ok. So when was the last time the populace rose up with their handguns and rifles and overthrew a tyrant? This is 2012. The government has cruise missiles, aircraft carriers and jet fighters. So this argument doesnt hold any longer. Let’s advance….

        • Ungreen

          Then try and chage the constitution, Article 5. Until then, follow it!

        • Dilt

          For someone who complains of “shifting the argument” you have managed to drag this one pretty far off center, but what the hell.. I’ll play. If you spend a couple of hours studying the US Marines 2004 offensive in Fallujah Iraq, you will begin to understand just how difficult it is for the best equipped military in the world to go house to house through a city of determined armed combatants. All the jet fighters, cruise missiles and aircraft carriers in the world are of absolutely no use. Casualties in this type of combat are extremely high, and progress is painfully slow.

          Now back to reality. We have we been trying to legislate human behavior ever since pen was first put to paper. Generally, most people respect and follow laws that make sense to them, and take their chances of getting caught and punished while they disregard laws that they don’t agree with. For proof of this, look no further than your morning commute. people exceeding the speed limit, cell phones to their ears driving erratically, driving impaired by drugs or alcohol, expired tags, etc. They park in red zones and handicap spaces. They justify these acts to themselves as victimless crimes. Sometimes they are, other times innocent people die. You cannot legislate human behavior. If we could, a lot of time and aggravation could be saved boarding aircraft.

          Enter the stone cold criminal. Unlike the folks above, they just don’t give a damn about laws. They do what they want when they want, consequences be damned. They kill people with no remorse. This is who we are wasting our time on, useless law after law that will be disregarded without a second thought. And the body count continues to rise.

          When talk turns to ideas of responsible armed citizens mitigating the amount of damage these nut jobs can do, the usual suspects spin up with everything but a solution to the problem. Can’t really blame them, they are afraid, and fear makes people irrational. They have semi-autos! they have bullet proof vests! No civilian has a chance at stopping them! You want more guns! Are you crazy!

          What you don’t understand is that unless you live in one of a very few locations, you are interacting on a daily basis with law abiding citizens who are carrying concealed weapons. And like it or not, you are safer because of it. These people are nothing like what you imagine that they would be. They are not gun crazed lunatics that are itching to pull their weapons and shoot somebody. They are not wishing and hoping for someone to “make their day”.

          They are tactically smart people who know what their weapons are capable of, and more importantly, what they themselves are and aren’t capable of. They hope that they will never have to use their weapon to shoot another person, but they have trained and studied so that they are prepared to do so as safely as possible should the need arise, much like you have trained your family what to do if there is a fire in your home.

          They understand that should they have to use their weapon, best case they will probably be detained and questioned, and may be arrested and held until the facts are sorted out. They will probably be sued by the criminal they were defending against if said criminal survives, or their family if not. At worst, they or a bystander may be injured or killed.

          They are already all around you, and yet the world has not come to an end.

    • Dilt

      Why would someone want to put themselves in the position of using a inferior weapon to defend themselves against a criminal with a a semiautomatic weapon with a large magazine. Until you can get the criminals to give up their semi-autos and large magazines, I will be keeping mine.

      • Rhett Rothberg

        What is this scenario where you have your semi-auto assault rifle at the ready to counter a “criminal” with theirs?

        • Dilt

          For most likely home defense scenarios, the weapon used would be a semi-auto pistol. California law limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds with the exception of firearms and mags purchase pre-ban. I have a few Pre-ban pieces with mags with capacities from 15 to 17 rounds. Common sense provides that in a fight for your life, pausing to reload is a disadvantage. Therefore, the firearms with higher capacity mags are my choice, Why tempt fate?

          As for discussing how my weapons are readily available to me, not going to happen on a public forum but you can be assured that they are.

          There was a national ban on magazines with capacities in excess of ten for many years. It has expired but several states still have their own bans. Statistically, the federal ban did not make a difference while it was in place. Statistically, Locales with the most restrictive firearms laws experience higher crime rates. Criminals do not give a rats ass about firearms laws.

          Unfortunately, you cannot prevent a crazed person from attempting to do people harm by putting ink on paper, no matter how many laws you want to pass, particularly someone who is suicidal and feels they have nothing to lose. We can however, do a better job of mitigating the damage that they can do. I don’t think arming teachers is the answer, but I think it is worth thinking about armed personnel on site. Think something along the lines of “air marshal” but for schools rather than aircraft.

          • Cat Ishmael

            Unless you are defending a home filled with a cache of valuable illegal drugs, I doubt that the most likely scenario involves a running gun battle in which you are forced to reload your puny ten-round clips. In the real world, most home defense involves no shots fired, and is probably best accomplished with a shotgun (which is also less likely to be used by you or a family member to commit suicide — by far the most common way people are shot with guns in this country).

          • Dilt

            It’s clear you have neither training or experience in the subject of home defense. The single largest advantage you have in your own home is that it is your home turf. If you have done your homework, you know exactly where the best locations are for cover and concealment. Employing a pistol allows you to fire from behind cover while exposing as little of yourself as possible. Using a shotgun or other long barreled firearm requires that you expose much more of yourself, making you a bigger target. A sawed off shotgun would be ideal, but of course that would be illegal. Someone marching down the hallways dispatching assailants with a pump shotgun makes great movie footage, but has little to do with reality.

            Please cite your source for your claim of most home defense ending with no shots fired. While true that many situations end with less than 10 rounds being fired, I prefer not to bet my life or the lives of my family on it. I won’t address your claim regarding suicide statistics as I do not know what the correct data is. Considering your other claims, it’s pretty clear you don’t either.

          • Seamus Gibson

            No reply, only crickets.

          • TC_LeatherPenguin

            What city/state do you live in?

          • AKMaineIac

            Why in the hell would a shotgun be less likely to be used by someone to commit suicide if that’s all there was in the house for a gun? Where do you people come from?

    • slideguy

      “I dont think anyone is arguing to “take all the guns away”. That is shifting the argument.”

      Actually, they’re all over Facebook at the moment.

      • Rhett Rothberg

        Talking about serious people who can form coherent arguments….

        • Seamus Gibson

          Unfortunately, the knee-jerk libs crying for gun bans are incoherent, yet they wield much power.

    • Heyseed

      No one is arguing to “take all guns away” because they’ve figured out that’s a political loser, at least for now. In the past, the Brady Campaign has tended to advertise whatever ‘common sense’ gun laws they were boosting as ‘a first step’. I’m sure there are still people at the Brady Campaign who will want to view ‘common sense’ gun laws as just a beginning.

    • kartashok

      It’s AMERICA! It’s not about what you need, it’s about what you want. Stop being a socialist.

  • Edgeworld

    Thanks to the recent shooting, the volume of the call to arms is much louder than before.

    What about those of us who do not want to carry weapons?

    There are whole galaxies of reasons that people do not want to carry weapons. Not least among them are the plethora of duties and competencies demanded by carrying loaded firearms in public. As obvious as it may be to the cognicenti, it is not just about being able to point and pull a trigger.

    The assumption that every legally-armed individual is going to react protectively or defensively toward others (or even themselves) is totally unfounded. Nevertheless, that assumption instantly shifts the focus of responsibility for tragedy away from the perpetrator and onto the armed citizen. And at least as much as they might be lauded for their success, they will be vilified for their failure.

    Let’s pretend for a moment that there was a fully strapped teacher right there at Sandy Hook. S/he spent a lot of time getting equipped, certified and vetted by local LEOs. Regularly practiced; punching holes in paper, plinking and so on. Yet, let’s imagine that when the crunch came and the bullets were flying, s/he could never find the right moment to return fire, and then suddenly

    • Seamus Gibson

      There are many cases of violent crime being averted due to the actions
      of armed citizens and out of these, a very low percentage end in actual
      bloodshed, most commonly simply brandishing or firing a warning shot is
      enough. I searched and found an article on a research project that even
      strong gun-control advocates were forced to admit showed evidence to
      support these facts. This is only one of many, many verifiable sources
      of such data. Of course not every such situation ends well and I’m sure
      cases where a citizen with a gun made things worse are also documented,
      but in far fewer instances. If one considers facts and figures
      objectively, arguments for stricter gun control are thin. Since no one
      can wave a magic wand and make all guns disappear, how is dis-arming the
      law-abiding citizenry helpful? It does nothing to solve the underlying
      social issues that are the reasons there are so many horrible acts
      committed. Do they believe if guns were banned that the criminals would
      show up and turn theirs in? That’s delusional. The cities with the strictest gun laws have some of the highet levels of violent crime.

      It seems often in
      discussing these issues there’s often an impasse. I would submit
      scientifically gathered statistical facts and invite opposing views to
      do the same. Here’s a link to the first item I clicked when I searched.

      • Cat Ishmael

        Actually I believe the U.S. city with the (possibly) strictest and most punitive gun laws is NYC — and it has the lowest violent crime rate of any large city in the country!

        • Dilt

          California has some of the strictest firearms laws in the country, yet had the most gun murders (1257) in 2010. New York’s gun laws are almost as strict as California’s but contrary to your claim, New York was third in gun murders right behind CA and Texas.

          In terms of percentages, DC was the murder capitol of the US in 2010 with 16 gun murders per 100,000 people. It was also number one in firearms robberies with 256 per 100,000 people. Yet DC has tighter restrictions on firearms than even California!

          The most interesting statistic however is while FBI background checks for guns increased by 30 percent in 2009 over the previous year, and actual firearms sales were up 40%, Firearms murders in 2010 decreased by 14%. . All this well after the national assault weapon / large magazine ban was allowed to expire. Though many will try, it is hard to dismiss numbers like this.

          Dirtbags think twice about messing with people who may be armed. You need look no further than Vermont, where citizens may carry concealed with no other qualification than being a legal firearm owner for proof of this. They also enjoy one of the lowest firearms crime rates in the US.

          • Mike Albert

            Strange. 18 days and still nothing from the peanut gallery? Truth never stopped them before…

        • Seamus Gibson

          The cities with the strictest gun laws have higher incidences of violence by nature of the fact that the law-abiding members of society are the only ones who end up dis-armed. Do you think the criminals care about gun laws?

  • Dilt

    “Gun laws are far looser than they were twenty years ago”

    I have a hard time believing this. Twenty years ago we did not have Prohibited schools zones, waiting periods for rifles and shotguns, and many other restrictions that are currently in place. Another thing no one talks about is the proliferation of firearms ownership that just the talk of further restrictions results in. The Clinton administrations assault weapons ban, Obama’s first term, and now his second term. Firearms manufacturers are running flat out 24 hours and cannot supply enough product to fill the distribution channel. Ruger has a six month backlog.

    Knee jerk reactions lead to feel good – do nothing legislation that does nothing but push firearm sales into overdrive! Until we find a way to get at the cause of these tragedies and stop wasting time and effort on trying to disarm law abiding citizens, it will be more of the same!

  • ptullis

    Baum here employ a favorite rhetorical strategy of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal: mischaracterize your opponent’s position in order to take it apart. Nobody’s talking about gun prohibition or taking away law-abiding, mentally stable, lower middle class white men’s guns. The idea is to make it more difficult to get a gun than to adopt a pet or get a driver’s license, and to limit or remove the ability of people to acquire military grade weaponry and ammunition such as those that allowed Lanza apparently to fire as rapidly as witnesses have described in news reports.
    Baum’s political argument is vapid. This is literally a matter of life and death, and he’s talking about winning elections? He sounds like Karl Rove. By his logic, we should allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons if it means they’ll help us pass a resolution to get rid of Assad. Some things are actually worth fighting for– isn’t that the lesson of progressivism from Tom Paine to MLK?
    As for what we’ve sacrificed in terms of other progressive agendas, tough shit. No amount of women’s or workers rights can make up for the tens of thousands of corpses that are piling up across the country.
    No big magazines. No exploding bullets. No assault weapons. Tax all guns highly with the proceeds to mandatory gun safety and education programs. Jail terms for people who don’t lock their guns. And certification from a psychologist as well as criminal background checks

    • roland linn

      It is relatively difficult to get a gun in Mexico and if you can it will not be “military grade” still, shootings are pretty common there. Americans are obsessed with violence, sadly, no amount of gun control will fix that. Hate speech, if allowed to ferment is dangerous as well, it could be argued that most terrorist attacks are predicated on hate speech, should we control free speech as well?

      • MD

        McVeigh killed more in one event than any of these shooters on US soil and didn’t fire a shot.

    • GGAllen

      Before writing about what you would like gun laws to be, you should at least educate yourself about basic firearm construction/mechanics as well as what ammunition can and can’t do.

      “High capacity” magazines- a handfull of restricted capacity magazines is no less lethal than a couple of standard capacity magazines.

      “exploding bullets”- exploding bullets simply do not exist outside of video games, at least not in the context implied above.

      “assault weapons”- Assualt weapons were, and continue to be banned in all states since 1986. “Assault weapons” that are available to civilians after 1986 are not actually assault weapons, but branded as such by looks alone. They DO NOT function as an assault weapon.

      I’m willing to discuss gun laws but you’ll have to get your facts straight first.

      • ptullis

        Fair enough. I was writing quickly and I don’t know the lingo. But I read something that the bullets Lanza used were particularly lethal, designed to do damage after impact. “Exploding” was shorthand.

        The fewer bullets in a magazine, the more frequently the gun needs to be reloaded, right? Hence you can’t shoot as many bullets with them in the same amount of time.

        The ban enacted in 1994 on 18 specific semiautomatic weapons, as well as “military-type features,” expired in 2004, according to the Washington Post.

        Thanks for being civil,

        • Ggallen

          You’re correct, it does take additional time to switch magazines but we are talking a few seconds at most, even for a novice. Certainly not enough time to close the distance on someone to attempt a disarm or seek cover/flee. In a practical sense, restricted magazines are no less lethal.

          The “military type features” pointed out in the link you provided are all cosmetic features. The direction outlined to define an assualt weapon in the 1994 ban was to use visual cues to do so. i.e, it needs only to look like an assault rifle to make the list. If we are to have a discussion about banning certain weapons, wouldn’t you agree the lethality of the weapon should be the gauge?

          I believe that piece of legislation to be nothing more than a “feel good” bill for the anti gun groups as it was poorly written and missed the intent altogether. I fear whatever Feinstein introduces in January will be much of the same.

          Short of a complete ban on all firearms, what’s the solution? Should the focus be on the madman or his current weapon of choice?

          • MD

            Additionally, using smaller capacity magazines may actually be more beneficial in delivering a mass shooting. They do not overheat as quickly and thereby may not cause “jams” as frequently. Really, the only benefit to the larger capacity magazine is when someone is shooting BACK at you, because you can’t afford to stop and reload. We’ve seen in some of these shootings, witness descriptions of the shooter casually walking and reloading, etc. Not so easy to do when an armed school resource officer is firing on you.

      • Hank

        Can you define an “assault weapon”?

        • GGAllen

          Sure. Singularly, a select fire option (full auto/3rd burst) needs to be present to be a “real” assault weapon. There are tight Federal regulations regarding these types of weapons already in place. No need to add to it.

          Anti-gun groups use it to describe modern sporting rifles because it sounds more dangerous.

    • mountainaires

      Apparently, you haven’t read Feinstein’s new bill. Well, you should. Because it makes every gun fit the definition of an “assault weapon” including hand guns; and it makes every gun owner subject to government restrictions on their right to own a gun. Every gun owner will be considered criminal until proven innocent. Every gun owner will be listed on a government “registration” thus subject to government limits, intrusions, confiscations, or liabilities. It’s the definition of tyranny, and it’s brazenly unconstitutional. The Senate says they have the votes to pass it; Obama says he supports it. If such a bill is ever signed into law, the Constitution is effectively erased, because it isn’t just 2nd amendment rights that are torched; it’s 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and more with Feinstein’s bill. Shame on any American who thinks they can protect themselves ever again–whether in court against false accusations, or in their own homes from brutal criminal assaults–if these neo-authoritarians pass this bill.

    • Heyseed

      “Nobody’s talking about gun prohibition or taking away law-abiding, mentally stable lower middle class white men’s guns”

      I think you’d better do some research as to what sort of laws various gun control activists and supporters have called for over the years before you make broad statements about what “nobody” is talking about.

  • Yoda

    “America is more violent than other countries because Americans are more violent than other people.” Wait, what ?

    I’m not an American and I feel sorry for you guys. The number of excuses I’ve read these days advocating against gun control are just sad.

    First off, the argument that if it wasn’t a gun it could have been a knife is totally absurd. Not only is it impossible to inflict so much damage with a knife – you can’t even compare the lethality of the two. More importantly, could anyone even imagine having a “mass stabbing” instead of mass shooting ? I assure you, firing a gun is a crucial part in these events.

    The comparison with drug or alcohol prohibition. But, alcohol and drugs induce a certain euphoria when consumed. So even when you ban them, people will seek to buy them. In the case of guns, people will say they can be just as pleasurable and addictive. But you’re ignoring the fact that this can change, with the right kind of eductaion. Instead, the opposite is happening: Adults are passing on to their kids their own fixation with guns.

    The “constitutional right to bear arms”. How many tyrrants have been overthrown lately by armed civilians? How much damage could they inflict on the largest military power of the world? And who said you can’t overthrow a regime peacfully?

    The “right to self defence”: If a burglar breaks into your house, you need a gun to protect yourself. Which basically just makes the problem worse. Because next time, the burglar comes carrying an even bigger gun.

    The essence of the matter is this: Americans just love guns. The article states it: “40 percent of Americans own guns, and like it or not, they identify with them, personally. Guns stand in for a whole range of values.”

    It has nothing to do with the constitution, or the cost of withdrawing them.

    And if you think of it, it’s just really silly, and sad. And tragic for all the lives that have been lost. I wish for a more enlighted and civilized future, and I hope you do the same.

    • RationalThought

      “First off, the argument that if it wasn’t a gun it could have been a
      knife is totally absurd. Not only is it impossible to inflict so much
      damage with a knife – you can’t even compare the lethality of the two.
      More importantly, could anyone even imagine having a “mass stabbing”
      instead of mass shooting ?”

      What you say is “impossible” has happened, more than once.–2012)

      • Yoda

        Right. So in one attack in China you have 8 dead, vs. 26 in the US. In fact, the total victims in China from 2010 are less than a single incident in the US. Why do you think that is ? Maybe something to do with the fact that the perpetrator was using a gun, instead of knives.

        You are right, though. There’s been a larger number of school attacks in China than the US, between 2000 and today. But the average number of people killed per attack in China is 3, vs 10 in the US.

        Guns do kill.

        China: 17 attacks, no guns. 50 Dead
        U.S.: 8 attacks, with guns. 87 Dead

        Not counting other mass shootings of course.


        • RationalThought

          Happy Holidays,

          So what can the U.S. do about easy access to firearms? How about a mandatory Federal background check and a mandatory psychiatric test, like the ones some employers use on prospective employees and requiring all firearms to be stored in a safe? A psyc test might of prevented the Colorado and Virginia Tech shooter from buying their guns but it wouldn’t of stopped the latest incident.

          This latest shooting happened in a state that already has an assault weapons ban, so I do not think banning semi-automatic firearms will do anything, he could of easily used a lever action .22 caliber rifle.

          We could try and ban hi capacity mags and limit them to 10 rounds but it only takes a second to change magazines and someone could just carry ten 10 round magazines. There is no easy solution to this problem, even banning all guns would not be an easy solution.

          I agree with you that we should strive for an enlighted and civilized future, sadly though, we are nowhere near that point.

          Any suggestions?

          • Yoda

            Merry Christmas.
            You are right, regulating won’t be that easy. It’s a start though. But the most important “measure” would be to start educating people against the use of guns, imo. That’s where the battle lies. When you’ve persuaded people that guns have no place in your society, things will get much easier.

            I’ve heard many people say that even if you were to ban the sale of guns altogether, the current arsenal could still last you another century. It’s probably true. But again, once people start realizing the harm they’re causing and develop an attitude against their use, you ‘ve won the battle. You could eventually organize a voluntary handing or exchange of arms with authorities, in this case.

            Of course, any initiative for the restriction of guns will take courage as people seem to rely too much on them for “self-defence”. They will have to find the courage to be at risk in the short run, because it’s the right thing to do. Escalation is not a solution. In time, even criminals won’t rely as much on them as they do now.

            As you said, this won’t be easy. I would start by educating children. It might take a generation, but things will gradually get better if you start now. In the meantime, I’d rely on regulation. It’s not a solution (it’s funny because the NRA points this out and they are often right), but it can make some difference. One less unstable person with a gun can make a difference. One less bullett can, too.

          • Terpy

            While I like what you’re saying, I don’t think guns are going anywhere anytime soon. For one, there are far too many people that have them for more than self defense. Hunting for example, that is something that is passed down through generations here. In those cases, there are fathers that just can’t wait for their sons to reach an age where they can share that father son experience in nature. Some of us like the sport of it. I don’t go to the range to practice self defense, I go for the sport of it. I liken it to a person that likes to play darts. It’s the challenge of hitting exactly what you were aiming for, at long distance.

            Besides that, unless you can do away with all violence in general, not just guns, there will always be a subset of the population that is at a distinct disadvantage. If guns were to fade from existence, imagine a woman walking down the street and being confronted by a man with a bat. Even if she had a bat too, what chance does she have to defend herself?

          • Yoda

            I understand that hunting is a sport wich a lot of people enjoy. It’s not my thing personally, and I can think of many other things one can do with his kids in nature. But people should accept that familiarizing anyone with a gun poses some kind of danger. To me it’s unnecessary, others might think it’s worth it, I get that. But still, I would think twice about passing it on to my kids. I mean, why? You can enjoy hunting for as long as you live, and your kids can find other ways to have fun, I’m sure. If such an attitude was adopted, it would be good for future generations.

            That being said, limiting gun sales to hunting rifles is reasonable, I think. That would take out handguns and assault rifles. The important thing here would be for people to understand that you can use a gun to shoot animals for sport, but it’s not ok to shoot other people.

            The difficulty with gun control is that it’s a slippery slope. People start by saying that they need guns because they want to enjoy their sport. Once you’re there you start thinking, why not being able to own a handgun for self-defence? What if someone breaks into your house? And then, why not a bigger gun ?

            If you guys accept that there is a gun problem at this point, then you have to think hard about making choices that might not make a lot of sense right now. But you just have to draw a line somewhere. Limit guns to hunting if you must, but forget about other uses. The important thing is to draw the line and urgently disarm. Or you’ll be at constant risk of similar tragedies. This is just the hard truth.

            Unless of course you want to end up having armed teachers at schools, which is just sad. Not to mention, it doesn’t solve the problem.

          • Heyseed

            Why do you feel that preaching against gun ownership will be more effective than preaching against violence? Almost no one is in favor of violence, but what you’re proposing is expanding the culture war already ongoing.

          • Yoda

            I’m not sure I get your comment about expanding the culture war.

            But anyway the reason is simple. Let me just state it in a seperate paragraph:

            It’s because guns should be easier to give up than violence altogether.

            Violence is a basic ingredient of human behavior. Hell, it’s a basic ingredient of any kind of behavior, even for animals. So it’s hard to fight against. Of course there are ways to educate, and heal. But it’s really hard and it takes time.

            On the other hand, we have guns. They can multiply the damage and create serious harm. And they can enforce violent behaviour, by the way. Other countries, at least the most developed ones, have given up guns. It just makes more sense. They proove that it can be done. People don’t suffer there because they don’t have guns, I assure you. Having guns is just a cultural “need”, so it can be given up.

            So, you can fight violence, and you should, but it will take years for some improvement. Meantime, by giving up guns, which should be much easier, you can drastically reduce fatalities – that’s deaths – to say 60 – 70% eventually.

            Another way to put it:

            Ultimately giving up guns reduces impact of violent crimes by a much larger percentage with much less effort, than fighting violence.

            Sounds like it’s worth it to me.

          • AKMaineIac

            I was going to try to have a discussion with you. But you’re well past the point where discussion will help. The right to keep and bear arms does not depend upon the second amendment. The second amendment depends upon the right to keep and bear arms. The US Supreme Court has ruled on this a couple times. If the second amendment were repealed, the right would remain intact and inviolable.

            You’re another Eric Holder, or you watched his video and latched onto it as an original thought. Millions of people in the US own firearms, and threaten or kill nobody. Go after criminals and their firearms, and leave us to heck alone. Because nobody is buying your crap this week or ever, about guns having “no place in (our) society”. The only thing you know of our society is what you watch on the news and read in a book. And you only look at what you wish to know.

            If there is going to be violence, I want a gun. I’ve worked as a law enforcement officer and been around guns most of my life. Your opinions are baseless about human nature, violence, and firearms. How come no more roaming bands of brigands and rapists, pillaging and raiding? Why no more “might is right”? Guns, the shortest answer. They make the small in stature as mighty as the biggest man. The weakest in strength the equal to the strongest.

            It’s going to take more than you and Eric “Brainwash the American people against guns” Holder to pull this off, because nobody believes you, now or ever.

          • Yoda

            I’m “well past the point where discussion will help”, seriously ? LOL. In case you haven’t noticed, I am the one trying to help you, not the other way around. You are the ones having the massacres, remember ?

            I’ve already stated my arguments, so unless you want to counter argue something in particular, I won’t be bothered to have a conversation with you either. I have no idea who Eric Holder is.

            I just have one question for you. In other countries, where gun ownership is limited or prohibited altogether, why are there no “roaming bands of brigands and rapists” roaming the streets, as you seem to imagine ?

          • AKMaineIac

            You’re no help to anybody with your overly simplistic and scientifically invalid comparisons between subjects you cherry pick in order to prove your own silly theories correct.

            Many of those countries over the past century have in fact has the “roaming bands of brigands, rapists and thieves” I referenced. If you’d pull your head out of your arse for a moment and look around you’d see it was the governments in quite a few of the cases.

            You don’t have enough sense to look at the entire picture, don’t look to me to draw it more clearly for you. I will tell you you’re full of crap. I have, I will continue. Anytime you people spew your garbage, one of us or more will be right there to make sure the truth is beside what you say. People can judge for themselves who knows the difference.

            So far, you’ve had your head handed to you on this comment board by anyone who has taken a crack at you and your “argument”. You don’t have any.

          • Yoda

            As I said, I’m not going to answer to insults. It’s interesting though that this is mostly what you have to offer. I “live in a cave”, “need to pull my head out of my ass”, “don’t have enough sense”, (am) “full of crap”, “spew garbage”. That’s mostly your post.

            You only make half an argument, talking about “bandits and rapists” in countries with gun control “in the past century”, and you also refer to governments. What the hell are you even talking about ? I’m talking about modern, democratic societies, such as in Europe or Japan. Now, not 50 years ago.

          • AKMaineIac

            We’ve had to sort you idiots out twice in the last hundred years. We’re not needing any “help” from you. If you’re going to hold yourself out as someone who knows anything anyone should listen to you ought to learn a few things about it first. We’ve got a few hundred thousand Americans’ blood spilled in the dirt over there. You don’t have squat at stake here.

          • Yoda

            What are you, 10 years old ?

          • AKMaineIac

            Is that it? LOL I stand by it. You’ve got nothing at stake here. Mind your business. We discussed whether we were going to do things the “European” way over 200 years ago, and you lost. I don’t think it’s anything anybody really wants to revisit.

          • Yoda

            What does your independence have to do with what we are talking about ? I’ll tell you what: It’s because you don’t have any real arguments, you’re bringing nationalistic bullshit into this. Just typical of someone who wants to avoid the real issues at steak. Suit yourself.

          • AKMaineIac

            You don’t get to decide what the real issues are. You’ve got nothing more than overly simplistic between subjects comparisons that you cherry picked to “prove your point”. Your argument that guns somehow cause violence has been ripped apart in academic literature by criminologist across the world.

            This crap about “educating people about the harm that guns cause”? Like educating people about the harm drugs cause, alcohol causes? But then again, few people can use either of those things productively or to do anything good. So there goes that argument.

            In 1994, Canada rammed through major gun control legislation including registration of all firearms, not just handguns. They completely banned ALL so-called “assault weapons”.

            Since 1994, the crime rate in the United States has declined faster than the crime rate in Canada. Recently Canada tossed out their registration system.

            What makes you think criminals and lunatics give a crap about being “educated about the harm that guns do”? Really. Pie in the sky theories about how we’re going to educate scumbags to not be scumbags notwithstanding. How do you think criminals and lunatics will respond to your lessons?

            All these utopian plans don’t figure getting guns away from criminals and lunatics. They don’t improve peoples’ lives at all. They just brainwash law abiding and peaceable people to give up their rights and their guns. You figure out how to brainwash criminals and lunatics first buddy. Meantime, we’ll be hanging onto our guns.

          • AKMaineIac

            Eric Holder is the attorney general of the United States of America. What do you live in cave? I see you’ve studied this issue and our “culture” very closely and we should all just defer to your uninformed and prejudiced judgement.

          • Yoda

            I live in Europe, so no I don’t need to know who Eric Holder is. I’ve been to the States though, once.

          • AKMaineIac

            That’d make a expert on firearms and American culture alright. LOL

          • Yoda

            Western countries share a lot of values. There’s nothing special about “american culture” in that respect, other than the fact that you have an imature obsession with guns, imo.

          • AKMaineIac

            Everybody is entitled to an opinion, even a baseless and prejudiced one. When you’ve got a few years wearing one on your hip, dealing with criminals. When you come up with some knowledge based on scientifically valid studies and comparisons. When you’ve actually got something… come on back. Until then you really have got nothing of any help to anyone. A gun in the hands of a law abiding individual is most likely to do nothing. It won’t stop a crime, or cause one… (whoever thought up guns “causing crime” anyway?). Chances are, it will spend its entire existence never having been aimed at or fired at anyone.

            I hunt, fish, and keep one around in case I need it. I share my front yard with the occasional apex predator and I am not on the menu. I also had some pepper spray around and would prefer to use that if possible. However, what we “want” is not always practical.

            Be safe, as you can be.

          • AKMaineIac

            Mexico, South Africa… Number of countries where law abiding people can own little to no firearms and have astronomically higher crime rates.

          • Yoda

            Dude, I already told you. We’re talking about developed countries here. And the fact that most EU countries, Japan, Australia have lower homicide rates than the US with strict gun control prove that guns don’t prevent these kind of crimes. In fact they increase them.

          • Terpy

            Happy Holidays to you too.

            As a pro-gun person, I WOULD like to see the “gun show loophole” closed. If you buy a gun online, it’s required to be shipped to a FFL licensed transfer agent (gun dealer) so the necessary background check can be performed. I think all private sales should have the same requirement. Most transfer agents only charge like $25 for that service, it’s only a very minor inconvenience if everyone is on the up and up. Although, to be honest, there are enough greedy people in this world, that if a criminal wanted a gun, with enough money, he could get someone to sell him / her a gun without following the law and no one would ever know until it was too late.

            I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to a ban on high cap mags, but like you said, it doesn’t change anything. With any practice, a shooter can swap mags faster than someone can subdue them.

            I am opposed to banning ANY kind of gun. At the close ranges that all these shootings have occurred at, the size of the gun doesn’t matter. Any caliber gun would have killed all those people in such confined spaces. This most recent shooter could have done just as much damage with either of the handguns he had, given enough magazines, as he did with the rifle.

            As for psych evaluations, I’d be willing to give that a try.

            I also do agree with you, every gun owner should have a way to lock up their firearms, be it a safe, a slide lock or a trigger lock. As for making it required, ok, but how would enforcement work on something like that? To me, that’s something that could only be enforced after the fact., Like in the most recent case, if the mother would have lived, she could have been charged with not locking up her guns, but by then, it’s too late.

            Having said all that, anyone that’s set on making a statement, will find a way, no matter what the laws are. I mean, if the law against murder doesn’t bother them, a few simple gun laws won’t either. No matter what we put in place, violence, including gun violence, will continue to happen. Violence has been part of humankind since the beginning and I fear it will be with us till our species ends.

    • Terpy

      “The “constitutional right to bear arms”. How many tyrrants have been
      overthrown lately by armed civilians? How much damage could they inflict
      on the largest military power of the world? And who said you can’t
      overthrow a regime peacfully?”

      I am in no way implying Obama or the American government is a tyrant, but to answer your question, in 2011 there were 3.

      First there was Yemen.

      Then there was Libya.

      And now there’s Syria.

      • Yoda

        Yes, but it all started peacfully in Tunisia.

        And you forgot Egypt, peacful as well.

        But of course I was refering to the U.S., as I had already mentioned the “constitutional right to bear arms”. Which is part of the U.S. constitution, and ironically not in any of the mentioned countries’ constitution.

        Which makes my point even better.

        First off, as you said, you have a healthy democracy (more or less) in the U.S. And as I noted earlier, even if you were opressed, any amount of guns coming from your homes wouldn’t make a difference with the guns owned by the military.

        When people are forced to resort to arms to overthrow a regime, the weapons they use don’t come from their homes. To start, they break into police stations, capture or win the support of military officers and gradually get military grade arms to start fighting their cause. That’s how it’s usually done. And let’s not forget that the Libyan as well as the Syrian resistance have been armed by supporting countries. Not to mention NATO’s airforce bombing Ghaddafi’s army, without which the Libyans would still be fighting today, as are the Syrians.

        Again: You live in a modern, free, democratic country. You probably won’t have to fight your own government, at least in the forseeable future. But even if you have to, peacfull, civil demonstration can make a difference as has been the case of Egypt and Tunisia. Even if that fails, any amount of handguns or semi-automatic rifles you keep at home – as backed by the constitution – won’t make that much of a difference. By the time you reach that point, you will need much heavier weaponry to prevail.

        I understand that the “constitutional right to bear arms” was adopted to ensure that the federal government didn’t have all the power. But that was at a time when there were no tanks, no airforce, no submarines, no missiles. Today I’m afraid it’s just irrelevant.

        • Terpy

          I agree with you 100%. While I am pro-gun, I’m not one of those people that believes we need to be preparing for war against our current government. BUT, like you said, that is the spirit of the right that was guaranteed us, regardless of how unlikely it is that I’ll ever have to use it or how futile my attempt would be to try it.

    • Heyseed

      Notice the locution “…withdrawing them…..”

      Is that a soft term for ‘confiscation’? Why did you use that particular term?

      • Yoda

        No, not at all. As you can read in my next reply, I’m all for ideally first winning the support of the people for restricting guns before enforcing any such measure. It’s the best if not only way it can be done. So a withdrawal of guns would refer to a voluntary handing over to authorities. Maybe for some kind of exchange even (some money for the cost of the handed item).

    • VIctoria Towne

      “First off, the argument that if it wasn’t a gun it could have been a
      knife is totally absurd. Not only is it impossible to inflict so much
      damage with a knife”

      2,996 people were killed on September 11th because of a box cutter- just saying
      Timothy McVeigh didnt have a gun and he killed 168 people.

      • Yoda

        You’re comparing different things. September 11th and the Oklahoma bombing were major terrorist attacks. How do these have anything to do with what we’re talking about here ?

  • In favour of the 2nd amendment

    Actually Breiviks guns were legally obtained I think, as was the gun used by Tristan van der Vlis in the Netherlands in 2011, and there were discussions wether somebody with a psychiatric past should be able to obtain fire arms.

    But the cost/benefit argument is key to defending the 2nd amendment.

    • George Hilman

      Cost/benefit is very much a feature of pragmatism or utilitarianism. The Second Amendment is a feature of our country’s foundational law. The best defense of any provision in the law is, “Let’s discuss it on the floors of the legislatures, whether to repeal or amend it or not. That is the proper authority of the law.”

      But, officials like pres. Obama and gov. Cuomo try to make end-runs around the matter by quashing discussion in the legislature and passing legislation in order to infringe the rights upheld by the provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

  • dirty dan

    i like boys

  • bettysbrain

  • Gregory Smith

    All gun control does is keep law-abiding people unarmed and defenseless. Remember the Central Park jogger that got raped by all those animals? Imagine her with a gun. I don’t care about Europe, I don’t live in Europe. My relatives came from there and despise it. The only people who care about Europe are self-hating Americans that think the grass is greener on the other side of the pond. Like insecure little bitches, they’re always comparing themselves to others. Europeans have pride in themselves, their feelings towards Americans range from envy to hate, but when a Frenchman finds he despises France, he immigrates to America or whatever country is of his liking. Too bad the liberals here can’t follow that example. This is a free country, if you hate freedom, if you hate guns, if you want to be a Slave of the State, go to Canada, Venezuela, Vietnam, Colombia, China, England, Sweden, Greenland, anywhere but here. Guns, God, individualism, materialism, that’s America. Don’t like it? Go elsewhere or learn to respect our 2nd Amendment.

  • petercabrera

    That’s not an easy question to answer. For starters, there aren’t even airtight estimates of how many people actually own guns in the United States.



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