Sandy Hook

I don´t have anything much useful to say about the ghastly Sandy Hook school massacre, and Mark may weigh in with something more considered. This post is basically an opportunity for commenters.

To give the discussion some structure, consider this paragraph in a comment by ¨John¨ at LGM:

One thing that’s worth noting is that the Democrats abandoned support for gun control around 2000 – immediately prior to a decade in which they basically lost all electoral foothold with the demographic groups whose love of guns made them give up on gun control in the first place.

What should American progressives aim for now?

Option A: business as usual; wipe away the tears, but don´t challenge the NRA or gun culture seriously. (In spite of Obama´s Appalachian winter, he handily won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, full of white hunters.) Perhaps tinker with legislation at the edges with a tougher assault weapon ban. Adam Lanza did apparently bring his mother´s legal .223 semi-automatic rifle to the school. But he reportedly left it in the car, and carried out the massacre with a a pair of her equally legal, and expensive, semi-automatic pistols.)

Option B: maximalism. Another LGM commenter, Chester Allman:

Full repeal of the 2nd Amendment and a strict Federal ban on all private gun ownership.

The full package is unatttainable; the idea is to shift the Overton window and deprive the NRA of the bloody flag, as a path to lesser, but still radical, gun control.

Option C: something in between. But what? Try to sell California´s standards in Nevada, and Maryland´s in Virginia?

This piece of American exceptionalism has gone on too long. Not just the frequency and lethality of killing sprees, but the Third World rate of less newsworthy deaths from guns.

Comments

  1. Ed Whitney says

    One partial measure: treat ammunition sales like Sudafed sales, with photo ID required for purchase, limits on the amount that can be purchased, attempts to amass large quantities likely to trigger an investigation by the authorities.

    • Gus diZerega says

      I think that is a very good idea. It has no constitutional problem and is a step is separating the paranoid nuts from decent human beings that have guns.

    • Anonymous says

      what exactly do you consider the correct limit; 20 rounds, 50 rounds, 100 rounds? and what is a large quantity of ammunition? I’ve seen people buy 500 round bricks of ammunition for their .22 target pistols and then burn through it in an afternoon. Mr. Wimberley’s option C seems like a good starting point to me, as a Californian I see no particular reason for our states gun laws to not be a model for the nation.

      • Adolphus says

        Isn’t that what the public debate and legislative process is for? Ed’s idea is a good one and he doesn’t need to put numbers on his suggestion for it to be taken seriously at this stage. We can negotiate the exact numbers as we go, with some possible adjustment even after rules are put in place. Maybe those people who want to buy a brick of 500 rounds could get some sort of special license after passing a more rigorous assessment of some sort. Or maybe they need to temper their shooting rate? I don’t take it as axiomatic that everything every law-abiding gun owner does now must always and ever more be proper. We think nothing of inconveniencing any number of consumers to purchase certain items, I see no reason why inconveniencing gun owners should be taboo.

        The only thing I hope for from a tragedy like this is an adult conversation. And shutting down ideas like this just because we can’t agree on appropriate numbers and standards at the outset is not an adult conversation.

        • Bostonian in Brooklyn says

          I also suggest the Chris Rock solution; charge $5,000 per bullet. Potential murderers would have to save up first.

          • says

            This is actually pretty spot-on. Hobbyists can save up, and those fantasizing about shooting people in self-defense can justify the price of their lives. If cigarettes are $10 a pack in some states, why not boxes of ammo for a few grand?

      • Gus diZerega says

        Anything low. How about 5? In a gun that is not able to shoot without being re-cocked, like a bolt or lever action or pump shotgun. That will work for competent hunters (the rest we do not need)and it will work for target shooters. But I admit it won’t make anyone’s willie tingle at the thought of being able to create mass destruction.

      • Jim says

        Oh, you could allow ranges to sell any amount of ammunition as long as it was used in the range. Patrons couldn’t, though, carry it out of the range. Like you can’t carry your drink out of a bar.

        It makes sense to target ammunition. Guns, after all, don’t kill people. It’s the bullets that actually kill the people they hit.

      • Frank Schmitt says

        There could be a rebate for rounds fired at a licensed shooting range, or sales for on-premesis use could be tax exempt, with some mechanism to ensure that rounds can’t easily be smuggled out. For instance, a hefty deposit could be required on ammunition sales which would be returned in exchange for the spent casings.

        Using the EPA value of a human life times the number of gun homicides per year, the cost of firearm deaths in the US is about $90B annually. Including acute and chronic care of gun injuries probably pushes that to $150B. With 300 million guns in the US, the average gun does about $500 in damage a year to human life and limb. Extending this to ammunition is guesswork, but something like $100 a round seems about right.

        You could fill a clip for “home defense” at an expensive but not ruinous cost. Plus there would be a lot of extra incentive to secure one’s ammunition and any loaded weapons.

    • Ed Whitney says

      It does make sense to recognize that marksmanship requires practice, and that you may need to burn through many rounds in an afternoon to maintain your skills.
      The Chris Rock proposal has the great virtue of putting a price on the social costs of having a Second Amendment. To price the cost is difficult, with many devils in the details; to deny that there is any social cost to the Right to Bear Arms is childish and not fit for any mature discussion of the issues concerned.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        I think threads like this are highly valuable. Every time gun controllers start claiming they only want “reasonable” regulations, we can refer to these sorts of threads to demonstrate what they think is “reasonable”. $5000 bullets, absurdly low limits on how much ammo you can buy/stock, and so on.

        It’s really useful to demonstrate how meaningless the word “reasonable” is, when used by gun controllers.

        • Ed Whitney says

          Chris Rock is a prominent stage comedian. I think he is famous for jokes that go “yo’ mama’s so fat…” with statements that would only make sense if the mother were the size of a large skyscraper. This does not mean that he thinks that yo’ mama is actually that size.

          Currently the social costs of unlimited gun and ammunition ownership are borne by everyone. Like any other externality, parties who are not party to firearm transactions are affected by those transactions.

          Pricing social costs is, as I noted above, difficult. Recognizing that they exist is not.

        • says

          “It’s really useful to demonstrate how meaningless the word “reasonable” is, when used by gun controllers.” Let me just point out this unreasonable generalization about the character of gun “controllers” would be a convenient straw man for yourself.

  2. JMG says

    http://prorev.com/idguns.htm

    I first wrote this op-ed in 99 or so, and have hauled it out and spread it around with each firearms massacre since.

    It was with this issue that I first learned the truth of the saying “You never have to worry about people stealing your ideas. If they’re any good, you’ll have to ram them down their throats.”

    • says

      From your post: ¨If the gun is not found or is uninsured (and there will still be many of these at first) then every fund will pay a pro-rated share of the damages, based on the number of guns they insure.¨
      Does this look like a business a rational insurer will choose to enter?

      • JMG says

        Which is why the oped later notes that it will be associations of gun owners choosing to insure each other.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      Perhaps you should have learned, “If you have to ram your ideas down people’s throats, maybe they’re not as good as you like to think?”

      • Byomtov says

        Simple question, Brett.

        What liabilities is it fair to impose on gun owners? Suppose your teenager, or ten-year-old, grabs your unsecured gun out of the dresser drawer and shoots someone. What liability do you think you should have?

          • Byomtov says

            Also, it’s not a question of “imposing liability.” The cost is there. The question is who pays it. If you crash into my car, my car is damaged, whether you can escape legal liability or not. The issue is who pays.

          • Anomalous says

            Actually yes. You are liable for damage caused by your car, even if it is stolen. If your own it you are required to secure it.

          • Freeman says

            OK, suppose he grabs Brett’s hammer from the garage and bludgeons the little old lady next door to death.

            Blaming the weapon is pointless. It is the intent of the killer that causes the murder to happen, not the particular instrument used to carry it out, of which any number are readily available to all and have been since long before the invention of the firearm. Furthermore, it is unjust, irrational, and ultimately self-defeating to impose undue restrictions on the vast majority of responsible gun owners, particularly when we know such restrictions will be orders of magnitude more effective in preventing responsible use of the weapons by law-abiding citizens with the self-evident inalienable natural right to defend themselves than irresponsible use by violent criminals and psychopaths.

          • Byomtov says

            Saying you are liable when your negligence causes harm is not imposing a restriction.

            What are reasonable precautions varies, but surely given the special dangers posed by guns, it makes sense to conside it negligent behavior to just leave them lying around. In fact, don’t we hear, even in your comment, how responsible gun owners are and so on? So I’m surprised that suddenly many don’t want to be held accountable for irresponsible behavior.

            Well, actually I’m not surprised.

          • Cranky Observer says

            = = = Freeman @ 3:41 pm “OK, suppose he grabs Brett’s hammer from the garage and bludgeons the little old lady next door to death.

            Blaming the weapon is pointless.” = = =

            Please provide examples of five well-documented instances of mass murder by hammer. Because there have been five such incidents using firearms in the United States this quarter.

            Cranky

          • Freeman says

            Cranky -

            No sweat, as long as you’ll accept that it needn’t be hammers specifically in order to successfully defend my statement. Let’s start with the deadliest school mass murder in US history, the Bath School Disaster:

            The Bath School disaster is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927, which killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, four other adults and the bomber himself; at least 58 people were injured. Most of the victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7–11 years of age[1]) attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.

            The bomber was school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe, 55, who died in a car bomb he set off after he drove up to the school as the crowd gathered to rescue survivors from the burning school.

            On the morning of May 18, Kehoe murdered his wife by beating her to death, then set his farm buildings on fire using incendiary devices. As fire fighters arrived at the farm, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing many schoolchildren. As rescuers started gathering at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and detonated a bomb inside his vehicle with his Winchester rifle, killing himself and the school superintendent, and killing and injuring several others. During rescue efforts searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the school’s south wing. Kehoe apparently had intended to blow up and destroy the whole school.

            The man committed a lot of murders in a short period of time through various means. Did you notice that the only mention of firearm use was to detonate one of the actual murder weapons?

            You’ll find the rest of them here. From the linked site:

            “Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident. Fire killed 6.82 people per mass murder, while explosives far outpaced the other options at 20.82. Of the 25 deadliest mass murders in the 20th century, only 52 percent involved guns.”

          • Cranky Observer says

            = = = Freeman @ 7:02 pm “Cranky – No sweat, as long as you’ll accept that it needn’t be hammers specifically in order to successfully defend my statement.” = = =

            Nice try, but nope. You said mass murderers could just as easily use the hammer in Brett Bellmore’s garage as his Bushmaster AR-15 (free shipping by the way). Up to you to provide examples with hammers.

            I’ve noted repeatedly over the years that in a modern industrial society with fast heavy-duty transportation and widespread access to energy-intense substances it is unfortunately easy for anyone really dedicated to carry out a large-scale massacre. But the fact is that very very few people are so inclined and it seldom happens. Whereas we had another shooting murder on Saturday – that makes 3 in three weeks (luckily the murderer in Minnesota hadn’t read “Gun Fetishist” closely enough and his killing machine jammed).

            Hammer examples please.

            Cranky

          • Freeman says

            Just saw that my reply is stuck in moderation purgatory. Too many links I would imagine. Here it is without the links; google should get you there if I’m unable to post the links, which I will attempt below.

            Freeman says:
            Your comment is awaiting moderation.
            December 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

            Cranky Observer: You said mass murderers could just as easily use the hammer in Brett Bellmore’s garage as his Bushmaster AR-15 (free shipping by the way). Up to you to provide examples with hammers. Hammer examples please.

            Again, no sweat. From the first page of google hits to “mass murder hammer”:

            The suspect, 35-year-old Binh Thai Luc, is charged with five counts of murder with special circumstances.

            Police now tell ABC7 News the murder weapon was a hammer.

            Classification: Mass murderer
            Characteristics: Revenge – Robbery
            Number of victims: 7
            Date of murders: August 30, 2001
            Date of arrest: Next day
            Date of birth: September 5, 1977
            Victims profile: His girlfriend, Leticia Aguilar, 31; her five children, ages 6 to 12, and businessman Ronald Earl Fish, 58
            Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer – Stabbing with knife
            Location: Sioux City, Iowa, USA
            Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to seven consecutive terms of life in prison without parole on September 25, 2001

            Classification: Mass murderer
            Characteristics: Juvenile (16) – Sex with corpses
            Number of victims: 5
            Date of murders: February 11, 1998
            Date of arrest: 6 days after
            Date of birth: December 18, 1981
            Victims profile: His half-brother, Jonathan Lloyd, 17, his brother’s girlfriend Debra Smith, 32, and her three children, Kenny, 12, Jennifer, 7, and Corey, 5
            Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
            Location: Noble, Illinois, USA
            Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on May 3, 1999

            July 29, 1999. Mark Orrin Barton, 44, murdered his wife and two children with a hammer before shooting up two Atlanta day trading firms. Barton, a day trader, was believed to be motivated by huge monetary losses. He killed 12 including his family and injured 13 before killing himself.

            Eric Borel (13) A bored French teenager, Eric woke up a Sunday morning with death on his mind. On September 24, 1995 Borel killed his mother, stepfather and brother with a hammer and a baseball bat. Then he picked up his .22-caliber hunting rifle, walked six miles to the village of Cuers and opened fire in a parking lot outside a bank and in the town square. During his half-hour morning rampage, he killed seven more people and wounded nine others before putting a bullet through his head. Two of the wounded died later in the hospital.

            Satisfied?

          • Cranky Observer says

            Not even within two orders of magnitude of the average gun mass murderer. Not even close.

            Cranky

          • Freeman says

            Not even within two orders of magnitude of the average gun mass murderer. Not even close.

            Cranky

            According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident.

            Now it’s your turn. Please back up your claim with credible references. 2 orders of magnitude, please.

          • Cranky Observer says

            You know Freeman, you were right: I made a mistake.

            Per the US Census, http://sbcoalition.org/2011/04/gun-violence-and-the-census-sobering-statistics/

            homicides by weapon used from 2001-2010 was 86,112 for guns, 5,782 for blunt objects (which presumably includes hammers). That 14.89:1 ratio is only 1.17 orders of magnitude larger for gun deaths, not two orders of magnitude as I originally estimated. That’s a significant difference and I do offer my apologies.

            Still kinda wondering where all the stories about the mass murders by hammer in the United States are, given that 86000:5800 ratio.

            Cranky

          • Freeman says

            Wrong mistake — Read your own claim, Cranky-O. You’re trying (yet still failing) to back up a claim you didn’t even make. You said my five examples of mass-murder-by-hammer were “Not even within two orders of magnitude of the average gun mass murderer. Not even close.” In order to successfully defend the claim you actually made, you must show evidence that the average number of lives taken by gun mass-murderers is two orders of magnitude higher than that of hammer mass-murderers. I think your real mistake was making the claim in the first place, but I’m open to being educated in the event I’m mistaken.

        • Anonymous says

          Responsible gun owners lock up their guns and keep the keys on their persons at all times. My country relatives who hunt think VERY poorly of gun owners who don’t secure their guns.

          • Cranky Observer says

            Responsible gun owners should be at the forefront of figuring out how to stop mass murders by firearm, the number of which has been increasing over the last 20 years. But they are actually hiding behind the NRA and doing nothing.

            Cranky

          • navarro says

            you know, cranky, the interesting thing is that until the early 70s the nra was in the forefront of helping congress in developing intelligent and useful gun control legislation. at that time new leadership came into the organization who began changing it’s focus from hunting, target shooting, and gun safety to a lobbying washington and the states for relaxed restrictions on gun ownership and sales. i stopped being a member after their intense opposition over the course of several years to what became the brady bill. now they are more of a lobbying organization for gun manufacturers and gun dealers than they are what they started out as.

  3. nypaul says

    Whatever calamity strikes our country the pundits, and just plain commenters, drench us with a tsunami of “we should do this’s and we should do thats.” And, tragically, many, if not most, of the offered solutions would undoubtedly fix the problem. So, why, “tragically?” Because our Government has devolved into a “pay-to-play,” rigged, Darwinian racket.

    From the Wall St. inspired implosion of the world’s economy to mass shootings becoming epidemic, solutions are a dime a dozen. But, as long as our Congress remains an auction house for special interest lobbyists, it will be The Bankers Association, Grover Norquist, and the NRA that will dictate how we live our lives.

    If there was any doubt before, The Supreme Court’s decision, “Corporations are People,” ended the illusion for good.

  4. Let's get real says

    In Connecticut, you’re not permitted to carry a handgun if you’re under 21. Merely by leaving the house with those pistols, 20-year-old Adam Lanza was violating a gun law.

    • prognostication says

      This does not suggest a policy prescription, and I’m not sure how it is “getting real.” The two ways you could interpret this comment are essentially polar opposites: Gun laws are ineffective, so why bother having them? or, Current gun laws are weak and ineffectual and something much closer to Second Amendment repeal is the only workable solution.

      • Let's get real says

        Third option: Tragedies will always happen. It would be better if we had a number of guns in circulation closer to the European average, but we don’t.

        However, we can be much more aggressive with preventative incarceration institutionalization of the mentally ill.

        • Brett Bellmore says

          Nah, that might improve the situation without doing anything about the real goal of taking peoples’ guns away from them.

        • CharlesWT says

          “However, we can be much more aggressive with preventative incarceration institutionalization of the mentally ill.”

          Problem is that rampage shooters are only known after the fact. They’re usually very good at hiding their intent until they act.

          • prognostication says

            Also, because I actually get more worked up the more I think about this, I would like to reiterate that we already had forced institutionalization in this country, and it went pretty badly.

            Most libertarians are, at least in theory, (correctly) concerned about the myriad ways in which the criminal justice system deprives individuals of their rights, but at least that system has the veneer of requiring a unanimous verdict of a dozen of your peers to deprive you of your liberty. Forced institutionalization didn’t work that way then, and it wouldn’t work that way now. If a mental health professional were convinced you were crazy (and I don’t think I would offend our hosts by noting here that the quality of mental health professionals in this country is highly variable), then you are no longer a member of society.

            Now that is a dangerous power for the state to possess.

  5. Brett Bellmore says

    I guess the very first question to ask is, “Is gun control a means, or an end?” I’ve always figured, given that they didn’t call themselves “Violence control” organizations, or give any serious consideration to violence control approaches that didn’t involve burdening 2nd amendment rights, that it was the latter.

    If it’s the latter, you’ve got a problem, in that a rather large portion of the electorate don’t consider burdening a civil liberty to be a respectable end. And isn’t going to stop regarding something mentioned in the Bill of Rights as a civil liberty just because Scalia croaks, and gets replaced with Kagan or Sotomayor Mk II.

    If it’s the former, maybe you should give some consideration to using OTHER means? And stop pressing the hot button?

    • Gus diZerega says

      As I remember, polls indicate that even most NRA members have little objection against banning assault rifles and huge magazines. Neither existed at the time the 2nd Amendment was ratified. Such weapons have no legitimate use in hunting and little to none on a firing range. Their only reason for existence is not only killing people, but killing lots of people quickly.

      They have been confused with guns used by hunters by the gun industry and its lobbyists.

      If both were banned, killing by guns will plummet in body count. That is the ‘violence control’ you write about.

      • navarro says

        my apologies for any confusion. the comment below was directed entirely to brett bellmore. the post from mr. dizerega did not exist when i started the comment.

      • Freeman says

        Gus, the 2nd amendment was never designed to protect hunting or target practice. Any rational reading reveals that it’s purpose has been and continues to be self-defense and the security of a free state. The Declaration of Independence specifically names government tyranny as something to legitimately be defended against. The history of it’s inclusion in the Constitution and subsequent judicial rulings reinforce these concepts. Regrettably, these days assault rifles and huge magazines and the ability to kill lots of enemy targets quickly are the sort of weaponry required if one is to have any hope of defending against modern-day threats, be they foreign terrorists, domestic gangs, or government forces.

        Personally, I’m not a big fan of guns and the only gun I’ve ever owned is the single-shot hunting rifle my father gave to me when I was 14, which I keep unloaded and locked in a gun case in a closet. I’m just stating the facts of the situation.

        • Gus diZerega says

          Freeman, the 14th amendment was never designed to protect corporations. Interpretation is inevitable as we get farther and farther from the time it was written. Some interpretations are good and some are soulless and vile, like the one I just mentioned.

          The 2nd amendment had a explicitly political meaning. as it clearly says. It does not refer explicitly (a crucial term, legally) to self-defense as a private citizen. One could coherently argue that a complete ban on all modern weapons except within a well regulated militia was constitutional. That would be a far more literal reading than has been given to the 14th amendment by right wing and conservative justices. I would not go that far- but I think it’s arguably constitutional. We do not know what the Founders would have endorsed if they had knowledge of modern weaponry.

          It is simply not true that the weapons you describe are needed to overthrow tyranny. Look at the fall of communism, that was basically bloodless in Europe outside Romania.

          I am not viscerally anti-gun. I had a lot of fun at a firing range the day after Thanksgiving. But we need a sense of proportion here.

          • Freeman says

            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.

            You’re right, it does not refer to personal self-defense in it’s singular justification (of many which apply and were debated — including personal self-defense — at the time of it’s creation and ratification) for recognizing this natural, inalienable right in the language of the amendment. It does, however, grant recognition of that right explicitly to individual citizens.

            Yes, I agree that weapons are not required to defend against every threat in every case, and it’s a damn good thing, because I carry no weapons other than my very limited tai chi training of many years ago and my admittedly limited wits in my travels on this ever-dangerous planet. But if I ever find it necessary to use deadly force, be it in defense against gangs, terrorists, invaders, or government, I’m going to be looking around for something a little more effective than my single-shot. Thusly, I will always defend the right for all of us to do so.

          • navarro says

            madison’s first draft of the 2nd amendment–“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”–makes the idea of interpreting the 2nd amendment as implying an unlimited right to personal gun ownership seem very questionable and, prior to the early 1970s, no one was making the the argument that it did besides the black panthers. it was with a change of leadership in the nra that the hunting and sports shooting organization started to become the nucleus of the gun rights lobby. as i’ve said in other comments here, i’m a gun owner and occasional hunter. nothing about that contradicts my desire to see changes in the gun laws and better regulation of both gun ownership and manufacture.

          • Freeman says

            Navarro,

            Madison’s first draft providing for the exclusion of conscription in cases of religious conscientious objection doesn’t convince me that the surviving portions of the draft were meant to exclusively apply to formal military service after ratification by the rest of the nation.

            From the wikipedia article on the second amendment:
            In no particular order, early American settlers viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

            deterring tyrannical government;
            repelling invasion;
            suppressing insurrection;
            facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
            participating in law enforcement;
            enabling the people to organize a militia system.

            Which of these considerations they thought were most important, which of these considerations they were most alarmed about, and the extent to which each of these considerations ultimately found expression in the Second Amendment is disputed. Some of these purposes were explicitly mentioned in early state constitutions; for example, the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 asserted that, “the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state”.[33]

          • Freeman says

            While we’re quoting Madison, from the same wikipedia article:

            While both Monroe and Adams supported ratification of the Constitution, its most influential framer was James Madison. In Federalist No. 46, he confidently contrasted the federal government of the United States to the European kingdoms, which he contemptuously described as “afraid to trust the people with arms.” He assured his fellow citizens that they need never fear their government because of “the advantage of being armed….”

          • Cranky Observer says

            They guys who wrote the US Constitution were really, really smart, and had some good insights about forms of government. And they wrote a pretty good document. Too bad about the slaves, women, etc, but on the whole pretty good. But I really don’t care what their corpses, long since returned to the bosom of Gaia, have to say about mass ownership of 100-round high-velocity semiautomatic weapons in a dense modern industrial society with fast transportation. They didn’t conceive of the problem because it was inconceivable to them – and in any case is our problem to solve.

            Cranky

          • says

            Natural rights are a stupid concept to begin with, but under no theory is there a natural right to carry a gun. There are no guns in a state of nature.

    • navarro says

      i knew full well that you would say more or less what you just said so i’d like you to read the following quote from the onion. i’ll wait–

      Following today’s mass shooting that left 20 young children dead at a Connecticut elementary school, numerous sources across the country reported that their government-protected right to own a portable device that propels small masses of metal through the air at lethal rates of speed is completely worth any such consequences. “It’s my God-given right and a founding principle of this country that I be able to own a [piece of metal that launches other smaller pieces of metal great distances, one after the other], and if a few deaths here and there is the price we have to pay for that freedom, then so be it,” said Lawrence Crane of nearby Danbury, CT, who is such a staunch advocate of the portable deadly-pellet-flinging apparatuses that he keeps multiple versions of such mechanisms in his home, often carries one with him, and is a member of a club whose sole purpose is to celebrate these assembled steel things and the small bits of metal they send flying. “Sure, it’s sad that a few kids died, but it’s far better than the tyranny that would result if the government came and took away all our [mechanical contraptions that make a lot of little pointy chunks of metal go through the air fast]. Can you even imagine what kind of horrible world that would be?” The man added that if the events that unfolded today led lawmakers to question his ability to possess any such items of steel and lead, authorities would have to “pry the [wholly inanimate mechanical object, nothing more, nothing less] from [his] dead hands.”

      i realize that this is bitter humor, satire if you will but whether you realize it or not, this is exactly what you sound like right now and you have neither the gravitas nor the moral authority to sound like that. neither the pope nor the dalai lama have that much gravitas or moral authority. and as for the hot button, perhaps we’ll stop pressing it when that subset of the people whose rights you defend on each of the gun control posts here won’t stop pulling the hot trigger. i imagine you’re going to prance and troll insufferably in response to this comment. i hope you enjoy yourself as you generate hostility and whatever amusement you get out of the execrable way you approach commenting and discussion on this site but enjoy it without me on this one because i’ve said all i’m going to say to you in the comment threads to this post.

    • Katja says

      If you want to know, Brett, I consider gun control to be a means, not an end. Contrary to popular belief among gun fetishists, not every person who is contemplating gun control measures is fascinated with the idea of taking firearms from their cold, dead hands.

      For what it’s worth, the first time I got to fire a gun was at the age of eight, neither of my parents had a problem with that, and it hasn’t left any mental scars. I don’t see guns as necessarily more dangerous than, say, cars. And I’m generally in favor of Montesquieu’s razor: If it is not necessary to make a law, it is necessary not to make a law.

      On the other hand, I find the fetishization of the 2nd Amendment (or at least the Heller interpretation) silly beyond belief. We live in the 21st century, not the 18th or 19th. Your home is not at risk of being besieged by a horde of wild natives and the British have given up on the whole conquest thing, too.

      Obviously, you can come up with all kinds of ex-post rationalizations why the 2nd Amendment is somehow one of the most fundamental human rights and should not be subordinate to the right to life where it endangers the latter, but outside of Hollywood realities and military porn, we generally like to put a bit more emphasis on people’s lives than their firearms.

      That said, I agree that I don’t see what gun control laws could do for the most part. There’s very little that can legally be done post Heller (or at least until the majority on the Supreme Court flips) and that is sensible at the same time. I also think that the problem is more a culture of violence, and gun fetishism is a symptom, not a cause. It’s the same culture that finds jokes about prison rapes funny or thinks that “it takes balls to execute an innocent man”.

      It’s one thing to have a gun for sport, or hunting, or self-defense. But that’s not what we’re talking about here: it’s when the belief about the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment turns into a religion, a cult, with the NRA as its church and John Lott as its prophet. One where people huddle over their firearms, whispering “my precious”.

      These people don’t even want a serious debate about guns and violence in American culture. They want a state religion by any other name.

      Again, color me skeptical with respect to the efficacy of gun control laws in modern day America (at least simplistic ones), but that doesn’t mean that we should forgo a debate and it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to at least curtail our absurdly high homicide rate somewhat.

      Because, as Robert F. Kennedy put it: “Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.”

      • says

        A related thought. What other country, whether restrictive or liberal in its legislation and culture, treats the ownership of weapons as a fundamental personal right? It´s not in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or any of the international texts I´m familiar with (Universal Declaration, ECHR, etc.) It was in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, but played no role in the later British struggles for democracy such as Chartism and has been forgotten by almost all Brits.
        It´s not plausible to claim that gun possession is a human right if nobody else in the world thinks so. The claim has to be part of American exceptionalism, a generally dubious project intellectually.

        • Katja says

          According to this study, only Guatemala and Mexico have such a right, and there have never been more than eight countries (that was in 1946).

          Speaking about American exceptionalism: while this is something that lots of people tend to make fun of [1], there is one aspect in which the United States are indeed fairly unique. Namely, our frontier mentality (the concept of a frontier in the American sense does not really exist elsewhere in the world — even the British don’t use the word in the same sense). That does have a lot of upsides, such as fostering a culture of self-reliance and independence, but admittedly it does also creates problems when some people can’t adapt to the post-19th century world.

          [1] Also, in our defense, it’s hardly uniquely American to overestimate one’s nation’s contributions. See: “Am deutschen Wesen mag die Welt genesen.” Read just about any Karl May novel for an illustration. :)

          • Byomtov says

            A visit to the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris may easily convince one that the vast majority of scientific and technological advances were made by the French, with perhaps an occasional assist from an American or Briton.

          • says

            Thanks for the link, a strong datum. It’s a bad idea to put such contentious issues in a constitution. The US is also pretty isolated in viewing abortion rights through a constitutional lens, which encourages absolutism for and against.

          • Katja says

            I’m afraid that the United States are not isolated in viewing abortion rights through a constitutional lens. France and Germany did the same (though their solutions were different from Roe v. Wade).

            If there is a difference, it’s probably the greater polarization of politics in America.

          • James Wimberley says

            Katya: Do you have a source on France? SFIK the 1975 loi Veil decriminalising abortion was an ordinary piece of parliamentary legislation. It may have been helped along that Simone Veil was an Auschwitz survivor, so it was harder for opponents to claim the moral high ground.

            By de Gaulle´s wish in 1958, it´s very difficult in France to challenge the constitutionality of a law. Only the President, the Prime Minister, the Speakers of the two houses of parliament, or 60 members of the latter used to be able to do so, and only between adoption of the law and its promulgation. The Conseil constitutionnel was sesise of a complaint on the loi Veil, but dodged the bullet on grounds of lacking standing.

            Since 2008 – long after the loi Veil – ordinary citizens may challenge a law for violation of constitutional rights, but they have to go through the Cour de Cassation or the Conseil d´Etat to do so. Much easier to complain to the ECHR in Strasbourg, where you do have to prove exhaustion of domestic remedies, but this is interpreted with common sense and plaintiffs do not have to appeal everything hopelessly to the highest national court.

          • Katja says

            La loi Veil was an ordinary piece of legislation. So were the various German Fristenlösungsgesetze attempting to regulate abortion. They were still subject to judicial review by the constitutional courts and they were all reviewed.

            The rationale of la loi Veil was that the distress of a pregnant woman outweighs an embryo’s or fetus’s right to life from conception (which the law actually acknowledges) up to a certain point. It is not a “freedom of choice” law.

            In France, the Conseil Constitutionnel did publish a fairly detailed decision (make sure to read the commentary, too) regarding the 2001 amendment of the law, which extended the period during which abortion was permitted in the absence of medical reasons from 10 to 12 weeks from gestation and abolished mandatory consultation for adult women. The court acknowledged that there was a principal tension between the rights of the pregnant woman and the right to life as well as human dignity, but still found no “manifest imbalance” in a 12 week limit. (“La conciliation opérée par le législateur entre ces valeurs n’est pas manifestement déséquilibrée par le passage de dix à douze semaines condamné par la saisine.”)

            In short, it resulted in the court allowing the legislature considerable latitude (unlike in the United States and Germany).

      • Brett Bellmore says

        I think there’s very little that’s sensible, that the Heller ruling actually stands in the way of. It doesn’t stand in the way of much more than the most extreme manifestations of gun control, as seen only in a few outlier jurisdictions. But, I think we have a severe disagreement about what’s sensible, and your idea of “sensible” might be my idea of “intolerable outrage”.

        What you call turning the 2nd amendment into a religion, I call the rule of law. The 2nd amendment is part of the Constitution, so long as it is, it must be as fully enforced as any other part of the Constitution. You don’t like that, try to repeal it. Until you succeed, live with it.

        You’re not willing to pick from those two options, you forfeit any claim to the protection of the law yourself.

        • Katja says

          No. What you aren’t understanding is that I am accepting the 2nd Amendment as the law of the land. I may not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, but having to live with court decisions or laws that I may not like is part and parcel of being a citizen in a liberal democracy. I accept that, because I appreciate the benefits of having a liberal democracy.

          What I call a religion or cult is the elevation of the RKBA to an article of faith; to a supremely sanctified natural right that trumps even the most fundamental of human rights, the right to life; to a defense mechanism against a government that presumably will turn totalitarian the moment you are no longer allowed to defend yourself against its tanks; in short, the elevation of a man-made law to an irrational fetish.

          I do not want to take your guns away, because I don’t see a rational reason for that. But I’m calling your little movement what it is: a cult.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            The things you want to regulate don’t conflict with anybody’s right to life. You want to regulate passive possession, passive possession don’t hurt anybody. Shooting people? Already illegal.

            Just because you think your favored policy might save a few lives, doesn’t make opposition to it murderous.

          • Katja says

            What part of “I do not want to take your guns away” don’t you understand? I am not proposing to regulate guns (or at least not more than one would regulate cars, but even that is not something I waste much time thinking about). I think that with respect to gun possession in America the horse left the barn decades ago.

            This is all in your imagination. It seems like you think everybody wants to take your 2nd Amendment rights away, even people who don’t care about your personal obsession.

            Look, I basically think that the RKBA crowd is X-Files fandom gone bad (i.e., crazy government conspiracy theories). That doesn’t mean that I want to ban the X-Files (or guns, for that matter). It just means that I don’t think very highly of either. But I don’t think every little bit of inanity needs to be regulated.

      • Ebenezer Scrooge says

        Katja, gun worship is a symptom of something you will never experience: small penis disease.

        • Katja says

          Not to put too fine a point of it, but there are plenty of female gun fetishists, too. I am thinking specifically about a certain former governor of Alaska and the Congresswoman currently representing Minnesota’s 6th congressional district. :)

          And, honestly, I find target shooting fun, too (though I’m not very good at it due to lack of practice). What weirds me out are the creepy cult-like phenomena surrounding the gun scene.

        • Freeman says

          Yeah, Patrick Henry had small penis syndrome.

          Patrick Henry, in the Virginia ratification convention June 5, 1788, eloquently argued for the dual rights to arms and resistance to oppression:

          Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.[78][79]

          • James Wimberley says

            Has it occurred to you that some of us might think of Patrick Henry as a fairly minor blowhard during the American Revolution, whose rhetoric is entirely vitiated by his ownership of (at one time) 75 slaves?
            Incidentally, he opposed the adoption of the US Constitution you fetishize, though he pressed for the Bill of Rights.

    • Cranky Observer says

      = = = Brett Bellmore @ 10:25 am: “If it’s the latter, you’ve got a problem, in that a rather large portion of the electorate don’t consider burdening a civil liberty to be a respectable end. And isn’t going to stop regarding something mentioned in the Bill of Rights as a civil liberty just because Scalia croaks,” = = =

      3800 deaths and the Citizens of the United States were willing to give up the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments along with the right of habeas corpus and the prohibition against Bills of Attainder. [for comparison, His Majesty's Government expected 200,000 casualties {*} on the _first night_ of the Blitz but didn't suspend civil liberties].

      So I’m not sure why you think adjusting the 2nd Amendment in light of last year’s 12,000 homicides via firearm is unthinkable.

      Cranky

      {*} 100,000 physical and 100,000 too shellshocked to function.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        Most state constitutions, easier to amend than the federal, have analogs to the 2nd amendment, a couple added recently, none repealed in living memory. You shouldn’t be planning where to locate your camps going up Everest if you’re living in a 1 story flat because you can’t handle stairs.

        I don’t dispute that, over the long run, it might happen. Gun owners beat back the gun control movement, it only took the better part of a century. On a similar time frame, gun controllers might stage a comeback. But for now, you might want to consider baby steps before dusting the mantle to make room for the marathon trophy.

        Or maybe just try some other approach, which might bear fruit during your lifetime. Is gun control the only answer you can think of? Maybe something which you, admittedly, might consider less optimal, but which actually has a snowball’s chance in Hell of being implemented, might be more productive?

        Maybe better mental health programs, since it’s not the sane who are doing this sort of thing?

        I’ll be frank: I think you focus on this, and not something that might happen, because it’s not the violence you want to get rid of, it’s the guns. Events like this are just an excuse to make an attempt to get what you want.

        Well, in the present atmosphere you’ll scream for a few days, wave around the bloody shirt for a while, and then go back to seething, because the wind’s blowing the other way, arming the teachers is a lot more likely to happen than disarming everybody. And nothing will happen, because you’ll waste the moment on something you wanted, rather than something that might work, but wouldn’t satisfy your gun ban jones.

        • Cranky Observer says

          This is another non-answer by Mr. Bellmore.

          As a reminder, the question was: “3800 deaths and the Citizens of the United States were willing to give up the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments along with the right of habeas corpus and the prohibition against Bills of Attainder. So I’m not sure why you think adjusting the 2nd Amendment in light of last year’s 12,000 homicides via firearm is unthinkable.”

          Cranky

      • navarro says

        cranky, the aclu has an operating budget of about $60 million to defend 7 or 8 amendments while the nra has $300 million to focus on only one.

        • Brett Bellmore says

          Yes, and that disparity is because the ACLU decided to sit out, when they’re not cheering for the wrong side, one of the biggest civil liberties fights around. Were it not for that, were the ACLU defending the 2nd amendment, it might have had that huge membership and enormous clout, to the benefit of all our civil liberties.

        • Cranky Observer says

          But don’t forget ACORN and the New Black Panthers – between them those groups must add $100 or even $200 to the fight.

          I understand what you are saying, but its not exactly where I’m headed. Personally I think the termination of the 4th and 5th Amendments and most of Article 9 are a long-term disaster for our society. What I’m pointing out however is that despite the fact that we are supposed to recite “…with liberty and justice for all” every day and sing “… the land of the free and the home of the brave” at every sporting event, we as a society decided within the space of 24 months to terminate the most hard-fought and exceptional provisions of the Constitution due to an attack that wouldn’t have reached the level of Cabinet notice in WWII. So the theory that the gun fetishists’ interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is widespread and unchangeable, while a good working hypothesis, is beside the point.

          Cranky

  6. Freeman says

    My wife’s facebook page just showed a picture of an armed teacher claiming Israeli teachers carry weapons to protect themselves and their students. While it is beyond tragic that it has come to this in our kindergartens, well-trained and armed faculty seems to me the most rational and effective response out of those I have seen offered.

    • Tony P. says

      What salaries would you be willing to pay for “well-trained and armed faculty”? Would you even think of taking away their union rights after you have trained them well and armed them?

      –TP

      • Freeman says

        I wouldn’t think of interfering with their Constitutional right to association whether they were actively exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms or not. I’m just stating what I believe to be the most practical and practicable response I’ve seen — what else would have had a better chance at preventing at least some of yesterday’s carnage?

        The police and SWAT team response was very quick, but not impossibly quick enough to have saved any lives. It is not necessary to train and arm every faculty member in order to enable a reasonable immediate-response self-defense of such a facility with a well-developed emergency threat response plan. As the stories of the unfolding of events come out, think of how things might have been very different if just one of the front-office administrators and/or one of the two teachers whose classrooms were shot up and/or the custodian who went down the halls warning classrooms had been armed and trained.

        To think that prohibitions could have more effectively kept those weapons out of the hands of that sicko in the first place is to engage in the sort of wishful thinking not required of and not conducive to effective self-defense. This world has always been a very dangerous place, humans a very dangerous species, and there has always been the need for self-defense. No law is ever going to change that.

        • Katja says

          A practical problem is that adding that many guns to a school environment may in the end cause more deaths than it prevents. There are millions of teachers in the US. Will they all be able to keep their guns safe all the time? You are also assuming that the teacher will be able to take out the shooter, and not vice versa. Bullets do not know about right and wrong. In a gunfight, the better (or luckier) shooter wins, which is not necessarily the one who has the law on their side.

          Mass school shootings where the killer goes on a continuing rampage (and can actually be stopped) are actually relatively rare. So it’s not certain that arming teachers wouldn’t do more harm than good.

          • Freeman says

            A practical problem is that adding that many guns to a school environment may in the end cause more deaths than it prevents. There are millions of teachers in the US. Will they all be able to keep their guns safe all the time?

            A fair point, which is why I stress the importance of training, and as I mentioned upthread, they don’t all need to be armed. Still, horrible accidents can and do happen even to trained professionals. Nonetheless, we saw fit to deputize and arm airline pilots after 9/11 and have yet to suffer tragic results from that decision.

            You are also assuming that the teacher will be able to take out the shooter, and not vice versa

            I expressed no such assumption. While I agree with you that nothing is certain, I do assume that the teacher’s odds of successfully defending herself and her charges would be vastly improved. Wouldn’t you agree? In a gunfight, the armed shooter is most likely to prevail over the unarmed, as evidenced by the fact that it’s played out that way every single time in these mass school shootings.

    • navarro says

      freeman, i would like to point up one difference between israel and here. in israel you have a citizenry which has almost all been through military service (which provides them with a great deal of traing in gun safety and gun use) and a society that puts up with checkpoints and searches for weapons in public places to an extent most americans can barely comprehend. i don’t know that there’s anywhere else on earth where a situation such as you describe could exist.

  7. NCG says

    Fwiw, I think nibbling away at the edges is the way to go. There is an inherent right to self-defense and a complete ban on guns seems unattainable, politically and practically. But I’m all for making it harder to kill. We should do as much as we can to ban automatic/semi (whatevers…), regulate the bleep out of ammo, make sure every last gun is registered and licensed all up the ying-yang, ban Internet sales and any flea market-type sales, and so forth. Background checks, waiting periods, etc. I think this is the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do (they don’t always go together), and electoral consequences be darned. None of these things “burden” the right to a Constitutional level. If people want to have some kind of looser rules for “inside” actual ranges, then whatever. But, out in the wild, we should be much stricter. The goal should be, make it so nutty people and/or, people with anger issues, can’t get guns so easily.

    However, politically, we as Americans have a very short memory. So, don’t hold your breath.

  8. Ebenezer Scrooge says

    The Democrats’ surrender on guns is just sound practical politics. They’re now competitive in much of the intermountain west (CO, NM, NV, increasingly AZ), and OH and PA are close enough so they can’t piss anybody off that they don’t have to. The southern swing states–FL, NC, and VA–may also be places where guns could really make an electoral difference. (I don’t think so–positions on guns down there tends to follow deeper tribal patterns.) You can’t expect any leadership from the Democrats on guns. They may appoint Supreme Court justices who won’t expand Heller and McDonald, but that’s about all you can expect from them.

    There is another way in which attempts at gun policy are unproductive. Gun worship is about one part lifestyle and four parts ressentiment. The ressentiment is fueled by class and gender anxiety, which is fueled by income inequality, especially with regard to ill-educated men. Ressentiment is a very difficult thing to attack directly–such direct attacks tend to reinforce the mindset. (See Palin, S.) Therefore, direct attempts at gun policy are doubly unproductive. They increase gun worship, and lose electoral votes and Senate seats for Democrats.

    I’d put most gun control policies on the shelf for a decade, except for a few easy delaying measures, and concentrate on the economy.

    • Keith Humphreys says

      Don’t forget West Virginia, a pro-union state that would have made Gore The President if he’d carried it in 2000, but he got tarred as anti-gun and he lost.

      • says

        The electorate would have made Gore President in 2000. So woul the Electoral College, but for the Supremos´ rigging.
        So, Keith and Ebenezer: you recommend Option A? 2,000 child deaths a year from guns is something American parents should just put up with to get wider health care and better job prospects?

        • Ebenezer Scrooge says

          Yes, James, I do recommend Option A. Gun control might be a collateral benefit of wider health care and better job prospects. Gun control is impossible in an era of masculine disappointment.

        • J. Michael Neal says

          Given what it would cost us to push it in a way that would give us a microscopic chance of making a difference, yes. I have no doubt whatsoever that America would be a better society if we had gun ownership levels similar to those in most of Europe. What I don’t see is any way to get there. What we could accomplish would be nibbling at the edges and would save far fewer than 2,000 children per year. In the meantime, the electoral losses we would suffer pushing it would kill a couple of orders of magnitude more people than than that.

          Comparisons to Dunblane are pointless. Gun ownership in Britain was far below that in the US and there was no significant political constituency deeply committed to opposing the laws that were passed.

        • Keith Humphreys says

          you recommend Option A? 2,000 child deaths a year from guns is something American parents should just put up with to get wider health care and better job prospects?

          No. I was making a more narrow point. If I note for example that the alcohol industry is strong enough to prevent tax increases that does not constitute the stance that tax increases are bad.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      “Gun worship is about one part lifestyle and four parts ressentiment.”

      I think you spell that “resentment”, as in, “I resent your attacks on my lifestyle.”

        • Brett Bellmore says

          I know what it means, I deny it is relevant. People don’t resent gun control out of some highfaluting psychological concept. They resent it because it’s an ongoing effort to destroy their culture and way of life, perpetrated by people who despise both.

          • Russell L. Carter says

            Not all cultures and ways of life are compatible with civilization. People using reasoning processes very similar to what you display here had a heartfelt attachment to slavery, as masters, for instance. Every one of their local Christian churches aided and abetted this intensively destructive behavior.

            I say this as a highly efficient hunter, trained in all firearms since I was a child. A side effect of being the offspring of two generations of gun dealers. And I recognized a cultural issue with the way you gun fanatics dealt with the Cheney episode. All the training goes out the window when the tribe is under assault, even when the perp is fully guilty.

          • Steven B. says

            And here we get to the heart of it – the paranoid personality fantasizing a minimal, reasonable, and rational response to endless mass murder as a personal attack on “lifestyle.” It’s a culture war, Brett? Really? Trying to take some minimal measures to limit somewhat the availability of long range instant killing machines, as a response to multiple and increasing massacres of complete innocents, is an attempt to “destroy [your] culture and way of life”? “[P]erpetrated” by people who “despise” this “way of life” (despite multiple assertions above of active participation in this ‘lifestyle’)? What lifestyle, and what culture, could possible argue against taking reasonable steps to prevent repeated massacres of innocent children? It’s childishly simple – guns kill easily. Just pull the trigger and….dead. If there are some reasonable steps we as a people can take to reduce the possibility of repeated massacres of innocent children, then we should probably be doing so. Reducing in some way the overall availability of incredibly deadly, easy-kill weapons is a sane, rational response to an out of control situation.

            But the “psychology” of the irrational gun nut (not rational gun owner) is on full display here. Hopefully this will be the face of the NRA response to this tragedy. We need to get this s**t out in the open.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            It isn’t paranoia if they’re really out to get you.

            You folks are in desperate need of a reality check here. 44 of the 50 states with 2nd amendment analogs. Most states having shall issue concealed carry. (And the handful of holdouts likely to face FF&C soon.) All gun control organizations combined not having a membership 10% of the NRA’s, even with massive subsidies buoying them.

            You’re spitting into the wind, and declaring it evidence of the world’s insanity that your face gets covered with spittle, instead of the wind changing direction.

            You’re declaring your position obvious, the only sane one, when it’s persuading practically nobody.

            I have met people raving about gold fringes on flags who had more capacity for objective introspection!

            Wake up and smell the coffee, people. Poke your heads out of your echo chamber, and realize: What you consider the only reasonable and obvious response, is a fringe position.

            It’s not fun realizing that you hold fringe views, I can sympathize, I do, too. But the center in this country on guns is a heck of a lot closer to me than to you, and you’d best find a way to accept that.

            Now, want to discuss improved mental health policy? Or just rave a bit more about repealing the 2nd amendment?

          • Russell L. Carter says

            Slavery was immensely popular along the metrics Brett cites, until it had to be got rid of. We can be quite certain that Brett would have gladly fought for the principle of slavery, if only from the evidence he routinely cites, and “principles” such as states rights. Actual people never matter. Just like a Communist. But in the big scheme of things, the patterns remain. The criminally obscene behavior, an example of here that Brett supports, goes on and on, until it doesn’t.

  9. says

    Since you’re taking comments – I’d vote for a complete repeal of the 2nd Amendment and a near-total ban on the private ownership of firearms (shooting ranges are fine, and there may also be special individual situations requiring a license to carry, but not many).

    The ability to own guns, like the ability to own anything else (humans excepted), certainly falls under the generic category of “freedom”. Yet for most sane people, it’s somewhat less important a freedom than the ability to own a television or a cellphone or a car. We don’t have a constitutional clause guaranteeing one’s right to internet access, or even health care – why do we need one for weaponry? Surely, the notion that pistols can protect one from a tyrannical government has expired, by now.

    Being able to live in a society where crazy people don’t have easy access to inexpensive weapons of mass murder is also an important right, I think.

    • Zach says

      It’s odd that the protection-from-government-tyranny argument is so strong. An early national law required all men of age to buy a gun, powder and ammunition (this came up in the context of the Obamacare debate as it was a mandate that people buy stuff). The goal was to arm a citizen militia for the purpose of national defense (much like Switzerland). When was this conception of the militia replaced with one in which individuals and states arm themselves against the Federal government?

  10. SamChevre says

    What about looking at First Amendment rights rather than Second?

    Since copycatting seems to be a portion of the trigger in many mass shootings, what about banning any non-print coverage of such shootings by organizations with a broadcast license? So newspaper articles are fine, but no TV coverage and no radio coverage.

    • MobiusKlein says

      “Seems to be a portion” is exceedingly vague.
      The actual deaths caused by gun are definite.

      That is why no First Amendment questions are raised. If you can prove it, come back and we’ll have the 1st amendment debate.

  11. Freeman says

    Being able to live in a society where crazy people don’t have easy access to inexpensive weapons of mass murder is also an important right, I think.

    There are any number of inexpensive ways to quickly kill a few dozen helpless children confined in a classroom with a single unarmed teacher to defend them. The sicko could have almost as easily killed his child victims with a rock or a hammer. The society you dream of a right to simply doesn’t exist, never has (didn’t Cain kill Abel with a rock?), and never will.

    • navarro says

      recently in china a man attacked children at a school and managed to injure 22 students but did not kill any of them. he used a knife. if you use a knife or a hammer or a rock it takes time to kill another person, even a child, that a gun does not require. and while a killer is at work beating or stabbing the first victim to death there is time for others to flee. if the killer throws the knife or the rock at a fleeing target, he has disarmed himself until he gets to the victim and can reclaim his weapon. if i were a deranged individual sitting at the side of a darkened theater with a knife i might have been able to kill two people in the time it has taken me to type out this comment. if i had a revolver or a bolt action rifle i might have been able to kill 6 or 7 people in that time. if i have a semi-automatic rifle with a 50 round clip i might have been able to kill 20 or 30, assuming i have no interest in lingering over each kill. i don’t think we will ever be able to prevent the deliberate killing of people by people but i don’t think that’s the point.

        • navarro says

          so freeman, just out of curiosity, how many places are there where you live where it is possible to buy bombs and sarin gas? i don’t think even the nra has lobbied for the sale and ownership of those items. while nerve gas and bombs can make a higher body count than attacks with guns (although i think the 160 or so mcveigh killed represents the upper bound for the motivated truck bomber), guns are also much more prevalent in our country than either bombs or sarin. so basically the coverage of your position is to compare my apples to your tire rims. i hardly consider what you’re saying up there to be relevant to my point much less a reply to it.

          • Freeman says

            Sheesh navarro, just out of curiosity, do you need help with following links or is it reading and comprehending the content you’re having trouble with?

            Your “apples” I responded to was this:
            recently in china a man attacked children at a school and managed to injure 22 students but did not kill any of them. he used a knife. if you use a knife or a hammer or a rock it takes time to kill another person, even a child, that a gun does not require.

            The “tire rims” I linked to in the comment I linked to:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akihabara_massacre 3 dead by car, 7 by knife.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osaka_school_massacre 8 schoolchildren killed by a knife.
            http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/07/aurora_shooting_how_did_people_commit_mass_murder_before_automatic_weapons_.html mentions an case where 6 were killed and 15 wounded with a pair of knives.
            “Guns aren’t even the most lethal mass murder weapon. According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects
            [rocks and hammers, anyone?], and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident.

            So no, I didn’t compare apples to tire rims, I quite clearly compared knives and blunt objects to knives and blunt objects. Since the mention of sarin gas that you used to accuse me of false comparison only appears on the page I linked to it is obvious that you managed to follow the links there, so I can only assume you are being deliberately obtuse in completely ignoring everything relevant to our conversation to be found there. You know, I’d say “you have neither the gravitas nor the moral authority” to reproach others for “the execrable way you approach commenting and discussion on this site“.

          • navarro says

            except that your source is a book that was published in 2007 and since then, in the listings i have been able to locate, there have been 20 mass killings of which 19 were carried out with firearms and 1 was carried out by a combination of firearm and fire. if a new edition of that book were written today it is probable that both the average number of deaths per incident and the percentage of incidents involving firearms would be higher. and while, yes, there were some incidents involving knives mentioned in the site you linked to there was also mention made of the sarin attack and i believe you led off your reply to cranky up above with the bomb in the bath school incident. or am i having trouble reading and comprehending your content as well?

            as for gravitas and moral authority, i make no claims to standing. i only offer observations based on my reason guided by my experience.

          • Freeman says

            except that your source is a book that was published in 2007 and since then, in the listings i have been able to locate, there have been 20 mass killings of which 19 were carried out with firearms and 1 was carried out by a combination of firearm and fire. if a new edition of that book were written today it is probable that both the average number of deaths per incident and the percentage of incidents involving firearms would be higher.

            So, can you point to another study supporting your claim or do you expect me to take what you assume is “probable” from a cursory search for data since the book was published on blind faith in your assumption? That’s a mighty weak “except” if you have nothing more to back it up.

            and while, yes, there were some incidents involving knives mentioned in the site you linked to there was also mention made of the sarin attack

            Yes, which I acknowledged when I pointed out that you deliberately ignored every single mention of knives in order to use the mention of sarin to accuse me of false comparison to your mention of …knives.

            and i believe you led off your reply to cranky up above with the bomb in the bath school incident

            Do you suppose that could be because I was originally replying to Cranky, and not you, in the comment I linked to? I told you that my reply to Cranky covered my position on the efficacy of knives as a weapon of mass murder because it was all there and I didn’t see any point in duplicating the relevant parts, which I (apparently mistakenly) assumed you would be capable of identifying on your own.

            or am i having trouble reading and comprehending your content as well?

            I wouldn’t venture to hazard a guess at this point.

          • navarro says

            let me offer you the following information which can be gathered at the cdc website which gathers and reports on violent deaths in the united states. ( http://wisqars.cdc.gov:8080/nvdrs/nvdrsDisplay.jsp )

            based on the most recent data from 2009 there were a total of 16,418 violent reported in the 16 states that are part of that survey–Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin–which are fairly representative of the various regions and population types in the u.s. of that number, 13,876 were reported as homicide, suicide, or homicide followed by suicide. deaths by firearm represented 55.8% of that amount. the second most common means of intentional violent death in that year was hanging/strangulation/suffocation representing 18.5% of deaths, third was poisoning with 12.7%, fourth was cut/pierce/stab with sharp instrument with 5.1* of the total, and in 5th place is struck by/against which includes all blunt instruments including hands and feet with 3.2% of the total. i realize that this does not single out mass killings such as the ones you pointed to and is; therefore, not directly comparable to what you were talking about but i do think it is suggestive of 2 things–

            first, it suggests that, indeed, it is possible to inflict deadly violence on another person with a hammer. it also suggests that in practice it is nearly 18 times more likely for one to be intentionally killed with a firearm than one is to be killed with a hammer, even if all the blunt force injury deaths reported that year were caused by a hammer. if you don’t trust my math, which could be faulty i suppose, you are welcome to go to the website i listed above. i filtered for intent by selecting homicide, suicide, and homicide followed by suicide which i selected to weed out accidental deaths and then went through all listed causes in turn starting with all injury to have the ability to calculate percentages. it is also possible to examine reports for the years 2005-2008 and going through those years might indicate some trends. allow me to conclude with this thought. yes, it is possible to kill another person with a knife or a hammer. it is also much easier to kill another person with a firearm and one is much more likely to be killed with a firearm than with a hammer. if there is some aspect of my methodology or my arithmetic that is faulty i will appreciate hearing about it so i can correct the information for my own records.

          • Freeman says

            And it suggests to me that the odds of being murdered with a firearm vs. the odds of being murdered some other way remain statistically nearly equivalent. A slight rise within a standard deviation when a single year’s data on 16 states is compared to 100 years on the entire country doesn’t mean much. A year-by-year graph would be interesting.

          • navarro says

            “And it suggests to me that the odds of being murdered with a firearm vs. the odds of being murdered some other way remain statistically nearly equivalent. A slight rise within a standard deviation when a single year’s data on 16 states is compared to 100 years on the entire country doesn’t mean much. A year-by-year graph would be interesting.”

            i can’t quite agree with what you wrote above. if it were rewritten slightly i could. could you agree to the following rewrite?

            And it suggests to me that the odds of being murdered with a firearm vs. the odds of being murdered in all other ways remain statistically nearly equivalent. A slight rise within a standard deviation when a single year’s data on 16 states when compared to 100 years on the entire country might not mean much. A year-by-year graph would be interesting.

          • navarro says

            i’ve gone back to the nvdrs website and after 16 hours waiting for a spare tcp port i’ve gone back and collected data from all 5 of the years 2005-2009 that they have available for the 16 states in the survey which are all mentioned above and compiled the percentage of intentional killings in each of those years which were due to firearms, due to sharp instruments, and due to blunt objects–

            2005:
            firearm–57.4%
            sharp–5.8%
            blunt–3.5%

            2006:
            firearm–56.2%
            sharp–6.0%
            blunt–3.2%

            2007:
            firearm–55.9%
            sharp–5.6%
            blunt–3.5%

            2008:
            firearm–55.8%
            sharp–6.0%
            blunt–3.4%

            2009:
            firearms–55.8%
            sharp–5.1%
            blunt–3.2%

            with 5 year averages of:
            firearms–56.2%
            sharp–5.8%
            blunt–3.4%

            indicating that over that five year period one would be 16.5 times more likely to be intentionally killed by a firearm than intentionally beaten to death, 9.7 times as likely to be intentionally killed by a firearm than to be intentionally stabbed or cut to death, and 1.3 times more likely to be killed with a firearm to be intentionally killed by all other means put together. if that doesn’t seem statistically significant i’d like to know what measurement you are using to measure significance, the results of your calculations, and your confidence interval.

          • Freeman says

            Nice work. I’m truly impressed.

            As far as statistical significance goes, a few comments:
            1) It’s a bit of apples-to-oranges here, because we’re comparing homicide statistics with mass-murder statistics, though I couldn’t say how that affects the comparison.
            2) 56.2% homicides by firearm isn’t what I’d consider statistically much different from the 52% mass murder by firearm stat which I cited, particularly given the differences in data sets that the numbers are derived from.

            In any case, it seems we are in general agreement with respect to the homicide-by-firearm rate.

            The point I tried to make here was that I believe self-defense is likely to be more effective than gun control in preventing and mitigating school shootings. I’m not beating up on gun control, I’m just explaining why I think self-defense is more effective in this situation. I’ll leave the gun-control advocacy to the rest of the RBC, who are much more enthusiastic about it than I.

            If guns are that much more efficient killing machines than other common methods readily available to most everyone, why don’t they produce statistically much higher victim-per-murder-spree numbers than knives, blunt objects, and bare hands, claiming only 0.4 more lives per spree? Fire killed 1.9 more per spree than firearms — maybe we should heavily tax matches and lighters.

            Again, if guns are that much easier and more efficient, why are they only used in a little over half the murders, single and especially mass murders? If you’re murdered, it’s almost as likely to be done without a gun than with one.

            Seems somewhat counter-intuitive, and I don’t know the answers, but it seems to me that even if it were possible to completely remove all firearms from society, I can’t say that our schools would be any safer. Without guns wouldn’t psychos bent on mass murder just use something else, and given these statistics couldn’t we expect similar results? What if the use of fire became the next-best thing — that could raise the death rate. Perhaps we’d only save the lives of more perpetrators — I’ll bet it’s a LOT harder to kill yourself with a rock, hammer, or even a knife than a gun (and forget about bare hands). Or maybe IED’s would fill the void. Personally, I wouldn’t expect a psycho to just give up on the whole mass murder idea the voices are constantly whispering in his head just because guns weren’t available.

            But we can’t wish it away or legislate it away. All we can hope for are partial measures of questionable effectiveness. I think self-defense measures have a lot more chance of preventing and mitigating this particular phenomenon. For one thing, well-defended schools would no longer be the soft targets these sorts of cowards prefer.

          • navarro says

            the only thing that seems counter-intuitive to me is your apparent nonchalance about a mode of intentional killing that is more common than all other modes of intentional killing combined by a margin of 56.2 to 43.8 over the course of 5 years. and even if that sample of 16 states with a population of 80 million cannot be guaranteed to be representative of all 50 states it certainly seems to suggest something. i also note that 2 of your examples of knife attack took place in japan, a country with very little private gun ownership and very strict gun regulations and that in another of the examples you used, the borel case, while three of the victims were bludgeoned, members of his household taken by surprise, 2 of those three were shot either immediately before or after the blunt force attack and the rest of his victims were shot.

            i agree that people have been killing each other for all of recorded history and probably for long before that. still, i find it somewhat silly to have gone to the lengths i have gone to convince a literate adult that guns are remarkably efficient and effective machines for the destruction of life to such little apparent effect. i’ve reached a point where i must say i can no longer argue with logic such as yours and let it go at that.

          • Freeman says

            It’s not nonchalance, it’s facing facts. You want to tilt at windmills you’re free to go right on with it. I’d like to see some self-defense capabilities developed among the faculty at the schools my grandchildren attend, just in case you are somehow unable to get guns, knives, rocks, and hammers out of the hands of psychos.

            i also note that 2 of your examples of knife attack took place in japan, a country with very little private gun ownership and very strict gun regulations

            Yeah, that was kinda one of my points — if guns aren’t available the psychos will just use something else. Thank you for noticing.

    • J. Michael Neal says

      The sicko could have almost as easily killed his child victims with a rock or a hammer.

      Please explain why anyone takes you seriously.

        • Steven B. says

          JMN’s point stands. This blog is a cut above the rest of blogistan. To equate incredibly efficient, deadly, and easy to use killing machines such as guns to “rocks” and “hammers” is juvenile. You can defend your inane assertions all you want; they’re still inane, and will be treated as such. Noone disputes the ability to kill with blunt instruments. Said instruments are in no way comparable to the killing efficiency of guns. You’re repeatedly introducing stupid arguments into what could be a fruitful discussion, thereby derailing it. This, then, makes you the troll. Specifically.

          • Freeman says

            What part of this are you having trouble comprehending?

            According to data compiled by Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, guns killed an average of 4.92 victims per mass murder in the United States during the 20th century, just edging out knives, blunt objects [rocks and hammers, anyone?], and bare hands, which killed 4.52 people per incident.

            Statistically speaking, guns, knives, blunt objects, and bare hands turn out to be “incredibly efficient, deadly, and easy to use killing machines” of statistically equivalent effectiveness when real-world data from a century of mass murders are analyzed. My point stands, and rather than bolster your position with rational argument, all your juvenile name-calling only serves to expose your boorishness. To the extent that this blog can be said to be “a cut above the rest of blogistan”, it certainly can’t be attributed to comments like yours.

          • Anonymous says

            This, then, makes you the troll. Specifically.

            I am not sure why people have been so slow to come to this about Freeman, he is a troll through and through, a junior Brett Bellmore…stop feeding the beast everyone, ignore ignore ignore

          • Freeman says

            Anonymous,

            Please point to any comment I’ve left here which you feel is inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

            Please also defend your comment about me by the same standards. How is your childish name-calling on-topic and not primarily intended to provoke an emotional response?

            From Wikipedia:
            In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

          • Ray says

            +1 to Anonymous on Freeman. Freeman’s “defense” in response makes clear he just does not get it. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a troll. It just means he is a very sad case.

          • Freeman says

            Ray: +1 to Anonymous on Freeman. Freeman’s “defense” in response makes clear he just does not get it. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a troll. It just means he is a very sad case.

            Again with the ad hominem drive-by’s.

            I’m backing up my position with references and data. You guys are doing nothing more than hurling childish insults. If anyone has a reasoned critique to offer on anything I have to say here, I’m more than happy to discuss the issues on the merits. But to only offer such rebuttal as “Please explain why anyone takes you seriously” and “your arguments are inane and stupid” and “he’s a troll” or a “he’s very sad case” who clearly “does not get it” are not conducive to rational discourse absent at the very least some sort of indication what it is you disagree with and some rational reason why. Even better — offer up a proposal of your own and debate the relative merits of the two positions. I suggested something along the lines of a federal flight deck officers program for public school faculty, what have you guys got to offer as an alternative?

            Grow up guys, this isn’t junior high school.

        • Cranky Observer says

          You didn’t even come close. We’ve had 3 gun massacres in the last three weeks, and 11,000 homicides by gun in 2011 alone.

          Cranky

          You also introduced the “mass murder by hammer” theory and were then unable to back it up.

          • Freeman says

            And once again, Cranky shows that he is incapable of good faith.

            The challenge was, in it’s entirety:

            = = = Freeman @ 3:41 pm “OK, suppose he grabs Brett’s hammer from the garage and bludgeons the little old lady next door to death.

            Blaming the weapon is pointless.” = = =

            Please provide examples of five well-documented instances of mass murder by hammer. Because there have been five such incidents using firearms in the United States this quarter.

            As ridiculous and pointless as the challenge was, it was easily met. Poor Cranky just can’t accept that he was wrong. How pathetic.

  12. Robert says

    The right of the people to keep and bear muskets is clearly constitutionally protected. The right to keep and bear a suitcase nuke, not so much.

    • says

      This observation may offer the one politically saleable way forward. It´s illegal to own machine guns (identified with mobsters) and SAMs (identified with Terrorists). So even though this massacre was not it saeems perpetrated with an assault rifle, banning them, or widening existing bans, may be a way to start. The NRA absolutism on these is so absurd – they don´t make sense for hunting or self-defence, just paramilitary fantasising – that it looks like overrreach. Start inflicting defeats on it. Target its friends in Congress.

      • navarro says

        it’s actually legal to own a machine gun if you’re willing to jump through some hoops like a much deeper background check than the brady law requires, paying for a certificate, and then paying for a tax stamp for each machine gun, silencer, or sawed off shotgun. i’d be happy to accept that paradigm for regulating assault rifles and clips with a capacity for more than, say, 16-20 rounds. as the hunters i grew up around in texas were fond of telling me each year at deer camp–”if you can’t hit it on your first shot you shouldn’t have been shooting at in the first place.”

      • SP says

        According to the latest NYT story he used a semiautomatic rifle. Also had two semiauto pistols but did not use them.

    • GiT says

      Actually, even that’s not so clear. The right of the people to maintain a well-regulated militia is clearly constitutionally protected. Whether that entails an individual right to have a musket is unclear.

  13. Zach says

    I have an alternative take on Option B; the only path I see towards repealing the 2nd amendment is one that first recognizes that the only reasonable reading of the 2nd amendment, post-Heller, is that the government cannot restrict weapons ownership in any way.

    So, attack Scalia’s twisted rationale in Heller that says that we have a universal right to handguns without trigger locks but no right to automatic rifles because handguns are so obviously 21st-century muskets. There are three literal interpretations of the 2nd amendment that make sense to me:
    A. Gun rights exist to protect individuals and/or states from Federal overreach
    B. Gun rights exist to enable individuals and/or states to contribute to national defense.

    B makes more sense than A in the context of early American history (e.g. laws mandating individuals to purchase gun, powder and ammunition to support the militia), but folks tend to lean towards A for some reason. Either way, there’s no reasonable way to limit this to handguns. If someone showed up during the Civil War and offered Gen. Grant a cruise missile I think he would’ve gladly accepted the support. Basically, if my right to bear arms stems from the utility of providing weapons for my own defense, the defense of my state, or the defense of my country, it’s difficult to see how this right should be limited in any way (except perhaps when it comes to existentially threatening non-conventional weapons).

    I don’t see how we get to an acceptable level of gun violence so long as everyone not convicted of a felony can purchase handguns with few restrictions (Heller sets a very high bar for any restrictions). I also don’t see a path towards popular support for 2nd-amendment repeal given current levels of gun violence. However, take the Heller decision and strip Scalia’s weak attempts to limit gun rights and you end up with the sort of maximalist gun rights that could actually lead to a popular call for revising the 2nd amendment.

    Is there a second-amendment-repeal movement at all? It would be nice to see Bloomberg put some of his money towards this. It might be a lost cause, but it wouldn’t be a totally wasted effort as the required organization would be useful for related legislative battles.

    • navarro says

      interesting use of reductio ad absurdum. very useful in math. i do have a question, did you mean to say that there are three literal interpretations as you wrote or that there are two literal interpretations as you listed?

      • Zach says

        Sorry; that wasn’t so well thought out. I meant the third interpretation to be that the militia both protects individuals and states from the Feds and serves the national defense (C=A+B as I wrote it, I suppose). Those would be my three options of reading the 2nd amendment if I were in Scalia’s position, anyway… that is, if I were on the Court and of the belief that it is most important that modern law mostly closely reflect what James Madison might have thought of what the Bill of Rights literally meant after BIll & Ted showed up and gave him a quick tour of American history.

        • Anonymous says

          Isn’t there a case for repealing the 2nd amendment on the grounds of obsolescence, regardless of the interpretation of the original intent?

          1. The security of the Nation: The security of the USA is not guaranteed by militias but by a very large, well equipped and well trained professional army. I doubt that countries thinking of challenging the USA are worried about what good ol’ boys in Montana will do. They do worry about what the Pentagon will do.

          2. The security of the State against the federal government: The Civil War put paid to that myth. This is even more so now. No state national guard could stand up against the US military for very long.

          3. The security of the individual against an oppressive state and/or federal government: Same as above except more blatant. The Montana national guard could claim it would make things difficult for the US military even it it can’t win outright. The Montana Patriotic Minutemen of Freedom Citizen Militia can’t even claim that. Having an ex-soldier teach 30 or so overweight fantasists http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7944563/The-truth-behind-Americas-civilian-militias.html
          how to slit throats makes that group dangerous for cops but not for a modern military who would just uses drones on the idiots.

  14. Black cat says

    The post links to a list of countries by firearm-related death rate. There are a number of countries with a fairly similar rate of suicide using firearms, but all have a much lower rate of homicide than the US. I’d like to understand why.

    • Black cat says

      Also, I bet that most of the countries with a much higher rate of homicide have a lower overall rate of gun ownership. How come?

      Here’s the challenge: can we demonstrate using data that the rate of gun ownership and/or the type of guns that people can purchase affects the rate of firearm related homicides? (assuming that a fair number of guns is in circulation — it’s trivially that if we could magically eliminate all guns we would thereby also eliminate firearm related homicides).

      Another piece of evidence I’d like to see is the rate of non-firearm related homicides. Is the US simply a more violent society than other developed countries (in which case gun laws are irrelevant), or is it special only in the rate of violence committed with the use of firearms?

  15. Betsy says

    Second amendment refers to “the people.” If the drafters had meant “persons” they would have used that word. “People” is a noun referring to a group; it is not the plural of “person,” although it has come to be used that way in recent years. The distinction however was quite clear in the late 1700s.

  16. Ken says

    This is one area where I am in favor of complete federalism — What is appropriate for the wide open spaces of Wyoming, Nevada, and Montana is obviously very different from what is appropriate in New York, Los Angeles, or the Connecticut suburbs. Let the states and municipalities control what is allowed within their own limits; have the Federal role to be to strictly regulate transfers across state lines, by requiring that any person purchasing a gun must show that they are legal residents of a state that allows them to own it. Shut down the unregulated gun shows, and prohibit any sale or transfer by anyone other than a licensed dealer. Will this work? I don’t know, but I believe it must be better than what we have now.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      Any other CIVIL LIBERTIES you want to treat this way? Maybe let the South have local option on the 14th amendment?

      • Anonymous says

        Anyone notice how Brett expresses no sadness/regret over the slaughter of children? Martyrs for freedom, I guess. p.s. Brett, they were White, does that make it important to you?

        • navarro says

          in the comments to a post about the trayvon martin shooting it took the concerted efforts of multiple commenters to get brett to admit that, just possibly, it was unfortunate that martin was killed. i don’t expect to see much sympathy for the victims here either.

      • Cranky Observer says

        = = = Brett Bellmore @ 9:49 am: “Any other CIVIL LIBERTIES you want to treat this way?” = = =

        ___

        OLIVIA ENGEL, 6

        Images of Olivia Rose Engel show a happy child, one with a great sense of humor, as her family said in a statement. There she is, visiting with Santa Claus, or feasting on a slice of birthday cake. Or swinging a pink baseball bat, posing on a boat, or making a silly face.

        Olivia loved school, did very well in math and reading, and was “insightful for her age,” said the statement released by her uncle, John Engel.

        She was a child who “lit up a room and the people around her.” Creative with drawing and designing, she was also a tennis and soccer player and took art classes, swimming, and dance lessons in ballet and hip hop. A Daisy Girl Scout, she enjoyed musical theater.

        “She was a great big sister and was always very patient with her 3 year old brother, Brayden,” her family said, recalling that her favorite colors were purple and pink.

        Olivia was learning the rosary and always led grace before the family dinner. “She was a grateful child who was always appreciative and never greedy,” the family said.

        �Her father said she was a 6-year-old who had a lot to look forward to.

        Dan Merton, a longtime friend of the girl’s family, recalled that she loved attention, had perfect manners and was a teacher’s pet.

        “Her only crime,” he said, “is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”

        ___

        DAWN HOCHSPRUNG, 47, principal

        Dawn Hochsprung’s pride in Sandy Hook Elementary was clear. She regularly tweeted photos from her time as principal there, giving indelible glimpses of life at a place now known for tragedy. Just this week, it was an image of fourth-graders rehearsing for their winter concert; days before that, the tiny hands of kindergartners exchanging play money at their makeshift grocery store.

        She viewed her school as a model, telling The Newtown Bee in 2010 that “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day.” She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, too, and in October, the 47-year-old Hochsprung shared a picture of the school’s evacuation drill with the message “safety first.” When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.

        Officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him.

        “She had an extremely likable style about her,” said Gerald Stomski, first selectman of Woodbury, where Hochsprung lived and had taught. “She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here.”

        ___

        MADELEINE HSU, 6

        Dr. Matthew Velsmid was at Madeleine’s house on Saturday, tending to her stricken family. He said the family did not want to comment.

        Velsmid said that after hearing of the shooting, he went to the triage area to provide medical assistance but there were no injuries to treat.

        “We were waiting for casualties to come out, and there was nothing. There was no need, unfortunately,” he said. “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into, by far.”

        Velsmid’s daughter, who attends another school, lost three of her friends.
        __

        (via Huffington Post)