Obama on guns

I suspected that Obama would keep it fairly simple: background checks, real penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchasing, high-capacity magazines, tracing, data, research. Other than the magazines provision, none of that would have any impact on the acquisition and use of firearms by people entitled to possess them. That would have made it obvious how unreasonable the NRA is, and probably split the House Republicans enough to get something through. That might still happen if the Senate breaks the program down into bite-sized pieces.

Instead, the President went wide and big: all of the above, plus a renewed assault weapons ban, stiffer sanctions for gun trafficking, prosecution for ineligible felons who try to buy guns, money to hire extra cops, school security and counselors, and some sort of mental-health agenda.

Still, when Wayne LaPierre says “It’s about banning your guns … PERIOD!” he is obviously Saying The Thing That Is Not. As with the Romney campaign, reporters will have to decide whether to report the falsity of the charge in the same sentence in which they report the charge. Add that to the utterly over-the-top ad targeting Sasha and Malia, and we could finally see the NRA start to lose some of its power.

The same applies to the reflexive Republican accusation that Obama is trying to seize dictatorial power by using his authority as the head of the Executive Branch to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” As far as I can tell, none of the executive actions he announced today gets anywhere near the line.

Substantively, the minimalist agenda had most of the feasible items likely to actually reduce gun violence. (Not clear that a ban on selling new high-capacity magazines would matter much, but it, plus the AWB, provides a nexus to Newtown. Everyone has to wrestle with the fact that the event that put guns back on the political agenda is so atypical that good legislation will mostly be about something else. An Australian-style ban might or might not work, but it’s nowhere near feasible politically.)

More cops on the street are generally a good investment, especially if they’re used in ways that reduce, rather than increasing, the incarceration rate. And of course anything that prevents state and local layoffs from acting as a drag on economic recover is to be supported. But that’s hardly central here.

What’s done is done, and the battle lines are now drawn. This may serve as the first test of the Obama campaign organization’s capacity to mobilize voters for other purposes. Looking forward to 2014, that could be as important as the substance of gun policy.

Footnote I hope Harry Reid gives his colleagues a chance to vote on a resolution condemning the NRA for using the President’s children in an attack ad.

Comments

  1. Brett Bellmore says

    “Still, when Wayne LaPierre says “It’s about banning your guns … PERIOD!” he is obviously Saying The Thing That Is Not.”

    Too subtle for you to appreciate, perhaps, but “the thing that is not” and “the thing that is not yet aren’t quite the same. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”, and the time to object to a journey you don’t want to take is at the first step, not the last. Those of us who refuse this journey are under no obligation to pretend we don’t know where it’s headed until we get there.

    Prior to the election, had LaPierre predicted that, once the election was safely past, Obama would come out with sweeping new gun control proposals, (He did just that.) you’d have said the same, given that Obama was denying it at the time. But it would have been LaPierre, not you, who’d have been right.

    “As far as I can tell, none of the executive actions he announced today gets anywhere near the line.”

    Oh, really?

    • Dennis says

      Do engineers ever learn logic?

      Have you ever heard of a slippery slope argument? Have you heard of a post hoc fallacy?

      You do not and cannot know that this sort of action inevitably leads to gun confiscation from law-abiding citizens. The burden of proof is on you and the NRA, Brett.

      Obama did not have a gun control agenda on his list until the reaction to the Newtown slaughter placed it there. So you’re either saying LaPierre is prescient and knew that a bunch of kids would be murdered, or you’re saying that Obama arranged for Newtown to happen (or knew it would happen and did nothing to prevent it).

      Be happy that it’s Obama in the White House. If it were me, I would call for a ban on autoloaders with external magazines and a buy-back program to get the extant weapons off the street. I would also call to limit internal magazines for autoloaders to 3 rounds.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        I not only learned logic, I learned to minimize Karnaugh maps. ;) I also learned there’s more to life than what can be rigorously proven from first principles.

        “Obama did not have a gun control agenda on his list until the reaction to the Newtown slaughter placed it there.”

        Utter BS. He had a gun control agenda awaiting two things: The last opportunity to oust him from office having passed, and a suitable excuse. That some excuse would come along was as predictable as any statistical event, it’s not as though all crime with guns would cease on November 3rd. We predicted he’d go after gun control shortly after the election, he did. Point to us, not you.

        “Be happy that it’s Obama in the White House. If it were me, I would call for a ban on autoloaders with external magazines and a buy-back program to get the extant weapons off the street. I would also call to limit internal magazines for autoloaders to 3 rounds.”

        Sure, when you’re wishing for what you don’t have the power to get, why not wish for the Moon?

        • matt w says

          “That some excuse would come along was as predictable as any statistical event, it’s not as though all crime with guns would cease on November 3rd.”

          Man, somehow “It was statistically inevitable that sometime soon after Obama’s reelection there would be a horrific mass killing with guns” is not striking me as an especially strong anti-gun-control talking point.

        • Matt says

          Fine. He had a gun control agenda from the beginning. But his gun control agenda is not aimed at your slippery-slope conclusion. He is not aiming to realize your apocalyptic, paranoid fiction that justifies your dislike of him and his positions. He (like most Americans) supports sensible gun ownership that keeps our kids and families safe.

        • Dennis says

          What evidence do you have (beyond Fox and NRA induced paranoia) that Obama had a gun control agenda?

          Utter BS. He had …

          That’s a post-hoc fallacy.

          Brett, explain to me under what circumstances you need a gun that shoots more than three rounds? The only one I can think of is rapid-fire competition pistol shooting.

          • Andrew Laurence says

            When two people kick down your door and you fire at one of them and miss, then fire at the other and wing him/her.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            “What evidence do you have (beyond Fox and NRA induced paranoia) that Obama had a gun control agenda?”

            What, you mean besides his candidate questionnaires, voting record, public statements, behavior of his Supreme court nominees, past employment, and who he associates with? Besides that, not much except that he just demonstrated it.

            “That’s a post-hoc fallacy.”

            I think you just demonstrated that you don’t actually understand what a post-hoc fallacy is. A post hoc fallacy is to presume that because Y follows X, you have logically proven that Y was caused by X. It would, both literally and ironically, be a post hoc fallacy to claim that Obama’s gun control policies following Newtown means they were caused by Newtown. Really, it would be, do you understand that?

            I find that your average liberal has about as firm a grasp of genuine logic, where it applies, and the limitations of it’s application beyond formal argument, as they do of thermodynamics. And nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the routine reference to logical fallacies either inaccurately, or out of their proper context.

          • Warren Terra says

            Brett, are you truly so disconnected from reality that you cannot understand that the woman emptied her gun into the intruder and possibly into the general vicinity? That isn’t a case of her needing more bullets; possibly she needed more training. It’s far from clear that the third, fourth, fifth or sixth shot made any material difference, and if she’d had even more shots she’d probably have fired them, as well. The guy panicked and fled, and was unconscious within a minute or two. It’s fairly likely she could have achieved the same result – except, admittedly, for the car crash – with a single warning shot, or even with less.

          • Dennis says

            Brett,

            There is a big difference between a politician’s legislative agenda and their personal beliefs and opinions.

            I don’t doubt for a moment that the President would prefer an approach to gun control that makes more sense than the loop-hole filled approach we have now. That doesn’t mean that he intended to push for it. It’s pretty clear to me that he had no intention of putting it on his agenda until Newtown forced his hand.

            The post-hoc fallacy I was referring is your belief that the President’s actions post-Newton prove he had a prior legislative agenda. As noted above, personal preferences do not make a legislative agenda.

    • kellandros says

      It took me a bit to catch what your ‘oh really’ was about, one line in a article on a very different point.

      “Language was also inserted into the centers’ appropriations bill that remains in place today: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” ”

      vs.

      “lifting the ban on federal research on gun violence”

      The ban is about restricting what conclusions can be reached, not directly forbidding research (instead departments have been leery of even being accused of touching that line). You could argue the 2 are the same, but that presupposes that the only conclusion that could be reached is that guns lead to more problems than they prevent. Isn’t it better to know when and how firearms can be used to prevent tragedies, and when they can’t?

      Why shouldn’t we do in-depth analysis and research on deaths related to gun violence? We track the effects of illegal drugs, alcohol, traffic accidents, and many other things too. Better research could also be used for the pro-gun side, to give specific reasons why some of the new proposed restrictions won’t work or make no difference- I would guess that better mental health resources would be the least effective (in the short term at least) of the items proposed.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        “Why shouldn’t we do in-depth analysis and research on deaths related to gun violence?”

        Because it keeps getting used as an occasion to generate propaganda, instead of real research.

        And because maybe the Center for Disease Control has some diseases it needs to work on?

        • Warren Terra says

          I’m just guessing here, but if I wanted to look at mortality, injury, disability, and outcomes – basically, if I wanted high quality epidemiology, with access to clinical data – and I had access to the federal workforce, I’d probably ask the CDC to take a whack at it. I’d also get some criminologists, sociologists, and other professionals, but I’d be nuts not to include some top-flight epidemiologists, and the CDC woul be the obvious place to find them. And if the CDC turns out not to have enough resources to study the causes of death in this country, my answer probably wouldn’t be to ask them to study fewer causes of death.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            Yes, if there were not a history of their producing propaganda on this subject, if there were some reason to think they were actually going to do it objectively, it might be worth while. These are counter-factuals.

          • navarro says

            what brett’s really saying here is that because actual data would seriously undermine his position he is desperate to make sure that the agency that routinely studies data for a wide variety of causes of injury and mortality can’t study firearms injuries.

          • SamChevre says

            As an example of why the pro-gun people (of whom I’m one) don’t trust the CDC, try to find data from the CDC that separates gun injuries into accidents, crimes, and suicide attempts. Inevitably, you end up with all the injuries lumped together, in a way that succeeds in making most people misbelieve that all the injuries are accidents.

          • kellandros says

            What else does the CDC focus on that are not really diseases (i.e. not viral or bacterial infections)?

            Looking at their website I see:

            ADHD
            Bioterrorism
            Chemical and Radiation Emergencies
            Motor Vehicle Safety
            Traumatic Brain Injury
            Child Abuse
            Prescription Drug Abuse
            Air Pollution
            Lead
            Asbestos

            From just the front page.

            ————-
            What makes something propaganda versus research?

            Were the studies that found smoking was bad for people’s health propaganda designed to shut down Big Tobacco? We need a more objective reason than “I disagree with its conclusions”. The correct response to a biased study is to do a better study, not hide the bad news.

            ————-
            SamChevre- that sounds like a call for better research (to include the breakdowns you mention), not a lack of research.

    • Betsy says

      Oh yes the old slippery slope argument. As in, there’s no good reason for gays not to marry, so let’s bring up marriage to animals or objects. There’s no good reason to regulate marijuana the way it’s done, so let’s bring up other more dangerous drugs. Etc

    • Laertes says

      The President spoke several times in favor of the assault weapons ban, months ahead of the election. Judging by the reaction today, the renewed call for the assault weapons ban is the most objectionable part of his agenda, to gun rights enthusiasts, and any fool could have “predicted” it because that’s exactly what the President said he was going to do.

      This idea that he concealed his sympathy for the assault-weapons ban and then sprung it on an unsuspecting electorate once he was safely re-elected doesn’t square with easily observable facts.

    • Anomalous says

      On first hearing it sounds like the president’s executive orders are about enforcing existing law. It’s kind of like, ya know, his job as defined by the constitution.
      I know He has asked congress for some legislation and you can expect to see His smiling face stepping out of a UN black helicopter any day to pick up your guns because you Brett are a law abiding citizen and we all know how The Kenyan Socialist hates you law abiding citizenz! That’s why we libruls elected him, just to make you suffer. (-;

      • Brett Bellmore says

        “On first hearing it sounds like the president’s executive orders are about enforcing existing law. It’s kind of like, ya know, his job as defined by the constitution.”

        Were that really true, it would be a refreshing change from enforcing a Dream Act Congress didn’t enact, blowing off the war powers act in Libya, violating court orders in the Gulf…

        But it’s not really true, in that at least a couple of the executive orders run contrary to current law.

        I think the most hilarious one, though, is nominating a head for the BATF. Not that I’m going to like his nominee, but wasn’t this something he was supposed to have done FOR FREAKING YEARS AGO? Instead he’s been making one “interim” appointment after another to circumvent Senate approval of nominees.

        • kellandros says

          The DREAM Act went a lot further than the executive order he signed (which was prompted by Constitutional lawyers pointing out it would be a valid expression of proprietorial discretion).

          Blowing off war powers act in Libya- I could probably give you that one, with the caveat that pretty much every president in the last 2 decades has stretched in some fashion or other.

          The court order against the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was overturned.

          ————-
          As for the head of the ATF, there has only been one permanent appointment passed by the senate since 2006(when it was split out of the Treasury department to specifically require Senate approval for its head). Even under George W. Bush, there were only temporary appointments before the one permanent guy and until the end of his term.

          Quoting from wikipedia page for the ATF:
          “The bottom line is the gun lobby will oppose any nominee who promises to be a strong and effective director of the ATF,” said Dennis Henigan, vice president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Indeed, it was persistent lobbying by the NRA. that helped to get the confirmation requirement instated. In 2007, Bush nominated Mike Sullivan for the position, a U.S. Attorney from Boston with a good reputation, but Republican Sens. Larry Craig and Michael D. Crapo, both from Idaho, blocked his confirmation after complaints from an Idaho gun dealer. In 2010, Obama nominated Andrew Traver, head of the ATF’s Denver division, to fill the top spot, but the Senate is yet to hold his confirmation hearings as of December 26, 2012.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            ““The bottom line is the gun lobby will oppose any nominee who promises to be a strong and effective director of the ATF,””

            True, and properly so, so long as the definition of “a strong and effective director” of the BATF is somebody who will exert maximum effort to infringe a civil liberty.

            And it’s the “B”ATF, “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. TLA envy not withstanding. You can’t drink them, you can’t fire them, and long experience has shown you can’t even fire them.

          • matt w says

            The second element of your joke should be “smoke ‘em,” right?

            Actually, it probably shouldn’t — “drink ‘em” just makes no sense, “fire ‘em” is the pun, but “smoke ‘em” sounds a bit callous considering that ATF agents do get killed in the line of duty. Not that you made that joke, since you didn’t, but if I were a gun rights advocate I’d want to stay away from it.

            (And it is “ATF.” If you wanted to be a stickler about the acronym it would be “BATFE,” but that’s so uncommon that Google redirects it. Might as well use the name everyone uses for clarity of communication.)

  2. dave schutz says

    My first job was with FDA – they had seven hundred (!!!) new investigator positions nationwide. The medical device amendments had just passed, and we were hired to enforce them. There was a back story. FDA had been trying for decades to get jurisdiction over medical device makers, and kept being easily repelled in Congress. Then Dalkon Shield killed or sterilized a number of young women, and there was a national outpouring Something Must Be Done, and, well, FDA had a proposal right there in its back pocket. It got introduced, bipartisan whoop, and Bob’s your Uncle. Device makers never knew what hit them.

    So I’m inclined to think Wayne La P has it right, sort of: people who want more restrictions on guns have been looking for an opportunity. They have a permanent interest in gun restrictions, and NRA has a permanent interest in fending them off, and Newtown is at least as appalling as the Dalkon Shield. As you note, Mark, “Everyone has to wrestle with the fact that the event that put guns back on the political agenda is so atypical that good legislation will mostly be about something else.” NRA’s best strategy is to delay and to point out that the Obama agenda would have done nothing for Newtown. More-restrictions people will stress the horror, and that the Newtown shooter used high capacity ammunition clips. We’ll see how it plays out.

    The Dems badly need it to be over and off the table before the ’14 elections, because many of their least secure office holders are in NRA friendly areas.

    • Warren Terra says

      This is utter nonsense. There is no significant effort in this country for what denizens of other country would consider to be sweeping gun regulation, and the maximalist versions of the legislation that people might be storing in their metaphorical back pockets and hoping to deploy when the national mood is right will have precisely no effect on sporting guns or on most handguns – at their most extreme, they attempt to ban the sale of new high-capacity, high-rate-of-fire rifles. Yes, people who think it’s crazy that our society is swimming in unregulated instruments designed for the sole purpose of mass murder are hoping for popular sentiments to shift so they can make some legislative progress – but they’re not going to capitalize on some surge in popular sentiment to implement the damned Nuremberg laws like you people fantasize they are, both because they have no such intentions and because they know such would fail.

      Finally, let’s take another look at your oh-so-scary tale of the FDA regulating the items placed in peoples’ bodies for therapeutic purposes. Do you feel the FDA has done such a terrible job? Do you feel they’ve killed innovation in the area, or that it was right for cowboys to run around inflicting their half-baked and untested ideas on actual humans in an unregulated manner? Other than the obvious tragedy that an industry lobby didn’t have its druthers, a tale of woe that truly pulls at my heartstrings, where is the damage here? Was the outcome bad? Isn’t the true parallel to FDA regulation of medical devices that, as in that field, in the field of firearms outrages like Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown should lead to our similarly implementing sensible, moderate, publicly accountable regulatory measures that don’t greatly impede responsible practitioners of the art whose misuse led to such notable tragedies?

      • dave schutz says

        Warren, calm yourself, breathe deeply, and go back over what I wrote. It does not support your response. You are making stuff up.

        • navarro says

          mr. schutz, reread what warren wrote. his response might have been a bit breathless but it seems well-directed at the points you seem to be making in the paragraph above. he’s spot on in this part– “Finally, let’s take another look at your oh-so-scary tale of the FDA regulating the items placed in peoples’ bodies for therapeutic purposes. Do you feel the FDA has done such a terrible job? Do you feel they’ve killed innovation in the area, or that it was right for cowboys to run around inflicting their half-baked and untested ideas on actual humans in an unregulated manner? Other than the obvious tragedy that an industry lobby didn’t have its druthers, a tale of woe that truly pulls at my heartstrings, where is the damage here? Was the outcome bad?” i’d like to see you give an actual answer to that question instead of minimizing it as fantastical hysteria.

          • dave schutz says

            Navs, I worked for the FDA regulating medical devices. I was and am proud of what I did. I think it’s absolutely appropriate that someone looks at whether IUDs are killing women, and whether what is in the pickle jar matches what the label says is in there. Canned corn should be heated long and hot enough to kill botulism, and canners should have adequate procedures to ensure that. Neither you nor Warren read what I wrote with any care at all. Mark said “..when Wayne LaPierre says “It’s about banning your guns … PERIOD!” he is obviously Saying The Thing That Is Not…” That’s not obvious at all to me. What I said was, that I think Wayne La P is right that people who want gun restrictions have been waiting for something which would move popular sentiment in their direction. I actually don’t have very strong opinions about whether gun regulation should be more restrictive, but I think the political strategy here is fascinating.

          • John G says

            I did not read Dave Shutz’s comment as opposing gun control laws or as suggesting that FDA control over devices was inappropriate. On the contrary, I read him as supporting the FDA intiative. The question was only a matter of strategy – are proponents of any gun control legislation ready to go when something might create a chink in the NRA-induced general insanity of the US public about guns (my paraphrase, not his).

  3. says

    The NRA gun position may be in the same posture as gay marriage – motivating for both sides, and the Ds increasingly think it comes out better for them. Obama would’ve come out with something small had he thought the issue was a loser in 2014.

    I think the correct strategy on both guns and immigration is a two-step. First you go big, and get the political achievement of forcing the Rs to be on the record against Mom and apple pie. Then you go for the policy achievement with passing something more modest that will get a bare majority.

    Hopefully climate change will soon have the same political valence, but it’s not quite there.

  4. Betsy says

    No losses to Obama for going big. Brett et al hate him anyway, might as well be hung for a sheep as a goat!

    Then, PBP and the Dems get to compromise down to something that could pass, but the teanuts will still be screaming like maniacs … well into 2014, when we all get to vote again, and God knows a majority of us feel quite rational about getting the instruments of mass murder under control.

    • Matt says

      I don’t know, I’m really glad that the Administration forcefully taking on the Bretts of the world. Their paranoid, apocalyptic nonsense needs this kind of sober opposition.

  5. Simon says

    Obama’s kids are both more important than yours and more likely to be a target of violence. So the ad makes no sense in addition to being distasteful.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      “Obama’s kids are both more important than yours”

      I find THAT claim rather more than distasteful.

      • navarro says

        if you will reasonably explain to me how the injury, capture, or death of my children; no matter the personal tragedy to me, could effect the workings of the executive branch of our government in the same way that the injury, capture, or death of president obama’s children could then i’ll make no other comment to your statement.

        • Brett Bellmore says

          If you can reasonably explain how armed guards can protect Obama’s children, but not yours, I might consider explaining to you the concept of equality before the law, and that we as a nation decided long ago not to have royalty.

          So that, no, his children are NOT more important than anybody else’s.

          • navarro says

            then you, sir, are willfully blind and cannot be reasoned with as humanity is given the ability to reason. i heap contempt upon your cramped, malignant view.

          • Ed Whitney says

            Brett seems to believe that the government should pay for armed guards in schools, just as the Obama daughters have government-provided armed guards. He does not like the president’s skepticism about doing this.

            Fair enough.

            Now, the Obama girls have armed guards when they go out to parties or on vacation or on dates. This is done for legitimate reasons of national security. Having members of the first family kidnapped by Al Qaeda is bad for all of us, and I never begrudged the protection that the Bush daughters had from the Secret Service when they lived at the White House.

            If I wanted the government to pay for armed guards when my daughters go on dates, am I not entitled to have them at taxpayer expense? If not, why not? What say, Brett?

          • Byomtov says

            I think the answer is that Obama’s children are much more likely to be targets of violence than the average child in the US, just as the President is more likely to be the target of violence than the average citizen.

            Plus, we have a long-standing practice of providing protection to the President’s family. To suddenly act as though protecting Obama’s children is some wild deviation from usual practice is just dishonest.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            I don’t object to protecting Obama’s children. I object to the notion that it’s outrageous to deploy similar means to protect other peoples’ children. That the President gets his kids to be in a school with armed guards, he gets to be surrounded with guns, (Now for his entire life!) but that there’s something wrong with other people getting the same sort of protection.

          • Cranky Observer says

            There is not, as far as I am aware, any movement anywhere in This Great Nation of Ours to prohibit the hiring of trained, background checked, and certified security guards for any school in the land. Our local school district is considering doing so, in fact.

            You’ll note, however, that Mr. Bellmore is also opposed to taxes of any kind. To me, it seems quite reasonable that if the NRA’s members, the large projectile-launching device manufacturers, insist on the individual Citizen’s right to own large-capacity, rapid-fire projectile launchers then those manufacturers and their customers should pay additional taxes to fund the school security guards. Yet they not only refuse to do so, they actively oppose ALL taxes.

            Funny that.

            Cranky

            This italic stuff is fun. See how my statements automatically become true because I use italics?

          • Cranky Observer says

            ___
            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.
            ___

            CATHERINE HUBBARD, 6

            Catherine’s parents released a statement expressing gratitude to emergency responders and for the support of the community.

            “We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have been affected by this tragedy,” Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard said. “We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy.”
            ___

            via the Huffington Post

          • matt w says

            You know, if the NRA proposal were that the armed guards in schools would be Secret Service members or people with equivalent training, it might not be quite as crazy. I’d at least like to think that the Secret Service agents on armed protection duty are somewhat professional about it. (Though, Colombia prostitution scandal.) Of course, that stuff is expensive, and if the NRA wants that then the NRA would need to find a way to pay for it, because I sure am not contributing.

            But of course the NRA proposal is not for highly trained Secret Service agents to guard our kids and mine. They’re going to put in private security guards. As Gavin de Becker says (explaining why you should teach your kids to look for mothers with children instead of people in uniform when they get lost), that’s the population that brought us Mark David Chapman, Timothy McVeigh, and Son of Sam. Having a pretty much random guy hired off the street walking around my kids’ school with a gun would not make me feel safer, thank you.

            The President’s children (as well as ex-Presidents, spouses of ex-Presidents, and various other people) are given Secret Service Protection under the Secret Service Protection Act because they’re a lot more likely to be attacked, duh.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            “You know, if the NRA proposal were that the armed guards in schools would be Secret Service members or people with equivalent training, it might not be quite as crazy.”

            No thanks, I don’t want my kid exposed to prostitutes.

          • matt w says

            So, Brett, do you support the NRA proposal? Because it seems as though it depends on the idea that the government would do a good job at hiring the right people to carry guns around children, which I’d think wouldn’t be anything a libertarian would have any confidence in.

            If your argument is that the armed guards aren’t doing a good job protecting Obama’s children, you haven’t done a good job making that clear.

          • matt w says

            So I have to eat a little crow on this (though no one will ever see this happen). I thought the NRA ad was referring to the Obama children’s Secret Service protection, but apparently it was referring to armed guards at Sidwell Friends.

            Of course I don’t have to eat as much crow on this as the NRA, because Sidwell Friends does not employ armed guards. (Hint: what does “Friends” mean?)

  6. says

    May I float the cynical idea that going big on guns is a clever piece of misdirection? Like an angry bull in the ring, the Tea Party Republicans can only be fully outraged at one thing at a time. Better that it be at hopeless proposals on guns rather than the debt limit.

    • BroD says

      Or perhaps a tactical move to entice the right wing of the GOP reveal how far removed from the mainstream they really are.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        I think you’re a bit delusional about who’s further from the mainstream. Some evidence.

        Why do you suppose that you’ve been losing on this subject for going on a couple decades? Why concealed carry reform swept the country, and stand your ground laws are following? Because a tiny extremist minority have deployed diabolical mind control rays?

        We’ve been winning because you’re further from the mainstream than we are.

        • Matt says

          Brett, citing ultra-conservative sources for your arguments doesn’t support them. It only serves to demonstrate that you have no faith in the validity of your own positions, and also how biased and right wing you are.

          Find sources from legitimate, scientifically-based research once in a while and maybe we’d both believe you, and respect you more.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            I think, of all the usual rhetorical tics of the left, the most annoying has to be, “Find a source for that which agrees with me, (And thus has no motive to print it!) or I’m not interested.” So, no.

          • Matt says

            How about “find a non-biased scientific source.” Just that would be enough–instead of perpetually citing ultra-right-wing sources.

            In the current conservative psychopathology, all legitimate scientific institutions are suspect. You rant about the CDC above. Case in point.

          • Matt says

            The old adage “reality has a well-known liberal bias” is turning out to be more and more true.

            You can’t really argue with Nate Silver’s data from the last election, can you? You can’t really argue with the increasingly bulletproof data that global climate change is happening. Etc etc.

            The right-wing’s “data”, on a massive range of issues, looks like wishful thinking wrapped in a cloak of paranoia.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      I think you’ve nailed it, actually: Obama would doubtless like to get some of this nonsense enacted, but the real aim here is just to divert people from the debt crisis.

  7. John Herbison says

    There is value to President Obama in smoking out, and thereby exposing to public scrutiny, just how unhinged his opponents are. The ad about the President’s daughters well illustrates what ugliness lurks in the hearts of the cold, dead fingers jerks. Sunlight, as Louis Brandeis observed, is the most powerful of all disinfectants.

    Fetishizing guns is no mark of manhood; it instead indicates a deficiency of manhood. To label Wayne LaPierre and his crowd as pussies would be to disrespect female genitalia.

    • Anonymous says

      Yes, and no. It’s powerlessness, the powerlessness of a people denied meaningful place in society. It’s the powerlessness of a worldview without relevance, of talent without place. It’s the powerlessness of the betrayed promise of cultural hegemony – that arrested development in is no longer coattailed by imperial wealth. It’s the powerlessness guaranteed by the devastation of America’s middle class, by the evisceration of unions, by the valorization of “ownership” over commons, by social atomization, by media driven narcissistic puerility, by the American drift – right and left – towards thoughtless, and consequently increasingly intractable, class division. This debate is only on the surface about guns. Like so much in our culture the true narrative flows beneath the hysteria, undetected and undisturbed. What is a gun? Power. And the extent of deadly power of the killing machines so prized by so many is a direct indicator of the sense of powerlessness felt. So yeah, by all means we must remove these sad, yet incredibly deadly killing machines from circulation. And we need to bring the culture of guns above the surface into the light. And, while we’re at it, we might consider the possibility that Joe Whiteguy’s fetishization of impossibly powerful weaponry is a direct, inverse correlation to his diminished sense of place in a rapidly changing world and society. It’s the behavior, not the person.

    • Mark Kleiman says

      Yes, but I’m curious whether he thinks the House Republicans are “hypocritical” for banning firearms from the galleries rather than simply arming themselves in case some patriot wants to water the tree of liberty.

      • says

        He tends to follow the logic of his opening premises to the last dregs.
        There usually isn’t any nuance…
        So I suspect:

        Not only should firearms be allowed in the House…
        But he might even claim we should all be allowed a mini-nuke firearm to ensure our safety.

        Which leads to an interesting speculation: Suppose someone develops a laser pistol that can shoot a continuous death ray for an hour?
        Will our friends on the right claim that is covered by the second amendment to?

        • navarro says

          “He tends to follow the logic of his opening premises to the last dregs.”

          except when he completely changes to a different set of premises and logic in the middle of the discussion or he realizes he’s been absolutely demolished and then abandons the thread never to return while claiming in comments to later posts that his final answer was the silence counterarguments deserved.

          • Matt says

            I’ve found that the stronger of my arguments never elicit a reply from Brett. Radio silence. He is the most frustrating debate partner in that he will never admit to being wrong, nor to rethinking anything. If he is clearly wrong: silence. He hangs his head in shame for a few days, privately, before slinking back onto these boards with more slippery-slope, false-equivalency, confirmation-bias arguments.

            I hope he answers Mark’s question above, especially given the sickening NRA ad we saw yesterday re: the President’s kids.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        Not precisely: (Though politicians being hypocrites is generally a safe bet.)

        Here’s the general principle: The government can’t disarm you outside of it’s own places, where it can do so if it has a really good excuse. But having done so, takes on the obligation to defend you in those places. (Which obligation it does NOT have in most places.)

        Kind of like, I can tell you not to enter my home armed, but having done so, I’m obliged, (Morally, if not legally.) to extend to you the protection I’ve prevented you from providing yourself.

        I assume there are guards in the House gallery.

        So, I’m cool with making very limited domains like legislative chambers, or courts, into “gun free zones”, so long as security is present to replace that provided by private arms. They really ought to provide secure gun storage for visitors, though, to prevent extending the nominally ‘gun free’ nature of these limited zones to your travel to and from them.

        • matt w says

          And schools, Brett? We had an exchange about this above, which you concluded with a crack that I’d already made, but is your idea that schools are the governments’ place and they’re obliged to fill them with armed guards? Or… well, the idea that the kids should have their own guns is a non-starter, most parents can’t take time off to patrol the halls with guns themselves, so by your logic government-hired armed guards is the only way. (Please don’t go for “There shouldn’t be public schools.” Or do, I don’t mind when my political opponents marginalize themselves.)

          But that raises the question again: Why do you trust the government (at whatever level) to do a good job of hiring armed guards to be around your children? You don’t trust the Secret Service, who are probably the most highly vetted and trained of government armed guards, why would the rent-a-cops that local school systems would wind up with be any better? It just seems a very anti-libertarian idea to trust the government on this. I’m not surprised at the NRA, who it’s my understanding have generally taken a very anti-libertarian stance on all law enforcement issues not pertaining to private gun ownership, but it seems inconsistent coming from you.

  8. Tom Wytiaz says

    4 billion for more cops? Seems to me that means police officers are going to be up our ass about every little thing out of sheer boredom. I do not see how more cops on the streets is going to translate into less incarceration, I do see how it can lead to the police no longer overlooking even minor infractions because there will be so many of them.

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