Controlling gun violence

Gun control is good, clean fun, but controlling violence is all about controlling violent people and places.

… isn’t primarily about controlling guns. David Kennedy explains.

I put somewhat more stock than David does in the value of universal background checks and tougher penalties for gun trafficking, but surely he’s right that this is all second-order compared to the policing strategies discussed in his op-ed, focused on violent people and violent places. Or, I would add, to simply raising alcohol taxes. Some people are much more dangerous than others, but even those people are much more dangerous even than their personal norm once they have a skinful.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

62 thoughts on “Controlling gun violence”

  1. Hmm. I’m not sure I quite agree with his logic.

    I think his premise is correct: We have a high rate of gun violence in the country primarily because we have a high violent crime rate.

    It makes sense from this point of view to focus resources on (1) controlling crime and (2) eliminating the causes of crime (especially violent crime).

    His policy proposals seem to primarily focus on (1), though. While this may be what’s viable in the short term, I am not sure if that is the best long term solution, as long as the basic breeding grounds for crime exist. It’s like repeatedly treating a tooth abscess with antibiotics without doing anything to fix the patient’s dental problems that caused the abscess in the first place. Too much of the article seems to go in the direction of “if we just enforced criminal laws better, everything would be fine”. In short, I have my doubt that superior law enforcement procedures are a panacea. The article notes that “neighborhoods where this violence is concentrated, most of which are poor and minority, need real help”, but does not draw any conclusion from this other than suggesting to concentrate law enforcement resources in these neighborhoods.

    Similarly, a focus on controlling crime does not mean that you cannot also focus on reducing the flow of weapons from non-criminals to criminals. These aren’t mutually exclusive measures.

    Independent of that is the high gun-related suicide rate, but that’s a different issue.

    1. “Similarly, a focus on controlling crime does not mean that you cannot also focus on reducing the flow of weapons from non-criminals to criminals. These aren’t mutually exclusive measures.”

      No, they’re not mutually exclusive, in theory. However, you do run up against both limited political resources, and trust issues. “Reducing the flow of weapons” has, historically, been almost exclusively a culture war thing, not really directed at crime control. That’s why the most hysteria is directed at the sorts of firearms, “assault” weapons, used least in crime; Because it’s not about the crime, it’s about proving to people you don’t like that you, not they, are in control.

      But the political resources spent in often futile efforts to enact legislation controlling gun ownership is unavailable for enacting measures which might actually help. And the effort to enact the culture war laws cause the people in those cross hairs to oppose anything else you might do, out of justified suspicion.

      So, while it’s possible to fight crime, AND wage a culture war, at the same time, why would you insist on doing so?

      1. Because I’m not talking about waging a culture war and do not buy the claim that it would inevitably turn into one. Your argument is one of politics, not one of policy.

        It’s the same type of argument that ails too much of our political discourse: Each side digs in at the extreme end with maximal demands, trying to keep the Overton window pegged as far to their side as they can, be the subject drugs, abortion, or guns.

        And the people who want to try and build sane, moderate policies get screamed down in the process.

        I truly, truly loathe the Overton window manipulation approach to policy making; it’s all about protecting or advancing interests rather than judging policies on their merits.

        1. I guess I should amplify a bit on that. I’ve been involved in the fight on gun control for something like 25 years now, and if there’s one thing that’s amazed me, it’s the utter ignorance concerning firearms that typifies the people pushing gun control. This sort of thing isn’t all that atypical.

          We’ve got laws that ban depleted uranium bullets, written by people who don’t seem to understand that uranium that hasn’t been depleted has the same ballistic properties. We’ve got people who really do believe that “silencers” silence guns, rather than merely reducing the noise level enough to prevent acute hearing damage. People who genuinely believe that “assault weapons” are machine guns.

          This is a culture war, not a war on crime. That’s why you get laws regulating the color of guns, but there were virtually zero prosecutions last year of felons who were caught trying to buy firearms. That’s why NY goes out of it’s way to go after air travelers legally traveling with guns.

          Because it’s not about attacking crime, it’s about attacking the hated culture of gun ownership.

          1. I don’t agree with Brett on much, and I’d be happy with maximal gun control, but I think his points here are absolutely legitimate, and that until they are dealt with, we are stuck with the status quo.
            The pattern here is the same as the pattern you see with any adversarial situation. Once the two sides decide they each hate each other, EVERY interaction is judged based not on how rational it is, but on how much it will piss off the other guy. Compare, for example, most labor-management interactions.

            But having the diagnosis is not the same as solving the problem, especially since there is no unified “anti-NRA” speaking with a single voice. Even if you get 90% of anti-gun folks in Congress to accept this diagnosis and agree to empirically-based legislation rather than emotion/culture-based legislation, you ‘re still going to have the other 10%, and their noisy supporters outside Congress, doing what they can to stoke the fires of kulturkampf.

          2. Maynard: What purpose aside from the cultural war does “maximal gun control” serve? Keeping in mind that “maximal” and “optimal” are kind of mutually exclusive? Is the idea here to pursue the war in a way you think won’t piss people off?

          3. mr. bellmore, i try to avoid responding to your posts as much as possible because you tend to be argumentative, thin-skinned, and you tend to assume bad faith on the part of virtually all of your interlocutors. as i’ve said before, i own guns, i was raised around guns, and i have some understanding of gun culture. i’m a seventh generation native of texas for crying out loud. i have relatives who belong to the nra a few of whom are life members. i’m not some effete, ignorant, city dweller whose only contact with firearms is the media. it is because i know and respect firearms to the extent that i do that i came to believe that guns and gun ownership need more and better regulation. the reason that “better enforcement of the laws on the books” (the stock answer nra spokesmen and their pawns like to give for what can be done) is almost useless because the nra and their pawns in congress have made sure that the laws are either toothless, difficult to enforce by statute, or both.

            what i think we need are laws that give the atf the ability to more easily pursue straw purchasers, that allow the atf to make more than one visit per year to suspected gun dealers, laws that require background checks for gun show purchases and internet purchases and real penalties for sellers who don’t carry out their responsibilities along those lines. i also think that incentives for gun owners to to receive gun safety training would be a good idea. perhaps impose a tax on gun sales that could be waived if one had a certificate from an accredited gun safety course like the texas hunter safety course. to me it’s not about crime and it’s not about attacking gun ownership it’s about reducing the annual slaughter.

          4. On the gun safety, personally I think they should just cover it in Jr. High or High school, let everybody learn it. The temptation otherwise is to make the class so difficult or expensive as to make it an obstacle to gun ownership.

            If I’m suspicious, it’s a learned response. 25 years of dealing with garbage like Kennedy’s ban on “armor piercing” ammo, that would have banned the 30.06. I’ve been trained to expect essentially all gun legislation to be booby trapped, because that’s the history.

          5. I’d just like to note, as something of a mathematician, that maximal and optimal are definitely *not* mutually exclusive.

          6. True enough, Nick, and my own inner math nerd complained of that… a moment after I hit submit. Perhaps I should simply say, they’re different concepts.

          7. What you’re seeing is not a culture war, but attempts to shift the Overton window. When there’s so much polarization, people will take the leverage they can find to make inroads in shifting it in the desired direction, because policy-based compromises just won’t work. Neither side budges, so each pushes wherever they can gain a foothold, however tiny. The result is generally a jigsaw puzzle of ill-thought-out policies that can be sold to low-information voters (because there’s no room for compromise between policymakers).

            You see the same phenomenon when it comes to abortion.

            Incidentally, I think this approach is strategically very risky. The stability of either position rests on Supreme Court decisions with an extremely thin majority (Heller/McDonald, Roe v. Wade). Given that four Supreme Court justices (two on the left, two on the right) will be approaching retirement age during the coming decade, this majority could easily flip in the other direction. In that case, it’s better to have a broadly supported state of the law than one that engenders significant controversy.

          8. “In that case, it’s better to have a broadly supported state of the law than one that engenders significant controversy.”

            But they go for gun bans anyway, don’t they?

            I think the scenario where a vote shifts on the Supreme court, the 2nd gets razor bladed out of the Bill of Rights again, and gun controllers try to act on that, rather scary. Does anybody really think that ends peacefully? We started down that road back in the 90’s, people were getting burned alive on one side, and buildings blowing up on the other. And that was without a few years of Supreme court validation.

          9. so waco, oklahoma city, and armed insurrection is your goto here? let’s forget that armed insurrection is the direct opposite of the original intention of the 2nd amendment and just focus on the linkage you seem to be making between . . ., well, between what, exactly? your comment ends with ” And that was without a few years of Supreme court validation.” as if that links up to something else but i can’t see the link to any ambiguities in gun laws or jurisprudence over gun laws and either the burning or the bombing. maybe i’m being obtuse here but to me that ranks as a hell of a non sequitir. i need you to explain what you’re getting at because as it stands it makes no sense at all.

          10. We’ve got laws that ban depleted uranium bullets, written by people who don’t seem to understand that uranium that hasn’t been depleted has the same ballistic properties.

            So what exactly does this mean? The law has a loophole which allows for non-depleted uranium bullets? Or does it mean that non-depleted uranium, whether in bullet form or not, is already controlled and there’s no reason to cover it again in this law? I’ll bet it’s the latter, and specifying depleted uranium in that law makes perfect sense, and isn’t evidence of utter ignorance. At least not on the part of the legislators who voted for that law.

  2. Maynard: What purpose aside from the cultural war does “maximal gun control” serve? Keeping in mind that “maximal” and “optimal” are kind of mutually exclusive? Is the idea here to pursue the war in a way you think won’t piss people off?

    ——————–

    I did not say I want maximal gun control. I said I would be happy with it.
    Personally I think guns are a bullshit issue, a distraction from the real issues, a perfect “what’s the matter with Kansas” issue. So I don’t give a damn where things land on the spectrum of possibilities; what I care about is that the issue is taken off the table precisely so that it is NOT any more a cultural issue.

  3. Only issue with Kennedy’s piece is the assertion that ordinary gun owners don’t shoot their neighbors. While not statistically significant next to gang violence, I read about plenty of these cases fueled by alcohol or high emotions. And of course David doesn’t mention suicides either. I appreciate that the biggest impact is on the ground in inner cities, but there are plenty of other problems associated with having generally high gun ownership. David Frum is spotlighting these cases well this year.

    1. “While not statistically significant next to gang violence, I read about plenty of these cases fueled by alcohol or high emotions. And of course David doesn’t mention suicides either.”

      It’s a nation of about 300 million people; Something can kill “plenty” of people, in a “won’t fit in my living room” sense, and not be statistically significant. But that doesn’t mean you impose upon a nation of 300 million people laws intended to deal with such small numbers of incidents: If that were general practice, we’d be outlawing toxic house plants, and all manner of other crazy laws. And if it’s not general practice, we’re just back to the culture war.

      1. But that doesn’t mean you impose upon a nation of 300 million people laws intended to deal with such small numbers of incidents

        30,000 people die in this country every year from gun-related injuries. God knows only how many are paralyzed, made into vegetables, or ruined with pain for life. The “injury statistic” doesn’t seem to be kept and talked about. But it must surely must be at least another 30,000 souls. Joe Nocera would do well to run a second column every week to help with the educating: The week in horrific Gun injuries.

        Obviously though, what qualifies as a “small number of incidents” depends upon the quality and quantity of one’s empathy neurons: How much one thinks and cares about the greater good.

        1. “30,000 people die in this country every year from gun-related injuries.” That’s true, and most of them are either criminals or suicides. My personal opinion on the matter is that adults are entitled to commit suicide if they so chose, and we’re better off if criminals kill each other. But that does leave a regrettable residue of murders of innocent people, which disarming innocent people will do precious little to reduce.

          Indeed, the number of firearms deaths has been trending down even as pro-gun laws like concealed carry reform advance. I’m not saying cause and effect, but the case for the opposite causal relation looks lousy.

  4. David probably doesn’t mention suicides because the evidence that restricting guns does anything other than just push potential suicides to other methods is typically nonexistent, and when it does appear in statistics it is razor thin. And the cross country comparisons make it look completed disconnected–see especially Japan.

    1. The Israelis changed policy and prohibited their soldiers from taking their weapons home on weekends. This reduced the suicide rate by 40%.

    2. I’m not familiar with this research, and I assume that you are talking about studies that use US states as units. If so, what is the basis of comparison? Have any states passed and enforced laws that remove all guns that people already own? Or laws that banned shotguns and rifles? I would guess that most gun control laws focus on handguns and assault rifles. Of firearm suicides, what proportion use those weapons?

      1. Here, Jay.

        “The overall rates of suicide before the policy change are in line with rates of suicide in adolescents in this age group (Mann et al., 2005; Perret et al., 2006; Powell, Fingerhut, Branche, & Perrotta, 2000). Following the change in policy total suicide rate decreased y 40%, from an average of 28 per year during 2003–2005 to an average of 16.5 per year in Most of this decrease in suicide rates was due to a decrease in suicide using firearms over the weekend, from an average of 10 per year (2003–2005) to an average of 3 per year (2007–2008) (T=17.44, p<.001). There re no significant changes in rates of suicide during weekdays."

        I’m curious: How do you calculate statistical power to two and three decimal places for events that are happening this infrequently?

        Anyway, they only give the results for a very narrow age range, 18-21. Makes me wonder what happened outside that age range.

        1. SFIK the p-value is a conventional significance level: you jump from the 5% level (one in twenty risk of the data resulting by chance) to the 1% level (one in a hundred) to, as here, the 0.1% level (one in a thousand). The experimenter doesn’t get to pick these levels, they are what comes out in the wash.

          The subject population was serving IDA conscripts. Of course they are aged 18-21. Also, there are lots of them, which is what gives the result such high statistical significance.

          It’s CW that availability of means is relevant to both suicide and assault. Why else do police departments remove belts from new detainees? The very determined suicide or murderer will find a means; many are less determined and their behaviour and its effects does depend on access to means.

      2. @jay livingston–according to the national violent death reporting system which includes 16 states with a population of 80+million, the total number of suicides committed in that set of states was 10,176. of that number 5017, 49.3%, were committed with firearms of which 3352 were committed with handguns so the proportion of suicide by firearm using a handgun would be 66.8% for the reporting states. these percentages are consistent with data from 07-09. the data provided by the nvdrs are not designed to be representative of the entire united states but with a fourth of the population and a third of the states i would consider it suggestive.

        1. But that isn’t suggestive once you realize that suicide can be done by throwing yourself off a bridge, or crashing your car into a large object, or taking pills, or attacking the police in a southern state. The data on whether or not you get suicides displaced to other means, or a true reduction, is all over the place. Nearly all the studies which purport to find that guns access is a large factor in the suicide rate are just counting number of suicides with guns. (And it makes you suspect they are being dishonest because they often bundle it with intentional shootings of others to inflate the gun violence statistic).

          If you believe that suicide rates are a cultural phenomenon or cultural symptoms that are largely independent of the means of suicide, it becomes much easier to explain how South Korea and Japan can have sky high suicide rates with virtually no access to guns, and how Sweden can have one just as high as the US. But if you believe that, surely the insight doesn’t vanish when comparing Texas to Minnesota?

          The alcohol/suicide link is strong however, and persists across countries.

          1. @sebastian h.–

            when i used the word “suggestive” i was referring to the data and one’s ability to make general conclusions about the proportion of suicides nationwide that are committed using firearms. the comment from jsay livingston, to which i was responding, had asked for that type of information and i was providing the best information i have available with qualifying statements. the qualifiers being (1) “. . . not designed to be representative of the entire united states,” a fact, and (2) “. . .suggestive.”, an opinion. i apologize if i gave the erroneous implication that i was drawing a conclusion about the social dynamics of suicides in the united states.

  5. Would there be any effect in focusing on those who supply guns to the violent people who use them in violent places? Wasn’t there a graphic recently showing that a large proportion of the guns used in Chicago killings were bought in a small number of stores just west of the city? And didn’t Bloomberg uncover a supply line to NYC from a few stores in Virginia?

    1. What they didn’t show, IIRC, was that those particular stores were disproportionately responsible for supplying crime guns. They were, rather, just the nearest large gun dealers; You sell 5000 guns instead of 50, you’re going to end up with a hundred times as many ultimately reaching criminals.

      The question is not whether criminals, ultimately, get their guns from the same sources as the law abiding. Except for zip guns in prisons, of course they do. The question is whether there’s anything you could do to deny criminals those guns, that wouldn’t have greater impact on the law abiding, who are, after all, exercising a civil liberty.

      1. I thought the report was about guns used in criminal shootings or recovered from gang members, but I’m too lazy busy to search out the source. As for denying guns to criminals without cramping the style of good guys, I thought the one-a-month limit might help. A guy who walks into a gun store in Virginia or Cicero and buys a dozen Glocks or whatever is probably not adding them to his collection.

        1. As for denying guns to criminals without cramping the style of good guys

          The stat I see is that upwards of 80% of Americans think background checks are a good idea. So I wouldn’t call the small minority who think their “right” to buy a gun without a background check “good guys”. These are mostly angry, conspiratorial, out-of-touch people who think an armed rebellion against the US government is imminent. And that their “right” to instant gun-buying satisfaction — sans a background check — trumps the right of +80% of the population’s need for better protection. A huge part of being a “good guy” is being grown up about the boundaries of one’s selfishness. Children think they world is all about them. Calling this small set of my-pleasure-first-no-matter-the-cost crybabies “good”, is an adjective shot too far.

          Let’s keep it real. And let’s not quake from calling loons loons. For example: buying a gun for a 5 year old is stupid. But no more stupid than opposing background checks for the purchase of any gun.

          1. After all, it stiffens our resolve that you can’t be permitted to get your way, and that’s a good thing.

            God is great!

          2. We’re not the ones leading the Jihad in this case. We’re the ones fighting it off.

          3. Phenomenal article, Brett. Says a great deal that really needs to be said. Sadly, it won’t likely be heard by those who could most benefit by paying attention to it.

          4. We’re not the ones leading the Jihad in this case. We’re the ones fighting it off.

            Careful there son. You are equating those that want to require a background check for a firearm purchase (90% of Americans) to Jihadists.
            That’s a bit over the top. You are entering extremist territory there. Hardly different from those Muslims who call for the scalp of cartoonists who draw up a caricature of Allah.

      2. I am an innocent person exercising many civil liberties I am alllowed to marry for example, but that freedom is constrained. I can only marry one person at a time. If I want to end my marriage I must do so according to laws which some may find restrictive. It is me civil right to own a car, but I must insure it and drive it carefully or I will suffer the consequences of the law. What it means to be civil is that you understand that you are subject to the laws of the land which are deemed to be in the public interest. If a large majority deem it necessary to constrain the distribution and use of fiirearms that to is the right of innocent persons.

  6. What I never understand is why I, as a lifelong responsible gun owner among many in my family and circle of acquaintances, should believe that the 2nd amendment is somehow an “absolute civil right” as opposed to all the other civil rights and that therefore there are no acceptable regulations regarding my ownership. All of the rights conferred by the the Constitution and Bill of Rights and legal decisions since have volumes of law hedging those rights about with restrictions to protect others against my misuse of my “rights.” There is nothing said in the 2nd amendment against registering firearms, or about requirements for background checks, or education and/or safe handling and keeping. There is nothing to prohibit requiring gun owners to secure their weapons, with heavy penalties should they be used illegally or tragically by others. There is nothing restricting requiring insurance to pay for tragedies involving one’s weapons. In short, though it sounds and is trite, I never understand why I shouldn’t have somewhat similar requirements for my weapons as I do for driving a car.

    1. Because driving a car *isn’t* a civil right? Now, if you’d said, “Owning and operating a printing press.”, you might have had a decent analogy. How far do you think they’d get with “one press a month” laws, or (paper) magazine limits? Do you think a law banning pink printing presses wouldn’t be laughed down?

      I don’t know of anyone who demands this be an absolute right, whatever the heck that means. Perhaps you should talk to some of the ‘pro-choice’ people, who do pretty much take that stance. What I demand is that it not be a second class right, to be over-ridden whenever the least bit convenient.

      Laws regulating firearms aspects and activities which are directly hazardous or harmful? I’ve no problem with that, at the state level. I’ve already given a laundry list of possible regulations which would pass any 2nd amendment activist’s conception of 2nd amendment rights: Backstop requirements on shooting ranges, possibly requiring self defense firearms to be loaded with frangible ammo in apartment buildings, banning guns likely to blow up in one’s hand, or go off if dropped.

      But telling me I can’t buy a second gun this month, because I already bought one? Requiring me to report to the government any gun purchases? Magazine limits and arbitrary design controls? (No barrel shrouds, to make sure I burn myself if I touch the barrel after a long session of shooting? Banning sound suppressors to make sure I go deaf if I forget to wear earplugs while shooting? No flash suppressors, so that people legally hunting feral pigs at night are blinded by their own muzzle flashes?) Screw that, that’s not treating this like a right, it’s treating it like a privilege.

      1. Now, if you’d said, “Owning and operating a printing press.”, you might have had a decent analogy. How far do you think they’d get with “one press a month” laws, or (paper) magazine limits? Do you think a law banning pink printing presses wouldn’t be laughed down?
        True. Then again, when kids find their dad’s magazine stash in the closet, the only casualty is, one might say, their innocence. And of course, I can’t remember the last time I heard of a felon killing a cop by dropping a printing press obtained through a straw purchaser onto their head …

        1. I never heard of a gun that became more deadly by virtue of it’s color, or causing deafness in it’s owner.

          Look, you’re still treating this like a privilege, not a right. I’ve already agreed that firearms ownership is subject to (state level) regulation aimed at genuinely dangerous conduct, like target shooting without a backstop, or firing into the air to celebrate.

          But what does that have to do with real world gun control laws, which ban features like retractable stocks, or kelly grips? Kelly grips don’t make a firearm more dangerous, they make it more controllable. They only make it more usable, but usable guns are a civil right. That HAS to restrict the laws you can enact.

          1. I never heard of a gun that became more deadly by virtue of it’s color
            Me neither. But (keeping very loosely with the printing press analogy) there was the issue of Camel cigarettes using the Joe Camel cartoon character to market to children. Absolutely no effect on the nicotine content, carcinogenic properties or anything like that – one could mockingly say that one never heard of a cigarette that became more deadly or addictive by virtue of its cartoon mascot. Except to the degree that ol’ Joe, by targeting kids, changed real world behavior, that is. (Now, how useful an analogy this is, I don’t know…)

            genuinely dangerous conduct, like target shooting without a backstop, or firing into the air to celebrate.
            Agreed, as far as it goes.

            real world gun control laws
            … Like closing absurd background check loopholes, so there’s a consistent, minimal set of safety regulations in place? Like regulations that aim to make things harder for straw purchasers while causing extremely mild-to-no inconvenience to regular, law abiding gun owners?

    1. This is supposed to make us feel better about the sanity of gun advocates?

      1. No, it’s supposed to make you feel worse about the insanity of people who actually think guns can be controlled. Any more than drugs can, which is to say, scarcely at all if you’re willing to break the law.

        For any civil right, the legitimacy of an infringement is, in part, judged by whether it can actually achieve, (Not is simply intended to achieve…) some legitimate purpose. Evidence that gun controls can’d disarm criminals directly impunes the legitimacy of any such law which has an impact on the law abiding.

        1. …about the insanity of people who actually think guns can be controlled.

          Funny. England seems to do a pretty good job of controlling them. And you don’t hear about 5 year old French boys shooting their sisters dead with their “cricket” guns. Coincidentally, Europe also does a pretty good job of controlling hate speech. The freedom to own a gun ought not to mean you are should feel entitled to an AK47. You want to print one out? Then we need powerful laws to send you to jail for doing so.

          1. No, that’s true, you don’t hear much about gun crime in Europe, especially in American media. Just like you don’t hear much about knife crime in the US, it’s not what the media is trying to whip up hysteria about.

          2. Funny, way too many Americans seem to prefer a government closer to to what they have in North Korea than the one our Constitution says we’re supposed to have here in the USA. The Sock Muppet’s favorite part:

            Institutions, businesses, groups and the public are prohibited from possessing or transacting firearms according to the law, which also banned lending, smuggling, destroying and self-producing firearms.

            Those lucky North Koreans! Their children are so safe!

          3. @mr. bellmore–
            regarding knives, an alternative to the possibility that you suggest, that the u.s. media is basically suppressing stories about it because such reports wouldn’t be “. . . what the media is trying to whip up hysteria about,” would be the the rate of knife violence is much lower than the rate of firearm violence. in the 16 states in the national violent death reporting system deaths due to sharp object injuries are 8-9% of deaths dues to firearms.

          4. No, that’s true, you don’t hear much about gun crime in Europe, especially in American media.
            How many mass shootings were there in England over the last decade? How many English children accidentalykilled or injured themselves/a sibling/a playmate with their parent’s/sibling’s/their gun in the last year? The last month? The last week?

          5. Funny, way too many Americans seem to prefer a government…

            You got something with what people prefer buddy? I believe that’s called Democracy. And if the people want to curtail access to high-powered personal weaponry and guns without background checks, in a Democracy, they have every right to do so. They also have a right to ban slavery, create progressive tax codes, and invest in clean energy.

            Personally I think gun ownership is fine. But with a hell of a lot more regulation than currently exists.

          6. “Personally I think gun ownership is fine. But with a hell of a lot more regulation than currently exists.”

            And, in practice, those regulations are written by people who DON’T think gun ownership is fine. Just like the people who demanded “separate but equal” were determined there wouldn’t be equality, the people who demand ‘reasonable regulation’ are determined that the regulations be unreasonable.

          7. And, in practice, those regulations are written by people who DON’T think gun ownership is fine….

            I get it already. You don’t believe in our form of representative democracy. You don’t think our elected lawmakers can be trusted to make laws. At least that is, laws about things you feel extremely passionate and certain about. In this case that happens to be laws about guns. I am sure there are other cases in which your passion and certainly should also trump representative democracy. I could ask you what form of government you prefer, but honestly, I am really not interested in your opinion on that.

            Rather, lets return to this bit of certainty: …those regulations are written by people who DON’T think gun ownership is fine.

            We have 535 lawmakers. Which are the ones that have stated they DON’T think gun ownership is fine?

      2. This is supposed to make us feel better about the sanity of gun advocates?

        Your feelings and how they are influenced are your private business and of no concern to me, though I’ll offer that if you are genuinely interested in reading material that might help you “feel better about the sanity of gun advocates” IMHO you can’t do much better than the column Brett linked to earlier in the conversation.

        1. I read it. It doesn’t have the effect you imagine, any more than the news of the guy who is publishing open-source recipes for 3D printing of gun parts. “Unhinged rant” just about covers it.

          1. Yeah, I get the same impression when reading the latest by some gun control advocate. The question isn’t whether we’ll ever come to agreement, I doubt we ever will, we’re reasoning from radically different premises. The question is whether we can each refrain from pushing the other to the point of violent resistance.

            Don’t expect me to regard your outrage at my refusal to obey as being morally equal to my outrage at being ordered about, though. All MY side is asking for is to be left the hell alone.

          2. Don’t expect me to regard your outrage at my refusal to obey as being morally equal to my outrage at being ordered about, though. All MY side is asking for is to be left the hell alone.
            I suspect the Newtown parents wish they could have been left the hell alone too. And there’s the run – there’s no alone, here. If your side was in some Amish-style adults only enclave, or in another country, or whatever, then sure. But there are no sides – the underlying spatial metaphor is misleading here, for we are all on the same side of the borders – both the national one, and the border to that undiscovered country, to which some 30,000 Americans travel each year, never to return, via guns. We are intimately interdigitated. Hey, I want to be left alone too, without wondering how many of the kids I used to teach have lost lives or loved ones thanks to a steady supply of guns, or if there’s even a chance that my little girl will go over to a friend’s house and end up being innocently shot by a playmate) or shooting another child, or herself), as happens to other people’s children on a weekly basis because someone was not responsible enough, I want to not have to see the regular reports of yet another mass-shooting massacre …

            So no, I certainly don’t expect you to regard my outrage at the unceasing pointless slaughter of children as being morally equally to your outrage of having to possibly deal with some minor inconveniences or a slight curtailment of your consumer choices in order to reduce the unceasing pointless slaughter of children and others, an outrage justified through a twisted reading of the 2nd Amendment that carefully ignores the contextual, intentional, specific and explicit references to a “well regulated militia” and “the security of a free state”. I certainly don’t regard my outrage as being morally equivalent to your outrage. Not at all.

  7. There are a lot of interesting points raised here. Rather than respond to them, this time, I will simply point out that this discussion mirrors the situation the op-ed addresses: Given clear evidence that there are powerful and immediate steps that can be taken to address the gun violence problem – steps that for the most part are politically uncontroversial – the overwhelming response is to ignore those facts and immediately go back to fighting about steps that won’t make a big difference and on which there is and likely will never be a workable political consensus. Depressing.

    1. Depressing, but not surprising, given that the people actually drafting the legislation are pursuing a culture war, not trying to solve a real problem.

      Seriously, it wasn’t the NRA that decided huge political capital would be expended trying to pass a measure which no sane person could have thought would accomplish anything proportionate to the cost. It wasn’t the NRA that decided to make it much harder for several Democratic Senators to hold onto their seats, and demanded that Manchin sacrifice his “A” rating to no effect.

      This wasn’t US waging culture war, we were just defending. But it was culture war.

    2. i see mr. bellmore has given you his idiosyncratic way of greeting participants in discussions of firearms. enjoy!

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