Too soon? Not this time.

Over the past decade, I have sadly observed each subsequent shooting tragedy, wondering when things would get so out bad, so out of hand that the United States would finally do something about gun violence.

I think Newton is the tragedy that puts the pro gun advocates on their heels.

I wonder: Is this the tragedy that moves US opinion away from the wild west and towards a more sane and civilized culture? Might we ever get a Supreme Court that understands a “well regulated militia” is not the same as an “heavily armed population?”

I am not sure what the solution is — what is logistically ideal or politically feasible.

I do know that if nothing is done, we can expect more Newtowns and Virginia Techs in the future . . .

Category: Current Affairs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

245 Responses to “What Can Gun Control Advocates Do?”

  1. Lots of comments are ending up in the filters —

    In addition to basic anti-spam algos, the filters look at length of comments, number of comments per user IP Address (%) per post, and the total # of posts per IP Address per minute.

    Some of you are sending all of your comments into the filters ! Take a deep breath, post comments more slowly, and keep them under 5000 words.

    The editors will eventually fish all of your comments out of the filter, but its a process — and posts like this generate 200 comments do take a while . . .

    -Barry

  2. bart says:

    When the zombies and (Krugman) aliens attack, you’ll be sorry you don’t have lots of gins and ammo…

  3. Christopher says:

    Gee what a shock….all the lawyers want more laws….Because every one knows gun bans are working so well in places like Chicago and NYC….Prohibition has such a long history of success!! LOL

    I wonder why the CDC doesn’t include the 3000+ babies murdered daily by abortion in their stats?? Over 150 Newtown massacres every single fucking day…..yet not a peep from anyone. Selective morality….it’s what’s for lunch!

    ~~~

    BR: You gotta problem with the Rule of Law?

  4. Frilton Miedman says:

    - Gun777, no, the solution isn’t to militarize preschool teachers and have them carry firearms around in class.

    – Canada Joe, No offense taken, you’re only citing empirical fact, there are two major differences between the US and Canda -

    1) 40% of ALL U.S. gun sales are private sales without background checks , it’s a statistical given that guns in the hands of individuals who would seek a purchase with no background check are doing it for a reason.

    2) Canada has a stronger social safety net than the U.S. with socialized healthcare, statistically this reduces criminal violence, ad assures fewer mentally unstable citizens per capita.

    Which brings me back to Gun777′s comment about arming preschool teachers, he epitomizes the rationale that has gotten us here….old west shoot ‘em up John Wayne style is strictly Hollywood, too many Ameicans are out of touch with reality thanks to Fox network – who also made the same militarizing preschool comment the day of the shootings.

  5. heaterman says:

    Barry Barry Barry………I thought that you were blessed with greater discernment than your post shows. It should be perfectly clear to anyone reading the statements of the original writers of our Constitution and it’s amendments that the 2nd amendment is not about firearms for sporting use or even so much for personal defense. It is there to guarantee that US citizens will always have the right and means to over throw their government by the use of force if necessary. As such, the right to own, carry, use (in lawful ways) and simply just possess should not and can not ever be tampered with. In fact, a strict interpretation of the 2nd would seem to imply that citizens be armed equally to the government, i.e. with the same type of weapons.
    Where our country has fallen down is in the “well regulated” part of the text. Our government puts virtually $00.00 into the training and instruction of its citizens regarding the proper use and function of firearms. This, along with other societal factors has helped lead to the fantasy land that many of our citizens, especially the young, seem to have with firearms, shooting, killing and even death itself.

    I had no idea you were so deeply under the influence of Mayor Bloomie.

  6. bear_in_mind says:

    Thank you, Barry, for your thoughts — and offering this space for fellow readers to contribute and express their thoughts and feelings around this tragedy and the larger societal issues it engenders.

    Here’s really sobering research published by John Jay College (h/t Quartz) looking at school killings internationally:
    http://qz.com/37015/how-school-killings-in-the-us-stack-up-against-36-other-countries-put-together/

    I think based upon the generous contributions by others here, and my own life experience, we should all be able to agree that the cause is multi-factorial. Like global warming, there isn’t ONE discrete factor that will reverse the direction we’re moving, however, some factors are clearly more impactful than others.

    Here’s a few observations:

    CULTURE
    Many have commented on the “gun culture” in the United States and its long affiliation with American culture.
    While it’s true that firearms have long been a feature of our identity and lore, it typically exhibited a sense of morality and violence was usually in the service of ‘good’ overcoming ‘evil’. That binary good/evil relationship was, of course, an over-simplification and glossed-over many heinous acts in the service of “good”, but the point being was that violence was reserved as a last resort. And for good reason, because of the destructive effect these actions have upon all concerned.

    I don’t know if anyone can pinpoint when our relationship with violence began to change, but I think there’s little debate that it has changed, whatever the cause.

    One possible contributor is the exposure and modeling of lethal violence in pop culture. It’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t have an influence on how individuals think about their role in that culture. For example, when children play an imaginary game of an heroic prince defending a fire-breathing dragon, they’re gaining a psychological sense of agency. This type of fantasy space allows us to try out different roles, seek out different outcomes, and we’re always free to retreat to safety. As a result, we develop neural circuitry to reinforce and normalize this type of action-play with security. However, when the imagination of developing brains is inundated with violence, esp. play of the first-person shooter variety, we run the risk of rewiring neurological circuitry toward violent, anti-social behavior and blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

    ECONOMICS
    Of course, there’s the corrosive influence of money and influence on policy and politics. Many have already well-stated the need to change these factors. Indeed, they’re crucial to our future choices and chances. But another likely contributor is the shift in America’s economic stability and dominance. This is obviously more of a “background” factor, but folks in all classes except those at the very top, are confronting a sense that the country and our individual opportunities are waning, that the best days may be behind us. It’s anyone’s guess whether this is temporary or a measure of long-term decline, but the longer unemployment stays elevated and median wages decline, the more it gnaws on citizens’ collective sense of security and self-determination.

    MENTAL HEALTH
    Most of these mass-murder killers were known to be mentally troubled by their family, friends, teachers, clergy, etc., but our system of mental health care is in tatters. Some of this goes back, ironically enough, to the passage of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963 by John F. Kennedy. The aim of this legislation was to close state hospitals and move the higher-functioning mentally ill back into communities with the support of community mental health clinics that we to be built throughout the country.

    Problem is, the federal government mandated the closures of the hospitals but the escalating costs of the Vietnam War meant that subsequent Congresses reduced funding to build the clinics by 66 percent, thus, only a third of the clinics were ever completed. This void remains today and is one reason we see so many mentally ill citizens wandering urban centers.

    A second key aspect of mental health care is America’s legal commitment to freedom and independence. Generally speaking, the law presumes that each person possesses a full, innate cognitive capacity to act in their own best interests, and those of our society.

    To overcome this presumption of full-capacity typically requires a MOUNTAIN of evidence, and the presentation of said evidence before a court of law. Only then can restrictions be placed upon an individual’s civil rights, including their right to bear arms.

    On paper, this approach seems perfectly reasonable, because our government ought to err on the side of liberty. Yet, in real-world practice, this presumption creates an enormous financial and logistical burden on families and institutions.

    The available options amount to: jail, guardianship, restraining order(s). It’s essentially all or nothing in most jurisdictions. And getting a court to impose forced residential treatment and/or medication upon an individual is typically a very tall order, indeed.

    It’s as if our legal system is blind to the leaps-and-bounds in cognitive and medical science over the last 30 years. There’s so many more treatment opportunities available today, but we’re so slow to fund and adopt new solutions.

    Much like tax policy, we take a NIMBY approach. It’s someone else’s problem, until all hell breaks loose… then it’s too late to take preventive action. Time to wake up, folks.

    By the way, very similar issues frequently apply to families with relatives suffering from dementia, though the risk of violence is often lessened due to co-occurring disease(s) and frailty.

    FIREARMS
    There’s no reason to allow the ongoing sale of the kind of weapons these mass killers have employed. Sure, it may take generations to gradually take these types of arms out of circulation, but I can see no sound rationale to put our heads in the sand and admit defeat without even trying to find solutions. This can change. This must change.

    CONCLUSION
    We Americans have a lot of opportunities to build for a better future. We can find solutions to these challenges if we’re willing to try and not give-in to apathy and despondency. We can be strong without being brutish. We can be kind and compassionate without being a wuss. We can help those less fortunate without diminishing our chances for affluence. And we can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Beyond the policy debates, let us not forget the victims of these crimes. WaPo has a tribute page to the memorialize the Newtown victims here:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/newtown-school-shooting-victims/

    ~BIM

  7. Frilton Miedman says:

    Ahhh, Heaterman concludes that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” gives people with guns the right of insurrection, not the right to fend off insurrection, treason or domestic violence, as in article IV, section 4.

  8. to me, these ~Two Ideas..

    drtomaso Says:
    December 16th, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Also, while I am heartened by the outpouring of support from the mental health community in making counseling services available free of charge for anyone in the town that requires them following this tragedy, it might have been cheaper and less painful if the one person who really needed the assistance of a mental health professional had had access to free services, say a week ago.

    You know, like the rest of the worlds’ advanced industrial democracies do for their citizens.

    gms777 Says:
    December 16th, 2012 at 8:21 am

    The solution? From the blog Powerline:

    “Within the realm of constitutional options, the most practical remedy I can think of would be to require that a certain number of teachers or administrators in each school be trained in the use of firearms and armed at all times. That would probably deter most school shooters. It is curious, but true, that even those killers who do not intend to survive their crimes never seem to open fire in the presence of another armed person. No one tries to shoot up a biker bar.”

    Every school in Israel has an armed guard on-site. In the U.S. town where I live, most, if not all, of the schools, have an armed city police officer stationed on the grounds when children are there. “Gun-free” zones are like directional arrows telling the insane and evil where to go.
    ~~~

    should be given Serious Reflection/Consideration..

  9. Concerned Neighbour says:

    Mark E Hoffer, I do not believe a sane person is capable of the horrific act in Newtown. I highly doubt that such an insane person is going to be deterred by the presence of an armed guard. Besides, I don’t think we want guns in our schools, whether it be students or teachers or guards carrying them.

    As others have said, this isn’t a problem of moral relativism or lack of faith. This is a problem of mentally ill people doing horrific things. We can do three things to minimize these events:

    1. Relieve the incidence of mental illness, which is on the rise in our society.
    2. Provide better care for those suffering from mental illness.
    3. Minimize to the extent possible access to weapons of any kind to such people.

    Re: #2, this means instead of throwing mentally ill people in jail and then back out onto the streets, we actually care for and rehabilitate them properly.

    Re: #3, obviously this means some kind of background check, but perhaps it also means other recurring requirements.

    I can understand the argument for carrying a gun for hunting or personal protection. What I do not understand is the argument for allowing people to stockpile huge arsenals of weapons and ammunition. If this lady hadn’t had three weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition lying around, the scale of this horrific crime would have been much more minor.

    A lot of people need to get beyond the idea that having ten guns in your house makes you more secure than if have nine, and that maintaining such an arsenal will make them any safer against the King of England or whatever other head of state of the day might want to do to them.

  10. Concerned Neighbor,

    you go with..”… I highly doubt that such an insane person is going to be deterred by the presence of an armed guard. Besides, I don’t think we want guns in our schools, whether it be students or teachers or guards carrying them…”

    first, with..”…I highly doubt that such an insane person is going to be deterred by the presence of an armed guard…”

    you “highly doubt” it..So what? Are You Underwriting the Liability Risk?

    LSS: If you have something Valuable, you do what it takes to insure your possession of it (Do You not?)
    ~~

    then, with..”…I don’t think we want guns in our schools, whether it be students or teachers or guards carrying them…”

    You ‘don’t think’ ? What good does that do (to mitigate the Occurence..)?

    Can you you explain Why? there should Not be “guns in our schools”?
    ~~

    Seriously, there are ‘Academic Exercises’, then there’s Real Life.

    Look around you, anywhere you See anything that someone /highly values/..don’t be surprised if there are “Armed Guards” nearby..

    ever Wonder.. Why? that is (?)

  11. S Brennan says:

    In reference to:

    “Timothy McVeigh’s weapon of choice was fashioned from easily available components, he killed 168 people.”

    wally said:

    “If you think “easily available”, you should spend more time in farm country. After that event, pretty stringent controls were put on certain substances.”

    In Reply:

    Wally, without going into detail, “stringent controls on certain substances” doesn’t begin to cover 5% of the options out there. I could care less about farm country, to effectively control the raw materials needed…you would need to shut down US commerce.

  12. How the NRA and Its Allies Helped Spread a Radical Gun Law Nationwide

    Years before Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were killed, gun lobbyists conspired to give Stand Your Ground shooters immunity everywhere.

    ~~~

    The Florida law made infamous this spring by the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was conceived during the epic hurricane season of 2004. That November, 77-year-old James Workman moved his family into an RV outside Pensacola after Hurricane Ivan peeled back the roof of their house. One night a stranger tried to force his way into the trailer, and Workman killed him with two shots from a .38 revolver. The stranger turned out to be a disoriented temporary worker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency who was checking for looters and distressed homeowners. Workman was never arrested, but three months went by before authorities cleared him of wrongdoing

    That was three months too long for Dennis Baxley, a veteran Republican representative in Florida’s state Legislature. Four hurricanes had hit the state that year, and there was fear about widespread looting (though little took place). In Baxley’s view, Floridians who defended themselves or their property with lethal force shouldn’t have had to worry about legal repercussions. Baxley, a National Rifle Association (NRA) member and owner of a prosperous funeral business, teamed up with then-GOP state Sen. Durell Peaden to propose what would become known as Stand Your Ground, the self-defense doctrine essentially permitting anyone feeling threatened in a confrontation to shoot their way out.

    Or at least that’s the popular version of how the law was born. In fact, its genesis traces back to powerful NRA lobbyists and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing policy group. And the law’s rapid spread—it now exists in various forms in 25 states—reflects the success of a coordinated strategy, cultivated in Florida, to roll back gun control laws everywhere.

  13. Concerned Neighbour says:

    Mark E Hoffer:

    Sane people do not do such despicable things. Are you disputing this?

    You can put a armed guard in every classroom and a camera on every street corner, or you could try to deal with the root causes of the problem. Why not spend all that money on providing care for the mentally ill and enforcing laws to prevent such people from getting their hands on arsenals?

    BTW, congratulations on completely ignoring the rest of my original post.

  14. Frilton Miedman says:

    S Brennan, go buy some Ammonium nitrate…tell us how that goes.

    You’re making a generic statement without knowing the facts, Wally is correct, Ammonium nitrate is now a controlled substance like dynamite & plutonium.

    Sure, someone can concoct smaller, less powerful explosives with common household chemicals, but not like the OK bomb.

    With a ban on auto-assault weapons, there might be 15 more 6 yr old kids alive today when he stopped to reload, giving them a chance to tackle him or run.

    I’m getting extremely disgusted with the voracity all these “soldier of fortune” types, enough is enough, you’re going to have to play with safer toys – get over it.

    Now, ZeRoHeDgE is promoting the ridiculous notion that we ought arm school teachers, f-ck it, let’s just arm the children.

  15. haggis says:

    I live in a city of 7.5 million people (Hong Kong). In an average year there are about 35 murders – there might be 1 murder a year involving a gun and it’s front page news when it happens. This is the safest large city I have ever lived in and I’d say that factor contributes hugely to my enjoyment of living here.

    Americans are perfectly free to debate their constitutional right to own firearms and what that may actually mean. But any debate framed around the notion that ownership of firearms contributes to a higher level of personal security is nonsense. Quality of life derives from actually being safe – not from thinking you can blow the other guy away before he blows you away.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

  16. Concerned Neighbor,

    see..

    Mark E Hoffer Says:
    December 16th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    to me, these ~Two Ideas..

    drtomaso Says:
    December 16th, 2012 at 5:01 am

    Also, while I am heartened by the outpouring of support from the mental health community in making counseling services available free of charge for anyone in the town that requires them following this tragedy, it might have been cheaper and less painful if the one person who really needed the assistance of a mental health professional had had access to free services, say a week ago.

    You know, like the rest of the worlds’ advanced industrial democracies do for their citizens.
    ~~

    Gee, maybe?, I lead with that one, you know, For a Reason.
    ~~

    though, with..

    “…You can put a armed guard in every classroom and a camera on every street corner, or you could try to deal with the root causes of the problem…”

    nice False Dichotomy you are attempting to create..

    what’s the matter? Couch empty, too, frequently?

  17. Guns and the Insurrection Myth

    The issue of guns in America is intransigent. True believers on both sides hold fixed positions, portraying their opponents in the darkest possible terms. Enforcement of the Brady Law has thwarted thousands of ex-cons and criminals from acquiring arms without seriously inconveniencing legitimate gun buyers, but this hasn’t led to a new era of pragmatic compromise.

    Polls show that most Americans don’t wish to eliminate personal gun ownership, they simply want more accountability. In 1998, Attorney General Janet Reno made an apt parallel between firearms and automobiles. Both are potentially lethal devices, yet close to two hundred million drivers participate in a system of training, licensing, registration and regulation that results in remarkably low levels of injury, averaged over billions of human-hours on our roads. Despite drunk drivers, pollution, and traffic jams, motorists seem to handle their metal behemoths — each car filled with flammable liquids — for the most part courteously, reliably and with great skill.

  18. Natacuy says:

    Appreciate your mature, level-headed moderation of this topic, Barry. Not many I can find on the net tonight. The subject is just too emotional for many right now.

  19. philipat says:

    As a final comment from me on this, the most interesting part of barry’s comments “Might we ever get a Supreme Court that understands a “well regulated militia” is not the same as an “heavily armed population?” has really not been touched upon.

    I am pleased that Barry’s filters are working because my next comments always result in vitriol and hate responses on any site frequented mostly by Americans.

    The Constitutional Amnedment actually proscribes a”Well regulated Militia”, which in most countries is referred to as “Armed Forces”, it does NOT sya the a “Heavily armed population is the objective. This has been before the SCOTUS on several occasions and, on the last occasion, the NRA lobby won by 5-4 only.

  20. Glock: America’s Gun

    For all the anguish and outcry in the days after a community college dropout named Jared Loughner allegedly sprayed a Tucson crowd with 33 bullets from a semiautomatic pistol, one response was notably absent: any sense that America’s latest shooting spree, which killed six people and wounded 14, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, would bring new restrictions on the right to own or carry large-capacity, rapid-fire weapons.

    The gun control debate has vanished from American politics, but it wasn’t always so invisible. Twenty years ago, when another apparently deranged man fired a semiautomatic pistol into a crowd, killing 23 people in Killeen, Tex., politicians rushed the microphones to denounce the weapon itself as “a death machine,” as Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, put it on the floor of the House. A so-called assault weapons ban became law three years later. That law has now expired. Since Loughner’s attack, liberal pundits, gun control advocates, and congressional backbenchers have been talking about instituting new controls. The voices that count, however, including President Barack Obama and the congressional leaders in both parties, have had nothing to say on the subject.

    Their silence is just one measure of how thoroughly Gaston Glock—a former curtain-rod maker from Austria whose company manufactured the pistols used in Tucson and Killeen—has managed to dominate not just the American handgun market, but America’s gun consciousness. Before Glock arrived on the scene in the mid-1980s, the U.S. was a revolver culture, a place where most handguns fired five or six shots at a measured pace, then needed to be reloaded one bullet at a time. With its large ammunition capacity, quick reloading, light trigger pull, and utter reliability, the Glock was hugely innovative—and an instant hit with police and civilians alike. Headquartered in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria, the company says it now commands 65 percent of the American law enforcement market, including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. It also controls a healthy share of the overall $1 billion U.S. handgun market, according to analysis of production and excise tax data. (Precise figures aren’t available because Glock and several large rivals, including Beretta and Sig Sauer, are privately held.)

    With all those customers and that visibility, it’s no surprise that the Glock has also been the gun of choice for some prolific psychopaths. Byran Uyesugi used a Glock 17 to kill seven people at a Xerox (XRX) office in Honolulu in 1999. Seung-Hui Cho, who murdered 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007 before killing himself, used the same Glock 19 model that Loughner is accused of firing in Tucson. Steven Kazmierczak packed a Glock 17 when he shot 21 people, killing five, at Northern Illinois University in 2008.

    The smooth-firing Glock did not cause these massacres any more than it holds up convenience stores. But when outfitted with an extra-large magazine, it can raise the body count. The shooters in Arizona, Illinois, Virginia, Hawaii, and Texas could not have inflicted so many casualties so quickly had they been armed with old-fashioned revolvers. In its 2010 catalog, the manufacturer boasts that while the Glock 19 is “comparable in size and weight to the small .38 revolvers it has replaced,” the pistol “is significantly more powerful with greater firepower and is much easier to shoot fast and true.”

    The Tucson gunman demonstrated those qualities all too vividly. Loughner is said to have emptied his 33-round clip in a minute or two, a feat requiring no special skill. (Glock does not sell magazines of that size to civilians, but some of its guns can accommodate them. The model 19 comes with a standard 15-round clip.) Loughner was wrestled to the ground by onlookers only when he paused to insert a fresh magazine. If he had been forced to reload sooner, the odds are good there would be fewer victims. Glock executives did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

  21. Canada Joe says:

    In 1989 my nation had a tragedy at an all girl univeristy Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. A crazed individual killed 14 women. I was a young boy at the time so I do not remember the political moves made to ensure that did not happen again. However, I do remember the education I received from women with in my family about violence and it is one of the few news broadcasts I remember from my youth (the other being the Meech Lake Accords, CNN broadcasting Gulf 1 and the fake dead babies, Reagan and “bring this wall down” then seeing the wall come down, and Yeltsin on a tank…).

    Sadly these events happen around the world. I do not want to list other terrible acts, but with Americans so polarized will Winston Churchill’s maxim hold up?

    America needs to have a bigger conversation than just guns. Gun violence is a symptom of the disease.

  22. ami_in_deutschland says:

    All those protesting against even modest restrictions upon gun ownership and usage would do well to remember that even the switchblade, due to its pronounced suitability for use in violent acts, is outlawed by federal and most state laws. Why should we regulate guns any less?

    On a personal note: At times I contemplate moving back to the United States with my family. The gun craziness of US society highlighted by horrible events like these pretty well dashes that thought from any consideration, however.

  23. marka says:

    Just realized that I never wrote about the original question What Can Gun Control Advocates Do?

    And I don’t know what they should do, but they need to do something different as whatever they are doing now is failing, and failing badly.

    I’m also finding the “news” coverage of tragedy today is just voyerism. The details of what happened in the school, simply do not bear reading about. The adults were brave, and they died, the children were terrified, and they to died. No other useful information is imparted.

  24. Greg0658 says:

    if I was to blogon with what I found .. the shooters mother worked finance in Boston, lived in a nice home, doesn’t seem to have been employed at 52yo, maybe volunteered at the school, divorced recently enough to mention, yet had cash to train her son at gun ranges with CT registered and legally purchased weaponry (including a shotgun highcap magazine/in trunk) then add a son that we have heard had mental health issues

  25. Greg0658 says:

    oh and seems – this went down from glass door blast to gain entry to a total of 10-15min before suicide sunk in – seems closer to 10m end

  26. Greg0658 says:

    sorry thread count – just gotta add – ‘ suicide sunk in ‘ as 911 responders were beckoning

  27. Gun Debate Must Avoid Crazy Second Amendment Claims

    The rise of the Second Amendment as a serious obstacle to U.S. gun control legislation is astonishingly recent.

    Its rise is a tribute less to the vision of the Founding Fathers than to the skill, money and power of the contemporary gun-rights movement, which has not only exerted disproportionate influence on Congress, but also helped transform the landscape of constitutional argument. We should be able to have a serious national discussion uninhibited by wild and unsupportable claims about the meaning of the Constitution.

    Here’s a quick way to see how rapidly things have changed. Warren Burger was a conservative Republican, appointed U.S. chief justice by President Richard Nixon in 1969. In a speech in 1992, six years after his retirement from the court, Burger declared that “the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to have firearms at all.” In his view, the purpose of the Second Amendment was only “to ensure that the ‘state armies’ — ‘the militia’ — would be maintained for the defense of the state.”

    A year before, Burger went even further. On “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” Burger said the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” Burger wasn’t in the habit of taking stands on controversial constitutional questions on national television. In using the word “fraud,” Burger meant to describe what he saw as a clear consensus about the meaning of the Constitution.

  28. Dan Primack says:

    The money behind the Newtown massacre (Fortune)

    One way to reduce mass shootings is for big institutions to stop funding the assault weapon manufacturers.

    FORTUNE — Do you know who owns more than a 6% stake in the maker of .223 Bushmaster rifles, like the one used last Friday to murder 20 first graders and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut? California public schoolteachers.

    The company in question is Freedom Group, a privately-held firearms conglomerate formed by private equity and hedge fund group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus created the platform in April 2006 via the acquisition of Bushmaster, after which it added another 10 makers of firearms, ammunition and accessories (including Remington, Marlin Arms and Barnes Bullets).

    The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) committed to invest a whopping $500 million into a $7.5 billion Cerberus fund that has helped bankroll Freedom Group. That means that it effectively could own a 6.67% stake in the gun maker, which filed to go public in late 2009 before pulling the offering in early 2011. In fact, the figure could be even higher since CalSTRS also committed $100 million to a $1.4 billion predecessor fund, which likely made the original investment.

  29. Philip Bump says:

    No, Really, Regulate the Bullets

    Perhaps the best argument in favor of limiting ammunition, though, is this. The mantra of firearms advocates is the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which reads:

    “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.”

    It doesn’t say a single thing about the right to own bullets. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, bullets were largely inert slugs, loaded into flint-lock muskets propelled with loose gunpowder packed into the muzzle. There was no need to assure the right to ammunition, which may be the loophole the government needs to dramatically curtail the scourge of gun violence.

  30. Cato says:

    An argument that is trotted out time and time again by those opposed to stronger gun-control/regulation/whatever you want to call it is that guns are irrelevant and these people will simply use another method such as bombs, knives etc to achieve their mass salughtering aims. These claims seem to be demonstrably false to me, for example how can they explain the similar case (albiet with a knife) of a deranged man who attacked a school in China: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/evanosnos/2012/12/china-watches-newtown-guns-american-credibility.html

    The key quote being “The children of Chengping were still filtering into the local elementary school on Friday morning, China time, when a deranged th…irty-six-year-old man named Min Yingjun entered the campus. He carried a knife. (China bans private gun ownership.) By the time the security guards got to him, he had wounded twenty-two children and one adult. All survived. China, like most places, had seen this kind of madness before: one especially heavy string of school attacks in 2010 killed nearly twenty people and wounded more than fifty. The killers are as hard to recall in their particulars as they deserve. A few hours later, on the other side of the globe, when Adam Lanza entered a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the particulars of his motive were unknown and, in the long run, beside the point. The point was that he carried not a knife but two semiautomatic handguns—a Sig Sauer and a Glock—and a rifle on par with those used by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the time he killed himself, he had killed twenty children and seven other adults, many of them at point-blank range. Only one person that he shot has survived”

  31. dfourth says:

    philipat,

    The question of whether the second Amendment is a private right to own guns or only allows for a militia has only been tested once before the Supreme Court in Heller vs. DC. No prior case, including Miller actually addressed this issue.

  32. dfourth says:

    ami_in_deutschland,

    Weapons are regulated in the U.S. in the U.S. in all manner of ways. Like switchblades, many types are banned.

    Life in any country has risks. However, cars are a much greater threat than guns in the United States. In 2010, there were 32,885 traffic deaths in the United States. In the same year, there were 8,775 firearms homicides (FBI statistics). Drunk drivers killed 10,228 people. All of these numbers have fallen substantially over the years. In 1982, their were 21,113 drunk driving deaths. The death rate from drunk driving has fallen 64% since 1982. The murder rates (all weapons) has fallen by over 50% in the same period.

  33. CurrencySpider says:

    Everything in the Universe belongs to a hierarchy. Many similarities exist between these hierarchies (just ask Ray Kurzweil).

    Consider:

    Macrophages surrounding an infected cell as to FDNY and EMS getting to a scene

    Galaxy appearing like a hurricane

    Electrons around the atom like planets around the sun

    As such, you must handle what is publicly considered an adverse situation, similarly to what works on other hierarchical levels.

    We do not tackle computer viruses with less anti-virus software but rather more.

    We do not tackle disease with less drugs but more.

    Cells have selective permeability, PH deterrence, special protein-marker deterrence and other basic defenses giving them just enough time to help against a virus or bacteria until the WBC’s can get to them for help like FDNY or EMS. If it were not for these primary defenses, life would look much different and would have evolved differently.

    In the situation of preventing shootings, society needs to implement a primary defense much like a cell’s own defenses before the public first-responders arrive (too late). Defenses internally and on the surface must be increased (not decreased).

    Deterrence is our best method (see Florida and Texas).

    On another note, our Western society is very ill. We have far too many young intellects who have an MIT-like intelligence but do not know how to externalize productively like MIT students are taught to. Kurzweil suggests entrepreneurial education in high school. This may help intellects (the ones susceptible to pathology anyway) know how to make themselves productively known instead of committing the ultimate human sin to become well known.

    Dr. Meli

  34. Frilton Miedman says:

    Cato Says:
    December 17th, 2012 at 8:44 am
    “…. He carried a knife. (China bans private gun ownership.) By the time the security guards got to him, he had wounded twenty-two children and one adult. All survived. ”

    ~~~

    “…. He carried a knife. …. All survived. ”

    Imagine if he’d had an AR-15 with high capacity magazines.

    I don’t think I’ve seen a single post advocating we illegalize all guns, consensus appears to want background checks on private sales that account for 40% of all sales, and a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.

    This is bad for gun manufacturers, which is what the NRA fights for – their solution is to arm school teachers instead, which is good for gun sales.

    74% of NRA members favor background checks, yet the NRA threatens the career of any politician who mentions it.

  35. jessem says:

    New reports state, Nancy Lanza told friend recently she felt that she was “losing her son”….

  36. Bill Wilson says:

    I support a ban on assault weapons, waiting periods, background checks, and other sensible restrictions, but I don’t think a Washington D.C. style outright ban is appropriate.
    Civil society is ultimately a compromise between freedom and safety. Gun opponents will ask, “Why do you need a gun.” In a free country, do you need a justification? If you like guns and you’re not bothering anyone, should the horrible actions of others be used to restrict your freedom. In my opinion, within reason, yes. But not a complete prohibition.
    I think there is a good analogy between guns and alcohol. I like to have a couple beers now and then, and like most people, I’m responsible. I don’t drive drunk or abuse family members. Too often that is not the case. Innocent people are killed by drunk drivers every day. Innocent children are abused by alcoholic family members. And do the responsible people like me ever really need to drink, of course not.
    Should we bring back prohibition to protect the innocent from those who should not touch alcohol? I don’t think that would be appropriate, and I don’t think an outright ban on guns is appropriate either in a free society. Some of the things that we enjoy in life will cause harm to others. Finding the balance is what’s important.

  37. SkepticalOx says:

    I’m still baffled by why some keep trotting out car accident numbers to compare to gun-related deaths. These are not apples to apples comparison. They also miss the fact that there are strict laws against impaired-driving (even if you don’t get into an accident and kill someone). Once technology gets to the point that cars can drive themselves (less accidents), even driving yourself might be restricted for the safety of others. So why not stricter laws/regulations on guns like cars? Why not force guns to have biometric locks (so only the licensed person can pull the trigger)? If we can force car manufacturers to put TPMS, seat belts, traction control, pass safety test after safety test, why not the same for guns?

    I also feel that what gets lost in this whole “freedom” and “liberty” debate to owning a gun is who is on the other side of the barrel (the ones getting shot, or their parents, family, etc.). Where is their freedom or liberty to their safety. Anti gun-control advocates love to laud “liberty” or fighting “tyranny” as a reason for not restricting gun sales, but what happens when it starts harming others? No one is asking to ban guns outright – but to have some sensible policies and laws towards them.

    Things aren’t black and white, and yet, anti gun-control advocates make it seem like any interference at all is bad.

    (and P.S. – there doesn’t seem to be much correlation regarding tyrannical governments/authoritarian governments and gun control policy either. Source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/11/armed_but_not_necessarily_dangerous)

  38. Frilton Miedman says:

    SkepticalOx,

    Car owners drive far more frequently then gun owners use their weapons, it’s not a reasonable comparison to compare ownership to percent of fatalities.

    For statistical purposes, of comparing driving deaths to gun deaths – let’s say we compared the total number of driving fatalities to to the number of necessarily drives using a car.

    Then, we compare the number of times gun were used to hunt, and for self protection and compare the sum of necessary uses to number of gun fatalities.

    The Giffords incident, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and this Friday’s school shootings all would have been dramatically mitigated if the perpetrators only had standard handguns without extended mags.

  39. JasRas says:

    Ok…let me ask the question to pro gun control advocates: Seeing as the “horse is out of the barn” in a manner of speaking, just what sort of gun control do you propose that will prevent incidents such as these from occurring? How will you implement them in the “free-ist” country in the world?

    Here is my concern about gun control **after the fact***…it makes politicians feel good and beat their chests because the “did something” and it gives the general public a false sense of security because a law is in place.

    Are there fewer homicides in other Developed nations (ala Europe) because of gun control? Or is there less violence because the number of police per 100k people is 50% larger than the U.S…? Many point to gun control as the “cause”, but perhaps it is coincidental… Let us not forget the insane killer in Norway a couple summers ago who went on a rampage killing (over 40, if I remember correctly–mostly children). The incident went on far too long because local first responders didn’t have weapons? (please correct me if I remember this wrong, but I thought it took several hours for weaponized responders to arrive on the scene) Crazy people do crazy things–everywhere in the world. We have a greater freedom of speech than anywhere allowing for more radical thoughts to be shared legally than other developed countries. We have more control of our local governments and budgets and choose not to have as many law enforcement people as other developed countries. We also chose some time ago to cut our budgets *significantly* for helping those with mental health issues—choosing to “mainstream” them into society (i.e. hope they blended and disappeared into the background).

    I do not have a problem with restricting magazine sizes. There is no practical application to a 25-30 round magazine in the public’s hands. “Assault rifles” are no different than any other semi-auto rifle except for the magazine size. I do not have a problem with periodic audits of people with registered guns to ensure they are stored safely as the law expects. We do not know if the mother had these weapons in a gun safe, had trigger locks, etc…but it is likely safe to say that since her son killed her, he likely knew combos, and key locations anyhow.

    My last point would simply be to not fool yourself into thinking that stricter gun-control laws equal a safer world. Rule followers follow the law…Criminals and the insane could give a damn. It will always be this way. Criminals will always retain access to weapons, will law abiding people? How’s that working out in California, New York, Illinois, and Connecticut (four states with “tough” gun control laws)…What is the gun homicide rate in the U.S. if we back out those states? Are homicides due to gun’s availability? Would they happen anyhow in densely populated areas? Maybe we should restrict population density? I am not saying this to be funny. I am saying this because it is terribly easy to simplify this issue when there are so many other potential factors…

  40. Frilton Miedman says:

    JasRas Says:
    December 17th, 2012 at 7:38 pm
    ” Ok…let me ask the question to pro gun control advocates: Seeing as the “horse is out of the barn” in a manner of speaking, just what sort of gun control do you propose that will prevent incidents such as these from occurring? ”

    ~~~

    Frilton Miedman Says:
    December 17th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    “The Giffords incident, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and this Friday’s school shootings all would have been dramatically mitigated if the perpetrators only had standard handguns without extended mags. “

  41. JasRas says:

    I agree on extended mags going forward, but again, the horse is out of the barn and how many thousands upon thousands extended mags exist in gen pop already? You can get a 30 round mag for a Glock handgun, so it’s not even limited to rifles…

    This is a very tough genie to place back in a bottle, especially since it’s been out since….the birth of our country.

  42. Simon Rogers says:

    Gun homicides and gun ownership listed by country

    Where are the world’s guns – and which countries have the highest rates of firearms murders?

    How does the US really compare on firearms? The world’s crime figures are collected by the UNODC through its annual crime survey. It has a special section of data on firearm homicides – and provides detailed information by size of population and compared to other crimes. It is not a perfect dataset – some key nations are missing from the data, including Russia, China and Afghanistan. But it does include the US, UK and many other developed nations.

    The Small Arms Survey is also useful – although it is from 2007, it collates civilian gun ownership rates for 178 countries around the world, and has ‘normalised’ the data to include a rate per 100,000 population.

    It shows that:

    “With less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35–50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, heavily skewing the global geography of firearms and any relative comparison”

    So, given those caveats, we can see which countries have the highest ownership rates for firearms – and which have the highest gun murder rates.

    The key facts are:

    • The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts it first in the world for gun ownership – and even the number two country, Yemen, has significantly fewer – 54.8 per 100 people
    • But the US does not have the worst firearm murder rate – that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. In fact, the US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people
    • Puerto Rico tops the world’s table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides – 94.8%. It’s followed by Sierra Leone in Africa and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean

    The full data is here

  43. The data contradicts what many of you are suggesting:

    Gun ownership versus Gun deaths
    click for larger graphic

    http://globalsociology.com/2012/12/15/on-the-guns-thing-i-would-just-like-to-point-out/

    No, lots of gun ownership does not reduce homicide rates

  44. stevenp says:

    “Gun ownership versus Gun deaths”

    On the Piers Morgan page, I disputed this. Guess it is better to head over to http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/12/piers-morgan-slaps-gun-advocates-upside-their-heads/ rather than cut and paste my arguments.

  45. JasRas says:

    I do sincerely appreciate the attempt that many are making at justifying more stringent gun control laws, but even Barry shows a graph of gun ownership to gun deaths as “proof”, while there are in actuality many factors to consider. One be pure and simple homicides, which includes “murder” and “manslaughter”. In Australia, they actually removed guns from general population at a cost of 1/2 billion dollars after they had a massacre in ’95. It is perhaps one of the more restrictive places in the world with regards to gun laws. Yet, while they moved the dot on “murder” (more clear cut with a gun involved), the manslaughter has not moved significantly. Homicides have dropped nearly 30%. Assaults have grown 50%, and Sexual assault has grown 21%, and kidnapping/abduction has grown 26%. Of course, gun homicides have dropped tremendously as they bought them off the street and have restricted ownership great to mainly ranchers and hunters. But homicides still happen, and other crimes have increased significantly. People with evil intent will still act out *even without guns*, and frankly, the lawless don’t really care about the law anyhow, which is why gun homicides didn’t go to zero despite their efforts…in fact, for the effort, I suspect the results are somewhat disappointing…

    The sick thing from the Newtown event is how short a period of time it took for advocates and media to see this as a banner for their cause…Even the NRA kept their yaps shut for a week, but not anyone else… There is no law that can be passed that will effectively address and prevent this from happening again, save a change to the 2nd amendment and a confiscatory policy on guns existing in general population now. EVERYTHING else is simply hot air.

    We have tremendous freedoms in this country, we also have perhaps one of the most diverse populations of a single country and that leads to friction. We have a ratio of guns to population that is nearing 1:1, and for that one might think our gun related crimes might be much higher than they are.

    Newtown is in Connecticut, which is among some of the most restrictive states regarding gun control—and yet, here we are. We are here because our society pulled the plug on Federal mental health budgets, because our social safety net is woefully frayed by lack of funding and inattention. We are here because of poor parenting decisions by a woman who thought it appropriate to expose a child who was not mentally “normal” to a culture of guns, target shooting, and violent video games. This boy/man would have acted out eventually, with or without guns. No one can or will ever be able to explain his mental state to take the actions he did, but it could have just as easily been driving a car onto a playground filled with children and been just as horrific if he hadn’t access to weapons. Point being, a person with violent intent is going to find a way to act out.

    I am not some gun nut. But I am pragmatic enough to know that there is no gun control law that can pass that is going to make me feel safer, or that accomplished anything but some back slapping by politicians and high fives by advocates who are spending too much time fixing symptoms rather than the root.