Friday, January 28, 2011

Utah May Designate A State Gun

Wow.  Did you hear about this?  Having apparently run out of peaceful things to designate as symbols of their state, Utah is now moving through a piece of legislation to designate a state gun:  the Browning M1911 .45 semi-automatic handgun.  It's a powerful handgun that has been around since 1911 in various civilian and military forms and currently is popular for conceal carry.  The inventor, John Moses Browning, is a favorite son of Utah.  There's even a museum in his honor in the train station in Ogden, Utah.  I've been to the museum.  Yep, lots of guns there.

The state bill (H.B. 219) was introduced by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman — a former police officer, a life member of the National Rifle Association and an instructor for concealed weapons classes (source).  It's just a guess, but I'm thinking that Rep. Wimmer and I wouldn't see eye-to-eye about the message he's trying to send.

From a related article from New York Times:  "On Monday, the Utah State Capitol celebrated Browning Day, honoring John Moses Browning, native son and maker of the nominee for Official State Firearm. There were speeches, a proclamation, a flyover by a National Guard helicopter, and, of course, a rotunda full of guns."

Eeesh. Talk about our gun culture run amuck!  This isn't about honoring John Moses Browning or some other inventor -- that is only about the model to use for the symbol. The bigger problem here is that they are choosing a gun as a symbol of their state, like they did a bird (California seagull) or song ("Utah, This Is the Place") or even cooking pot (Dutch oven).  This is nothing more than glorification of our culture of guns and violence and a statement of that state's overwhelmingly ultra-conservative leanings.
What makes this particularly disgusting to me is that it comes on the heels of a particularly traumatic event in the national psyche -- the shooting in Tucson -- and the national debate about ways to decrease gun violence.   While national legislators are fighting hard to even get a committee hearing for bills that help prevent psychos from passing background checks by strengthening mental and criminal reporting, or to prevent further sale of extended ammo clips intended for doling out large-scale death, this bit of Utah legislation is expected to sail through the state process.

Some may see the designation of a state gun as some sort of patriotic symbol, but it only highlights the problems we face with crime and easy access to guns.  Birds honor a natural characteristic of a state.  A song honors a portion of the state's cultural history or quality. A state pot.... well, I don't know what they were thinking!  But a gun?  Even if they had decided on a hunting rifle it would have been less harsh.  This model of handgun, though often used for target shooting, was invented for only one purpose: the killing of humans.  Why doesn't the state designate a hangman's noose? An AK-47?  Or a bayonet?  These all "deal out justice" too. I see little difference for the message here, but it gives a very negative impression of Utah's values. 

If you live in Utah, I strongly urge you to contact your state representative and ask them oppose this disgusting show of glorifying violence. 

UPDATE (3/21/11):  The Utah Governor just signed the bill.  Utah is officially the first state to honor a device of death as a state symbol:


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President Obama, Take A Stand Against Gun Violence!

Tonight our President gave a State of the Union address.  He laid out plans for improving the economy, the military, education and science funding, about pulling together Republicans and Democrats, and various reforms.  Survivors from the Tucson shooting were in attendance.  What would he say about the shooting or gun violence?

I started out hopeful.  Not since the Virginia Tech massacre, or really the Columbine massacre, has public discourse and opinion turned so strongly toward sensible gun legislation.  In the past month we've had a shooting of a sitting Congresswoman, a federal judge, a young girl, and 16 others in a single massacre in Tucson, and in the last 24 hours the shooting of 13 law enforcement officers, and an estimated 6700 other Americans in January alone.

Each of the senators and congressmen had an awareness ribbon on their chest in honor of the Giffords shooting:  a white ribbon with a black stripe through the middle ("The white ribbon represents hope for a peaceful, nonviolent society. The black ribbon is in remembrance of all who have died and been wounded as a result of violence.").  A promising start.  Interestingly, the President chose not to wear one.

But what did the President say about gun violence?  He acknowledged the shooting in Tucson by highlighting Gifford's empty seat.  Great! I thought.  A moment later, he added, "But there's a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause."  I leaned forward.  Yes?  Is he going to lay out our culture of violence and the ease of which anyone can get a gun?  Mention the need for mandatory background checks for all gun purchases?  The excessiveness of a 30-round large ammo clip?  Strengthening mental illness records?  No!  Instead he goes on to say that the reason the tragedy gives us pause is because we need to rise above party and political differences to fulfill our dreams and the promise of America.

Well, that's well and good, Mr. President, and I agree, but it hardly strikes at the cause of the tragedy!  That's not why I paused.  There was no mention of the McCarthy bill to ban large ammo clips, or the Tucson shooter's ability to fire 32 rounds in only 16 seconds.  There was no mention of the proposal to require background checks for all purchases.  There was no mention of improving mental health records in those background checks.  In fact, there was no mention at all about our culture of violence and guns.

His acknowledgment of the issue was as empty as Giffords' chair.

Would bringing up the issue of gun violence have been "dancing in the blood of victims" as some pro-gun people have written?  If that's what it takes to call attention to the issue, I'll do a freakin' tango in a pool of it!  They didn't shed their blood just to have us ignore the issue!  This isn't taking advantage of the unfortunate.  It is calling attention to yet another example of our policies gone wrong.  Instead, the NRA and pro-gun folks would rather take a hose and wash it away.  "Nothing to see here folks!  Just some red stuff.  It's gone now.  Just a random bad guy doing his thing.  Go about your business and honor the 2nd amendment.  There's a gun store just down the street."

Mr. President, and members of Congress, I call upon you to pay attention to the issue of gun violence and pass sensible legislation.  Solutions are out there, being proposed right now, to create a new trajectory for our nation away from gun violence.  Now is the time!  If this shooting or past mass shootings aren't enough to spur you into action, what, exactly, will it take?  How many must die to rouse your attention?  For four years, we haven't even had an ATF director.  100,000 shootings a year isn't enough death, maiming, and shattered lives??  What will it take for change?  Tell me!

A related article, by Shikha Hamilton:

Another related article:

And another related article from Paul Helmke:


Monday, January 24, 2011

Police Being Targeted

A couple nights ago there were shots fired in my normally-peaceful neighborhood, very close to my home, just before 9PM (first one shot, then a series of three).  I called 911, and police were dispatched to patrol the neighborhood minutes later.  As far as I know, though, nothing out of the ordinary was found.  Still, after locking my doors and turning on my house alarm, turning on outside lights, and talking to neighbors by phone, I watched the police drive slowly around, wondering if they would be fired at next.  They weren't, thankfully.

I had reason to worry about them.  It's a disturbing phenomenon in the last couple weeks:  shootings involving attacks on policemen.

Shootings of law enforcement, many fatal: in Detroit, MichiganPort Orchard, Washington; Indianapolis, Indiana; Lincoln City, here in Oregon; Miami, Florida; Lakewood, New Jersey; Ranier, Washington; Huntington, West Virginia; Hamburg, Pennsylvania; Savannah, Georgia; St. Petersburg, Florida; Portland, Oregon -- 12 shootings (that I have heard about, anyhow)!

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Website, we have had as many law enforcement shooting fatalities in the U.S. in just January of this year as we had for the entirety of 2010!  (14 deaths)

Some are clear ambushes.  Others are shootings more typical of officers investigating a crime and the criminals shooting at them as they arrive or are being arrested, which happen all year round.

Here is a good article reviewing some of the recent shooting, from

Our police officers put themselves in harm's way every day for our safety.  They train very well and are openly armed, and yet, clearly, still able to be ambushed and (sometimes) out-gunned -- even at a police station!

We need to insure that the police are better armed than their opponents.  We need to increase funding to many police forces, to insure adequate number of officers on the beat (vote for those bond measures!).  We need to tighten controls to help reduce availability of guns to people like these, through better and ubiquitous background checks on all gun purchases and better NICS reporting (see today's two-step proposal from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, for instance) [Police chiefs all over the nation support tighter gun control legislation].  And we need stricter sentencing, more prison space, and better rehabilitation services, to protect against recidivism with violent offenders.

As yet there is no clear pattern to the shootings (NOTE: I am not claiming one!), other than the targeting of people in authority (let's not forget the shooting of a Congresswoman and federal judge in Tucson, as well).  However, this rash of attacks on police illustrates one thing for certain:  crazy people out there with guns are willing to take on a clearly better-trained and openly-armed opponent. 

What does this say to the "open carry" movement and laws to allow gun owners to walk around with loaded weapons strapped to their bodies, outside of their clothing?  If these criminals will take on law enforcement, wouldn't they take on armed civilians playing "Wyatt Earp"?  I argue that officer shootings such as these illustrate that open-carry potentially marks you as a good target to these nutcases, doesn't guarantee you a jump on your opponent, and endangers those around you.

Related article:


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Moderate Gun Owners -- Speak Up! We Have A Lot In Common

It is always refreshing to talk to everyday gun owners about their views.  It's why I recently solicited gun owner responses.

The majority of activists against gun violence, such as myself, and organizations such as Ceasefire Oregon and the Brady Campaign, see eye-to-eye with the majority of gun owners on a wide range of issues:  safe gun storage, the need for proficiency training prior to purchasing a weapon, requirement of background checks for ALL gun purchases, severe limits or banning of assault weapons and extended ammo clips, closing the gun show loophole, holding parents responsible for their children's safety regarding guns and gun accessibility (child access prevention laws), better mental health records for background checks, waiting periods, and other issues.  Here on New Trajectory and other similar blogs, we get comments from quite a few pro-gun extremists who advocate for no compromise at all, who make ridiculous attacks on the sound studies that have shown regulation of guns to be effective, or who feel personally outraged by background checks or other basic legislation because they feel they are being blamed for the actions of bad guys -- as if public safety as a whole is some sort of attack against law-abiding citizens. 

But when I actually talk to the typical gun owner, those extremists are shown for what they are. 

Need proof?  Over at the Common Gunsense blog is a recent post where the author posted quotes from gun owners she knows, all of whom are sensible people who support common sense legislation in these areas.  There are also links there to articles and videos, such as this one, where other gun owners feel the same, and a link to the recent study sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which shows such agreement.  HERE is a link summarizing that survey.  Heck, even Dick Cheney, as hard-line a conservative politician as you can get, recently showed a willingness to open up to tighter gun regulation.

But don't take my word for it, or the word or those I mention above; start a dialogue yourself with gun owners and non-gun owners.  I think you'll find agreement with the majority of them.

One can only wonder why the NRA wouldn't be behind what the majority of gun owners feel are important pieces of legislation.  Has the NRA become an organization of extremists, intent upon ignoring public safety for stubborn adherence to hard-line interpretations of the second amendment?  Remember, 33,000 people die every year in the U.S. by gunfire (around 10,000 via homicide), and another 70,000 injured. Far higher than any other nation not at war.

If you are a gun owner, and you support common sense legislation to curb gun violence, I urge you to contact your politicians and tell them you support these changes.  And if they don't represent your views, perhaps it is time to withdraw your support in the next election. 

The same goes for the NRA, if you're a member.  Tell them how you feel.  If they don't back these changes, withdraw your membership.

I might also add that you can be a gun owner and still support organizations such as Ceasefire Oregon and the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.  We welcome your support to make our communities safer.  Let's give our communities a new trajectory away from gun violence, together.

UPDATE (1/19/11):  Here is another link with data that goes very well with this data, including maps of gun death rates by state and information on variables (such as poverty or strictness of gun laws) that have correlative associations:


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alternatives to Gun Ownership for Home Protection

Having a firearm in your home may FEEL as if you are protecting yourself, but it is an illusion.  For every gun that is used for self-defense, there are 11 guns in homes used for completed or attempted suicides, 7 used in criminal assaults and homicides, and 4 used in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263). In other words, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to harm someone in the household than to protect them.  Pulling a gun on an intruder may also escalate the situation, making a simple home robbery, which may not be fatal, into a life-and-death shootout.  The risk of homicide is three times higher in homes with firearms (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084).

Gun advocates like to push forward the scenario of a home invasion, when you are home and have to defend your life against brutal attackers bent on killing and raping.  Does that scenario happen?  Yes, but it is very rare.  The chance that those guns will be used against you are far greater.  According to Catalano (2010), household burglaries occur on average about 3.7 million times a year (based on data from 2003 to 2007).   Most burglaries occur when no one is home (72 percent).  Of the burglaries in which someone was home and violence occurred (7 percent of all burglaries), 65 percent of victims knew the robber.  Most people subject to violence were not injured or suffered minor injury (89 percent). Burglary-related homicides are rare, accounting for 430 average annual homicides or less than 1 percent of total homicides (2003-2007). Approximately 95,460 firearms were stolen in burglaries every year during this time period. That gun you bought to protect you against the bad guys is now in their hands, untraceable, and potentially maiming or killing innocents.

Sure, most adult non-felons have the right to own a firearm, but that doesn't mean it makes sense for them to do so.  Though I and Ceasefire Oregon do not advocate for gun ownership for nearly any reason, we especially recommend that a home NOT have a gun in it if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • if anyone in the household has a history of violence or felony conviction
  •  if there are children of any age in the home (even if the gun is stored locked and unloaded, children typically know combinations and where keys are kept -- The National Violent Injury Statistics System, p. 2).
  •  if anyone in the household is emotionally unstable, depressed, or has expressed thoughts of suicide (Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467, p. Wiebe, p. 771).
  •   if your family has a history of problems with guns

Make your home a hard target.  Burglers will more likely pass you up to find an easier home to break into.  So what are some alternatives to owning a gun? 

  • Be aware.  If you see something suspicious, react.  Go inside.  Lock the door. Call the police.  Call your neighbors.
  • Insure that all doors and windows have strong locks, and that you use them whenever possible. Be judicious about who has keys to your home.
  • Purchase and use a home security system, and advertise the fact with exterior signs.  These systems can be costly, but well worth the price.
  • If a home security system is not within your budget, you can still purchase signs to fool would-be intruders.  You can also install inexpensive magnet-alarms for windows and doors.  Most burglars wouldn't know the difference.
  • Get a dog and advertise the fact that you have it.  If a dog is not a reasonable choice for your household, you can still put a used dog bowl and leash near your door, along with signs, to fool intruders.
  • Know your neighbors, talk with them regularly, and keep an eye on each other's homes.  Share phone numbers so you can call each other if there is anything suspicious.  Notify them of your schedule, particularly if you are going away on vacation.  Your neighbors and you don't have to be best buddies, but if you just introduce yourself and show you are more than just "that guy next to me" they'll be more likely to react if they see someone suspicious around your property.
  •  Remove privacy fences or large hedges that impede sight of your doors and windows from the road.  We all like privacy, but it allows intruders to enter unseen.
  •  Install motion-sensing lights outside your home, back and front.
  • Start or join a neighborhood watch program for your block, and be active in it.
  • Many local police forces have programs where, if you request it, they will patrol your property more often while you are away on vacation, or will patrol more often if you have a reason to feel threatened.

Of course, if you disagree with my suggestion not to own a gun, you can still do all of these suggestions in addition to owning a gun, thus reducing the need to have to use it.

For more facts about the dangers of having a gun in your home, see this page of New Yorkers Against Gun violence, which cites studies for their statements:

Addendum (3/7/13): Some additional thoughts, posted at the National Crime Prevention Council site, as well as this poster.

Citations mentioned above:

Catalano, Shannon, “Victimization During Household Burglary,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, September 2010, NCJ 227379

Kellermann, Arthur L.MD, MPH, et al. “Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership.” New England Journal of Medicine 327 (1992): 467-72.

Kellermann, Arthur L. MD., MPH, et al. “Gun Ownership As a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home.” New England Journal of Medicine 329 (1993) 1084-1119

Kellermann, Arthur L.MD, MPH, et al. “Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home.” Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care 45 (1998): 263-67

The National Violent Injury Statistics System. Youth Suicide: Findings from a pilot for the National Violent Death Reporting System. Boston: Harvard Injury Control Research Center: Harvard School of Public Health, 2009. Originally accessed through Harvard School of Public Health: Means Matters. Source of Firearms in Youth Suicides. Boston: Harvard School of Public Health, 2009.

Wiebe, Douglas J. PhD. “Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated With Firearms in the Home: A National Case-Control Study.” Annals of Emergency Medicine 41 (2003): 771-82.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Support the McCarthy Bill

"There will be without question a horrific crime committed without an assault weapon ban, and every member of Congress will have to ask where were they are on the issue." Representative Christopher Shays (R- Conn), USA Today, September 12, 2004.

Sadly, Representative Shays was correct.

During the January 8 Tucson Massacre, a lone gunman used a Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol equipped with a high-capacity ammunition magazine to shoot 19 people at U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords' event at a shopping center to meet with her consitituents. He killed six people, including a federal judge and a nine year old girl. Because his ammunition magazine held up to 33 bullets, he was able to commit all this carnage very quickly and without reloading his gun.

When the gunman opened fire, Mary Reed shielded her daughter with her own body, taking three bullets before the killer moved on. Incredibly, Ms. Reed did not suffer critical injuries and her daughter was not shot, due solely to her mother's bravery.  Patricia Maisch knew that the gunman was aiming for her next, but he had just emptied his first ammunition magazine, so he tried to reload his weapon. As he did, Ms. Maisch grabbed the magazine from the killer. Two other men, Roger Salzgeber and Bill D. Badger, then tackled the killer, and the massacre ended. Fortunately, Ms. Maisch, Mr. Salzgeber, and Mr. Badger all survived.

The courage of these Tucson heroes is astounding.

This massacre, however, could have been avoided had our politicians had the courage to stand up to the gun lobby in September 2004. Large-capacity ammunition magazines (defined as those holding more than ten bullets) that were manufactured after September 1994 were prohibited by the federal assault weapons ban. But Congress allowed that law to expire in 2004 because too few members of Congress were willing to stand up to the NRA.

Nor did American politicians have the courage to stand up to the NRA in April 2007, when the same type of large-capacity ammuntion magazine was used in the Virginia Tech Massacre to kill 32 people and leave 17 injured.

To staunch the flow of blood in this country, we must help our politicians find the courage to oppose the NRA and other elements of the gun lobby.

Representative Carolyn McCarthy has just announced that she will introduce a new bill in the U.S. House, "Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices Act," which will prohibit the transfer, importation, or possession of large-capacity magazines.

Ceasfire Oregon strongly supports Rep. McCarthy's bill. We also strongly support a ban on assault weapons, including the Tec-9, AK-47, and Uzi.

Please tell your congressional representatives that it is time to have the courage of the Tucson heroes and take genuine steps to prevent future shootings. Click here to send your representative a message.

Yesterday this country honored a great man of peace, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed by an assassin's bullet in April 1968. His assassination, and that of Robert F. Kennedy two months later, led Congress to enact the Gun Control Act of 1968.

In memory of Dr. King and Attorney General Kennedy, please take a moment now to urge Congress to take action to prevent gun violence. Ask Congress to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons.

Link to an article on the bill's introduction, from Congresswoman McCarthy's website:,155&itemid=1719

Michael Moore on Rachel Maddow Show Yesterday

A great interview of Michael Moore yesterday on the Rachel Maddow show:

The first part is mainly focusing on a clip from Bowling for Columbine, about his success in getting Wal-Mart stores to stop selling ammunition.  But of much more interest to me is the part beyond about the 7:30 mark on the video.  Here he goes into why Canada, which has very widespread gun ownership and hunting like in the U.S., has only about 200 murders a year, while in the U.S. it is SO much higher.  Why?  Listen to the regulation of guns there!   And it's just over the border, with a comparable culture in nearly every other way to the U.S., in most regions.

From Wikipedia firearms deaths by country data (link) (numbers = #/100,000 population per year):

Country -- Total firearm-related death rate-- Homicides -- Suicides -- Unintentional deaths -- Year
United States -- 10.2 /15.22 -- 7.07 -- 7.35 -- 0.59 -- 2004/1993
Canada -- 4.78 -- 0.76 -- 3.72 -- 0.22 -- 1992
(see link for explanation of data and cited studies)

Pro-gun folks, why else, other than tougher regulation, do you think their deadly shooting numbers are so low in Canada?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2011

Today we mark the accomplishments and passing of a great man, Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a man of tolerance, non-violence, and equality.  He was also the victim of assassination by firearm.  In his memory, let us look around us for a better way to understand each other and bring each other together to reduce violence and intolerance.

A link to King's website and some of his greatest speeches, including his "I have a dream" speech, my favorite of all time:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Results From My Open Invitation

In my last post, I invited the pro-gun side and those "on the fence" to please make suggestions that they feel would reduce gun-related violence.  I believe that starting from your perspective will help me focus on solutions that might appeal to moderates and help the two sides agree on a way to help the problem.  I'm very happy with the response.  Thank you very much for leaving comments.  It is only through open conversation that we can at least understand one another, and, just maybe, find some common ground.

Not everyone took me seriously.  A few think of my honest request as some sort of ploy, or see it as some sort of opportunity or "sport" to attack me personally.  HERE, HERE, and HERE are some examples.  It doesn't help your cause to be that way, fellas, just because I have a different philosophy than you.   Yes, the two sides are sometimes worlds apart, but pessimism doesn't solve problems.  Let's bring back respect for each other's opinions.

I only deleted a few comments, due to racist statements, foul language, or personal attacks against me that I couldn't tolerate.  I did leave some that suggested violence or threats ("execute all prisoners" or suggestions that coming to get their guns would lead to a shootout) this time, but not in the future. 

There were 61 comments posted at the time I wrote this new post.  Some of those comments only criticized my statistics, or lectured about how any gun control was bad in some way, or were unrelated replies to prior comments.  But within the rest were 38 actual suggestions about what to do to reduce gun-related deaths or violence in general.  Here's the breakdown, from highest to lowest in terms of popularity (and, yes, I realize my summaries are brief and don't take into account your full suggestions in all cases.  Please don't send me angry comments about that.  I urge readers to go to the original comments to appreciate them fully.):

  • 10 suggested that there was no way the two sides can come together or compromise, and no solution was possible (okay, I know that's not actually a "suggestion to end violence", but I thought it worth mentioning since so many did).
  • 8 suggested ending the drug war/legalizing drugs/releasing prisoners of drug convictions, with the assumption that legalizing drugs would reduce crime and shootings.
  • 4 suggested better enforcement of existing laws.
  • 3 suggested better ID and reporting of mental illness for more thorough background checks.
  • 3 suggested stricter sentencing of repeat offenders.
  • 3 suggested repealing existing gun laws, with the assumption that more guns = safer streets and scared criminals.
  • 2 suggested executing all violent criminals (one suggested the China model).
  • 2 suggested reforming the prison system (such as saving prison only for the violent offenders, or separating repeat offenders from new offenders).
  • 1 suggested "Strengthen the family. Reduce the tax liability for married couples with kids (whatever flavor of marriage). Absentee fathers and poverty are linked to higher crime."
  • 1 suggested focusing on suicide prevention and early ID of potential suicide victims.
  • 1 suggested teaching children from an early age how to use and respect guns (with the assumption that this would lead to less crime or accidents, I assume).
Of course, gun control advocates, such as myself, have many other ideas, often involving additional legislation or education, to reduce gun-related violence, and future posts will focus on those.  But that isn't my goal in this post or the last.  And I know that many of those ideas are very unfavorable to many of you on the pro-gun side.

I'm not going to comment on my thoughts on most of your suggestions at this time.  I just wanted to put the results out there for everyone to see and think about.  Future posts will focus on some of these one-by-one, and have some lively debate.   But there are a couple exceptions that I probably won't blog on in the future:  1) strengthening family values is a very worthy thing to reduce crime rates of any sort, and I agree wholeheartedly.  I'm a family man with good morals, but I'm not sure I'm the best one to make suggestions there.  2) I'm not going to accept the suggestion to execute all violent criminals.  It's against my values to do so, and that of most Americans, and I am against the death penalty anyhow.

I look forward to future debate on these.

Update (1/24/11):  It's interesting to compare these results to the general public.  A Gallup poll released today of over 1000 adults, with an open-ended question, found that the number one reply to the question of how best to reduce mass shootings was (at 24%) "stricter gun control".  I'm guessing the pro-gun folks who responded to this post weren't in that poll!  The second most popular response, at 15%, was better mental health screening: