Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Open Invitation to Pro-Gun Folks for Solutions

Yesterday, our president gave a pretty good speech about the shooting in Tucson.  Part of his speech was about wanting both sides in the gun control debate to find common ground.  In his words, "….a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation…."

My goal, and the goal of Gun Control in general, is to reduce gun violence and the easy availability of guns to those who would misuse them (criminals, small children, mentally ill, terrorists, etc).  I think we can all agree on those goals as being worthy, right?  It's the way we want to go about them that we disagree.

So, following President Obama's suggestion, I set out to write a blog post to focus on the areas where gun control advocates like myself had common ground with pro-gun advocates, toward those goals.  (For instance, around 86% of NRA members want to close the gun show loophole by requiring background checks for private sellers at those shows, in all states.  And I think we can all agree that too many criminals are able to get guns easily.)

But there was a problem.  As I started writing the blog post, I realized that even the simplest suggestions I thought of (such as closing the gun show loophole I mentioned above) often have very vehement responses in the comments section, at least on other blogs I've seen, even the ones that resonate well with gun owners I have talked to face-to-face.

So let me instead try a different approach.  To be the most civil, I invite any pro-gun readers or readers who consider themselves neutral to please comment on this blog post. 

In your comment, please suggest an issue that YOU feel both sides can agree (like that too many criminals get guns), and what you would do to help that issue.  As Obama said, keep it civil and honest.  Links to positive articles are welcome.  Please don't write a book, and please keep it to one suggestion and solution, in the interest of space and simplifying the conversation.  This should get us talking. 

This is your chance to reach out to us for common understanding. 


  1. Close the private sale loophole allowing prohibited purchasers to buy guns without background checks. It's easy- guns can be brought to ffls at gun shows or a seller can meet a buyer at the ffl ( just as in internet sales when the gun is purchased by someone unknown to the seller but must go to the ffl for a background check)

  2. There aren't any solutions. There are 300 million people in the US. Some are loony and some are psychopaths. They will kill and injure people. Looking for a structural solution to an individual problem is a fool errand.

    There will be no agreement between us and people who wish to limit the rights of citizens in the vain hope of controlling crazies and psychos.

    Control the criminals directly. Put them in jail. End the drug war that fills the pockets of the drug gangs and accounts for something like 75% of the killings in this country. Have you noticed that the local ABC store isn't in the business of murdering people who haven't paid for booze? Maybe they should sell drugs too, cutting the gangs out of the money, and taking away the reasons for the killing.

    Also, you should keep in mind that if I wish to make myself into a "walking fortress" as you put it, it does not harm you. You might not like it, but I am sure that you can deal with things not being exactly the way you like them.

  3. japete - sounds like good business for FFLs.

    Let's identify the potential criminal aspects of this transaction.

    * gun could have been used in a crime (even stolen)
    * seller could be a crook/crazy
    * buyer could be a crook/crazy

    If any of those 3 are true, everyone can agree the transaction should not go through. Then there's a curious problem...

    So seller dude and buyer dude are in Bob's Gun Shack, and one or more of them fail the NICS check. What's the protocol? There could be a wanted criminal standing right there. The gun shop owner is obviously armed, but I don't think it's fair to assume he take a law enforcement role.

    Please walk through this scenario...

  4. @ Sean: How very pessimistic of you. But this post has as its purpose constructive brainstorming for solutions.

    But I do feel that there are legislative changes that could limit availability of weapons to those "psycopaths".

    I'm all for putting the bad guys in jail. But you have to have the right laws to do so. Better funding of our law enforcement can help, too.

    I hypothesize that those same psycopaths would also have said that arming themselves as walking fortresses wouldn't harm others, either.

  5. Maybe we could re-organize our legal system to resemble China's?

    Zero tolerance for guns in society. Many felonies are punishable by death. The really hard core part is the executed inmate's next of kin gets a bill for the bullet used. (Saves tax dollars)

    They have almost zero gun deaths and people largely live in harmony (for fear of death otherwise).

    The government knows best, and who knows - maybe some smart ass students could start a public demonstration. When the army rolls in with tanks and assault rifles (real full auto kalashnikovs) to break up the protest, they shouldn't have to be bothered with an armed citizenry.

  6. How about something more realistic, Anonymous? I'd say abolition of all guns isn't a possibility, nor constitutional, and I argue we don't have to become a communist state to achieve near-zero gun crime (consider some democratic western European countries, for instance).

  7. I'm curious on why my previous comment has not been published. I thought it was an open invitation, and I said nothing offensive.

    BTW I'm curious if you could name one of those democratic western European countries that has zero gun crime...

  8. Let's say we can wave a magic wand and make every firearm on the planet vanish -- that even the knowledge of them is erased from existence. What, then, might a person intent on committing a violent crime use as a tool to aide in carrying out that act against another person or group of people?

    Sticks? Rocks? Cars? Knives? Batons? Frozen kangaroo tails? Boards? Airplanes?

    If firearms were eliminated, which would then obviously reduce gun violence to zero, violent crime will, in fact, increase dramatically.

    You see, the problem isn't the weapons -- it's the people that wield them in a manner that deprives others of life or safety. Those people can be simple criminals or even corrupt governments intent on controlling a populace. Clearly, we don't want those types to have tools to oppress others.

    Unfortunately, far too often, it's impossible to tell if somebody's a nuttier than a fruitcake until after they've already committed a crime (or been elected or appointed into office).

  9. End the War on Drugs. Prohibition, besides not working worth a darn, brought with it a whole host of armed violence as the bootleggers fought each other to sell their illegal booze to willing consumers. The same thing is happening today. Make the drugs legal, put a "sin tax" like tobacco and alcohol on them, and use the revenue generated to educate people about the dangers of drug use. This would free up tax dollars and law enforcement (and jail space) to go after the actual criminals and terrorists that threaten this country.

  10. How magnanimous of you to offer us the opportunity to tell you what gun control schemes we would support.

    I'll make a counter offer:

    You tell us what current gun control restrictions you would be willing to see lifted in order to help us find some "common ground". Maybe that would give us a good starting point for discussion.

  11. Pass the following three part law: 1) Criminals are hereby prohibited from using any illegally acquired firearm to commit crimes. 2) Criminals are prohibited from concealing firearms on their persons. 3) Criminals must notify their targets/victims of their intentions no less than two hours prior to committing the crime. Now, explain to me why this will or will not work. I believe it will be 98% effective. I mean this seriously.

  12. I'm not sure there is much we can agree on. The trouble is not so much that we disagree, but that we are headed in opposite directions.

    Right now we on the pro-gun side have the momentum Federally (that may change, of course, and may already have) so compromise means us having to deal down the freedoms we're trying to extend based on your objections (i.e. as we battle for nationwide CCW) and your congressional supporters, not us agreeing to what new restrictions we'll support.

    If you do turn the public around then things will be reversed, and we'll have to try and slow you down on creating restrictions.

    I think one thing we can do is debate on the means we use to commit someone based on mental instability (i.e. Loughner). But I don't want anyone committed on a passing word on just anyone, so I'm not sure how to manage that.

    Committing Loughner to mental help might not have kept him from committing murder, but it would have legally prohibited him from owning a firearm.

  13. "How very pessimistic of you. But this post has as its purpose constructive brainstorming for solutions."

    C'mon, be serious. Why do you imagine that there is a solution? This isn't math or science. Stop pretending. Go volunteer in a prison for a while and see what kind of people you are dealing with.

    "But I do feel that there are legislative changes that could limit availability of weapons to those "psycopaths". "

    why the scare quotes around psychopath? There are, in fact, people who don't value your life. They will kill you just as soon as look at you. Generally, the ones you have to worry about commit smaller crimes before they work their way up to murder. In fact something like 75% of all murders are committed by people with adult felony arrests previously. The simplest way to prevent people like this from getting guns, or knives, or just beating you to death is to invite them to stay in the secure facilities of the State Pen. They will get fed and clothed, and they will be far away from any innocent people. Wouldn't that make a whole lot more sense than asking me what part of my rights I would like to give up?

    "I'm all for putting the bad guys in jail. But you have to have the right laws to do so. Better funding of our law enforcement can help, too."

    Again, are you kidding? What laws do you want? It's already illegal to kill people, steal from them, assault them, what else do you want? More laws against possession of weapons? Here's a fun story,

    maybe that 25 to life for the third, fourth, or FIFTH strike would have been useful in this case instead of endless "compassion" for the career dirtbag.

    "I hypothesize that those same psycopaths would also have said that arming themselves as walking fortresses wouldn't harm others, either."

    Are you calling me a psychopath? Does the fact that I carry a gun, a knife, and pepper spray somehow indicate to you that I am a dangerous person? Maybe you should examine your prejudices.

  14. 1) We have been down this road before with those who want more gun control. We have done it with Japete and we got "nonsense" and nothing but reasons why our ideas are bad. Personally, I won't waste any more time with people who say they want compromise but their only compromise is to make me give up more.
    2)What if gun folks really don't believe that more gun control is the solution? We will never meet on anything. I believe that criminals will get what they want, no matter what the law says. That is why they are criminal. I am not going to cause law-abiding Americans to jump through hoops for hokey laws that do nothing to stop criminals. That is insane.

    We have to many laws already on the books that make law-abiders into criminals and the system doesn't put the criminals into jail anyway when they do break the law. Sooo....
    3)Fix the laws. Fix sentencing. Fix imprisonment. Let all the drug guys out of jail so we have more room for real criminals and let us relax the drug laws because they aren't hurting you anyway. It is the drug laws that are hurting America... just like prohibition.

    Why don't we try that first and see what happens? You won't know if that will work until we try it.

  15. I'd like to see repeat offenders kept in jail for a very long time. One horrible story I wrote about on my blog was about a 15 year old Bronx girl who was shot in the head and killed. Between the 5 people arrested for her murder, there were 34 arrests for various weapons, assault, and gang related charges. There is absolutely no reason for people like that to ever walk free in society again.

    Being that the majority of shootings are committed by repeat, career offenders, a federal 3 strikes law would go a long way towards reducing gun violence by getting more criminals off the streets. The availability of guns becomes less of an issue, because with more criminals behind bars, there are fewer of them around to commit acts of violence with guns.

  16. @ Wee'rd Beard: Your previous comment, where you said that "a 100% increase in violence would be considered a victory to you" was very much offensive to me, and I deleted. As for countries with low gun death rates, here is a comparison:

    I'll site as example England and Wales, which has a firearms homicide rate of only 0.12 people per 100,000, and only 8% of homicides due to firearms, compared to the United States, which has a gun homicide rate of 3.97 per 100,000, 78% of homicides by firearms (2000 UN data).

  17. I have an idea that just might work. Starting tomorrow and every day following, we execute as many people in prison as we can in a day. These executions will only be for people convicted of a gun crime, at first. After that is cleared up we can start on rapist, burglers and other violent fellons and by the time we're through no one will need a gun because all that type of genes in the pool will be gone.

  18. Baldr, you've partially made Wee'rd Beard's point for him. While England, which you just cited, has a much lower firearms homicide rate than the USA, the same statistics show that England has a much higher overall violent crime rate. More recent statistics than the 2000 WHO survey paint an even worse picture of Britain. For example, here's a story reporting 2007 or 2008 violent crime statistics, where Britain had a violent crime rate of 2,034 per 100,000 in comparison to the USA's 472.0 per 100,000. ( This while Britain has moved on from banning guns and moved into banning knives.

    But for an actual solution to part of your original proposal, I'll echo several of the other commentators when I say that the way to keep felons from getting guns is to lock up the felons and enforce existing laws.

    For example, in 2009, pardoned multiple felon Maurice Clemmons, out on bail for child rape, and already on parole for another offense, obtained a stolen handgun, murdered four police officers, then stole one of their duty weapons and fled. The problem isn't that he obtained a handgun, the problem is that this slimeball wasn't already rotting in a prison cell for the rest of his miserable existence.

  19. FTYD, I think there's something we can agree on in your last comment. I've read other comments by the pro-gun side to the same effect: "Let's better enforce the laws that we already have." I agree. We have police forces that are underfunded and overworked, and a prison system that is overtaxed, allowing some criminals to be released too early. And a huge percentage of violent criminals are repeat offenders.

    So what do we do about that? You've suggested a partial solution. Raising taxes is one way to increase police funding and build more prisons, but that would be an unpopular choice, especially for conservatives. What do you suggest (other than the last commenter's crass suggestion to execute all violent criminals indiscriminately)?

  20. Sure, let's scrap Brady background checks. It's obvious that something the Brady campaign worked so hard for and saw passed into law failed.

    Now, let's repeal the Hughes amendment. This could make a big difference, economically, as the firearms industry has been almost a lone beacon of hope in the last two years of economic downturn. Imagine if every gun owner had access to fully automatic weapons. Why, they'd be buying them like hotcakes.

  21. Hello Mr Odinson. First, let me thank you for opening this discussion. It's a breath of fresh air to actually find a gun control advocate willing to discuss, not dismiss, the pro-gun arguements.

    I have two things I'd like to point out, if you don't mind.

    First, you mention "England and Wales" for gun violence. I admit it's a bit of a nitpick, but most of those stats would presumably be for Britain, which would include Scotland too. I hate to nitpick like that, but we're always left out of these things.

    The other thing is that we do have a low rate of gun violence, and a lower number of owners. However, most of that is due to our laws, which can only be honestly called irresponsible.

    Take Dunblane - a man with pseudo-paedophilic tendencies got a licence to own pistols. There were several violations of the law, in both his acquiring the permit and during his retaining it. He eventually went on the rampage in a school, killing 17 children and their teacher.

    Despite the fact this person should never have had a licence (lied on the app, several violations etc), the backlash hit against the gun owners, who were completely innocent.

    I don't deny your laws in America have some issues, but as a former supporter of our laws, I have to say, they're much more sensible than what we have over here.

    I apologise for the length of this reply, and look forward to discussing issues in the future with you.

  22. Since violence in the US was much lesser around 1905 I propose that we go back the gun and drug regulations and laws of 1905.

    Because if gun laws do affect crime as Ceasefire, Brady Campaign, VPC, and MAIG suggest, then clearly the laws of 1905 were superior to the laws of today.

    I believe that this is a common sense and logical solution to the problem of gun violence.

  23. I'll repeat here what I said over at Weer'd's blog, in case you don't go back:

    "I took serious exception to your suggestion that I have as a goal the increase of violence."

    Which would be understandable... if that was what he said.

    Read his comment again. He says that, by focusing on the metric of gun violence, you are claiming that the rate of overall violence is irrelevant.

    Thus, while what he says about an increase in overall violence with a decrease in gun violence, or a decrease in gun violence with no change in the rate of overall violence, being a victory under the definition you are using holds true, it would also be true that a decrease in gun violence with a decrease in overall violence would be a victory.

    Of course, his two main points are that you should be focusing on overall violence rather than just gun violence, and that it has been observed in several countries that gun bans correlate with either an increase in overall violence or no change in overall violence. Thus, tracking only gun violence rather than overall violence does not make sense, and gun bans do not make sense.

  24. @baldr - We already told you. Stop the stupid drug laws. Cancel the DEA and apply that money to enforcement of real laws. And since ICE isn't doing anything, cancel that one too.

    Also, stop prosecuting people because they have one to many bullets or because they have a bullet (Massachusetts). Seriously, some of your gun laws make innocent people into criminals. Who would have thought that having a spent shell casing can make you a felon? Does that make sense to you? Seriously. I would like an answer. How can pro-gun control people rationalize making someone a felon for having a bullet, primer, or spent shell in their pocket (or their shoe tread as the story goes) and NOT keeping people locked up after they are murdered?

    People who want to spend all day to restrict firearms to stop gun violence would be better off spending their time removing the stupid laws that make honest people into criminals and putting real criminals in jail. The fact that nobody is making THAT the national message but will come after the guns makes this into a hard debate. Why should the pro-gun people do anything when they have jumped through hoops for the pro-gun control people? We have been insulted, jailed, forced to pay fees, etc to enjoy our hobby/lifestyle when nothing you have done has reduce violence. And it won't. Restriction does not reduce. Look at prohibition.. look at the 30 years of the Drug war... what has been reduced? All we hear in the news today is how the cartels are getting more aggressive, not losing the war.

  25. Baldr,

    You ask for solutions, okay - try these.

    1.) Repeal the drug laws concerning possession and manufacture of drugs and tax them at the same level as cigarettes or alcohol.

    Let corporations legitimately sell drugs and you'll see the profit motive decrease for criminals.

    You'll see dramatic decreases in violent crime as drug cartels and gangs are no longer fighting to protect their territory.

    2.) Implement mandatory, no parole allowed sentencing for violent offensives. You'll have plenty of room in jail after the drug users and low level dealers get out.

    Kind of hard to argue that wont' reduce crime, eh?

    3.) Improve the education system by eliminating the government's role in it. Refund property taxes to the individuals and let the teachers build better schools.
    Individuals and corporations within the cities will jump in and provide funding so the students will actually graduate with useful skills again.

    4.) 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.

    5.) Reduce the number of absentee fathers by reducing the dependence on the government to act as an income substitute.

    When women can no longer depend on the government to finance their children, they will have fewer out of wedlock and the fathers will either step of morally or financially.
    We have a court system already in place for this.

    6.) Reduce poverty by reducing dependency on social security and unemployment payments.
    Actually require people receiving money from the government to work or learn.
    Those who don't want to learn can provide child care, transportation, maintenance, etc for the child care centers used by those in school.
    A limit on how long the people can be in school -- timed to expire 3 months before their unemployment runs out insures people have reason to learn.

    7.) Remove most restrictions on where and when people can carry firearms.
    Counter intuitive to your goal but law abiding citizens are less likely to shoot criminals then the other way around.
    Criminals once the survivors learn the citizens are willing to shoot back or shoot first will realize the risk/reward ratio is no longer favorable.

    8.) Reduce the size of the government -- way too many agencies, way too many government officials with police powers.
    We need to stop making felons out of people who import seafood in the wrong bag.
    Less government means less money taken out for taxes. Less money out of a paycheck means fewer people will need to turn to crime to survive.

  26. [Second attempt with this same comment.]

    Baldr, I question your goal, "My goal, and the goal of Gun Control in general, is to reduce gun violence..."

    Had you said, "criminal violence" then I would be with you. But the way it is worded your goal could conceivably be completely achieved (zero injuries inflicted with a firearm) yet have a murder rate that is 100 times greater than what we have now.

    That is why the "gun deaths" data you presented is of almost no interest to me. I didn't dig into it to make certain but I suspect it includes "gun deaths" that were justifiable homicide by the police and private citizens protecting innocent life. It probably also includes suicides.

    It is because of these issues there is Just One Question that needs to be answered before I can see any point in having a discussion about placing restrictions on the specific enumerated right to keep and bear arms. That question is: Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons? If you can't successfully answer that question affirmatively then I don't see any point in having a discussion.

  27. I'm not a particularly pro-gun person, but I do have a suggestion, and I'm entirely sincere about it. It's not a troll or a rhetorical attack; it's a serious proposal, and I'm actually doing the research right now on founding and running a non-profit, probably charitable, to promote, develop, and apply it. May I present it?

  28. An issue that we agree on is going to be tough.

    Lets start by actually enforcing the laws that are on the books rather than passing new ones.

    It's already illegal for a felon to own a firearm, punish them for it. It's already illegal to ship guns to Mexico, stop the shipments and prosecute the smugglers. Straw purchases are illegal, identify and prosecute the straw purchasers.

    We're all but guaranteed to disagree on new legislation, and we're going to disagree on the existing laws, but I think we can all agree that we are a nation of laws and that we all have to live under the current legal system whether we like it or not. If we aren't enforcing current law, how can we enforce new law?

    I expect this is going to only highlight our differences rather than resolve them, but I commend our host for putting the challenge out there.

  29. Per usual, we see the usual suspects not suggest anything to mitigate unfettered access to firearms by anyone. It's sad but to be expected.

    Instead, we see the usual:

    1. End the war on drugs: OK, but how will this solve anything? The answer, of course, is it won't. The reason it won't is because criminals aren't going to go away--they'll merely find new avenues for criminal enterprise.

    A good question is when is the NRA going to suggest drug legalization as a solution? Answer: never.

    2. Lock up everyone, throw away key: Right now, on a per capita basis, the US imprisons more people than such repressive nations as China and Russia. Further, lengths of prison sentences and incraceration time have increased over the past 20 years.

    Again, gun control in other countries shows it works. There's really no excuse why a developed society like the US has gun violence rates equal those of third world countries.


  30. I'm not sure if there is a middle ground on this issue. It's already illegal for criminals to possess or us guns yet they continue to do so.

    All further gun control accomplishes is disarming the honest citizen and setting them up to be a victim. Police don't help as they are a reactionary force and it's not their job to protect up from harm. We need to be able to defend ourselves.

    I do have a problem with the graphs in the previous post. They track gun deaths. They should track violent crime. From my experience violent crime seems much higher in the disarmed states and cities then in states with looser gun laws.

    If we want to reduce deaths and injuries in general, I would bet that more people die and are injured by motor vehicles on a daily basis than killed or injured by firearms. I'm much more concerned about getting hit by a car (licensing is not strict enough, people should get more training before they're allow to drive) than I am from getting shot or stabbed

  31. Here's my suggestion of a problem/solution.

    The Problem: The debate about firearms policy occurs in the context of an unbelievably low level of working knowledge about firearms among the general public. What most people "know" about guns comes from Hollywood and a news media that, let's face it, is reliably sensationalist.

    The Solution: It's unrealistic to expect people who may not ever come into contact with guns to learn enough about them to make informed policy judgments. It's therefore incumbent on activists on both sides to play it straight and not exploit public ignorance. For example, gun control activists would need to abandon the fiction that so-called "assault weapons" are functionally, rather than aesthetically, distinguishable from the universe of sporting arms; to stop conflating semi-automatic and fully-automatic weapons for the purpose of ginning up support for restrictions on the former; to concede the very real limitations of technologies like bullet microstamping and biometric safeties; and to stop screeching about non-existent boogeymen like "cop-killer bullets" and suchlike.

    I appreciate that doing these things would make achieving certain policy goals more difficult. However, I believe it would make debates over policy more honest and fruitful.

  32. We can agree that what consenting adults do in private, who they marry, and how they pray, is their own damn business.

    As for the rest, no, we can't agree on anything. This is a gun control blog. You're here because you believe, sincerely and honestly, that when a violent felon commits a crime, society should go out and punish law-abiding people until the problem goes away.

    You look at crime-ridden inner city neighborhoods where kids grow up in an atmosphere of violence and despair, where a decent education is unobtainable, where few of the adults they know have jobs and most of the adult men they know have been in prison, where the illegal drug trade is the only available avenue to money and respect... and your solution is to come to my little city in Maine and take my retired, disabled neighbor's means of self-defense? Are you putting me on?

    Hell, even if you could somehow magically get all the guns out of the inner cities, how would that fix the schools? How would that help those kids to grow up thinking of full-time employment as their normal and natural and obvious path forward in life?

    If some fifteen-year old kid in Compton thinks his best chance at a future is gang violence, his life has already been ruined. Put yourself in his shoes. Look out of his eyes. Think about what's been done to him, the kind of life he's trapped in, and how that must feel for him. Think how rotten it must be to be stuck in a life where violent crime seems like a step UP. The tools he picks up to do it with aren't the issue. Once he's been limited to that set of choices, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference whether he goes out at night with a gun, or with a baseball bat. I grew up around guns, but I had middle-class parents, so it never for a moment crossed my mind to contemplate a future as a violent drug dealer. But for kids who are born into a certain environment, that's the only natural and obvious choice they see in front of them. THAT is the problem. Take the guns out of the picture, and you'll still have the ruined lives. Without guns, and the profits on a drug deal are just the same, just as much worth fighting over with whatever weapons people have left.

    Maybe without guns, a few more ruined lives would continue a bit longer. That would be nice, for what it's worth. Their mothers would appreciate it, and I'm all for motherhood. So if we could preserve urban poverty and crime, but without guns, would you be happy? Same alcoholism, same drug abuse and drug trade, same despair, lack of education, broken homes: Would you congratulate yourself on a job well done and take up a new hobby?

    But even that is a fantasy, because you just physically CAN'T make guns vanish away, even if you had the political power to try.

    If we can't agree that you're chasing irrelevancies here, we can't even begin to communicate. Get rid of the *means* to commit violence, and any tool-using biped (that's us!) will find another means in ten minutes. But get rid of the motive, and he'll happily settle down with a glass of wine and a good book. Or a beer and a rerun.

    Of course, that "get rid of the motive" part looks like it'll take some doing... So, maybe we could use your help. Welfare didn't work out very well, the War on Drugs is even worse. Any ideas?

    Or would you prefer to just work on throwing me in jail for being a peaceful, sane, law-abiding taxpayer with a noisy hobby that harms no one? Or maybe you could send a SWAT team to take down my elderly neighbor while he's feeding the pigeons in his side yard.

    1. "You're here because you believe, sincerely and honestly, that when a violent felon commits a crime, society should go out and punish law-abiding people until the problem goes away." Totally misrepresents what most people who favor gun law reform are talking about. Otherwise good points.

  33. Certainly, Acksiom, please give us your suggestion. (Summarized, please, and maybe a link to a longer description if you have it.)

  34. Baldr said: "My goal, and the goal of Gun Control in general, is to reduce gun violence and the easy availability of guns to those who would misuse them ..."

    You've said a mouthful there. Let's start with "gun violence."

    1) Do you consider there to be a difference between gun violence and violence perpetrated with other objects?

    2) Do you consider there to be a difference between lawful and criminal violence?

    I suspect that folks talk past each other in part because they come from fundamentally different answers to those primary questions.

    1. 1) Yes, only because guns are so much more lethal; non-gun attacks or suicide attempts much more survivable.
      2) Who doesn't? C'mon. Seriously?

  35. The last time I checked, most states add an enhancement to prison time if a firearm is used. It is a separate Federal crime to possess (let alone use) a firearm during the commission of a crime.

    I hold it self-evident that criminals don't care very much if their conduct is illegal. Passing more anti-gun laws essentially fits the classic definition of insanity (doing the same failed act over and over, hoping for a different result).

    What happens is that gun laws are passed which infringe on the rights of the law-abiding. That, for some reason, never seems to bother your side of the fence.

    So I have to ask myself: Of what value is it for those of us who own weapons to talk to people who want to disarm civilians (such as myself) or to make it harder for us to legally purchase guns?

    1. The value is you may wind up with less onerous restrictions. You can contribute to shaping the change or let the wave of change wash right over you while your back is turned.

  36. I'll take the handle of GMC70, thanks. I have no idea how to comment with the various options here, so I guess it will be under anonymous.

    First, you start with a false premise: My goal, and the goal of Gun Control in general, is to reduce gun violence and the easy availability of guns to those who would misuse them.

    No, it's not. Your goal is to ban guns. Period. If I remotely believed your goas was as stated, we might have some common ground.

    Second, you follow with a false premise: that gun control reduces "gun violence." But it doesn't. Nowhere. don't take my word for it, look at the Federal studies, NIH if I remember correctly. There is no correlation with gun control and reduction of gun violence. The "assault weapons" ban, which you can't wait to reimpose, had zero effect on crime, but sold an awful lot of AR-15s (and yes, I have multiples of those nasty 30 round "clip" - the correct words is magazines, BTW, not clips. And no, I will not surrender them to you or anyone else).

    So, as to new laws, the answer is: No. Wanna make us the "party of NO?" Fine. I'll take that. The first step toward freedom is the response of NO. No to every self-important tyrant who seeks to impose his prejudices on me.

    No more compromise. I'm tired of being blamed for societies failures, and being the chosen whipping boy of every lefty in the country. No. Not one iota of compromise.

    And understand this: WE WILL NOT DISARM. EVER.

    Was I not as "civil" as you like? Sorry. I'm a plenty civil guy. Just keep your hands out of my business.

    1. You will do or have done to you what our society decides democratically. Or move to another country.

  37. Geez, Joe Huffmann. That "one Question" has been answered time after time after time. Can't help it if you don't like the answer.

    It is: Wyatt Earp. Tombstone.

    Plus, we have plenty of international evidence that shows once firearms, handheld or otherwise, are restricted---violence goes down.

    I realize you're proud of the "One Question" for some reason, but it's been answered.


  38. The ATF goes for the easy prosecutions, like paperwork where the I's aren't dotted or the T's crossed. They should be incentized to go after the hard ones, and ones that gunnies agree with and would cooperate with. Frex, criminals that try to buy a gun. These cases are rarely investigated. They're stupid AND should go to jail, and I don't understand why they are reluctant to go after these types.

    If the ATF culture saw gunnies as allies instead of future perps in a sort of adversarial relationship it would go a long way toward catching more bad actors. Criminalizing the law abiding just leads to a atmosphere of mutual distrust. You'd start getting FFLs approaching the ATF more with, "I got a funny feeling about this one..." calls if you stop leaning on the good guys for no reason.

    Adjudicated criminals and mentally ill that clearly NEED a custodian 24/7 should be obliged with one.

    Prosecute felonies. There are people walking around with rap sheets longer than this blog post and comments that probably should not be.

    These aren't perfect corrections, but they go a ways toward reducing criminal violence without stepping on the toes of the law abiding and their rights.

  39. Thank you, Baldr. I prefer to get confirmation first, due to people's tendencies to immaturely ignore even just the existence of questions and statements that invalidate their positions.

    The tl;wr version: increase the identification of and outreach towards those most at risk of suicide.

    The reasoning behind this begins with the demographics: more people commit suicide in the usa than homicides. That's both annually and totally over the past 26 years of available CDC National Injury data online, from 1981 to 2007. See for the numbers, through the Leading Causes of Death links for 1981-1998, and 1999-2007 after the classification system was altered.

    Firearm deaths are the majority of those, at around 64% of the total, and male suicides by men and boys are the majority of firearm deaths total, including suicides, homicides, unintentional injuries, and legal interventions, at 50.13%.

    My basic reasoning is that the less people are alienated from communities and culture, and the less likely they are to commit suicide, the less likely they are to commit violent crimes in general, including homicides.

    One major, significant advantage to this proposal is that there really isn't any organized opposition to the idea, nor is there likely to be. In fact, those working on it might very well receive support and assistance from pro-2nd-Amendment activists.

    So instead of the historical and current situation, where both sides comparatively waste a massive amount of their resources opposing each other, we would have a basically win-win situation where both sides are better enabled to get what they want.

    That's the very short form. What do think so far?

    1. Excellent! Few have noted that the typical mass or family killer is also a suicide. These guys don't shoot themselves at the last minute because they're suddenly afraid to get caught and locked up; they plan to kill themselves and want to take others with them, IMHO.

  40. Acksiom, I agree with what you've said, which seems to be in agreement with the little bit I know. Having been suicidal in my own teen years, I can relate to the causes and potential focus areas for solutions that you propose. I am planning on a partnership with the local suicide prevention organization here in Eugene, Oregon, and would love to put you in touch with them if you wish. Feel free to send me information, such as a summary of your proposed program and your contact info, if you wish:

    I also agree that this is likely one area where most people agree, including most gun owners and NRA, but you can still run into opposition from staunch pro-gun advocates, as I have found, if your proposal includes some sort of recommendation for voluntary or regulatory removal or legal responsibility for guns in the homes of those who are depressed or have household members who are depressed. For instance, should a parent be held legally responsible if they knowingly keep an unlocked gun in the home of a child who is depressed and suicidal, even if the child commits suicide? Currently, that isn't the case in most areas.

  41. You too, eh? For me it in was my twenties. I've lost count of how many nights I ended up naked in the bathroom, staring at a fifth of Glenlivet and a bottle of pills and a thick sheet of plastic lining in the tub. I do know it was at least in the dozens. I would keep telling myself that if I could just make it past midnight, I could take it for another day. Sometimes that would shorten down to another hour. At the worst, I was just barely making it through one minute to the next.

    I want to point something out here to both sides, BTW: Baldr is only the second person who's ever even just acknowledged the existence of this proposal, TTBOMR (the other was some commenter over at Snowflakes in Hell a while back). And he's already offering me not only public acknowledgment but even actual assistance.

    So thank you very much, Baldr. That's the first real encouragement I've received from anyone about this, and I'm very grateful for it. I will definitely get in touch with you when I know more about the organizational end of things.

    Regarding your point about regulatory removal/legal responsibility for those in households with depressed people, I think the answer is simple: Just Don't Do It.

    My reasoning is that if you were to substitute sharp edged kitchen or shop tools, or rope, or sleeping pills and alcohol, or full bathtubs and small electrical appliances, or high enough roofs over concrete, etc., it becomes pretty obvious that the fundamental proposition is invalid by nature. So my answer is no, such a parent shouldn't be held legally responsible, just as they shouldn't be held legally responsible for knowingly keeping an unlocked boxcutter in the house under the same conditions, or some tie-down straps or a hairdryer or a ladder, etc.

    More abstractly, please note that regulation and punishment in general are conceptually contradictory to the fundamental attitude and principles behind what I'm proposing here. I believe we should be choosing to think in terms of achieving results through encouraging and rewarding people as the default instead.

  42. We agree on this:

    Guns kill people. Yep. We got that. We agree.

    The Second Amendment is still (theoretically, at least) still in force. We agree.

    There is still no legal or Constitutional basis for taking them away. Full Stop.

    You want a solution? Repeal the Second Amendment. Get that one through Congress.

    Until then, quit all of the noise.

    Shall not be infringed. End.

    Change the Law, as in the Second Amendment, and then talk about how you can attempt to try to save the world by disarming Americans.

    Until then, what you're talking about is not at all about reasonable restrictions or safety, but an attempt to deprive the people of their rights.

    Note I said an attempt.

    I reject the entire premise of this conversation.

    You want gun laws? You want to infringe further on my liberties? Get that Second Amendment repealed, survive the hell that will follow, then we'll talk. Until then, this entire discussion is akin to discussing the manner in which I would like to be mugged. While I might prefer one option or the other, the fact remains that participating in a discussion that is based on violating the civil rights of Americans would give validity to the anti-freedom advocates out there.

    This anti-freedom extremism must stop.

    1. You obviously didn't get the memo that Second Amendment rights, like all Constitutional rights, are not unlimited. This is not all or nothing. Conservative Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court, in a very pro-2nd Amendment decision, DC v. Heller acknowledged room for regulation, indeed acknowledged this was always recognized, back to the Founders and before. I've written on that case here: The Meaning of the Second Amendment Under the Supreme Court’s Decision in D.C. v. Heller Assuming the Second Amendment prohibits all regulation is a nonstarter because it is just plain wrong...

  43. The best way to reduce gun crime is to reduce the number of criminals with access to the innocent.
    1 - lock up monsters, and keep them locked up.
    2 - only lock people up for violent crimes. Save prison for the monsters.
    3 - keep first-time prisoners away from experience prisoners. This will cut down on the abuse and torture that turns so many troubled youths into pscyhopaths, and will also keep them from learning how to be worse criminals.
    4 - Preferential hiring of ex-cons over illegal immigrants.
    5- indoctrination at every grade in school, and especially in the prisons, to encourage kids to be patriotic, nationalistic, and pro-family. Young men who are eager to get married and have kids don't commit gun crimes.

  44. Here's a compromise solution for you - two of them actually:

    1. If you don't like guns, DON'T BUY ONE.

    2. If that doesn't work for you, there's a great answer called "Secession". Oh yeah sorry. A man with lots and lots of Big 'effin guns made that impossible, didn't he (I'm a Yankee by the way of the Mayflower).

    Fact is this: you people depend on the threat of State violence to impose your rather simplistic morality on the rest of us. We would rather fight you and die than submit as your slaves. You think you're merely being "a good person" with secularly pious thoughts.

    These are irreconcilable. Actually, yours are unsustainable and fantastical at that. The proof is all around you yet you cannot bring yourself to see it (Detroit, Philadelphia, NY outside midtown, Baltimore, the US southern tier, KC, St Louis - name your formerly great American city and its surrounds that have descended into savagery).


    And one more reason we will keep our guns at the cost of our lives: we cannot allow people as delusional (or perhaps simply evil) as you unfettered access to power. Period.

    You should think about this for a while. It's the sane thing to do.

  45. Nationally, the murder numbers/rate dropped from 16928/5.6 to 16272/5.4 from '07 to '08. It dropped even further in '09

    Illinois had a population of 12.85 million w/ a increased murder rate of 6.1/100K (790) in comparison to 5.9/100K from '07 to '08.

    Chicago had 22% of the population of Illinois yet accounted for 64.5% of murders w/ a per capita rate of 18/100K. an increase in murders both raw and per capita.

    Cook County had 41% of the population of Illinois yet accounted for 73.9% of murders(584) w/ a per capita rate of 11.1/100K. It had a population drop yet an increase in murders due exclusively to Chicago.

    The Cook County murders in raw number/per capita increased 11.9 and 11/1% respectively while arrest numbers and rates decreased compared to '07.

    If Chicago were to fall into Lake Michigan, the Illinois murder rate would drop to 2.8 .

    Were the rest of Cook County to follow suit, the rate would drop to 2.72 .

  46. Baldr, you are setting the bar way too low when you start confiscating property because people are depressed.

    For the record, I am in the "disband the DEA" section. Pulling drugs from the criminal world will do a great deal for reducing gun, and other, violence.

  47. I am not going to rehash what the people before me have already stated, so I'll just say this. As a Free woman I will not give up any of my rights. It does not matter if the issue is my guns or my decision to grow turnips in my garden.

  48. Why won't you answer the question many have asked you here?

    Why are you concerned solely with "gun violence" but not concerned about other types of violence and crime?

  49. For instance, should a parent be held legally responsible if they knowingly keep an unlocked gun in the home of a child who is depressed and suicidal, even if the child commits suicide? Currently, that isn't the case in most areas.

    Should parents be held legally responsible if they keep unlocked ropes in their home and a suicidal child hangs themselves?

    Should parents be held legally responsible of they keep their bathrooms unlocked and the suicidal child drowns themselves in the bathtub?

    Or uses an unlocked toaster in the bathtub to electrocute themselves to death?

    Or drinks draino?

    Or cuts their wrists with a knife?

    Or takes an overdose of tylenol?

    I think you and your ilk are well aware of the logical inconsistencies of such arguments.

    But pretending that you don't understand enables you to continue to exploit tragedy to further your political agenda.

  50. -JadeGold said:
    "Again, gun control in other countries shows it works. There's really no excuse why a developed society like the US has gun violence rates equal those of third world countries."

    "Plus, we have plenty of international evidence that shows once firearms, handheld or otherwise, are restricted---violence goes down."

    I would love to see this evidence, can you please provide it for us?

    I have been studying the issue of gun control for the last few years, and looked at the violent crime (firearm and non-firearm related) statistics for a LOT of cities, states, and countries. What I have discovered is that implementing gun control has absolutely NO significant or consistent effect on violent crime rates involving firearms. Countries that have strict gun control and low crime rates now, had just about the SAME low violent crime rates BEFORE the gun control was introduced. There's no real change!

    Now if you can back up your claim that gun control has actually made any society safer, I would love to see that evidence. I have tried finding it myself for years, and have asked almost every gun control supporter that would discuss the issue with me, and NOBODY has been able to show me any evidence that any violent crime rates went DOWN because of gun control.

    Will you be the first?


  51. 1. By definition criminals do not obey laws (therefore, new laws would not effect them).

    2. You cannot legislate morality.

    3. Criminals prefer soft (i.e. unarmed) potential victims.

    4. Fully prosecute the current laws.

    Please compare a list of the area's (cities/states) with the most restrictive gun laws against a list of those with the highest gun crimes. I think that if you are open-minded you will see that the restrictive area's have the highest gun violence (such as NYC & Chicago). Which would lead a logical person toward the belief that less regulation would be better. What happened when Florida when they became a 'shall issue' state?

  52. Baldr, if you don't object, I'd like to re-word your question to, "should a parent living in an area which experiences a high rate of home burglary be held legally responsible if they keep a loaded firearm easily accessible for self defense in consideration of protecting their family, and one of the children in the home has emotional issues which include depression and the possibility of suicide"

    My answer to your original question is no.

    My answer to your question as I re-worded it is that the parent needs to obtain professional help for the child, and continue to protect their family. Or move to an area of the country with a lower crime rate, IF that's possible.

    Here's a suggestion-when the rational individuals that are in the population group existing outside the long established standards of civility, respect for others, personal accountability, discretion, among other qualities, then any questions about restricting law abiding citizens from purchasing firearms will be moot.

    I'd like to offer two parallel ideas:

    1-how can people be protected from fatal car accidents each year when one of the drivers has been drinking? Should automatic transmissions be illegal?

    2-how many children drown each year while swimming? should this activity be illegal?

    I applaud your goals, but have to disagree with the direction you're taking to obtain them.

    Have an excellent 2011.


  53. There is no "common ground", and nothing you and I could possible agree on. Because I am able to read, and beyond that, comprehend what I've read quite clearly. There is no room for debate on "shall not be infringed". If I want a Howitzer on my front lawn, then by God I'll have one! If I want a Browning .50 caliber, a grenade launcher, or a freakin' Gatling gun, I'll have one.

    The word "compromise" does not exist anywhere in the Bill of Rights, and I'm not about to "engage in civil discourse" with ANYONE who would even THINK of denying me my Constitutional rights, much less my GOD given rights. The Second Amendment has but one purpose, and that is to provide for the People to defend themselves from tyranny. When the tyrants are wielding automatic weapons and armored vehicles, so too should the People. The ultimate in "checks and balances". NO COMPROMISE.

  54. Baldr,

    Re-reading your original post, Here is what you requested:

    The problem we can agree on is that there is too much violent crime involving firearms.

    The solution is not gun control, for some very simple reasons:

    1. Guns are not the CAUSE of violent crime.

    2. Gun control has never proven effective at reducing firearm-related violent crime.

    3. Gun control ONLY effects those willing to obey it.

    So what is the solution? Eliminate the CAUSES of violent crime, and you will see both firearm and non-firearm related violent crime go down:

    A) Eliminate victimless crimes that put non-violent non-dangerous people in prison, allowing us to keep the real violent offenders off the streets.
    B) Legalize drugs (and tax them to pay for anti-drug education), eliminating the lucrative illegal market that fuels violent crime and the drug turf gang violence.

    You made a statement in your original post that "...I think we can all agree that too many criminals are able to get guns easily"

    The argument that "making it harder" to buy guns as a solution to violent firearm-related crime is a fallacy.

    "Making it harder" does not STOP anyone from getting a gun. What's really the difference if a criminal can go buy a gun in 15 minutes or 2 hours? Even in the countries with the strictest gun control, if you want a gun you can go buy one on the street almost immediately.

    The ONLY way you can really make it harder for a violent dangerous person to get a gun is if they are in prison, period. As long as a person is free walking the street, if they're willing to break the law, they can get a gun, always.


  55. If your goal is to reduce gun violence here is what I would do:

    1) Start educating children about firearms at an early in a positive way. Demystify them. Teach small children how to tell the difference between a real one and a toy. What to do if they find one unattended.

    2) Train kids in the history, function and proper safe use of all the various types of firearms at the earliest age possible. Use classroom and range time.

    3) Encourage shooting as a sport. (my elementary school had an indoor rifle range)

    4) Provide concealed carry courses for seniors in high school to have them highly trained for gun ownership as adults if they desire.

    Demystifying and getting detailed, true, information regarding firearms will go a long way to reducing all kinds of violence in this country. Kids will be safer and have fewer accidents. 22 year old, 105 pound girls, will be trained to protect themselves and 285 pound gang bangers will know that that 105 pound girl can defend herself. So he behaves.

    Don't make anyone own one. But if they decide to own one make sure they know how to use one. Safely and ethically.

    This would make our world safer.

  56. Current laws in nearly every state make it extremely difficult to commit a person who is mentally ill until they commit a very serious crime of violence, or present an imminent threat to others or themselves. In Oregon, this definition of imminent is so absurd that mentally ill people have starved themselves to death while family and police looked on, helpless to intervene.

    Had Loughner been committed when he started showing bizarre behavior at Pima Community College, he would not have been able to legally purchase a handgun. Would that have prevented him from obtaining one? Not necessarily. But it would have certainly slowed him down. A law does not have to work perfectly to be useful. It does need to have more effect on those at whom it is aimed than those who are not the problem.

  57. Government, in the United States, exists solely to protect the rights of the sovereign individuals who consent to that government - it says so right on the label (the Declaration of Independence). This is the essence of Liberty. Prior restraint is incompatible with Liberty and, whether that restraint be directed at literature, drugs or weapons, it is not the legitimate business of government.

    Behavior that harms another person against their will violates the rights of that person and is the only thing that government may legitimately restrain. You can show us all the graphs and charts you wish, but the principle of self-ownership properly trumps any statistical argument.

    One of the 'bumper-sticker slogans' I hold to be true is that "Principles are Practical" and a more careful analysis of your statistics will show that you are wrong. As others have pointed out, those jurisdictions which have imposed more restrictions on the citizenry's right to effective self defense have experienced increased victimization rates. You have improperly considered only 'gun violence' and effectively eliminated the increase in general violence that logically resulted from the victim-disarmament efforts of those jurisdictions.

    Left to their own devices and guided by the rule of self ownership, people will find it safer to trade for what they desire, rather than try to take it by force.

    If you and yours will respect my rights, we will get along just fine. Should you wish to violate my rights, either with your own threat of force or the cowardly threat of illegitimate government wielded force, you will find that some of us will resist with what Jefferson called, "Manly Firmness." One of the other 'bumper-sticker slogans' that I find through a careful study of history to be true is, "Right makes Might."

    As Leonidas said at Thermopylae, "Come and take it." Some of us will not go quietly into that long dark night of tyranny and slavery into which your 'good intentions' will inevitably lead.

  58. I don't understand the focus on gun violence. I know Joan's answer, of course, is that guns are simply what she chooses to focus on, and I can accept that.

    However, I think you will find far more compromise if you adjust your sights and aim to reduce ALL violence, rather than gun violence. The reason for this is simple. When you are narrowly focused on guns only, there is a tendency to promote laws and regulations that would affect gun violence, but not actually bring down the overall amount of violence (in fact, some might increase overall violence!). Since those of us on the pro-gun side clearly do not see an inherent problem with the gun, or an inherent difference between gun violence and other violence, this is morally abhorrent to us.

    Short version: if you find solutions that impact overall violence rates, you may find more support.

  59. The Brits have admitted twelve million reportable crimes for a population of 53 million, for a rate essentially of 25,000 crimes per 100,000 population. The US also has 11,000,000 crimes - for six times the population and a rate of 3,600 per 100,000 population.

    The homicide rate? The Brits do not report homicides until arrest,trial, conviction, and the appeals have been exhausted. In fact, the UK's homicide rate is probably more than twice the US. Look it up, sometime.

  60. "The reason it won't is because criminals aren't going to go away--they'll merely find new avenues for criminal enterprise."

    I would normally never bother with anything JG writes but this struck me... That is exactly the same argument that we have been making about gun control that he denies but makes for removal of the drug trade.

    The reason it won't work is because criminals aren't going to stop killing for their crimes --they'll merely find new avenues to kill with.

    And he does have "some" truth to removing the drug trade. When the mafia could no longer make money at booze, they moved to drugs, loan sharking, prostitution, and firearms. Now if we make firearms, drugs, and prostitution completely legal (because they should never have been a crime), that leaves loan sharking. Help people make money, by allowing business to create jobs, instead of keeping them in the poor house and loan sharking would decrease as well. There are many factors to crime but we can work to reduce it. Reduce that and all violence decreases.

  61. Hi, Heather. I think that's a good point, but you haven't offered a solution. What would you suggest for reducing overall violence rates?

  62. Baldr, I didn't offer a specific solution because I didn't feel like repeating many of the things that have already been offered up in this discussion. Many on the gun-control side will outright reject those solutions because they don't deal directly with guns. Therefore I pointed out the different mindset in the hopes that you will not be one of them.

  63. Okay, so does my proposition needs to have its appeal to the pro-2nd-Amendment folks increased somehow?

    Is there anybody posting or lurkng here on the pro-2nd-Amendment side who can help me out with that? Please?

    Because it seems to be working, or at the very least, showing signs of being a good prospect. Just look at Baldr's replies to me. Have you ever seen someone from the other side respond this favorably to a proposal that benefits you as much?

    So what do I need to do now to get more of the pro-2nd-Amendment folks on board with this? Any help at all will be appreciated. Please.

  64. Clayton said: "Had Loughner been committed when he started showing bizarre behavior at Pima Community College, he would not have been able to legally purchase a handgun. Would that have prevented him from obtaining one? Not necessarily. But it would have certainly slowed him down. A law does not have to work perfectly to be useful. It does need to have more effect on those at whom it is aimed than those who are not the problem."

    I'm not understanding how "slowing down" someone like Loughner getting a firearm helps. How would it have saved any lives if he got his firearm 60 days before the shooting from a dealer, or, let's say 55 days from an "illegal" gun seller on the street?

    "Slowing down" violent criminals or "making it harder" for dangerous people to get firearms really is a useless goal, because ANYONE determined to get a gun will always be able to get one, and the bullets all still fly out of the gun at the same speed no matter how difficult it was to get.


    1. So by analogy, don't lock the door to your home and go ahead and leave your car keys in the car because to do otherwise would only slow down the criminal determined to break in or steal your car, not stop them? One of the top things police suggest to prevent burglary is to do things that slow down the burglar, explicitly stating you will never be able to completely stop them if they are determined...

  65. While many feel there is no use in dialogging with the anti-gunners side. I will treat this request as sincere, with the hope that maybe the anti-gun groups would consider pursuing some strategies other than those that would infringe our rights.

    So here is a suggestion:

    Make the NICS check accessible and free to private sellers. While not every one conducting a private sale would utilize it; many might. Making the NICS available for anyone conducting a private sale to call and process a check would be a better alternative than banning private sales.

  66. Aksiom, the whole problem with focusing on "gun violence" is that it focuses on symptoms instead of causes. By paying attention to the underlying causes (mostly drug gangs for murder and severe depression for suicide) you would actually be making the situation better rather than papering over it like gun restrictions would.

    The problem for you is that most gun control types aren't interested in the actual causes. When you read their words, what you start understanding is that they view guns more as a existential threat to a leftist agenda. For proof, get a copy of Joshua Horwitz's "Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea." In it he explains how the dominant pro gun argument is a threat "to the progressive agenda.

    I'm all for what you want to do. I think that the senior gun control people are not chasing fewer deaths so much as pushing a left wing agenda. For them, each death, whether murder suicide or legitimate self defense, is one more death to blame on their political enemies.

    1. It is not helpful to malign the motives of people about whom you know nothing. Might we all do better to assume the people with opposing views are well intentioned? Do you really think the people who are wishing for tougher gun laws after Newtown are motivated by being "leftists' with a "progressive agenda" rather than by being humans and parents whose hearts were broken? Why so?

  67. Change the focus of the BATFE to ensuring the safety of the people from criminals rather than it's current focus of ensuring the safety of the government from the people.

  68. @Baldr - solution #1. End ALL repeat offenders of violent crime. There is absolutely NO reason that after someone has shown themselves to be a violent predator and harmed another and their loved ones - that they should ever be allowed to do it again.

    Granted, sometimes criminals escape from prison. But they NEVER should be released. Not for a violent predatorial crime.

    Do this, and you would eliminate 90% of crime.

    1) By directly eliminating half of crime

    2) By an example where predators realize they don't go to prison and come back out with street cred, they don't come back out. It's like the RAID roach motel commercials. "They go in - they don't come out!"

    So ask yourself, why we are not taking the simplest of actions. The one that is guaranteed to reduce crime astronomically.

    Now if your answer is that our prisons are too full.

    A couple of thought on that...

    1) You reduce your criminal element with stiffer penalties. Less people will commit crimes. And therefore less people will need to be interned.

    2) Outsource - okay, so maybe we don't send outsource American citizens. But many of our southern prisons are full of illegals. Who when deported to Mexico are immediately set free to cross back over our border and continue their rampage.

    These are not Americans. They're foreign nationals. Whom, returning to their homeland is not an option. Simple, we pay China to house, feed, and take care of all of our foreign violent criminals.

    This too would reduce crime. It's one thing to commit your crime and live in a posh U.S. prison or be sent back to Mexico to be released. It's another to wind up in a prison halfway around the world. And a LOT harder to get back to the U.S.

    In fact, statistics from (far from a bastion of conservative thought) places the number at 30%. That means this simple policy would free up 30% of our prison space. That's a pretty significant amount.

  69. Hi, Acksiom. Your statement "More abstractly, please note that regulation and punishment in general are conceptually contradictory to the fundamental attitude and principles behind what I'm proposing here. I believe we should be choosing to think in terms of achieving results through encouraging and rewarding people as the default instead." sounds like a good one for reaching middle ground for suicide prevention, but I am anxious to figure out exactly what sort of encouragements and rewards you are speaking of. There are some great programs out there that educate about the warning signs, including at schools, but I don't know of a reward system for when it works. I hope you garner support from the other side, as well, and can expand on the proposal. If you have a link to go to with details, it would be ideal. Maybe upload a document on scribd, or start your own blog on the topic?

  70. I think that a lot of gunnies would support background checks on all transfers if two conditions were met.
    1. Database available to anyone at no charge. IE – wouldn’t have to go to an FFL and add $50+ to the cost of the firearm to satisfy Big Brother.
    2. If we could be sure that Big Brother wasn't using the background checks to create a de facto registry of firearm owners.

    I should also add that I’m sure that background checks on all transfers is another of those regulations that only the law abiding will follow. It won’t keep criminals from obtaining firearms because it won't stop theft, loss of firearms (and recovery by unethical persons) or straw purchases.

    And, speaking of firearms obtained illegally:
    Despite media statements, Loughner did not obtain his firearm legally.

  71. "I'm not understanding how "slowing down" someone like Loughner getting a firearm helps. How would it have saved any lives if he got his firearm 60 days before the shooting from a dealer, or, let's say 55 days from an "illegal" gun seller on the street?"

    Slowing down a mentally ill person increases the possibility that he will do something bizarre or criminal that gets him locked up before he commits the crime. It does not have to be perfect to still do some good at the margins.

    :"Slowing down" violent criminals or "making it harder" for dangerous people to get firearms really is a useless goal, because ANYONE determined to get a gun will always be able to get one, and the bullets all still fly out of the gun at the same speed no matter how difficult it was to get."

    There are two mistakes quite common in the gun control debate. Gun control advocates often assume that crimes committed with guns are done by people who did not have a particularly criminal intent, or perhaps none at all. Someone lost his temper, had access to a gun, and used it. The theory behind many of their annoying complications to purchasing a gun is that by making it more difficult, it will discourage the unmotivated.

    Gun rights advocates make the opposite assumption: that every person who uses a gun criminally is a highly motivated criminal who will obtain a gun, no matter what obstacles are put in the way.

    The fact is that there are people in both categories. Most of gun crimes in the U.S. are done by people who are pretty motivated to get a gun: professional criminals; people for whom a gun is a symbol of power. But there are people for whom a little bit of an obstacle, such as a background check, might cause them to lose interest. Generally, I think the highly motivated gun criminal is by far more typical, but there are people in the other category as well.

    Would Loughner have been discouraged by having to buy a gun illegally? Probably not. But there are people who are so obviously mentally ill that they might have trouble buying a gun illegally--because the potential seller would be worried about his own personal safety selling to a whack job.

  72. Hi, Clayton. Certainly many criminals will find away, if determined to do so. Black market guns are more expensive and harder to get, though, which may limit to some extent what is available. Better background checks will help against recidivism. Stricter sentencing, too.

    But crimes of passion are very common too, including from previously law-abiding citizens. Currently gun ownership is still legal in many areas for those who have a history of violent misdemeanors, including domestic abuse, and I argue that better legislation can help there.

  73. Baldr, finding that out is one of the leading reasons why I suggest increasing the identification of those most at risk of suicide -- so that the demographics can help guide us. The POV comes from such disparate sources as NLP, post-scarcity economic theory, and the MGTOW movement (i.e. male cultural expatriation), among others.

    But I jammed a splinter deep under a fingernail yesterday and am now stuck typing one-handed, and that hand's starting to cramp up just from this much, so I ask for your further patience.

  74. Baldr,

    Do you offer any evidence that crimes of passion are very common too, including from previously law-abiding citizens"?

    Can you present some statistics showing what 'very common' is?

    Currently gun ownership is still legal in many areas for those who have a history of violent misdemeanors,

    So do you think that someone who has history of violent misdemeanor should lose their right to keep and bear arms?

    That those people don't deserve to protect themselves or their families like everyone else?

    What happened to the idea of a second chance?

    Isn't ironic that we have all sorts of programs to help convict criminals become a part of society again -- but the view of people like you is 'Oh No, we can't trust them with guns'.

    I'm a simple man. Perhaps you could explain in simple terms how 1, just 1 proposed piece of legislation would 'help there'?

  75. "But crimes of passion are very common too, including from previously law-abiding citizens."

    Oddly enough, I have a hard time finding any evidence for that claim. Gary Kleck's work, along with that of other criminologists, pretty well establishes that such "previously law-abiding citizens" committing crimes of passion with a gun are not common at all. The FBI's 1971 and 1975 detailed studies found that about 40% of those charged with murder had previous felony convictions. About 1/3 of U.S. murders are committed by minors--and from what I have seen, many of these are pretty serious criminals already. I've talked to peace officers in various parts of the country who tell me that while there are such first-time "crimes of passion" they aren't common. Usually there is a long professional criminal history, mental illness, or a history of alcohol or drug abuse. It is seldom an ordinary person who just lost his temper.

    "Currently gun ownership is still legal in many areas for those who have a history of violent misdemeanors, including domestic abuse, and I argue that better legislation can help there."

    This statement is flat-out wrong. Any misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence is a lifetime gun disqualifier: the Lautenberg Amendment to GCA68.

  76. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  77. "What happened to the idea of a second chance?

    Isn't ironic that we have all sorts of programs to help convict criminals become a part of society again -- but the view of people like you is 'Oh No, we can't trust them with guns'."

    Interesting that you would ask this. A year or two ago, when I was researching the history of firearms disabilities, I was startled that I could not find any laws befor 1923 that prohibited convicted felons from owning guns.

    Was that because felonies were often capital back then? A good guess--but not correct. While a great many crimes were indeed punishable by capital punishment (including sodomy, oral sex, forgery, burglary, counterfeiting), that did not mean that everyone was executed for these crimes. What I found interesting was details of how Pennsylvania's penal reform system operated. Once they determined that felons had been rehabilitated (by locking them in a cell with a Bible), instead of merely releasing, the governor pardoned them instead. Wow. And at least for the first fifteen years or so, it seemed to work pretty well, based on low recidivism rates.

    I do think that there is merit to prohibiting people convicted of violent felonies from possessing firearms. In 1789, a felon could be executed--prohibiting gun ownership is constitutionally, a lesser punishment.

    There might be a case for prohibiting a person from owning a gun for a violent misdemeanor for some period of time--say, five years, or maybe ten. If someone learns from their past errors, that misdemeanor will age off. If they have not learned, or more typically, have not stopped intoxicant use which caused the violence, they are probably never going to have their violent misdemeanors age off.

    I do think that states need to do a better job distinguishing domestic violence crimes that should be charged as felonies from disputes that are properly not lifelong firearms disqualifiers. I recently read a case from the 4th Circuit involving a crime that took place in West Virginia (and the decision cited one of my law reviews)--and all that I could think was, "Why does West Virginia consider this a misdemeanor? Why isn't an attack this ferocious considered aggravated assault?"

  78. I believe the suggestion that incidental criminals (like those previously law-abiding citizens committing "crimes of passion") are "very common" comes about because we are misled by our news media into thinking they're common.

    We hear on the news of murder-suicides, and drunken fights ending in gunfire, and other such instances where people were legally allowed to own a firearm and mis-used it. However, an important fact to keep in mind is what news IS. Tragic events are reported on the news BECAUSE they are a rare event! Hundreds of thousands of cars driving on the roads safely, they report the one accident. Thousands of stores didn't get robbed, they report the one that was robbed. Hundreds of thousands of gun owners were responsible with their firearms, they report the one that "snapped" and committed a crime.

    Even criminals committing crimes is all we hear about in the news. Once in a great while they may report that Joe Schmoe shot and wounded an intruder in their house, but the overwhelming majority of defensive gun uses don't even get reported to police, much less the media. Over 95% of defensive gun uses don't even involve shots being fired.

    The possibility that someone may abuse ANY of their rights is the simple cost of living in a free society. Any attempts to make our society safer by restricting our freedom aren't worth the cost.

  79. Orygunner, do you have any data on defensive gun uses that don't get reported to police, or uses that don't involve shots being fired? I haven't seen any statistics on that, and if they don't get reported to police, how can there be statistics to compare? I would appreciate a link or citation.

    A bigger question: why *wouldn't* someone report an incident of that sort? Not reporting it would only better allow the criminal to do it again.

    Regarding the numbers of "crimes of passion" by law-abiding citizens versus those pre-planned by criminals, let me at least look at the specifics of my own area of Eugene, Oregon from 2010 data (see my post from Jan 6). As best I can tell from the information reported, there were 6 shootings that were crimes of passion (including one suicide), accounting for about 55% of the 11 shootings. Three involved known criminals or gang members. Two I have no information for in this regard(and thus could go either way, until I learn more).

  80. Baldr,

    A bigger question: why *wouldn't* someone report an incident of that sort? Not reporting it would only better allow the criminal to do it again.

    How do you report something that didn't happen?

    "I was walking along and these guys were following me. They moved into what I considered an attack pattern (boxing in their victim). As I cleared my coat back from my firearm, they saw it and left"

    Now, what was the crime that was prevented? Probably a mugging right? But how do you report it?

    Or as in has happened to me several times.

    "I heard a noise in the night. I grabbed my flashlight and firearm. I saw something but wasn't sure what it was but it moved away from the house/apt/garage/etc"

    Again, what crime? what evidence? what purpose would it serve?

    Was it a defensive gun use? Maybe Maybe not.

    How many people in cities like Chicago are illegally carrying - should they report a defensive gun use?

    What would result -- they would go to jail and not the criminal.

  81. @Baldr:

    Certainly, here is the link to different studies. note the LOWEST estimated figure of implied gun uses per year is 764,000.

    I believe the DOJ has compiled data of defensive gun uses reported to police of only roughly 100,000 per year (I can't remember the exact figure, but it was somewhere near there). Even if you take the study with the LOWEST estimated figure of defensive gun uses, several times more go unreported than show up in the actual nationwide statistics.

    As far as why most aren't reported: Some people don't trust the police, and maybe didn't tell them that they scared their attacker off with a firearm, because they don't want to risk getting charged. Perhaps also they DID tell the police they scared off an attacker with a firearm but there were no charges filed and it wasn't reported as a crime that made it into the DOJ Statistics.

    I looked through your log entry for the shooting in 2010, and I see that every entry has a news article. I believe if we only get our information from the news, it gives us a skewed view of how firearms are used, because it ONLY reports the rare occurrences of firearm-related violent crime and other remarkable incidents (such as the barista that defended himself at Dutch Bros). Statistics likely would show that for that one act of justifiable homicide in self defense, there were probably thousands of times in Eugene/Springfield that people defended themselves without even firing a shot, and tens of thousands of people engaged in safe recreational activities with firearms.


  82. @Bob: I see police reports every day here where people report being menaced, or a suspicious person, or being followed. Making the report helps the police track problem areas, at least, even if not a crime. I guess it wouldn't show up on national crime statistics, but maybe for local statistics (there is a statistics team on the PD here in Eugene).

    Of course, if you're packing illegally, you wouldn't want to do this. But then I wouldn't support such a thing!

  83. Orygunner, thank you for the link. Seems appropriate.

    Yes, it's true that scaring off an attacker might not get reported (see my response to Bob), but still important to report. I wouldn't see why the almost-victim would be charged as long as his firearm is legal.

    Given the population of the Springfield/Eugene area, it's hard for me to believe the number of non-fire defensives are so high.

  84. Baldr,

    I'm not saying that people don't report menacing behavior but how do you report that menacing behavior was stopped by a firearm?

    If I am being followed by people that I'm unsure of their intention, take the time to open my coat for better access to my firearm while observing the suspicious person and that person leaves.
    Did my willingness to use a firearm scare off an attacker -- I wouldn't know.

    Given the population of the Springfield/Eugene area, it's hard for me to believe the number of non-fire defensives are so high.

    This is a major difference between antis and pro-right advocates. You have trouble believing even when presented evidence. We tend to look at the evidence and then come to a conclusion.

    We present evidence to support our beliefs, you deny the evidence because it contradicts your beliefs.

  85. Okay, Bob. I can appreciate evidence. What evidence do you have, then, to suggest thousands of defensive actions in the Eugene/Springfield area, or did you just pull that number out of the air?

  86. @Baldr: I think it was me that suggested thousands of defensive gun uses.

    I'm simply pulling that suggestion (note I did say PROBABLY thousands) from the fact that for every 1 person killed in justifiable homicide in the United States, there are at statistically at LEAST 3800 defensive gun uses where the perpetrator is not killed. I arrived at that LOW estimate by taking the lowest number of defensive gun uses from a study of 764,000 (see my link above) divided by the number of justifiable homicides in the US with a firearm by a private citizen (roughly 200 each year for the last four years, see this table:

    There's no real way to tell EXACTLY how many defensive gun uses in the Eugene/Springfield area. My point was that you're not going to know, because almost none of them are reported in the news, and very few of the total are reported to or by the police.


  87. Let me present what I bet are not uncommon objections to these ideas from the gun owners side.

    First, when "reasonable regulation" comes up, we usually feel like we are arguing about how much of OUR HALF of the sandwich you get. That is, and will always be, a non starter. Remember we are talking about an enumerated right, not driving a car.

    I'm willing to talk, but it has to be a real compromise where both sides give something, not where all I get to do is decide how much I give up if I agree to your ideas.

    For every regulation of my freedom purposed, I suggest the other side will need to give a "carrot" if you will.

    You want national registration? Ok. I want machine guns. I've had more background checks and fingerprinting (for clearances) that the FBI should know me by name. What would it take to make it easier for me to have a legal machine gun that wouldn't give you apoplexy. I'm not going to go crazy, I just want to have some fun out on my 100+ acre farm and range.

    I assume that we both want the bad guys and the crazies to not have guns and you think that the gun show "loophole" is the problem.

    You want to close the so called "gun show loophole" Let's talk suppressors. I think a lot of gun owners would love to silence their weapons. Are you willing to make that really easy to do?

    You see where I'm going right? If you ever want to get anyone on the gun side to really support you, that is what it's going to take.

    Counter offer?

  88. 18Echo, I don't think you'll be getting a legal machine gun anytime soon. As for suppressors, you can get one legally (after going through ATF class III paperwork and paying a fee of something like $200). Suppressors (or silencers) are only good for one thing: killing people quietly. Not the sort of thing we want people to have without those background checks.

    But I see your point, and others have said it: what will the control side give up to allow the pro-gun side to agree to more regulation? The problem with that statement is that the regulations that are in place are there because they have been deemed necessary for public safety. Removing them is like asking a car company what safety requirements can be removed before adding others. The ones that are already required are probably just as important, or more so, than the ones you want to add. For instance, as I see it, asking the pro-control group to allow suppressors in exchange for requiring background checks on gun show private sales is like asking car companies to allow mandatory back-up sensors in return for removing seat belts. It makes no sense to me to make such a bargain if my purpose is public safety.

  89. (Now that I think about, I think you have to go through those same ATF class III hoops for machine guns, too.)

  90. Suppressors (or silencers) are only good for one thing: killing people quietly.

    i suppose you don't consider preserving people's hearing while practicing at the shooting range to be good, then? or lower noise levels to be a good neighborly service to whoever might live nearby that shooting range?

    try using centerfire weaponry in an indoor shooting range, some time, then tell us how suppressors aren't any good for anything legal. where i am, the snow is currently a foot deep and more; try using an outdoor shooting range around here to see why you might want to try the indoors kind...

    the regulations that are in place are there because they have been deemed necessary for public safety.

    or, as often, those regulations are there because some politician thought enacting them would be a good way to get reelected. lots of regulations do nothing but pander to historical moral panics, for precisely this reason, and to no good practical effect.

    (honestly, gun laws in the USA don't suffer too badly from the moral panic effect --- if only because the NRA has acted as a sensible counterbalance over the years. look at knife laws, though, for real silliness. the federal ban on switchblades makes no practical sense whatsoever, but got lots of votes in a "get tough on latino gang members" public outrage back in its day.)

  91. Nomen, sorry you don't like the big bang from your guns. Have you heard of earplugs or headphones? They protect your hearing, they're cheap, they're legal, and they can't be used to assassinate people without anyone else hearing. And as for those living nearby, I know I wouldn't want to be anywhere near a shooting range, and it's not because of the noise.

    Clearly I have more faith in our government to determine regulations that protect my safety.