Our gun culture

December 18, 2012 • 5:22 am

My German friend Florian Maderspacher, who works for Current Biology and has moved to America, sent me the link to these gun ads, along with a note (and permission to publish it):

I really want to like America, I live here, but what happened last Friday and the grounds on which that grew make it very very hard..

Here are the ads as displayed by Mother Jones magazine, which shows many more than these:

The appeal to masculinity (from Maxim, of course):


The implicit threat to reelection:



How dare they appeal to evolution!?*&(%$#  The “adaptation” here is fixing the gun so you can kill more people faster.

Picture 1

A Bushmaster was one of the guns used in the Newtown killings.

Equating Obama with Hitler:


Selling guns with sex:


Concealed handguns are for women, too!


And let’s not forget Junior!


168 thoughts on “Our gun culture

  1. I wish I understood your country’s obsession with guns. I really wonder what the upshot of it all will be and I fear that some of the dystopian movies I see may be closer to the truth than I thought.

    1. You shouldn’t generalize so much. The state in which I currently live, New York, has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. New York City has particularly stringent laws on handgun ownership and consequently enjoys a very low death rate from gun violence.

      Only last night, Mayor Bloomberg was making his rounds on some of the talking head political shows, forcefully arguing for much stricter gun control legislation on a national level.


      I feel that there is cause for optimism that the country will start to move in the appropriate direction on this issue.

      1. If you lived in another part of New York STATE – which NY CITY frequently forgets or pretends does not exist – you would realize that much of NY STATE is like the Midwest and South, full of rednecks and hardcore conservatives who own dozens of guns, think Obama is a socialist Muslim, and hate anyone who is not white and xian. Just this past summer I drove past a home in a rural part of my county (and there’s lot of that) which had TWO Confederate battle flags hanging from their porch! This is NEW YORK, not Alabama.

        1. Oh yes, and beer and Nascar is quite popular too. I even knew someone who wanted to name their kid John Deere, after the tractor!

          America, land of the barbarians.

          1. We Farmall folks aren’t particularly keen on John Deere, but don’t automatically lump the Deere enthusuiast with the barbarians. Also, I know of no real farmers who have ever even entertained such a namimg idea.

            1. For every real farmer or rancher there are a million cosplay cowboys. They just don’t realize that it’s cosplay.

              1. Humanity is a barbaric culture barely above the animals. They think their shiny toys make them smarter. Just watch TV for a day and look at all the pandering to base animal instincts and you will know better. WHy do you think no real intelligences from other worlds bother with us?

              2. “They think their shiny toys make them smarter. Just watch TV….”


                We have a cognitive ability that is neither omniscient nor infallible. We are creatures of self made souls and we haven’t learned enough yet and we seem to be rather slow (the atomic theory is what…only 150 years old?) Someday, we will reach our full human potential in a peaceful world. But, trying to live by falsehoods like religion is necessarily keeping us down. That’s why truth matters and atheism matters.

        2. “If you lived in another part of New York STATE – which NY CITY frequently forgets or pretends does not exist –…”

          Calm down. I don’t dispute that the rest of the state is often very different from NYC. But it does seem to be the case that New York State has, relative to the rest of the country, pretty tough gun legistlation:


            1. And this is why the rest of NY STATE wished that Hurricane Sandy had taken NY CITY out to the Atlantic and sunk it.

              1. Whoops meant that for the swipe at New Jersey, which the southern half is actually quite nice.

        3. As a New Jersey resident I find the relationship between New York State and New York City quite … amusing. Both entities try to ignore the other as much as possible.

          1. As my friend put it, “Welcome to New Jersey. We apologize for Newark.” NY ain’t the only ones who do it.

            To a lesser degree, around here it’s the Ontario/Toronto split.

    2. One time these assholes in England were trying to take a bunch of our money and stuff. Then they sent an army to make sure we paid up but we had guns so we shot them and they went home.

      The country’s obsession with guns is because guns are power, and in America power is supposed to belong to the people, not the government.

      1. sam wrote:
        in America power is supposed to belong to the people, not the government.

        The power that the people wield regarding the government is at the ballot box, not with a puny weapon. The American government is exactly what the majority of Americans want and vote for and to pretend otherwise is just silly. People own guns in case they want to shoot someone, not to defend themselves against the government.

    1. Well, that’s a problem. If she takes one step forward, she’s going to shoot herself or Dick Cheney (if he’s nearby).

  2. I like living here, but this aspect of our culture is beyond embarrassing!
    I wonder what the advertising designer had in mind by casting the “hot chick” Asian?

  3. How else are these poor souls going to protect themselves from the war on Christmas?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Y-12 National Security Complex teams up with Amazon.

  4. I think someone messed up with the Obama-Hitler one. It looks like they threw together some famous dicatator pictures from ‘Google image’ but picked the wrong photo for Idi Amin.
    That is not him.
    It’s Forest Whitaker playing Amin in ‘The Last King of Scotland’.

    1. Yes! I knew there was something fishy about that picture. You’re absolutely right. As Genghis remarked, reminiscent of Harun Yahya’s use of fishing lures pictures or that creationist “baraminologist” using a picture of a stuffed toy. Priceless. I wonder if Whitaker or the producers could sue?

    2. Also, the ad with the kid and the M-16 has to be at least 30 years old. I doubt that you would see such an advertisment today; it seems that toy guns, cap guns, etc. are less popular with kids today (I could be wrong though).

      1. I had one of those as a kid. It was cool. That’s all that matters.

        Today’s kids can slaughter hundreds of computerized images in the palm of their hands, thanks to modern technology!

      2. Kids have lots of toy guns. They are usually bright colored plastic, until they reach 10 or so, then they all get AirSoft or paintball.

      3. Yeah, why bother with a plastic toy when you can have the real thing under your xmas tree? I’d bet money they do a smaller version in .22 for the kiddies to learn on.

        1. I am sure they do. Speaking of xmas presents, naive European that I am I was quite shocked a few years ago when visiting my in-laws in MT. The youngest one in the family, barely 5 year old at the time, received an actual hunting rifle as a present. Not a kiddie version. The real thing. Perhaps reacting to my horrified stare, his first action after unwrapping it was excitedly saying to me “look, uncle, I got a gun!” while jokingly pointing it directly at me… Guns and 5 year olds? Really, America?

          1. “Guns and 5 year olds? Really, America?”

            Well, I didn’t start shooting “real” guns until I was six. (I had my NRA Sharpshooter’s Fifth Bar at 11.) But I did start training on a BB gun at age five.

            Still ain’t killed nobody yet.

            1. (I had my NRA Sharpshooter’s Fifth Bar at 11.)
              Still ain’t killed nobody yet.

              So … considering how effective a gunman you’ve been, the NRA stands for ? Nystagmus Rifleman’s Assistance? And the “bar” is some sort of support to stop your eyes from bouncing around? Nervous Requiring Aim-aids?
              Would a grenade-launcher help your score? It certainly helped mine in Quake!

    3. Yes, but that’s what Idi Amin looks like now, in America. Would the target audience recognise the real thing?

      1. If that loser nutjob had shot up an elementary school full of non-white kids from a state other than Connecticut, would America have cared as much?

  5. Personally, I can’t for my life understand why anybody would feel like wanting a gun or a fire arm. Can’t see one single positive side to it, especially, if at the same time it’s such a tremendously dangerous object. Who needs it? Can’t people get a kick out of less destructive hobbies, or can’t these ‘sick’ minds live without the thrill of life danger?

    1. Because they can be beautiful objects and it’s a lot of fun using them. It’s natural to feel outraged at a time like this, however the issue MAY not be as black and white as some people like to think.
      Accidents aside, it’s true that the gun itself is just a tool. It’s the intent to kill that is the problem. You can argue this back and forth ’til the cows come home and it won’t be worth anything without concrete stats and an understanding of the psychology behind these murders. If killing is the only motivation you could do a lot more harm with poison. If it’s something about the sense of power and control gained from toting a gun, then guns are indeed part of the problem.

      1. Psychology is important, sure. But there are psychologically troubled people all over the planet. What we have is a problem that results from having psychologically troubled people who have easy access to high power weapons. And, no, guns are not “just” tools. They are tools designed to kill things. A Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle is not just like a pair of pliers.

        An appreciation of high power weapon aesthetics really doesn’t balance out the horrific slaughter we see over and over and over again.

          1. Agree with the assessment that overpopulation is the core problem, and mayhem such as this is the result.

            Interestingly, I think a “guaranteed income” for everyone over eighteen makes this type of thing go away. You tie in a personal assessment/profile of each individual, and you can probably forecast who needs to be monitored, who can achieve greatness with more funding, etc. And, I also support single-payer health care.
            And I support prohibition of manufacture of these weapons, in fact, all guns and ammo. We don’t sells dynamite in hardware stores anymore, useful as it can be.

          2. This is not the first time I read comments here and elsewhere readily bringing up overpopulation as one of the reasons for the tragedy, idiocy, or problem under discussion. Sure, overpopulation is a problem with many ramifications, but I am just not sure a gun culture and gun violence are among them. What I mean is that, overall, as far as violence is concerned, the world was a much nastier place and people far worse in the underpopulated past than now by most standards. Technology has changed dramatically, but so have people, and for the better. Even if there are more of them.

      2. Just like to qualify that I don’t think there can be many, if any, circumstances that justify ownership of assault rifles and such like. Also, there is no question in my mind that stricter control needs to happen.

      3. I understand what you’re saying. Indeed, as an object this can be a ‘beautiful’ tool to look at, as many other tools are. To me though, there are so many beautiful objects around to watch and touch, and exactly because of the danger of a mentally unstable person getting hold of a fire arm, in my opinion the wisest decision should be to get them out of reach to anyone. Is it worth keeping a fire arm in private, if there is one single chance that someone could use it to kill? As I said, I understand you, but I can still not understand why the beauty of it can outweigh the danger of it…. just my point of vew.

        1. I’m sorry Anita, but in spite of the worthy comments of threeflangedjavis, the 2nd Amendment isn’t about collecting beautiful objets d’art, and it isn’t about target shooting any more than it’s about pole-vaulting, and it isn’t about hunting any more than it’s about picking tomatos.

          The 2nd Amendment is about killing soldiers and policemen (with a side of crime prevention). Now, I’m sure that this thought makes you rather uncomfortable, but my well-thumbed copy of the Constitution is notably silent on the subject of Anita’s comfort level.

          People like to spew about the Founders’ intent having something to do with muzzle-loading muskets. Now, aside from the fact that this is pure horseshit (see, e.g., United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=307&invol=174), I really don’t give a rat’s ass about what the Founders might think about modern weapons, any more than I care whether they were thinking about television and the internet when they wrote the 1st Amendment. But for those who DO care, here ya go:

          “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which might be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their PRIVATE arms.”

          —Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress, explaining the Second Amendment

          If you need them, I can give you very similar quotations from many of the other Founders.

          1. Sorry, but times have changed. You don’t see much about “quartering troops” being mentioned, though it was a big deal back then. We have a standing military, not “occasionally raised”, so whatever balance was deemed essential by arming the citizens is essentially moot. The second amendment needs to be repealed: too much harm in the 21st century.

            1. Scott, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I disagree with you categorically, but I absolutely respect your right to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

              SO DO IT ALREADY.

              And in the meantime, quit pretending that it doesn’t mean exactly what it says. (And please don’t even THINK about giving me the “focus on the first phrase” argument, or I’m gonna have to give you the lawyer’s whupping about “precatory language.”)

              This is not a new suggestion; George Will, another foe of the Bill of Rights, and a very articulate one at that, said it many years ago: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1734&dat=19910320&id=cVccAAAAIBAJ&sjid=a1IEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2707,2067366.

              While you’re at it, you can repeal that Third Amendment that you find so irrelevant. After all, we’ve already torched what was left of the 4th, and the 8th. Although the 1st still sometimes seems useful for wiping our asses with.

              1. Witch, I see you’ve gone into full “barrister mode” ..bringing in associations to George Will, the deconstruction of the wording argument (which I was =specifically= bypassing) but you wanted to bring to bear, though it is unfruitful to argue, and then launching into side comments about ALL possible Amendments.
                I won’t go toe-to-toe with you here as it is the wrong wrong forum. But thanks for the quote from Tenche Cox. I didn’t know this one, but Cox’s explanation of the intent (a remedy, a balance, by the citizenry against tyranny) is fitting for the 18th Century, but like the 3rd Amendment, unusable in the 21st Century.

                Were I able to “DO IT”, I would amend to discard the 2nd and 3rd Amendments. Does the elimination of the 2nd Amendment “outlaw” guns? Hardly, not even the case. It simply removes the shield of “rights” for weaponry that ownership of many other equally physical objects don’t enjoy. So you might have to join a “Weapons Club” to shoot/own/trade?? That’s our world today. Heck, if one wanted to impose tyranny, cutting off electricity (there’s no “right” to electricity in my well-thumbed-ACLU copy of the US Constitution) and gasoline from refineries would subdue the rabble faster than blasting with bullets.

            2. Good. Lord.

              The point is that things may not always been all hunky-dory. The laws we write now will have an impact on the laws 100 years from now. Can you assure that severe governmental corruption won’t happen in the next century? We still haven’t resolved the fiscal cliff, for example. Did you know that it is illegal in TN for multiple unrelated women to live together because it is assumed their residence is a whore house?

              Calm down. The citizenry still needs to have arms, we just need more sensible legislation.

          2. If the idea is to be able to resist the US Armed Forces in case of a government going corrupt, shouldn’t people have the right to “bear ICBMs”?

            I hope there aren’t people who seriously think that having semi-automatic rifles in their bedrooms is going to help them combat the US Armed Forces in the (very unlikely) event that the US democracy collapses and the Army decides to wage war on the mainland.

            1. “If the idea is to be able to resist the US Armed Forces in case of a government going corrupt, shouldn’t people have the right to “bear ICBMs”?

              “I hope there aren’t people who seriously think that having semi-automatic rifles in their bedrooms is going to help them combat the US Armed Forces in the (very unlikely) event that the US democracy collapses and the Army decides to wage war on the mainland.”


              As with many other posts in this thread, a bunch of unsupported assumptions.

              As much of a joke as you may THINK you’re making, that we do have the right to “bear ICBMs (or nuclear submarines or what have you) is certainly implied by the Miller case. (But that conclusion might be construed as dicta; just one reason it wouldn’t be upheld as simply as that if the subject comes up again.)

              In Miller, the Supremes decided that the defendant did not have the right to a sawed-off shotgun, because it WASN’T a military weapon. The Court concluded that if it WERE a military weapon, the 2nd Amendment would give him the right to have it.

              Of course, the U.S. Solicitor General in the case lied his ass off to the Supreme Court when he said that it wasn’t a military weapon, which he could do because there was no opposition–Jack Miller had won his appeal at the court below, been released, and of course promptly disappeared…why should he take the chance of sticking around to be reincarcerated if the case were reversed again?

              But OF COURSE sawed-off shotguns are common military weapons. They were used in the civil war. They were used in WWI, where they were referred to as “trench guns.” They were used in WWII, clearing out Japanese from their caves. They were used in ‘Nam, clearing out VC from their tunnels.

              But that’s not my major thesis in responding to you. Of course, if the U.S. Army decided to fight it out, door to door, the resistance would be at a disadvantage. Which is why the U.S. won the war in Viet Nam, and why the Russians won in Afghanistan…right? (That’s a joke, Mr. Bowman…) But do you really think that such an order would be followed? Without mass desertions? Without soldiers killing their own commanders? If I ordered YOU to shoot your own grandfather, you’d just do it?

              And yes, an armed populace would be part of the calculus in deciding whether to follow such an order. The same way that a coyote sometimes thinks real hard before attacking a battle-scarred tabby. Once the attack is on, there ain’t much doubt about the outcome. That doesn’t always mean that the coyote is going to conclude that the prize is going to be worth the cost.

              1. Well, Ahannāsmi, I don’t know what to say to that either.

                I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here–perhaps English isn’t your native tongue. You seem to write it quite well (anyone could make the there/their error, especially when writing in a hurry); your failure seems to be with comprehension.

                “People do seem to think that there “weapons” are a major factor preventing the US Armed Forces from capturing the country.”

                Two unwarranted statements here. First, I never said “major”; I said (emphasis added): “an armed populace would be PART OF the calculus in deciding whether to follow such an order.”

                But that’s a minor quibble. What I object to is your “preventing the US Armed Forces from capturing the country.” No; what would prevent “the US Armed Forces [sic] from capturing the country” is that that order would never be given, and if given, it would not be followed. And in THAT sense private arms would be a factor. Obviously, if the feds decided to nuke Cheyenne, the outcome could hardly be in doubt.

                But that’s a rather global observation, as unnecessarily wide-ranging as your suppositions. Ain’t gonna happen. What might occur are more localized squabbles. Think Waco and Ruby Ridge. Whether you like it or not, the idiot, bloodthirsty actions of the U.S. government in those cases (Randy Weaver, a sad but harmless racist, was set up, and David Koresh, a dangerous sociopath, could have been taken bloodlessly at any time) have caused as much horror–and influenced politics as much as–incidents like Newtown.

              2. Also, unless I am much mistaken (I could be: English is not my mother-tongue), user bujofeo is also implying that he thinks that the US Government is constitutionally bound to allow US citizens to “bear ICBMs”. I would then like know if he also thinks that the various international nuclear non-proliferation treaties that the USA is a signatory of are in violation of the US Constitution by virtue of restricting its citizens’ rights of “bearing” thermonuclear devices?

                On a side note: is there perhaps also a parallel movement campaigning for the constitutionally protected “right” of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre?

              3. Events have overtaken me. When I wrote that English might not be your first language, I hadn’t yet read you statement to that effect.

                So allow me to clarify to avoid any misunderstanding. No, I do NOT think that the Constitution guarantees a right to ICBMs. The Miller case clearly implies that, but Miller would never survive review of that implication, nor should it.

                Which is NOT to say that ANY government should have either unfettered access to any weapons it likes (the U.S. gets away with it because we’re rich bullies), or even that local police should have access to weapons that citizens don’t. (I find the entire concept of SWAT teams unsupportable on balance.)

              4. “No; what would prevent “the US Armed Forces [sic] from capturing the country” is that that order would never be given, and if given, it would not be followed.”

                Yes, I agree. The only thing that prevents the US Armed Forces* from capturing the country, or enacting a coup, is that they have a healthy relationship with the democratic government, and recognize their position as being one of its arms, rather than one of its competitors. I think this is the case for the militaries of all stable democracies around the world.

                I am still doubtful, however, that the general martial status (if you allow me a bad pun) of the masses enters any calculations when militaries around the world stage coups. I come from a geopolitical area in the neighborhood of which military coups are a norm rather than a rarity. As you might already know, South West Asia, where Pakistan is located, probably has the highest rate of non-governmental armed-preparedness in the world: a tiny, but not insignificant, minority there carries not just arms, but also rocket launchers. I am afraid that in the context of that area, the joke about the “right to bear ICBMs” might not just be a poor one, but also one with dark shades of potential reality.

                Also, sorry for misunderstanding your position regrading the “right to bear ICBMs”. I mistakenly got the impression that you were actually claiming that the Miller case provided a strong precedent for it, when you were probably just being sarcastic.

                * By the way, what’s wrong with the expression “the US Armed Forces”? English might not be my first language, but I doubt there is anything ungrammatical or non-idomatic about the construction “the United States Armed Forces”.

        2. Speaking as someone who has in the past owned a
          fishing tackle and gun shop in the UK, and collected antique guns as a hobby, I can understand the beauty of a well-crafted gun. Men generally love mechanical objects. I find now I can get more pleasure of ownership and use from owning, maintaining and driving a vintage car.

          I agree that there is a huge mountain to climb, even if more restrictive legislation is successfully introduced in the US, because of the enormous number of firearms already in circulation. This cannot be a reason to back off from legislation. You must start somewhere. The US should consider consulting with nations such as the UK to learn the basics of firearms legislation, and the practicalities of its operation. I’m not saying that the UK is perfect in this respect, but perhaps the US could learn from our mistakes. Our legislation may not make the UK free from firearms crime, but the statistics show that the rate is significantly lower than in the US. Not to mention gun accident and suicide rates.


            1. I’m trying hard here not to sound superior or suggest that our system is perfect – but it is better!! 😉

    2. Personally, I can’t for my life understand why anybody would feel like wanting a gun or a fire arm.

      Seriously? The main reasons people own guns are not exactly a secret: hunting, target shooting, collecting, self-defense.

      1. Those, for sure, but also insecurity, paranoia, and fucked ideas about what makes you masculine, just to round out the list.

          1. City people ought to consider why it is that almost every farmer owns a varmint rifle. Then try to visualize where your food comes from.

            1. Our food comes from large Corporate Agricultural concerns. In the 19th Century, over 70% of the population farmed. Now, it’s like 3-5%, and those are part of the 47%, the takers (of crop subsidies) though they cannot face the reality of it. The “Varmint rifle” sounds quaint, but in practice virtually unnecessary (OK, forgot about putting down dogs that worry sheep) for ag-business.

          2. Well yes you’re quite right. I see some nut pointing a gun at me (or even waving a gun around) and I instantly get major feelings of paranoia, insecurity and aversion. It’s probably rooted in a deep-seated fear of becoming dead.

            1. I’m just curious…how many times have you had guns pointed at you, and what were you doing at the time?

              I’ve been surrounded by people with guns my whole life, and the only time that I recall having one pointed at me was in Southeastern Turkey, near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, in 1991. By Kurds fleeing the Republican Guards. They shot at me. They missed.

              1. I was being rhetorical. You know, a bit like you were when you slagged off Germans?

                The actual answer is, just once, and to be fair to the farmer concerned, it was pointing more at the ground than me. It’s easier to be fair to him in retrospect than it felt at the time. He may have been a perfectly reasonable bloke, but I didn’t feel like finding out.

                And no I haven’t usually been surrounded by people with guns, for which I am profoundly thankful.

        1. “Those, for sure, but also insecurity, paranoia, and fucked ideas about what makes you masculine, just to round out the list”

          Yes, plus others. I remember asking a family acquaintance in Arizona, an older white male of course, why he was so eager about getting a concealed weapon permit. He seemed surprised by the question, and then answered “Why, because we have Mexicans here, of course!”

          1. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot one really big reason: the need to own guns to fend off the government when they turn tyrannical. So far as I can tell, this is the real reason that my gun loving friends freak out at any mention of assault weapons bans or limits on clip size or extra-deadly ammo. In their minds, they are going to be fighting some future war against the U.S. government and they feel they need to be armed accordingly (never mind the absurdity of facing an M1 or Predator Drone with a Bushmaster). If they didn’t think like this, the ad addressed to politicians wouldn’t make sense.

            People can protest all they want that they don’t buy guns for these reasons. I might believe them except the advertisers know their audience. If these ads didn’t motivate people to buy guns they wouldn’t make them. Look upon the ads and shudder.

            1. People can protest all they want that they don’t buy guns for these reasons. I might believe them except the advertisers know their audience. If these ads didn’t motivate people to buy guns they wouldn’t make them.

              Yes, and survivalist magazines also include ads for tents and knives and generators and all sorts of other things. So obviously we should just assume that “people” who buy those products are survivalists. They’ll deny it of course, but we know better. Because of the ads.

        2. “fucked ideas about what makes you masculine” explains guns?

          Damn. And here I thought that it just explained Corvettes and Hogley-Fergusons.

    3. “Personally, I can’t for my life understand why anybody would feel like wanting a gun or a fire arm.”

      I can’t for my life understand why anybody would feel like not wanting one. Where do we go from here?

      I’ve been involved in shooting all my life, I remember walking to and from clay pigeon shoots when I was 13-14 with a 12 bore over my shoulder, in a case of course. Wouldn’t get away with that these days. I used to shoot combat pistol in South Africa when I was there and carried my Colt .45 auto with me at all times, more because I had nowhere secure to leave it than from any feeling of paranoia or fear and somehow I never felt the need to pull it out and shoot anyone. Even when I was robbed or threatened by abusive drinks I was easily able to resist the temptation to wave a loaded firearm around.

      I agree there must be limits, you only have to watch the American gun porn shows on cable to see how over the top they are over there, but banning everything is just as extreme in the other direction.

      It is very true that guns do not kill people, it’s people who kill people and I think the US has problems far more serious than too many guns but the excess of guns only allows those problems to materialise in spectacularly tragic ways.

      If we really care about minimising unnecessary deaths then why not just ban tobacco, cars and limit the amount of food an individual is allowed to eat?

      1. We’re not concerned about “minimizing …deaths”, it is deliberate killing, and the overwhelming power that guns produce. You may feel great about guns and shooting, but all of that belongs in gun clubs with ranges…period. Allowing for “personal defense” only brings “personal offense” with it. Ask any policeman what he prefers, though he is armed: a ban on all projectile-firing weapons. Policeman don’t want to die early, because some idiot gets to call the place and time to unload his weapon.

        1. “We’re not concerned about “minimizing …deaths”, it is deliberate killing, and the overwhelming power that guns produce. You may feel great about guns and shooting, but all of that belongs in gun clubs with ranges…period. Allowing for “personal defense” only brings “personal offense” with it. Ask any policeman what he prefers, though he is armed: a ban on all projectile-firing weapons. Policeman don’t want to die early, because some idiot gets to call the place and time to unload his weapon.”

          Well, the wag wants to reply: of course; criminals don’t like competition. (Police have a far higher rate of crimes, especially gun crimes, than do CCW permit holders. And yes, truthsqueaker, I hear you the first time…)

          But the correct answer is “absolute horseshit.” SO easy to argue when you just make up your own facts, right? Try this actual fact:

          “A survey of 23,113 police chiefs and sheriffs across the country found that 62 percent of these top cops agreed that “a national concealed handgun permit would reduce rates of violent crime.” About 80 percent of rank-and-file police officers, according to polls, support the right of trained citizens to carry concealed weapons.”

          For your penance, recite three Daniel Patrick Moynihans, and five George Santayanas.

          1. Nice survey!
            It’s all in how you ask the question, isn’t it?

            23,113? Isn’t that the number of counties in Texas? What about the rest of the country??!

            Since I only accumulate my information re guns and weapons on a casual basis, I cannot cite (and won’t pursue in this forum) where I found my information about police versus guns. Thus I have to concede on that point. For here.

      2. “If we really care about minimising unnecessary deaths then why not just ban tobacco, cars and limit the amount of food an individual is allowed to eat?”

        Ah, a good ol’ NRA trope. Tobacco is being restricted more and more; in New Zealand, if the current legislation holds, tobacco will be banned from sale from 2017.

        Cars killing people is incidental; they were not designed to kill people and when they do there was generally no intention to kill. On the other hand, guns are created to kill and there are many accidental deaths and many deliberate killings – the guns are only doing what they had been designed for.

        People eating themselves to death generally does not result in the intended murder or accidental killing of other people, nor is it ever the intention to murder others by over eating.

    4. Personally, I can’t for my life understand why anybody would feel like wanting a gun or a fire arm.

      Cynthia Payne provided a likely answer to your question in the screen play for her autobiography. On the subject of cars, the phrase “BCSD was coined. I’ve always suspected the same was at the core of gun-fascination.
      Then again, my first contact with a real gun was with it in the hands of a drunken farmer, loaded and aimed at myself and friends, on a public right of way, and accompanied by the injunction to “Gerrorff Moi Laaand!” (There wouldn’t have been much point complaining to the police ; as the farmer tried to cock his weapon, his bottle was being held by the Chief Constable, no more sober.) That’s just the sort of encounter that’s going to cause me to give people with guns the respect and admiration they deserve, isn’t it?

  6. I recently saw (via the You Tubes) the official promo video for the Taurus Judge.

    Only in America could a company decide that your average gun is not enough of a killing machine and AK-47’s or Pump Action shotguns just are that insy bit to big to conveniently fit into the dash of your car.

    Enter the 6-shooting, revolver that loads shotgun cartridges. This will undoubtedly kill your attacker, the people behind him and for good measure shatter your wrist.

    Over here in the UK the streets are far from safe, but I do not fear death by firearm (unless it is by the police and they think me a terrorist).

    And I am infinitely glad that I am highly unlikely to be caught in the crossfire between car-jackers and Joe Public.

    Although on a wild tangent a friend of mine from South Africa told me they sometimes fit flamethrowers to their vehicles to ward off the car thieves.

    I didn’t think she was joking.

    1. Taurus is a large Brazilian arms manufacturer with a US affiliate. The Judge is a short-barreled revolver chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge. It also fires the 410 shotshell, which, as shotshells go, is pretty small. The gun is promoted as a close-range, self-defense (anti-carjacking) weapon. The idea is to be able to hit something without having to aim carefully.

        1. Taurus says the Judge is designed for use at a range of six feet or closer. It’s no target revolver. If you have the image in your head of a thug with a tire iron demanding you get out of your Mercedes and give him the keys, then a shot pattern with a spread of an inch or might have some appeal.

          1. Lethal force to prevent property theft?

            Start to pull out your gun and he has a choice; attack or run. Escalation like that may work 9 times out of 10, you hope. However, when it doesn’t…

            1. “Lethal force to prevent property theft?

              “Start to pull out your gun and he has a choice; attack or run. Escalation like that may work 9 times out of 10, you hope. However, when it doesn’t…”

              Don’t like those odds? Then don’t play them, and leave the rest of us (you know, those of us who are a bit better at math) the hell alone.

              Your scenario contains unwarranted assumptions. (It reminds me of Pascal’s Wager in that regard, and at least he had some serious cred as a mathematician.)

              1. Where do you get off assuming that carjacking is a crime of property theft, and not in and of itself a violent crime against the person? Are you SURE that if you comply, you won’t get shot anyway? Are you SURE that your child isn’t in the back seat?

              2. Why do you assume that you could not HAVE the weapon and choose not to use it on that occasion? Just like the police, I have often carried a handgun. Just like the police, I have sometimes gone long periods (sometimes even MINUTES at a time!) without feeling the need to shoot anyone.

              1. Well, Johnnie, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it looks like them sumbitches are sleeping on the job.

                I was in Ottawa for a week recently, as Senior Center Referee for the ITF TKD World Championships.

                That must explain the shooting rampage in Ottawa that week…no wonder you’re scared.

        2. This kind of gun, with shot shell, is good if you are attacked by, let’s say, a pit bull. Yes, my neighbors let their pit bulls run on my property.

            1. I hope that you’re not seriously suggesting that a reasonable response in any case to being attacked by a pit bull would be to call 911. In fact, that the proper response to ANY criminal event is to call 911.

              Ask any cop: the rôle of the police is to clean up the mess afterwards, and perhaps to catch and prosecute the criminals. PREVENTING crime is NOT a major part of their job description. Which is why reasonable people keep firearms for that purpose.


            2. I live far out in Vermont’s northern hills, Larry, and I would hate to have to depend on a handgun with a 3-inch barrel if I had to deal with a rabid dog or fisher. A 12-gauge with a bigger charge and a much longer effective range offers huge advantages. Shot shells in a revolver like the Taurus Judge are for venomous snakes that show up in the wrong place. Or very bad people.

              1. I agree. But when I work in the woods, I am usually holding an axe or a chainsaw. I need something in a holster on my belt.

    2. Wow, anyone out there feeling generous, I want one of those!

      But seriously, if you want to post ignorant inflammatory comments then carry on the way you are. If you want to understand the facts then do some research.

      Pistol cartridges adapted to fire shot are not common but they’re not rare. They would be leathal as a bullet at very close range but as distance increases quickly pass through dibilitating to painful to slightly stinging to completely harmless. I’d rather be 20 yards behind someone being shot at with a shot shell than a bullet, if the shooter missed and hit me instead I’d be picking shot out of my skin for a while but very unlikely to receive a lethal wound. Not so with a bullet.

      As to the flame throwers fitted to cars in SA I believe that’s true though it’s not quite how you paint it. The flames come out from under the sides of the car so if anyone tries to force their way in, as in a car jacking, they’re going to get a bit of a shock. It’s not like those old pictures of Iwo Jima where the GI’s are shooting a flaming jet at Japanese soldiers 50 yards away. Not leathal, very local and frankly I can’t think of a better deterrent or more sensible defence against car jackers. Back in the day when every set of traffic lights had some idiot with a bucket and a squeejy trying to obtain money through menaces I was sorely tempted to see if I could import one.

      1. Guns scare the hell out of me. Living in the UK I have rarely seen one (outside of airports). I cannot conceive of what possible use such a weapon as the Judge has.

        Do we assume that these dreaded car jackers do not have the internet? Or are unable to get hold of said weapon?

        Surely in a world where such hand canons exist it would behoove the would be thief to be also likewise armed? Or perhaps simply shoot first?

        It just seems like an escalation to me.

        But what do I know?

        As to the flamethrower, I only repeated what I was told, at the time I was somewhat reeling from the tale my friend had told me just before wherein some years previously her father had been shot in the head and hadn’t noticed. Clearing up the detail of that one took precedence over this one.

  7. re: the “I CARRY” ad.

    The most dangerous projectile in that ad is the topmost fastened button on her shirt. No chance of any “concealed weapons” jokes floating around the ad agency offices, I’ll wager. Sigh.

    That ad, plus the “Wanted for Fun” one, just emphasizes the dysfunctional relationship many people have with weapons. Are gun sales really so low as to require sexing up the ads? Oh, right, they’ll never be high _enough_…

    Just checked Google, and it looks like the Mattel M-16 was _only_ produced in the mid-60s. I figured it was an older ad because the toy didn’t have that talismanic fluorescent muzzle cap. The one that tells the police that although it looks like a real weapon in every other possible detail, it’s actually a toy.

  8. Yes, it’s difficult for us on this side of the Pond to understand America’s fascination with firearms. But I feel we forget just what a young country it is in many respects. I have a friend I met through an online group. He is in his early 80’s and lives in Oklahoma. His name suggests Scots border origins. At any rate his family emigrated from Ulster in the late 18th, century and by the mid 19th were living in Missouri. (My guess is that his was one of the lawless border families that James I&VI removed to Ulster to pacify the area) In the very early part of the 20th century his grandfather and family (including my friend’s father) moved to Cimarron Strip to Homestead. With neighbours no closer than 15 miles distant guns were essential. It takes quite a while I would guess for that kind of background to get out of the blood.That sort of pioneering background is not just history for some people but part of their living experience. The grandfather lived until the mid 50’s and the father until the early 70’s.
    It is only recently that my friend gave up doing most of his grocery shopping out back in the woods!!!

    1. Guns were one of the early 19th century industries that grew from invention, including the idea of interchangeable parts (Samuel Colt) and rapid fire weapons (Gatling, and Maxim). Of course, it was European demand for more lethal weapons that inspired Maxim. Farm equipment was another staggeringly innovative area for 19th century innovation here. So, really, it is the inventive American culture that helps fuel gun culture. Ask any gun collector: he’ll show you the special features of each and every weapon (s)he owns.
      I grew up with all sorts of toy metal pistols, water pistols, playing “Army” and building model WWII aircraft, and shot a .22 at age ten. But as a teenager and adult, I had no desire whatsoever to own a bullet-shooting gun. I owned a bow, and fletched my own arrows, but never purchased lethal (sharp) arrowheads. Really, just ban bullets and the possession of bullets, IMO.

    1. Wow. Toxic masculinity that pretty much defines itself as misogyny. And the solution to doubts about your manhood? Buy a phallic symbol that can actually kill things. At first sight, I thought the first photo in the OP was a joke, it’s so stupid.

    2. I was just about to post this. It’s unbelievable. In my mind, that ad campaign should carry criminal liability with it (and the one about China should have the Secret Service visiting some people at the manufacturer/ad agency). The people who write such things are not fit to walk among us.

      Speaking of which, it might not be a bad idea to turn the regulatory light on gun ads themselves. Why do you need to peddle guns with all of this macho bullshit? You don’t. Gun ads should be more regulated than cigarette ads.

  9. What the hell is a “man card”? Who revokes those, and if the punks who market Bushmaster rifles can issue one, why would anybody want that kind of card in the first place? Probably comes with a bottle of weiner-grow…

  10. First off, let me say that I am for gun control. If you want to melt all the handguns and any type of repeating gun, I’m all for it. I’d even like to see very strict laws concerning access to hunting guns and ammunition. As someone who had a FOID card and has owned a gun I can tell you with absolute certainty that most of the gun owners I have met are crazed people who use fear of property theft and personal protection as their excuse for owning and wanting to carry a gun. Not all, but most. Personally I enjoyed target shooting and I still enjoy archery, but I gave up my gun and FOID when my son was born because a gun and a child are a bad combination. In all seriousness for those of you who don’t understand why anyone would want something so dangerous and you truly want to know, I suggest going to a range where you can try target shooting. Again, I am not defending gun ownership; I’m just suggesting that you get some personal experience if you’re curious.

    1. I can appreciate that people enjoy shooting guns. I used to do target-bow archery which is similar as a hobby.


      Guns are different. The pleasure that target shooters get must be balanced against the continuing slaughter in our schools and shopping malls. The fun of shooting clay pigeons isn’t worth the bloodshed.

      1. As I said, I am for gun control. For me it was a test of skill. Although I enjoyed it and was responsible I know others who were not. I think the question should be is it worth the potential harm to others so I can shoot clay pigeons and of course the answer is no.

      2. So we should get rid of cars too? More people are killed either directly through RTAs and indirectly from pollution and the damage done obtaining the raw materials to make and run the things than through domestically owned guns. When will you be handing your car keys in?

        While you’re at it, maybe you’d like to check your wardrobe and shoe rack for cheap products made by cheap and or child labour in third world countries.

        1. I used to hear people say things like “there are no stupid questions”. They were wrong.

          The implied conclusion of this particular stupid question is that societies should do nothing to solve a problem if all problems are not solved.

        2. Death is a fact of life. But having someone kill you with a weapon that has overwhelming power, does not have to be possible. Knives are lethal, but you don’t see any five-year-olds killing themselves with knives. Heck, stairs and ladders can kill you. The argument for doing away with all potentially lethal situations in our society is absurd because it begins with an untenable premise: the desire to do away with guns is to make ourselves less likely to die. No, it is to make ourselves less likely to be – killed – by someone who -intends- to kill us. And anyone picking up a gun (child of four, or otherwise) has the potential to kill us or themselves, unlike ANY OTHER death-producing situation.

        3. You raise an interesting issue with cars. Of course cars are a tremendous drain on society, what with road accidents and fossil fuel consumption. But, as with guns, it’s simply a question of that kind of society we want to live in. We look at the advantages of driving cars and weigh those against the disadvantages. American culture has decided that private automobiles are worth the deaths and pollution that they cause.

          But the same question is not answered quite as unanimously for guns. I would suggest two reasons for this:

          1) A gun makes it very easy, fast, and impersonal for one person to intentionally kill another (or several). Guns are fairly special in this regard.

          2) Cars are practically built into American culture. You could make the same argument for guns, but while they are part of that cultural heritage in a spiritual sense, cars represent a very concrete aspect of American society; any significant reduction of vehicles on the roads would have to be accompanied by a corresponding overhaul of the physical infrastructure. Guns, on the other habd, can be eliminated without any significant inconvenience beyond a few injured feelings.

          In both cases I refrain from passing judgement as to what is “really” better for society (it’s an open and not altogether objective question), but I suspect that anyone supporting the “the right to own a gun is worth the higher rate of gun-related crime” side is ultimately clinging to an outmoded ideal. The rest of the world is moving away from it, and I imagine that The United States will follow.

    2. This is a lot like my position. I enjoy target shooting, but if I had to choose between more people being safer because it’s a lot harder to acquire lethal weapons, and me getting to put holes in a piece of paper, I’ll go the safety route.

  11. Mattel!!!! The same company that had to recall millions of toys in 2007 because of high levels of toxic lead and dangerous magnets all in toys manufactured in China- they stopped making any toys in the USA in 2002. (They also filed a ridiculous losing lawsuit against a local Montreal food catering service called “Barbie’s”, and created the worst personal computer EVER called “Aquarius”.)

    Looks like they had “toxic” toys well before the 2007 lead scandal.

    1. They should go into the gun business, where they could worry less about liability. I can no longer buy Buckballs, a wonderful science toy, because children might swallow them and be injured. Not a single person has ever been killed by Buckyballs, yet they are going out of business because of the danger they pose. If the Buckyball company had been making the frangible bullets that slaughtered 20 children last week, they’d still be humming along nicely, blissfully untouched by any liability.

      That’s just fucked up.

    2. Addendum:

      Criticism of Mattel’s Barbie for promoting a terribly unhealthy image of womanhood for young girls goes as far back as 1973 when poet Marge Piercy published her poem “Barbie Doll” (see http://www.eliteskills.com/c/6576 for text.)

      But no one was critiquing the image of boys in this ad from Mattel.!!!

  12. Ooh, ooh! This is my favorite part of the movie! The one where our German friends lecture us about civil behavior!

    In Europe, there is an old joke about how no matter where you go in the world, there are two things you can’t get away from: Coca-Cola and Germans. And indeed, there does seem to be a genetic component to the German wanderlust, which involves a periodic forgetting where the borders are, and invading the next territory and stuffing whoever gets in the way into ovens.

    Old history, you say? Well, let’s see. I was in Berlin the day the Wall came down, pounding little pieces off it with my sheet-metal worker’s hammer. Withing week, you started to see the bumper stickers on BMWs (forgive me if my memory, and or German, is imperfect): “Wir wollen zurück unser Wand”…”we want our Wall back.” This wasn’t just about the horrible costs of reunification (mainly ecological refitting), but the fact that the Westerners seemed genuinely surprised by the widespread culture of jack-booted, skinhead, neo-Nazis in the East. And their frequent attacks (without guns, no doubt, that would be uncivilized) on the Turkish and other Gastarbeiter.

    The Germans are so right to criticize us and our horrible gun culture. Let’s throw away all of our guns, and do things the civilized way. With ovens and Zyklon-B.

    1. So what? In America, we are far less concerned about pedigrees of people, where they came from and associated baggage, than what their opinions, here and now, say.

      So let’s not demean someone’s opinion by attempting to associate it with “Zyklon-B”. That’s old Junker/royalty stuff. In America, for the overwhelming segment of the population, your parents and your ethnicity don’t count for jack….well, they didn’t until Rush Limbaugh revived aristocratic mind-speak, for profit.

      1. Point taken. But I wasn’t talking about America as much as I was about Germany. And in spite of the passage of time, there’s still very much a “glass houses” argument to be made. My experiences in Germany from 1987-1992 make me wonder how much things have really changed.

        1. Heh, I have my own stories of Germany, but back in the 1970s. I suggest reading “The Germans” by Gordon A. Craig, who experienced 1930s Germany. Have things really changed in Germany? The book reveals much!

          And look at Carl Schurz, German who comes to America, and embraces America. And, then, he gets an audience with Bismarck! Wirklich!

    2. Well, yeah, it looks like you do need a lecture about civil behavior.

      A genetic component? Please.

      Ovens? Come on.

      Old history? Yep.

      Generalizing about Germans is just dumb. And the one mentioned in this post only made a statement about gun control. And you didn’t bother to say anything about gun advertising. Your only complaint is it came from a German. What a shame.

      1. Well said, Matt.

        Brujofeo, you might not have heard this one, but gratuitously invoking the Nazi comparison card is not generally an accepted way of winning debates on the better sort of websites.

      2. The “genetic component” remark was a joke. should have put a smiley face after it. My apologies for my subtlety.

        The reference to ovens…what don’t you like about it? That it’s unfair to suggest that history holds lessons for us? (As might be suggested by your “Yep” to the “old history” comment.) Or that it neatly underscores the FACT that, as set forth here more eloquently by others, there are many ways to kill people?

        Old history? My experience suggests caution in coming to that conclusion. Perhaps I should say, tell it to the Israelis…

        And I wasn’t generalizing about Germans at all. I was merely pointing out that history suggests that there is a certain irony in THEIR generalizing about our culture, when it appears that they may have a “glass houses” problem that maybe isn’t quite as sorted as they might think.

        I made no comment concerning the advertisements because I have no opinion about them, other than that they’re as stupid as ads for cars or breakfast cereal, and I wouldn’t pay any attention to them in any case. And clearly the original commentator was far more concerned about his perceptions of the gun culture than about the ads themselves…yes?

    3. This is strange. Taking the same argument forward, is a US citizen’s opinion on peace keeping automatically disqualified (or subject to serious qualifications) because she comes from the only nation ever to have used a nuclear weapon on civilian population? I don’t think that sounds quite right.

  13. America’s unending love affair with guns shows no signs of abating, indeed it is increasing. Every state except for Illinois has a law allowing the carrying of concealed weapons — and just last week, a federal court struck down Illinois’ ban. Open carry laws are becoming more widespread, with the recently passed law in Oklahoma making it the 15th state to allow guns to be openly carried (several states don’t even require a license.) There is a NYT article on how open carry laws stifle public debate (at town hall meetings, for instance). After all, would you want to engage in a heated argument with a stranger who had a loaded pistol on his hip?

    More permissive gun laws are on the rise, (five states allow guns on college campuses, with more on the way), along with gun sales, which spiked again after Obama’s re-election and I don’t think it’s all the NRA’s fault. For whatever reason, a huge number of Americans love guns and a large number of the rest of the population think the Constitution protects the rights of gun owners. Unfortunately, I think that once the furor over Newtown dies down, as it always does after these tragedies, America will be back to business as usual. Which means more and more guns in more and more places.

    1. Gun laws may have become somewhat more permissive, but the rate of gun ownership appears to be at or near all-time lows. Rates of murder and other violent crimes have also been dropping. Political scientist Patrick Egan argues that this decline in gun culture and gun violence helps explain the declining support for gun control:

      Thus long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States. This is undoubtedly helping to dampen the public’s support for both gun control and the death penalty. There are growing partisan gaps on attitudes regarding the two policies, but enthusiasm for both has declined recently in lockstep with the drop in crime and violence.

      1. It is an interesting dynamic. I’m thinking about two aspects of our 19th century culture that few know about: a prospective son-in-law was invariably taken hunting by the daughter’s father, to measure his worthiness. Traditional. And, on Christmas Day, all the males of the household took their guns, and shot every bird they laid eyes upon (because birds could strip fields of crops and seeds). Christmas tradition!! The Civil War created the first mass-manufacture of complicated machinery: guns. And those manufacturers just continued after the war. In Europe, the Revolutions of 1848 caused the opposite effect: by whatever means necessary, keep weapons away from the general population, because it can be lethal to established governments to allow widespread ownership of guns and ammo.

      2. Gary W wrote:
        the rate of gun ownership appears to be at or near all-time lows

        Gun ownership is at an all time low yet gun sales are at an all time high? In December 2011 there were 1.4 million background checks, an all-time high and a 25% increase over December 2010. Over the last 10 years there has been a 54% rise in NCIS checks. According to Forbes firearms manufacturers have been a bright light in a down economy, with sales increasing every year. Smith and Wesson sales are up 20% in 2012.

        Why is this? One reason is that permissive laws encourage gun ownership. Another is that Americans’ views on guns have changed. According to Gallup, in 1959 60% of Americans favored a ban on handguns. Today, 26% favor the same ban, an all-time low. I would suggest that anyone who thinks America is “experiencing a waning culture of guns” is not looking at the facts, or possibly has their own agenda.

        1. Gun ownership is at an all time low …

          Yes, gun ownership appears to be at or near all-time lows. See the data in the link I provided.

          … yet gun sales are at an all time high?

          As far as I can tell, the Forbes article you link to does not provide any data on total gun sales. It provides numbers for NCIS checks and for semi-automatic pistol production. Neither of those are sales. NCIS checks have risen as records have been computerized, allowing more instant background checks at the point of purchase. Pistols may be exported after production, or go unsold. And semi-automatic pistols are only one type of gun, anyway. But even if you had produced data showing an increase in gun sales, that wouldn’t conflict with the data showing declining gun ownership, anyway. Ownership would only increase if sales exceeded attrition.

          One reason is that permissive laws encourage gun ownership

          As I said, the evidence indicates that gun ownership has declined, despite the relaxation of gun laws.

          Another is that Americans’ views on guns have changed.

          Yes, they’re less likely to choose to own a gun, and they’re less likely to support gun control. As Egan says, the waning support for gun control may be the result of the decline in gun violence. The less harm caused by guns, the less need to try and reduce that harm through gun control.

          1. Gary W wrote:
            See the data in the link I provided

            There is no accurate data on gun sales, the General Social Survey you rely on is equivalent to a poll, people self reporting – and the question wasn’t whether they own a gun, but whether they keep a gun in their home. I don’t see why Egan equates the two. And, although Egan discounts it, he reports that Gallup shows that 47% said yes when asked if they kept a gun anywhere else on their property (a gun they would obviously own.) So the claim of “ownership” seems a bit nebulous.

            The NCIS checks are a commonly used metric to track sales. True, a tiny minority may be turned down for sales (felons mainly), and a few may change their minds, but it is generally an accurate picture of sales. It may be true that fewer households have guns and the ones that do have guns may have lots more. Be that as it may, I don’t consider that evidence that Americans are losing interest in guns. When you have more and more states where people openly carry guns on their hip, or shoulder holsters with loaded guns, when you have guns on college campuses, in churches, in bars, just about anywhere people want to openly carry them, I’d say it’s a sign that many Americans are more fascinated by guns, not less.

            Yes, they’re less likely to choose to own a gun, and they’re less likely to support gun control. As Egan says, the waning support for gun control may be the result of the decline in gun violence.

            Egan may say this but it seems just as likely that Americans are simply becoming more calloused to the fact of tens of thousands of people injured and dead every year from guns. It’s become a fact of life, just as these occasional massacres have. People are horrified by them, but is anyone really surprised? I don’t think so.

            In the face of widespread open carry practices, stand your ground defenses, and rising gun sales, to make the grandiose claim that American gun culture is declining, seems to be stretching things beyond all reason.

          2. There is no accurate data on gun sales,

            You haven’t produced any evidence that gun sales have increased at all, and even if you had that wouldn’t conflict with a decline in gun ownership anyway, for the reasons I explained (among others).

            the General Social Survey you rely on is equivalent to a poll, people self reporting – and the question wasn’t whether they own a gun, but whether they keep a gun in their home.

            Actually, it’s share of households with a gun. That’s probably a reliable proxy for household gun ownership rates, but it makes no difference to the point. The evidence indicates that fewer households have a gun, despite the relaxation of gun laws.

            The NCIS checks are a commonly used metric to track sales. True, a tiny minority may be turned down for sales (felons mainly), and a few may change their minds, but it is generally an accurate picture of sales.

            No it’s not. NCIS checks can only be done against computerized databases. Otherwise, the check has to be done manually. It’s taken years to computerize all the criminal and medical records needed to perform the NCIS checks. That’s why NCIS checks have gradually increased, as more and more records have been computerized. This has nothing to do with an increase in sales. But this is all irrelevant to the point, anyway. As I said, increasing sales is not inconsistent with declining ownership/possession.

            It may be true that fewer households have guns and the ones that do have guns may have lots more. Be that as it may, I don’t consider that evidence that Americans are losing interest in guns.

            Huh? If they’re not losing interest in guns, why are they getting rid of their guns (or choosing not to get a gun in the first place)? Of course it’s evidence that they’re losing interest.

            When you have more and more states where people openly carry guns on their hip, or shoulder holsters with loaded guns, when you have guns on college campuses, in churches, in bars, just about anywhere people want to openly carry them, I’d say it’s a sign that many Americans are more fascinated by guns, not less.

            No, it’s a sign that people are losing interest in restricting guns in those ways. And as Patrick Egan says, that follows logically from the decline in gun violence. If guns are less of a threat, there’s less incentive to restrict them.

            Egan may say this but it seems just as likely that Americans are simply becoming more calloused to the fact of tens of thousands of people injured and dead every year from guns.

            What evidence is there that Americans are becoming “more calloused” about gun violence?

            1. Gary W wrote:
              You haven’t produced any evidence that gun sales have increased at all

              You’re really going to argue about gun sales? Try googling US gun sales and you’ll come up with dozens if not hundreds of articles like these.

              ABC News:
              U.S. Gun Sales Reach Record Levels In 2012

              NBC News:
              Gun Sales Soar, Boosted by Gun Laws

              ATF Statistics:
              There are 130,000 federally licensed firearms dealers … in 2010 there were 5.5 million new guns manufactured in the US, 95% for the domestic market … in addition 3.2 million guns were imported …

              Yet on the basis of one article, based on one survey, an article that deceptively conflates gun ownership with keeping guns in the home, you’re ready to declare the US gun culture to be fading away. Kind of amazing.

            2. You’re really going to argue about gun sales?

              Yes, I’m really going to argue about gun sales. Yet again, neither of your links contains any data on sales. There may have been a surge in sales last year, prompted by the prospect of Obama’s re-election and fears of new gun laws, but a single-year surge is a blip, not a trend.

              But since you now apparently agree that an increase in sales does not mean an increase in ownership/possession, I don’t know why you’re continuing to beat this dead horse about sales. Whatever has been happening with sales, the evidence from mutiple sources indicates that the fraction of households with a gun has declined. People are either getting rid of their guns, or never acquiring one in the first place. Americans are losing interest in guns.

              1. the evidence from mutiple sources indicates that the fraction of households with a gun has declined.

                Really? I saw one survey that only asked about guns kept in the home. Gallup reports that in 2011 “forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993.” Forty six per cent of adult males say they personally own a gun. The FBI reports that applications to buy a gun have risen every year since 2001, with over 17 million applications so far in 2012. CNN reports that there are over 300 million guns in private hands in the US, with millions more being bought every year. But, since all that these numbers do is convince you that interest in guns is waning … I give up.

              2. I saw one survey that only asked about guns kept in the home.

                The trend of declining gun ownership (or, more precisely — since you keep harping on this irrelevant quibble — the percentage of households with a gun) has been found by multiple surveys, including Gallup and the General Social Survey. The GSS is generally considered the gold standard of social science surveys. The trend goes back at least as far as the mid-1970s. When multiple high-quality public surveys find clear evidence of a multi-decadal trend, it is unlikely to be a statistical fluke or in some other way illusory. The trend is real. I’m not aware of any researcher who seriously questions it.

                For the rate of gun ownership to decline, more and more households must be discarding their guns and not replacing them, or never getting a gun in the first place. How you can seriously claim that this is not evidence of declining interest in guns, I have no idea.

  14. I couldn’t help but notice– the “smart” guys at USA Ammo likely meant to put Obama next to Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator… but they actually posted a picture of Forrest Whittaker from “The Last King of Scotland.” *sigh*

  15. Some of the more disturbing quotes from the Mattel ad:

    “Over 50 rounds!”

    “You never reload!”

    Well honey, we know how Timmy hates to be bothered with reloading. This seems like the perfect Christmas present. And it looks and sounds like a real M-16! And until we overturn these crazy gun laws it looks like the only thing Timmy is going to be able to shoot is a fake gun. I know he is a responsible little guy and I’d give him a real one if I could. I hope that one Christmas, every little boy and girl will have a real M-16 under the Christmas tree.

    1. Kids’ fantasy play should not be regarded as training for adulthood. They are separate.

      My younger sister copied me and my neighborhood boys and played “Army” with a neighbor girl, with all the shooting, dying, etc. And you had “Combat” on television, where all deaths were bloodless and no one had their jaw shot off, etc.

      But none of us six children ever, ever, in adulthood, wanted to purchase a real gun of any type.

      1. I don’t like the ad. I think it is disturbing. I played with guns when I was a kid too. But the fact is this Mattel ad is appealing to the thrill of having a real gun. Also, unfortunately, kids fantasy play can be training for adulthood with real weapons. Look at video games. They are more and more realistic and attempt to simulate actual combat. I’m not suggesting that kids who play these games or play with toy guns will be killers or gun owners. But the actual play does attempt to simulate real combat, and I have a problem with that.

    2. The Mattel ad was an ill-conceived ad that had a very short life more than 40 years ago The King and Kennedy assassinations in 1968 spelled its end.

  16. Is it an ad campaign targeted at kids or are most gun owners seen by the gun companies as dumbshits with a problem with penis size?

    The Remington wouldn’t be so bad; the bolt action loading makes it far more difficult for killers to kill rapidly and for people who go hunting that’s really all that’s needed – if you don’t get it on the first shot your prey isn’t hanging around for a second shot.

    It doesn’t take much effort to come up with schemes to control guns which do not require a change to the constitution; mandate that all rifles sold be like that Remington (nice and long so you can’t hide it, bolt action so you take quite a few seconds to reload and aim) and for all magazines sold for handguns and gas-assisted rifles already out there, limit the capacity to 5 or fewer cartridges. Much higher taxes on the ammo wouldn’t do any harm either; I doubt many if anyone at all still relies on hunting for meat for a living.

    A number of jurisdictions have attempted sales and ownership bans in the past and the courts have overturned every one – I think the most judicious course is to set restrictions that make it more difficult to kill so many with a single gun. That way there is no actual challenge to gun ownership and we don’t need the super majority to amend the constitution. It will still be difficult to get any laws passed though – the House and Senate are just packed with fools and liars who have a problem with penis size and buy into the Mother Jones ads.

  17. Dead is dead. The rationale for designing the tool responsible is not relevant. Generally, people do not buy guns to murder people.

    As regards a gun ban, I think that the issue of criminal ownership is looked at from the wrong direction. If the taxpayer is willing to adequately resource the police, then draconian penalties can effectively be applied for illegal gun ownership. It might in fact simplify the issue of gun crime in that the criminal is easily identified as the guy with the gun.

    1. “The rationale for designing the tool responsible is not relevant. ”

      That’s a load of bullshit. The gun was designed to kill. It had a large magazine. It was self-loading and could be fired repeatedly several times per second if the user wished to do so. If it were a bolt-action instead, it would be a hell of a lot harder to kill so many people. The intent in the design provided a huge advantage to the murderer and the weapon performed as designed. A lot of damage can be done with hardly any training.

  18. A Bushmaster was one of the guns used in the Newtown killings.

    An “adaptive combat rifle”. I assume this combat rifle is the semi-automatic that Lott spins off as “small game rifle” in the next post.

    I can haz gun lowls nou, plz?

  19. How stoked must Bushmaster be? After all, their product worked perfectly. Perhaps they could refer to the incident in their next ad campaign?

    1. I wonder if there would be any legal restrictions on other parties running ads on how good Bushmasters are for killing kids.

  20. The shootings have me wondering about the genetic makeup of human males and its share of the causation of male violence generally (war, rape, weapons). In the next century or two, if gun violence and other forms of brutality become increasingly dysfunctional and subject to state control, could there be any degree of genetic shift in human males? Similarly, or conversely, I wonder what adaptation to the digital era will look like. Will those with quicker brains survive best? Maybe it comes down to who has the most children, gun owners or computer geeks. threepointeightbillionyears.com

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