Lawrence O’Donnell excoriates NRA official

December 22, 2012 • 11:57 am

Political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell went after Wayne LaPierre this morning on MSNBC. Lapierre, as you may know, is the executive vice-president of the odious National Rifle Association (NRA). And you may also recall the solution to the Newtown massacre proposed by LaPierre in a press conference this week: let’s put armed guards in every school instead of legislating more effective gun controls! As O’Donnell notes, that would mean hiring more than 132,000 police officers at a cost of 6.7 billion dollars per year. Nobody can afford that in this fiscal climate, so it’s really a prescription to do nothing.

Let’s stop calling for patience and reflection on this “complex” issue, twiddling our thumbs while waiting for yet another massacre to happen. It’s time to start taking the guns out of American hands.

In the words of the Jewish scholar Maimonedes (1135-1204), “If not now, when?”

O’Donnell is ticked off big time—as we all should be when faced with baby-killing apologists like LaPierre—and this is a great clip. Please watch it.

The NRA makes me sick. And, of course, the gun nuts are a huge embarrassment to the U.S.  Have a look at this tweet:

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120 thoughts on “Lawrence O’Donnell excoriates NRA official

  1. I had no idea the NRA only had 4 million members. Lawrence points out that the AARP has 40 million members.

    So why does the NRA have so much “supposed” clout with elected officials. They don’t represent that much of the vote.

    1. Undoubtedly, it’s the money. It seems likely that NRA money is used to buy political advertising to keep key people in office and to drive key opponents from office. I wouldn’t be surprised if NRA money is spent on advertising that has nothing to do with guns, but has everything to do with gun advocates and gun opponents. It is always the money.

    2. But they have many more supporters who don’t join or send them money who respond to their message and vote for the candidates they back. Someone said there are 100 million gun owners. Haven’t checked that figure. But whatever the number, a sizable number of them are worried that someone will make their guns illegal, so they vote accordingly. Almost everyone I know back in Texas owns guns. From my personal experience, I’d say that 2/3 of them respond directly to the paranoid message of fear that the NRA peddles, that the only thing stands between them and their family being slaughtered by criminals is their gun, that the only thing that stands between them and a government that abducts their family members in the night and sends them to government reeducation camps is their guns.

      1. Correction. Almost everyone I knew outside of work (at a university) owned guns. The rate of gun ownership among the doctors and researchers at the medical school were considerably lower than among my family and random friends, where it was almost universal.

        1. Maybe the people at the university owned guns but didn’t advertise or talk about them as much, maybe they have one tucked in their nightstand or locked away in the closet, or even for rare hunting trips, they may have just had them out of sight and didn’t talk about them in regular conversation because guns aren’t that important to them, or did you actually take a poll and have solid figures of who did and didn’t have guns?

          1. In rural America, most people own at least a rifle or a shotgun. Where I live, in the hills of Vermont, everyone I know owns a gun. But no one has much occasion to mention it. It’s like owning a chainsaw.

    3. With 300 million firearms owned by Americans it is not surprising the political clout that this organisation possesses. Perhaps somebody can tell us what this industry generates in revenue on an annual basis….?
      Hopefully VP Biden will come up with proposals that will be passed successfully thru your legislative bodies. THis Wayne La Pierre is an oxygen thief of note!!

  2. This was excellent and voiced the anger and frustration of those of us sick to death of these headlines. When he went on about the caliber of the ammo, that had me in tears – you want to shake these people – maybe they lack imagination of that classroom and the teachers and those little bodies shredded apart by these weapons – I don’t, for fuck’s sake I don’t lack the imagination and it’s excruciating. And again, I ask – what took them a whole week to come up with this? This took a week of brainstorming? Armed guards in every school? They should have just spewed this shit on the day of the shooting. I can only hope a tide has turned. The possibility that once seemed so remote, your loved one mowed down while shopping, watching a movie, show and tell at kindergarten – is now not so remote. This is personal. I happen to be a gamer – I play World of Warcraft (which is hardly violent – baby pandas and sparkly dragons) yet I hate the military style graphic fps games – graphically killing humans should not be entertainment. We do have to take a look at how violence for entertainment affects those most vulnerable. Yet, if they don’t have easy access to military-grade weapons that can take out an elementary school classroom in the span of a few heartbeats we never have to see another headline like Sandy Hook again. The squawks and screeches from the pro-gun advocates see the writing on the wall. We aren’t going to sit idly, nervously chewing our fingernails wondering when the next madman is going to slaughter innocents with semi-automatics. We will not accept the idiocy of old-west style shootouts in public places as a solution. The NRA thinks we are stupid. They have another thing coming. We are fed up, we are sick, we are irate. I hold my toddler to me – his arms wrapped tightly around my neck, his cheek pressed against mine, his heart beating against my chest, the scent of his hair – and I break for those Sandy Hook parents that will never embrace their babies again. And I vow that my voice will be heard.

      1. And here for more, sorry for the embed.

        But view not just the action, but the poster’s emotive dialogue. FPS games will take few to the brink, but given:

        • Anger and/or,
        • Lust for the experience,
        • A mental or drug induced aberration, and
        • Equipment and easy ammo availability,

        In isolated cases, shootings will continue to unfold.

        So why allow ‘assault intended‘ weapons with extended clips so easily available, and with no limits on ammo, ancillary equipment, and protective body armor with basically one purpose in mind: To allow for a shooter’s more extended sequel.

        Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to retract the damage. One partial solution might be to impose legal limits on ammo possession, and a declaration of felony for extended clip possession. Sorry Wayne, but try to face reality.

        I blogged on the clip/magazine issue from day one after the Tucson incident, at HuffPo after the Aurora incident, and extensively since.

        1. I don’t know what that clip was supposed to demonstrate. The voice-over was all about the merits of the games on the list.

          This argument is rather like the hopefully retired meme that watching pornography encourages sex crime.

          1. “I don’t know what that clip was supposed to demonstrate. The voice-over was all about the merits of the games on the list.”

            The passionate tone of the narrator is telling of an exuberance the tends to permeate the gaming arena, which in the case of some, may extend beyond mere simulations.

            Game number ten is entitled, “Kill on Sight”, a rather broad and ‘all-encompassing’ motif.

            Game nine (and others) are referred to as a “tactful emotioners”, and still others [game five] referred to as “lighthearted fun”, and further commented that “as you play you gain experience [4:15].”

            Which to a degree begs the question: Experience for what? Simply higher scores, or perhaps a real-life act out? Option one for the vast majority, but option two for the few that will merge fantasy with reality.

            While true that the comparison of merits were the intent of the video, one need also to read between the lines.

            1. You have just demonstrated your total ignorance of games and gaming. “As you play you gain experience”, for instance, refers to the fact that that FPS incorporates RPG mechanics, namely the player accrues experience points (XP) as they progress through the game that then allows the acquisition of new abilities and skills. Before you start “reading between the lines” you might actually find out what the lines mean.

              More generally, this kind broad-brush attack on gaming has been a favorite preserve of the “family values” crowd, and relies on poor or non-existent empirical research.

    1. Australia’s popular culture is essentially identical to that of the US when it comes to video games and violent films.

      The difference is that it is virtually impossible for the average person to obtain an assault weapon of any sort in Australia.

      1. Exactly. Yet I maintain that taking a step back and honestly looking at our culture and everything that contributed to this massacre is a necessity right now. The easy access to personal WMD’s (really – that’s what they are) is first and foremost the top of that list and contributes MOST of the concern here. I’m having a difficult time wording this. Maybe, just maybe – this is enough. Violence should be distasteful, graphic violence should not entertain us. I’m not talking legislation here, I’m talking morals. There are plenty of ways to be entertained other than torture/slasher movies and video games in which you are rewarded for blowing someone to bits with lifelike detail. I don’t know – I wasn’t as bothered by this stuff before but after having a kid my tolerance for the violence that permeates our culture as entertainment has collapsed. I know plenty of cultures have more violent games and movies – Japan for example – without the problems we face, but I’m all for a paradigm shift away from violence with its devaluing of life and compassion – we need more compassion – not less.

  3. Let’s distinguish the NRA leadership, who are captives of the gun manufacturers, from the NRA members (as Lawrence O’D did on “The Last Word” Friday eve). In one poll 74% of the NRA members support legislation against high capacity magazines and assault weapons. The NRA leadership proposes to turn the whole country into an armed camp. One commentator observed “they want to have armed volunteers like George Zimmerman patrolling our schools and shopping malls etc.” We all know how that turns out.

    1. My question for members like this is the same on I have for liberal Catholics. “Why do you remain associated with this corrupt organization?”

    2. I don’t care for the politicization (“who are captives of the gun manufacturers”) when O’Donnell manages to box in Lapierre among the madmen.

      As for the NRA members, they are like the religious moderates. Why don’t they speak up, but more importantly why do they stay and remain complicit to the madness of killing children?

  4. Since Australia has occasionally been mentioned in this debate in connection with its aggressive gun-control policy, I thought I would grab the latest figures on gun ownership and deaths here.

    Population as at 22 Dec 2012: 22,849,722

    Percentage of adults who own an operable gun: 5-6% (mostly in rural contexts for feral pest control)

    Firearm homicides in 2010: 30
    Firearm suicides in 2010: 162

    I looked at the Wikipedia page, and its summary of the history and context is fairly accurate:

    I know there is often heavy resistance from Americans in considering the experience of other countries, but really …

    1. The section titled “Contention over the effects of the laws” cites many studies and reports that make conflicting claims as to whether, and to what degree, Australia’s changes to its gun laws actually reduced gun violence in that country. Unless and until an expert consensus is reached regarding the effects of the laws, I don’t think Australia’s experience offers any clear lessons for the U.S.

      1. An ‘expert consensus’ of course, will never be reached, because the pro-gun lobby can always produce its paid creatio – oops, gun-supporting ‘experts’ to muddy the water.

        As you’re doing here.

        Just like the tobacco lobby used to do on smoking risks. They lost that one eventually because the majority of the population are not complete idiots and they can all see a fact if it’s staring them in the face for long enough.

        1. An expert consensus has emerged on numerous empirical questions relating to law and public policy despite the presence of powerful vested interests. The tobacco industry, the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the automobile industry and many others have far greater resources with which to buy “paid experts” than the “pro-gun lobby.” That did not prevent experts from reaching a consensus on various policies that were strongly opposed by those industries. The reason there is no expert consensus regarding the effects of gun control in Australia is that the evidence is inconclusive.

          1. That’s just bullshit. The experts may be arguing over interpretations of the same data, but no one is arguing for a liberalization of our gun laws, which in any case have overwhelming public backing.

            1. I didn’t say they’re arguing for a liberalization of your gun laws. I said the evidence regarding the effects of the changes to the laws is inconclusive. The Wikipedia article cites studies and reports from a number of government and academic sources that challenge claims that the reforms have had a substantial impact on gun violence.

              1. Gary W
                Wherever you are getting your info about the inconclusive nature of the evidence of Australia’s guns laws is incorrect. You might wish to read the following review HERE about those so called contra-reports.

              2. And I would encourage you to read the various embedded pieces in the article as well as they provide a wider context on this issue of “academic sources that challenge claims that the reforms have had a substantial impact on gun violence.”

              3. papalinton,

                You might wish to read the following review HERE about those so called contra-reports.

                Yes, I read that Slate piece when it was published. It purports to be a summary of the available evidence on the effects of Australia’s reforms, but it fails to mention a number of key items, including Baker and McPhedran’s methodological criticisms of Neill and Leigh (incorrect accounting of suicide method substitution; no accounting of gun replacement following the buyback), the work by Don Weatherburn of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (who found that the 1996 legislation had had little or no effect on violence), and the 2009 study by the Australian Institute of Suicide Prevention that found that the 1996 legislation had little or no effect on the number of suicides.

              4. Australia does have a suicide problem, centered on young males in rural and remote areas, and this has been little affected by the changes in gun laws.

                This has nothing to do with the dramatic fall in gun homicides over the past 16 years, which both the majority of experts and both sides of politics agree has resulted from tighter gun control. There will always be dissidents. So what?

      2. That would be an incorrect conclusion.

        Since 1996 reforms there has been one mass shooting in Australia (in 2002), in which two people died. This led to new handgun laws (the 1996 reforms mainly concerned long guns) and there have been no multiple homicides since.

        Australian urban society is essentially unarmed. No one can purchase a firearm for “self-defense”. The bulk of the 30 annual homicides are criminals (mainly bikie gangs) shooting each other in drug turf wars using illegal guns.

        Most of the real contention is about suicide: have people just turned to using other methods? Important though that issue is, it is not immediately germane to the US debate. Mass killings are.

        And so is the issue of disarming society as a whole if one wants to plot a rational course to a safer society.

        1. Since 1996 reforms there has been one mass shooting in Australia (in 2002), in which two people died.

          You really ought to read your own citations. Here’s the quote from Don Weatherburn, head of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, on the effect of the 1996 reforms:

          They may have reduced the risk of mass shootings but we cannot be sure because no one has done the rigorous statistical work required to verify this possibility. It is always unpleasant to acknowledge facts that are inconsistent with your own point of view. But I thought that was what distinguished science from popular prejudice.

          1. You are referring to a newspaper article published seven years ago, when the most current data available was for 2003.

            The data I presented above was extracted from the Australian Bureau of Statistics database today. The case for disarming civil society seems overwhelming, however you squint at the data.

            I referenced the Wikipedia article simply to provide some context for how the debate proceeded in Australia.

            1. The data you presented is a single-year count of total firearms suicides and homicides. It tells us absolutely nothing about the effect of the changes to Australia’s laws on the risk of mass shootings.

              1. There’s no data on mass shootings because there haven’t been any. As I said, the last was in 2002, which killed two people.

              2. Is there any data that shows an INCREASE in mass shootings by civilians against fellow civilians after tighter gun controls in a country?

              3. There’s no data on mass shootings because there haven’t been any.

                Of course there’s data. The data is that the number of mass shootings since 2002 is zero. That number isn’t at issue. What’s at issue is whether the changes in the law reduced the risk of mass shootings. The data you presented on firearms deaths in 2010 tells us absolutely nothing about this.

              4. In the past 16 years there have been *many* changes to laws and regulations at both a State and federal level, the cumulative effects of which have been to ever-tighten gun control.

                Now apart from NO mass shootings in 10 years, the total gun homicide rate has more than halved since 1996. But to compare with the US, which is the point at issue here …

                The 30 fatalities in 2010 translates to 413 if you adjust for population size. My understanding is that there are more than 10,000 firearm homicides in America each year, or about 25 times more than in Australia, proportionately speaking.

              5. You still don’t seem to understand the basic problem with your claims. Simply comparing the population-adjusted firearm fatality counts between the U.S. and Australia tells us *nothing* about the effect of the changes in Australia’s gun laws. Ditto for simply comparing firearm fatality counts in Australia before and after the changes in the law. Firearm fatalities have also declined in the U.S., but without any major changes to its gun laws (if anything, gun laws in the U.S. have become less restrictive over the past decade or so, not more). Correlation is not causation.

            2. Your argument is perverse. We are not talking about marginal differences here that may be caused by confounders or data collection errors. And I don’t need to be patronized about the difference between correlation and causality.

              If you honestly believe that the order of magnitude difference between gun fatalities in America and the rest of developed world is not a result of essentially non-existent US gun control, then I cannot help you. To me, it’s like talking to someone who insists the world is 6000 years old.

              Australia went through a period of horrible mass shootings, culminating in the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Our conservative prime minister, in probably his finest moment in his 11 years in office, took decisive action — including levying a one-off tax on all Australians to fund a massive gun buyback. Sixteen year later we are reaping the benefits. And yes, that’s causality.

              1. And I don’t need to be patronized about the difference between correlation and causality.

                Sorry, but you do need to be reminded of the difference, because you keep claiming that the correlation between the change in the number of mass shootings and the change in the law means that the former was caused by the latter. And for reasons that I cannot fathom, you also seem to think that comparing the population-adjusted number of gun deaths between the U.S. and Australia tells us something about the effect of Australia’s legal reforms on gun deaths in Australia. That makes no sense at all.

              2. I really don’t see much point in continuing a discussion with an NRA shill. Your inability to accept the blindingly obvious is stunning.

          2. I’m confused – What statistical data needs to be compiled in order to see that there has been one mass shooting in Australia since tighter gun control laws? I’m not a mental giant like many of the posters – but that seems pretty straightforward to me. Or does the data need to be convoluted and spun until it supports your own pov?

            1. I’m confused – What statistical data needs to be compiled in order to see that there has been one mass shooting in Australia since tighter gun control laws?

              None. As far as I’m aware, no one is questioning the number of mass shootings. It’s the claim of a causal relationship that’s disputed.

              1. So what do you think causes the drop in mass shootings in countries where they tighten up gun control?

              2. So what do you think causes the drop in mass shootings in countries where they tighten up gun control? Elves?

                In what fraction of countries that tightened up their gun control was that change followed by a drop in mass shootings? An increase in mass shootings? No change?

                There are many of possible causes of a decline in mass shootings, and other kinds of gun violence. Gun violence in the U.S. has declined without any tightening of gun laws. To what do you attribute that? Elves?

              3. “Gun violence in the U.S. has declined without any tightening of gun laws. To what do you attribute that? Elves?”

                Or assault weapon bans? Since expired and now we are seeing an increase of massacres using said weapons?

              4. Perhaps Gary W, in his wisdom, might, instead of indulging in sterile quibblings in order to score petty points, explain why so many more (in both absolute terms and as a percentage of population)people die as a result of being shot in the USA than in any other developed nation. Because Americans are naturally more violent, perhaps? And if he thinks having assault weapons that allow rapid fire in the hands of anybody is a good thing, then he bloody well owes it to everybody to explain why he thinks it is a good thing. And if he thinks that some controls mught be a good idea, then he should say so and suggest what these controls might be. Stop trolling and quibbling, Gary W; be a man and tell us what you genuinely believe where gun-ownership is concerned.

        2. Do you think it will be that simple to say, “ok we made a law, now hand over your guns we are disarming you.” I don’t think many of you see how unrealistic this is, if the US government tries to disarm the people, there will be civil war. There are too many guns out there, we can’t turn back time to a point in history where this would be possible.

          1. That would be a poor excuse for doing nothing. Start with assault weapons and magazine sizes, and dig in for the long haul.

            1. I understand the assault weapons and magazine sizes, but are you saying that avoiding civil war is a poor excuse to not try and disarm America?

              1. What evidence do you have that there will be a civil war? Could this just be speculation? Empty rhetoric? A threat?

                Surely all those responsible gun owners we hear so much about will not break the law.

                Yes, the number of guns makes getting rid of them a daunting problem. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is right now, today.

              2. What type of evidence is there for the feeling that an event could cause civil war, this is not rocket science, so I guess this falls under the catergory of speculation, but even Jerry connected the two below with his comments toward Gary W when he mentioned slaves in US citizens hands and how laws put into effect changed the number of slaves people owned, but it also took a civil war. I am an American and I don’t want another civil war in my country. Some have mentioned on here there are between 10,000 and 30,000 gun related deaths each year, I don’t know the actual numbers but you know for sure the deaths in war would be much higher, if you’re not an American or don’t live in America, I respect your opinion but I don’t think you understand or have enough invested to be able to determine our laws or consequences of such measures

              3. Just to be clear, I would love to live in a world without guns, bombs and all sorts of weapons, I’m just stating the reality of the situation. I also want to make it clear that the first war had to be fought and the value of human rights and equality was worth fighting for in that case.

              4. freegrazer, I don’t care where the fuck you come from. On the internet no-one can tell you’re a dog, and all that.

                What happens in the US matters to me because it exports its shit to the rest of us. When I sign in on the White House petition site, my voice counts and it doesn’t seem to matter where I happen to live.

              5. John Scanlon, what do our gun control laws have to do with imports your country gets from ours, that is nonsense.

  5. And who would have thought that Barbara Boxer would essentially agree with the NRA? She’s calling for the National Guard to be called up and the soldiers posted in schools.

  6. Well-articulated video. Obama has a real chance to do some good in the coming months and years with regard to gun control. Let’s hope he does.

  7. I am continually surprised at how much emotion and how little rational discourse this event has gotten in the media, on this website, and among my friends and colleagues. Mostly what I’ve heard are ridiculous solutions on the pro-gun side (e.g. LaPierre) and surprising invective from people whose rhetorical skills and opinions I generally respect (e.g. the esteemed Dr. Coyne’s “Baby-killing apologists”). As scientists, we should want hard data, clearly defined goals or desired outcomes, and measurably effective solutions.

    At least, that’s what I’ve been wanting since it happened. The closest I found was here:—Aiming-for-Effectiveness

    I usually listen to this guy’s history podcasts and shied away from his political one because I was afraid he’d be to libertarian/conservative for me and I’d lose respect for the excellent history podcasts I’ve come to love. I don’t always agree with him (as a biologist, the “genetic strain” argument for gun violence in this country grates my ears, for example), but on the whole I’m quite refreshed by the thoughtful consideration he gives to the problem and the extensive research and data he brings to bear on it. I humbly submit it to my favorite website for rational discourse on interesting topics and feline idolatry.

  8. I think some of the tearjerking was a bit OTT, but I guess that’s the USA for you. He certainly nailed LaPierre as a crazy man. May he live forever, but it would certainly be ironic if someone shot him.

    1. Doubly ironic if it was with his own gun: Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home

      Note that this is a 1993 study. It would be nice to have a more recent one, but since 1996 the NRA would not allow it. Journal of American Medical Research: Silencing the Science on Gun Research

      … in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.

      To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

      Please read the whole thing, even though it is somewhat depressing. Apologies given up to the Ceiling Cat if this is too long a comment.

  9. “It’s time to start taking the guns out of American hands.”

    Karl Rove thanks you, and all the other commentators who evidently have forgotten the recent Supreme Court decision affirming that an individual’s right to possess a firearm is Constitutionally protected, for the fabulous early Christmas present! Way to go – you have just helped a few more batsh*t crazy Republicans get elected.

    We have just 5 to ten years to bring our CO2 emissions to zero, or civilization may never recover from the effects. Billions of people are likely to die.

    Has there ever been a more critically important political period in world history? Has there ever been a time when it was more important to not give Republicans a tried and true campaign issue on a silver platter?

    The idea that you can actually “Take guns out of the hands of Americans” is ludicrous. You need to repeal the 2nd Amendment, and the chances of that approach zero.

    Sandy Hook inspired all this talk. Sandy Hook is about a maniac going on a rampage with a gun. Maniacs going on a rampage with a gun kill less people in America, on average, than the number of people killed annually due to bee stings.

    Let it go. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball.

    1. I’m not sure it works against these other things. It reveals to many people, people I know, my mom (a gun owner), for example, that the GOP has gone off the rails. It could be an Emperor has no Clothes moment for the GOP to drain out the remainder of their obstructionist clout. Just let a few of them make some choice comments before the next election, some boneheaded Kinsley gaffs like the rape comments, and there just might be enough loss in congress to bring these recalcitrant people to the table. It might be optimistic, but at least there is some emotional heft behind the current issue, some real opportunity for the GOP to fall out of line with common sentiment. Without some watershed event to undermine their clout, I think everything else you are concerned about is DOA. You think they are suddenly going to respond to the next study? You think they are going to cooperate with Democrats to solve these problems if only we don’t upset their gun base? That’s a fantasy.

    2. The idea that you can actually “Take guns out of the hands of Americans” is ludicrous. You need to repeal the 2nd Amendment, and the chances of that approach zero.

      This is simply untrue unless you in sert the word “ALL” into it. Some guns are already taken out of the hands of Americans every year. It is not unreasonable to expect legislation to take more guns, especially the high-capacity military-style weapons, out of the hands of Americans.

      Your argument is that since you can’t do ALL you can’t do ANYTHING. It is an old and very tired NRA talking point. It past time when it can be taken seriously.

      1. There are estimated to be about 270 million guns in private hands in the U.S. The kind of gun control legislation that is being seriously proposed to reduce the number of guns (e.g. a new ban on assault weapons) is unlikely to have more than a marginal effect on that number, and unlikely to have more than a marginal effect on rates of gun violence.

        1. Yeah, and just think about how many slaves were in private hands in the US. That antislavery legislation was seriously unlikely to have more than a marginal effect on that number.

          Your “unlikelies” are pure speculations, pulled out of your nether parts. And I’d rather err on the side of fewer rather than more guns.

          1. No, it’s based on experience. The previous assault weapons ban, which was in place from 1994 to 2004, did not appear to have any significant effect on gun violence. See the summary here.

            1. The day after the shooting, people rushed to the gun shops and many of the stores in my area reported the best business in 40 years and area Wal-Marts sold out of guns. Sounds like it’s going in the wrong direction. In this new civil war scenario, people can bury, hide their guns, make new ones, make their own ammo, the guns can’t run away or refuse to operate of their own will. And what kind of war will it be, the few unarmed people who don’t believe in owning guns against the armed masses?

            2. An the reason: The CDC report states:

              “In conclusion, the application of imperfect methods to imperfect data has commonly resulted in inconsistent and otherwise insufficient evidence with which to determine the effectiveness of firearms laws in modifying violent outcomes.”

              So inconclusive evidence for gun law effectiveness is “quite all right remove gun control laws”, however if conclusive evidence in other countries is found, these are “not enough evidence.”

            3. So inconclusive evidence for gun law effectiveness is “quite all right remove gun control laws”, however if conclusive evidence in other countries is found, these are “not enough evidence.”

              I didn’t advocate removing any gun control laws. As reported in the Wikipedia piece, studies by the CDC and the criminology center at the University of Pennsylvania did not find any significant impact from the assault weapons ban on gun violence. As far as I’m aware, no researcher has found any such effect. This isn’t terribly surprising, since assault weapons were (and are) used in only a small fraction of total shootings, and the criteria used in the ban to define “assault weapon” bore no meaningful relationship to the actual features that make some guns more deadly than others. The ban seems to have been almost entirely cosmetic.

      2. You missed the point.

        Even if you were successful in taking “some” guns out of the hands of people (and I don’t think you can even accomplish that, nor do I think what Dr. Coyne is espousing is much short of banning all guns), it is not WORTH it.

        A sustained gun control effort IS going to elect a lot more Republicans. Civilization can not afford that at this juncture. Global warming is that fracking serious.

        To prevent future Sandy Hooks is to prevent less than 100 deaths a year. Global warming will kill billions. Do the math.

        If we do not drop CO2 emissions to zero in the next decade, civilization as we know it is toast. Is it possible to remember that even when something shiny like Sandy Hook competes for one’s attention span?

        Tell you what – let’s fix global warming first. Then you can bring up as many third-rail election issues as you want.

        1. I missed no point. I am perfectly aware of the seriousness of global warming. Global Warming is hugely important. Nobody here, as far as I know, is denying that. You are not breaking any ground on that subject.

          Where you fail is your hold-fast grip on the notion that you can make progress on without systematically confronting the idiocy that is today’s Republican Party at every opportunity. IMO it it naive to imagine that confronting the gun problem will elect more Republicans. The opposite is true. Most Americans are sick of this insanity. Confront it here and you also confront it on other issues.

        1. Cutting the number of guns would, we know for certain, cut the number of suicides, homicides, and mass-death-shooting-spree-rampages. So 30,000 is indeed the important figure that we wish to reduce, and which the NRA’s fantasy would only increase.

    3. The doctor says, “You have pneumonia, but since antibiotics won’t help your diabetes, I’m not going to treat you.”

  10. I would love to have psychiatric assessment of this guy. Exactly what is going on inside his head and does he own a bunker stuffed with guns and ammo waiting for the zombie apocalypse?

    1. His love of money (his salary and God and the saints only know what other perks) long ago destroyed any sense of responsibility, any logic, any ethical or moral outlook he may have once had.

      In one word, greed.

  11. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that $6.7 billion for the security guards in schools on actually educating children?
    The NRA reminds me of something I had to flush away this morning.

  12. Living without guns is an attitude. It is a frame of mind that must be trained for, that the community must work towards. The highly irrational mental anguish of feeling emotively beleaguered or under constant siege simply sucks the lifeblood out of anything that one could construe as a community or a society. And until Americans can overcome this irrational and totally misplaced existential fear from their mind, there will be no comfort, not even if you are armed to the teeth. Such a scenario will simple continue to perpetuate and exacerbates that feeling of oppression.

    Until Americans, to a person, start to say, “Enough is enough”, and have the enormous courage to make an unequivocal personal commitment to get rid of the guns from their household, their will be no change towards achieving that societal attitude.

    The snake-oil merchants of the NRA, the gun-lobbyists, gun manufacturers and their sycophants in Congress, will forever have your balls in the vice.

    Personally get rid of the guns in your home, and then pillory and mock ion the press, the media, in the public square, those who hang onto their guns. Make it a What are they going to do? Go around shooting unarmed members in the neighbourhood?

    I live in a rural setting, with about four hundred families where one would expect guns to be part of the culture. Apart from a few gun club members, many of whom leaves their guns locked at the club, guns are rare in my neighbourhood. Indeed the one visible gun is the licensed local wildlife contact person to put down injured wildlife out of their misery, a roadstrike or a broken limb, or intestinally flyblown.

    There is no greater freedom than to live in a community without guns.

    Freedom from guns is an attitude, a settled way of thinking, where guns are not the first choice in conflict resolution.

    1. erratum:
      ‘exacerabte’ rather than ‘exacerbates’
      ‘there’ rather than ‘their’
      ‘a vice’ [any vice really, rather than ‘the vice’.
      ‘in’ rather than ‘ion’

      Remove, “Make it a What are they going to do? Go around shooting unarmed members in the neighbourhood?”

      ‘leave’ rather than ‘leaves’

  13. In the words of the Jewish scholar Maimonedes (1135-1204), “If not now, when?”

    The original source of that adage is the Mishnah, a work of Rabbinic Judaism predating Maimonedes by close to a thousand years.

      1. I think s/he was just offering a friendly correction, that “If not now, when?” doesn’t come from Maimonides (12th-13th century), but rather from Hillel (1st century BCE), cited in Ethics of the Fathers 1:14:

        But seeing you envoke Jewish teaching to support your point did bring a smile to my face (and to the faces of other freethinking Jews, I would imagine). 🙂

        1. Also, given the perennial problem with Christians using quotes that are out-of-context, misattributed, distorted, or simply outright fabricated, and the constant correction associated, equity/reciprocity would dictate atheists hold themselves to a comparable standard of care.

          There have been other cases more serious, such as the inclusion of a fabricated quote allegedly from Thomas Jefferson in an atheist seasonal display. This, in contrast, is a quite minor error; or at least, I don’t see much significance to whether it’s Rabbi Hillel or Rabbi Maimonides who expressed the concept so elegantly, and I don’t expect that most people would either. Presumably, there’s some nuances that a modern rabbinical scholar could kvetch about.

  14. I grew up in Chicago and now live right outside of it and every high school I’ve ever been to (mine own and 20 others, 30 years ago, at that time and now my 2 teenagers high school and every school they travel to for sports and band) there was at least 2 armed security persons on duty at all times. Most of the grammer schools have them now also, which I know has proven to be a great deterrent to crime in those schools. The cost is divided by the individual school districts which already have security in half of their schools, so lets say 6 schools, 12 persons hired, very affordable. I’ll pay more taxes for that any day. There are many out of work veterans that are well suited for that job, that would love to serve in the proud position of protecting children. Concenrate on taking the guns out of the criminals hands and not the law abiding citizens that need to protect themselves from them.

    1. Donald
      Not one school bus in Australia carries any adults other than the driver and teachers and perhaps the occasional parent. Not one.

      It is a freedom you will never experience while you ever foment the form of siege mentality you display. It is a tragedy and a great shame that Americans have yet to find the personal courage to climb out of the trenches they call the ‘neighbourhood’.

        1. While we’ve never had a school shooting of any sort in Australia, there has been growing concern about teenage boys carrying knives. There was actually a school stabbing death at a Catholic school at the start of the year.

          Interestingly, the response from stakeholders (parents, teachers, officials, academics) was NOT to call for tighter security but strategies to deal with bullying, harassment and teenage anxiety/depression, as well conflict resolution strategies.

    2. “Concenrate on taking the guns out of the criminals hands and not the law abiding citizens that need to protect themselves from them.”

      The whole “if you outlaw guns, only the criminals will have guns” is full of fail. In addition to conveniently skipping that fact that the police would still have guns as well, it seems that we’d still end up ahead in fact we “let” the “criminals” keep the guns while disarming “regular folks”. Hardened criminals tend to kill their own kind; it’s the regular folks that kill regular folks.

  15. Dear Jerry Coyne
    You are my favorite blog. I’ve read your book and I am a staunch advocate for evolution. But I have to disagree about taking guns out of the hands of Americans. Maybe Americans with mental deficiencies. But not the majority of American gun owners. Stats do not show that taking guns out of the hands of people stops violence.
    But this is a serious issue that we need to discuss until it is fixed.

    1. Sam,

      Citing a gun-apologist paper on whether gun control “stops violence” (whatever that means) is meaningless. The relevant issue is the rate of gun homicide, which is an order of magnitude higher in the US than most other developed nations. See this table and click on homicide:

      My advice is explain that statistic first if you want anyone here to take you seriously.

  16. The British readership of this web site may be familiar with a Radio 4 programme called :ether from America in which Alistair Cook pontificated on some subject from the perspective of the USA every week for about 60 years. This is a link to one in 1993

    in which he talks about gun control in the wake of a shooting.

    The question I have is related to the sting in the tail from 13:10 onwards. I’m afraid the question is a spoiler, so if you want to listen to the whole programme before reading on please do. It’s definitely worthwhile.

    He cites a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that claimed that “keeping a handgun in the home just about trebles the chance of somebody being killed there”. Are there any more recent studies to back this up or deny it?

  17. When our forefathers wrote the amendment there were only muskets, not high power rifles, powerful guns and magazines so something must be done to correct the US love affair with guns. I am ashamed of our country because of LaPierre and others who pay to be members of NRA. I believe some of these members are paranoid otherwise why do they have to have concealed weapons. Be a man and fight with your fists!!!!!!!!

    Walmart: Mr. Walton and his company does not allow books that are inappropriate but Walmart carries guns and bullets. Books can’t be used to hurt people but guns can!!!!!!

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