Rick Perry says prayer will solve the problem of gun violence

January 17, 2013 • 10:25 am

I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m Henri living in a country full of les imbéciles blancs. As reported in several outlets today, Texas governor Rick Perry, responding to President Obama’s new gun-control proposals, says that the country needs not laws, but prayer. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Perry said this:

“There is evil prowling in the world – it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations, and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds,” Perry said in a statement issued after the president’s Washington, D.C., news conference on gun violence. “As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children.”

Perry said few of the recommendations put forth by Vice President Joe Biden’s committee on violence, appointed by the president after the Newtown school massacre that killed 20 children and six adults, had anything to do with what happened in that Connecticut town.

“In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally,” the governor said. “The Second Amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.”

Yeah, and prayer would have saved those kids at Newtown? Had we known about the impending attack, and beseeched God to stop it, that would have worked?

What a country.

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119 thoughts on “Rick Perry says prayer will solve the problem of gun violence

    1. People who talk to themselves are led by people who hear voices. Pat Robertson and his followers are a good example.

  1. Yeah, and prayer would have saved those kids at Newtown?

    AFAICT, the Newtown area is well off, Republican right wing, and heavily xian.

    The xian god is where he always is. Doing what he always does. He is nowhere, doing nothing.

  2. Well, it might help if gun-addicts start folding their hands in prayer, instead of handling guns and pulling triggers?

  3. So, Perry is ignorant about how the NRA is one of the people pushing violent video games? Golly.

    If prayer worked, the murderer would have been dead or disappeared in an instant after he started shooting. Perry, like so many theists and especially Christians, must willfully ignore that there were very very likely people praying right there and then. And this god of his still did NOTHING. Prayer fails, and is the solace of cowards and idiots.

    1. Don’t forget, Texas (led by Perry) prayed for an end to their drought.

      Did not work. “Epic Fail” if there ever was one.

      Does he mention that???

      1. I’m with Perry: “…the piling on by the religious right, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally.”

        That’s what he meant, right?

      2. yep, some folks have mentioned this further down. The absolute willful ignorance and willful lying that goes on shouldn’t amaze me but it does. To declare that “prayer works!” while farmers have to sell their herds, etc, is so pathetically ridiculous and utterly selfish.

      3. Indeed. As Flashman said (in Royal Flash) “It’s a great thing, prayer. Nobody answers, but at least it stops hyou from thinking.”

        1. Really, with this man’s ingenious approach to governing, there should be no problems in the state, right? He can pray anything bad away. If he had been elected president, he wouldn’t have needed Seal Team Six to capture Bin Laden.

  4. “There is evil prowling in the world – it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations,…

    Well part true. There is evil prowling in the world.

    If Perry would look in a mirror, he would see it looking back at him. Guy is just pandering to his base. Again.

    We are fortunate that Perry is too dumb to actually succeed as a politician outside of Texas. In a rather dismal crowd of GOP clowns, he still didn’t do very well running for president.

      1. In defence of Dubya (what?? yeah, I know….) – did he ever say anything quite so spectacularly stupid as Rick Perry?

  5. “The Second Amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people…”

    That’s a rather parochial view of things. There are a number of free, democratic nations that do relatively well without a “basic right” to weaponry.

    1. Yes, that’s the way I see it from the UK. The Second Amendment is beginning to sound as if some people regard it as holy scripture. Surely an “amendment”, almost by definition, should be open to further amendment.

  6. am a little curious here, friends from the US of A, are there laws or sections of the constitution that you have found fit to amend as our knowledge increases? And if this is the case, why is this law unchangeable? I need a little honest help here.

    1. Of course, makagutu.

      The Constitution itself was went into effect in 1789. The first ten amendments, AKA the “Bill of Rights,” were themselves ratified in 1791, so they are technically not part of the original Constitution. We then ratified the 11th Amendment in 1791, and we’ve bee at it ever since, right up through the 27th in 1992 (which, by the way, was submitted by the First Congress) to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789…more than 200 years earlier!)

      The procedure for amending the Constitution is well-understood.

      So, the 2nd Amendment could be done away with at any time…if the votes were there. And, in fact, noted anti-gun writers like George Will have argued for exactly that: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1734&dat=19910320&id=cVccAAAAIBAJ&sjid=a1IEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2707,2067366.

      But many, who KNOW that the votes aren’t there, and are unwilling to wait for them to be, or convince their fellows to vote that way, are left with no choice but to try to “interpret” it out of existence.

      However, some of us “gun-addicts,” as Ludo calls us, seem to be inexplicably resistant to being convinced.

      1. one word “militia”. Soon as you are in one, I’ll be happy to agree. Well regulated militia doesn’t mean anyone can have any gun at any time, and do whatever they want with it whenever they feel like it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia#United_States

        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” or

        “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

        1. “one word “militia”. Soon as you are in one, I’ll be happy to agree.”

          Well of COURSE I am (or at least used to be). And so are (or were) you, unless you’re some kind of goldanged furriner.

          10 USC 311(a): The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

          California law echos the federal, but other states use age ranges as wide as 16-59.

          Glad that you are now happy to agree.

          As for the alleged dependency of the second clause on the first, you might want to look up the term “precatory language.”

          1. brujofeo, note that just after your quote (prematurely) ends, that statute defines two classes of militia as “organized” and “unorganized”. I’ll leave it to the readers to judge which of those two fits the definition of “well regulated”, but truncating that quotation right before the part that might disprove your point seems to be an excessively convenient coincidence.

            1. Nonsense. You seem to be implying that the unorganized militia is any less the militia than the organized militia, which is not just historically ignorant, but would render the statute incoherent. Which it isn’t.

              Or perhaps–as it seems–you’re stating that the unorganized militia is somehow less “well-regulated” than the organized militia, as to which you can add to historical ignorance both irrelevance and a simple misunderstanding of what the word “regulated” meant in the the late 18th century.

              1. So now you have to redefine words, as well as quote selectively to argue your point. And then you claim that any conflicting views are “historically ignorant”. That’s not the most compelling argument I’ve ever heard!
                Sadly I don’t think that reading comprehension is your strong point either: I left it to the readers to decide whether the phrase “well regulated Militia” refers to the “organized militia” or the “unorganized militia”. The second amendment would not be incoherent with either definition, especially if you view it in the context of Article II of the constitution.

              2. I assume (correct me if I’m wrong) that your reference to Article II refers to Section 2 of Article II. Please explain how this differentiates between the organized and the organized militia.

                And again, since you’re complaining about redefining words, I suggest that you look at what “well-regulated” meant to the framers. It didn’t mean “subject to restrictions.” It meant equipped and trained.

                And in any case, the precatory language of the first phrase does not limit the plain prohibition of the second, so this whole discussion is irrelevant. I know that you really, really wish it did have that limiting effect, but your wishful thinking is not evidence. And you can of course keep voting as if it did. Let me know how that works out for you.

              3. Brujofeo,

                How about the late 18th century meaning of the word ‘arms’? Didn’t it mean muskets and canons? I doubt it meant high capacity AR-15s.

              4. Alright, since that worked this time, let me try again.

                No, of course they didn’t “mean” AR-15s, because THEY HADN’T BEEN INVENTED YET. But they DID military weapons relevant to the times. Please read the Miller case, 301 U.S. 174, where the Supremes were prepared to sanction ownership of a sawed-off shotgun IF it were “any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”

                The Supremes could not determine that it was (since no one was there to argue it). But certainly by 1939 we had machine guns, grenades, and weapons far deadlier. Does this mean that anyone can own a nuclear submarine? Doubtful; first of all, Miller, were it revisited, would probably lead to a discussion based upon the word “bear.” More to the point, restrictions had already been placed upon certain weapon by the National Firearms Act of 1934.

                But the Supremes’ decision makes it absolutely clear that the right extends beyond muskets, which in 1939 were no longer “part of the ordinary military equipment,” and in any case would have been useless to “contribute to the common defense.”

                Do I understand that you would argue that the protections of the First Amendment do not apply to radio, television, the internet, or bullhorns with batteries in them?

              5. @brujofeo
                Given that we’re now so deep into the comments that I am also struggling to find the right “Reply” link, it could be time to stop…
                The definition of the classes of Militia came from the same section of the united states code that your truncated quotation came from. Article II was cited for context; although it does define the head of the militia.
                Rather interestingly, every other instance in the constitution where the word “regulate” or “regulated” is used is in the modern sense, which does seem to contradict your claim that “well regulated” used to mean “equipped and trained”.
                Finally, simply repeating “precatory” does not let you just ignore what the amendment actually says.

              6. >>>Rather interestingly, every other instance in the constitution where the word “regulate” or “regulated” is used is in the modern sense, which does seem to contradict your claim that “well regulated” used to mean “equipped and trained”.

                The word “regulated” appears NOWHERE else in the Constitution; the word “regulate” appears twice, in Art. I, Sec. 8, in line with your preferred meaning. But the Supreme Court made clear in Heller what meaning was intended in the 2nd Amendment. Don’t take my word for it; read this explanation by a very anti-gun writer who wants to get rid of the Second Amendment entirely: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-amato/repealing-second-amendment_b_2457871.html

                >>>Finally, simply repeating “precatory” does not let you just ignore what the amendment actually says.

                I’m not merely repeating the word. I’m pointing out that the first clause is IN NO WAY a limitation on the second. Again, don’t take my word for it; read what liberal, anti-gun Constitutional professors like Laurence H. Tribe, Akhil Reed Amar, and Sanford Levinson have written on the subject. I really can’t improve on their writings.

              7. >>> The word “regulated” appears NOWHERE else in the Constitution; the word “regulate” appears twice, in Art. I, Sec. 8, in line with your preferred meaning.
                In other words, “regulate” meant the same in the constitution as it does today. Thank you! 🙂

                The occurrence, or not, of the word “regulated” is rather interesting because, although that is indeed the only current appearance, it did also appear in one of the amendments that was not ratified in the original bill of rights (and was again used in the modern sense). Now, although I certainly should have been more specific, the reason we started this linguistic dissection was to determine whether the people writing the amendments used “regulated” in the same way we do today; apparently they did.

              8. If you simply want to ignore the cited sources, like statements of the founders and the decisions of the Supreme Court, that is certainly your prerogative. But chasing the lowest common denominator in a discussion is a fool’s errand.

              9. Ah, so the crux of your argument is really that you want to ignore what the constitution actually says and use your preferred reinterpretation instead. If you’d just said that at the start it would have saved us both a lot of time.

              10. Yeah–sorry. Not going to feed the troll. I’ve cited my sources. I’ll stand by them, pending contrary evidence.

              11. Andy, you already lost this battle. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right of private ownership of firearms. This interpretation is strongly supported by both liberal and conservative constitutional scholars.

            1. Yeah…since you’re wrong about that, you might want to expand on it a bit, so we can pinpoint the flaw in your understanding.

              Incidentally, there’s absolutely no reason that 10 USC 311 could not be amended, which would not pose nearly the burden as would amending the Constitution. Any here who think that that will vitiate the 2nd Amendment, why don’t you start there? It won’t have any such effect, but at least you’d be doing SOMETHING. And isn’t that the statists’ canon? We have to “do something,” even if that “something” is completely ridiculous and not even vaguely addressed to the problem at hand?

            2. Here, let me be more specific. This is also from Miller, 307 U.S. 174, at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=307&invol=174

              Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Book V. Ch. 1, contains an extended account of the Militia. It is there said: ‘Men of republican principles have been jealous of a standing army as dangerous to liberty.’ ‘In a militia, the character of the labourer, artificer, or tradesman, predominates over that of the soldier: in a standing army, that of the soldier predominates over every other character; and in this distinction seems to consist the essential difference between those two different species of military force.’

              So again…would you like to explain to me how I “have standing army confused with militia”?

    2. Yes, the constitution has been amended twenty-seven times (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Ratified_amendments).

      The most recent one was in 1992, and has to do with pay raises for members of Congress. the next most recent was in 1971, and lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

      It’s a very difficult process, by design. State legislatures in 3/4 of the 50 states have to ratify an amendment for it to be added.

    3. Amending the Constitution is an epic endeavors, as regards the 2nd amendment: not possible at all. The Supreme Court left the door open for “reasonable” regulations. As the killing continues over time, the courts will find more and more regs adopted federally and locally to be reasonable. We just have to have the balls to adopt the regs amidst the hysteria of the right.

      1. The Supreme Court left the door open for “reasonable” regulations. As the killing continues over time, the courts will find more and more regs adopted federally and locally to be reasonable.

        Public support for stricter gun control is in long-term decline, legal restrictions on carrying guns in public have been significantly reduced over the past 20 years, and the Heller ruling has pretty much closed the door to major new restrictions that might have a significant impact on gun violence.

    4. The crux of our problem lies here: “as our knowledge increases.” We seem incapable of learning.

      More seriously: the US Constitution can be amended but it’s extremely difficult. It requires 3/4’s of House and Senate approval of an amendment in the US Congress followed by approval of 3/4’s of state legislatures (3//4’s our of 50). There’s another process involving state legislatures convening a Constitutional convention etc. but it’s at least as difficult.

    5. In fact, we have amended our US Constitution twenty-seven times.

      The most recent Amendment to be ratified was ratified in 1992, although it had been introduced in 1789 – the wheels of government turn reluctantly in this country. (In contrast, the 26th Amendment passed within 4 *months*. Public sentiment can be a powerful stimulant, akin to shoving fire ants up a politician’s nether region.)

      Sadly, rather than looking at the Constitution + Amendments as the latest people’s draft of a work in progress, the prevailing view today is to treat the Constitution more like a holy Bible, authored by holy (and wholly) white, male, gentrified, land-owning, god-fearing, Supermen.

      1. I agree that the process of amending the constitution is a torturous process and most constitutions are written in such manner that making amendments to any section of it becomes a Herculean task but people ought to realize that we can’t be ruled by the dictates of those long dead except in areas where we are still in agreement with their laws. Laws are made for the government of the living. If the dead needed guns for whatever reason, realities have changed and we must adapt, this is just how I see it.
        Those who are being so vocal about the 2nd Amendment seem to be acting like defenders of a religious creed where altering it is acting against the issuing deity!

        1. people ought to realize that we can’t be ruled by the dictates of those long dead except in areas where we are still in agreement with their laws

          That makes sense to rational people, but we’re talking about an electorate that believes we should be ruled by the dictates of people who lived 2000 years ago, because they think those dictates came from God.

        2. Makagutu, you have to know the mindset of members of Congress. I was told this story by a longtime military man, who is now a “consultant” to the Pentagon, and has worked in Washington for nearly forty years:

          “Whenever a member of Congress is presented with -ANY- idea for their consideration, whether a new law, opinion, etc. their first question is this:

          “How can this hurt me?””

          And their second and third questions are always corollaries of the first. So members of Congress are only, always, concerned about their re-election. That is all that they care about. If they support Cheney and his comment, “Deficits don’t matter” to fund the Iraq War, but then, seven years later, complain about deficits…no problem, SO LONG AS THEIR RE-ELECTION IS PRESERVED.

          I advocate, “One and Done”. One term of office, throughout the USA. Dogcatcher, Mayor, Senator, Governor, POTUS, anything…one term and you cannot serve in public office again. Period. We have a VAST reservoir of people these days, perfectly competent, that could refill all elected offices, over and over, for one term. It’s the ONLY way to restore sanity to politics.

          1. Scott, I do agree with you that were the terms of congressmen or rather all public officials who get to office as a result of a public vote should only serve once. What happens to the recall clause, wouldn’t your constituents use that against you for supporting a motion or bill that is not popular among them?

        3. Yep, when that amendment was written white folks had to be able to defend themselves against marauding Indians whose land they were stealing, escaping plantation slaves, folks who disagreed that we should be independent of Britain & other miscreants.

      2. Speaking of the Constitution and the Second Amendment, the following was linked to by Fark.com this morning:


        The thing that caught my eye was the word “patrol”. I have a couple of Penguin reprints of Uncle Remus tales, and the “patter rollers” are mentioned in them more than once fearfully. To me, this indicates that the above link is not made-up B.S., though I’d like to see proper references for the quotes of the Founding Fathers.

        So, if the Second Amendment was a sop to slave owners, and there are no more slaves in the US (except wage slaves), isn’t it time to dump that part of the Amendment?

        1. Apart from those making money from selling guns, who else benefits from this gun ownership? Am sure there are very few Americans whose hobby is hunting game.
          The time is right to seek amendments to this clause.

      1. Me to! He is either completely deluded, or what is pretty common amongst politicians – a cynical opportunist….

  7. So an elected state governor is advocating asking for divine intervention as a solution to a problem.

    And we’re supposed to respect his sincerely held beliefs?

    1. Well, IIRC this is not the first time – didn’t he ask everyone in Texas to pray for rain during the drought there? Also IIRC it didn’t – though whether this was due to lack of prayer or lack of god wasn’t much debated.

    2. Bah, humbug. You know, I know, all the other readers of WEIT know, and Rick Perry knows it’s just playing to the peanut gallery (aka low-information voters).

      Those of you who give copies of “The Rick Perry Coloring Book” to children, be sure that they are accompanied by a crayon in the color “hypocrisy pink”.

  8. “Laws, the only redoubt of secularism…”

    Really Rick? REALLY????? So it’s us secularists who are putting forth laws to limit marriage and to inject creationism into schools?

    Also, do you know for sure that NONE of those kids’ parents had regularly (or even just once) prayed for their kid’s safety and happiness?

    1. Also, not that it really matters, but does anyone believe that Rick Perry would actually use the word “redoubt” in a sentence? After seeing his dismal debate performances last year?

      Just sayin’…

  9. As for whether these new laws would have prevented Newtown, so what? They might prevent something else! They certainly aren’t making anything worse. And anyway, no single law or pathway is going to solve the problem alone. No one is saying “Whew! Assault weapons are banned, we’re all totally safe now!”

    You go at the problem from many angles and in many small steps. Then you wait. It’s going to take time, just like civil rights and women’s rights did. With any luck, things will be better (regarding guns, anyway) in about 20 years.

    1. As for whether these new laws would have prevented Newtown, so what?

      Perry is factually wrong here. One of the guns used in the Newtown shooting would be banned by the proposed “assault weapons” ban.

      1. One of the guns used in the Newtown shooting would be banned by the proposed “assault weapons” ban.

        The gunman could have used a different model of semi-automatic rifle that was not subject to the ban. Or a banned rifle that he obtained illegally (the prospect of a new ban has apparently provoked a massive increase in sales of “assault weapons”). The proposed new federal assault weapons ban, like the previous one that expired in 2004, isn’t likely to have any significant impact on gun violence.

    2. Sorry, Max, but Gary W is correct. Bans on certain “ugly guns” on the basis of cosmetic features is worse than useless. Here’s a liberal’s argument about it: http://kontradictions.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/why-not-renew-the-assault-weapons-ban-well-ill-tell-you/

      If you have the time, don’t just read the piece; check his research (the various hyperlinks). You’ll find that he’s on solid ground.

      But you write this: “With any luck, things will be better (regarding guns, anyway) in about 20 years.”

      Well, if that’s what you want, WHY WAIT? Why not recognize the fact that RIGHT NOW, compared to 20 years ago, all violent crime is way down, gun violence in particular is way down, school safety is WAY better, and mass shootings are NOT up.

      I know that Jerry said something about not linking to video, so got to reason.com, and then tack this onto the end:

      You don’t have to watch the video. The text is there too.

      1. I hope you don’t believe that I label you a “gun nut”. No matter what people have a passion for (skydiving, shooting off rockets, flying airplanes, mountain climbing, four-wheeling, playing rugby, etc) that involve an element of danger, it’s very much OK that they have that passion that others don’t share. But I don’t understand why people opposed to restrictions on guns cannot propose superseding ideas as to lessen incidents such as Sandy Hook. As the killing on the island in Norway illustrates, there are going to be outlier events that no one can prevent, because humans are clever, and insane humans can outwit those of us relying on normal projections about where there should be safeguards. But, no one mentions gun clubs in Germany, England, and why that won’t work here.

        IMO, the biggest block to reasonable attention to the “gun” problem is the short-scripted fear that..

        ” the government will outlaw guns and take them away, and take away our freedoms.”

        Yet the same people claim our government CANNOT POSSIBLY engineer cheaper medical care through a single payer system. That the government is a bungling bureaucracy that never gets anything right, no common sense. Yet, when it comes to an enslavement of the population into a dictatorship, it will be very sudden, very secret, swift, sure, thorough, unremitting, and unstoppable….unstoppable, except, ONLY by an unorganized group of individuals. No one else will notice, or lift a finger. ONLY the gun owners.

        No one has =ever= laid out a date-by-date scenario where the federal government (or, the secret “world government, the UN!!) could conceivably destroy our way of life in the USA. And, don’t mention Germany, which is not even remotely comparable (from its founding in 1871).

        1. Your paragraph starting with ‘yet’ is absolutely brilliant.

          It wouldn’t bother me if this reasoning came up with only the nuttiest of gun nuts- no, I’ve even spoken to my father and and my brother’s *boyfriend’s* father, and numerous sane-seeming people, and this comes up as their number one reasoning for staying away from gun control.

          And I’m like… What?

      2. brujofeo, this is a case where while it might not do much to improve things, is much less likely to make them worse. The assault ban will be useless? I doubt it’ll be absolutely 100% useless. Even if it is, shrug, so what? No one is putting all their eggs in that basket.

        As for gun violence being less now than 20 years ago, WHO CARES? It’s still a problem. It’s still FAR worse than it could be and should be. From your post it sounds a lot like you’re combining an attitude of “it’s hopeless” (to really keep guns out of bad hands) and “why bother doing anything more about it” (because things are already better). Awesome. Way to make life better.

        1. I think that you misunderstand me. I never said that improvements were hopeless. But it seems to me that you’re discounting the contention that banning things also has a downside. You don’t see any problem with banning these so-called “assault weapons” (which are anything but) because you can’t imagine any reason why any sane person would want one. Fine–you’re entitled to that point of view.

          I know fanatic bicyclists who seriously advocate banning all motorized vehicles. And just imagine how many deaths a year in traffic accidents we’d save. But you’d probably recognize that motorized vehicles have a utility, and that there would also be deaths because of no ambulances, lack of transportation of food, whatever. That balancing act is one that you won’t pursue with firearms because they’re just completely evil, with no redeeming qualities.

          Correct me if I’m wrong.

          Heroin is really bad for you. So is alcoholism. But addiction isn’t even CLOSE to presenting us with the kinds of nightmares that prohibition does. So…you want to cut gun (and every other kind of) violence? The answer is simple. Forget about guns and LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS, IMMEDIATELY. Anyone who advocates more gun control without ending prohibition, completely, can’t be taken seriously. And needs to get reacquainted with Santayana.

        2. this is a case where while it might not do much to improve things, is much less likely to make them worse. The assault ban will be useless? I doubt it’ll be absolutely 100% useless. Even if it is, shrug, so what?

          All laws have costs. Laws also frequently have unintended adverse consequences. I can think of a several reasons why an assault weapons ban may be worse than useless: Opportunity costs — The time, money and political capital expended on the ban may be better spent on different laws or policies that would do more to reduce gun violence. Enforcement costs — The time and money expended by the police and criminal justice system enforcing the ban may be better spent enforcing other laws. Unintended consequences — The ban may reduce public pressure for other policies to address gun violence that would do more (or some) good. Also, in order to circumvent the law, gunmakers may modify the design of their weapons (as they did in response to the 1994 assault weapons ban) in ways that make them more dangerous. Also, the ban may incite a rush of new assault weapon purchases before it takes effect, increasing the number of such weapons in circulation and available on the black market (this is actually already happening, and the ban is still just a proposal at this point).

        3. As for gun violence being less now than 20 years ago, WHO CARES? It’s still a problem. It’s still FAR worse than it could be and should be.

          You should care. The massive decline in gun violence (and violence in general) demonstrates that there is no simple relationship between gun ownership, gun laws and violence. It’s not even clear that “more guns causes more violence” or “more gun control causes less violence” are true as general rules, let alone with respect to specific numbers of guns or specific kinds of gun control. The evidence is very unclear. Yet gun control proponents frequently discuss the issue as if their claims about the benefits of gun control are a matter of settled science (or, with even less support, “common sense”) and that no reasonable person could disagree.

  10. Perry’s comments are mostly interesting from a pathology standpoint, as an example of the twisted thinking held by the worst segment of the anti-gun control lobby. After his term as governor ends, Perry is fated for the dustbin of history–future historians will find him worthy of nothing more than obloquy.

    In other news of the day, noted theologian Alvin Plantinga has a book review of Sam Harris’s “Free Will.” I’m eager to see what Jerry will make of it:

  11. Lol.

    Hey if Jesus Himself couldn’t convince all the Jews and Gentiles that he was God, what makes Christians of today think they can?

    When I was a kid I used to pray, then came that awkward moment when I realized I was just talking to myself and then I started cracking up endlessly. So that was the end of that silliness.

    1. The line is brilliantly rendered by Peter O’Toole in “The Ruling Class.”

      Lady Claire Gurney: How do you know you’re God?
      Jack Arnold Alexander Tancred Gurney, 14th Earl of Gurney: Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.

  12. The horrors inflicted on the children of Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December 2012 ought to be sufficient warrant for a serious public discussion of how to prevent a future occurrence. How many violent episodes do we have to endure before we realize that we have a serious problem in the United States and that the problem centers on guns and lack of gun control?

    I am not claiming any degree of expertise with respect to gun control beyond my four years of service in the United States Army. I learned how to fire a variety of weapons while in the service. I also learned how the military practices gun control.

    In basic training, the rifles used for training are locked up each evening. A non-commissioned officer is in charge of locking up the rifles. A soldier does not get to keep his weapon in his footlocker or duffel bag. Weapons are issued to individual soldiers who have passed a physical and psychological test for their fitness to serve.

    The weapons are used to train soldiers in fire team and squad drills that emphasize work as a team or a coordinated unit. Live fire rifle practice is also conducted under close supervision with trained officers and non-commissioned officers present.

    To me this is what the 2nd Amendment is all about. State militias were organized and disciplined groups that operated under state laws. Not every person was allowed to join the militia. There were physical and psychological standards. Historically, those who could not “pass muster” were not considered “fit” for duty. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution was designed to protect these state militias from being taken over by the Federal government.

    The current situation in the United States with respect to gun control is much more dangerous than the current situation in the military service. In the military only those deemed “fit for service” are issued weapons. In parts of the United States almost anyone can get their hands on deadly firearms. If your state has strict rules, it is quite easy to travel to a less strict state and purchase weapons there.

    Any serious gun control solution must include federal regulations that are enforced on all states. We need to see such legislation passed this year. As President Obama has said, “As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. . . We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

    Control of the weapons is just one part of the problem. A second area for work is a public screening for psychological and psychiatric problems. In Massachusetts, all students in the public schools are entitled to Special Educational services. The diagnostic tests that go with these services can effectively evaluate the needs of children for further services. An extension of this type of law to the entire nation would identify children in need of services at an early age and would reduce the probability of a person in need of services doing harm to themselves or others. A national health care system with access for all, “Single Payer,” would also help accomplish the same goal. This approach would reduce the stigma of “mental illness” and encourage more people to get professional care for their loved ones.

    The third and final area for work is in the field of our mass media. I am not calling for censorship, but I am calling for education. We need to realize that the violent images we witness in our mass media do have an effect on how we think and act in society. Numerous studies have shown that the more violent media we watch, the more likely we perceive our society to be dangerous. Violent media create the impression that violence is a normal response to problems of society. We label films for their sexual content, but do not do much to label them for their violence content. For example, the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall” is rated PG-13. (This means it is violent and inappropriate for children under 13!) This is for a film that includes several shootings, numerous car crashes and a number of explosions. Is this sort of stuff appropriate for adults? What does viewing of it do to us?

    Racism and sexism are not considered appropriate themes for modern films. Why do we continue to allow violence to be a main feature of our main features?

    There are no magic cures for our social problems, but this does not mean we should not strive to correct them. Hopefully, some of my suggestions will be considered worthwhile. To protect our children, we have to start acting like adults “regardless of the politics.”

    John J. Fitzgerald

    1. Until the population of the US starts to work on mending the social contract that says, inter alia, the poor meth-addicted bum who lives in the city park is as much a citizen as I am, things will continue spiral downwards.

      N.B. I am well aware that meth addicts are not people to fool around with. But at least spare the thought “there but for the grace of God go I.”

    1. I read it, and my take-away was the following:

      Sam Harris won’t just say, “I like shooting guns. And, I won’t simply state that, I’ll talk about protecting my family.”

      Plenty of people like shooting. An article ran recently about a young man, a championship marksman, that loves to shoot. He has no desire to hunt. He goes to the range and shoots. Has no gun at home for protection.

      If you’re worried about your family and their safety, move to an area that feels safe. I just talked to a woman from Wyoming who didn’t own a house key. She never locked her house. Same for me when I lived in Santa Barbara, CA. Never locked my house, but it was because of the neighborhood. I went to a town in Wisconsin where there were no fences at all between houses! I was very very surprised.

      Sam Harris claims to want to protect his loved ones. Witnessing a shoot-out sometime in the future will permanently damage them mentally, IMO. Perhaps some combat veterans, or policemen, involved in a shooting are unaffected, but why risk the possible mental trauma? If your residence in an area requires protection necessitating a gun, move.

      1. If you’re worried about your family and their safety, move to an area that feels safe.

        Moving to an area that “feels safe” will not eliminate the risk of a violent attack on you or your family. And as a practical matter many people simply do not have the option of doing what you suggest.

        Sam Harris claims to want to protect his loved ones. Witnessing a shoot-out sometime in the future will permanently damage them mentally, IMO.

        Being physically attacked by an intruder would probably be worse.

      2. Not everyone has the option to move and moving doesn’t always ensure safety for those who are in the so-called spotlight. Not having the option to move may be one of the reasons why people feel a need to own a gun. Especially if they are stuck living in a relatively unsafe neighbourhood. Sam Harris has received many death threats and so moving may not be an viable protective measure. Here in Canada, a doctor that was living in a relatively safe neighbourhood was shot and killed by a anti-abortionist that targeted him for performing abortions.

      1. Harris takes up Faircloth’s points in the second essay linked to above. He wins a philosophical point for showing the inconsistency of Sam’s positions ‘God will always be with us like guns will always be with us.’ But Harris wins that point back arguing that a woman’s best defense against a violent man is a gun. Consider this very real and very consequential female perspective: “What if he ignores the restraining order?”

        1. Unless the violent man steals her gun. A better answer lies in the services available to women in states like Massachusetts. As for random violence, better to be well trained in self defense b/c in all likelihood you won’t get the gun out and the safety off in time.

          1. If you were a woman being stalked by an abusive husband or boyfriend who had threatened you with physical violence, you would of course be free to take your chances that “the services” would be willing and able to protect you from him. But I don’t think that would be a wise choice.

            1. My point exactly. Statistics from 2010 in the US show that 94% of women were murdered by someone they knew and 65% by an intimate partner.

              However, this study makes the point that more women were killed by guns than all other means combined and that a gun in the house (vs. none) triples the probability that she will be murdered during a domestic violence dispute.

              So while the data show that guns are a very risky option for women to choose for self-defense, would you deny a women that choice? This is a tough subject.

              FYI, the highest rates of murder appear not to be highly populated but rural states. Top 10: NV, SC, TN, LA, VA, TX, NM, HI, AZ, GA.

            2. The Violence Policy Center is a political lobbying organization. “Studies” from political lobbying organizations are invariably created for the purpose of advancing the organization’s political goals, not as a free inquiry into the truth. It’s political advocacy masquerading as science.

              The statistics you give in your first paragraph look plausible (I assume they come from a government source), but the VPC “study” is garbage. For example, it claims that “women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide.” This is a textbook example of the confusion of correlation and causation. The correlation tells us nothing about the protective effect of handguns. Women who are at higher risk of being murdered (because, for example, they live with an abusive partner) have a greater incentive to purchase a handgun for self-defense than women in general. Hence, higher risk of homicide causes higher rate of gun purchase, not the other way round.

              1. Thx. I should have vetted the source better. I assume the statistics are correct. Even if their conclusion is erroneous, my point is I agree with Harris that gun ownership, for women in particular, is to be defended.

  13. disclaimer before trashing this: I agree prayer is bunk. also I don’t mean to be concern trolling. also hedging is ahead.

    I think when this “pray for ..” thing comes up, the people calling for it are implicitly including the perpetrators as the individuals doing the praying.

    If prayer as they call for works the way that what I have read suggest it does – juicing up specific brain areas (IIRC – e.g. from that previous JC post on the anthropologist ) – you have to wonder what it or just what it really is – meditation – could have done – perhaps kicked them out of a psychological rut. e.g. it could change how they value human lives.

    of course no way to tell, but just sayin – Slick Rick wants all to be Xtian and all to pray including people who are set to carry out violent crime.

    also: holy croissants some of you can write long responses.

  14. Rick Perry forgot to add guns to his list of evil. After all, why do you need guns, if prayers are so much better than gun control.

    1. As people who have stared at the business end of an automatic (or even a semi-auto, for that matter) will tell you:
      you don’t have a prayer.

  15. In his 2011 book: “Why I am Not a Christian”, philosopher Richard Carrier wrote on page 21: ” Think about it. A man approaches a school with a loaded assault rifle, intent on mass slaughter. A loving person speaks to him, attempts to help him resolve his problems or to persuade him to stop, and failing that, punches hight in the kisser, and takes away his gun. And a loving person with godlike powers could simply turn his bullets into popcorn as they left the gun, or heal with a touch whatever insanity or madness led the man to comtemplate the crime. But god does nothing. Therefoe, a loving god does not exist.”
    And those who think there was some mysterious diving purpose in this tragedy should have their head examined. There was no voice from the sky or earthquake lamenting this tragedy. Nothing. There is no one looking after us other than ourselves. Aren’t the people who sent teddy bears and money to the Sandy Hook families a lot better than an inert god who is unable to move or act? There is no mysterious plan to test our free will and give us opportunities to do good deeds to make something right. We are the only agents who are able to make something happen, and not some god who does not exist, or who [conveniently] choses not to present himself to us, as he supposedly did in ancient times. Carrier’s comments were remarkably prescient of the tragedy in Connecticut.
    It is better to do 26 random acts of kindness than to pray, and those acts can’t be legislated. Of course, if people get some comfort from prayer, they can always pray privately, or in church.

    1. Even better than 26 random acts of kindness is a personal commitment to consistently acting kindly whenever and wherever feasible. Yes, even towards total strangers whose names you know not.

  16. When I would wish for something as a child, my grandfather use to delight in crudely saying to me, “Son you can pray in one hand and sh!t in the other; guess which one will fill up faster.” At least you’d have something to show for your efforts if you fill up hand number two.

  17. Conservatives are literalists. They don’t handle nuance or ambiguity well. So, here’s something for them: The 2nd Amendment says we have the right to bear arms, butit doesn’t say we have the right to shoot those arms.

      1. Well, Scott, in fact they did. This also from Miller, 307 U.S. 174, at : http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=307&invol=174

        ‘The American Colonies In The 17th Century’, Osgood, Vol. 1, ch. XIII, affirms in reference to the early system of defense in New England-
        ‘In all the colonies, as in England, the militia system was based on the principle of the assize of arms. This implied the general obligation of all adult male inhabitants to possess arms, and, with certain exceptions, to [307 U.S. 174, 180] cooperate in the work of defence.’ ‘The possession of arms also implied the possession of ammunition, and the authorities paid quite as much attention to the latter as to the former.’ ‘A year later (1632) it was ordered that any single man who had not furnished himself with arms might be put out to service, and this became a permanent part of the legislation of the colony (Massachusetts).’

  18. It is amusing that the religious see no conflict between their belief in an almighty, omniscient benevolent god and the need to pray to god to stop bad things from happening. If you believe in such god why would you think it necessary to beseech him not to let children die? Is he really that out of touch?

  19. You do know that prayer in school was one of the talking points the day of the shooting. Mike Huckabee came in for criticism but he was just following the xian-right script of the moment. Not they would use a tragedy to advance a pre-existing political agenda.

  20. We need to take care of our children and recognize when someone has a mental illness and get treatment for them. There is no shame in having a so called mental illness. The stigma behind this very common problem needs to be dropped.

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