Obama issues executive order mandating some gun control, attacked by Republicans and NRA for his emotionality

January 6, 2016 • 9:00 am

Given that gun control is largely in the hands of a Republican Congress subservient to the National Rifle Association, and adjudicated by an intensely conservative Supreme Court, there’s very little President Obama can do to stem the tsunami of pistols, assault weapons, and open-carry laws inundating the U.S. But he did what he could yesterday. Undoubtedly advised by the Justice Department, he issued an executive order mandating the following:

  • Everyone who sells firearms must register as a gun dealer, get a license and conduct background checks. This provision closes the famous “gun show loophole,” in which sellers at gun shows don’t have to abide by these regulations. It also closes the ability of people to sell guns on the Internet while flouting the regulations.
  • Mental health records should be made part of background checks
  • Stepped-up enforcement: 200 more ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives) agents.
  • Firearms dealers must report lost or stolen guns
  • “Boost gun safety technology” (methods unspecified)

These are, as Obama admitted, baby steps but it’s the best he can do given that there are two other gun-loving branches of government. Remember, too, that 90% of Americans support universal background checks for gun buyers, and yet the Republicans and the NRA oppose this. They are thus opposing the will of the people in their odious attempt to enforce a misconstrued Second Amendment.

Here’s part of Obama’s announcement:

Several times during his talk Obama teared up, especially when remembering the children who’ve been killed in mass shootings. Here’s one instance of his emotionality:

Who can doubt that Obama’s emotion is real? This is, after all, a man who teared up during Aretha Franklin’s performance of “Natural Woman” at last year’s Kennedy Honors!

Who can doubt that? The goddam NRA and Republicans, that’s who. First, the NRA issued a reprehensible statement (quoted in the New York Times):

The National Rifle Association, targeted by Mr. Obama in his speech, mocked his tears.

“The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts,” said Chris W. Cox, the group’s top lobbyist.

Condescending? Seriously? Didn’t sound like it to me. But emotional? Yes, of course, for every gun death leaves behind a wake of distraught friends, lovers, and relatives. Are we not supposed to be passionate about saving the lives of the innocent?

But it gets worse. On a talk show, Fox News hosts Andrea Tantaros, Melissa Francis, and Meghan McCain made fun of Obama’s tears, with Tantaros saying that they “should check the podium for a raw onion” and McCain adding that the weeping “didn’t seem horribly authentic”. How dare they? Have they no sense of decency, at long last? They may dislike Obama’s policies, but it’s lower than a snake’s belly to question whether he was sincere:

MediaMatters reports other mocking reactions of conservatives, including tw**ts by John Nolte and Ben Shapiro of Breitbart and Charles C. W. Cooke of The National Review:




But forget Obama’s tears. Even assume that he surreptitiously applied Ben-Gay ointment to induce them, as Nolte suggested in a later tw**t. Just remember the tears that were real: those of the parents of the children killed in all those school shootings, those of the friends, spouses, and relatives of the 14 people killed in San Bernardino, and the tears of others left alive when thousands of people they knew and loved died in unnecessary gun violence.

According to the NRA and the Republicans, though, that violence is really necessary—an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of our pressing need to defend ourselves. But that’s bogus, for, as Obama said, America has far more gun violence than countries with stricter gun control: 30 times that of the UK, for instance. (And in the US in 2012, 90% of murders were by guns, compared to only 10% in the UK). When countries like the UK and Australia get serious about guns, homicides and accidental shootings drop.

I have to restrain myself here to avoid cursing at Republicans and the NRA for their callousness and love of shooting. All I can say is that if 90% of Americans want background checks, why won’t Congress allow it? And that’s only the first step toward doing what we should do: implement the kind of stringent controls on firearms that other First World countries have.

226 thoughts on “Obama issues executive order mandating some gun control, attacked by Republicans and NRA for his emotionality

  1. The reason Congress won’t pass effective gun safety measures, despite strong majority support among the public, is that for a large part of their (Republican) base it’s the single issue that motivates them.

    1. To misuse a car analogy, “BGSD.”
      Big Gun, Small Dangly-object-just-below-the-waist.
      Do the “background checks” include whether the person wanting the weapon is called “Dick”?

      1. *Sigh* The old guns-are-phallic-symbols argument, eh? Then tell me, who’s sicker? Somebody who thinks weapons are genitals, or somebody who *wants to take everybody else’s genitals away from them?*

        1. If you can’t see the “guns are penis substitutes” argument, then you’ve not been looking at the last few centuries of advertising for weaponry using homo-erotic imagery.
          How much longer did it take for the (male) advertisers to get their “buy a penis” message across to women?

        2. You do realise that thinking of your gun as a penis substitute doesn’t mean your gun is a penis, right?

          Gun control people don’t want to take away genitals, they want to take away guns.

    2. The point is that emotionalism is no substitute for facts. Fact: according to the World Health Organization, the US has the third largest population in the world, but only the 107th highest homicide rate — and every one of those previous 106 has stricter gun-control laws than we do. Fact: according to the FBI: the US homicide rate in general, and gun-homicide rate in particular, have fallen spectacularly since 1993 (and are falling still); during that period the majority of states instituted Concealed Carry of Weapons permits, the number of permit-holders skyrocketed, and so did the number of gun-sales. In 2014 (FBI stats) 11,000 Americans were murdered with firearms (out of a population of 315 million), while 900,000 Americans *prevented* crimes by use of a firearm (according to the CDC, this is only the reported figure; the actual figure may be as high as 3 million). According to the latest Pew poll, 54% of Americans believe individuals should be allowed to keep and carry firearms. Of the 353 “mass shooting incidents” in 2015 (FBI stats), 42% resulted in *no fatalities at all*; 47% resulted in three or fewer fatalities. Of the approx. 10 million CCW permit holders in the US (FBI stats) fewer than 1% have been convicted of any crime (including misdemeanors) with a firearm.

      These are facts. They paint a very different picture from what politicians and the media have told us.

          1. I don’t really have time to read your linked article carefully. I went through it briefly, at it looks like it follows the very common logical flaw – looking at a gun related crime rate without considering other types of violent crime.

            Anyways, you claim that some of the facts in the comment above are a lie. Would you mind pointing which ones? Posting a bunch of URLs and proposing to others to come to your conclusion themselves is, at least, not very polite.

          2. Not necessary for someone who has been conscious the last decade and has been reading newspapers and has an IQ even slightly superior to the average NRI IQ.

          3. You’re always welcome. As Russians say, “хороший друг не родится вдруг”. Or, if you like, put some other unrelated proverb that makes you feel better about yourself.

          4. There is a modicum of truth in that comment and that is the fact that crime has been dropping. That’s something Stephen Pinker addresses in The Better Angels of our Nature, but that is irrelevant to the discussion. The question regarding guns is whether they are contributing to the overall downward trend. The citation about the 106 countries that have stricter gun laws, aside from other objections people have already cited here, is simply an indirect nod to the NRA’s talking point: “Bad guys don’t follow the law.” This is an absolutely absurd reason to not have a law; it’s analogous to the religious person’s “God-box” where the same principles that apply to everything else don’t apply to this one issue. We could very well apply this logic to every crime…voila! No crime!

            However, the other claims get worse. 900,000 crimes stopped by guns? Maybe THREE MILLION??? According to this table, there were about 2.5 million crimes in cities with populations exceeding 250,000 in 2014. Extrapolating that out to the U.S. population and we have about 13.5 million crimes (very likely lower since the above table includes the urban areas with by far the highest crime rates). But let’s go with 13.5 million. The 30-40% of the population who owns guns stopped 20% of all crime, including the millions of crimes that are committed when the victims aren’t even present? That’s an amazing claim and also a myth that’s been debunked: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/

          5. > 900,000 crimes stopped by guns? Maybe THREE MILLION???
            I managed to find a CDC report that was probably supposed to be cited above. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/18319/priorities-for-research-to-reduce-the-threat-of-firearm-related-violence

            They site number estimates from 100.000 to (indeed 🙂 ) 3.000.000 on page 15.

            The link you posted looks interesting though, thanks. To properly comment on that I’ll have to go through it carefully when I have more time (I personally don’t have a rational opinion on gun control, the issue requires weeks and weeks of data analysis and, besides, waaay too politicised, but I like to collect interesting points from both parties, so to say).

            About other points you made.

            > The question regarding guns is whether they are contributing to the overall downward trend.
            Not exactly. The causal relationship gun control opponents are trying to dispute is “more guns means more violent crime”. I think Irish and Australian data, where crime didn’t significantly go down after introduction of gun control, as well as lack of correlation between gun ownership and violent crime for separate groups inside US, makes this relationship a little bit dubious.

            >Bad guys don’t follow the law.
            But this is not such a bad point in a particular case when law in question is affecting the ability of good guys to defend against bad guys (as they claim, wherever it’s true or not), in favour of the latter.

          6. I don’t see your 3 million number in the link you posted, unless it’s behind the $38 paywall. I sure am hell am not going to pay $38 to get at supposedly contrarian information that refutes the publicly available information.

            But the link I already posted has multiple sources demonstrating why the 3 million number is dubious. First of all, there’s no rigid definition for what “preventing a crime” means. The data was collected by survey and the Harvard studies found that incidents where guns were used were overwhelmingly escalation of incidents where use of a firearm is illegal.

            Now, keep in mind as a basis for what’s sensible the previous numbers I posted. Are there other First World countries where crime is running rampant due to the fact that millions of crimes aren’t being stopped by 30% of the population who owns guns? I can imagine a crime being thwarted by a civilian with a gun, but I cannot imagine that this happens with a frequency approaching 1/4 of all crimes. After all, most criminals who aren’t out to commit violent crime look to do it when no one is around to stop them. Right from the outset, the burden of proof lies on gun advocates to demonstrate these crimes are stopped. And this doesn’t even go into the details about how they know they stopped the crime…if it’s a phone survey, it’s safe to assume that hard core gun advocates are going to be liberal with their definition of stopping crime. How do you know that a “stopped crime” isn’t someone who thinks they weren’t robbed because they put a sign outside saying they own guns? I’m not dealing in strict hypotheticals here either; the Harvard survey shows that most uses of guns are not to stop crimes and survey data from people actually shot during crimes is severely lacking in “good guys” doing the shooting. To assume that this all just goes unreported has now entered the realm of the theist who insists because we haven’t conclusively proven with 100% certainty that God doesn’t exist, it’s reasonable to believe he does. The ball is back in the gun advocates’ court; if they believe that society is more dangerous with fewer guns, they need to show it’s true, not just it is within the realm of possibility that crime didn’t drop because of a reduction in guns. As for your claim about Australia, again the data shows otherwise: https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1264/2013/01/bulletins_australia_spring_2011.pdf

          7. >unless it’s behind the $38 paywall.
            There is a blue button “download free pdf” on the right hand of the screen there.

          8. About Australia – sure thing, gun related violent crime went down after gun ban (as it was stated in the link you posted), but as I stated above, the question here is about total violent crime, not gun related crime separately. And total violent did not go down, and actually spiked up after the ban for several years, then followed by a very slow decrease.

            The same with suicides – http://www.mindframe-media.info/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/11868/Suicide-Figures-ABS-2015.pdf

          9. @Peter Vushev
            “And total violent did not go down, and actually spiked up after the ban for several years, then followed by a very slow decrease.

            That link you quoted is misleading, since ‘total violent’ category includes robberies and sexual assaults, which completely swamp the figures for homicides. (I’m assuming most sexual assaults did not involve guns, and – see below – only 5-10% of robberies did).
            So any implication that taking guns away just caused a compensating increase in other crimes is false.

            Try this other page:
            What it does show is that firearm use was roughly 5% – 10% of total violent crimes (depending on year), so controlling firearms never had the potential to make a massive drop in the figures. I don’t know what percentage of violent crime in the US involves guns, but obviously, the greater the percentage, the more influence gun control potentially has.


      1. Would you care to post links to each of those so-called ‘facts’? Such as, which are these 106 countries that have worse homicide rates? Do they include *any* developed first-world country?

        Because frankly I think you’re very carefully selectively quoting out of context and in that respect I suspect your comment is bullshit.


          1. Thank you. I read it.

            I must say I’m surprised by the spectacularly high rates in the Caribbean (with the notable exception of Cuba, which is on a par with the mainland US).

            But I think my comment about ‘developed first-world country’ stands.


          2. In an earlier comment you dismissed another source as “looking at a gun related crime rate without considering other types of violent crime” (that was not true actually).

            This latest link of yours says that the USA has a homicide rate of 3.8/100k. This is apparently 3.8 times higher than the UK’s homicide rate and that is in spite of the fact that almost nobody in the UK has recourse to a firearm to defend themselves with.

            While I am posting, what is this obsession with just counting the homicides? Accidental deaths and suicides are pretty tragic too. In the USA, a few hundred people are killed accidentally with a gun every year, in the UK, the figure is usually zero.

          3. >that was not true actually
            I agree, this statement was not correct, but I said I went through the link very briefly. Anyways, this link was posted as an answer to my question what was wrong in a specific comment above, and it doesn’t answer this question.

            >This latest link of yours says that the USA has a homicide rate of 3.8/100k. This is apparently 3.8 times higher than the UK’s homicide rate and that is in spite of the fact that almost nobody in the UK has recourse to a firearm to defend themselves with.

            Sure. However, the causality here is unknown. Even disregarding different methodologies in calculating homicide statistics (I read a study that it is not in US favour, but cannot find it now), there are many other socioeconomic factors different between US and UK, and contribution of gun policies to this statistic is unknown. I think that, logically, the burden of proof lies on those who claim that it’s guns that are responsible for this huge difference (which I found very suspicious to say the least). As I wrote earlier, Australian and Irish data point out that gun control doesn’t have a significant effect on violent crime.

            >Accidental deaths and suicides are pretty tragic too. In the USA, a few hundred people are killed accidentally with a gun every year, in the UK, the figure is usually zero.

            Hard to argue with that, except that I can only point out that only in US around 500 people die in a bicycle accident every year. However, anyone claiming it is a good enough reason to introduce mandatory governmental bicycle licensing is a very strange person from my point of view.
            Suicide rates in US, while still high, are still in line with many developed countries with stricter gun control policies.

          4. In Switzerland we have had mandatory governmental bicycle licensing, as with all vehicles that go on public roads, and the bicycle license is not only very cheap but it includes insurance. We also have mandatory wearing of a helmet for cyclists. As a result, fatal bicycle accidents are very few and far between, and are usually due to a cyclist being hit and run over by cars or lorries.

          5. In NZ we have compulsory bicycle helmets, but not licensing. Speaking as a car driver I think licensing/insurance would be a damn good idea. It might help to control the percentage of bike riders who break all the road rules with impunity whenever it suits them and get the responsible considerate riders (they do exist!) a bad name.

            However I’m cynically sure any such proposal would raise a huge knee-jerk reaction from the cycling lobby akin to the NRA’s stance on gun control.


          6. To me it is clear that we are dealing here with a NRA flak. Don’t waste your time.

          7. Possibly that is true. But my worldview has been substantially altered over the years by people who pointed things out that I was not aware of. I can’t say I ever left a conversation saying, “well shit, obviously I’m wrong,” but the seeds were planted. Then there’s the people who stumble across this site as the result of a Web search. Who knows what third parties get influenced? The world is changed one step at a time.

            That said, I think I’ve said all there is to say on this thread and the last comments from Peter started to show signs of going in circles so I’ll let the sources I’ve already posted speak for themselves.

      2. I didn’t find the WHO statistics you refer to after some brief googling but I did find statistics from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime which do place the US in about 100th place (as statistics are not available for all years in all countries, the exact ranking will vary a little depending on which set(s)of figures are counted).
        It is where we go from there though that is where your argument seems to fall down. I don’t know where you get your information that all of the countries above the US in the list have tougher gun laws than the US but it seems very doubtful to me. They are almost exclusively developing nations and include the most notoriously lawless places on Earth. That the US has a lower murder rate than countries characterised by extreme poverty, corrupt or collapsed civil institutions and so on does not seem to me to be very relevant to the question of whether tighter gun control would make the US a safer place for its citizens.
        Comparison with other OECD countries is a much more relevant comparison since these are broadly at a comparable level of development both economically and in terms of the rule of law. In this case the US fares much worse, being right at the top of the table with only Mexico and Estonia having higher murder rates and, of the rest, all but Chile and Turkey having murder rates that are half or less that in the US.
        I doubt that different gun control laws are the only factor involved but it is striking that the US has laxer gun control laws and much a higher murder rate than realistically comparable countries. As I understand it the measures Obama is seeking to introduce are pretty modest and hardly amount to an assault on the 2nd Amendment however it is interpreted. No-one seems to object to the idea that in order to drive a car you need to prove you are competent to do so, why is it not equally acceptable that owning a gun should also be subject to some checks that you will use it responsibly and safely?

      3. I am not sure how reassured you expect us to feel by your assertion that 42% of mass shooting incidents resulted in no fatalities (only seriously wounded? that’s ok then!) and 47% resulted in 3 or fewer fatalities (gosh! only three dead! Is it worth even calling the police?). Personally I am not reassured.

  2. I watched the speech yesterday and there was nothing phony about any of it. Without getting too complicated with a description of these people and their NRA employer – pathetic morons will do.

  3. Apparently to the NRA-supporting lunatics, emotion is bad…unless it is the sort of pent up anger that makes one steam from the ears and paranoid visions that “the godless left” is at any moment going to haul them all away to concentration camps.

    1. I particularly like the last tweet. Evidently he’s dishonestly faking it and his sincere emotional outburst means he’s weak. At the same time!

  4. Sadly, I think the president’s tears were real and that shows how delusional he is in believing his super power ability to save lives. His whole irrational premise of he has to “something” is absurd and mystical. The first paragraph of this post starts with a popular conspiracy theory and then pretends that we are a pure democracy that should be dictated by a majority of citizens polled. The violence problem (to isolate gun violence only is weird and dishonest) is really about gun deaths and the majority are suicides. We are not blank slates and removing weapons from the non-mentally ill will not affect future violence. I also don’t think pouring guns into the hands of citizens in other nations with no 2nd amendment rights would start an epic scale blood bath. The U.S. is unique in that we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed and our elementary school solution is always to blanket strip rights from all citizens.

    1. Nobody is “stripping rights”, but rather this is an attempt to enforce the laws we already have, a position supported by the NRA, etc., right up until Obama actually wants to try it.

      I would love it if you and the others of your political persuasion would tender some concrete suggestions for stopping the violence (beyond arming everybody to the teeth) instead of just responding to any and every suggestion by saying, “That’ll never work”. L

    2. I don’t know where to start with this comment, so I’ll let readers address it. Is this the conspiracy theory?

      Given that gun control is largely in the hands of a Republican Congress subservient to the National Rifle Association, and adjudicated by an intensely conservative Supreme Court. .

      Nope, that’s the truth, not a conspiracy theory. Give me the respect of taking my claims seriously.

      As for democracy, yes, if 90% of Americans want unrestricted background checks, then their representatives should enact that. Or do you have some twisted argument for why we shouldn’t have background checks, and the Congress should ignore such a deep-seated feeling?

      As I’ve said, and everybody knows, there is a good argument that the Second Amendment was enacted to allow militias to form, not to give all private citizens the right to have a gun. Times have changed since the 1780s.

      And, as Linda said above, do YOU have any solution to stopping the violence? If so, is it “more guns”? Or do you just accept the violence as a byproduct of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment?

      Your solution, please. NOW.

      1. I don’t claim to have a solution but I’m against the state just doing “something.” Your view of the NRA and the supreme court is totally subjective. The extreme right would say just the opposite about the court. The erosion of rights is a serious issue and it’s not just centered around the 2nd amendment but involves all personal liberties.

        1. You don’t claim to have a solution, but you’re against doing something?

          Are you serious?

          See, this is where scientific ignorance is really dangerous. What’s wrong with trying “something” to see how it works? If it makes the bloodshed decrease, we’re on the right track; if not, try “something” else, and see how that works. That’s called experimentation.


          1. If it makes the bloodshed decrease, we’re on the right track; if not, try “something” else, and see how that works. That’s called experimentation.

            I can see the gun-nuts lining up to point at that and say “anti-gun people want to experiment on people, like the Nazis in the concentration camps.” Instant Godwin.

          2. Their strategy is a FAILED experiment. I’m not suggesting experimenting on people, I’m suggesting experimenting with strategies.

            Conservatism, but its very nature, is not creative. When confronted with a problem, especially a big one like the massacre of children, they have no ideas for fixing it. So, when others make suggestions, their only contribution is to sit there like a bunch of paralytic zombies and do nothing but criticize every idea that comes along.

            Sorry, not buying it. L

          3. To steal from a song, which is probably stolen from something else, “even if you don’t decide, you still have made a choice”.

          4. I actually had similar sentiments to Aidan when I read your initial comment. Yes, science is about experimenting (and to a large degree having those experiments fail), but I think in this case it is giving too much ground to the gun nuts. Proposals to reduce gun violence aren’t being pulled out of our nether regions; they’re backed by data from every country around the world. There is zero data anywhere to show that increased access to guns improves safety or mortality risk.

            I think your analogy to science is perfectly apt in that there are unknown variables in the United States, which will obviously yield different results than we see in other countries. But we aren’t just rolling the dice the hoping for the best. There is excellent reason to believe that stricter gun laws will save lives. The precise implementation and enforcement of these laws is where the real work lies.

        2. I don’t understand how you can say that arming the citizens of other Western nations wouldn’t result in a bloodbath. All the evidence says is that is exactly what would happen.

          All the things that the NRA and their toadies try to blame for gun deaths (movies, video games, lack of religion, liberalism, gangs, drugs, mental health etc.) are either the same or more prevalent in other Western countries. The only difference is the availability of guns. It’s time to admit that truth at least.

          As for Andrea Tantaros, she’s a stupid, nasty, bi*ch from way back. At the time of the Newton shootings she waxed lyrical about an angel-shaped cloud hovering over the town, which apparently proved to her that God had the children in his keeping. Her eyes shone with the joy of it. (It’s a pity her God didn’t prevent it happening in the first place. Still, it got more people into churches.) She also scoffs at those who are so stupid as to believe in evolution. Oh, and the men she admires most are Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. Her judgement isn’t reliable imo.

          1. In the hypothetical case that tomorrow morning the police arrive at the door with my state-issued gun and a document where I agree to carry it every time I leave my bed … I’d seriously debate whether to tell them to take me straight to jail (knowing that they don’t have room), or ask them to show me how to remove the firing pin (because I can weld up the barrel myself ; the conditions don’t require their weapon to remain in usable condition).
            I like to think that most of the population of non-American Western countries can see the harm that guns are causing to America, and would seriously and strenuously resist attempts to export the same harms to us. (There’s a similar point sitting in PCC(E)’s mailbox, but I’ll let him think on that.)

          2. Yeah. I’m completely non violent, and not in the least suicidal, but I can think of times when I was younger when I might have been tempted to use a gun either on myself or others. People act in impulse, especially when they are younger, and everyone would be far better off if something like a gun wasn’t available when a poor choice was made.

            There needs to be some kind of judgment test along with a gun licence, although perhaps for rather a lot of people it should go along the lines of, “If you want to own a gun, you don’t have the judgement to own a gun.”

            Lots of NZers actually do have guns, but they’re mostly rifles used for hunting or pest control on farms. Hand guns are just about non-existent outside gun clubs; semi-automatics are even rarer.

            I live in a country where every murder (whether or not a gun was used) and every accidental shooting (whether or not someone died) is still reported on the national TV news. I hope it stays like that. I don’t want to live somewhere where 2 year olds killing their parents, or a mother killing her daughter because she thought she was an intruder (as happened in Florida a few days ago) is seen as the price paid for gun rights.

          3. If the news outlets in the U.S. reported every gun death individually there wouldn’t be much time left for reporting anything else. Something like 30 per day.

          4. Ah, you live in the CIVILISED world. Don’t you just wish you were an American?

          5. Now, why was I thinking about NZ earlier … something I had to ask a Kiwi.
            It’ll come back to me.

          6. I’m right with you on that, Heather.

            We do have gun accidents and shootings here (in NZ), but as you say, every single one gets reported on the TV news. In fact our murder rate is about the same as UK’s

            which (in NZ) amounted to 41 in 2012 since our population is small.

            Umm, that was murders of all sorts. I think what I need is
            That includes accidents and suicides.

            Hmmm, our firearm-related rate is 1.07 per 100,000 and suicides vastly outnumber homicides. (UK’s is 0.23 – this presumably reflects the fact that a far higher % of UK population live in towns where firearms are hard to get hold of).

            There are a lot of rifles and shotguns around (almost all on farms) but handguns are extremely difficult to get a permit for. (I only know one person who owns handguns and he’s a collector. He has to jump through a number of legal hoops and has a big safe to keep them in, and I’m pretty certain he’s not allowed to carry them around outside his house unless they’ve been deactivated in some way).


          7. I would also presume that our higher rate is a result of the higher percentage of our population living in rural areas and having access to guns. Hunting is a more common pastime here too – the UK doesn’t have the huge areas available for hunting like we do.

        3. You guys are all the same with the same old song. I’m losing all my rights. Name one, a real one that you lost? Do you not have enough pockets to hold all your guns? Not enough semi-automatic weapons to walk down the street without crying and being scared? You just sing that same old tired song that has no meaning.

        4. What about the erosion of your right not to be shot to death?

          I find this talk of eroding rights quite amusing in a sick sort of way because, by and large, many people who advocate the right to bear arms are quite sketchy on separation of church and state.

          I say “sick” above because, of course there is nothing really amusing about the thousands of people who die in the USA every year for want of sensible gun control laws.

    3. The U.S. is unique in that we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed and our elementary school solution is always to blanket strip rights from all citizens.

      Really? We’re unique in that respect as opposed to all the other First World countries that have a large criminal class responsible for the crimes? Give me a break. Provide some evidence that our crimes are committed by a proportion of the population smaller than other countries. If you go by incarceration rates, that is manifestly untrue as we lock up people at a rate exceeding the rest of the world. I will acknowledge that a large percentage of those are locked up for ridiculous non-violent crimes thanks to our never ending war on drugs, but given that the violent criminals are also locked up, upon what are you basing your assertion that we have an uniquely small contingent of violent criminals?

      1. I don’t know what “a small criminal class” is in numbers, but I think it is generic.

        Earlier today I read an article on the repetitious crimes by a small part of violent persons in the swedish population, in our case ~ 1 %.

        [The opinion piece argued for a science based system of no rebate on multiple offences to keep the checks in place, rapid reaction, and social training for offenders such as Jerry suggests, et cetera.] The non-repetitive other offenders/first time offenders is much less mooted by those suggestions, but is also not such a large social and economical problem.]

        Seems to me the claim that this ‘class’ is unique to US is an extraordinary claim and need extraordinary evidence elaborating on exact numbers vs uniqueness. The discussion on reactions – increased public gun density helping the offenders vs increased state reaction blocking the offenders – is also interesting.

        1. The US incarceration industry housed 0.7% of the population in 2013.
          From the same Wikipedia article, the comparable figures for several other countries are :
          Germany 0.07 % (76 per 100,000 population as of 2014 ; some of the following figures are from 2015)
          Sweden is 0.060 %
          Italy 0.085 %
          Saudi Arabia 0.161 %
          Singapore 0.220 %
          Kazakhstan 0.275 %
          Russia 0.455 %
          How the prison population relates to the size of the “criminal class” is a separate question. How the prison population relates to the value of crime is another question – the monetary value of “white collar” crime probably vastly out weighs that of crimes that attract prison time.

      2. The U.S. is unique in that we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed

        Psssst…. I think he means the blacks. At least that’s the dog whistle I pick up in this statement.

        1. Don’t forget the spics!
          Damned Jews, going around being Jewish and not breaking the law often enough to be properly removed from society! I [the OP] blame all those damned Jewish lawyers for getting them off.

      3. thanks to our never ending war on drugs,

        NOT YET ended etc etc.
        Though cracks are showing, with several (3, ?) states legalising hash to various degrees.
        The profit margins of the incarceration industry are under threat, and push-back is expected.

    4. The U.S. is unique in that we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed and our elementary school solution is always to blanket strip rights from all citizens

      As far as I can tell, the President’s proposed actions are fully consistent with your beliefs.
      1. Having gun sellers perform background checks with all sales will only prevent criminals from getting guns, not normal citizens.
      2. Adding 200 ATF agents does not prevent any citizen from getting a gun, it only increases the nation’s ability to investigate crimes.
      3. Adding 230 FBI agents to make background checking more rapid does not reduce anyone’s legal ability to get a gun – it will, in fact, make background checking faster, improving access for people who can legally own firearms.
      4. Spending an extra $4 million on tracking illegal gun flow does not strip anyone’s rights to own a legal gun, because you never had a right to buy a stolen or hot weapon in the first place.
      5. Spending $500 million to improve mental health services does not strip anyone’s right to own guns.
      6. Lastly, directing DoJ, DHS, and others to perform R&D on safe gun technologies also has no impact on your ability to own a gun.

      Please tell me, Carl, how your 2nd amendment rights are being infringed by any of those 6 specific Presidential actions. If you think the problem is a ‘criminal class,’ then you should support these measures, as #s 1-4 are specifically designed to reduce criminal access to guns.

        1. What equipment they carry on the job has little/nothing to do with their second amendment rights as private citizens. If they have to carry what they consider substandard equipment on the job, they can just buy a non-smart gun for themselves for after hours.

          What’s more, departmental directive to perform R&D on X /= coercion of public to use X. This is like complaining the federal research into internet communication technologies is infringing on the right to a free press.

      1. I don’t think the president’s order is radically stripping our rights but it is so symbolic and insulting. Regardless of your feelings on this subject, this was a bone-head method of showing how much he ‘cares.’ So juvenile. I can’t point to any elected official or unelected bureaucrat or cabinet member that is knowledgable or intelligent enough to grapple with this issue. That is the sad state of our joke government. I would rather hear constructive ideas on the problem from Steven Pinker than any of the current circus performers in government.

        1. Please tell me what is insulting about any of those 6 points. For instance, how is the USG spending an extra $500 million to provide mental health care insulting you or treating you like a juvenile?

    5. The comment breaks down.

      “The violence problem (to isolate gun violence only is weird and dishonest) is really about gun deaths and the majority are suicides. We are not blank slates and removing weapons from the non-mentally ill will not affect future violence.”

      stands against

      “I also don’t think pouring guns into the hands of citizens in other nations with no 2nd amendment rights would start an epic scale blood bath. The U.S. is unique in that we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed and our elementary school solution is always to blanket strip rights from all citizens.”

      Even if it would make sense to ‘pour guns’ into other nations despite that longitudinal studies have revealed the causation (guns cause deaths), you remove the gun idolizers best weapon when put a putative majority of suicides against “an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed”. If so, the latter isn’t a large problem and you have no reason to ask for weaponizing the public.

      In civilized nations people don’t think removing guns from the public would strip any rights, because the duties of protecting the public devolves onto the state and it is the state that has the legal monopoly on (protective) violence. The protective service the state provides (which can be complemented by certified security businesses) doesn’t revolve around *g*u*n*s*, but around what is most effective to solve the “violence problem”. Sometimes it is a hug, something gun owners seem to need a lot more of after their safety blanket has been taken away by responsible adults. [ http://nypost.com/2015/12/29/nypd-hero-cop-saves-suicidal-man-with-a-holiday-hug/ ]

    6. The NRA’s elementary school solution is to put guns into elementary schools. Fear and distrust is what the presence of guns do in public.

      Regulations are to protect gun owners from their own human error; they are not to protect the non-gun owners, who would rather, ideally, there be no guns.

      1. The NRA’s elementary school solution is to put guns into elementary schools.

        Have Colt & Wesson and the other gun companies started marketing weapons with suitably small (and easy-to-pull) triggers and light weight so that toddlers hands will fit properly into them and they can work properly on their aim, firing stance etc?
        There are standards in place for firing accuracy? “I’m sorry, Johnny, but because you only got two chest shots and a headshot on your firing exam, you’re going to have to stay back at school for a year until you can pass your NRA-mandated gun test.

          1. I refer the honourable gentleman to the grenade launcher I posted a short while ago.

          2. I foresee a kindergarten arms race…

            “But Mummy, Johnnie has an AK47, and his mummy and daddy bought him a bazooka as well. Why can’t I have one too? It’s not fair!”

    7. Whenever my right-wing relatives say something like, “we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime”, they mean black people and/or illegal immigrants.

      Just to avoid misunderstanding, is that what you mean?

      1. Based on the National Review article posted on thread #12, your suspicions seem to have some credence. I too would like to know if this is what Carl means, though the fact that African Americans commit crimes at a higher per capita rate really has nothing to do with where more guns are linked to higher crimes or that this is a “class problem” that is caused because they are black. I do think there is probably some credence to the idea that our homicide rates would not fall to European levels if we had similar gun control measures, but I don’t see any credence to the idea that the rates won’t fall, or that the National Review’s argument that the majority of gun deaths are via suicide has anything to do with the issue either. We shouldn’t aim to reduce suicide? Societies with stricter gun control measures also have lower suicide rates, which experts hypothesize is partially because the number of impulse suicides is lower. It’s hard to undo a bullet to the brain in a moment of unclear thinking.

        As for the studies cited in that National Review article, I’ll respond directly to that thread.

        1. When the UK changed over from coal gas (10% carbon monoxide) to natural gas for household use, the suicide rate dropped by about one third. How odd, the removal of an easy means of committing suicide decreased the number of instances. One might almost think that a decrease in the availability of devices for killing might similarly reduce the incidence of people killing themselves (or others).

    8. Your statement saying American guns pouring into other countries won’t start a bloodbath: Where do you think all the firearms come from in Mexico, one of the few countries with a much worse homicide rate than the US? Where do you think your own criminals are getting guns from?

      The NRA tells Americans they need guns to protect themselves from these drug cartels and gangs, but those same drug cartels and gangs get their guns from illegal suppliers of firearms in the USA, and it’s the NRA who is allowing the sales of guns to those criminals. The same criminals that you state are “a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime”. Which I don’t believe. US prisons have plenty of first time offenders who shot someone to death.


      Illegal guns go to criminals by definition.
      Buying a smuggled gun makes the person a criminal.

      You are on one hand stating you have a problem with a small number of bad criminals, but on the other excusing criminals in your own country that are selling illegal firearms to criminals in ours.

      Other countries don’t want your guns and your gun problem, and you don’t have a right to be a criminal.

      As for Obama not being able to reduce gun deaths, you may be right, but neither you nor anyone else knows for sure since you have no idea who those guns are being sold to, or where they are going. “Those guns” being firearms sold without benefit of a background check. You say it’s just a small number of criminals, but the US has the largest prison population in the world, a homicide and shooting rate far and above other comparable countries, unless you compare yourself to a third world country, or one beset by drug cartels which are being armed by American gun runners.

      You complain about loss of rights, but you have failed to state what right you are losing through any of Obama’s decisions on firearms.

      There are many common sense regulations that could significantly impact the US firearm death rate. One of the simplest would be requiring firearm owners to secure their firearms around children. Yet many states not only won’t do this, but refuse to charge irresponsible firearm owners who allow their firearms to fall into the hands of children resulting in a firearm death. Many of those children are as young as 2 years old when they shoot themselves, their siblings, friends and others.

      In the US only 25% of legal firearm owners are charged after these easily preventable deaths.

      Easily preventable deaths, many of them very young children.

      We know they are easily preventable because the USA is pretty much the only country where toddlers regularly shoot other people. The vast majority of other first world countries have laws requiring firearms be secured when not supervised.

      There are reasons why so many other countries have so many fewer gun deaths. That is just one of them.

      Rights come with responsibilities. They do not exist in a vacuum.

        1. On the 12th day of Christmas my true love brought to me
          12 gunners gunning
          11 snipers sniping
          10 men a-shooting

    9. We currently have a problem with violent crime being committed by minors and schizophrenics who find it too easy to get a hold of powerful weapons.

      Saying minors cannot buy guns without parental knowledge and consent and schizophrenics can’t buy them is hardly a “blanket” stripping of rights.

    10. I think the president’s tears were real and that shows how delusional he is in believing his super power ability to save lives.

      Pres. Obama may have some delusions; but believing he has super powers isn’t one of them. Presidents do have the ability to help prevent deaths. (E.g. by getting our soldiers, airmen, etc. out of Iraq, etc., for one.)

      You are throwing around a lot of generalizations. How does applying background checks to more gun transactions not help prevent gun deaths?

      Is your position (as seems to be that of the NRA) that there should be no restrictions whatsoever on weapons purchases in the US?

      If so, how is that an improvement on anything?

      His whole irrational premise of he has to “something” is absurd and mystical.

      There’s a serious problem with gun violence in the US. (We are off the charts compared with other western nations.)

      It’s absurd and mystical to try and address this problem? How so? Doing nothing is an approach more likely to result in its solution? Exactly how?

      Is that always your answer to any problem in your life? Ignore it an it will go away: Do nothing?

      The first paragraph of this post starts with a popular conspiracy theory and then pretends that we are a pure democracy that should be dictated by a majority of citizens polled.

      Given recent history in the US, Jerry’s characterization of the situation seems pretty accurate. Do you have any specific points to make there? If so, make them.

      The violence problem (to isolate gun violence only is weird and dishonest) is really about gun deaths and the majority are suicides.

      Guns are the easiest and most efficient (cost, size, energy) way to kill people. Indeed, why would anyone want to focus on that? (/sarcasm)

      There were 13,900 murders by gun in the US in 2010. Approximately 57% of US suicides involve guns. That is approximately 21,000 in 2010. (US overall suicide rates are lower than many other developed nations.) However, guns are much more likely to result in a “successful” suicide than any other method except hanging. Keeping them out of the hands of the mentally disturbed may well save some from suicide.

      Of course it’s hard to know for sure on these things — since the GOP has blocked all research by publicly funded agencies and entities on the effects of gun violence. Best to just be ignorant, right?

      We are not blank slates and removing weapons from the non-mentally ill will not affect future violence.

      Really? Performing background checks and stopping sales to the mentally will have no effect on their future violent behavior? How is that exactly?

      I also don’t think pouring guns into the hands of citizens in other nations with no 2nd amendment rights would start an epic scale blood bath.


      The U.S. is unique in that we have a small criminal class that is responsible for an overwhelming percentage of all violent crime being committed

      Never been outside the US? The “criminal class” is small in virtually all societies.

      and our elementary school solution is always to blanket strip rights from all citizens.

      Ensuring that background checks are performed prior to gun sales strips no one’s rights. Period. Law abiding citizens will still be able to buy guns.

      Are you proposing that guns should be supplied to all comers under all circumstances, with no restrictions of any sort? Well, that would certainly cure our violence problems!

    11. “…His whole irrational premise of he has to [do] “something” is absurd and mystical.”

      His whole irrational premise that he needs to respond to some 90% of the American people who’re demanding action is absurd? And WTH is “mystical” about it at all?

      Your hatred of Obama is overwhelming your ability to think and perceive rationally.

  5. Pres. Obama’s detractors, particularly those who accuse him of shedding crocodile tears, conveniently overlook the fact that his emotions are heightened by his difficult, agonizing, face-to-face meetings meetings with relatives of those who have been killed/wounded in horrific massacres by gun. Go ahead, PCCE, the gun nuts, particulary those bearing political stripes, deserve every expletive in your vocabulary. Or, better yet, invoke Thoms. Jefferson’s policy: “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.”

  6. Obama does care greatly about the issue, but I do think the tears were likely calculated. Doesn’t mean the grief isn’t genuine.

    1. I’m just curious: do you think he had a “cry here” notation in his speech? Why do you think they were calculated, especially given that he also wept when he heard Aretha Franklin sing “Natural woman.”

      1. I just think that a grown man who has been speaking to audiences of millions for many years could control his display of emotion if he wanted to. Obama seems to be above average in his self-control.

          1. Are you implying that “grown men” don’t cry…like “big girls”. Fox news accused the president of faking it for effect, which I anticipated them doing. There are all levels of cynicism, I suppose, but I find it very unuseful to look at the world as suspiciously as you seem to do.

          2. “Are you implying that “grown men” don’t cry”

            In general, no. Boys are trained to not cry.

            Cynicism, definition: The power of accurate observation by those who haven’t got it.

          3. I’m a 68 year well-educated man living a relatively stress-free life, and I find myself moved to tears frequently. Just one person, I know, not data, but a vote on the issue might surprise you.

          4. I’m guessing Scott would say you were coddled during your first 6 months of life. A lot of silly and sentimental things make me cry, but I’m old now too. Maybe Scott will forgive us.

        1. He is very controlled and measured, true, but this really seemed genuine. Only a skilled actor could pull off a fake tearing as genuine in appearance as that, and what would be the point? There not a lot to gain and there is clearly something to lose since a president doing this is very unusual and ‘unpresidential’.
          I teach classes, and there is a particular bit in my introductory biology lecture where I gotta really be careful b/c after 10 years it can still choke me up. So it can happen even with experience.

          1. “pull off a fake tearing as genuine”

            I didn’t say the tears were fake, but calculated.

        2. Mr. Draper: consider the people who were standing to the president’s right–the parents of the young female victim shot near the Obama home in Kenwwood, Chicago, late in 2013. The president had met with them privately at the time of the tragedy; he now met them privately and on camera again. Why wouldn’t he cry? For that matter, ‘above average in self-control’ is hardly a virtue when it comes to empathy and caritas. President Obama handsomely demonstrated the humanity I would hope for in both my next door neighbor and the President of the United States of America.

          1. “For that matter, ‘above average in self-control’ is hardly a virtue when it comes to empathy”

            They are unconnected. You can feel empathy without wallowing in emotion.

          2. Being unsuccessful at stifling a few tears is hardly “wallowing in emotion.” Are you a parent, Scott?

          3. Seriously, Obama was “wallowing in emotion”? I don’t think any objective observer who didn’t already dislike Obama would characterize his talk that way. He was sincere, controlled, and had a few moments of tearing up.

          4. I didn’t say that Obama was wallowing in emotion. Remember, I said his tears were “calculated”, which is the opposite of that.

            I voted for Obama twice, and I’m glad I did, considering his opposition, so I don’t have a bias against him.

        3. I do not generally respect Obama (i.e., lack of secular declaration), but his empathy appears sincere. And when grown men cry, almost unanimously, my respect for them goes up.

          1. “And when grown men cry, almost unanimously, my respect for them goes up.”

            My respect goes down, way down, if this is a man or woman whose job it is to be strong. If my doctor started blubbering on my shoulder because he had to deliver bad news to me, I want a new doctor, someone with more self control.

            People seem to expect the President to be an emotional surrogate, rather than a professional hired to get a job done.

          2. One of the superiors of Fukushima told a story of the efforts of his people and one of his comrades (equal in rank) to go into an obviously hazardous situation to help mitigate the exposure to the people of Japan.

            He cried when he told the story. There is a man who is in charge of hundreds of people and was aware that his organization could have done better.

            A grown man crying. Clearly I am wrong to think he deserves respect.

          3. This really is infantile stuff, Scott. The tears are on the one hand calculated, you say, and now you suggest that Obama lacks self-control and therefore, in accordance with your subscription to the pitiful cult of what constitutes a proper man and being ‘strong’ in the US, he is weak. Well, which is it? If the tears are calculated then they are a consequence of self-control.

          4. You are ducking Tim’s question which seems a perfectly reasonable one to pose in the light of the apparent contradictions in your comments above.

    2. I am distracted to tears.

      FWIW on general tear conspiracies, not only are tears associated with grief but wiping your eyes is associated with tears. Simplest explanation is “no conspiracy”.

      1. Maybe he slashed his cheeks with Occam’s Razor. And (as has been proclaimed ever since he entered politics), he’s not a “red blooded American” but is actually a two-headed alien lizard monster with ichor where he should have blood.
        I’m getting back into my conspiracy theorist mindset.

      1. What you can or cannot do doesn’t have any bearing on what a professional politician can do. A speech is performance art.

        1. I do not see the evidence supporting your opinion. Even a president is a human being, not a coldly calculating and cynical robot. Although a simplification, a democrat in particular is more likely to be motivated by empathy for others.

          1. Hang on … didn’t Raygun Reagan do a bit of public blubbering from time to time? But he was a professional actor, so that must have been genuine emotion, not a calculated ploy?

        2. Where do you go Scott to get this “don’t cry” training. Is it available to all or just boys. Some how I did not get this training. Just maybe, Obama did not get it either.

          Does anything in this conversation make any sense? If we could kill more people with guns, then can we cry Scott? What number would be appropriate?

          1. Both my wife and I are performers, in different genres, and when you know something about performance, it is very easy to see when someone’s head is filled with ignorant cliches about what performers do.

  7. How about a Bernie Sanders style ban on political contributions? That would help to insulate congress from pressure from private interests and allow them to vote based on their best judgement of the merits of legislation.
    If everyone just sends me $20 I’ll buy us enough votes to end vote-buying for good.

    1. Not a bad idea but special interests with deep pockets will still find a way to influence politicians by influencing voters.

  8. “Mental health records should be made part of background checks”

    How does this work, exactly? If I see a private shrink, how would anyone know unless I tell them?

    1. Why mental health checks? Is someone who buys assault weapons to play with not a nutcase? What would you call people who play with guillotines, and decapitate rabbits or cats, and get a kick out of it like people who get a kick out of shooting wolves. Society should not accept these kind of people.

      1. No. I have a few close friends who have automatic weapons. They are actually very likeable and generous, but they do have this feature that you & I do not agree with. They have them out of an idea that they need to protect their home and family. One just likes to use them on a gun range b/c it is a lot of fun.

        1. A lot of fun? Have you ever served in an army, as we had to here, doing military service. You get to detest these killing machines, and think every time of what happens if your bullet goes through someone’s head instead of a cardboard target.

          1. I have never fired an automatic weapon, but I have used other guns for target shootin’, and they are fun. According to those who have fired autos at rifle ranges (one invited me to try it once), using one is quite a rush. Not my cup of tea, but clearly plenty of people think differently.

        2. Your friends have automatic weapons that they use at gun ranges? That is very unusual. Automatic weapons, while not strictly illegal, are highly regulated.

          1. At least where I live in Minnesota, they aren’t particularly uncommon. And they are used at local ranges. I’ve never fired one (or even held one); but if offered the chance (on a range) I would do so.

          2. Well, what about darts? You need much more of an IQ to aim a dart at a target than aiming a gun, which is just dumb pointing. How boring. And you can have a beer and laugh and have fun in a pub! What about a NDA to replace this miserable NRA bunch?

    2. If you walk into an office and pay with cash, there may not be any permanent record. But I’m guessing most people treat psychological care similarly to the way they treat any other medical or dental care: they use their insurance/health care provider. If so, that provider will keep track of every specialist that has billed them for your treatment. That doesn’t mean they can access sensitive medical data such as your diagnosis, but it does mean the provider has your metadata such as who you saw, when, how often, and so on.

    3. Teachers and Coaches, at some level, have background checks. They are done privately. Once the background check is approved, the employer certification organization is notified. All private.

      Likewise, defense industry has similar capabilities. No one has to know your dirty little secrets, only that you the risks you hold towards others are considered reasonable.

    4. This is a valid question. I wouldn’t be for invading patient privacy. I’m pretty sure that there are no new mechanisms for prying into mental health consultations in this proposal, though. That would be much bigger news. So I assume that they must mean publicly known mental health information. Such things do become public record as, for example, when someone is committed, or when they are entangled with the law in various ways. If someone looses their children in a court proceeding, for example, because of a finding of dangerous mental instability, that is a matter of public record.

      In any case, my understanding is that whatever is currently being done will just be extended to those people who are currently dodging the general law by finding loopholes, loopholes that defy the intent of the original law and the will of virtually everyone. Except pathological other-party haters who would vote against feeding themselves if the other party was for it.

      1. Yes your last paragraph is my understanding too. Obama proposes that the background checks currently being done at federally registered gun shops be done at other gun shops too. If you don’t see this system as reducing your rights at federally approved gun shops, how could the same system be seen as reducing your rights when applied to other sellers?

        But what really gets me is that Obama is also proposing the fed hire more people and spend more money so these checks go faster/more efficiently…and the right wing is opposed to this. FFS why? I would think reducing the background check time and improving its accuracy would be exactly the sort of thing they would want.

    5. This question does pick out the one main issue I see with the proposals. However, I come down on public safety above personal privacy in this case. If someone is trying to buy a gun, it should be OK to see if they are a person who society thinks ought to be owning one (with regard to criminality and mental stability).

      1. “However, I come down on public safety above personal privacy in this case. ”

        I’m not concerned about personal privacy. I’m interested from a purely practical aspect how this is done. There must be tens of thousands of psychiatrists in this country and, as far as I know, they don’t forward their records to any central repository.

    6. What point is there in paying to see a private shrink instead of a public shrink (who you’ve already paid for through your taxes), except to pay the shrink to give you a license to go and buy a gun?
      Reminds me of Corp.Nobbs of the Ankh Morpork Guard, who was definitely human because he carried a bit of paper saying so.

        1. Reminds me of having to get certificates from doctors that the only reason I requested an AIDS test was for a visa application. Still caused trouble with the insurance company.

          1. Bloody paranoid insurance companies.

            I went to buy travel insurance a while back, which usually includes medical-expenses cover, and of course they ask ‘Have you ever had any heart-lung related conditions?’ Well I had a valve repaired a few years back. All tests since show it’s working perfectly and my consultant reckons it should outlast the rest of me. In fact I’m probably a better bet than the ‘average’ guy of my age who hasn’t been thoroughly checked out by a specialist.

            But after I went to all the trouble of finding my specialist’s last report (clean bill of health) and sending them a copy, they quoted me a premium of over double the basic rate. (This for *travel* insurance that includes lost luggage and accidents, all that crap). Fuck ’em. They’re on my permanent blacklist now. I went with another company who just let me exclude heart conditions from the cover.


          2. There are plenty of brokers who specialise in finding insurance for people with non-standard health circumstances.
            I think the insurance industry is slowly getting the message and schisming into “plain vanilla” insurance (who will ask a “laughing price” for anyone who isn’t “plain vanilla”) and “we read your application” insurance, which costs more, but may actually be related to your personal circumstance.

          3. My gripe is that, having had the op, my statistical chances of a recurrence – or of any other cardiovascular (that was the word I was looking for!) event – are no different from anyone else of my age and condition. I’m probably *better* than the fairly large % of the population who are slightly overweight but who don’t have to declare a ‘pre-existing condition’.

            I do agree about the ‘plain vanilla’ insurers, though I suspect maybe 10% of their customers genuinely have nothing to declare. The other 90% just have convenient selective amnesia.

            As it was I decided to carry that particular risk myself. It was the other travel risks – accident, lost luggage, cancellations etc – that I was primarily insuring against.


        1. Good grief? Why on earth not? Isn’t the health of the general population a matter of concern to your politicians or people?

          1. Are you kidding? This is the US. Of course not.

            Private insurance might pay for the services of private shrinks. I don’t know if ObamaCare has this sort of coverage mandatory. Medicate can sometimes pay for some of the costs.

            If you don’t have insurance, I’m not sure that you have any options.

          2. So hang on. No one in your government or people has done a cost-benefit analysis on health care? Wow, you really do need to get a better government.
            I take it the family of the Dallas Ebola case are being sued to pay for his health care.

  9. I have had my frustrations over Obama, but I give him high marks for this one. The measures are very carefully structured to survive legal challenges, I think, and they will make some difference although unfortunately we will never know of gun deaths that do not happen.
    I only wish he could do more. A lot more. But I know reality.

    1. Guns are terrorizing and keeping US captive. Moreover the victims are blamed for the violence.

      I wonder when US will get its Gandhi?

    2. I give him only median marks for this. He’s doing it so late in his presidency that these measures will have no ‘street’ impact before he leaves office; it really will be up to his successor to make these actions effective. If the GOP candidate wins, these measures will be canned before any new ATF or FBI agent finishes training, before ATF and HHS have spent their grant money, and before DoJ or DHS has produced any new R&D.

      I am not pooh-poohing his measures as useless; I think they are things that are good to start. However whether his proposals actually do anything to reduce gun deaths will really depend on who we elect as president next and whether they continue these policies.

      1. These are good rebuttals, I think. I do not know why he waited so long, but maybe it was b/c he was holding out hope to work with congress. Obama must be conscious that his executive actions incur a political cost not just for him and his future to work later with congress, but also for democratic candidates that are associated with him. So maybe he was holding out in forlorn hope.
        I am trying to explain the hard to explain, and that is my guess.

        1. I do not know why he waited so long…

          Priorities, priorities. The guy pushed through v1 of a national health care system, appointed two fairly liberal Supreme Court justices, and managed/ended a war handed to him by his predecessor. In the second term he pushed through pro-gay rights and pro-SSM legislation, negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran, and opened up relations with Cuba. Gun control is coming late, which is a shame. Given my druthers, I might have reordered that list a bit differently with gun control maybe ahead of Cuba (thus the partial points). However, for a Democratic president that’s still a pretty good list.

          1. Obama:

            Got us out of 2 disastrous wars that were bankrupting the nation.

            Presided over righting the economic ship after Dubya and his cronies drove it into the worst ditch since 1929.

            Passed v1 of national health care

            Appointed good SCOTUS justices

            (Didn’t wipe has ass on the constitution like Dubya did)

            Helped influence towards more rights for gay citizens. (First sitting president to come out in favor of CUs and then SSM.)

            Acted intelligent and presidential (was, in fact), in contrast to his predecessor. Made the US presentable on the international stage again.

            Did more for diversity in the executive branch than pretty well anyone before him. (And I did not like some of his picks.)

            Obama will go down in history as a good, strong president, regardless of the melanin concentration in his skin.

            As for Dubya, you can pretty well invert everything above. A disaster. (Oh yeah, he pressed hard for financial relief for Paris Hilton, et al., and he tried to scupper Social Security. Great record!)

  10. I couldn’t care less whether Obama’s tears were real or not. The right wing’s focus on this is a mere distraction from the real issue — a modest change to our insane gun policies in the United States. If what Obama did should save just a few lives, then it was worth it.

    The right’s obsession with guns needs to be understood in a larger context. The activist base of the Republican party is composed of the old, the white working class and non-college graduates. As a demographic group they are continuously shrinking.They see a country that in their eyes is changing for the worst — economically and morally. For the past four decades their economic condition has deteriorated and scapegoats need to be identified — the government (meaning Obama), immigrants, and the undeserving (whomever they may be). They are authoritarian in nature and look for the strong man on the white horse to rescue them. Trump is their perfect candidate, although Ted Cruz also claims to ride a white horse. Their guns provide them with some degree of psychological security (based on pure fantasy) that they have a means to fight back against government tyranny or terrorism when the time comes that armed resistance is called for. I would not be surprised to find out that most of them have sympathy with the insurrectionists in Oregon.

    In today’s New York Times, Tom Edsall has published an enlightening column on the Trump appeal.


    1. the undeserving (whomever they may be)

      I got a first hand look at this over the holidays. My step-father and his wife were touting the virtues of Trump (mainly that he’s a billionaire and so not beholding to anyone) and the abominations of Obamacare. Rather than argue with them, I took the chance to ask some questions and the answers surprised me. They are both retired. I asked them what they thought of Medicare, do they like it, does it work, is it horrible? I expected to hear complaining but I didn’t. They both like Medicare. So I asked them what they thought about providing Medicare to more people, or to everyone? I expected them to HATE this idea, because Republican orthodoxy is to hate this idea above all other hatable ideas. To my surprise they said, with hardly a pause, “That might not be a bad idea”. Then a short pause, “So long as they deserve it.” Well, I was very surprised at this. It took me a moment to collect myself, then I asked, “Who deserves it?”. “Anyone who works for it”, was the answer. I didn’t get to probe more because other family arrived and interrupted us.

      It was mind spinning at first because they railed against the evils of Obamacare, yet rather casually accepted the idea of Medicare for everyone who contributes to it. At core, their beef with Obamacare, other than that it has the name Obama on it, is their unshakable belief that Obamacare is about giving away free healthcare to people who don’t work for it (or are not even citizens) and so don’t deserve it. That’s it. They don’t care that it’s a Big Government Program, less so that it’s a step towards the dreaded Medicare-for-all single payer system, only that they feel it is handing out goodies to the undeserving. While they are straight GOP voters they do not hesitate to casually throw the GOP’s most sacred cow, that all non-military expansion of government is evil, right out the window. They are happy to expand the government without bound to help people they consider “deserving”, but are willing to burn it to the ground to keep those who aren’t deserving from raiding the coffers. The break between the Trump wing of the GOP and the Grover Norquist GOP couldn’t have been starker to me than when talking to these relatives.

      1. Gluonspring, thanks for your comment. You have provided insight into the minds of people who unwittingly play into the hands of those who foster the politics of resentment. The business interests love people such as your step-father and his wife. I wonder if they would support kicking out of Medicare people who they would deem “undeserving” prior to becoming eligible for it.

        1. “The business interests love people such as your step-father and his wife.”

          They may love them historically, as patsies for business interests, but those business interests may yet come to rue them. They may have been patsies, but they are not unaware that they have been played. Their candidate, Trump, is well on his way to destroying the old business dominated GOP. If he secures the nomination, that wing of the GOP will be wounded for decades. If he wins the presidency, it may never recover.

      2. I had a similar conversation with my dad over the holidays. He doesn’t like Bernie Sanders because “socialism doesn’t work.” Next year, he and my mom will be comfortable retirees, my mom with two pensions from having been a public school teacher and both she and my father with social security benefits…

      3. Gluon this is not so surprising. My understanding is that when a poll asks about a policy in a party-neutral manner or separated from party politics, the majority of Americans favor democratic/liberal policies such as increasing access to heathcare, abortion rights for women, and so on. As a nation, we appear to like conservative leaders even while not necessarily liking conservative policies.

        1. In my very rare moments of fantastical optimism, when I am sure I can see the fairies outside my window, I dare to imagine that Trump, vile as he is, might actually be someone who could thread that needle. He supported medicare for all in the past. I have no reason to suppose he was being insincere, or that he has *really* changed his mind (or that he has given it two seconds real thought either). I can almost imagine a Trump president, with the talent to say any unorthodox thing and get away with it, managing to fulfill his promise to abolish Obamacare by ushering in a new age of Medicare-for-all… “A proven system that pays out only to the deserving!” And a congress of stunned democrats and cowed republicans might actually pass it.

          As I say, this is when I’m believing in fairies and unicorns, but still… the needle is there to be threaded, and it won’t be threaded by Hillary or Cruz… If happens in my lifetime, it will take a different kind of actor cut from some bizarre cloth.

          1. To be clear… I wouldn’t vote for the guy based on this fantasy vision… I just hold it out as a vague hope that, if lots of other people vote him into office that maybe it won’t be as bad as we imagine, that there are ways in which it could be a weird kind of improvement. This might just be self-therapy to stave off despair, but I think there is a grain of truth to it.

      4. This is not unusual. The have-nots who would like to imagine they are of a higher social status and therefore vote for the right wing because they are the party of the successful.

        (In NZ:) My father (who lived in a local council pensioners’ flat at nominal rent and was totally dependent on the government pension), infallibly voted right-wing and regularly complained about ‘welfare beneficiaries’ and the unemployed. It was not wise to point out that he was 100% on welfare himself.


      5. Great comment. A big part of the problem is the Republicans’ penchant for demonizing Obama (next time it’ll be Hillary), as well as glorifying rugged individualism and the use of guns.

  11. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I think. I will just add this: The terrorists in Oregon reveal the gross lie behind the notion of “well-ordered militia.”

    1. I am sure there are many articles on the issue, and that they are an excellent way to attempt a distraction when you are out of useful arguments.

      So let me ask you, Jerry’s article is a sober enough look at the issue, can you point out where it’s off track?

    2. The claims of a lack of correlation seem dubious. Did the journalists apply rigorous methods or did they simply look at a scatter plot and decide it doesn’t look linear? We don’t know, because the article doesn’t link us to the original sources.

      Here is one of the most robust studies I know of, peer-reviewed and analyzing data at both a global level and on a state vs. state basis: http://www.sascv.org/ijcjs/pdfs/Lemieuxijcjs2014vol9issue1.pdf

      Here’s a very telling excerpt from the discussion and conclusion section, but reading the whole document is well worth the time in my opinion:

      “This research has demonstrated throughout a series of analyses at the international and national levels, which shows that the best predictor of death by firearms is the possession of guns (gun ownership). In other words, gun access predicts death by guns; further, this result is trans-culturally consistent, meaning that this finding is true amongst 25 advanced democracies and 50 states in the United States regardless of the cultural background. As to the culture of violence and death by guns relationship claim, this is mainly invalidated at the international level but partially validated in the Southern region of United States by the murders by firearms rates. Also there is no connection between gun culture – or the absence of thereof – and the occurrence of mass shooting.

      However, in the United States, the gun culture prevailing in the Southern region of the United States is associated with and predicts the rate of murders by firearms. On the other hand, both international and national multivariate analyses show that gun control legislation reduces overall fatalities related to firearms. This correlation is true for Canada and Australia, which adopted and maintained stricter gun control laws. The same finding is also true for the United States as it relates more directly to mass shootings. During the 10-year-long ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, total mass shootings, total victims and total injuries and fatalities were substantially lower than during the 10- year periods that preceded and succeeded the gun ban.

      Thus, in terms of the implications for gun policy and regulation, a certain number of considerations can be drawn from these results. First, there is absolutely no evidence that
      more armed guards or armed citizens reduced or stopped any of the 73 mass shootings.”

      1. This study concludes that “that the best predictor of death by firearms is the possession of guns”. But I thought the article Carl pointed to made a good case for looking at homicide rates rather than at gun deaths – it’s the fact that people die that matters, not the type of murder weapon.

        Like you, I also think the author’s data should be checked. But if it turns out that the data is fine, and there is indeed no correlation between state gun ownership levels and murder rates, or between state gun laws and murder rates, while there’s a strong correlation between gun homicide and non-gun homicide, then getting rid of guns might not accomplish much.

        1. I don’t think the article Carl posted made a good case for that at all when it comes to the premise that gun control doesn’t reduce overall homicide. It would need to show that overall murder rates rise when gun control measures are incorporated. It didn’t even attempt to make that case. Instead it talked about murder rates being lower in white areas of America and dismissed suicide by gun as being irrelevant. The NRA, on the other hand, consistently proposes that more guns make us safer and the studies show that is unambiguously false.

          As I originally said, the article does give good reasons to believe that murder rates overall would still be higher than Europe because of our past and continuing racial oppression. There are obviously other factors at play too, a big one being religion, as has been discussed at length on this site. But there’s no data anywhere demonstrating that when isolated from other variables, more guns means more safety.

          1. My point was that what was concluded by the study you mentioned is something the article’s author conceded from the beginning.

            And no, I don’t think that to show that gun control doesn’t reduce overall homicide one needs to show that overall murder rates rise when gun control measures are incorporated. One just needs to show that they don’t fall, which the article’s author says is what happened in Australia and the UK.

            Or he can show that there is no correlation between gun ownership(what gun control measures restrict) and homicide rates, which he did too -supposing his data is correct.

            I completely agree with your second paragraph.

          2. One just needs to show that they don’t fall, which the article’s author says is what happened in Australia and the UK.

            I’m willing to exchange my “greater than” for your “not less than or equal to.” The article asserts they didnt fall, but that is false:



          3. Thanks for sending the links.

            I was sloppy in summarizing what the article said about Australian gun control program. What it says exactly is that “the analysis of the program most often cited by liberals (from Australian economists Andrew Leigh and Christine Neill) is inconclusive as to its effect on firearm homicides, to say nothing of total homicides — and the basic homicide trend lines provided by the Australian government certainly don’t reveal anything obvious. Similarly, in the U.K., the homicide rate actually rose shortly after the country enacted stricter gun controls, though it has since come back down.”

            I quickly checked all the assertions in that paragraph and can’t say that he’s obviously wrong on any.

            I grant you that the links you send make a good case for it being likely that the restrictions had a modest impact on overall homicide rates in Australia.

            This is likely a terribly naive way of looking at it, but the Wikipedia page on country homicide rates (link at bottom) shows that after the 1996 gun restrictions the Australian homicide rate went up for a few years, and then went down so that in 2003 it was back at the 1996 level. After 2003 it has continued to go further down.

            In England+Wales (see “United Kingdom” for the 2000’s) the homicide rate goes up a lot in the five years following the 1997 gun restrictions, and then goes slowly down until in 2010 it’s at the same level of 1997. It’s a bit lower after that.

            The positive effect of the two gun control’s isn’t obvious in these numbers. But, like I said, maybe this simple approach doesn’t take into account many important considerations.


          4. I forgot to say in my last reply that, yes, I agree the author conceded the point from the beginning, but this too is dubious, as the article neglects to mention why outlets such as Mother Jones post articles about firearm deaths. It’s because the gun lobby and the NRA continuously assert that more guns reduces death by gun. If this author is willing to concede that fine, but to demonstrate that it is a risk to have stricter gun control laws, we need some evidence that this is the case. The Harvard study I posted (and there are many more on their site) does find statistically significant causation. The best one can argue is that there’s a small chance homicides dropped for other reasons, but there’s no evidence anywhere justifying the paranoid claims the NRA makes about rising crime.

  12. Obama has killed hundreds of people with his drone assasination program. Therefore I think it is justified to question if he really values human life.

  13. There are no simple solutions to the fact that America’s gun homicide rate is several times larger than other first world countries. In a way, it’s an engineering challenge which calls for trials and outcomes (errors are outcomes which do not meet expectations).

    It seems President Obama did not get the Lame Duck President’s Do Nothing memo which tickles me.

    I wonder how his assertiveness on this and other issues will affect the elections.

  14. RE: “Everyone who sells firearms must register as a gun dealer, get a license and conduct background checks. This provision closes the famous “gun show loophole,” in which sellers at gun shows don’t have to abide by these regulations. It also closes the ability of people to sell guns on the Internet while flouting the regulations.”

    Unfortunately, not correct. Individuals will still be able to sell guns in private transactions without a license and without performing background checks, as long as they don’t do it as a “business” (semi-regular activity) . What Obama is doing is much more modest.

    From the NY Times: “Among other measures, the plan aims to better define who should be licensed as a gun dealer and thus be required to conduct background checks on customers to weed out prohibited buyers.”

    The plan tightens up what constitutes “engaging in the business” of selling firearms. As such, it’s nothing new as such activity is already prohibited without a license, but the more activity will now fall under “conducting a business” than did before.

    It won’t stop person A from selling a gun to person B in private, without a license and without performing a background check. It will stop person A from regularly setting up tables at guns shows and selling guns without a license & w/o doing BG checks. It’s mostly just stepping up enforcement and interpretation of existing rules and regulations. He’s still working within the existing regulatory framework.

    Right now and going forward, a private individual can sell their pistol face to face to another resident of the same state. They don’t need a license, and not only do they not need to do a BG check , they are not allowed to do so, as only licensed dealers are allowed to use the NICS background check system. They don’t even need to see an ID or keep a record of the transaction.

    Also, there’s still no national registration/ tracking of guns sales. If a gun is found at the scene of a crime, and the cops want to find the owner, they have to go to the manufacturer to find out who they sold it to. Then, starting with the manufacturer, they go to each link in the sales chain, one at a time, and ask the each link who they sold it to until they get to the final dealer and find out what individual they sold it to, and hope that person didn’t sell it in a private transaction to someone that paid in cash and they didn’t even get the name of, in a perfectly legal transaction.

    1. Then, starting with the manufacturer, they go to each link in the sales chain, one at a time,

      I wonder what the penalties are for being a (modest turnover) gun dealership who then goes out of business, shuts down, and whose records go in the Shredder at the end of the tax year?
      There’s a phrase coming to me over the aether … it’s … it’s … is the answer “Big Fat Zero”?

      1. Gun dealer records do not ever go in the shredder. They are required by law to turn their “bound books” over to the ATF upon expiration or surrendering of their license. It’s a very significant felony to no do so. It doesn’t happen.

        “Failure to surrender required records is a felony and could result in the licensee being fined up to $250,000, imprisoned up to 5 years, or both. A licensee discontinuing business also must notify the Federal Firearms Licensing Center within 30 days.”

        1. Just because it’s a serious crime doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Insider trading – otherwise known as theft – is also a serious crime, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.
          If you’re running a business supplying guns to criminals, do you think that the prospect of a criminal charge and leaving the country is a deterrent?

          1. Not really a valid comparison. You can commit insider trading without being detected. You can’t fail to turn in your bound book without the ATF knowing about it. ATF performs regular inspections (minimum of annually) of FFLs and their records, and you must turn in your bound book within 30 days of an expired or surrendered license. If you “lose” your bound book, the ATF will know about it in relatively short order.

            My statement was only slightly hyperbole. My point is that conveniently shredded FFL records aren’t really a factor or concern as proposed.

          2. Who cares what the ATF think when you’re 30 days out of the country on a planned exit?

          3. Who cares about any laws or enforcement of laws if you’re going to flee the country, I suppose? I’m not sure what your point is now.

            Your original speculation of there being no penalties for an FFL holder going out of business and destroying their records at the end of the tax year has been refuted.

            Your second point that just because it’s a crime doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen has been pretty well refuted as well. (Sure, it may happen on rare occasions, but it’s pretty much impossible to get away with it without the ATF finding out, unlike insider trading.)

            In regards to people who flee the US to a country without a US extradition agreement after discontinuing their FFL business (which they have only been operating crookedly since their last annual or surprise inspection by the ATF [see below]) and destroying their records and thus become fugitives from justice who can’t set foot back in this country using their real ID…

            “If you’re running a business supplying guns to criminals, do you think that the prospect of a criminal charge and leaving the country is a deterrent?”

            Well, you wouldn’t be able to do that for long before fleeing the country. It’s not like the ATF only looks at your records when you shut down your business. The ATF conducts extensive annual inspections of the records, inventory, and premises of dealers. They also perform surprise, unannounced inspections at their discretion.

            Furthermore, if any of those guns sold to criminals ends up in the hands of the police before the dealer flees the country, the dealer will get a visit from the cops to inquire about the disposition of said gun, and they better have a record of who they sold the gun to & there better have been a form filled out and an NICS background check performed, or their opportunity to flee the county goes out the window.

            The dealer can’t really continue to operate their business for very long after illegally selling to your first criminal because they can’t be sure the gun won’t end up in the hands of the police within hours, meaning it’s a few days at most before the gun gets traced back to the dealer.

          4. I remember the gun dealer in my home town. They went bust. That was a good start.

  15. Newly posted to the ATF website in conjunction with Obama’s announcement:



    Interesting excerpts:

    “As a general rule, you will need a license if you repetitively buy and sell firearms with the principal motive of making a profit. In contrast, if you only make occasional sales of firearms from your personal collection, you do not need to be licensed.”

    “Courts have identified several factors relevant to determining on which side of that line your activities may fall, including: whether you represent yourself as a dealer in firearms; whether you are repetitively buying and selling firearms; the circumstances under which you are selling firearms; and whether you are looking to make a profit. Note that while quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators, courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold, or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors were also present. ”

    “Bob inherits a collection of firearms from his grandfather. He would rather have cash than the firearms, so he posts them all online for sale. He makes no purchases, but over the course of the next year he sells all of the firearms he inherited in a series of different transactions. Bob does not need a license because he is liquidating a personal collection.”

    “David enjoys hunting and has a large variety of hunting rifles. He likes to have the newest models with the most current features. To pay for his new rifles, a few times a year David sells his older weapons to fellow hunters for a profit. David does not need to be licensed because he is engaging in occasional sales for enhancement of his personal collection.”

    et al

    1. I think he’s saying it would be incredibly silly to oppose a reasonable gun control measure just because Obama was crying when he proposed it, because Obama cries at a lot of things. Makes sense to me.

      1. Exactly. That’s what I mean by “Boehner tears”. Boehner famously cried at every occasion… being elected as speaker, getting a bill through congress, talking about colleagues, retiring from speaker, getting his order at McDonalds, etc. Boehner tears are not fake, but they signify little.

  16. “And that’s only the first step toward doing what we should do: implement the kind of stringent controls on firearms that other First World countries have.”

    Sorry, but other First World countries do not have a 2nd Amendment.

    “…the Second Amendment was enacted to allow militias to form, not to give all private citizens the right to have a gun. Times have changed since the 1780s.”

    Changing times? Times have changed since 1886 when the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment specifically granted gun ownership rights to individuals.

    And Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010) made it crystal clear that Americans have the right to own popular firearms to protect themselves. The “militia” clause means nothing anymore.

    Pursuing the militia clause, or hoping to emulate the gun control laws of other countries is wishful thinking unless and until the 2nd Amendment is repealed.

    You can’t do that until a lot more Democrats than Republicans get elected. And the more wishful thinking articles are published about gun control, the more difficult will be electing those Democrats.

    1. Pursuing the militia clause, or hoping to emulate the gun control laws of other countries is wishful thinking unless and until the 2nd Amendment is repealed.

      It is wishful thinking, to be sure, but only because of the popularity of guns with voters, not because of the absolute need to repeal the 2nd Amendment. In Schoolhouse Rocks videos about how the government works, yes, the only recourse after Heller/McDonald is to repeal the amendment. In the real world, however, all it takes is some future court more hostile to gun owners desires to overturn Heller/McDonald. While the militia clause is a stretch in my opinion, it’s right there in the text to be embraced by any court who wishes to see it as operative (it’s more in the text than the right to gay marriage that was recently found, for example).

      Because of this, I think the gun lobby itself should worry a bit about overplaying their hand. They already have with me. Gun control, even now, is not an issue I care much about. Death by gun is not a big enough risk in my life for me to worry over, and I’m skeptical that there are any reasonable regulations that will make much difference. However, the callous public persona of the gun lobby, which disdains any attempt at responsibility, coupled with the crazed ravings of their most vocal followers (“pry it out of my cold dead hands”, and other seditious rabble) gives me the impression that they represent not the desire to be responsible citizens who own guns, but that they represent an insane and dangerous cult. In that sense I can’t bring myself to back anyone who backs them, because it feels like a vote against the social contract, against civil society. That’s a minority view, at the moment, I think the NRA has a 58% favorability rating as recently as October, but with every mass shooting and embrace-the-wild-west and arm everyone response, they take a risk that they will mint more of me. Only 30% of the public owns guns. The approval of the other 70% is not automatic, or guaranteed. And if you think that a liberal court backed by public opinion will not read something different into the 2nd amendment well… good luck with that.

      You are totally right that for the short term, until there are new justices, until there is a significant shift in public opinion, Heller/McDonald will hold and it is daydreaming to think it won’t. But it won’t take anything near an amendment to change that status quo.

  17. Obama can’t win – first, he’s criticized for being too cold and cerebral, now he’s criticized for being too emotional …

  18. The fact that 90% of Americans support gun control is part of a larger picture. According to polls, huge majorities of Americans support universal health care, the closing of Guantanamo and (a few years ago) not attacking Iraq, to name only a few. Yet our governments go ahead with their own agendas, ignoring our desires. I mean, ignoring. They don’t even talk about them.

    1. That is because 45% of those 90% elect politicians who are opposed to many of the ideas that 45% support.

      So then who’s fault is it? The Republicans who make their policies clear, or the people who keep voting them in? Republican politicians, who state they will oppose everything Obama does no matter what that is, or the people who voted them in even after those Republicans kept that promise, even when it hurt Americans?

      As others have already pointed out here, Republican voters often vote against their own best interest. Why? IMHO, they watch Fox News and are easily manipulated. Which is part and parcel of the same problem, I think.

      1. Keep in mind that 50% of all voters brain below average. Also, half of all brains in the U.S. are full of sitcom jokes, tables of sports data, and pizza recipes with little space left for political nuance. A casual glance at the republican primary tells you all you need to know.

      2. Agreed. Why are they, as you say, “easily manipulated”? I suspect it is because they have little or no faculty for critical analysis. A skeptical attitude. A scientific way of looking at things.

        So why is that? Again, I suspect it is because they are trained that way in the schools. But, not having children myself, I am not certain of that.

  19. This is all very much like attempting to have a discussion with the nuts out there in Oregon that think it’s a good idea to take over federal property and then make demands to the government that they must give land to people. They also claim this was a peaceful demonstration, although they came armed to the teeth. Yet, they also show great cowardice by bringing young child with them on their mission. Whether or not these attitudes towards guns are some kind of mental illness or problem related to a small penis or just cowards, I don’t know – but someone should do a study.

    Most people who desire land in modern times have to work, earn money and buy it. Stealing it from Native Americans or the government no longer applies.

  20. I am an Ameican who has lived for 50 or so years In Australia. I recently spent a couple of weeks in the USA, arriving In Portland Orgon the day after the mass murders in southern Oregon. (Three more gunshot deaths in Portland that night, which did ‘t count.)
    I found that I no longer feel safe when in the US…
    I’ll think twice before travelling there again.

  21. “Everyone who sells firearms must register as a gun dealer, get a license and conduct background checks. This provision closes the famous “gun show loophole,” in which sellers at gun shows don’t have to abide by these regulations. It also closes the ability of people to sell guns on the Internet while flouting the regulations.”

    Come on, Jerry, you have to read better than this. President Obama did not just make it illegal to sell a gun without a license. The link you post actually contradicts you and says that a private seller in a non-commercial transaction does NOT have to be licensed and does not need to do background checks.

    It is essential that you get your facts straight on such touchy issues, or else your credibility is shot.

    1. Of course, it you had read all the comments, you’d know that point was already made back at comment #16.

  22. It’s vulgar and lower than low-class to mock someone (president or not) for expressing genuine sorrow, compassion and empathy for victims of gun violence and their families.

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