After two mass shootings, Texas loosens gun laws

September 2, 2019 • 9:00 am

Granted, the brand-new looser gun laws in Texas, which are almost ludicrous in how widely they permit the possession and carrying of firearms, are part of a series of bills passed before June. But in view of the two recent mass shootings in Texas—making it the state with 4 of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history—the laws look especially ludicrous. Given that most of the American public wants stricter gun laws, but the Republicans (pressed by the NRA) apparently want every American to be armed with a semiautomatic rifle that they can carry to Starbucks, these laws make Texas look especially bad. I can only imagine how the rest of the world regards us now—now that we seem to have a mass shooting every two weeks.

And the solution to these murders? MORE GUNS, Texas tells us. CNN reports what the new laws are (click on screenshot):

Read and weep (from CNN).

House Bill 1143 says a school district cannot prohibit licensed gun owners, including school employees, from storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked vehicle on a school parking lot — provided they are not in plain view.

House Bill 1387 loosens restrictions on how many armed school marshals a school district can appoint.

House Bill 2363 allows some foster homes to store firearms and ammunition in a safe and secure place for personal protection. Proper storage must be followed, the bill says, including putting firearms and ammunition together in the same locked locations.

House Bill 302 bans homeowners or landlords of rental property from prohibiting residents from lawfully possessing, carrying, transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in the property.

House Bill 1177 prohibits residents from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun while evacuating from a state or local disaster area.

Senate Bill 535 clarifies the possession of firearms at churches, synagogues or other places of worship. It allows licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons in places of worship — and comes nearly two years after a gunman killed 26 people at Sutherland Springs church.

The news last night reported that, re the last bill, if a church chooses to prohibit the carrying of firearms, they can do so. Otherwise, we have to look forward to more guns in schools and churches, and even in Universities. Students at the University of Texas in Austin, for instance, can legally carry guns to class. What could go wrong with that?

The excuse for this shameful behavior is the usual: Americans need more guns to protect themselves against the bad guys. As CNN reports: “‘We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun free zone. Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what,’ state Sen. Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. ‘It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm’.”

NBC News, in a press conference I watched, reports the Texas governor making the same justification:

In a press conference Sunday, Gov. Abbott insisted the new laws will protect Texans, pointing to the law which allows more school marshals to have guns in schools. “Some of these laws were enacted for the purpose of making our communities safer,” Abbott said.

That’s about as lame as you can get. Yes, perhaps the laws were enacted with that intention, but do they actually yield those results? Apparently not. It seems as if more innocent lives are lost when criminals use guns (many of them obtained legally) than when guns are used for self-defense. From the Violence Policy Center (VPC):

The main argument used to advance these policies is that guns are a common and effective tool for self-defense. This argument is false.

A series of VPC studies on guns and self-defense thoroughly disprove the NRA myth. These studies analyze national data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Among the findings of the most recent edition of the study are the following:

  • In 2016, the FBI reports there were only 274 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm. That same year, there were 10,341 criminal gun homicides. Guns were used in 37 criminal homicides for every justifiable homicide.
  • Intended victims of violent crimes engaged in self-protective behavior that involved a firearm in 1.1 percent of attempted and completed incidents between 2014 and 2016.
  • Intended victims of property crimes engaged in self-protective behavior that involved a firearm in 0.3 percent of attempted and completed incidents between 2014 and 2016.

Here are the graphic data on that survey provided by The Washington Post:

Even just considering guns kept in the home, those guns are far more likely to be involved in accidental shootings, criminal acts, and suicides than in justifiable incidents of self-defense. Here’s a survey from 1999 published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery (my emphasis):

Determine the relative frequency with which guns in the home are used to injure or kill in self-defense, compared with the number of times these weapons are involved in an unintentional injury, suicide attempt, or criminal assault or homicide. We reviewed the police, medical examiner, emergency medical service, emergency department, and hospital records of all fatal and nonfatal shootings in three U.S. cities: Memphis, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and Galveston, Texas. During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides. Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.

Given this balance, what’s the justification for allowing people to keep guns in their homes?

The NRA responds that people wounded in acts of self defense and who escape are not reported by gun owners for fear of police investigation. But I strongly doubt that even if this underreporting exists, it can redress the balance of innocent lives lost versus successful defenses against criminals.

A 2015 paper in Preventive Medicine says pretty much the same thing: self defense gun use (SDGU) is not associated with reduced risk of injury to the people defending themselves, while use of any weapon, not just guns, reduces the likelihood of property loss.

Finally, a Pew Survey published in 2013 shows that the percentage of people who own a gun for protection has gone up dramatically since 1999 (“constitutional right” is a mere 2%)

My own view, which I’ve discussed before, is that the U.S. needs the same laws as Scotland, which has pretty much the same strict gun laws as the UK but with even stronger provisions:

Gun laws in Scotland differ in some details from those in the rest of the UK. However, in terms of licensing they are, currently, identical to the rest of Great Britain. A firearms certificate is required to purchase firearms, and a separate shotgun certificate is required for shotguns. The guiding laws for firearms in Scotland are the Firearms (Scotland) Rules 1989 and the Firearms Act (1968). All handguns, semi-automatic and pump-action non-rim-fire rifles are prohibited. A few pistols are licensed on a Firearm Certificate for exactly the same reasons as the rest of Great Britain. There are only 566 licensed handgun owners in Scotland.

Note that handguns were banned in the UK after the 1996 Dunblane School massacre in Scotland. That is a sane mentality, and the opposite of the craziness in the US, where after a mass shooting many legislators and NRA crazies call for more guns, assuming that people need to protect themselves from mass shooters. But mass shooters are nearly always taken down not by private citizens with guns, but by the police. And, as we’ve seen, having a gun in the home doesn’t make you safer; in fact, it leads to more deaths of innocent people.

The result: we have a gazillion mass shootings and accidental shootings in the U.S., and there are virtually none in the UK.

Finally, the whole “right to bear arms” issue, which some people—especially Republican legislators and the NRA—use to justify widespread ownership of handguns, is based on a Constitutional provision, the Second Amendment:

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

That seems pretty clear to me: the amendment is there to allow the existence of a militia to keep the people from being oppressed by the arms of the government. Well, we don’t have militias any more, and armed private citizens are no longer a match to government weapons. Garry Wills, in an excellent article in the New York Review of Books, makes (to me) a persuasive case that the Second Amendment was not intended to justify the willy-nilly ownership of guns, even with the intention of self-defense. His piece ends like this:

The recent effort to find a new meaning for the Second Amendment comes from the failure of appeals to other sources as a warrant for the omnipresence of guns of all types in private hands. Easy access to all these guns is hard to justify in pragmatic terms, as a matter of social policy. Mere common law or statute may yield to common sense and specific cultural needs. That is why the gun advocates appeal, above pragmatism and common sense, to a supposed sacred right enshrined in a document Americans revere. Those advocates love to quote Sanford Levinson, who compares the admitted “social costs” of adhering to gun rights with the social costs of observing the First Amendment.  We have to put up with all kinds of bad talk in the name of free talk. So we must put up with our world-record rates of homicide, suicide, and accidental shootings because, whether we like it or not, the Constitution tells us to. Well, it doesn’t.

Sadly, the Supreme Court doesn’t accept Wills’s argument; and since most of them are conservatives, they won’t any time soon. I have little hope that the gun epidemic in our country can be stemmed. We may get a few more regulations and background checks, but in my view we should adopt the UK/Scottish system, along with severe increases in legal penalties for committing crimes with guns. But of course that’s a pipe dream.


327 thoughts on “After two mass shootings, Texas loosens gun laws

  1. I believe you have covered the argument for gun control very well. Only problem is we are all arguing with ignorant people. Yes, I will say it, ignorant people. What else causes this type of behavior? The more guns equal more stupid people with guns who have no business with them. The evidence shows that hand guns are the most dangerous and kill the most people. The weapon of choice for all the wantabe killers is an AR type gun. All of these, both hand guns and AR types must be removed from society if there is to be any progress. End of the story.

      1. You are being a bit simplistic Matt. Assuming no mental illness, if the shooter is a first-time offender, then they weren’t a criminal until after they committed the crime. eg. Someone who shoots their spouse for cheating or divorcing them, teenage school shooters, etc.

        1. All of the mass shooters have been mentally ill; several with criminal records that somehow did not show up on background checks.

          If you wish to advocate banning handguns to reduce IPV, that’s a separate discussion.

          1. Please share the figures. Many of the school age ones have had a history of mental illness but most of the older ones do not

            1. I’m aware of a handful of older mass shooters without recorded mental health issues, but even those displayed erratic behavior just prior.

              1. This is far, far too simplistic. What are the criteria for deciding that someone is “erratic”, so their guns are taken away? That alone is so full of leaks its hard to know where to begin. Attempts to harden this aspect of our gun laws has already met very stiff resistance. Who has the authority to report ‘erratic’ people? Who should be believed? Who do they report to, and do those recipients even have time to evaluate all these reports coming in? Who is going to search this person out to take away their guns? The police say already are way too busy. A similar argument exists, b.t.w. for stronger background checks, where the authorities say they don’t have time for this. Meanwhile days go by. The clock is ticking. “Just prior” you say, but in even a massively robust system where people are always watching and reporting and where authorities always have time to process and respond, all too often it won’t be enough time.

          2. There are plenty of mentally ill people and criminals in the UK. We don’t have mass shootings, at least not more than a handful per decade.

            Why do you think that might be? Oh yes, it’s because guns are strictly controlled.

      2. An advantage of that approach, it’s easy to implement right on the gun application form :

        I am a (check one) __ Criminal; __ Non-criminal.

        I am (check one) __ Insane; __ Sane.

            1. That’s part of the reason, but felons and people who have had psychiatric problems do sometimes honestly list their history.

  2. “Some of these laws were enacted for the purpose of making our communities safer,” Abbott said.

    What about the others? To make the communities less safe, thereby achieving a net balance?

    In examining these numbers, remember that they would probably count Zimmerman as having used his weapon in justified self defense, or at most cousing an accidental death.

      1. Zimmerman was defending himself from having his head smashed in, so the gun in this instance may have saved his life.

      1. Just making up the facts I guess. Did the other guy have a gun….no. Would Zimmerman even had been out there pretending to be a cop if he did not have a gun…no. He was an idiot looking to shoot someone.

          1. Didn’t he try and sell the gun he killed Martin with at auction or something? Or have I misremembered? Calling on Wiki-Ken.

        1. That is a fair point. Would he have gone out without a gun?
          But it is an overstatement to say he went out looking to shoot someone.

  3. As was said in the wake of the El Paso shooting:”If a bunch of Texans at a Wal-Mart couldn’t stop a mass shooting who could?”

    Notably some of those civilians HAD guns on them. And yet the murderer was still taken down by police and not some lone Rambo.

    1. The kind of person who thinks in that Rambo, have-a-go-hero way is the absolute last kind of person you want involved in trying to take a mass shooter down.

      Add to that the confusion these Rambo types engender when they get involved: I remember there was a guy in a recent shooting who was interviewed afterwards and he said when he heard the sound of gunshots he took out his gun and started running towards what he believed was the crime scene…imagine the nightmare that must be for officers, already dealing with misinformation, who don’t know if there’s more than one shooter, who don’t know what the shooter looks like…

      1. Yet another reason why banning the Christchurch footage is a bad idea. I’ll bet the people trapped or lying injured in the mosque while waiting to get finished of video game style would have given anything for a gun. How would you feel about being defenceless if you were trapped in the corner of a Walmart with an armed killer spproaching? Your personal animus toward people willing to come to the aid of others is not really relevant.

        1. It isn’t “personal animus”, it’s cold hard reality.

          If you’re only armed with a hand gun, you are going to need to get really close to the shooter to take them down, I mean like feet away. Ramón Rojo was right: the man with the rifle will win.

          Further, when the police arrive, having been told there is a shooter, what are they going to do when they see a man with a hand gun shooting?

          Even further, all of the above would be moot if the original shooter were unable to obtain a gun.

          1. When the police arrive and see a man with a handgun shooting they might shoot him. So what? Rather one person takes a chance on being wrongly shot by the police than defenceless people get gunned down while waiting for them. It is very feasible to shoot a man with a handgun over the length of a room, from under a desk, or from any hiding place you can find. Having a chance is better than not having one. Watch the Christchurch shooting. What stands out is the utter helplessness of the victims. There are no authorities around to help, just civilians at the shooter’s mercy, waiting to die at his leisure. See how well your “facts” go down with someone in that position.

            1. When the police arrive and see a man with a handgun shooting they might shoot him. So what?

              I would suggest it is quite a big deal to a person with a hand gun debating whether they should run and hide or confront a shooter who has an AR style rifle.

              It is very feasible to shoot a man with a handgun over the length of a room, from under a desk, or from any hiding place you can find

              Feasible? yes. Is it going to work? I think that would depend on your level of training and experience in fire fights.

              Watch the Christchurch shooting. What stands out is the utter helplessness of the victims. There are no authorities around to help, just civilians at the shooter’s mercy, waiting to die at his leisure. See how well your “facts” go down with someone in that position.

              Take away the shooter’s gun. How helpless are they now?

            2. “When the police arrive and see a man with a handgun shooting they might shoot him. So what? ”

              So the outcome will be one less “good guy with a gun” protecting everyone.

              There’s more attention the genuine, professional good guys with guns have to spend – in the seconds that truly matter – isolating the true murderer.

              So the argument that one lone “good guy with a gun” will protect and save everyone looks more like a wish-thinking fantasy – because there is not a single well-thought out plan for it. Compare to plans for fire safety- even with that simple premise – leave a building – anything can go wrong.

    1. I attempt to show this elected official’s Twi773r statements from the link above:

      Matt Schaefer
      “Do something!” is the statement we keep hearing. As an elected official with a vote in Austin, let me tell you what I am NOT going to do. 1/6

      I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans. Period. None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent. 2/6

      I say NO to “red flag” pre-crime laws. NO to universal background checks. NO to bans on AR-15s, or high capacity magazines. NO to mandatory gun buybacks. 3/6

      What can we do? YES to praying for victims. YES to praying for protection. YES to praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent. YES to fathers not leaving their wives and children. YES to discipline in the homes. 4/6

      YES to your God-given, constitutionally protected rights. YES to God, and NO to more government intrusions. 6/6
      YES to supporting our public schools. YES to giving every law-abiding single mom the right to carry a handgun to protect her and her kids without permission from the state, and the same for all other law-abiding Texans of age. 5/6

      ——————- end of attempt to reproduce Representative Matt Schaefer’s statements————-

      … if one can take it, you can see even victims of the Christian religion objecting to this representative’s bringing religion into the problem.

      1. “What can we do? YES to praying for victims. YES to praying for protection. YES to praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent. YES to fathers not leaving their wives and children. YES to discipline in the homes.”

        What a fucking NAUSEATING tweet. Gross.

      2. “I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans”

        God-given rights? Does he really consider the view that absolutely anybody could have a gun as an holy sacrament?

        I wonder where in the Bible it said “Jesus offers his sanctified handgun to his disciples and adds use it in my memory”.

        1. The Second Amendment was carved onto the stone tablets God gave Moses atop Mount Sinai.

          Every god-fearing, gun-loving American knows that.

          1. “The Second Amendment was carved onto the stone tablets God gave Moses atop Mount Sinai.”

            In English, too.


      3. Schaefer represents religion at its worst. He seems to believe that the Constitution was written by God. Yet, he won his seat in the Texas legislature with little or no opposition. The good folks of his district undoubtedly agree with his views. He represents one reason among many that if the US is to remain secular, the Republican Party must be defeated on all levels of government — federal, state, and local. I hope the Democrats understand this.

      4. And lo did god say “shoot unto the little ones. Please share the biblical refernece for the sake of heathhens!

  4. Why is there a certain segment of the population that insists on owning gums, even automatic weapons, when all the evidence points to the fact that they must likely would do them more harm than good? As with many social and political viewpoints, the answer lies in the condition that guns fulfill the need for some individuals for feelings of self-worth and dignity. So says the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in a posting entitled “The Psychology of Gun Ownership.” Such men suffer from a crisis of confidence and tend to be angry and impulsive. The article lists other characteristics of the gun zealot.

    The gun situation is but one example of what my study of history has taught me. Except when they are in extreme economic distress, people are motivated primarily by a quest for dignity, self-worth, and respect from others. How they engage in this quest is what differentiates the social worker or teacher from the mass murderer. Part of the constituency of the NRA are people that fall for the line that guns give meaning to their lives. Both the NRA and the Republican Party cannot afford to lose this important element of their support.

    1. So what the study shows is, people with mental issues are the people who need guns. A perfect combination. Almost as good as open carry into a bar.

    2. I look after my gums, and I’m not ashamed of saying so. You’ll take my gums away over my dead body.


      1. Rumor has it that chewing gum may improve levels of anxiety and mood. So, I would recommend that gums be given to everyone. 🙂

        1. Disgusting stuff. Anyone who drops it on the floor or the footpath will get a short corrective burst from my handy pocket Vulcan 😎


      1. “Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

        ‘That’s some catch, that Catch-22,’ he observed.

        ‘It’s the best there is,’ Doc Daneeka agreed.”

      2. “In other words “Nobody who wants to own a gun should be allowed to”

        In the same way the nobody who wants to run for any higher office should be allowed to. I’d vote for that.

    3. Why is there a certain segment of the population that insists on owning gums, even automatic weapons, when all the evidence points to the fact that they must likely would do them more harm than good?

      First off, “a certain segment” amounts to 43% of American households.

      Second, once suicides and murders by criminals using illegal guns are excluded, the evidence does not indicate that legal gun ownership risks more harm than good.

      Finally, many legitimate reasons exist for owning a gun, especially in rural areas.

      1. How much actual training have you had Matt?
        You see, we hear this all the time:
        “‘Muricas! ‘Murica! Its ma gawd given right to arm bears or the English kings can come and usurp us”
        Here’s what we dont hear:
        “That yearly two-week intensive live-fire course really took it out of me. Every year I’m reminded that keeping my reflexes and skills honed so I dont shoot my own buddies, or innocent people in the back, is a constant battle… and thats why special forces and armed police are kept on a razors edge, and are grateful to ahng up their guns along with the responsiblity that goes with them”
        We don’t hear that sort of talk fro,m people like you, Matt–yet that’s how soldiers and properly trained armed police talk. Why don’t you talk that way, Matt? Please enlighten us. Because the suspicion is that you are a small scared person who feels big when they hold a gun and shoot some paper targets. A very very dangerous individual, in fact. Dangerous to me and mine as I walk about my daily business. Dangerous like a drunk driver or someone else who doesnt take their responsiblities (rather than their rights) seriously.

        1. “you are a small scared person who feels big when they hold a gun and shoot some paper targets”

          You know nothing about me. Resorting to insults in lieu of a reasoned argument says a lot about you, however.

        2. Good grief – this personal attack is completely uncalled for. Spare us your deep insights into another person’s mind and stick to discussing his actual statements.

      2. First off, “a certain segment” amounts to 43% of American households

        I think citation needed.

        Second, once suicides and murders by criminals using illegal guns are excluded,

        Why would you want to exclude them? Suicide victims and people murdered by criminals are just as dead.

        Finally, many legitimate reasons exist for owning a gun, especially in rural areas

        Your turn.

    4. Why is there a certain segment of the population that insists on owning gums[obvious typo], even automatic weapons, when all the evidence points to the fact that they must likely would do them more harm than good?

      This evidence is more ambiguous than you suggest. For example, the low number of bad guys killed (or even shot at) ignores the number of self defense uses where a criminal was deterred by a weapon’s presence without it being fired. Estimates of this type use range a half million to five million events per year – personal bias probably determines the credibility we may give to these numbers.

      One of our glories is that the collective doesn’t get to pre-judge my ability to protect myself based on societal statistics. The vast majority of people cannot swim the English Channel. That’s no reason to prevent someone with the desire from trying.

      1. Your argument would seem to support the anti-vaxxers that resent the “collective” telling them how they should manage their personal health. This view would have merit if refusing vaccinations did not jeopardize the health of others. This is no different than a person poisoning a river upstream and thus jeopardizing the health of people living downstream. I hate to disappoint you, but unless you live alone on an island, you are a member of a “collective,” and must, as everyone else, abide by its rules. There is always a tension between balancing the rights of the individual and that of society as a whole. Each society weighs the competing rights differently. Currently, in the United States, the rights of gun owners are given priority over those who feel the well-being of society necessitates constricting them. This can change.

        1. We may not agree on gun control, but I don’t fault your analysis. I obviously prefer the line being drawn in favor of the individual over society to a greater degree than you.

      2. “Estimates of this type use range a half million to five million events per year – personal bias probably determines the credibility we may give to these numbers.”

        I’ll say. I’d be very interested to see where those figures came from.

        But more importantly it ignores the fact that deterrence of that kind _is only necessary if society is flooded with guns in the first place._

        1. If you are truly interested in the estimates, please use google, so I won’t be accused of cherry picking. Another factor, impossible to estimate, is that the knowledge some people will protect themselves with guns will deter criminals.

          In fact, the society is flooded with guns. However, if it wasn’t, a gun is still handy when attacked by a 300 lb goon armed with a butter knife.

          1. Yes, but in this scenario the 300lb goon isn’t armed with a gun, so he doesn’t go on to kill fifteen people after you. And since you don’t have a gun in this scenario, he can’t wrest said gun from your hands(as is quite likely, since he’s a 300lb lunatic) and kill you. And then go off on a stab-shoot-athon.

            These are the compromises human beings make when they enter into the social contract. Otherwise things descend into a spiral of one-upmanship between civilians and criminals.

            1. … he can’t wrest said gun from your hands(as is quite likely, since he’s a 300lb lunatic)

              That’s actually quite unlikely. Just ask Michael Brown.

              1. I don’t actually know who that is, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Michael Brown is a black man that you don’t like. Am I right? If I am, I want a cookie.

              2. I had no idea who Michael Brown is. The fact that he apparently is black and you felt the need to insert him into a conversation unfortunately does suggest that race is a particular issue for you, as do your other comments throughout this thread.

                It was a very enjoyable cookie incidentally.

        2. When this came up fairly recently, the same question was raised. IIRC, the ‘study’ that showed the 0.5 to 5 million self defense uses was based on self reporting via a survey.

        3. Leaving aside an estimate that is incredibly wide, lets do the math.
          1/3 of Americans own firearms, about 100 million people. So according to the numbers given, between .5 percent and 5 percent of gun toting Americans stop crime with their firearms.

          Lets consider those numbers. At the high end, 5 percent of armed Americans stop a crime. This leads to the impression that either armed Americans are especially prone to being victims of crime, or have almost no crime, since they can protect themselves.

          Yet this is not shown by FBI statistics. Nor is there ANY corroborating evidence. No police reports anywhere close to even the bottom numbers.

          Five percent crime rate (somehow invisible, never reported), added to available crime stats would make America, at least gun owning America, one of the highest crime ridden countries in the first world.

          If you believe the claims. Or it’s almost as if someone just pulled those numbers out of thin air.

          Which brings us to a man named John Lott.

          Mr. Lott is famous in gun circles for his many, many studies on guns and crime. When gun folk present ‘stats’ about guns and crime, they are often quoting John Lott.

          Outside of gun circles Mr. Lott is known as a man of dubious ethics, caught using a sock puppet named Mary Rosh to review his own books, support his teaching creds, support Lott in online flame wars and give himself glowing reviews and testimonials.
          Mr. Lott is also famous for having study after study brought into question.
          Mr Lott once stated in an interview that there are millions of self defense actions with firearms every year.

          He subsequently walked that claim back when asked to provide any evidence. Something he didn’t do with his first study when his numbers were questioned and was accused of fabricating the study. He claimed he lost all his data (electronic and paper) in a flood, and claimed not to recall any of the names of the students who worked on the study.

        1. Agreed, a good fake would serve the purpose in most instances. I own real guns for the other instances.

          There are around 300 million guns in the U.S., yet the number of people killed yearly in self defense is under 300. That’s a testament to the restraint of law abiding gun owners. I think gun control measures would be more widely accepted if they took into account that the vast number of gun owners are responsible and broad restrictions that hit them will be opposed – vigorously.

          1. “That’s a testament to the restraint of law abiding gun owners.”

            And precisely how is that a “testament to the restraint” as you conclude? Is there nothing else that can account for this conclusion?

            1. OK, it is a bit out of place. I got distracted. It’s intended as a reassurance to people with the impression of gun owners as crazies who will blast away at the least provocation. Surely there are some like that, but they are rare.

        2. Ha ha. I do have a sticker in my window declaring “This house protected by Smith and Wesson” even though I don’t own a gun. My biggest fear is that someone will break in to steal my non-existent gun.

        3. “You’re making a good argument for TOY GUNS or FAKE GUNS that look like the real thing but can’t fire.”

          The counter-argument to that is that the police will then come and shoot you, many times, pausing only to reload…

          (What, me, cynical?)

    5. Historian: “…even automatic weapons…”

      That would be incorrect; you might read history a bit more carefully. Since the 1986 FOPA (the “Hughes Amendment” to the GCA of 1968), there have been no new automatic weapons sold in the U.S.

      And as to the number of times that the grandfathered weapons have been used in crimes?

      That would 0. Yes–zero.

    6. Is it possibly (and uniquely in the US) just a badge of masculinity. Like owning an
      Gun advocates seem to believe that the US murder rate isn’t dramatically high. It’s is 4.5 to 5 times higher than most comparable countries (western, developed nations).

    1. I thought Maher sums up the complex of problems extremely well. (Plus some good one-liners — forget red flags, just look for the guys who cut their own bangs; cell phones were supposed to connect people, but studies show it’s made them more lonely. It’s like a vibrator designed by Mike Pence…)

  5. Clearly there’s a certain fatality-threshold that needs to be exceeded before the GOP shuffle onto news channels and pretend to care about this subject.

    What’s noticeable is that that threshold is changing all the time. This time around they largely seem not to have thought it worth their time responding in any large-scale, co-ordinated way – presumably because it wasn’t a big enough mass shooting.

  6. Students at the University of Texas in Austin, for instance, can legally carry guns to class.

    One way to keep professors from making snarky comments in blue-book exams before they hand ’em back.

    Texas might as well close the circle by allowing open carry in mental institutions.

    1. Now you’ve given them another law they must pass. Way to go… I’m sure they will have a safe place at the institution for the people to store their weapons.

    2. As a professor who taught unarmed students, I would not have been comfortable with arming the more than 50% who ended up with Cs, Ds and Fs. I just had to listen to a bit of whining and rare anger.

  7. Garry Wills’ argument can also be found in Chapter 20 of his book A Necessary Evil: A History of American Distrust of Government.

  8. Across on Patheos, Tippling Philosopher recently published a set of articles on the subject of gun control, though specifically the issue of the ‘right’ to own guns. The case he made, quite reasonably, is that rights are human constructs, so there can be no such thing as ‘innate’ rights.

    Where normally posts receive between 80 and 100 comments all of a sudden there was an invasion by the gun lobby, and comment numbers went well over a thousand. There was no appeal to reason by any of these people (they were actually simply making assertions, then claiming they were appealing to reason), with the almost constant argument being that, because the Second Amendment refers to ‘infringing’ rights, the rights were already there, and weren’t being ‘granted’ by the constitution. Hence they must always have been there and so were innate, and being innate no law could be passed to revoke them. Unbelievable stupidity, but that’s the problem.

    Incidentally, in side discussions, several commenters denied that the US is a democracy, claiming it is a ‘constitutional republic’, which is true of course, so far as it goes. When I pointed out that a feature of democracies are free and fair elections, I was told that voting is simply to enable ‘the people’ to find out what other people thought, but that they weren’t binding. Are these people allowed to breed? Don’t answer….

    1. “Across on Patheos, Tippling Philosopher recently published a set of articles on the subject of gun control, though specifically the issue of the ‘right’ to own guns. The case he made, quite reasonably, is that rights are human constructs, so there can be no such thing as ‘innate’ rights.”

      I agree totally. If “rights” are not constructed by humans and have some objective reality then where do they come from? God? I don’t think so. The natural or inalienable rights as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) was good propaganda and nothing more. Also, as often pointed out, curiously Jefferson and many other Founders denied these rights to a certain segment of humanity. I have never seen a good answer to the question, if there are certain natural rights, why is it that we have seen them manifested only rarely throughout history? Societies define what rights are and the definition can change. Owning guns is as far from a natural right (if there were such a thing) as one can imagine.

      The Tippling Philosopher goes into much more detail.

    2. The case he made, quite reasonably, is that rights are human constructs, so there can be no such thing as ‘innate’ rights.

      That’s a fairly inane point. The right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutional right; who gives a damn whether any of our Constitutional rights are ‘innate’ in some namby-pamby philosophical sense?

      1. “That’s a fairly inane point. The right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutional right; who gives a damn whether any of our Constitutional rights are ‘innate’ in some namby-pamby philosophical sense?”

        You should be addressing your observation to all those people who believe the Constitution was handed down by God, including the Second Amendment.

      2. No. The right–indeed the responsiblity–to have a well organsied miltitia is something that federal government mandated so that locals could put down slave revolts. Dont you read your own constitution? In this case its Federalist 28 that you need to look at
        So–are these activities you indulge in a lot? Being organised in a militia? Putting down slave uprisings? Tell us about the last one you put down.

  9. “That seems pretty clear to me: the amendment is there to allow the existence of a militia to keep the people from being oppressed by the arms of the government.”

    OK, you are entitled to your opinion. But your opinion is not what the Supreme Court and 200 years of gun case law say is the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

    I wish there was an easy answer to gun violence in America, but there isn’t.

      1. It’s not an “argument”, it’s legal precedent. And legal precedent matters to the Supreme Court.

        And you are going to have a very difficult row to hoe if you want to argue that the 2nd is not about the rights of individuals to own guns. There is, besides the 200 years of case law, a lot of documentation of the founder’s views on the topic, the vast majority of which belies your assertion that the “argument’ is flawed.

        1. At the time the founders wrote their views, firearms were muskets and breech-loading rifles. Who knows what they may have thought about individuals having a right to keep automatic weapons capable of mass shootings, but I suspect if they thought about it at all they would think future generations and governments should use common sense and not rely on the antiquated views of people who had never experienced such weapons.

          1. Well, if we are interested in the Founder’s motivations they are there to see. They were awfully adamant and specific about having firearms to counter government tyranny. Really charged up about it.

            So, I would imagine they would be happy to see equivalent firepower in the hands of individuals. They kept cannons and mortars in militia arsenals if that means anything.

            More importantly, never once did they even countenance the idea that people did not have the right to own guns for their own personal uses. Such an idea would have been absurd to them.

          2. Darwinwins:

            “”Who knows what they may have thought about individuals having a right to keep automatic weapons capable of mass shootings”…

            Again, new automatic weapons have not been sold since 1986, and the grandfathered ones have NEVER been used in crimes.

            And if indeed we’re limiting rights to old tech, then obviously the 1st Amendment offers no protections to users of phones, radio, and TV…let alone the internet.

            1. The First Amendment allows reasonable “time, place, and manner” restrictions on the use of load speakers in public places. That may be the more apt analogy.

              1. Agreed, absolutely. Which is why we’ve had laws forever against not only murder and assault with firearms, but even discharging one in a public place (except, of course, in defense of oneself or others). I certainly have no quarrel with such limitations.

                That’s a bit different than saying that you can’t own a Selectric.

              2. “(except, of course, in defense of oneself or others)”

                How is this, as you say – in parenthesis no less – “exception”, anything but trivial?

    1. It wasn’t until 230 years after ratification of the Bill of Rights, and after much recent historical revisionism (undertaken not by historians, but by law professors and lawyers), that SCOTUS held that the Second Amendment guaranteed a right to individual gun ownership and possession, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).

      1. Thank you Ken. Always when someone goes off half cocked, it is good to bring them back. And the guy most responsible for this stupidity in 2008 is dead and gone.

      2. It wasn’t until 230 years after …

        So? Roe was decided not long before Heller, and same sex marriage rights were recognized even more recently. Cannabis rights are yet to be recognized by the federal government.

        Our system doesn’t guarantee utopia. It provides the imperfect tools for making course corrections and heading in that direction.

        We can disagree about the Heller decision, but not about whether I have a right – as an individual – to own and posses a gun. I do. Get over it.

        1. “… I have a right – as an individual – to own and posses a gun.“

          “The people” and “militia” are plurals.

          1. Seriously, don’t you see your remark is a non-sequitur in this context. I am echoing Ken’s summary of the Heller decision.

            Your assertion “The people” is plural is not a universal opinion (we are not talking grammar where it can be singular as well). Some constitutional theorists argue that “the people” means “the people as individuals” not the collective. The constitutional scholar Randy Barnett lays out the case in his Our Republican Constitution, Securing Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People.

              1. I admitted to missing the link. I’m not sure what “peace” has to do with that or with what I wrote. You are aware there is a dissenting opinion and statements from Breyer, Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg on that decision.

              2. Peace = “Thank you for saying that. I don’t bear you any personal animosity.”

                Yes, I’m aware Heller was decided 5-4. You probably think there were 5 wrong votes, while I think it was four.

              3. 5 – 4 means, to me, that the decision wasn’t clear cut. In 10 years or so it could be reversed. I hope I’m still alive to see that happen. A lot of people who should be, won’t be.

        2. When we disagree over Heller, we disagree over whether you have a constitutional right to own and possess a firearm. Your theory on the Ninth Amendment has never attracted any significant judicial support, Carl. (Indeed, Justice Scalia, the author of the majority opinion in Heller, elsewhere expressly disavowed that there are any enforceable unenumerated rights under the Ninth Amendment.)

          Of course, even if the constitution guarantees no individual firearm rights, it does not mean such rights cannot be secured by statute.

          1. I freely admit my Ninth Amendment theory is not widely held (cf. Hitchens: who else’s opinion would it be.). I believe this is a mistake.

            Scalia went beyond what you assert here by implying that rights not enumerated in the Constitution don’t exist. So much the worse for Scalia. The Ninth Amendment plainly contradicts this.

            Meanwhile, I’ll take the protection afforded by the Heller decision.

            1. “Meanwhile, I’ll take the protection afforded by the Heller decision”

              Congratulations – the seven people murdered instantly in Odessa certainly won’t. If only someone wise could have protected them. If only they could have known to carry “arms”.

        3. ” Roe was decided not long before Heller, and same sex marriage rights were recognized even more recently.”

          Whataboutism at its finest.

          1. I’m implying that Ken’s premise – that recency of decision somehow makes the decision illegitimate – is not something he believes …

            … which he doesn’t – reading back I see that in context, that is not what he was arguing. My apologies for that misreading, Ken.

            1. No problem, Carl. I’m by no means an “originalist” when it comes to interpreting the constitution. Indeed, I don’t have a fully realized theory of constitutional interpretation (beyond a basic pragmatism).

              But we should never lose sight that what we may personally believe to be sound public policy is a different question than what it is that our constitution itself actually guarantees.

              1. I can’t argue with that. I try mightily to recognize my personal biases and how they affect my thought but surely fail every once in a while.

      3. “It wasn’t until 230 years after ratification of the Bill of Rights, and after much recent historical revisionism (undertaken not by historians, but by law professors and lawyers), that SCOTUS held that the Second Amendment guaranteed a right to individual gun ownership and possession, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).”

        Simply not true. There has never been a single case that held that individuals do not have the right to own a gun.

        There has never been a single case, IIRC, that even argued that individuals do not have the right to own a gun.

        The cases argue about the specifics of each individual case, whether the gun rights involve stem from which particular clause of the 2nd, and how that may or may not have implications for the adjudication in each particular case. Basically, this stuff tends to be administrative – state law vs Federal law, etc.

        What we have in Heller is simply the explicit expression of individual gun rights which is the *opposite* of historical revisionism, because it is based on 200 years of case law interpreted pretty darned fairly.

        This is not to say that the case law is straight-forwardly consistent about individual vs militia vs State vs Federal law. It is not. But Heller is not inconsistent with case law. It is not revisionism.

  10. This article addresses the question of the right to bear arms as a personal right vs. a state right (militia). My own reading leads me to conclude that this was intended as a personal right.

    1. The problem is, legal folks and historians can argue all of that stuff forever and at the end of the day…so what. Update yourself. Understand the time period you are reviewing. In the medical world does anyone practice like it was 1790?

      Look at the guns they had in 1790. Look and understand the number of people in the entire country at the time….less than 4 million. How can you hold to such an idea as guns for everyone today. It is insane. In 1790 what did the people do – mostly farming. They hunted for food. They wanted no standing army so they put up with a militia that was not so good in war. We finally gave up on that and created an Army, Marines, Navy, Air force, so what the hell do we need a guy standing in the middle of a city with an assault rifle? Just to protect himself??

      1. You are free to work towards a: a) reversal of Heller; b) constitutional amendment revising the Bill of Rights. Until then, your opinion is one opinion and nothing more.

        1. In other words, just like your opinion eh. Problem is, you just don’t get it. Nobody is saying you cannot have a gun. Hell you can sleep with the thing if you want. What we must have is the right to tell you what type of gun you can have. Get it?

              1. phoffman56 (and helenahankart): (re your remarks to Matt…) Well, that went south in a hurry! Isn’t it interesting that it’s always the progressive, educated, more highly-evolved correspondents who first feel the need to take off the gloves and go for the cheap insults? (Or for that matter, as shown by my berserk FB commenter, threats of lethal violence?)

              2. “ insults..”
                Anyone who reads what I wrote there will realize that the first cheap insult after Matt’s question was that very accusation of me by Brujo. It is not an ad hominem to refer negatively to a person’s written opinions. Read all that Matt has written here, easy enough to do. Then decide for yourself which lethal weapons. I’d prefer none.
                It is the easiest thing in the world for supporter X, of the right to strut around in public with a loaded AR15, to accuse anyone who expresses the opinion that such behaviour ought to be illegal of personally insulting X.

          1. Randall Schenck: “What we must have is the right to tell you what type of gun you can have. Get it?”

            Hey, Randall–ideas are more dangerous than guns, but no one is coming to take away your books. But what we must have is the right to tell you what type of book you can read. Get it?

      2. My point is that a lot of people reasonably think that this is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and aren’t thrilled about the idea that, having done nothing wrong themselves, they might be losing it. And not everyone thinks that it is an archaic right:

        Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear
        arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible. (Hubert Humphrey, 1960)

        1. Yup. History can be so pesky:

          And for those who say that it could never happen here, I offer the words of the philosopher Karl Jaspers:

          “Everywhere in the world I dread that same self-deception which holds that ‘it can’t happen here.’ It can happen anywhere. It becomes unlikely only where the mass of the population is aware of the threat, where there is accordingly no relapse into lethargy, where the character of ‘totalitarianism’ is known and recognized from its very inception and in each of its aspects-as a Proteus which is constantly putting on new masks, which glides out of your grasp like an eel, which does the opposite of what it claims, which perverts the meaning of its words, which speaks, not to impart information, but to hypnotize, divert attention, insinuate, intimidate, dupe, which exploits and produces every type of fear, which promises security while destroying it completely.”

          Note that the quotation is often misattributed to Richard Lawrence Miller, who quoted it at the beginning of his book, Drug Warriors and Their Prey-From Police Power to Police State.)

          Pretty strange that those who say that only the police and military should be armed are the same ones who are complaining that the government is being run by white supremacists.

  11. … state Sen. Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. ‘It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm’.

    Two mass shootings in Texas occurred on the Fort Hood military base, a location not lacking for the deterrent effect of adequate defensive firepower.

    1. Yes, but funny you bring it up. Actually, on all military installations such as Ft. Hood, a solder does not walk around with a gun. Only the MPs (military police) carry weapons. So even the military does not go for open carry, because it is nuts.

      You know the law better than I. So why does it make sense to allow people in a city to walk around with guns when it is illegal to shoot a gun within the city limits?

      1. You’re absolutely right. The military regulates firearms possession and usage far more strictly than do many states. And it’s not just tanks and bazookas– rifles and pistols, little different from those easily available to civilians, are strictly controlled.

      2. “So why does it make sense to allow people in a city to walk around with guns when it is illegal to shoot a gun within the city limits?”

        I would imagine that if you are using that gun for self-defense, it is legal use. Otherwise, there would be no concealed carry permits.

        What is completely crazy to this Vermonter are open carry laws – where people are walking around with loaded rifles slung over their shoulders. It’s needlessly intimidating, provocative, and dangerous. And completely illegal here in Vermont, where you do not even need a permit for concealed carry of a pistol.

        1. “self-defense”

          I wonder if there is a Talmud-level interpretation of “self-defense”

          Can’t any of the shooters claim self-defense?

  12. Given that most of the American public wants stricter gun laws, but the Republicans (pressed by the NRA) apparently want every American to be armed with a semiautomatic rifle that they can carry to Starbucks, these laws make Texas look especially bad.

    IIRC, when Texas passed its law authorizing concealed carry at UT, the bill contained a proviso allowing gun-free zones to be established in areas containing expensive equipment that could be damaged by stray gunfire — meaning, I suppose, that the Starbucks on campus could ban firearms to protect their expensive espresso machines, but not to protect the fungible students drinking Frappuccinos.

    1. Let’s face it Gov Abbott and most of the GOP (including Moscow Mitch) are stooges of the NRA. Period. Unless there is a significant shift in the 2020 elections we are doomed with the NRA as a permanent alternate power in the state. That is: there are now 4 branches of government.
      The worst new law in Texas is the 1177 that allows anyone unlicensed or not to carry a weapon after a natural disaster. You can imagine that every looter will be out on the prowl fully armed. This is insanity at its worst.

  13. I’ve not read Wills’ piece, so perhaps he mentions this, but an important defect in the reasoning of ‘gun rights’ advocates is that to “bear arms” does not mean walking around carrying a gun. To “bear arms” means to be a soldier; in the case of the 2nd Amendment, it specifically means to be a member of the militia. Gun rights advocates have sought to change the meaning of the phrase from it’s English origins, which was well familiar to the Founders.

    The militias do still exist: the National Guard, which is the militia of the several states. The Guard is, of course, well regulated, both by state laws, and by Congress and the President– the Constitution provides for strong Federal control(Art I, sec. 8; Art II, sec. 2) the militias.

    1. The militias you refer to that existed in the 1700s were civilians in the community and mostly had to produce their own rifles. The state was not providing much in the way of powder and shot and weapons. The National Guard you refer to today is a totally different thing. To call it militia is really not correct. Join a national guard and you will be sent off to 6 months training. You will not take home a gun or bring your own gun to use in the guard. Your weapons will be provided just as they are in the regular army. You will be paid for your active time in the guard, usually a weekend once a month plus a summer camp of two weeks.

    2. Historically, the Founders drew the distinction between the militia and the “select militia.” The first was all able-bodied men, who at one time were required to keep arms; the later corresponded to our idea of the National Guard. The Founders were opposed, in general, to a National Guard as being no less dangerous than a standing army. See this article.

    3. As I recall from his TNYRB piece, Wills specifically discusses how the phrase “bear arms” had a specific military meaning in the late 18th century — related to the military command “Present Arms!”

    4. “an important defect in the reasoning of ‘gun rights’ advocates is that to “bear arms” does not mean walking around carrying a gun”

      Pretty darned sure you are 100% wrong about that, according to the SC. They are pretty explicit about it, actually.

      You know, all the objections to Heller, etc that people make, based on the phraseology of the 2nd, are discussed in these latest cases. Seriously, nobody is going to stumble upon a new brilliant parsing of that language which has been missed by the courts lo these 200+ years.

  14. Much of what is going on in America today with this issue did not exist much if you go back 50 or 50 years. I grew up in rural Iowa in the 50s and 60s where hunting and guns were just part of the culture. At that time there was no discussion of rights to own guns that I recall at all. We all hunted with shotguns if we hunted at all. Some guys had rifles but there was very little or no hunting with them. There where no semiautomatic rifles and no AR type weapons at all. I knew very few people who had hand guns and we mostly stayed away from them because they were no used in hunting and they were damn dangerous.

    So the insanity with guns is something much more current in history and is all built on propaganda and lots of bull shit. It is really sickening.

    1. Maybe you didn’t see them ( I never did either) because they were expensive, but the Browning BAR has been available for more than 100 years, and officially launched as a hunting gun in 1967.

      In Vermont, people have been hunting with rifles for 200 years. Almost nobody used a shotgun for deer when I was a kid.

      1. Surely this was a modified BAR – just a semi-automatic 30-06? The “AR” in BAR stands for automatic rifle. Or do you mean available with a special license as Thompson sub-machine guns are now?

        1. The original BAR had a semi-automatic mode as well as full auto. I doubt that anyone ever hunted with them. They weighed 16 pounds, cost $300, – but they were offered to civilians (!) although sales were almost non existent.

          They were not basically illegal until 1934 National Firearms Act. (It was just meant as a comment that semi-autos were available for 100 years).

          The different 1967 BAR hunting rifle never had a full auto mode.

    2. I grew up in a remote county of California around the same time. It was definitely a gun friendly culture. I and most of my friends had our own guns starting around age 10. There were several models of semi-automatic rifles. I had a high capacity .22 semi-automatic at age 12. Hunting was very popular. Hunting deer with a shotgun was illegal unless you used slugs – which are only good at close range. I think most western states prohibit deer hunting with buck shot.

    3. I am not sure that you are going to persuade many people that you hunted deer or even squirrels with a shotgun.
      On the same subject, I have most of my Dad’s guns and all of my grandfather’s. Plenty of semiauto rifles there, and even a number of semiautomatic shotguns. And these are definitely sporting guns, from the 50s and 60s.
      I might conject that there was little talk of gun rights because it was a time when rural folks were unconcerned that anyone would try to disarm them. So there was no need to discuss it.

      1. Good question. My impression is that mass shootings started in the 70s or 80s at a fairly slow rate, and increased slowly ’till it’s reached to a weekly rate. I wonder if there is a historical perspective that could shed some light on the apparent increase in shootings.

        1. This graph below only starts from 1982 – almost four decades. It excludes drug, gang & domestic violence incidents.

          The blue bar indicates fatalities that year & the red bar is the number of incidents that year that led to the fatalities in the blue bar. To both colours of bar there is a trend with an upward slope, although from a statistical perspective the numbers are still too small to overwhelm the noise [hence the spikiness]. We can hope for a better graph if Americans pull their finger out & go for sprees in a big way!

          More seriously… my inexpert, uninformed impression is spree killing has influence factors in it similar to fashion or music i.e. a recent highly publicised spree killing increases the likelihood of another spree killing.

          The idea of going on a spree killing as a means of expression waxes & wanes & the means seems to change [unresearched wild guess incoming] – the store, church or school invasion in black gear is trendy & should notch up more kills than a sniper nutter up a tower [Whitman ’66 Austin] except – you are fortunate that the black clad wannabes today are not proficient in the way Whitman was.

          1. Each one is a tragedy. But it is worth noting that the graph indicates 117 individual deaths in 2018. Most graphs of things that cause fatalities are in thousands, or incidents per 100k population.
            In a nation of 300,000,000+, 117 is a pretty small proportion, especially when proposed solutions are likely to cause significant civil unrest.

            My worry is that there are just more people out there today that consider killing innocent strangers an acceptable practice.

            Also- did you read the Cato article from which the graph was sourced? I found the following passage in the article-
            “The rate of mass shootings in the United States has tripled since 2011, according to an [October 15, 2014] analysis [of Mother Jones’ data] by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Northeastern University.” That press release was not from the Department of Criminology, but from a subsection of the School of Public Health, which specializes in thinly-veiled advocacy of tough gun control laws.”

            1. Yes I read it. I always do the due diligence – so tell me are the figures in the graph wrong Max?

              There are more people out there EVERYWHERE who consider spree killing an activity they want to experiment with & yet the apparently popular sport of homicide is on the decline if looked at zoomed out. What is interesting is comparing the stats for developed nations [say the G7] & seeing how much more ‘sporty’ the USA is compared to everyone else – they like to win the gold medal on violence. The USA is an extreme negative outlier on quite a few metrics to do with law’n’order [see my Japan comment] & there is no doubt that guns are part of the reason.

              Regarding the small percentages overall when speaking of spree intentional firearms homicides – one can think of that as a symptom or just the exposed part of a malignancy that runs underneath the surface of the entire corpus. That how come if you want to survive a gunshot one must arrange to be in [1] the USA or [2] near any western equipped medical facility in a war zone [sometimes 1. & 2. are combined if we include undeclared wars] – the medicos have great experience of bodies shattered by dense bits of metal penetrating flesh at 300 metres per second or so & bouncing around from bone to bone like a squash ball. And the damage is not entirely fixable – I’ve seen the pictures of innocent kids grown up to live with half a jaw & a huge dent in the skull.

              American ER: unparalleled gunshot treatment expertise for the win!

              Overall I’m not impressed by the gun lobby’s refusal to do a tad of the zooming out I mentioned & take some responsibility for the millions of dollars a year they are stuffing into politicians pockets to add inertia to any movement for change. It reminds me of the cigarette lobby of old. Shame.

              1. The NRA/gun lobby seems to have a large portion of the population by the heart strings. And the gun manufacturers have the NRA by the balls.

        2. [A completely unresearched thought coming up] I would like to see a global study by nation of mass killing & serial killing compared to a nation’s involvement in external wars & internal ‘suppressions’.

          Is it generally true that peaceful nations produce peaceful citizens? I can think of one-off exceptions such as Breivik/Norway, but I can balance him with the astonishing stat that Japan/USA are in the ratio 1/26.5 per capita with respect to intentional homicides [by any weapon or none]. Japan hasn’t indulged in foreign adventures for over seven decades.

          1. That’s an excellent point. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some research correlating these things. The USA is a unique culture, that’s for sure. It is young and has a violent recent history and a diverse population, and a vigorous economy, ultra-religious, among many other variables. It’s perceived position as the “leader of the free world” has forced much foreign involvement of every sort.

            1. On the serial killer side: the extensive land mass is a great culture dish for weirdo killers – rather like how the huge Russia/Soviet Union is gradually revealing itself as a lone killer paradise [helped by the standard non-investigation & denials of the deaths/disappearances of nobodies].

              1. That’s an interesting idea. Open spaces like In Cold Blood. Isolated individuals, isolated nuclear families, instead of communal living. Fargo North Dakota, Montana killers living in a lonely cabin. Perhaps.

  15. The whole problem, as others here have alluded to, is a religious problem. C’est-à-dire, an irrational understanding of the Constitution as a holy document. Even with a grade school level of education, reading it you come away with the understanding that the thing must change, was intended to change, was designed to change. Written for 1790, an imbecile would insist that today’s circumstances fit the customs, courtesies, and thinking of those heady days of revolution. And most likely, that’s the problem.

  16. I see defense of self and others as a right guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    How could it not be? If you want to argue a gun isn’t necessary to defend yourself and family OK, but the weakness of this position should be obvious. Try to imagine you don’t live and travel in utterly safe environments and that thugs with bad intent can easily overpower you.

    Perhaps the courts don’t hold my view, but the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment interpretation is the law of the land – just like the Roe decision and others preventing the government or majority from stepping on the individual. We have rule of law in this country.

    1. Every single appeal to self-protection(or protecting one’s family) as a reason to own a gun seems inherently flawed to me: you already live in a society full of guns, I don’t blame you for being concerned about your safety. The guns are the reason you need guns.
      If you’re surrounded by news of mass shootings and news of scary armed blacks and scary armed cops and scary armed everything then you’re caught in a spiral. You’re going to want a gun too.

      The aim should be – it seems to me anyway – to get society out of the situation where you feel the need to own one in the first place. And that means gradual gun control so you eventually reach a point where you’re not so frightened that you feel the need to be armed.

      1. Society has gotten ever safer and more peaceful, at the same time there is an ever growing number of guns present. I am not claiming this is a causal relation. But it demonstrates “more guns = more problems” is false.

        I don’t fall under “so frightened that you feel the need to be armed” any more than I am so frightened my car will crash that I feel the need to wear a seat belt. I just do both on the slight chance I will be better off.

        What is your proposal for “gradual gun control” given the country is saturated with guns right now? One obstacle that never gets accounted for is that criminals ignore laws.

        1. I don’t have a proposal. I’m not a politician. But if you’re saying that gradually scaling back the number of guns in a society is somehow impossible then that sounds like bollocks to me.
          It sounds like you don’t actually want to live in a society that doesn’t need guns. And that’s the scary part.

          “Society has gotten ever safer and more peaceful, at the same time there is an ever growing number of guns present. I am not claiming this is a causal relation. But it demonstrates “more guns = more problems” is false.”

          That really isn’t the way statistics work.

        2. The number of guns in the US is increasing but the number of Americans who own those guns is decreasing. More guns are owned by fewer people, at least on paper. Cases of firearms are being sold to single individuals, every month, who then sell them privately. Those guns can’t be tracked thanks to the NRA and Republicans who passed a law to have the sellers shred paperwork.

          The number of homicides in the USA has been decreasing, as it has in most every other country. The homicide rate in the US did tick up for two years as most other countries went down.

          Part of the reason why gun homicides have decreased in the US is the shear number of shootings, American hospital emergency rooms have gotten to be the best in the world at saving shooting victims, they get so much practice.

          America still has one of the highest homicide rates in the Western world. There is no arguing that guns are efficient killing machines. That is exactly what they were designed for.

          Guns also kill and wound indiscriminately, those who are the target and those who are not. Even police officers who practice regularly often miss their target, sometimes shooting innocent. Civilians do it much more often. One of the reasons is civilians aren’t trained to adjust for adrenaline rush, so are subject to tunnel vision, shaking and loss of fine motor control during fight or flight response.

          As our host Mr. Coyne pointed out, myriad of studies show your gun is far more likely to kill you or a family member than to be used as self defense.

          I don’t agree with Mr. Coyne that guns need to be severely restricted, but it is quite clear to me that the USA’s gun culture is not focused on safety and responsibility. Guns are often viewed as multi purpose tools and entertainment, they are left lying around children. Gun owners often cry about personal responsibility but when they are negligent they claim it was “just a tragic accident”, even the police and press often claim that, even after toddlers find a loaded gun and kill themselves or someone else.

          Other first world countries don’t have to remind citizens every year not to shoot into hurricanes, or not to shoot into the sky on July 4th. But then other countries arrest firearm owners who leave their loaded firearms for toddlers to find. In the USA, only about half the states require firearm owners to keep unsupervised guns locked up around children. Many of those have no actual penalties for those who don’t, and because the law is there without penalties, there is no point in charging them. Even when children are dead.

          No other country in the world regularly has toddlers shooting people. One would think that would be a wake up call to have national law requiring unsupervised guns to be locked up around children.
          But it isn’t. In fact the NRA apposed such laws at every turn. They talk about personal responsibility but in fact lobby against it.

          1. I don’t dispute most of what you write (excepting my gun is more likely to kill me than to be used in self defense, and beyond the question of personal competence, it isn’t true statistically when you count defenses where the gun is not fired.)

            You do point at something I think would save some lives. Some minority of gun owners are careless and unsafe in their handling, storage, or shooting of guns. Maybe some emphasis on safe and unsafe practices through public service adds would have an effect. Whatever flaws the NRA may have, it does strongly promote a culture of safe gun use. That’s a direction the wider society should go.

            1. Carl, you seem content to use stats from studies when it supports you but you casually dismiss them when they do not.

              As for “Some minority of gun owners are careless and unsafe…”, some minority can be 50% minus 1.

              In the US almost any idiot can buy a gun and they frequently do.

              1. I really try to avoid dismissing stats. That is not the same as thinking a stat doesn’t apply to me or thinking they are not important to the issue at hand.

                I would be happy to prevent “any idiot” from buying a gun. I ask only that any proposal has a good way of determining those idiots and doesn’t affect the rest of the population.

        3. I am guessing that the number of mass shootings per year is increasing. Just newspaper headline reading.

          The circularity between “good citizens with guns” and criminals with guns is the confounding factor. No doubt, when everyone fears for their lives the “good guys” will get guns for self defense and that will be a natural check on the bad guys. But do we want that equilibrium?

          Consider Canada, a frontier country culturally similar to the US. In Canada gun ownership is more constrained than in the US. Far fewer “good citizens with guns.” But the Canadian crime rate and gun homicide rate is a fraction of that in the US. Are we to believe there are just fewer bad guys in Canada? If so, give a good reason why.

          1. Yes, Canada has much lower violent crime rates than the U.S. Though similar to the U.S. in some ways, the differences are great in other ways. I’m not sure what conclusions can be drawn from the comparison.

            The U.S. has a large, ethnically diverse population. Canada is small by comparison. The U.S. rebelled – at great risk to life and fortune – against its colonial master, Canada didn’t. The U.S. was tainted by slavery in a way Canada was not. In these ways Brazil is much more like the United States, yet Brazil has far fewer guns (factor of 18), much stricter gun laws, and much more violent crime than the U.S (four time the gun murders). Obviously Brazil is much poorer. I can’t draw any useful conclusions from this either.

          2. “Are we to believe there are just fewer bad guys in Canada?”

            Well, we all know Canadians are much more polite. I’m not sure what we can conclude from that either.

            1. An interesting Canadian-American comparison is the way each took to the metric system which was mandated in both countries about the same time. Canadians accepted the change and have used the superior metric system since. Not so with recalcitrant, individualistic America, the mandate was rolled back.

              1. I was horrified, and then exasperated when that happened. What did I do to deserve this! I gave up the meter, defined rationally based on 10s, which is based on fingers, and gave in to the yard which is based on the length of a man’s belt or girdle (which is based on diet and exercise). Fingers or girdle…I suppose it’s just a matter of taste.

      2. “The guns are the reason you need guns.”

        As far as I can tell, unloaded guns do not harm people. It takes people to load them and shoot them.

        And I am not trying to be cute.

        The fact is, in the US, the percentage of guns, and the percentage of gun owners, who are used to harm someone besides the owner is a rounding error to zero.

        The vast vast majority of guns and gun owners will never do anything untoward against someone else.

        We have a big problem in this country, but it involves a very small percentage of the guns and gun owners. And the Constitutional rights of individual gun owners has never been stronger in the entire history of the nation.

        So, the question is – what can we do about the problem and more importantly – what should we do about this problem considering it has a huge political aspect?

  17. Obviously, none of these changes factored in Saturday’s shooting spree. Seth Ator had a felony charge, but it was plea-bargained down so it would not appear on a rap sheet — thus not on any firearms purchase background check.

    As for the new laws…

    HB 1143: previously, anyone who needed to park at a school could not exercise their carrying privilege to and fro the parking lot. It does not permit open or concealed carry on school grounds;

    HB 1387: refers to trained marshals, who pose no threat of instigating mass shootings;

    HB 2363: the right to safely keep keep arms in the home, already afforded natal parents, is extended to foster parents;

    HB 302: prohibits housing discrimination based on gun ownership;

    HB1177: is an extremely reasonable provision, one which even anti-gun California allows;

    SB 535: apparently removes a blanket ban in favor of allowing each house of worship to decide. NB: CNN’s editorializing ignores the fact that the existing ban was clearly worthless in stopping the Sutherland Springs shooter, or that an armed passerby was credited with killing the shooter.

    Following every shooting by either a criminal or a mentally ill individual, the Left, rather than advocating for stronger mental health services or the closing of background check loopholes, instead calls for yet more restrictions on gun ownership by sane, law-abiding citizens. As these restriction are completely ineffectual in keeping weapons out of the hands of the very people who commit the mass shootings, one must conclude that the Left’s true motivation is to wage a Kulturkampf against ‘bitter clingers’ and ‘deplorables’ who enjoy a different — thus, in their minds, degenerate — lifestyle.

    1. Yes, damn lefties
      “Over 30 years ago, when Reagan was elected President in 1980, he discarded a law proposed by his predecessor that would have continued funding federal community mental health centers. This basically eliminated services for people struggling with mental illness.”

      I witnessed this first hand. Yes, I am old.

    2. Other than having my views divined because I’m “on the left” I agree. This set of laws seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      Matt, I suggest rather than using the given name of these glory seeking criminals, substitute a phrase like “the scumbag who …” or “the pathetic individual that …”

      Suppressing the names of these miscreants will run into constitutional problems, just like so many of the other favored solutions. However, as individuals we can censor ourselves.

  18. I suspect many Texans want to right-shift their state back to the 1880 when the West was known as the Wild West. It may stem from a deep sense of masculine insecurity compensated for by clinging to the imagery of the rough, tough cowboys of olden times.

        1. I suspect the male legislators had plenty of experience with the need for justifiable homicide as well as hookers.

        2. Holy fucking hell. You couldn’t make that up!

          Earlier you said “Texas might as well close the circle by allowing open carry in mental institutions.”

          To which I replied
          “I thought they already did. (Oops. Apparently Texas is NOT a mental institution. Well, well, you learn something every day”.

          Then I thought that was cheap snark and deleted my comment, but really, I’m having trouble conceiving of any comment that’s too snarky to apply.


          1. There is value in Texas being a leader in regressive laws. It can be used as a test case (and is, of course). If after making guns more widely available and carrying them everywhere a duty, we should see crime, and mass shootings, plummet. We can compare to the most restrictive states and declare a winner. Then, we can go back to congress with common sense legislation. Wait, didn’t we already do that?

    1. Psycho-sexual generalizations about gun owners are not productive. Are you imputing that I, too, yearn for the Wild West (I am a ‘cowboy’ living in former Gold Rush country, after all) due to my masculine insecurity?

      1. I didn’t mean to offend you personally. I’m trying to come up with a possible reason a state like Texas stands out as a place where common sense gun laws don’t seem so common sense. Something about the recency of the frontier experience, and the loss of the need for masculine strength within a modern technological workplace. Can you suggest other reasons?

        1. Phrasing it that way is a reasonable and interesting question. I’m not from Texas, but grew up in a former wild West town that saw a lot of historical lawlessness and violence. Physical strength and endurance were assets in my town where the best jobs (logging, hauling hay, splitting firewood) required them, and the more the better. Believe me, I felt no loss of masculinity transitioning to intellectually stimulating work in an office.

          A more likely, though still imperfect explanation is that sufficient open space provides opportunity to use guns, to hunt or just shoot for fun. So indeed, someone who knows guns and is comfortable around them will find your “common sense” frustrating if not ignorant.

  19. “For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”

    Given this balance, what’s the justification for allowing people to keep guns in their homes?

    To argue for the restriction or banning of legal gun ownership, the only valid comparison is between ‘effective’ use vs. accidental injuries or deaths with legally-owned guns. ‘Effective use’ should also include instances of deterrence where either no discharge or casualty occurred, as well as necessary use against non-human threats.

    Criminal use of guns is a separate discussion, as it should go without saying that restrictive gun laws have no impact on those with disregard for the law.

    As I noted on another thread, limiting access to guns does not reduce suicide rates. Individuals intent on killing themselves will eventually do so by one means or another. Despite its proliferation of guns, the US suicide rate is about the median, and lower than several nations with much stricter gun laws, including Japan, which has the highest suicide rate in the world despite only a few thousand gun owners.

    I am a gun owner (apparently the only one here at present.) Severe or total restrictions on gun ownership would directly impact me. I’d like to hear from those of you advocating such precisely why I, Matt Cavanaugh, have no need or right to own a gun. A fruitful discussion would distinguish between various gun types. I’ll begin with a very succinct justification: lions, tweakers, and bears, oh my.

    1. “I’d like to hear from those of you advocating such precisely why I, Matt Cavanaugh, have no need or right to own a gun.”

      For much the same reasons that literally billions of people on earth have no need or right to own one.

      Nevertheless, you’ve skipped to a strawman. The changes currently being suggested are microscopic. No-one in power is coming for your guns.
      So how about telling us why the kinds of tiny changes being discussed are so unreasonable that they don’t even warrant genuine consideration?

      1. That is always what the gun lobby comes down to. They want to take away my gun. It is very lame and incorrect. Regulating guns and eliminating others is not taking your gun away. So the argument does not exist.

          1. Yes, they should do a background check on all those killed in mass shootings and see if they deserved to die. If so… the gun has adjusted their life trajectory as a community service. If not… collateral damage?

            My point, the primal urge to see something, living or inanimate, die, shatter, cease to move, for a subjective thrill, is in my opinion not a way forward in, or to, a progressive and relatively healthy society.
            I would never take your gun, but like smoking is to personal health, unfettered access to guns is bad for a peaceful progressive society.

            There are multiple problems on the planet to slay perhaps more worthy of killing off, shattering, dropping in its tracks than defending a tool of violence and a right to own it. It requires great energy because as you drop one there is another.
            ‘Rights’ can be preverse in what they achieve, such is human nature, but we all know this.

        1. Mr. Schenck, I must ask, what planet do you live on? Because here in California, I hear this EVERY damned day. Of course there are many people who want to take away every single gun; just ASK them. Here, this appeared on my FB feed just today:

          “Guns are used to kill…no other reason. Our society has developed past the need for guns…all guns should be illegal and those who choose to use a gun should be put in front of a firing squad.”

          Would you like a few thousand more such statements?

          1. Assuming Mr. Feo’s quote is from a genuine (if pathetically stupid) opponent of the rampant gun culture in US, and is not just another case of lying misdirection, two things stand out:
            (1) Another case of insisting on a ‘perfect’, and making it an enemy of the ‘good’
            (2) Others have presumably noticed how raucous the following is, being almost a logical contradiction: “…all guns should be illegal and those who choose to use a gun should be put in front of a firing squad.”
            (I’m assuming the squad is not using firecrackers instead of guns!)

            1. OK, phoffman56, here is the entire exchange (so far). If you think that I would be bothered making this stuff up, I can’t help you. But I aver to you that this isn’t even an unusual exchange:

              MS: Guns are used to kill…no other reason. Our society has developed past the need for guns…all guns should be illegal and those who choose to use a gun should be put in front of a firing squad.

              BF: So, [MS]…let me see if I understand this. Those who want to use guns should be shot…by people with guns. But then, of course, having manifested a desire to use guns, THOSE people would also need to be shot. But who is going to be doing all this shooting, since they’re all already dead?

              Am I missing something in your dissertation?

              MS: Yes, you missed alot…I didn’t say they should be shot; I’m all for using a fire thrower to burn their f*$*ing asses to a crisp. Mike Drop!

              BF: [MS]: I’m sorry, I should have inquired as to what your first language was, since in English, a “firing squad” refers only to execution by firearms–it has nothing to do with flame-throwers. But I’m glad to hear that, all in the interest of “common sense gun laws,” you’ve figured out how to kill…well, about 30% of the U.S. adult population. Sounds reasonable.

              * * * * *

              The statement that “no one is trying to take your guns” is patently ridiculous. Of course they are. Just ask them.

              1. Brujo Feo:

                The statement that “no one is trying to take your guns” is patently ridiculous. Of course they are. Just ask them.

                And if I ask you who is “them” Brujo, you will not reply “the people who are trying to take our guns of course!”? 🙂

                A serious question then: in addition to the loon in your anecdote who is the “them” you speak of?

              2. Michael Fisher, if you count calls for bans or outlawing certain firearms, a number of commenters here are on record.

                Someone as reasonable as our host has endorsed Scotland’s gun laws prohibiting all handguns and semi-automatic (and pump action!) center-fire rifles. Such a law would take away my guns or more likely, turn me into an outlaw.

              3. Outlawing [to civilians] a class of weapons isn’t what I’m asking about Carl, but good point. I am asking who “them” or “they” are who wish to take away all firearms from civilians.

                I assume you are from the US Carl – there is no chance that the US will move in the direction of UK firearms regulations, so realistically who within the US context is calling for a total civilian firearms ban? Any politicians?

              4. Michael Fisher, The fact no politician may be calling for a *total* ban is not comforting. I worry about partial bans and other restrictions I feel are ill conceived and injurious. Is there a point to distinguishing the extreme (banning assault weapons) from the radical extreme (banning all firearms)?

              5. Yes of course there is a point in defining what the claim is that being made. It’s good to know what we are talking about exactly or conversation is not worth bothering with. On the matter of guns – conversation stops quickly because clarity is not valued enough.

              6. Michael Fisher, Fair enough. I define taking guns away, not as “taking all guns away,” but “taking or banning any gun legally in common usage.” Seriously, when I say a thief took my money, do you think I mean he got every penny?

              7. Fair question, Michael Fisher. Although I suspect that you already know the answer.

                Let’s start with Dianne Feinstein: “If I could have gotten 51 votes for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn em all in,’ I would have done it.”

                Now, she makes a pretty good argument that she was referring only to “assault weapons,” whatever that might mean, not all guns (like that’s supposed to make me feel better–LOTS of the current presidential candidates are talking about mandatory buy-backs), but the argument is undermined by her also saying this: “Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.” (Oh, and yes, she herself hasd a CCW permnit. Because, you know, HER life means something…)

                How about Barack Obama, speaking to John Lott (oy, don’t me started on THAT fool–I mean Lott): “Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.”

                How about Eric Swalwell?

              8. I don’t like this style of commentary – if you can supply the quotes then why not the source links too? Please supply the links – I always do so when I quote someone! And what about Eric Swallwell anyway? Finish that thought – from a Brit standpoint it’s just a non sequitur sitting there on the page.

              9. Michael Fisher: I agree; I generally prefer to give all of the citations. But this is either a WordPress thing or a preference set by our host; I don’t know which, but I’ve run into it before: a comment with multiple URLs gets stuck in an “awaiting moderation” limbo.

                In any case, the cited quotations are all easily available by just typing the words into a search window.

                As for Swalwell? I think that any Dem in the U.S. (we *were* discussing laws *in the U.S.*, weren’t we?) would know exactly who he was and why he’s no longer a candidate. As for how the apparent “non sequitur” appears to a Brit, I would point out only that I assiduously avoid any opinion on how you run things over there. (Not easy in the age of Boris, but still…) During the time I lived there, and my visits since, I considered myself a guest and stayed out of your politics.

              10. Thanks, Brujo, for the details.

                In this context, I might ask you:
                If 100s of 1000s of people are on each of the sides of a debate, and if you can find even one such person on the side you disagree with, but a person who happens to write like an utter idiot, do you actually regard that fact as any kind of decent argument in your favour?
                It seems you do here.
                Or is it merely an attempted diversion by you?

              11. To phoffman56: “…and if you can find even one such person on the side you disagree with…”

                Your criticism would certainly be well taken if the cited remarks were in any way an outlier. But they’re not. I get the same sorts of threats of violence regularly.

                You know, by pretending that those folks *are* unusual, you do sound rather like the Islamic apologists who tell us that Islam is the “religion of peace,” and IS and Al Queda and the Taliban and and and and…well, that’s not *real* Islam.

            2. Well, Brujo, you did not answer my question, either with one of my two suggestions, nor with a third. So it seems likely that “diversion” is an answer—you introducing this nonsense about “Islamic apologists” could not be a more blatant example of that tactic.
              By the way, it would be a very simple job for you to peruse my occasional wading in on various topics of this non-blog to determine pretty accurately my positions re violent islamism, face coverings, and similar.

      2. Let’s first get these advocated ‘microscopic’ changes on the record. Our host suggests implementing Scotland’s gun laws in the US — is that also yours? If not, what do you propose?

        1. I wasn’t aware that Jerry’s suggestions were being proposed by the Democrats or gun-control campaigners. The latter were the changes I was talking about, changes which AFAICS are tiny, incremental changes. All of which have been dismissed by right-wingers.

          So give it a go. What’s so unacceptable about them? I’m genuinely mildly interested.

            1. I haven’t proposed anything – I’m an Englishman, I know very little about this subject. (And we’re rather introverted as a nationality – we don’t just propose to anyone.)

              Really, I was just hoping you could educate me; perhaps explain the total intransigence that appears – to my naive English brain – to follow every incremental pro-gun-control proposal made by Democrats. But you seem curiously reluctant to actually answer anything. It’s all rather odd.

              Oh well. I’m sure there’s a good faith explanation.

              1. The same way you managed to comment on strawman legislation that doesn’t exist I suppose.

    2. It appears you did perhaps read the Discover article. If so, your statement “that people intent on killing themselves” I believe is misleading. “Intent on” being the key phrase. As explained in that article, those who try with guns are much more likely to succeed. Many who try are not quite as intent as others. Bad relationships, drug and alcohol dependency and other states can change. I call foul and confirmation bias.

    3. Murali. Thanks for that 44 second video clip from a Feb. 5, 1995 segment on CBS News’ 60 Minutes with correspondent Lesley Stahl. It is a suspiciously short clip – it’s deception in action – that clip has been used a few times by one side to falsely paint the other side as extremists. Dianne Feinstein is actually a relative moderate on weapon regulation – in the 60 Minutes program she is speaking of assault weapons & only assault weapons:

      “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in,’ I would have done it, I could not do that. The votes weren’t here”

      Feinstein repeated that message in a speech on the Senate floor a few months later:

      “If I had my way, I would ban the possession of assault weapons anywhere in the United States of America, but there were not going to be the votes for that. This is a moderate law”

      In a 2012 op-ed, she wrote:

      “Let me be clear: If an individual wants to purchase a weapon for hunting or self-defense, I support that right”


      1. What is deceptive about the posted Feinstein clip? I clearly understood she was talking about “assault weapons.”

        She wanted to ban and confiscate AR-15 and similar rifles. That is not some mild, innocuous proposal as you seem to think. Feinstein, as you portray her is not a moderate on gun control. Outlawing and confiscating guns that are common and highly popular is not moderate.

        1. Carl. YOU realise its about assault weapons, but Cox of the NRA used it as evidence that she wanted ALL guns banned, and LOTS of people believed him. You obviously didn’t bother to read the helpful link I provided!

          And yes she is a moderate, but not a moderate from where you sit on the spectrum. It’s relative to the observer frame thus we both can be ‘right’ on that.

          1. I had never seen the clip before (or don’t remember). Just from the short content it is obvious what guns she is talking about.

            Cox’s misquote of Feinstein was a stupid lie and wholly unneeded (and does not make the clip deceptive – good grief). The frame of reference (you mentioned before) of the NRA audience is such that banning AR-15s gets their full attention.

            1. Cox & his many lies is pertinent & can’t be dismissed that easily. That clip is deceptive – it removes the context of assault weapons being the only topic on the table in the ’60 minutes’ chat. A chat that went on for quite a few minutes more than just the sub-one minute shown here.

              It’s all about the spin when gun control is the subject.

            2. Sounds like you are still defending Cox’s and the NRA’s position in spite of the obvious deceit in their argument.

              1. What about restrictions? You can have ARs in Canada but they are a restricted weapon. You can also have hand guns but they are also restricted and you can’t carry it in public but you can still use it for recreation. You are restricted in its transport.

              2. What about restrictions?

                It depends on the restriction. But I’m against most I’ve heard. When thinking up a policy idea remember murder and assault are illegal already. How likely is it someone intent on robbery, murder, or assault will be phased by carry or transport restrictions? The only people affected are the law abiding, and I hope it’s obvious why we don’t want to be burdened by some statute that will have no positive effect.

              3. So making it more difficult to acquire high-powered weapons is a burden on you? Why? Can’t you pass a background check?

              4. tomh: “So making it more difficult to acquire high-powered weapons is a burden on you? Why? Can’t you pass a background check?”

                1) The AR in .223 is hardly high-powered, even compared to your average deer rifle in 30.06 or .308 Winchester.

                2) Surely you’re aware that none of the calls for a new “AWB” contemplate exemptions for those who *do* pass such a check. I mean–you know that, right?

              5. tomh,

                So making it more difficult to acquire high-powered weapons is a burden on you? Why? Can’t you pass a background check?

                Your petty personal remarks, illogical arguments, and assuming facts not in evidence are tiresome.

                Do you understand the difference between opposing most restrictions and all? When I wrote “it depends on the restriction” I said I opposed bans on AR-15s, nothing about background checks. Could I pass one? Use the clairvoyant powers you seem to think you possess, then opt for the opposite.

              6. If it stops one more woman from being shot by her infant in a walmart, I’m not against restricting carrying firearms around at all.

              7. If it stops one more woman from being shot by her infant in a walmart, I’m not against restricting carrying firearms around at all.

                I don’t agree. Preventing one accidental death is not justification for stepping on a fundamental right. A better and more effective measure might be to shift all the animosity over divisive gun control efforts to a public gun safety education program.

                If you are talking of the Idaho incident, the mother committed a huge safety violation: Never leave a gun where a child (or anyone you don’t explicitly intend) can reach it. Imagine a TV spot re-enacting the incident and pointing out what was done wrong. Personally, I think carrying in a purse is generally a bad idea.

              8. Yes yes we all are aware of gun safety. What I find more interesting is that you feel the right of individuals to carry a deadly weapon around in a civilian setting is more important than preventing the injury of those around you which is heightened considerably especially as more and more people do it. All for what? For protection in Walmart? I really can’t understand why one would want to increase the risk of harm by carrying a loaded firearm. And BTW, I”m a gun owner.

              9. Why? Don’t you understand that they represent something very unpleasant and dangerous? What possible justification can their be for owning one? Obviously it’s not for hunting, target practice, or any kind of clean, wholesome fun like shooting rats at the town dump. Even if you are not a gun nut, your defense of these weapons facilitates gun nuts.

              10. RickFlick,

                What possible justification can their be for owning one?

                “I want one” is all the justification I need in this free country. The same justification there is for saying what I wish.

                The reason I want one is because they are light, accurate, and have little recoil. The ammunition is relatively inexpensive. I own it primarily for home defense. I also use it for target shooting and competition, hunting, and shooting rats.

                As for encouraging gun nuts, shift your argument to speech. It should be obvious that defending any cherished right will have some ill effects. I suppose you are aware that 1.5 million AR-15s were bought in the lead up to the 1995 assault weapons ban going into effect? Serious talk about gun restrictions spikes gun and ammunition sales every time.

              11. “It should be obvious that defending any cherished right will have some ill effects.”

                Ah, yes, one has to accept a few minor inconveniences to protect our precious cherished rights. For some reason that reminds me of the Florida sheriff who, when a baby died because the parents refused medical care on religious grounds, commented, “A few dead babies are the cost of protecting our religious freedom.”

        2. From my spectral position, Feinstein is a moderate. Assault weapons are a psychological entity with no practical use to anyone. Whether it’s actually fully automatic or not, it’s the go-to weapon for crazies and near crazies who need to wrap their hands around a Rambo type symbol of power. The attempt to find justification for an AR-15 in the 2nd amendment says a lot more about the gun owner’s mental state than about the people looking for a solution to the constant stream of preventable tragedies.

  20. Mass shootings in peacetime is a sport in which the USA unquestionably leads the world. Even here, though, the mass shootings account for only a small fraction of firearms deaths. International statistics on firearms deaths, broken down into several categories, are informative, and in some areas surprising:

    It is no surprise that the gun homicide rate in the USA dwarfs that in every other high-income country. On the other hand, the world leaders in deaths and homicides by firearms are Honduras and Venezuela, with rates in each category 4-6 times greater than the USA. Honduras presumably represents widespread gang criminality, while Venezuela enjoys the joint blessings of criminality combined with Socialism. Rates are high in many countries of the American continent, except Cuba, Chile, and Canada. In most countries of the New World, the high firearms death rate is heavily dominated by homicides, except the US and Uruguay, where homicides and suicides are both well represented. In some other countries (e.g. Finland, Denmark, Austria, Croatia) the firearms death rate is heavily dominated by suicides rather than by homicides.

    These statistics are presumably generated mostly by handguns rather than long guns. It is noteworthy that Israel and Switzerland, where firearms possession really is linked to a well-regulated militia (unlike our 2nd amendment’s phantom militia), both have gun death rates much lower than the USA.

    1. What’s more is there is no possible way a “good guy with a gun” is keeping the number low in other countries- or indeed in the United States – if that number could be construed as “low”.

      If self-defense is to be an argument for gun ownership, there needs to be a quota for number of bad guys killed, or even hours worked on security detail, and some accountability for the DIY militia.

    2. “the gun homicide rate in the USA dwarfs that in every other high-income country.”

      The US is only “high-income” because income figures are averages. The fact is, the US has a huge amount of poverty and very little safety net compared to the rest of the high-income world.

      We also have the problem of having pretty rotten gun crime statistics thanks to the Republican party.

      Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that the majority of gun homicides in the US are drug and gang related. And that leads one to suspect that in fact income disparity is an important root cause.

  21. As I’ve posted here before, I have owned firearms in the UK and Canada since the age of seventeen. I’m perfectly content with a slow and difficult process of gaining approval for ownership, in fact I prefer it. Someone who needs a gun in a hurry is often someone who needs it for all the wrong reasons. Most of my firearms aren’t terribly practical – I like muzzle loaders and black powder. By the same token, they wouldn’t be too useful for robbing a bank or committing mass murder. I and my firearms are relatively harmless and I’d be saddened if I were unable to satisfy myself I could still hit the mark because of an overly restrictive law.
    I now realise, of course, that since you have recently discovered my straight razors and use of antique film cameras, the addition of muzzle loaders might seem to confirm a pattern. It’s true, I’ll confess it right away: vinyl and tubes are the way to go.

  22. Some of the commenters in this thread remind me of an interesting fact: Grape Nuts contains neither grapes nor nuts.

    I wish the same could be said for this thread….

  23. It’s hard for a nonUSian not to descend into an abyss of black humour, darkly imagining the entire population there themselves descending into an extreme, but fortunately non-international, gun-fuelled shooting orgy, leaving so few, but all incompetent, left alive there, so few that the rest of us need no longer fear for the human species’ survival from either thermonuclear war nor from climate change, at least not from any brought on by two others of the USians’ well-known mass lunacies.

    US exemptionalism, oops, sorry, I meant exceptionalism, does indeed exist, but not exactly in the form envisioned by Reagan etc.

    1. My cynical / sarcastic take too. “At least they’re only killing each other, which is vastly preferable to going and killing anybody else.”

      I think we should just nuke the whole benighted country from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. 😉


  24. Those who argue against gun control keep saying that the problem is not guns but mental health. For the sake of discussion, let’s pretend they are correct. To identity people with mental health problems that would preclude them from owning guns and to treat them properly would cost billions. Have I missed the Republicans, such as Mitch McConnell, offering the legislation to deal with the problem? Why isn’t the NRA prodding the Republicans? And if such people are identified, wouldn’t they have appeal rights? This would necessitate an expansion of the court system. In other words, dealing with mental health effectively as a way to reduce gun violence would create a new, massive bureaucracy that would make any small government conservative shudder. A person would have to be a fool to take a mental health solution seriously that comes from a gun lover. It’s a total red herring.

    1. As pointed out by others mass shootings account for only a fraction of gun related homicides. Even if I were to agree that they were all mentally ill as another commenter stated (and I don’t agree), most homicides happen because someone is angry, a gun is handy and a gun is an efficient killing machine.

      If the answer (as put out by the NRA and many Republicans) is more guns, then there is a problem. Contrary to the NRA’s propaganda, both open carry and concealed carry holders have been responsible for murders. More than just a few. Good guys with guns lose their temper and become bad guys with guns.

      So for every X number of more armed citizens, we need X number more armed citizens to protect us from the last batch of armed citizens.

      The obvious problem is every adult in the US will soon be armed, a percentage of them will at some point in time get angry and shoot one or more people.

      With all these guns, it’s clear a single armed teacher for every thirty students won’t be enough firepower. It’s unreasonable that children can’t protect themselves, after all, the 2nd doesn’t say there’s an age limit. Children will have to be armed with guns.

      Since children aren’t as developed emotionally or intellectually as adults and tend to have less control, a larger percentage of them will likely become bad children with guns.

      The USA will need to increase immigration, naturalize them and issue them guns so they can offset the bad children with guns. Remember, according to the NRA more people with guns is safer.

      In about 30 years almost every person on Earth will live inside the borders of the United States, always armed to the teeth and on constant, unremitting, unrelenting guard against being shot by good guys with guns turned out to be bad guys with guns.

      Only then will we be safe.

  25. I’d say that the militias as a defence against one’s government was at best a secondary consideration. A more likely reason was fear of slave revolts such as what was taking place in Haiti at the same time as the second amendment was being drafted.

      1. The failed prison escape with soapy gub is fun too.

        One improvement in this JAC post over previous JAC gub posts is nobody has turned up in comments to lecture us bozos on firearms technical distinctions & other ruddy coloured North Pacific & North Atlantic Ocean fishes. I can actually feckin breathe in & out without the weight of idiocy bearing down on my diaphragm. Nice.

        1. That’s great, I hadn’t seen that in ages. I laughed a lot, the neighbours might be alarmed.

          Reminds me of watching all the Woody Allen movies with my dad – it’s one of the fond memories I have of him. I still think Sleeper(alongside Withnail) is probably my favourite comedy of all-time.

    1. It’s really amazing that the entire congress can be bought for just $5.12m. With 535 members of congress, that would be less than $10,000 per member. Don’t they come cheap? The 2019 figure (so far) looks like there might be a shift looming.

  26. Estimates of the number of firearms in civilian hands per capita, taken from an international small arms survey, are at: .

    I haven’t plotted these data against that for gun deaths per capita, but cursory inspection of the two tables shows surprisingly little correlation. For example, Honduras, the champion for gun deaths, has guns per capita similar to Australia, which has a low rate of gun deaths; Brazil, with high gun deaths, has
    fewer guns per capita than Denmark, with low deaths; the USA does have by far the highest per capita gun ownership, but the top 10 in this regard also includes Finland, Canada, and Cyprus, with relatively low gun deaths. Of course, the guns per capita data might be unreliable. But if not, the poor correlation doesn’t seem to support either side in the gun controversies.

    1. It isn’t really that surprising Jon that there isn’t a simple correlation between per capita civilian firearms ownership & homicides/suicides. As you say yourself [implied in your militia comment re Israel etc] some nations have many guns, but the owners are responsible & trained – that’s serious training in a military framework, not firing range wannabe schools & gun shop wannabe schools.

      Therefore it is obvious that trying to correlate civilian ownership figures to homicide figures cannot possibly “…support either side in the gun controversies” on its own. We know already to avoid trying that particular correlation exercise, but we can be smarter & use all that data & plug in more contextual dimensions & then the mystery begins to fall away.


      Just looking at Brazil as an example the figure is via “expert estimates” & nearly all the numbers for all the nations are from the SMALL ARMS SURVEY organisation based in Geneva [as you do say] & it’s a far more interesting source than the Wiki.

      One aspect is that firearms per capita isn’t useful, it would be better to know how the pool of civilian firearms is distributed [or not] throughout the population. Thus, although the per capita civilian firearms figure for Brazil is reasonably average it isn’t the polite, well behaved José Públicos who have the weapons, in fact all the Josés in Brazil are clamouring for increased access to guns & to be able to bear those guns in more places. They are scared & they are moving to the right because they are scared.

      Brazil is awash with civilian owned guns designed for killing people & they’re almost entirely in the hands of gangs who will use them as soon as blinking. Guns flood across the borders into the hands of exactly the wrong people.

      The knee jerk reaction is to liberalise gun ownership because it wins votes, the rational approach [which you can’t implement with getting votes first] is long term & difficult/near impossible – a task hardly anybody takes seriously & probably will not happen.

      That’s why people die from bullets too often in Brazil despite the not outrageous civilian gun ownership figures.

  27. Those figures from the WaPo were seriously misleading where they aren’t actually false. According to statistics from the FBI, DOJ, CDC and UN’s Commission on Drugs and Crime, some 30,000 Americans every year are killed every year by gunfire (compared to 40,000 per year killed by vehicles), of which 30,000 are suicides. Of the remaining 10,000, at least 500 are “justifiable homicides” — crooks shot in the act by police *or civilians* — and all of two are accidents. This is out of a population of 330 million. At the same time, American civilians *prevent crimes by defensive use of a firearm* — usually just by showing it — between *2.5 and 3 million times per year.* That is what civilian-owned guns are good for.

    Those foreign countries which boast that they have so few firearms deaths don’t mention that they have higher *total* homicide rates than we do. According to the UN, the US has only the 111th-highest homicide-rate *in the world* — out of a field of 193 countries. And BTW, the suicide rate in supposedly gun-free Japan is higher than the total homicide rate of the US.

    The Texans are aware of these facts and figures, as are the citizens of several other states which have “loosened” their gun-control laws over the past 25 years and seen their total violent-crime rates *drop by 50%* over that time (FBI stats).

    No, it is not a good idea to take guns away from the “good guys”.

    1. So, what your saying is it’s a hopeless cause, so we should enrich the gun manufacturers, ease back on all anti-gun legislation, and flood the nation with more guns, more large clip assault rifles, another million Saturday night specials, and assume the rate of gun deaths will remain the same or perhaps even decline since there is a deterrent effect in knowing the lady with the toddler checking out ahead of you at the grocery store is weaponized.

      1. I would say the easing off is the way to go. What would happen is the opposite of what you predict. Gun and ammunition sales reliably spike up when talk of gun control gets louder. If you want fewer guns in circulation, don’t talk about it so much.

        Come on, doesn’t the gun control faction constantly claim it couldn’t be any easier to get guns in the U.S.

          1. Yes, but throttle back your triumphalism. That mine is a minority position is not news to me. It also doesn’t matter. I don’t consult a poll to figure out what to think.

              1. If you are being ironic, forgive my denseness in taking your remark seriously, but

                Not true! Our Constitution protects individuals from majorities in many ways. The founders feared pure democracy and took great care to check its power. You must know this. You probably were being ironic.

              2. Yes, ironic. I find reality difficult without noting irony and humor (even if grim humor). Otherwise, depression and cynicism take over. If gun control develops as a solution, it will necessarily inconvenience some gun owners, I’m sure, but so does obtaining a license to drive a car or an airplane. Eventually, we’ll arrive at the right balance, but we are far from that now.

              1. Despite your counterexample, I appreciate how most people can comment here, make points, and exchange information without resorting to juvenile insults.

              2. The NRA is an insult? The NRA is the only reason you have virtually unlimited gun ownership. You should be proud to be associated with them.

                Referring disparagingly to the “gun control faction” is a juvenile insult, considering that a faction is defined as, “a small organized dissenting group within a larger one.” It’s actually the gun advocates, like yourself, that are the dissenting group within a larger one.

        1. You’d have to have nerves of steel (or dead neurons) to see another bloodbath and “don’t talk about it so much.”
          The problem with you gun advocates is, you think a mere 20 or 50 lives lost every few weeks is an acceptable cost of living in a modern democracy. But, the reality is, it’s not just the lives lost, but the idea that a modern society should accept the status quo because of legalities and financials and traditions that are created and maintained by the modern society itself. Traffic deaths are much higher than mass shooting deaths, but traffic deaths have been and are being addressed by legislation and are gradually falling. We can be proud of that. But to say that there is really nothing to be done in the case of 393 million guns in the US(about 46 percent) of the worldwide total of civilian held firearms, is repugnant to most of the rest of us.

          1. Sorry if I was unclear, but “don’t talk about it so much” refers to gun control, not mass shootings. Though I’ll say the same about mass shootings for different reasons: Publicity fuels copy cats who see all the attention one of these loser murderers get and want it for themselves.

            I would like to be convinced that a “solution” would have its claimed effect, before weighing the benefit against any loss of liberty it might impose.

            You are not seeing “nerves of steel” – only a rational approach to life.

            1. Ban ARs, now! No more production. No more purchase. No more ammo. Gun regulation is no longer an issue of ‘rational’ debate. All has been said. It’s a culture war issue. It’s time for the majority of Americans to get off their ass and march, vote, and pass laws that at least Signify that Guns Mean Murder. Laws and efforts that work to diminish their accessibility and diminish their glamour among men in our society.

              1. You convinced me. I’m off to the gun store for an AR-15 and a few cases of ammo – just in the unlikely event your dream comes true.

                I already have a better rifle than the AR, but if restrictions are coming maybe I should grab one while I can.

    2. Leslie Fish:

      “Those foreign countries which boast that they have so few firearms deaths don’t mention that they have higher *total* homicide rates than we do. According to the UN, the US has ONLY THE 111TH HIGHEST HOMICIDE RATE *IN THE WORLD* — out of a field of 193 countries…”/blockquote> [My caps, my bold]

      Well that’s all right then Leslie LOL – where is your link so I can see which countries are beating the USA into 111th place? You don’t even name a source. Let me give your figures some perspective from my source…

      UNODC intentional homicide victims: intentional homicide victims per 100,000 inhabitants: WIKI SOURCE

      001. El Salvador, 62
      089. USA, 5.30
      090. Sudan, 5.16
      117. India, 3.22
      124. Rwanda, 2.52
      137. Bangladesh, 2.20
      167. Israel, 1.36
      171. France, 1.30
      172. Denmark, 1.20
      173. Finland, 1.20
      175. UK, 1.20
      180. Sweden, 1.10
      181. Scotland, 1.10
      184. Germany, 1.00
      219. JAPAN, 0.20
      220. SINGAPORE, 0.20

      Funny how it looks in a proper context isn’t it Leslie?

      1. Thanks, Michael. I suspected Leslie’s figures were bullshit but I’m too lazy to go searching for the real data.


        1. She is a liar or doesn’t look beyond the stats of the site she’s believing in. I tell ya infinite she has got the gun religion hard – a true believer for St. Colt. No different from anti-vax bullshit or the flat Earth crew.

          1. ?!?

            Leslie said 111th. Your source said 89th. That seems pretty similar, and way less than would many would expect.

            I don’t think your argument is made stronger by accusing Leslie of dishonesty.

            1. It is not “way less than many would expect” when you look at the list of vile murderous nations out there today – Leslie Fish could presumably have linked to the table, but she chose not to or wasn’t herself interested in looking up the truth of the bullshit she’s ripped from somewhere.

              Leslie is being dishonest or isn’t going beyond her poor info source – didn’t I make that clear already? And through dishonesty or ignorance she fails to show what it means to be ‘only’ 111th [or 89th] as she fails [or her source fails] to contextualise that placing.

              Now do you have something interesting to say Roger?

    3. I keep reading “take away guns from good guys” on this thread but is that really what the commenters here are advocating? I can’t see that. They seem to be advocating for taking away guns from bad guys or at least those that shouldn’t own a gun because they don’t meet certain requirements that makes their gun ownership a hazard to the larger public.

  28. Correction: out of 30,000 firearms deaths in the US every year, *20,000* are suicides. As the experience of Japan has shown, removing guns will not stop determined suicides.

    1. Some suicides are good deaths, rationally desired by the beneficiary. However small or large a percentage that is, it shouldn’t count against gun ownership.

      1. That I would agree with, but I’d hate to see the voluntary-euthanasia debate get scrambled up with the gun debate.

        And incidentally, a gun is NOT a good way to commit suicide, for two reasons. 1. It leaves a ghastly mess for somebody else to clean up. (Do you really want your loved ones last memory of you to be your brains splattered all over the furniture?). 2. There’s a certain risk that you may fail and leave yourself a semi-vegetable.

        There are far better (and painless) ways to do it.


    2. To add a bit of balance Leslie – you are correct that removing guns will not stop determined suicides, but why don’t you also mention that the intentional homicide rate, by any weapon & none, relative to Japan is 26.5 times more in the USA?!!

      You specialise in partial facts when it comes to this issue. Not good! Which site are you copying your outdated figures from? Do you research a little or just do the old copy/paste two step?

          1. I didn’t know that, the irrationality lines up with shouldering any unsustainable belief in a religion/ideology [which is what this bearing arms baloney has become]. Identity tied to a mythical re-imagining of US history & a fictional account of the non-US world.

    1. Actually, this has been shown to be false by the NRA in their 1989 study, where they demonstrated that it is essentially impossible to kill someone with a gun:

      Even getting hold of a gun requires hundreds of years of gradual modification of the basic concept of a firearm, as well as the invention of gunpowder, which itself requires the formation of the nation of China. And all of that requires the evolution of the human race, and the formation of the solar system, and the big-bang.

      The professional math-ematicists at the NRA worked out the approximate probability that the preceding sequence of events would happen and discovered, amazingly, that it is 1×10^-10000000000%. Up until that point, no-one knew that guns were so improbable.

      Therefore the chances of ever being killed by a gun are vanishingly small. There’s more chance of you spontaneously turning into a fossil, or of all the particles in your body shifting three meters to the right.

  29. Ban ARs and large capacity mags! The time is for action, not more talk. Work to diminish the accessibility of these tools of Murder and the Glamour they hold for Men (Tonka Truck Men) in our society!

  30. Reblogged this on Charles Chuck Berry and commented:
    With the Second amendment allowing American citizen’s the right to bear arms. feel we will be seeing more shootings. It is in my personal opinion, that guns should not be allowed in the hands of mentally unstable persons. More gun laws are not needed, but to be enforced. Parents and gun owners should be more stringent in making sure those guns are stored and locked away safely.

  31. To begin with, the Violence Policy Center is not an objective source.

    Beyond that, defensive gun use cannot be quantified through the number of “justifiable homicide” cases. Two main reasons for this. Firstly, justifiable homicide is, to the best of my knowledge, a legal defense against the charge of homicide. So we start only with those charged with homicide, and exclude those not charged.

    But the biggest problem is that it also excludes non-fatal defensive shootings, and also defense where nobody was shot, or where no shots were fired. The only two cases of defensive gun use that I am aware of in my community were cases where displaying a firearm prevented an attack. In those cases, home invasions by groups of thugs.

    Then there is the preventative value. Both thwarted home invasions, and a third successful one, were carried out on homes that with fairly wealthy, elderly occupants, who were not commonly known to be gun owning types. We live where the police are at least an hour away, assuming you can call them. Without the means to defend ourselves, we are all potentially the Klutter family of Holcombe, Kansas.

    The primary source study for the data about shootings at homes where guns are kept did not explore whether the gun kept at the home was the one used in the shooting, and also included households where a gun was kept because the residents believed they had an elevated risk of violent crime, like houses where gang members lived, or from which drugs were sold.

  32. I would like to highlight a comment on this thread here, because there is no option to reply directly to it :

    “When thinking up a policy idea remember murder and assault are illegal already. ”

    … it’s a wonderfully spellbinding statement of fact. Murder and assault are illegal *already*. And – for some – a fact that is easy to forget. I guess this shows I’m not a policy maker.

    1. An it appears that the gun used in the subject shooting was illegally manufactured, with the intent to be sold to persons who could not obtain a gun legally. Almost every step of this story involves multiple felonies.

      One unexpected effect that the guns bans under discussion might have is that the illegal gun trade might move more towards smuggled or illegally manufactured guns. It is no harder to smuggle or manufacture a fully automatic submachine gun than it is to obtain a pistol via the same means. Pistols are often carried by criminals because of ease of concealment. A submachine gun is only a bit larger than a full sized handgun.
      looking at illegal firearms manufacture in Brazil might show us what to expect-

      But often there are unexpected and unintended consequences, when solutions that appear to be obvious are applied to complicated problems.

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