Six Shot To Death in Washington

Once again, cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms take a number of lives in yet another mass shooting. In Graham Washington, a man killed his children and himself.

He had a reason, though it was a demented reason. And he had the inclination, though it was a misguided one. And he had a gun. Had he had the first two and not the third, there is a pretty good chance this would not have happened.

The man who fatally shot his five children and killed himself had just discovered his wife was leaving him for another man, authorities said Sunday.

The bodies of James Harrison’s children, ages 7 to 16, were found with multiple gunshot wounds Saturday in the family’s mobile home, most of them in their beds. Harrison’s body had been found earlier in the day with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, behind the wheel of his idling car.

source

The perp was a gun nut.

Shall we continue the arguments about gun control here on this post or on the previous post about a different mass slaying that was made so easy by the corrupt policies bought by the NRA in Washington DC?

Comments

  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    April 5, 2009

    And he had a gun. Had he had the first two and not the third, there is a pretty good chance this would not have happened.

    The kids were in bed, probably asleep (at least until the first gunshot.)

    Were there knives in the house? Is there a reason why a kitchen knife couldn’t have done the same job, and quieter?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 5, 2009

    People are pretty bad killing each other with knives. One of the victims (I’m guessing the teenage boy) put up quite a fight. Had dad been trying to knife the kids to death there’s a pretty good chance there would have been another outcome.

    Guns are pretty good at killing people. I simply don’t buy the argument that if the murderer did not have a gun that it does not matter.

  3. #3 llewelly
    April 5, 2009

    Once again, cheap, only barely regulated and readily …

    What about cheap, only barely regulated and readily available spell checkers?

  4. #4 llewelly
    April 5, 2009

    Were there knives in the house?

    Knives, nuthin’. Imagine how horrible it would be if he’d killed them all with a dull spoon.

  5. #5 Crystal D.
    April 5, 2009

    My issue happens to be the people who don’t want any rules or regulations in regards to guns. I have heard people say that they shouldn’t have to have a permit, or submit to a background check. I can’t assume they were all nutters who wouldn’t have been allowed a gun, so I don’t know what their beef is…

  6. #6 Sevesteen
    April 5, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    Most of our objections center around forms of registration. Registration is a nearly required step before confiscation, and to

    The proposals to require background checks that I’ve seen pretty much eliminate private sales, and require all guns go on a dealer’s books before the new owner gets them. It would be fairly easy to modify the background check system dealers use to allow for private sales–Is the goal the check, or to get the guns and their new owner on the books?

  7. #7 Wayne Conrad
    April 6, 2009

    Cheap? The most inexpensive mass produced firearm is probably the Ruger 10-22 rifle, a .22 caliber rifle of minimal power (although it should be treated with respect, as should all firearms, it would not be suitable for self defense). A few years back it went for a little under $200. I haven’t checked lately. Maybe that’s cheap for some. Center-fire rifles–of the type that are suited to hunting and self defense–are considerably more expensive. Say, $400 and up. Sidearms are also more expensive. Ballpark $400 and up for one that a person can count on. “Cheap” is all relative, I guess.

    Barely regulated? The purchase of any firearm from a federally licensed dealer requires a background check that goes through the FBI’s “instant check” system (quotes because it’s not always instant. Usually, though, it is). In some states, there is also a check against a state database. No FBI approval, no firearm.

  8. #8 Lawrence
    April 6, 2009

    The goal needs to be to get the owners on the books.

  9. #9 Donna B.
    April 6, 2009

    Making it illegal for criminals to own guns has really worked well, so I suppose it will work just as well for the insane.

    Are we to assume that no one is capable of owning a gun responsibly? Conservatives assume that no one is capable of deciding many things for themselves, why not add guns to the forbidden list?

    Blaming the gun is a convenient way of ignoring the societal problems that caused the guy to go nuts in the first place.

  10. #10 Larry Ayers
    April 6, 2009

    Cheap? I bought a .38 caliber Colt Police Special handgun at a local pawnshop for $150.00 after I was robbed at gunpoint while clerking at a convenience store. Not a bad deal for a gun which I hope will be a deterrent in the future…

  11. #11 dogscratcher
    April 6, 2009

    Here is a url for a current .45 ACP advertisement for the low low price of $168.00 (pg 13). I’ve seen them at that store even cheaper.

    http://www.acetricities.com/Griggs%2020%20pg%20Flyer%20April%202nd%20&%209th%202009.pdf

  12. #12 Paul Murray
    April 6, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    Agreed. The problem is with this very, very silly and short-sighted item that your founding fathers put in your constitution.

  13. #13 Andrew
    April 6, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    What other incredibly dangerious technology can be operated legally with eight hours of training? Or no training?

  14. #14 Christian
    April 6, 2009

    Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in all of the Western democracies, yet this happened only last month:

    Unfortunately, having strict gun laws does not save a country from shooting sprees. Most crazy nutjobs who want to murder people by the dozen do not hesistate to break any existent gun laws in order to live out their violent fantasies…

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Christian, Germany does not have strict gun laws if it was legal for a private citizen to have an arsenel in his house. Also, note that the German law is likely to put the father of the school shooter in prison because his hand gun was not properly secured. Assume that happens. The attitude about one’s own personal collection of firearms would be very different in that German situation than in the US. I can hear even from Minnesota the sound of padlocks being secured across the German country side.

    It is difficult to make judgments on the basis of rare events. But there rare events can still be important, and they can brig up important issues. The vast majority of Americans whoa re killed violently are shot, and there is quite a bit more of that here in the US, and more gun ownership here as well (I think).

  16. #16 Sam C
    April 6, 2009

    Christian:

    Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in all of the Western democracies, yet this happened only last month: …

    True, occasional atrocities happen in most countries, but the USA is unique amongst rich industrialised nations in the chronic bloodshed it tolerates with equanimity – roughly 30 people each day are deliberately killed by others with firearms each day in the USA. Each day!

    Any ordinary day’s slaughter in the USA would cause an outcry in a comparable European or Asian country and be talked about for years. The USA’s normality would be a European or Asian horror story. The novelty of Virginia Tech and Columbine is that they even make the news in the USA, because each and every day is a Columbine spread around the USA.

    Is this slaughter entirely due to the presence of firearms? Probably not, Americans are also leaders in homicide without firearms – the USA is quite simply a violent country. So firearms allow Americans to act out their violent nature more easily.

    And incompetence perhaps plays a part; Americans have a high accident rate with firearms, even compared with countries which have high rates of ownership. Perhaps that’s misleading though, because most countries with high rates of gun ownership are not due to people carrying hand guns around or playing with their toys; they are countries with strong hunting traditions where the guns stay locked away except for hunting trips.

    Why this violence? Fear perhaps, as Michael Moore suggested? The USA also has a seriously high suicide rate with firearms – heck, Americans just love to shoot strangers, family, themselves!

    And the reality disconnect is sometimes breathtaking – I think one gun idiot commented how sad it was that Brits (for example) aren’t “trusted with guns” by their government. Well, it seems sadder that Americans are trusted with guns, because all the statistics suggest that Americans are generally not fit to carry any sort of weapon.

  17. #17 Michael
    April 6, 2009

    Greg- You comment about the strictness of German gun laws sounds a lot like the “no true Dutchman” fallacy. Even in the wake of that shooting, according to Wikipedia (“Gun Politics in Germany” article), Germany’s weapons laws are some of the strictest in Europe.

    Andrew- How about the telephone? More people protect themselves and stop crimes by brandishing a firearm within their homes than by calling 911. Given the prevalence of ineffective or outright injurious police responses, should we not consider strict police regulations and possibly banning dangerous police departments?

  18. #18 Laura
    April 6, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    Voting, in my current state of Georgia. They require a state or national ID to be shown at the polling place, which handily disenfranchises people who should be able to vote but don’t happen to have a driver’s license, passport, etc.

  19. #19 Stephanie Z
    April 6, 2009

    Donna, how many decades do we try to fix the societal influences that tell someone it’s okay to say, “They’re mine to do with as I please and to hell with the effect on them or anyone else,” before we decide we should also mitigate the impact those attitudes can have? And how do we fight this attitude in one area while we still promote it when it comes to guns?

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Michael: My comment was a conditional … I totally get that Germany has strict laws.

    More people protect themselves and stop crimes by brandishing a firearm within their homes than by calling 911.

    That is an interesting statement but is dead in the water without some kind of data to back it up. Please provide cites or something!

    Donna: Again, that argument is absurd. You need to account fo 10,000 dead people per month first, then we can talk about rights to posses and wield a deadly weapons.

  21. #21 Christian
    April 6, 2009

    @Greg: “Christian, Germany does not have strict gun laws if it was legal for a private citizen to have an arsenel in his house.”

    They might have not been strict enough to prevent the father from collecting (obviously way too many) guns. However, all weapons were licensed and registered with the police, so one can conclude that measures like that do not put a total end to gun violence. Aside from that, the murderer in this case had taken only one gun from the collection of his father, so he would not have needed to have kept an arsenal – unfortunately, one gun was already enough…

    As for the father having to go to prison, I’ll believe that when it actually happens. A parole seems much more likely to me, given that he had only failed to secure one gun from his arsenal properly.

    A mentally unstable person will probably always find a way to hurt other people, his family or himself. The root cause of such carnage must lie somewhere else. Fear? Bullying? As Michael Moore points out, a lot of guns are being privately owned in Canada, where there is rarely any gun violence…

  22. #22 Sevesteen
    April 6, 2009

    The goal needs to be to get the owners on the books.

    Just the owners, or the owners with a detailed inventory of what they own?

    The problem is with this very, very silly and short-sighted item that your founding fathers put in your constitution.

    The founding fathers were revolutionaries who just overthrew a government they considered oppressive. They were also surprisingly un-hypocritical–They set up safeguards to try to avoid the new government doing the same things as the one they overthrew.

    What other incredibly dangerious technology can be operated legally with eight hours of training? Or no training?

    Guns are pretty uncomplicated compared to other “dangerous technology”, and gun safety is pretty simple. Follow 4 one-sentence rules, you will have to break 2 of them at the same time to hurt someone:

    Treat all guns like they are loaded, even if you “know” they are not
    Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
    Know your target and what is behind it
    Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target

    If a lack of understanding is the problem, shouldn’t we spend 30 minutes or so a year teaching public school kids gun safety? If it saves just one life…

    Voting, in my current state of Georgia. They require a state or national ID to be shown at the polling place, which handily disenfranchises people who should be able to vote but don’t happen to have a driver’s license, passport, etc.

    I don’t know the solution to voting rights–ID seems minimal, and we should do something to prevent vote fraud, but we shouldn’t require people to maintain ID in order to vote.

    I’m fine with firearms having the same level of scrutiny as voting.

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    However, all weapons were licensed and registered with the police, so one can conclude that measures like that do not put a total end to gun violence.

    But that is a straw man argument. Why does a proposal to restrict and limit gun ownership in order to reduce violence need to be judged on the basis of being perfect (“put a total end”)?

    As for the father having to go to prison, I’ll believe that when it actually happens. A parole seems much more likely to me, given that he had only failed to secure one gun from his arsenal properly.

    That may be, and maybe that’s appropriate, but don’t you think that the average law abiding German citizen who has a gun collection has double checked the security of that collection because of this event, and the possibility of being in this man’s position is a factor?

    I agree with you that the problem almost always starts elsewhere, but it is simply true that where gun ownership rates are low, we do not see the high rates of violence. The fact that there is more than one factor does not obviate the need to address any one of these factors.

    Sev: As for the father having to go to prison, I’ll believe that when it actually happens. A parole seems much more likely to me, given that he had only failed to secure one gun from his arsenal properly.

    Here, you identify the problem exactly. Gun nuts think that this statement makes sense and is true. 20 thousand dead people a month might disagree, if they were still alive, that this is sufficient to make wanton and virtually unregulated gun ownership safe.

    You need to address the issue of these killings before you get to address the issue of second amendment rights. There are more basic rights than the second amendment that are being violated here. By you, I’m afraid.

  24. #24 Wayne Conrad
    April 6, 2009

    Let’s cut to the chase. Let’s stop talking about rare events, and talk about common events.

    In the last century, somewhere between 83 and 169 million people were killed by their own governments. That’s not killed by other governments. That’s not killed in murders. That’s killed by the hands of their own governments, either directly in genocide, or indirectly through starvation. This is somewhere between ten and twenty times the murder rate. (Source: Historical Atlas of the 20th century.

    Disarmament usually precedes genocide.

    This, Greg, is why I told you in a previous post that firearms are not about crime. At least, they’re not about the kind of crime usually people think about when they think about firearms. The right to keep and bear arms is there because if government goes sour, it’s the only way that the people have to resist the tyranny of a government that is also armed.

    “Putting them on a list,” as someone put it, always seems precedes disarmament. At least, it has in Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Bermuda, Cuba, Greece, Jamaica and Soviet Georgia. I hope you won’t consider it an invocation of Godwin’s law if I mention its use in prewar Germany. There may be more than one reason to register firearms, but confiscation seems to be the ultimate result. Because the a disarmed populace is in such dire danger–remember, ten to twenty times as many people are killed by their own governments as are killed in murders–it’s folly to consider disarmament even if it would result in a lowered murder or suicide rate or have other benefits.

  25. #25 Anon
    April 6, 2009

    Wayne, there is some other guy out there thinking the same thing you are, but he’s your neighbor and he hates your guts because your dog puked on his lawn, and his plan is to put a bullet in you head the moment your revolution against the government starts up.

  26. #26 Constance Reader
    April 6, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    Marriage.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Marriage is not a constitutional right. Yet. Is it?

    It is certainly not explicit, and if it is a right, that as not been developed yet in case law, or there would be no restrictions against gay marriage.

  28. #28 Deen
    April 6, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    Running for any government office?

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    April 6, 2009

    Deen, there is no background check performed by the government for running for office. If information is presented to whomever is administering the election, a candidate may be declared not to meet a requirement, but no general check is made. Makes for fun scandals now and again.

  30. #30 Wayne Conrad
    April 6, 2009

    Anon, I’m not planning a revolution against the government. Nice straw-man. No, I take that back. It’s not even a nice straw man. It’s just name calling, poorly disguised: “Look, a revolutionary whack-job!”

    Sorry to disappoint you. I prefer stable, elected government, thank you very much. Revolution is only for when representative government has been replaced by tyranny. Like, duh.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the neighbor and the dog and the bullet-in-the-head bit. Do you care to clarify?

  31. #31 Deen
    April 6, 2009

    Not even a check for a criminal record? And I also thought that for the president at least a birth certificate had to be provided to verify that the candidate is a natural born citizen? (Which the wingnuts are still making a fuzz over, I believe)

  32. #32 Eric
    April 6, 2009

    I thought we were stockpiling guns & ammo for the upcoming zombie attack?

  33. #33 lylebot
    April 6, 2009

    The right to keep and bear arms is there because if government goes sour, it’s the only way that the people have to resist the tyranny of a government that is also armed.

    The first amendment is the important one in this case. Free speech provides a much more powerful way to resist tyranny than a militia going up against an army.

    (And don’t say that the tyrannical government would have repealed the first amendment. If it’s done that, then it’s repealed the second as well, and you’re in prison for owning guns.)

  34. #34 Sevesteen
    April 6, 2009

    20 thousand dead people a month might disagree, if they were still alive, that this is sufficient to make wanton and virtually unregulated gun ownership safe.

    Where does the 20,000 per month come from? Worldwide? The most common number I’ve heard is 30,000, with 3/4 of that numbers being either suicide or felons as victims.

    Wayne, there is some other guy out there thinking the same thing you are, but he’s your neighbor and he hates your guts because your dog puked on his lawn, and his plan is to put a bullet in you head the moment your revolution against the government starts up.

    Revolution will be horrific, with virtually no chance that it will result in an improvement. The possibility of a nutty neighbor would be the least of my concerns.

    Marriage is not a constitutional right. Yet. Is it?

    It is certainly not explicit, and if it is a right, that as not been developed yet in case law, or there would be no restrictions against gay marriage.

    The government can set a minimum age, they can even set a “default contract” that is enforced if there are no terms agreed by the couple, and they can settle disputes and child custody. Deciding which adults “of sound mind” can marry each other is religious, and not the proper place for government.

  35. #35 Sevesteen
    April 6, 2009

    30,000 per year, not per month…

  36. #36 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Sevesteen

    Sorry, I meant per year. 30K people died in the US of gunshots that were not accidental.

    I am not concerned if felons are victims. Breaking the statistics out like that is absurd. In this country there a lot of ways to get to be a felon that have nothing to do with criminality, and being killed is not “OK” if you happen to be a felon, even if you would like to mete out the death penalty on your own. You (the general ‘you’) don’t get to do that.

    You know, I think this question of what ‘rights’ are regulated vs. not is a bit of a side track. Whether or not something is regulated has more to do with the nature of the activity than anything else, or at least, it is the obverse right being regulated. For instance, if you think you have the right to have a gun in an unregulated fashion, I might also think that I have a right to not have members of my family randomly gunned down because one in ten thousand gun nuts occasionally goes on a shooting spree. My right to life and pursuit of happiness trumps your right to having a hobby.

  37. #37 Christian
    April 6, 2009

    @Greg:

    I’m all for gun control, but I have to somewhat disagree with your logic:

    “For instance, if you think you have the right to have a gun in an unregulated fashion, I might also think that I have a right to not have members of my family randomly gunned down because one in ten thousand gun nuts occasionally goes on a shooting spree. My right to life and pursuit of happiness trumps your right to having a hobby.”

    Let me phrase that differently:

    For instance, if you think you have the right to drive a car, I might also think that I have a right to not have members of my family randomly run over, just because one in a thousand car enthusiasts does not know how to drive. My right to life and pursuit of happiness trumps your right to having a means of personal transportation.

    Or how about this?

    For instance, if you think you have the right to smoke, I might also think that I have a right to not have members of my family randomly die of lung cancer because of the effects of second-hand smoke. My right to life and pursuit of happiness trumps your right to having a hobby.

    Or what about this?

    For instance, if you think you have the right to drink alcohol, I might also think that I have a right to not have members of my family randomly run over by a drunk driver or beaten up by some out of control alcoholic. My right to life and pursuit of happiness trumps your right to pick what you want to drink.

    Personal freedoms are a difficult issue, but where do you draw the line. If you want to restrict the rights of a responsible gun owner, because some crazy nutjob has abused his right to own a weapon, how would you as a – certainly very responsible – driver like to have your car use restricted, because some idiot has run over someone?

    Again, I am not against strict gun control, but there is always the question of where you draw the line. How many people die in car accidents? How many people die because of smoking? Because of alcohol? And what do you do with that knowledge?

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Christian: The driving of a car and the smoking of cigarettes in the US are both regulated to the extent that people are safer. Guns are virtually unregulated compared to cars. I would like to see the smoking and car level of regulation applies to guns.

    The problem with guns is that the “gun nuts” simply want no line to be drawn at all, and no matter how much bellyaching there is right now about how much regulation there is, there really is virtually none.

  39. #39 PZ Myers
    April 6, 2009

    C’mon. You know what the only right answer is.

    Arm the children. Maybe the little kids should only have a small handgun, but there’s no reason that the 16 year old couldn’t be packing a semi-auto to deal with his dad.

  40. #40 The Science Pundit
    April 6, 2009

    What other constitutional right requires a license or a background check?

    1. The right to assembly
    I’m assuming that you’ve never applied for a permit to hold a demonstration. The criteria vary from place to place, but a demonstration permit can be very much like a license.

    2. Freedom of the press
    This is not across the board for all media, but the government does regulate the airwaves and if you want to broadcast a television program, you not only need a license, but you are subject to censorship.

    The fact that licensing isn’t across the board for all media sets the precedent (imo) for selective licensing of firearms. For example, since the vast majority of gun violence is committed with handguns, I would have no problem with restricting and requiring licenses for handguns but not for hunting rifles.

  41. #41 T. Hunt
    April 6, 2009

    I can see that this has brought on the usual back and forth over guns and the entire discussion is as unproductive as it was the last time I saw one. I would refer Greg to a great blog entry I saw just a few minutes ago:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2009/04/open_minds_pass_it_on.php

    There are a whole host of reasons why things like this happen and only one of them is that guns are available. There is also an astonishing lack of civility that has become the norm in the last few decades. There is a personal isolation of individuals in our communities that really aren’t communities at all anymore but just large collections of people with little common purpose. We are not educating our children anywhere near well enough and we have to deal with things like the Texas Board of Ed wasting enormous amounts of time and taxpayer money on trying to teach ID in their public schools. From Chuck Norris and W to ’24′ and “Bring it on!”, our models for conflict resolution and problem solving begin and end with massive applications of testosterone.

    When folks aren’t taught to think critically, drown in a river of sound bites, have little education and few options and nothing to fall back on, is it any wonder that desperation leads to quick and easy solutions? How many people are one or 2 paychecks from disaster?

    Yes, guns are part of the problem but they’re only one part. And from what I’ve read over the years, it’s almost impossible to keep guns and drugs out of prisons, so just how are we going to get rid of the guns in society? The drug war should be a clue as to how prohibition of anything is going to turn out.

    Some regulation and licensing of firearms is needed. But we need more than that, starting with a reasonable discussion about how to reduce the amount of conflict and how to give people the tools to resolve issues without resorting to violence; with guns or knives or clubs.

    T. Hunt

  42. #42 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    T. Hunt: I love the proposal you imply that until Texas gets its act together in the K-12 education area, hand guns should be strictly limited because people are not really being educated enough to do the right thing.

  43. Greg,

    First I love your blog site, and generally agree with you.

    Regarding the guns issue, it is very complicated. Let me say I am a gun owner. I am also an ecologist, writer, and I generally vote for a liberal canidate. I do believe in background checks for those who want to purchase a firearm because it may weed out, very rarely, someone who shouldn’t have one.

    As others have commented, most firearms owned by criminals and those who would use them for an illegal purpose do not go through legal channels to get a firearm. They buy them through illegal means. There is huge money in illegal firearms, and they are readily available. Perhaps this is where government can do a better job on the firearms issue; crack down on illegal gun dealers.

    I own guns to hunt. It is part of my cultural background. I should not be denied this right because others are irresponsible. My guns and ammunition are kept locked in a gun safe where it would be difficult to steal them. Responsible gun ownership takes effort, and gun owners should be educated.

    In case you are wondering I do not own a hand gun. They are not practical to hunt with.

    Keep up the interesting topics. I look forward to reading more.

  44. #44 T. Hunt
    April 6, 2009

    I don’t know about implied proposals reguarding handguns but if Texas had incorporated ID sooner, maybe no one there would have figured out how to make gunpowder or forge metal. Or they might have just thought of guns as magic ‘bang sticks’ and burned anyone who possessed one.

    T. Hunt

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Other than one student I had who shot a moose in self defense with a big-ass handgun, I would say that long arms are a totally different matter, are for hunting, and basic hunting gear, while it needs to be regulated, is hardly ever the problem. Handguns are the problem.

    Also, if you want to overthrow the government, a shotgun will be more useful than a .38 special. You can use it to blast open the door of the radio station, because you’ll be needing to do that!

    You know, in Britian, they hunt all the time, more than here maybe, and they have ways of handling the dangerous weapons, or so I hear.

  46. #46 Rowan
    April 6, 2009

    No matter whether or not there are strict limitations on gun ownership, murders will continue. If someone wants to kill another person, they will find the means.

    For instance, as this article in the Daily Telegraph points out 1/3 of all murders in the UK were by bladed weapons. There is also an interesting number of attempted murders committed by arson in the UK.

    I understand there needs to be regulation of ownership and screening to prevent guns from finding their way into the hands of those who seek to murder, however, I do not want to see guns removed from private ownership of all citizens. As someone has already pointed out above, in some countries there are governments have preyed upon and murdered their own citizens who did not have the means to keep those governments in check.

  47. #47 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Rowan, I simply do not accept that argument (your first argument). Guns are weapons, and they are very effective weapons. They are also weapons that can kill instantly. There are many many killings that would not have happened had a gun not been available.

    Your second argument is a whole nuther ball of wax that I’m not quite ready to address at this point.

  48. #48 jake
    April 6, 2009

    People keep trying to compare guns to other weapons or objects, and I don’t think you can do that. I think that guns are in a class all by themselves in that they can easily and instantly kill a lot of people by anyone who is drunk, high, angry, or much too young to know what they are doing.

  49. #49 Emil
    April 6, 2009

    Other than one student I had who shot a moose in self defense with a big-ass handgun

    Huh?

  50. #50 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Huh?

    Yes. He lived in Alaska. He was out walking around in the wilderness and literally bumped into it. He drew and fired automatically.

  51. #51 the real me
    April 6, 2009

    Emil: It was probably a Desert Eagle that whacked the mosse upside the horns

    as for “crack[ing] down on illegal gun dealers”
    Yeah, there are two kinds of those: the “gun dealers” who have licenses to sell them, and who then sell them after hours –very very few, I imagine; and then there are the other gun dealers: the Joe Blows who sell grampas .410, the gun nuts who stockpile and then sell every weapon they can get; and the security guards, cops, and government agents who have not only the weapons and the license to purchase and sell, but also a vested interest in raising fears, and the public specter of “too many guns on the street”. This last group is the most unchecked, un-policed, and dangerous of all. I have known them personally, as well as known their criminal associates, personally.

    Meantime, here is a story of another preventable gun death: Fong Lee, an Asian teenager shot IN THE BACK by MPD.
    “the gun in question could have been in police custody for two years before Lee’s death”

    http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/42333722.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUnciatkEP7DhUsl

  52. This Lee thing is very disturbing, and looks like a total scam by the MPD.

  53. #53 montee
    April 6, 2009

    The “Lee Thing” is the exact reason that I do not want them to take away our guns.

  54. #54 the real me
    April 6, 2009

    Yeah! It reminds me of the Tycel Nelson homicide many years ago where an Af/Am kid was murdered, and the cop–like this one–gets a medal of Valor!!

    It is common knowledge that cops do shit like this all the time, as well as a host of other evidence fabrication, but it seems that we as a society are willing to permit it as a lesser of two evils, which to me is a very slippery slope–Gitmo, etc.

    The gun nuts are absolutely right in principle, but horribly wrong in practice with their energy devoted to lobbying for the NRA and the gun manufacturers rather than contributing to lobbying FOR oversight of police– a neccessary first step towards revealing the root cause of all that fear that feeds them–and that they are fed.

    Lobbying against ‘ultimate police authority’ is the beginning of fear reduction for every one.

    Did you read that story about the cop-cum-lawyer who just went to jail? One gleaming insight from that piece was that not only was he a friend of Duy Ngo–the Asian cop who was shot by racist cops from his own MPD–but also, one of the other cops interviewed said that the now convicted “tax dodger” cop once greeted him with the phrase ” how’s it goin’ big guy?”.

    The recipient of that greeting was apparently offended and said ” that guy didn’t understand the basis of a paramilitary organization”

    So, cop to cop, there is this lack of humor, and a great desire to masquerade as the Terminator–so much so that a simple colloquial greeting, and an affectionate ” hey big guy” phrase is apparently a threat to the new world order–and paramilitaries everywhere.

  55. #55 DuWayne
    April 6, 2009

    Interesting. Not sure whether I qualify as a gun nut here, or as a librul-socialist-cryptofascist out to take away everyone’s guns.

    I own guns and have since I bought my first shotgun when I was twelve (actually had a BB gun when I was ten). I was once paid to house-sit a house that was being remodeled, because it had been broken into repeatedly and used as an afterhours crack house – slept with a short barrel twelve gauge that I discharged out front one time – no one wandered into the yard after that (racking it the night before deterred them for the evening, but then they came back the following). I’ve made my own gunpowder and loaded my own shells – sometimes with non-fatal (at least usually) rounds.

    I also support very strict gun control laws. Registration of all firearms doesn’t bother me in the least. Cooling off periods are a great idea – if you want to buy a gun for any reason that doesn’t involve killing someone, it shouldn’t be a problem. Private sales should be registered with the state with appropriate background checks on the buyer. If you want to carry in public, you should pass a more detailed background check and a competency exam – conceal and carry should require even more scrutiny. People with certain neurological disorders should at the least be required to pass additional scrutiny before being allowed to own firearms – if framed reasonably, this would affect me. Ex-cons, depending on the crime, should not be allowed to own firearms.

    I would also like to point out that handguns are actually quite useful whilst hunting. First deer I bagged didn’t die quick, I ended up cutting it’s throat after I found it – could have been rather dangerous. When I hit a deer with my mom’s car, I ran home and got my .44 – much quicker and cleaner when I finally found it (took a couple hours in the dark). Made a point of never having to worry about finishing a deer while hunting again, but carried a pistol just in case.

    He lived in Alaska. He was out walking around in the wilderness and literally bumped into it. He drew and fired automatically.

    Remarkably, that is not all that uncommon in areas of Alaska (and several other states) and that is a very good response – moose are fucking badasses and can cause serious damage inadvertently. There are definitely certain places I wouldn’t go without a gun and all of them are wilderness.

  56. #56 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2009

    Regarding the issue of hanging on to our guns so we are ready to overthrow the government when the government gets too annoying: I think there are a lot of problems with that argument, and many of the key arguments are addressed here: Tin Revolutionaries.

  57. #57 Rowan
    April 6, 2009

    One thing that concerns me is the current proliferation of people in the gun stores looking at guns who truly haven’t a clue. Women who look at a gun and comment “I think I want to buy that one because it is cute” really have no business buying a gun. I had to leave a store/gun range recently as I was appalled at the conversations being held around me.

    I do not disagree that there shouldn’t be background checks, cooling off periods, education courses and other requirements to ensure responsible gun ownership.

  58. #58 D. C. Sessions
    April 6, 2009

    What other incredibly dangerious technology can be operated legally with eight hours of training? Or no training?

    An automobile.
    If I were intent on racking up a major body count before being stopped, I’d forget about the firearms and take my station wagon on a run down a sidewalk.

    Those ~30 firearm homicides a day are impressive — and automobiles kill four times as many.

  59. #59 D. C. Sessions
    April 6, 2009

    20 thousand dead people a month might disagree

    First it was “thirty a day” [1], then ten thousand a month, now 20 thousand a month.

    Is this a race to get to world depopulation in the course of a week? That kind of hyperbole isn’t very persuasive.

    [1]which is close to the actual statistic of about 10,000 per annum, via CDC Wonder.

  60. #60 Wayne Conrad
    April 6, 2009

    “Revolution will be horrific, with virtually no chance that it will result in an improvement.”

    Sevesteen, I agree. That is why a people should consider revolution only when they have no other recourse (e.g., “death would be better than this”). Revolution barely worked the first time, and it was difficult, expensive, long and bloody. I’m not so sure that revolutions have a great track record of increasing liberty; perhaps ours was unusual. Some of them have been awful messes, at least in the short haul. Look at the French revolution for a shining example of what an angry mob can do, and what happens when a tyrant gains control of the resultant mess.

    This is somewhat distasteful talk when we’ve still got a free press (especially now that we have the web, yay!), and elections, and all that. It’s like talking about what to do with Grandma’s estate while she’s still alive. I’d rather get life extension drugs and keep Grandma alive and healthy. Maybe even make her young again.

  61. #61 The Science Pundit
    April 7, 2009

    If I were intent on racking up a major body count before being stopped, I’d forget about the firearms and take my station wagon on a run down a sidewalk.

    @DC Sessions:
    Then why aren’t more people doing that? Does the news not report on the glut of hit and run mass murderers? Am I not reading the right news outlets? Or is your’s a great mind that thinks exotic?

    *Or just maybe, perhaps automobiles, while certainly dangerous, are simply not efficient murder weapons?*

  62. #62 Sevesteen
    April 7, 2009

    being killed is not “OK” if you happen to be a felon, even if you would like to mete out the death penalty on your own. You (the general ‘you’) don’t get to do that.

    I’d agree there are too many ways to become a felon, and it isn’t a reason to die. The point is that a lot of these deaths are active criminals killing each other, rather than “innocent” victims. Chances are good that a felon who gets shot isn’t a reformed felon.

    For instance, if you think you have the right to have a gun in an unregulated fashion, I might also think that I have a right to not have members of my family randomly gunned down because one in ten thousand gun nuts occasionally goes on a shooting spree.

    I promise I won’t gun your family down randomly.

    The problem isn’t primarily the guns–if it were, concealed carry license holders would have a worse record than the general public, rather than a much, much better one.

    Also, if you want to overthrow the government, a shotgun will be more useful than a .38 special. You can use it to blast open the door of the radio station, because you’ll be needing to do that!

    I don’t own any offensive weapons–mine are all defensive, and none suited for taking an active role in a revolution. My .38 is a lot better for keeping a low profile, which is likely my course of action under those circumstances.

    There are many many killings that would not have happened had a gun not been available.

    …and many that have been stopped because a gun was available, and more that would have been stopped if a gun had been available.

  63. #63 Deen
    April 7, 2009

    As others have commented, most firearms owned by criminals and those who would use them for an illegal purpose do not go through legal channels to get a firearm.

    And where were these guns before they ended up in the illegal circuit? I don’t think there would be much of an illegal circuit if there wouldn’t be such a steady supply trickling down from the “law-abiding” legal gun owners. It would definitely drive the prices up to where most common criminals won’t be able to afford it.

    And indeed, it’s not just the guns. It’s also the cowboy-mentality that comes with them. Don’t know which came first though.

  64. #64 DuWayne
    April 7, 2009

    And where were these guns before they ended up in the illegal circuit?

    As often as not, from overseas. While there are certainly the odd guns here and there that are stolen from legal owners, the supply would be way too sharply limited if it actually came from legal owners.

    The problem with legal guns as a supply to criminals, is that one needs to actually get the guns from enough legal owners, to actually have a supply to sell. Most reasonably intelligent people aren’t keen on the notion of playing the odds by robbing gun owners of their guns.

    And trying to steal from gun dealers is tantamount to fucking suicide. Unless you are capable of pulling off bank break-ins that would net you a lot more cash more quickly, you aren’t likely to get in in the middle of the night. Try going in during the day and it is worse than trying to rob a bank, because unlike the bank, the clerks are armed and required by law in most places to try to kill you.

    Besides which, everything is cheaper from overseas – including illegal firearms. Don’t have to spend extra time or money converting anything to full auto. Don’t have to worry about whether or not congress is going to pass a law that will crimp your supply (which by the way, is fine with me – all for assault weapon bans).

    And indeed, it’s not just the guns. It’s also the cowboy-mentality that comes with them. Don’t know which came first though.

    The cowboy mentality, because neither I, nor most of the gun owners I know have the cowboy mentality.

  65. #65 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2009

    …and many that have been stopped because a gun was available, and more that would have been stopped if a gun had been available.

    Seriously overplayed.

    The cowboy mentality, because neither I, nor most of the gun owners I know have the cowboy mentality.

    Oh crap, you just totally ruined my mental image of you!!!!

  66. #66 D. C. Sessions
    April 7, 2009

    Or just maybe, perhaps automobiles, while certainly dangerous, are simply not efficient murder weapons?

    Oh, they’re very efficient. They’re just not nearly so specific.

    A car is hard to beat for mass-murder on a budget; however, mass murderers are generally not big on efficiency studies. The ones that come to mind are, generally speaking, either into stalking and collecting one by one or they’re doing sniper-type anonymous hit and runs. In the last few years the DC area and Phoenix have had those, for instance; Phoenix just finished trying one of them.

    The bulk of US firearm murders are, as noted above, not driven by body count or without regard for getting away with it. They’re criminals having a disagreement with other criminals [1]. Stories like that don’t get a lot of public attention, though, so we’re more likely to hear about the “father kills wife and kids” stories, where the car-on-a-sidewalk thing wouldn’t work. For some reason the “mom kills all of her kids” cases don’t tend to run to firearms; maybe only men need them.

    [1] There’s reason to suspect that at least some of the “woman shot through head while sitting in a parked car” stories are collateral damage in turf wars.

  67. #67 Deen
    April 7, 2009

    While there are certainly the odd guns here and there that are stolen from legal owners, the supply would be way too sharply limited if it actually came from legal owners.

    Is theft really the only way that guns can be passed from legal owners to criminals? Especially when some of the owners in question don’t actually support the gun control measures?

    The cowboy mentality, because neither I, nor most of the gun owners I know have the cowboy mentality.

    Well, you didn’t self-identify as a gun nut either, which is the sort of people I was referring to. Although that scene that you described about defending an empty house using a shotgun? I have to say, to someone from Western Europe that sounds like something that only happens on TV. There is most definitely a difference in mentality between Europe and the US when it comes to guns and violence.

  68. #68 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2009

    The only case I know of personally of this kind of defense is from a year and a half ago or so when one of my neighbors, an old man who was a recluse in his own home, shot another neighbor to death. The victim was a teenage boy who had never been in trouble before. His friends dared him to enter and explore that they thought was an abandoned home.

    The old man was in his bed when he heard someone walking around. He remained silent and picked up his firearm, which was always at the ready, and as soon as he sensed someone was in range and more or less in front of him he pulled the trigger.

    Death was instantaneous.

    Several of the other neighbors, interviewed on TV, lauded the old man for defending himself.

    From a harmless teenager who thought he was in an empty house and surely would have run away if the old man had made a noise.

  69. #69 Totin'
    April 7, 2009

    Except that Washington State already has the very registration and background checks that Greg and the rest are asking for.

    Take a look here:

    http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/firearms/falaws.html

  70. #70 Totin'
    April 7, 2009

    I think Greg ought to say what it is he wants, precisely, so we don’t have to speculate any more.

    I think he should develop a post with descriptions of the kinds of laws he is looking for and some support for the results he think he will get, y’know, hypthesize and defend the hypthesis, like, well, a scientist.

  71. #71 DuWayne
    April 7, 2009

    Greg -

    Would it help if I wore chaps?

    Deen -

    Is theft really the only way that guns can be passed from legal owners to criminals? Especially when some of the owners in question don’t actually support the gun control measures?

    Pretty much. I’m not saying that legal owners never pass along their guns in a way that puts them into the hands of criminals, but that is more rare than theft. The bottom line is that relative to illegal guns coming into the U.S. from other countries, previously legal guns are a rarity.

    Well, you didn’t self-identify as a gun nut either, which is the sort of people I was referring to.

    A lot of actual gun nuts wouldn’t self identify as such either. Gun nut is a relative term, which is why I prefaced my initial comment with the question of where I fall. And I did so because I have experienced going on different forums and talking about the same discussion (usually about a recent, specific case of gun violence) and have been accused of being a part of both extremes.

    I have to say, to someone from Western Europe that sounds like something that only happens on TV.

    Unfortunately there are neighborhoods that if anything, are actually more dangerous than similar locals a century and a half ago. And it isn’t legal guns that make them that way.

    I would note that the person who owned the house and who was buying up property in that neighborhood, was trying to clean up the neighborhood, without totally gentrifying it. And he was relatively successful – it’s a much better neighborhood today, even though the income level is pretty much the same as it was eleven years ago. It isn’t the suburbs by any stretch and there is still an element of crime, but he actively encouraged folks in the neighborhood to foster an environment that isn’t tolerant of criminal activity.

  72. #72 Sevesteen
    April 7, 2009

    …and many that have been stopped because a gun was available, and more that would have been stopped if a gun had been available.

    Seriously overplayed.

    Not so much. A common Brady Campaign trick is to only count defensive gun use if a criminal unknown to the household is killed. Not counted is the far, far more common situation where a gun is used to scare off an attacker with no shots fired. Even if we would be legally justified, only the nuttiest of us *want* to kill.

    There are a handful of defensive shootings a day that make local news, and a bigger number of “scared off” incidents that don’t even get that coverage. Probably true that most of these aren’t saving a life, but some are. From my point of view, even the genuine defensive uses that don’t save a life are net positive.

  73. #73 Deen
    April 7, 2009

    DuWayne: do you have statistics for that? The most reliable looking info I’ve been able to find so far are from 1995, which claims that in 1994 78% of the guns that were traced were from the US. This appears to contradict your claim that a majority of guns come from illegal import, but I’d prefer a little bit more recent statistics.

    It troubles me a bit how dated many of the data on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ page on firearms is, by the way.

    However, you appear to be right that many of the illegal guns have been reported stolen. I have not seen any real evidence that legal gun owners are selling their own guns on the black market in any significant numbers, so I take that back. Although I’d be surprised if this isn’t the real reason behind some of the theft reports.

  74. #74 greg laden
    April 7, 2009

    I have not proposed specific legislation or other action so far for three reasons.

    1) I first want to clarify and possibly clear away some of the usual bullshit that accompanies this sort of discussion by seriously challenging it. This may take a while. I think Stephanie Zvan’s post on the revolution is an excellent start in this regard. In this case, the “we must have our guns handy to overthrow the government” argument is on very thin ice, for instance.

    2) I can’t propose anything specific until I know what problem we are trying to solve. I know the effects of the problems (thousands of people shot do death or maimed over alarmingly short periods of time, in an almost epidemic fashion localized to the US)

    3) I have a feeling that very little needs to be done legally. We may need to start seeing reports of the Coast Guard, the FBI, the ATF and the state and local cops busting illegal arms possession and trade to the extent that we hear it now with narcotics. Then we can start to talk about refining the laws.

  75. #75 Totin'
    April 7, 2009

    Greg,

    Thanks for clarifying. From my reading, however, your comment above is an evolution of thought from your introductory sentence:

    “Once again, cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms take a number of lives in yet another mass shooting.”

    Regarding your points above:

    1. If revolution is necessary, wouldn’t you prefer to be armed? The question is, under what conditions would revolution be necessary? The answer varies with each individual. So, personally, I don’t think you should waste any more time on it.

    2. That’s a fair take. So why not address it specifically? Are the high number of deaths that are related to gun violence caused by the prevalence of “cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms,” or is gun violence a sypmtom of a violent society? I figured you’d already answered that for yourself based on your introducotry sentence.

    3. To clear the streets of illegal weapons will require the active participation of law-abiding citizens. To get that participation, I think one should address the issue of the illegal weapons specifially, not introduce a post with the phrase: “Once again, cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms take a number of lives in yet another mass shooting.”

  76. #76 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2009

    Totin: Cut the shit, man. I will not entertain sophistry.

    Violence does not shoot people. Guns shoot people. And, ti think for a second that there is not feedback between these things is to ignore reality, even to ignore what is written above.

    On one hand people are saying: “Guns or not, the murder rate will still be high because you can kill people other ways.”

    On the other hand, the same people are saying “I need my gun to protect myself and my family from intruders with guns?

    Tautology, convolution, conflation, inconsistency, arguments for convenience. I call utter bullshit.

    I found myself today in a parking lot planning to eat my lunch. I needed a fork, but I did not have one. But I did have chopsticks. Eating macaroni salad with chopsticks gives a guy time to think.

    What I concluded was this: I can make the chopsticks work on the macaroni salad. But I can’t murder my family with a soup spoon.

  77. #77 Stephanie Z
    April 7, 2009

    It’s also possible that the problem is largely cultural, in which case, we need to be talking about it frequently. We need to make these connections between the base attitudes and the outcomes, and we need to challenge the illusions supporting the base attitudes.

    Of course, Totin’, when I’ve seen Greg do that, he’s still gotten called out as proposing changes in the laws. Some discussions, you can’t win for trying, mostly because some people aren’t interested in having any discussion.

  78. #78 Sevesteen
    April 7, 2009

    StephanieZ:

    I think you’re on the right track re: cultural. Gun death rates correlate with poverty and population density closer than they do with gun availability or gun laws.

  79. #79 D. C. Sessions
    April 7, 2009

    But I can’t murder my family with a soup spoon.

    The hyperbole isn’t helping your case.

    I’m twice $HERSELF’s size and in better physical condition, but there are knives in the kitchen [1] that are better than those she’s used for cleaning game when she was a girl. I’m counting on her not wanting to do me in while I sleep, ’cause there’s no doubt in my mind that she could if she wanted to.

    If Lorena Bobbitt had decided to slice John’s weasand instead of his willie, she wouldn’t have become a household name.

    [1] Never mind the machete in the garage.

  80. #80 Stephanie Z
    April 7, 2009

    Sevesteen, almost all rates of death correlate with poverty (save things like plane crashes). I’d like to see statistics on population density.

  81. #81 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2009

    DC, again, more sophistry. It is nothing like hyperbole to claim that a gun is a better killing machine than a knife or a car. It is not inaccurate to state that the purpose of a gun is to kill, though there occasionally might be some target practice, but the purpose of a kitchen knife (and yes, this is partly cultural but very real) is to slice mushrooms and the purpose of a car is to comute to work and back, etc.

    The conflation of spoons, knives, cars, and guns is sophistry. When the revolution does come, we’ll be doing in the sophists first, using whatever available weaponry we have.

  82. #82 D. C. Sessions
    April 7, 2009

    It is nothing like hyperbole to claim that a gun is a better killing machine than a knife or a car.

    The numbers don’t bear that out: in the USA, cars are four times better at killing people than guns are.

    The conflation of spoons, knives, cars, and guns is sophistry.

    Again, the hyperbole isn’t helping your case.

    You don’t help yourself rhetorically by cranking up the body count by orders of magnitude, nor by conflating machetes and napkin rings.

    Understand me: I’m not addressing the merits of your position. In fact, I suspect its the fact that I’m inclined to agree with you in many ways that makes the Republicanesque distortions so aggravating.

  83. #83 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2009

    DC: In america, we are using all of our cars all the time. The guns are sitting there in the drawer.

    Bottom line: The comparison is stupid and as I say is sophistry. Using car deaths as an excuse to avoid doing something about the carnage is in insult.

    DC, read back over what is being said, get hold of yourself, and take it down a notch. I’m telling you that conflation and confustion of utterly different issues is no longer acceptable in this argument. And you are disagreeing with me by disagreeing with me. Yet you fail to take your own advice!?!?!?

  84. #84 Stephanie Z
    April 7, 2009

    D.C. the body count issue was a typing error. Greg corrected it in a later comment.

  85. #85 Totin'
    April 7, 2009

    Hmm. I guess you were so pissed off at D.C. that you didn’t actually read what I wrote.

    Focussing on your point 2: “2) I can’t propose anything specific until I know what problem we are trying to solve. I know the effects of the problems (thousands of people shot do death or maimed over alarmingly short periods of time, in an almost epidemic fashion localized to the US).”

    To which I responded:
    “2. That’s a fair take. So why not address it specifically? Are the high number of deaths that are related to gun violence caused by the prevalence of “cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms,” or is gun violence a sypmtom of a violent society? I figured you’d already answered that for yourself based on your introductory sentence.”

    What I meant, which I did not make clear, it seems, is that you do have in your head what problem we are trying to solve: that of “cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms.” That is why I asked you how you thought the government should solve it, meaning, what more legislation we needed.

    If, however, the problem is not “cheap, only barely regulated and readily available firearms,” and it is not a violence-prone point of view among most folks in our society, then what the heck is the problem that leads – through the action of gun violence – to all the deaths?

    You’ve go me stumped.

    Back to number 3 – If further legislation is not what is required to remove the illegally-owned firearms from the streets and dirt paths, then citizen action is what must be relied on. To garner citizen action to pursue and collect illegally-owned firearms, one is going to need the assistance of legal gun owners, especially those who trade in guns. To get their assistance, one needs to get on their good side and address the issues they bring up, which is what you pointed out, above.

    I recommend that you don’t waste time on the nutters. You have no credibility with them, as they see you as an enemy, not just an altertaive point of view. You can tell who the nutters are, they are the ones who think other kinds of hand and power tools are equivalent to firearms in their applicability to how easily one person can kill many others.

    Address the moderate gun owners. Those who do keep all of their firearms, ammo and support materials in gun vaults or gun safes, who have no issue recording transfer of firearms from one law-abiding citizen to another, and who believe that those who want to be law-abiding gun owners should demonstrate to legal authority that they at least understand the safe handling and use of firearms.

  86. #86 D. C. Sessions
    April 7, 2009

    Address the moderate gun owners. Those who do keep all of their firearms, ammo and support materials in gun vaults or gun safes, who have no issue recording transfer of firearms from one law-abiding citizen to another, and who believe that those who want to be law-abiding gun owners should demonstrate to legal authority that they at least understand the safe handling and use of firearms.

    You seem to be distinguishing those you describe above from “nutters.” The problem is, the standard-issue NRA member fits the above on all points (at least as far as compliance goes; whether they’re happy about it is another matter.)

    And yet …

    There are any number of “they’re coming to take away my guns and I’m ready for them!” poster children among that same group. I don’t think you can separate them that readily.

    I’m not trying to abrasively sharpen any woodcutting tools here, but I don’t see the whole situation as readily drawn in black and white. An argument that treats a turf war between drug gangs the same as the family murder/suicide that triggered this is vulnerable on the grounds of fatal oversimplification.

  87. #87 Deen
    April 8, 2009

    D.C. wrote:

    The numbers don’t bear that out: in the USA, cars are four times better at killing people than guns are.

    Show me the numbers: how many people have deliberately tried to kill people using their car? So not the number of car accidents, but the number of people who purposefully (drunk or not) aimed their car at someone (known to them or not) and hit the throttle.

    Because that’s what we are talking about here: deliberate shootings, not accidental ones. Comparing deliberate shootings to accidental car crashes is simply not a fair comparison.

    Of course, when only looking at deliberate run-overs and car crashes, we should also subtract the number of accidental gun fatalities from the total number of gun fatalities. My guess is that the ratio will be reduced to quite a bit less than 4:1.

  88. #88 Totin'
    April 8, 2009

    D.C.,

    But you are making the mistake that I lump all NRA members into “nutters.” I offered my definition of “nutters” above.

    “An argument that treats a turf war between drug gangs the same as the family murder/suicide that triggered this is vulnerable on the grounds of fatal oversimplification.”

    I agree. That’s why I asked Greg Laden to explain if he thought the problem was societal violence, or the ready availability of “cheap” firearms. So far, he hasn’t bothered.

    Along the same lines of what I quoted just above, any argument that tries to equate all tools that can be / have been used to kill people is also vulnerable on the grounds of oversimplification. And anyone who continues to use such an argument after it has been pointed out to them that an automobile is not the same thing as a firearm shows they are not really interested in exchanging ideas, just “being right.”

  89. #89 Greg Laden
    April 8, 2009

    I agree. That’s why I asked Greg Laden to explain if he thought the problem was societal violence, or the ready availability of “cheap” firearms. So far, he hasn’t bothered.

    I question the use of the word “or” in this sentence. I question the nature of the argument that allows the use of the word “or” in a sentence like this.

    Along the same lines … bla bla bla … just “being right.”

    Sophistry. Please get back to the point.

  90. #90 Totin'
    April 8, 2009

    “and” is fine by me, but that implies you DO have an idea of what the source of the problem is, when you said you don’t.

    What is the source of the problem and how do we solve it?

    Do we act on our own, and/or do we create more legislation?

    If we add more legislation, what would it look like?