Sandy Hook: Their Horror, Our Country, Your Guns.

Let me start with this. People talking about Sandy Hook need to stop saying that "20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 were killed." That is technically true but misses an enormously important point and indicates that you really haven't thought this through. All of the children who were killed were born between September 2005 and December 2006. They were all in the first grade, all in the same school year, and most of them in the same exact class. Sandy hook had about 100 students in that year. Now, the class is 20% smaller.

This means that every year for the next few years there will be a special, demographic, reminder of the killings. This will be the year with one fewer teacher and slightly more crowded classrooms, or the same number of teachers with smaller than typical classes, compared to the year ahead or behind. This will be the year when the number of busses needed for a field trip will sometiems be less than needed for the year before or the year after, as time marches on. In this particular school district, students consolidate into a middle school in the fifth grade, so the demographic shift will be less noticeable. Instead of 20% of the students missing, it will be 5%. But, that is not a small number when counting students, teachers, busses, desks, etc. It will be subtle, but the 7th grade history teacher will wait an extra year to order new textbooks. You see, one of the reasons to order a new volume, besides staying current, is attrition on the numbers of available books. When this class arrives that won't be an issue for one more year. And so on. Many little things like this will happen, every week, to teachers, students, administrators. The memory, and thus the horror, of the Sandy Hook killings will be manifest in the details and will keep sneaking up on these people when they least expect it.

This is nothing, of course, compared to the horrors of the deaths and the circumstances surrounding them. But there will be times when a teacher will remember her fellow educator slain on that day while grading assignments and feeling the difference in numbers, or a student will notice that her section of the 4th grade concert assembly is smaller because her four best friends were slain while she hid in a cabinet, hearing her teacher trick the gunman into leaving the classroom just before being pumped with bullets. Will she remember the sound of her body falling to the floor or was it masked by the repeated gunfire or did she hear both sounds from her hiding place? You and I don't know, but she'll remember. If they make cute little year books for Elementary School graduation, this class will use less space, and it will take less time at the ceremony to hand out the scrolls. This will dawn on someone in the audience who will then be reminded of the horror, and if you are there, you'll hear the sobbing.

Anyway, stop saying "20 children between the ages of 5 and 10" because that ignores the very important fact that these children were all the same exact age, as ages go.

Now, on to this point: Stop telling me that your guns are important. I don't care about your guns. I have hobbies too, that don't happen to involve guns and I don't ask you to adjust your politics, to take risks of life and limb, to ignore the horrors of daily gunplay among testosterone poisoned men taking lives every few hours somewhere in this country, of the thousands of youth suicides every year facilitated by easy access to unsecured deadly firearms or the occasional horrific massacre. Do don't do that to me. Don't make me respect your stupid hobby which has, as a side effect, the horror that happened last week and will happen again in a few months, because these things happen every few months, in case you have not noticed because you are too busy playing with your precious little guns.

And then this. Don't give me your made up, out of date, or irrelevant statistics. There have been enough studies. Not all fears (about guns) are real, but most of the accolades given to gun ownership are pipe dreams, or really, gunplay fantasies. When a conceal carry law was passed in Minnesota, anti-gun people feared more shootings, pro-gun people said we'd all be safer because when trouble happened, good guys would draw guns and stop it. Guess what. Neither happened. We had a major massacre here, in fact, just recently, a workplace shooting. No good guys drew their guns. So even if the number of shootings did not go up, the "good side" of allowing people to walk around slinging guns like they lived in the wild west did not happen either. But otherwise, the statistics generally show that more guns equals more bad things that happen with guns. If good things happen because of these guns, they are very small in number, very infrequent, occur at a very low rate, if at all.

To depict these relationships I've drawn two graphs. I don't need to base them on data, because even though you will say "You are not a real skeptic if you make a graph with no data" (I dare you, say it in the comments), these two graphs summarize all that we know to be pretty much true. Here they are:

The more guns, the more bad shit that happens because of guns

If there is a positive effect of more guns, it is much less of an effect than the negative effects depicted above. This line, in real life, may in fact be flat.

Then this: The problem is the Second Amendment. With or without the Second Amendment, we could have sensible gun laws.Gun ownership could be legal, but guns could be better secured an less often used. But with the Second Amendment, the pro-gun lobby takes the most extreme stance possible because they argue that any limitations on gun use or ownership will lead to abrogation of all gun rights. I know lots and lots of gun owners who are happy with increased restrictions or increased security, but the NRA bought-and-paid-for elected officials and gun lobbyists don't represent those reasonable people at all. They refuse to compromise. One of the false statistic you might have wanted to cite above before I told you to shut up is this: There have been lots of gun restrictions passed and they did not good. That is not true in two ways. First, increased restriction leads to fewer deaths, compared across states or across countries. Second, there have not been very restrictive gun laws passed, for the most part. I've seen gun nuts cite the assault weapons ban as having done nothing, without noting that it exists for a few years then expired.

Here's the the thing. If gun ownership is OK, then lets make it ok, using laws. If gun owners really think that what they are doing is OK, then they should be able to do it without hiding behind an amendment that has nothing to do with Boys and their Toys or with Hunting, or even with addressing issues of crime, threats of rape, home invasion, etc. The Second Amendment does not limit restriction on guns so you can defend your home from criminals or go hunting. It is to defend your home from the British. If what you are doing with your guns is really OK, then why do you want to hide behind an atavistic centuries old out of date no longer relevant amendment?

So here's what we do, OK? First, we get rid of the Second Amendment. Then, we talk. In the mean time, keep your fucking guns away from me and stop complaining. Society has reached a tipping point. We are tired of your bullying, your whining, your childish insistence that you are doing something important with your toys, because for the most part, you are not.

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By robert nelson (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

If it will help you poor frightened Americans to let go of your obscene toys, I can confidently promise that we will not invade you in the foreseeable future. Honest.

By Joe Connell (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

Rights exist whether or not they are written down. They are inherent. The common example is that lead is heavy. You cannot take the heavy out of lead, or it ceases to be lead.

Humans, the world over, have the right to self defense. This is the point of many of our rights (self-sufficiency). The USA is unique because it first codified these concepts into law and expected the government to be limited in its power against these rights.

It doesn't matter what right we're speaking of...mentally ill people still have the first amendment rights of assembly, speech, the press, etc. So too do released felons. Should they not?

If society has reached a "tipping point", will CREDO use its good intentions to disarm the people at the NRA when they march?…

Whose guns are threatening you?

You can't put the shooter in jail, can't put the mother in jail (probably want to jail the innocent father)...will settle on jailing the guns?

I know that anecdotes are dangerous but I practiced as an inner city trauma surgeon for more than 20 years. In that time I never treated a perp who was shot by a citizen in the commission of a crime. Treated a number of cops shot in the line of duty, domestic abuse victims, suicide attempts, suicides, gang shootings, unintentional shootings, etc., but no home defense. I suspect that my experience is not unusual.

By Pliny the in Between (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

An argument I'm running across lately is one I'm calling Pandora's Box: the guns are out there, we're awash in them, and all the laws in the world won't bring them back. My own hunch is that laws do make a quantifiable, if small, difference, and given the stakes, I think a few slices of a solution is worth going for, even if it's not the whole loaf. Is there a good source you've found reliable for gun law and outcomes?

By Rob Tarzwell (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

'Whose guns are threatening you?"

Everyone's. That's the point. Do I need a gun pointed at me to know that guns have often been used to massacre people? Not really. Do you?

"Whose guns are threatening you?"

This year alone -- the Sandy Hook shooter, the Batman shooter, the mall shooter.

The dead can't respond to the question, so the living must. When 20 first graders are dead, it threatens me. It threatens my children; it threatens our society. As this article implies, 20 kids is significantly fewer. The beauty of kids is the possibility of what they could be... perhaps one who we lost was our next Albert Einstein.

The notion that "it doesn't matter right we're speaking of" is too simplistic a position. Of course it matters what right we are speaking of and, BTW, there are limitations on all our rights, including freedom of speech -- a ton of exceptions. Perhaps one most on point is: you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater. Why? Because it endangers the public.

I don't think that "jailing the guns" is a violation of the guns' rights. Are you trying to make the old argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people? It's not the gun's fault? That argument is pretty feeble. Does that mean that we let the people who are killing other people with guns unrestricted access to guns? Because that is what the position advocates. We can't stop madmen; it's true. So we need to stop how much damage they can do.

In China, a similar madman attacked 22 school children and guess what, not a single fatality. So yes, let's jail the guns. Let's prioritize children's lives over the desire to play an aim game that could be equally achieved with paintball.

Look on the bright side - access to guns will save the Newtown school district $$$ on textbooks in the long run. As Hilaire Belloc once wrote about keeping tigers as pets: 'mothers of large families, who claim to common sense/ find that tigers well repay the trouble and expense'.

By Henry Gee (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

ron: I agree that rights exist whether or not they are embodied in something like the 2nd amendment. I am in fact saying that in this post. I'm also saying that having the second amendment makes gun ownership not a right but an imposing self perpetuating unassailable fetish that can't be rationally discussed.

Trust me. Get rid of the 2nd amendment. That won't allow us to take away your guns, but it might make it more likely for you to act responsibly with them.

@ Swati...guns have no rights. They are inanimate objects. It is not the gun's fault.

I know about the China attack. Are you saying that this attack is somehow acceptable.

Following your logic, the China attack repeats. Following my logic, people (who use guns) stop both the China and the US shootings. How, you ask? Just like they have in the past...…

As for every gun in America specifically being a direct threat to are much more likely to be injured by a vehicle, yet you see other vehicles and likely utilize one from time to time. Yet you do not call for strict vehicle ownership laws. You can go to any state any time and buy a vehicle with CASH.

If you want to talk about 10 year olds and unintentional deaths (because people don't kill people, guns do?) here's a stat on guns vs furniture.…

@ Greg...why should responsible people have their possessions taken from them by force?

Why should you have your dangerous toys taken away from you by force? For the greater good, that's why. So stop being so selfish.

By Henry Gee (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

It shouldn't have to be pointed out that comparing guns to furniture or cars is a non-sequitur. Those things have a beneficial primary purpose, and we can accept a certain amount of negative with the overwhelming positive. Now, if the negative begins the outweigh the positive, we can enact stricter enforcement of safety, like requiring seatbelts or recalls. But Guns do not have an alternate purpose. They are designed to kill. And the enjoyment that gun enthusiasts get from shooting them and playing at war doesn't come close at balancing the mass killings we've seen recently.

Look at this
One CCW person can stop a lot of the carnage. The debate is about stopping this violence a well trained and armed citizen can stop this problem. We need no more gun laws. A Trained and Armed citizen at that school would have stopped this carnage before it started.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the gunman was stopped by this CC guy. But listen to what the CC guy says: It is very good evidence that even a somewhat trained person is not very good at keeping their head together in a case like this, and it is a good example of the dangers of people pulling out weapons to defend humanity from crazy people. Also, again, as we all know, things like this don't happen very often at all.

If way way more people had guns they might happen more often. But guess what. We're not going to allow that because we are done with the guns.

When you think of bad arguments and non-sequiturs remember every gun in America is a threat, why does anyone NEED 3 vehicles, China's kids are better off...etc...

Do we love our guns more than the citizens of our American Family. More Americans have been killed by guns on our soil than all the wars combined. The next shooting could effect a member of anyones family, so lets do the right thing. I live in Iowa and feel that I lost family members from this last shooting event.. We are one big American family!

Actually, maybe it would be a good idea for Britain to invade America. Since we let you go in 1776 you've just gone downhill and regressed to the state of spoiled toddlers carrying loaded weapons. You all clearly need a good spanking and being sent to bed without any tea.

By Henry Gee (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

"I have hobbies, too"
Well said. I have hobbies, as well. I own guns. They are a hobby. I also own telescopes. If telescopes killed as many people as guns do, I would feel obliged to give them up. But up here in Canada, guns don't kill anywhere near as many people as they do in the States. I wonder why? Is it because I had to go through a series of simple tests to acquire a certificate to own a gun? That can't be it... Surely Americans would have no problem with being required to prove they are competent gun owners, would they? And to register their firearms with local law enforcement? Would that be so egregious an offense to your Liberty that you would be willing to allow massacres like these to persist? I think America needs to take a long, hard look at itself.

I applaud your honesty on admitting that it would take a constitutional amendment to get what you want.

Interesting to see it contrasted with the First Amendment.

For some background on the current state of law you might want to peruse this article…

There's also some statistical analysands here and here.
Gratuitous links removed

And this one too. Remember that while correlation does not necessarily mean causation it is a required part.

If I gave you an indication that I thought we NEEDED to change the constitution to have sane gun laws, that was a mistake. But it is, yes, how I would like to proceed at this point.

And interesting a link that matches up the 2011 Small Arms Survey with global murder statistics was removed.

As well as a link that correlated the FBI 2011 Uniform Crime Report with Census Bureau, the Small Arms Survey of 2003, the BATFE Annual Firearm Manufacturers and Export Report.

Funny how actual charts that show the number of guns versus number of firearms crimes and the number of guns versus number of murders was cut out.

How scientific.

Perhaps the links will come through now.

Link removed

Ah so they did.

link remoeved

Welp, there's some data. In case anyone wants to see something.

Trust you? You will talk after the 2nd amendment is repealed? I think no one who supports the right to keep and bear arms should trust you.

Never trust anyone with a gun who won't be honest with you about why they have it and who prefers to conceal it while they walk around among us.

Jack, let me 'splain. Long time readers already know this. This blog is not a link farm for creationists, ant-vaxers, climate change denialists, or gun nuts. It is not a strict rule; I don't have strict rules because strict rules are merely bait for trolls to play with. But I don't generally allow links to those sites.

"My" guns weren't used to kill anyone, Mr. Laden, so don't bring "my" guns into this. Your made up graphs are laughable. It shows exactly your simplistic thought process. Your appeal to the magic of legislation is also pretty laughable. There's a certain segment of the population that assigns this magical aura to legislation, as if words written into some law register will solve the problem that you so badly want solved. Oh, but it will be smart legislation, tough legislation. Everyone that I hate will hate it and that will fill me with glee. Politicians endlessly pander to these people (like yourself) and it works because you vote for them. This entire post of yours shows you to be an emotional and lazy thinker, Mr. Laden, and totally unbecoming of a scientist.

Juice, you mad.

We're coming, Juice. We're gonna take those guns of yours. We're gonna take 'em away.

the horrors of daily gunplay among testosterone poisoned men

the guns that sperglord used to kill those kids belonged to his MOTHER bright spark. christ you're such a hysterical, melodramatic flaming drama queen greg bin laden. it's more than hilarious that you were even too much for the transgender pseudo-marxist white social justice "allies" over at that shithole echo-chamber freethought blogs. if you haven't done so already, you can probably get your HMO to organize you an orchidectomy, claiming that your testicles are poisoning you and you'd like 'em removed to achieve peace at your deep sense of guilt and shame at having not been born a woman of color. lol. pansy ass cracker faggot.

By ibrahim al mal… (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

I see the slimepit has arrived! Which one are you? Mykeru? John Greg? AngryAtheist?

If even one of the teachers had a gun, they could have blown Lanza to hell.

Winston, if teachers even occasionally but routinely carried guns, Lanza would simply have shot the teachers first. Plus, generally speaking, teachers don't want to carry guns. So no. You don't get to force other people to live out your gun-nut fantasy. Sorry.

Teachers with guns. Nothing could go wrong there. No doubt guns would be locked in a cabinet though. A shooter could do a lot of killing before a teacher managed to get into the cabinet.

Why take guns back by force though? Why not use the buy-back option? It has worked in New York, and in other countries, and gun-related shootings dropped.

By Dan J. Andrews (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

Personally I think we should repeal the first amendment if it allows people to make graphs with "bad stuff" on the y-axis.

By Matt Springer (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

Last time i checked many of the guns used in the shootings this past year HAVE regulations and laws that accompanied them. So correct me if im wrong, it didnt stop the assasian from obtaining them and using them to claim innocent lives. People are making guns out to be the bad guys when in reality its the people who obtain them illegally to begin with. What we need to be focusing on is security measures. Outlaws dont follow laws.

"Rights exist whether or not they are written down. They are inherent."

No Ron. And no Greg. Rights do not exist whether or not they are written down. The only rights you have ARE those that are written down. Your 'rights' have been given to you, and they can just as easily be taken away.

There is not one single 'right' that exists in a western democratic country that is not being 'violated' in a non-democratic country. You know why? It's because those 'rights' were never given to anyone in the first place, or if they were, they were taken away with a stroke of a pen.

"The USA is unique because it first codified these concepts into law and expected the government to be limited in its power against these rights.

No again. The USA is neither unique, nor was it the first to codify certain "rights". That has been around for centuries, and includes documents like the Magna Carta. And they are not rights - they are restrictions on powers that are enforced on governments by citizens. All national constitutions do the same - it is commonplace.

And the very fact that those 'rights' have to be codified should tell you that they aren't inherent. If they weren't in the constitution, they wouldn't exist and the government could legislate to their hearts' content in 'violation' of those 'rights'.

Guns - particularly guns that have no purpose other than to kill people - should be taken out of the hands of ordinary citizens. But if the citizens of the USA are too stupid to accept that obvious point, then who are we to care if you keep killing yourselves in ridiculously large numbers. Maybe the USA will be the first country to win the annual Darwin award.

Rights exist whether or not they are written down.

Really? Prove it. Demonstrate empirically what rights exist without being defined by some society or another. How can we tell which rights these are? How would they exist without anyone enforcing them?

The common example is that lead is heavy. You cannot take the heavy out of lead, or it ceases to be lead.

This is a really stupid analogy, not least because 'heavy' is a relative quality. Heavy relative to what? If you mean that you can't change the mass of lead while it remains lead, you're wrong. There are 4 naturally occuring lead isotopes of different mass, and we could make more, and they'd still be lead.

By Dalillama (not verified) on 17 Dec 2012 #permalink

I remember only a few months ago watching the Olympics. I remember being awed by the skill, the strength, and the fortitude of Americans. Including one of the greatest athletes we have sent to the games. Remember, if all guns are threatening, so are hers.

Most guns are sitting at homes. Locked safely away. If you are threatened by them, you may as well be threatened by the bears living in Alaska, who have an equally small chance of harming you, unless you live in Alaska.

That does not mean that there are not people who should not have guns,that mandatory training is a bad idea, or that somebody actually needs a 30 round clip. But it means that while guns can harm us physically and spiritually (I use the term without religious intent), they can also feed us and exemplify the American spirit (they are very unlikely to protect you though, except maybe from those aforementioned bears).

ron says: "Yet you do not call for strict vehicle ownership laws. You can go to any state any time and buy a vehicle with CASH."

Are you really that ignorant of motor vehicle laws in this country. I don't know about where you're from, but I had to take written tests, and road tests before I was given a drivers license. I also have to periodically retake the sign and vision test to get my license reissued. My car is registered to me, and requires an annual inspection to ensure its safety. I'm also required to have insurance while driving, so if I injure someone while using my vehicle, I can pay for the damage. Drivers of larger and more deadly vehicles (e.g., buses and large trucks) have even more stringent requirements to ensure the safety of the public (e.g., CDLs). People with medical conditions that make it unsafe for them to operate motor vehicles (e.g., epilepsy, nacrolepsy, etc) are also routinely denied licenses.

So, I wholeheartedly agree that we should take the same policy approach to motor vehicles that we do to guns. We should test and license gun owners/users, we should register the guns, and require insurance. And we should refuse licences to those with medical conditions that make it unsafe to operate firearms. That seems like a reasonable approach.

Also the "criminals don't obey laws, so there's no point in making them" argument applies to every single law we have. Why outlaw bank robbery if bank robbers don't obey laws anyway? It's ridiculous. No one is arguing that better laws will stop every instance of gun violence, but that doesn't mean that they can't reduce the incidence of gun violence.

Greg, here's the core problem: America has always been infested with guns. What has changed over the past fifty years is that the mass media have become absolutely saturated with graphic images of glorified gun violence, including video games that "reward" players for committing "virtual" murder.

Recently there was a televised stolen car chase that ended when the perpetrator stopped the car, got out, and shot himself to death, live on television. Immediately the cries went up that broadcasting a suicide will lead to copycats.

Someone please explain to me how one televised suicide is supposed to trigger copycats, but thousands of televised and computer-gamed murders per year are harmless.

For that matter, someone please explain to me how taking _smoking_ out of films and even digitally editing out cigarettes in historic photos, is supposed to reduce smoking, but removing the murder and mayhem in films and suchlike won't reduce murder and mayhem.

The old line about "it's only fiction" is bunk to the point of quackery (and very convenient quackery it is). Cognitive science is clear on this: at an emotional and instinctive level, most humans don't distinguish between true pictures and realistic false pictures. Even where viewers and game players can say explicitly, "it's only fiction," exposure to that material still builds up an emotional narrative to the effect that all of life's problems can be solved and great glory earned, by killing other humans for fun and profit.

Reflect on this: we have developed a culture that _enjoys_ violence. People watch violent movies and play violent video games because they _enjoy_ violence. The violence gives them pleasure. From there it's only a matter of degree and individual variation, that a statistically predictable number of people go out and do it in real life.

So if we're going to talk about rewriting Constitutional amendments, we should start with the First. The fatal flaw in the 1st A is that it establishes "speech" as a "legal entity" unto itself, as separate from the humans who speak as a corporation is legally separate from its owners and executives. The amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." This is subtly and significantly different to "Congress shall make no law... abridging the right of the people to speak, or to publish..."

From "speech as entity" to the legal protection of all such "entities", we have now reached the point where the Supreme Court has ruled: a) that child pornography is legal so long as no real children were used: thus videos of adults raping computer-simulated children are now "protected speech," and b) that getting on radio or TV and encouraging members of the audience to assassinate a sitting President is also now "protected speech."

Enough was enough long ago. First, we need to change the wording to protect the right of natural persons to speak and publish. Second, we need to define in the wording that graphic depictions of violence (including "simulated" kiddie porn: child molestation is rape, and rape is violence) and explicit incitements to violence, are no longer protected speech but a form of obscenity that can be prohibited. Third, we need to prohibit and then prosecute.

This will not inhibit civic discourse or artistic expression, any more than laws against child porn made with "real children" do. It will rule out a narrow slice of the nearly infinite range of potential human expression: a slice that is wholly pernicious and has no redeeming value or justification. Hollywood will find something else to make films about, and video game producers will do likewise. The culture will change. And I'll bet you the price of a house that the number of violent crimes including mass murders, will decline accordingly.

Otherwise you can prohibit guns all you like, but criminals will still get hold of them, and psychopaths will still get hold of large quantities of gasoline with which to burn down buildings and the people in them, or small quantities of certain chemicals with which to make poison gas, and the carnage will continue in other forms.

@ Penn...this would be better if the parents / heirs of the victims were paid an insurance claim after this? Are you not calling for all the guns and vehicles to come out of circulation?

This idea that "mentally ill" people (and that's an ever expanding definition that will now include hoarders) don't have rights or are somehow less human is simply eugenics. It's not surprising to see gun control and eugenics linked, as it's been done before in history. Nor is it surprising to see Atheists following Darwin down the eugenic path.

You might think that government agents will be around when you need them, but you're dozens of minutes away from being helped.

Freedom is being able to draw a line in the sand that says" this far and no further; I will not be coerced". Being coerced by another human being is not freedom.

Yoou sir, are a foll.

By Terry M Chambers (not verified) on 18 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Dalilama:

Societies in and of themselves exist to protect absolute rights, according to Blackstone:

"For the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature, but which could not be preserved in peace without that mutual assistance and intercourse which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. Hence it follows, that the first and primary end of human laws is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals. Such rights as are social and relative result from, and are posterior to, the formation of states and societies: so that to maintain and regulate these is clearly a subsequent consideration. And, therefore, the principal view of human laws is, or ought always to be, to explain, protect, and enforce such rights as are absolute, which in themselves are few and simple: and then such rights as are relative, which, arising from a variety of connections, will be far more numerous and more complicated."

Here's the source:

While you may disagree with the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, you may agree with the Right to Due Process and many others. If Rights are not absolute, you have majority rule, where the minority is stripped of its rights and trampled.

Perhaps we need to reevaluate what Rights are, on what moral basis the civil rights movement succeeded, and if we desire a Republic where individuals in a minority have rights, or a democracy, where the majority rules.

Ron, that is a very weak philosophical argument. We want the guns locked up, we want zero high-capacity mags, we want no automatic weapons or other guns not used for hunting, and we want limits on the number of guns you can own, and we will get these things.

You speak of rights but you are a monster if you don't think the rights of 20 six year olds count to a much greater degree than your right to play with your boy toys.

Greg... Government failed to uphold the rights of these victims to have their lives defended. We all agree that many of them were too young to defend themselves. It is people who desire "gun control" that ensured the nearest opportunity for those victims to be defended was minutes away when seconds cost lives. The well intentioned laws have failed. The weak philosophical argument says that more laws would change the situation...that imprisoning the inanimate object solves a problem.

Perhaps I presume too much. Are you now saying these victims had a Right to life where 60-70 months ago ago they did not?

For goodness sake, Ron. All you have to do is look at what has happened in Australia since the Port Arthur massacre. That was the seventh such massacre in 10 years, and the worst. So we had new laws introduced and spent buckets of money buying back newly prohibited weapons (or weapons people didn't want to keep because they didn't want the trouble or expense of complying with the new safe storage laws).

And in the 16 years since then? We have had precisely one, random-deranged-stranger shooting 2 people dead. No mass killings of random people in streets or parks or schools. We still have domestic killings by legally held guns, and criminals killing each other in disputes over territories and the like with illegal guns, as well as very few other gun homicides - but no mass shootings. Not in 16 years. Whereas in the USA 45% of the people killed in mass shootings of the last 30 years have been killed in the last 5 years.…

Things have been getting worse and worse since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. If you want to argue against reinstating or extending that earlier ban, you have to work within the statistics of the damage that "freedom" of gun possession does. (For starters, I don't see how massive clips and magazines have any place in any civilian setting. Anyone who can mount a successful argument that this is permissible, or desirable, should get themselves signed up as a legal representative. They'd be the very best ever seen.)

Greg. While I understand locking up guns, understand that high capacity magazines do not make any sense, I don't see why we should limit the number of guns someone can own. This isn't a video game where you can carry 30 guns at a time. But hunting and sports do require different guns, and just like cars or any thing else, there are collectors. Please do lock them up, but limiting the number does not make sense.

My son has Autism and has drawn a knife on his Mother several times. It’s very sad that the opponents of gun control dribble out of the woodwork, like the political maggots they are demanding new gun laws when there is a traumatic incident as the one in Massachusetts. However there are limits to what help you can receive from the medical profession as my family has found out. THERE IS LITTLE INTERVENTION OR ASSISTANCE TO HALT THIS TERRIBLE NEUROLOGICAL BRAIN IMBALANCE. ONCE AGAIN IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY AND THE SILENCE FROM THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES WHO ARE BENEFITING FROM THIS ISSUE WITH BUCKETFUL OF DRUGS.OF COURSE THERE IS ANOTHER FACTOR THAT THE GUN ADVOCATES SAY LITTLE ABOUT, IN THAT THE DRUG COMPANIES MAY BEAR SOME RESPONSIBILITY IN THE INJECTIONS CONTAINING SMALL AMOUNTS OF MERCURY GIVEN TO BABIES AT TIME OF BIRTH. In addition an only small contribution is evident to the growing problem of Autism, which is reaching uncomfortable proportions? More money is needed for research relating to the Autism Spectrum Disorder, which thousands of families must deal with on a daily basis. There are no guns in my household and yet I do not blame gun owners, who possess them to protect their families from criminals who will circumvent any new gun laws.

By Dave Francis (not verified) on 18 Dec 2012 #permalink

Dave, the mercury containing compounds used to limit fungal contamination (sound familiar? How many have died in the last few weeks due to lack of an anti-fungicide?) do not and did not cause autism and also have hardly ever been used or not at all in most of the vaccines that crazy BOLD FACED anti-vaxers claim.

I totally agree that more research should be done, though, that's true.

Regarding the political maggots who want to limit guns, sorry, we're taking over and we'll be taking your guns away. I do hope you keep yours very well locked up given your particular circumstances.

Well, this post is compelling, but after reading some of these completely insane comments, I have to say the comments are even more compelling—gun nuts and anti-vax nuts on one thread. We sane Americans are coming to get your guns.

More craziness...
Utah elementary school student brought gun to school
The 11-year-old claimed his parents wanted him to bring it in for protection after the Newtown, Conn. shootings.…

By Matt Bowman (not verified) on 18 Dec 2012 #permalink

You live in a fantasy world, Greg. You're no more taking over than you are going to prove the existence of Dark Matter. The problem with self proclaimed intellectuals like yourself is that you believe absolutely that you are correct. Everyone else is either misguided, misinformed, or a flammer.

You are not always right, your opinions are not gold standard truth, and your convictions are misplaced. I respect anyone who defends their positions passionately, but there is a difference between debate and blind ignorance.

You have proven time and time again on this site that you have no wiggle room for acceptance and understanding of differing points of view. You are not a scientist, you're an asshole with a degree. You're no better than the religious fanatics that sent our fore bearers into the fire.

You're a pathetic, sniveling little twerp and until you can accept you are not God of all that happens under the sun you should abandon this blog.

Blackstone's mental masturbation onto paper constitutes evidence of nothing more than Blackstone's thought processes. He, like you, claims that there exist natural rights, but offerns no wasy to distinguish them from other rights which a society provides, nor any way of determining empirically what in fact they might be. Have you got any actual evidence for the existence of your so-called 'natural rights'?

By Dalillama (not verified) on 18 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ dalilama...just all of recorded history, which, apparently isn't enough.

If you live in a construct where there are no rights, no justice, no moral absolutes,...well...what really is the point of arguing on any issue? You believe in these things, or you would not have an opinion. You can't use air to breathe while arguing against the concept of air (then again, maybe that's reasonable to you).

The US has the highest gun ownership per capita in the world – nine guns for every 10 Americans and not one law abiding citizen was allowed to bring their guns onto the "Gun Free Zone" called Sandy Hook Elementary to include the gunman that killed 26 people that day...only difference is, the criminal did it anyway knowing law abiding citizens would not be there with guns to defend their own children.

"The well intentioned laws have failed."
The well intentioned laws that have been able to pass in the U.S. have been very weak because of the strong gun lobby refusing to allow good, rational gun regulations to pass. As it is now, it's extremely easy for anyone, even criminals and would-be criminals to get their hands on virtually any firearm they want. Making it harder for individuals to obtain a firearm of any kind would indeed solve part of the problem. Before you say, "well criminals ignore the law" remember that if the law is properly enforced they'll have a hell of a time trying to get a firearm easily and cheaply and the result would be fewer criminals with firearms and thus fewer fatal assaults.

Under our current laws, criminals have no problem getting guns and it's not because they merely ignore the law: it's because the laws we have now are laughable and we in the U.S. have so many guns we're practically tossing boxes of them into the streets and handing them out like Halloween candy with very little accountability.

I'm not saying we should ban all guns. If we just had better regulations of guns and increased accountability for guns there would be less violence and less homicide. The rest of the developed world has done just this through legislation and they now have less violence and less homicide. We in the U.S. fight all attempts at regulation and accountability, and what do you know, we have an incredibly high rate of violence and homicide. It's funny how that works.

Ron, each society that has existed has defined the rights held by members thereof. I challenge you to find a single right that is universally held to apply to everyone in all cultures. Guaranteeing certain rights demonstrably increases internal peace (including low crime rates, low rates of government violence, and no civil war) and prosperity. I would argue that these are good rights for government to gurarntee, because a peaceful and prosperous life appeals to me. Similarly, restricting or denying some rights demonstrably increases peace and prosperity. I would argue that those are good rights to restrict or deny, because a peaceful and prosperous life appeals to me. I don't need to appeal to any kind of 'natural law' or similar theology to determine what rights are beneficial to ensure and which ones aren't.

By Dalillama (not verified) on 18 Dec 2012 #permalink

"The only and primary purpose for bow and arrow is to kill. Therefore we should outlaw bows and arrows."

As an archer, I find the above argument obviously ridiculous: yes they are deadly weapons, no I can't justify shooting other then that I like doing it, but I'm not going to kill anyone so get over it. Anyhow, I see where honest gun owners may be coming from.

My point is not to forgo gun regulations, but to stop insulting honest gun owners. Demonizing otherwise good people helps no one. I agree that the 2nd amendment is anachronistic, and I would certainly vote for its repeal, but I don't see it as a legal barrier to effective gun control and regulation. The problem is a vocal and idiologically rigid minority with outsized influence.

By S. Williams (not verified) on 21 Dec 2012 #permalink

My two biggest pet peeves right now are:

1) The "innocent" children who were killed.... meaning what? That some children deserve to die?

2) The platitudes about teaching children "respect for life" (from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson), as if this were merely a case of failed parenting. Don't we all know a family of healthy happy people with one exception, one black sheep? Sometimes unhealthy people come out of healthy families. I'm not saying this was the case in Newton because I really don't know.

I guess I'm more generally tired of people who think they have "the" solution. I don't think there is just one solution to this problem.

I've pledged publicly to surrender my firearms peacefully if they are banned outright:…

By Mike Lewinski (not verified) on 22 Dec 2012 #permalink

You might think that government agents will be around when you need them, but you’re dozens of minutes away from being helped.

By Pasindu Jayanada (not verified) on 23 Dec 2012 #permalink

Pasindu, throw in a little paranoia and make sure there are LOTS of guns around, and you've got exactly what the NRA is programming people to think.

BEST article on the topic I've read, ever. A couple bits of editing/spell check would make it perfect. But the points? Pardon the pun, but you blow the opposition completely away. Well done. Everyone needs to read this blog entry.

when GUNS are outlawed, only OUTLAWS will have guns.THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO>

Greg, beware of attempting to set a precedent of playing fast and loose with one Constitutional amendment. You want to eviscerate the Second by imposing far greater restrictions on firearms.

Broadly speaking, the number of gun owners in the US is roughly equal to the number of vehicle drivers (same order of magnitude). The number of guns is roughly equal to the number of vehicles (again, same order of magnitude), and is rather higher than the number of gun owners/vehicle drivers. Respective numbers are high tens of millions for the former, low hundreds of millions for the latter.

The number of gun-related deaths is roughly a third to a half of the number of vehicle deaths, depending on who counts and how. That is despite extensive licensing requirements universally imposed on vehicle drivers and vehicles that are much less prevalent for guns.

Restrictions on Second Amendment rights such as registration, limiting types of firearms, numbers owned by one person, and the like, would set disturbing precedents for other Constitutional rights that have already been eroded by the bogus war on terror. Imagine a world in which typewriters had to be registered with the government, citizens had no access to photocopiers, and only those with special permission could own personal computers. Such a world has already existed: the former Soviet Union and its satellites, as defectors and emigres emphasized after escaping. The registration and permit system for old-fashioned typewriters there really got me.

But if you decide to impose restrictions on one amendment, don't be surprised if philosophically similar restrictions follow for others. After all, as with today's rifles, the Founders never envisioned word processors and the Internet, right?

Let's look at some specific issues with guns. You have discussed in past entries horrific examples of toddlers picking up a parent's gun and shooting others. These cases are in fact highly suspicious, and were I a police investigator, I'd be looking into the possibility that a parent framed a murder on the toddler to escape punishment, as most triggers require too much force for a toddler's fingers to manage. That is doubly so when considering the parent just happened to leave the gun in the open in plain sight and reach of the child "by accident".

Likewise, the recent case in Pennsylvania of a father "accidentally" shooting his 7–year-old son in his vehicle when his pistol just happened to go off is likewise highly suspicious. That's especially true when considering that the son just happened to be special needs (autistic), the father was divorced and paying child support that was undoubtedly higher than the norm given the son's disability, and he had just left a gun store to try to sell his weapons to pay bills.

These cases smack of murder committed by parents who were able to make the events look like an accident to receive lenient treatment and sympathy—maybe even avoid charges altogether. We seem to be all too willing to do so for each incident on the grounds that the parent "has suffered enough". And then that's another death chalked up to "irresponsible use of guns" as opposed to the true cause, which is a criminal act.

Now let's consider the horrible events in Connecticut. Adam Lanza had been a problem for some years and required intervention that never came. From accounts he had recently been burning himself with a lighter, had played violent video games for hours and hours each day, was prone to tantrums and ever more violent outbursts, and had recently been posting online about wanting to kill his mother.

His mother in turn had pulled Adam out of school after the school wanted to pursue some sort of unspecified (so far) action for his issues, to homeschool him instead. You have been critical of homeschooling, Greg, and this aspect of the Lanza case deserves much more scrutiny. His mother had begun expressing fear of Adam, yet she isolated herself and him through homeschooling instead. She was also giving him a vegan diet, and perhaps this caused problems in some fashion. We don't know. We also don't know the whole story of how he managed to steal his mother's weapons, as perhaps they were locked away but he found a way to get to them.

We do know what he did after killing his mother. But many questions remain about the school shootings, and much of what has come to light looks, well, off. Would someone like Adam with all his problems really have been able to pull off a mass shooting, or was there as reported initially a second shooter? Why all the discrepancies in accounts of weapons used vs. weapons left in the mother's vehicle at the school? How to explain video of parents and families of victims apparently feigning sorrow for cameras, as in caught laughing one minute and crying on cue when the filming began the next?

The term "false flag operation" comes to mind here. It seems extraordinary that we have had so many mass shootings or attempts this year, especially since a President known to share your dislike of firearms and the Second Amendment won reelection, and especially since most of the shooters just happened to kill themselves after killing others. A government capable of the operation "Fast and Furious" that placed weapons in the hands of Mexican drug gangs is certainly capable of staging horrific mass shootings to arouse support to restrict firearms—and from there other rights.

You have been played, and your opprobrium is therefore misplaced. Beware of calling for abolitions and restrictions on firearms. The Second Amendment and guns today, the First Amendment and your blog tomorrow.

By ekrampitzjr (not verified) on 24 Dec 2012 #permalink

The comparison of guns and cars only suggests that guns should be more regulated, not less, because cars are HIGHLY REGULATED and we still seem to have "rights" to have them.

I have no interest in eviscerating the second amendment. A simple repeal is all that is needed. Then it can RIP, uneviscerated.

What a horrible article, I can taste the bias before even reading it. Your arguments are invalid and it's funny that you think the arguments are even worth writing down

By Will Brooks (not verified) on 25 Dec 2012 #permalink

I forgot to mention whoever wrote this is a complete loser. Since my comment won't be approved, have fun with your pathetic bias and filtered comments

By Will Brooks (not verified) on 25 Dec 2012 #permalink

The 2nd amendment was not meant for personal protection or hunting. It was meant to have a check against runaway tyrannical government. To ban or restrict any small arms goes against the very essence of the 2nd amendment. I hear people saying the 2nd was meant for muskets. Well yes it was but at the time the rifle and musket were the state of the art. The same weapons used by the continental army. Our nation is too young to restrict citizens rights to "protect" against tyranny.

It was meant for a time when we settled our political differences with guns as a routine matter. As civilization has advanced this has become something we publicly recognize as a bad idea, even if we still do it quite often. I say that the US should lead in the advance of civilization, not follow.

Of course, we'll never catch up to to Canada at the rate we are going ...

All the above statements assume that Sandy Hook really happened. Do some REAL research. Read some of the books and evidence NOT presented by the controlled mass media and then decide for yourself. Some of the donation sites were created before the supposed event. Some of the crisis actors appear in other events (Boston etc.) the photo you show of students evacuating was taken before the date of the "event" ( where are the hundreds of students that should have been there?) there are at least two versions of that picture with the 20 or so students in a different order (MUST have been staged). etc. etc. Think for yourself!!!! It is NOT beyond the capabilities or the evilness of certain gov't factions to fake these for their own agenda. Even if it were true, there were already many laws that would have been broken. laws/bans do nothing to deter wrong doers!

By John Keen (not verified) on 26 Oct 2017 #permalink

Greg,,thanks for being honest that your graphs are not based on data (only your bias) There, I dared. I dare you to post the other 2 comments that are "awaiting moderation". P.S. right on Dude Man! Maybe we should repeal the first amendment based on semantics also? (the militia fallacy) Sure, trust the government, they will protect you and not ever lie to you.

By John Keen (not verified) on 26 Oct 2017 #permalink

"Greg Laden
December 18, 2012
Ron, that is a very weak philosophical argument. We want the guns locked up, we want zero high-capacity mags, we want no automatic weapons or other guns not used for hunting, and we want limits on the number of guns you can own, and we will get these things.
You speak of rights but you are a monster if you don’t think the rights of 20 six year olds count to a much greater degree than your right to play with your boy toys.
Greg Laden
December 18, 2012
Dave, the mercury containing compounds used to limit fungal contamination (sound familiar? How many have died in the last few weeks due to lack of an anti-fungicide?) do not and did not cause autism and also have hardly ever been used or not at all in most of the vaccines that crazy BOLD FACED anti-vaxers claim.
I totally agree that more research should be done, though, that’s true.
Regarding the political maggots who want to limit guns, sorry, we’re taking over and we’ll be taking your guns away. I do hope you keep yours very well locked up given your particular circumstances.

Greg Laden
December 17, 2012
Juice, you mad.
We’re coming, Juice. We’re gonna take those guns of yours. We’re gonna take ’em away." Again thanks for being truthful about your real agenda. Who is we Greg???????????????? you and Adolph. "To conquer a nation, First disarm it's citizens" Adolph Hitler again I'd be really surprised if you post this after "moderation"

By John Keen (not verified) on 26 Oct 2017 #permalink