How Does the Sandy Hook Massacre Demonstrate the Need for Gun Controls That Have Nothing to Do With It?

On Monday I argued that it's fair to judge President Obama's gun control agenda, which he is unveiling today, by the extent to which his proposals can realistically be expected to prevent mass shootings like last month's attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Why? Because that is how he himself described his goal: "to make sure that the kinds of violence we saw at Newtown doesn't happen again" and to "make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can't walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion." That was the bait. Here comes the switch:

A new federal assault weapons ban and background checks of all gun buyers, which President Obama is expected to propose on Wednesday, might have done little to prevent the massacre in Newtown, Conn., last month. The semiautomatic rifle that Adam Lanza used to shoot 20 schoolchildren and 6 adults complied with Connecticut’s assault weapons ban, the police said, and he did not buy the gun himself....

[Recent mass] shootings, whose victims have included a member of Congress in Arizona, moviegoers in Colorado and first graders in Connecticut, have horrified the country and inspired Washington to embark on the most extensive re-examination of the nation’s gun laws in a generation. But some of the proposals that Mr. Obama is expected to make at the White House on Wednesday, which are likely to include a call for expanded background checks, a ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity clips, will be intended not only to prevent high-profile mass shootings, but also to curb the more commonplace gun violence that claims many thousands more lives every year.

"The president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach," Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday. Mr. Carney said the proposals were aimed, broadly, at what he called "the scourge of gun violence in this country."

As I said last month:

After a mass shooting, gun controllers push the policies they've always supported as if they were a logical response to that particular example of senseless violence. When skeptics say it is hard to see how the proposed measures could have prevented that attack, gun controllers (if they are honest) say that's beside the point, because the real goal is not preventing the rare mass shootings that get all the attention but curtailing more common forms of gun violence. If so, the horrible event that supposedly makes new legislation urgently necessary does not in fact strengthen the case for that legislation one iota. If the proposed policy was a good idea before the attack, it remains a good idea; if it was a bad idea, the emotionally compelling but logically irrelevant deaths of innocents do not make it suddenly sensible. 

Let us try to keep that in mind as the president, surrounded by children, argues that the Sandy Hook massacre demonstrates the need for gun control policies that have nothing to do with the Sandy Hook massacre.

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  • John||

    I have made these points to liberal friends of mine. And their final response after losing every other point it "But we have to do something.". That is really all they have.

  • NoVAHockey||

    and we can -- end the war on drugs. and at least see what happens.

  • John||

    but someone might sell their little snowflakes drugs then. That is how self absorbed these people are. It doesn't matter that the war on drugs is killing thousands every year in Mexico and destroying minority communities. If that is the price to be paid to even slightly reduce the chance that one of their snowflakes ends up in rehab, so be it.

    Same with guns. If it makes them feel better about things, it is up to the rest of us to suffer for it.

  • thom||

    On the contrary. Most liberals seem able to understand that nothing keeps big government humming along like a never ending war on drugs. People who love the state have no interest in taking away the state's biggest weapon. Many of these people are so indoctrinated that they would gladly see their little snowflakes put away by the state in order to keep their political fantasies going.

  • John||

    No way. Their little snowflakes never go to jail. At most they go to rehab and treatment. If rich white people's kids actually started doing hard time for drug use, our little drug war problem would be solved very quickly. Jail is for poor black people not top shelf white kids.

  • NeonCat||

    "He didn't know the right people. That's all a police record means in this lousy country."

  • Russ Davis||

    because of course "feeling" is all these clowns have, not a single, solitary rational thought among them, lawless fascist megalomaniacs one and all.

  • sarcasmic||

    The few honest liberals I have spoken with on the subject admit that the point is not to prevent shootings like this. The point is to take steps towards a world where only cops and criminals have guns. The idea being that as criminal guns are confiscated, eventually only the government will have guns.
    And of course we have nothing to fear from the government because we are government.

  • John||

    That is why there should never be any compromise with these people. Idiots like those clowns at CATO who are running around saying "well there are a few reasonable gun controls we should agree to" are nothing but rope sellers. The smart liberals know these efforts will fail. They want them to fail. Because the goal is to move the needle a little bit so that it can be moved again after the next high profile mass shooting.

  • sarcasmic||

    Compromising with these people is like compromising with someone who wants to stab you with a knife.
    "C'mon! I'll just stab you in the leg!"
    "No."
    "Fine! I'll just prick your foot!"
    "No."
    "Hey everyone! Look at this uncompromising ideologue! He's a bad person because he won't compromise! Look at this bad person!"

  • John||

    You compromise with someone because it settles a conflict. You give up something and in return get the security of knowing you won't have to give up anything else. You therefore cannot compromise with someone who is unwilling to give up on the conflict. If liberals were willing to give up on all further efforts for gun control in return for a given set of controls now, that would be a compromise. But since they are not, any gun control is just a concession. Concessions are not compromises.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Just compromise with us and make gays a protected class and we'll give up on gay marriage..."

    Mmmm hmmm

  • Killazontherun||

    Gay marriage, yes. Gay affirmative action, no. An unmodified 14th Amendment equal protection clause unmolested by highly subjective and politically applied recriminations based actions will do.

  • TX_Teacher||

    This is an excellent point, one I will spread around my little corner of the world.

  • Robert||

    But we know the issue in the USA is hemmed in on one side by court decisions on Constitutional issues, just like abortion. Therefore the conflict with guns will soon settle down to something like the way it is with abortion.

  • Adam.||

    I have to take some issue with this as it's not quite accurate; even some of Bob Levy's collegues disagree with him and make clear that his views are not CATOs. Where Bob was "trying" to come from was based on the Heller ruling there could "possibly" be an argument made that magazines over 20 rounds could be banned because standard handguns that citizens and cops both use tend to have 11-19 rounds. He admitted he was not well versed in gun culture and he failed to account for the fact that more and more police standard "truck guns" are the AR-15 and that as factory standard come with 30 round magazines. By that logic one could base an argument for banning magazine about 30. I wouldn't support it, but there it is.

  • GILMORE||

    how do they reply to points like "but Gitmo is still open?"... i think the issue with TEAM people is the genuinely dont give a shit about the reality - they just want to be in power

  • Tim||

    I support common sense legislation that appeals to at least 51% of likely voters , my donors and base.

  • nicole||

    Gawker freaks because educating the public about the law is only allowed for laws they like. The responses to this guy's comment are awesome. Why should they trust that complete strangers are good guys with guns and not bad guys with guns? And no, they don't mention anything about how most cops are complete strangers or anything crazy like that. THEY FEEL THREATENED, DAMMIT!

  • nicole||

    Also, did you know how easy it is to turn your AR full-auto?

    They can be turned into fully automatic weapons with a kit that sells for $15 next to the AR 15 at the gun shows and if you really need it, the DVD for $9.99.

    Me neither!

  • An0nB0t||

    As you well know, a small child could buy anything from an RPG launcher to an eighties-era fission weapon at a gun show for less than $15 due to Gun Show Loopholes.

  • Almanian.||

    Hey! I missed out on th eRPG launchers! Were they hidden behind the Armored Personnel Carriers or something?

  • carol||

    I found mine wedged in between the night vision goggles and the land mines. Didn't make sense to me, either.

  • An0nB0t||

    I found mine under a big pile of BFGs and rail guns.

  • Killazontherun||

    As if you can hold off the US military an army of Satan's minions with mere hand held arms.

    Nick G said its unpossible!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    In popular political mythology, that's exactly what the Viet Cong did to the US military.

    Tell me, why do you believe the Vietnamese are superior to Americans? When did you stop believing in the power of American exceptionalism?

  • Killazontherun||

    Way too many assumptions built into your questions.

    The idea of 'American exceptionalism' is of recent vintage. A Brooks/Kristol '98, I do believe.

    Superior? WTF?!?! What does that even mean? Any vet will tell you that was a hard, nasty fight, no matter the advantageous outcome of singular battles.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I was being facetious.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've been had!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm as sneaky as a ninja Obama.

  • Killazontherun||

    You get a slow clap for that one. Mentioning 'American exceptionalism' was a good way to throw me off my game. It's one of those things I hear a lot in the ranks of the ubersincere.

  • Robert||

    "American exceptionalism" is a phrase that goes back to at least the 1960s to describe anything wherein the USA runs counter to the world pattern, such as why organized labor in the USA doesn't include communist & hard socialist unions.

  • Killazontherun||

    Tactical battlefield nuke for the awesomest win!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    An infamous "Second Amendment educator" from the southern Oregon city of Medford alarmed many in Portland when he and a friend were spotted wandering neighborhood streets armed with assault rifles.

    If the AR-15 were not capable of automatic fire, then they can cannot be properly classified as "assault rifles."

    Portland has a ban on carrying loaded firearms in public places, but citizens with concealed handgun licenses — like Boyce and Drouin — are exempt.

    Even assuming the licensing matter is true, if Warren doesn't have a magazine in the weapon, then he cannot be said to be carrying a loaded firearm.

    In any case, Drouin and Boyce were toting weapons, terrifying bystanders and children, just to show that they could.

    Or, they were trying to normalize the sight of people going about their daily business armed. Would the Oregonian be this breathless with outrage if a couple gays strolled through the town with their hands in each others' back pockets to the "terror" of bystanders and children?

  • nicole||

    The parallel to gays being out and proud is so striking it's almost--almost--amazing they don't realize it.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    The original article is incorrect. Some Oregon cities such as Portland have banned open carry, loaded or unloaded. CHL holders are exempt from these open carry restrictions.

    Oh, and thanks to a recent court ruling, your car is considered a public space too.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    banned open carry entirely, loaded or unloaded

  • OldMexican||

    How Does the Sandy Hook Massacre Demonstrate the Need for Gun Controls That Have Nothing to Do With It?


    Because children wrote the president letters! Really emotional letters!

    And policy should be predicated on what children write to the president! There!

  • Brutus||

    Except when it's school lunches. Then the Scolder in Chief takes over.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The President is a dumb fuck.

  • An0nB0t||

    This really cannot be said, written, or mimed often enough.

  • epsilon given||

    And the best thing about it, is that we don't have to change the sentence from election to election: it remains true, regardless!

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...and he did not buy the gun himself....

    Nope, he stole it. Hey, wait! I've got it! We just need to have a law that makes it illegal to steal guns! That would have prevented the tragedy, right?

  • John||

    New York is on that. They are going to hold people criminally liable if their gun is stolen and used in a crime.

  • Almanian.||

    Yeah, I saw that.

    Reason #2037238234eleventy why I continue to never consider any job in the state of New York.

    They make Michigan look like Libertopia in terms of personal freedom.

  • Rich||

    It's NY. Are you certain they won't hold people criminally liable if their gun is stolen, period?

  • Redmanfms||

    They are going to hold people criminally liable if their gun is stolen and used in a crime.

    I'm sure HazelMeade is cool with that....

  • $park¥||

    Tulpa too.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    New York is applying strict liability to gun ownership?

    "Xs New York off of list of places to live"

  • Killazontherun||

    If you sell a gun in New York, you better make sure the construction is top notch and nothing falls a part.

  • Drake||

    Control, obedience, power, expansion of the federal government, destruction of the Constitution, turning more citizens into criminals...

    What were we talking about?

  • Almanian.||

    All of that, AND MORE!

    Obama - Term Two: Giving "Good and Hard" a Real Workout®

  • sarcasmic||

    The police no longer use terms like "crazy" anymore. It's EDP. Emotionally disturbed person.

    Since gun control is born of emotion, not rationality, are the gun controllers not EDPs?

  • carol||

    "Emotionally disturbed" sounds like a bad case of the blues to me. I prefer to think of them as BSC.

  • NeonCat||

    What about cold-blooded, emotionless killers? Are they okay?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "The president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach," Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday. Mr. Carney said the proposals were aimed, broadly, at what he called "the scourge of gun violence in this country."

    The response to this, which crystallized in my mind the other day, is that they are engaged in nothing short of collective retribution against the many for the acts of an infinitesimal few.

    Where did Adam Lanza grow up? Let's send Seal Team Six in to kill the first born child of every family.

    That idiot who shot up the movie theater was going to CU; let's kill one of every ten enrolled students.

    Neither of those things makes any less sense than than what they want to do.

  • Brutus||

    Ken Schultz nailed this the other day: It's cultural and racial. White guys are the bulk of the NRA, so they're going after that as opposed to something else.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    In what I find interesting and is a point I raise often is that no sane black person should be in favor of gun control based on its blatantly racist history. Laws, ordinances, even state constitutional amendments have been enacted to disarm black populations for fear of slave revolts and "race riots" (always black on white, never the other way around).

  • Jordan||

    Not to mention that police are at best unhelpful in high crime majority-black neighborhoods, and usually complicit in a lot of crimes.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The police are complicit in crime? Why that's just unpossible! They're properly trained and stuff! Only they can be trusted with the power of firearms that only discharge one round every time you squeeze the trigger!

  • John||

    What Brutus and Brooks said. I really wish that gay people would take up the pro gun cause. It would take away a lot of the hatred liberals have for guns.

  • Cdr Lytton||

  • BakedPenguin||

    I once read an interview some local alt-weekly had with the President of the local PP chapter. They couldn't deny his point that given the historic treatment of gays, he would be safer with a gun. But the rest of the article could be summed up as "guns? Ick!"

  • Drake||

    If the gay community didn't come across as uniformly liberal on every issue (I know actual individual results may vary), some of the hate directed their way might dissipate.

  • Brutus||

    That's an alt-text win if I've ever seen an alt-text win.

  • lap83||

    On WSJ there was an article about the NRA calling Obama an elitist hypocrite for being against security in schools even though his daughters get armed guards wherever they go.

    That was followed by some comments saying the NRA should understand the difference between Obama's daughters and other kids.

    I could almost understand that if there were never any stories in the news about school shootings that didn't involve Obama's daughters. Almost. I don't normally get offended by comments I see online...but Jesus.

  • John||

    They are different. They are special. You and your children are not. Fuck liberals.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ad hominem arguments work with liberals because they do not believe in the equality that they preach.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    That was followed by some comments saying the NRA should understand the difference between Obama's daughters and other kids.

    These fucking NRA peasants should learn their place. The Bloodroyal must be defended from harm.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Are you certain they won't hold people criminally liable if their gun is stolen, period?

    I think there is something in there about storage; so, yes. If you report your gun stolen, you will be confessing to "improper and unsecured storage/possession of a dangerous weapon".

  • John||

    They want to make owning a weapon like owning a Tiger or black mamba; a strict liability inherently dangerous item.

  • TX_Teacher||

    A de facto ban would be just as good as a de jure one in their eyes. Making guns so inconvenient to own or operate will accomplish the same end goal (civilian disarmament) without all that pesky talk of Constitutions and insurrections and rights and such.

  • Robert||

    Tiger? Better call Saul!

  • Cdr Lytton||

    How does that square with Heller?

    We must also address the District’s requirement (as applied to respondent’s handgun) that firearms in the home be rendered and kept inoperable at all times. This makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/sup.....90.ZO.html

  • The Late P Brooks||

    the NRA should understand the difference between Obama's daughters and other kids.

    Some children are more equal than others.

  • Drake||

    The Romans understood the difference between patricians and plebeians. Medieval Europeans knew the difference between serfs and nobility. Why don't you people get it?

  • Killazontherun||

    Our elites don't even have the mettle of Stewart era kings?

  • masmalute||

  • masmalute||

  • SIV||

    We only support gay marriage around here, buster.

  • SIV||

    "Grace's Law"?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    COMMON SENSE

    "While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn't be a divisive one," Obama said.

    Until now, Obama had done little to rein in America's weapons culture during his first four years in office. But just days before his second inauguration, he appears determined to champion gun control in his next term with a concerted drive for tighter laws and other steps aimed at preventing further tragedies like the one at Newtown.

    Why can't you gun nutz just do what we say?

    It's for CHILLLDRINZES!

  • Brutus||

    This, of course, is in the Constitution as a trump card that allows the government to subvert the document at will.

  • mr simple||

    "Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

    But using other people's children as pawns in a political fight is just dandy. Also, to return volley on the same level as Jay, Jay Carney is a big poopy head. Let's see how he likes that.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Is this what they mean when they say vampires cast no reflection?

    The N.R.A. appears ready for the fight. On Tuesday, it posted a video mocking Mr. Obama for having Secret Service protection for his children while opposing armed guards at the nation’s schools. The video calls the president an “elitist hypocrite.”

    The White House issued an angry response to the ad. “Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “But to go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly.”

    "I know you are, but what am I?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight

    And Jay Carney, in an effort to handwave elitism of the D.C. mandarins only demonstrates it for all to see. Using the president's children as pawns is beyond the pale. Yet Carney has no objections to the President using YOUR children as pawns, somberly citing the letters that "the children" wrote to him calling to ban the evil killy-death-boom-sticks.

    But to go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly.

    Since when did pointing out hypocrisy become repugnant and cowardly? Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism?

  • Brendan||

    At this point, cognitive dissonancs is so tangible that it deserves its own spot on the periodical table of elements. If Obama's were real, it would have a stronger gravitational pull than the moon.

    This crap is coming from the same white house that is using other people's children as a pawn in a political fight. That is, unless those were props on stage and not real children. You know, the kind of props some people claim David Gregory had on his show that wasn't a real 30 round magazine.

    The same guy whose administration orders drone strike that kill innocent people was claiming that lawmakers who oppose this should check their conscience.

  • Torontonian||

    Quick question... how many children have been killed so far by Obama's drone strikes?

  • NeonCat||

    Those were illiterate Arab, Pashtun and Pakistani children. No letter writing, no big deal.

  • geekster||

    This^

    The brown president cares about brown children so much he locks them up here, and blows them up there.

    I've got a movie plot in my head where the Klan makes the perfect Presidental candidate, "Manchurian Candidate" style. Toss away, absentee African dad - so he has no American black relatives. Raised by 'liberal' white woman to establish his bonafides, sent to the finest schools. Becomes POTUS, becoming The Man, and skillfully screws over the black community. Any criticism, right or left, is squashed as racist or sour grapes. Then, 8 years later, at his farewell address, he comes out in Grand Wizard's robes to the nation's shock and dismay and says 'Gothcha bitches!'

    Fade to black.

  • Brendan||

    You need to examine your conscience.

    It's all about volume, 20 kids killed in a day is far far worse than as many as 900 a year in one country.

    Link

  • Brendan||

    I realize my sarcasm may be weak
    That's 700-900 a year every year < 20 kids killed on one day, once.

  • Robert||

    It's pretty clear to me that what's driving this issue is culture war. Military-looking long guns represent the sort of people that another sort of people want to make mad, and the sort of people they want to make mad want to make them mad by showing off their guns, so it's mutual. Also, as pointed out by Jeffrey the Lawyer on the radio with Curtis Sliwa a few mins. ago and simplified by me, long guns represent whites and pistols represent blacks.

  • Russ Davis||

    0bama is a lawless fascist megalomaniac demagog lunatic no rational person takes seriously except to beware of his clever dangers. That he would exploit children in his demagoguery is typically despicable for a scumbag that was allegedly "elected" (with countless illegal pseudo-votes and monies, like JFK, since lawless Dems only care about power, not the law they imagine themselves above) by a mentally incompetent "electorate" that is clearly no longer capable of self-government; if Romney had been elected I'd have said the same thing since there's clearly no difference between the lunatic antiChristian cultist bigots.

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