Gun Control

Obama Invites a Symbol of Emotion-Driven Gun Control to His SOTU Address

Citing horrific acts of violence to push policies that have nothing to do with them


Moms Demand Action

Richard Martinez, whose 20-year-old son, Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, was murdered by Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista, California, last year, will be in the audience at tonight's State of the Union address, presumably so he can serve as a prop when President Obama pays lip service to gun control. Martinez is an excellent choice, because he embodies Obama's approach to this issue, which consists of citing horrific acts of violence while advocating policies that have nothing to do with them.

To be fair, that is the gun control movement's general strategy, and Martinez's attraction to it is perfectly understandable as a response to his loss and an attempt to give his son's death meaning. The Los Angeles Times notes that gun controllers turned Martinez's scream after the massacre—"Not One More!"—into a rallying cry. But a rallying cry for what? When grief drives public policy, it is fair to ask whether that policy makes sense.

The Times mentions two policies that Martinez has been advocating since the Isla Vista massacre, which he memorably blamed on "craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA." One response, embodied in a California law enacted last fall, strips people of their Second Amendment rights based on claims that they pose a danger to themselves or others. Such claims can be made by a police officer or by "an immediate family member," which includes not just spouses, children, siblings, and parents but also in-laws and roommates, both current and former. As I noted at the time, the law's standards for issuing a "gun violence restraining order," which can initially be obtained without notice or any sort of adversarial process, are pretty flimsy, leaving lots of room for mistakes and mischief. Furthermore, the connection to Elliot Rodger's crimes is rather mysterious. Although Rodger's mother was at one point concerned that he might harm himself (based on a YouTube video she had seen), as far as I know no one in his family was aware that he owned guns. The Times obfuscates this point, saying "Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista killer, had guns despite his family's fear that he posed a threat."

The other policy Martinez favors is also unrelated to his son's death. Martinez backed a successful ballot initiative in Washington state that requires background checks for all gun transfers, including private sales. But California already has that policy, so we needn't speculate about whether it could have prevented the Isla Vista murders. Rodger bought three handguns in three separate transactions, and each time he was cleared by the California Department of Justice. He passed those background checks because he did not have a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record. In California that means not only that he was never involuntarily committed but also that he had not been put on a 72-hour psychiatric hold for evaluation as a possible threat to himself or others within the previous five years.

Even if the policies Martinez is pushing either did not or would not have saved his son, that does not necessarily mean they would not prevent other mass shootings. But the pattern of facts in this case—a killer with a clean background who used legally purchased guns and never showed enough "warning signs" to be legally restrained—is typical of mass shooters. Possibly this is a problem that has no simple solution

Martinez conceded as much in the weeks after Rodger killed his son, demanding that Congress "get to work and do something" even though he admitted that "we don't know what we are doing." Since then he has shifted his focus to the state level, where he has been more successful, assuming that success is measured by passing new laws of dubious fairness and effectiveness. Although he calls gun violence "a complicated problem," his framing of the issue is not exactly nuanced. "I can't believe that the gun lobby can win," he tells the Times. "They're worried about profits; we're worried about our kids." His appeal to Obama should be obvious: They speak the same language.

NEXT: Have a Drink on the 1 Percent: Reason's 2015 State of the Union Drinking Game

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  1. “demanding that Congress “get to work and do something” even though he admitted that “we don’t know what we are doing.””

    The OMG We Must Do Something Act of 2015 – it will stop gun violence, terrorism, and obesity.

    Hey, don’t read it, just pass it!

  2. Oh please liberals make gun control your number one issue for 2016. Oh and defanitly keep up the facebook posts calling Chris Kyle everything but a gentleman. Hell keep it up and libertarians might have a shot.

    1. ^^^^ this

      I second this filthy rutting mammal. Go ahead team Blue. Maybe you can charge hill GC right up the middle… Just like Green Bay

  3. If you get rid of guns, we’re just gonna resort to boards with nails in them.

    “That board with a nail in it may have defeated us, but the humans won’t stop there. They’ll make bigger boards and bigger nails, and soon, they will make a board with a nail so big, it will destroy them all!”

    1. That’s gonna be one hell of a 3D printer.

    2. Nobody needs a board with two nails in it.

  4. The left simply can’t leave that ussue alone, can they. It’s a consistent loser, over time, and coming up with excuses for its effects must take a good deal of political capitol they could use elsewhere.

    1. Gun control is to Democrats as Abortion is to Republicans.

      1. The difference is most (not all) republicans only bring it up when they’re forced to in debates by the media. ie questions you will never hear asked at a dnc presidential debate

        1. No. The difference is that conservatives are actually shutting down women’s health clinics by the hundreds.

          Democrats can’t get shit done. Which is good in this case.

          1. The difference is that conservatives are actually shutting down women’s health clinics by the hundreds.

            All women’s health clinics = abortion clinics?

            *makes several discreet notes in a flip notepad*

            Why aren’t the rich, white feminists pooling their husbands’ money to keep these women’s health/abortion clinics humming along?

            1. You don’t expect rich limousine liberals to actually do something their own money do you? Expecially when they can get the government to do something with your money instead?

            2. Our usual answer to government shutting down enterprises with costly regulations is not ‘why don’t their customers/patrons pay for them to be in compliance with the regs!’

          2. The difference is that conservatives are actually shutting down women’s health clinics by the hundreds.

            By the hundreds, you say?


            Near as I can tell, the Texas law shut a grand total of 17 abortion clinics, leaving 8. Most of the closed clinics were in urban areas that retained an abortion clinic regardless.

        2. Listening to Jerry Doyle the other day and he claimed the second act of the newly elected Republican congress was to introduce several pieces of legislation restricting abortion. I don’t have a cite, as it was radio, but…

          1. I certainly don’t disbelieve it. Nannys nannys everywhere.

    2. Of course they can’t leave it alone, an armed populace stands between them and total power. That is also why we can never give an inch. If they disarm us hell will follow.

  5. Why isn’t he inviting Michael Brown’s mother or father?

    1. They’re in jail

  6. “Lip service” to gun control? According to the Peanuts Obama has already banned all their guns!

    1. All of us agree with you.

  7. Is he going to invite the families of the people that Rodgers carved up before switching weapons? All in the name of common-sense knife control legislation?

    1. Sorry, “Rodger.” I was thinking too much about football and not enough about knife killings.

      1. I always knew there was something shady about him

    2. No, because they were Chinese and Obama is a massive Sinophobe.

      1. Is he? Did not know that but makes sense.

        1. Weird, right?

          Its not like they’re white people. Maybe they are White Asians, kinda like White Hispanics?

          1. He lived in Indonesia/Malaysia? As a kid.
            The Chinese are hated there.

    3. What about the ones he hit with his car?

  8. What happened to “the children of Newtown, CT deserve a vote”? Was the majority TEAM Blue Congress unpersuaded by one of Barry’s game-changing speeches?

    Say it ain’t so!

    1. Using dead children to advance their political agenda must have not been polling well enough.

      1. College students are all the rage right now, so the Isla Vista shootings should play better.

    2. the children of Newtown, CT deserve a vote

      Hell they probably did vote, several times.

  9. Martinez can kiss my ass.

  10. …gun controllers turned Martinez’s scream after the massacre?”Not One More!”?into a rallying cry. But a rallying cry for what?

    Not one more legally purchased firearm, natch.

  11. I guess the people he stabbed to death don’t count.

    1. They’ll get to the “common sense knife control” eventually.

      1. Curious echo.

  12. I was driving around town this afternoon, and saw a kid in a long black coat. I had a flashback to the post-Columbine trenchcoat hysteria epidemic, when every kid in a long coat was on route to the local high school to shoot everybody who ever harmed his self-image.

    1. We just called them Emo, or Goth… or Matt

    2. I remember that. There was one young man in my high school who frequently wore a long black coat, and my dad consistently ragged on about him for it. He was pretty convinced that kid was going to do something awful one day.

  13. College students are all the rage right now, so the Isla Vista shootings should play better.

    “If only that poor misguided boy had been able to avail himself of a free community college education, none of this would have happened.”

    1. I blame video games for infecting him with a culture of misogyny via Frog Fractions.

  14. citing horrific acts of violence while advocating policies that have nothing to do with them… is the gun control movement’s general strategy, and Martinez’s attraction to it is perfectly understandable as a response to his loss and an attempt to give his son’s death meaning.

    Grief doesn’t make one an idiot for eight months. Fuck Martinez.

  15. I love when the gun control crowd cite crime as a reason for gun control when they know damn well Illiberal gun laws correlate with huge spikes in crime. Very telling.

  16. So this Martinez guy is saying every state should adopt the same laws that failed to protect his son? Is that about it, in a nutshell?

  17. That sounds like some crazy smack dude.

  18. Sounds like the dude knows whats up man.


    No more sacrificing Mexican men, women, and children to Obama’s anti-gun extremists.

    1. The NRA do not want criminals to own guns, and they do not want guns to be used in the commission of crimes. They advocated for instant background checks for years before they were implemented.

      In contrast, Holder’s Fast and Furious anti-gun strategy provided guns to violent criminals with the hope that they would be in crimes that would tie murdered Mexicans to guns procured through normal, legal American channels.

      1. And yet Obumbles and Holder still breath free air.

        1. But they’re working on that problem. The environmental global-warming air tax is on the to-do list.

  20. When grief drives public policy, it is fair to ask whether that policy makes sense.

    Only if you’re a racist, gun-totin’ teabagger.

    To be fair, that is the gun control movement’s general strategy-

    -is to emote, twist language until it is meaningless, disregard simple facts of law (like the documents that founded the federal government and that of the several States, ignoring the restrictions placed on said governments) and flat out lie to get their way.

  21. I always thought the “Moms Demand Action” thing was kinda funny. Sounds like a bad porn site.

    1. *Ding Dong*

      “OK, who ordered an AK47 with extra pepperoni?”


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