Mass Shootings

Hillary Clinton's Simple-Minded Gun Control Ideas

Like the president, the presumptive Democratic nominee assumes we can identify mass shooters before they strike.


After a gunman murdered nine people at a community college in Oregon last week, President Obama said the solution to such violence is obvious. "It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun," he declared.

The problem is that we generally do not know a gun buyer "wants to inflict harm on other people" until he does it. That reality shows the folly of relying on background checks or psychiatric intervention to prevent mass shootings.

Obama did not mention any specific policy during his 13-minute speech. But his talk of making it harder for murderers to obtain weapons through legislation supported by "the majority of Americans" suggested he had in a mind a law requiring background checks for private gun transfers as well as sales by federally licensed dealers.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, embraced that solution this week, saying, "I'll try in every way I can to get those guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them." If Congress does not act, Clinton said, she will try to broaden the background check requirement through an executive order.

Clinton did not seem to notice that requiring background checks for private gun transfers makes no sense as a response to the Oregon massacre, since the weapons used in that attack were legally purchased from a licensed dealer by the killer and a relative. That means the killer passed background checks, apparently because he did not have a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record, which is typically the case with mass shooters.

Although it should be obvious that a murderer who passed a background check could not have been stopped by a background check, such simple logic seems to elude advocates of "common-sense gun safety laws." Even in the few mass shootings where background checks missed information that arguably would have blocked gun purchases, the issue was the adequacy of the screening process, not the killer's ability to avoid it.

The obvious response is to broaden the criteria for prohibiting people from owning guns. But the existing restrictions already cover millions of people—including cannabis consumers, illegal immigrants, nonviolent felons, and the targets of involuntary psychiatric treatment—who would never have used a gun to harm anyone.

It is striking how casually the government strips people of the basic human right to armed self-defense. Expanding the disqualifying criteria—to include, say, people with certain psychiatric diagnoses or people whose disruptive behavior gets them fired from jobs or kicked out of school—would only compound this unconstitutional injustice.

Clinton says we should "do everything we can to make sure the irresponsible and the criminal and the mentally ill don't get guns." That formulation represents a dramatic expansion of current restrictions, which generally do not cover people who commit misdemeanors or the "mentally ill" (a category that potentially includes half the population), let alone people whom Hillary Clinton considers "irresponsible."

There are similar problems with trying to stop mass shootings by expanding the use of coercive psychiatric treatment (which is in turn grounds for permanently depriving someone of his Second Amendment rights). While mass shooters tend to share certain traits, including isolation, anger, and depression, many other people with these traits never hurt anyone. 

"What seems telling about the killers," The New York Times notes, "is not how much they have in common but how much they look and seem like so many others who do not inflict harm." As Duke University psychiatrist Jeffrey Swanson put it, "You can't go out and round up all the alienated angry young men."

The difficulty of identifying would-be mass murderers before they strike is the fatal flaw in the simple-minded, emotionally driven ideas that politicians reflexively propose after crimes like last week's attack in Oregon. "We've got to do something about this," Clinton says. Apparently anything will do. 

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Democrats hate the 2nd Amendment almost as much as the 1st Amendment. They hated it when former slaves were arming themselves for protection and they hate it now. An armed citizenry can interfere with the grand plan.

    It doesn’t matter if their purposed responses to gun deaths would make things worse for people. It’s a crisitunity that they’re going to use to chip away at that right.

    1. you have a problem with “simple-minded, emotionally driven ideas ” ?

      1. Yes, but you knew that.

    2. Reagan signed the Mulford act to prohibit open carry when a bunch of openly carrying Black Panthers marched on Sacramento. And our ‘armed citizenry’ is killing us. Last week an ‘armed citizen’ in Michigan opened fire in a Lowe’s parking lot on a suspected shoplifter

      THAT is the future the NRA has for us. Vigilante justice and dead kids in the name of freedom.

      1. Yeah, and like 50 people were shot in Chicago a month by gang members and other criminals.

        Armed citizens kill people as much as deaths by drowning, if not less.

  2. Don’t like guns? Repeal the 2nd Amendment. There is very little substance in the discussion to “do something”, but tons of politics.

    1. Look, we need action now !!!1!11!!! last year 1 billion, million people were gunned down in the US by fanatical Christians and libertarians obviously brain washed through by the Koch Brothers !!! Get gunz away from them NOW !!!!

      1. I assume you’re joking,. 33k people died from incidents involving firearms in 2014.

        1. 33K died in auto accidents
          estimated 88K died from acute alcohol related deaths.
          41K from suicide
          Close to 2K a year die a year from animal related injuries
          do we need to site the deaths from cancer related habits?
          sooo your point?
          The matter speaks for itself…..speaks for itself about the current main stream pop culture commentary regarding firearms.

    2. They don’t want to repeal the Second Amendment. They want to leave it nominally in place and render it, and therefore the rest of the Constitution, a dead letter by weaseling around its clear restrictions in the name of “common sense”.

      1. Well, it worked out for them so well with the 4th amendment, so next up: the second. Then the first (hate speech is a form violence, afterall), then the rest of the BoR. Why bother amending the constitution when you can just neuter it and then get a majority of the Nazgul to bless your actions?

        1. Heck, the Nazgul can do it on their own by declaring anything “unequal” and handing down a ukase to make things “better”.
          Don’t be surprised if they start making such rulings even when a case isn’t put before them.

      2. The right doesn’t care how many massacres take place. They have their guns

        It’s a cult.

        1. Fuck off, troll.

        2. Anyone who blames one side OR the other for ‘ALL the problems’ is a cult member…

    1. What are you trying to do? Make me lose my breakfast???

  3. Can we get a soundbite of Hillary singing “ban, ban, ban, ban, ban guns…” sung to the tune of McCain’s famous Bomb Iran tune?

    That’d be great.

    1. You mean “Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys?

      1. Probably…
        Need more labelz.

      2. Probably…
        Need more labelz.

  4. Let’s criminalize criminal tendencies and be done with it. Don’t be slightly more likely to do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  5. I wonder what Sanders says about it. Apparently he’s somewhat friendly to gun rights?

    1. Used to be. He’s been arguing for a crackdown lately. Who knows what he really believes?

      1. Bernie calls himself a “socialist.”

        He believes if he doesn’t run your life you’ll ride your motorcycle without a helmet and consume 44 oz. soft drinks and maybe even go bowling. He believes Congress should pass laws and rules and regulations and taxes and fees and fines and subsidies and supports to keep you on the straight and narrow.

        “You don’t have to ask what you can do for your country. My men with guns will tell you.”

        Gun rights would interfere with his plan for the greater good.

        1. I have no interest in motorcycles, don’t drink soft drinks of any size, and haven’t bowled in 35 years, with or without a helmet. Bernie doesn’t have to waste his time. He can go straight to raising taxes on the rich, whoever they are.

    2. sanders was willing to be political on guns because he knew it was the one area where vermont wouldn’t accept him being what he really is. so, he convinced himself that he could live with spinning it that vermont is somehow different than the rest of america on the issue because they behave themselves. now that he’s running for president and he has the cover of another tragedy, there’s no reason to pretend otherwise anymore.

  6. They live in a fantasy that banning pre-crime is something you can do, if only you elect the right democrat.

    1. No. They aren’t that innocent. What they want to do is make everything subject to approval by their wonderful selves. Of course, if they manage to do that, they won’t ever be un-elected.

      The rise of the inevitable Stalin will be a horrid shock to them. Briefly.

    2. And yet the US has the highest murder rate in the developed world, almost as if ‘pre banning’ DOES work…strange..

      1. Fuck off, troll.

      2. Name a gun ban law that affected this murder rate. I’ll wait.

  7. You hear the expression, they couldn’t even wait for the bodies to get cold before trying to score political points. Perhaps one of our more medically knowledgable posters can weigh in on this, but If you look at the time when the gunman killed those people and when Obama literally said this issue should be politicized, it may be literally true that the bodies were still warm.

    He’s all class that guy.

    1. Hey, he’s just tryin’ to earn that Peace Prize the Nobel Foundation fronted him a while back.

    2. Hey let’s wait 15 minutes for the next massacre. Then we can talk!

      1. Here’s an idea asshole, how about we overturn Slick Willy’s gun free school zone act and watch the number of school shootings go to less than nothing after these cowards discover they don’t have a free fire zone there anymore.

  8. Oh, and another thing. It’s not nine people murdered. It’s ten people killed by gun related violence.

  9. It’s simple. We stop coddling our kids.

    Parents make SURE that their kids are offended by everything, scared of everything and forced to agree with stupid shit, lest they be labeled “racist” or “homophobe” or whatever. We don’t discipline them because the neighbors will call CPS. We drive them everywhere, because God forbid, they WALK home from school among the child rapists that are EVERYWHERE. We force them into an electronic world of physical solitude because we don’t let them go play in the park.

    Then when these fucked up kids get into their mid-20s, and they’ve been forced to drink the collegiate kool-aid, the world shits on them (as it does) and they can’t handle it because nobody ever taught them that life just isn’t fucking fair. When they suddenly don’t get their way with everything, they go batshit crazy and shoot people.

    Children raised with a sense of personal responsibly don’t fucking kill people.

    That is all.

    1. No. It ain’t that easy. Kids raised by good people have grown up to be monsters throughout recorded history. Which isn’t to say that the idiocy you pinpoint isn’t maling it worse.

      1. Who? How many “kids raised by good people” have murdered four or more people in a public place? Names and dates, please.

  10. You know who else wanted to disarm the populace?

  11. “It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun,” he declared.

    Sure it is! The average police academy training is only about four months!

    Anyway, as everyone knows this is all a screen for the ultimate Progressive end, which is full confiscation with possible exceptions for hunting shotguns and rifles (heavily regulated, of course) in the fashion of Britain or Australia. And it obviously has nothing to do with safety because you never see this response in the context of, say, cars, which, if analyzed using the same parameters as gun deaths far exceed them. Nor do you see it in the context of police shootings, which far exceed even the deaths from even the most generous definitions of “mass shootings”.

    Progressivism, a la Teddy Roosevelt et al, is about the state using the force of law to guide society according to the judgements of government-sanctioned experts. Government’s role is to guide the benighted masses to a better way of life, and you can’t do that if those masses refuse to get in line. It’s bad enough that an armed populace can actively resist the state; even worse is the possibility that an armed populace doesn’t need the state, because that undercuts the very foundations of Progressivism and the root of the Progressive state’s centralized power.

    1. Whoa, too many “evens”, but you get the idea. Posting with an infant is a challenge.

    2. “… with possible exceptions for hunting shotguns and rifles (heavily regulated, of course) in the fashion of Britain or Australia”

      And you can bet your last box of .22LR that when more shootings happen, as they do even in countries with tight gun control, American politicians will just double down with more gun control. The goal is ZERO guns whatsoever. Yes, hunters, that means your bolt-action rifles and double-barrel shotguns, too. Nobody is safe.

  12. Sure Hillary holds some terrible views. But tell us Reason editors, would that make her a bad president?

    1. Ya know, she would likely be better than Obo and *could* rise to the level of Bush 1 or 2, if she works hard enough.
      Is that good enough for you?

      1. Is what good enough for me? Your speaking for the editors? Or your assessment of her?

        1. ThomasD|10.7.15 @ 2:08PM|#
          “Is what good enough for me?”
          A prez almost as good as Bush 1 and 2; is that hard for you to understand? Are you a lefty, but any chance?

          1. Ooh boy, where to start.

            1. I’m not a huge (yuuuge) commenter, but if you’ve got to ask which way I lean…
            2. You aren’t by chance a Reason editor are you? Because my (rhetorical) question was directed at them.
            3. The question was rhetorical because it was an exact paraphrase of the headline to another article that appears on this website. It was intended to draw a contrast between how the editors approach the issue of certain candidates vs. their candidacy. Because it is eminently obvious that, while they may not like Hillary’s stand on particular issues, so long as she gets her party’s nomination, she is their chosen one.

    2. Well, if you put it that way, I AM more worried by her formidable stupidity.

  13. If President Hillary were to issue executive orders to keep guns out of the hands of crazies, I imagine that many law enforcement agencies would gleefully oblige:…..WS/3090315

    The “disgruntled worker” in that case, David J. Pyles, subsequently sued local law enforcement for violating his civil rights. A federal judge recommended dismissal of the lawsuit in 2013, under the contention that the police “acted in good faith” for his own safety as well as the public good. Oh, and they did so in a “lawful, fair, and courteous manner.”…../305290341

    So, an army of police can lay siege to your home and coerce you into submitting to a mental health evaluation, and as long as they are polite about it everything’s kosher.

    1. HA! I got dragged to the nuthouse against my will about a month ago, they weren’t polite at all.

  14. Like everything government, the authority to take and ban guns is simple and obvious. People killed by guns can’t engage in interstate commerce, thus the commerce clause (aka The Great Blank Check) makes null and void the 2nd Amendment (and probably all the others).

  15. I am completely cynical- I believe these calls for “common sense gun laws”- whatever they are- are purely rhetoric to be used for fundraising and when running for office. They really don’t care, unless it helps them get elected. It’s all BS.

    1. I’ve been saying something similar for years. I often point out to lefties…Obama, Clinton, Boehner, all the progressives don’t give one tiny ratz hind end about the rights of liberals or conservatives. They only care about themselves. To think otherwise is delusional.
      When the progressives no longer need the vote from the low information voters and idiot liberals, they will cast those people under the steamroller bus as fast as Obama casts off a $500 shirt. No more freebies,either. Won’t need to feed, clothe, and shelter those sheeple.

      1. i don’t think it’s actually much of a secret that both parties actually despise their base. they see them as being about completely useless from a policy and strategic point of view, but just valuable enough that they can’t quite piss them off too badly, which just makes dems/gop hate them all the more.

    2. The NRA being such a charitable organization it would never fund raise like this

  16. Huckabee a while back said we needed to put mandatory prayer back in schools to stop these mass shootings. Advocates of “do something, anything” didn’t get behind it.

    Go figure.

  17. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  18. The difficulty of identifying would-be mass murderers before they strike is the fatal flaw in the simple-minded, emotionally driven ideas that politicians reflexively propose after crimes like last week’s attack in Oregon. “We’ve got to do something about this,” Clinton says. Apparently anything will do.

    “Then it must have been your father who insulted me!”
    And after saying this, the wolf jumped over the stream and “baa-baa-baa!” ate the little lamb.

    “The Tyrant Will Always Have a Pretext For His Evil Acts.” – Aesop.

  19. What’s simple minded is pretending that nothing can be done. The US ranks 4th in the world in per capita mass shootings, behind other nations that ALSO have large numbers of guns (Norway, Finland, and Switzerland)

    So most nations seem to have addressed this issue. We haven’t. We don’t do a thing. And yet those who call for action are ‘simple minded’? The paranoid delusion that gun control is ‘stripping people of their rights’ is not a serious argument. No one is doing anything of the kind

    But pretending we HAVE to take away people’s rights to LIVE just so we can have guns is an argument that is so delusional it staggers the imagination.

    1. Did they address the issue, or did they never have the issue to begin with?

      Liberals state that the US has a “culture of violence,” and I don’t necessarily disagree with this. But if we do, that’s an illustration of how ineffectual gun control laws will be. You cannot simply legislate or regulator a culture out of existence. Even if you could somehow get rid of every single gun, if there really is a culture of violence, it will just manifest itself with other means.

      So did the law other nations also have a “culture of violence”, which they were able to address, or is this supposed culture unique to the United States? If it is, then we cannot simply emulate another nation’s gun laws and expect the same results. If it is not unique, then how did these other nations change their cultures? I don’t see that question being asked or studied.

      1. * My last paragraph should start, “So did these other nations?”

  20. Obama offers ‘crazy list’ as silver bullet to gun massacres..
    Mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin, and the social sciences..

    Like the bumper sticker says, a gun’s only serious enemies are rust and politicians. At least rust has principles. Of course, nothing inspires shameless partisan ambition in politicians like an awful human tragedy. So, in a spasm of deceitful grandstanding, President Obama immediately sprang into the spotlight of last week’s terrible shooting in Oregon to peddle some of the worn, broken and rejected political wares he’s never been able to offload on anyone before. As with every traveling snake oil salesman, Mr. Obama knows how to take advantage of a crowd..

    And what, exactly, is crazy? You take anxiety meds? Sleeping pills? Been to a therapist? Or, perhaps, you go to church five nights a week? Or, did you serve in a combat zone of a foreign war? Mr. Obama will never be able to adequately answer any of these thorny questions about his crazy list that will cause even the zaniest of left-wingers to cringe. That is because his real goal is confiscation and outlawing of virtually all guns that Americans use everyday for self-defense, sport shooting, hunting and just to prove we love freedom. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.

  21. The movie ‘The Giver’, based on the book of the same name, had a line that I can’t forget——
    “If people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong”.
    THAT is how Clinton, and so many Democrats, feel about the citizens of this country.

    1. Bill Clinton, at the end of his presidency explicitly said that about why he was against tax cuts.

      Occasionally, they will speak what is actually on their minds.

  22. Face it, the occasional massacre of innocent civilians in public places is simply the price we must pay for any yahoo who wants one to go buy multiple weapons with high-capacity magazines and unlimited ammunition at a gun show without a background check.

    There’s absolutely nothing we could ever possibly do to reduce the gun deaths in this country that far exceed the gun deaths in any other like country. Australia has poisonous critters, Japan has tsunamis, and America has randomly sprayed bullets flying around public places.

    Really, we’ll only truly be safe when every person 18 and older is required by law to pack at least three firearms, locked and loaded at all times. Then, no madman seeking a suicide by cop would ever think to shoot up a public place again, because he’d be worried abut being shot by a civilian.

    I’ve been convinced by all the 2nd Amendment worshippers this is true. Every time someone suggests doing something about these randomly sprayed bullets, the worshippers point out how the proposed solution will have no effect, yet they never offer a solution of their own, besides the usual “arm everybody”.

    We sure as hell aren’t going to change anything because 18th century slaveholding aristocrats who needed an armed citizen militia to take up muskets against occupying British forces thought we all needed unfettered access to long-range, accurate, multiple-shot weapons to fend off the tyrannical 21st century government’s MRAPs, howitzers, and predator drones.

    1. Haven’t seen a gun-show like that in CA for a couple decades.

    2. “I’ve been convinced by all the 2nd Amendment worshippers this is true. Every time someone suggests doing something about these randomly sprayed bullets, the worshippers point out how the proposed solution will have no effect, yet they never offer a solution of their own, besides the usual “arm everybody”.

      That ol’ Radical Russ sure slings the bullshit, don’t he? Hint, dipshit: Because YOU perceive a problem does not make it incumbent on me to propose a solution.

    3. Elliott Rogers managed to pass a background check and used ten round California capacity magazines in his rampage. Funny how that didn’t stop him in the slightest.

  23. The Department of Pre-Crime is going to be very busy.

  24. Simple minded, is a kindness unwarranted.

  25. We don’t need more gun laws, we need better gun laws. If you want background checks for individual transfers, make them work. Start out with a set of laws that require every court, law enforcement organization, doctor, hospital, and mental institution in the United States to report, within X hours, anyone whom they believe is prohibited from buying or owning a gun. Make the severe penalties for failing to do so (or willfully making a false report) apply to both the organization and the person responsible. Make it possible to report online and over the phone. Make it fast (ten minutes, half an hour), allow the transfer if not approved within that time span and, if timed out and then denied, require both an immediate report by the FBI to both parties’ local law enforcement organizations and an immediate investigation by those organizations. Delete the records of approved applications three months after the approval. Better still, let the National Rifle Association do it. The U.S, government contracts with the NRA to run or supervise the system. That might even get passed. If you need to frost the cake, allow states to add their gun prohibitions to the system’s criteria.

  26. Why do the hopliphobes always compare us to Western Europe? These countries all have relatively homogeneous populations with a long history of openly top-down rule, whereas we have a wildly heterogeneous population with little history of openly top-down rule, and we fought our way out of that. With guns! Even more significant, I believe, is that we have always had a physically identifiable, lower socio-economic population, which is extremely disruptive in any open society. At least compare us to similar countries, like Mexico, Argentina, Russia ( /parallels/2013/09/19/224043848/ the-u-s-has-more-guns-but-russia-has-more-murders [delete the spaces.]).

  27. Of course it can be done. Haven’t you ever seen the movie Minority Report?

    Oh… wait…

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