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An Honest Talk About Guns

The most popular gun-control proposals would have little effect, while the most effective measures would be immensely unpopular.

Vester Lee Flanagan's brutal murder of two young WDBJ reporters has reignited the debate over gun control. That debate, which never really ends, is deeply frustrating to both sides because of a conundrum that does not get talked about enough: The most popular gun-control proposals would have little effect, while the most effective measures would be immensely unpopular.

Instead, we get the frequent assertion that voting against gun control exhibits "cowardice." This is an ad hominem, not an argument on the merits. We also get the assertion that gun-control advocates want only "common-sense" restrictions, and the lament that America needs an "honest conversation" about guns. None of these shibboleths sheds much light.

After every high-profile killing, the cry goes up that America must "do something," which is how an August 26 Washington Post editorial put it. This urge is so strong that it overwhelms critical thinking. "We certainly don’t know if the gun-control measures that (Virginia Gov. Terry) McAuliffe or other would-be reformers favor would have prevented Wednesday’s deadly attack," the newspaper said. "But it doesn’t matter." Efficacy doesn't matter? Really?

Apparently not. The two most common proposals in the wake of any spree killing are universal background checks (Virginia Democrats are reviving that proposal now) and a ban on assault weapons - neither of which would have a measurable effect on spree killings.

Three of the most horrifying massacres in recent years, by Adam Lanza in Newtown, Ct.; James Holmes in Aurora, Co.; and Jared Loughner in Tucson, Az., all were committed with legally obtained weapons. Background checks did not stop them. Nor did a background check stop Flanagan, who passed his.

Better background checks might have stopped Seung-Hui Cho's rampage at Virginia Tech, and should have. The problem was not that the background check system was insufficiently broad, but that Cho slipped through the cracks of a system that would have caught him had it been working properly. The same holds true for Dylan Roof, whose arrest on drug charges might have stopped him from buying a gun (but, for complicated reasons, also might not have).

In fact, according to an ana lysis by The Atlantic, of 30 mass shootings from 2003 to 2013, broader background checks would have stopped only one: Douglas Williams' slaughter at a Lockheed Martin plant. Requiring states to report information promptly and thoroughly to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System might do more good than broadening the application of a system full of holes.

Likewise, bans on assault weapons would have a vanishingly small effect on spree killings. Such bans usually define assault weapons based on cosmetic characteristics, such as a pistol grip or a flash suppressor, that have no bearing on lethality. This is one reason few public officials have tried seriously to revive the 1994 federal ban that expired in 2004. Although there are millions of so-called assault rifles in circulation (3.3 million Colt AR-15s alone, for example), they actually are used in homicides less often than hammers and clubs. And that's true for all rifles, not just the scary-looking kind. In 2013, FBI data show, 285 people were killed with rifles, and 428 with blunt instruments.

To be fair, some gun-control advocates nod toward these realities by saying, as the Post did recently, that "no one piece of legislation or policy change will solve the problem of gun violence. Many actions are needed."

But which ones? Other possibilities include mandatory trigger locks; limiting gun sales to one per customer per month, as Virginia used to do; limiting the capacity of semiautomatic magazines, as New York tried to do; waiting periods; registration; licensing; and confiscation.

Some proposals stand on stronger legs than others. One that merits adoption is the gun-violence restraining order, or GVRO, which allows authorities to confiscate the firearms of individuals who have been adjudicated a threat. (Virginia considered such a proposal earlier this year but didn't pass it.) Laws like that rest on a clear, articulable suspicion about an individual, rather than on sweeping assumptions that, much like racial profiling, cast suspicion on the dangerous and the innocent alike.

The hard truth, however, is that while such reforms might reduce gun deaths somewhat, they are unlikely to have a transformative effect. They certainly are unlikely to make gun homicide rates fall by half, which is what has happened over the past 20 years, even as many states have relaxed their gun laws. After Virginia passed a law allowing guns in bars, for example, the number of crimes committed with guns in bars actually dropped. (You can't say the law's repeal caused the drop, but you also can't say it caused any increase.) That gun-related killings fell in so many places where gun-control laws were loosened should cast doubt on simplistic assertions that there is a direct relationship between gun laws and gun crimes. International comparisons, likewise, raise similar doubts.

After all: There are an estimated 300 million guns in America, and nearly one out of every three adults owns a firearm. The vast majority of gun owners will never hurt anyone with a gun. Moreover, the presence of a gun in the home does not always correlate neatly with getting shot: While whites are twice as likely to have a gun in the home as blacks, blacks make up 55 percent of all shooting victims.

Still, it's indisputable that if the U.S. were to confiscate all civilian firearms, only a very small number of people would die by gunshot. In Japan, where nearly all gun ownership is forbidden, the number of deaths by gunshot in any given year is less than two dozen. France, which also has extremely stringent gun laws, likewise has a gun homicide rate lower than America's by an order of magnitude (although, as some have pointed out, France's gun laws didn't stop the Charlie Hebdo massacre).

Gun-control advocates are willing to trade a marginal degree of liberty for a marginal reduction in gun deaths. But are they willing to stop there? If so, many gun-rights supporters actually might join them: Polls show gun owners support some modest gun-control efforts, such as broader background checks.

Defenders of gun rights are less likely to endorse stronger measures. Advocates of gun control think it is callous to accept tens of thousands of deaths a year just so gun owners can keep their toys. But is their own attitude toward, say, alcohol any less callous? The CDC reports that 29,000 people died prematurely because of alcohol in 2013 - far more than the number who were murdered by someone using a firearm, and that's not counting deaths from alcohol-related accident or homicide. The lives of those who died were shortened by an average of 30 years. Yet the vast majority of Americans blithely tolerate this because they don't want to (and shouldn't have to) give up something nobody really needs: the occasional drink.

The real question is whether gun-control advocates would be satisfied with a minor reduction in firearm killings. Suppose for the sake of argument that the U.S. adopted the bulk of the gun-control agenda, and then witnessed another massacre like the one in Littleton. At that point, would gun-control advocates say: "Well, we tried all the common-sense measures, so there's nothing more we can do"? Or would they, like anti-abortion activists, press for ever-more-stringent restrictions?

That's one question any honest conversation about guns ought to answer.

Photo Credit: kcdstm/foter.com

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  • JWW||

    The answer to whether gun-control activists would accept limited gun control is HELL NO.

    Confiscation is their end goal. Period. Gun rights advocates have figured that out and have appropriately stopped listening to "limited gun control" arguments.

    You seem to paint anti-abortion supporters with an easy belief that they won't stop short of a full abortion ban. Oh and as for lives saved, stricter gun controls would save fare fewer human lives than a full abortion ban. Of course that's only true if you believe fetuses are human.

    Pity the anti-gun folks have bamboozled you into thinking theres even a chance that they're reasonable.

  • jrom||

    The only gun control we need is restrictions on the types of guns law enforcement can have. They should not have access to fully auto guns, grenades, armored vehicles, helicopters with mounted machine guns, and armor piercing bullets.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    How about making a Federal law to the effect that not state of other agency may restrict the ownership of any firearm used by any state or federal agency other than the Army?

  • jrom||

    Lets disarm the government thugs! And lets expand the rights of the people to allow them to purchase guns with at least a three round burst. And we should also be able to buy armor piercing bullets. This is because the Second Amendment is about protecting the people from an out of control government. And if body armor improves in the future, our lead bullets may be useless against these government thugs. Thus, we need to be able to buy bullets made of harder materials. Of course, this would be only for self defense. I would never condone any act of violence. Only government employees are legally allowed to shoot innocent and unarmed people. Just like only government crooks can legally lie under oath, cheat on their taxes, steal, sexually assault others, kidnap, and seize other peoples assets. Although, I guess those personal injury lawyers can take your money and property anytime they want as well. Ambulance chasing jerks!

  • techgump||

    ^^ That. It's Gov't who possess the largest cache and is the largest proliferator of arms, the most oppressive and murderous upon innocence with them, and is the one most likely to use them. Individuals with Rights and arms pale in comparison to the death and destruction Gov'ts, the USA as no exception but rather an example of the rule, wield upon it's own and other nations; bar none, there is no comparison, not close.
    Want gun control, then control the guns in the hands of the largest user and abuser of them: Gov't. Until then, I'm not one bit inclined to surrender a single shred of the few rights to arms left to individuals.

  • BambiB||

    One indication of the dishonesty of the anti-gun mob is the intended confusion caused by the term "assault weaon". An assault RIFLE is a medium-caliber, selective-fire rifle. An assault WEAPON is a rifle that looks like and assault RIFLE but isn't. The terms assault WEAON is a term create by the anti-gun crowd to confuse people like the author.

    When the author says, "Although there are millions of so-called assault rifles in circulation (3.3 million Colt AR-15s alone, for example)..." he is conflating "assault rifles" with "assault weapons". An M-16 is an "assault rifle". An AR-15 is not. Their appearance may be identical. They may use the same ammunition. But the AR-15 is not a selective-fire weapon and consequently is NOT an assault rifle.

    The proper term for AR-15s and the like is "semi-automatic rifle". As such, it is in the same class as the Ruger Mini-14, which is a "good gun" - a carveout for it being specifically included in the Federal Assault Weapon Ban.

    Images in next post because the Reason character counter apparently goes nuts on the length of links.

  • BambiB||

    Actually, the Reason post-edition software is BROKEN. I tried to post 3 links (total length 241 characters.

    The Reason posting mechanism claims this is 50 characters too long.

  • Gray Ghost||

    BambiB,

    If you use Chrome to view this site, getting the extension, "Reasonable", is a Godsend. It has filtering functions, hyperlink additions that H&R will accept, highlighting of new posts, and a notation of the last people to post in the thread.

    A former commenter, "Amukadari," came up with the extension and this blog would be unreadable without it.

    I understand there's a similar greasemonkey script for those people using Firefox.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    this blog would be unreadable without it.

    This blog was unreadable for the past few weeks without it.

    Praise be to whomever fixed it.

    (This post made possible by the "Reasonable" extension)

  • uunderstand||

    Didn't understand the qualifier " so-called, " did you?

  • Brian||

    Why can we not have an honest conversation in this country about repealing the 2nd amendment?

  • ||

    We can. The answer is no.

    Is that honest enough?

    Remember, the second amendment doesn't grant a right, it only recognizes a fundamental, inherent right. You can't repeal or remove fundamental rights. You can only violate them.

  • ace_m82||

    An addendum:

    Not only is the answer "No", it's "No, and if you try I will shoot you."

    I don't want to shoot anyone, but if the tyrannical shoe fits... perhaps you should get "fitted" for a designer coffin.

  • RGSG99||

    I created an account just to reply to your comment, Suthenboy. This is the best and most succinct answer I have ever seen. Thank you!

  • JayWye||

    NOBODY has ever submitted ANY legislation for an Amendment to "repeal" the Second Amendment. They know it's unachievable,and a sure political death.

    But nobody has prevented you hoplophobes from talking about it,or even working politically to achieve it. The (few) smarter ones among you already know it's a waste of time.

    Instead,they try to enact laws that nibble away at the RKBA,and rely on the expensive,RISKY court system to keep their unconstitutional laws on the books. You see,Government has unlimited power,time,resources to appeal,delay,and delay,bankrupting the poor sucker who's life is on the line after getting prosecuted for breaking the unconstitutional law,which seems to be the ONLY way to get "standing" to contest these unconstitutional laws.

  • Akira||

    I think we SHOULD change the Second Amendment. Here's my version:

    "The right of individual citizens and groups of citizens to keep firearms, carry them in public, use them for self-defense, and procure ammunition and other supplies for them, shall not be infringed, nor shall it be taxed excessively or subject to licensing schemes."

  • Will Nonya||

    It's interesting that it's now socially actable to limit the right to bear arms to self defense.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "The occasional horsewhipping, defenestration, or outright lynching of an officious government stooge being necessary to the security of a free people the right of said people to be armed with pretty much whatever they can carry shall not be infringed. And that includes TAXED, motherfuckers!

  • Chip Woodier||

    You omitted any mention of woodchipper. I am disappointed.

  • Michael Price||

    It's under the window during the defenestration.

  • Will Nonya||

    Because to start that conversation we would have to begin by examining the reasons why it was deemed necessary to formalize the right to begin with then discuss whether those reasons are still valid today.

    The first part of that has been so badly muddled by politicians and politically correct views that few can even comprehend the origin not to mention the danger it poses to the political classes if people realized its role in supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression.

  • Cap'n Krunch||

    I've pointed out numerous times, and been loudly shouted down, that anyone wanting to qualify firearms ownership should be fighting to repeal the second amendment, not turn every right into little more than a privilege. If government can 'decide' which Americans qualify for second amendment rights there's no valid argument against government deciding which American qualify for first, third, fourth, etc... amendment rights. Unfortunately Americans in the majority seem to believe that they can allow government to deny other Americans they don't like rights they don't like without also allowing government to deny them the rights they do like. These are the same people who insist government should provide government largess to their favorite charity and are then outraged when government provides largess to entities they don't support.

  • Trshmnstr doesn't recycle||

    Let's stop pretending that the average American knows with any accuracy what a "right" is, or even that their decisions are made through a thinking process. The amount of thinking on the anti-gun side is "gun look scary, must make illegal"

  • Harold Falcon||

    They already decide which Americans qualify for 1st, 4th, etc rights. Try publishing a blog critical of the military if you're in the military. 3rd doesn't really apply because it doesn't come up very often. But 4 is also curtailed if you're on probation or a kid at school.

    The government is a disgusting mess that can never be trusted.

  • dchang0||

    Ask the gun banners that question, as it is they who are almost always dishonest about their intentions and goals. The only time I have seen or heard any gun banner be honest is when they admit they want a full, outright ban on all firearms in all parts of the USA. And yes, a few have actually been bold enough to admit this goal in public.

  • Marty .||

    Never.

    Fortunately, if you don't like our Bill of Rights, there are plenty of Commonwealth countries based on British common law you may want to check out where they do not recognize the right to bear arms against tyranny and oppression. Of course, they catch criminals with firearms in those countries, too.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    Understand, the impetus behind the 2nd; citizen control over a tyrannical government.
    It is more prescient today then it was 250 years ago.
    I, among many millions, will NOT give up my right to bare arms. That's your warning: Don't go there.
    Period. Full Stop. End Of Discussion.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    Its principal use today is to enforce the inviolability of the home as promised by the Third and Fourth Amendments (at least until the War on (Some) Drugs got so out of control).

    In contrast, the phrase "An Englishman's home is his castle" is considered a comical anachronism, like"A woman's place is in the home."

  • Bob G||

    Because, to be perfectly honest, you don't want to have a conversation, you want to conduct a lecture.

  • the original jack||

    We can... and here is your answer

    "An Open Rant Aimed at Those Who Would Repeal the Second Amendment"

    http://www.nationalreview.com/.....ent-repeal

  • mfckr||

    At that point, would gun-control advocates say: "Well, we tried all the common-sense measures, so there's nothing more we can do"? Or would they, like anti-abortion activists, press for ever-more-stringent restrictions?

    Nah, gun-control activists will certainly keep pushing for ever more restrictions; the ultimate "common sense" solution is that only agents of the state be allowed to use weapons.

    They don't give a shit about saving lives—rather, this has always been about affirming the supremacy of the state over the individual. Trying to have any kind of honest debate with these fucks makes you a chump.

  • ||

    Bingo.

    "I don't care about crime, I just want to get the guns." - Sen. Howard Metzenbaum.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.c.....take-guns/

  • dantheserene||

    This slip of the senator's mask is as close to an honest conversation it is possible to have with an anti.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    The only Metzenbaum quote I found on that URL referred only to automatics and semiautomatics. But it had plenty of absolutist quotes from other people. Thanks.

  • James Smith||

    To your point about not wanting to save lives, the CSGV is petitioning the DOJ to cease a grant tithe NSSF to provide free trigger locks and safety education to children.
    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.c.....gun-locks/

    The hypocrisy, it hurts my head.

  • BambiB||

    GVROs are used more often to visit hardship on a gun owner than to address a real threat. Having pointed out that rifles are used less often for murder than clubs, what sense does it make to confiscate the former when the latter is readily available?

    If we were serious about reducing firearm-related deaths, we would do it on a racial basis. Blacks constitute 13% of the population, but commit 51% of all murders. This is a stronger correlation than to any other group. You want to reduce gun deaths by 50%? Ban blacks from owning guns. (I can hear the howls of protest!)

    This is a perfect riposte to libtard arguments about gun control - but not terribly practical - or Constitutional. It DOES put the focus where it belongs - on the fact that a relatively small minority commits most of the homicides in America.

    I suspect the majority of these homicides are drug-related. There are two ways to deal with this: 1) Ignore the issue. Recognize that it's criminals killing criminals - which is ultimately good for society, or 2) Eliminate the profit in illegal drugs. Prohibition showed us what happens when a popular product is banned, but today, one does not read about bartenders shooting each other over which of them serves a customer.

    Want to reduce the gun-related homicide rate by 50%? Legalize drugs. All drugs.

    As for seizing firearms - that is guaranteed to increase homicide rates - and many of those killed will be the myrmidons sent to seize the guns.

  • Jima||

    An obvious point every single gun control fanatic seems to ignore is it's ALREADY illegal to kill someone with a gun, unless it's self defense. So we're supposed to believe just one more law will make it better? Gimme a fucking break. Liberals want to disarm anyone who might put up an organized resistance to their march towards socialism. That's the true root of their gun control fantasies. If they can disarm us, then we're all just sheep, instead of just the liberals being sheep. If it's just a matter of passing the right law, I suggest we pass a law outlawing homicidal insanity. Problem solved. That's literally how ridiculous their strategy is. Let's disarm all the law abiding citizens, then it'll all be fine...You want my guns? Come and take them. Bring body bags.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    Jima,

    You leave out a critical point. Because statist fanatics believe illegal shootings are caused by legal gun ownership, whenever a Nidal Malik Hasan or Vester Lee Flanagan starts murdering folks, new york progs can tell themselves the tragedy....er i mean "workplace violence" is 100% the fault of terrible awful southern conservative white republicans. If you support the 2nd amendment, they reason, the blood is on YOUR hands, regardless of what the killer might reveal in his manifesto.

  • JayWye||

    Even a total civilian gun ban would not work;the US Government,State and local police all will still have guns,and they LOSE them more than people are aware.
    FEDGOV is "missing" several thousand of their guns,some being full-auto machine guns. that does not include US military arms losses. Then state and local law enforcement have guns stolen from their vehicles frequently. Former Orlando POLICE CHIEF Val Demings had her service handgun stolen from her unmarked SUV in 2009,and years later,it still hasn't been recovered. OPD has "lost" 2 AR-15 kits,and had 2 machine guns stolen from vehicles.
    Post-9-11,several armed Federal employees have LEFT their loaded handguns on commercial air flights and deplaned,the guns being discovered by other passengers. One guy in Alabama stole rifles (real assault rifles,select-fire) and grenades from Anniston Army Depot.

    guns will ALWAYS be available to those who really want them.

  • Akira||

    Don't forget the possibility of bringing firearms across the southern border. If the criminals up here find themselves hard-pressed to find a gun, you can bet the cartels will be more than happy to fill that demand.

    NOTE: I'm not saying we should build a giant fence across the border. I'm just pointing out that the wide open border with drug tunnels underneath really throws a wrench into any "gun-free America" plan.

  • dantheserene||

    This cannot be repeated often enough. If the cartels can bring in tons of drugs a year, how hard would it be for them to adjust to similar prohibition against guns?

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Kate Steinle was killed by a thug using a stolen government gun left unsecured in a government issued vehicle.

  • toadboy65||

    The only way to eliminate guns is to un-invent them.
    https://homemadeguns.wordpress.com/

  • JayWye||

    there's over 300 MILLION guns in circulation in the US,held by around 70 million US citizens,and very few of them are used criminally. But there ARE over 2 million legitimate defensive gun uses by civilians,every year. The good far outweighs the bad.
    As other nations have learned,requiring turn-ins or just registration have no appreciable effect,and the costs are great. A huge amount of hassle for little gain.
    And the US has the Constitution and it's "pesky" (to "progressives") Second Amendment,that clearly states "the Right of the People to keep -and BEAR- arms shall not be infringed.".
    I don't see Congress enacting any Amendment to supercede this,nor their getting it ratified by 38 US states,which is the ONLY way any "gun ban" could take effect.
    But the anti-gun lobby keeps pressing for incremental gun bans,under the LIES of "sensible gun control" and alleged "gun safety".
    "It's time to feed the hogs."

    Lastly,we don't care how they do it in other countries. If that's what you want,then move to one that has the gun control you seek. Bon voyage.

  • ace_m82||

    Still, it's indisputable that if the U.S. were to confiscate all civilian firearms, only a very small number of people would die by gunshot.

    I dispute it. Try to confiscate firearms and hundreds of thousands of people would die by gunshot. Think Lexington and Concord times a thousand.

    Either way, the argument is moot, Abusus non tollit usum, "shall not be infringed...", Molon Labe and all that.

  • Trshmnstr doesn't recycle||

    Not only that, but it's not workable to confiscate all civilian firearms. There are plenty of people who have used some of the "loopholes" to acquire guns without the feds knowing about it.

  • Delius||

    Not that I agree with confiscating guns, but doesn't this sort of undermine the whole "Most gun owners are law-abiding people" argument? Basically, you are saying that gun owners are law-abiding just so long as they agree with the law.

  • Millard Fillmore||

    No, because doing things like buying a gun at a private gun show or from a friend is perfectly legal, but would not necessarily leave a paper trail. If I have 5 guns, I could just go bury them out in the woods or something, and tell the gov't that I sold them to my friend years ago, and there's really nothing they'll be able to do.

  • Bob G||

    I prefer the term peaceful, rather than law-abiding, since as has been noted elsewhere most people commit three 'crimes' a day just by living their lives. Did you drive 57 in the 55 on the way to work this morning? Did you cross an empty street against the Don't Walk signal? Should this disqualify you from owning a firearm?

    That aside, you miss the point - gun owners will abide by the law so long as the law abides by the Constitution. If it does not, it is no law and need not be heeded.

  • Will Nonya||

    Now where are your journalistic instincts?

    "whites are twice as likely to have a gun in the home as blacks, blacks make up 55 percent of all shooting victims"

    The conclusions practically write themselves.

    Leave out the words "in the home" and you have all you need to make national news.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Yes, and 90%+ of those Black shooting victims were shot by other Blacks.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    Are you suggesting that Black's are better marksmen?

  • Gray Ghost||

    Time, once again, for the 'cake metaphor' for compromising, common sense gun legislation, and the Second Amendment. Tl;dr or click: Gun control advocates' idea of compromise is that they only get half of what they want, while you get zilch.

    Now, if gun control advocates felt like really compromising, giving away something that gun owners might want---like, I dunno, 50 state shall issue, carry everywhere CHL, with federal pre-empting of 'can't-carry-here' carveouts---in exchange for universal background checks, or whatever gun controllers think'll solve gun crime this week...then we'd have something to talk about. I'd still be against the proposal above, but it'd actually be a compromise, and I'd actually have to weigh the gains versus the losses.

    Gun laws for the most part only hamper the law-abiding. The problem is that most gun crime isn't committed by the already law-abiding.

  • Cap'n Krunch||

    We're a nation that loves optics, reality we're not so big on. If someone were drowning government throwing an anchor on him would be considered a wise action, despite the fact that the person may have just swam to safety if he hadn't had an anchor thrown on him, because at least the government did something and that's really what matters. Government policies can have totally negative effects at incredible expense fighting a problem that doesn't even actually exist and that's ok, because government at least did something.

  • ranrod||

    Background Checks are Unconstitutional-and Ineffective..
    http://www.themoralliberal.com.....shootings/

  • Joao||

    Adam Lanza did not have his mother's permission to have the guns with which he shot her and all those kids n teachers. He was not licensed to carry any of them.

    Either way, they were not "legally obtained". Were Mrs. Lanza to have survived, she would be facing 30 counts of manslaughter for leaving them accessible to her deranged son.

    Interesting article, otherwise.

  • Jima||

    It was already against the law to go into a school and shoot a random selection of kids. I guess Adam Lanza wasn't deterred by that law. Must not have been loudly enough enacted, or something. If we could only enact the right law, the crazy people would stop killing, right? I wonder what it must be like as a gun control advocate, imagining that passing the perfect law will fix everything wrong with psychopaths...

    Putting Adam Lanza's mom in jail would not bring back those dead children, although I agree she's responsible for keeping the guns out of the hands of her batshit crazy kid.

    A small percentage of crazy people will always be with us, and a larger percentage of idiots will continue to believe they can legislate themselves into safety from them.

  • Devil's Candy||

    "Laws like that (GVROs) rest on a clear, articulable suspicion about an individual, rather than on sweeping assumptions that, much like racial profiling, cast suspicion on the dangerous and the innocent alike."

    No, in fact they do not. They rest on an as little as an unsubstantiated accusation taking as little effort as a phone call, and provide little to no due process for the implicated party, while putting the life of that party in jeopardy at the hands of police.

  • Devil's Candy||

    Also: "Still, it's indisputable that if the U.S. were to confiscate all civilian firearms, only a very small number of people would die by gunshot. "

    I guarantee you...nay, promise you, that if the U.S. even attempted such a confiscation, the number of people dying by gunshot would sky-rocket, as would be expected at the onset of a revolution.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Also; WHY is it indisputable? How many people do the various government agencies shoot BY MISTAKE very year?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Two points no Gun Control advocate I have ever met seems to want to touch;

    1) The Second Amendment clearly means that the ordinary citizen should have access to firearms. "Shall not be infringed" could only be interpreted as meaning "Except for registration, licensing, taxation, and weird laws about the appearance of the weapon." by somebody who has no respect for either Law or the English Language.

    2) Since violent crime is on a downward trend, and at a level lower than has been seen in some decades, what on earth is the tearing hurry?

  • LifeStrategies||

    It's disappointing to see an article filled with facts demonstrating the truth of John Lott's seminal title "More Guns, Less Crime" doesn't support the evident truth - the more guns, the less (violent) crime. See the eye-opening review by the tenured University Professor: www.UniversalGunOwnership.net/MoreGunsLessCrime
    When you look at total violent crime - not just gun violence - you find that once Britain had passed stringent gun control, the UK Telegraph reported: "The United Kingdom is the violent crime capital of Europe and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world, worse even than America, according to the European Commission." see telegraph.co.uk/ news/ uknews/ law-and-order/ 5712573/ UK-is-violent-crime-capital-of-Europe .html
    The reason is obvious to all except gun-control fanatics. When you pass gun control laws - ignored by violent criminals - you only disarm law-abiding citizens who have guns for defense from violent criminals. see forbes.com/ sites/ larrybell/ 2013/05/14/ disarming-realities -as-gun-sales-soar -gun-crimes-plummet
    The brutal truth is that violent crime in Detroit, Chicago, New York is among the highest in the USA, all cities with brutal gun control. But not Houston.
    Where would you rather live? In Morton Grove where violent crime increased once it banned guns completely, or in Kennesaw with Universal Gun Ownership where violent crime had dropped by 79% five years later: www.UniversalGunOwnership.net/ economic-development

  • IceTrey||

    Lowering levels of gun violence is easy and costs nothing, end the War on Drugs.

  • NYC2AZ||

    Not true! It will cost all of the heroic drug warriors and prison guards their jobs!

    /conprogderp

  • dantheserene||

    On a positive note, I noticed that Navy Federal Credit Union has recently taken down the "No firearms allowed" signs at the branches in my area.

  • JJM||

    The easiest way to reduce spree killing is basically a huge pain in the ass. A handful of states are already moving in this (incredibly fucking obvious, but unpopular) direction - Strengthening restrictions on gun ownership due to mental health issues.

    Without a doubt a psychological evaluation prior to issuing a gun license would stop the vast majority of spree killers from obtaining firearms. It would also be expensive and annoying to people like myself and probably you, dear reader, who are not fucking nuts.

    So yes, I suppose it's exactly as the article claims. The most efficacious ways of stopping spree murders with firearms are likely the most unpopular due to being, quite frankly, expensive pains in the ass.

    The alternative of course, is just adding more useless legislation that annoys legal gun owners while not actually stopping the Adam Lanza's of the world. I think we'll probably have more of that in the future.

  • SDN||

    "A handful of states are already moving in this (incredibly fucking obvious, but unpopular) direction - Strengthening restrictions on gun ownership due to mental health issues."

    ONLY when the definition of "mental health issues" is neither issued by the State nor organizations like the APA which have been taken over by people who write "studies" supposedly showing that not endorsing the full SJW line is proof positive that you are crazy.

    And since the track record since Stalin shows they will do exactly that, not just NO but H#LL NO!

  • Trshmnstr doesn't recycle||

    "White Privilege Denial Syndrome"

    Oh, guess that all those hicks and rednecks don't get guns.

  • NYC2AZ||

    "The real question is whether gun-control advocates would be satisfied with a minor reduction in firearm killings. Suppose for the sake of argument that the U.S. adopted the bulk of the gun-control agenda, and then witnessed another massacre like the one in Littleton. At that point, would gun-control advocates say: "Well, we tried all the common-sense measures, so there's nothing more we can do"? Or would they, like anti-abortion activists, press for ever-more-stringent restrictions?"

    After years of arguing arbitrary magazine limits, "assault weapon" bans, and universal background checks, the above comment is now where I generally start my counterargument. I give them the hypothetical that (insert law(s) they are advocating here) is passed and we have another Newtown-level massacre; will they advocate more new gun control laws? It has generally been a show stopper in "the conversation" that ends up devolving into ad hominems. I know I'm not going to change their view, so pissing them off is a fun secondary goal.

  • jh3||

    Since the gun control debate seems to be fueled by the occurrence of mass shootings, lets focus on the real issue. Everyone wants to blame the gun when the real culprit is the over prescription of SSRIs. The 3 mentioned in this article and almost every other perpetrator of a mass shooting that I can find info on has been found to be on an SSRI. I would like someone to point out a mass shooter who wasn't.

    A recent study from Sweden has just been released showing a significant correlation between SSRI use and violence in the 15-24 yd old age cohort. We are prescribing these drugs to a group who still has a developing brain and then we wonder why they snap.

    http://journals.plos.org/plosm.....ed.1001875

    "With age stratification, there was a significant association between SSRIs and violent crime convictions for individuals aged 15 to 24 y " "With age and sex stratification, there was a significant association between SSRIs and violent crime convictions for males aged 15 to 24 y ... and females aged 15 to 24 y ..."

    While the authors admit that further study is required this is the first study I have found even examining if there is any correlation or causality. We can't upset Big Pharma so lets go after the evil gun.

  • Delius||

    I find it interesting the number of people who on one hand say "the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens", and on the other hand say some variant on "you can have my guns when you pry them from my cold dead hands". Essentially you are saying you will obey the law just so long as the law says what you want it to say: that you can own guns.

    Are you really law-abiding when abiding by the law means doing what you want to do anyway? The measure of character is what you do when circumstances are *not* to your liking. If the law changes to forbid gun-ownership, and you continue to try to own guns, you are, by definition, no longer law-abiding, *especially* if you advocate violent resistance to the new law. This doesn't mean meekly submit to every law. It means advocating for change without breaking other laws in the process (like, for instance, the prohibition on murder).

    Full disclosure: I am not a gun owner, but neither do I advocate gun control, mostly from the practical standpoint that it has no demonstrable effect on crime and therefore there is no overriding public interest in banning individual ownership. But it is amazing how many people don't see the conflict between "guns are only a problem in the hands of criminals" and "I WILL KILL YOU IF YOU TRY TO TAKE MY GUNS".

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    Eliminate the 2nd, your first will be gone that same afternoon.
    How would you stop a tyrannical government from doing whatever they damn pleased?
    Try reading your history before making uninformed blanket statements.

  • UCrawford||

    Still, it's indisputable that if the U.S. were to confiscate all civilian firearms, only a very small number of people would die by gunshot. In Japan, where nearly all gun ownership is forbidden, the number of deaths by gunshot in any given year is less than two dozen.

    Bullshit it's indisputable...because it would be logistically impossible for the government to impound all guns. Hell, you can print guns in your own home now. Technology has rendered that argument utterly invalid...and that's before you consider the fact that criminals would never willingly give up their unregistered, usually stolen, guns.

    As for the comparisons to Japan, black-on-black crime in the U.S. is the single largest demographic for deaths by gun violence. When you remove black people from the equation, gun violence is cut in half. How many black people does Japan have? How prevalent was gun violence in Japan prior to gun bans? You're comparing two completely different cultures and societies...what makes you think that the same laws would have the same effect?

    John Knox, the pro-gun economist, already shot most of these arguments down in his academic work.

  • UCrawford||

    Correction...John Lott, not John Knox.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    Honesty? Really?
    Not once did Mr. Honesty Hinkle mention SSRI psychotropic drugs, legal ans illegal, THE common thread among every high profile mass shooting.
    We are nation on drugs, legal and illegal. Can we at least be honest about that, before you start serious discussion about taking away the God-given rights of clean and sober citizens?

  • GroundTruth||

    a marginal degree of liberty ???

    Reminds me of "a little bit pregnant".

    No apologizing for basic rights please, we expect better of Reason writers.

  • perpippity||

    When it comes to talking about homicide in America, the elephant in the room is race. Simply put, if black Americans began suddenly to commit homicide only at the rate at which everyone else commits homicide, the number of murders in America would drop by one-third, and American homicide rates be much closer to those of Europe. No one wants this to be the case-- I and many of us wish peace and prosperity for black America-- but pretending it's not a major part of the homicide situation would be wildly irrational.

  • Alan@.4||

    "Apparently not. The two most common proposals in the wake of any spree killing are universal background checks (Virginia Democrats are reviving that proposal now) and a ban on assault weapons - neither of which would have a measurable effect on spree killings.",a quote from the above article, which leaves me curious as to the following. EXACTLY, what is this "assault weapon" that some would ban?

    In-so-far as I can tell, an Assault Weapon is something, anything that one person attacks or has at another person with. Assault Rifle is that proverbial Horse Of A Different Color, already covered by long existing federal law ( National Firearms Act of 1934). These rampant banners might take a look at this long existing federal law, and possibly they might even look at existing state laws,assuming that they can and are willing to read the existing texts.

  • the original jack||

    " broader background checks would have stopped only one: Douglas Williams' slaughter at a Lockheed Martin plant. "

    Poor reasoning. The best one can state is that a broader background check might have stopped Williams buying THIS particular gun... which has nothing to do with his buying a different gun from a different source and using it to commit his crimes.

    "But is their own attitude toward, say, alcohol any less callous?"

    I flesh that thought out quite well in the short essay, "Is the damage to society from the misuse of guns worth the freedom to have guns?" at http://jack-burton.hubpages.co.....ciety-guns

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Cold, dead fingers, Bitch.

  • Jim from Virginia||

    Some interesting points. But the comparison to alcohol use is specious unless of course the author has some beef with bartenders. Gun violence is violence to others; alcoholism is self abuse.

  • Jim from Virginia||

    Some interesting points. But the comparison to alcohol use is specious unless of course the author has some beef with bartenders. Gun violence is violence to others; alcoholism is self abuse.

  • grapeape||

    Until someone kills someone in a car accident, gets in a fight they wouldn't have otherwise, etc...

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