The History of the 'Assault Weapon' Hoax. Part 1: The Crime that Started it All

A 1989 shooting at a Cal. schoolyard began the national "assault weapon" issue. It was a consequence of law enforcement failure.


The "assault weapon" controversy first became a national issue in January 1989, when a career criminal murdered five children at school playground in Stockton, California. The failures of law enforcement before and during that crime—and the media and political failures thereafter—were similar to those related to the recent murders in Parkland, Florida. These failures are part of the reason why school shootings, and other mass attacks, persist in the United States today.

This article is the first in a series detailing the "assault weapon" hoax from 1989 to the present.

The Stockton perpetrator, had whose name I won't repeat, had a difficult start in life. His parents split when he was two years old, after the father threated to shoot the mother. Like the vast majority of mass shooters, he grew up without a responsible and consistent man in his life. The mother threw him out of the house for good at age 13, after he hit her in the face.

The danger signs started early. Before he turned 18, he had been arrested 10 times. When he was 14, a mental health evaluation concluded: "if his acting out is not contained now, he will develop into a highly deceptive sociopathic character and be practically untreatable."

As an adult, he continued to accumulate multiple arrests, none of which led to more than a few weeks in prison. Among his prior crimes included being an accomplice to the armed robbery of a gas station, as well as receipt of stolen property, and possession of illegal weapons. He even vandalized his mother's car when she refused to give him money to buy drugs. Always, he slipped through the cracks of the system. His felony arrests turned into misdemeanors and he wound up back on the street.

When he was 20, doctors determined that he was mildly retarded, and had a personality disorder caused by his longstanding alcohol and drug abuse. This entitled him to Social Security Disability benefits.

He bought several handguns over the years, all in compliance with California's 15 day waiting period.

In April 1987, he was arrested while drunk and firing a pistol in Eldorado National Forest, near Lake Tahoe. He told a sheriff's deputy that he had a duty to "overthrow the suppressor." Resisting arrest, he assaulted a law enforcement officer and kicked out the back window of the police cruiser. In his possession was a book about Aryan Nations, a racist and anti-Jewish organization.

After that arrest, he twice attempted suicide in jail, and so mental health evaluations were conducted. He revealed that he thought about committing a mass murder with a gun or a bomb. One evaluation found him to be "a risk, albeit ambiguous, to harm himself. He does however appear to be a greater risk to others. That is, he would probably hurt someone else before he hurt himself." A separate evaluation called him "extremely dangerous." The mental health report concluded that he was "a danger to himself and others." Although he had been charged with five misdemeanors for the Eldorado events, all but one of them were dropped, and he served 45 days in jail.

On January 17, 1989, he attacked the playground at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, which had attended for several years as a child. By 1989, the school was predominantly Southeast Asian children. He hated Asian immigrants, apparently blaming them for his own difficulties in holding gainful employment. He hated a lot of people. On his rifle and jacket he had written "Hezbollah," "PLO," "Libya," and "death to the Great Satin" [sic].

The criminal brought two guns. One was a 9mm pistol, with which he later committed suicide. He did the killing with a semiautomatic rifle, an AKM-56S. (135 Cong. Rec. S1870, Feb. 28, 1989.)

In a period of about two to five minutes (reports vary), he fired around 105 shots. He hit 37 people, including one adult; five children were killed. The police arrived five minutes after he had begun shooting. By that point, he had killed himself.

The Stockton murderer could have been stopped before he started if the government had enforced existing criminal laws or had used existing laws to commit and provide mental health treatment for a plainly disturbed and imminently dangerous individual. The same has been true for many subsequent mass killers. In an article for the Howard Law Journal, Clayton Cramer and I detail other notorious homicides, including mass shootings, that could have been prevented if existing laws had been used to commit and treat people who were well-known to be severely and dangerously mentally ill.

A decade after Stockton, the law enforcement system failed again at Columbine High School. The year before Columbine, in the spring of 1998, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office had prepared an affidavit to ask for a search warrant for the home of one of the criminals. The affidavit was based on his published death threats on the Internet, and on the discovery—in a park a mile and half from his home—of bombs like the ones that he bragged about making. The fact of the never-executed search was unknown to the public until two years after Columbine, when Sixty Minutes II uncovered the affidavit by using Colorado's Open Record Act. Why the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office dropped the matter remains a mystery. The Office admitted in court that it had shredded many of its Columbine documents.

The pattern set by Stockton was repeated at Parkland High School, but even worse. There too, the criminal openly identified himself as an incipient mass murderer. The Stockton criminal's various felonies at least had led to arrests and misdemeanor convictions, but the Parkland criminal's open-and-shut felonies—such as explicit violent threats against the school—never even resulted in an arrest.

Part of the problem was apparently that the Broward Sheriff, and the school administration, were diligently implementing the Obama administration's demand to shut down the "school to prison pipeline" by not arresting students. This was a reasonable policy for students who committed crimes such as truancy or possession of alcohol on school grounds. But it was not reasonable for the Parkland criminal's assault and death threats. The criminal should have been put in a pipeline from school to prison. Instead, the Broward Sheriff and the school ended up running a school to graveyard pipeline.

At Stockton, police did not confront the active shooter because they were still in transit to the scene. At Parkland—as at Columbine—the law enforcement officers were already on-scene and did not enter the building to attempt to stop the on-going murders.

The next article in the series will examine the rifle the Stockton criminal used, and the misinformation that was spread about it. Future articles, will examine more of the past and present media inaccuracy about so-called "assault weapons," the many libels against law-abiding gun owners, and media coverage that has the effect of inciting copycats. And of course the 1989 and 2018 stories of presidents who imagined that they could find political advantage by breaking their campaign promises and betraying the people who elected them.

NEXT: The Fruits-of-Their-Labor Clause

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  1. How dare you to say that the government failed! It was the law that failed and to insure that the law does not fail again we need more laws so one fails the next one will catch it. Killing using a “assault weapon” has nothing to do with the killer. If one of these weapons could not be acquired the killing would not have happened. It does not matter that if that weapon was not available then a different weapon would have been used. Maybe one that would be even more effective. Such as a truck filled with fertilizer and fuel oil or gasoline. Drive one of those into the school and set it off and many more people would have been killed and the building would also collapse killing even more and maybe a fire would break out killing even more.
    So how can you say it is a failure of the government either state or federal!

    1. “It does not matter that if that weapon was not available then a different weapon would have been used”

      It’s even worse than this. The so-called “weapons ban” doesn’t make the weapon “not available”. It only makes it illegal to purchase/own. It’s still widely available. Just on the black market.

      1. In Parkland the mass murderer bought his guns with a $10,000 insurance settlement. That much money ?even on a black market? buys a lot of whatever weapons a person wants.

  2. Interesting that Mr. Kopel has not attached his name to his article. An oversight?

    1. I believe it’s because the authoring software is different from the WP software, and infrequent authors aren’t aware of some extra step.

      1. I’m still getting used to the new system. Thanks for catching that.

        1. Dude, go back and edit this thing!

          In an article for the Howard Law Journal, Clayton Cramer I detail other notorious homicides, including mass shootings, that could have been prevented if existing laws had been used to commit and treat people who were well-known to be severely and dangerously mentally ill.

          Shouldn’t there be an “and” in-between Clayton Cramer I? Or is that Clayton Cramer the First?

          This was a reasonable police for students who committed crimes such as truancy or possession of alcohol on school grounds.

          Shouldn’t that be policy?

    1. Per curiam. 😉

    2. Because no one wants to take credit for the grammatical errors.

  3. It’s not guns, it’s Obama and mental health enforcement! And anyone who thinks otherwise is creating a hoax!

    Doubling down on partisanship doesn’t seem like the rout to take.

    I believe in an individual right to self defense, and agree with most of the policies advocated. I am not alone on the left, not by a longshot.
    But this article is just alienating.

    1. If it’s truly about guns, then it also has to be about rental trucks, fertilizer, pressure cookers, box cutters, and airliners too.

      1. I also don’t think it is truly about guns. Though banning on rout to violence doesn’t mean you have to ban them all, anything short of full Australia would have only marginal impact, IMO. And I don’t want that either. I just don’t care for:

        1) calling it a hoax in the title. That implies bad faith the article comes nowhere near backing up.
        2) blithely accusing mental health authorities of not doing their job. Like there’s a bright line (‘well known to be dangerous and mentally ill ain’t it.) And like there are no liberty interests on the other side of that policy debate.
        3) Blaming Obama’s attempts to stop putting students in jail.

        If you have a policy idea, offer it. Don’t just spray blame and partisanship and call it good.

        1. Here’s my policy idea: follow the constitution.
          Either repeal the second amendment, or give up on ‘gun control’.

          1. Yes, this is what I want. Just like Kopel, only even more glib and dismissive!
            Thank you for your contribution.

            BTW, what counts as an ‘arm’ to you?

            1. Can I use SCOTUS precedent to define the term? Miller stated that protected arms would commonly be those used by military forces and would include weapons that were common to the population at the time, and easily available. As the AR style rifle is the single largest type of rifle in the peoples hands today, and as the constitution is defined by SCOTUS precedent, the rifle the left wants to ban is enumerated as a protected weapon.

              1. So the ban on full auto rifles is unconstitutional?

                1. There is no ban on full auto rifles. There is a limited supply available to civilians, making them expensive. Ownership is subject to an FBI background check, and compliance with local laws, which can mean approval by your local police chief. A $250 machine gun transfer tax must be paid to the Dept. of the Treasury.

                  1. There’s a declining stock of them, theoretically, as civilians aren’t currently permitted to own full auto rifles manufactured after 1986. (Missed it by two years…) Guns wear out, or are lost, and can’t be replaced.

                    We’d absolutely call that a ban if applied to any other product.

                    Now, as a practical matter this isn’t hugely significant, as full auto guns don’t have a lot of utility for a guerrilla war of the sort the 2nd amendment contemplates. Sniper rifles would actually be more important. But it’s still a constitutional abomination.

            2. “BTW, what counts as an ‘arm’ to you?”

              Any and all forms of weaponry.

              A textualist (not originalist) argument can be made that “keep and bear” excludes crew served weapons.

              1. However, rejecting that, the text of the Constitution itself – A1, S8, C11 – contemplates crew-served weapons of the age. (Letters of Marque & Reprisal Clause)

                1. 1. The Letters of Marque & Reprisal Clause is in the base constitution, predating the bill of rights, so if it implies what you think the second amendment is redundant.

                  2. Letters of Marque & Reprisal would constitute special licensing, so it does not support the idea that the second amendment prohibited Congress from limiting possession of such weapons on a purely textual basis.

        2. 2) We already have seen what liberty interests regarding the mentally ill have done in increasing vagrancy. But there’s no commensurate demand for “common sense” reforms of how we treat the mentally ill among the gun control crowd.
          3) Live by disparate impact, die by disparate impact. Vive la France!

          1. There are certainly people arguing for common sense reforms of mental health laws. They are just as glib as the gun control folks can be about a complicated issue.

            What the hell does disparate impact have to do with needlessly bringing a popular President into this debate?

            1. Obama and his AG Holder pushed disparate impact in schools because more POC were being disciplined than whites. Progressive strongholds, like Broward County (and many others) made political deals between schools and police departments whereby they no longer arrested students. Originally it was minor misdemeanor transgressions however they continued to the point that schools and police were ignoring felonies, all to keep the appearance of lowering crime stats in schools as well as keeping the fed dollars flowing. This led directly to the school ignoring Cruz’s actions for years until it reached the point that they expelled him, after all he was technically an adult so no more fed dollars. The same occurred with Broward County, ignoring anywhere from 25 to 47 or more misdemeanor and felony reports on Cruz. Then Broward County went even further, instead of learning from Columbine (i.e. Active Shooter Program) and responding appropriately, they choose to not engage the shooter. I would be willing to bet that the school nor Broward County had instituted Active Shooter procedures.

              1. cont’d

                IOW it was the so-called popular President that pushed ignorant policies onto K-12 schools that was directly responsible for the actions of both the school and Broward County at Parkland. We saw the same with the Dear Collegue letter to universities and colleges that has led to discrimination and numerous violations of Constitutional Rights including Due Process.

                BTW: Is Obama’s popularity really more important than his destructive policies? Or is Trump, Bush, etc. the only President’s that are held accountable for their actions and policies?

                1. That’s a long causal chain and your counterfactual ‘led directly’ is not supported.

                  And you focus on this particular cost (which is speculative), and ignore the cost of putting a bunch of students in jail unnecessarily. That’s the same myopic logic the anti-gun folks use to push their policies.

                  As to Obama’s popularity, I wasn’t using it to bolster his correctness, but to point out the rhetorical fact that invoking his name to garner partisan points alienates more than it gains.

                  1. Seriously?

                    So ignoring misdemeanors and felonies, like threatening to kill people and putting a weapon to someone’s head, is putting “a bunch of students in jail unnecessarily”?

                    Yet you have no problem with putting a bunch of students in jail unnecessarily for having a poptart shaped like a pistol, or having a t-shirt with the boots & rifle fallen soldier on it?

                    Seems to me that the policy should be the other way around.

                    1. Harder to draw that line than you think. Especially given how knuckleheaded school administrators so often are.

                      Your way is the pop-tart gun zero tolerance BS.

                    2. This is one of those not infrequent cases where you just come across as a stubborn idiot, Sarcastro. The gulf between chewing a pop tart into a gun shape and multiple instances of felonious assault is so wide even you couldn’t really be missing it.

                    3. Obama said fewer students should be jailed.

                      You guys are saying actually it should just be the right students. That’s magical thinking – it’s not so easy to get the right students except for in retrospect.

                      This is not an area of easy policy – you can’t just draw the line more towards jailing students without including more who shouldn’t be. And that includes giving more discretion to dunderheaded administrators who go in for the pop-tart gun theory.

                    4. Correction: Obama said fewer POC students should be jailed.

                      Actually it isn’t that hard. If you want to give a few breaks for minor offenses then no problem. However once you run into felony offenses then you need to bring in law enforcement. Same with Obama’s college BS; violating due process rights instead of reporting felonies to law enforcement.

                    5. “You guys are saying actually it should just be the right students. That’s magical thinking – it’s not so easy to get the right students except for in retrospect.”

                      Complete garbage. I don’t know, or care, how the pop tart kid turned out. Punishing him, and the other kids punished under the zero tolerance laws for finger guns, drawings of guns, toy guns, and the like was stupid. And pretty much everyone knew it at the time the punishment was handed down. Of course, I don’t think most of these kids were arrested. They were simply punished by the school district for allegedly breaking rules.

                      “And that includes giving more discretion to dunderheaded administrators who go in for the pop-tart gun theory.”

                      How does enforcing the laws, as written, give more discretion to school administrators than allowing them to pick and choose when to enforce it? To the extent that school administrators are involved in the enforcement process, Obama’s policies maximized discretion for the “dunderheaded administrators.”

                    6. “you can’t just draw the line more towards jailing students without including more who shouldn’t be” – True. And the opposite approach is just as problematic, which is what the Obama/Holder push did. Which is what Kopel was getting at. Merely correctly attributing the source of the problem doesn’t distract from the point. Ironically, you are the one doing that.

          2. In France Disparate Impact, is under current law, a non starter.

            1. Exactly my point.

        3. Well, then, the fact of the matter is that the left is *not* about violence, it’s about guns.

          First they’ll come for the scary black rifles.
          Then they’ll come for the “fast murder machines” (rifles capable of “full semi-auto”).
          Then they’ll come for the “high-capacity murder machines” (that is, standard-capacity magazines).
          Then they’ll come again for the “fast murder machines” (semiautomatics).
          Then they’ll come for “sniper rifles” (any bolt-action).
          Then they’ll come for “multiple murder machines” (shotguns).

          The left has *no* credibility, none whatsoever, when it comes to gun-grabbing.

          No, not one step back. I demand a Constitutional Amendment, to state that any proposal for gun-grabbing is outside First Amendment protections and should result in life imprisonment in solitary confinement within ADX Florence.

          1. Equating gun control with the left is part of the problem. If you read lefty forums, this has not yet become tribal doctrine, but nothing assures it will become so like tarring everyone on the left as anti-gun Nazis.

            Also not helpful is joking about shutting down speech in service of your policy preference. It bespeaks a complete disengagement that will work great until it doesn’t, and then you will have nowhere to go.
            There are great arguments – originalist, textualist, and even current meaning for a right to individual self-defense. Though arguing for machine guns may not be a hill you want to die on; every right has limits (e.g. time place and manner).
            Also helpful is discussing the outcomes. Not via anecdotes, which just inflame, but via statistics.
            Finally, for those citing Europe as a model, point out how different America is from Europe in it’s culture, especially about guns. It’s a faulty paralel

            Point is, if you don’t engage you’ve traded continuing what has been a pretty successful debate for the pro-gun side into just another chance for self-validation.

            1. Actually, we already have a right to own machine guns, explosives, etc. Although the process is more time consuming and difficult (time, place, manner) just as purchasing other firearms although not as time consuming nor difficult. Both already have restrictions.

              As for Europe, history has shown that their policies don’t stop mass murder nor violent crime with other weapons. How quickly we forget Charlie Hebdo and Paris or the London and Manchester mass murder in 2017 with more victims, both dead and wounded.

            2. I don’t think he’s joking.

              I think the attitude, while a bit extreme, is not far from that of many gun lovers.

            3. “Equating gun control with the left is part of the problem. If you read lefty forums, this has not yet become tribal doctrine”

              It’s certainly tribal doctrine among the lefty commentators at Reason. And the Democrats in Congress who introduced a bill to ban pretty much all semi-automatic guns. And the Democrats in California who come up with ever more creative ways to restrict gun ownership. And the Democrats who are consistently much more favorable to gun control than either Republicans or independents in polls.

              1. I read the propose Assault Weapon Ban 2017 posted by Diane Feinstein.

                It defined “assault weapon”. Which included two rifles I shoot in the local military matches.

                It also included 100+ pages of makes and models of guns excluded from the AWB 2017 which list included semi-auto, pump-action, lever-action, bolt-action rifles, both repeating and single-shot (as in no magazine, hand load each cartridge single shots). The list “saved” the Charter Arms and Henry versions of the AR-7 but not my ArmaLite AR-7, several single shot .22 rimfire models but not my Garcia Bronco or Springfield 73 , all functionally identical to the makes and models listed as not subject to AWB2017

                It is like their list of makes and models exempted from the ban were copied from some auction house catalog just to up the page count of the bill with an arbitrary list.

            4. “Equating gun control with the left is part of the problem. If you read lefty forums, this has not yet become tribal doctrine …”

              In the 1960s and on, the litmus test used to separate true liberals from pretenders was true liberals expressed unconditional support for anything called gun control. Hatred of NRA was mandatory even before NRA-ILA was founded.

              When did that change? After All In The Family and Maude were cancelled? :Last time I bothered to check the discussions at Daily Koz and HuffPost, it was still lefty dogma. Guns evil, gun owners evil, gun control unquestionably good.

          2. First they’ll come for the scary black rifles.
            Then they’ll come for the “fast murder machines” (rifles capable of “full semi-auto”).
            Then they’ll come for the “high-capacity murder machines” (that is, standard-capacity magazines).
            Then they’ll come again for the “fast murder machines” (semiautomatics).
            Then they’ll come for “sniper rifles” (any bolt-action).
            Then they’ll come for “multiple murder machines” (shotguns).

            You say that as if that would be a bad thing…

          3. Your preferences seem destined to die as American society progresses, Chem_Geek. The practical question is how counterproductive your belligerence is to become.

            1. If you feel that is legitimate progression then why don’t you argue for an amendment process? Why not call for a Convention of the States? Your dishonesty is that you proffer this idea that hiding behind regulations performed over time are a valid solution. Legally, they are not. Morally, they are not.

              Until you want a route that has legitimate means, fuck off.

              1. I perceive no need for an amendment. The current Constitution seems adequate, legally and morally.

                I also see little likelihood of an amendment; scant value in simplistic, relatively uninformed absolutism; and substantial likelihood that American society will follow my preferences and continue to improve over all but the shortest terms.

                1. If you are convinced that there is a “substantial likelihood that American society will follow my preferences”, amending the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment should be child’s play and completely eliminate the argument. Why not proceed with that approach?

                  Perhaps even amend the Constitution to actually grant Congress the power to regulate firearm manufacturing and ownership so they don’t have to hide behind the awkward shield of other powers they are granted in Article I when regulating firearms? This would eliminate any issues around the Ninth and Tenth Amendments as well.

                  These steps, presumably simple with all the support you perceive, would also protect against rouge originalist Supreme Court Justices in the future.

                  1. I believe the Constitution entitles an American to possess a reasonable firearm for self-defense in the home.

                    Amending the Constitution seems unnecessary.

                    My preferences generally align with those of the liberal-libertarian alliance that has been shaping America’s course for at least a half-century. Is there any reason to expect this to change?

                    1. The constitution makes no mention of self defense of the home. It only mentions the security of a free state.
                      Reading comprehension is not your strong suit

                    2. I like this theory that 2A only protects the bearing of arms under a direct threat to the state and I wonder why I’d never heard it before? Of course, it seems strange the Fathers would prohibit owning a firearm for hunting, but as we all know, they were infallible and they did intend for their choices to rule this nation in perpetuity. Live and die by originalism, I always say.

                      “Yes, you can have your rifle as soon as there’s an army at the door. Now go away.”

                      Sounds good!

                    3. Heller, etc are not limited to self defense in the home. Such would be nonsensical and completely contrary to the understanding of the RKBA at the time of adoption of the 2nd Amdt.

                  2. No. Changes in population distribution vis a vis the states have made amending the Constitution nearly impossible. In principle, tiny minorities (single digit percents) of the whole population of the entire United States are now sufficient to block ratification.

                    Nor did it take an amendment to write the militia clause out of the Constitution in Heller, or to install a federal right to arms for self-defense, despite an utter lack of founding-era comment in favor of that in the historical record. That stuff was made up by Scalia, no amendment required.

                    The same political mechanism which gave Scalia the practical power to change the Constitution to suit gun advocates will eventually put power in the hands of a pro-gun-control Court?who will use it similarly, but to thwart gun enthusiasts. And no amendment will be required then, either.

                    Which is why people who don’t think constant oscillation between extremes is the right solution for gun policy ought to be seeking compromises now. Not that I expect gun enthusiasts to reflect on that, or even notice. A lot of them seem to think if that happens they will just start shooting.

                    1. Stephen Lathrop takes a break from arguing for the suppression of speech to turn his attention to the suppression of firearms. His arguments, of course, are similarly lacking.

          4. @Chem_Geek

            This is why I wish the comment system had a thumbs up or like feature.

            Excellent summary of the Progressive pathetic process for violating the 2nd Amendment based on emotion and feelz instead of logic, reason, and critical thinking.

            1. Your side can’t lay claim to logic over emotion either, however. Look at the paranoia, the anger, all over this thread.

              1. Really? My side has gone through the same fascist calls for gun ban, time and time again. We actually put up with a so-called “assault weapon” ban which accomplished nothing. Residents of Progressive Plantations like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, have seen nothing accomplished except more of them being denied self protection and more of them being murdered. Chicago has had more people die each year from firearms alone than US military in Iraq/Afghanistan.

              2. “Your side can’t lay claim to logic over emotion either, however. Look at the paranoia, the anger, all over this thread.”

                Wait, you think bernard11 is against gun control?

          5. We don’t even need an amendment for that. The 1st Amendment was not intended to protect sedition. Advocating for gun control is already outside the protection of the 1st Amendment.

        4. But all the kewl kids want somebody to DO SOMETHING! And since no one can agree because NO LAW IS GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING BECAUSE CRIMINALS AND CRAZY DO NOT FOLLOW LAW, I suggest the following:
          BIGGER “NO GUNZ” SIGNS with neon lights. Hopefully the neon lights will give the EMS better lighting to scoop up the bodies.
          Give every teacher A BANANA AND TEACH THEM TO GO PEW-PEW-PEW. That way they can’t “accidentally” shoot anyone and responding officers won’t shot them unless they point the banana at them.

          Makes as much sense as any proposal put forth by ANY GUNGRABBER EVER!

        5. It truly is about the guns. The left wants them and seems more and more likely to get them in some way. Here in the sunny South, most likely a few bullets at a time!

        6. So what are your suggestions given the article content is accurate?

          Would ‘hoax’ be acceptable if Kopel had once again listed gun control groups’ deliberate policy to obfuscate, fear-monger, and capitalize on public ignorance? Was there ever a murder with a mounted bayonet the tried-and-failed Assault Weapons Ban included?

          Most states disenfranchise citizens after felony conviction based on proven inability to make good choices. How about the schizophrenic and delusional, can or can’t they be denied civil rights as well? Nobody sane can call our mental health system healthy; so what are the steps to improve it and what’s the goal? Constructive criticism would be welcome rather than sniping.

          Broward hired their school administrator due to his Chicago connections (including ties to then U.S. Secretary of Education) hoping for federal largess. They got it too, with a policy that reduced student arrests by ….. not arresting school students for crimes. There’s blame enough to go around, Obama was the-man-in-charge, his associates the henchmen, and our taxes provided the incentive; enthusiastically abetted by the FL Dept of Education, local sheriff, local judge, and even the local NAACP signed the contract.

          How can we make a reasonable policy to reduce crime and educate kids without training them to throw chairs at teachers or hold knives to other students’ throats?

    2. Your comment would have validity if an arbitrary Obama policy that had nothing to do with the event in question had been brought up, but there’s a pretty clear connection to the policy of reducing arrests of students, and the fact that this particular student hadn’t been arrested for some pretty drastic things.

      Perhaps Dave Kopel is wrong about the connection; if so, I would like to hear why.

      1. First, you don’t need to cite Obama. That’s pretty telling.

        Second, your understanding implies the solution is to arrest more students. Good luck with that.

        1. The solution was obviously to arrest at least one more student.

          1. Making policy based on anecdotal hindsight is a great recipe for bad policy.

            1. If you believe 17 deaths are anecdotal, you may have some larger issues.

              Making adjustments based on undesirable outcomes (hindsight, if you will) if how we get to better handling if future situations.

              1. 17 deaths are BY DEFINITION anecdotal. Quit with your appeal to emotions; I doubt you like it when the left does it.

                It is a quirk of human nature that we are easily contented and motivated to change largely by crisis. This does not mean we should make policy looking myopically back at a what wouldda solved a single incident.

                1. Well it is obvious that Gun Free Zones and gun control don’t work. One only has to look at the data for Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, or the fact that almost every mass shooting/shooter has intentionally chosen Gun Free Zones aka defenseless victims, with no armed resistance available.

                  1. Haha, I don’t think shooters are intentionally choosing gun free zones, versus places where there are lots of people.

                    I also don’t think we have any idea about the counterfactual about how crime in Chicago would look without gun regs.

                    Bottom line, I don’t think there are good stats in either direction about the effect of more or less guns/gun laws. Hard to get a control, hard to get unbiased studies. That won’t stop either side from making consequentialist arguments, of course.

                    Not that my rights-based paradigm is much better. How can I prove that there is a right to self defense? All I can say is that’s how I come out on the issue.

                    1. Uh, when was the last time you heard about a wacko shooting up a POLICE STATION? There was one in Austin where the whack job shot up the federal court house, a Mexican consulate and then began firing his AK at the police station. A mounted cop, from 100 yards away and while holding the reins of his horse, dropped the whack with ONE SHOT from his 40 cal Glock. Cost upwards of $30,000 to replace the cop shop windows. Of course this wasn’t really a “mass shooting” because the only body was the whack. Anybody else got a “mass shooting” any place BESIDES a “gun free” (aka victim disarmament)zone?

                    2. Have you heard of my tiger repelling rock?

                    3. Stop with your silliness. Though it’s true that the people who produce Anti-Tiger Spray have been interested in developing a rock for the same purpose, they really haven’t got pass the design stage.

                      But the spray works great. I almost never get attacked by tigers since I started using it.

                      Lions remain a problem, though.

                    4. I would suggest reading what these mass shooting suspects said and wrote. Almost every one of them decided against certain targets because they had security (usually armed) and choose locations (targets) where there would be no resistance.

          2. I agree that students shouldn’t be arrested for truancy, but when a student isn’t arrested for violent behavior, including holding a gun to someone’s head, then the policy has gone horribly wrong.

        2. What is pretty telling? That the Obama administration and Obama’s political allies pushed against arresting school students for violent offenses and making serious threats (that qualify as true threats under 1A jurisprudence)?

          1. The problem is that police activity in schools was and is excessive in many cases. We need less police in schools for a lot of things, but we need to be able yo not cry wolf and bring in the cops only when it’s really arrest worthy. Not an easy proposition.

            1. Locally we have had armed School Resource Officers in the four county high schools since 1997. The serve not merely as armed guards but also conduct public safety programs. One, Carolyn Gudger, is credited with stopping and armed man who had a principal at gun point and who wanted the fire alarm tripped. The students love her, and credit her with preventing a mass shooting.

              The ratio of police to population for public safety is cited at 1 to 2 officers per 1,000 population. These mega schools with 2,000 to 5,000 population and zero police are like having small towns with no police presence at all.

              I have gone on the record criticizing police who act like jack booted thugs, but I also recognize that such are the exception, not the rule, and police presence in schools does not have to be excessive but certainly should not be zero.

        3. Yeah, don’t you dare mention the administration that pushed the policy! You may mention the policy itself, but don’t you ever think about mentioning the names of anyone involved with pushing the policy. Doing so would out you as some kind of anti-government extremist looking to hold elected officials responsible for the repercussions of their actions. Telling indeed!

          1. How does citing Obama further the thesis of the post? Not at all, it just gets folks heated up unnecessarily. Good if you want propaganda, bad if you want to convince.

            1. Referencing a President, by name, whose Administration implemented a policy helps define the time-frame, philosophy, and possible rationale behind such policies.

              Would you find it unacceptable if Trump’s tariffs create havoc on our economy for someone to refer to them as “the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration”?

              Do you object to the term “Obamacare” and rail against that usage at every turn?

              Do you object to the term “Reaganomics” and rail against that usage at every turn?

              Administrations are known by the name of the President just as some periods of Supreme Court jurisprudence are known by the name of the Chief Justice at the time (who, of course, has little actual power beyond that of the other eight Justices — quite different from the level of power an individual President has).

              1. In an article about why tariffs are bad, I would think calling Trump out by name was odd, yes. Even the context you are imputing to Obama’s name is unneeded for the thrust of the thesis.

                Terms that include a President’s name are more natural and used by both sides; I would respect an article that called it ‘ACA’ or ‘Supply side economics’ as avoiding colloquialism, not partisanship.

                Try it – it is very easy to just cut out Obama’s name and you get the same benefit to the argument but without the partisan baggage.

      2. He pretty clearly said he did not disagree with the Obama policy. The problem was the school district’s extreme interpretation.

    3. I hope reasonable gun advocates begin to steer gun advocacy away from absolutism and toward a sensible, achievable resolution, lest the combination of anti-gun absolutists and reasonable advocates arrange a severe backlash that diminishes a right to possess a reasonable firearm for self-defense in the home, which I favor and believe the Constitution (not necessarily the Second Amendment, however) protects.

      Gun absolutists who do not perceive a risk of counterproductivity in their rigidity are mistaken, in my judgment. There generally are no free swings, and the seemingly predictable trajectory of American society disfavors gun absolutists, especially in the context of the electoral coalition to which they have tied their political prospects.

      Universal background checks and gun shows are probably the current canaries — if gun advocates prevent sensible, popular progress on those issues for a few more years, my expectation will swing toward a severe anti-gun backlash.

      1. US Department of Justice
        National Institute of Justice
        Bureau of Justice Statistics
        Firearms Use by Offenders
        (Sample: nationwide sample of prison inmates who possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were imprisoned)

        2004 Source of firearms possessed by state prison inmates at time of offense

        11.3% Retail Purchase or trade
        7.3 – Retail store
        2.6 – Pawnshop
        0.6 – Flea market
        0.8 – Gun show

        37.4% Family or friend
        12.2 – Purchased or traded
        14.1 – Rented or borrowed
        11.1 – Other

        40.0% Street/illegal source
        7.5 – Theft or burglary
        25.2 – Drug dealer/off street
        7.4 – Fence/black market

        11.2% Other source

        Universal background checks? Requiring private sellers and buyers of used guns to go to a gun dealer and pay $30 to $55 for a background check? The Virginia State Police do federal NICS background checks at Virginia gun shows for $5. In Tennessee, a dealer check of state and NICS databases is $10. The UBC cost of $30 to $55 is a sin tax that actually discourages use of the system.

        I would point out that family or friend supplying guns to criminals are often criminals too. It will be really hard to get them and the thieves, burglars, fences, black marketeers, drug dealers, street dealers to run background checks on criminals before supplying them with guns.

      2. NO REGISTRATION LISTS! EVER! The only “need” for a “universal background check” is to implement a “registration system” nationwide that attempts to TRACK EVERY FIREARM. And once that list is sufficient, “oh it costs so much, let’s just have a SMALL LICENSE FEE to cover the expense of the GOVERNMENT ALLOWING YOU TO HAVE A RIGHT”. And then BAM, the “reasonable gun law” will cost $100-$1000 PER YEAR PER GUN and the socialists will DISARM the lawabiding and try to institute their version of a socialist utopia, aka TOTALITARIAN RULE, just like N Korea, Venezuela, etc.

        1. I’m not for banning guns, but umm there are lots of countries that have banned guns and have not become North Korea…

          1. There are also lots of countries that have banned guns and become North Korea. Why take the chance?

            1. epsilon, there is only one North Korea. Even Cuba is not North Korea.

            2. I don’t think ‘we risk the end of the Republic’ hyperbole is needed or helpful here.

      3. “gun advocates” is a loaded term rather like “abortion advocates” is a loaded term. “Second Amendment advocates” and “abortion rights advocates” would be much more neutral and precise terms. This is especially true in a forum such as this that, hopefully, leans more towards the legal rather than the emotional.

        Many Second Amendment advocates support the Second Amendment largely because they support the Constitution, including other rights enumerated in the BoR, and not because they are “gun advocates” specifically. Many of us would react as strongly to narrowing the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment even though they may have no fear of a police search of their homes w/o a warrant (as long as the police don’t mess the place up too badly).

        Using the term “gun advocates” is somewhat akin to using the term “gun grabbers” for those who want to ban private ownership of “assault weapons”.

        1. “Second Amendment advocates” is a biased term if it is used to mean “Those who believe that Heller was correctly decided.” Heller wrongly overturned many decades of precedent on the flimsiest of grounds, and that was possible only because Bush v. Gore was wrongly decided, and if all of the votes in Florida had been counted in 2000, Al Gore would have been elected and Heller would have followed rather than overturned precedent over the true meaning of the Second Amendment.

          1. Ok, precisely which precedential Supreme Court cases did Heller (and McDonald) overturn? Of course, they can do so, but if they wish to, but rarely do, but instead tend to distinguish a current case from previous ones when changing direction. But I will contend that they didn’t even do that with these two cases. And in particular, there were zero of their cases that had found that the 2nd Amdt was not an individual right (that included the natural right of self defense).

    4. So Sarcastr0, how has your campaign to limit cars to 30mph and a 0-30 acceleration time of 10 seconds gone? I mean, if you really want to prevent senseless death that would seem to be the way to go. After all, unlike with guns there’s no actual impetus to kill oneself or others with them so you won’t even see any substitution effect once implemented and there are no legal barriers to passing such legislation.

      1. This is actually a really interesting aspect of policymaking – dread.

        Society is willing to pay a lot more money to prevent certain methods of death versus others. Car accidents, with their assumption of the risk and ubiquity are at the bottom of the dollars/death prevented scale. Terrorism is at the top.

        Bottom line, Americans aren’t utilitarians.
        Also, did I not make it clear I think there is an individual right to self-defense?

      2. 30 MPH! Are you crazy? That speed will SUCK THE WIND OUT OF YOUR LUNGS! No more than 15 MPH ANYWHERE! If we treat the WHOLE WORLD like a “school zone”, no passing, no speeding, bicycles are OK, then no one will EVER DIE in a car accident again!

    5. It’s obviously not about guns. Also, it’s obviously about race. Like all other violent crimes, gun violence, including mass shootings, is largely a black problem. The non-black violent crime rate is at or lower than all other so-called “safer” nations. Further, some European countries have HIGHER rates of mass shootings and mass shooting deaths than the US, despite having far fewer guns.

      The hoax is about guns and mental health, when it’s really about race, the third rail of our culture. It’s racist to acknowledge this obvious truth, so it must be ignored, creating myths to cover it up.

      1. “…including mass shootings, is largely a black problem.

        16 out of 97 doesn’t seem to support ‘largely’. There is a slight over-representation, but far from ‘largely’.

  4. inconvenient truth; there is no such thing as an assault rifle.

    1. There is such thing as an assault rifle. It’s a rifle that fires a medium power cartridge and has a selector switch to file in semi-auto or full-auto or burst mode. There’s no such thing as an “assault weapon.” That is merely a semi-automatic rifle that gives liberal bedwetters PTSD.

      1. I wish Congress would at the least would ban fully automatic rifles or at least make them extremely difficult to get. Next I would like to see the states make the age limit to get a concealed carry permit 21…I don’t think 18 year olds should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. Those two measures would be the start of gun control policy that I would think even the NRA could get behind.

        1. First, I have no idea what kind of rock you’ve been living under, but Congress already *has* made machine guns very hard to get: 1938 required a permit and a $200 tax, and 1986 added the requirement that only pre-1986 weapons could be owned.

          Frankly, I’m not all that convinced that we’re all that safer because of this law.

          As for 18-year-olds owning weapons: young adults used to take their weapons to New York City schools riding the New York City subways, yet in those days (1960’s), we didn’t have mass shooting problems. Whatever problems we are having with mass shootings, it isn’t because kids have access to guns, when previously they didn’t.

          1. Do you support the gun control measure with respect to machine guns?

            Do you support the gun control measure in Texas with respect to prohibiting 18 year olds from applying for concealed weapons permits?

            Do you believe both gun control measures are constitutional?

            1. I’m fine with making Texas gun laws the model for all of the other states. California first. Are you listening Brown, de Leon, and Rendon?

              1. So there are some gun control measures you support?

                1. Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit or you’re not as clever as you think you are that you could box me into a corner so easily.

                  1. So you support gun control laws. So it is like the old joke about a guy who asks a woman if she will sleep with him for $1 million?we have established what you are now we are just negotiating.

            2. No. I don’t support banning machine guns, not when law enforcement can have them. And yes, I believe the gun law in Texas is unconstitutional, as is the 21 year old drinking age.

              1. @ARWP
                I understand your point however the Texas restriction on concealed carry is the same as the restriction on purchasing a handgun, 21 y/o. At least it is consistent.

                1. An 18 year old can legally acquire a handgun so you are wrong.

            3. Do you even read the responses?

              Machine guns aka automatic firearms/weapons are already highly restricted so why add more gun control to weapons that already have effective control?

              Texas has an age restriction of 18 y/o to purchase firearms however they also apply the federal requirement of 21 y/o to purchase handguns with an exception for military personnel. Since handguns are the firearms used for concealed carry then they are applying the federal age requirement. [The data has not shown any difference made by making the age restriction higher for handguns.]

              Constitutionality would depend on how the law(s) are written and the justification. Justification is difficult when one realizes that cars, medical malpractice, and many other methods kill more people each year than firearms. The only Constitution approved method of removing/changing the 2nd Amendment is by the Amendment Process.

              1. An 18 year old can legally acquire a handgun so you still have to explain why Texas requires a concealed permit holder to be 21.

                1. Mainly it is so we can use our License to Carry to AVOID the NICS “background check”. Since it complies with Fed law, we are EXEMPT from having to go thru the FBI “background check” when we buy from a FFL. Oh, and there are MILLIONS (16 million at last count) concealed license holders in the U.S. that are EXEMPT from that “background check”. So the FBI “stats” on gun buys are skewed LOW. I have probably bought and sold 50 guns in the last 20 years that didn’t go thru a “background check”.

                  1. Those 50 guns you bought and sold without a background check have been wandering around independently killing innocent people for years. In fact, as I was typing this, I just noticed one of them walking through my backyard.

                    …oh, wait, it was just a baby possum… …or perhaps a unicorn… …never mind…

            4. I’m not convinced that making machine guns hard to get is Constitutional. Nor do I think that banning them have made us safer.

              1. Technically, they are not banned; just highly restricted access, same as explosives.

  5. This is a confusing and disappointing blog post. First, it has got several typos that make it hard to follow. Second, it uses several words imprecisely, such as “libel” and “hoax.” Third, I’m skeptical of the “it’s not an assault weapon!” line of reasoning. I agree that the AR-15 is not an automatic and therefore not an assault rifle, but this exact type of weapon has been referred to as an “assault weapon” by the military, the federal government, other writers on this site, and by its manufacturer–and it has been marketed as such. I’m willing to read further, but so far, I’m not convinced that someone made up this term as a “hoax.” Finally, the emotional style of writing (“the many libels against law-abiding gun owners” and “[p]residents who imagined that they could find political advantage by breaking their campaign promises and betraying the people who elected them”) make me skeptical. I agree totally that we need precise terms and rational discussion, but this blog post uses imprecise terms to further an irrational discussion.

    1. Assault weapon as a description originated with gun banners to confuse the average person into conflating semi-auto rifles with assault rifles/machine guns that fire fully automatic.

      Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center in 1988:

      “Assault weapons?just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms?are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons?anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun?can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons”

    2. I had much the same reaction while reading and I’m glad to see I’m wasn’t the only one. Frankly, I don’t think this post was up to the standards usually displayed by Volokh Conspiracy articles.

      1. I agree. I’m not sure how this one got through. I’m all for spirited debate and conflicting opinions, but this isn’t THAT.

    3. The term “assault rifle” is not a hoax. It is a term that only draws an emotional reaction, that has no bearing on the comparable killing power of range of weapons. It is intentionally misleading (hoax) to use the term that fails to deliver a meaningful message, or worse yet delivers a message that misleads rather than inform

      1. “The term “assault rifle” is not a hoax. It is a term that only draws an emotional reaction, that has no bearing on the comparable killing power of range of weapons.”

        You are very wrong. “assault weapon” is a term that only draws an emotional reaction and has not real objective definition.

        “assault rifle” on the other hand is a military term with a very specific technical definition. An assault rifle is any rifle with select fire* capability. The German MP44 from WWII was the first assault rifle.

        *Select fire means that the weapon has a switch allowing it to fire in normal semi-auto mode or in a bust** or full auto mode. Some assault rifles have all three modes.

        **Burst fire refers to firing a fixed number(usually 3) of rounds for each one pull of the trigger.

        1. Leftists and their audience have no desire to argue dictionaries. Their only goal is to drive an emotional response to achieve their goal.
          My response had nothing to do with definitions, everything to do with exposing the lefts agenda.

          1. “My response had nothing to do with definitions, everything to do with exposing the lefts agenda.”

            And your response was a fail on those grounds. The term the leftists use for their agenda is “assault weapon” not “assault rifle”

            1. You omitted “assault-style rifle.”

              1. They usually use “military-style rifle” and/or “assault weapon” however in all cases, they are based on the cosmetic appearance of a firearm not the actual operation/function.

              2. “assault-style rifle.”

                I have never seen that anywhere other than your comment. Can you cite it being used anywhere?

                1. Try google, and you will find many uses of this term.

                2. Yes, I can.




                  Combine the three lines…comment system won’t allow a ‘word’ longer than 50 characters.

                  Google can cite many more instances of it.

                  1. Replace [ with < and ] with > and remove spaces from link.

                    [a href=” money/2018/02/28/dicks-sporting-goods -assault-style-weapons/381618002/”]Dick’s Sporting Goods[/a]

                    Dick’s Sporting Goods

                3. After looking stupid for incorrectly using “assault rifle” so many times, they’re trying to create a new term that sounds even more like it than “assault weapon”

                  Anyway, it’s been very widespread for the past couple of weeks

        2. At the risk of sounding pedantic, any German weapon designated with the MP label would be a Machine Pistol and would thus be full auto only. The Schmeisser would be the most iconic of these. The weapon you are probably referring to would be the Stg44 – and it was the first weapon to be called an assault rifle.

      2. It is intentionally misleading (hoax) to use the term that fails to deliver a meaningful message

        LOL. Even ignoring your imputation of bad faith to all who oppose you, that broad definition would include all sorts of puffery and advertisement.

        Your own attempt to defend the word underscores how overblown it is.

        1. Damn Sarcastr0,
          Don’t you know that Progressive don’t need no stinking facts! 😉

          1. Hehe.
            Forget it, FlameCCT, it’s the Internet. 😛

    4. So you prefer the made up term “assault weapon”? A term based on the cosmetic appearance of a firearm that nothing to do with the actual capability? IOW you prefer your own imprecise terms while assuming the author is using other terms with imprecision?

      1. If you’re responding to my comment, I never said I preferred the term “assault weapon.” If it matters, no of course I don’t prefer imprecise terms. My whole point was that we should ALL use precise terms. I was just pointing out that it’s incorrect to accuse anti-gun folks of inventing or misusing “scary” terms for these weapons (especially while using scary and imprecise terms of one’s own). But let me clarify here that I support the use of precise terms always, and I’m against false or misleading terms of any sort… in any forum… anywhere.

  6. Congress should ban insanity.

    1. “Congress should ban insanity.”

      If they did that, Congress would be forced to permanently disband.

  7. Don’t understand why everyone gets in such a huff about gun rights, when the right to fireworks that is the most infringed. Rockets red flare… Bombs bursting in air…. anyone care about actual patriotism?

    1. Those were British rockets for certain, and considering the state of Fort McHenry they were most likely British bombs. Take it up with the Canadians or the Royal Navy.

    2. Fireworks are a fundamental right under the 1A. They can reasonably be regulated only in so far as the USE infringes other people’s rights. Preventing ownership of fireworks clearly violates rights in the same way preventing ownership of arms clearly violates rights.

  8. Anything but guns, right, David?

    Take your post and shove it, and I’d like it if you’d use a gun to do the shoving.

    1. and ~that~ is the best that Bernie can do, eh.

      1. No. It’s not the best I can do.

        But you wouldn’t understand the best.

        1. Translation: “It is my best, but I’m going to pretend it’s not, since I have nothing useful or substantive to offer.”

    2. That’s as juvenile as the pathetic emoting of the kids demanding gun control and they at least have the excuse of being kids.

      1. Par for the course from bernard.

        1. Simplistic gun absolutists do not like simplistic anti-gun absolutism?

          What’s next — men marrying men, women marrying women, marijuana cigarettes being sold in stores on Main Street, and you can’t lead children in prayer at school if they’re not learning it at home?

    3. LMAO

      Poor Bernie can’t handle facts especially when they disagree with his/hers/its preferred Progressive propaganda.

  9. Parkland.

    Another Volokh-enabled massacre.

  10. David: “This was a reasonable police for students”

    I think you want “policy” there rather than “police”

    1. This makes me wonder if David was using a tablet keyboard rather than a regular one. I used to use a “swipe” keyboard, where I drew words by swiping from letter to letter, but I always disliked how if I got an entire word wrong, it was more difficult to figure out what I was trying to say, than if I just missed a character or two.

      A few months ago I switched to a “message ease” keyboard, and while I miss the swiping (it was fun, in that it was kindof like using cursive), I found I couldn’t go back, because I appreciated the precision more.

      1. I disable spell check. It often substitutes the wrong but correctly spelled word. I would rather have my writing complete with my misspellings than have it spell checked but with the wring word spelled right.

  11. So in conclusion the ban on fully automatic weapons is unconstitutional and so is the Texas concealed carry permit law which requires the applicant to be 21??

    1. FDR’s AG Homer Cummings made the 1934 National Firearms Act a prohibitory tax and registration requirement on machine guns precisely because he testified before Congress that an outright ban would be unconstitutional.

      The fact that you perceive it as a “ban on fully automatic weapons” demonstrates the observation of the Supreme Court that the power to tax includes the power to destroy that which you cannot legally prohibit (SCOTUS argument to overturn state taxes on the National Bank).

      Similarly the federal “ban” on marijuana was drawn up as the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act for a reason.

    2. That’s so obvious, you have to be a far left, anti-gun zealot to even utter the statements as if they’re shocking.

  12. Shortly after the Stockton horror, another madman walked into a printing plant in Louisville and shot the place up. At the risk of stealing Dave’s thunder, the devil’s gun of the day was the AK, which the media portrayed as far too “powerful” for civilian use.

    My later father, Neal Knox got together with Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America and they performed a little demonstration of terminal ballistics comparing the effects of different guns on a medium that everyone knows: watermelons. They captured it on an exciting new technology called VHS. You can see it here:

    1. The same demonstration should be updated with ballistics gell instead of watermelons.

  13. I will admit that sometimes I lack a full understanding of the intent and effect of many laws and regulations…but I yield to the rule of law. I have never had an issue with the Second Amendment; It is completely consistent with the concerns of a new nation established by armed force. Does the Amendment guarantee unrestricted access to firearms…apparently not. How many burps from a Thompson sub-machine gun have you heard lately? NONE, because machine guns were being used for untoward purposes by persons with anti-social agendas. In this generation, is there another weapon being consistently by persons with anti-social agendas?

    I hope to never use a weapon for self-preservation or to secure my family, but even then … unless I was facing a frothing crowd of the undead, what practical use would I have for a weapon with the capacity of the AR-15? This is a weapon that provides the facility for hitting multiple targets and killing lots of people. What loss or risk does any citizen suffer if the AR-15 and its ilk is no longer available?
    This is NOT a rhetorical question—

    1. I don’t follow guns terribly closely, but I understand the basic appeal of the AR-15 design is that it is easy to handle, reliable, and not very expensive.

      Fortunately, the Second Amendment does not make gun rights subject to the limitations of bilsez’s understanding and imagination, or other such sadly limited faculties.

      1. no response would be productive, but I will note that no one has addressed my question …

        1. Huh. I figured that counting was within your skill set, but apparently you cannot tell the difference between one and four. More reason to be glad that the Second Amendment isn’t limited to bilsez’s mental bounds.

        2. “no response would be productive”

          You pretend your original comment was productive, when all it did was show your deep ignorance on all topics relating to the 2A. It’s tedious to have to answer the questions you ask, since all gun grabbers ask the same questions ALL THE TIME. Those questions have been answered thousands of times a day for the last three or four decades, meaning the only person unproductive in this thread is you, who can’t even be bothered to read some of the tens of millions of words written over decades already written answering the very questions you ask.

      2. Maybe to add – the AR-15 type platform is ergonomic, accurate, easy to shoot (with relatively low felt recoil), and is highly modular. That latter is one of the big reasons for its popularity, and why it has evolved so effectively over the last almost 60 years. Think of the early years with PCs, where you could assemble a computer in your garage from parts. An AR-15 is even easier. It is a simple matter to change calibers, triggers, butt stocks, optics, etc. if you don’t like some aspect or part of the gun, you just switch it out, with parts that you can obtain over the Internet. Moreover, with millions of owners constantly tweaking their guns, the base firearm has become better at a faster rate than if it weren’t so modular. And acting as another accelerator to advancement, these guns share most of their parts with their military cousins, the select fire M-16 and M-4 carbine assault rifles, which have been in constant combat for more than 16 years now.

    2. ANY semi-automatic firearm can hit multiple targets. That’s why when you (or anyone else) is calling for a ban on AR15s, you’re really calling for a ban on all magazine loaded semi-automatics.

      1. The ban on magazine loaded weapons is being bandied about currently. I’m thinking its time to go buy a few more magazines.I have several for each already, but not enough to feel comfortable with breakage. For the worried nannies, I have many to reduce reload time at the range.

      2. My goodness, I simply expressed why personally, I felt no need or desire for an AR-15. Actually I never “called” for anything except a response to an honest question…that still no one has addressed. But now I have another question, “is it your contention that a .22 semi-auto rifle shooting a .22 long rifle round in a short mag somehow equates to the high velocity rounds pumped out by an AR-15?”…the former is good for killing rabbits for your pleasure, the latter is good for killing students.
        Well I suppose I do have another question: Is it necessary to be actual right wing in order to be a patriot?

        1. Because liberals are not loyal to America or the West.

        2. “I simply expressed why personally”

          You “simply expressed” your deep ignorance and hostility by first admitting you’re completely ignorant on the 2A, then demonstrating you’re completely ignorant of the 2A, then pretending you’re not the problem. You’re exactly what a concern troll looks like: aggressively ignorant, “simply express[ing]” opinions and asking questions, then pretending your aggressive ignorance isn’t the problem, but the responses you get to your aggressive ignorance.

    3. Semiautomatic firearms (pistol, rifle, & shotgun) have been produced by civilians for use by civilians since ~1905.

      As for capacity, there have been many police reports individuals (women, elderly, etc.) protecting themselves and others against multiple people and without the capacity of a semiautomatic, they would most likely be dead.

      I would also note that AR platform firearms are not much different than other semiautomatic firearms with the only difference being cosmetic appearance.

      Finally, I enjoy my AR rifle partly because it is what I used in the military so it is familiar. It is also easy to use, can have several different barrels for different calibers and usage. I mainly hunt with mine, using the .300AAC for deer and other larger game while using the .223/5.56 for coyotes and varmints. Others use various semiautomatic firearms for other hunting and competitions.

    4. “Does the Amendment guarantee unrestricted access to firearms…apparently not.”

      Only if you purposefully ignore “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.

      “NONE, because machine guns were being used for untoward purposes by persons with anti-social agendas.”

      The reason is the Thompson submachine gun isn’t a very good gun. Not because of some law.

      “what practical use would I have for a weapon with the capacity of the AR-15?”

      This is an inversion of rights, no different from expecting a defendant to prove his innocence, rather than the prosecutor have to prove guilt.

      Further, the AR-15’s “capacity” is a small caliber, lower power weapon.

      “What loss or risk does any citizen suffer if the AR-15 and its ilk is no longer available?”

      History is clear on this point: the disarmament of the people inevitably leads to tyranny and genocide.

      1. Wait until they find out that the AR-10 is much more powerful using standard .308/7.62×51 projectiles.


        Maybe then they’ll figure out that they are calling for a ban on ARs based on cosmetic appearance.

  14. So the theory here seems to be that if not for Obama the shooter would have been unable to buy a gun because he would have been arrested and given a criminal record for relatively common school disciplinary issues?

    Perhaps there are solutions that don’t involve inflating the US’s already ridiculously high prison population?

    1. To you, reducing a meaningless statistic is more important than confining a man who has hit people with chairs, pulled out a knife and threatened to murder everyone in the room, and also held a gun to a fellow student’s head and threatened to blow their brains out?

      The issues described are NOT “common school disciplinary issues”.

      1. To be fair to Aluchko; you don’t know where she/he went to school. Maybe all those actions were common events there. 🙂

      2. Serving a jail sentence has a drastic impact on a person, I don’t understand how you can write off the size of the US prison population as a “meaningless statistic”.

        Assume the basis of the article is correct, that it was their interpretation of Obama’s directive that kept Cruz out of prison. You don’t really know how many other kids were kept out of prison as a result, nor how many of those kids were diverted from a life of crime (and murder) because they got better assistance.

        And to read the original WP article yes, if he was arrested and ended up with a criminal record he probably wouldn’t have been able to get a gun. But it’s also true that he needed intensive counselling, many people knew he needed the counselling and tried to get it for him, but he didn’t receive it (or at least not as much as they felt he required).

        As for “common”, I mean that in the sense that large schools encounter extremely troubled kids on a fairly regular basis. To take Cruz from high school to prison means you’re taking a lot of other kids as well.

        1. “To take Cruz from high school to prison means you’re taking a lot of other kids as well.”

          Giving the other students a chance to learn in a more peaceful environment.

        2. And there we have the classic liberal vs. conservative view on punishment.

          Liberal: better that some guilty people go free so that no innocent is unjustly punished.

          Conservative: better that some innocents be punished so that no guilty person goes free.

          Of course, both are wrong, and both reflect other moral biases.

          1. Innocence wasn’t the reason school were pressured not to arrest students.

            It was because the raw racial statistics looked bad.

            (Although if you control for things like family structure and other nonracial causes, then the difference in crime among groups becomes much less – but the Obama administration wasn’t into evidence-based policymaking)

            I actually said nothing about it being good that innocent people be punished. Naturally, the more arrests the more mistaken arrests, and no arrests at all will guarantee no mistaken arrests. But again, the anti-arrest policy was based on the impact on the guilty as much as the impact on the innocent.

    2. It is “relatively common” to post on social media that your ambition is to become a school shooter as the Parkland slayer did?

      At a local high school in 2013, two students who said they were planning to out do the Columbine massacre by studying the mistakes made by the Columbine killers were reported by a concerned parent and mental health specialist and arrested.

      What is your alternate solution to identifying potential actors expressing motive and detaining or imprisoning them?

      Is it just a coincidence that we have a “ridiculously high prison population” and the lowest violent crime rate in twenty years?

      What is the solution? Turn society as a whole into a prison to free the prisoners to walk among us?

      1. More resources dedicated to counselling, mandatory if necessary.

        This kid had some counselling when younger, and it seemed to work, but he seems to have mostly lost it in high school and that’s when the problems really started to escalate, and once he left high school I don’t see any mention. If the counselling had continued he might have stayed more stable, or at least when he did become a threat someone might have been in a position to intervene.

        My solution is more resources spent trying to help problem kids and more obstacles to obtaining guns since not every dangerous person is easily detected.

        1. “More resources dedicated to counselling, mandatory if necessary.”

          If counseling is mandatory, that would suggest some kind of penalty for refusing counseling.

          What kind of penalty? Suspension? Prison?

        2. This shooter graduated from high school and was 19 years old. How long do people remain “kids” in your book? Which other rights are you going to revoke from young adults in your efforts to “try[] to help problem kids”?

      2. I know its a fantasy, but I wish we still had a societal option to impose banishment or exile. For those transgressors (or those showing strong signs they might become one) that have not committed crimes worthy of imprisonment, we can say “we think you pose a significant risk, we have no desire to watch you or ‘fix’ you, so be gone by sunset and never come back”.

    3. “Perhaps there are solutions that don’t involve inflating the US’s already ridiculously high prison population?”

      Sure are.

      Let non-violent drug offenders out of prison and expunge their records. Better yet, do this as part of legalization, regulation, and taxation of most drugs. That’d cut prison populations by around 50%, and leave plenty of room for violent offenders. It’d also give law enforcement a chance to reallocate money currently used for drug enforcement towards chasing folks who actually hurt others, and drug taxes could be used for rehab.

    4. “Perhaps there are solutions that don’t involve inflating the US’s already ridiculously high prison population?”

      I love examples of the Fox Butterfield Effect.

  15. Interesting article, but lack of proofreading makes it look amateurish.

  16. Per the FBI, in 2016, there were 357 homicides involving rifles (all types, not just ARs), 656 using hands and feet, 1604 using knives, and 1806 using other weapons such as blunt objects. The only identified weapon used in less homicides than rifles was shotguns, at 262.

    Guess scary trumps deadly for some people.

    1. We need to ban assault hands and feet, assault knives, and assault blunt objects!

  17. FBI UCR table 4 Murder Victims by weapon.

    Your general point is correct, but your numbers are off slightly

    For 2016

    Handguns 7,105
    Rifles 374
    Shotguns 262
    Other guns* 186
    Firearms, type not stated 3,077
    Knives or cutting instruments 1,604
    Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) 472
    Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) 656
    Poison 11
    Explosives 1
    Fire 107
    Narcotics 114
    Drowning 9
    Strangulation 98
    Asphyxiation 91
    Other weapons or weapons not stated 903

    *What the hell qualifies as a gun but is not a handgun, a rifle or a shotgun? Were 186 people murdered with cannons in 2016?

    1. Blowguns???
      Shoguns (with karate)???

    2. Hmm

      I used this table. It may be a preliminary one.

      Murder by State and type of weapon

    3. The Federal 1968 Gun Control Act regulates rifles, shotguns and handguns (Title I firearms).
      The Federal 1934 National Firearms Act (Title II of the federal firearms regulations) restricts firearms that do not fit the GCA definition of rifle, shotgun or handgun.

      I would presume the “Other guns” are mostly guns that are not Title I rifle, shotgun or handgun. Title II machinegun, sawed-off rifle, sawed-off shotgun, concealable weapon firing shotshells, etc.)
      That would also assume federal agencies (FBI, ATF) using consistent terminology.


      1. And we all know what happens when one AssUmes especially with the fed gov’t.

      2. They’re not. “Other guns” is probably “firearms, type not stated” reported in another way.

        I highly doubt it is NFA-defined AO or destructive devices.

    4. My money is on: Zip guns aka cheap, homemade guns.

      Although Flare guns might be a close second then perhaps Derringers.

      1. Forgot to mention Pellet Guns and BB Guns.

  18. Utter jabberwocky. Is David B. Kopel some non de plume for Wayne LaPierre? What in your litany of government and procedural failures constitutes an “assault weapon hoax?” You could have listed fifty other missed opportunities or law enforcement / government/ mental health system missteps along the way, but the key is very simply this: “He did the killing with a semiautomatic rifle, an AKM-56S.” In a civilized society such weapons do not exist in the general public. As such, a crazy person, regardless of how he or she was failed by societal conditions or institutions, can not commit a crime of this magnitude (see the new Chris Rock special on Netflix for a great breakdown of how a nut with a knife — because he can ONLY get a knife — can’t commit such an act). Systems breakdown and authority fails in many countries. The difference is in those countries the sad souls with the most violent tendencies simply can’t commit this level of atrocity for a glaringly obvious reason.

    1. It’s the first article in a multi part feature…says so right in the last paragraph or did you not make it that far because you’re too eager to spout your statist anti-2A nonsense?

      There are plenty of civilized societies that have semi-automatic rifles. Switzerland…avoided two world wars it’s so darned civilized. Israel, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Finland…I mean I could fill up this page with civilized societies that refute your delusions if you want.

      1. What does the it’s being part of a multi-part feature have to do with my comments? Later in the series he’s going to agree with me?

        This isn’t spouting anti-2a nonsense. The 2a was NEVER conceived of to protect zealots who want to buy something like an assault-style weapon.

        Go ahead. Please give me a comparison of how those countries mentioned have semi-automatic rifles available and distributed as we do. Please show me the similarities in how someone in, say, New Zealand, can buy the weapon that kid did they way he did. A 2-second Google search yields this:

        “Gun licenses are issued at the discretion of the police in New Zealand provided the police consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. To be issued, they must be issued for a valid reason, which may not include self defense. Several different categories of licenses are permitted, with the lowest one permitting access to restricted semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, with limited capacity, while the higher levels which permit fully automatic weaponry and pistols are rarely issued to civilians.”

        Yeah, sounds exactly like how it works here.

        1. ” The 2a was NEVER conceived of to protect zealots who want to buy something like an assault-style weapon.”

          Tench Coxe would not agree with you.

          1. It’s impossible to know that, given the historical context within which he lived and the fact that nothing approaching a modern “assault-style” weapon could even have been plausibly conceived of.

            1. “Every terrible implement of the soldier” would, one assumes, include standard battle rifles.

              1. “Standard battle rifles?” Again, what about the times in which he lived would even suggest the existence of the types of weapons available today? This is the same line of reasoning that Biblical or Koranic literalists use…that some things are timeless and should not be questioned regardless of the screaming fact that times have changed to the point of making the reputed “source of truth” not even remotely applicable. Coxe simply could not have conceived of the hell these weapons could unleash in the general population, just as we can’t issue a statement of principle now that someone 300 years in the future can claim is still universally applicable.

    2. “As such, a crazy person, regardless of how he or she was failed by societal conditions or institutions, can not commit a crime of this magnitude (see the new Chris Rock special on Netflix for a great breakdown of how a nut with a knife — because he can ONLY get a knife — can’t commit such an act).”

      This isn’t true.

      Mass Stabbings

      June 2017 London Bridge

      8 Dead, 48 injured using a van and knives.

      2014 Calgary, Canada

      On April 15, 2014, Matthew de Grood, son of Calgary Police Inspector Doug de Grood, stabbed five young adults to death at a house party in the Brentwood neighbourhood of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

      Ohio State University attack

      On November 28, 2016, a terrorist vehicle-ramming and stabbing attack occurred at 9:52 a.m. EST at Ohio State University (OSU)’s Watts Hall in Columbus, Ohio. The attacker, Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was shot and killed by the first responding OSU police officer, and 13 people were hospitalized for injuries.

      2016 Thane stabbing

      On 28 February 2016, a man in the Indian city of Thane fatally stabbed 14 members of his family before taking his own life.

      1. 5 stabbed to death. 13 hospitalized, 8 dead with a VAN and knives…plus a one-off involving family members in India. This only further proves my point. Of course there are “mass stabbings.” But comparing that list to a list of mass murders on a par with Columbine, Sandy Hook, Vegas, Florida, etc. is like comparing Little League home runs to MLB ones. It’s absurd. The scale of horror possible with an assault-style weapon is light-years ahead of what can be committed by knives. It’s ridiculous to have to point this out.

        1. “But comparing that list to a list of mass murders on a par with Columbine, Sandy Hook, Vegas, Florida, etc. is like comparing Little League home runs to MLB ones.”

          When talking about ‘best’ (cough!) mass murder modalities, you should probably discuss why mass murders involving arson have historically frequently had triple digit casualties.

          There may be reasons why recent mass killers seem to prefer shooting rather than arson. Perhaps their warped minds think it’s more fun to shoot people than to burn them; I can’t imagine what goes on in their heads. But they do seem to be competing for the highest body count. It’s at least possible that they pick guns because they are copycatting the previous mass murders that have been so prominently featured in the news, and the details of which they obsess on. I think you should at least address what happens if they change out guns for gasoline. It’s possible the death toll would be worse.

      2. 1) No one is saying that mass murder is impossible without a gun. But it should go without saying that mass murder is fundamentally easier with a machine specifically designed to kill people. Note that Indian mass stabbing was also a poisoning since he needed to sedate them first.

        2) Don’t discount the psychological aspect, mass murderers typically need to dehumanize their targets and stabbing is a very personal way to attack people. Vehicles dehumanize well but don’t have the same cultural appeal, which is why they’re popular for terrorist attacks (where casualties are the goal), but less so for killings sprees that are more psychologically driven.

        1. Your second point, in particular, is excellent. Far harder to think of people you are stabbing as target practice than people you’re shooting at from afar (I would think). I always wondered about those horrific ISIS beheadings. The guy has to get to that point you mention of total dehumanization of his victim to commit that kind of act. If his leader said, “Prop the guy against the wall and shoot him” it’s a whole different mindset.

          1. “Far harder to think of people you are stabbing as target practice than people you’re shooting at from afar (I would think).”

            True in general, but the problem with applying this to mass shootings is that most mass shootings happen up close and personal.

            1. Perhaps so, but it’s still a different thing, in a visceral sense, pulling a trigger vs. directly forcing a steel blade into someone’s flesh (or, in my particular example, literally using that blade to saw someone’s head off).

        2. 1. The single most effective tool for mass murder is not guns, but explosives.

          2. This argument would be much more convincing if the majority of mass shootings were long range sniper style attacks, but they aren’t. Most mass shootings happen at very close range.

          1. 1) Correct, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to buy a gun (and figure out how to use it) like those used in our country’s mass killings than it is to research, buy the necessary ingredients, and then hatch a plan to effectively use explosives. I could have a gun capable of killing dozens tomorrow if I wanted. In order to kill as many people with explosives I’d be Googling for days, sorting out where to buy stuff without getting on someone’s radar, figuring out how I was going to transport and plant the stuff, etc. Sure, with a great degree of knowledge plus unlimited time and planning you could pull off an Oklahoma City-type event with explosives. But I could arguably pull off a mass shooting tomorrow, without owning a gun now.

            2) Perhaps so, but again, as I said in response to another comment just above, that ignores the visceral difference of using a knife vs. using a gun at close range.

            1. ” that ignores the visceral difference of using a knife vs. using a gun at close range.”

              First you have to prove that such a difference exists, count me skeptical that it does. Most claims of a difference are very dependent on the gun user not being up close and personal.

            2. To buy a gun “tomorrow”, you’d have to undergo a background check.
              To get to a store to buy a gun, you’d drive in a vehicle (an effective weapon) filled with 15+ gallons of gasoline (an explosive).
              If you own a home, you already own all the ingredients needed for several different types of explosives or chemical weapons.
              If you have a garden at your home, you can upgrade to better explosives, and in significant quantities, too – 25 or 50lbs, easily.
              All without getting on a single list, undergoing a background check, or performing any “unusual” tasks.
              In case you were wondering, a 50lb ANFO/ANAL bomb has a likely kill distance of roughly 150 feet, and an “at-risk” distance of about 1500 feet.

              Your argument that you, personally, are too ignorant or lazy to pull off a bombing may say something about your danger level. But if all people were like you, then the US wouldn’t have much of a violence problem, would it?

              1. I did get a chuckle out of this, thanks. Your claim that virtually anything can be a weapon is comical, for starters. Yes, a car could be a weapon. So could my nail clippers. This is typical guns-hugging nonsense (i.e., since anything can be a “weapon” guns can’t be part of the problem). Funny how that asshole in Florida didn’t choose a car (or a knife, or a baseball bat, or a chainsaw…) to kill all those people.

                While it may be true that you can buy the necessary elements to create a large-scale explosive device, you’re completely glossing over what is necessary to pull off an attack. You’d like to claim that along with milk and cereal I can also pick up my bomb-making ingredients at Safeway, but that simply isn’t the case (and, you know that). Why do the IED attempts we do see in the US fail so often? It isn’t because everyone who tries and fails is a total moron. It’s because much more is entailed in planning and executing an actual attack than you pretend. There is absolutely “unusual” risk involved, otherwise the success rate would be far higher. There are tons or reasons why that same kid trying to pull off the same death tally with an explosive device might have failed. You think maybe that’s why he chose the far easier route? Nothing about saying so makes me ignorant or lazy, but one might argue that a largely ad hominem attack does possibly make you so.

        3. 1) No one is saying that mass murder is impossible without a gun.

          Did you read the comment you were responding to? Because he was quoting someone making that exact claim

        4. 31+
          Multiple attackers

          Lone knifeman

    3. Hmm, maybe in a civilzed society, crazy people do not exist.

      And to paraphrase:

      Ask not how your country can fail you, ask how you can fail your country.

    4. “In a civilized society such weapons do not exist in the general public.”

      False. ONLY civilized societies have a citizenry as well armed as government employees. Only jackbooted thugs want to disarm the populace.

      “As such, a crazy person, regardless of how he or she was failed by societal conditions or institutions, can not commit a crime of this magnitude”

      Mohamed Atta, Timothy McVeigh, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, and hundreds of others demonstrate your deep ignorance on violence, much less guns.

      “The difference is in those countries the sad souls with the most violent tendencies simply can’t commit this level of atrocity for a glaringly obvious reason.”

      Except, other European countries HIGHER rates of mass shootings and mass shooting deaths than the US.

    5. Assault weapon is a made up term based on the cosmetic appearance of a firearm. IOW one big hoax to fool people like you, who have no knowledge of firearms.

  19. The minute I saw the word hoax I knew this was a confirmation bias, special interest piece. Who says there are not more than one issue contributing to mass shooting including lax gun laws? And SCOTUS decisions only said that the “prelate” clause in 2A does not indicate types of weapons that should be regulated, but it still establishes that the 2A is not hostile to regulations. The ubiquitousness of and ease of access of mass-murdering weapons is part of the debate for solutions to frequent public massacres. This can’t be legitimately denied. The gun situation is naturally a necessary part of the debate as they contribute to conditions that are conducive to these massacres. The inflamed rhetoric from the NRA is going to have blowback given the frequency of the mass shootings.

    1. “Who says there are not more than one issue contributing to mass shooting including lax gun laws.”

      How about the fact that there are plenty of mass murders committed without guns.

      How many guns were involved in the 9/ll attack? Answer 0.

      The Oklahoma City bombing attack on the federal courthouse? 0

    2. Who says there are not more than one issue contributing to mass shooting including lax gun laws?

      I give up. Who?

    3. “Who says there are not more than one issue contributing to mass shooting including lax gun laws?”

      Any who imply “lax gun laws” contribute “to mass shooting[s]” clearly perpetrate a hoax. Mass gun shootings typically take place in areas with strict prohibition on guns, i.e., stricter gun control contributes to mass shootings.

      “The ubiquitousness of and ease of access of mass-murdering weapons is part of the debate for solutions to frequent public massacres. This can’t be legitimately denied.”

      Your use of “mass-murdering weapons” demonstrates your unhinged bias against the tool having done the most to REDUCE violence: guns. The rise of the gun over the centuries has corresponded with the decline in violence, as you would expect, since guns give even the weakest among us the power to properly fight off the most power predators among us.

      Further, it needs to be EASIER for law abiding citizens to have access to weapons to counter and stop the violence of people like Cruz.

      “The inflamed rhetoric from the NRA is going to have blowback given the frequency of the mass shootings.”

      As recent events have shown, it is YOUR “inflamed rhetoric” that has blown back on gun grabbers.

    4. Nice try, but “winter will not wait”, There are some people that will not be redeemed, and some subjects not open to reason. The “Common Good” is not a concept that is tolerated by people consumed with their own world views. Bullies, one and all.

  20. You can’t assault anyone with kindness, that’s what I always say.

    1. I know a few people who can make it seem like an assault. 🙂

    2. You should look up the phrase “tyranny with a smile”. Aldous Huxley penned an excellent book demonstrating the tyrannical evil of assaulting people with kindness.

  21. It’s such a repeating modus operandi you start to get the feeling that gun grabbers are deliberately turning a blind eye to potential mass killers to use these tragedies to promote a 2A ban.

    1. I have resisted replying to this post, which interests me greatly, except for a couple of minor technical notes. I am compelled to reply to this because it hasn’t been addressed here other than your comment. I confess I was stunned, at first, of course, by the recent tragic event in Florida, but also immediately after, at the incredibly rapid response on the part of CNN, and the unison of voices condemning the NRA and calling for weapons bans.

      It gave me the distinct impression that the response was prepared in advance. It is the first such event where there were almost immediate accusations that the response was scripted, indeed, that interviewees and town hall participants were working from scripts.

      Equally stunning was the near universal tack the major media outlets took in ignoring the root cause of this tragedy, which was that a young man who was well know among classmates, faculty, administration, and local, state, and federal law enforcement as being a threat, including making this specific threat to shoot up his school, on multiple occasions, and instead blamed the NRA, and assault weapons. Never before has there been such an immediate and universal condemnation of the NRA in so strident terms. Where did this come from?

      (to be continued)

      1. (continued)
        Knowing the long-term, pervasive, culture of corruption of the FBI*, I would not put it past them, in pursuing their clear bias towards progressive, liberal, democratic policies, including disarmament of the populace, of having intentionally ignored the threat, and stood by, waiting for it to occur. Likewise, I would not doubt that CNN was prepared for the next large scale school shooting, with crews, talking points, scripts, and so on, ready to go.

        It is not hard to imagine a conspiracy involving the FBI and the media to forward the confiscation agenda.

        But conspiracy theories aside, what are the answers to these questions:
        – why did the FBI not act?
        – why was Cruz never arrested – never! – despite felonies (threatening to kill someone, among others);
        – how did the universal, strident condemnation of the NRA come about?
        – why was CNN apparently so well prepared for this?

        * To start: But don’t forget characters like John Connolly: “John Joseph Connolly Jr. (born August 1, 1940)[1] is a former FBI agent who was convicted of racketeering, obstruction of justice and murder charges stemming from his relationship with James “Whitey” Bulger, Steve Flemmi, and the Winter Hill Gang.”

  22. I know that AR-15 sales tend to explode after mass shootings, with the anticipation that the government will ban them again, but I haven’t found any statistics regarding sales before the 1989 shooting.

    I know that AR-15s are now among the most popular models, but I don’t remember that being the case before 1989. I’d love to see some quantification for the relationship between the attempt to ban them and their rise in popularity.

    Before 1989, I remember the gun control debate being centered on handguns. You need a permit to carry a handgun because people walking the streets with one was once considered so dangerous. How ironic if the proliferation of AR-15s since then is a direct result of gun control advocates trying to ban them.

    1. I think that is a bit overboard. Some of it was in reaction to the AWB. But the more recent boom in AR-15 type sales is because, overall, they have evolved to be significantly better than other types of rifles and carbines. Part of it is their modularity, with an extensive after market of parts of all types, ranging from barrels, through butt stocks, shrouds, triggers, optics, etc. You have hundreds, if not thousands, of companies building parts. If they are good, they are copied and improved upon, and if not, they fall rapidly by the wayside. Why are they built from composites instead of wood? Because the composites are stronger, lighter, and more durable. Why do they often have adjustable stocks? So that they can be individually adjusted to different people (almost impossible with wood stocks). Why do they have a pistol grip, and sometimes a front grip? Why do electric drills have the same? The better name is “modern sporting rifles”, because they incorporate 60+ years improvements over the firearms left legal after Clinton’s AWB.

      1. Not to mention that the parts (other than the magazines and action of course) are compatible with different calibers. It’s convenient that I can use my Magpul handguard on an AR15 or an AR10, as an example.

        1. Even some magazines can be used for different rounds. The same mags can be used for .223, 5.56, & .300AAC. All I have to do is change uppers and I can shoot varmints or deer, etc.

      2. “Some of it was in reaction to the AWB. But the more recent boom in AR-15 type sales is because, overall, they have evolved to be significantly better than other types of rifles and carbines.”

        AR-15s aren’t especially good at any of the things people usually buy guns to do.

        They can’t be carried concealed.

        Shotguns and semi-automatic pistols are better in close quarters, say, in a home defense situation with an intruder.

        They aren’t especially good for hunting anything either.

        They’re good for outdoor recreational shooting I suppose–not that there are a lot of those in urban America where you can shoot them.

        Mostly, I think people buy AR-15s for the same reason they root for the Raiders, raise pit bulls, and listen to Metal. It’s because they think it’s badass.

  23. Interesting perspective. It would be nice if the post underwent a review to clean up the distracting typos and other errors.

  24. Nullify any unconstitutional incursions into your inalienable rights. Period. No matter what part of the World you live in, you have those same rights. Arm yourself no matter what and speak up. Don’t go to your grave as pathetic sheep all your life. Be free or be cattle.

    1. Nullification doesn’t have a great history.

      Contempt for everyone who doesn’t own a gun is going to alienate a lot of supporters of gun rights.

      1. Contempt for everyone who owns a gun already alienates a lot of supporters of gun rights.

  25. The reason that the Obama Administration is being slammed with some culpability here in the Cruz shootings is that their policy, designed to reduce incarceration rates for minorities (esp Blacks) essentially gave school districts financial incentives to reduce crime rates in schools. The idea was that baybe if kids weren’t going to jail for petty stuff that they did in school, then they would less likely have a record, get into the system, and, hopefully, avoid spending part of their lives in prison later. Definitely a noble goal. The problem, it seems, is that school districts like Broward County (and Miami-Dade) ended up continuing to drop the standards for arrest to keep their statistics improving, and the money continuing to flow in. The result was, apparently, that they started by ignoring minor misdemeanors, then major ones, and then minor felonies. The relevance here is that Cruz should have been arrested for felonies on multiple occasions, and those arrests would have prevented him from legally purchasing the firearms he purchased (or at least his AR-15 – a handgun would still have been illegal for him to purchase from anyone). Notably, he should also have been prevented because of his mental health, but this country has become weak in that area, and the Broward County Sherriff’s Dept failed there too, despite several score warnings.

    1. And that gets to the conservative side of background checks – GIGO. You need accurate records first, before expanding the requirements for background checks, because the only people who would be affected with expanded background checks, and faulty records, are the law abiding citizenry who would follow the law. In short, after one of these mass shootings M don’t bring us solutions that wouldn’t have affected the outcome, but rather address the failures and shortcomings that could have prevented it, such as, here, with Cruz, charging him with felonies, when caught having committed such and address the inability to address the mental health issues.

      1. Exactly. When the left’s proposals are never to improve the NICS checks, but to instead expand those same failed NICS checks to private sales, they’re going to lose most conservatives. Also, if they really wanted to use universal background checks, they’d allow ordinary people to access the system for free by phone or Internet. The fact that they won’t (the Democrats blocked that proposal) shows that their goal is to inconvenience and add expense to the private sale process.

        1. Even though I don’t have access to NICS; I still get a photocopy of a drivers license and fill out 2 signed copies of a Bill of Sale for each firearm that I sell or buy.

  26. The argument here strikes me as very weak, perhaps one that might persuade the choir, but not one for a skeptical academic community. Professor Kopel has looked at cases where a shooter with automatic weapons caused a large number of deaths, and found in each case there was a law enforcement failure. Blame law enforcement, he says.

    He ignores two obvious possibilities.

    1. What was the death toll in cases when a shooter had manual weapons and there was a law enforcement failure? The fact was a failure doesn’t make the failure the only cause.

    2. What caused the law enforcement failure? We’re the officers afraid of the automatic weapons?

    Indeed a perfectly reasonable alternative conclusion from Professor Kopel’s data is that automatic weapons cause law enforcement failures. Professor Kopel provides no basis to prefer his conclusion to the alternative one.

    1. Excellent comment.

      “Everything but the gun was responsible,” says Kopel, washing the blood off his hands.

        1. The blood of victims of NRA madness.

          And he’s not the only one around here.

          1. How many black people do you want to lock up just so you can feel safe?



      1. The primary law enforcement failures discussed are the failures of law enforcement to enforce existing laws, prior to the start of the shootings. How could that possibly be caused by their fear of “automatic” weapons?

        1. Professor Kopel’s argument is similarly retrospective. He is cherry-picking particular cases rather than claiming to give a representative sample. Future dangerousness is notoriously hard to predict, and predictions have high false positive and false negative rates. Professor Kopel is implicitly claiming to have a method which can do better. For this to be credible, we would need to apply his method prospectively, let him predict people’s future dangerousness, and then see if he does better than the others.

          1. What does that have to do with the failure being caused by a fear of “automatic” weapons?

    2. “Indeed a perfectly reasonable alternative conclusion from Professor Kopel’s data is that automatic weapons cause law enforcement failures.”

      Professor Kopel’s doesn’t discuss any events involving automatic weapons.

    3. First off, what is a “manual weapon”? It’s a nonsensical phrase showing your deep ignorance of weapons.

      Second, the average number of deaths of a mass shooting where someone carries is 2.5. The average number of deaths of a mass shooting where people wait for the police is 14. Why don’t you already know this? Why do you take aggressive steps to remain ignorant on this point?

      “What caused the law enforcement failure? We’re the officers afraid of the automatic weapons?”

      No automatic weapons were used in Parkland, nor in the 1989 shooting mentioned in this article. Also, police officers job is to overcome their fear of violent criminals and protect others. Officers being too afraid to countenance violent criminals is one of the strongest arguments for private gun ownership: if government won’t protect people, then the people must protect themselves. To say government employees unwillingness to protect citizens necessitates citizens being stripped of their rights to defend themselves is not just illogical, but evil.

      1. I suppose if one has no reply to people’s logic one is reduced to attacking their vocabulary. I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen people who strongly feel I’m wrong but have no earthly idea how to make out a case on the substance why point out a typo in my post and claim that anybody who makes a typo like that can’t possibly know what she’s talking about.

        Your second argument is an independent policy argument separate from Professor Kopel’s. I’m going to sidestep it. I’m limiting my feedback to professor Kopel’s specific argument, basically saying that he needs to make an argument that’s more rigorous and the one he posted has weaknesses making it unlikely to be accepted. The reference to the other side’s argument as a “hoax” likely won’t help convince anyone on the other side either. My feedback is on his argument, not the policy. I’m not denying the possibility that he might be able to make a better one.

        1. “I suppose if one has no reply to people’s logic one is reduced to attacking their vocabulary. ”

          This is a legal blog. If you can’t define what you want to stop, you shouldn’t be talking.

        2. There is no such thing as a “manual weapon. That is more like the made up term “assault weapon” or “military-style” mainly based on the cosmetic appearance of a firearm. There is also a large difference between semiautomatic and automatic. Therein lies the “hoax, attempting to redefine and/or make up terms then using said male bovine excrement to call for banning the scary firearms.

          Automatic firearms are highly restricted by the federal government. Semiautomatic firearms have been produced by civilians for use by civilians since ~1905 and compose over 50% of firearms owned by US civilians. It was decades before the federal government authorized the use of semiautomatic for military use. This same pattern was followed with the AR-15 (AR = ArmaLite Rifle) being produced by civilians for use by civilians with the government coming later and requesting an automatic version for the military, the M-16.

    4. “1. What was the death toll in cases when a shooter had manual weapons”

      the death toll. We haven’t seen a lot of cases of mass murder by drone and cannon and such

      1. Although the UK had several mass murder incidents in 2017, none of which used firearms yet had higher number of deaths and injured per event using bladed weapons and explosives. I wonder if Reader Y considers explosives and bladed weapons to be manual weapons?

  27. So this shooter was a convicted felon. It would be have been illegal under state law for him to possess a firearm (even if it was manufactured in-state).

  28. For the love of God please someone proofread this article!

  29. “The Stockton perpetrator, had whose name I won’t repeat”

    Only an asshole virtue signaller, poor journalist, and no integrity person writes something like the above. An honest journalist with integrity would have had the balls to type Patrick Purdy.

    “Aryan Nations, a racist and anti-Jewish organization.”

    Not even remotely true. The AB is nominally a “a racist and anti-Jewish organization”, the same as ALL OTHER CRIMINAL GANGS, but in actually just another violent gang using violence for profit, the same as all other criminal gangs.

    The article doesn’t do much in the way of demonstrating any “assault weapons hoax” despite, there being plenty of evidence for such. Kopel, true to his low character, virtue signals throughout, creating other false narratives, while failing to demonstrate, much less debunk another false narrative. Kopel is as shitty a “journalist” as the one he’s attempting to criticize.

    1. “Only an asshole virtue signaller, poor journalist, and no integrity person writes something like the above.”
      Actually, journalists have long known that by splashing the names of people on the front pages, they can increase the rate of imitation behaviors. It’s why suicides – especially teenage suicides – are almost never reported in the front of papers, and rarely feature pictures.
      Famous shootings like Columbine have been cited as inspiration for many shooters since then, and the signs show that Cruz was also inspired by Klebold and Harris.
      Now in an article like this, referring back to an event 30 years ago, that’s not really a factor… but there are plenty of occasions where a responsible journalist will avoid naming a criminal deliberately, with good cause.

      1. “Actually, journalists have long known that by splashing the names of people on the front pages, they can increase the rate of imitation behaviors.”

        An unsubstantiated assertion rationalizing poor journalism, particularly since names have been splashed across front pages for decades and mass shooting rates and mass shooting death rates have DECLINED. You’ve merely been tricked by the 24 hour news cycle, desperate to shock audience with the worst news. You’ve fallen victim to the idea the massive increase in news references to mass shootings means the rate of mass shootings have occurred.

        1. “unsubstantiated assertion”


          American Psychological Association (news release)
          ditto (the actual article)

          This is important. Some people assume that gun cosmetics must be the only explanation for mass killings, but the 24 hour news phenomenon has arisen in the same time frame that rifles have gotten plastic stocks. There is a lot of evidence that shooters carefully study previous incidents, and want the notoriety that comes with a large number of casualties. Figuring out how to deprive them of the attention they seek has the advantage of discouraging all methods of mass killing – guns, arson, explosives, or anything else.

          1. Thank you, Absaroka, for posting the links to the articles.

            I should have posted some myself, but I’m afraid I quit after unable to find any articles on the original “contagious suicide” studies from the 80s and 90s. All I could find were help pamphlets, like this one:
            Reporting on Suicide guidelines

            1. I recall studies on suicide contagion as well. Here is a news story citing studies of the increase in suicides after one prominent celebrity suicide:

              CNN Story

     guidelines: “Reports of suicide should not be repetitive, as prolonged exposure can increase the likelihood of suicide contagion.”

              HHS page

  30. I have thought for years this guy was a “Mafia Message” to the Chinese gun industry. Just before this incident, Norinco was preparing to flood the US market with civilian guns, cheap, this alarmed, among others, William Batterman Ruger, who, I think called his Yalie Bud, GHW Bush and something was done to stop the coming end of domestic civilian gun manufacture. Because of the middle of night, Bush cabinet gun ban, the US gun makers got a reprieve. Keep in mind that the US DOD does not want to kill US gun production, for obvious reasons, so the Chinese move was seen as an attack on the US Defense industry, which had to be stopped in any way possible..I lived in CT at the time, and had to put up with endless whining about Chinese guns from the companies then located there…The military guns were not so much the problem, except to Ruger, who could not monopolize the market with his Mini 14, as long as cheaper and better guns were imported and sold by Chinese companies..There is more to this story, including the connection between Josh Sugarman and Ruger and the reason for the invention of the whole “Assault Weapon” meme, it had to do with Ruger’s insurance exposure and law suits against his company…..

    1. I can find no indication that Bill Ruger ever went to Yale. Alex Sturm did, but he was well out of the picture by GHW Bush’s term, having died in 1951.

  31. While I am certainly open, personally, to the possibility that there might be better ways to curb mass gun violence short of outright gun bans, it is hard for me to believe that David’s suggestion of alternative approaches is being offered in anything like good faith. When so many of the implied “fixes” cut against longstanding conservative and libertarian policy, it looks like your true aim is less fixing the problem than it is dividing the consensus to fix it.

    For instance, it is hard to see how these early opportunities to intervene could have been capitalized upon without a more robust social services regime and more professionalized support services in our prisons and jails. The prosecutorial lapses you cite seem to have been the product of the more-or-less standard approach of overcharging defendants in order to reach plea deals with a minimum of effort or trial time (itself a product of an underfunded criminal justice system). Bizarrely, you blame Obama’s attempt to correct the school-to-prison pipeline system – without acknowledging that the perverse incentives at work are themselves the result of the federal government’s limited powers.

    So, in the end, you criticize gun control while effectively conceding what the big-government statists have been saying all along.

    1. So, looking just at the Stockton one we see:
      -Before he turned 18, he had been arrested 10 times.
      -As an adult, he continued to accumulate multiple arrests…
      -… being an accomplice to the armed robbery of a gas station, and possession of illegal weapons
      -His felony arrests turned into misdemeanors…
      -he was arrested while drunk and firing a pistol…
      -resisting arrest, he assaulted a law enforcement officer and kicked out the back window of the police cruiser.
      -he twice attempted suicide in jail…

      None of that apparently actually generated a felony conviction – even one with a suspended sentence – that would have caused him to fail a NICS check. If we were looking for someone who is low hanging fruit in a ‘shouldn’t have a gun’ contest, don’t you think he would qualify?

      And yet you find no fault with the process that, in the face of all that, didn’t manage to disqualify him from firearms ownership? Nothing to see here, just move along?

      You saw the ‘possession of illegal weapons’ part? You favor gun control, but don’t want people convicted for possessing illegal ones?

      (FWIW I’m pretty sure neither libertarians nor conservatives object to felony convictions for armed robbery)

      1. I see a lot wrong with that process.

        1. Always looking for a point of agreement … we need to filter through a bunch of remedies to find a reasonable solution.

  32. I guess we’re just going to have to live with the “there’s no such thing as an assault weapon” pedantry.

    1. There’s not. It’s not pedantry, unless you’re an ignorant liberal.

      1. just asking, is there any knowledgeable liberal?… if not, your “ignorant” characterization is really over the top.

    2. Might I refer you to the section headed ‘Gun Terminology Matters’ in Ken White’s essay?

      The verbal precision really does matter. Here is Bloomberg’s Shannon Watts talking about a gun she doesn’t like:

      Tweet about a bolt action 22 rimfire

      That’s right – she’s on the warpath over a bolt action 22 rimfire – arguably the single type of gun, among all guns, with the least potential for misuse. When I see that, I’m not sure if:
      A)she is simply so clueless she doesn’t know what she’s looking at
      B)she thinks that pure cosmetics really do matter more than function
      C)she let slip that she really does want to go after even bolt action 22 rifles

      If you want agreement to restrict something, is it too much to ask that you:
      A)specify with some precision what you want to restrict (if you don’t, after all, you’ll have void for vageness problems)
      B)specify how the criteria specified are useful for your intended purpose (for example, what’s the objection to adjustable stocks?)

      1. Oops, managed to mangle the Popehat link, take 2:

        Talking Productively About Guns

      2. No, because I allow that the way people speak of something is not how it translates into legislation. When speaking colloquially, everybody knows exactly to what is being referred when the term “assault weapon” or “assault rifle” is used in this context. Even the dipshits who reflexively protest its use. And while there’s no guarantee, of course, actual legislation ? especially in regards to any laws on gun control, which would be parsed to the letter ? would specify what is being restricted, regulated, etcetera.

        Are you aware there is, in fact, no such law called “Obamacare”? Despite the early bristling at the moniker by Obama supporters, it’s pretty much commonly accepted that Obamacare is the ACA without the constant need to tell people that Obamacare doesn’t mean anything and that the people using it don’t know what they’re talking about.

        1. “When speaking colloquially, everybody knows exactly to what is being referred when the term “assault weapon” or “assault rifle” is used in this context.”

          No, everybody doesn’t know that *at all*. Look at the Shannon Watts tweet. Does that bolt action 22 meet her definition? Beats me.

          Even the state to state laws don’t have the same definition – legal in California doesn’t mean legal in California. When you say ‘assault weapon’, which definition are you using? ‘Clear in your head’ != ‘clear in everyone else’s head’.

          For example, there is broad support for first trimester abortions, and not much support for third trimester ones (aside from health of the mother, etc). Will you vote for my proposed ban on ‘Bad Abortions’? I bet that before you’d support that, you’d want to know how I’m defining ‘Bad Abortions’. You’re not going to accept my handwaving that I’m only trying to ban the bad ones, and that everyone knows what that means.

          Well, that’s exactly how I feel about your ban on ‘Bad Guns’. If you want support from the third-plus of the country that are gun owners, you really will have to specify, and justify, the particulars of what you want to ban.

          1. I’ve never said a single word about anything called a “bad gun”.

            1. I believe Absaroka was using single quotes around Bad Guns not indicate that you used the term, but to indicate irony; therefore, “scare quotes.”

              from wikipedia:
              Scare quotes (also called shudder quotes,[1][2] sneer quotes,[3] and quibble marks) are quotation marks a writer places around a word or phrase to signal that they are using it in a non-standard, ironic, or otherwise special sense.[4] Scare quotes may express that the author is using someone else’s term, similar to preceding a phrase with the expression “so-called”;[5] they may imply skepticism or disagreement, belief that the words are misused, or that the writer intends a meaning opposite to the words enclosed in quotes.[6]

              1. Thanks, Publius. I din’t understand what Otis was getting at.

                For the record, ‘Bad Guns’ wasn’t a quote from Otis, nor was it ironic scare quotes. ‘Bad Guns’ was following ‘Bad Abortions’; in both cases I was using them to delineate a term of art. This was following Otis’s usage where he puts quotes around “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” in his original comment, quoted at the start of my comment.

        2. “Are you aware there is, in fact, no such law called “Obamacare”? Despite the early bristling at the moniker by Obama supporters, it’s pretty much commonly accepted that Obamacare is the ACA without the constant need to tell people that Obamacare doesn’t mean anything and that the people using it don’t know what they’re talking about.”

          That’s because Obamacare refers to one single clearly defined and designated law, not some nebulous collection of characteristics that many advocates are laughably inept at describing. Some supporters of the “assault weapon” ban, for example, have claimed that these guns can fire hundreds of rounds in a second. Sounds pretty scary, but it’s totally divorced from reality. I bet you could get many people who generally oppose gun control legislation to agree to an “assault weapons” ban that only applied to guns with that type of firing capacity, because you would barely be changing the existing law.

          The “assault weapons” ban is much more like the controversy over death panels within the broader Obamacare debate, where details matter.

  33. The “assault weapon” hoax actually started in 1988, a year before the Stockton shooting, when disarmist Josh Sugarmann wrote a report in which he noted that, while the media had grown tired of the effort to ban handguns, the subject of even deadlier “assault weapons” would have a novel appeal to them.

    He wrote, “The [semi-automatic] weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons ? anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun ? can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” ~ “Assault Weapons and Accessories in America,” Violence Policy Center (

    The Stockton shooting was simply the disarmists’ first real opportunity to implement Sugarmann’s strategy.

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