Gun Control

The Million Mom March: Mass Mobilization Against Guns

In 2000, the Million Mom March brought hundreds of thousands of people together to demonstrate against guns.


On Mother's Day 2000, record-setting demonstrations for gun control were held in Washington, D.C., and in 73 other cities. Organized by the "Million Mom March," these demonstrations were hailed by much of the media at the decisive turning point in the political battle over gun ownership. This article takes a look at the history of the march, and some of the similarities and differences from 2018 anti-gun rallies.

The founder

After growing up in Louisiana and graduating from Louisiana State University with a major in journalism, Donna Dees-Thomases began her career as a local television news reporter. Then she moved to Washington, as a staffer first for Democratic Sen. Bennett Johnston, then with Sen. Russell Long, both of Louisiana. Her autobiography makes no mention of her having any opinion on the gun control issues that those senators addressed during her time with them. (Her autobiography is Donna Dees-Thomases & Alison Hendrie, Looking for a Few Good Moms: How One Mother Rallied a Million Others Against the Gun Lobby (Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale, 2004).) After that, she became the publicist for CBS News anchor Dan Rather. By 1999, she had transitioned to a one-day-per-week job as a publicist for David Letterman, living in suburban New Jersey and devoting most of her attention to her two young children, as well as older children from a previous marriage of her husband.

On August 7, 1999, a racist, mentally ill man loaded seven guns into his car in order to attack Jews in Los Angeles. He went to the Skirball Cultural Center, then to American Jewish University, and finally to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance. As he scouted each location, he realized that all of them had armed security, so he did not attack.

On August 10, he found an undefended target: North Valley Jewish Community Center. He opened fire on the playground, fired 70 shots, wounding one adult and three children. After fleeing, he murdered a mailman. Eventually, he was apprehended in Las Vegas. To avoid the death penalty, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

Back in New Jersey, Mrs. Dees-Thomases watched the coverage of the attack with horror. Her husband and in-laws were Jewish, and her children attended a Jewish Community Center nursery school. She started reading about gun control and tried to reach out the leading anti-gun lobby of the time (Handgun Control, Inc., now known as the Brady Campaign), but without much response. So she decided to take the reins herself, and applied for a permit to hold a demonstration in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2000—Mother's Day.

She noticed an article in the New York Post about the controversy of a permit for a "Million Youth March," in New York City. The 1999 march was a follow-up to a 1998 event of the same name, organized by Khalid Abdul Muhammad. A notorious racist, anti-Semite, and hater of homosexuals, he had been expelled from the Nation of Islam and censured by both houses of the U.S. Congress. The 1998 rally had turned into a melee between the 6,000 demonstrators and the police, with Muhammad exhorting the crowd to take the officers' guns and kill them. Mayor Giuliani said that the Million Youth March was "filled with hatred, horrible, awful, vicious, anti-Semitic and other anti-white rhetoric, as well as exhortations to kill people, murder people."

As Dees-Thomases read about the planned 1999 Million Youth March, "I realized that this 'Million March' brand had built-in news value. So I decided to borrow the name" (p. 11).

This was a controversial borrowing. It reminded many people of the "Million Man March" that Louis Farrakhan had organized on the National Mall in D.C. in 1995. Indeed, the name for Muhammad's "Million Youth March" seemed to be derived from Farrakhan's "Million Man March." Dees-Thomases was surprised that people thought her similarly-named march might "echo or condone the alleged anti-Semitic stance of Louis Farrakhan, the founder of the Million Man March." She felt that "adopting this name was akin to 'turning the other cheek'" (p. 66).

It is not clear why Dees-Thomases called Farrakhan's anti-Semitism "alleged."

Beginning to organize

Mrs. Dees-Thomases called her sister-in-law, Susan Thomases, for advice. Mrs. Thomases was a longtime friend and political advisor of Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Thomases told her sister-in-law to hire a good lawyer and a good accountant, and recommended an individual for the job of event planner. According to Mrs. Dees-Thomases, that was the only help she ever solicited or received from Mrs. Thomases (p. 13).

Mrs. Dees-Thomases used her publicity skills and network of media contacts to garner media attention, and that helped lead to the formation of some local chapters of the Million Mom March. But she was still paying most of the expenses herself, feeling overwhelmed—and also undersupported by the established gun control groups.

Part of the problem was that the older groups were not interested in letting a newcomer horn in on two new lucrative sources of funding. First, there was the Bell Campaign, a new gun control group in San Francisco. It had four million dollars from the Richard and Rhonda Goldman Foundation. Second, there was a $10 million fund that had been established by George Soros and Irene Diamond to promote gun control.

At an October event in Tulsa, Mrs. Dees-Thomases met Mary Leigh Blek, president of the Bell Campaign. A little while later, she managed to meet with Rebecca Peters, who was in charge of the Soros-Diamond money.

An Australian, Peters had helped lead the successful campaign for gun confiscation in Australia. The confiscation program had been long-planned and was rolled out immediately after a mass shooting in which 35 people were murdered. New laws prohibited gun ownership for self-defense and confiscated about 20–25 percent of Australian firearms—including semiautomatic and pump action long guns, plus handguns over .38 caliber. The confiscation was facilitated by comprehensive gun registration laws, which had existed in some Australian states for decades and in others for only a few years. Later, in 2002, Peters would become head of an international gun prohibition lobby, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). It advocated for outlawing defensive gun ownership, banning all handguns, and banning any rifle that can shoot 100 meters (that is, almost all of them).

Peters was impressed with what Dees-Thomases had done so far. Eight weeks after Dees-Thomases had invented the MMM, it received a Bell $100,000 starting grant (which later grew to $300,000), plus access to the Peters/Soros/et al. fundraising network.

Even so, the MMM was still on shaky ground. The Violence Policy Center refused any cooperation, labeling MMM and other groups "enablers" because they refused to publicly endorse VPC's demand to ban all handguns. Worse, the biggest of the gun control groups, Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), was worried that the MMM wouldn't attract a big enough crowd in D.C., and the media would portray the event as a failure for gun control advocates.

Dees-Thomases disagreed: "The Million Mom March was something that the media would love. In fact, they were already loving it" (p. 82). She was absolutely right, but the rest of the gun control movement remained skeptical. Peters warned that Bell might have to pull its funding.

In despair in December 1999, Dees-Thomases asked God for a sign that she should keep at it. The next day, the National PTA announced that it was endorsing the MMM. That was the sign she needed, and it was also the sign that her funders needed.

Peters became "our MMM fairy godmother." Peters made it clear to the older gun control groups that "if each group shared their resources with the Million Mom March, there would be a nice Soros-Diamond treat for everybody at the end of the day, in the form of a grant" (p. 114). Andrew McKelvey, the CEO of and a board member of HCI, would eventually pay for about a third of the cost of the D.C. march (pp. 145–46).

Bell took over organizing all the marches outside of D.C., leaving Dees-Thomases free to concentrate on the main event at the National Mall (p. 136).

The difference between 1999 and 2018 could not be starker. It took Mrs. Dees-Thomases five months of work—from August to December—before she finally got full buy-in from the gun control groups, their allies (starting with National PTA), and their wealthy funders. In contrast, it took only a few hours for the anti-gun students from Parkland, Florida, to be funded, publicized, and absorbed into the vast network of Michael Bloomberg's public relations staff, Hollywood celebrities, and other leading organizations, such as the American Federation of Teachers. It's a lot easier to be the face of a grassroots movement when large groups with paid staff all over the country will do the organizing for you.

The agenda Dees-Thomases's original manifesto for the MMM had claimed that the group respected Second Amendment rights. That was excised by Bell, which believed that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right.

While some MMM members wanted to call for banning all guns, Dees-Thomases refused to go so far, partly because she knew her supporters in the South would bolt. Instead, the MMM stated: "While we acknowledge that guns may be necessary for hunting, law enforcement and national security, the proliferation of firearms is out of control."

Notably, the group refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of defensive gun ownership. Such refusal was the common position of gun control groups at the time. Since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 Heller decision, the same groups now purport to support the Second Amendment individual right, including self-defense.

Thanks to Peters' arm-twisting (backed by her control over grants that everyone wanted), almost all the gun control groups, including MMM, coalesced around a common platform of licensing and registration. (p. 115). Bill Clinton had endorsed that agenda in his 2000 State of the Union, and Vice President Al Gore was making it part of his presidential campaign.

Media coverage Mrs. Dees-Thomases had already been skilled at publicity, but the now-united coalitions of allies made the MMM a publicity powerhouse. Media coverage was rarely critical, and often fawning. Frequently she was portrayed as an ordinary housewife from New Jersey, as the media omitted her impressive resume of work on Capitol Hill and as a publicist near at the top of the media food chain.

As the crescendo of favorable media coverage built in April and early May, more doors began to open. U.S. Airways gave free tickets to people who wanted to fly to D.C. for the march. The MMM finally got onto The Rosie O'Donnell Show. Thomases wondered if that might have happened sooner, but for Dan Rather's repeated refusal of invitations (when Thomases was his publicist) to go on the O'Donnell program.

Then came the biggest prize of all: Oprah on May 2. Oprah's interview with her was very friendly. The only downside was having the share the hour with Attorney General Janet Reno, who wanted to talk about the Elian Gonzalez case (p. 156).

Reno had recently supervized the gunpoint abduction of a six-year-old Cuban refugee. After breaking into the Florida home where Gonzalez was staying, federal employees had found Gonzalez in a closet, held and protected by a young man who had rescued the boy from the sea, after the boy's mother drowned when their boat sank. "Give me the fucking kid!" one of Reno's employees screamed, as he pointed an automatic rifle at the two. An Associated Press photographer, who was also hiding in the house, won the Pulitzer Prize for his photo of the abduction.

Reno told Oprah that there was no problem, since the man pointing the gun at the child didn't have his finger on the trigger.

Mrs. Dees-Thomases' book does not say whether or not it felt odd to be denouncing gun violence against children while appearing on the same program as General Reno.

In any case, the MMM was on a roll. President Clinton wanted to address the MMM D.C. rally in person. Dees-Thomases had to reluctantly refuse his offer, because the necessary security screening for everyone on the Mall would have been a logistical nightmare. Other politicians, including Mrs. Clinton (then running for U.S. Senate from New York) and Vice President Gore were also turned down, as Dees-Thomases wisely decided to keep the focus on mothers rather than politicians.

There were no hard feelings. Mrs. Clinton delivered a recorded address to the march. President Clinton hosted a pre-march White House event for the MMM group from Michigan (p. 166).

Moral superiority

The central theme of the MMM was often articulated by Bell Campaign President Mary Leigh Blek: "We love our children more than you love your damn guns." (p. 175). When she delivered the line at the march itself, it seemed to be directed at a nearby group of counter-protesters (p. 189). The "Second Amendment Sisters" was a pro-gun group of mothers and other women who had organized to provide an alternative perspective on the gun debate.

If you spend any time talking with "anti-gun" or "pro-gun" women, it is readily apparent that both types of women love children, even though they have very different ideas about best to protect them. Yet to the MMM, the Second Amendment Sisters, and anybody who agreed with them, were "gun nuts" who only loved guns, not children.

How could the MMM believe that people who disagree with it on gun policy don't love children?

One reason is willful ignorance. Responsible adults who participate in public affairs take the time to learn the arguments of the other side. When they understand the other side's best arguments, they are better able to make a thoughtful case for their own position. Sometimes they may revise their position based on new information.

Childish adults wall themselves off from contrary views. They imagine that the worst people on the other side (such as the jerks who sent Dees-Thomases torrents of hate mail) represent everyone on the other side. Some people are too intellectually timid to read or listen to advocates of contrary views. Instead, they learn about other views only through sources that are sure to twist those views to make them appear foolish. Today, there are many people whose main exposure to non-leftist ideas is through the distorted lens of comedians such as John Oliver.

Even in her 2004 book, Mrs. Dees-Thomases remained oblivious to the pro/con evidence on various gun control measures. She apparently still thought that automatic guns (a.k.a. "machine guns") can be bought at retail under the same rules as ordinary guns. Actually, ever since the National Firearms Act of 1934, such guns require a months-long registration and tax process with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Automatics manufactured after 1986 may be sold only to the government.

As for gun registration, according to Mrs. Dees-Thomases, "if registration becomes law, all guns will be registered before they leave the manufacturers, and they would be more easily traceable as a result" (p. 75). Supposedly, manufacturers object because of the "added cost plus diminished demand by criminals" (p. 173). In fact, manufacturer-based registration has been federal law since the Gun Control Act of 1968. When a manufacturer ships a firearm to a wholesaler or retailer, the manufacturer must create a permanent record of the transaction, including the gun's make, model, and serial number. The wholesaler or retail must create a similar permanent record upon receipt of the gun. The ATF can examine these records during compliance inspections and can use the records to trace guns. Today, most of the large manufacturers and wholesalers participate in the ATF eTrace program that allows ATF electronic access to the records, so that ATF can conduct in a few seconds a trace of any gun the manufacturer made.

It's easier to hate gun manufacturers if you don't know the laws they already obey and don't know how they already go far beyond their legal obligations, by allowing ATF remote access to their electronic records, even though the law only requires on-site access to paper records.

Mrs. Dees-Thomases' book is riddled with many similar errors, all of which accumulate in only one direction.

These days, thanks in part to Twitter and Facebook, it's even easier for anti-gun groups to spread disinformation—such as the lie that federal law prohibits gun research, even though the National Institutes for Health have funded over $11 million of gun research in the last several years.

Learning about public affairs can be tough work, since it usually requires reading, including reading the best analysis and research from experts with whom one disagrees. For some people, it's more gratifying just to hear one's favorite talking points repeated by people who just repeat talking points—such as a high school student who thinks he is a political expert because he watched House of Cards. After all, that program had episodes demonstrating that Republicans secretly favor gun control but pretend to oppose it only for cynical politics.

The Mother's Day march

The master of ceremonies for the big rally on the National Mall was television host Rosie O'Donnell (p. 187). At the time, she was second only to President and Mrs. Clinton as America's leading anti-gun advocate. Shortly after the Columbine murders, O'Donnell had announced that all guns should be banned, and that anyone who possessed a gun should serve a mandatory sentence.

At a White House event leading up to the March, O'Donnell had met with Suzanna Hupp. Mrs. Hupp, a young mother, had helped lead the successful fight for Texas to enact a concealed handgun permit law in 1995. In 1991, at a Luby's Cafeteria in Texas, Mrs. Hupp had seen her parents and two dozen other people murdered before her eyes by a mass killer. Rosie, "The Queen of Nice," listened to Mrs. Hupp's story, and then announced that Texas was right to have prevented law-abiding citizens from defending themselves or their families; things in the Luby's Cafeteria would have gotten too dangerous if someone had shot at the murderer.

Somewhat inconsistently, in 2001 Ms. O'Donnell had her bodyguard request permission to carry a handgun when he accompanied O'Donnell's children to their "gun-free" school.

Another MMM speaker was actress Susan Sarandon. Shortly beforehand, she had spent the weekend at a Madison Square Garden rally for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a man who used a revolver to murder a policeman.

Also speaking on the Washington Mall was Barbara Graham. A few weeks earlier, she had shot 22-year-old Kikko Smith in the spine and left him paralyzed. She believed, wrongly, that her victim had been involved the murder of her son. Subsequent to the arrest, a search of Graham's home found four handguns were found, including a TEC-9 semi-automatic pistol (a low-quality gun with a 30-round magazine). That didn't disqualify her from the MMM.

In court the next year, "the women from Million Moms are backing her at her trial," reported the Washington Post ("Woman Goes on Trial In Ambush Shooting; Bid to Avenge Slain Son Is Alleged," Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2001).

The jury, however, convicted her of aggravated assault with intent to kill.

One of the fieriest speeches at the MMM rally came from Rabbi Eric Yoffe, president of the Union American Hebrew Congregations. He declared that the National Rifle Association "is the real criminals' lobby in this country" and "is drenched in the blood of murdered children."

Said O'Donnell, "We have had enough." Likewise, Mrs. Clinton's videotaped message stated, "It is time to say, 'Enough!'"

Musical performances from Melissa Manchester, Melissa Etheridge, and Emmylou Harris (singing a song composed by Roseanne Cash) entertained the crowd. Celebrities including Tyne Daly, Anna Quindlen, Courtney Love, and Bette Midler made appearances. Schoolchildren sang "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, keep your guns away from me" (pp. 196-97). Probably the favorite song of the event was "Throw These Guns Away," which had become the "anthem" of the MMM (pp. 106, 144, 186).

While the rally in D.C. was going on, 73 parallel rallies were held all over the United States. According to Dees-Thomases, they collectively attracted just under a quarter million people (p. 198).

As for the D.C. rally itself, the MMM claimed 750,000, although even Bill Clinton didn't agree with that Trumpian figure. The crowd was probably about 100,000, which is still impressively large, and double the number that Dees-Thomases had been told would the minimum for a successful rally.

At the end of the rally, Dees-Thomases handed over leadership of the MMM to Mary Blek, who thereafter ran the MMM from San Francisco offices. Within a few days, the Bell Campaign changed its name from "Bell Campaign" to "Million Mom March" (p. 202).


According to the MMM, and to much of the media, the MMM was the grassroots movement that would permanently alter the gun debate in the United States.

White suburban women have long been the holy grail of the gun prohibition movement. Firearms homicides in the United States are heavily concentrated in low-income urban areas. The high homicide rate there generates little political pressure for any remedy, whether than be gun control or early intervention social welfare programs. (My argument for the latter is detailed in my book Guns: Who Should Have Them?) So the gun prohibition lobbies concentrate on terrifying suburban women about dangers to their suburban children.

That is why when 19-year-old gangsters shoot each other, the gun control lobbies classify that as "children" who "killed by guns." And it is why firearms homicides at schools, which have declined by about 75 percent in the last quarter-century, remain the primary subject of discussion by the gun control lobbies. (In 1992–93, 0.55 per million students; in 2014–15, 0.15 per million students, according to Northeastern Univ. Prof. James Alan Fox.)

Having successfully organized rallies, the MMM transitioned to more direct politics. In the 2000 Maryland Governor's race, the MMM and the Brady Campaign ran radio ads against Republican candidate Bob Ehrlich: "Tell him we don't want Uzis, AK-47s and cheap handguns in our neighborhoods." (Ehrlich won.)

In the October 11, 2000, presidential debate, Al Gore emphasized his support for national licensing of gun owners. He also blamed "a flood of cheap handguns." George W. Bush supported some gun control, but focused on character and culture.

Gun control was not as popular in election season as some of the press had thought it was back in May. "Democrats on Defensive over Guns," said the Seattle Times (Oct. 22, 2000). "For Democrats, Gun Issue Is Losing Its Fire," reported the Washington Post (Oct. 20, 2000). Gore's running mate, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, tried to convince crowds that "Al Gore and I respect the Second Amendment right to bear arms" (Duluth News Trib. (Minn.), Nov. 3, 2000).

This was not a credible claim. The Clinton-Gore administration had consistently taken the position that there are no individual Second Amendment rights. Solicitor General Seth Waxman had written that "the Second Amendment does not extend an individual right to keep and bear arms." He explained that the government "could 'take guns away from the public,' and 'restrict ownership of rifles, pistols and shotguns from all people.'" (Letter from Seth Waxman, Aug. 22, 2000.) The NRA put Waxman's "take guns" quote on billboards in swing states.

Let's hypothesize that somewhere between 350,000 and 1,000,000 people attended a MMM rally, that every one of them voted in November, and they all voted for Gore, the candidate who endorsed the MMM agenda. Sincere as the rallygoers were, they represented themselves only and not the entire demographic of mothers, or any other group.

George W. Bush won Florida by a few hundred votes, and thus the election by a single electoral vote. If not for the gun issue, the election would not have been close. The gun issue cost Gore Missouri, West Virginia (voting Republican in a close election for the first time in a century), Gore's home state of Tennessee, Clinton's home state of Arkansas, and Florida.

Shortly after the election, Bill Clinton blamed Gore's defeat on the gun issue and the NRA. He later repeated that analysis in his autobiography. (Bill Clinton, My Life 928 (2004)).


In the summer of 2001, the United Nations held a major conference on gun control. Representing the MMM, Mary Blek received a standing ovation from the delegates. She said that the grouped represented a "billion" mothers worldwide.

But all was not well back in the U.S. The May 2001 MMM rallies drew much smaller crowds. The group laid off 30 of its 35 paid staff. It was evicted from its offices in the San Francisco General Hospital. The MMM had obtained office space from the Trauma Foundation, without SF General's knowledge, and was using the space for lobbying, in violation of the city-owned hospital's rules.

In October 2001, the remnant of the MMM was moved to D.C. and absorbed by its onetime rival, Handgun Control, Inc. Not long before, Handgun Control, Inc., had discovered that many Americans considered "control" to be off-putting. So the group had renamed itself the "Brady Campaign." Its new subdivision was the "Million Mom March United with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence."

The new arrangement freed Mrs. Dees-Thomases to say what she really thinks. In a 2002 MMM op-ed, she called for "common-sense measures": a ban on all pump action guns, gun prohibition for everyone under 21, and psychological testing for all gun owners under 25 (Donna Dees-Thomases & Carolynne Jarvis, "Why wait to tackle gun violence?" Detroit Free Press, Aug. 8, 2002).

The MMUBCPGV still exists, at least in a nominal sense. But by 2013, it was clear that a new "mom" group was needed.

So today, "Moms Demand Action" is part of Michael Bloomberg's "Everytown" gun control organization. It is headed by Shannon Watts, formerly director of global public and corporate affairs for Monsanto, and before that a press relations officer for anti-gun Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan. She too is portrayed in the media an ordinary mom making her first foray into politics.

The days of September 1999, when Mrs. Dees-Thomases was funding the MMM with her Visa card, are long gone. So too are the days when anti-gun activists were fighting over their share of a $4 million grant fund. Single-handedly, Michael Bloomberg and allied billionaires now far outspend the NRA. Bloomberg personally has more money than the combined market capitalization of every U.S. firearm manufacturer. Rhetorically, the antigun rallies of 2018 have much in common with their 2000 predecessors, but the financial infrastructure behind them is different by at least an order of magnitude. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and his friends, they will never be short of money.

NEXT: Credit Card Company Requirements That Merchants Not Sell Guns to 18-to-20-Year-Olds

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  1. Good article.

    If it were not for Bloomberg, there would be no gun control movement.

    1. Now, that’s not true. It might be smaller, and less organized, but while your typical anti-gun group absolutely is astroturfed, gun control certainly does have a degree of grass roots support, and the movement would exist even without billionaire funding.

      Just on a much smaller scale.

      1. What would the gun control ‘movement’ look like without the sympathy of the Fourth Estate?

      2. I got paid $10438 a month ago by working on the web. Its a simple online activity to do and winning is more and superior to anything the general office work. I have discovered this activity a half year prior and begins gaining in my first month effortlessly. Everyone must attempt this activity at the present time by simply reorder the beneath site in program and afterward take after next subtle elements to begin procuring right now look here more

    2. “An Australian, Peters had helped lead the successful campaign for gun confiscation in Australia. The confiscation program had been long-planned and was rolled out immediately after a mass shooting in which 35 people were murdered.”

      THIS could be a winner for the gun-grabbers here. “Don’t waste a crisis” and be ready to strike.

      How do we guard against this hysteria?

      1. Shoot them when they come for the guns.

  2. “As for the D.C. rally itself, the MMM claimed 750,000, although even Bill Clinton didn’t agree with that Trumpian figure. ”

    As I recall, this was the cause of the National Park Service ceasing to provide crowd estimates; So that they wouldn’t contradict the inflated number. I had a long running correspondence with the editor of the Detroit Free Press over their refusal to correct their publication of that absurd claim, which was when I finally realized that the anti-gun press weren’t merely mistaken, but instead did know themselves to be lying.

    I vaguely recall a story about one local head of the March going to visit with a gun club to discuss what sort of legislation gun owners might actually be open to, and coming back to find the lock changed on her office. The upshot being that the MMM didn’t functionally have any real independence from the rest of the gun control movement, they were more of a sock puppet. Do you have any details?

    Finally, “Bloomberg personally has more money than the combined market capitalization of every U.S. firearm manufacturer.”

    Hence the recent proposal making the rounds that Bloomberg, or some coalition of wealthy anti-gunners, could get together and just buy the whole industry, and impose gun control that way.

    1. As I recall, this was the cause of the National Park Service ceasing to provide crowd estimates;

      No. It was the original MMM — the Million Man March — that led to the controversy that spurred them to stop providing estimates. The Moms couldn’t have done that; the original MMM did, by calling the NPS racist.

      1. It’s hard to keep your MMM’s straight.

    2. Anti-gun crusader Gilbert Ernest McGill posted on his Powtowmack Institute blog that the 2000 Million Mom March numbered 300,000. The 2004 MMM was less than that.

    3. How would that work? As fewer and fewer gun manufacturer’s exist, prices go up, and values of gun manufacturer’s would skyrocket. Not to mention the 300-400 million guns already out there. Not being able to buy the neatest new toy isnt going to turn people off of guns.

      1. Oh, it wouldn’t work. It’s just the latest fantasy making the rounds.

        Tokugawa pulled it off in feudal Japan, you see, and there aren’t any relevant differences between the US and feudal Japan, so why shouldn’t it work here?

  3. O, shocker, that’s not at all what I was expecting when I saw that Dave Kopel wrote a blog post about the Million Mom March: it turns out they were all a bunch of antisemitic astroturfed liars who in no way represented the true opinions of ordinary Americans. Thanks for clearing that up!

    1. Well, they certainly were astroturfed. You have to look long and hard to find a gun control organization that isn’t, going all the way back to the National Council to Ban Handguns.

      The whole movement has been financially dependent on a handful of outside sources from the very beginning, and you just don’t find membership based anti-gun organizations.

      By “membership based”, I mean organizations where the leadership is chosen by the members through regular elections, the way pro-gun organizations typically are organized. You look at the way the anti-gun groups are organized, the ‘members’ are basically just there for window dressing, and to provide occasionally warm bodies at publicity events. They have no input into the organization’s policies, and are not generally the organization’s source of funding.

      Often they’ll list anybody who requests information as a “member”.

      Not at all like the pro-gun organizations, which are typically funded by membership dues and donations.

      1. Well, they certainly were astroturfed. You have to look long and hard to find a gun control organization that isn’t

        By the definition of ‘required outside money for national push’, you can’t find any movement at all that isn’t astroturfed. Because once it looks like you have national resonance, you’ll have national players who agree with you rushing to get you money.

        As I learned it back in the day, astroturfed doesn’t mean you rely on outside funding, it means your starting narrative is false – the national big money didn’t promote you from the minors, they sent you down there to be a ringer.

        By “membership based”, I mean organizations where the leadership is chosen by the members through regular elections, the way pro-gun organizations typically are organized. You look at the way the anti-gun groups are organized, the ‘members’ are basically just there for window dressing, and to provide occasionally warm bodies at publicity events. They have no input into the organization’s policies, and are not generally the organization’s source of funding.

        Do you have sources for this comparison, or is it just a feeling you have?

        1. Sarcastro’


          The NRA is funded by over 5 million members who can vote for, or against, their leadership.

          Your feelings are apparently to be to the contrary . . . any sources for the basis of your beliefs?

          1. I’m not saying the NRA doesn’t give their members voice, but the generalized nature of the statement regarding typical pro-gun organizations has my ‘narrative not fact’-dar pinging.

            Could be legit, I have no idea. But I am not convinced by a conservative just tossing off ‘typically, the opposition does this thing.’

            1. IOW, you’re just going to dispute it without any interest in looking to see if it’s right.

              Afraid of what you’d see if you looked?

              1. Yes, I will dispute your negative generalization abut liberal supported only by your personal anecdotes.

                1. You could be right, I’m not particularly afraid that you are. I’d hope not, but Lord knows liberals have loads of structural issues in their organizations.

                  I just don’t buy it based on the evidence offered so far.

                  1. The NRA brags about the size of its membership because it really HAS several million members. The Brady Campaign and other Anti-gun Lobby groups try not to have to discuss the size of their membership because they have so few members. You won’t find ANYTHING about member numbers on the Brady Campaign website, and very little about who their officers are and how they are chosen. They have a couple of celebrity spokespersons, but their actual officers are not much mentioned.

          2. “The NRA is funded by over 5 million members who can vote for, or against, their leadership.”

            I’m not an NRA member, but this is not my understanding of NRA governance. My understanding is that the NRA has a BOD with 76 directors, that a nominating committee made up exclusively of lifetime (as opposed to annual) members nominates 75 of the 76 positions, and that only lifetime (as opposed to annual) members vote on the 75 directors. The last (76th) director is voted on by lifetime members and annual members who have paid dues for more than 5 years.

            I don’t think you can confidently say that the NRA’s entire 5 million person membership can vote for, or against, their leadership (except the 76th director, and even then only annual members who have been around 5 years can vote). And backing into the number of members who are lifetime members is difficult, since the NRA doesn’t publish.

            1. You can try and back into the number. Assume annual revenues of about $164M in membership dues. It’s hard. The lifetime dues paying members (~$1400?) don’t pay every year, because they’re done. The annual members pay ~$40 a year. If the entire $164M came from annual payors, that would be around 4.1M annual members a year. That would leave only around 900,000 lifetime members to vote on 75 out of 76 BOD positions. But surely the number of annual dues payors is less than 100% of any year’s dues, so it’s likely that the lifetime membership is larger than 900K. I think it’s probably the case that NRA’s BOD is made up primarily by people who are voted on by roughly 1/4th to 1/5th of the entire membership. But who knows?

              1. While the cynic in me thinks the NRA allows its annual members to vote on the 76th BOD member just so they can say that the entire membership votes on the leadership (which is true in the technical sense that they have *some* voice, so long as they’ve been members for five years), there’s really nothing scandalous about this. If the NRA opened voting up to all of its annual members, the NRA would be at risk of a relatively cheap takeover by some anti-gun financier. They’d just pay 5 million people $40 to join the NRA, and then they’d have a controlling interest in the NRA’s BOD. I wouldn’t begrudge the NRA the decision to keep tight control over its Board.

            2. Our understandings of NRA governance differ. Here’s my tl;dr understanding:

              1)As you say, there is a 76th director, but he/she differs in being elected annually at the meeting.
              2)The 75 members serve 3 year terms, so 25 are elected each year.
              3)Candidates are nominated either by:
              a)a nominating committee or
              b)by petition, which requires 250 signatures
              4)Members are eligible to vote if they have been members for 5 years (or are Life members).

              There is some other trivia – no more than 5 petition candidates from a single state, etc, but that’s the gist. Here is the first copy of the bylaws my search found:


              1. What confuses me is that the NRA’s bylaws say that 75 directors “elected for three (3) year terms as provided in Article VIII from lifetime members of the Association who are entitled to vote…” Article IV(a)(1). This seems inconsistent with Article III(e)(1), which makes it seem like lifetime members and annual members for 5+ years are eligible. It sounds like the tiered is not lifetime versus lifetime + 5 years annual, but lifetime + 5 years annual (75) and anyone (76th). So I might have gotten that wrong. Maybe Article VIII is saying that only lifetime members can become directors?

                1. “Maybe Article VIII is saying that only lifetime members can become directors?”

                  I dunno. You don’t have to be a life member to vote, because I’m not and I get ballots.

                  I suspect the distinction is not important; being a life member just means coughing up a few hundred bucks (I get ‘become a life member for only $XXX!’ stuff all the time). I suspect prospective board members are already life members, and if not, buying one is going to be cheaper than your plane fare to the meetings.

            3. You don’t actually have to be a life member. But if you’re not a life member, you have to have been continuously a member for at least 5 years prior to the election in question. That plus only a third of the board being up for a vote each year are the anti-takeover defenses.

              So the universe of members who could vote in the board elections is quite a bit larger than just us life members.

              The chief reason so few people vote, is that the process is rigged. Not to the point where the members making a massive change in the board is impossible if the NRA seriously pissed us off, mind you. But to the point where, under ordinary circumstances, it’s a joke.

              1. What makes it a joke is that the NRA killed off the public forum, and we don’t generally know who each other are. This makes it very difficult for an insurgent candidate or movement to efficiently organize and campaign. All the inter-member communications are routed through the NRA itself, and criticism of the NRA board just doesn’t get transmitted. You can bypass the NRA through gun forums and the like, but very inefficiently, so the board nominated candidates have a huge advantage.

                So, under ordinary circumstances, where the membership aren’t really pissed off about something the NRA is doing publicly, it’s not feasible to run an insurgent campaign.

                OTOH, if the NRA really did start pissing the members off, I’m sure we could bypass that, run candidates, and after a couple years have taken control again. Not as easily as before the counter-revolution in Philly, (I was there, pissed me off so much that I ripped the NRA sticker off my truck.) but it’s possible.

                With the gun control organizations, it’s not possible at all, because the “membership” has no mechanism for changing the people at the top AT ALL. Totally self-perpetuating boards, not elected even in rigged elections. The ‘members’ are just there for appearances and a bit of free labor, otherwise they’re just irrelevant to most of what the organization does.

                1. OTOH, if the NRA really did start pissing the members off, I’m sure we could bypass that, run candidates, and after a couple years have taken control again.

                  Welp. That’s what I get for accepting the simple explanation put forth at face value.

                  1. I’m confused by the thrust of your comment here. Are you questioning whether the membership controls the NRA?

                    The NRA board election process is quite similar to e.g. the Sierra Club, and in fact most clubs I’m aware of. The members can replace a third of the board members every year if they like. That’s no different than the U.S. Senate.

                    Similarly, I don’t get Brett’s point about publicity for petition candidates. If I decide to run for congress, it’s up to me to generate the needed publicity by campaigning. Once upon a time that would have meant chatting up people at the convention, local functions and so on; today it’s easier than ever because of the internet.

                    In any event, the NRA is controlled by its members just like the Sierra Club is, or REI, or for that matter the city council or congress. That is in contrast to e.g. the ACLU (which has no elections at all) and, to my knowledge, most of the gun control groups (if you can find even one that has elections at all I’d be grateful to know which one).

                    1. The point is that the nominating committee candidates get a write up in the NRA’s magazine, right next to the ballot.

                      The petition candidates have to find a way to contact several million people distributed through the country, without knowing who they are. Because the NRA isn’t about to give them room to explain why the NRA’s board needs to be changed, or an email list to contact people directly.

                      Free access to the voting public, vs insanely expensive access. Clear now?

                    2. “get a write up in the NRA’s magazine”

                      Ahhh…I’m not signed up for the magazines. All I get are the ballots and seemingly daily appeals for money. They’re as bad as the ACLU with the endless apocalyptic begging.

                      Heh. Not getting the magazines is probably why I hear more about the petition candidates than the board nominated ones 🙂

                    3. In any event, the NRA is controlled by its members just like the Sierra Club is

                      Well, the NRA hasn’t, as far as I know, taken a $100 million donation to stop advocating for gun rights like the Sierra Club did with the environment (becoming an open borders/anti-environment mouthpiece for a huge donation)

                2. Adding a little perspective, I am old enough to recall the last great membership uprising of the NRA, where there were two different slates of candidates and open (and, at least in person, vitriolic) lobbying. The non-Nominating Committee group (whose name I no longer recall) managed to get their message out and a number of their candidates on the board–all of this without the internet! It’s so much easier now to communicate, even without NRA-created groups that I don’t think the energy hump would be too hard to overcome.

                3. Don’t you live in NoCal? I wonder if I have seen your truck…

        2. “By the definition of ‘required outside money for national push’, you can’t find any movement at all that isn’t astroturfed. ”

          Sure, I can. Where’s the NRA’s outside funding? The NRA gets its funding from its membership.

          There isn’t an anti-gun org out there that isn’t almost exclusively funded by an outside source. Sure, they’ll take donations, but they don’t rely on them.

          “Do you have sources for this comparison, or is it just a feeling you have?”

          I actually investigated joining several anti-gun organizations at one time, to do some internal sabotage. (If you can call getting a chance to talk to other members “sabotage”.) It was quite easy to determine that they don’t actually allow members any input into staffing, they were all set up as self-perpetuating boards. While I get a board elections ballot in the mail from the NRA every year.

          “Joining” just gets you put on a mailing list, and that’s it. They’re not looking for members, they’re looking for minions. It’s all run totally top down.

          Now, I will grant you that the NRA has become significantly less democratic over the time I’ve been a member; They set up a system to minimize the potential for board turnover even if they royally piss off the membership, by only allowing a small number of member nominated candidates. But it’s still a thousand times more democratic than the Brady Bunch, for instance.

          1. We don’t know the NRA’s outside funding. But the NRA became a national player in the 1980s, before we had the level of policy money we do now.

            On the other hand, what about more modern conservative startups? Like the Tea Party Patriots? Or the Tea Party Express? Or TruthRevolt? Or even Breitbart?

            That’s what I’m talking about.
            No problem with sabotage – sounds like fun, and politics ain’t beanbag. Though your appeal to anecdotal personal evidence is not going to convince me of your more general statement.
            It sounds a bit like you’re confusing the way a charity works with the way a grassroots organization works.

        3. Sarcastro, do you ever have any intellectual curiosity? Go look at who is on the board of directors for the March For Our Lives florida group, it isn’t the kids. They are long time leaders of various democratic 501 groups or other political movements. The kids have almost no say in how the money raised in support of MFOL is used. It’s primary leader is an Jeff Rhodes, former CEO of Greenpeace. The kids were co-opted, the basic definition of AstroTurf.

          ” In addition to support from leading gun-control groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign, and Giffords, organizers from the Women’s March, Planned Parenthood, and Move On are involved with the permitting for the event as well as promoting it.”

          Sounds like the kids sure are the ones in charge, doesn’t it? On top of that they formed a 501(c)4 in order to hide their donor lists.

          1. The fact that the kids aren’t manning the lobbying organization or PAC or whatever is pretty expected, Jesse. Does that somehow prove liberal or pro gun control organizations don’t let their members vote, as Brett indicated?

            It would take more than curiosity for me to prove Brett’s generalization of ‘the right is like this’ ‘the left is like this.’ Because I don’t think it’s more than narritivist feelings masquerading as facts.

            1. Here’s an article on the NRA.

              Note that the majority of the funding is from membership dues.

              Ok, now I invite you to find out where a gun control group gets it’s money.

        4. Why suspect astroturf in the name of gun control?

          The Democrat Leadership Council, DLC, ( used its favorite PR firm, DCS, to set up a website: American Hunters and Shooters Association, AHSA, that presents itself as a group of “responsible” sportsmen in favor of the Democratic Party gun control policy and opposed to the NRA. The internet domain name was registered 25 Apr 05 by DCS (Internet Advocacy Group), 600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, suite 200, Washington, DC. The 25 Apr 05 paperwork gave the AHSA address as 600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, suite 200, Washington, DC. The DLC occupied Suite 400 at 600 Pennsylvania Ave SE. On 3 Aug 05 the registration of the domain name was changed from DCS to AHSA. Following that were news releases obscuring the DCS and DLC origin of AHSA.
          [09-18-2007 09:19 ASHA_SUM]

          From Wikipedia:
          “The group endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 after announcing that he would be attending a skeet shoot sponsored by them in Colorado. However AHSA head Ray Schoenke stated Obama did not attend the event. Schoenke said AHSA was intended to bridge the gap between urban liberals and rural gun owners and did many events in support of Obama, but had to close down due to a lack of support for its goals by the Obama administration.”[3]
          3. Glenn Kessler, “The White House’s curious silence about Obama’s claim of skeet shooting”, Washington Post, Fact Checker, 31 Jan 2013.

      2. This is typical of almost all movements. Just like #Occupy, #BLM,; they start small with valid points of protest then are taken over by Progressive orgs, usually thru funding, and become nothing more than Progressive Plantation serfs fronting for their Elitist Masters. I would note that they also tend to become violent and crime ridden as they “evolve” under new management.

        1. I was with you until you said ‘taken over by progressives.’

          They’re taken over by national-level policy entrepreneurs. The Mercers and Kotches and Popes also exist.

          The idea that progressives insidiously took over movements like Occupy and BLM who are already espousing pretty progressive stuff is kinda paranoid.
          Especially since Occupy died due to lack of nationally organized focus.

          The serfs in service of elite masters is the state of play in political capitalism these days, is it not?

          1. “progressives” means “bad actors” around here

            1. Empirically, it means that pretty much everywhere.

              1. It must baffle you that progressives have been winning in America throughout our lifetimes, and seem destined to continue to forge the course of American improvement.

                Perhaps you don’t spend enough time with the Americans who build American greatness and win the culture wars.

                1. It doesn’t baffle me since it’s been obvious for years that the Fourth Estate is in the tank for gun control and other ‘progressive’ causes. It remains to be seen, though, whether ‘progressivism’ can keep control of the political narrative(s) as the Legacy Media functions is less and less able to function as information gate-keepers.

                  1. You guess it remains to be seen whether progressives will keep control of the political narrative?


                    Do you figure conservatives are about to roll back the clock on prayer in schools, treating gays like dirt, criminalizing doobies; creationism in science classrooms; criminalizing abortion; criminalizing contraception; segregated schools; protecting the environment; voter suppression; torture; abusive policing; and countless other points regarding which America’s liberal-libertarian alliance has been shoving progress down conservative throats for many decades?

                    You seem destined to hate the future.

          2. Sarcastr0: “They’re taken over by national-level policy entrepreneurs.”

            Yes. It couldn’t be otherwise. Goals of such groups are to have the largest amount of outreach and to be self-perpetuating. Both require large, secure lines of funding.

  4. They’re not protesting gun violence, they’re protesting gun ownership. It’s important to make that distinctino.

    1. There’s actually some truth to that.

      The problem–as all of us recognize–is that period of time when the gun owner (or maybe ‘gun user’ since sometimes the gun ‘owner’ is not the actual user like with Austin Wyatt Rollins in Baltimore who used his father’s weapon), turns from responsible gun owner/user to murderer.

      Or gun owners/users who are simply not responsible citizens like criminals.

      So how do we weed out the irresponsible owners/users or responsible owners/users who then become irresponsible?

      1. I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone has a foolproof way of doing this. But if the left’s argument is going to be “We can’t or are unwilling to take the steps necessary to prevent criminals or other dangerous people from owning guns, so instead we’re going to take them from everyone,” expect a lot of blowback.

        1. Liberals would save a lot more lives by requiring car manufactures to have breathalyzer interlock devices. It would save far more people than are saved from guns. Why have they never advocated this? Maybe it’s not the saving lives part that they care about.

          1. That kind of dumb attack works on the right as well, no? Why aren’t they fighting against drunk driving harder, the tax-cut obsessed sociopaths?

            See? Dumb.

            1. No, actually that doesn’t work, Sarcastr0, because the right isn’t using the “saving lives” argument in this debate.

              1. Why are they so into arming the teachers?

              2. Conservatives would save more liberty if they focused on the freedom to drink and drive more. Does that solve?

            2. No doubt you can always find a ton of hypocrisy on both sides of the political spectrum. But, I’ve always felt that a person who makes the argument, “even if just one life is saved by [insert proposed law here], then it will have been worth it” is setting themselves up as a hypocrite.

              Because if the standard of potentially saving one life outweighs any resulting loss of freedom, then there are millions of potential laws that could be passed that would satisfy this standard, which most people would agree should not be passed. For example, if a federal law was passed requiring every person occupying a motor vehicle to wear a helmet while the vehicle is in operation on a public road, surely that would result in at least one person’s life being saved. But the vast majority of people do not want such a law because the hassle factor and expense is not worth the potential life-saving benefit.

              1. Cosign.

                We don’t even weigh all causes of death the same so a lot of the analogies are barking up the wrong tree.

                1. “We don’t even weigh all causes of death the same”

                  Who is ‘we’? 🙂

                  I agree that people aren’t wholly rational about causes of death – hikers typically worry too much about snakes and bears and not enough about falls and hypothermia, for example. Some of that is sort of phobic – being eaten might seem worse than freezing or whatever. On an individual basis, hey, it’s a free country.

                  That said, I think it’s reasonable to expect public policy to try and be a little more rational than individuals about the relative magnitude of risks. If preventing one death each from two causes costs $1x and $100x respectively, deciding to go for the expensive save means letting 99 people die by foregoing the cheap save. People who advocate that ought to have some ‘splainin to do to those 99 needless victims.

                  1. But many death prevention measures don’t have any direct monetary costs, but instead, have a loss of freedom.

                    For example, if a law was passed forbidding people from swimming in the ocean, that would have no direct expense, but millions of people would lose out on the ability to swim in the ocean. In turn, the lives of hundreds of people would be saved every year from this law.

                    1. Sure, but costs to freedom, and even costs to convenience, are indeed costs. And costs can work both ways, e.g. a gun law could save N lives (by making it harder for bad people to use guns for crimes) and cost lives (by making it harder for good people to use them for defense).

                      But, to the extent costs are comparable, public policy should save the most lives possible. If antilock brakes save lives for $100,000 each, while stability control costs $2,000,000 per then rational public policy shouldn’t mandate stability control while foregoing antilock brakes. Sure, ultimately we are a democracy and if people irrationally prefer stability control despite the cost in lives that’s what we’ll do, but it doesn’t mean it is smart public policy.

                  2. Tell that to the war on terror. Or our cheap relatively unregulated cars.

                    There is a utility in people accepting the risks they can accept and mitigating the rest as we need to.

                    1. “Tell that to the war on terror.”

                      That’s an excellent example of not addressing risks rationally. I hope you don’t think what we’ve done there is the Right Way(tm) to do things.

                    2. I get the irrational society we want. With humans, I find arguing something is ‘rational’ is not enough by itself.

                    3. Well, people believe in astrology, aliens, that pyramids sharpen their razor blades, etc, etc, etc. But I’m going to keep arguing that public policy ought not be based on those kinds of superstitions. I may not succeed, but I have a hard time agreeing ‘Sure, if Capricorn is rising when Venus is ascendant, then we really should burn the witch’.

                      After all, shouldn’t the elites be trying to lead by setting a good example?

                  3. If preventing one death each from two causes costs $1x and $100x respectively, deciding to go for the expensive save means letting 99 people die by foregoing the cheap save. People who advocate that ought to have some ‘splainin to do to those 99 needless victims.

                    I tried that exact argument a couple of days ago. It is a stone cold loser in this discussion.

                    People who are moved by “17 people were killed by an assault rifle at a school” and “no kid should ever have to be afraid of being shot at school” are not open to this line of thinking.

                    Nobody who is sympathetic to the cause can hear you explain that mass shootings at schools are extremely rare events and that you are more likely to die in a lightning storm, let alone such common causes of death as car accidents and bike riding.

                    They were very hostile to the very idea of such comparisons. Even one death is too many!!!! They never even bothered to consider the point.

              2. Interestingly…I am a drug rep, and back in the day…I had a neurologist homwore a helmet when he drove his car. Because TBI.

                1. Heh. Head injuries cause about 50% of automobile deaths, which would be largely eliminated if drivers wore modern helmets costing maybe $200. And yet there are states which actually outlaw wearing helmets in cars (I think because they are associated with street racing), while requiring them for motorcycles. It’s a funny world.

              3. For example, if a federal law was passed requiring every person occupying a motor vehicle to wear a helmet while the vehicle is in operation on a public road, surely that would result in at least one person’s life being saved. But the vast majority of people do not want such a law because the hassle factor and expense is not worth the potential life-saving benefit.

                Hell, go further. Only government agencies can use cars. That’d cut traffic fatalities down significantly.

      2. How do we weed out the irresponsible owners/users of any legal product? How do we weed out the people using their photocopier to run off $20 bills?

        We assume that people are going to behave responsibly, (Because almost everybody will!) and then go after the individuals who misbehave, after there’s evidence they’ve misbehaved.

        Presumption of innocence.

        That’s the problem here, the gun control movement would rather have a presumption of guilt.

        1. How do we weed out the people using their photocopier to run off $20 bills?

          Why would we want to do that? Copyright violation?

          1. @Martinned,

            It’s called counterfeiting and it’s a federal felony.

            Federal law permits color illustrations of U.S. currency only under the following conditions:

            US currency $100 example

            The illustration is of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of the item illustrated;
            The illustration is one-sided; and
            All negatives, plates, positives, digitized storage medium, graphic files, magnetic medium, optical storage devices and any other thing used in the making of the illustration that contain an image of the illustration or any part thereof are destroyed and/or deleted or erased after their final use.
            18 U.S.C. ? 504(1), 31 CFR ? 411.1.


      3. By punishing them.

        Surely you understand the concept of criminal punishment.

        1. From a 2015 Wall Street Journal column:
          [It’s] not that there aren’t measures society can embrace to keep the innocent from being shot and killed. The best example may be New York City from 2002-13, during Ray Kelly’s last stint as police commissioner, when the NYPD was bringing the murder rate to record lows through America’s most effective gun-control program: stop-and-frisk. This was gun control for bad guys, under the theory that when you take guns away from bad people?or at least make them afraid to carry guns on the street?you reduce shootings. But it was savaged by liberals. Because they don’t want just the bad guys’ guns. They want yours. So they demonize guns while fighting approaches that try to identify threats…

          1. “The best example may be New York City from 2002-13, during Ray Kelly’s last stint as police commissioner, when the NYPD was bringing the murder rate to record lows through America’s most effective gun-control program: stop-and-frisk. ”

            The problem with this statement is that over that period, murder rates dropped to record lows nation wide. Few other municipalities were running stop and frisk programs, so the evidence that “stop and frisk” is what reduced murder rates in New York is at best weak.

            1. On the one hand, I believe NYC had a larger decrease than most of the rest of the country. On the other, the murder rate didn’t spring back up after the policy ended, even while the murder rate was increasing across the country in general

      4. “The problem–as all of us recognize–is that period of time when the sober driver turns from responsible driver to drunken driver and alcohol-related accident statistic.”

        So should we ban the cars or the alcohol?

        1. The cars, we tried banning alcohol once and it was a abject failure.

          1. I agree with Matthew. If it’s either/or, me and my liberty interest stand with alcohol.

      5. How do we weed out the responsible drivers who then become irresponsible and kill far more people any given year?

        1. Speed limits and laws against drinking and driving and laws against texting and driving. I think the speed thing is actually more complicated since lowering speed limits can cause people to die, too. Policy is hard.

          1. And yet, no jurisdiction prohibits convicted drunk drivers frpm possessing automobiles.

            Imagine that.

            1. They are, however often temporarily denied access and use of the car while imprisoned….

              1. Yes, but after being released from prison after serving their sentence for vehicular homicide (after one of their chronic drunk driving episodes killed someone), they can buy a car legally, and then stop by the liquor store to stock up[1], no questions asked if they look old enough.

                But – absolutely no guns for them ever, even though their weapon of choice is a car and a bottle. It’s the same for a slasher – no more guns, but the knives are A-OK.

                (To be clear, I’m OK with people convicted of vehicular homicide and knife murders being denied guns – they don’t seem like – ahem – sober, responsible people. But it’s kind of odd that the one thing we forbid them is something they didn’t use in their crime.)

                [1]Strictly speaking, buying the car is legal, but driving won’t be without a license they probably won’t have, but driving w/o a license never stopped them before!

                1. Absaroka: “Yes, but after being released from prison after serving their sentence for vehicular homicide (after one of their chronic drunk driving episodes killed someone), they can buy a car legally, and then stop by the liquor store to stock up”

                  But almost everywhere their licenses are suspended, so they have to violate the law to actually drive on public roads. Not as draconian as a restriction on buying, but not nothing either.

                  [NOTE: And not always: I once had an drunkard of a landlord who had lost his license. It being rural Missouri, though, at the time he could legally drive a tractor on public roads without a license. Which he did, from bar to bar.]

      6. “So how do we weed out the irresponsible owners/users or responsible owners/users who then become irresponsible?”

        That’s easy – disarm anyone who doesn’t have a gun permit from the police – then the police can distinguish between responsible gun owners (themselves, their friends and families, their political overseers and allies) and irresponsible gun owners (those not falling into those categories).

        It’s quite simple when you think about it.

        1. Can’t wait to hear your response to the search of your home.

    2. Rather they are protesting LEGAL gun owners.

    3. I also loved how pissy Hogg was about students being forced to wear clear backpacks and wear name tags.

      “How DARE they inconvenience US instead of…well, about 300M people”

  5. “Gun control was not as popular in election season as some of the press had thought it was back in May. “Democrats on Defensive over Guns,” said the Seattle Times (Oct. 22, 2000). “For Democrats, Gun Issue Is Losing Its Fire,” reported the Washington Post (Oct. 20, 2000). Gore’s running mate, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, tried to convince crowds that “Al Gore and I respect the Second Amendment right to bear arms.” (Duluth News Trib. (Minn.), Nov. 3, 2000.)

    This was not a credible claim. The Clinton-Gore administration had consistently taken the position that there are no individual Second Amendment rights. Solicitor General Seth Waxman had written that “the Second Amendment does not extend an individual right to keep and bear arms.” He explained that the government “could ‘take guns away from the public,’ and ‘restrict ownership of rifles, pistols and shotguns from all people.'” (Letter from Seth Waxman, Aug. 22, 2000.) The NRA put Waxman’s “take guns” quote on billboards in swing states.”

    This is a common claim of the left, that they “believe and respect the 2nd Amendment” while simultaneously believing that it confers no individual right. The two aren’t technically incompatible, but of course the entire intent is to be dishonest. If you don’t believe the 2nd Amendment has any effect beyond banning governments from infringing on government militias to own guns, you can easily “respect it,” as there are no consequences to doing so.

    1. Exactly. They’re being disingenuous by claiming to respect the 2nd amendment, while redefining it to mean something totally pointless. A “right” to carry guns in the military, if and when the military wants you to.

      Who’d bother to put such a “right” in the Constitution in the first place?

      And then they get pissy when you call them on it. Probably the most annoying thing about gun controllers is that they think you have some obligation to fall for their tricks, to forget what they’ve done in the past. They think you’ve got some moral obligation to be gullible!



        Oh wait…

      2. Absolutely. We’re supposed to ascribe good faith to people who have demonstrated, time and time again over the past 50 years, that they fully intend to try to ban and confiscate all firearms? Not a chance. The “high capacity magazine ban” being a “reasonable restriction” is a good example. At first, it was 20, then NJ (and now Colorado) only allow 15. Many blue states only allow 10, and New York tried with the SAFE Act to further reduce it to 7. This example alone should disabuse anyone of the notion that their end game is the latest “reasonable restriction.”

        1. It must suck to be you.

          Here’s another nail in your coffin–from the Reichsministerium f?r Volksaufkl?rung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, aka Fox News): “The Second Amendment rights of more than 4 million Americans are at risk thanks to Republicans in Congress”

          1. Typical liberal.

          2. Projecting again apedad?
            Hate to burst your self righteous bubble however National Socialist Goebbels admired and implemented the methods of propaganda from Progressives Bernays and Lippmann; who first used them to help Progressive Democrat President Wilson segregate the federal government. I would note that Communists Lenin and Stalin also admired and used Bernays’ and Lippmann’s methods along with Communist Mao. Not to mention Progressive Alinsky using them in his Rules for Radicals.

            1. Yeah, absolutely nothing has changed in a 100 years…

              1. The more things change, the more people stay the same.

                1. Correct.

                  Liberals and libertarians continue to welcome the changes and to forge additional improvement.

                  Conservatives continue to mutter bitterly about all of this damned science, reason, education, progress, and tolerance; to whine about how their preferences for backwardness and intolerance are disrespected; and to pine for illusory ‘good old days.’

                  Cue the soundtrack.

        2. ARWP: “New York tried with the SAFE Act to further reduce it to 7.”

          When they get down to ‘1’ they’ll probably stop.

      3. President Trump is enacting more gun control in his first year and a half than Obama did in eight.

        I don’t think he’s doing so due to pressure from the left…

  6. I am old enough to remember when gang violence was the problem.

    Both the media and politicians focused on gang violence. Gang violence was considered the greater threat than mass shootings.

    Time magazine even put a picture of Yummy Sandifer on the front page.

    A columnist for the Long beach Press-Telgram ran a series of columns titled “Javier’s Legacy”

    and yet, somewhere along the way, gang violence ceased to be a problem. None of the politicians nor network pundits mention the problem of gang violence anymore.

    I wonder why.

    1. It couldn’t be that most of the gang violence occurs in Democrat-controlled cities, could it?

      Nah. Gotta be the guns.

      1. Or maybe gang violence has actually decreased along with the rest of violent crime?

        Nah, lets keep repeating cities are hellscapes and it’s all liberals’ fault because all urban problems are caused by their leadership and…liberals love drugs and crime, I guess?

        1. Gun violence actually decreased since the early 1990’s?

          Quick, someone give David Hogg the memo!

          1. It has. It’s only spree shootings that are on an uptick lately.

            I seem to recall that suicides and accidents are pretty flat, though don’t quote me on that.
            It sometimes sucks that our rights-based social fabric sometimes means we can’t use government to try and solve every problem, but I tend to agree with you guys that the right to self-defense means there are certain potential solutions to the problem of school shootings that we cannot explore.
            Of course, And they may not even be solutions, but IMO speculation about the utility/dis-utility of gun control is both beside the point and moot until we get more data.

            1. you’d think Sarcastro would know obvious sarcasm when he saw it

        2. Well, if violent crime is going to decrease significantly, it would have to involve gang violence decreasing, since gang violence is the largest component of it. Turf wars do decline once the gangs settle whose territory is whose, I suppose.

          “Nah, lets keep repeating cities are hellscapes and it’s all liberals’ fault because all urban problems are caused by their leadership and…liberals love drugs and crime, I guess?”

          It might be inconvenient, but, yeah, you do have these inner city ghettoes, like South Chicago, or most of Detroit, where the violent crime rate is 10-100 times higher than out in the suburbs, let alone rural areas. And it might be inconvenient, but they’re basically all run by Democrats.

          Which makes it really hard to blame what’s happening there on Republicans, no? Who are you going to blame crime in Detroit on, if not the party that’s run the city for 60 years? Who are you going to blame for Chicago’s violent crime problem, if not the party that’s run Chicago for 90 years?

          I mean, facts can be inconvenient things, and the “Cities = Democratic hellscapes” meme is fact based.

          1. Brett, do you disagree that the violent crime rate is dropping?

            Do you think that the only reason for inner city ghettoes is liberal mayors?

            Ah, you think everything that happens can be either blamed on Democrats or Republicans. Of course. Why am I surprised to find you so reductive.

            Sometimes…bad things happen, and neither party is to blame!

            1. No, I think it’s more a matter of Democratic mayors’ policies, actually.

              Specifically, the Curley Effect.

              1. Of which third-world immigration is the primary policy.

              2. Curly seems to have utilized polcies intended to run those opposing him out of town, whereas I would expect that a lot of these mayors just buy votes and cater to their constituencies. Curly did that too, of course, but his actions seemed more overt, more intentional, telling the long term residents of Boston, its Brahmins, to move out, so that it could become a Gaelic stronghold. It is hard to believe that most of these mayors have thought it through, and are then callous enough to impose policies intentionally aimed at scaring off opposing voters through increased bloodshed and violence. Much easier to believe that they naively think that they aren’t making things worse, if not actually helping their constituencies.

                1. ” It is hard to believe that most of these mayors have thought it through, and are then callous enough to impose policies intentionally aimed at scaring off opposing voters through increased bloodshed and violence.”

                  I lived a short distance from Detroit for a good deal of my life, and I find it very easy to believe. For instance, the city had large areas where the street lighting was out, areas with high crime.

                  When Coleman Young croaked, the incoming mayor discovered that the public lighting department had plenty of money to replace all those lights. They just weren’t doing it.

                  Young had plans for areas of the city, developments he wanted to do, and was actively running down property values in large parts of the city in order to make later takings cheaper. No lighting, police ceasing patrols, crime spikes, and property values dropped.

                  And yet, the guy was untouchable until he croaked. Why?

                  Because of “white flight”, which is to say, he actually HAD driven his opponents’ political base out of the city.

                2. When the left opposes gun rights, it’s imposing policies that are intentionally aimed at driving off opposing voters.

            2. One example of an inner-city policy championed by Democrats was high-rise public housing, which resulted in massive increases in violence and gangs. One of the reason for drops in violence and gangs in big cities was the elimination of these complexes.

            3. Conversely, anti-drug policies championed on the Republican side, have also been responsible for violence and gangs in inner cities. The vast majority of gang violence and gun crime in inner cities is a direct result of illegal drug dealing by these gangs. If drugs were legal and sold through legal retail channels, the illegal drug dealing and all the violence that comes with it, would vanish.

              1. Ironically, Democrats might get rid of the illegal drug market, and replace it with an illegal gun market.

                1. Illegal gun markets already exist in places with strict gun control laws.

                  1. Yeah, but if the Democrats had their way, the illegal gun market would be much, much larger.

              2. Regardless of the War on Drugs, you still have the major problem of generations of young males growing up in these inner cities without fathers in the household, and without the skills, or the discipline, to earn a living. Yes, a lot of the money they make now is drug related. But much isn’t. They still have to eat, and something to spend their time doing. Realistically, much of that is going to continue to involve preying on the other residents of their communities.

                1. Don’t see that connected to Dems, Bruce.

                  Seems like a good argument to vastly increase school funding and midnight basketball though…

                  phattyboombatty highlights some decent partisan causes, but hardly the only ones.

                  1. Oh you don’t? You don’t think the left’s celebrating single motherhood was a factor? Having a kid out of wedlock used to be ostracized. Now it’s “courageous.”

                  2. Midnight basketball maybe, but increasing school funding? I don’t see the connection, esp since there doesn’t seem to be much in correlation between such and educational outcomes. Besides, the big problem with those uncivilized males running in juvenile packs, terrorizing the community, is not a lack of mothering, which is what they would get more of, if we spent a lot more on schools, thanks to the feminization of education, but rather fathering. They aren’t the same. Not even close. For the most part, females cannot civilize adolescent males. It has to be done by bigger, stronger, males – which works in a family because the father gets his bluff in before the boys reach their full growth. Boys need to learn their place in the male hierarchy, and will push until they do. If their fathers can’t or won’t teach them, society will, but that will often be later, and much worse for the boys, as they end up dead or in prison.

                    1. Sounds like Bruce thinks men need to physically dominate boys to civilize them? This is crazy. One needs not beat or threaten to bear adolescents into submission. If I have misread you, why do you say a bigger stronger male is necessary?

                      You think women teachers are there to mother, or thats what they do? This is so backwards and medieval, I think Its not worth trying to teach ethics and biology to your generation, and we will simply need to teach a younger generation not raised in bigoted misogynistic institutions that being physically strong man is not a requirement to raise good young men.

                    2. @Less – calling it misogynistic is, I think, wishful thinking, at the least. Naive. Probably more Polyanish. Esp when you are talking about teaching ethics (and biology? – not sure of the relevance there, since my theory comports far better to such than yours seems to). Telling adolescent males that they are misogynists for not fitting into the female institutions that schools seem to have is not going to change a lot of their minds. They are trying to find their place in society and in life, and ethics taught by woke (very often female) teachers is going to just get ridicule. Of course they are misogynists – they are adolescent males. They are trying to find their place in society, and an ethics class isn’t going to tell many of them that.

                      The thing that women have a much harder time doing than men is setting boundaries, esp. for adolescent and pre-adolsecent males. And, yes, men have somewhat the opposite problem with their daughters. Ignoring this difference is a big reason that schools have become so toxic for males.

                    3. ..This is so backwards and medieval, I think Its not worth trying to teach ethics and biology to your generation, and we will simply need to teach a younger generation not raised in bigoted misogynistic institutions that being physically strong man is not a requirement to raise good young men.

                      Ok, you can call me a “misogynist” if I can call you a science denier. Merely raising boys outside of “misogynistic institutions” is just going to generate a lot of dysfunctional young men, the ones who survive into adulthood, and aren’t in prison – which is where the “science denier” comes in. Statistically, probably the biggest predictor for a boy ending up in prison, or as a mass shooter, etc., is whether or not he had a father in the house growing up. Almost all school mass shooters have been raised without fathers, and a large majority of the prison population is similarly situated. You may think that just being “woke” is sufficient to overcome this. It isn’t.

                      And, no you usually don’t need to beat them up, to be effective. What worked great with the two boys that my wife was raising was for her husband to grab each one, one in each hand, and toss them onto their beds. One time, when they were nearing being teenagers. After that, he would just have to lower his voice, and they would snap to. Both turned out great. My father got his bluff in, when I wasn’t that much older, and could do the same thing to me with his voice, at least until I was well into my adulthood.

                    4. uncivilized males running in juvenile packs

                      Umm, what the hell is this?

                    5. College Republicans (the ones who invite clownish, bigoted, right-wing speakers to liberal-libertarian campuses)?

                    6. I remember midnight basketball.

                      apparently, it did not work, as now people are claiming that mental health is the solution to violent crime.

                2. Of course legalizing drugs does not fix all the problems in the inner cities. I didn’t intend to infer that. But, why would a 14-year-old boy in the inner city stay in school and graduate with the possibility of maybe working a low-paying 9-5 job, when instead, he can make thousands of dollars for working a couple of hours a day.

                  Right now, these young men are all being pushed into the drug trade where they stay until they are killed or are sent to prison. Remove the drug trade, and there would be a lot more motivation for these young men to become productive members of society. Sure, some would still resort to crime (mostly property crimes such as theft and burglary), but on whole, crime (especially murders) should substantially be reduced.

                  1. Personally, and yeah, it’s not all that libertarian, I’d bring back the CCC.

                    The best thing you could do for the people in those inner cities, is get them out of there. Get them out where there are employed people for role models, and give them a chance to adopt a culture that’s less broken.

                    But I worry that they might just poison the rest of society, instead.

                  2. We continue to be copasetic – it’s not a silver bullet, but it may be the single most effective policy to get us to be better.

                    Though largely the folks above seem more into using urban issues as a cudgel to prove Republicans rule and Dems drool, so we have digressed some.

            4. Brett, do you disagree that the violent crime rate is dropping?

              Well, I do. It did for decades, but reversed a bit a few years back.

              1. Over the timescale that Brett and M.E. are talking about, it’s still a drop.

                And the uptick has not been cataclysmic or anything. Though it is a bit mysterious, I will give you.

                1. BLM succeeding in getting the police to back off enforcement on their turf, I think.

  7. Sarcastro’

    Actually you are not far off the mark, Johnson’s “war on poverty” funded the creation of a vast urban population problem which, like many problems, will continue to grow until the money runs out.

    1. I don’t buy the idea that entitlements are bad, and that getting rid of entitlements is tough love. That sociology is common among conservatives, but it is unsupported; more of an article of faith really.

      The fuzzy timeline allows you to point to many things that correlate between increases in urban issues and many of the indicia of modernity, including the Great Society, but also the rise of the automobile, population density, drug technology, the war on drugs, the privatization of prisons, lead levels increasing, white flight, etc. etc.

      1. Of course you don’t buy it. You couldnt be a progressive if you did. But let me suggest that urbanization, automobile usage, etc were significantly far along when the War of Povery, etc were started by the Johnson Administration. Yet, illegitimacy has skyrocket since then. Rereading the Moynihan Report now seems almost quint, worrying about a 25% illegitimacy rate in inner city “negro” communities, when it is now closer to 75%. Has urbanization increased threefold since then? Automobile usage?

        1. Sure, but the timeline of the ‘vast urban population problem’ or even just illegitimacy tracks all that and more.

          That’s what I say when I mean fuzzy timeline – Johnson’s a usual target these days, but it’s extendable to encompass whatever liberal policy you’re targeting at the moment.

          Personally, I blame Jazz.

        2. The black illegitimacy rate, which had been rising for a while, did spike during/post Johnson. The white rate rose a little at that point, but really started increasing during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

    2. When do you think the money will run out? And I thought we had bipartisan reworking of entitlements in the mid-90s?

  8. Sarcastro,

    Perhaps I failed to make the point clear, I will try again – “funded the [pro]creation of a vast urban population.”

    1. Are you arguing that welfare benefits incentivized urban women to have more children than they otherwise would have had?

      I’m sure that you could find sporatic examples where that actually happened, but it’s always been the case that poor people had a lot of children. Around the world, the birth rate is typically much higher in third world countries than in first world countries. One of the great ironies that the people with the best ability to support children have the fewest kids, and the people with the least ability to support children have the most kids.

      1. To some extent, perhaps. What they really did, was abolish the incentive to avoid having children out of wedlock. Because you’re already married, to the local government.

        This graph ought to horrify anybody.

        When did the war on poverty start? 1964…

          1. to be clear, I mean “broken” not “piece of crap”

            1. Interesting. Thought the link was good ar first.

              How is this?

              1. Still no good. Looking at the page source, the ‘href’ element of the ‘a’ tag is missing, i.e. I see the following (with open/close parens in place of open/close angle brackets):

                (a)How is this?(/a)

                It should look like:

                (a href=””)How is this(/a)

                I dunno what you’re putting in, but that’s what firefox is rendering at my end of the pipe.

      2. I think that you are painting with too broad of a brush. I think that wehad a lot of kids in the past for several reasons. One was infant mortality. The other is that extra hands were useful, paid for themselves, on the farm. Interestingly, there has apparently been a fairly steady reduction in family size here since Colonial times. Modern medicine has virtually eliminated most of the deaths of children by disease. And the population booms that we have seen around the world have been the result of that, and end when rates of childbirth comes in line with that. The thing is, that absent welfare, children in an urban environment cost more than they are worth. Than they can bring in (esp with child labor laws). They can’t feed the chickens or the pigs, before school, to essentially pay their way, as they could on the farm. People are, essentially, rational actors, at least in gross, and will, essentially, limit themselves to the numbers of children that they can support. No one likes to see their kids starve to death, and maybe even more, don’t want to starve themselves to have more kids than they can somehow support, esp if many of such are going to starve anyway (we see an identical dynamic in many other species that limit their breeding based on food availability). Welfare essentially subsidizes childbearing of the poor, and, by the way that it is typically structured, esp of unmarried women – which effectively subsidizes fatherless child rearing.

      3. phattyboombatty’

        Surely you are not suggesting that money from the “war on poverty” did not facilitate the birth of a huge number of children born out of wedlock in the urban areas?

        1. I said nothing about births out of wedlock, and your comment that I was responding to didn’t mention births out of wedlock either.

          But now that you’re mentioning it, I think you are oversimplifying things. I agree with you that if the state is willing to support a single mother to raise her children, that mother has less of an incentive to marry the father of her children.

          However, the father, not the mother, plays the biggest role in whether a marriage occurs. Have you ever heard of a shotgun wedding where the father’s family forced a pregnant woman to marry the father?? No, it’s always the other way around. A strong cultural influence has always been the motivational factor for having children within a marriage. If you remove the family, peer and religious pressure to marry, it’s not surprising that young men will reject marriage and shirk their duty to raise their children.

          1. phattyboombatty

            Could be your views are from the perspective of Judeo – Christian Western culture. The rule in the urban areas seem to be – follow the free money.

            1. Judeo-Christian culture? Are you saying that Muslims don’t have a culture of encouraging marriage? Take religion out of the analysis all together. Five thousand years ago, if a young boy knocked up some young girl, you don’t think the family of the young girl is going to be demanding that the boy marry the young girl? It’s simple human nature that any culture would want a pregnant girl to be supported by the father. Has nothing whatsoever to do with religion or Judeo-Christian values.

              Again, yes, a woman has an incentive to not marry a guy if the gravy-train stops once she gets married. But what I’m saying is that even if you take the welfare completely out of the picture, whose to say that the guys want to marry these women? Your argument seems to be incorrectly assuming that there is a man and woman who are otherwise wishing to get married, but because of welfare they decide not to. And even if there was a disincentive to getting married, the man and the woman could still live together and raise their children as a family, and the children would still get the benefit of a complete family unit. But that’s not what was happening.

              1. Doubt that you or any one else knows for sure what family relations were 5000 years ago,seems to me that recorded history does not go that far back. In any event, the fact remains that free money, i.e., “The War on Poverty” like “the War on Drugs” appears to have resulted in more of both.

                1. appears to have

                  We have no idea about the counterfactual, actually.

                  1. We have no idea about the counterfactual, actually.

                    For the War On Drugs we do.

              2. Judeo-Christian culture? Are you saying that Muslims don’t have a culture of encouraging marriage?

                No. Saying that Christians encourage marriage does not mean that Muslims or anyone else does not do so. Could you really not figure out that incredibly simple point on your own?

  9. Not a gun enthusiast but I joined the NRA a few weeks ago. Never thought of doing so until the recent leftist media shenanigans. I know several others who are millennials like myself and have done the same. I would say I’m a Constitution enthusiast as any American should be.

    1. I did something similar with the MLFA last year.

      Typical of the right to insist that they have a monopoly on love of the Constitution. You and I and SCOTUS may disagree with their understanding, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as passionate as you are about it.

      1. Progressives have no use for the Constitution, as it constrains the Fedgov and decentralizes power. It is completely at odds with their entire ethos. That is why they’ve been working on tearing it down or ignoring it for the last century.

        1. Left, Right–everybody is a strong proponent of the Constitution when the opposite party is in charge, and everybody is ready to ignore the Constitution when their party is in charge.

        2. As expected: liberals disagree with the Constitution as you see it, which means they must hate it.

      2. The left like the “Constitution”, but mostly as an empty sheet they can write whatever meaning they feel line onto. They’re not, in my experience, very fond of the Constitution that actually got ratified.

        1. Brett, I think of you as someone who criticizes “the left” for revolutionist tendencies, while holding yourself out as a conservative-trending friend of the Constitution. Has it ever occurred to you that the Constitution was mostly written by revolutionists, who might even have had some notions closer to those of modern revolutionists than to your own? What makes you think conservative-inflected ideas are always the best pointers toward Constitutional truth?

          1. Has it ever occurred to you that the Constitution was mostly written by revolutionists, who might even have had some notions closer to those of modern revolutionists than to your own?

            I’d argue that Brett’s views are more revolutionary than the usual bilge from Progressives, personally.

    2. If you’re a Constitution enthusiast, join the American Constitution Society and enjoy the edification.

      If you’re just a right-winger who believes the Constitution vindicates movement conservatism, stick with the NRA and watch society improve against your wishes.

      1. Great! Shut down the Depts of Ed, HHS, EPA, Commerce, Energy, etc, that are ALL unconstitutional.

        1. You left out the DEA. Which deserves a mention.

      2. You’ve got to give the ACS some credit on this one: They pretend the 2nd Amendment isn’t an issue instead of humiliating themselves by trying the traditional left-wing arguments against it protecting any rights

  10. From the OP:

    In fact, manufacturer-based registration has been federal law since the Gun Control Act of 1968. When a manufacturer ships a firearm to a wholesaler or retailer, the manufacturer must create a permanent record of the transaction, including the gun’s make, model, and serial number. The wholesaler or retail must create a similar permanent record upon receipt of the gun. The ATF can examine these records during compliance inspections and can use the records to trace guns. Today, most the large manufacturers and wholesalers participate in the ATF eTrace program that allows ATF electronic access to the records, so that ATF can conduct in a few seconds a trace of any gun the manufacturer made.

    If you know the truth, you can tell from the way that is worded that it’s full of beans. But if you don’t know the truth, you conclude that gun tracing is available electronically. Which is false. The only records available start with manufacture or import, and stop with the initial sale by a licensed dealer. Only the seller keeps that initial sale record. The ATF can access it if he has faithfully kept it, but not otherwise. No subsequent sales are recorded, so none are traceable. Records of out-of-business licensed dealers are kept, but forbidden to be computerized in any electronically searchable database.

    1. Stephen,
      The passage you quoted was in response to the following:

      As for gun registration, according to Mrs. Dees-Thomases, “if registration becomes law, all guns will be registered before they leave the manufacturers, and they would be more easily traceable as a result.”

      From that quote, it appears as if Mrs. Dees-Thomases is specifically advocating for manufacturer-based registration. The OP then notes that there actually is manufacturer-based registration.

      You are arguing that there is no registration with respect to sales between private individuals, but that is not what was being advocated by Mrs. Dees-Thomases in that particular passage.

      1. Yeah phatty, I saw that. That’s how weasel worders work it. They start with something true, and then work around to a bit of misinformation by inference. Then when called on it, they say what you say.

        In this case the money quote is: “Today, most the large manufacturers and wholesalers participate in the ATF eTrace program that allows ATF electronic access to the records, so that ATF can conduct in a few seconds a trace of any gun the manufacturer made.”

        That is not true. No gun which has been re-sold (or otherwise changed owners) subsequent to its initial sale can be traced using those records. No gun for which the licensed dealer fails to produce a record can be traced?and dealer failures are reportedly (conversation today with ATF information office) not especially rare. And out-of-business dealers’ records by the tens of millions are stored essentially in heaps of paper, or sometimes in scanned images which can only be searched by one-at-a-time visual inspection. Putting those records in a searchable database has been prohibited.

        I get that pro-gun commenters are okay with that standard of presentation. But that doesn’t make it careful or forthright.

        1. Can I ask a question about traces? Why do anti-gun types get the vapors over paper traces? Whenever I read the news, when the ATF wants to trace a gun, they have the results they need in 24 hours or so. Is the theory that that is frequently the slowest part of an investigation? After all, by the time they are doing the trace they have the gun in their hand, so it would seem like the urgent phase is usually past.

          I know enough pro-gun types to know why they don’t like electronic records, and I don’t think those reasons are particularly compelling.

          But the current system was an explicit compromise between the two sides at the time, so it seems like it deserves a little deference. Can you explain what has changed that justifies renouncing the original compromise?

          1. Absaroka, for all I know, nothing has changed. Like so much of the nation’s gun policy, the compromise should never have happened in the first place.

            My main objection is that keeping everything on paper (aside from being expensive, inefficient, and failure prone?when you have literally millions of candidate records, what criteria can you ever use to stop searching for one you can’t find?) means that every gun crime datum that relates generally to hardware is destined to remain obscure to policy makers.

            Proposed policies relating to particular gun types must rely too heavily on supposition, and can always be countered with the charge that nobody knows what they are talking about?with which I largely agree. A difference being that I want more informed policy discussion, and pro-gun folks who object to databases obviously want everyone kept in the dark. I don’t think that’s defensible.

            I make suppositions based on personal experience, while staying alert to the possibility, maybe even the likelihood, that that’s not good enough. With data that were good enough, and which differed, I would change my views. Paper records deprive me of that opportunity.

            1. “Proposed policies relating to particular gun types must rely too heavily on supposition…”

              In what way?

              If you’re looking for numbers of types of firearms manufactured, you can get that from the manufacturer. If you’re looking for the types of guns used in crimes, you can accumulate data from police reports. If you want to know how a criminal gets a gun, you can ask them. If you’re looking for straw purchasers, their name will be associated with the gun at the point of sale. If you’re looking to trace a particular gun through the hands of several criminals, good luck with that, since they won’t be doing any registration.

              I surmise that what you want is back-door registration, so wonder why you don’t come right out and say that you want registration. Love of weasel words, perhaps?

              1. No need to surmise, Jerry, I have said previously and repeatedly that gun registration ought to be universal and strictly enforced?maybe not as onerously enforced as school bus driver registration, but in that general strictness realm.

                As to your other assertions, no, you cannot accumulate reliable data from police reports. Even the FBI can’t do that, under present policies. (Time and again, experience shows just systematically reading newspapers provides better gun homicide data than anyone can get from the Justice Department.) Nobody is going to be able to improve on that unless Congress acts to require local police cooperation, and that will, of course, run immediately into allegations of unconstitutionality.

                Similarly, nobody has any way to correlate crime gun types to medical data and autopsy data. Those could tell us if some guns are notably more destructive than others, and possibly unreasonably dangerous as a matter of policy.

                Nor is there much hope of tracing guns by type past otherwise law-abiding straw purchasers, who of course could collude, and become straws for each other, by swapping new guns immediately after purchase, and thus ending traceability.

                Gun registration, plus systematic creation of gun-crime-related databases, are the steps the nation needs to get underpinnings for informed policy debate.

            2. “the compromise should never have happened in the first place.”

              When you reach a compromise with a neighbor, colleague, or spouse, do you periodically announce you’ve changed your mind and now want things 100% your way after all? Is that working well for you?

              1. This “compromise” is an example of my neighbor getting everything his way. What the hell do you think gun advocates gave up to get a ban on databases? Were they going to oppose tracing crime guns at all?

                Nor is a demand for a database anything but a compromise. It’s a proposal to put gun control into abeyance until you get better information to show what might be justified, and what is unreasonable. But my “neighbor” predictably opposes that?which means both of us are doomed to make the outcome into a test of pure political power.

                I guess many folks on both sides think that someday they can win that test, and make their preferred outcome the permanent norm. I don’t expect that to happen, which is why I think both sides would be wise to stop being so stubborn, get useful information instead, and then go to work to find common ground.

                Why not join me in calling for a gun crime database, enabled and paid for federally? That is a generous compromise coming from a would-be gun control advocate. Why not take me up in the same spirit?

                1. “This “compromise” is an example of my neighbor getting everything his way.”

                  The NICS program of background checks was what you got. People at the time said that criminals were likely to keep obtaining guns whether or not there were background checks; proponents were sure crooks would find it harder to get guns if they had to undergo a NICS check.

                  I’m not supporting your program for research because it doesn’t strike me as the investment likely to save the most lives at the lowest cost. We’re barely enforcing the laws we have on the books now, or bothering to report prohibited people to the NICS database as it is. If I have a dollar to spend, that’s where I’m going to spend it.

  11. As you can see from my post above, Kopel is once again a source for misinformation and misleading presentation. Another Kopel cite to note with caution:

    And it is why firearms homicides at schools, which have declined by about 75% in the last-quarter century, remain the primary subject of discussion by the gun control lobbies. (In 1992-93, 0.55 per million students; in 2014-15, 0.15 per million students, according to Northeastern Univ. Prof. James Alan Fox.)

    Fox’s commentary (baleful effects of swimming pools, etc.) accompanying that “research” marks him as a gun violence minimizer. Like lots of other pro-gun types, he hedges his report by choosing initial criteria to exclude giant amounts of data any gun critic would insist are relevant. This, for instance:

    Since 1996, there have been 16 multiple victim shootings in schools, or incidents involving 4 or more victims and at least 2 deaths by firearms, excluding the assailant.

    Of these, 8 are mass shootings, or incidents involving 4 or more deaths, excluding the assailant.

    Check Wikipedia. You discover that under-reports incidents which qualify, but, more important, the criteria exclude far more incidents than they report. If someone shoots and injures 10 people, but nobody dies, that won’t make Fox’s list of school shootings. Wikipedia reports more than 100 school shootings during the 1996 ? present interval.

    1. I’m generally ok with a person defining their reporting criteria any way they want, as long as they are forthcoming and consistent with comparisons. For example, if you say “school shootings have increased by 50% from 2005 to 2015” you had better be using the same criteria in 2005 and 2015. If you are only including deaths in the statistics from 2005 but then including both deaths and injuries in 2015, that’s not a fair comparison.

      1. That, phatty, overlooks?especially with limited data sets?that the more limiting you make the criteria, the less insightful your results become. Limit your criteria sufficiently, and you are down to pure cherry picking?which seems to be what is happening in this instance. There is no apparent reason for picking 1992-1993 as the starting point for a data series ending in 2015, but it does happen to coincide with a moment when Fox’s peculiar criteria record an upward blip in shooting data?which at least exaggerates his conclusion of subsequent school shooting decline. For a contrasting look at what happens in that interval, when more-encompassing data criteria have been applied, check my next comment.

    2. Here’s a notorious right wing mouthpiece on the subject:

      “The Parkland shooting last month has energized student activists, who are angry and frustrated over gun violence. But it’s also contributed to the impression that school shootings are a growing epidemic in America.

      In truth, they’re not.”

      NPR Morning Edition

      1. You don’t cite any specific wiki page, but if you’re looking at the one titled ‘List of school shootings in the United States’, I think you’re jumping the gun to criticize Fox’s work (among other things, I doubt you have followed your recommended practice of reading books before criticizing them, since this one won’t be published until June, according to Wiley). All we have right now is the interview and the press release from Northeastern. And if you compare their numbers from their graph for e.g. the 93/94 school year to Wikipedia’s 93/94 numbers, you find that Wiki’s numbers are a lot lower. They collected their data from:

        “Fridel and Fox used data collected by USA Today, the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, Congressional Research Service, Gun Violence Archive, Stanford Geospatial Center and Stanford Libraries, Mother Jones, Everytown for Gun Safety, and a NYPD report on active shooters.”

        If whoever created the wiki page used a less comprehensive list of sources, they may have encountered a recency bias making wiki less likely to report older incidents, thus generating a false trend. We’ll have to wait to be sure, but even Bellesiles didn’t fake anything that would be that easy to verify after publication.

        Wiki’s list includes some fairly minor incidents; one for 2018 reads “A man shot a pellet gun at a school bus full of children, shattering a window. No one was injured”. Finding incidents like that from the 1990s can’t be easy.

  12. I for one hope the moms are successful in disarming the IRS, DEA, CIA, NSA, TSA, ATF, BiggerATF, Marshals, Coast Guard, ICE, Border Grunts and Staat and local police to reduce the demand for guns among the people these gangs so frequently gun down.

  13. And, as always with Kopel, his commentary needs to be accompanied with a forthright reminder that he gets quite a bit of money from the NRA, and has been getting it for years. Sometimes he provides that info himself, but he seems to have forgotten it here.

    1. Why does that matter?

      Would it be different if he got money from the NAACP?

  14. I do wonder, however, if in my remarks today I have perhaps been too harsh with Kopel. Reason being, after reading quite a bit of his stuff, I don’t think I recognize his voice in this particular piece. I speculate it was ghost-written for him, and he provided only (or mostly) the by-line. If so, I wonder who wrote it.

    1. It’s funny that you mention this because the same thought came to me when I was reading the article.

      1. I actually like the guy, and have to admit that’s true: It didn’t read like something he’d write.

        1. You mean none of you all think Kopel took the criticism of his last couple of articles to heart and took time to apply some proofreading to this one?

          1. It’s not a question of proof reading, but of “voice”: Authors typically have a recognizable way of writing, and this piece genuinely doesn’t sound like Kopel. I’d speculate that he had someone else proofread and correct it for him.

  15. Singlehandedly, Michael Bloomberg and allied billionaires now far outspend the NRA.

    Don’t think he understands what “singlehandedly” means

  16. Have school shootings been uptrend, or downtrend?

    Wikipedia data (page lists school shootings by year, cautioning the data are incomplete; link too long, Google: “Wikipedia school shootings”). Data present number of shootings per year, excluding post-secondary (edited by me), in which at least one person was shot, without regard whether death or injury resulted, or whether a casualty was the shooter. I started in 1950, and computed a 5-year rolling average of results for the years 1952?2016. Increasing school populations play a role. More-complete reporting of more-recent shootings may also figure.

    Because I can’t figure out how to present a readable table in this web format (if someone explains, I will post the whole table), the following column of figures presents only the 5-year rolling average of school shootings per year, from 1952 to 2016 (note that the last average figure?for 2016?includes rolling average data from 2018, although only 3 months have elapsed, meaning that by the end of 2018, the last number in the series may also be the largest):

    5-year rolling average of annual school shooting incidents with injury or death,
    reported by Wikipedia, starting in 1952, based on data 1950?2018:


    1. Having looked at the Wikipedia data, I’d note a few things.

      First, I wonder how well the data for earlier periods was aggregated. Not sure if news of shootings at schools was recorded well enough in the 50s and 60s to show up in the search of whoever wrote this article.

      Second, I note that a lot of these shootings don’t really match the “school shooter” description the media usually uses – a disgruntled student looking to kill as many as they can. I see drunken gunfights, lovers’ quarrels, even the beltway sniper included because one of his victims was a student arriving at school.

      Third, as I’ve been told when I use Wikipedia data, it has to be taken with a grain of salt, and primary sources need to be checked, since yo u have no idea of the opinions or agenda of the person writing the article.

    2. ‘Google it’ isn’t citing a source. And ‘link too long’????

      Are you talking about this page: Wiki page titled ‘School Shooting’? That page doesn’t have any rolling averages – is that your own math?

      Because if so you might want to read the disclaimer at the top of the page that reads ‘This list is incomplete’. And in case looking at data isn’t your thing, let me spell it out – if you are looking at data over time to find a trend, the sampling needs to be uniform over time – and the wiki data isn’t very likely to be, for the reasons previously posted – recent events (‘2018: A man shot a pellet gun at a school bus full of children, shattering a window. No one was injured.’) are reported, when similar incident from 1950 is unlikely to be included in the wiki data. If the data are recorded differentially over time, you can’t use it to analyze trends.

      The wiki list, for the 93/94 school year, shows 8 incidents with one or more fatalities. The study NPR is citing shows (squinting at the graph) 33 or so. There are a couple of possibilities:
      1)Wiki’s data is incomplete
      2)Fox’s book is making stuff up out of thin air
      Time will tell which of those is correct.

      Asserting that whoever wrote the wiki page tracked down every BB through a window incident since 1950 seems pretty shaky to me, though.

      1. Absaroka, you are getting tendentious, and careless. Re-read what I wrote, to note my previous acknowledgements of specific problems you tax me with ignoring. I didn’t mention that in doing my editing (discussed in another post, because characters), I eliminated your pellet gun incident, and several others, like the beltway shooter incident, but of course you are right that the Wikipedia data must necessarily be inconsistent anyway.

        That’s why I keep challenging gun advocates to join in demanding systematic government-funded data collection to accurately underpin gun policy debates. You ready to accept that challenge yet?

        I don’t agree with you however, that those mentioned inconsistencies totally invalidate tentative conclusions about a likely trend, especially when the data are trending this strongly. And I would disagree even more strongly that these data leave room for concluding school shootings have been in decline.

        Oh, yeah, and the rolling averages are my math, compiled from the Wikipedia data after they had been edited to remove as many obvious irrelevancies as I could find. I tried to err conservatively, systematically favoring the pro-gun point of view in specific instances, but with my overall criteria as I noted.

        1. “I don’t agree with you however, that those mentioned inconsistencies totally invalidate tentative conclusions about a likely trend, especially when the data are trending this strongly.”

          This is what I don’t get. ‘Tending strongly’ depends on whether the underlying data is consistent, or not. If it’s not consistent, then there isn’t a tendency one way or another; you can’t look at the output side of GIGO and conclude anything.

          It’s not a single year – look at the 03/04 school year. Fox finds (squinting at graph) 16 one-or-more fatality school shootings; your wiki page lists 2. If wiki is missing that many, you might as well use random numbers for your trend analysis.

          So, do you think Fox’s study just fabricated the earlier data, or that the wiki page is more likely to miss data from earlier years? The latter seems not just plausible, but highly likely. The former – that he is fabricating out of whole cloth – is possible, but seems unlikely. If he is doing so, then in a few short months he will be disgraced and fired from his job.

          What you are accusing Fox of is … listing school shootings that didn’t happen. Think about that for a minute.

          1. Look more carefully at the Fox graph. Note the dates. The intervals apparently span multiple years, or possibly encompass a year’s time, but begin in one year, or end in another. Presumably those intervals are not identical to those in the Wikipedia data list, which are contained entirely within calendar years, so there is no reason why the data should agree. If you think the Fox data are single-year data, collected within one calendar year, why the peculiar dating?

            I’m also cognizant that what I seem to be reading is journalistic work, not written by Fox. I don’t purport to know what I can blame on Fox, if anything, and what may be bad reporting. The graph you rely on may not be a graph Fox prepared himself. Note the credit: “Data Source, [etc.]” Does Fox publish his graphed data in table form anywhere?

            So I’m not charging Fox with anything, nor reposing great trust in Wikipedia, either. I’m trying to take what is available, and dispassionately do the best I can with it. Let it all stand for the methods which created it. Confess that none of the methods is good enough to support the policy debate the nation needs. Good-enough data don’t exist.

            1. “The intervals apparently span multiple years, or possibly encompass a year’s time, but begin in one year, or end in another.”

              Sigh. The graph has a helpful label on the X axis that reads ‘School Year’. The wiki page lists exact dates. For example, the graph for the 03/04 school year reads 16 or so, maybe 17, depending on how you squint. Here is every (one or more fatality) date from 03 and 04 from your wiki page:

              April 14, 2003
              April 24, 2003
              May 9, 2003
              Sept 24, 2003
              Feb 2, 2004

              I classify the first three as ‘school year 02/03’ and the last two as ‘school year 03/04’. Do you disagree? Even if you classify them all as 03/04 (and don’t have an 02/03 school year???) that’s 5, which is rather less than 16.

            2. “dispassionately do the best I can with it”

              Dispassionate GIGO is still GIGO.

              Let me elaborate a little. Please forgive me for speaking in very simple terms; I’m not trying to be condescending, but you don’t seem to get the basics. I have a degree in stats, so maybe what is obvious to me is news to you.

              Statistics isn’t numeric voodoo that can extract valid data from any random inputs -how you collect the data really does matter; a lot of people don’t get that. The stats department used to offer consulting to grad students, and it was really sad to explain that their three years of field work was useless because of how the data was collected.

              Let’s try a simple example: there are just over 12 full moons a year. You don’t know that though, and decide to collect some data to see whether the number of full moons is increasing or decreasing over time. Specifically, you search all photos on facebook for pictures of full moons and extract the date from the .jpg files. You are going to find that there are almost no full moons in the 1950’s, there was a spike in the early 1970’s (start of the unix epoch, from cameras where the date was never set) and then a huge increase when digital cameras came along, and even more as facebook took off.

              I hope you’d agree that deriving trend data from those dates would be meaningless? Whether you passionately hope the number of full moons is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same, that data just isn’t informative.

              1. As for the stats degree, and other stuff that’s obvious to you, but news to me, I’m okay with that. As an undergraduate, I had poker buddies. They recruited players based on that attitude.

                My buddies would put a card on a bulletin board in the hall of graduate studies?grad students, come on down and play in a little undergraduate game. Candidates showing up were usually math and physics geeks, sure that stuff that was obvious to them would work wonders against kids. The geeks were playing against sharks, some of whom could hold their own at any table in the world. Those math guys went from confident to confused pretty fast, and then on to broke if they stuck it out. Time for another card on the bulletin board. Until word finally got around, it worked like a dis-assembly line.

                One guy showed up who was a cheater. That got doped out in about an hour. It provoked a conference. What to do? Consensus?we know what he’s doing, don’t call him on it. Stay out of the way. Let him cheat. Having an advantage especially obvious to him gave that guy confidence he needed to get cleaned out quicker than most.

                There’s always a risk?call it a statistical risk?that stuff that’s obvious to you could turn you into a bewildered loser. That’s true for anyone.

            3. Now lets talk about the wiki data. Lets look at one of the shootings you counted – the one on 25Jan2014 at Los Angeles Valley College. Here’s a news account.

              Some highlights: “Two men were arrested Sunday in connection with the shooting death of a man who was found in a parking lot at Los Angeles Valley College … [the victim] was Ricardo Zetino, 31, of Tujunga. … No classes or campus activities were going on … The shooting “was the result of a drug deal ‘rip-off,'” the department said in a subsequent news release issued Sunday night, adding that “the choice of the college parking lot was random.””

              Now, in 2014, that gets reported and listed as a ‘School Shooting’. If a similar event – a random fatal crime that happened to occur in a college parking lot off hours – in Chattahoochie in 1950, it would probably be reported in the Chattahoochie CageLiner, but not the CBS evening news or the NYT. What would it take for the wikipedia folks to find out about it so they can report it? Maybe the local library still has dusty back issues from 1950. Maybe the CageLiner is still in business and has archives, maybe it doesn’t. But for your trend analysis to be valid, the odds of such an incident coming to the attention of the wiki editors has to be the same, whether it occurred in 1950 or 2015 – and I don’t that condition is likely to be even remotely true.

              1. As I said before, I did not include Los Angeles Valley College?or unless I missed something inadvertently (which could have happened)?any other instance that wasn’t K-12. I tried to edit all the colleges out of the data series. Then in a comment I made this morning, I talked about doing that. You don’t seem to pay attention.

                And your condescension is misplaced. If you want to, go ahead and school me in data collection?while critiquing data sets against each other?both collected according to protocols you don’t know?after I have already repeated again and again that both data sets need to be replaced by data collected more systematically (a point you tacitly reject, as you go on with cross-comparisons of data you seem to concede you can’t understand?and expressly reject, saying it would be too expensive to get better data)?but that’s a lesson I don’t care to learn.

  17. I suggest the data in my previous comment at least somewhat explain why many suppose there has been a recent epidemic of school shootings in the U.S. They make an even stronger case that any suggestion that there has been a decrease in school shootings is probably nonsense.

  18. A further subjective note about an impression formed while editing Wikipedia school shooting data. I wanted to look at only K-12 data in which at least one shooting injury had occurred at a school. To get that, I had to eliminate from Wikipedia’s list those incidents with no casualties, and also all the post-secondary incidents.

    That required line-by-line inspection of the several hundred incidents reported, and in a few cases required judgment calls. In the course of doing that, I formed an impression that whatever upward trend in K-12 shootings there may have been, collation of post-secondary school shootings?in junior colleges, 4-year colleges, graduate schools, and technical schools?would probably show a notably stronger increase among those over the same time interval. A close look at post-secondary shootings might also show them to be deadlier on average than the others, but I am less sure of that.

    1. By the way, the graph is a classic “hockey stick” with a growth faster than simple exponential.

  19. Could it be that someone determined to murder is likely to find a way?

    The Bath School disaster sometimes known as the Bath School massacre, was a series of violent attacks perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe on May 18, 1927, in Bath Township, Michigan, which killed 38 elementary schoolchildren and six adults and injured at least 58 other people.

    1. 1. Not all murderers are super determined.
      2. Part of the problem with guns is that they cause deaths not by murder but by accident or suicide.
      3. Why so many fewer bomb killings than guns? Bombs are much more efficient than guns for killing lots of people, but they are vastly more restricted by law.
      4. Other countries that have fewer guns have an associated lower rate of deadly attacks. China has a lot of knifing, but the lethality is much lower because knives suck compared to guns.
      The policy argument isn’t going to be won on either side because there is no good data, which is why you need to switch to speculation and anecdote.
      The stalemate of neither side having actual science has worked so far, but I have concerns about it’s future efficacy, based on polling of younger folks.

      1. Sarcastro
        1. What makes you think this is so?
        2. Last time I looked at a gun it appeared to be an inanimate object, i.e., not capable of murder, or an accident, or suicide, or does this only seem so to me?
        3. What makes you think bomb making material is not more legally open for purchase than a gun? (One gallon of gas and a milk jug for example.)
        4. Remove the inner city drug battles from the number of gun related deaths and this country compares favorably with all of the others.

        The policy argument was decided by the founders. The “younger folks” are free to support removing the second Amendment (corner stone of the Bill of Rights) from the Constitution.

        1. 1. I’d say the burden is on you there.
          2. Items can have a causal connection to an act without having volition. We pass lots of laws regulating inanimate objects for the safety of us sentients.
          3. Having a bomb is illegal. Having a gun is not.
          4. First, back to the suicides and accidents stat. Second, are you arguing we should only allow guns in rural areas?
          The policy argument was not decided by the Founders – the moral argument was. And I agree with it – there is a right to defend oneself with reasonably proportionate force. At the moment, that means semi-auto at a minimum.

          But relying on ‘it’s a right, shut up’ won’t work if you want to maintain that right when older generations are gone. To be properly enforced, rights need social buy-in. And for that, we need more convincing arguments than ‘there was a bombing in the 1920s so people murder in lots of different ways.’ Maybe when kids grow up they’ll calm down like the baby boomers did. But I’d like to over-determine our chances.

          1. Re #1 – if we’re talking spree shooters here, they do seem to usually be pretty determined, obsessing over their plots for extended periods. They aren’t the canonical sudden heat of passion kind of crime.

            Re #3 – I dunno why spree killers choose guns over arson. If the antigun people someday do manage to ban guns entirely, I really hope spree killers don’t discover gasoline. I don’t know if that will happen or not – perhaps in their twisted minds shooting people is fun in a way that immolating them isn’t. But if they just are after killing a lot of people however they can, a perusal of the fatality numbers from arsons vs guns is pretty depressing, given that ‘gasoline control’ seems pretty difficult to implement.

            That’s why I think we should be thinking more about ‘how do we stop people from wanting to perpetrate mass killings’. Any answers we get there will work for any modality.

            1. Sarcastro/

              1. You are, of course, free to say what you like, anyway murder is: “The unlawful killing of another human being without justification or excuse.”
              2. Beside the point.
              3. What is illegal about a gallon of gas and a milk jug?
              4. Just pointing out where the numbers come from.
              The respective definitions are:
              Morality, the extent to which an action is right or wrong.
              Policy, a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, or individual.

              1. 1. I don’t get your point
                2. If you are arguing the policy benefits of making guns illegal, it is going to be part of the argument.
                3. Correct me if I’m wrong – I’m not one to have studied bomb-making, but I get the impression that making an effective one requires either a lot of skill or some dodgy materials.
                4. Doesn’t matter where the numbers come from – our gun-filled land is correlated with more gun murders and lots more gun deaths.

                The Bill of Rights is much more a moral document than a policy document. Think of the social efficiency if we got rid of all those pesky Amendments!

                1. “4. Doesn’t matter where the numbers come from – our gun-filled land is correlated with more gun murders and lots more gun deaths.”

                  Lott isn’t my favorite source, but here his numbers for you to find fault with:

                  Original Lott article
                  Snopes partially disagrees

                  1. Lott’s answer to Snopes

                    I’ve been following this debate for a long time, and I’ll be danged if I’ve ever seen any viable correlation between gun laws, murder rates, or suicides.

                    And, to be clear, that’s total murders and total suicides. It’s tautologically true that no gun==no gun suicide, for example, but looking at the suicide rates in gun-free Korea or Japan vs. gun-full America don’t seem like to offer much support for the proposition that guns are driving suicide. You can cherry pick sets of countries or states, but across the board gun laws/prevalence/whatever just don’t have much predictive value.

                2. Sarcastro,

                  Now I am in much greater sympathy with Alice.

          2. “I’d say the burden is on you there.”

            I’d always understood that if you made a statement purporting to be fact, such as, “Not all murderers are super determined.”, it was your responsibility to defend its validity. “Prove me wrong” doesn’t seem to be a valid response.

  20. Thanks to all for enlightening me about the term “Astroturfed.” Never knew that.

    Many churches are Astroturfed; many are not.

    Personally I prefer the Astroturfed variety.

  21. Jesus man, proofread your articles before you hit publish. Its a great piece but it degrades its message through over a dozen careless spelling and grammatical mistakes. Did you not read over this even once?

  22. “Responsible adults who participate in public affairs”

    That’s none of the Left, few of the Right, and not enough of the Libertarian.

    The Gun Control Movement is very like the Climate Change activity; made up largely of lies and omissions, peopled by obvious frauds, fascists, and morons.

    Pity their opposition is only slightly better.

  23. School Shootings, Uptrend or Downtrend?

    Annual shooting Incidents, 1985?2016.

    K-12 schools vs. Post-secondary schools (2-year, 4-year, Graduate Schools, Trade Schools, etc.)

    Wikipedia Data: Edited by Stephen Lathrop. Incidents with at least 1 person killed or injured. Includes shooters.

    Incidents omitted, (terrorism related; Vietnam era military shootings).

    Data not per capita.

    5-year rolling averages, computed by Stephen Lathrop. Data 1983?2018.

    Note: 2018 data only to 3/23/18. More 2018 incidents would increase final 3 values in each column.

    ———– K-12 — Post-
    1985 . . . .3.8 . . . . 0.2
    1986 . . . .4.8 . . . . 0.2
    1987 . . . .4.2 . . . . 0.2
    1988 . . . .3.6 . . . . 0.2
    1989 . . . .3.4 . . . . 0.6
    1990 . . . .3.4 . . . . 0.6
    1991 . . . .4.0 . . . . 0.6
    1992 . . . .5.6 . . . . 0.8
    1993 . . . .6.0 . . . . 0.8
    1994 . . . .6.4 . . . . 0.8
    1995 . . . .6.8 . . . . 0.6
    1996 . . . .6.0 . . . . 0.6
    1997 . . . .5.2 . . . . 0.4
    1998 . . . .5.0 . . . . 0.6
    1999 . . . .4.6 . . . . 0.4
    2000 . . . .4.0 . . . . 0.8
    2001 . . . .3.6 . . . . 1.0
    2002 . . . .3.2 . . . . 1.0
    2003 . . . .3.6 . . . . 0.8
    2004 . . . .4.2 . . . . 1.0
    2005 . . . .4.4 . . . . 0.8
    2006 . . . .5.2 . . . . 1.2
    2007 . . . .5.4 . . . . 1.8
    2008 . . . .6.0 . . . . 2.6
    2009 . . . .5.8 . . . . 2.4
    2010 . . . .6.6 . . . . 2.8
    2011 . . . .8.0 . . . . 3.8
    2012 . . .11.0 . . . . 6.2
    2013 . . .11.4 . . . . 7.4
    2014 . . .12.6 . . . . 7.4
    2015 . . .12.4 . . . . 7.2
    2016 . . .11.2 . . . . 6.2

  24. A few general comments after comparing Wikipedia’s post-secondary shooting data to the K-12 data (See post above).

    If Wikipedia’s data have any validity (a big if without more info on the data collection processes), then post-secondary shootings seem to be increasing notably faster than K-12 shootings. In the 1980’s there tended to be >20 times as many K-12 incidents as post-secondary incidents. By 2012 that proportion had changed to less than 2 /1. Also, perhaps because shooters in post-secondary incidents average older, the post-secondary incidents seem to be deadlier, with fewer incidents producing only injuries.

    Assuming that Wikipedia’s methods do at least somewhat reflect incident publicity, especially in the later years of this series, these observations provide insight on why many people think school shootings are on the rise, and not on the decline, as the OP suggests. If Wikipedia’s methods could be proved to have any notable validity, then the OP’s assertion that school shootings are declining should be studied for methodological flaws of its own.

    1. “If Wikipedia’s methods could be proved to have any notable validity”

      The usual sequence is:

      1)Verify the suitability of the data for the analysis you plan to do
      2)Conduct the analysis
      3)Announce your conclusions

      You are using the reverse order; that’s not a best practice.

      Wiki’s methods aren’t expected to be comparable over time; their list is missing data. For example, let’s look at 19Jan2000 at the high school in New Port Richey. That’s what the ‘A decade ago, 16-year-old Steven Moschella…’ part is referring to. Your list seems to have missed that one.

      I got that one by looking at the 1999/2000 list below (links to follow because of the two link limit), which I got by picking the year 2000 at random and googling ‘2000 shot school’. That site – schoolsecurity dot org – was the third link. Then I googled the date and town, plus various keywords about school shootings, and got nothing. It took a bit of searching to find the link above. This is what I’ve been saying – it’s not trivial to find a complete list for even a few years ago. If you look at wiki’s documentation for the list you are using, you will note that they will not list anything not supported by an outside link. That might be why they didn’t include this incident, or maybe they just never heard of it.

    2. The schoolsecurity dot org site has similar pages for 1999 to 2010, and they also have a yearly total of school shooting deaths by year:

      99/00 10
      00/01 14
      01/02 5
      02/03 3
      03/04 23
      04/05 24
      05/06 15
      06/07 13
      07/08 8
      08/09 8
      09/10 7

      That looks a little different than your data, doesn’t it? Now, I haven’t looked hard at their data[1], and I’m not offering any conclusions other than this: cursory amateur analysis of casually collected data is not likely to result in valid conclusions.

      [1]e.g. are the shooting/suicide/other categories mutually exclusive?

      1. Absaroka, thanks for the link. There is a telling reply to what’s shown there, but I’m going to save it for another time, when more people are on a thread. This will all come up again.

        I will add this here. Your punctiliousness about data procedure is overblown. It’s not uncommon for a flawed data series to deliver at least limited validity for some purpose. That’s true with the Wikipedia data. They serve to put a floor under historical levels of gun violence in schools, with values which are surely valid for that purpose going back for many decades. Those values are almost certainly too low, but we now know the reality can’t be less.

        The obvious critique of the Wikipedia data is that they have surely missed incidents because of imperfect data collection methods. That, in turn, emphasizes that school shootings numbers, which these data show?from a political point of view?to be precariously common, will only increase upon correction.

        1. “They serve to put a floor under historical levels of gun violence in schools, with values which are surely valid for that purpose…”

          No argument there. What they aren’t valid for is determining a trend over time – which is what you were doing.

        2. “Your punctiliousness about data procedure is overblown.”

          Not if you want accurate results.

          “It’s not uncommon for a flawed data series to deliver at least limited validity for some purpose.”

          Let’s speak precisely.

          Statistics is all about extracting useful information from noisy data. With a large enough sample relative to the noise, you can reliably infer things despite the noise.

          What statistics doesn’t do is allow valid inference from biased data – which is what you were trying to do.

          In the case at hand, if the wiki data was just noisy – if, for instance, you had a list of every incident over the years but flipped a coin and dropped the incident if the coin was heads – then you could, with a large enough sample size, accurately determine a trend. Some years every incident would be dropped, some years none, and everything in between – but there wouldn’t be any systematic bias over time.

          But because of how wiki assembled its list, that’s not what happened. Recent events are more likely to make the list than similar events from long ago. That systematic difference over time is a bias, and is expected to produce rising numbers even if the underlying data is flat. That’s the full moon example I gave you many posts ago.

          1. If a data trend runs right through a biased interval of data collection, that may or may not mean you can parse at least hints of the trend out of the data?depending on what you can discover about the bias, its relative size, its duration, etc. But it doesn’t mean the trend isn’t there. You may not have measured it, but biased collection hasn’t made the trend go away.

            I stipulate again, as I did previously, again and again, that the Wikipedia data?and the data you offer as critiques?and all the other gun data out there, were unevenly, unreliably?and maybe more important, differently collected. I continue to call for data standardization and uniform collection. You?and pretty much every gun enthusiast?continue to resist. Stop lecturing until you are ready to take your own counsel.

            1. Just terminology here: if you have some measurement thing you can correct – like you know that the weather affects something, and you have weather records, then sure, you apply the correction. The corrected data isn’t biased anymore.

              But for your wiki table, the correction you need is the fraction of like incidents that wiki noticed for each year. You can’t just guess those numbers from looking at the table itself. I get the sense that you think there is some statistical magic that can do that, but there isn’t.

              I suspect that the fraction shrinks as things go farther into the past, but I doubt it’s linear – things like when newspapers started archiving online matter, and when school shootings became a political hot button.

              As for data collection, there are roughly 20 school shooting deaths a year. No matter what you do, solving that problem will save at moat 20 lives a year. There are somewhere between 50 and 200 deaths from school athletics, depending on the source. School age bicycle deaths are roughly 4x shooting deaths, and traffic deaths are well over 100x. There is a lot more potential foe saving lives there, just because of the numbers. Cut school age traffic deaths 1% and you’re ahead of the game. I have a hard time understanding why those deaths don’t matter to you.

              1. Absaroka, electronic newspaper composition preceded word processing, using purpose-built main-frames and mini-computers. You suppose electronic archiving of newspaper copy began with the internet? That’s mistaken. It began decades earlier, driven by the changeover from letterpress to web offset printing, circa late 1960s, early 1970s. Except for a few outliers held up by union issues, the transition went very fast. It was mostly complete nationally by the late 1970s.

                In small-town southern Idaho, where I worked, every notable newspaper was being electronically composed by the mid 70s. Check out the Chicago pubic library’s collection of newspaper archives to get a sense of how various, and how far back, searchable electronic data, and keyworded facsimile data, are available.

                You have also made remarks suggesting underestimation of news business efficiency in earlier decades. Your hypothesis of a school shooting story which utterly escapes press notice because it occurs in some backwater is undoubtedly possible, but not even close to being the rule. For more than a century, there were wire services and newspaper chains sharing every possible kind of news, including photographs (1920s). All the major wire services are more than a century old. The AP was founded in 1846. In the 1920s, live sports broadcasts were published over open telegraph wires, by sports reporters who arrived at the ballpark with little cases containing their personal telegraph keys.

                1. That’s all familiar history.

                  But, as Columbo would say, there is one part of your pretty story of universal, easily accessed news archives that bothers me – why does your wiki list miss so many of the old ones?

                  And that’s where the rubber meets the road – your list is in fact missing older ones, contrary to your assumption.

  25. By the way, to anyone, like me, who struggles to post a data table on this forum, the secret seems to be to understand that near the end of the electronic process used when you hit “submit,” the algorithm strips out every instance of consecutive word spaces, replacing them with single spaces. If you have used word spaces to align data, that makes your result look chaotic. My solution was to try periods, as you see above, alternating with words spaces. Fixed the problem. But either method required chopping the early data off the table, because characters.

  26. The statistical validity of Wikipedia’s collection methods aside, their presentation indisputably shows specific corroborative detail sufficient to prove that what they did report did in fact occur. Which means that at least for the most recent years, taking K-12 and post-secondary school shootings together?and even after excluding those in which no one is injured, and others due to terrorism, and a few others of questionable relevance?the nation now experiences a minimum of ~ 20 school shootings per year. With some evidence of an increasing trend.

    That does not strike me as politically sustainable indefinitely. I wonder, if pro-gun advocates think otherwise, how do they plan to respond?

  27. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.


  28. The central theme of the MMM was often articulated by Bell Campaign President Mary Leigh Blek: “We love our childrenfascism more than you love your damn guns.”


    And, honey, don’t bet on it.

  29. The problem with groups like this one is they fail to understand one basic truth. They do not get to decide how I will keep my family safe. If they choose to not own a gun, fine that is their right. Their decision does not trump mine and they do not get to deny me my right to self defense because it “scares them”. It is very possible I will die if ever forced to us my gun to defend myself or my family. The difference between me and people in this group is I will die on my feet fighting to live, whereas they will most likely die on their knees begging for their life.

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