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Why gun control is so hard: Hint, it's not the NRA

Guest Opinion: There's one big factor missing from far too much of the discussion: The voice of the families of the victims.
The scene of the Aurora, Colo. shooting in 2012, the day after the crime.

The scene of the Aurora, Colo. shooting in 2012, the day after the crime. Algr/Wikipedia

Many people are wondering how a basic, common sense law like universal background checks for gun purchases can fail in both D.C. and Olympia. Polls show that on the state and national level, the idea enjoys the support of approximately 9 out of 10 voters.

The public acceptance of the idea makes sense. After all, we don’t get to drive a car if we have a history of drunk driving, so why should somebody with a felony or domestic violence problems or someone involuntarily committed for mental illness be able to buy an unlimited number of firearms at gun shows or online,  no questions asked?

The explanation for the failure in the state and the nation's capital is not the clout of the NRA or the gun manufacturers, who provide as much as half of NRA revenue. At $1.3 billion, the total revenue for the gun industry annually is only slightly more than what a company like Apple makes in a given week in a good quarter. And last year the NRA spent less than $7 million dollars on non-Presidential elections — and lost far more of those contests than it won. Indeed a watchdog group called The Sunlight Foundation said the NRA has the worst return of investment on its political donations of any lobbying organization

The No. 1 reason why gun control legislation fails to pass is that, with the sporadic exceptions of a tragedy like Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook, nobody speaks for the victim. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was able to reduce drunk driving deaths in half over a 20-year span, from approximately 30,000 annual deaths nationwide to the current 15,000 level. Outraged parents made it their life mission to ensure a changed culture and to produce legislation on the matter of drunk driving. And they succeeded  despite opposition even more powerful and deep-pocketed than the NRA

School shootings represent only a small fraction of gun deaths. More than 90 percent of the 31,000 annual gun fatalities trace to suicide, domestic violence or gangs.

These three societal issues typically carry with them, for better or worse, some element of shame for the families involved — shame that stymies loved ones from organizing and taking a proactive stance in addressing the issue for the benefit of future generations.

In this way, the push for gun control most resembles the push to end slavery. The push for change has been driven by a limited number of high-minded citizens like long-time broadcast executive Ancil Payne or Tom Wales, the federal prosecutor and gun-control advocate assasinated in his Queen Anne home. That kind of push is quite different than what comes from the controlled, sustained mass anger of the immediate families of drunk-driving victims.

And many high-minded folks who get involved in the wake of Columbine or Sandy Hook peel away from the uphill, often thankless fight after just a year or two. Indeed the sustained outrage on the gun-control issue comes instead from gun lovers who are stirred into a paranoid frenzy from various gun rights groups — including the NRA — who make a mint on memberships motivated by misleading messaging.

I, for one, do believe that Sandy Hook represents a tipping point moment. The president has committed himself to the issue and the NRA has exposed its true essence as an extremist group. I believe an initiative on universal background checks will pass next year in this state. But we need for a number of different bills — like tougher penalties on juvenile possession and a limit on magazine clip capacity — to pass to significantly reduce the bloodshed. Sadly, the gun control movement will get a boost in the next year or a year or two after another Sandy Hook. 

Gun legislation does work, as research cited in Harvard School of Public Health Professor David Hemenway's "Private Guns, Public Health," shows that those states that have the most comprehensive laws have a small fraction of the gun deaths versus those with the fewest restrictions. We will eventually get to a much safer society, but it will take 20 years or more. During that time, some 2 million more Americans will be killed or injured by a firearm.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, May 2, 7:19 a.m. Inappropriate

After reading your article, I find myself questioning my pro-gun control stance. Or at least questioning how to go about it. I find that to be a very odd response to an article written by somebody who has/had the same position I do/did.

Let me explain.

I have often found myself relating gun violence to drunk driving. Cars, like guns, can be deadly weapons or tools for good depending on how people use them. I have felt, and this hasn't changed, that we need to treat gun violence like a public health issue as we have with drunk driving. It's proven effective at reducing drunk driving related deaths and, I believe, would yield similar results with guns.

But, you started the article off talking about MADD and how the real change in drunk driving deaths related to societal change came from persistent grassroots organizations like them. You talk about how there isn't that organization with gun violence.

I have never disagreed with an anti gun control person when they talk about the need for societal change to deal with gun violence and here I'm reading a pro gun control person, like me, relating that societal change to drunk driving in a manner I had not considered before.

So, here's where I'm at with the gun control issue...

-We need to take EVERY gun control law EVER written, and as part 1 of a gun control bill, invalidate them...every last one.
-Part 2 of that bill will begin the rewriting of those laws treating gun ownership the way we treat car ownership. Licensing, background checks, and registration. This would include re licensing, as we do with cars.
-storage requirements would be in there somewhere. Guns, like cars, need to be secured so that people with ill intentions cannot gain easy access to them.
-There needs to continue to be limits on what guns can and can't be owned. Or at least there needs to be a stringent permit process to own an Howitzer.
-Most importantly, there needs to be well funded public health research. We talk about gun control, but without the kind of data we have on drunk driving, we're all just guessing, both sides of this debate.

But, no gun control laws will be effective without MADD type lobbying for societal change. Every one of those laws are band aids. Until we can find a way to make the folks who perpetrate gun violence feel shameful and guilty BEFORE they grab the gun the laws are a waste of paper. We have done an incredible job reducing drunk driving deaths by making people leaving a bar think about whether or not they're CERTAIN they can drive effectively and safely. Until we can get that kind of thinking into society about guns, the gun laws are all there to make us 'feel' like we're doing something useful.

But now that I've seen how this relates to MADD, I don't think the gun laws are the most direct path to reducing gun violence.

I hate that I feel this way. It's going to take me a few days to deal with this.

charm

Posted Thu, May 2, 9:18 a.m. Inappropriate

As a pro gun person, it's hard to have any meaningful dialogues about what will work for new laws when the gun-control people don't know what *is* currently the law.

For instance, the 2nd paragraph lists off that why should someone who's been convicted of domestic violence or involuntarily committed be able to purchase a gun. Please see the section "Federal Categories of Persons Prohibited From Receiving" at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/fact-sheet
A short synopsis is:
*Anyone convicted of a crime punishable by 1 year of jail, or State misdemeanor for 2 years.
*Fugitives of justice.
*Unlawful users/addicts of controlled substances.
*Anyone adjudicated as mentally defective or involuntarily committed.
*Anyone convicted of (attempted) use of force against immediate family. *Active Restraining Orders.
*Dishonorably discharged from the military.
*Aliens – both illegal & under non-immigrant visas.

The National Firearms Act (enacted in 1934) has made registration of the following items a requirement... http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/national-firearms-act-firearms.html#nfa-firearms registration is only a $200 tax stamp per item, however the uniqueness of the items also makes that cost prohibitive. Fully automatic guns average $15,000 for mid-level quality.

To make a meaningful reduction in gun violence (I'm not including suicide in this, even though that accounts for 2/3 of all gun deaths in the US), then we need to concentrate on gangs in large cities.

http://www.freakonomics.com/2008/08/22/whats-your-best-idea-to-cut-gun-deaths-a-freakonomics-quorum/

Also, the previous commentor who mentioned the Harvard/JAMA study? They cautioned that they focused on "ecological and cross-sectional and could not determine cause-and-effect relationship." They also didn't account for the gun culture in different states or # of guns in each state. So a state like MA (where I live), that doesn't have much of a gun culture in the more heavily populated eastern 2/3rds has less guns, and also less gun violence.

Please read the caveats towards the end of these articles about how data for the study was gathered. The level of 'how many gun laws' wasn't validated, some states have multiple laws that might cover the same thing and get counted twice, or they might not prosecute those laws as often as other states.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/science-confirms-obvious-gun-laws-mean-fewer-gun-deaths

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/07/gun-violence-study-chicago/1969227/

Abdul

Posted Thu, May 2, 12:52 p.m. Inappropriate

"After all, we don’t get to drive a car if we have a history of drunk driving,"

Apparently you just moved to Seattle yesterday. Seattle has plenty of multiple DUI offenders killing people, thank you very much.

I agree with Abdul, your short on reality, its going around the Liberal community. In 2010 (DOJ says)80,000 violators of the background check.
Pr3esident Obamas DOJ prosecuted 44, thats it.Enforce existing laws before passing new ones. IF you really care about the problem?

tjp

Posted Thu, May 2, 1:11 p.m. Inappropriate

As long as we have a society where large numbers of people live in constant fear of some sort of evil Other, gun control will not happen.

woofer

Posted Thu, May 2, 2:23 p.m. Inappropriate

Mental health officials need to be empowered to commit dangerous people to mental institutions involuntarily. As long as agitators focus on the machine rather than the perpetrator they will do nothing of value to prevent mass murders. The author's drunk driving analogy argues against his position. We don't address the problem of drunk driving by banning cars.


As for the notion that the push for gun control is analogous to the fight against slavery, those who fought against slavery fought to extend the protections of the Constitution to all Americans. Those who push for banning "assault" rifles and high-capacity magazines have much more dubious aims vis-a-vis our constitutional rights.

dbreneman

Posted Thu, May 2, 4:04 p.m. Inappropriate

2nd amendmenters claim they take a "strict constructionist" approach to the constitution to justify letting almost anyone have any kind of gun they want. Well, they are really following a liberal, "revisionist" approach in saying the 2nd amendment covers modern weapons. As a strict constructionist, we must take "arms" as it would have been understood in the late 18th century - namely muzzloading rifles and pistols, sabers, and those cutesy cannons you see in Revolutionary War Battlefield parks. So let these people have all the muzzleloaders they want, but keep modern arms unknown to our founding fathers under better regulation! Read the Constitution as it was understood, and no how you wish it meant.

Posted Thu, May 2, 4:42 p.m. Inappropriate

That ship has sailed, and you were left whining on the dock. The Heller decision recognized a fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms, and to use them in self defense. The tone of your post makes it clear that you regard your intellect as superior, so maybe you might want to look up the Heller case and read it, if you dare.

I do realize that Seattle "progressives" routinely cannot bear to even recognize, much less consider, viewpoints that they disagree with. But you should make an exception this time. You see, Heller is the law of the land, whether or not you like it. Even if the makeup of the Supreme Court changes, Heller will stay the law of the land for a very long time. So you'd better get used to it.

And then there are the pesky states. More than half of their constitutions have explicit guarantees of the individual right to keep and bear arms. This includes Washington State. You can keep making snide references to muzzle loaders if you want, but it won't matter. You are on the losing side, and you're going to stay there.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 2, 8:44 p.m. Inappropriate

If you'd bother to read the Federalist Papers, the "gloss" on the Constitution, you'll find that the reason for the Second Amendment is that the Founders feared that the federal government would use a standing army to oppress the people in the states. Considering what was going on in Europe at the time (and would continue on for more than 150 years to come) this is not an unreasonable concern. The purpose of the Second Amendment was to give the people to ability (by virtue of their sheer numbers) to put down the federal government's standing army if it became abusive. Considering that The Left has applauded the mayhem that resulted from the "Arab Spring", it's truly astounding that many of that same cohort would wish our government to take from its own citizens the right to engage in exactly the same type of liberation. Of course, there is an alternative. Limit the US military to using "muzzloading [sic] rifles and pistols, sabers, and those cutesy cannons you see in Revolutionary War Battlefield parks" and I'll put in with you.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, May 3, 5:22 p.m. Inappropriate

Then I'm sure you will be the first to support what you refer to as a
"strict constructionist" approach to the First Amendment, which was written in an age of quill pens and lead type, with printing presses that made a single page at a time, pressed by hand. For you to support a "strict constructionist" position you must agree that the Supreme Court cases that extended First Amendment protections from government censorship to Radio and Television broadcasts are in error, and the government therefore is able to censor communications including the one you and I are engaged in, since the internet -- indeed electricity and even the keyboard layout were not even dreamed of at the time the Constitution was ratified.

If that isn't the case, if you believe that the First Amendment honors the right to free speech in whatever medium it is carried, and if prior restraint against that right is a violation of constitutional rights, then you will happily extend that constitutional reasoning to other rights named in the Bill of Rights, including the right to be secure in your papers, to have a trial by a jury of your peers, to be free from double jeopardy, and to keep and bear arms for your own protection and the protection of others.

Posted Thu, May 2, 4:26 p.m. Inappropriate

There isn't a single reason that gun control fails. There are several reasons. Most of them can be laid at the doorstep of Ceasefire and similar organizations.

1. Failure to recognize legal reality, i.e. the Heller decision that ruled that the second amendment to the U.S. constitution recognizes a fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms, and to use them for self-defense.

2. Failure to recognize the reality that there are hundreds of millions of guns in private hands. The gun control lobby's routine portrayals of gun owners as drooling psychotics and of hunters as backwoods rednecks aren't merely insulting, but are manifestly absurd and ridiculous to tens of millions of Americans, many of whom vote.

3. Gross misrepresentation of basic realities regarding guns, i.e., the common blurring of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. It's obvious, often laughably so, that groups like Ceasefire are so phobic about firearms that they haven't bothered to do even basic research. It's hard to trust, or defend, people who are willfully ignorant, and who actually parade their ignorance as some sort of virtue.

4. Refusal to discuss details of their proposals. For example, Ceasefire and other control groups want "expanded" and "universal" background checks, but they utterly refuse to discuss any of the details of those proposals, such as the standards for inclusion in a database of banned persons, or appeal procedures.

5. Rampant bad faith. In Washington State, gun control proponents have recently tried to eviscerate the right of armed self-defense by tearing the guts out of the definition of justifiable homicide, and proposed a measure that would have authorized warrantless searches of gun owners' homes.

I'm no fan of the National Rifle Association, particularly their appeals to far-right-wing paranoia. But the gun control lobby's conduct in the wake of the Connecticut massacre has been every last bit as shameful as the statements of Wayne LaPierre. Ceasefire wants to limit the exercise of a constitutional right. The burden of proof is on them to justify this expansion of government power, and thus far they have done the same sort of miserable job that characterizes other "progressive" actions in city and state government.

Ralph Fascitelli, until you face up to the inexcusable failures on the part of your lobby, you can talk to yourselves and your own allies until you're out of breath, but you will lose the argument. And you will deserve to. For decades I have been a strong proponent of gun control, but after Connecticut I look a close and unbiased look at the issue, and I now find myself in the completely unexpected position of having moved significantly away from the gun control camp.

The usual "progressives" will hoot over this, but look at the polls, and you will see that the gun control lobby has been losing ground in recent months. Instead of being self-righteous about how stupid the public is and how horrible the NRA is, maybe it's time to take a good, long, hard, and honest look at yourselves, Ralph.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 9, 8:57 a.m. Inappropriate

But Heller also recognizes the government's right to restrict guns.

charm

Posted Thu, May 9, 3:01 p.m. Inappropriate

And your point is ...

NotFan

Posted Mon, Aug 26, 2:36 p.m. Inappropriate

No, it doesn't. Heller recognizes the government's INTEREST in restricting both "dangerous and unusual weapons" and "sensitive places" where "arms" should not be allowed. According to them, the "arms" protected by the second amendment are those "in common use for lawful purposes".

I cannot imagine firearms more "in common use for lawful purposes" than the pistol on a police officer's hip, the AR-15 with a 30 round magazine in their trunk, or the shotgun mounted to their dashboard.

As long as an officer has a need for those firearms to rescue the citizenry, I cannot find any justification at all prohibiting those same citizens from possessing the same, or functionally similar arms for their own defense.

The fully automatic arms employed by our military are not generally taken home by soldiers at night. The semi-automatic arms possessed by our law enforcement officers are.

Posted Thu, May 2, 5:06 p.m. Inappropriate

Something else to say.

Gun fatalities are different than drunken driving fatalities, because in many (if not most) cases, gun fatalities are either 1) willfully self-inflicted, as in suicide, or 2) are incidental to situations in which both the perpetrator and the victim are criminals, as in drug gangs. There isn't nearly as large a reservoir of "innocent victims" of gun violence as there is in the drunken driving sympathy lottery.

And then there is the demographic issue. Let's face it, gun fights tend to involve the poor and/or the dark. Once the clucking fades (if it ever started), there isn't much concern, including among Seattle's "progressives," most of whom are self-entitled, white, and upper middle class, and get weepy about this white college girl in Italy or that white anarchist in solitary confinement or that white bicyclist who ran the stop sign and got crushed by an evil S.U.V. With drunken driving deaths, there are enough white middle class victims to go around. With gun deaths, cases are usually messy and faces darker, the occasionally spree killing notwithstanding.

So I really don't think a focus on victims, a la MADD, is going to pay off. I'd really suggest different approaches based on my other posting about what gun control groups are doing wrong. But I quite strongly doubt you'll do any meaningful examination of your own approach, so I'm fairly confident there'll be a hand-wringing Ceasefire existing 50 years from now, begging for a crumb or two and wondering why so few people will see the light.

And Ralph, be honest. That's good news. You've got as much job security as anyone out there. So, in the interest of feeding your family, keep up the good work.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 3, 10:57 a.m. Inappropriate

-NotFan: Ceasefire is dedicated to reducing gun violence in Washington State. You are a critic who states you are for control. Do you have positive suggestions to add, rather than simply tearing down our efforts to educate the public about its safety? As far as I know, we have never criticized hunters or licensed and responsible gun owners.
What do you think would work to help educate our citizenry?

Mojo

mojo

Posted Fri, May 3, 11:37 a.m. Inappropriate

By noting your movement's failures and misrepresentations, I gave you clear, detailed ideas. You obviously didn't consider them, just as I predicted. I am increasingly convinced that the gun control lobby has no interest in achieving its stated goals, because doing so might threaten a lot of insiders' jobs.

As I wrote in the previous comment, keep up the good work, because it'll insure that you'll be here in another 50 years. If you can't find ideas in what I wrote, then you are simply not looking. And I think you're not looking because you're quite comfortable standing waaaaaaay off to the side and playing your guitar, so to speak.

Continuing the analogy, if you need to have someone sing Kumbaya while they gently avoid telling you the obvious truth, with is how hamfisted and, quite frankly, really pretty dumb, your approach has been, then what you really need to do is grow up and get a thicker skin. The NRA knows what they're doing. You don't have a clue. I'm embarrassed for you.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 3, 1:14 p.m. Inappropriate

"What do you think would work to help educate our citizenry?"

One smart-alecky answer is to have them read history. No country ever became a dictatorship because automobiles were confiscated.

A more realistic one would be to offer them a chance to fill out the federal firearms form 4473 and discover all the intrusive info the government requires. Besides the gun's serial number, they want the owner's name, address, date and place of birth, height, weight, race, etc.

This site http://www.ocshooters.com/Gen/Form-4473/ATF-Form-4473.htm

has the 2005 version. Just for drill, print it out, sit down and make all the required entries - and realize that under the proposed "universal" background check EVERY buyer would have to fill out one of these forms. Now tell me this is not the precursor to future confiscation - you can't seize 'em 'til you know who has 'em and where they are. Since the criminal element won't do this, how was that law going to prevent crime or violence?

A third suggestion would be to burn the following into the public minds:
1. Treat all firearms as if they were loaded.
2. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

These four will go a LONG way in educating the public in gun safety.

oatka

Posted Fri, May 3, 4:13 p.m. Inappropriate

I honestly wonder whether or not the gun control movement is interested in gun safety. Seems to me that gun safety is a big threat to their core message, which is that guns are radioactive and anyone who has one is a psychopathic killer.

Ceasefire, et. al., are the flip side of the N.R.A. in this respect. Both sides are partners in paranoia, feeding off of each other. One wants you to fear that the government will be battering down your door, and the other wants you to be deathly scared of getting anywhere near a gun or someone who owns one.

Both sets of images say virtually nothing about the real-life dimensions of gun ownership and regulation. But they are effective in shaking the money tree.

NotFan

Posted Tue, May 7, 10:17 a.m. Inappropriate

This last week alone, we had 3 kids under 8 shoot other children.
your list seems to be missing a few numbers-
5. Dont give your children guns.
6. Dont assume 5 year olds can understand, or follow, rules 1 thru 4
7. Dont assume 20 year olds can understand, or follow, rules 1 thru 4- every week, we have a dozen or more "law abiding gunowners", legal adults, who shoot themselves, or their wives, friends, or neighbors, because they cant comprehend, or remember, your first 4 rules. Some of these people this week include:
Fred Peterson, Mn NRA instructor, who shot himself in the hand.
Man driving home from Sportco in Fife, pulls over to admire his newly purchased gun, shoots himself in leg.
Puyallup man, while cleaning gun, "forgets" its loaded, shoots thru wall into neighbors apartment.
Michelle Wanko, Parksvide Pa. accidentally shoots husband with the gun he was teaching her to use to protect herself- they were both drunk, at 3:30 AM, when this happened. Husband died.
Wisconsin town ASST. Police Chief shoots himself in leg in squad car.
Off duty cop in Iowa lets friend see gun and "it just went off" shooting friend in hand.

There are a couple dozen or more incidents like this every week- injuries, deaths, and near misses, from people who have had your rules burned into their minds, many of them LEO's, former military, and well trained "responsible gun owners". And yet, idiocy, accidents, and casual attitudes rear their ugly heads in the nicest of homes...

Ries

Posted Wed, May 8, 4:43 p.m. Inappropriate

And your point is ...

NotFan

Posted Wed, May 8, 5:41 p.m. Inappropriate

My point is that simply proclaiming that gun safety, or common sense, must somehow be "burned" into the minds of the public doesnt work.
Any idiot can, and does, have access to a gun today. And they proceed to shoot themselves, their families, their neighbors, and all that is not even criminals- thats the law abiding idiots.

Every day, trained professionals shoot themselves, have accidents, or their guns "just go off".

We need better training, better weapons (the NRA has consistently fought against any safety device built into a gun) and better regulation of who gets a gun, and when.

I have to carry a million dollar liability policy to go on a jobsite with a crescent wrench- but my 19 year old kid could carry an AR- 15, with no training, into a party most anywhere in Washington State, totally legally.
If I wanted to drive a Semi, I would need regular medical checkups, training, testing, and insurance. But I can own 100 firearms with none of that, and pass em around to my neighbors kids, or clean em without remembering to unload em, totally legally.

The second Amendment says "well regulated".

I have no problem with gun ownership- I just think it should be a responsibility that must be accompanied by consequences if it is misused, and would favor a graduated system of gun licensing, with virtually anyone able to get a bolt action rifle or a standard shotgun, and then a higher level of training, and, possibly, insurance, for a semi-auto pistol, revolver, or semi-auto long gun. And then, a yet higher level of training and testing for a full auto weapon. (I realize that in Washington State, fully automatic weapons are not allowed, but in most States in the US, they are legal, providing you have a proper license)

Much like drivers licenses, there should be retesting as you age, and confiscation if you commit certain crimes.

Ries

Posted Thu, May 9, 3:07 p.m. Inappropriate

If your point is that people have accidents with guns, it's a blindingly obvious point.

From reading what you've written, it's obvious to me that, in fact, you DO have a "problem with gun ownership." You regard gun owners as idiots, and want rules tight enough to make gun ownership pointless. You somehow think that your ulterior motive won't be apparent, when in fact it couldn't be more obvious.

Frankly, I see it as positive that you've written what you did. Your views fairly represent those of pro-control groups like "Ceasefire," whose very name betrays an underlying viewpoint that gun owners are dangerous psychopaths on the loose.

Keep up the good work, because it will insure that your gun control dreams will never come true.

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 4, 6:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Dear Ralph:

What is a sure sign that your efforts are doomed to failure? It's when a commenter such as myself agrees with the commenter known as "NotFan" on every single point that he makes, for all the same reasons.

I am as about as "left" is it gets here, and I consider the gun control movement, and its representatives like yourself, to be every bit as dogmatic, single-minded, faith-based, and unwilling to face reality, as the anti-choice movement -- the fetus fascists -- are toward women's reproductive rights.

Both movements are trying to suppress a basic individual civil liberty here, one that people will never stop fighting you to maintain, no matter what laws might or might not be passed. We all might agree that it would be better for society if gun violence were to decrease. There is no chance whatever that we will agree on how that is to happen. I see no chance whatever that your efforts will bring that about. And it's as plain to me as the nose on my face that you will not succeed.

ivan

Posted Mon, Aug 26, 2:42 p.m. Inappropriate

I'd like to point out that left and right are not hard and fast positions on gun control.

The Greater Seattle Area is a very blue area. The three counties surrounding Seattle are blue and populous enough alone, to pretty much turn the State blue in Presidential elections. I live pretty much in the middle of that area. And I couldn't begin to count the number of public shooting ranges, let alone gun stores.

I was talking to someone a few months back who was getting his first pistol. He had the same assumptions, only to find out his political party affiliations were at times more common than the Republicans at the range we were at.

Posted Sun, May 5, 2:48 p.m. Inappropriate

"School shootings represent only a small fraction of gun deaths. More than 90 percent of the 31,000 annual gun fatalities trace to suicide, domestic violence or gangs. These three societal issues typically carry with them, for better or worse, some element of shame for the families involved — shame that stymies loved ones from organizing and taking a proactive stance in addressing the issue for the benefit of future generations."

Steadily diminishing respect for human life parallels steadily diminishing commonality of responsibility. David Kennedy never loses sight of that common denominator, nor do those who successfully make use of the Don't Shoot approach he founded. Applications that overlook the common denominator or fall back upon "let George do it" are hardly more successful than gun control. How Peoria's will fare remains a very open question.

http://dontshootpeoria.com/latest

afreeman

Posted Mon, May 6, 2:33 p.m. Inappropriate

One proof of the demagoguery and hypocrisy of the "lets disarm law abiding citizens crowd" is that when a terrorist detonates a bomb, the terrorist is blamed. Conversely, when a mass murder or gang banger kills with a gun, the gun is invariably blamed. Both types of weapons are inanimate objects.

BillL

Posted Tue, May 7, 12:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Every criminal was born a "law abiding citizen". All it takes, as the song goes, is One Step Over the Line...

Ries

Posted Mon, Aug 26, 2:45 p.m. Inappropriate

And they remain a "law abiding citizen" until they do take that step over the line.

Due Process does not allow us to remove their rights just because they MIGHT take that step, no matter how much we disagree with their positions.

If that were the case, we could end all homicide by incarcerating every man, woman, and child in the United states, while maintaining our population via in vitro fertilization.

Posted Thu, May 9, 3:28 p.m. Inappropriate

I think you are under-estimating the clout of the NRA. Look at it this way: For the most fearful, anti-social, and violent people in our society, a gun is among their most important possessions. Under better circumstances, these folks would direct their fear and anger randomly. However, the NRA is a powerful organizing force to provide cohesion for their negative energy.

I am sure you must know a number of elected officials who have worked on gun control issues. Whenever any of them speak up, they get a rash of violent threats made against them. Of course most of these aren't serious, but you never know when one of them is. To protect your safety and that of your family, it's better to keep your head down and do what they say, live to fight another day.

Someone recently commented that the NRA is a terrorist organization, and in a certain way, this is true. Just like al Qaeda, the NRA doesn't often pull the trigger, but instead motivates independent actors to do the dirty work. The NRA Board understood this when it elected its new rabble-rousing leadership.

Posted Sun, May 12, 3:56 a.m. Inappropriate

I'm sure it makes you feel nice and squishy and smug and self-righteous to say what you did, even if it's outrageously untrue. But what it also does is help perpetuate an approach to gun control that has doomed your efforts for several decades.

So go right ahead and portray tens of millions of Americans as fearful, anti-social and violent. It's a oh so persuasive, just not persuasive in the way you imagine. Who knows, maybe the N.R.A. has a stealth lobbying wing that plants ridiculous comments like yours on websites as a means of spreading a caricature of gun control advocates?

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 12, 6:44 a.m. Inappropriate

The real reason for the push for gun control is that an armed United States Citizenry scares the crap out of the wealthy. The wealthy also see an armed Citizenry as getting in their way. The wealthy have systematically been screwing over the United States Citizenry with outsourcing, insourcing, thievery (led to bailouts), and crony compacts with corrupt politicians.

There is a point at which the wealthy screwing over the Citizenry will go to far. The wealthy know that, and they know that the Citizens the wealthy have caused to be in poverty, and who have nothing left to lose, might go hunting for wealthy people.

The one thing that the wealthy cannot use money for is to insulate themselves from the threat of a Citizen they screwed over blowing their head off. Take one of the loudest, most frantic, gun control advocates, New York Mayor Bloomberg. Everywhere he goes he has armed guards, yet he wishes to ban all guns (except of course for armed guards). Bloomberg touts the New York city gun ban, but always neglects to mention that there are special gun licenses that may be purchased by the wealthy in New York City.

Gun control is about removing guns from the hands of only non-wealthy Citizens. The wealthy know how they have been screwing over Citizens, and they know when Citizens find out the extent of this screwing over, that some wealthy people will be shot.

Personally, I do not care if the wealthy get shot. Take a look at neo-liberalism, the wealthy have premeditatedly worked to diminish the standard of living for United States Citizens for a generation. That is what neo-liberalism is. The billionaires living in Rodney Tom territory are neo-liberals.

The wealthy are scared to death of some person they impoverished walking up to them and killing them. There is nothing the wealthy can do about it. Their money can not control the pissed off screwed over person with a gun. That is why there is the push for gun control. It turns out to really be fascism promoted by the wealthy, most of whom are neo-liberal fascists. little different from the privileged classes in Nazi Germany.

I am also starting to hear the Nazi term "useless eaters", and similiar fascist terms.

You want to know how to significantly reduce gun deaths? Work toward having a just society where merit matters more than class, and no Citizen is in poverty; instead of the caste system the wealthy are creating in the United States, and globally.

jhande

Posted Mon, May 13, 6:59 p.m. Inappropriate

You know, what I would characterize as the "gun grabber" crowd is always so disappointing. Everything they envision as progress in society is always done through government--pass another law. I mean, have you ever watched a politician talk, it's just laughable that their knee jerk response to a real problem like gun violence is to rely on that crowd.

Anyway, I thought the vibe of a couple comments and the article itself sort of matched my main gun freedom theme I often think about, so here's my take.

"IF" all the energy and enthusiasm and apparent law-and-order-focus of our gun-control friends was harnessed into a non-government approach to solving the problem of these young white men doing mass killings, what could it look like (and yes I understand the bulk of the numbers are actually suicides and drug turf warfare, but let's continue to suspend reality for purposes of actually using this gun control energy to positive use).

More funding for mental health? Wait, I said non-government. Armed guards in government schools? Oh wait, again. Huh, appears the conservatives have the same problem--government solves everything, right?

OK, how about this, we have a culture problem where violence is glorified, the "education system" is leaving a trail of broken uneducated children, and the supposed mental health system dumps a bunch of apparently useless pills into children while slapping a permanent "weird" label on those who need guidance. Chivalry, honor, protecting children and the elderly, facing one's fears and responsibilities, living for a higher purpose than video games, hope for the future... isn't this some of the stuff that's missing??

So, maybe some of these movies aren't just fun and games, maybe they're a little gross and we need to be brave enough to say so. Maybe it is a "sin" to waste your life in front of the TV screen playing beep beep games, and that opinion should be common currency in our culture (sounds like the Sandy Hook guy was ringing up game points, if you hadn't heard), maybe some of the protagonists in our culture should not be gangstas but maybe instead could be "good guys", maybe some of the religious teachings have some merit, maybe the mental health and education guilds need to be challenged over their failures, and so on. Why is rage and publicity such a draw for these guys, do we have a TV culture fail? "Something" we (as a unit, as Americans, as modern western youtube watching humans) have going on is wrong, maybe we don't need new laws and rather need different values and a different take on how we treat others and what is important in life? To put it more harshly, maybe some of the "givens" in our current culture are having some unacceptable side effects? Doing this is a big job, real big, but maybe if Bloomberg and the rest of you should stop wasting your energy on gun control, if you do it right the NRA would join you. Can you imagine?? You know, this sort of cultural change was successfully done by the baby boomer crowd back in the day, it can be done again.

What is crazy is none of this is being discussed, and yet isn't this the heart of the real solution? I dream of an alternate universe where Obama had been a leader instead of such a predictable manifestation of "the man". Unfortunately for that sort, there is no problem which can't be solved by restricting someone's freedom.

By the way, all you statists out there always in favor of passing laws to achieve your particular vision of utopia (conservative or liberal), it will get us all in the end. Liberty is worthwhile across the board and, even if it means allowing us rednecks to have our guns, it really is "us" against "them", they are politically powerful and have a whole different idea of what they want to do with the nation-state-- Don't let them sucker you in to helping them, you will regret what you gave them the power to do. I always laugh when I hear a liberal complain about George W. going to war in Iraq, I mean, you really thought it would always be YOUR guy who was elected and used your huge government the way YOU wanted, haha.

Posted Mon, Aug 26, 2:02 p.m. Inappropriate

This article is full of half truths, and half falsehoods.

Gun control does not fail becuase of the NRA. Nor does it fail because of a lack of grass roots organizations. Long before MomsDemand, Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns or Gabby Giffords groups sprang up, we've had The Brady Campaign, and The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

The organizations on both sides of this issue have been, and are still out there. And they will remain out there in this deadlock until the legislators go so far as their mandate allows, and no further.

In Washington State we had a legislator attempt to go beyond the background check mandate to include warrantless searches of peoples homes.

In Washington DC, the legislation went so far beyond the sale of a gun, it criminalized the normal behavior of people engaged in a gun-related activity. The 90% of people who approve the generic idea of "background checks" would not continue to approve of arresting some guy who moves a box in your trunk, when you both carpool to a rifle range before hunting season. The bill in DC was so bad, even a traditionally less than gun-friendly organization like the ACLU made noise over what they called the "criminal justice traps" in the legislation.

Additionally, as part of the half-truths cited in this article, strict gun legislation does not work. Nor does it not-not-work. When you take the Department of Justice's figures for homicide, and compare them to the census records to get a per-capita rate to be able to compare apples to apples - (After all more populous states will just have more homicides)- the presence of Shall Issue vs May Issue concealed carry permits, or assault weapons bans, magazine limits, and so on, do not measurably increase or decrease the homicide rate. Only SIX of the twenty states with the lowest rate had these more restrictive gun laws. SEVEN of the twenty states with the highest homicide rate had these restrictive laws.

In actuality, the most common uniting factor for high or low homicide rates was geography. Being located along the East Coast from DC through the South, across the southern border to California was a far more likely indicator of a high homicide rate than gun laws.

I'd also like to point out our illustrious author quotes a statistic about the United States accounting for 80% of the firearms deaths in the wealthiest 23 countries in the world. Nevermind that he doesn't compare the total homicides in those countries. Some have banned guns, making the entire study something of a tautology without including other homicide methodology. It would be akin to pointing out that when polling every gun owner in the United States, zero would report being killed by a firearm.

Posted Wed, Aug 28, 2:07 p.m. Inappropriate

I find the comparison of gun violence to auto deaths to be completely flawed unless you compare the laws governing each as well. When you propose "universal background checks" as "common sense" law, I submit , you first apply the same "common sense" to automobile sales. Let's take the same legal approach to controlling automobiles and require a background check for all automobile sales? By prohibiting private sales of autos to those with a DUI in their background, wouldn't we also reduce the amount of automobile deaths by eventually getting cars out of the hands of those who would commit the preponderance of automobile deaths? I would offer that the potential bad driver can be identified by requiring all drivers to submit to the same level of background check currently required to buy a gun. It should look at a driver's potential for mental instability behind the wheel, past driving history, felony records, DUI's, domestic violence (probably someone who's prone to road rage too).

You point out the reduction in automobile deaths is atributed to the increase in automobile safety features yet avoid any discussion of removing at-risk drivers from behind the wheel. But your approach to guns is to separate guns from at-risk owners without discussing ways to make gun ownership safer. It's as if your thesis is, guns can never be safe and all owners are at risk and therefore, we need steps towards getting all guns out of circulation. A, that will never happen and B, you would also stop all automobile deaths be getting all autos out of circulation. That is not practical and neither is a gun ban.

So, my bottom line is, before you jump on the "guns are more dangerous than cars" band wagon, ask yourself if you would submit to a background check to buy a car first.

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