Open Thread for Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Washington Post unveiled a spiffy new browser interface today. Not sure I like it -- I think I could see more headlines on the screen with the old one.

The Washington Post unveiled a spiffy new browser interface today. Not sure I like it — I think I could see more headlines on the screen with the old one.

A few things to talk about:

  1. U.S. Stocks Close Sharply Higher in Global Rally — That’s the good news. Figured you could use some.
  2. Austria Finds Up to 50 Bodies in Truck Left on Side of Road — And all those Trump supporters think we have an immigration problem in this country. Take a look at this map showing all the ways people are flowing into Europe.
  3. Possible Biden run puts Obama fundraising network on high alert — Here’s the really fascinating fact in this report: Of the 770 fund-raisers who helped Obama’s 2012 campaign, only 52 are working for Hillary. Did you realize how much of the Democratic establishment wasn’t on board with Ms. Inevitable? Neither did I. So James Smith was right in what he told me. And Chris Cillizza kind of has egg on his face for having reported that “It’s too late” for Biden because “virtually every major fundraiser in the party — including many who were once Biden people — is now on Clinton’s team.” Assuming this report is the one that’s right. Very intriguing.
  4. Trump speaks to ‘silent majority’ in SC campaign stop — So now he’s Nixon? Did he bring Checkers with him? From what I’ve read of this report, what he had to say was all the usual stuff.
  5. Virginia shooting sparks renewed calls for gun control but old obstacles remain — In yet another example of how people in other countries just marvel over our tolerance for gun violence, this is leading The Guardian while U.S. media outlets have moved on.

42 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, August 27, 2015

  1. Cynthia Hardy

    Hey Brad—
    Hope you’re well. Are you available Wednesday morning September 2 at 9am? I want to have a discussion about gun control issues for the taping of OnPoint on WACH. Mental health/illness is also on most people’s minds after the TV reporters shooting. I guess I’ll keep thinking about whether to do both issues in one show.
    We would love to interview you.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Brad’s actually pretty rational. We all wish that bad things wouldn’t happen, but I think he’s enough of a realist to understand certain things and he can think clearly without needing to push an agenda.

        He could maybe use a little more gun education, but so could a lot of good folks.

        1. Mark Stewart

          I’m all for gun control, of just about every flavor.

          However, between the two rights, the rights of the mentally ill are most likely the ones to be limited. And with that we are going to have to make a concerted effort to both help people and protect society.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Helping people with mental illnesses will protect society at large. There’s a lot of room for improvement in how we deal with people who have mental health issues. In relation to firearms, it’s tricky.

            Take the shooter in Virginia. By all accounts, he was someone who everyone walked on eggshells around, he had sued his employers for discrimination or some such stuff, and he was easily offended, all of which resulted in him being fired.

            Now, that’s certainly not an ideal employee, but I don’t know if that’s “crazy”. Maybe that’s just “being a jerk”. Obviously anyone who will shoot two former co-workers is kinda crazy, but that’s not really helpful as a predictive indicator.

            Accordingly, this guy passed both a federal (and state) background check because he hadn’t been committed or anything. By the way, Virginia has it’s own, independent background check that it does in addition to the federal one. Yeah, that’s just like what Sen. Kimpson proposed here in SC. However, as we now see, the extra background check didn’t stop the guy from getting a gun because being a jerk isn’t a disqualifier.

            Anyone arguing for “universal background checks” as some sort of solution just isn’t paying attention. It’s a tough problem, because there are lots of people who are jerks and hotheads, who probably shouldn’t have a gun. However, you can’t prohibit people from having a gun just because they’re a jerk or a hothead. It’s tough. There’s no simple answer.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Bryan says, “you can’t prohibit people from having a gun just because they’re a jerk or a hothead.”

              Do you mean “can’t” because it would be wrong to try, or “can’t” in that it would be logistically difficult?

              Because I think that, for the safety of society, we most certainly SHOULD try to deny guns to jerks and hotheads, even ahead of the mentally ill, who are more often harmless.

              But there’s a problem with administering such a program, starting with reliably identifying said jerks and hotheads…

              1. Bryan Caskey

                “Do you mean “can’t” because it would be wrong to try, or “can’t” in that it would be logistically difficult?”

                The latter. I think it would be logistically difficult, to the point of impossibility. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t let jerks and hotheads have guns. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t let a lot of things happen.

                But the world isn’t ideal, and we’re never going to legislate/regulate it into perfection.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  And here’s a problem that I think worries a lot of people who want more gun control, and who fear that the 2nd Amendment is interpreted too broadly. Or at least, it worries me if not them.

                  It’s something that one doesn’t often hear articulated, because it’s a delicate subject.

                  It is this: That sometimes it seems that the people who are most adamant about asserting their 2nd Amendment right are people who are, not to put too fine a point on it… jerks and hotheads.

                  I’m talking about people who go to public events obviously packing heat, just to press a point. I’m talking about people get to talking about how they just KNOW that that Obama is coming after their guns, and boy will he be sorry… OK, maybe those people fit in the mentally ill category, rather than the “jerks and hotheads” one.

                  But the problem I’m speaking of is not that we have a 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, but that the people who are most fiercely committed to the principle seem to be, shall we say, wound a little tight?

                  Is this striking a chord of recognition with anyone?

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I think a lot of us hesitate to bring up this point because, you know, the people we’re talking about pack heat, and do not seem overly patient with folks who disagree with them…

                3. Kathryn Fenner

                  Except Bryan, who is the poster child for responsible gun advocacy.
                  I foolishly engaged in a string of comments on Facebook with a “friend” of my nephew…yet again, another example of someone who is the last person I’d want to have a gun. Not terribly rational, not able to comprehend simple statements, given to hyperbole and apparently very tightly wound.
                  I’d be glad to let Bryan own all the guns he wants, but this guy: nope nope nope.
                  I doubt this guy has anything like a diagnosable condition. I don’t think Dylann Roof has anything in DSM-howevermany. A lot of these shooters seem to have personality issues, rather than true mental illnesses. They are not hallucinating. They do not hear voices egging them on. The most likely illness could be bipolar. Mostly, they have a variety of personality disorders.

                4. Bryan Caskey

                  “I’d be glad to let Bryan own all the guns he wants…”

                  Ha! If only my wife would say that!

                5. Scout

                  I think this is very true. When I heard the details of Dylann Roof’s life, what we know of them, it made me think that the bigger story here, for me, anyway is how many lost kids like him there are. Kids from broken homes shuffled between schools constantly – kids that potentially grow up without any decent stable adult relationship in their life, who are constantly seeking to fill that void. Some of them fill it with gangs, with alcohol and drugs, with ISIS, or other hate group messages, like Dylann Roof did. They don’t all become violent but there are a lot of lost kids in SC who are vulnerable to be taken in by something. The culture of poverty creates lots of these children. Drug/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and constant moving around are more common in this population and we have a lot of this population. Teacher’s can make a difference and be a stable relationship for these kids but only if the kid stays in a given school long enough. (Even though some people think funding any additional bodies in schools for interventions of any sort, which build relationships, is useless because it shows no results (that they can see)). But many of these kids move around so frequently, the relationships just don’t happen. I don’t have an answer to this, but it’s a problem.

                6. Kathryn Fenner

                  Well, I agree with you. The answer is multi-faceted. We can do a lot more to facilitate strong families: quality, affordable child care, living wages for full time work, housing affordable to people working full time, quality early childhood education, universal education that understands that everyone doesn’t learn the same way–and beyond….but there will still be some people who slip through the cracks, so drastically reducing the availability of guns is still a priority.

                7. Bryan Caskey

                  What do we do for people like the journalist who shot his two former colleagues? Don’t really feel like he slipped through the cracks in our society’s safety net.

                  I guess we could ban journalists from owning guns.

                8. Kathryn Fenner

                  I think we need to make it a whole lot harder for people not in a well-ordered militia to get any firearms not primarily suitable for hunting. The VA shooter was not likely to get caught in any background check, nor would Dylann Roof, had he not been caught, by chance, with drugs earlier. I don’t think any of the social remedies I and others propose to “heal” society would have caught either of them, so the best chance we have is to make it exceedingly difficult for anyone to get a gun without a dang good reason, as they do in Europe and Canada, places with far, far fewer gun deaths and mass shootings.

                9. Bryan Caskey

                  “I think we need to make it a whole lot harder for people not in a well-ordered militia to get any firearms not primarily suitable for hunting.”

                  Legal Issue: You’re going to have to repeal the Second Amendment to do that. Heller and Miller explicitly state that the “militia’ is all able-bodied males capable of acting for the common defense”. The militia exists as the people.

                  Hunting Issue: “Primarily suitable for hunting” is kind of a weird standard. I assume you would want to ban a rifle that can fire a round that will penetrate level II (the common LEO kind) body armor from a few hundred yards. Right? What justification could someone have for a rifle like that? Oh, yeah. It’s the Remington 700 chambered in .30-06.

                  Rifles that can bring down a moose, a bear, or a cape buffalo, are going to eat body armor up all day, every day.

                  On the flip side of that coin, my Springfield XD/S has almost zero “suitability for hunting”. It’s only really good for carrying and (for me) shots less than 30 yards. Accordingly, it’s an excellent CWP choice. So, if you’re going to say that I’m “not in the militia” then I guess I need to turn this in, right? I guess the 1911 that I want to buy is a “no-go” as well, since you can’t really hunt with it.

                  What about the eeeevill AR-15 that everyone wants to ban? Well, you can hunt rabbit, coyotes, hogs, and other small varmints with it. So, does it get an exemption?

                  On a practical level, you’d have to both repeal the Second Amendment, then pass a federal law. Essentially, it would be the Volstead Act, but for firearms. Then, you’d have to enforce that federal law. But unlike the Volstead Act, you would really have to enforce it. You’d have to send police on neighborhood to neighborhood, house to house raids for years. Maybe states like New Jersey would go willingly. You want to try it in Louisiana?

                  There are somewhere between 300 – 350 million guns in the United States. You can’t get them back. I always get a chuckle when someone finishes talking about the illegal immigration problem by saying “You can’t deport 11 million people!” and then they advocate for the “Australian gun plan” which is essentially a confiscation of 300 something million pieces of personal property that are explicitly protected by the Constitution and are scattered across the United States.

                  Once again, we have a criminal problem, not a gun problem. Let’s look at the Brits, though.

                  Britain banned handguns in January 1997. Not only did the homicide rate go up, but it jumped quite dramatically. For the period between 1999 and 2004 the homicide rate jumped from 11.6 to 18 per million people. From 2004-2010 there is just as dramatic a drop as the previous years. I can’t tell you why the rate went up and why it went down, but I can tell you that it seems that the rate is moving independently of the factor of the gun ban. Basically, crime will happen for a large variety of reasons. You can’t simply boil it down to one single factor.

                  So, you have have to look at all the factors. Amount of police, culture, economics, demographics, etc. It’s also worth noting that both Australia and the the Brits have historically always had relatively low homicide rates compared to the USA, so maybe there are other factors at work.

                  Tune in at 7:00PM on the radio to 95.9FM to hear more. I’ve been told that they’ll have someone there advocating for gun control. Hopefully, we’ll have a lively debate.

                10. bud

                  The graphic is misleading. The right axis doesn’t start at zero but instead at 10. This is a classic tactic used by many on all sides of any political argument to exaggerate a change. (As they say, lies, damn lies and statistics).

                  Still, it’s fair to say there was an obvious spike in 2003, 6 years after the ban. That’s more of a statistical aberration than anything else given the already low homicide rate. I would guess that the Brits had pretty tough gun laws even before an outright ban. But even at 18 homicides per million population Britain is still far, far lower than in the US. The latest stats for 2012 show a homicide rate of 10 per million in Britain, less than 1/4 the US rate of 45/million (per the FBI uniform crime report). Not sure how you can compare a handgun free nation with a homicide rate 1/4 that of a nation without such a ban and conclude that the handgun legal nation is doing a better job at reducing it’s murder rate.

                11. Bryan Caskey

                  I didn’t create the graph. However, it does show (as you concede) that the rate goes up and down quite a bit after the ban.

                  My point, old chap, is that that the murder rate is not singularly driven by the presence or absence of guns. It doesn’t even really seem to correlate.

                  Also, as you point out, the murder rate in Britain is historically much, much lower than in the USA, even before the Brits banned handguns. There’s more at work here than just whether guns are available or not.

                12. Karen Pearson

                  The psychiatric term for “jerks” and “hot heads” is “individuals with personality disorders.”
                  —Ms. Politically Correct

                  BTW, if you buy that “signature” I’ve got some wonderful land to sell you in South Georgia, right next to a famous character!

                13. Norm Ivey

                  I grew up in Arizona where seeing a gun in a holster was relatively common back in the 1970s. A couple of summers ago when we visited the Grand Canyon, we found a great little restaurant that served the best breakfast and ate there ebvery morning. Our last morning there a fellow came in wearing a gun on his hip. My bride commented on how uncomfortable it made her feel. I explained that he wasn’t the one to be concerned about. It was the guys who stockpile; not collect, but stockpile weapons that cause me concern. They’re the ones looking for an excuse to use their weapons against their fellow man. If your reason for owning a gun is sport–hunting, target shooting and such, you don’t worry me at all. Those who own weapons primarily for the purpose of self defense against the exceedingly rare home invasion don’t concern me. It’s the paranoid ones that I don’t want to upset.

                  Biden’s response in 2008 was on target, so to speak.

                14. Kathryn Fenner

                  I think we need to revisit the “well-ordered militia” clause. We are allowing people who are in no respect well-ordered to easily acquire all the guns they want.

                15. Barry

                  in an ideal world, jerks and hotheads wouldn’t be allowed to get drunk or drive a car- or even buy one in some cases.

                  jerks wouldn’t be allowed to have kids.

                  Maybe when we solve the problem of people not caring about their children, we can move on to “jerks” not being allowed to drive cars.

                  This list could go on and on

                16. Kathryn Fenner

                  Well, The State certainly thinks we need to do more to stop jerks and hotheads from driving however they want….

            2. Scout

              “By the way, Virginia has it’s own, independent background check that it does in addition to the federal one. Yeah, that’s just like what Sen. Kimpson proposed here in SC. However, as we now see, the extra background check didn’t stop the guy from getting a gun because being a jerk isn’t a disqualifier………..However, you can’t prohibit people from having a gun just because they’re a jerk or a hothead. It’s tough. There’s no simple answer.”

              I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion. What are the details of Virginia’s independent background check and the one Sen. Kimpson proposed? Are they really just alike? The details can make a difference. Maybe neither would be sufficient, but just the fact of it being labeled an additional background check doesn’t tell alot without knowing the details.

              I do agree that there is probably not a simple answer. But I’d like to think there would be something that could done that would filter out more volatile personalities in addition to truly mentally ill. Maybe some sort of virtual real time screening test designed to push your buttons in addition to a records review.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          The comment that you were responding to with this one was from a person who is banned on the blog, using yet another pseudonym. Nevertheless, I appreciate the vote of confidence for my sanity…

    1. Brad Warthen

      Cynthia, I’d love to, but that timing might be hard for me. I’m conducting a seminar (on blogging) for a client that starts at 10:30, and I need to be there early to set up my laptop and such. Is that 9 a.m. taping time flexible?

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Yeah, I considered that….he tells himself he needs to be there by nine so he can actually be ready by 10:30.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Ahem. Taping starts at 9. OK, so it runs until when? 10? Then I have to get from the TV studio to my client’s offices.

          And the next time I’ve set up my laptop to operate on some strange wifi network and have it go smoothly will be the first time. Or close to it.

          See the problem?

          But my bigger anxiety is this: I have a lot of work left to do on this presentation. Nevertheless, I should have it ready by end of day Monday or sometime Tuesday.

          But what if various obstacles that I can’t foresee come up to prevent that (such as today, when I lost at least two hours to connectivity problems, both at the office and, when I gave up at the office and went work at home, at home, too)? What if I’m still scrambling Wednesday morning? It could happen…

  2. Bryan Caskey

    When Hillary’s poll numbers get low enough, the Democratic Party is going to step in. They’re interested in winning the election. It’s not personal. Hillary is a means to an end for many in the party. If Biden becomes the better bet in the polls and stays there, Hillary’s done.

    “You’re taking this very personal. Tom, this is business and this man is taking it very, very personal.”

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    Statistically, restricting gun ownership correlates with reduced gun crimes. We can argue that theoretically it shouldn’t/won’t, etc., but it has repeatedly been shown to do so—in the U.S., where there are already so many guns out there. Several US cities, including D.C., have done so, and gun crimes went down—until the N.R.A. and SCOTUS stopped the restrictions.

  4. bud

    Here are some interesting statistics from DHEC regarding firearms deaths in SC between 1997 and 2013. Homicide deaths are relatively flat (with 2000 as an outlier. For some reason there were a lot of “unknown” homicide methods that year).

    Accidental deaths are pretty low, typically accounting for only about 3-4% of all firearms related deaths. Consequently not a whole lot of safety benefit is likely to come from increased firearms safety education programs. Probably the only thing that would be accomplished with additional gun education would be to increase interest in firearms and hence add to the growing number of weapons.

    But look at suicide deaths. The 2013 figure is 64% above the 1999 figure. All 3 of the last 3 years are above 400 whereas none of the prior years was. Could this be related to increased PTSD from our soldiers coming back from ME wars?

    Firearms deaths in SC (from DHEC)
    Year homicide suicide accident
    2013 241 470 15
    2012 278 430 26
    2011 251 421 23
    2010 232 387 22
    2009 232 371 18
    2008 250 341 14*
    2007 254 310 15*
    2006 270 319 16*
    2005 233 312 34*
    2004 218 328 16
    2003 236 336 15
    2002 231 313 20
    2001 229 310 17
    2000 166 298 17
    1999 221 286 32
    1998 230 320 31
    1997 231 303 21

    * It appears that for the years 2005-2008 DHEC inadvertently switched drownings and firearms deaths since drowning deaths are typically 2-4 times higher. For those years between 59 and 77 deaths were recorded in the firearms column. I used the figures in the drowning column for these years.


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