The NYT’s front-page editorial about guns

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We knew that the New York Daily News was conducting a rather lurid campaign against guns on its tabloid front, but things have taken a significant new turn in a more respectable direction.

The Gray Lady, The New York Times itself, has published its first front-page editorial since 1920, headlined, “End the Gun Epidemic in America.”

This is a profound development, folks. The editors of the Times have resorted to a step that they did not see as necessitated by anything going on during the Great Recession, World War II, the turmoil of the 1960s, Watergate, 9/11 or anything else that happened during the past 95 years.

I suppose that’s because, while those other things were huge news events, none involved such difficult questions about what sort of nation we want to be as does this. More to the point, none of those things were likely to run into such adamant opposition as this initiative. If we’re really, truly, after all these years, about to have a serious national discussion about guns, it may be our toughest disagreement since slavery.

An excerpt from the editorial:

All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism….

Bryan and I have already been having a discussion about this today, via Twitter. This post is intended to broaden the discussion:

66 thoughts on “The NYT’s front-page editorial about guns

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I was waiting for someone else to go first, but okay. I’ll go first.

    The New York Times is openly advocating for confiscation of guns.

    Reply
    1. Juan Caruso

      Moreover, Bryan, the misleading statistic cited by Brad (336 days, 355 mass shootings) includes “mass” slayings by previously convicted felons who obviously should not possess firearms. Thought I would mention the great flaw in Obama’s specious argument that lets the U.S. government off the hook for its obvious inefficacy.

      Recall that after 9-11, someone had been reported by the main stream media as stating 3,000 some-odd fatalities was not a troubling number. Now, 355 mass shootings is supposed to be more alarming than
      9-11. Not in ny calculus; not ever.

      Reply
    2. Juan Caruso

      Forgot to mention a prime example of ” the U.S. government off the hook for its obvious inefficacy”.
      I am certain some of us recall the administration’s brilliant “Fast and Furious” operation.

      Reply
  2. Karen Pearson

    I suggest that gun owners be required to pass a test that demonstrates both their ability to use and care for their guns and to ensure that they know the steps necessary to keep those guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. Gun owners need to be responsible for their guns. If your young child can access your gun and shoots someone then the fault is yours. If someone steals your gun, and you haven’t reported the theft, then the fault is yours. And yes, guns would have to be registered, but the specter of THE GOVERNMENT coming to take your guns is absurd. If our government attempted that they’d find more guerilla fighters than they could manage, not to mention those who collaborated with them. Finally we need to have universal background checks. If you sell your gun to your friend without having a background check done, and that person uses it in a crime, it comes back to you. Sound tough? But it doesn’t negate the right to bear arms; it simply mandates that you be responsible for those arms.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      “I suggest that gun owners be required to pass a test that demonstrates both their ability to use and care for their guns and to ensure that they know the steps necessary to keep those guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.”

      I don’t have a big problem with this in principle, but I’d have to see the details of how often you take the test, the nature of the test, etc. In general though, okay. I think you can build a consensus around responsible ownership.

      Gun owners need to be responsible for their guns. If your young child can access your gun and shoots someone then the fault is yours.

      Agreed. Just like with anything dangerous, you shouldn’t leave it where young children can get it. You wouldn’t leave a circular saw plugged in and on your coffee table with young kids in the house. I don’t think we need legislation here, because I’m pretty sure that you can already be charged with child endangerment in a criminal context, and you can certainly be civilly sued. So I guess you can consider be in agreement, but with the caveat that I think the status quo already deals with this.

      “If someone steals your gun, and you haven’t reported the theft, then the fault is yours.”

      Do we have an epidemic of gun thefts where the owner doesn’t report the theft? I’m not sure this is a problem. What would be the reason not to report the theft. Put me down for “I don’t understand” on this one.

      “And yes, guns would have to be registered, but the specter of THE GOVERNMENT coming to take your guns is absurd.”

      I’m with you, but someone needs to tell that to the folks at the New York Times. Their penultimate paragraph is 100% government confiscation of most rifles in America, including the ones currently sitting in my gun cabinet (I mean the ones that I lost in a tragic caneoing accident). From now on, when people tell me “No one’s coming for your guns!” I’m going point out that the New York Times is advocating for exactly that on page A1.

      I’ll be interested to see what POTUS says tonight from the Oval Office address.

      Reply
      1. Assistant

        The New York Times may have inadvertently done us all a favor by focusing on confiscation because that’s what some number of folks really want but have been afraid to say. So let’s stop beating around the bush with terms like “commonsense measures” and “comprehensive background checks” and simply ask those who spout such phrases where they stand on the binary issue: guns or no guns?

        But what about pipe bombs, does the NYT want to take those away from us too?

        Reply
        1. Kathryn Fenner

          It takes a lot more expertise to successfully make ad deploy a pipe bomb than to acquire and use a semi-automatic assault rifle.

          Reply
          1. Assistant

            Precisely, so should we not pay homage to a rare, artisanal craft? Or at least to those practitioners that survive?

            Reply
      2. Assistant

        I am of course overjoyed that in his address to the nation tonight the president reaffirmed his commitment to the war against ISIS. Naysayers should ignore CNN’s report that we’re running out of bombs to drop on ISIS.

        We do live in confusing times. A woman was stabbed at an art exhibit in Miami. Attendees thought the stabbing was part of the exhibit, and that the police “Crime Scene” table was too.

        Thus spake Sarah Thustra.

        Reply
          1. Assistant

            Twitchy captures the moment:

            White House: “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?” —@POTUS

            Marc Andreessen: “Innocent until proven guilty, due process, and the Second Amendment?”
            Marc Andreessen: “Retweeted for convenience, your handy guide for implementing comprehensive gun control in the United States: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/ …”

            Enough said…

            Reply
                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yes, that does happen. It’s an anti-spam measure…

                  I would turn it off, but it’s defending against something real. I get more spam comments than real ones — there have been 28 attempts in the past hour.

                  They tend to look like this…

                  spam

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I regret if any of you find this impinges on your liberties, but my first responsibility as commander in chief of this blog is to keep us all safe… :)

      3. Karen Pearson

        Actually, yes we do. A gun or rifle is often stolen because it can be easily sold on the street. I don’t think confiscation is doable. We might be able to ban the sale of “assault weapons” or on large clips, but you know as well as I that trying to confiscate weapons is not doable–unless you want to start a civil war.

        Reply
        1. Bryan Caskey

          I agree that firearms are frequently stolen because of their street value. It’s certainly easier to sell a pistol than a crystal vase. However, I don’t think that the victims of the theft fail to report the theft.

          My brother in law (a Lt. Col. in the Army) has had to move many times in connection with transfers. During two of those moves, some of his guns were stolen. Both times, he reported them stolen, and some of the guns were ultimately recovered (after a long time) by law enforcement and returned to him.

          There’s no downside to reporting that you’re the victim of a crime. I don’t think we need a law to require people to do something they are already inclined to do. It would be like saying “We need a law requiring people to use umbrellas or raincoats when it rains.”

          Or am I missing your point, here?

          Reply
          1. Karen Pearson

            Bryan, you are a responsible gun owner who keeps track of things. Many are not. They get a gun, and after the sparkle has worn off they put it up. Later they are robbed. They’re so upset about the loss of their computer and game player, and maybe jewels and cash they don’t even look for the gun. Believe me, it happens more often than you’d think, because a lot of people want to have a gun, for protection, but do not keep them responsibly.

            Reply
            1. Assistant

              I have pricey, glittery thangs of all sorts, but I’ve forced myself to keep track of things that can kill people, coincidentally something that the law seems to require. Does it not make sense that most folks should also recognize that filling out the federal forms when purchasing a firearm might mean that they should keep track of where the dang thangs are at any given instant? How about this: those that don’t should bear the consequences for their lack of attention should such become known to law enforcement ?

              Reply
  3. Barry

    There is so much misinformation about guns and the people that have guns, it’s quite odd to me.

    We have two different countries with respect to guns: Urban and rural.

    There are people in the media, and politicians that clearly do not understand how to use or even hold a firearm. You can tell that by the questions they ask and they way they describe a firearm.

    Pass a test? If you have a CWP, you’ve already passed a test, been fingerprinted, and passed a criminal background check. You’ve received class-room training, and fired your weapon a minimum of 50 times with an instructor at your side. I have my CWP. But I know people that have a CWP and I wouldn’t want to be in the same house with them if they picked up their pistol. So the “test” factor doesn’t mean much to me. (People pass tests to drive and still drive like complete idiots. We lose about 800 citizens a year in South Carolina due to traffic fatalities).

    I am ok with background checks. I think this is more of a feel good thing- but I don’t have an issue with background checks. Most people buying a gun today pass a background check.

    I have bought guns at stores in South Carolina and did the background check thing. I’ve also bought a few guns from a friend. While I didn’t have to do a background check with him, he insisted that our transaction be documented so I signed a “transfer of ownership” receipt that he typed up to be retained by him for his records. That wasn’t required of course. But it was the responsible thing to do. Plus, he knows I have my CWP and have passed numerous background checks.

    All 3 of my pistols are in a safe beside by bed, my shotgun is in the closet with a trigger lock on it. My WW 2 german rifle is in my closet too – but isn’t loaded, and my ammo is locked up.

    Folks- this is the common thing with the great majority of gun owners. Locking up your weapons isn’t unusual for most people. I don’t know one single friend of mine (and most of my friends have many guns) who doesn’t have his ammo and his guns locked up in a safe or some type of trigger lock.

    Reply
    1. Assistant

      Durn it, we’re a free people, or at least used to regard ourselves as such. Automatic firearms are registered, infantry weapons are not.

      Reply
    2. Assistant

      Making distinctions between rural and urban is not helpful. Heck, now that more law-abiding folks in Chicago have CWPs, they are starting to make a difference. It takes a law-abiding citizen with a firearm to stop a criminal with a firearm.

      Are there law-abiding citizens out there who might be irresponsible gun-owners? Sure, but who’s to be the judge of what’s responsible unless they break some reasonable law?

      Reply
      1. barry

        Making that distinction is helpful – because the folks getting the press, talking about guns are media elites in New York, Washington, Boston, and Chicago – many of which don’t know the difference between shotgun and an AR 15.

        Reply
  4. Assistant

    At a very basic level New York Times asserts that humans do not have the right to defend their own lives. Is that not rather shocking? (Actually, from leftists it’s not, but that’s another matter for another day.)

    We in the Anglo-Saxon world have a well-developed notion of rights, so-called natural rights, that, if you paid attention during Civics of History classes, our founding documents honor. The Bill of Rights is not a list of rights a government grants, but is rather an enumeration of rights that a government of a free people recognizes and respects.

    I find it rather worrisome that the effete editorial board of a media empire (owned in part by a foreign national whose own country has a spotty record with respect toward human rights, the rule of law, and such) now believes that one of those rights is passe.

    While they’re fiddling with the Second Amendment, why not fine tune the First and prohibit corporations from campaign-spending? All corporations except media corporations, which of course have a right and duty to pronounce upon the fitness of candidates at all levels of government.

    I’ll be the first to state that I am not fit to determine which law-abiding, rational citizens should or should not own firearms. But neither is the NYT.

    Reply
    1. Kathryn Fenner

      We would not have to defend our lives so much if everybody else weren’t armed to the teeth. See: Europe.

      Reply
      1. Assistant

        I understand and share your concern, but the data overall show a dramatic reduction in overall crime and homicides according to a Pew Research report with data as of 2013-2014:

        National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.

        Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.

        Please take a look at the charts at the link to gauge the significance of the crime and homicide reduction. In 2010, there were 3.6 gun homicides per 100,000 people, compared with 7.0 in 1993, according to CDC data. In 2010, CDC data counted 11,078 gun homicide deaths, compared with 18,253 in 1993. Men and boys make up the vast majority (84% in 2010) of gun homicide victims. The firearm homicide rate also is more than five times as high for males of all ages (6.2 deaths per 100,000 people) as it is for females (1.1 deaths per 100,000 people).

        In short, we’re better off today with more guns overall in the hands of good guys, but it’s still guns in the hands of bad guys that are the problem. I live in the Barony of Forest Acres, an island of law-abiding, still slightly damp, citizens, yet several quite horrendous murders – the woman at the BoA ATM at Trenholm Plaza (the one my wife uses weekly) and the young mom / baker murdered in part because a club was closed — have occurred within a two-mile radius of Manor Cakora within the past few years. A good gal with a gun could have stopped them. Confiscating guns will only empower bad guys, because they won’t turn theirs in.

        Reply
        1. Assistant

          I should add that more than a couple of folks subscribe to the thoughts expressed by Robert Farago here:

          Living in a swank Texas suburb, avoiding stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things, my risk of being shot to death are lower than a snake’s belly. But it would really suck if it happened. Not just for me. As a single parent, my daughter’s life would be changed irrevocably, and not for the better. In the same way I have post-facto life insurance for an untimely death, I carry a gun as a pro-active life insurance policy. As do millions of Americans.

          I’m pretty sure that over the past few weeks, if not months, neither Bryan, Juan, Barry, nor I have shot anyone, even though we may have been prepared to. Why? We’re law-abiding folks, going about our own business, not wanting to hurt anyone and probably willing to help anyone if we’re able.

          It’s not the guns, it’s the morality. It’s also the ‘tude that none of us is willing to be a victim of some bully or see someone within our span of influence victimized. I’ve never had to draw my firearm, but I never want to be in the position of needing a firearm and not having one.

          Reply
          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Well, a sample of gun-owning commenters on an obscure political blog sure makes me feel soooo much safer.

            Reply
      2. barry

        “So much”

        hmmm.

        A homeowner in Portland opened fire on a burglar armed with a knife after the burglar stripped naked, climbed into bed and attempted to kiss the homeowner on Thursday morning, according to KATU News.

        Richard Dean Defeudis, 32, began robbing the house and collecting valuables before going to the owner’s bedroom. Once in the bedroom Defeudis stripped naked, got into the bed with the homeowner and his wife, and proceed to wake the homeowner up with a kiss.

        After waking up, the homeowner grabbed his gun and fired off three shots at Defeudis as he fled. Defeudis was not hit by any the gunfire and was eventually picked up by police a block away. He was charged with burglary charges, first-degree sex abuse, and unlawful use of a weapon

        Reply
  5. Dave Crockett

    I genuinely appreciate that Bryan et al. on their side of the debate on this blog are all poster children for law-abiding, safety-conscious gun owners. As I have said here before, their thoughtful comments have caused me to reconsider many of my long-held preconceptions around the issue of unfettered gun ownership (though I’m still a non-owner with no plans to change).

    Maybe I, too, am guilty of only hearing what I want to hear etc. but it still seems to me that I cannot recall more than a tiny handful of news reports over the years where a law-abiding, safety-conscious gun owner in this country (other than a law enforcement officer) has repelled, thwarted or dispatched a bad guy with a gun. I can’t say the same for the nearly daily litany of reports of good guys, children and innocents who are injured or killed by less law-abiding, safety-conscious gun owners.

    This is all to say that I can’t accept that the question of firearm management in this country is binary — guns or no guns. There has to be a middle ground somewhere that allows Bryan et al. to feel safe and for me and Kathryn to feel that way, too. There just has to be. But as long as the discussion that keeps coming back to the apparent insistence that any form of accommodation is binary in nature, we’l never find it. Unfortunately, any proposal slugged “common sense” is usually binary in nature.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      Dave

      You probably won’ see such news stories in the media these days. It’s not as “popular” to cover such stories. That isn’t a real surprise.

      I’d urge you to pick up a copy of a gun magazine and read the countless stories they cover of law abiding citizens, many CWP holders, who have saved themselves or family members with their safe use of their own weapon. It happens all the time. It’s very common. Heck, I can name a handful of actual incidents just here in South Carolina and I don’t even keep up with such news that much myself.

      And yes- in the great majority of those stories, they quote the local police department in the story too.

      Reply
        1. Bryan Caskey

          Here’s one from a few weeks ago in Aiken.

          AIKEN, S.C. (AP) – Authorities say a man trying to rob a couple who thought they were going to buy a car off Craigslist has been shot and killed.

          Aiken County deputies said in a news release that officers are looking for the second robber after he ran away following the shooting Wednesday afternoon. Investigators say the would-be robbers pulled out a gun and demanded money when they met the couple at an Aiken gas station where they planned to buy a car listed on the Internet site. Deputies say while the gun was pointed at the man, his girlfriend pulled her own weapon and shot at the robbers. Coroner Tim Carlton says 23-year-old Frank Frazier Jr. died at the scene of the shooting. The couple was not hurt. Deputies continue to investigate.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And you know why the AP picked that up? Something like that happening is NEWS.

            Personally, I’d have dealt with it with WORDS. I’d have said, “For his own good, tell Bruce Lee and the Karate Kids none of us are carrying automatic weapons. Because here – in this country… it don’t add inches to your…” well, you know…

            Reply
            1. Bryan Caskey

              That’s a great scene. I know most people would say that Nicholson is the best character. For me, I don’t care what anyone says, Wahlberg’s character in The Departed was the best.

              Reply
                1. Bryan Caskey

                  Ha! I rest my case. You can’t teach that kind of acting!

                  Dignam’s first line here is how I sometimes feel when a person who’s never even held a gun starts arrogantly talking about how bad guns are.

                  [Careful, the link is very strong language.]

          2. Michael Bramson

            The New York Times editorial in question, though, specifically focuses on “certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition…” Maybe somebody can convince me otherwise, but I don’t see why modified combat rifles are necessary for self defense.

            The bigger issue that I have is this part:

            They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

            But at least those countries are trying.

            Is there a gun control strategy that would actually work to reduce these kinds of incidents? If so, I’m all for it, but “trying” doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight for me if it just means implementing policies that will achieve nothing except pissing off half the country.

            Reply
            1. Bryan Caskey

              “Maybe somebody can convince me otherwise, but I don’t see why modified combat rifles are necessary for self defense.”

              Michael, I’m assuming you’re not a gun person like me. That’s okay. I’m here, as the representative for the gun folk to discuss these issues with people who aren’t as familiar with guns. It probably seems odd to you, but rifles really aren’t the problem in violent crime. I know some people like to use Reddit for their statistics, but the FBI is where I go.

              The FBI tracks the number of murder victims each year and categorizes them by the weapon used.

              For for 2013: Murder victims by rifles, it’s 285. Compare that with handguns, which is 5,782. Compare that to “knives or cutting instruments”, which is 1,490. Compare that to “hands, fists, and feet” which is 687.

              As you can see from the numbers, the vast, vast majority of murder victims are not killed by rifles. Why is that? First of all, and most importantly, rifles are not easily concealable. If you are walking down the street planning to mug someone, it’s easy to conceal a handgun on your person. It’s virtually impossible to do that with a rifle. Accordingly, a rifle isn’t a practical choice for a criminal who wants to get up close to the victim. Rolling up potential mugging victim while carrying an M1 Garand kind of blows your cover.

              Second, and implicit in the first point, is that while rifles are better for accuracy, handguns are effective at short to medium range where most all crime occurs. Two guys going in to knock over a liquor store don’t take up position on a rooftop with a sniper rifle and try to pick off the clerk from 200 yards. They just roll in and stick a gun in the clerk’s face. You don’t need a rifle at a range of a few feet. Accordingly, a handgun is the ideal weapon for a criminal.

              Now, for folks who aren’t criminals, rifles are great. Now “modified combat rifles” is just a word salad that doesn’t really mean much to me. An M1 Garand is a “combat rifle”. An M-16 is a military rifle. I can legally own the former, but not the latter. If you’re not familiar with rifles, these words are a trap for you. The word “assault weapon” is a similar trap. It doesn’t have an actual definition outside of what a politician says it does. It’s a malleable word, and is therefore problematic when you’re trying to have a discussion, because it means different things to different people.

              In any event, let’s talk about someone who might want a rifle for personal use. Like, oh…let’s say…me, for instance. I don’t have any intention of carrying a rifle around surreptitiously, so I’m not concerned about a rifle’s lack of concealability. If I want to carry concealed, I can carry a handgun. However, if someone breaks into my house at night, I’m not reaching for my handgun. Why? Well, it’s just easier to hit your target with a rifle. When shooting, my main goal is to hit the target when I’m shooting. I guess you could say that’s the only goal. Want to reduce stray shots that might hit something other than your target? Get a rifle. This is why hunters use rifles, not handguns. Not even Raylan Givens would try to shoot a deer at 200 yards with his handgun.

              A rifle’s accuracy has mostly to do with the fact that rifles have more points of contact on your body (shoulder, both hands) than a simple handgun (two hands only). Bracing the stock of the rifle against your shoulder gives you a more stable shooting platform, which means better accuracy. Also, it’s just more natural to aim a rifle than a handgun. They point more naturally. There’s also some physics involved that makes it marginally more accurate over a handgun, but that’s not important for purposes of this limited discussion.

              Rifles like the AR-15 variants also don’t have much felt recoil. Recoil is the “kick” a gun gives you when you fire it. It has to do with physics, and Sir Isaac Newton figured it all out, but the basic idea is that a smaller, lighter gun will kick more than a larger, heavier gun, all other things being equal. You would be amazed at how little recoil a standard AR-style rifle has. It’s really a great little rifle.

              Rifles also have a higher capacity for ammunition. I have a beautiful little 20 Gauge shotgun that I’m really accurate with on the skeet range. However, it’s an over-under shotgun, so after two shots, I have to break it open and reload. That’s not what I want in a home defense situation because I’d like to not have to reload after two shots. Accordingly, a rifle solves this problem. Believe it or not, the standard capacity for an AR-15 based rifle is thirty rounds. That’s the standard.

              Accordingly, a rifle is an excellent tool for home defense. Maybe not a long rifle like Hawkeye used in The Last of the Mohicans, but a good short-barreled rifle is hard to beat for accuracy.

              The question could rather be: Why wouldn’t you want a rifle for self-defense?

              Reply
              1. Michael Bramson

                Let me explain to you what I am trying to untangle here and maybe you can set me straight.

                The recent rhetoric about gun control is mostly focused on the types of incidents that have been in the news recently: mass shootings in public places. Schools as well. The statistics on murders are useful to keep in mind for a sense of scale, but the danger of a terrorist or a mentally unstable person with a death wish running into a mall and punching people to death is not what we are discussing, I think. While the total number of deaths in question might be quite small, the psychological impact is huge, which I think is why it gets so much more media attention than, say, obesity.

                So, my first premise, which you may reasonably disagree with, is that this kind of shooting is a real problem of a scale that needs to be addressed in some way, if possible, even though the odds of you or anyone you know dying this way is minuscule.

                The second premise is that limiting the sale of certain types of weapons would lead to a reduction in this type of shooting. Maybe people will just get them illegally. Maybe they will use handguns instead. Let’s assume for the moment that it could work, though, because that’s a separate part of the debate.

                If both of those premises are true, then I think we can find a way to limit the sale of such weapons while still allowing for self defense, hunting, etc. You’re right that I’m not a gun expert, but a lot of that “word salad” is for convenience. I don’t expect politicians or editorial writers to spell out the details of trigger mechanisms or magazine size at this stage of the debate. Some firearms that have legitimate uses would be banned in this scenario, yes. That is already true. I’m sure you could kill a lot of home intruders with an M-16. Too bad.

                Lastly, as a big fan of the TV show Justified, I absolutely think that in the right circumstances Raylan Givens would try to shoot a deer at 200 yards with his handgun. Whether he would hit it is another question.

                Reply
                1. Assistant

                  Regarding your first premise, if the odds of dying in the manner you describe is miniscule, why bother infringing on the rights of the majority to own such firearms?

                  As for the second, “limiting the sale of certain types of weapons would lead to a reduction in this type of shooting,” would seem to be disproved by the explosion in sales of these firearms over the past ten years. It’s not the firearms that cause the shootings, nor necessarily the number available. While rifles are often highlighted in reports of shootings, they represent a small fraction of the firearms used in criminal shootings. We still don’t know what weapons or types of weapons (long guns or handguns) caused the fatalities in the San Bernardino shooting or even the Colorado Springs shooting.

                  Overall I’d ask you to consider whether depriving millions of citizens their natural and constitutional rights to keep and bear firearms is worth the cost of having no discernable effect on homicide rates.

                2. Bryan Caskey

                  “So, my first premise, which you may reasonably disagree with, is that this kind of shooting is a real problem of a scale that needs to be addressed in some way, if possible, even though the odds of you or anyone you know dying this way is minuscule.”

                  “The second premise is that limiting the sale of certain types of weapons would lead to a reduction in this type of shooting.”

                  I think the problem is that you’re trying to address mass shootings (which is good) in a way that will not actually address mass shootings. And what we’re all trying to do is to figure out where to draw the line to balance public safety with individual liberty. In my opinion, get out of balance when you start restricting firearms that are in common use by the civilian population for legal purposes.

                  I don’t think mass shootings are significantly more or less deadly with rifles than as opposed to handguns. In any situation where you have a person armed with either a handgun or a rifle in a close-quarters, crowded area of unarmed people, the difference between the rifle and the handgun is very marginal. Remember Ft. Hood? The shooter killed 13 and wounded about 30, all with handguns. If I thought that restricting ownership of rifles would significantly ameliorate the problem, I would acknowledge that. However, I simply think that restricting ownership of rifles will only impact law-abiding gun owners and not affect the issue of mass shootings whatsoever.

                  Point being, I think you’re chasing a red-herring of rifles in your attempt to limit mass shooting deaths. The good thing is you’re thinking about the problem in a rational way and trying to actually solve the problem rather than just demagogue the issue. The problem of mass shootings by terrorists is difficult to solve. There isn’t a neat and clean answer. Even Paris, with strict gun laws, has been the victim of two recent attacks where the shooters were armed with rifles.

              2. Brad Warthen

                If you get that Garand, I want a turn shooting it. I’ll buy the ammo.

                I just want to fire eight shots really fast and hear the empty clip go “ching” as it flies out…

                I don’t care if I hit anything. I just want to make Fritz keep his head down, so my squad can move up…

                Reply
        2. Barry

          ah- Brad- “LOCAL” is the key word.

          Tiny newspapers will cover it – and even a few local tv stations.

          The cable news outlets (CNN, MSNBC, big city newspapers) are rarely going to cover such news.

          Reply
        3. Barry

          and Brad- I’m not wrong.

          I subscribe to several gun owner magazines. Many such stories do not make the news. Many times the folks involved aren’t interested in it making “news.”

          My sister and her husband were robbed in their home about 10 years ago. Things like this do happen in small towns from time to time and the news stations or newspapers aren’t necessarily there to cover it.

          Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Whoa! How about this one:

          3. In a hospital near Philadelphia, in 2014, Richard Plotts shot and killed the psychiatric caseworker with whom he was meeting, and shot and wounded his psychiatrist, Lee Silverman. Silverman shot back, and took down Plotts. While again it’s not certain whether Plotts would have killed other people, Delaware County D.A. Jack Whelan stated that, “If the doctor did not have a firearm, (and) the doctor did not utilize the firearm, he’d be dead today, and I believe that other people in that facility would also be dead”; Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux similar said that he “believe[d] the doctor saved lives.” Plotts was still carrying 39 unspent rounds when he was arrested. [UPDATE: I added this item since the original post.]

          Hey, isn’t it unethical for a shrink to shoot his patient, just because the poor deluded fellow is acting out…?

          Reply
  6. Bob Amundson

    A note of caution regarding “facts.” Facts can be causal or correlational; the fact that as gun ownership increases violent crime decreases is correlational due to the third (or confounding) variable. That third variable could be the increase in our prison population. Right now, there is not enough data to drill down to what is causal, most likely because there are so many variables. But the good news is, violent crime has gone down, even though it appears to be trending up. The realistic optimist in me believes it is temporary, and the trend will continue down.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      “That third variable could be the increase in our prison population.”

      So putting criminals in prison decreases violent crime? That’s kind of the point, no?

      Reply
      1. Bob Amundson

        Sure! However, there is currently a very significant trend of releasing so called “non-violent” offenders from prison. Many believe high incarceration rates the past twenty years are the primary reason violent crime has decreased, and that the current uptick is due to the release of criminals into society without enough jobs or housing for these ex-felons.

        I’m not taking sides in this discussion; as usual, I’m looking at it from a statistical perspective. That helps keep me objective …

        Reply
  7. bud

    The decline of both violent crime and traffic deaths are mostly due to a demographic shift as baby boomers age. You’re more likely to be shot by a toddler than to prevent a violent crime with a gun.

    Reply
  8. Bob Amundson

    Today’s Supreme Court’s denial of the writ of certiorari in Friedman v. City of Highland Park seems to indicate gun control is a local issue rather than a Federal one, at least in the minds of the majority of Justices (with Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissenting). I think I’m ok with that, but Counselor Caskey may influence my thinking.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      Yeah, that’s an interesting case. It will certainly embolden legislatures who are in favor of gun control to start pushing for it along certain lines. One of the lines that jumps out at me from the majority opinion is:

      “If a ban on semiautomatic guns and large-capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that’s a substantial benefit.”

      So this law creates a false sense of security, and that’s a substantial benefit?

      Reply
  9. bud

    Here’s a nice article on the number of toddlers shooting another person or themselves.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/14/people-are-getting-shot-by-toddlers-on-a-weekly-basis-this-year/

    Yes occasionally someone stops a serious crime by using a gun. But it’s pretty rare. Only 3% of persons killed by guns are the result of self defense.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/02/this-is-what-one-year-of-gun-deaths-in-america-looks-like/

    It’s also well known that other developed nations have lower, in some cases far lower, instances of gun violence than the US. Not sure where this “we need more good guys with guns to prevent bad guys from killing” comes from. It has little real-world merit.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      No one will argue that guns aren’t dangerous in irresponsible hands. That’s why it’s important for gun owners to have them properly secured, and take responsibility to be well trained with them.

      I, and my children, have grown up around many firearms in the home. No injuries, no accidents, no incidents, no “close calls” – nothing.

      and I don’t ever plan to use one in self defense either. But I am glad it’s an available choice to me should the need arise.

      Reply

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