America’s Gun Problem is Here to Stay

The obstacles to fixing the problem are many.

Writing in the Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein identifies “The Real Reason America Doesn’t Have Gun Control.” It’s an argument that will be familiar, if not tiresome, to regular OTB readers: our unrepresentative democracy.

Polls are clear that while Americans don’t believe gun control would solve all of the problems associated with gun violence, a commanding majority supports the central priorities of gun-control advocates, including universal background checks and an assault-weapons ban. Yet despite this overwhelming consensus, it’s highly unlikely that the massacre of at least 19 schoolchildren and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday, or President Joe Biden’s emotional plea for action last night, will result in legislative action.

That’s because gun control is one of many issues in which majority opinion in the nation runs into the brick wall of a Senate rule—the filibuster—that provides a veto over national policy to a minority of the states, most of them small, largely rural, preponderantly white, and dominated by Republicans.

The disproportionate influence of small states has come to shape the competition for national power in America. Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections, something no party had done since the formation of the modern party system in 1828. Yet Republicans have controlled the White House after three of those elections instead of one, twice winning the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. The Senate imbalance has been even more striking. According to calculations by Lee Drutman, a senior fellow in the political-reform program at New America, a center-left think tank, Senate Republicans have represented a majority of the U.S. population for only two years since 1980, if you assign half of each state’s population to each of its senators. But largely because of its commanding hold on smaller states, the GOP has controlled the Senate majority for 22 of those 42 years.

[…]

That impassable opposition reflects the GOP’s reliance on the places and voters most deeply devoted to gun culture. Polling last year by the Pew Research Center found that the share of Republicans who live in a household with a gun (54 percent) far exceeds the share of Democrats who do (31 percent). (In all, Pew found that four in 10 adults live in a house with a gun and only three in 10 own one.) A 2020 Rand Corporation study found that the 20 states with the highest rates of gun ownership had elected almost two-thirds of the Senate’s Republican lawmakers (32 of 50) and comprised about two-thirds of the states that President Donald Trump carried in the 2020 election (17 of 25). In an almost mirror image, the 20 states with the lowest rates of gun ownership had elected almost two-thirds of the Senate’s Democratic lawmakers (also 32 of 50) and comprised about two-thirds of the states Biden won (16 of 25). The 20 states with the lowest rates of gun ownership have more than two and half times as many residents (about 192 million) as the states with the highest gun-ownership rates (about 69 million). But in the Senate, these two sets of states carry equal weight.

There’s a bit of sleight-of-hand here, including the bizarre metic of the half-state population, but the larger point is one we’ve been hammering for years: our system vastly over-represents the views of rural Americans. Then again, as the photo used to illustrate the post suggests, the filibuster is almost a red herring here: West Virginia’s Joe Manchin isn’t exactly a big supporter of gun control.

Even more depressing is a companion piece from Andrew Exum titled “We Need to Learn to Live With Guns.” Having led Infantry and Ranger platoons through multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, he knows something about small arms.

In the 14 years since the Supreme Court found an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment in the landmark case of D.C. v. Heller, the federal judiciary has only grown more conservative. The courts will likely bar any meaningful restrictions on the possession of firearms for at least another generation.

Your fellow Americans, meanwhile, who collectively bought 40 million firearms in 2020 and 2021, have grown even less enamored with the various gun-control measures typically floated by politicians after such tragedies. In Texas, the same Republican lawmakers cruising to reelection this fall made relaxing the state’s already permissive gun laws a priority in the last legislative session.

And the simple commercial problem facing firearms manufacturers has not changed: They make highly durable goods. Firearms can be passed down through generations. To meet growth targets, then, firearms manufacturers must figure out ways to scare or otherwise motivate people who already own firearms to buy more firearms.

For decades, these firearms manufacturers have—in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways—convinced white people that they need to buy arsenals to protect themselves from people of color. More recently, thanks in part to various shootings perpetrated by those heavily armed white people, people of color have responded by arming themselves in greater numbers, which must delight the firearms manufacturers.

So we should all stop saying that something is going to change. Nothing is going to change. Democratic lawmakers—for whom overpromising and underdelivering is an incurable habit—propose measures after these shootings that they know will never pass through a highly divided Congress, or be sustained by federal judges hand-selected to stymie progressive legislation for the next three or four decades.

We all need to adjust to the idea that unfathomable levels of gun violence, including school shootings, are going to get worse, not better, in the decades to come. In the past month alone, my two sons had a baseball game canceled because of a shooting at the park where they were meant to play and, two weeks later, soccer practice cut short because a nearby gunman had opened fire on a school down the road. In that latter incident, no innocent lives were lost thanks only to the gunman’s inability to effectively use any of the three assault rifles—I’m sorry, “modern sporting rifles”—he had stockpiled in his apartment overlooking the school.

Exum isn’t completely fatalistic. His recommendation is one I’ve long advocated: requiring better training.

First, we need to make firearms education a national priority. Once upon a time, when I was a young boy, a friendly organization called the National Rifle Association did great work teaching Americans about the safe use of firearms in hunting and other shooting sports. They still do some of that, but it’s a smaller and smaller portion of what that now extremely troubled organization is about.

The government, then, should step up. If we’re going to allow everyone in America to own as many firearms as they want, our children need to understand what to do if they see a firearm, which they inevitably will. Don’t touch it. Go find an adult. Older children, meanwhile, should also understand how to unload a firearm and render it safe. Families might not have any interest in firearms, but firearms are going to be ever-present in the lives of their children.

The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 funds various conservation and wildlife-habitat-restoration initiatives through taxes on firearms and ammunition. We should raise those taxes and use the additional funds to help state wildlife and natural-resources departments teach firearm and hunter safety in our schools. I knew how to safely operate a rifle by the age of 10, and I don’t think it’s ever too early to teach young children the golden rules of firearm safety:

Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.

Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond.

I still hunt and shoot sporting clays on a regular basis, and whenever I return from the range or from hunting, I clean my shotguns on newspapers spread out over the dining-room table. I use the opportunity to reinforce the rules for the proper handling of firearms to my three young children. I want my children to treat firearms as objects of respect, not of lust. I do not want them to fetishize these tools.

His second suggestion is interesting if not fleshed out:

Because the second and much harder thing we need to do is to shift the gun culture in America. I have written before about how the gun culture I have observed develop since the September 11 attacks—the emphasis on tactical weaponry, the marketing of ceramic plate carriers and kevlar helmets to civilians—is so very different than the gun culture I grew up with in East Tennessee in the 1980s, when the seemingly ever-present firearms were mostly shotguns for hunting and bolt-action rifles.

How to make more traditional rifles and shotguns, which are both more beautiful and more precise, sexy again is not obvious. Unlike Exum, I’ve never hunted and haven’t shot at a range in years. But I have no problem with those who want to do so and have no desire to restrict their rights beyond requiring licensing, registration, and some minimal level of training in firearms safety.

Having served in the Army, I have no more desire to own an AR-15 than I do to own a Hummer. Still, while I tend to think of civilians who want to cosplay soldiers as yahoos, there are tens of thousands of them out there and they’re overwhelmingly harmless. I’m not sure banning them really does much for us even if it’s possible. But, yes, changing the weird culture that fetishizes guns would be great.

Finally, via YahooNews, a poorly-written Business Insider piece headlined “Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here’s why it doesn’t have mass shootings.”

Switzerland hasn’t had a mass shooting since 2001, when a man stormed the local parliament in Zug, killing 14 people and then himself.

The country has about 2 million privately owned guns in a nation of 8.3 million people. In 2016, the country had 47 attempted homicides with firearms. The country’s overall murder rate is near zero.

The National Rifle Association often points to Switzerland to argue that more rules on gun ownership aren’t necessary. In 2016, the NRA said on its blog that the European country had one of the lowest murder rates in the world while still having millions of privately owned guns and a few hunting weapons that don’t even require a permit.

But the Swiss have some specific rules and regulations for gun use.

[…]

Unlike the US, Switzerland has mandatory military service for men.

All men between the ages of 18 and 34 deemed “fit for service” are given a pistol or a rifle and trained.

After they’ve finished their service, the men can typically buy and keep their service weapons, but they have to get a permit for them.

[…]

Swiss authorities decide on a local level whether to give people gun permits. They also keep a log of everyone who owns a gun in their region, known as a canton, though hunting rifles and some semiautomatic long arms are exempt from the permit requirement.

But cantonal police don’t take their duty dolling out gun licenses lightly. They might consult a psychiatrist or talk with authorities in other cantons where a prospective gun buyer has lived before to vet the person.

Swiss laws are designed to prevent anyone who’s violent or incompetent from owning a gun.

People who’ve been convicted of a crime or have an alcohol or drug addiction aren’t allowed to buy guns in Switzerland.

The law also states that anyone who “expresses a violent or dangerous attitude” won’t be permitted to own a gun.

Gun owners who want to carry their weapon for “defensive purposes” also have to prove they can properly load, unload, and shoot their weapon and must pass a test to get a license.

For reasons Brownstein and Exum elucidate, we’re not going to be able to enact those kinds of policies here. But, honestly, I think that approach is likely more effective than trying to ban specific styles of weapons.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Guns and Gun Control, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    “There is no way to prevent this” says the nation where this happens regularly and it does not happen elsewhere in the first world.

    The problem is us. The problem is way too much access to guns, way too many guns. The problem is that many people fetishize guns as the solution.

    We are the extreme outlier in active shootings and mass kills. It is undeniable. We are fucking this up badly. It is obscene. We are complicit.

    We have to do better.

    We won’t. Rs and gun lobbyists and general legislative inertia will doom any meaningful course correction. Guaran-fucking-teed. All hope is doomed.

    Those are the actors that have bite, but we, as a society, are as complicit in our inaction.

    This is one of those times that America disgusts me. This does not happen elsewhere. We fucking suck. I want to vomit.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have no more desire to own an AR-15

    How many guns do you own, James? If the answer is one or more, you are part of the problem.

    2
  3. Scott says:

    I started kindergarten in 1959. On Long Island. In New York. We had a gun range in the basement of our elementary school and could get training and practice from the NRA.

    We played cops and robbers with cap guns. We had BB guns.

    We grew up and put our guns away.

    I don’t own a gun nor have a desire to have one since I don’t hunt or shoot.

    I keep trying to think what has changed. I can’t figure it out. I could point fingers at sociological or economic trends or even the reverberations predicted by Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. But answers I don’t know.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    DOA.

  5. CSK says:

    @Scott:
    Pretty much the identical experience here, except that we didn’t have a gun range in the school basement. Boys brought rifles to high school (locked in the trunks of their cars) so they could hunt with their fathers or older brothers during late fall afternoons.

    Nobody brought a gun into school and started shooting. No one even considered it happening.

    2
  6. Cheryl Rofer says:

    I still think we should go for heavy requirements for owning guns and restricting the weapons of war. It will be a long slog, and we have to start with simpler restrictions like the bill that the Senate will consider soon (I think/hope?), but FREEDOM means being free of the fear that we will be gunned down in the supermarket.

    As to how we got here, I will point to the hatred that Fox News spreads and the cult of macho that I can’t entirely blame Fox for. Those tank-like pickups, the cult of muscles. I’m not sure where that comes from and need to think about it some more. Clearly, it’s attached to Tucker Carlson’s fascism – see the video he was hawking. Did that ever go into distribution, or did the mocking take it down? Anyhow, killer penises are a logical outgrowth of all that.

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  7. de stijl says:

    I went hunting exactly once.

    There was a drive to flush any deer at us pretty much perpendicular.

    My blood was hot. My first shot was off a smidgen and I shot the buck’s front right leg off by accident. I was trying for a upper lung or heart shot. He buckled and sprawled and voiced a surprised honking bellow of terror and pain.

    Second shot was true. Upper lung. I shot a supine three legged deer on purpose. I walked up. Nice eight point rack. He was dying in front of me. Aspirating bloody froth. Made the most god-awful bellow I had ever heard. A sound that said “I am dying and I don’t know why.”

    It was the most bereft of hope sound I have ever heard. He was dying and he was really pissed off. That sound. God.

    I did that. I made that happen. I made a choice and pulled a trigger twice.

    Fuck me, the reality was brutal watching him die. His honking bellow. I killed him for no good reason. I did that. The meat was used but fuck me, I did not need to do that.

    I knew immediately that I had fucked up profoundly. That what I had done was inherently wrong. My lord, I was such an idiot.

    I felt deeply ashamed.

    Never again. The sound of his dying in front of me will haunt me until I die. I did that on purpose.

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  8. de stijl says:

    If I see another political “vote for me” ad where the candidate is sporting a gun, I am probably going to have a rage induced aneurysm.

    We have to do better than this. God dammit!

    3
  9. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yeah, that’s really a winning appeal. I own a Remington semi-automatic shotgun, which I guess makes me part of the problem as well. Self-righteousness is not a smart strategy.

    4
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:
    Yeah, I know, because gun owners can’t handle the truth. They need to be coddled, cuz they’re just ever so fragile.

    If you use cocaine are you or are you not part of the drug problem? Do you help to support the smuggling apparatus? Do you help to strain police resources? Do you enrich the drug gangs that become so powerful they can subvert governments?

    How about if you hire an undocumented worker? Are you part of the problem of illegal immigration?

    If you drive a gas guzzler are you part of the climate change problem?

    But gun owners are too tender to deal with the truth. Right? Did you put money in the pockets of the gun lords? Did they use some of your money to lobby Congress to stop every single gun control law? Do you help to support the companies that make ammo? How about local gun dealers? How about shooting ranges? Is there an absolute zero chance that your gun will accidentally discharge? Isn’t there a chance your gun will be stolen and used in a crime? Do you have children or grandchildren in the house?

    When I was a criminal I was part of a problem. I admitted it. When I smoked weed illegally I was part of the problem, and I knew it, and acknowledged it. I guess I’m just less fragile.

    You don’t like the truth? Tough shit. I’m sick to death of you people and your diseased obsession with guns. Every other civilized country on earth manages not to have an armed populace. So yes, you are part of the problem. Live with it.

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  11. Scott says:

    Arm the teachers? Just received this on Next Door. BTW, my wife is an elementary school teacher.

    —————————————————————————

    To those in the general public screaming “Arm the teachers! Give the teachers guns!”…let me get this straight…

    You don’t trust us to teach our content – there are so many bills going to state legislatures undermining the expertise teachers bring to the field. We need to publish a year’s worth of lesson plans because you don’t believe we’re actually teaching, right?

    You don’t trust us when we say your student is the reason they’re failing when they are skipping class, aren’t submitting assignments, are playing both sides of the field and are dropping the ball, but it must be the teacher’s fault, right?

    You don’t trust us to hold your student accountable for their behavior, standing firm on commitments and expectations, because it’s the teacher asking too much, right?

    You don’t trust us to discipline students when they act out or abuse the system, because they’re precious little angels, and we’re the problem, right?

    But you’ll trust us, no…EXPECT us to take a bullet for them when the system – when, at this point, not if – fails them.

    And NOW you’re saying you trust us, trust me, to add firearm safety and defensive firearm training to my plate? You don’t trust me to execute a lesson plan but you’ll trust me to execute an intruder?

    Incredible teachers are leaving the field every day. Phenomenal teachers are barely hanging on as they go through our day to day. Accredited programs and universities all over the country are closing their education programs because no one is enrolling.

    When your kids, or grandkids, nieces, and nephews are being taught by actual undertrained people who are the only option to hire, will that make you happy? I mean…at least they’ll have guns…right?

    ——————————————————————————————-

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  12. Kathy says:

    I’d be worried that someone will shoot up the NRA thing in Houston.

  13. steve says:

    The Exum article is the best one I have read in a while. I grew up around guns on the farm. Shot rabbits and crows. An occasional pheasant if you got lucky. We had an annual raccoon hunt so they wouldn’t destroy the corn crops and gardens. No one posed with their guns and no one wore camo. It was just a tool. These weirdos now who own 20 guns and run around in groups of other gun nuts posing and acting out their Rambo fantasies make no sense to me. I also didnt realize gun sales had grown so much. Guns last a long time. About 40 million were bought in 2020.

    Even more agree about the NRA. I used to belong to the NRA as I thought they did a good job of teaching gun safety. They have become a political organization and a puppet of the gun producers. Their main role is to promote sales. (Internally they are more corrupt than a Chicago alderman.)

    Mostly Exum is right. Its not going to change.

    Steve

    5
  14. @Michael Reynolds:

    How many guns do you own, James? If the answer is one or more, you are part of the problem.

    Speaking as someone who does not own any guns, I have to say that this is a gross oversimplification.

    And I say that, also, being in favor of everything listed in the article, as well as being in favor of an assault-style weapons ban. I see zero reason why anyone needs an AR-15 or similar weapon.

    Also, I have never hunted, and don’t entirely understand the appeal, but am not prepared to say no one should hunt (if anything, but for practical politics).

    I would note that for someone who thinks the Democrats need better messaging, comparing gun owners of any kind to cocaine addicts/saying that anyone who owns a guns bears is part of the problem is not a message that will resonant in the electorate.

    12
  15. @Scott: Amen to all of that.

    4
  16. gVOR08 says:

    Still, while I tend to think of civilians who want to cosplay soldiers as yahoos, there are tens of thousands of them out there and they’re overwhelmingly harmless. … But, yes, changing the weird culture that fetishizes guns would be great.

    Those two sentences are contradictory. Those tens of thousands of “yahoos” are part of and help further the “weird culture”. And the Sandy Hook parents’ successful $73 million dollar lawsuit against Remington was based on their advertising supporting this insane gun culture.

    In all the discussion of, “Oh woe,what can we do?” I haven’t seen anyone propose the simple step of repealing the gun manufacturers’ unique exemption from liability. OK, Moloch McConnell would filibuster it. At least try, and hang it on him, and on any of his buddies from swing states. Fight FFS. The Republicans are proud to be the party of unrestricted gun rights. Make them the party of dead children.

    Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?

    2
  17. gVOR08 says:

    There’s a bit of sleight-of-hand here, including the bizarre metic of the half-state population,

    How so? I don’t understand your point.

  18. @Paul L.:

    Universal background checks = Federal national gun registry to be used for mandatory gun buys = (gun confiscation) .

    It is known that any kind of centralized government registry of property leads, inevitably to confiscation. The logic is irrefutable!

    Note, the Great Automobile Confiscation of 1977 and the House Buy-Back of 2012!

    And don’t get me started about all the boats!

    15
  19. @Paul L.:

    Swords are weapons of war.

    I far prefer my chances of avoiding mass death from swords than from Ar-15s, et al.

    Why do cops get a waiver to have these weapons of war designed to murder as many people as physically possible?

    If you are proposing a situation, like in the UK, wherein not all cops are armed with guns and the level of gun violence is far lower in general, sign me up!

    6
  20. gVOR08 says:

    Speaking of gun registries, if we did decide to seize (more likely forced buy-back like Australia) all the pretend assault rifles, how many people are we talking about? We sort of picture having to deal with half the country. But I’ve heard the statement that half the guns are owned by 3% of households. IIRC less than half of households own a gun, and many of those would be shotguns and deer rifles or so-called home protection hand guns. I suspect if we rounded up AR-15 looking guns we’re talking a modest number of households. Would be good if we actually knew.

    (Not to imply pretend assault rifles are the real problem, but it’d be a start.)

    1
  21. just nutha says:

    Dr. Joyner, it doesn’t matter what you or anyone else thinks would be more effective because “WE THE PEEPUL” are not going to do any of it. We’re going to go on offering thoughts and prayers to Gods we don’t worship on behalf of strangers we neither know nor care about because while the death of my child in a school shooting would be a tragedy, the deaths of 18 or 20 Tejanos is merely a statistic.

    1
  22. DK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Shot: “Every problem faced by Biden and Democrats is really the fault of a handful of far left progressives, who could have settled on inclusive police reform messaging but instead alienated white people with counterproductive Defund the Police sloganeering.”

    Chaser: “It’s not enough to merely call out Republican voters for blocking sensible, popular gun reforms — let’s attack handgun owners as diseased and kin to drug addicts, which is totally consistent with my dogmatic insistence that divisive far left rhetoric is the real problem with everything.”

    Make it make sense.

    17
  23. DK says:

    @Paul L.: Do you have a reputable, relatively non-biased source for your 55 year old example of alleged unreasonable gun confiscation?

    Not really convincing to link to the propaganda website of a terrorist organization that fearmongers on behalf of the corporate gun lobby, with total indifference to the slaughter of schoolchildren. I very much doubt the National Ammosexuals Association is giving all the relevant, likely routine and non-scary details.

    6
  24. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: IANAL, but wouldn’t an inventory of guns fall under the heading of “well regulated”? Sorry, silly of me. I forgot Originalism says those words aren’t in the Second Amendment.

    5
  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    So, we can mandate a 72-hour lockup of a person based on suicidal tendencies. Couldn’t we mandate a temporary impoundment of someone’s guns for similar reasons? As pointed out above, we impound cars boats and other things based on simple association with crime, with no evidence.

    I support gun ownership. I resist the notion that gun ownership makes someone a whacko. I was not a whacko, my father and his brothers were not whackos. They were quite responsible gun owners.

    AND, I think some sort of temporary intervention when there are signs of a potential issue could be quite useful. Honestly, I think talking to someone at the right moment will go a long way to stopping sprees. The problem is in finding them. So we cast our net wide and tread lightly. However, this proposal will take flack, probably from people on either side.

    Why is this so all-or-nothing?

    4
  26. Scott F. says:

    Yep, nothing will be done about rampant gun death in this country because of minority rule. Same goes for climate change and wealth inequality and female autonomy and violent crime and, well, minority rule. I’m afraid this grand old democracy won’t be able to vote ourselves out of the death spiral we are in.

    I’m not a nihilist by nature, but I find myself in times like these wondering what might be the least destructive path for bringing it all down and starting over. It’s not at all clear to me which way to go, but in most scenarios the first action is the tarring and feathering of some particularly unctuous politician – Ted Cruz usually.

    2
  27. gVOR08 says:

    I have of late been much reminded of a quirk of the English language in which “cannot happen” means just did happen and we all know will happen again. Is this like the “future pretense” case or something?

    3
  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott F.: I’d have trouble getting very upset about someone threatening Ted Cruz with a Second Amendment solution. Or Wayne LaPierre and a long list of other slime.

  29. DK says:

    …we’re not going to be able to enact those kinds of policies here.

    We had a successful assault weapons ban during your lifetime, Professor Joyner.

    These Boomer whackjobs and their radical right extremist Apartheid Court will not be in power forever. The Parkland Generation is coming. Slowly, but we are coming.

    We will have universal healthcare with robust mental health coverage, universal background checks, a ban on large capacity magazines, universal gun permitting with mandatory training and liability insurance requirements, and a renewed assault weapons ban.

    2
  30. @DK: Indeed. “Defund the police” apparently cost Dems seats, but calling all gun owners sick and diseased, that’s a winning message!

    (And, again, I am for a substantial diminution of gun ownership, but one simply cannot make these rhetorical statements and argue that the Dems need to be careful about progressive messaging).

    4
  31. CSK says:

    The Donna (Texas) ISD has canceled all classes till next Tuesday. Apparently law enforcement found an AK-47 and a kill list in the home of one of the suspects.

    This is a developing story, so I can’t report anything more.

  32. Matt Bernius says:

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that people who think talking about “structural racism” and “defunding the police” are why Democrats are losing the center also think that “eliminate all private gun ownership” is a winning centrist approach?

    Update: Oops DK & ST, I see you beat me to it. Yeah, I’m experiencing a little cognitive dissonance from our local political messaging expert on this one too.

    Ultimately, though, the real issue here is our political structure. The fact that sweeping gun reform was able to occur in other countries is very dependent on their underlying political structures.

    6
  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If the answer is one or more, you are part of the problem.

    Assuming James is responsible and keeps his guns locked up in a combination safe and his kids don’t know the combo, then I can’t agree. He is well trained and well aware how and when to handle a weapon. He is not part of the problem.

    The problem is the loony toons gun culture, the pretend-military fan boys who spend their weekends stuffing their beer guts into Kevlar vests and running woods in tactical assault gear. Or the paranoid racists buying their 50 round Street Sweeper shotguns and hanging out with their similarly crazed friends discussing every car-jacking in a twenty state area and bragging what they would do if the “urban youths” venture onto their imagined turf. And sure, as James says, the vast majority of these ludicrous but dangerous man-boys are never going to fire a gun at anyone, including themselves, but they are part of the toxic cultural soup that feeds the violent. Their constant stream of violent fantasies and toxic, cartoonish masculinity spreads out into their surroundings. What is the likelihood that that toxic spew contributes to someone in its immediate or peripheral path committing suicide, or killing their wife in a jealous rage, or getting drunk and deciding the guy whose car broke down and is knocking at their door for help is a home invader who needs a bullet in his head.

    People who are primarily hunters aren’t part of the problem. Responsible, trained people who buy a gun for home protection are, but only in that they or their family members are much more likely to kill themselves or another family member than a home invader. But however mistaken they may be (because, hey, my kids are good kids and I’ve VERY carefully told them they are never to touch this gun) they are not part of the toxic violent fantasy world that is stringing every facet of our lives.

    6
  34. Jc says:

    Always wonder how many lives would have been saved had some 250 years ago one of the worst sentences ever written had been worded better. Sad.

    4
  35. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Relatively minor point in the disaster that is American gun laws, but I wouldn’t argue the 2nd Amendment is particularly poorly worded. It made perfect sense in the context of a time where there was no such thing as a police force, are nation’s borders were truly uncontrolled with hostile neighbors, and when the Constitution prohibited a standing army. It was an imminently practical and straightforward statement at the time.

    The fact that we have become so unmoored from actual historical truth in favor of myths in these modern times (gun control was a prominent feature of the not actually very wild West, to cite one of many examples) is not the fault of the (very imperfect; another truth all too lost on most) founders. And of course the “Originalists” who have come to have such an outsize influence on our laws cannot acknowledge that anything from the technology to national security to police to society itself have changed in the last couple hundred years since to do so would be to admit the completely hollow BS at the core of their legal beliefs.

    I generally dislike people claiming that “the Founders” support some modern position or another, but I’ll do something similar myself here: I am sure the Founders are turning in their graves at what has turned into ancestor worship instead of standing up and dealing with our own problems like they did.

    5
  36. steve says:

    I dont do upvotes or downvotes. Ok, maybe once or twice a year if something is really good. This got one.

    “Universal background checks = Federal national gun registry to be used for mandatory gun buys = (gun confiscation) .

    It is known that any kind of centralized government registry of property leads, inevitably to confiscation. The logic is irrefutable!

    Note, the Great Automobile Confiscation of 1977 and the House Buy-Back of 2012!

    And don’t get me started about all the boats!”

    I will (shamelessly) be stealing this. Wont convince anyone but it will entertain me.

    Steve

    5
  37. Gustopher says:

    The usual dance of rhetoric after these events is just tiresome. It changes nothing and we once again get Democrats proposing things they just cannot ever deliver on.

    I kind of wish Biden’s message had been: “Tragedy, pain, blah blah, loss, blah blah. There are more guns than people in this country, more being sold every day, and no will in the Senate to change this. With that many guns, yes they will keep falling into the hands of people who want to kill. I hope you like dead children, because this is America. There will be more next week, maybe not so many in one big event.”

    ——
    The “Democrats can’t deliver” has all the structural reasons, but gets interpreted as “all these politicians do nothing” and undermines confidence in our institutions. Better to just say “our hands are tied” I would think.

    3
  38. DK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Defund the police” apparently cost Dems seats, but calling all gun owners sick and diseased, that’s a winning message!

    This.

    And for the record, I think the impact of Defund on 2020 has been overstated. It’s largely debunked dogma, if you ask me, a convenient excuse to absolve Trump voters of responsibility for their willing complicity in radical right extremism.

    But if you’re a person who strenuously and repeatedly pushes the It’s Defund’s Fault conventional wisdom…how does it then make sense to “alienate” the Republican-voting swing voters and moderates you champion, by smearing law-abiding handgun owners? Like wut?

    8
  39. wr says:

    @DK: “These Boomer whackjobs and their radical right extremist Apartheid Court will not be in power forever. ”

    To be fair, the original assault weapons bas was also passed by us Boomer whackjobs.

    Trying to define an entire generation of people by a single trait is 12 times dumber than astrology.

    8
  40. @steve: Steal away!

    Wont convince anyone but it will entertain me.

    Which is true in regards to the person I was responding to, and to myself.

    2
  41. DK says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Relatively minor point in the disaster that is American gun laws, but I wouldn’t argue the 2nd Amendment is particularly poorly worded.

    There’s nothing wrong with the 2nd Amendment. The plain words of the 2nd Amendment make obvious those who wrote it intended firearms for responsible, trained citizens — “a well-regulated militia” — as a safeguard against goverment tyranny.

    The 2nd Amendment was never interpreted as giving any nutjob an individual right to own any firearm unrestricted until very recently — after radical right extremist Federalist Society hacks took control of the Supreme Court.

    Americans could have brought this to heel in 2016, but a majority of white voters fell for the sexist, stupid anti-Hillary Emailghazigatepalooza national witch hunt. And here we are.

    2
  42. DK says:

    @wr:

    Trying to define an entire generation of people by a single trait is 12 times dumber than astrology.

    Oh please. If it doesn’t apply to you it doesn’t apply to you.

    The gerontocracy has taken control and refuses to relinquish it. With power comes responsibility and slings and arrows. No need to have defensive meltdowns every time they see word “Boomer.” Suck it up, buttercup.

    7
  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Jc: I agree with @Just Another Ex-Republican:. The Second seems clearly written. It clearly ties bearing arms to militias, which were a real thing at the time. Although from what little I know of the history, it was basically a throwaway line. Patrick Henry and others were afraid the new Federal government would disarm their militias, which were really slave patrols. So the backers of the Constitution, who had no interest in taking their guns, said, OK, write down Pat can keep his guns. Since then both slave patrols and militias have gone away, but the Federalist Society doesn’t see that this alters the situation.

    The FS of course sees the history differently. In fact they’ve put a huge effort into studying the history. They study every detail they can of context for the law, or amendment, in question. Then Scalia can cherry pick whatever he wants from that history to support his opinion in Heller, reversing 200 years of precedent. It’s a key element of Originalist Calvinball.

    1
  44. charon says:

    @DK:

    There’s nothing wrong with the 2nd Amendment. The plain words of the 2nd Amendment make obvious those who wrote it intended firearms for responsible, trained citizens — “a well-regulated militia” — as a safeguard against goverment tyranny.

    There is no evidence of that in the legislative history. History says there were two main reasons:

    The first being an alternative to keeping a standing army, which was an issue back then. The arms were often kept at a central armory, not at the militia’s residences.

    The other reason, the reason the southern states demanded the 2nd amendment, was to enable the fielding of armed posses of slave catchers.

    1
  45. KM says:

    @DK:

    safeguard against goverment tyranny

    No, this is revisionist mythology right up there with the damn cherry tree. The Whiskey Rebellion quickly showed just what the government thought about 2A rights being used to protest or safeguard against what certain citizens considered tyranny. We have this image of them being Permanent Revolutionaries for Liberty but in truth, they wanted to settle into a new government and get on with living. The expectation was to use the process to keep changing the Constitution to fix problems as they arise, not some yahoos in a holler somewhere to re-enact Paul Revere’s ride every 20 years. That’s not how you run any kind of stable society.

    It’s PR that was put out to help sell the concept of America but they never – from minute one – even seriously considered this to be true. We know what they wrote but we also know what they did – actions speak louder then words. We just like the pretty mythos better.

    4
  46. wr says:

    @DK: ” No need to have defensive meltdowns every time they see word “Boomer.” Suck it up, buttercup.”

    Sure. Can you give me a brief guide on which slurs you find acceptable and which you think people should be banished from polite society for? Clearly you’ve decided the only thing wrong with bigotry is that it’s focused on the wrong groups. Not sure how you’re different than stupid white men complaining that blacks are allowed to use certain words while they’re not. But hey, you call me Buttercup, so I guess you’re cool.

    6
  47. de stijl says:

    Anytime someone tells me to “Suck it up, Buttercup” I am going to be annoyed. Irate. Displeased. Unwilling to engage.

    Extraordinarily sure that I hate that person for this life and will for the next one, too.

    1
  48. DK says:

    @wr: Oh yes, Boomer is such a slur. Just like the n-word. Exact same thing. Poor Boomers, such victims of hate and discrimination, just like black people. Let’s all weep for Boomers and the awful bigotry and slurs they face, totally tantamount to black people being called n—-r.

    God save us from self-important Boomers and their pompous, sacred cow victim act based on painfully desperate false equivalence. So grateful to belong to a generation that can actually laugh at itself.

    3