Gabby Giffords on the Gun Lobby

Gabby Giffords writes an emotional diatribe filled with non sequiturs that does nothing to advance the debate.

gun-constitution

Gabby Giffords‘ NYT op-ed “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip” is an emotional diatribe filled with non sequiturs that does nothing to advance the debate. The lede encapsulates the logic of the piece:

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets.

The two are absolutely unconnected. All of us, including the US Senators who voted down the bill yesterday, are sick about the kids who were murdered that day and grieve for their parents. Most of those Senators have children of their own; many have grandchildren.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

To call something “common-sense legislation” is to say nothing. Indeed, common sense often makes for bad legislation; the Senate is supposed to actually listen to testimony, look at the research, and make decisions based on evidence. Now, I support making it “harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms.” The question is whether the means of doing so also makes it harder for the rest of us to exercise our rights and what other trade-offs are at work. And, indeed, nothing in the bill would have stopped Newtown, Aurora, or Blacksburg. A first-time spree shooter isn’t going to fail a background check.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing.

But that may well be a good thing! Making unpopular decisions even in the face of emotional connections is often a sign of wisdom, not callousness.

These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Giffords provides not a hint of evidence of this. It’s pure assertion. And assertion that seems ludicrous on its face. $25 million divided by 535 (100 Senators plus 435 Representatives) comes to $57,471 per Member. That’s chump change. Even if we exclude those in safe seats and presume the NRA is concentrating its donations, it’s not that much. And, indeed, those in safe seats would seem immune from the NRA’s pressures.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

There was a lot of this sort of nonsense on “Morning Joe” this morning before I got tired of it and shut it off. One doesn’t get to the United States Senate by being a political moron. This was a high visibility vote on an extremely contentious issue. Each and every Senator thought long and hard about “consequences” before casting their vote. Obviously, 41 percent of them made a calculation that No was the prudent way to go.

The fact of the matter is that this is a low salience issue for the overwhelming majority of voters. It doesn’t matter that the polls show them overwhelmingly favoring the bill; few actually care about it and most of those oppose it with a purple passion.

Correction: The original post misstated the vote on the bill.

FILED UNDER: 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. Tony W says:

    I don’t think the NRAs threat is so much about the money, you are right – it’s chump change. Rather the threat perceived is more about the voting “scorecard” they, and others, issue for single-issue (or small-number-of-issues) voters.

    People like easy choices – dichotomies, and nobody embodies that preference more than voters who have a million other things on their minds, and are not tracking politics closely. When an NRA or a Grover Norquist (or a similarly positioned leftist organization for that matter) reduces a representative’s accomplishments to a single scorecard with a narrow perspective, it is powerful – and misleading.

    The only solution is better education and information distribution – both of which the political right, in particular, fights daily.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    “…Giffords provides not a hint of evidence of this. It’s pure assertion. And assertion that seems ludicrous on its face. $25 million divided by 535 (100 Senators plus 435 Representatives) comes to $57,471 per Member. That’s chump change. Even if we exclude those in safe seats and presume the NRA is concentrating its donations, it’s not that much…”

    The NRA/Gun Lobby influence is limited to cash?
    You aren’t that naive.
    The fear they instill in Gun Owner’s with propaganda like “Gun Registries” is not a factor?
    You aren’t that naive.
    Ted Cruz thought long and hard about his vote?
    You aren’t that naive.

    They are whores and cowards. We all know it.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: I’m limiting my analysis of Giffords’ op-ed to the arguments she made, not the ones she might have made. As for Ted Cruz, he’s not a great example: his vote here was predetermined based on his ideology and that of the people who put him on the ballot.

  4. john personna says:

    My only two comments would be:

    1. After sitting through years of emotional argument about the need for every home to have a “modern sporting rifle” (with high capacity magazine) it is kind of strange to see Giffords (of all people) singled out for emotion.

    2. If I were the NRA I certainly would not apportion my $25M evenly, and give Feinstein and Boxer “their share.” Nor would I drop much on Senators from solidly pro-gun states. No, I’d leverage “marginally attached” Senators, those with slightly anti-gun constituents, but who can get away with a swing my way.

  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: As I pointed out before, Cliffy, Big Nanny Bloomberg alone spent as much money fighting for gun control as the NRA spent against it.

    Just face facts, Cliffy — your side isn’t the side with the most people or the most common sense, and that’s why you keep losing.

  6. john personna says:

    tl;dr – weren’t you suppose to say “both side do it” and let Giffords slide?

  7. Tim S. says:

    The vote was 54-46 in favor of Manchin Toomey. Failing to achieve a supermajority in favor is not the same as a supermajority against. There was no “upermajority of US Senators who voted down the bill yesterday.”

    The assertion that “Obviously, 60 percent of them made a calculation that No was the prudent way to go.” is simply untrue. 46% percent of them made the calculation that No was the prudent way to go.

    Your criticisms of the Giffords piece may be valid, but you seem to lack on an understanding of what actually occurred in the senate yesterday.

  8. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And if Bloomberg were overriding the national intent (polling data), you could make the argument that he was trying to big-foot the argument, and use his might to distort the government.

  9. wr says:

    “All of us, including the supermajority of US Senators who voted down the bill yesterday, are sick about the kids who were murdered that day and grieve for their parents. ”

    Sure. Just not sick enough to do anything about it. Not sick enough to risk pissing off the NRA. Not sick enough to dare crossing the 20% of the populace who worshipt their guns.

    Yeah, they’re sick about it. Then they’ll go back to cashing the checks. Because as long as they personally feel bad, it doesn’t matter what they do.

  10. wr says:

    @James Joyner: You keep talking about a “supermajority” voting down the gun bill. That was for Feinstein’s assault weapons ban. It was a MINORITY who voted down background checks… unless you’re now claiming that 46 out of a hundred somehow constututes a “supermajority.”

  11. stonetools says:

    There is no rational debate. There is no rational argument whatsover against universal background checks-none, and James, you did not make one. None of the gun worshipers here made one. The three Js (Jack, Jenos, JKB ) did their best -and just ended up sounding stupider than usual.

    Indeed, common sense often makes for bad legislation; the Senate is supposed to actually listen to testimony, look at the research, and make decisions based on evidence.

    Oh, is that how the Senators decided their vote in this case? I think the evidence is that the Senate voted based on the fear of the gun lobby. There is not one scintilla of evidernce that the Senate decided on whether universal background checks made it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get weapons-reason and evidence tells you it would. Gabby Gifford is simply right about this-the gutless wonders in the Senate caved to the gun lobby.

    Making unpopular decisions even in the face of emotional connections is often a sign of wisdom, not callousness.

    Or its a sign that you are beholden to a powerful special interest lobby, not the constituents you were elected to represent. Just sayin’.

    There was a lot of this sort of nonsense on “Morning Joe” this morning before I got tired of it and shut it off. One doesn’t get to the United States Senate by being a political moron. This was a high visibility vote on an extremely contentious issue. Each and every Senator thought long and hard about “consequences” before casting their vote. Obviously, 60 percent of them made a calculation that No was the prudent way to go

    Indeed. They decided the prudent thing to do was to vote against the expressed will of the majority of their constituents and the Senate majority in order to do the will of the gun manufacturer’s lobby. Got it.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Tim S.: I tried to untangle that this morning after reading Doug’s piece on it. All of the mainstream reporting had it being voted down 60-40, not failing to achieve the 40 votes needed for cloture.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @ Jenos…
    Three things:
    It’s not a team sport.
    You are a liar.
    You are a conspiracy theorist.

  14. Tim S. says:

    @James Joyner:
    I see you’ve changed the piece. Thanks for the correction.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @ JJ…
    You are choosing to ignore the biggest part of a lobbyists job…influence…and how they influence. Giffords made this argument explicitly when she said:

    “…willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done…”

    Which makes Ted Cruz the perfect example…because he repeated the Gun Lobby lies verbatim for his $50K in chump change…as you call it. Then when confronted with that lie he expanded the lie…which is what liars always do.

  16. And, indeed, nothing in the bill would have stopped Newtown, Aurora, or Blacksburg.

    Whenever I hear this, I’m left with the impression that if an iron-clad never-to-be-violated gun control law was developed that it would gain substantial support.

    If that’s the case, then there should be room for compromise. Would it be fair to take the lack of compromise as a sign of bad faith?

  17. Robert Levine says:

    All of us, including the US Senators who voted down the bill yesterday, are sick about the kids who were murdered that day and grieve for their parents. Most of those Senators have children of their own; many have grandchildren.

    if any Senators had children murdered at Newtown, do you think they would have voted against expanded background checks? The question is not whether we value the lives of children; the question is whether we value them more than unlimited gun rights. Or, in the case of some of the Senators, re-election.

  18. anjin-san says:

    I just can’t see a good argument against background checks, unless you favor unfettered access to guns for criminals and the mentally ill.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    There’s always the hope that, as with gay rights and civil rights before that, the loud and the ignorant and the craven will eventually be overwhelmed by those who aren’t.
    This is likely just another necessary step in that process.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    “…And, indeed, nothing in the bill would have stopped Newtown, Aurora, or Blacksburg…”

    That explosion in Texas happened in spite of regulations meant to prevent it.
    We might as well get rid of all regulations.
    Stupid argument.
    You shold be embarrassed.

  21. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: I’m in favor of background checks. But, hell, I’m in favor of a national gun registry. I think it would have useful effects without harming my rights as a gun owner. I just don’t think it’ll stop spree shootings.

    @C. Clavin: Giffords is using the emotional sting of spree shootings to argue in favor of legislation that won’t stop spree shootings. That’s relevant.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    “…won’t stop spree shootings…”

    Wow…pretty declarative statement.
    In any case you again ignore that the Gun Lobby watered down the legislation.
    Now you are saying the legislation is weak so don’t pass it.
    But you are blaming it’s failure on voters and not the Gun Lobby…that watered down the legislation.

    There is no rational argument against background checks. Background checks can’t even be called gun control…unless you are part of the cult that thinks any regulation, no matter how milquetoast, is an effort to take all their guns.

  23. Boyd says:

    Thanks for refreshing the flow of hippie tears, James. The taste is indescribably marvelous still today.

  24. Dave says:

    “the Senate is supposed to actually listen to testimony, look at the research, and make decisions based on evidence.”

    I am wondering how the senate is supposed to look at evidence, when they pulled any federal money that might investigate gun violence? They purposefully restricted access to the data in the 90’s with the power of the dollar. Now they can vote no on any legislation because there isn’t evidence one way or the other.

  25. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: I’m for background checks, against magazine size restrictions, and agnostic on “assault rifle” bans. (I can see limiting automatic fire and even burst capacity; I see no point in banning semi-auto rifles on account of their looking like military weapons.) But the Newton shooter would have been able to get at his mommy’s guns regardless.

  26. stonetools says:

    @Boyd:

    Thanks for refreshing the flow of hippie tears, James. The taste is indescribably marvelous still today

    Also too the tears of the parents of the first graders slaughtered at Newton. But of course you don’t care about that-just about those guns you like to fondle.

  27. Boyd says:

    @stonetools: You go ahead and dance in the blood of innocent victims while I lap up your tears spawned by your own irrelevance.

  28. Boyd says:

    @James Joyner: Automatic and burst-capable firearms were effectively banned in 1934, James. The anti-gunners are so effective at their lies that they apparently convinced you that the made-up term “assault weapon” is something other than what it really is: a semi-automatic rifle with a military appearance.

    Hence my favorite term for “assault weapon ban:” a dress code for guns.

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Boyd: I knew fully auto weapons were banned during the Great Depression. I wasn’t sure about 3-round burst but thought that the only thing on the market was semi-auto. In which case, I’m not sure why an AR-15 variant is any more dangerous than any other semi-auto, unless it’s a function of bullet caliber. But, surely, a .45 ACP is more lethal than a NATO 5.56 (.223 caliber) round?

  30. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    A nation wide ban on semi-automatic assault rifles would have stopped Adam Lanza and and Jason Holmes from getting AR 15s .
    Magazine size restrictions would have given shooting victims time to rush the shooter (a la Loughner) or get away (A number of children got away when Adam Lanza had to change magazines).
    Background checks that included mentally ill might have stopped Jason Holmes from legally buying weapons.
    All this means is that the meme that the legislation would have not possibly have stopped or alleviated spree shootings is a lie.

  31. @James Joyner:

    Giffords is using the emotional sting of spree shootings to argue in favor of legislation that won’t stop spree shootings.

    Emotional sting? Dude, she can’t blink her eyes at the same time anymore because she was shot in the face.

    @Boyd:

    Thanks for refreshing the flow of hippie tears, James. The taste is indescribably marvelous still today.

    Hippie tears?

    Now I don’t know if Gabby Giffords is a hippie or not, but I’m sure she’s cried many tears since the day she was shot in the face. Whether they are sweet or not, I do not know.

    But they are a drop in the in the bucket compared to the tears shed over the possibility that gun owners will have an extra form to fill out at the gun show.

  32. Boyd says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): Your tears are especially tasty, Herb.

  33. James Joyner says:

    @stonetools: Yes, if we banned and retroactively confiscated all the AR-15s, there would be no AR-15s! But we’re not gonna do the latter, right? How long before had Lanza’s mommy bought the ARs? Because he didn’t buy them.

    There are millions of magazines already out there. I’m not sure how banning the sale of new ones is going to change that.

    Background checks wouldn’t have worked, either, since none of these people would have been on a list of crazies or criminals. I’m in favor of such checks nonetheless. But they wouldn’t have impacted these sprees.

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): Yes, I’m well aware that Giffords has good reason to be emotional. I’m saying that emotionalism isn’t argumentation.

  34. stonetools says:

    @Boyd:

    I’m sorry, bud. The blood of innocent gunshot victims are on the heads of your sort, not on us non-gun owning types.That’s just logic. WE aren’t devoted to getting guns into the hands of everybody with a pulse. That’s just logic. Good try, though. Guess I touched a nerve.

  35. Boyd says:

    @stonetools: And the tears of stonetools,the hippie behind the curtain, are even tastier than Herb’s.

  36. @Boyd: Um….those aren’t tears, bud…..

    (On a serious note…..I know you’re just joking. But you should know, if you want to align yourself with the side that can’t bear background checks that’s one thing. If you want to align yourself with the site that can’t bear background checks and also makes jokes about drinking hippie tears, well…… that’s pretty jerky, don’t ya think?)

  37. Matt says:

    @anjin-san: Oh but you can. Remember the no fly list and how it stopped babies and such from boarding planes? Yeah you think this list will somehow be different? If we just expand the current NICS to private sales then there would be little if any effect on mass shootings or crime itself.

    This is pure speculation and should be taken with a grain of salt as usual. I could easily see the background check system growing out of control much like the sex registry list in order to “save the children”. The no flight list is another example of a background check system that grew out of control.

    As is the current NICS system is quite acceptable assuming there are exceptions allowing for me to let my friends and relatives shoot my firearms while I supervise..

  38. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    James, I know that you know there is a big world out there. In Canada, they have these restrictions. Guess what, there are fewer mass shootings.
    The point is that such laws exist in other countries and they get results. That’s the thing with gun safety laws. They”ve been tried and they work.
    We can discuss these laws in the abstract all we want, and say that they won’t work because XYZ, but the reality is that there are gun safety laws in a lot of countries, and we know what works .

  39. Matt says:

    @James Joyner: Especially when you can already 3d print an ar15 lower receiver and various magazines. The upper receiver doesn’t count as a gun so they are mostly unregulated.

    Hell I know people who can fire their bolt action rifles as fast as you can fire a semi-auto.

  40. Matt says:

    @stonetools Where’s your numbers to back up this assertion? I could easily point to England and say that gun control laws there have increased violent crime!! Despite England effectively banning guns swords and severely restricting knives people are still being killed there at a fair clip…

  41. gVOR08 says:

    Many good points above. I’ll settle for one small point. Giffords didn’t say the 25 mil from the NRA was decisive. She said,

    the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

    What’s the total for all of them?

  42. Boyd says:

    I thought I might be able to bottle and sell all this hippie lachrymosity at a huge profit, but it occurs to me that supply is far outstripping demand today. *sigh*

    I guess I’ll have to go back to handing out fully automatic assault magazines to convicted felons released from prison to make room for all the pot smokers who don’t even have the will to run away from the cops today. I understand The Gun Lobby is passing out wheelbarrows full of cash for that activity.

  43. @James Joyner:

    “I’m saying that emotionalism isn’t argumentation.”

    Yes, but you’re saying it to the wrong people. That’s a message possibly better delivered to the guys who are currently freaking out over the non-existent gun grab that will not be taking place anytime soon.

    Remember…we can’t get background checks because a couple of Senators are worried about losing an election. That’s how they feel. But what’s their argument?

    “It won’t work.” But that’s not an argument. That’s an assertion. You can say that it wouldn’t have prevented Loughner or Lanza or Holmes, but you can’t say it won’t prevent the next guy. There’s no way you can know that.

    Now I understand the mentality on the right here. It’s always a slippery slope. Give in on background checks, next thing you know the damn hippies will demand magazine limits. That is also not an argument. Not a valid one, anyway.

    So maybe “both sides” need to look at their emotionalism quotient, and maybe the side who does NOT have public opinion on their side should back down.

    Or maybe we should all clink glasses and drink hippie tears.

  44. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    Background checks that included mentally ill might have stopped Jason Holmes from legally buying weapons.

    Not only Holmes–I think it was well-established back in 2007 that if Seung-Hui Cho’s mental health information had been available to the instant check system, he wouldn’t have been able to purchase the weapons he used in the Virginia Tech massacre.

  45. C. Clavin says:

    “…But the Newton shooter would have been able to get at his mommy’s guns regardless…”

    So do nothing.
    Brilliant.

  46. C. Clavin says:

    @ Stonetools…
    Same with Health Care.
    But it won’t work in the US.
    Because…well…FETUS!!!!!!
    Or at least that was the cults answer on another thread.

  47. stonetools says:

    href=”#comment-1731934″>Matt:

    Sure.

    TheNewDeal ‏@TheNewDeal 14 Dec Gun Deaths – 2011: Japan 48, Great Britain 8, Switzerland 34, Canada 52, Israel 58, Sweden 21, Germany 42, UNITED STATES 10,728

    That stat tells you all need to know. Those countries combined have a population close to that of the USA, yet they have a combined 263 gun homicides. We have forty times that many.
    The difference-they have rational gun safety legislation and we don’t. THE END.

    I’ll take the UK’s EIGHT GUN HOMICIDES, over whatever miniscule increase in violent crime, variously defined, that the UK experienced.

  48. Boyd says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):

    Or maybe we should all clink glasses and drink hippie tears.

    I’ll drink to that!

  49. James Joyner says:

    @Mikey: Holmes had visited a campus shrink; he surely wouldn’t have made a database. Cho was more likely, although even he was never committed. I suspect the mental health community would balk at having negative consequences associated with simply going in to discuss anxieties with a mental health professional.

    @C. Clavin: For the nth time now, I support background checks. I simply point out, for the nth time now, that the countermeasures Gifford so emotionally argues for using dead children as her justification wouldn’t have actually kept those children alive.

  50. Boyd says:

    @C. Clavin: When you’re drowning your sorrows due to your devastating defeat, it’s better for you and all concerned if you’re a happy drunk instead of a bitter one.

  51. Hoot says:

    @C. Clavin: “So do nothing.”

    We’re not doing nothing. You’re posting your typically irrational comments. Boyd is drinking hippie tears. The rest of us are enjoying our popcorn.

  52. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: You’re probably right about Holmes–he’d never been committed for treatment.

    Cho actually had been committed, although only for outpatient treatment, which he did not follow up on. Had he been committed for inpatient treatment, it’s much more likely the NICS would have been aware.

    That kind of discrepancy, and the confusion it inevitably causes, strikes me as something we should fix.

  53. Matt says:

    @stonetools: We’ve already been through this. The USA has a much higher crime rate overall then Japan. We also have a lot more car related deaths and such too. The Japanese mentality is lightyears away from the average American mentality. Not to mention the physical geographical differences. You can’t just compare the numbers directly like that and you know it.

    It wasn’t a miniscule increase in violent crime it was a large jump. England actually has more assaults and such per capita then the USA last I checked.

  54. James Joyner says:

    @Mikey: To be clear: I’m happy to have a database where the likes of Holmes and Cho are listed and to deny them the right to buy guns absent some sort of subsequent medical clearance. I just doubt that we’ll even get to to first part for fear of chilling effect and stigmatization.

  55. wr says:

    @Hoot: Hey Jenos — You accidentally posted as Hoot again.

  56. matt bernius says:

    @stonetools:

    In Canada, they have these restrictions.

    Some of these restrictions, but not all. And definitely not an Assault Weapons ban as implemented in the US.

    Again, what would make *so much more sense than a ban* would be implementing a licensing system for semi-automatic long guns with detachable magazines (which, I believe is along the lines of what Canada did). Essentially treat them like pistols (though I’d prefer a national pistol licensing system).

    People would still be able to purchase hunting rifles with fixed magazines — including semi automatic rifles — without any license (preserving American’s hunting gun tradition). But for any step above that — including concealed carry — your would need a license.

    The fact is — going forward — that would actually have a higher probability of stopping mass shootings than the proposed laws.

  57. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    James Joyner says:
    Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:07

    @anjin-san: I’m in favor of background checks. But, hell, I’m in favor of a national gun registry. I think it would have useful effects without harming my rights as a gun owner. I just don’t think it’ll stop spree shootings.

    Then you support the wrong effin’ party.

    Full stop.

  58. matt bernius says:

    To some degree, I think the posters who have suggested that the right way to go about this — at least at the beginning — is on the state level are entirely correct.

    Like it or not, we have a far more entrenched (and constitutionally protected) federalist system than most of the countries that have passed sweeping gun reforms. As we’re seeing with Gay Marriage, the harsh reality is that you need to build momentum for change at the statehouse level. It’s only after getting a coalition of state governments (and state populations) on board that there is any real hope of using federal legislation to bring the rest along (because, as we know, some state will have to be “brought along” kicking and screaming).

    That said, a lot of the gun control legislation being enacted in progressive states is — IMHO — taking us down the wrong path.

  59. @James Joyner:

    the countermeasures Gifford so emotionally argues for using dead children as her justification wouldn’t have actually kept those children alive.

    We get it.

    Would drinking hippie tears have done the trick?

    (Man, talk about a double standard. The right’s ideas won’t prevent any murders, either.)

  60. Boyd says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): hic! I’ve got plenty here to share with you, Herb. hic! James. hic! Whoever. hic!

  61. JKB says:

    @James Joyner: I’m happy to have a database where the likes of Holmes and Cho are listed and to deny them the right to buy guns

    What everyone likes to skip over it due process. Right now,

    Currently, veterans who have a VA-appointed fiduciary to help them with their benefits are deemed “mentally defective” and are reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

    The amendment would have required that a judicial authority determine that VA beneficiaries pose a danger to themselves or others before they can be added to the database that would prevent them from owning a gun.

    But the amendment to give these veterans due process, i.e., the right to challenge the denial of their 2nd amendment rights before a judge, was voted down.

    So while it is good to talk about keeping firearms from those with mental issues, the real problem is everyone wants to this on the word of a psychologist, psychiatrist or bureaucrat without the right to challenge it before a judge with a court appointed attorney representing.

    Giving due process would not prevent a temporary suspension of say a week until a preliminary hearing could held. But just putting someone on a list is the wrong way to go and is ripe for abuse. Hence, why people fear those in need of mental services will avoid seeking help. And also why providers are reluctant to enter the data.

    With due process, a lot of the concern over abuse is abated.

  62. stonetools says:

    @Matt:

    (Shrug)
    We have been through this. Culturally, the UK, Canada, and Germany AREN’T that different from the USA. Hell, an alien from Mars would have a tough time telling an American apart from a Brit, much less from a Canadian. There isn’t really “light years” difference even between modern Japan and the modern USA.
    My understanding is the violent crime statistics in the UK count different incidents than those in the USA and the so-called spike in violent crime statistics in the UK reflects this.

    But criminologists say crime figures can be affected by many factors, including different criminal justice systems and differences in how crime is reported and measured.

    New Home Secretary Alan Johnson is to make his first major speech on crime today
    In Britain, an affray is considered a violent crime, while in other countries it will only be logged if a person is physically injured.
    There are also degrees of violence. While the UK ranks above South Africa for all violent crime, South Africans suffer more than 20,000 murders each year – compared with Britain’s 921 in 2007.
    Experts say there are a number of reasons why violence is soaring in the UK. These include Labour’s decision to relax the licensing laws to allow round-the-clock opening, which has led to a rise in the number of serious assaults taking place in the early hours of the morning.
    But Police Minister David Hanson said: ‘These figures are misleading.
    Levels of police recorded crime statistics from different countries are simply not comparable since they are affected by many factors, for example the recording of violent crime in other countries may not include behaviour that we would categorise as violent crime.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html#ixzz2QqpuiDNr
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  63. @Boyd: Keep it up, bud, and when you pass out, I’m gonna steal your guns and sell them on the street. Don’t worry, though. You can buy them back….and you won’t even need to pass a background check.

  64. grumpy realist says:

    As said, we’re not going to do anything about gun regulation in the US. We’ve got too many males who look guns upon as extensions of their dicks.

    I’m just surprised that terrorists mess around with bombs and such, when we’ve got a lot of weapons of mass destruction much more available.

    The only hope I have is that the idiots who think that shooting irresponsibly is fun will all kill each other (or their families) off. Sure, leave an unlocked gun right near a toddler. Nothing could possibly happen, right?

  65. Andre Kenji says:

    @stonetools:

    We have been through this. Culturally, the UK, Canada, and Germany AREN’T that different from the USA.

    They are not. In Germany, Canada and in the UK, no one goes to living in the streets if they lose their job. The United States treats the losers in the society badly, more than many of the so called Third World countries.

    This point of guns is exemplar. One thing is the right of owning guns, another thing is to own a gun and to be obsessed with the government or criminals attacking you. Many Americans that own guns are more paranoid about crime than me, that lives in a much more violent country, Brazil.

  66. Matt says:

    @stonetools: We’re not that different? Are you nuts? Ever seen how they react to a boob being shown on the TV? You’ve seen how we react…. That’s not even getting into the differences in violence on TV even… There’s a world of a difference between Germany and the USA (I’ve been there) and even Canada (been there too). If anything Canada is probably the closest and that only exists in certain areas of Canada.

    Really you’re going to claim there’s no difference between Japan and the USA in culture? How clueless are you? I thought at the very least the whole Asian mentality of the group over the individual would of been obvious to you.

    As for your link I was already accounting for that difference. That’s why I wasn’t yelling about violent crime being 5x worse there because that talking point is what your article is about. The reality is even if you adjust for the difference in reporting you still find England to be way ahead of us.

    Now about those statistics?

  67. anjin-san says:

    @ Boyd

    “Hippie tears” – does that pass for clever in your neighborhood?

    I read somewhere that over a million Americans have died of gunshot wounds since John Lennon’s murder. If we are not sociopaths, a few tears are probably called for.

  68. anjin-san says:

    @ Andre Kenji

    Frightened people are easy to manipulate. The American right has been running on a steady diet of fear-mongering for a long time now. The rubes lap it up like cream.

  69. anjin-san says:

    @ Matt

    So what is your answer to dealing with the epidemic of gun violence in this country? Say, “It’s hard, I give up?”

    I see where you are coming from with your concerns about things like the “no fly” list, but it’s worth noting that if conservative were not working tirelessly to break the government, a lot of government programs would probably work better.

  70. Franklin says:

    @Boyd: Is there something more to this animosity towards Herb, or are you just feeling like a dick today? Usually you seem to give measured responses which I read for a reasonable viewpoint, but my respect has decreased today.

  71. Boyd says:

    @Franklin: Sorry your humor sensor’s busted. You should see someone about that.

    @anjin-san: But Pilot hippie tears are the sweetest yet!

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): I’m not worried, pardner. All my fellow paranoid militia-men are watching out for me.

    When they can tear themselves away from looking for black helicopters, at least.

  72. anjin-san says:

    @Boyd

    So you are auditioning for bithead’s spot? Let us know how it works out for you.

  73. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Three things back at you:

    You’re an idiot;

    You’re an idiot;

    and…

    You’re an idiot.

    Hugs and kisses,

    JI

  74. Boyd says:

    @anjin-san: Pish-tosh, you know better than that. Bit would argue with you. I know that you’ll never succumb to facts and reality, so I just make fun of you.

    And lap up your tasty hippie tears.

  75. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Boyd: I love you and want to bear your children.

    Who will be born armed, of course.

    And we’ll nurse them on hippie tears.

  76. Pharoah Narim says:

    @anjin-san:

    “So what is your answer to dealing with the epidemic of gun violence in this country?”

    I believe there is the rub. Its hard to characterize something that affects apprx. .0001 percent of the population as an “epidemic”. Most people agree over an outcome: No guns for criminals or disturbed people. However, when we start analyzing the policy proposed (along with either the diversion or increase of manning and funding ) for how it will achieve this outcome, it’s not very efficient policy. Proponents of the current measures demagogue critics by insinuating the critic’s position is to do nothing—as if there are no other vehicles to achieving the outcome except their proposal. There are a 10s of thousand of flu-related deaths every year…many which are preventable if the victim had only had their flu shot. A good portion of these are children. Are we to mount a large national regulatory vaccination regime in the hopes of saving “just one innocent victim”? Of course not, we increase awareness, have doctors discuss it with patients more, etc. In other words, we choose a flanking approach rather direct assault.

    There are several angles to attack this problem. I’d like to see 7-8 zeros in front of the 1 for the chance you’d be shot to death instead of 3 zeros but you aren’t going to get there using gun-related legislation short of a handgun ban. We know that won’t happen. What we can have happen is to get people working, making money, enjoying their lives and their families…they are less likely to have an interest in killing someone in that environment. Frankly, I honestly believe that there has been far more passion from left and right over gun control and Obamacare than over getting people productive and sharing in the American experience again. That was something everybody agreed on– that was a wave that would have lifted alot of listing ships we see in society now. Instead, the shot callers have succeeded once again in delivering one timely wedge issue after another to prevent a united front against their real interests.

  77. Boyd says:

    @Jenos: Sorry, after producing several more offspring than my fair share, I’m now sterile. And old. But mostly sterile.

    @Pharoah: When you talk like that, all the hippies can hear is that sound that the adults make on Peanuts TV specials. “Wah-wah wah-wah-wah.” They can tell you’re talking but they can’t understand a word you’re saying.

  78. anjin-san says:

    @ Matt

    Its hard to characterize something that affects apprx. .0001 percent of the population as an “epidemic”

    Do you know if the million gunshot deaths since 1980 is accurate? Is a million dead trivial? If terrorists set off a dirty bomb in an American city and killed a million people, most NRA members would be calling for us to carpet bomb the middle east with nukes. Why do they shrug their shoulders over so many people being killed with guns in the US?

    Your a bright guy, are you really going to stick with this “people die of other stuff, so let’s forget about guns” nonsense?

    What we can have happen is to get people working, making money, enjoying their lives and their families…they are less likely to have an interest in killing someone in that environment.

    Yep, that will help the scores of children that die in gun accidents every year. Well, the parents will be able to afford nicer funerals.

    I’d like to see 7-8 zeros in front of the 1 for the chance you’d be shot to death

    Are you really impressed with these little games you play? Here, let’s try one. About 18,000 Americans will be murdered this year. Meanwhile, almost 600,000 will die of cancer. The murder thing is really insignificant. Let’s stop trying to catch murderers, and let the murderers we have in prison go. Then we can use the money to fight cancer. How can you argue with that logic?

  79. Franklin says:

    @Boyd: I guess I’m still missing the joke; usually I enjoy a good jab (even at myself). But here it just seems like you’re rubbing in a “victory” for “your side” here. And repeating the same “joke” over and over isn’t usually considered high humor.

    Pharaoh Narim:

    What we can have happen is to get people working, making money, enjoying their lives and their families…they are less likely to have an interest in killing someone in that environment.

    I agree that would probably work. But what’s your proposal? (Note: it has to cost less than improved background checks.)

  80. anjin-san says:

    @ Boyd

    What “facts and reality” are you talking about?

    so I just make fun of you.

    Not sure what you are laughing about. This aging hippie is sitting in the backyard of his house in the hills near San Francisco. My backyard is is also my office when the weather is nice, and lately it’s been beautiful. Dinner & a show in the city tomorrow, playing with race cars this weekend. There are thousands of 60s holdovers like me around here.

    So, keep laughing at the hippies, and make sure you pick all the burrs out of your ass. Making fun of people is really only effective if you actually have something on them. If not, you simply sound like a bonehead.

  81. Boyd says:

    @anjin-san: Ah, simply delectable.

  82. anjin-san says:

    @ Boyd

    Ah, simply delectable.

    You and Jenos should do lunch – soul mate city 🙂

  83. anjin-san says:

    12:11 AM EDT, Fri April 19, 2013

    (CNN) — A university police officer has died after being shot on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge late Thursday, according to state police.

    Police and the FBI responded to reports of gunshots at Building 32, according to MIT, which posted a message on its Twitter account. Officers surrounded and cordoned off the building.

    The university, which lies adjacent to the city of Boston, requested people stay away from the building as police consider the situation still active and dangerous.

  84. Stonetools says:

    @Matt:

    I posted my evidence. You didn’t post yours. And with all due respect, we are all talking about modern industrialized democracies here. You are over emphasizing differences that are relatively minor compared to differences say between the USA and Somalia. And you are doing it because you want to claim that a legislative scheme that works quite well in Canada could NEVER work in the USA because we Americans are SOOOO exceptional. Well, I call bullsh*f.
    The exact same argument was made about the South during the civil rights era. Then it was argued that the South was culturally SOOOO special that that they couldn’t be expected fo live under the same rules as the rest of America and the whites there simply HAD to be allowed to treat blacks as subhuman. Well, guess what, since the 1960s we decided that the South wasn’t so different than the rest of the USA and that the same constitutional and legal system that worked in the North could work in the South as well. And oddly enough, it does work.

  85. matt says:

    @anjin-san: My answer? I’ve already presented it several times. Here’s the same copy paste again.

    First off we NEED to start enforcing our current laws!! Straw buyers and such are rarely prosecuted.

    We need a public option with strong treatment options for mentally ill people (especially for the poor).

    We as a society need to stop glorifying violence and insisting on using it to solve our problems (Iraq the drumbeat for war with Iran etc).

    We need to stop glorifying everything military even when clearly we shouldn’t be.

    We need to close any NICS related loopholes and provide for a free easy way for private sales to involve a NICS. That will fix the gun show loopholes that do exist.

    We need for some tightening in CCW requirements with training and background checks as a minimum requirement.

    We need to stop militarizing the police and focus on community outreach. Removing the stigma of snitching will increase the chances of discovering a shooting plot before it happens.

    We need to look at our culture and ourselves in an honest light.

    We should consider if not outright require gun owners to carry insurance to cover accidents with their firearms.

    We should implement a national FOID card like system with required training classes. I’m worried about this bit because we cannot even get a national ID passed. There’s also the problem that such a requirement could become a method for the government to restrict ownership solely by passing ever ridiculous fees. There’s also the unintended consequences of such a precedent.

    Assuming a world where democrats weren’t introducing bills for the confiscation of guns (see the recent California crap for example). I would be far more open to more things. Unfortunately my suggestions would be used by democrats to indirectly restrict ownership of guns for responsible owners (high fees impossible requirements etc).

    Well in an ideal world I would have a tiered licensing system for weapons with reasonable fees for each tier (not to exceed $100). The lowest tier would be for ownership of a bolt action or pump action, or level action weapon. The next tier up would be for semi-automatics and so on up to REAL assault rifles and such. The lowest tier would require a mandatory safety training course with a reasonable fee itself (maybe part of the license fee). Something that is at the least on par with the hunter safety courses that I went to as a kid. Obviously the top tier would require more advanced training to acquire a license (which would be valid for 4 years at least).

    The license would be revoked if you are found negligent in a court of law.

    Those using firearms while committing a crime would be restricted from future ownership (not sure on how long). Also they probably should face stiffer penalties of some sort.

    I would legalize suppressors for the sake of hunter’s hearing and for those that live near shooting areas. I think England has the right idea on this.

  86. matt says:

    @Stonetools: Culture matters a great deal and your refusal to see that means you have no interest in seeing gun violence for the complex thing it is.

  87. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Franklin: I don’t believe it does have to cost less than background checks because I believe we get more benefit than simply reduced violence from demand side/ pro growth policies. I’ve even evolved on my stance that we should bring back the jobs by almost any means necessary. What we need is any amount of stimulus we can jar loose out Congress combined with a united push for good old fashion trust busting ( Sherman Anti-Trust Act?) to allow small and medium sized companies (including banks) into that vacated trade space. Mergers, centralization, and “efficiencies” are actually counterproductive to Capitalism. Violence overall would drop like a rock.

    I have a fairly good feel for the criminal mind having grown up with a good portion of kids that chose to make up their own rules. Heck, even fell in league with them for a couple of years during my rebellious days. I doubt universal background checks would target enough of people we want them to…a few yes. Again, the outcome is keeping guns away from felons and psychopaths. Just because someone was denied a weapon via background check doesn’t mean they didn’t later obtain a weapon. If fact, for a criminal it almost assuredly didn’t. Most people don’t understand how goal driven the criminal mind is….twisted, but driven no less for whatever outcome they want to achieve. For private sellers, we may have success with establishing a quick EASY electronic verification system and passing legislation that holds you criminally liable for weapons sales to disturbed persons. The goal being to limit private sellers to customers they are familiar with. If you don’t know the customer and don’t want to check them out….sell the gun to a dealer and keep it moving.

  88. matt says:

    @Pharoah Narim: Strongly agree with you.

  89. Rob in CT says:

    While I’m for that sort of concerted effort to “bring back the jobs” I don’t think it’s clear that violence would drop like a rock (more than it’s already been dropping for ~20 years, I mean). There hasn’t been much (any?) uptick since the recession. I wish it were as simple as “give people jobs and they won’t commit acts of violence.”

    As for Giffords, well, let’s say you think she’s 100% wrong. I don’t, but if I did… I’d be inclined to just give her a pass, all things considered. The woman was shot in the head.

  90. stonetools says:

    @matt:

    I agree that culture matters a great deal. But the right legal system matters even more.
    You should understand that your friends the NRA would oppose your tiered licensing approach as just another “gun grabber” scheme put forward by misguided liberals in the service of imposing UN style “tyranny”. They would be much more comfortable with idea that the USA’s “special gun culture” makes gun law reform impossible, and not worth trying.

  91. stonetools says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    I don’t believe it does have to cost less than background checks because I believe we get more benefit than simply reduced violence from demand side/ pro growth policies.

    With all due respect, I think you are wrong about this -A clue should have been that Boyd liked it :-). Don’t get me wrong, I’m for the government doing more to promote economic growth. But there is no correlation between gun homicide rates and economic growth.
    In 2011 the facts are that there were 8 gun homicides in the UK, 48 in Japan and 10,728 in the USA. THe economies of Japan and the UK were not more bouyant than the US’s in 2011-if anything, the contrary.
    Promoting economic development is a good thing in itself. But saying that economic growth will help with gun homicide rates is like saying that excercise will help with cancer. What helps with cancer is not excercise, but cancer-specific therapies.
    In the same way, what will help with gun homicides will be gun reform laws, not just general economic growth. And, contrary to what you believe, gun reform laws DO work.

  92. Caj says:

    You go Gabby! Those gutless shameful Senators who are scared to death of the NRA will pay the price. Decent human beings will not let this matter rest. Gun rights before peoples rights!! That’s what it boiled down to for those pathetic excuses for human beings who voted no. Should have had the guts to stand up for what was right and tell the NRA to go fly a kite! Shame on them. Shame on them all!

  93. Boyd says:

    Y’see, I was all prepared to let it go and give the hippie tears a rest, then Caj has to show up, all petulant and whiny, whetting my thirst for those sweet, sweet lachrymal secretions from the cannabis cloud.

    Be careful you don’t injure yourself when you stamp your widdle foot, or bite your lip when you stick it out in an impotent pout, Caj. If you keep up your hollow threats and plaintive cry of “It’s not fair! And you NRA-lovers are a bunch of mean ol’ poopyheads!” I’ll have enough hippie tears to last a year or more.

  94. LaurenceB says:

    I just finished reading all the comments. Bottom Line: If you came here looking for a right-winger with a sane argument opposing background checks, well… Sorry to disappoint. From that side of the “debate” all you get are dumb jokes over and over and over and over again.

    I still haven’t found anywhere on the internet where conservatives actually debate background checks. It’s like they’ve forgotten how to make a rational case. Or perhaps there is no rational defense for their position. It’s very hard to tell which.

  95. Jack says:

    These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

    You’re shocked, shocked!

    Did you know that most of the Senators who vote against tort-reform receive cash from Lawyer groups?

    That politicians and Obama, who constantly pass legislation that favors unions, get lots of money from unions?

    That the reason Democrats (many years ago) enacted laws that could fine someone $250,000 dollars and put them into jail for years — just for copying a movie — received big donations from Hollywood?

    Thank God someone is finally exposing this mess!

  96. Jack says:

    @LaurenceB: Why should I debate for a solution without a problem? A stupid solution deserves to be rebuked.

  97. matt says:

    @stonetools: I would oppose it too because people like you and Micheal don’t respect my rights and have openly called for the confiscation of all firearms. There’s too many people like you in the Democratic party for me to be anywhere near interested in actually advocating for a tiered licensing system. When your party stops trying to sneak in legislation that would result in the confiscation of legally registered weapons then I’ll consider it. Till then I have no real interest in compromise with you fanatics.