Gun Control Advocates May Not Like Political Reality, But They Can’t Ignore It

A new poll shows an up-tick in public support for some gun control measures, but gun control advocates can't ignore the political reality that says those restrictions are unlikely to ever become law.

Gun Flag

In the wake of another series of mass and random shootings that began with the murders at an historic African-American Church in Charleston, South Carolina and ended most recently with a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, polling would seem to suggest that the support for some gun control measures has increased yet again, but it’s unlikely to either last or have any enduring political impact:

For the second time since the election of President Obama in 2008, support for stricter gun laws has passed 50 percent in Gallup polling. The other time it happened? Shortly after the massacre of more than two dozen people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Support for stricter laws just jumped to 55 percent, according to Gallup, while the percentage of people thinking they should be kept as they are has dropped to 33 percent. An additional 11 percent want less-strict laws.

The value of this number, of course, lies in how we assume it applies to the enactment of policy. The more public support for a proposal, in theory, the more likely that proposal is to become law. The ongoing debate over how to respond to mass shooting incidents constantly leverages bits of data like this one as a suggestion for how the American public would like its leaders to proceed.

On guns in particular, though, these numbers haven’t effected much change.

In part, that’s because there’s a gap between questions like this and political practicality. Saying “gun laws should be stricter” is different than saying “I believe that we should ban certain types of weapons.” Tightening restrictionsfor those with mental health problems would make gun laws more strict, and the National Rifle Association has advocated for such policies in the past, but it’s not what many gun control advocates really want to see. We repeatedly hear that Americans overwhelmingly support increased background checks, which they do — but it’s not clear how that translates into specific policies that Americans would support.

The aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings continues to be instructive. The measures proposed in the wake of that tragedy included an expansion of background checks at gun shows. That proposal was blocked by a minority of the Senate and never reconsidered — despite the fact that Gallup’s poll showed a similar spike in support for stricter laws.

Why? Because gun control advocates didn’t have the necessary political leverage to change a few senators’ minds. Some red-state Democrats worried about losing their reelection bids in 2014 bailed on the cause. Of the four who voted against the proposal for non-procedural reasons, only one is still in office.

The chart that accompanies the article is illustrative of what’s going on here, and what it most likely means:

Post Gun Control Chart

Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that this poll in and of itself doesn’t really tell us very much about public attitudes on specific gun control issues, or how important voters will actually think this issue is when it comes time to vote. An affirmative response to a question about whether laws covering the sale of firearms should be “more strict” doesn’t tell us, for example, what the voters questioned might thing about specific proposals, or what they might think when they head to the polls to vote next year. In the wake of the shootings in Oregon, of course, President Obama tried to ignite a public debate on the issue with a statement and press conference that pretty much just amounted to empty rhetoric about policies that most likely wouldn’t work and wouldn’t have done anything to stop any of the recent shootings even if they did. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, responded to the shootings in Oregon by unveiling what she said would be an aggressive push for broader gun control laws if she’s elected President, including the possibly use of Executive Orders and other powers if Congress fails to act. More recently, Clinton used last week’s Democratic Presidential debate to attack her chief rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for a record on gun control issues that doesn’t fit easily into the Democratic Party’s current narrative and even suggested that she would consider the type of mandatory gun buyback program, essentially gun confiscation, utilized by Australia in 1996 and 2003. The odds that much or any of this would be implemented if Clinton becomes President, though, especially the most radical ideas like gun confiscation, lies somewhere between slim and none because of the nature of the gun debate in the United States.

As the chart above shows, and as I’ve noted before, the American public has been supportive of many gun control proposals for some time now, at least according the polls. This is especially true of the proposals for expanded background checks that would cover private sales not handled by federally licensed firearms dealers, which polling has shown has near-universal support even among self-identified Republicans and conservatives. Despite that polling, though, actually getting anything passed by a legislature has been next to impossible at the Federal level and only possibly on the state level in jurisdictions that are strongly controlled by Democratic Governors and legislatures such as New York and Connecticut. The main reason for this is that the polls that show broad public support for some gun control measures usually don’t delve further into voter attitudes to find out just how important the issue actually is compared to the myriad of other issues that voters are faced with. As I noted in the wake of the Charleston shootings, when polls do this, it quickly becomes apparent why the fact that there is broad public support for some forms of gun control doesn’t necessarily translate into legislative action.

In the wake of the massacre of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School by Adam Lanza, we saw a spike in public support for at least some forms of gun control, a phenomenon which caused many supporters of these measures to believe we’d reached a tipping point in a battle that has been going on for decades now. What both polling and actual election results tell us, though, is that gun control is a low priority issue for the vast majority of Americans, which means that the fact that a particular candidate may be more in tune with public opinion on that issue is no guarantee that they can actually win elections. We can see this in the fact that the failure of Manchin-Toomey led to no backlash at all against the Senators who blocked the bill from proceeding when elections rolled around. Additionally, while support for gun control had risen in the wake of Sandy Hook, that support quickly began to fade to the point where, by the one year anniversary of the shootings, public opinion on those issues had returned to the levels it was at prior to the attack. Conversely, it is also very apparent that the one group for whom gun control is something of a high priority issue are people who oppose it, as we say evidenced in the successful efforts in Colorado to recall legislators who had voted for the laws enacted in that state after Sandy Hook. That phenomenon continued into the 2014 elections, where even the millions of dollars thrown behind gun control efforts by the likes of Michael Bloomberg had little to no impact on the outcome of actual elections. By November of last year, gun control was at the bottom of the list of issues that most Americans said they were considering in deciding which candidates to vote for. As long as this remains the case, the political efforts to enact stricter gun control will fail. Indeed, Karl Rove was correct earlier this week when he said that the only way we’d see real political success for the gun control movement would be if the Second Amendment were repealed, although even that suggestion led some of the more paranoid elements on the right to falsely claim that he was advocating repeal of the Second Amendment. Rove is right, of course, mostly because if we actually lived in a world where there was enough support and intensity to achieve something like repealing one of the elements of the Bill of Rights, then there would also obviously be support for the kind of laws that gun control advocates continue to fail to get enacted except in the deepest of deep blue states.

This is the political reality of the gun control debate in the United States, and it’s why the proposals for tighter gun restrictions are likely to fail for the foreseeable future at the Federal level and in states that have a sizable Republican presence or a Republican majority. Unless gun control advocates can find a way to change that reality, they are unlikely to succeed in their efforts, and they are most certainly unlikely to succeed in passing some of the more radical ideas that they talk about such as Hillary Clinton’s favorable comments about what amounts to no less than gun confiscation. The fact that even the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School failed to move the needle significantly on this issue, or more importantly to change the political calculus one iota, suggests that their efforts in this regard will largely end in failure.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Yep, just like when same sex marriage was never going to happen. And then, overnight: it did.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Isn’t Doug the same guy that said the Occupied Movement would lead nowhere…and yet here are Clinton and Sanders on the national stage talking about inequality. Hmmmm.
    And isn’t Doug the same guy that said Obama would accomplish nothing as a lame duck…just before he reached an historic agreement with Iran? Hmmmm.
    In any case….
    Shame this 3 year child had to die, and his 6 year old brother will have to live with it for the rest of his miserable life, because we can’t implement common sense regulations.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/chicago-siblings-fatally-shot
    And Doug’s answer…meh.
    I think…contra Doug and his amazing prognostication ability…that we will soon reach a tipping point. For sure there was a time when Doug said we’d never stigmatize tobacco. And yet….

  3. C. Clavin says:

    I’m sure the others, who like to lubricate and stroke their guns, will be along soon to agree with Doug.

  4. pajarosucio says:

    Is getting any gun control legislation passed through this Congress feasible? No.

    Should people continue to push for changes they wish to see? Yes.

    Is it possible that the widespread belief in this country about the sanctity of firearms can be eroded through reasonable people being willing to speak out and make logical arguments against this notion that “guns are the answer”? Yes.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Right now Congress is, legislatively, a lost cause.

  6. Mu says:

    I’m just wondering how much the latest wave of democratic blustering is calculated politics, and why. It looks like Clinton is trying to make gun control a litmus test for democrats just like the anti-abortion and no tax pledges have become mandatory for republicans. As it sure doesn’t help the republicans to have sine qua non conditions you wonder where the benefit for the Ds is.
    And by throwing in confiscations she’s definitely raising the one specter that allows the NRA to not look as stupid as they usually do with their all or nothing position.
    Like half of the important issues in this country another item has joined the ranks of political deadlock, with any changes only possible due to SCOTUS decisions. Pretty bad if a president’s real legacy is not what he achieved politically but how his supreme court nominations turned out in the long run.

  7. Pete S says:

    So one party is bought and paid for by the NRA, people who want some more restrictions should just give up? I don’t know anyone who wants to eliminate all guns but most people I know don’t see the status quo as sustainable.

  8. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Don’t stop believing, but for my money, Americans are simply not good enough people, in aggregate, to do what other countries can do related to this problem. We have good people, for sure, just not enough who are society-centric enough to do this.

  9. stonetools says:

    This is the political reality of the gun control debate in the United States, and it’s why the proposals for tighter gun restrictions are likely to fail for the foreseeable future at the Federal level

    Substitute “civil rights,” “tobacco regulation” and “same sex marriage” and Doug would have been right in 1950, 1955, and 2000 respectively.These battles are always impossible to win-until they’re won.
    Now Doug opposes gun control and favors same sex marriage. Now Doug, would you really have counseled same sex marriage advocates to “give up and face political reality” in 2000 or in 2004, after a wave of anti SSM amendments passed? Serious question.

  10. Stan says:

    The year after I graduated from high school Emmett Till was lynched for flirting with a white girl. If somebody had told me then that I’d live to see an African-American president I’d have worried about his sanity. I felt the same way when gay marriage first came up as an issue. All those of us who believe in change can do is to keep on plugging away until our opponents change their minds or simply die off.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Dude. Come on. The American people just in my lifetime have come a huge long distance, on race, on gender, on war and peace, on religious freedom, on all aspects of tolerance. My Chinese daughter with learning differences just started high school with bright blue hair. There are three things just in that one sentence that would have been infinitely harder if not impossible to deal with 30 years ago.

  12. stonetools says:

    @Mu:

    At times you you won’t be able to get serious traction on a major issue unless you do make it a matter of crucial interest for the Party. This is a matter involving 30,000 mostly unnecessary deaths a year. That’s half a Vietnam War’s worth of deaths every year, mostly because a bunch of people who apparently worship guns refuse to allow even common sense restrictions on possession and use.Well, screw it, maybe this is the Civil Rights Movement or SSM rights struggle of our time and maybe we just have to overcome, rather than wait for the gun cultists to compromise.

    by throwing in confiscations she’s definitely raising the one specter that allows the NRA to not look as stupid as they usually do with their all or nothing position.

    When did Hillary talk about “confiscations”? I’m afraid I’m going to need a quote, not some overheated screed from Hot Air or someplace. I note the gun worshippers describe even background checks in terms of “confiscation”, which is yet another reason to think they will never agree to any compromises.

  13. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @stonetools: Even mentioning Australia is tantamount to prying the gun out of Charlton Heston’s cold dead hands.

  14. James Pearce says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Isn’t Doug the same guy that said the Occupied Movement would lead nowhere…and yet here are Clinton and Sanders on the national stage talking about inequality.

    That is “nowhere.”

  15. Lit3Bolt says:

    Hey Doug, interesting choice of graphic to go with this article! Of course when I associate Guns with America, I also happen to think of losers firing randomly into crowds and at children, because it happens quite often in America! Maybe they’re just Dadaists and it’s some huge performance art thing?

    So enjoy your victory lap on this issue while it lasts. Because of your resistance to anything reasonable, you’ve effectively put gun control in the hands of the Adam Lanzas and Dylan Roofs of America. You consider their rights superior to the rights of other people to live. Eventually everyone will see you for what you are, and the end result will be no better than it was for the apologists for racism, homophobia, and fascism.

  16. ernieyeball says:

    The motto of the National Rifle Association should be…
    a. Let The Blood Flow
    b. Kill the Children
    c. Suicide is Painless
    d. All Three

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    Please release my comment from moderation.

  18. stonetools says:

    I noticed Doug flits over the policy issues to discuss the “horse race” aspects of this. Readers should be advised that Doug opposes legislation requiring trigger locks as an “unconstitutional violation of gun owner’s rights”. He is apparently OK with the status quo. Let’s review the status quo:

    After spending a few hours sifting through news reports, I’ve found at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself….

    In August, for instance, a 21-month-old in the St. Louis area found a loaded handgun at his grandmother’s house and shot himself in the torso. His mother took him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Earlier in the year a Michigan 3-year-old found a loaded .40-caliber handgun in a closet while his dad and brother were outside. He shot himself in the head and died before rescue workers arrived

    The stories go on and on like this: Roughly once a week this year, on average, a small child has found a gun, pointed it at himself or someone else, and pulled the trigger. Boys are disproportionately likely to do this: I could find only three cases where a girl under the age of 4 wounded someone with a gun. In 13 of the 43 total incidents, a child’s self-inflicted injuries were fatal. In two other cases, another person died after being shot by a toddler: a father in Alabama, and a 1-year-old in Ohio.

    In one instance, a 3-year-old managed to wound both of his parents with a single gunshot at an Albuquerque motel.

    This is the kind of demented, Mad Max status quo that Doug defends as being acceptable because FREEDUMB!

    Peter Daou grew up in Lebanon during its civil war, which as crazy and bloodthirsty as you can imagine a Middle east civil war would be.Commenting open the 6 year old killing the 3 year old, he tweets:

    I grew up in Beirut in a war and this kind of terrible insanity didn’t happen!!

    If the USA in “normal circumstances” is worse than the Lebanese civil war, it’s time for a new political reality.

  19. stonetools says:

    Heh. This happened today:

    It was a bad day for gun nuts running the NRA as the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan largely upheld tough gun safety laws in New York and Connecticut, including restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

    CONCLUSION

    To summarize, we hold as follows:
    (1) The core prohibitions by New York and
    Connecticut of assault weapons and large ‐capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment.

    (a)
    We assume that the majority of the prohibited conduct falls within the scope of Second Amendment protections. The statutes are appropriately evaluated under the
    Constitutional standard of “intermediate scrutiny”—that is, whether they are “substantially related to the achievement of an important governmental interest.”
    (b)
    Because the prohibitions are substantially related to the important governmental interests of public safety and crime reduction, they pass constitutional muster. We
    therefore AFFIRM the relevant portions of the judgments of the Western District of New York and the District of Connecticut insofar as they upheld the constitutionality of state prohibitions on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

    So the political reality isn’t quite as dire for gun sanity as Doug would have you believe.

  20. MBunge says:

    The difference between guns and same-sex marriage, and other examples of social change, is that one is arguing to limit personal freedom and the others were arguing the expand it. And no, freedom from gun violence doesn’t count any more than freedom from having to serve blacks at your business.

    However, while there can be tremendous inertia in cultural attitudes, change can happen. Look at attitudes toward Israel on the Left where sympathy/empathy for the Palestinians is very real, no matter how taboo it remains in our public discourse. The extreme fetishization of gun rights would seem to run the risk of a similar souring effect.

    Mike

  21. grumpy realist says:

    I wonder if the reason we just shrug our shoulders about the 30,000 killed each year via a gun because:

    a) they’re suicides and I’ll never commit suicide that way
    b) if Daddy is so stupid to leave a loaded gun out where his kid gets hold of it and shoots his brother, good riddance–let them all die. They’re all hicks from Tennessee, anyway.
    c) all those people in the ghetto shooting each other: at least they don’t grow up to be a burden on the rest of society.
    and finally: d) I don’t care how many other people die if I can make sure I can have a gun to make me feel safe when I’m feeling scared.

    Result? Another gun-waving nut screeching about “MAH FREEDUMB!”

  22. Mu says:

    @stonetools: When did Hillary talk about “confiscations”?
    No idea if the quote is real, the link in the article goes to a Fox news article.

  23. David M says:

    @stonetools:

    When did Hillary talk about “confiscations”? I’m afraid I’m going to need a quote, not some overheated screed from Hot Air or someplace. I note the gun worshippers describe even background checks in terms of “confiscation”, which is yet another reason to think they will never agree to any compromises.

    Voluntary gun buyback programs are the new confiscation.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    I could quibble, but you’re essentially right. “We” want to take something from “them.”

    Which is exactly why I do not support following the legalistic or legislative roads on this. I don’t want to take their guns, I want them to give up their guns. I want them to enthusiastically, eagerly give up their guns. I want guns to be for gun nuts what the n-word is to southerners. I want their shame.

    They have done a great job of erecting their Maginot Line in front of the Second Amendment. I want to go through Belgium.

  25. Hal_10000 says:

    @stonetools:

    Substitute “civil rights,” “tobacco regulation” and “same sex marriage” and Doug would have been right in 1950, 1955, and 2000 respectively.These battles are always impossible to win-until they’re won.

    Difference. In the case of civil rights and same sex marriage, it was about moving toward more freedom, not less.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    In the case of civil rights and same sex marriage, it was about moving toward more freedom, not less.

    Sorry, no. Somalia has less law than other places, but it is not more free. That’s the classic libertarian blunder — to mistake lack of government constraint for lack of constraint.

    Freedom is about more choices and more opportunities for more people. Good laws make us more free.

  27. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: I hope I’m wrong. That’s why I said don’t stop believing. Your kids maybe will see the change. You and me, not so much. The difference is that those other things don’t affect all of the “me”s out there like this one does.

  28. RM says:

    The reason most gun control measures will fail is that they are “feel good” legislation that will do little or nothing to prevent gun deaths. Magazine limits, “ugly black gun” prohibitions, more background checks and eliminating private sales without a background check would have prevented zero of the last few “mass killings”.

  29. bookdragon says:

    @RM: How about just doing something about the stupid killings resulting from ignorance/carelessness/negligence?

    I was glad to see that the dad who left a gun out for one young kid to get hold of and shoot another was charged. Now, how about we make it a large mandatory fine if you ‘accidentally’ discharge your weapon and shoot through the wall of your neighbor’s home (as happened more than a dozen times just this week)? How about also removing the idiot’s guns until he or she provides proof of successfully completing a gun safety course?

    And before anyone says ‘But the state would making the course impossible!’ as far as I’m concerned, the courses I recall the NRA offering when I was a kid would do just fine. However, a second offense makes it harder to get the guns back, etc. Treat it like we do DUI or reckless driving.

    If I really wanted to see gun ownership go down, I’d say let the people who’ve had a bullet randomly flash through their home sue the idiot responsible for the negligent discharge. If there was ever a case for psychological damages, having to live in fear that the next time the moron next door ‘accidentally’ shoots through the wall he’ll kill your toddler ought to be it.

  30. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:

    In the case of civil rights and same sex marriage, it was about moving toward more freedom, not less.

    What a boneheaded response.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/chicago-siblings-fatally-shot
    In this instance a man was free to mis-handle his gun…but a 3 year old lost everything.
    If we were to pursue simple common sense regulation and training then the man would still have his penile prosthetic AND the kid would be free to pursue life liberty and happiness.
    That’s more freedom.
    Pretty simple math.

  31. jewelbomb says:

    @RM:

    The reason most gun control measures will fail is that they are “feel good” legislation that will do little or nothing to prevent gun deaths.

    Cute, but totally incorrect. The restrictions that you mention would be a move in the right direction, and would be a positive step toward reconfiguring the sick relationship that many Americans have with their guns. Would they have prevented the last few mass killings? Not directly maybe, but they would represent a step toward implementing a sane gun policy that could potentially pave the way for more meaningful reforms. It would show that the right to bear arms in this country is not absolute and would thereby call into question the NRA’s whole extremist agenda. It would show that people actually support common-sense restrictions and pave the way for more a good thing.

    Further, most proponents of regulation are concerned with more than just mass killings (and why the scare quotes, by the way?). Just because regulation wouldn’t have helped with a few recent high-profile cases doesn’t mean they wouldn’t help keep a few people alive.

    Of course, some people think their weird hobby and their Dirty Harry fantasies are more important than the well-being of their fellow citizens, but statistics show they are in the minority.

  32. stonetools says:

    @RM:

    That is a great argument for better gun control measures, not for no gun control measures.
    This is the how the NRA does it:

    1. they oppose and any all gun safety measures, no matter how rational.
    2. As a result of their opposition, only extremely limited measures pass.
    3. When they fail to solve all gun violence problems, they turn around and say , “See? Gun control doesn’t work”.

    Background checks that included mental health histories, for example, quite possibly would have stopped some mass killings: but the NRA opposes those, because schizophrenics have a right to AR15s, I suppose.

  33. Hal_10000 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Sorry, no. Somalia has less law than other places, but it is not more free. That’s the classic libertarian blunder — to mistake lack of government constraint for lack of constraint.

    Dude, seriously? You’re going to right to Somalia? Try an original comparison at some point. At least go as far as, say, Mauritius

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @RM:

    would have prevented zero of the last few “mass killings”

    Red herring.
    Probably little we can do to prevent mass killings…but mass killings are a infinitesimally small fraction of the gun violence in this country. They just get all the press.
    I can only assume you will applaud the death of the toddler who will die later today of a gunshot wound from a neighbor or a sibling. Because, freedom.

  35. Mu says:

    @C. Clavin: None of the rules proposed anywhere in the public debate will prevent the sibling shooting – only a law requiring locked storage would do that. Which for reason unknown to me no one seems to ask for. Luckily those cases are already punishable under child endangerment rules, but if there should be on law it’s that guns need to be kept secure from children under a certain age, e. g. 12 when most states allow children to take hunters safety classes and seem to consider them competent enough to handle guns.

  36. C. Clavin says:
  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: Are you suggesting Mauritius as an example of successful libertarian government? If so, please elaborate. If not, what example would you propose?

    Basically we’re talking about the lunch counter problem. Lunch counter owners were more free when they could discriminate. Black people less. On balance – more freedom with discrimination banned.

  38. C. Clavin says:

    @Mu:

    Which for reason unknown to me no one seems to ask for.

    Not true.
    But here is the NRA explaining why it’s just not necessary.
    https://www.nraila.org/articles/19990729/mandatory-storagetrigger-lock-legislat

  39. bookdragon says:

    @Hal_10000: How about answering the point instead of deflecting?

    How exactly does having to worry about my kid getting shot by some irresponsible idiot’s negligence discharge or some nutcase with a gun and anger management issues make me more free?

  40. stonetools says:

    @Hal_10000:

    n the case of civil rights and same sex marriage, it was about moving toward more freedom, not less.

    In the case of civil rights, white supremacists have been arguing for freedom to subjugate black people since day one of the American Revolution, prompting this Samuel Johnson quote:

    “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes? ”

    White supremacists would describe the post-civil Rights Act period as a move towards LESS freedom-as would opponents of same sex marriage. I would argue that appeals to freedom are like appeals to patriotism-the last refuge of scoundrels.
    In the story I quoted above, some ostensibly “responsible” gun owners exercised their freedom to leave loaded guns around where toddlers and infants would get at them. How did that freedom work out for those children? Yet the NRA opposes any attempt to require gun owners to store weapons safely. Why? Because requiring safe storage would infringe on their right to self defense. If a gun is stored safely ( in a safe, with a trigger lock, or unloaded with the ammunition under lock and key), then it is not available for those iconic situations where the “police is minutes away where seconds count.” This of course feeds into the mythology where guns are inherently safe and only used for “self defense by responsible owners”. Yes, the loaded gun in the bedside table can be useful in the rare home intruder situation- but it is more likely to be used by the inquisitive toddler to shoot himself, statistics show.
    In any case, talk of “freedom” begs the question-freedom for what? And how much freedom? Freedom is always constrained in any system of government. The American people understand that freedom should be properly constrained on public policy and public policy grounds-except in th case of one weapon.Such is life in the modern, NRA deluded USA.

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @stonetools:

    I would argue that appeals to freedom are like appeals to patriotism-the last refuge of scoundrels.

    This.
    Although we probably shouldn’t insult scoundrels by comparing them to the Gun Lobby.

  42. stonetools says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Dude, seriously? You’re going to right to Somalia? Try an original comparison at some point. At least go as far as, say, Mauritius

    So you can’t debunk the Somalia comparison, then? The plain fact is that in lawless area(try eastern Congo, if you don’t like Somalia), people feel less free and indeed flee toward areas of MORE government.
    In any case, why don’t you respond to the question re keeping guns out of the hands of toddlers. You can try to refute Hobbes some other time.

  43. JKB says:

    The more public support for a proposal, in theory, the more likely that proposal is to become law.

    That is not true at all. I’d bet that free ice cream on Thursdays would get a lot of public support, but it is unlikely to become law. And it doesn’t even infringe upon an enumerated right. What becomes law is what is likely to drive people’s votes. And it has been shown that those wanting to keep the right to bear arms will vote the issue. Others not so much.

    The DemProgs like to demonize the NRA, but the NRA isn’t driving anything that isn’t the will of their membership. If they ease off, they quickly feel the ire of their members just like the congresspeople who fail to hold the line.

  44. JKB says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Fixed it for you:

    The motto of the National Rifle Association Democratic Party should be…
    a. Let The Blood Flow – Ignore the inner city shootings and killings each week
    b. Kill the Children – abortion, abortion, especially late term abortion
    c. Suicide is Painless – Physician assisted suicide
    d. All Three

  45. JKB says:

    @bookdragon: If I really wanted to see gun ownership go down, I’d say let the people who’ve had a bullet randomly flash through their home sue the idiot responsible for the negligent discharge. If there was ever a case for psychological damages, having to live in fear that the next time the moron next door ‘accidentally’ shoots through the wall he’ll kill your toddler ought to be it.

    You mean like one can under American tort law today and have been able to do since before guns were invented?

    How about we open the federal government and Democrat-operative bureaucrats when the federal HUD puts a stop to a working crime prevention program in public housing projects and the residents who had been able to return to sleeping in their beds have to go back to sleeping on the floor due to gang and drug related shooting returning to common occurrences? This happened in an area a friend patrolled in the late 1990s. Working with the older residents, they had put a stop to the shootings and overt drug selling, but Clinton’s HUD came in and said all public housing had to follow the same rules. Before Clinton was out of office, the place had become a shooting gallery again. So how about the residents be able to sue idiot bureaucrats personally and recover damages from the ideological driven actions?

  46. JKB says:

    On the one hand we have DemProgs advocating for lawful gun owners to be shot.

    On the other, we have reality of life in a DemProg controlled community

    So who is being more rational? Who has more at stake in ensuring they vote the way they feel.

    Who is for more individual liberty?

  47. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    the NRA isn’t driving anything that isn’t the will of their membership.

    Actually they are. Universal background checks for all gun purchases gets 74% support even from NRA members….it’s just under 90% for the public in general. The NRA opposes this. Shocking.
    The NRA is nothing more than a lobbyist for the gun industry. Any membership it has is just a front for it’s real business.
    Wrong again, JKB…as per usual.

  48. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:
    One writer posts something and now Progressives are for this?
    No wonder you are always wrong about everything…you have no fwcking common sense.
    What a maroon.

  49. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Oh my…a down vote.
    Apparently somebody doesn’t like that he or she is a dupe for the NRA.
    Tsk-tsk.

  50. stonetools says:

    Here’s another thing that happened yesterday:

    Concerned about rising reports of close calls and safety risks involving drones, the government announced Monday it will require many of the increasingly popular unmanned aircraft to be registered.

    Pilot sightings of drones have doubled since last year, including near manned airplanes and at major sporting events, and there are reports of interference with wildfire-fighting operations, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a news conference.

    “These reports signal a troubling trend,” said Federal Aviation Administration chief Michel Huerta. Registration will increase pressure on drone operators to fly responsibly, he said, adding, “When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.”

    The FAA now receives about 100 reports a month from pilots who say they’ve seen drones flying near planes and airports, compared with only a few sightings per month last year. So far there have been no accidents, but agency officials have said they’re concerned that a drone weighing only a few pounds might cause serious damage if it is sucked into an engine or smashes into an airliner’s windshield.

    Note that there is no dispute that drones need to be regulated. There are obvious public health policy considerations here so people just take it for granted that drones need to be registered and otherwise regulated for safety. No one says “If drones are outlawed, only outlaws will have drones” or insists on their absolute, Fifth Amendment right to do with their property as they like. Of course , there is no mythology about drones being a symbol of manhood and freedom and as yet no huge industry lobby insisting that drones shouldn’t be regulated. There is also no disaffected group of drone owners clutching their drones as symbols of some lost era when life was good for them, so rationalism prevails.

  51. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @bookdragon: Hal is not concerned with youbeing more free; his concern is for all the Hal’s out there that are willing to let you worry so that they can be more free. And if a few kids die and a few suicides happen, well that’s certainly tragic, but…

  52. ernieyeball says:

    @JKB:..Ignore the inner city shootings and killings each week

    U mean like this?
    http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/29301326/new-billboard-in-orange-mound-puts-twist-on-black-lives-matter

  53. ernieyeball says:

    @stonetools:..Note that there is no dispute that drones need to be regulated.

    Well, almost no dispute…
    https://reason.com/blog/2015/10/16/feds-to-try-to-make-people-register-dron

  54. stonetools says:

    @ernieyeball:

    The libertarians might want to kick up dust, but they ride passenger jets too. Trust me , even they understand that they don’t want some drone flying into their jet while it is trying to land. At this point, they are just offering token resistance against a clear case for regulation. Note that even they don’t say drones shouldn’t be regulated-they’re just muttering that the FAA isn’t doing a good job of it.

  55. Tyrell says:

    I think that any sort of gun “confiscation” would be unfairly punishing the innocent law abiding citizens who are sportsmen, hunters, collectors, gun enthusiasts, explorers, campers, competition participants, and those individuals who make their own equipment.
    I am certainly not opposed to outlawing private ownership of certain machine guns (historic Gatlin guns would still be legal to own, but subject to safety rules of operation).
    If they want to control something, it should be violent criminals. That is what they need to “confiscate”

  56. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Dude, seriously? You’re going to right to Somalia?

    Hey, I’m not the one who equated more law with less free. If you have an actual argument — or a ‘clarification’ of what you really meant — I’m all ears. Otherwise, yeah, you need to explain why Somalia isn’t an archetype of freedom.

  57. ernieyeball says:

    @Tyrell:..If they want to control something, it should be violent criminals. That is what they need to “confiscate”.

    Who is “they” in these sentences?