Gun Control and Public Opinion

90 percent of Americans support background checks for gun purchases. They are unlikely to be enacted into law.

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President Obama notes that “Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun. More than 80 percent of Republicans agree. More than 80 percent of gun owners agree.” He concludes, “There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get this done.”

But we’re almost certainly not going to “get this done.” Why?

Jonathan Chait points to another line in the president’s speech:

At his remarks today touting support for background checks on guns, President Obamasaid, ”Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.” Actually, since background checks command 90 percent in the polls but lack support from Republicans in Congress, pretty clearly millions of voices calling for change are less powerful than holding a House majority. They’re also less powerful than a Senate majority. Or even 41 Senators, who can stop anything they want. A well-funded lobby probably beats millions of voices calling for change, too.

Basically, everything is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.

Jonathan Bernstein doesn’t go quite that far, but explains,

See, the problem here is equating “90 percent in the polls” with “calling for change.” Sure, 90 percent of citizens, or registered voters, or whoever it is will answer in the affirmative if they’re asked by a pollster about this policy. But that’s not at all the same as “calling for change.” It’s more like…well, it is receiving a call. Not calling.

Those people who have been pushing for marriage equality? They were calling for change. And marching for it, demanding it, donating money to get it, running for office to achieve it and supporting candidates who would vote for it, filing lawsuits to make it legal. In many cases, they based their entire political identity around it.

Action works. “Public opinion” is barely real; most of the time, on most issues, change the wording of the question and you’ll get entirely different answers. At best, “public opinion” as such is passive. And in politics, passive doesn’t get results.

He adds,

Action is hard! Action can be painful. Action is risky. Action is unpredictable. We all have plenty of other things to do, after all. For the most part, we only take action when we can’t do other things — when something is so wrong that we just have to do something about it. It’s almost impossible to manufacture that artificially…that’s why presidential attempts to go over the heads of Congress to the people rarely work. Not because Congress will ignore their constituents. But because a president, no matter how eloquent or popular, isn’t going to stir people to action on something just because they happen to agree with him. Meaningful action is too big a commitment for the tiny signal of a presidential exhortation to get it to happen. It usually take something with a much more direct effect on our day to day lives. But if it does happen, look out.

In polling, there’s a distinction between the content, duration, and intensity of opinion. That someone supports Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, thinks the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting, that people of the same sex should be allowed to marry, or that assault rifles should be banned is a measure of the content of opinion. It’s important although, as Bernstein notes, we need to be careful that we’re measuring it accurately. We need to also factor in duration; that is, how long and consistently that opinion has been held. A sudden surge in support for Rand Paul after his filibuster, for example, probably doesn’t tell us anything useful about his prospects in 2016. Finally, the intensity of opinion tells us about passion. It’s arguably the most important, at least in terms of predicting policy outcomes.

Related to intensity is what social scientists call salience. That is, how important an issue is to a given individual. So, for example, most Americans probably mildly oppose paying farmers not to grow milk or subsidies to jack up the price of milk. But those policies stay in place because the small minority that supports those policies have a real stake in the issue and therefore support it with passion and organize to keep their subsidies in place. As the phrase goes, “Who cares more?” is often what matters.

The same is true to a lesser extent with guns. While there’s usually a spike in restrictionist sentiment after highly publicized incidents, it tends to be of short duration because it’s just not that salient to most of us. Gun owners, and especially gun enthusiasts, however—not to mention the gun industry—maintain high intensity for the duration.

FILED UNDER: General
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. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This blog post and the underlying items to which it cites blithely stroll by so many giant neon elephants (donkeys, really) in the room that it’s staggering.

    Congress tomorrow could enact a national background check law. Provided, however, that Democrats and their puppet masters were willing and able to compromise. You know, the way in which legislation is supposed to be enacted.

    National background checks are a no brainer, if simultaneously Congress preempted and abrogated state and local gun restrictions. Hell, even a limited national assault rifle ban could be enacted, believe it or not, if in exchange the Dems allowed preemption of all state and local gun restrictions, fundamental tort reform for gun merchants and supermajority requirements for any further run restrictions. But the chances of the post-Chicago ’68 Democrat Party compromising on one of their hot button items only are slightly less than the chances of eliminating high rates of gun violence, murder, poverty, crime, dropouts, teen pregnancies and unemployment, in big liberal cities controlled for decades by liberal Democrats. You’re connecting the obvious dots, right?

    So of course national background checks are not going to be enacted. It takes two to tango.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    The gun rights activist know that if the Democrats pass a law that says that the government has to say yes before an individual is allowed to purchase or own a gun, then the government can always just say “NO.”

    Look at the concealed carry permit laws where even after the laws are passed in states, some countries and cities refuse to comply with the law and say “NO” to everyone that applies for a concealed-carry permit.

    Maybe the Democrats should go back and say that they were wrong in the Heller decision and that individual citizens actually do have a right to own weapons and the government should be limited in its ability to control that. When the progressives took an absolutist position, they should expect the other side to dig in. In the long run, progressives want to ban the individual ownership of weapons (the Supreme Court already has four votes for that position) and the progressives believe they will eventually get to ban the individual ownership of weapons.

  3. HelloWorld! says:

    Very good point. Liberals (a group to which I belong) especially do not maintain intensity on their point of view. They might feel strongly about something, but the minute politics don’t seem to be going their way they just drop it. “Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it, I’ll go have a latte now”. Meanwhile, the tea party oriented folks (to which the gun nuts tend to belong to) hammer away at unpopular positions and get them enacted into public policy. Its the way it’s always been.

    Harry Reed is largely the problem in the senate. He’s so afraid of putting people on record for their votes. On gun control if he were to force issue by issue votes then we might see some change. This problem is partly because of the control lobbiest have in Washington, but if he had half a spine he would take a stand for something. I own a gun and live in DC. I had to undergo the incredibly difficult and grulling task of taking I one hour safety course and background check to get a gun. Actually, it was a very easy process, and we supposedly have the most difficult gun control measures in the country.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    This blog post and the underlying items to which it cites blithely stroll by so many giant neon elephants (donkeys, really) in the room that it’s staggering.

    Your continued ability to obfuscate is truly stunning. I am in awe of the ignorance you demonstrate daily. How you blame the Dems for lack of action on gun control in contrast to the giant blood red elephant that is today’s NRA leaves me astounded.

    The NRA stands four square with North Korea, Iran, and Syria on the UN Arms Control Treaty. Hope you like your bedmates.

  5. Mark Ivey says:

    “Guns don´t kill people! But they sure help.”

    –From the movie: “Shoot em Up”

  6. PD Shaw says:

    Vulnerable Democratic Senate Seats in 2014:

    *West Virginia (Romney won by 26.76)
    *Arkansas (Romney won by 23.69)
    *South Dakota (Romney won by 18.02)
    *Louisiana (Romney won by 17.21)
    *Alaska (Romney won by 13.99)
    *Montana (Romney won by 13.65)
    North Carolina (Romney won by 2.04)
    *New Hampshire (Romney lost by 5.58)
    *Iowa (Romney lost by 5.81)

    * State Gun Control Laws score below 10% on Brady ScoreCard.

  7. Got to do something about ’em pickup trucks.  It’s for the children; and  to honor the mothers whose sons and daughters have been recklessly endangered and killed by the dangerous unnecessary instruments.  If they can control pickup trucks and roadway fatalities in Europe, why not here?  Pickup truck rights nuts are a scourge in America.

  8. Tyrell says:

    Extensive and feasible background checks are easier said then done. I am also wary of all these data bases that seem to be brought up as an answer for everything. Who has access to these?
    A lot of people can slip through these. How about someone who is still considered a juvenile and has committed violent crimes? Their records are sealed. There are also confidentiality issues with people who have mental illnesses. There are three main groups to be concerned with: career violent criminals, gang members, and mentally ill. There needs to be some sort of nationwide registration system for them, much like the states that have registration for sex offenders. Most of them should never be out roaming the streets anyway, that’s my big concern. Also, think about the problems that occur with the “no fly list”
    ” Who is going to monitor the monitors?”

  9. Septimius says:

    Everyone knows that background checks disproportionately impact minorities, the elderly, and the poor who are much less likely to have access to the proper identification needed to pass a background check. Obviously, this push for background checks is just a blatant attempt to keep these people from exercising their constitutionally protected right to defend themselves with firearms.

  10. While there’s usually a spike in restrictionist sentiment after highly publicized incidents, it tends to be of short duration because it’s just not that salient to most of us.

    Sure, but salience may wax and wane for a while but sooner or later, these issues almost always get resolved one way or another.

    And sounds like this one may resolve itself in a more “background checks for all” direction.

  11. Tony W says:

    @Septimius:

    Everyone knows that background checks disproportionately impact minorities, the elderly, and the poor who are much less likely to have access to the proper identification needed to pass a background check.

    Not to mention the hundreds of dollars to purchase one. Try again.

  12. Tony W says:

    @Tyrell:

    I am also wary of all these data bases that seem to be brought up as an answer for everything.

    That old standby “this solution does not solve every problem, therefore let’s do nothing.”

    Seems like we have this discussion – complete with these same fallacies – every time somebody suggests even the most minor and sensible regulation. It never gets old….

  13. Dave Schuler says:

    Most gun homicides (other than suicides) aren’t committed by people who’ve gotten their guns through legal channels. Most gun homicides aren’t committed using assault weapons. Most gun homicides aren’t committed using automatic weapons. Most gun homicides aren’t committed using high capacity magazines. Those assertions are all directly from the FBI’s report on the subject.

    Could universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high capacity magazines if enacted all together reduce the number of gun homicides? Sure. By a relatively small number. Would that bring us to the number of gun homicides per 100,000 population of Western Europe? Not remotely.

    If universal background checks would make a material difference in the number of gun homicides here, I might get upset that we don’t have them. Given the realities? Meh.

    You know what would really reduce the number of gun homicides? Enforcing the laws that are already on the books. Enforcing the law seems to have a greater correlation with reduced gun homicides than do more laws.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve said from Day 1 after Newtown that this would need to be a long-term hearts and minds campaign. We need to reduce the number of guns and the number of gun owners. The gun cult needs to be isolated and reduced. Gun ownership needs to become a shameful, embarrassing thing. This fight has to go to the young, there’s no convincing the brainwashed cultists.

  15. Rob in CT says:

    By the way, regarding Newtown:

    I just saw the CT state police released some more info. Nancy Lanza *did* have a gun safe. It was found open, with no evidence it was forced open. Adam had the combo. He appears to have had free access to the weapons/ammo in the house.

    I hate to speak ill of a dead woman I didn’t know, but damn that wasn’t a good choice. Assuming she gave him the combo, that is (it’s possible he sneakily figured it out on his own, but I actually doubt it, what with the “shooting as bonding activity” and all).

    Step 1: reiterate gun safety: keep the weapons secured. Do not allow kids or disturbed adult offspring living with you b/c they can’t function in society to have unfettered access to your weapons.

    The advantage this has is that it requires no legislation at all.

  16. @Tony W:

    Try again.

    Ha. Please no….

    The problem with asking people like Septimus to double down on their absurdity is that they’ll probably do it.

    Yes, Septimus, we know making someone get a background check before buying a gun is just like making someone get an ID before they can vote, and that favoring one but not the other automatically makes us hypocrites.

    Wait……favoring one but not the other makes you a hypocrite????

    That’s the problem with hypocrite hunting. You’ll always find one. And it will usually be yourself.

  17. Rob in CT says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    You know what would really reduce the number of gun homicides? Enforcing the laws that are already on the books. Enforcing the law seems to have a greater correlation with reduced gun homicides than do more laws.

    My question is this: how? I suppose it’s possible that enforcement is just lax b/c law enforcement people are lazy or something, but it seems to me something else is going on. Seems to me that attempts at enforcement are met with cries about gun grabbing. Maybe I’m wrong.

    Somehow, law enforcement needs to crack down on those who sell guns illegally. Somehow, huge numbers of guns make their way from manufacturers to middle men (presumably this step is fully legal) who then sell them illegally and then end up being used in gang wars in [insert city here]. If that crackdown can be achieved without any additional legislation, wonderful. But I have to wonder: if that’s the case, why hasn’t it been done? I don’t see our LEOs as lacking in enthusiasm (see also: Drugs, War on).

  18. PD Shaw says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):” And sounds like this one may resolve itself in a more “background checks for all” direction”

    According to the Brady site, only two states,California and Rhode Island, had background checks for all as of 2011. I’m not sure what the underlyinig dynamic might be for a federal law that states don’t adopt. Is it that background checks don’t pass the cost/benefit analysis required of a state budget?

  19. stonetools says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Sigh.
    Its NRA propaganda that the laws aren’t being enforced.
    As a former prosecutor, I can guarantee you that

    1. Current laws ARE being enforced, to the extent they can.
    2. There are draconian additional penalties imposed(often mandatory penalties) for the use of firearms in a crime.

    The plain fact is that this type of deterrence/punishment legislative scheme DOESN”T.EFFING.WORK.

    If it did, we would have wiped out gun homicides years ago. There are plenty of guys in jails who have committed gun crimes. More every day. Yet:

    Gun Deaths in 2011: Japan 48, Great Britain 8, Switzerland 34, Canada 52, Israel 58, Sweden 21, Germany 42, UNITED STATES 10,728 #

    Why the disparity?
    Because they have rational gun safety legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of irresponsible people and we are pursuing legislative schemes that don’t work, because of pro-gun mythologies that are popular with Americans.

  20. markm says:

    @PD Shaw: According to the Brady site, only two states,California and Rhode Island, had background checks for all as of 2011.

    What does ‘background checks for all’ mean and what exactly is a ‘universal’ background check?.

  21. JKB says:

    @HelloWorld!: I own a gun and live in DC. I had to undergo the incredibly difficult and grulling task of taking I one hour safety course and background check to get a gun.

    Funny, your unsubstantiated statement about getting a gun in DC is quite different than the one documented in the Washington Times over a 9 month period.

    So I’m going to call BS.

    Especially since you made not reference to the 10 day waiting period, the personal interview at police headquarters, the then trip to the DMV, the waiting period, the return to MPD to pick up the gun if your permit is approved, etc.

  22. @Dave Schuler:

    You know what would really reduce the number of gun homicides?

    Radically changing human nature.

    At any rate, “reducing the number of gun homicides” is not gun control. That’s homicide control. The thrust behind gun control is as Michael points out, “We need to reduce the number of guns and the number of gun owners.”

    I don’t think we need to go so far as to make gun ownership shameful, per se but I think we’d do well as a society to make gun ownership pointless…because in nearly every American neighborhood it already is.

  23. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well, if you are going after the young, you are going to have to go after Hollywood and the video game industry. Who doesn’t want a gun for real after going through the same conditioning the military use to improve their shoot to kill rates among recruits? Plus, guns are cool, heros have guns, they shoot bad guys and get the girl. Or the girl shoots the bad guy then gets the hero.

    And let’s not forget, taboo is very seductive. There are more new gun owner sales going on since Obama and the Dems started their last marketing campaign to sell more guns.

  24. stonetools says:

    Great points by Joyner. I would add that institutions matter.
    The NRA is so effective because its a permanent institution, with a secure source of corporate funding ( the gun industry) and with an army of supporters (gun enthusiasts) passionately committed to the cause. They don’t care about evidence, studies, statistics, or the latest atrocities. That’s just weather to them. All they care about is forcefully advocating for their paymasters day in, and day out. And Congresspersons understand that when the memory of Newton fades, the NRA will still be there.

    Its not exactly true but its true enough that liberals start movements and conservatives build institutions. We don’t really have an NRA, an ALEC, a Federalist Society, a Heritage Foundation. What we really to build is an anti-NRA, with its own secure source of funding
    More controversially , we also need an anti-gun mythology to counter the pro-gun mythology of the hero with a gun who rides in and solves everything with a burst of gunfire.Liberals may squirm at the term”mythology” , but I mean it in the sense of a story and an archetype about a hero who DOESN’T solve problems with gunfire, but non-violent means . I’m thinking of Isaac Asimov’s Salvor Hardin, who says, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”.

    I’m saying this because just marshaling evidence and arguments is not enough. Those arguments have been won. We need to change hearts now, not just minds. I agree with Michael, too, that we have to think of changing things over decades , like the campaign against the cigarette industry, which began in the 1950s but lost and lost -until they finally won.

  25. JKB says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): we’d do well as a society to make gun ownership pointless

    As pointless as what? Golf, baseball, basketball, rowing, bicycling? Perhaps stamp collecting, antiques roadshow, art collecting?

    Firearms have a use in self defense.

    They are mostly used in hunting, shooting competitions, just plain fun afternoon leisure. Or in collections of fine craftsmanship, or representative of periods of history, even investment. Some have them simply because they are fine machines and enjoy exploring their mechanisms.

    So exactly how do you hope to make gun ownership pointless?

  26. PD Shaw says:

    @markm: “What does ‘background checks for all’ mean and what exactly is a ‘universal’ background check?.”

    I believe universal means that a background check is required of all transfers of all types of fire arms, including transfers between family members, licensed dealers, or at gun shows. That’s what I interpreted f/k/a Herb as meaning by “background checks for all.”

    California and Rhode Island have universal background checks; the following nine states either exempt transfers between family members and licensed dealers, or exempt certain types of guns from background checks:

    Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania.

    Stated another way, the Brady Campaign thinks 39 states lack something it would partially credit as a background check.

  27. @JKB:

    “you are going to have to go after Hollywood and the video game industry.”

    No, we don’t. The problem isn’t that gun owners have too many DVDs and Xboxes and are unable to resist the influence. The problem is they have too many guns.

    There are more new gun owner sales going on since Obama and the Dems started their last marketing campaign to sell more guns.

    I saw something about that too. But what I saw indicated that they were selling more and more guns to fewer and fewer people.

    Big deal. That’s a successful marketing campaign. Not a social phenomenon.

  28. stonetools says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The evidence is that Mrs. Lanza was a gun nut, who apparently had no problem at all with giving her mentally disturbed son access to an arsenal of high powered weaponry, which she apparently bought for him to use. She also apparently paid the NRA to train him in target shooting (They gave him some kind of a certificate). Let’s be blunt-she enabled the massacre
    .
    As for legislation, I would propose a law that requires parents or caretakers of children or mentally deficient persons store weapons either in a safe to which the parent/caretaker has the only password, or even better, just store the weapons outside the home. The gun lobby would never agree to it, but they wouldn’t agree to anything anyway.

  29. swbarnes2 says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    Very good point. Liberals (a group to which I belong) especially do not maintain intensity on their point of view.

    Wait, what?

    The reason background checks won’t become policy is because a bunch of people who want them are nevertheless voting for Republicans who will never pass them. It’s not the fault of Democrats.

  30. stonetools says:

    No, we don’t. The problem isn’t that gun owners have too many DVDs and Xboxes and are unable to resist the influence. The problem is they have too many guns.

    Bingo. The gun enthusiasts point to every conceivable thing as the problem . Its TV shows, video games, lack of religion, lax law enforcement , parenting, culture, society, butterflies, crab grass-OK, maybe not the last two. Its NEVER too many guns that’s the problem.
    Its sort of like blaming an influenza epidemic on everything else but the influenza virus.
    Indeed, I think the best approach to the gun homicide problem is to treat it as a public health and not a law enforcement problem.

  31. JKB says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): @stonetools:

    Well, if you hope to get the young, you are going to have to stop sensationalizing guns in entertainment. No cowboy movies, no war movies, no cop shows, no CSI, no shooting video games, etc. Otherwise, the kid is just going to grow up thinking guns are cool. Then they’ll fire one, and really think guns are a fun hobby.

    Its sort of like blaming an influenza epidemic on everything else but the influenza virus.

    No, blaming guns for criminal acts is like blaming the influenza on not wearing a hat when you go outside. Or do you blame the hammer when you hit your thumb?

  32. JKB says:

    @stonetools: Indeed, I think the best approach to the gun homicide problem is to treat it as a public health and not a law enforcement problem.

    You got something against science? Trying to assert guns as an infection vector in public health is going to go against infection research when you contend the government agents should carry more virulent and deadly strains when dealing with the public.

  33. stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    This is why we can’t have nice things, because these absurd arguments are being put forward again and again. Canada sees every movie and video game we get, but they had 52 gun homicides in 2011 and we had 10,728. The difference in gun homicide rates is not because the Canadians play fewer video games, see fewer movies, or are uniquely peace-loving in a way we are not. The difference is that they have effective gun safety laws and we don’t.

    They treat firearms as a public safety problem, like explosives, and make sure that only responsible people get the most lethal firearms.
    We pretty much let everyone buy and carry around firearms and sort out who is a responsible owner only AFTER they shoot somebody or themselves. Their approach works. Ours doesn’t.THE END.
    Everything after that are bad faith arguments and bullsh!t.
    Th

  34. Tony W says:

    @stonetools:

    an archetype about a hero who DOESN’T solve problems with gunfire, but non-violent means

    You mean somebody like Martin Luther King Jr.? His death makes your point perfectly.

  35. @JKB:

    So exactly how do you hope to make gun ownership pointless?

    I don’t hope to. It’s already happened, at least in much of the country.

    This is why when gun control measures are floated around, we start with the sportsman. Once we establish that the sportsman would not be hindered by gun control measures like background checks or assault weapons bans, we go to the self-defenders.

    Once we establish that the need for self-defense is much reduced by the realities of our urban/suburban existence, we get to the “but it’s in the Constitution” arguments.

    It’s like you guys forgot why you wanted guns in the first place. Is it to shoot at targets on the range? To bag a deer? To keep your children safe?

    Or to signal that you’re a member in good standing of the proper political faction? If it’s that last one…..Hell, man….why not just wear a T-shirt?

  36. Tony W says:

    @swbarnes2: I believe HelloWorld! is referring to the concept of regulatory capture. And I think he/she is correct.

  37. HelloWorld! says:

    @JKB: Since I don’t know you, I won’t call you anything. Sorry to disappoint you, but DC’s extremely difficult gun laws are not difficult at all. the gun store that I bought it from even stated when I made the purchase “you’ll never get it into the district”. They were wrong. I think zeolots just like to make everything seem difficult.

  38. Tyrell says:

    @Tony W: I have heard about people mistakenly getting their name on the no fly list and it literally takes a congress member to correct it. A few years ago a high student’s name got on one of Homeland Security lists by mistake or mixup and he got hauled off Leavenworth!! They finally got it cleared up but can you imagine if you was his parent? Mistakes do happen, not often, but somebody is always leaving their laptop at a coffee shop somewhere that has sensitive material on it such as missile launch codes.

  39. Rob in CT says:

    @Tony W:

    Actually, I took it as an obvious point about how much liberals actually care about the issue. You can get lots of people to say they in favor of X. But if that support is tepid, it may not matter even if you get a high percentage result. A minority that is fervent in its belief pitted against a majority that is wishy-washy will often result in victory for the minority (no comment on whether this is good or bad). Thus, some survey says 90% of people (therefore not just liberals) favor universal background checks. But lots of those folks don’t prioritize the issue. Meanwhile, the JKBs of the world are all fired up, reading the Washington Times or World Nut Daily, calling and writing their legislators.

    I am part of this problem, really. I would say yes to that poll question. I have not written my rep & senators (I hereby put that on my to-do list).

  40. HelloWorld! says:

    @swbarnes2: Yes, but if Harry Reed would bring every option up for individual votes then it wouldn’t just be dems on record, it would be republicans too. Because Harry has the spine of a fish he won’t do that, meaning he lets the republicans get away with spinning what they really want (or don’t want) done. Thus, nothing gets done. Repubs only have the house because of gerrymandering. There were over a million more votes for dems in the last election, we should have gun control done by now – after SH.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    Yes, games and movies. World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings are responsible for the rash of sword killings and war hammer suicides we’ve endured lately.

    Wait, what? THere have been no sword-related mass murders or war hammer suicides.

    Huh. Well then I guess it’s the guns.

  42. @JKB:

    No cowboy movies

    No more cowboy movies????

    That’s gonna really be hard on my grandpa……

  43. PD Shaw says:

    @HelloWorld!: ” if Harry Reed would bring every option up for individual votes then it wouldn’t just be dems on record, it would be republicans too”

    I only see three Republicans from blue, pro-gun control states, and none are up for election until 2016:

    Illinois, Kirk
    Wisconsin, Johnson
    Pennsylvania, Toomy

    Would Maine or New Hampshire punish Republican Senators on a gun-control vote when those states have some of the weakest state laws in the country?

    I would fully expect Kirk to vote for any gun-control measure, and since it won’t pass the House anyway, its a symbolic opportunity to present himself as a moderate.

  44. Tony W says:

    @Rob in CT: Indeed, that’s the flip-side of the equation – to extend my analogy, the local electric utility cares a lot more about a 15 cents per household rate hike than any individual household does, so the utilities commission hearing is pretty one-sided. They can send somebody to testify because it means xx million dollars, but I’m not going to attend to save my 15 cents, nor will my neighbors.

  45. Pharoah Narim says:

    Actually Rob in CT:, there is a reason for no LE focus on gun trafficing. Drug enforcement is what pays the bills. That how you get DHS funding for department and the human capital to keep the prisons full. Its the same reason why the jails are full of lots of low-level drug offenders instead of fewer high and mid-level bosses. Its quantity over quality. You department isn’t going to get federal or state money or headlines for busting drug traffickers. You can’t fill up the jails with them so its not much benefit in it if live in a cocoon divorced from outcome based law enforcement that most people in the industry live in. These people are all about the trees—what forrest?

  46. Matt says:

    @stonetools:It’s a fact that gun laws aren’t being enforced properly. Straw buyers are rarely prosecuted and the shooting of the firefighters a while back highlighted that fact when the straw buyer that was involved received a slap on her wrists.There’s been dozens of news articles linked in past discussions here about gun control that show clearly we’re not enforcing current laws. I remember personally pointing out in several of those articles how the laws were not being fully enforced.

  47. Rick Almeida says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Stated another way, the Brady Campaign thinks 39 states lack something it would partially credit as a background check.

    Stated yet another way, the Brady Campaign holds a position more restrictive than those preferred by the elected governments of 76% of the states.

  48. PD Shaw says:

    @Rick Almeida: Its certainly true that Brady might set the bar pretty high; I wasn’t aware of any other attempt to quantify state-by-state gun laws.

    But the Brady people appear to be saying that at least 39 states have not closed the gun show loophole and 11 have, at least partially. I personally don’t think closing that loophole is a big deal, but here we are, most states haven’t and people are wondering why we haven’t done so nationally. It seems backwards.

  49. markm says:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2013/03/28/chicago-los-angeles-new-york-prosecuted-fewest-federal-gun-crimes

    The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data.

    Federal gun crimes include illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone, illegal sale of a firearm to a juvenile, felon, or drug addict, and illegal transport of a firearm across state lines. In Chicago, the majority of gun charges last year were for firearms violations.

    The districts of Eastern New York, Central California, and Northern Illinois ranked 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively, out of 90 districts, in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year

    ……sooooo if we added to the already long list of gun laws with more gun laws…..nevermind.

  50. @Matt:

    It’s a fact that gun laws aren’t being enforced properly.

    Yeah, it is.

    By choice.

  51. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, games and movies. World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings are responsible for the rash of sword killings and war hammer suicides we’ve endured lately.

    Wait, what? THere have been no sword-related mass murders or war hammer suicides.

    Huh. Well then I guess it’s the guns.

    What’s telling is that Adam Lanza HAD access to a samurai sword, a pike, and various other bladed weapons. What did he choose to conduct his massacre? Yup, a semi-automatic assault rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, with which he killed 26 people in 5 minutes, firing 155 bullets. We could quote these stats the next time some gun nut says “It doesn’t matter what weapon is used”, and “The killer could have just as easily used a knife or sword.’

  52. wr says:

    @JKB: “Well, if you hope to get the young, you are going to have to stop sensationalizing guns in entertainment. No cowboy movies, no war movies, no cop shows, no CSI, no shooting video games, etc. Otherwise, the kid is just going to grow up thinking guns are cool. Then they’ll fire one, and really think guns are a fun hobby.”

    I grew up watching cowboy movies, war movies, cop movies, all those incredibly violent movies. And as soon as I had money of my own, I ran right out and bought…

    …a movie camera. And a computer to write movie scripts on.

    Because what I loved was the movies. And I was neither a psychopath nor so stupid I couldn’t tell reality from fantasy.

    Maybe some gun owners are that stupid. I’m hoping most of America isn’t.

  53. JKB says:

    @wr:

    Question: Why do little boys bite their Pop Tarts into the shape of a gun? Why do they play games where they throw invisible hand grenades to blow up invisible bad guys? Why do children do these things even as they’ve no exposure to real firearms, or even toy firearms?

    But I will repeat, you will never capture the children as long as you give them entertainment that aggrandizes gun violence, usually gun violence illegally executed even by the State actors and other good guys. Gun violence that is criminal and glorifies murder and killing your enemy. And then you give them first-person shooter video games that do the same thing.

  54. wr says:

    @JKB: Yes, little boys play with toy guns. Many of us grow up, however, and realize that acting like a four year old is no way to go through life.

    You seem to be under the impression that everyone should be encouraged to act like toddlers. And in fact, that’s exactly how the gun-festishists are acting, throwing tantrums, screaming about unfair the mean world is to them, and whining for their mommies.

    Again, by the time we’ve hit puberty most of us can tell the difference between reality and fantasy. It doesn’t matter how many times I read Lord of the Rings, I never felt compelled to kill anyone with a sword.

    So maybe you and your little gun freak friends should simply grow up.

  55. JKB says:

    @wr:

    As you can’t seem to comprehend were this thread started, I will remind you:

    Gun ownership needs to become a shameful, embarrassing thing. This fight has to go to the young, there’s no convincing the brainwashed cultists.

    How pray tell can gun ownership be made shameful, embarrassing when guns are so prominent in entertainment provided to “the youth”?

    Well, I saw the movies, played the game, read the books, had the training, did the manual of arms, spent time on the range, carried in public, yet I have never felt compelled to kill anyone with a sword or a firearm. Granted, I have not been in combat, nor a deadly force situation so I could be compelled at some future time, in accordance with the laws of the United States.

    But who is having trouble between reality and fantasy when the gun grabbers think they will be safer if law abiding citizens are disarmed and on the government bureaucrats and criminals have guns? As was determined in the report on Sandy Hook, only a good guy with a gun on the campus could have stopped the killing. Yet, you want to disarm the good guys?

  56. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    You are the poster child for brainwashed gun cultists. You have your little hero fantasies, your paranoia about the government all stamped deep i your brain and no amount of data, no reality can possibly dislodge them.

    So we’re just going to isolate you and your ilk and work around you. Keep your guns. Fondle them to your heart’s content. Lie back and revel in your sad fantasies. 20 years from now you and your fellow cultists will be objects of ridicule and national embarrassment and your political power will be gone.

  57. Dazedandconfused says:

    “Mr Nail, say hello to Mr. Hammer.”

    Bottom line: Until the people who want stronger gun laws demonstrate their power by primary-ing out some politicians like the NRA does, they won’t have the same amount of it in the government.

  58. JKB says:

    Rising Voice of Gun Ownership Is Female

    Women’s participation in shooting sports has surged over the last decade, increasing by 51.5 percent for target shooting from 2001 to 2011, to just over 5 million women, and by 41.8 percent for hunting, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
    ….
    Though they may share a fierce belief in the Second Amendment with their male counterparts, female gun owners often learn to shoot for different reasons, their interest in and proficiency with firearms not just a hobby or a means for self-defense, but a statement of independence and personal power.

  59. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    So that’s 1/3 of one percent. Yay for you. And given the inevitable exaggeration of any trade association more like 1/6th of one percent.

    You’re a relic.

  60. al-Ameda says:

    We have such a strong cult of gun ownership in the country that we’re never going to seriously consider reducing the supply of weaponry that is available to the public., nor will we expand background checks. Essentially, half the public feels that gun violence is the price we have to pay in service to the Second Amendment and the cult of gun ownership.

    About all we can do is join the NRA, pay our dues, and hope for the best. Inspirational, isn’t it?

  61. al-Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I watch “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” often, and I’ve noticed that, increasingly I have the urge to buy a set of steak knives, and not use them for eating steak. I want to carry them wherever I go – you know, to protect myself and my family.

  62. markm says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So we’re just going to isolate you and your ilk and work around you. Keep your guns. Fondle them to your heart’s content. Lie back and revel in your sad fantasies. 20 years from now you and your fellow cultists will be objects of ridicule and national embarrassment and your political power will be gone.

    ….oh no, not ridicule. Anything but that.

    So the plan is to rid America of gun violence by ridicule…..not enforcing current laws….not adding to the uninforced current laws…..but rid by ridicule??.

    If I was a cigarette smoker (which I am not), it’s quite easy to ridicule me. It’s visible, it’s stinky…it makes non-smokers stink and in some cases causes health issues.

    How do you ridicule away the rights of someone that doesn’t wear a gun on their forehead??. If you walked by me on the street, you have no idea if I am carrying a weapon or not….much less if I even own one?.

    If your plan is to succeed, you had better allocate more than 20 years.

  63. markm says:

    …and sorry to Dr J for getting off topic.

  64. Tony W says:

    @JKB: “Gun Grabbers”? That phrase is just one element of JKBs fantasy world. News Flash dude – nobody is grabbing guns. Registration, permits, liability insurance, etc. is not the same as the military going door to door to seize grandpa’s hunting rifle.

  65. JKB says:

    @Tony W: Registration, permits, liability insurance, etc. is not the same

    Yes, but they are symptoms. Historically, those very measures in one form or another has preceded firearm confiscation. In any case, they are measures where people want to put their grubby hands, via the threat of State violence, on free and law-abiding citizens firearms. Perhaps not to take them at this time but to control them and know where they are.

    In any case, it is catchy, gun grabber, and succinctly identifies.

  66. wr says:

    @JKB: “In any case, it is catchy, gun grabber, and succinctly identifies.”

    Yes, it succinctly identifies its user as an idiot.

  67. matt bernius says:

    @JKB:

    Historically, those very measures in one form or another has preceded firearm confiscation. In any case, they are measures where people want to put their grubby hands, via the threat of State violence, on free and law-abiding citizens firearms.

    *Sigh* and remind us again how many democratic countries have used gun registries to “seize” weapons. And, of those democratic countries, how many had the right to possess weapons enshrined in their founding charter or Constitution?

    This is an example of the more paranoid fantasies of people who *love the Constitution and the country* but also always see it as the most fragile and easily broken of documents.

  68. matt says:

    @matt bernius: Australia? the UK?
    New Zealand and revolvers?

    Chicago and long guns a while back?

    There’s plenty.

  69. matt says:

    I think California played shenanigans with SKS guns and a grace period some years ago.

  70. stonetools says:

    @Matt:
    :
    The conservatives and the NRA have:

    1. blocked funding of the ATF,
    2. filibustered the appointment of the chief of the ATF
    3.imposed a gag rule on CDC studies of how to reduce gun violence.
    4. Made it difficult to keep records of how many guns are sold and to whom.
    5. blocked strengthening the laws against straw purchases
    6.Are currently blocking universal background checks
    7. Made it so any moron with a pulse can carry a gun into bars, restaurants, and chrches and act like vigilantes

    and then berate the government for not enforcing the laws?
    That’s yet another bad faith argument.

  71. Pharoah Narim says:

    Liability insurance? Seriously, if there are 300 million weapons in this country how many of them actually end up injuring or killing someone? There might be a case for gun manufacturers having some sort of insurance but the consumer? That’d be like requiring the buyer of steak knives to have insurance in case their knives ended up in someones chest. Lets just call it what it is–an attempt to raise the cost of ownership to lower ownership–not much different than the right wingers shenanigans when it comes to attempt to throw roadblocks in front of abortion. Same tactics–different issue. I have yet to read one argument grounded in any sort of data to suggest there is a need for more legislation targeting the actual hardware. Who gets guns? Certainly…most people would agree about that–which would involve laws addressing gun trafficking and background checks.

    We’ve had mass shooting with pistols, shotguns, regular rifles, and assault rifles. There are countries with more guns than the US with less violence. The only real commonality in mass shootings are teen and 20-something white men. Probably will never hear that angle discussed on a cable news panel like you hear with other problems discussed that are unique to other races or ethnicity. Every problem doesn’t have a direct solution–sometimes what appears to be a side issue (jobs/economics) is actually the root cause. That would involve allowing some other people to compete for a piece of the pie however, so its not going to happen. We can’t even keep drugs out of crime-ridden communities where most of the murders are occurring–how the hell are we going to keep guns out of them too? No, lets march on in our noble pursuit to disarm people because it would make us feel better if they stabbed and bludgeoned each other to death over their piece of the the drug pie instead.

  72. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Stonetools: While that may be true, their are still state and local law enforcement infrastructures in place that could be used. Many are headed by elected officials and accountable to the citizens of that city and state. Everyone sitting with their hands in their pockets because the Feds are wasting time playing grab a$$ isn’t the right answer

  73. matt says:

    @stonetools: That’s a complete bullshit list. There’s absolutely nothing on that list that keeps local authorities from properly prosecuting gun law violators either.

    4. There are records on the number of guns sold it’s just the second part you’re mad about.

    5. Bullshit and it doesn’t matter because straw purchasers are rarely prosecuted as is and even more rarely prosecuted to the fullest of the law. Adding more laws won’t change that tendency.

    7. Only if they are a criminal. Most places have laws against allowing CCW in locations that sell alcohol. I couldn’t even carry my CCW to work because my job at the time sold beer. The rest of your rant is so out of touch with reality that it’s not even worth my time. Vigilantes are all up in your house better hide yo kids hide yo wife!!!…

  74. matt bernius says:

    @matt:

    Australia? the UK?
    New Zealand and revolvers?

    Matt, I think you missed the part where I asked what countries, who have the right to own arms enshrined in their charter or constitution, have successfully used registration to seize weapons. As far as I can tell, none of these countries have any such provision.

    Chicago and long guns a while back?

    Again, where was the seizure? Everything that I’ve read grandfathered existing “assault weapons” and kept them legal in the home. I’ve yet to find an article about Chicago seizing any registered weapons. Further, citing Chicago proves the larger point, considering that their more restrictive gun regulations were overturned at the Federal Level by the Supreme Court.

    The fact is that there are no cases of registry leading to organized gun seizure that provide a good match for conditions in the US. This is one of the biggest paranoid fantasies of US gun owners.

  75. JKB says:

    @matt bernius:

    And yet, the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois have stated they will ignore the federal court ruling and continue to assault their citizens’ constitutional rights.

    So given the State officials refusal to honor the protections in the US, would it be proper for the people of Chicago to rise up and overthrow these illegal actions by the state, where is their protection except in their guns? What if the Obama administration decides not to protect the rights of the citizens of Illinois but rather to unilaterally choose to ignore the assault on their liberties and violate the laws like they did when they ran guns to Mexican drug cartels, adopted a policy not to investigate voter rights violations against whites, etc?

  76. matt says:

    @matt bernius: Now you’re nitpicking because you know I won’t find a country that satisfies your requirement for “enshrined”…

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB174

    Notice the striked out part that was recently removed. The removal of those exemptions would of resulted in the immediate confiscation of a variety of weapons that were registered as part of the exemption/grandfathering process.

  77. matt says:

    I’d like to add that Matt knows that enshrined means jack shit when we’ve basically thrown out the fourth amendment already in the name of a never ending war (War on Terror). We as a country have a long history of ignoring violations of the constitution (especially the bill of rights).

    Add to that the fact that there’s people who claim the second amendment only applies to weapons of the time of enactment and you get a not so rosy view..