Is The Gun Debate Over?

Conor Friedersdorf contends "The U.S. Already Had a Conversation About Guns---and the Pro Side Won."

Conor Friedersdorf pushes back against those arguing that we need a national conversation about guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre with “The U.S. Already Had a Conversation About Guns—and the Pro Side Won.”

Shortly before the Newtown shooting, The Atlantic published an article by my colleague Jeffrey Goldberg on gun policy. He argued that the U.S. should tighten regulations to ensure that everyone who buys a gun is subject to a background check; ban high-capacity weapons that have “no reasonable civilian purpose;” and encourage lots more trained, vetted, law-abiding civilians to carry guns in public so that would-be mass murderers face resistance.

He isn’t alone in having added to America’s conversation about guns in the pages of this magazine. In September 2011, Adam Winkler suggested that Americans are often ignorant of the true history of guns in this country, noting (among other things) that the Founding Fathers “instituted gun laws so intrusive that, were they running for office today, the NRA would not endorse them.” Few Americans even owned guns before the Civil War, Richard Slotkin wrote in November 2000, asking, “What happened?”

[…]

Daniel D. Polsby warned in 1994 that focusing on guns diverted our attention from the roots of our crime problem. Erik Larson pronounced that the United States was suffering from “a gun crisis” in a 1993 article tracing the history of a semi-automatic handgun used in a shooting at a suburban school. And Dorothy Weil satirized Second Amendment activism in 1977. In addition to those print articles, The Atlantic has published numerous web items about gun control in recent years that include perspectives on both sides of the issue. In the last several days we’ve produced all mannerof analysis and opinion on the subject.

Although I am less familiar with archival articles from other magazines, I recall reading countless articles about gun violence over the years, watching TV programs that raised the issue, debating gun control in high school, college, and graduate school, helping The San Bernardino Sun to cover the subject after a stray bullet hit a young child, and seeing numerous bloggers weigh in on municipal firearms policies. In media and academia, I have seen calls for stricter gun control far more often than arguments for loosening restrictions on gun ownership, though I’ve seen the latter sort of piece with some frequency too. In short, gun control is a perennial controversy, the sort of controversial issue that Gallup tracks on an annual basis.

So what has been the result of decades of sustained public debate?

“Americans’ support for stricter gun control laws has gradually declined over the last two decades, from 78% when this question was first asked in 1990 to 49% in 2008, and 44% in 2009 and again this year,” Gallup reported in 2010 survey results.

Nor is it simply a matter that the NRA is out-lobbying everyone else on the issue. It’s a matter of culture. He notes “the revealed preference that almost half of Americans own at least one gun” and argues,

There isn’t anything wrong with gun-control advocates lamenting what, by their lights, is a public that’s reaching wrongheaded conclusions on the subject and is trending in the wrong direction.

But too many pieces I’ve read make a mockery of robust debate in a pluralistic society by ignoring the fact that current policy is largely (though not entirely) a reflection of the U.S. public disagreeing with gun reformers. The average American is far more likely than the average journalist or academic to identify with gun culture, to insist that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms, to exercise that right, and to support various state concealed-carry laws. Perhaps persuasion can move the citizenry to favor a different status quo. That’s always a hurdle to clear in a democracy. Yet the ability to engage and persuade fellow citizens is undermined when public discourse obscures rather than confronts the relevant disagreements.

This is quite right. Pretending that we haven’t been talking about guns since time immemorial or that gun crimes don’t get enough attention is rather silly.

But, of course, the fact that the public has a strongly held issue on a matter that has been the subject of an intense national debate for decades doesn’t mean that the shock of horrific events like this one doesn’t provide an opening for changing people’s minds.

There are all manner of topics where deeply embedded cultural beliefs have changed drastically just within my memory. As recently at the early 1980s, the notion that married women with children should pursue careers outside the home on an equal footing with their husbands was wildly controversial; it’s now the norm. As recently as the late 1990s, the notion that gays should serve openly in the military was dismissed as absurd; it’s now not only the law but nobody in the barracks much cares. As recently as five years ago, the notion that two men should be allowed to marry one another was widely considered not only morally outrageous but a threat to the very institution of marriage; it now happens every day with little fanfare.

New evidence about the fallibility of our criminal justice system and a wider understanding of the inequities along racial and socioeconomic lines has sharply reduced support for capital punishment, a human institution going back to biblical days. A couple of decades from now, we’ll probably look back on it in the way we do slavery.

Will we ban the right of law-abiding Americans to own rifles, shotguns, and revolvers to their heart’s content? I can’t imagine we will. As Friedersdorf notes, gun ownership is so widespread as to make abolition unthinkable. And there is that pesky 2nd Amendment. But it’s quite possible that we’ll ultimately see a ban on assault rifle and large magazines; require registration, training, and licensing; impose various technological safety requirements; and otherwise make it slightly harder for people to good on a shooting spree on a whim or shoot themselves and innocent others accidentally.

Will any of this stop hardened criminal? No. As Dave Shuler notes,

There are already over 200 million guns in the United States. Any reasonably good machine shop can produce a high capacity magazine and banning them would merely produce a lively black market. Just as with alcohol and now drugs, anyone who really wanted them could get their hands on them.

But the point here isn’t to put a dent into organized crime but to put a speed bump in the way of opportunistic or accidental shootings. Would any of the measures that could conceivably pass in the wake of Sandy Hook actually have prevented Sandy Hook? Probably not. But they may well save other innocent lives at a negligible cost to human liberty.

Interestingly, the harder debate to have isn’t about guns but about our mental health policies.  While I fully support keeping psychopaths away from guns, it would be easier to keep psychopaths away from the rest of us. The system we had for institutionalizing the mentally ill a few decades back was draconian and shameful; but the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, making it next to impossible to get dangerous people off the streets before the damage is done.

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

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    The fact of the matter is that Americans are willing to accept the deaths of children as well as of adults as the price for sustaining our gun culture. At the end of the day, we remain an unusually violent society and culture and there’s little appetite to seriously remedy that.

  2. Murray says:

    Of course the debate isn’t over.

    I usually appreciate Friedersdorf ‘s pieces but this one is completely silly. The current position of the Supreme Court and the current public opinion don’t end this debate anymore than Dred Scott ended the debate on slavery.

  3. Matthew says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    There is plenty of interest in curbing violent society, but the “gun culture” isn’t the root of it. That is, unless you define “gun culture” as some generic proclivity to use firearms, but that isn’t usually who the label is directed toward.

    The notable acts of violence that get the most attention, Columbine, VT, Aurora, etc., do not appear to have arisen out of the “gun culture” as it is typically defined. The murderers were not NRA or 2A supporters to my knowledge, nor were they outdoorsmen/women or participants in the private sector gun enthusiast market (training, collecting, etc.).

    At best, the “gun culture” facilitates the work of mad men, but blaming those entities for individuals that quite frankly, would not be received by “gun culture” entities is rather absurd.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A couple of points:

    Conor makes the idiotic assumption that gun owners like me agree with everything the NRA says. I say ban assault rifles, ban high capacity magazines, ban armor piercing ammo, and oh yeah, ban the NRA 😉 I am not alone. Waiting periods are perfectly reasonable. Full background checks are not beyond the pale. Training and licensing are required for driving a car, why not shooting a weapon?

    But the point here isn’t to put a dent into organized crime but to put a speed bump in the way of opportunistic or accidental shootings. Would any of the measures that could conceivably pass in the wake of Sandy Hook actually have prevented Sandy Hook? Probably not. But they may well save other innocent lives at a negligible cost to human liberty.

    Exactly James, unfortunately I can already hear the cries of “TYRANNY!”

    While I fully support keeping psychopaths away from guns, it would be easier to keep psychopaths away from the rest of us. The system we had for institutionalizing the mentally ill a few decades back was draconian and shameful; but the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, making it next to impossible to get dangerous people off the streets before the damage is done.

    It is not that the pendulum has swung too far, it is that it has been chopped off. Just try to get increased funding for mental health services thru congress in today’s cutcutcut spending environment.

  5. Scott O says:

    “Americans’ support for stricter gun control laws has gradually declined over the last two decades, from 78% when this question was first asked in 1990 to 49% in 2008, and 44% in 2009 and again this year,”

    I read this somewhere else and wondered why. I blame the conservative entertainment industry. They’ve managed to convince millions of morons that owning a gun makes them a real man, or a real ‘Merican, or something.

  6. wr says:

    If contemporary Republicans have taught us anything, it’s that there is no issue in American society that can ever be considered “over.” Many of us believed that contraception was a settled issue — tea partiers have decided to reopen it. Many of us believed that Social Security and Medicare were fundamental goods — the billionaire-worshipping right has attempted to end them in order to turn that cash over to their paymasters. Republicans have been arguing to reimplement voting only for those who own property, to allow minorities to be banned from polling places, and to strip the right of the people to elect their senators.

    So don’t start claiming that gun ownership is a settled issue. Your side wants to reopen every issue that’s ever been debated in our history? Great — just don’t think we’re fighting all the battles on our own turf.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Megan McCardle wins the day:

    I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

    That’s right, if only those cowardly 6 year olds had gang rushed Lanza…

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    While I fully support keeping psychopaths away from guns, it would be easier to keep psychopaths away from the rest of us.

    Really? Howe exactly would one do that?

  9. JKB says:

    First off, if you want to prevent spree killings, you need to deal with the real issue. That is the complete failure of the Progressive policies of dumping the mentally ill on the street. Blackfive gives a real world account here, also read the comments from others, i.e., police, who have to try to manage the Progressive disaster. A Progressive disaster leaving the mentally ill to suffering deaths in the cold or violent deaths by the police, as is usual with Progressive policies.

    The second issue, as this post also shows is the complete lack of willingness of those opposed to guns to deal with the reality of the situation about guns or current SCOTUS determinations of the 2nd Amendment.

    Let’s look at a few:

    assault rifle – an oft used dissembling trying to associate semi-automatic rifles with cosmetic features with the restricted, FFL-required, assault rifle, which is a select fire weapon subject to strict controls since the 1930s and no new ones allowed in private ownership since 1986.

    The 2nd Amend. is about militia – that was put to rest in the SCOTUS decision in Heller where the keeping and bearing arms for self defense was affirmed.

    Storage and other requirements – Heller addressed the issue of denying the bearing a firearms for self defense by requirements for disassembly, locks, etc. I would not doubt that government mandates rendering firearms unreliable for self defense through electronic identity locks would also prove unconstitutional given the technology denies the citizen reliable self defense.

    registration, training and licensing – nice in concept but unconstitutional in practice. Such requirements are used to impose costs, often designed to make exercise of the constitutional right expensive, upon those exercising their right. As such, their is disparate impact against the poor, minorities and the politically disfavored.

    and so on and so on…

  10. mattb says:

    @Scott O:

    I read this somewhere else and wondered why. I blame the conservative entertainment industry. They’ve managed to convince millions of morons that owning a gun makes them a real man, or a real ‘Merican, or something.

    I don’t think it’s just the conservative entertainment industry… it’s the entertainment industry. Violence has been, continues to be, a key aspect to a large amount of entertainment. And I don’t think you can just target gun based entertainment. The Atlantic just featured a great article on how Peter Jackson “violenced up” the Hobbit and in doing some missed some of Tolkiens (confused) ruminations on pacifism.

    Additionally, one has to wonder how first person shooters — especially military themed ones — have played a role in making the average American more relaxed with the idea of military arms.

  11. wr says:

    @JKB: “The 2nd Amend. is about militia – that was put to rest in the SCOTUS decision in Heller where the keeping and bearing arms for self defense was affirmed.”

    You mean that a radical right wing faction on the court overturned 200 years of settled law to impose their personal preference on the country. Or do you claim that every other supreme court decision was wrong, right up until the one you agree with?

  12. rudderpedals says:

    Mr Friedorsdorf is extrapolating his own belief in the finality of this issue to the rest of the country. He’s wrong.

    This concentration on mental health solutions as a prerequisite to reducing the number of slaughter weapons out there is also really silly. Please cut it out. If we had 200 more years to do it we’ll not solve mental health issues to the extent that would justify the widespread, easy availability of high speed kid killing machines.

  13. Peacewood says:

    Memo to Conor Friedersdorf:

    No victory is final.

  14. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Full background checks are not beyond the pale. Training and licensing are required for driving a car, why not shooting a weapon?

    You obviously have no idea how much a “full” background check costs. Many years ago, the agency database check that they do for just plain old secret clearances was $10,000 each. Move up to top and more refined clearances and you get into the hundreds of thousands. Otherwise, you get what we got now, the state police queries their databases to see if you show up as a felon or adjudicated mentally ill and if not they have no reasonable basis for denying you your constitutional right.

    You are not required to have either training or licensing to drive your car on your own property or to have your car transported to other private property to drive it or to be repaired. Only if you wish to drive on public roads is licensing required. Most states require both training and permitting before you can carry your firearm, loaded, upon your person in public, although some only require that for concealed carry in accordance with their constitutions.

  15. LaurenceB says:

    @Matthew:

    In the case of Sandy Hook the “gun culture”, of which Lanza’s mother was widely reported to be a part, did a really excellent job of “facilitating the work of mad men”.

  16. steve says:

    Conor is correct. All recent court rulings have affirmed the status quo or loosened gun rules. Gun control advocates are poorly organized and financed. Overall violence is down. We might be able to tinker around the edges and make it more difficult for mass killings to take place, but the entrenched interests of the gun lobby will oppose and changes involving guns, and the civil libertarians will oppose changes for dealing with the mentally ill.

    Steve

  17. JKB says:

    @wr: You mean that a radical right wing faction on the court overturned 200 years of settled law to impose their personal preference on the country.

    See, right there, your ignorance is showing. There was not 200 years of settled law. In fact there is very little 2nd amendment case law at the federal level. There was one decision from the 1930s that was oft cited even as it was not on point. It was also a case that was manipulated to have no oral argument against the government’s case. In any case, Heller did not overturn Miller but it did address issues many assumed from Miller, as the only case law. As such, the case law in the 2nd Amendment has been expanded and refined.

    But if you wish to go back to practice then by all means lets reinstate the gun bans during Reconstruction imposed by Democrats. Those that banned the possession and use of firearms by African-Americans, especially those subject to terrorism by vigilantes operating with the collusion of Democrat control state and local governments.

  18. Geek, Esq. says:

    @mattb:

    Anyone who thinks that the movie somehow betrays the spirit of Tolkien through its depiction of graphic violence needs to read more Tolkien.

    Tolkien was the one who introduced the keeping of score between Legolas and Gimli in LotR. In Tolkien’s writings, Azog not only beheads Thror but then carves his own name in runes on Thror’s forehead. In the Hobbit, Gollum meets Bilbo after just having devoured a baby goblin, referred to as a “squeaker.”

  19. mattb says:

    @Geek, Esq.:
    Did you read the article?

    The writer is specifically referring to the Hobbit, not so much LOTR (though he does reference Frodo’s turn from violence) and makes a good argument — at least in terms of the Hobbit.

    The author also admits that Tolkien isn’t consistent on this point, but that doesn’t negate the larger argument the author is making.

    In the Hobbit, Gollum meets Bilbo after just having devoured a baby goblin, referred to as a “squeaker.”

    The author clearly states that he’s talking specifically about Tolkein’s portrayal of Bilbo and the Dwarves.

  20. Mikey says:

    @JKB:

    You obviously have no idea how much a “full” background check costs. Many years ago, the agency database check that they do for just plain old secret clearances was $10,000 each.

    That was “years ago.” Today it costs about $100.

  21. cd6 says:

    Poor virgin Conor doesn’t grasp that the national conversation on gun control is going to inevitably start moving away from the “victory” won by southern white real ‘Mericans and towards a common sense policy that restricts high capacity magazines, requires more thorough background checks, eliminates the gun show loopholes, and so on, just like the “victory” on gay marriage or “lower taxes forever.”

    Obama didn’t have to run out and fake how he loves hunting, as past presidential candidates (and Mitt Romney) tried to do, to kowtow to the pretend SWAT team crowd.

  22. cd6 says:

    A Progressive disaster leaving the mentally ill to suffering deaths in the cold or violent deaths by the police, as is usual with Progressive policies

    If only we could be more like conservatives, with their long, storied history of expanded health care, especially for the poor and infirm, and republican’s well known, strong skepticism of the use of force by the police

    Seriously though, are your complaints about the mentally ill some kind of personal cry for help or something?

  23. RobZ says:

    “That is the complete failure of the Progressive policies of dumping the mentally ill on the street.”

    Was Ronald Reagan a Progressive?

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1948&dat=19670402&id=xgwxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SuEFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2342,139942

  24. CB says:

    @mattb:

    Im an avid gamer, and someone who used to categorically disregard arguments pointing towards the influence of violence in videogames, but I am very much at the point of rethinking my stance. Somewhere between subconciously getting drone warfare training in Call of Duty and realing that 75% of my games are shooters, Ive started to become uncomfortable with the idea of widespread, almost mindless, violence in media. There definitely is something to that argument.

  25. JKB says:

    What is this “more thorough background check” or “full” background check, you speak of?

    If a person is not a convicted felon or has been adjudicated to be mentally ill, they cannot be deprived of their rights. I know, I know, if it weren’t for that pesky Constitution…

    Are you saying we should deny people the right to possess a firearm if they have bad credit, have declared bankruptcy, perhaps are behind on their student loans? Perhaps we should tap into their medical records and deny them for having visited a mental health professional, perhaps for marriage counseling. Perhaps the bureaucrats could deny them their 2nd amendment rights because they attend a church or mosque, or contributed to a political organization. Soon they’ll be able to adjudicate the individuals posting and comments on blogs?

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    but the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, making it next to impossible to get dangerous people off the streets before the damage is done.

    There are an estimated 6 million people with serious mental health problems in the US. This is serious not popping the odd Valium…..if we want to include all those on mind altering drugs of one sort and another it’s around 50 million. So what are we going to do, incarcerate the entire 6 million and at what cost? And JJ conveniently forgets the main driver for releasing the mentally ill into the community has been budget cuts mainly propounded by…..guess who? The entire mental health issue is another red herring used by gun supporters to avoid addressing sensible and cost effective measures for dealing with the real problem which is unimpeded access. And of course no debate is final nor should this one be when your chances of dying from gunshots are about 20 times greater in the US than in most of the rest of the developed world.

  27. Geek, Esq. says:

    @mattb:

    I read the article. There are certainly critiques one could make of the adaptation, (turning Thorin into Aragorn part II, for one) from an artistic standpoint, but criticizing a Tolkien adaptation of betraying Tolkien by being too violent is idiotic. The author of that article also missed several examples of non-violent tactics being used to win the day.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    The discussion may have been over…Newtown certainly re-opened it…but it will be over again as soon as the Stenographer Corp and the Pseudo-Punditry have a new shiney object to focus on.

    BTW…..WTF does this mean…

    “…That is the complete failure of the Progressive policies of dumping the mentally ill on the street…”

    Republicans have waged a decades long war on the Social Safety Net and JKB blames Progressive Policies? The lack of self-awareness is astounding. Read the article…it supports the Civil Rights of the Mentally ill and condemns the lack of funding. Who is responsible for the lack of funding? Maybe people like Romney who wanted to slash discretionary spending by 20%…and people like JKB who wanted him to do it. Toole was right…we live in a Confederacy of Dunces.

  29. C. Clavin says:

    And again…the Constitution does not promise access to ammunition.

  30. Matthew says:

    @LaurenceB:

    Could be. Although I think we’re still waiting on a lot of information. Nonetheless, the murderer, a social outcast by early assessment, does not seem to be part of it. Perhaps we’ll learn he was, but I haven’t seen indication of that to date.

    Let’s assume, for argument, that his mother is a gun enthusiast and survivalist. I am reluctant to do that because I find it obscene that the media seeks to paint survivalists as whacky-to-dangerous, but I’ll set that aside for a moment. If so, I highly doubt her “gun culture” influence, other than simple access to weaponry and training to become proficient, is the culprit here. Any individual interested in the gun control debate should, from intellectual curiosity, pay at least some attention to what actually happens inside the “gun culture.” If one does so, he or she will find that the vast majority of these folks are fairly normal, and are very adamant regarding gun safety and responsibility. As an exercise, go to most any gun forum on the web, tell a story about an accidental gun discharge, and prepare to be excoriated on the theory that there are no accidents, and that the discharge is entirely your fault.

    I say this to drive home the point that Sandy Hook is opposite of everything “gun culture” strives to do. That is, to protect others and self, and recognize that liberty (gun ownership, in this case) comes with serious responsibility. These are not minority themes, they are the overriding mantra of that community.

    In sum, there is little doubt that the “gun culture” is responsible for opposing restrictions on firearms. They’ll probably accept that label without a fight. But in nearly every other way, what happens in mass murders is entirely uncharacteristic of “gun culture” in America.

  31. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: I’m pretty sure it does, actually. The Supreme Court in Heller struck down DC’s requirement that personal weapons be kept unloaded as a violation of the 2nd Amendment. Rather clearly, a right to “bear arms” is a right to have those arms loaded to achieve the purpose of the right.

    Now, it’s possible that there are constitutionally permissible restrictions on the type (hollow points), amount, or configuration (magazine size) of said ammo. But banning ammo would clearly violate Heller and subsequent decisions.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    Clearly Heller was a decision by activist judges…a strict reading of the Constitution does not guarantee ammo. You are arguing for a flexible document. Most gun enthusiasts argue for the opposite.

    Snark obviously.

  33. Brummagem Joe says:
  34. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    That is the complete failure of the Progressive policies of dumping the mentally ill on the street.

    The stupid bar keeps getting raised. Ronald Reagan probably has more to do with the number of mentally ill people on the street than any other individual in American history. It started when he was the Governor of California. Close the mental hospitals, tell everyone that the mentally ill would receive care at community mental health clinics, then don’t fund the clinics.

  35. mattb says:

    @James Joyner & @C. Clavin: It’s interesting to note how things like “ammunition” and “militia” on the topic of the second amendment can quickly flip “strict constructionists” flip to “living document” proponents and vice versa.

  36. mattb says:

    @CB:

    Im an avid gamer, and someone who used to categorically disregard arguments pointing towards the influence of violence in videogames, but I am very much at the point of rethinking my stance. Somewhere between subconciously getting drone warfare training in Call of Duty and realing that 75% of my games are shooters, Ive started to become uncomfortable with the idea of widespread, almost mindless, violence in media.

    What *may* (note I say *may*) make violent shooters different that violence in other media is the (a) interactive aspect, and (b) the reward based aspect. Basically while there are neurochemicals involved with all interactions with media, the scoring component of games makes them different than more passive forms of media.

    Basically in conjunction with the game rewarding violence as “success”, your body is doing the same thing on a chemical basis.

    Now the degree that this is shaping behavior in a way that makes us more comfortable with firearms is very much a topic where the jury is out. But it may be that firing a virtual gun successfully — even with a hand controller versus a simulated gun — has an effect on the brain and body that is far closer to successfully firing a real gun than, say, using a stick as a gun when playing cowboys and Indians.

    But the research on this is very much out.

  37. anjin-san says:

    Blackfive gives a real world account here

    There would be a pretty good article if not for a large dose of intellectual dishonesty which stems from political bias.

    You really can’t have a conversation about the paradigm shift in the approach to treating mental illness that took place in the 60s-80s and the resulting homelessness without mentioning Reagan.

    It is also a bit disingenuous to lay the blame for lack of funding at the feet of welfare cheats. What about corporate welfare? What about the endless river of money flowing into the DOD? What abou the government subsidy checks wealthy Republicans like Michelle Bachmann and her husband get?

  38. lankyloo says:

    Man, the ability for people to turn everything into a contemporary political fight is crazy. Deinstitutionalization of mental health institutions happened because state run psychiatric institutions were places of immense suffering and cruelty. There was a shift to community based metal health institutions, which were later poorly funded. Both the left and the right participated in this deinstitutionalization, and trying to blame what started right after WWII on people’s current political points of view is really silly. Our current mental health system is inadequate to our current problems, but fighting over whether it was Reagan or not (or Kennedy or not if you actually want to be accurate about the history) is foolish.

  39. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Close the mental hospitals, tell everyone that the mentally ill would receive care at community mental health clinics, then don’t fund the clinics.

    Exactly the same thing happened when Pataki was governor of NY.

  40. JKB says:

    @James Joyner:

    Glenn Reynolds wrote an article back when Heller was being decided on a TN supreme court ruling (from the 1890s I believe) that was the most on point for any court and likely to inform the SCOTUS on defining “keep and bear”. In that decision, “keep and bear” was defined as possessing firearms with ammunition and transporting those arms for training, lawful use and repair. This decision and Heller define keep and bear in your own home/property. The carrying of weapons in a ready to use state in public is still subject to limitations (although i think that is a state issue).

    Restrictions on ammunition type, magazines, etc. might be constitutional if under strict scrutiny they do not materially interfere with an individuals right to keep and bear arms for self defense and survival. Or the effectiveness of the weapon in self defense.

  41. Brummagem Joe says:

    @lankyloo:

    Man, the ability for people to turn everything into a contemporary political fight is crazy

    It’s not crazy. Some undoubtedly were but many were not. And while putting crazy people back into the community has been a trend it was principally driven by budgetary issues and as a generalisation and I accept it’s a generalisation these were principally pushed by Republicans. There was an enormous row in NYS about this back in the 90’s when Pataki was governor

  42. Geek, Esq. says:

    @James Joyner:

    No, but a $25/round tax would be perfectly constitutional.

    Given that a single bullet can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in societal costs, seems reasonable.

  43. wr says:

    @JKB: Oh, wow, you mean 150 years ago, the Democratic party was the party of the Klan and Jim Crow. Hey, you showed me. I’ll stop believing in gun control because you’ve demonstrated that political parties can change over the years. Man, do you know how to argue!

  44. lankyloo says:

    @Brummagem Joe: The funding issue is true, but the push toward rights of the mentally ill and the move away from state run lock down facilities was largely pushed by liberals, which also had the effect of moving people with mental health issues out of places where they took their medication and didn’t have to live on their own. I agree with those policies, but it really isn’t an issue of evil republicans defunding mental health or evil democrats dumping people onto the street.

    It just seems like people are reading their current political views onto the past, when we have a real need to focus on the current crisis, like you are talking about, rather than focus on trying to place all of the blame on the current other side while ignoring the other side. It seems like some of the discussion above was pure unadulterated tribalism, and doesn’t advance any discussion forward.

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @ Geek…
    And there is no reason not to tax the guns themselves heavily.

    One – The Newtown woman was a gun enthusiast. Yet shemade it possible for her mentally disabled child – a child she had warned others was dangerous – to gain access to them. Clearly guns are too readily available to those who are not responsible enough to own them. Making them rare and expensive will go a long way to reducing the proliferation.

    Two – The Newtown woman was also apparently a survivalist type…what are they called now? Preppers? I think we need to start evaluating the sanity of these types…and the appropriateness of gun ownership for them.

  46. Ernieyeball says:

    I support the United States Constitution. All of it. I have to. I am an American Citizen. It is the Supreme Law of the Land.
    I do not support the National Rifle Association. There is nothing in the United States Constitution
    that says I have to support the National Rifle Association to be a Citizen of the United States.
    ——

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. The Guns don’t have anything to do with it.

    Guns save lives. Guns have everything to do with it.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  47. JKB says:

    @Geek, Esq.: No, but a $25/round tax would be perfectly constitutional.

    Actually, it wouldn’t be constitutional. Not to mention, it would be discriminatory against the poor. You cannot impose a cost upon the exercise of a constitutionally protected natural right designed to limit that right. Go back and research why we have public defenders.

    On the other hand, a single statement, a single article, a single blog post can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in societal costs…in the form of riots, the need to provide protection to individuals targeted, misdirected resources, etc. So how about a $25 per comment tax and a $2500 per post view tax, etc?

    The majority of lawfully owned firearms, lawfully owned ammunition and lawful use of such causes no damage at all. However, state owned firearms routinely kill individuals determined to having not been an imminent threat and often simply mentally ill or stubborn or best of all, startled when law enforcement raid a home they’ve no legal right to enter due to police mistakes.

  48. Just Me says:

    Close the mental hospitals, tell everyone that the mentally ill would receive care at community mental health clinics, then don’t fund the clinics.

    Add into the mix that the US has one of the highest standards of proof to involuntarily commit a mentally ill person or require treatment.

    Basically in our current system, a mentally ill person can refuse to participate in treatment and the chances of anyone making them participate are very small, because they all but have to hurt somebody to get the treatment.

    HIPPA also makes it difficult for providers to raise flags with police when they suspect a patient is going off the deep end.

    Politically there is a perfect storm of competing rights that basically allows the mentally ill to fall through the cracks and doesn’t provide needed care or supervision.

    Also, when it comes to the mentally ill who pose a danger, if they refuse to participate in treatment and refuse to take medications they should be institutionalized or at least placed in a home with 24 hour supervision and staff support.

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    Not to mention, it would be discriminatory against the poor. You cannot impose a cost upon the exercise of a constitutionally protected natural right designed to limit that right. Go back and research why we have public defenders.

    I’m so old, I can remember back to when JKB wasn’t a liberal. It’s stirring, isn’t it, his sudden solicitude for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised? It might have been more impressive if he had managed this leap of imaginative empathy before it was his own ox that was being gored but I’ll take what I can get…..

  50. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    For the win

    Deny rights to all but the wealthy, connected “citizens” who can afford the “tax” and is favored by the government in power

    Use the mental health laws to attack those you disagree. Throw dissidents into the asylums after the bureaucrats determine their “views” are not of the approved sort.

    C. Clavin are you certain that you will always be a one percenter? That you won’t become disfavored or poor?

  51. Tsar Nicholas says:

    We never really per se had a “debate.” A debate involves two sides presenting competing arguments.

    We had a bunch of local politicos in lock step Democrat cities issue by diktat various anti-gun regulations. Then the bodies of gunshot victims continued piling up unabated, often at even faster rates, and those who enacted those ordinances smiled, preened, mugged for the cameras, and then went back to into their reality comas.

    We had various liberal state legislatures enact strict gun control regulations, including, ironically enough, in Connecticut.

    For decades now the media has been so partisan, so numbingly agenda driven in its coverage of this issue it would be funny if it weren’t such a huge derelection of duty.

    The reality is that gun crimes can’t be prevented with laws or regulations. Ban assault rifles and the next spree killer will use an illegal one or he’ll use pistols. Ban pistols and the next spree killer will use illegal ones or he’ll use a shotgun. Ban shotguns and the next spree killer will use an illegal one or he’ll use a submachine gun. So on, so forth. Ban the production of all firearms and there still would be tens of millions of them in circulation. Plus the very next day underground manufacturers would spring up and create yet another black market for firearms.

    What we need is a legitimate and rational discusson about this issue culminating with a common sense, comprehensive national legislative package that takes reasonable and limited steps to try to help reduce the incidents of illegitimate gun violence while recognizing not only the obvious Constitutional issues but also the facts that guns are an industrial product responsible directly and indirectly for tens of billions of dollars of annual commerce and are the sources and tools of recreational enjoyment for tens of millions of citizens. But the chances of that actually happening fall somewhere between zero and none. Amidst the horrible U.S. decline rational and reasonable and common sense all have left the building.

  52. JKB says:

    @Rafer Janders: I can remember back to when JKB wasn’t a liberal.

    Of course, there is no disparity between advocating for all people to be able to exercise their natural rights without the need to achieve some arbitrary level of financial success and opposing taking from some who’ve been successful in order to provide a state-given right to others.

    That you cannot see the difference is very sad.

  53. Brummagem Joe says:

    @lankyloo:

    the move away from state run lock down facilities was largely pushed by liberals,

    You wouldn’t like to adduce evidence of this would you? I would dispute this based on my knowledge of the controversy in NYS when liberals generally were up in arms because Pataki was emptying residential establishments and putting crazy people into half way houses basically to save money. And I’m not reading my views into anything this is what happened. And my general sense is that this has been principally driven by budgettary issues and not clinical ones.

  54. Brummagem Joe says:

    @lankyloo:

    I agree with those policies, but it really isn’t an issue of evil republicans defunding mental health or evil democrats dumping people onto the street.

    Btw I never mentioned evil Republicans…..both parties have been culpable but on the whole these budget cutting issues tend to be pushed by Republicans. My view anyway is that the entire thing is a red herring, given the numbers there’s no way you attack this issue from the mental illness end….the cost would be prohibitive quite apart from other considerations….it’s a placebo intended to distract attention from realistic and cost effective solutions which also btw address the criminality issues.

  55. anjin-san says:

    @ lankyloo

    or Kennedy or not if you actually want to be accurate about the history

    I was living in CA when Reagan started closing mental hospitals (which were in need of reform, not closure) Kennedy was deceased at this time, I am fairly sure he had nothing to do with it, nor with funding for mental health in the 80s.

    If you want to be a stickler for historical accuracy, perhaps you should start with yourself.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    Actually JKB…I’m not a one percenter…and I’m willing to pay taxes for that which I want to own. I pay real estate taxes, and car taxes on multiple vehicles, and consumption taxes which include gas taxes.
    You want to own murder weapons? Pay for them.
    Where in the Constitution does it say that Arms must be cheap and plentiful?

  57. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin: Where in the Constitution does it say that Arms must be cheap and plentiful?

    The arms are not required to be cheap or plentiful. Nor is there an obligation that an individual be provided with one if they cannot afford one.

    However, we are speaking of the government using their monopoly on force and taxing ability to increase the cost of arms so as to prevent citizens from being able to exercise their right. That is unconstitutional, as in “shall not be infringed.”

    Infringe \In*fringe”\, v.
    1. To break; to violate; to transgress; to neglect to fulfill
    or obey;

    The right to keep and bear arms shall not be broken, violated, trangressed or neglected to be fulfilled or obeyed [by the state, government, political jurisdiction, etc.]

  58. anjin-san says:

    That is unconstitutional, as in “shall not be infringed.”

    Perhaps you can provide links to the many posts you have made calling Republicans to task for attempts to surpress the right to vote…

  59. Franklin says:

    @JKB: the Progressive policies of dumping the mentally ill on the street.

    As we covered yesterday in one thread, and as I have real-life experience with, you have this about half-right. Mental health funding was cut off by conservatives. It was a joint venture. Progressives fixed some wrongly “imprisoned”, conservatives saved a couple bucks. Everybody patted themselves on the back.

  60. john personna says:

    I think things seem more static in the world of punditry, and commentary, because everybody is pretty much holding to their last-year positions.

    I’m surprised when I drive, and hear on the radio of more motion in the real world. A Republican congressman and hunter comes out against assault rifles. Cerberus is selling its stake in Bushmaster and the brand may be dissolved. Etc.

    It is possible the public is shifting a bit, as “locked in” opinionators fail to notice.

  61. john personna says:

    @Franklin:

    That’s my understanding as well.

    Maybe JKB can tell us the funding they propose for 2013, for enhanced federal mental health programs.

  62. anjin-san says:

    @ Franklin

    You pretty much covered it. Both sides were indeed involved in creating the current mess. In defense of progressives I will say that they at least had good intentions. Conservatives just wanted to save money, without regard for the consequences.

  63. lankyloo says:

    @anjin-san: Nope, he had to do with it in the 60s, when he pushed for a bill to increase federal funding for community mental health centers, while reducing funding for large hospitals. Reagan wasn’t governor everywhere, but there was a massive push away from mental hospitals to community centers starting in the 50s everywhere, not just where republicans were.

    It makes sense too. Kennedy’s sister was lobotomized at one of the psychiatric hospitals, which was a really common experience.

    Look, I don’t like the reduction of funding for community mental health centers. I also don’t like Reagan. When funding expanded for community centers over hospitals, many states closed down hospitals. It wasn’t just where Reagan was. Why make it out to be that? That’s what I don’t get, why idiots like JKB and Tsar want to make it all out to be evil democrats, and you and others want to make it out to be all republicans.

  64. lankyloo says:

    @anjin-san: Exactly this. I’m not sure why the hell we are arguing!

  65. anjin-san says:

    @ lankyloo

    A review of my comments will show I am not trying to lay blame at the feet of one party. What I am doing is responding to JKB’s attempt to do so.

  66. lankyloo says:

    @anjin-san: I think this is one of those points where we ended up reading each others comments in a slanted way, and went off of that. My apologies for doing so to you.

  67. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: calling Republicans to task for attempts to surpress the right to vote…

    When did they do that? There were a few odd decision by state sec of state but they were quickly dispensed with. If you are speaking of voter id, well, I do remember the UN observers were surprised that we didn’t have voter id and other voter fraud prevention policies. Not to mention, for all the Left’s getting their panties in a bunch, they didn’t say boo in my state over the requirement. I just got a new voter registration card with “Valid ID required” printed in red across the top. And in early voting the id was an issue in 0.004% of votes cast of which in half the voter returned with ID so the issue impacted only 0.008% of the votes cast. That from the state Sec of State’s office. No news stories, no protests, it’s like the Dems were only worried about voter ID in precincts where voter fraud would be most effective. Hmmm.

  68. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    When did they do that?

    Even you are not this clueless.

  69. Brummagem Joe says:

    @lankyloo:

    you and others want to make it out to be all republicans.

    I specifically said both parties were culpable but said it tended to be driven by budget issues which are mainly a Republican concern (you’ve produced no evidence this was driven by liberals as you claim), gave you an example from NYS that happened when I living in NYC and voila…….

    http://www.nationofchange.org/wake-newtown-tragedy-virginia-governor-proposes-slashing-funding-mental-health-services-1355761583

  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    You obviously have no idea how much a “full” background check costs. Many years ago, the agency database check that they do for just plain old secret clearances was $10,000 each.

    Maybe “full” is the wrong word to use. But I also doubt very much that the law firm I worked at in the late 70’s paid the equivalent of $10k for my “Top Secret” clearance so I could handle classified materials as a mail room clerk.

    Just saying.

  71. anjin-san says:

    @ lankyloo

    What happened to Rosemary Kennedy was tragic, and indeed a cautionary tale. If memory serves, she suffered from nothing more than fairly mild retardation and some behavior issues that stemmed from her frustration at being unable to fully participate in Kennedy family life. She was aware enough of what was going on around her to understand that she had limitations that held her back.

  72. scott says:

    A few thoughts:

    The individual right to arms is a relatively new one based on the Heller decision.

    Let’s switch to Roe v Wade in which the Supreme Court found a right to abortion.

    Since that decision there have been many restrictions on abortions that have been deemed “reasonable”.

    There are many who are trying to overturn this “settled” law.

    This means to me that “settled” is never settled. Also means that “reasonable” restrictions can be placed on rights.

    So assertions that the 2nd Amendment conversation is over seems somewhat overblown.

    Also overblown are assertions that restrictions on 2nd Amendment rights cannot be made.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Here is one place we can start that I think all can agree on: Felons finding it easy to Regain Gun Rights

    While previously a small number of felons were able to reclaim their gun rights, the process became commonplace in many states in the late 1980s, after Congress started allowing state laws to dictate these reinstatements — part of an overhaul of federal gun laws orchestrated by the National Rifle Association. The restoration movement has gathered force in recent years, as gun rights advocates have sought to capitalize on the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms.
    This gradual pulling back of what many Americans have unquestioningly assumed was a blanket prohibition has drawn relatively little public notice. Indeed, state law enforcement agencies have scant information, if any, on which felons are getting their gun rights back, let alone how many have gone on to commit new crimes.

  74. anjin-san says:

    As someone who has spent a lot of time interacting with community mental health services, I can say with some certainty that they have been cut to the bone. The only thing left to cut is more bone. We need to bear that in mind when we listen to conservatives talking about the need to shrink government.

  75. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    If you were a mail room clerk, you didn’t handle top secret material in the mail. Top secret material must be transported by a properly cleared courier. Secret can be sent via registered mail and does not require any clearance for handling in the mail since it isn’t identified as classified on the external wrapper.

    In any case, an individual cannot be denied their right to keep and bear arms unless they are prohibited by being under age, a non-resident alien, a convicted felon or adjudicated mentally ill. There is hardly a reason to do a further background check since the information has no impact on their right to purchase a firearm. It’s that pesky Constitution again and the right to due process.

  76. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “The reality is that gun crimes can’t be prevented with laws or regulations.”

    Funny, isn’t it, how right wingers decide laws can’t possibly stop any crimes when it comes to things they like? Banning guns can’t stop murders — criminals will just get them illegally. There’s no point in raising taxes on the rich — they’ll just hire accountants to get around the new laws.

    But when it comes to people and things they don’t like? Life imprisonment for petty thefts committed by those with previous convictions. Massive prison sentences for possession of a kind of cocaine poor and black people use. Ludicrous restrictions on women’s health clinics. Somehow these laws stop behavior Republicans don’t like. But no laws can ever impede a right winger. Wonder why that is…

  77. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    You have a problem with someone convicted of using their Round Up in ways not in accordance with the label being able go through adjudication so that their right of self defense is not limited?

    First tell us if individuals convicted of crimes of violence are getting their rights back? Or individuals deemed violent rational assessment even if their crime wasn’t strictly a violent felony?

    Otherwise, you are lumping Senators and other politicians convicted of taking bribes with rapists, armed robbers and murderers in regards to the risk of them being able to possess a firearm.

  78. wr says:

    @JKB: “In any case, an individual cannot be denied their right to keep and bear arms unless they are prohibited by being under age, a non-resident alien, a convicted felon or adjudicated mentally ill. There is hardly a reason to do a further background check since the information has no impact on their right to purchase a firearm. It’s that pesky Constitution again and the right to due process.”

    As someone pointed out above, the supreme court found there was a constitutional right to have an abortion, and yet states have been putting more and more restrictions on that right, including making it almost impossible for a woman to get an abortion unless she has the money to travel great distances and stay over for several nights.

    So is it only gun rights that are completely, absolutely inviolate? Why would that be? Is it constitutional to impose burdens on those seeking guns or unconstitutional to impose burdens on those seeking abortions? Please explain. America is waiting for your wisdom.

  79. lankyloo says:

    @Brummagem Joe: There were a lot of changes to the laws in the 50s and 60s, including some hospital closures. The funding streams from the federal government changed to favor community mental health centers over hospitals in the 60s. This was pushed by Kennedy.

    After that, hospitals and then the community centers became easy places to cut funding, and you’re absolutely right, this tended to be done by Republican governors as an easy place to cut, since there wasn’t a large constituency for this. However, some places, like Willowbrook in NYS, were closed by democrats.

    The initial push for reforming and substantially reducing the population of psychiatric hospitals came from concerns about the rights of patients, the conditions in the hospitals, and the treatment regimens at a lot of these hospitals. A lot of this was driven by people on the left. Like anjin said, this was largely out of interests of improving conditions. However, it also involved an increase of the mentally ill homeless population, restrictions on the ability to control the treatment regimens of the mentally ill, and others.

    What I’m not doing is saying that Republicans are good on this issue. In general, they are not, as the link you posted says.

    Here’s something from Boston’s PBS station about the history and consequences of deinstitutionalization. Note there that they attribute two main causes to deinstitutionalization, antipsychotic drugs and medicaid and medicare. Unless you want to argue that medicaid and medicare were not liberal policies, there is some evidence that liberal policies were responsible, in part, for what is currently a broken mental health system. I say this as a liberal.

    A lot the push for moving patients out of psychiatric hospitals into other settings was done by liberals in general, and democrats in particular. This was better than the previous situation, but has also led to a significant number of problems. We need to address those, and the issues go beyond increasing funding for community mental health centers that were cut by Republicans. That is part of the issue, and we definitely need to fund these places, but not the only issue. Why shouldn’t we talk about these other issues? I’m a democrat and a liberal, but I’m not going to sink the level of morons like Tsar and to a lesser extent JKB.

    The mental health “system” in this country is a serious problem, and arguing over who is most responsible in the past does nothing to help the current situation. You keep saying that you think both sides are culpable, but every time I say that the left bears some responsibility, you and Anjin jump on me. If you follow that link above, you will see progressive policies (but of course not only progressive policies), leading to the current situation that we have. If we on the left are supposed to be serious about policy, don’t we need to examine these policy failures of the past? Don’t we need to rethink some of our assumptions, or at least question them? For example, the move to community health centers put the onus on the ill person to seek and maintain treatment, especially if they have never committed a crime. Is that still a good policy in the wake of these recent shootings? Why is it more important to shout down JKB than to start to think about these policies.

    Deinstitutionalization was a policy that was preferred by both political parties and by liberals and conservatives. It has led to a lot of negative consequences that we are currently dealing with, and since the Democratic Party is the only one that seems interested in governing at the national level, is something that we need to start talking about.

    Look, I’m not an expert on this issue, but I do know that the transformation of mental health system in this country started in the 50s, well before Reagan and the alignment of conservative ideology and the Republican party. Liberals from both parties pushed through a number of reforms that were well-intentioned, but ultimately led to problems for the care and treatment of the mentally ill that are separate from the funding issues. Even if community mental health centers were well-funded, we would still have a broken mental health system.

  80. lankyloo says:

    @lankyloo: Sorry about the super link.

  81. michael reynolds says:

    We already have psychopaths with guns. They’re called the NRA.

    This is why has to be a hearts and minds campaign. We have to change people’s opinions about guns, and about gun owners. Gun owning should at very least me as condemned as smoking in a crowded public place.

    I don’t accept this willful impotence on the subject. I think it’s part and parcel of the NRA brainwashing of Americans. What can we do? We can do plenty. We can forbid our children to visit a home where we know guns are present. We can refuse to associate with people we know are gun owners. We can ask on job applications whether we are dealing with a gun owner and therefore a potential risk to fellow employees. We can begin to show in print and media that we don’t accept the damage they do to society. We can educate and propagandize. We can stigmatize.

    Because owning a gun is an anti-social act. By the choice to own a gun you are increasing the odds of a friend or neighbor or family member being shot. That has to be made clear. Owning a gun is no more morally defensible than cooking up a little Sarin gas in your basement.

    None of this will work overnight. People did not overnight stop littering, or stopping using the “n” word, or stop assuming they could smoke, or wink at drunk driving. We can change anti-social behaviors with slow, steady, continuous pressure. We’ve done it before, we can do it on this.

  82. C. Clavin says:

    “…The right to keep and bear arms shall not be broken, violated, trangressed or neglected to be fulfilled or obeyed [by the state, government, political jurisdiction, etc.]…”

    And that means a 30 round clip needs to cost $8.99 or your rights have been infringed????
    Someone remind me not to bother with this clown again.

  83. Brummagem Joe says:

    @lankyloo:

    It’s producing some very funny outcomes. I’ve lost lengthy and I hope reasonably intelligent responses twice…..sorry I’m not doing it again….LOL

  84. Brummagem Joe says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Someone remind me not to bother with this clown again.
    You’re reminded……there are really some posters here who are more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic….Lol

  85. Brummagem Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Mikey I agree with you the NRA is a deeply immoral organisation although I don’t go as far as a total gun ban because although I’ve given up hunting and line shooting I do think it unreasonable to restrict access to these recreational pursuits.

  86. michael reynolds says:

    @lankyloo: @lankyloo:

    Yes, it was a liberal democrat thing. I remember deinstitutionalization gaining steam in the 70’s and thinking even then that it was an overreaction. My imperfect memory of it was that it was seen as analogous to civil rights, that the mentally ill were just another minority subject to discrimination. But I’ve always had a healthy respect for severe mental illness and the damage that can be done by totally unhinged people.

    Obviously no one is talking about locking people up for OCD or homosexuality or some vague notion of hysteria. And I don’t think anyone wants to see warehousing of mental patients under the inhuman conditions that often existed. But all that being said, we have to be able to protect society from dangerous schizophrenics. And we have to help families cope.

  87. michael reynolds says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    The problem is that none of the legal solutions under serious consideration would have done much to stop this massacre. Yes, outlawing large capacity clips helps. But virtually all of this slaughter could have been accomplished with shotguns or handguns.

    My wife was pistol-whipped in a failed rape attempt by a good, old-fashioned six-shooter. The 9 mil shoved into my face when I was robbed was not an assault weapon. When I accidentally fired a 45 in a room with my girlfriend, sister and uncle I was not insane. When my sister-in-law’s best friend and entire family were murdered by a teen-age son the guns were legal.

    The guns used in this massacre were legally registered to the killer’s mother. She was not mentally ill, aside from being nuts.

    The problem is guns. It’s not mental illness, it’s not particular styles of gun, it’s not video games, it’s not armor-piercing rounds. It’s guns. Period. All guns. Everything else is hand-waving and shiny objects.

    It’s guns.

  88. C. Clavin says:

    @ B. Joe and Michael Reynolds….
    I also am not interested in a total ban.
    I do want to make sure that people like the Mother in Newtown, who are borderline paranoids and based on the evidence clearly not responsible gun owners, are not allowed to keep friggin’ arsenals.
    When I lived in VT the nearest cop was :45 minutes away. I considered a gun for defense a necessity. I never saw a need for 47 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

  89. Ernieyeball says:

    @lankyloo:…the move to community health centers put the onus on the ill person to seek and maintain treatment, especially if they have never committed a crime. Is that still a good policy in the wake of these recent shootings?”

    It was never a good idea and it is still not a good idea. When they are experiencing the symptoms of their disease, victims of schizophrenia do not have the ability to make the decision(s) that lead to treatment. Letting citizens with this disease aimlessly wander about does nothing to respect their rights. It also puts the rest of society in danger, too often mortal danger.

    (Great handle LL. Reminds me of that old song Bony Moronie.)

  90. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Sure you can do all those things. You can entreat your fellow citizens to join you in those acts.

    What you can’t do is get the government to impose laws that infringe citizens who choose to own guns rights to keep and bear arms.

    So by all means, start your attempts to ostracize gun owners in your private acts. But you cannot impose those restrictions in public places or by government law or regulation.

    Nor can you stop gun owners from choosing not to shop in “helpless victim” zones or deciding not to send their children to spend the bulk of their days in “helpless victim” zones either.

    BTW, you might be surprised to learn who owns guns, who routinely carries firearms and how much gun owners contribute to the economy in regular trade as well as purchases toward their sporting and gun ownership hobbies.

  91. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    What you can’t do is get the government to impose laws that infringe citizens who choose to own guns rights to keep and bear arms.

    But it’s okie dokie for conservatives to surpress the right of fellow citizens to vote and get abortions?

  92. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    BTW, you might be surprised to learn who owns guns, who routinely carries firearms and how much gun owners contribute to the economy in regular trade as well as purchases toward their sporting and gun ownership hobbies.

    Enough to compensate for this?

    In 2009, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 66.9% of all homicides in the United States were perpetrated using a firearm.[4] There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000.[5] The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,[6] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.[7]

    Enough to compensate for this?

    MERCER, Pa. — A 7-year-old boy had been buckling himself into his safety seat in the back of his father’s truck when he was shot to death after a handgun accidentally went off as his father got in the front seat, police said Sunday.

    Enough to compensate for this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_2N8u7MW_A

    I’m sure you can guess what that last link is.

  93. rudderpedals says:

    At some point common sense will supersede the suicide pact interpretation. That point will be reached when enough bodies pile up. It’s inevitable.

  94. Ernieyeball says:

    @rudderpedals: Dream on…

    You can be sure none of the surviving kin of this bloodbath will be getting sympathy cards from the National Rifle Association. Even if the corpses were piled up at the entrance to their national headquarters.

  95. Just Me says:

    When they are experiencing the symptoms of their disease, victims of schizophrenia do not have the ability to make the decision(s) that lead to treatment.

    This is pretty much the core of the problem. Current policy basically says that the mentally ill can refuse to take medications and refuse treatment and in order to get a court order for them to get help they pretty much have to hurt themselves or somebody else to get help.

    It also ignores the other huge problem-once the mentally ill person does harm somebody, they usually end up in the prison system rather than the mental health system. A lot of the deinstitutionalized mentally ill didn’t just end up on the streets they ended up in our prisons.

  96. JKB says:

    @wr: As someone pointed out above, the supreme court found there was a constitutional right to have an abortion, and yet states have been putting more and more restrictions on that right

    I am not up on my roe v wade, women are always going to kill their babies so making it illegal is just ignorant, but my understanding is the SCOTUS found a right to privacy and the killing of her unborn child was a private matter for a woman rather than a right to kill her child outright, i.e., it was a private medical issue. As such, the issue is when does the child gain rights that must be balanced. Also, the state has a public interest in regulating medical services as many here often cite for the FDA and for the need to license medical professionals.

    On the other hand, the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation. You must purchase a federal firearms license to keep and use weapons such as short barrel rifles and shotguns and those that are select fire. Also, you must seek a license to own and use weapons that are not personal firearms, such as crew served weapons, the oft-cited anti-tank weapon, etc. What is limited is the ability of the state to deny ownership of personal defense and hunting weapons in common use and popular. On the other hand, there are restrictions on carrying weapons (in a ready-use state) outside of your property. Although I believe the recent decision on Illinois laws was over the discretionary “may issue” rules that deny citizens the same rights on the whim of a state official. That is, such restrictions must be applied equitably imposed and not rest upon governmental connections.

  97. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    And no laws against banning ammo. Right? The gun may have existed in 1776 or 1789, but the cartridge did not.

    Keep and bear arms. Not a single word about ammunition.

  98. John Burgess says:

    @RobZ: He might be referring to JFK:

    President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Community Mental Health Centers Act accelerated the trend toward deinstitutionalization with the establishment of a network of community mental health centers. In the 1960s, with the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government assumed an increasing share of responsibility for the costs of mental health care. That trend continued into the 1970s with the implementation of the Supplemental Security Income program in 1974. State governments helped accelerate deinstitutionalization, especially of elderly people. In the 1960s and 1970s, state and national policies championed the need for comprehensive community mental health care, though this ideal was slowly and only partially realized.

    citation: http://www.minddisorders.com/Br-Del/Deinstitutionalization.html

  99. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    as I said in my first comment, if you want to have a gun control debate, you are going to have to catch up to the current law. That the 2nd amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms was part of recent SCOTUS decisions. That the right to keep and bear arms covers ammunition to use that firearm was also decided. That you cannot impose a punitive tax on firearms or ammunition has been considered.

    So catch up on the latest decisions then perhaps you’ll be able to form restrictions that will be constitutional and that you can sell to the American public. But don’t fret most of the rhetoric coming out of Congress and the White House doesn’t demonstrate a familiarity with current constitutional scholarship on the matter either.

  100. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    Supreme Court interpretations can be overturned. Your side has been trying to overturn Roe for decades. Right? The fact that a right-wing court in the grips of the gun cult has made a decision that does not reflect the intent of the Framers is a temporary matter.

    In the end a different court will find differently. Because people will come to be as appalled by that decision as they are by Dredd Scott. It will come to be seen as a temporary madness, an aberration. A mental sickness.

    As it is gun ownership is declining and becoming more just a Republican thing. That suggests it’s also an age thing. Old people die. Meanwhile, I’ll be talking to young people.

  101. C. Clavin says:

    These idiots keep leaning on the 2nd.
    We could always repeal it.

  102. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That is a skewing of the data, I think. The 31% of Democrats who own guns are a fair sized minority.

    Maybe you can tell us what fraction of Democrat gun owners are ready to surrender them.

  103. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    26 — Percentage of Americans who favor a handgun ban, a record low, according to a 2011 Gallup Poll.

    60 — Percentage who supported a ban in 1959, the first year Gallup asked this question.

    So much for the trend being your friend.

  104. anjin-san says:

    women are always going to kill their babies

    Yes, and conservatives are always going to shriek about their right to own guns child killing devices…

    See how easy it is to play this little game of yours?

  105. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds: As it is gun ownership is declining and becoming more just a Republican thing. That suggests it’s also an age thing.

    As I said, you need to catch up if you hope to offer feasible gun control ideas:

    Hipsters Who Hunt
    More liberals are shooting their own supper.

    Hunting is undeniably in vogue among the bearded, bicycle-riding, locavore set. The new trend might even be partly behind a recent 9 percent increase from 2006 to 2011 in the number of hunters in the United States after years of decline.

  106. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    Yeah, bet your fetish on a handful of hipsters. Please do that.

  107. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    By the way, thanks for the hipster link. You just showed me an interesting way into a novel.

  108. Andre Kenji says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, it was a liberal democrat thing. I remember deinstitutionalization gaining steam in the 70′s and thinking even then that it was an overreaction. My imperfect memory of it was that it was seen as analogous to civil rights, that the mentally ill were just another minority subject to discrimination.

    That´s not the problem. I´m sure that locking people is an American Obsession, but you don´t need to lock everyone that has some kind of mental problem. That´s what I´m pointing out: if you have National Health policies you can do things like promoting policies to identify and help people that have any kind of mental problem. An uninsured dude with malaria is a public health risk, anyone with any kind of untreated health problem is.

    There is no policy towards people with mental problems because there is no health policy in the United States. That´s clearly a problem. You don´t need to lock people with mental problems, you need to be humane to them.

  109. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    One of the biggest problems is that the gun-grabbers usually have no effing clue what the hell they’re talking about, and have no interest in actually learning what the eff they’re talking about. Let’s look at a few examples from above.

    1) OzarkHillbilly, “I say ban assault rifles.”

    Assault RIFLES are defined as weapons capable of single-shot, burst, or fully automatic fire. (1, several, or non-stop fire from a single trigger pull.) They are already banned. Assault WEAPONS are a term created by ignorant politicians, and the definition boils down to “scary-looking guns.” Almost none of the defining traits actually increase the lethality of the weapons. The assault weapons ban was stupid, and better left dead.

    2) ed6 mentions “the gun show loopholes.” The “loophole” is that a private citizen can sell a gun to another private citizen at a gun show without a background check. Just like they can in any other place — the gun show simply makes it easier for sellers and buyers to find each other.

    Dealers at gun shows have to do background checks on their buyers, just like they have to anywhere else they conduct sales.

    And if the mere presence of guns makes things inherently dangerous, why the hell hasn’t a mass shooting ever happened at a gun show? In a gun shop? At a firing range?

    3) Several have mentioned “more thorough background checks.” Just what the hell would be checked out? They already check criminal records and mental health records. What other qualifications would be imposed for someone wishing to exercise a Constitutional right?

    4) The notion of backdooring gun control by prohibitive taxation. So, if Utah decided to put a hefty tax on abortion, that would be just fine with you, legally? Keeping and bearing arms is a hell of a lot clearer Constitutionally than abortion. Or even birth control.

    5) scott said “The individual right to arms is a relatively new one based on the Heller decision.” The notion that the Bill of Rights includes “collective” rights is the new idea. In every other citation of “the people’ in the Bill of Rights is clearly understood to be the right of an individual. It’s only in the 2nd Amendment that people are trying to redefine that term in a way that serves their agenda.

    6) Acknowledged hate-monger michael reynolds: “We already have psychopaths with guns. They’re called the NRA.” Please cite how many mass shootings have been committed by NRA members.

    Members of the NRA are proud of their guns, and protective of them and their rights to possess them. That’s why they go out of their way to not violate gun laws — they don’t want to be deprived of their guns and their right to own guns.

    Further, the NRA is the biggest promoter of gun safety in the country, and their training and safety programs are considered among the best.

    I await to see actual, serious proposals for opening this “dialogue” on gun control, and what “compromises” the gun-grabbers are willing to put on the table to get what they want. So far, all I’ve heard are calls for discussion that include flagrantly false and stupid things, insults, and demands for Fairy Dust Solutions.

  110. michael reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji:
    I think the problem may be that when it comes to policies of that sort there is no “United States,” just 50 individual states.

  111. C. Clavin says:

    @ MR…
    JKB suggested the beginning of a novel?
    You mean like:
    “…Call me Afool…”

  112. bill says:

    the gun debate is moot here- this wacky kid was very smart and planned to kill as many as possible. if he had no guns he’d go to plan b – bombs, fire, poison, whatever. – he would succeed.
    too bad his mom couldn’t have him committed sooner, more blood on her dead hands.
    not much discussion as to why a woman who warned people to “watch his every move” kept a bunch of guns around such an unstable d-bag.
    anyhow, most of the country will be over this in a week or two and the gun debate will subside.

  113. Ernieyeball says:

    @bill: if he had no guns he’d go to plan b – bombs, fire, poison, whatever. – he would succeed.

    This is pure speculation on your part. There is no way for you to know about unrealized events.

    …most of the country will be over this in a week or two…

    Most of the country? You know what the thoughts of most of over 300,000,000 Americans will be in a week or two? I don’t believe you.

  114. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ernieyeball: This is pure speculation on your part. There is no way for you to know about unrealized events.

    Your same objection applies to the argument that stricter gun control laws would have prevented the shooting.

    Funny how you didn’t raise that point earlier…

  115. michael reynolds says:

    @bill:

    What bullsh!t. This idea that evil will always find a way is immoral, pathetic, weak, surrender-monkey crap.

    The fact is that evil has been enabled by different technologies over time. And that technology — from the compound bow to the nuclear bomb – has expanded the reach and impact of evil. Evil as they were, the Huns could only kill so many relying on horse, bow and sword. Give them nukes and they’d have killed far more.

    This learned impotence in the face of evil disgusts me. You go ahead and bend over. I refuse.

  116. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: So, if you take away evil’s toys, it’ll stop doing evil things?

    What a fascinating insight.

  117. Ernieyeball says:

    Hi, Jenos:
    Let me know when your buddies at the NRA convey their condolences to the families of the slain innocents.

  118. anjin-san says:

    So, if you take away evil’s toys, it’ll stop doing evil things?

    The murder rates in other advanced countries suggest that there is actually something to this.

  119. Andre Kenji says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think the problem may be that when it comes to policies of that sort there is no “United States,” just 50 individual states.

    I don´t see any wide Health policies, even in states.

  120. mannning says:

    Debate will turn out to be useless posturing and demagoging. The congress and the President will decide what they will and won’t do, and foster it onto the public, whether righty or wrongly. I give the odds of it be a right and intelligent decision about a 2% chance. A fig leaf will be forthcoming, in the form of little changes around the edges of the gun problem and hot air around the mental derangement problem and how to keep such people away from guns.

    The Feinstein bill allows some 900 specific weapons to remain legal to own and use, while banning what some rather poorly educated persons on guns have decided are really bad for us. I think the odds of it passing to be zero, but some limiting of clip capacity or drums may find its way into law.

    Any major decisions will find serious opposition from all sides, with compromises hard to achieve. This is especially so when trying to legislate in the mental field in 50 states. It will be a very slow and painful process, and will take years and years to implement even partially.

    The only quick solution is to allow some teachers in each school to arm themselves, broadcast the fact , but not identify who they are, and have, in addition, a team of policemen (a two man SWAT team, perhaps) visiting randomly and often at each school for perhaps an hour or so each week or so as a show of force.This assures the staff, the students and the parents that protection has been increased, while confronting the smart but defective shooter with several unpredictable problems; just who is armed in the school, and just when is the SWAT “army “going to visit.

    If there is success in getting the mental defectives under control, then the arms might not be necessary all the time, and the SWAT teams could gradually reduce their visits.This seems to me to be the only rapid reaction to the problem. You need gunners to face a gunner, being mindful that police help is still 10 or more minutes away at best.

  121. anjin-san says:

    mental defectives

    People who are mentally ill are ill, just like people who have cancer. They are not “defectives.”

    You, on the other hand…

  122. matt says:

    But it’s quite possible that we’ll ultimately see a ban on assault rifle and large magazines;

    Assault rifles are already banned for your average citizen. An assault rifle hasn’t been used in a school shooting EVER.

    @OzarkHillbilly: AP ammo has been banned for a long time too..

    Is it too much for me to ask for the anti-gun people to at least educate themselves about the current laws before asking to ban stuff that is already banned?

  123. matt says:

    @rudderpedals: Yeah but banning cars isn’t going to happen anytime soon dude.

  124. PJ says:

    @mannning:
    I’m amazed that you can write such a long comment using only one hand.

  125. C. Clavin says:

    “…You need gunners to face a gunner…”

    There is no stupider position that can be taken on this issue.
    None.
    I’m sorry…there is no polite way to say it.
    The idea of arming teachers is beyond imbecilic
    The idea that you have to be strapped to go to the movies…and that a bunch of armed citizens blasting away in a dark theater is the answer to anything…is deranged.
    And frankly that’s a huge part of the problem…if half the people in the discussion are just flat out stupid…then it is destined to be a stupid discusion.

  126. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    michael reynolds make the best argument, but doesn’t realize it. And isn’t capable of recognizing it.

    Notice his rhetorical style? All attack, no defense. Because when you’re defending, you’re losing.

    The standard model for dealing with these shooters is pure defense. Look at schools — locked doors, metal detectors, plans for evacuating and hiding, basically waiting for help to come. In Newtown, help was 20 minutes away.

    Some schools include in their plans an armed police officer. That’s not a purely defensive move, it’s a counterattack.

    In Newtown, the gunman was the only one armed in the school for 20 minutes. We should count ourselves lucky he didn’t kill a lot more.

  127. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ernieyeball: Even by the standards of the liberals here, that’s a pathetic response. Someone wake me if he ever says something of substance.

  128. Ben Wolf says:

    @C. Clavin: It would be far better to teach six-year olds to rush gunmen in one great, sticky wave so as to wrestle the weapon from him. Megan McCardle has shown us the way.

  129. john personna says:

    I think “arm kindergarten teachers” is the end game.

    It is the worst possible argument.

    It is also the only place an “armed populace” argument can go.

    In the gun nut’s noble vision of America, your kindergarten teacher is strapped, in order to protect your kids from the OTHER GUN NUTS.

  130. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: So, how’s that “no guns allowed in schools” working out for ya, champ?

  131. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    There are no guns in kindergartens right now, 99.99% of the time.

    That’s why there are no gun accidents in kindergartens right now, 100% of the time.

    You have to be an idiot to think that introducing guns, 100% of the times would not produce more accidents than spree killings.

  132. JKB says:

    @john personna: In the gun nut’s noble vision of America, your kindergarten teacher is strapped, in order to protect your kids from the OTHER GUN NUTS.

    Actually, it isn’t to protect from “other gun nuts” it is to protect from the plain old ordinary nuts.

    On the other hand, the gun controllers are advocating for policies that would have had absolutely no impact on the mass killers.

    Ban scary looking rifles, they use other rifles or handguns,

    ban high capacity magazines (that’s “high-magazine clips” in gun controller speak), they bring more guns or practice magazine swaps.

    If you want effective solutions then permit those teachers who wish to carry in accordance with state laws on carrying. Permit lawful carriers and off-duty police to carry in “gun-free” school zones. Create a self-defense/defense of others exception to the ban on discharging a firearm in a gun-free school zone by those not on-duty police or school security. Provide educators with training in Krav Maga or other disarming techniques so that when they rush a shooter (as many futilely have) they’ve got skills to cause more damage and possibly succeed.

    Then spree killers would not know if they would encounter armed response and aggressive opposition and experience has shown that most spree killers surrender or suicide when confronted.

  133. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    No, we are talking about spree killers here, and they are undeniably gun nuts.

  134. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    The idea of arming kindergarten teachers is so dumb that even the NRA wouldn’t go there-although Virginian Governor Bob Mcdonnell did-to the shame of Virginians.

  135. john personna says:

    Ask yourself, if as you keep reminding us, spree killers “could” easily use some other means, why do they not? Why do military style rifles serve as such a fascination for them? Why do they build their spree fantasy around that method?

    They tell us that the AR-15 style is the most popular gun in America right now. That’s really worrying to me, because for most practical purposes a good old bolt action 30-06 is better, and about half as expensive.

    Seemingly normal people share that visualization, of shooting many many shots at … something?

    Certainly not at an elk.

  136. scott says:

    @john personna: Said another way.

    Today there is a very low probability, nearing zero, that there will be an intentional shooting at any given school.

    If administration and teachers are not armed, there is a zero probability that there will be an accident involving firearms at the school.

    Arming administrators and/or teachers will raise the probability of an accident above zero.

    I will assert that the probability of an accident will then be greater than the probability of an intentional shooting.

    Therefore, arming schools will result in more deaths and injuries.

  137. john personna says:

    @scott:

    For what it’s worth, at my dad’s school in inner city LA, they had guns, but they were carried by an extra security staff. There was no dual-responsibly. No teacher had to teach and keep one hand on their gun.

    They did it because it was a heavy gang area, and considered worth the extra cost.

    Did the usual small government types just step up for extra, separate, security staff for all schools across America?

  138. scott says:

    @john personna: Yes, your dad’s school probably did a cost-benefit analysis, probably informal, and concluded yes, this makes sense.

    In our society, we don’t want to be cold-hearted calculators so we find that emotion rules the day. We refuse to accept risk or at least define acceptable risk and find ourselves spending trillions to fight terrorists, spending huge amounts on airline security, verge into absurdity with some regulations to shave the last bit of environmental risk, etc. Each subject can be debated but emotion should be limited so as to yield a better decision. We don’t do that very well.

  139. Ben Wolf says:

    The correct response from teachers to the call to arm them is to quit.

    I’ve been a public school teacher. I was responsible for socializing, for academics, for teaching morals and ethics and oh, so many things parents don’t bother with. I was responsible for making sure your child behaved well even when he wasn’t in school, at least according to parental complaints and the school board.

    I was held responsible for your child’s rate of learning, whether it was impacted by poverty, or an unstable domestic situation, or mental disability. I was responsible for determining whether your child was a threat to themself or to others while you ignored the problem. I was responsible for creating an environment in which your child could shed their anxiety and outright fear that resulted from the terrible upbringing you were giving them. I was responsible to tesityfing in court that you were an unfit parent (yes, you, whitey, so don’t think for a moment the majority of problems I had to deal with originated in minority households).

    I was held responsible for being a “role-model”. This meant if a parent saw me out at night drinking a beer I could be terminated for moral impropriety (and this is modern day America, not 1912). I could have been terminated for dancing at a club with my girlfriend if a parent found it objectionable.

    Almost none of what I wrote above has a single thing to do with what I was actually paid to do, teaching basic academics. But I was still made a parent without rights for thirty children, one who can actually be held accountable unlike you who get away with behavior that under other circumstances would be called war-crimes.

    So as a teacher I let the state, the parents and the church invade every aspect of my life, making more and more onerous requirements of me, demands that they really had no business making. But now a teacher is expected to be responsible for a f**king weapon in a f**king classroom full of grabby, curious kids. For becoming an armed combatant in what is essentially a permanent battleground.

    And all for the $36,000 gross I was being paid.

    Go f**k yourself.

  140. rudderpedals says:

    @matt: You’re still on the cars thing?

  141. john personna says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Not to mention, if you arm all teachers, sooner or later you are going to arm a crazy one.

  142. john personna says:

    @scott:

    It was a rough neighborhood. There had been some smash and grabs, where one person jumps in front of a car, the other assaults the driver. My dad made a deal with the police … “If any teacher hits a pedestrian, they’ll just keep going and we’ll report it from the school, OK?” police said “OK”

  143. Rafer Janders says:

    @scott:

    Arming administrators and/or teachers will raise the probability of an accident above zero.

    Look, just keep the gun in a Secret Closet of Mystery and tell the children that they must never ever, no matter what, look in there. Problem solved.

  144. john personna says:

    To make the “armed teacher” folks feel a little more unsettled:

    Kindergarten Teacher Threatens to ‘Shoot’ Her Students

  145. grumpy realist says:

    @Ben Wolf: Well, Tennassee wants to try it. Oh, no extra money will be allocated, because “we assume that all teachers already have guns.”

    And then we have the parents who think it’s a fine idea to load their kids up with guns and send them off to school.

    Yeah. A bunch of bored 12 year old boys, armed with guns. That’ll work well.

    The US is going to have to decide which track it wants to go down: Somalia or Europe. I vote Europe.

  146. JKB says:

    Turns out we may have to start arming toddlers

    Is it right that they are left helpless in the face of nature, red in tooth and claw?

    So @Ben Wolf: you would not be a good candidate for carrying while teaching. We don’t have to arm all teachers, just some. Them that are willing to do the work necessary to be prepared to step into the breach.

    You know, the school nurse hid under her desk in this last shooting. The killer (I refuse to use his name) came and she saw his feet. He left to do his killing. Had she had access to a firearm, she could have ended him right there with few victims. Instead she had to hide because she had no option that would end the threat.

  147. wr says:

    @john personna: “I think “arm kindergarten teachers” is the end game”

    Actually, I think this moron idea may do more to bring about sane gun laws than the massacre itself — because it showed those who have long assumed that the gun-huggers were sane what they really want. It’s like Romney’s 47%, finally stripping away the mask and showing the true face of those who have been destroying our country for decades.

  148. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    Face it. If you want guns in schools you’ll need dedicated, trained, and screened personnel. It is an entirely different skill set than “teacher.”

    @wr:

    It really strips away the fantasy. Giving a person a gun does not make them a law man.

  149. wr says:

    @john personna: “Not to mention, if you arm all teachers, sooner or later you are going to arm a crazy one”

    Didn’t the right spend last year telling us that school teachers were evil, greedy parasites stealing our tax dollars to fund their loathesome existence? And now they want to give these welfare cheats guns?

    I guess if you want to be a rightie, it’s no longer sufficient to be stupid. Now you’ve got to have the memory of a fruit fly.

    I figure Jay Tea will be running for president soon.

  150. john personna says:

    @wr:

    Karen Lewis with a gun?

  151. Barry says:

    “Will any of this stop hardened criminal? No. As Dave Shuler notes,

    There are already over 200 million guns in the United States. Any reasonably good machine shop can produce a high capacity magazine and banning them would merely produce a lively black market. Just as with alcohol and now drugs, anyone who really wanted them could get their hands on them.”

    This is a really, really bad argument. For example, silencers are illegal, but easy to produce; I have no idea of where I’d get one. For the old AR-15, there are parts from the original M-16 which would convert it to full-auto; millions must have been made, but I don’t know where to get one.

  152. Rafer Janders says:

    There was an incident a few months ago here in Manhattan — a man shot another man, midday on the street right by the Empire State Building, in a targeted killing. The killer then walked away, and, alerted by passersby two policemen confronted him. He raised his gun at the cops, but didn’t shoot, and the policemen fired, killing him — and also shooting and wounding nine civilians who’d been behind him.

    Think about that –these were two experienced NYC cops used to carrying guns and trained in their use, shooting at an opponent who was not shooting back, in well-lit conditions — and still they somehow managed to shoot nine separate innocent people in the background. It was only by sheer luck that none of those people died.

    Anyone who thinks that the average armed civilian would respond better in the chaos of a mass shooting is just deluding themselves. They’d be as likely to kill other victims as they would be to kill the gunman, if, that is, they managed to get a shot off at all rather than freezing in fear as most of us would do.

  153. Ernieyeball says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: You can sleep as long as you want Zippy. It would spare us all your hackneyed remarks.

  154. john personna says:

    @Barry:

    So, by that logic we should re-legalize full automatic fire, right?

  155. James in LA says:

    JKB seems to want a country where no one has any responsibility for anything so long as it “costs too much.” This is a mental illness, and it lies at the dark crawling heart of this obscene need for more and more guns. If only those yella-bellied 6-7 years olds had stood up, if only we sent our teachers to military academies, if only we have a handgun to anyone who graduated the second grade…

    “Buy Body Armor” is not a policy position. It’s anarchy. And cracks are beginning to appear.

  156. JKB says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Now you are just revealing your ignorance. Many police are not good shots, only shooting once a year to maintain their pass/fail quals which have low standards. Many police in urban areas especially are not gun people who routinely shoot for hobby. May police in high gun restricted areas, such as NYC and Chicago do not have strong skills with firearms.

    Add to that, that the police shooting you mention was a surprise draw situation which put the cops on their heels and in a quick draw situation.

    There are many individuals not in law enforcement who due to military or hobby training are far better shots and far better trained than police officers.

    Don’t believe me, read this by a retired police officer who is now a teacher

  157. JKB says:

    @James in LA:

    Your reading comprehension is way off. Were you, perhaps, with Hillary when she hit her head?

  158. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    Many police are not good shots, only shooting once a year to maintain their pass/fail quals which have low standards.

    As compared to kindergarten teachers and school nurses, who are all notoriously good shots and who practice frequently.

    Add to that, that the police shooting you mention was a surprise draw situation which put the cops on their heels and in a quick draw situation.

    As compared to a Newtown-style shooting, which is announced well in advance so that the armed teachers have time to prepare and get their heads in the game.

  159. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    LOL. It is almost too sad to laugh about, but you want school teachers and nurses to go though combat training now, and to keep current with that.

    Dude.

    This is the end game of the gun nut fantasy.

  160. Just Me says:

    A gun enthusiast is probably a better shot than the average police officer who carries a gun as part of his uniform and does the minimum qualifications. Most cops never have any reason to pull their guns out of the holster.

    That said, I don’t think I want to arm teachers.

    Our high school and middle school have a police officer who acts as a resource officer. He is uniformed and carries his gun on school property. I think this is probably a better option than asking the kindergarten teacher to carry a gun in her purse. However, it is also a more expensive option since the vast majority of schools won’t ever have a shooter enter its doors with the intent to kill as many students as he can.

  161. anjin-san says:

    Most cops never have any reason to pull their guns out of the holster.

    That sort of suggests that there is no need for the average citizen to carry a gun.

  162. Ben Wolf says:

    @john personna:

    Not to mention, if you arm all teachers, sooner or later you are going to arm a crazy one.

    And they’re out there, believe you me.

  163. Rafer Janders says:

    @Just Me:

    A gun enthusiast is probably a better shot than the average police officer who carries a gun as part of his uniform and does the minimum qualifications.

    It’s not how good a shot you are in a shooting range. That doesn’t matter one bit. What matters is how well you react and perform in an emergency, in a high-pressure, high-stress, life or death situation. As we know, even trained professionals such as policemen and soldiers who are expected to be able to encounter that every day often freeze, screw-up, or shoot bystanders or friends, so we can hardly expect armed civilians to do any better, no matter how good a shot they are. Any attacker isn’t going to stand still in the distance with a handy little target on his chest like at the gun range.

  164. Rafer Janders says:

    I love these logical twists and turns, frantically pivoting from “life is dangerous! Arm the teachers!” to “oh, well, life isn’t that dangerous, most cops never even pull their weapons out of the holster, you can’t expect cops to know how to handle guns as well as teachers would”…..

  165. Rafer Janders says:

    @Just Me:

    A gun enthusiast is probably a better shot than the average police officer who carries a gun as part of his uniform and does the minimum qualifications.

    Again to my point that it doesn’t matter how good a shot you are, this reminded me of a Gene Hackman quote from Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven”:

    Little Bill Daggett: Look son, being a good shot, being quick with a pistol, that don’t do no harm, but it don’t mean much next to being cool-headed. A man who will keep his head and not get rattled under fire, like as not, he’ll kill ya. It ain’t so easy to shoot a man anyhow, especially if the son-of-a-bitch is shootin’ back at you.

  166. mattb says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It’s not how good a shot you are in a shooting range. That doesn’t matter one bit. What matters is how well you react and perform in an emergency, in a high-pressure, high-stress, life or death situation.

    This.

    Range practice is useful, but just like bricks don’t hit back, targets don’t typically shoot back.

    The best training is the training that safely simulates stress triggers. The fact is most LEO people don’t do this training (though special responders do). Neither do most hobbyists. And different people’s bodies react to stress in different ways.

    Because most on-the-street LEO’s are dealing with potentially dangerous interpersonal conflict on a regular basis, they are on average better suited than most target shooters to dealing with this sort of situation. That said, if you read enough first hand reports, it’s clear that a lot of Police — not to mention Solider — do freeze when the fit hits the shan.

  167. michael reynolds says:

    John Personna:

    LOL. It is almost too sad to laugh about, but you want school teachers and nurses to go though combat training now, and to keep current with that.

    Dude.

    This is the end game of the gun nut fantasy.

    Rafer Janders:

    I love these logical twists and turns, frantically pivoting from “life is dangerous! Arm the teachers!” to “oh, well, life isn’t that dangerous, most cops never even pull their weapons out of the holster, you can’t expect cops to know how to handle guns as well as teachers would”…..

    Exactly. It’s very hard to construct a rational argument in support of absurd adolescent fantasies and masturbatory fetishes.

  168. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s very hard to construct a rational argument in support of absurd adolescent fantasies and masturbatory fetishes.

    Oh, I don’t know. I’ve had some success persuading my girlfriend.

  169. Rafer Janders says:

    Hmm, a modest proposal: since the police are such poor shots and can’t be expected to perform well in high-stress and unexpected attacks, while apparently there’s a lot of faith that kindergarten teachers will do a lot better, why don’t we just switch? We should assign the cops to teach kindergarten, and the teachers to patrol the streets.

    Everyone’s a winner!

  170. Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail says:

    @Rafer Janders: Hmm, a modest proposal: since the police are such poor shots and can’t be expected to perform well in high-stress and unexpected attacks, while apparently there’s a lot of faith that kindergarten teachers will do a lot better, why don’t we just switch? We should assign the cops to teach kindergarten, and the teachers to patrol the streets.

    It’s been done.

  171. Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail says:

    Let me see if I have this right:

    Situation: Nearly all mass shootings of the past 30-odd years have taken place in “gun-free zones.”

    Liberal solution: more gun-free zones!

    Situation: Most spree shooters have used illegally-obtained guns. (The Columbine shooters and the Newtown shooter stole their guns from relatives, for example, and the Virginia Tech shooter should have shown up on the background check as prohibited.)

    Liberal solution: more gun control laws!

    I bet during those 20 minutes in the Newtown school, people were so glad that only the gunman was the only one armed.

  172. Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail says:

    Hey, here’s a solution that the Obama administration should support. Let’s collect all the guns in the US and give them to Mexican drug cartels!

  173. wr says:

    @Rafer Janders: “Again to my point that it doesn’t matter how good a shot you are, this reminded me of a Gene Hackman quote from Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven”:”

    With due respect to Hackman, who delivered the line, and Eastwood, who directed the delivery, the line was written by David Peoples.

  174. Rafer Janders says:

    @wr:

    Absolutely right, and a good point. The writer’s due credit is often stolen.

  175. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail: It took you this many days to come up with the moron “gun-free zone” argument? I know you’re slow, but when the mouth-breathers at Hot Air can come up with an idiot scenario like this 72 hours before you, it’s time to turn in your troll card.

  176. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian Who Has No Pony Tail

    Perhaps you could grow a pony tail, and then trade it for a brain.

  177. matt says:

    @mattb: That exists and is called tactical shooting. There’s a whole field of recreational shooting which involves realistic based shooting (clearing houses while stressed etc). it’s been growing in popularity for years.

  178. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: I’ve been slamming the “gun free zones” idiocy for years. The problem here was, there was such a cornucopia of stupid, I didn’t get around to mentioning it until now.

    And if you’ve had that much advance notice, care to rebut it?

    I saw a list of mass shootings where they were broken down to “killer was only one armed” vs. “others were armed as well as killer.” The body counts in the former cases were significantly higher than in the latter.

    Let’s take the Tuscon case as an example. It was in a place where guns were not banned. (A unique case for mass shootings in the last 20-odd years.) One of the first people to come to the scene was a man with a legally concealed gun who was in a nearby store. He ran to the scene, evaluated the situation, and decided that it would NOT be helpful for him to draw and use his own gun. Instead, he joined in those who physically took down the shooter.

    Or, how about the New Life Church shootings in Colorado? A member of the church — a retired cop, I think — volunteered to be part of an armed security team of parishioners. She took down the gunman before he could kill more.

    Then there’s the recent Clackamas Town Center shooting. A guy with a concealed weapon drew and confronted the gunman, forcing him to stop shooting and duck for cover.

    And the Appalachian Law School shooting. Two students (who happened to be off-duty officers) retrieved their weapons from their vehicles (they were legally forbidden from carrying them) and stopped that shooter.

    On the other hand, law-abiding gun owners were forbidden from protecting themselves and others at Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Newtown. I wonder if anyone tried to hide behind the “gun-free zone” signs.

  179. mannning says:

    In high dudgeon the libs holler against arming a few teachers in a school, teachers that accept the responsibility, accept the training, and demonstrate their ability to shoot in a pressure situation by way of numerous courses around the nation that teach with realistic shooting environments and popup targets.

    But, who has offered a better solution that answers the need for a speedy solution, instead of arguing for a culture shift or a psychiatrist in every school, or a permanent police presence? No one! Guess who the first to be shot would be? Your shiny-badged policeman as he struts around looking important–and soon dead, and the next would be the shrink, followed by anyone in line of sight. So you want two policemen just in case? You lose both of them!

    As I read through these comments I find a lot of pooh pooh words, but no constructive alternatives that would quickly confer more safety to the children and the faculty. Some real certified idiots want to allow the first ten minutes or so of an attack to be on unarmed teachers and the children, and they play probability games to deny the reality of such attacks, now four or five with significant loss of life. It turns out that quite a few school systems do have armed teachers right now, according the ABC’s newscast last night, actually a startling number of over 25% to 65% in some areas. One bright comment was that there would be crazy teachers that would pose a serious risk and should not be armed. What are your odds there after screening and training? Rather low, or they shouldn’t be in the school system in the first place.

    Regarding semiautomatic weapons and high capacity clips, etc, it is rather easy to modify them for full auto, and the number of 30 round clips at just one gun show today is in the hundreds fitting AR-15’s, AK-47”s, Mac-10’s, UZI’s or what have you.

    So where are the better solutions? How do you protect the people in schools right now?

  180. mattb says:

    @matt:

    That exists and is called tactical shooting. There’s a whole field of recreational shooting which involves realistic based shooting (clearing houses while stressed etc). it’s been growing in popularity for years.

    I’m well aware of tactical shooting. I know a few people who run a local business involved in it – https://www.allstartactical.com/training.

    From what I’ve seen of tactical shooting based on You Tube clips some of it is great and some of it seem “eh.” Pretty much the same spread as in most martial arts.

    That said, I think that’s exactly the type of training that anyone with a concealed weapons license should be doing. And, frankly, that a condensed version of it, along with a legitimate pass/fail test, should be required to get a concealed weapons permit.

  181. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Get your facts straight…

    One of the first people to come to the scene was a man with a legally concealed gun who was in a nearby store. He ran to the scene, evaluated the situation, and decided that it would NOT be helpful for him to draw and use his own gun. Instead, he joined in those who physically took down the shooter.

    The person you are referring to, Joseph Zumudio arrived on the scene AFTER the shooting had stopped (and Loughner had already been tackled). While he did say that having the gun gave him confidence to move towards the shooting, by the time he got there other people were already subduing Loughner.

    Oh, and for the record, Zumudio is lucky that he followed procedure, as, by a number of accounts, he misinterpreted the situation and initially went after the wrong person:

    Zamudio saw a young man squirming on the ground and an older man standing above him, waving a gun.

    Zamudio, 24, had his finger on the trigger and seconds to decide.

    He lifted his finger from the trigger and ran toward the struggling men.

    As he grabbed the older man’s wrist to wrestle the gun away, bystanders yelled that he had the wrong man — it was the man on the ground who they said had attacked them and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). The gun the older man was holding had been wrestled away from the shooter. Police later identified 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner as the suspect.

    “I kind of assumed he was the shooter,” said Zamudio in an interview with MSNBC. Then, “everyone said, ‘no, no — it’s this guy,’” said Zamudio.

    “I could have very easily done the wrong thing and hurt a lot more people,” said Zamudio, who helped subdue the suspect until authorities arrived.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/14/nation/la-na-zamudio-shooting-20110115

    Also, about the following:

    Then there’s the recent Clackamas Town Center shooting. A guy with a concealed weapon drew and confronted the gunman, forcing him to stop shooting and duck for cover.

    Again, reality is a lot more complex. First, we only have Meli’s word so far that the gunman saw him, let alone that he forced him to duck and cover, or (as some claim) commit suicide. Note that even Eugene Volokh is skeptical of this sort of correlation.

    More importantly, everyone on hand should be VERY thankful that Meli apparently had training, otherwise things could have been bad:

    “I knew I had to process, ‘OK, I see him but who is behind him,’ you know?” Meli said. “If I fire and miss, I could hit someone in the back I don’t even know is there — because when a bullet goes, it doesn’t care who it hits or what it hits. It’s just going to go until it stops.”

    He said his extensive firearms training kicked into gear instantly. Without it, Meli alleges, he may have been quick to shoot, potentially injuring an innocent bystander.

    Meli explained another reason he did not take the shot: The firepower of the AR-15 in Roberts’ hands. His .40-caliber 16-magazine round against the 30-magazine round of Roberts’ high-powered rifle.
    [MB: emphasis mine]
    source: http://www.koinlocal6.com/mostpopular/story/Armed-man-faced-Clackamas-gunman-did-not-shoot/VWkeHrBOfk-Wu7OcAH0RqQ.cspx

    Two points here. First, note that he talks about the importance of his *extensive training* — again this was someone committed to spending the time to learn how to shoot and evaluate a situation. Even he notes that someone with less training might have opened fire and hit people in the background (a point that a number of us have raised about all the people talking about firing on a gunman in the midst of people running everywhere).

    Other interesting point… note that he immediately moved because he realized he was outgunned in terms of both weapon type AND weapon capacity. Bet he wished the gunman didn’t have a 30 round magazine…

    And finally:

    And the Appalachian Law School shooting. Two students (who happened to be off-duty officers) retrieved their weapons from their vehicles (they were legally forbidden from carrying them) and stopped that shooter.

    Again, you are playing lose with the facts. The shooter had already stopped firing and had set his gun down by the time the two students (only one of whom had a gun) had returned to the scene. And, btw, the one who tackled the shooter — he wasn’t the one with the gun.
    Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,43254,00.html

    What should be learned from this?
    In each of the cases, people only acted AFTER the gunman stopped shooting (either to reload, clear a jam, or had just stopped shooting all together). And in each case, the people who initially tackled the gunmen were unarmed.

    In one of the cases, if the person had shot, he would have shot the wrong person based on what he thought he was seeing. In another case he couldn’t take the shot because bystanders might have been hit and he had to immediately go back under cover because he was out gunned.

    Most importantly, this is why people who want to conceal carry need to continually train. So that they make the right call under pressure versus the type of yahoo’s who can get a CCW permit by filling out a form and taking a one hour classroom session (I’m looking at you Florida).

  182. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mattb: So… you’re agreeing that in each and every case cited, the legal gun owners present made the RIGHT decisions at all times? That not one of them made a wrong decision and made the situation worse?

    Thanks for the backup.

  183. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    And I’m sure you also agree that in three of those stories, the gun was *not* involved in stopping the mass shooting. So clearly guns stop mass shootings.

    And that in two of those shootings, it turned out that using a gun would have been more dangerous.

    Please explain to me how more people with guns making spit second decisions would have made the mass shooting situations safer?

  184. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Two other points…
    First in three of your examples, the “hero” was only able to intervene when the gun either needed to be reloaded, ran out of ammo, or jammed. And in one of the cases the responder immediately had to return to cover because he felt he was outgunned by the larger capacity of the shooter’s weapon. All of that makes strong arguments for limits on magazine size in order to enable more openings for heroes.

    Also, in three of your cases, the person who either intervened or took down the shooter was either a security guard, ex-military, or ex-LEO. See a pattern here? None of these were just “average citizens” in terms of prior training. In fact, one of the people who tackled Loebner before the bystander with a gun reached the scene was also ex military.

    Common denominator: training.

    Compare this against a number of the “stand your ground” idiots in Florida where “breathing” is more or less the only requirement for getting a CCW permit.

  185. anjin-san says:

    @ mattb

    So, once again, Jenos is wrong both in his facts and in his read on the situation(s). I know I am shocked. The scary thing is that he seems like the type who thinks carrying a gun would provide him with a dose of manhood that nature did not equip him with.

  186. mannning says:

    Apparently, there is no one that has a rapid solution to the protection of K-12 students from mass murderers, except those who believe that arming a few school officials is the way to go. It is certain that the banning of various kinds of weapons and their magazines is NOT a rapid solution. It is a long-term solution to partial access, and it assumes that all owners and sellers will comply instantly, which is simply not the case. Solving the mental part of the problem is also a long term solution, and it must be implemented in every state, city, and county in the nation, which is a slow process. They should be implemented, but in the interim, arm the teachers or administrators.

    We are left with the arming of several teachers or administrators that are willing to accept the challenges, the training and the background checks that would be required. This could be in place fairly rapidly, as it has been done in many schools already.

    It takes gunners to stop a gunner, particularly if you are physically more than 10 or 15 paces away from the shooter, and no one else is capable of such a rush, which means that rushing the shooter is almost sure death. On the other hand, the mere idea that a shooter would face armed opposition might deter the shooter from starting the encounter.

    It is too bad that there are so many tender-minded and blind people that refuse to accept the real facts of the situation, and have so little faith in the teaching and administrative corps of the nation because they believe teachers would be such a liability. You should check your own schools for their use of guns, since so many are using guns now, but may be keeping quiet about it.

  187. mattb says:

    @anjin-san:

    The scary thing is that he seems like the type who thinks carrying a gun would provide him with a dose of manhood that nature did not equip him with.

    Actually, it’s worse. Like Eric F, he’s one of the folks who complain about “sheeple” without taking the personal responsibility to arm and train himself. And I’m sure he has a “good reason” for this, just like Eric does.

    He’s not even a wannabe sheep dog, he’s a wannabe, wannabe sheep dog.

    I don’t own a gun — but I have trained with them so I can at least understand them. I do spend multiple hours a week training armed and unarmed contemporary martial arts. In part I do it because I love it. But I also do it so that I am prepared if a general self defense situation comes up (because I’m not, by nature, a “warrior”), and so, when I write about this stuff, I know what I say works (because I’ve tried it against resisting individuals).

  188. mannning says:

    The other problem that this august body might be able to solve is the sniper problem. The shooter places himself in a position some 100 yards or so away from the school or other multiple target area, and proceeds to pick off anyone outside, or even inside the school or building at a window. He would be using a rifle and scope, and would probably be a good shot to begin with.

    Rapid dispersal to cover is perhaps the only available solution, but that requires some training of children and teachers to identify the direction of fire and to pick the best cover and direction to it. Unimaginable? Yes, but…if inside the school is an armed place, this would be the next possible mode of attack, and it has been done before.

  189. mattb says:

    @mannning:

    Apparently, there is no one that has a rapid solution to the protection of K-12 students from mass murderers, except those who believe that arming a few school officials is the way to go. It is certain that the banning of various kinds of weapons and their magazines is NOT a rapid solution.

    This gets to two points I’ve been trying to make for a while. Working backwards:

    1. Trying to find a “quick fix” for mass shooting is a bad idea. Not because we should tolerate mass shootings, but because, while they cause a moral panic, they are still EXCEEDINGLY RARE. The fact is one school in the entirety of the US was attacked. Not every school.

    Militarizing teachers in response to this is like suggesting that everyone should wear a parachute while flying because there was a plane crash somewhere. It’s a nonsensical response based on irrational fear.

    2. If we look beyond “fix it now” there is an opportunity to implement sensible regulation which will have effects in the long term. Again, look at this chart on car deaths versus gun deaths. The fact is that gun deaths haven’t risen as much as car deaths have greatly fallen. And part of the reason that car deaths have fallen has to do with mandatory safety standards that were passed in the 80’s and 90’s. It took a while for them to have an effect, but LOOK AT THE EFFECT.

    Even if magazine restrictions are passed with a grandfather provision (and to be clear, I think that an effective law needs to eliminate grandfathering of existing high capacity magazines) and it takes a decade for the effects to be fully felt, when that decade passes we will most likely be in a better situation. The pragmatist in me is willing to settle for a more effective, but slower acting (within reason) change.

  190. mattb says:

    @mannning:

    The other problem that this august body might be able to solve is the sniper problem.

    Why should we, with limited resources, even worry about this? I mean the type of sniper scenario you lay out is even less common than mass shootings.

    It’s scary how much imagination people can put into possible, but not particularly probable acts of violence.

    Here are some other ones we should try and solve:
    – What about bear attacks in a school?
    – What about shark attacks?
    – What about bear carrying shark attacks?
    – What about bear carrying sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads sniping people to make way for a mass shooting?

  191. anjin-san says:

    Militarizing teachers in response to this

    We’ve already militarized police forces, and the results have been detrimental to society as a whole. Do we really want to go down the same road in our schools?

  192. Rob in CT says:

    I still love all the righties clamouring to arm union thugs incompetants who can’t manage to teach kids anything properly teachers.

    It’s a bad idea.

    A highly-trained security guard who has to keep up on training, constantly… ok, sure. At every school?

    This is why the conversation tends to shift pretty quickly away from the school shootings (which, while tragic, are rare events) to the overall level of violence in society and the enabling role easy access to guns (and certain types of guns/ammo) plays in that. That’s what policy should tackle. Policy can do very little about Newtown without it being a massive overreaction (ala some of our responses to 9/11).

  193. Rob in CT says:

    Test.

  194. mannning says:

    @mattb:

    What, pray tell, is the tolerance limit for children’s and adults deaths per year? By your slow solutionj, it appears to be 20 children and 6 adults per year, or maybe just the average over tha last 5 years. That might be on the order of only 5 or 6 children and 1 or 2 adults per year. If you are willing to accept this sort of average death total (seemingly “RARE”) then we will have to wait for the several very slow solutions to take effect. Apparently a number of school systems have accepted the idea of arming a few of the staff for some time now, so it is coming to be accepted practice. Given that most of the “solutions” take perhaps 5 to 10 years to implement, we are accepting in advance 25 to 30 children’s deaths and 5 to 20 adult deaths before everything calms down–if it ever does!

    Yet, you are willing to accept this probable or possible level of deaths? Between 25% and 65% of the 28,000 schools in the nation already employ armed staff, so the question is, are they wrong to do so? Or are they stepping up to the immediate problem of protection, and more should follow in their steps and their experiences and advice?

  195. wr says:

    @mannning: How many hours of the school day do you propose to give over to training kids to run from sniper fire? Which subjects should we stop teaching so that the time can be spent learning how to shoot bad guys?

  196. mannning says:

    @wr:

    You know, I was a 5th grader when WWII broke out. Our school, Oyster, which was near the Shorham Hotel, in DC, was forced to have one hour air raid drills twice a week for about three weeks in a row, and then about once a month for the year. No one minded because we had just enough understanding of the possible threat that it was a necessary evil. Of course, no bombing ever occurred, but you can bet that the DC school system had the students prepared, just in case.

    That is probably enough “training time” for most purposes, with occasional reinforcements. Sometimes I wonder why libs choose to take the wrong side of just about everything? Teachers selected for being armed should supply their own weapons and do their training on their own time, but with training costs paid for. You could read your post as training the children how to kill bad guys, but even you aren’t that stupid. I guess.

  197. mannning says:

    If my memory serves me the University of Texas Bell Tower sniper killed 32 or more people during about an hour and a half period. This was around 1966. I don’t recall how many he wounded that survived. This merely illustrates that there have been sniper attacks in the past–rare though they have been. But, it is possible that such events may occur more often given that schools become difficult to attack inside.

    I love your whimzy, mattb, but I searched Google and could not find a singe one of your suggested incidents, whereas I do have one, at least! 🙂

  198. mannning says:

    Go to Google and enter Sniper events, and you will find quite a number of incidents per year.
    Several single killings at schools, the Texas one, and the beltway snipers that killed 10 or so.
    It is a lot more prevelant than I thought, just not all in schools.

  199. mannning says:

    The state of Virginia employs School Resource Officers in 513 out of 1,980 schools, where 25% are in elementary schools and 80% are in middle and high schools. An SRO is a certified local law enforcement Officer that is posted in public schools. McDonnell and Cuccinelli, Governor and AG respectively, are proposing to study arming in addition one or more school personnel and affording SRO’s in every school, all of whom are properly trained in the use of firearms. (paraphrased from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12-20-12)

    Apparently, the Governor and the AG have similar thoughts to mine about having only one armed person in the schools, that they are a prime target to hit first, so having a backup would increase the odds in favor of defending the students and the faculty during the time before police can arrive. The Virginia Tech debacle is still very much on everyone’s minds here in Richmond, in addition to the SH and other school attacks.

    The point is taken that most teachers are not necessarily the best choice for being armed, but that there may well be one or more per school that are indeed qualified and willing to be trained in the use of firearms, and to assume the responsibility in the school. Should a school not have any faculty that are qualified and willing, they are studying the addition of SRO’s to ensure two armed and qualified persons in each school.

    Cuccinelli is also leading an effort to explore the mental health issue and what can be done in the state to minimize the possibility of a shooting by a mentally ill person, such as happened in the VT shooting. They are covering the ground quite well, if their plans are carried out sooner rather than later.

  200. mattb says:

    An individual district has every right to invest their resources in a way that makes sense for their environment. And I have no problem with schools in certain areas hiring security guards.

    But the idea that every school needs them — that every school is a potential target — and that cash strapped districts should divert funds to security where there is no reasonable notion of a threat is stupid. Especially at a time when tax payers are already saying that they don’t want to fund existing school budgets.

    The decisions should be reality based and taking acceptable risks. And mass shootings, sniper attacks, etc are not a realistic problem for most districts.

  201. mattb says:

    Also, if you are that serious about your SO plan (i.e. a security guard in every school), I would argue that the way to fund it is through a mandatory tax on all gun and ammunition sales rather than making it a part of a district’s standard budget.

  202. mannning says:

    @mattb:

    That gun and ammo tax is a good idea, but you are missing a huge point about SRO’s. In today’s school world, especially in city schools, there are significant tensions and even fights and other unruly behaviors that an SRO is tasked to break up or take other actions as needed. that dope and other major distractions exist in schools is the norm not the exception in many, but not all, schools. This offloads some of the pre-disciplinary actions from the teachers, and is very welcomed by the teachers themselves. That the SRO can also be a defender against shooters is a sometime added role, not the sole role of an SRO, so he earns his keep most of the time in this mode and not the defender role.

  203. mannning says:

    @mannning:

    I forgot to add that in quite a few schools no SRO appears to be needed because of the rather placid nature of the student body and the strong leadership of both teachers and parents. But you never really know…

  204. mannning says:

    @mannning:

    Oh dear, I didn’t react against your implication that it is MY plan that is being studied in VA.
    It is the Govenor’s plan, and I support the approach he is taking.

  205. Rick DeMent says:

    The fact is that the 2nd amendment was put there in order to replace a standing army. Since we now have a standing army, the entire reason for having the 2nd amendment has been negated. The 2nd is now every bit the relic of a by-gone era as the 3rd. The idea of the 2nd amendment is completely and totally misunderstood by modern readers and it is the only amendment that conservatives abandon an original understanding interpretation for a textualist interpretation.

  206. mannning says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    Subsequent Supreme Court rulings have reaffirmed the right of citizens to own arms.

  207. Rick DeMent says:

    @mannning:

    Supreme court decisions in the past reaffirmed the right to own slaves. I have pointed out correctly that while the right may exist, it is limited by the same conventions that limit every other right in the Constitution. For instance we heard a lot about what limits the power of the federal government’s ability to regulate interstate trade even though no such limiting principal existes in the text of the document. No seemed to be bothered by that.

    I also pointed out correctly that the Subsequent Supreme Court rulings regarding guns were subject to an interpretation that was totally novel for those who reaffirmed it. Finally it doesn’t mean we should be satisfied with the amendment as it stands, textually I would seem that I can own cruse missiles according to the 2nd, and that just crackers. I could go on but if you miss my point now you are just being obtuse.

  208. Rick DeMent says:

    @mannning:

    Actually I fine with the 2nd as it stands as long as you also support the dissolution of the armed forces of the United States.

  209. mannning says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    You must be joking! Or else too far gone down the disarmament meme to be rational.