The Politics Of Gun Control
Based on the polls, the odds of some changes to America's gun control laws will become law. It's unlikely they'll accomplish anything, though.
President Obama and Vice-President Biden are set to unveil a package of gun control measures that apparently will include both proposed legislation and a series of Executive Orders. Some of the legislation, such as a proposed renewal of the 1994-2004 Assault Weapons Ban is most likely not going to base Congress, something that both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Members of Congress such as Loretta Sanchez have acknowledged already. Despite that, it seems fairly clear that something is likely to pass here simply given the current political climate:
A new Pew Research poll finds there are now “clear areas of agreement” on a variety of gun control proposals with 85 percent of Americans in favor of making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. In addition, 80 percent now support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns. Both measures have broad support across party lines.
A new Washington Post–ABC News poll confirms these findings and also shows 58 percent of Americans support passing a new assault weapons ban.
Finally, a new National Journal poll finds the coalition that swept President Obama into a second term — young people, minorities and college-educated women — all back new gun control measures.
The consensus for new gun curbs, however, does break down in several areas. While there is overwhelming support for creating a new federal database to track gun sales, it’s favored mainly by Democrats and independents. Similar partisan divides exist on banning high capacity ammunition clips or selling ammunition online.
But the overwhelming conclusion of this new polling data is that Americans want new gun controls.
It’s worth noting, though, that while there seems to be some consensus on at least some gun control measures, the American public still doesn’t see it as a very important issue:
PRINCETON, NJ — Americans’ concerns about the federal budget deficit and government dysfunction rose high enough in January to knock unemployment out of the top two slots on Gallup’s “most important problem” list for the first time since 2009.
These results are based on a Jan. 7-10 Gallup poll, conducted just after Washington lawmakers narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff by virtue of a resolution that in part postponed the deadline for legislated sequestration of spending until March 1. Additionally, a debt ceiling deadline looms within the next two months.
The poll finds 20% of Americans mentioning the federal budget deficit as the top problem, compared with 18% mentioning dissatisfaction with some aspect of government or government leaders, and 16% naming jobs or unemployment.
This distribution of open-ended responses to the “most important problem” question underscores a general shift from the dominance of concerns about the economy and unemployment to an increasing focus on problems more directly associated with government. The economy and unemployment had ranked as the top two problems each month since December 2009.
Now, the “dissatisfaction with government” percentage is as high as it has been since the Watergate days of 1974, although the precise ways in which these open-ended questions have been coded has changed somewhat during that time. The percentage mentioning the deficit as the top problem is as high as it has been since 1996.
The percentage of Americans mentioning unemployment as the top problem, on the other hand, is the lowest since December 2009. As recently as September 2011, 39% mentioned it
Four percent of Americans name issues relating to guns and gun control as the nation’s top problem, the same as in last month’s survey, which came in the immediate aftermath of the mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Four percent also mention taxes this month, the highest in over two years.
In other words, while there does seem to be majority, or at least strong plurality, support for some gun control measures, this clearly is not an issue that most Americans consider very important. This suggests that it will be difficult for gun control proponents to keep momentum up for very long, especially considering the fact that Congress will need to deal with issues like the debt ceiling, sequestration, and the remainder of the budget for Fiscal Year 2013, not to mention putting together a budget for Fiscal Year 2014. Then there are the various proposals for immigration reform and other matters that other legislators will be putting before the House and Senate. The sheer momentum of all this other work, combined with the lobbying power of the NRA and similar organizations and the passage of time, is likely to take much of the wind out of the sales of the gun control movement.
At the most, I’d suspect that those things most likely to pass Congress, and even then likely only by the slimmest of margins, would be things such as limitations on high capacity magazines, widening of mandatory background checks, and further expansion of those background checks to include more people who have been diagnosed as dangerously mentally ill. None of this is to say that any of these measures are either wise or proper, of course. It strikes me, for example, that the ban an magazines, much like the Assault Weapons Ban that was in place for ten years, is more symbolic than anything else, and will do little to actually stop people from using guns illegally. Expanding the background checks to include mental illness sounds like a good idea at first, but it ignores the significant civil liberties issues implicated when the state interferes in the relationship between a patient and their therapist. Additionally, the more you pass laws requiring therapists to disclose what their patients tell them to the state the less likely people who need help are going to be to seek it out. In the end, I’m not sure any of these measures will actually accomplish anything.
Nonetheless, given the political winds at the moment, it seems pretty clear that something will pass, and I suppose that will allow the President and everyone on Capitol Hill to pretend that they’ve actually accomplished something.
Here’s one measure that is guaranteed not to accomplish anything: Doing nothing.
I guess what I’m saying is that it appears that civil liberties, not efficacy ,is your primary concern. Civil liberties are important….but in this case, there is a balance.
If we’re talking about protecting a nutbag’s liberty to describe his kill fantasies to his therapist versus the general public’s liberty to go to the movies without getting shot up……don’t be surprised if the nutbag pulls the short straw.
Heh, do you hear that clanking sound? That is the sound of goalposts moving.
First, Doug said that gun safety legislation would not pass because a majority of people opposed gun safety laws, even after Sandy Hook. The public revulsion at Sandy Hook was just a passing fad, and would end quickly , with no legislation passed.
Now, that polls show that there are big majorities in favor of new gun safety laws, including even a bare majority in favor of an assault weapon ban renewal, he now says, , ” Well, it looks like gun safety laws will pass, even though the public isn’t interested in gun safety laws. And anyway, these laws are doomed to failure. Why, because that’s how I feel.”
OK. If these laws do successfully reduce gun violence and the incidence of mass shootings, where will Doug move the goalposts next?
I believe if you read Doug’s post, you’ll see he rightly deduced that if talking to a therapist can get you banned from purchasing a firearm, those most in need of a therapist will seek help from a mental health professional.
in any case, unless the mental health determination is submitted to a court and challengeable, I suspect it would fall due to due process. That doesn’t mean, a therapist couldn’t submit the determination that someone should be restricted from firearm purchase to a judge, who can issue a preliminary injunction, then hold a hearing in a couple weeks for due process. But then that is possible now, the problem is, the injunctions and hearing determinations are making it into the NICS database searches.
Sorry, my use of negatives seems to have been impaired in that comment. But the intent should be deducible from the context.
Note that the NRA solution is to lock up those who are mentally ill, so their approach is much more destructive of civil rights. IOW, let’s massive violate the rights of the mentally ill, so that gun owners can continue to buy all the guns they want .
One place to watch is New York state, which just pushed through some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. I can tell you that NYS serves as a great proxy for the country considering that the state can be generally divided into the pro-gun regulation NYC/LI/Westchester area and the anti-regulation Central/Northern/Western regions. Needless to say there’s a lot of frustration coming from my end of the state.
Of the three options that Doug laid out, I think that the magazine ban and widening background checks (at least to include private sales at gun shows) have the most chance of actually happening. The mental health thing seems all but impossible to do anything with in the short term due to HIPA.
And yes, I have to agree with Doug on this last point. If the goal is to reduce gun violence across the board in the US, anything that will be accomplished in the relatively small window of attention we currently have is largely going to be symbolic.
BTW — fun fact — it’s worth reminding that prior to Sandy Hook, the NRA was arguing against onerous restrictions preventing people with a history of mental illness from owning guns:
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation): Indeed feel good legislature is the only thing you can expect at this point from these people. Then when those feel good measures inevitably fail they’ll demand more.
@Herb: “Doing nothing” as you said has resulted in the lowest crime rate we’ve seen in decades.
Wrong. There are a number of interesting theories on this, ranging from the legalization of abortion, to the elimination of lead in gasoline, to better policing and more incarceration, none of which constitute “doing nothing.”
The problem has lessened, but the fact that things are not as dire as they once were is not an argument for surrendering on the matter. There are still an awful lot of people murdered, assaulted and raped. And a large number of those involve guns.
I don’t know what your acceptable level of murder or rape might be, but mine is zero.
Great point, but don’t expect any thoughtful reaction.
There have probably been close to 30 threads and literally thousands of comments on OTB about guns since Sandy Hook, but to my knowledge not a single person opposed to new gun regulations has made any attempt to balance the interests between those opposed to new laws and those who support them. Of course, they won’t go anywhere near that question because they’ll end up looking like dumb, heartless teenage boys when they argue that increased public safety is outweighed by someone’s right to all manner of firearms.
In Matt’s defense, he was talking about *doing nothing* in terms of gun control — not other social policy.
My issue with the current tact of regulation is that — in terms of decreasing gun crime — it’s, for the most part, focused on the wrong subject (i.e. mass shootings and long gun issues). Don’t get me wrong, I think semi-automatic, detachable magazine “assault weapons” should be more regulated (though not necessarily banned). But the real issue for decreasing gun violence has to do with hand guns.
Beyond reducing the size of future handgun magazines and regulating private sales at gun shows, there’s little chance any legislation here will really touch hand guns at all. Again that isn’t to say that those two things won’t help. I’m saying that I doubt they will have much of a noticeable effect on actual crime stats.
I know it is hard to believe but, correlation does not equal causation, Matt.
In fact, a considerable amount of evidence points to a reduction of lead in the environment for the reduction of crime.
Serious question — what would that “balancing of interests” look like to you?
Oddly, you seem to believe that demanding more would not be the correct response. If we have a societal problem, one of the appropriate responses is to enact legislation that would combat that problem. If the legislation that is initially enacted is ineffective at combating the problem, then of course we should demand additional, effective legislation.
However, since you and Doug seem very worried about the enactment of ineffective legislation, I look forward to your posts supporting the kind of strong legislation that would be effective.
@stonetools: “OK. If these laws do successfully reduce gun violence and the incidence of mass shootings, where will Doug move the goalposts next?”
OK. When these laws do not successfully reduce gun violence and the incidence of mass shootings,will you stop pretending you know anymore than Doug does?
Here is a good place to start: allowing the ATF to use computers to track guns used in crimes (currently prohibited by law)
Allow the CDC to do studies on gun violence (currently prohibited by law)
The Senate could take action on Obama’s nominee to head the ATF (been vacant for 6 years)
Every one on the right likes to say that gun regulation won’t work. How do they know that? They say banning 30 round clips won’t work. Doug said somebody will just set up shop producing them. Really? Like a gunsmith has set up shop converting assault weapons to fully auto? For the record, I am sure that someone… somewhere…. has. Ahhh but finding him, that is the first nut to crack. coming up with the money to get him to do it…. that is the 2nd nut. The 3rd nut…. is the toughest of all. Convincing him that when the feds catch you with the weapon, and you are looking at 10 yrs of Federal time, that you won’t roll over on him so you can get 2 yrs. Good luck.
A buddy of mine (one of the gun rights absolutists) and I were discussing Sandy Hook a few days after. I said something in favor of banning 30 round clips. He said it doesn’t take him very long to swap clips.
I said, “You know when they got Jared Loughner?”
He shook his head, “No.”
“When he had to change clips.” I finished.
Then I looked at him and said, “I’m just tired of making it so damn easy for these whackjobs.”
Sure, as soon as Doug stops pretending he does.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation): Serious question — what would that “balancing of interests” look like to you?
I wrote a longer response to this kind of question on another OTB thread that I’ll try to find and re-post here, but in a nutshell I think all of the following safety enhancements outweigh the burdens they would impose on gun ownership:
1. Mandatory registration of all firearms.
2. Mandatory, mental/psych exams and safety and gun use training for all gun owners w/ periodic (ex. every 2 years) re-exams and training certifications.
3. Mandatory training on anger/conflict management w/ periodic renewals.
4. Registration of all ammo sales and no ammo sales for unregistered guns or to un-permitted owners or for guns owned by someone other than the ammo buyer.
5. Periodic home inspections to ensure guns are safely stored.
6. Mandatory jail time for failure to comply with any of the above.
7. Mandatory jail time for brandishing a gun or using a gun during a crime.
8. Funding for public service announcements discouraging gun ownership and use.
9. Substantially higher taxes on guns and ammo.
10. Legislation that increasingly diminishes gun lethality.
Basically, guns should become less pervasive and less lethal, and the people who own them should be model citizens who wouldn’t dream of killing a fly. That’s the long-range goal and there’s no single approach that will get us there, but if we ever do get there, then this will be a much safer society and the benefits of that increased safety will greatly outweigh the burdens imposed on those who oppose these proposals.
@michael reynolds: Wrong? The FBI crime database wants to have a word with you.
If the other poster wants to pretend we’re “doing nothing” then let him but reality does not agree with him.
@Spartacus: You’re damned right I’m against demanding more feel good measures that are completely ineffective…
I’ve already made several extremely large posts highlighting the proven effective methods that I would engage in for crime reduction. Yes CRIME REDUCTION. Focusing on the guns isn’t going to solve the underlying problem that this country is an overly violent country and that violence is being fed in a large part by the drug war.
We could completely ban guns today and tomorrow an unacceptably large number of people would still be killed.
That really didn’t answer my question — especially since your version of balance seems to be largely about looking for concessions or policy suggestions. If you actually parse the other Matt’s posts he has made some.
But since you asked me, here would be my blue sky ideas:
1. Shift from state-by-state regulation of guns and licensing to federal licensing.
The benefit would be that this would (in theory) simply gun laws (which tend to layer up). The plus for gun owners is that it would mean that once you get a license o concealed carry permit, it’s good anywhere in the US,
2. In terms of a national licensing system, there should be five options/levels (ect):
1. Basic Long Guns & Shotguns (including fixed magazine semi-automatics) – Background check, no license is required. This allows hunters and sport shooters other to continue to be able to purchase as they can today.
2. Semi Automatic Long Guns w/Detachable Magazines and other “Assault Weapons” accoutrements — Require a license* plus background check. To get the licenses you need to take a pass a handling and gun safety course. The course needs to be for at least a few hours. The course needs to be pass/fail, and not everyone should be able to pass.
3. Hand gun — Require a license plus background check. Same idea as above.
* – Note that these could either be two separate licenses or one combined long gun/hand gun license.
4. Concealed Carry — Separate license. Requires a higher degree of testing. And to keep this one current, individuals need to pass a handling test every five years.
5. Fully Automatic — Separate license. Ok, I realize that some people will find this crazy, but as a concession to gun owners, the government could reopen the registry for fully automatic weapons. This should only be done if the licensing requirements were significantly strict enough to make these sots of licenses few and far between.
3. Register, track, and require background checks on all gun transfers, including person to person.
Provided an easy enough infrastructure is created, this seems a no-brainer. Consider the fact that we already track things like person to person car sales or gifting.
4. Increase the penalties for failing to register guns, proxy buying, illegal possession, etc.
Ok, got to get on to other things, but those were a few thoughts.
Now, btw, for those advocating *more gun control* what are the topics you’re willing to budge on?
Oddly, you seem to believe that demanding more would not be the correct response
Because more crap that doesn’t work is a waste of resources and makes everyone less free.
@Spartacus: it’s great to see that not only do you not care about the constitution ( Periodic home inspections to ensure guns are safely stored.) or reality (Legislation that increasingly diminishes gun lethality.)….
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation): In a perfect world I would like to see your suggestions implemented. Unfortunately we live in a world where people like Michael or Spartacus could end up in a position where they are capable of abusing the registration to further their insane anti-gun beliefs.
Yes insane. Micheal believes there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to ever have a gun. Spartacus is more then willing to chop up the constitution because he doesn’t like guns.
So obviously gun owners are going to be very leery of of your suggestions. This notion is reinforced by the typical behavior of politicians. What would you have as a protection against a bureaucrat or politician having a knee-jerk reaction to use the registration for confiscation?
@matt: In Matt world: Wanting to restrict gun ownership is insane.
Owning fifty assault rifles in case the gummint gets tyrranical and you have to shoot federal employees — sane.
All I needed to know.
So, what about this:
The comments section is particularly depressing.
Many people have been lectured about how “assault weapon” is a meaningless term and does not mean “assault rifle” and how “semi-automatic” is very different from full auto. And I’ve agreed with that.
But man… this thing sure sounds like it turns a semi-auto into auto. Or very close. Doesn’t that warrant some regulation?
I just realized my post above started as a reaction that you made to the other Matt. So please skip my first paragraph as it isn’t applicable.
That said on your suggestions, let me provide feedback on a couple specific points:
1. Extending this to all guns, including fixed magazine rifles and shotguns doesn’t make sense. And it’s way too onerous, not to mention far more extreme than what other countries who currently have stricter gun control laws are doing. And on the “reality based” aspect of this, we need to keep in mind that, generally speaking, the gun violence problem has little to do with fixed magazine rifles.
2. I think a two year period for any recertification is far to short. 5 years I think is far more fair.
3. The only exam should be a handling exam, which should be freely administered. Adding multiple levels of mental health testing on that is getting into the level of putting far too much of a financial burden on the individual. Additionally, as I suggest above, the exam should be based on the category of weapon license one is pursuing.
This is an absurd requirement. Or, everyone should be required to do this — not just gun owners. But this has absolutely no good basis in reality and only serves as putting another cost requirement on gun owners.
Again, this makes very little sense to me as a practical idea. Enforcing it would be a waste of man power and relatively speaking, limited tax payer dollars. And if they are planned inspections, I find it difficult to imagine that they’d net much (people make sure that everything is in order when the inspectors come). If they’re spot inspections, then this essentially becomes a full time job with a lot of wasted time.
Since no one has yet proposed that mere contact with a therapist should result in a ban……not sure who you’re arguing with.
Yes, yes….due process. How about a little due diligence, too? We need to get away from a “no questions asked” policy to a “what do you need that for?” policy.
I still think if someone had the balls to ask that of James Holmes or Jared Loughner, there would be at least twenty innocent people alive today.
To hear some tell it, it’s due to lower lead levels…or the prevalence of cell phones…or stricter laws. I have no pet theories of my own, but if I did I do no think I would link the crime rate to gun laws, especially if I’m interested in making them as permissive as possible.
As I said above, move away from “no questions asked” to “a lot of questions asked.” I think the 2nd amendment, as written and interpreted, leaves plenty of room to get to that place.
@wr: An assault rifle costs at least $30000 and have never been used in a crime. You need to get a grip. It’s overly obvious that you have never bothered to actually read my posts…
@Rob in CT: It’s the same as pulling the trigger very quickly so regulating those stocks is almost impossible. Compared to a true automatic there are several differences. Accuracy with a bumpfire stock is terrible in comparison to a real assault rifle and the rate of fire is lower than a true assault rifle. There’s also a risk of an out of battery ignition which would blow the rifle up in the persons face. The risk of such an explosion depends upon the rifle (FCG, basic design etc), the ammo used, and the person doing the bump firing.
I’m actually surprised it took this long for someone to make a post about bumpfire stocks..
And by the way, I totally get that the above modification is a simple one. Bottom line, however, is that the vast majority of the criminal population will not manufacture their own.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
Then I may not fully understand your question. You asked me what the balance of interests would look like to me. I interpreted that as a request to see what burdens on gun ownership I thought should be outweighed by the safety benefits of additional regulation.
Those who oppose additional regulation claim: (1) legislation will be ineffective, and (2) legislation will violate their constitutional rights. Well, I rattled off 10 legislative ideas that I strongly believe would make society safer. That, then, leaves the issue of a gun owner’s constitutional rights.
As I’m sure you know, no constitutional right is absolute. The Supreme Court has permitted all kinds of curtailments of the rights mentioned in the Constitution including the 2A. However, whenever the legislature seeks to curtail a constitutional right, the court balances the interests between the intended benefits of the law against the burdens imposed by the curtailment of the right. In answering what I thought was your question, I described the burdens I am willing to impose upon gun ownership in exchange for the safety benefits that these proposals would produce.
Despite all these gun threads on OTB, I have yet to hear any thoughtful person argue that these proposals would not increase safety. I also have yet to hear any thoughtful person argue that the burdens these proposals would impose are too great a sacrifice in order to achieve the increased safety benefits they would produce.
If you take an opposing view, I’d be happy to hear your argument.
@Rob in CT : Most criminal elements use handguns which are not effected by that stock. Those stocks tend to cost +300 so it’s much more likely that the criminal element would just dremel off the disconnector (on AK style) as they did in the past. Of course that modification has a MUCH higher chance of blowing up in your face.
If you say so, Matt.
Is there anything you think *can* be done? Aside from hoping that violent crime rates continue their fall (interestingly, if lead is a big factor in the rise/fall, that effect should end shortly. Lead was basically out of gas by 1990).
And granted, handguns are more likely to be used in crime. Fair point.
Anything on the supply side that can be done? Somehow, the criminals get the guns.
Also there are a # of laws that refute all the “gun regulation doesn’t work” arguments:
#1, the law banning automatic weapons.
#2 the close regulation of explosives.
There are others.
I want to note that the “gun laws don’t work” arguments could easily be applied to speed limits. “Speed limits don’t work because people speed anyway.” and yet no one seriously argues for the ending of speed limits, do they?
I also think anyone interested in this topic should watch all three of James Yeager’s “Pack Your Bags” videos, available on Youtube or found easily with the Google.
He goes from defiant and stupid….to defiant and slightly less stupid….to, after he lost his permit and consulted with his lawyer, fairly reasonable. His lawyer’s comments are particularly, as one of our good friends likes to say, sentient.
Semantic arguments about these weapons don’t help. Sorry.
@Rob in CT:
We need a public option with strong treatment options for mentally ill people (especially for the poor).
We as a society need to stop glorifying violence and insisting on using it to solve our problems (Iraq the drumbeat for war with Iran etc).
We need to stop glorifying everything military even when clearly we shouldn’t be.
We need to close any NICS related loopholes and provide for a free easy way for private sales to involve a NICS. That will fix the gun show loopholes that do exist.
We need for some tightening in CCW requirements with training and background checks as a minimum requirement.
We need to stop militarizing the police and focus on community outreach. Removing the stigma of snitching will increase the chances of discovering a shooting plot before it happens.
We need to look at our culture and ourselves in an honest light.
we should consider requiring gun owners to carry insurance to cover accidents with their firearms.
We should consider a national FOID card like system with required training classes. I’m worried about this bit because we cannot even get a national ID passed. There’s also the problem that such a requirement will become a manner for the government to restrict ownership solely by passing ever ridiculous fees. There’s also the unintended consequences of such a precedent.
@Rob in CT: handguns are used in more crimes by a very very far margin. Handguns are used to kill over 20x more people than rifles. Handguns are used even more for simple robberies rape and other violent acts without murder.
@OzarkHillbilly: Germany would like to have a conversation with you…
Here in Texas we went from the standard 55 mph limit to limits as high as 85 mph and yet car accident rates haven’t increased.
@Herb: Yeah how dare I point out that no assault rifle has been used in a crime…Keep your fear a coming..
So I can be crystal clear, the points of your proposals that I directly responded to (which should have been 2,3, & 5 — three for some reason didn’t copy) would most likely not significantly increase safety. And given the cost benefit analysis of implementing them, in particular 5, it’s hard for me to see how you can suggest that the minimal benefit from these would be worth the overall cost.
In other words, those types of idea (2,3,5) are largely just presenting the reverse of the argument you are attacking anti-legislation people for. You have decided that they would work and would be worth implementing and, therefore, you’re not seriously considering that they might *not* work. Or you are taking such an extreme position as to not be giving a single inch on those issues.
And ultimately, it’s difficult to see how any of those (2,3,5) would have a significant impact on the big issue — handgun violence,
@Rob in CT:
But it is still in the soil and in especially heavy amounts in cities. I highly recommend this article by Kevin Drum.
@OzarkHillbilly: Yeah my cousin in Herculaneum, Missouri has to deal with lead contamination throughout her yard and city…
Germany would like to have a conversation with you.Yeah, the Autobahns don’t have them. Everything else does.
@matt: Sorry, matt, but it is the feeblest of technicalities that declares that an AR-15 with a 30 round clip is most definitely, in no way possible, an “assault rifle.”
@Herb: It’s a simple definition that has existed for +70 years. I don’t call a tank a car and you shouldn’t either..
Just because your simpleton brain cannot comprehend the mechanisms utilized in a rifle doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to humor you.
@matt: We bow to your superior knowledge.
And still find it unconvincing.
@Herb: That’s irrelevant.
If you wish for your opinions to matter then you’ll educate yourself. Otherwise you should get used to being dismissed..
@OzarkHillbilly: In your rush to argue you have managed to miss the point. There are people against speed limits. There’s also people wanting to institute insanely low speed limits in the name of “safety”. There’s a third group that want speed limits to be set at a sane and safe level.
You’re the one making “You can’t triple-stamp a double-stamp” argument. Bottom line is this: If your argument relies on definitions, it is put in peril once those definitions are changed. And if you’re a student of history, you know definitions change all the time.
@Herb:Wow you really are that ignorant as to how guns work aren’t you?
I thought you were just playing dumb to help muddy the waters (like when they made up the term assault weapons in the late 80s) but you really don’t have a clue about the differences…
My experience is that paranoid schizophrenics don’t seek out help – they have to have some level of coercion, usually a very high one. When forced into treatment, there is a great deal of false compliance.
I ask again, what expertise do you have in mental health issues? You kind of cut and run on the previous thread.
Consider this: I know exactly what you’re talking about and still consider it a weasel argument.
It’s very possible to have insurance that will protect everyone injured by shootings and have the insurers discourage lost and stolen guns. Require manufacturers to have insurance that only gives up responsibility when another insurer takes over and so on. No need to register guns with the government. Would be much cheaper than car insurance because cars cause 2.5 Million injuries per year v. 75,000 for guns.
@Herb: Oh so you’re intentionally acting clueless..
@ Tom Harvey
I wonder if the parents of the little girl that had 11 gunshot wounds in her would be happy with an insurance settlement?
And even if so…would the right-wing extremeists go along with mandated insurance coverage? I’m trying to remember another mandate…I think they called it socialism.
Client. Definitely a client.
@OzarkHillbilly: The Autobahnen have them in certain areas as well. It’s only when you get out of the environs of a city that the Hoechstgeschwindigkeit is lifted. (Apologies if I’ve told you something you already know–I am not sure of your experience with Germany.)
Would that work here? There are some stretches in rural Montana that don’t have speed limits during the day. But there’s a big difference in how drivers are trained in the U. S. vs. Germany. As I like to say: there’s a big difference between learning to operate a motor vehicle and learning to drive. Here, we do the former. Germany does the latter. And anyone who’s driven in both places can tell you what works better…
@C. Clavin: This is a clear example of how to NOT approach a subject. Purely appealing to emotion will result in severely flawed laws. This is a large part of what is wrong with out society. We allow appeals to emotion to override logic and facts.
@Mikey: Thank you for having the patience to highlight some of the differences.
@matt: If it makes you feel any better….
We bow to your superior knowledge. And still wait for an argument that doesn’t rely on feeble technicalities. “It’s clearly not an assault rifle. It doesn’t have selective fire capability!”
Which only makes sense if you say in the same tone of voice as Harry told Lloyd “You can’t triple stamp a double stamp!”
@Herb: I don’t need you to make me feel better. I need you to stop being intentionally stupid. Start being productive and acknowledge some simple facts…
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
Just so I don’t forget, numbers 2, 3 and 5 are psych exams, gun safety/use training, conflict management and home inspections..
Psych exams are the best tool I can think of to ensure crazy people, or people who were once sane and later become crazy, don’t get guns. If you’ve got a better idea for ensuring that I would be in favor it. However, if you simply think that crazy people with guns is not a big enough problem to take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen, then we simply disagree and I suspect most other people would disagree with you as well.
Gun safety/use training is necessary to prevent all of the accidental shootings that occur each year.
I don’t know why you believe anger/conflict mgmt training would be ineffective. Most police departments and many military personnel are required to take this type of training. I don’t have any data to show its effectiveness, but the fact that police and military spend untold millions on it every year seems persuasive to me in the absence of data proving the contrary.
As for home inspections, of course, these are costly and burdensome. However, I don’t strongly recommend this at the national level. I would be just as happy seeing individual states or localities getting the authority to try this.
As for the financial costs of these proposals, I don’t know how either one of us could say it is, or is not, worth it. How do we know what it would cost or how much it would save by way of fewer shootings. Nevertheless, I would be happy to raise taxes on gun/ammo manufacturers and sellers to pay for this.
Please understand that it’s not I that’s being….as you say…intentionally stupid.
In 1800, the definition of “voter” included words like “white” and “male” and “property owner.” That, of course, has changed quite a bit over the last 200 years.
Do not think that the definition of “assault rifle” is not subject to the same type of change. All we need to do is tick the slide rule one way or the other and your “facts” will be historical curiosities.
(And by the way, when I say “We bow to your superior knowledge,” what I mean is “We sniff at your laughable hair-splitting.”)
@Herb: When was a rifle not called a rifle?
According to you we shouldn’t use words at all because someday they might change in meaning like cool or gay…
I’m going to start calling people fish because someday we might change the definition or something.
HAhaha no they aren’t. Well at least the cities I’ve lived from Illinois to Texas had no such requirements.
Even so the wealth of videos on youtube documenting police brutality and temper tantrums certainly show a lack of effectiveness…
My favorite part is this.
“I don’t have any data BUT”…. yeah who needs data we’ve got feelings and personal assumptions to go by.
@matt: Look, man, if you want to keep talking like that, you shouldn’t accuse other people of being intentionally stupid.
Go back to my previous comment that started this nonsense.
This isn’t about words changing definitions. It’s about concepts being broadened. Like in the voter analogy.
@Herb: I’m just broadening the definition some cause humans and fish are both animals right? We both consume oxygen and water so why not broaden the concepts some?
Yes, I’ve read Drum on the topic. I regularly read his blog.
The remaining lead needs to come out, and perhaps that will result in further benefits (assuming, of course, that the lead hypothesis is correct). But, having read his stuff and the stuff he’s linked to, I was under the impression that lead in gas was the Big Dog, so to speak. We’ve picked that fruit. What’s left (lead in soil in cities, and some lead paint) is likely to have less impact. Still, I’m ALL FOR spending some money on it. I actually tried googling for a charity that works on it, but came up empty.
@matt: You said it best:
@Herb: I’m making as much sense as you are.
@Rob in CT: It’s usually a localized thing because there are no national charities that we’re aware of that help with lead decontamination..
Context? I’ve made no claim that requires expertise in the mental health field.
I’m tired of this ridiculous insistence that your definition of assault rifle is the ONLY right one:
There is no definition by any official body that limits “assault rifle” to only fully automatic weapons, AFAIK. If there is, please link to it or end this nonsense to about the “correct” definition of assault rifle.
I really don’t understand why Doug prefers nothing to happen. The proposed changes are minor. They do not seriously impact hunters, recreational shooters, or home defenders.
Maybe a mentally unstable man is worried that he won’t be as well armed as the police … but he isn’t really on our list of “good guys,” is he?
I mean, sure, budgetary problems are there, but Doug almost argues that we should focus on those in order to gun owners of marginal quality.
… in order to [protect] gun owners …
@Herb: I think the issue gun rights advocates are trying to address with the whole “assault rifle” semantic thing is that they see the term being co-opted by gun control advocates as a way of making a rifle that differs little, in function, from a standard hunting rifle seem scarier by creating an implicit equation with something used by an attacking military force. They think gun control advocates are ignoring function and concentrating exclusively on form.
Personally, I think making a big deal out of a class of weapons that’s used in fewer murders than fists and feet are is a waste of time that will not result in any tangible benefit, but it seems to be the direction a lot of people want to go.
Well, obviously, things are wonderful. And that Sandy Hook incident? Well, if it happened at all, it wasn’t that bad.
Meanwhile in the real world, what’s happening?
Compared to the rest of the world, our crime rate-including our gun homicide rate- is grotesque. Its nothing to congratulate ourselves about.
If “assault rifle” is semantics, “modern sporting rifle” is more so.
It is a re-branding of something intended for armed conflict, to call it sport.
@john personna: I agree.
It’s telling that on threads with this subject matter, here and elsewhere, one of the primary talking points of anti-gun control people (for whom these threads seem to serve as some sort of bat signal, btw) is that gun control proponents are stupid because they don’t use the proper “assault/automatic/semi-automatic/magazine/cartridge” terms; i.e., they have no idea how a gun works. These are the same people, by and large, who eagerly vote for the “legitimate rape” politicians who want to control a woman’s body but who have no idea how a vagina works.
Of course, the founders didn’t mention vaginas in the Constitution, so………FREEDOM.
@ john personna
I get the sense that some of these folks have never spent any time around someone who was unstable enough to be scary…
If you read the sentence of mine that you quoted it should be obvious to you that no one is going on feelings or personal assumptions. Instead, I deferred to the judgment and expertise of well-trained, professional police departments and military personnel.
On second thought, you may want to take break for a few minutes because I don’t think your “brain” is working too well right now.
Really? You’ve claimed that mental health professionals fail to keep proper records & do necessary data entry because of their political views.
@matt: “If you wish for your opinions to matter then you’ll educate yourself. Otherwise you should get used to being dismissed..”
And if you wish for your opinions to matter, you should stop acting like a boring pedant lecturing the world on the finer points of nomenclature.
Do you really think you’ll ever convince anyone this way? Or do just love feeling superior to all those who really don’t give a damn which model of which gun has how much of this or that?
Do you think you’ve convinced me that it’s a good thing psychopaths are free to get any tools they way to murder children just because you have a more specific lexicon?
Are you this boring on every subject?
Between 1982 and 1994, the NRA and their masters the gun manufacturing industry had no problem calling the AR15 and such weapons ” assault rifles” . After 1994, the gun industry in a typical bit of marketing new-speak, started calling those weapons”modern sporting rifles” and the NRA and gun nuts followed suit like well-trained poodles. Now, the NRA and gun nuts attacks those who used the same definition the NRA formerly used as illiterate dolts who don’t understand the mysteries of proper gun nomenclature. Its nonsense to pretend “modern sporting rifle” describes this better than
What makes you sure he is right? You would need some expertise to know that – not confirmation bias. And where is the law or proposed law that would get one banned for simply talking to a therapist?
@anjin-san: “I get the sense that some of these folks have never spent any time around someone who was unstable enough to be scary… ”
I don’t know. My guess is they’ve never spent any time around anyone who wasn’t…
@stonetools: Yeah, the “modern sporting rifle” thing is a rather lame euphemism. It’s right up there with calling a used car “pre-owned.”
This is not a democracy! Who the hell gave anyone the right to democratically decide what i can do as a human being? I reject this entire construct.
I get the sense that their friends and families have, however.
Good point, but why stop there? Who says I need to consider any “society” at all? Man has always been a solitary creature, meeting only briefly to mate, before beginning again thousand mile migrations.
… or maybe that’s whales. Hmm.
why don’t people apply Gun Politics theory on to the War on Drugs
Crack by itself is just atom and molecules. Crack doesn’t kill people by itself. It’s the person who uses crack that is killing themselves.
Why should we have more drug laws and incarceration when people are just going to keep on using drugs.
Let’s just decriminalize drugs!
Friday, January 11, 2013 at 19:21
Can you produce some data on the political affiliation of mental health care professionals? Something you read before hand, not the results of a quick trip to the Googles. And don’t forget some metrics on mental health database accuracy.
Or is it that you feel you don’t actually need expertise, you just repeat tripe you read on right wing websites, declare it as fact, and call it a day?
Of course you are the guy that prattles on and on about “socialism” despite the fact that you clearly do not know what socialism is.
And all those who are now magically concerned about the horrible Mental Health System in the US probably need to stop defunding mental health budgets
Well, better not try, then. Unless something is 100% guaranteed to work out, it’s useless to attempt it. That’s the spirit that didn’t make this country great, after all.
No magic here. I have a relative with severe mental health problems. Perhaps you are referring to someone else.
No, pretty sure that’s an ex-girlfriend of mine you’re describing. [Insert your own blowhole joke here].
The anti-gun-control crowd is all about emotion. The emotion of fear. The fear of Tyranny. The fear of thugs robbing them…or raping their women. The fear of that uppity negro President acting like a monarch and taking their guns.
You anti-gun-control folks just want to dictate the emotions used to dominate the discussion.
Doug Mataconis today:
Doug Mataconis four days ago:
This was in an article written by you entitled “Gun Control Proponents Are About To Face Political Reality”
It seems like you were the person that had to face the new political reality.
And then you added this kicker to today’s post:
The lack of self-awareness demonstrated above is understandable given past behavior. But the resentment that today’s assertion implies may be a new wrinkle.
The line between analyst and advocate is thin. Your political acumen has been blunted by your faintly disguised political preferences in the past.
Are you being an advocate while pretending to be an analyst?
What was I thinking when I wrote that. That’s not new.
4% concerned about guns vs 50% concerned with the economy , and guess what Obama’s focusing on? the other thing he can’t do much about, guns. it’s all smoke and mirrors, at best he may be able to get the current laws enforced better.
maybe he didn’t remember that there’s gun rights protection included in obamacare?
Not even asking for a cite for your assertion about “4% concerned about guns vs 50% concerned with the economy,” but what makes you think that modern human institutions like the executive branch of the biggest, baddest nation-state the world has ever known can only, and should only, engage one issue at a time.
A third-rate middle manager in the most stable industry during the most stable market conditions is expected to juggle 5-10 competing priorities on the fly during the course of a day.
I thought you folks believed in American exceptionalism.
@stonetools: We agree but you don’t realize it.
An AR-15 is not used by the military and neither is my x39 SAIGA. What I find funny about this definition is that it misses out on the selective fire aspect. There are military issued rifles that are fully auto or burst only which this definition misses. So in all actuality the listed definition is incorrect and needs rectified just from that aspect.
These dictionaries don’t matter though as the United States has had a standard definition for over 70 years. I’m not ready to change that based upon an online dictionary which has issues with other definitions (dictionary.com).
I have no idea where you got the second definition from so it’s completely irrelevant.
Here is the accepted world’s standard definition.
Indeed most of these “assault weapons” are just hunting rifles that have been “tacticooled” out. It displays a shocking level of ignorance about the subject when you claim there’s no difference between a semi-auto action and a selective fire action. There’s tremendous difference between my 7.62×39 SAIGA and a real AK47 internally and to a lesser extent externally.
Once again more emotional please devoid of logic.
The second part of your post is still irrelevant as explained here.
@bk: All emotion and assumption. If you’re going to involve yourself in the discussion of a subject you could at least bother to educate yourself a bit about the subject at hand. Words matter and if you can’t tell the difference between something as simple as a clip and a magazine then how could I expect you to understand the tremendous difference between an assault rifles FCG and a semi-automatic rifles FCG?
@Spartacus: I quoted you doing it…
@wr: Look in the mirror sometimes.
@Astro: I believe we should decriminalize if not outright legalize drugs. Heavy taxes on drugs and paraphernalia will fund treatment programs for those that wish to quit. There are countries that have done this and they have seen massive drops in drug usage and death.
@C. Clavin: All my posts have proven you wrong on that. I have used my gun more then once to defend myself in life threatening situation. The rest of your stuff is just you verbally jerking off and it’s funny to see how heavy your confirmation bias is..
In moderation hell
@de stijl: since when has obama been held to any form of “multi-tasking”? he’s got an excuse for doing nothing all the time it seems, hence he never brought up any form of gun control until now because of the usual “we’re recovering from the worst economic crisis….blah blah blah….i was golfing…….hillary…..george bush………”
and he didn’t even notice that there’s gun literature in his own disastrous healthcare law?
Blah blah blah….and Drew is the greatest business person out there.
Everyone is top dawg behind their keyboard.
The fact is the anti-responsible-gun-ownership-people use fear to fire up the fringe nuts…like you.
To be fair, I’d say that some people on both the “pro-” and “anti-” side tend to (a) believe the other side is arguing based on fear while (b) convincing themselves that they are not. In both cases we find people who are letting emotion stand in for logic and have convinced themselves that their beliefs are true.
The net of all of this is that these people already feel like they’ve “given” all they can before the discussion is even started.
First, the reasont hat most police and military personnel are required to take anger/conflict management training ISN’T because they have guns. They have to take this training because their job — in particular police — puts them in a stressful conflict ridden situation on a regular basis.
As for why this doesn’t make sense for every gun owner, it seems to assume that everyone who has a gun is one argument away from shooting someone. It’s taking the position that every gun owner is a murderer waiting to happen.
As Matt has already pointed out, you admit that this is an idea that isn’t based in data, or an understanding of why something is being done (i.e. why police take that training), but because you have decided it will help. And you haven’t been particularly receptive to people pointing out why it doesn’t make sense.
My objection to home inspections — especially if the costs are put on individual states and localities — is the same problem I have with guards in schools. It’s creating a huge cost without effectively addressing the problem. The vast majority of schools will never have a shooting in them. So if the only reason you’re placing armed guards is to prevent a shooting that will never happen, all that’s been done is take valuable financial resources away from other areas that would have a more important, immediate, and long term effect on the community.
God… this is the most frustrating things to read (especially as I’m in favor of enhanced gun regulation). You’ve basically put forward what anyone should realize are very costly proposals and then admit that you really haven’t thought about it. And then you assume that it would be easy to pay for these proposals through enhanced taxes and surcharges. And yet, you are convinced that your points are rational and if someone doesn’t agree with them, they’re not “balancing” the needs of the community.
As I said, this is a case where emotion is overwhelming logic.
There’s a good correlation here with efforts to ban “dangerous dogs.” Statistics show that even after pit bulls and other dogs have been banned in areas, the number of dog attacks does not decrease in a statistically significant way. Yet, for example, Prince George’s Country, Maryland annually spends $250K enforcing a pit bull ban that they themselves admit does not improve public safety. Yet the law remains on the books because *fear* outweighs *facts* and a quarter of a million dollars — not to mention man-power — that could be spent elsewhere is largely being wasted.
The entire “tacticool”/cosmetic thing is one of the areas where pro-gun folks tend to play a little loose with their logic.
Most of the “assault weapon” enhancements do more than simply alter the cosmetics of the weapon — they help transform/enhance it’s function. Take the forbidden 5 from the 1990’s legislation:
Adding a pistol grip and a folding stock allows the weapon to be operated more easily in different position than a standard stock. An argument can be made that you could still do much of that with a standard stock (and if I’m getting the terms wrong, I apologize, this is getting to the limits of my vocabulary), but the key thing here is the easy of *ease*.
Also, let’s not forget that the folding stock helps make the weapon smaller. While that’s more convenient for transport, it also has other potentially negative applications.
Likewise, as we’ve discussed, a bayonet adds a pretty important piece of functionality to a rifle (one that you have apparently taken advantage of in hunting and one that my father-in-law unfortunately had to take advantage of in war).
I think everyone can appreciate the potential issues with including a rifle grenade launcher mount.
And finally there is the flash suppressor. I appreciate the desire to not blind the shooter in a low light situation, but one can’t ignore the secondary benefit of the suppressor — namely that it helps hide the rifle itself. In the recent mass shooting here in the Rochester area, one of the problems the officer on the scene had is that — while he could tell the general direction shots were coming from — he was unable to *see* the gun firing. The gun in question was a Bushmaster with flash suppressor.
Look, I realize that the majority of people buying assault rifles are the tacticool or the tacticool-wannabe crowd (i.e. they’re never really going to take advantage of these features). In that way it’s a little like a mid life crisis sports car. But that largely gets us back to the cult of the gun — or the cult of the military that you often bring up.
In my post at the top of this thread, I suggested that rather than trying to ban assault weapons or enacting confusing bans (i.e. a legal gun can only have three of the five features), a better solution is to treat them like most states treat pistols and require a special license for so-called “assault weapons” (though I think the easiest way to do it, ti your point about hunting rifles, is to make it for any semi-automatic long gun with a detachable magazine).
What’s frustrating — especially about the current direction of the N.R.A. — is that rather than working for a “common sense” measure that would address a lot of these issues (and bring us in line with other modern countries) they take a “any regulation is bad regulation” stance. And in the vacuum that’s created, bad or ineffectual legislation gets passed that ends up making life more difficult for responsible gun owners while doing little-to-nothing to actually address the larger problems.
matt wanted to pretend his argument was purely logical.
i felt the need to point out his BS.
I think, mattb, that the NRA has decided that any regulation beyond that which is already in place is a slip down the slippery slope and therefore they must fight tooth and nail against *any* increased regulation.
Chatter today is that part of the Obama/Biden effort will be increased enforcement of existing laws (such as more zealous prosecution of people who lie on background checks). That seems pretty commonsensical to me. An “assault weapons ban” appears to also be in the mix, which I admit depresses me (since I expect that even if it passed, which it won’t, it would be ineffectual except as a vehicle to rile certain people up).
Oh, and I have to say, the “home inspection” idea is really bad. Seriously, the time/effort/expense alone is ridiculous. Plus there is the ick factor of having government agents/police inspecting that many people’s homes. Yikes.
I think the idea of putting armed guards (LEOs or at the very least well-trained security folks) in each and every school is problematic for the same reasons: 1) sheer cost; and 2) ick (I am perfectly willing to admit that “ick” is not a logical objection, btw).
I’m not sure you got my full point. While I take some issue with some of Matt’s points, I actually think he’s being far more reasonable than most people give him credit for. Likewise, I’ll say that some of the pro-gun control arguments and proposals I’ve read here are fundamentally based on *fear* and not *facts*, and yet the people are stating them as *truth* and believe that they are being fundamentally reasonable.
@Rob in CT:
Agreed. Unfortunately, people who don’t understand the problems with the original ban will think its going to be effectual (as most people think dangerous breed specific bans make communities safer).
I understand that. The problem is that this sort of thinking creates an utter, hostile vacuum. And, as we’ve just seen in NY, in the face of a moral panic, it allows bad legislation to get pushed through.
Plus, in the long term, it ends up forcing these organizations to take up contradictory positions. Note, for example, that prior to Sandy Hook and the Webster Fireman shootings, the N.R.A. was actually fighting to make it *harder* to use a person’s mental health record as a reason to prevent them from owning a gun. Likewise they were pushing legislation to allow people convicted of crimes to regain the ability to own guns.
Of course, they won’t mention those efforts for a while. But give them about a year or so and I’m sure those efforts will quietly restart.
Likewise, they are happy to complain about all of the ineffectual gun laws on the books. But at the hint of any effort to shift gun regulation from localities to the feds (which would make gun laws simpler — and allow permits and licenses to travel with you), they fight tooth and nail for the status quo.
You have proven my point. Wikipedia is wonderful, but what it is not is an official body or a standard setter. By citing Wikipedia, you have shown that there is no government-set, official standard for “assault rifle”, since if there was, you would have cited or referred to it. What you have said is “My preferred online source is better than your online source”. That means that your day as definition police is or should be over.
Guns and Ammo is the premier gun enthusiast magazine, and as such, is something of an official Bible in the gun culture. This is what it said in 1982:
Among gun enthusiasts, I suspect Guns & Ammo trumps Wikipedia as an authority.
@Rob in CT:
More people are beaten to death with hands and feet than are murdered with rifles, including (but not limited to) “assault weapons.” I’ve no doubt the people pushing for a ban on “assault weapons” know this, but banning them is quick and easy and plays to emotion. It’s low-hanging fruit that’s easy to pick when the public cries out to “do something.”
Unfortunately, enacting sweeping legislation in the immediate, emotional aftermath of a rare but high-impact event is pretty much the worst way to proceed, and generally produces unintended and negative consequences (see: Act, Patriot).
More people throughout history have been beaten to death with hands and feet than murdered with nuclear weapons. I’ve no doubt the people pushing for a ban on nuclear weapons know this, but banning them is quick and easy and plays to emotion….
Seriously, try to be less of an idiot, and please learn some of the principles of logic. The fact that A is deadly is not a reason not to address the fact that B is also deadly. It’s hard to conduct an intelligent conversation when people try to be deliberately stupid.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
Indeed. The gun cultists love the features of the weapons and glory in talking about the “killing power” of these weapons, as anyone who as been to these sites can attest-and always did.
The gun industry does a brisk business selling these accessories and touts the military features of these weapons:
Of course, when gun enthusiasts come to the public, all that paramilitary talk goes out the window and they talk about how the AR 15 is just another hunting rifle, no different than grandpa’s bolt action.
I was responding to the point made by someone else regarding a ban on “assault weapons” being ineffective, and giving a reason why: they are used in very few crimes and even fewer murders. You may not wish to understand my position, but even so, that’s certainly no excuse to insult me–especially as I have never attacked you personally even when I strongly disagreed with you.
It’s hard to conduct an intelligent conversation when people try to be deliberately offensive.
What the hell?
Second, you shifted a bit from “designed.” Both certainly derive from military designs, and retain many of the military features, beyond just “rugged durability.”
It’s interesting. On the surface the old “gun list” bans were dumb. They did focus on cosmetic issues. They did miss guns, or explicitly pass some companies with good lobbyists.
At the same time … Study: Allowing The Assault Rifle Ban To Expire Led To Hundreds Of Mexican Deaths As Well
Now, I think we can do much better now, with better public understanding. A magazine size limit and a bullet button do not “ban” guns, they just reduce the added paramilitary benefit that assault rifles have over true “sporting weapons.”
Actually, I quoted you a statistic, that puts in context the “Great Fact ” that your cited article celebrated. Its good that violence crime has been declining. However, in 2011 , the seven countries I cited, with a combined population total nearly that of the USA, had 263 handgun deaths. The USA had 10,728.
Kind of puts a damper on your “Great Fact” , huh? Maybe its time to put champagne back on ice and admit that there is much, much more to be done.
The article goes on to admit that no one knows the reason for the decline and speculates that the United States is more “naturally” violent than these other countries-which seems to me to be more reason to keep guns out of the hands of the violent.
We’re really getting into splitting hairs here, *but* I don’t think the content you lined to (http://www.vpc.org/studies/thatmyt1.htm) disproves Matt’s point.
The fact is that for some time, “Assault rifle” is a term that has been reserved for a selective fire weapons that has the option for *both* full and semi automatic fire. There’s not a lot of debate about that. (And the fact is that Wikipedia is a pretty reliable source for this stuff).
What your link demonstrates is that the “Assault” prefix has also been associated with a specific subclass of semi-automatic weapons (both pistols and long guns). And that it was willingly associate with those weapons by the gun industry prior to legislation.
That said, while it’s useful from an etymological point of view to demonstrate that the term itself goes back to at least 1982, suggesting that the meaning of “assault” was fixed and hasn’t changed since 1982 is to ignore the way language works. To that point, your link also demonstrates that the specific definition of what makes something worthy of “Assault” is still a little fuzzy, even within the gun community. What we walk away with is that “Assault” refers to some mix of “external military appearance” and “semi-automatic fire.”
And that gets us to the problem of the federal Assault Weapons ban. Rather than directly defining an Assault Weapon, it keep the definition intentionally and ultimately confusingly vague. Rather than banning specific features or types of weapons, it allowed all the features to remain legal and instead said that if you had more than a certain number of specific features on a given weapon it was magically transformed from a rifle or pistol into an assault weapon.
Now, a few posts above, I took Matt to task for the usual line that those features were simply “cosmetic.” They clearly are not. But the problem remains that most “assault weapons” legislation leads us to the following place:
rifle+pistol grip+flash suppressor+rifle grenade launcher= ok & can be purchased w/o license
rifle+pistol grip+rifle grenade launcher+bayonet = ok & can be purchased w/o license
rifle+pistol grip+flash suppressor+rifle grenade launcher+bayonet = banned assault weapon
And this makes absolutely no sense. An it shouldn’t make sense to anyone, including those in favor of gun control.
Again, this is why I keep suggesting that a better way to go is — like Canada and other countries — not to try and ban assault weapons, but to require a license for their purchase.
They also address function rather than cosmetics.
30-round magazines, in civilian use, amount to a convenience, I believe. If they’re banned, I don’t think any court challenge would succeed.
In Matt’s defense, when he’s saying “his AR-15” he’s talking about the civilian build. Which means the semi-automatic version, as opposed to it’s ancestor the ArmaLite AR-10 and AR-15. The fact is that the internal mechanics are fundamentally different. There’s not easy or reliable way to transform a civilian AR-15 into a fully automatic M-16, no more than you could make a dog back into a wolf even though it shares a common ancestor.
one only need to look at the NRA’s new ad to understand the hole in your point.
And that’s why I dig you sir. Because you’re willing to acknowledge this stuff.
BTW, I don’t know if you caught it, but I integrated one of your open up the fully auto registry idea into my gun regulation proposal at the top of the thread.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
First, that military derived guns are military derived is beyond contest.
That should really be enough. Quibbles beyond that should not come into the question of “design” origin.
Second though, I had a friend who took an NRA gunsmithing class. The instructor had a droll “do not do this, on this model, or it will become fully automatic” delivery. It covered many 80’s vintage guns for which the change was minimal. Indeed in that era laws were enacted to make things harder. Even then I remember that one should shop for a model A Uzi on the civilian market rather than a model C.
In good part because we didn’t want them so easily walked back, and NOT because it was a natural consequence of the transition to civilian marketing.
Bull. I fully acknowledged that *some* anti-gun regulation folks are arguing from a position of fear. In fact I have laid out my problems with the N.R.A. in a number of posts here and other places.
My point is that fact — that some of the anti-gun regulation folks are arguing based on fear — doesn’t negate the fact that many pro-regulation folks are arguing on fear.
In other words, just because your opponent is wrong doesn’t make you right. Like any complex issue, this is not zero sum. And the problem we face — and have seen time and time again on these threads — is that far too many people are taking the position that their side has a monopoly on the truth or the utter moral superiority.
Again, see my title — I’m pro enhanced regulation. But the fact is that a lot of the pro-regulation people refuse to see the problems with their argument or acknowledge the fact that the anti-regulation people might have some legitimate points.
In both cases *some* people are stirring up moral panics — no expense should be spared in order to save at least one more life and there is no legitimate reason for anyone to have a gun vs. any concession will lead to the government taking away all guns and then criminals will come and kill us all — which end up leading to crappy laws which do very little to actually help anyone.
I entirely agree. And I completely support the laws which caused gun manufacturers to have to change the innards of the civilian models. There’s no question those should be on the books and remain firmly there. And that they should be used as models for enacting forward looking legislation about civilians weapons technology (i.e. Congress needs to get on the topic of making sure that it’s illegal to for civilians to arm drones).
But this also demonstrates how @Matt was correct — his AR-15, assuming it was bought after the internals were changed — is a different beast than a military AR-15. They’re of the same Genus, but not the same Species.
Note that doesn’t mean that a civilian AR-15 isn’t dangerous. It’s just not a military weapon.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
I agree that you and the other Matt are more reasonable than the typical gun enthusiast, which is quite depressing. Most are like Jack and the NRA, who think that ANY gun safety regulation is unconstitutional and sets us on the road to serfdom.
I think the special licensing approach is best, as well. I like Canada’s scheme. What Canada proves is that you don’t have to be some cheese eating surrender monkey European for gun safety legislation to work. The Canadians live on the continent we do, speak English like we do, hunt like we do, and conquered native Americans like we did .Yet they have effective gun safety laws.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
Sorry, if they’d modified the AR-15 until it was a Remington 700, you might have a point.
It still is that military rifle, with the MINIMUM CHANGES REQUIRED BY LAW.
matt and mattb are making a low semantic argument.
Since military rifles have had the minimum changes required by law, they are now modern sporting weapons, and have nothing to do with their origins …
Ok… I really need to get on to other work, but before I leave the thread for a while, I want to put forward a defense of @Matt and @Mikey.
While I don’t agree with all of their positions, both are willing to — at least in theory — give ground on a number of issues that are supposedly sacrosanct to gun owners. And from what I’ve read across multiple posts, both seem to me to be great examples of responsible and thoughtful gun owners (i.e. they keep their guns safe, they train with them, etc.).
Here’s the thing about both of them that I think is getting lost: both are attempting to argue pretty nuanced positions on a lot of these issues (more nuanced than they’re getting credit for). The problem is, because both of them are experts (or more familiar) on this subject than many of us, they see the importance of this nuance where we do not.
Again, I don’t agree with all of those issues. But just because I don’t agree doesn’t mean that they are lacking in merit.
I’d just ask that before things turn nasty, for folks to take a breath, and appreciate (if not agree) with the point that they are trying to make (because I’ve found that there typically is one there) and why they (@matt and @mikey) are arguing for the nuance.
Please note that I don’t think there’s any reason to extend this courtesy to @Jenos, @Eric-F or the many others anti-regulation tools who often join these threads.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
I think many of your suggestions are very productive. I see less of that from the other matt.
I just think you went a bridge to far in asserting that the “design” of civilian AR-15s was no longer military.
In fact, that assertion is at odds with your recognition of “tacticool” culture. They love them because they are what you assert they are not.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
The point is that until 1994, no one reserved the term ” assault rifle ” or “assault weapon” to selective fire weapons. The gun industry, NRA, and the gun nuts were all agreed that “assault weapon/pistol/rifle” included BOTH selective fire and semi-automatic only weapons with “assault” characteristics. After 1994, it became politically expedient to draw a sharp line between selective fire assault rifles and semi automatic assault rifles. The latter were now, magically, just “modern sporting rifles” relatively harmless and useful just for hunting and target shooting. Wikipedia just reflects the effectiveness of gun industry lobbying and positioning.
What complicates the gun industry’s repositioning is that its marketing plays up the military features of these weapons. The gun cultists like to trick out these weapons to make them look like real M-16s, presumably because it can’t be a real man card if it looks like grandpappy’s fowling piece.
While the cultists glory in the fact that these weapons look and perform like military assault rifles, save only for full automatic capability, they also try to tell the public that these weapons are relatively harmless. That works-until someone like Adam Lanza shows the full capability of these weapons to visit military style carnage on civilians. Its hard to argue that the AR15 is just another hunting rifle, given the reality of Sandy Hook.
Where have I made that argument? Seriously @jp, that’s not what I’m saying.
Here’s the fact about civilian AR-15 platform:
1. They are descended from military rifles.
2. They are all semi-automatic
3. Thanks to legislation that I completely support, they have a firing mechanism that is fundamentally different than a military grade AR-15 and cannot be easily of safely converted to fully automatic or select fire. (AGAIN THIS IS A GOOD THING, SHOULD NOT BE CHANGED).
4. The build of the gun itself makes it highly customizable. AS I NOTED ABOVE, ADDING FEATURES TO THE GUN ISN’T SIMPLY MAKING COSMETIC CHANGES.
5. Aspects of the platform that made the AR-15 an effective military rifle also make it an effective hunting rifle.
6. Numerous manufacturers have modeled military and consumer guns on the platform.
I agree it’s clearly different than a bolt action rifle. Hell it’s different than a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine.
That said, here we hit a problem with all of this — its possible to get a consumer AR-15 gun with a fixed magazine.
So then what makes the gun somehow special?
It’s ability to be customized with additional features? Again, I’m not putting forward the entire “they’re just cosmetic” thing. There’s plenty of evidence to show why they are not. But for arguments sake, let’s say there is a fixed magazine, AR-15 build that has a permanently attached stock and cannot take (a) a flash suppressor, (b) a bayonet, (c) a rifle grenade launcher. That just leaves us with the pistol grip, which staying true to the usual platform design is part of the stock.
This gets to part of the problem with previous “assault weapons bans.” Rather than banning specific features (i.e. in what world should civilian rifle grenade lauchers not be banned), it allowed the platform to remain highly customizable and just made it illegal to *over customize* your weapon. So — unlike legislation that forced changes of the firing mechanism — the assault weapons ban essentially required no serious changes to the ability of the guns to take on additional parts after market.
AND THE FACT IS THAT ANY ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN THAT WILL COME OUT OF WASHINGTON WILL MOST LIKELY HAVE THIS SAME GLARING LOOPHOLE.
(all caps to point out how problematic I find this).
Getting back to our discussion, is our imaginary fixed magazine AR-15, with fixed pistol grip stock and no ability to add on additional features now an acceptable consumer rifle? Or is the presence of the pistol grip a step to far? And if that’s eliminated, what then? Does the military link still make it a dangerous gun?
I realize this is probably pedantic, but my larger point is that simply because it is a military derived gun doesn’t make it a “military weapon.” Again that’s why I was using the Genus/Species argument.
Starting from the position that a gun should be regulated because its derived from a military weapon doesn’t make sense. Likewise its not accurate to say that a consumer gun is the same as it’s military cousin.
What we need to do is look at the specific feature set of the gun platform *as is* — versus where it came from — and derive regulation from that. And that regulation should make sense and be easily applicable.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
I really don’t know why you took up objection to this line:
and joined this response:
It was stupid and semantic.
@C. Clavin: Let me know when you’re done re-enforcing your confirmation bias and have moved on to actually absorbing my posts.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation): I want a muzzle break on my hunting rifle not because I plan to go on a shooting spree but because my gun kicks hard and it would be nice to have the ability to make easier follow up shots when hunting (packs of pigs). I wasn’t referring to flash suppressors and while that is tacticool it’s one of the few actual functional things they do. Most of tacticooling involves things like replacing the wood with plastic or putting extra rails on the gun for in most cases no real reason. Some people will put a forward pistol grip but that’s helpful for hunting too (it’s more natural feeling).
As it currently stands my gun makes a tremendous muzzle flash that would still be visible even with a flash suppressor 🙁
@Rob in CT: You can’t really blame them for worrying about the slippery slope when there’s several people that visit this blog that vocally call for a complete ban on semi-automatic guns. There’s even a couple like Micheal who have said there is absolutely no reason for anyone to have a gun. Democratic politicians have a history of calling for nonsensical laws that are at best feel good measures. THe AWB had no noticeable impact on crime rate (last major spike in school shootings occurred during the ban) yet they think another one will work this time if we only ban more scary features. As it is now our gun regulations have absurdities in it like the 922r requirement. Since my SAIGA was made in Russia I have to keep at least 4 pieces on it that are American made. As if for some reason an American made version of a trigger is somehow safer then a similar design made in Russia. As if my magazine made in the USA (counts as 3 parts) is somehow not as scary as a Romanian made magazine. We’re already dealing with regulations that make little to no real since and it’s because of mostly the Democrats and their desire for feel good regulation.
@john personna: The FCG and internals are completely different from a military m16a1-4. There’s only superficial similarities. Hell the composites used in the furniture is different.
@john personna: The original AR-15 designed for the military is a completely different rifle than a civilian Ar-15 that you can get today. That rifle does not share parts that are compatible with your off the shelf bushmaster..
@stonetools: I’ve seen news reports refer to a 30 30 as a military style sniper rifle.
If by perform like an military assault rifle you mean they both shoot bullets then yes. Everything else is different…
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
Isn’t that the point though? Matt tends to argue that the fully automatic/semi-automatic distinction is so crucial that there is a great gulf between the military, dangerous M 16 and the relatively harmless AR 15 . The reality is of course is that an AR 15 with a high capacity magazine is peculiarly lethal in a way close to that of military grade assault rifles or sub-machine guns. Adam Lanza slaughtered 26 people in 20 minutes. Had he had a fully automatic M16, he might have gotten a couple more, but not much more( gruesome as it as to even discuss the incident in this way).
It seems to me that we should look at what these guns actually can do, rather than drawing relatively meaningless distinctions . If someone wants an AR15 with a high capacity magazine, then society should demand that this someone be certified as highly responsible, sane , and fully capable of controlling a a peculiarly lethal weapon. With great power should go stringent licensing.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
Look, we probably both know that the development of bolt action rifles was largely for the military, with Mauser designs pivotal, and the early basis for many sporting weapons.
We don’t worry about them, or discount Mosin–Nagants, and not because of cosmetics or bayonets, etc.
We only worry about the “revealed preference” of spree killers and other madmen for high capacity weapons with quick-change magazines.
Dear idiot downvoter. You are simply skipping the word “designed.”
That word is literally true.
The AR-15 was DESIGNED for military use, and current civilian models only differ in minimum ways, as mandated by law.
@john personna: No it’s not it’s a fact. My SAIGA may look like an AK47 but the only parts that are interchangeable are the magazines(if you modify the mag catch and receiver including installing a bullet guide that you have to fabricate). the pistol grip(with mod) the stock (even more mods) the bottom plywood hand grip can work if you modify the rifle and buy a special retainer. The upper plywood furniture doesn’t work though.
Literately the bolt the bolt carrier the barrel the trunnions the FCG everything is different.. They look the same though if you don’t know what you’re talking about..
Guns that you call hunting rifles today were originally designed as military battle rifles…
@john personna: Which is ridiculous as history has shown us that spree killers can use those style of rifles quite well..
BTW, guns can certainly be designed in the assault rifle mode, from scratch, as well.
A good example would be the Hi-Point carbines would be good examples, from their copy:
Because you know, nothing makes for a good grouping at 100 yards than “attitude” and “CAN-DO!!”
This is correct, but it’s also the nature of language. Categories subdivide for a wide range of cultural reasons (including political). And I think this is a great case of an example of it.
Since at least 1994, and prior to it considering that the ban itself took a while to get through Congress, the terms/concepts of “assault rifle” and “assault weapon” had to be created and separated. BTW, this is very much a product of the way language and law works. These sorts of terms arise in opposition to each other in order to subdivide.
Like I said, the link you provided showed that “assault” was a more inclusive category a decade before that legislation passed. But by the very fact that the legislation codified the term “assault weapon” it helped redefine the entire space.
And the fact is, like it or not, the legislation also began the process of codifying the term “assault rifle” as meaning “a fully automatic, military weapon.” BTW, on the flip side, pro-gun people need to accept that the law also codified “assault weapon” to mean, generically, “a semi automatic, rifle or pistol, with one or more of the following features….”
Both are made up words (of course all words are made up), but both have developed more or less accepted meanings in the 20 or so years they’ve been kicking around for.
Now as to the second part of what you’re saying — that there was a concerted effort to rebrand ‘assault weapons’ as sporting guns — you get no real argument from me about the push. That said, it’s also worth noting that many of those weapons were being used as sporting guns prior to the ban.
And that gets to the larger problem here — we realize, but don’t want to acknowledge, how everything around this issue is messily tangled.
So you prove that you can skip the word “designed” right?
You know the origins of the Saiga:
Before I take a break, let me say that I could accept mattb’s suggestions up top. They may not be what I’d design, but a split, with license requirements, for removable magazine guns would create a division in the marketplace. People would have to decide if they really needed to go tacticool or just wanted a semi-automatic.
I think mattb is foolish to join the semantic argument because it doesn’t actually support or enhance his concrete proposals.
I don’t think matt (without the b) has much to give us. For him it is all about semantics, as a way to say that no change to gun ownership itself makes sense.
It’s a stupid (lying, actually) semantic argument against change.
@john personna: So what’s your point? That now whoever makes a rifle determines if it’s “evil” or not?
Does that mean that we should ban Camaros because GM was involved in the making of M16s?
Are all of the Colt guns out there from the old days suddenly evil because Colt is involved with the m16?
Down voting facts always reveals you for what you are.
Well, I’ve never made an “evil rifle” argument.
Should you stop and consider why YOU went there?
@john personna: Then what’s your point bringing up the manufacturer of the SAIGA?
My points still hold true about the lack of compatibility.
BTW, for the record, I’m not really a gun enthusiast. Don’t own one. Don’t plan on getting one.
That said, I see their uses. I know responsible people who use them for subsistence hunting. I know responsible sport shooters. And I know a few people who carry for self defense — including a few who I think have a particularly valid reason for doing so.
But I don’t see them as a panacea. I know a lot people I’d never want near a gun. And I think there are far too many in circulation inside the US.
I’m all for regulating them. I just want to see smart regulation.
You objected to a line about their design, their origin.
You keep changing the subject.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
This is the stance of a lot of gun owners. The problem is that the regulations we have are stupid and were drafted thanks to fear mongering and “GOTTA DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT” shortsightedness. Almost anyone that has to deal with the ATF comes away with a negative view of them. The ATF will tell you one thing and then tell you a different thing if you talk to them later the same day. There are people who have been arrested for following the ATF’s directions.
The whole 922r thing encapsulates a lot of the stupidity of our gun control laws as they stand.
When a gun owner watches a video like this.
Can you really blame them for not having much faith in government and regulations of guns? For god’s sake he even tries to put the magazine in backwards and he’s supposed to be an expert on guns…
@john personna: Once again. What relevance does that have to the discussion of or the SAIGA itself?
What’s going to be really fun is when they decide to to stir a panic over guns printed using the new metal printing techniques that are coming out.
Well, that and sight picture, breath control, and trigger squeeze. OK, it’s just those three.
Also, those rifles are damn ugly.
Ok seriously last post for the day…
Again… here’s the problem — and it’s the problem that we see repeated across everyone of these friggin threads — generally speaking neither side respects or trusts the other side.
I’m not talking about just the most extreme people on each side. Pretty much every player — on both the national scene and the local scene (including the comments sections here — has chosen one side or the other and decided that there’s no ground to give (because the other side will take a mile).
Net result is that the groups that should be fighting for smarter legislation spend all their time fighting ANY legislation.
And to some degree, I agree that the bigger, initial problem is the anti-gun side. But the thing is — despite what they think — they will typically be the side that ultimately wins from a legislative perspective. Which is NOT to say that they will get everything they want. But the fact is that it’s easier to typically enact anti-gun legislation (on the federal level) than it is to enact pro-gun legislation (the sunset provision in the 1994 bill was in part a recognition of that by pro-gun folks).
That said, the fact that the pro-gun side doesn’t realize this, and try to seriously come to the table and work towards better legislation, is entirely their fault. And thus they are as much to blame for hastily pushed through, bad measures as anyone on the anti-gun side.
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation): I’ve produced common sense suggestions to improve our law. I’ve been completely dismissed in the process and in some cases the ones doing the dismissing then demand what I had already offered (universal NICS for example). It’s maddening to deal with…
@mattb (who is in favor of enhanced gun regulation):
I make no such assumption at all. What I do assume, however, is that a significant number of gun owners is one (or several) arguments away from shooting someone and since we can’t don’t know who they are in advance, then we need to make all gun owners go through the training. If you have some special way of identifying in advance who the dangerous gun owners are you should share that with the authorities so we can intervene now.
I didn’t decide it would help; police departments and the military concluded it would help and I am deferring to their judgment. You and the other Matt don’t believe it will help and you’re not willing to defer to the judgment of the police and military. So, it seems the better question is why do you believe you are right and well-trained, professional police and military experts are wrong? Please provide data.
You seem to have a very simplistic view of the “gun problem.” In fact, you talk as if it is a single problem awaiting a simple, single solution. There are many gun deaths and gun shootings that require a wide range of solutions. The problem of accidental shootings within the home and of gun thefts points to the obvious failure to adequately secure guns at home. Now, no one wants to be negligent in securing their guns, but enough people obviously aren’t diligent or knowledgeable enough to do this. So, if you want to own a killing machine like a gun, then you should be prepared to go through this. Of course, I’m prepared to hear your argument that the lives of the innocent victims are not worth the administrative and financial burden this would impose. Or, if you have a better way of preventing these types of harms, let’s hear it.
Reading fail. What I said is that neither of us knows how much these proposals would cost nor how much money they would save. Now, if you do know how much they would cost and how much they would save, why don’t you simply tell us and then we can determine what the true financial burden is? Obviously, you’re not able to do this, but for some reason you still think you’re in a position to opine on this.
Basically, this issue comes down to how much money and additional inconvenience is society prepared to bear in order to save lives and injuries from pervasive killing machines. For you, there is a dollar amount and an inconvenience that is too high, yet you won’t tell us what that dollar amount is. For me, and I suspect for the families of gun shot victims, we need to radically reduce the number and lethality of guns and ensure that those who do possess guns are model citizens who wouldn’t dream of hurting anyone. We need to do this in the lease expensive, least burdensome way possible, but it absolutely has to be done no matter the cost or inconvenience.
Thanks for taking the time to write that thorough response.
After reading it, and some reflection, it’s clear to me that we’re not going to agree on most of this. Since I think we’ve both expressed our positions and neither of us seem likely to change, its not worth continuing this discussion.