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Thoughts on yet another gun massacre

It’s been a few days since the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre, where a neuroscience dropout killed at least a dozen people at a showing of Dark Knight Rises. The blogosphere has been churning away in the meantime, doing what it does best: collating, aggregating, live-blogging and synthesizing the information that the media has been producing; sorting reactions and likewise reacting; and teasing out details that the media missed or glossed over.

The gunman, James Holmes, carried four weapons — two .40 Glocks, a Remington 870 12-gauge single-barrel pump action shotgun, and a Smith & Wesson AR-15 semi-auto rifle for which he apparently had a drum clip that held 100 rounds. All told, he had over six thousand rounds of ammo for his various weapons. He was well armored, with ballistic helmet and gas mask, tactical gloves, and vest, with groin and neck protection. He began his assault by breaking through the theater’s back door during the first action sequence, tossing two gas grenades (unknown what kind of gas — possibly tear gas), then opening fire. All of his armaments were obtained legally.

Holmes had his hair painted red, and claimed to be The Joker. The media did not bite on calling him The Joker, though he’s apparently done some rather fiendish things, like booby-trapping his apartment with explosives leading police to have to disarm it all to get in and search his place. No real motives have yet been uncovered.

Among the killed was a six year old girl, and an aspiring sportscaster who coincidentally narrowly avoided a shooting in a Toronto mall last month.

Police are ratcheting up security at movie theatres throughout the States in response to this event. It has been determined that there are no terrorism links — the cynic in me thinks, “because he wasn’t a brown person”, and “because he was a Christian”. Some well-meaning religious folks are doing the same familiar bits of prejudicial presumption we see every time there’s a tragedy on this scale. And religious bigots are out in droves, all of them with their own pet theories as to who REALLY deserves the blame for this atrocity.

Flip Benham blames the Democrats.

Fred Jackson blames the media and liberal churches, and God’s rage about gays.

Bryan Fischer blames the removal of school prayer and the Ten Commandments from public schools.

Jerry Newcombe blames the public’s lack of fear of Hell.

Pat McEwen blames the DNC.

Matt Barber blames abortions and God’s rage that they happen.

Greg Stier blames Adam. Yes, of Adam and Eve.

Senator Russell Pearce blames a cowardly audience for letting it happen. And you knew that one was coming — if everyone was armed, then more bullets would have solved the problem. (Or hit more people in the crossfire as a result.)

None of them blamed guns.

None of them blamed a gun culture that has deposed zero tyrants and killed innumerable people for being different, or for merely being in the way of the bullet.

I do not understand the apologetics that swarm out of the woodwork whenever someone on the outside of US gun culture looking in wonders, “why should you be able to buy a 100-round drum clip for an assault rifle as a private citizen?” Or “why should you be able to buy three thousand rounds of ammo for a gun and nobody blinks an eye?” Or “how did a delusional psychopath stock himself up for a killing spree and carry it out with nobody the wiser?”

Or the big one: how did “a well-regulated militia” come to mean “the right to obtain a large amount of weaponry so as to commit wide-scale mass murder at the drop of a hat?”

Or the other big one: why is everyone so blasé about this killing spree? I mean, everyone’s going through the motions about how big a tragedy it is — everyone’s “shocked” and “saddened” but nobody’s tying it together with all the other killing sprees we’ve seen in recent years. Is it because they happen too often to get worked up about every one? Is it because we’re intentionally blinding ourselves to the possibility that there’s a pattern here that we can easily recognize, that might question the wisdom of the entire culture you’ve built in the States?

Is it because change is hard? Harder to change the culture you’re steeped in, even, than grieving the losses of each big event while pretending each is an isolated incident?

Comments

  1. Nepenthe says

    Pfff. Remember, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I’m sure if this scum had been armed with a machete he could have done just as much harm, because it’s simple to maim or kill 70 people with a melee weapon in a matter of minutes.

  2. MichaelD says

    And of course the appeal to tradtition aka the 2nd amendment. As if legislation written 221 years ago must be right and the sacrilege of questioning it. I’m not saying it’s wrong or that it’s right. But pointing at it as if it must be right cause it says so in this old document is silly.

  3. rork says

    “Is it because we’re intentionally blinding ourselves to the possibility that there’s a pattern here that we can easily recognize, that might question the wisdom of the entire culture”

    It would have helped had you made concrete suggestions. If it was so damned easy we would have fixed it long ago.
    For example: I don’t think banning 100-round magazines would have prevented this. What is your proposal? Another example: “deposed zero tyrants” ignores the deterrent effects of possible violence. Know who the Black Panthers were?

    About blase: Do mass murders cause even one thousandth as many as deaths as car accidents? Yet we will think about it before we ban cars.

  4. sambarge says

    Do mass murders cause even one thousandth as many as deaths as car accidents? Yet we will think about it before we ban cars.

    Your argument (if you want to call it that) fails in at least 2 ways:

    1. Cars have a function that is unrelated to killing people. They are not manufactured for the sole purpose of offensive or defensive actions. Cars are for transportation and any deaths that result are not the intent of the manufacturers. The same cannot be said for guns which have no function but the infliction of injury and death.

    2. You may as well have said that more people die in bathrooms every year than from gunshot wounds. You would be right but still making a falacious arguments. You are far more likely to be in a car (or bathroom) every single day than you are to be shot at. Of course you’re more likely to die in a car than in a shoot out. So what? Does that mean that guns are not dangerous or that controlling them is an assinine pipe-dream, as you imply?

    Actually, access to cars is more tightly regulated than access to firearms. Do you have to buy a licence, be tested and maintain insurance for any damage you might cause with a gun?

  5. Nepenthe says

    I don’t think banning 100-round magazines would have prevented this.

    No, but a guy who has to occasionally stop and reload doesn’t easily shoot 70 people in a couple of minutes. There may be little that could have be done to have prevented scumbag from deciding to kill a whole bunch of people. The question is how many people is he going to kill? One or two? Or twelve? How many injured, three or four or fifty?

  6. unbound says

    “Senator Russell Pearce blames a cowardly audience for letting it happen. And you knew that one was coming — if everyone was armed, then more bullets would have solved the problem. (Or hit more people in the crossfire as a result.)”

    This is what bothers most of all with the idiocy that comes up. You are watching a movie (or sitting in a class watching the teacher in the case of Virginia Tech), and all of a sudden a bunch of people are shooting. Who do you shoot at? Especially in this case with some kind of gas obscuring your vision. Most people in the theater only knew who the bad guy was because he was the only one shooting.

    Idiots like Senator Pearce just don’t have the brain power to think about how the situation would really look if everybody was packing heat.

  7. silomowbray says

    I posted this a couple of days ago on The Friendly Atheist. Jason, I hope you don’t mind a reprise here, as it might shed a little light on gun culture thinking.

    =============

    In an earlier article there was a huge fuss over 2nd Amendment rights, and I have to agree with poster Summer Seale, who wrote what I think was the most perceptive comment so far on the shootings under that article: “…I’ve learned it’s not the number of guns around me, but the mentality of the people around me.”

    There are plenty of firearms up here in Canada, although of course we have no Concealed Carry and handguns are heavily restricted – many rules surrounding their possession, transport, and use. No fully automatic weapons either, but we have a horde of sporting rifles and shotguns. We also have a much lower rate of murders involving firearms than the U.S.

    I would argue that the difference is a matter of culture. In the U.S., ownership of firearms has always been seen as a right, and from what I understand of the 2nd Amendment, said ownership was encouraged because of the deep distrust the early Colonials had for government, particularly the British Monarchy. The U.S. was established by revolution, under the auspices of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Much is placed on individual liberty in the American psyche, and firearms do play some role in that – owning a gun says “I can defend myself against people who might try to take away my liberties, people with guns, people who serve a Government I don’t agree with.” Not so in Canada, where we established our nation under the auspices of “Peace, Order and Good Government.” Canadians historically accepted, in fact desired, government. Distrust of such was nearly non-existent. The fabric of the Canadian psyche was woven by reliance on a system that, perhaps naively, assumed Government was Good, and at worst Neutral. And so it went from there.

    But the entire “we distrust Government so we need guns” motivator has over time become complete bullshit in the U.S., particularly with the Right Wing, who are now desirous of strong Authoritarianism. So on the one hand they’ll recite the importance of individual Liberty, but on the other, more honest hand they’ll do their best to vote in a government that undermines those individual rights and liberties that have the most to do with security of the person, in body and mind.

    And through it all, there runs a thread in the U.S. that gun ownership isn’t just a right, but a virtue. Owning one makes you your own (wo)man, because you can protect yourself, your family and those you care for, with no reliance on an untrustworthy government. But when you put that against the present-day context of authoritarian values, it throws the hidden cognitive dissonance into sharp relief.

  8. Robert M. says

    For example: I don’t think banning 100-round magazines would have prevented this.

    Banning high capacity magazines means shooters have to reload their guns more frequently. Giving people less ability to kill means that mass murders will kill fewer.

    Do mass murders cause even one thousandth as many as deaths as car accidents? Yet we will think about it before we ban cars.

    How many cars murder people, there is a difference between deaths and murders namely some one is intentionally killed by another person.

  9. DaveL says

    I don’t think banning 100-round magazines would have prevented this.

    No, but a guy who has to occasionally stop and reload doesn’t easily shoot 70 people in a couple of minutes.

    Well, you’d be wrong on this point for this particular instance. Oversized magazines like the one used by the shooter are notoriously unreliable and prone to jamming, and this is exactly what happened here. A malfunction forced him to abandon the rifle and switch to his other firearms.

  10. unbound says

    “Well, you’d be wrong on this point for this particular instance. Oversized magazines like the one used by the shooter are notoriously unreliable and prone to jamming, and this is exactly what happened here. A malfunction forced him to abandon the rifle and switch to his other firearms.”

    1) Jammed after how many shots? 1, 10, 50?
    2) Switched to his 40 round handgun (also an oversized magazine).

  11. DaveL says

    1) Jammed after how many shots? 1, 10, 50?
    2) Switched to his 40 round handgun (also an oversized magazine).

    So now we’re down from 100-round magazines to 40. What do you think is a reasonable capacity for civilian use? 10? 5? 1?

  12. dianne says

    it’s simple to maim or kill 70 people with a melee weapon in a matter of minutes.

    Well, it’s technically also possible to kill 3000 people with a box cutter and the right circumstances, but that doesn’t negate the fact that most mass murders in the US are carried out with firearms and that it’s easier to run from a melee weapon than a gun.

  13. dianne says

    What do you think is a reasonable capacity for civilian use? 10? 5? 1?

    Zero. Quite apart from the occasional mass murder, studies have shown that people who own guns are more likely to end up the victims of accidental shootings, murders, and suicides than those who do not. As are their children and other family members. Get rid of the stupid things-they have no purpose.

  14. unbound says

    “So now we’re down from 100-round magazines to 40. What do you think is a reasonable capacity for civilian use? 10? 5? 1?”

    The only legitimate use I’m aware of for the use of guns in this age is for hunting (which I don’t have any qualms about). If you need more than 3 or 5 rounds at a time, you shouldn’t be using a gun. We used to joke that if you heard one shot, the hunter got the animal. If you heard 2 shots, there may or may not be a dead animal. If you heard 3 shots, the animal got away. Most states used to have laws with this limitation.

    The NRA has been successful in changing the laws over the past decade so that most states don’t have limitations anymore (after all, the ammunition manufacturers are more than happy to have idiots shooting guns with 30 to 50 round magazines). And this is why that was a mistake.

  15. says

    @silomowbray :

    That was an interesting comment. I agree there’s a large difference in the historical context between the United States and Canada, and that there’s a certain irony in the belief in self-defense through gun ownership while relying on an increasingly authoritarian government.

    Personally, I think the Second Amendment has completely lost its original revolutionary and protective purposes. The narrative about well-regulated militias and joint action has entirely given way to individuals acting alone for no shared purpose whatsoever.

    Furthermore, the Civil War shattered the concept of justice in revolution in many ways. A revolution isn’t always for a good cause. I would argue that whenever revolution is genuinely necessary, it will happen regardless of what the law is. Arming much of the country makes little difference, because the government military will always stay ahead of whatever the populace has.

    Above all else, the elephant in the room here is the extremely profitable arms industry.

  16. says

    “For example: I don’t think banning 100-round magazines would have prevented this.

    Banning high capacity magazines means shooters have to reload their guns more frequently. Giving people less ability to kill means that mass murders will kill fewer.”

    Well to say it politely, i disagree and I believe this is something that the left side of the political spectrum needs to have some inner reflection on. Don’t copy the war on drugs and use it as the war on guns, please. THe left seems to understand perfectly that banning marijuanna simply drives it underground, spikes the cost, creates a new criminal element to move and control it etc…. but they refuse to see this with firearms. I totally refute the statement above I’ve quoted. Much like a ban on heroin, but the heroin addicts still get it, they just need to commit more crimes to afford it. This is the same. The only thing that a ban on 100 round clips would have done that unfortunate day was that some law abiding gun owners no where near this event would not be forced to reload more as they practiced at the range. Criminals don’t follow bans, rules, laws, etc. The only thing you get from a ban is higher prices for the thing banned, and less safety and oversight. Guns, hookers, drugs, tobacco, gambling. Ban it, you don’t see it, but its still there. Allow it. The banning of firearms comes from an elitist attitude, in my opinion, where some well to do folks whose meat has always come wrapped in plastic on styrofoam thinks that they entire nation is a downtown core; therefore what they are uncomfortable with they can ban for the rest of the land. The don’t think the average person is smart enough, and capable enough to possess a gun. Fine, don’t buy one yourself. This blog, and all the rest associated with FTB are normally coming down on the side of liberty. They normally advocate leaving people alone that aren’t hurting anyone else. Marry who you want, have or don’t have kids if you want, pray or don’t pray if you want etc. Added to this should be to own or dont own firearms if you want. The only thing we should be banning is bans. They don’t work, they are insulting to our intelligence, they cost money, and they ONLY RESTRICT LAW ABIDING CITIZENS.

  17. rork says

    @4: I did not say it was an asinine pipe dream. Just not as simple as our author may think. Hint: I own no firearms. Guns are often effective at avoiding violence, just by being present. Think: store owner, people moving large amounts of gold or cash, the guys at the nuclear reactor. They are used to intimidate bad people, sometimes even shoot them. Some people use them hunting too.

    @5: Think about how many lives per year would be saved by limiting AR-15 people to the more ordinary magazines (with just 30 rounds). It is about zero.

  18. Robert M. says

    THe left seems to understand perfectly that banning marijuanna simply drives it underground, spikes the cost, creates a new criminal element to move and control it etc…. but they refuse to see this with firearms.

    The difference is firearms are weapons, not recreational drug. You understand they have different purposes right? Then why shouldn’t they be treated differently?

    Much like a ban on heroin, but the heroin addicts still get it, they just need to commit more crimes to afford it.

    What is this? I don’t even…

    Analogies don’t work that way.

    People are gun addicts now? And they will commit crimes for the rush of be able to shoot a gun without the hassle of reloading frequently?

    The only thing that a ban on 100 round clips would have done that unfortunate day was that some law abiding gun owners no where near this event would not be forced to reload more as they practiced at the range.

    I didn’t know that such horror would be inflicted on innocent people.

    Criminals don’t follow bans, rules, laws, etc. The only thing you get from a ban is higher prices for the thing banned, and less safety and oversight.

    Not being able to order it off the internet or buy it at a gun store means fewer people will go to the trouble to get it. Having to know the right people means fewer people will get it. Having to pay more means fewer people will buy it. How counter productive

    The banning of firearms comes from an elitist attitude, in my opinion

    Who said anything about banning all firearms? Nice strawman. Hunting or self defense don’t require you to get into a prolonged shootout.

    The don’t think the average person is smart enough, and capable enough to possess a gun.

    I am worried about the use of guns designed to shoot lots of bullets in quick succession without reloading by people with ill intent. Restricting access to them, as I pointed out above, means someone who wants one has to look harder, pay more, know the right people, etc. You can’t stop everyone who is truly determined, but you can prevent plenty of bad people from getting their hands on them, and that will save lives.

  19. says

    I posted this on Ed’s blog but I’ll repost here:

    My mother went to this weekend’s Peach Festival in Marysville CA today and took a couple of photos of what the Republican Party headquarters had done to dress up their storefront. They were inviting everyone inside wanted to register them, offering a rummage sale, but the best enticement had a big poster right in the front window:

    Their Gun Raffle!!
    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7266/7619298992_0efcdc4214_h.jpg

    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7257/7619299816_153c46c27e_b.jpg

    (Also take note of the Republican “Political Chicks” poster.)
    Larger sizes of these pics for closer inspection are in her flickr photo stream.

  20. dianne says

    THe left seems to understand perfectly that banning marijuanna simply drives it underground, spikes the cost, creates a new criminal element to move and control it etc…. but they refuse to see this with firearms.

    The thing about firearms is that they don’t grow out of the ground in random places unless you weed carefully. Nor can they be made in someone’s basement by anyone with halfway decent skills at chemistry. Firearm production requires a factory and a reasonably high level of technical skill. Also I’ve never heard of someone getting addicted to firearms and trolling the streets to get their fix.

  21. dianne says

    Actually, banning guns in the US might be one of the few things that could be done that would have an actual positive effect towards “winning the drug war”: Mexico gets a lot of guns from the US. It’s an illegal guns for illegal drugs exchange quite often. Dry up the supply of guns and the ability and motive for supplying the US with lots of drugs decreases. Plus fewer gang wars in Mexico and maybe even less police corruption eventually. But then there’d be fewer exploitable Mexican immigrants in the US and where would the agricultural industry be?

  22. says

    The NRA is NOT a gun owner’s group. (Maybe used to be, no longer is.)

    It is the lobbying arm of the weapons industry. The objective is to open the market to more of their product.

    The rank-and-file membership is as much in charge as the “smokers rights groups” members are in charge of THAT tobacco industry astroturf campaign.

    Volunteer pawns. Useful idiots.

  23. says

    @7 (Silomowbray)

    THIS! Thank you!
    Even with the 2nd A in place, there’s room for various restrictions – e.g. having to demonstrate need for certain classes of arms and ammunition before being allowed to purchase, not being allowed to conceal (certain classes of) arms on your person, licensing/permit processes before being allowed to purchase for certain classes of arms, etc. A few states have even banned assault weapons. Nevertheless, the gun culture does seem to make it extremely difficult to impose these sorts of reasonable restrictions that would not infringe on the “right to bear arms” in a general sense. It’s a unique sense of entitlement you don’t really see in many other countries. Add in the historical context and it sometimes seems like a futile uphill battle. IMO, owning arms is a privilege, not a right, but the constitution appears to be sacrosanct. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. With guns. There are ways to make it harder for them to do that without taking away your “rights”.

  24. Aliasalpha says

    Has there been a study done about the attitude towards weaponry comparing countries that had wars of independence and/or civil wars to countries that have been more or less peaceful throughout the last few centuries?

    In regards to the blame game, I’m surprised noone (that I’ve seen) has blamed it on the fact that america isn’t part of the british empire anymore.

    Has the mpaa kicked up faux outrage that he didn’t even buy a movie ticket? That’s tantamount to piracy and probably cost the industry eleventy squillion dollars a day.

  25. Chiroptera says

    None of them blamed a gun culture that has deposed zero tyrants….

    Now that’s just crazy talk. If it weren’t for the widespread availability of guns here in the US, we’d probably have by now a government that would detain suspects for years without recourse to habeas corpus, or listen in on phone conversations without a warrant, or torture suspects to get information.

  26. kraut says

    “What do you think is a reasonable capacity for civilian use? 10? 5? 1?”

    hey arsehole, in Canada ONLY THREE BULLET MAGS ARE PERMITTED. With one in the breach that makes four bullets per gun max.

  27. Nepenthe says

    The banning of firearms comes from an elitist attitude, in my opinion, where some well to do folks whose meat has always come wrapped in plastic on styrofoam thinks that they entire nation is a downtown core; therefore what they are uncomfortable with they can ban for the rest of the land.

    Nice assumption you got there.

    Life-long small town resident here (barring an unfortunate sojourn in Chicago, where people in my neighborhood were regularly gunned down) who eats plenty of meat not wrapped in plastic wrap and occasionally participates in acquiring it.

    Automatic weapons and Glocks with a 40 round clip have fuck-all to do with hunting and you know it. Unless, of course, you’re counting human hunting, like in this case.

    Speaking of urban cores, how many little kids have ever been killed in their beds by a stray weapon in a drive-by knifing? The stickers and posters in my neighborhood said “Don’t Shoot. I want to grow up”.

  28. kraut says

    As to Canada – being a hunter myself I do not see why anybody without a permanent hunters number should be eligible to own a gun.

    Why do you need one if you do not hunt? Self defense? Are you kidding? A long gun for self defense?

    Funny enough, Canada has severe restrictions on concealed firearm, and our overall incident of death by firearm is less than 30% that of the US, with a higher rate of homicide by stabbing in the GWN.

    http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.ca/2011/03/us-vs-canada-homicide-edition.html

    The funny thing on that particular site is the exclusion of the non white/hispanic population from the stats in order to justify the conclusion that the US are not all that worse than Canada concerning firearms use.

  29. silomowbray says

    @kraut:

    Is it really 3+1? I thought it was 5 — I could certainly be wrong. And a special exception is made for M1 Garands because they have a brass clip that holds 8.

    If it’s 3+1 I might be in trouble. I have an 870, and it’s 4 in the tube plus one.

  30. says

    As to Canada – being a hunter myself I do not see why anybody without a permanent hunters number should be eligible to own a gun.

    eh, I can see an argument that you need one while you’re getting good enough at shooting to go start hunting, but if shooting ranges routinely provide loaners/rental guns to members, that would also meet that need. I don’t know, I don’t shoot.

  31. kraut says

    “And a special exception is made for M1 Garands because they have a brass clip that holds 8.”

    Actually, I was wrong. According to the RCMP:

    5 cartridges for most magazines designed for a semi-automatic centre-fire long gun; or
    10 cartridges for most handgun magazines
    There is no limit to the magazine capacity for semi-automatic rim-fire long guns, or for other long guns that are not semi-automatics.

    hhttp://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/faq/index-eng.htm#a6

    also:

    Prohibited firearms include:

    handguns with a barrel length of 105 mm or less and handguns that discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition, except for a few specific ones used in International Shooting Union competitions;
    rifles and shotguns that have been altered by sawing or other means so that their barrel length is less than 457 mm or their overall length is less than 660 mm;
    full automatics;
    converted automatics, namely full automatics that have been altered so that they fire only one projectile when the trigger is squeezed; and
    firearms prohibited by Criminal Code Regulations.

    As to gun ranges – you can acquire your hunting license first, then purchase a gun and go to the shooting range.

    For non hunters I think a good alternative would be the process they use with handguns: you are only permitted to transport your long gun to and from the shooting range, could alternatively store it safely at the shooting range but you are not permitted to carry it around under any other circumstances.

    I remember from the late seventies/early eighties that folks used to carry their guns in a rack at the rear window of their pickup trucks at all times. That changed when guns had to be securely stored. Now you carry a gun in your truck only a hunting season, of course without ammunition.
    And if you park your truck? Then you “store” your gun and the rules of safe storage apply.

  32. kraut says

    BTW – having hunted for over thirty years now, I have yet to encounter a Canadian or European hunter that feels the need for an automatic rifle, or would even advocate the use (which is prohibited anyway) of an automatic rifle for hunting.

    So, please enlighten me, my dear friends to the south – why is there any need for an ordinary citizen to own an automatic weapon?
    Do American laws permit the use of automatic rifles for hunting? All I can say to that is – you are fucking lousy shots or incompetent hunters.
    I have yet to kill any animal with more than five shots. Moose, Blackbear mainly.
    And my magazines holds only three plus one in the breach when I hunt, plus a pouch with ten more for backup.

  33. says

    Well Ok. I’ll explain then. Its all about comfort levels and what you were raised to think normal is. As a non american, I admit to not knowing as much about your society as you do, but from the outside in, it seems to me that your problem is not access to firearms, bullets or high capacity magazines. It seems that your problem is that you are more prone to violence. It doesn’t seem that the problem comes from the possibility of using a firearm in a crime, but rather that you do disproportionatly to the rest of the world use firearms in crimes. Despite the best efforts of misguided and zealous anti gun lobbies in Canada, we do have regular access to firearms and can use them to solve disputes; we choose not too. We are a rich country like you, with a powerful industrial base and scientific sector. We could also have a 500,000 man army with 12 aircraft carriers and nukes. We choose not too. Not because we’ve banned it, simply because we decided to be known for other things, to not act that way. Our current guns laws come from 1997. We did not become the way we are in 1997. We’ve always been this way. SOme of it is historical for sure. You had a million people die in a civil war, our civil war ( the mackenzie and papineau affair) started and ended with two guys getting drunk in a bar on Ontario. We too split from england and formed our own confederacy, but we simply sent them a letter rather engage in a war. They signed it. Its your unwavering readiness to solve problems and disputes violently as people, and as a people that makes you as dangerous as you are. Its not the availability of a gun, IMHO. But lets talk firearms for a sec, cause thats what sparked this and I’ll get off my soapbox as the truth is our nation has blackeyes of its own that we ought to be embarrased about (treatment of natives comes to mind, internment of japanese, chinese head tax, komagata maru, and the fact that until 6 years ago two folks who love each other couldn’t get married if both had a penis or a vagina, etc etc.)

    First of all, up north you can get some non restricted firearms with more than three rounds. Most shotguns have room for five in the tube. However, if your going to use it hunting, you must restrict it to three rounds. I have a 303 lee enfield that came factory designed with 5 round mags. Perfectly legal, but I can’t hunt with it or take it anywhere but the range. Making your firearms comply with these laws is very easy. You can do this by using a wooden plug in the mag tube ( looks like a chopstick with a rubber band on the end). Restricted ( pistols ) can have ten and restricted rifles ( ar-15 variants for example ) can have five. The magazines must be rendered incapable of carrying more, not simply a restriction on how many bullets you wish to put in. Getting your mags pinned by a gun smith complies with the law, and sellers must sell firearms and mags that comply with the law. Has this stopped criminals from acquiring these items that are banned and using them in crimes? What do you think? How bout registration? When it came out, it cost me 300 bucks to register everything. Did people stop getting shot with unregistered weapons? Of course not. Did they stop getting shot with registered weapons? Of course not. All that happened was a gun tax ( which is what the government of the day wanted in the first place ) in the form of registration fees. And a brand new government office was created to manage all the information, which they then proceeded to leak all over the place. In the case of murders with registered weapons, the victims of the families found solace in knowing which factory built the gun and who the legitimate owners were before it was used in a crime, right? Fantastic.

    My comparison of firearms to drugs in the previous message was done for a reason. Indeed you are bright enough to see that a gun is not a plant, thanks for the hot tip. However for the purposes of this conversation the similiarities are present, and you know it. Both are items with a legitimate legal use, both are highly sought after and traded by criminals, possession of both can make a teenager seem cool, both are used in crimes and can be the source of crimes, both have been banned at various times in history and yet both have survived those bans, even thrived under them. Both create jobs, legal and illegal. And for both banning them fails. It was mentioned that a ban could make them harder to get as they’d be more expensive. Much like Timothy McVeigh worried about his credit card bill for all the ammonium nitrate he purchased right… Criminals don’t care. They simply steal more to get it, creating more crime not less in the acquision. THis kid that did this offense just bought 6000 rounds of ammunion. Even at cut rate prices or buying reloads thats almost 2 grand in ammo, would a 50% spike in magazine cost worry him? While caught red handed with the weapons after, would the fact that a serial number can be traced to him affect his thinking one bit, or make anyone inside less dead? This is classic head in the sand thinking. THis is armchair quarterbacking, suggesting ideas about something you know nothing about.

    I do agree with the assertion that no one needs these weapons. There is no “but”, i flat out agree. No one citizen needs a dog, a motorbike, two cars, a pilots license either. If the highest speed limit in the country is 80 mph, lets force all car owners at their own expense to bring their cars in and put restricting governors on their engines to cap them all at 85, cause hey I’d feel better. No one needs a car that can do 90. At least I don’t, so lets pass a law that you can’t either. And when that does nothing to prevent car deaths lets pass more laws lowering it to 85, then 70, then 65 etc. All people with car collections can only have the shell, lets pour concrete in the engines and weld them to the floor so they can’t be stolen and used in crimes. As rediculous as this sounds, it sounds that way only to people that have grown comfortable with cars but uncomfortable with guns. Not everyone is like you. Lots of us are comfortable with guns, find them safe as objects, respect the harm they can have when handled improperly and use them legally.

    If you want to stop some violent crime, because as long as human being roam the earth there will always be some, then you have to stop hiding the truth. You can not fix what you do not acknowledge. Start profiling, do it all the time and allow the police to act on it. If your willing to give up a right, allow the police to follow every chat site and blog known to man. That would actually stop criminals before acts are carried out. But no, we won’t consider restrictions like these, thats too much uncle sam in our lives. Crimes are committed every day ( think wall street ) over iphones blackberries and computers. These crimes cause evil and death, lots of it. But we don’t suggest removing these from society because of two reasons; we personally are OK with them, and we don’t personally use them in harmful ways. When an Iranian cleric gets on the news telling us they are evil and we should ban them, we laugh him off as silly and don’t give him the time of day. What does he know?

    Banning doesn’t work. More indepth, scrupulous study of those at the beginning of the licensing process works. Thats been proven to catch people and prevent ownership by crazy people. Punishments for gun crime that don’t match the crime, but drastically over match the offence; that works. Taking the gloves of the police. Let them snoop in my online activities and yours. Let them wiretap known offenders. Force judges to impose hard minimum sentences. Essentially, target the offenders. Profile, all the time, relentlessly. That will reduce gun crime. Tell the country that tommorow Mini-14s are banned because hey, what do you need one for anyhow? Complete fail. Good luck with that.

    Liberty goes both ways. As I said before, those that subscribe to this site and ones like it normally come down on the side of liberty. That means you support freedom, and the lack of ability of others to tell you what you can do, provided your actions don’t limit same in others. If you want the liberties that you hold dear to be protected, you have to support those liberties for others regardless of whether that freedom is one you choose to exercise.

  34. bsk says

    Just thought I’d quickly mention that this whole debate sounds completely ridiculous to a European.

  35. jo1storm says

    The other was too over the top to answer to (yes, I also wonder why the speed dial on the car goes over the highest speed limit. It is not important).

    Banning doesn’t work. More indepth, scrupulous study of those at the beginning of the licensing process works. Thats been proven to catch people and prevent ownership by crazy people. Punishments for gun crime that don’t match the crime, but drastically over match the offence; that works. Taking the gloves of the police. Let them snoop in my online activities and yours. Let them wiretap known offenders. Force judges to impose hard minimum sentences. Essentially, target the offenders. Profile, all the time, relentlessly. That will reduce gun crime. Tell the country that tommorow Mini-14s are banned because hey, what do you need one for anyhow? Complete fail. Good luck with that.

    Yes, banning does work. If you forbid weapon industry to sell weapons or 100 round clips to people (instead of to organizations, including ranges, police and army), the effect will be that industry will not be as profitable and that industry will adapt to new regulations.

    The guy should have run afoul of safe storage laws the moment he ordered a few thousand rounds of ammo and so should have the organization that sold them to him.

    Hell, here’s a hypothetical situation to you. Forbid ownership of semi-automatic and automatic guns to anyone but organizations. If you want to own such a thing, you have to own a gun range and go through laws for safe storage of guns and ammo such an organization has to obey. If you want to close a gun range, you have to sell such a weapon to government for 90% of it’s original price. Failure to do so means years of imprisonment. Same goes for clips that can store more rounds than dictated by law (5,8, whatever. Never more than 10). Owner has to own shooting range, has the right to carry to shooting range and between repair shop and range. Everyone found to own such a weapon and not owning shooting range gets severe penalty.

    Selling of such things to private owners (not the organizations) calls severe penalties on corporations and private owners doing it.

    What will that accomplish? In a year or two, there will be lot more shooting ranges opened up, the sales to companies (owners of the shooting ranges) would rise, the sales to general populace would drop. The sales of state allowed weapons to civilians would raise.

    No one says that banning weapons completely is what should be done. Banning certain weapons, on the other hand… See minigun ban.

  36. says

    Or the other big one: why is everyone so blasé about this killing spree?

    Well, for me personally, while events like this are tragic and terrifying, in terms of the human cost of our gun-obsessed culture/weak gun regulation, it’s small potatoes. It’s not the aberrant lone gunman that causes the real carnage: it’s the jilted spouse acting on impulsive rage; it’s the unlocked gun cabinet that your 11-year-old son finds his way into; it’s the convenience store hold-up gone awry; it’s the spur-of-the-moment suicides that would have been avoided if the distressed person had been forced to think it over for 30 more seconds. If you’ll excuse my play on the popular NRA slogan: Crazed maniacs don’t kill (many) people, ordinary people kill people.

    Not that it doesn’t make it worthwhile to try and prevent events like this. The easy availability of assault weaponry and scads of ammunition has basically no justification(*), and getting rid of that would make events like this incredibly rare. But when it comes to gun violence, these aren’t the events that get me worked up, because — not to trivialize, but it’s true — they are really just a blip on the radar. There are other problems related to guns that kill thousands per year.

    * I recognize it’s kinda fun for some folks to fire off an assault rifle, and I admit I’d probably get a kick out of it myself if presented with the opportunity… If I Were King(TM), I’d like to see it so that you can basically “own” most any kind of weapon you want and fire it off only within reasonable environmental limitations, BUT it has to be kept at all times at a special federally-regulated shooting range with tight controls to ensure all the assault weaponry stays on the premises at all times. That way, you get your fun, while minimizing the danger of a rampage like this. It doesn’t help the survivalist nuts, but I don’t really want to help them anyway… :D

  37. says

    To clarify things a bit I’ve seen no indication Holmes had a fully automatic weapon. His rifle was apparently some make of AR15, a semiautomatic rifle. Fully automatic weapons are legal in most US states, but are strictly controlled under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and subsequent legislation. All such weapons are registered with the BATFE(Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). To obtain one you must have passed an extensive background check, have your photo and fingerprints on file with the BATFE, and have the required documents signed by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in your jurisdiction. Each sale of such a weapon requires the payment of a 200 buck tax, and transporting such weapons across state lines requires BATFE permission.

    Owning fully automatic weapons is increasingly a rich man’s hobby. A 1986 law prohibits further production or importation of automatic weapons for private ownership, so the existing stock of such weapons is fixed and the prices are gradually going up.

    No, no one goes hunting with them. People do shoot them. For example there’s at least one shooting range in Las Vegas that has automatic weapons available for rent. And there’s the bi-annual Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot in Knob Creek, Kentucky.

  38. mildlymagnificent says

    bsk@36

    Just thought I’d quickly mention that this whole debate sounds completely ridiculous to a European.

    For this Australian, the only expression that comes to mind is ‘mad as a box of frogs’.

    The argument seems completely ludicrous jumping backwards and forwards from one untenable position to half a dozen others on a trampoline of tightly stretched silliness.

  39. No Light says

    I’m with BSK & MildlyMagnificent – the inmates have taken over the asylum.

    I’m British. I’ve been told this week that the UK has had a 300% rise in violent crime, that guns are banned (haha, no) and yet people are being shot left, right, and centre, and that gun gun control doesn’t work.

    It’s all wrong. Even if it were true, and there was a gun crime every week, nobody would say “Hey! What we need is looser restrictions on guns. If more people had guns then they wouldn’t get shot!”

    It’s the bizarre attitude that bothers me.

  40. says

    Maybe the reason that people are blase about this shooting is that from a statistical perspective it hardly makes a blip on the total number of gun deaths in the USA each year. Stats vary a bit but there were around 12,000 gun deaths classified as homicides in the USA in 2009. Meanwhile instead of talking about guns the media seems to be focusing on the idea of banning costumes in movie theaters. Beyond insane.

  41. says

    I’m sitting here with a Springfield XDM semi-automatic pistol loaded with Remington 165-grain Golden Sabre hollow points, less than a foot from my shooting hand. I’m a former Marine, and I did some marksmanship coaching while I was on active duty. I still go to the range on a regular basis, and I’m still a great shot even though I need glasses now.

    I’m here to tell you: more guns in that theater would have gotten more people killed. Claiming that hunters in general would have needed or even bothered with any of the weapons that this shooter carried is a flat-out lie. A .223 round has too much penetration for most small game and is too light for big game. You’d maybe use it for hunting prairie dog but not much else. Smaller magazines do make a difference, because people are generally crap at reloading and since these shooting sprees tend to only last a few minutes every couple of seconds of hesitation would likely mean one less person shot. Plus, he’s wearing body armor and most of us people who carry are packing hollow points which won’t penetrate armor at all. Maybe you slow him down, and maybe you miss by an inch and shoot the person running behind him. And maybe the cops shoot you too, since anyone with a gun out in a theater is assumed to be a threat.

  42. typecaster says

    First, I want to be clear that I think that stronger restrictions on firearms are legitimate, badly needed, and do not in any noticeable way infringe on anyone’s True Liberty. However, I do need to object to lazy, emotional outbursts. Most particularly:

    The same cannot be said for guns which have no function but the infliction of injury and death.

    Really? I’ve done target and skeet shooting, and somehow the guns actually did function quite well, even though there was absolutely no injury or death involved. On that basis alone, your blanket statement seems to be… incorrect.

    You don’t specify whether you mean human injury and death primarily, or if this includes uses such as hunting, which I’ve also done without human casualties. (Hunted for the freezer, I have very little sympathy for trophy hunters.) If you’re an anti-hunter and include those reasons in you denunciation, I apologize for the digression.

  43. Jamie says

    As an Australian who finds the gun culture in the US as frightening as it is baffling, can someone tell me this – is there a legitimate use for an AR-15, or a legitimate reason for a law abiding citizen to own one?

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