It’s a fair fight, but it’s hard fought

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar seems to be doing all the right things in congress — I’ll definitely be voting for her again, and also for Al Franken. All of you from states with less progressive representation can’t imagine how good it feels to actually have politicians in office who do good, rather than providing embarrassing soundbites. One of her latest efforts is a bill to close loopholes in background checks for gun sales.

For women, domestic violence is the greatest risk factor associated with guns. According to Everytown, “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered,” and some Center for Disease Control statistics suggest more than 50 percent of female homicides are attributable to intimate partner violence.

Klobuchar’s bill, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, would close gaping holes in background check laws that don’t bar gun ownership by abusive dating partners rather than spouses, and don’t incorporate many stalking crimes.

This is a popular bill — polls show that the electorate, even the responsible gun owning electorate, thinks it’s a good idea to keep guns out of the hands of your local angry bully. But as you might guess, the NRA opposes it, and they’ve got a few politicians in their pocket who’ve also been told to kill the bill, or similar bills in their home states.

And that’s where it gets interesting and uncomfortable. Democrats are fighting back. Not Klobuchar directly, but three states are running an ad right now to highlight the use of guns in domestic abuse — three states with three states with Republican shills for the NRA.

The thing is that the ad they’re running portrays a fairly common domestic abuse scenario, and it is terrifying. It was a punch in the gut for me, and I’m a guy who’s never been in this kind of situation, ever, so I’m warning you: if you’ve ever had a stalker or abuser, this is an extremely potent video.

Maybe this is what we need to do more of — slap people in the face with the horror of what our irresponsible gun policies do to people. My one concern is that there may actually be people who sympathize with the man in this ad, rather than the woman.


  1. laurentweppe says

    Expect the manufacturers lackeys to come and whine:
    But if She had a Gun, she would have been saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe

  2. says

    @ #1: It happens. And given the choice, I’d rather see the abuser get shot than the victim.
    I do understand why people want to protect themselves, and in the hands of a trained professional a gun could save your life. But most people aren’t trained to handle such situations, so for the vast majority the chances are that you’ll only provide the abuser with a gun if he didn’t already had one and the perfect rationale for escalating the situation.

  3. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Re @1:
    Yes … waiting for the mantra, “An armed society is a polite society.” That no one would ever even think of abusing an armed woman. NRA: “Loopholes in background checks(?); inconceivable! Background checks are the problem, they obstruct letting everyone be armed; to protect themselves from getting punched.”

  4. says

    Erlend Meyer: You’d rather see the abuser get shot? Fuck off. The way the abuser would get shot is in a tangled flurry of fighting and gunfire with a child caught in the middle.

    And don’t give me that “trained professional” bullshit.

  5. burgundy says

    Even if everyone knew how to use a gun properly, and even if it were guaranteed that no bystanders would get shot, and even if we could be absolutely sure that all dangerous situations would turn out the way the gun fans say it would…

    …I think that any society that says only people willing to be killers deserve to be safe is a failed society.

  6. says


    …I think that any society that says only people willing to be killers deserve to be safe is a failed society.

    That’s an angle I’d never even considered. I’ve never been a gun owner. Hell, I’ve never touched a gun. Don’t have any desire to. If the situation arose, and I was fighting for my life or the lives of others, and the aggressor was killed as a result,, it might be justified, but that would still tear me apart. I don’t ever want to kill another human being.

  7. says

    @ PZ: My bad, I was trying to say that if somebody has to die I’d rather see the abuser dead than the victim. But of course I’d rather see both alive. Death may not be avoidable in all situations, but it should not be considered a “win”.

    I think burgundy is on to something in #6, it seems like the NRA only want security (if you can call it that) for those willing and capable of fighting themselves, and preferably to the death.

  8. joel says

    Count me as yet another supporter of gun rights who hates the NRA. There are responsible gun users, and there are gun fanatics, and at every turn – like this one – the NRA supports the fanatics.

  9. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Shut the fuck up and watch the video.
    And then preferably don’t come back to talk about responsible gun owners.

  10. says

    @ Tony #8: I might have owned guns for more than half my life, but I still haven’t felt any urge to kill another person. In fact I am pretty sure I wouldn’t handle it well even if it was justifiable, the very thought makes me queasy. This is how most of us are wired, and the reason we live in a reasonable peaceful time.

  11. David Marjanović says

    This confirms my hypothesis that American doors are purely decorative: they can be kicked in.

  12. gog says

    @David #13

    Construction quality varies. Cheap doors will break around the lock. Bad framing will split and let go of latch plates. My door has been kicked in several times (the house was once occupied by petty criminals) and the frame is shot. Nobody’s tried to break in since I’ve been here, though. My hope is that if it were to happen my dog would freak out enough to alert the neighbors and scare off the intruder.

    My street doesn’t have a very high rate of property crime, though. Violent crime, on the other hand… well, living across the street from a disreputable business makes night time on the weekend interesting.

  13. The Mellow Monkey says

    burgundy @ 6

    I think that any society that says only people willing to be killers deserve to be safe is a failed society.

    Well put.

  14. says

    @ gog: You have my sympathy.
    A dog sounds like an excellent companion, unlike guns they provide both company and security (the latter depends on the dog though). A well constructed door that swings out is another good investment, as David points out a door that can be kicked in is only decorative.

  15. says

    The sad thing is, due to overlap there are a large number of folks who would see this outcome as a good thing. Uppity woman calling on the government for help and trying to keep a man’s kid away from him gets shot in the face? For a lot of gun-fondlers, that’s the kind of thing they want to see. Now, if you made the guy a black man… but no, then they’d figure she’d have it coming for dating a black man in the first place….

    What you really need is a crazy woman, preferably a minority, lying in wait to shoot a big tough guy in the face when he least expects it. That’s the kind of thing that might help them get the idea… but probably not, since their mental image of themselves would have them as the faster draw.

    Legally, doors have to open inwards. I think the actual reason behind this is so cops have an easier time kicking them down. In theory, it’s because it’s supposedly easier to ‘brace’ the door against an intruder and to prevent people from barring the door shut to keep someone inside, but what actually happens more often is in an emergency situation people have more trouble getting out.

  16. says

    “Legally, doors have to open inwards”
    I did not know that. Here in Norway nearly all doors open outwards (except apartment buildings etc), it makes for a far stronger door.

  17. unclefrogy says

    I think that the art work is very appropriate for the message of pro-open carry. The drawings look just like paper cut out figures which mirrors the ridiculous reasoning and make believe people that the pro gun lobby is trying to convince us is reality.
    In thinking about the art and the hand drawing or not drawing just look at the central figure’s pinky seems just a little over sized to me.
    there is a reason most cartoon characters only have 4 digits.
    uncle frogy

  18. chigau (違う) says

    Standard doors have hinges with an easily removable pin holding the two halves of the hinge together.
    If you remove the pins, you can remove the door.
    Who wants that on the door to your house?

  19. Al Dente says

    WithinThisMind @18

    Legally, doors have to open inwards.

    Citation needed. The outer doors on my house open outwards. This puts the hinges on the inside, where they can’t be dismantled by someone trying to break in. Also doors on public buildings must open outwards to allow an unblocked exit in case of fire or other emergency.

  20. The Mellow Monkey says

    WithinThisMind @ 18

    Legally, doors have to open inwards.

    I’d be willing to believe there are some places in the USA that have such a building code for private residences, because some places can have goofy codes. However, it’s certainly not a blanket rule across the country. I have an outswing door on my house and I highly doubt Home Depot would be selling outswing doors if they were illegal.

  21. says

    “If you remove the pins, you can remove the door.”
    Sure, but doors that open inwards are inherently weaker against a forced attack. The hinges can be made so they cannot be easily removed, and you can also install extra stoppers to prevent the back to be swung out.

    Point is: It isn’t hard to make a good door, we have the technology.

  22. joel says

    Beatrice (#11): Target shooting is an Olympic sport, in both summer and winter games. The 2012 Olympics had 15 shooting events. Europeans dominated the medaling, though there was a liberal sprinkling of Koreans and Chinese as well. Are they all irresponsible?

    Guns are toys. Like monster trucks or speedboats or mountain bikes or race cars. Toys. I do NOT believe that guns protect homes or (gawd help us) defend liberty. They are just toys. Many aspects of gun culture in the US scare the shit out of me, and there’s no denying the racist aspect of that culture as seen in the spike in gun and ammo sales after our nation’s first black president was elected. The US would be much better off with far fewer guns.

    But to deny *any* sort of responsible gun use is absurd, unless you also deny any responsible use of, say, race cars.

    BTW, of course I watched the video. Sheesh.

  23. PDX_Greg says

    #22, Al Dente, you must have a different kind of hinge on your doors. Every home door I have ever observed has the hinges on the same side that the door opens towards. So, door opens to the inside, hinges on the inside.

  24. says

    For residential buildings, yes, doors have to open inwards. The outer screen or security door can open outwards, but the main door has to open inwards. At least that’s what the code was in the decade and states in which I built houses.

  25. illdoittomorrow says

    Like WithinThisMind, every exterior residential door I’ve ever seen opened inwards and had its (removable) hinge pins on the inside. I’ve seen some solid doors on commercial buildings that opened outward- they have different hinges with non-removable pins.

    I don’t buy an outward-opening door being stronger- if I had to defeat one, I’d just drive a pry bar between the jamb and the door and lever it open, which would take a lot less physical effort than kicking it. When I worked in demolition in my early 20’s, I tried kicking in a few solid-core doors- it’s harder, and hurts more, than one would think.

    Anyway, sorry for the long derail… I really hope Senator Klochubar’s bill passes.

  26. says

    Yeah, if you are going for strong, you want an outward opening security door and an inward opening solid core door combination, with in both cases the actual lock being reinforced on both the door and the jam, as well as the jam being secured with longer, heavy duty screws. And a dog. All of which is safer, more effective, cheaper, less likely to be turned on you or discharge ‘accidentally’, and better looking than a gun. And in the case of the dog, also functions as convenient homework disposal. You’d also want cops that get off their butts and actually respond to a domestic disturbance and enforce restraining orders instead of finishing their coffee and showing up when/if they get around to it.

    This design still won’t stop someone determined, as in most modern homes with an axe and 30 seconds I’d just come in via the wall. But if a person that intent doing harm is coming at you, they’ll most likely have a gun or some other heavy artillery. And did you know that bullets just go through walls? Apparently, many gun owners don’t.

    A much more workable solution is to examine the root causes of crime and work to eliminate those – poverty, entitlement mentalities, and the ‘war on drugs’.

  27. Rob R says

    No, to play up to the sensibilities of these people, the ad would have to be like:

    Woman walks up to a man unloading his 8-poink buck from the back of his pickup truck and shoots him in the head, then gets on her phone and calls the police to claim that he raped her. Everyone believes her, so she gets all his stuff and sells it all in order to buy birth control pills, sleep around with a bunch of black men, and get a bunch of abortions. At the end, she calls her parents to tell them her plan worked perfectly, and her parents are two gay Muslims.

  28. jste says

    Joel, #26:

    Guns are toys. Like monster trucks or speedboats or mountain bikes or race cars. Toys.

    Fuck that noise. Guns are WEAPONS. Specifically designed to harm, maim, and kill. I have no problem with responsible gun owners. But that means, at a bare minimum, separate safes for gun and ammo whenever the gun is not at the shooting range. And being smart enough to know the difference between toys and weapons.

  29. Suido says

    Guns are toys.

    Nope. That’s a bullshit sales pitch, advertised to Real MenTM by gun manufacturers and lad’s mags.

    Do better.

  30. Eirik van der Meer says

    Guns are toys
    This statement could use some elaboration. While anything used for recreational purposes can be labeled a “toy” (the difference between boys and men are the size of their toys), the word “toy” also implies something harmless and suitable for children. And in this sense guns are certainly not toys, they are dangerous devices that must be treated with the utmost care.

    I do consider my guns “toys” in the same sense that my motorcycle is a toy. Just because it’s entertaining doesn’t mean I play around irresponsibly.

  31. says

    While serving in the military, I spent some time as an assistant small arms instructor.

    I’m a bloody good shot, or I was 30 years ago, and based on some archery I did recently, I think I could still do it pretty well. I’ve been in many fights and beatings in my life (out queer activist in the early 90s, for the latest spate), so I’m no stranger at all to situations of high intensity. The Stirling SMG was my particular favourite, though I was a fair shot with the FN rifle as well. Didn’t do much pistol, ammo was always short for that.

    Anyway, I know my way around firearms, and I’m not unfamiliar with fights. I also, I can say because our local statute of limitations has long run out, used to do a little burglary in getting through school and university. And if you want to keep a burglar out? Get a dog. Seriously, anything that can make a dog-like noise. Yes, I was always aware that most housepet dogs are not dangerous, but security is never about absolute keep-out. It’s about being relatively less easy. If you have a dog, and your neighbour doesn’t, all else equal, guess whose house I’m after? It was wrong, yes, but poverty and a powerful need for education, so please to high-horse dismount.

    And I would NEVER keep a firearm in my house in any sort of easily fireable condition. At the most, if I were competition shooting or something, I’d keep ammo and dissambled weapon in separate rooms, each in their own safe. But since I know, from having been pretty sure already back then, and even surer now, that I’d have a very hard time pulling a trigger knowing I could end a life, there’d be less than no point having it, because even if I were somehow to get it from safe to lethal in time, I don’t think I could do it.

    I’ve fought, literally, for my life more than once. And I know that the only time I stepped over my line, that I went from victim to avenger as I came out on top, I sickened myself just during the act, and 20+ years later, I still find it so revolting I can’t watch similar scenes on TV.

    Given that, the odds that such a weapon would be taken from me and used by someone who is already willing to violate my boundaries badly enough to be in my home without my permission, and thus used in a way I couldn’t bring myself to do, makes the weapon a distinct liability.

    And that leaves aside the absurd rates of death and injury by accident and suicide.

    Long arms? Maybe, for hunters, or farmers, who can have a legitimate need (leaving aside the whole is hunting moral thing), and prove serious safe storage.

    But handguns in public hands lead to plantings in public lands. It’s just that simple. We see it everywhere it’s tried.

  32. Monsanto says

    It’s ironic that that Gun Nuts Inc. are promoting this same video. Check out one of your favorites, Tim Schmidt at USCCA. Maybe you missed the other video:

  33. says

    Eirik @38:

    This statement could use some elaboration. While anything used for recreational purposes can be labeled a “toy” (the difference between boys and men are the size of their toys), the word “toy” also implies something harmless and suitable for children. And in this sense guns are certainly not toys, they are dangerous devices that must be treated with the utmost care.

    I disagree on the need for elaboration (though not with your further analysis, which is spot on). Part of the problem in the United States is that people do not take guns and gun ownership seriously. This is reflected in the mentality that says “guns are toys”. They are NOT toys in any sense of the word. They are deadly weapons designed to cause death and destruction. That they can be used for target practice (which still falls under destruction) doesn’t negate their deadly nature. Referring to them as toys does not treat them as the deadly weapons they are and I’d seriously question whether someone who thinks they are toys should ever be allowed near one.

  34. says

    What happened to the notion of making gun owners have to carry liability insurance to buy ammunition? Seems like I heard it thrown out there after one of the recent mass shootings and it seems to me like it would be a good way to make the “responsible” gun owners put their money where their mouth is.