Sensible gun control laws

People who oppose any changes in the absurdly easy access to massively powerful guns in the US act as if this is some immensely complicated and intractable problem. That is utterly false, an image created to discourage attempts at reform. The fact that other countries have managed to pass laws that limit gun ownership while still allowing people to have them and have nowhere near the level of gun deaths that we have in the US shows that the problem can be meaningfully addressed.

Let me start by dismissing the main argument of the gun nuts, and that is that the Second Amendment to the US constitution is an insurmountable barrier to setting any limits. That is utter rubbish. Even religious gun nuts must know that the amendment is not something that was handed down by their God to Moses on Mount Sinai however much they might try to act like it was. It was created and interpreted by humans and anything that humans make, they can unmake. The constitution was designed to be amended and constitutional amendments have been passed and repealed and re-interpreted many times in the past and there is no reason why this amendment should be any different. Making changes requires political actions and political will and thus gun control should be viewed as a political problem that requires marshaling enough support for reform of the laws and the constitution if necessary. I grant that it will not be easy but it can be done, although the NRA and its supporters, as part of their propaganda campaign, try to give the impression that it would be impossible. Gun reform advocates should gain confidence from the fact that majorities of people support some reform of gun laws.

The second point I want to address is the impression given by gun nuts that only people who are familiar with all the arcana of weaponry are qualified to have an opinion on what should be done about guns, as if one needs to know the precise differences between an AR-15 and an AK-47 or between an automatic weapon, a semi-automatic weapon, and the like. They will seize upon some slight error in wording made by supporters of gun restrictions to act as if that disqualifies them from saying anything. Let me state right out that I am not a gun owner, except for a BB gun I had when I was a child. I do not know much about guns and do not intend to spend much time studying it. But I reject out of hand any suggestion that this disqualifies me from making suggestions in broad terms as to what can be done. When it comes to actually drafting specific legislation, there will be plenty of experts who can fill in the details based on precise knowledge. So gun nuts can save their breaths and spare me the patronizing comments about my ignorance of guns. It is irrelevant and besides, I do not give a damn.

My approach to gun control reform is that we should not start with a blanket entitlement to guns and then start limiting them down because that leads to tedious arguments as to why people should be denied access to each and every type of weapon. Instead we should start from the ground up, by specifying the categories of people who can be reasonably entitled to ownership of guns and then tailor the types of guns and the rules for their availability around their needs. Every other type of weapon would be excluded.

So who are the people who might be reasonably entitled to guns?

One category of people who should have access to guns is obviously people for whom hunting animals is a source of food. Another is those who live in areas where they need to protect their livestock and even themselves from predatory animals. There are also those who shoot guns as a competitive sport and a test of skill at shooting ranges of various kinds. There are those who have specific fears for their safety because of their personal situation and may need some kind of weapon as protection, even if on a temporary basis. There are those who are collectors of guns. There will also be those who have unique circumstances that do not fit into any broad category but those people will have to be treated on a case-by-case basis. The main point is that it is the person seeking to have a gun who has to make the case for it. It should not be an automatic right.

The above are the categories of reasonable ownership that come to mind but there may be categories that I have overlooked that can be added to the list. There will of course be those who act in bad faith and try to find loopholes to get access to guns even if they do not fall into those categories, and that has to be guarded against.

What is clear is that while these categories may require different types of guns, none of them require the kind of military-grade weapons like the AR-15s that seem to have become the weapon of choice for mass murderers. None of them require guns that can fire rapidly and come with large magazines that seem to be designed to inflict the maximum number of casualties on human beings in the shortest possible time. And when I say maximum damage, even I was shocked at what they can do, that they can obliterate bodies beyond recognition, so much that DNA is required to identify them.

AS PARENTS WAITED in anguish for news about their children following the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, they received a chilling request from police. Officers asked for DNA samples from parents to help establish the identities of the children who had been killed in the massacre, the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

The request pointed to the obvious, horrifying conclusion that many of the children who had been killed were so grievously injured that it was likely impossible to identify their bodies.

How we got here should be obvious: the AR-15 rifle.

Much has been made of how easily the killer, Salvador Ramos, strode into a store and bought two AR-15s the week before the attack, an apparent birthday gift to himself. Anyone paying attention gets that the ease of purchase for such weapons — which are frequently used in mass killings — is an indication of how deep the gun problem in America runs.

It cannot be emphasized enough, however, exactly what the AR-15 is: It is a weapon of war. It was made to blow humans apart. It is successful in doing just that. The requests for DNA tests in Uvalde stand as a testament to the gun’s success, but the conclusion that the weapon excelled at blowing people apart was well documented by the U.S. military itself during early field tests.

A copy of the survey, which was published in a Gawker story by my now-colleague Sam Biddle in 2016, shows that Viet Cong fighters hit with the weapon were frequently decapitated and dismembered, many looking as though they had “exploded.” A field report documented how an AR-15 had blown up a man’s head and turned another’s torso into “one big hole.” The weapon was lauded by soldiers on the battlefield for its effectiveness at killing adversaries and even cutting through dense jungle forest.

Some of the reports on Viet Cong soldiers killed with the weapon read like a matter-of-fact recounting from a horror film: “Chest wound from right to left, destroyed the thoracic cavity,” said the description of one AR-15-inflicted wound. “Stomach wound, which caused the abdominal cavity to explode,” said another.

IT IS HARD to comprehend a weapon like this being used against small children in an elementary school. The impact of the AR-15, a tool designed not just for killing but for ripping apart adult human bodies in the most extreme manner, being turned on the small, delicate limbs and organs of young children does not need to be imagined.

In the aftermath of mass shootings targeting children, it is sometimes suggested that the public should be allowed to see the bodies. The impact of seeing actual flesh-and-blood children killed by assault rifles might shake the sensibilities of Americans enough that they enact serious changes to gun control laws that would make it less likely that AR-15s would be used again for such massacres.

Public aside, however, the reality is that the government has known for a long time what these weapons do. It has been sending AR-15s to wars abroad for decades and has documented in graphic detail the exploded and mangled corpses left behind. That such knowledge exists, and yet AR-15s are still commercially available for use by civilians in this country, tells you all you need to know about what pro-gun politicians are willing to tolerate.

Such guns clearly have no other purpose than mass murder, except in the fantasy world occupied by those who have watched too many war and action films and played far too many video games. These people are engaged in what is essentially live-action role playing and see themselves as heroes, using these weapons to defend the country against foreign invaders who will come in black helicopters as part of the UN-led One World government that is backed by a secret Jewish cabal of George Soros and Bill Gates and others who, once they take over, will then open the floodgates of immigration to people of color and eliminate the white race once and for all. (Yes, I know Gates is not Jewish but trivial inaccuracies never bother such fantasists.) Do they really think that any foreign power is going to try and invade and take over the most militarily powerful country in the world? Do they not know how ineffectual the UN is when the US opposes any actions by it? The US is a country that invades other countries, not a country that is invaded by others.

Another heroic fantasy of these people is that they will save the country from the oppression of a tyrannical US government, probably led by Soros and Gates again. This is equally absurd. In the event that the US does get an outright dictatorial, military-led government, the US military has the power to easily crush any movement that seeks to challenge it, however many ragtag militia groups there might be that are armed with assault weapons. At best, these groups can become minor guerrilla organizations occupying the remote wilds of some states.

Of course, some of these gun nuts are utterly paranoid and seem to think that any restrictions on unlimited gun ownership is meant to disarm them so that they can be rounded up and sent to concentration camps, where they will be forced to listen to lectures on Marxism given by Soros and Gates.

These assault weapons are perceived by some of their enthusiasts not as lethal weapons but as cool toys on social media, as companies make a killing from selling these killing devices and accessories.

The young man in the jeans and sunglasses proudly shows off his gun in the YouTube video, then instructs his 1 million subscribers how to fit extra ammo on his belt, and offers a chilling observation.

“Pretty cool for active shooter stuff, if you need extra mags.”

One of the companies specifically cited by the gunman sells firearm accessories and operates popular social media channels boasting hundreds of training videos. The videos cover topics like shooting from cars, assaulting a building, using gas masks while shooting, and night vision goggles.

But just restricting the range of weapons to those that people can show are necessary because they belong to the reasonable categories listed above is not enough. In addition, the following measures should also be taken. All prospective gun owners must undergo background checks and training and licensing in safe usage, just like car drivers, before they can buy one. They must get a permit to own each gun and all guns must be registered and owners must show that they have gun safes in their homes and the weapons are kept locked except when necessary. There should be a waiting period before applying for a gun and actually getting one, in order to prevent someone in a rage just walking into a store and getting a gun because they feel like shooting up some people. There should also be red flag laws that can remove guns, even if temporarily, from people who show signs that they may get violent and use them to harm themselves or others.

Finally the age restriction to owning a gun should be raised to 25 years. There have been enough studies to show that young people do not develop full emotional maturity and sound judgment until around that age. This is why when it comes to renting a car, rental companies levy a hefty surcharge to those under 25 because their insurance underwriters know that such people are more prone to poor judgments that can result in accidents. The consequences of poor judgment when in possession of a gun can be even more lethal than driving a car.

These suggestions for controlling the types and number of weapons are routinely done in other countries. Take for example, gun laws in New Zealand.

Nearly 300,000 licensed firearm owners own and use New Zealand’s estimated 1.5 million firearms. Gun licences are issued at the discretion of the police provided they consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues; as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. Several different categories of licence are permitted, with the most common, “A Category”, permitting access to sporting configuration rifles and shotguns.

Tighter regulation was imposed immediately after the Aramoana massacre in 1990, the Scottish Dunblane and Australian Port Arthur massacres in 1996. After the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019, legislation to restrict semi-automatic firearms and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, and provide an amnesty and buyback of such weapons was introduced and passed by the New Zealand parliament 119 to 1.

Meanwhile, Canada has proposed a freeze on the sale of all handguns.

Canada should introduce a total ban on the buying and selling of all handguns, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

His government is proposing a new law that would freeze private ownership of all short-barrelled firearms.

Canada already has stricter rules on gun ownership than its southern neighbour and records fewer firearm incidents every year.

For example, all guns must be kept locked and unloaded and anyone wishing to buy a firearm must undergo extensive background checks.

But there have been calls in recent years to tighten gun legislation there even further, especially following a number of deadly shootings.

In April 2020, a gunman posing as a police officer killed 22 people during a shooting spree in Nova Scotia – the deadliest in Canada’s history.

Within days, Mr Trudeau announced an immediate ban on 1,500 different kinds of military-grade and assault-style weapons.

None of these restrictions would in any way hinder the people belonging to the above categories from carrying out of any of their preferred activities, except possibly for a slight delay in starting them. What is important is that these measures are not just aimed at reducing mass murders using assault weapons, because the truth is that those events, horrifying as they are, represent just a small fraction of all the gun deaths in the US. The main problem is much bigger and has to be addressed head-on.

In 2020, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Though they tend to get less public attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. In 2020, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (24,292), while 43% were murders (19,384), according to the CDC.

Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) U.S. murders in 2020 – 19,384 out of 24,576 – involved a firearm.

In 2020, handguns were involved in 59% of the 13,620 U.S. gun murders and non-negligent manslaughters for which data is available, according to the FBI. Rifles – the category that includes guns sometimes referred to as “assault weapons” – were involved in 3% of firearm murders. Shotguns were involved in 1%. The remainder of gun homicides and non-negligent manslaughters (36%) involved other kinds of firearms or those classified as “type not stated.”

There is nothing outlandish or unrealistic about any of the proposals I have suggested. They are not even original. I am sure that those who are serious scholars of gun control would have even better and more comprehensive suggestions. I just wanted to show that any ordinary person can come up with common-sense suggestions to limit the scandalous level of gun-related deaths in the US.

On his latest show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver examines one of the most popular suggestions by the gun nuts, that what is needed to stop school shootings is to have more armed police in school buildings. As usual, he looks at the evidence and concludes that not only do they not help, they make things worse overall in so many ways. As he says at the end, “School police are not the answer to school shootings. The answer to that is gun control.”


  1. says

    The 2nd can be infringed upon the same way the fascists infringed upon abortion. They just won’t. I.e: “gun stores can only be open on wednesdays from 11:00-3:00pm” “you need 6 months to have a background check to buy a gun” it would be so easy to make buying a gun a huge pain in the ass. Then: “you must carry your anmo in a different vehicle than your gun” let me at ’em, I could make the most mind-poppingly enraging rules.

  2. Tim H. says

    The AR-15 has a design defect, it will accept a magazine intended for an M-16, allowing “Ammosexuals” to cosplay as soldiers. A nearly Mil-spec design should require military discipline to own and operate… if they need more than one round to take down game, they need to source their portion at a supermarket.

  3. Holms says

    1. “I’m not a second amendment nut, all I’m asking for is for people to describe the sort of legislation they think would have an effect if passed.”
    2. “Won’t work…
    …you used ‘assault rifle’ without knowing facts A, B and C about rifles. Your suggestion is invalidated.”
    …you didn’t write it to the level of detail I secretly wanted.’
    …I disagree with this passage of one of the studies you cited in support of this law, therefore all studies you cited are bunk.”
    …it will never get through the Senate.”
    …yeah but second amendment.”


    3. “Well I asked for simple suggestions but no one delivered. I guess the problem is intractable after all.”

  4. sonofrojblake says

    Ammo tax, $20/bullet,payable only in cash, at a specific office, open 11-2 Tuesdays.

    All firearms (including police weapons, but not armed forces) MUST be painted pink or fluorescent orange mass have a helium balloon with GUN written on it floating from the end of the barrel on a 1 metre string.

    Come on, more suggestions!

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    In the aftermath of mass shootings targeting children, it is sometimes suggested that the public should be allowed to see the bodies.

    In Canada, cigarette packages are ‘decorated’ with photos of what smoking can do to one’s body. I suggest imprinting photos of mangled children’s bodies on the packaging and stocks of AR-15 and similar guns sold in the States. I’d also suggest forcing politicians who vote against gun laws to look at these pictures, but “freedumb” and all that…

  6. anat says

    Also, once one owns a gun of any kind, one is 100% responsible for any use of said gun. If anyone gains access to your gun with or without your permission, any outcome of that is on you as well as on them. Reduced penalty under some limited circumstances (say someone was holding your kid hostage).

  7. xohjoh2n says

    Here’s our guidelines, in particular Chapter 12: Good reason to possess a firearm.

    To obtain a firearms certificate, which is a prerequisite for being allowed to obtain firearms or ammunition, one must apply to a “chief officer of police” with “good reason” for such ownership, and you need to be really specific about that and what you obtain has to be sufficient and necessary for that purpose. Note that “personal protection” is specifically disallowed as a good reason (§12.81), as is “I just want one” (§12.6). (“Firearms” here doesn’t include shotguns, shotgun certificates are somewhat easier to get and have fewer conditions attached.)

  8. says

    No, you don’t have to be an expert on all matter of firearms in order to determine that the ready availability of guns is a problem, anymore than you need to know the history of The Shire to understand that The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy.

  9. mnb0 says

    “the Second Amendment to the US constitution is an insurmountable barrier to setting any limits.”
    This is something I, being a Dutch in Suriname, don’t get. Americans -- from both sides -- often act as if the Constitution is some ultimate truth and cannot be changed. Hello, wake up, in The Netherlands and Suriname the constitution is changed regularly. The Dutch constitution has been changed 6 times only in this Century; twice in a major way.
    Among the Dutch and the Surinamese referring to the constitution is seen as a logical fallacy.

  10. Deepak Shetty says

    and that is that the Second Amendment to the US constitution is an insurmountable barrier to setting any limits. That is utter rubbish.


    the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Exactly. A textualist / originalist reading would imply that prisoners can have guns while incarcerated. -- Children are people and can have guns . The secret service should not be able to ban people from carrying guns where a certain hated ex-president and gun rights supporter is present -- they cant infringe on the right to bear arms and a stated reason to have these arms is to overthrow a tyrannical government (ones that imprison children in cages for e.g.).
    Most gun nuts accept these restrictions without any problem , even when the actual second amendment doesn’t actually make any such exceptions. So much so for the 2nd amendment being sacrosanct.

    The issue of owning guns like AR-15 is a catch-22. The only purpose of owning a gun is if you are willing to use it. The purpose of owning a gun like an AR-15 is to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. If you are mentally able to accept that , you have no business owning that gun and should be permanently banned from owning any weapons. Effectively the only people who can be allowed such guns are those that dont want to own it.

    Gun reform advocates should gain confidence from the fact that majorities of people support some reform of gun laws.

    See but that question is asked in isolation. The key question is were you to choose between a candidate that is for gun control but is also for (abortion, LGBTQ rights, increased immigration, raising taxes proportionally and perceived bad for economy) v/s a candidate who is a hysterical gun nut (but will vote to cut taxes , especially for the rich) -- who do you choose ? Even people who are socially liberal choose the gun nut (because taxes! jobs! economy! tough on china! tough on illegal immigrants!)

  11. sonofrojblake says

    majorities of people support some reform of gun laws

    “Some” is doing a lot of work in that sentence. 51% of Americans support “some” reform? Great!
    1% just want guns banned.
    1% just want just BIG guns banned, anti-aircraft guns and the like.
    1% just want HAND guns banned, they’re obviously just for crims, but don’t touch my Barret .50 cal.
    1% just want shotguns banned because they’ve never seen a live cow or a ploughed field or anything outside the city limits except from an aircraft.
    1% want reform, in the form of a TWO day waiting period to buy a gun, rather than the current one. Better, right?

    All of these people are part of your “majority”, and they’re not really just 1%. That’s part of your problem.

    Come back again when a majority just want ALL guns out of the hands of everyone apart from soldiers and cops, apart from shotguns which are only in the hands of soldiers, cops and farmers. Then you might have a chance at reform. And you might need a shotgun to take down a passing flight of pigs.

  12. René says

    I apologize for not reading all of the above comments, I just want to ask everyone of no longer referring to the USA as part of Western Civilization or as a developed country. There’s a shitload of reasons it doesn’t qualify as either.

  13. says

    Don’t go down the axis of “what is an assault rifle?” Its a bad strategy. Restrict belt-fed or box magazine fed semi-automatic rifles, period. Or, say that bolt action is it. If you can’t hunt with a bolt action, you can’t hunt.

  14. Anonymous Owl says

    Re: “needing DNA tests”: this is exactly why people say you need to understand guns to make laws about them. The (standard) AR-15 is a gun that is _illegal for hunting_ in some states (and discouraged in general) because its bullet is too weak to reliably deliver a humane kill against anything but the smallest animals. Shoot a deer with one and it’s likely to run off wounded and die a painful death a mile away. The old cliche of “your grandfather’s deer rifle” fires a round that is considerably more powerful.

    And really, why is the need for expert knowledge controversial? We’d laugh off proposals for public health laws made by people who think that homeopathy is a credible theory. We’d laugh off proposals for food safety regulations by people who think that “genetically modified” is something to be terrified of and we need only “natural” foods. So why, when it comes to guns, do we suddenly have contempt for expert knowledge and insist that any uninformed amateur can offer useful commentary?

  15. says

    There is no western civilization. A “developed country” just means imperialists. The world is run by barbarians from sunrise to sunset.

  16. Mano Singham says

    Anonymous Owl @#17,

    “Contempt for expert knowledge”? Where did you get that idea? Did you not read where it says, “When it comes to actually drafting specific legislation, there will be plenty of experts who can fill in the details based on precise knowledge”?

    There is a big difference between suggesting general policy recommendations and drafting specific proposals. One does not have to be an expert on drugs to recommend that the manufacture and marketing of food and drugs to the public should be highly regulated. The people who make the specific regulations are the ones who need to be experts.

  17. Dago Red says

    Gun control advocates (which I am one) need to understand that “sensible” gun control legislation in other countries are largely successful not just because their laws are sensible, but also because they have cultivated a rational, anti-gun ownership culture in their nations over many decades. Its the combination of sensible laws and (probably more importantly) citizens who embrace the idea of anti-gun legislation, that these countries have virtually eliminated gun violence in their nations.

    I grew up in the very Democratic and affluent (and very white) suburbia north of San Francisco in the 1970’s and even as early as junior high — its never been legal for teenagers to own guns in the US — my group of under age friends had access to over SIXTY different varieties of guns — including many military-oriented models like the AR-15 and the Ingram Mac 10 — that we would often take out to firing ranges to shoot (or we simply would stupidly go shooting out in an empty field behind our homes because we didn’t always have cars). One of my nuttier friends would regularly bring a concealed handgun to school — not because he felt the need for protection, but because he thought it was fun and other kids thought he was cool. He never was arrested or even cited. All of these gun related behaviors where already illegal fifty years ago, and remain so today, but the laws didn’t stop people from being complete idiots — because our culture was (and still is) so extremely in love with the damn things.

    In the rare instance that the cops were called on us as kids, they never busted us once (they just would shoo us away). Some adults often encouraged us (many of my friends were military brats — hence why we had access to so many guns). Another example of the hyperbolic pro-gun culture in the US is witnessed every Fourth of July all over this nation when people illegally fire guns randomly into the night sky. Gun swap meets are also a huge problem, whether or not they are legislated. Under-the-table illegal sales go on at them all the time (I purchased my one and only handgun at a gun swap meet, without any waiting period or paperwork…the seller simply knew how to works around the legislation, which is rarely enforced) and I then “illegally” sold it to another friend of mine a month later. There was no repercussions. Again, these are experiences I have had for decades in a highly-blue area of the US that often does pass (or attempts to pass) sensible legislation regarding guns.

    Gun problems here are rarely due to a lack of legislation; its often more due to a lack of enforcement. Without significant changes to the US gun-loving culture, no legislation can effectively do much of anything other than make extremist gun nuts become even more extreme and rally the right to vote for more extremist idiot politicians. I am all for any anti-gun legislation, but I think its optimistic to think sensible legislation is any kind of easy (or perhaps even effective) solution. The U.S. cultural attitudes around guns has to *dramatically* change too.

  18. mastmaker says

    Overcoming second amendment is easy: Let the federal government make an announcement that ‘A (not so well regulated, as of now) civilian militia is NO LONGER necessary for the safety of the free State. We have a very well regulated and very well funded Military for that.”. Done!

  19. Anonymous Owl says

    Mano Singham @ #19

    You’re not just making very broad statements about the need to have universally-acknowledged good things, you’re proposing specific policy changes: expanded background checks, raising the minimum purchase age to 25, etc. And you’re making statements about how nobody needs an AR-15 while citing justification (the “high damage” of the bullets) that is simply false. Whatever the merits of any particular change may be I don’t see how you can simultaneously declare that you don’t know anything (and don’t intend to ever learn) and use your platform to advocate specific changes involving them.

    mastmaker @ #22

    “Easy” as long as you want to completely disregard how US law works. Like it or not the only way to overturn the second amendment is to pass another constitutional amendment that does so. Until/unless that happens (and there is zero chance of it happening in the foreseeable future) any proposed gun control laws must comply with the fact that in the US the right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed.

  20. consciousness razor says

    Anonymous Owl:

    The (standard) AR-15 is a gun that is _illegal for hunting_ in some states (and discouraged in general) because its bullet is too weak to reliably deliver a humane kill against anything but the smallest animals.

    You sure about that, expert? There isn’t one bullet that such a gun can fire (just a silly claim), and some of these don’t look weak at all. That asshole in the video, at any rate, doesn’t believe you, and I’m at least capable of using my own eyes.

    But whatever….. Maybe it isn’t a choice of hunters, at least for those who don’t prefer big hunks of meat flying off of the animal and tons of bone fragments scattered in the carcass.

    Still, why would it matter even if that were their preference? We have more important things to worry about, such as large crowds of people being murdered. And your expertise or enthusiasm regarding guns does not help anyone answer any questions about anything like that.

  21. ardipithecus says

    Gun expertise is a complete and utter red herring; a rhetorical device to distract from the topic at hand.
    It may be labelled gun control, but it actually is people control in re guns. If a law or regulation is violated, it is not the gun which is charged, it is the person who is charged.
    It is a political question, informed by sociology and psychology, not technology.

    @22 Such a ruling would have to be made by SCOTUS, not the government. The best government could do is repeal the amendment, but that is likely politically impossible any time in the foreseeable future.

  22. says

    When anything is labelled “politically impossible”, it is good to remember that usually this has nothing to do with what the majority of the people want, and everything to do with what politicians, their bribers, and the 1% want. For details, see Gilens and Page (2014).

    That phrase, “politically impossible”, serves as a mental switch to stifle dissent. It says “You can do nothing. Don’t even try.” Well, when presented with a situation where someone is making my life miserable for their own gain, I feel that, even if I won’t succeed in reversing things, I am duty bound to make their lives a little more miserable. You don’t get off scot-free for being an a*hole.

  23. says

    The laws prohibit hunting with automatic firearms. Machine guns, burp guns, M-16s. You appear to be confused about the difference between “automatic” and “semi-automatic” perhaps.

    I am not aware of laws regarding calibre. I would guess that most of the deer taken here in Pennsylvania were taken with .223/5.56. You can’t use a .308 or .300 win/mag on a deer because it’ll turn the animal into a bag of liquid hamburger. If you’re hunting elk or moose then a .308 is reasonable.

    Of course .308 is considered a good round for hunting humans. My tactical rifle is chambered in .308 as is my L1A1.

  24. Mano Singham says

    Anonymous Owl @#23,

    I disagree. I am making general recommendations that will then need to be fleshed out by experts when drafting appropriate legislation.

    Tailoring guns to specific categories of needs: that requires experts to decide which ones are appropriate.
    Background checks: experts will have to decide what those checks should consist of and who should conduct them
    Red flag laws: experts will have to decide what constitutes a red flag and what action is necessitated.
    Training and licensing: experts will have to decide how much training is needed and who should do the licensing.
    Minimum age for buying and owning a gun: I would like to see 25 years but experts might decide on another number.

    And so on.

  25. Silentbob says

    I’m very happy how it works in Australia which is basically:
    -- competition shooting; okay but the caliber is limited and that sucker stays under lock and key at the range.
    -- farmer controlling pests; okay but limitations on type of firearm and regulations about keeping it locked up, storing ammo separately, etc.
    -- collector; all guns must be disabled.
    “Personal protection” is explicitly legally never a valid reason to own a gun.
    Cops carry guns (unfortunately) -- as in the US they have a tendency to shoot unarmed people.
    You may be able to carry a gun as a security guard or whatever, but again that sucker stays at work under lock and key, you sure as fuck don’t get to take it home.
    Basically, it’s impossible to legally own a gun you can carry or keep in your home. And I love it.
    You’ve no idea how pleasant it is to live in a society where basically no one has a push-button killing machine.
    Even petty criminals like burglars will almost certainly not have guns here.

  26. tuatara says

    A new poll found that 44% of Republican voters surveyed say that mass shootings are “something we have to accept as part of a free society,” while 85% of Democrats and 73% of Independents say they are preventable “if we really tried.”

    Nothing about mass shootings is a prerequisite for a free society.
    I find reading these things really depressing. It must be awful to be there in the USA knowing that this is the shit in the heads of your neighbours and family members.

  27. says

    One category of people who should have access to guns is obviously people for whom hunting animals is a source of food.

    If and only if a person can prove that their body is incapable of synthesising taurine, then they can be given a licence to eat meat. It doesn’t mean they need to kill it themselves, and it doesn’t mean they need to use a gun to do so.

    Another is those who live in areas where they need to protect their livestock and even themselves from predatory animals.

    If livestock farming were reduced to necessity level, it stands to reason that fewer fams would be needed; and these could be sited so that purely passive defence measures are sufficient to reduce losses by predation to a tolerable level.

    There are also those who shoot guns as a competitive sport and a test of skill at shooting ranges of various kinds.

    They can always find themselves a new form of entertainment. There is room for someone to invent something which tests all the skills that would be necessary for hitting a target with a gun, without any actual lethal projectiles flying about.

    There are those who have specific fears for their safety because of their personal situation and may need some kind of weapon as protection, even if on a temporary basis.

    What they need is therapy for their condition, not the means to kill.

    There are those who are collectors of guns.

    Collectors’ display pieces do not need to be capable of being fired, though. Their barrels can be plugged and their firing systems rendered inoperable.

    There will also be those who have unique circumstances that do not fit into any broad category but those people will have to be treated on a case-by-case basis.

    Or just not at all.

    The main point is that it is the person seeking to have a gun who has to make the case for it. It should not be an automatic right.

    You managed fine before guns existed. You will manage fine again afterwards.

  28. John Morales says

    bluerizlagirl, good comment, except for

    Collectors’ display pieces do not need to be capable of being fired, though.

    Oh yes, they do. For a true collector.

    They don’t want anything more than the genuine thing.

    (Car collectors want their cars to run, too)

  29. consciousness razor says

    John Morales, #34:
    That part was good too. You might refer back to this: “They can always find themselves a new form of entertainment.”

    They don’t want anything more than the genuine thing.

    (Car collectors want their cars to run, too)

    That’s about what they “want,” not what they need. Of course, it’s also true that many would still add a piece to their collection, whether or not it’s functional, so that’s not even the case of all collectors..

    A couple more abuses of language*:
    Any actual instance of a thing is “the genuine thing,” which is a distinct concept from its ability to function. As long as a person is in fact collecting, they are a “true collector.”

    *Quite a few in such a small package.

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