No easy answers, no cheap fix

As we struggle with the tragically short lives viciously ended in Newtown last week, emotions and anger are running high.  So it should be when unspeakable acts like that occur.  As grief and shock subside, the inevitable calls to do something will reach a fever pitch.  But what can we realistically do to make sure the lives of young people are not once again tragically cut short in the future?

It’s very difficult to have an honest discussion on gun control in the wake of a spree killing because the people who believe restricting access or banning certain firearms or magazines or ammunition aren’t interested in an honest debate.  This was well illustrated by now-apparently-banned-by-Kevin-for-being-such-a-serial-schmuck commenter Carl yesterday:

And the right’s gun nut’s “end game” is to let as many children die needlessly as is necessary – protecting 2nd amendment rights trumps human life for them.

Jim feels gun laws are pointless and that dead children are just collateral damage to protecting second amendment rights.

Yep, the gun industry, backed by the most powerful lobby in Washington, has done an excellent job of insuring (sic) that gun nuts have unfettered access to killing machines that contributed to the needless deaths of 2 (sic) children and 8 adults.

Of course not. That’s just the canard weak-minded extremists use to scare up opposition to sensible gun laws.

Canard?  Isn’t that a rusty coat hanger used in those back-alley abortion clinics from which women are just one more conservative on the Supreme Court away?

So it goes.  Anyone who asks why re-instituting the same assault weapon ban that was previously enacted at the federal level (with no statistically noticeable effect on crime) and still currently in effect in Connecticut would be any more effective now gets shouted down as abetting child murder.  I know it’s crazy, extremist talk but if we’re going to devote time and resources to reducing violence at schools shouldn’t we at least consider whether the laws being rushed through Congress will actually do anything other than provide a self-congratulatory, back-slapping, bill-signing photo opportunity?

If your answer to that is “No” then skip on down to the comment section and let me know how I’m a gun nut extremist more committed to preserving murder machines for slaughtering children than seeing the wisdom of easy answers to complex problems.

The question I have is, how committed are we to stopping innocent lives from being tragically cut short?  It’s very easy for people who have no familiarity with or use for guns to come up with “common sense” laws restricting firearms.  But how far are we, as a country, willing to go to ensure young innocent lives don’t get tragically cut short?

We’re going to deal in facts, not perception or feelings.  It’s difficult to find specific sources of data for child mortality, cause of death, crime, etc. in one integrated set.  Perhaps something for me to do during my funemployment.  I’m going to pull from multiple sources but that’s always dicey from a statistical accuracy point of view.  I’ll cite all sources.  If anything seems glaringly out of place, let me know and I’ll revisit.

For the record, data is not politically correct and also quite racist.  Don’t shoot the messenger.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2009 a total of 21,621 children age 1 – 19 died in the US.  The leading cause of death (7,962) was accidents.  Second was homicide with 2,600 victims.  Suicide (1,928), cancer (1,890) and congenital defects (1,059) are next in frequency.

In 2009, 12% of the children age 19 and under who perished were victims of homicide.  Of that 12%, 1,919 (74%) were between the ages of 15-19; that equates to 8.9 deaths per 100,000 people age 15-19.  Of that 1,919, 1,647 were male (14.9/100,000); 638 were white males (7.5/100,000) – the third leading cause of death behind accidents (2,782; 32/100,000) and suicide (1,113; 13/100,000) – and 977 (53.4/100,000) were black males – the leading cause of death ahead of accidents (405; 22.1/100,000).

Teen boys are the biggest victims of homicide among children.  Not completely unexpected.  What is shocking is the fact black males between 15-19 are murdered at 7 times the rate of their white peers.  That’s clearly not a popular nor politically correct topic for discussion.  Guns are just as readily available to white teens if not more so since a lot of black teens live in large cities with restrictive gun laws in place.  Culture is taboo when it comes to violence, it’s the weapon that’s to blame.  But if we really care about saving the lives of young people maybe we need to get past cultural sensitivities and have an honest discussion on how we can stop black kids from killing each other.  This is a huge tragedy.

Whatever the reasons there were 2,600 children murdered in 2009.  The Center for Disease Control reports 1,844 firearm homicides of children ages 1- 19 in 2009.  According to FBI crime data on all homicides, in 2009 67% of all homicides were committed with a firearm.  Handguns were used in 70.5% of those murders, rifles were used in 3.8% of gun homicides.

This is where mixing data sources gets messy.  Multiply those 1,844 deaths by 3.8% and that equals 70 children murdered with a rifle in 2009.  Not assault weapons, but rifles of any kind.  Out of 12,490 preventable (accident, homicide, suicide) child deaths in 2009 a ban on assault weapons or high capacity magazines would have a theoretical ceiling of 70 lives saved, with a more realistic number probably being between 10 – 20.

But isn’t theoretically saving those lives worth common sense laws restricting rifles with detachable, high-capacity magazines?

I don’t know.  How many children die because new, life-saving drugs take decades to be approved by the FDA?  How many children are killed each year because of fuel economy standards that require auto manufacturers to produce smaller, lighter, less-safe-in-a-crash vehicles?  How many die participating in sporting events?  How many turned to gang violence because they grew up in a one-parent household and were stuck in a crummy school?

How many children drowned in backyard swimming pools?  Why does anyone need a pool in their backyard?  There are plenty of places swim.  Places with trained lifeguards whose sole responsibility is to prevent people from drowning.  We’d save more innocent children by filling in every backyard pool than banning assault weapons.

It’s not fashionable to think like that in the wake of a senseless act of mass murder though.  Much easier to focus on one aspect of a crime about which we still know very little other than the killer used a weapon that many people have been clamoring to ban for the last four decades.  But if the intention is to ensure as many children as possible grow up and live to a ripe old age then shouldn’t we start by identifying what causes the most preventable deaths and start there?

Which is a nice segue to another dangerous inanimate thing people have been eager to ban for years – alcohol.  The World Health Organization reported that alcohol causes more deaths (2.5 million) than AIDS, tuberculosis, and violence each year. According to the CDC, 75,000 people in the US die each year because of alcohol abuse – 4,500 of them under the age of 21.  Every year we see 50% more people under 21 die from alcohol-related causes than gun homicide.

Let that sink in – more Americans die each year because of alcohol abuse than homicide.

Isn’t it time we had a serious discussion about banning alcohol?  Clearly, no one needs alcohol.  Beyond the 75,000 American lives it claims outright each year, it is a contributing factor in many domestic disputes, cases of child abuse, instances of random violence, and sexual assaults.  Whatever small pleasure responsible drinkers may enjoy, alcohol’s easy availability (you can buy it in grocery stores) and ubiquitous marketing have created a lethal alcohol culture.

Are you going to sit there and tell me you’re willing to see innocent children crushed to death by drunk drivers just so you can have a little temporary relief from stress?  Go lift weights instead.  Don’t say it’s the drunk driver’s fault – without easy access to beer and wine and booze thousands more innocent children would still be alive today.

Prohibition’s sure to work this time.  Or maybe we should just ban children from riding in automobiles.

So what, you say, we’re just supposed to throw up our hands and accept it when some coward goes on a suicide spree killing?  Not at all.  What I’m saying is we need to look beyond easy answers.  Lord knows Washington specializes in ineffective, superficial solutions they believe will solve complex problems.  Is it too much to expect for our government to do something that actually works?

Mental health has to be a part of any discussion.  Looking past the fact that many of these spree killers have underlying psychological issues, roughly 2,000 children take their own life each year.  That’s incredibly sad.  Sometimes we might scoff, what kind of problems does a child really have?  Wait till they’ve got a mortgage and a wife and kids and a bad back and a car that needs repairs, then they’ll know what problems are.

Except kids’ brains are still developing, they experience stress in different ways than adults, their bodies are flush with hormones and strange new feelings, they don’t have an adult’s wisdom, and because of peer pressure admitting they’re having psychological issues is even more difficult than it is for an adult.  That stigma is there and it just compounds the problems they’ve already got.  Adults have less trouble reaching out to friends or relatives or a professional because we’ve lived long enough to learn that it helps to talk and that there’s no shame in asking for help.

Yet there were still more Americans who committed suicide in 2009 than were murdered.  I did not know that before today.  You sure wouldn’t know it from watching the news.  It’s pretty hard to believe.

Once again, there isn’t an easy answer.  If there were then children wouldn’t commit suicide or shoot up classrooms.

I know I’m probably just spinning my wheels here.  Nothing I can say, no amount of data, no obtuse moral equivalence is going to change the minds of people who believe guns are the root of all our evils.  To them, I’m just a gun nut who’s not willing to compromise even if it means 20 kids get gunned down in a school.  No one who opposes new restrictions on firearms could possibly care about stopping children from being murdered.

Well, I do.  More than I care about scoring cheap political points or sticking a thumb in the eye of some lobbying group I despise.  As I’ve cautioned before, our elected officials do their shoddiest work when responding hastily to some horrible crime.  More gun laws won’t deter someone who’s decided to shoot up a school.  But they will give our politicians cover to pat themselves on the back and ignore the other factors until the next lunatic strikes.

Then, more of the same easy answers.  Don’t our children deserve better?

Well worth it to ensure constitutional rights are preserved
Man Arrested After Bringing 2x4 Labeled "High Powered Rifle" Into Sandy Hook Elementary
  • Par4Course

    Liberals see the massacre of 20 children and 6 women in Connecticut as an opportunity to grow government and diminish individual rights. Do not try to confuse them with the facts – it is only intentions that count. Read Ann Coulter’s column this week, which details research showing concealed carry laws are the most effective measure to prevent mass murder. Since this doesn’t fit the liberal mind set, such research is ignored or dismissed. “Gun control” measures like the “assault weapons” ban have sponsors with good intentions and will provide an opportunity for the President and his friends to self-rightously pontificate. Even if such a ban does not prevent any deaths or even costs lives, its purpose will have been served.

  • Commander_Chico

    The base, crude and violent culture has more to do with killings than guns. Not just violent video games, but a general devaluing of other people and insensitivity.

    Narcissism is part of the problem. I thought this piece hit it:

    Narcissism? Since the shooting, we’ve had one mother selling out her own son in order to gain fame, or at least notoriety. I also look askance at the Marine reservist and former Marine who jumped out to “guard” schools and made sure the news media was there to record the event. “Look at me!!”

    Americans are no more stupid than other peoples, but they are less educated and grounded in values other than those of Mammon and TV than other peoples.

    • jim_m

      I’d vote you up because I agree that the issue is our culture and not guns per se.

      But then I’d have to vote you down because I felt that the mother’s essay was more of a plea for help and brings needed focus to the issue of mental health here.

      But I also agree with you on these marines, who are grandstanding and appearing out of uniform. And while not necessarily less educated we are definitely morally adrift. So in aggregate I agree with you. +1

      • Commander_Chico

        Why thank you, jim. I have been impressed with your compassion about the mentally ill in these discussions.

      • GarandFan

        I also agree about the woman’s plea for help. We’re a kinder, gentler society today. Have been since the 1980’s. We’ve freed the mentally ill of their shackles and liberated them from asylums. We no longer warehouse them in medical facilities. We warehouse them in our state prisons and county jails.

    • There’s probably some cultural element to it but spree killing in general and spree killings at schools in particular aren’t unique to America. Germany, UK, and Canada have had school massacres; there were 75 killed at a student camp in Norway. Even China recently had a school attack. They’re about as culturally different than us as anybody could be.

      Black males are the most likely victims of homicide in the US – in fact, for blacks between 15 and 34 the leading cause of death is murder. Black males of that age are murdered at such a rate it skews the cause of death statistics for both sexes despite black females of the same age having a relatively “normal” murder rate. There are clearly some cultural factors at play in this case just not the ones anyone wishes to discuss. But hard problems call for hard questions and honest answers.

      • Commander_Chico

        Yes, there is a very bad culture of modeling masculinity as hyperaggressive behavior in the ghetto. That’s been linked to the lack of daddy role models.

        Not limited to school massacres, I’d say on a per capita basis, mass killings are much higher in the USA than in comparible countries – Europe or Canada. Mexico or Colombia or Iraq would be a different story, of course

        • I think you’re on the right track, but would wager that a lot of it is black males joining gangs – a reasonable (in their eyes) response to the lack of a father figure in their life. The gang takes the place of the father – protecting the kid, showing him how to make it with the ladies, teaching him ways to make an income, etc. Crappy inner-city schools compound the problem. So as the kid reaches his 20’s he’s stuck with no education and no real skills people seek in the professional world.

    • Joe Lagle

      Clearly, Dec 21st is the end of the world since I actually find myself agreeing with Chico

    • SteveCrickmore075

      I don’t know. American warrior video games, like Grand Auto Theft are popular the world over. In Brazil you can’t go into a public internet.or a game video store.without seeing them watrched by scorces of kids. Of course you have lots of guns in Brazil and a enormous number of gun murders, but in other countries where they
      are common, There’s little link between games and gun violence because they don’t have as many guns..And before someone says well they commit murder by other means. The USA overall homicide rate, by any and all means, is over five times the rate of any other western country.

      • jim_m

        In Russia guns are scarce because the communists didn’t hold with the people being able to defend themselves, but violent crime and murder are significantly worse than in the US. It’s really nice when you try to pick and choose who you compare the US to. Unfortunately for you, not every comparison makes the US look bad.

        Homicide rate per 100,000

        Jamaica 52.2 (trouble in paradise)

        Venezuela 45.1 (The left needs to stop holding up Hugo Chavez as the next George Washington)

        Mexico 16.9 (this would be lower if not for President obama)

        North Korea 15.2 (even severe repression does not stop murder)

        Russia 10.2

        Cuba 5.0 (Castro confiscated guns when he took power. Seems that even gun confiscation doesn’t help things)

        United States 4.6

        Guam 0.6 (I guess they are too busy trying to keep from capsizing)

        • SteveCrickmore075

          I said any western country! Israel is one country you alluded to earlier positively, with a photo of women standing at a bar with five aasault rifles Let us see what they are doing or not doing? From a Forbes article, today/While Americans blame video games for mass shootings like Sandy Hook, Israell is quietly doing what we should be doing: tightening requirements for gun ownership.

          • jim_m

            My point was on homicide rates and that you pick and choose your examples to suit while ignoring any examples that don’t fit your argument. Cherry picking data does not make for a good argument. Looking at the whole world we do very well. Looking at nations that are the darlings of the left, we do very well.

          • retired.military

            What difference does it make if it is a western country or not.
            China is one country that plays violent games , Russia is another.
            Mexico is a democracy.

      • retired.military

        actually I think the UK has a higher violent crime rate than the US. Dont know about murder rate though.

        • jim_m

          Here’s you answer:

          Britain’s violent crime record is worse than any other country in the European union, it has been revealed.

          Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all
          types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa – widely
          considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

          In the UK, there are 2,034 offences per 100,000 people,way ahead of second-placed Austria with a rate of 1,677.

          The U.S. has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, Canada 935, Australia 92 and South Africa 1,609.

          All these countries with higher crime rates that the US, France, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg; but the left only looks at the one statistic that makes the US look bad. I guess it’s just because they’d rather hate the US rather than admit that we are doing better than someone else.

          • retired.military

            Not to mention I think the UK totally banned firearms for the general public.

  • ackwired

    I agree that there is no easy answer. But I disagree that it is useless to have a discussion. Your assertion that all who want gun control refuse to have an honest discussion is simply not true. There are certainly some radicals on that side that fit your description. But there are radicals representing the manufacturers and marketers of firearms that are equally unwilling to consider solutions. The radicals on either side do not define the majority. There are many knowledgeable people concerning this issue capable of showing respect for those that disagree with them and having an honest discussion.

    It is a difficult discussion. But it is worth having and probably past due.

    • “Your assertion that all who want gun control refuse to have an honest discussion is simply not true.”

      I think you’re kind of starting to split semantic hairs here. If the folks at the top, the deciders, the Jackson-Lees, the Carl-emulators, don’t want an honest discussion, then there won’t be one.

      YOU and others like you may want an honest discussion, and think there’s something to be done other than going “Guns? ICKY! Throw them all on a fire and we’ll be safe!” The conversation re mental health issues is a good example of that. We may not agree on all issues, but we can at least find common ground and agree that what’s been tried hasn’t been effective.

      THEY see it as a reason to impose their feelings on this on the rest of us, facts be damned. They don’t want a discussion – they just want to not have to worry about it, and the only way they won’t worry about it is to get what they want. They don’t want guns to exist, and to them it’s a simple solution. Sadly, it’s their opinion that’s got precedence and news coverage, not yours.

      (Damn shame, that. Ever think of running for office? I’d contribute to your campaign…)

      We need the discussion. It remains to be seen if it’ll ever happen, or if some ‘well meaning’ person shuts it down because the only acceptable solution for them is to disarm like the UK and Australia – and ALL else is simply unacceptable.

      • ackwired

        “The folks at the top” have protected gun rights for two and a half centuries. They must not be so closed minded as to insist on taking away our guns.

        • Protected? Or have other things on their mind… and waiting for something ‘good’ they could use to go after them?

          One attacks when conditions are favorable. The election’s over, Obama’s staying on, it’s two years until the next election, and there’s a massacre to be used as an emotional club.

          Conditions are about as favorable as they’re going to get, I think…

          • ackwired

            LOL…don’t let the marketers scare you too much. After many years in sales and marketing, I can assure you that one of the most effective tools in the box is, “You won’t be able to get this after……..”. Both sides will play to their base concerning gun control. But with the composition of congress, I don’t see any significant changes coming.

          • retired.military

            Unfortunately Obama has made it a mission in life to go around Congress when he doesnt get his way. That being said I honestly dont see any serious law coming out of this fiasco and even if one does whatever is passed will do absolutely no good. And after the next shooting the same libs will be demanding full confiscation again.

          • I don’t see any real change either… but a lot of ’em will be pissed they couldn’t do anything.

            Which is fine by me. Frustration builds character, after all…

          • “But with the composition of congress, I don’t see any significant changes coming.”

            It’s not marketing, it’s tactics. And you’re right – although conditions are about as good as they’re going to get, there won’t be much change. There’s simply too much inertia.

          • ackwired

            Just a word about my reference to marketing. I see it again and again. Any time the industry organizations can use some news to scare people into buying firearms, they stoke the fire for all it is worth. One of the most effective sales tools that exists is, “You may not be able to get this after…..”

          • True.

            Went with a friend to a local gun retailer yesterday around midday – the parking lot was jammed. (And this is a ‘Dicks’ sized store, with a grocery-store sized parking lot.) Having bought firearms there before, I know the process after you decided to buy a certain make and model… paperwork and background check will take a good 30 minutes… when they’re not busy.

            Normally when I go there’s maybe 15-20 cars in the parking lot. Yesterday, I’d estimate 200+ – and it was raining.

            By the lines I saw for folks looking to examine firearms (and, I guess, buy) you were looking at a 2-3 hour wait to get to the counter to talk to a salesman for the AR-15 type and other modern-style firearms. Classic hunting rifles weren’t busy at all.

            We left without getting the duck call he wanted. The checkout lane for NON-firearms stuff was probably 30 people long. All the other checkout lanes were running, processing firearms purchases and doing background checks.

            (You fill out your paperwork at the sales counter, then they have a ‘runner’ carry your firearm up to the checkout, where they do the federal background check.)

            I’d heard Obama’s election was really good for the gun industry – but that was just plain nuts.

            BTW, you might find this interesting…


            Used to own a gunshop selling to police, used to teach CCW and self-defense classes. Would teach teachers for free, has much more than a passing familiarity with the legal issues involved. BTW – he’s in Utah, and apparently it’s legal for Utah teachers to CCW in school.

    • herddog505

      akwired[T]here are radicals representing the manufacturers and marketers of firearms that are equally unwilling to consider solutions.

      It apparently being considered “radical” to want to continue to lawfully sell a product enjoyed peacefully and legally by millions of Americans; it apparently being considered “radical” to support a right guaranteed by the Constitution; it apparently being considered “radical” to resent being lumped in with psychos and murderers as some sort of merchants of death.

      I don’t think you’ll find anybody in the firearms industry or amongst the shooting public who isn’t horrified by the mass killings like the outrage in Sandy Hook (I’d say that must of us wish that we had been there with our arms to try to stop that killer). Nor will your find anybody who ardently support letting children, hoodlums or the mentally defective have access to firearms. The vast majority of us are OK with a reasonable background check process or a short waiting period; I can wait a few days to pick up my new rifle. From our perspective, the “radicals” are those who lump us in with killers; who whine that we don’t have a “need” for a gun (or certain type of gun); who – somehow – get the idea that the right to keep and bear arms is obsolete, that the Constitution doesn’t mean what it plainly says, or that it doesn’t apply to modern firearms; or who seem to think that the acts of a criminal or lunatic trumps the rights of innocent Americans.

      Now, lefties (most of whom, I think it reasonable to say, are soft on crime) are yapping about “solutions”. Well, let’s hear ’em. What “solutions” are there to a lunatic murdering a gun owner (his mother, in this case), stealing a gun(s), and committing further outrages? What “solutions” have you got that DON’T either trample all over the rights of Americans who haven’t done a damned thing or else risk tossing people into a mental hospital because somebody thinks they are “strange”?

      Let us know, will you? Because, if you can solve this problem, I make no doubt that you can solve drunk driving, drug dealing, common murder, rape, and all the other crimes that are committed despite all the laws, police, courts and prisons we’ve created over the years.

      Please keep in mind that we’ve been to this dance before. Americans were outraged that people, including law enforcement officers, were being murdered by gangsters with machineguns in the ’30s, so we had the NFA. Murders continued; gangsters continued to get automatic weapons. After the murder of JFK, we banned selling guns by mail; murders continued. In the midst of an urban crime wave and after the shooting of RFK, we banned “Saturday Night Specials”; murders continued. Etc., etc. The only “loser” in all of this has been the law-abiding American shooter or firearms collector, who’s been villified and had his rights curtailed while villains and lunatics are not impeded in the least.

      • ackwired

        I would say that it is radical to demand that gun shows allow sales to anybody who walks in the door with no background checks or waiting period. I would say that it is radical to refuse to consider steps that could inhibit the mentally access to firearms. But then, hey, I though your response was a little over the top.

        • The only people at gun shows who can sell a gun without the required check are private sellers. Most of the tables at the shows I’ve been to are licensed firearm dealers, who are required to run the same checks at the show as they would at a storefront location. Any law that closes the supposed “gun show loophole” would have to either forbid private sellers from gun shows or forbid the private sale of guns altogether.

          • Brucehenry

            But yet I’ve heard that 40% of the guns sold at these shows ARE from private sellers, in which no background check is performed. Is that an incorrect statistic? I honestly don’t know.

          • I doubt it. I haven’t been to a show in a while and maybe it’s because I just go to the big ones when I do, but I’d wager 95% of the sellers are licensed and they sell 99% of the guns at a show.

          • ackwired

            Be careful who you offer that bet. ATF reports that between 50% and 75% of the vendors at gun shows posses a Federal Firearms License. They say that at the big ones, such as the ones that you go to, as many as 1000 guns change hands in two days.

          • There’s a lot of vendors who just sell accessories, knives, clothing, ammo, military surplus stuff, collectables, belts, holsters, reloading equipment, and the like. For which no FFL is needed.

            (Makes sense, right? Folks who buy one thing will likely buy the other – so you pay your booth fee and set up, hoping for spillover.)

            Last gunshow I went to there was a guy selling high-powered flashlights and personal alarms. He wasn’t doing much business that I noticed…

            It might be worth the $5 entry fee for you to go to a gunshow and see for yourself what goes on.You can probably find one in your area easily.

          • ackwired

            I actually have been to what was billed as the largest gun show in the world right here in Phoenix, on the State Fair Grounds. I have no doubt that a mental patient or felon could have easily obtained firearms at that show.

          • Of course you don’t doubt. /sarc

            Around here, if you’re a vendor selling firearms you HAVE to do background checks on the buyers. No ifs, ands, maybes or buts.. If you’re a private party selling a rifle at a gun show, you’re STRONGLY urged to have the other party checked.

            The ‘gun-show loophole’ doesn’t exist in any shape or form as the folks who politicize it think.

          • jim_m

            I see Bloomberg making that claim but he’s not the most credible of sources.

          • Hard to tell if it’s correct or not, without a source.

        • herddog505

          Who is making these radical demands? I realize that the “gun show loophole” is a feature of many lefty nightmares along with Republicans blocking minority polling places and Tea Party members plottong the violent overthrow of the government, but I’m not aware of anybody seriously making those arguments.

          Otherwise, ditto Baron von Ottomatic.

        • herddog505

          Who is making these radical demands? I realize that the “gun show loophole” is a feature of many lefty nightmares along with Republicans blocking minority polling places and Tea Party members plottong the violent overthrow of the government, but I’m not aware of anybody seriously making those arguments.

          Otherwise, ditto Baron von Ottomatic.

          • ackwired

            These demands were made policy by the FOPA, passed in 1986, supported primarily by the NRA, and opposed by many law enforcement agencies.

          • herddog505

            Not what Wiki indicates. Broadly speaking, the FOPA was a response to the excesses of the 1968 Gun Control Act, which (as was found by a bipartisan congressional committee) led to a large number of abuses by the BATF:

            It concluded that seventy-five percent of ATF prosecutions were “constitutionally improper”, especially on Second Amendment issues.

            As for pushing to allow nuts and crooks easier access to firearms:

            The older Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits firearms ownership in the US by certain broad categories of individuals thought to pose a threat to public safety. However, this list differed between the House and the Senate versions of the bill, and led to great confusion. This list was later augmented, modified, and clarified in the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.

            The list is very familiar to anybody who’s legally bought a firearm and hence completed form 4473: no felons, loonies, fugitives, drug addicts, etc.

            Incidentally, the FOPA is where the present virtual ban on machineguns comes from:

            [T]he Act also contained a provision that banned the sale of machine guns manufactured after the date of enactment to civilians, restricting sales of these weapons to the military and law enforcement.


          • ackwired

            A couple of points. The wiki article cited says that gun rights organizations pushed for FOPA. The gun show wiki article states, “Under the terms of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986,
            however, individuals “not engaged in the business” of dealing firearms,
            or who only make “occasional” sales within their state of residence,
            are under no requirement to conduct background checks on purchasers or
            maintain records of sale (although even private sellers are forbidden
            under federal law from selling firearms to persons they have reason to
            believe are felons or otherwise prohibited from purchasing firearms).”

          • herddog505

            I’m sure that they DID push for FOPA, the GCA of ’68 having been nothing more than a pesky failure.

            As for “private sellers”, I suggest that the law envisioned private Americans engaging in the usual, legal commerce of selling one item to a chum: “Say, Bob: how much do you want for that Model 10 of yours?” As you note, it is illegal for private citizens to sell to people that they believe to be felons or loons. Therefore, what more do you want?

          • jim_m

            What the left wants is a level of government intrusion that would make private sales between one person and another illegal. This is not just about guns, it is about all transactions. You can’t tax these kinds of sales. You can’t control them.

            The left wants government visibility to and therefore control of all transactions and a government that can dictate tot he individual whether or not their behavior will be allowed. This is how you stop these illegal sales. The left would be perfectly content with the destruction of personal liberty necessary to accomplish this.

          • ackwired

            I want the discussion. The author said don’t bother because all of the people wanting change would not engage in honest discussion. I said there are radicals on both sides, and they did not represent the majority. I was told that there were no radicals on the pro-gun side and asked to id them. I said those that refuse to change gun shows so that mental patients and criminals could not walk in and buy guns. I was told nobody is taking that position and asked to id them. I answered that FOPA made it possible and it was pushed by the NRA. We have come full circle and I still want the discussion.

          • If they’ve been labeled as mentally ill, or criminals, then they can’t pass the background check and must be refused. That’s the law.

            Vendors at gun shows MUST run background checks on folks who buy weapons. That’s the law.

            Fail the check, you can’t buy it, or the vendor will be in deep shit. They’ll prize their FFL above a nut that can’t pass a background check.

            There’s no law requiring a mental health exam before purchase – and considering the cost of implementing such a system I don’t think even Nancy Pelosi (who I consider more than a bit on the crazy side myself) would attempt it.

            Add in that the Newtown asshole PASSED a background check (but left when told there was a waiting period) – I think you’re trying to put the cart before the horse here. Gun shows simply haven’t been shown as a source of illegally obtained guns used in school shootings. (We won’t talk about the Fast & Furious crapfest where ATF agents were telling FFLs to ignore rejections…)

            If they were, I’d be for tightening procedures. But you’re not showing any evidence that they are. You FEEL like they might be – but that’s not evidence they are.

          • herddog505

            That’s what’s so damned frustrating about talking with libs about this sort of thing: they tend to be woefully uninformed about firearms and existing laws, but instead believe in fantasies like:

            — “Plastic” Glock pistols that don’t show up on X-ray machines;

            — The “assault weapon”, vaguely defined as something that LOOKS like a machinegun;

            — Crooks routinely committing crimes with automatic weapons;

            — Concealed carry permit holders having gunfights in the streets;

            — People routinely buying and selling guns, including machineguns, at gun shows with no background checks, waiting periods or other controls;

            — The NRA and other RKBA groups standing against “common sense” laws that forbid children, felons and lunatics getting guns.

          • Conservachef

            — “Plastic” Glock pistols that don’t show up on X-ray machines

            Hey, John Maclane said that, didn’t he? That was a great movie…

          • And even AFTER you talk to them about the issue, and make it clear that the things they are worried about either don’t exist or are already regulated – they seem to almost immediately FORGET they even had the conversation and drop back to the ‘plastic pistol’ shit.

            Is there some sort of mind-wipe and implantation of a set of false memories going on when we aren’t watching?

          • ackwired

            I agree that it has not happened yet. My concern is that mentally ill young men are shooting children in schools. I think we should examine methods to help these young men deal with their problems and find ways to prevent them from having access to firearms. Under the current system they can walk into a gun show and buy them. I think that makes it too easy for them.

          • ” Under the current system they can walk into a gun show and buy them.”

            Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck FUCK! NO – THEY CAN’T IF THEY HAVE BEEN REGISTERED AS MENTALLY ILL!!!!1! They will FLUNK the background check! The FFL will be in DEEP shit if he continues the sale! It’s not worth it to a dealer to make a sale and lose his license!

            How many times do we have to repeat ourselves on that crap?!

            Sorry, Ackwired – it’s so damn frustrating to keep telling the same thing over and over and have it ignored.

            (And it looks like Disqus doesn’t have any problem with THAT word.)

          • ackwired

            Non FFL people also sell guns at gun shows. They are not required to do a background check. This is common knowledge. So those who would not clear a background check know where to look and who to deal with. So under the current system anyone can walk in and by a gun.

          • herddog505

            You’ve just described a black market. Given the problems we have with black markets in drugs, cigarettes, and even booze for minors, good luck with this one.

            Now, if you want to put up signs all around gun shows stating the law about “be careful who you sell to”, or make background checks free so that anybody can access them, those seem like a good ideas.

            Let me also point out that VERY few guns used in crimes are purchased in the way you describe (the loon in Sandy Hook murdered his mother to get her guns), so you’re spending considerable mental energy worrying over a “loophole” that, in practical terms, hardly exists.

          • ackwired

            I’ve just described an easy way for felons and the mentally ill to buy guns. I looks to me like the most mental energy is being spent trying to find excuses not to take a look at it and try to find a solution.

          • herddog505

            Easy? The felons and mentally ill have to find a person who’s willing to sell to them. Again, black market. Now, if I was a crook intent on getting a gun, going to a place where there are literally thousands of potential witnesses, police at the door, and likely dozens of out-of-uniform police officers walking around doesn’t seem like the best way to do it, especially when I’m going to have to hunt around to find the one guy who’s got something I can use and is willing to break the law to sell it to me.

            How many felons and loons DO buy their guns at gun shows? How many of them steal them? The answer is that far, far more crooks (gasp!) steal what they want.

            Denver congresswoman Diana DeGette says that 70 percent of guns used in crimes come from gun shows. The true figure is rather different, according to the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. According to an NIJ study released in December 1997 (“Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities,” a report that covers much more than homicide), only 2 percent of criminal guns come from gun shows.

            That finding is consistent with a mid-1980s study for the NIJ, which investigated the gun purchase and use habits of convicted felons in 12 state prisons. The study (later published as the book Armed and Considered Dangerous) found that gun shows were such a minor source of criminal gun acquisition that they were not even worth reporting as a separate figure.


            As I and others have written, the gun show loophole is essentially a figment of lefty imaginations, not a real problem in America. I also point out that the hand-wringing over it is exactly what we RKBA types have come to expect: once again, we’re blamed; once again, the “solution” is for more control, more regulation, more onus on us.

          • ackwired

            “It looks to me like the most mental energy is being spent trying to find
            excuses not to take a look at it and try to find a solution”

            Errrr….I think you are making my point for me.

          • Vagabond661

            Bingo! And minority report is not a reality yet.

            So the focus should not be on guns and ammunition, something we can’t really control. The focus should be on protecting the people, something we have more control over.

            And who’s slogan is “To Protect and Serve”? And why do they have guns? Why do politicians have people with guns around them? Why don’t they just wear a badge that says “Gun-Free Zone”?

            We need either armed police in schools or teacher and/or principals with CWP….and take away the silly “gun-free zones”. Would you put one of those signs in front of your house?

          • “My concern is that mentally ill young men are shooting children in schools.”

            Troubleshoot the problem. Find the common factors. Solve it in the least-intrusive way possible. If shoving medication that has severe suicidal-homicidal side effects down their throats is a problem, then we need to look at doing something else with them.

            Punishing the hundreds of millions of law-abiding for the actions of the exceedingly rare outliers doesn’t make any real sense, any more than mandating everyone wear lightning-rod hats and trail grounding straps so you’ll have a better chance of surviving on the off-chance you’re hit by lightning would.

          • ackwired

            “Troubleshoot the problem. Find the common factors. Solve it in the
            least-intrusive way possible. If shoving medication that has severe
            suicidal-homicidal side effects down their throats is a problem, then we
            need to look at doing something else with them.”

            I quite agree. I think that examination of the problem and search for a solution should include looking at how we can prevent their easy access to guns.

          • Vagabond661

            Ackwired, I appreciate your calm approach to this. If you really want to have a discussion about this, these three facts have to start of the conversation

            Fact: Washington, D.C. has the most stringent gun control laws and also have to highest crime rate committed with guns.

            Fact: Crazies choose gun-free zones to shoot people for obvious reasons.

            Fact: Banning assault weapons won’t stop the killing.

            Plus I am tired of discussing how many rounds a clip should hold because it just doesn’t matter. It seems so silly for the left to say you only need a 10 round clip. It’s like the left is saying you can kill 10 people and that’s your limit. Where is the sanity in that argument?

            So guns and ammunition should be off the table. Now to the talk.

            I am the least intelligent person who posts here. Jim_m had a lot of great suggestions about how to help the mentally ill. More money is needed. I also believe teachers and/or principals in every school should have a CWP.

            I am all for putting an ankle bracelet on the mentally ill if they are to be allowed to hang out with society. Make it only go off in gun-free zones or around schools if you want. Seems like a good option if they object so much to being institutionalized. It can be concealed so there is no stigma of wearing one.

            Where I work we toss out possible solutions to our problems and then try to shoot holes in it. If it stands we, run with it. This is all I trying to do here. Shoot holes in it. Springboard to something else. Won’t hurt my feelings none.

          • ackwired

            I like your approach. I would like to see it used to help these disturbed young men before they go off and to prevent the mentally ill from accessing firearms.

          • herddog505

            OK: what would you like to discuss? Consider that, from the perspective of those of us who enjoy the shooting sports, collecting, or simply want a firearm for defense, this “discussion” is rather akin to discussing censorship with a reporter, or discussing trial without jury or counsel with a lawyer. As I’ve written, we’ve been to this dance before. Many times.

            As for FOPA, I suggest that it no more makes it possible for crooks and the mentally ill to buy guns than various drug laws make it possible for crooks to buy (or sell drugs), or laws against auto theft make it possible for people to traffic in stolen cars or parts. Let’s be clear: by your own statement, FOPA FORBIDS people selling guns to anybody they think might be a crook or a loon. How, then, does FOPA make it “possible”? More, how was it IMpossible before FOPA?

            Do you want waiting periods? We have them.

            Background checks? We have them.

            Strict laws regarding fully-automatic weapons? We have them.

            Laws concerning how guns are transferred from seller to buyer? We have them.

            Laws forbidding the sale of arms to felons and loons? We have them.

            A quick list of the federal laws regarding firearms may be found here:


            We tried the whole banning “bad-looking” guns and high-capacity magazines; had no effect on the murder rate at all. Since at least 1934, we’ve had a slew of gun control laws, yet murders continue.

            Actually, what we’ve found that DOES have an effect on the crime rate – a positive effect – is concealed carry, i.e. MORE freedom for law-abiding citizens to be armed. MiniTru and the left (BIRM) don’t like to talk much about it, but armed citizens have been responsible for STOPPING horrors like Sandy Hook; it doesn’t get much play because (A) that’s not the meme and (B) it’s hard to report what MIGHT have happened. The left (perhaps not you) don’t like to “discuss” this; the “discussion” is always centered on controls, bans, prohibitions, and other measures that do nothing to impede the crook, but do much to disarm the innocent citizen.

            Incidentally, the NRA has actually been active in supporting the “common sense” regulations that lefties like to yap about. In the wake of the Virginia Tech horror, the NRA supported legislation to improve the national background check database to help stop loonies getting guns.


            I also urge you to read about the Eddie Eagle program that the NRA has sponsored for years to help educate children in safe gun handling, which boils down to “don’t touch it and go tell a responsible adult”.


            As I’ve written elsewhere, I think that you’ll find that most responsible gun owners and RKBA supporters are very much in favor of laws that help stop villains and loons getting guns; most of us are also in favor of very strict penalties for those who commit violent crimes or who knowingly transfer guns to nogoodniks (like Eric Holder). Unfortunately, we’ve learned that the other side is completely untrustworthy, that “common sense” laws are nothing more than Trojan horses designed to eventually get to outright bans and confiscation, and “discussions” are usually about what we’re going to have to give up “for the children”.

          • ackwired

            I don’t think that I should be part of the discussion. I think it should include the stakeholders and at a high level. I would like to see law enforcement, educators, NRA, ATF, and gun manufactures and marketers discuss how we can stop mentally ill young men from killing our children in schools.

          • herddog505

            I understand the natural horror at the idea of children being murdered, whether by a loon with a rifle, a pedophile, or some damned gangbanger. I understand the desire to want to Do Something about it.

            But what to do? How do we stop something that is about as common as being struck by lightning without trampling all over somebody’s rights? What, for example, would you like gun manufacturers to say? Or the NRA? What can they say that (for example) brewers or distillers can’t say about alcohol, or car manufacturers can’t say about their products?

            As I wrote above, let us know, because what will work to stop lunatics shooting up schools will likely work to stop drunks running down people on the roads, crackheads murdering convenience store clerks, drug dealers, rapists, burglars, etc.

          • ackwired

            It’s easy to not try if you fear the result of the effort. We know that mentally ill, white, young males are going into our schools and shooting our children. We probably know more than that. Let us not be afraid to bring the stakeholders together to share their knowledge and search for ways to limit the killing. As i originally said, there are radicals on both sides that are unwilling to have an honest discussion. That is primarily because they are afraid. There are also leaders on both sides that are not afraid. I would like to see what they could agree to after studying the problem.

          • Conservachef


            So what can you do regarding gun shows? Require that only licensed sellers have booths at the shows? Outlaw or regulate sales between private individuals? Can you imagine the bureaucracy required for that? Woah…

            I don’t think it’s fair (or justified) to try to regulate a private sale of something that’s perfectly legal.

          • ackwired

            I would get gun show sponsors, ATF, local law enforcement, and those who frequently buy booths at gun shows together. I would point out that we need to do a better job of preventing access to firearms for the mentally ill and have a discussion.

          • Conservachef


            That’s an idea, but without enforcement power, it would just be a chit-chat.

            You might could get the bigger gun shows to have that sort of discussion before opening the doors, but it’s been pointed out that even in private sales, you already aren’t supposed to sell to a wacko. Licensed dealers already have to do the checks. So what’s left? Make the already-existing law(s) a double-secret-probation type law? Change the fines/penalties for them?

            I don’t see gun shows as a problem (source for illegally purchased weapons). For one thing, if I were a crook, I wouldn’t want to make my illegal purchase right there next to 1,000 strangers, more than a few of whom are military/law enforcement.

          • ackwired

            I would like to see the discussion take place at much higher levels. Perhaps the experts who have the responsibility could find some creative solutions. I certainly would not limit it to legislation.

          • Conservachef


            I could see changing the penalties for dealers. I just don’t know how you could do much to private sales.

            I would agree about the higher-ups having the discussion, but (a) most of what I’m hearing from them is the same old “ban ’em!” from the left and “no!” from the right, and (b), I’m not sure just how much I trust the higher-ups anyway…

          • ackwired

            It is normal for them to posture for their partisan followers. The dynamics are completely different when they are sitting in a room seeking a solution to a common problem.

    • retired.military

      I agree with you totally. However, far too many liberals dont want a discussion. Look at the discussion I tried to have with Carl. Not only was it nonproductive but Carl showed not even the basic understanding of what he was talking about. I tried several times to get him to answer questions to try to find common ground and find out exactly where his thoughts were. What did I get in return? Pure bunk and nonsense.

      • ackwired

        Oh, yes! The people Baron was describing are out there. I was just objecting to his idea that everyone looking at some form of gun control fit his description. It seemed to me that he was using a false generalization as an excuse not to have the discussion.

        • You know…looking back at that paragraph I seem to have left off part of that sentence. That’s what happens when you edit at 2:00 a.m. Meant to say something along the lines of “people who want to ban xyz now regardless of whether it would actually have any effect on crime or save any lives.” I didn’t mean to imply there, just got sloppy. Obviously, not everyone without an AR-15 is a Carl.

          • ackwired

            Thanks for the edit. I understand the 2:00am thing.

  • UOG

    Good piece, Baron. I will only throw one additional item into your mix based on the widely published time-line surrounding the Newtown shootings. With a 20 minute delay before any “first responders” were on scene (characterized as a “good” response time by a number of police chiefs) it should be obvious to all that the capacity of the magazines used had no impact on the outcome at the scene. The shooter was the only armed person on site and he the time for a little additional magazine changing were it needed. A high capacity magazine ban would be just window dressing.

    Personally I believe the answer is School Resource Officers, provided by the local police (where available) or by the State Police in the absence of a local police force. Schools are a soft target that we need to harden.

    • jim_m

      A poll by Gallup suggests that people find placing a police presence at schools to be the best solution to deterrence, followed by improving the mental health system and decreasing the depictions of violence in the media.

      Interesting that giving guns to teachers actually edges out more gun control with more people thinking that it would be very effective or slightly effective in stopping these incidents.

      Whatever the course, UOG is right, putting someone on site with a weapon is the only way to stop these people once they start.

      • Brucehenry

        It makes a hell of a lot more sense to this liberal to have an armed School Resource Officer in every school than it does to arm Miss Penny.

        • When I was a CCW instructor, I decided that I wanted more teachers with skin in the game, so I started a program where I would teach anybody who worked at a school for free. No charge. Zip. They still had to pay the state for their background check and fingerprints, but all the instruction was free. I wanted more armed teachers in my state.

          I personally taught several hundred teachers. I quickly discovered that pretty much every single school in my state had at least one competent, capable, smart, willing individual. Some schools had more. I had one high school where the principal, three teachers, and a janitor showed up for class. They had just had an event where there had been a threat against the school and their resource officer had turned up AWOL.This had been a wake up call for this principal that they were on their own, and he had taken it upon himself to talk to his teachers to find the willing and capable. Good for them.

          • herddog505

            They had just had an event where there had been a threat against the school and their resource officer had turned up AWOL.This had been a wake up call for this principal that they were on their own…

            As the saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

          • Yep.

            Had a CCW license myself for a while, never actually carried, though. Where I work wouldn’t allow guns – which is why each year around this time I drop off a dozen hot Krispy-Kremes at the guard shack.

  • GarandFan

    Spot on Baron! Unfortunately, very few politicians THINK, they’d much rather cater to their base and pass “feel good” laws that do nothing. See? They’re “accomplishing” something.

    • Joe Lagle

      agree 100%!!!!!