US Politics

NOW is it ok to talk about guns?

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I was born and raised in Montana, and growing up as I did about a mile or so from town I had plenty of opportunities to familiarize myself with guns. We hunted often which brought me as a child out into the woods, in the pitch of black, at the earliest possible hours, where I smelled and heard massive animals that I could not see and quaked in my boots as those animals thunderously bugled back at us. I cherish countless such memories from my youth. By the time I was twenty I had fired “wimpy” rifles and rifles that could bring down an elk, semi-autos, paintball guns (technically “firearms”), even an 1860’s vintage musket not to mention a multitude of handguns and shotguns. Personally, I always loved the handguns. The 357 stands out for me because it looks the part – a stumpy, silver, serious-looking cowboy-style 6-shooter – and because while it punches a hole in a fence-post that accommodates a pencil, it doesn’t quite rebuke you for firing it the same way the 44 will.

I enjoy guns, I understand guns, but what I cannot understand and am enjoying less and less is the seemingly empty conversation about gun regulation in the United States. As I write this less than 24 hours has passed since an apparently unstable home-owner opened fire on an advancing constable sparking a shootout that killed 3 in Texas, less than two weeks have passed since a white supremacist marched into a doctrinally peaceful Sikh community in Wisconsin and opened fire killing 6, and less than a month has passed since James Holmes allegedly carried an arsenal into a movie theater down the road from my family’s new home in Denver Colorado – into a theater that friends and colleagues of mine frequent – and opened fire killing 12.

By some counts the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin brought the number of mass killings that the US has suffered since 1999 (the year of the Columbine massacre) to over 60. Yet in that time we have allowed the Brady Bill (a Clinton-era piece of legislation that would have outlawed many of the guns used in the Aurora shooting and which invigorated back-ground checks that may have hindered the rest) has been allowed to expire, and groups like ALEC and the NRA have successfully pushed conceal and carry as well as so called “stand your ground” laws through the legislative branches of several states. Laws like these make access to the weapons one needs to kill several people at a time incredibly easy – and we see the consequences in the United States every year.

Research comparing the United States to other developed nations in per-capita gun violence is tricky. This is primarily because the rest of the developed world hardly ever experiences them. Since 1999 Americans have witnessed mass shootings in high school and college campuses, a movie theater and in our backyards, even in a places of worship. The rest of the developed world with the exception of last year’s Norway shooter, has seen nothing like it. And yet we are told, as the veritable critic/comedian Bill Hicks once put it, “there’s no connection between having guns and shooting someone with them, and not having guns and not shooting someone, and you’d be a fool and a communist to make one.”

This country seemingly will not have a grown up conversation about guns. Many of us were told after the Aurora shooting that that ‘was not the time.’ We were told that it was somehow disrespectful to the dead to try to make sense of their slaughter. We were told that to search openly and vigorously for solutions so the rest of us can once again feel safe was putting politics where it was not wanted. Frankly, that response shocks me. It shocks me because of all of the things that shooting guns taught me growing up, the first and most important lesson was always, always, to respect their tremendous and immediate power. We neglect that lesson completely when we refuse to talk about the laws surrounding their ownership and use.

Guns are, technically, a privilege granted to us by the Constitution. While the fuse-ignited flint-locks of the 1700’s bear practically zero resemblance to the AR-15 assault rifle of today, pretending that they are not is futile. The Constitution famously relegates their use to “well organized militias,” sorely needed at the time to ward off the invading foreign armies of Britain and France as well as for protection against the “hostile” indigenous peoples of the frontier. The US now outspends the next three or four global spenders combined in national defense, it is hard to imagine a scenario where our national security depends on militias. One could possibly make the argument that guns are necessary to protect Americans from their own government, an argument demonstrated as fantasy over a hundred years ago. If an organized and internationally supported Confederacy, with all their guns and ammo and military training, could be so certainly and thoroughly crushed by Uncle Sam in 1865, what would our revolt look like with the US defense apparatus of today?  And nowhere in the Constitution does it justify the ownership of guns for individual, vigilante-style, civilian-versus-civilian self defense as “stand your ground” (or as I prefer “shoot first”) laws insist. I am in fact much more convinced that the opposite intent was the case in the Constitution, as seen in the establishment of the “inalienable right” to due process.

Obama knows gun regulation will set off a political fire-storm and given the nature of the more extreme adversaries of his I wouldn’t blame him for being legitimately fearful of proposing serious legislation. It is absolutely the case that gun advocates including the President of the NRA have stoked fears since his election (fears that so far have proven to be utterly unfounded) that what Obama “really wants” is to ban guns forever. Needless to say top-down reform seems, even in the wake of all that has happened this year, to be pretty far-fetched. But if it comes, it will very obviously be long overdue.

Nobody is seriously supporting prohibition – we have learned the lessons of prohibition and can only imagine the consequence if the “illicit material” were guns themselves – but something must be done. But nothing will be until we vigorously, sympathetically, openly, and eagerly discuss the problems, and the potential solutions, together.

About the author

A.P.Donaldson

Aaron Donaldson is a Helena, MT native currently living and working in Denver Colorado.

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  • The timing of a serious debate on guns couldn’t happen at a better time A.P..

    In fact Tester, Gilliam, Bullock, should all stand on their soap boxes this fall before the election and proclaim there must be a change in the proliferation of firearms.

    After all couldn’t you say that in urban areas such as Chicago and New York reasonable restrictions have all but eliminated violent gun crimes?

    Wasn’t the Brady Bill a sweeping success?

    And all this mistrust of Govt. stuff, give me a break. Homeland security needed those 450 million rounds in case Canada attacks.

    http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-28/news/31247765_1_atk-rounds-bullet

    Same goes for the weathermen.

    https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=bfd95987a1ad9a6dfb22bca4a19150cb&_cview=0

    What happens if we’re invaded and DHS can’t get accurate weather?

    Times a-waisting. Let’s get with it.

    • “After all couldn’t you say that in urban areas such as Chicago and New York reasonable restrictions have all but eliminated violent gun crimes?”

      Restricting guns on a state or regional level makes no sense if you don’t have strict customs on the border of your restricted area. Even Mexico can’t really control the weapons trade there, because the border is simply too porous.

  • Very well thought out and reasoned. You’ve voiced the frustration that has grown inside me since moving to Montana in ’92. I feel like saying anything short of touting the first amendment here gets you yelled at or mocked. Either way, the response has never been to think about a differing opinion, just to shout it down. Even though you’re in Colorodo now, I appreciate that someone from Montana thinks outside the box that I’m constantly told to think within.

  • Great post Aaron…its time to start having an adult conversation about guns, the constitution, and responsible regulation. Dont forget about all the craziness going on in Mexico thanks to how easy it is to buy and smuggle guns from the states and the reality of how limited our law enforcement agencies are in acting to prevent gun running. One small semantical point…your opponents will be quick to point out that guns are a “right” granted by the Bill of Rights as opposed to the easily taken away “privilege”. Not a terribly important point but one that people may jump all over to be argumentative and detract for the real conversation.

    • Thanks for your comments! Adam, I quibbled for awhile on whether or not to use the term privilege – I guess I resolved to do so based on the comparison I made later about the differences in firepower then and now. I think the defense-capacity of a militia (functionally defined above) was a right, the interpretation as to WHICH guns that amendment affords us more-or-less draws the lines of privilege. We all agree I can’t buy a Abram Tank with shells for instance, that’s NOT a right, but an AR-15 assault rifle with a 90-shot clip somehow is. Rather than bog down in that I used a problematic term. Not disagreeing with you at all, just providing some reasoning 🙂

  • It is obvious that the US has a higher rate of gun crime than the rest of the world, but I think the mass shootings are the wrong place to focus. After all, not just Norway but Germany, Scotland, Finland, and many other countries in northern Europe have experienced mass shootings in last few years, and multiple-victim stabbings in China have been on the rise and are in many cases as lethal.

    What sets the US apart, in my opinion, are the everyday murders that push our murder rate so much higher than the rest of the world. It’s unclear whether gun control could stop a determined, unstable individual from killing a lot of people. It’s pretty clear, though, that something needs to be done to prevent the sort of murders that happen every day. And Adam’s point about what our guns are doing in Mexico is obviously very relevant as well – our irrational fear of gun regulation and our gluttonous need for drugs are ripping that country apart.

  • Apologies for not signing in on my first comment, I’m new here 🙂

    Polish Wolf, agreed. I focus on the mass shootings because of the unique challenge they present to the US. Yes, ALL of those other countries have had SOME trouble with mass assaults, but none see the per-capita cost (born of redundancy) of these kinds of terrifying events like the US. One problem I REALLY have with the conversation around mass shootings is when people use them to justify MORE guns, I kind of wanted to push back on that notion as well.

    You’re absolutely right though if we really want to drive home the numbers we should be talking gun violence (assaults, shootings, suicides, murders, accidents …) as a whole in which case we once again see the US in a league of our own. One estimate I saw put the rate at 1 victim to gun violence every 30 seconds in the US. It’s appalling. As is the situation in Mexico and our glib ignorance to our participation in it.

  • Maybe the freedom to use and possess guns is a good thing.

    (AP) WASHINGTON – A man suspected of shooting and wounding a security guard in the lobby of a Christian lobbying group had been volunteering at a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

    A law enforcement official has identified the suspect arrested in Wednesday’s shooting as Floyd Corkins II of Herndon, Va. Investigators were interviewing his neighbors.

    Another official says the shooter made a negative reference about the work of the Family Research Council before opening fire. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

    David Mariner is executive director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. He says Corkins had been volunteering at the center for about the past 6 months. Mariner describes Corkins as “kind, gentle and unassuming.”

    Right guys?

    • So, what you’re saying is that it’s basically impossible to predict what sort of person is going to use a gun to hurt someone? I’d say we agree.

      • It goes even deeper than that, Polish Wolf. In our society, medical records (and by extension, mental health records) are protected. There is no way to ensure even those with a background of mental illness will not have legal access to firearms, knives, flammable gases/liquids or any other means to hurt someone else. The expectation that we can is ludicris on it’s face. It also isn’t a justification to take guns away from those of us that aren’t a menace to society due to an undiagnosed (or even diagnosed) mental defect. This direction for the discussion is a complete dead end and won’t help anyone. Unless someone has a criminal or civil record of violent behavior, you can’t prevent someone from owning a firearm. Moreover, to quote a line from the movie “Volcano”, “there is no history until something happens”. Most people who commit violent acts with firearms either obtained their firearm illegally or had no documented history of violent behavior.

        • You definitely have a better handle on this than I do- I’ve fired maybe three guns in my life. But it seems to me like the biggest issue needs to be getting a better handle on the flow of illegal (stolen, unlicensed) firearms. Again, the focus on massacres is unhelpful – people committing a massacre don’t care if they are killing people with a gun they purchased that is traceable to them, because they expect to get caught. But most murderers don’t want to get caught, and so wouldn’t use a gun they bought legally. I’ve heard some proposals about establishing better reporting and tracking of stolen guns, but I don’t know if they came to anything. It seems like common sense to me, though: if you own a gun, take pictures of the serial number, pictures of the gun, and if it’s ever stolen, give all that information to the police (and not just guns – anything valuable that can be traced).

          Also, we need to find a way to keep guns from crossing the border into Mexico. It’s bad enough to fund massive criminal enterprises in that country with our drug appetites, we don’t need to arm them, too. Ultimately it’s a job for Mexican border security, but we ought to be contributing to that.

        • Most people who commit violent acts with firearms either obtained their firearm illegally or had no documented history of violent behavior.

          You are using an “or” relating completely unrelated facts, and hence, the statement is only speciously true. Most gun violence is committed in domestic disputes, and there likely won’t be a history of violence until there is. True enough, especially given that one of the few things that background checks turn up immediately at time of purchase is a history of domestic. I’d say that’s a ‘gun control’ law that actually works to spec, if a background check is actually performed. The biggest flaw with your statement is this, what politicians are calling the “gun show loophole”. There are too many ways to get around the background check and still ‘obtain a firearm legally’.

          In short, you are dismissing a line of valid inquiry as “ludicrous” based on the fact that loopholes exist in law that does work, while failing to even acknowledge those loopholes at all. I’m not saying that you’re wrong. I’m just saying that blind spots are no excuse for dismissal.

          • Actually I have addressed many of the loopholes in the past as you well know. The author of the original post doesn’t… I conceed that.

            A few more statistics to muddy the waters. You are five times more likely to be shot with your own firearm (either by accident or in a suicide attempt) than you are to be the victim of a gun crime. True fact… look it up. Moreover, you are 11 times more likely to be the victim of a household fall than you are to be shot – either as an accident or as the victim of a gun crime. The point is, the news reports gun crimes, they don’t report accidents with guns or people who fall and injure themselves. There is a great deal of hype surrounding this issue and until you strip the hype away, you will fail to address the actual issue.

            To get back to your reply, I do not “dismiss” the loopholes. I simply think that we need to address the issues with a modicum of rationality. You are correct that the single highest cause of gun violence is domestic dispute. Most of the guns used in these disputes were legally obtained and would not have been effected at all by the Brady Act. There is no easy way to address this issue either – IF – the domestic dispute is the first one on record. That said, there are laws on the books in many states that limit or prevent people from buying guns if you have a history of domestic violence. Many of those laws are poorly written and are unenforcable. Moreover, even when the laws are well written, it requires a method of information sharing between law enforcement and the regulatory agency for gun sales that is often difficult or impossible to organize. There is no political will to resolve these issues either even though both law enforcement AND gun retailers want to see them resolved. Oregon went through this while I was in law enforcement. It was decided that trying to allow gun retailers access to that information was violation of security for law enforcement.

            In today’s age of computerized record keeping, there is no rational excuse to NOT making those records available. Conviction of a crime is a matter of public record and as such, those records should be available. Where it gets fuzzy (and this is the case more often than many want to acknowledge…), being accused of a crime is NOT a matter of public record. Let me give you an example. If a man is accused of domestic violence and the wife later decides to drop the issue, you legally CAN’T release record of the accusation as it is a violation of the man’s rights. If that man later shoots his wife (or as is more likely in today’s world according to statistics, the wife later shoots the man), you can say “well that domestic violence should have been caught” but you would be wrong, because the law says otherwise.

            I maintain that the idea that the mental condition of a person buying a gun is impossible to establish even if that person has been under the care of a professional. It is not legally possible at this point and I am not sure I would want to live in a society that my medical records were freely available to anyone.

            • Then how about this: A society where your medical records are freely available to other medical professionals? (The benefits of that go well beyond the current discussion.) And then let’s add that a medical professional can flag you as a potential for violence, and that information is shared with the background database. I know that seems terribly intrusive, but hear me out.

              Doctors are remarkably reluctant to share information concerning patients. Fine. But yet this nation thinks it incumbent on IT folks to report inappropriate computer content, and can prosecute them if they fail to report things like child-porn. How much buy-in would the system get if doctors could be prosecuted for failing to report violent tendencies in patients?

              Of course, there would have to be ways to appeal such a flag from one doctor (another terrific argument for national single payer, as well as being extremely effective in keeping guns out of the hands of people like Loehner, who was identified as a violence risk.) Win win.

              My little plan right here certainly is not without fault. It’s a fricking blog comment. Get over it. But it is a starting point for achieving a whole bunch of goals, including the one posited initially by The Polish Wolf.

              • The problem with that idea (at least the main problem I see now) is that there are federal rules you have to deal with and state rules you have to deal with. In most states in the US, a mental health professional is required by law to report a patient that is an obvious danger to himself or others. This is a judgement call, though, and many doctors have been sued over reporting their patients. A lot of doctors are unwilling to do so because of those suits. I don’t see an easy way to unravel that knot.

                I am actually with you on the centraliation of medical records. You have no idea how hard it has been collecting the various medical records dealing with my Mollarets so I can possibly get into a study being done on the disease (Yes, I have a rare disease called Mollarets – you are welcome to look it up and I am not ashamed to admit that I have it). I think we have a long way to go before we can make any kind of laws about reporting potential risks for gun purchasing though.

                • I don’t seriously think we have that far to go at all. We’ve put men on the moon, for pity’s sake. Facebook can tie people around the globe. And it’s too difficult to get US law-enforcement talking to each other or the medical community? What we lack is not ability, but commitment. Complexity is a dodge, not an impediment.

                  And that is why it is so very important to support the political will to do things differently, as opposed to, say, jumping on others because the political will isn’t behind them as you see it. Yes, that is a gentle chide.

                  We can mitigate gun violence, as well as improve our health provision without recourse to failed efforts of the past or threat to those who currently enjoy their freedoms. We just lack the commitment to do so.

  • Where to start….

    First, as a gun enthusiest, I have already hashed this out ad nausium on this site shortly after the theatre mass shooting. While I felt it was the wrong time to discuss it then – especially on this site – I did discuss it and laid out some pretty in depth information that the author of this post seemed to outright ignore.

    1) Gun ownership is a right. Deal with that simple fact for a second. Unless the Supreme Court overturns it’s decision (not likely to happen anytime soon in reality), that is a very legal situation you have to deal with. Any attempt to “ban” weapons – even a limited ban like the Brady Act – is likely to be challenged to the point of absurity. Understand that I do not necessarily agree with that simple fact, but it is a matter of reality that you have to deal with if you are going to have an adult, reasoned conversation about guns.

    2) Stop calling AR’s Assault weapons. They aren’t. By calling them an assault rifle, you are telling anyone that is a gun enthusiest that you don’t know what you are talking about. An M16/A4 is an assault rifle. A Remington AR-15 is NOT. In fact, there is little functional difference between the Remington AR-15 and my Remington 742 except that the AR-15 looks like a military rifle. If you are going to attempt to limit or ban weapons simply because they look dangerous, you have lost already and any effort you make will be as useless as the Brady Act was.

    3) The reason the Brady Act was not continued was because the legislation was epically flawed from the onset. Moreover, there simply wasn’t enough public or political support to even attempt to get it continued. That hasn’t changed, BTW. The majority of the voting public is still opposed to restrictive gun bans like the Brady Act. In fact, both the California and the Mass ban is under attack as we speak and not likely to survive if the public sentiment remains as high as it is now. Again, this is a reality you have to deal with whether you like it or not.

    There are things that can be done (and probably should be done) but if you approach the situation in the manner the original post was written, you get nowhere except with people who already agree with you. If you truly want to see something done, you have to be able to reach the people who DON’T currently agree with you and to do that, you have to know at least something about what you are talking about. There are plenty of us gun enthusiests that feels some changes need to be made, but if you start the conversation extrolling the wonders of the Brady Act, we will simply shake our heads and walk away.

    You also might want to do a little research on what happened with the so called “gun sales to Mexico”. It turns out the reality is much different than what our talking heads in Washington want you to believe it is. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to you…

  • Where to start….

    First, as a gun enthusiest, I have already hashed this out ad nausium on this site shortly after the theatre mass shooting. While I felt it was the wrong time to discuss it then – especially on this site – I did discuss it and laid out some pretty in depth information that the author of this post seemed to outright ignore.

    1) Gun ownership is a right. Deal with that simple fact for a second. Unless the Supreme Court overturns it’s decision (not likely to happen anytime soon in reality), that is a very legal situation you have to deal with. Any attempt to “ban” weapons – even a limited ban like the Brady Act – is likely to be challenged to the point of absurity. Understand that I do not necessarily agree with that simple fact, but it is a matter of reality that you have to deal with if you are going to have an adult, reasoned conversation about guns.

    2) Stop calling AR’s Assault weapons. They aren’t. By calling them an assault rifle, you are telling anyone that is a gun enthusiest that you don’t know what you are talking about. An M16/A4 is an assault rifle. A Remington AR-15 is NOT. In fact, there is little functional difference between the Remington AR-15 and my Remington 742 except that the AR-15 looks like a military rifle. If you are going to attempt to limit or ban weapons simply because they look dangerous, you have lost already and any effort you make will be as useless as the Brady Act was.

    3) The reason the Brady Act was not continued was because the legislation was epically flawed from the onset. Moreover, there simply wasn’t enough public or political support to even attempt to get it continued. That hasn’t changed, BTW. The majority of the voting public is still opposed to restrictive gun bans like the Brady Act. In fact, both the California and the Mass ban is under attack as we speak and not likely to survive if the public sentiment remains as high as it is now. Again, this is a reality you have to deal with whether you like it or not.

    There are things that can be done (and probably should be done) but if you approach the situation in the manner the original post was written, you get nowhere except with people who already agree with you. If you truly want to see something done, you have to be able to reach the people who DON’T currently agree with you and to do that, you have to know at least something about what you are talking about. There are plenty of us gun enthusiests that feels some changes need to be made, but if you start the conversation extrolling the wonders of the Brady Act, we will simply shake our heads and walk away.

    You also might want to do a little research on what happened with the so called “gun sales to Mexico”. It turns out the reality is much different than what our talking heads in Washington want you to believe it is. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to you…

  • First, sorry about the double post. Feel free to delete one of them. Your comment system was having hickups when I posted.

    Second, I want to leave you with one final thought. Consider that people like the fund raisers for the NRA and that completely wacked nutcase, Gary Malbut WANT you to start this discussion. In fact, they WANT you to start the discussion in the exact manner that you have. They would be more happy if you started off more stridently like that idiot Feinstein but what you have written will do nicely. They want you to justify all their efforts to “protect freedom and an armed civil society” and they want you to justify asking each and every gun owner for money to fight the “lefty conspiracy” that only exists to pry those guns from their cold dead fingers.

    I am not saying that the discussion shouldn’t happen. I am saying that you are going about it the wrong way.

  • Hi Moorcat,

    I’m sorry if I “flat out ignored” your earlier post … did you see my comment earlier that I am new to this site? Also, did you flat out ignore that part in my post about the Constitution? Because I put a lot in there about that and yet it’s your first point (which you make after accusing me of “flat out ignoring” stuff you said weeks ago. Same goes with the “appropriateness” of this issue … did you read my whole post? I’m going to move on to the stuff I haven’t already touched, if you want to return to that conversation let me know.

    On to your second argument. What is it about folks opposed to this discussion that makes it ok to equate “calling a gun by the wrong name” to “we don’t have to listen to you anymore?” It happens to me a lot, on my facebook in fact a gun advocate dismissed a statement a friend made on the basis that he overstated the amount of guns at the Aurora shooting by ONE “if you can’t get the simple facts straight,” he said,”I don’t have to listen to you” … now I’m told if I call an AR-15, a semi-automatic 90-shot weapon an “assault rifle” I lose the discussion completely? Isn’t that kind of evasive? How bad does the “factual error” have to be before YOUR arguments are rendered moot? Your post, for instance, has LOTS of spelling errors … does that mean YOU can be dismissed completely?

    Perhaps more to the point, can you provide a definition of an assault rifle, ideally one that establishes the SIGNIFICANCE between an “assault rifle” and an AR-15, so I can understand the extent of my error? As is it seems REALLY nitpicky …

    Also, please avoid arguing FOR me (“If you are going to attempt to limit or ban weapons simply because they look dangerous, you have lost already and any effort you make”) and instead address the arguments I MADE on this issue (that the AR-15 would have been illegal under Brady and thus, reasonably, HARDER for someone like Holmes to get)?

    The closest you get to directly engaging my points is on the Brady Bill itself but you start by making an unwarranted and unquantified claim: it was “epicly flawed” Can you explain how? Can you explain how those flaws are worse than what replaced the Brady Bill, which is nothing? You’re right, the Brady Bill was not perfect, it was not a solution to all gun violence ever, but it was a step which I feel made some guns illegal (note not ALL) and which put hurdles in between people with criminal records and guns without placing an unnecessary or unjustifiable burden no the American public. I may be underestimating the extent of the damage it did, enlighten me?

    Those individuals can continue to use my statements to stoke fear, the question is whether or not those tactics will encourage people (maybe like you) from dismissing the argument all together. I’m begging people not to, they will do their bit.

    It is absolutely possible to craft sane legislation like the Brady Bill (even to REFORM that legislation to alleviate hidden “epic” flaws!) but until folks can HAVE the conversation (meaning don’t wave it away because I called a gun a wrong name, or because I can’t solve every murder ever, or because someone might distort my words) we wont.

  • Hi Moorcat,

    I’m sorry if I “flat out ignored” your earlier post … did you see my comment earlier that I am new to this site? Also, did you flat out ignore that part in my post about the Constitution? Because I put a lot in there about that and yet it’s your first point which you make after accusing me of “flat out ignoring” stuff you said weeks ago. Same goes with the “appropriateness” of this issue … did you read my whole post? I’m going to move on to the stuff I haven’t already touched, if you want to return to that conversation let me know.

    On to your second argument. What is it about folks opposed to this discussion that makes it ok to equate “calling a gun by the wrong name” to “we don’t have to listen to you anymore?” It happens to me a lot, on my facebook in fact a gun advocate dismissed a statement a friend made on the basis that he overstated the amount of guns at the Aurora shooting by ONE “if you can’t get the simple facts straight,” he said,”I don’t have to listen to you” … now I’m told if I call an AR-15, a semi-automatic 90-shot weapon an “assault rifle” I lose the discussion completely? Isn’t that kind of evasive? How bad does the “factual error” have to be before YOUR arguments are rendered moot? Your post, for instance, has LOTS of spelling errors … does that mean YOU can be dismissed completely?

    Perhaps more to the point, can you provide a definition of an assault rifle, ideally one that establishes the SIGNIFICANCE between an “assault rifle” and an AR-15, so I can understand the extent of my error? As is it seems REALLY nitpicky …

    Also, please avoid arguing FOR me (“If you are going to attempt to limit or ban weapons simply because they look dangerous, you have lost already and any effort you make”) and instead address the arguments I MADE on this issue (that the AR-15 would have been illegal under Brady and thus, reasonably, HARDER for someone like Holmes to get)?

    The closest you get to directly engaging my points is on the Brady Bill itself but you start by making an unwarranted and unquantified claim: it was “epicly flawed” Can you explain how? Can you explain how those flaws are worse than what replaced the Brady Bill, which is nothing? You’re right, the Brady Bill was not perfect, it was not a solution to all gun violence ever, but it was a step which I feel made some guns illegal (note not ALL) and which put hurdles in between people with criminal records and guns without placing an unnecessary or unjustifiable burden no the American public. I may be underestimating the extent of the damage it did, enlighten me?

    Those individuals can continue to use my statements to stoke fear, the question is whether or not those tactics will encourage people (maybe like you) from dismissing the argument all together. I’m begging people not to, they will do their bit.

    It is absolutely possible to craft sane legislation like the Brady Bill (even to REFORM that legislation to alleviate hidden “epic” flaws!) but until folks can HAVE the conversation (meaning don’t wave it away because I called a gun a wrong name, or because I can’t solve every murder ever, or because someone might distort my words) we wont.

    • Your defensiveness is what makes this so obviously a lost cause. Instead of actually responding to what I wrote, you jumped immediately to defense mode and thereby weakening any position you might have.

      Let me make this perfectly clear. I actually beleive that some things should be done. Yep, you read that right. Many of us that are gun enthusiests do. I know that doesn’t fit in with the narrative in your head, but it is a fact none the less. We even occationally talk about it. Sadly, people like you jump to the obvious defensiveness that you are so adequately displaying here and the conversation you so despirately want ends.

      Yes, I did miss the part where you said you were new to the site and my assumption that you had read the recent article on this site about the theatre shooting was just that, an assumption. I apologize about that. I would recommend that you actually go and read that discussion.

      I did not ignore your statements about the Constitution. I responded to them. Gun Ownership is a Constitutional Right as it stands now. I have heard the arguments you make and while I even agree with some of them, they are moot as it stands now. Gun ownership has been established by the recent Supreme Court decision and that is that. To proceed under the world you would like it to be rather than the world that exists is delusional. Maybe at some time in the future, your arguments will once again be considered by the Supreme Court but as it stands now, no.

      Let me make something else painfully clear. You are in the minority – certainly not on this blog, but in the real world, as it stands now – you are in the minority. You need to get this because it is important. The Gun Lobby (and, in fact, the majority of American Citizens) support gun rights and they are stronger than the Fienstein anti gun group. As such, you are at a disadvantage in starting a conversation about any kind of limits on gun ownership or gun regulation. Every single little nitpick will be used to shut you down and if the conversation stops, you have accomplished nothing. Remember what I said above.. I believe – as a gun enthusiest – that some things should be done. That said, I have no investment in continuing the conversation with someone that doesn’t understand what they are talking about.

      One last note before I actually begin to discuss your reply… I have disgraphia. I will give you a pass because you say you are new to the blog but it is a well known thing in these here parts that my spelling in atrocious. I often miss letters, use the wrong letters (“in” instead of “is” etc) and sometimes I miss complete words. It has to do with the simple fact that things get messed up between my brain and my hands. I have yet to find a decent spell checker that works with the browser I am using so I simply do the best I can. My bad spelling has nothing to do with my intellegence or my knowledge on this subject and to assert otherwise once again shuts down the conversation – a thing that hurts you far more than it hurts me.

      Now on to the actual meat of the discussion.

      You are welcome to call a Beretta AR clone an assault rifle. We will laugh at you for doing so, but you are welcome to do so none the less. In fact, that is one of the key reasons that the Brady Act was an epic fail. Since it is obvious that you do not understand why it is both wrong and an epic fail, it makes it even more difficult to have this discussion.

      An Assault rifle is a military weapon that (with few exceptions) is either selective fire or fully automatic. They usually have inhanced capabilities not available to civilians (shorter barrels, silenced or suppressed, special devices again not available to the public, etc). To purchase an actual assault weapon (like the M16/A4), you are required to have a special license and in some states, a civilian can’t purchase one at all.

      Now I will conceed that many of today’s most popular rifles share some similarities to those military rifles. All of the AR clones are capable of using extended magazine capacities, they have more accessories that you can buy than a typical barbie doll and they LOOK like the military weapon. Same goes with the myriad of AK clones, FAL clones, Thomson clones, M1 carbine clones… etc, etc ad finitum. The fact remains that they are NOT the military weapons they are meant to look like. Using the term “Assault Weapon” to describe a civilian semi auto rifle is not only inaccurate, it indicates either a lack of knowledge OR (and this is the important part…) a willingness to use “scary language” to influence the discussion. It is the second possibility that concerns gun enthusiests the most.

      Let me make another clear point. The Winchester 70 .300 mag my brother owns and the Remington 700 that many people have in their gun cabinet bea

      • “Let me make something else painfully clear. You are in the minority”

        Well let me make something painfully clear to you Moorcat. No, he’s not. You are assuming his stance before and without actually accepting what it is. Almost every poll taken on the subject since the shooting of Rep. Giffords in Tucson shows a bit of a contradiction. Yes, the majority of Americas favor “gun rights” as long as it is left generic, implying ‘right to own’. The majority of Americans have switched to favoring some form of rational gun laws hoping to prevent further mass shootings. So, exactly how is Mr. Donaldson in the minority unless you are assuming his position for him?

        That’s called a Straw Man argument, and when it’s used to paint the ‘opponent’ as extreme, as you have here, it is usually more evidence of the extreme stance taken by the user. In this case, that would be you.

        • I am aware of the polls, Rob, and I still maintain he is in the minority as long as he is repeating the Feinstein mantra. If you consider me “defensive” than this conversation is designed to fail. I am not a Malbut bot or a rapid “second amendment” person. The ones with the political power and the will to use it are. I simply strongly suggest a rational conversation without the misconceptions or Fienstein idiocy. It is not a strawman no matter how much you want it to be.

          • If you are having a discussion with Rep. Diane Feinstein, then of course, you aren’t using a Straw Man. You’re not, so you are. Labeling a line of inquiry as “idiotic” and loudly pronouncing anything you find related as unworthy of discussion, is precisely a Straw Man. And I would point out that you are using a whole bunch of bytes to argue something you claim you won’t argue.

            There is a not-so-subtle difference between dismissing an argument and denigrating it as worthy of dismissal thereby any you think hold truck with such argument. Please consider that.

    • Please allow me to clarify just a few points from my brother’s comment, hopefully in a less condescending manner (hint, hint Moorcat).

      The ‘militia clause’ of the second amendment has been dealt with by the SCOTUS, though not to the satisfaction of either side of the debate. Please review the decision Heller v. Washington D.C. To that extent, Moorcat is correct that the constitutionality of the Brady Bill has already been decided, and not in it’s favor.

      The Brady Bill was flawed, ‘epically’ being an opinion I share. For a law to be un-flawed, it has to be constitutional, can be effectively implemented and enforced, and has to be reasonably specific about what it covers. The Brady Bill failed on all those levels. A few reasons why:

      1) The function (‘lethality’ if you will) of a firearm is not defined by it’s ‘furniture’, or as Moorcat puts it, “the way it looks”. A ‘military’ style of weapon is no more lethal than a hunting style of weapon. They just look that way. The lethality of a firearm is defined by it’s effectiveness at range (that varies a lot), it’s calibration (size and power of the shell, it’s manufactured accuracy, rate of fire, it’s capacity and of course, the skill and intent of the user. All of those factors defy specifics in legislation. For example, the AK-47, a true assault rifle, has substantial power but lacks accuracy at range. It makes up for that in capacity and rate of fire. Except at short range, I would be more frightened of someone with ill intent packing a lever action 30.30. The Brady Bill addressed next to none of those factors, favoring language of “style” over actual function. One thing it did address was …

      2) Capacity. The BB limited magazine size for rifled firearms to 10 shells, or rather it limited the sale of ‘high-cap mags’. Unlike Moorcat, I believe such legislation can have some effectiveness, but it needs to close loopholes and take specifics into account. Many modern handguns have a manufactured capacity of higher than ten. Some are used by law-enforcement, so a blanket ban on sale and manufacture is at best self-defeating.

      3) Loopholes. The Brady bill simply could not be enforced given the amount of ‘contraband already in the wild, and that there was no method for prohibition of private sale. During the debate over it’s passage it was suggested that we treat contraband hardware in the same manner we treat illegal drugs, a war on guns per se. I don’t think I need to waste a lot of words describing why that is a colossally bad idea.

      Though a lot of folks dismiss the Brady bill (and thereby dismiss discussion of the topic, hint, hint Moorcat) it is extremely important to review what doesn’t work if there is to be any discussion of rational gun laws. Nor is it really helpful to mix such a discussion with one of political will in a generic sense, which unfortunately this post does right from the title.

    • Sorry, fat fingered that one… It happens when I type too fast.

      Let me make another clear point. The Winchester 70 .300 mag my brother owns and the Remington 700 that many people have in their gun cabinet bears almost NO difference to the military sniper weapons being used currently by the armed services or the police. The military and police weapons are probably better tuned and they likely have some accessories that are not available to the public, but it would take me all of two weeks and a few hundred bucks to turn my brother’s Winchester into a sub MOA sniper rifle capable of putting a bullet in the head of a bad guy at 1000 yards.

      This lies at the heart of why the Brady Act was such an epic fail. The Brady Act (like the Patriot Act) was a gut reaction to a horrible event. It was poorly crafted, it did not address the actual problem and it was utterly incapable of having any significant effect on what it was suppose to address – that being gun crime. In fact, gun crime had been decreasing for years prior to the Brady Act and the Brady Act had ZERO effect on gun crime. NONE.

      The Brady Act targeted three things – imported firearms, “Black Rifles”, and magazine capacity. It was a BAN, not regulation. As such, it was destined to fail before it began.

      Imported Weapons – many of the guns we own are not actually made in the US. Heckler and Koch, AKs, SKS, FN, Mosin, etc are all made overseas. Since many of the guns imported to the US are either military style weapons or are actual military collectable weapons, the Brady Act banned their import. What the Brady Act couldn’t or didn’t do was prevent those already here from being sold, traded, or even black marketed. In fact, a thriving black market in foreign guns did develop BECAUSE of the Brady Act. Century Arms made a mint buying the rights to produce American made versions the more popular foriegn guns and they marketed them under the restrictions of the Brady Act just as AK’s are being produced to meet the uber restrictions in California and Mass.

      At the time the Brady Act was passed, I was competing in long range rifle and pistol shooting. One of the guns I used was a Hecker & Koch G3. This is a .308 caliber semi auto rifle, and in my not so humble opinion, one of the finest medium range rifles ever produced. It was so accurate that even the US military used them as sniper rifles for years. Prior to the Brady Act, they were not cheap. I paid $1600 for mine and added over $700 of optics and accessories. It would drive a tack at 600 yards and I won a number of competitions with it. After the Brady Act was passed, it sky rocketed in price and when I finally sold mine (I sold most of my guns when I got custody of my kids), I got over $4000 for it. Today, they are still expensive (north of $2,000) but they are still one of the best .308 rifles made.

      None of this reduced gun crime though. Damn few shootings were EVER done with an imported gun. They were just a juicy target and it made the Act look more attractive to the slavering masses attempting to disarm those of us that enjoyed shooting.

      “Black Rifles” –

      The second target of the Brady Act is where your use of the term “Assault Weapon” will instantly turn away the very people you WANT to be on your side. The Brady Act targeted “Assault Weapons”. They defined Assault weapons as any gun that looked like a military semi auto. This was utterly stupid and completely counter productive. Rifles with pistol grips were banned. WTF? Does a pistol grip on a rifle make it somehow more likely to be used in a crime? Statistically, that can’t be supported and factually it can’t be supported. What a pistol grip does do, though, is reduce felt recoil. That is why really high end hunting rifles are made available with “thumbhole” stocks – especially those in higher calibers. Those of us that have done professional shooting already knew this. Now the public at large is figuring it out. If you look at almost every major gun producer in the US, they are offering rifles with a pistol grip configuration. It only makes sense.

      This goes to the heart of the problem. Military weapons are designed – specifically – to be more effecient. Civilian arms will adopt those features that are beneficial to those shooting them after the military develops them. In fact, it is somewhat amazing to me that it took so long. Most of my rifles are pistol gripped – even the ones that didn’t start out that way. I learned that when I shooting 500 rounds of .308 ammo a day competing.

      The Brady Act banning guns with a pistol grip configuration had no basis in any kind of logical reasoning. They did it because it was an easy way to “remove the evil military rifles from circulation”. Again, they failed because those “evil military rifles” already existed in circulation and by banning them, they created a black market for them. Individuals and even companies were mass producing pistol grip after market additions for even popular sporting rifles like Remington 742. I have one on mine.

      When you attempt to limit something based on how it looks, you are not addressing anything. Moreover, there is NO data to suggest more people are killed each year with “Black rifles” than with any other kind of gun (the exception being handguns but we will get to that shortly).

      The Brady Act also limited things like clip fed shotguns. Why? The largest clip fed shotgun at the time only carried 7 rounds in the clip. I can put more into a Mossberg 500 pump. Were there lots of crimes being committed by people with clip fed shotguns (the answer to that question is “No” BTW). This brings me to the last part of the Brady Act…

      Limited Magazine Capacity –

      The Brady Act limited magazine capacity to 10 rounds for rifles and handguns and 3 rounds for shotguns. It put a moritorium on the production of aftermarket high capacity magazines too.

      Magazine capacity is one area where I think some work can be done but the Brady Act was a complete fail. First, many of the firearms of the time – especially pistols – had a standard capacity far in excess of 10 rounds. There were tens of thousands of these magazines in circulation and they were still available – legally – when the Brady Act went away in 2004. The only effect this mandate had was that it A) killed the production of a few firearms like the FN-13, the Bernelli pistol (an 18 shot 9mm), and few others and B) raised the price of the existing high capacity pistols, rifles, shotguns and magazines into the stratosphere.

      It was the only logical conclusion possible. Unless you are advocating taking away those that already exists (in which case this conversation is DONE with me), you have no way to just magically make them go away. They already exist and they will continue to be sold, traded or even stolen no matter what restrictions you put on them.

      Now … All that said, there are things that can be done and many that probably should be done. I would be more than happy to discuss those with you if you would like, but lose the defensiveness and lose the misconceptions. I am not interested in a having a conversation with a better worded version of the Feinstein idiocy. I am more than happy to discuss actual things that could be done that would have a real impact on gun crime.

      • Considering that you and I agree on many ideas for rational gun control, it would likely be helpful to discussion if you would bring those up; especially given the vast number of words you’ve written as to what discussions you’re willing to have and which you aren’t. 🙂

  • Rob is right.. I am somewhat defensive at this point – as are many that are rational gun enthusiests. We have been having this discussion ad nausium since the wack job opened fire in the Aurora Theatre. Sadly, many of the rational gun enthusiests have stopped arguing and are simply dismissing every attempt to discuss the issue – leaving people Gary Malbut and the NRA to be the mouth peices for the gun enthusiest side of things. He is also right in that I have been discussing what I really don’t want to discuss – the Fienstein idiocy that seems to prevail on the gun control side of things.

    That said, as long as the conversation starts with talk of reinstating the Brady Act, that is where the conversation will go. That was my point all along. It is a dead end street for both sides and in today’s political world, it will mean that NOTHING is done.

    Instead, I will attempt to go a different direction.

    Eliminating guns from American Society is impossible at this time (and in my opinion, not going to happen in the foreseeable future). Any attempt to do so will meet with utter failure and be counter productive. Even the mention of banning or limiting gun ownership will send the Malbuts into apoplexy and gun sales, ammo sales and gun activism will skyrocket – much the way it did when President Obama was elected. Sadly, it will happen again this year and next year since both Obama and Romney are perceived by these people as wanting to take the guns from their cold dead fingers. The end result is a political environment where rational gun control/gun regulation laws will be difficult, if not impossible to enact and the cost of guns, accessories and ammo will sky rocket again (if you can’t tell, that is the part of this that really hurts me since I am unlikely to be the victim of gun crime in Dillon Montana).

    All that said.. let’s talk about what can be done…

    First I will address an issue that I think will have almost no effect on gun crime but will make the Fienstein people happy. I think high capacity mags should be regulated like any other military/police accessory. To purchase one, you should have to either have a specialty licence (like a class III collectors license) or be law enforcement/military. This would not really effect the manufacturers (other than they would have to figure out how to make the damn things work right), but it would put a damper on them getting into the hands of wackjobs like Holmes. Now understand that there are quite literally thousands of these mags already in circulation and there is no effective way to take them out of circulation. A ban like this would prevent “Sportsman’s Guide” from selling them but it wouldn’t stop Joe Militia member from selling a couple of hundred round AR mags to his buddy Bubba. There is no effective way to stop that and trying to do so would be frustrating to everyone – most especially law enforcement. Limit mag capacity to a reasonable amount (I would suggest 25 rounds since that covers most of the existing firearms in the US today) and anything above that requires special licensing. Moreover, institute mandatory penalties to those that use any high capacity specialty mags in a crime. It doesn’t prevent the crime (laws rarely do) but it does give the judiciary a tool to punish those that do severly.

    Attempting to limit magazine capacities below the common capacity of existing manufactured guns will cause two problems. The Gun/Magazine manufacturers will push back because you are literally taking away their revenue, and you give the Malbut bots another peice of ammunition to attack you with. If you limit these high capacity AFTER MARKET mags to law enforcement and military, you reduce the effectiveness of the Malbut bots to argue. I would guess (and yes, I admit it is a guess) that the majority of the voting public would approve or at least accept that distinction.

    Now this will effect some production guns. Anyone remember the Calico? I got to fire one of the 9mm versions many years ago. The Brady Act killed that gun. A limit of 25 rounds will similarly kill the sale and production of some guns or it will force the manufactorers to find workarounds. One such gun is the FN P-90S. It is a civilian version of the FN – 90 Assault weapon and it has a 40 round magazine. Knowing FN and the popularity of the gun, they would most likely offer a civilian version with a 25 round magazine but there are others that might decide to simply not produce the gun anymore (like Calico).

    I brought up the P-90 for a reason, BTW. There are some significant differences between the P-90 and the P-90S that should be noted. Besides the fact that the P-90S is NOT selective fire like the P-90, it also has a 16″ barrel, making it legal in the US. Now there is a civilian version of the P-90 (The P-90SX) which has a shorter barrel similar to the P-90. You can purchase this weapon with a special license issued by law enforcement. Same goes with any short barreled rifle or shotgun. The license is easier to obtain than a class III license but still involves a lengthy application and serious background check. This is what I am proposing for anyone wanting to purchase a high capacity magazine.

    Second thing that should be done – Centralization of records and a federal mandatory background check regulation.

    At this point, Background checks are up to the state to legislate. There is no federal standard and as such there is no way to centralize or standardize background checks. This not only creates loopholes in regulation laws, it makes it impossible for law enforcement to reasonably deal with background checks. The Federal Government should establish a minimum standard of background check required to purchase a firearm. That standard should be simple and basic. A state is always allowed to make a more restrictive background check standard, but if a basic standard exists, then Law Enforcement can coordinate them. Moreover, it would make it easier for a gun retailer to know what is expected of them. In studying for my FFL (Federal Firearms License for those that don’t know), I am finding that even researching local and state firearm laws can be a pain. There is no standard to go by and the state laws are all over the map. It is incomprehesable and as such, impossible to enforce. Standardizing background checks would eliminate this rat’s nest (or at least reduce it to something that is enforceable). This will send the NRA and the Malbut crowd into apoplexy but it is the only way you will ever even begin to weed some of the loopholes out of the law.

  • Moorcat,

    There’s a lot here, Rob essentially summed up my feelings to your first post – the condescending tone not-withstanding you wrote a lot and added a little. Your most recent post really gets closer to participating, which is really all I was asking for in the first place. Not to be dismissed as ignorant for not knowing my “assault rifles” (spelling errors have legitimate reasons, so do gun errors, that’s all there) or to be told that I’m a “Feinstein” person (whatever that means), and not to be told that laws don’t solve anything. Rather I was wondering what enthusiasts (like you, and me) can AGREE to in terms of regulation. You’ve gone there, I appreciate that, I think that’s about as far as my thread can take us.

    • Frankly, I don’t care if you approve of my comments or not. What I care is that you understand them. The fact that you feel I added little leads me to believe that you don’t.

      I have stood in front of the Oregon Legislature in full dress uniform and made many of the same arguments I made here over two decades ago. I do so four weeks after putting two .45 caliber bullets through the head of a bad guy that had hosed my cruiser down (156 rounds) with a couple of illegally obtained automatic weapons. This a “fight” I have been waging for the better part of two decades and what I continue to be met with is the Fienstein attitude you display here. I am understandably tired of it and I will go back to lurking on this blog. Deal with the Malbut bots if you want. They will certainly have a lot to say to you but I doubt it will be here.

      • And frankly, I do care that you’re going out of your way to be a dick about this. You are, have been and continue to personalize this for no damned reason. Knock it off, bro.

        You appearing before the Oregon legislature in uniform or butt naked means nothing to a current discussion of rational gun laws. It gives you no authority here save what you claim to have. That is no different than Matthew Kohler claiming special right because he was important enough to speak to Congress about the environment. Would someone who lost a relative in Aurora have more authority about the topic (stopping gun violence) than you? After all, they know more about the topic at hand. You just keep denigrating people for knowing less about the tool. The only people likely to know more about firearms than you are those far to the right of you, the very ones you denigrate. Yet you are claiming authority over those who know less about guns than you. So does Marbut. If you think he’s a dick for doing so, then why are you supporting the very arguments he makes? I repeat, knock it off.

        And yes, for the record, you are pissing me off. This isn’t a “fight”, and you look ridiculous for treating it as such while putting that in scare-quotes. It is a fight, to you, one you claim to be tired of and refuse to avoid though you constantly claim you’re avoiding it.. Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’. Just because you know a great deal about guns doesn’t mean you know anything more about gun control laws than anyone else. You are not the final arbiter of any Montana online discussion of gun control, any more than the emo-progs are the final say on Democratic politics. I love your threat about the Marbut bots showing up here. I welcome it because I can kick their asses with no regrets. But why should they when you are carrying their water for them?

        It appears to me that if A.P. didn’t understand your arguments, it’s because you didn’t make them very well. That’s not his fault. It’s yours. You can’t tell me I didn’t understand your arguments; you know I do. And until I said something, even I don’t think you added anything to the discussion. It is no wonder another would think so too.

        Here’s a suggestion for the future. If you want to discuss rational gun laws, don’t start by telling everyone else how stupid they are for bringing the topic up when they are so very ignorant. Discuss what could be rational gun laws instead of brow-beating people over irrational gun laws. Educate, don’t denigrate. And most of all, remember that the topic isn’t about you. The topic isn’t personal and yet you seem desperate to make it so. No one is coming for your guns. You pointed out, rightly, that discussion is over. And yet you keep bringing it up.

        In case you’ve missed it, *I* think it is high fricking time we have a rational discussion about gun violence. That can’t happen when people are being irrational. Ignorance can be overcome. Self-importance not so much. I love you a great deal, my brother. So please take me seriously when I tell you, it’s time to knock it off. Discuss the topic, and help those who don’t understand. That’s the only manner in which anything gets solved.

  • Three – limiting access to large ammo purchases to point of sale.

    There is a multi-million dollar business in the US centered around selling ammunition by mailorder. Hell, I buy most of my ammo online. I can get a better than reasonable price for it and by ordering in lots of 500 – 1000 rounds, I can get significant savings. Limiting this access will financially hurt me but it will also prevent people like Holmes (and even more seriously people like the militia group that was planning a mass attack on the FBI funeral) from getting large quantities of ammo without every seeing another human being.

    By point of sale, I mean that you would have to physically walk into a store, plop down your cash and walk out with the ammo.

    Now make no mistake. Attempting to completely stop mail order sales of ammo isn’t going to happen in the US today. In fact, I think it likely that it isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future. What I think you might be able to accomplish is putting a rational limit on the amount of ammo you could purchase online/mail order. Moreover, I think that these retailers should be required to keep specific records on who is purchasing ammo in quantities.

    Now this will get serious pushback. The retailers will pushback because A) it will put regulations on their operations and B) anytime you force record keeping on a retailer you are increasing their overhead. The Malbut crowd will push back because they will say you are trying to limit their access to ammo for their guns. People like me will push back for the simplest of all reasons.. it will cost us more.

    All that said, I think it possible that you could convince a majority of the voting public that offering case lots of thousands of rounds of ammo without manditory record keeping is probably a bad idea. I think that actual point of sale retailers should also be required to keep at least a minimum record of large ammo buys. People like me that shoot large amounts of ammo legally and without harmful intent won’t mind presenting our ID to a retailer if it means we can get our ammo at a reduced cost. People like Holmes might not want his ID on record.

    This won’t stop Joe bad guy from walking into 10 different stores and purchasing 100 rounds in each store. It will provide some record keeping, though, of large ammo sales. I doubt this will have any effect other than increase the price of ammo, but it might stop the one or two people that have planned bad things like Holmes.. maybe.

    Four – This is a law enforcement thing and it probably won’t stop any gun crime. What it will do is give police officers the ability to investigate gun crime after it happens.

    It is my belief (and the expressed belief of many in Law Enforcement) that every gun manufactured in the US should be test fired at the factory and the cases/bullets from that test firing should be entered into the national firearms database. In fact, some gun manufactureres are already doing that (though they certainly don’t talk about it given the Malbut crowd). This gives Law Enforcement one more tool to investigate gun crime and (hopefully) track the gun back to the owner/owners of the gun. Any tools we can give Law Enforcement to deal with gun crimes is a plus and can have a REAL impact on gun crime.

    Further, it should be manditory that any gun used in a crime is destroyed upon conviction. This is already the rule in many jurisdictions but sadly not in all of them. This will reduce the number of illegal guns in circulation.

    Five – The gun show loophole.

    As most of you know, to sell a gun requires a special license – an FFL. In fact, there are multiple levels of FFL. I won’t get into them all but suffice it to say, an FFL is a complicated license to get and there are lots of rules involved. Sadly, there are also a lot of loopholes around an FFL.

    Those that hold an FFL are bound by certain legal requirements when it comes to selling a firearm. There is a certain amount of required paperwork you must fill out and rules concerning how long you must keep that paperwork. In Montana, those rule are rediculously lax. In California, those rules are impossibly complex and unenforceable. Regardless, the rules still exist and failure to comply can not only cause that license to be removed, you can be fined or jailed.

    Sadly, you can get completely around an FFL through a number of loopholes in the law. There is nothing illegal about me giving you a firearm (at least here..) as a gift. I could personally sell you a firearm (think garage sale). I can go to a gun show and trade a firearm. These are the so called “gun show loopholes”. In some states, you can drive a semi truck through them. New Jersey is actually one of the worse offenders. Some states have taken rudimentary steps to seal some of these loopholes.

    The one you will never seal is the one where I can simply give a gun to someone else. What you can do, though, is pass laws that make me responcible for any crime the person I gave the gun to commits. Some states have those laws. Most do not.

    Any sales of firearms, though, should be required to follow at least a minimum procedure (not the least of which is that a person with an FFL should be involved. If I want to sell my Remington rifle to my next door neighbor, I should be required to do down to the local gun shop, and we both fill out the necessary paperwork, my neighber pays me for the rifle and we both go happily down the road. Hell, the gun store owner could even charge a small fee for using his background check resource.

    This would also effect the gun shows. Sellers at gun shows would either be required to have an FFL or be required to involve someone that does. Moreover, anyone selling a gun at a gunshow should be required to meet the state background check laws. It isn’t as if we don’t have wireless phones, wireless laptops and the ability to fill out paperwork at a gun show.

    Where this will get tricky is in states that have waiting laws. Montana does not have a waiting period on the purchase of a firearm. Many states do. That will effectively kill gun shows there. Those states will push back against any federal regulations forcing gun shows to meet state requirements.

    For this to work, you have to couple these rules with severe penalties on those found to NOT be following the rules. People who want to stay out of trouble will jump through the hoops. People not interested in following the rules won’t – no matter what the rules are.

    When I was a policeman, I once asked how running around in uniform prevents crime. The simple answer was that it keeps honest people honest. Most people are honest and will follow the rules most of the time. The presence of a Policeman keeps those people honest. People who are interested in breaking the rules will break them regardless. A police officer does not prevent them from committing a crime. At that point, the Police officer’s job is to investigate the crime and punish the person who committed it. Same goes with rules like this. If you make the penalty severe for ignoring the law, most people will choose to follow it. The ones that don’t wouldn’t have followed any rules anyway.

    This is a start. None of these things will be easy to accomplish in today’s political world but ALL of them are more likely to actually effect gun crime in America than another Brady Act.

  • Wow, that was long, Moorcat, but it all makes total sense. What annoys me is that the NRA etc. refuse to move an inch. It makes total sense to test fire every gun before it is sold and keep a centralized record of those results. But the NRA has worked to block funding for every initiative that would make it easier to track guns and gun sales. I think the problem is that gun enthusiasts seem to continue to support the NRA, even though many of them are rational humans who probably don’t agree with the nuts things the NRA is doing. Either rational gun owners need to re-take control of the NRA, or make a new organization dedicated to responsible actions to reduce crime while protecting gun rights.

    • The man makes a buttload of sense when he’s not being defensive about the topic. In case that’s unclear, he and I have discussed it many times, and most of his suggestions are very rational, though he remains much more pessimistic concerning implementation than I.

      Though financial support for the NRA is still holding and on a slight upswing, please consider that they have branched out into a fully functioning PAC for the Republican party. They have little to do with gun rights any more. This makes them money, but does not engender favor among many rational gun owners. Their spending on lobbying is pretty loathsome. For the record, neither Moorcat or I are members or contributors to the NRA.

      It is my opinion that the real damage they cause is already a done deal. It isn’t just the lobbying for political will. It is that they have framed the debate so radically that even rational folk find it to be ‘all or nothing’. Though it was probably one of the most difficult comments I have ever written at a blog, my response to Moorcat up above was based on the irritation of that very success by the NRA. One of the things missing from my brother’s exposition is that some of the strongest support for the Brady Bill came from Law enforcement. They really don’t like facing off against AKs with 30 round banana clips. Yet still, guns bans are considered ‘taboo’ to discuss, and Diane Feinstein is the whore of second amendment Babylon. ‘All or Nothing’.

      And that’s really the problem with discussing rational gun laws, even with people who are rational about gun laws. Certain topics of discussion become taboo. There is no reason for that, save that behind every such discussion is the lurking fear that someone gonna take yer guns. That really isn’t rational at all, which is the entire intent of the NRA. It is that dangerous mix of political will with social need that the NRA gets people to buy into, and that’s how they succeed in achieving power.

      One method, weak though it often is, to defeat the will of the NRA is to refer to ‘rational gun laws’ as opposed to ‘gun control’. To me, gun control means hitting what you’re aiming at, nothing more and nothing less. To modern Democrats, that usually means stopping massacres like Aurora, though they often have little idea how that is actually supposed to happen. To the NRA indoctrinated, Gun Control means Diane Feinstein and Barry Soetoro are going to show up at your door and take yer guns. It’s the latter message that seems to have the most sway. That is why the NRA is at all affective. Rational gun enthusiasts can’t break the wall of fear. Education will kill the NRA. I really can’t imagine that anything else will.

  • Moorcat,

    Again I’m with Rob, you seem to be really good at talking AT people but no good talking TO them. You have LOTS to add to this conversation, calling others stupid or equating us (or our arguments) to someone like Fienstein whom you clearly hate but which WE [I] have claimed no allegiance to is a strange way to get it done. Personally I STILL have NO idea what these “Fienstein idiocy” is, and every time you associate me or my responses to it it assures me you’re NOT reading my arguments in good faith. When I read YOUR posts I can read them as Yosemite Sam shooting his guns in the air in a rage, or I can try to find the compassionate, nuanced, and engaged police officer you tell us you are. I’m shooting for the latter when I read what you wrote, can you return the favor?

    I’m sorry if you, as a gun enthusiast, have had to justify guns a lot since Aurora. THAT’S GOOD. YOU SHOULD. As my post begins, guns are tremendously powerful privileges, we ought to expect at every turn to have to dedicate ourselves to a good-faith examination of their use and ownership if we want to keep them and stay safe. It’s exhausting, sure, but it’s the bill to pay for our freedom to own I feel. Too many either WON’T have the conversation, or hate it. Those are, in my opinion, irresponsible attitudes to take as someone who would vote AGAINST gun regulation. You either vote for it and help those of us who don’t want them to be so prevalent in our society, or vote against it and prepare to respectfully and calmly (even in the face of “idiocy”) deliberate your stance. MOST important, on ALL sides, we need to prepare for OUR OWN oversights and biases. Debating as though the issue is resolved one way or the other and then voting AGAINST gun regulation … that’s absolutely the worst in my mind because it participates in Democracy on only a superficial level and then subjects ALL of us to guns.

    My post went looking for people like you who are willing to budge a few inches on regulations, you told us what you think is fair. I agree with some of what you wrote, some of it I think is too apologetic to the gun lobby, and some of it I think is flat out denialism (just because regulations don’t stop mail order ammo, say, we can (and still) should make it illegal to buy that way) so I’d say on that level this has been a complete success. The point is there is no RIGHT or WRONG on this, only what we can tolerate from others in the conversation and what we learn in the process – hence the post.

    I would love it if you could find ways to express your expertise / opinions on this issue that weren’t so dismissive of others (saying “THEY [we/I] were dismissive first” is JUST as petty), and which were open to conversation as opposed to blanket dictations about the world, but I really REALLY do appreciate your feedback and effort on this thread. So thanks!

    And Lizard, thanks!

    • A suggestion, A.P., albeit an offbeat one. Poking Moorcat with shouting capital letters and agreement with me doesn’t really serve you, me or him. Nor does it serve the discussion. It took a while but he laid out some good suggestions. Not trying to be rude, but where are yours? If you agree with the Brady Bill then hadn’t you best suggest why? You dismiss Moorcat’s objections because he was mean, but I do notice that you didn’t respond to mine either. You haven’t added anything more than he has, substantially less I would posit. Neither has Lizard. And “thanks for responding, you meanie” is a pretty frickin’ cheap response.

      Let’s see if I can help you along. One thing about which I disagree with Moorcat is this. He claims that “bans” are by default wrong or unworkable. That’s simply not true. The US has banned the private ownership of artillery for years, save with special license. You just can’t buy and go driving an M1-Abrams down the street. So, if it is constitutional that some arms are not for public consumption, then the dividing line is somewhat elastic, yes? The US restricts and controls the materials that can be used to make fertilizer bombs, yes? So exactly why can’t we restrict the hardware that makes a weapon into a more lethal weapon?

      One of the more ridiculous arguments used in such discussion is that cars kill vastly more people than firearms. That is speciously true. One needs a personal license to drive a car. The tool itself needs to be registered and licensed. A firearm is designed and manufactured for one purpose and one only: to put a hole in something, something often living. Yet there is no license required to fire a weapon or to protect one who may be on the receiving end. Why not? Nothing in the Constitution has been ruled against that, Not even Heller v. D.C.

      There are good arguments to support weapons bans, what Moorcat calls the “Feinstein idiocy”. If you think those arguments have validity, then knock off the reactive Ad Hominem, and answer the point at hand.

  • Rob,

    I’m sorry if my response seemed “pretty freaking cheap,” and thanks for “helping me along” but if you read closely you’ll see I’m not trying to advocate WHICH legislation (apologies if caps is read as shouting, it can also emphasize. Without italics that’s where I go) – only to talk people who feel like the conversation is stupid down. I have often been told “just starting the conversation” is cowardice (as you imply) and that we HAVE to have ANSWERS before we speak and frankly (obviously) I disagree. I think a lot of good comes from just getting a few balls rolling.

    Now that you’ve asked though I’m all in on the Brady Bill, I’ve suggested why in my post above. I think semi-auto rifles like the AR-15 ought to be illegal (as it was under Brady) and I think more rigorous background checks could very well have deterred the other shooters I referenced. I also feel like regulating handguns is a good idea, “shoot first” laws (“stand your ground laws”) aren’t, and ammunition should be tracked and maybe even taxed. Again, obviously there are holes in all of those arguments/justifications, and that’s fine, but more than anything I wanted to create space for “enthusiasts” (like myself) to find middle ground.

    And on your constitutional stuff I completely agree.

    Last, you accuse me (rather unfairly I felt) of “reactive Ad Hominem,” some strong words for those of us invested in studying arguments. Which comment(s) of mine in particular are you referencing? I care very deeply about my argumentation practices, and while I can obviously be misread (as snide, or SHOUTING) beyond my control, I CAN control my insults. And I try hard to. So again, help?

    • Suggestion is not argument. Just sayin …

      Reacting harshly to those who react harshly to you is no less Ad Hominem than the argument to which you react. When you study arguments, kindly consider the validity of that simple statement. For the record, you didn’t need to include my response to my brother as support, yet you did, multiple times. That is a fallacy. I ask politely, kindly don’t do that. In truth, you aren’t qualified to know his mind. It is no fallacy when I say that I am. It is not false authority. I grew up with this man. None of that should be a mystery to you. So, your argumentation practices have a touch of flaw in them.

      Online, capitalization is shouting. There really is no way around that convention. I’m sorry. MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T SHOUT! Just a question, but why can’t we use italics?

      I’ve never implied that starting such a conversation is “cowardice”. That is a lie. I have welcomed such a start. If you have have anything to back up such a claim then perhaps you’d best present it. I don’t see that you do.

    • AP-

      I guess where I get into the substance of the issue is when you say you would outlaw semi-automatic rifles. That’s where I see a reaction to a recent event, more than a reaction to the actual crime situation. Yes, the Aurora shooter used a semi-auto rifle to kill a lot of people. The even worse Virginia tech shootings were performed with a pair of semi-automatic pistols, and more importantly, the vast majority of gun crimes in the US are perpetrated with pistols. A rifle of any sort is just not particularly practical for most crimes, being hard to conceal, unwieldy in close quarters, etc. Indeed, shotguns and rifles together barely beat out knives as most commonly used murder weapons.

      That makes it pretty clear to me what we need to do – leave long guns out of the conversation entirely, for now. That will eliminate a lot of the opposition and will make the NRA look rather silly, given their name, and might actually have an effect on the gun crimes to which Americans are most likely to fall victim.

      • So the question I would ask you, PW, is what would you do about it? 83% of the handguns made and marketed today are semi-auto. Moreover, the majority of those semi-auto handguns would not meet the Brady Act in terms of magazine capacity. Law Enforcement has already come forward and said that they do not support an outright ban on handguns and the recent Supreme Court decision has made such a ban difficult at best to enact. In light of these facts, what do you rationally think can be done?

        If you are talking about limiting the manufacturing of high capacity magazine (those carrying more rounds than the handgun was designed to carry), you might get some traction. There are many who would support such a ban. That said, a large portion of the manufactured handguns in America carry more than 10 rounds as designed. Many carry up to 30 rounds as designed. Rob has already pointed out one likely opposition to a move to limit magazine capacity and the discussion will gain little traction without the support of the law enforcement community.

        But again, you run into the issue I presented in reply to A.D. There are quite literally 10’s of thousands of these magazines already in circulation. If you try to make them “illegal” as A.D. suggests, you dwelve into the arena of “taking guns away from law abiding citizens”. You certainly aren’t going to be able to enter someone’s home and take them. The Law Enforcement program where they attempted to “buy back” guns and magazines was a dismal failure. People will not voluntarily just give them up – even if they will be paid for them. You can take the Brady Act route and enact a moritorium on their manufacture and sale but then you deal with the current magazines in circulation. In 2003, prior to the sunset of the Brady Act, you could still legally buy high capacity mags made prior to the enactment of the Brady Act. Any attempt to ban these, and the companies that manufacture them would go into a wholesale production attempt to the very last minute. The profit margin for them would be astronomical. They would be silly not to.

        Again, there is no easy answer. This has been my point all along. You are far better focusing your attention on a few smaller goals aimed at the larger goal down the road.

        One small point. Less than 1% of all the gun crime committed in the US since 2000 was committed with a so called assault weapon. Likewise, less than 1% of all the gun crime in the US committed with guns was done using an aftermarket high capacity magazine (pistol or rifle). The gun itself has been peripheral to most gun crimes – the gun simply was a weapon at hand. I would also argue that the use of a long gun actually doesn’t edge out edged weapons for the majority of the last 15 years, but that is a minor point.

        It is just my opinion, but I think we should be focusing a lot less on the “tool” as Rob put it, and more on the access to the tool by people that have no business having access. Rob is correct when he says that in today’s world, not having a national database for background checks is a matter of will, not logistics. I think we would all be better served changing that will rather than giving the Second Amendment people more (excuse the pun) ammunition to make the argument “You just want to take our guns away”.

        • After-market extended capacity magazines won’t go away overnight, but limiting their sale seems reasonable. More effectively, however, they ought to be disallowed from concealed or open carry. No one needs to have access to that many rounds without reloading when they are walking down the street. But at the same time,that seems relatively minor. The biggest impact will probably be like you said, test firing every gun sold and recording the results, then centralizing that database, and increasing our ability to track stolen firearms. Finally, maintain a public, electronic database of people who aren’t allowed to own guns. I can find a sex or violent offender on a smart phone (if I had one) in a couple of seconds – a vendor at a gun show ought to be able (and required) to do the same when selling someone a gun.

          • While I agree with the rest of your message, the question remains unanswered.. How would you limit the sale of extended capacity magazines? This may sound like I am nitpicking but really, I am not. It is one thing to say “let’s limit them” but quite another to put it into practice for the very reasons I have posted.

              • This is something the Law Enforcement community has advocated even before the Brady Act and something that I personally have advocated since. There is no practical or legal reason those guns cannot be destroyed and, by attrition, remove them from the market. Making a ban on the things will only jack the price of them up for decades to come and there is still the problem of them “migrating” between those that own/want them. This brings me to the suggestion about closing the gun show loophole.

                • Simply put, economic removal may have a better impact than a direct ban on sale. A 30 round magazine costing $400 or hundred round drum costing $1000 would definitely give pause to someone like Sideshow Bob (James Eagan Holmes)

      • One small correction. I just visited a gun manufacturing statistics site and found I was incorrect on one point. There is a trend in the manufacturing world toward small, concealable handguns running right now and the manufacturing of pistols with magazine capacities of more than 10 rounds is actually declining. They still exceed those of pistols with less than 10 rounds, but we could easily see that change in the next four years if the current trend continues. This doesn’t change my original point, but I hate giving misinformation.

      • Point of note: Double action revolvers are not semi-automatic weapons. Yet in the hands of an experienced user, their rate-of-fire is not significantly different, though limited capacity is.

        • Though it is somewhat off topic:
          I used to compete in Cowboy Action Shooting(as nerdy as it sounds). It was a blast. Though I was never anything special, some people who participated were insanely talented. There were shooters who could fire/reload/fire…6 shots through a double barrel shotgun without shell ejectors, faster than your average person could with an 1897 pump gun holding 1 in the chamber and 5 in the magazine.

          I marvel at the abilities of people like the guy in this video. Keep in mind, every gun he uses in this example is pre-1899. Well outside of the realm of gun “types” that would be under any proposed “bans”.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1BwUJ4–Qw

          Obviously this guy is a statistical outlier as far as firearms skill goes. The point is that when it comes to the damage and effectiveness of an individual with a gun, the gun “type” is less an issue than shooter ability. Controlling the former is an unrealistic way to achieve desired goals, while the controlling the latter is outside of the realm of policy that could be enacted.

          Though I am not opposed to more stringent gun regulations, the sheer volume of all kinds of guns that exist in the hands of the public in the U.S. seems to be the main reason for our relatively astronomical rate of gun violence, and reducing the volume of guns in circulation, through which the only means would seem to be confiscation and destruction, is so unrealistic as to be a waste of time to talk about. The things we can control though, such as normalizing a criminal background database, keeping guns away from “nuts”, and patterning the demographics of those who have a propensity for gun violence, may help, if only a little. It is such a large problem.

  • Fine.. I’ll bite.

    The Abrams argument is flawed on a very basic level – that being that no one in the civilian world actually owns an operational Abrams. Fact is, there are 10’s of thousands of semi auto rifles – if not 100’s of thousands (I am too lazy to look up the actual annual sales figures right now). To make “AR’s illegal” as A.P. suggests (besides being the very argument used by Fienstein), would entail making those owning them criminals or grandfathering them as the original Brady Act did. There is no statistical data whatsoever to show that such a ban has any effect on gun crime. I challenge any of you reading this to produce it. Law Enforcement has publicaly admitted (as did the ATF) that the Brady Act was ineffective.

    “Making them illegal” is silly on both a logistic level and a legal one. At best, you could try to halt production of AR style rifles (once again basing a law on perception and astetics rather than functionality) but even then you would be fighting not only the gun lobby, but also the manufacturing complex. Almost every major gun manufacturer in the US makes an AR style rifle – Remington, Beretta, Colt, Armalite, Smith and Wesson.. the list goes on. Other major manufacturers have AR style rifles in the pipeline. There is a huge amount of money behind this and moreover, there is a market that desperately wants them.

    Now let me floor you. I think the AR is a piece of crap. Yep, you read that right… A PIECE OF CRAP. There is only one company that produces an AR I am even interested in and it is highly modified. There are far better semi auto rifles on the market that I am far more interested in. I won’t bore you with the details of why the AR is a piece of crap, but suffice it to say that it is poorly designed. What the AR is, though, is a marketer’s wet dream. It is a rifle that has more available accessories than a Barbie doll. The fact that it is relatively cheap to produce and resembles the military rifle is just gravy. Other manufacturers are taking this idea and applying to decent semis like the M-14, the Ruger mini 14 and ranch gun, the AK (another piece of crap but it has some advantages), the SKS, and most especially, the Ruger 10/22 – arguably the most popular .22 rifle on the market.

    My point is that semi auto rifles are not going away anytime soon and, in fact, I would fight any such move. Semi auto rifles have a lot of advantages over other action styles beyond being able to shoot faster. There is little chance of enacting any legislation making them go away either. As I have already pointed out, even California and Mass have made concessions to that market. There are now AR’s, AK-47 and Ruger mini-14’s being specifically made to fit inside their rigid legal definitions and some of those provisions have been abandoned to public pressure.

    As far as the rest of it… shrug. I made the suggestions I think can be done at the current time or in the near future. I think Rob is wrong about the current upswing in what he calls the second amendment movement. It is already gridding for a fight and you can see this even in ammo prices already rising. The NRA has reported a record fundraising year already.

    We can have the conversation, but the real question is.. will it make any difference?

    • Don’t you DARE! call the AK a “crap gun”! Kalashnikov would laugh at you! 😉

      I think you misconstrue what the ‘Abrams argument’ is really all about. It isn’t about the fact that there aren’t any in the wild. It’s about the reason for that. Claiming that it doesn’t apply to the current situation regarding semi-autos disregards (avoids?) the specious argument it was meant to address. There is wide spread thinking that the government has no right to limit *what* arms a person can have, when in fact, the vast majority agree that the government can and has done that very thing, with overwhelming support from the populace. You are absolutely correct that making military style weapons “illegal” is logistically unfeasible. But I’d hesitate before claiming that it is “legally” unfeasible. That was my point.

      • You and I have had the Kalashnikov discussion before so I know that comment was tongue in cheek. I know you like your AK and there is nothing wrong with that. If it works for you, great.

        I am not misconstruing the Abrams argument, I simply took it in a different direction. I agree that the Government has the right (and in my opinion, the responcibility) to limit what the average citizen can own – within the constraints of the current state of the Second Amendment. That said, where you get into legal trouble is when you attempt to remove property that a person already owns (and obtained legally) by trying to make that property illegal. This the wall the Brady Act ran into and any similar bans will run into the same wall.

        The various states that are having their bans (not gun regulations but out right bans) are facing this problem. If the ban is lifted and people are able to purchase previously banned items, it leaves them in a legal quandry if the public sentiment changes and they attempt another ban.

        That was my point.

  • In reply to A.P’s snarky comment directed at me…

    Rob sufficiently blasted me in his reply and your reply amounted to little more than “Take that sucker”. I will refrain from asshattery in replying to it. There is one point you might consider, though.

    You said (and I quote) “I agree with some of what you wrote, some of it I think is too apologetic to the gun lobby, and some of it I think is flat out denialism (just because regulations don’t stop mail order ammo, say, we can (and still) should make it illegal to buy that way)”

    This lies at the very heart of why people like you poison any effort to reach rational measures that might actually address the perceived problem.

    When someone on the (assumed) opposing side says “Plan A I could get behind. It makes sense, it might even be doable and you might even get the financially interested parties behind it” and you reply with “Plan A isn’t good enough. It needs to be Plan A plus Plan B” – the interested parties will simply walk away from the table. This goes double if you can’t provide any justification or reasoning behind the addition of “Plan B”. This is why this discussion is destined to fail.

  • Rob I don’t know what to say, Ad Hom is a pretty particular charge – one that I will own and acknowledge as often as possible (as often as it’s demonstrated as opposed to insinuated in my argument) because I think reflexive accountability leads to better argument. I’d encourage you to do the same. Also, until I learn how to use italics in the comments section of wordpress (did I mention I’m new here?) I’m going to use caps to emphasize. If you can’t hear anything but shouting when someone uses capslock (especially when they TELL you that that’s NOT what they’re doing) then that’s a failure in your creativity and good-faith efforts to hear the other, not in my method.

    Moorcat, again, I feel like you’re arguing with someone who isn’t here, using their words to fill in my prose. I’m arguing in good faith, if you can’t give me the benefit of that doubt then WE’RE not arguing, YOU are arguing with your imagined land of Feinsteins. If you’re going to say things like:

    “This lies at the very heart of why people like you poison any effort to reach rational measures that might actually address the perceived problem.”

    even though we’ve never met then I know there’s nothing my dark, ruthless, lying heart can say to contribute. That’s not only an unfair way to argue, I think it’s dangerous. By selectively hearing only idiocy you couch yourself in a land of idiots, THAT, in my opinion, is our biggest hurdle to reaching solutions. It obviously discounts people like me (I’ve given this topic a tremendous amount of my time and energy over the last two decades, I’m not a sound-bite person no matter how I may “seem” to you) and it lets you to see only what you expect.

    LOTS of people, not just Feinstein argue that guns like the AR-15 should be illegal. By defaulting everything I say to (her? his?) “idiocy” or “lies” you do this conversation a foundational disservice. I’m sure I’m guilty of it too (and as always I invite that scrutiny) but it really is rampant in your posts as that quotation demonstrates.

    I feel like I added plenty of justification in my post and opened myself up to explore it. But, honestly, this is rapidly getting hostile. For whatever part I had in that transition I do sincerely apologize, and unless someone has something new to add I’m going to let this one go.

    This was a better gun debate than prior ones for me (because we actually had one) but we ALL, obviously, have a long way to go if the conversation is going to get productive. I hope we keep at it!!

    • In case you’ve failed to notice, some of us have been working to *decrease* the hostility here, at no small personal risk or expense. Moorcat is my brother. I see him on holidays, road trips and vacations. Telling him to chill out was not quite as easy for me as it seems to be for you. That written …

      As regards the fallacy Ad Hominem, please remember and keep in mind that fallacies are not proof of truth (falsehood) value. They leave the truth value of a statement indeterminate. That does not forward discussion.

      When it comes to online convention , you could do far worse than to listen to me. I am very well versed and experienced. That isn’t bragging or false claim of authority. It’s just the way it is. I have only attempted to educate, not to denigrate. In the absence of an I or B tag, there are other ways to *indicate emphasis*, that will not be widely perceived as SHOUTING! That was my only point. I hope that helps. (And why can’t we use the italics or bold tags here???)

      On to the ‘debate’. You have posited that the Brady Bill was supportable in its ban on sale of automatic weapons deemed harmful. Several commenters have pointed out why the Brady Bill failed (fails). Your reaction so far is to the harsh nature of the comments, and not the substance of the bill itself. That would be the exact reaction to the topic that Rep. Diane Feinstein promotes and Moorcat finds offensive. I ask you, politely, can we please focus on that? I have supported your position in so far as that it appears a government duty and function to protect people from “arms” that are deemed unsafe for casual use or ownership. The rest is up to you.

      Here are the specific complaints against your stated position:

      There is too much hardware currently in the wild to control the transfer and possession of such hardware.

      A blanket ban on semi-automatic weapons is unspecific and counter-productive.

      The AR15 is little to no different than any other auto-load weapon, and not terribly different from some cylinder loaded weapons. Again, there is a lack of specificity.

      There is no address from your part concerning the lethality of any given firearm, in the face of what I pointed out lends itself to what makes a firearm “lethal”.

      At no point have you addressed the implementation of any law you see as favorable. A ban on sale, in the absence of addressing loopholes, serve no purpose.

      You have yet to actually define what problem you are trying to solve, or reviewed the process for solving it, save that JE Holmes should not have been able to buy the guns he used. That’s fine. The Brady Bill would have made his psychotic quest harder, but not even nearly impossible. The specific does not translate to the general very well, unless you can show how.

      Those are not light complaints. You are not just arguing with Moorcat because he’s a meanie. You are discussing with a helluva lot of rational gun owners who really want to see what you propose. I happen to be one of them.

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