More Guns Don’t Mean Less Gun Violence

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I perused the comment section of a recent Missoulian post on mass shootings in America. Many of the comments made my head spin. Here’s a smattering:

criminals are cowards more people with guns = less crime no more gun free zones

Arm as many law abiding citizens as possible.

Obama will eventually claim that Climate Change affected the brains of these poor individuals and sympathize with these lunatics. That’s our president.

If I were president I would arm each American family with AR-15’s ”Community Malitia” that can be called upon to protect against terrorism.

I guess everyone at the Christmas party in San Bernardino should have been packing AR-15s. That’s the holiday spirit!   

I refuse to carry a handgun everywhere I go in fear that some madman with a gun will unload on me. That scenario reminds me of some sort of dystopian movie along the lines of Mad Max, Escape from New York or A Clockwork Orange.

Fortunately, for my own sanity, I found one thoughtful link amid the rants.  It’s written in six points and backed by research, and it refutes the claim that more guns mean less gun violence. I’ll skip to #6:

Background checks work

In most restrictive background checks performed in developed countries, citizens are required to train for gun handling, obtain a license for hunting or provide proof of membership to a shooting range.

Individuals must prove that they do not belong to any “prohibited group,” such as the mentally ill, criminals, children or those at high risk of committing violent crime, such as individuals with a police record of threatening the life of another.

Here’s the bottom line. With these provisions, most US active shooters would have been denied the purchase of a firearm.

That seems to be a relatively simple fix that could curb a lot of the gun violence.  Please take a look at the other five points, too.

I’d like to add that I’m a strong supporter of the expanded background checks proposed by the Missoula City Council. After a few more tragedies, this idea might spread to the county, the state and even the nation (in places where strict gun laws aren’t already in place).

Let’s make Missoula the starting point.

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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

59 Comments

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  • ” I guess everyone at the Christmas party in San Bernardino should have been packing AR-15s. That’s the holiday spirit! ”

    Pete, I just wish that SOMEBODY there would have been armed, and had a chance to fight back. I realize that pulling out a concealed, .38 spl snubbie is no match for a pair of cocommitted muslim extremists with rifles, body armor, and pipe bombs, but it would be better than cowerng under a table waiting to be shot.

  • I agree with your linked study that there’s too many gun deaths in America. We seldom look the root causes of these deaths we merely accept them to promote political agendas. If you were to take out the top 10 urban Democratically controlled war zones you’d find we’re an incredibly peaceful nation. Add to those reductions the 10,000+ gun suicides which in my estimation would happen by other means.

    Frankly we’re at a tipping point. People aren’t flocking to gun stores to buy deer rifles, they’re buying guns and ammo because the Government cannot protect them all they can do is show up after the fact. I’m sure there’s an increasing percentage that’s stockpiling arms to use against those who would take gun freedoms away.

    Is that what you want? Is this the hill you want to die on? How about addressing the root cause? When Mayor Rudy Giuliani initiated “Stop and Frisk” gun crime dropped like a rock. The new adm. canceled this program and blood ran in the streets. S and F was deemed an intrusion on the freedoms of the poor inhabitants of black neighborhoods so the law abiding residents of Mayberry takes it up the chute again.

    So when Aunt Bee wants to give Opie her fathers shotgun we have to get Uncle Sam’s blessing.

      • Have you done any reading about Stop and Frisk programs? Matt Taibi is a great place to start.

        And how in the world can we permit warrantless, suspicionless searches of people if the goal is protecting rights?

        • “reasonable suspicion” is the key. Has been adjudicated. What about the 400 murdered in Chicago Don?

          What about their rights?

        • After you went through a very wrenching post about not allowing comments because certain commenters were mean to you, here you are engaging in the give and take of commenting. WTF??????????? If you would again allow comments on your posts I give you my promise that I will never again comment at ID.

          Pete, as to the question you asked, Swede gets to the nub. There are over 300 million guns in the hands of American citizens now. With the horse way out of the barn, why distract with symbolic measures, other than for the very obvious political nonsense? I suggest if this is that important to you and Montana Dems that you all create a party plank that mirrors Cali gun laws and have every candidate endorse it.

          • I can’t imagine something that matters less to me than whether or not you comment here, Craig. You’re welcome to. You’re welcome not to. I find your passive aggressive strategy of commenting incredibly frustrating, but you rarely resort to personal attacks. You certainly do, but not as often as some.

            As for my commenting, Swede raised a point and I responded. Even though we don’t agree, we each argued our point without the kind of bullshit that makes me not want to be involved in commenting.

            I’m terribly sorry that my decision to contribute on this thread was so troubling to you. Perhaps you can use it as a catalyst for thinking about whether or not the behavior that led me to close commenting on my posts was about people “being mean” or not. One can hope.

            • Reading your latest post on the Lt Guv kerfuffle, no wonder you closed comments. Did you bother reading James Conner’s posts on the matter before composing your post title?

  • Swede, you say, “they’re buying guns and ammo because the Government cannot protect them – all they can do is show up after the fact.” I’m not trying to be a smart ass here but how would you suggest the government protect us without trampling on all the other rights (besides the Second Amendment rights, which seem to be pretty well protected)?

    And Craig and Swede, I hope you realize that I’m not advocating taking guns away from law abiding citizens but does point #6 in my post above seem too far fetched? Especially the expanded background checks?

    • Elimination of “Gun Free Zones” would be my first choice.

      “On December 3, The Washington Post reported that gun crime has been on the decline for about 20 years, except for high-profile shootings in gun-free zones; WaPo claims those shootings are on the increase.

      According to WaPo, “In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans. … By 2013, that figure had fallen by nearly half, to 3.6 [per 100,000].”-HAwkins.

    • As for background checks I liken them to being spied on by the NSA. Tracking my purchases along with my personal data, address..etc..

      I really don’t want to be a link whore but you can see where the federal reporting form really has done nothing to curb violence. Here’s something different, how ’bout a little accountability?

      Seen the TSA headlines lately? 90+% failure rate and yet some ahole is fondling your privates.

      • As long as it’s a cute “ahole,” I don’t mind them fondling my privates. Seriously, Swede, of course Chicago gun violence continues. That’s because anyone can drive 20 minutes to Indiana and pick up a weapon – no problem. And that’s why we need national expanded background checks.

  • Craig says 300 million guns in America, Swede says 350. That’s around one gun per person. Think that’s enough?

    What I suggest, like expanded background checks, isn’t a panacea and the violence won’t end overnight. Add gun buy backs, better access to mental health services, less media violence, etc., etc. … well, it’s a start.

    • Guns are selling at the fastest rate ever. Swede’s number is on the low side by now. Bringing Cali gun laws to Montana seems to miss the bigger picture if you are seriously suggesting such action would have a meaningful prophylactic effect. Time to arrest the motivations rather than dwelling on the instrumentality of violence.

      • “Time to arrest the motivations rather than dwelling on the instrumentality of violence,” says Craig. Are these mutually exclusive? Can we not tackle both?

        • The NYT is now calling for confiscation of “scary” weapons. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/opinion/end-the-gun-epidemic-in-america.html?_r=0 At least they have the courage to call for action that addresses the ocean of weapons in civilian hands. It also ends discussions about the very intentions of what is “reasonable” regulation in the minds of most firearm owners. Again, Montana Dems should embrace Cali gun laws, and use the NYT editorial embracing confiscation as their campaign pledge. Don’t just pussyfoot around. BTW, all firearms have evolved from weapons of combat. Don’t know if the editorialists understand that fact.

          • I’ll repeat my comment without the NYT link. People can find it for themselves.

            Craig Moore · December 5, 2015 at 10:50 am

            The NYT is now calling for confiscation of “scary” weapons. At least they have the courage to call for action that addresses the ocean of weapons in civilian hands. It also ends discussions about the very intentions of what is “reasonable” regulation in the minds of most firearm owners. Again, Montana Dems should embrace Cali gun laws, and use the NYT editorial embracing confiscation as their campaign pledge. Don’t just pussyfoot around. BTW, all firearms have evolved from weapons of combat. Don’t know if the editorialists understand that fact.

    • There’s that “start” word again.

      Can we be honest here? You’re passionate about this subject which leads me to believe that background checks are a steppingstone to an ultimate goal.

  • there is nothing wrong with California Gun Laws. I lived there for years and had no trouble purchasing firearms at any dealer. A waiting period of two weeks works just fine. hell I have waited just as long here.

  • California gun laws sure saved those 14 dead people, didn’t they? Since the high-capacity magazines they used are already illegal there, maybe they should be ‘double-secret-illegal’ ?

    I see the headlines today, where the FBI has discovered that the couple were dangerous, committed Muslims – I will put it out there that banning the religion of Islam in the USA would be a far more effective plan than gun control. Then the Jihadists can flee America back to the middle East to avoid religious persecution. Pete’s expanded checks would come in useful then, to determine who prays to Allah or not.

    • Eric, I assume you understand that your “religion banning” is offensive and wrong-headed, constitutionally protected, on many levels. Not sure your point.

      As to what’s effective and the NYT ran this editorial over a year ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/sunday-review/the-assault-weapon-myth.html

      Lois Beckett writes:

      ====
      “We spent a whole bunch of time and a whole bunch of political capital yelling and screaming about assault weapons,” Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu of New Orleans said. He called it a “zero sum political fight about a symbolic weapon.”

      Mr. Landrieu and Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia are founders of Cities United, a network of mayors trying to prevent the deaths of young black men. “This is not just a gun issue, this is an unemployment issue, it’s a poverty issue, it’s a family issue, it’s a culture of violence issue,” Mr. Landrieu said.

      More than 20 years of research funded by the Justice Department has found that programs to target high-risk people or places, rather than targeting certain kinds of guns, can reduce gun violence.

      David M. Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, argues that the issue of gun violence can seem enormous and intractable without first addressing poverty or drugs. A closer look at the social networks of neighborhoods most afflicted, he says, often shows that only a small number of men drive most of the violence. Identify them and change their behavior, and it’s possible to have an immediate impact.

      Working with Professor Kennedy, and building on successes in other cities, New Orleans is now identifying the young men most at risk and intervening to help them get jobs. How well this strategy will work in the long term remains to be seen.

      But it’s an approach based on an honest assessment of the real numbers.
      ======

      Now, over 60% of gun deaths are suicide according the the CDC. Perhaps that is also a place to change the cause.

    • There’s 15 million people living in California, and their per capita gun death rate is far lower than ours with 1.5 million in Montana. The laws in California work, and your not gonna stop terrorists from doing shit with any gun laws….Anywhere. Though keeping no fly list people from acquiring guns was a good start… and the Gop said no to that. Hard to believe any republican gives a crap after that little fiasco. They just want to argue BS with NRA Talking points!

      • Regarding abridging peoples’ constitutional rights with the “no fly list” see what the ACLU has to say. http://www.aclu.org/cases/latif-et-al-v-holder-et-al-aclu-challenge-government-no-fly-list?redirect=national-security/latif-et-al-v-holder-et-al-aclu-challenge-government-no-fly-list

        ====
        “In June 2010, the ACLU and its affiliates in Oregon, Southern California, Northern California, and New Mexico filed a legal challenge on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and permanent residents who could not fly to or from the U.S. or over American airspace because they are on the government’s secretive No Fly List (an additional three people later joined the suit). The plaintiffs, who include four U.S. military veterans, were never told why they were on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it. Being unable to fly has severely affected their lives, including their ability to be with their families, go to school, and travel for work. In August 2013, the court agreed with the ACLU that constitutional rights are at stake when the government puts Americans on the No Fly List, and in June 2014, the court ruled the government’s system for challenging inclusion on the No Fly List is unconstitutional. As a result of our lawsuit, the government announced in April 2015 that it would tell U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents whether they are on the list and possibly offer some reasons. However, the government’s new redress process still falls far short of constitutional requirements because it denies our clients meaningful notice, evidence, and a hearing…

        However, the government still keeps its full reasons secret. It also withholds evidence and exculpatory information from our clients and refuses to give them a live hearing to establish their credibility or cross-examine witnesses. Because of these and other serious problems, the ACLU has challenged the revised process as unconstitutional.

        Until the government fixes its unconstitutional new process, people on the No Fly List are barred from commercial air travel with no meaningful chance to clear their names, resulting in a vast and growing group of individuals whom the government deems too dangerous to fly but too harmless to arrest.”
        ======

        Using the no fly list in its present form as a screening mechanism is a very bad precedent for stomping on constitutional rights. But what the hell, Montana Dems should campaign on doing just that since govt knows best.

        • One only has to look at the IRS targeting of conservative groups to understand the concern many have of the temptation of allowing a government agency to use the excuse of a no fly list as a way to ban entire groups of law abiding people from exercising their constitutional right to own firearms whether it be for self defense or hunting.
          (http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/07/23/19-facts-on-irs-targeting-president-obama-cant-blame-on-republicans/)

          Even the liberal leaning Vox website notes the very real possibility of political pressures turning the “no fly list” into a convenient way of creating a nationwide “no gun list” for law abiding citizens for purely political reasons.

          “But the real question of whether the no-fly list would work as a no-gun list is much bigger: It’s about how the new function would change the no-fly list itself. …………….But the history of the no-fly list shows that it’s shaped at least as much by political pressures — whether that pressure results from too many people being on the no-fly list or too few — as it is by intelligence needs. So it’s worth wondering how those political pressures might work if the no-fly list suddenly becomes the government’s most powerful tool for preventing someone from owning a gun.”
          http://www.vox.com/2015/12/7/9865756/no-fly-list

          • I can see your concern, Pogo, but I’m not worried about your ability to purchase a firearm in the future (although I imagine you’re already okay in the gun department). Law-abiding citizens such as yourself will raise hell and challenge any inaccurate “no fly list,” and rightfully so. You have my support. I think it’s a modest proposal, though. You seem to be buying into the ‘Obama’s going to take away my guns’ rhetoric. Do you have any other proposals to reduce gun violence?

            • Pogo’s concerns are justified. Recently in NY the State Police (lawfully/unlawfully?) obtained gun purchase records from a retailer and is in the process of rounding up firearms sold.

              “The New York State Police have launched an investigation into alleged SAFE Act violations and appear to have possession or copies of 4473s showing who purchased firearms. Consider speaking with a lawyer if contacted.”

              And so it begins, or better yet, “starts”.

  • Yes Craig I realize how wrong my suggestion is, but I think it’s a discussion we need to have, which is how much of our constitution we would have to sacrifice to root out our enemies.

    Look up the case; Korematsu v. United States, where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the executive order putting people of Japanese ancestry behind bars on a racial basis. The USA was having this same discussion back in 1942 about security vs. liberty, and now we find ourselves not under attack by a Nationality (Japan) but a religion, that demands we die.

    • Wow you really are something Eric, Lets look up all the 2.5 million Muslims in the United states, even if they are American. If we took this Idea to heart which I am absolutely against, its Horrible…. could we start by locking up all the christians first?

      The 2 to 1 majority of terrorist acts in this country are caused by christains…. or maybe you didn’t want people to know that???? Yeah lets follow Eric’s lead here and lock up the Christians first.

      How un-American are you?

  • Most Americans can buy a gun. Many can get a concealed weapons permit.

    So…what’s the problem?

    If you don’t like the idea of the government or the police protecting you, protect yourself.

    Carry a gun at all times and if you find yourself in a public shooting situation, end that situation.

    When that type of situation takes place, no one is talking about gun control. They’re looking for the nearest person with a gun that can control the situation.

    If talking heads and media types and those with more opinions than answers bother you with their endless blathering, just turn it off and don’t listen to them.

    • I didn’t realize you were part of the “more guns, less gun violence” crowd, Greg. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, don’t you think? In Japan, which has strict gun control laws, your chance of dying from a gunshot is about the same as getting struck by lightning (about one in ten million). In the U.S., for men 15 to 29, being shot is the third leading cause of death, after accidents and suicides. This NYT article sums it up nicely:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/upshot/in-other-countries-youre-as-likely-to-be-killed-by-a-falling-object-as-a-gun.html?_r=0

      • The last couple years I lived in China there were several knife attacks on kindergartens.

        These were happening quite regularly for awhile in 2011 or 2012. Many times the guys would bring butcher knifes to lay in with.

        I don’t remember there being many calls to get rid of knives after those attacks. The media played it up that most of the men had mental problems. I don’t remember reading that it was the knives themselves that were the cause of the attacks.

        I suppose we could have blamed all the knives in China, as well as those law-abiding knife owners. I just don’t think it would have went over well.

        It doesn’t really matter to me, this gun debate in America right now. I fully expect Obama will make his announcement to a couple million people before tens of million watch football. There are no votes in Congress to change gun laws.

        No, I’m not concerned about this issue at all, like I wasn’t concerned about being attacked by a knife in China. It’s so rare and my chances of dying by some other cause are so much higher.

        But we like to be scared. We like feeling that way. Oftentimes we pay to feel scared, such as by going to a horror movie or an amusement park. We like the feeling of those endorphins and adrenaline going through our blood.

        So I’m sure we’ll see more posts like this one, calling for something…though I’m not sure what exactly it’s calling for. The banning of all guns and subsequent confiscation of all guns in America?

        That would be something I’d pay to see.

        So many times we forget that we don’t even need an army. The American public is an army. Your neighbors are your best protectors, if you talk to them that is. Many people today don’t.

        We have no reason to be fearful of any invasion in this country ever. Every world power knows that invading America would be a nightmare, with house-to-house combat from an armed citizenry.

        That’s why taking the guns away from America is so important – the country will be defeatable then.

        I hope we don’t see that come about in my lifetime, though I’m sure attempts will ramp up.

        There simply aren’t the votes to make something like that happen. There isn’t the will among Americans to create the turnout necessary to get those votes.

        And if we went another route to get those guns confiscated, one that went around the legislative process, well…that’s another reason we have guns – to stop that type of governing, stop it cold.

        • Comparing semi-automatic rifles with knives is a bit of a stretch, Greg. We use knives all the time: slicing, dicing, carving. The assault weapons used in San Bernardino have basically one purpose: kill a lot of people in a hurry. See the difference?

          Greg goes on: “So I’m sure we’ll see more posts like this one, calling for something…though I’m not sure what exactly it’s calling for. The banning of all guns and subsequent confiscation of all guns in America?”

          Maybe read the post, buddy. It’s calling for expanded background checks. And read the links before responding. They show what most other civilized countries do to curb gun violence.

          Here’s another Greg quote: “So many times we forget that we don’t even need an army. The American public is an army. Your neighbors are your best protectors, if you talk to them that is. Many people today don’t.

          We have no reason to be fearful of any invasion in this country ever. Every world power knows that invading America would be a nightmare, with house-to-house combat from an armed citizenry.”

          Did you just finish watching Red Dawn? A bunch of kids holding off the tanks, helicopter gunships and MIGs with their handheld weapons? Time for a reality check. We need an army. Certainly not at the level of defense spending we have now, since that’s currently focused on international expansion and intervention. Let’s keep it closer to home, even reinstate the draft.

          It would be a bad idea to rely on my neighbors as our military. It sounds like you’re interpreting our 250-year-old Second Amendment to count on a citizen militias for our defense. Excellent strategy.

          And you seem focused on not trusting government as a reason to stockpile weapons. That’s fear-based thinking. Instead, can move forward and reverse this gun violence trend?

      • Reason #1, regarding the ISIS threat to American civilians. http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/03/politics/barack-obama-isis/ Hear it in Obama’s own words how, “ISIL will not pose an existential threat to us. They are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses,” Obama told CBS. “The American people should feel confident that, you know, we are going to be able to defend ourselves and make sure that, you know, we have a good holiday and go about our lives.” Norma, you made the lie claim. Where is the lie here that has caused you to fulminate?

      • AGAIN wit the same unsubstantiated attacks on the right. Please take a look at the world beyond blue vs red. I used to respect your suspicion of Hillary but thats what your party gets in a world of lies rhetoric and deception Dorma Muffy

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