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   There have been a lot of diaries at Kos lately on the subject of guns, gun control, the Second Amendment, but always room for one more, right? I got the urge to write this one after looking at comments a friend sparked over on Facebook when he questioned just why we have the Second Amendment.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
  Why exactly was the "right to bear arms" enshrined in the constitution, and what do militias have to do with it - and why the security of a free State? To hear the NRA talk, it's all about keeping a tyrannical government from enslaving its citizens - an implicit "escape clause" that allows anyone to take up arms the moment they decide their rights are being infringed. (It dovetails nicely with the whole mindset conservatives have that regards government as a threat - except when it serves their interests.)

    A whole structure of over the top assertions, closed logic loops, and paranoid hyperbole has been built on the foundation of an imagined Second Amendment that supposedly forever bars the government from ever touching guns because to do so would destroy our freedom. It is at the center of a deeply emotional view of the world, which makes reasoned debate darn near impossible. And that's a real problem because gut feelings and instincts are NOT the way to organize society or keep a civilization running.

More below the Orange Omnilepticon

The Constitutional Argument: Read It (And Weep)
  While there are quite a few who regard the Second Amendment as being purely a matter of individual rights, the link above mentions the alternative interpretation:
...some scholars point to the prefatory language "a well regulated Militia" to argue that the Framers intended only to restrict Congress from legislating away a state's right to self-defense. Scholars have come to call this theory "the collective rights theory." A collective rights theory of the Second Amendment asserts that citizens do not have an individual right to possess guns and that local, state, and federal legislative bodies therefore possess the authority to regulate firearms without implicating a constitutional right.
   The distinction between individual and collective rights fails to include another dimension to the argument - history and politics. Keep in mind that the founding fathers were largely a bunch of white guys of property. It might be reasonable to question the idea that they'd be in favor letting any yahoo with a musket take on the government or any other authority any time they felt like it. It should also be noted that for some of them, issues of property were very critical - when that property included slaves.

    There are those who treat the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as sacred documents that were written to stand for all time, that they were derived from first principles from a set of ideals by a group of visionaries. To a certain extent, there is something to that view - but there's also the fact that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were not written in a vacuum. They were and are political documents, hammered out to reconcile competing political views. In fact, the Bill of Rights had to be crafted specifically to overcome objections to the Constitution and the powers it gave the Federal government. Our founding fathers were not saints; they had very human motivations for the things they were arguing for, and not all of them are pretty.

    Thom Hartmann has dug into the kind of history we don't like to teach our children in schools and has excavated material that shows the intent behind having a "well regulated militia" had a lot to do with the need of those men of property to have a body of armed men on call to put down slave rebellions.

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote.  Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state.  The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

    Hartmann has quite a bit more, including some telling quotes in which it is made clear that the peculiar institution was near and dear to the hearts of certain of our founding fathers, and the Second Amendment was their way of ensuring the other founding fathers would not use the newly constituted Federal government to take away control of those militias from the states or eliminate them. It was a matter of economic and social survival for them. Read the whole thing - odds are your grade school teachers kind of slipped past that whole dark side of American founding father hagiography as quickly as they could. It's definitely not something that those who preach an absolutist interpretation of the Constitution (which aligns with their interests) want to talk about.
And Here We Are...
  The current obsession with guns transmogrified from the original rationale of keeping the slaves down, fermented in the post Civil War resentments of Northern Tyranny, crossbred with the Frontier John Wayne Six Shooter mentality of the Wild West, Dodge City, etc. and transvected with the paranoia of preppers, survivalists, and white supremacists, with more than a dash of angst over the rise in violent crime in the last few decades and 911. Add in a political party which has made the Old South and its attitudes the core of its base, an industry making massive amounts of money selling the illusion of safety, and a whole raft of grifters who've learned how to get rich and powerful by selling FEAR!!! 24/7, and you end up with a debate about guns that's taking place across a conceptual abyss.
Fear Is The Mind-Killer
  Let's get this out right up front. The biggest stumbling block in debating what to do about guns is fear. For all the people who have perfectly reasonable expectations about firearms because they like to hunt, they like recreational shooting, they like them as collectibles, they want to have some options to be prepared for possible danger, or simply because guns are a useful tool in the life they lead, there is a large portion of gun owners who are determined to accept no restrictions on their right to keep and bear arms because they are afraid.

     They are afraid because they know the police can't protect them. They are afraid because they know it's not a question of if someone will break into their house, but when. They're afraid that society will break down any minute. They're afraid some maniac is going to open fire the next time they venture out of their homes into a public place. They're afraid the government is coming to take their freedom. They're afraid they'll be swamped in a sea of criminals, illegal aliens and terrorists. They're afraid the socialists are coming for their livelihood, the atheists are going to destroy their faith, the gays will come for their children. They are afraid the way of life they knew growing up is disappearing, and they can't do anything about it.

    But they can buy guns. And for too many, that gun is a magic security blanket, an anodyne for the powerlessness they feel every day. It's something real they can put their hands on and control, unlike corrupt politicians, a rigged government that does nothing for them, a society that feels increasingly alien and threatening.

     An entire political movement and a very profitable industry has built up reinforcing and catering to those fears. It is an ironic paradox that one of the easiest ways for an authoritarian government to take power is to convince people that they are under attack. They'll willingly give up their freedom and their rights if shown a scary enough enemy - and they'll do it believing it's the only way to protect their 'freedom'.

    If you listen to people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, FOX NEWS, etc. etc. you will get a constant message that: government can't keep you safe; government can't solve your problems; the world is going to Hell; liberals are coming to take your freedom and your property; society is going to Hell in a hand basket; morality and religion are under attack; there are bad people out there getting away with murder every day and there are people who want you to be defenseless...

    These people are working 24/7 to destroy the mutual trust and faith in society that holds civilization together, and they're doing it for fun, power, and profit. Is it any wonder that there are now conspiracy theorists who believe the recent mass shootings were actually "False Flag" operations by [insert name of your preferred villain here] to create an excuse for taking guns away from people?

      This is the biggest obstacle to rational discussion about firearms in this country: fear. So long as people are ruled by their fears, they are not going to be convinced by logic or promises. So long as there are people stoking those fears for personal gain instead of legitimate reasons, the situation will deteriorate. It's pointless to debate when fear does the talking. The key thing to do is recognize it, refuse to feed it, and call out those who are deliberately promoting it. Meanwhile, let's discuss what steps those of us in the sane world can be thinking about.

"Why Are You Trying To Take My Guns Away?" Part One
     This is one of the favorite talking points out there - the slippery slope argument. As in - any restriction on gun ownership now, no matter how limited or reasonable, is only the first step until ALL GUNS ARE TAKEN AWAY.

Let's try to get real, okay?

    Let's start with the simplest answer - it's just not possible. We don't even know how many guns are out there right now, let alone have enough people to track them down and seize them. It would work about as well as Prohibition did. (It's funny how the people who talk about the sacredness of the 2nd amendment don't even think about the 18th at all. The repeal of the 18th amendment is a legacy of FDR that even most mainstream conservatives support.)

     That being said, it's not unreasonable or even unconstitutional to attempt to strike a balance between the right to own a firearm and the responsibility for the consequences of that ownership. Guns are enshrined in the constitution only because of that militia-slavery connection; implicit in the second amendment is the control and regulation of those guns. The Second Amendment wasn't just about the right to have guns - it was also about making sure certain people didn't have them. Just like prohibition, society changes its collective mind about things. If we've learned anything from the recent spate of mass shootings, this is one of those times for guns.

     The question isn't "Why are you trying to take my guns away?" but rather "How can you exercise your right to own a gun while respecting the rights of everyone else?" We accept limits on our freedoms all the time because A) sometimes the cost of exercising them without limit is greater than the benefit (Yelling fire in a crowded theater for example.) B) that exercise has to be balanced against other competing rights/constraints (i.e.: freedom of speech versus freedom to shut up and not incriminate yourself) and C) it's the price of participating in civilization.

   Libertarians have problems with C. They are not comfortable with the idea that anyone should have the power to tell them how to live their lives. And yet it is not possible to live in an increasingly complex world without recognizing there are trade offs. Jared Diamond has spent many years studying tribal groups in New Guinea as part of his examination of humans around the world and across time. His latest book is all about what we can learn from traditional societies to better understand our own. In an interview with New Scientist (registration required) he makes a point with some application here.

Why can't societies without strong leaders be peaceful?
In a band or tribe of people it's fairly democratic - the number of people is so small that you reach decisions face to face. But if you get 100 people who agree a peace treaty with the neighbouring tribe, there will always be some hot-headed young men who still have a grievance, break the armistice and kill someone, which starts the whole cycle again.

Restraining these hotheads requires a centralised force. Tribal societies, without a strong leader, can't enforce peace. The reason a state society spreads - and why the farmers tolerate "parasites" - is that a state society maintains peace, it settles disputes.

So nation states circumvent direct vengeance?
If you have a car crash, it's not your problem to get satisfaction from the person who broke your leg. It is, instead, the state's legal system that does that. That's why people from traditional societies move into the state society, but you don't see the flow the other way. Traditional societies recognise the benefits of state power.

    The very words "state society" will cause some people to react at freakout levels. But, it's the inevitable consequence when humans start interacting in groups larger than individual actions can adequately manage. There has to be agreement on rules and order, and people who devote time and energy to maintaining them. There are a variety of ways to constitute a 'state', from a top-down tyranny under a despot, to a democratic government, to a theocracy, and so on. We can argue all day whether a state society is inherently good or evil, but we can't ignore the fact that it offers advantages a tribal existence doesn't.

    For everyone who threatens to "Go Galt", darned few do, and they're essentially either retreating to a tribal existence, or they're moving to a state society with a different mix of rules and restrictions. Take a look at the residency requirements that this place is boasting about. The artist's concept of the community looks remarkably like a luxury prison/fortress. Unless they have plans for massive hydroponic gardens underground, they're still going to need the outside world for food at some point, not to mention medical supplies, specialized skills, etc. etc. It's a paranoid fantasy - but someone is going to be making money from it.  (UPDATE: And then there's this!)

    So, as far as taking your guns away because...Freedom! goes, it's not an either/or choice. Freedom isn't free, but not in the usual sense of requiring sacrifice. It comes down to this: all freedoms come with some kind of cost. We're haggling about the price here, and who pays it. The shooting at the Sandy Hook School puts a lot higher price on the right to bear arms than most people think should be paid. Add in the costs of arming teachers, putting armed guards in every school, and the bill is really starting to mount up.

"Why Are You Trying To Take My Guns Away?" Part Two
    The answer comes down to this. If you want to keep your guns, what is the price and who pays it?

      Let's start with a common analogy. If you want to be a car owner, you have to pass a test demonstrating your ability to operate it safely. You have to obey laws limiting what you can do with it, and where, or lose the privilege of driving. You have to accept that you can't drive certain vehicles except under very special circumstances. (Nobody gets to drive an Abrams tank to commute to work, unless they're working in a war zone.) Depending on where you live, you may be limited in how many vehicles you can keep on your property. Even if you are a safe driver, you  still have to have insurance and periodic inspections of your vehicle because accidents happen - and somebody has to pay. If you are a bad driver, you have to pay a lot more - and may even be unable to get insurance at any price. Drive recklessly, drive drunk, you can go to jail.

     No, there's no amendment dealing with cars in the constitution - not specifically. (Although if Henry Ford had been a founding father...) But, the commerce clause and others affect what you can do with a car. We have national requirements for safety, fuel economy, etc. because the cost of not regulating those items would be far higher than the benefits we get. A lot more people would be unable to live their lives without cars than would be affected if they had to live without guns. And then there's the death toll we accept even with regulation of motor vehicles. What's the cost? Who pays? We regulate motor vehicle use to strike a balance that - it is to be hoped - shares out those costs and benefits equitably.

     Let's try another analogy. Many gun owners claim the right to use deadly force in self defense. The "stand your ground" laws are based on the principle of extending that right to situations in which they feel threatened - even though there may be alternatives to using deadly force. (It's rather like the Bush Doctrine applied to individuals.)

     There is a certain class of individuals who reserve to themselves the right to resort to potentially lethal actions on a daily basis. They slice up people with knives, subject them to radiation, toxic chemicals, mind-altering drugs. They can have people locked away with just a signature on a piece of paper. They feel free to tell people what to eat, how to behave, even how to conduct their sex lives - and they demand money for all this.

      They do it all from the highest of motives. We call them doctors, nurses, healthcare workers. But before we turn them loose to exercise the power of life and death, we insist they go through years of education. They have to be certified, pass certain tests, and be subject to review. They're subject to discipline and penalities if they abuse their trust - and have to carry insurance. We tolerate their 'tyranny' because they can prove the benefits, they exercise those powers in controlled circumstances, and they accept limits on what they can do. The system isn't perfect, not all outcomes are happy ones - but the alternative of no regulation, no oversight would be far worse.

"Why Are You Trying To Take Away My Guns?" Part Three
     So, you are a gun owner, or want to be a gun owner. What do you think is a fair cost for that right, and who do you think should pay? Up to this point I've been discussing history, sociology, and making analogies. Let's talk some specifics as a starting point for regulation. The issues of gun control boil down to some basic categories: safe use, competent ownership, responsible ownership,  controlled sales, sensible limits.

Safe Use: There are differences between hunting and target shooting, hand guns and rifles, self defense and recreation and so on - but there should be a common goal. A firearm should ideally only be used under controlled conditions for a specific purpose. When hunting, it should only be at a clearly identified target in an area where hunting is allowed - and due regard for what lies beyond the target. On a range, firearms should only be fired at proper targets, with due regard for range safety and discipline. (And the range itself should be set up with all possible regard for safe use.) For self defense, it should only be in response to a clear and present danger, only if there are no alternatives, and again with due regard for the consequences of firing it. Is it really reasonable to ask for anything less when wielding deadly force?

Competent Ownership: Anyone who wants to own and/or use a gun should be prepared to demonstrate their proficiency with it on a periodic basis. They should be able to reliably hit a target under conditions appropriate for the gun's intended use and they should be able to demonstrate their ability to handle it safely. They should expect to devote a reasonable amount of time to maintaining proficiency on a regular basis. They should know how to keep a gun in good working order, and be able to recognize when it is not. We require this of military and law enforcement personnel. The need for a reasonable amount of skill is not contingent upon wearing a uniform. And anyone who wants to indulge in either open carry or concealed carry damn well better be able to demonstrate competency.

Responsible Ownership: Gun safety is not just about shooting; it's about things like storage and access. When a gun is not in the hands of a competent user under conditions where it is appropriate to fire it, it should be stored as safely as possible. This can be as basic as putting the safety on and unloading the gun when out in the field when not actively hunting, or when between target rounds on a range. It means securing it unloaded for storage, with a trigger lock and/or in a gun safe. It means restricting access to keep it out of the hands of the unqualified, the incompetent, the criminal, or the insane. It should be registered, so that in case of theft or loss it can be traced. It should be insured, not just against theft but also against the consequences of accident or misuse. We require no less for car ownership. Why should firearms be different?

Controlled Sales: There should be no exceptions to gun sales without background checks. Period. Keeping firearms out of the hands of people with criminal backgrounds, health issues (not just mental), or possible terrorist links ought to be a no brainer for obvious reasons. But that's only one side of the problem. It's also necessary to track gun sellers to see where the firearms they sell ultimately end up. This would make it possible to identify A) people buying guns for others under false pretenses and B) gun sellers who were racking up more than a reasonable share of sales that ultimately ended up in criminal hands. (The proverbial "Bad Apples" of the gun trade) If guns were only sold to people who were competent and responsible by sellers who were competent and responsible, the problem of gun violence in this country would be much smaller.

Sensible Limits: The combination of guns capable of rapid fire (semi-automatic or otherwise) with large capacity magazines has proven to be deadly on a repeated basis. There is no reasonable use in either hunting, recreational shooting, or self defense for such weapons that is commensurate with making them available for sale to the general public without restriction. They should be banned, and some scheme put in place to winnow out the existing stock from circulation. The Revolutionary War was fought with flintlocks; the Wild West tamed with six-shooters. Barring a zombie apocalypse or other paranoid fantasy, the sale of military-style killing-optimized firearms should be banned or at least highly restricted for the same reason we don't allow the general sale of machine guns, armor piercing ammunition, or flamethrowers. Ditto for bulk purchases of ammunition without some kind of scrutiny. The cost we're already paying far outweighs any potential benefits.

Making It Happen
     Implementing the five points outlined above can be done with a variety of financial incentives, legal sanctions, regulation, and common sense. Anyone who wants to argue against safe, competent, responsible gun ownership and use is either hopeless or the NRA leadership - but I repeat myself. We already have a patchwork of laws along those lines across different jurisdictions, but some obvious steps suggest themselves.

    Some system for generating and improving competency that will involve making instruction and certification widely available AND stringent enough to be effective is necessary. Most police departments have access to shooting ranges for their own needs. Some sort of modest examination fee might be charged to allow gun owners to make use of them in exchange for demonstrating competency. Something similar might be incorporated into the arrangements for getting hunting licenses. Whatever is set up should match the intended use of the firearms by their owner.

   Since there's a hue and cry to put guns in schools, why not take the logical step of incorporating it into the curriculum as an option, like say Driver Ed? By the same rationale, it's something the ever expanding network of community colleges might offer (where they don't already.) The tricky part will be to keep the gun lobby from seizing control of it. But, people who get an honest education into the responsibilities of gun ownership and a true picture of what guns can and can not do will be less likely to fall for gun industry propaganda.

   The insurance industry could have an important role to play. Requiring gun owners to carry insurance of the type described above would mean they'd have to demonstrate that they were competent in firearm ownership and safety concerns - or not be able to get insurance. Insurance companies could offer incentives for owners willing to take special classes or invest in specific safety measures. They might also serve to discourage casual ownership by people who have no real need for a gun. Plus, someone unable to qualify for insurance under these criteria probably shouldn't have a gun in the first place.

    A key element in this has to be consistent and effective enforcement of whatever mechanisms are put in place. The firearms industry has fought a back-door offensive against any kind of regulation by getting politicians to block key appointments, underfund agencies, and ban the most basic research needed to identify problems and design effective policies. It's been great for their profits, but bad for everyone else.

     The hardest part is going to be banning certain kinds of weapons. There will be a lot of arguing over what exactly should be banned, although polls show a majority in favor of some kind of ban. It's pretty clear that weapons that can be used for rapid fire and can take high capacity magazines are how mass casualties get piled up so quickly - but the quibbles will be over what "rapid" and "high capacity" means - plus the usual suspects swearing up and down that people NEED that kind of firepower for self defense. (Sean Hannity keeps talking about a woman in Georgia who emptied a handgun by putting 5 out of 6 rounds into an intruder and drove him off - but what if 3 intruders had broken in???? The merchants of fear are hard at work fighting this.)

     Something instructive can be learned from Australia. (A lot more about that at the end of this diary.) It's not enough to just ban new sales of those weapons; some kind of buy-back is needed to remove the existing weapons from circulation. It won't be cheap - but it will be far less expensive than the cost of leaving them out there. The effects in Australia were and are dramatic.

     The firearms industry and the right wing echo machine that plays to the same base have spent a lot of time and money making people afraid so they'll buy more guns (and vote for the merchants of fear.) It's not just assault weapons, etc. we need to deal with. We need to reduce the overall number of guns in circulation and incentivize people to turn them in for disposal instead of passing them on to others - again a buy back program of some kind. Perhaps a modest tax on ammunition might finance this?

     These five proposals are offered as a comprehensive framework on which to build legislation that will move us forward. The gun lobby has had its way for too long; the pendulum looks ready to swing back. With some work (including more Bully Pulpit), these ideas might help point it in the right direction.

     Granted these are ideal solutions in an imperfect world. Granted they will be difficult to implement, and will be bitterly opposed. Granted there will be failures: people will still kill people with guns and commit crimes. But - if perfection were the only acceptable answer to our problems, there is not a human being alive who could justify their existence. We can do better, so let's try, okay? Meanwhile, let me finish up with comments about a few more talking points that keep coming up.

More Guns = Less Crime. Or Does It?
    A common argument is that there is less crime where people are armed and ready to defend themselves. Fear of crime is the most commonly cited reason to own a gun - or so it seems. But how reasonable is that fear? If you listen to the Right Wing Echo Machine, crime is rampant, society is breaking down, terrorists are going to murder us in our beds, and so on. But what's the reality?

    Well, among other things there was a big rise in violent crime, starting in the 1960s and peaking in the early 90s, where it began to peter out. Rape, murder, assault - these crimes and others soared for a time, and no one quite understood why. When it began to ebb, a number of reasons were offered. In 1999 Steven Levitt suggested legalized abortion thanks to Roe V. Wade meant that a significant number of potential criminals were never born. A more humorous suggestion attributed it to the ending of prayer in schools. Rudy Giuliani claimed it was because of tough policing in NYC - but it declined everywhere else too. It also happened to take place on Bill Clinton's watch as president...

     John R. Lott Jr. has proclaimed a rise in gun ownership is behind it, by the intuitive argument that:

The evidence — and there is plenty of it — points to the very opposite, that cutting access to guns mainly disarms law-abiding citizens, making criminals' lives easier. Guns let potential victims defend themselves when the police aren't there.
     Lott goes on to argue that gun control actually increases crime, and cites a number of statistics that seem superficially relevant. There's a graph at the link that supposedly shows a correlation between gun ownership rates and homicides around the world. Closer examination shows the graph makes absolutely no sense; too many factors are ignored, and the time period it is supposed to cover is not shown. Lott, as it happens, has been caught creating false identities to bolster his claims and making up numbers and studies to 'prove' his theories. He's a fraud, but that doesn't keep gun proponents from trotting out his theories any time gun control is being discussed. Anyone who cites his work is either a fraud themselves, or sadly uninformed.

    Or is just looking for an excuse to boost gun sales.

     Be that as it may, none of the explanations for why the great crime wave crested and broke in the 1990s can convincingly explain why it did so - or why it rose in the first place. Except one that is.

     Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones has done yeoman service tying together numerous studies that tie the rise and fall in the crime rate to where it was 50 years ago largely to one factor: the use of tetraethyl lead in gasoline and its subsequent removal. America's Real Criminal Element: Lead examines the evidence.

     The changes in the crime rate track the use of lead in gasoline almost perfectly, with a roughly 20 year delay. The correlation is found around the world in all kinds of countries, and the rate of increase and decrease and the timing matches that for the use of lead in those areas. Medical research has documented that no amount of lead is safe for children (or for adults for that matter); it damages developing nervous systems in ways that lower IQ, increase aggression, damage impulse control, and lead to ADHD increases. It affects boys more than girls. Studies tracking children as they grew found that higher lead levels correlated with a greater likelihood of criminal behavior as they reached adulthood.

      Drum does note that lead is not the sole factor that needs to be considered in explaining what happened - but the evidence at this point in time clearly shows it is the most significant factor. He follows up the main article with a number of blog posts expanding on the original article and responding to several criticisms here. This is NOT something you will hear from the gun lobby or the merchants of fear.

      The connections Drum spells out between lead and crime are far more solidly documented than any claims the firearms industry might make about guns preventing crime - or the effectiveness of gun control laws. And that's because researchers were free to investigate the effects of lead. The firearms industry has deliberately blocked meaningful efforts to find out exactly what guns do or do not do to our society. Details here. That's one reason why I framed the five points above for dealing with guns in general terms. We don't know enough to get into specific details yet, but they may get us headed in the right direction.

Would You Trust A Chimpanzee With A Loaded Gun?
     The self defense argument is one that many people buy into at a very emotional level. People who've gotten a steady diet of misinformation from the merchants of fear are more than ready to turn to guns to keep themselves and their families safe. News of mass shootings and the cries of "If only someone had had a gun to stop the shooter!" feed into the fantasy that using a gun for self defense is easy. It's not.

This is the fantasy (after the commercial)

      The reality is far different. Policemen spend a lot of time training to use firearms safely and effectively - and even they have a hard time when called upon to react. When NYPD officers responded to a shooting at the Empire State Building, they took out the gun man - but they also wounded nine pedestrians. Of the 16 rounds that were fired by the two officers, nine people besides the shooter were struck with either bullets or fragments.

     There are some basic biological mechanisms that kick in when humans find themselves in a life or death situation. Blood withdraws from the extremities - making hands clumsy. Adrenaline surges, pumping up the heart rate. Vision closes down to concentrate on the threat - and surroundings disappear in a blur. Hearing becomes hyper focused, to the point where people don't hear what's going on around them. Freezing is a reaction that often takes place, or undirected flight. Policemen practice to overcome these instinctive reactions - and even they have a hard time, and have to stay current at it with regular practice.

Unless you've spent a lot of time training for this,  the painful reality is that you'll suddenly find most of your brain and your motor skills are suddenly impaired. A chimp just might have the edge on you in a shootout.

IF Guns don't kill people, people kill people, THEN guns don't make people safe; people make people safe
     Consider the classic scenario. It's night time, you're asleep. You wake because you hear a noise. It's dark, your body's rhythms are disrupted, but you still manage to find that loaded gun you keep next to the bed and you get it in your hand just as the door swings open and a shadowy figure lurches into the room. What happens next?

  It's your kid, who got lost on the way back from the bathroom and bumped into something in the hall before blundering into your room by mistake. Or substitute a wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/visitor.

It's your neighbor from next door who couldn't find his own house. It's some stranger who got lost.

Or maybe it's a real threat - from a sleepwalking child. With a gun!

Or suppose it's a real intruder; you fire a shot and frighten them off. But where did the shot go? Would your walls stop a bullet?

      The problem with having a gun in the house for 'safety' is this: the response to every possible threat (real or imagined) starts to turn around what you do with that gun. The moment you brought it through the door, you increased the odds that someone might get shot accidentally up from zero. You've increased the odds that a domestic dispute could suddenly go very bad. You have to constantly be aware of where it is, and who might get ahold of it. And if anyone in the house is feeling suicidal, you've made giving in to an impulse a lot easier...

     If you want to argue for open carry or concealed carry to take your gun along with you, well you may or may not end up safer from other people - but you'll definitely still be at risk from yourself. And so will the people around you. David Waldman has put together a depressing compilation of all the recent ways people have demonstrated being around a gun is not a way to be safer.

     If you really need a gun to feel safe, you have bigger problems than a gun is going to solve. You might consider voting against politicians who eliminate police to keep from raising taxes. You might want to encourage programs in your community that really do create jobs. You might think about Midnight Basketball. You might support giving everyone adequate health care - mental or other wise. You might think about getting some decent locks on doors and windows if nothing else.

  And you might think about getting a dog. Odds are a dog will be aware of an intruder long before you are, and will do a better job responding.

But Hitler!
     You don't have to wade far into the fever swamp to hear this justification for the right to own guns with no limits of any kind, and especially no registration or tracking of sales. The argument boils down to "If the government knows I have guns, someday the government is going to come for them. Governments always do. Therefore the government must never know."

       Usually there's some mention of Hitler at this point, the story being if the Jews had been able to fight back, Hitler would never have been able to wipe them out. And they couldn't fight back because Hitler had rounded up all the guns. Q.E.D. Forget that this is mostly bunk - it's a narrative that resonates at a deep emotional level, especially among people who are repeatedly told by the usual suspects that they are becoming a persecuted minority under an increasingly totalitarian regime. Never mind that the same people spewing this have a lot to do with building the machinery of totalitarianism into our government and normalizing its use with such blinding logic as "Do you want the terrorists to win?"

     The government is already all over us with its ability to monitor the phone system, bank records, credit card transactions, internet use, the DMV, the IRS, Social Security, and so on. Hell - FaceBook and Google alone probably know a lot more about people than they know themselves. In the modern interconnected world, there is so much information out there already, worrying about the government putting together a list of who owns what guns is redundant. That ship sailed a long time ago.

     The idea that a bunch of private citizens putting together an arsenal of weapons is going to keep the government from becoming a tyranny is a fantasy. (Yeah, like this.) I can hear the prototypical Fascist Government Stormtrooper saying "I'll see your AR-15 and raise you one AC-130. So, do ya feel lucky, punk?"

      There's a far more effective way for a persecuted minority to protect themselves from a government tyranny than putting an arsenal together. Put a few million dollars together instead, and start buying politicians, tax breaks, and legislation.  But that's a topic for a different diary...

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns
      This is one of the oldest knee-jerk responses to gun regulation going. Talk about variations on a theme.

"Criminals don't obey laws."
"Gun control doesn't work."
"People will just find another way to kill people."

      You hear this all the time from the merchants of fear and the firearms industry. As mentioned above, they've deliberately worked to keep us from finding out what is effective by blocking research, and by crippling the efforts that have been made. There are profits at stake, and the desire to keep people from looking to government to actually provide answers and solve problems.

     It's impossible to get all guns out of the hands of criminals. No law will ever be completely effective. But that's not the same as saying a difference can't be made. And as it happens there is one country that HAS made a difference.


        John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia, and he described exactly what sparked action, how it was carried out, and what the payoff was in an NY Times guest editorial.

...on April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant, a psychologically disturbed man, used a semiautomatic Armalite rifle and a semiautomatic SKS assault weapon to kill 35 people in a murderous rampage in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

After this wanton slaughter, I knew that I had to use the authority of my office to curb the possession and use of the type of weapons that killed 35 innocent people. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy.


To make this plan work, there had to be a federally financed gun buyback scheme. Ultimately, the cost of the buyback was met by a special one-off tax imposed on all Australians. This required new legislation and was widely accepted across the political spectrum. Almost 700,000 guns were bought back and destroyed — the equivalent of 40 million guns in the United States.


The fundamental problem was the ready availability of high-powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing. Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. But nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.

emphasis added

       Howard notes that Australia is different from the U.S. in some ways - the national government isn't as strong, but neither is the gun lobby. There's nothing that quite corresponds to the bill of rights, or a "right to bear arms" so the courts don't have as much say as the legislatures over this. And there was a political cost. But the end result is hard to gainsay.

In the end, we won the battle to change gun laws because there was majority support across Australia for banning certain weapons. And today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate. The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996. The American Law and Economics Review found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides by 74 percent. In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms, Australia suffered 13 gun massacres — each with more than four victims — causing a total of 102 deaths. There has not been a single massacre in that category since 1996.

Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control.

John Howard was prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007.

   EquationDoc has put together a diary in which he contrasts what happened at Newtown with what life is like in Australia these days.
I used to live in Connecticut. But now I live in North Melbourne, Australia, a suburb of Melbourne. I can walk to the central business district from my house in about 15 minutes, or spend six minutes on one of our world-famous trams. The population of Australia is about 22.9 million, and the Melbourne metro area has 4.1 million people. Melbourne is also among the most ethnically diverse regions on earth, with almost 40% of the area's inhabitants born overseas. We have the third largest Greek-speaking population in the world, and Nguyen is the second most common name in the phone book.

There is crime here--and there is violent crime here--but the homicide rate in Australia is less than 1/4th that in the US. The homicide rate is about 1.0 homicides per 100,000 people per year. And the firearm homicide rate is about 0.2 homicides per 100,000 people.

A double homicide--which almost never happens--is considered a massacre. It's almost impossible to legally own anything more than a single-shot firearm here--and it's pretty difficult to go on a killing spree with a single-shot .22 caliber rifle.

Melbourne's violent crime rate is a bit higher than the national average, but still nowhere near that in the US, and nowhere near that of a big city in the US. Fourteen people were murdered with firearms last year in the state of Victoria, which has about 5.6 million people. The year before? Ten. That same year, Nebraska--a state with less than 1.9 million people--had 42 homicides involving firearms. Nebraska!

     Once we cut through all the hype, the fantasies, the fear, is there any reason why we're still debating what to do about guns?

Originally posted to xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).


We'll do something about guns in America when:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (179+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NewDealer, A Citizen, se portland, lotusmaglite, Glen The Plumber, shaharazade, Bisbonian, Araguato, AnnetteK, Mother Mags, Over the Edge, NapaJulie, lyvwyr101, theKgirls, hubcap, tofumagoo, a2nite, statsone, DRo, radarlady, rodentrancher, TheDuckManCometh, pistolSO, 2thanks, anodnhajo, joe pittsburgh, oddstray, pioneer111, nicolemm, oldpotsmuggler, chicagobleu, dorkenergy, Rockydog, Chaddiwicker, GeorgeXVIII, tapestry, StateofEuphoria, Siri, Laconic Lib, Nicci August, orrg1, fumie, argomd, jamess, Jollie Ollie Orange, liberte, Agathena, Michael James, glendaw271, nosleep4u, Sandino, LSmith, GreenPA, psnyder, virginia dare, zeke7237, pgm 01, Burned, m00finsan, deha, peregrine kate, Smoh, tobendaro, AdamR510, poco, collardgreens, MRA NY, Shotput8, Texknight, wretchedhive, uciguy30, stormicats, DefendOurConstitution, Jay C, kovie, smileycreek, Wayward Wind, serendipityisabitch, glorificus, profh, Debby, The Hindsight Times, wader, Demeter Rising, schumann, NYWheeler, Crazy Moderate, skybluewater, tart tatine, LeoQ, Son of a Cat, Sailorben, Dave in Northridge, congenitalefty, Thinking Fella, snowwoman, peachcreek, Dogs are fuzzy, Captain Sham, jan4insight, mamamedusa, timewarp, vcmvo2, Kim from Pgh PA, Meteor Blades, NoisyGong, BlueInARedState, Catte Nappe, anana, Cartoon Messiah, luckydog, ReneInOregon, rapala, RUNDOWN, SadieSue, Old Guild Guy, Ginny in CO, Question Authority, FiredUpInCA, lavorare, goobop, degreesofgray, silentpawz, lizah, Azazello, drofx, dizzydean, blueoasis, yet another liberal, Miggles, radical simplicity, expatjourno, Zwoof, out of left field, outragedinSF, Jeff Y, Williston Barrett, CalLawyer817, David PA, skohayes, BachFan, hulibow, MBNYC, Clues, Yasuragi, koNko, elginblt, Land of Enchantment, pianogramma, sheepmama, native, UFOH1, Buckeye54, PeteZerria, Fe, Tommye, Pithy Cherub, rhyme and reason, jfromga, tommymet, Beetwasher, lineatus, citizen dan, Poika, Progressif, Bluesee, lady sisyphus, playtonjr, sawgrass727, JayBat, Tim DeLaney, golem, Permanent Republican Minority, antirove, artmartin, redlum jak, SmartAleq, where4art, jguzman17

    Congratulations if you made it this far - I realize that's a lot to wade through, especially on a Sunday.  

    I wanted to formalize a response to the talking points that come up all the time, and throw in some things that don't - but should. The NRA has been pushing a narrative of fear and fantasy; I hope the five points I came up with can be a useful framework for a counter narrative.

    Safe use, competent ownership, responsible ownership,  controlled sales, sensible limits - you can count them off on the fingers of one hand and it shifts the conversation to a place where reason has a better chance to prevail.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:36:49 AM PST

  •  Excellent, comprehensive diary (36+ / 0-)

    Plenty to learn, plenty to agree with, and even some stuff to disagree with ;)

    I particularly liked the inclusion of the ABC News story on how the lack of crisis training bursts the bubble fantasy of the civilian-with-a-gun stopping an madman. That should be require viewing for every responsible gun owner.

    Thanks for all the time and effort. Tipped and rec'd.

    The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

    by lotusmaglite on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:11:44 AM PST

  •  My 2nd Amendment Diary (35+ / 0-)

    I wrote this way back in May of 2007. I can't believe it has been that long. It examines the whole slavery issue in more detail than you had room for in your far more encompassing diary.

    My 2nd Amendment Diary

    Mason and Henry made many arguments against ratification, but one of the strategies they devised was particularly shrewd. Virginia was nearly half black, and the white population lived in constant fear of slave insurrection. The main instrument of control was the militia. So critical was the militia for slave control that, in the main, the southern states refused to commit their militia to the war against the British. The Constitution, however, would transfer the lion's share of the power over the militia to Congress. Slavery was becoming increasingly obnoxious to the North, and southern delegates to the Philadelphia convention demanded and got an agreement, somewhat cryptically written into the Constitution, that deprived the federal government of authority to abolish slavery. Mason and Henry raised the specter of Congress using its authority over the militia to do indirectly what it could not do directly. They suggested that Congress might refuse to call forth the militia to suppress an insurrection, send southern militia to New Hampshire, and on this they harped repeatedly disarm the militia. For Virginia and the South, these were chilling prospects.

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:35:25 AM PST

    •  It's certainly history that doesn't get much press (20+ / 0-)

      Or attention in the schools.

      We've got this idea going that the current partisanship  in DC is in sharp contrast to the Founding Fathers with their statesmanship, and their eternal wisdom. We forget that they weren't talking about ideal forms of government inspired by some abstract vision - they were politicians with some real 'skin in the game'.

      Funny how no one asks what color skin is being talked about when that phrase is used.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:46:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  history is taught at a dumbed-down level (5+ / 0-)

        it's really appalling, but it is true that including all the nuance and every detail would make history books weigh a ton.

        but this is just as bad:

        the original rationale of keeping the slaves down
        there is no one rationale behind the 2nd.  the slave patrols were in the mix, along with lots of other stuff.  the 2nd was, like the civil war, about lots of things; slaves were but a factor in both situations.

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:30:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If I am looking at where you quote that line from (4+ / 0-)

          It's from a quick summary of roughly the past 250 years and a whole grab bag of references. It wasn't intended to be detailed or nuanced, just short hand.

          Thom Hartmann's piece goes into  much more detail, as do several of the commentators. I chose to emphasize it because I think it's one of the more important elements in discussions about the Second Amendment that gets elided or omitted.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:30:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a critical point that most people don't know (8+ / 0-)

            I didn't know it until I read about it here recently, and I've studied history far more than about 99% of the population.   There's a tendency to view the Constitution as though it was handed to Moses on stone tablets on Mt. Sinai instead of viewing it a the subject of multiple comprises between fallible and occasionally biased human beings.  Thank you for offering this reality check.

            Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

            by RFK Lives on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:50:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oddly, Hartmann of all people didn't (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              know much about it until recently. One of his callers brought it up on the show and was quite prepared. Thom was gracious, indicated he had a gap in knowledge he needed to check out, and praised his audience of 'the smartest people in the world.'

              Not many weeks later, I believe the show was last week or the week before, Thom came out with the information he had put together.  I saw one person comment on how it was just Hartmann believing what fits his views. Which reminded me, I firmly believe that in order not to have to confront ideas that don't fit your views, you don't read or listen to them.

              It really does put a lot of things into the narrative that were clearly missing. I think the whole reality of why the slaves were not able to rise up enough to fight it (great Django Unchained clip in Hartmann's TV show) cannot be explained without the slave patrols. This gives more reason to understand how they came about and were allowed to function.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:47:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Without Slavery (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, Ginny in CO, a2nite, artmartin

          There would have been no movement for secession, and no Civil War. At least according to the Vice-President of the Confederacy, quoted in James McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom". I refer the reader to page 244. The whole book is well worth study.

          One may argue successfully that other regional frictions existed. None of those had anything like the force to bring on secession on the scale needed to produce the war.

          •  I've seen analyses that... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ginny in CO, samanthab, a2nite, artmartin

            the southern economy based on slavery actually held back the economic development of the south. It makes sense when you realize how many humans were essentially living at subsistence levels, had no purchasing power, no incentive to innovate (duh!), and so on. Slavery actually forces a large part of the economy to operate at sub-optimal levels.

            Something the 1% appear to have forgotten or never learned, in their quest to turn us all into serfs.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:29:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  nullification crisis (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite, artmartin

            1830s or so.  the seeds were laid then.  trade tariffs, banking issues -- all of these spurred secession.

            3/5 congressional representation for every slave was power.

            slaves gave the south their wealth.

            all wars are fought over power and money.

            secession is not war.

            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

            by Cedwyn on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 04:02:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Oh noooooes, another gun diary! (31+ / 0-)

    The best researched, best organized, best written, most comprehensive one of the bunch.  Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this.  I need to print it out or there a way to "bookmark" diaries for future refernce?

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:51:01 AM PST

  •  Baby Boomers? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lyvwyr101, Smoh
    Well, among other things there was a big rise in violent crime, starting in the 1960s and peaking in the early 90s, where it began to peter out. Rape, murder, assault - these crimes and others soared for a time, and no one quite understood why. When it began to ebb, a number of reasons were offered.
    I think the 1945-1964 baby boom had a strong influence on this trend, in addition to any other factor that may have influenced it, as well. The Boomers fueled a swell in the number of teenagers in the 1960s and by the early 1990s they were entering and moving through their 40s. Usually the 15-45 age range has the highest percentage of cohort committing crimes. The increased numbers of age groups with a higher tendency to commit crimes at least played a part in fueling the crime wave.

    If anyone has specific stats relating the two, I'd be glad to see them.

    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

    by OHeyeO on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:18:10 AM PST

    •  The stats are there - Drum specifically cites that (13+ / 0-)

      The studies adjust for that, and the increase in crime is not explained by there simply being more people available to commit crimes.

      In fact, there was another population bulge following the Baby Boomers that was expected to produce another swell in the crime rate. It didn't happen and the evidence appears to suggest the biggest difference when all known factors are examined, is lead in gasoline for one group, and not in gasoline for the latter.

      A link to the original story and follow-up posts can be found here. The case Drum makes is both detailed and compelling.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:30:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love this addition to the multiple reasons (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, OHeyeO

        for gun crime. It was something I dealt a lot with in home care nursing.  I had an issue with Levitt and Donohue's research. They didn't include the concurrent increase in birth control use. Having been in the critical ages of 18 + at that time, one of the things that was emerging steadily was access and availability of birth control to sexually active young, and older, women. Additionally, I think Roe V Wade discussions also helped decrease the stigma and reluctance with using birth control. Temporarily brought back by the GOP war on women.

         Women who had not previously been comfortable making the doctors appointment and asking for it, realized it was a very legitimate request. Far better than abstinence or facing an unwanted pregnancy - with abortion becoming a legal out. The growing women's movement was all about standing up and advocating for rights. I will be interested if one woman from that era posts about an experience that was under the radar. Going to an OB-GYN and getting verbally reamed for asking. This was mostly in single women scenarios - not only. One story was a  married woman who had gone to a Catholic doctor. Well, that hasn't completely changed. I am not at all sure how prevalent it was. A lot of doctors were very supportive. Unfortunately, in the cauldron of sex issues at the time, a small number of people could scare many others - until the out loud and public conversations overwhelmed the whispered private ones.

        The point being that those who keep arguing banning or regulating guns won't do anything/enough, are totally missing the huge, complex picture. Which needs a lot more data and research to generate the most effective actions and programs. Oh, yeah, some of the things Obama is working on...  

        The underlying issue for all these problems (paint, gas, unplanned pregnancies) is significantly socioeconomic. From breathing more concentrated gas fumes in crowded neighborhoods, to housing that was more likely to have lead paint years after the danger was known.


        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:50:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  If you are talking about homicide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the big bump is 18-24.

  •  A comprehensive and well-argued diary, Thanks! (18+ / 0-)

    I wrote the text below a couple of weeks ago, and have left it simmering in my mind. It's about how I see a program to ban certain weapons might be effected without engaging in intrusive mass searches of private property which would only escalate the current level of paranoid hysteria.

    Perhaps the solution to some of the gun control law impasse is to go ahead and enact the regulations even knowing that it will be impossible to achieve full compliance to the law.  And publicly acknowledge that no "jack-booted" government agents will ever be tasked with doing house to house searches to confiscate any guns in order to achieve compliance to the law.

    Instead rely on the common sense, and self interest, of   the presumably law-abiding, level-head and responsible gun owners to comply.

    Let's say some form of weapon-category specific prohibition is enacted.

    This particular class of weapon is thereafter no longer able to be sold or owned in the United States. The law has a mechanism to buy the wretched things back at a fair market rate.  That's the carrot.

    The stick is this: even though no one is going to be coming to hunt through your house to find the banned weapons, if they are ever discovered the consequences will be severe (certain jail and biggish fine, no plea deal).  

    So keep the damn thing, if you're so rabidly attached to it.  If you take your gun out and seal it up in a waterproof case and bury it,  well, at least that puts it out of the way. Doesn't remove it entirely, but in the fullness of time a weapon you can't shoot in the open air, can't transport anywhere without high risk of stiff penalties becomes just so much heavy metal.  Sure, this would create a black market for those guns not turned in. Sure, it would raise the black-market value of those contraband guns. Sure, lots of the anti-government,  conspiracy-minded mopes will keep theirs "just in case".  But secretly, and securely, cached weapons pose little threat to the rest of us. Maybe they would continue to fuel the revolutionary fantasies of the current generation of gun nuts. But eventually the gun nuts' heirs will have a choice: keep on hiding the contraband gun, or participate in the third leg of the banning law: executors have a short period (2-4 weeks) after a death to turn the gun in w/o penalty.  After that they are considered the owner of record and the onerous potential penalties would come home to roost with them.

    The absurd number of personally owned weapons in the US today didn't happen overnight. And it's unrealistic to expect that they could be (or would be) removed over a short period of time. To do that would take aggressive invasions of privacy and property that would trigger blowback.  Instead, a limited gun-banning law might be met with dismay by some, but get considerable voluntary (if reluctant) compliance, too.

    Most sane people are well-socialized enough to understand that a law which has penalties presents choices: comply and avoid penalties, or defy and face risks.  Most, I think, would comply especially if the penalty was certain and severe and if compensation was offered.

    After the sane ones made a choice, that would leave only the outlaws. And some otherwise sane people who'd been propagandized into imaging themselves striking a blow for "freedom". It  would likely be some of these hapless souls who would first run afoul of the new law and suffer the harsh penalty. A few such well-publicized penalties and the last persuadably sane-ish people will decide to comply with the law and turn some more of the banned weapons in.

    Gradually over time the remaining outlaws would leave this mortal coil and their heirs would face the choice.  It might take a generation, or two, but eventually fewer and fewer of these weapons would be in circulation.  And private gun ownership could once again devolve to those who use guns to hunt, competitive target shoot or wish some protection within their homes.  

    There will still be criminals with weapons, though all but the dumbest will likely opt for non-banned models to avoid aggravating the potential risks if caught. There will still be people who shoot their nearest and dearest in a fit of rage; there will still be people who commit suicide with guns; there will still be people who are truly, recognizably insane and personality-disordered who get their hands on weapons. But there will be fewer, less powerful, less-rapid firing, guns around, eventually.

    But most importantly we can begin to step away from the societal abyss that is growing right now.  It is fueled by the RW's shock and disbelief at their electoral failure. And is assiduously being fanned by third-party, often commercial, interests. The nexus between a disappointed, even enraged-at-the-outcome political movement and the gun-industry provocateurs is very dangerous. Because some innocent people will be victims caught up in incidents between delusional gun-defenders and law enforcement. And because of the harm this bitter, and completely irrational tsunami of anti-government paranoia does to our sense of comity.

    Full disclosure: I have at times in my life owned guns, including a handgun w/ a concealed carry permit.  I don't hunt although most in my family have done so. Someone in my family died as a result of a gun.

    Since I wrote this my state (NY) has taken some baby steps towards deciding that there are some guns that are not within the acceptable scope of risk for general ownership. The law has some inevitable faults, but it's now a done deal.


    •  I expect the default will be something like that (11+ / 0-)

      We just don't have enough law enforcement people to go house to house collecting illegal firearms. (Someone diaried that a week or two ago, and the amount of time it would take they calculated was something in the range of decades....)

      Another possible carrot for people who bought these guns legally, but don't want to take a buy back offer is to severly limit the way they can be legally used. That is - they can keep them and use them, but only at a range/shooting club facility that A) is properly equipped to handle firing those kinds of weapons, and B) the owners have to sign them in and out of secure storage at the range under someone else's officially sanctioned supervision.

      For collectors who don't want to fire them or let them be bought back, they can keep them - but only if they've first been rendered inoperable, as verified by a gunsmith and to the satisfaction of whomever issues their gun insurance policy. And they can't resell them to anyone.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:46:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Illegalize, create an amnesty period, and assign (8+ / 0-)

        drop off points. And maybe some "buyback" but after a gun ban the "resale price" would fall through the floor.

        Obviously, however, this way would require removing the Second Amendment roadblock first. Short of that, yeah, what you said!

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:35:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, please, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite, koNko, lazybum, Buckeye54

          I'm not suggesting that the 2nd Amendment be removed or vitiated.

          Nowhere do I see in any part of the 2A a guarantee that any -and every - particular sort of "arms" be constitutionally protected.

          It isn't because the framers just didn't foresee RPGs or tactical nukes in order to invoke them explicitly. (Neither as far as I can see for sale to the gen. public at my local gun shop, and apparently without raising too much angst on Constitutional grounds, either.)

          It's because common sense tells you that there is no essential contradiction between having robustly- protected rights to have private ownership of some guns while also having decided, as a society, that other sorts of "arms" should NOT be available to any private citizen on demand.

          (And I daresay, though it surprises me to find myself in agreement with him, it may be that Justice Scalia may also think so as well. That implies some daylight between the all-or-nothing approach of some fanatics.)

          Don't get confused between these two positions.
          Perhaps the fierceness of the NRA/gun lobby/ 2A zealots will succeed (again) is muddying the waters around this issue, but somehow, this time feels different to me.

          So we'll see what happens in the long run.

          An important thing to do for everybody who truly cares about larger welfare of the Nation is to keep talking about it now that we've started.


      •  I'd be fine with controlled usage (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pistolSO, xaxnar, Buckeye54

        It would just take longer for the emotional attachment to lessen if you can still go shoot 'em.  

        But, whatever, the point is to start and not allow the reasonable, and I believe constitutionally legal, process of extracting the most egregiously destructive types of weapons from general circulation to be halted by the impossibility of getting 100% compliance. Or the by the politically impossible of proposing active searching for the weapons, which simply wouldn't work. (Aside from time and cost, etc.)


    •  That is very similar to my thinking. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I do think Australia got it right on the buy back program. It's worth paying something close to what the owner paid for it. More will come forward, sooner.

      There is generally compliance with laws by a large majority. Given how many households don't own guns, it is going to affect fewer people than other laws and regs.

      Expanding on the buy-back program in the high crime areas - especially gangs. Couple it with a program designed to help these kids seriously transition to a life without crime and violence. This would have to be developed taking into account all the negatives they bring with them; poor parenting, abuse, deprivation, high stress in utero and early childhood which affects brain development. The cycle of poverty is front loaded with layers of abuse, neglect and harm (bad diet, lead paint, higher toxins in air and water).

      Now about burying the guns. It just begs to be included in one of the apocalyptic invasion movies that seem to proliferate like fruit flies. ;)

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:26:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent xaxnar, right to the Hotlist! Thanks. (8+ / 0-)

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 10:42:54 AM PST

  •  Yes-I've noticed (8+ / 0-)

    that the Second Amendment seems to gain in importance every time the political right gets spanked on election day.

    The Onion says----scholars have discovered---the Mayan word for "Apocalypse" in fact---translates more accurately as: "Time of pale obese gun monsters."

    by lyvwyr101 on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 11:12:09 AM PST

  •  Thoughtful diary wtihout name-calling (10+ / 0-)

    On a topic that rarely sees such. Thank you.

  •  2nd Place 2nd Amendment (12+ / 0-)

    The founding fathers placed 1st Amendment protections before guns.  People are more important than guns

    Ibis Exilis "Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America" Thomas Paine

    by Ibis Exilis on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:20:33 PM PST

  •  You did the work, you get the credit. But, (7+ / 0-)

    obviously this is not rocket science, or even new. In fact, and in all honesty, much (though certainly far from all) could fairly be characterized as "left wing talking points", and one might hope that such points on a left wing political site would be so much surplusage. On the other hand, if one did think that, even about Daily Kos, one would be wrong.

    I think that there might be some level of resistance to doing this amount of heavy lifting. I think that at least some, and maybe even some really strong actvists, think that we already have enough on our plate, and still hold out some vague hope that things somehow get better. And you do provide a very, very comprehensive roadmap (especially for trying to arrive at such an easy destination to find).

    May those who still need the guidance take the time to do the reading. Thank you so much.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:48:56 PM PST

    •  I'll admit to being something of a synthesist (0+ / 0-)

      A lot of this IS standard talking points from the left - what I've tried to do here is collect them, give them a bit of structure, and fit them into a coherent framework so they all fit together. What may appear obvious is often invisible, because it's easy to dismiss it as "nothing new here". Your individual Lego block isn't all that impressive - but you can have fun finding different ways to stack them up - and you may be surprised what you get at the end.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:40:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent coverage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, Sandino, koNko

    Perhaps another simple point to add -- on which there might be substantive agreement among all sides -- at least on dKos -- if not across-the-board, challenges the primary assertion made in

    The Stunning Ignorance of Kossacks About Guns

    an assertion that was challenged by no one in the 799 comments there.

    The first thing to understand about guns is that almost NO categorical statements are true; there is an exception to EVERYTHING.
    To test that assertion, take each of these categorical statements:
    1) With the "exception" of personally-manufactured guns and guns donated by companies as "goodwill", all guns are sold for money.
    2) All such guns are made by businesses.
    3) Many of those businesses are of significant size.
    4) Those businesses have, as businesses, more political influence than people.
    Can anyone here -- from any side of this issue -- deny the above?

    United We Understand

    by dorkenergy on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:52:16 PM PST

  •  YES! Rec List! (11+ / 0-)

    I was having a major sad that this diary wasn't getting the attention it deserved. One of the very best on the subject so far. I'd rec it X1000 if I could...

    The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

    by lotusmaglite on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:00:51 PM PST

    •  And thank you for sending reccs my way (7+ / 0-)

      Your effort on this isn't too shabby either.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:26:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the compliment. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Ginny in CO, FiredUpInCA

        Mine was more for amusement value, which I should have known would make it staggeringly popular (relatively speaking).

        Having said that, I've had to watch, over and over, diaries like mine (sarcastic, kind of amusing, but light on substance) shoot up onto the rec list while diaries like yours (chock full of substance, good ideas, great writing) fall into obscurity.

        And then this morning, I realized I was a participant in one of my own pet peeves about DK. So yeah, I shamelessly tried to pimp your diary as much as possible. I liked it that much, and I thought it was that important to get it seen. Thankfully, it looks like it was going to be seen under it's own power, whatever I did, but I'm glad I could send a couple of extra people over.

        Peace and stuff.

        The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

        by lotusmaglite on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:20:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Know What You Mean (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lotusmaglite, Ginny in CO

          Every so often I'll hit a home run that gets on the recc list; other times I'll barely make a ripple - and I see it with other diaries as well. Part of it is timing, part of it competition for eyeballs. And part of it seems to be chance.

          A few days ago I ran across reports that suggest Climate Change is already starting to affect the world coffee harvest, because the variety that is grown for most beans is very fussy about its growing conditions.

          On one level that seems trivial and almost funny - I can't have a morning cup because Global Warming ate my coffee!

          But at another level it's deadly serious. All of agriculture around the globe is under increasing stress - coffee is like the canary in a coal mine, keeling over to give warning that something is wrong. I tried to use it to emphasize the bigger problem. I got some reaction, but not as much as I would have liked.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:51:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Like where you're going with this (10+ / 0-)

    Though it's long, yours is a thoughtful and thorough diary. I for one just don't understand why anyone thinks gun owners are in any danger of losing their weapons. No one has proposed that AND the SCOTUS has affirmed individual gun rights. Non-gun enthusiasts have far fewer protections against guns than the other way around. Gun owners have gotten most of what they wanted legislatively for decades. It's time for the pendulum to swing a bit the other way.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:09:43 PM PST

  •  It's not the second amendment, it's what Scalia (16+ / 0-)

    and his band of 4 did with it. Here is Scalia days after the massacre in Newtown talking to Wallace:

    SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried—it’s to keep and “bear”, so it doesn’t apply to cannons—but I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.
    and this person is a Supreme Court Justice??

    Thanks for the comprehensive diary.

    ❧To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:25:48 PM PST

  •  What a sane, well- reasoned discourse! (6+ / 0-)

    If only the nut jobs screaming about "King Obama" or "Odumma" (among his many monikers from the right) would read it. And think about it. Instead of simply hating him. This essay was well worth the time it took to read-- even on a Sunday.

    "Let's stay together"--Rev. Al Green and President Obama

    by collardgreens on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:55:45 PM PST

  •  This is fantastic. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, xaxnar, FiredUpInCA

    I really enjoyed this.

    I had never seen that video. It's an eye-opener.

    Thank you.

  •  It will be interesting to see how this Citadel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, xaxnar, Buckeye54

    community progresses. Sounds like they're planning to establish a state within a state. Or a cult.

    "Let's stay together"--Rev. Al Green and President Obama

    by collardgreens on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:05:28 PM PST

    •  America has a lot of that (3+ / 0-)

      There are lots of communities that historically came together chasing some utopian ideal - or because they wanted to get away from the rest of the world. Or both.

      Most of them eventually broke up from their own internal contradictions. The Citadel will be lucky to make it to ten years - if they manage to get past their start up point that is.

      Unless there's some charismatic leader pushing it who can attract a bunch of wealthy followers ready to buy in, I don't think that will happen.

      It'd be a wild opportunity for a writer/journalist/historian/sociologist  who could get in early and document what happens. My first approximation is that this is the right-wing analog to a 60's style commune, only with guns instead of drugs and free love. But, being right wing, it's more likely to turn out to be a real estate investment scam of some kind.

      Look at Tom Monaghan's plans for the town of Ave Maria. He's put a lot of his own money into it. So far, they seem to be on track.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:33:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Will probably "sink" like those "ark" ideas. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And the property will be sold (to pay off lawyers) and to build yet another golf course and duck pond community.

      If not us ... who? If not here ... where? If not now ... when?

      by RUNDOWN on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:57:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  People who think that the gubmint is (4+ / 0-)

    coming for all their guns are many times the same ones who think that the gumbvments has the power to deport over 12 million undocumented people.

    However, there is no denying there are sentiments expressed that no one outside of the military or law enforcement should have access to guns. period.

    I would like to see included in the discussion of gun safety and regulations the current state of law enforcement training and militarization.  I am glad this was brought up in the diary, but I think there is a general misconception as to the average LEO's level of proficiency and required training.

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:21:31 PM PST

    •   No question some crazy stuff has been happening (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DefendOurConstitution, zett

      Beween Homeland Security and all the other post 911 measures that have been put in place, there is some serious military hardware out there among some police departments.

      Add in something new - the increasing use of drones domestically. We're not talking Hellfire missiles yet, but who knows?

      Oddly enough, it seems like the right wing is upset about this, maybe even more than the left. I suspect that would change if Obama were not president...

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:56:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We'll do something about guns in America when (5+ / 0-)

    we all get together and demand that our Congress act, which of course will require having them break the grip the NRA has on them.  It won't happen unless we scream, shout and demand change.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:33:35 PM PST

  •  Brilliant diary. (4+ / 0-)

    Thoughtful, temperate, and cogent. Thanks for donating your time and effort to us. This had to take you a while!

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:39:48 PM PST

  •  While it's undeniable that we have a 2nd amendment (7+ / 0-)

    that, like or agree with it or not, DOES clearly confer a special right above most others to gun owners, at least from a certain reading of the 2nd amendment that whether or not it's the right one or one you agree with or like, has been the one traditionally upheld by the courts, I've personally never understood the need for it, both when adopted in 1791 or so, and now.

    It never made sense to me why it needed to be put in the bill of rights, since I saw it as an implicit right like most others, like the right to practice law or own a home or dance on festive occasions (or anytime, really). Or, to be less silly, like the right to own a kitchen knife, hammer or wood saw, all of which were just as essential to late 18th century life as guns, and arguably just as potentially dangerous. Yet they didn't get their own amendment.

    I mean, what's the big deal with protecting gun rights? Was there some mass movement to take away or ban guns in the late 18th century? Was the memory of Lexington and Concord, when the British tried to take away the rebels' guns, the impetus for it (which would seem weird to me since the rebels won)? Was their growing public sentiment against guns? I think not.

    And now, finally, I get it. Slaveowners wanted to protect their ability to put down slave revolts (making it kind of funny that some NRA types are defending the unconditional right to own a gun by saying that if slaves had guns they wouldn't have been slaves, or something), or maybe defend themselves (or their ability to own slaves) should northern states or the federal government try to end slavery (something they had some reason to fear because even back then there was a vocal anti-slavery movement, led by people like Adams, Hamilton and Franklin). But it was NOT about any individual right to own firearms, which like I said was a (longstanding common law) right like any other, subject to restriction only by valid and demonstrable public interest reasons (to be upheld or struck down by the courts).

    So a proper and compelling historical (i.e. strict constructionist original intent) 2nd amendment-based argument against gun control simply cannot be made, and any attempt at such is either ignorant or dishonest.

    Meaning that, constitutional law aside (and it's not nothing, of course), from an historical and thus reality-based perspective, people who are against gun control are effectively for slavery. I mean, obviously they're not (well, most, I'm sure). But they're employing an amendment pushed by slaveowners to defend their gun rights. And that doesn't sit well with me.

    That being said, I believe that even were there no 2nd amendment, gun owners would still have the right to own certain guns under certain conditions, and if the government wanted to curtail that right, it would have to have, and present, good reasons, that the courts would have to uphold. But those rights wouldn't be absolute, or nearly so, as some gun advocates seem to believe they are. It would end up being like any other right, between individual rights and the public good. Which is how I think we should view and treat this issue, even though there is, unfortunately, a 2nd amendment, with a significant body of court rulings behind it. I.e. as a debate between individual rights and the public good. No different from owning a car or playing music in public.

    For the record, though, I do NOT support a ban on public dancing or hammers.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 02:53:26 PM PST

  •  How many more must we sacrifice at the altar of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, RUNDOWN

    the Second Amendment Cult before we take our Government back from the NRA and do something to reduced the 100k + people that are shot every year? (don't worry,as "only" 30k + die from GSWs!)

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:19:36 PM PST

  •  Whew! Quite a long read. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, LeoQ, FiredUpInCA

    But very, very good read. : ) Even though thought it as long, I just could not tear myself away, read all the way through in one sitting. Very informative, very well written, very comprehensive. Great job writing this and thanks a lot for doing so! I think this is great for dialogue, so thorough, going to go back and read this whenever I need information or perspective on debating this issue.

    As long as we have love, we will always triumph over hate, for love is the most powerful force in the universe. There is nothing greater.

    by Crazy Moderate on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:33:59 PM PST

    •  Should have read: (0+ / 0-)

      "Even though it was long", sleep deprivation kicking in... should proofread when I am this tired.

      As long as we have love, we will always triumph over hate, for love is the most powerful force in the universe. There is nothing greater.

      by Crazy Moderate on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:40:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  but 95% of talk radio listeners don't want hartman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    - they want limbaugh - that's the free market idiot's excuse for the subsidized and protected monopoly

    imagine if 50% or even 30% of talk radio in the country was progressive.

    instead, our major universities endorse the RW blowhard stations

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:56:59 PM PST

    •  Limbaugh is heavily subsidized (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      certainot, Cartoon Messiah, a2nite

      And the reason he's on so many radio stations is because of the heavy consolidation of station ownership. Plus his views are what the people who own those stations want heard.

      There have been a lot of reports here at Kos that his audience share is dropping though, and a number of sponsors have jumped ship.

      I make a point of listening to him when I can, and Hannity too, mainly to find out what's twisting right wing knickers at the moment. It's a quick way to learn what the Right Wing Echo Machine is pushing as the message of the moment.

      Their shows are highly structured; they're very careful who actually gets to call in, and very careful to limit discussion to the right wing fantasy world they're creating.

      Perhaps it's my imagination, but lately they seem to be flailing. When they get into a rant, every other sentence seems to contradict the one that came before - but an audience of angry and frightened people isn't going to pick up on that.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 04:35:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep, they're having some difficulty for the first (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar, Cartoon Messiah, a2nite

        time in 25 years. the boycott is hurting and so is the long overdue attention which hurts them merely because the people they've been attacking all those years are paying a little more attention and they're losing their complete control over who hears their lies and threats.

        i hope it  grows until they can't get a single university to broadcast sports on their stations.

        and i agree that listening to them once in a while is a good way to find out what the GOP/1% is doing- that's where they do the groundwork repetition. and  i think they use a lot of paid callers.

        among other things limbaugh seems to be caring less and less about his sarcasm- he used to spell it out or use it much more recognizably so his audience could get it right- seems like he doesn't care anymore- and his core audience is not one that understands a lot of sarcasm.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:12:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow is this long. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I got to the Hartmann Oversimplification, then took apeek ahead. I'm glad I did.

  •  Diary of the year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Cartoon Messiah, FiredUpInCA

    One of the best analyses I've seen anywhere.

    "Fear is the mind killer", indeed. That suggests a political strategy of easing fear. This should happen to all sides. It should be part of drafting legislation: fearful gun people will be scanning the text for possible traps, so why not avoid putting them in?

    That list you gave, including safety, competence, and responsibility? For its first 100 years the NRA would have been totally behind that.

    Maybe combine safety for all parties into one piece of legislation? Trade new regulations for new measures that reduce hassles for low-risk gun users? Things like the "safe passage" provision in FOPA, or an ombudsman for ATF misconduct?

  •  Rural white America vs the world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, a2nite

    It's not rocket science. Old white people cling to their guns and religion because they're scared.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:40:32 PM PST

    •  As do old white billionaires... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      with their money, their think tanks, and their tame politicians.

      Of the two, the ones with the money seem to be doing more damage.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:48:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agree with most, disagree with... (7+ / 0-)

    ...a little bit of what you've written, not the facts, which I think you lay out extremely well, but rather small pieces here and there of your commentary. Nonetheless, a good diary without histrionics (which we've had way too much of). Tip'd and Rec'd.

    So treat this as the mere nitpick that it is:

    You write that the Stand Your Ground laws are "rather like the Bush Doctrine applied to individuals." No. The Bush Doctrine prescribes preventive war. That is not the same as a pre-emptive war, which means striking when another nation presents an imminent threat. Pre-emptive war is a concept every nation recognizes as a right. If your enemy is readying an attack on your nation, you can strike first to prevent that attack.

    But preventive war is attacking another nation that, maybe, someday in the future, if it gets its act together and other factors come into sync, may decide to attack. This is what only dictators and megalomaniacs describe as just; the U.N. views these as wars of aggression, utterly unjustified and one of the reason the U.N was established to prevent.

    Stand Your Ground law do NOT tell individuals they can preventively go shoot a neighbor because they think s/he may come gunning for them next month or next year.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:59:49 PM PST

    •  That's why I used "rather like" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A lot of these stand your ground shootings don't hold up to well to scrutiny after the fact - and neither does the Bush Doctrine.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:34:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As there are no Militias and militia (0+ / 0-)

    members left, I would suggest that subsequent gun owners should be held to infringed and regulated conditions, dependent upon the century they live in.

    Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as shall never be put out.

    by Bollox Ref on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:21:30 PM PST

  •  You've got your eyes clearly on the prize (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, a2nite

    for defusing gun violence in this country. Thanks.

    Do you think these specific measures would also help abate the massive exportation of guns to Mexico? This topic seldom appears in discussions of U.S. gun policy and yet we have so much responsibility for their godawful surge in violent crime.

  •  xaxnar, you mention the schools (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, a2nite, RoCali

    thing is, I  can remember back when hunter safety was taught in school.  It was back in the "good ol' days" before the NRA was a complete loony tune driven organization.

    I'm a gun owner and I'm willing to take training, get a license, and get insurance if that is what it takes to keep it.  I think anybody ought to actually understand any dangerous tool they undertake to use.  I also believe that a gun is the single most dangerous tool anybody can handle.

    Also agreed that jimmy joe out there does not need a bunch of AR-15s or whatever, but whatever assault weapons ban ever comes about needs to deal with more than cosmetics.

  •  All Amendments stand on equal footing; they (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, RoCali, fuzzyguy

    are not listed in decreasing order of "really meaning it".

    “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

    by jeff in nyc on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:14:40 PM PST

    •  ...until we decide to repeal them. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      ego sum ergo ego eram

      by glb3 on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 08:41:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Then why ignore the actual meaning of the Second? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The pro gun people simply have to write off most of the amendment as having no import and then write in some words they like better.

      Not only does the entire first clause get declared non-operative, but it's just presumed that "own" is in there, as in a "right to own guns".

      Then you get crap like the SCt decision in Heller, which found a right to self defense in the home with a gun, even though there's nothing in there about homes OR self defense, even though that right is limited by reasonable regulations to keep guns out of the hands of the insane or criminal, and that too isn't in there.

      That's not even "gun control". It's more like "massacre control".

      by Inland on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:07:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The historical overlap between racism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, a2nite, Progressif

    and gun ownership is too strong to deny. Even today, gun ownership is a prerequisite for white supremecist groups and anti-government groups. Its the legacy of slavery in America.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:33:19 PM PST

  •  I would disagree witht he slavery argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or at least the centrality of that.

    I wrote a few posts a couple of days ago on the history of the can read the thread here, if you're interested:

    Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times (1936).

    by dizzydean on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:41:28 PM PST

    •  BTW, outstanding diary n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, a2nite

      Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times (1936).

      by dizzydean on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:41:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, the militia idea did not come out of a vacuum (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I can see why states would be concerned about a standing army that could be used against them. And there would doubtless be arguments about who would pay for it and where it would be used - look at the trouble Washington had getting pay and supplies for the Continental Army during the Revolution.

      But I'm not sure you can so easily dismiss the slavery aspect of needing a militia. The documents Hartmann cites show it was clearly on the minds of Madison, Mason, Henry, and Clay. It might also be a factor in why the southern colonies did not field an army to fight the British - they simply couldn't afford to divert forces away from keeping slaves under control, especially when the British would have been inciting uprisings if they had.

      This information from the National Park Service appears to show that was clearly the case.

      The British governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, quickly saw the vulnerability of the South's slaveholders. In November 1775, he issued a proclamation promising freedom to any slave of a rebel who could make it to the British lines. Dunmore organized an "Ethiopian" brigade of about 300 African Americans, who saw action at the Battle of Great Bridge (December 9, 1775). Dunmore and the British were soon expelled from Virginia, but the prospect of armed former slaves fighting alongside the British must have struck fear into plantation masters across the South.
      I'd suspect that experience was clearly in the minds of the Virginians and the other slave holding states when they were thrashing out the Bill of Rights.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:42:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a complicated issue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It is documented that suppression of a slave revolt was on the minds of many people while the constitution was drafted, but the argument that this was the primary motivation for the 2nd ammendment and the existence of militias in states is a caricature of reality. The fact that this gross simplification is so often and vigorously presented on these forums upsets many people. The truth, as always, is somewhere in between. I would also like to address another misconception that I have seen on these discussions: that the Southern colonies did not send troops to fight the British during the revolution or did not field a significant army. That is completely untrue. Study the Southern campaigns of the Revolution, especially the battles and sieges around Savannah and most especially Charleston and you will see how wrong this view is. Just because the major Southern army was destroyed at Charleston doesn't mean that it didn't exist or didn't fight.

        •  Ture enough, to a point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But I think we can agree to disagree on this.

          It's tempting to diminish the importance of the "original sin" of slavery and how it shaped and still shapes our nation, but I think we can not do so in this case. Given who insisted on the Second Amendment and the way it was phrased, given the documentation of their reasoning, it seems clear to me that we can not disregard slavery as an important factor in the crafting of the Second Amendment. I have yet to see alternative explanations that explain the deliberate wording of the amendment adequately without considering the issue of slavery.

          As for the contributions of the South to the Revolution, they should not be neglected or disregarded, but they should not be made more than they are either. The southern colonies it should be noted were operating under handicaps of a largely agrarian economy, climate, and disease. Which, not surprisingly, would also prove to be important factors not quite 100 years later.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:44:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The role of slavery should never be disregarded. It was a factor to be sure. Unfortunately, many people here have taken an extremely reductivist view that slavery was the primary motivating force for colonial militias and the second amendment. That is not a viable argument.

            I also agree that the contributions of the Southern colonies to the Revolution should not be exaggerated, but in practice I don't think I have ever seen that happen. It is quite common however to see their contributions ignored or denied.

    •  You can't dismiss slave and frontier states (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat, xaxnar, dizzydean

      having a particular need for militias that other states did not have, and fearing a federal restriction that bypassed state militia laws to restrict arms brought about by Massachusetts and New York would disproportionately pressure places like South Carolina, where there were already majority black counties, or Virginia, which was hoping to expand westward.

      The argument that all states has militias or used militias simply doesn't recognize the centrality of the militia to state power.

      Once the second is recognized for what it of the power of states over armed realize that the idea of the feds guaranteeing the right of armed individuals to attack the state turns the entire amendment on its head.

      That's not even "gun control". It's more like "massacre control".

      by Inland on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 09:03:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hi Inland, don't know if you'll see this (0+ / 0-)

        but I think what you are missing is the issue that all states did have militias and that the Framers representing all states were concerned about the standing army issue.  They envisaged a country where there was no standing army, except in times of war--that's very clear from the Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention debates.  

        I won't disagree that the Southern militias were used for anti-slave operations or that the Southerners pushed for the 2nd Amendment more than others, but the overall history of the militia and the concern over standing armies is much more central to the 2nd A.

        Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times (1936).

        by dizzydean on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:04:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Of all the gun-related diaries in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, a2nite

    ... the past few days, this is the only one I've recommended. Thank you for your level-headed analysis.

    And they’'ll drink 'til their eyes are red with hate for those of a different kind. -Richard Thompson

    by lazybum on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 09:15:09 PM PST

  •  Wow. Impressive. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, sawgrass727

    I confess I could not get to the end, but I have bookmarked it  added it to my Omnifocus in-basket.

  •  Wow! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Great diary.  I wish I could marshal facts that way.

  •  Thanks for an excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The problem is breaking the fear barrier long enough for folks to read something like your diary and have a rational conversation. Right now the "they are coming for your guns" rhetoric seems so over the top it's impossible to communicate.

    I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

    by hulibow on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 03:42:59 AM PST

  •  Excellent Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But I'm afraid I voted:

    (When) The body count gets high enough.
    Because that is what I believe given the polarization, political/moral inertia and short attention span of the public (that the NRA is expert at exploiting).

    Sadly, I think the reality of what happens to human flesh when  it blocks the path of a bullet is so remote for most people that as the political process drags on, they will go back to sleep.

    I really hope to be proven wrong.

    But actually, you can see it here already; gun diary fatigue has set in to the extent it now seems obligatory to open such diaries with a Meta disclaimer.

    That said, I appreciated your effort to keep the discussion going and open, it's important.

    Persistance, folks, persistence.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 05:07:50 AM PST

  •  What a great, well thought-out diary! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this.  I am a gun owner and am for reasonable restrictions to gun ownership.  I am currently arguing with my children - who I would normally consider fairly progressive - over this issue.  Your thoughtful point may help me see the error of their ways.

    -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

    What is the sound of one hand clapping? Just listen!

    There are no luggage racks on hearses.

    by 84thProblem on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 12:51:51 AM PST

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