New York legal AR-15
February 10, 2014 1:38 PM   Subscribe

New York's SAFE act sought to ban so-called "assault weapons" by making certain physical features of such guns illegal in the state. Enterprising machinists have now created a modified version of the venerable AR-15 which complies with the law. The New York State Police have declared that the gun is legal, and prototypes are being shown in gun shops all over the state.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (221 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
For all that I am in favor of some level of gun control, the political habit of banning guns based on scary-looking cosmetic features always backfires like this. I had an AK-47 semiauto knockoff post-AWB that simply replaced a few cosmetic parts and had a thumbhole stock rather than the pistol grip and it was entirely legal to sell in enormous quantities.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:42 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


Oh, I was just considering posting about this! This is actually part of a long history of banning features, along with modifications of the same - a delicate dance. I'd be curious to see if this stops people from leaving, though probably not, because short a trade-in program, most people who want one will already have an older one. It's kind of hard to ban things along "scary" lines, though, as Ghostride notes.
posted by corb at 1:43 PM on February 10


If you're going to make the law about technicalities, then people will find a way around it.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:43 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


There have been "California Legal" AR-15s since California banned them over a decade ago. You can either swap out the pistol grip stock for one that looks more like a traditional hunting rifle stock (the stock is the part behind the trigger that you hold up to your shoulder), or you can swap out the magazine release switch for one that you can't press with your finger, but rather requires a "tool" (the tool is typically the tip of a bullet) to remove the magazine. Then just don't put a magazine bigger than 10 rounds in it, and viola, CA-legal AR-15. The law really does nothing to stop people from legally owning AR-15s, all it really does is frustrate AR-15 enthusiasts.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:45 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Also in California, if you build/construct something like 25% of the gun yourself, you don't need a license. So of course there are machine shops that let you come in and create some dinky part, and voila!
posted by Brocktoon at 1:46 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I know enough about guns to kill varmits on the farm with a .22, but I'm no expert. Are there features of an assault rifle that make it more effective? Are there gun features that could usefully be banned?

Smaller magazines come to mind as a feature that doesn't impede hunting or home defense very much, but does make crime harder to commit.
posted by poe at 1:48 PM on February 10


so the rifle vs pistol grip -- from a purely "I like punching holes in paper" perspective, does it matter ?

The picture from TFA makes an ugly looking gun (since the recoil spring housing isn't in the stock), but ... as pointed out, where there's a will, there's a way to get past silly distinctions that pols come up with.
posted by k5.user at 1:50 PM on February 10


Here are some California legal ones that you can buy here. They can't actually be named "AR-15" and they have to have the CA magazine release. You can swap out the magazine release for one of the illegal, "out-of-state" ones in about a minute, and they're not in any way restricted for sale so you can just drive to Oregon or Nevada (or order one from a store there) and buy one and put it in your CA-legal rifle. This is of course a felony (manufacturing an assault weapon), but it wouldn't be difficult to do.

Expect Colt (and other AR manufacturers) to add a "NY-legal rifles" page any day now.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:51 PM on February 10


And yet there are still people who believe that regulations stifle innovation.
posted by ckape at 1:52 PM on February 10 [55 favorites]


How come they can make a wide sweeping general ban on drugs and their analogs but not weapons? (That's a rhetorical question)
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:53 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]



Also in California, if you build/construct something like 25% of the gun yourself, you don't need a license. So of course there are machine shops that let you come in and create some dinky part, and voila!


You don't need a license to build your own firearms anywhere in the US. What constitutes "building your own firearm" is sort of up to the discretion of your state department of justice. Is taking a 90% complete gun and doing the last bit to finish it "manufacturing a firearm"? Who knows? you can try it and see if you get arrested!
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:53 PM on February 10


It actually looks kind of cool.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:54 PM on February 10


Magazine capacity larger than 7 rounds isn't a "scary looking feature" - it's a tool that permits mass murder. If you can't kill the bunny with six shots before reloading, it wasn't meant to be. If you're attacked by ninjas in the night, and need 30 rounds on tap to defend your Magic the Gathering collection, I will apologize to you personally and give you a cookie, as you will be the first.

The pistol grips are more debatable. Won't lose any sleep over their absence.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:54 PM on February 10 [20 favorites]


Smaller magazines come to mind as a feature that doesn't impede hunting or home defense very much, but does make crime harder to commit.

High-capacity magazines were banned under the federal assault weapons ban (though I think existing magazines were grandfathered in? not sure). It's probably the most important part of the ban, but now that it's lapsed they're freely available.

Opponents of assault weapons bans are quick to point out that assault rifles like the AR-15 are functionally identical to hunting rifles. I tend to agree with them, which is why I find it strange that there's controversy over new regulatory laws when hunting rifles will certainly still be legal.
posted by edeezy at 1:58 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


If only these guys would put as much ingenuity into finding ways to prevent innocent children from being shot to death.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:03 PM on February 10 [22 favorites]


How come they can make a wide sweeping general ban on drugs and their analogs but not weapons? (That's a rhetorical question)

There is not an amendment to the US Constitution that says "...the right of the people to buy and consume drugs shall not be infringed."
posted by muddgirl at 2:03 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


It seems cowardly that gun owners and manufacturers break the spirit of the law in this way, protesting without facing any real consequences for doing so, while simultaneously having the firepower to dissuade any opposition from normal society. Cake and both ways etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Why is a pistol grip worse than a rifle grip?
posted by Rock Steady at 2:04 PM on February 10


Golden Eternity: "If only these guys would put as much ingenuity into finding ways to prevent innocent children from being shot to death."

But they are! More guns will be around so that parents and teachers can protect their children!
posted by Big_B at 2:04 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Why is a pistol grip worse than a rifle grip?

Because it looks like the one that the army carries.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:05 PM on February 10 [15 favorites]


Who needs gun-control enemies when gun-control advocates in the US waste everyone's time coming up with such ardent nonsense that an entire generation of Americans is mislead into thinking gun-control must be stupid and unworkable.
posted by anonymisc at 2:07 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Bullet control.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:08 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I'd assumed that pistol grips were designed to go with not shooting from the shoulder -- no idea if that's actually true, but if someone were shooting at me I'd certainly prefer it that way.
posted by mr. digits at 2:08 PM on February 10


Gun industry balks at California's new micro-stamping law: "No semiautomatic pistol can be designed or equipped with a microscopic array of characters identifying (a gun's) make, model and serial number". That's the gun industry's innovation at work. (Spoiler: it's been demonstrated to work.)
posted by Nelson at 2:10 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


if someone were shooting at me I'd certainly prefer that

I'd prefer no civilian to be in a position to shoot me. I know I live somewhere where gun ownership isn't a Thing, but that first picture scares the bejeesus out of me. Why does anyone need something like that? I understand (but don't agree with) the concept of "I have a right to own weapons to defend my property/family", but I really don't understand "I have the right to own the biggest most fuck-off lethal weapon I can get away with".
posted by billiebee at 2:13 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


....that is a ridiculous looking weapon.

Reduction in magazine capacity is a meaningful restriction. Hitting what you're shooting at is difficult, and reloading under stress is also difficult.
I'd assumed that pistol grips were designed to go with not shooting from the shoulder -- no idea if that's actually true, but if someone were shooting at me I'd certainly prefer it that way.
This is incorrect. You can't align the sights properly unless you've got the stock on your shoulder. If someone's shooting at you, you want to actually be able to hit them when you're shooting back, which requires proper sight alignment.

I'm not actually sure what the theoretical advantages of the pistol grip vs. the rifle-style stock are? Just looking at it, the rifle grip seems difficult to hold while squeezing the trigger correctly, although I guess it's not too different from a shotgun.

Possibly the same reason pistol grips have almost entirely replaced French grips for foil and epee fencing, it's just more comfortable to hold? Especially for long periods of time, less muscle fatigue and what have you. Relevant in a 6 hour firefight in Afghanistan, less so back here in the states.
posted by kavasa at 2:14 PM on February 10


How come they can make a wide sweeping general ban on drugs and their analogs but not weapons?

What I want to know is what makes guns of all types different from any other weapon? Nobody challenges bans on switchblades or nunchucks based on the Second Amendment. Does the word "arms" only refer to firearms?
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:14 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


Why wouldn't legislators target the firing rate as a factor in deciding which firearms were "assault weapons"? Presumably, anything that can fire above a certain rate is not meant to be a simple rifle.

Granted, this would require firing of the guns to verify their legal/illegal status, but it would prevent silly mechanical workarounds like this.
posted by notpace at 2:17 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


>If only these guys would put as much ingenuity into finding ways to prevent innocent children from being shot to death.

This guy did. No market for it here though.
posted by pompomtom at 2:18 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Why wouldn't legislators target the firing rate as a factor in deciding which firearms were "assault weapons"? Presumably, anything that can fire above a certain rate is not meant to be a simple rifle.

Machine guns are all but illegal in the US anyway, you can only get existing fully-auto weapons manufactured before a certain date and they require special licenses, etc. All semi-automatic rifles, including AR-15s and many hunting rifles, semi-auto pistols, revolvers, and semi-auto and double-barrel shotguns have exactly the same firing rate, which is "as quickly as you can repeatedly pull the trigger".
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:20 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Because it looks like the one that the army carries.

But before the Army started carrying that one, they were carrying one that looked a lot like this, except bigger. You can still buy the one in the link legally, and it fires the same bullet as an AR-15, semi-automatically, and you can get high-capacity clips for it. It has never been banned in any assault-weapon ban.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:21 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Possibly the same reason pistol grips have almost entirely replaced French grips for foil and epee fencing, it's just more comfortable to hold?

In my experience, guns with pistol grips far more comfortable and are easier to be accurate with - It's much easier to hold the gun into the shoulder and get a good sight down the barrel - but that might be an artifact of my own bad habits and what have you.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:22 PM on February 10


In fact, the one in my link is named after the battle rifle that preceded the M-16.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:22 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I guess this will help identify the next potential school shooter: he's the goth with bad RSI in his wrist.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:27 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


But before the Army started carrying that one, they were carrying one that looked a lot like this, except bigger. You can still buy the one in the link legally, and it fires the same bullet as an AR-15, semi-automatically, and you can get high-capacity clips for it. It has never been banned in any assault-weapon ban.

You can also still buy semi-auto M14s and they have never been targeted by assault weapons bans either. No pistol grip, not an "assault weapon".
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:30 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is what makes guns of all types different from any other weapon? Nobody challenges bans on switchblades or nunchucks based on the Second Amendment. Does the word "arms" only refer to firearms?

Knives and the Second Amendment.

Short answer; nothing, and no (according to the authors).

IMO, because knives are so much less dangerous (and also have many more non-killing uses) than guns, there is much less regulation, and less cause for challenge. Also, there aren't 'knife-nuts' who make carrying knives central to their personal identities.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:30 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


For a bit less of a glib example, consider the Ruger-Mini 14 which is similar to the AR-15 in that it is a semiautomatic rifle firing .223 that uses a 5 or 20 round magazine. While the Ranch Rifle model is entirely legal in NY as near as I can tell, the Tactical version is not because it has a flash hider and 20 round magazine. (At least that's what I can tell from a cursory glance at the law in question).

A flash hider merely channels the fire coming out of your barrel so it's slightly harder to pinpoint where you are when you're firing at night. It's basically trying to ban Honda Civics by outlawing those obnoxious fart can exhausts and being gobsmacked when people keep tooling around in Civics.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:30 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


> assault rifles like the AR-15 are functionally identical to hunting rifles

Right, so ban semi-automatic hunting rifles too.

Australia seems to have done a much better job categorizing firearms than any of the US fed or state assault weapons bans.

If you want to hunt, you get a rimfire, not semi-automatic rifle or not semi-auto & not pump-action shotgun. Want something more? You must justify it.

I favor banning handguns and legalizing sawed-off shotguns for those who insist on home defense. Give 'em something that will actually work.
posted by morganw at 2:34 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Very brief intro to assault rifles vs. other classes of guns follows.
Assault rifles are very good at killing lots of people quickly because they bring together some important characteristics:
they are mid-size weapons--they have a barrel long enough to develop high power and accuracy, but the weapons are short and light enough to be easy to carry and maneuver;
they have mid-sized cartridges, big enough to kill a person pretty reliably, but small enough to be light (carrying a lot of bullets gets heavy fast) and have low recoil;
they have (if not affected by gun laws) mid-sized magazines, i.e. 30 rounds, which is enough to kill a lot of people, but still (in conjunction with the smallish cartridges) fairly light;
their magazines are detachable, which brings the total number of bullets fired per time up quite a bit;
they have a high rate-of-fire, being semi-auto or select-fire (meaning you can pick semi-auto, burst, or full-auto).

All of these versatile characteristics make assault rifles easy to use to quickly and lethally shoot many people. A heavy machine gun can shoot more people faster, but you have to get the victims all in front of your prepared position. A sniper rifle kills one person very, very dead, but the other people run away while you prepare for your second shot. A sub-machine gun or pistol can be maneuvered even more easily, but is less accurate and its individual shots are less lethal (also the public perceives it more negatively).

If you want to make people's assault rifles less good at killing lots of people quickly, you have to address factors like the ones I named above. You could, theoretically, make them bigger and heavier, place limitations on the types of cartridges allowed for sale, reduce magazine size, disallow removable magazines, or restrict rate-of-fire.

In practice I suspect that the magazine size and removability are the easiest to address, though I would be intrigued by a minimum length and weight placed on weapons.

I think pistol grips fit into the size-and-weight category, as they make it easier to acquire targets rapidly. I think a traditional rifle grip is great for laying prone, shooting for accuracy, but pistol grips allow for faster and easier aiming in other positions. Because they are part of that general size-and-maneuverability function, I think they are a bad choice for regulation, because people will just find other ways to make the gun light and easy to handle. But just imagine if rifles had a minimum length of 6 feet! Brown Bess was good enough for Davy Crockett, are you man enough to handle a real gun?
posted by agentofselection at 2:35 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I favor banning handguns and legalizing sawed-off shotguns for those who insist on home defense. Give 'em something that will actually work.

So much this. What do I get to protect me from a neighbor protecting their home with a rifle that shoots through drywall and siding like butter? "Home defense = I should have a big fuck-off rifle" has always seemed to me a terrible argument. If you must have a firearm for home defense, a shotgun is the tool for that particular job.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:36 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Kirth Gerson, I don't know if this is why you chose to mention the Mini-14, but this was the weapon that Anders Behring Breivik used to kill most of his victims. Also, he acquired the 30 round magazines he used from the United States.

The Mini-14 is popular in Canada as a gun to modify with aftermarket "tactical" parts because it's not a restricted firearm like the AR-15.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:41 PM on February 10


Actually 5.565 has less penetration than 9x19 (typical pistol ammo) with the correct loads. Counter-intuitive, but tested. http://www.tactical-life.com/exclusives/9mm-vs-223/2/
posted by wuwei at 2:41 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Pistol grips are designed for a quickly acquiring new targets, and for a more secure grip while shooting on the move. Neither is particularly useful for hunting, but some marksmen legitimately prefer a pistol grip, and it's not the same magnitude of a problem high cap mags are.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:45 PM on February 10


Also, there aren't 'knife-nuts' who make carrying knives central to their personal identities.

I wish you were correct: "everyday carry".

Mind you, knife nuts tend to kill less children than gun nuts, so they've got that going for them.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:45 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


IMO, because knives are so much less dangerous (and also have many more non-killing uses) than guns, there is much less regulation, and less cause for challenge. Also, there aren't 'knife-nuts' who make carrying knives central to their personal identities.

Knife nuts like this do exist, but are simply fewer in number, and as such, don't have as deep pockets.

Switchblades are an interesting analogy to the NY/CA legal AR-15. Stringent regulation of switchblades at both federal and state level created a huge market for pocketknives that are functionally identical to the switchblade, but don't run afoul any federal or state legal definitions. They can be had in all sizes and shapes from inexpensive Walmart models to very high end boutique models. There are still a group of people who collect "proper" switchblades, but the switchblade itself is sort of legally irrelevant these days.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:48 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Actually 5.565 has less penetration than 9x19 (typical pistol ammo) with the correct loads.
The article you links to actually argues for higher "lethality" from the 5.56, because of its lower penetration in that test. I think that as contentious as the whole "stopping power" argument is in gun circles, we can at least agree that it is difficult to quantify bullet lethality with any one variable, but that in most cases, rifles are considered to be more lethal than pistols, yes? It's true, though, that the 5.56 is kind of the baby of the assault-rifle-cartridge family.
posted by agentofselection at 2:49 PM on February 10


Oh, oops, I think wuwei was talking about home defense and over-penetration and not about lethality. Please ignore me!
posted by agentofselection at 2:51 PM on February 10


Knife nuts like this do exist, but are simply fewer in number, and as such, don't have as deep pockets.

Actually, from what I've seen, knife nuts do tend to have deep pockets. That's actually a significant reason why I won't consider women's pants anymore...

... ba dum ching.
posted by sparktinker at 2:54 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


What do I get to protect me from a neighbor protecting their home with a rifle that shoots through drywall and siding like butter? "Home defense = I should have a big fuck-off rifle" has always seemed to me a terrible argument. If you must have a firearm for home defense, a shotgun is the tool for that particular job.
I tried googling for the videos of the tests the LA county sheriff's office did in the 70s and couldn't find them, but ... this isn't really a great solution to that problem. 5.56mm is actually a very small round and drywall stops it pretty quickly. Slugs and buckshot from a shotgun will punch through many more walls than a 5.56mm round will.

9mm pistol ammo generally stopped faster than anything other than .22, iirc.
posted by kavasa at 2:56 PM on February 10


I wish you were correct: "everyday carry".

I really don't think that the EDC crowd, enthusiastic though they may be, are comparable to the NRA members and their level of political engagement (ie lobbying) and regulatory capture. I also think that EDC is about more than just knives. But I take your point.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:57 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


High-capacity magazines were banned under the federal assault weapons ban (though I think existing magazines were grandfathered in? not sure). It's probably the most important part of the ban, but now that it's lapsed they're freely available.

They were always freely available, pre-ban magazines were legal and every manufacturer that could was cranking them out until the very last moment. The price went up a bit but there was always supply. Another work-around was companies like Glock trading LEOs new guns with high capacity mags for their old ones even up and then legally reselling the used LE high capacity pistols to civilians.
posted by MikeMc at 3:00 PM on February 10


5.56mm is actually a very small round and drywall stops it pretty quickly.

Box O' Truth 1: 9mm and 5.56 both clear 12 sheets of drywall. 9mm clears 8 sheets of plywood, 5.56 clears 12 sheets of plywood.

Slugs and buckshot from a shotgun will punch through many more walls than a 5.56mm round will.

Box O' Truth 3: 12 gauge w/ 00 buck gets fully though 7 sheets of drywall, one pellet makes it to 9. The slug clears all 12 sheets, the waterjug, and the backstop.

Rifles are rifles, pistols are pistols.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:03 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Slugs and buckshot from a shotgun will punch through many more walls than a 5.56mm round will.

Slugs and buckshot are both overkill, though. In the distances typically found in a house, birdshot is more effective and more easily stopped by walls.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:04 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


If you guys are interested in some real world penetration tests check out the classic internet favorite Box o' Truth.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 3:05 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I wish you were correct: "everyday carry".

You don't have to be a knife nut to have an everyday carry. I have a french folding pocket knife (not at that price though, blimey) that I keep on me because I got fed up of blunting keys and breaking finger nails trying to open boxes and stuff (God, I hate plastic clamshell packaging). It's a 2.5 inch edge and non-locking, so is legal to carry without any specific reason in the UK. It's about as dangerous as a swiss army knife, but lighter and less bulky, and well, fits in my pocket.

It's not exactly an AR15 with a half-pistol grip and an aftermarket 30 round magazine.

Allow people to own sawn-off shotguns, bolt action rifles, and revolvers. Plenty there for home defence and hunting.

Ban semi-automatic weapons, or at least those in larger calibres. Ban weapons with detachable magazines. It's not rocket science, and many other countries have managed it. Australia is an excellent example, and has seen gun crime plummet (and it's not been replaced by other weapon crime).

American society has a love affair with the gun. The mass accidental deaths, high rate of suicides, and regular mass shootings are the result.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:06 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


I don't know if this is why you chose to mention the Mini-14, but this was the weapon that Anders Behring Breivik used to kill most of his victims.

No, I didn't know that. It has always struck me as odd that legislators keep trying to ban appearance features instead of functional ones. The Mini-14 is a deliberate imitation of the US Battle Rifle of the 50s and early 60s, and fires the current battle round (you can also get a .30-cal version), but legislators keep going off on largely irrelevant stuff like bayonet lugs and pistol grips. The characteristics they should be looking at are: how many bullets can a shooter fire quickly, and what damage will those bullets do?

As for having to shoulder a weapon to kill, in Basic Training in 1967, they briefly introduced us to what they called Quick Kill, which was shooting from the hip, with an M-14. As I recall, they didn't have us practice it, probably because they didn't want a lot of those big, high-energy bullets flying around unaimed, but it was a thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:11 PM on February 10


Slugs and buckshot are both overkill, though. In the distances typically found in a house, birdshot is more effective and more easily stopped by walls.

I've lived places where a home intruder is more likely to be a bear than a person. I've done plenty of camping in bear country. In those circumstances, I certainly wouldn't want anything less than slugs for protection.

Of course, my strategy has always been to not be the damn fool that attracts the bears to his home/camp in the first place.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:17 PM on February 10


legal to carry without any specific reason in the UK

This made me look up UK knife laws and I honestly can't tell if it would be legal to carry a rigging knife while sailing in the UK.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:19 PM on February 10


"...legislators keep going off on largely irrelevant stuff like bayonet lugs and pistol grips."

We're back to "scary looking stuff". I'd much rather have a Mini-14 than an AR-15 and if I was so inclined there are tons of aftermarket parts you can modify your Mini-14 with to make it "scarier".
posted by MikeMc at 3:19 PM on February 10


I honestly can't tell if it would be legal to carry a rigging knife while sailing in the UK.

You can carry any knife for a 'good reason'. So carrying a 9" chef's knife home from the shop with a receipt; or carrying a rigging knife while sailing, or going to or from. Carrying one in the car because you're going sailing later in the week is not. The exception is folding knives with a blade 3" or less, which you don't need a reason to carry. Having a locking mechanism stops it being counted as a folding knife.

The specific rigging knife you link would be legal for everyday carry, if it didn't lock open.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:32 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


As scary as rifles are, they don't matter. Over 70% of firearm murders in the US are committed with hanguns. (I cannot find the data on suicides for rifles vs. handguns, which could make this argument invalid if rifles are used overwhelmingly in those. After all, roughly twice as many people die from suicide than homicide by firearm in the US.) I freely support the removal of any and all restrictions on grips, magazine size, etc. if we could restrict or ban pistols. Unfortunately the US Supreme court took that tool out of our hands.

It frustrates me to see the gun control fight happen around weapons that don't really matter in terms of violence against humans. I have kind of given up on this one, figuring the NRA has won for at least a generation. Basically, I'm waiting for Scalia to die and someone with a soul to take his place.
posted by Hactar at 3:32 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


What makes an "Assault" rifle is pretty obvious to someone who does even a small amount of research:

1) Long barrel. As in: longer than a handgun. You know, a rifle.

2) Semi-automatic. That is, it contains a gas return tube (and, in the case of the AR, a piston) that ejects the spent casing so one can fire as quickly as possible.

3) The ammunition. 5.56mm? 7.62mm? Combined with a long, rifled barrel and a shooter squeezing at-will, these sorts of bullet sizes are only for killing en masse.

If the gun fits those points, why would we allow civilians to have them? They make shitty home defense weapons (if you even entertain the argument) since they would go through walls. Only thing I can figure is American culture fetishizes the AK and AR.
posted by basicchannel at 3:33 PM on February 10


Ban semi-automatic weapons, or at least those in larger calibres. Ban weapons with detachable magazines. It's not rocket science, and many other countries have managed it.

I really don't know how you could put that genie back in the bottle. There are millions of semi-auto weapons in circulation and even if you banned them, well, there would still be millions of them in circulation. It's not like the government can search every property in America and confiscate them. Not to mention the billions of rounds of ammo out there (and reloading equipment for those that like to "roll their own").
posted by MikeMc at 3:33 PM on February 10


1) Long barrel. As in: longer than a handgun. You know, a rifle.

2) Semi-automatic. That is, it contains a gas return tube (and, in the case of the AR, a piston) that ejects the spent casing so one can fire as quickly as possible.

3) The ammunition. 5.56mm? 7.62mm? Combined with a long, rifled barrel and a shooter squeezing at-will, these sorts of bullet sizes are only for killing en masse.


Make that the definition of "assault rifle", ban them, and watch a hundred models of AR come out chambered in .223 remington (or .243 win, or a million other ones, or some new one that's functionally identical to 5.56 NATO with just enough difference not to count).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:41 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Why does anyone need something like that?

Nobody in the civilian population does. On the other hand, they're really not something to be particularly afraid of even in the US. Homicides committed with *all* rifles, taken together, are only ~4% of American firearm homicides. As firearms go, rifles (including assault weapons) are, as an empirical matter, relatively harmless -- far more the domain of (possibly embarrassingly enthusiastic) hobbyists than criminals or people intent on harm.

What you should be afraid of in the US are pistols. Those kill ~75% of firearm victims (the rest are shotguns and "not specified"), and they're the only type of firearm that's easily concealeable.

I understand (but don't agree with) the concept of "I have a right to own weapons to defend my property/family", but I really don't understand "I have the right to own the biggest most fuck-off lethal weapon I can get away with".

So, first, it isn't remotely that. In most states anyway you can legally buy rifles that shoot the same rounds as a .50 caliber machine gun, whose only "practical" purpose is shooting at targets half a mile away or doing very, very bad things to watermelons nearer the shooter. Nobody needs them, but they are (in most states) fully legal. On the other hand, the number of crimes committed using .50BMG ammunition in the US is (AFAICT) exactly zero, so they're not really something to be afraid of.

Second, surely it's not really that hard to understand. Taking it as read that some class of thing is legal, some people are going to want what they think is the most bad-ass thing of its type, because lots of people get off on owning bad-ass things that they have no real need for. The desire is ultimately not any different than ordering a car with a bigger engine as if 150hp wasn't already overpowered, or buying a fuck-you powerful BlendTec blender instead of a normal one. And of course a lot of the amateur people are going to mistake something that's bad-ass looking for something that's actually highly functional.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:41 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


The pistol grip, at least on the AR-15, is there because the recoil buffer requires that the stock go straight back from behind the bolt carrier assembly. Traditionally-designed rifles, including modern battle rifles like the M-14, wouldn't permit the AR-style recoil buffer, since there's nothing directly aft of the bolt for the recoil buffer to retract into. So the AR must have a pistol grip, as a consequence of the buffer, at least if you want to avoid goofy shit like the design in question.*

Granted, the AR/Stoner design was not the first battle rifle to feature a pistol grip. I think that distinction goes to the StG 44. But it was originally designed that way so the stock could fold against the receiver, not because it makes it easier to use. The Mini-14 is similar: before Ruger voluntarily stopped making them, the Mini-14 had an optional factory-supplied "paratrooper"-style side-folding stock which necessitated a pistol grip. (As did its likely inspiration, the M1 Carbine.) But normally they have a traditional stock; the pistol grip is a variation rather than the default.

On a fixed-stock weapon, absent some design criteria like the AR's recoil buffer, I'm not sure that a pistol grip offers any real advantage. The traditional stock may in fact be easier to "point shoot", since it puts both hands basically on or near the axis of the barrel — probably one reason why there aren't a lot of pistol-grip skeet/trap guns. Supposed advantages like faster second-shot performance or better full-auto control are more easily provided with muzzle brakes. It certainly doesn't make it any more "dangerous".

* Of course, this begs the question of whether the buffer is necessary. I'd argue that 50 years of experience has now shown that it isn't, and further that the only reason the buffer exists in the AR-15 is because it was a rushed modification to a 7.62mm design, where it might have actually been useful. It's notable that the AR-18, which fixes most of the defects of the AR-15 design, doesn't feature one, and could be easily adopted to traditional stocks in the same way the Mini-14 has been.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:42 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


MikeMC: I'm not sure why the existence of some assault weapons is an argument in favor of the continued production and sale of more assault weapons. No one is claiming that banning their sale will stop all gun crime, just that it could lead to fewer opportunities for gun crime in the future than would result if we keep selling them.
posted by agentofselection at 3:42 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


what makes an "Assault" rifle is pretty obvious to someone who does even a small amount of research:

1) Long barrel. As in: longer than a handgun. You know, a rifle.

Well, that's every rifle (including those specifically designed for hunting), federal law defines a firearm with a barrel length of 16" or more as a rifle .

2) Semi-automatic. That is, it contains a gas return tube (and, in the case of the AR, a piston) that ejects the spent casing so one can fire as quickly as possible.

That's most rifles (including those specifically designed for hunting)

3) The ammunition. 5.56mm? 7.62mm?

What about 30-06 Springfield? That's a very common deer hunting round (also known as 7.62 x 63mm).

rifled barrel

That's every rifle (that's why it's called a "rifle")

So what actually separates an assault type rifle from from a hunting rifle? Other than magazine capacity not much at all. Most of the other differences are cosmetic, I mean come on, no one actually uses a bayonet lug. As for the flash suppressors, most of what you see are actually compensators that vent gases in such a way to try and counteract the natural rise of the barrel when a gun is fired.
posted by MikeMc at 3:47 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I really don't know how you could put that genie back in the bottle.

A mandatory gun buyback worked in Australia; a response to a massacre with an AR-15 in 1995.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:48 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


3) The ammunition. 5.56mm? 7.62mm? Combined with a long, rifled barrel and a shooter squeezing at-will, these sorts of bullet sizes are only for killing en masse.

Buh? A semiautomatic rifle shooting 7.62 is basically the definition of "deer rifle."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:49 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


A mandatory gun buyback worked in Australia; a response to a massacre with an AR-15 in 1995.

Further to that comment: Of course, that wouldn't get you (in the US) around the 2nd amendment problem.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:49 PM on February 10


What I want to know is what makes guns of all types different from any other weapon? Nobody challenges bans on switchblades or nunchucks based on the Second Amendment. Does the word "arms" only refer to firearms?

The NRA isn't fighting for gun owners, it's fighting for gun manufacturers. If there was as much money in selling slight variations and accessories for knives, they'd have been bought off by those guys too.
posted by Etrigan at 3:50 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I really don't know how you could put that genie back in the bottle.

Mass buy back amnesty, then make them illegal to own, along with owning or making ammunition for them. Yes, it will take a long time to get the most dangerous guns out of circulation. That's no reason not to try.

Handguns used to be legal in the UK. Now they're mostly not. Semi auto rifles over .22 are banned now. We have a strict licence system to even own a shotgun (mainly for farmers and clay pigeon shooting). We also have a very low rate of gun homicides - 0.04 recorded intentional homicides per 100,000. Most firearms offences are for airguns or toy guns. They have not been replaced by knife crime to any great extent.

Very few brits mourn the change.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:51 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Buh? A semiautomatic rifle shooting 7.62 is basically the definition of "deer rifle."

This is my assault rifle that my grandfather gave me.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:53 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: I seem to recall that these guys wanted to use a .50 firing armor-piercing and then incendiary rounds to blow up a massive propane storage facility in California. They never got to actually commit their crime though, so, yeah, a pretty low death rate in the US for the BMG. I have no idea if it would have worked, but if so that's a pretty scary thing to have floating around relatively unregulated.
posted by agentofselection at 3:53 PM on February 10


How come they can make a wide sweeping general ban on drugs and their analogs but not weapons? (That's a rhetorical question)

There is not an amendment to the US Constitution that says "...the right of the people to buy and consume drugs shall not be infringed."


Meh. The Second Amendment gets too much press. How about the Preamble?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
How does AR-15s for all! serve that purpose?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:55 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


A note about 7.62: There are a few popular cartridges of that diameter, some (7.62x51, 7.62x54R) are deer rifle and pre-assault rifle "battle rifle" cartridges. Another (7.62x39) is the cartridge of the most popular assault rifle ever made, the AK-47. The smaller, lighter, lower-recoil one is an assault rifle cartridge, the bigger ones are not. Let's try not to confuse that issue.
posted by agentofselection at 3:57 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


PS: So that's how H&H puts the holes in their bagels.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:57 PM on February 10


Buh? A semiautomatic rifle shooting 7.62 is basically the definition of "deer rifle."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:49 PM on February 10 [+] [!]


Lunacy. A deer rifle should force you to eject the shell yourself. When do you need to fire as quickly as possible at a deer? Cmon man.
posted by basicchannel at 4:08 PM on February 10


Please don't be an idiot and try to separate all three points. They go together.
posted by basicchannel at 4:09 PM on February 10


Why does anyone need something like that?

Are we only allowed to own things if we can prove we need them?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:13 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Please don't be an idiot and try to separate all three points. They go together.

The one I mentioned here fits all three points (technically it's chambered in .308 winchester but will fire 7.62 NATO).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:13 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Pickle: "Are we only allowed to own things if we can prove we need them?"

Not generally, no, but in the context of reasonable restrictions on firearms aimed at cutting the vast number of firearm-related deaths in the US each year, it's reasonable to ask if leaving a particular thing to unlicensed private ownership is worth the cost to society as a whole.
posted by wierdo at 4:15 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


MikeMC: I'm not sure why the existence of some assault weapons is an argument in favor of the continued production and sale of more assault weapons.

It's not some it's millions. It's a practical matter, that train left the station long ago. The last ban on these faux assault rifles* didn't do anything but generate a lot of press releases and a shit-ton of money for people holding pre-ban weapons and magazines. Until the culture changes these bans are little more than political grandstanding. *Yes I said faux, the lack of selective fire (burst or full-auto) really means these are sporting rifles dressed up to look like actual military assault rifles.
posted by MikeMc at 4:18 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


wide sweeping general ban on drugs and their analogs

This is how the pharma industry makes a lot of their money -- getting nonprofitable lines banned (see: albuterol inhalers) while introducing a slightly tweaked product that is under patent protection and vastly more expensive.

The gun industry could stand to learn some lessons here -- export the old banned rifles, everyone buys new shiny ones, profit!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:20 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I favor banning handguns and legalizing sawed-off shotguns for those who insist on home defense.

The main reason to shorten the barrel of a shotgun is to make it easier to conceal, facilitating its use in the commission of crimes. It should remain illegal, just as handguns should be illegal and are illegal in many countries.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:22 PM on February 10


Are we only allowed to own things if we can prove we need them?

Where the things in question are literal killing machines that are seriously detrimental to society? Yes, that would be the optimal state.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:23 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


The gun industry could stand to learn some lessons here -- export the old banned rifles, everyone buys new shiny ones, profit!

Oh, they've learned that lesson.
posted by Etrigan at 4:23 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Please don't be an idiot and try to separate all three points. They go together.

Even together they don't make sense. See: tylerkaraszewski's post about his grandfather's assault rifle above. Your "small amount of research" seems to have been very small indeed.
posted by MikeMc at 4:23 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


[Folks, you can choose to not have the same old gun control argument and discuss this actual topic but we get far field when people start calling each other idiots and putting their sarcastofaces on. Can we try to keep this thread useful for people?]
posted by jessamyn at 4:28 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


When do you need to fire as quickly as possible at a deer?

When it's running. Ever been deer hunting? I hunted with a bolt-action rifle, little to no chance for a second shot with those.
posted by MikeMc at 4:28 PM on February 10


Disclaimer: I don't own any firearms with a detachable magazine (of any capacity) or any rifle larger than .22 caliber. I just think these types of selective bans are missing the forest for the trees.
posted by MikeMc at 4:29 PM on February 10


Are we only allowed to own things if we can prove we need them?

I suggest trying to buy a few pounds of plutonium, anthrax spores or VX precursors if you doubt that some things can -and should- only be bought if you can prove you need them.
posted by Orb2069 at 4:50 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


There is not an amendment to the US Constitution that says "...the right of the people to buy and consume drugs shall not be infringed."

This would make a great addition.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:55 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Disclaimer: I don't own any firearms with a detachable magazine (of any capacity) or any rifle larger than .22 caliber. I just think these types of selective bans are missing the forest for the trees.

I agree with you. Banning features is largely pointless and ineffective. It's stock standard policy theatre. The government needs to be seen to be doing something, notwithstanding whether any of its initiatives will have an effect. See also the entire activities of the TSA.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:00 PM on February 10


“Also, there aren't 'knife-nuts' who make carrying knives central to their personal identities.”
Er, what?

I mean, yeah, knives don't have the reach out and touch someone capacity firearms do but there are people absolutely obsessed with knives, there's a custom knife industry for collectors, people buy those Klingon knives, you've got those idiots on the shopping network selling knives, swords, etc. The existence of Gil Hibben alone, man.

A sniper rifle kills one person very, very dead, but the other people run away while you prepare for your second shot
Whitman killed 16 people. I don't know if he could have killed more with a semi-auto rifle.

“Why is a pistol grip worse than a rifle grip?”

In legislation, pistol grips are there to help automatic fire from the hip and one handed shooting apparently.
But when I kill children I like to control recoil and be able to move the weapon from low ready (vs. high ready ) in a fast efficient manner to bear on target.
There are other reasons (mentioned above), on the M-16/AR-15s it’s more practical because of the straight comb stock. The drop at the comb and the heel are measured from an imaginary line from the bore line. (Remington 700s – some of the M40 sniper rifles, the M110, et.al. have balanced drops, longer stocks with pistol grips, but most snipers seem to prefer conventional stocks).
If you’ve got a short drop at the heel your eye aligns with your sight and transmits recoil straight through the stock to your shoulder which minimizes muzzle rise (in case you’re killing children on full auto). The M16/AR15s has a recoil buffer (tube in the stock) and the pistol grip helps with the straight comb stock in that it helps with control, but also helps keep your hand from cramping.

Which is why many bolt action target rifles have pistol grips as well. If you've been watching the Olympic biathlon I doubt many of them have been worried about "killing power."

The Marlin Model 336 for example, was a model deer rifle. Pistol grip. Lever action.
Many rifles with slim grips are faster in target acquisition. On the other hand, depending on the placement of the sling and the weapon itself, you can get less hung up in CQC with a pistol grip.

TL:DR: It depends on how the weapon is engineered.

I think the laws are written that way just because it looks scary or is associated with a given gun crime. Tec-9s were specifically banned in legislation after high profile shootings and gang association (they were cheap).
Same as in the piece here they were redesigned, rebranded, etc. and sold again.

Regardless of the ever debatable gun issue itself, we clearly need more accurate, and more realistic legislation with objective benchmarks, otherwise it's not even really a debate it's a debate about a debate about a debate...

And this question of "need" - I think we can all recognize that the goal is security and freedom from danger not the right to own one thing or another and the fact that people think they need guns for protection - whether they actually do or not - is a sign of failure.

And it's a failure that - regardless of the question of pro/anti-gun - is going to have to be addressed because whether or not firearms are legal, restricted or totally banned, if people think the need something or want something bad enough, they're going to get it.

Address that drive - not just poverty, or mental health issues - but why so many people feel retreat isn't an option or initiating firearm violence is the answer. I mean U.S. law enforcement is pretty plugged in to toting around handguns. Even unofficially. The ex-captain in Tampa shot a guy over texting and throwing popcorn?

If the goal is to reduce violence as much as possible we need a wide spectrum approach and most certainly one that addresses those motivations.
I think we have to pay a price to have some freedoms, but that doesn't mean we can't mitigate the cost. People are very serious about the topic. And some politicians certainly seem to be in earnest about it. But most of it seems to be a side show playing to the respective bases.
None of which helps either side.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:09 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Are we only allowed to own things if we can prove we need them?
I suggest trying to buy a few pounds of plutonium...


I'm not going to say I need a few pounds of plutonium, but surely you can see why I might want a few pounds of plutonium. I'm prepared to pinky-swear I do not intend to use it for purposes of world domination.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:11 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


“Also, there aren't 'knife-nuts' who make carrying knives central to their personal identities.”
Er, what?


Yes, I overreached on that. You'll see above that I moderated that statement.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:11 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


My favorite contribution to the "Why does anyone need an AR-15?" debate:

In many states it is illegal to hunt deer with an AR-15, because it's not deadly enough.

The AR-15 shoots a .223 caliber bullet, and in many states, a .24 caliber bullet is the minimum for deer.
posted by Hatashran at 5:39 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I have no idea if it would have worked, but if so that's a pretty scary thing to have floating around relatively unregulated.

Eh. In a lot of states, you can own a fully functional cannon so long as it's black powder, smoothbore, and notionally a replica of a gun employed before 1898 or so, and regulation beyond permitting or forbidding ownership seems pretty minimal. I worry about criminals using .50BMG about as much as I worry that a gang-banger is going to be towing a Parrott gun and a bunch of canister shot behind their car.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:41 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


In a lot of states, you can own a fully functional cannon so long as it's black powder, smoothbore, and notionally a replica of a gun employed before 1898 or so[...]

Some used to hunt elephant with two gauges, meaning the slug weighed eight ounces. The stock had to be wrapped in leather or would shatter from the recoil.
posted by mr. digits at 5:48 PM on February 10


Handguns used to be legal in the UK. Now they're mostly not. Semi auto rifles over .22 are banned now. We have a strict licence system to even own a shotgun (mainly for farmers and clay pigeon shooting). We also have a very low rate of gun homicides - 0.04 recorded intentional homicides per 100,000.

The UK had a much lower incidence of firearm homicides than the US even when handguns were easy to legally obtain. Back of envelope math: like one-tenth the US rate.

I just think these types of selective bans are missing the forest for the trees.

I'd support meaningful regulation of pistols, if you could somehow get that by the courts. But I've arrived at the conclusion that these feature bans are -- with the exception of magazine size -- basically culture-war legislation from the other side.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:55 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Semi-relevant, a guy I know just posted a Charlton Heston quote on Facebook: "There are no good guns. There are no bad guns. Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people."

I probably shouldn't have engaged, but I felt like I had to rebut that final statement with a link to a Google search for the phrase "child accidentally shoots".
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:03 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


wide sweeping general ban on drugs and their analogs

This is how the pharma industry makes a lot of their money -- getting nonprofitable lines banned (see: albuterol inhalers) while introducing a slightly tweaked product that is under patent protection and vastly more expensive.


I was talking about fringe psychedelic/research chemicals and how they and their analogs have been banned by wide sweeping laws so that the officials dont have to keep up with all the new variations that chemists keep inventing. Not the Big Pharma dirty business.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:17 PM on February 10


guy I know just posted a Charlton Heston quote on Facebook:

Dividing the world up into goodies and baddies is the sign of a politician or a child.
posted by pompomtom at 7:24 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Should an otherwise weird, weak, sick individual again so easily become empowered by an assault weapon and 1000 rounds of death and kill 150 elementary school kids instead of only 20 or so, I hope that'll be one more step to changing the ridiculousness that is the inane viewpoints of NRA-styled Americanism.
posted by chuckiebtoo at 7:33 PM on February 10


You don't have to be a knife nut to have an everyday carry. I have a french folding pocket knife.

Sure. I keep meaning to replace my opinel with something a bit different, but you know when you browse into a web forum and there's some George Zimmerman type talking about how he doesn't leave the house without two separate self-defense knives and a multitool and so on and you just start to cringe reading it?
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:34 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


But I've arrived at the conclusion that these feature bans are -- with the exception of magazine size -- basically culture-war legislation from the other side.

This is well-stated. I had a whole thing typed up comparing it to anti-abortion activism, with both flying in the face of supreme court rulings, but it got convoluted and I'm not a legal scholar, so deletion was the smarter path.

The gun in the photo in the article is crazy ugly, but it proves its point well, that banning cosmetic features is just silly. There is a smart approach to firearms regulation, and it's not that.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:14 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Imma try and be as nice as possible but for the various people in here who are trying to make their anti-gun statements using bad information/terminology/faith, can you study up a bit before you open your pieholes? Us folk that do own guns or know something about guns and who aren't NRA fanatics get HAMMERED when some loony looks at your writing and demands to know, "Why should I listen to this jackhole who doesn't know the difference between a pistol round or a rifle round?"

I am actively working to get people to accept stricter licensing, closing of various loopholes, and to eliminate straw purchases and while I appreciate the fervor of some of you, use your reading abilities and truly aid the cause. Please take fifteen minutes and read the wiki page on what a semi-automatic gun is and learn the terminology. Thanks.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:09 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


But when I kill children I like to control recoil and be able to move the weapon from low ready (vs. high ready ) in a fast efficient manner to bear on target.

I think this might be where your comment started to lose people.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:28 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


"Imma try and be as nice as possible but..."

Nothing that includes this statement has ipso facto been as nice as possible. Let me have a swing at 'as nice as possible' for that content:

"I'm a gun owner who believes in stricter licensing, closing of various loopholes, and the elimination of straw purchases, and I actively work toward those goals. One thing that really helps to make the case for these changes, to people who might be on the other side, is when people involved in the discussion make an effort to understand guns as well as they can, and try to use the correct terminology when they talk about guns. That's something that I've noticed in this thread-people often aren't using the correct terminology and aren't as informed about guns as they could be. It might seem silly, but in my experience it really makes a big difference in terms of getting people who might not agree with you to listen."
posted by Kwine at 12:07 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


For everybody pointing at Australia: Australia is an isolated country which is also not the largest illegal drug market in the world. If you want to lower the homicide rates in the U.S. you can start by legalizing and taxing drugs thereby removing the thing that causes drug cartels and gangs to exist.
posted by I-baLL at 12:26 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Can I offer up some outside perspectives here? I live in Norway, where the civilian population owns quite a lot of guns (a third of how many Americans own, but five times what English people own). And the types of firearms available is roughly similar. Semi-automatics are sort of banned for hunting with the exception of a number of approved rifles. Other semiautomatic rifles like AR-15s can (and are) approved for competition shooting. Handguns are only for competition shooting, but if you compete in all classes and buy all your allowed main and reserve weapons you end up with over 30 handguns in your possession, mostly semi-automatics. And our firearms homocide rate barely registers next to the US'.

Though there are some important differences in legislation: All firearms have to be licensed, and you have to document an "honourable need" (no idea what this term would be in US legalese...) to procure one. I guess the quickest way to obtain a license for someone set on getting one would be to enrol in a class to obtain a hunter's certificate. This comprises 30 hours in the classroom over 9 sessions, and a 50 question exam at the end. And self-defence is usually not a valid reason for procuring firearms. Another big difference is that there is absolutely no running around with weapons or even leaving them laying around. They have to be kept in a locked, certified safe while not in use. You can transport them back and forth to the range or to the area where you are going hunting, but they have to be secure at all times.

Do I think that these legalistic details are what keeps us (mostly) safe from our fellow man? No, I think our countries' wildly different income equality, social mobility, economic mobility and general social safety net is what provides an environment where gun crime is the exception rather than the rule. I am afraid I have no quick answers on how to improve in those areas, though.
posted by Harald74 at 12:48 AM on February 11 [17 favorites]


FBI Crime in the United States: 2007-2011

I can't tell if they are including "assault rifles" under the "rifles" category, but more people die from shotguns, blunt objects, knives, "personal weapons" (hands, fists, feet, etc., and "pushed"), and of course, handguns.
posted by gucci mane at 2:15 AM on February 11


I felt like I had to rebut that final statement with a link to a Google search for the phrase "child accidentally shoots".

If you leave off the word child, your results will include lots of hunters, lots of cops, and pretty much all other sorts of people. I doubt if "bad people" (by which I assume Heston meant criminals) would even be the majority. The goddamned things are dangerous to be around. I object to being unknowingly subjected to the presence of them because some stranger feels the need to go around armed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:40 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


(by which I assume Heston meant criminals)
and I thought wishing for a society where Americans don't feel the need to have guns was naive.
posted by fullerine at 6:57 AM on February 11


But I've arrived at the conclusion that these feature bans are -- with the exception of magazine size -- basically culture-war legislation from the other side.

Yeah. And look - for those of you who aren't fighting a culture war, and are just concerned about guns - you need to understand that when bans get created off minor features on firearms, forcing gun owners to jump through hoops in order to keep their firearms, you are making your opponents' case for them. You are making a strong case for those who just think that urban city dwellers hate their lifestyle, or have aesthetic preferences.

The concept is so well known that jokes and comics abound all over about "scary black rifles." The idea that given two functionally identical guns, the one painted black with "military-style" features is the "bad" one, while the other one is the "good" one, is just unreal. And it contributes to the idea that "liberals" just hate things that are similar to the military - or that they would like to ban all guns, but go with choosing the ones that less people have or can understand, to cynically get more guns removed from the population.
posted by corb at 7:37 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Maybe this is obvious, but the reason American gun bans target silly cosmetic features is because we can't just outright ban dangerous man-killing weapons in a sensible way. It's not a culture war, it's politicians trying to work with the NRA and around the Second Amendment.
posted by Nelson at 7:41 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


corb: "You are making a strong case for those who just think that urban city dwellers hate their lifestyle, or have aesthetic preferences."

There's some truth to this, but it's also the case that the gun lobby forces gun control proponents into taking whatever scraps are left after they've blocked more substantive reform. When you can't ban handguns in municipalities that would like to do so, can't make background checks universal, can't get stricter licensing requirements based on paranoia about registries, and can't even use public funds to study the problem of gun violence, all that's left are these half-measures that simply perpetuate the cat/mouse game.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:46 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


The goddamned things are dangerous to be around.

Especially in the hands of neoconservative vice presidents.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:51 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Well, part of the problem is that the most politically influential people in the debate don't have an interest in crafting good policy. The NRA resists any restriction and the anti-gun pols want to institute a ban through whatever means they can.

Most of the legislation passed does nothing to reduce gun violence, because it doesn't address the main mechanism of violence, illegal handguns. To do that you'd need to address the straw purchaser problem, which would require cradle to grave tracking of handguns. Basically universal background checks, a registry and regular inspections to make sure guns aren't disappearing. The ATF would have to get significantly more resources and have many of the restrictions on their oversight lifted.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 8:06 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Ham Snadwich: "Well, part of the problem is that the most politically influential people in the debate don't have an interest in crafting good policy. The NRA resists any restriction and the anti-gun pols want to institute a ban through whatever means they can. "

Were you out of the country during the time the Manchin-Toomey bill was defeated? Neither one of the named sponsors are "anti-gun" by any means, and their legislative proposal was an incremental step forward, but the gun lobby flexed its muscle and the proposal was filibustered to death.

This isn't about two sides being equally committed to maximalism, it's about one side that would gladly take any legitimate step forward, and one side that dares not take any action that would result in a bad score from the NRA. It's most certainly not "gun ban or GTFO" coming from the gun control side, as you describe it.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:18 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Yeah. And look - for those of you who aren't fighting a culture war, and are just concerned about guns - you need to understand that when bans get created off minor features on firearms, forcing gun owners to jump through hoops in order to keep their firearms, you are making your opponents' case for them. You are making a strong case for those who just think that urban city dwellers hate their lifestyle, or have aesthetic preferences.

The concept is so well known that jokes and comics abound all over about "scary black rifles." The idea that given two functionally identical guns, the one painted black with "military-style" features is the "bad" one, while the other one is the "good" one, is just unreal. And it contributes to the idea that "liberals" just hate things that are similar to the military - or that they would like to ban all guns, but go with choosing the ones that less people have or can understand, to cynically get more guns removed from the population.


I don't think it's fair to put this on "liberals" in general, so much as well-meaning but totally-missing-the-mark representatives - which both sides of the aisle have, but in general people aren't going to chuck someone out of office who otherwise aligns with their views just because they're naive about one issue, since the climate is such that, for one, guns aren't really going to be taken away in any meaningful way anyways so it's not like, constitutional crisis mode, no matter what the NRA says, and two, the realistic bar for good political reps on both sides at the moment is basically "oh god please don't fuck everything up" rather than "always be sensible" so it's hard to get worked up about some less-than-ideal stuff when typically you're just glad to have someone who isn't a complete screwup on every front.

There is really a very broad swath of opinions on guns among liberal voters, from a few "ban them all" types to a few full-on liberal gun nuts to a lot of nuance in the middle. And I think there's been a trend for a while now, which is very harmful to these kinds of discussions, where the "liberal" part of a person's political views completely invalidates anything they have to say about guns in the minds of conservatives, even if their views on guns specifically aren't actually all that far off from a lot of conservatives' views. I mean, shit, you'd better not let it be known you hold liberal views despite being a gun lover at the range if you want to keep using it. And conversely, don't let it be known that you hold a nuanced view of gun control despite being a conservative there, lest they just decide that you're a RINO liberal and as such your opinion can be dismissed.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:54 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


And "The concept is so well known that jokes and comics abound all over about "scary black rifles."" is something I've seen a lot, and it really, really bugs me that reaction #1 is always mockery of those who haven't had the opportunity to get educated about guns, rather than an attempt at sincere education. Shit, the NRA could do a countrywide ad buy today that's a PSA that simply and apolitically educates about the difference between form and function in weapons and really actually helps both sides of the gun debate, but that's not gonna happen.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:58 AM on February 11


This isn't about two sides being equally committed to maximalism, it's about one side that would gladly take any legitimate step forward, and one side that dares not take any action that would result in a bad score from the NRA.

You can make the same argument any number of issues, depending on your political leanings. A partial birth abortion ban is a legitimate step forward in abortion policy if your goal is to ban abortion.

Manchin-Toomey is the rare exception in that it some bipartisan support, but there was a lot to dislike for both sides. Although it claimed to ban a registry, it wasn't very clear about it, and it actually expanded the ability to buy and sell across state lines. It required background checks, but waived them for intra-family transfers and basically any one you know as long as you didn't advertise the sale.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 9:01 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This just makes me want to go to the range with my Oklahoma-compliant arsenal (include every last "evil" feature). We have a problem with law breakers, not with law abiders 'round these parts.

Before crapping on my hobby why not try a trip to the range? You just might like emptying a standard capacity 30 round magazine into some tannerite. Being formerly anti-gun for almost 20 years it changed my perspective for sure. Most of the opinions of anti-gunners are woefully misinformed (hence stupid legislation banning features). It is usually prudent to explore all the facts, before spouting opinion.

Worried about saving lives? You'd definitely save more lives by installing governors on cars to limit the speed to 70mph. With so many highway deaths attributed to speeding (including innocent bystanders) why does anyone except police/fire/authorities need to be able to exceed the speed limit? ORITE it's called freedom.
posted by HyperBlue at 9:18 AM on February 11


I am actively working to get people to accept stricter licensing, closing of various loopholes, and to eliminate straw purchases

It's incredibly difficult. In my experience, it only works in small steps. You can convince, basically, a four-top. But you can't have the conversation in any kind of wider forum because it explodes into a battle of extremists. So you keep having the smaller conversations and you put the information out there, and you hope it percolates.

But it can be depressing. I live in one of the two most gun-regulated states in America, and still, the regulations here are a nightmare. Nobody understands them. Ask a simple question and you'll get different answers from a gun range, your local police, the state police, and the state agency. To say nothing of the fact that "certification" requirements are a joke. I could go on but the point is, that's our current high mark nationwide. From there it goes downhill. It's sad.

guns aren't really going to be taken away in any meaningful way anyways so it's not like, constitutional crisis mode

On a national level, that's true. On a local level, it isn't necessarily. Talk to people in Chicago or New York. Or in my backyard, talk to people whose police chiefs refuse to issue licenses. It is indeed a battle of two extremes. That's what makes the conversation difficult. If the NRA were just this lone nutjob organization, it would be easy for reasonable gun owners to dismiss them. But there really is a bogeyman on the other side trying to make guns disappear, and so disgust aside, it can be hard to convince reasonable gun owners to abandon their most meaningful ally.

It's also kind of a spiral: the NRA sucks so hard that it creates anti-gun extremism. Gun-owning Average Joe wants to get rid of the NRA because not only is it blocking reasonable legislation, it's also making more people want to take his guns. But it's already made a bunch of those and they're out there working, so if he gets rid of the NRA now, then who is stopping those people from taking his guns? He doesn't donate when the NRA comes knocking, but he's also thankful it exists.
posted by cribcage at 9:19 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Ham Snadwich: "some bipartisan support, but there was a lot to dislike for both sides. "

You've just described pretty much every bill that has ever passed a 60 vote threshold in the Senate. What alternative legislative action would you propose that would have gotten a thumbs up from the NRA so that senators would have been free to vote their conscience on the merits of the bill?

Ham Snadwich: "Although it claimed to ban a registry, it wasn't very clear about it"

No, it very explicitly banned the Attorney General and all entities under his control (ATF, FBI, etc.) from creating such a registry, and had stiff penalties for creating one. The counterargument is that it didn't ban other government agencies from doing so, but in a world where CDC and the CPSC are legally prevented from studying gun violence, it's unbelievably far-fetched to think some other government agency is going to be able to create one, especially in light of the already-existing limitations on what data can be collected and how long records are kept, not to mention the political constraints that wouldn't just go away if we started actually enforcing background checks.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:23 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


HyperBlue: "You'd definitely save more lives by installing governors on cars to limit the speed to 70mph. With so many highway deaths attributed to speeding (including innocent bystanders) why does anyone except police/fire/authorities need to be able to exceed the speed limit? ORITE it's called freedom."

In 2010 there were 10,508 speeding related fatalities (pdf).

In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.

Next.
posted by Big_B at 9:45 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


And "The concept is so well known that jokes and comics abound all over about "scary black rifles."" is something I've seen a lot, and it really, really bugs me that reaction #1 is always mockery of those who haven't had the opportunity to get educated about guns, rather than an attempt at sincere education.

My initial response was to deny this, but on thoughtful reflection, I do think you're at least partially right. The real answer is that nobody wants to be educated if it's not part of a gun control debate, and once those come out, nobody wants to listen to those gun bunnies talking about details of their weapons.

I'd be happy to talk about features of firearms, but who'd listen?

In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.

If anti-gun individuals want pro-gun individuals to take their statistics seriously, they really have to stop including suicide in these statistics. Every single time we see suicide included, eyes glaze over, because that is not, to many of our eyes, an external threat or really anybody's business but the person in question. It invalidates the entire statistic - which might actually be plenty high on its own, though we'll never know.
posted by corb at 9:47 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.

If anti-gun individuals want pro-gun individuals to take their statistics seriously, they really have to stop including suicide in these statistics. Every single time we see suicide included, eyes glaze over, because that is not, to many of our eyes, an external threat or really anybody's business but the person in question. It invalidates the entire statistic - which might actually be plenty high on its own, though we'll never know.


Studies have repeatedly shown that if you take away access to a particular form of suicide, people don't automatically move on to another. Suicide should be included, because the availability of firearms makes people at the point of suicide able to carry it out in that one instant, but they likely wouldn't go find a bridge if they didn't happen to have a handgun handy.
posted by Etrigan at 9:51 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Oh right. Nevermind then. My whole point is moot. We should absolutely focus on putting speed limiters on vehicles instead of gun control.

So many goalposts swirling around me, I think I missed one and hit another.
posted by Big_B at 9:51 AM on February 11


I'd be happy to talk about features of firearms, but who'd listen?

I honestly think that - and I'm not talking about you here, just talking about the pro-gun types prone to mocking outsiders - just keeping an eye on the tone of conversations helps so that, instead of mockery when a "scary black rifles" comment comes up, that's recognized as the time for a teaching moment. There's a lot of low-level education that can be done that way that really adds up. Some people have been doing that in this thread and those comments are very helpful to the discussion as a whole.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:57 AM on February 11


What alternative legislative action would you propose that would have gotten a thumbs up from the NRA so that senators would have been free to vote their conscience on the merits of the bill?

I've already told you what I think is necessary to curb gun violence, it's not my job to make it politically feasible. Manchin-Toomey was a half measure that would've done very little to prevent the flow of illegal guns to people prohibited from possessing them.

No, it very explicitly banned the Attorney General and all entities under his control (ATF, FBI, etc.) from creating such a registry

The definition of registry is in dispute, in this case. When the Clinton DOJ was retaining, rather than destroying, NICS data, the NRA sued and lost with the reasoning being that destroyed didn't necessarily mean destroyed immediately. The Bush DOJ issued a rule requiring destruction within 24 hours, but it's just a rule, not a law. Similarly, prohibiting the AG from collecting data doesn't prohibit, say, DHS from collecting the data.

Let me be clear, I think a registry is a very good idea, but only the safest of Democratic politicians would go anywhere near it.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:15 AM on February 11


If anti-gun individuals want pro-gun individuals to take their statistics seriously, they really have to stop including suicide in these statistics.

People who don't care about suicide can subtract 10k or so from the 30k I believe.

Suicide should be included, because the availability of firearms makes people at the point of suicide able to carry it out in that one instant, but they likely wouldn't go find a bridge if they didn't happen to have a handgun handy.

Also, the majority of people who have failed at attempted suicides regret it and move on with their lives. They don't get this chance with guns 99% of the time. This is a heart wrenching look at suicide and an absolutely amazing police officer: Sgt. John Carman: Preventing Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The idea that someone needs to know the detailed difference between a 9mm and a thirty odd six or whatever in order for them to object to 30k gun deaths a year and children being shot at schools is absolutely ridiculous. It's just NRA concern trolling. If gun enthusiasts don't care about preventing suicide, it is just more evidence that there is something very, very wrong with American gun culture. It's as if those who speak out about rape culture need to be really, really concerned that they aren't dismissed by the patriarchy for not understanding in detail the tools they use to oppress women.

If gun enthusiasts were serious about preventing gun deaths, they would be explaining what can be done to prevent them rather than joking about "scary black guns," which smells of Rush Limbaugh joking about "femi-nazis."
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:34 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


A partial birth abortion ban is a legitimate step forward in abortion policy if your goal is to ban abortion.

This is actually a good example of why things like "assault weapon feature" bans are culture-war laws.

Say you hate abortion, but you can't ban it -- the courts won't let you. So you ban intact dilation and extraction unless necessary to save maternal life. Number of abortions you have prevented: exactly zero, because the procedure is only used so late in the term that the only abortions that are legal were already therapeutic abortions. So you leave out the life of the mother stuff. The number of abortions you have prevented is still exactly zero -- the courts won't let you just condemn women to death, so instead of the fetus being killed by IDX they'll do what amounts to a cesarean and let the fetus die. It's a policy that cannot possibly ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, ever result in even one fewer abortion.

Likewise, with the exception of the mag size limits, assault weapon feature bans are exceedingly unlikely to save even one life. Since murders by fixed bayonet are almost exactly zero per year, about the only circumstance possible where any of these feature bans could make the slightest difference is that not having a flash suppressor might conceivably make it a little bit harder to be a sniper at night.

The pattern of passing laws that cannot possibly actually affect anything? But maybe you feel better, and you have a symbolic victory to point at? That's pure culture war stuff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:44 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Or in my backyard, talk to people whose police chiefs refuse to issue licenses.

You're talking about handguns here, aren't you? In MA, you only need an FID card to get a long gun, and police chiefs have no discretion over those unless you're ineligible. As a MA resident, I have absolutely no problem with police chiefs denying License To Carry permits. The fewer, the better.


You just might like emptying a standard capacity 30 round magazine into some tannerite.

No doubt I would. I would not like being in the presence of multiple lethal weapons operated by strangers of unknown skill. People die at firing ranges, too. I'm not going to link to it again, but there was an incident where two Range Master firearms instructors were alone at a range, both wearing body armor, and one of them accidentally shot the other one dead. Then there was the fun event set up by a police chief where anyone could pay to fire automatic weapons. Not so much fun for the family of the eight-year-old who couldn't control the recoil of that Uzi and shot himself in the head. An edge case, I know, but it illustrates how being casual with guns can easily go horrible.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:46 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


In MA, you only need an FID card to get a long gun, and police chiefs have no discretion over those unless you're ineligible. As a MA resident, I have absolutely no problem with police chiefs denying License To Carry permits.

There is, depending on the town, disparity between what the police chiefs' discretion should be according to black-letter law and what actually occurs. And those are two separate problems: the fact that certain officials routinely disregard the law, and the fact that the degree to which officials are following/disregarding the law varies so widely from town to town.

The standing of carry permits is a much wider question, one I'm not terribly interested in engaging. People are going to disagree. I would think we can all agree that whatever the law is going to be, it should be clear and applied consistently. In Massachusetts we have the opposite of that. That's relevant because if we're going to have any kind of meaningful nationwide legislation—and most people agree we should—the most daunting problem will be achieving consistency or consensus across cultures. Right now we can't even achieve that at the state level.
posted by cribcage at 11:06 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Ham Snadwich: "it's not my job to make it politically feasible"

Well, that's a cop-out. Above, you made a transparently false equivalency between the wildest dreams of gun control groups, dreams that would require the untimely death of one of five Supreme Court justices, mind you, and the NRA's actual, real-life tooth-and-nail opposition of every incremental reform. Then when I point out that Manchin-Toomey is an example of meeting the gun lobby way more than halfway and still being shot down because of far-fetched gun registry scenarios, you dismiss it by saying it's not your job to factor politics into the equation?

Political realities in America are determined almost exclusively by the size and reach of the lobbying constituencies, which means that the NRA dictates how our politicians vote on gun laws. If you're going to downplay the NRA's outsized role in setting the agenda with false equivalency while simultaneously attacking the gun control movement with specious comparisons to so-called "partial birth" abortion bans (anyone who uses that term is either anti-choice or has internalized an anti-choice propaganda term for IDX), then you really do have a responsibility to share your counterfactual scenario where gun control groups have any chance to get any effective gun control measures signed into law.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:15 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "The pattern of passing laws that cannot possibly actually affect anything? But maybe you feel better, and you have a symbolic victory to point at? That's pure culture war stuff."

Some of the incremental steps we're talking about here are way more than symbolic victories, including closing private sale loopholes and magazine size restrictions. Some of these have even been signed into law in some states, but of course the gun lobby is opposing those, and in at least one state (Colorado) punishing lawmakers who supported those reforms by recalling them from office. I don't think the "partial birth" comparison is appropriate at all.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:19 AM on February 11


.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:40 AM on February 11


Some of the incremental steps we're talking about here are way more than symbolic victories, including closing private sale loopholes and magazine size restrictions.

That would be why I excluded the magazine size, and the private sale loopholes were already distinct from assault-weapon-feature bans.

It would be wrong to compare those two things to IDX bans, which is why I didn't do that. But banning bayonet attachments and flash suppressors? No way they have any reasonable chance of ever preventing even one death-by-firearm.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:32 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: " That would be why I excluded the magazine size, and the private sale loopholes were already distinct from assault-weapon-feature bans."

OK, you said "things like 'assault weapon feature' bans", which I thought was very close to conflating cosmetic laws with other more useful incremental reforms. I stand corrected.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:42 PM on February 11


The problem isn't the guns or their design. The problem is The Constitution. As an non-American, hearing this 240 year old document used as a cultural, political and legislative touchstone sounds to me as bonkers as using the 10 Commandments or the rule book from Monopoly. If you want to get rid of guns get yourselves uncodified.
posted by Brian Lux at 1:50 PM on February 11


Tonycpsu: that's a fair criticism, sorry.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:02 PM on February 11


ArkhanJG: "The exception is folding knives with a blade 3" or less, which you don't need a reason to carry. Having a locking mechanism stops it being counted as a folding knife."

Wow, that prohibits most Leatherman multitools (3.2" locking blade) (and most clones I'd guess) as an everyday carry knife.
posted by Mitheral at 11:42 PM on February 11


simultaneously attacking the gun control movement with specious comparisons to so-called "partial birth" abortion bans (anyone who uses that term is either anti-choice or has internalized an anti-choice propaganda term for IDX)

Honestly, the comparison of gun issues and abortion isn't far off the mark. Both have been fairly definitively decided at the Supreme Court level, and in both cases opponents are responding by attempting incremental restrictions (many largely symbolic) at the state and local levels. And, most significantly, in both cases the politics proceeds in absolutes but the public opinion is far more nuanced, leaving a huge disconnect between how it is legislated and argued and how most people actually think. The result for both is a weird national patchwork of access and restrictions that is effortlessly circumvented by anyone with enough money.

So if I'm a gun owner who (like the vast majority of other gun owners in the US) supports some reasonable policy changes like background checks, I'm in the same position as someone who supports legal abortion while also wanting some restrictions on that -- I then have a huge problem of how to push for just those limited policy changes without in the process inadvertently helping the extremists who want to ban guns or abortions. Solve that problem and you'll see different legislation (but still within the overall framework provided by the Supreme Court decisions, of course).

But it's a huge issue. I'm a perfect example of that politically liberal gun owner who would have no issue with all kinds of firearms regulation improvements (which in my dreams would be based on the best available science and research). But just from the comments here you can see the difficulties of finding the right allies and framework for moving an agenda like that forward, without in the process supporting things that I'm not on board with.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:59 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


You're talking about handguns here, aren't you? In MA, you only need an FID card to get a long gun, and police chiefs have no discretion over those unless you're ineligible.

So, this is one of the cases where I think there's just genuine ignorance of how things are in other places.

For gun owners, New York City is often the canary in the coal mine. New York City has the most stringent gun restrictions in the nation, that both horrify gun owners and cause them to actively fear such laws being enacted on a broader scale - particularly given the political, media, and financial influence of New York. It acts as the goad, pushing gun owners to resist even small changes that might potentially allow for incremental creep towards that situation.

Most cities and states allow for some form of reciprocal permiting - usually, at the very least, state firearms permits will be honored throughout the state. New York City, however, completely disregards that, acknowledging no other licensure, not even from other areas of the state. If you are not a New York City resident, the city is essentially a dead zone, regardless of your legal status - which can be problematic, not least because it's a major transit point to other areas of the Eastern Seaboard. In addition, you need a permit for any kind of firearm - whether you plan to carry it or keep it in your home. The permit must be acquired before you acquire the firearm, and the firearm must be acquired new, only from a firearm dealer, and you must come to the NYPD with the serial number of the firearm /before/ you are able to purchase it. The permit, if granted (which it usually is not) takes up to two years to acquire, and has a nonrefundable $500 fee, whether or not your permit is granted. They do not need to give a reason why your permit is denied.

That's not even going into the bans of New York State, which ban primarily cosmetic features, and guns that have been heavily featured in movies.
posted by corb at 6:43 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


corb: "Most cities and states allow for some form of reciprocal permiting - usually, at the very least, state firearms permits will be honored throughout the state. New York City, however, completely disregards that, acknowledging no other licensure, not even from other areas of the state. If you are not a New York City resident, the city is essentially a dead zone, regardless of your legal status - which can be problematic, not least because it's a major transit point to other areas of the Eastern Seaboard. In addition, you need a permit for any kind of firearm - whether you plan to carry it or keep it in your home. The permit must be acquired before you acquire the firearm, and the firearm must be acquired new, only from a firearm dealer, and you must come to the NYPD with the serial number of the firearm /before/ you are able to purchase it. The permit, if granted (which it usually is not) takes up to two years to acquire, and has a nonrefundable $500 fee, whether or not your permit is granted. They do not need to give a reason why your permit is denied. "

Reciprocal permitting is problematic for various reasons, namely you get jurisdictions that have diffferent stringency with regard to what qualifies. See things like professional registrations (Engineers) or auto registration and title washing. Unless you are arguing against permitting in general, this scenario you've described is only a problem for someone who feels the need to take a firearm with them to visit New York City. Is NYC like Deadwood or something?
posted by Big_B at 8:03 AM on February 12


Big_B: " Is NYC like Deadwood or something?"

Well, funny enough, even in old Western towns, law enforcement recognized the public safety value of collecting guns from people as they entered and returning them once they left town.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:21 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


So another of the problems with how NYC handles firearms is actually that it violates federal law routinely.

Title 18 Section 926(a) The Peaceable Journey Act, states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation, the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle.
This is federal law, and it's designed so that people who are planning to just pass through various places, which may have different rules on firearms, can travel without having to worry about the vagaries of these laws. This is a pretty big deal, which allows for travel to and from various areas. But NYC routinely ignores this - which is a problem not just for individuals driving through, but because NYC has two of the country's biggest airports.

Individuals are routinely arrested for arriving at JFK and following ordinary, TSA laws on firearms - keeping the firearms unloaded, in a locked case, with ammunition stored separately in checked baggage. Now, most people would understand "unloaded" to mean "there are no bullets in the gun." But NYC defines it differently - it has arrested and charged people for having a loaded firearm at an airport even when the magazine was separated from the gun - because they define a gun as "loaded" when the bullets are in "close proximity" to the firearm.

Well, funny enough, even in old Western towns, law enforcement recognized the public safety value of collecting guns from people as they entered and returning them once they left town.

That would...actually be better...than what currently happens. Which sounds crazy, but it's true. I'm sure people would much prefer checking firearms with the NYPD to being arrested and serving years in jail for a felony.
posted by corb at 8:23 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


...and because I apparently don't realize that I didn't paste my links until after the edit window closed, some arrests at JFK.
posted by corb at 8:38 AM on February 12


this scenario you've described is only a problem for someone who feels the need to take a firearm with them to visit New York City.

No, as Corb points out, it's also a problem for anyone with a firearm who wants to pass through New York City. I am not an expert on New York law, but I can tell you that the common understanding among experts outside New York is that you must drive around the city. Which, if you're from the Northeast, you know is possible but not always very convenient.

Here in Massachusetts there is a common route from one MA location to a second MA location, that passes through Rhode Island. Rhode Island will recognize your MA driver's license, but not your MA firearms license. So a regular question from firearms owners in location #1 is, "Do I need to get a Rhode Island permit?" Generally speaking the answer is no, as long as you keep passing through. Fill up your gas tank in MA. Stop for a sandwich in MA. During your short stay in Rhode Island, keep driving.

That's how our current federal scheme is supposed to work. I'm not in a position to comment on New York City's laws except to say that experts outside New York agree it's an anomaly.
posted by cribcage at 8:58 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


So, are there lawsuits against NYC's gun laws proceeding through the courts? Because constitutionally shaky local or state laws happen all the time outside of 2nd amendment issues, and typically it goes to the courts if it can't be voted down.

And, while I agree that NYC has shitty rules from a transport perspective, I really don't think that NYC is some kind of bellwether for gun law any more than it is for soda size law.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:07 AM on February 12


So, this is one of the cases where I think there's just genuine ignorance of how things are in other places.

Not my ignorance. The comment I was responding to was by someone in Boston, and made specific reference to their "backyard." Perhaps the ignorance is yours.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:11 AM on February 12


So, are there lawsuits against NYC's gun laws proceeding through the courts?....
And, while I agree that NYC has shitty rules from a transport perspective, I really don't think that NYC is some kind of bellwether for gun law any more than it is for soda size law.


Some, but of course, it requires organizations with funding behind them to afford to pay for lawyers - especially able to match the funds that the city can spend (even without a billionaire mayor). My cynical half also says that the NRA is uninterested in spending funds challenging NY law either because a) they think they'll lose, or b) they have a vested interest in NYC existing as a scary cautionary tale for the nation. (In particularly, NYC is also notable as an example of a city that rolled out a gun registry for legal guns, then declared them illegal and used the registry to round them up - another Thing Folks Are Concerned About.)

I agree with you, that NYC does not predict federal law, but think it tends to act as a "This Is the Way They Want You To Live" exhibit. As long as places like NYC are allowed to exist, with law that seems downright punitory for anyone who is interested in firearms, they seem to point to the world that key donors to gun control organizations (Bloomberg, but not only him) want to see - which produces a huge backlash against anything leading to that world.
posted by corb at 12:22 PM on February 12


Persons who believe that because NYC has some feature must mean that large groups of people outside NYC want everywhere to have that feature are not apprehending the world realistically.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:00 PM on February 12


Well, Bloomberg and some portion of MAIG crowd occasionally bring out NYC as an example of gun control done right, but exactly who they represent is debatable.

Their tendency to cough up quotes that appear ready-made for NRA fundraising materials is at best suspicious, as well. Bloomberg probably only trails Sen. Feinstein (of "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in" fame) in terms of being that organization's biggest scarecrow.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:33 PM on February 12


>> locking mechanism stops it being counted as a folding knife

> Wow, that prohibits most Leatherman multitools (3.2" locking blade)


The old Pocket Survival Tool Leatherman and current ones like the Juice don't have locking blades. The blade is held open with a spring, but you can close it without actuating a separate release lever. The Wave has a locking blade.

> There are still a group of people who collect "proper" switchblades, but the switchblade itself is sort of legally irrelevant these days.

In California, real switchblades under 2 inches are legal (but not near a school). There's a whole little industry making those. But yeah, the "assisted opening" knives with thumb studs on the blades are a lot "better" at legal-ish concealed carry of something really terrifying.
posted by morganw at 5:13 PM on February 12


> The main reason to shorten the barrel of a shotgun is to make it easier to conceal

True enough, but the idea was to mollify home-defense-proponents by leaving them something when taking away handguns.

Concealable under an overcoat, but not in a pants pocket.

The other reason for a short barrel is swinging it around indoors.
posted by morganw at 5:16 PM on February 12


In particularly, NYC is also notable as an example of a city that rolled out a gun registry for legal guns, then declared them illegal and used the registry to round them up - another Thing Folks Are Concerned About.

I can feel some sympathy with these Folks Who Are Concerned About Thing, it certainly feeds into the argument that They Say They Just Want Registration, But They Really Want To Grab Our Guns. On the other hand, having a problem with the registry being used round up the guns suggests that some of these Concerned Folks don't necessarily intend to comply with gun laws they disagree with. If a law banning handguns is passed in the city, everyone is required to get rid of those guns. Not just those that have a registered firearm.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:26 PM on February 12


If the progress was registry --> declare previously legal guns illegal --> use registry to confiscate guns, then don't you see how people who don't like that last step would see the first one happening somewhere else to be problematic?
posted by Etrigan at 5:45 PM on February 12


NYC is also notable as an example of a city that rolled out a gun registry for legal guns, then declared them illegal and used the registry to round them up

I'd like to read more about this and am having trouble finding sources for the chain of events you've described here. Would you mind offering up a link or two?
posted by jessamyn at 5:59 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I think what people are generally referring to when they talk of "confiscation" in New York City happened in 1991. This is the NRA's summary, which is the most complete that I can find. (At least that doesn't contain a lot of references to the Zionist Illuminati Reptilian menace.) It obviously has an editorial slant but it seems well-researched.

Basically, the City had a mandatory registration scheme dating from 1967 (distinct from permitting, which began in 1911); in 1991 the laws changed to completely prohibit certain models of firearms. The City used the registration information to send letters to owners of now-prohibited firearms, requiring them to send back an affidavit that the guns had either been removed from the City or surrendered. 2,615 out of 3,360 people responded that they had removed them from the City, one guy in Staten Island apparently announced that he wasn't going to comply and was arrested, and presumably the other 744 just never responded. There was some discussion by the NYPD of "spot checks" but as far as I can tell, they were mostly empty threats and never happened.

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the NYPD recently started sending out similar letters again (various sources), which raises interesting questions as to whether they actually allowed prohibited guns to be registered and are now retroactively sending out violation notices, or if they obtained the information about the particulars of the guns some other way. (Or even, I suppose, that the recipient is one of the 744 original nonrespondents from 1991.) But the story seems very thin on details.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:04 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


If the progress was registry --> declare previously legal guns illegal --> use registry to confiscate guns, then don't you see how people who don't like that last step would see the first one happening somewhere else to be problematic?

Of course I do and that's what I meant by the first sentence of my comment. If registry is discussed as registry only and then is turned into confiscation, then the people who were worried that registry would lead to confiscation turn out to be right and they have a legitimate argument about registry being a slippery slope. What I'm saying is, if society as a whole decides to make handguns illegal and enacts laws for mandatory confiscation of firearms, then law abiding citizens will be required to get rid of their guns, registered or not. The people not getting rid of their guns (thinking that they can get away with it because they are not on a registry) would be criminals under the new gun laws, whether there was a registry or not. It seems like this distinction would mostly matter to people who planned on keeping illegal firearms.
Personally, I think that it would be nice if the argument was more often framed in what well meaning people on both sides of the issue would be willing to accept, rather than a screaming fight between the platonic ideals of concealed carry for all citizens with no restriction and nobody is allowed to own any sort of gun.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:05 PM on February 12


It seems like this distinction would mostly matter to people who planned on keeping illegal firearms.

There's sort of an interesting point buried here, which is that there probably is some proportion of presently law-abiding gun owners who, if all registered firearms were banned and confiscated, would keep one or two guns illegally. That feels different from "planning" to keep illegal firearms, but I suspect it would happen.

To be clear, I don't think this is a very pertinent concern because on a national level we're nowhere near banning all guns. It's not realistic. I just find it kind of interesting to think about.
posted by cribcage at 7:30 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


It seems like this distinction would mostly matter to people who planned on keeping illegal firearms.

Bear in mind that these are people who feel that keeping firearms is a human right. In their mind, "planning to keep illegal firearms" is as loaded a term as "continuing to believe in an illegal religion." They genuinely don't want to be criminals, they just want what they believe are their rights to remain intact.
posted by Etrigan at 8:08 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think that it would be nice if the argument was more often framed in what well meaning people on both sides of the issue would be willing to accept

I think so too, but it's very difficult to have that discussion if you can't first stake out what's absolutely off the table. As long as there is the chance that moderate gun control today becomes a mere stepping-stone towards a ban or confiscation tomorrow, it's easy to see why people oppose it even though, in the abstract, they might be open to something more moderate.

And that's why, although I was a little tongue-in-cheek about it upthread, I think Sen. Feinstein's "Mr and Mrs America, turn them all in" comment was one of the most damaging things to happen to the cause of gun control in the US in decades. You can't expect anyone to seriously negotiate with you when you've admitted that as your end goal; it's like Ahmadinejad's (alleged) "wipe [Israel] off the map" quote, or Rick Perry stating that he wants to make abortion "a thing of the past": everything you do from that point on is going to be interpreted in light of that apparent goal, which makes negotiating appear to be a less-than-fruitful endeavor (or worse yet, a no-win proposition where even the act of negotiating legitimizes the opposite side's extreme position).

However, I do think that there is some possibility for compromise in the future, as a result of the Supreme Court decision affirming the individual view of the 2nd Amendment. As odious as that ruling may be to people who disagree with that interpretation on legal grounds, if you are serious about compromise solutions on gun control it's a good thing in practical terms (although only if it sticks around and is perceived as permanent). By laying out the ground rules — possession by individuals as a general rule is permitted, handguns as well as long guns are included, machine guns are not — you allow for some level of serious discussion about the particulars, without one party assuming that everything the other party does during negotiations is simply getting into a better position for an eventual coup de grace. In other words, you can start arguing about the borders once you have acknowledged that nobody is going to get pushed into the sea, but not before.

It will take a long time to build up that level of trust though, and the pursuit of ineffective-but-offensive measures like cosmetic feature bans doesn't really serve to create common ground either.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:37 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't the second amendment guarantee a right to machine guns? Wouldn't machine guns and anti-tank missiles be necessary (at a minimum) for a militia to defend against a tyrannical government?
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:44 AM on February 13


I think that it would be nice if the argument was more often framed in what well meaning people on both sides of the issue would be willing to accept...

I believe that I am well-meaning when I say I don't want people able to walk around in public carrying devices intended to end life. I am not hearing arguments from people who want to be able to do that which demonstrate their well-meaning. My motives are to prevent accidents and the death and maiming of innocent people. What are the equivalent motives of gun supporters? Self-defense? The available evidence says that happens at a barely-significant rate, while the numbers of accidental shootings are huge. What is the major benefit to society of having armed citizens? What is the major benefit to the armed person?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:26 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


The "defense against tyranny" argument has really been bugging me lately when it's coming so often (though obviously not exclusively) from the mouths of people who then go on to call a democratically-elected President a tyrant just because he's not their choice. I mean, I have issues with that argument on a purely practical level (because no, you can not just guerrilla it up to stymie the US army as happened in Afghanistan if the US army is no longer playing by any rules), but the veiled threat thing really seriously bothers me.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:42 AM on February 13


Nobody hates Obama more than the military. If the Tea militias were to start an armed resistance against dictator Obama and his taxes, much of the military leadership would surely join them after a sustained period of prayer and meditation.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:28 AM on February 13


I worry about criminals using .50BMG about as much as I worry that a gang-banger is going to be towing a Parrott gun and a bunch of canister shot behind their car.

Hell yeah, Straight outa Manassas

I think this might be where your comment started to lose people.
The "all gun nuts kill children" insinuations, perfectly ok tho.

Undifferentiated targets can take on a life of their own even with the best intentions. MADD wants to ban Grand Theft Auto and promotes breath alcohol ignition interlocks on all new cars.
Hell, it's the same reason I'm not a member of the NRA.

Do I think that these legalistic details are what keeps us (mostly) safe from our fellow man? No, I think our countries' wildly different income equality, social mobility, economic mobility and general social safety net is what provides an environment where gun crime is the exception rather than the rule.

The disparity in policing attitudes is pretty wide as well. By that I mean the praxis more than individual police officers' attitudes which can be accounted for. The overarching concept behind policing in the U.S. is primarily antagonistic. And plenty of politicians reinforce this - "tough on crime" and so forth. Even when less antagonistic it's still very proactive in a sloppy dog kiss kind of way (community policing, the way it's run in many places) and doesn't question the underlying assumptions and foundations we've built in enforcement of law.

“The idea that someone needs to know the detailed difference between a 9mm and a thirty odd six or whatever in order for them to object to 30k gun deaths a year and children being shot at schools is absolutely ridiculous.”

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. An uniformed opinion is less valid than an informed one. The insinuation here is that someone who knows what a thirty OT six is (.30-06 http://lmgtfy.com/?q=thirty+odd+six) doesn’t object to children being shot.

What’s being ridiculed is the uselessness of setting about trying to remedy something one knows nothing about.

“If gun enthusiasts were serious about preventing gun deaths, they would be explaining what can be done to prevent them”

I think many gun owners have talked about the use of focused policing and community programs in high risk locations that have been successful in reducing gun violence (I don’t know how many times I’ve copiously praised Ceasefire).

What it sounds like is the assertion is that gun enthusiasts haven’t done enough about getting rid of guns rather than reducing the violence. In fact organizations such as SNUG in NY, et.al. – most notably, again, Ceasefire in Chicago have reduced the murder rate (in Chicago from 628 to 435 in 2010).

What politicians here have done – again specifically Chicago, has been to attack guns while de-funding those kinds of programs in order to pander to their base who clamor – specifically - to get guns off the street while ignorant – willfully or otherwise – of solutions that are actually proven to work. Daly and Emanuel were both Mayors who were very big on gun control, not so big on those kinds of programs. Or transparency. Or on police overtime for shooting investigations. Or prosecutions for said crimes (see my above comment re: gang member getting 14 months for carrying a gun after previous involvement in spraying a neighborhood with an AK-47).

The problem is gun control – in the way it’s currently driven – is a tactic, not a strategy aimed at – as you say – the goal of reducing 30k gun deaths and children being shot at school. In much the same way, say, counterterrorism after 9/11 became a tactic to reduce “terrorism” and drones became the default way to 'stop' it. Works about as well too.

So, in this new era of blanket surveillance - ‘if freedom enthusiasts were serious about preventing terrorist attacks, they would be explaining what can be done to prevent them.’
When tactics drive strategy – no matter how noble the goal – it reduces the positive influence and impact of countertechnique of any kind, law enforcement, military interdiction, whatever.

And the tactics implicit here (generally what, just removing guns from the equation?) are driven by aggregate data (suicide, etc.) which is compared to other data, picked up by politicians or the media or whatever then championed into policy by people who feel strongly about it without regard for interpretation of what the data mean to strategy in execution, the on the ground reality.

I mean, it’s a one trick pony argument in so many cases – how about cameras? ‘That won’t stop guns!’ How about CompStat? ‘That won’t stop guns!’ How about mandatory sentence enhancements? ‘That won’t stop guns!’

You know what seems very effective in getting guns off the street? The “stop and frisk” laws, e.g. in New York.
Boy, those are really politically popular with the left though, aren’t they?

This isn’t to engage in that particular debate, but rather to point out the reality that, well, reality has on a given notion.
(I don’t think it’s a political argument to acknowledge a political reality. I’m not saying I’m thrilled with it, but it’s there. Hell, we have tobacco and booze legal, when those kill people by the millions, but marijuana is verboten. I do none of those, but I recognize the reality that we’re not going to outlaw Jack Daniels any time soon.)

And addressing the use you want to prevent vs. addressing an object/substance/etc. is typically more effective.
Want to do “x”? Well, then you have to consider “y”

If we’re going to consider pure value in reducing deaths (particularly in children) we need to eliminate swimming pools (100x more likely to lead to a child’s death than a gun). Silly tangent here but I have to address it – one of the answers to this type of value question is that swimming pools, cars, whatever – aren’t *designed* to kill people. But, is that supposed to make it all better? In terms of the ‘need’/’value’ thing – do you need a swimming pool? Particularly if the thing is more dangerous, data wise, to your children than a firearm? I’m speaking hypothetically to illustrate a point.

The point being, we have to evaluate what we’re giving up and the real world consequences of a given action in relationship to the goal in question.
The goal here being reducing violence to people and kids and I think most “gun control” (that is the “brand”, not the idea itself) solutions are hopelessly minimalist.

Without doubt there’s derision in the tone from people who know something about guns to many gun control people, but I think that goes both ways. I'm a 'gun nut' and child killer by proxy because I own a gun, no?

Brass tacks – whether you or I like it, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled and the political landscape is what it is.
As of now semiautomatic rifles and handguns are available and will have an impact for decades at least and the odds of law enforcement identifying someone who plans to engage in a mass shooting (without community help) is small at best.

Evaluating solutions with that in mind and the reality of firearms in mind is more imperative to the goal of stopping violence than just the tactic of reducing the number of guns.
Programs like Ceasefire address things like conflict resolution which reduces the introduction of firearms as a useful tool/substitute.

If we were to go in the sentencing augmentation direction, it need not be ridiculously Orwellian. Rob someone, you get ‘x’ years. Rob someone using a gun you get that plus a really big cherry on top as long as it’s connected to the given *use* of a gun rather than demonizing the gun itself.

And that too goes back to how we confront criminals as antagonists (in which many take pride; e.g. being in jail is almost a badge of honor to some people) to be beaten in the system – punishment rather than deterrence and offering solutions. Because the criminals are objects to be bludgeoned rather than criminal behavior being a set of actions we can influence and the disproportionate levels of victimization and inevitable response are ignored.

What's frustrating to someone who uses firearms and knows them and favors regulation, is that there is SO MUCH THAT CAN WORK.
But doesn't.

Certainly it's the NRA, et.al. But the Democratic machine in Illinois (Chicago) was the poster child for how to derail lasting change (defund Ceasefire, inconsistent mandatory minimum sentencing, cutting cops, etc) and used the gun control issue to cage votes. (I mean Daley threatened to stick a rifle up a reporters ass for questioning if gun control had been effective, he's the poster boy for non-violence?)

So again, I think it's a matter of goal focus, and the goal(s) being torn up in favor of contesting the object instead.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:29 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Nobody hates Obama more than the military

And yet, according to the Federal Election Commission he got double the campaign donations. Hn.

much of the military leadership would surely join them after a sustained period of prayer and meditation.

It's an opinion, so ignorance don't matter! I'll be over here with gunz 'n bible eating outa my tin of beans.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:35 AM on February 13


Smedleyman: "You know what seems very effective in getting guns off the street? The “stop and frisk” laws, e.g. in New York."

I generally admire your comments on gun issues, even if I don't agree with many of your conclusions, but this is simply not borne out by the facts. Even if you think that recovering one gun for every thousand stop-and-frisk searches is a good use of our law enforcement resources, the map shows that there's no correlation between where the guns are and where they're concentrating their searches.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:37 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Nobody hates Obama more than the military. If the Tea militias were to start an armed resistance against dictator Obama and his taxes, much of the military leadership would surely join them after a sustained period of prayer and meditation.

In 2000, I was deployed to Macedonia and Kosovo for Operation Joint Guardian. This was back in the days when the paper version of Stars and Stripes was our primary news source, and we were all following the presidential election intently. Nobody I knew voted for Al Gore. No. Body.

I got a couple of emails from civilian friends, seriously asking me whether I thought the military would step in. I laughed, but then I thought about it. I've been at least the second-most-liberal person in every unit I've ever been in, and maybe I just didn't really have my thumb on the proverbial pulse. So I carefully brought up the question to a few people, of varying backgrounds and ideologies and ranks and suchlike.

Every single one of them laughed his or her ass off at the very thought of it. The Onion's coverage came out around the same time, and was met with the same level of hilarity.

The last legitimate military threat to presidential power was more than 60 years ago, and was ended with a single order.
posted by Etrigan at 12:16 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Why doesn't the second amendment guarantee a right to machine guns?

Because the Supreme Court says it doesn't. QED.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:46 PM on February 13


as much as I worry that a gang-banger is going to be towing a Parrott gun and a bunch of canister shot behind their car

I'm largely on the anti-gun side of these things, but oh, how I wish I could have a Parrott gun (or similar... a 12lb Napoleon would probably be my first pick).

Probably just as effective in terms of resisting nuke-armed tyranny as any volume of small-arms.
posted by pompomtom at 7:09 PM on February 13


I generally admire your comments on gun issues, even if I don't agree with many of your conclusions, but this is simply not borne out by the facts.

Well, yeah. I sorta left myself an out with "seems." I don't really know. And there's a lot of evidence supporting either conclusion.
And indeed, it's not a strategy addressing illegal guns but crime in general. And typically you find a gun on someone in the commission of, or about to commit, a crime, it's just a bonus.

But there are people touting it as a way to get guns off the street. And many people oppose it on constitutional grounds as well as poor execution (e.g. racial profiling and privacy violations).

But there again, if we go after street crime using the broken window method, stop and frisk has been shown to make some headway - for the given slice of targeting it's supposed to do.
(With the concession that there's opposition to this position).
But given that it does work to lower the crime rate, is it worth it to do it the way it's being done in practice?
Whether it is or not (I fall pretty solidly on the civil liberties side here) it's just one approach in a potentially much wider spectrum of methods.
And that's what we need with gun control. Some buy backs perhaps - which has some opposition that says that's not worth it for the amount of guns you get back *shrug*, but also street programs, better policing, better mental health, social programs, etc. all aimed at behavioral changes and deterring behavior.

We don't do that, we're going to wind up fighting a "gun war" in the same way we fight the "drug war."
posted by Smedleyman at 8:24 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


What’s being ridiculed is the uselessness of setting about trying to remedy something one knows nothing about.

I don't think someone needs to know exact details of different firearms to set about a remedy to gun violence anymore than someone needs to know the exact computer chips in every file server in the NSA's data farm in order to set about remedying government surveillance. Parents don't need to know the details about the triggering mechanisms of the guns that killed their children in order for their efforts to end gun violence to be useful. From what I see on metafilter again and again, this is just a tactic for gun enthusiasts to reliably turn a conversation about preventing needless death into a gun porn contest over who knows the most about guns and what they've done with them and blah blah. It's kind of funny how people who joke about "scary black guns" are so frightened of Feinstein and Obama that they have to buy another 70 million guns and turn a blind eye to 30k gun deaths.

If we’re going to consider pure value in reducing deaths (particularly in children) we need to eliminate swimming pools (100x more likely to lead to a child’s death than a gun).


Comments like this are what lead me to believe gun enthusiasts don't care that much about gun violence. Their response to school shootings and other gun violence is, "meh, a child is 100x more likely to be killed in a swimming pool; more people are killed by drug overdoses - are we going to ban all drugs? It's mostly those other people getting shot or committing suicide, anyway. There is no problem here."

And that too goes back to how we confront criminals as antagonists (in which many take pride; e.g. being in jail is almost a badge of honor to some people) to be beaten in the system – punishment rather than deterrence and offering solutions. Because the criminals are objects to be bludgeoned rather than criminal behavior being a set of actions we can influence and the disproportionate levels of victimization and inevitable response are ignored.

What's frustrating to someone who uses firearms and knows them and favors regulation, is that there is SO MUCH THAT CAN WORK.
But doesn't.

Certainly it's the NRA, et.al. But the Democratic machine in Illinois (Chicago) was the poster child for how to derail lasting change (defund Ceasefire, inconsistent mandatory minimum sentencing, cutting cops, etc) ...


Thanks to Obama, the gun industry and the NRA are rolling in cash. There is nothing stopping them from funding programs like Ceasefire, after school programs in inner cities(?), women's shelters, suicide prevention, additional community policing by retired police officers, more gun safety training, etc. They could then show that they care and are doing more to prevent violence than the dysfunctional gub'ment and their "assault rifle" bans.

What Are We Doing About Gun Violence?
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:19 AM on February 14 [4 favorites]


I would suggest there's a lot of ground between knowing nothing and being able to explain the functional fine points of various firearms and ammunition, i.e. knowing everything. Both are extremes. What I don't think is terribly controversial is the basic notion that if you're going to be involved with crafting legislation, you should have some familiarity with its subject.

The catch is that you aren't required to have any familiarity or knowledge at all to vote on legislation, or to support/oppose it, or to opine about it, or to fundraise based on it. And more fundamentally, voters aren't required to understand legislation in order to make political donations on it or to support/oppose candidates based on it. You don't have to know the difference between a handgun and a rifle to have an opinion on gun control, and the whole system is driven by opinionated voters. With hot-button topics, more people care, and that will necessarily include more people who are ignorant. So these topics get politically driven by ignorance a lot more so than, say, Amtrak funding.

That's just a reality of our political system. I don't think it's hard to understand why it can be frustrating. No, voters don't need to understand how a trigger works in order to affect policy. Uninformed policy, however, can complicate or worsen the problems it was trying to solve.
posted by cribcage at 5:38 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


“I don't think someone needs to know exact details of different firearms to set about a remedy to gun violence”
No more than, say, someone needs to know the values of a culture or the exact details of horrors of combat to start a war?
It helps to have accurate information in decision making. Only point there.

“From what I see on metafilter again and again, this is just a tactic for gun enthusiasts to reliably turn a conversation about preventing needless death into a gun porn contest”


And does it appear that this is what I’m doing? Pretty sure I outlined some useful social programs… See, you’re talking to me. This “some people” bullshit cuts no ice. I’m not “some people.” We’ve agreed that “some people” do that. I agree the NRA is full of shit. But their position has no bearing on me and THIS conversation.
Does it sound like I’m talking gun porn? Or, at the very least, is it not obvious what I was doing when illustrating the features of a pistol grip was parody (I’d’ve thought the ‘child killing’ thing was a giveaway. Apparently either I’m thought of as a child killer or the sarcasm detectors haven’t been calibrated).
Is this a conversation about preventing needless deaths? Because it sounds like a conversation about how bad gun owners are, about how not buying in to the idea of eliminating guns (apparently with make-happy legislation and magic wands) is wanting to promote needless deaths – and how not playing that game and actually trying to address the topic of violence and the FPP which was the failure of legislation to address the reality – is avoidance of the issue and “gun porn.”
No, see, I’m a real person. We all are. Not “some people.” I care about the deaths of children. I’ve rescued them from miserable hellholes you’ll never see the inside of and when I think of 27 year old teacher Victoria Soto putting her body between the closet door where her kids were hidden and the man trying to kill them all I weep. I tear up now. Because I know her experience and I’ve seen people close to me die that way and I mourn losing her the way I mourn one of my own. I know what she felt and what she was thinking and by God if I could have put myself there to cover her and those kids I would have. To me this is a real issue and one all the more real because I know what guns can and can’t do and I know what people can and can’t do.
I share that information in the hope that actual, lasting policies can be developed so another one of mine doesn’t have to die.
Same way I go on about war and men dying there. And it’s pretty much the same response isn’t it? Us crazy bastards will line up with the tea party and throw the N-President out of office because we’re crazed killers not real people who believe in something because we’ve seen the real world effects. Meanwhile, politicians who’ve never seen any bit of war or know a damn thing about guns pass abstract laws sending people into harms way and performing useless pageantry like this half-ass gun law so they can scoop up a few more districts without risking their wallets and political capital. Not “some people” but Andrew Cuomo, Martin Golden, and the NY senate passed a poorly crafted rushed through law which encourages disrespect for the law and increases the likelihood of casual imprisonment through prohibiting vague and arbitrary (uninformed) details and not addressing the realities. Certainly there are things in it I agree with (such as safe storage), but it’s the same method we used in prosecuting the Drug War. How stupid, useless, and ultimately self-destructive has that been?

“It's kind of funny how people who joke about "scary black guns" are so frightened of Feinstein and Obama that they have to buy another 70 million guns and turn a blind eye to 30k gun deaths.”


Two parts there. Turing a blind eye to 30k gun deaths – well, 20k or so is suicide so that doesn’t really plug into the idea that way, but even given that, it’s still a “worth it or not?” argument. Freedom vs. lives saved. It’s a ceded point, at least for me, that certain people don’t believe it, or any given number of lives, are worth having guns. I think gun ownership is a right (albeit subject to regulation). Some people think it’s a privilege (which can be removed by the state without cause like a drivers’ license). I’m not going to try to convince anyone otherwise because it seems fairly pointless going both ways.

Two, what if they are frightened? Have you considered the implications of that? Why are they frightened? I’ve thought a great deal about why many people are frightened of guns and it’s been my experience that most people who are afraid of them in the abstract know nothing about them.

And I think your own fear is obvious. Of the military. Of violent men. Perhaps even police. But who exactly do you expect will execute the laws – however they are written? Gonna knock on that door yourself are ya? No? Would you care to ride a helicopter around Columbia? Plenty of money for that. We could get in some firefights in Mexico, always a swell time. Certainly having sworn adults die is preferable to children, but it'd be nice if we could avoid both, no?

So again, if knowledge allays fear, I think such knowledge is a good thing under any circumstances even if it serves the argument of someone who takes a position opposite me so we can at least deal with the realities and have the same points of reference in discourse.

“Comments like this are what lead me to believe gun enthusiasts don't care that much about gun violence.”

It’s meant to contrast two separate ideas in the overall debate. The freedom/security position in terms of what is worth having something and what is worth banning – which I’m illustrating but not arguing, and the idea of the necessity of having an informed debate if we’re going to form reasonable policy and not have it collapse into ridiculousness like it did in the FPP.

You seem to oppose having information, or at the very least, prefer arguing from emotionalism. Which, while it’s perfectly valid to be upset over any tragic death, generally doesn’t lead to crafting useful policy.

“more people are killed by drug overdoses - are we going to ban all drugs?”

Well...yeah, but we did, didn’t we? I mean, it’s exactly the position I’m arguing. Drug policy was formed in an aura of hysteria and thinking of the children. (“This nation faces a major crisis in terms of the increasing use of drugs, particularly among our young people,” - Richard Nixon, signing the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.)

Implicit in your ideas is a ban, but whether it is or not, I’m still arguing the equivalent of drug treatment programs and social programs focused on prevention instead of punishment and more laws which ultimately means more law enforcement and more punitive measures by the courts.

There’s been, what, $1 trillion spent on the “drug war,” with Obama goosing interdiction and law enforcement to $10 billion out of the $15 billion drug control budget?
That’s two thirds spent on kicking asses instead of reducing behavior.

You really think I’m saying “there’s no problem here?” I’m addressing the reality of gun regulation enforcement which goes well beyond the “OMG! CHILDREN” hysteria you’re plugging. We will save far more lives with a holistic approach than we would with a blanket ban. In fact, we’ll save more lives just knowing more about them period. Ignorance kills.
On top of that, again, who enforces the ban? F’ing elves? It means kicking in doors. That means more violence on top of spending more money against what is essentially an entrenched foe.
That holds true for guns or drugs. They’re here. That’s the reality.
Dealing with it in an intelligent, methodical way is the only way we’re going to get anything done.
Until, at least, it's time for your method which is what, hound lawful gun owners, scream that they kill children, just close your ears to the actualities in engineering in favor of idealistic blind populist lawmaking and you are the most sympathetic of men?

I favor regulation in the form of coherent and universal background checks, shared information between agencies, proof of secure storage (e.g. against domestic violence), augmentation in sentencing for gun crimes, and widespread use of surveillance technology that can hear gunshots and focus cameras on where it came from, - because I can't stop a gun or any given potential it has as well as I can stop potential or actual violent behavior.

“There is nothing stopping them from funding programs like Ceasefire…”


Nothing says they have to either. I doubt the NRA is going to pony up any money. I know plenty of gun owners who donate money though.
Say, how much do you donate to those programs? Would you like to kick in a few bucks yourself? Here’s the website.
There’s something to be said about the NRA and political opposition. And I agree (I mean they're against increased penalties for gun crimes, c'mon, they're insane).
But out here, there’s a Democratic supermajority in Illinois with a Democratic governor. And Democratic Mayor in Chicago (who hired a police superintendent (McCarthy) who apparently just hated the program). There's a $25 'violence tax' in Cook County now on firearm purchases.
I don't mind, but where's the money going? Ceasefire went unfunded in July. And they're always bottom of the barrel in terms of funding.
So…yeah.

I mean, you can't be betrayed by your enemies, right?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:27 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Comments like this are what lead me to believe gun enthusiasts don't care that much about gun violence. Their response to school shootings and other gun violence is, "meh, a child is 100x more likely to be killed in a swimming pool; more people are killed by drug overdoses - are we going to ban all drugs? It's mostly those other people getting shot or committing suicide, anyway. There is no problem here."

So, I've been thinking about this a lot, particularly in terms of the cultural divide, and I think this, in and of itself, is a function of the different Americas, and of how the pro-gun-control side and pro-gun rights side evolved.

As a former New Yorker who entered the military, went all around the world, and then came back to New York, I think I have a handle on a lot of the different ways people kind of construct their worlds. And I think this can really be summed up in terms of "risk avoidant" behavior and "risk understanding" behavior. It's not a moral philosophy where one side is right and the other is wrong, but they're just..different.

I think of the approach to children as kind of really exemplifying these differences. In educated, middle-class, relatively progressive, urban parent circles, the focus is on avoiding risk, even if it means avoiding some good experiences. You don't let your kid walk to the store, or get on the bus by themselves. You don't let them carry a knife, or play with the stranger's dog, or get in a fistfight, or cook unsupervised. You don't let them talk to strangers. You know where they are at all times. You have very few children - usually no more than two or three, sometimes only one - and if anything happened, it would be the worst catastrophe you could imagine. Thus, any steps you have to take are justified.

In more rural settings, spread across multiple socio-economic brackets, things are a lot more free-wheeling. You send your kid out for hours to go play, and only go looking for them when night falls. The bumps and scrapes and even broken bones they get are a normal part of growing up. They get to have knives, and BB guns, and run out to make mischief and you hope they come back. You don't fuss much. You hope they learn to settle their own problems. You often have more children, and while you don't want anything to happen to any of them, if something does happen, you are not necessarily destroyed. You keep moving. The hope of the good outweighs the fear of the bad.

The first group of children, I believe, more often lives unmaimed to adulthood. But the second group of children is better prepared for it when they do.

There's a strong cultural difference between people who think that all deaths can be prevented, that there's a magic bullet that fixes everything, and that nothing you lose in the process can be too important - and between people who think that death is a part of life, and if it comes for you, you can't always stop it. Some of this may be a religious type of thing - no man knows the day or the hour, etc, good boys go to heaven - and some of it may not, but it's a huge, huge, fundamental difference, and I'm not sure that the two sides can really talk to each other without acknowledging that it's a cultural/regional difference rather than a "better/worse" difference.
posted by corb at 12:36 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


The first group of children, I believe, more often lives unmaimed to adulthood. But the second group of children is better prepared for it when they do.

In my experience neither has much bearing on how prepared for adulthood someone is. I grew up kind of between the two groups, growing up alongside kids in both, and plenty of them on both sides made fantastically, catastrophically bad adults, while plenty in both did fine.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:32 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman, having grown up around guns, been hunting on a few occasions, and such, I think it's pretty fucking bizarre that you find it difficult to understand why many people find guns scary. There are few things in this world that have such heavy consequences for inadvertent misuse. It's pretty damn easy to fuck up and kill someone with your car. It's even easier to do that with a gun.

And like it or not, there are a lot of really, really, really irresponsible gun owners. Almost daily there is a report in the newspaper here about someone getting shot accidentally or shooting themselves accidentally or a kid shooting someone or something accidentally. And you wonder why other people are afraid of guns when a lot of people who own them and are ostensibly familiar with the safe handling of them manage to end up shooting themselves or others accidentally, often fatally.

I still say the answer is mandatory no-fault liability insurance. You own a gun, you carry insurance to compensate anyone who gets shot by that gun. Who knows, it might even get the gun nuts behind single payer healthcare so their liability policies will be cheaper. Banning them outright is just silly, at least for now. Maybe in another few decades we'll be ready as a society for a rethink. Maybe not. TBH, I don't really care. What I care about is that we do something effective to bring down the number of people being killed by guns.
posted by wierdo at 6:29 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


"I don't think someone needs to know exact details of different firearms to set about a remedy to gun violence anymore than someone needs to know the exact computer chips in every file server in the NSA's data farm in order to set about remedying government surveillance. "

No, but they should know the difference between the terms "assault rifle" and "assault weapon" and why some politicians act like there is no difference.
posted by I-baLL at 11:53 PM on February 14


No, but they should know the difference between the terms "assault rifle" and "assault weapon" and why some politicians act like there is no difference.

I like guns and have been around them all my life and I couldn't define those terms. If it's one of those things where the answer has to do with the genealogy of nazi to soviet to modern military weapons, then I can guarantee it's not that important outside of hobbyist circles. The terms are used interchangeably today and both mean "black militaryish gun" of one variety or another. It's not a very useful designation for regulatory purposes, as has been well explained before, but as a descriptor it's plenty clear.

A question that I don't think I have seen been well answered is whether the mass shooters would still do their thing if the only guns they could buy were ridiculously non-military looking, say bright pink and with yellow flowers molded on the side? That is, is the Rambo-esque styling a trigger or an incidental detail? If it was a trigger, then you have a serious argument for regulating cosmetic features, but otherwise that's a waste of time.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:16 AM on February 15


“I don't think someone needs to know exact details of different firearms to set about a remedy to gun violence,"

No more than, say, someone needs
(what is important) to know (are) the values of a culture or the exact details of horrors of combat to start a war? gun violence. It helps to have accurate information in decision making.

See, you’re talking to me. This “some people” bullshit cuts no ice. I’m not “some people.” Does it sound like I’m talking gun porn?

MetaFilter being a community blog where any idiot like me can comment and it is sometimes difficult to know what is 'performance art' and what is authentic, I usually don't presume someone is interested in a personal conversation. I think you're just saying I haven't changed your mind about anything, but if any of my comments have offended or lessened you or anyone else's metafilter experience in anyway, I sincerely apologize. Personally, I really appreciate your participation ...not that it matters.

... Is this a conversation about preventing needless deaths? Because it sounds like a conversation about how bad gun owners are, about how not buying in to the idea of eliminating guns (apparently with make-happy legislation and magic wands) is wanting to promote needless deaths – and how not playing that game and actually trying to address the topic of violence and the FPP which was the failure of legislation to address the reality

Celebrating and mocking failed gun legislation or other attempts to prevent gun violence does nothing to help the problem, imo. It may not be "promoting" needless death, but it is dismissing it. I am 100% in favor of the conversation about what *can* be done to reduce violence and make society safer and less violent. I have failed to understand the 'child killing pistol grip parody', but it is probably just my fear of guns, emotionalism, and opposition to having information that is getting in the way again.

“There is nothing stopping (the NRA) from funding programs like Ceasefire…”

Nothing says they have to either.


By doing virtually nothing other than block legislation and mock Diane Feinstein, they've shown they only really care about their guns, and don't care much at all about gun violence. As the saying goes, "watch what they do, not what they say."

So again, if knowledge allays fear, I think such knowledge is a good thing under any circumstances even if it serves the argument of someone who takes a position opposite me so we can at least deal with the realities and have the same points of reference in discourse.

Again, I don't think knowledge about the exact function of firearms is the most pertinent information for stopping gun violence; an understanding of the consequences of gun ownership in terms of risk to injury and death of self and others is more important. To quote the GOP Assemblyman from FPP:
Like other opponents of the law, McLaughlin said the key component of any weapon is the person behind the trigger.
And this is why any gun with a Dick Cheney behind the trigger should be illegal. But seriously, if guns are unsafe with a sitting Vice President behind the trigger, with whom are they safe?

That holds true for guns or drugs. They’re here. That’s the reality.

Cigarette use has reduced significantly in the last few decades. Perhaps there is something to be learned form the decline of the cultural acceptance of smoking that could help to influence a similar decline in gun violence and accidental shootings.

Would you like to kick in a few bucks yourself? Here’s the website.


Done. I was impressed by the Interrupters. Looks like they are starting this in Oakland as well.

I think I have a handle on a lot of the different ways people kind of construct their worlds. So, I've been thinking about this a lot, particularly in terms of the cultural divide, and I think this, in and of itself, is a function of the different Americas, and of how the pro-gun-control side and pro-gun rights side evolved.

... And I think this can really be summed up in terms of "risk avoidant" behavior and "risk understanding" behavior. It's not a moral philosophy where one side is right and the other is wrong, but they're just..different.


Yeah, there is a divide, but I don't think you've got it quite right. In actuality it is "risk reducing" behavior versus "risk accepting" behavior. There is a strong difference between people who think death can be prevented (by putting a child-safety fence around their pool , wearing a seat belt, looking both ways before crossing the street, exercising and eating a healthy diet, not driving drunk, and working to make their communities safer and less violent, etc.) and those who simply accept death as part of life.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:47 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


But seriously, if guns are unsafe with a sitting Vice President behind the trigger, with whom are they safe?

You do realize that the gun doesn't actually know who's holding it, right?
posted by Etrigan at 1:30 PM on February 15


My point was that guns seem to be pretty unsafe no matter who's behind the trigger.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:26 PM on February 15


That's sort of a bizarre way to make that point. Being a sixty-five-year-old vice president doesn't imply any special firearms skill. I won't argue that accidents can occur even in the hands of trained operators, but Dick Cheney isn't an especially great example.
posted by cribcage at 3:15 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Agreed. Please, let's move on. (Though, Dick Cheney was widely known for his experience as a hunter at the time).
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:24 PM on February 15


“And I think this can really be summed up in terms of "risk avoidant" behavior and "risk understanding" behavior. It's not a moral philosophy where one side is right and the other is wrong, but they're just..different.”

Well said.

“ By doing virtually nothing other than block legislation and mock Diane Feinstein, they've shown they only really care about their guns, and don't care much at all about gun violence. As the saying goes, "watch what they do, not what they say."”


I think part of the problem is again, you like to associate all gun owners with the NRA or other fanatics even when I think it’s implicit and that I’ve made it explicit, that I, and other many other gun owners, don’t do that.

I read recently the “all men don’t do that” trope trotted out and mocked. And to some degree that’s valid. People do take that defensive position and disregard the topic.
However the topic here was a specific law that failed to do what was intended for lack of practical information and sensible thinking about enforcement.

Need I point out that all men aren’t rapists? Do I have to list each man I know that isn’t a rapist? Or is our point of contention that all men are potential rapists and guilty until proven innocent?
I think there's no question the NRA has interests that run counter to the vast majority of gun owners. If you feel the need to belabor the point, do it without addressing one of my comments.

“an understanding of the consequences of gun ownership in terms of risk to injury and death of self and others is more important. To quote the GOP Assemblyman from FPP:
Like other opponents of the law, McLaughlin said the key component of any weapon is the person behind the trigger.”


Indeed, your statement and the quote SUPPORTS my point that we should have policy that focuses on behavior. That’s what I’ve been saying all along.
Although I think any information, if useful, is pertinent. And any competent gunsmith, if consulted, could have informed legislators (or their staff, or their lobbyists’ who apparently write most of the policy for our representatives) of how easily the law could be physically circumvented.

“But seriously, if guns are unsafe with a sitting Vice President behind the trigger, with whom are they safe?”
Five draft deferments dude.

I don’t understand your question otherwise. I’ve had more trigger time than Roy Rogers and I’ve never shot anyone by accident. There are police officers who shoot people on purpose and on accident.

Plenty of blue on blue in wars and other times where someone shoots their own men. All that on top of accidents and suicide and so forth.

So how would one render them safe? Take them away from the police? Who does that?
Whether I’m failing or not to put ideology into the conversation my perspective is as practical as possible. Guns exist. Technology to make them exists. Any law would have to be enforced and typically by law enforcement with guns. Your question presupposes a massive sweeping after the fact change in what is essentially set in stone.

Though I understand what the ideology is implicit in that question.
And I’m not going to argue that it wouldn’t be a better world if no one picked up a gun. Nor would I argue that less AR-15s in the world wouldn’t mean less people would get shot with AR-15s (pretty much a tautology there, no?).

But the question of seeing it is far more broad and complex and will take a long time to accomplish even modest gains – particularly if it remains so narrowly focused.
Taking from principles in guerilla war – one of the reasons small arms are so useful is that firepower is no substitute for patience and presence. You can have a fleet of ships, planes, a battalion of tanks but if there’s no infantry, you’re not going to take ground. And if they don’t stay there, you’re not going to keep it.

We – as most wealthy industrialized nations, have short attention spans, low tolerance for casualties and a dislike for levying taxes. So we like the big spectacle – even in the negative.
We like talking about the biggest, best, or the most horrible and worst and address that rather than live for the grind.
People aren’t safe. Behavior is safe. Ritual is safe. Love it or hate it there’s a reason religious organizations are around for so long.

The way to make all guns safe is to codify all behavior around them into social controls that reduce uncertainty while maintaining self-respect and self-interest in all parties concerned.
That formula works with dealing with terrorism, gangs, the nutty militia guys in the woods, everything.

The way to follow that is to set up those social controls – in a variety of ways – so ultimately people don’t behave in such a way or think they require a gun in the first place.
You can’t trust anyone. True. You can trust the codified behavior though. Hell, it’s why I’m still alive. Bears, fire, the ocean, guns, nothing’s killed me yet because I follow a set of very simple rules, one of which is not to put my attention on the thing, but its behavior and acting accordingly.

Put in a more touchy-feely way, there are no bad guys, just bad behaviors.

Dick Cheney has had more than his share, granted. But the fact I don’t think anyone is irredeemable doesn’t mean I trust them to be in charge of anything.
(And I think “hunting” means different things to different people. Some people spend thousands of dollars in fees, transport, outfitting, (and thousands more in conservation efforts against oil and gas companies) to hump a winterized .300 win mag miles over shifting sea ice for weeks in – 40F with dog teams, parka, pup tent and big bag (to pick up pollution like styrofoam) to probably die trying to haul out 1,200 lb bear. And some guys like to drink beer and shoot pop guns at caged, de-winged little birds to be collected and prepared by their chefs. YMMV)


“I think it's pretty fucking bizarre that you find it difficult to understand why many people find guns scary.”

There’s a difference between irrational fear and informed wariness. There are people afraid of dogs. There are more people attacked by pigs. In fact, there are more people attacked and killed by pigs than there are by sharks.
Sharks are "scary" in a way that dogs are less and pigs mostly are not.
“Scary” is meant to denote irrational - present - fear. Look at the media every time there's a shark attack. They're all over it.
No movies made about "Babe" attacking someone though.
I can understand why people have rational fears of guns. I treat handling firearms as an unbreakable ritual in order to avoid accidents. And I enforce that on everyone around me.

“I still say the answer is mandatory no-fault liability insurance. You own a gun, you carry insurance to compensate anyone who gets shot by that gun”

I don’t have a problem with that at all. Given the actuarial tables reflect the difference between lawful and safe gun owners and the irresponsible idiots and it’s not used as so many laws are as a measure to tax and punish otherwise law abiding citizens.
Traffic cameras for example.

“Banning them outright is just silly, at least for now…What I care about is that we do something effective to bring down the number of people being killed by guns.”

Exactly what I’m saying.
But trying to delineate why banning them outright is silly, and what practical measures would be effective in bringing down the number of people being killed is politically contested by rote. By the NRA certainly but also by people who are, ostensibly, for gun control.

It’s the similar dissonance with pro-life folks who want to limit the number of (in their terms) “children who are murdered” but aren’t willing to talk about adoption programs, contraception, sex education and other social programs that address the goal but not the singular topic of abortion.
Is the form of the argument apparent there beyond the subject matter? I’m trying to frame this in a way that shows how the mechanisms work.

So, with the NRA, they’re the rhetorical equivalent of Army of God. It’s not worth trying to dialogue with them. It's a given whatever they say.
Other groups lay along other points along the spectrum. Can gun owners’ groups get behind augmented sentencing for gun crimes? Most of them can. (The NRA can’t but again…) Can gun control groups get behind that? A lot of them can. Maybe some caveats but sure, no one wants violent crime with guns.

One big part too is, again, most of the gun owners aren’t on the gun control spectrum. They’re not talking about guns per se. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for example talks mostly about ensuring the habitat for Elk. The National Wildlife Federation does that for all animals but you’d never know there were guys who own guns in the organization because the fight for conservation is far more critical (take away someone’s rifle they can still hunt, take away clean water, forage, and dump chemicals all over the area, no one ever hunts there again).
The civilian clubs that use guns most don’t have links to the NRA or gun legislation but their local Dept. of Natural Resources and outfitters focused on skinning tripods and field dressing equipment.

The biggest political money sink for those groups is fighting for conservation (against real estate developers, polluters (like BP), loggers, miners, drillers, etc. etc.) (… say, there’s a gun control position – destroy the forests and animal habitats) and stopping general harassment. Again by typically fanatic, no-compromise or minimalist positions like PETA (for example “monitoring” hunters by flying drones over their heads, scaring game off, following them home, etc. Illinois recently passed a law against it since it was pretty clearly harassment. And there are game wardens who enforce the law.)


“I sincerely apologize. Personally, I really appreciate your participation ...not that it matters.

It matters. Thank you.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:57 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Smedleyman: "So how would one render them safe? Take them away from the police? Who does that? "

Lots of places, actually. There's not really any great reason for beat cops to have guns on their hip at all times in most places, but we do it anyway. At least if they're patrolling by vehicle, they've typically got quite an armory in the trunk, so it's not as if they couldn't go fetch the shotgun from the back should the situation demand it.

I'm not particularly in favor or disfavor of such a thing, just saying that it is something that is done elsewhere and could be done here. SWAT has lots of big guns if the shotty in the trunk, the taser, and the pepper spray aren't enough. TBH, I'd rather disband SWAT and keep all the patrol cops armed, but the chance of that happening is about zero. SWAT is overused and is unnecessarily dangerous in the vast majority of situations in which the team is called out. Somehow we've decided we need to play army to serve misdemeanor warrants now, and it kills (innocent) people dead regularly.
posted by wierdo at 11:39 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I couldn't agree more about the use of armed force in general. But in fairness to police, it's worth noting that in many locales SWAT isn't some independent unit of guys just waiting to be called into action. It is comprised of patrol officers, and it's often a collaborative/shared resource comprised across multiple jurisdictions. So when you talk about the training and equipment necessary for a response team, you are in fact talking about your local patrol officers.
posted by cribcage at 12:03 PM on February 16


Yes, in some smaller jurisdictions SWAT is more like the volunteer fire department, just with a bunch of big guns, riot gear, and an APC instead of fire trucks. Yet somehow they still end up serving misdemeanor warrants, at least in the places I've lived that have multi-jurisdictional teams.

Where I live now that is large enough to have a dedicated SWAT team (shared between the city and county, but with dedicated officers), serving warrants in the most violent and intimidating way possible is what they spend the vast majority of their time doing. Maybe twice a year there's a situation where the SWAT team is arguably necessary. The bomb squad has more legitimate work than the SWAT team. Both, of course, are primarily in existence because the feds encourage it by giving PDs money and surplus equipment that they wouldn't be eligible for without having them.

Actually, come to think of it, a volunteer SWAT team would be totally doable here. Enough people own semiautomatic rifles, flashbangs, smoke grenades, and body armor already that you could probably round up a posse as well armed as the SWAT team inside of 10 minutes for the once every 20 years or so the cops actually need to play army.
posted by wierdo at 12:49 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


In my experience neither has much bearing on how prepared for adulthood someone is. I grew up kind of between the two groups, growing up alongside kids in both, and plenty of them on both sides made fantastically, catastrophically bad adults, while plenty in both did fine.

Oh, sure. There are always exceptions to the rule. But I think, on average, children who are able to start practicing independence early in life are more independent later in life, particularly in their late teens and early twenties - times when the more hovered over children are suddenly, to their surprise, cut loose. Honestly, though, it doesn't really matter, again, which is better - the point is more that these two schools of thought exist. Both schools love their children and want the best for them - they just have differing ideas about how much risk is acceptable with them.

By doing virtually nothing other than block legislation and mock Diane Feinstein, they've shown they only really care about their guns, and don't care much at all about gun violence. As the saying goes, "watch what they do, not what they say."

To show this from another side: many, many gun owners are very concerned about the problem of gun violence. But they view it from a "tough on crime" perspective. Many of them follow "broken window" policies. They want to get criminals in jail as early as possible and keep them there as long as possible. They want to keep felons from voting, because they feel it allows the lowering of laws to keep people safe.

At the same time, many of the same people arguing strenuously for gun control also argue strenuously against "tough on crime" lawmaking. They argue for second chances. They argue for lower sentences for drug crimes such as dealing - despite the fact that gun violence and illegal drug trafficking are currently inextricably linked. They argue that felons deserve a chance - even violent offenders who engage in gun crime, such as mugging with a gun. They argue that companies shouldn't be allowed to turn away people with criminal records.

It would be easy to assume that these individuals don't care about crime, that they care about the rights of felons more than they care about the rights of law abiding citizens. But would that be a fair way of looking at it? Or is the answer just that everyone has their own ideas about how to end or lower violence, and is trying as hard as they can within those parameters?
posted by corb at 7:49 AM on February 18


corb, the difference is that the premise that drug crime and gun violence are inextricably linked is false for the vast majority of defendants. Moreover, the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that the lock 'em up in a hellhole and throw away the key school of criminal justice is far worse in terms of recidivism (overall, there are exceptions and that's why most people not in the throw away the key camp are in favor of wide judicial discretion in sentencing) than a system focused on rehabilitation.

If it were about gun violence, they wouldn't be agitating in favor of hard time for drug users or other nonviolent offenders and further reducing the severity of offense required to catch a felony charge.

And since you brought it up, maybe you can explain to me how exactly felons having the right to vote leads to softness on crime. Are we really at the point where more than half the population are felons who have lost the franchise? I'm not prepared to believe that without evidence, even knowing how many people get charged with felonies for possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia.
posted by wierdo at 10:46 AM on February 18


corb, the difference is that the premise that drug crime and gun violence are inextricably linked is false for the vast majority of defendants. Moreover, the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that the lock 'em up in a hellhole and throw away the key school of criminal justice is far worse in terms of recidivism (overall, there are exceptions and that's why most people not in the throw away the key camp are in favor of wide judicial discretion in sentencing) than a system focused on rehabilitation.

And the idea that gun ownership and gun violence are inextricably linked is false for the vast majority of gun owners. Which first mover you're willing to choose depends on where you stand, and your worldview overall of the world you want to see.

"Lock them up and throw away the key", viewed from a bare practicality standpoint, does not cause recidivism - because if they're locked up and the key thrown away, with no potential for parole, they're not back out on the streets. They don't have a chance to reoffend. Now, there's certainly room to argue that on humanitarian grounds, but if your only goal is reducing violence, then permanently incarcerating people would tend to have that effect. But many people wouldn't go for that, because they find it cruel and disproportionate.

At the same time, if you could get rid of all guns in the country somehow, there would be little opportunity for gun violence - but, like the first situation, there's room to complain on human rights grounds, about disarmament of a peaceful citizen population while still maintaining a militarized police force. Many people likewise will not go for that, because it seems morally wrong and completely disproportionate to the cause. "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety," to bring in Ben Franklin.

I think that sometimes people really want to say that the other side is just uncaring, because it's easier. It's easier to think that the other side is just made of heartless monsters than it is to confront the idea that no one has the perfect idea, no one has it all right, and we don't actually know what to do to fix the problem.

And since you brought it up, maybe you can explain to me how exactly felons having the right to vote leads to softness on crime.

Sure, it's not even a hard one, though that's just one of the possible points of difference. Assuming 5% of the population are felons - a number I just made up, but the same would apply for even 3% - they make up just enough of the population to sway a close election - which means that if someone was trailing in the polls, but had a pro-felon stance, it could potentially sway the election.
posted by corb at 12:07 PM on February 18


Is "the felon vote" even likely? Felons in general don't identify much with other felons as a group, judging by the hierarchies established in prison. White-collar criminals don't care much about violent criminals, nobody likes rapists and even the rapists look down on child molesters etc. Many felons even admit to feeling like they deserve their punishment.
posted by Harald74 at 1:00 AM on February 19


Is "the felon vote" even likely?

Presumably felon solidarity is a peculiarly American concept, given how few other nations disenfranchise convicts.

I wonder if American convicts have some sort of simple way to self-identify. Some sort of colour-code or something?
posted by pompomtom at 3:03 AM on February 19


I would think that any candidate who espoused an issue attractive enough to felons to gain their votes as a bloc would lose a much greater number of other votes because of it. The only issue that might not do that would be legalizing marijuana.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:42 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I'm not suggesting it's a particularly likely circumstance, and I don't think we need to go into the minutiae of felon voting in particular. My point was more that it's disingenuous to claim that because people do not agree with your particular suggested remedy for gun violence, it does not mean that they don't value ending or reducing gun violence. It means they have different ideas than you.
posted by corb at 6:52 AM on February 19


First, the idea of a "felony bloc" is laughably absurd, and offensively so if part of the argument against reenfrachisement given the racial and class connotations.

Second, just to supply some numbers, it looks like it's about 2.5% of the US voting age population that have lost voting rights due to felony convictions, but of course that varies significantly by state, which is where any electoral impact would be felt. (source)
posted by Dip Flash at 7:29 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


If felons could organize as a social force, the paradigm of the prison experience would change and it wouldn't be the hell it is. That kind of organization has been in the best interests of felons from basically the first day in human history that two people were ever locked up together, because if they could crack the nut of working together, it would change so many things for the better for the felon's experience with the system. The fact that it hasn't happened on any kind of appreciable scale or with any kind of sustainability as a movement outside of a handful of minor outliers for basically all of the recorded history of human societies pretty well paints it as a thing that shouldn't be feared (and even if it did happen, it's exceedingly likely that mostly only good change would come of it).
posted by jason_steakums at 7:50 AM on February 19


Repeal of Missouri's Background Check Law Associated with Increase in State's Murders
The increase in murders with firearms in Missouri began in the first full year after the PTP handgun law was repealed when data from crime gun traces revealed simultaneous large increases in the number of guns diverted to criminals and in guns purchased in Missouri that were subsequently recovered by police in border states that retained their PTP laws.
via "The Strongest Evidence We Have that Background Checks Really Matter" - A new study makes the case for gun control
Since this is only a single study, "it's just suggestive," warned David Hemenway of Harvard's School of Public Health. It is "another piece of evidence that is consistent with the bulk of the literature, which shows where there are fewer guns, there are fewer problems... But you want eight more studies that say background checks really matter."

And the study isn’t perfect: Missouri also enacted a “stand your ground” law in 2007, creating some challenges in disentangling the effects. But Cook said he is confident that background checks played a major role because the authors tracked an increase in guns that went directly from dealers to criminals—exactly the scenario background checks are designed to prevent.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:35 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


"He Will Rule Them With an AR-15", Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, Esquire Politics Blog, 20 February 2014
Retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin believes when Jesus comes back, he'll have an AR-15 assault rifle in hand
posted by ob1quixote at 12:16 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Jesus can't get a full auto?
posted by jason_steakums at 7:16 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


What, in this economic climate?
posted by corb at 7:25 AM on February 21


Never more appropriate

WWRJD? Not practice trigger discipline, that's for sure.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:21 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Look, if you want ridiculous weapon-toting iconography, go big or go home.
posted by corb at 8:30 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


He's just sharing freedom bullets far and wide.
posted by Big_B at 8:30 AM on February 21


Look, if you want ridiculous weapon-toting iconography, go big or go home.

The DARE sticker on the saddle really makes it perfect.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:38 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


In registration/ban related news, though, there's an interesting blogpost on the results of registration laws, rates of registration, and effects of registration in Connecticut that really exemplifies a lot of the feelings around registration laws. (About 15% of Connecticut's "assault weapon" owners are estimated to have registered their guns as required.)
Laws rely, almost entirely, on voluntary compliance, with enforcement efforts sufficient for a tiny, noncompliant minority. If a large number of people to whom a law applies find the law repugnant—and a majority of a group, consisting of scores of thousands of people, constitutes a large number—than the law is unenforceable, no matter how many politicians and newspaper editorial writers think it's a swell idea. Governments that try enforcement, anyway, will be stuck in a pattern of escalating brutality and declining legitimacy.
posted by corb at 1:24 PM on February 21


corb: ""Lock them up and throw away the key", viewed from a bare practicality standpoint, does not cause recidivism - because if they're locked up and the key thrown away, with no potential for parole, they're not back out on the streets. They don't have a chance to reoffend."

Sure they do, they just perpetrate their crimes on the people locked up with them, the guards who have to guard them, among other people. More if they can get in contact with the outside world. And as you pointed out, even the most avid "throw away the key" supporters don't actually support locking every criminal up for life, so your statement makes little sense anyway.
posted by wierdo at 1:32 PM on February 21


corb: "Laws rely, almost entirely, on voluntary compliance, with enforcement efforts sufficient for a tiny, noncompliant minority."

It is my understanding that, despite the existence of laws that impose penalties for driving above the posted speed limit, many people, some of whom are posting on MetaFilter right now and wearing my socks, nonetheless exceed the speed limit routinely, on the assumption that they won't be the one to get caught. Yet many people do get caught, and the existence of speed limits is relatively uncontroversial.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:48 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Yet many people do get caught, and the existence of speed limits is relatively uncontroversial.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone knows what the "real" speed limits are in various areas and voluntarily complies with those instead, while the enforcement is more or less limited to that tiny, noncompliant minority of people who goes even faster than those "real" limits.
posted by Etrigan at 1:56 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


And on the other other hand, no one is going to "Round Up" all the gun owners who don't comply, just like no one is going to round up the speeders. The only loss of a speeder following the law is a few seconds of time you would have gotten to your destination sooner, and the only loss to a gun owner for registering, is, well, nothing.
posted by Big_B at 2:04 PM on February 21


Etrigan: " On the other hand, pretty much everyone knows what the "real" speed limits are in various areas and voluntarily complies with those instead, while the enforcement is more or less limited to that tiny, noncompliant minority of people who goes even faster than those "real" limits."

I'm not sure if you're trying to make a larger point about the assault weapon side of my analogy, or just trying to point out that the analogy wasn't perfect (which I concede), but in any event, it seems to me there's far more than a "tiny, noncompliant minority" of folks exceeding the "real" speed limit regularly, figuring they'll either see the cop in time, or not be the one in the line of six cars going 15 mph over that gets pulled over, etc.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:05 PM on February 21


Retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin believes when Jesus comes back, he'll have an AR-15 assault rifle in hand

Kentucky Churches Giving Away Guns To Help People Discover Jesus
posted by homunculus at 4:21 PM on March 4


The Gun Report: March 4, 2014
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on March 4


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