guns are special
December 23, 2012 10:51 AM   Subscribe

The CDC and NIH are strongly discouraged by Congress from funding any public health studies on firearm injuries. "To make sure federal agencies got the message, Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) sponsored an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, the exact amount it had spent on firearms research the previous year." Guns are also exempt from most of the consumer safety laws that improved the rest of American life. In 2005, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which immunizes gun makers against lawsuits resulting from “misuse” of the products.
posted by leotrotsky (57 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: We've got two open threads discussing this general topic already - let's keep this in one of those. -- restless_nomad



 
New Scientist: How to reduce the toll from US gun violence
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




Basically the gun lobby has immunized themselves from the things that brought down the tobacco lobby, health studies and lawsuits. Look for a bill to protect their right to advertise wherever they want next.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:11 AM on December 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Any industry that gets that much special protection and special treatment is not good for the public. How about some corporate responsibility, fuckers?
posted by theora55 at 11:11 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


corporate responsibility
ahahahahahahahaha
posted by Sternmeyer at 11:12 AM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by schmod at 11:14 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yet again it is a case of: only now that we need to do something do we see the scale of the problem, how deeply rooted and entrenched within the system these things are. c.f. regulatory capture, global warming etc etc ad nauseum.
posted by marienbad at 11:15 AM on December 23, 2012


Any connection between guns and death is purely anecdotal. Let's please keep our attention on the real killers: Video games.
posted by chasing at 11:16 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


In Colt's name we prey. Amen.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:19 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do Republicans ever do anything except make the world worse?

Historically, maybe.

Current bunch not so much.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on December 23, 2012


Gun manufacturers should be immune to lawsuits over the misuse of their products. Should Suzuki be liable when someone runs over a bunch of kids with a Liana?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:23 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Suzukis were objects designed specifically for killing and not for driving, then maybe that analogy wouldn't be ridiculous.
posted by palomar at 11:24 AM on December 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


If someone could argue the case in court they would be.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on December 23, 2012


Previously
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:26 AM on December 23, 2012


Happy holidays, Amerika: Here's your Christmas gift
posted by growabrain at 11:27 AM on December 23, 2012


That's the good thing about our democracy. We can change the laws. Let's do this!
posted by Windopaene at 11:27 AM on December 23, 2012


I don't think Suzukis were designed for the sole purpose of murdering people, though.

Hmmm... actually... so, you can't sue if your gun failed to murder someone?
posted by indubitable at 11:27 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Were there any successful lawsuits against gun companies prior to that law being passed? I know a few cities sued over gun violence, but I don't remember any successful ones, but I might have forgotten one.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2012


Gun manufacturers should be immune to lawsuits over the misuse of their products. Should Suzuki be liable when someone runs over a bunch of kids with a Liana?

Maybe not, but maybe gun owners should be legally required to purchase insurance. But of course making sure that people are up to date on their premiums would require extensive registration and monitoring. So instead of insurance maybe gun purchases could simply be taxed upfront to pay for a compensation scheme. That would have the additional political benefit of only affecting future sales.
posted by jedicus at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


When are we going to see the tide turn against the firearms companies the same way it did with tobacco? They have to start taking responsibility for the outcomes of people using their products. And if they won't, then curtail what is available for retail.
posted by arcticseal at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2012


"Anatomy of a Murder-Suicide" (Probably the most thoughtful essays I have read on potential solutions)

"Sunday Dialogue: Violence in America" (responding to the essay, above)

What Science Says About Gun Control

I have heard no gun supporters suggesting that easy access to certain weapons and ammo are *part* of the problem. Hardly a word. This is a complex problem, with many moving parts, and one of those parts is lax gun control laws. If you don't agree, just look at this article, where unreal, easy, and lax gun laws in Nevada result in the transfer of assault rifles to California. Our gun statistics, like our heath (mental, and otherwise) statistics and education statistics - compared to other developed (OECD) nations, simply speak for themselves - America has gone from a leading and safe light, to a sewer backwater in many of these social safety and welfare categories (among developed nations).

The religious right blame it on ungodliness, whatever. We are not going to solve this problem by scapegoating "the other", but we have GOT to look at all the components of what our society has become and keep a dialogue going about what we as a nation have in common - and in doing so make changes that turn our current culture's "circling the sewer" problem around.

There is too much violence in the media (recent stats show that 100% of 4-year-olds are gamers). I know what the science says about violent video games - i.e. that they do not lead to otherwise violent behavior, but there is way too much easy access by very young youth to violence and general lack of respect for others, modeled in our media. Just look at the sitcoms for kids these days - even on Disney. Parents are seen as fumbling dolts, with kids often shown as superior to their parents in interpersonal insight, and general behavior. Characters that are barely pre-teen are presented talking about love relationships in a way that mimics what adults would normally discuss. You can't stop the Internet, but like Obama says about the gun problem, that doesn't mean we just sit back and let these abuses continue to grow.

Mental health is still an afterthought. A person with a mental illness has that illness because s/he has something (temporarily, or permanently) wrong with the physical infrastructure of their brain. Just like someone with lung disease has something wrong with the physical infrastructure of their lungs. Yet, people are not embarrassed or castigated when they seek help for lung problems. We need strong *training* and intervention services for ALL Americans, as a part of school curriculum, from Kindergarten, on. Boys and men especially need help in this regard, as young boys have been left behind as we continue to improve our support and positive modeling for young girls (which needs to continue).

Bullying: it has reached major proportions as young people model what they see on TV, and too often at home. We need to address that with a vengeance. I see what bullying has become through the experiences of the kids I know - it's epidemic, it's everywhere - all over the Internet (on the swill-sight Facebook, for instance, where people publicly say the worst things about others, and it lives forever - with Zuckerberg and his cronies simply saying "that's the way it is". Pathetic.) Bullies are just as mentally unstable as the victims they attack, because most bullies in large degree are those who have at one time been bullied. It's a fact. We have to keep that from happening. The Columbine shootings were a direct result of two loner kids who had been outcast and bullied, along with their easy access to weapons of easy human destruction. Too many of the mass murderers, especially of young age, were bullied as teens - in school, or at home.

Family and community: We are now reaping the whirlwind of what happens when a "relationship" society morphs into a "transactional" society, where what one has; the neighborhood one lives; the job one holds; the schools one goes to; the car one drives; etc. are used to define the worth of a person. As America continues to lose (the recent recession is just the beginning) hegemony in the world, these "transactional" values will be slow to fade away, and left in the wake of that will be a lot of angry, disappointed, and frustrated people who will have their lives disrupted. Because of what this country has become, there is almost no infrastructure or even culture of support and friendship to help those people. Thus, anger and frustration without resolution. Some may say a return to godliness is the answer for them, but many if not most are going to to go in that direction. So, is the response from organized religion of all faiths be to write those people off, or find a way to crate a charitable infrastructure (either community based, or in the law) to help the increasing number of misplaced citizens in our culture? Are we going to retreat to our churches and safe upper-middle-class liberal enclaves and "worry" about "Them" - or, are we going to extend ourselves and take what even small actions that we can to help those who are different than us - in belief, race, creed, etc.? We're going to find out what America is made of, and we're going to find out really soon, because we're not going back to the post WWII days of easy accomplishment and wealth - we now have competition for those things, from those who are finding their own way to increased wealth, abroad.

Dialogue: There are no easy answers, but let it be clear (especially based on polling that I have sen about this issue) that more rational gun control is a piece of this solution, and the sheer greed of another commercial group is going to brought out into the light of day. (our weapons manufacturers, the largest group of their kind on earth, who use their money to buy policy among the sad lot we call our "representatives"). There will be strong disagreement in all of this as change occurs, but I'm confident that we're going to see a lot of change on several fronts that makes this a better country, with happier people.

There has been a lot of talk about the Mayan prediction of a world end this month that day came and went (like all the other apocalyptic predictions always manage to do), yesterday. What some people are saying is that the Mayans were implying that an "old world" was dying, and a "new world" was being born. Relative to what I wrote above, I hope this time, for a change, that one of these silly predictions is right, within the context of what I wrote, above.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


Well, if we bring up Suzuki here - at least they left the US market. So there is hope, dunkadunc
posted by nostrada at 11:31 AM on December 23, 2012


From yesterday: ....The front half of one of 2 lines going into my local gun show this morning...
posted by growabrain at 11:32 AM on December 23, 2012


recent stats show that 100% of 4-year-olds are gamers

I'm willing to believe that the percentage is high, but there have to be some Amish kids that have never played a video game.
posted by jedicus at 11:33 AM on December 23, 2012


I miss The Straightener. Hope you're doing well, Jeff.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Assault rifles will top iPad minis for top selling Christmas present for 2012. Source: my guess.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 11:43 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Insurance mandates per gun combined with a one-time buyback program, onerous licensing requirements, and new, steep taxation on bullets is my current hybrid preferred utopian scheme to get rid of guns over the long haul. (I love the idea of advertising bans, too.) It seems like the insurance mandate would pass second amendment muster so long as it were actuarial rather than punitive, but all the same you'd see a lot of people suddenly decide their insane stockpiles weren't worth the hassle and extra expense.

Breaking the back of gun culture has to come first; once the numbers come down the voting bloc will have a lot less power. But it's going to take forever to change this; we need anti-gun politicians to think strategically, not just tactically.
posted by gerryblog at 11:44 AM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It wasn't the Suzuki that made me run over those people, it was Mario Kart.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:45 AM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gun manufacturers should be immune to lawsuits over the misuse of their products. Should Suzuki be liable when someone runs over a bunch of kids with a Liana?

Depends on the outcome of the lawsuit, which would be decided by a judge and/or jury. There are no laws stipulating that you cannot sue an automobile manufacturer. There are laws, however, stipulating that you cannot sue a gun manufacturer. See the difference?
posted by Wordwoman at 11:48 AM on December 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


> When are we going to see the tide turn against the firearms companies the same way it did with tobacco?

Not the same. In the case of tobacco, the deaths are an undesirable side-effect of the product. In the case of firearms, the deaths are the intended effect of the product. Many (though not all) people who like guns also like the fact that their guns kill many people. While they certainly might not like specific deaths (like CT), they overall like the fact that they own these big bad strong dangerous items that kill so many other people - but not them, because they have the guns.

(Again, this is not all gun owners. It does describe quite a few gun owners I've met, and many more I've seen on the media, but I have no idea how many of such people there are. I think however that there are quite a few...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:48 AM on December 23, 2012


Proposal: Outlaw guns in all states but Alaska. Then all of the real gun nuts go up to Alaska and we get a good controlled study of the effect of lax gun laws, while the rest of the states sleep easier.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:51 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the case of firearms, the deaths are the intended effect of the product.

I've been struck more than once in the last few weeks by the difficulty in opening up a dialogue about guns with people who think they need to stockpile huge amounts of weapons because they'll probably have to murder you someday.
posted by gerryblog at 11:52 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Y'all know that when you propose all these "market based" solutions to gun control like insurance, you're really saying that only the rich should have guns, right?
posted by indubitable at 11:52 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dunkadunc wrote: Gun manufacturers should be immune to lawsuits over the misuse of their products. Should Suzuki be liable when someone runs over a bunch of kids with a Liana?

Suzuki is not making products designed to kill people quickly and efficiently. Adam Lanza did not misuse his firearm; it operated precisely as it was intended to.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:53 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


America does not need to have a dialogue with frothing at the mouth NRA guy. America needs to realize it outnumbers him and outvote him.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on December 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Y'all know that when you propose all these "market based" solutions to gun control like insurance, you're really saying that only the rich should have guns, right?

I want to get rid of basically all the guns, but it's going to take a few iterations before we can get there. We have to start somewhere, and an immediate full-on ban isn't possible politically and it isn't possible legally.
posted by gerryblog at 11:56 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Indubitable wrote: Y'all know that when you propose all these "market based" solutions to gun control like insurance, you're really saying that only the rich should have guns, right?

I'd be cool with that. There aren't many rich people and they're easily identifiable. Keep raising the insurance rates until the Koch brothers have the last two privately-owned guns in the USA. They can fight it out together. Problem solved.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:56 AM on December 23, 2012


Could smart gun technology make us safer? -computerworld
posted by vozworth at 11:57 AM on December 23, 2012


Many (though not all) people who like guns also like the fact that their guns kill many people.

I've been struck more than once in the last few weeks by the difficulty in opening up a dialogue about guns with people who think they need to stockpile huge amounts of weapons because they'll probably have to murder you someday.

Here in Wisconsin, a little less than half of households own guns. Those guns are largely for killing deer. Sometimes turkeys and, for the first time this year, wolves. But not people.

Lots of those gun owners voted for Obama. Very few of them are prepping for a solo stand against UN occupiers.

You need to have a dialogue with those people, not with the nuts. It's possible to imagine a country in which we can stop shooting kids but not stop shooting deer.
posted by escabeche at 12:02 PM on December 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Guns have a purpose, and some people certainly live in circumstances where owning a gun is a necessary and/or prudent choice. But, IMO, the vast number of people who are living in such a terrified state of mind that they believe they "need" a gun for self protection may just be exhibiting the mental illness we are beginning to say we're so concerned about.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:02 PM on December 23, 2012


Maybe not, but maybe gun owners should be legally required to purchase insurance. But of course making sure that people are up to date on their premiums would require extensive registration and monitoring.

Not necessarily.

You own a gun, you are responsible for keeping up with your premiums. And if you shoot someone and your insurance isn't up to snuff, the govt starts piling on penalties in addition to the payout you gotta cough up.

I hear so much fucking griping about the "Right to bear arms". Fine.

I'm bringing up the "Social responsibility that goes along with that right, and the HEAVY, HEAVY PENALTIES, THE FINANCIALLY CRIPPLING FINES that come with not living up to the responsibilities associated with that right to the detriment of someone's continued existence.

Nobody's right's need to be taken away. But you had better exercise that right with EXTREME FUCKING DILIGENCE, because the penalties for fucking up only START with taking a life.

Yeah, this is what I'd love to see.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:03 PM on December 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Many (though not all) people who like guns also like the fact that their guns kill many people. While they certainly might not like specific deaths (like CT), they overall like the fact that they own these big bad strong dangerous items that kill so many other people - but not them, because they have the guns.

Who here likes guns because they go BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM and blast the hell out of inanimate objects?

The idea of them being used against people makes me really uncomfortable, and Republicans are dickbags for supressing CDC research into firearm deaths.

You need to have a dialogue with those people, not with the nuts. It's possible to imagine a country in which we can stop shooting kids but not stop shooting deer.

Pretty much. I'm for a ban on large magazine sales, and an across-the-board voluntary buyback so there aren't extra guns kicking around. But nobody is going to want to finance that.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:05 PM on December 23, 2012


I've fantasized a few times this week about some sort of Voigt-Kampff test that interrogates who you imagine you'll be shooting when you buy a gun. Coyotes? Okay, have one. Liberals, your ex-wife, "people from the city"? Not today friend.
posted by gerryblog at 12:09 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


escabeche FTW. No progress without it.
posted by spitbull at 12:10 PM on December 23, 2012


But nobody is going to want to finance that.

The NRA just volunteered a bunch of money for its stupid guns-in-schools program, sO clearly they think there's at least that much available in the budget.
posted by Artw at 12:11 PM on December 23, 2012


Y'all know that when you propose all these "market based" solutions to gun control like insurance, you're really saying that only the rich should have guns, right?

So what? The heavy taxation of cigarettes is a deterrent to smoking, and yes, it's harder for poor people to afford cigarettes than rich ones. I'm okay with that.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:14 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


i think you should be allowed to buy combination of gun and ammunition clip you're prepared to have emptied into you at close range.

"Ah yes, excellent choice sir. If you'll just stand in front of these blocks...."

If you live, you get to buy it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:15 PM on December 23, 2012


Also: I think Mefi's coastal-megalopolis userbase should grok that guns aren't only of use in the Alaskan outback. There are large, large swaths of the country where people hunt.

Liberals, your ex-wife, "people from the city"? Not today friend.

This stereotyping isn't helping you. There are plenty gun-toting Republicans in my area, and all they want to do is go out to hunting camp, drink Bud Lite and sit in a deer stand. There's a few military fetishists, but these people are few and far between.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:15 PM on December 23, 2012


Vibrissae: There is too much violence in the media (recent stats show that 100% of 4-year-olds are gamers). I know what the science says about violent video games - i.e. that they do not lead to otherwise violent behavior, but there is way too much easy access by very young youth to violence and general lack of respect for others, modeled in our media.

I'm not going to say I disliked your post, but this kind of stuck out at me. If the science is against what you are saying, maybe listen to the science, instead of acknowledging the disagreement and then continuing regardless? I know it may disagree with your gut feeling or common sense, but historically, when science did that in the past, it was usually the gut feeling or common sense that was wrong.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:16 PM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


You own a gun, you are responsible for keeping up with your premiums. And if you shoot someone and your insurance isn't up to snuff, the govt starts piling on penalties in addition to the payout you gotta cough up.

You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. Most people don't have the assets to pay for a wrongful death suit. And if someone has just committed murder there's a good chance they'll be in jail for the rest of their working life, making it even less likely that they'll ever pay it off. So additional penalties for not having up to date gun insurance won't really help in that case.

It might possibly help in cases of accidental deaths or intentional killings committed by someone other than the gun's owner. But even so the gun owner could be judgment proof. I say better to get the money up front at the point of sale.

Y'all know that when you propose all these "market based" solutions to gun control like insurance, you're really saying that only the rich should have guns, right?

The alternative, which we have now, is that society subsidizes the real costs of gun ownership. Or, more accurately, that the victims of gun violence bear most of the cost themselves. Why is that preferable?
posted by jedicus at 12:20 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'all know that when you propose all these "market based" solutions to gun control like insurance, you're really saying that only the rich should have guns, right?

So what? They're the only ones with yachts too, we get by.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:20 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The rich already enjoy a superiority in firepower. It's called the Army.

All this talk of gun control without talk of military disarmament is bullshit.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:25 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dunkadunc wrote: I think Mefi's coastal-megalopolis userbase should grok that guns aren't only of use in the Alaskan outback. There are large, large swaths of the country where people hunt.

Lots of people in Australia hunt too. They need to get a license, but then they are allowed to buy rifles and ammunition suitable for hunting animals. Tell me, what can you hunt with this sort of rifle, other than children?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:25 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just dawned on me: we're discussing possible solutions to gun violence in a thread about how the gun-lobby have killed research into the epidemiology of gun violence.

And now they can wail about "Where's your evidence?"

Scumbags.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:26 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


+1 to Mitrovarr

Most of that comment struck me as being problematic.

We're not going to aggressively identify and treat (ie. institutionalize) people with mental illness and reduce bullying. The current focus on mental illness is only going to stigmatize it even more, and make life a whole lot more difficult for people who don't fit neatly into the categories that we want them to. The idea that we can somehow prevent mentally ill people from buying guns is great on the surface, but would require some absolutely appalling procedures and regulations to actually put into practice.

(I'd also take some issue with the assertion that mental illness can only be due to physical problems in the brain...or that this somehow matters. Yes, we should be able to talk about mental illness without worrying about stigma, but we're not going to get to that point by inventing fake science to suit our beliefs)
posted by schmod at 12:27 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm uncomfortable around guns. I've spent some time with them, fired them, and talked extensively with people who love them. I feel the same way about them as I do about extreme heights or fire or cars: I'm always uneasy that I or someone else is going to get seriously hurt.

That said, I also get really uncomfortable when people talk about outright bans on guns and very harsh penalties for people who possess them without hurting anyone else. Because I envision the results of such a system looking very much like the results of our outright ban on recreational drugs and the very harsh penalties for people who possess those without hurting anyone else. I see a lot of stop-and-frisk of young minorities in the name of rooting out illegal guns. I see a lot of very harsh mandatory minimum sentences that destroy poor families and condemn large swaths of the population to lives on the margins of society. I see militaristic sweeps of public housing complexes and neighborhoods where poor people live, resulting in a fear-based mindset that only makes the problem worse. In other words, I see us, yet again, making the people who are already the most put-upon by our system forced to bear the brunt of our own fears about the harm that may come to the more comfortable among us.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a solution to this problem that doesn't lead to justifying ever-greater violations of the civil liberties of the poor and minorities. Because as a society, when we make things illegal, we don't go after middle-class white people who do those things, even when those middle-class white people are causing the most harm by their actions. No, we go after the poor, and then when we arrest them and lock them away and ruin their lives, we pat ourselves on the back because we've "done something" about our problems. I don't know what the solution to this problem is. But I know that I'm very uncomfortable with what I suspect this solution is going to look like in practice.
posted by decathecting at 12:31 PM on December 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


dunkadunc: "All this talk of gun control without talk of military disarmament is bullshit."

I'm generally very strongly in favor of gun control, but Israel and Switzerland's experience runs contrary to this assertion.

Gun owners who have had lots of training (and ongoing reserve duty requirements) tend to be a whole lot more responsible, and training/reserve duty provides an excellent opportunity to identify and weed out people who are unfit to carry firearms.

If we paid attention to that "well regulated militia" clause, we'd probably be in the same place.
posted by schmod at 12:32 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


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