Even Nixon & Reagan and the NRA once dabbled in gun control.
April 22, 2013 5:26 PM   Subscribe

The ghost of gun control revisits the history of gun control in the US. (SLNYTOPED)
posted by Obscure Reference (130 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
George H.W. Bush's 1995 letter to the NRA renouncing his lifetime membership because of stupid stuff Wayne LaPierre said.

I suppose it was easier for H.W. since he was out of office, but it would be nice to see some of our current G.O.P. senators make similar conclusions.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:37 PM on April 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


Related: BackStory radio aired a great segment, Straight Shot: Guns in America. Fun fact: gun control was once the cause of white conservatives who were scared shitless by the Black Panthers' open carry policy.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:57 PM on April 22, 2013 [6 favorites]




Nixon backed some gun control! OK, then. Nixon also backed the "War on Drugs," which is declared a failure in the next video on the web site.

Reagan did a lot of things as governor that he later opposed. There's not really any confusion about this (abortion policy is the most widely cited example.)

Many gun enthusiast would have preferred to live in the Wild West? Evidence?

The NRA backed the National Firearms Act of 1934. OK. It's still pretty much the law of the land, e.g. the restrictions on automatic weapons. They don't seem to spend much time lobbying for its repeal. They do oppose further restrictions, but those are further restrictions, not those they previously supported.

The argument about the Founders is not particularly good. So the Founders backed national registration? That's a good argument for national registration being constitutional. But it's not a good argument for national registration being wise.
posted by Jahaza at 6:04 PM on April 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


In reference to qxntpqbbbqxl's post: The Secret History of Guns. Fascinatingly good read.
posted by mrzer0 at 6:09 PM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


So the Founders backed national registration? That's a good argument for national registration being constitutional. But it's not a good argument for national registration being wise.

Could the same thing could be said for the 2nd amendment?
posted by weston at 6:17 PM on April 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Nixon is also great because his halfassed approach to curbing inflation actually caused inflation. I believe his successor Ford has to resort to calling up GM and Ford to beg them to reduce the price of their cars.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:18 PM on April 22, 2013


That's a good argument for national registration being constitutional. But it's not a good argument for national registration being wise.

Most of the opposition to registration isn't that it isn't wise but that it is unconstitutional, which history would seem to contradict. If the argument was to shift from legality to wisdom, that would seem to suggest that opposition wasn't really about the Second Amendment in the first place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:25 PM on April 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


If Nixon Were Alive Today, He Would Be Far Too Liberal to Get Even the Democratic Nomination


If Nixon Were Alive Today, He Would Be Far Too Liberal to Get Even the Democratic Nomination I'm sure he would adapt. Which I think is a really instructive observation for people who look mainly to the president for our salvation or damnation.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:27 PM on April 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


The NRA has, throughout its history, occasionally supported various statutes which might be described as "gun control," sometimes on their merits and sometimes because they're perhaps viewed as the lesser of the available evils. I'm not sure that this makes them hypocritical or inconsistent; you can find similar examples if you care to look at any other politically-active organization of similar size. Although they may publicly espouse a sort of Churchillian, "we shall fight on the beaches" ethos, their actual actions are, as you would expect from an organization that lives within spitting distance of the Beltway, a bit more nuanced.

E.g., and this is without going back to the 1930s -- a time that has, as far as I know, no current overlap with the current NRA leadership -- the somewhat Orwellian-named 1986 "Gun Owners Protection Act", which is without doubt primarily a gun control law (it completely banned the importation of machine guns allowing only those in the country at the time, and specifically banned several more models of shotgun) and certainly not widely loved in many quarters of the firearms community, was supported by the NRA.

It cost them some supporters, I'm sure -- anyone who thinks that the NRA represents the hardcore pro-gun position should check out the Gun Owners of America, who are constantly nipping at the NRA's right flank, anytime they do anything that even approaches "selling out" -- but it's hard to argue that it wasn't an effective piece of realpolitik at the time that it was done. Occurring as it did early in Reagan's second term, I assume that there were some significant backroom deals involved, on top of the obvious compromises in the law itself (it protects interstate transportation of firearms and makes creation of a national registration scheme illegal, among other things).

I'm not sure what the lesson is really, other than that politics has made for much stranger bedfellows throughout history than the NRA and gun control proponents. Art of the possible and all that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:39 PM on April 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fun fact: gun control was once the cause of white conservatives who were scared shitless by the Black Panthers' open carry policy.

I once went to a talk by Ramona Africa of MOVE, who described the group's motivations for stockpiling weapons in their commune as being for the purposes of self/home-defense. While I disagree with her argument, it, as well as the arguments for armed neighborhood patrols by Black Panthers, make more sense to me than the NRA arguments for gun ownership and home stockpiling for the purpose of self/home-defense by wealthy white people who live in low-crime areas and who have a reasonable expectation of local police responding reasonably expediently and in a manner that doesn't cause them additional harm to complaints of home invasions.

It would be a harmful policy decision but would be amusing to see the NRA's (and other right wing groups') reaction if the Obama administration decided to reverse their stance on gun control, but in an evidence-based policy sort of way: the top, oh, 25 or so neighborhoods with the highest home invasion and/or violent crime rates in the country could be identified, and the Obama administration could encourage the NRA to get on board with gun giveaways so that every home in these dangerous neighborhoods could have a gun in the household for protection.
posted by eviemath at 6:48 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NRA represents the interests of gun owners in the same way tobacco industry lobbyists represent the interests of smokers.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:54 PM on April 22, 2013 [26 favorites]


eviemath : It would be a harmful policy decision but would be amusing to see the NRA's (and other right wing groups') reaction if the Obama administration decided to reverse their stance on gun control.

Black people (and other minorities) own guns too. Sorry. Really much more of a rural-vs-urban thing, than a white-vs-black, rich-vs-poor, or even the ol' chestnut of red-vs-blue (I live in an "economically disadvantaged" "blue" state with high gun ownership).

That said, let's try that the other way - I'll support any gun control legislation short of banning them (or effectively banning them the way DC has) that someone can coherently defend as "would have stopped Adam Lanza". So far, I have yet to hear even a single proposal that would have done so.

High capacity magazines? He didn't even switch to his secondary guns, a 12-gauge (complete with 70 spare rounds - And I have to admit, I didn't even know "high capacity" shotgun magazines exist) and a .22. Background checks? His mother, from whom he stole his arsenal, passed several. Waiting period? Again, he used stolen guns already purchased. Ammo purchase limits? Sorry if this sounds crazy, but 154 rounds amounts to a couple of hours at the range, so any realistic limits would make that obtainable in well under a month. And everything else I've heard would merely add time to other crimes; and I don't really think a few extra years in prison would do much to dissuade a mass-murderer.


Drinky Die : The NRA represents the interests of gun owners in the same way tobacco industry lobbyists represent the interests of smokers.

Aaand, Drinky wins the thread. Seriously, no sarcasm intended - I frequently find the NRA's position almost a caricature of itself. I suspect they do so to avoid a "boiling the frog" scenario, but still, they don't really do much to give the responsible gun owners all that great of an image.
posted by pla at 7:09 PM on April 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


What if ammo in excess of purchase limits was only available at the range, to be used on the premises?

Seems like gun use outside of the range (including hunting, although effective hunting weapons would likely use different ammo anyhow) wouldn't be affected by significantly stricter limits.
posted by nat at 7:17 PM on April 22, 2013


None of the proposed measures would have stopped Newtown, and more importantly none of the proposed measures would reduce the most prevalent type of gun violence which doesn't involve assault rifles or white school children.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:21 PM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


"High capacity magazines? He didn't even switch to his secondary guns."
-- High capacity magazines meant he didnt need to switch guns. I think changing mags is the best time for the unarmed to have a go at a shooter; we saw this in Arizona. The more often mag changes happen the more likely he/she could be taken down successfully (getting the mag fully seated and closing the bolt is easy for the well-trained, but not without practice). The Giffords shooter had 32rd mags, making rushing him a bit deadlier (66%?) than rushing a guy with 10rd mags. [Says the guy sitting next to a pile of PMAGs and a pistol safe with a Glock 19 in it, loaded with a 32rd magazine.]
posted by whatgorilla at 7:22 PM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


pla: "He didn't even switch to his secondary guns, a 12-gauge (complete with 70 spare rounds - And I have to admit, I didn't even know "high capacity" shotgun magazines exist) and a .22."

Precisely, because he had the AR with the high-cap mag.

pla: "Ammo purchase limits? Sorry if this sounds crazy, but 154 rounds amounts to a couple of hours at the range, so any realistic limits would make that obtainable in well under a month."

How about you can only buy more than two mags' worth at the range or at competitions.
posted by notsnot at 7:22 PM on April 22, 2013


Drinky Die: "The NRA represents the interests of gun owners in the same way tobacco industry lobbyists represent the interests of smokers."

Rachel Maddow had a fantastic segment last month making exactly this comparison, comparing Wayne LaPierre to Morton Downey Jr., who served as spokesperson for the National Smoker's Alliance astro-turf group. Putting a loathsome character out there as the public face of your organization is a feature and not a bug when your organization exists simply to deflect attention from what the real villains who sign your paychecks are doing.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:22 PM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Beat you by seconds notsnot! I agree the ammo limit would have stopped Lanza, but we need 1000s of rounds in order to be a good, well regulated militia and defend the USA from centrist leaders like Obama who want to make us all gay-married Kenyan socialists!
posted by whatgorilla at 7:25 PM on April 22, 2013


whatgorilla: "well regulated"

If only.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:27 PM on April 22, 2013


"well regulated"
yeah, like banks...

(or any other field that is supposedly 'regulated' in America these days... )
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:35 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


High capacity magazines? He didn't even switch to his secondary guns

This is an argument against high capacity magazines?

I'll support any gun control legislation short of banning them (or effectively banning them the way DC has) that someone can coherently defend as "would have stopped Adam Lanza"

Presumably, then, we should drop various assault and murder statutes from the books too -- clearly they did not stop Adam Lanza.
posted by weston at 7:37 PM on April 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


[Just a thought here - let's maybe stick to the substance of the actual link, rather than just the same old general arguments?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:42 PM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


More content? Here's a couple of links from a post I was thinking about making.

Modelled on the UK's National Rifle Association by lawyer and NY National Guard captain, George Wood Wingate.

Here's the 1871 founding of the NRA being announced in the New York Times.
“Membership in the Association is to be open to all persons interested in the promotion of the rifle practice.”
Lee Harvey Oswald's gun was purchased by mail order from the NRA's American Rifleman magazine. Here's the ad, and here's Oswald's forged order form.

The NRA's transition to "cold, dead hands" absolutism is signposted by the 1977 Cincinnati Revolt, where
The gun-control movement was gaining steam because of a large spike in urban crime rates. The leaders of the NRA decided to quit Washington politics and move the headquarters to Colorado Springs, where they could focus on outdoors activities and recreational shooting.
This enraged an emerging group of gun-rights hardliners who thought guns weren't primarily about hunting; they were for self-defense against criminals. Led by Harlon Carter, the hardliners secretly organized against the NRA's moderate leadership at the annual meeting of the membership in Cincinnati. Manipulating the rules of order, the hardliners staged a coup from the floor.
The Violence Policy Center has a longer account of the transition: Soldiers to Lobbyists and Revolt in Cincinnati.
posted by zamboni at 7:51 PM on April 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


This video could be much more effective with a better voiceover. Maybe a Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood type. This guy just sounds whiney.
posted by Big_B at 7:53 PM on April 22, 2013


Most of the opposition to registration isn't that it isn't wise but that it is unconstitutional, which history would seem to contradict.

I don't think that's the case. Scalia, for example, didn't strike down licensing in the Heller decision.

If the argument was to shift from legality to wisdom, that would seem to suggest that opposition wasn't really about the Second Amendment in the first place.

Some badly drafted licensing regimes have been struck down on fifth amendment grounds, I believe. Regardless, I think opposition to licensing comes from building a wall of protection around 2nd amendment rights, not from it being inherent in the exercise of those rights themselves.
posted by Jahaza at 8:03 PM on April 22, 2013


Black people (and other minorities) own guns too. Sorry. Really much more of a rural-vs-urban thing, than a white-vs-black, rich-vs-poor, or even the ol' chestnut of red-vs-blue (I live in an "economically disadvantaged" "blue" state with high gun ownership).

To clarify my obtuse earlier statement: part of why the most violent neighborhoods in the US are violent seems to be an availability of guns, from what I read. That's one factor out of many large and complicated issues, and probably doesn't make the top ten in terms of causes of violence in the most violent neighborhoods in the US, but the data I've read seem to indicate that it doesn't help. For example, I also read and hear from people with more relevant experience than myself that, as the folks who study epidemiology of violence put it, violence is contagious, including gun violence. My understanding is that the data show that putting even more guns in a violent situation only leads to more violence, not increased home or personal safety for anyone. Thus placing a gun in every household in violent neighborhoods would not be a violence-reduction policy initiative supported by evidence. Or basic humanist ethics.

But it's the sort of thing that sounds, on the surface, to be exactly in line with, even a logical conclusion of, much of the current any-restriction-on-gun-ownership-whatsoever-is-horrible-antiamerican-communist-fascist-etc sort of pro-gun rhetoric, which focuses on the supposed need for guns for self-protection in parallel or hand in hand with second amendment arguments. (As a bunch of the links above point out, this hasn't always been the position of the NRA, nor is it currently the position of all gun owners or people who would consider themselves in some way "pro-gun". It's just the militant, highly vocal position that's getting lots of news and swaying policy debates currently.)

But on the other hand, this would involve putting more guns in the hands of black people. Especially urban black people. And poor people. And poor black people. And poor latino people in some cases. And a few poor white people but mostly not. Which seems likely to make many of the militantly vocal proponents of the particular pro-gun message I noted above very uncomfortable, to say the least. Because those are the very people that those particular opponents of any sort of gun regulation are afraid of and think that they need guns for protection from. Well, and the US government, which many of them seem to think, contrary to all evidence and common sense, is somehow working on behalf of these poor and non-white and sometimes even non-US-citizen people to, uh, I think somehow oppress the white gun owners? (Like I said, I'm not talking about the beliefs of all gun-owners or gun enthusiasts, just the ones who are vocally, militantly promoting a certain agenda.)

The cognitive dissonance that this would bring on in those particular people would amuse me.
posted by eviemath at 8:28 PM on April 22, 2013


This is a perturbing line of argument. Are the only laws to be passed ones that criminals will agree to abide by?

No, but then laws against murder don't infringe on anyone's constitutional rights, do they?

Wouldn't the aforementioned measures reduce the overall rate of carnage, while not necessarily preventing any particular incident?

Considering that the majority of gun related deaths are not committed in the context of a mass shooting I would argue no.

Specific data on shots fired in gun attacks are quite fragmentary and often inferred indirectly, but they suggest that relatively few attacks involve more than 10 shots fired...[ ]...the findings suggest that the ability to deliver more than 10 shots without reloading may be instrumental in a small but non-trivial percentage of gunshot victimizations. On the other hand, the Jersey City study also implies that eliminating AWs and LCMs might only reduce gunshot victimizations by up to 5%. And even this estimate is probably overly optimistic because the LCM ban cannot be expected to prevent all incidents with more than 10 shots. Consequently, any effects from the ban (should it be extended) are likely to be smaller and perhaps quite difficult to detect with standard statistical methods (see Koper and Roth, 2001a), especially in the near future, if recent patterns of LCM use continue. (source, pgs. 90-91)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:40 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So basically the current gun control fever, much like security theater, is all about making white people feel safe without actually addressing any of the real issues that would save the lives of young African American males. This is all very sick given the fact that we have had a gun problem in this country for several decades now, but it took a bunch of white kids getting shot up to make it an "actionable" issue with the American public.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:45 PM on April 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


So basically the current gun control fever, much like security theater, is all about making white people feel safe without actually addressing any of the real issues that would save the lives of young African American males.

I understand that it's convenient for you to focus on banning assault weapons and the magazine capacity restrictions, but the the initiative put forth post-Newtown that had the greatest push from the White House, Senate Democrats, and even some bipartisan support was the push for universal background checks, which would put downward pressure on gun fatalities in not just mass shootings, but also in the day-to-day shootings that, as you correctly point out, constitute a much larger percentage of all gun deaths. But, of course, the NRA and other gun owners groups opposed it vigorously because slippery slope cold dead hands yadda yadda yadda.

If the Second Amendment absolutist crowd was really interested in doing something easy to actually help the, as you put it, "young African American males" who die every day, this would have been an easy, minuscule sacrifice to make, supported by (you can probably rattle off the statistics yourself by now) 90% of Americans, 80+% of Republicans, 70+% of NRA members...

Of course, if the Second Amendment absolutist crowd wasn't actually interested in protecting lives, they might simply use "young African American males" as a rhetorical device, and obfuscate by focusing on the more controversial gun control amendments that nobody really thought could get past the 60 vote hurdle in the Senate.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:55 PM on April 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


tonycpsu, why leave off the second half of his comment, which points out that he's not talking about assault weapons and hi-cap mags? He's plainly less interested in spree shootings and more in reducing the actual day-to-day gun violence.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:59 PM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem is with the Leader of the Senate Majority. Harry Reid's political life walks a tight rope in Nevada. However, if he was not so consumed with keeping his mug high profile, he would have made the correct decision to eliminate the Senate Minority Fillibuster on January 1st. It is interesting that his actions actually mirror his appearance. Old, disconnected, and eff you. Sigh.
posted by breadbox at 9:07 PM on April 22, 2013


He's plainly less interested in spree shootings and more in reducing the actual day-to-day gun violence.

Really? Because his earlier comment:
more importantly none of the proposed measures would reduce the most prevalent type of gun violence which doesn't involve assault rifles or white school children
implies that universal background checks (which was one of the proposed measures) would do nothing to reduce violence. How can someone who is interested in reducing day-to-day violence not support laws that would help keep guns out of the hands of people who've (under existing law) been judged to have forfeited their right to possess one?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:07 PM on April 22, 2013


breadbox: "The problem is with the Leader of the Senate Majority. Harry Reid's political life walks a tight rope in Nevada. However, if he was not so consumed with keeping his mug high profile, he would have made the correct decision to eliminate the Senate Minority Fillibuster on January 1st. It is interesting that his actions actually mirror his appearance. Old, disconnected, and eff you. Sigh."

You actually can't blame Reid exclusively for this. Several Democrats (I can't remember them all, but I'm pretty sure Levin, Landrieu, Boxer, Feinstein, and Schumer were among them) wanted to preserve the filibuster, because it increases their own power as a Senator. Reid was certainly not a champion of filibuster reform, but unless he's willing to yank committee assignments (which would endanger his status as majority leader) he really doesn't have a ton of leverage over them.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:10 PM on April 22, 2013


Why Gun Makers Fear the NRA
posted by homunculus at 9:44 PM on April 22, 2013




[A few comments deleted; please feel free to repost without metacommentary. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:15 PM on April 22, 2013


it's convenient for you to focus on

We were specifically discussing mag capacities which is why I addressed that particular issue.

implies that universal background checks (which was one of the proposed measures) would do nothing to reduce violence. How can someone who is interested in reducing day-to-day violence not support laws that would help keep guns out of the hands of people who've (under existing law) been judged to have forfeited their right to possess one?

I do in fact support background checks. I merely stated that background checks wouldn't have prevented Newtown, which is true, and that background checks will also not prevent the majority of black on black gun violence, which is consistent with my position that none of the proposed measures would really reduce the major component of gun violence which is decidedly not white school children. While I support background checks as a prudent measure I am dubious that they will stem the tide of gun violence in our inner cities.

Our analyses provide no evidence that implementation of the Brady Act was associated with a reduction in homicide rates. In particular, we find no differences in homicide or firearm homicide rates to adult victims in the 32 treatment states directly subject to the Brady Act provisions compared with the remaining control states. (source)

Now one could argue, as Ludwig and Cook do, that by regulating the secondary market we could make the background check regime more effective, but the proposed measures do not do that. There will still be a plethora of venues, other than gun shows, where would be criminals can get their guns on the secondary market. This is also consistent with the position that none of the proposed measures will do much to reduce the major component of gun violence which exists primarily in the context of poor urban ghettos.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:15 PM on April 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


We were specifically discussing mag capacities which is why I addressed that particular issue.
Yeah, I didn't see the deleted comment, though even if I had that context, I think I would have been surprised that someone who had a sincere interest in giving the most recent round of gun control measures a fair hearing would focus on two measures that were basically dead on arrival. It read to me like an effort to caricature the reforms by picking out the more controversial elements, while ignoring the main thrust of reform that had substantial support. I now understand that this wasn't your intent, and apologize for comparing you to a Second Amendment absolutist solely based on your use of a rhetorical tactic they often use in these discussions.

With regard to your support of background checks, but your apparent lack of faith that they'll do anything to help, the easy stat that I can cite from memory is the 150k or so per year people who fail background checks. That's 150k people who weren't able to buy a gun they wanted, even with our ridiculously loophole-ridden background check laws. When only 60% of sales are subject to background checks, and given that people who feel they're marginal or would fail a check are going to use the loopholes to avoid the checks, it's clear that universal checks would stop a lot of people from getting guns.

Enough to put a statistically significant dent in crime rates? That's hard to prove in advance of passing the law, since more background checks means more opportunities to measure their effect. But what exactly is the downside of trying it? When something is supported by such clear majorities, I don't think we need to have perfect knowledge of how many guns it'll keep from being sold to irresponsible/mentally unfit purchasers -- we just need to know that it will stop some of them, and that there's no downside.
that by regulating the secondary market we could make the background check regime more effective, but the proposed measures do not do that. There will still be a plethora of venues, other than gun shows, where would be criminals can get their guns on the secondary market.
With truly universal background checks, there is no secondary market other than the black market. You would have to fill out paperwork and clear a background check even for private sales. Of course Manchin-Toomey stopped a bit short of this with a loophole for friends and family purchases without a background check, but at least as written, the compromise did close a lot of the loopholes that lead to the current state of affairs where anyone who wants a gun can purchase one legally as long as they do so as part of a private sale.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:28 PM on April 22, 2013


I now understand that this wasn't your intent, and apologize...

Hey no problem, it happens.

I agree with pretty much everything you've said tonycpsu, but I would point out that 150k failed background checks does not equal 150k individuals unable to purchase a gun. It only means 150k unable to purchase a gun on the primary market. Now if we close the gunshow loop hole, well that's a good start, but I am dubious that the folks murdering each other in the inner cities are the types that get their guns from a gunshow. I am also dubious that those individuals are the ones applying for background checks. Which I guess goes a long way towards explaining my doubts about background checks being an effective measure against inner city gun violence. I could be wrong about this, I admit. I haven't been able to find any hard numbers to support or contradict my opinion either way. At this point I am open to sources.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:59 PM on April 22, 2013


Jill Lepore's excellent New Yorker piece from last year: Battleground America.

Shows how gun controls which seem to be impossible to pass today were considered simple common sense as recently as the 1970s - even by the NRA itself.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:52 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


21 August 2012, Charles P. Pierce: We Are Two Countries Now, Its The Space Between That's Scary. There Are Guns There. And No Laws
But as the invaluable Dave Neiwert — who's been tracking this kind of thing for over 20 years, at considerable personal peril — points out, this is more than quick triggers and cop killers; this is the latest in a seemingly never-ending run of domestic terrorism in this country. If it wasn't already time to talk about gun control, it's now certainly time to talk, once again, about the sovereign-citizen movement.
Links inside.

The Economist: The Right To Commit Treason
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:02 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It only means 150k unable to purchase a gun on the primary market. Now if we close the gunshow loop hole, well that's a good start, but I am dubious that the folks murdering each other in the inner cities are the types that get their guns from a gunshow.

You know, its not as if these guns magically appear in criminals' hands and everybody should be shocked about it. If people are so concerned about folks ("urban" or otherwise) getting weapons illegally, it seems like this is the perfect time to institute gun tracking from manufacture/import through to (but not including) the end sale. Guns used by Chicago criminals with records that were last sold to your gun store in Missouri? Sorry, you can't buy or sell guns anymore and a nice big fine. A pallet of rifles that "fell off the truck" between your warehouse and the gun shop? You can't buy or sell guns anymore and an even bigger fine. A boatload of pistols disappears between the docks and the warehouse? You can't import weapons anymore plus a huge fine. And if you get caught red-handed at any step of the way? Congratulations, you've just been handed down a nasty gun trafficking charge on every single one of those missing or improperly sold firearms, plus a hefty fine.

Voila, a solution that doesn't infringe on individual rights or personal sales/transfers, has no effect on gun owners' privacy, cuts down on the number of guns getting into the wrong hands, punishes people knowingly breaking the law, and should require a single, mostly automated database. Even better, it doesn't make for punitive regulations that affect the population (see also: the War on Drugs), but rather punishes those actively seeking to either make the problem worse or profit from it, or both.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:15 AM on April 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


So basically the current gun control fever, much like security theater, is all about making white people feel safe without actually addressing any of the real issues that would save the lives of young African American males. This is all very sick given the fact that we have had a gun problem in this country for several decades now, but it took a bunch of white kids getting shot up to make it an "actionable" issue with the American public.

That is the problem most (sane) NRA types have with the current laws. The law might have something good in it, like universal background checks, but then include something ridiculous like "assault weapon bans" where guns with maple stocks are OK, but ones with black plastic ones aren't. Or other silliness like reducing clip capacities to an amount that nobody manufactures. Because I guess when a rampage is happening, we'll all feel better if the maniac has to reload every 7 shots instead of every 10. And shame on him if he has an illegal 30 round clip! So the NRA has to advocate against it.

The other problem is that legal gun owners know all too well how much gun control there actually is in their various jurisdictions, because they are the ones who have to jump through the hoops. And they have a huge problem with being asked/forced to go through even more hoops, when the problems with gun violence aren't them. They follow the rules and they consistently get shit on, while the people that don't follow the rules aren't really affected at all.

Their problem with a national registry is the same problem we all have with data warehousing and persistence. They have privacy concerns.

It seems to me zombieflanders' tracking approach would be a great way to start solving the problem. The privacy concerns can be eliminated by strict paperwork retention rules, rather than making a national database. Everyone must retain the paperwork for their gun sales under penalty of strict liability. You *can* sell a gun without getting proper ID, but if that gun gets used in a crime, that seller goes down with the offender. If you keep the paperwork and it's all legit, you're fine.
posted by gjc at 8:03 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: "It only means 150k unable to purchase a gun on the primary market. Now if we close the gunshow loop hole, well that's a good start, but I am dubious that the folks murdering each other in the inner cities are the types that get their guns from a gunshow."

Well, as I'm sure you are aware, the "gun show loophole" is just a colloquialism for a loophole that covers any private sale, not just those at gun shows. So, while your point is well-taken that these people who might fail background checks will just hit the private market, that is exactly the point of universal background checks -- to require a background check for all sales, public or private.

The fact that people have to hit the secondary market is not an argument against background checks, it's an argument for them. We don't give up on enforcing underage smoking laws just because a 13 year old who tries to buy a pack of smokes ends up getting them on his second or third try, or gets them from a "straw purchaser". Every rejected sale due to background checks is a successful use of gun control law. Those successes are sometimes followed by failures, in which the buyers avail themselves of the many ways around the background checks, but you can't simply write off the 150k people who are turned away and say they will all find a way around them. People respond to incentives, so though some will try again, some will give up, or have second thoughts and decide they don't need a gun.

I am also dubious that those individuals are the ones applying for background checks. Which I guess goes a long way towards explaining my doubts about background checks being an effective measure against inner city gun violence.

Let me try to illustrate how flawed this logic is. Imagine that all our cars all have EZ-Pass style transponders that can instantly transmit vehicle registration information, which cops are using to try to track stolen vehicles. They set up the E-Z pass readers on a two-lane highway, but they only set them up in one clearly-marked lane. As you point out, most people driving stolen cars are obviously going to get into the other lane where they know they're not going to get caught driving a stolen vehicle. But in this scenario, where half the traffic gets by without a check, your answer is... don't bother monitoring the second lane, where we know most of the illegal traffic is going? Huh?

So yeah, maybe when we monitor both lanes, the really persistent criminals find a way to avoid that road entirely, or use a hacked transponder, or whatever. But at that point, the concentration of criminals avoiding the checks is much more conspicuous. We see them turning around, or trying to drive on the shoulder or whatever. Likewise, as we expand background checks from 60% of all sales, to 70%, 80%, and to 90%, the remaining 30%, 20%, or 10%, is much more densely populated with people who can't pass a background check. Suddenly the grey market (private sales) disappears, and the only things left are legitimate sales and the black market.

I really don't see how you can defend the current system. If background checks are worth doing, they're worth doing universally. Universal checks would lead to more people who can't pass checks failing to obtain a gun, and those who go on to obtain one illegally would then have to worry about the gun being noticed in a traffic stop or a search of one's home. There are obviously other reforms that would make closing the private sale loophole even more effective, and I understand that those weren't on the table in recent negotiations, but that is not a valid argument against applying background checks universally.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:06 AM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


If background checks are worth doing, they're worth doing universally.

This is silly and trivially disprovable. There are lots of cases where monitoring 100% of something isn't feasible, and there's an increasing cost as you try to approach that 100% mark.

E.g. we could probably eliminate speeding if we put speed traps every mile along every road, or require that everyone have some intrusive GPS beacon pinging away all the time, but we don't, because that would be expensive and obnoxious. Instead we decide that there's an enforcement level that's appropriate in terms of cost/benefit given the resources at hand and intrusiveness of enforcement, and leave it at that. We can argue about what the proper enforcement level is — maybe it's more than we have today, maybe it's less — but the appropriate level is certainly not 100%.

Similarly with firearms transactions, there are transactions between private parties that would be very onerous to insert a background check into, at least using the current system. (In another thread I discussed how you could make background checks suck somewhat less by providing an offline/asynchronous method for them, but we'll assume here that we're talking about a simple expansion of the current, shitty, online-only NICS.) And it's not clear whether enacting a background-check requirement would actually have much of an effect on the use of firearms in crime, because there are other avenues available that will still be available. So it's a high cost, potentially low benefit: it's unsurprising that a lot of people are opposed.

As I've said elsewhere, responsible gun owners have an obvious stake in reducing the number of firearms crimes, because gun crime (especially high-profile gun crime) leads to increased pressure for regulation, and increased regulation inevitably has side-effects on legal activity. There are basically zero gun owners who don't want to make it harder for criminals to get guns, but nobody has really made the case that making NICS apply to private sales would really have enough of a benefit to justify the costs.

Moving on to zombieflanders' comment: requiring records to be kept for private party sales in order to eliminate a presumption of complicity should a firearm end up being used in a crime is an interesting thought, although there are always going to be edge cases where someone innocently loses a record (i.e. house burns down, gets flooded, whatever) and then gets ensnared. The law needs to account for that, and just saying "strict liability, all the time" doesn't really cut it. But in general I think there's something to the idea. Virtually everyone I know already generates and retains bills of sale for their private-party transactions just to protect themselves, so it's basically just formalizing what I've seen to be common practice.

It should be noted that FFL holders — which is where the vast majority of firearms transactions already occur — already have very strict recordkeeping requirements. They have to keep "disposition records" for every firearm that comes across their counter for 20 years, and if they go out of business or give up the FFL, they have to send in their logbooks to the BATFE. So the law is already fairly close to what you're suggesting. I am not sure, in contrast to Hollywood, that the police actually use trace data very often, though, and we should probably make sure that what we're proposing is actually useful from a law enforcement perspective (as opposed to just seeming like it would be a good idea), lest we end up creating something useless like Canada's now-defunct, basically-a-showpiece long gun registry.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:33 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kadin2048: " This is silly and trivially disprovable. There are lots of cases where monitoring 100% of something isn't feasible, and there's an increasing cost as you try to approach that 100% mark."

But we're nowhere near the 100% mark. To get to 80% or 90% would involve private sellers filling out some forms, and maybe doing some upgrades to the NICS. Your example of speed traps every mile is silly because we're not talking about a massive amount of physical infrastructure, we're talking about maybe making an online system more efficient and requiring more sellers to use it. The idea that we can't do better and get much closer to 100% is simply not credible.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:44 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: "It should be noted that FFL holders — which is where the vast majority of firearms transactions already occur — already have very strict recordkeeping requirements. "

They have recordkeeping requirements, but rarely fae consequences when they negligently or knowingly sell guns used in crimes. Chuck's gun shop in Illinois is notorious for selling guns that end up in the hands of gang members. The gun shop that sold guns to Adam Lanza's mother eventually lost its license, but only after failing an inspection with 500+ violations. All the recordkeeping in the world can't help when the ATF isn't allowed to do its job because Congress hasn't funded it adequately (it's gone from $900 million 10 years ago to ~$1.1 billion, which doesn't even come close to keep up with inflation) or allowed them to have a permanent director. Surely we can do better than this.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should be noted that FFL holders — which is where the vast majority of firearms transactions already occur

National Review Online, that hotbed of liberal activism, calls a 40% rate for non-FFL transactions "plausible," but bemoans the lack of hard, recent data.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:13 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


As tonycpsu points out, there's a problem with enforcement as much as legislation. If you're going to keep on complaining about how shitty NICS is, then you should be pushing for improving it. If you think BATF can't handle things, push for better funding and leadership. If you think the real gun problem is people being sold guns illegally, push for laws that are proportionate to the sellers. Yet politically active gun owners seem at best uninterested in this and often actively hostile to any changes in that direction, and never provide any alternative avenues for doing so.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:40 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: "Yet politically active gun owners seem at best uninterested in this and often actively hostile to any changes in that direction, and never provide any alternative avenues for doing so."

This is the exact reason I reacted as I did to AEflwine's post last night. It's always "this won't work", or "I haven't read enough studies to prove that it will work." You know what? We pass a lot of laws intended to solve problems that haven't been proven to work before we implement them. We do so based on our best understanding of the dynamics of each situation, and while there's always a risk that they don't work, there's also a serious opportunity cost to doing nothing that they never factor into the equation.

You can't simply look at the downside risk of spending some money on something that doesn't work without considering that if it did work, you're effectively saying that those lives weren't worth the money that wasn't spent saving them. This equation is hella murky, but it's very dangerous to pretend you understand it better coming from the "do nothing" side than those of us who favor gun control do coming from the "try something" side.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:23 AM on April 23, 2013


As tonycpsu points out, there's a problem with enforcement as much as legislation. If you're going to keep on complaining about how shitty NICS is, then you should be pushing for improving it. If you think BATF can't handle things, push for better funding and leadership. If you think the real gun problem is people being sold guns illegally, push for laws that are proportionate to the sellers. Yet politically active gun owners seem at best uninterested in this and often actively hostile to any changes in that direction, and never provide any alternative avenues for doing so.

My first response to this is that this is pretty much consistent with the NRA stance on we should be focusing on enforcing existing laws more than passing new laws of dubious usefulness. And Joe Biden's response to this was "we don't have time to go after people who violate the law on attempting to purchase a gun" (I am at work and don't have access to my library of links on this quote, but I have linked it in previous gun threads).

This leads me to my second response to this-if the gun control advocates would stop putting in stuff that is clearly designed to primarily restrict and harass law abiding gun owners, such as the first background check bill that Schumer wrote that the Manchin-Toomey amendment was supposed to replace than they might not get such opposition. However it appears that they cant resist trying to make gun ownership more difficult as way to score political points against people they don't like (really-see some of the comments on gun owners in this thread and every other gun control thread on metafilter-it is a case study in bigotry).

The Manchin-Toomey amendment was actually a pretty reasonable bill and might have even gotten NRA support if it had been the starting point (it is not too far off the NRA's publicly stated opinion on background checks), had been open for debate on the senate floor (and this would have made it immune to the 60 vote majority rule) and had been offered without the assault weapons ban or magazine ban and without all the really, really poorly written laws ramroded through the New York and Colorado Legislatures without allowing for any debate or amendments or cleaning up the language to make sense. These laws are so poorly written that they can't be enforced and ridiculous work arounds like you can only load 7 rounds in a magazine regardless of capacity is the current enforcement scheme proposed in NY. The use of these kinds of tactics used to push through laws of dubious worth does not help your cause, strengthens the will of the opposition and gives real credence to the slippery slope argument. This is not how the process is supposed to work.
posted by bartonlong at 10:39 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't simply look at the downside risk of spending some money on something that doesn't work without considering that if it did work, you're effectively saying that those lives weren't worth the money that wasn't spent saving them. This equation is hella murky, but it's very dangerous to pretend you understand it better coming from the "do nothing" side than those of us who favor gun control do coming from the "try something" side.

We make this compromise all the time, in every aspect of our life. It is called the cost/benefit ratio and it is a fundamental part of how you run a society. Passing laws that might do something to curb crime but will definitely impinge on the law abiding people is not a good idea without a damn good reason. There is a reason for the bill of rights (all of them) and this is pretty much it. This kind of thinking gives us stuff like the war on drugs, the war on terror and other such nonsense. Lets try it and it might do some good is not a way to run a government-the problem is you never get rid of the ineffective laws. What you get is "well that didn't work so lets just try it HARDER."
posted by bartonlong at 10:52 AM on April 23, 2013


My first response to this is that this is pretty much consistent with the NRA stance on we should be focusing on enforcing existing laws more than passing new laws of dubious usefulness.
[...]
it is not too far off the NRA's publicly stated opinion on background checks


The NRA's stance, and their publicly stated opinion on background checks, are at odds with their actions. They fight enforcement as much as they fight new laws, and they haven't publicly embraced background checks in any form over the last 20+ years. Money talks and bullshit walks, so to see you amplifying the bullshit by taking them at their word that they've repeatedly undermined with their actions for a couple of decades is really disappointing.

if it had been the starting point

The idea that Manchin-Toomey should have been the "starting point" for further watering-down is absurd. The way these things work is when you have a bipartisan compromise, you've already made concessions on both sides. It was already a compromise position from a compromise position. Why allow it to be weakened further?

And the idea that the other votes on the AWB etc poisoned the well is even more ridiculous, because they were separate votes. Someone who supported background checks (even as neutered as they were in Manchin-Toomey) was free to vote for those and oppose all of the other amendments. The measures were not tied together legislatively.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2013


bartonlong: " It is called the cost/benefit ratio and it is a fundamental part of how you run a society."

And if you actually read what I wrote, it's clear that my problem is that neither side of the debate can claim perfect knowledge of the equation, but while one side errs on the side of saving people, the other errs on the side of saving money.

Passing laws that might do something to curb crime but will definitely impinge on the law abiding people is not a good idea without a damn good reason

Please specify what grave horrors would befall law-abiding people if we required background checking for all gun sales.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:20 AM on April 23, 2013


My first response to this is that this is pretty much consistent with the NRA stance on we should be focusing on enforcing existing laws more than passing new laws of dubious usefulness.

Actually, no, the NRA's stance is that there should be enforcement instead of passing any new laws at all, and refusing to even bother investigating the effectiveness of laws in the first place by disallowing any research into said effectiveness by any government agency, most notably the DOJ and CDC. The fact NRA keeps on saying this, and that gun rights advocates keep on repeating it, is at this point completely meaningless unless they actually take action in support of it instead of blocking it.

And Joe Biden's response to this was "we don't have time to go after people who violate the law on attempting to purchase a gun" (I am at work and don't have access to my library of links on this quote, but I have linked it in previous gun threads).

The only source we have of this is--everybody put your shocked faces on!--the NRA itself, devoid entirely of any sort of context or questions. And even if it was true, he actually has a point. Namely that, due to the inability of Congress to effectively fund the ATF and the states to empower local authorities and associated organizations tasked with enforcing the absolutely massive amount of gun sales going on in the country, enforcement and prosecution is next to impossible. Doubly so given the way that states refuse to standardize collection of data or conduct accurate reporting. Indeed, one of the executive actions Obama asked for was to "[i]mprove incentives for states to share information with the background check system." The NRA's response to Obama's list was accusing him of tyranny.

This leads me to my second response to this-if the gun control advocates would stop putting in stuff that is clearly designed to primarily restrict and harass law abiding gun owners, such as the first background check bill that Schumer wrote that the Manchin-Toomey amendment was supposed to replace than they might not get such opposition. However it appears that they cant resist trying to make gun ownership more difficult as way to score political points against people they don't like (really-see some of the comments on gun owners in this thread and every other gun control thread on metafilter-it is a case study in bigotry).

The Manchin-Toomey amendment was actually a pretty reasonable bill and might have even gotten NRA support if it had been the starting point


Really? The entire justification against gun control legislation is "because Chuck 'I'll do anything to get in front of a camera' Schumer was a meany so NYAH THERE" and instead of putting their big boy pants on, they just chose to sabotage the entire thing and not even bother working within a feasible framework? Never mind that almost nobody on the GOP side wanted to work on anything at all lest they get shit upon by the NRA, or that the starting point of the GOP was basically "nothing will pass." You do realize how awful, unsympathetic, and cravenly political that makes the NRA and their supporters look, right?

This is not how the process is supposed to work.

You're right, that's not how the process is supposed to work. The NRA and the GOP are supposed to act like fucking adults and not engage in blatant lying and rules-gaming. They're not supposed to sabotage the process from the beginning and blame those mean old hippies while puffing up their chests. They're not supposed to treat what they themselves supported 20 or 30 years ago as socialist tyranny (also: healthcare, tax reform) because of who's in the Oval Office. They're supposed to choose working towards compromise instead of "my way or the highway" just because their fee-fees were hurt by EEEEVIL New York elites. They're supposed to admit that a little bit of scientific research into gun violence may actually, y'know, help address the problem of gun violence instead of saying that everybody tasked with trying it is from the "wrong" organization (which changes every time a new one is mentioned). They're supposed to address problems with existing gun owners rather than suggest mandatory gun ownership. They're supposed to address problems with gun trafficking and the addressable problems of urban crime instead of writing editorials that parrot false reports full of thinly-veiled racism about hurricane looters in Brooklyn (we all know who lives there, amirite?). But they're not.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:36 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]










the Obama administration could encourage the NRA to get on board with gun giveaways so that every home in these dangerous neighborhoods could have a gun in the household for protection.

For fuck's sake, I am so tired of the same old canard that "Ha ha, NRA members hate black people, they would never do gun giveaways in urban neighborhoods because racism!" Except the Armed Citizen Project exists. And others. The reason that people aren't giving away guns en masse has less to do with secret racism conspiracies and more to do with the fact that guns cost money and there isn't a ton of funding for that.

This is why we can never have a meeting of minds, because it's way funnier to be all "Lol, they're full of racists, haha!" than to figure out why people actually hold the views they do.
posted by corb at 4:05 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


If background checks are worth doing, they're worth doing universally.

This is patently untrue.

Here's why a lot of people have troubles with background checks for private gun sales.

Because background checks are not, in fact, the ultimate end-all be-all. They are a lesser proxy for knowing who you're selling to. Because the ideal circumstance goes like this: Bob, from down the road, or who you work with, or the brother of your boyfriend, wants to buy a gun. You think about Bob's character. Is he a decent guy, or does he beat his wife? Is he kind of sketchy? Can you feel comfortable in yourself handing this fellow a gun? If not, then you don't sell it.

But the broadness of the country means that you do indeed need some other proxy for finding out if these guys are decent dudes. And background checks are a great fix for that. You'll notice many people supported background checks at gun shows and online sales. But why the bill failed? Because people don't want to have to supplant their "Is this dude a good dude" radar with background checks when it's someone they personally know. And also, because the Democrats were not willing to take a bill without keeping registered records of the background checks. Nor would they create a system where individuals can access background checks without going to a police station.

They reached too high, and they got rightly shot down.

And the idea that the other votes on the AWB etc poisoned the well is even more ridiculous, because they were separate votes. Someone who supported background checks (even as neutered as they were in Manchin-Toomey) was free to vote for those and oppose all of the other amendments. The measures were not tied together legislatively.

They may not have been officially tied together legislatively, but they were, in fact, tied together. It is insulting to the intelligence to act like they were completely unrelated, when they all were key pieces of the President's agenda.
posted by corb at 4:21 PM on April 23, 2013




Because people don't want to have to supplant their "Is this dude a good dude" radar with background checks when it's someone they personally know.

Right, because someone they personally know could never possibly have a previous felony conviction or fail any of the other NICS criteria. Forgive me if I'm not ovewhelmed by the tyranny of having to pick up the phone or type some information into your NICS terminal just to double-check that your "good dude" isn't a good dude who happens to have a bad history with firearms.

They may not have been officially tied together legislatively, but they were, in fact, tied together. It is insulting to the intelligence to act like they were completely unrelated, when they all were key pieces of the President's agenda.

There is no such thing in Congress as "the President's agenda", there is only "legislation" made up of "bills" and "amendments." What matters from a legislative point of view is that someone who truly supported background checks was free to vote for them and vote against the other pieces of legislation.

The original statement was that, had Manchin-Toomey had been offered without these other amendments, it might have passed. This is nothing but Lucy-with-the-footballism. Had the other amendments not been offered, Second Amendment absolutists would have complained that it wasn't printed on the right weight card stock, or wasn't printed with the right font.

You know as well as I do that A-rated NRA members loved their opportunity to vote against the assault weapons ban and the magazine restrictions to pad their issue scores, but somehow it's dirty pool to offer the background check compromise while also offering dead-on-arrival amendments on other issues? How the fuck can we govern this country if the mere act of introducing other amendments that are doomed to fail is somehow an excuse for not voting their conscience?
posted by tonycpsu at 6:54 PM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]




If you think Boston is a reason to abandon gun safety laws, you're a special kind of moron
Let's imagine a scenario in which roughly 4,000 Americans have been killed by weaponized pressure cookers between last December and now. I'm willing to bet Campfield would be fairly beside himself demanding we stop bad people from getting pressure cookers, and the idea of letting people who have already have a history of assaulting people with pressure cookers buy more pressure cookers, due only to our own unwillingness to check up on those things, would sound so stupid that nobody would even propose such a thing. Let's imagine a world in which, whenever a child finds a pressure cooker under his parents' bed, there's a good chance that child dies. We'd damn well be figuring out what to do about parents who leave goddamn pressure cookers under their beds. Yes, you can kill someone with a pressure cooker, or a spoon, or a piece of stout twine—but there's nothing better for killing people than an actual weapon.

This really isn't a difficult question. We don't let your average citizens have grenades. We don't let them have surface to air missiles. We don't let them have machine guns. We're really not all that dumb about these things, we know that when it comes to weapons designed to be weapons, there are certain limits to be set for the public safety. All these debates are just about where the limits are. Now, however, we're hearing that signing a U.N. treaty to help prevent weapons from being sent to terrorists and drug cartels and child armies is an assault on our freedomz, and that checking—even merely checking—whether or not a particular American is a criminal, is violent or is an actual known effing terrorist before handing them whatever guns they want is a bridge too far. In other words, we've turned entirely stupid.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2013


For fuck's sake, I am so tired of the same old canard that "Ha ha, NRA members hate black people, they would never do gun giveaways in urban neighborhoods because racism!" Except the Armed Citizen Project exists. And others. The reason that people aren't giving away guns en masse has less to do with secret racism conspiracies and more to do with the fact that guns cost money and there isn't a ton of funding for that.

The canard was actually "People who think that more guns will make neighborhoods safer hate black people, and latinos and immigrants and non-citizens, and probably poor people in general." The point being that viewing the sort of danger one is likely to encounter in one's home as being from an external source, "criminals", is, in my personal experience and based on the views of the sort of folks who end up being talking heads on tv, correlated with fear and hatred of out-groups, xenophobia, and, yes, racism.

It's a worldview wherein those who commit crime are defined by their criminal actions, rather than being a human being with a history, who is maybe part of a community (usually the community in which they commit their crimes, in fact), who has made some harmful personal decisions; much in the same way that those who are living or working in the US without proper immigration status are defined by that action, and only that action, in a worldview where it is okay to refer to such people as "illegals". It's a dehumanizing way to think of people, and, while dehumanizing people classed as criminals is not always co-incident with dehumanizing people based on race, ethnicity, or citizenship status, it's definitely the same sort of mindset.

But, and this is a big but, given the demographics on conviction and incarceration rates in the US, dehumanizing those convicted of crimes - less so if you restrict to violent crimes, more so if you put property crimes on a similar level as violent crimes (and even more so on whatever it was Lance Armstrong was taking if you throw drug offences in the mix) - ends up having a racist effect, given structural racism in the US justice system, where especially young black males but also certain other groups such as Native Americans are more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for many types of crimes, more likely to be charged with higher-level offences for the same type of criminal activity, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to receive longer and harsher sentences.


But good on the Armed Citizen's Project for putting their money where their mouth is. My quick half-hour online search doesn't turn up any overtly racist rhetoric or pronouncements from the Armed Citizens Project, it's true. I haven't dug into the backgrounds of the founder, Kyle Coplen, or the principal proponent of the group's other of two current branches in Tuscon, AZ, Shaun McClusky, or watched any of their tv appearances that I can find links to online. They have received some Tea Party endorsements for their efforts, though apparently no NRA endorsement. They do indeed seem to be looking at mixed-race neighborhoods. Though from the sound of it, residents of the targeted neighborhoods aren't exactly excited about the initiative - unsurprisingly, they seem to have a slightly more nuanced perspective than "us law-abiding citizens versus them criminals".

Also, the group is targeting mid-high crime neighborhoods in cities where they have a gung-ho local organizer (Copley in Houston and McClusky in Tuscon) rather than the highest-crime neighborhoods in the country. The reasons for this seem to be organizational rather than political, given that they seem to be a fairly small, all-volunteer organization. That's entirely understandable and not in itself indicative of any racism on the part of the organization or its founders and members. It is perhaps telling that no one in the areas of the highest-crime neighborhoods in the US is jumping on the bandwagon, however.

Side note: I'm guessing that Copley isn't carrying out this "research" into the effect of increased gun ownership in mid-high crime neighborhoods as part of his degree work. This would never pass a research ethics review.
posted by eviemath at 2:36 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Rude Pundit: Our Gun Laws Don't Care If You Might Be a Terrorist
posted by homunculus at 3:24 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]












The Republican Party: now officially too nutty for the NRA:
Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas have introduced a bill that would prohibit every government agency -- except the military -- from buying more ammunition each month, than the monthly average it purchased from 2001 to 2009.

The lawmakers say the Obama administration is buying up exceedingly high levels of ammunition in an attempt to limit the number of bullets the American public have access to on the open marketplace....
The NRA's response:
"Skepticism of government is healthy. But today, there are more than enough actual threats to the Second Amendment to keep gun owners busy... there is no need to invent additional threats to our rights," the gun group wrote.
(Of course, their response is entirely consistent with their role as shills for the guns & ammo industry.)
posted by tonycpsu at 7:16 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]




Shooting Holes In A Theory
posted by homunculus at 12:39 PM on April 29, 2013










The one quote that says it all about Obama and the GOP
Rick Buckman, 52, a Republican and an electrical engineer from Dallas, Pa., said that while he supported stricter gun legislation, he did not necessarily approve of the president’s approach. “I was really ticked off that the law didn’t pass,” Mr. Buckman said. “But I thought it was wrong of President Obama to get in front of the public and use people who had been damaged by gun violence as props.”
Obviously one doesn’t want to read too much into what one voter says, but this is just perfect. This Republican supports stricter gun laws, and was “ticked off” that they didn’t pass. But to this voter, when Obama gets out there and advocates for what that Republican supports, he’s just grandstanding. What’s more, he’s been seduced by a ridiculous and lurid line pushed by far right Senators and right wing media — that there’s something nefarious and cynical about Obama’s alliance with Newtown families in pushing for gun control, even though better gun laws are exactly what those families want, and even though they themselves first contacted the White House to get involved in the campaign to push for it.

This goes directly to the ongoing debate about the limits of presidential power in moving Congress and to all the pundit sneering about Obama’s insistence that a “permission structure” is needed for GOP officials to compromise with the president. As Brian Beutler put it yesterday, Obama is right: Nothing will happen unless he can “create atmospheric and procedural and rhetorical conditions that might allow House Republicans to give Obama something he wants without appearing to have consorted with him in any way.” He need to “find a sort of legislative wormhole connecting the House GOP’s irrational universe and the universe everyone else inhabits.” GOP Senator Pat Toomey has also confirmed a variation of this, i.e., that Republican voters across the country won’t let their representatives compromise with the president.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:35 AM on May 2, 2013


I found the angrily calling them out on their bullshit approach he displayed after the bill failed a lot more impressive than anything else he has tried. Maybe try that before the vote next time.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:42 AM on May 2, 2013


FWIW, there have been at least seven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) accidental shooting deaths and injuries of children in the last three days--and those are just the ones that made it onto the local news--bringing the 30-day total to 13 young kids shot accidentally by other kids and the current year's total to 26.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:35 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, see I'd like Obama to angrily talk about that more. Don't look for some secret handshake to make them go along with you, grab their arm and twist it.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:46 AM on May 2, 2013


Drinky Die: "Yeah, see I'd like Obama to angrily talk about that more. Don't look for some secret handshake to make them go along with you, grab their arm and twist it."

"Grab their arm and twist it" sounds like a lot of people who think Obama just needs to be more like LBJ, forgetting that LBJ had people across the aisle he could work with, and didn't have to deal with nearly as many filibusters. The Green Lantern theory of the Presidency has been pretty widely discredited, yet what you're saying here seems to be leaning in that direction.

While I very much agree on the merits that Obama should try to do something, the idea that he could actually make a difference on this issue in the wake of the defeat of Manchin-Toomey is pretty far-fetched. He could literally get on TV tonight and give everyone in the U.S. the personal cell phone numbers for Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Heidi Heitkamp, and the rest of the recalcitrant pro-gun Dems, along with those of any number of Republicans, and it wouldn't mean a thing. These assholes only have to answer to their red-state constituents, and they only fear the gun issue from their right.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:09 AM on May 2, 2013


When you have a policy with 90% support in question, you can throw the usual rules out the window. Even the red staters aren't really on board.

Senators Face ‘Serious Backlash’ After Failure to Support Background Checks: In Ohio, Republican junior Senator Rob Portman plunged a net 18 points in approval, from 35% approval and 25% disapproval to just 26% approval with 34% disapproval (net -8). Portman lost support across the board. No one seems to approve of the Ohio Republican. Some of his loss in approval among Republicans is more likely tied to his support for gay marriage, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.


When your opponent is reeling you might as well go for the knockout.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2013


Drinky Die: "When you have a policy with 90% support in question, you can throw the usual rules out the window."

But it was 90% before the Manchin-Toomey vote...

When your opponent is reeling you might as well go for the knockout.

Portman doesn't have to worry about re-election until 2016. Nobody's going to remember this vote then.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:27 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


...And, of course, people like Portman and Ayotte signed onto the "bipartisan alternative" to Manchin-Toomey (???) which had literally no teeth, but sure sounds good when you explain it to voters who don't know any better (which is most of them.)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:29 AM on May 2, 2013


But it was 90% before the Manchin-Toomey vote...

And the crash in the approval ratings for these Senators didn't come until the vote failed and Obama called attention to it by getting angry. It's not about tossing him out of office right now, it's about letting him know what will eventually do so if he doesn't change his mind for the next vote.

There is no political backlash to worry about for Obama for sticking up for a policy this popular. It doesn't matter if it hurts Republican fee-fees because they still have to answer to the voters ultimately. Going on the offensive when you have the people with you is a better choice than finding some snake charmer tune to convince Congressmen to go along with you without going along with you. The conservative base is never fooled by that stuff.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:35 AM on May 2, 2013


There is no political backlash to worry about for Obama for sticking up for a policy this popular.

For Obama? No. For risk-averse Democrats worried about losing the Senate in 2014?

I'm with you, man, but we go to war with the Majority Leader and red state Democrats we have, not the ones we might like to have.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:37 AM on May 2, 2013


For Obama? No. For risk-averse Democrats worried about losing the Senate in 2014?

The people on the wrong side of a policy this popular have a lot more to worry about. Even in places like Alaska and Arizona Senators are taking a hit for opposing the bill. The polling is pretty clear on this one.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:40 AM on May 2, 2013


Yeah, but background checking is an inch deep, mile wide issue for most voters. A lot of people support universal background checks, and they'll show their disapproval in the wake of a vote on the issue, but do you think it really flips someone's vote 18 or 42 months from now?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:43 AM on May 2, 2013


It doesn't matter if it doesn't flip their vote entirely, it makes them less likely to vote for someone who opposed the bill without backlash for the bill supporters.

If you can't be aggressive for a 90% policy, there is literally nothing you could possibly ever be aggressive for.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:46 AM on May 2, 2013


It doesn't matter if it doesn't flip their vote entirely, it makes them less likely to vote for someone who opposed the bill without backlash for the bill supporters.

These people have smart consultants who've figured a lot of that shit out. I'm not saying nobody ever loses their seat on a bad vote, but in Ayotte's town hall meeting, you saw how they're going to play the game. "I voted for this other amendment that you know nothing about, so I"ll tell you how much better it was than the one I didn't vote for." It's not easy to demonstrate that she's full of shit to people who aren't paying attention.

If you can't be aggressive for a 90% policy, there is literally nothing you could possibly ever be aggressive for.

Yet here we are...
posted by tonycpsu at 12:02 PM on May 2, 2013


They have consultants who often get shit very wrong. That Ayotte town hall is playing very poorly.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:04 PM on May 2, 2013


They have consultants who often get shit very wrong. That Ayotte town hall is playing very poorly.

Like I said, we'll see how it looks when she's up for re-election. I think she's in deep shit for a number of other problematic votes/positions, so I think she's very likely to get booted if the Democrats run a half-decent candidate against her, but I can't imagine her Manchin-Toomey vote being a major reason she loses.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:07 PM on May 2, 2013


It doesn't have to be a huge factor to justify Dems taking an aggressive stance on it. A strong majority of Republicans in her state support the background checks so even in the primary being obstinate on this won't do her any good.

You know what I find unlikely? That Obama will be able to find any way to allow the Republicans to vote with him without the conservative base noticing. I think no matter what crazy ass plan he comes up with Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge will sniff it out in a heartbeat and tell the base to be outraged. So, I think a strategy focused on making sure the 90% is angry at the Republicans is better than looking for an impossible plan to make the 10% happy.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:16 PM on May 2, 2013


I'm not saying nobody ever loses their seat on a bad vote, but in Ayotte's town hall meeting, you saw how they're going to play the game.

Speaking of Ayotte: GOP Senator: I Voted Against Equal Pay For Women Because We Have Enough Laws
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on May 2, 2013


FWIW, there have been at least seven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) accidental shooting deaths and injuries of children in the last three days

The Worst Quote Of The Day
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poll: More Republicans think armed revolution is needed, truth about Sandy Hook school shooting being covered up

One Of Us Is Crazy And I Don't Think It's Me
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on May 2, 2013




Jon Chait at New York has a pair of articles up: Obama, 'Leadership,' and Magical Thinking and What Obama Can Actually Do About Congress.

in summation: the Rs in Congress know that by passing bills, they give the President victories (even watered-down ones). So in order to deny any accomplishment-seeking for the Administration, the Rs are stonewalling. It's a "structural" problem, not a "narrative" problem. Obama has this figured out, and needs to not rub their faces in their own recalcitrance.

I agree wholeheartedly with Chait! Don't talk to Congress about its inaction - talk to the voters. Remind the voters over and over again that this Congress is dragging its feet on everything from "should we even let a measure out of committee to come to a floor vote" to "can we fill a vital Judicial appointment" to "maybe we don't need to manipulate the rules to maintain a hold on power."

But I doubt "low-information voters" will get it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:12 AM on May 3, 2013


The NRA Defies The Odds
posted by homunculus at 1:45 PM on May 3, 2013




homunculus : The NRA Defies The Odds

Interesting piece. Gotta admit, the new head of the NRA really seems like about as much of a caricature as they could have found.

That said, I have to wonder which orifice the author pulled this gem out of: "and whom, on the issue of race, you don't exactly need the Enigma Machine to decode". He mentioned nothing whatsoever even remotely suggesting such a conclusion - Unless we now accept stereotyping all Southerners as shorthand for "racists".
posted by pla at 4:54 PM on May 3, 2013


pla: "Unless we now accept stereotyping all Southerners as shorthand for "racists"."

Southerners? No. Civil War apologists? Absolutely.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:50 PM on May 3, 2013


He mentioned nothing whatsoever even remotely suggesting such a conclusion

I disagree. He suggested it by making a point of referring to the Civil War as the 'The War of Northern Aggression' and by calling Obama a 'fake president', echoing the Tea Party rhetoric which often was racist. I'd say it's not certain, but he's given some hints.
posted by homunculus at 6:15 PM on May 3, 2013








Bill Moyers' new episode was about gun control. Here is a clip from last year on the subject where Bill says it best. The thing I love about Bill is that the people who are on his show SHOULD be the very same people running the world.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:00 AM on May 5, 2013








The Most Bogus Argument Against New Gun Laws
As both sides in the gun debate mobilize for a possible second act on Capitol Hill, could we please retire the argument that taking step X on guns wouldn’t have prevented tragedy Y?
[...]
[E]xpanded background checks might have saved the life of Ricky Byrdsong, the former Northwestern University basketball coach killed by white supremacist Benjamin Nathan Smith in 1999. Smith tried to buy a gun from a licensed dealer in June 1999 but was blocked because of a domestic violence restraining order against him. The next month he bought one from an unlicensed dealer and used it to target blacks, Asians and orthodox Jews in a three-day, multi-city rampage. Nine were wounded and two died, among them Byrdsong, who was shot multiple times while walking with two of his children.

And, yes, expanded background checks might have kept Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from killing 13 people and themselves in the 1999 Columbine massacre. Three of the four guns the two 17-year-olds used in the shootings were purchased for them at a gun show by Robyn Anderson, then 18. “I would not have bought a gun for Eric and Dylan if I had had to give any personal information or submit to any kind of check at all,” Anderson said in a statement in 2000. “I wish a law requiring background checks had been in effect at the time.”

An expanded background check system is only as good as its database. New proposed federal laws and President Obama’s executive actions are aimed at making sure that mental illness is better detected, reported and treated, and that states have the money to enter mental health adjudications, felony records and domestic violence restraining orders into the system. In fact, the Manchin-Toomey plan would have given states grants to upgrade their databases.

Would this be helpful? Ask the survivors of 32 people killed six years ago at Virginia Tech. Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter, was mentally ill and had been adjudicated as dangerous. But his records weren’t entered into the system, so he passed a background check. Virginia fixed its reporting system, but many states still have gaps.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:04 AM on May 6, 2013


When Stories Collide
Perhaps not surprisingly, in Gilkerson’s car police found eight 40-round magazines for the AK-47 and a bunch of militia and terrorist related literature.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer released photographs of the different books and pamphlets. And here’s where it gets even more interesting and, yes, more disturbing. TPM Reader JL notes that the 7th slide in the slideshow shows what appears to be a course manual for the Fighting Rifle course taught by a Tennessee outfit called Tactical Response.
Now, ring a bell?

Well, remember back not long after the Newtown massacre, a crazy gun guy down in Tennessee who was the CEO of a ‘tactical’ firearms training operation said he was “gonna start killing people” if President Obama issued an executive order on guns. Well, that was James Yeager, CEO of, yep, Tactical Response.
[...]
A short time later, Yeager clarified that he wouldn't murder anybody “unless it’s necessary.” But that apparently wasn't enough for the State of Tennessee which suspended Yeager’s carry permit because his comments suggested a “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public,” which sounds like a reasonable enough position.

Not to worry though, Yeager got his permit back last month.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:06 AM on May 6, 2013


Wanted: Adult Supervision for the Gun Nuts
Normally, I'd brush this off as nothing more than a guy blowing off steam in front of a friendly audience. And to a large extent, I do. Still, Ed is right. If an imam in Brooklyn toured the country saying stuff like this, no one would just laugh it off. Ditto for a Black Panther or the head of the American communist party. Fox News would go ballistic.

This kind of stuff has gone well beyond the stage of being a joke or merely a way to rally the troops, and it's long past time for some of the alleged adults in the conservative movement to rein it in. Enough's enough. Guns have never been a hot button for me in the past, but the NRA is sure working hard to make them into one.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:42 AM on May 6, 2013








The Rude Pundit: Wayne LaPierre Is Gonna Get Us All Killed
posted by homunculus at 1:09 AM on May 7, 2013




Mayor Bloomberg's Parallel Disdain for the NRA and the ACLU He casts both organizations as "extremist," and his disdain for them makes sense, given his belief system.
posted by riruro at 9:01 AM on May 7, 2013




New gun thread.
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on May 7, 2013




homunculus: "New gun thread."

Nope. Deleted.
posted by Big_B at 4:37 PM on May 7, 2013


New new gun thread.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 PM on May 7, 2013


Is the N.R.A. Un-American?
posted by homunculus at 3:18 PM on May 20, 2013


The NRA Thinks These Are The ‘Coolest Gun Movies’ Ever
After the December killings in Newtown, Conn., the National Rifle Association’s chief lambasted the the evils of violent movies and video games, saying they, rather than guns, were a source of the nation’s woes.

Now, less than six months later, the NRA’s “flagship publication,” American Rifleman, is celebrating cinematic savagery with a list of the top 10 “coolest gun movies” that unabashedly praises Hollywood depictions of death and crime.

“Who has not dreamed of having the power and respect of Michael Corleone? That he built his empire through violence is only that much more alluring,” the magazine’s Associate Online Shooting Editor Paul Rackley wrote in his summary of “The Godfather.”

The list includes action movies like “The Matrix,” “Red Dawn,” and “Zombieland.” It notes the different gun models depicted in the films, analyzes the “gunhandling skills” of the various protagonists, and describes the post-apocalyptic, catastrophic realities shown in several of the movies as evidence of the need for guns.
[...]
American Rifleman’s top 10 list is a far cry from the remarks NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre made at a press conference a week after the Newtown shooting. In that statement, LaPierre decried Hollywood as a “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.”

“Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” LaPierre said. “In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes.”
posted by zombieflanders at 9:39 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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