When a gun store doesn't sell guns
March 21, 2015 10:20 AM   Subscribe

"Last week, sandwiched between a row of shops and apartments, you may have noticed that a store hawking firearms miraculously opened for two days on Manhattan’s Lower East Side." The sales pitch was not what folks expected. Customer reaction was interesting...
posted by HuronBob (118 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm becoming more anti-gun as I age, but this video just irritated the hell out of me. I had to turn it off part way through. It felt so fake - they all seemed like actors. I don't know if they actually were; reality and the staged world are becoming blurred. And the guy "selling" the gun didn't seem to know squat about them.

The wapo article reads like a press release. Not a good sign.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:39 AM on March 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


I made myself watch the video all the way through. If those aren't actors, I'll eat my hat.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:45 AM on March 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


If those aren't actors, I'll eat my hat.

For one thing, there is a lack of swearing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Say, do you have any RPG's, 'Gamma World' for example?
posted by clavdivs at 10:52 AM on March 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


If this project dissuades anyone from buying a gun, that person is better off without a gun, so I'm cool with it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:53 AM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm the most anti-gun person that I know, and this seems cheap to me, and condescending.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:59 AM on March 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Plus, the middle name of the Executive Director of the organization is "Gun". Totally fake. The The Washington Post should be ashamed for not checking things like that.
posted by XMLicious at 11:01 AM on March 21, 2015


"I'd like to buy a gun, please."
"This gun was used to murder seven people."
"So it works, then? Good. I'll take it."
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:06 AM on March 21, 2015 [38 favorites]


Yeah, the actor playing the counter-guy is Ned Luke, aka Michael de Santa from Grand Theft Auto 5.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 11:16 AM on March 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Hey, I'm looking to buy a chef's knife"
"What are you going to use it for?"
"Mostly cooking, maybe carve a pumpkin come halloween time. That one looks pretty good."
"Yeah, this one is real sharp. A five year old stabbed his dad to death with it."
"What about a non-murder knife?"
"KNIVES ARE MURDER"

Personally, I'm really pro gun control. But the logic used in this video is childish and full of holes.
posted by Philipschall at 11:18 AM on March 21, 2015 [21 favorites]


"KNIVES ARE MURDER"

Of course, one of the main causes of kitchen accidents is that people are not alert enough to how their knives can hurt them if they aren't properly handled and cared for. Yelling "Knives are murder" at first time kitchen knife buyers might be a good idea, because they won't remember "a falling knife has no handle" until they are on the way to the ER.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:31 AM on March 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


I walked by this place the other day, saw the sign on the window and automatically assumed it was an art installation. Anyone who knows NYC gun policy would assume the same I'm guessing.
I don't know why the customers are assumed to be actors, I recognize one guy from the neighborhood, and I know he's not.
posted by newpotato at 11:31 AM on March 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


So how many people in the video have to be actual wannabe customers before hat-eating commences?
posted by rtha at 11:35 AM on March 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


In line with newpotato, I kind of assumed these were not people who are up on gun control issues, but maybe people who had this idea kicking around and saw a nice well lit store in a presumably decent area and said, "hm, let's check this out."

It's not going to sway anyone from their hardcore viewpoints, but may persuade the "let's see what this gun thing is all about" crowd.
posted by papayaninja at 11:40 AM on March 21, 2015


How the hell do you not immediately turn around and walk out on a "salesperson" who tries to guilt you about the product you're buying?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:40 AM on March 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I would just assume that the salesperson was a lunatic/asshole and go to another store that didn't sell used guns from known murders/killings. But then again, I know salespeople in this industry who are even worse at selling so it doesn't strike me as too outlandish.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:51 AM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is possession of guns allowed in NYC? If the police produce this project, was it legal?

I assume the cops had to be in on it, otherwise... Well, someone could call the cops (right? right?) because NYC gun laws aren't exactly a secret.
posted by el io at 11:52 AM on March 21, 2015


If this project dissuades anyone from buying a gun, that person is better off without a gun, so I'm cool with it.

Oh, but that won't happen. Everyone knows that Americans only buy guns after careful review and analysis of all the data about how useful they are, never out of some emotional bullshit about wanting to feel powerful.

Common sense may have it that firearms are for hunting and target shooting unless you're at war or something, but having a gun can also help provide a certain level of every-day personal security. So says no less an authority than the Prime Minister of Canada. He's got a point, you know. There are some neighbourhoods, like say the less civilized parts of Baffin Island, that I'd hesitate to visit without bringing a rifle. Probably not what the average denizen of New York needs, though.
posted by sfenders at 11:54 AM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I know about gun stores in New York I learned from the Dark Tower series.
posted by 445supermag at 11:56 AM on March 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Rachel Maddox show had a bit about this. The guns were fake, there was an nypd present, the people weren't actors, but thought they were part of a marketing focus group for people who responded to a survey about wanting to own guns.
posted by dejah420 at 12:21 PM on March 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


As a consumer of reality news, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Something like
Oh so this gun was used to kill a mom? Ok, what else ya got? One that was used for suicide? hmm. Oh, a sandy hook gun? Now that's a collectors item, i'll take it!
posted by rebent at 12:28 PM on March 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


dejah420: The Rachel Maddox show had a bit about this. The guns were fake, there was an nypd present, the people weren't actors, but thought they were part of a marketing focus group for people who responded to a survey about wanting to own guns.

Yup. This wasn't amateur hour James O'Keefe level sting operation. The guns were fake, but the customers were real. Now, did them knowing they were being watched change their reactions somewhat? Probably. Did the makers of the video screen out reactions that didn't jibe with the political motivation of the advocacy group? Of course. But they weren't actors, and the reactions were legitimate.

I don't think the ad's going to change the gun control debate that much (inasmuch as there is one at this point) but some of the criticisms of the ad here are simply misinformed. It is what it is -- an attempt to make people think about their choices and influence those choices. A vast majority of people won't be swayed, but maybe some will, and if one fewer person has access to a gun when they want to kill themselves or someone else, or accidentally leave it within reach of a young child, that's a good thing in my book.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:44 PM on March 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


If this project dissuades anyone from buying a gun, that person is better off without a gun, so I'm cool with it.
Will you be equally cool with the copycats? Somewhere right now anti-abortion activists are reading this story and excitedly planning the interior decoration and advertisements for their "clinics" grand openings.

Violations of social trust are kind of like guns in this way - it's much harder to persuade someone to steer clear of them if they anticipate a fight against others who won't.
posted by roystgnr at 12:45 PM on March 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


So how many people in the video have to be actual wannabe customers before hat-eating commences?

A hat that was owned by a guy with really greasy hair who let his pet parakeets ride around on it?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:45 PM on March 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Somewhere right now anti-abortion activists are reading this story and excitedly planning the interior decoration and advertisements for their "clinics" grand openings.

Anti-choice groups have been running "abortion counseling services" for decades now. I think you have reversed the cause and effect.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:46 PM on March 21, 2015 [37 favorites]


I will only watch this video if someone in it tries to buy a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range. Does this happen?

(I bet it doesn't)
posted by aubilenon at 12:48 PM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Will you be equally cool with the copycats?

TIL that James O'Keefe traveled back in time to conduct video stings on ACORN, Mary Landrieu, NPR, and Planned Parenthood after he got the idea from a 2015 gun control video.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:50 PM on March 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm super anti-gun. Other than Team Fortess, but still.

What the anti-gun lobby, and this video, doesn't get is that they don't see gun culture as a culture. You can't beat a culture in the short-term, just like you can't outlaw a religion and expect its adherents to go, "Yep, we're done here with the Jesus thing. Team Xenu!"

So, when you say, "This gun killed a kid," the reaction you're going to get is a defensive, "Well, not my gun. Not my kid." Just as you would if you, say, told a Christian about the Crusades. "Sure, millions murdered in the name of my religion, but that's not us right now."

The anti-smoking lobby did it right. It was a giant nudge in the right direction, not a culture war. "Smoke all you want! Just not in this restaurant. Not in this bar. Not in this office. Keep your culture. Just do it elsewhere."

Use zoning restrictions to close shooting ranges (which, by the way, are ridiculously polluted by lead, creating a very real health issue). Restrict the sale of bullets and re-loading supplies. Reduce taxes on hunting tags, to foster a safe outlet for the culture. Double-down on firearms education (i.e. safe handling).

Eventually the culture goes away. You know how weird Mad Men looks with all the smoking? Yeah, it looks weird to us now. Because that culture just wafted away.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:53 PM on March 21, 2015 [32 favorites]


What the anti-gun lobby, and this video, doesn't get is that they don't see gun culture as a culture. You can't beat a culture in the short-term, just like you can't outlaw a religion and expect its adherents to go, "Yep, we're done here with the Jesus thing. Team Xenu!"

Like nearly all political advocacy, this ad isn't talking to pro-gun dead-enders, it's talking to people at the margins. The reason gun control laws are hard to pass isn't just because of the loud and vocal Second Amendment absolutists, it's also because the mushy middle doesn't really think about the issue as a high priority among all of their other priorities. An ad like this can get folks who might be moderately anti-gun or wishy-washy to increase their attention to the issue, and have a much larger effect than the absurd and quixotic gesutre of trying to close shooting ranges, which the NRA would barely break a sweat defeating.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:58 PM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Somewhere right now anti-abortion activists are reading this story and excitedly planning the interior decoration and advertisements for their "clinics" grand openings.

They've had these for years already. This isn't in the least a new idea for them.
posted by rtha at 1:01 PM on March 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


"KNIVES ARE MURDER"

This isn't as funny as you think given that they're actually trying to get "tough on pocketknives" in NYC right now (mostly for POC, natch)
The penalties are severe, too, as Neal would learn. As a prior offender, he was eligible for a felony "bump up," rendering the pocketknife Neal possessed the legal equivalent of an unlicensed, unloaded pistol. Though the court said he likely had no idea his knife was illegal, and he wasn't accused of using it toward any nefarious end, he was convicted nonetheless.

After a series of appeals, he was sentenced to six years in prison.
posted by corb at 1:09 PM on March 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


It doesn't look to me like a particularly effective campaign strategy, but I'll give them credit for being willing to try -- if I was an anti-gun activist these days, I'd be feeling frustrated for sure. It might be more effective to do this with elected officials, since there is reasonably broad public support for at least some gun control measures but apparently zero willingness or ability to move those through the legislative process.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:10 PM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm the most anti-gun person that I know, and this seems cheap to me, and condescending.

If you're going to pull a stunt like this, at least pull it somewhere like Georgia or Florida, where you might actually find a shop where you *could* walk out owning a firearm.

Doing it in Manhattan, where everyone pretty well agrees with you anyway? Weak sauce.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


You can own a gun most places in this country, but if you import a car from Japan that isn't over 25 years old you can go to jail for like 2 decades.
posted by hellojed at 1:19 PM on March 21, 2015


"if one fewer person has access to a gun when they want to kill themselves or someone else, or accidentally leave it within reach of a young child, that's a good thing in my book."

This is such shitty logic -- I could just as easily write "if one fewer person has access to a firearm that they could have used to defend themselves, then that's a terrible thing in my book."
posted by wuwei at 1:21 PM on March 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is such shitty logic -- I could just as easily write "if one fewer person has access to a firearm that they could have used to defend themselves, then that's a terrible thing in my book.

Your concern is noted, but given the laughable quality of the studies on defensive gun use, cited and debunked many times in gun threads here, I'm afraid I don't find your false equivalence compelling.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:24 PM on March 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


You can own a gun most places in this country, but if you import a car from Japan that isn't over 25 years old you can go to jail for like 2 decades.
But the case goes a little further than just an enthusiast wanting to drive his dream car, the law be damned. The newspaper also says Noble made fraudulent claims and wire transfers in an attempt to sell the car to a man in South Carolina, despite federal agents telling him not to.
posted by sideshow at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2015


Anti-choice groups have been running "abortion counseling services" for decades now.

And being heaped with scorn for it. Who thought it was a good idea to emulate them I have no idea. I'm certainly not going to trust anything I hear from someone who has lured me in under false pretenses.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:41 PM on March 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Actual WaPo gun nut comment: "The first rule of statistics is they don't apply to individuals."
posted by spitbull at 1:53 PM on March 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like nearly all political advocacy, this ad isn't talking to pro-gun dead-enders, it's talking to people at the margins.

Winning the margins doesn't help you, though, when the culture defines the question in all-or-nothing, binary terms. Playing into that with sly appeals to win the "undecided" only increases defensive attitudes among the people you'll never convince.

Besides, who the heck is really undecided at this point in such a polarized atmosphere?

The video is just self-congratulatory masturbation created by people that, come on, really don't care about their own issue. They're more interested in their display of "creativity" and "ideation" than any actual, measurable effects.

This is "politics by hipster."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:00 PM on March 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


The shop was outfitted with about 100 unloaded, authentic-looking prop weapons...

As long as we're talking smack about everyone, I had to laugh at the author when I read that the weapons in stock weren't loaded. You mean when the salesman hands a firearm to you it isn't ready to be fired? Shocking!
posted by mr. digits at 2:17 PM on March 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


created by people that, come on, really don't care about their own issue.

Ah, the old long con...
posted by threeants at 2:18 PM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


self-congratulatory masturbation created by people that, come on, really don't care about their own issue.

On preview, threeants beat me to linking to their website that shows they're not some fly-by-night hipster operation, but between that easily-refuted accusation of bad faith and your ridiculous notion that we could "change the culture" with zoning laws (!!!), it occurs to me that you simply have no fucking idea what you're talking about.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:20 PM on March 21, 2015


The zoning/local politics thing isn't a canard. Shooting ranges frequently close due to new developments or losing their insurance for a myriad of reasons.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:26 PM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's illegal to possess replica guns in the city unless it's for "television programs or theatrical or motion picture presentation." It seems like a *bit* of a stretch, but I guess the city signed off on it.
posted by jpe at 2:28 PM on March 21, 2015


Shooting ranges frequently close due to new developments or losing their insurance for a myriad of reasons.

The contention was that zoning laws could be used to, en masse, as a targeted strategy, make a significant impact on gun culture to the point where it becomes as "uncool" as smoking. That's much different than "it occasionally happens for a myriad of reasons."
posted by tonycpsu at 2:32 PM on March 21, 2015


Any effect of the physical store on people's opinions is not really relevant. The products here are the video and media coverage.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 2:35 PM on March 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


tonycpsu: you can make your points without being insulting.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:36 PM on March 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


"The car turned sideways. It was then his mother began to scream." -- The Test [more]
posted by dhartung at 3:39 PM on March 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Come on, in NYC? Safest venue possible. Go somewhere where people own and participate in the whole 'culture' thing, set up your shop - that's video I want to see.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:22 PM on March 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


And being heaped with scorn for it.

And this scorn has deterred how many anti-choice activists? Heck, it encourages them....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:26 PM on March 21, 2015


I'm not from the USA so maybe take this with a grain of salt, but I thought the stats clearly show that owning a gun makes you more likely to get shot than not owning one.

Do people not get this? Or not believe it's true?
posted by dave99 at 12:26 AM on March 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Anyone ever watch that TV show on UHF with the cursed objects sold by the antiques dealer who sold his soul to Satan, and got a store filled with demonic goods in the bargain?

Yeah, yeah.

Yeah: Friday The 13th: The Series. Yeah. That's the one. Filmed in Vancouver, right?

Anyway, that's the show I'd like to see: An doomed antique gun store owner reselling death guns with shady pasts. Creepy old relative of the store owner has to track down these demon guns with the help of a cut 20-something couple with a cute, but ambiguous romantic relationship.

Guns used by babies to kill other babies, because guns are fun. Sales pitch: "This gun was used by children to kill children. Well tested and performs ideal for small-hand face-to-face combat." Sell that shit up. Move those units.

Guns used by crazed gun supporters to massacre helpless children and teachers in elementary school. Fully locked and loaded, safety off. High-quality shots — max the kill counts. Bonus point counter widget hangs off the gun for extra bonus takedowns.

Let's do this. Get the store going. Sell for a slight markup so that the employees can buy Subway sandwiches on lunch break at the place down the corner, using the proceeds from the gun sales and the the corporate sponsorship money.

We'll get this show on the History/Hitler chanel, to remind viewers the consequences of not watching Hitler documentations 24/7 until the sclerotic eyes bleed pus and blood.

Take the local out-and-proud gun brigade to Starbucks and order those half-caf double skim lattes and let them know what happened last time is ancient history — NEVER AGAIN. NEIN. KAFFEE IMMER FÜR ALLE AMERIKÄNISCHER! JEDER ZEIT DEN TAG.

The only way to beat gun culture is to amp up its absurd and psychotic practices. Take it to the top.Take it over the top. Dial up the psychocapitalist activity up to 11. Turn it up. Turn it loud. Turn it proud. A couple dead children? Count it up. Not enough bodies? Buy more ammo. Ramp that shit up, bro. Make your rights heard.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:28 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Its great you all have the "gun culture" thing all figured out in other threads like:

1st person shooter video games.
Having the nation spend all that effort in having a Department of Defense and their internal promotion of a gun culture.
The gun culture of the bobbies resulting in the 'black lives matter' protests as covered on The Blue.
The political system, having demonstrated its excellent moral character via actions like honouring FOIA requests, no longer needs an armed population as a last resort. This must be due to the soap box of the Internet has caused an end to the hanging chads and black box vote counting issues of the ballot box thus no longer needing the ammo box.

Just using remote controlled drones does seem to be a type of answer to not using guns. But a $60,000 missile seems expensive, but its a good thing the US of A is a world leader, has the worldwide reserve currency and can afford that from its taxpayers.

Progress has started on the DoD gun issue - the lack of yellow ribbon magnets must be due to the dislike of gun culture. The next obvious step would be the anti-gun media talking heads to follow the example of Bo Jack Horseman.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:53 AM on March 22, 2015


I'm not from the USA so maybe take this with a grain of salt, but I thought the stats clearly show that owning a gun makes you more likely to get shot than not owning one.

Do people not get this? Or not believe it's true?


It's possible that owning a gun and getting shot are statistically linked, but why does one follow from the other? Is it not possible that a third factor, like living in an area with a lot of crime, thus someone might feel safer carrying a gun, is the underlying cause?
posted by ymgve at 4:12 AM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


someone might feel safer carrying a gun

Sheriff Clark in Milwaukee County told citizens to carry a gun due to slow police response as I remember.

(And most owning gun -> injury issues are tied to suicide/suicide attempts if I remember the numbers correctly)
posted by rough ashlar at 4:28 AM on March 22, 2015


No, nice try but it's more likely you die in your own home if there's a gun in it. Homicide or suicide. This makes sense- you can't kill yourself or somebody else with a gun if you don't have one.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:28 AM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


someone might feel safer carrying a gun, is the underlying cause?
This is an interesting sentence and one that speaks either to savagery or naïveté. Savagery because to carry a gun means you have to be prepared to use it, and using it means a high likelihood of killing someone - so are you ready to kill someone?
The other day I was talking with someone who had also lived in NYC in the 80's and remembers the craziness / the incipient violence and then also noted that it not living with that anymore is an enormous relief.
With a gun you have the chance of not being a victim but at the cost that you become the aggressor: to tell yourself one is better than the other, well, go ask a war veteran.
Guns suck. The blame lies with inadequate social services and police and the blame for that lies with the government.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:04 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, nice try but it's more likely you die in your own home if there's a gun in it. Homicide or suicide. This makes sense- you can't kill yourself or somebody else with a gun if you don't have one.

If this is a response to rough ashlar saying "most owning gun -> injury issues are tied to suicide/suicide attempts if I remember the numbers correctly", doesn't that study actually agree with that statement as far as the successful suicide attempts and homicides it examined? I could easily be misinterpreting something but the odds ratios listed here combined with their sample containing twice as many suicides as homicides and the statement from the report, Nearly three quarters of suicide victims lived in a home where one or more firearms were present, compared with 42 percent of homicide victims..., would mean that a pretty sizeable majority of instances of violent death in the sample which were correlated to "Firearm in the home" would have been suicides, wouldn't it?

(Even though the overall conclusion that "the risk of dying from a firearm-related homicide or suicide was greater in homes with guns" is also true and the increase in the likelihood of homicide is quite substantial, whether or not correlation is causation as ymgve and the "Discussion" section of the study note.)
posted by XMLicious at 7:24 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess I'll point out that, eminently ironically, the "gun shop owner" is the actor who plays Michael from GTAV.
posted by SeanMac at 10:11 AM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


With a gun you have the chance of not being a victim but at the cost that you become the aggressor.

I live in the UK where you can't get a firearm for love nor money, and I'm totally happy with those arrangements, but I've got to note that there's something really Orwellian about describing someone who seeks to defend themselves as an aggressor.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:44 AM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So I guess you're not familiar with the controversy over so-called "stand your ground" laws in which merely possessing a legal firearm absolves you of the need to prove that anyone was attacking you as long as you feel threatened?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:03 AM on March 22, 2015


But tonycpu, the reponse is always, "Why do I lose my right to defend myself with a gun just because Jack was suicidal, Bob was too stupid to keep his gun away from the kids, and George was a murderous vigilante hiding behind spurious self-defense claims?"
posted by straight at 12:07 PM on March 22, 2015


And, while I lean toward the response that we take away people's right to defend themselves with guns because more total lives will be saved that way, it's a pretty hard sell to the people losing that right, and pretty hard to conclusively demonstrate that more lives will, in fact, be saved.
posted by straight at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So I guess you're not familiar with the controversy over so-called "stand your ground" laws in which merely possessing a legal firearm absolves you of the need to prove that anyone was attacking you as long as you feel threatened?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:03 AM on March 22 [+] [!]


It does no such thing, in any state. Possession of a gun does not give you any more or less rights to self defense. Stand your ground laws do NOT lower the bar for legitimate self defense claims-the only thing they do is remove the duty to retreat if possible.

Whether or not the duty to retreat in public is a good or bad thing is a legitimate debate. But making false claims to further your axe grinding does NOT advance the debate or help your side.
posted by bartonlong at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


it's a pretty hard sell to the people losing that right, and pretty hard to conclusively demonstrate that more lives will, in fact, be saved.

State and federal governments routinely regulate things that society as a whole has shown that it can't safely use, even if certain individuals can. The main difference with firearms is that Congress, emboldened by a maximalist interpretation of the Second Amendment that's been in effect in the last decade, has tied the hands of government agencies to conduct unbiased studies of the problem which could lead to that kind of regulation. This makes "conclusively demonstrat[ing] that more lives will, in fact, be saved" virtually impossible.

Of course, even that maximalist interpretation allows for jurisdictions to regulate specific kinds of guns, decide who can possess them, regulate where they can be carried, etc. but the gun manufacturer lobby is able to defeat most attempts to implement these kinds of restrictions in any significant way. But there's no sense trying to take that fight to the Supreme Court as presently-constituted, of course.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2015


Possession of a gun does not give you any more or less rights to self defense.

I didn't say it changed anyone's legal rights. What I said was that it absolves one of the need to prove that anyone was attacking them, which is the case when the person who was allegedly attacking them can't offer evidence on their own behalf because they're deceased. And state of mind absolutely is a factor when assessing claims of self-defense whether stand your ground is invoked or not.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:51 PM on March 22, 2015


You know, I'm just going to say, I find it a little bit gross when white middle class men who can always count on being able to call the police, armed with guns, to defend them, with quick response time, make fun of people who for whatever reason, legitimately cannot trust the police will always be there for them and feel the need to be able to defend themselves. As a woman of color who grew up in a poor neighborhood with a two hour response call time, and where even when called the cops were more likely to think you were the criminal, it really bothers me.
posted by corb at 1:02 PM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, corb, where are people being made fun of in this video?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2015


Charles E. Cobb, Jr. on firearms in the civil rights movement:
Thus the tradition of armed self-defense in Afro-American history cannot be disconnected from the successes of what today is called the nonviolent civil rights movement. Participants in that movement always saw themselves as part of a centuries-long history of black life and struggle. Guns in no way contradicted the lessons of that history. Indeed, the idea of nonviolent struggle was newer in the black community, and it was protected in many ways by gunfire and the threat of gunfire. Simply put: because nonviolence worked so well as a tactic for effecting change and was demonstrably improving their lives, some black people chose to use weapons to defend the nonviolent Freedom Movement. Although it is counterintuitive, any discussion of guns in the movement must therefore also include substantial discussion of nonviolence, and vice versa.

The southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s was broad in its objectives and its strategies, which helps explain the seemingly paradoxical coexistence of guns and nonviolence within it. As noted in 1964 by Robert P. “Bob” Moses, director of the Mississippi project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC): “It’s not contradictory for a farmer to say he’s nonviolent and also pledge to shoot a marauder’s head off.” A story that Former SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael liked to tell was of bringing an elderly woman to vote in Lowndes County Alabama — “she had to be 80 years old and going to vote for the first time in her life…. [T]hat ol’ lady came up to us, went into her bag, and produced this enormous, rusty Civil War-looking old pistol. ‘Best you hol’ this for me, son. I’ma go cast my vote now.’”

Link
Cobb's bio:
[Cobb is a] visiting professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. He is a distinguished journalist and former member of National Geographic Magazine's editorial staff. He currently is Senior Writer and Diplomatic Correspondent for AllAfrica.com, the leading online provider of news from and about Africa.From 1962-1967 he served as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi. He began his journalism career in 1974 as a reporter for WHUR Radio in Washington, D.C. In 1976 he joined the staff of National Public Radio as a foreign affairs reporter, bringing to that network its first regular coverage of Africa. From 1985 to 1997, Cobb was a National Geographic staff member, traveling the globe to write stories on places from Eritrea to Russia's Kuril Islands. He is also the co-author, with civil rights organizer and educator Robert P. Moses, of Radical Equations, Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project. His latest book published in January 2008 is On the Road to Freedom, a Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail. On July 24, 2008 the National Association of Black Journalists honored Cobb’s work by inducting him into their Hall of Fame.
I wonder where Mr. Cobb and his compatriots fall on the probability distribution that we're told "shows" that guns make you "less safe." Bell curve, amirite?
posted by wuwei at 1:44 PM on March 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


>>And being heaped with scorn for it.
>
>And this scorn has deterred how many anti-choice activists?


I'm pretty sure neither of us has any idea.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:46 PM on March 22, 2015


New Yorkers aren't even allowed to have guns, discouraging them from buying guns is pointless.
Go to America with this, rather than rubbing in the fact that the 2nd amendment doesn't apply in NYC.
posted by yonega at 7:46 PM on March 22, 2015


You know, I'm just going to say, I find it a little bit gross when white middle class men who can always count on being able to call the police, armed with guns, to defend them, with quick response time, make fun of people who for whatever reason, legitimately cannot trust the police will always be there for them and feel the need to be able to defend themselves. As a woman of color who grew up in a poor neighborhood with a two hour response call time, and where even when called the cops were more likely to think you were the criminal, it really bothers me

I have to say I'm really conflicted about my views on guns now, mainly because of you hammering on this point so often. I see the benefit of restricting guns for society, but it's really tough for me to say individuals who aren't otherwise able to protect themselves shouldn't have them. But yeah, I don't know if this video was really making fun so much as trying to hammer home some of the associated dangers people in favor of guns at times gloss over.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:05 PM on March 22, 2015


As a woman of color who grew up in a poor neighborhood with a two hour response call time, and where even when called the cops were more likely to think you were the criminal, it really bothers me.

I don't know specifically which neighborhood you grew up in, but I'm going to guess that the lack of guns in it wasn't really the problem there.
posted by Etrigan at 8:11 PM on March 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder where Mr. Cobb and his compatriots fall on the probability distribution that we're told "shows" that guns make you "less safe." Bell curve, amirite?

Mr. Cobb is entitled to his opinions, but the civil rights movement had no consensus position on gun control in the 1960s. Yes, the Black Panthers, the Black Guard, and other elements within the movement believed that nonviolence needed to have a backstop of armed resistance, and certainly gun control laws were used by Ronald Reagan and others (with the support of the National Rifle Association!) to try to take guns away from blacks who sought to sought to defend themselves. Still, the mainstream of the civil rights movement understood that having the public face of the movement dominated by black men toting guns was not a path to success.

And I honestly don't know what you're trying to say with your scare-quote-laden bit about probability distributions and bell curves that have supposedly been put forth by gun control advocates. There are many reputable peer-reviewed studies that have concluded that guns take more lives than they save, but I'm unaware of any time that a "bell curve" has been central to any of those conclusions. If you had an actual point in using this very specific terminology in connection with this issue, please elaborate.

Finally, if you're going to bring the opinion of people of color into the conversation, it does seem relevant to me that the jurisdictions where stricter gun control laws would pass were they not rendered illegal by the Supreme Court in 2008 are by and large urban jurisdictions where people of color have to live with the consequences of those stricter gun control laws. The District of Columbia and its nearly two-thirds minority population was perfectly fine with banning handguns until a white guy from the CATO institute came along and decided to get some plaintiffs together to challenge the ban's constitutionality. It's laughable that we should want to pay special attention to what one civil rights leader thought about gun control in the 1960s while ignoring what today's people of color would choose to do about gun control in their own neighborhoods.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:48 PM on March 22, 2015


Which white guy at CATO?
posted by clavdivs at 12:06 AM on March 23, 2015


I live in the UK where you can't get a firearm for love nor money, and I'm totally happy with those arrangements, but I've got to note that there's something really Orwellian about describing someone who seeks to defend themselves as an aggressor.

You can get shotguns pretty easily and certain types of rifles without too much trouble. Only hand guns are more or less impossible for civilians to own.
posted by atrazine at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2015


certainly gun control laws were used by Ronald Reagan and others (with the support of the National Rifle Association!) to try to take guns away from blacks who sought to sought to defend themselves

Ronald Reagan was a racist bastard who started banning guns once black people began openly carrying them, but the history of racist gun control attempting to bar black armed self defense goes much further back than the 1960s. Gun control wasn't used by racists, gun control in America was created by racists specifically to disarm black men, It began very openly in the South, where slaveowners were worried that free, armed blacks would sympathize with their brothers in bondage and so black free men were barred from possessing firearms (and even dogs, in some cases, because they might be 'used as weapons') But the beginning of ostensibly race-neutral gun control (meant to control firearm ownership by black men) was also birthed in the South, immediately after the Civil War.
The former states of the Confederacy, many of which had recognized the right to carry arms openly before the Civil War, developed a very sudden willingness to qualify that right...

There are other examples of remarkable honesty from the state supreme courts on this subject, of which the finest is probably Florida Supreme Court Justice Buford's concurring opinion in Watson v. Stone (1941), in which a conviction for carrying a handgun without a permit was overturned, because the handgun was in the glove compartment of a car:

"I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied."
posted by corb at 9:05 AM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Which white guy at CATO?

Presumably that was a reference to Bob Levy.
In 2002, Robert A. Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, began vetting plaintiffs with Clark M. Neily III for a planned Second Amendment lawsuit that he would personally finance. Although he himself had never owned a gun, as a Constitutional scholar he had an academic interest in the subject and wanted to model his campaign after the legal strategies of Thurgood Marshall, who had successfully led the challenges that overturned school segregation.[6] They aimed for a group that would be diverse in terms of gender, race, economic background, and age, and selected six plaintiffs from their mid-20s to early 60s, three men and three women, four white and two black:[7]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller
posted by phearlez at 11:02 AM on March 23, 2015


“Use zoning restrictions to close shooting ranges (which, by the way, are ridiculously polluted by lead, creating a very real health issue).”

I’m for that. Lots of new systems to resist bullet spall. Plenty of non-lead ammo too. Most hunters favor that, especially those of us who eat what we kill. The military uses ‘green’ ammo. Of course, there’s still aviation fuel, lead pipes, solder in plumbing fittings, fishing sinkers, coal burning power plants and TONS of batteries and electronic waste… so yeah.

“Reduce taxes on hunting tags, to foster a safe outlet for the culture.”


Mm,yeah, but then who pays for land conservation? It isn’t anti-gun folks. Plenty of people avoid using trains, ignore pointless development, ignore land usage and common sense cityscaping (Dubrovnik in Croatia or San Miguel de Allende and Medellín in SA. Hell, Medellín used to be a nightmare and not just for the gunfire. You couldn’t – literally couldn’t – walk in the city with any reasonable expectation of getting somewhere in a timely manner or risking serious injury. That’s how Escobar was killed. He had to run over rooftops to evade capture to get to an alley where he could actually get to the ground to sidle along to somewhere)

Now they (Medellín) have Metrocable, an overhead gondola system and other systems like the outdoor escalators. The neat thing there is while its debatable that the escalators ‘work’ (in the sense that – yay! No one’s poor anymore!) it’s certainly true that maintenance means monitoring the bulk of city transportation which means increased security which means less bullets flying.
It’s not a spurious argument to say more public transportation means less hit and run gunfire. When’s the last time a drive by happened from a city bus? Mobility has always been linked to brigandage whether it’s horses or Harleys or Hummers.

“Double-down on firearms education (i.e. safe handling).”

Can never have enough of that.

“Restrict the sale of bullets and re-loading supplies”

This I have a problem with. You can’t just restrict “bullets” and anyone doing reloading is typically going to be pretty well educated on firearm usage. Restricting ammunition types such as penetrating ammunition (fmj, etc) might help curb bystander fatalities. But then you get people shouting about how expanding and/or frangible ammo (dum-dums, hollowpoints, etc) are evil.

And that’s the big problem with the anti-gun mindset in the FPP. The “object is evil” concept.

FTA: “It made me think, ‘I’m not going to buy that gun,’” one man says, leaving the store.
So, what, he won’t buy the Glock 20 or the Sig Sauer, but a Taurus .40mm is fine b/c that particular firearm wasn’t used in a murder?

Blaming social ills on a given object isn’t going to eliminate those ills. I don’t agree with eliminating firearms from ownership in the U.S., but I do agree with eliminating gun violence. The best ways to do that are to attack the reasons someone might want to buy a gun for protection. So one of the best ways to do that is to deliver better protection through a safe environment.

Of course, it’s much easier to attack guns as a linear problem than it is to illustrate a more complex connection between social factors, transportation and gun violence. And the ways to address them are a lot harder than the old “get tough on it!” saws. Which manifestly didn’t work well in the war on drugs.
And led to wastes of time and money (“Just Say No!”) as jingoistic as this theater/propaganda bit here. What, almost $2 billion in 1986 dollars for that program? Mandatory minimums for drug offenses. Sweet.

Nancy Reagan: “If you can save just one child, it's worth it.”
Yeah. Flush millions of lives in jail and waiting for family to get out, and billions of dollars, but if that one kid at a party who passes on a joint is saved? Worth it.

The Santayana quote is a cliché but it’s fairly apt. Closer though is Mark Twain: “History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

If Ronald Reagan was an idiot, why adhere to the same practices – regardless of the subject matter?
Why not spend the time and money addressing things that work instead of fostering needless acrimony unless the point is to either obfuscate the issue (for politics sake if by intent, or through ignorance if not) or solidify one’s own base through self-righteousness like this?

I think this is the latter. Not a problem as a tactic. But it’s so divisive to otherwise reasonable people. I mean – get more people on the fringe to – what? Vote? To overturn gun laws? To finally outlaw guns? Mmkay. Then what?

The commitment there is to force, not principle. E.g. I support gay marriage from principle. One does not restrict rights to anyone based on what they are, period. Anything else is pedantry and playing legal games.

The issue is either the guns themselves or actions resulting from their usage. We either want to curb/control abusive actions regarding firearms or we want to eliminate the guns themselves.

Controlling abusive actions BY eliminating access to the thing – there’s a whole spectrum of debate there, but strictly speaking, as a tactic, as a set of thinking of firearms themselves as the root cause of the problem… well again, the drug war hasn’t worked out so well (hell, ANY war predicated on confiscatory terms of surrender and willfully ignoring infrastructure and social requirements typically leads to greater conflict. Given our ongoing adventures in Afghanistan, the late ‘80s Mujahideen come to mind.)

Seems to be the American style though. We don’t fix things. We WAR on ‘em. Poverty? Gotta WAR on it! Oh, people in poverty use drugs? Gotta WAR on it! Oh, mandatory sentencing creates a cyclical underclass forcing them into a clandestine economy and joining gangs? Gotta WAR on gangs! Lots of people dying from cancer? WAR! (instead of, y’know, health care).

But again, this (setting up the store, spending time and money, using the most inflammatory rhetoric to symbolize an object as the cause of a behavior) does seem like something idiot fanatics would do.
Well, hell, we know idiots do it from Dr. Fredric "reading Batman will turn your kid gay"Wertham to Anslinger and Hearst's Reefer Madness to the fanatics that cut off the (evil of course) clitoris.
If one is fighting idiots, and one adopts their tactics, what does that make you?
I mean hell, I can’t distance myself from the idiots on the pro-gun side fast enough. The thing about idiots though is that they’re not really pro- or anti- anything. They’re just idiots.

TL;DR: consider the nature of the relationship between objects/things people use and the social controls around them. The context shapes expectations in how the things are to be used. Certainly media plays a role (how many movie covers have 'tough' guys brandishing handguns?)

Would this thing have worked with, say, slot machines?

Would anyone argue gun makers/sellers are any less conscious of the way their product is percieved and used than slot machine makers/owners?

Think it's harmless? (think about it - increase in crime, bankruptcy, domestic abuse, drug/alcohol addiction, financial family hardship, etc. etc.)
They have chipsets that payout based on your brains dopamine levels. Really.

I hate gambling. I don't favor having it anywhere near me, but by the same token I'm reticent to pass "no slot machines" laws. Because I don't think that addresses those social expectations.

Which, to me, are the real problem. Plenty of law, pro- or anti-gun law, are still geared toward supporting dysfunctional behavior while limiting access to guns. This is akin to banning slot machines but giving a green light to bet on the ponies.
Figure the odds on winning the lottery are pretty good?
Contrast that with the odds of seeing an ad for the lottery today. Whatcha think?

We need to treat that social malady as we would any other kind of dysfunction. Eliminate the environment that supports the symptoms.
Otherwise we'll keep scapegoating and creating a "war" like we always do and it will fail, like it always does.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I will do a full-on Snoopy dance the day guns are regulated with half, hell, a quarter of the strictness that gaming machines are.

Likewise, I would be just as concerned about gaming machines if their lobbyists had half the control over lawmakers that the gun manufacturer lobby does. There is nothing written into law that says we can't use federal funds to study gambling addiction so we better understand the impact of these devices on society and alter the regulatory framework when necessary. If there were, I think people would rightly be concerned. Yet the federal study of gun violence is prohibited, because the NRA owns congress.

There's also the matter of choice. Today, jurisdictions can choose to allow or disallow gambling as they see fit. Some want just slots, some want table games, some are okay with sportsbooks, and some jurisdictions don't want to allow legal gambling at all. There is no analogous situation with firearms, where the option of allowing no legal guns is precluded by a Supreme Court rulings, and where the option to place limits on legal gun ownership that was expressly acknowledged as comporting with the Constitution in those Supreme Court rulings is constantly under assault by the gun manufacturer lobby.

The upshot of which is that, for all the talk about about how gun control has been used to keep brown people down in the past, the polling data shows that they want gun control nonetheless, but can't have it. So forgive me if I prioritize what people want now over the history of how gun control was used in the past.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:29 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I will do a full-on Snoopy dance the day guns are regulated with half, hell, a quarter of the strictness that gaming machines are.

Bit specious reasoning there as far as my piece of it goes. I'm addressing the process of demonization of an object instead of taking a look at the process and behavior.
Gaming machines are well regulated. And yet, there are vast, and typically overlooked, problems with gambling.

The problem, I'm saying, isn't inherent in the machines themselves. No more than drugs themselves are the problem in drug abuse.

Plenty of people seemed to want drugs outlawed in the past. That people, or a majority of people, want something doesn't mean the change won't be impotent as with gambling or harmful as with drugs.

Other considerations - what federal gun studies are outlawed as reiterated endlessly before in other threads, "X" because NRA, etc - are other considerations.

The kind of action(s) taken in the FPP is, at best, as pointless as the "Just Say No" campaign.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:10 PM on March 23, 2015


I'm addressing the process of demonization of an object instead of taking a look at the process and behavior.

The video isn't saying (e.g.) "this gun killed someone", it's saying "this gun was used to kill someone." Nobody is imbuing the gun with a soul or magical powers. Your whole objection seems to be a mere restatement of "guns don't kill people, people do", which leaves aside the fact that the object -- the gun -- facilitates killing in situations where one may not otherwise kill someone (possibly themselves) if they were in a different frame of mind or didn't have access to a gun. "Go fix society's ills" is not an actionable plan, whereas "reduce access to guns" could be were there not tooth-and-nail opposition to regulations even most gun owners support.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:36 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The video isn't saying (e.g.) "this gun killed someone", it's saying "this gun was used to kill someone."

Well, but...

“It made me think, ‘I’m not going to buy that gun,’” one man says, leaving the store.

and
"Every gun has a history. Let's not repeat it" - that's not a generalization?

You're under the mistaken impression I'm arguing for less gun control. I'm not.
And I'm not saying guns don't kill people, people do. I'm saying the issue is more complex than jingoism. And that using certain tactics and rhetoric is harmful.
That using "if it saves one person" or other specious reasoning leads to more damage done by lousy lawmaking or politickin'. It's obvious the people using the tooth and nail opposition to regulations are wrong in method, regardless of subject matter. Why mimic them?

"... facilitates killing in situations where one may not otherwise kill someone (possibly themselves) if they were in a different frame of mind or didn't have access to a gun."

And that's why abortion is outlawed. Because it saves babies.
A woman may not have an abortion if they were in a different frame of mind or didn't have access to abortion services. It's just that simple, no?

Clearly, it isn't. And more clearly, engaging in similar inflamatory rhetoric such as "preventing dead babies" or some such, is counterproductive to what the goal should be if all parties are honestly seeking to solve a problem such as birth control and unwanted children.
Call a baby in a dumpster a success? 'Cos I don't. Nor do I think a woman being forced to carry a child of rape to term is either.
The problem is then, obviously, beyond the scope of the proposed "solutions" offered by party shills and partisan hacks and the kind of stupid rhetoric we see here.

The objective is preventing unnecessary violence and death while maintaining a degree of freedom for individuals. Not sure how someone might disagree with that. Unless they're not genuinely arguing for such a thing.


"Go fix society's ills" is not an actionable plan

Well, but, it sorta is. Violence can be understood better scientifically and we need new strategic methods in dealing with it.
I'm sorry things like "better communication" and "multiple factors" makes me sound soft on crime or without solid, actionable plans, but in fact many methods (Ceasefire being one) exist that have been proven to curb violence in general and gun violence specifically (Stuff like retaliatory shootings reduced 100% in five of seven communities, so y'know, maybe more effective than setting up a fake gun shop. If you're looking at stopping gun violence I mean. Otherwise, sure. This does, y'know, whatever thing it's supposed to be doing other than that.)

Typically these programs are underfunded. Probably because yeah "fixing societies ills" isn't something most people are genuinely interested in doing. There's no one to blame. Much like drugs. People hate treating it as a health problem when they can morally condemn someone or something else.

This is not to say that the position here (and the NRA which uses the same pattern of emotionalism) isn't more popular. I mean, 3.3+ milllion hits, wow. People sure seem to like this video. And signing petitions. Good luck doing that again and again and again looking for things to change.

But violence does behave like a contageous process. And that's, y'know, not so popular. But this guy is just an Epidemiologist not, y'know, a famous voice actor.

I'm sure the political theater and moral emotionalism and whatnot is going to work out much better than science.
It's certainly better funded. By both sides. And that's what we need, money makes right. Most popular, loudest shouted slogans become legislation.

Neuroscience, pfft. Replacing prisons with playgrounds and green space, yahright. Man, I'm so soft on gun crime focusing on the "people" element of the equation.

Maybe reframe the context: Guns don't die, people do.

Either way, I stand by my comment that the video is poor and the argument therein is just emotionalism and counterproductive.
CPB didn't like it ForFS, and my "yeah, this isn't helpful - here's why" comment augmenting that coment is wrong?

Must be because I'm back in the hills with muh gunsNbibleNdawgNmahNRA.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:48 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was 11 when we came to the US, to a semi-rural community in the south. There were guns. Lots of guns; like my dad, growing up in the boonies of Canada, also grew up with guns.

The thing was - everyone knew that a gun was like a backhoe or a hammer or a kitchen knife. It was a tool that had specific uses and could be dangerous if you weren't paying attention. So you paid attention and in the school there was a gun-safety course and, honestly, everything was just fine. People had reasonable and intelligent attitudes towards guns - no one rabidly defended their 'right to bear arms,' maybe because no one had 'threatened' to take them away. Empirically, I don't know how many more or less deaths there were due to gun violence then (late 70's - early 80's), but I know people's attitudes about guns were less sharp.

What I find really curious is the way perception of guns has changed in the last twenty years. Most perplexing is the gun forums where people go on and on about the modifications they make to their guns not, necessarily, to make them more efficient or reliable tools, but just cause they'll look cooler. Like other people do with cars, or phone-cases, or computers or any other com modifiable product. That is, that guns have become a commercialized commodity that exists on the same level as cars or phone cases or any other item that people buy and then up-grade and etc etc etc. They've been divorced from their actual function and turned into iGuns.

I think a simple rolling back of this process (examples of changes like this could be the marijuana decriminalization or gay marriage, or de-segregation for that matter) would do it. It can be done - the pliability of the culture at large and society is made out to be way way more difficult than it is. What's missing is the will and money to do so.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:17 AM on March 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


no one rabidly defended their 'right to bear arms,' maybe because no one had 'threatened' to take them away.

Yeah, it's actually kind of...weird and sad, how much of a disconnect there is between people who want less guns, and the people they're talking at/tactics they utilize.

I own guns and am often in gun shops to buy ammunition or parts or what have you, so I get to see kind of how these things spike when bans are talked about. And every time a ban even starts gaining traction, prices jump enormously and you have panic buying. A couple years ago when AR bans were popping up, an AR that ordinarily would cost $500 was selling for $1500-2000. Gun speculators were making money hand over fist. New ARs were flying off the shelves so fast that some of the major manufacturers had a six month backlog. Ammunition was being bought in bulk and some bullets were costing as much as $2 each - and people were paying it. People were buying five, six guns at a time, because they were worried they would never be able to buy another one again.

But it's also interesting because the mass prevalence of ARs in the country is another thing that really only started popping up twenty, thirty years ago when people started trying to ban them. Before then, they were not the most popular guns. Now they're a lot of people's first choice.

And I'm in many ways an ideal person to look at this - I'm someone who grew up in a shitty neighborhood in NYC and didn't like guns for many years and came late to them. I have almost nothing in common, culturally, with a lot of the people who own guns. And I gave little thought to the whole issue of gun control, and kind of eyerolled at Second Amendment advocates.

But then I got raped and threatened, and I wanted to go get a gun for defense - as a tool I did not intend to use often - and I couldn't. There were artificial barriers placed in my way and people talking about what kind of person I was for wanting such a thing and what was wrong with me and WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN and and and.

And now I own guns and identify as a gunowner. Three years ago I bought a membership to the NRA, despite finding their messaging kind of offensive and their magazines cartoonishly hilarious. And sometimes I renew my membership. Because I really hate people trying to make my decisions for me, and I really hate the stereotypes a lot of people have about gun owners. And so there's a lot of "Oh yeah? Fuck you, buddy. Fuck you." I have definitely been polarized by the climate in the country. There's a few other factors, but those are the main ones that have made me so aggressive on this note.

I think of that when I think of this incident. Like, what would my reaction be if I had walked into a gun store or what I thought was a gun store, and been met with that kind of shit. And I honestly think it would have made me want to go buy a gun, and then call them up and thank them for motivating me to buy a gun. Because fuck those guys.

And whether you want gun control or not, that's a problem. It's a problem when you're making people who happen to own guns into people who are gunowners. It's a problem when you're attacking people on moral grounds for their use or ownership of a particular tool, because it makes them band together into a group even if they would not have though to define themselves by that commonality previously.
posted by corb at 10:05 AM on March 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


That's the thing corb, the irony is a firearm is a tactical response and the social responses to that ... er... response has been tactical as well.

In terms of rape, I know it's a third rail topic but *holds breath* I've always considered the responses to it need to be the same as the responses to gun violence and other social problems.
That is, exactly yes not polarization, but acceptance, inclusion and communication and openness.
There still seems to be this social stigma around being a victim as opposed to treating it purely clinically or scientifically.
Same deal with mental health and drugs - a sort of "you let this happen to yourself" and "now we have to clean it up" as opposed to an acceptance of it as a facet of the society we're in - as a mathematical and scientific certainty (indeed, so is the lottery - inevitably, someone will win despite the odds being tremendously against any given person winning) - and so something that needs to be controlled using those elements.

Tactically, firearms can protect one against rape. So can a dog, housemates, etc. All those things can mitigate the odds of it happening to YOU.
But no tactical response can lessen the odds of something happening - period.

So too with gun control, as far as the short term goes and under the current circumstances limited to the foreseeable future with the mass surplus of civilian small arms in and the social conditions in the U.S. Removing a gun from the hand of a given set of people is a tactical response. Regardless of efficicacy, even if it works perfectly, even if it's absolute in power - and I'm speaking of the enforcement element, it's still a localized and specific response to one element of the equation - e.g. the IRA smuggled tons of weapons into Ireland despite death squads.

Rape defense mostly focuses on this as well. Pepper spray. Don't leave your drink unattended. How to walk with awareness. Not bad stuff, but certainly attacking the mindset - the jokes, the culture, objectification (indeed, sex is such a commodity in commercial media), the guilt/shame/fear of speaking out when it should be the opposite (the rapist, their friends, family, etc. should be afraid, ashamed, etc). The idea that men can't be raped or that it's hilarious or deserved when they are (say in prison).

Attacking that mindset and eliminating that kind of thinking would be a strategic victory. And typically it starts with conversations. From parents. Friends. Just talk. Maybe some intervention. Some social censure. Better education. The Ray Rice thing is pretty instructive and drew some clear lines where people stand (49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh said the right thing: “I can be very clear about that. If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding. There’s no tolerance for that. We would not [accept that player in our team]. We can be very clear.”)

As far as firearms go, I think someone who doesn't know how to properly use their firearms, one who turns it from a healthy respect (say, how one prizes woodworking tools and power tools such as chainsaws which, looking at the attrition rate on Loggers, are fairly dangerous) to an unhealthy fetish that transcends the original usefulness of the thing (as mentioned above) needs the same treatement. I mean, what're you sick? If someone toted a chainsaw around and spoke endlessly about it, about how when the trees finally attack and take over the government in black helicopters we're all screwed unless we have wood tools, if Husqvarna pushed that sort of thing and sold color customizations, useless geegaws and doo dads hanging off the chainsaw, if the guy brought the chainsaw to LegoLand (where I assure you there are absolutely no wood products at all) or public meetings, and then started buying more and bigger chainsaws and modifying them and lugging them about eyeing neighbors easment foliage suspiciously - someone would have a word with him about the state of his mental health.
Guns, or chauvinism, not so much it seems. (Although I do have talks with people m'self. But again oar v. straw. Kinda funny when I'm buying a gambrel and butt out looking at someone buying a customized "Navy" "SEAL" "6" engraved (tm) "tactical" slide cover and we're both wondering WTF the other guy is doing).

Of course, this guy breaks it from both ends.

As it sits, I think it's not a false equivalency. We need to avoid the emotionalism (and throwing red meat to the base) in this kind of discourse or it falls to the default setting of getting it off whatever salient (or prurient) media exists on the subject.

For guns that's typically extremists on either side and/or video games and movies. For sex, usually winds up being internet porn.

We need to take it seriously, pull it out in the open no matter how uncomfortable it feels or how dissonent the opposition seems and talk about it in scientific terms or continue to suffer the social effects. Silence and fear are the two most damaging weapons in the world.
Talking about these subjects in a non-manipulative manner eliminates the little slice of power extremists have when you take them seriously or adopt their tactics.

Guns only have tactical power. Use them to create fear and the climate becomes fearful. The truth is only when the gun is used, or not. (Line from the Deer Hunter: "This is this. It's not something else.")

If it's used as a tool of fear then the best method is not to give that legitimacy then attack the weapon itself, but to reduce the power it has to create fear.
Best example I can think of is Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee. Just blows off a guy with a rifle and bayonet. (Here it is). It's great. Just Pffft. Whatever.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:02 PM on March 24, 2015


Attacking that mindset and eliminating that kind of thinking would be a strategic victory.

I mean, you're completely right on both scores in terms of how to eliminate the problem overall - but the real problem is, what do you do in the meantime? Because I think that if we lived in a society where everyone could count on well-policed areas, with no threat of violence or sexual assault, where the police were friendly and helpful and unbiased and policing exactly as well in poor neighborhoods and rural neighborhoods as rich ones, that people wouldn't feel the need for immediate personal self defense - which is why people who do live in neighborhoods like that don't always understand the mentality of those who don't. And in a world where you could always trust in your government - that your government and police would be fair and kindly and treat all citizens well, regardless of who they were, then I think people wouldn't want to have arms just in case the government got tyrannical.

But we haven't solved those social problems yet. We don't have those good solutions. Yes, those things could maybe solve our social ills in the long term, but what do you do about today? What do you do about the people who aren't safe? What do we do about a police force that tends to contain, as well as the good guys, a lot of petty, bigoted thugs? What do we do about a government that authorizes assassination of American citizens?
posted by corb at 12:35 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Calls for a more civil and measured tone coming from the group that's already winning? Wait, I've heard this one before. The new wrinkle here, I guess, is that in this case, the group that's winning has nominated noted elevators of civil discourse such as Wayne LaPierre and Larry Pratt to deliver their message in a calm and reasoned manner.

Look, team gun control tried the civility thing for like seven years and got bupkis. The assault weapon ban expired in 2004. Between then and roughly around the Tucson schooting, gun control groups were virtually silent, with the policies they pushed for almost exclusively defensive in nature, as they were just trying to keep existing policy intact in the wake of the Heller and McDonald cases. After the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 they called for more gun control, but aside from a sternly worded press releases, what did that amount to? Oh, right, expansions of gun rights at the federal level under Obama, and erosions of state and municipal laws all over the country.

So then Tucson happens, and then Aurora, and then Newtown. Each time, gun control groups put out some press releases, maybe a video asking people to call their congressperson. The only concrete proposal to come out in the wake of these shootings is the Manchin-Toomey amendment, which could maybe be called a quarter of a loaf for the gun control side if you squinted at it right. Yet it still goes down in flames.

In this context, I have a really hard time faulting gun control groups for looking at new ways of trying to motivate people. They see the NRA and like-minded groups winning in no small part because their base is passionately motivated by emotional appeals where the government is going to come take their guns away, and everyone around them wants to kill them and their families. These groups look at the polling data that says most people favor more gun control, but Congress doesn't care because guns are voting issue for the NRA's base, but just an ancillary issue for the people who favor gun control.

Under these circumstances, what are gun control groups supposed to do? The recommendation here seems to be to have yet another national conversation, and to support various programs to reduce violence. I share the desire to participate in that conversation, and work to address the causes of violence, but given that violent crime is just one of the categories of gun deaths, and not even the largest category, this would be a necessary but not sufficient step. There is no tension between supporting programs to reduce violence and also wanting to close the private sale loophole, conduct stronger background checks, etc. If anything, these are complementary.

All of this talk about pilot programs and changing police approaches doesn't change the fact that the gun lobby has a vested financial interest in the continued sale of their products. Even the weakest of background check bills and efforts are dead letters as soon as the gun manufacturer lobby signals their opposition to them, which they always do. The gun lobby will never be a willing partner in anything that reduces access to their products, and they're not going away. We can reduce violence in this neighborhood or make people happier with the cops in that neighborhood, but the NRA is the honey badger -- it doesn't give a fuck as long as the checks clear.

The only way that changes is if gun control becomes a voting issue for the large majority of the electorate that does favor stricter regulation, and this ad is an effort to increase the visibility of the issue. And here it's met with calls to unilaterally disarm in the messaging wars, as if the NRA would then put down its arms and welcome a compromise. What world do you guys live in?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:09 PM on March 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


One were selling fake guns in a traditionally anti gun neighborhood is considered a waste of resources.

The SNL "show us your guns" skit did more to raise awareness then this skit.
WHY YOU TAKING US GUNZ!
posted by clavdivs at 2:52 PM on March 24, 2015


Dropping back in to explain my comments re: frequency distribution. Even if we take some of the studies (like, say, Kellerman) at face value -- and I don't-- , it still doesn't address the issue of outliers. So even if *on average* a firearm increases the chance of homicide, this doesn't address the people who fall outside the central part of the data.

And those people may very well be civil rights activists, union organizers, abortion clinic providers, transgender sex worker advocates etc. Those are by definition people on the margin. And sometimes, probably always, they are the ones who push society's boundaries and open the space. They --we-- definitely can't depend on the police for protection; no, in many cases it is the police who are repressing them. That's not something caught inside a discussion of data points within one standard deviation of the median. Stop and think for a second about the terms we're using here -- "normal" -- "deviation" -- these are statistical terms, that were used eventually to describe people's sexual, racial, political identities, with the deviants a target.

Oh and I'm one of those urban dwelling people of color too -- so are most of my gun owning friends.
posted by wuwei at 4:34 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


it still doesn't address the issue of outliers.

That's because we don't set public policy based on outliers, we set it based on what creates the maximum average benefit for the entire population. The requirement that everyone carry auto insurance doesn't address the issue of outliers who are really good drivers who will never get in an accident, but we don't let people decide for themselves whether they need insurance. Pilot licensing requirements don't address the issue of outliers who are ace pilots within only a handful of hours, but we don't let people skip training if they feel like they've got it figured out.

Think of virtually any law that places limits on what individuals can do and there's bound to be someone who doesn't really need that law because they'd be a good citizen without it, but if we were to write laws optimizing for their preferences, there'd be thousands of new EPA Superfund sites, rampant consumer fraud, pervasive employment discrimination, and on and on. Whether you personally care for the relevant environmental, business, or employment laws on their merits is irrelevant to the fundamental truth that it's simply impossible to make everyone in the population happy with any set of laws, so you do the best you can by trying to make things better for people on average.

People who have their own definitions for "better" won't be happy, and they can make their opinions known to their representatives and at the ballot box, but this notion you're putting forth that special snowflakes at one end of the distribution or another need special consideration goes against the principles of majority rule and promoting the general welfare.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:34 AM on March 25, 2015


Oh, and with respect to your implication that gun control is detrimental to marginalized groups, support for gun control is sky high among African American and non-white Hispanic populations, but tends to vary very little based on income, with a slight increase (56% vs 48%) in favoring more gun control among people making $30k or less than among higher income levels. Unmarried women, who might be thought of as a group with more incentive to carry a gun for personal protection, show a 2-to-1 preference for more gun control. Yes, there are undoubtedly individual marginalized people in these populations who would prefer to carry a firearm to protect themselves, but we in the U.S. generally try to let each jurisdiction set laws in accordance with the majority preferences in those jurisdictions, and you just can't hand-wave away the fact that folks want gun control by saying some of them don't.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:54 AM on March 25, 2015


We're never going to achieve a utopia. There is always work to be done. And thinking and questioning can slow progress, but that allows us to adapt and learn at each step and consider the goal of our pursuit rather than rushing headlong after what we've previously defined as "success"

The civil rights movement in the U.S., e.g., is ongoing. There won't be a complete victory until all thinking everywhere has changed. (By then, the issue won't matter any more than what really happened, or didn't, to JFK - did Marcus Junius Brutus act alone and end the Roman Republic? Who cares at this point beyond academically?)
But there are milestones. The voting rights act. The Obama presidency. At no single point can you really say it's accomplished. But progress is made.

It's important to not confuse movement with action, nor confuse attriting your enemy with success.

I think we can all agree that the major argument (here, and more generally in the U.S.) is about method - the method of safety, of reducing violence, of trust and security, and the methods used to argue those points.
(The vested interests aside, people with money in the game are always going to be biased beyond the capacity for reason)

But it's not about "winning" or about showing how bad the other side is, it's about getting to where you want to be. If you take a wrong turn than going forward doesn't get you closer to the goal - no matter how crazy your opposition is.

The truth is, you don't have to live with your enemy. I suppose I'm paraphrasing Gandhi here, but that's the only change that matters. If you're on the wrong path - regardless of whatever else the world is doing - then you have to correct course, and only then can you really move forward, and only then will anyone follow you.

Or we can keep scrapping.
And believe me, I've done enough of that to know how shallow and ephemeral those victories are.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:05 AM on March 25, 2015


with respect to your implication that gun control is detrimental to marginalized groups, support for gun control is sky high among African American and non-white Hispanic populations

First of all, as a Hispanic in the conversation, let me say there is no such thing as a "white Hispanic." Hispanic is a racial category equally as much as any other racial category. The concept of "white Hispanic," as offered on the US Census and HMIS and other formalized governmental data, was a recent enormous controversy, an attempt to try to offer assimilation to those who can pass. Trying to quantify Hispanics based on what color you think their skin is is like trying to decide precisely how much African-American ancestry makes you black. It is extremely offensive when done by outsiders.

Secondly, and this is the case with every marginalized population, you will always find controversy and debate over how precisely to protect themselves against the dangers engendered by their marginalized status. African-American support of gun control is by no means as monolithic as you seem to believe. In fact, from that article,
In her landmark reports on lynching, Ida B. Wells, a co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women, wrote, "a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every Black home" for the "protection which the law refuses to give."
Some believe that it is by becoming more inoffensive, by shrinking back, by promising "we are just like you" so that they can be rewarded by equality. Others believe that they are entitled to be who they are and defend themselves in the absence of said equality. This is the age old debate. You have, for example, the tactics of Martin Luther King, who made sure that respectable, dignified, lighter-skinned and married Rosa Parks would be the face of the movement, not angry, judged-promiscuous teenager Claudette Colvin; MLK who made sure that to a white population afraid of scary violent black men, that they would be completely nonviolent even in the face of utter brutality. Then you have the tactics of the Black Panthers and Malcolm X, who did not feel they needed to bow for fair treatment. When Malcolm X talked about justice by any means necessary, he was talking about the violence which was already taking place without governmental recourse.
And by "conditions of peace and security," [we mean] we have to eliminate the barking of the police dogs, we have to eliminate the police clubs, we have to eliminate the water hoses, we have to eliminate all of these things that have become so characteristic of the American so called dream. These have to be eliminated. Then we will be living in a condition of peace and security. We can never have peace and security as long as one black man in this country is being bitten by a police dog.
I'll agree with you that there's a large - usually church driven - attempt to get guns out of the hands of young African Americans by more 'respectable' African Americans. But you cannot separate that from its history, where in an attempt to convince whites to let them assimilate, the NAACP and other civil rights groups tried to distance themselves from the self-defense, pro-gun wing. (This respectability politics is of course not unique to African-Americans - you see this also with, for example, the HRC campaign for gay marriage, versus other groups who feel they were putting only the socially acceptable voices out front.)
posted by corb at 9:49 AM on March 25, 2015


Trying to quantify Hispanics based on what color you think their skin is is like trying to decide precisely how much African-American ancestry makes you black. It is extremely offensive when done by outsiders.

It's a Pew survey. The race categories are self-reported by respondents, not "outsiders."

Sure, at the margins, there's the "which box do I check?" problem, but this isn't some government jackboot putting people into categories, it's people answering "what ethnicity are you?", and "mixed race / prefer not to say" is usually an option, albeit one that usually puts you into a category too small to get meaningful results from.

But the idea that this somehow undermines the numbers is absurd -- the numbers are what they are, for racial categories people are putting themselves in.

Secondly, and this is the case with every marginalized population, you will always find controversy and debate over how precisely to protect themselves against the dangers engendered by their marginalized status.

There is controversy. There is debate. There are also numbers, and the numbers say that black and brown populations overwhelmingly favor gun control. You can try to cast FUD on the numbers by making it into some "respectability politics" ploy on behalf of some shadowy cabal of Black leaders, but people think what they think, and trying to blame what they think on pressure by others seems mighty paternalistic to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2015


And believe me, I've done enough of that to know how shallow and ephemeral those victories are.

Are they really shallow and ephemeral, though?

I probably don't have to tell you any of this, but gun control was barely an issue for most of the history of our republic, and most gun control measures of the 19th and early 20th centuries were uncontroversial at the time. In the early C20th the guns started getting more powerful, so the feds started trying to rein in unrestrained access to them with laws like the 1934 NFA, which as I'm sure you know the NRA supported, because it wasn't yet the profit-seeking behemoth it's become today.

The transition from willing partner in sensible gun regulation to "cold dead hands" opposition to any compromise at all happened gradually, but started to become noticeable in the group's messaging in the 1970s. Since then, the NRA has a win-loss record that the Harlem Globetrotters would dream of. If that's a shallow and ephemeral victory, well, I'd certainly take it.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:03 AM on March 25, 2015


That's because we don't set public policy based on outliers, we set it based on what creates the maximum average benefit for the entire population. The requirement that everyone carry auto insurance doesn't address the issue of outliers who are really good drivers who will never get in an accident, but we don't let people decide for themselves whether they need insurance. Pilot licensing requirements don't address the issue of outliers who are ace pilots within only a handful of hours, but we don't let people skip training if they feel like they've got it figured out.

If this is true then why the overwhelming noise from the gun control side about guns that just aren't used in crimes, ie "assault weapons" and "high capacity clips/magazines". The shootings that these items are a factor in get all kinds of headlines but are certainly something that qualifies as an outlier. The reason there is so much emotional, passionate opposition to the modern gun control movement is because the people behind the movement are clearly, and even admittedly, pursuing a slippery slope strategy to outlaw civilian ownership of guns. Quotes from Diane Fienstein, Josh Sugarman back this up.

The studies of the support for gun control items like expanding background checks are just as bad, if not worse, than the studies for defensive gun uses. The laws that are put forward are such a mess that the prosecutors and police don't want to touch them (Washington State I-597 referendum) and the modern movement is kept alive pretty much solely based on the support of billionaires and often from out of state (when the Koch's do it, it means the end of democracy, when Bloomberg does it, well that is just fine cause it fits the leftist narrative). The private sale provision in the law is their so people can exchange private property among themselves without any legal issues, not as some kind of loophole to allow felons to have guns, even without a background check it is already illegal for felons to have guns and illegal to use a gun in the commision of crime, is making it illegaller going to really help that?

The modern gun control movement is pushing laws that are almost always designed to make owning guns a pain in the ass and destroy the gun culture-but hey who cares about that, i mean those rednecks in flyover country don't have any right to their culture, amirite?
posted by bartonlong at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


this isn't some government jackboot putting people into categories, it's people answering "what ethnicity are you?", and "mixed race / prefer not to say" is usually an option,

No, this is absolutely not that, I can attest as someone who collects this government data for my job. You 100% cannot list Hispanic as a race. You can try until you are blue in the face, but you are forced by the government to pick a race that is not Hispanic, and to pick "Hispanic/Non-Hispanic" as some sort of side category that isn't really about ethnicity either, because it is only for Hispanics.

If you force people to self report in only the ways you allow, you are not letting them actually self-report.
posted by corb at 10:55 AM on March 25, 2015


Jesus Christ. It's. Not. Government. Data. It's a Pew opinion poll. They are not bound by US Government standards about race categories, and "Non-White Hispanic" is one of the choices.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:03 AM on March 25, 2015


Whether or not this particular opinion poll is based on government racial standards, it is still using biased racial categories that are not uncontroversial, and I find it problematic to use them as though they were real categories when they are not. I also don't understand why it is so important to you to be able to pigeonhole Hispanics into white/not-white categories. Hispanics are Hispanics, just let them be what they are.
posted by corb at 12:13 PM on March 25, 2015


I didn't bring race into this conversation, and I'm not pigeonholing anyone -- I simply reported the ethnic breakdowns reported in a Pew survey. If you don't like the categories they use, take it up with them.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:18 PM on March 25, 2015


If this is true then why the overwhelming noise from the gun control side about guns that just aren't used in crimes, ie "assault weapons" and "high capacity clips/magazines".

I have a suspicion you know the answer to this question already, but I'll bite.

We know, especially after the failure of the weak-tea Manchin-Toomey amendment, that more substantive gun control measures are dead on arrival. Even things like expanded background checks and closing private sale loopholes that gun owners, hell, NRA members say they want are non-starters. The gun lobby has taken its ball and gone home.

Consequently, the gun control groups look for small gains where they can get them. They know that mass shootings, despite representing a small percent of all gun deaths, get more public attention, just as plane crashes get more attention than motor vehicle fatalities. The hope is that the public pressure can overcome the NRA's veto -- that states and municipalities that want to nibble around the edges with magazine restrictions and the like will be considered not worth the NRA's effort to fight because the residents in those states/municipalities aren't going to complain about them too much. This pushes gun control regulations more in the direction of aligning with local preferences, albeit in a small way.

Believe you me, if the gun lobby were a willing partner in a compromise, that compromise would have been had already, but they don't need to, and they're not going to if gun control groups were to suddenly stop trying to pass these smaller measures.

The private sale provision in the law is their so people can exchange private property among themselves without any legal issues, not as some kind of loophole to allow felons to have guns, even without a background check it is already illegal for felons to have guns and illegal to use a gun in the commision of crime, is making it illegaller going to really help that?

You can't simply disregard the effect of a law because its purpose may be pure. It allows for people to acquire guns illegally. Describing it as making it "illegaller" is simply absurd. It's about making sure people who wouldn't otherwise qualify to possess a gun legally cannot simply skip the step where they actually prove they can legally possess one. It's not about enhanced penalty, it's about reducing the number of illegal gun owners.

Make all the snarky yuk-yuks you want about rednecks in flyover country, but that's not what this is about. I would be thrilled to let states and municipalities regulate or not regulate guns as they see fit, but the gun lobby prevents that from happening. But if only gun control groups would be nicer, I'm *sure* the gun lobby would just love to take steps that would reduce sales of the items they make money selling.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:47 PM on March 25, 2015


If this is true then why the overwhelming noise from the gun control side about guns that just aren't used in crimes, ie "assault weapons" and "high capacity clips/magazines". The shootings that these items are a factor in get all kinds of headlines but are certainly something that qualifies as an outlier.

Well, I think people see those sorts of guns (The semi-auto assault weapon versions of assault rifles) as largely useless for anything but efficiently killing people or to use as toys at the range. They aren't hunting weapons and opinions vary on if they are better for home defense than other options. They aren't particularly practical to carry all day for defense outside the home.

So it seems like to regulate them might reduce the severity of "outlier events" (a phrase to use when you don't want to say "classrooms painted in the blood of massacred first graders") while the only major cost would be to take away some toys from a bunch of adults who can get other toys to play with instead. My level of caring that they will have to buy different toys is precisely -27 caring.

Now, the laws as written to target that category of gun have already proven to be largely pointless and I don't see that changing. It's too fluid a category to write a law around and the guns are already out there anyway. (And other sorts of guns can be used for mass shooting as well) But opposing things like background checks when there is massive public support even among gun owners is basically confirmation that the gun lobby is completely fucking psycho. I'll remain an opponent of that lobby in general until they become sane, and I won't be voting to protect gun rights until that occurs. I think a lot of people who are anti-gun feel the same way. We want gun owners to start taking responsibility for fixing these laws and the lobby that claims to speak for them. But if you keep treating fellow citizens like enemies over this, you're going to be viewed as one right back.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2015


But opposing things like background checks when there is massive public support even among gun owners is basically confirmation that the gun lobby is completely fucking psycho

This is another example of how the pro-gun and gun-control folk really aren't talking to each other. Pro-gun folk do support background checks - but differently enforced and handled background checks than the gun-control crowd - which has also not shown themselves willing to give an inch. Hell, even in casual discussion it's rare for anyone to be willing to really look at the other side.

I'm pretty pro-gun, and I would 100% support making it mandatory for gun sellers to check the background of anyone that they are selling a gun to - if it is made able to be done in the convenience of your home or on your smartphone. I genuinely, truly, 100% do not even understand the objection to this. If the goal is to keep more guns out of the hands of criminals, why not give gun owners a better tool to ensure that they won't be selling their guns to criminals? I'd even be okay with prosecutions if it can be shown that you sold a gun to someone at a time when they would not have passed that online background check.

And the really crazy thing is - that system already exists for gun stores! The Federal Government has already created that system. When I go to buy a gun at a gun store, I have to sit at a computer and type in some info and then it comes back and tells them if I can walk out of the store with a gun or if I have to wait for a longer background check to come back. So genuinely, truly, I am asking in good faith, what is wrong with expanding access to that to allow gun owners the information to stop these illegal sales that everyone seems concerned about?
posted by corb at 2:36 PM on March 25, 2015


No, this is an example of pro-gun people refusing to take responsibility for what they let the gun lobby do. Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin are not "gun control folk" and have done plenty of communicating with gun owners.

It's not the fault of gun control folks that we don't have that law at all. 0%.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:47 PM on March 25, 2015


(And to be clear, that comment was directed at the lobby, not the folk. They are two different groups. The gun lobby is a lobby for companies that sell guns, not a lobby for people who own guns.)
posted by Drinky Die at 2:49 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


But opposing things like background checks when there is massive public support even among gun owners is basically confirmation that the gun lobby is completely fucking psycho. I'll remain an opponent of that lobby in general until they become sane, and I won't be voting to protect gun rights until that occurs. I think a lot of people who are anti-gun feel the same way. We want gun owners to start taking responsibility for fixing these laws and the lobby that claims to speak for them. But if you keep treating fellow citizens like enemies over this, you're going to be viewed as one right back.

Like Corb, I don't have a problem with background checks, and think that, overall, they are a net positive despite some inconvenience on my part when I have bought a gun. What I have a problem with how the laws are being written to close the private sale 'loophole'. If ANY other constitutionally protected right was so constrained metafilter would be up in arms about. Oregon just introduced a bill that appear to not be all that bad, much, much better than the Bloomberg written I-597 in Washington.

Well, I think people see those sorts of guns (The semi-auto assault weapon versions of assault rifles) as largely useless for anything but efficiently killing people or to use as toys at the range. They aren't hunting weapons and opinions vary on if they are better for home defense than other options. They aren't particularly practical to carry all day for defense outside the home.

The second amendment is NOT about hunting, and i don't believe any of the supreme court cases where the second amendment has been the issue have mentioned hunting at all, however several different kinds of them are used extensively as hunting weapons. AR-15 rifles(and this is really what most people mean when talking about "assault weapons" make very, very good long range varmint guns. They are also very popular at long distance rifle matches and various ones make very, very good home/self defense guns (not that you should be carrying around in public though). That being said we do not live in a society where you need to get permission or justify exercising your natural rights-self defense among them.

So it seems like to regulate them might reduce the severity of "outlier events" (a phrase to use when you don't want to say "classrooms painted in the blood of massacred first graders") while the only major cost would be to take away some toys from a bunch of adults who can get other toys to play with instead. My level of caring that they will have to buy different toys is precisely -27 caring.

And this is the attitude I am talking about. Law abiding, responsible citizens choose to have a hobby you don't like and so you want to take it away from them due to your perception of evil guns/gunowners, that have no basis in reality.
posted by bartonlong at 11:55 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I have a problem with how the laws are being written to close the private sale 'loophole'. If ANY other constitutionally protected right

You should probably take that up with Messrs. Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. From the majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller:
"Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our [majority] opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
Now, that passage is dictum and thus isn't formally binding or precedent-setting, but it does give you an idea that the Court is aware that, just like the First Amendment, the Second Amendment has limits, and among those limits are the very things that universal background checks aim to do, including keeping them out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill. The passage doesn't directly say that these restrictions are constitutional, because that question wasn't before the Court in that case, but there's no reason to include that passage other than to make it clear that the individual right to bear arms doesn't foreclose on the ability of government to place limits on that right just as they do for pretty much every other constitutional right.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2015


Like Corb, I don't have a problem with background checks, and think that, overall, they are a net positive despite some inconvenience on my part when I have bought a gun. What I have a problem with how the laws are being written to close the private sale 'loophole'. If ANY other constitutionally protected right was so constrained metafilter would be up in arms about. Oregon just introduced a bill that appear to not be all that bad, much, much better than the Bloomberg written I-597 in Washington.

What was wrong with Toomey Manchin that the Oregon bill does better?

The second amendment is NOT about hunting, and i don't believe any of the supreme court cases where the second amendment has been the issue have mentioned hunting at all, however several different kinds of them are used extensively as hunting weapons.

When I said, "I think people see..." you thought I meant by buddies at the Supreme Court?

And this is the attitude I am talking about. Law abiding, responsible citizens choose to have a hobby you don't like and so you want to take it away from them due to your perception of evil guns/gunowners, that have no basis in reality.

Saying that I don't care if you have your toy taken away is not the same as saying it should happen, I specifically said the AWB type bills didn't and probably can't work and have pointed out that posters like corb have really shifted my opinion on guns lately. But until gun owners want to meet us halfway and actually get bills like Toomey Manchin, at a minimum, passed I don't see why I should care at all about their concerns about their toys while we're all just in the waiting mode for the next unstable person shooting up a school or workplace or church or family.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2015


What was wrong with Toomey Manchin that the Oregon bill does better?

So I think some of this is frustration talking, but I'm going to take a stab at it anyway, at least in terms of what, specifically, outside the hype, was wrong with Toomey Manchin.

Firstly and most obviously, I really don't think a lot of people understand what it means to say background checks must be engaged in for gun shows and private sales. As I mentioned, citizens do not have access to the NICS database for the purpose of firearm sales. This is a problem, and I would be really, really interested in anyone talking frankly about why they think it shouldnt' be fixed.

So in the absence of that, what you're essentially saying is that firearm sales must pass through what's called an FFL. This is something that people who don't deal with it have very little knowledge of. Essentially, it's a person that the ATF has decided can be trusted to process firearms sales. And in exchange for that authorization from the ATF, the ATF requires certain things from them; most notably and contentiously, the record-keeping and compliance function. FFLs are required to maintain records on the name, age, address, and serial numbers of anyone transfering firearms through them for five years - and to notify the federal government whenever anyone buys two guns or more at a time.

Now I understand that there are differing ideas about whether this is a bad thing or not - but I have to ask you to at least try to understand that for some people, this stuff is a legitimate concern and they absolutely, 100% do not want the government to have access to who has which guns, or to have the capability to assemble a registry if they wanted to. (Because the NSA has shown, if something can be assembled and done, it will be, regardless of the legality)

But back to the FFL - people who want to become one need to pay a fee of up to 3,000$, which means they have a strong financial incentive to recoup some of that. Partially as a result of that, and partially as a result of scarcity on the market, that makes dealing with an FFL expensive. Most commonly, it's about $50-100 a transfer, which can be as much as 50% or 75% of the sale for lower-end guns.

This actually usually isn't a problem for gun shows. The gun show loophole is not really much of an actual loophole - small gunsellers are usually already FFLs and usually check at the show or require people to be members (which requires a check) in order to trade or buy. But it does put a huge barrier on private sales - particularly on private sales that are taking place at lower pricepoints.
posted by corb at 9:25 PM on March 26, 2015


So for the tl;dr: these rules do not usually impact people buying expensive, fancy guns - but they do impact the guy who is just trying to get a small, cheap, functional gun to hunt or defend his family with.
posted by corb at 9:27 PM on March 26, 2015


This really isn't good enough?

The amendment would require background checks on all gun sales in person and over the internet with the exception of transfers between "friends and neighbors." It's unclear how broad that exception will be in practice, but the Washington Post reported that the background check requirement "would not cover private transactions between individuals, unless there was advertising or an online service involved." Private dealers would be required to keep records of gun sales, as licensed dealers have already been doing since 1968. Gun sellers who allow prohibited people to buy firearms would face a felony charge.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:37 PM on March 26, 2015


but I have to ask you to at least try to understand that for some people, this stuff is a legitimate concern and they absolutely, 100% do not want the government to have access to who has which guns, or to have the capability to assemble a registry if they wanted to.

On one side of the equation is the possibility of the dreaded tyrannical gun-grabbing government going door-to-door to round up the guns. On the other side is an increase in the number of people getting guns illegally. If you're picking the latter poison over the former, then you're just not very good at understanding risk.

To illustrate why, let's pretend that the NSA is, right now, spying on every single American gun show, parking lot, and back alley, recording every single private sale with video cameras, and using image recognition technology (I know, pretend it exists) to identify both parties in every single transaction to create a registry of every gun in the United States.

So, now what?

Do they start sending armed teams out to collect the guns? Do tanks and heavy artillery roll down the streets? There are, what, 40 million households with guns in them? Even if we mobilized every single sworn law enforcement officer, federal agent, and half of our military, how do all those guns actually get collected? How many military / law enforcement casualties will this hypothetical tyrannical government be willing to accept, especially considering a non-trivial number of those military / law enforcement personnel are themselves supporters of gun rights? The government isn't some amorphous thing, it's made up of citizens. Are these citizens really going to be able to go door to door disarming other citizens successfully?

The Waco siege is the template here if I understand the gun counter mindset -- do you really think the government is going to have the stomach to kick off millions of Wacos around the country? If they were, would it matter that you have guns when they have tanks?

The notion that a registry could become a thing isn't totally ridiculous, as there is no technical solution to the possibility that data, once collected, can end up in a database even if the law says don't do that. Still, that doesn't mean that the fears of the registry are worth taking seriously, as a registry wouldn't significantly change the equation for the hypothetical gun-grabbing government.

Registry or no registry, the notion that this could actually be a thing that happens is pure lunacy, and we have no duty to treat these paranoid fantasies as anything other than what they are.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:08 PM on March 26, 2015


the background check requirement "would not cover private transactions between individuals, unless there was advertising or an online service involved."

The problem is that this provision really fails to understand how things work in a modern internet age, and particularly, how the sale of guns generally works for those under the age of 45.

Let's take a real-life situation. I'm a lady who does the majority of my shopping - of any kind, including furniture - online. I can't remember the last time I visited a brick-and-mortar store that didn't sell food and wasn't on a military base. 85% of my expenditures go directly to Amazon for entirely legal products. Why am I buying on Amazon, you ask? Because the prices are better, and because I can sort through a lot of competing options quickly from the convenience of my home.

When I buy a gun, I want the same convenience. And sadly, the big companies that I rely on for most of my other shopping, the ones who could easily and cheaply perform background checks if they felt like it - like Amazon - don't allow gun sales or won't deliver them to my house. So what are my choices, as a professional with more money than time? It would be places like gunbroker.com, but since the 70s, federal regulations have required interstate gun sales to go through an FFL, and so the prices are higher than I would like and they don't deliver. What do I really do? Use the internet - because that is the way I communicate - to find out if anyone has a gun for sale or knows anyone who's selling a gun. I use an online service, like Facebook, or Gchat, or Skype, or a dozen other things. Saying the rule only covers things that involve online services is kind of like, twenty years ago, saying that the rule only covers things that involve telephones.
posted by corb at 9:29 AM on March 27, 2015


You don't have a Constitutional right to the cheapest prices or most convenient shopping options.
posted by rtha at 10:40 AM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


But back to the FFL - people who want to become one need to pay a fee of up to 3,000$, which means they have a strong financial incentive to recoup some of that. Partially as a result of that, and partially as a result of scarcity on the market, that makes dealing with an FFL expensive. Most commonly, it's about $50-100 a transfer, which can be as much as 50% or 75% of the sale for lower-end guns.

This is very true. It adds a lot of friction, inconvenience, and expense to buying or shipping a firearm, without necessarily adding a lot of safety and security. I'm not sure what the right answer is, but the current system is a joke from start to finish. It's easy to bypass if you have nefarious impulses, and aggravating to comply with in a legal manner.

But regardless that it doesn't make any logical sense, politically any change that allowed commercial firearms transactions to take place without a step that involves you going up to a counter and filling out a form with a human clerk isn't going to happen. JFK was shot with a mail ordered gun, for example, and I can only imagine the uproar the first time someone killed a person with a gun ordered from Amazon.

Registry or no registry, the notion that this could actually be a thing that happens is pure lunacy, and we have no duty to treat these paranoid fantasies as anything other than what they are.

Worries about national registries feel very 1990s to me -- other than in occasional comments on the internet, I haven't heard anyone express serious concern about a national gun registry in more than a decade (perhaps because people assume that data has been kept along with all the other illegal NSA activity). At the same time though, at least part of why that ship has sailed is because of the enormous pushback registry proposals have received, including the gazillion assault rifles that have been sold to people fervently opposed to the idea of any such registry. At least at the local level, outside of large cities, overall local law enforcement is very much opposed to any extension of national oversight or limitations on firearms. Quite a few sheriffs have been vocal on this, and I think Washington has heard the message loud and clear.

The bottom line is that at least for the present a very robust reading of the second amendment is the accepted constitutional law of the land, and that is not looking likely to change. There is clear popular support for reasonable tightening of background checks and so on, and the roadblocks are fully in the political system. The kinds of public outreach in this FPP aren't what is really needed -- it's some different way to pressure politicians to be responsive to their actual constituents, while also being conscious of the need to write regulations that will be enforced at the local level rather than selectively ignored.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


You don't have a Constitutional right to the cheapest prices or most convenient shopping options.

Yeah, but fine, they support the background checks just want it done slightly differently so it isn't an inconvenience. Where is the national bill they are organizing to get passed through Congress?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:35 AM on March 27, 2015


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