Print Story Inevitable.
By technician (Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:53:45 PM EST) (all tags)
I'm tired just thinking about it, but let's not get into it without at least understanding some things. About guns. In America.

Saturday morning found me at a local sporting goods store buying ammunition. The crass, tasteless nature of my timing wasn't unknown to me; I very nearly didn't do it. Thing was, I'd arranged weeks before to have some work folks meet at a local range. We do this every now and again, getting people of all sorts who happen to own guns out to the range. We shoot rifles, pistols, and shotguns. We're all sorts of people, from the most extremes of both sides of our political spectrum and a number of stops in between. Normally a fun day.

Friday, twenty children, six staff, a gunman and his mother were all killed. The 26 people in the school were killed in less than twenty minutes by a young man shooting a Bushmaster .223 rifle, a semi-automatic version of a military weapon. The sheer offensiveness of this act was impossible to fully comprehend, and the reactions of the media compounded the horror with profane, robust disinformation and terrifying, pointless imagery. The nature of the crime was immediately beyond comprehension; obviously the person who killed all of these people wasn't a stable, sane member of society. And while the media rapidly oscillates between "why" and "never forget," we, the country, are dragged through a range of responses that test some of our foundations. How did we end up here, again? What sort of community creates a young man who will be well remembered by a mediapathic society for the horrifying murders he committed? Where did we go wrong?

Saturday morning finds me buying a couple of hundred rounds of .223 and 9mm ammunition. A dispassionate observation of my actions wasn't possible; internally I felt that what I was doing was callous, irrational, and that part of what was wrong with our society was a lack of care about the very basics of decency. I was exhibiting the ruthless, uncaring standard that many of us operate by, were brought up by. And yet.

And yet, what I do with my guns doesn't have a thing to do with violence. It doesn't have a thing to do with killing anything, much less a human, much less an innocent child. What I do with my guns is what some people do with golf clubs or billiards; I engage a set of physics at a level that demands precision and skill, and I do so against only myself and the physical laws of the universe I live in. Plus the nature of the discussion that would have ensued had I suggested we cancel the range day made me weary just thinking of it. I was not in a mood to argue about guns.

And yet. Buying a fairly large amount of ammunition the day after the worst stateside massacre of my particular generation? I felt shame. The folks at the sporting goods store, though, felt differently. For them, it was a very busy day, as reactionary rednecks and hard core gun nuts went into panic buying mode, "knowing" that the government was minutes away from taking their weapons. I had a hard time finding 9mm in my particular configuration, and settled for some cheaper target brass that would do the job just as well as more expensive high pressure rounds.

Got me thinking, what sort of person is the gun nut? They tend to, in my circles, be Republican or Libertarian with a heavy right-wing bent. They profess patriotism but they hate the government. They hate the government so much that they buy a lot of guns to protect themselves from other citizens (because the government won't be able to protect them) and from the government itself. It says so, right in the founding documents. That we have to have guns, just in case the G gets unruly. Disregard any analysis of the verbiage, and throw away all your stats and definitions and supporting material; these folks are armed to the teeth with guns, ammo, and their own multi-billion dollar political and corporate machine. Your mountains of victims demand only more armaments. Your tears of rage and sadness, your questions, they only have one solution: more armaments. More guns in the hands of more people, more more more. Arm the teachers. Arm the kids. Arm everyone. Fuck the government. It can't do a thing. Down here on the streets it's Us versus Them, and They are going to have guns anyway, and They don't listen to law, so They will be a target if They attack me and mine.

The whole contract hinges on being attacked, and being attacked requires a mindset and an enemy. The mindset is fear. The enemy is usually darker skinned than my lily white friends, usually poor, usually desperate for drugs or cash or goods, determined and driven by want or drug induced craziness or all of the above. The enemy is also any politician not wrapped in biblical fervor, any politician that sees the government role as anything larger than a symbolic gesture.

For these folks, guns are a solution to any situation calling for a show of strength; they simply do not understand nonviolence, which they disregard as futile and weak. Their underlying operating code requires a set of fantasies, fantasies of the government collapsing or worse, of the government becoming draconian and controlling. Fantasies of men attacking their homes. Fantasies of terror, fantasies of their brave response to terror. The fantasies are about them taking unquestionable control of fear using tools that are far more terrifying than their fear is. The boogeymen that drive their day-to-day actions, the assassins and terrorists who influence their waking moments have more control over them than any weapon could stop. But they only feel safe with more, more, more.

Not that every gun nut redneck is a gun nut red neck. Feeling safe, feeling secure, is for some a priority above all others. Control by any means. For some folks, this is not an option; their lives were touched or twisted by some set of circumstances that changed their wiring. They live with fear, but are not guided by it. They are not guided by the fear so much as tenuous masters of it, and for them this control requires tools, weapons, faith (even if that faith is just in the positive action of their weapon). These people, a subset of the genre, are the last people you have to worry about. They don't lose their heads. They aren't the sort to use violence as a solution to a problem that doesn't require it. They've soldiered. They've had violence visited upon them in ways we, you and I, cannot imagine. For them, what it takes is discipline, control. And for them, weapons are part of that control. And in America, they can have all they want.

All of this leads to a set of questions about the nature of our society. About what it is that causes this fear and mistrust. About why it is that so much profit is made from so much weaponry. About the very foundation of our society, and the ways it has been manipulated by fear and greed. These are very, very hard questions because they require plunging into the nature of what we are as a country, and that plunge requires working through so many layers.

In my office, we do not speak of gun control. Those of us who support limitations in the weapons available to citizens cannot, with any expectation of rational discourse, speak our minds. In many ways speaking out about weapons is like speaking out about religion or abortion. It is that deeply ingrained, that divisive. The roots extend back to the wars that created our country and the types of people who first settled the country. The roots of the Gun Argument gained strength and wild diversity in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Gun Argument is as old as we are, and momentum is on the side of violence; we now have more than one gun for every person in the country, with just as many opinions about what should be allowed, or what should not be infringed.

Difficult at the very best, the problem isn't one that lends itself to a solution. There are emotional values here that are bigger than mere community. Something in the American nature that says a selfish emotion (fear) is more important than the good of the other. That solutions don't lie with governments, but with our selves and only our selves.

Fear is the foundation of our society. Fear is a selfish position. Fear means irrational responses are accepted as possible solutions. Fear drives markets, makes men do things they would not normally do. Fear means having the tools to destroy any motherfucker that comes through the door, fear means knowing in your heart that you'll need to take up arms against your government. We can say that we believe in freedom, but fear drives that belief.

Maybe it's the way we were formed. Maybe it's the immaturity of our country coupled with the timing of our rise to power, an ascent that took place lockstep with war, a modern rise with media focus. Maybe it's the very bones of us, the religious Scots Irish ballast that settled the south and made so much of us into a paradoxical subservient rebel, eager to please traditional powers while shunning and violently resisting progressive change.

Sunday, I showed up at the range with my rifle, a Remington 700-based .223 caliber bolt action target rig. It weighs 17 pounds, has a .98 profile 24" bull barrel and a Hogue polymer stock whose hollow bits have been filled with #4 lead shot to dampen recoil vibration. The trigger is custom worked, jeweled and filed to a crisp glass-break 2.5 pound pull. The front end uses a Harris bipod. The scope is a Nikon Monarch with a 8 - 32x variable zoom, good for sighting targets beyond the practical (accurate) distance of the rifle itself. I also brought with me two 9mm automatic pistols, and one .45LC single-action Colt 1845 Cattleman New Model six shooter. The range was busy, but on the rifle portion of the range it was all older men, all of us slowly, carefully putting tiny holes in pieces of paper 100 and 200 and 300 yards away. All of us quiet, all of us interested in each other's rigs. My rifle gets a lot of attention, because it is very obviously custom made to specifications that echo the competition focus of it's maker (a friend of mine who shoots competitively at 1000 and 1200 yards in 6.5mm bench rest).

For us, these weapons are not a way of life. To a man, we are hobbyists. To a man, we'd be just as obsessively building model steam trains or any sort of small, precise, disciplined pursuits. Yet due to the nature of our country we were here, some with military grade weaponry, some with single shot rifles designed in the 1800s. For two hours I quieted the parts of my conscience that knew this was all in very poor taste, and I sent 75 tiny fragments downrange, 100 yards away, into circles less than an inch across. For two hours I engaged parts of my brain that I normally use for very different things, and I judged trajectory and did math using intuition when possible, and a pencil and notebook when impossible. And at the end of it, I drove home, exhausted in some ways, wired in others, my normal post-range emotions.

And yet. In the back of my head, I calculated a very different set of math problems. I calculated the cost in life and emotion that this last tragic murder spree had cost us, as a society, as humans. Sunday night, our president spoke about just this. And what he said rang true beyond any measure of implied founding father militia intention. He said, in so many words, that we've had enough. That it is far past time to actually address this very hard problem. That we need to take on the challenge, not the Gun question alone, but the entire set of subsurface problems that allow a young man the ability and the desire to kill 6 year old kids. That it is well past time for us to grow up, and get over the fear that drives us into hoarding violence in anticipation of failure. That we need to get beyond our desire to respond with violence to violence.

"We can't tolerate this anymore," he said. "We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this."

Indeed. It is time to grow up and take on the very hard work that lies ahead. And no, it cannot just be politics that does it. It cannot just be religion. It is not just guns, and it is not just narrow minds. It is not just mental health, and it is not just education. It is a big problem, a sociological one that touches damn near every aspect of our lives. It is a very, very difficult problem and there will not be an easy or single solution. But we must start somewhere, and we must start now.

< Diary with blood and gore | Call from Dad... >
Inevitable. | 50 comments (50 topical, 0 hidden)
A couple thoughts on gun legislation by FlightTest (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:31:15 PM EST
1) Don't you know you're not allowed to discuss gun control rationally in the U.S.?  You must espouse either "ban them all" or "arm everyone" - a rational middle ground is not allowed.  I say that only half-joking, too many issues are framed by the extremes.

2) The definition of "Assault Weapon" has to be clearly codified.  It can't simply be "i know one when I see it.".

3) Related to (2), people need to understand what is, today, legal and illegal.  I've seen more than one rant on FB about how this guy shouldn't have been allowed to have a weapon that could shoot hundreds of rounds per second.  You and I know the Bushmaster is a semi-automatic weapon, and that fully-automatic weapons are extremely tightly regulated, and almost impossible to acquire legally, but I bet half of the U.S. doesn't know that,.

4) Any ban will have to ban ownership, not just transfer of such weapons.  California enacted a "large capacity magazine" ban in 2000, but it's only illegal to buy, sell, transfer, import, build, etc. a high capacity magazine, it's not illegal to posses one, unless the magazine didn't exist before 2000.  This has pretty much resulted in widespread ignoring of the law, since it's impossible to prove when you bought a magazine - no-one before 2000 would have bothered to keep a receipt because you couldn't know a ban was coming, and most magazines aren't serialized.  While "grandfathering" of existing weapons would be slightly more productive, since they are serialized and you can definitively prove it's manufacture date, it would result in almost the same situation - not being able to make possession of a pre-ban gun illegal.

5) As a result of (4), an assault weapons ban will necessarily include a buy-back, which will be very expensive for the taxpayers.  I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think the government can get away with just requiring owners to hand them over without compensation.

6) Finally, the last time we reacted to a national tragedy by hastily enacting laws, we got the Patriot Act and the TSA.  Let's not repeat that mistake as well, shall we?

During the Federal "Assault Weapon Ban" by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:29:50 PM EST
someone described on USENET as "unconstitutional". I pointed out that the constitution said "a well regulated militia" and not a "cool looking militia" (note I made no attempt to define "militia"). I also claimed (it was an sf group) that the text should have included Douglas Adam's text describing a kill-o-zap gun (from memory): "make it evil, he'd been told. Make it totally clear that there is a right and a wrong side of this gun. If that means sticking spikes and blackened bits all over it, so be it. This is not a gun for hanging over the mantle, it is for going out and making people miserable." If you define assault rifles by cosmetic principles (such as the BushI-era assault rifle "ban"), such a quote would help juries understand the concept.

In many of the less flamey discussions, there were often claims of a site claiming to educate writers about guns for fictional use. I haven't been able to google it, but on other pages it included the only serious attempt I've seen to describe (if not define) an assault rifle. The idea was that they were specifically designed during the Great War for going "over the top" and charging at the enemy. Thus they tended to be lighter, but still designed for combat. Note that as the news of this tragedy spread, I'm pretty sure that the .223 round was mentioned far earlier than the words "assault rifle" (maybe I was getting the wrong news). Until this post, I never thought of .223 as anything but an assault rifle round.


[ Parent ]
For me, by technician (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:43:24 PM EST
the .223 was a default hunting round, that step between a .22 and a 30 caliber (of any flavor). At the moment, it's not the best small round for the sort of shooting I do, but it is the cheapest to buy into initially. To shoot .22-50 or .270 means buying the bits to make your own rounds, or buying very, very expensive match ammo.

[ Parent ]
two points by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:13:28 PM EST
Damn straight on number 5.  Even if people are happy with a law being passed, they will not be happy that they don't get top dollar for their hardware.

Also can we stop with making laws with expiration dates in them.  Why was it the Assault Weapons ban needed to expire?  Why does any law need to expire?


[ Parent ]
Sunset provisions. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:58:18 AM EST
The idea was that democracy needed an alarm clock.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Gun Nuts by jimgon (4.00 / 3) #2 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:51:30 PM EST
Most gun nuts are perfectly responsible with their guns.  The problem is how do you engineer the system so that the people who shouldn't have gun don't have them.  The kid this time took his mother's guns.  Registration, gun locks, licenses to carry and that sort of thing helps, but the fact is that society in this country needs help and guns aren't really the problem.  Just a symptom.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
It's a perspective by Herring (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:56:59 PM EST
I mean, other countries are armed but incidences of shooting sprees like this are rarely seen outside of the US. OK, there was Hamilton in Dunblane (which was a bit suss but nevermind) and Breivik in Norway but these things seem to happen in the US so often.

I have read the suggestion (in The Guardian of course) that the macho libertarian culture in the US makes some feel like "losers". And that in order to feel powerful, a (very) few of the losers snap and by picking up guns and going on a killing spree then can feel powerful. This has a kind-of ring of truth about it (how many mass shootings have been carried out by senior managers?) but maybe a little convenient.

What technician says is right though - and very eloquently put. I don't think it's nearly the whole story though. Guns don't kill people, Americans with guns kill people. Why is that?

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Indeed. by technician (4.00 / 2) #12 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:07:13 PM EST
What is it about Americans? Michael Moore asked this question, and never did have an answer, but I think it's how we were founded, and who we were.

Joe Bageant has a great book called "Deer Hunting with Jesus" that I think just about everyone should read.

[ Parent ]
The answer by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:40:33 AM EST
is that I don't know.  I know lots of people with small arsenals, but all the people I know are well socialized.  And maybe that's the thing.  Too many people who are poorly socialized with access to firearms.  I'm sure the FBI has a perfect profile of the type of person who does this.  I think part of it is to do analysis of local gun laws and determine which ones seem to work the best and start applying them.  At the very least firearms need to be secured and gun owners need to act responsibly.  Someone wrote somewhere, "with firearms comes great responsibility."  I'm trying hard not to think too much about it because I won't come up with an answer that works.  Especially in the NRA's America.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Well socialized by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:30:10 PM EST
The trouble is that it only takes one.  Only 0.00001% of gun owners become spree killers.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
This is the thing by Herring (2.00 / 0) #35 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:48:31 PM EST
In lobbying for the rights of the (relatively) sane 99.9% to own assault weapons, they are also arguing for the unhinged 0.1% and the barking mad 0.0001%.

What gets me is that the NRA types haven't go the balls to stand up on the TV and say that these tragedies are a price worth paying for the freedom of the 99.999%. Because they must believe that. So why not stand up in front of the general public and say so.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
The thing to consider by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #37 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:23:32 PM EST
For every child that dies in an incident like this, a hundred or more die from garden variety gun violence.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
and for the relatively sane by garlic (2.00 / 0) #42 Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:59:01 AM EST
they're just toys that need to be treated with a lot of respect. We banned fucking lawn darts because of a few injuries to children, or those kinder eggs, but guns, no way, no how.

[ Parent ]
i'm still pissed they banned jarts. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #43 Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:11:39 AM EST
i loved those things when i was a kid. just sayin'. 

[ Parent ]
True by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #44 Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 02:41:10 PM EST
But just imagine how much of a political loser such an argument would be, particularly in the wake of these things.

Humans are terrible at calculating risk.  The risk that you or your kids will die in a mass shooting is still extremely small compared to the other risks we face.  If we really want to protect kids lives we'd be banning soda pop and french fries in school, not guns.

I always see a lot of variations on the theme of "nobody needs x" where x was something gun-related in the wake of these acts of terrorism (which is what they are, except they aren't in turbans or robes, so we don't call them that).  Nobody needs an "assault weapon".  Nobody needs an "arsenal".  I personally someday would like to have a functional version of every major milestone infantry rifle from U.S. history from flintlock up through the AR-15 because I think it would be cool, and that would be, let's see, seven rifles.  Add to that shotguns for hunting/skeet, .22LR for plinking, and various handguns, and that probably seems like an arsenal to people who aren't shooters.

Anyway, to the "nobody needs x" crowd, I think it's a real slippery slope to go down the road of what only allowing people to have what we judge that they need.  I find it really astonishing that one of the people out there in the media beating the gun control drum is the Atlantic's James Fallows, who is also a private pilot, and therefore should be perfectly familiar with people arguing that it's just too dangerous to allow private citizens to be flying around our skies over our homes in their little planes.  And what if somebody loaded their Cessna up with explosives or some kind of chemical?

After 9/11 it was the political right, in general, that was arguing for new police/gov't powers to be able to fight The War On Terror, and it was the left, in general, that was saying that if we allowed 9/11 to change us, then We Were Letting The Terrorists Win.  Somehow, letting the actions of terrorists using guns in the US trump the recreational enjoyment and personal protection rights of millions of Americans gets a pass.

This is all assuming that a ban on guns would even work to remove them from circulation, which I don't think it would.

But anyway, the NRA or even average recreational gun owners would be shredded if we stood up in the wake of these tragedies and said "yes, this is terrible, but statistically it's not that big of a deal and isn't worth changing the fundamental nature of America as a free country over."

[ Parent ]
It happens in other places... by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #22 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:59:32 AM EST
Once. It happens in America again and again and again.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
the mother sounds like a nutbar too. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:14:11 AM EST
any questionaire used for screening gun buyers should include questions about whether the buyer is a survivalist, how many/how much guns, ammo, armor, gun related paraphenalia etc. they already have, whether they have children or other family members with psychological issues. 

[ Parent ]
At best by yankeehack (4.00 / 2) #25 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:57:53 AM EST
Mom sounds like she was lonely and isolated, and even more so after the divorce. No one has come forth saying that they knew her well and even her own brother, her family no less, has stated they haven't seen her or her kids in years.

I know how being the sole caregiver for a healthy child can envelop one's life - I can't imagine how it would be for someone with developmental issues and/or mentally ill.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

[ Parent ]
Mother - Son Relationship by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #38 Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:45:11 AM EST
He shot the mother four times in the face.  It says something about the relationship there. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
agreed, however, by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #40 Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 01:32:00 PM EST
she had a survivalist mentality and got her mentally disturbed son involved in shooting military grade weaponry, on top of which she evidently stored the weapons in such a way that he could access them independently. as sympathetic as single mothers are in general, if there's any exception, this mother has to be one. seems to me she had plenty of money but chose to use it in a bizarrely antisocial way. i don't think this a case of not having the resources to deal with a situation.

the only thing about the story that makes the mother seem sympathetic to me is the possibility that her son shot her in response to her trying to stop him. if she were not killed, she would probably be facing charges herself. hers is exactly the kind of behavior gun nuts denounce most loudly -- "only an idiot would do that."

[ Parent ]
Define "psychological issues" by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #45 Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 02:47:23 PM EST
How many people in this country currently take anti-depressants?  Or have ever taken them in the past?   I have.  One might imagine any kind of gun licensing organization taking an extremely dim view of any such person, simply because if only one ever happened to commit a mass shooting after having gotten a firearms license, they (the licensers) would be excoriated publicly.  The incentives for any kind of permitting organization are usually stacked towards the "deny" side (unless the requesters happen to be rich and powerful).

[ Parent ]
i'm comfortable with that. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #46 Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 03:16:24 PM EST
there are surely a lot of people on various anti-depressants and other psychoactive medications. there are also a lot of people who shouldn't have guns. i suspect the overlap of these two lots is pretty large.

i guess i would say that the mentally unstable should prepare themselves to side with the coming totalitarian takeover, rather than against it.

[ Parent ]
I like limiting magazines and guns to six rounds by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:02:22 PM EST
as permanently as possible. Not just a river like they apparently do in Canada.

More pie in the sky stuff would be limits on ammo purchases, though how do you differentiate from someone going target shooting from someone planning a massacre?

Maybe a high deposit on casings, you get the deposit back when you return an empty casing.

Somehow tying together bullets and casings with some microscopic tag, I think they do that with dynamite. I doubt that would stop a spree shooter.

Not much can stop a spree shooter in the US. by technician (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:40:06 PM EST
In fact, right now, nothing can. No set of passable (or even reasonable but un-passable) laws would prevent these sorts of mass shootings, whether gun control oriented or not. The cause isn't something that a six shot limit would handle. This guy had lots of magazines. If he'd had ten six shot magazines, he's still where he wants to be. He wants to be in the position of taking lives, leaving a very famous corpse behind, at his own hands. Laws can't stop that. Something much larger has to be attempted.

But yes, sensible limits are good. I'm all for making semi-autos as difficult to obtain as full autos.

[ Parent ]
I've seen it pointed out... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #13 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:22:14 PM EST
That Gabrielle Giffords' shooter was tackled when he was trying to change magazines and the Dark Knight shooter was tackled when his gun jammed.

It only takes a couple seconds to tackle someone.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
OK. by technician (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:36:19 PM EST
Stopping the act once it starts, yes, many things can accomplish this. Most are related to physics problems, some are a combination of physics and psychology.

I guess I should have written "prevent" vs stop.

[ Parent ]
Therefore by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #48 Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 03:20:40 PM EST
A smart spree shooter will just walk in with ten six-shot revolvers under their trench coat, Matrix-style.  Solved.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #39 Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:01:27 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by TheophileEscargot

[ Parent ]
limiting ammo is okay by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:15:58 PM EST
That'll stop some of the more hotheaded impulsive types, but someone who holds a grudge and can wait two years to exact revenge, they'll get their ammo.

[ Parent ]
The beltway sniper by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #41 Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 04:23:22 PM EST
would have been lethal with virtually any gun and would work around any bullet restriction (they only took one shot per murder/attempt). Fortunately, murder teams are even more rare than the lone rampager.


[ Parent ]
Culture change is hard... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:04:21 PM EST
You are very right in my opinion in diagnosing that the fear is the centre of all of this.

But it's really hard to see how you deal with the fear, it is part of the original caste system in the South - taken directly from the Scots/Irish clan models. And the rich across the country took it up because it worked so well at keeping the lower orders in their place.
That paradoxical subservient rebel is no more inherently subservient than all the uppity revolutionaries everywhere else in the world.
But if you can put the fear into him, he'll invest in the tribal structure. He's part of the unofficial army. He'll invest in his status and worth as a protector of the clan.

If you want a shred of hope for the future - if you can protect Obamacare and ideally over time extend it out, that's the kind of thing that changes the calculus of fear.

I think at a minimum by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:14:30 PM EST
...that the time has come to get the states involved in tracking/licensing/training/insuring/inspecting guns and their owners. To suggest this would cause a cry of "TYRANNY" loud enough to affect the migratory patterns of whales, but to at least assign the minimum restrictions/controls that a motor vehicle has does not seem unreasonable to me.

I would go whole hog too, down to just shy of Daisy Red Rider's. If you want to buy anything from a .22 on up to an AR-15, fine, and you can own as many of them as you want. But you're going to have to regularly prove to the state that you still posses it, that you are still capable of safely handling and caring for it, and you're going to regularly pay for insurance and title on the firearm, which will vary depending on the weapons intended use and potential for destruction.

It puts a practical limit on the number (and type) of firearms most people can afford to own, yes, but at the same time, does not physically limit the number. If you've got the cash, you can get however many you want. It decreases the number and ferocity of guns the average user will buy, and encourages the purchase of more reasonable firearms meant more for hunting and target shooting than just being physically impressive in some way. This isn't any different than we do for sports cars or giant SUV's. If you don't register a gun with the state, that's a chance you can take, but if you get caught operating one without the proper documentation, you're going to get in trouble.

It doesn't really address the issue of crazies being able to get guns, but I think what it does overall is just kind of calm down the obsession we have with firearms in this country. People like to talk about how "They're just tools", but when you see someone with 50 different types of handguns/rifles, which they talk about/lovingly post pictures of/obsess over, clearly it's a lot more than a tool for a lot of people. I think just in general, we need to stop glorifying gun ownership as this extension of manhood/personality, and treat them more as the utilitarian tools they are.

There are some things that gun laws can do by technician (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:36:24 PM EST
to affect gun crime a hundred years from now. There are some things gun laws could have done a hundred years ago to prevent crimes today.

The main point in my writing here was that it wasn't just the guns. Now, why the guy's mom had an AR is up for should not be away from debate, it should be near the center of the debate. But she owned it legally as far as we know, and obviously the guy was well trained in using it.

The underlying thing isn't guns, but the attitude that we need them so badly that we'll sacrifice a whole lot of innocent people every year to keep them. Where does our fear come from, where does our lack of respect for one another and for the government come from? I have plenty of all three, and I can't vocalize it yet, but there's a couple of hundred years of us being paranoid egomaniacs that seems to be catching up to us.

In re: licensing fees and whatnot, we currently do this with full auto weapons, and it is very effective at limiting access to them.

[ Parent ]
Well by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 2) #15 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:53:26 PM EST
It might seem like a cop-out, but I do think the media, and the way it tends to over-sensationalize things, is a lot of the cause of this fear you speak of. In all walks of life really; everything out there is going to kill you, everyone is out to get you, everything that happens is a crisis, all of the time. It's having an effect on the best of us, let alone those who's brain chemicals might be a bit out of balance.

A lot of the "damn the gubment" and "don't tread on me" stuff has been with us since the start of course, but I do think that it's a lot easier these days to get caught in your own echo chamber, just getting this feedback loop of doom and gloom that is probably pretty tough to tear yourself out of.

[ Parent ]
this is the question by R343L (4.00 / 1) #34 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:42:11 PM EST
A scientist I follow posted a blog entry on the why questions. Much like you, he's trying to point out that the stats aren't as interesting as trying to figure out why we want to own guns so much, why the guns we do and why some of us recoil at those who do (even non-criminal owners), etc.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
insurance by garlic (4.00 / 3) #9 Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:40:56 PM EST
that may be the key. you have to have insurance against the use of your weapon in an unlawful manslaughter/homicide.

Also, I'm not a fan of the 'just tools' argument. These are special sorts of tools designed for killing. You may be putting it over the mantle with the swords from cavalry days, or you may be safely practicing at the range while the sword owner is fencing gear. But it's still a tool designed with the intent to kill, whether that be game animals, varmits, or people. I'm lead to believe (but haven't verified) that a Chinese man stabbed a bunch of school children this weekend. But luckily none of them died, and mass stabbings are pretty damn uncommon everywhere.

I don't know the stats, but I bet the cost/benefit  of non-government employee fired guns in the US is way into the cost side. Perhaps you have to change that to the cost/benefit of non-government employee guns fired at people.

Certainly there's noone who's in a non-government sponsored militia that I would trust to correctly decide when to use their guns on people. 

[ Parent ]
Depends by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #49 Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 03:36:53 PM EST
Depends on how you're defining benefit vs. cost.  A lot of people derive pleasure from recreational shooting, which is a benefit to them.  I think most gun control advocates are really dismissive of this (they don't feel it's important enough to trump even one single child's life), and it's one reason why gun owners are so worried because they feel marginalized.  Which can lead to insular thinking and an us-vs.-them mindset.

[ Parent ]
it's a tough argument to make by garlic (2.00 / 0) #50 Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 03:58:47 PM EST
how many people is it acceptable to die each year so it's easier for you to do your hobby? Lawn darts were banned after 3 deaths. If your hobby is putting holes in paper targets, why not lower power hole punchers? Why not bow and arrow?

I know it's something like 95% or higher of gun owners that haven't had an incident with their guns.  but the incidents are so horrible that more mandatory restrictions, precautions, and training seems acceptable. That's how we've greatly reduced drunk driving deaths.

[ Parent ]
Are you a gun owner/shooter? by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #47 Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 03:17:33 PM EST
It's really easy to decide what other people should have to pay more for/jump through more legal hoops for when it doesn't affect you personally.  I might be projecting but I think I could sum your argument up as being "who cares if it becomes harder and more expensive for people to own guns because it's not my hobby and my ultimate goal is to get rid of guns anyway."

I mean, I personally feel like old people should have to shoulder a greater share of their health care expenses in the coming years so I don't end up having to pay more taxes so some 75 year old can get a $100,000 cancer treatment program that might get them to 80 years old.  But I'm 34 and I don't have cancer.  Ask me how I feel about that in another 41 years.

"A weapon's intended use and potential for destruction" is very nebulous.  An AR-15 has a great potential for destruction, but it also happens to be a fantastic target rifle because the ammo is cheap and the recoil is low.  And I know people are tired of hearing this argument but the rifle's potential for destruction just sitting on the table is more or less zero.  The potential for destruction has everything to do with whose hands it ends up in.

I understand and appreciate the sports cars and giant SUVs analogy, but bear in mind that the ownership of more than one of those is prohibitive simply because they themselves really expensive.   They also wear out quickly.  So requiring a per-vehicle registration tax is not significant compared to the cost of the vehicles themselves.  It's much easier for me to possess ten different firearms, each of which has a distinct purpose the others don't work as well for (analogy: why people have 13 different golf clubs in their bag), and most of which were inherited from my grandfather anyway because they don't break or wear out.  And, by the way, which stay locked up in the closet 99% of the time and have never killed anybody.  Let's say you did pass something like a $100 per gun per year (not unlike vehicle registration/inspection)  registration fee/tax.  Now I'm on the hook for $1000/year.  Given how little I go shooting, I might consider selling or destroying most of them.  Which carves away a little more of my personal freedom, in the name of not glorifying gun ownership as an extension of manhood/personality. 

I seriously don't even think about my guns except when these tragedies happen and I'm reminded how differently I feel about this than most people in my age group/social circle.

[ Parent ]
They. They. They. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:05:04 AM EST
I learned today that They is the oddball pronoun we didn't grow ourselves. In fact, it comes from Old Norse. With a lot of baggage, I think.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

+1 VSTFP by anonimouse (4.00 / 2) #20 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:06:17 AM EST

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
no one's responsible. by the mariner (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:27:58 AM EST
the problem with these kinds of shootings is at the end of the day, the people who did the shooting are usually dead and everyone else is just standing there staring at what happened. even if they're captured or give themselves up, it's just one nutter you've gotten off the street. 

in my opinion, the only sure fire way to deal with this issue is to make the responsibility for the act propagate up the supply chain. is a gun store selling over and over again to a guy who's amassing an arsenal of military grade weaponry, armor, and sometimes asks about hand grenades? that store should take the hit when that guy goes off. is a gun manufacturer making guns designed to accommodate third party or consumer modifications that give them features that would be illegal in the stock configuration? if someone uses that in a mass shooting, the manufacturer should be responsible for the difference it made.

right away, you get experts from the insurance industry running doing their liability and risk management thing trying to figure the thing out. sponsoring crazy peoples' shooting sprees ought to an expensive mistake.

Two things by yankeehack (4.00 / 1) #26 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:14:53 AM EST
1) I'm hearing the refrain from the Fox News watchers that "politicians are useless and they can't change the gun laws because people want guns".

I am starting to doubt this line of thinking. I think the spectre of 20 babies and their teachers murdered in school just is too much for us to bear.

2) I think most of us understand the majority of gun owners are law abiding and use guns legally - whether it is for hunting, sport or self defense.

What bothers me is the fact that the last few mass shootings were made with semi-automatic assault rifles that are legal. With large magazines that shoot tens of bullets at a time. I honestly doubt that Nancy Lanza would have had one if it wasn't legal. Even the batman shooter had gone through legal checks at a gun store to get his guns.

There's always going to be truly evil people who figure out ways to circumvent whatever controls we have, but the fact these high volume guns are currently legal is troublesome.

"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

Which is why it's not just a gun question. by technician (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:26:33 AM EST
Way more involved than just guns.

[ Parent ]
But it's not really... by codemonkey uk (4.00 / 2) #29 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:27:39 AM EST
You have a Venn diagram. On side is the set of People Who Have Guns, and on the other side you have the set of People Who Might Go On A Murder Rampage.

You can make either side smaller, and it will work to reduce the overlap of People Who Might Go On A Murder Rampage With Guns. Reducing that set, the cross over, will saves lives. Simple as that.

So really, it's not complicated. We all know neither set can be eliminated absolutely, but if you want to save innocent lives you'll accept, no - fight for, better control of who can get guns, and the kinds of guns they have access too, and you'll also fight to reduce the number of people with murderous intentions via improved social support structures and mental health care, because reducing the overlap without reducing the size of left and right sets is next to impossible.

And remember: If it's shooting for sport you want to defend, then the UK system works okay. 2 of my friends are keen on guns, they go to a gun club to shoot, and have rifles, and shot guns for their sport. The laws we have are a speed bump for them, but the sport is still a viable hobby.

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's hard. by technician (4.00 / 2) #30 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:44:58 AM EST
We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here.

[ Parent ]
Ezra Klein had a really interesting piece today by lm (4.00 / 1) #36 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 07:21:01 PM EST

Before slipping into fairly typical left wing gun control advocacy, he went through destroying the idea that any of the proffered solutions could have stopped the recent massacre.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Shooting for sport by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:37:42 PM EST
In my opinion, a lot of these military style weapons should be restricted to gun ranges.  You can own one, but it can't leave a publicly registered location.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Saletan article on volume killing by yankeehack (4.00 / 1) #33 Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 02:39:07 PM EST
which kind of supports the volume killing idea: Sandy Hook Is a Warning of Worse Shootings To Come
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

I love guns by 256 (4.00 / 1) #51 Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 04:26:41 PM EST
My country makes it relatively difficult to own one*, so I don't. Instead, I go to the shooting range, where I am able to buy ammunition and spend time shooting guns that belong to the range. It is very satisfying. And it has the plus0side of there being no projectile weapons in the house where my daughter lives.

* it's actually not that hard to own approved hunting weapons (which fit in a very small range), but I see no need to own one.
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

Inevitable. | 50 comments (50 topical, 0 hidden)