by Lee, 12/22/2012, 6:00 AM

Last Friday’s shooting shook this country to its core, arguably more than any single event since 9/11. The senselessness, the innocence of the victims, and the proximity to Christmas really jarred us into a new political reality – one where gun control efforts no longer feel like a political taboo. People I know who generally reject gun control based upon a vague notion of 2nd Amendment rights have begun to question the logical underpinnings of those arguments. And we’re starting to get smarter about recognizing that certain types of gun crimes and gun deaths do correlate with gun ownership rates.

The issue of gun control has always been a difficult one for me to navigate. I have been, and continue to be, rather skeptical that gun control efforts in this country can do much of anything on their own to fix this. Our fascination – or perhaps obsession – with guns is unparalleled in the world. I often hear arguments such as “if Australia and the UK can ban guns, so can we” and that translates to me as “if Saudi Arabia can ban alcohol, so can we”. No other country has the level of consumer demand for powerful and extreme firearms that we do.

Our problem is now a deeply rooted cultural one. It’s not that I don’t think it can ever change, I just don’t think there’s a set of realistic laws that can bring about that change by itself. It has to be a cultural shift over time. It will happen if the next generation of Americans grows up with a healthy measure of disgust over our obsessive gun culture and firearm extremism.

The best parallel I can point to is with cigarettes. Within a generation, we’ve greatly stigmatized being a smoker, while also passing a number of laws that didn’t outlaw smoking, but made it more inconvenient. It’s likely the laws did less than the information campaign to educate people about its unhealthiness, but both happened in parallel. And cigarette smoking was greatly reduced over my lifetime.

My background following the drug war also colors my perspective on this subject. I’m skeptical – even fearful – of overarching efforts to disarm all Americans. I still feel that it’s a fundamental right to feel secure in one’s one home and that we should have a right to privately own firearms for our own protection or for sport. But another thing we can learn from the history of drug regulation and prohibition is that smart regulations that steer demand towards safer products can sometimes work as well. Would an outright ban on assault weapons reduce the amount of damage that a mass shooter can do, or would those restrictions easily be circumvented by a black market that comes with with own significant security drawbacks?

I don’t know the answer to that question. I’ve heard smart arguments on both sides and there’s really no historical parallel that fits the mess we’re in. But one thing is clear, and it became much clearer after watching the insane spectacle of NRA President Wayne LaPierre’s remarks Friday morning. The NRA and other “pro-gun” lobbying groups have played an outsized and inexcusable role in getting us where we are today.

To understand what I’m talking about, this New York Times article about Newtown’s recent internal conflicts over gun rights is a good starting point:

But in the last couple of years, residents began noticing loud, repeated gunfire, and even explosions, coming from new places. Near a trailer park. By a boat launch. Next to well-appointed houses. At 2:20 p.m. on one Wednesday last spring, multiple shots were reported in a wooded area on Cold Spring Road near South Main Street, right across the road from an elementary school.

Yet recent efforts by the police chief and other town leaders to gain some control over the shooting and the weaponry turned into a tumultuous civic fight, with traditional hunters and discreet gun owners opposed by assault weapon enthusiasts, and a modest tolerance for bearing arms competing with the staunch views of a gun industry trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which has made Newtown its home.

It’s important to remember that the NRA doesn’t exist today to serve the basic interests of gun owners. It exists to protect the profits of gun manufacturers and others in the marketplace for firearms. Everything that LaPierre said yesterday makes perfect sense when you understand this. Every solution is always about more guns being purchased, even if it means via taxpayer money for absurd and unrealistic things, like putting armed guards in every American school.

And even when LaPierre doesn’t have actual events to springboard from, he makes them up. Throughout Obama’s presidency, he’s been loudly warning people that Obama is planning to take their guns away. This nonsense has had exactly the intended effect, higher gun sales. And even worse, this kind of paranoid rhetoric tends to focus that message on the already somewhat unstable. We no longer had a marketplace for guns that was mostly about hunting and recreation or for responsible folks who merely want to protect their home. We have more and more people building up arsenals of ridiculously powerful weapons they don’t need. We’ve ended up with folks like Nancy Lanza, a woman who – for reasons that make no sense to anyone – was preparing for some kind of apocalyptic scenario and stockpiling the weapons that would instead kill her and a classroom of small children.

After the Gabby Giffords shooting, a lot of folks on the right were quick to dismiss the connection to right wing politics, and they were right, but they were also missing the bigger point. Certainly Jared Loughner wasn’t a typical right-wing tea partier by any stretch. But he was mentally unstable. And even though Loughner wasn’t a true believer of right-wing politics, he was clearly influenced by an atmosphere were the rhetoric of gun violence was unusually commonplace. I think this is becoming the common thread, that more and more unstable and paranoid folks in this country don’t just have access to firearms, they’re constantly being bombarded with messages about how they need those firearms to protect themselves from some vague internal enemy. That, I’m convinced, is far worse than any lack of sensible gun laws.

The irony here, of course, is that the cultivation of this paranoia might actually lead to the scenario that many of them have been warning about. Obama has had no interest in gun control so far. It’s only now that we’re seeing mass shootings by unstable people at an unprecedented frequency that he’s being forced to take action. My worry is that those who expect new gun laws to be an automatic panacea are going to be mighty disappointed at their ineffectiveness. Our gun problem is a uniquely American one. It’s one that we should be far more ashamed of. And it’s one that I worry we may be dealing with for a lot longer.

57 Responses to “Guns, Hot Dogs and Apple Pie”

1. Zotz sez: LaPierre should be looking over his shoulder. spews:

Here’s a conservative market based approach I’m surprised hasn’t been suggested:

Require risk scaled liability insurance, excluding pre 1896 antiques and muzzle loaders. You can own a high capacity glock or a tactical weapon, but you’ll pay for the risk it presents vice a nominal amount for a hunting rifle or shotgun.

And significant jail time and a big fine if you’re caught without insurance, 1st offense, no exceptions.

2. Geov spews:

Thank you, Lee, for one of the saner commentaries on this (from either side) that I’ve seen.

3. doggril spews:

This is a ridiculous commentary.
First of all, the author has apparently managed to internalize one of the more ludicrous accusations from the Far Right. Lee writes, “I’m skeptical – even fearful – of overarching efforts to disarm all Americans.” Jeebus Christ on a Segway! NO ONE is proposing any effort to disarm all Americans. That’s not what we’re debating. If you’re going to comment on the debate, for the love of god, at least understand what we’re debating– and don’t fall for the Right Wing’s attempt to mischaracterize the debate.
Second of all, it’s one thing to say Americans are not culturally similar to Saudis. But Lee jumps the shark by using that claim, which is defensible, to support a far less defensible claim that we’re so culturally different from Australia that their laws aren’t translatable either. Maybe Australia’s laws would work here, maybe not. But Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with it.
Finally, the notion that the impact on the mentally ill of the inflammatory Right Wing rhetoric about the dangers of a “vague internal enemy”… “is far worse than any lack of sensible gun laws” is perhaps one of the stupidest things I’ve read in a while. The mentally ill aren’t committing the majority of murders in this country. Not by a longshot. So we don’t need to respond as if they were. The argument also completely fails to account for the possibility that sensible gun laws could also limit the ability of the unstable to react to the Right Wing’s violent rhetoric.
This was truly one of the least thoughtful and least logical posts I’ve ever read on HA.

4. Gman spews:

Was the NFL player that just killed his girlfriend or ex-girlfriend and then himself considered to be mentally ill? Maybe after the fact but probably not before. The mentally ill are getting a bad wrap here. The gun violence is being perpetrated by normal people for the most part. Normal but obviously over emotional. Let’s start to ban emotions. Are we suppose to start to lock up anyone that could be considered to be emotional?

5. Gman spews:

Lock up Sarah Palin, now that woman is border line mentally ill, and she owns a gun.

6. Gman spews:

Why aren’t there mentally ill people shooting down airplanes with bazookas or rocket launchers? Maybe because they don’t have access to them like they do with assault riffles.

7. Gman spews:

Teach everyone how to make a bomb in this country, then see how many bombings we have. People aren’t the problem. Access to guns and wrongful knowledge is the problem.

8. Lee spews:

@3
I’ll address these points one by one:

First of all, the author has apparently managed to internalize one of the more ludicrous accusations from the Far Right. Lee writes, “I’m skeptical – even fearful – of overarching efforts to disarm all Americans.” Jeebus Christ on a Segway! NO ONE is proposing any effort to disarm all Americans.

I’m not sure what fantasy world you’re living in, but calls to disarm all Americans are fairly common. It took me only 5 seconds to find those two links. I could probably find dozens more easily. That’s not to mention the folks I’ve encountered on Twitter who also believe we need to go that far.

Second of all, it’s one thing to say Americans are not culturally similar to Saudis. But Lee jumps the shark by using that claim, which is defensible, to support a far less defensible claim that we’re so culturally different from Australia that their laws aren’t translatable either. Maybe Australia’s laws would work here, maybe not. But Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with it.

When it comes to our gun mentality, we’re as culturally different from the UK as we are from Saudi Arabia when it comes to alcohol. The UK does not have a major gun lobby exhorting citizens to build up arsenals of high-powered weapons out of a fear of “socialists” or some other thinly veiled horseshit about multiculturalism and economic decline. This is the difference I’m referring to. Without this element, it’s not very convincing to me to simply say that since the UK’s gun laws worked, they’ll work here.

Finally, the notion that the impact on the mentally ill of the inflammatory Right Wing rhetoric about the dangers of a “vague internal enemy”… “is far worse than any lack of sensible gun laws” is perhaps one of the stupidest things I’ve read in a while. The mentally ill aren’t committing the majority of murders in this country.

For starters, I never actually said “mentally ill”. I said “mentally unstable”. I don’t think people who are depressed are mentally ill. Or people who are having relationship problems or have other emotional issues. But they do make up a large number of mass shooting events (for obvious reasons).

You’re very correct that these folks aren’t committing the majority of murders in this country. But in pointing that out, you’re missing the larger point of my post. This isn’t about stopping the majority of murders. You absolutely can’t do that through gun control. Just look at Mexico, which has very strict gun control laws, but also some of the highest gun murder rates in the world.

Overall murder rates in the U.S. have been dropping to some of the lowest levels in decades. This is likely related to a decrease in organized crime and some other factors. By this statistic alone, we shouldn’t have to do anything. But this post is about addressing a more specific type of gun murder – indiscriminate random killing by an unstable person. For those types of crimes, dealing with mental health issues is very much front and center.

The argument also completely fails to account for the possibility that sensible gun laws could also limit the ability of the unstable to react to the Right Wing’s violent rhetoric.

I hope this is true. I have no objections to implementing various restrictions and regulations. But I’m not sure anything will really change until those spewing the violent rhetoric tone it down. And maybe the recognition that it’s indirectly bringing about these restrictions is what’ll do the trick. But it could also play into their paranoia and make it worse.

9. Lee spews:

One more point about cultural differences. When it comes to our gun mentality, we’re arguably more culturally similar to countries in the Middle East than we are to countries like the US and Australia. We have far more religious fervor within the pockets of conservative and nativist segments of the population. And within those segments, we have a more significant us-vs-them mentality about liberalism and secularism that is also very prominent in many conservative Middle East societies.

10. Gman spews:

@8 everyone becomes mentally unstable sometime during their life, even if it is for five minutes. Access to guns makes the combination deadly. I’ll go back to my point about teaching everyone how to make a bomb, maybe it should be part of the curriculum of every school, then let’s see how many bombings we have. Who ever said that the right to bear arms was just guns? Maybe we should all have the right to make bombs too – that is a form of bearing arms.

11. MikeBoyScout spews:

Lee,
I think we had all better get used to the fact that our problem with gun violence shall not be solved in any short time.

Regarding our “cultural” similarities and/or differences from other nations, I think this is really political more than anything else.

Our nation has come to believe in absolute rights. There really is no such thing.

All rights and liberties are inherently constrained in the body politic. Furthermore, to the extent we want less constraint on a liberty, the more responsibility we all must accept.

There has never been an absolute right to unconstrained ownership of weapons.

Any of us are free to believe differently just like Linus is free to believe in the great pumpkin.

Lastly, in addition to weapon ownership restrictions upon our liberty, we need to look seriously at restricting speech and commerce – specifically for people who are the Merchants of Death.

12. Lee spews:

@11

Regarding our “cultural” similarities and/or differences from other nations, I think this is really political more than anything else.

Agreed. And it’s an important point that might be worthy of its own separate post.

13. Roger Rabbit spews:

Pass a law that says if you own a gun you’re automatically a member of the well-regulated militia (i.e., National Guard) and have to show up for a weekend drill once a month.

14. Richard Pope spews:

Okay Lee — just how do you blame murders, or even firearm murders, on either politics or religion?

How many killers even belong to a church or other religious congregation, much less attend a place of worship regularly? I would think you find very little religious involvement by killers (especially in comparison with the general population), and even less religious motivation for killings.

Similarly politics. How many killers are even registered to vote, much less hold any particular kind of political beliefs? Again, I would think very few, even though a substantial majority of the adult population in general at least votes.

And to suggest that people who are more politically or religiously conservative are more likely to commit homicides? What evidence is there to support this? I would assume that since most killers are areligious and apolitical, that folks are conservative religion or politics are just as unlikely to kill as people of liberal religion or politics.

15. Richard Pope spews:

I found one poster on-line (unable to verify with more reliable source material) who said:

“Nancy and Peter J. Lanza, and their son Ryan, are all registered as Republicans with the Fairfield County, CT Registrar of Voters; Adam was not registered to vote.”

So it is probably not unusual for killers not to be registered, but for their family members to be normal people who care about voting. And I suspect we would find plenty of unregistered killers whose family members are Democrats as well.

16. Daniel K spews:

I fear that you’re right Lee. In many ways, we’re going to find it much harder to change the American gun culture than it has been to gain acceptance for civil rights for African-Americans, women and gays and lesbians.

17. Lee spews:

@14

Okay Lee — just how do you blame murders, or even firearm murders, on either politics or religion?

I’m not really sure what it is about this post that’s making people strive to put words in my mouth, but I’ll try my best to clarify.

Maybe you’re responding to my comment to MBS, but that wasn’t about the root cause of murdering people. It was about the root of our cultural desire to possess lots of guns.

How many killers even belong to a church or other religious congregation, much less attend a place of worship regularly? I would think you find very little religious involvement by killers (especially in comparison with the general population), and even less religious motivation for killings.

I’d love to see statistics on this, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant to anything I’ve said.

And to suggest that people who are more politically or religiously conservative are more likely to commit homicides? What evidence is there to support this?

I never said this at all. But the anti-Obama hysteria where people have been stocking up on guns is definitely within right-wing circles. But those are two separate things.

Richard, I’m not sure how you ended up so far off the rails on this. I’m not making any of the claims you think I’m making. And I clearly said nothing at all about party affiliation and the likelihood to commit murders. Where are you getting this from?

18. Expat(!)Chad spews:

1. Zotz sez: LaPierre should be looking over his shoulder. spews:

Here’s a conservative market based approach I’m surprised hasn’t been suggested:

Require risk scaled liability insurance, excluding pre 1896 antiques and muzzle loaders. You can own a high capacity glock or a tactical weapon, but you’ll pay for the risk it presents vice a nominal amount for a hunting rifle or shotgun.

And significant jail time and a big fine if you’re caught without insurance, 1st offense, no exceptions.

When I owned a sports car, I paid a LOT.

19. notrouble spews:

Thoughtful commentary. I share some of your pessimism about human behavior.

From news reports, it seems that the AR-15 the Sandy Hook murder used wouldn’t have qualified as an assault weapon according to the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

20. Roger Rabbit spews:

@14 I read a news report that said Adam Lanza was into rightwing politics. Given that both his parents are wealthy it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re Republicans. The guy who shot up the Sikh temple in Milwaukee was a neo-Nazi. No liberals in these pictures of mayhem so far. I’m not saying Republicans are a trigger-happy lot who love to kill defenseless animals. It just seems that way sometimes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMQ_Vh-sNtE

21. ivan spews:

Good one Lee. Ignore morons like #3.

22. No time for Fascists spews:

This was an interesting observation about the meme that it’s totally wrong to put limits on the 2nd amendment.

No law abridging the freedom of speech… but yet, there are limits on what you can say.
No restriction on the press… but there are restrictions on what the press may print or broadcast.
No restriction on religion… but there are restrictions on religious practices.
No restriction on assembly… unless the mayor decides you’ve overstayed your welcome in the park.

We can put restrictions on guns, if we choose to.

23. No time for Fascists spews:

Listening to the talking heads shows, the republicans are doubling down. According to them, assault weapons with large capacity clips are never the problem.

24. No time for Fascists spews:

Grover comes off as a petulant child. Grover is also in favor of arming our schools, but doesn’t want to pay for it.

25. Gman spews:

Teach our children how to make bombs, the only way to fight terrorists with bombs (i.e the Republican Party).

26. No time for Fascists spews:

Corry Booker raised a good point. Prudent rational gun regulation don’t want to take the guns from law abiding gun owners, just get the weapons away from the crazy and the violent criminals. Why are we not talking about that?

27. Gman spews:

@26 because I want a bazooka!

28. Gman spews:

As a crazy person, I have 2nd amendment rights to own a gun!

29. Porter Browning spews:

You cannot have our weapons. Individual gun owners are in no way connected with the incident a week ago Friday. One man and his nutty mother are responsible.

If you want to do something, ban yuppie moms.

30. No time for Fascists spews:

Notice how it’s always an “individual incident” when it’s comes to gun violence so our society should do nothing! But let one person anywhere “cheat’ welfare and our society should do everything to dismantle it.

I want to restrict automatic military type machine guns and high capacity clips that kill a lot of people very quickly, close the gun show loop hole, and craft laws that keep those out of the hands of crazy people and violent criminals. Legitimate gun owners with legitimate uses for their guns are not the target, they are not killing kids.

31. No time for Fascists spews:

ban yuppie moms.
Don’t worry, if the corporate republicans have their way, we won’t have to worry about more than 1% having enough money to be a yuppie.

32. Lee spews:

@30
Notice how it’s always an “individual incident” when it’s comes to gun violence so our society should do nothing! But let one person anywhere “cheat’ welfare and our society should do everything to dismantle it.

Exactly.

33. Michael spews:

@30
We can get rid of high-cap. magazines really easily. They already banned under the Clinton gun ban. Personally, I don’t see the need for them, but I’d rather have tight controls on them than see them banned.

The “gun show loophole” is really the private buyers at gun shows loophole and again, all we have to do is make those private buyers do a background check too. The folks that run gun shows can make a few extra bucks by setting up booths to run them and charging for it or they can all do what a few groups do and make you pass a check before you can get in the door.

I want to restrict automatic military type machine guns and high capacity clips that kill a lot of people very quickly

Machine guns are already regulated almost out of existence and semi-auto’s all work one of about three different ways. Wether they’re hunting guns or military style guns is matter of ergonomics and style, not function. I really think as far as legal controls go we should stick to function.

When I was a kid people that showed up at gun ranges with an AR or AK were snickered about and the guns were called “man makers.” Now, it seems like everyone wants an AR. We need to use social controls to make AR’s and such not cool again.

34. Michael spews:

I stopped by SportCo in Fife the other day, the gun counter was jammed with people. And I kept thinking, “yeah, you better get a gun, cause you’re way too fat to win a fight or run away from one.” Every single person crowded around the counter was a fatter than hell white guy. These people have way more to fear from heart disease and diabetes than some maniac with a gun.

35. CPO spews:

So Michael at #old and can34, if a person is fat and out of shape, or ‘t fight any longer like Roger Rabbit, then that person shouldn’t be able to defent himself?
As for Roger Rabbit @ 13, a well-regulated militia isn’t a Reservist or National Guard person. You must have been asleep during boot camp because I was taught during Bootcamp that the militia is all males between age 18 and 60 who can be called up during a time of national crisis.

36. Michael spews:

@35

I’m not surprised that this conversation’s gone right over your head.

37. Roger Rabbit spews:

The world’s largest maker of gun accessories apologetically explained to customers that it ran out of magazines for AR-15s because people bought a 3-1/2 year supply in 3 days after last week’s school shooting.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/23/worlds-largest-firearms-supplier-sells-3-half-years-worth-ar15-clips-3-days_n_2356286.html

Roger Rabbit Commentary: Looks like somebody is planning a war.

38. Roger Rabbit spews:

I have nothing against white guys with big egos and little dicks owning guns, but I think they could benefit from the training and discipline that a well-regulated militia provides.

http://www.nationalguard.com/

39. Roger Rabbit spews:

@32 Extending this concept further, if one “illegal” votes somewhere in the country, no minority citizens should be allowed to vote anywhere.

40. Roger Rabbit spews:

@35 Looks like my chain-puller @13 finally snared a victim.

41. Roger Rabbit spews:

@3 “NO ONE is proposing any effort to disarm all Americans.”

That’s the whole damn problem. You humans can’t be trusted with guns. How many world wars does it take to convince people of that? We rabbits have known for centuries that no good ever came from a human having a gun.

42. Richard Pope spews:

Firearms murders are way DOWN under Obama, in spite of record gun sales in the last four years. Less than four percent of firearms murders (and about 2.5% of murders overall) are committed by ANY kind of RIFLE (which includes “assault” rifles and all other rifles). In 2008, 14,224 people were murdered, including 9,528 with firearms (of which rifles killed 380). In 2011, 12,664 people were murdered, including 8,583 with firearms (of which rifles killed 323).

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8

43. MikeBoyScout spews:

Another day, another deadly shooting spree in America.

Rochester-area firefighters shot at scene of fire, two killed

WEBSTER, N.Y. — Two firefighters are confirmed dead after a shooting at a fire scene in the Monroe County town of Webster this morning.

The Webster Police Chief says four firefighters were shot. Two of them were killed, and two are being treated at a Rochester hospital.

EVERY DAY (on average)
– Every day, 270 people in America, 47 of them children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, and police intervention.
– Every day, 87 people die from gun violence, 33 of them murdered.
– Every day, 8 children and teens die from gun violence.
– Every day, 183 people are shot, but survive their gun injuries.
– Every day, 38 children and teens are shot, but survive their gun injuries.

44. Steve spews:

There are no posts over at (un)SP. Unless someone checks and finds a pulse, it looks like MBS and a few others killed it. They didn’t need guns to do the dirty deed, just words.

45. MikeBoyScout spews:

But if you live on the eastside… you’re probably safe, right?

1 man killed, another wounded in bar shooting in Bellevue

This info brought to you by:
Lowpriceguns.com
13433 NE 20th ST Suite I
Bellevue, WA 98005

Because nobody needs to be shot dead with a highprice gun!

46. MikeBoyScout spews:

Moreno Valley Wal-Mart evacuated after man, apparently armed, enters


December 24, 2012 | 8:01 am
A Wal-Mart in Moreno Valley was evacuated Monday morning after a man wearing camouflage was spotted entering the store with a rifle or shotgun, Riverside County sheriff’s officials said.

The man entered the store, which is open 24 hours, about 5:57 a.m., asked for the manager and then began proceeding to back of the store, deputies said.

“Witnesses said the man was carrying an M-16 or a shotgun. We have not been able to confirm that,” said Deputy Alberto Martinez.

Martinez said it is unclear what, if any, contact the man had with the manager of the Moreno Beach Road store. He left the building through the rear without any merchandise.

Nothing to worry about. The suspect was probably just wanting to know if the Walmart had the Colt M4 OPS .22 with the 30 round clip in stock.

47. YellowPup spews:

Lee:

What you say about cigarettes, how laws and education have been brought to bear to change the culture, reminds me of this article about post-prohibition alcohol regulation in the US:

http://www.alternet.org/alcohol-industrys-plan-give-america-giant-drinking-problem

Accordingly to this, post-prohibition regulation has kept alcohol consumption relatively under control here (though the drinking industry is working to undermine it) compared to the UK, where the industry has been allowed to regulate itself, and so cheap available alcohol has run amok, and heavy drinking is considered “deeply embedded in the culture.”

I wonder if the situation with guns here is similar in some ways, whether it would be possible to make gun availability and distribution so inefficient that we could gradually erase the cult of gun ownership.

48. Serial conservative spews:

I wonder if Lib Sci thinks Cory Booker was putting on a ‘minstrel show’ on TV yesterday.

Cory Booker calls gun control arguments ‘a false debate’ in TV appearance

During an appearance this morning on ABC’s news program “This Week,” Cory Booker lambasted what he called “a false debate” over gun control that has intensified in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting.

The Newark mayor — fresh off the announcement that he plans to seek a U.S. Senate seat — argued that Americans are not as divided on the issue as they seem.

“I don’t know if anybody here has seen somebody shot. I have,” Booker said during a round-table discussion on the show, hosted by George Stephanopoulos. “I don’t know if anybody here has had to put their hand in somebody’s chest and try to stop the bleeding so somebody doesn’t die. I have. And the what frustrates me about this debate is it’s a false debate. It’s a false debate.

“This is a convenient trick to try to divide our country more. Most of us in America, including gun owners, agree on things that would stop the kind of carnage that’s going on in cities all over America.”

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/12/cory_booker_in_tv_appearance_c.html#incart_river_default

It’s just the type of ‘edgy’ and ‘provocative’ thing Lib Sci would say about a black man expressing conservative-sounding opinion, when Lib Sci’s among friends and doesn’t think the other side is listening.

Teach your children well, Lib Sci. And Happy Holidays.

49. MikeBoyScout spews:

@47 YellowPup,

What you’re talking about is constrained and regulated capitalism. Of course it is possible, but in addition to the “cult of gun ownership” we have a cult of belief in FREE MARKETS!. The two go hand in hand, and the ability to change the gun “business” with out changing the environment that spawned it is very problematic.

50. YellowPup spews:

Mike @49, true enough, but that cult is not unqualified–how is it that everyone is fine with government interference in capitalism when it seems to serve corporate interests?

Culture is bunk to a large extent, influenced by powerful forces, but ones that might be located and maybe controlled in the short or long term. I don’t disagree with Lee that guns are a tough nut, but best not to assume culture dooms us one way or the other. That seems to be the kind of assumption the gun folks themselves are making. Look at how Richard uses “killers” above: us and them, good guys and bad guys with guns.

51. MikeBoyScout spews:

More on today’s big story in American Murder Sprees With Guns in Webster, NY:


The gunman, William Spengler, had served more than 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death in 1980 at the house next to where Monday’s attack happened, Pickering said. Spengler, 62, was paroled in 1998 and had led a quiet life since, authorities said. Convicted felons are not allowed to possess weapons.

52. MikeBoyScout spews:

@50 YellowPup,

When I talk about “culture” I’m talking about beliefs that go unquestioned and which are taken by many as a given.

“Everyone” is not fine with government interference. There’s an entire political party that would rather you be shot and/or the entire global economy collapse before a government of the people for the people and by the people take any action to prevent the preventable.

The examples of the effectiveness of the propaganda about the unfairness of regulating the sale of guns are legion. But let me give you one from the NewsHour the other night.

John Lott has been a prominent voice in the gun rights debate, arguing against further restrictions. He’s an economist and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime.”

Well, there’s costs and benefits from all these laws. For example, during the Clinton administration, the gun show — or the computer checks were shut down for about six days or so each month. And they run into problems now.

So, if you’re running a gun show, and let’s say it’s shut down for an hour or two hours or a day or a weekend, all your sales are gone.

My reaction is ‘tough sh*t’, but Lott makes this argument because it is politically effective, not about guns but about free commerce.

53. MikeBoyScout spews:

The “culture” of stoopid.

Deport British Citizen Piers Morgan for Attacking 2nd Amendment

British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.

Total signatures on this petition – 47,188

54. Lee spews:

@42

Firearms murders are way DOWN under Obama, in spite of record gun sales in the last four years. Less than four percent of firearms murders (and about 2.5% of murders overall) are committed by ANY kind of RIFLE (which includes “assault” rifles and all other rifles). In 2008, 14,224 people were murdered, including 9,528 with firearms (of which rifles killed 380). In 2011, 12,664 people were murdered, including 8,583 with firearms (of which rifles killed 323).

That’s true. Overall, gun murders have been decreasing (for decades, not just the past few years). But in the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in mass shooting events. And over the past few decades, we’ve certainly seen an increase in the amount of damage a single shooter can cause.

Different types of gun violence have different causes. There’s nothing incongruous about trying to deal with only a particular type of gun violence, especially if it tends to lead to a large loss of life at one time.

55. Roger Rabbit spews:

@53 Over 300 million Americans didn’t sign it.

56. doggril spews:

@8: Yeah, well, do you also debate whether or not America should become a theocracy or blacks should have their own country or Texas should secede? There are nuts proposing all sorts of things that aren’t going to happen. The rational response to any of those suggestions is not debate but ridicule.
Secondly, WTF? I never said anything about the UK. I was talking about Australia.
Next, why are you using the red herring about Mexico? How about debating the gun control laws of countries that actually enforce their laws, not of a country that for all intents and purposes is about an inch and a half away from being a failed state.
Also, I’ll stick with my characterization of your comment about what’s “far worse” because you’ve failed to show any evidence that less inflammatory language would decrease mass shootings more effectively than better gun control laws would. An example that points to how wrong your notion is is the fact that during the 10 year assault rifle ban we had far fewer mass shootings–even though that period was full of inflammatory language.
I also take issue with your comment that “By this statistic alone, we shouldn’t have to do anything.” If you’re comfortable with the fact that we still have, by far, the highest murder rate among comparable nations, then, by all means, celebrate small improvements. Personally, I think we can and should do a lot better.
We’re never going to stop murder, and I certainly don’t foresee a complete gun ban in our lifetime. If we’re going to talk about reducing gun violence it makes a helluva lot more sense to talk about what could happen rather than what’s really, really, really, really unlikely to happen.

57. Lee spews:

@56
An example that points to how wrong your notion is is the fact that during the 10 year assault rifle ban we had far fewer mass shootings–even though that period was full of inflammatory language.

That’s complete and total bullshit. The bottom of this page has the chart over time of the number of mass shootings in the United States. The number of mass shootings actually increased slightly during the assault rifle ban.

Next, why are you using the red herring about Mexico? How about debating the gun control laws of countries that actually enforce their laws, not of a country that for all intents and purposes is about an inch and a half away from being a failed state.

My point is that laws often become unenforceable when they try to suppress actual commercial demand. That’s the lesson of Mexico, and it’s why I remain skeptical of the limits of effective gun control in the United States.