Open Post on Gun Control

The facts surrounding the Charleston shooting with regards to the gun used are pretty thin right now, but here’s what we know: Dylann Roof was charged with misdemeanor drug possession in February of this year. The case was still pending in April when he legally purchased a .45 handgun at a gun shop. If the drug charge had been a felony, the gun sale would have been blocked with a federal background check.

This is a tough situation for myself, because I have been very vocal in other threads about the tenuous link between the Confederate flag and the killings. If I am being honest, the gun purchase by Roof doesn’t really highlight a problem in our current gun laws because the law isn’t able to predict someone that might commit a gun crime in the future. Of course, if a friend had turned Roof’s name over to the police based on some of his comments prior to the crime, perhaps something could have been done.

So this is an open thread with no agenda other than to promote another perspective on this latest tragedy. Please share your opinions below.

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223 thoughts on “Open Post on Gun Control

  1. Now that the war on drugs is moving into a state where fewer minorities will be arrested, we’ve gotta have something. Gun laws will probably do as good a job as any for arresting minorities disproportionately over trivial offenses.

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  2. Some questions…

    What delineates between whether a drug charge (specifically) is felony or misdemeanor?
    It makes sense to scrutinize more thoroughly those with criminal records during background checks. But do (non-violent, presumably) drug charges seem like the sort of thing that should stop someone from possessing a gun? I suppose my answer would be that it would depend on the type of drug… namely drugs that have the potential to make someone more violent, impulsive, irrational, etc. would be different than drugs that didn’t carry those risks (which might bring us back to my first question).

    I’m curious about what responsibility, if any, we place on those who knew him and know of his racist views and violent tendencies. Let me be clear and say that I think these people hold no legal or moral culpability unless they knew specifically and explicitly of his plans and opted not to act (and I have no reason to believe anyone did). But if someone is a so-called responsible gun owner and they learned that another gun owner is harboring violent fantasies… is part of being a responsible gun owner acting in that case? I ask this genuinely. Because I often hear calls about punishing responsible gun owners for the facts of the irresponsible — an argument I am sympathetic to. So why not task responsible gun owners with policing their own. If you are a responsible gun owner and you know another gun owner is likely to be irresponsible with his weaponry, you report him. If you don’t and we find out that you knew something and he acted, you don’t go to jail, but you lose your right to be a responsible gun owner.

    And lest we set up witch hunts, we can create a system not unlike that for mandated reporting of suspected child abuse. If you are a gun owner, you have a mandated reporter and you have a means to anonymously report genuine concern with no potential liability if your concern turns out to be unfounded.

    I realize this is a radical idea but if responsible gun owners don’t want to get caught in the net with irresponsible gun owners, than we might be best served to charge them with helping to weed the latter out from the former.

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    • “If you are a responsible gun owner and you know another gun owner is likely to be irresponsible with his weaponry, you report him. If you don’t and we find out that you knew something and he acted, you don’t go to jail, but you lose your right to be a responsible gun owner.”

      And what if you are not a gun owner and you fail to report?

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      • In this admittedly not-even-half-baked idea (quarter baked?), I’d include a duty to report as one of the responsibilities that comes with gun ownership and therefore not hold non-gun owners to the same standard.

        Edited to add: Again, I wouldn’t be seeking any sort of criminal/legal liability. Just a, “Hey… part of being a good gun owner is helping us find bad gun owners. If you can’t do that, maybe you’re not a good gun owner.”

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            • What you do with the gun. Just like a responsible and irresponsible car owner. Are you distilling a mass shooting down to ‘irresponsible gun ownership’ ?

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              • Sigh. I thought this was an open thread? I’m musing on how we can identify the kind of people who shouldn’t have guns. It would seem that in an ideal world we could perfectly identify folks who can be trusted with guns and let them have all the guns they want and perfectly identify folks who can’t be trusted with guns and fully prevent them from ever taking hold of one. Now, we don’t live in a perfect world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get better. So, again, if we can define what a responsible gun owner is — specifically! — than maybe we can start to tease out how to identify them in advance.

                Because the current game seems to be that everyone is a responsible gun owner until they aren’t one. That doesn’t seem to be working.

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                • Kazzy: It would seem that in an ideal world we could perfectly identify folks who can be trusted with guns and let them have all the guns they want

                  If we could do that, I’m not sure anyone would need guns at all.

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                      • My point was that whether or not people need guns doesn’t matter. If they have a right to them, they have a right to them. Neither side is particularly interested in really getting into the weeds about who needs guns because A) it is really hard to actually determine that and B) it is very possible that one or both sides will be really unhappy with the answer.

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                • I know some people hate the car analogy but it’s really the best fit for what you are talking about. I’m in favor of firearms instruction and licenses required for anyone to carry/own a firearm. It’s common practice, and fully supported by the hunting community, in most states to require a hunter education class before getting a hunting license so I see no infringement on people’s rights if we open it to gun ownership in general.

                  As for identifying someone who is potentially an irresponsible gun owner, that becomes pretty hard. Someone could have no record of violence, then suddenly their life changes and now they may become a threat. That’s where the mental health side comes in and everyone (not just gun owners) having some legal obligations to report concerns. You mentioned reporting potential child abuse. Seems like you would use the same basic legal structure for potential gun crime.

                  Happy?

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                  • But, at least as you’ve explained it, the car licensing system sounds different than the hunting licensing system. Do hunting licenses require testing? Can they be revoked for ‘bad behavior’? (What would be the analogue to speeding? I ask that genuinely.) Education is great. I’m fully on board with that. But I’d want to see testing as well. That wouldn’t weed out the people who are adept with guns and who simply choose to do wrong with them, but it is a start.

                    As for the child abuse thing, the issue becomes identifying mandated reporters. I am a mandated reporter because I am a teacher. Other professions are also mandated reporters. We have certain responsibilities, but also protections in place. That is why my plan would have utilized gun owners as mandated reporters: they are the best positioned to identify bad gun owners and working within the system would protect them from any liability if they are wrong (unless they’re found to be knowingly falsifying reports).

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                    • “Do hunting licenses require testing? Can they be revoked for ‘bad behavior’? “

                      Yes and yes.

                      “…they are the best positioned to identify bad gun owners…”

                      I disagree. That’s perhaps the case with hunters and gun range patrons, but that’s really only a small part of the gun-owning community. There are millions of gun owners that rarely or never engage in social activities where their potential threat could be assessed. That’s where the entire community would have to be aware and legally required to report. So, for example, you wouldn’t be off the hook.

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                      • So responsible gun owners — who bang the drum that their rights and privileges should not be interfered with because of the actions of irresponsible gun owners! — bear no unique responsibility?

                        I must say… this sort of thinking really makes it impossible to actually do anything.

                        Gun owners are perfect until they’re not and the only way to know that they are not is to wait until they’ve already shot someone.

                        I’ve previously proposed making gun owners responsible for any crime that happens with a gun they own. If their gun is stolen, they must report it immediately to absolve themselves of responsibility. More than one gun stolen and you are deemed irresponsible. I’ve proposed this here and elsewhere and every time it is shot down by gun owners. It makes me think that there is a big ruse going on.

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                        • “So responsible gun owners — who bang the drum that their rights and privileges should not be interfered with because of the actions of irresponsible gun owners! — bear no unique responsibility?”

                          The only responsible they bear is that of any citizen responsible for his fellow citizens. I’ve said I am perfectly find with a responsibility to report potential threats. You are upset because I included you. And I’m being difficult?

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                          • I’m not asking for the right to carry a gun. I’ve given up that right and, with it, the responsibilities that come with it. I’m arguing that we should attach the responsibility to report irresponsible gun ownership to the criteria for “responsible gun owner”. But, again, it seems that “responsible gun owner” is going to continuously be defined as “hasn’t killed anyone yet.” And even then…

                            So, again, please define EXPLICITLY what a responsible gun owner is. Or, if it is easier, define what an irresponsible gun owner is.

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                            • I already defined it. In general, citizens have a responsibility to report potential threats to public safety. Whether that’s law or just common decency I have to say, it’s pretty weird to be left of a liberal on civic responsibility.

                              I assume you own a car, right? Or a knife? What about fertilizer? If someone knew about Timothy McVeigh’s plans but did not own fertilizer or diesel fuel…no responsibility to report?

                              And ‘responsible gun owner’ doesn’t stop at ‘haven’t killed someone’ and you know it. Keeping guns where they can be easily accessed by children is irresponsible. Brandishing them in a threatening way is irresponsible. Etc, etc. Let’s not be intentionally naive Kazzy…okay? If you want gun laws to be more strict, take some ownership or stop advocating.

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                        • I’ve previously proposed making gun owners responsible for any crime that happens with a gun they own. If their gun is stolen, they must report it immediately to absolve themselves of responsibility. More than one gun stolen and you are deemed irresponsible. I’ve proposed this here and elsewhere and every time it is shot down by gun owners. It makes me think that there is a big ruse going on.

                          I like that idea, with the following two qualifiers

                          1. I wouldn’t make the gun owners 100% responsible for the crime committed with their stolen gun. If someone’s gun is stolen and the gun owner is not responsible enough to know it and/or report it, and then someone kills 20 people with it, I think it would be too much to charge that owner with murder. But I don’t mind attaching some criminal and/or civil responsibility.

                          2. I wouldn’t deem someone irresponsible simply if more than one gun were stolen. I’d probably want a higher number, and a time frame. I.e., if someone has two guns stolen, but they were stolen 10 years apart, I don’t think that’s necessarily “irresponsible.” However, if someone has 10 guns stolen, on 10 different occasions, in the span of 3 months, perhaps that means he/she hasn’t taken responsibility to secure it or has proven themselves unable to secure it.

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                          • We can haggle the details. Unfortunately, the “responsible” gun owners I’ve proposed this to consider it a non-starter… Why should they be responsible for it? It would sure as hell cut down on the illegal gun trade, that much I know.

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                            • Truth be told, my father, who by my not unbiased account was a responsible gun owner, probably would not have supported your plan (which I, myself, do support, although I’m not sure how to do it in practice). So I see your point.

                              I hadn’t even thought about straw purchasers claiming theft. That’s probably a good point.

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                          • Gabriel Conroy: However, if someone has 10 guns stolen, on 10 different occasions, in the span of 3 months, perhaps that means he/she hasn’t taken responsibility to secure it or has proven themselves unable to secure it.

                            Or most likely a straw purchaser actively — and profitably! — providing weapons to the black market.

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                            • @road-scholar

                              So we got off that guy’s supply.

                              I’ve asked Mike repeatedly — on this thread! — to define responsible gun ownership and he can’t or won’t. I don’t think he wants to be held to a definition that could be used to disqualify people. Because then he’d be a “gun grabber”.

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                              • I’ve actually given you an answer several times…you just don’t like the idea of non-gun owners being equally responsible for their fellow citizens.

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                                • You defined responsibility along a single vector, indicating that gun owners are just like non-owners. But more generally, what makes for a responsible gun owner? Please be specific and explicit. This should be easy for you. TTMLIS

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                                  • I went into detail here. This isn’t rocket science. If you are intentionally unsafe with a gun, if you don’t secure your guns or if you threaten someone with a gun. That basically covers it. All of those things can easily be observed and reported by non-gun owners like yourself.

                                    And honestly, when we’re talking guns, we’re talking more about sales to criminals. Kim puts it very well here:

                                    “This would be fine if folks were reporting “irresponsible gun usage”
                                    … like walking around with it loaded and no safety on.

                                    But those people aren’t the problem — really, they aren’t.

                                    It’s the people smuggling guns to Mexico, or to the inner city, or otherwise getting them into the hands of criminals.”

                                    Gun trafficking is the root cause of a lot of gun crime and it’s actually one of the things that are easily to fight. Identifying a potential mass shooter? Much harder, and as I pointed out earlier, something we all need to help with, not just us gun guys.

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                                    • Mike Dwyer:
                                      This isn’t rocket science. If you are intentionally unsafe with a gun, if you don’t secure your guns or if you threaten someone with a gun. That basically covers it.

                                      Given this definition, was Dylann Roof a responsible gun owner before he walked into that church?

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                                      • Yes, which is why I don’t understand Kazzy’s whole responsible/irresponsible thing (I assume he is building to some big word trap but I can’t figure out his end-game). Anyway, to the point I thinkyou want to make, this is what I told Kazzy above:

                                        “As for identifying someone who is potentially an irresponsible gun owner, that becomes pretty hard. Someone could have no record of violence, then suddenly their life changes and now they may become a threat. That’s where the mental health side comes in and everyone (not just gun owners) having some legal obligations to report concerns. You mentioned reporting potential child abuse. Seems like you would use the same basic legal structure for potential gun crime.”

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                                        • If Roof was, by your definition, a responsible gun owner, then surely any distinction you might draw between responsible and irresponsible gun owners isn’t particularly meaningful.

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                  • Cars are very effective at killing people, particularly when so many people are using them at once, but they were built for transportation, not for killing, and we spend billions and billions of private and public dollars to make them less effective at killing.

                    Guns were made for killing, and we spend money at least as much money to make them better at it as we do developing safety features mostly designed to keep them from killing unintended targets.

                    Licenses that require a basic or even moderate level of competence make sense for tools we want to prevent from killing at all. For tools designed to kill? Perhaps something more is needed. At the very least, a much higher level of competence.

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                    • I think part of the problem here is that gun owners feel that the only thing gun control advocates want is a total ban on guns.

                      I remember chatting with a fellow pastor about a way both sides could come together. He responded his hope was to make gun ownership as socially unacceptable as smoking.

                      I think that as long as that is the viewpoint of some gun control activists, gun owners aren’t going to work for firearms regulation.

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                      • The view you describe is , mostly, a tactic to scare gun owners into a frenzy. Most people who are for gun control are fine with gun ownership in general just with different/more laws. I’ve had to many discussions where any attempt to say maybe we should do something a bit different re: gun laws is met with ” you’re taking all my guns!!!” It doesnt matter how many time i say No No No, it doesn’t matter, the fear has taken over.

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                        • My viewpoint didn’t come from nowhere. It came from discussions with people who are for gun control. I don’t doubt that there are those who are fine with gun ownership, but there are also those on the gun control side that do want to at least make gun ownership questionable.

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                          • Yeah. The Gun Control argument is similar to the Abortion argument insofar as there are theoretical limits that most people would be willing to agree as being reasonable but a huge chunk of those people are afraid to agree to these (reasonable!) limits because of the deep suspicion that this is the nose of the camel rather than the end point.

                            So a huge number of Pro-Choice people in the US are unwilling to a more European set of limits on abortion because they know that this is a stepping stone to de facto bans.

                            And, for the most part, I don’t see anything wrong with them having reached that particular conclusion.

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                          • Dennis Sanders: … but there are also those on the gun control side that do want to at least make gun ownership questionable

                            From a public health standpoint gun ownership, at least for personal protection for most people, is highly questionable. The statistics just don’t bear out the proposition that you and your family are safer for having a gun in the house. Quite the opposite in fact. There are exceptions of course: if you live in a particularly dangerous neighborhood, have a particularly hazardous profession, or regularly encounter predatory animals or something. The idea that owning a gun makes you safer is based almost entirely on “feels.”

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                      • But cigarettes aren’t banned. See… Gun owners don’t just want the right to own guns… They want unfettered privilege to do whatever they want with guns. It is why they object to private businesses restricting guns on their private property. It is why they push for legislation that extends their right to carry near universally. How many gun control advocates have actually proposed a ban? Rather than restrictions and limitations? Whatever the perception might be, guns rights activists have a far more extreme position… And I say this as someone who is rather soft on gun control!

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                      • I want a total ban. I am not at all representative of gun control advocates, most of whom do not want anything like a total ban. Gun control advocates use hyperbole and scare tactics to get votes.

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                        • I don’t want a total ban, but I also think that most actions short of a total ban or other huge reform are likely to have minimal impact on gun crimes.

                          It always seemed to me like the people who push for gun control seem happy when they get any law whatsoever passed, so they burn their political capital in fits and starts on symbolic votes and accomplish almost nothing. Any proposals big enough that they might have some long term impact (e.g. universal gun registry) are likely a nonstarter to begin with, but they’re definitely DOA with the lack of political capital and goodwill that gun control supporters have remaining with their opponents.

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                      • Dennis Sanders: I think that as long as that is the viewpoint of some gun control activists, gun owners aren’t going to work for firearms regulation.

                        If this is true then gun owners will never be amenable to any gun regulations because, amongst a population of 350M people, you can always find a few people that hold any particular viewpoint. The question isn’t whether such people exist; of course a few do, but not in such numbers as to be politically relevant (or dangerous, depending on your POV). The pro gun-control side consists of people seeking one or another of better/more background checks, limits on things like silencers and clip size or certain types of weapons (assault weapon bans), registration, etc. These proposals may or may not have merit (mostly not) but none come close to an outright ban on personal firearms apart from a couple of local ordinances that have been overruled by SCOTUS.

                        It’s the other side, the pro gun-rights side, where you find the politically relevant groups holding the opposite extreme position.

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                • Kazzy,
                  This would be fine if folks were reporting “irresponsible gun usage”
                  … like walking around with it loaded and no safety on.

                  But those people aren’t the problem — really, they aren’t.

                  It’s the people smuggling guns to Mexico, or to the inner city, or otherwise getting them into the hands of criminals.

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    • Kazzy
      “What delineates between whether a drug charge (specifically) is felony or misdemeanor?”
      … whether you’re black or white. (seriously, the difference between crack and cocaine sentencing is alarming).

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  3. I think my position is pretty well known, i.e., I don’t believe that there exists any moral foundation for a right to own or carry a gun. I believe a just society can and should make them highly regulated privileges.

    Having said that, its important to understand that:
    A. This is a very minority opinion and;
    B. Laws are generally only just when enforceable, and only enforceable when widely accepted.

    I add these to forestall the inevitable objections that an immediate ban on weapons would create injustice, as Jaybird references.

    But for me, just opening up the discussion, challenging the existence of gun rights, is beneficial- it gets people to posit a different reality, and to question things currently just accepted. My hope is that over time the culture changes to embrace a more restrictive gun law, or more exactly, a culture in which fewer and fewer people feel the desire to own one.

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    • LWA,
      Do you feel that everyone in America is entitled to police? To a response time measured in minutes rather than several hours?

      I HATE it when folks don’t know the lay of the land…

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  4. What’s interesting about all of this is how talk about guns is a culture issue and not a policy issue. If this were just about policy, we could come up with some kind of legislation that would at least be palatable to all sides. Or maybe it would force one side to give up totally.

    Culture on the other hand seems to lend itself to little compromise and little understanding of the other side. It tends to be a more maximalist position: all or nothing.

    Most know I learn towards the libertarian view on guns, but I do think there should be some restrictions and regulations. I don’t think we can do what Australia did in the 90s for a number of reasons, but we can find our own “happy medium.”

    So, what would gun control look like in the States and how can it help reduce harm?

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    • It’s a culture issue because the policy issue is so completely and utterly intractable.

      In a reasonably just America, everyone is entitled to a police presence, and they don’t need guns, just a safe room.

      When police can’t reach you within an hour, you’re still vulnerable in a safe room.

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  5. I’ve outlined my compromise position before.

    Wouldn’t it be appropriate from a libertarian perspective to remove a large number of regulations and replace them with (1) a gun registration / tracking scheme like we have with cars, such that the previous owner is responsible for notifying of transfers; and (2) presumed liability for all harm caused by a gun you “own” under (1), rebutted only by proof of all of the following: (a) you stored the gun in a reasonably secure location, like a gun safe; (b) the gun was taken from that location without your consent; and (c) you reported both a and b to law enforcement before the harm occurred.

    That way, since I’m so often assured we are a nation of responsible gun owners, we can avoid this burdensome regulation everyone says they hate, but when your kid kills my kid with your gun, you go to jail.

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    • That is more or less my plan, albeit better articulated. I can tell you most gun folks I’ve talked to because they don’t want to be responsible for what happens with their guns. “What if I don’t know it’s stolen?” Well, you ain’t very ‘sponsible then, now are ya?

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          • Oh, I’m not the person to ask questions about reasonability or unreasonability.

            I’m just wondering where these suggested (are they suggested?) policies will end up in practice.

            Given that I see this outcome as likely leading to “the imprisonment of people who haven’t really done anything wrong”, this strikes me as leading to outcomes that most would find immoral and not the outcomes they were hoping for when they were calling (are they calling for?) these policies.

            I mean, how many boxes/safes in your parents’ home would you have been unable to get into (if you put your mind to it)?

            Assuming that there was a gun safe in your house, do you think that you wouldn’t have been able to get into it? Assuming that the guns in the gun safe had trigger locks, do you think that you wouldn’t have found the keys?

            I don’t think that my adolescence was that out of the ordinary on issues of “I could have gotten into it… I could have found the keys.”

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            • Jaybird: Assuming that there was a gun safe in your house, do you think that you wouldn’t have been able to get into it?

              Dude, go down to your local Cabela’s or Bass Pro shop and check out their safes sometime. Cabela’s is one of our customers and I’ve seen the things on the receiving dock. That’s a serious piece of hardware. You lose the combination and you’re going to be paying a locksmith some serious coin to break into it unless the manufacturer has it on file or something.

              So no, I don’t think I could have broken into one of those as a kid, at least not one of the big ones. I’d feel confident keeping cash, jewelry, and important papers in there.

              The bigger issue is Dad saying, “Here, Carl, you’re a man now, I can trust you with the combination to the gun safe.” And then Carl (or “Coral”) proves not to be so trustworthy after all.

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              • The bigger issue is Dad saying, “Here, Carl, you’re a man now, I can trust you with the combination to the gun safe.” And then Carl (or “Coral”) proves not to be so trustworthy after all.

                As is so often the case, the weak point in the security system is the people using it.

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              • I’m told that my father was a “keep your password on a sticky under the keyboard” kinda guy (though, granted, this was decades before home computers). He kept the key to the gun cabinet on top of the gun cabinet, for example.

                I’m guessing (though, of course, I have no numbers for this) that this kind of thing is rampant.

                Maybe my parents weren’t representative.

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              • Actually, in looking up some stuff about the amount of stolen guns for this discussion, I came across a few articles that said that current gun safes often ended up being crap. They look nice, and are very heavy, but can be cracked in a very short amount of time, and cut open even faster.

                And even with the good ones, apparently a good portion of the owners don’t bother bolting them down, so people just steal the entire safe. (‘But it weighs 400 pounds, how could they take it?’ ‘I dunno, how’d it *get there* in the first place?’)

                I’m not exactly sure why, but I suspect it’s something about how if you *require* people to do something that they don’t really see the need for, they’ll do it in a slipshod manner.

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        • I think last time I discussed this the answer was that we would have to limit it to civil liability for unintentional harm caused by an owner’s gun. In that specific example, it’s hard to see who the plaintiff would be, unless one spouse owns the gun and the suicide causes a divorce.

          But if your kid shoots my kid with your gun this would allow me to sue you.

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    • I’m on board with that, although I would impose some sort of grace period before reporting.

      I.e., if someone breaks into your house while you’re out, steals your gun, and then goes next door and immediately shoot someone, you’re not liable because you didn’t telepathically report it before you even knew it was missing.

      I think three days would be a reasonable amount of time, although that could be raised if you could demonstrate you had no way of knowing about the theft. Like, someone broke into your house while you were out of the country and didn’t know it, or you had it locked out of sight inside a gun case and there were not indications it had been opened and relocked.

      However, the max period should probably be around a month…if you can’t bother to check you still possess every single gun you think you possess every month, or get someone else to go by your house and check, or put the guns in secured storage or something, you are not a responsible gun owner. (And there should be secured gun storage companies that, if you leave your guns with them, *they* are responsible for reporting theft.)

      And, in the other direction, the grace period ends immediately when you do realize you were burgled…you have an affirmative duty, at that point, to immediately check each and every gun you own, and report any missing.

      And I’m with the idea someone else proposed that, if your guns keep getting stolen, you don’t get to own them anymore, or at least don’t get to *buy* any more of them. Although we need to be careful about how we phrase limits…not only does ‘two robberies a decade apart’ not really count as irresponsible, but someone breaking into your house, breaking into a locked gun cabinet, and stealing four guns at once should not only not count as four thefts…it probably shouldn’t ‘count’ as any. That’s not being irresponsible, that’s just being unlucky.

      Perhaps it should be something like driver’s licenses, where you can get ‘strikes’ against you, and have to cancel them out with gun ownership courses?

      The problem, of course, is thanks to the NRA promoting insane paranoia over the past few decades in order for gun manufacturers to rake in profits, there is no such thing as ‘reasonable’ gun regulations.

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      • I’m sure we could figure out an appropriate way to handle problems like immediate post-theft use and the like. Your ideas sound like they are on the right track.

        I’m not sure how formal a system you’d really need on repeat thefts, as I suspect it would become immediately apparent where responsibility for getting guns from a manufacturer into the crime-stream should fall. Hell, if the manufacturer doesn’t get the gun to someone then it’s on them. And if some guy at a pawn shop keeps getting guns “stolen” then he’s probably worth investigating pretty thoroughly.

        I completely 100% agree with your last paragraph.

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        • I’m not sure how formal a system you’d really need on repeat thefts, as I suspect it would become immediately apparent where responsibility for getting guns from a manufacturer into the crime-stream should fall.

          Oh, we already know that. This system won’t really help at all, because we don’t need this system. We already can pinpoint how guns get into the crime-stream.

          The most obvious is ‘thefts’ from gun stores.

          This is usually discovered not because anyone reported the ‘theft’, but because the gun was used in a crime and traced back to the gun store, and the gun store has no record of selling it, so, obviously, it was ‘stolen’.

          Luckily, it’s only between 5%-10% of gun shops that have this near constant sort of secret ‘theft’ going on. The rest appear to have no secret robberies at all…they do sometimes get robbed, but they actually notice and report missing guns to the police. And robbing *them* is a complicated measure, exactly because guns are so valuable so the gun shops tend to have fairly good security.

          It sure is odd how a few of those shops don’t seem to have that, and one wonders how those constantly-‘robbed’ gun shops stay in business, or how the ‘criminals’ are getting in to ‘steal’ the guns. One also wonders what sort of inventory management system they’re using that causes them not to notice these problems until the police show up asking who they sold the gun to.

          Also, my keyboard appears to be generating spuriously single quote characters. Odd.

          Second after these mysterious ‘theft’ is theft from *cars*, of all the goddamn things. Seriously, it’s a huge problem, where morons leave their guns in cars, and people steal them.

          So, yes, if we actually *cared* about this, and if it was theoretically possible politically to pass laws about this, we could easily figure out who the ‘bad’ gun owners were.

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          • Ok, but now we’d have easy lawsuits on those guns which would help shut things down. Only way to avoid that would be to report every “stolen” gun which would likely be a brighter red flag than just tracing back the few that wind up in evidence.

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  6. Roof had a record, and I’ve heard that it was potentially enough in some cases to have prevented him getting a gun. That might not be right, or it might be caveated in some way.

    So potentially this it was a particular gun acquisition (notice I didn’t say shooting event, though that’s not impossible as well) that could have been prevented or delayed by tighter, more reliably enforced and possibly more restrictive rules about what kinds of criminal or other records can make people ineligible for gun ownership.

    At the same time, someone with these views who is this young a) might well have had no record at all, and b) once radicalized is likely to be able to get his hands on a gun if he wants to commit an act like this.

    (b) is no reason not to make it harder to purchase guns via stricter criminal-record limits on gun ownership and more comprehensive background checks, though. It could certainly prevent some events like this.

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  7. Let’s say that someone owns a gun and keeps it at home. Maybe in a gun safe, maybe in a nightstand, whatever. This person is out and about without the gun and happens to allegedly commit some sort of felony.

    Will this turn into “Gun Owner Commits Felony” under any given new paradigm?

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  8. Idle thought: I imagine that Republican Strategists are hoping and praying that gun control is a bigger issue around the time of the debates than the Confederate Flag. “Please please please make 2016 about Gun Control”, I imagine them thinking. “Please please please please please.”

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        • I will counter with this one, then: once upon a time, Republican strategists were hoping and praying that gay marriage would be an issue. How they feel about it now?

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          • I think they’ve mostly moved on and only occasionally use the issue as red meat to throw to the base without actually doing anything at all about it (perhaps saying “vote for me because I’ll stop this judicial activism!”).

            The numbers of seats won due to Republicans opposing SSM is still a lot higher than the number of seats lost due to opposing it (have there been any seats lost based on opposition, actually?).

            But I suspect that if it were up in the air over whether SSM was a big issue in this election, the same Strategists would be saying “please don’t make SSM a big issue… let’s not make SSM a topic for the debates… please please please.”

            I don’t know how Republican Strategists will feel about gun control in, oh, 2024.

            But my suspicion is that, in 2016, they’ll be salivating over the prospect of making Hillary talk about it in public (and mock the pictures of her using poor trigger discipline in the obligatory skeet shoot publicity photos).

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    • It was originally reported that he had received it as a present from his father. This was essentially a rumor, and while it may be true that he received the gun as a gift, we now know as fact that he purchased a .45 himself.

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  9. Riffing on the car analogy, in my state the owner of a car is required to carry liability insurance in order to legally drive a car. Perhaps gun ownership should carry the same sort of burden.

    Just as insurance companies use actuarial tables to determine price for auto policies, they could use that data, along with other relevant, publicly available data, to price gun liability insurance. Mike Dwyer, responsible hunter with a gun safe gets a low rate; Dylann Roof, Confederate lost causer with a manifesto gets a prohibitively expensive rate.

    Will that keep a gun out of his hands? Likely not, and it’s the side of the debate that the NRA is unwilling to engage on. Which I guess gets us back to the question of responsibility. It seems as though Mike’s sense begins and ends with him and his gun.

    To further the car analogy, if I’m a bar owner who overserves my patrons, I’m responsible, at least civilly, for the aftermath. Similarly, if I’m a gun owner, or non-gun owner for that matter, who is aware of someone with a gun who begins to threaten to kill with that gun, it’s incumbent on me to let someone know. Civil, and perhaps criminal, penalties ought to apply in this case, as well.

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      • We should go ahead and get rid of mandatory auto insurance, because some people don’t get that either!

        In fact, we should abolish the laws against murder, because criminals actually kill despite it being against the law! Laws are in fact pointless, because criminals are defined as those who ignore the law!

        Huzzah! We don’t have to do anything but throw up our hands and admit defeat. Thank god, for a moment I thought I might have to exert myself.

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  10. I also question a lot of the assumptions baked into the argument.

    Its assumed that America will always be a nation that produces, assembly line fashion, a steady stream of psychopath and deranged people who are hell bent on mass slaughter.

    Its assumed that we are in danger, always and everywhere, and that carrying a gun is a reasonable act.

    This isn’t even tangentially tied to racism, its an integral part of it. We behave very much like the white gentry in the antebellum, in constant barely submerged terror at the thought of menacing dark men.

    This isn’t amenable to a simple solution, but it can be changed.
    We got to this point starting with racism, with a few decades of constant “War on Crime” propaganda, the stories we hear and repeat of urban horror and lawlessness.

    It can be changed by a constant pushback against the notion of “out of control crime” and “keep us safe” rhetoric.

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  11. Slade the Leveller: Which I guess gets us back to the question of responsibility. It seems as though Mike’s sense begins and ends with him and his gun.

    I don’t think that is the correct characterization. I definitely believe responsibility extends beyond my own guns. That’s why I not only try to be a reasonable voice in discussions around guns here, but why I also practice what I preach in my real life. I 100% agree that I should bear the burden for alerting the authorities to any potential gun threats and/or someone who is not being responsible with their guns. Where I differ with is that he doesn’t seem to believe he has that same burden because he doesn’t own a gun. I’ve been thinking about this a bit and it kind of feels like he’s trying to be punitive here. There’s a certain amount of concern trolling with the whole, “You gun guys are the best ones to identify threats.” That seems designed to make gun ownership a little harder than non-gun ownership. If that’s how he feels then so be it, but gun owners already have additional burdens that come with gun ownership. No need to tack on more that should really apply to everyone.

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    • One of us wants to carry around a tool solely designed to kill. The other doesn’t. You really don’t think there should be different costs borne by the two of us on account of that?

      Again, my compromise is that rather than be policed from the outside, let gun owners police themselves… at least to a certain extent. Don’t want to have the Feds banging down your doors taking down all guns just in case you are a racist, violent extremist? Then work with us and let us know if one should end up in your midst. I’m not saying you have to root them out. Only that you should notify us.

      And, fine, yes, we all have that responsibility. And the consequence of failing to meet that expectation is a loss of access to guns. So if I fail to report, I can’t buy any guns either. Happy?

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      • “One of us wants to carry around a tool solely designed to kill. The other doesn’t. You really don’t think there should be different costs borne by the two of us on account of that?”

        And there it is. So this is a punitive thing. And that’s fine, because I know in general you’d like to see a lot less gun ownership. But stop with the faux concern for gun owners, which seems pretty obvious below.

        Again, my compromise is that rather than be policed from the outside, let gun owners police themselves… at least to a certain extent. Don’t want to have the Feds banging down your doors taking down all guns just in case you are a racist, violent extremist? Then work with us and let us know if one should end up in your midst.

        And this:

        “And, fine, yes, we all have that responsibility. And the consequence of failing to meet that expectation is a loss of access to guns. So if I fail to report, I can’t buy any guns either.”

        This reminds me of when the Right used to say that gays had the right to marry, as long as they married someone of the opposite sex. You would suffer for not reporting, but only if you wanted to buy a gun in the future.

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        • Twist my words to make yourself a victim if you want. I’m not trying to punish anyone. Guns need policing. Responsible gun owners can be part of that or not. If they opt out, they lose their seat at the table.

          I’m not trying to punish you. I’m asking than responsible gun owners actually be, ya know, responsible. Is that too much to ask?

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          • You have said that if gun owners fail to report potential gun crimes they should be prosecuted. That sounds like a punishment to me.

            What you’re also saying is that the responsibility for mitigating gun crime only lies with gun owners, the converse being that if a crime does happen, gun owners have failed…right? I really would like to hear the ethical justification for you abdicating your civic responsibility there. Or do you still want to stick with, “Gee whiz guys, how can a non-gun owning liberal like myself possibly identify potential gun threats?”

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          • I’ve stayed out this, but this is some weapons grade stupid here.

            Kazzy, you have a penis. If you fail to report a person whom you think might be a rapist, should you be held legally responsible if the guy rapes someone? You are OK risking a lifetime on a sex offender registry because you failed to take action with regard to the warning signs you should obviously know to watch for (because you are, ya know, male & have a penis)?

            Are you comfortable with the mandated reporter responsibilities you have as a teacher? Do you feel you have adequate education & training to be able to reasonably detect potential abuse? How much training did you get? Is it adequate to avoid false positives? Do you think the misdemeanor penalty you would suffer for failing to report is enough, or should it involve a year in jail or a felony record?

            Now expand that paradigm to the entirety of the gun owning population, and the difficulty of identifying potential threats without considerable false positives (with each false positive potentially causing an innocent person a whole heaping helping of headache – and that’s even before we couple that to the potential for abuse from people who REALLY hate guns – gun owners have already been SWAT’ed by people with an axe to grind).

            Instead of running all over this ground more & more, let’s just do this.

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              • Oh I’m pretty sure racism played a part, and the racism discussion is one that absolutely should be had.

                But it can be had without a name or a face to the killer. The act alone, and the testimony of the witnesses, is more than enough without granting this asshole his 15 minutes, or giving a potential copycat someone concrete to idolize.

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                • I’m not sure I understand that. Are you saying that bringing up the racism angle would create more problems than addressing it, even tho you think racism played a part in it, calculus?

                  How do you determine that calculus – the, better to not talk the role X played in Y so’s to not motivate other X’s doing Y?

                  I mean, I apologize for saying this, but I’m seriously on my last straw with folks who want this incident, like so many others, to be something other than it actually was. It amounts to the normalization – by making it an aberration – of violence, to me. Which is especially concerning since the culture that most wants to normalize it – by viewing it as aberrant – seems to hold views very similar to Roof. (All the way down from confederate flag defenders to racism deniers on thru second enders.)

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                  • As I said, I very much think it was about race/racism. I also think there is a significant element of mental health involved, but there is no question racism fueled this.

                    I just wonder how much value we get toward the discussion of racism by plastering his face & name everywhere. Treat discussions as you would a medical case where patient privacy must be protected.

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            • In short, the argument that a person who can be identified as a member of Group X did a very bad thing, thus the larger population of Group X is responsible* for policing their own is a shit argument.

              It’s shit when applied to muslims, or blacks, or gun owners, or any other group you care to identify.

              *exception: groups which exist under a hierarchal authority – in that case the authority that exercises authority over the group can be held responsible; e.g. military, police, organized religions, etc.

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              • Well, I hear about the extremes, but I reject the idea that group-self-policing is a stupid idea. Seems to me that’s what a community, a culture, is built on. Muslims absolutely need to talk to other Muslims about killing folks for lampooning the Prophet. Gun rights folks absolutely need to talk to folks about responsible gun ownership. I don’t think I’d take it as far as Kazzy does, but wevs. That’s his view.

                I mean, where do you think norms come from if not the communities we exist in?

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                • True enough, but only within the context that all a group can legally, even morally do is educate & apply social pressure. Demanding some kind of responsibility or liability for bad acts committed by singular persons, or by persons who are tangentially linked*, is a stretch.

                  *My understanding is the guy just purchased the firearm a few months ago, and was not socially active with a gun club or rights group, so the ability to police him as a member was practically non-existent.

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            • First, my idea was admittedly a quarter-baked. I got frustrated because seemed to immediately go to a place wherein gun owners have zero additional responsibility as gun owners. Maybe they shouldn’t be any more responsible for reporting their fellow gun owners who make violent threats. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that with gun ownership comes responsibilities and expectations, which seemed to be what Mike was objecting to.

              It is still unclear to me what responsible gun ownership looks like. Mike made a few points about keeping them away from children and not brandishing them in a threatening manner. But that can’t be the long and short of it, right? I mean, in 2010, there were over 11K homicides using guns. That is a lot of people acting irresponsibly with their weapons, to say the least.

              So, again, if we can define — explicitly! — what a responsible gun owner looks like… what he does… how she acts… than maybe we can begin to proactively identify irresponsible gun owners and stop them before their irresponsibility leads to loss of life.

              I don’t think we should wait until someone kills someone to declare them irresponsible. And I think as soon as we recognize someone as irresponsible with their guns, their rights should be curtailed.

              Yes, in America, we have gun “rights” because some guys wrote something down on a piece of paper. But ultimately, gun ownership is a privilege. And with privilege comes responsibility. I’m trying to get at what, exactly, that responsibility looks like. Dwyer seems to think it doesn’t exist.

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              • Imagine this except it’s about the Fourth Amendment and not the Second.

                “Well, we all have privacy rights, that’s certainly true. But ultimately, privacy is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. We need to establish whether there are certain types of activity–criminal activity, mind you, stuff we all can agree is bad news, pornography and drug trafficking and terrorism–that are so troubling that it’s legal, for proper authorities acting under the auspices of duly-elected law enforcement, to search people’s communications and belongings without explicit consent.”

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              • Kazzy, do you drive a car? Cars still kill more people than guns. What is your moral obligation with regard to other drivers being irresponsible with their car? How about a legal one?

                The best you can do is, when you see it happen, call 911. If you have a dashcam, perhaps save the video. But if the other driver kills a family 10 miles down the road, that’s not on you.

                That’s it. That is the sum total of your moral responsibility (there is no legal responsibility with regard to other owners). If someone steals your car, legally, you have no obligation to even report it stolen. You’ll have a tough time filing an insurance claim if you don’t, but if the thief uses it to run down a farmers market, you have no liability.

                But somehow gun owners should.

                And irresponsible gun owners lose their rights without hurting or killing anyone all the time. Not as consistently as I’d like (lots of police out there still carrying despite forgetting their gun in a bathroom or having a negligent discharge), since it’s up to law enforcement to make a case out of it, but it still happens. It just rarely makes the national news, because no one was bleeding.

                The thing is, until they act irresponsibly in a public way, our hands are tied. And this is the way it should be, because the alternative is not a legal system any of us really want to live under. It’s already creeping uncomfortably close to that system already.

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              • “So, again, if we can define — explicitly! — what a responsible gun owner looks like… what he does… how she acts… than maybe we can begin to proactively identify irresponsible gun owners and stop them before their irresponsibility leads to loss of life.”

                Thinking about this some more, if we’re talking about legally owned guns, most of what we might call ‘irresponsible’ is either sloppy gun handling or sloppy gun security. I’m okay with reasonable penalties for both, but I don’t know if that really prevents many crimes. Sloppy gun handling is something you really just deal with by educating them. If they aren’t securing their guns I don’t know how likely I am to know about it.

                Much of the gun crime in this country comes from people who never legally owned the guns they have. Whether they are felons who obtain trafficked guns, or people who carry them in jurisdictions where they aren’t legally allowed to do so, I think that ‘irresponsible’ is too weak a definition. I wouldn’t call a burglar ‘irresponsible’. That’s where law enforcement needs to do a better job of pursuing gun traffickers.

                For the subset of gun crime that amounts to ‘crimes of passion’ be it unplanned or planned murder and acts of violence like mass shootings, that’s where we really do need to depend on everyone to help police their fellow citizens. You see suspicious behavior or a loved one that is acting abnormal and you try to get them help. I have a friend whose sister committed a murder/suicide last year. She lived in another state and he wasn’t aware how far she had slipped. He’ll forever wonder what he could have done to stop it or if one of her friends that saw her regularly might have seen a warning sign. I know, in retrospect, that my father exhibited warning signs before he killed himself in 1996. That stuff is where the mental health side comes into play.

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                • I don’t think it’s that hard. A “responsible” gun owner is someone who is responsible for what their gun does.

                  If you’re “responsible” in the sense of treating your gun like a dangerous tool, that’s easy since your gun will never be misused. If you’re instead simply a gun owner and “responsible” in the same sense that everyone rates themselves as an above-average driver, society benefits because you pay the costs of your failure.

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                  • Nevermoor:

                    I fit the description of a responsible gun owner and yet liberals would place their “resonable” restrictions on me. No assualt weapons, one gun a month etc. Ted Kennedy and his car have killed more pepole than any of my guns and yet he only got a slap on the wrist.

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                    • I would caution you on comparing cars to guns. In my experience, most liberal control advocates do not think that is a fair comparison because all guns are ‘made to kill’. Even, let’s say, a nice over-under designed for competition shooting. That’s also ‘made to kill’. So we can’t use the same logic we use surrounding cars and liability, because the greatly more deaths from automobiles are all accidents, whereas if someone is killed with a gun, well, the gun was designed for that from day one.

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                        • So David Frum is a liberal?

                          His suggestions:
                          1. Enforce Laws Against Prohibited Gun Buyers, including clamping down on rogue dealers

                          Most—but not all. In 1995, a researcher analyzed government tracing data and discovered that 1 percent of gun dealers sold 57 percent of the weapons found at crime scenes.

                          By holding these rogue gun dealers to account, it might be possible to significantly diminish the flow of guns into criminal hands. Instead, Congress chose to protect rogue gun dealers from scrutiny and sanction. In 2003, Congress passed a law forbidding government agencies to disclose tracing data that might link a particular dealer to a criminal purchaser. It’s hard to hold gun dealers responsible for selling to unlawful buyers if nobody is allowed to know where an unlawful buyer purchased his weapons.

                          2. Require Gun Owners to Carry Liability Insurance

                          A requirement that gun owners carry insurance would not only protect potential accident victims—including gun owners, since many gun accidents are self-inflicted—against economic loss. An insurance requirement would create incentives for more responsible gun behavior. Just as insurance companies offer better rates to those who install burglar alarms, so they might offer better rates to those who install secure gun safes. Just as a prior accident raises the future cost of car insurance, so careless gun owners will be encouraged to exercise better care in future.

                          3. Require Meaningful Training for Carry-Permit Holders

                          The potential victims of a concealed-carry permit holder’s inaccuracy, incompetence, senility, arrogance, racism, or lack of impulse control are entitled to better assurance than this. You enjoy Walter Mitty fantasies of bringing down a dangerous criminal and saving the girl with a well-aimed shot? Fine. Take a test under conditions that simulate the chaos of a mass-shooting scene. Prove that you can hit the target—without also putting five shots out of six into the nearby silhouette of a baby stroller or man in a wheelchair. Produce evidence of good conduct and mental stability. And be prepared to forfeit your deadly weapon if you are ever caught publicly intoxicated or engaged in other actions that display disregard for public safety, such as moving violations in an automobile.

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                            • Your shifting goal is intriguing.

                              Nobody has claimed that CCW is the cause of mass murder; but that unfettered access enables mass murder. In most places, concealed carry requires a permit — there is a screening process, and people who carry without that permit are criminals, outside your CCW argument. (Note that concealed carry is what most criminals do; so you’re indirectly supporting what Frum’s arguing for with licensing).

                              But we move from regulating and mass shootings to ccw and crime in general and back whenever it best makes the case for your argument without clarity.

                              That’s pretty disingenuous.

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                              • Me, shifting goals? Your example deals with CCW holders. Did you even bother to read what you posted? Zic, If you can’t come up with a better argument it’s not my fault.

                                You can’t even tell me how your proposed ideas would stop street crime like the example I cited, so instead you attack me.

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                                • Frum’s (not mine) suggestions are for all guns, not just hand guns that are concealed.

                                  I didn’t give my proposed ideas, I gave a conservative’s ideas.

                                  Mine would be that if you’re whining about gun restrictions, it’s a pretty good indication that you know you maybe shouldn’t have a gun, actually. If you think they should be freely available and unrestricted, then you might be part of the gun problem. If you run out to get a new gun every time there’s a shooting in the news, you’re part of the problem.

                                  But I believe people who think they need a gun for protection are cowards, and I’ve repeatedly said that.

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                                  • “But I believe people who think they need a gun for protection are cowards, and I’ve repeatedly said that.”

                                    Are the police including in that?

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                                    • notme,
                                      have you ever been fucking shot at? have you ever returned fire?

                                      Carrying around something that is useless and weighs you down is just plain stupid.

                                      I know people who have been shot at, and have returned fire. But you? you aren’t in the middle of a gangland war, haven’t been followed home.. why the fuck would you need to protect your family?

                                      If you want to protect your family, Drive Safer, and carry a competent first aid kit and cell phone.

                                      Please, be practical.

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                                        • But why would you be fighting them even if they were idiots? In any scenario that would require the gun, somebody else has already drawn first. For the sake of argument, you believe that you are better than them and that you will be able to neutralize them. Are you certain that your young niece will know how to duck and cover? What about your 70+-year-old mom? Will they be fast enough and have enough of a clear head to do so? Is there adequate cover?

                                          Hell, let’s add other people into the mix. Let’s say that I’m out with Jaybird, Maribou, and Jaybird’s mom to celebrate the release of her new book and the same scenario happens. Frankly speaking, I don’t have confidence that any of them wouldn’t freeze up much less be fast enough to duck and cover while I gamble that I’m fast enough to draw and accurately fire on someone who has already drawn. They’re fine people but “agile” is not one of their qualities.

                                          That’s not even getting into strangers. If I fire three shots and doubletap the assailant, where does the third bullet go? What if one bullet passes through the assailant and caps the guy at the cash register?

                                          This is all presuming that I’m not a spray and pray type of guy in a panic situation and that my presumption of superiority is well-founded.

                                          The gun may help you defend yourself. In a home invasion scenario, as long as the people breaking into your place aren’t cops, it may help you defend others. In just about any other situation, it doesn’t actually strike me as an effective means of defending others.

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                                          • Pyre,
                                            Running is always the best option, even with a 5 year old on your back.

                                            That said, ” In any scenario that would require the gun, somebody else has already drawn first.” is flatly wrong. You could be being stalked, you could be at knifepoint, you could be surrounded by thugs with nothing more than their fists.

                                            With the last, at least, you might be able to defend your 70 year old mum by simply shooting the leader. It could work. It’s a desperation tactic.

                                            Did I mention I don’t go around armed? I can play out tactics all I want (and a friend of a friend carries a live grenade in her purse, for emergencies (the fake grenade is for most deals) — no, that isn’t America).

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                                            • If I’m or a family member is being stalked, a cell phone is a better option.

                                              If I’m at knifepoint, I can snap a neck faster than I can draw. (I can too or I have the training to do so. I haven’t ever had to put it in practice so whether I’d do it right is another question.) If a family member is at knifepoint, there is no possible way you’re going to be able to neutralize the assailant without them escaping death/severe injury.

                                              If I’m surrounded by thugs who have nothing but their fists, they are either already on me or I would be way faster with the aforementioned throat destruction than I would be drawing a gun and, as such, way more effective. Additionally, if I shot one of them and they were a different ethnic minority, I would probably be Zimmermaned if I did get out of it alive. Plus, in a close-quarters gang situation, you’re as likely to shoot who you’re trying to defend.

                                              Even if all goes well, your gun is still defending yourself and not others. The only non-Hollywood moment that I’ve heard of where a gun was effectively used for defense of others was by a prison guard. (Long story short: A fight was brewing in the exercise yard so the guard went to the PA system and pumped a shotgun over the loudspeakers. Everyone hit the deck and the situation was defused.) Everything else has been primarily a defense of self.

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                          • Got no issue with 1 or 2 (I’ve priced such specialty riders for my homeowners policy, was about $50/year).

                            Frum is being a bit overboard here, cops don’t have to take or pass such training, why should a private citizen? This is the criticism of training requirements, that as proposed they are often excessive or unrealistic. Ideally, the training requirement would never be any greater than the local police qualification.

                            That said, we have to ask, what is the problem to be solved?

                            Rogue dealers are a problem. If Frum is right, why was gun trace data so limited? Was it being abused by law enforcement?

                            Irresponsible owners are a problem & insurance could help, but I can see issues there as well (which I’ll save for when I’m in front of a keyboard).

                            CCW holders shooting innocent people by mistake is, well, a non issue. It happens maybe once a year? More of a paranoid fear than a problem.

                            And how much meaningful impact would any of this have on the issue du jour?

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                            • Re: Insurance – I see some significant pros & cons here. I’ll start with the cons.

                              Cons:
                              Potential for political meddling of prices – Firearms are hot button & the temptation to try and pass legislation at any level to raise rates artificially in order to discourage ownership could be an issue. As I mentioned above, right now my insurance carrier will give me a $500K balloon for $50/year. That is easily affordable for the bulk of the population.

                              Proof of insurance – I have the same criticism of auto insurance, that printing out an insurance card is too easy. I could be mistaken, but if the police pull me over & I give them my insurance card, AFAIK they have no way to verify that I actually have a policy and the card in their hand isn’t something I put together in GIMP. Granted getting caught doing that is perhaps a very bad thing (perjury, lying to an officer, etc?), but I can still see it as an issue with regard to enforcing the requirement. Anyone know more about this?

                              Pros:
                              Streamlining things – Let’s say I have a firearms liability policy. Now my insurance carrier has an interest in ensuring that I can reliably pass a background check. So make a change to NICS so that my carrier can run my information against the database once a quarter if they want, and if I want to buy a new firearm, I just present my insurance card, the dealer calls the carrier, verifies my policy is in good standing (gets a confirmation number or some such for his records), and away I go. Bonus – this will gut a lot of the argument against universal background checks, if they are done through the carrier, since the information that I bought a firearm will be held by my carrier, not the government, and should only be available via subpoena or warrant. Private sellers just have to record insurance information and the confirmation data to cover themselves, instead of finding a dealer to run the check for them.

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                              • Regarding your second Con point, here in Georgia the government has very thorough electronic records of your auto insurance. Insurance companies are required to inform the DMV when your insurance lapses or you cancel it. You can show the police officer whatever piece of paper you want to, but s/he knows whether or not your vehicle is insured as soon as s/he runs your plates. It seems a similar system for firearms could easily be put in place.

                                Regarding your first Con point, if the laws create artificially high insurance rights, that would be an unconstitutional law, wouldn’t it?

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                                • Yes, the ability to quickly query a policy would be a must for it to be worth anything from the enforcement side, although I’d limit the the response to a yes/no.

                                  As to artificial rates – IANAL. Perhaps it is, perhaps not. My understanding is governments tend to meddle in health insurance markets to keep prices low, so I’m not sure the opposite could not also be true.

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                    • I’d place mine on you, and if you are indeed responsible in the way that I mean, they’d be entirely invisible.

                      Note that I’m not endorsing the mandatory-insurance or other stuff in the proposal everyone seems to be having fun poking holes in.

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              • I find the idea interesting but lacking in specifics.

                Disclaimer: On a personal level, I kinda view guns in a similar way to Civil War monuments. I can see where people would resent having them taken away but I wouldn’t really care if they were taken away. Sure, there are constitutional arguments or “Mom” arguments but, in the end, it still comes down to “Meh. I’d be okay if they were gone.”

                To go back to the cigarette example, in the same year (2010) that we had 11,000 firearms deaths, the CDC said that 49,000 people died of causes directly related to secondhand smoke. Also, in that year, where 19,000 people killed themselves with firearms, 443,000 died of smoking-related diseases. In many ways, I would imagine that someone killing themselves through smoking is worse because these are people who will look right into the eyes of those they love and continue killing themselves through a filthy habit. It is also hard to argue that cigarettes are built for anything other than to kill their users.

                What is our responsibility there?

                In 2010, motor vehicles took the lives of 32,885 people.

                What is our responsibility there? Is the responsibility mitigated by a car’s intended use as opposed to a gun or a cigarette which are pretty much just killing tools?

                To go all the way into the first amendment, this post was put on the PS3 Mortal Kombat X board as a response to the probability that MKX has been cancelled for last-gen.

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                If this game does get cancelled,I’m slashing my throat and committing suicide. When it’s OFFICALLY announced that its canned,my life is over! MKX was everything to me.

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                What is my responsibility with this post? Would it be greater if he (?) said “I’m going to shoot the creators.” Would it be greater if he said “I’m going to shoot up my school.”

                If I told one of the League members to kill themselves, what is your responsibility in that situation?

                I’m not kicking at your idea so much as I’m curious about how you see responsibilities as well as how they change depending on the activity in question.

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                • In fact, I’m declaring the previous post a “Thought Experiment” post. Since you don’t follow anywhere else I post, a “Thought Experiment” post is where I propose or ask something. Afterwards, I make no further commentary. I do this to avoid interjecting my opinions on subjects where I’m curious to hear other ideas without polluting them with what I think of said ideas.

                  In this case, I’m truly curious in your answers to the questions above. As such, I will forego any ability to contradict or confirm.

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                  • Heh… just saw your second post, , so let me try to tackle your specific questions:

                    “What is my responsibility with this post? Would it be greater if he (?) said “I’m going to shoot the creators.” Would it be greater if he said “I’m going to shoot up my school.””
                    If you don’t know who the commenter is, I would say that the moral thing to do would be to notify the folks who run the board if the person makes a threat towards others. If the threat was only towards himself, I wouldn’t say you had an obligation to notify but you wouldn’t be acting immorally if you were to do so.
                    If you knew the person personally, I would say that the moral thing to do in any of the three scenarios would be to reach out to him directly to assess the credibility of the threat. If you found it to be credible, I think you’d be compelled to act, especially so when the threats are levied towards others. Exactly what actions you should take would depend on your relationship with the person, your ability to influence his actions, and other resources at your disposal.
                    If you know who the person was but didn’t have a relationship with him, I think you’d be morally obligated to alert the authorities if he made threats levied at others.

                    “If I told one of the League members to kill themselves, what is your responsibility in that situation?”
                    I don’t think I have any responsibility in that matter.

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                • Guns, cigarettes, and cars are all different for some very fundamental reasons.

                  First and foremost, cigarettes and cars killing people is a bug, not a feature. Guns kill people is THE feature.

                  Second, cigarettes do most of their harm to the user himself and we’ve enacted many laws to further isolate the harm to the user. This makes them different from both guns and cars.

                  Third, car makers are continually taking steps to make cars safer and safer. They are getting safer every day. This makes them different from guns and probably cigarettes.

                  Fourth, while deaths from car accidents are high, what would be the alternative? No autos would probably mean more deaths. And certainly a far lower quality of life for most if not all of humanity. So while looking at the absolute number of deaths caused by car accidents is alarming, putting it in context still makes cars hugely beneficial to humankind.

                  Guns are designed to kill. And they are very effective at killing. And many folks actively resist steps that would help lessen the number of gun deaths because… why?

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                  • Kazzy: And many folks actively resist steps that would help lessen the number of gun deaths because… why?

                    Objection, assumes facts not in evidence (that a proposed step would lessen firearm deaths while not significantly impacting lawful ownership) .

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                • In 2010, motor vehicles took the lives of 32,885 people.

                  What is our responsibility there? Is the responsibility mitigated by a car’s intended use as opposed to a gun or a cigarette which are pretty much just killing tools?

                  Well, yes, it’s migrated a little.

                  But it’s worth pointing out we have *thousands* of pages of laws intended to make operating a car safe, and people who do operate cars have all sorts of responsibilities and liabilities while doing so. Even niggling little details…and we change the rules *all the time*.

                  Not quite sure why we keep comparing guns to cars, though.

                  Buildings, for example, can kill people, too, and, lo and behold, we have a bunch of rules in places to stop that from happening also, and require people operating (Well, building and maintaining) buildings to follow a lot of rules or we don’t allow their use anymore either.

                  Food can kill people, and that has even *more* laws about it. Medicine, too.

                  Guns…well, there are some rules about who can own them, and rules about where they can possessed, but generally there are a lot less of them. There’s a lot of ‘irresponsible’ behavior that is completely legal.

                  If we actually treated guns like, I dunno, medicine, we’d require them to have spring-loaded trigger covers that required a complicated motion to open. If we treated them like buildings, they’d have to have it where you can confirm they are unloaded with a visual inspection. If we treated them like food, we’d require they all get yearly inspected and all bullets could be traced back to them. If we treated them like cars, we’d give people tickets if, at any point, the barrel was aimed at a person.

                  Instead, we treat them like tobacco or alcohol…we don’t let some people buy them, and that’s sorta the end of that.

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  12. notme:
    Zic:

    So I’m a coward b/c I want to protect my family when we are out in public?

    Not cowardly, just paranoid and irrational.

    A coward is someone who is unable to overcome their fear of something real.

    Imagining that you need a gun to take the family shopping at Krogers is….bizarre.

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    • LWA:

      Your problem is your mindeset. You assume that I think I NEED a CCW to go to the store. I don’t NEED a CCW to go to the store like I NEED to bring my wallet or my car keys. I don’t think I live in the mad max world, however I know that there are are times when it might be handy to CCW. If I really thought I NEEDED a CCW to go to a certain place I probably wouldn’t go there in the first place. The CCW is an insurance policy against things that could happen. Just like I have auto and home insurance. None of the students at VA Tech or the movie patons in CO thought a shooting would happen there either.

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      • Good for you. I am overjoyed to hear that you have repeatedly failed to enter places which the police avoid.

        Now for god’s sake, stay out of Alburquerque. There it’s the police you have to watch, and I wouldn’t trust a gun to save your hide.

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  13. So here’s where I think I’m now at on possible efficacy of gun control, some of this piggybacking off the Frum proposals quoted and linked above:

    1. Cracking down on “rogue” dealers is a good idea, and should be done, but I don’t think this will do more than marginally reduce the number of people being shot and killed each year (whether via homicide, suicide, or accident). First, black markets are lucrative things, and for every truly rogue dealer that gets shut down, there’s a good chance that another will pop up. Second, it’s not clear how many of the “1%” of dealers are truly rogue dealers rather than just being more convenient to high crime areas, though I suspect that a good chunk are indeed “rogues.” Still, this would probably help enough on the margins that it’s worth doing anyway.

    2. Mandatory Insurance – I superficially like the idea, but in practice I don’t know how well it would succeed, even at reducing accidental deaths, absent significant changes in our torts system. says above that his insurance rider is only about $50 a year. Given that a firearms accident covered by the policy is, in most cases, probably going to result in a six or seven (or even higher) claim, such a low rate suggests that these policies are only very rarely triggered (if we assume an average claim of an absurdly conservative $250,000, the rate indicates these policies are only triggered in less than one in every 50,000 policies). What’s more, the rate is so low that even when the policy got triggered, even a 300% increase in the premium would just make the premium $300/ year. A 1 in 50,000 chance of having a premium increase of $250 probably isn’t going to provide much of a meaningful incentive to be more cautious about gun safety, especially compared to the existing incentive of “risk that someone you know might get hurt or killed if you’re careless.” Additionally, with such a low base rate, the incentives the insurer could offer to coax the gun owner into adopting additional safety precautions in the form of discounts are minimal at best. So to make this idea have any meaningful effect, you’d need to also make it a lot more likely that an average firearms owner will be held liable for an accident or just for failing to exercise adequate safety precautions even in the absence of an injury or death. I’m assuming that ‘s policy doesn’t include hunting accidents, while a mandatory insurance system would include hunting accidents, but I’m genuinely uncertain how this would encourage hunters to take safety precautions in a way that “make sure not to shoot your friend/family member” doesn’t already do. Maybe it’d provide a disincentive for mixing guns and alcohol? I honestly am curious what our hunters think of this aspect of an insurance proposal.

    3. I’m not sure I see the point of mandating CCW accuracy training. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that this addresses an actual problem, and seems more aimed at just calling the NRA bluff insisting that CCW permits are a crime fighting tool.

    4. The US has an extraordinary rate of shooting deaths each year for an industrialized country, and there’s strong evidence that this is because of our absurdly high rate of gun ownership. On the other hand, that rate has also been steadily declining for quite some time even as the rate of gun ownership has increased substantially in the same period. These things are both true. I suspect that at some point, long ago, we reached a saturation point after which the relationship between increased gun ownership and shooting deaths plateaued. If this suspicion is true, then at this point, more guns will not meaningfully increase shooting deaths (but also certainly won’t meaningfully decrease them either). At the same time, though, the country is so saturated with guns that decreasing sales won’t meaningfully help, either. To reduce gun ownership enough to meaningfully decrease shooting deaths beyond their existing rate of decline (which almost certainly has to do with factors having little to do with gun ownership, like reduced lead levels), there would probably need to be a massive and unprecedented gun grab – which just isn’t going to happen. In fact, I’d wager there aren’t many gun control proponents who would have the stomach for this type of effort – even forgetting about the 2nd Amendment problems, and even forgetting the short-term prospects of violence, the basic 4th and 5th Amendment problems this would cause would be insurmountable.

    5. If I’m right, then there probably isn’t a viable way of making a significant dent in the number of shooting deaths in this country on an annual basis other than policies at the margins, such as the first two Frum ideas above, or by continuing to search for policies that indirectly (and in some cases, only coincidentally) make violence overall less likely.
    6. The one policy that I can think of that might have more than a marginal effect (ie, saving more than a few dozen lives per year) would be a firearms registry, insofar as it would make it easier to spot potential straw purchases and make criminal investigations easier. But even that would probably have only a limited effect and politically would require gun owners and gun control groups to first spend years developing trust – gun owners will never agree to this unless the potential for policies they view as gun-grabbing or arbitrary (often correctly, IMHO) are taken off the table, and gun control groups won’t agree to take these policies off the table unless groups like the NRA show interest in a narrative other than “more guns, less crime.”

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    • 1) Also, Frum’s data is 20 years old.

      Stopping premeditated murder and mass murder is, in large, almost impossible if the perpetrator is not known to law enforcement*. Same goes for killings committed during other crimes (muggings gone south, criminal gang turf wars, etc.). Those require different tools than what any kind of gun control scheme can offer.

      One area I think could have significant impact in gun deaths is domestic violence. Right now, due process requires that the system do it’s thing before property is seized, as it should. This, of course, allows for ample time for a crime of passion to occur after a person has come to the attention of law enforcement (prior to coming to the attention, not much can be done, I don’t think). Now has, in the past, offered evidence from a study that looked at violence & death rates in situations where guns are seized vs. not, and there was evidence that victim survival rates were significantly higher. That said, we should be able to remove guns from a household in crisis. So why can’t we? Two reasons:

      1) Due process demands the government can not touch property until a judge has made a ruling. Gun Rights Advocates insist on this for two primary reasons: A) due process is a good thing, and B) police have a horrible record of returning seized weapons even after a judge orders them to.

      2) Once a person/family is in the system and a judge rules on criminal acts that restrict/remove rights, the path back to those rights is difficult & expensive, if not impossible. This creates an incentive to aggressively protect rights & property that, once lost, may never be regained.

      In this, I believe domestic abuse advocates hurt their case by aligning solidly with gun control advocates, because the hardline GCA are not interested in protecting the rights of gun owners, and have a stated goal of severely curtailing or eliminating the private ownership of firearms. My proposals (which I’ve laid out previously) are thus:

      1) Get weapons away from domestic situations heading south by allowing the weapons to be placed in escrow with a neutral third party. If there was a insurance scheme, this is a service an insurance carrier could provide directly or through contracted parties. The weapons are assembled under the eye of the police & delivered to the storage facility. Should the situation resolve without criminal charges, the weapons are returned. If criminal charges are filed and rights are curtailed, the owner can arrange for transfer of the property to other parties (recent SCOTUS case just ruled that in-possession means under direct control of, not just owned by), or contract for long term storage if the owner expects to be able to have their rights restored (or just doesn’t want to dispose of the property). The only weapons/property police should be able to seize are those they believe are directly related to a crime.

      2) Require a reasonable path to rights restoration. Once upon a time there was a federal program that did just this, but it was defunded. Currently the path back is dependant upon the states & it is often difficult & inconsistent, if there is a path at all. A person who has paid their debt to society and has not done something so heinous as to be permanently stripped of their rights should not be de facto stripped because there is no path back, or the path is difficult & expensive It should be as simple as applying for restoration (once all fines are paid & obligations are met) and paying a reasonable administration fee, with the only cases needing a lawyer or judge being those that are edge cases (e.g. Mark Wahlberg).

      Having a clear path back, and a way to preserve property, would help to defuse a lot of the objections over things like removing weapons from bad situations, or allowing weapons to be removed from people convicted of lesser crimes that act as warning signs for future trouble. But, as Mark said above, this also requires a lot of trust to be built up that advocates for such things are only interested in reducing violence, and not just ratcheting things up another step. As usual, extremists (on both sides) are given too much voice & prevent anything meaningful from actually happening.

      *There continues to be a significant lack of trust in the ability of law enforcement to handle mental health cases. Every time something like this happens, the willingness of the public to alert authorities to troubled family members is degraded, allowing such troubled persons to further deteriorate. Until we make strides to repair that trust, people who can commit mass murder will continue to slip through the cracks that are ever widening.

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    • On the other hand, that rate has also been steadily declining for quite some time even as the rate of gun ownership has increased substantially in the same period.

      I’m not sure that’s exactly true, though. The crime rate is down and as far as I can tell, the percentage of American households with guns has gone down substantially as well. The number of guns owned by Americans has gone up, but that’s a different question. I’d be surprised if that number ever went down because guns are constantly being manufactured and they’re extremely durable.

      It looks like guns are being concentrated more and more in the hands of fewer people, which isn’t a trend that particularly concerns me. With the exception of the occasional cult building an arsenal for the end times, it seems like this is mostly collectors and enthusiasts who likely don’t contribute much to the gun crime rate. When I hear, “OMG, he has 6 guns!” I think, “Well, he only has 2 hands, and even that’s pushing it. The rest of them are probably locked away at any given time.” All else held equal, one person with 100 guns will commit fewer gun crimes than 100 people with 1 gun each.

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      • It looks like guns are being concentrated more and more in the hands of fewer people, which isn’t a trend that particularly concerns me. With the exception of the occasional cult building an arsenal for the end times, it seems like this is mostly collectors and enthusiasts who likely don’t contribute much to the gun crime rate.

        Firstly, we probably *should* be concerned about such people, because a meaningful subset of those ‘collectors’ are the people who have been fed a paranoid line over the last two decades by the NRA.

        Secondly, those people are exactly the people who get their guns stolen. (Well, that and ‘gun stores’.)

        Additionally, those people are a handy source for *anyone*, not just ‘thieves’, who knows where to get guns from if those people are planning bad things with a gun and don’t care about consequences. I point to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

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        • Most “responsible” guys with guns don’t advertise they have guns. They don’t because 1) of running into rabid anti gunners who might cause them trouble, 2) it’s none of their damn business, 3) keeping a low profile so they aren’t targeted by crooks.

          Legal firearm owners aren’t a worry to anyone, criminality wise. And that “paranoia” isn’t paranoia when there actually ARE people who want to send the cops into your house and take your property, ’cause you know, you are “gunfilth” for owning them.

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          • You don’t comprehend the concern.

            Sports is one thing.

            Fear is another.

            If you own a gun because you hunt, you target shoot, you’ve got a problem with red squirrels in your camp, you walk in rattlesnake country, that is not the same thing as owning a whole arsenal of guns because you fear you or your family is constantly on the verge of rape, robbery, or rampage.

            People, today, are safer from crime then they have ever been; and people who own guns are more likely to experience gun violence than people who don’t. Households with guns are more likely to experience domestic violence. I know a lot of people who think they’re ‘responsible gun owners’ who keep a loaded shotgun by the bed; some few who keep an loaded handgun in the nightstand. Yet they think they’re responsible. They do this because they fear invasion; and that gun, in the nightstand instead of in the locked gun safe, is the real thing to fear.

            The real concern isn’t the hunter or your grandfather’s prize shotgun, it’s the run on guns after every over-publicized shooting. The best thing for the gun industry is a gun death in the news. The scurry to the marketplace happens because gun deaths are the single best advertising there is to bring customers into the gun market.

            I want to hear the gun culture condemning this idiocy. I want to hear gun culture condemning concealed carry when the only reason is you think you might be victim of a crime, that crime’s getting worse, and teh blacks and immigrants.

            Then we get to revolution. There are a lot of people who think they need guns to protect themselves from the government, from the cops, that they may need to overthrow the system. We’re only a few days out from the state of Texas making a fool of itself over Jade Helm. It wasn’t all that long ago that Clive Bundy made a fool of himself, too; a distraction from the fact that the man is steeling from us. Unfortunately, these fools are given aid and comfort by our policing/military stupidity; but it’s not Texas that has to worry, it’s Yemen and Syria. It’s not Bundy that has to worry, it’s those people he ridiculed on a porch who he said would be better off slaves.

            Personally, I’d like to disarm cops and dismantle much of the military and shut down most of the jails. I’d like to eliminate the war on drugs and the war on terror and make war on war. While I know the jobs of soldier or cop aren’t going away, the wars on our own people can.

            But that rush to buy another gun after some kid, barely with his first blush of beard, shoots up a church or a movie theater or college campus is a part of the arms race that fuels all of this. The cowardice of trusting to a gun, that you’re responsible for, but you leave next to your bed while you sleep fuels all this.

            So if you want to to take insult because you think I think your “gunfilth”, just to be clear, I prefer ammosexual for a slur, myself, it gets to the fetish part of the culture.

            But it’s not a culture of life, and it makes me sad that ‘good gun owners,’ are branded by the actions of cowards with a fetish and poor risk assessment skills.

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            • Just recognize that the fearful is an extreme position, one that, for most people, they move beyond.

              Just because a person carries does not mean they live in fear. They may have at one time, but no one can stay afraid for long & stay sane. You may not understand or agree with their choice (and frankly I’m tired of trying to help people understand that choice), but to reduce them all to living in fear is a copout.

              And as with most extremists, you see the worst because they are the loudest & they make for good news stories.

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              • Paranoid schizophrenics seem to function reasonably well in the real world, and they’re generally living in (self-induced, unrealized) fear. Not sane, of course, but at least functional.

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            • Regarding the fear hype that groups like the NRA & the GOA perpetuate, it’s annoying as hell, but I also think it’s a sign of, believe it or not, sore winners.

              Gun rights have enjoyed considerable court victories, and the pressure is on the make sure the lower courts consistently apply the SCOTUS rulings so fewer cases are forced into the appellate level in order to get the correct result.

              My prediction is this: The SCOTUS seems to be in something of a mood to hash this all out, and I expect that over the next few years, groups like the SAF will bring enough cases to it’s door that enough bright lines can be drawn such that a reasonable firearms regulatory scheme can be worked out. One that allows for effective regulation but prohibits the more abusive laws & regs that exist under the BATFE and certain states.

              Once that process is more or less complete, once the general borders of what can & can not be restricted is drawn, the rhetoric will mostly die down as there will be little to get up in arms over. The NRA will hopefully find less utility in the likes of Wayne LaPierre, and the extremists will retreat to the echo chambers of groups like the GOA as everybody else moves on to the next thing.

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              • , you seem to be making the fundamental error of assuming that the NRA is inciting paranoid nonsense because they want the laws a certain way.

                That’s…almost certainly not true, and a very strange way to get to that result. Nothing the NRA does indicates it is attempting to reach *any* political goal. The NRA has no political goals at all.

                They are inciting paranoid nonsense because the NRA is now operating as the *gun lobby*, and paranoia sells guns. The NRA exists to they can loudly yell about how people need to buy more guns because the government is going to start taking them away. That is the *entire* purpose of the NRA at this point in time. (Yes, I’m aware the NRA *used* to be something different. It changed.)

                The NRA would be profoundly *un*happy if, tomorrow, all gun laws disappeared, resulting in people stopping stockpiling guns for the upcoming ‘We’ll shoot police officers in the head when they come to take our guns and thus become national heroes!'(1) gun war.

                As said, they’ve managed to train people so that, when a mass shooting happens, they run out and buy *more* guns.

                1) I need to track down my little rant about how delusional idiots don’t realize that starting a ‘revolution’ against ‘out of control government’ that comes to ‘take our guns’ in this country will look *exactly* like a police officer getting killed in the line of duty. (Because, duh, it will be.)

                All those idiots confidentially saying ‘The military would never start attacking civilians’…well, yes, dumbass, you are correct. They won’t. They won’t even be involved at all in any ‘revolution’. It will be the police, trying to serve a search warrant when they got tipped off you had illegal guns. And you will shoot them?

                Remember the last time a police officer got killed in the line of duty and we all immediately leapt to the shooter’s defense and joined his cause? Yeah, me neither.

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                • You are kinda right.

                  The NRA (currently) exists to oppose further regulation. That is it’s sole function. It works for it’s members (the NSSF is the firearm industry lobby group), since that is who actually pays its bills. It blows up the rhetoric because that motivates the membership & gets them making phone calls to legislators to kill bills. We may find the rhetoric distasteful, but we have to admit it’s effective, and the NRA gets the job done.

                  If the NRA actually worked for the manufacturers & dealers, there would be no BATFE, or if there was, it would not be utter mess that it is. Seriously, talk to dealers sometime about how the ATF is a nightmare to deal with. Talk to manufacturers about the rules they have to operate under. It isn’t the regulatory burden, it’s the agency’s laziness, inconsistencies, capriciousness, and complete lack of process transparency for regulatory rulings. If the NRA worked for the supply chain, the BATFE would be dead & it’s functions would be wrapped up in the FBI, which is what people have wanted for decades.

                  As for the end game, it’ll happen because of fatigue. People can be riled up right now because the borders of the legal landscape are still fuzzy in areas. The NRA isn’t actually doing anything to fix that, because as those borders firm up, the NRA will have less to rile things up over. This is why they have been pretty much in the backseat with regard to cases like Heller, McDonald, Henderson, etc. Groups like the SAF have been the ones who are quietly getting those borders firmed up, and the NRA, while recognizing it would be stupid to oppose such lawsuits, isn’t helping because, and this is important, the vast majority of gun owners are getting effing tired of it all. They want bright lines & rules that let them enjoy their hobby & live in peace, because keeping track of it all is exhausting. Getting riled up everytime the NRA blows the dog whistle is wearing on the psyche, but so is being worried you are going to unknowingly commit a felony because you weren’t aware of some law, or the law changed, or you crossed the border from PA to NJ. Hell, pushing most non-violent and administrative violations of gun laws back down to low level misdemeanors would take a lot of the wind out of the NRA’s sails.

                  So it will down die, because at some point, when the uncertainty in the laws is mostly resolved, and the lower courts & states are all onboard with the new paradigm, people will start taking a deep breath & the power of the NRA will wane back to where it was in the 70’s & 80’s.

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                  • If the NRA actually worked for the manufacturers & dealers, there would be no BATFE, or if there was, it would not be utter mess that it is. Seriously, talk to dealers sometime about how the ATF is a nightmare to deal with.

                    Ah, I didn’t mean to imply that the NRA cared about *dealers*. They do not.

                    The NRA is in some weird downward spiral of trying to promote gun use in what is quite possibly the stupidest way possible. A way that results in more guns being sold to less people, which you would *think* the NRA would realize is a major problem in the long term.

                    If the NRA actually cared about *laws*, it would care about membership and the total number of gun owners. It would care about making sure gun owners behave responsibly, it would *desperately* be trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, etc, etc.

                    It would be striving to present gun ownership as some sort of normal behavior, and, hey, you could go get one too. No? Okay, that’s fine, but it’s a reasonable thing to have, plenty of perfectly normal people have guns.

                    Like it used to do, before Wayne LaPierre took over, before the hardliners completely took over the place. And they replaced all that with paranoid ranting.

                    There are three possibilities here:
                    1) The NRA cares only about how important it *sounds*, the braying jackass that thinks it’s awesome when it breaks into a town hall meeting and screams about jackbooted thugs and *everyone pays attention to it*.
                    2) The NRA is run by cynical assholes who will do anything they can to keep their nominal importance and position, even if it’s counter to the health of the organization.
                    3) The NRA, for some reason, actually wants more guns sold, *even if* it’s to less people, which would appear to undercut its own political position. Hence the allegation it’s in the pocket of manufacturers. (Not dealers, though.)

                    Talk to manufacturers about the rules they have to operate under.

                    Is the NRA *not* against BATFE? I think what we have here is an example of the NRA *failing*, not evidence of the NRA’s goals.

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                    • It’s always nice when we find areas we do agree on .

                      Being of the libertarian bent, I tend to view political behavior through a lens of acquiring & maintaining power. The NRA has power, Wayne has power. They want to keep their power & get more if they can. They are using the tried & true method of leveraging fear to that end (& why not, it’s how most of congress and lots of law enforcement behave).

                      I don’t think the NRA wants anything to really change. I think the SCOTUS decisions that are drawing clear lines make them worry something awful, even though the court is finding to their benefit.

                      Is the NRA *not* against BATFE? I think what we have here is an example of the NRA *failing*, not evidence of the NRA’s goals.

                      Sure they are, so very much, except the BATFE is more of a headache for manufacturers & dealers than owners (except for the occasional case). I think the NRA actually wants the BATFE around & inept because they can use them as a Boogie Man for gun owners.

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            • Z,
              Oh, I comprehend the fear. We just don’t see the same fear.

              Statistics on lower crime rates are all well and good but when someone’s broken into your house it really doesn’t matter worth a damn. Some people choose to keep a firearm in the house for self defense in the rare event they actually need it. I can cite plenty of examples of self defensive use of a firearm. You view it as fear. I view it as “contingency planning”.

              “The scurry to the marketplace happens because gun deaths are the single best advertising there is to bring customers into the gun market.” Nah, what brings people to the gun market is the reflexive “we must enact more gun control laws”. Fear? Fact! Sandy Hook brought about lots of new firearm laws. Where you see fear I see “last chance before the state outlaws something that was legal 6 months ago.”

              “There are a lot of people who think they need guns to protect themselves from the government, from the cops, that they may need to overthrow the system.” Yes there are. It’s happened before. It just may happen again. Nothing wrong with planning for contingencies. In addition, there are some folks who believe that some type of natural disaster could cause all kinds of chaos and they might want to have a firearm, in the remote case they would need it in that scenario. Fear? Perhaps. Again, contingency planning. Some people also keep stocks of food and water in case there are floods and hurricanes and such. I do. I keep food that doesn’t need refrigeration in case I lose power for several days. Prudence, especially given that only a while back a lot of my state had massive power problems stemming from storms.

              I don’t think YOU think I’m “gunfilth” But others have used that slur. But you may rest assured that I derive no sexual stimulation or gratification from guns. Perhaps a better term might be “tacticool”. It seems to address the excessive obsessive focus on the latest “new thing” and gadgets. I don’t get into much of that since it seems a waste of time and money, but if some dudes want to debate the merits of a 9mm round vs a 45 acp or whether or not a magpul mag is better than some other one, that’s fine by me. It’s like baseball stats.

              “poor risk assessment skills.”? You call it that. I call it “insurance”. You’re free to assess your risk as you choose. Others the same. Each individual decision is completely valid.

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              • Insurance is fine. Just remember that the best insurance is friends to watch your back. You have to sleep sometime, and the people with the largest gunstockpiles have just made themselves targets, just as much as the people with the most food (do be prepared to share with your neighbors, it’s just good sense).

                Defending your self and others from a common thief in your house is as easy as a nice steel door to the upstairs. Retreat, and then call the cops. (well, this is me, I live in city. I do not recommend this course of action if you’ve got more than an hour response time).

                What’s more likely? An assassin or some drug-addled murderer? Both suck, but thinking you can shoot an assassin is silly.

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            • Keeping your arsenal of guns in the house is just plain stupid.
              Either you get enough warning to get to your single gun and pull it out, or there’s little reason to have a gun in the house in the first place. Assume that some thief can pull your gun just as easily as you can, after all.

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          • Most “responsible” guys with guns don’t advertise they have guns.

            Most people do not, in fact, advertise at all. Because taking out ads to announce their ownership of guns would be insane.

            However, this lack of advertising does not mean that others do not *know* they have guns. I point, again, to Sandy Hook.

            Legal firearm owners aren’t a worry to anyone, criminality wise.

            You do realize that’s a tautology, right? Of course ‘legal’ people are not committing crimes.

            And there are plenty of people that *appear* to be legal firearm owners that, in fact, break the law…that’s how straw buyers work.

            Actually, by definition, every *single* illegal gun out there started as a legal gun, owned by a legal gun owner.

            And that “paranoia” isn’t paranoia when there actually ARE people who want to send the cops into your house and take your property, ’cause you know, you are “gunfilth” for owning them.

            Uh, wrong. Paranoia does not, in fact, have to be incorrect.

            Paranoia is merely long-term thought processes that are based in fear, instead of rationality. Because ‘fear-thinking’ is method of thinking that screws with logic, people who are paranoid *often* ended up veering into delusion, but they don’t have to to be paranoid.

            Thinking people are coming to take their guns is not delusional (It’s probably not *true*, but everything that is not true is not ‘delusional’. It’s just a *mistake*.), but it’s the entire concept of gun hoarding is in response to that is completely irrational. It’s irrational thinking based in paranoia.

            Rationally, no one could hold off the US government, and, rationally, having more than half a dozen guns can’t help with that. Rationally, if the US government wants their guns, the US government *takes* their guns.

            People who thought the US government was going to come take their guns, and thought about it *rationally* would probably, uh, decide not to have guns so the government has no excuse to break in and take them. Sell them, maybe? They certainly wouldn’t buy *more* of them….that’s just throwing money away if the government takes them!

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            • “Thinking people are coming to take their guns is not delusional (It’s probably not *true*, but everything that is not true is not ‘delusional’. It’s just a *mistake*.),

              Yeah…well I’ll simply point to the post Sandy Hook gun laws changes, especially in NY.

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              • Yeah…well I’ll simply point to the post Sandy Hook gun laws changes, especially in NY.

                And all the guns that people were require to turn in, and when they failed to do so, the police raided their home?

                Huh. That appears to have not made the news at all.

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                • I fail to see what that has to do with anything. The law bans certain weapons. They weren’t turned it. Those weapons area still banned by law. Someone once “legal” is now illegal. That that illegality is compounded by a refusal to turn in said illegal weapon isn’t the point.

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            • DavidTC:

              If we agree that lawful gun owners aren’t the problem then why do the “resonable gun control” measures liberals speak of always fall on us lawful gun owners?

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              • If we agree that lawful gun owners aren’t the problem then why do the “resonable gun control” measures liberals speak of always fall on us lawful gun owners?

                I didn’t agree they weren’t the ‘problem’, I pointed out that lawful gun owners are, by definition, behaving lawfully WRT guns. That’s a tautology.

                However, I also pointed out that *every single* illegal gun out there is due to the actions of someone who purchased the gun legally. Either they were not as lawful as they appeared, *or* they were irresponsible and let their gun get stolen.

                Every. Single. Illegal. Gun. Is due to a legal gun owner. So ‘legal gun owners’ sure as hell are the ‘problem’. Without them, there literally would be no illegal guns.

                And despite your weird double-speak, *all* laws making something illegal impact people behaving otherwise ‘lawfully’. That is how laws work. That is the entire point. People doing it before are behaving legally, people doing it after aren’t.

                In fact, it’s *you* guys who keep saying that ‘criminals don’t follow laws’, and you’re right. That means the only *actual* people we can legislate about are *legal gun owners*. Duh. Which works fine, because, like I said, every illegal gun was at some point a legal gun.

                Of course, the laws *you’re* currently railing about are hypothetical laws you haven’t even bothered to say what they are, so *you* can easily claim you’re specifically talking about some *other* laws. So I’m preemptively rebutting that concept: You have not bothered to state what laws you are talking about, so I get to assume you’re talking about *any* gun law, like ones prohibiting straw purchases, and cracking down on the problem dealers that mysteriously ‘lose’ huge amounts of guns.

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                • Might want to explain that whole gun walking mess down at the border first. I seem to recall that the “system worked” but the guardians of that system directed sellers to allow the trades to go forward. That pretty much takes care of “Every. Single. Illegal. Gun. Is due to a legal gun owner.”

                  Not to mention that there’s a percentage that were never legally bought. Copies can be made and imported.

                  But so frickin what? Every single vehicle homicide was made with a original legal purchased vehicle.

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                  • Might want to explain that whole gun walking mess down at the border first.

                    Someone needs to explain that to *you*. That was guns smuggled *into* Mexico, not out of. No one smuggles guns *into* the US.

                    Now, it’s a fair point that the ‘legal gun owners’ that handed guns into criminal hands were *the US government*, which is rather insane. But that hardly disproves *my* point. The guns certainly started out legal.

                    The only guns smuggled into the US are guns are completely illegal in the US, like fully-automatic weapons…and those are much much too valuable and illegal to waste using in crimes.

                    Moreover, people smuggling guns into the US, that doesn’t disprove my point anyway. That just means the legal gun owners, whose actions resulted in people illegally owning their guns, live in another country!

                    Not to mention that there’s a percentage that were never legally bought. Copies can be made and imported.

                    No. Just because a gun is a ‘copy’ doesn’t mean it was made illegally, or that ownership of it is illegal. A company might be violating a patent, or copyright, or not, but that does not mean the weapon isn’t owned and sold lawfully.

                    Now, there are *completely* illegal machine shops out there churning out illegal AK knockoffs, where I guess a claim can be made the weapon was *never* legal. Such jerry-rigged weapons *do* exist.

                    But those are in third world nations, and those guns have nothing to do with the US at all. No one’s going to go to the trouble of *illegally importing* some dangerous POS like that, made with no quality control.

                    But, hey, prove me wrong. A weapon of *unknown* providence, without an identified manufacturer, used in a crime, would surely make the papers. (No, just because the paper calls something an ‘AK knockoff’ doesn’t mean it started out illegal.)

                    In fact, there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the whole 3D printers about exactly that…of course, none of those weapons have ever been used in any sort of crime, so don’t disprove anything.

                    Every single vehicle homicide was made with a original legal purchased vehicle.

                    Yes, and if people would stop *legally* buying cars, we’d have no vehicular homicides. (Because, like with guns, the amount of people illegally making their own cars and committing crimes with them is, uh, exactly zero.)

                    I’m a little baffled as to why you’re disputing that point?

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                    • Perhaps you misread….

                      You said “Every. Single. Illegal. Gun. Is due to a legal gun owner.” When clearly it’s not. The whole Fast and Furious scheme was to purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers.

                      Which refutes your comments 100%. Because the ATF allowed dealers to sell to clearly prohibited persons, not legally permitted persons. Ergo, there was some illegal guns in the US, before they were smuggled to mexico, that were not the result of a legal transaction.

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                • However, I also pointed out that *every single* illegal gun out there is due to the actions of someone who purchased the gun legally.

                  Even assuming this is true (every single is a stretch), you are implying that every single illegal firearm is the result of the careless securing of a firearm, either by the manufacturer, a dealer, or an owner. That’s an unsustainable position. An owner is obligated to take reasonable precautions to secure against theft, and reasonable offers a pretty wide degree of latitude because nothing that a normal citizen can afford is going to be theft proof. There is a hell of a lot of difference between the guy who leaves a loaded .45 on the coffee table & the guy who has a locked metal cabinet or a firesafe. The first guy is clearly doing it wrong, unless his house is a fortress. The other two are making a reasonable effort. There is also the fact that thieves can figure out ways to defeat physical security faster than people can upgrade said security.

                  So yes, a locked metal cabinet can be easily defeated by a moderately skilled & equipped thief with enough time, as can a decent firesafe. This fact does not obligate a firearm owner to install sufficient security to stymie all but the elite of thieves. If we are going to place such liability for stolen & misused common objects on legal owners, then we are going to open up a can of liability worms that will just add needless expense to everyday lives.

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                  • Even assuming this is true (every single is a stretch)

                    See my comment to . Basically every gun (Barring hypothetical circumstances that are extremely rare if not completely non-existent.) that is owned illegally in the US was manufactured legally, which at some point means a *legal* owner of it (Which even includes the manufacturer.) either:

                    1) became a criminal themselves (and hence are hardly the model gun owner) or
                    2) willing transferred it to a criminal (again, not the model gun owner) or
                    3) had it taken unwilling taken from them.
                    a) …because they did not secure it well (not the model gun owner yet again) or
                    b) …after they took every reasonable precaution but it was still taken.

                    The best case is 3b…but arguing ‘It is sometimes physically impossible for people to secure guns’ is actually a somewhat strange argument to make against gun control.

                    I mean, if it was sometimes physically impossible to operate nuclear reactors safely, is the logical conclusion we shouldn’t blame the people running them if those people took all the safety precautions and still had meltdowns?

                    Well, yes. But a *more* logical conclusion is, in fact, that we shouldn’t operate nuclear reactors.

                    you are implying that every single illegal firearm is the result of the careless securing of a firearm, either by the manufacturer, a dealer, or an owner. That’s an unsustainable position. An owner is obligated to take reasonable precautions to secure against theft, and reasonable offers a pretty wide degree of latitude because nothing that a normal citizen can afford is going to be theft proof.

                    You’re talking *blame*. I am talking about the whether legal gun owners are part of the problem, which Damon asserted they weren’t

                    They clearly *are* part of the problem, as without people legally purchasing guns, illegal guns would literally not exist. (Well, they would, but they’d be shitty derringers people constructed on 3D printers or in machine shops that hurt the user as often as someone else.)

                    Whether they should be *blamed* for this is something else entirely. Some of them are victims of crimes, and we often like to think we don’t blame victims…but that’s not true. We generally only dislike blaming victims if they were the only victims, if the harm *stopped at them*.

                    The harm does not stop at the person who had their gun stolen.

                    This fact does not obligate a firearm owner to install sufficient security to stymie all but the elite of thieves.

                    You appear to have completely confused ‘is’ and ‘should’. Firearm owners are not *currently* obligated to do that. That does not mean we couldn’t.

                    If we are going to place such liability for stolen & misused common objects on legal owners, then we are going to open up a can of liability worms that will just add needless expense to everyday lives.

                    Which is why most people think there’s a difference between ‘things actually needed’ and ‘things used for a hobby’, and are much more willing to put liability on things that are not actually needed.

                    There are a lot of things in my house that can kill people. The gasoline in my car’s gas tank, my car itself, various knifes and box cutters…all of which, if not actually ‘required’, are incredibly useful items, and hence we, as society, are willing to let me have them as long as I’m not *negligent* with them.

                    Meanwhile, my trapdoor that drops people into my basement with the rapid tiger I keep down there is a completely pointless *hobby* that doesn’t serve any useful purpose, and thus, no matter what sort of precautions I set up to keep people away, I’m liable if someone falls through it and, predictably, gets hurt.

                    The problem here is that a lot of people, me included, do not actually think most guns are, in any manner, useful items, and basically consider them the same as my rapid tiger in the basement. Even *if* I don’t have a trapdoor, *even if* I were to secure the basement with one of those fancy ‘locking’ doors to keep thieves out, even if it was a nice-metal core door with a deadbolt instead of flimsy thing I have now…

                    …if criminals break in and set the tiger loose on the public, I suspect I will *never hear the end of it*. I also suspect I might get sued. It’s crazy, I know.

                    I’m not quite as hardline as most, I can see *some* use for one or two guns, but that is where people are coming from. They see guns as incredibly dangerous things, but, unlike other dangerous things, there seems to be no actual real use for them.

                    And this divide is not helped by the fact that a lot of gun owners, being very paranoid, have incredibly irrational, and rather obviously wrong, ideas about the circumstances that all their guns *would* be useful for. And it’s *really* not help that the spokespeople for gun rights are parroting the same thing.

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                    • You appear to have completely confused ‘is’ and ‘should’. Firearm owners are not *currently* obligated to do that. That does not mean we couldn’t.

                      Oh no, I haven’t confused anything, I’m outright saying your proposed should is more than can be supported by reason. You may think it’s fine, but I’d wager that by and large, you’re in the minority. The key here is what people perceive as negligent compared to the danger. As I said, leaving a loaded firearm on the table is negligent, locking them up such that they can not be casually accessed is not. Most people do not perceive any more danger from a firearm than they do any other hand weapon. People familiar with weapons, even less so. Obviously that perception escalates should the weapon be in the hands of a person intent on using it, but the weapon alone, not so much.

                      So if I lock up my firearms in a reasonable manner, and they get stolen, my legal liability is necessarily limited, in exactly the same way that my liability for what is done with my car is limited if it is stolen.

                      I mean, if it was sometimes physically impossible to operate nuclear reactors safely, is the logical conclusion we shouldn’t blame the people running them if those people took all the safety precautions and still had meltdowns?

                      Well, yes. But a *more* logical conclusion is, in fact, that we shouldn’t operate nuclear reactors.

                      Sure, if there was no value to running a nuclear reactor, or the value was far eclipsed by the actual risk (instead of, as it is, the perceived risk, which is highly inflated thanks to hype & a largely ignorant population).

                      Now, because I absolutely love data & I am often inclined to adjust my opinions in the face of hard numbers, I offer this.

                      One bit of data it is missing is how were the stolen firearms secured? Or, alternatively, if the firearms were secured and the home was burgled, were the firearms left alone? This would do a good job of better informing this conversation with regard to the actual value of how a weapon is secured. I do find it interesting that the bulk of thefts occur in the US South, although not surprising; and the least number of thefts are in the Northeast. I’m not sure if this is a result of better storage practices, or fewer privately owned firearms, or both.

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                      • One bit of data it is missing is how were the stolen firearms secured?

                        Actually, a different pretty important bit of data is missing from all this: Included in ‘stolen guns’ total are guns that are not stolen, but actually sold illegally.

                        *This*, in fact, is the actual reason people want liability, and the reason why, in the discussion I’m having about liability up the page, I’m willing to *entirely* waive liability if the gun is reported stolen within a short amount of time. (I’m not sure what you mean by ‘my proposal’. I haven’t really proposed anything in this thread.)

                        I don’t care, at least not right now, about *actual* stolen guns. I care about ‘stolen’ guns, the sort of stolen guns are we somehow discover were mysteriously stolen months ago, but we only learned this when the police collected them off criminals and tracked down the owners and asked, and *gasp*, turns out they learned that gun is missing.

                        After that, at some point, we need to do something about the utter morons that apparently leave guns unsecured *in cars*, which is apparently a rather popular location for guns to get stolen from.

                        Once we collect all that idiotic low-hanging fruit, we can then learn whether or not ‘people stealing guns that are securely locked up’ is important or even if it happens at all.

                        Edit: actual link, sorry.

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                • DavidTC:

                  Examples: the assualt weapons ban, hi capacity magizine ban and one a month gun purchase limits are all laws that fall on and burden law abiding gun owners with no real effect on criminals. They just look and feel good. Liberals should demend the fed gov and states enforce the laws already on the books.

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                  • One month gun purchase limits are extremely useful for stopping straw purchasers (Who, we must point out, are already committing a crime), which is *the* major pipeline for illegal weapons.

                    They are also useful for shutting down people who are *operating* as gun dealers without the actual licenses and checks required of such people.

                    However, I will admit they seem a bit harsh and limiting. One a month seems particularly harsh…what if someone is at a gun show? (Something like 10 a year would actually seem better, even if technically less.)

                    And it would make much more logical sense to limit the number of guns you can *sell* in a month. (Which is actually how ‘max number of car’ laws work to make sure you’re not operating an unlicensed auto dealership.)

                    Sadly, changing to that would require a gun registry, so…nope. Not going to happen. (It’s actually somewhat amazing how all sorts of problems refusing to have a registry causes.)

                    The hi capacity ban, OTOH, is something that would not actually affect 99.999% of gun crime…but also not affect 100% of legal gun owners either. And the .001% gun crimes it *would* affect are the truly horrible mass shootings.

                    The ‘assault weapons’ ban is, as always, completely stupid.

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          • I mean there are too many things that one’s gun can do that doesn’t subject the owner to liability. If there’s no liability, the existence or non-existence of an insurance policy is irrelevant.

            And, most of the things for which there is liability are intentional acts which would almost certainly be excluded by an insurer.

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            • Well ultimately what is the point of insurance for a firearm owner? I see it as the following:

              1) Protect investment against theft.
              2) Protect persons against the financial impacts of unintentional acts.

              Are you suggesting that a policy should also pay out if the owner shoots someone and it isn’t found to be justified?

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              • I understand the desire to mandate insurance to be motivated by a desire to ensure then when guns make bad things happen that the people injured by those bad things get money (instead of a judgment-proof defendant).

                That isn’t served in this legal regime, but would be in the one I propose elsewhere in the thread.

                You’re looking at it from the perspective of why a gun owner would want insurance, which is a different question entirely (and doesn’t require a mandate, they either want it or they don’t)

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                • Perhaps I’m not understanding a term of art here, but liability insurance, to me, is meant to cover me in the event I have some liability for a bad thing happening. How far are you proposing to expand that liability?

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                  • liability insurance, to me, is meant to cover me in the event I have some liability for a bad thing happening

                    Yes, true. But society’s interest in you having such insurance is not because it cares about your financial well-being so much as it cares that someone you harm is going to get adequate compensation. That’s why car insurance is mandatory (you hit me with your car, there better damn well be money to pay my bills) but home insurance isn’t (your house falls down, I’m not harmed).

                    How far are you proposing to expand that liability?

                    This far.

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  14. If gun control doesn’t work, then why does Canada have so many fewer gun deaths than the US (2.2 per 100,000 people in Canada; 10.6 per 100,000 in the US)? Why does the US have a 7x higher rate of gun-related homicides?

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    • Canada also has an overall lower homicide rate (assuming equivalent reporting procedures) & an overall lower violent crime rate, which explains more than gun control does.

      Some of that is, I’m sure, related to lower population density, more comprehensive health care, including mental health care, and perhaps greater public trust in public authorities (this last bit I don’t know for certain, but my impression is that by & large, Canadian citizens are not as wary of law enforcement of Americans are).

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        • And the fact that we are an outlier on a much broader sample of first-world countries on both violent crime and number of guns is due to the same undisclosed-but-definitely-not-guns reason.

          I’ve always wondered why the America Fuck Yeah exceptionalism brigade doesn’t see any contradiction between that argument and our massive gun violence/incarceration problems. Are we exceptional or a nation of criminals?

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        • You are just incapable of actually reading one of my comments charitably, or at all, aren’t you.

          If a country has significantly lower overall violent crime rates & overall homicide rates, then gun control is likely but a small piece of the puzzle. If the rates were lower but comparable, and there was a significant decrease in shootings because of a regulatory scheme, then one could argue that gun control was having an impact.

          But removing access to a tool of violence, without addressing the root cause of violence, should not alone result in a significant decrease in overall violence.

          There is much more going on in Canada than just gun control.

          I’m actually saying that Canada is doing more right than just gun control and “MericaFuckYeah could learn a thing or two (like mental health care, or not declaring various wars upon the citizenry such that the population feels comfortable calling the police without fear that they’ll be arrested or shot by Johnny Law).

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          • I’ve taken a closer look at Canada and the US stats on violent crime, both gun-related and not gun-related. For easy comparison: the US has approximately 10X as many people as Canada.

            For example:

            – Homicides using non-firearm weapons (knives or blunt objects) in 2012: US 2,107; Canada 197. Multiply the Canadian figure by 10 and you find the rate is fairly similar.

            – Homicides without using weapons / using ‘personal weapons’ (hands, fists, feet, etc) in 2012: US 678, Canada 70. Again, fairly similar when you compare population sizes.

            – Homicides using firearms (2012): US 8,855; Canada 137. Over six times as many in the US once you account for population differences.

            Let’s try it for another category of crime, as homicide is a very low proportion of violent crimes. Here are the stats on the number of robberies (again, in 2012).

            Overall: US 300,104; Canada 19,700.

            – Robbery using knife or other weapon: US 49,593; Canada 6,374. Multiply Canada’s by 10 and you’ll find the rate is actually slightly higher than in the US.

            – Robbery using no weapon (‘strong-arm’): US 127, 537; Canada 10,394. Lower for Canada, but not nearly enough to explain the discrepancy.

            – Robbery using firearm: US 123, 834; Canada 2,368. Overwhelming difference; after accounting for population, over 5 times higher in the United States.

            So the stats on robbery also support the contention that gun violence is the overwhelming reason for the United States’ high rates of violent crime compared to Canada.

            Relevant tables:

            https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2008-2012.xls

            http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/11925/tbl/tbl01a-eng.htm

            https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/15tabledatadecpdf

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            • Or, in other words, when people don’t have access to guns, we see two things:

              1) About one out of ten people who wished to rob someone at gunpoint but can’t get a gun instead settle for robbing them at knifepoint. The rest, apparently, give up.

              2) *All* the people who were going to murder someone at gunpoint but can’t get a gun give up.

              This is, of course, not what actually happens, but not only does it it certainly puts a lie to the claim that people just switch weapons, it also clearly shows what Oscar claimed is a little silly.

              The connection between the fact that the US has some of the laxest gun control of all first world nations, *and* one of the highest violent crime rates, is one of those things that the expression ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’ seems tailored made for.

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              • So , what you are saying is that if Canada suddenly relaxed all their gun laws to US levels and all other things stayed the same, their violent crime rates would spike and be more on par with ours? Who is being silly?

                Really?

                Good assembly, but I just can’t grant that access to firearms is alone responsible for a rise or fall in crime rates.

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                • True or false: possessing a gun makes it easier to commit a crime.

                  True or false: even if access to firearms is not alone responsible, those stats are suggestive of a strong relationship between access to guns and use of guns in crime.

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                  • Relationship, yes. It is the strength of that relationship all alone I question. If all the guns in the US vanished tomorrow, I think we’d see some drops in violent crime, especially at the start, before smugglers managed to get more firearms into the US from elsewhere. Then I think it would stabilize to a value a bit lower than what we currently have, but not much. There are larger social issues at work than just the ease by which violence can be committed with a gun, and if those are not addressed, little will change because the underlying motivations stay fixed.

                    I mean, look at the past few years. Major recession, significant unemployment, significant loosening of gun laws and record sales and violent crime is STILL trending down.

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                    • So, notme, you would agree with universal gun registration in the US? And also mandatory liability insurance for all gun owners to ensure they can pay damages if someone is injured by the use of their gun?

                      Because we have universal car registration. It’s called a license plate and drivers’ license. And we have mandatory car insurance in case someone’s at fault in a crash.

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                • The causal line between guns and violence isn’t necessarily that access provokes use.

                  But possession of guns is a pretty good marker of fear and fear is a good indicator of violence.

                  Which is why I refuse to accept the opening premise in many gun control arguments that we do now and always will live in a world of violence and danger, and possessing a gun is a reasonable act.

                  If the demographic of gun owners was overwhelmingly hunters who stored their weapons in closets, we probably wouldn’t be having this post.

                  But increasingly, the gun owner isn’t a hunter, and the weapons he buys aren’t for hunting animals, they are for killing humans.

                  The perversity of open carry is to define deviancy down, to make us inured to the guns, but fearful of each other.

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                  • is not entirely far off. (PS that is very well said, LWA, even if I’m not entirely on board with it, I do think you are getting at something significant there).

                    Anyway, I’d be very interested if anyone has ever done a study with regard to how the US News Media portrays/reports on things as compared to Canada, or other western democracies. How hyperbolic is it? How often are tragic or criminal local events reported nationwide? Etc. Similarly, how often do politicians invoke the language of fear when speaking to the public/media? The language of fear has become a social poison to us.

                    In addition, how we, as a society, treat mental health plays a role. How we treat addiction, how we treat crime & punishment, how we treat poverty. These, cultural values, and other things, all factor into an model that describes societal behaviors.

                    This model, it’s a big equation, lots of variables, and its structure changes from nation to nation, and in a place like the US, it’ll change from state to state, and from urban to rural. It’s also an equation that we don’t actually know. We know things like access to firearms is a variable in the equation, but how much weight it has on the outcome of the left hand side of the equation is more difficult to determine, since other values are constantly in flux as well.

                    This is why I’m resistant to the claims that restricting access will significantly reduce violence, because that is making a significant claim about the ability of a single variable to affect the behavior of a model when the model is very poorly understood. Especially when I have data that suggests the variable in question is more independant of the answer than previously thought.

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                • Oscar –

                  I think that if societal factors generally (health care, paranoia, levels of economic inequality, etc.) were the main causes of greater violence in the US compared to Canada, we would see statistics showing that crime with each different type of weapon was lower in Canada than in the US, by roughly similar margins. Canada would have lower rates of knife crime, lower rates of non-weapon violent crime. That would indicate that Canadians are, for whatever reasons, less violent than Americans, regardless of the weapons they have access too.

                  Instead, we see that non-gun violent crime in Canada is at similar levels to in the US, and violent crime involving guns is far lower. It’s hard to see how that can lead to the conclusion that gun control isn’t the main reason for this disparity. If we’ve got two models – H1: levels of gun crime are explained by social factors and H2: levels of gun crime are explained by firearms restrictions – the data seem to support my model over your model.

                  I don’t claim that we’d see a sudden spike in violent crime if Canada removed our restrictions on firearms, but I think we’d see a quite steep, steady increase until our levels were much closer to the United States’ than they are now.

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                  • Maybe I’m having a bad reading comprehension day, but I thought you were arguing that Canada has a lower overall violent crime rate because of tighter gun control. So what you are suggesting is that gun crime is somehow worse than non-gun crime? That seems a distinction without much of a difference.

                    Or are you saying that Canada has a lower crime rate & the bulk of that difference is due to lower gun crime?

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                    • I’m saying the latter (Canada has a lower violent crime rate, and that difference is overwhelmingly due to lower gun crime; rates of other kinds of violent crime are similar between Canada and the US); sorry that was unclear.

                      I was trying to say that if YOUR analysis of the reasons for Canada’s lower crime rates was correct, we would expect that Canada would have lower rates of gun crime across all categories of weapons, rather than gun crime being the outlier.

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                      • OK, fair point. I’m still not convinced, but it adds significant weight to your argument.

                        I can’t recall where I was reading this, but the following ties into what & have been talking about with regard to liability (& perhaps this is also a contributing factor to Canada’s difference, I don’t know).

                        From a survey of people convicted of gun crimes in the US:

                        ~1-2% bought the firearm from an unlicensed seller (i.e. someone who can not do the NICS check but was not known to be a black market dealer).

                        ~45% got the firearm from a legal source (was able to legally purchase the firearm, or was given the firearm by family or a friend)

                        ~45% (the remainder) got the firearm on the black market, or acquired it through theft.

                        I suspect the percentage of people who legally purchased a firearm & then committed a crime to be maybe around 10%-20%, then about 70% of firearms were acquired through means that could be addressed through enforcing attached liability.

                        I do know that in the US, legally you are not allowed to pass a firearm to a prohibited person, and it is a strict liability issue, so not knowing they were prohibited is not a defense unless you did a background check & it came back clean (it does happen, more often than the feds like to admit); however, this is rarely enforced as a criminal matter. I could see insurance companies being less inclined to let a person walk away from that if they have to make a payout.

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                        • ~45% got the firearm from a legal source (was able to legally purchase the firearm, or was given the firearm by family or a friend)

                          I suspect the percentage of people who legally purchased a firearm & then committed a crime to be maybe around 10%-20%

                          Now I’m confused. You just quoted a stat saying it was 45% of people committing gun crimes who got their gun from a legal source. So why are you ‘estimating’ it at 10-20%?

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                          • (On mobile devices for weekend, so this will be brief)

                            10-20% legally bought a gun (either they could pass a check or they were a false negative in the system), the rest acquired a gun from a friend or family member who could legally own a gun, who then sold/loaned/gifted the gun to them.

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                            • But unless there’s evidence that many of the people in the 45% recieved guns as gifts, and that many of those who did were prohibited from owning a gun….we’ve got nearly half of the people who committed gun crimes getting their guns legitimately. The high probability is that most of those people aren’t prohibited from owning guns.

                              So preventing prohibited people from buying guns doesn’t seem to deal with the problem. Half of the problem is people who would be described as “law-abiding gun owners” (as opposed to “career criminals”) going out and committing crimes with them.

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                        • Given your numbers, I double-down on my endorsement of some sort of strict liability system. Maybe not as punitive as I initially proposed (wherein if you give your brother your gun and he murders a guy, you are charged with murder) but definitely something that holds that person responsible in some manner AND, in most if not all cases, prohibits that person from further gun ownership.

                          Let the responsible people keep their guns. Hold the irresponsible people accountable.

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                    • That seems a distinction without much of a difference.

                      How could this possibly be true? If you’re being robbed, would you rather the assailant had a gun or a knife? If a crazy person walks into a school, would you rather he have a gun or a knife?

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          • Also, while I don’t particularly trust our police (the Dziekanski case had a strong impact on me, as have cases where the police have killed people and lied about it and have been proven to be lying), Canada does have a lower rate of police homicides than the US. It’s possible that the causality is at least partly the opposite direction from what you’ve described: police are less likely to shoot people if they aren’t continually fearing that the person they’re confronting has a gun.

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  15. By the way, I was looking today & I noticed this is now available.

    For those who don’t follow the link, it is a round that, when fired, immediately separates into a center core connected to three fragments by high tensile line. The round is available in lethal, semi-lethal, and less-lethal (adjust the powder charge and the materials used and the round goes from deadly to painful). It’s a bit early to tell, because new ammo always has a lot of hype, but I could see the less lethal round being what amounts to a tangle or snare round.

    Anyway, if the design is good, and any ‘bugs’ worked out, such that a round like this is proven to be a very effective self-defense round, I could see something like this being setup as the default round for personal firearms. Especially if they can be made cheap enough to practice with. Like, effective enough to become the only kind of round permitted in a carried weapon.

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    • Interesting. I’ve heard about advanced military rounds like that. I’d guess most people interested in self-defense would go for the lethal version though. The argument, which is mostly correct, is that large engaged or drugged up attackers wouldn’t be stopped by a non-lethal round.

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      • The primary shortcoming of non-lethal rounds is, as you say, that the target will simply shrug it off because they are somehow blocking out pain signals. The design of rounds, including lethal rounds, to date, has been to maximize damage so as to force a physiological response that the target can not ignore, e.g. if I blow your heart or knee to pulp, I don’t care how high or angry you are, you will drop.

        A tangle round, if effective, would alter the situation because if I can tangle a target up, I can still get the effect I’m looking for (halting the attack) without having to cause massive injury or death. Even an incredibly strong person would have a hard time employing enough leverage to break ballistic line if their arms or legs are pinned.

        Thing is, most people who do or would carry a gun have no interest in seriously wounding or killing anyone, they just want to be able to survive whatever encounter they are concerned about.

        I suspect that for the round to be truly effective, the lines will have to be a bit longer, and ideally employ some kind of barb along their length so they can catch on clothing or skin & stay attached during a struggle to get free.

        I’m intrigued enough that I think I’m going to order some 12 gauge rounds & play with them.

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        • “I’m intrigued enough that I think I’m going to order some 12 gauge rounds & play with them.”

          I call not being ‘s “play” partner. :-p

          Do you know if there is any research into some sort of “smart” bullet that does minimal physical damage but once lodged in the skin can develop some sort of electrical jolt or other such stopping or paralyzing force? Not a tranquilizer… something more immediate. Or is that just a longer range stun gun with all of its faults and foibles plus the technology to make it work remotely?

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        • Can you explain the difference between those two things? Is the latter a “clip”, i.e., the cop would have to eject and load in a separate magazine of bullets? That seems preferable to having the second round being fully “live” given that cops never seem to shoot just once.

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            • “And it’s a magazine, never a clip”

              @oscar-gordon
              Nowadays yes. But there were, and may still be, weapons like the m1 garand, that used “stripper clips” that you fed into a non removable magazine.

              “A stripper clip is used only for loading the magazine and is not necessary for the firearm to function. It is called a ‘stripper’ clip because, after the bolt is opened and the stripper clip is placed in position (generally by placing it in a slot on either the receiver or bolt), the user presses on the cartridges from above, sliding them down and off the clip, thereby ‘stripping’ them off the stripper clip and into the magazine.[2] After the magazine is loaded, the stripper clip is removed and set aside for reloading”

              Sorry to get pedantic but “clip” used when “magazine” is meant is a pet peeve of mine. :)

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