Let’s Not Talk About Gun Control

It’s uniquely terrifying to consider the absurd extent to which many gun people are willing to suspend reason just so they can remain armed and dangerous. It’s like they are all in abusive relationships and every time there’s another shooting, they show up at work the next day with a black eye and a split lip. And they say, “You don’t understand. My guns LOVE me. They’d never do anything to hurt anyone. It’s the rest of the world that’s wrong.”

I am a gun owner.

I inherited five antique rifles from my father, a WWII vet and lifelong liberal, including an M1 Garand that’s pretty danged impressive. I keep them safely locked away and don’t have any ammo. I’ve done some shooting at the range and am a pretty good shot. I don’t believe for a moment that having these weapons in my home makes my family safer, nor do I believe I will ever use them to protect me or my family. In fact, my biggest worry is that someone will try to steal them, as a couple of them are rather valuable, or that they will be stolen and used to harm someone. I have tried twice to register these rifles officially. But, because I live in Virginia, I’ve been told it’s unnecessary. One of those handy loopholes. I’ve been able to buy ammo and go to shooting ranges without ever showing an ID. But I can’t buy Sudafed without one.

In the 90s, my wife was a reporter for WDBJ-7, a fine news organization that is now most famous because two young journalists were gunned down on live television while they were simply doing their job. The assailant had a long history of work turmoil and mental illness. A few months ago he was able to walk into gun stores and buy two handguns legally. Before the shooting the only scrape he ever had with the law was some traffic tickets. He was a law-abiding citizen.

Until he wasn’t.

I live 45 minutes from Virginia Tech and know several people who were directly affected or involved in the massacre there. My fifth grade history teacher was accidentally shot and killed on a hunting trip when I was still his student. I have several friends in law enforcement and the military, several friends I consider to be reasonable gun owners, and several friends I would classify as gun obsessed. I’ve had many, many conversations with many people of every stripe about the issue of guns and gun control.

Pretending that this is an issue of race or privilege or the fault of the media or [most insanely] an indicator that more people need to be armed is flat-out crazy. The reality in just about every single mass shooting in the last couple of decades is that a person with one or more diagnosed mental disabilities was able to legally purchase an arsenal of weapons, spend days or weeks or even months planning an attack, and then strike seemingly “without warning.” Except that typically there has been plenty of warning.

There are lots of carefully crafted, even clever arguments against gun control. They typically start with the Founding Fathers and statistics about other factors involved in gun deaths. Factors like mental illness, drugs, the media, race, man’s inherently violent nature — and that I’m just some kind of “fucking idiot.”

What I propose to do here is take down every one of these arguments, one by precious one. There are plenty of places online with prolific data showing the value of effective gun control. But data and facts and the lessons of history only work when people are willing to listen. We are, after all, talking about a large group of people who put more faith in information provided by organizations created to help industries like energy, firearms, insurance, or tobacco capture more profits than they do in more objective areas like scientific consensus, public education, and well-regarded news sources.

So, I’ll briefly present some familiar, often frustrating arguments against gun control measures, and provide what I believe are reasonably sound rhetorical arguments to dismantle them.

But, what should we do?

So, here’s what I think in a nutshell:

  1. I think it should be much harder to own a firearm, whether a purchase, gift or inheritance.
  2. There should be a permanent national registry of every firearm in the country. Just like there is for cars.
  3. There should be far deeper background checks before anyone purchases a firearm, and these background checks should be kept on file. Anyone wanting to purchase a firearm should forfeit any privacy regarding diagnosis and treatment of any mental illness, history of domestic or workplace violence, etc.
  4. There should be stricter limits on the type and capacity of firearms an individual can possess.
  5. There should be stricter limitations on open and concealed carrying of firearms.
  6. Everyone who owns a firearm should be licensed to do so, just like car ownership is. That license should require training and a qualifying exam.
  7. Basically, potential gun owners should have to prove they are not dangerous to themselves or others before they are allowed to purchase a gun. Not the other way around.
  8. There should be a single, robust federal agency dedicated to guns, gun sales, and gun safety. They shouldn’t have to spend their time worrying about tobacco or alcohol.

But, aren’t you saying you want to take all our guns away?

Notice that nowhere have I mentioned taking everyone’s guns away.

But, the Second Amendment and Freedom!!!

For some reason, strident gun advocates appear to be terrified of these simple measures I’ve outlined. They start talking about a police state and “the founder’s intent” and panting a lot. Basically, when the Second Amendment gets talked about, it feels like the only part I hear is “well regulated” while the only part they hear is “shall not be infringed.” If there was ever a good use for a time machine, it would be to go back to when they were scrawling this incomprehensible passage and ask, “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” We’d also have to explain about “Different Strokes” and television and the end of slavery and stuff, so we might want to pack a few sandwiches. Also, we should mention that, in the not too distant future, you can own a gun that will kill 20 school children in a minute or so.

If you believe that the Second Amendment is the only thing preventing tyranny in the US, then you don’t believe in the rest of the Constitution. It’s that simple.

But, tradition!!

Maybe we Americans need to get a better grip on what exactly our “traditions” are. We have a tradition of marginalizing non-white people. We have a tradition of ignoring facts. We have a tradition of trying desperately not to offend the most offensive people in our culture. We have a tradition of celebrating white losers and demonizing black leaders. We have a tradition of making excuses for hatred.

We are a nation that “prays for the victims” over and over and over and over again, and then conveniently ignores everything that made them victims in the first place. We fight guns with more guns. Drugs with more drugs. Racism with more racism. We fight poor schools by taking money away from them. We fight poverty by screwing the impoverished. We fight inequality by reminding people that equality isn’t for most people.

We’ve become a preemptive, shoot-first, because-me-and-my-bible-said-so, asshole nation. America was a really good idea. But it has too many traditions for it to ever catch on.

But, mental illness!

This brings us to the mental illness can of worms, obviously an entirely new subject. But I think a start would be to ask potential gun buyers these questions: 1. Do you believe you will use this weapon to defend yourself against your own government? 2. Do you believe carrying this gun will make you safer or freer? 3. Do you believe you will use this gun to heroically protect your family from a deranged killer? 4. Do you believe you have actually heard Barack Obama say out loud that he wants to take your guns away?

I believe answering “yes” to any one of these questions makes one a candidate for mental illness. And this doesn’t even get into the whole “are you a loner with murder fantasies?” or “are you currently ingesting any illegal substances other than pot?” side of things. Or “do you have periods of rage?” Or “do you belong to a gang?” Or “are you afraid of people wearing hoodies?” Or “are you constantly being spoken to by a tall, dark-cloaked, hooded figure that no one else can see?”

Then there’s the argument offered up by some gun advocates that “man is by nature passionate and violent. If he doesn’t kill with a gun, he’ll just find some other way to do it.” Following this up with “so, everyone’s right to own an AR-15 ‘shall not be infringed'” sounds batshit looneyballs to me. “Killers gonna kill. So, let’s make it as easy as possible.” But that’s what they say.

Here’s the problem with the “it’s not the guns, it’s the mental illness” argument. You’re essentially saying that “People use guns to kill because they are mentally unstable.” But isn’t it also possible that some people who are mentally unstable are actually drawn towards guns — out of fear, revenge fantasies, or fetishism? And then, by refusing to consider stronger background checks, etc., you’re basically saying, “If you prevent the mentally unstable from getting guns, then I might not be able to get guns either!” That’s when you really need to ask yourself some hard questions. Or better yet, ask a therapist. You’re essentially taking the side that wants the mentally unstable — the very people who you’ve identified as the real danger — to be able to arm themselves, just to ensure that you can arm yourself as well.

But, law-abiding citizens!

I recognize that, in general, violent crimes have dropped dramatically over the last two decades, including gun crimes. I don’t think for a second this has anything to do with relaxed gun laws. The per capita gun crime rate in the US still far exceeds those in every other first world nation.

I am sick to death of the phrase “law-abiding gun owner.” The NRA and its disciples insist that stricter regulations like universal background checks and a national gun registry would infringe on the rights of “law-abiding citizens.” When I point out that Cho, Loughner, Lanza and Holmes owned their weapons legally, the advocates quickly explain that, because they used their weapons in the commission of a crime, they were no longer law-abiding citizens and therefore, could not own their guns legally. Seriously, I’ve had this conversation at least twenty times. What this twisted and dangerous “logic” does is conveniently nullify the issue of legal ownership and thereby remove the Second Amendment from its own defensive argument.

But, only outlaws will have guns!

We’ve heard it a million times. Gun control measures are absolutely pointless because criminals have absolutely no respect for laws. This is true. Criminals have absolutely no respect for laws. That’s what makes them criminals. And yet, for some unknown reason, we have laws anyway.

It’s true that a considerably larger number of homicides are committed by guns owned by people with criminal backgrounds and that they are likely to possess one or more firearms illegally. But, a significant number of gun deaths are perpetrated by people who are, up to the point of pulling the trigger, law-abiding citizens.

Making guns more difficult to purchase legally makes it more difficult to purchase a gun illegally. Demand drives up black market prices astronomically. Tighter scrutiny of gun sales in general makes it more difficult for legal weapons to enter illegal markets.

None of this would wipe out gun violence entirely. But, by simply making it more difficult for a person with a violent history, a criminal history or a history of mental illness is a start in the right direction. What’s wrong with that? And ultimately, if “only outlaws have guns,” wouldn’t that make outlaws easier to identify?

But, guns don’t kill people!

Gun fans like to portray a loaded weapon as an inanimate object that poses no threat in a restaurant or mall or church. It’s the “guns don’t kill people” argument. They accuse proponents of greater restriction of labeling these pieces of metal and plastic as “criminals.” The reality is that a loaded gun is dangerous and, by its presence in a restaurant, raises the risk of someone being harmed. If it didn’t, no one would carry a gun in the first place. The whole point of carrying a gun in this way is “personal protection” by way of making yourself more potentially dangerous to someone else. That, by necessity, makes you more potentially dangerous to everyone else within range. It’s a simple fact.

But, guns save lives!

Yeah? Then why can’t they also kill people? I thought they were supposed to be inanimate objects.

But, car wrecks!

More people die in car accidents every year. So, shouldn’t they be outlawed too? Cars that are designed expressly for killing should definitely be outlawed. No question. Meanwhile, think about this: Cars don’t carry people great distances with little effort. People do! See? It’s not the same thing. So, let’s not muddy our discussion with false equivalencies.

But, Hitler!

The “Hitler took everyone’s guns away” thing is a bit of a misrepresentation — thanks to the NRA. For instance, the 1938 law signed by Hitler that Wayne LaPierre mentions in his 1994 book “Guns, Crime, and Freedom” basically does the opposite of what he says it did. The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition. Meanwhile, many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years. But even more important, the remilitarization of Germany actually put quite a lot of firearms in the hands of millions of men and boys. Yet, rather than rising up against their government, they marched into Austria, Sudetenland, France, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Hungary, Russia, North Africa, Greece, Yugoslavia, and more. Why? Because they were so easily misled by a propagandist organization that knew the value of inventing and exploiting “demons.” Whipping up fear leads to simple-minded obedience. Even, say, the fear of having your guns taken away.

But, a good guy with a gun!

Mr. LaPierre [a Roanoke native] famously stated that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He said this after the Newtown massacre. And he appears to believe it. Since then we’ve seen dozens of active shooters disarmed by unarmed people. Yet, in his world the WDBJ journalists should have been armed so that, despite the fact that they did not see their assailant until he was shooting them, they could comprehend the situation well enough to unholster their firearms and kill the shooter. Or perhaps they should have had an armed guard. Ultimately this fantasy would require an armed guard wherever one or more American citizens are at any given time. On the plus side [for the NRA], this would mean the sale of a whole lot more guns.

But, Chicago!!

And here’s the problem with screaming “Chicago!” and the whole topic of legal guns versus illegal ones. “Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country. And the most gun deaths.” In gang killings and such, we’re typically talking about a seriously illegal weapon or weapons. Where do they come from? Are they built in illegal, underground gun factories? No. They are manufactured legally by a legal manufacturer and sold to distributors, most of whom sell them legally but some of whom then sell them illegally. It’s pretty darned easy. Why? Because the NRA makes sure it is, that’s why. So when we wonder why there’s so many gun deaths in Chicago, with all its strict gun laws, it’s important to remember that the guns are still getting there, in part, because of lax laws and lax enforcement policies driven by the gun lobby. Keep in mind, there are a lot of places on earth with stricter gun laws than Chicago that have far, far fewer gun deaths. Those places typically aren’t surrounded by other places where you can buy several guns at a civic center.

Think of it this way: You have a stern “No Dog Shit In My Yard” policy. And your neighbors on both sides of your yard have a lax “My 20 Dogs Are Free To Roam And Shit Wherever They Want To” policy. How long do you think it’s going to take before you step in some shit? And when you DO step in that shit, will it be because you don’t allow dog shit in your yard or because your neighbors do in theirs?

But, blacks killing blacks!

The majority of African-American and Hispanic gun violence is gang-related. And gangs are essentially militias in that they are groups of like-minded individuals who have armed themselves so that they can protect themselves from rival militias and law enforcement — or rather, the government. Shouldn’t they be more well regulated?

What possible difference does it make what color a shooter or victim is? There are actually people who insist that if you removed all the black shootings from American gun death statistics, we’d be no worse than any other nation. But, they’re talking about black people who are American citizens — human beings — and are dying. If you don’t see them that way there’s really no point in talking with you about anything.

But, the safety of my family!

Finally we come to the gun lobby’s crowning achievement — fear for personal safety. Gun advocates are terrified of rare, random events like home invasions, armed robbery, and the need to stand their ground against an armed assailant. They insist that in the twenty or so minutes it takes for the police to arrive [it’s always more than twenty minutes, according to them] they could unlock a hidden box, take out their weapon and blow the intruder away.

Let’s ignore the argument that a gun in the house is more likely to harm a resident — through accidental shooting, suicide, or domestic violence — because gun advocates are heavily armed with contradictory statistics of dubious origin, like “2.5 million defensive uses per year!” and won’t let them go. They are convinced that easier access to more deadly weapons will allow them to defend themselves against someone who should not possess these weapons but does. Look at their circular logic. A. Someone very dangerous has access to firearms. B. I should be allowed to protect myself against that person. C. Therefore guns should be made easily available to everyone.

This fever deludes them into thinking the founding fathers believed this absurd scenario. To this argument I simply point out that Adam Lanza’s mother was arguably the most heavily armed woman in Newtown. And she was the first to die.

© 2015 Chris Henson


214 thoughts on “Let’s Not Talk About Gun Control

    1. Thank you! It’s a very complicated issue, to be sure. Probably because it’s so emotional for some people, especially following a tragedy. This piece is a sort of collection of comments and heated conversations I’ve had since Sandy Hook. I’m not typically the sort of person who can think on his feet in an argument. Instead, I have a tendency to wake up the next morning and think, “What I should have said was … ” So, I gathered up all those “should have said” thoughts and this is the result. Thank you again for reading it and taking the time to share your thoughts. They are most appreciated!


      1. Just a quick point, items 2 and 6 in your list are inaccurate. There is no national registry of automobiles – and there is no requirement for any training to own a vehicle. There isn’t even a requirement in most states to register a vehicle just as a part of ownership. As to point 6, I believe all states do require registration of a vehicle to operate it on on the public roads, so if your point is that training should be required for gun owners to carry, then your point is well taken and is applicable. But, in most states if you have a vehicle for use on private property only (i.e. a farm vehicle) then it doesn’t have to be registered with the state, and doesn’t require a driver’s license to operate. Item 7 is similar to the argument that one should have to prove they can read and write and have a grasp of current events before being allowed to vote, which I am sure we are all totally against.

        Your points are well taken, but may be so single focused as to ignore some of the facts and some of the “unintended consequences” of the actions listed. For example, is it possible to apply the same rules to other things, such as voting? Then, who decides if a person is competent or not. Leave us not forget the 10th amendment, which would lead to decades of federal court decisions if actions such as you have listed were to attempt to be implemented.

        Agree or disagree with your position, these are realities that must also be addressed.


      2. Such a chilling last sentence; “Adam Lanza’s mother was arguably the most heavily armed woman in Newtown. And she was the first to die.” Seriously, I got chills, and teared up at the same time. Excellently written.


      3. Credit where credit is due, that last line was first written by a friend of mine who is herself an actual brilliant writer and thinker. I contacted her to let her know I had stolen it and she didn’t remember ever having said it. Such is her genius, these insightful notions come to her all the time and leave just as quickly. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the essay. I’m glad it seems to be making a connection.


      4. Your response on OCTOBER 5, 2015 AT 8:50 PM is classic. First you claim to not to have called anyone an idiot. You’re right you did not single anyone out, instead you labeled large groups of people’s beliefs, who disagree with you, as idiotic and in need of psychiatric help. In my reply I did the same except I was honest enough to say they were directed at you. In essence you are saying; Your beliefs are idiotic and because you hold those beliefs you need psychiatric help but I am not calling you a crazy idiot. Weak.

        Next you take issue with my using the term “bitch slapped”. You do understand that we are talking about posts on the web and that I was not advocating that R. Paul be physically slapped. With that said I will standby what I wrote. He made an ignorant post and deserved to be verbally slapped around.

        PLEASE try to respond to these 2 points.

        When I cited the DOJ stat on self defense of 450000 to 500000 times a year you only seemed interested in it because you seem to think that it proves your point about the 2.5mil that some claim. To that I would remind you that the DOJ states that the actual number is higher and that 450000 to 500000 only represents the number of reported incidents and that the standard for what is considered “use of a firearm for self defense” can vary from one jurisdiction to another. I take exception to the way you describe 2.5mil as ” the standard gun advocate line”. When I have heard that number cited it is always qualified as an estimate. Now the 1st point I would like you to address:
        Based only on the DOJ numbers the rate per 100000 population of privately owned guns used for self defense is 156 (x/100000 = 500000/320mil). Contrast that to rate of homicides by gun of 4 per 100000 (x/100000 = 13000/320mil). Kind of blows away your whole your crazy if you think owning a gun a gun makes you safer claim. Before you try to spin those numbers let me point out that the term homicide includes suicides which account for around 60%, justifiable homicide (self defense or defense of others including deaths at the hands of the police). The remaining homicides would constitute murders. Of the number of gun related murders a large portion is gang/criminal ongang/criminal. The actual number of gun related innocent deaths is considerably less than the 13000 whole number of gun related homicides. Also as I stated above 450000 to 500000 is low based on how the DOJ reports it.

        The 2nd point I would like you to address is why at this point in our nations history are we seeing a wave of mass shootings? It is harder now than it ever has been to legally purchase a gun. We have over 24000 local, state, and federal gun laws. Violent crime is down yet these mass shootings are rising. If all we need is gun control why did we not see these mass shootings in the 50s when you could buy a gun over the counter at a hardware store with no waiting period or background check?


      5. Exactly so, Bob. There is an enormous difference between calling someone an idiot (which can’t be changed) and calling someone’s beliefs idiotic (which can be changed). In fact, the only person I refer to as an idiot in the piece is me. Meanwhile, the only reason I ever mentioned mental health is because (as we’re seeing even today) the gun lobby uses the mental health argument to shut down any discussion of gun control. Hence, the title of this essay.

        As for the DOJ claims. Alas, still no links. You brought up the numbers, Bob. It’s your job to back them up.

        As for why crime is down, read “Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker. You’ll quickly learn that the decline in violence has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. After all, the declining trend — wait for it — is global.

        You are no idiot, Bob. But I believe that your belief in more guns equaling less crime is utterly, irretrievably idiotic.

        See what I did there?


    2. I love all the discussion of deep thinkers and different views and perspectives, But what I can’t get a mental grasp on is how do we think we can find every single gun out there and how long would that take to pursue? I get it, start somewhere. But what would they do to some innocent individual that failed to register his gun due to lack of interest, better things to think about. How much prison time or money would you expect that person to owe just because he ignored that old shot gun in the trunk of that old station wagon that is registered as inoperative.
      Ok, imagine All the guns in one big pile, now do you expect crazy people from killing.
      I think we would be better expending all that energy and time looking at the root of the problems, Mental Health. I wish someone had that solution. Those with mental problems should have a safe place they could go and be supported that could help them before they become paranoid to the point of killing someone else. ???


      1. Honestly, you really think it is simpler to solve mental illness. Give me a break. It doesn’t look like you gave Chris’s arguments any sort of serious consideration. Rather than worry about the victims and their families you’d rather worry about the folks you cite above. Honestly, I really feel like you need to grow up. Judges generally have latitude in sentencing depending upon the circumstances. When we were fined $800 for having two dogs loose, we didn’t complain about the law, but we did ask the judge to lower our fine since we had tied up our dogs and our dogs had not endangered anyone: $150 was a lot easier to bear.


      2. He had better things to think about? We have to register our cars or we get a ticket. Surely registering a gun is as important. His lack of interest? Fine the bastard!! And you seriously think solving the mental health issue is easier than passing a law to register guns? It goes so much deeper than that. Again, the problem is that the mentally ill have such easy access to guns, don’t you see?


      3. Access to mental health services is very important and unfortunately blocked by the GOP Congress, as are all attempts at reasonable and common sense reforms. The far right is the first to say “we need more mental health” and the last to step up with a plan to pay for it. It is a lame excuse.


    3. Good article, Chris. but a little wordy for my short attention span. Most of your points are valid, but I believe you stretch and oversimplify some a bit too much. I do believe you really don’t care for guns’ or see any valid reason for private ownership. So here’s the deal, I live I ‘noke, and I assume you do as well. I’ve owned guns since 1957, and not just ‘guns’. I don’t hunt, target shoot, or collect antique firearms. For 60 years I collected 20th century military weapons, with my first being a German light machinegun I traded from a WWII veteran for two fifths of wine, while living on Patterson Ave in S.W. I was about 9 years old at the time. I’ve never belonged to any firearms related organization, and frankly wouldn’t pour water on the NRA if I saw them on fire. Some of my weapons over the last 50 years have been displayed at the National Firearms Museum, and once at the Smithsonian. Point being here, everything I’ve ever owned was designed to do one thing, kill human beings. In the time I owned them, they didn’t, and haven’t until now. Pre-purchase laws, such as enhanced background checks can work, and have, I’ve seen ’em work in my business. After the fact laws are, with a few exceptions, worthless. Bans will not work {AR15s, AKs, Glocks with 30 rnd magazines, whatever} unless there’s a provision for confiscation ready to be enforced. And you better believe the American public wouldn’t stand for that. Maybe in some countries, not this one. Ya got two choices as I see it. Control guns, or control people. Try to ban and prohibit sales of guns {deemed by whoever as bad for our health. AR15s again} or start knocking down doors and dragging off to ‘evaluation centers’ anyone who ever had any kind of a mental health issue, a fight with the next door neighbor, a loud argument with the wife where the neighbor called the cops, words with the boss at work, anything. Two choices, my friend, get guns out of the society {300 million estimated guns in public hands as of 2012, so good luck} or lock up anyone who even has a whiff of a potential firearms related problem. In some quarters this has been referred to as ‘pre-crime’. And the resident conspiracy theorists swear this is where the country is heading. But that’s an entirely different subject.


    4. Cars don’t kill people, drivers do. BUT WE STILL REGISTER THEM, INSURE THEM, EDUCATE DRIVERS, AND LICENSE DRIVERS BECAUSE THEY ARE DANGEROUS. And the government does not do this so they can take your car or prevent you from using it. THIS IS A NO BRAINER. Only the money of the NRA and the weapons industry they represent prevents this from happening and saving thousands of lives. Think of what the streets and highways would be like if none of this was done to make driving safer.


      1. Implementation of most of these ideals are impractical for government to enforce. You also have a far worse annual death toll caused by alcohol. What is your solution for taming those tragedies. All unnecessary deaths get back to personal responsibility and need strong punishment for violators.

        Just because some don’t feel comfortable protecting their family and property with a weapon, doesn’t mean others don’t have that right. As a senior I’m no match for physical confrontation with a thug on drugs. A weapon allows me to even up the odds. I live in a rural area and any immediate threat to myself, my family or property can’t wait for law enforcement to arise in 5 to 10 minutes. That’s also why we have fire extinqishers to fight fires instead of waiting for rural volunteer fire departments to arrive.

        Gun ownership has turned into a political issue rather than a common sense issue. If you don’t like guns, don’t own them. If you know people who own guns who are mentally unstable, report them. If you have children living in your home or frequently visiting your home, secure your guns and ammunition. If you have teenage children living at home, make sure they aren’t harboring weapons without your knowledge.

        As for the registration process similar to vehicles, when was the last mass shooting, or for that matter most shootings, where the shooter wasn’t known. What did the millions of dollars spent on the government process gain us in terms of lives saved? Those of you who just don’t like weapons keep coming up with these do gooder schemes that do nothing to prevent tragic deaths and you’re the first to condemn strong punishments for those who do commit offenses against the innocent.


      2. So then, just do nothing? And as for a weapon evening up the odds, having it in your home also increases the odds that you will be harmed by your own weapon, so it doesn’t really even anything out at all.

        I appreciate your comments and wish you well!



        You’re absolutely right! However, if indeed we wanted guns to be registered, insured and the operators licensed THE SAME WAY CARS ARE, you have to consider the following, which was taken from Reddit:

        “You can own any kind of car you want, and you can drive, modify, or otherwise use any kind of car you want in essentially any way you can imagine as long as you are on private property. Want to go 200 MPH in a jet-powered semi truck? Perfectly fine as long as you are on private property or in areas where that kind of use is allowed, such as car shows or race tracks.

        Moving that logic over to guns, I could own any kind of gun I want without restriction, as long as it is on private property, or in some facility where it is permissible, such as a gun show or shooting range. I want a fully automatic, .50 caliber, belt fed machine gun? No problemo. Just keep it on private property. I want to use a 40mm grenade launcher on my ranch to blow up junk cars for fun? Go for it!
        In addition, registration of cars is only required for use on public roads, but as long as you keep cars on private property, you don’t need tags, renewal, inspection, etc. For my fully automatic, .50 caliber, belt fed machine gun described above, no registration or inspection would be required as long as I kept it on private property.

        If I want to transport my jet-powered semi truck from my property to my friend’s property, or to the car show or drag strip, the only requirement is that it doesn’t drive on the road itself. It can be loaded up into a trailer (which could be considered a container) or onto the back of a flatbed truck, and can be driven essentially anywhere in the country. It doesn’t even have to be unloaded (read: empty of fuel) and it isn’t required by law to be locked (even though it would be wise to lock it up on the trailer during transport).

        If I want to transport my .50 caliber, belt fed machine gun, all I need to do is throw it in the back of my pickup truck in a container. It can still be loaded and it doesn’t even have to be locked.
        If I want to use or carry a gun in public like I would operate a vehicle on public roads, sure, put me through gun training and a practical test, along with renewals and inspections at intervals. Note, though, that my license to carry a firearm would now be valid in all 50 states, just as my driver’s license is. Now I can carry my gun in D.C. and Maryland, whereas under current laws, my Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit is not valid.

        Also, I can put muffling devices (A.K.A. mufflers) on my vehicles. Heck, doing so is even encouraged or required. So similarly, I would then be able to put silencers on my guns without restriction.”

        If you’re asking for a direct registration/licensing comparison to cars, that’s what you’re looking at. In some instances, enacting such a thing would actually make it a lot easier to obtain certain guns. Just food for thought.


      4. Every now and then I hear on the news about someone driving a car or truck into a crowd of people, killing and maiming inocent people…even though the car is registered and the driver trained and licensed. People kill people…always have, always will either with their hands or some kind of a weapon. If I have my gun with me, at least I’ll have a fighting chance to save myself or others if someone starts shooting (or trys to drive a car over me). THIS is a no brainer.


      5. So let’s make absolutely sure that the easiest and most common way of killing multiple people shall not be infringed upon, right?

        Honestly, see: “But, car wrecks!” and “But, mental illness!”


      6. “Chris Henson says:
        OCTOBER 5, 2015 AT 6:52 PM
        Cars are not firearms. Firearms are not cars. Ultimately the car argument is a distraction to prevent legitimate conversation about gun control.”

        You, sir, compared guns to cars yourself in your “But, what should we do?” section, by saying:

        “There should be a permanent national registry of every firearm in the country. Just like there is for cars.”

        The comment I was replying to, said: “Cars don’t kill people, drivers do. BUT WE STILL REGISTER THEM, INSURE THEM, EDUCATE DRIVERS, AND LICENSE DRIVERS BECAUSE THEY ARE DANGEROUS.”

        When a comparison to cars is used in favor of measures of gun control, the argument is viewed favorably. However, when I used the same comparison to illustrate what regulating guns exactly like cars would entail, suddenly it’s a “distraction to prevent legitimate conversation.”

        So why use the comparison as an argument in your post?


      7. There’s an important distinction here I believe you are missing. Or perhaps I’ve not articulated well. When it comes to creating a national gun registry, gun advocates insist it is simply impossible. Pointing to the fact that a car’s owner can be easily identified anywhere in the US in a matter of seconds refutes this outright.

        You’ll notice that I included a section called “But, car wrecks!” This is because gun advocates like to point out that cars kill people too. So do swimming pools and knives and baseball bats and the Vulcan death grip. They point these out to insist that all deadly things should be equally regulated according to the criteria they erroneous say gun control advocates have set forth. But this is like saying a Little League baseball team is the same thing as a platoon of Marines.

        Your logical mind knows this, Dcoil03. [Can I call you D?] You could scarcely work out the series of operations required to post a comment without being able to correctly categorize these types of relationships.

        So yes, D. I compared gun registration to car registration. But, that doesn’t mean you can draw the same comparison between car wrecks and mass shootings. That’s like saying Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis are the same in that they are both actors, so therefore they would both give birth in the same way. It’s demonstrably untrue.

        I’m sorry for that imagery.


    5. You make some valid,, thoughtful points that go against the gun crazies out there. But which of your “what we should do” list would have saved the lives of those reporters in Virginia?

      And your flippant response to mental health is insulting. You need to de-stigmatize mental health or you’ll never get people with legitimate issues that are findable in background checks!


      1. My “flippant” response is not directed at the issue of mental health but squarely at the gun lobby, which has become extremely adept at deflecting post-gun-tragedy discussions away from common sense gun control measures and squarely onto issues of mental health, the First Amendment, and parenting.

        Look at the many ways we are not talking about gun control. After the shooting in a black church in Columbia, South Carolina, our nation’s attention was immediately turned to — wait for it — the Confederate flag. Following the WDBJ shooting, our primary discussion centered around the media’s role in covering and glorifying mass shootings. After Columbine it was parenting. After Virginia Tech it was how universities can best alert students to dangers and why we don’t allow students to conceal carry on campus. After Sandy Hook it was mental illness. And even more bizarre: “did the shootings really happen?” After Aurora it was violence in movies. After Tucson it was whether or not shootings should be politicized. After Fort Hood it was whether or not the shooting was an act of terrorism.

        If anyone is being flippant or stigmatizing mental health, it’s our gun lobby who have successfully duped the rank-and-file “I’m the NRA and I vote” crowd to believe that there is absolutely no way tighter regulations on the sale of firearms can prevent gun deaths.

        As to which of my “what we should do” proposals would have prevented the WDBJ shooting. None for certain. But it is entirely likely that numbers 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 would have helped. Vester Flanigan had a near two decade history of workplace confrontations that, with proper measures in place, could have easily provided law enforcement with enough red flags to, at the very least, make purchasing firearms a lot more difficult.

        And consider this. Cho, Loughner, Holmes and Lanza all had one thing in common: long histories of diagnosed mental illness, medical histories that extended deep into their childhoods.

        There are many, many kinds of mental illness. And the vast majority of them — nearly all of them — do not make people homicidal or even violent. But a majority of shooters do have conditions that can be identified early.

        In our public schools, we check children for scoliosis. We administer aptitude tests and IQ tests. We see that they are properly vaccinated. We help diagnose conditions like spectrum disorders, ADHD and ADD, which I suffer from. What could possibly hurt in administering a simple personality test every four years to monitor for signs of sociopathy, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.? These are all conditions that begin to present in late adolescence, before they should be old enough to purchase a firearm on their own anyway.

        A diagnosis of any of these disorders does not in any way suggest that a child will grow up to be a cold-blooded killer, or violent, or even anything less than a normal adult. Nor should it, in and of itself, prevent a gun purchase. But, a marker of one of these diagnoses showing up in a deep background check could serve to alert authorities to check for other signs — signs that might be more troubling. Not an immediate disqualification, mind you. Just another hurdle that must be jumped in order to purchase a firearm.


  1. Not a reasonable argument at all. I might be more tempted to reason with you had you not grouped all gun advocates into either morons or people needing a therapist.

    If you want to be taken seriously in an important discussion then refrain from using abusive ad hominems. Making fun of or belittling others should have left your reasoning a long time ago.


    1. Your points are well-taken, but consider this: my purpose in the piece was to confront gun advocate rhetoric. My suggestion that they think about seeing a therapist is a direct response to their common argument that rampant shootings are a mental health issue and not an issue of profoundly easy access to firearms. As for me saying that all gun advocates are morons, I’m not sure I see the passage to which you refer. Mind you, I’ve been called so very much worse in the course of simply asking for a discussion of tighter gun regulations. I feel that, given the stated purpose of the article of providing cogent responses to faulty rhetoric, I’ve been about as reasonable as can be expected. Fighting fire with fire, as it were.


      1. You are so right re “gun advocate rhetoric!” I once stated online on a local TV station FB page that I was against automatic weapons in the hands of the general public. I was immediately lambasted by a gun fanatic who told me I was a moron for my opinion and he began stalking me online until I finally defriended the FB page to get rid of him.


      2. “Ad-hominems”. They love the word ad-hominem, it was a very big day when they discovered the word ad-hominem, almost as as big as the day they discovered the word “infringe”. I swear these people are zombies. Programmed and incapable of thinking on their own.


      3. Beyond talking down to those whose minds you wish to change your arguments are weak. 2 examples:
        In your attempt to destruct the “Only criminals will have guns” argument you compare laws that restrict a constitutional right to laws that prohibit criminal behavior when you right, ” And yet, for some unknown reason, we have laws anyway.” There is no constitutional right to take a human life. There is no constitutional right to take someone else’s possessions.
        There is no constitutional right to commit an assault. There IS a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It is a truly idiotic comparison. (Doesn’t feel good when you are called an idiot, does it?)

        Next your distortion of self defense stats. You intentionally take the largest estimate, 2.5 mil,in an attempt label all self defense stats “contradictory statistics of dubious origin” OK here is a number you can’t discredit: Between 450,000 and 500,000 times a year privately owned firearms are used for self defense. Source of that number is the USDOJ. That number has been steady for more than 2 decades, compiled by both liberal and conservative administration. When they publish crime reports they will add something to the affect that the actual number is likely to be considerably higher due to many factors including differences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction on what constitutes “use of a firearm for self defense”. 2.5 mil is the high end and anti-gun wack jobs like to use it to discredit the idea that guns are used for self defense at a very high rate. ( Bet you didn’t like being called a wack job)

        You have critical flaws in all the points you have made.

        BTW R.Paul,
        I am sorry that you were cyber stalked but you did deserve at least one dumb ass bitch slap for your commit. It is obvious you do not understand the difference between an automatic (which has been illegal to own since the mid 1930s) and a simi-automatic. Maybe in the future you might not want to post about things you are ignorant of.

        Which reminds if the issue is about access to guns please explain why we did not see mass shootings in the 50s when you could walk into a hardware store and buy a gun over the counter with out a background check or waiting period?


      4. When exactly did I call you, or anyone, an idiot? Meanwhile, terms like “bitch slap” do precious little to establish your authority. If in fact your USDO numbers are correct (alas, no link) you’ve helped me immeasurably to dispel the standard gun advocate line that there are “2.5 million defensive uses per year.” I suppose I should thank you.


      5. What in the world are going to tighten and who is going to manage what you want to implement? Guns to criminals is not the result of the NBA as you state. Criminals can get guns from victims and from burglaries and assorted other ways. You can’t stop them any more than you can stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country. So if you can’t stop gangs, thugs and just plain bad individuals from obtaining weapons, what is your suggestion for ridding us of attacks on innocent human life by all forms of violent acts and weapons (knives, ball bats, guns, bombs, ropes, belts, hands and the like)?


  2. Sorry but I have to agree with Personal. I am gun owner with a concealed carry license. I am also a political liberal in all things except gun control. I am the first to admit that the status quo on guns is not working but when your whole article is intended to belittle gun owners, everything you say loses credibility. For the record gun violence has decreased by 70% in the last 20 years. What has increased is mass killings by mentally unstable people which correlates directly to Ronald Reagan’s dismantling of the Mental Health Services Act. Will more gun control decrease gun violence? Possibly. Will it stop mass murders from wanting to mass murder? Not a chance. You really want to stop children from being gunned down in their schools, stop the anti-gun rhetoric and start looking for ways to to fix the root of the problem.


    1. My intention is definitely not to belittle gun owners. After all, I am one. My intention is to empower gun control advocates by providing sound counter rhetoric for the many straw man arguments gun advocates so often offer up. If providing common sense responses to those frequent arguments makes gun advocates who are unwilling to even discuss regulation under any circumstances look ridiculous, or even feel a little uncomfortable, I’m OK with that. Call it “collateral damage.” Or call it “equal time.” After all, there is an enormous monied machine that continues to provide gun owners with phrases like “2.5 million defensive uses a year” and “guns save lives” but somehow “guns don’t kill people.” Shouldn’t that kind of nonsense offend reasonable gun owners like you and me? Doesn’t the “good guy with a gun” idea belittle gun owners by suggesting they are too stupid to see through it?


      1. “1. Do you believe you will use this weapon to defend yourself against your own government? 2. Do you believe carrying this gun will make you safer or freer? 3. Do you believe you will use this gun to heroically protect your family from a deranged killer?”

        The fact that anyone believes these to be indicative of mental illness is precisely the reason why gun advocates fight so hard against ANY screening of this nature. Once you create this mythical, enormous gun control agency to take DNA samples, fingerprint and and track everyone who buys a bullet, who would then decide what constitutes who is worthy and who isn’t? I personally believe that putting mustard on Cheeseburgers is a sign of mentally illness, does that make it true? Any time you give government the discretion to dole out freedom only to those whom they see fit, such institutions are only as just and righteous as the ones running it. No, I am not a “loony” claiming that it is some some slippery slope, and that some regulation will lead to North Korea style labor camps, I am asserting that once freedom to make personal choices is taken from the citizens and consolidated into regulating agencies, that power is rarely, if ever given back. Individual freedom is not a spectrum, it is binary; you either have it, or you do not. Take seat belt laws.. Do I wear one? Absolutely. Am I so arrogant that I would vote to force my choice on everyone else? No. Are children of bad parents safer because of those laws? Meh, probably yes. But it also now pulls in millions of dollars to law enforcement and local governments (not a coincidence), and we are, by definition less free because of it. Whatever your stance on gun control, to honestly believe in your heart that the almighty government is some benevolent force that cares about nothing more than to keep us all safe and happy, is not only foolish, but strikes me as willfully ignorant and far more dangerous than keeping an AR-15 in a safe in the closet. The bottom line is that many people, my self included, would rather live in a “dangerous”, scary world where people have the freedom to do as they please, than a world where the terrified masses beg the government to save them from all the gun-toting boogeymen that apparently lurk around every corner. So stop telling people that they will never need to defend your home from an invader, unless you are willing to admit that you, in all likelihood will never have a gun pointed at you, let alone be shot in a mass shooting. It saddens me that people go through life being so damn afraid.

        (**For the record, I own ZERO guns)


    2. Violent crimes are committed by violent people. Angry people seek retribution by acting out in a way to hurt others and draw attention to their conviction that they have been wronged. Think about a woman in line at the grocery store who blows up if someone has 12 items in a 10 item lane. That person is angry. She wants to take back the power that she perceives has been taken from her. If she is violent the situation will escalate from yelling to physical actions.

      The link between mental illness is a concept promoted by the entertainment, news and other media outlets. Violent crimes committed by mentally ill people are rare but once they do occur the entire focus is on the mental illness. As individuals we cannot relate to horrendous acts of violence, they terrify us and can make us question our own self. To explain away the actions and remove ourselves from the possibility that we could act in the same manner the killer is labeled mentally ill.

      Mental illness takes many forms. Mental health patients who do not abuse alcohol or drugs are as likely to commit a violent act as their neighbor next door. Mental health patients with an abuse problem are more likely to cause harm to family members and close friends. It is estimated that 10% of violent crimes are committed by people with a major mental health issue. This is equal to 1 out of every 1,000 murders. While people with mental health issues are 3 to 7 times more likely to be a victim of violence.

      The first step in combatting the violence, anger, and mental health issues responsible for these tragic criminal acts belongs to our society, me and you. Our investment in education and social services is in itself criminal. The focus must be placed on providing a safe place to live, free from violence, neglect and abuse, free from a childhood of struggling to feed and care for one’s self. We have stripped the budget for social services to a bare minimum, reduced staffing far below the critical number required so that case workers cannot effectively handle the cases piled upon them, and children are slipping through the cracks. When you were in third grade did your teacher identify you as will not go to jail or will go to jail? This is the method we use to determine how many prison beds will be needed in the future. THIRD GRADE!

      We have also stripped our educational system in the same manner. School administrative staff, including nurses, psychologists, and support for the teaching staff, have been determined to be an unnecessary expense. Yet the money for school resource officers (armed police officers on campus) has magically appeared. I can remember the kids in my classes who came to school battered, filthy and hungry. The “unnecessary” administrative staff members were the lifeline for those children. The classmate with an explosive personality or emotional outbursts was attended to by a trained professional who could identify the proper course of action to be taken and work with parents, guardians, or social services. We have shifted all of these responsibilities upon the teaching staff. With a 60 hour work week just for lesson planning, teaching, tutoring and follow up there are little resources left for the teacher. Instead of identifying social problems in children and working to resolve them, we wring our hands and say we cannot afford to properly fund our schools.

      All citizens of this country must find their voices and demand that the focus of lawmakers change. Let’s stop spinning our wheels on repetitive witch hunts between political parties. We must work together to address the root cause of violent, angry actions which begin within our own apathy.


    3. “You really want to stop children from being gunned down in their schools, stop the anti-gun rhetoric and start looking for ways to to fix the root of the problem.” Personally, I think this one line shows your true disdain and lack of value placed on not just human lives but children’s lives too.
      Chris is trying to say it nice but you’re not interested so let me try…
      You have an erectile dysfunctional mind that stands up for the wrong reasons and when it really need to think long and hard about the situation ….can’t get up at all!

      You really really can not see that the root of the problem is actually people like you.


  3. I have a sneaking suspicion (or maybe just a misguided hope) that we will see some movement this time around. The bull-headed, lockstep refusal in Congress to budge on any gun law reform whatsoever was based on a very particular coming together of historical and political conditions, and those conditions have been unraveling for some time now.

    It is important to know (and almost nobody does) that most major gun control legislation was written and passed by Republican conservatives, with the support of the NRA. But somewhere during the late 70s, and through the 80s and 90s, the NRA quite deliberately and strategically transformed itself into a much more political organization than it ever was before. As part of this transformation, they made the 2nd Amendment the nearly exclusive focus of its marketing and lobbying efforts, leveraging the Reagan Revolution’s powerful and persuasive throwback rhetoric about “Communism” and the fear of an insidious invading presence among the citizenry (especially, of course, among Reagan’s electoral and congressional adversaries).

    During this transformation, the notion emerged that guns are not just a pastime or a method of self-defense or sustenance, but a patriotic obligation of citizens who don’t want to have their freedom taken away by the imminent and everpresent forces of darkness, both beyond our borders and within our midst. This was a brand new notion, invented out of whole cloth by marketing professionals and political operatives, for the purposes of selling guns, and of advancing the cause of one particular political party. People need to know this, too.

    For a while there in the 80s, this brand new notion was at odds with very vocal and potent gun control advocates within the Republican party, people moved to action by mass shootings, and by the near assassination of their own president. And while these advocates eventually won the Brady Bill battle, they ultimately lost the war for the soul of the Republican Party.

    Why? Because it was right at this time that Murdoch & Ailes got together and invented a media outlet that, whatever its merits, focused more than any other before it on the demonization of the enemies of Conservatism, rekindling the fear and resentment of what they argued were the forces of both domestic governmental tyranny and the invading red and brown and yellow hordes. The marketing professionals at the NRA rode this movement like a wave, resulting in the organization occupying a position of influence in the halls of power that is pretty much unprecedented in the history of the nation.

    But for all this to work, they needed to have their demon. If the people aren’t viscerally terrified that the country is on the verge of being turned into a foreign or domestic dictatorship, then why would anyone feel so strongly about the 2nd Amendment? Certainly nobody cared anywhere near this much about it for all of the rest of the nation’s history, before the Reagan-era “re-branding” of the NRA. Not even during the McCarthy redbaiting of the 1950s.

    When the re-branding started, they had actual Russian Communists to demonize. They also had Carter. Then in the 90s they had Clinton and the resurgent Democrats, and Fox News and the Gingrich crowd was wildly successful at convincing many Americans that the Clinton administration was the greatest threat to American freedom we had ever before encountered. But then, in 2008, the gun marketers hit the jackpot: Barack Hussein Obama.

    Obama was, of course, the best thing that ever happened to the NRA. If their marketing department had sat down specifically to invent a demon to whip their constituency into a froth of xenophobic fear and governmental mistrust, they couldn’t have done a better job. And of course they took full advantage of the situation, increasing membership, donations and organizational visibility exponentially.

    But here’s the deal: It didn’t work for the Republican Party, which is, to put it as nicely as I can, in a royal shambles. And none of the dire and melodramatic predictions of fascist tyranny that conservatives endlessly repeated have even remotely come to pass. And Obama is, increasingly, like it or not, seen as one of the most effective and consequential executives this nation has ever had. Moreover, as a lame duck, he doesn’t have to tip-toe as much around his obstructionist political foes.

    So that’s why I think maybe things might change this time around. Good God I hope so.


    1. “Obama is, increasingly, like it or not, seen as one of the most effective and consequential executives this nation has ever had.”
      Who sees the current administration as effective? Consequential sure, but effective? At what? Running on platform of empty liberal promises and while “effectively” emulating Bush’s warmongering for another 7 years? Effectively spearheading the most detrimental international trade agreement in history, one that furthers the interests and protections of multinational corporations, to the detriment of both Americans and numerous countries of the Pacific rim, in the face of overwhelming objections by his own party? If unchecked, shameless corporate back scratching and total disregard for both American and foreign lives is effective to you, then I suppose you would be correct. For all your fussing about the NRA and their “Marketing Department”, don’t forget that the current administration has the largest and most well funded marketing department in history, with limitless access to every byte of communication that takes place within our borders (which happens to be one of those fascist, tyrannical things that happened to actually become a thing, and REALLY bothered liberals when the patriot act passed, but for some reason was OK once Obama expanded and staunchly defended it.)
      Please face the fact that no matter what team you are on, if guns were eradicated completely today, there would be something else that “only the government can save us from!” first thing tomorrow morning, Compliments of one marketing department or another.
      Fox News and MSNBC are different flavors of the same poison.
      Republicans want us to think we need saving from “them out there”,
      Democrats want us to think we need saving from ourselves.
      I believe the only thing we need saving from all this damn fear mongering.


      1. Yours is the only voice of clarity in this miasma.

        Of course the gallery, if they ever come to realize it, will realize it too late.

        Otherwise, it will be back on the wheel of samsara with nary an inclining why.


  4. Reblogged this on Beyond Belief and commented:
    Let’s see if we can keep our side of the argument alive permanently, the way the NRA does. Participation, exposure, humiliation of the insane ideas: it’s the only way to end the insanity. The crazy must be made to stare itself in the mirror provided by other people’s rejection and mockery of the inapsanity.v

    National exposure and mockery of his absurdness popped Scott Walker’s balloon of support within Wisconsin. A barrage of essays like this one here might wake up a few of the LaPierre zombies and start the tidal shift we need. To Sanity!


  5. The mentally ill are more likely to be the victims of violent crime, than to perpetrate a violent crime. Your post is based on a false premise, and doesn’t add any insight into the issue.


      1. Are you sure that only the mentally ill get guns and shoot people? If this is the case, then we need to remove all the murderers from prison and send them to hospitals.


      2. No. I never said that “only the mentally ill get guns and shoot people.” You’re thinking of the gun lobby, which is paid to deflect all attention away from common sense gun regulations.


    1. Someone on Facebook today suggested that gun buyers and owners should be required to buy insurance. ‘Gun Incident Insurance’ sounds good to me. Insurance companies would quickly put gun industry out of business.


      1. People are quick to compare car ownership to gun ownership. Just checked; Cars still aren’t mentioned in the Constitution.


      2. My arsenal is covered under my homeowner’s insurance. If everyone had to get insurance, the rates will go down. If they go up, then no one will tell their insurance company they have guns. Facebook is full of liberal pipe dreams. Don’t stop dreaming.


      3. lifesabuffet, you just used “rates will go down” and “insurance” in the same sentence! ROFLMAO! But more to the point, I doubt your homeowners policy will pay anything to the victims if you take your arsenal out to a school and massacre a dozen kids. *Thats’s* the kind of liability insurance being talked about, not theft insurance.


  6. I am not going to waste time by pointing out the glaring ignorance of almost everything you’ve said. You set up a series of straw men and totally knocked them down. Good for you.
    Continue with your batshit crazy ranting. It’s a waste of time, but I’m sure it makes you feel better.
    I will say this: your lack of regard for the Constitution is fairly typical of both the Right and the Left in this sad era. But given your carelessness with facts, apparent ignorance of the Federal and state laws regulating firearms, and dismissive attitude towards anything that calls into question your pet opinions, I am not surprised.


  7. Chris—

    A well-written piece, thanks for sharing it!

    The Diane Rehm show had a very good discussion on gun violence in America on 31 August 2015, that offers some additional (corrective) perspective on people with mental health issues and gun violence, that I think is worth bringing up:

    10:12:05 DR. LIZA GOLD: But the majority of gun violence in the United States, of that 30,000, 20,000 are firearm suicides. It’s the primary means of suicide in the United States. Of the 10,000 or so that are left, about 90 percent of that or so per year is a form of interpersonal violence, people who know each other. The number of people who are killed by strangers with guns is less than 1.5 percent a year. And it’s…

    10:12:36 KEITH: And yet, that’s the thing we’re all afraid of and that’s the thing that makes the front page.

    10:12:39 GOLD: That’s right. And it’s not to say that those are not tragic circumstances, but every time something like that happens or something like the shooting last week, what happens is people say, oh, angry, no good reason, violent, et cetera, this person must have serious mental illness, which is not necessarily the case. What that does is it reinforces the idea that people with serious mental illness are behind a lot of the gun violence in this country.

    10:13:07 GOLD: That is only true if you take into account the 20,000 firearm suicides, which is not what people are talking about. And so one of the reasons that the national discussion is so stalled is because people are kind of coming at it from the wrong end. They’re looking at the rare occurrence, statistically speaking, incredibly rare, tragic, horrible, no question, but statistically rare. It’s very difficult to predict or stop something that is statistically so rare, less than .5 percent, I mean, per year.

    10:13:41 GOLD: So we have to be asking different questions and coming at firearms and injury and firearm death from another perspective.

    From http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2015-08-31/americas-tolerance-for-gun-violence

    The rest of the show offers some very good discussion on ways to approach the issue of gun violence as a matter of public health and safety, which is an approach that has merit (in my mind, anyway).



  8. I was also curious about the odd wording of the Second Amendment, so I read all of the (easily) available correspondence between the participants of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 on the topic of the Second Amendment. Reading these letters made it clear that the purpose of the amendment was to prevent the federal government from enacting laws that would effectively disarm the state militias.

    Reading the correspondence made it clear that (almost) all of the framers of the Constitution agreed that it was obvious that individuals should be able to own firearms for self-defense, for hunting, and for fowling. We know from historical context that these comments were implicitly limited to land-owning white men, so a significant degree of regulation was already assumed. Of course the phrase “well-regulated militia” includes the word “regulated”, and in this context it is completely clear that what was opposed was *Federal* regulation of arms, not *State* regulation of arms.

    One reason that the wording of the Second Amendment is strange is that heated arguments on “conscientious objectors” almost derailed any mention of the militia at all. Once the delegates realized that membership in the militia was a matter for the states and not for the federal government, they all breathed a huge sigh of relief and moved on to the next topic — without going back to be sure that they had avoided unnecessary ambiguity in the wording.


  9. In support of what you believe regarding the evils guns, why not take your firearms collection to a place that will destroy them for you, in your presence, for Free? Selling them, for personal profit, would be wrong and you’d be a hypocrite…


      1. No specific statement to that point, but you present a strong lean that direction. Regardless – turn in your guns.


      2. Chris, please do think of those undefended guns you inherited. Home break-ins frequently provide bad people with weapons they may not be able to purchase legally. And an M1 Grand would fetch a pretty penny to buy more drugs. Not making guns available to thugs through home invasion is a step toward keeping them out of the hands of the wrong hands.


  10. Chris thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

    Note that I may be mentally ill because I believe the second amendment was focused on providing a balance against federal government overreach.

    I have a question for you & your readers: when facing a disagreement like I suggest making a **reversible** change and measuring the impact. For instance, pass a bill implementing a four year restriction on gun magazine sizes then see if there are meaningful results. Based on these results, a decision can be made about the best long-term course of action. Do you think an approach like this reasonable?


  11. You cant reason with gun owners. Owning a gun for so many of them just becomes who and what they are. GUN OWNER. And that isnt enough. They have to have the NRA stickers on their cars, were camouflage clothes, pretend to be some kind of mercenary from a 1970’s movie. I think that that in and of itself is a form of mental illness. I own guns as well but I am not a PROUD gun owner, they are not who I am. They are not my identity. I have no interest in being armed and dangerous. I could never vote for the conservative party based on their prideful white supremacy and Christian privilege and hate speech. But I digress. These types of gun owners who completely come unglued at the mere suggestion of a national registry ARE the mentally ill. They claim they dont want the government to know what they have as they take selfies with every weapon they have in their arsenal and post them all over social media, they dont want to keep these guns a secret. They want the world to see them. As you said, “look at me, I am armed and dangerous.” There is an extreme amount of self absorbed low self esteem going on with that. And it shows an incredible amount of stupidity for a gun owner to believe that they are a one man army against the US Gov who could destroy their lives in an instant without even breaking a sweat no matter how many guns they have. It is the US Gov for God sakes. If they want you dead, you are dead. Hate is a mental illness. Fear is a mental illness. Paranoia is a mental illness.


    1. I appreciate your frustration! But, keep in mind that there are lots of reasonable gun owners, in fact, a majority of them want common sense regulations. The problem is being able to hear them above the rhetoric. Dialogue is vital. Hearing and promoting the right voices on both side is job one.


    2. I’m a proud gun owner, but it is far from my identity. I’m also a conservative, but I don’t feel like I am a white Christian supremacist. I have many friends and family members that are of different backgrounds, races, and religions. And I do not espouse hate speech toward any group or individual. I I just feel that Americans should enjoy as many freedoms as possible with as little government interference as possible. By lumping everyone that owns guns (yourself excluded, of course) into a crazy category is what makes people who ARE gun owners leery. While many of us feel that some measures need to be taken, it’s hard to be heard over all the rants and name-calling. Less screaming. More listening. It’s hard to think clearly as it is, you know, when you are prideful AND self-absorbed whilst fighting low self esteem. Oh, the controversy inside my brain right now! I need to just stop thinking and grab my arsenal for a quick selfie. If I only had some camo! I don’t even own anything green! Crap! I’ll just fashion a dress out of my stash of NRA bumper stickers and stand in front of my Rambo poster and maybe no one will notice.

      And thank you for pointing out that the government can and will do whatever they want whenever they want and we are powerless. We need to remember that we are at their mercy. Certainly, that’s how our forefathers saw it. We should stick to what America knows.



      1. Important distinction: I did not lump all gun owners into any group or call all gun owners crazy. I asked a few hypothetical questions about gun fetishists and labeled several of the gun lobby’s most popular arguments against sensible gun control as sounding crazy. There’s an enormous difference.


      2. Thank you Amy…I am also a proud gun owner, as is my husband and son…We hunt together as a family, we shoot for fun (skeet shooting), target practice, etc….my husband has been around guns all of his life, 30+ years, and we all have different views and opinions….I was never really around guns much growing up, besides occasionally shooting a BB gun, but my father, even with a BB gun, taught us gun safety and that you treat every gun like it’s loaded….When I met my husband, he started taking me hunting with him, skeet shooting, etc., and we now go as a family….in a discussion about gun control on Facebook yesterday, I mentioned my husband is also in law enforcement, and got a response of “don’t pull that card,” which is part of the problem when talking about guns, people begin lashing out, become defensive and unreasonable….the point I was trying to make about my husband being in law enforcement is just what he has witnessed himself, has talked to us about and in turn taught us about guns….and my husband and I also agree with Amy in the fact that, “our government can and will do whatever they want whenever they want and we are powerless. We need to remember that we are at their mercy. Certainly, that’s how our forefathers saw it.” There’s a lot of evil in this world, always has been, always will be, people die everyday, whether by accidental death or at the hands of a deranged killer….now I’m not saying there are not reasonable steps that can be made to try and keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals or people who have a past history of violence and/or violent mental illness…with this said, I read your article in its entirety, and I do agree some steps can be made to try to prevent guns getting in the wrong hands, but I also believe, and as my husband has witnessed first hand, people with the intent on killing will find other means to carry out their deranged plan, whether it be with a knife, vehicle, machete, chainsaw, bomb, etc…it happens in other countries with strict gun laws and/or gun bans…i.e., in 2014 knife-wielding attackers killed 29 in China, wounded 113 and this is just one example, as there are many. Also, there is the HUGE obstacle, as Amy pointed out, of people not trusting our government. I do not trust our government to protect me and my family and I do question their intentions and reasons for gun control, as more people get killed every day by gangs, black-on-black murders (not racist, just statistics), etc. and this will still continue to happen, as there are millions of illegally owned guns out there now, it will just make it easier for the criminals to prey on their victims. I also do not agree with “their should be a permanent national registry of every firearm in the country” and again, I have my reasons for feeling this way….also, the fact is, only good “law-abiding citizens” and yes, I said it, “law abiding citizens” will register their guns, criminals will not….The person on Facebook yesterday stated “our entire attitude about guns is wrong.” Well, I do not believe this, as I do not feel “my attitude” about guns is wrong or that my husband’s “attitude” about guns is wrong….We own guns, many, many guns, I’m looking at my gun right now, I look at one every day, for years I have looked at my guns, even shot them, plenty of times and many different guns, and never once did I have a gun turn on me and shoot me….I look at my guns as not only something I hunt with, but what I would use to protect my family with if someone tried to harm us, God forbid I’d ever have to, but there are bad people in this world, there always will be, not matter what steps are taken, bad people will get their hands on guns and commit crimes….I thank God every day that my husband took the time to teach me and my son how to shoot and how to defend ourselves, teaching us gun safety and not to fear guns, but respect them and their power and how to properly handle guns, use them….I don’t blame guns for killing people…a gun will never walk up to me and ask me “are you a Christian” and shoot me in the head….I think differently about guns, I believe people need to be more educated when it comes to how to use a gun and gun safety….I believe a lot of “Gun Control Advocates” wanting gun bans, some guns outlawed, etc., have to do with fear of guns…we teach our children how to ride bikes, drive cars, we teach them safety and respect, and educate them on how to properly do these things to the best of our ability to keep them safe….I feel the same about guns….any tool can be used as a weapon, taking the tool away will not stop anything, as they will just find another way to do what they have set out to do…..I respect the way you believe, that’s your opinion, my husband and I believe differently and that’s okay, we all have a right to our opinions….My husband and I choose to have a gun over not having one and to educate ourselves and our child on how to properly use a gun, gun safety, and respect, just like we would teach our child to drive a car, ride a bike, use a knife, use a chainsaw, etc….not to fear a gun as a weapon, but respect it as a tool, to hunt with, skeet shoot with, target practice with, and if need be, protect ourselves with…educating him on if improperly used, it can kill you or someone else, just like a car, a knife, a machete, chainsaw, blow torch, matches/lighter/fire, nail gun, hammer/mallet, sword, firecrackers (and yes, firecrackers have killed people)….I could go on and on about different tools/things that can be used as a weapon to cause mass destruction if that is a person’s intent…..with that said, there are laws/regulations in place already regarding gun ownership, which are poorly enforced….before making new laws, the ones we have now need to be enforced to the max…..also, if new laws are to be made, great consideration should be given to who these laws will effect, are they really going to make it harder for criminals and mentally deranged people to get their hands on guns? I appreciate your article, your opinion and ideas, but we will never see eye-to-eye on this subject, as we look at things from a different perspective……Take Care and thank you for your article….
        Like · Reply · 13 hrs · Edited


      3. I commented on your essay on 10/5/15 at 11:29 a.m. but listed my email address as name….can you please remove my email address for everyone to see and change it to bburke….thank you…


      4. I do want to point out that my response was directed at the comments left by another reader, not the original post. I’m not sure how this shows up on word press, but it was meant as a rebuttal to a very strange and mean spirited rant toward gun owners.

        I do have some issues with the original blog post. Mainly the one alluding to the fact that I am mentally ill for believing that having a gun will make me feel safer. it absolutely has made me feel safer.

        Do I live in constant fear at home, holding my gun as I pace the floor waiting for an intruder to come through the door? Nope. I have an alarm system to beat all alarm systems. Glass and door sensors, motion detectors, a panic button. The works. I’m also married to a former SWAT team leader. We feel pretty ok. I still like seeing the gun safe, though.

        Its both comical and sad to see that every article, study, survey, and opinion piece either for or against gun control measures has so many frightening comments under it. It brings out some very disturbed self-proclaimed experts. There are a few on here that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Some of the comments make me very glad to own a gun and know how to use it.


      5. Amy, I appreciate your clarification very much! And I agree whole-heartedly that the comments pro and con under articles covering everything from guns and abortion to weather and recipes have a tendency to reveal what a good friend of mine calls “the bottom half of the Internet.” Once this piece started picking up steam, I was tempted to turn commenting off completely for just that reason. Instead, I’ve approved every comment [so far] and have been impressed with the generally respectful tone and reasonable debate that I’ve seen. I’m a big believer in earnest conversations and intelligent discourse. I can tell that you are as well. Thank you!


    3. I think you are stereotyping, or as liberals say, profiling, all gun owners. Your expressed views reveal a political response, not a solution to help deal with any of the issues being discussed.


    4. Venus in Furs provides a clear look at the “no room to negotiate” attitude of those who just plain dislike guns whether they harm anyone or not. It is this attitude and profiling that causes those with opposing views to hang on to them tight and not want to budge an inch. Compromise and finding middle ground comes from trust that you at least have a thread of respect from those you’re negotiating with.


  12. Thank You Chris… This was an eloquent, very methodical and well-written essay. I am a Canadian living in Virginia…Quite the gun-culture shock to be frank. I do have friends on both sides of the gun-law opinion, and I find it amazing how it’s mostly black or white and hardly ever a shade of grey. It’s sad to say that none of my anti-gun-control friends would ever be open to reading your article, because it is so deeply in their core, they cannot accept change. It’s frightening that, amidst all the data and studies, the US is regressing and not evolving when it comes down to guns and the safety of its people.

    I really appreciated your insight… Thanks.


  13. Great essay! Thank you so much for writing this. You make a lot of really great points. I hope and pray (as one of your earlier commentators wrote) that we may have finally reached a turning point with our “gun insanity”.in this country.


  14. Clear and persuasive refutation of the main claims of people who apparently lack the ability to think logically and objectively about the need for reasonable regulation of one of the most dangerous things in our culture. Thanks for this exceptionally well-reasoned & clearly written contributions to the discussion.


  15. I am very sorry I wasted my time reading this from beginning to end twice trying desperately to find anything of remotely redeeming value in it. Unfortunately all the author did was use all the same lies, inaccurate information, & grossly spun half truths to deflect the discussion away from the facts in a way that I have heard a thousand times before. He is entitled to his opinion. But I think most of us with any common sense & knowledge of this issue can see right through his attempts to foist his liberal gun grabbing agenda on us. He says he is proud of & cherishes his father’s WWII firearms. He had better hide them really well if he truly advocates a national gun registry. I know of a number of nations that have implemented such a registry only to turn around & confiscate the property of their citizens & rob them of their rights & freedom. He can yell as loudly as he wants that this would never happen here. That does not make it so. Australians were assured by their government it would not happen, and yet it did. Is he really so utterly naive as to believe ANYTHING our government tells us at this point in time? If he is that naive, I truly regret spending time reading anything he has to say.


    1. So, I just had to look up the claims about Australia “gun confiscation” on Snopes…Here is part of the narrative and “common sense” that pretty much debunks the claims of the far right-wing internet web sites and media mouth-pieces that make them:

      “In the specific case offered here, context is the most important factor. The piece quoted above leads the reader to believe that much of the Australian citizenry owned handguns until their ownership was made illegal and all firearms owned by “law-abiding citizens” were collected by the government through a buy-back program in 1997. This is not so. Australian citizens do not (and never did) have a constitutional right to own firearms — even before the 1997 buyback program, handgun ownership in Australia was restricted to certain groups, such as those needing weapons for occupational reasons, members of approved sporting clubs, hunters, and collectors. Moreover, the 1997 buyback program did not take away all the guns owned by these groups; only some types of firearms (primarily semi-automatic and pump-action weapons) were banned. And even with the ban in effect, those who can demonstrate a legitimate need to possess prohibited categories of firearms can petition for exemptions from the law.

      Given this context, any claims based on statistics (even accurate ones) which posit a cause-and-effect relationship between the gun buyback program and increased crime rates because “criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed” are automatically suspect, since the average Australian citizen didn’t own firearms even before the buyback. But

      beyond that, most of the statistics offered here are misleading and present only “first year results” where long-term trends need to be considered in order to draw valid cause-and-effect conclusions.

      Read more at http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp#QW0OhOWJXGvW03YO.99


  16. Gotta love the part in the first paragraph where he says his guns are locked away and he doesn’t even have any ammo for them and then a line later says he doesn’t for one minute think his family is any safer by having them. DAAA!! What an intelligent piece. LMAO


    1. I’m glad that you found something to connect with. Next time, try connecting with the actual data on gun ownership and safety data. There’s plenty out there that supports my two statements.


      1. Chris, I think he means that by having the gun without any ammo, they naturally aren’t doing anything to contribute to your safety. Unless you hit someone over the head with one. Which I wouldn’t do if they are expensive firearms.


      2. I know what he’s saying. But the commenter finds the dangers a loaded weapon presents to be humorous and countered my assertion of this with derision. So, I referred to the fact that a loaded weapon in a home is, in most cases, more likely to injure me or a family member, intentionally or otherwise.


  17. I’ve read the section on “But, Mental Illness” 3 times and it still doesn’t make sense other than it is insulting to the millions that suffer from mental illness. No wonder people are afraid to come out with it when you have ignorance like this written.


  18. It is now over a month later and we have another mass shooting in our news. As of today we also have an 11 yr old boy shooting an 8 year old girl with his father’s shotgun; over a puppy. Sad really. The mother of the Oregon shooter and the father of this young boy were legal gun owners. Mental illness is just an excuse. There can never be signs of mental illness until one day someone sinply gets angry over something or just simply wants to make a point. Even the most sane person is capable of an outburst. Mental illness is a cop out excuse. The right to bear arms is a cop out excuse. Too many excuses not enough accountability.


  19. Reblogged this on Not Dead Yet and commented:
    This was too well-written not to share far and wide. I know some people will disagree with this writer, and therefore with me. I understand that you feel differently, but I don’t care. I can no longer stay on the sidelines of this issue.


  20. I suppose if I register a spoon, it wont make me fat. If you made it harder for me to get a spoon, I won’t get fat. Even if you took all the spoons away, it would be impossible for me to get fat. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. I would rather see vets, or ex military armed at each school. If you really want to stop school shootings, then keep them from getting into the school in the first place. It’s already illegal to kill people, taking guns away isn’t going to stop them from killing, or make it hard for them to kill a person.


  21. Excellent points for all the arguments that anyone should be free to own guns in this country. It’s weak to argue that not all gun owners are morons or mentally ill? So, we shouldn’t attempt to keep them away from the violent morons and mentally unstable people? That is an utterly f***ing ridiculous way to approach gun control. The Constitution doesn’t say every Tom, Dick and Harry should own a gun….it’s keep a well armed militia. So, someone blasting innocent school children, or adults, is something a member of a militia should be able to do? I wonder if most NRA members would feel the same way if they friends or loved ones killed by some violently insane person at a workplace, movie theater or school? I doubt it.


    1. The entire Bill of Rights is focused on individual rights in the face of government, but you think that the Second Amendment provided the right for the government to have a well regulated militia? I’d recommend you read the Federalist Papers.


      1. Or simply comprehend the 2nd amendment. What a fountain of confused, dangerous misinformation this article is!


  22. Brilliant essay, well-reasoned and passionate. Should be required reading for all citizens. So many of us are exasperated by our nation’s reluctance to DO ANYTHING to stop the epidemic of mass shootings. And the arguments we hear, well, you raised them and refuted them. But what can be done, in practical terms, to turn the tide? What is the prescription for starting to get action against an opponent that is uncompromising and quite paranoid? Do they realize that the NRA represents gun manufacturers? That means they will do whatever is in the interests of promoting the profits of gun makers, and that’s why their solution to every situation is “more guns.” Insane.


    1. Actually the Obama administration threat of vast gun control regulations was the single greatest sales agent for gun manufacturers. Gun sales sky rocketed and ammunition was horded and nearly impossible to find on shelves. Legit or not, see what happens if you suggest ridding the shelves of all alcoholic drinks. They’ll empty in a matter of days and still makers will be working overtime. Remember prohibition? How did that work out. The gun issue needs a two sided compromise that doesn’t swing the pendulum to the far left side.


  23. I am just appauled by some of these comments. People want to be right more than they want to reason. After reading them, I need to find a wall so I may bang my head against it. Why must people always jump to extremes? THERE IS A WAY TO CONTROL GUN SAFETY –without taking away all of your guns. AMERICA NEEDS STRICTER GUN LAWS. PERIOD. Our country has a problem. The second amendment needs to be updated, just like the guns have been. All countries have cars and mental illness. The ones without access to guns…miraculously…have .01% of gun deaths, compared to Merikerrr.

    I asked a simple question, requiring a “yes or no” answer. “If a shooter did not have a gun in his hand, that he used to shoot the people, would his victims have bullets lodged in their flesh?” There is only one answer. This is why those who cannot allow their egos to admit when they are wrong, can answer the question with a simple YES. It was an astounding experiment that most failed miserably.

    And I see most failing miserably here with their black and white comments. We can do better. We can find a solution without taking all of your toys away. Stop being so selfish and try to save a life. One day it could be your kid. And I can assure you, your gun will most likely not save them, and in fact kill them. (Statistically most of the 1,500 victims of unintentional shootings are boys. They are usually shot by a friend or relative, especially a brother. Half of all unintentional shooting deaths among children occur at home, and almost half occur in the home of a friend or relative.)

    Freedom my ass.


    1. Did you know that Florida has 3 times as many swimming pool related accidental toddler drownings than the national average? North Dakota has almost NONE! If you care at ALL, about the lives of those POOR CHILDREN, then AMERICA NEEDS STRICTER POOL LAWS. PERIOD. There are ways to control pool safety without taking away your pools, I’m just saying we need common sense pool legislation, so no pool can be deeper than 15 inches, and people with children under 4 years old should not be allowed to own pools. If those people did not have pools in their yards, would those children still be alive? “Those who cannot allow their egos to admit when they are wrong, can answer the question with a simple YES.” We don’t need freedom to make our own choices and protect our own children how we see fit. “Stop being so selfish and try to save a life. One day it could be your kid.” Because “Freedom my ass.” We need more laws and less freedom, because freedom is scary and dangerous and the government will protect us. !! Think of all the lives that could be saved!!!


      1. Again, if swimming pools were designed specifically to take human life, like guns are, then they should absolutely be regulated.


      2. And did you know…that swimming pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” and that by virtue of having one, your homeowners insurance does go up? Of course we should require guns to be insured, for liability. This isn’t specifically targeted toward you, Budman, BTW. Just piggy-backing off the swimming pool topic.


    2. Please cite your stats and contextually place them comparatively in terms of freedom of press, freedom of religion, right to privacy, and right to refuse self incrimination since the inability to own guns is usually in proportion to the *lack* of these rights and freedoms.


  24. “you don’t believe in the rest of the Constitution” I have no idea what this means. If it means we should just go along and assume the powers that will be will always respect all our other rights, that’s not what political types are like. but knowing their force can be, not will be, met with force if they become abusive, that is a hard reality.
    And as for those questions you pose, except for the 4th you take the legit arguments of self-defense and add overwritten phrases worthy of Norman Lear or Joss Whedon to *make* them ridiculous. A truly cheap rhetorical trick.
    PS I do not own a gun. I will not take it upon myself to increase the seriousness of events by being the one to introduce a gun. And I also do not fear the law-abiding gun owner, even *in* a restaurant.


    1. I don’t fear law-abiding gun owners either. I worry about gun advocates that shut down reasonable discussions about gun control before they can even start. I also don’t fear our government. I’m deeply disappointed in it quite often. But, because the Constitution defines a mechanism to change itself and our government, I can’t imagine it degrading to a point where I’d feel compelled to arm myself against it.

      As for the questions, I tried to be very careful with them all. I have met people who insist that they will definitely use their impressive arsenals of firearms to take on the United States government. I’ve met people who are certain that they will use their firearms to defend themselves against intruders and who believe that the guns they own are what make them free. They insist that, if their guns are taken away from them, they will lose their liberty — no matter for what reason.

      I don’t believe that people who own a firearm for protection, train to use it, register it properly, and keep it safely, are mentally ill at all. But I do believe that people who arm themselves because they are certain someone intends to harm them are in need of psychiatric evaluation before they are granted a license to possess a dangerous weapon. Small distinctions, but important.

      I appreciate your comments and I wish you well.


      1. “shut down reasonable discussions about gun control before they can even start.”
        Pot, meet kettle.
        Speaking of that; perhaps you might consider taking some time to review your writings for your own bias and logical fallacies.
        Until then, enjoy your time in your echo chamber.


      2. Also, what legitimate, reasonable discussions have I shut down here? All I’ve done is lay bare the many false arguments I’ve encountered. False arguments that many here are still trying to wage. False arguments — like cars and swimming pools — that don’t have the slightest thing to do with gun regulation.


      3. I admire your confidence in our Legislative and Executive Branches. I just don’t share it. The Right has some legitimate concerns that are brushed aside or flat-out ignored and one of them is the ability to resist a tyrannical government. While I don’t care for the current President – I respect the office, not the man – short of his use of the pen and an Declaration of Emergency, he’s not a tyrant.

        Still, the core reason for a ‘poison pill’ in the Constitution is to prevent the abuses of Government in a last-ditch way. No one who is a scholar of the Constitution would argue otherwise.


      4. Your admiration means a great deal to me. It’s interesting that you have no faith in the executive or legislative branches when you’ve expressed elsewhere great faith in the judicial branch. Is it the black robes?


      5. You are a clever man, you can find them for yourself. I have noticed that others have taken you to task for the same issues, so I’ll just leave it be.
        There are none so blind…


      6. Rainman, assuming that this is your response to “what legitimate, reasonable discussions have I shut down here?” I’ll just say that I have not denied a single comment in the rather massive [that’s what 80,000 hits will do!] comment thread here. And I’ve responded to any I felt merited a response and quite a few I felt didn’t. Unfortunately, the vast majority of counter arguments provided here — yours included — simply rehash the same rhetorical arguments I had already rebutted with the original piece. “What about cars? They kill people!” “Swimming pools and baseball bats and knives?” “You’re saying no one with a mental illness should have a gun!” “You’re saying you want to take everybody’s guns away!” “You’re not a real gun owner!” “You won’t read the Second Amendment!” “Guns are tools!” “Guns are used defensively 450,000 to 500,000 times a year!” “No, 2.5 million times a year!” “Chicago!” “Maryland!” “Australia!”

        Honestly, it’s like those who’ve taken me to task couldn’t be bothered to actually read the darned thing.

        Still I’ve approved their many, many comments and rebutted them gently in my singular snarky way. How this constitutes shutting down reasonable discussion, I just don’t know.


  25. I think you’re missing a very obvious solution to a lot of the problems here. There are gun owners and then there are RESPONSIBLE gun owners. You sound like what I’d consider a responsible gun owner- keeping your firearms locked and secured without ammo immediately available. Then there are gun owners who sleep with a loaded pistol in their night stand or other place a child can access them.

    Low hanging fruit in all of this is to keep pushing responsible gun ownership- police departments routinely have trigger lock giveaways and gun amnesty days for people to turn in unregistered handguns and other weapons for instance. But there are not very many free/low cost firearms safety courses available– unless you are applying for a hunting license, in which case a number of states require a firearms safety certificate prior to getting a license.

    As with most movements, grassroots campaigns to encourage SAFE gun ownership will be more effective than trying to enforce more regulation.

    And finally, just because I can’t resist (somewhat tongue in cheek)- how long did it take US auto manufacturers to begin installing seat belts, and then later airbags in their rolling death machines?


  26. I commented earlier on a post and accidentally entered my email address under name….please do not post my email address if you confirm my comment, instead use bburke….thank you.


      1. Yes, it is fixed….thank you so much and I appreciate you taking the time to do this….again, take care and thank you for the very interesting essay….


  27. When I was 7 and a half, and a recent immigrant to this country from the former USSR, my mom and my dad divorced. Shortly after the divorce my mom’s ex boyfriend, who also immigrated to the US, broke into our home and beat her, and was threatening me. My mother, afterwards, decided to purchase a hand gun to keep herself, and her only child safe. Luckily she never had to use it, as my dad found out shortly afterwards, went to Yahn’s (her ex boyfriend) place of work, and threatened him (yes, with a gun), to never do that again (she never knew that happened). Guess what? We didn’t hear from Yahn until 2010, when my mom died.

    The point of that story, is thank you for calling people like my mom mentally ill for wanting to protect her child. Thank you for putting us pro-gun advocates into the same umbrella, like we are all a bunch of crazed rednecks.

    Sorry if I didn’t have the privelage of growing up in a rather safe, and secure times and place, where my parents, nor I, ever had to worry about someone breaking into our home and doing some serious damage.

    Oh, you may be wondering; why didn’t we call the cops. It happened during the LA Riots, and we saw damn well the extent the LAPD would go into protecting it’s citizens.

    Speaking of which, would you also call those Korean shop owners who had to fend off rioters and looters from taking everything they’ve worked hard to create, mentally ill? Cuz they were standing on their rooftops with guns pointed at the looters, since the LAPD essentially abandoned them?

    I’m probably guessing you wouldn’t.


    1. You make some very good points. Please keep in mind that my points about mental illness are actually written to counter the gun lobby’s argument that gun violence is a mental health issue and not a gun control issue. Also, I worded that section very carefully because I believe there is a difference between purchasing a gun for personal protection and purchasing a gun because you know you are going to use it to kill a deranged intruder. No your mother was not mentally ill. Domestic violence is another horror to be sure. Those situations are very rarely solved at the end of a gun barrel. Instead, when guns enter the mix, it’s the abused who most often die.

      I very much appreciate your comments and I wish you well.


      1. “I believe there is a difference between purchasing a gun for personal protection and purchasing a gun because you know you are going to use it to kill a deranged intruder.”

        They aren’t the same? You don’t ‘shoot to wound’ – this isn’t TV or the movies.


  28. What I find interesting is that many of the people that are crying, “It’s about mental illness” are people that have consistently voted AGAINST mental health reform and funding or have voted for politicians who voted against it. If you think it’s mental health then you need to put your money where your mouth is. End of story.


  29. “1. Do you believe you will use this weapon to defend yourself against your own government? 2. Do you believe carrying this gun will make you safer or freer? 3. Do you believe you will use this gun to heroically protect your family from a deranged killer?”

    The fact that anyone believes these to be indicative of mental illness is precisely the reason why gun advocates fight so hard against ANY screening of this nature. Once you create this mythical, enormous gun control agency to take DNA samples, fingerprint and and track everyone who buys a bullet, who would then decide what constitutes who is worthy and who isn’t? I personally believe that putting mustard on Cheeseburgers is a sign of mentally illness, does that make it true? Any time you give government the discretion to dole out freedom only to those whom they see fit, such institutions are only as just and righteous as the ones running it. No, I am not a “loony” claiming that it is some some slippery slope, and that some regulation will lead to North Korea style labor camps, I am asserting that once freedom to make personal choices is taken from the citizens and consolidated into regulating agencies, that power is rarely, if ever given back. Individual freedom is not a spectrum, it is binary; you either have it, or you do not. Take seat belt laws.. Do I wear one? Absolutely. Am I so arrogant that I would vote to force my choice on everyone else? No. Are children of bad parents safer because of those laws? Meh, probably yes. But it also now pulls in millions of dollars to law enforcement and local governments (not a coincidence), and we are, by definition less free because of it. Whatever your stance on gun control, to honestly believe in your heart that the almighty government is some benevolent force that cares about nothing more than to keep us all safe and happy, is not only foolish, but strikes me as willfully ignorant and far more dangerous than keeping an AR-15 in a safe in the closet. The bottom line is that many people, my self included, would rather live in a “dangerous”, scary world where people have the freedom to do as they please, than a world where the terrified masses beg the government to save them from all the gun-toting boogeymen that apparently lurk around every corner. So stop telling people that they will never need to defend your home from an invader, unless you are willing to admit that you, in all likelihood will never have a gun pointed at you, let alone be shot in a mass shooting. It saddens me that people go through life being so damn afraid.

    (**For the record, I own ZERO guns)


      1. Seen it. Not sure how eating children supports your cause here.Nor does simply pointing me in the direction of things you feel I or others should “See:”. You don’t have to respond to my compelling*** (See: drunken, self-aggrandizing) rants, but if you do, please, tell me why I am wrong, and not this “See: GFYS” stuff.. As I encounter so few people worth taking the time to engage in a spirited debate with. That is a genuine compliment. So many people who hate guns know so little that there is no point in discussion. It is refreshing to hear the perspective of learned people who hold that viewpoint. I come from a small town where everyone loves guns, so people with different views are few and far between. I guess i simply long to be convinced otherwise.


  30. But the Second Amendment… can be changed. The founding fathers (all of whom are dead) thought it was needed for their time. The Earth belongs to the living. The Second Amendment is useless as intended. The people (i.e. militia) do not have the types of weapons they would need to fight off an invading army, or their own tyrannical government today. They could (and did) in the 18th century, but not in the 21st century.

    As for tradition, tradition in s fine thing, even if it had no real function anymore. However, if a tradition has become counter-productive and harmful, it should be changed or abandoned.

    As long as the NRA has so much power over politicians, there will not be change on this issue. Either everyone who wants change should join the NRA and force change within the NRA, or make sure politicians know that a good grade from the NRA means they will not get your vote. (Or both).

    I’m not sure what to do about all of the illegal guns in the hands of criminals and unstable people, but I know the solution does not include putting more guns in the wrong hands.


    1. If you take the position of ‘never’ you’re betting a whole lot on a government that has increasingly encroached on individual Rights in favor of corporations like Wal-Mart (seizing property for a new store) and trying to take someone’s land and cattle from them (Bundy Ranch) as well as arming cops in military gear and vehicles and effectively giving law enforcement the ability to shoot to kill anyone it sees fit – often without consequence. A government that disregards it’s own citizens is a government that has failed the very people it’s supposed to be *for* not against. This why AR-15’s and AK’s are *necessary* for the common weal. We may not need them today but the way things are going, we may need them sooner than we’d like.


  31. Chris Henson says:
    OCTOBER 5, 2015 AT 5:08 PM
    “See: false equivalency.”

    So their lives are not equivalent? Hundreds of Floridian children die and you see no issue, but 20 kids die in Newtown and the nation must rise up! Action must be taken!!! Why do people and the media perseverate on this single minutia of preventable child death? My point, and the point of others who bring up the many other dangerous things that kill people, is that claiming concern for safety and lives saved is disproportionately applied to guns to an exponential degree. Citing these things is not to undermine the fact that gun deaths happen, it just serves to illustrate the fact that you care far more about guns themselves than actually saving lives. There are a hundred other crusades to “save children’s lives” that would, in fact, save more lives if anyone really gave a damn about the number of lives saved. For these reasons, I disagree that comparing the lives of unattended children who shoot themselves, to the lives unattended children who drown is a “false equivalency”. I feel the lives of all children matter, and until we as a nation take action, children will continue to drown senselessly.


    1. You need to read up on false equivalencies. You’re basically saying “I will not accept even the slightest strengthening of firearm regulations until every other dangerous product is fully regulated first!” This is precisely why I called the piece “Let’s Not Talk About Gun Control.” You’re refusing to talk about gun control.


      1. Yeah, we’ve all taken Philosophy 101, I am more than comfortable with my knowledge of common argumentative fallacies. Your premise “That I am basically saying yadda yadda” is provably untrue. I am open to any measure that would effectively (I.e. measurably and significantly) curtail unnecessary dead children as I have cited my equal concern for all types of child death, whereas you seem determined to put undue emphasis on gun control above all other (and in many cases much more preventable) causes of preventable child death. My point was only to highlight your unwarranted focus on guns.I have heard my comparisons labeled “false” but I have yet to hear why all those other causes of dead children are somehow acceptable, other than “Well that’s different, because those aren’t guns so they aren’t as scary! Those other things serve an important purpose, like leisure and recreation!”

        A more fitting title would be “Let’s only talk about gun control”.


  32. If the agreed position is that personal safety is only guaranteed by carrying a gun how are the mentally ill and felons, debarred from owning and buying them, to defend themselves?


  33. Great article. What amazes me is that people read the whole article (supposedly) yet take nothing away from it and stick to their guns, so to speak, and argue the same tired points in favor of them. Common sense is lost on them.


  34. You take the position of being a ‘gun owner’ yet lack the basic understanding of the history, culture, and precedents of doing so in the very society in which you live. Owning a race car and driving it makes you a race car driver only in the strictest technical sense.

    I suggest you read the Amicus briefs in Heller vs DC to get yourself more acquainted with the the reasons behind why SCOTUS ruled in favor of Heller. That’s a very sound place to start and might give you a MUCH better – and rational – reason to *not* support gun control.

    You are pretty snarky and I think you have a *profound* lack of understanding of American History and Culture, World History, and even Virginia history.

    “I have tried twice to register these rifles officially. But, because I live in Virginia, I’ve been told it’s unnecessary. One of those handy loopholes.”

    That’s not a loophole, that’s by design since gun ownership is a matter of private property ownership as well as a means of self-defense and defense of others.

    “They start talking about a police state and “the founder’s intent” and panting a lot.”

    Snark is a poor substitute for a real argument; the truth of history bears itself out that a host of countries and regimes that utilized gun registration did so as precursor to seizure: The Communists in Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, Pol Pot in Cambodia, The Nazis *for those not in the party and minorities such as Jews and Gypsies* are all historical examples.

    The concern over a police state is real in the minds of many on all sides of the political spectrum – Snowden didn’t happen in a vacuum – and the first step to ensure control in a police state is to remove the population’s ability to challenge it at every level. The censoring of media (via self censoring and political correctness which quells free speech and expression along with flat-out propaganda on both ends of the political spectrum), the invasion of personal privacy, and the removal of the ability to take to arms as a last resort are all steps towards tyranny. The thing is that American history has seen **all** of this before by the British prior to the American Revolution as well as all over the world time and again, particularly in Communist countries.

    “Also, we should mention that, in the not too distant future, you can own a gun that will kill 20 school children in a minute or so.”

    Snark, ingenuousness, or just unjustifiable hyperbole? Any of the three means a lie.

    “He was a law-abiding citizen. Until he wasn’t.”

    I agree but as any divorced person can tell you, you can’t stop crazy and there is *NO* way to predict what someone will or won’t do.

    “I live 45 minutes from Virginia Tech and know several people who were directly affected or involved in the massacre there.”

    It’s disingenuous of you to not point out that students, many combat veterans and trained citizens with carry permits, are banned from carrying on campus – and so was their ability to stop a massacre. Nine examples where armed citizens stopped mass shootings can be found here: http://bzfd.it/1OgXdf9.

    “But, a significant number of gun deaths are perpetrated by people who are, up to the point of pulling the trigger, law-abiding citizens.”

    If you’re quoting Leftist-leaning stats then you need to include that most of those gun deaths listed are, in fact suicides.

    “But, law-abiding citizens!” and “But, only outlaws will have guns!”

    I’m not sure where to even start with this failure of logic and, frankly, reality.

    Your position is to criminalize people who are not criminals now so you can penalize criminals later.


    “But, guns don’t kill people!”

    No, they don’t. Nor do knives, forks, and spoons, nail guns, hammers, or baseball bats (the #1 weapon of choice for murder in the US).

    A gun is a tool and the person who uses it is responsible for it – be for good or for ill.

    I’ve got three tours downrange and 30 years of training in the use of firearms – and I carry for self defense. I know many others in Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida who are just like me. The only way I’m a danger to you is if you act in a matter where I firmly believe beyond any doubt that you are a clear and present threat to my life or the life of another – and I will bear responsibility for my actions in a court of law.

    As I should.

    “But, a good guy with a gun!”

    Yes, there are MANY examples of where an armed citizen has stopped a robbery or other crime by being armed.

    “But, Chicago!!”

    You’re missing a point here – that gun control doesn’t work; look at Maryland’s crime rate versus Virginia’s as an example.

    “But, the safety of my family!”

    Here’s where you really need to go back to the Amicus briefs in Heller vs DC. The Founding Fathers *did* believe that people had the Right to own personal weapons as means of preventing crime and self-defense and that their wide spread use would discourage crime – that was true in 1775 and is equally true in 2015.

    Overall, your argument is emotional, snarky, and sadly typical of Statist positions on the Rights of others (individual Rights are bad, the State needs more control over the individual).

    I need to be very, very clear that you’re **not** an idiot though I would say you come across as naive and good-intentioned. Of course, we know where good intentions lead us.


    1. I appreciate the time it took to write all that. I can’t help noticing you went to great lengths to not discuss gun control, which is why I titled this “Let’s Not Talk About Gun Control.” What you’ve done is explain at great length why you won’t consider gun control of any kind. Which is, of course, your right.


    2. But, Maryland! Please scan to paragraph 6 in the Baltimore Sun article below and notice the mention of Virginia as a major supplier of illegal guns….

      “Making it harder for criminals to buy guns in Maryland is not enough. In New York City, where purchasing a firearm requires fingerprinting, as many as 90 percent of the guns found at crime scenes are purchased in another state. One of the most common states of origin is Virginia.”


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pretty sure your “baseball bat” comment is the canard! Seriously, cite your sources. Your arguments are in lockstep with those who have convinced themselves that the guv’ment could/would come and “take our guns.” Isn’t that why you bury them in the back yard? Think about the logistics of that for a minute, and the fact that there is currently little record of who owns how many and what types of weapons…. Where to start? Oh, we’ll collect those guns while we do the census, or while delivering the mail… And, BTW, it IS possible to be concerned about police abuse of power AND the unfettered availability of guns. But it takes more than the average level of Amurican smarts to entertain those two thoughts at the same time….


    3. “…lack the basic understanding of the history, culture, and precedents of doing so in the very society in which you live”

      The really sad thing is that you seem to accept mass school killings as part of your culture and something that is acceptable which is demonstrated by your lack conviction to do anything about it.


  35. Chris, this was an interesting read of your personal brain dump. It’s great to see how your mind works. However, I feel compelled to respond to much of it. Almost none of it would have done a thing to prevent these mass shootings. Let’s start with your list of what we should do:

    1. I grew up in New Jersey. Firearms are incredibly hard to get with detailed, lengthy background checks and long waiting periods. And yet, Camden and Newark and the state in general isn’t exactly a poster child for low crime rates. Despite being adjacent to states where one can’t exactly walk across the border and get a gun easily.

    2. Canada tried a national gun registry. They spent a fortune and wasted everyone’s money. They shut it down. What good is it anyway? All it does it make it so the police know where the gun was stolen from, after the fact. How would it have prevented any of these tragedies?

    3. As you’ve pointed out elsewhere, these people are law abiding citizens, until they aren’t. They’re mentally stable, until they aren’t. All your proposal will do is keep people from seeking help out of fear of ending up in some federal, 1984-esque registry for people who have seen shrinks.

    4. Capacity doesn’t matter. Firearm type doesn’t matter. A mass killer could easily do as much or more harm with a pump shotgun with the standard 5-shot limit. The gun is a devastating weapon and it never has to run out of ammo at all. They can just keep pushing rounds into the tube as they use them and the gun would never run out of ammo. I hope never to see this…but this is just standard
    hunting gear and it’s plenty lethal. Also, it’s what military and police use to open locked doors. I could also show you videos of people using revolvers with the speed and reloading capability as semi-automatic. Takes practice…but it’s doable.

    5. I don’t understand this one at all. People licensed to carry have been through the rigorous background checks you advocate for. If an unlicensed person is caught carrying concealed, they’ve committed a felony and go to jail. Do you think any of these mass shooters were stopped on the way to their deeds and let go by the police?

    6. As you’ve pointed out elsewhere, these mass shooters are law-abiding, until they aren’t. So, they’d probably get through all the licensing and so forth, so how does this help? It’s a ridiculous argument, as you’ve pointed out, to compare cars to guns. They’re not the same thing, and that door swings both ways.

    7. I fail to see what this federal agency would do that would help. Again, all the mass shooters you cited made it through the federal background check. What would the new agency do differently?

    Now on to some of your other points:

    The Second Amendment argument is done. It’s “settled law” as they say. So, dreams of taking away guns or making them harder to get, or requiring insurance, or regulating ammo…you can forget all that. None of it will pass muster for Heller and McDonald. Anything that makes it more expensive to keep and bear arms will be deemed as a burden on people of few means, and therefore a violation of their civil rights.

    “But, a significant number of gun deaths are perpetrated by people who are, up to the point of pulling the trigger, law-abiding citizens.” What do you deem “significant” here and what data are you pulling from?

    The WDBJ shooting was tragic and those people were indeed ambushed. However, using one case to invalidate all cases where guns are used effectively for self-defense is a logical fallacy. Same comment for Adam Lanza’s mother.

    Chicago: See New York City. Which borders New Jersey. Both of which have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and ample gun crime.

    “Let’s ignore the argument that a gun in the house is more likely to harm a resident — through accidental shooting, suicide, or domestic violence”. This oft-repeated trope is entirely false. It’s based on an old, discredited, biased study, which I’ve personally read, in detail. Did you?


    1. I appreciate very much the time you spent typing your comment. And the fact that you repeatedly underscored the title of — and my reason for — writing the essay in the first place. You should start your own blog.


  36. First of all you never mentioned the # 1 reason for gun deaths. Suicides account for the vast majority of gun deaths in this country. Take away the gun and there may be a small decline in suicides but people will find other ways to commit suicide.

    Your statement. “It’s true that a considerably larger number of homicides are committed by guns owned by people with criminal backgrounds and that they are likely to possess one or more firearms illegally.” is wrong. Should read,” …….are committed by PEOPLE with criminal background checks……. Hating the gun makes people start believing they are ALIVE and that these awful guns commit these horrible crimes while being possessed by the criminal. Your phrasing is totally out of touch. I have a carry permit and if you think that lives can’t be saved by carrying your profoundly misinformed. Your points are not well taken by me.


  37. Provocative article. But Swiss cheese has fewer holes. 😁 Here are but a few examples.

    “1. I think it should be much harder to own a firearm, whether a purchase, gift or inheritance.”

    Other than that tiny detail of the second amendment (it’s actually unconstitutional for the government to make our freedom harder to come by), you have an additional 300 million reasons why this won’t work. Making a gun more difficult to obtain does absolutely nothing about the 300 million firearms already in the U.S.. Assuming you could miraculously get as many as 90% to go away (which is logically impossible), you still have 30 million. Guns will always be available to criminals. No matter how hard you make it. You only make it harder for lawful citizens. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425004/mass-shootings-gun-ownership-common-sense-fallacy?target=author&tid=1506209

    “2. There should be a permanent national registry of every firearm in the country. Just like there is for cars.”

    See response to #1. Many of the guns in these shootings would have been legally registered. It prevents nothing. It’s instead a precursor to confiscation.

    A comment earlier completely destroyed this argument explaining how cars do not need to need to be registered on private property. You responded that “Cars aren’t firearms. Firearms aren’t cars.”

    Really? That’s your response Chris? ? *YOU* made the comparison between guns and cars. Remember? So the comparison is valid only when YOU make it?

    “3. There should be far deeper background checks before anyone purchases a firearm, and these background checks should be kept on file. Anyone wanting to purchase a firearm should forfeit any privacy regarding diagnosis and treatment of any mental illness, history of domestic or workplace violence, etc.”

    Scary stuff. If I exercise the 2nd Amendment I have to give up my privacy about taking anti-depressants? Or that I went to counseling for anxiety? Really?

    The bigger problem with this is even recognized by the liberal NY Times. Basically, thousands of nonviolent people exhibit the same patterns of behaviors as these mentally ill shooters, even those who are never violent:

    “Basically, potential gun owners should have to prove they are not dangerous to themselves or others before they are allowed to purchase a gun. Not the other way around.”

    Who gets to define “dangerous”? Some say Muslims are dangerous. Or black people. Or conservatives. Or Christians. I mean really? Who gets to decide what “proof” I must have that I’m safe? This is nothong more than guilty until proven innocent. It’s as unAmerican as it gets.

    The fact is that the higher the gun ownership, the less crime there is. 😉


    1. Speaking of the Swiss, their citizenry can arm themselves but not possess arsenals. Also, their mental healthcare is free. And their per capita gun death stats are enviable.

      Also, their cheese is awesome.


      1. Great article! I love the way that you unpacked the “concerns” raised by the NRA and other like-minded individuals. Speaking of Swiss cheese, don’t forget the chocolate!

        As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Switzerland, I feel it is useful to comment on the firearm situation in Switzerland. All males are conscripted into the Swiss Army at age 20. After basic training and service, they are considered reservists until age 30 (34 for officers). They keep their weapons at home but without ammo unless they are part of an elite, rapid response unit. 31% of households have firearms and many reservists, when they retire, choose to keep their weapons. To own a firearm, applicants must submit to a background check and mental health screening and undergo training on the legal use of firearms. The Swiss Weapons Law also covers certain kinds of knives, brass knuckles, and Tasers. 29% of households have weapons but the annual death rate is less than one in 200,000. Shooting sports are very popular across all socioeconomic classes and education levels.

        The Swiss have four official languages; Swiss German (a dialect of German), French, Italian, and Romansh (only spoken by ~50,000), as well as immigrants from around the world so like the U.S., it is a melting pot. Unlike the U.S. there is no Rambo mentality or survivalist/militia movement. Perhaps this is because the Swiss government is very decentralized with a weak Federal Government and direct democracy is in place as many political issues are decided by direct vote rather than voting by elected representatives or perhaps because the Swiss view guns as a fact of life not a part of their persona. There is no NRA equivalent in Switzerland who’s sole purpose is to block common-sense legislation.

        So what can be learned from this? Guns by themselves are ok unless they become part of an individual’s political or personal identity. For example, you don’t find the Swiss posting pictures of themselves on social media with their firearms. Somehow, we must find a way of changing public attitude of romanticizing weapons in the U.S. This won’t happen overnight but over decades and generations. Just as smoking is no longer considered glamorous thanks to decades of public service announcements, the same must be done with firearms.


      2. Also, I think we Americans need to reconsider the nature of freedom. For many of us freedom means being able to own firearms. Or not having to provide for other people in the community. I actually saw a car with the following two bumper stickers next to each other: “Freedom Isn’t Free!” and “Raise My Taxes, Lose My Vote.” What this basically says is, “I’d gladly sacrifice your son or daughter in Iran before I’d even consider paying to support social programs that help people.”

        To me, being a free American means being an active, voting, tax-paying, volunteering member of a society that is designed to elevate everyone — not just me — and to protect everyone — not just me. Of course, this makes me a socialist. But, I’m acutely aware that — like every other industrialized nation in the world — the US has run on a hybrid economy for the last century or more, an economy combining elements of capitalism and socialism that, when manipulated properly, builds wealth in boom times and provides for the destitute in lean times.

        The same can be said of firearms. Stockpiling an arsenal of weapons is a lot like hoarding wealth. It’s a selfish exercise that belies a bitter distrust of society at large. At least, that’s how it feels to me.


    1. Thank you! And how’s this for a coincidence? There’s a good chance that my feelings about guns and gun control started forming when I was a six year old sitting next to my granddad’s recording of “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town.” By Johnny Cash.


  38. I think that the first step in an evolutionary process to modify gun ownership behavior will be a requirement for personal injury and liability insurance. First, insurance is a State’s Rights area and not regulated by the Federal Government so each State will need to create their own insurance requirement for any guns present in the State (even if only temporarily in the State). Second, each firearm would be required to be individually listed on the insurance; by serial number if numbered or by description if the firearm does not have a serial number). Third, the insurance would be issued by private businesses and therefore would not constitute a government registry. Fourth, as an incentive to maintaining the insurance and promoting “best-firearm-practices” a tort-limitation (say $250,000) of liability would be enacted by State-law when the firearm is licensed; locked-storage is used; firearm-training is used; all permitting, registration and transfer laws are fully followed; and any theft of firearm is promptly reported. Fifth, in the event that the “best-firearm-practices” have not been followed any resulting injury and liability would be explicitly un-limited and extend to include anyone in the chain of ownership who did not follow the requirements enabling the tort-limitation.

    In essence this is a capitalist-solution to a behavioral problem. The State government would create a market. Private industry would enter to facilitate the transaction and manage the insured list of firearms. The insurance price would be established by the actuarial experience such that the true ownership of firearms, firearm numbers and firearm types could be differentiated; leading to individuals making personal decisions as to how many firearms they choose to own. Those without insurance or those who flout the insurance requirement will pay onerous financial costs for the consequences of their behavior. But ultimately people will likely opt to own fewer guns and whenever guns are transferred they will be transferred with increased transparency.


  39. I very much enjoyed reading your article. I thought your point-by-point approach was both informative and entertaining in its tone. Even more interesting were the range of comments you inspired from people on both sides of the issue. Personally I’m pretty much aligned with your position, which is to say that I’m not against private gun ownership but feel that the NRA has lobbied for and won far too many concessions for the gun industry that have contributed directly to gun violence in the US. One thing that occurred to me as I was reading through the comments and reflecting on the whole constitutional argument: I really don’t think most of the loud voices coming from the NRA and their minions actually give a shit about preserving the constitution or the intent of our founding fathers – they’re just using the 2nd amendment as a convenient and seemingly iron-clad legal barrier to any legislation or even dialogue about legislation that might put a damper gun sales. If the 2nd amendment had banned private gun ownership, it’s not hard to imagine that these same staunch constitutional defenders would be working just as hard to strike the 2nd amendment down as hopelessly out of date and irrelevant in these dangerous modern times.


  40. Fascinating to read the range of comments. “Let’s not talk about gun control” indeed! The NRA and gun manufacturers have been working in concert to flood the US with guns. And the manufacturers have profited. Their messages and fear-mongering have induced thousands to purchase guns of all styles. But why are present gun advocates so afraid of tighter controls on gun ownership??? Let’s talk about gun control! If you consider yourself an anti gun control advocate, is there any type of additional control you WOULD be willing to accept? (Three day wait, deeper background check, limit on total number owned, gun owners insurance, ban of semi-automatics, mental health check, training requirements). Thank you for this discussion all! I have found it very intriguing.


    1. Your question gets right at the slippery slope of gun advocacy. I’ve asked gun folks “how many bullets do you need to be able to fire in a single minute in order to keep your family safe?” That kind of talk gets quickly shut down by the counter “argument” that any more regulation at all will ultimately lead to “the complete annihilation of the Second Amendment.” And so on.

      Remember, hardly every gun owner thinks this way. But, going nuclear in this way is straight out of the gun lobby playbook.

      As for the discussion here, I too have found it quite intriguing! And largely respectful and even a little open-minded. So, those are some really good signs, eh?


      1. To your question of “How many bullets do you need to fire in a single minute to keep your family safe?” I would answer that I am quite sure that I have no idea how many. It would depend on who I am defending against I suppose. But I feel that any number I deem necessary would be none of your, or anyone else’s business, even though that limit has already been set by may states. That being the case, the second amendment has already been dramatically “Infringed” upon by such arbitrary regulation over the course of decades. The noose is already on this particular constitutionally granted “freedom” (if we can still even call it that), it’s just a matter of how tight gun-law advocates can get said noose before it is finally dead altogether.


      2. “Dramatically infringed upon with arbitrary regulation over the course of decades.” Are you talking about the most recent decades? Because if you are, there’s actually been more deregulation of firearms over the most recent decades than new “arbitrary” regulations. Can you tell me specifically how your rights as a gun owner are being infringed? Or is that also none of my business?


  41. I have a simple question. What frequency of random gun attacks would it take for America to take action? Once a day? Once a week? Once a month? Twice a day??. What is the breaking point? If there is one then why not make it now? It is the violent gun culture that kills people change culture you change gun use. But how do you get there? That’ s the issue.


  42. There are roughly the same amount of people killed by drunk driving as there are guns.(If you don’t count suicide, which I don’t) I don’t see anyone doing background check or any other checks for people buying alcohol even if they are a habitual offender of alcohol related crimes. ie DWI

    Also, you keep mentioning the Newtown guy, and said something to the effect that his mother wasn’t any safer with her guns. That is true because her Crazy son killed her and I’m pretty sure that he used her guns to commit the mass shooting. Insane people do Insane things. You can’t control everyone, if someone wants to hurt people they will.

    I don’t try to take away your right’s Please don’t try to INFRINGE on mine. With a Tax, or insurance or a what ever else you can come up with.


    1. GunOwner, from what I can tell, you read the title and the last sentence of the essay and absolutely nothing between them. I address car wrecks completely. Meanwhile, you’re basically saying that, because people die in other ways, we shouldn’t bother with gun deaths until we solve all the others. As for stricter restrictions on drunk driving,
      I can only guess you’ve been living in a cave. Oddly, with Internet access. Lastly, absolutely nowhere in my 3,200 word essay do I suggest taking away your guns. Not once. In fact, quite the opposite. You’d know that if you read it.


  43. I came for the comments lol I’m not for taking away any guns, I have many friends and family members who are responsible gun owners. I’m for starting at the root of the problem- firearm and ammunition manufacturing which has been shielded by ridiculous smoke and mirror laws enacted by the bought and paid for congress over the years, allowing unbridled sales and manufacturing in a 20 billion dollar industry – lobbied for by the NRA’s legal arm The NRA Institute for Legislative Action. If we want to start somewhere, follow the money. It’s easy – it stinks out loud.


  44. This is one of the best pieces I have read on the whole gun issue! I love the way you have broken it down and covered every area that is constantly spouted by the gun advocates!! You really nailed it!
    I sat down and read this with my 22 year old daughter. She is just starting college this year and I am terrified. I have never owned a gun, do not like them and never willingly had one in my home. I do however, understand the support of the second amendment and know that it will never be repealed completely. But I am hopeful that we will see some major reforms in the gun laws over the next few years.
    I would very much like to quote you on the site that I support (Everytown for Gun Safety) and would love to see you possibly post this and any additional writing you do on this subject on their Facebook page or webpage. I think you have a clear and concise style that will appeal to the more sensible gun advocates and, who knows, maybe turn a few of the fanatics heads enough to get them to listen!
    Great job!


  45. If you don’t own any ammo, of course you won’t feel like the guns make your family safer and you won’t be ABLE to use them to defend your family. You have to be licensed to operate a vehicle but not own one, technically. Plus driving cars is a “privilege” or so we are reminded every time we read something from the DMV, having to be licensed to buy a firearm is most definitely an infringement on your rights. The 2nd amendment does not say “…to keep and bear arms, (as long as you have a license)…” Point #7 on your list basically means that we are all guilty until proven innocent of a crime we never committed, which is a violation of your fundamental rights. When you rebut the whole “safety of my family” thing, you are basically saying you should have the authority to make the decision on how individuals keep their family safe, and what they think “safe” is. Plus the entire point of the 2nd amendment is to keep your family, yourself, and your country safe from domestic and foreign threats. Having a federal registry really defeats the whole purpose of owning guns to protect against tyranny. Basically giving them all the information about who owns what and how much ammo, really none of the gov’ts business. It’s obvious your strongly against guns for whatever reason, being a “gun owner” is mostly just because you have some heirlooms that may or may not be sentimental. Let me just say this, freedom isn’t cheap. I haven’t paid the ultimate price for it, I inherited my freedom as did most of the people my age did. About 99.9 percent of guns privately owned in our country are NOT used in crimes everyday. They usually sit where they are kept, in a closet or safe, and that’s where they stay until hunting season or shooting range. They used to teach gun safety in elementary and since they have gotten away from that, and our societies view of “morals” have gone in the toilet, we have seen more shootings in schools. The moment the gov’t starts asking unwarranted questions about guns is the moment you need them.


    1. ” … the entire point of the 2nd amendment is to keep your family, yourself, and your country safe from domestic and foreign threats.” It can be argued that, in reality, the 2nd Amendment accomplishes nothing of the sort. A loaded weapon in the home greatly increases the likelihood that a family member will be injured by one of the firearms already in the home.

      For instance, no matter how many guns I have, if you have even one loaded firearm in your home, the chance is far greater that you or your family will be injured by it because I have no ammo in my home. That’s statistical fact.

      Are the guns owned by US citizens keeping Americans safe from domestic threats? No. In fact, with more than 10,000 gun deaths each year compared to far lower numbers in every other developed country, it’s quite the opposite. Meanwhile, how are your firearms protecting the US from foreign threats? Seriously. When has a personally owned firearm stopped a threat to the nation?

      Take your time.


  46. What an absolute load of liberal BS crap. And I will explain my points. I will agree with you on mental health–however, WHO makes the determination if someone is mentally ill, and what specific diagnoses are covered under said mental illness?

    Your interpretation of the second amendment clearly states “well regulated,” but you conveniently neglected to mention that it states a well regulated MILITIA, and that the average American citizen is not a member of any militia. And, as you admitted, we gun owners hear the words “shall not be infringed,” which you also basically ignore. I am not a criminal, I have never shot an animal nor a human, nor do I have any malicious intention to ever do so. Therefore, I am innocent and in fact not guilty of a crime. I have passed all CBI’s that I have taken which are conducted by the FBI.

    You sir, also have absolutely no right to tell anyone what type of weapons they own, what caliber, or in what capacity. Just as I have no right to tell you what neighborhood to live in, what kind of car to drive, or what color. If I have committed no crime against humanity, you have no right to assume or pass judgement.

    So what exactly is the ballistic difference between a 9mm round or a .357 that has hoplophobes in such a panic? What is the real life difference between a magazine capacity of 10 rounds or 11?

    If all of us legal gun owners were truly mentally ill, As the left seems to believe, with 300 million guns in this country, wouldn’t there be an awful lot of dead bodies lying in the streets? But, you anti gunners also fail to admit that our of the roughly 10,000 homicides per year by gun deaths, 80% are criminals killing other criminals. You are truly making mountains out of molehills with statistics used with no perspective. You can also verify those numbers through the FBI and the CDC, and were a direct result of Obama’s study to “prove the rampant gun deaths,” which turned out to be not so rampant.

    Gun registry? Not on your life. You have no right to know how many guns I own, just as I have no right to know your income. Get over yourself. Your article is unfounded and as usual with the left, is based on irrational fear.


    1. I appreciate your comments very much. Especially since they exemplify precisely the purpose of my essay’s title. “Gun registry? Not on your life!” “You sir, have absolutely no right … ” These are the watchwords of a person with no interest in a reasonable conversation.

      “What is the real life difference between a magazine capacity of 10 rounds or 11?” Well, in an active shooter situation, it’s potentially one less dead person.

      Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure you didn’t read the whole piece. Nowhere in it do I, a liberal, make an argument that all “legal gun owners” are “mentally ill.” In fact, I don’t know any liberals who do believe that. And, as I stated, I am a legal gun owner.

      And finally, if by your figures 80% of the 10,000 homicides in the US each year are committed by criminals, that leaves 2,000 murders that aren’t committed by criminals. Every year. By your own reckoning. That, dear reader, is an enormous amount of gun violence. And still well above the global averages.


      1. Thank you for your follow up reply, to which I still don’t agree, but we each are entitled to our own opinions. First off, what the anti-gun crowd fails to admit is that the issue truly isn’t about GUN control. It is about CONTROL. These same people may not like or may be afraid of weapons, which is fine. Don’t own them if you have an aversion to them. I will say again, that these people have no legal right to tell anyone that others cannot own or legally use their firearms. Just as I have no right to tell anyone where they can or cannot live, etc.

        Magazine capacity is a ridiculous point, as most gun owners with semi-automatic weapons has more than one magazine. 10 rounds vs 11—one less dead victim? So it would be ok for someone to shoot 10 people versus shooting 11? I know that is not what you are saying, but that is what your counter states.

        More people in this country die every year in auto accidents, not to mention the additional ones killed by drunk driving. Add in the higher number of people who die from falling off of ladders, the exponentially higher number of people who die from medical malpractice, and while we’re at it, the number of human fetuses killed through abortion every day alone outnumbers the innocent people killed by gunshots per year. While I don’t know your personal opinion on abortion, nor do I wish to debate that, but a fair majority of the left does in fact support pro-choice, which is also an anti-life position. The numbers of people who die from those causes dwarf gunshot homicides, not to mention the various other causes of homicide. Speaking of numbers, while I agree that 2000 people needlessly die from gunshots, in a country of 320 million people, the huge white elephant is suddenly not the monster that certain people make it out to be. You statistically have a much higher chance of being killed riding a bicycle than you do being gunned down.

        My last point is this—the cities with the highest number of gun related homicides also have the strictest gun laws in the nation, and even the state of California. We see exactly how well the gun control laws worked in San Bernardino. I have yet to see anyone’s plan to get guns away from the criminals who but their guns on the street illegally anyway. You can pass all of the laws and restrictions you wish, but the fact remains that criminals do not obey laws or legislation. My view is this—guns in and of themselves are not the problem. Lack of value or respect for human life is the underlying problem. I routinely shoot 300-500 rounds every week. I have yet to shoot anyone, and in all honesty, I truly hope that I never have to pull the trigger against another person—I will do so if necessary, but I try to avoid those types of situations in the first place. More laws and legislation only serve to make it more difficult for most citizens to own firearms. Again, I agree that anyone who is mentally unstable should not have access to weapons, but who is to make those determinations. We have more pressing issues to work on than a relatively small number of fatal gunshots per year. Perhaps we should focus on enforcing the multitude of existing laws, and strengthening the criminal justice system? I see no reason why a proven without a doubt cold blooded killer should be allowed to walk the streets after 15-20 years for taking another life. Make the sentence not worthy of the risks to commit the crime. Why are pedophiles allowed out on probation and sometime only forced to register as a sex offender? I shouldn’t have to worry about some pervert moving in 3 doors down when I have young “targets” to tempt them! Yet our justice system routinely allows it.

        We have much bigger problems to address other than the relatively low number of gunshot homicides that we have. I trust that you have in fact looked at the FBI/CDC reports which do in fact show that 31,000 people die from fatal gunshots per year. I am glad to know that you simply didn’t blurt out that number as a doom and gloom tactic that the gun control crowd typically touts. Statistics may not lie, but they don’t always show the entire picture without being put into perspective.


      2. If you’d read the essay, you’d know that I address the whole “people die in cars” issue. The same applies for malpractice and ladders. Your argument that people die in other ways suggests that we must end death by all other means before you are willing to consider even the slightest changes in gun regulation. Hence [again], the title of the essay. Although, perhaps I should have called it “Let’s Not Read About Gun Control.”

        If you can’t find the time to read the entire essay, consider at least reading the section called “But … Chicago!” That’s where you’ll find my takedown of the rather absurd argument that cities with the strictest gun control laws have the most gun crime.

        And finally you say, “We have much bigger problems to address other than the relatively low number of gunshot homicides that we have.” By this line of reasoning we as a society should only address one issue at a time. Evidently you feel it should be ladders.

        Clearly you didn’t come here to debate any of the specifics of my essay. You came to write an essay of your own. You can start a blog for free. Why not go for it?


  47. I was simply using ladders as an example. My point is that we have much larger problems that end human life over gun violence, and that gun deaths are truly not the giant killer that many people make it out to be. Yet, the “safety patrol” typically points out gun deaths as their major point of contention. The entire first 1/3 of your view, while I respect your opinion, is a step by step guide of how to further restrict gun ownership and usage, based on tried and unproven methods, which still don’t address disarming criminals or punishing offenders. Controlling responsible citizens is not going to change matters one bit, as has been demonstrated already. Punishing the actual offenders may be the better way to control what you feel is a major issue. The gun control crowd is accomplishing nothing other than trying to make themselves feel better, yet does nothing to stop murders. The left simply picks and chooses their battles based on what they feel they believe that they have control over, yet ignore other just as deadly, if not more deadly issues, simply because it doesn’t fit their agenda. So many liberals don’t like guns—don’t buy one—but don’t tell me what I can or cannot own. I don’t agree with killing unborn fetuses, yet I am not telling people, nor am I trying to force unconstitutional executive orders against women who choose to do so. While I don’t agree with abortion, it is not my place to tell these women that they shouldn’t do it. They have their reasons for doing so, and I’m not going to stop them. They have to live with their own choices. Same thing here–I have my reasons for owning the guns I do, and the magazines that I do, and your side has no legal authority to change it simply because you may not agree. While we may not agree with everything in life, we also do not have the right to take their rights away because we don’t like what they do.


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