It's Time For A Conversation About The First Amendment

Politics & Current Events

Newtown, Connecticut has just experienced the single most horrid tragedy in our nation's history. The massacre at Newtown was carried out by a deeply disturbed young man, whom we are informed was routinely exposed by his (deceased) mother to the worst sorts of violent films, such as "The Terminator" and "The Matrix," and to videogames depicting the most graphic, soulless brutality, including "Call of Duty" and "Mass Effect." Yet we are admonished, once more, that to raise the issue of violent media in the aftermath of such tragedy is untimely or even opportunistic. It is, of course, neither.

It is clear to sensible observers, in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, that Hollywood and Silicon Valley bear almost as much responsibility for the deaths of children as the alleged perpetrator, Adam Lanza. Consider Hollywood: of the top twenty grossing movies of all time, fourteen teach our children that violence is the solution to all problems. Consider:

Avatar, Star Wars, the Phantom Menace, Transformers, and Revenge of the Sith all show that guns are the solution to all social inequity.

The Avengers teaches our children that giant hammers solve all problems.

The Dark Knight and its sequel, Spider Man and its sequel, tell us that society's ills, those that cannot be solved through "Web-slinging" or "Batarangs," are best cured by fists.

The Hunger Games demonstrates, in all its multimillion dollar glory, that arrows are the remedy to mankind's ills.

Pirates of the Caribbean advocates conflict resolution through guns and swords. The Lord of the Rings teaches us that swords and arrows resolve all troubles that cannot be dealt with at the edge of a volcano.

In each of these films, avidly consumed by young people such as Adam Lanza and, had they lived, his victims, violence is portrayed as the best and final means by which to deal with the inconveniences of modern life.

The only film in the top twenty that an objective observer would call remotely pacifist is ET: The Extraterrestrial, which suggests that problems can be solved through love, trust, and intelligence. Yet year after year, Hollywood churns out trash which suggests to troubled youth that all of its dilemmas can be solved by violence. A failing report card? Don a costume and shoot up a theater. An insoluble war in Korea? Kill yourself. Suicide, Hollywood tells our children, is painless.

Claiming that it is somehow inappropriate politicizing to point out how our current legal climate facilitates, or at least contributes to, these horrors is offensive. More to the point, the argument against relying on such events to discuss how our understanding of the right to so-called "free speech" has run amok rests on false premises.

In the aftermath of each of the most significant mass killings – San Diego, Calif. 1984 (21 killed, 19 injured); Killeen, Texas 1991 (23 Killed, 20 wounded); Columbine, Colo. 1999 (13 killed, 21 injured); Blacksburg, Va. 2007 (32 killed, 25 injured); Fort Hood, Texas 2009 (13 killed, 29 wounded); Aurora, Colo. 2012 (12 killed, 58 injured); Newtown, Conn. 2012 (26 killed, 20 age seven or under) – supposed advocates for "free speech" have repeated that the "answer" is more speech,  rather than the most moderate form of sensible and reasonable media control. This despite a media culture that glorifies, even extols and exalts in, the deeds of such killers, inevitably encouraging more to follow in their footsteps.

The logic is simple. Any clown with a cheap digital camera and an internet account can create a movie offensive to billions, and we must accept that as fact, no matter how many are killed as a result. Because Youtube, and Xbox Live, are out there, the only way to stop such crime is to ensure the availability of cheap internet video for those who are responsible and who will therefore use them for good. If more so-called "speech" were in the hands of those who would deter such attacks, then there would be a reduced incidence of crime or, at a minimum, a possibility of stopping such massacres in action. So the answer to violent media is more "speech," not less, just as in the context of the Second Amendment, the answer to government tyranny is more guns, not less.

No doubt this argument has a certain internal logic, but it is hardly uncommon for seemingly logical arguments to rest on a false premise. The false premise here is easily identified: the First Amendment "right" to "speech" will, of its own force, allow argument by people who would use their voices to protect our children against such abominations as "The Matrix." And yet, if those who favor media control must take as given the accessibility of cameras, computers, even such quaint devices as typewriters, surely First Amendment enthusiasts must also take as given that for good reason, or just as a matter of personal sensibility, many, or even most, law abiding citizens will continue to opt against exercising this right, or consuming such media.

As a result, it cannot be assumed that more and more "speech" or "press freedom" is somehow the panacea, or even a counterweight, to the onslaught of violence in our society. At a minimum, this reality check serves as a cogent response to arguments against regulating access to the sorts of media that have no legitimate connection to art or ideas, but that led directly in Newtown, Columbine, and Blacksburg to the most horrifically violent massacres, massacres in which "the Press" spread the killers' names, and fame, to the high heavens.

The debate over media control cannot take place in two juxtaposed theoretical worlds: one in which everyone has "free speech" and the other in which no one does. The hard questions arise because we live in the real world. In that world, some choose to exercise their First Amendment right responsibly, and others carelessly. (Carelessness includes failing to curb one's talk when faced with even a remote risk that someone with the worst and most venal motives could access a film studio.) And, of course, some people are simply evil, profoundly mentally disturbed, or both.

We have read, countless times, over the past week that Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison would not have recognized today's America, nor would they have agreed to an amendment guaranteeing the freedoms of slander, lese-majeste, hate speech, and pornographic violence to any yahoo with a camera or an internet connection. We must agree. While a so-called "free press" may have sufficed for its purpose in 1776, it is delusional to think that opposition to legitimate government is either necessary, or desirable, in 2012. It is time to have a serious, and respectful, conversation on the limits of expression where that expression harms society, and kills children.

We can choose to make it more or less difficult for everyone to gain access to words and images that have no justification except in the responsible press or in the hands of highly trained and licensed journalists and professors. Arguing that individuals could protect themselves and others from the threat of tyranny with mere blogs is beside the point if many are not willing to do so based on a well-founded difference of opinion as to risks and benefits of "free speech." Even the most respectable among us can be libeled or humiliated by hate speech in the present "Wild West" internet environment. Certainly we should be able to agree on ending access, once and for all, to the sorts of pornographic images and words capable of inspiring such unimaginable violence as ending the lives of 26 innocents, including teachers and children just 6 and 7 years old.

The Popehat editors.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

248 Comments

244 Comments

  1. Athul  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:29 pm

    I notice this post is signed, "The Popehat editors," but I have to wonder if Ken really signed on to this one.

  2. Hughhh  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:31 pm

    Guns don't kill people – offensive speech kills people. Cold dead hands, motherfucker.

  3. Mike  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:35 pm

    *slow clap*

    Brilliant.

  4. Rob McMillin  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:37 pm
  5. Grag  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:38 pm

    You are playing a deep game here. Curious to see how it plays out.

  6. Kevin Matheny  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:41 pm

    Nice job, although you may have laid the sarcasm on a bit thick.

    There are a couple of problems with your thesis. The first is that the linkage between the gun and the deaths is much stronger than the linkage between violent media and the deaths.

    The second is that the effect of limiting free speech is far greater than than of limiting access to guns. As you know better than most.

  7. TJIC  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:48 pm

    An old trope, but an awesome take on it.

    Thanks.

    It will, of course, change no minds and accomplish nothing.

    Analogies are useful tools when used for the Right Arguments. They are the tone-deaf rantings of autistic freaks who don't appreciate how These Two Things Are Different ™ when used for the Wrong Arguments.

  8. Troutwaxer  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:54 pm

    Guns don't kill people. Art kills people! Or something. I usually like your stuff, but it didn't work very well, perhaps because you tried too hard to ride the border between serious advocacy and major sarcasm… as a result, you didn't get very far with either. Also, much too complex, leaving me going both, "what da fuk?" and "who cares?"

  9. Patrick  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:55 pm

    Don't blame me. Blame the Baltimore Sun editorial page. All I did was change twenty words and add a paragraph to their editorial.

    Dettweiler.

  10. DOuglas2  •  Dec 19, 2012 @7:56 pm

    Hollywood — well, the message got through to Hollywood that cigarettes were evil, and now it is extremely rare to see a hero smoking on screen. Films and TV are no longer glamorizing smoking. This hasn't been a legal campaign, merely a campaign of moral persuasion.
    On the other hand, there have been dozens of well-constructed academic investigations on the effect of violent media such as films and games on violent crime. There is no there there. Yes, it seems "common sense" but real life doesn't always conform to what "seems obvious" to us.
    On the third hand, the "contagion effect" is well known and documented, (very weak for fictional media, strong for people close to the events and events that grab the interest of the media like these mass shootings have done) so there is actually something easy and simple to do, if the news reporting networks will agree to cooperate.
    On the fourth hand, it would be evil for any government to dictate how and what the media can report, so on the fifth hand, they must be shamed into it by the public.
    On the sixth hand, there are 50 states plus territories within the USA, and many subjurisdictions as well. There are also (aparrently to the surprise of many legislators) countries outside the USA. Everything that we might think of as a response to the mass killing has been legislated somewhere, so we can see a pre/post comparison to determine whether it worked.
    It would be extremely stupid to do something that we know will not work.

  11. John David Galt  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:00 pm

    I cannot buy the notion of moral causality from a work of fiction, such as those listed at the start of this post, to an act of force. A movie that actually urged its viewers to commit or support violence for some cause might create such a moral responsibility, but a fairy tale does not.

    Certainly if the tales you mention are making any common "statement", it is that there ARE evil people out there, and most of them are not going to be talked out of harming others — so they have to be stopped by brute force. This is why we have police and government — not because "force is a thing of the past" (it never can be), but to do it on our behalf when called for, in a way that minimizes harm to innocents and which is strong enough to deter those bad acts that CAN be deterred.

    The great policy question, which will never go away, is thus how we the public can manage our government so that it does that job as well, thoroughly, and fairly as possible, while not imposing costs (defined very broadly) on the public that are so great as to make it not worth having.

    But forget about pacifism unless you are truly willing to sit and be beaten up with as much patience as Gandhi. Some people can do it and believe it's worthwhile. I don't and don't.

  12. Rob  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:00 pm

    Blame the Baltimore Sun editorial page.

    I was wondering why that was such a slog to read.

  13. MathMage  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:05 pm

    Generally well thought-out analogy. The historical comparison seems inapt, though. While words seem to have become a better instrument of their political purpose (criticism of government, through exponentially faster and wider dissemination), arms seem to have become a worse instrument of their political purpose (resistance to government oppression, in light of the force commanded by modern militaries and even police forces). Their natural purposes of communication and self-defense remain, of course.

    I don't pretend to absolute confidence in this opinion, though. I don't have the historical background knowledge.

  14. Lizard  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:30 pm

    They won't get it.

  15. Kevin  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:39 pm

    I got halfway through this and thought to myself, "Frack, Popehat's been hacked!" Thanks for the context of the Baltimore Sun article. Poor writing and absurd premise all makes sense now.

  16. Phlip  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:41 pm

    Yay, equivocation!

    I think it's a standard logical proof form… a bunch of guys a few hundred years ago happen to write two things together on a list on a piece of paper, and therefore they are logically equivalent in every way, and disagreeing with one of them is exactly as horrible as disagreeing with the other. I think it's "modus forefathero ponens".

  17. Scott Key  •  Dec 19, 2012 @8:56 pm

    This would be a great Philosophy 101 exam question. Do the fallacies merely reach double digits? I stopped counting.

  18. Grifter  •  Dec 19, 2012 @9:41 pm

    @Patrick:

    Bravo!

  19. Robert White  •  Dec 19, 2012 @9:46 pm

    And yet every study says that these media _aren't_ reasonably nor rationally linked to violence as a _causative_ factor.

    You yourself have been exposed to all these media and are not gunning down anybody.

    The atrocities of the past were often greater and more profound and had no exposure to these materials at all.

    Whiles it is edifying to go off all half cocked about some news story, the evidence suggests that the connections you intimate are all false. We seek to find "the reason" for unreasonable actions as if there were just one, and should we find it, we would be free thereafter.

    Poppycock.

    Shit happens when shitty people do shitty things. And in all the trend for this sort of thing is falling away exponentially even as we type.

    Meanwhile, how many children have been shot in Africa in the last three days? Do you know? I know I don't. But I bet very few of those shooters just finished a round of Mass Effect 3.

    Side note, we know nothing of the actual shooter's internet habits. He completely destroyed his computers. The original "Mass Effect" guy was the _wrong_ _guy_ with a similar name. But that didn't stop this sort of internet lynching.

    You didn't mention that the mothers shooter was a "Chemtrails" and 2012 er either.

    Perhaps being exposed to wacko conspiracy theories did more harm than anything else. Even some of those theories being unproved rantings about how *wrings* *hands* disastrous media is!

    Calm down, then watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html.

    I find your piece TL;DR because I have heard this before and it's still wrong.

    Why should things proved to be unpleasant, but harmless, be harder to get again? Oh right, you don't like it, you have a theory about it being bad, its supported by your own imagined evidence about correlation and causation.

    In short, you promote censorship of bad things and you elect yourself to decide what is bad.

    There is a reason you don't get to make those changes.

  20. BobHale  •  Dec 19, 2012 @9:54 pm

    Maybe to Americans the intent of this post was immediately apparent by to my British eyes it seemed to be saying no more and no less than the actual words used.
    It seemed to be making a point about movie violence.

    Now I come from a culture where it is not routine for law-abiding citizens to own guns, not even routine for police to carry guns, and the satirical intent simply never occurred to me until I followed the newspaper link.
    Of course, having read that editorial, it's blindingly obvious what's going on here and perhaps the speed of my reading was matched only by the slowness of my wits.
    It does occur to me, though, that I am really, really glad that my cultural background predisposes me NOT to see that this post is about guns. The very fact that I didn't see it straight away makes me happy about my society.
    I don't know what, if anything, America can do about guns. I don't know what, if anything, America should do about guns. I do know that, personally, I feel rather happier to come from a country where nobody has them rather than one where everybody has them.
    And that while I feel a bit stupid for missing it on first reading, it's a stupidity I'm secretly rather proud of.

  21. MathMage  •  Dec 19, 2012 @10:07 pm

    Hah, I was wondering when we would start getting outrage from people who took this seriously.

  22. Lago  •  Dec 19, 2012 @10:17 pm

    I think I see what you did there.

    *reads Baltimore Sun*

    aaahhh. Now I see what you did there.

  23. Robert White  •  Dec 19, 2012 @10:34 pm

    It's worthy of outrage no matter who said it.

    And some of us aren't in Baltimore nor think the Sun is must reading. So we may not see what was done there other than repeat gorp. 8-)

  24. Chris R.  •  Dec 19, 2012 @11:10 pm

    Every time I watch Terminator I just want to get a gun and… shoot my Kinect. If that isn't the harbinger skynet, I do not know what is.

  25. MathMage  •  Dec 19, 2012 @11:11 pm

    Familiarity with the Baltimore Sun was hardly necessary to determine the intent of the post, though–only a rudimentary familiarity with the contents of this blog, and the politics of its writers.

  26. Aaron  •  Dec 19, 2012 @11:19 pm

    Patrick, you had me going for a while there. I saw the sentence about The Matrix being the worst sort of violent movie, and wondered if Ken had lost his fucking mind. And then I saw you were the author, and I grinned. Your satire, as always, is wonderful.

  27. darius404  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:19 am

    @Patrick

    That's one of my favorite forms of rebuttal. When an argument can be twisted for some other purpose by replacing a few words and examples, I don't think it's a very good argument.

    An argument for, say, gun control, that can also be used for censorship without making sense, probably isn't a sensible argument for gun control either. Good arguments are usually specific to the subject matter at hand. Certainly, similar arguments can be made for similar subject matters, but they'll still differ by more than just a few nouns, verbs, adjectives, and/or anecdotes. An argument that can be reduced to a sort of "mad-lib" form and deployed against a wide variety of things is probably very weak, and doing so, like you have here, reveals that very nicely.

  28. Delvan Neville  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:21 am

    From concerned, to confused…to amused. Had me going for a bit there, I kept thinking "Wait, is there another Popehat editor I didn't know about?" Well played, sir. Well played.

    To join in the parody, consider films like "Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square" and "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective" that encourage our children to be victims of violence through pacifism. Certainly we can agree on ending access, once and for all, to the sorts of images and words capable of inspiring being victim to such unimaginable violence as students being run over by tanks or activists assassinated for opposing social inequities.

  29. Ancel De Lambert  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:44 am

    @Patrick Holy shit, really?! I was gonna say that this was a sad example of satire, that had a tendency to meander and was unfocused, and had some clear grammar errors, but holy shit! A copy-paste job, really? Wow. That's some fine journalism, there.

  30. M.  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:14 am

    I know you're not serious, of course, but I have to wonder if anyone who actually knows anything about the Mass Effect series really considers them to be the kind of games that "precipitate violence." It seems to me that they're at least equally likely to train people to be heroes.

    At the time of the Columbine massacre, I was listening to the same music and playing the same games as those supposedly enjoyed by the shooters. Oddly, I've never shot anyone or anything up, although several people have insisted that's due to my sex.

  31. kadim  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:51 am

    Really hard to tell how serious you're being. You're joking, right?

  32. Dreampod  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:08 am

    Replacing key words in an existing text to change the topic in order to expose absurdity is a tough thing to pull off. Generally it requires a sufficient level of equivalence between the two things being swapped in order to produce a functional argument – both having the word 'Amendment' doesn't cut it.

    The Russian judge gives it a 4.

  33. wgering  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:16 am

    @Patrick: your satire often scares me because I know that somewhere, someone is making the same argument un-ironically. Case in point.

    I was a bit scared until the link to the Sun showed up though. Thought you might have had an unfortunate pony-trauma that left your brain scrambled.

  34. wurlitzer (one for the money)  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:34 am

    Wait, I'm puzzled about how parody is a strong form of argument here. One could take any argument about any harmful act, replace all mentions of the harmful act with something neutral or even benign ("giving cupcakes to…"), and end up with an absurd argument. Surely this is the ultimate straw man?
    I'm not making a point about gun control at all, incidentally. Although I live in the U.K., and greatly prefer a society where gun fatalities run in the low hundreds rather than tens of thousands, I recognise that hundreds of millions of guns in the U.S. already exist in private ownership, and that they are not going to go away – indeed, they are long lasting artifacts compared to most consumer goods. Maybe in that situation the answer IS 'more guns'; I genuinely don't know. I'm only commenting on this particular OP, which strikes me as misplaced.

  35. Robert White  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:59 am

    Because of Poe's Law you can never let the argument go unaddressed whether you think it's satire or not.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe%27s_Law

  36. Kat  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:19 am

    You brought up the specter of Jack Thompson! No cookie!

    If we outlaw guns, only criminals will own guns. Related: did no one learn about the Prohibition in school? I'm as upset about this as everyone else, but even I can see that the last time we tried a ban, it didn't work, and in fact it made the problem worse.

  37. Kevin Lyda  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:35 am

    Cute, but to be blunt, bullshit.

    The video games and films you mention are widely available throughout the English-speaking world. In fact you can find them in much of the non-English speaking world as well.

    Mass-shootings are far less common in English speaking nations that are not America.

    Those countries have much stricter laws on guns. Some largely ban guns, others just ban types of guns. All of them do background checks and have strict laws on how guns are stored, transported and used.

    Ignoring those facts is intellectually dishonest.

    How that fits into a discussion about what the 2nd amendment allows in terms of regulation and whether a further amendment should be passed to clarify that is a different, further topic. But this blog article is dishonest in that it flatly ignores data that utterly contradicts it. In a word, it is shameful.

  38. Laura K  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:11 am

    It was the remark about 18th century figures that both had me itching to respond and gave me the indication of what was going on with the post. This is important and very well delivered for all kinds of reasons.

  39. Oomph  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:12 am

    @Kat – "If we outlaw guns, only criminals will own guns". But there will be *fewer* guns in circulation and, unless you are describing the police and other law enforcement agencies as criminals, that clearly isn't true.

  40. Ted Baker  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:16 am

    I'm pretty proud of myself. It only took me a couple of paragraphs to feel my leg being pulled.

  41. GP  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:26 am

    [Sincere Congratulations]: That was excellent.

  42. Reed  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:43 am

    False equivalence. Speech is not subject to reasonable restrictions, whereas guns are. (cf. Heller)

    Having said that, the reactions will be far more amusing and indicative of the direction of this discussion than the post itself. Nicely done.

  43. Jerryskids  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:52 am

    Amen, amen, amen.

    And it's not as if the First Amendment is absolute – how could you possibly argue that it would not be reasonable to require, say, a three-day waiting period before publishing possibly dangerous material, background checks on writers, limits on the size and number of words used, registration with the government of writing instruments, etc.?

    Yet it is sickening that some people, intent on expressing their opinions, would insist that their 'rights' to free speech outweigh everyone else's right to feel safe from these madmen and their weapons of mass communication.

  44. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:59 am

    But this blog article is dishonest in that it flatly ignores data that utterly contradicts it. In a word, it is shameful.

    Awwww… Poor little Princess…

    What the blog likely doesn't ignore, because Patrick is likely aware of it, is that violent crime in English-speaking countries that isn't aren't the US are nearly double what they are in America.

    I realize that you think I have to justify why I want a semi-automatic rifle that looks like an M-16, but here's the thing…

    My reason is because fuck you, that's why. I don't have to justify a thing to you, cupcake, because it's a fucking RIGHT and I don't have to have a REASON to exercise a RIGHT.

    This post wasn't dishonest, it just says something you dislike. Tough titties.

  45. What!?  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:01 am

    This is a complete load of utter trash. You're trying to draw an equivalence between speech which *might, concievably* influence someone to do something, and guns which *definitely, provably* fire lethal projectiles. Guns are weapons and words are, well, words. You should be ashamed of this tripe.

  46. Luke  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:07 am

    Bravo Patrick!

    I was going to say that the writing wasn't up to your usual standard but then I saw the Baltimore Sun link and it all made sense.

    @M – Regarding Mass Effect: No. I would go so far as to say as anyone familiar with any of the 4 (Terminator, Matrix, Call of Duty, Mass Effect) would say that they precipitate violence. But they are popular, involve guns, and some of them have scary titles!

  47. Luke  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:09 am

    Random aside: Has anyone won a game of Civilization WITHOUT destroying at least one other civ?

    I mean, if people are really wanting to attack a video game for promoting violence, that would be the one!

  48. Bren  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:30 am

    lol@Luke

    I heard KONY played Civ IV Warlords. He even planned his attacks using the barbarian mission.

  49. Lucy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:32 am

    @ Scott Jacobs That comment was sexy.

    This post had me sad while I was reading it, that my favorite blog had gone off the deep end. Now I'm just embarrassed that I didn't have enough faith in Popehat to realize something else more intelligent was actually happening.

  50. Tarrou  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:34 am

    @Luke Civ 5, culture/science victories all day! It's very situational to the map, you need a quiet and easily defended corner, but very doable.

  51. G Elloitt  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:39 am

    Really?

    "Newtown, Connecticut has just experienced the single most horrid tragedy in our nation's history."

    Mr Stearns must not know about the Bath School disaster in 1927. I'm not sure but I don't think video games had anything to do with the original "single most horrid tragedy in our nations history". It was caused by something even more sinister….Taxes !

  52. Jess  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:43 am

    Patric’s sarcasm is kuro obi level.

    @Kevin Lyda. It is a common misconception that America has a higher murder rate due to higher rates of gun ownership.

    There is a study, from the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy – title "Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” Found here http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, the answer is no. And not just no, as in there is no correlation between gun ownership and violent crime, but an emphatic no, showing a negative correlation: as gun ownership increases, murder and suicide decreases.

    The findings of two criminologists – Prof. Don Kates and Prof. Gary Mauser – in their exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and violence rates show that . . . .

    Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. The study found that the nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000 population) have a combined murder rate three times higher than that of the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000 population).

    For example, Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland's murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe. Sweden and Denmark are two more examples of nations with high murder rates but few guns.

    Gun ownership and gun control is an emotionally charged issue in light of recent events, further evidenced by Obama’s speech yesterday. However, gun controls should be based on facts and logic, not emotions.

  53. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:43 am

    guns which *definitely, provably* fire lethal projectiles. Guns are weapons and words are, well, words. You should be ashamed of this tripe.

    What is this, Pansy Week at Popehat?

    Yeah, guns fire things out the end…

    And they do it all on their own, without any Human Agency whatsoever. They just float into buildings and…

    What?

    You mean a person has to knowingly procure one, transport it, and then knowingly point it and then pull a trigger?

    Well fuck, I guess it isn't the gun's fault after all. Shit.

    You were so close, man. Try again, I'm sure you can do it, dude…

  54. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:48 am

    I am going to wade in with my usual inane ramblings.

    I think that what society in general doesn't get is that ~4% of population is composed of sociopaths. I am using this word in the clinical sense not in the "I think that you are a bad person and I am going to call you Hitler" sense. "Normal" people absolutely can NOT understand the sociopath. They portray the things that might cause a "normal" person to go over the edge as the things that cause of the sociopath's insanity. Here is the problem, a sociopath does not have feelings, think hard about that for a second. A SOCIOPATH HAS NO FEELINGS. They don't get angry. They feign anger, but they do NOT feel it. This state of being is about as foreign of a mental state as one could have. No fear, No guilt, No empathy, No hate, No joy, No love. When the Columbine killings first came out I felt sympathy for the poor little goth kids that were picked on to the point of rage and got back at their tormentors (my "normal" feelings at work). A week a go I watched the surveillance video's combined with the 911 calls. These kids were not poor picked on weirdo's they (or at least one of them) were sociopath/s.

    As a society we do not want to accept and understand that sociopaths exist. And I would say a very large percentage of our laws are aimed at these people. Sociopaths don't debate, because they don't feel righteous nor import, nor morality. Sociopaths are manipulative and conniving they aren't concerned about how what they do will turn out. And we as a society wring our hands and justify and rationalize trying to come to an answer for what we are unwilling to see.

    I guess I am lucky because my mother was a sociopath. For me the futility of the gestures made to fix/cure/understand sociopathy seem obvious. Maybe after a few more of these tragedies we will finally see that the prescription for this problem isn't the same tired garbage that we have rehashed a million times, maybe it is time for a different view of the problem instead of the same tired rehash of solutions that are not going to work.

  55. Jess  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:50 am

    Lizards comment "they won't get it" – wins the thread.

  56. Wesley  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:51 am

    The best part about Patrick posts is the comments that are fooled by him.

  57. Luke  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:55 am

    @Tarrou – Normally my getting a quiet, defendable part of the map involves me first taking it from someone else :)

    I haven't played much V though, just haven't had the time. Been planning on grabbing the expansion for enjoyment over the holidays so I'll have to give the culture/science path a whirl. I'm not holding out much hope though, some of those other leaders are just punks!

  58. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:02 am

    This tripe was from the Baltimore Sun? Somebody run out to Loudon Park Cemetary and hitch a dynamo to Mr. Mencken. Even if you allow it to revert to concern over guns instead of words, it is hysterical, condescending, confused, irrational, dull, and tiresome.

  59. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:06 am

    Most of the time, I go for a pure tech path in Civ, and rarely go to war unless attacked. Even then, I wait until they surrender; I rarely go for the kill.

    Alpha Centauri, on the other hand… something about that game brings out the worst in me. Perhaps I just get too into playing Chairman Yang for my own good. (You'd think I'd favor the Morganites, but, perhaps showing the biases of the designers, I easily win as the Hive, the Academics, or the Gaians, but could never win as the Morganites. OTOH, the Pirates kick everyone's ass if you 'cheat' and create a flooded world. I never played the Fundies, as their anti-tech bias is totally counter to my interests. I did pretty well as the Free Drones, I recall.)

  60. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:25 am

    My only comments:

    1. Patrick can do real satire. I'm always snickering at my own joke two paragraphs in and blowing it.

    2. I'm shocked, shocked at Patrick revealing the joke just a few comments in. It's like Andy Kaufman stopping midway into a routine and going "naw, guys, just kidding."

    3. People not getting the joke is a constant joy.

    4. I can't, off the top of my head, thing of a topic other than guns that generates such swift and consistent rage from both sides at the fact that people hold and express different views.

  61. Todd E.  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:26 am

    What broke this for me was the comment "The Batman movie and it's sequel".

    The first Batman film (Adam West, etc.) stood alone.

    The second Batman film (Michael Keaton) had 3 sequels.

    The third Batman film (Bateman) had 2 sequels, and one of the major themes of the trilogy was, in fact, the lack of effectiveness of violence as a solution for problems.

    The likelihood that the writer wouldn't know that there was a third Batman movie out and that the trilogy contained these major themes at this site was…unlikely.

  62. Lucy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:30 am

    I understand that personality disorders like sociopathy or narcissism are not treatable, whereas mental disorders like bipolar can be. Those are just examples, and I may be wrong.

  63. Beth  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:43 am

    Other than insults, do you have anything to add to the discussion, Scott? Specifically, you claim that "violent crime in English-speaking countries that isn't aren't the US are nearly double what they are in America." Care to point to a source? Because otherwise a lot of us are going to conclude that your right to own those toys that make you feel so good does not trump our right to continue breathing.

  64. Jonathan Gladstone  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:50 am

    OK… so you're saying that gun control is not the answer? Certainly there are places where gun availability is not a problem (e.g. Switzerland), and gun control is no guarantee of low rates of gun violence (insert argument by analogy with Prohibition here). That said, gun control is not the same thing as gun prohibition. It should be possible, for example, to prevent people who have been convicted of weapons offences and/or diagnosed with uncontrolled mental illnesses from purchasing guns legally. It should also be possible to limit the possible damage by, for example, controlling the availability of fully automatic weapons and of large magazines. It's all a matter of where we draw the line. Don't agree? Then maybe everyone should be able to buy nukes without a license. (And yes, reductio ad absurdum is entirely appropriate here.)

  65. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:02 am

    @ Beth • Dec 20, 2012 @8:43 am

    …Because otherwise a lot of us are going to conclude that your right to own those toys that make you feel so good does not trump our right to continue breathing.

    Civilian ownership of deadly weapons does nothing to increase the inherent danger to your daily life. If it did, we would be banning the ownership of automobiles.

  66. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:05 am

    The "Mass Effect" reference revealed the joke to me. If you haven't played this trilogy (THEN SHAME ON YOU, it's the best sci-fi ever), it gives you a choice of violent or non-violent solutions to many of the situations, and consequences for choosing the evil path.

  67. Jess  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:05 am

    I can't, off the top of my head, thing of a topic other than guns that generates such swift and consistent rage from both sides.

    Hmnn – I dunno – I seem to recall some pretty heated discussions RE pro-choice/pro-life.

  68. Waldo  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:10 am

    "An argument for, say, gun control, that can also be used for censorship without making sense, probably isn't a sensible argument for gun control either."

    Or, much more obviously, it doesn't make sense because the two things are very different.

  69. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:11 am

    Let's keep this thread civil, please.

  70. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:11 am

    Fully automatic weapons are already highly regulated in the United States. The fact many people, including Americans, thinks they are NOT is one reason it's hard to have any kind of meaningful debate on gun control — there's profound ignorance about the reality of what regulations already exist. You can't discuss changes to laws if you don't know what the laws are.

  71. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:12 am

    @Kevin Matheny • Dec 19, 2012 @7:41 pm

    The second is that the effect of limiting free speech is far greater than than of limiting access to guns. As you know better than most.

    I would argue that without civilian access to deadly force, organized crime can more easily influence free speech. You can't have true free speech if the individual cannot defend himself from the threat of force (be it legal or illegal force he is being threatened with).

  72. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:20 am

    Care to point to a source?

    Sure thing, princess…

    Crime rates in Canada

    Australian crime report

    <a href="http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/period-ending-june-2012/stb-crime-in-england-and-wales–year-ending-june-2012.html#tab-ViolenceUK crime rates – Download the XLS file, and check out tab A, sweety

    Gun Control does nothing to stop violence. In fact, it makes it easier because the weak and/or isolated have no means of protection.

  73. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:25 am

    Sure thing, princess…

    Crime rates in Canada

    Australian crime report

    UK crime rates – Download the XLS file, and check out tab A, sweety

    US crime report for violent crime.

    Gun Control does nothing to stop violence. In fact, it makes it easier because the weak and/or isolated have no means of protection.

  74. Laura K  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:25 am

    Scott…If you've ever taken a foil, floorstone burn or dog bite to the nipples you might concede that titties are not tough.

  75. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:25 am

    Again, let's be civil, and avoid names, please.

  76. Toddsler  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:26 am

    The ending to the Mass Effect trilogy is enough to drive anyone to violence.

  77. piperTom  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:28 am

    Ken: "I can't, off the top of my head, thing of a topic other than guns that generates such swift and consistent rage …" Abortion?

    Both issues have this in common: all sides have access to the same set of facts. Therefore they don't agree on anything.

  78. Kel  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:28 am

    A Modest [Modern] Proposal

  79. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:29 am

    And Mexico: Mexico gun ownership rate: 15 per 100 people. Mexico's gun homicide rate: 9.97 per 100,000.

    Guns. Are not. The problem.

  80. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:30 am

    The ending to the Mass Effect trilogy is enough to drive anyone to violence.

    Hippy. I liked the ending fine.

  81. Laura K  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:33 am

    Sorry for any incivility–meant to joke

  82. Patrick  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:38 am

    I didn't see any incivility in your comment, Laura.

  83. Jess  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:42 am

    @Laura – nah – you slay me :-) Ever hear Jeff Foxworthy and the "beaver nipple" story? Was exactly what I thought of when you said that.

  84. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:44 am

    @ Kevin Lyda • Dec 20, 2012 @5:35 am

    Mass-shootings are far less common in English speaking nations that are not America.

    Those countries have much stricter laws on guns. Some largely ban guns, others just ban types of guns. All of them do background checks and have strict laws on how guns are stored, transported and used.

    Yes, it is true that mass shootings are less common in the rest of the industrialized world. It's also true that tornadoes are far far less common across the earth than they are in America. There are reasons for this, but blaming guns for the behavior of disturbed individuals is like blaming U.S. irrigation for extreme weather events. It is just one factor contributing to the event and it happens to involve a cherished freedom.

    Have you considered that most other 1st world nations are culturally homogeneous as compared to the U.S.?
    Have you considered that the family structure is generally stronger, or more social nets exist in the rest of the 1st world as compared to the U.S.?
    Have you considered that mental illness is less stigmatized and more free care for such problems is available in the rest of the world?

    The United States is a cultural melting pot with a disintegrating family structure. Here's a quick look at some data presented in 2010 by the NY Times.
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/single-parents-around-the-world/

    As you can see, The U.S. (and UK and a few other European nations) has about 20% of all families as a single-mother household. All those other nations have, as you said, stricter gun laws. To me, its easily arguable that the removal of fatherhood contributes to these mass murders more than guns ever did. We've made divorce an easy process that generally removes the father from the child's life (because the courts generally award most custody rights to the mother), and I believe any increase in mass shootings are one result of that.

    Dads are the boundary keepers. The big job of the father is to tell kids, sometimes quite forcefully, when they're out of line. Kids that grow up not understanding boundaries do things like shoot up schools.

  85. Toddsler  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:53 am

    Hippy. I liked the ending fine.

    Sure, it was fine. The rest of the game was awesome. It should have been awesome. Not red, green or blue. :)

  86. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:54 am

    Sure, it was fine. The rest of the game was awesome. It should have been awesome. Not red, green or blue. :)

    There was a green pill?

  87. En Passant  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:59 am

    Phlip wrote Dec 19, 2012 @8:41 pm:

    Yay, equivocation!

    I thimk yuo mipsselled "moral equivalence".

    We can eliminate confusion about rhetorical concepts by making its public propagation a felony. We can trust prosecutors to exercise their discretion to reduce appropriate cases to misdemeanor misspelling.

    The First Amendment is not absolute. Otherwise people could shoot off their mouths any way they wanted. Somebody would get butthurt, and blood would run in the streets.

    That would drive up flood insurance rates, and millions could not afford to feed their children.

    Won't somebody think of the children?

  88. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:02 am

    @Jeremy Yeah, they added one because whiney little pansies bitched that the thing someone else made didn't live up to their dreams.

    I might have taken issue with the whole Mass Effect ending brouhaha.

    I thought the ending was perfectly fitting. When I say "liked the ending fine", I mean "it fit with my expectations for the ending and I was not disappointed in any significant way, save that it was an ending to a wonderful game and series".

    @Laura K – *I* certainly didn't detect any incivility in what you said.

    My stuff, however… ;)

  89. Laura K  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:04 am

    Hey, good, Scott. May you and your nipples never encounter the fates I detailed…unless you deserve it. (Snerk)

  90. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:06 am

    @Scott

    Well, I only played through the ending once. I chose to destroy the reapers. The ending for that seemed entirely appropriate to me. Yes, the reapers all die, but the galaxy gets set back to the interstellar-travel stone-age for a while, and all the characters that you care about likely get killed trying to accomplish this. Seemed very appropriate to me.

  91. Brian H  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:24 am

    I think I enjoy the serious responses to the article more than the article itself. I love it when Patrick gets all satirical and the comments get crazy.

    I agree with Ken. You gave up the joke waaay too early.

  92. Laura K  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:24 am

    Jess–YES. YES! I love that story. especially the beginning when the guy is trying to pitch it to Foxworthy who says: "you have my attention!"
    The "hoo hoo" story is my other favorite but that is less relevant here…
    Patrick (thanks for the email), and Jess and Scott I should just learn NOT to comment on stuff during finals; I end up operating on the 'apologize as precautionary measure' auto-pilot.

  93. Oomph  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:47 am

    @Scott, Perhaps you are referring to another aspect of the data, but I'm slightly confused about why you are using the 'UK crime rates' to support your argument when they show a decline in violent crimes since the introduction of the Firearms Act in 1997?

  94. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:50 am

    An overall rate decrease, but an increase of 89% in gun crime.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6438601/Gun-crime-doubles-in-a-decade.html

  95. JustinM  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:51 am

    As top the mass effect ending conversation, yes the ending was fine but there was a complete break down in continuity. Somehow my party members that I took with me to the final battle wound up back on the Normandy when it crashed down on planet unknown and I being some how immune to this magical trans-location am dead.

    To get back onto the main topic now, 90% of articles or discussions I have read on this are basically black and white, there is only ever one thing that causes these terrible events, but in truth if you take a long hard look at any of these one things alone (save maybe for the mental illness factor to some extent) the data comes out on the side of it not being the cause.

    The truth is the society is so much more complex and if you really want to deterministically find the cause every single aspect, every single moment of the perpetrator's life has to be analyzed to the nth degree.

  96. Oomph  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:58 am

    And yet firearms offences in Scotland are reportedly at a .

  97. Oomph  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:59 am

    Damnit, needs an edit button. Firearms offences in Scotland are reportedly at a 34 year low.

  98. Kasey  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:00 am

    You sons of bitches.

    The entire time I was reading that, I was thinking "There is NO WAY Popehat is arguing in favor of restrictions on the media like this." I read the whole thing several times, thinking there was something I missed. some hidden joke or something.

    My satire detector is obviously broken. Ugh.

    you sons of bitches.

    much love.

  99. David MacGuire  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:06 am

    Including the shooting at Fort Bliss was mistaken and wrong. It was not a mass shooting, like the others, and NOT workplace violence, but rather an act of Islamic-influenced terrorism.

  100. AlphaCentauri  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:08 am

    Our culture does promote violence as a solution to problems. You don't even have to look at movies or video games. I saw a list someone had drawn up of the type of history questions high school students should be able to answer to meet the state standards. 75% of the questions related to wars and battles. 0% related to diplomacy or even the socioeconomic factors that led to the wars in the first place. The government isn't going to teach children to question the value of using violence for solving problems if it's going to expect them to register for the draft when it's all done, of course.

    Also: It's bogus to say that what we see on TV and in movies doesn't influence attitudes. Advertisers pay dearly for time on TV because they have data that shows it influences behavior and attitudes very much.

  101. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:21 am

    "“Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and — thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.”" (Robert Heinlein)

  102. Kinsey  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:23 am

    But there will be *fewer* guns in circulation and, unless you are describing the police and other law enforcement agencies as criminals, that clearly isn't true.

    Oomph, if that's supposed to make us feel better…it doesn't. I really don't see how a reduction in the number of legally owned guns is a good thing if the criminals still retain access to theirs. Which they will, and no one is trying to say they won't.

    Gun buy backs, gun turn ins, guns for gummy bears – whatever. Even if the government had both will and means to decree an immediate halt to all gun production, a whole bunch of guns would flood the market before it went into effect. [AR-15s are flying off the shelves. Every friend we have who ever spoke casually about buying a gun, but never did, is now frantically calling the Hub for advice on where to get them, how much to pay, how many to get, etc. etc.] Plus you'd still have the 270 million guns that were already out there, and you know that's a low number. This is a big ass country with two very long, very permeable borders and a whole bunch of ports through which lots of nasty stuff is smuggled every day. (Shipping containers represent a much larger security hole than airplanes.)

    In short, a war on guns would be as effective, as costly and as runious as the war on booze or drugs.

    PLUS – there are not enough politicians in either House or Senate for President Obama to get any kind of “meaningful” – for whatever value of meaningful you care to assign – gun reform on his desk.

    So WTholyF are we still talking like it’s a realistic possibility?

    I don't believe – I honestly do not believe – that anyone who claims to be in favor of gun "control" or gun prohibition is truly sincere. I think even the staunchest, smuggest, most hysterically hectoring gun grabbing bien pesant knows deep down inside that guns are regulated about as well as they can be right now and that there's no hope of rounding them all up. It's just that talking about it makes them feel good, and righteous, and civilized and educated.

    We don’t have a gun problem. We have a mental health problem and, perhaps, a gun glorification problem. Hey – maybe we need to take a look at hip hop?

  103. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:34 am

    OMG Lizard that is the line in the Velvet Acid Christ song that I couldn't (was to lazy) figure out.

    TY :)

  104. Grifter  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:37 am

    @Kinsey:

    Well, I do think there is a difference between some level of gun "control" (as you put it), and the often ridiculous measures proposed by some in the movement identified as such, in much the same way that "the left" and "the right" encompass things from the "reasonable but I don't think I agree" all the way to "holy crap, that's beyond the pale". Gun regulation and gun control are, to my understanding, technically identical terms, no? (though, I do disagree with the idea that they're regulated as well as they can be…I think there are some purely stupid laws, and some purely stupid loopholes, mostly due to our inability as a country about certain issues reasonably, but that's a different point).

  105. eigenperson  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:41 am

    While "mad lib ad absurdum" — taking an argument for one thing and replacing the nouns with other things to create an absurd situation — is fun (I have been guilty of it myself) and an effective way to preach to the choir, it shouldn't convince anyone of anything, unless your analogy is really good.

    And this one is not, unless unbeknownst to me someone just murdered 26 people with his mother's Star Wars DVDs.

    Any argument can be made unsound by substituting fresh fruit for all the nouns. That doesn't make the original argument unsound.

    P.S.: Giant hammers DO solve all problems.

  106. Luke  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:41 am

    Nate Silver had some interesting gun demographics the other day which said 47% of whites own guns vs 21% of African Americans. If guns were a primary factor in murder and violent crime rates you would expect the rates to be higher among whites, I mean, Hey they have twice as many guns! At the very least you would expect it to be close. Instead the murder rate is almost eight times higher among African Americans.

    Guns aren't the cause of that discrepancy. Violent crime is a serious issue. The discrepancy between the crime rates is a serious issue. Gun control is just a sideshow.

  107. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:46 am

    And this one is not, unless unbeknownst to me someone just murdered 26 people with his mother's Star Wars DVDs.

    He also didn't do it with an "assault weapon", or any sort of assault rifle.

    So why are we talking about banning them? Ok, one of them is already banned, but not the other…

  108. Rob  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:50 am

    Nice.
    You had me going there for a minute, right from the first sentence, until it dawned on me.

  109. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:00 pm

    @AlphaCentauri • Dec 20, 2012 @11:08 am

    Also: It's bogus to say that what we see on TV and in movies doesn't influence attitudes. Advertisers pay dearly for time on TV because they have data that shows it influences behavior and attitudes very much.

    Advertisers have data that says whatever they want it to say, they're selling a product, and the product is time on major media outlets. They are *NEVER* going to tell you, or even let themselves believe that media doesn't have influence. That would be like telling a customer who walked on a car lot that all the cars on the lot are broken.

    I've not known a time in my life that I wanted to watch TV less than I do now, all my friends feel the same way. With only FEW exceptions in the higher age ranges, everyone I know is watching TV less and browsing the internet more. The human mind is not a wall that simply reflects what's painted on it, it's a reactive substance itself that actively chooses what it exposes itself to within the limit of its own perception.

    I've watched thousands of hours of violent movies in my time, most of those involving modern weapons of some sort. I've played hundreds of video games in my lifetime, if not thousands. 95% of them had some depiction of violence, many of those gun violence. Yet, despite all this, I don't own a gun, I've never sought to own a gun. I've never picked fights with anyone. I don't go to seedy bars to get into brawls or try to become part of 2nd degree murder in any fashion. I am not violent.

    These kids who shoot up schools lacked fathers, and their (by and large) single mothers used whatever cheap babysitters were available to them.

  110. James C  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:12 pm

    From Patrick, I expect the sarcasm, and thought it was excellent. But when I saw the Baltimore Sun article, I was ashamed that people actually "think" this way. In either case, I could never share this with certain friends because they would see the line of reasoning presented as entirely logical.

  111. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:15 pm

    First they came for my free speech and press then religion then they moved to get rid of my 4 & 5 amendments now the final nail in the coffin of our rights is the most important the right to fight back and it is the most important one for our so called leaders is to strip us of the only amendment that preserves all the rest of our rights and that is the second amendment remember if our leaders are not scared of us the will take advantage of it.

  112. SPQR  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:16 pm

    Nice job Patrick, although I was astonished to see how many people here were offended by the piece as though it was something that required them to immediately rebut …

  113. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:36 pm

    I googled Velvet Acid Christ.[1]

    I am no more informed now than I was before I did so. Proving that I am, in fact, 47, despite my fervent wish that it was otherwise, my only response upon reading their site was "what is this i dont even", and I went back to tracking down null pointer errors.

    They quote Heinlein, you say?

    [1]Try to imagine how you would parse that sentence, oh, 20 years ago. Also, "Did you see the new cheezburger? It's sooooo cute!"

  114. David  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:48 pm

    I agree with the premise that the fame and glory available to an otherwise indistinguished basement dwelling sociopath is a powerful incentive to undertake violence on a grandiose scale.

    Congress has as much right to pass legislation limiting the exercise of the first amendment as they do to limit the exercise of the second.

  115. SPQR  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:54 pm

    Ha, Patrick, you brilliant dog you.

  116. Kevin Lyda  •  Dec 20, 2012 @12:58 pm

    I am stunned by the ignorance and sexism in Jeremy's comment.

    First, the vast majority of mass shootings in the US are done by white males. So I'm not clear what a more culturally diverse population has to do with it. Which I doubt is a true assertion as most countries are "melting pots" of some form.

    And your comments about strong dads being needed sounds like something out of a bad 1850s parenting manual. And you even note that countries like the UK have single parent homes as much as the US (in fact they exceed it).

    The one decent point is that health care is better in other English speaking countries. Yes, the nationalised health systems are better and cheaper than the US privatised system.

    Lastly someone else pointed out that other nations have higher violent crimes. I don't know exhaustive figures, but for the UK a large portion of those violent crimes happen when one or more parties involved has alcohol. If you honestly think guns would be a positive addition to such situations, you're being silly.

  117. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:19 pm

    @ Kevin Lyda • Dec 20, 2012 @12:58 pm

    words

    Did you major in liberal talking points at the university?

    1) For the sake of argument, I'll concede to you without evidence that most mass shootings are done by white males. Do you honestly believe that most gun crime/violence in the U.S. is committed by white males?

    2) What do you have against encouraging the presence of a strong father? Do you believe that single-parenthood contributed nothing to these mass shootings?

    3) Other countries may have a mix of cultures, but no other country on earth is as diverse as the United States. Canada tries to claim they are, but if you visit Canada you see their cities are VERY balkanized, with various cultures fixed into specific districts (by design or not, that's the case). In the United States it is NORMAL to have extreme diversity in a dense package. This means seeing all major religions and all major races represented in a plurality of areas as small as apartment complexes (this is particularly true in Los Angeles).

    4) Possession of a firearm while intoxicated in the United States is a felony just like driving while intoxicated (oh yes, that other deadly weapon we all have, but would never ban ownership of… cars). I see you don't know gun law that well, it's a shame because you're trying to have an opinion on the topic.

  118. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:22 pm

    Did you major in liberal talking points at the university?

    That would be an example of not being civil, though not the worst in the thread in which increasingly irritable hosts have mentioned civility.

  119. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:23 pm

    Yes, the nationalised health systems are better and cheaper than the US privatised system.

    No. No they aren't. They consume a massive amount of state resources (allowable because they don't have to fund a military capable of defending themselves, though soon that shall cease), and have lower survival rates. They also do fun things like "cut off food and water for the very old" and "refuse to make any efforts if your baby is born even an day too soon".

    I don't know exhaustive figures, but for the UK a large portion of those violent crimes happen when one or more parties involved has alcohol.

    Well, good thing we don't have alcohol in the US, or else we might be able to compare numbers.

    Oh, wait…

  120. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:36 pm

    Incidentally, regarding satire, since Patrick wimped out and gave up the joke within a few minutes, I'll say this: satirical posts (especially Patrick's, because he's better at it) always bring out two amusing groups: those who bite hard, and those who see it is satire but make massive assumptions about Patrick's actual position based on the satire.

    Imagine two people, both who read Swift's modest proposal. One says "THIS DASTARD ADVOCATES EATING CHILDREN." The other says "So, what you're saying is the government should confiscate all of my property to sell it and feed starving children in Ireland?"

    Both are ridiculous. I leave it to the philosophers to say who is more ridiculous.

  121. TPRJones  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:40 pm

    "If you honestly think guns would be a positive addition to such situations, you're being silly."

    On the contrary, it would serve to thin the population of worthless drunkards much more quickly if we were to introduce guns to that situation. I think that would be a fine thing indeed.

  122. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:43 pm

    Ken, I've often wondered if Swift wasn't actually being serious, and only claimed it to be a work of satire after people got mad.

  123. Ken  •  Dec 20, 2012 @1:55 pm

    You wouldn't say that if you had ever actually tasted an Irish baby. They're awful.

  124. John Beaty  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:01 pm

    Well, I think we ought to spend the next 2 years arguing over whether it hurts more to be wounded with words or guns.

  125. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:22 pm

    Ken • Dec 20, 2012 @1:22 pm

    Did you major in liberal talking points at the university?

    That would be an example of not being civil, though not the worst in the thread in which increasingly irritable hosts have mentioned civility.

    So was this:

    Kevin Lyda • Dec 20, 2012 @12:58 pm

    I am stunned by the ignorance and sexism in Jeremy's comment.

    Accusing someone of sexism isn't playing patty-cake. You've got a troll, I'm not nice to them.

  126. SPQR  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:26 pm

    Ken wrote: "Both are ridiculous. I leave it to the philosophers to say who is more ridiculous."

    I would hope that if any philosophers were to comment here, you'd ban them immediately. I mean, you do have standards, don't you?

  127. TomB  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:29 pm

    All this drama, and the word "poopyhead" has yet to be used.

    So disappointing.

  128. Jess  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:32 pm

    @Jeremy – bigger trolls eat smaller trolls. Wait – someone already said that – Patrick.

  129. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:32 pm

    @John Beaty • Dec 20, 2012 @2:01 pm

    Well, I think we ought to spend the next 2 years arguing over whether it hurts more to be wounded with words or guns.

    This may sound ridiculous, but if you've ever dealt with youth that had a bad upbringing, you know I'm thinking clearly:

    I would rather be shot to death by a crazy parent at a young age than verbally abused by one my entire life.

  130. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:34 pm

    "They're awful."

    What do you think they make A-1 for?

  131. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:35 pm

    " I mean, you do have standards, don't you?"

    They'd be the first lawyers in history.

    Low blow?

  132. Kevin Lyda  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:39 pm

    1) For the sake of argument, I'll concede to you without evidence that most mass shootings are done by white males. Do you honestly believe that most gun crime/violence in the U.S. is committed by white males?

    Source.

    No, which is why I said why I said. Most gun control legislation currently relates to assault weapons and large capacity clips. Such legislation would likely reduce mass shootings (though based on the number of guns already out there, not by much). It would have little effect on other shootings which are mainly done by handguns.

    2) What do you have against encouraging the presence of a strong father? Do you believe that single-parenthood contributed nothing to these mass shootings?

    I became the son of a single mother at age twelve when my parents divorced due to my father's opinion that marriage was not a reason to stop dating. And I grew up listening to my mother cry herself to sleep from time to time due to ignorant people such as yourself making statements like you have with little to no data to back it up.

    People become single parents for many reasons. There are a few new single parents in Newtown Connecticut this week for instance. There are a number of them who had a parent buried in a flag draped coffin over the past ten years.

    Maybe you should give that some thought.

    3) Other countries may have a mix of cultures, but no other country on earth is as diverse as the United States. Canada tries to claim they are, but if you visit Canada you see their cities are VERY balkanized, with various cultures fixed into specific districts (by design or not, that's the case). In the United States it is NORMAL to have extreme diversity in a dense package. This means seeing all major religions and all major races represented in a plurality of areas as small as apartment complexes (this is particularly true in Los Angeles).

    I'll agree. Which is why America doesn't see as much of the race-riots that one has seen recently in the UK and France which doe not have a history of multi-culturalism. I'm not sure why you're mentioning this however. From what I've read, racism isn't a factor in most mass shootings in the US.

    4) Possession of a firearm while intoxicated in the United States is a felony just like driving while intoxicated (oh yes, that other deadly weapon we all have, but would never ban ownership of… cars). I see you don't know gun law that well, it's a shame because you're trying to have an opinion on the topic.

    I was replying to the person who said violent crime happened more often outside the US. First I lack general stats for that to say I agree with it, and secondly I do have some knowledge of UK stats and there a high percentage of violent crime happens when one or more parties has alcohol in their system.

    The argument for the higher rate of violent crime is that people don't have guns to keep order. But since so many cases involve alcohol, as you note here, they shouldn't have guns. So, not sure how it's a deterrent here. Now, in some cases one person might be sober, armed and being attacked. I'm not trying to excuse the behaviour of very stupid people who get drunk, but I'm not certain death should be the penalty for that. I will cop to the fact that there are occasions I have been less certain about that.

  133. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:46 pm

    @Lizard … VAC – Decypher the sample is @2:59 or you can google the lyrics. BTW … stop programming in archaic languages that force you to do memory management :P *pointers = *bad;

  134. Kevin Lyda  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:50 pm

    As an aside Jeremy, you apparently seem to take some issue with me calling you a sexist. I can only judge your views based on the words you type which come across to me as sexist and hurtful. However you are not actually your words, so I'm happy to make the distinction between what you've written and who you are.

    So I apologise for calling you yourself sexist since in reality I was only referring to the words you wrote. That was not a fair leap to make based on the data available.

    However, eventually someone writes enough words that express a certain view that the distinction between the written words and the person begins to seem little more than academic.

  135. TomB  •  Dec 20, 2012 @2:51 pm

    Kevin Lyda:

    Most gun control legislation currently relates to assault weapons and large capacity clips. Such legislation would likely reduce mass shootings (though based on the number of guns already out there, not by much).

    How?

  136. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:07 pm

    @Kevin Lyda … the Virginia Tech shooter used a handgun and lots of mags. He used his wily sociopathic ways to ensure that the fish did not escape the barrel. It is a bit of a departure for the average shooter that he had like 30 mags for the deed, but it was effective and easy, and I think more importantly undetectable to buy that many magazine.

    Just one other thought it takes me about 2 seconds to reload a magazine (I'm a noob) and on a full size hand gun that is another 13 rounds. The same is also true for a rifle.

    My point is the point that I made earlier, Sociopaths will go through all of our laws, all of our societal pressure and norms. They are different and legislation will not stop them from doing what they are going to do, but the sad truth is that the legislation will stop us (or at least give pause) from trying to defend ourselves.

  137. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:10 pm

    @Kevin Lyda • Dec 20, 2012 @2:39 pm

    …Most gun control legislation currently relates to assault weapons and large capacity clips. Such legislation would likely reduce mass shootings (though based on the number of guns already out there, not by much). It would have little effect on other shootings which are mainly done by handguns.

    Not really… Here's half a dozen sources from Wikipedia showing that the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004 had zero effect on crime rates. You seem to be suggesting that since existing legislation (of which there isn't any against the types we're discussing) is effective, that we should make it more effective by banning handguns. Am I reading that right? Remember, there's nothing on the books that prevents a person from getting a high-powered hunting rifle, finding a secluded bell-tower, and shooting indiscriminately. There's nothing on the books that prevents this, even other nations with tough gun laws have the possibility of this happening (as they allow hunting rifles).

    Yet in America, we have these mass-media-circus mass shootings at schools. I suggest it's more a function of:
    1) Single parenthood or neglectful parenthood raising risk factors.
    2) Mass Media coverage that cannot help but elevate the perp to post-mortem celebrity status.
    3) Lonely, ignored youth in their young-adult stage, unable to grasp that their social pains now are ultimately meaningless.

    That's what causes the shootings. Not the presence of guns, that's just a convenient tool.

    I became the son of a single mother at age twelve when my parents divorced due to my father's opinion that marriage was not a reason to stop dating. And I grew up listening to my mother cry herself to sleep from time to time

    First of all, I'm sorry to hear that, that sucks.

    … due to ignorant people such as yourself making statements like you have with little to no data to back it up.

    I'm hardly ignorant of the realities of single parenthood families, your lack of a civil tone on this reveals that you've got too much emotion in this subject to be thinking clearly. What is an inescapable truth that you seem to think is bile prejudice on my part is that single parents have a task in front of them that is TOO DIFFICULT. Single parenthood should not be attempted by anyone save someone who has grandparents literally in the same building to help. Single parenthood raises ALL risk factors on a childs future, ALL OF THEM. Statistics bear this out unequivocally. This is bare fact, not prejudice, not ignorance. I'm sorry you feel otherwise, but you're letting your emotions speak, not your reason.

    I'm not sure why you're mentioning this however. From what I've read, racism isn't a factor in most mass shootings in the US.

    Because multiculturalism, historically, has always been a source of social strife. Los Angeles and other major cities used to have mass shootings all the time, by the way, they're called GANG FIGHTS. CNN/Fox/NBC don't spend 24hours a day 7 days a week on those shootings, because they're common, and the people involved are considered "not innocent". In short, it isn't news just like the average missing 7-year-old black girl isn't news but the 5-year-old blond-hair-blue-eyed girl who went missing is news for 25 years. Gang fights are often along race lines.

  138. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:24 pm

    Most gun control legislation currently relates to assault weapons and large capacity clips. Such legislation would likely reduce mass shootings (though based on the number of guns already out there, not by much).

    At the risk of repeating TomB – how?

    CT has VERY strict gun laws – which one of them was it that stopped the shooter?

    "Assault Weapons" is a stupid term used by people who don't know a damned thing about guns. An adjustable stock, barrel shroud, flash suppressor, or a pistol grip do nothing at all to change the lethality of a weapon – nothing. At all. Period. Magazine size is also irrelevant because it takes almost no time to change a magazine.

    The term "assault weapon" is applied to weapons that LOOK scary, but are no more lethal than another weapon of the same calier and overall design (long gun, pistol, etc.). It was created to confuse a dull and simple populace that they were talking about assault RIFLES, which while many "assault weapons" look like, AW's lack a very specific feature that is possessed by all assault rifles everywhere.

    Assault rifles are capable of firing multiple rounds with ONE trigger pull. If you take an AK-47 and pull the trigger and hold it, you will fire every round in the chamber. It can flip a switch and fire one round per trigger pull, but it is still capable of firing in full automatic.

    And "assault Weapon" can only fire one round for every pull of the trigger. Frequently they are designed so that you can not even change out parts to make them fully automatic. They will, forever and always, fire only one round per pull of the trigger.

    As I said, CT has very strict gun laws. In fact, they have a ban on assault weapons. This law did nothing to stop the shooting for the simple reason that the weapon used was not an "assault weapon".

    By the way, if, when you read "assault weapon" why I type it here in a mocking, derisive tone, you are spot on.

    And, for the record, I don't care if they are used for hunting or not. If they aren't, so what? No one has to justify the exercising of their damn Constitutional Rights, especially one that is intended to give the citizens the ability to resist their government should it turn tyrannical.

  139. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:29 pm

    " you seem to think is bile prejudice on my part is that single parents have a task in front of them that is TOO DIFFICULT. "

    I'm sure people do think that is bile (vile?) prejudice, for pretty much the same reason I think my cat, Rocket, is orange and white. It's because he's orange and white.

    My parents were divorced, and while my attitude towards my mother is pretty much that of Stewie towards Lois (heck, I was born a month premature, I couldn't wait to claw my way out of there), I somehow managed to make it through life, without drugs, alcohol, wild sex (sigh, what a waste of my youth), self-mutilation, or flirtations with socialism. (Despite having all the usual social maladjustment issues associated with nerds, in a time when being a nerd was even harder than it is now.)

  140. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:42 pm

    @Scott
    You need to look at the wording of the ban.

    Has these 2 things pistol grip … blah, blah blah …
    Has any 2 of these things
    …blah
    … blah
    .. blah
    Grenade Launcher

    WTF? So you mean that I can add a grenade launcher to my gun as long as I don't have any of the other items /facepalm

  141. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @3:49 pm

    I'm as libertarian as the next guy, but even *I* am not entirely convinced I might need a grenade launcher

  142. Kevin  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:00 pm

    As has been mentioned, limiting clip size isn't particularly effective, since changing clips can be done in under a second by someone with a few hours of training and practice. So if your goal is to make spree shooters run out of ammo faster, here's my modest proposal: legalize fully-automatics. Wait, hear me out!

    See, the thing is, in actual use (according to those I've talked to with combat experience), full-auto is really only useful for two things:

    1) suppressing fire (i.e. scaring the enemy away), and
    2) wasting perfectly good ammo.

    I've often heard it said that in Iraq/Afghanistan, when you hear a firefight going on in the distance, you can always tell which side is which by listening for the pattern of gunfire – the idiot insurgents always fire on full auto – because it's COOL and BADASS – then quickly run out of ammo… while the professionally trained US/Nato forces conserve ammo and fire almost exclusively in single shot mode.

    So if fully-automatic weapons were made available to the general public, doesn't it stand to reason that it would actually decrease casualties in mass shootings?

    God, I'm going to hell for this.

  143. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:04 pm

    I guess my only question is why do so few of the people committing these mass shootings use fully automatic weapons?

  144. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:10 pm

    Because they are fucking EXPENSIVE.

  145. Marty  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:15 pm

    The comments that struck me most were the ones steadfastly defending a person's "right" to have a semi-automatic gun that looks like an M16 and contesting the fact that Adam Lanza had an "assault weapon." Opinions have historically differed on what the 2nd Amendment means, a civilian right to bear arms or in the context of a militia. And you can find historical sources to support either opinion. For better or worse, "Heller" and "McDonald" have settled the question and interpreted the 2nd Amendment to mean that Americans have a right to bear arms for self-defense so we may as well start there. The holdings of those cases, a right to bear arms for self-defense, necessearily imply that it is not an unfettered right. You have a right to possess a gun sufficient enough to allow you to defend yourself. You do not have a right to possess a gun designed for military purposes. This is where regulation is not repugnant to the 2nd Amendemnt. The gun used by Adam Lanza, even if not fully automatic, was a variation of the AR-15, a gun designed for military use, like all AR-15s. That particular model was designed to accommodate a larger caliber bullet from previous models because the military wanted a bullet that could penetrate a helmet at 500 yards. The .222 caliber of previous models wasn't doing the trick. The .223 caliber got the job done. Admittedly, a gun designed for military purposes can be used for self-defense, and even a small caliber handun can be used for military purposes, albeit not effectively. However, there is nothing unreasonable about making a practical distinction between the two.

  146. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:18 pm

    The more kind reason is that they are pretty rare, actually. They haven't been legal to make for civilian ownership for ages, and frankly people that have them via grandfathering them in don't care to let go of them.

    Even military surplus is non-existent. What military gear you hear about out there that's under 30 years old is usually stolen stuff that was on it's way to being decommissioned.

    Almost to the weapon, the automatic weapons you hear about are illegally obtained weapons, usually AKs and some sub-machine guns.

    While most serious gun-nuts would like to own one for the novelty (and bragging rights), the demand for them exists almost entirely within gangs.

  147. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:22 pm

    @Lizard • Dec 20, 2012 @3:29 pm

    " you seem to think is bile prejudice on my part is that single parents have a task in front of them that is TOO DIFFICULT. "

    I'm sure people do think that is bile (vile?) prejudice, for pretty much the same reason I think my cat, Rocket, is orange and white. It's because he's orange and white.

    How is acknowledging the reality of the difficulty of raising a child as a single parent any kind of insult to the childhood that you or anyone else from a single parent received? If someone told me that raising a child who can think critically while being in a cult was something that shouldn't be attempted, I wouldn't consider their words offensive. That would be speaking truth, it is difficult to teach someone to think critically when their entire childhood is spent accepting dogma. Such a person is not questioning my childhood (which actually was within a cult), they're acknowledging fact.

    Single parenthood was de-stigmatized so that those who are children of single-parents, or single-parents themselves wouldn't be looked down upon. And let me be clear, I do not look down upon them. However, such a change in cultural perception does nothing to alter the fact that 2 parents lowers your kids risk factors for problems later in life. Despite any acceptance of social welfare, or normalization of absent fathers in a family structure families still need fathers and mothers both, not just one of them.

    The mother + social welfare combination is still inferior as a nest compared to a mother + father, that's just a fact.

  148. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:24 pm

    You do not have a right to possess a gun designed for military purposes.

    Which is a shame, if it's the military we need to defend ourselves from, but that's not the issue. The issue is "I want to own a Bushmaster because fuck you that's why".

    The Second Amendment isn't to protect me from some asshole breaking into my house or mugging me, it is there because we had just finished fighting a war against a tyrannical government that had tried to make it illegal to own weapons so we would be unable to effective resist them.

    The Second Amendment is there so the government has some kind of final check from the people.

    Because what if the Federal Government decides "you know, fuck elections, we're staying".

    Are you going to go change their minds with a .22LR and a 9mm pistol? No. No you are not, because the government enjoys far better equipment than that.

    You might have faith in your government, by I tend to have very little. You can cower and pray all you like. I will prefer to be armed, thank you.

  149. Pamala  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:26 pm

    Besides the expense? I'd imagine most people just don't see the point of owning one. Which makes the arguement against them even more moot. People aren't purchasing these weapons anyhow. Because they don't really have a need for them.

  150. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:27 pm

    @Marty • Dec 20, 2012 @4:15 pm

    The comments that struck me most were the ones steadfastly defending a person's "right" to have a semi-automatic gun that looks like an M16….You have a right to possess a gun sufficient enough to allow you to defend yourself. You do not have a right to possess a gun designed for military purposes.

    So, any gun that looks like an M16 is equivalent to a gun designed for military purposes? Is that the take-away there?

  151. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:29 pm

    I'd like to know why the precise fuck Marty thinks he is to decide what is sufficient for me and what is not.

    I don't think I get to decide what kind of house or car Marty has, and he doesn't even have a RIGHT to those things. What the hell makes him think he gets to decide was I get when it comes to an actual right?

  152. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:33 pm

    And Marty? There's a crap load of .22LR weapons that look like M-16s, P60s, AKs, and on and on and one.

    The LOOK does nothing.

  153. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:42 pm

    Hrrm. I'm basically hoping that there is some lesson that we could take from the rarity of gun massacres via fully automatic weapons and apply it to the problem with have with massacres via other weapons.

    And, while this satire was instructive, the First Amendment does have limits and regulations. I am unsure why the Second can't have limits and regulations as well. After all, it does not read "So you can overthrow the government any time you think it has devolved into tyranny, have any weapon you want."

  154. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:44 pm

    @BethanyAnne • Dec 20, 2012 @4:42 pm

    …After all, it does not read "So you can overthrow the government any time you think it has devolved into tyranny, have any weapon you want."

    Its interesting that you phrase it that way, since the men who wrote the 2nd amendment had just accomplished that very thing.

  155. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:47 pm

    Indeed they had. And yet they didn't write it that way there. Musta not meant that to be the reason.

  156. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:50 pm

    the First Amendment does have limits and regulations. I am unsure why the Second can't have limits and regulations as well.

    First, the limits to the First Amendment are pretty damn rare.

    Second, good ol' 2A does have limits and regulations. Long ago we allowed the government to forbid general ownership of automatic weapons. I can't own a shotgun that is below a certain length. Grenades are right out.

    The issue is – what real interest does the government have in limiting the 2nd Amendment to exclude "those scary, SCARY guns what look like stuff the military uses"?

    Because reasons like "we would like them too", "it makes the government's job easier" and "to keep children safe" aren't actually valid reasons. If they were, the government could put us all in small cells for our entire lives, never for us to see the sun (skin cancer, you know) or to run and play (might trip and fall, you know…).

  157. Jeremy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:51 pm

    Did they not use local militias to recruit revolutionaries? Seems to me they did. So, it would in fact seem to me they meant for the civilian population to own and be familiar with the use of deadly force so that the general free people could be used to overthrow an oppressive government.

    Why use free persons to overthrow an oppressive government? precisely because the government already has an established military (in their case, the British armies).

  158. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:52 pm

    Indeed they had. And yet they didn't write it that way there. Musta not meant that to be the reason.

    No, it was because every gun used was a gun people regularly owned as civilians (save MAYBE cannon, and I'm pretty sure that is only due to cost).

    Anyone who doesn't think the 2nd Amendment isn't tied to the people and their ability to fight tyranny thinks far more of government than the people who set up our government.

  159. Kevin  •  Dec 20, 2012 @4:52 pm

    @BethanyAnne – The only reason fully automatic weapons are not used more often in mass shootings is simply that they're damn near impossible to get ahold of. So there's no lesson to be learned from that other than "confiscate ALL the weapons!"

    And as far as what the founders meant by the 2nd amendment, it's not as if you have to speculate… the constitution and bill of rights were thoroughly debated at the time, and we can read what the founders thought, in their own words. The idea that private gun ownership should serve as a final check on government tyranny WAS one of their primary motivations. Mocking it in pejorative language doesn't change the historical fact.

  160. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:00 pm

    I wish they had been more clear about it, then, Jeremy. You know, actually stating that the 2nd Amendment was so that we could overthrow our government by violent means instead of saying those bits about the militias and a free state.

  161. Kat  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:00 pm

    @Oomph: Fair, it's a little too pithy to be completely true. How is this for something to think about, then.

    I know at least one family in this (rural) area that rely on hunting season to bring in extra income and food. They sell the skins that they get and they freeze the meat; it lasts a long time. What do you propose to make up the lack of this income? After all, they currently have the right to own a gun, so they've broken no laws there; they are registered to hunt; and they hunt only on land that is legally available to them. So, do they get punished because someone who was clearly mentally ill decided to commit the separate crime of stealing a weapon from someone who was licensed to own the gun, and then that person went on a rampage and killed a ton of people?

    Would the crime have been different if the guns had been stolen or borrowed from a gang? Would people hurt less?

    What do we do about the issue of criminals owning guns? They aren't going to stop because a law has been enacted.

    How about dealing with corrupt law enforcement officials who will–and currently do–sell things that they have no right to sell? http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_22130934/ex-narcotics-cop-pleads-guilty-stealing-drug-evidence Will people who do things like this rethink it because there's another law on the books?

    These are real issues, and yes, I did post a very compact (and thus not totally true–since it claims to cover a very complex issue) statement. It's fair that you quibbled with it. But are you going to answer the objections it brought up meaningfully, or ignore it in favor of "think of the children"? I have my own (very young) child, and I know it's entirely possible that you have yours, so you have the right to disagree on this issue; I'm not asking you to shut up. I am asking you and the other people here to at least discuss these problems because currently nobody is, which means they will get pushed under the rug. And they are REALLY A PROBLEM.

    I do not want to see another prohibition, except with guns. I don't think anyone wants to, if they manage to get past thinking that just banning them being a natural panacea that will cure all of our woes.

    When alcohol was prohibited in the 1920's, doctors started prescribing it (mostly whiskey, which could be used for medicinal purposes), politicians bought it, and gangsters formed their empires on the sale of it. Al Capone mostly got his start from his bootlegging exploits.

    I mean, think about it: "ONE OF THE GREAT IRONIES of Prohibition is that instead of creating a perfect society by banning the consumption of liquor, the era produced one of the most violent, crime-ridden periods in American history." (http://www.walkervilletimes.com/34/mobsters1.html)

    Is it possible that this could happen with guns if they were banned? If we already know that this is likely to happen, is it such a great idea to go ahead and do it anyway in the heat of the moment?

  162. Grifter  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:16 pm

    @BethanyAnne:

    They felt they were fairly clear, and many people feel they were. And then they preserved their notes so that if someone felt they weren't, that person could get the context. What more do you want?

  163. TomB  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:19 pm

    I guess my only question is why do so few of the people committing these mass shootings use fully automatic weapons?

    Because ownership of automatic weapons was made illegal in 1934.

    You can get them, but there are a myriad of hoops to jump through. And the cost is very high. For all intents and purposes, the only people who own them are collectors.

  164. Doug Wolf  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:24 pm

    *Slow clap… increasing in speed to a crescendo of wild applause*

  165. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:28 pm

    @Grifter I want fewer mass shootings. And everything that liberals propose is followed immediately by people calling us "Princesses" and "pansies", and mocking us. I don't care about guns either way. More, less, honestly, don't give much of a damn. What I actually want is less dead kids.

  166. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:29 pm

    Because ownership of automatic weapons was made illegal in 1934.

    You can get them, but there are a myriad of hoops to jump through. And the cost is very high. For all intents and purposes, the only people who own them are collectors.

    And it was done at a time when few had them.

    And it also didn't make it illegal to continue owning what you had – you just couldn't get any new ones.

    So it just cut the supply.

    As it stands, cutting the supply for semi-auto rifles would mean absolutely nothing.

  167. TomB  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:31 pm

    The .222 caliber of previous models wasn't doing the trick. The .223 caliber got the job done. Admittedly, a gun designed for military purposes can be used for self-defense, and even a small caliber handun can be used for military purposes, albeit not effectively. However, there is nothing unreasonable about making a practical distinction between the two.

    Marty, you might want to look at this link.

    http://i.imgur.com/SwHd3.png?1

    Those two firearms are identical in the round used, muzzle velocity, etc. It's just that the one is dress up with "assaulty-looking" things.

    I many states it wouldn't be legal for me to go deer hunting with the AR-15 because the round it too small to humanely bring down the prey. Therefore most rifles owned by "normal" hunters are chambered in a much higher caliber. How does that make things any safer (other than they don't look so scary).

  168. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:32 pm

    I want fewer mass shootings.

    Then eliminate gun-free zones, and allow conceal carry.

    All but one mass shooting in which more than 3 people were killed since the 50's was on a gun-free zone, and the average body-count where someone nearby has a conceal-carry weapon is 2.2.

    You want to stop mass shootings? Get rid of the environments where there are large numbers of targets who are unable to effectively defend themselves.

  169. TomB  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:38 pm

    BTW, you are confusing the .223 round used in the civilian AR-15 with 5.56 round used by the military. They are two different things entirely.

  170. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:39 pm

    And everything that liberals propose is followed immediately by people calling us "Princesses" and "pansies", and mocking us.

    I'm going to be as kind as possible…

    We mock and call names because, at their most basic level, every proposal you hear can be reduced to the following: "Trust the State. The State will protect you. The State will keep you safe. The State will heal you."

    That is a craven idea. To place all responsibility upon someone else is to give up your ability to do so – you will not be prepared when you might need to do so. It requires faith that when you need them, Authority will be there that instant, and that is never the case. There will be – at best – several minutes in which you will be on your own.

    The police took 20 minutes to respond to the shooting at a school. One teacher with a handgun could have confronted the shooter in moments.

    Could they have stopped him? Don't know. But I know it would have been better to try right away than to do nothing but cower for 20 minutes.

    I will always prefer dying while trying to fight back to doing nothing but waiting for either the end or help, whichever comes first.

  171. Scott  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:52 pm

    Very nicely done.

  172. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:54 pm

    Scott, thanks for being kind there. I've started thinking about those kids again, and I'm not fit to argue well now. I do appreciate the answers earlier tho.

  173. Dwight Brown  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:57 pm

    Marty:

    "You do not have a right to possess a gun designed for military purposes."

    The bolt-action rifles used by many hunters are based on a gun designed for military purposes, the Mauser 98.

    It was not uncommon for many years after WWI for people to purchase surplus military rifles, such as the 1903 Springfield, 1917 Enfield and the .303 British Lee-Enfield and modify ("sporterize") those as hunting rifles. I own an 1917 Enfield and a Mauser 98 that have been so modified, and my late father owned a .303 Lee-Enfield that had been as well.

    Tell me again that I don't have a right to posses a gun designed for military purposes.

  174. Robert White  •  Dec 20, 2012 @5:58 pm

    (Disclaimer: I don't now, nor have I ever, owned a gun.)

    Why are fully automatic weapons with large magazines vilified? Any argument that a handgun is a hunting apparatus is clearly bunk and should never have been made.

    Why might I want a fully automatic weapon with a large magazine? Well I may someday find myself in the position where killing or injuring a large number of people in quick succession is the most desirable outcome.

    Were I to rewrite the second amendment I would say it should read: Each member of the citizenry has the right to be _at_ _least_ as well armed as any agent of the government.

    That is, the right to be _able_ to out-gun an equal number of cops is kind of the exact point. The four boxes that let us, in theory, control our government are "soap", "ballot", "jury", and "ammo"… to be used to exhaustion in that order.

    I also think that the slippery slope of the second amendment was first broached when the N.R.A. (et. al.) [Disclaimer: I am not a member of the NRA and never have bee because I don't believe in _any_ of their social revisionist platforms.] _failed_ to protect the right to carry _knives_ and other "non-fire arms".

    This is co-factored by the way the police and enforcement agencies like to label people as "armed and dangerous" without ceding any right to be "armed". This is rife with abuse potential. Some years ago my father's friend was arrested for Driving While Black. He drove a dualie pickup and had a stick in his car used for making a rough check of the tire pressure of the inner tires, so now he was Driving While Black And Armed with no right presumed to that item.

    I had a cop once tell me that he could arrest me for "assault with a deadly weapon" because I was present when someone else threw a Frisby that hit someone on the back of the head. (The guy never saw it coming so it wasn't assault, it was just battery. I had thrown the frisby in the past, but did not make the throw that hit the guy. I'm pretty sure that Wammo would not have liked their toy classified as a deadly weapon. and so on.).

    So the problem is that we have been heating the second amendment frog rather a lot over the years.

    I joined the ACLU during the Bush years but then decided to stop donating once they demonstrated their own selective cognition. They defend the bill of rights… except for the second amendment. Thats some world class fucknuttery. That is shopping for "the good parts version" of the constitution.

    So we live in a world where we blame the tools not the workman. We cannot cary knives or sticks or lockpicks or baseball bats, but these prohibitions only come into force if an individual enforcer of the law decides to make trouble for a particular person. That tire iron in your trunk is actionable. That set of cutlery you bought for your foodie friend is actionable. Apparently my frisbee is actionable.

    The entire point of the Second Ammendment _should_ _be_ that from cooking spray up to bazooka, the government should _not_ have the right to detain you for possession of tools without having to examine your right to possess those tools starting from the presumption that possession is an innocent act. It _factually_ says less than that, limiting that analysis to "arms". People have _practically_ cut it down to just "firearms" over the years while still chasing people around and piling on claims for other "arms" (and swords and knives _are_ still in the manual of arms for the U.S. military so there you go on that) so that possession can be curtailed. Finally politics has _kneecapped_ the gun discussion as safety vs hunting.

    WTF.

    Read a sixth grade civics book. What were the abuses of the occupying British troops during the revolution. Note how they line up so clearly with the bill of rights…?

    The second amendment is the _right_ to be _ready_ to resort to violence when the government gets out of hand. We may not believe that that can ever be necessary. And if we keep using the soap box, the ballot box, and the jury box as designed it should never come down to the ammo box.

    So all that "but guns are used to kill people" is rather the point. It is nothing less than the absolute reason we have that right. We are _allowed_ to be ready to kill people, and at a rate commensurate with the rights of the police and army to be ready to kill us.

    We don't just have the right to be a token resistance. We don't just have the right to defend our homes.

    We have the right to defend our liberty. And that needs must include the right to state-of-the-art fast, high capacity weaponry if that is what the cops and the army get.

    And this from a "liberal" who has never owned a gun and has no plans to do so. Having a right, and defending a right, do not require that I exercise that right personally. If I bought a gun I'd play with it and someone would get hurt. (Guns, as machines are precise and nifty, and I can see why someone might own and use one just for the coolness factor. I can imagine myself as that very person. That makes me not a good person to arm. I'd probably shoot myself. /doh. But that self awareness is no reason to proscribe our right to liberty for all and others.)

    Yes?

  175. TomB  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:06 pm

    Why are fully automatic weapons with large magazines vilified? Any argument that a handgun is a hunting apparatus is clearly bunk and should never have been made.

    Christ on a cracker, fully automatic weapons are not legal, got it? To the best of my knowledge, the last time a fully automatic weapon was used in a mass killing was the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

    Now will you give it a rest?

  176. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:07 pm

    Very well said, Robert.

    Also, for for bethanyAnne

    I've started thinking about those kids again, and I'm not fit to argue well now.

    See, there is a big part of the issue.

    I can't say it well, so I will quote Jonah Goldberg, who said it amazingly well

    The human need to “do something” is primal after moments like this, not just for those in mourning but for those who want to help those in mourning. Most of us who’ve lost a loved one know someone — or perhaps ourselves — who had to cook, or organize, or clean, or plan or do anything that lets us grasp the handrail of sanity or hold at bay the uncompromising vacuum of grief, if only temporarily. Likewise, we’ve known people who’ve implored us: What can I do? Is there anything I can do? But, often, trying to translate human impulses into government responses is the source of great folly.

    Contrary to a lot of sloppy prepackaged rhetoric, these weren’t “our” children. They were their parents’ children. To claim otherwise is to try to purchase the sympathy rightly reserved for the grieving on the cheap. Still, we can imagine, at least a little, that they were ours. We can glimpse, however imperfectly, what that horror would be like for ourselves, and touching the dread that lurks just beyond reason we instinctively try to impose reason upon it.

    In the wake of the slaughter, there are arguments I agree with and arguments I find ridiculous. And everything in between. What I dislike is the immediate rush to turn the slaughter into an any argument at all. The problem, alas, is that the moment one “side” tries to translate this carnage into a public-policy victory, arguments are not only inevitable but required. Because in a democracy, the way you make laws is by arguing over them first. I just resent the forced necessity of it all. I wish the parents could just bury their children first.

  177. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:11 pm

    The fact you think a single parent can only raise a child with the assistance of social welfare — or that a two parent family implicitly does not need social welfare — is telling.

  178. Grandy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:12 pm

    @BethanyAnne

    I want fewer mass shootings. And everything that liberals propose is followed immediately by people calling us "Princesses" and "pansies", and mocking us. I don't care about guns either way. More, less, honestly, don't give much of a damn. What I actually want is less dead kids.

    I think a lot of the reasons the left have offered up aren't really well thought out. I don't consider people on that side pansies or any such thing for offering them. Likely it's some shade of misguided or ignorant, depending. The people who use those names tend to be morons and fools and no better, or worse, than the people they are insulting. Irony and such. Also, a lot of people (talking heads especially, but then it's deliberate there) allow emotion to rule their responses. I am not intersted in watching someone lose their minds because they're upset about what happened (but that's a sort of form letter than appears after an incident like this as well; I stopped paying attention to two blogs I liked not because I didn't agree with their positions on guns but because they're posts on the subject were the worst sort of grade-school nonsense).

    We've spent 4 decades and an absurd amount of money trying to keep drugs out of this country and have failed in every possible way. And the monetary cost is the least of the burdens that war on drugs has created. We've got absurd incarceration rates which disproportionately impact minorities, out of control sentencing issues (and ditto on the minorities) and massive erosion to various fundamental rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights to thank for it.

    And this says nothing of the fact that self-manufacture of guns and ammo will be pretty easy to do in the near future/now. That isn't to say we can't and shouldn't consider changes. But most of those on the left arguing passionately about this seem blissfully unaware of the folly they are suggesting (the belief seems to be that you can take away the guns, really do it, if we can just pass the laws; also they follow alot of stupid logic, like arguing that clip size matters).

    And too many want to focus on the guns and not on the various other issues. Patrick just destroyed the Baltimore Sun "1000 cuts style", disguised as an attack on media. But surely we can look at violent media too (we're not going to learn much, but never mind). And the news media's coverage of these events (which is abhorrent) and the way we as a country have turned our back on mental health issues in many respects (with the noblest of intentions; we shut down a lot of the institution/asylum type places because some of their treatment methods were just above medieval in effectiveness, but we've gone to far). Certainly some people are talking about these things but too few (and you know what? that's partly the media's fault too, because they're more inclined to ignore the people discussing these other issues).

    And that's before we confront the reality that maybe there's not much we can do about it in the medium term.

    Too many people run to guns after an incident like this, and too quickly. We're probably not, as a nation, ready to have a rational discussion about anything right now (or what we pass for rational discussion nationally, anything). It's not the politicization that's objectionable, it's how the people saying "nope, we have to politicize it" seem too often to be ignorant of other, important, issues. I mean, I think the NRA shutting down for a little while was precisely the right response. There may be another conversation about guns, and they'll; participate, but now is not really the time to have it.

  179. Robert White  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:14 pm

    Side-Note Reformulation: If guns are outlawed, then only the people who can declare you an outlaw will have the guns to keep you in line.

  180. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:15 pm

    Lizard, I think the point was that being a single parent is exceedingly hard (twice as hard per child as being part of a two-parent home), and that it causes more things to be missed.

    I don't think he means it is impossible, just far harder and leading to more issues than a two-parent home, and if THAT is his point, I find – as a someone raised by single mother from the age of 13 on (and my sister was 8) – that I can not disagree.

  181. Robert White  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:16 pm

    TomB… way to miss the context there buddy. Perhaps you should read before you react.

  182. Luke  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:20 pm

    Because UHF was awesome and parts of this discussion relate to it:

    UHF – Gun Control

  183. Robert White  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:23 pm

    (E.G. I think fully automatic weapons _should_ be legal as they _are_ protected by the plain reading of the constitution. They are in the U.S. Military manual of arms, which is part of the whole U.S. vs Miller disaster; and as anybody in the National Guard can tell you, they would be issued to a well ordered militia. etc.)

  184. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:28 pm

    @Grandy
    Rachel Maddow did a segment either Tuesday or Wednesday on the self manufacture thing. I've thought about it, and it certainly complicates this situation. I also poked around and it is evidently possible to convert an AK 47 to fully automatic with a few parts and a drill press. And the folk who go crazy quite so publicly aren't doing it. Which sort of makes me think this isn't about guns nearly so much as it's about sort of a blaze of glory insanity. Which … makes the problem cultural and social. And maybe that isn't amenable to laws much at all. Lots more thinking for me to do.

    @Scott Jacobs
    Thanks for the Jonah Goldberg quote. I see myself in there some.

  185. Lizard  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:34 pm

    The issue with parents is resources, not quantity (or gender). Obviously, all other things being equal, a single parent bring in less income than two parents — but it's the income that's important, much more so than the actual family makeup. The worship of the 1950s nuclear family, when it's just one arrangement out of many that humans have come up with, is seriously irksome to me. (Not that I intend to breed, mind you, and, biologically, it's not going to happen since I'm faithful to my wife, and she has undergone early menopause, described by her as "the best day of my life". What paternal instincts I have are aimed at my cats, which are superior to children in many ways, such as the fact that if they see you having sex, CPS doesn't come and take them away. I do find it disturbing when they hold up the little scorecards afterwards.)

    Poverty is bad for kids — and for everyone, really. Being a single parent tends to lead to poverty. It's the poverty, not the parenting, that's the problem.

  186. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @6:35 pm

    I also poked around and it is evidently possible to convert an AK 47 to fully automatic with a few parts and a drill press.

    That is more urban ledgend than truth, and what truth there is ignores that if you mess it up you REALLY mess up your which you just spent a LOT of money on. Largely, you risk causing it to "run away", which means that even when you take your finger off the trigger, it keeps firing. Not safe, and not what you want.

  187. Luke  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:01 pm

    @Lizard – Another resource is time. Two parent households are likely to have more of that than a single parent household, partially due to the income issue as you pointed out but also because of the quantity of parents. Actually using that time with your kids is an entirely separate issue.

  188. Grifter  •  Dec 20, 2012 @7:53 pm

    @BethanyAnne:

    If you want to know why the liberals you like (because liberals aren't homogenous, and not every liberal suggestion has been mocked) get mocked, look no further than the dishonesty of the response you gave. We're talking about your inability to understand a sentence and refusal to acknowledge the context which would clarify it for you, and when I explain that it is clear to others and there is context for you, and ask what more do you want, you immediately retreat into "I actually want is less dead kids." Dead kids do not factor into whether a phrase means what it means, and acting like it does, rather than, perhaps, using your dead kids argument to argue that we should change what it says, is why it's understandable that folks like Scott Jacobs (as an example) respond with derision.

  189. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:03 pm

    To be completely fair, I respond to MOST things with derision.

  190. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:09 pm

    Automatic weapons are legal in Texas. FYI.

  191. wgering  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:14 pm

    Well, Scott Jacobs and Robert White have done an excellent job of saying what I wanted to but better.

    I would like to add that effective education regarding the proper use of firearms (and other weapons, really) would probably lead to a reduction in accidental shootings (a bit OT, I know). Rather than paint guns as scary things that only evil people use to do evil things, to be avoided at all costs and never discussed in polite company, we should accept that guns are there, whether we like it or not, and focus on making sure we know how and when to use them in a safe, effective and responsible manner.

    IIRC, the Newtown shooting was perpetrated with a gun that was not registered to the shooter. I posit (without evidence, because I am lazy) that this is the case for most violent crimes involving guns. I believe the gun used was registered to the mother of the shooter. Now, without knowing precise details, I would guess that the owner of said firearm did not take significant precaution in the storage of her weapon. This is, of course, speculation (and therefore should not be taken as a rigorous argument), but I don't believe it's entirely unjustified. As long as guns remain a taboo subject of education, so does gun safety.

    I actually find it difficult to believe that people are using the Newtown shooting as justification for more and/or stricter firearm regulation. It is a clear example that there are ways for violent-minded individuals to obtain firearms despite any measure of government regulation (in this case via the ever-present and ever-fallible human element). It highlighted exactly that over-regulation makes self-defense against said violent-minded individuals legally impractical or impossible. I don't believe the shooting should be used to further any sort of partisan political agenda, and I certainly don't believe it is a shining example of why more gun-regulation legislation is necessary.

    A note on full-auto weapons: for most applications, those would also be hugely impractical. They're heavy, bulky, difficult to conceal, and require a stupidly large amount of ammunition (the acquisition of which could also be problematic). Add in that most people have no clue how to operate a fully automatic weapon properly, and probably aren't very experienced with them. The difficulties in acquiring one have already been discussed. Anyone preaching to (re)ban fully automatic weapons has clearly missed the point and is a patently uninformed cretin.

  192. Shane  •  Dec 20, 2012 @8:29 pm

    Ok one more comment on fully automated for the uninitiated, I have seen fully automatic weapons used at the range and it seems even if the person is decent with the weapon the pattern is uselessly large, someone further up commented on this. It is true.

  193. Randy  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:00 pm

    Living in Texas, being a CHL holder and owning quite a few firearms as well as a 12000 acre ranch I can tell you that automatic weapons aren't legal any where. You must have a Class 3 BATF license to own one. It just be manufactured before 1986. Please don't use complete bull shit to try and make an argument.

  194. AlphaCentauri  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:04 pm

    Perhaps people want to regulate "assaulty-looking" weapons because they are attractive to people who are more interested in the scary look than in whether they are practical, and liberals trust people like that even less than conservatives trust the government.

  195. Jerryskids  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:43 pm

    As far as the 'rarity of mass killings with automatic weapons' thing goes – automatic weapons are the weapons of choice for the vast majority of mass killings. Or do you not consider it a 'mass killing' when it is the State doing the killing and calling it warfare?

    And do I have a right to possess automatic weapons? Yes, absolutely – provided I have enough of them. It's the same way I have a right to possess grenades and flamethrowers and surface-to-air missiles and tanks and ICBMs with nuclear warheads. Provided I have enough of them, who is going to argue the point?

    Which brings us to the question: When the people who don't own guns because they don't think people should be allowed to own guns vote to take away the guns from the people who do own guns because they think people *should* be allowed to own guns, how exactly do they propose enforcing their decree? You can claim all you want that I have no right to own a gun, but as long as I have a gun and you don't………………..

  196. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 20, 2012 @9:54 pm

    The Revolution will be televised…

    And very, very short.

  197. Laura K  •  Dec 20, 2012 @10:42 pm

    Ken, you and Patrick are Awesome.

    Of course I am a woman raised by a single parent with a thirty year career as a full tine PTSD counselor with the VA, tax payer, urban neighborhood advocate, religious, educated, doting aunt, godmother, the one who began the series of great favors she did me by divorcing my father…my father who reminds me so much of someone in this common thread…who can it be, now…? Oh well. I'm the product of an upbringing by a single mother, and I only have the one degree, so my memory isn't all that developed…you know, on account of my father not being around…huh. I think his name started with that funny squiggly letter that looks like J…

    And oh lords of Popehat, HOW DID YOU KNOW that Irish Babies taste awful? Dammit that is our ONE universal ethnic SECRET!

  198. MathMage  •  Dec 20, 2012 @11:51 pm

    I pretty much agree with the various studies that find no link between gun ownership and crime rates, gun crime rates, violent crime rates, etc.

    But does that mean the US has nothing to learn from other countries about dealing with guns in a way that leads to responsible gun ownership? Or dealing with impoverished and hence violent groups, especially urban minorities, in a way that leads to less urban violence and urban poverty? Or providing mental and marital healthcare in a way that leads to fewer unbalanced individuals facing the stresses of society unaided?

    The gun control argument frustrates me because it seems so binary, with one side chalking the problem up to "guns" while the other side chalks it up to "cultural differences" (or at least "not guns"), and neither position is particularly helpful in actually solving the problem. Since I certainly don't have the knowledge to answer these questions myself, all I can do is ask questions and try to complicate the discussion in a fruitful way.

  199. James Pollock  •  Dec 21, 2012 @12:01 am

    "Which brings us to the question: When the people who don't own guns because they don't think people should be allowed to own guns vote to take away the guns from the people who do own guns because they think people *should* be allowed to own guns, how exactly do they propose enforcing their decree? You can claim all you want that I have no right to own a gun, but as long as I have a gun and you don't……………….."

    This turns out to be not as hard to solve as you think, for a number of reasons. First, most of the people who "think people shouldn't have guns" are OK with the police and military forces having guns. Second, individuals with guns have to sleep, and usually have to occasionally deal with social situations where being strapped is in some way not a good idea (swimming, for example, is mostly a non-armed pastime). That's when they take your gun(s). Third, having a gun but not being prepared to use it is the same thing as having a gun. Many of the people who have guns are reluctant to shoot first. Finally, sometimes there's more of them than there are bullets in the clip. This is how come sometimes soldiers get taken prisoner even though they have assault weapons.

  200. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 21, 2012 @12:19 am

    who can it be, now

    Every. Fucking. Time. I see a line containing those words I automatically hear a bitchin' saxophone hook.

  201. James Pollock  •  Dec 21, 2012 @12:30 am

    Oops. I seem to have lost a phrase in editing.
    "Third, having a gun but not being prepared to use it is the same thing as having a gun"

    should say

    "Third, having a gun but not being prepared to use it is the same thing as having a gun that won't fire, or not having a gun at all."

    I couldn't decide which to use, decided to use both… and then apparently cut them both. Why can't the Internet work better around midnight?

  202. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 21, 2012 @12:32 am

    And oh lords of Popehat, HOW DID YOU KNOW that Irish Babies taste awful

    It was the lack of a soul. A soul is required to taste delicious.

    That's right, I said it.

    Whatcha gonna do about, ya buncha Gingers? :)

  203. MathMage  •  Dec 21, 2012 @12:41 am

    Oh, one other thing. Appealing to assault rates in foreign countries is a double-edged sword, because it also shows that a MUCH higher rate of violent confrontations end lethally in the US. Whether that's due to guns, culture, or whatever else, it's hardly an unqualified good.

  204. Hughhh  •  Dec 21, 2012 @2:51 am

    How can the citizens of countries such as Australia and Great Britain – countries which have almost completely banned private gun ownership – survive, knowing their respective governments can at any time decide to rule with an iron fist, with the citizens offering little to no resistance?

    We do just fine, thanks for asking.

    If and when the US government goes bad, what good will the scattered stock of privately owned weapons really do its citizens?

    If and when the shit does hit the fan in Australia, will I be happy enough to throw my hands up, say "We had a pretty good run," and submit? I don't know. But if it's a choice between Australia with its no guns, no massacres and potentially tyrannical government, or the US with its guns, occasional massacres and a slightly-less-potentially tyrannical government… I know which I'll choose every day of the week.

  205. BethanyAnne  •  Dec 21, 2012 @6:10 am

    @Grifter
    Ok, you win. I'm sorry.

  206. Laura K  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:05 am

    Scott–I too hear the sax!

    I'm an Irish Jewish baby. So hopefully you'll never find out what I'd "do about it" because I can get evil from TWO long traditions of high-quality resistance. –and I mean this in the nicest, most non-threating way. I've got Kuegel and Puns after all, so I'm set.

    –oh and most Celtic gingers are, in fact, gingers because of Viking additions to their/our DNA. :-).

    WHILE nobody else whose name starts with "J" on this thread seems to think I meant them I wanted to express gratitude for this because…I didn't.

    Us spawn of single moms don't make good judgement calls, y'know.

    LK

  207. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:10 am

    I know which I'll choose every day of the week.

    That's because you don't think you have any responsibility to protect yourself.

    That's fine, as it goes I guess.

    I suppose you're just more comfortable relying on people who don't give a single fuck about your well being to keep you safe.

    Good for you, I guess.

  208. wesh  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:11 am

    The 2nd Amendment was intended to enable states to arm militias and vindicate their rights as sovereigns against the emerging federal government… the founders did not contemplate the 2nd Amendment as reserving to individuals the rights to carry weapons for personal defense, only for "the common defence" (i.e. in service of the state).

    Furthermore, the founders did not advocate armed insurrection against the government of the US. Yes, they rebelled against Great Britain, but an uprising against one's own democratically elected government is a different thing entirely.

  209. Joe Pullen  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:12 am

    @Lizard – yeah I got it. But I'll engage in the conversation nevertheless because I find it entertaining. I think Robert has done an excellent job of outlining a rational position on the issue as have you. And, Scott knows way to much about both guns and flowers.

    @Randy – I also live in Texas and there is no law in Texas against assault rifles. There is also no law in Texas that requires the registration of a handgun or standard rifle. If you believe I'm mistaken on any of these points then please provide an official cite or point me to your evidence.

    For the rest of the folks here I raise the following question/area of discussion. Namely this – since no one knows exactly how many unregistered guns there are in the USA and there are several States where it is not required to register a gun, then exactly how would either banning guns or banning certain types of guns (ex. assault rifles) be enforced without violating the 4th and 5th amendments?

    One little interesting tidbit as well – State and local police departments are not legally obligated to enforce Federal gun law as per the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Printz v. United States.

  210. Patrick  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:13 am

    wesh, what is your authority for those propositions?

  211. Careless  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:29 am

    The first sentence didn't set people's bullshit detectors off?

    I read that, scrolled back up to see the author, and wondered what the game was.

  212. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:33 am

    I'll see your Irish/Jewish Laura, and raise you "Almost entirely German"…

    What? Too soon? :)

  213. Laura K  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:34 am

    Wesh I am scrolling mentally back through all I remember Knox and Washington saying about the 2nd amendment. Ability to raise militias–well, possibly. Defense against the government? Not to any of the federalists–possibly not even to anyone else.

  214. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:38 am

    Furthermore, the founders did not advocate armed insurrection against the government of the US

    What are you talking about?

    Jefferson openly hoped for such uprisings… "God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion."

    The people setting up the government had NO faith that it wouldn't turn on the people. That is clearly evident from the writings of the time.

    Again, having just overthrown a government that tried to keep them unarmed and unable to rebel, they were acutely aware of how necessary it was that the people retain that power.

  215. Grandy  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:42 am

    @Joe Pullen – it should be painfully obvious that violating the 4th amendment doesn't bother state actors in the least.

    It's somewhat shameful that so many citizens don't seem to care too much about this. We would all be better off if we worried less about the 2nd, or abortion, or any number of other hot-button issues and more about how the government treats the 4th.

  216. Joe Pullen  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:44 am

    @Grandy – amen.

  217. Careless  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:58 am

    OK I'm going to need a cite on not having the right to own a weapon designed for military purposes. And I'm no lawyer, but wasn't the point of Miller largely the opposite?

  218. Laura K  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:58 am

    Weeelll, Scott, the republicans like Jefferson, yes. Federalists like Madison and Henry Knox–less famous, Second secretary "at war" first "Secretary of War," post constitution would NOT.

    I'm not touching the right or wrong of 18th century rebellions in the early republic but out of affection for Henry I need to point that out.

  219. James Pollock  •  Dec 21, 2012 @8:11 am

    On the proposition that the founders had this opinion on rebellion or that opinion on rebellion, it is not necessary to extrapolate. There were several actual rebellions against the U.S. while the founders were still running things.

  220. Analee  •  Dec 21, 2012 @8:25 am

    I'm going to stay the hell out of the 2nd Amendment debate and posit that since many sources have stated that the shooter had a mental illness, mayhaps we need more resources available to help TREAT mental illnesses rather than treat them like something to be ashamed of and never discussed?

    Because I don't know, but maybe getting people with mental illnesses the help that they need rather than shoving them aside completely might help somewhat? Just a thought.

  221. Laura K  •  Dec 21, 2012 @8:27 am

    I would agree with that but given the preponderance of arguments about the founders' beliefs in uprising and personal weaponry in this discussion thread alone, as well as in the larger context of 2nd amendment issues in the wind these days extrapolation may be a bit relevant.

  222. Jess  •  Dec 21, 2012 @8:45 am

    It think Joe’s comment “Since no one knows exactly how many unregistered guns there are in the USA and there are several States where it is not required to register a gun, then exactly how would either banning guns or banning certain types of guns (ex. assault rifles) be enforced without violating the 4th and 5th amendments?” deserves some further examination. Grandy’s comment is spot on.

    I wonder if we really are, as a nation, evaluating certain changes to gun control all the way through to their logical conclusion which would indeed seem to necessitate violation of the 4th in many situations.

    Are people advocating for gun bans and gun controls also advocating for the infringement of those rights granted under the 4th? If not, then how, as Joe has asked, would they propose to “enforce” new rules with owners of unregistered guns? I think it’s a seriously interesting question that should be explored further.

    Anyone who advocates for gun controls that include either banning or restricting certain types of guns should be required to answer this question.

  223. perlhaqr  •  Dec 21, 2012 @10:05 am

    I love you, man. :)

  224. Shane  •  Dec 21, 2012 @10:30 am

    @Randy if you can get a licence for them doesn't that make them NOT illegal? That is like saying that having to do a background check to buy your handgun makes handguns illegal.

  225. Shane  •  Dec 21, 2012 @10:36 am

    @wesh … how do you explain the "blood of tyrants … " comment then?

  226. Jenea  •  Dec 21, 2012 @10:37 am

    For this to make any sense, violence in our media would have to be a new thing. But of course humans have been featuring violence in their cherished stories since as long as we've been telling stories. Cf the original Grimm's fairy tails. Cf the *Bible*.

    Sorry, but this is straight up nonsense.

  227. Randy  •  Dec 21, 2012 @11:02 am

    Now Pullen -

    What does your comment have to do with fully automatic weapons? That's what I was referring to. What you're referring to has nothing to do with my comment. Secondly I do t have to register that which is afforded to me under the constitution. It's none of the governments business how many firearms I have or what kind of legal firearms I own. Sorry. I don't have to register playboys, skin heads don't have to register their vile literature that can illicit violence. You keep giving up rights one at a time you're going to wake up with none.

  228. Anglave  •  Dec 21, 2012 @12:19 pm

    I would like to nominate the comment [Jerryskids • Dec 20, 2012 @6:52 am] for thread victory. In-theme and well executed.

  229. David  •  Dec 21, 2012 @1:31 pm

    You might want to post the link to the Baltimore Sun somewhere in the main article, instead of hiding it in the comments. It's one thing to invoke Poe's Law, but anyone unfamiliar with the site would assume you were completely serious.

  230. Ken  •  Dec 21, 2012 @1:43 pm

    David:

    The reason that Patrick is a better satirist than I am is that he's completely comfortable with the percentage of people who take him at face value, and resists temptations to put in explicit links.

  231. Luke  •  Dec 21, 2012 @2:10 pm

    Even when Patrick does post a link giving away the game you have people who don't get it. Better yet, you have people think that the link is somehow wrong.

    New York Times Breaks Blockbuster Story On Torture Of Guantanamo Detainees

  232. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 21, 2012 @2:12 pm

    Secondly I do t have to register that which is afforded to me under the constitution. It's none of the governments business how many firearms I have or what kind of legal firearms I own.

    Then I have a list of states for you to not live in, as they require registration of ALL firearms.

  233. Ken  •  Dec 21, 2012 @2:14 pm

    Like the killings by Kevin Spacey's character in "Seven," Patrick's satirical posts are multilayered lessons about not only the ostensible topic, but about epistemology and the very basic nature of man, as well as about Patrick's assorted "communal" issues.

  234. perlhaqr  •  Dec 21, 2012 @2:41 pm

    Because otherwise a lot of us are going to conclude that your right to own those toys that make you feel so good does not trump our right to continue breathing.

    To quote a good friend of mine: "I don’t care if every other gun owner on the planet went out and murdered somebody last night. I didn’t. So piss off."

  235. Joe Pullen  •  Dec 21, 2012 @3:01 pm

    @Randy – I’m sorry but I’m having a very hard time understanding your posts then.

    Living in Texas, being a CHL holder and owning quite a few firearms as well as a 12000 acre ranch I can tell you that automatic weapons aren't legal any where. You must have a Class 3 BATF license to own one. It just must be manufactured before 1986.

    Those were your exact words. Or did you perhaps mean to say they “are” legal? My point was they are not illegal.

    Secondly,

    I do t have to register that which is afforded to me under the constitution. It's none of the governments business how many firearms I have or what kind of legal firearms I own.

    This is perhaps instance where we all wish for an “edit” key. I’m assuming you left the letters “n” and “o” off between the words “I do _ _t”. In which case I agree with you.

  236. Robert White  •  Dec 21, 2012 @3:08 pm

    All advocates for safety over liberty are trading in the 4th amendment at the _least_.

    Terrorism, Drugs, and Kiddie Porn are the root passwords to the modern constitution. We are currently in the process of adding "(corporately held) copyright" as the fourth such password. Invoking any of the first three and regular citizens will be all "well if it's _that_ then go in and do your worst".

    Have you really looked at asset forfeiture laws or the "well it's okay that we charged into the wrong house and shot their dog and beat they adults all in front of the kids… we were looking for drugs, you know, so, you know, whatever."

    Since the universe is not a safe place, any action create absolute safety is irrational.

    Relative safety is achievable, but when you decide to be safe against boogey men, then you have to let give up your right to refuse the ghost-busters their whims.

    The few who do try to stand up against violations of the 4th have to do so after-the-fact (if they survive the fact itself) and by then they face the two-headed daemon of "why are you defending terrorists/kiddie pornographers/whatever" and "the incident is over, what do you want us to do about it now?"

    If you don't think the post 9/11 reactionary bullshit is being abused by the government then you haven't been paying attention. Those national security letters are just Carte Blanch with a new publicist.

  237. Robert White  •  Dec 21, 2012 @3:58 pm

    It's only useful to make abuses of law enforcement illegal if the enforcers of the law chose to enforce it against themselves.

    Why do you suppose (if media representations are true, which seems the case) that "internal affairs" officers are disliked instead of lauded?

    And who polices the police police? (recurse as desired).

  238. Randy  •  Dec 21, 2012 @5:59 pm

    Joe

    You can't own fully automatic firearms without a very specific and narrow license. You stated they're legal in Texas. They aren't. It's very much against the law for me to own one I don't have a class 3 license. Your post made it sound like anyone who wants one can just go buy it. That's false. Not only is the license hard to obtain, finding a fully automatic firearm manufactured before 1986 that you can afford is also nye impossible.

    I apologize for they typos. I'm a bad iPhone typist.

  239. Joe Pullen  •  Dec 21, 2012 @6:16 pm

    I understand Randy – I actually think we're saying the same thing just not the same way but thanks for clarifying.

  240. Careless  •  Dec 21, 2012 @6:55 pm

    Really, I'm disturbed that, out of the dozens of people who read this and posted on it, I'm the only one who pointed out that it was insane from the very first sentence.

  241. Anony Mouse  •  Dec 22, 2012 @3:15 am

    Sadly, there are a great many people who would not only take this as an honest, non-satirical piece, but would also agree with it without reservation. It's not just assholes sueing at the drop of a hat, but professors and other supposed intellectuals who think that Americans have way too much of that freedom of speech stuff.

  242. SIV  •  Dec 22, 2012 @9:37 pm

    You college boys(and girls) might ought to look into suing for a tuition refund.

  243. Laura K  •  Dec 22, 2012 @10:51 pm

    Careless–I thought it was incandescent myself. Perhaps you took the wrong ramp to the next town over?

  244. Derrick Coetzee  •  Dec 30, 2012 @1:00 am

    I was deeply confused by this piece. I thought you guys had gone crazy. :-) Was relieved to see the comment section. Poe's Law strikes again.

    On a more serious note, there is a rather strong amassing of psychological evidence to suggest that exposure to violent media can encourage violent attitudes and behaviors. I think the argument to be making is not that the evidence of this is weak, since it isn't, but one of cost/benefit (that art's benefit to society more than outweighs its negative influences) and one of responsible parenting (that potential negative influences can be effectively counterbalanced by guidance and explanation that places them in their proper context).

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