30 Murdered at Connecticut Elementary School

30 people shot and killed by a 24-year-old who carried this rifle, legal rifle, in the land of the NRA, into an elementary school while it was in session.

18-20 of the 30 dead were children – many in kindergarten – from 5 to 10 years old.

The 24-year-old also killed his mother, a teacher; he’s dead, as well.

We must take our country back from the NRA and now.

Explain this:

AP: Suspect used .223 caliber rifle. This is a picture of a .223 rifle. This is legal. pic.twitter.com/dvaJH6n8

169 thoughts on “30 Murdered at Connecticut Elementary School

  1. Actually that’s more like a NATO .308 sniper’s rifle, but that’s splitting hairs.

    But don’t call the NRA. That’s like calling the Nazi Party Headquarters in 1944 to complain about the way Jews are being treated.

    The NRA is NEVER, EVER, EVER going to listen to people calling about gun violence. They SELL guns – or at least work for the people who sell guns. Their solution is that the children should have had guns, too.

  2. When you left Nora off at kindergarten, did you ever, ever question but that she would be safe there and you would see her happy and healthy and skipping toward the car in just a few hours? As a mother, I don’t believe I could survive the loss of my child.

    1. My point is don’t call the NRA. It’s like calling a pimp to complain about sexual slavery or calling a crack dealer to complain about drug abuse or calling the Taliban to complain about how women are treated in Afghanistan. They’re the bad guys.

      Call your congressperson, your senator, the White House. You would be more effective calling a cab company to complain.

  3. Janey Palmer says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, Ellen. This is beyond comprehensible. And the NRA and gun “advocates” can’t keep explaining this away.

    1. We as a nation are also afraid to take on the NRA. We didn’t do it after Columbine. Or Gabby Gifford. Or the Colorado theatre. Or the shootings in Wisconsin. Or, or, or. We have got to push back. Our elected leaders are useless, as Jeremy says, because they are so afraid of the power of the NRA. But we the people have to speak up and MAKE those office holders listen.

      1. I have contended that the NRA is the single most powerful special interest group in this country for many years now. There is nothing on Wall Street or K Street that even compares to it. It can motivate more voters with a realistic-to-them fear than anyone else.

        Fear may not work on everyone, but on someone who owns a gun for protection, it’s just exploiting an already existing fear.

        This is fairly clear because other conservative and even liberal groups have adopted this “going all in” fear for just about everything. My Planned Parenthood letters say if we don’t elect Barack Obama, women will forever lose the right to abortions. The ACLU says every small threat to civil rights is the “slippery slope” of having cameras in our bedrooms.

        I also contend that in the book Thank You for Smoking, the NRA was not the main focus because author Christopher Buckley wouldn’t have been able to find a job serving coffee in DC if he showed the NRA for what it is.

      2. Erik says:

        You’re overstating. Most of what we do is uniformly vote against candidates that we disagree with.

        Certainly very little money goes to favored candidates.

      3. Erik says:

        My alumni association offers perks and spiffs like that. AARP does. You’re talking like this stuff is nefarious.

        Whatevs. If you embrace gross mis-characterizations, the NRA’s movement is probably more effective. If we try to demystify it as the opportunity arises, the NRA’s movement is more effective. It’s win-win for us.

        NRA has always been member driven. It’s not a trade group. Other way around, if anything. Most gun companies are relatively small operations. The big ones are less than $1billion market cap. I don’t recall what the NRA’s dues revenue is now. Lets say it’s a few hundred million. And of course theres 4 million members. Even if say Sturm Ruger is a $1billion market cap company, the NRAs enterprise footprint dwarfs it and the other big companies combined.

        Re your anecdote, I suggest that’s not a mistake the NRA makes. They are well researched. Endorsements have a way of correlating to party, but there’s no causality. Harry Reid is NRA A rated. Your candidate must have equivocated somewhere along the line. , and it was on paper or on tape.

        NRA members’ attitudes are extremely populist and extremely libertarian in a live and let live way I think you’d appreciate.

  4. On the local level, what Erik describes is true.

    But the fact that a local level exists shows the power of the NRA. The fact that they offer theft insurance and hunting magazines and firearm training just shows, again, how very effective it is. It is a manufacturer’s group, Imagine if the makers of MP3 players started local groups and let them vote on which was their favorite download. All it would do is just increase the number of MP3 players and the amount of music that is listened to.

    They have manged to take a manufacturer’s group and turn it into a club in which members GIVE THEM MONEY. Guns walk around with NRA club hats they paid money for. The have life members – guys who have given a manufacturer’s group so much money they don’t have to give any more – and then they still do.

    Then they tell people how to think and then they congratulate them on doing so.

    And on a local level, they essentially serve as a local arm of the Republican Party basically because Democrats don’t want anything to do with them. But at least twice in my life I have worked on campaigns in which the Democrat was an avid hunter – one was an expert trap shooter – and the Republican candidate didn’t know which end of the gun the bullet came out of and the Republican got the nod. I tell all Democrat candidates to ignore the form.

  5. Imagine my surprise to find out that my own Representative, a good Democrat, accepted NRA money in the last campaign cycle:

    Name Office Total Contributions
    Kline, John (R-MN) House $2,500
    Peterson, Collin C (D-MN) House $2,500
    Paulsen, Erik (R-MN) House $2,250
    Cravaack, Chip (R-MN) House $2,000
    Walz, Timothy J (D-MN) House $2,000
    Bachmann, Michele (R-MN) House $1,000
    Pawlenty, Tim (R) Pres $1,000

    Since he took their $2,000 I guess he doesn’t need my $100 this time.

    1. PM says:

      Ellen:

      those are not the kinds of $$ amounts that would serve to purchase a vote in the Congress/ Those contributions that you have just cited are not enough to make a difference.

      If these guys are in the pocket of the NRA, it is because of something else.

    2. Erik says:

      Given the opportunity I’m sure Walz would allay your displeasure with talk of ‘common sense’ regulations, etc, and try to keep your donation. But if he has to choose, he’s taking the NRA’s money, and it’s not about the amount.

      It’s not quite a gross exaggeration to say that all those farmers, implement dealers, coop managers, and agri bankers down in your district have black / assault rifles. They’ve been mainstream for 20 years now, and I’m sure that everyone of that rural persuasion has bought one by now. They have the space to shoot them, and they’re fun.

      That NRA donation isn’t a lot, but it’s a stamp of approval that says “hey, I’m a moderate Democrat! Not a pinko! You can be comfortable with me!” It’s a signal.

      And as a Democrat you’re not really able to withhold your support of the party candidate. If you do, you allow for the victory of a Republican. And they’re always a chance in some years you can do worse than Al Quist.

  6. Dennis Lang says:

    When a militaristic, self-empowerment-through-violence video game can sell like $500 million in 24 hours there is something deeply rooted and f***ked-up somewhere buried in what’s left of our culture.

  7. I got this from a writer on Twitter tonight:

    Before the @NRA deleted their Facebook like cowards they shared this image today. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/PfLZemkr

    1. Erik says:

      Don’t know if it’s true. Don’t know if the timing is as asserted. Not especially inflammatory. They’ve been saying that for 20 years at least.

      Faux outrage.

    2. Erik says:

      “National Association for Gun Rights” ?

      This is a false flag job all the way.

      You’re quite gullible and ignorant Ellen, and I don’t think I’m saying that with some lack of tact. You want a seat at the table, but have nothing serious to say.

      1. Dear Erik: You sound very wise and manly. The fact that this is MY table and not yours does not hold you back from vomiting all over it. That’s impressive!

        Merry Christmas!

        Ellen

    1. Thanks for stopping in with some sensible conversation from your site. (I get to contend with anonymous asses.)

      Your prayer for the little ones is sad. When I was a child, there was no such location in the elementary school as a “safe place” and we certainly did not have “lock down drills.” We had gym.

      I want to ask you: You sound as if you once were a gun owner and advocate who has had a change of heart. Is that correct? If so, from your point of view, how do we begin to do more than just talk but take reasonable action?

      1. My background is a bit murky (although that is a poor descriptive phrase as it conjures up a bad image) I come from and am an American. I am also British (dual citizen) I have not live in the states for quite some time now. We went back to visit family in 2011. I am still a gun owner. My father has my guns and except for one small game rifle that needs fixing they used to be cleaned and oiled regularly.

        These weapons are for hunting animals only. I have not used either of them for many years. But they are still mine and I would be very much against giving them up;

        I used to own a handgun (nothing fancy an Italian mass produce .22 calibre pistol in a “American West Six Shooter” style. I used it to shoot snakes and potential rabid animals when I lived and worked on a farm. This gun was sold years ago.

        In this country (the UK) the only people besides farmers and the gun enthusiasts who can afford it have shotguns. The rules are finite and strict.

        I don’t advocate the type of gun control we have here for the states. It is too big and too spread out to be policed properly for everyone’s safety. But, I believe that the current system is not working and needs to be re-worked.

        I do not have an answer, I wish I did, there would be a lot of school children who would still be here to celebrate Christmas if that were so.

        This is going to require calm heads and a cool heart to fix. We cannot react to a tragedy like this on with “knee-jerk” politics.

        So in essence, I don’t have a change of heart, per se, I just recognise that the law needs to be perhaps updated.

        Sorry for the long winded answer! Mea culpa! Cheers mate!

        1. Thanks, Mike. We have to admit we have a culture of violence in this country — in the media, our games, our language. We even rationalize it. We also have to take a serious look at mental illnesses and how/when loved ones can intervene.

  8. PM says:

    OK, I’m not an expert by any means, but here are my thoughts…..
    1. This is a tragedy…but in the larger scheme of things, not a disaster. Far more people die from plenty of other causes, far more often. This is grabbing our attention because it is so rare. While we certainly want it to remain rare, should it really be seen as more important or more of a priority than all of the other people who were shot and killed on the same day? (on average, about 46 people are shot and killed each day in the US)
    2. There are better arguments for gun control than this tragedy. I think that there should be some form of gun control in this country, but I am not certain that it would have prevented this particular tragedy. Gun control would probably be most effective in preventing the unplanned crimes of passion or opportunity—the tragedies that are not meticulously planned out. We do not know much (yet) about what happened in this case, but most of the mass shootings that take place tend to be pretty well planned out. Look at the mass shooting in Sweden not so long ago—a country with very stiff gun control, and a lot of weapons.
    3. Policy making, in order to be good and effective, should be divorced from tragedies and incidents. That does not mean that there should not be conversations about gun control policy because of this tragedy, but it means that we should not base any policy changes on this specific incident. Policies should be long term, and tragedies by their nature are short term. Policies need to address trends, not crises. Crises are, by their very nature, things that are unusual and difficult if not impossible to predict.

    So lets all calm down and discuss.

    1. PM: Don’t you think saying this tragedy is not a “disaster” is splitting hairs? My God, having a troubled teen break into an elementary school and murder 20 children at point-blank range is a horror.

      “Policies need to address trends.” Here are the facts and figures. How do they possibly make one iota of a difference?

      Number of Privately Owned Firearms
      The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000
      —–
      Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population
      The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.82 firearms per 100 people
      —–
      Number of Privately Owned Firearms – World Ranking
      In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, the United States ranked at No. 1
      —–
      Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population – World Ranking
      In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, the United States ranked at No. 1
      —–
      Number of Homicides (any method)
      United States, annual homicides by any means total

      2010: 14,1595
      2009: 15,241
      2008: 16,272
      2007: 16,929
      2006: 17,030
      2005: 16,740
      2004: 16,148
      2003: 16,528
      2002: 16,229
      2001: 16,037
      2000: 15,586
      1999: 12,658
      1998: 14,276
      1997: 18,2088
      1996: 19,645
      1995: 21,606
      —–
      Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)
      the United States, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

      2010: 4.67
      2009: 4.96
      2008: 5.35
      2007: 5.61
      2006: 5.70
      2005: 5.66
      2004: 5.51
      2003: 5.69
      2002: 5.64
      2001: 5.63
      2000: 5.52
      1999: 4.55
      1998: 5.19
      1997: 6.77
      1996: 7.3
      1995: 8.1
      1993: 9.939
      —–
      Number of Gun Homicides
      United States, annual firearm homicides total

      2009: 9,1467
      2008: 9,48410 7
      2007: 10,129
      2006: 10,225
      2005: 10,158
      2004: 9,385
      2003: 9,6597
      2002: 9,36911
      2001: 8,890
      1999: 8,2596
      1998: 9,257
      —–
      Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People
      United States, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is:

      2009: 2.98
      2008: 3.12
      2007: 3.36
      2006: 3.42
      2005: 3.43
      2004: 3.20
      2003: 3.37
      2002: 3.25
      2001: 3.12
      1999: 2.97
      1998: 3.37
      1993: 7.07
      —–
      Number of Gun Suicides
      United States, annual firearm suicides total

      2005: 17,00217
      2001: 16,86914
      —–
      Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People
      United States, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

      2005: 5.7518
      2001: 5.7414
      1993: 7.3519

      Number of Unintentional Gun Deaths
      United States, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

      2005: 78917
      2001: 80214
      —–
      United States, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

      2005: 0.2718
      2001: 0.2714
      1993: 0.5920

      Finally, if we don’t have more than just talk at this time, when do you think it will happen?

      Always happy to hear your thoughts, PM. Thanks.

    2. Erik says:

      PM – That’s all true and correct.

      All, Ellen – I am not immune from ideological self-doubt. As an NRA guy, since yesterday I have contemplated what I could give up to get to solving this. Can’t say the other members are feeling any self-doubt, and can’t say that my own intransigence won’t return. But I have thought since 2009 that with Heller v DC and McDonald v Chicago having been won in favor of the 2nd amendment, I could be persuaded about gun control on some practical points.

      We’ve yet to get that good argument. What we get is “we’ve got to stand up to the NRA!” from people who have a child like comprehension of the basic facts, have no idea what the NRA is and how it is that it’s powerful. Suffice it to say, the NRA is not the problem.

      If you’re a lefty public policy wonk, you’re going to have to engage the facts rather than hope momentum builds and a moment comes when the NRA can be stood up to. That’s not going to happen, at least not the way you think it will. You may get a half measure piece of legislation at some point that people like Walz can vote for to mollify the progressives in their constituency. Big thing is, as the gun owners, we’re going to have a seat at the table and a great deal of weight in crafting legislation.

      Magazine capacity bans and functionality bans on certain attributes of semi-automatic rifles are likely non-starters, out of the question.
      At the moment, what I favor is some curtailment of rights to people under 25. That’s quite obviuously where you can hone in and get greatest efficacy.

      1. Erik says:

        Point by Point:

        1 – Magazine capacity = firepower = lethality = utility. But still, you’re wrong about the fatalism / violence fabulism.

        I’ve thought a lot about what it means to enjoy guns. My interests are a bit outside the modern / tactical that is so popular, but I have thought about those guys and I have thought about me. We all have penis inadequacy complexes and violence fetishes har har. Well no. But there’s probably a certain personality type that would look to allay a fear of helplessness. And so they train, and they want a gun with firepower. But they are not violence fetishists / fabulists. These guys are not a problem, and they ought to be able to have their high cap magazines.

        Beyond that, it’s philosophical. We have paramilitary equipped local police forces these days. We’re not giving up the high cap mags if they’re not giving them up.

        2 – The “gun show loophole” is that only dealers, ie, those that have a retailer FFL, have to perform the Instacheck and fill out a 4473 on the transaction.

        There might not be all that much philosophical resistance even among the NRA to a background check on every sale. It’s the details. If we make it universal, it would then be imposed on even the most benign of transfers, right? Father to son, within family, etc. That’s not palatable. Also, the dealers have a record keeping requirement. With universal background check, a record keeping requirement is ostensibly created among the public, probably with the seller. They insulate themselves better from future problems with the gun or buyer by not maintaining records on the transaction. Compliance with the law and its entire efficacy is really only made possible then by firearms registration.

        Registration is a non-starter.

        3 – the ATF ought to be abolished. It’s a redundant body, and one that’s gone rogue.

        4 – What can I say, it is what it is. That data was not being pulled for academic purposes. It was being used to litigate the gun companies into bankruptcy a la the tobacco companies albeit with a legal theory on product liability that was much more abstract and bullshit. It was a stalking horse and the NRA was there to put it down. Tough titties, politics ain’t beanbag, these earnest wonks aren’t being candid about their intents. Crime continues to go down without this precious data.

  9. Here is a problem with what happened in Connecticut as it relates to gun laws. Connecticut has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country – one of the few states in the country that require a permit to buy a gun, even from a private party, making it one of the few states that has de facto gun registration. And the guy who murdered the children shouldn’t have had those guns. He wasn’t old enough.

    Short of taking guns away, which would require an extremely unlikely constitutional change, about the only things they could add in Connecticut as far as gun laws go is banning high capacity magazines and requiring guns be stored in safes. And I’m not sure either of those would have stopped this awful thing anyway.

    We have a cultural change ahead of us, And it won’t be easy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Connecticut

    1. Erik and Jeremy: Turns out all three of the weapons the shooter took into the school were owned and registered to his mother. Plus, he had one more weapon in his vehicle and another was found at his mother’s home. So, in addition to asking why anyone would need or want to possess five firearms, you’ve also got to talk about mental illness.

      This kid did not just wake up one morning and kill his mother, then drive to the elementary school where she worked an kill 26 more. He had to have been a very sick, troubled kid. But as Mike pointed out on his blog, you can not call the police and expect help before your kid has harmed himself or someone else; you have to wait for the splatter.

  10. PM says:

    Here is a good article with links to research that has been done on the following topics:

    1. Strict gun control laws absolutely have led to fewer deaths in other countries. (doesn’t say anything about preventing things like this, of course)
    2. The link between autism and mass violence isn’t clear.
    3. Bullying and lack of mental healthcare access are common in such shooters.
    4. Many of the survivors in Newtown will likely develop PTSD

    see: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/12/what-research-can-tell-us-about-newtown-shootings/60022/

  11. Ellen

    I hate to tell you: I have more than five firearms. I have two rifles for deer hunting, one for elk (or bigger game), a hunting shotgun, a trap shotgun, two .22 rifles for plinking, plus a couple of handguns. And I am not even a big hunter. But almost anyone who does any hunting owns at least three. In fact of the people I know who own guns, all of them own three or more.

  12. john sherman says:

    Probably the most encouraging statistic is the Sunlight Foundation’s report on “return on investment” for outside contributors in the last election, that is the percent of money spent either supporting a successful candidate or opposing a losing candidate. American Crossroad’s dismal rate of 1.29% was reported, but National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund came in at 0.83% on just under $11.8 mil; while the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action did better, but it’s not clear that the bulk of the money was spent on elections.

    I don’t know how to explain this dismal showing if the NRA is such a heavy hitter. One hypothesis is that they’re picking the pockets of the rubes and that the nominal campaign funds are largely going into the pockets of insiders, or maybe they’re just spending on the most extreme candidates, or maybe they’re not as powerful as they’re made out to be. (Planned Parenthood’s roi as I recall was around 90%.)

    I’d be curious to know why Erik thinks capacity or functionality limits are nonstarters; they strike me as comparatively easy sells. It’s hard to explain the sporting use of 25 round clips when shotguns are normally plugged for three shells. How about taxing ammunition at rates like tobacco or whiskey?

    1. Erik says:

      Shotguns being plugged for 3 shells is a function of game management and conservation. Insofar as lethality is yes the key concept here, they were at the time trying to make market hunting a less attractive vocation while preserving game opportunities for the sportsman. There is no statutory limitation on shell capacity for shotguns.

      Existing excise tax on ammunition and binoculars etc. Its 11%. What do you have in mind?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittman%E2%80%93Robertson_Federal_Aid_in_Wildlife_Restoration_Act

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Yes, Erik, I know why duck hunters’ shotguns have plugs. The point is, if that regulation doesn’t deny the duck hunters’ rights under the 2nd Amendment, then you do not need high-capacity magazines in order to enjoy your rights under the 2nd Amendment. Their ready availability makes these mass murderers more efficient in their killing. Why can’t we mitigate that?

        Before you start spinning your fantasies about needing them for some firefight you see yourself in someday, watch this:

      2. Erik says:

        As you might imagine the NRA does not go going around theorizing what might be permissible regulations under the 2nd amendment. Some of the pro 2nd amendment academics and lawyers have since the 2009 decisions. The way Scalia and Thomas wrote it, the door is without a doubt open to regulations. I expect a magazine capacity limit is constitutional. I don’t support one.

      3. Jim Leinfelder says:

        For me, what the NRA goes around saying is well beside a reasoned examination of the what we can do to preserve gun owners’ rights and balance that against public safety. Right now, there is no balance. Make your case for the need for high-capacity magazines, Erik.

      4. Erik says:

        I like how you think a Diane Sawyer piece is going to be a revelation to me Jim, and somehow make me go 180 after say 30 years of knowledge acquisition and experience.

        Look, their point is not inaccurate. These are daunting scenarios. And still, I can pull dozens of anecdotes right now about cc people stopping shootings (I won’t, I’m leaving for the afternoon.) The Clackamas mall shooting is one. Go read the Goldberg pieces in the Atlantic. Think this is daunting stuff? It is, but passivity has zero appeal. The ccw horse is out of the barn and these guys have been mostly admirable.

      5. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Nothing of what you’ve typed above addresses any reasonable argument for why we should not significantly limit high-capacity magazines.

      6. Erik says:

        Jim, yes, ya know, there’s probably a need / utility based argument that can be articulated with us honing in on a max capacity of 10. But it’s completely subjective. Why 10 and not 6? And it’s junior or inferior to the weight of what should be the real policy determining factors. Which are:

        -Spree shootings are very rare. People generally have no real chance of ever being caught in one.

        -Spree shooting perps are uniformly deranged. Lanza was ill, Holmes was ill, Loughner was ill, Cho was ill. It goes on. They’re all very sick with zero exceptions.

        I feel no obligation to argue the justification for 17 rd vs 10 rd magazines under the circumstances. Generally, normal people ought not have their rights curtailed due to the abuses of a minority offender population. Given the statistical probabilities and the ability to screen for mentally ill, this doesn’t warrant a public policy exception.

        So it’s completely philosophical.

      7. Jim Leinfelder says:

        I’m not aware that the Constitution has been understood even by this SCOTUS as vouchsafing high-capacity magazines. So 2nd Amendment rights are not at issue here. Still, Erik, you can’t be bothered to make a reasonable case for them. Just the sniffing dismissal of massacres like the one in Newtown as so rare as to be unworthy of a nation’s concern. So let’s say 10, tops.

      8. Erik says:

        We covered some of this. In my 1:40pm comment above I acknowledged a magazine limit is probably constitutional.

        The ban itself remains remains a rejectable premise. Do you not hold any libertine principles that would limit state action? On anything? What do feel about paramilitary equipped local police forces?

        I am very moved by all the events despite not being swayed from my positions.

      9. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Well, Erik, guys like you who think they can High Noon their way to a better outcome in these situations makes the case for smaller-capacity magazines all the more compelling. I don’t picture your typical shopper at a suburban mall discretely toting around a Glock with a 30-round clip in it as they enjoy an Orange Julius and eye the Victoria’ Secret display windows.

        Only a lunatic shows up with such salient hardware (and body armour, which should be a red flag, too). So let’s make it nigh on impossible for ’em to get their hands on them; thus putting the brakes on this main street arms race you’re in, and leveling the shooting field for heroic interveners such as yourself to throw down and save us all.

  13. Newt says:

    For 2nd Amendment opponents, replace the word “gun” with “steering wheel” and you have a much more compelling case to save many thousands more lives each year. We must ban the steering wheel.

    1. PM says:

      Newt:

      Just because you can save more lives by doing “a” does not mean that you shouldn’t do “b”.

      it is always a good idea to save lives–but there are also always costs involved. It is generally best to try to save the most lives at the least cost–which is why we mandate things like seat belts and have laws against drunk driving. in other words, we accept limitations on our right to drive in order to save lives.

      I expect that we will do the same with respect to gun ownership rights–place some limitations on those rights in order to save lives. The debate should be what limits will be effective (save the most lives) at the lowest possible cost (in terms of gunowners rights).

      I wonder what the NRA approach will be–an absolutist approach (sort of like what the GOP tried and is currently failing at in terms of tax increases) or a more accomodating position.

      1. Newt says:

        PM, if the ostensible goal is to save more lives, there are many, many other laws we could pass having nothing to do with guns. Gun deaths are very far down on the epidemiological totem pole in comparison to automobile deaths, drownings, preventable illness, etc.

        Ellen, 99% of gun use in the U.S. is not for the purpose of killing humans. Lawful hunting of game, target practice and self defense (the threat of force) represent the vast bulwark of gun possession and use.

        I think semi-automatic military weapons in the hands of civilians is a very bad idea. But we all know their possession will never be prevented, irrespective of laws.

        Our focus needs to be on mitigation of mass casualty through better management of mental illness and better security in high-density public gatherings.

        And last, unstable people will inflict unspeakable harm on innocent others. It’s called life. We can mitigate risk to a small extent, but never eliminate it.

        The emotional reaction is understandable, but emotional solutions should be avoided.

    2. Newt: The difference is that cars are designed for transportation. Guns are designed for killing.

      I’m not a 2nd Amendment opponent; I don’t think anyone on this thread has said he/she is. But the 2nd Amendment is not an absolute amendment; it certainly can have limits placed on it in a constitutional way, as we have done with every other amendment to the constitution.

      The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. But child pornography is unconstitutional; so are libel, revealing national security information, extortion, threats, etc. 2nd Amendment supporters must be willing to accept that they can not run rough-shod over other rights.

      Today we know that the mom owned 5 firearms, all legally purchased. As Jeremy said, she was a collector; her original family in New Hampshire collected guns, as well. Did her 5 firearms “cause” Friday’s slaughter? No. A mentally-deranged young man did. But, he had ready access to those guns. Instead of simply killing his mother and himself, for some twisted, evil reason he decided to drive to an elementary school and murder 20 children, as well. He had 3 weapons with him in the school and a 4th in the trunk of his mother’s car.

      As PM said, can’t we all begin a discussion about something being terribly, terribly wrong in a country that has allowed this situation to even be possible? It will take a cultural shift, as Jeremy says, and it won’t be easy.

      And I appreciated the knowledge Erik was able to bring to this exchange (when he wasn’t being a name-calling bully.) He added a perspective that must also be included in any discussion.

      But for now I know that we are all parents; those 20 children were all of ours. And when we start seeing 20 little coffins on Monday and Tuesday it will be a heart-rending visual.

      So, for the rest of today, I just don’t want to fence with anybody on this blog about this.

      But we can not forget.

      Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

      1. Dennis lang says:

        Yes, very stimulating conversation, multiple views thoughtfully (for the most part) exchanged. The Crowd we’ve come to know and love!

      2. Erik says:

        Ellen, I didn’t bully you.

        You introduced a fake internet meme into this conversation in order to further a caricature.

        I expressed some disgust and sized the matter up for what it was.

      3. This is a group of journalists and otherwise first amendment proponents. Are we willing to curtail first-person shooter video games?

        Millions are sold each year. The whole purpose of the game is to find guns and ammunition and kill things with them in a ever-more-realistic virtual world. They serve no purpose in the Jeffersonian ideal of freedom of the press. Or is banning computer games, which would virtually be impossible anyway because they’d be downloaded from off-shore servers in a week, part of the slippery slope of infringing on constitutional rights? But they are part of the cultural shift. If we’re going to try to have a more peaceful society, do we let hormone-drunk young males play them.

        We don’t know whether this played a part in the killings, but for a 20-year-old affluent computer-loving loner, I would be shocked if they don’t find a couple of versions of Call to Duty and Halo – both of which had new versions released right in time for the holidays – in the killer’s home.

        1. Dennis lang says:

          Yes, so many of these mass-murder narratives seem to have played out with such similarity, and the real life scenes of unimaginable horror have an uncanny resemblance to the virtual reality of the game.

          It’s a compelling and disturbing question, when it’s reported teenage boys are spending upwards of fourteen hours a week playing video gmes. What are they learning, and is something fundamental about being human being lost? How is ones self-understanding being shaped by the violence and will-to-power these games portray with their focus on conflict and resolution through mastery and instant preemptive response rather than deliberation and community?

          However in my mind none of those questions and possibilities justifies censorship.

    1. Erik says:

      You think highly of Ezra and his crew eh. Explain Dylan’s item 5 to me. It’s incomprehensible. He obviously got it straight from the mouth of an activist, and has no contextual ability to translate it out in practical English.

      I don’t think I’m wrong to be irritated that the cultural left has no idea what it’s talking about and no idea what it wants. Fallows apparently felt this a compelling enough point yesterday to include a couple paragraphs on it ie the basic topical illiteracy that liberals have.

    2. PM says:

      Here is the item that Erik objects to:
      “5. 8-year-olds with shotguns: Federal law mandates that licensed gun dealers only sell long guns to individuals 18 and older, and handguns to individuals 21 and older. But not all legal gun sellers are federally licensed. For instance, many gun show participants sell guns legally without a federal license. That means that many under 18 and 21 are capable of buying guns legally. As mentioned above, Vermont allows children as young as 16 to buy handguns without parental consent.
      What’s more, federal law allows all individuals 18 and older to possess handguns, and has no minimum age for long gun possession. Only 20 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum age for long gun possession. The age is usually set at 18, but in New York it’s only 16, and in Montana it’s 14. So in Helena, one can legally own a shotgun before graduating from 8th grade. And in the 30 states with no such minimum age, you could own one when you’re in elementary school.
      Further, only 28 states and the District set a minimum age for sales from unlicensed gun dealers. Twenty-two states, then, have no such minimum age. And in three states, the minimum age for sales only applies to long guns. So in 22 states it is perfectly legal for an 8-year-old to pick up a handgun at a gun show, though he cannot legally possess it. In 20 states that 8 year old can both legally buy a shotgun and possess it.”

      So we have minimum ages for all sorts of things–drinking, driving, voting, boating, etc.

      Why is it that the minimum age for purchasing/owning a shotgun in 20 states is lower than the age you have to be in order to complete the NRA Hunter Safety course? (age 12, in case you don’t know).

      Why not have a mandatory federal minimum legal age for all gun ownership/purchasing? 18 would be fine by me. Wouldn’t prevent me from going hunting w/ my kids, or having guns for their use–but i would clearly be responsible for them and the guns. Also, clearly, would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy, but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good policy to have.

      Do you need any more ‘splainin?

      1. Erik says:

        Because we have federalism, so each state passed their own law, like a hundred years ago, and these laws pre-date the NRA’s curriculum. Even if they were going to take the NRAs legislative guidance anyway. And these laws were written primarily towards a context of minor possession while sustenance bird hunting, and were never really updated because there never was a glaring need.

        Now, you were a legislative professional. Am I right? Or is Dylan Matthews right that this reflects some sort of malfeasance?

      2. Erik says:

        “Not all legal gun sellers are federally licensed”

        There is a pattern here of the left making the mundane into the nefarious. The shotgun thing being one example, this being another.

        It is correct to say that not all legal gun sellers are federally licensed. Which is just to say that Joe Schmoo can sell his deer rifle to Joe Sixpac without either of them being dealers. Jeeeeeeez.

        There’s no such thing as an unlicensed dealer. You’re either a dealer or you are not. If you’re engaging in a business like pattern of buying and selling, you’re obligated to have a license and adhere to all statutes for records keeping and Instacheck. If you don’t have the license, it’s an actionable offense.

      3. PM says:

        Pretty big assumption you are making there, Erik. Do you know when those laws were passed? (something more than “like, a hundred years ago”)

        Further, as you again point out, the federal law only applies to liscenced dealers–not to the sales by private individuals–where these state laws would apply.

        The problem here is in the shady area between legal unregulated sales and illegal sales. We had much the same issue with alcohol, and so all sales of alcohol had to be regulated sales–unregulated sales are illegal–no loopholes.

        Why not for guns?

      4. Erik says:

        No, it’s not a big assumption, though I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of every state. It’s a very small assumption that has an enormous likelihood of being correct. Montana became a state in 1889, 122 years ago. There’s a common etymology here that can narrate how conservation and firearms laws came about during the pioneer era, and I have described it. I’m an expert. Dylan Mathews isn’t, nor are you. You are an expert on the legislative process though, so you ought to be able to identify the best information as long as you’re capable of stepping outside the epistemic loop.

        I’m not saying it can’t be legislated federally. I’m saying there’s a habit of making the mundane into the nefarious. A lot of this stuff is very mundane, and not all that ‘gray’.

      5. PM says:

        Erik:
        Perhaps i am irony impaired (or perhaps you are not so good at irony–it does seem to be more of a liberal thing, after all), but i am trying to figure out what you didn’t like about the article you cited.

        is it this?
        “But too many pieces I’ve read make a mockery of robust debate in a pluralistic society by ignoring the fact that current policy is largely (though not entirely) a reflection of the U.S. public disagreeing with gun reformers. The average American is far more likely than the average journalist or academic to identify with gun culture, to insist that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms, to exercise that right, and to support various state concealed-carry laws.”

        or maybe this is the section that has you all worked up:
        “Opponents of gun control have been widely vilified in the past week. Very few attempts have been made to understand what motivates them — and given that they’re a subset of Americans with little representation in the national media, attempts at understanding would likely do a lot to inform the rest of the American public. For the most part, these people aren’t in fact motivated by selfishness, as so many critics have stated or implied in the last few days, and almost without exception, gun-control opponents are as horrified by the events in Newtown as anyone calling for a new assault-weapons ban or better background checks or a ban on ammunition. ”

        Or maybe you just don’t like the author (you have referred to him as a douche before). But his central points seem to reflect much of what you have to say.

      6. PM says:

        I thought that it was a good article, too. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks that serious new gun control legislation is now a no-brainer.

  14. What I’ve learned this Monday morning:

      All of the little ones killed Friday were 6 or 7 years old.
      One of the little boys was shot 11 times.

    And here’s a moving and surprising editorial this morning from Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe. A conservative Republican who served 4 terms in Congress with the highest NRA rating, Scarborough announces a change of heart.

  15. Newt says:

    Not everybody can be Rosie O’Donnell and have a personal armed security escort while spewing anti-2nd Amendment rhetoric.

  16. bertram jr. says:

    Bertram is shocked, SHOCKED that the delicate Ellen would rush to judgement about a BIG BAD BLACK GUN.

    1. Erik says:

      I have been thinking about this. I’ll acquiesce on the magazines. This is, albeit, as an individual.

      The “assault rifles” are not going to get banned. That’s just a statement of unemotional fact. This is a highly evolved part of the market at this point. Most of you folks I gather have no idea how mainstream they are. It’s basically the preferred form factor for a rifle these days, and that includes hunting actually.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Says who, besides you and sites the likes of ar15.com?

        http://www.americanhunter.org/articles/olmsted-top-10-hunting-rifles/

        I suppose “varmint hunters” who are bad shots probably like an AR-15 with a large-capacity magazine that enables them to plink away at coyotes and, what, nutria? Killing for killing’s sake? Beyond that, I’m not convinced that meat hunters have much use for them.

        To me, the problem that so called “black rifles” present is still the magazine capacity and, yes, the mentality that seems to attach to weapons like the AR-15.

        I don’t see the appeal to sportsmen and women.

        You have one, Erik? If so, for what?

      2. Erik says:

        I do not have an AR. I have one centerfire rifle, a Winchester Model 70 in .270 that my grandfather gave me when I was a teenager. It is hard to improve on, as the list there in the magazine reflects. I have shot many deer with it, and there has been nothing that’s been invented that would give me more utility. Or perhaps more utility would have just been wasted on me. But nonetheless I never bought an additional big rifle. I have shot the ARs though and they are pleasant to shoot, and I do maintain that they are and will remain the preferred form factor because of these pleasant ergonomics. My tastes are very retro, I like golden age America stuff and have plenty of it. I was in the new Bill’s Range that’s nearby recently. I’m not sure you can get a deer rifle with a wood stock there. It’s just about all black rifles / modern, and they largely cater to the newbie.

        This AR genie is not going back in the bottle. Under the circumstances, I don’t know how its possible to get the votes. They’re just too ubiquitous.

      3. PM says:

        One other point I’d make is this–it might be possible to either place limits or bans on AR style guns, but what about all of the ones already out there? I doubt that we are going to confiscate them, nor do i think any type of a buyback program would work (as in Australia). For at least the next 50 to 100 years, they are a fact of American life.

      4. Erik

        I disagree that AR-15 style rifles, or other rifles modeled on military weapons after World War II, are the preferred form of hunting rifles. I’ve never seen one in the field by a serious hunter.

        I do agree that for the same reasons the US Military chose the original M16 (the fully auto version) is what makes the semi-automatic civilian version so popular among people who like blasting targets and cans. They are very ergonomic, easy to shoot and shoot well, very accurate within their intended range, are easily customizable allowing for various small changes that allow people to personalize them to their own taste, easily repaired with a few cheap tools, parts are everywhere, cheap to buy compared to similar sporting rifles and because it uses the same ammunition that is produced in huge lots by government contractors for the military it costs about half as much to shoot as a common hunting rifle.

  17. Newt says:

    All of this would be solved if we armed Mexican drug cartels with more weaponry. Wait, Obama already tried that.

  18. Erik says:

    Do you folks think 20 children have been killed in presidentially initiated drone attacks? That’s errant unintended collateral damage in much the same that Newtown is to gun freedoms. What’s our responsibility there, and particularly yours, as Obama supporters?

    1. PM says:

      Erik–
      how in any way are these situations supposed to be analogous?

      and why would anyone who voted for Obama have any more responsibility for that than someone who supported Romney would have responsibility for, say, the Mountain Meadows massacre?

      Seriously, get a grip!

  19. bertram jr. says:

    The “Black Rifle”, simply a sporting arm on the platform of the standard issue military rifle since 1963, is no more deadly in the hands of a psychopath than a lever action 30.30, a semi automatic colt .45 pistol or a bolt action deer rifle. Or a hatchet. Or a kitchen knife.

    Or a ….oh never mind. Liberals who know nothing about guns will always be afraid of them, unless, like Rosie ODonnell, they need to be protected by one.

    Guns have two functions – either to operate or to fail. Gun “violence” is caused by a faulty operator, not a gun.

    Its really quite alarming how some people get “emotional” over guns.

    1. Ellen is shocked, SHOCKED, at how few people can spell “it’s” correctly.

      We can tell you don’t get “emotional” over things so you will probably get a BIG KICK out of this: http://nyti.ms/T3pecR

      It’s [please notice spelling] a hysterical recap of two funerals yesterday.

      One was for a 6-year-old named Noah. He wanted to be a manager of a taco factory, a soldier and a doctor. You can see his hearse – it’s big and black so don’t be afraid of it, OK? – see a picture of Noah, when he was alive, still. And, the best part, you can read the actual eulogy his mother delivered. It’s really so “emotional,” – just like a woman – because it starts out this way:

      “The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man.” Ha ha! The sky can’t cry!! Only stupid liberals would say that.

      The other funeral was for another 6-year-old named Joe. He wanted to be the the center of attention in every room he ever entered and always tried to catch up with his big brother who was 2 years older than him. Of course, he never will be able to now. And he sure as heck won’t ever be best man at his brother’s wedding. But, heh. Millions of kids die all the time so what’s one more?

      Oh..and I’m not sure if either one of these kids was the one whose body was riddled with 11 bullets because they have not released that detail.

      But, man. Wouldn’t that be something?

      And now we (and I assume I can speak for Leinfelder and Lambert) will sign off with a -30-.

      That means this story is over.

      1. Dennis lang says:

        God, I hope no one attempts to follow that Ellen. In this discussion that has been circling itself for days it would be a pathetic anti-climax. Noah… the image just keeps sending chills.

  20. bertram jr. says:

    In fact, Lambert gets downright fraught with anxiety when passing Ammo Warehouse, a legal retail establishment.

    Geez, Bertram wonders if folks like Lambert and the similarly Utopian Leinfelder / Mrja axis know how this country was founded, and further, tamed? How it was defended, and it’s freedoms ensured?

    More children were killed in “guns are banned” Chicago than in Newton, in the last three months, by “gun violence”. (You know, the city where Rahm is mayor and Barry was an “organizer” and the DFL reigns all-powerful).

    Yet, I detect utter silence in this space regarding that fact……

    Deafening silence, in fact.

  21. bertram jr. says:

    Now that a few days have passed, would any of the anti-gun, anti-Constitution hysterics who commented above like to re-examine their screeds?

    Ellen, how ’bout we start with you – and the fact that a Bushmaster .223 rifle was found in the alleged killer’s car trunk, and not used at all in the school shooting?

    Bertram, if nothing else, calls again for civility, and an informed blogospere.

    Guns do not cause violence. A semi-automatic rifle used for hunting and target shooting is not justly or accurately called an “assault weapon”. Assault by definition is an act, and not the function of a tool.

    Violence, as well, is not the work of a tool, it is an act, perpetrated by evil, disturbed individuals.

    Reasonable people, including the founders, guaranteed the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms. To protect our liberty against the evil, the disturbed, and…. the government.

    Bertram finds those who would restrict our Constitutionally guaranteed liberties to be playing for the wrong team, at minimum.

    Fear based, hysterical “assaults” on inanimate tools reveal the folly of the liberal mindset.

    We armed pilots. We guard money with guns. We trust teachers with our children, yet the liberal gasps at the notion of armed protection of our children.

    The same liberal who is flocking to the gun store and the concealed carry classes RIGHT NOW. You see, liberalism is the conceit that you know what is best for others. If you fear the gun, the gun must be removed from anyone else’s possession.

    The fear is seen in the complete ignorance of the types, uses, and operational aspects of guns, which have been around since, what, the Spaniards circa 1430? Citizen possession of automatic weapons have been outlawed since, what 1932? And yet “journalists” and “bloggers” do not even know the difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic gun. Rather, they operate from a fear based, reactionary platform, which is serviced by the erroneous and self serving emotion that they “know what is best”. And they display their ignorance proudly, with no irony, no awareness of their folly.

    The fear is also seen in the fact that it was the Democrats who invented Jim Crow, segregation, and even facilitated slavery. Welfare, resulting in the destruction of the black family, also a “liberal” invention.

    AAffirmative action, also a detrimental conceit invented by the “liberal mind”.

    Do you see a pattern?

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      When convenient, someone help my out. Has the concept of “liberal mind” ever been adequately defined here?

    2. Jim Leinfelder says:

      This is the standard conceit of the gun crowd: pedantry masquerading as profundity. We understand the distinction between semi and fully automatic. It’s not hard to grasp.

      The AR-15’s appeal, and other military-style rifles, is mainly fantasy fulfillment with a generous sprinkling of elaborate rationalizations. It looks like a military assault rifle, like it came out of Rambo’s own foot locker, for marketing purposes. Nobody’s going to hunt deer with it, maybe shoot rats down at the town dump. But you don’t need a high-capacity magazine for that sort of nothing-else-to-do-around-here plinking. And a shotgun’s better for home defense.

      It’s, of course, at this point that you boys play the incipient insurrectionist card. As if…

      1. Erik says:

        You’re uninformed here Jim. You obviously have no basis of knowledge to make these assertions. .223 is legal for deer in MN among many other places. They are being used for hunting.

      2. PM says:

        OK, Erik sure they are legal for deer, and I am certain that there are some people who do indeed use them for hunting. But…..Jim’s larger point still stands, i think.

        And that is that the people who buy AR-15’s mainly do so because they are trying to live up to a fantasy image of themselves as some sort of Rambo. Think of Ralphie in A Christmas Story going after Black Bart with his Red Ryder BB gun….that is the sort of thing that many people do when shooting (I know, I have done it too).

        People buy guns in much the same way they buy cars–image fulfillment. Generally, this is not a problem, but there are (sadly) plenty of people for whom reality and fantasy tend to blend together, and some of them use their guns as a portion of their fantasy lives….

      3. Erik says:

        So what? The problematic aspects of this are statistically insignificant.

        To parse what remains of what rationale you might have, we’re left with the culture war. Snark, basically. Snark as empiricism.

        I get it, by the way. I buy some things as a manifestation of Walter Mitty image fulfillment. I hazard that most men do a variation of this. Jim hurls apparently. I played amateur ball with 20 somethings long after I had no business doing so as well. What do you do to make yourself more vigorous and badass than you are PM?

        So what?

      4. Jim Leinfelder says:

        I didn’t write that an AR-15 is illegal for deer, Erik. But there are vastly better rifles for taking deer cleanly, humanely, sportingly than a .223 round. You need some mass to go with muzzle velocity, stopping power. Your Grandfather’s rifle, or, the Mauser that was left to me, is far better for the task.

        Most of these guys and gals buy ’em just to fondle ’em and plink with ’em.

        I resent you lumping in any team sport with this gun fetish. I don’t pretend to play hurling. I play it. I don’t just hit a ball off a wall and leave it at that. I actually play in matches. You don’t just go to a batting cage, do you? You actually play baseball, right?

        But the vast majority of AR-15 owners, or Bushmasters, or whatever gun designed to pander to this military fan boy demo, they’re not ever getting in the game of warfare, or of armed insurrection. It’s all a morbid fantasy, like Lanza’s mother’s “prepper” fantasies. So, fine, continue to live out these fantasies, or, hunt deer, with no more in your magazine than 10 rounds and lock it up when you’re done.

        That too much to ask?

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          Hmm…And all I ever wanted for Christmas was a Schwinn Corvette. Preferably metallic blue. Yup, Mom and Dad came through–like always. Looks like times, are a bit different now.

      5. Erik says:

        Yes, mass, as a generality. But the .223 is not inferior to the .30-30 re energy. That equivalent energy is created with more velocity of course. This is not my thing, as reloading bores me to tears, but I have more than a casual acquaintance with the writing that’s around. There’s a lot of lethality to deer sized game that is delivered with shock / speed.

        Point being, .30-30 is very low powered. And it’s been the staple of American deer hunters for 100+ years. It’s more than enough within 100 yards. I’d say .223 isn’t widely adopted for deer yet, but I know it’s plenty good and that people are using it.

        I think you’re biases are reinforcing a notion that a deer rifle has to look like a model 70.

      6. Erik says:

        They are not saying it’s not their first choice. They are arguing proper application. And application is why there are like 500 different cartridge types in the first place.

        Did you read all those comments in there from guys who hunt with .223? It seems to belie a notion that no one hunts deer with .223.

    3. Jim Leinfelder says:

      You’re right, Erik, I hyperbolically over stated when I wrote that nobody hunts with a .223. Heck, there are folks who’ll take a deer with a .22 LR round. But, judging from some of these ammo bulletin boards, I’d still put both in the minority.

    4. Joe Loveland says:

      Bertram, do you have a (non-blogger) citation for your claim about “the fact that a Bushmaster .223 rifle was found in the alleged killer’s car trunk, and not used at all in the school shooting?”

      That’s news to me.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        Thanks Erik. I hadn’t been aware of that one. I’m sure my guy Bertram will have an apology for accusing my gal Ellen of being ill-informed.

        Even if a Bushmaster weren’t used in this case, we still should ban citizens from having weapons that kill as rapidly as a Bushmaster. At the very least, let’s take the efficiency out of mass murder.

        The most lame part of this debate is the oft used logic that goes like this: If Policy X wouldn’t have prevented Tragedy X, then Policy X is worthless. Or, if Policy X wouldn’t prevent all or most tragedies, then Policy X is worthless.

        Such a lazy argument. It’s like arguing that because ICBMs aren’t useful in battling al Qaeda, we shouldn’t have ICBMs, when in fact you need many different kinds of tools in the national security quiver, including ICBMs.

        For a problem like gun violence, you need multiple tools: Better mental health screening and treatment, better gun purchase screening, better security at frequently targeted venues, removing WMDs from the streets, and probably other things that are not coming to me. You have to hit it from different angles. There is no, ahem, silver bullet.

      2. Minnesotan says:

        Joe, I’m not sure if you realize just how many guns would have to be included in a “ban” that would prevent citizens from owning “a weapon that can kill as rapidly the Bushmaster.” The only thing that separates the bushmaster from millions of hunting rifles is the aesthetic design. Functionally, it’s no different than a semi-automatic 30.06, an extremely popular deer hunting rifle. Or any semi-automatic pistol.

        “Banning” these types of weapons seems a little unrealistic to me. Too many law abiding citizens already own these types of guns.

      3. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Due to its fragile nature, the basis for “Bertram’s” private reality has to be stove-piped to him from select and dubious sources or risk the agony of reconciling his views with the complexity and nuance of objective reality.

        In a related thread, on the subject of mental health treatment as one of the legs of the three-legged stool of mass-murder-by-semi-automatic-rifle prevention or mitigation, let’s face it: Lanza came from a very affluent family situated in an area with a surfeit of mental health providers for people of means. But mental health treatment is not like antibiotics or vaccines. Mental health treatment is not an easy fix and doesn’t always take permanently. The only way to cut the Gordian Knot of mass murder by gun is make it VERY difficult to gain access to high-capacity magazines for any firearm remotely like a military assault weapon. Canada is a good example.

        Our mental health system is pathetic and should be improved. But I don’t look to any slow progress toward improving it as the principle means of preventing and mitigating mass atrocities the likes of Newtown, or Aurora, or Virginia Tech.

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          “Due to its fragile nature, the basis for “Bertram’s” private reality has to be stove-piped to him from select and dubious sources or risk the agony of reconciling his views with the complexity and nuance of objective reality.”

          Damn, that’s good! Well done Leinfelder.

      4. Erik says:

        If Policy X wouldn’t have prevented Tragedy X, then Policy X is worthless, is yes a point that’s been made. But it’s a tertiary point.
        The primary point is that these rifles account for a statistically insignificant amount of homicide and / or misuse.

        There’s no cost / benefit to a ban, no efficacy to a ban, and you penalize / encumber 99% and then some of the people who use these legitimately and view them as legitimate.

        I’m far from worried at this point. Yesterday Diane Feinstein introduced the outline to her bill, and it’s completely ridiculous. Insofar as various rural Democrats were going to be courted to cross over, that aint going to happen. They can’t vote for it. Not Walz, not Joe Manchin, etc. And thing is, gun laws have never followed this model where you write a broad bill and then bargain some things away to gain support.

        This is going nowhere, and this remains a function of you folks broadly not knowing what you’re talking about, what you want, and how to get it.

      5. Joe Loveland says:

        I’d have absolutely no problem stopping the future sale of guns that can accommodate big ammo magazines and kill quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s practical at this point to seize guns that are already out there, but I have no problem banning future sales.

        My logic is the same for saying citizens shouldn’t have rocket propelled grenade launchers. Sure, they could be used for self-defense. Sure, they would be cool for collectors to have. Sure, someone could say they were guns, and subject to the constitutional protection. Sure, most who would get them probably would be good guys and not bad guys. But RPGs are just too good at killing people quickly and efficiently, and so citizens shouldn’t have them. The same applies to guns that can fire a dozen-ish rounds per minute.

        And please, gun experts, don’t give me a lecture about the fine points of different kinds of guns. Policymakers can figure out details. I don’t know guns, and I don’t care to study them. My point is a general one, and it’s no less valid because it is general: Citizens don’t need guns that can mow people down en masse in seconds, so let’s stop selling guns and ammo that do that.

      6. Minnesotan says:

        No offense Joe, but that’s why so many folks are so dubious of those who talk about “sensible gun control.” They have so little idea of firearms, they’re ideas of what is “sensible” is actually nonsense.

        I’m not trying to lecture you, but we’re not splitting hairs here. We’re not arguing semantics.These aren’t “finer points.” The only thing that differentiates the Bushmaster in the photo that accompanies this post and hundreds of different models of firearms is that it “looks scary.” Functionally it’s no different than the type of gun you would envision someone hunting deer with.

      7. Erik says:

        Your side has very little intellectual investment in it, and it shows. It’s an obstacle Joe.

        One manifestation of this is that you got a large group of ostensibly earnest Democrats who support common sense regulations. But then you farm out the legislative water carrying to Feinstein. She’s a gun abolitionist. But you’re none the wiser as she drafts bills that have no chance. You just think the big bad NRA did its black magic and that was that.

        You’re going to have to acquaint yourselves enough with the factual lay of the land to identify a new legislative champion among the Democrats.

      8. Joe Loveland says:

        I’m going to say something really radical now: Deer hunter wants should not be untouchable. If deer hunters are using guns that can mow down dozens of people per minute, that should stop. Not because deer hunters are bad people — some of my best friends and relatives are deer hunters — but because a small percentage of people can do too much damage too fast with those guns. The need to preserve innocent humans is paramount to the need to harvest deer in the most efficient means possible.

        Some who know guns try to use their knowledge of guns to say everyone else’s opinion is invalid. I don’t buy it. People who don’t have detailed knowledge about social service programs, aren’t told “you can’t have an opinion on that because you can’t pass the Food Stamp quiz.”

        Look, I know my viewpoint isn’t going to carry the day in Washington. I don’t disagree with that. But that’s not going to shut me up about what I think is an insane policy.

      9. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Minnesotan:

        I don’t believe your assertions to Joe for a minute. Here’s why:

        Some gun shop called, “Bud’s” on line will sell me a dandy 30.06 with a scope on line for the hunting of dear. As I look down the specs, it shows for capacity, “4 +1,” meaning four in the magazine and one in the chamber.

        I go to Cabela’s for a Bushmaster, and among the specs is a 30-round magazine. Unlike most of your crowd’s petty pedantry, that is a distinction with a DIFFERENCE.

        And that is Joe’s, and most people I know who are not obsessed with guns, point: the gratuitous capacity for mass slaughter. It’s at this point that you all claim to be nascent Minute Men, which is, of course, ludicrous.

      10. Minnesotan says:

        That’s the magazine that comes standard with the rifle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a larger aftermarket magazine. Although to a certain extent you are right. You’ll probably never find a 30 capacity magazine for a 30.06.

      11. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Yes, Minnesotan, but unlike the 30.06, the Bushmaster Cabela’s offers lists among its standard specs a 30-round clip. Its capacity for mass slaughter is part of the sales pitch, Minnesotan. That’s the only realistic point to having that sort of capacity. And THAT is what is so offensive about it.

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          Hate to change the subject. As if anyone so passionately absorbed in the virtues of killing machines would notice. But if there’s word on how our buddy Benidt is doing with his pancreatitis, please update. Thanks.

  22. PM says:

    OK, here is an interesting article about a variety of different approaches to solving the problem of gun violence:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/28/the-economics-of-gun-control/

    What are the social costs of gun ownership, and how might those costs be equitably be spread across society? Should we pay for those costs via taxes, regulation, or insurance?

    I do think that there are some thoughtful ideas here that might offer us a way forward (sadly these ideas are not too llikely to make it into legislative proposals…)

      1. Erik says:

        And you know this because why? Because you’re so high info on guns and gun control? Or because you’re low info on guns and gun control but trust your people / other liberals, etc.

      2. PM says:

        no, I know this because I am not a simpleton, and can read things critically. i read the article you referred to and it is total partisan bs.

      3. Erik says:

        … you really put me in a corner there…allow me a moment to fret while I figure how to answer that.

        How about…no, not a preferred example.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I didn’t realize you were an America-hating Nazi, PM. Those Eurowusses can’t even recite the differences between an AR-15 and an AR-15A2. Therefore, they are irrelevant, obsequious douchebags.

      1. Erik says:

        Sir, my behavior has been completely adult and gentlemanly.

        I do take it that Minnesotan and I won that point on ignorance.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Yes, “very little intellectual investment” is to be distinguished from “moron.” Appreciate that.

        But I’ve been investing away. I’ve been burning the midnight oil memorizing the Encyclopedia of Firearms so that I am worthy of having an opinion about whether having rapid fire weapons widely available is a good idea. A very important prerequisite, to be sure.

      3. Erik says:

        It’s quite a bit different from ‘moron’. It means you, your side, refuses to know enough about the topic to seriously engage the other side. You’d rather have the comfort of your blithe assumptions and certitude.

        I gave you the practical result of this. Dianne Feinstein is then allowed to write bills that are too broad. And then you get to think there’s serious legislation out there getting short shrift. But that’s not the case. But you don’t know any better, there in the bubble of ignorance.

        For crying out loud, this is an issue that screams for someone like Amy Klobuchar to take on.

      4. Erik says:

        Very impressive Joe, calling me out and then running away when I arrive and make you confront this idea. There again…

        For that matter, Happy New Year to you. I wish the best to everyone.

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          I was just telling my older brother as this topic has continued here, that the beauty of the Crowd is it’s openeness (in the proud tradition of “liberal thought”) to conflicting viewpoints–not just a bunch of people agreeing with each other. I think Benidt’s innocent post has stimulated the most sustained and passionate dialogue in Crowd history –although its sustenance is dependent on only a few, and it has resonated a touch with a little “Who’s On First” from time to time.

          Nice work gang. I’ve enjoyed listening in. To 2013!!

    1. Erik says:

      Re Williamson, this isn’t a strange or new perspective. It is true, and obvious, and has long been mainstream civics.

      My parents were very nearly hippies (but were probably too blue collar to qualify. They didn’t wander the country like vagabonds certainly, but they were attuned to that zeitgeist). Suffice it to say, they were Democrats.

      My mother explained the importance of the 2A in 1974, when Nixon was getting impeached. The 2A was there in case Nixon had to be forced out. She explained it again in 1980, when she was alarmed Reagan and Jerry Falwell would put Catholics in camps.

      Mind you, she was not then and is not now a crazy person. That’s what the 2A has always been for, and it is not contingent on how necessary an insurrection is at this moment, chortle chortle.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Oh, please, Erik. I don’t want to disparage your parents, but I was alive and politically aware in ’74, and while, yes, there was a lot of talk of the “Constitutional crisis” we faced as a nation, the system was still working and, of course, did work.

        Your Mother’s recollections of the need for armed mobs of citizens needed to frog march Nixon out of the White House strikes me as nonsense and not widely embraced at the time.

      2. Erik says:

        Good for you Jim, you find it laughable. You miss the point.

        So, this is not the explanation of the 2nd Amendment you learned in middle school civics 40 years ago or whatever?

      3. Jim Leinfelder says:

        I actually don’t recall learning about the 2nd Amendment while in middle school in the way you did, Erik. My recollection is that it was ambiguous and quite dated in any practical sense and more of an anachronism embraced by people displaced by 19th Century industrialization.

        But I have certainly been hearing it hysterically interpreted that way from people like you and your mother for many years since.

        But having become a more independent thinker than I was in middle school, I quite simply find it to be ludicrous to think that the late Mrs. Lanza and her Bushmaster-owning peers will be mounting any insurrections of the United States government. This is merely the dark fantasy of the intractable, radical right that is now hamstringing our democratic system. It is the self-pitying rational for wounded psyches the likes of Timothy McVeigh. It is a way of dressing up the middle school ids of grown men and women desiring military-style weapons for the atavistic thrill of the sense of lethal power they confer in their otherwise impotent lives.

        I think it’s nonsense.

        Meanwhile, the country’s actual problems, for which intelligent, well-reasoned people actually offer workable solutions, go unaddressed.

      4. Erik says:

        Right. You’re a devotee of a ‘Freudian’ observation on gun-owning.

        Most of the time you don’t come off as an unlearned quack, and that is probably worthy of compliment.

      5. Erik says:

        Meh, I’m too harsh. But your view is basically “bitter clingers” which is basically “religion is the opium of the masses” which is Marx. And yours is undeniably a Marxist deconstruction re the impotence that comes from industrialization.

        That it?

      6. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Well, Erik, just the military-style rifles with the high-capacity magazines. Yeah, I think there’s something puerile about that fascination.

        I come from a family, at least on my late Father’s side, with an avid interest in guns, the history of the American frontier, and just the aesthetic and engineering of guns. My Grandfather owned many antique muzzle loaders and liked to dress up in buckskins and go to a place called, Hungry Hollow, where other devotees of black powder rifles would gather to shoot them at targets, trade and just enjoy each others’ company.

        His two sons continued his interest. Both own, or did own, many different firearms: pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns. So I don’t disparage gun owners and shooting enthusiasts. I understand the satisfaction of hitting what you’re aiming at. To a great extent, much of sport is a sublimation of that primitive urge. And I also understand the notion of self protection, though I myself do not live in mortal fear.

        But my eyes do roll skyward when I hear all this spittle-flecked talk about being ready to overthrow the government on short notice from the types who feel the need for high-capacity military-style rifles. I have a problem with yay-hoos who show up at otherwise peaceful political gatherings with a weapon on their hips or strapped to their thighs SWAT-style. That, as I’ve said, strikes me as one elaborate rationalization.

      7. Jim Leinfelder says:

        If I may, Erik, if you want to continue to be sincerely and respectfully engaged, I’d prefer you not reduce my text to self-serving bumper-sticker short hand.

      8. PM says:

        “But your view is basically “bitter clingers” which is basically “religion is the opium of the masses” which is Marx. And yours is undeniably a Marxist deconstruction re the impotence that comes from industrialization.”

        Seriously, Erik…..

        (fwiw, “Marxist deconstruction” is itself fairly ridiculous–just because Foucault and Derrida sometimes called themselves Marxists (or were called so by others) doesn’t mean that deconstruction has anything at all to do with Marx–just that those who like deconstruction also sometimes like Marx. And, frankly, they were more structuralists than Marxists, really–because they felt that language was more determinative than class or economics–an approach that Marx would probably have rejected as hopelessly bourgeois)

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          Hmm… I’m betting this is the first time today the names of Foucault and Derrida have come up in any other blog anywhere. Such a name-dropper PM!

      9. Erik says:

        Fair enough, and I liked your long answer. But it leads me to serious questions. I gather our feelings of impotence at big moneyed interests are a productive impulse when they drive us to progressive, communal actions. But our feelings of impotence are not productive when they motivate us to have a gun.

        I find this all terribly subjective, the product of sloppy application of an academic Marxist deconstruction argument. I’m not being hyperbolic or pejorative. I find it unpersuasive and insulting.

      10. Erik says:

        Thing is, ‘bitter clingers’ is a false consciousness argument. To note that is not hyperbolic or pejorative.

      11. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Erik, you wrote: “I gather our feelings of impotence at big moneyed interests are a productive impulse when they drive us to progressive, communal actions. But our feelings of impotence are not productive when they motivate us to have a gun.”

        Is that a really serious question? First of all, merely “having” a gun does precisely nothing to practically address such feelings of impotence, unexamined feelings of impotence, I would add. Though clutching a Bushmaster may briefly assuage them on some psychological level. Secondly, the murderous violence implied by your argument is hardly on equal footing with “progressive, communal actions,” or any other non-violent political effort to influence public policy.

    2. Erik says:

      You’re ostensibly both old and learned PM. What about the Williamson argument is new and strange to you?

      What is it you thought 2A was for?

      1. PM says:

        I am not a big fan of the “original intent” school–First, i do not think that it is ever possible to know what the original intent of the Founders might have been; Second, I am not certain that the original intent (even if we could “know” it) should have any bearing on our collective decisions about how we should govern ourselves.

        Old wisdom can be really good and important and relevant to current decision making, but it should not be determinative. Things change. Original intent seems to me to be to jurisprudence as fundamentalism is to religion–kind of nutty.

        So, it really doesn’t matter to me a whole lot what the Second Amendment was for back in 1789 or 1860, rather the appropriate question is what it should mean now, and what we should do about guns in our society today.

        (as for me being old and learned–who knows? both of those terms change over time, as well. 30 years ago I would have thought of my current self as decrepit and slow….)

      2. Erik says:

        That’s not what I’m saying.

        Stylistically, Chait, Ygglessias, Conor, Ezra, DeLong, and Weigel preface a lot of arguments by saying the opposing view is “strange” or “bizarre”.

        This is a bit obnoxious in itself, but its bunk here. This observation about 2A can’t be strange or bizarre if it ain’t new. And it ain’t new. So let’s all dispense with our incredulity, K?

      3. PM says:

        I think that it is fair to characterize something as strange or bizarre if it is not new. Not certain how newness or oldness relate to either strangeness or bizarreness.

    1. Erik says:

      You’ve I think got too casual a grasp on some of the background concepts.

      The article theorizes about the effects of lead pollution from leaded gasoline. Here, the lead became diffuse, aerosolized and airborne when it was combusted. And so leaded gasoline was banned, in 78 I think?

      Lead shot is too big to be aerosolized. It wouldn’t have been a problem unless it was consumed. And so it was a problem, to birds of prey that ate wounded waterfowl. As a result lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting, and this happened in the years I have been hunting I think. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago. You can still use it for upland hunting, trap shooting, and self defense.
      I really don’t think anyone can reasonably assert there’s still a pollution problem with lead shot (or bullets for that matter).

      1. PM says:

        My real point is that the issue of mass shooting might be connected in some way to lead in the environment

        I think that lead is a problem no matter how it is consumed (hence the problems of lead paint chips which we know cause problems when they are eaten by young children). Thus, lead in the environment in all forms is a problem–batteries in trash burners, paint chips, bullet/pellet remnants that might end up in a feed lot, etc.

        But your larger point is correct–I was kind of having fun with the idea! (I expect that the lead shot problem is inconsequential in comparison to lead paint or lead in gasoline, or probably even to lead in batteries)

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