How the Gun Lobby Became a Threat to Public Safety

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Nearly 100 confiscated illegal firearms rests on a table before a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Nearly 100 confiscated illegal firearms rests on a table before a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Just a generation ago, the NRA was a nonpartisan and relatively non-ideological organization that advocated for responsible and safe gun ownership in addition to defending gun rights.

But in its 20 years under the leadership of chief executive Wayne LaPierre the organization has become another cog in the broader conservative advocacy machine.

At the same time, with gun ownership declining, the organization has come to rely less on its members’ dues and more on firearm manufacturers, which now account for over half of the NRA’s revenues according to Walter Hickey at Business Insider.

The gun lobby also lost a key element of what had long been its defining mission: Guns remain a hot-button topic for political debate, but in the courts the issue has largely been settled. Gun rights won.

In 2010, the Supreme Court settled a long-standing debate about whether the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to bear arms or only applied to, as the Constitution reads, “a well-regulated militia.” The court ruled that the right to own firearms, while not without limits, is as integral as the right to free speech or the free exercise of religion. Since then, a number of municipal bans on firearm ownership have been overturned — most recently when a federal court struck down a California law that allowed counties to restrict the concealed carry of guns.

But the gun makers’ lobby remains strong and well-financed, and it has an institutional imperative to keep lobbying. It is now in the business of selling guns by promoting the idea that we can never have too many, nor should there be any public places where firearms aren’t welcome — and by spinning conspiracy theories about various imagined plots to disarm law-abiding Americans.

Today, the NRA and its political allies promote such policies as allowing concealed weapons in bars, allowing the blind to carry firearms (“Blind gun user Michael Barber said: ‘When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot, and I don’t necessarily think eyesight is necessary’”), making it a felony for doctors to discuss gun safety with their patients (never mind the First Amendment) and barring private firms from telling their employees to keep their guns at home.

Pro-gun lawmakers have gotten the message. Last month, five Republican legislators in Washington State introduced a bill that would exempt all firearms and ammunition from the state’s sales tax. Now in theory at least, one reason for tax breaks is to encourage some social good. For example, 20 years of tax credits have played a role in the exponential increase of wind energy production in the US. Yet here was a proposed tax break that would only encourage the sale of more guns in a country that’s already bristling with them.

These laws are predicated on the belief that more guns make a society safer. One of the cosponsors of the Washington State bill, Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) told a local conservative talk radio host, “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt: More firearms in a society cuts crime in that society.” (In fact, according to the UN, the US is believed to lead the world in private gun ownership and has the highest total crime rate among wealthy countries.)

Kentucky lawmakers proposed a similar measure back in December, and in Kansas, the belief that more guns mean more safety forms the basis of a law that only permits local officials to bar firearms from public buildings if they install costly metal detectors or hire security guards. In South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley is backing a law that would allow people to carry concealed guns without a permit or any safety training.

The problem is that this faith in guns for security, like global warming denialism, flies in the face of a mountain of serious, peer-reviewed research.

Last month, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study conducted by epidemiologists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) finding that access to a firearm makes an individual almost twice as likely to become the victim of a homicide and three times more likely to commit suicide.

Previous studies had found that countries with higher rates of gun ownership also have higher rates of gun deaths and that states with more guns have higher homicide rates. But gun advocates dismissed those studies because they didn’t account for illegal gun sales. (The National Rifle Association’s side of the scholarly debate rests largely on the discredited and allegedly fraudulent work of economist John Lott.)

The UCSF study took a different approach, starting with a dead body and working backwards to see whether that person owned or had access to a firearm, legal or illegal. The study was a meta-analysis combining data from 15 previous, peer-reviewed papers.

It also found a significant gender gap in terms of homicide: Men with access to a gun were 29 percent more likely to be a victim of homicide, while women with a gun close at hand were almost three times more likely to be murdered. The report cited previous studies that found that most female murder victims knew their assailant, and three-quarters of women killed with a gun died in their own homes. Researchers concluded that the presence of guns may make impulsive killings during domestic disputes more common.

Another soon-to-be-published study may provide the most compelling evidence to date that looser gun laws lead to more bloodshed. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health were able to conduct a natural experiment in Missouri after the state repealed a law requiring handgun purchasers to get a license and pass a background check in 2007. According to the study’s authors, repealing the law “contributed to a sixteen percent increase in Missouri’s murder rate.”

That translated into 55 to 63 more murders per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012, despite the fact that during the same period, “none of the states bordering Missouri experienced significant increases in murder rates and the U.S. murder rate actually declined by over five percent.” The increase in murders began in the first full year after the state’s licensing requirement was repealed, and the researchers “controlled for changes in policing, incarceration, burglaries, unemployment, poverty, and other state laws adopted during the study period that could affect violent crime.”

The conclusions presented in these studies, along with previous research, fly in the face of the persistent claim that more guns make a society safer. But this is as much a story of money influencing politics as anything else. With supporters like Springfield Armory, Inc, Pierce Bullet, Seal Target Systems, Beretta USA Corporation, Sturm Rugar & Co and Smith & Wesson, public safety simply isn’t a high priority for the gun lobby.

Joshua Holland is a senior digital producer for BillMoyers.com. He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter or drop him an email at hollandj [at] moyersmedia [dot] com.
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  • Dave

    If all these studies really mean anything, then go ahead and amend the constitution. Until then it’s just left wing fantasy.

  • Kalmaku Castelian

    Repeal the 2A.

  • jan

    16% increase in Missouri’s murder rate is not left wing fantasy. It’s fact and if your state adopts similar measures it’s coming to your own state soon.

  • james doesky

    In short….a leftist diatribe. To be quick, let’s talk about the VERY FIRST SUPPOSITION AND LINK saying that gun ownership is declining. Think about all the government overreach into peoples lives over the past decade and the average citizens loss of privacy. Next that citizen gets a call from a stranger asking if they own guns. Do you think there may be inclined to tell the caller a lie? Well that’s the foundation of this entire article….a big set of lies and wishful thinking from the left.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    So you choose to disregard the facts presented? There is another alternative to amending the constitution and that is to have reasonable limits on who is allowed to use and own a firearm.

    Is it really so unreasonable to require someone who wishes to own a weapon to be trained how to use it, when to use it, and where to use it? Is it unreasonable to punish someone who uses such weapons or allows such weapons to be used in a crime? Is it unreasonable to have an electronic list where purchased weapons are so they do not become used in a crime? Is it unreasonable to not allow someone who has proven to be irresponsible from having the added responsibility of the weapon?

    Why are people who identify as right wing, so against trying a new way to handle a problem? What is the harm in trying? The world is changing and the law needs to follow suit to handle the changes.

  • Chris

    The NRA is an American Civil Rights organization dedicated to protect the Second Amendment from power hungry politicians and Government. It’s funny how certain Civil Rights are important to some while others get trampled. They are ALL there to protect the citizens from government and once one falls the others will be close behind.

    Make no mistake. The agenda pushed by progressive democrats will end in confiscation. Law abiding citizens in California, NY, NJ, CT, MD have already been targeted. Democrats will take them if we let them. The only way to stop it is to vote them out.

  • Anonymous

    Dave’s response is what you get from NRA acolytes. The next step is to say that you’re twisting the facts; that this might happen to other people but never to me; people who are going to kill people are going to do it with whatever it at hand; etc. Anything to avoid confronting reality.

  • Art

    Are you going to repeal 1A too?

  • Anonymous

    The basic math doesn’t even support the assertion. As it goes with all Leftist diatribes.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t suppose you notced that Missouri’s murder rate had been on a long-term-trending increase BEFORE and leading up to the change in the law, too? No? You didn’t? (I’d accuse you of confirmation bias, but at least those so-guilty generally have all the facts in hand, first.)

    But then, Leftists usually don’t understand principles of causality. Just look at their attempts to ban e-cigs.

  • Anonymous

    Well, gee. Perhaps you’re barking up the wrong tree then. Instead, you might try confronting your local school boards and local/state governments, who have removed firearms safety-and-use instruction from all school curricula over the past decades. We teach our youth how to operate dangerous tools like cars and table saws in school. We used to do the same for firearms.

    Aside, I’m curious: how does your “electronic list” prevent a stolen handgun from being used in a crime? Really, I’d love an answer, no matter how unlikely, absurd, or disconnected from empirical reality (as it is CERTAIN to be).

    Beware those who try to claim the mantel of “reasonable”-ness or “common sense”. They, at best, have an entirely different view of what’s reasonable than most people (and use deceitful language to get their way). At worst, they are all-too-willing to open the door to the regulatory creep that inevitably leads to a greater exercise of government power. And, yes, I do mean INEVITABLE.

  • Anonymous

    It is interesting how the argument is framed around public safety. The gun control crowd wants to place restrictions around the 2nd Amendment for the good of the people. Many would like for it to go away or at least ignore it. They say it is tightly coupled with militia membership and that it is antiquated and therefore not relevant in the modern world. The Supreme Court however ruled that membership in a militia is not a requirement for the right to keep and bear arms. The Ninth Circuit ruled that it is irrelevant whether one believes that the 2nd Amendment should not exist in the modern world. It is the law and we willl obey the law until it is changed.

    How would you feel if tighter restrictions were being placed on speaking your mind? What if it were deemed too dangerous to say anything outside of the government’s official view point? If people died because an article was written, should we ban that topic? How far should we go to be safe?

    Some may view this as being off topic, but take a look at alcohol. It represents a far larger safety risk to people than guns. 79,000 people die a year in the US and it costs us $224B. Many people use alcohol responsibly just like many do with guns. But many do not drink responsibly. We put one simple restriction around the purchase of alcohol and that is age. After that we accept that people die from its misuse. Many innocent people. Whether those people die from a drink or a bullet doesn’t matter to their loved ones. Examine your motivations for restricting guns. Is it really about safety or that you simply find them objectionable?

  • Anonymous

    As that is not going to happen in our lifetimes, what other solutions do you have?

  • Anonymous

    Spock, You are probably correct for some people, but not for me. I am OK with background checks. I am in favor of very strict sentencing for criminals who use a gun in a crime. However, many of us do not believe this is the end game for those advocating strict gun control. The continued attempts to pass meaningless laws banning “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines make us realize that these people know little about crime and firearms. If you could magically erase all of these weapons and magazines, it would accomplish nothing. Any semi-automatic handgun with a 10 round magazine could be use to kill scores of defenseless people very quickly ie Virginia Tech.

    Remove the violent people from society and much of the problem goes away.

  • Raconteur Duck

    You didn’t know that the right to armed self defense exists outside of the Constitution and still exists whether there is a 2nd Amendment or not. Ignorance becomes you.

  • Anonymous

    Except, you know, science and stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Background checks did not exist before 1968 and the firearm homicide rate was lower.

    Background checks were instituted by LBJ to keep colored people from owning firearms.

    Just an Inconvenient Truth.

  • Raconteur Duck

    “The conclusions presented in these studies, along with previous research, fly in the face of the persistent claim that more guns make a society safer.”
    So “these studies” are getting rave reviews from top researchers — as great comedy. The “previous research” has been debunked and roundly rejected as biased, conclusion driven research, by the top economists and criminologists in the field. Useful idiots like Joshua Holland will slavishly follow the lead of their chosen masters and parrot whatever the Moyermassuh says.

  • Anonymous

    Can you provide any actual debunking or name any of “top economists and criminologists” you claim exist?

  • Raconteur Duck

    The NICS ( background checks) were instituted in the Brady Act under Slick Willy Clinton. So far, not even a dozen felons have done federal time for violations of the Brady Act, even though the gov’t claims 2 million felons have been stopped from buying guns because of it. I guess they figure it’s ok to let 2 million felons roam the streets.

  • Anonymous

    Background checks were eliminated in Missouri and gun homocide went up 23%. But let’s keep talking about stuff that happened 50 years ago.

  • Anonymous

    Cite your data.

  • Anonymous

    “Beware those who try to claim the mantel of ‘common sense’.”

    I’m sure a lot of British loyalists used that line against Thomas Paine.

  • Anonymous

    Facts are stubborn things. More stubborn is a Lefty denying the basic concept of causality.

    Missouri’s homicide rate had been increasing for years, before that law was implemented. Its rate of increase SLOWED after the law (but I’m not going to assume causality for that improvement, without good evidence for it).

  • Somsy A

    Yeah, still waiting for the actual debunking here…

    C’mon, you gun fetishists love to talk, but that’s all I’m hearing, a lot of talk. No data, no facts on your side.

  • Raconteur Duck

    The rate was climbing at a precipitous rate BEFORE and after the background checks were instituted. The 23% is for ONE YEAR of data and the rate has held relatively steady except for that year.

  • Anonymous

    Because it’s too hard for you to do your own research? Do you just repeat stuff you hear?

    The law went into effect in 2007. Missouri’s homicide data is found at http:disastercenter dot com/crime/mocrimn.htm

    Worth noting is that Missouri’s violent crime rate fell 7 percent faster than the violent crime rate for the rest of the United States from 2006 to 2012 (mostly after the state rescinded its background-check regime). So if you insist on cherry picking data from ONE STATE, and broadly applying suppositions of causality, you’d better choose your data more carefully.

  • Anonymous

    Take what once worked, and repurpose/bastardize it for your own agenda. It’s the Lefty way.

  • Anonymous

    Things don’t “climb” at a “precipitous rate”.

    ;-)

  • Raconteur Duck

    They do if you look at it from a leftist viewpoint, which is rather difficult for me :-)

  • Anonymous

    But then, besting your dubious comprehension of numbers and math, you continue on with “Men with access to a gun were 29 percent more likely to be a victim of homicide, while women with a gun close at hand were almost three times more likely to be murdered.”

    Josh, should I call you “Fox Butterfield” instead? Didn’t it occur to you that both men and women are more likely to own a gun if they consider themselves likely victims of violent crime? As demonstrated over and over again, in this one essay, you fail to grasp the basic concept of causality.

  • Anonymous

    This is fun …. so let’s disabuse you of some more of your silly numerical conclusions, based on your very-own citations. Josh, you claim that the NRA gets “over half its revenues” from firearm manufacturers,

  • Anonymous

    Guess what, Josh: Gun ownership has NOT DECLINED over the past 40 years. In fact, the very survey you cite proves that it has INCREASED — thought the survey fails to include the relevant supporting (yet indisputable) evidence.
    Let me help you with the basic math (something Lefties don’t seem capable of comprehending) — If gun ownership goes from 50% of households in 1970, when the average household size was apx 3.14 and the population was 203 million, to 35% with a household size of 2.55 and a population of 311 million, then ownership has INCREASED, not decreased — both per household (from 32.3 million to 42.7 million) AND per person (from 101.5m to 109.2m).
    [Data sources: infoplease, and US census websites] What does it say about your screed when your very first assertion of “fact” is utterly and irrefutably-provably bogus?
    This is fun …. so let’s disabuse you of some more of your silly numerical conclusions, based on your very-own citations. Indeed, you claim that the NRA gets “over half its revenues” from firearm manufacturers, and then go on to cite another

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it a steadfast principle of the Left to DELETE anything that calls out the falsehoods and bogus “facts” they present?

    My post, which clearly undermines any notion that firearm ownership has declined, is regularly deleted by this author and site.

  • Anonymous

    Really??

    So what was happening the 5 years before the law went off the books?
    (The rate went up 32% therefore the rate of the increase actually dropped by half after background checks were eliminated)

    Funny how the reports are edited because it cut their case.

    Just an Inconvenient Truth.

    Also Interesting is how (FBI) violent crime actually continued to drop even with record ownership and purchase during 2013.

    Typical anti-civil right jihad mentality.

  • Anonymous

    Nico, Defenders of the 2nd Amendment view the world through a different prism. We are willing to accept that in some circumstances the presence of guns can be more dangerous. Those circumstances always involve an irresponsible person. That person should be held accountable. We believe that it is more important to limit the power of government than to live in total safety. I am totally OK with background checks as long as there is no registration. I am for life sentences for any crime involving a deadly weapon. But the senseless bans on “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines forces us into a position of non-negotiation. If we knew that background checks coupled with absolute strict sentence enforcement was the end of it, you would see that we could find a middle ground. But it never is.

    CA where I live passed a bill last year to ban all center fire semi-auto rifles. Existing owners could register their weapons, but must forfeit upon their death. CT is in the process of trying to find a path to confiscate 100 of thousands of semi-auto rifles that were banned. The owners of these previously legal rifles refused to register them and are now felons. When we hear that nobody is coming after our guns, we can point to incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

  • Anonymous

    Your comment was posted 8 times. Even those of us who may agree with you still only need to read it once.

  • Anonymous

    It doesn’t show on my side — some show “pending moderation”, and then never appear. Others are posted, and then vanish. Attempted follow-up replies return with an error that there is no original comment, meaning ti was deleted.

  • Anonymous

    The article from Time linked in the article about declining gun ownership is from GRSS. It does not agree with Gallup polls on guns. Gallup still shows household ownership at 43%. This is relatively consistent with the 40%-50% range that it has been in for 50 years. I wonder about the likelihood that people reveal gun ownership over the phone. I do not participate in phone polls. I do not know the legitimacy of the origin of the caller and see no need to waste my time or risk exposing any information about myself. It would not be surprising if actual ownership was 10 percentage points higher than the polls given the nature of gun owners and aversion to invasion of privacy.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm, my bad, I just refreshed and all of your comments were gone. They were there a few minutes ago.

  • Anonymous

    My response is that it is irrelevant whether guns make society safer or more dangerous. We are a nation of laws. The 2nd Amendment is becoming more and more settled law. Individuals have the right to keep and bear arms. Forget the militia argument. It doesn’t exist any longer. The Ninth Circuit Court just ruled that individuals have the right to bear arms outside the home. Given that guns are here to stay, what should we do about the gun violence issue? We have a violent segment of society in our cities that commit most of the murders. Gangs and drug dealers represent a much larger problem than the occasional psycho mass murderer. Legalize drugs to remove the profit motive for the gangs and dealers. Isolate any violent offender from society for life for the first offense. Gun violence will fall dramatically.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how that happens, no?

  • Viking

    The problem is our definition of crime keeps changing. If I kill a kid with my car while texting, I’ll be charged with vehicular homicide. If I kill a kid while cleaning my loaded gun, it’s an “accident.”

  • HingleMcKringleberry

    “Is it unreasonable to have an electronic list where purchased weapons are so they do not become used in a crime?”

    The Canadian long gun registry, for all intensive purposes, didn’t do anything to prevent or solve crime.
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/12/11/gary-mauser-why-the-long-gun-registry-doesnt-work-and-never-did/

    And I guess you haven’t heard the news out of CT, but if only 30K out of 300K semi-automatic rifles were registered by the gun owners in that state, what makes you think people in Texas, Tennessee, Montana, Arizona, etc. are going to give a sh*t about compliance to a federal gun registry?

    “Is it unreasonable to punish someone who uses such weapons or allows such weapons to be used in a crime?”

    I didn’t know the NRA, GOA, NSSF or any other group representing us was pushing to have punishments for gun crimes stricken from the books..?

    Also, the author completely misrepresents the studies he cites in paragraphs 9 and 13. Several much more restrictive western countries have higher overall violent crime rates and the homicide rates include suicides and justifiable homicide. I’ll flat out state my opinion on suicide, regardless of whether anyone finds it in poor taste or not. As someone who has had a friend commit suicide with a firearm, I still in no way think that and adult making a conscious decision to end their own life and suck-starting a pistol should have any bearing whatsoever on my right to own a firearm.

    Lastly, it boils down to this. The people on your side of the argument have what we believe to be an extremely warped definition of the term “reasonable”. You may think the same of us, but we have an inalienable right enshrined in our nation’s founding document and two centuries of legal precedent on our side… and guns. We have guns on our side, too.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget — Japan, with a near-total prohibition on arms, has a suicide rate much higher than that in the US.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    You might be willing to accept those circumstances, but there are others that are not. They view a gun as a weapon to kill, which it is. Last time I check the ideologies of the democratic and republican parties, they are both for smaller government is different areas while bigger government is others. There is always a middle ground. Personally that middle ground to me is those with guns must be part of a regularly meeting militia with a police trainer/adviser/coordinator, or a competitor like an athlete, or an individual that hunts for food or requires a gun to perform their job.

    But we will keep this on topic, Why are you against registering your weapon at the same time as the background check?

    Why does anyone need a military styled rifle with more than the eight or ten shots or whatever? It is my understanding that those that hunt with such weapons are not good hunters and those that go to the shooting range with such weapons for fun could just as easily rent them to the military looking or the larger round capacity weapons don’t have to be in high populated areas.

    I too live in CA and I see that ban and retrieval of such weapons as reasonable as long as the family members get compensation for the gun being forfeit. CT, while I do not entirely agree with, passed a law and those that are refusing to obey the law are breaking it. Again if there was an intensive to turn in the weapons other than the punishment you are providing in context. While the police are collecting the now illegal guns in CT, they are not doing so in other states.

  • DClan

    Man, you drank way to much of the dem-lib-anti kool-aid…..I think it’s destroyed your capacity for independent thought.

  • Anonymous

    Nico, I am opposed to registration because I am a Constitutionalist. The framers believed, as do I, that a government will naturally gravitate toward become more powerful. They had a bad experience with that and decided that all of the people should be armed as a deterrent to government oppression. Regardless of the military strength of our goverment, 100 million gun owners will give pause to a future tyrant. No individual of course has a chance at winning, but collectively they would. Look at Vietnam, Afghanistan, Syria.

    No, I do not ever want that conflict. I do not believe in the black helicopters swooping in or the blue helmets invading. I see it as tactic to make an oppressive minded government thinking long and hard before they decide to go too far. So registration would be a very bad idea if keeping the government in check is the objective.

    As to the military style rifle, an AR15 is truly no different than many hunting rifles. It is accurate, has a much smaller less lethal bullet, shoots one bullet for each pull of the trigger. Many people do hunt with it. If you took off the black parts and replaced them with wood, it would be identical to a hunting rifle. It is not fully automatic like what you see on TV for M4′s or M16′s. They look alike but that’s it.

    I have a Ruger hunting rifle that is not functionally different from my AR15. The only difference between them is that an AR15 comes with a 30 round magazine and Ruger comes with a 5 round. But you can buy 30 round magazines for the Ruger. It is just a box with a spring. You are right in that you don’t need a 30 round mag for hunting. But in very few cases does mag capacity change the outcome for murders. Most are committed with one or two shots. The Virginia Tech killer used a handgun and 10 round magazines and killed 30 people. It is not difficult to kill defenseless people.

  • Anonymous

    Funny thing is Criminals don’t do what you say.

    The reality is gun control has been relaxed in the last twenty years while the gun homicide rate has also gone down.

    I have four children and none of them have been collateral damage but one of them has served his country and killed Taliban Snipers at 1,000 yds as a Squad Designated Marksman. He said all the years of competitive rifle and pistol shooting prior to him enlisting made it happen.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    I am not able to follow your logic regarding registration. You are against registration because you are a social conservative? You are against Government oppression by threatening violence against the idea of such a government? You equate your actions with those that are invaded by your government and those in civil war over. That is not honorable from my position, that is not even reasonable as it stands.

    If you do not want conflict then why did you equate your struggle to people literally fighting for their lives and the lives of their families in modern war? Whether you believe in those or not, the plausibility of them actually coming to do anything to you before anything maybe mass murder and terrorist act like the Boston bombing, but I don’t recall if S.W.A.T. used the helicopters at all.

    I will not debate gun specs with you as you aren’t providing all the information between the two gun examples. The AR-15 is capable of being a full automatic through modifications, with a fire rate of 800 rounds per minute. Is there any reason why a person needs something like that? Is there any reason for someone to need a semi automatic with burst fire?

    Guns are defensive weapons. Never have, probably never will be. They are offensive weapons used in reactionary or preemptive response. I do agree with you that magazine size will be unlikely to change many homicides, but homicides make some semblance of sense for a detective to puzzle out. Incidences like Newtown make little sense, writing it off as mentally deranged action.

    Let me ask you this, What actions do you think would help reduce the number of injuries, murders, and suicides? It is my position that we have stringent regulation of who can apply for and keep a weapon through the form of psychological test every couple of years or some such, maintaining training with like minded individuals within a militia with a Police adviser/instructor or regularly hunting for food, or finally as a competitor. It is also my position that openly held daggers and swords be allowed as self defense weapons, again with psychological evaluations and training

  • Anonymous

    Or any kind of thought at all. Gee, when you have emotion, why bother with thinking, right?

  • Anonymous

    Please take a class in expository writing.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    Did I ask for your opinion? Was I talking to you at all Sparafucile? If no is the answer you gave to those questions, you’d be correct. Take your attentions elsewhere, if you would otherwise, keep your thoughts to yourself.

  • Anonymous

    So true. There is such bullying language on here with this topic. Normally there is more civil conversation here but you can’t really have any sort of debate when there are attacks on you as a person. And there is no discussion really about what was said in the article except to say they don’t like it. Oh well. I suppose though, at the end of the day, the conversation has really been dominated by two or three people. The thing is, their side has won so why are they still so angry?

  • Anonymous

    Oh, did I hurt your delicate feelings? Do you bristle when a third party calls you out for spewing bunk? Too bad.

  • Anonymous

    Nico, I would have addressed the MERITS of your rambling. However, it is so strung-out and incoherent, that distilling actual coherent points from it is nearly impossible. If you didn’t want to put your comment forth IN A PUBLIC FORUM for analysis and further comment, then WHY DID YOU WRITE IT?

    (Aside, I notice that you have declined to justify your fanciful notions of the sweeping benefits you suppose arise from that “electronic list” you advocate. You don’t have much right to bleat about others commenting on your postings when you refuse to answer their straightforward inquiries about those few points you did coherently make.)

  • Anonymous

    If you expect to find an echo chamber, moderated actively to exclude all data and viewpoints that challenge Lefty articles of faith, then perhaps you should try RawStory. Of course, this site might go in that direction too … given the Left’s all-too-frequent attempts to suppress opposing views.

  • Anonymous

    Guess what, Josh: Gun ownership has NOT DECLINED over the past 40 years. In fact, even the survey you cite proves that it has INCREASED — though the survey fails to include the relevant supporting (yet indisputable) evidence.

    Let me help you with the basic math (something with which Lefties are always having peoblems) — If gun ownership goes from 50% of households in 1970, when the average household size was apx 3.14 and the population was 203 million, to 35% with a household size of 2.55 and a population of 311 million, then ownership has INCREASED, not decreased — both per household (from 32.3 million to 42.7 million) AND per person (from 101.5m to 109.2m).

    [Data sources: infoplease, and US census websites] What does it say about your screed when your very first assertion of “fact” is utterly and irrefutably-provably bogus?

    This is fun …. so let’s disabuse you of some more of your silly numerical conclusions, based on your very-own citations. Josh, you claim that the NRA gets “over half its revenues” from firearm manufacturers, and then go on to cite another diatribe (how reliable is that?) — one that quotes Josh Sugarmann (noted prohibitionist) as an authority. But that’s OK, I’ll use that very diatribe … which claims the NRA gets 10% of its revenue from advertising in its publications, and (up to) $52.6m (but as little as $20m) over seven years (= apx $7.5m/yr) from corporate sponsorships, plus a small contribution to its revenue from other sources (claimed to be “hundreds of thousands of dollars”). Well, given apx 5 million memberships (with some youth, paid at lower rates, and some lifetime, paying nothing annually, but with others paying more than the basic rate), the NRA conservatively takes in apx $100 million in dues each year. Yet, your citation only accounts for (at most) $19.4 million from corporate sources. That’s not “over half”, Josh. That’s less than one-sixth. (19.4 vs 119.4)

    But then, besting your incompetence with numbers and math, you continue on with “Men with access to a gun were 29 percent more likely to be a victim of homicide, while women with a gun close at hand were almost three times more likely to be murdered.”

    Josh, should I call you “Fox Butterfield” instead? Didn’t it occur to you that both men and women are more likely to own a gun if they consider themselves likely victims of violent crime? As demonstrated over and over again, in just this one essay, you fail to grasp the basic concept of causality.

  • Anonymous

    The fight to preserve and protect civil rights is never-ending. Are you suggesting otherwise?

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    First off it is not hard to figure out what I was saying, however it is thought provoking. I have no need of a troll’s ad hominid to drive the conversation away from the main point.

    What do you think than having an electronic list of who the current gun owners of a particular weapon is? Efficiency, for the guy that has to sift through the paper version that has a lot of dead end thanks to private sales of guns that do not have background checks or registration of the gun. The electronic format can be much more easily updated, and can be used to find the holes in society that persons without a criminal record are selling guns to criminals, and find the current owner of a found weapon that was used in a crime.

  • Kenneth Johnson

    Should body armor be outlawed? The second amendment does not address this. Good body armor makes you more equal than others, and negates ” Samuel Colt made all men equal”. Body armor with built in weaponry and I will feel much safer. As for you, not my problem. The second amendment gives me the first shot… Um, hand grenades, body armor with built-in weaponry oh yeah poison gas, I would definitely feel safer. As for you, not my problem, if you are next door perhaps you should leave. I have stand your ground on my side, and prefer to stand trial than be buried if it came to that. Yes, I think you should leave the mall, the gas station, the condo park because you might be a danger to me. or my pit bull, Hungry. What, am I paranoid? No, are you paranoid? Got it…

  • Anonymous

    Efficiency? Efficiency of WHAT? No list will help reduce crime, or has EVER been shown to assist in the identification of a perpetrator. (You still haven’t offered any explanation of how your “list” would help keep stolen guns from being used in crimes, or in locating the perps.)

    All your “electronic list” registration scheme does is to a) impermissibly burden the activities of the law-abiding, exercising their rights, and b) allow the government to come after lawfully-owned firearms (by non-prohibited persons), just as CA Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D, Oakland) proposed in a 2013 bill.

    I would support a FOID system, so that sellers and law enforcement can immediately tell if the buyer/possessor of arms & ammo isn’t otherwise prohibited — but it would have to exist in an environment that has all the other obnoxious and niggling burdens and prohibitions removed from the books, first.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    The department o justice already has to filter through the paper trail when they find a gun from the serial number of other features. They have to do this for every gun they find. it is a long time consuming process that is needlessly long. You claim no list has ever helped reduce crime? How about the list of people in the police database via fingerprints or some such? How about the list of felons or the list of people on no fly list? Are you deliberately being obtuse or do you just want things fed to you so you don’t have to think logically? As a preventative measure requiring the person to register the weapon with the current owner does the same thing as a background check while also identifying persons that introduce black market guns or those owners that are irresponsible to have their weapons stolen.

    If it was a scheme it would have to benefit me, or someone, financially or in some other manner. This would be no different than changing the owner name of a vehicle or mailing address. It is not stopping anyone from obtaining and using a fire are, but it is keeping track of the weapons so they can be returned to the proper owner. If the people who are Lawfully owning firearms they would have complied with the law.

    So you want gun owners to have the burden of carrying identification of being allowed to purchase weapons and ammunition, the burden if that identification is stolen or lost rather than having that burden be with the government. Here is what I see wrong with this idea. Firstly it is not cost effective, Second it has too many point of failure for example A Loosing the card or having it stolen B Black market sellers. The third issue is that is makes a club mentality which is exclusionary to any other viewpoints other then their own, Fourth is falsification that we already have with fake IDs.

    Yes both systems have problems, but it is my position that your system has unnecessary risks. To support this I point to the Audit of the Illinois FOID system. It is wasteful, people with in the system are incompetent, and can easily be abuse, rendering it effectively useless. Would you like the articles in question?

  • Anonymous

    You’re readily substituting your personal speculation in the place of empirical data, by extending the “fingerprint database” concept to guns. However, those concepts are wholly dissimilar — and the data proves it. There isn’t one cite-able case where an otherwise unknown firearms assailant was identified via the serial number of a crime gun. Not one. And we’ve had registries in many states for many years.

    So, in essence, you’ve got this wild speculation that you want to impose on 100 million people, without a shred of evidence that it has done, or will do, and good.

  • Anonymous

    On FOID — this can be accomplished with an endorsement on one’s DL. Make it easily and infrequently (and freely) renewable, which distinguish it radically from the deliberately-burdensome Illinois FOID system.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    -.- that addresses part of one issue the system you support has. Drivers Licences can be faked, in fact they already are. Requiring everyone who has a drivers licence or state issued identification card to return to the DMV and get a new one issued if they wish to remain a gun owner. This issue become harder then as the DMV would be bogged down with another process and create undue stress on the population attempting to get their needs resolved.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    *headtilts* where are you getting your information? You can call the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) or the law enforcement in the area to ask if they use the NCYC(National Crime Information Center) database to track guns, while it isn’t always public they do exist and they do assist.

    Uh, I think I have a hypothesis that has plausible applications to the current system’s holes. Would you like to call a law enforcement officer to ask if they’d use such a system or use the current one and if they have ever heard of a case that was solved by these means? they would have more experience and knowledge in this matter. Everyone with a Concealed weapons permit has to have each gun registered separately (at least Michigan works like that)

    I never made the assumption that the FBI specifically did any of this.

    are you done being an obstinate Jackanape or should I just ignore you until you do some basic research with Google or Bing?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for, however obstinately, verifying that all you have for each and every one of your prescriptions is your own personal, data-free SPECULATION. And just like every leftist, you also indicate how innately comfortable you are imposing your fanciful speculative notions, as a burdensome regulatory regime, on 100 million law-abiding Americans who, otherwise, are lawfully exercising their rights, and not harming anybody.

  • Anonymous

    So you’ve found, in this concept, the one single governmental intrusion that is both too complicated and too burdensome? Something tells me you weren’t making this same case against the ACA. Nor are you making the same case for eliminating the burdensome process for obtaining and maintaining a CCW permit, are you?

    To your (rather silly) points — your license must already be returned if you have it suspended by a court (DUI, etc). With regards to the FOID endorsement, a failure to return it can be readily addressed by attaching future approvals to its timely return. Besides, there’s no need to “return” it unless you become a “prohibited person” (a statistically rare event). Your cert is simply renewed periodically, just like the driver’s license itself. Regarding “faked” driver’s licenses — any entity, from law enforcement to bouncers equipped with a new handheld system, can instantly check the validity of a driver’s license.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    Show me an example of having every gun owner registering their weapon as often as their vehicles not preventing crime then. Show me an example of your system working efficiently and effectively. Your system that you support works on a personal level of responsibility that not everyone has. It requires a level of honesty with one self that many people do not have. The idea has merit, but it does not work in this particular case due t human nature and the lack of training we currently have.

    The ACA is not a part of this discussion, stay on topic.

    Why should I even think about changing the current operations concerning the concealed weapons’s permit when we are discussing just owning a gun?

    Your second paragraph is confusing. How is the police or whoever suppose to return the FOID card to the individual if they do not have an up to date address. The issue if it is not returned is that those of the criminal mindset would be able to make better fakes. If any security or law enforcer can get these handhelds so can criminals making their job, yes harder, but they can do it.

    Really, the systems are the same, save for who has the burden of figuring out who can buy the weapons. Your system has it placed on the individual, the system I support leaves that burden on the gun seller and the law enforcement officers.

  • Anonymous

    You mean the report that draws a stunning scientific conclusion described by the magic words “is associated with”? That level of scientific certainty is on par with “may be linked to” and “experts say”.

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    I am not sure you know what the word obstinately means. You completely glossed over my question of your sources, because it is wholly inaccurate information. Because your information is inaccurate, it discredits your position that you understand what is happening/or results from actions taken. I am suspicious of your reading comprehension level too since the system I am suggesting does not burden individuals, but in actuality the government.

  • Anonymous

    You haven’t considered that my “reading comprehension” must first follow your hideously-poor (and previously noted) writing style?

    As to my “sources”, are you referring to my sources to explain that your wild speculations aren’t founded? You’re making various specious cases (not me) — why don’t YOU try offering a bit of evidence that all those wonderful things you claim are actually true (like the DOJ hunting down crime guns, and a cite or two of cases “solved” by tracing gun serial numbers)?

  • Nico Prime Ferrise

    …? My writing style is fairly straight forward, with out contradictions or absolutes. You have failed at articulating in what manner this is poorly written.

    “Separately, if you think the FBI searched out the data for every “gun found”, then you have no idea what you’re talking about. None. 1) The FBI keeps no firearm serial numbers. 2) They have no reason to do this for virtually any “found” gun. 3) There is NO centralized database of stolen guns.”

    I am curious as to how you came to this conclusion because You can verify this yourself by talking to the police or whoever is on secretary duty at whatever station near you. That is my source for my position. As to evidence, same people have told me that it is procedure to locate the proper owner of the weapon in a crime if it is stolen and that if it is not reported as lost or stolen with in a couple days of the owner finding out, that the owner can be fined for that. Grace period being present, of course. While it isn’t a deciding factor in a case from what they have told me, it is an assisting factor.

  • moderator

    Nico and Sparafucile,

    I think both of you will have to agree to disagree. Your comments are getting too personal and are coming close to breaking the comment policy. It’s time to move on.

    Thanks for Participating,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    Sparafucile and Nico

    I think both of you will have to agree to disagree. Your comments are getting too personal and are coming close to breaking the comment policy. It’s time to move on.

    Thanks for Participating,

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    So, in essence, your whole set of points is based on personal speculation. It seems that puts you perfectly in-line with the rest your crew. Please look up the phrase “shoulder thing that goes up” to see what I mean.

  • Alex

    “I don’t see anyone calling for MORE regulation of autos.”
    Where have you been? There is more regulation on autos and drivers year in and year out. Airbags, seatbelts, ABS, stability control, breathalyzers, checkpoints, vision tests, child seats, emissions, on and on and on… The difference is, there isn’t an equivalent auto lobby fighting tooth and nail against every common sense safety measure. Then lives are saved, pretty simple. Traffic fatalities have declined as new regulations came into effect. So sorry THE LIBERALS took away your RIGHTS to drive without a license :(

  • Alex

    “My point was cars are already heavily regulated (as you seem to agree) and the death rate for automobile accidents exceeds deaths by firearms quite handily, despite regulation.”
    But that’s a totally unbalanced comparison, so I don’t see why someone with your extensive knowledge of the auto industry would use it seriously. Millions of people use cars to get to and from work every day. Not even a tiny fraction of that use a gun to have two armed confrontations per day. Yet, the number of car fatalities have *significantly* dropped over 30 years, while gun fatalities have made no real progress. In short, the auto industry has just embarrassed the firearm industry with their ability to increase public safety. So thanks, you just made a perfect argument to regulate guns as heavily as autos — new required safety features, photo licensing, registration, training, breathalyzers, etc. Nice work! Sorry it costs you a few extra bucks but all the not-dead schoolchildren really appreciate it :) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-19/american-gun-deaths-to-exceed-traffic-fatalities-by-2015.html

  • Anonymous

    Missed the point…if someone wants to use a car as a 4000lb missile, it doesn’t matter if it was licensed, registered or how many airbags it has. Just yesterday at the SXSW in Texas, someone plowed into a crowd, killed several and injured quite a few. We won’t be hearing outrage from liberals how there needs to be stricter licensing or another background check to prevent the next event. Or even better, lets ban the make and model car he was driving, that will surely make a difference. Bad people do bad things, and you can’t regulate bad behavior. There are 20K local, state, and federal gun laws on the books already. If your claim that there is no progress in the rate of gun deaths, you might have to ask yourself what all these smart politicians have been doing for years on end. There isn’t some magical law you can pass that will prevent these things from happening.

  • Alex

    “There isn’t some magical law you can pass that will prevent these things from happening.” Never said you could. That’s a straw man argument. While no one ever says you can prevent all device-caused deaths from happening, I’m saying you can *obviously* reduce the number of deaths and increase public safety by significant amounts. That’s not a claim, it’s a statistical fact. Other countries do it. The auto industry has done it and the firearm industry has failed. I’m not talking about banning any models of guns or cars, that’s another straw man argument. I’m talking about requiring licenses, competency exams, and liability insurance. Also, a flashing hazard light whenever a round is in the chamber would be a nice touch.
    I already know what the politicians have been doing for years — shilling for the gun lobby, which is real. That’s why there’s no progress on safety, there’s still a gun show loophole, and federal funding for gun violence research was gutted by the party of “responsible” gun owners. I just don’t see what’s so responsible about throwing your hands up and saying there’s no way to save a few thousand lives, when we can find concrete proof of it right in our driveways.