Politics & Other Mistakes: Straight shooter

6 mins read
Al Diamon
Al Diamon

“You’re either with us 100 percent,” a gun nut told me, “or you’re against us. There’s no in between.”

Well, jeez. In spite of a long history of supporting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to own, use and display firearms as they wish, I now find myself kicked out of the club. All that marching in lockstep with the National Rifle Association and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine in support of issues like carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, making it legal for employees to have concealed weapons in their vehicles while at work, and allowing the continued sale of semi-automatic weapons and guns with large magazines went for naught. I’ve been branded as an anti-gun, authoritarian leftist who buys fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, harbors illegal immigrants in his basement and refuses to stand up and remove his cap during the singing of “God Bless America” at baseball games.

At least the part about “God Bless America” is true.

My great transgression against the holy creed of gun ownership is that I support the proposed referendum calling for mandatory background checks on buyers at gun shows and in private sales. This, I’ve been told, is heresy of the highest order. Background checks to screen out those with criminal records or serious mental health issues are already mandatory for anyone purchasing guns from federally licensed dealers. But opponents say if the practice was expanded to non-licensed sellers at shows or those who advertise in “Uncle Henry’s” or on Craigslist, the very foundation of our constitutional form of government would crumble faster than Millinocket’s economy.

According to my former allies, this seemingly innocuous requirement, which has been in place for years at gun shops without any noticeable effect on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, is just camouflage for the anti-gun lobby’s real agenda: to create a federal registry of firearms.
Once that’s in place, it will be child’s play for blue-helmeted troops in black helicopters to descend on every neighborhood in the nation and seize all the weapons. After that, the United Nations will be free to implement Agenda 21, and it won’t even be legal to play “God Bless America” at ball games.

“This is part of a national agenda,” David Trahan of the Sportsman’s Alliance told the Portland Press Herald.

“Mandating universal background checks would, in other words, basically ban all private gun sales,” wrote Republican Party activist Jim Fossel in a column in the Bangor Daily News. “It would be like requiring you to go to a dealership to sell your car.”

Actually, selling your car (or your house or your liquor or lots of other stuff) is currently a lot more complicated than selling your gun, and that would still be true if this initiative becomes law. Maybe we need a referendum to correct that. As for private sales being banned, that’s hyperbole. Individuals buying firearms from other individuals would have to go to a licensed gun shop and request a background check. Other than that, everything would stay just the way it is now.

To be fair, supporters of universal scrutiny of all gun sales are only slightly less brain-scrambled in their claims than their opponents. According to a press release from The Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Fund (motto: Short Names Are For Losers), domestic violence expert Laurie Fogelman claimed, “In the states that have closed this loophole, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners. This initiative will give Maine the chance to join the group of states where women are safer from gun violence.”

Maine already has one of the lowest murder rates in the country, and it’s extremely unlikely this measure (or any other that doesn’t include a restraining order requiring “intimate partners” to never come within rifle range of each other) would eliminate nearly half the killings associated with domestic violence. But it would probably save a few lives each year, so it seems worth the minor inconvenience necessary to screen out a handful of felons and nutjobs.

I’ll sign this petition if I get the chance, even though it’s going to cost me my membership in the Society For The Promotion Of God, Guns and Glory. But I was already on probation, anyway, after some of my ex-pals noticed I wasn’t standing for “God Bless America,” but I did get up to stretch during “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

With them, it’s all or nothing.

If you stand for GBA, but can’t stand me, put your objections in an email to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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  1. Al:
    Don’t forget that since criminals won’t get their background checks, we might as well scrap the entire criminal code. Criminals don’t follow the law, therefore let’s make it easier for everyone to be armed.
    Who’s murdered more Americans this century, Islamic terrorists or mass murderers with firearms? Which is the real threat to national security?

  2. Mr. Seamus, I’m gonna venture a guess that mass murderers with firearms will top the list, far above Islamic terrorists. Some of those mass murderers might even be classified as christian terrorists.

    Al, I’m with you here. Any reasonable hunter or firearm owner will have no problem registering their purchase, whether made at a gun show or at a gun shop. Why aren’t people so up in arms about registering cars? Isn’t that infringing on our rights to transportation?

  3. Well said, Mr. Diamon, and I completely agree. How many more Americans will die unnecessarily at the hands of domestic terrorists until we get gun responsibility measures such as universal background checks enacted across this land? The NRA once worked hard for gun safety and responsible ownership, but now are the pawns of gun manufacturers and so-called “patriots.” Have we not learned anything from Columbine, Blacksburg, New Town, and Charleston?

  4. “The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a U.S. system for determining if prospective firearms or explosives buyers are eligible to buy”

    I don’t think that after a finding of “eligibility” tthat anything is documented by anyone but maybe (or not) by the seller

  5. AF,

    FYI< A background check is not Gun registration and you would be wise not to confuse the two. A background check is a phone call to the FBI and the criminal records are checked for crimes that would negate the lawful transfer of a firearm. The dealer retains a paper copy of the transfer. The FBI is supposed to delete/ destroy their record within 24 hrs. This is to PREVENT the Federal Government logging in ergo, defacto registering everyone's firearm.

    Hitler used Gun registration to confiscate all the privately owned firearms in Germany to prevent any meaningful opposition to his Dictatorship- something our Constitution currently forbids and keeps the power in the hands of the people. You will no notice it does not contain one word about hunting and sports shooting or about owning only certain types of guns. There is a sound reason for it.

    Now, let's talk about reforming the mental health system and how back ground checks can be implemented with the same feverish pitch…

  6. Take a breath Ladies, first does anyone really think that a government that is recording any phone at any time in secret isn’t keeping a list of firearms purchases. You would need to be so far outside your mind as to be brain dead. Two, sorry AL you are out of the club, we don’t want nor need someone willing to compromise the very bedrock of our argument. Three banning private sales also bans me loaning a friend, my brother, my Dad my private property. How many prosecutions occurred from rejected applicants on NICS? Check politifact.com, you will be appalled .055, yes .055., well done crime fighters. “Any reasonable hunter or firearm owner will have no problem registering their purchase, whether made at a gun show or at a gun shop. Why aren’t people so up in arms about registering cars? Isn’t that infringing on our rights to transportation?” No, guns are a fundamental birthright, driving, not so much. Here Dad a gift, lets do an NICS background check Dad, well it’s Sunday, lets wait until Monday normal business hours, yeah, ok.

  7. Re: “mandatory background checks on buyers at gun shows and in private sales”

    The problem with all of the legislation proposed to expand background checks at both the federal and state level is that the devil is in the details. As an example consider the background check legislation (SB649) that failed to pass the US Senate in 2013. The title of the bill was word doctored to be innocuous but what was being proposed as part of the background check process was a litany of vague, abstruse and onerous restrictions on friends and family members that could trip them up and subject them to intimidation and entrapment by overzealous and unscrupulous authorities who are aligned with an anti-gun agenda. In addition, the hastily written Toomey amendment was worded in such a way that existing gun laws that currently protect gun owners (like a prohibiting a registry) could be circumvented by the President simply having the BATF report to DHS instead of the Attorney General.

    If the totality of what is really desired is universal background checks, the answer is simple and easy – give anyone free, anonymous, public access to the federal NICS background check database of persons prohibited from owning firearms and then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain a piece of paper that documents you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. There is no reason to get the government involved any further in the process unless you have other goals in mind like a federal registry of all firearms.

  8. It is heresy of the highest order.

    Us pejoratively labeled “gun nuts” are actually constitutionalists, and no more “nuts” then the men who wrote the Constitution and Bil of Rights.

    The problem with so-called “universal background checks” is twofold:

    1) The power to regulate transfers at retail and wholesale issues from the commerce clause. Private transfers are not commerce, and there is no delegated power to regulated them, particularly in view of the 2A foreclosure.

    2) Mandating such checks on private transfers combined with retail sales creates a universal database of who owns what gun, what kind of gun it is, and where they live. That, Al, is a de facto gun registry.

    And if you support it, you SHOULD be kicked out of the club.

  9. JP,

    As of this date, it is illegal for FBI to hold record longer than 24 hrs. They only know that you bought a long gun or a handgun (unless it is a multiple purchase). They do not get the serial number of the firearm(s) during a NICS background check.

    I agree with most of what you wrote- but that a Progressive, Liberal and Marxist loving Administration would willingly violate the law?…next you’ll be telling us Obama is an Islamic Fascist sympathizer…

  10. Before 1968, there were hardly any gun laws. No background checks. Mail-Order gun sales. Guns available at hardware stores, no records kept.

    Why is it assumed that EVERY gun buyer these days are more criminal than before 1968?

    In nearly every anti-gun article I’ve read, they equate murderers with “gun owners”. Regular gun owners do not commit crimes against others. Period. So, not a single one of these “common sense gun laws” actually do a single thing to cut down on murders, robberies, etc. Those people simply steal their guns or buy from thieves and drug dealers.

    The entire discussion is a joke. “Examine your premises”

  11. I sympathize. If what you say is true, they were wrong to treat you so harshly. That said, I think it is a mistake to allow them to use a tragedy to promote a law that would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy. Suppose the law had already been passed — do you imagine that they wouldn’t be pressuring for still more gun control? If a law will neither prevent the tragedy nor shut them up, what is the benefit?

    The disadvantage of the law is the cost and inconvenience, and that it gives government an ability to keep track of who owns which guns — an ability that other state and national governments have abused.

  12. In spite of Mr.Holt’s appeal to Godwin’s law, nowhere in the Constitution is there a prohibition against the registration of guns by the government. Cars and marriages require registration and they arguably kill less people than firearms in this country. Unless you’re advocating more mental illness treatment, gun ownership does not makes one Patrick Henry. As recently evidenced, gun ownership is almost certainly a requirement for mass murder. If you’re going to cite the constitution you can’t discount the “well-regulated” part of the second amendment. That should start with a national registry.

  13. Seamus – Neither is there a delegated power to create a universal registry. As a matter of fact, the danger of a registry is foreclosed by “…shall not be infringed”.

    Regarding the “well-regulated militia” nonsense, it is the militia that is to be well-regulated, while acting as a militia. The term modifies the noun “militia”, not the noun “right” nor the noun “people”. The prefatory clause merely announces the reason for the written guarantee. The operative clause declares the right not of the states, not of the militia, but of the people, and clearly says that government must keep its hands off.

  14. Suppose the law had already been passed — do you imagine that they wouldn’t be pressuring for still more gun control?

    It’s called The Overton Window, sort of a corollary to “Rules for Radicals”. If you want X, demand 2X or more. Negotiate with your opponents and when they offer X or a little more, just to shut you up, accept as if you’re doing them a favor. This is a strategy used by school boards all across the country.

  15. @seamus

    Re: “you can’t discount the well-regulated” part ”

    In the 1700’s well regulated meant “to make regular” or “be in good working order” which in today’s military parlance is often referred to as maintaining good order and discipline.

  16. In today’s Sun Journal:
    Maine ranked 9th in women murdered by guns.
    Statistics are for 2013, the latest year available. Due to the low population of the state, the ranking varies from 22nd to 24th, for years 2010-2012.

    1.47 women per 100,000. All cases involved 1 female victim, 1 male shooter.

    “Regular gun owners do not commit crimes against others.” Baloney!

  17. “.The untold story of (mass) shootings in America is one of domestic violence. It is one of men (yes, mostly men) targeting and killing their wives or ex-girlfriends or families. The victims are intimately familiar to the shooters, not random strangers. This kind of violence is not indiscriminate — though friends, neighbors and bystanders are often killed alongside the intended targets.”


  18. “More guns, more violence

    States with more guns have more gun deaths.”


    And there shouldn’t be background checks? Or certified training requirements? And licensing/registration? The protestations and conspiracy theories about “the government” tracking your guns is so lame. You and your gun may the problem in my neighborhood. There ought to be some way to assure that you are “eligible” to possess a fire arm .

  19. @Elmira

    According to the CDC (an unbiased organization compared to the VOX website you cited) in 2010 there were about 11078 people murdered by firearms in the US which works out to about 31 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 310 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 28,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 28,000 people. To me, 1 in 28,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. It is also estimated there are 70 million gun owners in the US which means on any given day 69,999,969 gun owners didn’t kill anyone yet because the news media magnifies these relatively isolated and infrequent events to the level of an epidemic, the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one. The number of gun violence murders will never be zero. So given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms”?

  20. For comparison, Jim, how many firearm related murders were there in Western Europe in 2010?

    Or Australia? Or Great Britain? Or that neigbor of ours to the North?

    Combine them all, and what do you get? 1/10 of ours? or less ?

  21. The fact that 28,000 murders are acceptable to some people is reason enough to discontinue any further attempt at reasoning with these individuals and sue firearms manufacturers for these deaths like the Sandy Hook families are doing. Let’s test Chris Rock’s $5,000 bullet theory.

  22. “…the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one.” NO! You’re wrong about that!

    The answer is, in part, to prevent certain people from buying guns based on background checks.

    ” State “Points of Contact”: States have the option of requiring dealers to conduct background checks through state or local agencies, called “Points Of Contact,” or directly through the FBI. States that conduct their own background checks can search records and databases in addition to those that the federal law requires to be searched. State databases typically include information that is unavailable to the FBI, including outstanding felony warrants, mental health records, domestic violence restraining orders and final disposition records (those showing whether an arrest resulted in an acquittal or a conviction). Research has found that the practice of conducting firearm purchaser background checks through state or local agencies, as opposed to through the FBI, is associated with reduced firearm death rates, especially with respect to suicides.”

  23. In every incident involving gun violence the perpetrators consumed water in some form within 24 hrs of the incident, therefore it is clearly a water related issue…..or maybe it is white cops at fault….. Never mind…..it must be the gun’s fault.

  24. @Elmira

    Re: “to prevent certain people from buying guns based on background checks”

    Currently, there are only 2 ways to legally sell a gun in the US to a private citizen. One is a private sale between individuals (typically like between family and friends) or by a gun dealer licensed with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the federal BATF. Only individuals with an FFL can run a background check through the government NICS database of prohibited persons. Private citizens cannot. Note that a person can purchase a firearm online, but the physical transfer of the firearm still must go through an FFL at the seller and an FFL local to the buyer. So if you want to improve the process, you should encourage the federal government to do 2 things:

    1) Allow any small gun dealer to get an FFL without having a storefront. Currently, thanks to the Clinton administration’s effort to reduce the supply of guns, you can’t get an FFL if you want to sell guns only at gun shows (See question 18a on ATF form 5310 FFL application at http://www.atf.gov/files/forms/download/atf-f-5310-12.pdf). As a result someone that wants to sell guns but can’t afford the inventory costs, zoning challenges and overhead of a storefront has to sell illegally or discretely at the edge of the law as a “private individual” and hence can’t run a background check. Rather than throwing these “kitchen table” sellers out of the system like Clinton did hoping they would go away, they should allow them to get an FFL and subject them to BATF rules, audits and oversight like they were before the Clinton administration let political anti-gun ideology get in the way.

    2) Give anyone free, public, anonymous online access to the NICS database. I don’t understand why a federal database of people prohibited from owning firearms can’t be available in the public domain like federal databases for sex offenders. Unlike the sex offender database, the NICS system is really a go/no go process and no useful information has to be displayed to facilitate phishing expeditions for identity theft other than what was already known by the user making the query. It’s certainly no more revealing than the FAA’s pilot and mechanic license query system, which provides more detailed information on presumably law-abiding citizens. Once this system is implemented, you then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain documented proof that says you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. This would effectively close the so-called private sale loophole and still preserve the anonymity of the parties involved the same way the current background check system does now. If a private sale firearm shows up at a crime scene, the BATF follows their current procedure of using the serial number of the firearm to contact the manufacturer and ultimately the last FFL that sold the firearm to a private citizen to obtain that citizen’s name and address from the ATF form 4473 the FFL is required to keep on file. That citizen is then contacted and produces the piece of paper from the NICS background check that identifies the second private citizen who is then contacted, and so forth.

    The real benefit of this proposal is how it can help identify the illusive killer with questionable behavior patterns or mental health issues that is causing so many problems. As it stands now there is no easy, fast, non-bureaucratic method for someone to determine if a suspicious person (client, neighbor, employee, student, etc) is a potential threat to society. If someone thinks an individual could be a threat, a query to a public NICS database would at least tell him or her in a few seconds if the individual could obtain a firearm. Then, armed with that information the appropriate authorities could be notified and they could decide if it was erroneous information or whether to investigate further. As it stands now, if you tell authorities you know a suspicious person they will probably ignore you, but if you tell them you know such a person and by the way according to the NICS database he can buy a firearm, they will probably be more inclined to investigate rather than risk embarrassment later if the worst happens. The same would be true if you see a suspicious acquaintance with a firearm when the NICS query says he’s prohibited from having one. It would also help provide piece of mind and a method for victims of violent crimes to ensure their assailants either on parole or still at large have not been excluded from the database because of some bureaucratic foul-up.
    Other specific public safety issues where it would be useful are:

     allow potential victims to vet known stalkers or acquaintances under a restraining order
     allow gun clubs to vet potential members
     allow shooting ranges to vet suspicious customers
     allow mental health workers to vet troubled individuals like the Aurora Colorado theater killer
     allow resource officers and school officials to vet suspicious students like the Arapahoe High School killer in Colorado
     allow the family of the mentally troubled Lafayette, LA killer to verify he couldn’t purchase a firearm
     allow police officers to vet anyone they contact – (note the routine background checks performed by police often do not include information about firearms because they don’t directly access the NICS database)

  25. @Elmira

    Re: “the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one. NO! You’re wrong about that!”

    Well consider this. In 1976 a gentleman by the name of Nelson Shields said the following “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.” Nelson Shields was one of the founders of Handgun Control Inc which is better known under their current “re-branded” name as The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In 1987 another gentleman by the name of Josh Sugarmann said regarding so called assault weapons “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” In 1988 in response to an NRA comment about criminals always being able to get handguns he also said “The NRA is Right: But We Still Need to Ban Handguns”. On 11/4/99 he said in a NYT interview “A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls — such as expanding background checks at gun shows and stopping the import of high-capacity magazines — and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, and Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Their measure would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns. Real gun control will take courage. In the long run, half-measures and compromises only sacrifice lives.” Josh Sugarmann is currently the head and founder of the Violence policy Center and was one of the founders of The Coalition to Ban Handguns which is better known under their current “re-branded” name as The Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. While the names and tactics of these organizations may have changed, the goals and a lot of the personnel remain the same.

    Also, more recently, we have Senator Diane Feinstein


  26. @seamus

    Re: “sue firearms manufacturers for these deaths like the Sandy Hook families are doing”

    The Sandy Hook killer probably chose to use an AR15 rifle because it was available after he stepped over his mother’s dead body to steal it. If it wasn’t available, he could have made a homemade flamethrower with gasoline and plumbing parts and accomplished the task in less time with more carnage. What would do then? Sue the local gas station and plumbing parts supplier?

  27. @seamus

    Re: “The fact that 28,000 murders are acceptable”

    Most of the homicides are due to criminals or gangs. So if the number (28000) bothers you, one thing you could do would advocate for a law that would impose a mandatory death sentence on any recidivist with a violent criminal history that uses a firearm to commit a crime regardless of childhood upbringing, economic impoverishment, mental health, age, IQ or ethnicity. Also, you didn’t answer my question – specifically “given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms?”

  28. @Elmira

    Re: “The answer is”

    The answer at this point is to enforce the laws already on the books and quit allowing people who use a gun illegally to plea bargain away the illegal firearms offense. The feds pass all these laws and then don’t enforce them. Straw purchases and lying on the 4473 form you have to fill out for a background check to purchase a firearm is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine – yet in 2010 76142 people failed the background check and the feds prosecuted only 44 of them

  29. @Elmira

    Re: “especially with respect to suicides”

    if someone wants to kill themselves it’s a matter of individual choice where the person can pick the time, place and method and an argument can also be made (contrary to existing laws) that an individual’s life belongs to them exclusively and not you, the State or anyone else. Also regarding the methods, according to the CDC in 2011 there were 19766 suicides with a firearm and 18519 by other means so even if firearms weren’t available, it’s not clear you would lower the number of suicides.

  30. @ Thinking about it

    Re: “how many firearm related murders were there in Western Europe… Combine them all, and what do you get? 1/10 of ours? or less?”

    I’m assuming the point of your post is to advocate for strict gun control laws that exist in the countries you mentioned. The problem you have is that in the US in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminals in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons (see tables 10 and 11 at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf). This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone and the gun is often their weapon of choice. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Criminals will always have guns if they want them. If worst comes to worst they will be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market.

  31. I’d wager that all but the most in denial wing nut pseudo 2nd amendment insecure scholar wood be reluctant to say publically that he/she knew someone that was eligible to purchase a gun that shouldn’t have one!

  32. @Elmira

    Re: “No violent criminal history, just an intention to commit suicide and murdered a couple people along the way”

    I’m not sure what your point is. I suspect the killer had a legal firearm and passed a background check. If you’re referencing my comment about recidivists with a violent criminal history getting a mandatory death sentence with the inference that that policy will not catch everyone contemplating a homicide with a firearm – you are correct but it will get a lot of them. My point is that because of incidents like this the number of firearm homicides will never be zero, so once again I ask the question “given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms?”

  33. Jim, you did not answer the question….nor did you ask the right question. What do we as a society, need to do to reduce the number of firearm related homicides in the US, since what we are doing is clearly not working.

    Modern, western countries have murder rates less than 1/5 th of what we do. Why is that? What, in our society is different? Do we resort to violence too often? What do we change? and please do not say the answer is more firepower, since that is not working!

  34. Jim Smith: You attempt to bismirch the good name of Sen. Dianne Feinstein with a couple of twisted and manipulated video clips.

    Sen. Feinstein knows all to well about gun violence from the assassinations of SF Mayor Geo. Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1979.

    “Feinstein was the author of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. In 2013 she introduced a new assault weapons bill, which failed to pass.”

  35. @ Thinking about it

    Re: “What do we as a society, need to do to reduce the number of firearm related homicides in the US”

    As an overall strategy, I have no idea. As a starting point, since we think we can do it with laws, we could start by enforcing them and see if that works (i.e. no plea-bargains for the illegal possession of a firearm when committing a crime and prosecuting people who use a fake ID or lie on the 4473 background check form). If you want more laws, as I said elsewhere, impose a mandatory death sentence on violent, recidivist lawbreakers that use a firearm while committing a felony.

    Re: “Modern, western countries have murder rates less than 1/5 th of what we do. Why is that?… What do we change?”

    I don’t know. Lots of these countries have strict firearm laws and while their gun homicide rates may remain lower than the US, some rates did increase or stay the same after the passage of the restrictive laws. In some other cases, the use of other weapons increased while the use of firearms decreased. Also, you need to be careful comparing statistics – the UK for example supposedly reports firearm homicides not on the basis of a dead body but on the basis of if the crime has been solved and the guilty party has been prosecuted.

    Re: “What, in our society is different?”

    There are all kinds of theories – gang violence due to drug trafficking or other criminal activity; black on black crime because of (fill in the blank); cultural heritage; decline of the family as a unit; deterioration of personal responsibility and the consideration and tolerance of others – All of these theories are plausible but difficult to correlate and prove.

  36. @Marie

    Re: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein”

    My comments about Senator Feinstein were in reference to Elmira’s assertion that no one is trying to take the guns away from people that have harmed no one. Your last sentence about her supporting laws banning so-called “assault weapons” makes my point that that is Senator Feinstein’s goal.

    The problem with Senator Feinstein’s logic is that she tries to blame all of the firearm-related problems on the gun. As an example, if you look at the FBI statistics for 2011 (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/download-printable-files), out of 12664 homicides, 323 were performed with rifles (Note: the so called “assault rifles” are a subset of this number) while more (728) were committed with personal weapons like hands and feet. Also note that the first semi-automatic handgun was invented in the late 1800’s and the most popular version went into production in 1911. It is also noted the so-called evil “assault rifles” with standard capacity 30 round magazines are not new technology. The original version was invented by the Germans near the end of WWII and the current versions were invented in the late 1940’s and have always been available to the public (note the “47” in AK-47 stands for 1947, the year the firearm went into production). As a matter of fact fully automatic versions (i.e. machine guns), which are true military grade rifles, were readily available to the general public until 1986 and background checks on firearm transfers weren’t required until 1994 – yet nobody talks about mass shootings with any version (semi-automatic or automatic) of these guns during the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s so it’s a relatively new phenomenon and logic would indicate it’s being caused by something else.

  37. “Studies have indicated a connection between when Missouri repealed its gun permit system in 2007, eliminating background check requirements for private handgun sales, with a doubling of the number of guns winding up at crime scenes.”

    “Loosening up the rules for the good guys who want guns also loosens the rules for the bad guys who want guns. It’s that simple.” Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has tried to impress this upon Missouri legislators. So has Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Chief of Police Darryl Forte.

    Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/mary-sanchez/article35668398.html#storylink=cpy

  38. @Marie

    Re: “with a doubling of the number of guns winding up at crime scenes”

    This is the worst thing that happened? If I believed the anti-gun rhetoric about the value of background checks, I would have expected the death rate to spiral upward. In reality, it stayed about the same – up some years and down in others (See http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/mocrimn.htm). Correlation does not imply causation and the outcome is not surprising when considering the results stated in a 2004 DOJ report (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf – Table 14) that interviewed criminals serving prison sentences to determine where they got their firearms. In that study 37.4% said they got their guns from private sales or transfers from “family and friends” which didn’t require a background check. This begs the question – what are the scruples of the family and friends of a criminal? I don’t know what new law you could pass to close a loophole that would force likely witting family members or criminal cohorts to run background checks on other criminals when all the parties involved will probably ignore any relevant laws. Note, in the same study, another 40.0% said they obtained their guns illegally (which obviously didn’t require a background check) while only 0.8% said they got their guns from gun shows.

  39. @Marie

    Re: “Why NOT ban “assault weapons”?”

    In a physical sense, there is no such thing as an assault weapon. It’s a generic, derogatory term coined by some anti-gun zealots designed to win public support from a part of the population that is ignorant about firearms and to encompass any firearm they want to ban. The most popular targets are firearms that look like those used by the military but in reality do not have the same capabilities – and because of the generic nature of the term, any “ban” could very easily encompass the majority of firearms owned by an estimated 70 million gun owners who have harmed or threatened no one. Also, I stated in another post, based on FBI data, these military look-alike firearms which fall into a subcategory of rifles, are rarely used in a crime (the total of all rifles in 2011 was 323). Hence, using 2011 statistics with a population of 319 million Americans, your chances of being killed from one of them are less than 1 in 987,000 and probably more like 1 in a few million. So the only reason to ban them would be to help placate the excessive fears of a part of the population that exhibits chronic symptoms of a psychological anxiety disorder related to firearms for which they may want to consider treatment from a professional psychologist or therapist. Another approach would be for them to go to a shooting range that has a training staff and try out different firearms to see if all the fuss is really justified.

  40. @Marie

    Re: “You use your sources, I’ll use mine”

    I read this study in detail a few years ago. Mother Jones is hardly a credible source as they have an unabashed anti-gun agenda. However to their credit, they did publish the data and if you look at you will find that of the 61 individuals involved only 14 had military style rifles and of those 14 only 4 used them exclusively and the other 10 had other firearms that they could have or did use. So their claim that 42 of the 143 firearms would be ineffective if high capacity magazines were outlawed is a word doctored stretch to say the least. The other problem with that logic is that the aggressor always has the advantage – he can choose the time, place, environment, protection, firearms, tactics and is aware of what is happening and has the element of surprise and smaller magazines or the type of firearm won’t necessarily change the outcome because the aggressor can plan on it and train for it.

  41. @Marie

    Re: “You fancy yourself a psychologist: I think NOT.”

    I never claimed to be a psychologist but I did read part of the relevant section of the DSM 5 manual (www.terapiacognitiva.eu/dwl/dsm5/DSM-5.pdf) on anxiety disorders (page 189) and can correlate some of the symptoms with a lot of the actions and rhetoric that come from the people that want to ban assault weapons especially when presented with the facts

  42. I am unabashedly anti-gun because “the numbers” show that this country surpasses any other in gun deaths. The availability of guns makes that happen.

  43. Jim: Assault weapon, high capacity magazine, Sandy Hook…It happened, lower capacity weapons would have had a lower number of murders.

  44. Re: “the numbers” show that this country surpasses any other in gun deaths”

    Not true. I’m not fond of wikipedia but this data is pretty close to other sources I have seen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

    Re: “The availability of guns makes that happen”

    Considering this country has an estimated 300 million firearms and 70 million gun owners, if that was true, the number of homicides from firearms would be a lot higher than they are.

  45. @Thinking about it

    Re: “lower capacity weapons would have had a lower number of murders.”

    You’re entitled to that opinion but you have no way of knowing that – especially considering the victims were young children unable to defend themselves. Also, there are several video demonstrations on Youtube of magazine swaps by both novices and experts. In 9 different demonstrations that I reviewed, the total end-to-end time difference to aim, fire and swap magazines varies anywhere from 1.4 seconds for an experienced shooter to 2.4 seconds for a novice. If only the time to swap magazines is considered, the times range from 0.3 to 3.5 seconds. So is 3.5 seconds really going to make a difference? One video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=b2Upjn5DR0o#!)
    shows several swaps by both a novice and an experienced shooter as well as how a person who starts running when he realizes a magazine swap commences can move only 9 to14 feet before the next shot is fired. And this “getaway” tactic is ineffective if the shooter reloads during a lull before the firearm is empty (known as a combat reload) as was reported to have been done by the Sandy Hook killer. Finally, as I told @seamus if firearms weren’t available, the killer could have used a home made flame thrower (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNu0sR89_BM) and accomplished the task in less time with a lot more carnage and suffering.

  46. Jim Smith: So, with the exception of a couple countries in Africa, the other countries that surpass the U.S. in gun deaths are in Central and So. America.
    If you’re satisfied with that low bar, so be it. I am not.

  47. Chart overload!! wikipedia is useful, but when there are so many references to “needs additional verification”, “does not cite any references or sources”,
    I lose interest fast. Proof no longer matters, just keep talking, I guess. That’s the way is; there are many who subscribe to lax gun laws and they are going to continue to rail against saner measures that could avert many senseless deaths.

  48. Marie has hit the nail on the head with a sledge hammer! As hundreds before her have expressed the same. So in a nut shell she will lead you to believe that reguardless of any facts, source, and irrespective of rational and reasonable discourse, it’s better to be safe than sorry, no matter the level risk, even if it’s 1 in a million. So with that said, why even step out of your house for fear that you might catch a hang nail or get wet if it rains. Or even living at all, as per the odds of serious risk perspective scale of annual deaths at home of all people, all risks(ie., falls, posioning, fires, etc.), is 1 in 70,000. Just a thought, those odds are more than 3Xs likely of death as compared to assault by someone else by firearm.

    Ready to place bets ?

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