Guns & Government: What’s the Solution?

It should be obvious by now that something is seriously wrong in America regarding the responsible use of firearms and effective enforcement of our nation’s gun laws. Last week’s gruesome shooting sprees in Newtown, Connecticut and Portland, Oregon, are the latest wake up calls in a long series of gun rampages.

The latest gun massacres have left us shaken, shocked, outraged and bewildered. That’s because we know something is seriously wrong in society when any teenager, 20-something, person with a mental illness, or even an average law abiding adult can gain fast and easy access to military-style assault weapons. The sole purpose of such weapons of warfare are to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

An American Battlefield?

No ordinary civilian needs to possess automatic or semi-automatic weapons…ever!

Moreover, anyone brandishing military weapons should NEVER be able to simply walk into an elementary school and start shooting it up — or a shopping mall, a movie theater, the grocery store, a university campus, a high school, place of worship, or any other public place. Yet that is exactly what is happening everywhere nationwide from inner cities to middle class towns and beyond.

Has 21st century America already become a literal battlefield?

There are reportedly about the same number of guns circulating in America as there are people, over 310 million. And that figure only includes the guns authorities know about and report. The actual number is likely much higher. Further, public opinion over various gun issues appears fluid despite the continuing carnage. Can we ever reach a national consensus on such a contentious issue?

Nevertheless, something must be done to ensure a safer America — if not for us then for our children and grandchildren. However, is government the solution to our growing gun problem, or has government in fact become the problem preventing a solution?

Familiar Pattern of Gun Violence

The pattern of mass gun violence always appears the same as the media-political cycle plays out. First, we receive the tragic breaking news via TV or Twitter:

There’s been another mass gun shooting at XYZ school [or public place] on Main Street USA. Over a dozen innocent people have been killed and wounded, including defenseless women and children who were murdered in cold blood with military style assault weapons.

Then the cable TV news channels and digital media light up providing further saturation coverage. Ditto for the national broadcast news networks and print media. The non-stop news reports carry disturbing banner headlines such as, “National Tragedy in ABCville” or “Mass Murder on Maple Square.” Each new gun massacre receives its own sensational media moniker to boost TV ratings.

(photo credit: The Newtown Bee)

Media Saturation & Political Posturing

The President of the United States and our elected leaders make moving speeches condemning the mass gun violence in the strongest possible terms. They express sympathy for the victims and their families, as well as remorse and regret to the nation. They pledge to take some unspecified action, of course, to halt such murderous shooting sprees in the future — as such brutal and barbaric behavior is clearly uncivilized and un-American.

Tears are shed. Hearts are broken. Flags are flown at half mast. Memorial and funeral services follow, with the news media covering every step like a shark seeking out its prey. The media turn over every rock to scrutinize the lives of the shooters, victims and their respective families — like a national soap opera playing out in real life.

High-fives are exchanged among executives behind closed doors of some network newsrooms and the C-suite for scoring what’s known in media circles as the “Get” — an exclusive live interview on a major TV news or infotainment show. Mr. and Mrs. Smith go live on air to talk in tears about their young daughter who just sufferred an untimely death after several bullets were randomly shot into her head and body by a deranged gunman.

Yet despite all the media coverage and political posturing there has been little substantive progress made, legislative or otherwise, to effectively address the gun epidemic. Some observers chalk it up to political dysfunction and partisan gridlock in Washington and state capitals. Others blame the powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association and its affiliates.

Some say the root cause is the breakdown of the nuclear family structure. Others point the finger at popular culture, led by the entertainment industry, which has allegedly desensitized young people by glorifying gun violence in films, TV, music, the Internet and video games, among other things.

Endless Epidemic

Eventually the aforementioned media cycle ends after wall-to-wall news coverage and potent political pronouncements. Then another sad situation develops. A week or two passes and we, as a nation, collectively mourn and move on. Politicians and the media embrace the next national crisis, regardless of what it may be, and we follow along. The previous crisis is soon dismissed as old news, be it mass gun violence or something else.

Yet the endless epidemic of gun massacres persists. Despite the heavy human loss and deep emotional toll, absolutely no substantive measures are taken by government to find a lasting solution. Therefore, America’s endless love affair with guns — along with the often grim and gruesome consequences — continues unabated.

By now, gun-related mass murders have become so ingrained in our cultural fiber that they have arguably become as American as baseball and apple pie. We all know it’s not a question of “if” but “when” the next shooting spree will take place? Yet perhaps the more pressing questions at hand are these:

Will such senseless civilian mass murder via military-style assault weapons ever come to an end?

Is it even possible for government at all levels to solve the gun epidemic?

Is there in fact any effective solution afterall?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, more innocent lives will be lost as the next Newtown may be your own neighborhood.

Also see:

Should Schools Have Police Presence? NRA Says YES.

Guns & Gov: Banning Assault Weapons


* All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.

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Pam Broviak

My own opinion is that if it isn’t guns it will be something else (it seemed like the guy in the killings in China used a knife). I keep thinking we won’t really solve the problem until we admit and address the underlying social cause. Can government do that? I am not really sure they can. And sometimes I wonder if government is making it worse by dehumanizing us in every aspect of our lives.

Peter Sperry

Popular culture glorifies violent loners in movies and rap gangsters in music while denigrating and mocking traditional values and those who live by them. Troubled individuals clearly tormented by mental illness are denied the treatment they desperately need in misguided efforts to protect their civil rights. Polite society turns a blind eye to these abuses of First and Fiveth amendment rights and then seeks to ease their guilt feelings by trashing the Second amendment. Any efforts to end the violence we see in our society that do not focus on culture and mental health reform are destined to be as ineffective as they are misguided.

Ami Wazlawik

Though I agree that mental health reform is needed, there are plenty of people who do not have a mental illness killing people everyday, because they have guns and feel the need to use them for whatever reason. What we really need is a cultural shift – we need to stop glorifying violence, change how we think about masculinity in our culture, and tackle other social problems that lead people to violence. We need to be more willing and open to discuss mental illness, and less willing to simply shrug it off as a phase or what not. But we also need to address the gun problem, because we do have one. The average American does not need .223s and the crazy ammo that’s been used in some of the shootings (what the authorities in the latest tragedy described as able to do “maximum damage”). We should ban such items and do a better job enforcing such bans. The gun show loophole should also be closed. Of course this will not stop people from illegally obtaining things, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Henry Brown

Collecting all the semi-automatic guns, nor registering all weapons, nor denying access to ammunition, nor identifying and locking up all the mentally ill will eliminate this kind of carnage. Nor, as some of my friends have said, arm and train everyone, permit praying in the schools.

Would offer, that as in the 1996 shooting and killing of children in Scotland, and the suicide bombers wherever, these kind of events will go on forever. We can reduce the frequency of them by better identifying those at risk of doing these kind of things, and making the effort (READ COST) to insure that the people who are at risk of doing something like this get the proper treatment and cannot access weapons of ANY kind!

Allen Sheaprd

Quote from NBC news “Its easier to get an assault weapon than mental health”

Some fact checking shows this to be true. Connecticut already has some of the strictist gun laws. More laws will not help as much as helping people who need help. Even without guns, these folks will suffer and can hurt others.

Please stop focusing on what was used and focus on who did the act. From personal experiance I can say the 2012/2013 school year has kids using lighters to set other kids cloths on fire, bullying, date rape, etc.

If we can make better computers why can we not make better people. Help those suffering from mental illness and prevent these tragedies. The kid was *already* banned from having the assault weapon. Why will one more law make a difference ??

Dennis Snyder

I’d like to point out that cars kill more people than guns. 32,367 were killed in 2011 by automobiles, 8,583 by guns, 4,081 by other weapons. Is the problem the instrument used or the killer? Do we lock up the cars or the drivers?

Anyone can buy a car. You have to pass a drivers test to operate a car. Anyone can buy a cell phone and wear their thumbs out while texting, no training or licensing is required. While we have laws against texting while driving I see it all the time and get into near-misses daily. Since this group is chartered to be more focused on social media than guns, I ask what are we ***ACTIVELY*** doing in GovLoop to encourage responsible use of social media, the kind that is possibly responsible for 4 times more deaths than guns?

For what its worth, my guns are locked in a very expensive safe hidden inside a closet and bolted through the floor to the basement and nobody has the combination, including my wife.

Allen Sheaprd


Actively doing on GovLoop ??

Crowd sourcing good information like yours.

Opening up the debate. I can not carry a weapon at work because it is a government office, but visitors can.

Offering solutions so those suffering get help – regardless of weather they have committed violence or not.

Bonding and supporting others during this tragedy. What happened was horrible. I can not think about nor understand it. Using twitter and other social media to help reach out in a balanced way to discuss all sides of the issue. In my opinion there is more than one.

Clator Butler

And to the earlier comment, there were no killings in China. A knife was used. The victims survived. Thanks to Political Loudmouth for the following image.

Dennis Snyder

The Olympics have shooting events but no driving events. Shooting is a sport enjoyed responsibly by millions.

If you know something about guns then say so. If you just have an opinion, it doesn’t count.

Thomas Alduro Palmer

Dave, I disagree with you. Guns have been around for a long time, but these mass killings not so long. I believe the problem is with our society and its values, or lack thereof. Mental illness and just plain evil is a fact of life. The mentally ill need help, and that is a role government can play. If I believed for a minute that giving up my 2nd amendment rights would stop this kind of thing, I would do it in a minute. But sadly, I believe that would just let evil run amuck.

Keena Cauthen

If you try to make guns, specific types or all or whatever, illegal, you will run into the same problem that was made when alcohol was made illegal. It didn’t stop the distribution or sale of alcohol, but promoted gangsters and such who made $$$$ off of making and selling the stuff to the average person. Not even getting into the discussion on the 2nd Amendment rights… and how, if you take a specific weapon out of the hands of the general public, then you would also need to take it out of the hands of the police forces and military — and where would that leave them against the criminals and other bad guys? If the outcry is because of the violence that was done, then we have to look at the root causes, and not take the easy road of blaming it on a tool used in the violence. How many children are hurt or killed in this country in vehicles? How many people are killed because of drunk driving? Or inattention while driving? Why are we not banning vehicles because of the deaths caused by them? And this is only one example… there are other items that folks are allowed to do, use, etc which are causing deaths around the country but we aren’t jumping up and down about these.

We need to bring responsibility back into play. If you do something wrong, you are responsible — not the person next to you, not what you had for lunch, not whatever emotion overcame you — you are responsible for deciding on a course of action and taking it. We need parents to start taking responsibility for their children — what they watch, play, how they act, etc. Parents need to teach their children responsibility at home, enforced by the teachers at school. We need less government interference and regimentation that is enabling folks to feel they deserve stuff without being responsible for doing anything to get it other than being. Government needs to let people be responsible for determining what is or is not acceptable for their family. Put responsibility for raising children back on the families — including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, whatever it takes to make it work for each family. (Family does not have to be blood relatives, but can include community, religious organizations, youth organizations, sports, etc) Change the culture, from what we promote on the news, movies, music, games, etc… so that it is no longer “cool” or expected or acceptable to: be babies having babies; disrespectful to authority; etc. When children like Honey Boo Boo is on national tv, acting like a brat and getting by with it, and we are allowing our kids to watch this, what is that teaching them? When we let our kids listen to music where they glorify killing cops, where they disrespect (call names, slap, etc) their girlfriend/boyfriend, what are we teaching them? When the news is so focused on the guresome, sad, horrific, and this is all that we see, what are we learning? We need to disconnect a bit from the world, reconnect a bit as families, in whatever capacity that is for each person, and start focusing on the positive and good and teaching manners and “old fashioned” ideals. I’m saying this as a mother of a 7 and 9 year old, who’s husband is often not at home and unable to help in the day-to-day lives of all of us, and who works full time. Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Yes.

Clator Butler

Evil has been having its way with the world since the dawn of time or the first sin, whichever way you believe history went. When the founding fathers created the Second Amendment, firearms consisted of musket loaders, which took a trained individual a minute to load and fire a single shot.

Automatics and semi-automatics did not exist then, nor are they used in Olympic sports today. Bolt or Fortner action rifles are used in the sport. Stop conflating the call for a ban on automatics and semi-automatics with a ban on all guns.

Clator Butler

Keena, anything can be fashioned into a weapon. Cars, Alcohol, Tobacco, Video Games, TV, Leather belts, Knives, and Forks all have legitmate purposes. The purpose of assault rifles are singular: to cut down life.

Dennis Snyder


We already have a ban on automatics. We also have bans on certain drugs, chemicals, etc. Bans do not stop their use. The Founding Fathers didn’t specify which freedoms we should enjoy except in the most general terms because they knew future technologies would be invented. Ben Franklin the inventor was the principal drafter. We need to refocus on the root cause of the news that triggered this thread, hate, crime and mental illness. Government legislation only works for those who abide the laws. The entitlement mentality depends on government to assume personal responsibility and strips people of their constitutional right for freedoms in their various forms, and ultimately humanity itself. Chip away at one and you have lost all.

Keena has it right and very eloquently so. Allen Sheaprd is on target with opening dispassionate and intelligent debate.

Thomas Alduro Palmer

Clator, I do not have an AR or AK and don’t want one. However, I know a number of people that own and use them to hunt with, so you are incorrect regarding their use. I think they should be able to keep and bear them.

The 2nd amendment exists to limit the power of government and ensure citizens are on equal footing with government. Historically, nobody has committed mass murder like government: concentration camps, the cultural revolution, the killing fields, and etc. I would like to think it couldn’t happen here, but then again, Germany was an enlightened people and unknowingly voted a monster into power. Our forefathers wanted to protect us from such an event, given their recent experience.

Sherman Webers

CAVEAT: All opinions expressed here are my personal beliefs and do not represent the stance of the agency that I work for. SW

As a gun owner and a staunch supporter of the right to own guns of all types and calibers, I find the idea that banning weapons of any kind, as a remedy to what has happened in Connecticut, Oregon, etc., a bit silly. Most of us that own weapons like those used in Newton don’t really think of the weapons as something to kill with. We admire the mechanics, precision and power of the device. Our assault rifles live in safes awaiting range days, Red Dawn, or perhaps Zombie attacks. The fact that my semi-auto 10MM Glock’s might save us during a home invasion might be a benefit as well.

The real problem and solution has been discussed here already to a point. We need to make the gun owner accountable for storing the weapons safely. Educate them on how to do that. Continue to work on better ways to identify and cross-match people at risk purchasing weapons.

Additionally, we need to take a closer look at the medications that MD’s are giving our children and young adults for ADD, ADHD, personality disorders, etc. It would be very interesting to know what medications that Adam Lanza was on for his disorders. I would guess that you will see at least 3 of them on a commercial tonight. Having seen the side effects of these medications in various situations, I can tell you that there is a real risk of prescribing these medications and sending the patient out into society where there are guns, cars, knives, violent video games and the various ills of society.

Tom Sullivan


As a parent of two elementary school-aged children, heck, as a human being, my heart goes out to those that lost so much on Friday. A parent should never have to bury a child, much less as a result of a murderous rampage.

I’m not going to get into a discussion of probabilities or statistics as they are cold-comfort to those affected by tragedies such as this. I do have one huge (but not sole) issue with this statement though: “No ordinary civilian needs to possess automatic or semi-automatic weapons…ever!”

The hubris this statement embodies is mind-numbing but unfortunately all-to-common among those whose desire to “do something” so easily trumps the need to think first. The idea that you, Joe Blow down the street, or a government representative or office at any level knows what I or any other of the 90+ million gun owners in this country need is beyond the ability of my limited vocabulary to describe.

The inability, or maybe a more accurate term would be unwillingness of any of the above mentioned “do somethings” to actually detail how your/their ideas on gun control or new laws would limit, minimize, or prevent atrocities like these is also very telling. Not to mention a total dearth of discussion of the enforcement mechanisms that would necessarily follow any new laws. But this should really be of no surprise coming (typically) from those that don’t own firearms (or those firearms affected by the proposed laws) in the first place.

If it doesn’t affect you, why would you care?

A more general issue I have with the line of thinking (or lack there of) in this post is this little principle called innocent until proven guilty. This is supposed to be a keystone in our justice system. An inviolate tenet designed to protect those who did no wrong and impose upon the accuser(s) the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Not only do new (not to mention most existing) gun control laws technically violate this principle, the lack of any details on effect or enforcement just totally avoid the whole burden of proof hurdle…how convenient!

It would be bad enough if that was all, but they go one step further by outright punishing those of us that had nothing…zero…zilch…nada to do with this or any other such tragedy. This punishment does not take the form of incarceration, rather it typically results in prolonged wait times, increased fees, or access restrictions to the types of weapons “No ordinary civilian needs to possess…ever!”

For if you think banning or restricting access to the type of weapons used in this attack will stop with just these types of weapons…just wait till the next tragedy…

Clator Butler

Again, do not equate the call for a ban on assault weapons (which has not been in effect since it lapsed in 2004) is the same as a call for a ban to all weapons.

As a hunter I also know the laws and know that assault rifles have no place in hunting either. Virginia has a bag limit on deer to two per day maximum, six per year maximum. So unless you plan to exceed the bag limits in violation of law or are more interested in the joy of shooting animals rather than eating them (riddling a single carcass with 30 bullets will spoil the meat), there is no purpose for a high-capacity assault rifle in hunting.

Finally, Dennis your attempt to twist an earlier post of mine to your own liking is in contrast with the facts. Limiting access to instruments of death does not equal tyranny. Preventing the mass production of instruments of death does not equal tyranny. Tyranny is defined as:

1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
5. undue severity or harshness.
If the democratic rule of the people decrees that its right to bear arms does not extend to certain kinds of arms (we are pretty-much universal in agreement that tactical nukes should not be in the hands of civilians) then that is not tyranny. That is the rule of law.
Allen Sheaprd

Question or poll for those of us working in government offices. No employee may have a gun while working.

1) Should there be someone on site with a fire arm, a gun. Y / N ??

2) How many bullets should they have in the clip: 1, 3, 5, 9, 13 18 ?

4) Should the gun be manua (load each round individually or ‘M’. Semi automatic – fires with each squeeze of the trigger ‘S’ or fully automatic ‘F’- continues to fire as long as the trigger is pulled back. M – S – F ??

Thomas Alduro Palmer

Clator, the 2nd amendment concerns small arms.

I know a number of people that own and use AR type firearms to hunt with, so you are incorrect regarding that issue, although they usually use a 5 or 10 round clip. I think you unfairly characterize them in your comment. That being said, the 2nd amendment was not intended to protect our right to hunt. I agree that limiting certain firearms does not equal tyranny, but it is (another?) step in that direction, and every tyrant seeks to limit the peoples power to resist.

Dennis Snyder

Dear Claton the Hunter,

Assault weapons and automatic weapons are not the same. Look it up.

Shooting encompasses more than killing animals. I have yet to shoot at anything except paper. Mostly I’m into reloading because I value the math skills required. I have no desire to get Lyme disease or deal with the fleas and other parasites.

Tyranny is more than a definition, it is a state of mind. Exercising absolute control over personal purchases is way outside of what most would call a democratic society. Consider your profile here on GovLoop as a director of operations interested in guiding government toward more sound decision-making (paraphrasing here). When you draft a proposal in response to RFQ, you are asking (not telling) the government to consider your position. You are suggesting here that government should ban instruments and leave mental illness alone (since you have not mentioned it once). You can’t have it both ways.

As for “twisting” your words, they remain yours.

Thomas Alduro Palmer

Allen, regarding your question, we have an armed guard on the premises and secure entry. Given the type of firearm he carries, I would think he has between 15 and 17 rounds, and one additional clip.

Allen Sheaprd


Thank you. I wonder how many others have a guard. My building, along with several others do not. We have key card access with camera’s. Key card secure access is good.

The local schools have added armed security guards in case of a “copy cat”

Two people have been far more vigilant about locking doors and slower to buzz people in.

The one line of security is being able to lock the door and dial 9-1-1. Then sit, wait and hope.

Having an armed guard or citizen would be good. I think its why gun shooters never go to NRA meetings, gun shows or police departments. They go to schools where everyone knows people are disarmed.

Dennis Snyder


Good question. I think the type and capacity are typically matched to the situation. For example, Marines guarding ammunition stores is different from the local Social Security office. Many security guards are contracted rather than sworn Federal officers, so there’s a difference in their scope of responsibility and authority. If you go overseas you’ll find much different levels of armament, like Heathrow, Paris, Bogota and Souda Bay, Crete. Government has the obligation to protect its citizens, and government can’t (shouldn’t) be everywhere.

Bryan Conway JD, PMP

When my grandfather was a child in a rural Kentucky town, he would hunt in the morning on his way to school. Afterwards, he took his rifle to school and put it in a storage area, attended school, and would take his rifle home afterwards. This happened in schools all across America – classrooms full of guns and ammunition and a complete absence of violence. Can you imagine that today? It’s the American youth that has changed, and it has nothing to do with guns

I believe that the Newtown shooting will have the same effect on gun possession and school security as the 9/11terrorist attacks had on public building security and air travel. All of us have lost and will lose more significant liberties because of horrific, highly visible violent attacks by a handful of sick individuals. Over the past 15 years, 10-15 disturbed psychos in places like Columbine, Blacksburg, Aurora, and Newtown have set us on a path to weaken and possibly end the 2nd amendment rights that hundreds of millions of Americans have practiced responsibly since our country’s founding. But I suppose that is the world we live in…

Neil Bonner

With a due respect David, spare me your sanctimony. Have you forgotten the aftermath of Katrina? Have you forgotten the L.A. Riots in 1992? Perhaps a little refresher is in order.

Starting in April 1992 there were six days of widespread rioting in Los Angeles where the police was largely absent as it was deemed “too dangerous” for them to be out on the streets. 53 people were killed during the rioting and there were OVER 2,000 injuries. Citizen and shopkeepers were forced to defend themselves from the rioters and looters as the government was unable and unwilling to protect its citizens.

Some Korean-American shopkeepers used AR-15’s to defend themselves and their shops from the looters. They were largely successful but the citizens and shopkeepers without AR-15’s had their stores destroyed. In all 2,300 Korean-American’s had their shops looted or burned.

Many Los Angeles citizens wanted to purchase firearms to protect themselves from the rioting but the 10-day waiting period in California prevented them from self-defense while the rioting was ongoing.

So please don’t you dare suggest that AR-15’s and other so-called “assault weapons” including large capacity magazines have no place in the hands of private citizens. How dare you? How dare you try to violate our civil rights?

[The thoughts expressed here are my own, not my employer, etc.]

Phil Morgan

“…fast and easy access to military-style assault weapons…”

— ?? He did the majority of his killings with two standard pistols.

“…No ordinary civilian needs to possess automatic or semi-automatic weapons…ever!”
— ?? That is your opinion, and I beg to differ! (You are entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine). Difference is… when the next bozo with guns shows up to do some killing… you’ll cower while I engage! (and you’ll thank me later that I had a semi-auto at the ready!).

–“Customer stops stick-up at Ocala Internet cafe” [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9RKMtLcacU]

“…Moreover, anyone brandishing military weapons should NEVER be able to simply walk into an elementary school and start shooting it up — or a shopping mall, a movie theater, the grocery store, a university campus, a high school, place of worship, or any other public place…”
— Concur!

“…Yet that is exactly what is happening everywhere nationwide from inner cities to middle class towns and beyond.”
— ?? Really? EVERYWHERE? REALLY? (Chicken Little!)

“…Nevertheless, something must be done to ensure a safer America — if not for us then for our children and grandchildren.”
— Oh puh-lease! Everytime someone says “Safety for the children” you know it means more nanny-state laws!

“…Yet despite all the media coverage and political posturing there has been little substantive progress made, legislative or otherwise, to effectively address the gun epidemic. ”
— ?? You think MORE gun laws will solve this? (I do not!).

“…Some say the root cause is the breakdown of the nuclear family structure. Others point the finger at popular culture, led by the entertainment industry, which has allegedly desensitized young people by glorifying gun violence in films, TV, music, the Internet and video games, among other things.”
— I take it you don’t agree (“…Some say…”).

“…Will such senseless civilian mass murder via military-style assault weapons ever come to an end?”
— No, not ever. Difference is–in the America you want, the killers will be government agents.

“…Is it even possible for government at all levels to solve the gun epidemic?”
— No. Government is not the answer to the type of cultural meltdown we’re witnessing in America.

“…Is there in fact any effective solution afterall?”
— Yes. Concealed carry. Crazy gun-nuts will think twice if they suspect they’ll be gunned down within seconds of starting a shooting spree.

“…Time will tell. Meanwhile, more innocent lives will be lost as the next Newtown may be your own neighborhood.”
— Won’t be my neighborhood, because the crazies will know that we shoot back!
— Good bet it’ll be your “Gun-Free” neighborhood, where the crazies know that nobody will shoot back!

Henry Brown

I believe that the US Supreme court has already ruled that the banning of the sale of these assault rifles is completely within the bounds of the 2nd Amendment, as is the selling of machine guns and other weapons of mass destruction.

Nice to talk about banning designed killing machines such as the ones which were used in Aurora and Newtown but I haven’t heard any discussion on the collection of the hundred of thousands, have heard discussions that there might be as many as 500,000 legally owned assault rifles in this country. Would the plan for those who would ban the sell of these weapons also collect and destroy the legally owned ones?

I believe that this is a much bigger problem than legal or illegal access to assault rifles. If we as a country were to invest the money in properly identifying those at risk of doing something as terrible as this killing in Newtown and expend the funds to help them get over their mental illness in such a way that did not forever destroy the reputation of everyone involved. Would suggest that we would probably rarely if ever hear about these mass killings regardless of the weapons.

David Dejewski

I recognize that mine is only one opinion, but I will share a little from my perspective. So everyone understands where my perspective comes from, I’m a US Marine Corps trained, expert marksman. I put 1,000 rounds per day down range with those Marines. I shot (and still shoot) 285/300 or better during qualifications. I earned my expert pistol qualification with a rickety Colt .45 1911 back in the early 90’s, and have trained regularly with 9mm, .40, .45 and 10 mm hand guns. As a former Corpsman, I’ve cleaned up my share of weapons related messes, including suicides and attempted suicides. I’ve also had weapons pointed at me with malice. I know how to use controlled violence to stop violence, I understand why that can be an unavoidable option, and I understand first hand what happens when we try and/or fail.

I’m not keen on giving up my weapon, but I also know that if I don’t train with it, even a hefty 5 lb trigger pull (trigger pull = the amount of pressure it takes to squeeze the trigger) breaks easily when adrenaline is flowing. In other words, it’s easy to accidentally shoot an unintended target.

I am a fan of the 2nd amendment, I own semi-automatic (a scary buzz word that simply means the rounds are loaded automatically for you, up to the capacity of the magazine, after each single shot) handguns, and I’d probably recover with counseling after putting two rounds center mast and one in the mellon of an out-of-control shooter. But I don’t believe most ordinary citizens should be toting weapons, and I don’t want to arm teachers.

So much of good weapons training is about not shooting. It’s being able to control the adrenaline monkey, keeping your finger out of the trigger hole (I always cringe at movies or TV programs when I see the hero on the hunt with his finger in the trigger hole) being aware of what’s in front of and behind your target, having the presence of mind to not shoot without a good sight picture or with the wrong ammo, and keeping someone else from taking your weapon and using it against you or other innocent people. This kind of awareness and discipline is above and beyond most people who simply take an NRA safety course to learn how to operate a weapon safely on a range.

In cases where weapons are carried by ordinary citizens during peacetime, I believe they should be licensed. That license should come with quality training, mandatory continuing education / competency checks, and permission to carry should expire. It should be supported by real background checks, a medical exam, and an initial competency assessment. We all do this much to drive a car and I have to do this to keep my pilot’s license current. We already have models to leverage.

There’s another constant in almost every mass violence incident (shooting / stabbing / bombing) beside the weapon: mental illness. If we’re dealing with State sanctioned violence (like we often see in Israel and other countries in the Middle East), we have more of a case for arming our citizens. If we’re primarily dealing with violence perpetrated by people with mental illness, then maybe some of our focus should be on that. How do we better identify and support our mentally ill?

Dennis Snyder


There’s a gun ban in D.C. The White House is prickly with snipers, Secret Service and armed police. Banning guns doesn’t seem to be working from the perspective that guns seem to be the logical answer to guns. How’s that working for you? We have laws that prohibit sale to convicted felons, etc. but the mental illness exhibited in the high-profile incidents remains relatively untouched. Laws are only for the law-abiding, Neil Bonner clearly explained that.

I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Its not rhetoric.

Since you started the discussion, please help us understand where you are going with the root cause of the violence relative to GovLoop? Will big data change the video game and movie industries? Will The Great American App solve the mental health crisis? Will the next social media site bring the sociopaths the help they need? Will a cool new tablet or phone sufficiently distract the next killer? Will texting finally get violent criminals off the streets?

John L. Waid

First, ask those who say that disarming the law-abiding will somehow make us safe from the non-law-abiding to give you statistics. They do not and cannot. Just the opposite is true. Crime rates go down when communities authorize concealed-carry permits. The bad guys do not know who is armed and are no keener on getting shot than anyone else.

Second, beware the statistics you are given. The anti-gun people lump in suicides and accidents with criminal behavior. No amount of gun control is going to stop those. The NRA advocates gun safety heavily and provides many safety courses free of charge. No one knows the dangers of a gun in the hands of a criminal or an untrained person better than the gun community. NRA child safety programs have reduced child deaths from accidents from 1 in 100,000 at the beginning of the century when they began to keep records to 1 in 1,000,000 (I believe that’s right) today. No amount of government interference could do that.

Third, bad facts make bad law. It was, I believe, President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel who used to say “Never let a crisis got to waste.” He meant that in a crisis people may support things they never would with cool heads.

Fourth: Here’s an idea. Let teachers come in packing. Just think how quickly the gunman’s rampage would have been over if that principal had had a .45 in her hand. His rampage would have been over right then and there. I believe I remember years ago a gunman entered an office building in Georgia and shot a couple of people before rounding a hallway corner smack into a secretary with a .38. His rampage was over. These rampages are usually ended by the arrival of people with guess what in their hands — guns. If the people inside could carry, the delay in getting the SWAT team there would not be a problem. Remember the new motto of law enforcement — “When seconds count, we will be there in minutes.”

Lesson: government cannot address problems that government does not first create. The constant “guns are bad” tub-thumping coming out of Washington has led to students who do not know how to take care of themselves and are threatened with legal action if they do. They are thus left vulmerable to the sickos in our society that want whatever they want and are willing to kill a bunch of people to get it.

Carol Davison

There is nothing wrong with “responsible ownership of firearms”. It’s the evil, mentally ill and irresponsible that are the problem. Outlawing guns doens’t seem to be the solution, because if we do that only outlaws will have guns. Police Officers agree with this point of view. In DC after they banned guns, MD crimials worked the city because it they had less probability of being hurt. As a performance manager, here’s a suggestion solution: before a purchaser may remove a gun from a store, they must provide a bill of sale or photo of their combination locked gun safe. That will prevent the evil, mentally ill and irresponsible from having access to them. It would also be faster and cheaper than implementing gun training and having police inspect homes (scary thought!). This solution would be easy to enforce during “Walmart” type sales, but much harder to enforce at gun shows that travel around and set up in rental halls.

Carol Davison

I refer to evil here because Adam targeted the innocent. The ?Colorado? guy deliberated and set up booby traps in his home. I don’t believe that the mentally ill strategically plot these kinds of activites. Additionally, the mentally ill are statistically less likely to commit violence.

Pam Broviak

@Clator – I think there were some people killed from non-gun violence in schools in China:


Here’s another one I saw posted somewhere – this was done in 1927 with the use of bombs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

I am sure there are many more examples out there somewhere. Unfortunately it seems to me we will always risk mass violence by people with mental problems who want to kill unless we can solve true cause.

Tom Sullivan

There has been a lot of banter here (and everywhere else for that matter) regarding cause and effect; mental illness, evil, guns, violent video games, movies and music, culture, etc., etc. While I understand and even empathize with the instinctive need to “troubleshoot” what happened on Friday, and DBG, even to your desire to seek solutions in the form of some type of “gun control;” there is simply nothing to “fix” here…no miracle cure that will answer all our questions. There are as many excuses/reasons as there are people that commit these types of heinous acts. A single, one-size-fits-all solution simply does not, and in fact cannot exist.

I know this is not PC, but the human body is a complicated and intricate piece of machinery as prone to “mechanical” failure as anything humans have ever made. Call it mental illness, evil, birth defects, or just blowing a gasket, it can and does happen. We also live in a relatively free society (for all its faults, still the best and most desirable on planet Earth IMHO) which carries with it risks that include the kind of thing we witnessed on Friday. Combine these two truths and what you have is simply called “life.” Before we can effectively move on with our own lives, we must accept the fact that in some instances there will be nothing we can do because so much of what goes on around us is outside of our effective control. Period.

To answer DBG’s original questions:

NO, such senseless civilian mass murder via any type of weapon will never come to an end…

NO, it is not possible for government at any level to solve the above fact…

NO, there is, in fact no effective one-size-fits-all solution or set of solutions…

If you’re looking for an answer, a solution to all this…I submit that accepting the above facts is the best place to start.

Henry Brown


From the Salt Lake Deseret News:
11 Year old brings gun to school..

The student claimed that he brought the gun to the school, to protect himself and his friends in the event of a school shooting like the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Horsley said.

Thomas Alduro Palmer

I keep hearing on the news how three or four people going berserk and committing these types of atrocities is a miniscule percentage in a population of 300 million. But it is kind of like a shark attack, the percentages don’t matter if the shark is chewing on YOUR leg. That being said, I think any response, and I do think there must be a response, should take place after calm and careful reflection and not some knee-jerk reaction. The bulk of our 300 million citizens deserve no less.

Armed security seems to be one way to go to prevent these types of things. I am not opposed to teachers being armed, but whether you are a teacher, security guard or a police officer, you should be trained in responding to an “active shooter” situation. That is highly specialized training, and is usually the function of a SWAT team. Thus any armed teacher should be made a “special deputy” or some such after completing such training. Just an idea.

Phil Sammon

Please, stop using the misguiided phrase ‘gun violence’ as if it had meaning. No one says ‘spoon obesity’ or ‘digital camera child pornography’ when they discuss those issues. Guns do not, in and of themselves, cause violence any more than cars cause drunk driving, or microphones and computers cause hate speech.

Our country has gotten away frmo holding children and adults accountable for their actions – we are a nation of whiners who all claim to be victims when they exact some evil, and our society lets them get away with that, instead laying blame on an inanimate object.

Lay the blame where it belongs – on the adjustable nut behind the trigger. After all, God did not punish the rock, He punised Cain. And if you don’t know what that is a reference to, you have just identified the other major issue in our nation and proven my point.

John L. Waid

Thoroughly agree, especially with Tom and Phil. This administration is notorious for using crises to push their agenda. Wasn’t it Rahm Emanuel, who recently bought himself a mayoral job, who said not to let a good crisis go to waste?

If there is any governmental response, it should be after calm reflection. What has worked in the past will work in the future; what has not will not. Ever. Disarming the civilian population does not work and never has. Look at what happened in Britain last year during the riots. Over 20 years, the government had systematically disarmed the population so that when the thugs started breaking into houses there was nothing the terrified residents could do but call the over-stressed police.

Our system of background checks is seriously flawed. We thought siloing had stopped after 9/11, but in the case of the Arizona shooter, the Arizona DOJ did not have access to the information that the military had rejected him due to his sociopathic tendencies. Laws that seem designed to only infringe on our Second Amendment rights (such as ten-day delay periods for the second gun — the reasons for the delay do not exist with a second weapon) should be repealed. Make it difficult to comply with law and people will tend to not comply.

Tom Sullivan



I hate statistics, and as Thomas says, statistics matter little when it’s your leg the shark is gnawing on. But any analysis of situations like this will inevitably rely on stats; and the ones cited in the links must be part of that assessment if the assessors are being diligent.

It’s critical to remember (or should be…I have my doubts) that it’s concerned citizens like David that are espousing policies that will place restrictions on other American’s ability to purchase/own certain weapons, ammunition, accessories, etc. Therefore it is (or should be…again I have my doubts) incumbent upon them to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Color me skeptical as all I’ve heard or read so far is emotion (understandable) and knee-jerk reactions not befitting otherwise smart people.

So…can we all just take a long, slow, deep breath and think for a “minute” please?

Allen Sheaprd

To Dennis Snyder – will social media help stop violence? Could be.

There are internet sites like Experiance Project overcoming the stigma of seeking mental help through the aninimity of the internet.

I am opposed to internet monitoring tracking those seeking help.

As for the assault weapons ban – lets ban Corvett, Porsche, and other fast cars going over 80 MPH. Speed kills others – not just the driver. No one needs a car that goes over 100 MPH. Faster the car goes the more gas it uses increasing its carbon footprint.

David B. Grinberg

The beloved Ronald Reagan — may he rest in peace — once reiterated that facts are stubborn things. How true. Therefore, while the pro-gun “shoot ’em up” crowd may be entitled to its own radical opinions, it is not entitled to its own radical facts.

Below are statistics/facts from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

As you recall, James “Jim” Brady was President’s Reagan’s press secretary until he suffered permanent injuries after being gunned down during the attempt to assassinate the President of the United States. As everyone knows, former President Reagan is just one American President or national public figure who has been maliciously murdered or severely wounded over the years by deranged gunmen who abused their so-called “gun rights”.

Today it’s military-style assault weapons — killing machines — which gun owners demand. Tomorrow will it be military-style “flame throwers” or grenades or shoulder fired missiles? Where does it end? This is a dangerous slippery slope that must be addressed now through common sense gun legislation by our elected lawmakers. Some ask what “sensible” means reagrding sensible gun laws. The definition of sensible is: “Having, using, or showing good sense or sound judgment.”

STATISTICS from the Brady Center:

* There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona.

* We lose on average 32 people a day to gun murders in the U.S.

* The homicide rate in the U.S. is 6.9 times higher than 22 other high-income, high population countries, combined.

* In one year (all ages): Almost 100,000 people in America are shot.

* In one year (ages 0-19): Almost 20,000 American children and teens
are shot. In addition to Newtown, don’t forget about Portland, Aurora, Tuscon (Gabby Giffords), Virginia Tech, and a long list of other mass murders.

* Every day (on average) 270 people in America, 47 of them children and teens
are shot.

*** Sources: CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System for most recent year available — via the Brady Center.

As the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence states: “THERE ARE TOO MANY VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE because we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in America.”

According to Jim’s wife, Sarah Brady, writing in the Huffington Post:

“Like many, I’m frustrated, sick and angry. We’ve had enough debates about guns. We need action. Most Americans don’t know how weak our guns laws are. Gun owners aren’t licensed. Guns aren’t registered. Why not? Because the NRA said so. The Brady Law, named for my husband after he was shot in the 1981 attempt to assassinate President Reagan, required background checks for gun purchases from licensed gun dealers. Most private sales, including those at gun shows, don’t require background checks. That’s insanity. The background check system needs to be improved to insure that all prohibited purchasers are, in fact, prohibited from obtaining and possessing firearms. And, yes, we need a real ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and on magazines of more than ten rounds.”

She continues: “The Bushmaster rifle is a weapon of war and has no place in civilian life. Yet, it’s easily available in America today.I’m sick, too, of hearing the gun lobby and the politicians it controls tell us that the only way to make us safer is to carry more guns. It’s another lie. My husband, Jim, knows that too well. He was surrounded by the U.S. Secret Service, the best-trained professionals in the world, when he was shot in the head.”

Wise words from a wise woman.


John L. Waid

Remember, the Brady Center is rabid anti-gun. They work backwards from their theories instead of forward from facts..

In point of fact, according to the CDC, guns result in the fewest deaths of any kind of weapon. What is the highest ? Baseball bats. The Brady Center also includes in its figures suicides and accidents.The murder rate in the US is also lower than every country with tight gun control laws.

What happened to James Brady is a perfect illustration of the fallacy of gun control. Laws are for the law-abiding. They do not protect us from people who choose to disobey the law. Remember, President Clinton enacted an assault-weapons ban. That ban had no effect on the murder rate.

NRA safety training programs have reduced the deaths of children from accidental discharge of firearms from 1 in 100,000 people at the beginning of the last century (when they started keeping records), to about 1 in 1,000,000 today. Nobody knows the danger of guns in the hands of the untrained than gun owners.

Tom Sullivan


With all due respect and my apologies to CAPT Kirk, “…like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target” (Wrath of Khan). No pun intended. (and with my apologies to the other readers here for the long post)

First – You cite a lot of statistics, most of which are only sub-elements of the 100,000 person statistic (32 people a day; 20,000 American children and teens; 270 {it’s actually closer to 274} people, of which 47 are children and teens. Why not take it down to the hour or minute (11.42 and .2 respectively)? In other words, several of the facts you cite don’t really add anything to the discussion.

Second – Did you look at the list of mass shootings since Jan 2011? Most don’t discuss what weapon was used; many don’t talk about the background of the perp; several acknowledge that the shooting was related to gang violence; of those that mention the perp’s background, several mention they were convicts and therefore unable to legally obtain or own a firearm; I could go on. How or why exactly is limiting my access to a particular type of weapon going to affect anything but my access?

Third – the facts you list only discuss the illegal use of a firearm in the commission of other illegal activities but make no mention of the legal use of firearms in the defense of an innocent person’s life. These are the “radical” facts you are so conveniently choosing to ignore. According to Gary Kleck, those legal, defensive uses could number into the millions (“…each year in the U.S. there are about 2.2 to 2.5 million DGUs (Defensive Gun Use) of all types by civilians against humans, with about 1.5 to 1.9 million of the incidents involving use of handguns.” http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/kleckandgertz1.htm). This though is the evil of stats…confirmation bias. You said in another comment that if even one child’s life was saved through the restrictions you support that would be good enough for you. Well, if your ideas are adopted and a single child’s life is lost as a result of obstacles to ownership, will that be good enough for you?

Fourth – calling murder, “gun murder” (not your words I know) is unnecessarily inflammatory and adds nothing to the discussion. Murder is murder is murder, whether the perp uses a bat, a car, or an AR-15. Any discussion needs to stay away from this type of language if it hopes to be productive.

Fifth – all stats prove that gun ownership, in both number of unique owners and number of weapons is on the rise, and has been almost since Clinton’s first term. If guns really were the problem, why have we also seen over that same time frame an overall decrease in violent crime in this country…even including crimes where the perp used a gun? I am very emphatically NOT drawing a causation argument here (although I personally believe there is one to be made), I’m only drawing your attention to the factual, inverse relationship this country has witnessed between guns and crime.

Sixth – Thank you for defining sensible for me: “Having, using, or showing good sense or sound judgment.” Given my points above and the fact you still haven’t linked your argument or stats to how they would prevent or mitigate future mass shootings; how does that show good sense or sound judgment?

You continually state that you don’t seek restrictions on all guns or to deny the law abiding and responsible the ability to carry a weapon concealed. What you are failing to realize or admit is that when the policies you support fail to attain their intended goal, other weapons and our ability to possess/carry them will be next. This “slippery slope” argument is no different than your “Tomorrow will it be military-style “flame throwers” or grenades or shoulder fired missiles?” argument, so I wouldn’t be too quick to write it off.

David B. Grinberg

Per John’s comments, let’s also remember that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is rabidly pro-gun. The NRA is scheduled to hold a major press conference Friday after a week of unusual relative silence in the wake of the Newtown killing spree.

It reminds me of that saying: when you’re in a hole, stop digging. Well, apparently the NRA has plans to dig deeper regardless of popular opinion and the will of so many Americans. The NRA will likely come out in full force tomorrow, rhetorically speaking, to demonize all gun laws and related gun control proposals.

I do agree, as John points out, that the NRA performs a valuable public service by training citizens to use the guns they already own in a responsible, safe and secure manner. If the NRA had any good PR sense gun safety would be their mantra. But expect to hear less about gun safety and more tough talk to appease gun owners and intimidate members of Congress.

Nonetheless, America’s increasingly deadly love affair with guns — specifically assault weapons — needs to be brought under control. Yes, gun control – not gun abolition. Don’t let the NRA brainwash you into equating one with the other.

Why do these mass gun-related massacres continue to occur with increasing frequency in one of the world’s most advanced industrialized nations? Is it possible the answer is because the NRA and its cohorts have paid off enough politicians to allow it?

The NRA buys (or rents) member of Congress via large campaign contributions, grassroots political support, and other methods of coercion. In essence, the NRA owns a good portion of the U.S. Congress — and everybody knows it.

Our nation’s lawmakers are supposed to look out for the best interests of America, not just their own political self-interest in being reelected at whatever cost (figuratively and literally). Considering this, is it really in our country’s best national interest to allow anyone and everyone to stock up with the most lethal weaponry — the types of assault weapons used for the sole purpose of killing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible?

One way to help solve this persistent problem is by voting politicians out of office who support outrageous and unjustified gun policies allowing for easy access to military-style assault weapons. Such weapons are outlawed in most civil democratic societies, and for good reason.


David B. Grinberg

Thanks again to you and the other GovLoopers who have engaged in this important and contentious debate – which is a healthy byproduct of free speech in the world’s greatest democracy.
While I agree to disagree on many points, I still admire the tenaciousness and conviction of everyone who took aim at gun control and banning military-style assault weapons. Passionate people can argue for and against a range of vantage points and stats ad nauseam. However, you’ve all had your target practice, so to speak, and arguably poked some holes in the gun control arguments (at least in your opinions).
Now that it’s clear what you are against, can you take the flip side and explain what you are for?
Do you favor abolishing all gun control laws, even those already on the books?
(other than restrictions for kids and people who suffer from mental illness, etc.)
Which laws would you keep and which would you abolish?
Is any form of gun control reasonable under the Second Amendment?
Would you and others support a federal mandate that every adult citizen undergo basic or advanced certified gun training — including for concealed weapons — for safety and security purposes?
Should citizens be required to have certified gun training as a condition of receiving their driver’s license or voter ID card, for example, in order to compel such action?
Do you favor the “Stand Your Ground” law being applied nationwide?
Please flesh out what you are for, as you deem appropriate, since it’s clear what you and other pro-gun advocates are against. Thanks for considering this, as well as for adding your valuable perspective to this important national discussion.

John L. Waid

What am I for? Reasonable question.

Abolish all gun laws that do little more than make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to protect hemselves. For example, I can justify a ten-day cooling off period for the first weapon. The next one, however, has no justification. If someone is going to commit a crme of passion, they will do it with the first weapon they got.

Re: “reasonable restrictions.” The Second Amendment is very clear. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed. You don’t get much plainer than that. Besides, who gets to determne what “reasonable” is? “Reasonable” is one of those standards that is easy to say but very difficult to apply in a given situation. Courts have spent reams of paper trying to explain the “reasonable man” standard.

Re training mandate. There already is such a law. The untrained are more of a danger to themselves than others.

Allen Sheaprd

What am I for? (once again with passion)

1) Inclusion and volunteering. Bear with me for a second please. Working with folks with above average needs shows they are just like everyone else. They enjoy socializing and doing things. Here I hope future shooters are recognized and helped.

Volunteering? So far Boy Scouts, Red Cross blood drives, parades, little or public theater, habbitat for humanity, etc have been a cheap and effective ways to bring people together, have fun and transfer skills. No government involvement required. Just do it.

2) Gun clubs at school. Teach kids

a) Treat toys like the real thing never a real gun like a toy.

b) Hear gun fire? get down and tell an adult or call 9-1-1 This is a lesson for adults as well.

c) Guns never solve problems.

d) Be like a cop – carry one for ten years or more and never have to draw it.

e) I wish this was on the driver’s ed test- *IF* you have a something that looks like a gun or riffle in the car then roll down the window and put both hands on the window as the Cop walks up.

f) Guns do not make you cool.

g) *NEVER* ask a cop if you can see their gun because you have never seen one before. She was dead honest in the request but we all just took a step back.

h) More realistic toys teaching how to load and unload a gun with instructions to never leave a gun loaded. I bought my son an air soft pistol with an extended clip. He learned to keep the safety on, how to unload it and store it, shoot safely, look behind and to the sides of the target to be safe and not to play with it or he lost the use of the toy for a day.

i) No more “gangsta” culture & guns.

I’d like to recommend each parent go to a cub scout day camp where BB guns are taught. Many parents never owned one and it is a good start.

As for gun laws – one change.

1) Carry a firearm at a university.

I do not like guns where alcohol or spirits are served unless it is by the owner but I understand why that law was changed.

How is that?

Tom Sullivan

To understand what I am for, all you really need to know is that I am at heart a voluntaryist (http://www.voluntaryist.com/fundamentals/introduction.html). I also believe that even though there are infinite shades of grey in our world, when it comes to rights and the nature of rights, things are as black and white as they can possibly be. You can call them God-given rights, birth rights, or natural rights, but the reality is the same. Our rights stem from the fact we are human. They are not the product or purview of the Constitution or the government (as they predate both) and are therefore outside the power of either the Constitution or the government to control or infringe. This is the perspective I speak from on all issues but is particularly relevant when it comes to this one. (For a deeper and more nuanced examination of this relationship, I highly recommend Jeffrey Snyder’s book “A Nation of Cowards,” http://www.amazon.com/Nation-Cowards-Essays-Ethics-Control/dp/1888118083 – a reprint of the speech upon which the book is based is here: http://www.rkba.org/comment/cowards.html)

My belief, almost by definition shuns statistics in debates primarily due to their utilitarian nature. If “A” stat is better than “B” stat, then “A” is the right choice. So if fewer lives will be lost thru implementation of “gun control” than can be saved thru “gun liberalization,” utilitarianism demands option control. This utilitarian argument also demands sacrifice though. Those that lose lives under the control option have no choice because they basically fall within a minority. Some call this democracy; I call it mob rule and a form of slavery.

Part and parcel with my voluntaryist views is the principle that freedom/liberty and responsibility are inseparable; you can’t have one without the other. You can not be held responsible for something you do not have the freedom to control; likewise if you have the freedom to do something you also have to take responsibility for the results (good or bad). These are indivisible functions which speak to drugs, prostitution, economics, business, and of course guns…among many other things. If I have a right to my life, then I have to have the requisite ability (responsibility) to protect and further that life in whatever way best suites me free of coercion or force.

So, what specifically do I believe/support? Well, as Henry David Thoreau put it: “…this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.”

– ANY governmental infringement upon a person’s ability to purchase, store, or lawfully use a firearm is out. No licensure, registrations, waiting periods or mandatory anything.

– Justice is, almost by definition an after-the-fact function. Let’s start treating it that way. Your right to swing your fist stops at my face; but until such contact takes place there is nothing I can rightfully, ethically, or morally do.

– Should that contact take place the proper place for resolution/restitution are the courts. That’s justice and it properly holds the perpetrator responsible for his/her action(s). My next of kin hold the right to seek this resolution/restitution should I not survive such an act. Should the perpetrator kill him/herself there may be family/friends that helped or otherwise have liability, but if not, as cold as it sounds, that’s what I call life. No one ever promised me life would be free of risk, insult, injury, or death…deal with it.

– Organizations such as the NRA (for whom I hold no love except for their Eddie Eagle™ and other safety programs…their ILA is a joke that would be funny if not so powerful) could and should institute requirements for membership that involve the aforementioned licensure and mandatory training. Take the lead and prove they have the safety of people foremost in their minds by requiring training and even insurance.

– Speaking of insurance – insurance companies can and should (as long as these efforts are not backed by the threat of government sanction) require certain levels of coverage for those that own firearms. Discounts would be available based on memberships to organizations such as the NRA (as envisioned here), levels of training, storage, etc., just as they adjust rates based on what a person drives. Don’t admit to owning a firearm, no payout for you…

These last two points are fully consistent with my voluntaryist views because they are based on freedom of association. I don’t have to join the NRA or admit to my insurance company that I own firearms; but those choices would have costs that I would be responsible for bearing. Whereas when the government requires a license, training, or ID, I’m not only stuck with no options but could face fines and jail time for the “crime” of not dotting those i’s.

Hope this sheds some more light on my “…tenaciousness and conviction.” Thanks for the opportunity David.

David B. Grinberg

Thanks very much, Tom, for sharing your interesting and enlightening views. The statement that really caught my attention is:
“Our rights stem from the fact we are human. They are not the product or purview of the Constitution or the government (as they predate both) and are therefore outside the power of either the Constitution or the government to control or infringe.”
That’s certainly a profoundly unique perspective and something for everyone to ponder. Thanks again for your valuable contributions to this discussion.

John L. Waid

Interesting observation, Tom. I sort of agree with man y of your points.

The Declaration of Independence says that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is not guaranteed, although many of our politicans like to say that they are.

Rights that come from the Creater cannot be taken away by men. Rights that come from men can.

Once we get to requiring insurance or something else, we are in the realm of govenrment control, whether it comes from a voluntary organization or the actual government. The trouble with full voluntariness is that it equals anarchy. No control; everything is voluntary, not just the parts we like.

We are born into the USA. As ctitizens, we automatically acquire certain rights and responsibilities when we come out of the chute. That latter part has been de-emphasized by Congress and the courts over the last 40 years, which is one factor that got us into the mess we are in now. Dangling participles probably don’t help, either.

You are quite correct that “justice” is an after-the-fact matter. The founding fathers believed in prevention, hence the Second Amendment. The courts have stripped the ability of the police to prevent crime and now the government wants to strip us of our ability to protect ourselves.

Tom Sullivan


You make an important point that the Declaration guarantees a right only to pursue happiness, not attain it. I’m not sure when we as a society became confused on that point, but confused we are. That might be why David thinks it is a unique perspective as we just don’t hear it espoused too often these days. Those that do mention it are thought of as radicals and generally ignored. Who honestly thinks any of the founders could be elected to the Presidency today? Seeing as they were traitors to their government, they would just as likely be imprisoned as respected.

I don’t like being nit-picky, but rights are what are endowed to us by our Creator; privileges are what humans confer to humans, and can therefore be taken away on a whim. This is another point we as a society seem to be confused about these days. Far too many people seem to conflate these two principles and are too quick to throw-up their hands in resignation when the government comes-a-callin’. We don’t have constitutional rights…we have rights, period…some of which happen to be expressly protected from government infringement by the constitution. Might seem like a semantic argument, but for me it is a very important distinction.

I guess I wasn’t very clear on my insurance point, but that would still be a voluntary initiative. No government mandate like auto insurance. I think the threat of liability and retailors that would eventually refuse to sell firearms to those that were uninsured would give the initiative the teeth it needed. No government involvement necessary. And as far as voluntaryism and anarchy are concerned: We are all involved in myriad anarchistic interactions everyday. Treating people with respect; saying “Good Morning” or “How are you;” how we run our households and treat our family members and friends; the parties we throw for holidays, football games, or graduations; saying “Thank you” to cashiers or wait staff, the list goes on. Anarchy is not something to be afraid or ashamed of. It only means a lack of government oversight. And voluntaryism does not prohibit the establishment of governmental bodies. It only mandates that those falling under the rule of those bodies do so voluntarily. A benefit no group of people on this planet enjoy today…

Henry Brown

An interesting quote from The Jerusalem Post (Israel’s best selling English daily and most read English Website) which I believe has at least some relevance to this subject and the related blog
Should U.S. Schools Have A Police Presence? The NRA says Yes …

Aside from Israel’s strict gun laws, reasons for the lack of mass shootings can be attributed to the country’s closely knit family structure, small size and intimacy and informality between strangers or the universal health care which makes mental health services available for all.

At least in MY opinion, will make it difficult, without a great deal of effort and commitment, to insure that mass shootings ANYWHERE in the US will be dramatically limited…

Henry Brown

Was reading a geekish blog The Wet Machine and one of the bloggers offered up a partial solution which I would think that PERHAPS maybe the possibility might exist that it could at least be included in the discussion…

“Lets require insurance be bought for the purchase of guns”.

Now my thoughts…

Would offer that weapons being used strictly for hunting would have a lower insurance rate than those that were used in Newtown and Aurora. Suspect that it doesn’t have to be a terribly high rate, although would offer that the insurance companies would want a rate that insured them a reasonable profit.

No not all people would buy insurance, just like though it is the law not to drive without insurance there are people driving without insurance.

John L. Waid


Confused we certainly are. For example, a long-term debate in the various state judiciaries is whether or not a driver’s license is a privilege or a right. Now, it seems obvious to me there is no God-given right to drive, but many people argue the opposite. The Supreme Court may have invented a so-called right to transportation, but they certainly have never said that such “right” has to be carried out in a certain way. THe more things they convert to “rights,” the more power they can exercise over us.


In our thoughts at this time, let’s give special consideration to those people whose initiatives and invetiveness c reated this wonderful system we call thje Internet that allows people from various parts of the country to have a conversation like this. Especially Tim Berners-Lee, whose development of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) in 1994 allows us to link to other sites and created the World-Wide Web.

Merry Christmas everyone. Perhaps the only real solution to problems like this is the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. there’s new new mail string idea: how many thousands of laws have been passed just to enforce the Ten Commandments?

David Dean

Henry Brown, why should I have to buy insurance to engage in a constitutional 2nd Amendment right? Do you have insurance to exercise your 1st Amendment right? Over eating kills, do you have overeating insurance. The list goes on. Driving is not a constitutional right, carrying a firearm to defend me and mine is a constitutional right.

Ramona Winkelbauer

I think it would help if you realized that coverage of these incidents is “loaded”: http://reason.com/archives/2000/06/01/loaded-coverage/print I.e., if you recognize the name Joel Myrick in the same breath as Luke Woodham, it’s not due to the coverage of the incidents by the mass media.

Finally, as I am not a firearms instructor, nor do I play one on TV, let’s listen to the *informed* opinions of a former firearms instructor on the debate instead of posting pictures of NYT’s front page: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

David Dean

Post names of CWP holders gives criminals notice of who not to attempt to rob. Why notify the criminal element that it is unsafe for them to break in to a particular house or business. Let the criminals be surprised.

Tom Sullivan

The media are (ostensibly) private entities and can basically do anything they want; right or wrong; ethical or not. It’s the existence of these types of databases that is to be demonized IMHO. Remember, it wasn’t Hitler that created the registration database that he later used to identify Jewish gun owners and confiscate their guns (http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/GCA_68.htm) (http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/article-nazilaw.pdf). We all know what happened after that. It’s not the goal of the database/registration implementer that we necessarily have to fear, but the intention of his or her successor.

Truly free people don’t have to ask permission to exercise their rights.

David Dean

Tom what is chilling Hitler was a duly elected public official. He began to rule by decree, the the courts and the legislative branch did nothing. He began huge public works projects (under the Wiemar Republic) the Mark was worthless. The Autobahan (shovel ready) is a prime example. The horrible concrete are another example. buildings He put people to work, not producing but working for the government. He encouraged family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to report on each other.He singleed out people and put them outside of the law. Take a look around yourself today. What do you see?

David B. Grinberg

Interesting infographic on how pro-gun and anti-gun lobbying group spend money, how muchm and who funds them — from the Guardian (UK):

Gun rights v gun control: how each group spends its money – interactive
“The Newtown shootings have thrust the contentious issue of gun control into the political spotlight once again. We compare how much money was spent by America’s gun lobby and by main gun control groups in 2011 and 2012…” (click on infographic above)


Peter Sperry

David – The Guardian infographic seems to indicate responsible gun owners have a much broader, deeper and more committed base of support than irresponsible gun grabbers. They apparently not only have more people willing to put there money where there mouth is; but also willing to write larger checks to causes which they support. It is reassuring to see average Americans able to pool their collective resources to obtain a voice in an important public policy debate. Thankfully the First Amendment allows distant individuals from all walks of live and distant corners of the country to incorporate and thereby speak with unified voices which are more difficult to ignore than if they were limited to only taking political action as individuals. I believe there was a recent Supreme Court case which upheld that right. So apparently both the First and Second Amendments continue to be well supported by large numbers of average citizens. Thankyou for the reassuring post.

David B. Grinberg

As always, thanks for your astute analysis, Peter.

As I pointed out in a follow up post, What the NRA Should Have Said (open letter to Wayne LaPierre):

“You should have reiterated that just as the the protesters have the basic right to free speech, every American likewise has the basic right to keep and bear arms — with minimal restrictions, similar to freedom of speech. Why did you fail to draw this critical nexus between the First and Second Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights? You could have used that segway to diplomatically further articulate the NRA’s long-held position about how and why the U.S. Constitution provides the citizenry with unrestricted gun rights (in your view). You could have cited Supreme Court precedent on the issue and other supporting facts.”

I think this advice could have helped the NRA with PR firepower (or lack thereof).


Bonnie Bormann

You might be able to find a native store in your space to do it.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, as just one example, there are a chain of stores called Cell Kangaroo that repair iPhone screens.

Beverly Alvarado

Some might argue that taking your iPhone to an unauthorized restore
middle is placing your self in danger as effectively.