Obama Declares Pot Enforcement Will Not Be Priority In Legalization States While Justice Department States There Will Be No Change In Federal Enforcement

marijuana_leafPresObamaAs we discussed earlier, the Justice Department issued a statement after the passage of state laws legalizing marijuana that they would not affected federal enforcement. Obama officials also stated after the election (after being silent during the campaign) that marijuana policy would not change. Now, President Obama has given an interview that the federal government will not make enforcement a “priority” against recreational users. This is being billed as a major scope on “Obama’s pot problem.” However, there may be less than meets the eye here. He does not address the organizations and distributors of legal marijuana, which his Administration has cracked down on for the last four years. It also raises an interesting contradiction with other fields where Obama had insisted that matters are left to the Justice Department on questions of enforcement.

Obama told ABC “We’ve got bigger fish to fry . . . It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.” His use of “recreational users” is telling. The state police generally goes after recreational users. The controversy for the last four years has been the Administration’s crackdown on distributors and growers who supply legal marijuana for medical use etc.

The statement also contradicts the statements of officials in the Administration. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle (the highest Justice official in the state) issued a public warning after the election that “[r]egardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. … Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress.”

As I noted earlier that the Justice Department statement is a curious statement since the Obama Administration recently did precisely that in the immigration area — it declared that it would no longer enforce the express law with regard to certain illegal aliens. It also refused to defend such laws as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Moreover, the Justice Department routinely makes decisions on the allocation of resources and priorities. Likewise, soon after taking office, Obama notoriously went to the CIA and assured CIA employees that they would not be prosecuted for torture, even though he admitted that water boarding used is torture. The President’s statement would reflect that he is going that route, but only for recreational users.

He remains uncertain, however, on how he can refuse to enforce this federal law despite his promise not to prosecute torture at the CIA or refusal to enforce immigration rules: “This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

He can clearly make marijuana enforcement a non-priority and I agree with that move. Yet, such statements on “users” avoids the primary question. Will he continue his controversial policy of cracking down on distributors and growers in these states?

Source: ABC

152 thoughts on “Obama Declares Pot Enforcement Will Not Be Priority In Legalization States While Justice Department States There Will Be No Change In Federal Enforcement

  1. When is a law not a law?

    When it is on the books but no one carries it out because some one might be offended.

    If it is legal, that’s fine. However, it is not and I’m against it. It is called breaking the law.

    Also, quick question. Wouldn’t federal law trump state law on the marijuana issue because it would fall under interstate commerce?

  2. There’s an interview Obama gave during the 2008 election to a local news station. This was prior to outright legalization by Co. and Wa. He said his Justice Dept. had “bigger fish to fry” than to go after medicinal marijuana. Maybe David Geffen was wrong in 2008 saying Hillary was an “accomplished liar”, Obama can go toe to toe w/ her and Bill.

  3. “Obama told Walters he does not – “at this point” – support widespread legalization of marijuana. But he cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug.

    “This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

    With 99 percent of federal laws this would be the case, but the Controlled Substance Act is fairly unique. The law explicitly gives the executive branch the right to change the legal status of any drug without Congressional involvement. If the administration, after examining the latest scientific research, determines that cannabis shouldn’t be Schedule I it has the power to move it to a lower schedule, which would make medical marijuana legal under federal law, or even unschedule it all together, which would effectively legalize it.

    Several sitting governors in states with medical marijuana have petitioned Obama asking him to reschedule marijuana, and currently the Obama administration is actually fighting an effort in federal court to get the executive branch to provide a legitimate review of marijuana. There is no reason Obama can’t simply stop fighting the case and reschedule marijuana without needing to involve Congress.

    Of course there are many political and regulator reasons why it would be better for Congress to adopted a new law tailored to address the issue, but the point is Obama isn’t helplessly constrained by federal law on this matter like he pretends to be. The federal law currently gives Obama incredibly wide latitude on this issue, including the ability to unilaterally change marijuana’s legal status.”

    From the Firedog Lake “Just Say Now’ campaign. Obama is waffling here. he has the power to reschedule marijuana- which would solve most of the problems. Why is he stalling? He has nothing to lose in his lame duck term. For a member of the ‘Choom Gang’, who was simply lucky he was not caught and charged with a crime, he is not doing the right thing for the nation.
    The AMA wants marijuana rescheduled so they can study cannabinoids. All this research is being done in England by start ups who could and should be working on this science in the US.

  4. As much as I am for legalizing marijuana?

    I’d trade it if he would tell Holder to get going on prosecuting those who ordered torture.

    Nothing will start to get better in this country until government officials are held accountable for their bad actions in and out of office. If you aren’t going to hold them accountable for torture? What’s the point of having laws at all because an inequitably enforced law enforced by Executive caprice is worse than no law at all.

    Congress needs to legalize marijuana at the Federal level. It’s physiologically less dangerous than both alcohol and tobacco and that is a scientific fact. By keeping it illegal, they are only providing elevated profits for criminal organizations and catering to Big Pharma (who doesn’t want the competition from a natural pain killer), Big Alcohol (who doesn’t want the cheaper, less damaging competition) and the MIC/Private Prison Cabal (who want to beat as many people into submission and jail them for profit no matter what reason they can fabricate).

    Congress also needs to get real and recognize that DOMA is merely an attempt to violate the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the 1st Amendment and the Right to Free Association. If both parties can give valid consent, they should be able to marry and get the benefits of that relationship as well as assume the responsibilities of that relationship. Man and woman? Woman and woman? Man and man? None of the government’s business. To keep insisting that the state has a valid interest in who gets married is the height of theocratic inspired injustice. These people don’t want special treatment. No special “gay tax loophole” or anything like that. They want the same thing heterosexual couples have – the rights, benefits and – yes – obligations attendant to being a partner in a committed relationship. That is the opposite of injustice and inequity. Give them what they want.

    More importantly, Congress needs to make sure that not one more administration passes before the ever expanding unitary Executive is halted and the security (theater) state is dismantled. The only thing missing after the Patriot Act and the NDAA to make us a complete military police state and a dictatorship is a President crazy enough to declare martial law and him/herself as “President for Life”.

    This whole selective law enforcement from the Feds is, quite frankly, really starting to piss me off. Give the people what they want: legal marijuana, accountability from the Federal government and justice for all. There will be no justice as long as torturers walk free and the President thinks he can kill American citizens without judicial due process. There will be no justice when the will of the people is ignored and some are treated like second class citizens for simply being who they are.

    Sorry. I guess the NyQuil really doesn’t mix well with the torture issue combined with the hypocrisy of the Federal government acting like a national government instead of a Federation. Graft, greed, stupidity, inequity and injustice always makes me cranky. That and the continual abuse of the Constitution by the Office of the President.

    Oh. Wait. No. I’m not sorry.

    I’m just pissed.

    Ya’ll have a nice day in Washington with your three martini corporate funded lunches and your dealing under the table and your War on Liberty and Freedom (TM)(C)(2012). And remember! When the general public – hungry, deprived, sick and trodden under your boots – decides that they’ve had enough of the Federal government’s bullshit and starts hanging pols from the cherry trees on the National Mall?

    I told you so.

    Everything that has a beginning has an end. You reap what you sow. Which is particularly apt considering the continued demonization of a naturally occurring substance that has been used by civilizations since the dawn of civilization as a versatile and cheap (practically free) product for making everything from bleach free paper to a building materials to food to medicine to a safe recreational chemical.

    This, of course, will likely not happen until long after the real damage to American society is done. Psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists usually have to learn the lesson that 99>1 the hard way. Ask Louis XVI and Czar Nicholas about that.

    Speaking of beginnings and endings, this is the end of my rant and the beginning of catharsis (albeit temporary).

    Everything is transitory.

  5. If you’ve ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you’ve ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or “drug paraphernalia” in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

    Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

    The banks’ laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC’s Mexican branches and “deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.”

    This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the “legitimate” banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank’s teller windows. Tony Montana’s henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional “American City Bank” in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain’s most storied financial institutions.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213#ixzz2F2zgaEp2
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

  6. The statement also contradicts the statements of officials in the Administration. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle (the highest Justice official in the state) issued a public warning after the election that “[r]egardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. … Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress.”

    I can take the terrible proofreading, but really, professor Turley should get the legal analysis correct. The statement quoted above is absolutely, factually correct. Pot remains illegal in Washington under federal law. This statement, however, does not contradict anything Obama said about prioritizing enforcement. A decision not to prioritize enforcement does not take the statute off the books. Likewise, a statement by the USDA does not say anything about whether or not the DA will bring prosecutions for violating the federal marijuana drug law. TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!

  7. Does Obama even know how to tell the truth anymore? Does he even believe that there is such a thing as truth? Or does he just believe, like everyone else, that its all talking points and spin – tell each group what they want to hear regardless of the real underlying facts your actual intent?

  8. “Also, quick question. Wouldn’t federal law trump state law on the marijuana issue because it would fall under interstate commerce?”

    It’s not really a matter of federal law trumping state law. It’s more like two different things. Previously, pot possession was illegal under two separate laws, one federal and one state. Now, in those states that legalized pot, it’s not illegal under state law, but still illegal under federal law. The state cannot nullify the federal drug law, but the state doesn’t have to use any of its law enforcement or courts to help the federal government prosecute any particular crime if they don’t want to.

    The fed has made a whole lot of things illegal and only has so much money and time to devote to prosecuting people who break those laws. So, it’s entirely legal and follows past precedent for the executive to tell the local US district attorneys which crimes they should be high priorities for enforcement and which crimes should be low priorities. Nothing Obama does or can do changes the federal law. But, it’s entirely proper for the Obama administration to tell the local DAs to make enforcement of pot laws low priorities, or even not to bring such actions.

  9. Oh sure, Obama can tell the locals whatever he wants, but that changes nothing for the people who are in jail right now for trying to comply with state marijuana laws.

    Here are a few Prisoners of the Drug War that Obama cannot justify. If he says it is a low priority, why are these people facing jail, loss of family, loss of all assets- a ruined life? For what? They harmed no one.

    It could have happened to Obama himself when he was young. He should simply reschedule marijuana- that is the only sensible thing to do. Talk is cheap. i do not see any hope & change here at all.


  10. This is just what at one point the defendants in the sister wives case had when the prosecutor said he would not enforce the law against them but instead the real situation was the defendants could at any time be arrested when the whim of the prosecutor or a successor changed. Washingtonians and those in Colorado are still in legal limbo .

    There is a simple fix for this situation that will work politically for President Obama. All he has to do is ask congress to amend the law so that Marijuana act is uninforceable in states where Weed is Legal and to keep the section that makes it illegal to transport wholesale Marijuana between states or import from outside the US. (WA Law requires the dope to be grown instate). The president could sell it by playing up State’s Rights issues which appeals to conservatives, people’s choice which plays to liberterians, and legalizing weed in both states that appeals to those on the left.

    He can then wash his hands of the issue and give Congress a face saving way out because congress can say “Well the president asked us so we complied. He took the first step”

  11. “It also refused to defend such laws as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).”

    True, but this discussion is about enforcement, and the federal government did not stop *enforcing* DOMA.

  12. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/13/senate-judiciary-chair-floats-federal-marijuana-legalization/

    “By Stephen C. Webster
    Thursday, December 13, 2012 13:43 EST

    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested to U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske in a letter released Thursday (PDF) that Congress may consider legalizing marijuana in the wake of Colorado and Washington voting in favor of regulating the drug similarly to alcohol.

    But, Leahy wrote in the letter, he wants to know where the administration stands on the laws before the committee takes up the question.

    “How does the Office of National Drug Control Policy intend to prioritize Federal resources, and what recommendations are you making to the Department of Justice and other federal agencies in light of the choice by citizens of Colorado and Washington to legalize personal use of small amounts of marijuana?” Leahy asked Kerlikowske. ”

    Leahy floats some legislation but it is the wrong legislation. He should simply request a change from Schedule 1 for marijuana and full legalization of industrial hemp as a food and industrial use crop.

    Those are the only two meaningful changes.

  13. Prosecutors make reasonable enforcement decisions every day. They determine that certain laws will or will not be enforced based on a wide range of reasons some of which include the impact of enforcement and the costs thereof. Some time they don’t enforce the laws because the criminals have stolen so much money they’ve purchased immunity like the bankers.
    In the case of states in which pot has been legalized the conflict between federal and state law would be a reasonable factor to consider. Prosecutorial discretion is a really old concept.

  14. Same dreadful deadlock in the UK. Do I have to keep reminding people this is the 21st Century? That unique chemicals in this plant have scientists all over the world wanting to study them? At least England has legalized industrial hemp, so they are ahead of the US in that regard.

    They are building ‘zero energy use’ houses out of hemp crete all over Ireland. These homes use zero energy for heating and cooling.

    PUBLISHED: 03:26 EST, 14 December 2012 | UPDATED: 11:45 EST, 14 December 2012

    David Cameron and Nick Clegg today clashed dramatically over calls to relax Britain’s drugs laws.
    In an explosive interview Mr Clegg claimed the government is losing the war against drugs ‘on an industrial scale’ and told Mr Cameron to ‘pluck up courage’ to set up a Royal Commission into decriminalising possession of some substances.
    But the Prime Minister is furious at the idea, remaining adamant that existing policy is working and there will be no change in the government’s approach.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2247946/Nick-Clegg-says-war-drugs-lost-industrial-scale.html#ixzz2F3Qv2kXx
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    the whole argument is old. The evidence is obvious that the war changes nothing and prohibition causes the worst aspects of any association with marijuana. It is not physically additive, in fact aspirin would be higher on a real scientific scale of harm.

  15. Justice Holmes, sure, depending on the prosecutor. You could get a hard core drug warrior.

    Should justice be a lottery?

  16. Gene rants so I don’t have too!!

    But anyway, once again citing my 30 years in the substance abuse counseling business, I long ago ran out of rants on marijuana policy from about every standpoint. There is no argument against legalizing /taxing/controlling it for adults that bears any credibility, truth, or absence of hypocrisy. Mr. self-righteous Obama needs to be slapped into reality; and get a new drug czar while he’s at it. The turkey (Obama) doesn’t even open him mouth on the obscene disgrace of incarcerations, particularly of color, for non-violent, marijuana related prosecutions.

  17. Yeah, and I understand Obama’s charade/dodge/smokescreen/excuse/patronization of being FIRST DAD, the moral conscience. , more accurately scold, of the nation and protector of Sacha, Malisha, or whatever their names are.

    And there are very few such postures that piss me off more. Mainly because when it comes to things like smoking people with drones, brushing torture prosecutions under the rug, dangling cuts to the safety net, and a host other issues with incredible moral implications, he’s shown squat leadership. So he hides behind this one with some misleading representation of the legal realities at his disposal.

    But our moralistic daddy is right there to slurp up the dregs of those who are ignorant but totally convinced that post is the devil’s weed.

  18. Quote of the Day: Obama’s Non-Answer Answer About Pot

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone should take this as meaningful. The federal government doesn’t “go after” recreational users right now, and no one thinks they’re going to start. But they do go after growers and distributors of pot, and Obama said nothing at all about that. This is basically a non-response and probably shouldn’t be taken as an indication of what federal policy is likely to be going forward.

  19. Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke
    By Matt Taibbi
    POSTED: December 13

    If you’ve ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you’ve ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or “drug paraphernalia” in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

    Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

    The banks’ laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC’s Mexican branches and “deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.”

    This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the “legitimate” banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank’s teller windows. Tony Montana’s henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional “American City Bank” in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain’s most storied financial institutions.

    Though this was not stated explicitly, the government’s rationale in not pursuing criminal prosecutions against the bank was apparently rooted in concerns that putting executives from a “systemically important institution” in jail for drug laundering would threaten the stability of the financial system. The New York Times put it this way:

    “Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.”

    It doesn’t take a genius to see that the reasoning here is beyond flawed. When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC’s Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn’t protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most “reputable” banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can’t be repeated often enough) murderersand terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department’s response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble – they took money to look the other way.

    And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap. You’ll hear bragging this week by the Obama administration that they wrested a record penalty from HSBC, but it’s a joke. Some of the penalties involved will literally make you laugh out loud. This is from Breuer’s announcement:

    “As a result of the government’s investigation, HSBC has . . . “clawed back” deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.”

    Taibbi, Spitzer Fume Over HSBC Settlement

  20. I do believe we are at the tipping point of future legalization of marijuana.
    That is my impression of the results of voting in Col. and Wash. The cannibus paste ain’t going back in the tube. It’s about time.

    Gene H. your lucid rant is painfully sane. IMO everything you mentioned is spot on logical and valid. The pain comes from so many people in politics unwilling or blind to bring your points to a national conversation.

  21. Gene H. – couldn’t agree more. Why are more people, especially those interested in justice and human rights, not upset about this – and the many other police state like actions – such as killing US citizens with drones on one man’s say so?

  22. @ Nal, I agree with your quote. At heart, I see Obama as a pragmatic politician. He’s always been cautious about possibly getting out too far ahead of public opinion on controversial issues. This quote seems like just another instance of that–basically saying nothing but maybe indicating a possible, gradual loosening of federal pot enforcement depending upon which ways the wind blows. I imagine any move we see from the Obama Administration will be gradual and mostly under the radar.

  23. Gene,

    “. . . Sorry. I guess the NyQuil really doesn’t mix well with the torture issue combined with the hypocrisy of the Federal government acting like a national government instead of a Federation. Graft, greed, stupidity, inequity and injustice always makes me cranky. That and the continual abuse of the Constitution by the Office of the President.

    Oh. Wait. No. I’m not sorry.

    I’m just pissed. . .”

    NyQui suits you well, nice post and on the money.

  24. There is nothing pragmatic about sacrificing justice for political expediency. Cowardly and spineless is not excuse for undermining the rule of law and the will of the People. Well. It’s an excuse. Just not a good one. Ultimately, such “pragmatic” behavior destroys the rule of law and democracy. A country of laws, not men. Liberty and justice for all. The right to be free of all political and economic tyranny. These are principles upon which this country was founded. They are not to be discarded in the name of pragmatism.

  25. And thank you all for the kind words. There is no higher service than the service of justice and equity. To quote the missing BIL, “One lives to be of service.”

  26. Speaking of “so many people in politics unwilling or blind to bring your points to a national conversation.: [from David B above] here’s a blurb from the KOS (we love everything Obama does or even thinks about doing) story:

    [from Walters interview]

    “There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid,” Obama told Walters. “My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.

    “I want to discourage drug use,” he added


    Could there be a more sloppy, uniformed, throwaway line?

    Specifically, conflating the issue simply with “substance abuse” among kids is misleading, inaccurate, and dilatory. Implying that removing the legal stigma from adult use will create more of an attraction for kids shows he knows little about the psychology of kids. Stating the issue as one of “substance abuse” takes one down the garden path of finding “abuse” as the result of all substance “use” (and, incidentally stigmatizing even innocent, potential one time experimental adolescent use with a label) — of which I’ve seen many cases.. Without trying to make a case for “harmless” [though illegal] use of pot among kids, failing to acknowledge the different dimensions along the spectrum of substance use through addiction, and particularly the variant issues between kids and adults — even with the merest nod — renders his performance shallow.

    If Obama chooses to acts like the doting daddy over the welfare of the nation’s children, he needs to do so in an honest way that acknowledges stark realities, and differences between adolescent use and responsible adult use. But he won’t touch that hot potato. Why? Because decrying pot use among kids is safe, but wading into adult use in an adult way is oooh so risky for Mr. bipartisan?

    And, very specifically, when it comes to kids, alcohol remains the predominant drug negatively influencing their behavior. And what about them apples? Kid’s ain’t stupid.

  27. We started questioning the federal government’s position that marijuana has no a proven medical use when we learned that the US government hold a patents on patent on certain medical products derived from cannabinoids.

    Living in California, We immediately asked Feinstein about this and she got back with the government line; Pelosi has shown concern over the Justice Department’s actions; and Boxer has not responded.

    it is time for the federal government to start to worrying about other crimes, such as the LIBOR swindle.

  28. My sister used to teach the DARE program in Denver. She said that the lies in that program about marijuana made the kids skeptical about everything else she was offering.

    She describes kids as having the very best bu11sht meters. When you lie to kids they don’t believe anything else you say.

    That is the kind of propaganda the government has been using to try and brainwash kids- and everyone else- it has not worked, will never work.

  29. The prescription drug abuse kills more & more people every year. Marijuana is non toxic.

    One would think the priorities are misplaced as to really dangerous drugs.

  30. Obama is worse than most other right-wingers. You know, the ones that like to threaten to privatize everything, but then “admit” there might be problems with some aspects of such a move —thereby scaring the bejesus out of a large number of people.

    Attn: GOPers interested in 2016. Call for the legalization of freedom, and back that up with proposed legislation. Force the O wimp – Hillary, and all the rest to take a stand.

    Hope you NPRers are still glad you voted for him.

  31. Many of the approaches to teaching kids about drugs and their effects are the in the vein of trying to dissuade adult abusers or addicts by cataloging the potential negative health effects.

    Doesn’t work with adults and not so much with kids either. And fact is, the vast majority of negative consequences of use-abuse-addicition are unrelated to health, at least the dire health risks that are warned of.

  32. “Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, pushed back against the idea that the event is a vigil. Instead, according to Everitt, it’s about pressuring Barack Obama to take action on the issue.

    “If you can’t speak out about the need for tough gun laws after a classroom of kindergartners are massacred, then you ain’t got it in ya,” Everitt says.” Daily Kos

  33. “If laws controlled guns the way the NRA controls politicians, the US would be the safest country in the world.” Andy Borowitz

  34. continuing OT for the moment, on the massacre:

    No one should be able to understand this tragedy and what needs to be done on the gun control front better than Obama, with two young dayghters.

    If he had an understanding and a commitment to the issue, he would be out in front AS WE SPEAK with strong definite challenges to take Federal action NOW

    That he isn’t may speak to his lack of commitment to0 gun control and/or his tentative, perhaps cowardly nature.

  35. One thing you are neglecting here in talking about the school shooting is a rudimentary examination of what kind of killer this guy appears to be and what he had for armaments. First, he fits the classic model of a spree killer. Someone who is fine until, well, they aren’t. A stressor sets them in motion and you can’t control all the stressors in the world much less people’s individual reactions to them. Apparently getting fired with this guy’s tipping point. Secondly, nothing I’ve read indicates that he had anything other than legally available firearms or that they were obtained illegally (this is subject to change upon new evidence however). He had a Sig Saur, a Glock (probably both 9mm) and .223 hunting rifle. Not outrageous military or para-military weaponry. Many people use the Sig and Glock for self-defense and a .223 is a very common hunting rifle. There’s not even evidence yet as if he used extended magazines or not and as OS has demonstrated on several occasions, that’s less a real issue than a media issue because extended magazines tend to jam and expert shooters can out perform an extended magazine with practice.

    No amount of regulation would have stopped this guy short of repealing the 2nd Amendment. Period. This doesn’t make a good case to argue for gun control. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s horrible that it happened to kids. I know you want to do something. However, simply make sure you’re doing the right thing.

    It makes a great case for publicly available quality mental health care though. That is the only thing that could have provided a warning and a chance to stop this horrific episode. Early detection of pathology and early intervention are the only thing that would have avoided this.

    I know you’ll want to apply emotion over reason.

    Once again, that is going to give you the wrong answer to fixing what went wrong here. It wasn’t the guns. It was a broken and (I think) evil person. If he hadn’t had access to guns, he still could have done this or worse simply by setting the building on fire.

    Fix the cause. To fix the cause, you must first identify the cause. The cause in this instance appears to be a spree killer. He’d have certainly used some other method if he hadn’t had access to guns.

    Now all you emotional thinkers feel free to tell me what a b@stard I am.

    In the end, the logic is irrefutable.

  36. “Here’s strict constitutionalism for you: you can own and bear any gun that existed in 1787. ” David Corn @ Mother Jones.

  37. Gene, you’re right in many respects. My anger about lack of effective gun control — and I would have more than less — comes on top of and secondary to you point about identification and treatment via adequate mental heal detection and services early on. I was directly involved in the followup of aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings. I know where lack of adequate systems and services leads.

  38. This is an issue I am confronted with on almost a daily basis. Untreated mental health issues are one of the prime reasons for violent behavior in our society. The mental health system is broken. We now have a corporate mental health center system, and if a paranoid schizophrenic can even get admitted to a psychiatric hospital for homicidal/suicidal thoughts, they are unlikely to stay for more than three to five days. They get pills, not therapy, and are sent home, where they quit taking the pills.

    I have seen every imaginable weapon used in murders. One of the two messiest ones were when a psychotic young man beat his father to death with a cast iron patio chair. The other was when two guys got into an argument in a pool hall and one of them took the pool cue by the small end and hit the other one in the head with the big end, after taking a full swing like a golf club.

    This is a truly serious mental health issue, and instead of arguing about the weapons used let’s address the root cause: the dysfunctional mental health system in this country.

    People do not just “snap” one day and decide to go on a killing spree. The Columbine killers planned their massacre for more than a year, just as an example. It is damn near impossible to get an appointment with a psychiatrist unless you have insurance. Same with psychologists. And mental health is the red-headed stepchild of the insurance industry. For the longest time, they would only pay at 50% what they reimbursed other health care, and that was only after a 20% deductible. Then managed care determined that any mental health problem could be fixed in six visits, and limited the patient to six visits a year. Now, the insurance panels are limiting the number of providers in a given area. “There are too many psychologists, so we will not approve you on our coverage panel.”

    I had a discussion with a clinical psychologist this afternoon. She is an Army vet and knows more about PTSD than any adult has a right to know. She observed that blaming guns for what happened today is like blaming the pencil when you fail the math test.

  39. Gene, we keep hearing that if guns were not available other means would be used, the built in presumption being that the same level of lethality would result. Here’s what happened in China today with a knife:

    Man stabs 22 children at China primary school

    “A man stabbed 22 primary school students in a knife attack in China on Friday, officials said, the latest in a series of assaults.

    The attacker “has been detained”, said a spokesman for the Guangshan county government in the central province of Henan, where the stabbing happened.

    “Twenty-two elementary school students were stabbed, so was an adult villager” but none of the victims died, the official, who declined to give his name, told AFP.”


  40. “Accusing people of “politicizing” tragedy is a gun lobby ploy to keep us from acting against gun massacres. Don’t fall for it. Act. ” Roger Simon

  41. I’m with OS on this. It’s true that guns are much too easy to get but most of the horrific incidents are due to mental health issues of the shooter or to the meds they are taking.

  42. . . . and it’s just incidental the number of gun-related killings? I don’t think OS said a word about gun control, so there is really no juxtaposition with more adequate mental health,

    I don’t think this is a matter of either/or? Gun control or mental health services.

    It’s both, and . . .

    And btw, of course, mass killings are only one species of gun violence, but they get our attention.

    And adequate mental health services need not, and should not be used as a foil to avoid the separate issue of gun control. But it is.

  43. Yes. Act based on emotion and not reason and get another Patriot Act – brought to by Fear in conjunction with Panic and co-sponsored by Bad Causal Analysis.

    And what OS said.

    You complain about your rights being eroded . . . unless it’s a right you don’t like.

    They’ve got a word for that. Starts with “h”. I’m a liberal for reasonable gun control and maintaining the 2nd Amendment. Why? Because some defense against tyranny is better than none. I’m not for pissing on the Constitution because you don’t like part of it. That’s what Bush and Obama did and do. The Constitution is not a salad bar. You don’t pick and choose. You order the whole entree. If you think you can muster consensus to repeal the 2nd Amendment? Be my guest to try. You’ll find a lot more people like me than not in their opinion of firearms. You won’t even come close to the votes for amendment even without the NRA in the picture. Unless, of course, you want the 2nd stripped by Executive fiat.

    The China comparison is facile logic. Just because a crazy person in China wasn’t smart enough to use a knife efficiently is merely good luck for the victims, but his choice of weapon was not causal in the comparative lack of deaths. If he’d been slashing throats or aiming for their hearts or liver or stabbing femoral and/or brachial arteries like a trained knife fighter, he’d have killed everyone he aimed for. I know guys, mostly ex-military, who could kill twice as many with a knife in the same time as this guy did with a gun. I know swordsmen (and women) who could kill everyone they came into contact with. I know people that if they went nuts could kill 20 people with their bare hands before you could stop them.

    Sun Tzu once said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” The enemy is killers, not their tools. The Great General also said, “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” In this case, proper free mental health care to drive the enemy across the bridge into harmlessness.

    It’s not the weapon that is relevant.

    It’s identifying the potential killer and intervening before they have a chance to act on their impulses.

    That’s not just how you stop gun violence.

    That’s how you stop violence period.

  44. The Constitution does mention a WELL REGULATED militia.

    Does someone shooting up a school or a theatre on a killing spree look like a well regulated anything?

  45. reasonable gun control. I don’t think we are anywhere near 2nd amendment territory. Not even the camel’s nose under the tent which is another scare tactic, I’m afraid. For the record, I don’t think having a gun is going to be the means to prevent the continuing erosion of our democracy..

    I’ve got a couple of guns. I don’t feel safer from the those forces, except maybe to shoot myself if it get’s bad enough😉

    Responding to Gene’s point about making legislation under the influence of emotion, pretty much I agree. For example, the scurrilous Patriot Act as cited. But then you look at the Voting Right’s Act of 1964; not likely it get’s passed without the emotion behind the JFK assassination, so that’s not so clear. My point would be that I don’t feel particularly emotional about gun control. I think progressing to reasonable gun control is an eminently logical thing. But I freely admit that it is possible (even inevitable) that agendas get moved by the manipulation of [what appears to be] emotion.

    As far as the mental health system stopping potential massacre killers, that’s not how it works, although in the usual magic bullet thinking, that’s the way Monday morning quarterbacks would like it to work. It’s about having a robust enough MH system to provide adequate services for individuals with emotional problems and needs long before any aberrant trajectory is identified. But, you know, no one wants to pay for that kind of system. They only want MH services on a kind of “just in time” basis.

  46. DonS,

    Don’t get me wrong. What I say about MH is not a silver bullet solution (although I can see where you might have gotten that by how I framed what I said). In implementation it would exactly as you say and even then, some would get through the system to commit horrible crimes simply as a statistical matter. You can’t legislate a perfectly safe world. Chaos prevents it as a matter of mathematics. However; ” But, you know, no one wants to pay for that kind of system.”

    I do.

    And an analogous public medical care system as well that covered preventative medicine as well as remedial and palliative care.

  47. DonS wrote:
    “But, you know, no one wants to pay for that kind of system. They only want MH services on a kind of “just in time” basis.”


    Yup, that is the elephant in the room that no one is willing to acknowledge. It costs money to provide effective mental health care. Six visits a year limit is not going to do the trick. Mental health care needs to be either free or nearly free, easily accessible and plenty of inpatient care for those who need it.

    Unfortunately, that is not going to happen in our lifetimes. It is far too easy to blame the tool rather than the carpenter.

  48. Great, points of agreement on the mental health quagmire.

    While a really well functioning MH system might seem a luxury to some, I think there are studies showing it’s cost effectiveness, certainly when compared with the aggregate cost of several of the inadequate alternatives, e.g., homelessness; waste of human potential and loss of productive capacity; incarceration in jails and prisons; multigenerational syndromes. And it goes on.

  49. The Aurora shooter sent letters and his journal outlining his plan to a psychiatrist at his school. This person was on vacation and did not see them until after the shooting, unfortunately. I do not know how anyone could live with that missed connection as a professional.

  50. Gene,
    The choice of weapon does matter. When someone who may have had mental health issues is able to get guns of this magnitude, it endangers everyone that comes into his path. Knives and swords are no equivalent or anywhere near as dangerous as a semi-automatic weapon. Reasonable gun control is not only needed, and allowed by Supreme Court decisions,it must be discussed now. After which mass shooting are we allowed to discuss reasonable gun restrictions? After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after NIU, after Gabby Giffords and now after 20 angels have paid the price of a society so in love with the idea of owning a gun that they refuse to discuss rational and reasonable restrictions to limit the ability of people who are mentally ill to get any gun. Reasonable restrictions to limit the kinds of semi-automatic weapons that civilians can get access to, not to mention the high capacity magazines. These weapons are not designed to hunt with. They are based on military designs and are designed to kill people. OS and others are correct that we need better mental health care and we must pay for it. However, we also must have better restrictions on who has a gun and what type of gun that they have.
    I have to respectfully disagree. It does matter what type of weapon is used along with preventing the wrong people from having access to it.

    You can protect the 2nd Amendment while at the same time agreeing to basic common sense restrictions. But we will never prevent another massacre like this one unless we start now. By the way, can you lend me some of your Nyquil? I could use something to soothe the savage beast within!

  51. The Colorado shooter was under psychiatric care, but merely seeing a psychiatrist, even for a serious case of mental illness, would not trigger any of the safeguards for gun purchases, which are governed by federal law, said Daniel Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “There are no federal restrictions on the purchase of firearms for the mentally ill unless the person has been adjudicated by a court as being dangerously mentally ill,” he said.

  52. raff, information leaked as of just a little while ago indicated he had at least one 9mm Glock, which is a common pistol. One report said he had two of them. Glocks are standard issue for most police departments and used in target shooting as well as home defense. Most Glock pistols have a standard magazine of either 10 or 17 rounds. High capacity magazines are available, but are unreliable and known for jamming. He allegedly also had a hunting rifle.

    This may turn out to be incorrect, but that is what has been leaked. Official statements by the police are not yet forthcoming as far as I have been able to find.

  53. DonS, you and I know as well as anyone here, that jails are the new mental “hospitals.” Back to Bedlam, we have come.

  54. OS,
    I saw earlier that he also had a semi-automatic bushmaster. He also reportedly had a bullet proof vest on. Would it be reasonable to outlaw non-military or police access to bullet proof vests? Make these “heroes” go in unprotected may make a couple think twice.

  55. Gene, I don’t consider my logic any more facile than calling for early identification of mentally unstable or ill citizens and intervening in some fashion to render them less of a threat to themselves or others. In fact, it’s probably a lot less facile regarding the lethality of edged weapons; not every spree killer and casual thug is going to have knife skills at a level needed to insure lethality anymore than every spree killer and casual thug has the gun skills to insure lethality. The difference is though the range required for damage to be done and the amount of damage inherent in the type of weapon used. Knife wounds do not carry the same level of lethality of gun wounds. Obviously, a well planned fire trumps both.


    Involuntary commitment, civil commitment and involuntary treatment are currently available to states and the federal government for sex offenders.

    Currently, Sex offenders that have been convicted of crimes, can, after having served their sentences still be retained in custody because they are determined to still mentally ill/dangerous. This is reflected in state and federal laws.

    Expanding that to a more general population is IMO a much more dangerous and complicated process, subject to political and cultural influences, that make it a great threat to fundamental civil liberties.

    While it is easy to agree that “Early detection of pathology and early intervention are the only thing that would have avoided this.” and it is easy to point at the glaring failures in the system that is currently in place that have contributed to such spree killings what is actually being proposed?

    What mechanisms would be put in place to monitor behavior and assess behaviors (as well as attitudes and thoughts that might be or lead to) what(ever) is considered a danger to oneself or society at large? How early would that assessment start? Would it be mandatory or voluntary? Who would perform it? Where would the criteria come from? The DSM which listed homosexuality as a mental illness until 20 years ago but just recently downgraded beast-f***ing (Srsly?). Perhaps it can be rolled into a teachers duties for children, after some sort of training of course. Perhaps regular mental health screenings could be made a condition of employment for everyone employed or receiving unemployment insurance or other ‘safety net’ payments?

    Here’s the problem with the calls for better detection/identification and intervention, once you get too far past a mechanism for making mental health services dirt cheap/free and flooding every city with practioners you start impinging on civil rights in a big way and/or talking about an infrastructure that is more appropriate for a scifi novel than a free society. To just say that we want our guns but need a better mental health infrastructure (without a plan) is pretty facile as well. How would a better mental health infrastructure work that wouldn’t destroy civil liberties but would prevent this kind of tragedy?

    “Then, in 1990, Washington state became the first to pass an innovative civil commitment law specifically for violent sex offenders. California, Wisconsin and New York, among others, later followed. Such “predator laws” focused on risk assessment and prevention of re-offending. It is a concept that the general public may not be aware exists.

    The Supreme Court has upheld the use of such laws when the individual goal is rehabilitation, not further “punishment.” But it has another, broader purpose.

    “The primary goal is incapacitation, that is, protecting society from people who are predicted to be dangerous in the future,” said Eric Janus, author of “Failure to Protect” and dean at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. “The second goal is to provide treatment to these individuals.””


  56. Raff, I have now posted a reply twice and this is my third try. The internet gremlins are out tonight.

    Body armor is available for civilian purchase. It is available at many police supply stores as well. As for regulating it, it might be hard to justify on the grounds that many people outside of law enforcement have personal reasons for wanting it. Just because less than a half dozen or so criminals a year might use it for nefarious purposes, makes stringent regulation hard to justify.

    Google “bulletproof vests” and “body armor.” There are a lot of suppliers out there.

  57. I see gun control something like car a car license. There is testing to pass, safety issue to learn & practice. When you get caught with a violation you can take a driving safety course to refresh your memory.

    How did the mother allow her son access to these guns? They should have been locked up in a secure gun safe. maybe one day we can get fingerprint technology on guns- they will not fire unless they get the right scan.
    We should and could require gun evaluation safety courses, like a dog license, every 5 years or so. Gun enthusiasts should be happy to show their skills. Have the instructors evaluate knowledge, skills and at home storage and rate people on a scale.
    If someone is not able to control a weapon properly they should not own that weapon.

  58. The tipping point for a different guy was a woman saying: “No, we’re done.”

    No license, no permit, no waiting period, no insurance, no mandatory training. Just 87 dead.

    Swarthmore Mom: David Corn has a simplistic view, as in that same era you could buy a keg of gunpowder with only the money required to do so.

    Blackpowder was used as a blasting agent for mining, quarrying, removal of stumps, destruction of ledge, and in time of conflict, filling and launching explosive artillery shells, blowing up ships, buildings, and breaching defenses.

    At 7:40 pm, on different boards, Gene and I had the same fear: another media frenzied rush towards a PATRIOT Act look-alike.

    If the amnesty and gun buy-back doesn’t work… then what? Use DHS to kick doors and search town-by-town, house-by-house, room-by-room, and gun-down anyone who might – or does – resist?

    Will we then elect as President-for-Life our own Uncle Joe?

    Khrushchev forecasted the demise of our country would be our own undoing, not that of a foreign force or power.

  59. I have no issue with keeping guns from the mentally ill, however, if science isn’t going to be your guide, what do you propose, LK? The Courts decide without medical input? Voodoo? Maybe an Ecclesiastical Court to determine who is evil and who isn’t? Teachers, as early interactors, are not a bad place to start for referrals, however, that leads to problems I’ll address in a minute.

    Psychology and psychiatry are not perfect tools, but they are the best we have. Like all science, it is a work in progress and tomorrow’s knowledge will supplant today’s.

    Health care, including mental health care, is voluntary except in extreme circumstances. Mandating mental health will not work. It violates free will, it infringes on privacy and your right to self and it would infringe upon religious choice in some cases. Mandating mental health care is a non-starter without Constitutional amendment and that would be an amendment not only difficult in the extreme to gain enough popular support for, but it wouldn’t withstand Constitutional challenge on a 1st and/or 14th Amendment basis. As such, universal free voluntary mental health care would reduce, not eliminate these kinds of events. Involuntary commitment proceedings add another layer of protection from people who are manifest dangers to others and/or themselves. Combine traditional methods with emergent sciences like using fMRI to detect psychopaths and sociopaths for those in therapy and you have yet another layer of protection. However, if you want a perfect solution, one does not exist. It can’t exist mathematically. The system is too complex and complexity breeds error. There is no way around that. Randomness is built in to the universe. Rejecting a solution with the greatest possibility of mitigation because it is imperfect is the Nirvana fallacy. Someone determined to kill another is difficult to impossible to stop without foreknowledge of their intent and capacity for violence. Add to that that insanity often skirts genius in unconventional thinking. You cannot protect against a harm you cannot predict. However, your protestation that a mental health screening violates rights can be systemically minimized. For everyone in voluntary therapy, make a “blind” end-user database based on psychiatric records. It could run just like a background check or NCIC except it simply lists if the person is under treatment (not for what) and whether their diagnosis indicates they are a possible firearms danger. If a person is denied a purchase, they should have a right to appeal – before a triumvirate or some other kind of board (possibly with one judge on the board to cover ancillary legal issues) – to see if the block on sales is medically justified or not. Again, this would not be perfect. People would slip through the net. But it can be done in a way that minimally infringes upon rights. And that is the whole trick of good governance: to maximize societal benefits while minimizing the rational infringement of rights. It’s the fulcrum in the scale of the social compact. Government is a machine. It is designed. And like all machines, it only functions as well as its innate design allows it to function.

    However, if you want to see one picture of a world with mandated mental health care, I suggest reading any of Greg Bear’s Mary Choi novels. They are effectively police procedurals/mysteries set in the near future. Even in that world, crime still happens. Even murder. And they are a fun read to boot. Based on your other taste in S/F literature, I think you’d like them.

  60. Mike Huckabee: Newtown Shooting No Surprise, We’ve ‘Systematically Removed God’ From Schools
    The Huffington Post
    By Nick Wing & Paige Lavender
    Posted: 12/14/2012

    Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, saying the crime was no surprise because we have “systematically removed God” from public schools.

    “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

    This line of reasoning isn’t new for Huckabee.

    Speaking about a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. over the summer, the former GOP presidential candidate claimed that such violent episodes were a function of a nation suffering from the removal of religion from the public sphere.

    “We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised … when all hell breaks loose.”

  61. Obama….. A man you can trust…… Roflmao…… Sure…. And when we find the blue dress with the stain….. We will ll feel better…..

    Obey Propaganda…… The nazis demanded….expected you to do the same……

  62. “To all the gun defenders out there, can the government regulate (or ban) civilian possession of RPGs? What about depleted uranium rounds?” David Corn, Mother Jones

  63. OS,
    The vest comment was an aside to the general theme that semi-automatic weapons don’t belong in civilain hands, let alone mentally ill hands.
    We have suffered through Thirty plus school shootings in a decade or two so a discussion to curb dangerous weapons is not being rushed into. How many years since Columbie in 1999 do we have to wait?

  64. raff,

    “The choice of weapon does matter. When someone who may have had mental health issues is able to get guns of this magnitude, it endangers everyone that comes into his path. Knives and swords are no equivalent or anywhere near as dangerous as a semi-automatic weapon.”

    Our primary difference is what do we each consider reasonable. Outlawing semi-automatic handguns is only going to create a black market in semi-automatic handguns. As for design? Let’s be honest about design. Handguns are made for killing people be they revolver or semi-automatic. And the chances of getting people to agree to ban handguns is slim to non-existent. High capacity clips? Certain kinds of bullets? Weapons that are easily convertible to full auto? Those are all up for discussion, but in the end, we need to stop killers, not guns. OS’s hammer/carpenter analogy is apt. A tool is not a user.

    However, I’m going to have to disagree on the lethality of an edged weapon the in hands of a trained user. They are harder to use than a gun, true, but they are every bit as lethal. Guns make it easy to kill – point and click – but as a species we’ve been killing each other with variations on pointed sticks, knives, club and axes (and other variations on levers) for hundreds of thousands of years before gunpowder was even invented. The earliest known missile weapon other than a spear is an atl, nothing more than a simple lever to throw arrows. A determined attacker will find a way to hurt someone. Did you see the story about the guy who attacked four people in Arkansas (?) this week by setting them on fire? Or the bow and arrow attack a couple of weeks ago? Surely you’ve seen stories where someone was simply beat to death. You can kill someone with your thumb and forefinger if you know what you are doing.

  65. Charles M. Blow ‏@CharlesMBlow

    Ppl put too much emphasis on mental illness in these shootings and not enough on the guns in my opinion…

  66. Charles M. Blow ‏@CharlesMBlow

    …There are millions of ppl suffering with/dealing with mental illness who never behave violently…

  67. No, Gene. We have to stop killers and the semi-automatic guns that make it easier for people to massacre six year olds. You show me a swordsman who can defeat someone with a .223 semi-automatic Bushmaster thaen maybe we can agree. Gun violence in our country is out of control, but the answer from the Right is religion in public schools and in Michigan, guns in school!!

  68. raff,
    The shooter never used the .223 rifle that was found in his car. Actually, long guns are only used in about 3% of homicides every year in the US, and only a small percentage of that 3% are military type weapons. Most long guns used in murder are either hunting rifles or shotguns. I have not looked up the statistics, but I would wager that most long gun murders are with shotguns.

    A semi-auto is simply a gun that reloads itself after each shot, but only fires one shot with each trigger pull.

    A full-auto weapon is either a machine gun or submachine gun. A submachine gun is one designed to shoot pistol bullets rather than rifle bullets. They fire repeatedly with one pull of the trigger. Full-auto weapons have been heavily regulated ever since 1934, and you need to almost be independently wealthy to own one legally. A true assault weapon is one that has a “select fire” switch. It can be switched between semi and full auto. They come under the control of the Firearms Act of 1934.

    A revolver is a form of semi-auto weapon, in that it shoots every time you pull the trigger. It is just the mechanism for carrying the rounds that is different.

    You can shoot a revolver really fast if you practice a lot. Like 12 shots with one reload in 2.99 seconds.

  69. 300 million firearms of which zero fired themselves.

    And let me get this straight, raff: you propose to do away with semi-automatic hand guns. Correct? Have you watched none of the marksmen videos OS has posted in the past? A revolver with speed loaders is just as deadly and fast in the right hands. Do you want to ban speed loaders? Do you have any idea how much resistance that would create in police departments who have been using semi-automatics and speed loaders for decades? In people who prefer semi-automatics for self-defense? It would not only create huge pushback, but as OS has pointed out before, would you like the job of going around and collecting people’s guns? I think not. And let’s say you do ban their sale, theirs a huge secondary market for guns right now. The prices would triple and the deals would be made in back alleys and other nefarious places. I knew a guy in Dallas 15 year ago (and still do if he isn’t dead and he might be) that I could go buy literally almost anything I wanted from – civilian or military – if I had the cash. Or drugs. Or stolen cars. Special orders.

    Not a nice guy. In fact, one of the few people I know I consider outright evil. Is this the guy you want controlling the flow of semi-automatic hand guns? Because if you outlaw them, he and his ilk will.

    The genie is out of the bottle.

    “You show me a swordsman who can defeat someone with a .223 semi-automatic Bushmaster thaen maybe we can agree.”

    If he’s within blade range? Not a problem. It’s all about range.

  70. And what OS said.

    I would be surprised if the long gun of choice for gun violence isn’t the shotgun. Easy to use. Hard (almost impossible) to trace.

  71. Mark McKinnon ‏@mmckinnon

    And for those talking about “fake tears for an agenda”, you must not have kids, or a heart. Take your foot off the political pedal for a day

  72. Gene, raff must not have ever seen a Filipino Kali knife fighting demonstration.

    Also, click the link provided by YankeeFarmer upthread. Furthemore, Timothy McVeigh killed a lot more kids with fertilizer and a truck than were killed today. A mass murderer will find a way. Always. I have known enough of them to learn how their minds work from first hand experience.

  73. OS,

    I was thinking of Happy Land when I mentioned fire up above. ” A mass murderer will find a way. Always.” In that we are in total agreement.

  74. OS,
    As Gene said it is all about range. If the rifle was not used maybe he had other plans for it. BTW, what appends if you buy a lot of fertilizer and you are not a farmer? You get a visit from the FBI. I will always vote to make that murderer work harder to kill innocents when it can be prevented reasonably.

  75. raff,
    Fertilizer is not the only way. I know how to make black powder, although I choose not to because the stuff is dangerous. As for fertilizer, I have bought the stuff by the pickup truck load at the farmer’s co-op store. I used to use it in huge quantities on my Bermuda grass lawn. Never did get a visit from law enforcement. I have bought enough over the years to bring down the average size courthouse. I know enough chemistry to make things that will blow up with stuff I can probably find under your kitchen sink and in the garage. As I said, a mass murderer will find a way. The cheapest and most effective is ordinary gasoline, and that is a heck of a lot more horrific than bullets. At least you have a chance to dodge bullets. Smoke inhalation and fire, not so much.

    If we can forget the tools for a moment and focus on the underlying cause, we switch from band-aids to treating the disease.

  76. OS,
    If I understand your argument correctly, if someone can kill someone with any other weapon, we cannot reasonably restrict people from having semi-automatic weapons? Did you buy enough fertilizer to bring down a building at one time? The underlying cause is this country’s infatuation with guns. Why is it that the US has 19.5 times the number of gun homicides than other high income countries? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20571454

  77. Bill Clinton explains in his autobiography, “My Life”:

    “The NRA had already lost the fight to defeat the Brady Bill and was determined to prevail in this one so that Americans would retain their right to “keep and bear” rapid-fire, large magazine weapons designed for one purpose only: to kill a great many people in a hurry. These weapons worked: crime victims shot with them were three times more likely to die than those whose assailants had fired regular handguns.” (p. 610)

    “Just before the House vote (on the “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act”), Speaker Tom Foley and majority leader Dick Gephardt had made a last-ditch appeal to me to remove the assault weapons ban from the bill. They argued that many Democrats who represented closely divided districts had already…defied the NRA once on the Brady bill vote. They said that if we made them walk the plank again on the assault weapons ban, the overall bill might not pass, and that if it did, many Democrats who voted for it would not survive the election in November. Jack Brooks, the House Judiciary Committee chairman from Texas, told me the same thing…Jack was convinced that if we didn’t drop the ban, the NRA would beat a lot of Democrats by terrifying gun owners….Foley, Gephardt, and Brooks were right and I was wrong. The price…would be heavy casualties among its defenders.” (pp.611-612)

    “On November 8, we got the living daylights beat out of us, losing eight Senate races and fifty-four House seats, the largest defeat for our party since 1946….The NRA had a great night. They beat both Speaker Tom Foley and Jack Brooks, two of the ablest members of Congress, who had warned me this would happen. Foley was the first Speaker to be defeated in more than a century. Jack Brooks had supported the NRA for years and had led the fight against the assault weapons ban in the House, but as chairman of the Judiciary Committee he had voted for the overall crime bill even after the ban was put into it. The NRA was an unforgiving master: one strike and you’re out. The gun lobby claimed to have defeated nineteen of the twenty-four members on its hit list. They did at least that much damage….” (pp. 629-630)
    “One Saturday morning, I went to a diner in Manchester full of men who were deer hunters and NRA members. In impromptu remarks, I told them that I knew they had defeated their Democratic congressman, Dick Swett, in 1994 because he voted for the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban. Several of them nodded in agreement.” (p. 699)

  78. Shano,
    That chart is a good demonstration on how to lie with statistics. The sample size is too small to have any power. Any sample smaller than about thirty does not have the power to draw any firm conclusions, or predictive ability. You can use a simple statistical tool to determine a .05 confidence level, but that is misleading because the confidence level does not give a true picture of predictive power when the small sample size is taken into consideration.

  79. Folks. Even if we just went out and banned all firearms except for those used in hunting and such, which seems to be the last acceptable use for which all but the most extreme would seem to permit, it is not going to stop violence completely.

    Here is one example. A deputy who was with the department I formerly worked for was off duty and hunting near Soap Lake and he was shot and terribly wounded by a man who I think was just looking to kill a man. The suspect was convicted of Assault 2nd and went to prison. Earl nearly died. I get angry and saddened every time I think of that day.


    It’s going to happen for the reasons in large part due to what OS and Gene said. And then it’s going to happen for no reason at all, and that is often the worst part of it. No happy ending in the true sense.

    Please watch the video in the link.

  80. Shano, I stand corrected. There were 19 fatalities of kids under the age of six. On the other hand a total of 168 people lost their lives, and another 680 people were injured with wounds that ranged from life-threatening to relatively minor. 324 buildings were either destroyed or badly damaged, along with several dozen motor vehicles.

    As my friend YankeeFarmer says upthread, the worst thing we can do is pass draconian legislation in the heat of passion. That kind of thing got us the Patriot Act and I certainly do not want to go down that path again.

  81. OS

    I remember reading about Deputy Simpson from a post you made here some time ago. Hope she manages somehow. Takes a lot of strength to make it through something like that.

  82. what we have is a system that elevates a pos nobody into a 24/7 news item. want to be the most talked about person for the year? want everyone you ever knew to be asked about you? want to make the president of the united states cry on live tv? all you have to do is want to kill yourself and not care who else dies. no ban on magazines or type of loading mechanism will change it. you can’t make every type of material that burns or goes boom unlawful. forcing jesus into everyone won’t change it.

    and no, i don’t know what to do about it either.

    just don’t cry over the sob. don’t write books or make movies about him.

    don’t even say his f@cking name

  83. Gun Deaths: A Familiar American Experience
    By Bill Weir
    Jul 21, 2012

    A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined.

    Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids.

    But regardless, polls show that public attitudes don’t change, even after a mass slaughter like this. Forty-nine percent say it’s more important to protect gun rights while 45 percent favor tighter gun control.

    But no one of any political stripe can denying the human cost of our collective trigger fingers.

    According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in the 44 years since Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot to death, bullets have ended the lives of more than one million people — including 12 in Aurora, Colo., who came together at midnight, just looking to cheer for a superhero.

  84. Gun Control Is A Parenting Issue
    By Lisa Belkin
    Posted: 12/14/2012

    Please don’t tell me that if only the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School were also armed that this would have ended well. It might have ended differently, but concealed weapons in the teachers lounge is not the way we want to raise our kids.

    Jose Luis Nunez had a handgun in order to protect his son. The 4-year-old accidentally shot himself in the face with it in Houston on Tuesday. Joseph V. Loughrey had one for the same reason. His 7-year-old son Craig died on Saturday outside of Pittsburgh when that handgun accidentally went off while the boy was getting into his safety seat in front of a gun store.

    And that was just this week. The same week that the NRA proudly tweeted it had reached 1.7 million “likes” on Facebook.

  85. Gun Advocacy Group Responds: ‘Gun Control Supporters Have The Blood Of Little Children On Their Hands’
    By Igor Volsky on Dec 14, 2012

    While citizens and advocates of gun control are responding to Friday’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut by calling on Congress to enact sensible gun regulations, some gun advocacy groups are blaming supporters of the tighter restrictions for the tragedy.

    Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, issued a statement this evening attributing the massacre to gun regulations, arguing that had weapons been permitted on school grounds, the murders could have been avoided:

    “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.”

  86. I’m not at all interested in the pro gun arguments. I learned to hunt with a bow and arrow … guns were considered non-sporting in my family’s culture.

    But I realize that guns are deeply embedded in the culture of many Americans. I even saw a blowup snowman wearing a hunting cap and carrying a rifle as a Christmas decoration in some bozo’s front yard last week. I seriously thought about getting my bow and deflating the sick f*ck’s display with an arrow but fear of going to jail kept me from doing so … well that and Tex refused to drive the get-a-way car.

    I will vote for anyone who wants to enact strict gun control … anyone.

    I don’t want to hear or read a word about why or how legislation wouldn’t work or shouldn’t work or couldn’t work. I’m done talking.

  87. Hey: JT. The election is over and Willard the Gypsie lost. Quit picking on Obama for recognizing that The Times They Are A Changing. The 47 Percenters on one side of the aisle dont want no pot in their state and the 47 per cent on the other side of the road dont want no feds in their state busting people for doing weed. That leaves about six per cent. They are in the middle of the muddle. As a six percenter I beleive that the nation should outlaw tobacco.

    Cigarette smoking is dangerous… hazad to your health.
    –Peter Tosh.

  88. Blouise,

    “I don’t want to hear or read a word about why or how legislation wouldn’t work or shouldn’t work or couldn’t work. I’m done talking.”

    More to the point, you’re done listening.

    You can’t uninvent handguns – period – and if we could uninvent things, there are several items that go on the front of that list way before guns, like chemical, bacteriological and nuclear war. And you can’t legislate the issue of (gun) violence away even if you could repeal the 2nd Amendment. In an perfect world, murder wouldn’t happen simply as a matter of conscience. What is more imperfect than our world? Chaos is built into the fabric of the universe. I wish I had a dragon, but I’m not waiting for UPS to deliver it.

  89. Gene,

    Maybe Blouise is done listening because she has heard all the arguments that gun advocates always make after a mass murder.

    Al Qaeda Spokesman Instructs Terrorists To Stock Up At Local Gun Shows
    June 3, 2011

    In a video released today Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn encourages terrorists to use American gun shows to arm themselves for potential Mumbai-style attacks. Gadahn’s video laid out a new tactic for Al Qaeda to continue their murderous terrorist agenda:

    “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

    At gun shows buyers can purchase guns from private sellers without passing a background check. An investigation by the City of New York showed that even buyers that identified themselves as people who “probably couldn’t pass a background check” were able to purchase guns at gun shows. The investigation also showed the wide variety of guns available at gun shows.

  90. Elaine,

    Why someone chooses to ignore the reality of a situation isn’t nearly as interesting as the choice itself. The truth, no matter how unpleasant, has the benefit of being the truth. To think you can 1) repeal the 2nd Amendment or 2) go around seizing people’s rightfully owned arms without creating a recipe for death and disaster simply by taking that action is wishful thinking. However, in the discussion of reasonable gun control? I would have no issue with banning “gun shows” and for the very reason your cite mentions. It would not end illegal sales, but it would go a long way to mitigating the problem. This is ultimately the choice: reasonable mitigation in the face of maintaining the right to bear arms. It’s a problem that will never go away though. Guns are just too easy to build when it comes right down to it. They can be built with commonly available materials using commonly available tools and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it either. Just someone competent with basic machining and fabrication principles.

  91. Gun Sales In 2012 Set Record, FBI Data Indicates
    Posted: 12/14/2012

    The gun business in the United States is thriving and the tragic events on Friday in Newtown, Conn. may likely do little to quell Americans’ spending on munitions.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded more than 16.8 million background checks for gun purchases in 2012, the highest number since the FBI began publishing the data in 1998. A record number of requests for background checks for gun buyers went through on Black Friday in November, the FBI reported at the time, in part because of fears that President Barack Obama and other lawmakers would tighten gun control laws.

    The FBI does not track actual firearms purchases, and the number of weapons sold could be even higher than the number of background-check calls because customers can purchase multiple guns, USA Today reports.

    If the past is any indication, Friday’s mass shooting will do little to slow the pace of sales. It’s not uncommon for gun sales to see a boost following a mass shooting, as buyers head to stores mostly motivated by self-defense, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In the first four days following the July mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., gun sales increased 41 percent, the CSM reported.

    On Friday some pro-gun groups took to Twitter urging people to buy guns: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted “more guns, less mass shootings” in the wake of the event.

  92. Five Lies The Gun Lobby Tells You
    By Zack Beauchamp
    Dec 14, 2012

    America’s seems to be in for another debate over gun regulation after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 27 (mostly children) dead. So it’s worth reviewing five made against regulating gun ownership in the United States:

    MYTH #1: More guns don’t lead to more murders. A survey by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Health found strong statistical support for the idea that, even if you control for poverty levels, more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership. And despite what gun advocates say, countries like Israel and Switzerland don’t disprove the point.

    MYTH #2: The Second Amendment prohibits strict gun control. While the Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that bans on handgun ownership were unconstitutional, the ruling gives the state and federal governments a great deal of latitude to regulate that gun ownership as they choose. As the U.S. Second Court of Appeals put it in a recent ruling upholding a New York regulation, “The state’s ability to regulate firearms and, for that matter, conduct, is qualitatively different in public than in the home. Heller reinforces this view. In striking D.C.’s handgun ban, the Court stressed that banning usable handguns in the home is a ‘policy choice[]‘ that is ‘off the table,’ but that a variety of other regulatory options remain available, including categorical bans on firearm possession in certain public locations.”

    MYTH #3: State-level gun controls haven’t worked. Scholars Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander recently studied state-to-state variation in gun homicide levels. They found that “[f]irearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation.” This is backed up by research on local gun control efforts and cross-border gun violence.
    MYTH #4: We only need better enforcement of the laws we have, not new laws. In fact, Congress has passed several laws that cripple the ability for current gun regulations to be enforced the way that they’re supposed to. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, a series of federal laws referred to as the Tiahrt amendments “limit public access to crime gun trace data, prohibit the use of gun trace data in hearings, pertaining to licensure of gun dealers and litigation against gun dealers, and restrict ATF’s authority to require gun dealers to conduct a physical inventory of their firearms.” Other federal laws “limited the ATF compliance inspections” and grant “broad protections from lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and retail sellers.”

    MYTH #5: Sensible gun regulation is prohibitively unpopular. Not necessarily. As the New Republic’s Amy Sullivan reported after the series of mass shootings this summer, a majority of Americans would prefer both to enforce existing law more strictly and pass new regulations on guns when given the option to choose both rather than either/or. Specific gun regulations are also often more popular than the abstract idea.

  93. If you are worried about our health then outlaw tobacco smoking. Spray all those hypocrites who itchBay about pot smokers with a firehose. Start with the likes of Boner. Dont go to a doctor who smokes. Dont vote for a politician who smokes. Dont even think about dating a woman who smokes. The hypocrites, the Boners, the doctors, politicians and likely candidates for sex who smoke all stink and all will die coughing and gaging.

  94. There is in constitutional right to be individually armed with any type of gun! Read the Second Amendment. Too bad our leaders won’t do just that and Stanton up to the gun lobby.

    To. Darren. No one ever said gun control would do away with all violence. That is such a straw man.
    Guns make it possible for weak and cowardly people to do maximin damage that they would never be able to do otherwise .

    Gun control now!

  95. The argument that we are in danger of abrogating the 2nd amendment by an emotional overreaction to yesterday’s massacre of schoolchildren is not convincing to me. I just don’t think it’s anywhere near realistic given the extreme power of the gun lobby; given that our president has vowed fealty to legitimate gun rights, certainly to protect the rights of hunters to possess weapons. He has not come out strongly on the assault rifle issue, though this might be a good time to address that one.

    I don’t understand the fear of losing the right to possess weapons — reasonably geared to the legitimate societal ‘uses’ of guns. It’s seems like another one of those issues where virtually all other western democracies exhibit a sensible approach to firearms, but the US hews and exceptionalist interpretation of firearm ownership. The absence of reasonable regulation has left open the door to availability and possession of unreasonable weapons, though some no doubt consider that and oxymoron. I’m not so concerned about the linguistic cliches as in the effect. No doubt any weapon can kill, but the failure to address reasonable control seems like a cover for getting to the whole nexus of issues, including appropriate mental health screening and registration, addressed. The whole debate is poisoned and quickly escalate to fearmongering about the second amendment, leaving the debate in the hand of the crazies. (note: I a NOT attacking anyone here with an intention of flaming — I’m tired of the debate and am just stating a pov)

    The ‘occasional’ frequency of massacres is not an argument for banning assault weapons. But the disconnect between such mass killings and any particular weapon or method of killing is not an argument for avoiding reasonable gun control either. IMO

  96. Elaine M.
    1, December 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Maybe Blouise is done listening because she has heard all the arguments that gun advocates always make after a mass murder.


    Yep … exactly.

  97. Gene,


    I used the example of the snowman with the gun to illustrate how deeply embedded in our culture the love of guns and killing is. It is so acceptable that many folk think it’s an appropriate Christmas display to put in their front yard. The love of killing is so deeply embedded in our culture that a manufacturer knew money could be made by offering such a Christmas display for sale.

    I used the example of hunting with bow and arrow to illustrate that guns weren’t necessary to indulge in that activity. Guns simply make it easier to kill an animal and make it possible to kill more animals than one could reasonably expect to kill with a bow and arrow on any given day.

    Guns are about one thing and one thing only … killing. So the Second Amendment makes it acceptable … okay, I get that … it’s a pretty good excuse for killing and certainly goes a long way in ensuring that mass murder continues to be one of our basic cultural heritages.

    Stop insulting my intelligence … I’ve heard it all before and, quite frankly, I’m not the least bit interested.

  98. Blouise,

    I’m not insulting your intelligence, but rather your willingness to ignore reality and logic on this issue in favor of emotionalism because children were killed. It’s an aberration in the way you usually think (which is generally quite above average in quality of reasoning). However, the “cultural heritage of mass murder”? Will not be eliminated by eliminating guns. That is rooted in a tradition of violence as a problem solving methodology. Guns are only one of myriad ways to commit violence.

    If you think you can muster support to repeal the 2nd Amendment? Go for it. But what you would get even if you succeeded (which is doubtful – a short list of arguments for the 2nd used by the Founders include deterring tyrannical government, repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, facilitating the natural right of self-defense, participating in law enforcement, and enabling the people to organize a militia system) are a bunch of negative unintended consequences that result from the simple existence of the amendment itself (like secondary markets turning in to black markets and general insurrection if you tried to seize people’s weaponry).

    If you simply wish to bemoan the gun culture in our society and the violence culture in our society? You’ll have to get in line. How many times have you seen me lambaste trolls who think threatening to kick my ass is a cogent argument? Like mespo said, gripin’ is a lot easier than fixin’. Do I wish that we weren’t such a violent culture? Yep. Sure do. The solution to that though is a much stickier wicket; a complex problem with a complex solution if there is one at all. To think eliminating guns would eliminate our cultural addiction to violence is wishful thinking. And there is one thing about wishful thinking. It is almost universally non-productive.

  99. In 1996, Australia banned semi-automatics. In the 18 years before, there were 13 mass shootings. Since then, none.

  100. Cherry pick much?

    “Historically, Australia has had relatively low levels of violent crime. Overall levels of homicide and suicide have remained relatively static for several decades, while the proportion of these crimes that involved firearms has consistently declined since the early 1980s. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of firearm-related deaths in Australia declined 47%.[25]

    In the year 2002–2003, over 85% of firearms used to commit murder were unregistered.[26] In 1997–1999, more than 80% of the handguns confiscated were never legally purchased or registered in Australia.[27] Knives are used up to three times as often as firearms in robberies.[28] The majority of firearm-related deaths are suicides, of which many involved the use of hunting rifles.[25]

    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics [3], from 1985–2000, 78% of firearm deaths in Australia were suicides, and firearm suicides have fallen from about 22% of all suicides in 1992[29] to 7% of all suicides in 2005.[30] Immediately following the Buyback there was a fall in firearm suicides which was more than offset by a 10% increase in total suicides in 1997 and 1998. There were concerted efforts in suicide prevention from this time and in subsequent years the total suicide rate resumed its decline.

    The number of guns stolen has fallen dramatically from an average 4,195 per year from 1994 to 2000 to 1,526 in 2006–2007. This is co-incident with a campaign by police and shooting bodies, such as the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia’s ‘Secure Your Gun, Secure Your Sport’ drive, to encourage secure storage of rifles and shotguns (handguns were already subject to strict storage requirements). Long guns are more often stolen opportunistically in home burglaries, but few homes have handguns and a substantial proportion of stolen handguns are taken from security firms and other businesses. Only a tiny proportion, 0.06% of licensed firearms, are stolen in a given year. Only a small proportion of those firearms are recovered. Approximately 3% of these stolen weapons are later connected to an actual crime or found in the possession of a person charged with a serious offence.[31]
    Contention over effects of the laws

    In 1997, the prime minister appointed the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) to monitor the effects of the gun buyback. The AIC have published a number of papers reporting trends and statistics around gun ownership and gun crime, which they have found to be mostly related to illegally-held firearms.[27][32]

    [. . .]

    In 2002 the AIC staged a media event claiming that they had proof of many lives saved, but their research, which was only published months later and is not available on the AIC website, demonstrated only continuing downtrends in gun deaths since many years before the buyback.[34]

    CLASS (The Coalition of Law Abiding Sporting Shooters) in 2003 reported that no benefit-cost analysis of the buyback had been carried out and that scientific debate was politicised and ignored benefits of shooting and costs forced on legitimate owners.[35] The Attorney General’s Department rejected a 2011 Freedom of Information request for benefit-cost analysis or analysis of externalised costs because ‘no such documents exist’.”


  101. Gene,

    “I’m not insulting your intelligence, but rather your willingness to ignore reality and logic on this issue in favor of emotionalism because children were killed.”

    Now you’re just being silly.

    Guns serve one purpose and one purpose only … killing. The Second Amendment enables mass killing and contributes mightily to the cultural acceptability of such behavior. The only people who get “emotional” about it are those who are afraid someone is going to take their guns away thus limiting their ability to kill. How will they arm their snowmen then?!

    Unless you are willing to tackle the real problem here, which is the Second Amendment and the interpretations that have strengthened its lethal impact on society … I am not interested.

    Now, I am headed out for a day of frivolity with friends and family so will not be checking back in till late tomorrow. You take care of your cold!

  102. Blouise,

    I expected a better reply than just snark. The 2nd Amendment does not enable mass killing nor does it condone it. It protects a right our Founders thought important for more than one valid reason. Even as unbalanced as the fight would be, an armed populace is a deterrent to tyranny.

    You again mistake causations.

    Mass killers would still exist if we’d never had the 2nd Amendment. Disagree all you like, but that is a psychological fact. They’d use fire or poison or explosive or any one of the other many ways to kill lots of people in a short amount of time. The problem is still rooted in the culture where violence – of any sort – is an acceptable method for resolving problems. “Killer” is in the mind and the hand it controls – the will to action, the mens rea turned to an actus reus. How is at best a secondary consideration, but you acknowledged the reality of the 2nd Amendment and you know your options: seek repeal by amendment, seek reasonable gun controls that don’t destroy the right, learn to live with the consequences of the freedom or complain about it – which accomplishes nothing. As I said, the “cultural heritage of mass murder” will not be eliminated by eliminating guns. Guns are only one of myriad ways to commit violence. Their absence would only ensure the tyranny of the strong over the weak. Unless you think a 115 pound woman stands a better chance of fending off a 200 pound rapist with a knife or a cigarette lighter. Or an elderly or infirm person can fend off a mugger with charm and a pointed stick? Killing is not always done out of malice and one of the reasons our Founders created the 2nd was to bolster the right to self-defense. There is a saying that “God created man, but Col. Colt made them equal.” A gun is a tool. Like any tool it can cause death and injury when misused. The problem remains the killers themselves. To deprive others of their right to self-defense or to resist tyranny with violence if need be because of a small percentage of crazy, evil people misusing both a tool and their right to bear arms is simply an injustice on its own. You’ll never correct one injustice by perpetrating another. And you’ll never fix a problem by addressing a symptom and not the cause.

    I fully expect we’re just going to disagree on this matter.

    You’ve made up your mind regardless of any reasonable counter arguments. You’ve chosen to make blanket assertions about motives for gun ownership, misattributed causation, and ignore human nature in a fine display of outcome determinism. It’s disappointingly bad reasoning. However, given that it is the only instance I’ve seen of seriously bad reasoning from you, I guess I’ll keep ya.😉 Everyone has something they are peculiarly irrational about. With me, it’s Canadian Bacon and red heads.

  103. How come you are all talking about guns when the topic is pot? Is it bad for you? Is it bad enough to make it a crime to have pot? Is it worse than tobacco? Tobacco kills. It kills the schmucks in Congress who write laws while they smoke tobacco to make your kid a criminal for smoking pot. Cigarette smoking is dangerous, hazad to your health. Heed the words of Peter Tosh.

  104. Gene,

    Calling it snark does not make it so and honestly, no snark was intended. Here’s exactly what I think:

    You should know me well enough by now to understand the basis of my objections to all this folderah. It is the emotionalism of the gun owners and the Second Amendment false worshipers that must also be dismissed and, quite frankly, ignored.

    The original intent of the Second as it pertains to firearms has its history in English law and as I understand it the United States Supreme Court addressed the matter three times … 1876, 1886, 1939 and on each occasion held that it granted the people a right to bear arms only within the militia and seemed to have no trouble defining the term militia as that organized by Congress and subject to joint federal and state control. What we refer to as the collective right model.

    Along comes 1960 and the first known article to introduce the “individual right” interpretation and notably the first source listed in that article was was from the NRA’s magazine, American Rifle. It’s been downhill ever since.

    It is time to fix that which has been intentionally broken. Period.

    ( student article published in the William and Mary Law Review entitled “The Right To Bear Arms, A Study in Judicial Misinterpretation” … the number of errors are staggering.
    http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3295&context=wmlr&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3D%2522The%2BRight%2BTo%2BBear%2BArms%252C%2BA%2BStudy%2Bin%2BJudicial%2BMisinterpretation%2522%26rlz%3D1C1CHFX_enUS430US430%26aq%3Df%26oq%3D%2522The%2BRight%2BTo%2BBear%2BArms%252C%2BA%2BStudy%2Bin%2BJudicial%2BMisinterpretation%2522%26sugexp%3Dchrome%2Cmod%3D11%26sourceid%3Dchrome%26ie%3DUTF-8#search=%22Right%20Bear%20Arms%2C%20Study%20Judicial%20Misinterpretation%22 )

  105. Actually Blouise the individual right traces back to the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which restored the right to bear arms for self-defense to Protestants. Part of the rational for the DOI was King George disarming Americans. Our Bill of Rights is heavily based on the English precedent.

  106. Gene,

    It goes back further than that … 1689 was a do-over. (hints of it can be found in the Assize of Arms of 1181 which was the introduction of “militias”). Many, many months ago mespo promised to do a piece on the Second Amendment but he never followed through.

    So, I did my own study and I have tons of sources just waiting for the next horrific mass killing.

  107. pete,

    falderal/folderol/falderah – a meaningless refrain in songs

    “I love to go a-wandering,
    Along the mountain track,
    And as I go, I love to sing,
    My knapsack on my back.

    Falderee, falderah,
    Fajderee, Falderaha – ha- ha – ha – ha

    Falderee, falderah,

    My knapsack on my back.”

  108. We would still be under the yoke of some British King had the American Revolutionaries not been armed. When the populace is armed with weapons that can compete with the tyrants’ armaments then there is a brake on tryanny. If only the federal troops have automatic weapons and not the state troops, and not the people, then the likes of King George can tell us how to live and the likes of Adolph Hitler can commit mass murder. And Hitler did not start at some Catholic mass.

    I was in Israel in 1980 back before I was a dog. The school teachers brought their classes around to the Holocaust Museum for show and tell. The teachers themselves were all carrying Uzi automatic weapons in case some terrorist messed with the school kids. Not a bad notion. If I had a kid in school in New York then I would want my teacher to be armed. If we had a well armed militia in that school then the lunatic named Adam would not have gotten off so many rounds. Think about it. This anti gun thing is a bunch of no wing Schmuckma.

  109. if it gets to the point of arming kindergarten teachers because random violence has become so prevalent, then i’ll agree that we have too many guns or too many crazies and we need to get one or the other away from society.

  110. Ach der lieber! But what if the teacher who has the Uzi also has a son she named Adam who is nuts and flunked elementary algebra in sixth grade and steals the Uzi, shoots mom, goes to school and gets even with the high handed teachers who flunked him and the fellow students who made fun of him cause mom named him Adam. I know it sounds crazy and like something that would happen in Connecticut or New York but ya never know. So, I have second thoughts on the teachers being issued Uzi automatice weapons to keep the terrorists at bay at the Holocaust Museum. See my last post above. One can be wrong sometimes. After all, I am just a dog barkin and growlin into this dogalogue machine.

Comments are closed.