Lies, Damned Lies, and Presidential Debates: The Rhetoric and Reality Of Gun Control

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the reality and rhetoric of gun control in light of promises in the Democratic primary. The fact is that many of the ideas raised by the candidates have merit but they are likely to be marginal in their impact on real gun-related fatalities.

Here is the column:

The Democratic presidential debate down in South Carolina this week has proven once again the famous line that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The line is the perfect warning to the unwary about politicians citing statistics. The quote itself is widely misrepresented as the work of Mark Twain or British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, so it seems nothing can be trusted when it comes to statistics, not even quotes on statistics.

Some false statistics, however, are so facially absurd that they are indeed harmless except to the most gullible. That was the case when former Vice President Joe Biden attacked Senator Bernie Sanders over a vote that had favored the gun industry. Biden declared that, since the vote, 150 million Americans have been killed by guns. He also said the vote happened in 2007, when it was actually in 2005. Many people immediately scratched their heads, thinking they may have missed a holocaust that had claimed roughly half the population. Later, the Biden campaign insisted it was just another one of his gaffes and the real number is 150,000 Americans.

However, even that figure is wrong, but a Democratic primary is no place for the factually preoccupied. Trillions have been pledged for reparations, free college tuition, free medical care and free child care, all to be funded using math that would embarrass Bernie Madoff. First, on the threshold statistical controversy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that all gun deaths since 2007 total about 450,000. Thus, Biden went from overstating it by more than 300 times to understating it by three times. It is possible to get this figure down to around 180,000 by excluding the 60 percent of gun deaths that occur due to suicide.

The much greater danger, however, is not the statistical but the legal misrepresentations on gun control, and those are not confined just to Biden. After all, cracking down on guns is one of the defining issues for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged to “stop this nationwide madness.” In the debate, Biden dramatically glared into the camera to speak directly to the National Rifle Association: the NRA: “I want to tell you, if I’m elected NRA, I’m coming for you, and, gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on and I’m going to beat you.” The other Democratic candidates have made similar claims that they will reduce gun violence significantly with executive orders and laws.

Such statements are far more dishonest than the statistical flight of fancy promoted by Biden. Gun ownership is an individual constitutional right under the Second Amendment. A constitutional right cannot be reduced or changed by either executive order or legislation. You can only work on the margins of such exercises of constitutional rights, which belies the promise by Bloomberg that these measures would make an “enormous difference.” Elizabeth Warren declared that “we need a president willing to take executive action” to end gun violence without any explanation what she can do to limit an individual right, let alone do it unilaterally.

It is true that, in the 2007 case of District of Columbia versus Dick Anthony Heller, the Supreme Court held that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” But like other constitutional rights such as the freedom of speech, legally imposed limits cannot deny the right itself but only place reasonable limits on its use. Thus, it may be possible to limit the size of ammunition magazines or such devices as bump stocks. Certainly, background checks would be allowed.

Red flag laws allowing interventions are also likely to pass muster. But those limits are unlikely to “enormously” reduce gun violence. The vast majority of gun possessors, and many of those involved in massacres, would pass background checks. Indeed, there remains a serious question of whether states could outlaw weapons like AR-15s. Even if the Supreme Court upheld such a ban, there are over eight million AR-15s in private hands, and a wide variety of guns with equal or higher firepower.

Then there is the problem that most gun deaths involve a single round fired by someone into themselves rather than into others. In 2017, six out of 10 gun deaths were suicides. Less than 40 percent were intentional murders, and the remaining gun deaths in the country were accidental or law enforcement shootings. While gun suicides reached their highest recorded level in 2017, nonsuicide deaths that involve guns have been declining and stand significantly lower from its high point in 1993.

While the other candidates on the debate stage forced Sanders into a rare flip on his vote to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits, it was another example of a misleading promise. I actually opposed the 2005 bill that protected gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits because it was unnecessary and because I generally oppose legislation that limits tort liability. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, however, was not the sweeping immunity claimed by Biden and other candidates.

It barred liability for injuries due to the fact that firearms were later used by criminals. The bill saved the industry some litigation costs, but the industry would have prevailed in such actions anyway if they were tried. Product liability and tort actions against manufacturers have uniformly and correctly been rejected by the courts. Guns are lawful products, and holding companies liable for later misuse of such products is absurd. You might as well sue an axe manufacturer for the Lizzy Borden murders.

Thus, even if you remove immunity protections, ban certain magazines or devices, require background checks, or even ban a couple weapon types, the reduction in gun deaths would not likely fall significantly. Individuals still would have a constitutional right to possess guns. Moreover, the vast majority of guns would remain unaffected. That does not mean we should not try to reduce those fatalities or pass these measures. Any saved life is worth the effort. But candidates are misleading voters in suggesting that, if elected, they can dramatically impact the numbers of these cases.

Of course, none of that would make for a memorable debate moment for any of the candidates. Biden would be less than riveting if he glared into the camera and poked a figurative National Rifle Association in the chest while saying he would take them on and “marginally reduce the minority of deaths associated with nonsuicidal gun incidents.” That is the reason why there are lies, damned lies, statistics, and presidential debates.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

146 thoughts on “Lies, Damned Lies, and Presidential Debates: The Rhetoric and Reality Of Gun Control”


    Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted
    New England Journal of Medicine
    Feb 28, 2020
    Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., H. Clifford Lane, M.D., and Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

    “If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

  2. “Before the Supreme Court heard the case, the D.C. circuit court of appeals nixed the ban, too. ‘According to the court, the second comma divides the amendment into two clauses: one ‘prefatory’ and the other ‘operative.’”

    – Christina Sterbenz, BI

    Americans have the right to keep and bear arms in order to be prepared, as individuals, to expeditiously join the militia of their choice when it is necessary to provide for “…the security of a free state.”

    The 2nd Amendment does not say that only militias have the right to maintain an armory.

    The 2nd Amendment does not say a well-regulated militia shall not be infringed.

    The 2nd Amendment does not say the need for the security of a free state shall not be infringed.

    The 2nd Amendment says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    The 2nd Amendment does not say the right shall be mitigated, transformed or, otherwise, modified by the judicial branch for any purpose.

    The 2nd Amendment does not qualify the right to keep and bear arms and the right, therefore, is absolute.

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

  3. It might be beyond the Pale to call a lie a damned lie. The Hoover Dam lies on a river. Where a dam lies is important for those upstream and downstream.
    Adam Corona Schiff lies in Congress. He is in the same damned up pound as the other members.
    Where you lie is where you are and not where you always speak. Liar liar your pants are on fire pertains to those who speak not the truth. Not where their feet lie.

  4. Newly Discovered:

    Seth Warner / John Burgoyne / Enoch Poor / Peter Shill / Paint chips Public Access Show From 1980’s

    Back in the 1980’s, Seth Warner was Mayor of Grindr in West Hollywood Grid, the gay man’s largest sex app city.  West Hollywood, however, is actually fairly crystal meth infested with a population of less than 100 sober gay men

    During his years as Mayor, Seth hosted a regular gay mens crystal meth shindig program.  Clips from Seth’s program were recently aired showing where Seth was blocked on Grindr by all gay men west of the Mississippi because of his messy drug problem


    – Bernie Bros


      This commenter is known as Crazed Idiot. Here is a sample of one of his posts from last week.

      Seth Warner, I read that book you wrote, “The True Story Of Butt Boy”.  Don’t deny you wrote it, I know it was you.  One of your fake names!  My Right-To-Life chapter is using “Butt Boy” as a teaching aide; an example of degenerate liberal thinking.  We read from your book while blocking abortion clinics, so everyone knows how sick you are.

  5. The hypocrisy is staggering; disturbing.

    40,000 Americans killed annually by cars on highways.

    Ban highways.

    Ban cars.

    “I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”

    – Lynn Anderson (Featuring Thomas Jefferson)

    I beg your pardon
    I never promised you a rose garden
    Along with the sunshine
    There’s gotta be a little rain some time
    When you take you gotta give so live and let live
    Or let go oh-whoa-whoa-whoa
    I beg your pardon
    I never promised you a rose garden

    1. A better example:

      According to the CDC, every year 88,000 people die from alcohol:

      Ban alcohol

      The reason I think alcohol is a better example than cars is:

      A) There is experience on the negative effects of banning alcohol, for example, the rise of organized crime.

      B) Potable alcohol has no utilitarian value — unlike cars. It is however enjoyed by 100s of millions without issue, so perhaps the non-gun-owing drinking public can relate to the angst of gun owners seeing something that gives them joy being taken away.

      C) Guns do have utilitarian uses (and enjoyment uses) and thus should be protected more than something like alcohol which lacks any utilitarian value and kills at least twice as many people per year.

      1. for example, the rise of organized crime.

        The Siciliante mafia existed prior to Prohibition and continued to exist after it was gone. They had a number of lines of business.

        1. “…the rise of organized crime” may have been an unintended consequence.

          Prohibition was enacted to preclude the manufacture of alcohol as competition for gasoline. Some say the motive was temperance but “big oil’s,” nay, gargantuan-oil-with-an-exponent’s existence proves differently.

          “John D. Rockefeller funded Prohibition as a means of eliminating ethanol as an automotive fuel, and after some research, we believe we can tag that claim as false.

          The story, as it’s typically told, starts with Henry Ford and the Model T, designed to operated on both gasoline and ethanol (along with kerosene). Rockefeller, whose Standard Oil monopoly depended on widespread automotive consumption of gasoline, saw the possibility of ethanol-powered vehicles as enough of a threat to his business to warrant a ban on ethanol under the guise of the temperance movement and Prohibition.

          Rockefeller did have a hand in establishing Prohibition, that much is true. His contributions to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union – which, in turn, used the funds to persuade U.S. Congressmen to pass the 18th Amendment and the subsequent Volstead Act – totaled millions of dollars and helped vault the temperance movement to the national stage. However, his reasons for doing so appear to have been misconstrued over the years, likely out of a desire to ascribe underhanded motives to the passing of Prohibition or to blame the lack of alternative fuel choice on a convenient villain.

          The story above suffers from a severe lack of context. Rockefeller’s commitment to the temperance movement arose long before the Model T: He was a lifelong teetotaler, mainly for religious reasons, and his wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller, was reportedly one of the founding members of the WCTU in the 1880s (not to mention that he paid his father-in-law to preach the temperance movement). And while Rockefeller’s net worth peaked in about 1913, a couple years after the Supreme Court-ordered breakup of Standard Oil, Rockefeller retired from the business in 1895 to focus on his philanthropy.”

          – Hemmings

  6. People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom.

    Freedom does not adapt to people, dictatorship does.

    Americans have the right to advocate, boycott, divest, etc. against the business models and products of free enterprises.

    Americans have the right to amend the Constitution.

    Americans (i.e. the judicial branch) do not have any right to deny constitutional rights to individuals or to “interpret” and randomly,

    arbitrarily and spontaneously modify the Constitution.

  7. Newly Discovered:

    Bernie’s Public Access Show From 1980’s

    Back in the 1980’s, Bernie Sanders was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city.  Burlington, however, is actually fairly small with a population of less than 100,000.

    During his years as Mayor, Bernie taped a regular TV program for a cable access channel.  Clips from Bernie’s program were recently aired on Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show”.  

    In these clips, Bernie attempts to interact with kids.  And absurdly Bernie comes across as a neurotic Woody Allen type.  So neurotic, in fact, that one would swear  these clips are parodies.

    One of the first clips shows Bernie with small children at a summer camp.  Insanely Bernie asks these kids if they ever tried cocaine.  It almost sounds like he wants to offer them some!

    Then Bernie changes the subject to cigarettes, asking the kids if any of them smoke.  They wonder if they’re in trouble.  One girl answers dismissively by saying, “I’m only five years old”.  Again, it plays like comedy, but this was Bernie Sanders.

    The sampling of clips continues, and in every one of them Bernie comes across as shockingly clueless.  You wonder how his career ever advanced beyond local politics in Burlington.

  8. The Saugus High School shooting lasted 16 seconds. The weapon was a pistol assembled from a kit. When students were barricaded inside classrooms, they were given scissors. Why? Because one of their lessons from active shooter drills was to arm themselves with any weapons available – scissors, chairs, etc.

    Why? Because the only thing that will stop an armed shooter is a weapon. Ideally, you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. But even active shooter drills in CA acknowledge the critical need for armed self defense. Since the overwhelming majority of schools in CA do not have armed security, students are reduced to clutching scissors.

    The response time was fast, as two sheriffs had recently dropped off their children at the school. They spun a u-y and returned to school. But it took longer than 16 seconds. The gun jammed during the shooting. The shooter cleared the jam, and then shot 4 more people before killing himself. Tragically, an armed security guard or on duty policeman was not on duty at the school entrance, where he would already be there within 16 seconds. Could the 2 lost students have been saved had help already been there, standing next to them?

    Police so rarely stop a violent crime. They pick up the pieces and solve the crime. But during a violent event, it’s up to you. The only possibility to respond to the rapidly unfolding events of a school shooting is for armed security to already be there. Even turning around in the crowded drop off line and racing back through all those cars took too long.

    He had plenty of time to do what he came there to do.

    During the Borderline shooting, he had plenty of time to do what he came there to do. One bearded guy smashed out a window and helped get the girls out. When everyone around him was out safely, he got out behind them and ran them to the underpass. There were no cops dropping from the ceiling. They arrived within 3 minutes, the fastest possible response time. The sheriff station itself is not that far away. Three minutes are an eternity while taking fire. It’s a bar and dance club with an open dance floor. Not really great cover. There’s the kitchen, but that’s where the shooter went. When confronted with armed police officers, the shooter exchanged fire. One officer was struck by both hostile and friendly fire, and died. Then the shooter killed himself. If he had not been engaged by armed police, he would have emptied those magazines into more civilians.

    Weapon: Glock.

    The only thing that stops a shooter is a firearm or some other kind of offensive measure. There are those who would make everyone helpless, in the hopes that this would stop the ancient scourge of evil killing innocents. Open borders, kits, black market, 3-D printers…you could repeal the 2nd Amendment, not care if stalkers rejoiced that they could kill the objects of their obsession easily, hunters could no longer bring home food, and no one could protect themselves from home invasion, and you would never get weapons out of the hands of criminals. Only law abiding people follow the law.

    1. It’s strangely funny, how people who are absolutely fine with the idea that their money in the bank vault is guarded by men with guns, lose their minds if you suggest that maybe we need men with guns to guard our children.

      Do they love their money more than they love their children?

      Also, why has there never been a school shooting or any other kind of “mass shooting” in Switzerland?

  9. “It is true that, in the 2007 case of District of Columbia versus Dick Anthony Heller, the Supreme Court held that ‘like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.’ But like other constitutional rights such as the freedom of speech, legally imposed limits cannot deny the right itself but only place reasonable limits on its use.”

    – Professor Turley

    For this observation alone, Justices presenting concurring opinions to the effect that “…the right secured…is not unlimited,” should have been immediately impeached, convicted and penalized for challenging the authority of the sovereign, or the Constitution, subversion, usurpation and treason.

    To posit that rights are not unlimited is demonstrably false. Nowhere does the 2nd Amendment or others state that the amendment is qualified or, otherwise, limited.

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    These related criminal Justices would have Americans believe the Constitution and Bill of Rights say things they do not.

    These related criminal Justices would infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights even as the 2nd Amendment mandates and instructs them unequivocally to not do so; that the rights “shall not be infringed.”

    2nd Amendment and all other rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities are not qualified by the Constitution and are, therefore, absolute.

    The judicial branch has no power or authority to modify the Constitution, a constitutional amendment process for which exists.

    Similarly, Article 1, Section 8, denies Congress any power to tax for redistribution of wealth or individual welfare, only “…general Welfare…” or to regulate anything other that money, the flow of commerce among jurisdictions and land and naval Forces, while the 5th Amendment right to private property is unqualified and, therefore, absolute denying Congress any power to possess or dispose of, claim or exercise dominion over private property. The entire American welfare state is illegal, antithetical and unconstitutional and the judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court, is the singular American failure.

    “[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing … To deny this would be to affirm … that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

    – Alexander Hamilton

  10. One small, insignificant contradiction:

    Michael “Money Mike” Bloomberg, who has pledged to “stop this nationwide madness,” will stop the rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities of the Constitution which are enjoyed by free Americans.

    “Money Mike” wants to deny Americans their right to keep and bears arms (for “the security of a free state”) under the 2nd Amendment to potentially save 350 people out of 2,800,000 million (0.0125%) annual deaths in America.

    Why doesn’t “Money Mike” just take away our freedom and put us in a rubber room?

  11. There should be a fun store with pistols next to every tobacco and vaping shop. Sign on the window: “Guns Are Quicker!”

    1. Show some respect.

      > George Washington was a successful tobacco farmer.

      > “Sitting Bull was renowned for his skill in close quarters fighting and collected several red feathers representing wounds sustained in battle. As word of his exploits spread, his fellow warriors took to yelling, ‘Sitting Bull, I am he!’ to intimidate their enemies during combat. The most stunning display of his courage came in 1872, when the Sioux clashed with the U.S. Army during a campaign to block construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. As a symbol of his contempt for the soldiers, the middle-aged chief strolled out into the open and took a seat in front of their lines. Inviting several others to join him, he proceeded to have a long, leisurely smoke from his tobacco pipe, all the while ignoring the hail of bullets whizzing by his head. Upon finishing his pipe, Siting Bull carefully cleaned it and then walked off, still seemingly oblivious to the gunfire around him. His nephew White Bull would later call the act of defiance ‘the bravest deed possible.'”

      – Evan Andrews, History

    1. David Benson is the God Emperor of Making Stuff Up and owes me forty-three citations (one from the OED, one from the town ordinances and two from the Old Testament), an equation and the source of a quotation, after sixty-five weeks, and needs to cite all his work from now on. — Nearer you than me, David. However, both of us are in the high risk group. I didn’t go to an annual Chinese banquet because they pack too many people into the hall and they always have guests from China. Still, my wife won two prizes, so maybe my not going was good luck for her. 😉


      You really do need to cite your work on this one. According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard as of this Sunday morning, 72 cases have been identified in the US. Most are clustered on the US West Coast. Only TWO cases are on the East Coast (1 in New York City, 1 in Boston), NONE on the US Gulf Coast. One death has happened so far, among the 6 cases in Seattle, WA.

      The population of the US is generally estimated to be 329,227,746 by the US Census Bureau. This puts the crude mortality rate for COVID-19 in the US at 1/329 million.

      The odds of anyone dying of COVID-19 who contracts it in the US are 1/72, or 1.3 percent.

      We can stop self-panicking any time now. Only someone who’s ardently praying fro an epidemic would say “COVID-19 coronavirus near you.

      me too.”

      1. Pardon me, I mis-used the term “crude mortality”. The actual crude mortality rate for COVID-19 in the US is 1/3%, OR 1/72 cases. You could argue that the crude mortality rate in Seattle is roughly 16%, but that would require better information than the sketchy figures we have so far.

        You still have to be actively praying for a pandemic in the US to say

        “COVID-19 coronavirus near you. me too.”

        when most people in the US are hundreds of miles away from an active case of COVID-19 coronavirus. It’s an unreasonable and utterly counterfactual, Russian Bot-class statement.

        1. correction (again):The actual crude mortality rate for COVID-19 in the US is 1.3%, OR 1/72 cases.

        The death toll of the swine flu puts this in some perspective. It’s possible, but seems unlikely, that the Coronavirus will claim as many victims.
        As bad as the swine flu was, I don’t recall the level of panic that you mentioned we’re seeing with the current Corona strain.
        Nor the massive containment efforts; that may be the “good news” that will keep this virus from causing the amount of harm that the swine flu pandemic caused.

        1. The current death toll owing to influenza in the US is ~6% of cases, and that is roughly what it’s been through various Presidential administrations. About twice what COVID19’s death toll is worldwide, and higher than COVID-19’s death toll (1 out of 72 cases) in the US. The New York Times struck their low blow (calling COVID-19 “Trumpvirus”) far too early. I doubt they’ll give POTUS credit for his stringent enforcement of immigration laws being a factor in our nation’s relatively low incidence of COVID-19 and low death rate among COVID-19 sufferers.

      3. Loupgarous, 2 weeks ago the virus was only in China. Now it’s on 4 continents. Those are trends to be taken seriously.

            This 2009 article notes the very rapid spread of the swine flu. Epidemiologists are probably best able to compare the rate of global spread of that pandemic with the current Coronavirus.
            I don’t remember that there were the aggressive steps taken back then to contain the virus; the quarantines, hightened awareness and monitoring this time around may be the “good news” in fighting the Coronavirus.

    1. David Benson is the God Emperor of Making Stuff Up and owes me forty-three citations (one from the OED, one from the town ordinances and two from the Old Testament), an equation and the source of a quotation, after sixty-five weeks, and needs to cite all his work from now on. – David, this is something you should become familiar with.. You are eligible.

  12. After Countless Refrains Of ‘Poor Bernie’..

    Turley Offers This:

    “A Democratic primary is no place for the factually preoccupied. Trillions have been pledged for reparations, free college tuition, free medical care and free child care, all to be funded using math that would embarrass Bernie Madoff”.

    So here Turley comes clear on what he thinks of Sanders’ agenda: ‘The math looks like a Ponzie scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff’.  I agree! Why then has Turley been writing frequent columns demanding that Democrats accept Sanders as their nominee??

    This goes to show how disengenous Turley has been with his pro-Sanders expressions of sympathy.  They were phony and condescending as I suspected all along.  The Democrats have no obligation whatsoever to take ownership of a Bernie whose last name could just as well be ‘Madoff’.

    And I have been constantly struck by the fury of Trumpers every time I note Turley’s phony sympathies.  What investment do Trumpers have in Sanders??  

    Any Democrat, with an ounce of common sense, should realize that endorsements for Sanders by staunch supporters of Trump are red flags to heed.  The fact that Trumpers see a kindred spirit in Sanders is reason enough for Democrats to nominate anyone else.

    1. Seth:

      “So here Turley comes clear on what he thinks of Sanders’ agenda: ‘The math looks like a Ponzie scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff’. I agree! Why then has Turley been writing frequent columns demanding that Democrats accept Sanders as their nominee??”

      Short answer: Professor Turley’s doing no such thing. He is observing that the pretense that primary votes mean anything in the Democratic Party is ludicrous, in the face of the “superdelegate” policy reserving delegates for the DNC-anointed candidate, and prominent DNC associates going beyond that policy to say that the DNC picks the candidate, not Democratic primary voters.

      It’s not Turley’s fault the Democratic Party advertises a primary process different than what the DNC is working to arrange. Super Tuesday may have surprises left for Joe Biden. Texas’ support for Beto O’Rourke probably portends a higher Sanders vote than pundits are predicting.

        1. Anonymous, the Superdelegates are largely composed of Democrats running in down-ballot races. They all have an interest in who tops that ballot. If Sanders doesn’t know how to pay for his agenda, no down-ballot Democrat wants him at the top.

            Seth, earlier you asked “what investment do Trumpers have in Sanders?”
            The Politico article I’ve linked was published one day before the 2016 election.
            This time around, I don’t think Trump or many of his supporters would mind if the Democrats nominate Bernie.
            Or mind if poor Bernie has a plurality of delegates but is not nominated.

        2. Anon. He is trouble for the Democrats and they know it. If nominated he will not get enough votes to win without voter fraud and may alienate voters down ticket. If not nominated the Bernie Bros will be enraged and, apparently, prone to even more violence. He is a spoiler either way.

          That said, there is no reason to nominate him. He is not a Democrat. He is an ‘Independent’ which in his case likely means Communist. They should dump him to mitigate the damage and wait for the next election.

          Bernie is a viper in the Democrat’s hope chest.

          1. Young,
            He may be “a viper in the Democrat’s hope chest”, but that viper has a BIG following among Democrats.
            I think Sanders has at least a 50-50 chance of getting a majority of delagates by the time of the Democratic Convention.
            If that’s the case, the party will back him. Even those Democrats who consider him to be a viper will view him as “our viper” and will support him.
            If Sanders has a plurality of delegates, but no one has a majority, that’s going to be a real dilemma for the Democratic Party leadership at the convention.
            If the superdelegates block him and give the nomination to someone who won fewer delgates in the primaries and caucuses, a lot of Sanders’ supporters will stay home in November.
            They raised hell in 2016 even though Clinton defeated Sanders’ unexpectedly strong showing in the primaries.
            ( Hillary has given that as one reason for her 2016 loss, but one of about 30 reasons!)
            Anyway, it should be interesting to see how things turn out between now and the end of the convention.
            And may the Democrats live in interesting times.😉

            1. Anon.

              The Democrats do live in interesting times, as will we all if the viper manages to get in the White House.

              I suppose the real battle may be to see who will run for VP in hopes the old Commie will have another heart attack or, if Biden, the old goof will forget he is president.

                There are a lot of variables, and I’ve thought about Sanders’ age and the questions about his heart.
                A cardiologist recently wrote about unreleased test results he’d like to see if he were to accurately assess Sanders’ health.
                At age 70, Trump was able to keep up one of the busiest campaign blitzes I’ve ever seen, especially toward the end of the general election.
                He may or may not be able to do the same at age 74, but I don’t think that either Sanders or Biden would be able to “outcampaign” Trump.
                Another big variable is the economic impact of the Coronavirus.
                I thought the odds of a 2020 recession were pretty low prior to the quarantines, factory shutdowns, etc. due to the
                Coronavirus, but it looks like there’ll be a significant global economic impact.
                If we’re in a recession by the November election, or if voters believe that we’re in a recession, that’s a high hurdle for an incumbent president seeking reelection to clear.

                1. Anon. A recessiom may not hurt Trump if it is clear he is doing everything he can to relieve it. The perception that FDR was trying to help kept him in office through hard times. Oddly, his decisions tended to lengthen the Depression in this country but that was not immediately obvious.

                  1. Young,
                    Trump could win even with a recession or recession fears, but I think it’d reduce his chances a lot.
                    FDR was fortunate enough, politically, to come into office at the depths of the Great Depression; voters took it out on Hoover,.who was unlucky enough to come into office at the peak of the booming 1920s.
                    Which was heading straight for a fall. I think if FDR had run and been elected in 1928 instead if 1932, be would have suffered the same fate as Hoover.
                    Hoover was in office for only about 6 months when things started to unravel, and I think the speculative 1920s set the stage for the Great Depression be walked right into.

                    1. and I think the speculative 1920s set the stage for the Great Depression be walked right into.

                      Margin buying of securities was a structural defect, as was the prevalence of 5-year balloon mortgages. However, the most severe problem was the monetary straightjacket and the otiose reaction to successive waves of bank failures. Had the U.S. followed Britain off the gold standard in September 1931, the economic contraction would have been much less severe.

  13. The only flicker of doubt that I have about the professor’s very good article is his belief that red flag laws will pass constitutional scrutiny.

    If their enforcement is left in the hands of law enforcement bureaucrats and politicians and they are enforced arbitrarily and ex parte and involve raids seizing property without compensation it is difficult to see how they comport with an entire body of solid law. Yet, I think that is exactly how they would be enforced.

    1. The utter lack of due process in most “red flag” laws is another avenue of attack. Accusers face no accountability for cases such as the ones in Colorado and California in which groundless accusations (the one in Colorado being completely fictitious, based on actual lies by the accuser) are the basis for denial of enumerated civil rights. No one’s going to jail for lying about someone to trigger confiscation of their firearms under a red flag law, and that’s the glaring omission in such laws.

      1. One of many glaring omissions though some in government don’t mind the lies so long as they serve their interests.

  14. I initially agreed with red flag laws, but upon further research, the scope for harassing people, especially conservatives, would be a temptation too great for some to ignore. Hannity would be flooded by red flag warnings, for example.

    There is already a process to adjudicate someone mentally unstable, which would enter him into NICS. The problem is with the most publicized mass shootings was that either the process was not followed, or in a couple of rare instances, there were no warning signs or motives at all. The Stoneman Douglass mass murderer posted on Youtube that, “I want to be a professional mass shooter.” His user name was his real name, spelled correctly. Someone reported it to the FBI, but the FBI could not crack the case. There were plenty of opportunities to Baker Act him.

    So many people confidently declare that certain laws will stop mass shootings. Most of the time they know nothing about weapons. I got into an argument with someone over the difference between fully automatic and semi-automatic, and it was like talking to a brick wall. He was convinced that his idea would fix the entire thing, but it would do nothing. Sometimes the most uninformed are the most vocal. Or if someone is an expert in one area, they believe they are qualified on all matters.

    No one wants innocent people killed. If you support individuals driving cars, you don’t support drunk driving. The disagreement is over whether or not the right to an armed self defense is a basic human right. I think that the right to defend yourself is one of the our basic, intrinsic rights, which is why it is encoded in the Constitution. That joke going around has a grain of truth. The Second Amendment was not created because the deer were coming. The police do not arrive in time to stop a violent crime from occurring. There is no time. You cannot find a phone, call 911, explain the situation, wait for the call to go out, for police to drive to your location, assess the situation, gain entry, and engage. A violent criminal has enough time to do what he came there to do. The police are there to solve the crime. During a violent crime, you are on your own and time slows down. If the country disarms then anyone who wants to do harm, like a stalker, can rest assured that his victim is vulnerable.

    If Democrats want to disarm America, then they need to go through the process of amending the Constitution. Eventually, they might succeed.

    Firearms are very dangerous tools. My father stopped a nighttime break in with one. I kept a rifle with me after a run in with a mountain lion, who had attacked the horses I was taking care of prior. We shoot rattlers with them in summer. The number of rattlers killed at my cousin’s place was 25 one summer. Occasionally mountain lions take livestock where we live. So if you have to go out to investigate a disturbance, you take a rifle just in case. I would never hurt a mountain lion unless it tried to hurt me or mine, but luck favors the prepared. I have had other reasons why I was glad to have a firearm. But people who live in a safe suburb might never experience any of those situations. If they never felt a need to protect themselves, they might not care or understand why anyone else would feel the need for self defense. Maybe they should spend the night in a really bad neighborhood apartment, having to walk a long, long way from their car to their flimsy door, where gang members are neighbors, when the cops feel like a galaxy away.

  15. Let’s start with Hand Guns united whatever. Children killed with hand guns. They count as children every one up to age 20 year 364 days. of age. Like most left wing socialist fascists they are members of the stupid party. And you wonder where idiots like Ocasio, Feinstein, Pelosi and Schumer come from?? They are also the party that supports legalizing drugs.

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