Sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong – US gun laws

You all know why I’m writing this now: the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. I’ve never heard of the place but I don’t need to. There are small towns all over America, England, Sweden, China and Australia that are just like it, I’m sure.

I’m probably going to put the noses of a few American friends out of joint with this one. That’s OK. I choose to remain silent every time I hear them talk/write about the virtues of gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment. I don’t argue with them, even though I disagree. I know that it’ll cause a bunfight that no-one will win.

I thought about remaining silent this time, too, but the tragedy in this case is so wretched, so deep and so needless that I felt I had to say something. Put it this way – when considering the do-I or don’t-I question, I felt like I had to come up with a reason more compelling than “it’ll annoy some friends.”

The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution:

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.

This amendment was passed in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. Let me be brief: they should chuck this old, antiquated sucker of a law out and only allow firearms in the hands of those who genuinely need them. And in the case of those who claim to need them but are outside law enforcement or the military, they should satisfy a test proving they’re capable of responsibly handling them.

There is absolutely no reason for regular citizens to have guns.

Military? Yes.

Law enforcement? Yes.

National Guard? Yes. Under conditions.

Farmers? Yes. Under conditions.

Sporting Shooters? Yes. Under strict conditions.

Why else do regular citizens need access to guns? And why the hell do they need access to high powered rifles and access to semi-automatic weapons capable of shooting tens or even hundreds of rounds per minute? Why should you be able to buy them over the counter at Wal-Mart, or receive them when you open a bank account or buy a car? It’s just nuts.

The truth is just about anyone outside those people listed above don’t need a firearm. They want them. And that causes a whole bunch of mythical reasons to pop up to justify gun ownership in the United States. None of these myths/justifications stand scrutiny from anyone living in a country with strict gun controls. ABSOLUTELY none of these myths/justifications will comfort the parents of the twenty dead kids from Newtown, Connecticut (all of them either six or seven years old).

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people

Technically true, but bullshit. People do kill people, but people with easy access to multiple and/or high powered firearms kill more people than others.

There are unstable and mentally ill people everywhere. It seems to be getting more prevalent every year as the world moves forward at breakneck speed. We’re less family- and community-oriented than we used to be because for many of us, our communities are moving more and more to the virtual world. We can stop that, which is unlikely, or we can deal with the consequences. One of those consequences is a growing number of disconnected people. We can lock them away if they show a nervous tic or we can develop strategies to re-connect with them.

The one thing we shouldn’t do is give them easy access to guns.

Defensive firepower can’t be concentrated in the hands of the government

Bullshit. The United States is the world’s biggest and most robust democracy with the world’s most powerful armed forces. How many of those soldiers are going to abide orders to kill their own citizens indiscriminately if a hardcore nut job gets elected President and decides to turn dictator?

The scenario is absolutely laughable. But even if it weren’t, even if there were a need for people to rise and resist the government, don’t you think it could be done without guns in the hands of the citizenry at the rate of more than 850 firearms per 1000 people? Citizens in Tunisia overthrew a brutal regime, an occurrence that marked the beginning of what we call the Arab Spring. Tunisia has the lowest rate of gun ownership in the world, at 1 per 1000 citizens.

And remember, a proper change in gun culture wouldn’t include the cessation of the National Guard – the citizens who form the militia (and the most likely intended subject of the Second Amendment IMHO). It should include some controls over where, when and how they use their firearms in day to day life, that’s all.

We need to protect our country from invasion

Bullshit. America being invaded is about as likely as me competing in the 100m sprint at the Olympics. Less likely, in fact. That’s because of your armed forces. Your militia is secondary. And remember, if a proper solution were to be found, it would be one that wouldn’t discontinue your militia anyway.

I like to hunt or shoot at targets

Get another hobby.

Seriously, try telling one of the parents from this latest shooting that it’s OK for this shooter to have a gun because you’ve got to protect someone else’s right to go shoot a deer. I’m sure they’ll agree.

Better yet, create real regulations where those who want to hunt CAN hunt, but only after they pass a set of rigorous tests in order to earn the right to hunt.

If we take away guns then we have to take away (insert other thing that can kill)

Bullshit. People die driving cars, it’s true. But cars are made for another purpose and provide enormous benefits to society.

Guns are made to kill. That’s the only reason they were invented: to make one man’s army more deadly than the other guy’s army. You don’t use a gun to dice onions. You don’t use it to till the soil. You don’t use it to paint a canvas. A gun only has one serious, primary use. That that use away from crackpots. Kids shouldn’t die because of someone’s perceived right to own something that kills.

——

I live in country where, thankfully, I don’t ever have to think about whether the guy acting all twitchy behind me at the supermarket is carrying a firearm.

I can remember only two mass-shooting incidents in Australia in my lifetime – the Hoddle Street shootings in 1987 and the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. In both those years, I lived in the capital cities of the states where those shootings happened, so maybe I’m the problem!

They’re just the ones that stick out in my mind, however. There are more.

5 people in the Kimberley in 1987. 8 more in the Queen St massacre the same year (1987 was a bad year). 5 dead in Surry Hills, Sydney, in 1990. 7 dead in Strathfield a year later. 6 people dead on the Central Coast of NSW in 1992 and then the biggest one of all, 26 people killed at Port Arthur, Tasmania, at the hands of Martin Bryant in 1996.

We’ve had a history of gun violence in mass proportions, too. But we changed things.

After Port Arthur we had a gun buy-back and enacted new legislation to outlaw many of the weapons used in those shootings. We had a national soul-searching and today, gun numbers are down, the types of guns that people can buy are restricted and the best part of all, we’ve not had a single mass-shooting save for one incident in 2002 at a University in Melbourne, where two people were killed by a student.

I’d encourage anyone with an open mind to read this story about Japan and their gun ownership culture and laws. Do you think Japan is oppressed? That the Japanese lack freedom or prosperity? Do you think they’re insecure?

The Japanese have a history that makes the Wild West look like playschool. They made a national decision to change.

A lot of what I’ve heard in the US so far is denial and name-calling.

TAKE THE GUNS OUT OF PEOPLE’S HANDS.

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89 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Infintly more strict gun control laws in my counrty is certainly not the only answer but to any sane person it has to be the obvious first step. I’d ask every gun owner who cries that something rightful will have been taken from them to think about how the families of those 26 people killed yesterday feel tonight. The sense of loss doesn’t f*cking come close.

  2. Very good post, Steve.

    I live in Ireland and, to my knowledge, nobody owns guns. If they do, it is certainly something rare. Only the military, *some* police and criminals have guns. In my whole life in Ireland, I have seen one gun. This was when I visited the Army barracks back around 1999 and I was allowed to hold a gun. I was amazed at how lightweight it was. How much it felt like a toy…

    I had the chance to travel across the US back in 2001. I came to a place called Cody, as in Buffalo Bill Cody. One of the tourist attractions was a gun museum. A place for boys and girls to come and see. The complete opposite of Ireland. Overall, my time in the Midwest was actually a little scary.

    Anyway, enough is enough. I agree. Amend the amendment.

  3. I couldn’t agree less. I am an American. I don’t own a gun, but the 2nd Amendment was put in place to protect citizens from the *government.* The Amendment is a fundamental part of America and won’t be changed. If you don’t like it, that’s fine — don’t carry a gun or move out of the US (Australia is an option — but it doesn’t look like the gun ban there is all that successful — http://www.captainsjournal.com/2012/07/23/do-gun-bans-reduce-violent-crime-ask-the-aussies-and-brits/). The fact is, gun crimes have gone down in the US in the last 40 years, whether you like it or not (http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/26/report-in-virginia-more-guns-less-crime/).

    1. George, please don’t resort to quoting selective statistics to support your case. You know, lies, damn lies and statistics. If gun crime has gone down in the last 40 years, that’s a wonderful thing. Why not take it down more? Deaths by firearms are still massive in the US, much more so per 1000 people than any other developed nation. And the craziest thing is it’s all so unnecessary.

      Protection from the government? Seriously?

      A) You live in one of the world’s most robust democracies. You vote for the government and even if your candidate doesn’t get in, there are only two in the race (effectively) and they’re not that different when the rubber hits the road.

      B) If, by chance, Saddam Hussein’s grandson managed to fool you all over a prolonged period of time and become President then quickly try to become dictator, how do you think that would work out?

    2. George B,

      you are full of shit, multiple ways, not to mention you are the classic stupid gun freak with your typical stupid lies.
      First the Second Amendment is NOT there for ordinary citizens, only ill-educated dimwits and the NRA-scum would try to argue this retarded line, it CLEARLY SPELLS OUT THE MILITIA part – IF citizens team up to form one THEN they should have the right to arm their militia. And that, my little NRA-paid stupid shill friend, is ALSO SUBJECT TO REGULATIONS so stop with your laughable dumb B.S., nobody’s buying your NRA propaganda crap.
      Second GUN KILLINGS DONE BY NON-CAREER CRIMINALS ARE UP, thanks to the disgusting, profit-hungry NRA scum who is like a cancer in this nation – they need to be dealt with accordingly, surgically remove them or kemo, (ir)radiated etc (=constant flow of extremely expensive, giant civil lawsuits againat all these scumbags.)
      Lastly CHANGE IS COMING, YOU BET – WE, the normal people, ARE FED UP WITH YOU, STUPID GUN-FREAK IDIOTS who endanger our lives. Things change slow here in the US but SURE THEY DO EVENTUALLY – and NRA is now pinned to the ground, these killings make their disgusting profiteering totally reprehensible and indefensible – you and your kind, the pathetic liars and gun freaks WILL LOSE THIS AT THE END. And that’s the way it should be – you freaks enjoyed free ride way too long on our account.

      1. Szlevi,

        My passive aggressive response – no-one ever convinced anyone in a civil discussion by using all-caps. And you’re not welcome to shout at guests on this website.

        My direct response – you’re an asshole and you’re not welcome here. I don’t care if we’re on the same side of this discussion, no-one comes into my house and shouts at my guests.

      1. If you have not heard it before you will in the USA.

        We have an out of control government that is not delivering the will of the people who are paying for it. Well paying for the part we are not borrowing from the Chinese. Now we are headed for more taxes to pay for government we don’t want. The British did this to us once before. We have a thing called states rights here in the USA.

        1. So you need guns to defend against the IRS – or any elected government you personally don’t like? Sorry, I respect your opinion but I do not see any coherent logic in it.

    3. I agree with you George in one thing only – that the 2nd Amendment won’t be changed – not in the forseeable future, anyway. That’s a shame.

      Though I respect your American history and understand that centuries ago, you guys had a need to own firearms to protect yourselves from your colonial goverment, the current political situation is quite different and you needn’t worry – the Brits are not comming back.

      There are serious problems with the 2nd Amendment, however. The most important is, that with so many armed people out there, it creates a sense of insecurity in many of them. Those yet unarmed then think, they need to be armed as well to protect themselves and as such are only adding to this self-caused problem. Whether you confess it or not, the 2nd Amendment interferes with the basic human right to live in safety, so the real question is, which right is more sacred: a right to live safely and without fear or the right to be able to kill?

      The real bad guys out there are the arms industries in the US. Their present and future power and influence depend on how much they can produce, sell and earn. Their very last concern is, how many lives are going to be lost because of that. More to the point: they don’t give a s**t, and are only happy to manipulate people into thinking they are in danger and thus need to be armed.

      And about that militia myth: how do you stop a tank with a rifle? The answer: you don’t.

  4. Hi I live in the USA and in my opinion guns have taken on religion status. I call it the religion of the gun. It seem like the more guns someone owns the more paranoid they become. I live in the Bay Area of CA. and tune in to the local Blogs and it is always the same after one of these shootings. The same remarks more people need to carry guns to kill the bad guys etc. I drove by a local gun store on my way to dinner tonight and it was standing room only in the store. My wife could not believe it.
    My daughter and her husband moved up to the sierra foothills a couple of years ago and now and into the whole gun thing even buying our grand daughters at seven years small rifles. everything now with them is anti government. It as I say becomes a religion.

  5. I totally disagree with you. I do not own any guns. Never have. I feel it is a basic right to be able to own a gun if you so wish.

    It may become very important in the future.

    Non-US citizens, and non-US military veterans normally do not understand.

    1. Sorry Dick, but I’m going to have to press you for more than “non-US people wouldn’t understand”.

      We live in societies, too. Democracies. We have armed forces, we have borders. Here in Oz we have 100,000,000 Indonesians just a few hundred kilometers north of us, with whom we have some ideological differences. We have a need for defence, but we don’t have an automatic right to own a gun and I wouldn’t want regular people to, either.

      Our worlds aren’t that far apart. It’s a basic right to live, breathe, have access to water and freedom. I don’t see how it’s basic human right to have something designed to kill just a few hundred years ago.

    2. Okay Dick, but doesn’t it seem a bit excessive the way the 2nd amendment now includes such powerful weapons? I say that precisely in the context of these shootings, because the guns they had all those years back in history wouldn’t have made it so easy to kill dozens of people in a few minutes – they were more to protect your own being. Now it’s more disproportionate, it’s so easy to make such an enormous damage to others.

      I guess there are two ways of approaching the problem:
      – one is maintaining balance with the government – which is insane (what about those small nuclear weapons…), the only sane way would maybe be to cut back in the arsenal that the government holds and contracts it for development.
      – the other way is looking at the proportions of (fire) power that made the amendment viable in those times, and being open to that it maybe isn’t viable anymore. Laws need to change when conditions change. Not necessarily because your ideals change, but because maintaining those ideals – the original spirit of the laws – require different means. That – maintaining and cultivating one’s ideals – one ought and should do.

      I am also curious about the US army veterans and what it is that only they understand about the importance of weapons? As a non-US, Finnish (a country with a history in self-defense) citizen, I don’t doubt that veterans have enormous understanding to contribute to politics, and to maintaining some prized ideals. But I wonder if thee aren’t more critical ways of keeping the government at check – such as limiting the ways that corporate interests can take it over.

      1. Oh, and in the context of Finland, which now unfortunately also has a history in school shootings (I guess one represses the memory best one can, until one has a kid…), I’d like to add that I understand the argument that those who want to can always find a way to hurt others: those responsible for the two main (!) mass killings here both used .22 calibre pistols, and passed all controls. This is also why I don’t think you can solve problems with making laws – or even sticking to upholding old laws, like the 2nd amendment – because one ends up polarizing people in for/against camps that really don’t understand each other, rather than actually improving the situation much.

        That’s the obvious elephant in this room isn’t it? There’s a culture of violence, where it’s “cool” to kill, which probably is quite a different thing than the gun and hunting culture people like J McGuire below write about. Maybe it is that we need to make our minds up about the different meanings of guns in our societies is about?

  6. Swade nailed it! You’ve articulated exactly my thoughts, and echoed many conversations I’ve had over the last few days. I remember where I was in 96 when Bryant shot up port Arthur. I was 15 years old. That moment still has profound effect on me and many others I know. Despite not knowing anyone who was killed I’ve been back once, Libby won’t go there. I’m proud Australia sought and created change, as far as comments made below criticizing the benefit of that program, it has worked, and our friend below really must look into the numbers. The numbers, facts simply can’t be argued with. Australia ( and many other nations with similar laws) yearly murders involving guns are under 100 a year the USA stands at sometng like 9000. My son is kindergarten age and this one really broke my heart, it’s prompted me also to speak out where able. From an outsiders perspective America must decide what it values most. The right of their children to life and safety, or the right to carry a weapon. Both simply cannot co-exist. It seems to me the right to bear arms is killing the very people it was designed to protect. I’m praying Americas leaders can have courage to make the right decision…… A decision for change.

    1. “The right of their children to life and safety, or the right to carry a weapon. Both simply cannot co-exist.”

      yes they do, I carried my Beretta today while I did shopping and I didnt murder any kids.

      1. I think it is scary that you feel the need to take a pistol with you when you go shopping. What are you hoping for? Gunfights?

        1. Not hopeful for one but since its my right and i choose to be able to defend myself. In light of all the events recently I dont think its being obscene.

          1. The problem is that you even have to feel you need to defend yourself while shopping. Are you sure you are shopping at the right stores? Neither gun, nor sword are needed where I shop.

          2. I’m with Hans… why would anyone feel the need to carry a gun while shopping?

            Perhaps I ask this naively, coming from a country (just north of you) where virtually nobody would ever do that… America may be “the land of the free”, but I certainly wouldn’t feel that way if I felt I needed to carry a gun to go shopping!

            Do you have a lot of training and experience in how to use your gun? I hope so, for your own safety!

  7. When horrible things like this happens in the US, I always wonder myself why there never ever seems to be any law-abiding citizen around that can just pull out their weapon for self-protection and kill the bastard when the massacre starts.

  8. I am fully with you, Swade. Fully.

    It is, however, too late. Too many heavy arms are in existence in the USA, and that won’t change. You had to convert the US into a military dictatorship (which some say they have already turned to in the last decade) for several years, with potentially thousands of dead, to confiscate all the weapons that are dispersed throughout the country. Millions of soldiers and policemen would have to scutinise every forest, every lake, every home to find weapons some fanatics or criminals have hidden away. imho, not possible. And weapons don’t break down like electronics gadgets. They remain usable for decades, possible centuries.
    So, the US society will have to accept occasional slaughters.

    1. I fear you’re right, Thyl, but they could still take steps towards the future. It’s about the message you send, the tone you set, the example that you give. It might take years to bring about real change, but as they say: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

  9. Human life should be protected at all costs, and the vast majority of the 85,000,000 law-abiding U.S. gun owners killed no one yesterday.

    There are a *lot* of firearms in the US, and a lot being used for illegal purposes. One problem is that disarming a population that hunts for food would be both extremely difficult and inciting. Yes, many of us still do, while I now work in cloud computing my parents and siblings still supplement their diet with legally taken game.

    Also without the ability to confiscate or destroy all of these ‘unwanted’ firearms in one day any attempti at it could make things much worse before (or if) it made things better. Newtown was unfathomably tragic, and because that unstable person had firearms (legal or not) and every law abiding adult within 100 feet of that building couldn’t its likely worse than it needed to be. One legally owned firearm in the hands of a trained user in Norway could have changed many of the 84 lives taken there.

    As a retired US Marine, perhaps seeing what happens when criminals have access to weaponry and the general populace does not has colored my opinion. My small town doesn’t have a special reaction squad because of people like me, they have one because another small town not too far away lost 2 officers with one critically injured at a meth house. Drugs are outlawed yet even here I could get anything I wanted without much trouble. The legal and paramilitary attempts to stop the drug trade are well known yet have mostly created new violence, is it likely that trying to stop legal gun ownership would fare better?

    1. DW – A few questions out of genuine curiosity.

      What sort of actions has the special reaction squad answered? Is the group legally recognised, a formal community organisation?

      I didn’t know such groups existed.

      On your earlier point, one of the things I’d like to research if I had the time is the number of potential mass-killings that have been stopped by a citizen with a firearm on the scene. Maybe if we knew more about that, there’d be a better understanding of the pro-gun position.

      My guess is that these events happen (are most likely ‘planned’) in such a way so as to avoid or minimise the potential for intervention.

      1. Before that will be successful (stopping assaults by passers-by) I believe that one has to transform into a warrior. A warrior is a person who is not only technically able to handle a weapon, but is much more. He/She must develop an instinct for a situation, must be ice cold, lightning fast in making decisions, and finally, must be able to point at someone he might even know, and shot him/her. He must have no fear, also not for his own life (maybe the most important ability of a good warrior). This takes years to learn.

        Personally, I would not want to live in a society of warriors.

        1. I think that’s similar to the point of view Japan came from (see the article linked in the text) when they initiated their legislation.

  10. Normally I really really HATE when foreigners meddle with the 2nd Amendment and offer their solutions to an American issue. Swade however is a friend and I respect his opinion but would have preferred he keep this out of the spotlight. We as Americans, ( well most of us) not blab about how Norway’s gun laws did nothing to prevent the mass killings a few years ago. Maybe if one of those citizens were armed…. maybe.

    So soon after this senseless killing so many are quick to point fingers instead of looking at root causes. WHAT WOULD MAKE SOMEONE DO THIS?? I cont look at a chainsaw and say ” i hate people today, i think i’ll go cut a few down” Something in this kids head was wired wrong and if the gun was not there, he could have and would have found another way to commit mass killings. Lets be frank, I could build a IED that would wipe out a crowd using things I could buy at any normal store.
    I grew up with firearms in the house. My father taught me how to shoot at a very young age with a .22 and a .44 Magnum. I was also taught right from wrong, to trust in God along with firearms safety. I have a Federal Firearms license, a concealed carry permit and carry my 9mm Beretta very often. I am a member of the US Military and have competed professionally and personally in shoot matches. I am a life member of the NRA. I am a safe and responsible citizen.
    When i met my wife she hated guns. After some teaching and understanding, she bought one of her own and we still shoot at a couple often.
    All of this being said, I own quite a few AK-47 variant rifles and a AR-15. . They are all locked in a very stout gun safe. ( By the way, This should be a requirement in the USA, own a gun, own a safe)
    WHY do I have such guns?? Well, I like them, plain and simple. None of them are “assault rifles” by definition.
    I enjoy changing out the hand guards, pistol grip and sling to make my Bulgarian AK look like a East German MPi…. or maybe next week it will be a Polish AKM.
    It is MY CHOICE, for the same reason people have super fast cars, in a nation where the federal speed limit is 65 MPH. Its not needed but people like them, why cant it be that simple? Ban Alcohol and Fast cars… One Bite at a time…

    DO YOU REALLY THINK BANNING THEM WILL MAKE THE CRIMINALS TURN THEM IN???
    Granted these guns were designed for war in the original configuration but my guns never have killed anyone.
    People who are so fast to ban guns never learned to shoot, never have learned how to control breathing, trigger pull and sight picture. Its a challenge just like Golf or tennis but yes, with a little more danger.
    This shooting and all others are terrible and shameful. However what if we banned all cars and alcohol when a drunk driver plows into a school bus or crowded bar? I know this will be misconstrued as a bad comparison, but is it?? Look at the death rate with drunken driving.
    9/11 showed us you didnt need a gun to kill thousands.
    Khobar Towers, Federal Building in OKC… and others..
    We are Americans not by following the lead of Europe but by handling it our way. Like us or not, we’re not going to change just because it’s chic to be “euro”. Enemies of the 2nd A say the founders never envisioned such rifles… my argument is I doubt they envisioned a Government so powerful and a country so lacking of a moral compass.
    If you were in a store where 10 criminals blocked the door and started shooting one by one would you want everyone to be disarmed or would you want someone like me with you? I am NOT saying everyone should own guns, we have PLENTY gun laws that are simply not enforced…
    My guns never hurt anyone, please leave them alone.

    Swade, I love ya man even if we disagree. If you come to the USA, Id love to take you to the local range and allow you a chance to fire my AK and others! You’d see not all gun owners are crazy.

        1. As Swade had to point out earlier today…

          “My passive aggressive response – no-one ever convinced anyone in a civil discussion by using all-caps. And you’re not welcome to shout at guests on this website.”

          Please try to discuss in a polite manner when you visit someones blog.

  11. Steven, We’re sick, sick, sick, sick about this. I’m an ex US Marine Corp officer. I respect guns and certainly enjoyed firing at rats at the local dump when in college and refining my accuracy on the shooting range. But I would never have one in my home now, unless perhaps I lived in a rural area and needed one for varmits or hunting. The gun culture (religion) in the US is out of control and can not be and will not be stopped. Each of these outrages seems to be worse than the last,but too many of our politicians are in the pocket of the NRA and scared to do anything. The best that we can hope for, and only if we’re really, really lucky, it that there may be some regulation of assault type weapons, or clip sizes, or background checks, but no one is going to take guns away here.

    And the 2nd Amendment can be read in many different ways. Obviously gun lovers simply stop at the phrase “the right of the citizens to bear arms”, but many think that this goes back to the days when the states needed citizens with arms that they could call up into their militias and is basically defunct today. Aparently, scholars even debate the meaning based on where the commas are placed. If you want to get a sense of the history and wording around the second amendment, you might try this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    1. And why can’t there be laws about having biometric locks on guns so that only authorized people can use them? Why can’t people be licensed to own and use guns only with strict regulations ? Why can’t the size, the caliber, the type of ammunition, the capacity of the clip, etc. be regulated without keeping legitimate hobbyists and hunters from losing their guns? If an AK-47 is legal, should a 50 cal machine gun be legal, should a 105mm howitzer be legal, a tank? Smart people should be able to find some reasonable solution, but I fear they won’t.

        1. Not very well, I’m afraid, but if we have them, why isn’t there a law that they be kept in a locked safe as you do? Why should they be able to be purchased without licensing or really, really strict background checks. Hey, even a car is locked, drivers are tested and licensed, speeds are regulated, autos have governmental mandated safety features. Read Nick Kristof’s piece in todays NYTimes comparing gun regulation to auto regulation and what it has done for reducing the death toll per miles driven by 90% since the 1950s. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/opinion/sunday/kristof-do-we-have-the-courage-to-stop-this.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

          1. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. As somebody who’s studied media I wonder how much gun advertising skews the editorial line of those places that carry their ads. Maybe one ought to limit advertising? – those know how to deal with guns safely as a part of their sane pastimes will certainly know how to find what they like without ads being all over the place. I know this may sound pretty naive in the face of gun shows, NRA and Hollywood movies, but I still wonder.

  12. I just read your “Comments” post. When I read this post last night, before any comments were up, I though “Wow, there’s going to be trouble in the Comments section!” even though I agree with everything you said. Hughw makes some valid points though. Drug laws have certainly failed, except maybe for the Drug Lords who benefit by the laws. While there is no immediate cure, I would certainly like to see a push and movement in the right direction, whatever that direction is. Thanks for having the courage to put you well-reasoned opinion out there. Discussion is good.

  13. Gun ads, Ive never seen them anywhere but Gun magazines and TV shows for the hunter/ shooter.
    Hollywood glorifys guns… the casual gun owner does not.

    1. Thanks, was wondering about that. Guess there are not many shortcuts in this issue – though certainly the way will have to be walked.

      1. Sadly people DO sell guns illegally and that is the problem. People do not follow the law and sometimes people do so knowingly in order to make a profit.

  14. Swade,
    The problem is in the USA there are so many guns and bad people have them. If you want you can rely solely on the police and government to protect you here, but ultimately they will fail you. If I lived in a country where there are no guns I would have a knife to protect my family but here bad guys have guns so I will have my gun. In this country we have freedoms and with this freedom crime is more prevalent. We do not want to invade people’s rights to privacy, etc so we have criminals who take advantage of this.

    Also, we are a country of trying to mainstream, coddle and not offending anyone so criminals and crazies use this to their advantage.

    As a country (USA) we have to decide what the balance is between our freedoms and safety. It is a constant battle and it will continue as we try and find a balance. Our freedoms and openness were taken advantage of on 9/11 so we took action and shortly thereafter people started complaining about the government listening to foreigners’ phone calls, etc. It is something that will go back and forth and hopefully not too far to one side.

    1. G’day Sledge,

      We have the same freedoms you do. Many countries do. There will always, always be crime. That’s a national, cultural issue that afflicts all societies. What you might be able to tackle a bit more of is senseless mass tragedies like this one.

      Incidentally, these crimes can happen anywhere. Mass killings aren’t a US thing, they’re a global thing. It’s just that they’re disproportionately represented in the US, especially compared with other developed nations and this most recent one in Newtown, combined with gun laws that non-US people simply don’t seem to understand, is the catalyst for this discussion.

  15. First Amendment, Freedom of speech, I doubt the founding fathers imagined a world where people would dress up as Vaginas t0 make a statement. I doubt they would imagine a world so crass as to call someone a “F’er” or N word would be so socially tolerated even if disgusting. Just saying, if you want to re-write the constitution, lets look at ALL of the amendments.

    1. Why do you have to look at ALL the amendments at once? It’s just not rational. Surely a modern society is capable of considering issues in isolation and weighing up the pros and cons of each.

      I hear about the frustrations people have with US politicians all time, but isn’t one of those frustrations about things that get appended to legislation – saying you can pass this bill if you include [insert interest group issue here] with it.

      Why perpetuate that?

  16. “I drove by a local gun store on my way to dinner tonight and it was standing room only in the store” – Isn’t it sad that for a large amount of people they believe the only way to stop gun violence is to go and buy a gun. With that in mind then surely the country with the highest numbers of guns per capita should be the safest? That country is the US, the same country with gun homicide rates 15 times higher than all other western countries.

    http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2007/en/Small-Arms-Survey-2007-Chapter-02-annexe-4-EN.pdf
    http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

    1. Are you insinuating that’s a complicated form JM? Would take me less than five minutes to fill it out and the seller about the same. And Social Security number is optional? But more important question is how through are the people (or database software) who are using this form to do a background check?

  17. and to politely add more to the discussion. Here in PA, it is legal to sell a Long arm ( rifle, shotgun, ect) to another PA resident so long as the BUYER is allowed to purchase the firearm without doing a background check. So I could sell my neighbor a shotgun, no check needed. Personally I would never sell a rifle to someone without proof of ID and a LTCF ( License to carry firearms) issued by the state.
    The burden is on the BUYER to know whether he/she is legally allowed to own it. ALL handguns from citizen to citizen MUST go to a dealer where the check and be performed.
    ALL firearms transactions from a license holder to a customer MUST go through the paperwork.
    Machine guns and assault rifles ( FULL AUTO) I cannot begin to say how terribly expensive this is. Most full auto guns run over $16,000+ and requires extensive background check which takes nearly 6 months, $200 tax and other costs. I know of no instance where a legally owned machine gun was used in a crime. I have met guys who own these types of guns, most are lawyers, retired law enforcement, ect. Sure there might be some unsavory owners of full auto guns but just because they look like a biker does not make them evil.
    The Gun show” loophole” not true. In PA if you are a dealer you MUST do a NICS check for each buyer. If you are a individual selling off a few rifles/ shotguns you may sell to another PA resident who shows required documents. If you are selling a personal handgun you MUST have a dealer do the NICS check, period.
    I hope this helps people understand that it’s simply not a vending machine for guns. I have seen the undercover sting operations and they are usually so one sided without producing the state law. I cannot help some people sell guns illegally, go after them. Technically I could sell my AK to another PA resident only asking if they are allowed to own firearms. I would never do it so carelessly but as of now it’s the law. I would not object to this being changed where ALL guns, long or short have a background check. $10 is cheap insurance for a clear conscience.

  18. The problem is you can make as many laws as you want but many of these mass killings the people were not supposed to have a gun in the first place – mental defect, criminal, juvenile or illegal immigrant. We have laws and regulations in effect and they need to be followed and enforced. Our country cant stop the flow of tons of cocaine, run a post office or balance a budget but some want us to trust the government enough to take our guns away and to protect us.

    1. Excellent article, Greg. It IS the core of the problem and I don’t think it’s going to go away without some sort of active effort. Who needs to make that effort? I’m not sure, but it’s not going anywhere on its own.

      1. Sadly this culture glorifies violence on TV, in the movies, in the music. As a nation we are becoming more polarized to our own sides.

        The left in the country are always about taking away the rights and crushing the beliefs of the right yet they yield nothing in which they hold dear. This causes resentment, hatred and distrust of our elected officials.

  19. Just woke up. Thanks to everyone for keeping things civil. Some great commentary here and I plan to respond to a few individual ones later today.

    For starters, however, here’s something I read in the newspaper online this morning. In an Australian paper, but syndicated from the US.

    The headline: Facts for the debate America has to have. It covers issues from both sides of the discussion.

    1. Shooting sprees are not rare in the US. Mother Jones has tracked and mapped every shooting spree in the past three decades. ”Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii,” they found. And in most cases, the killers had obtained their weapons legally.

    2. Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings in the past 50 years happened in the US. In second place is Finland, with two entries.

    3. Lots of guns don’t necessarily mean lots of shootings, as you can see in Israel and Switzerland. As David Lamp from the Cato Institute writes, ”In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a licence to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel ‘have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States’.”

    4. Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened since 2006. That doesn’t include the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

    5. America is an unusually violent country. But it’s not as violent as it used to be. Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, in July made a graph of ”deaths due to assault” in the US and other developed countries. The US is a clear outlier, with rates well above other countries. As Healy writes, ”The most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the US is than other OECD countries … and (2) the degree of change – and recently, decline – there has been in the US.”

    6. Gun ownership in the US is declining. ”For all the attention given to America’s culture of guns, ownership of firearms is at or near all-time lows,” political scientist Patrick Egan, of New York University, wrote in July. ”Long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the US.”

    7. More guns tend to mean more homicide. The Harvard Injury Control Research Centre assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders. This holds true whether you’re looking at different countries or different states.

    8. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence. Last year, economist Richard Florida dived deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: higher populations, more stress, more immigrants and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: states with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths.

    9. Gun control, in general, has not been politically popular in the US. Since 1990, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they think gun control laws should be stricter. The answer, increasingly, is that they don’t. ”The percentage in favour of making the laws governing the sale of firearms ‘more strict’ fell from 78 per cent in 1990 to 62 per cent in 1995, and 51 per cent in 2007,” Gallup reported after a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, last year. ”In the most recent reading, Gallup in 2010 found 44 per cent in favour of stricter laws. In fact, in 2009 and again last year, the slight majority said gun laws should either remain the same or be made less strict.”

    10. But particular policies to control guns often are. An August CNN poll asked Americans whether they favour or oppose a number of specific policies to restrict gun ownership. And when you drill down to that level, many policies, including banning the manufacture and possession of semi-automatic rifles, are popular. About 90 per cent support background checks and no guns for felons or the mentally ill.

    11. Shootings don’t tend to substantially affect the views of Americans on gun control. That, at least, is what the Pew Research Centre found in a poll taken after the Colorado movie theatre shooting in July that killed 12.

  20. A guy was driving in the middle of a rural area and got lost. He saw a far er on a tractor and decided to man up and ask for directions. He drove over and stopped by the farmer and asked him how to get to Cincinatti.

    The farmer thought for a while, and finally said:

    “I wouldnt start from here if I were you”.

    Sadly, that is why I think nothing will happen as a result of this tragedy, and why we will all make similar comments (from both sides of the fence) when the next tragedy happens.

    Sometimes life stinks.

  21. My first and closest cousin was a victim of the Hoddle Street murders.

    He was riding his motorbike to work at the post office, it was supposed to be his rostered day off but nobody told him. He was riding down this thoroughfare when he was hit in the behind. He came off his bike and was lying, uncomprehending, in terrible pain. As he flailed there, people cowering in a yard saw him and wanted to reach out to him but he was shot again, fatally. The photo of his body next to his bike was all over the media and is regularly published in relation to this act.

    The murderer was sniping, he was preying on his victims, nothing could have defended them. Nothing could or did defend the victims of last week’s terrible killing of children the same age as my own two boys. It was down to pure ( gun-free ) bravery and quick thinking that many more were not lost. I refuse to read much about the events of last week because it hurts too much and is too incomprehensible.

    I cannot agree with any of the counter arguments above or anywhere else for that matter. They are weak. The United States needs to start fixing itself or it will continue to shoot itself in the feet.

    Well done Swade for putting out there at whatever cost.

    1. NOTE – I’ve removed some comments from this part of the thread at the commenter’s request due to potential misunderstandings that may arise from them, which were not intended. SW

  22. Well, i just thought i’dd add in my 2 cents (even if that’s a US expression…). Someone pointed out on TV the other day, what i think really summarizes the problem in the US : hypocrisy.

    The fact is that in most states, you need to be 21 to buy a……..beer. You walk into a liquor store or a bar looking a little young, and you have to show ID to be able to buy or drink a beer. Now, perhaps drinking a beer can get other people killed (driving under influence), but I can’t remember reading a headline about a drunk driver killing 26 people, 20 of which children aged between 6 and 7, and on purpose.

    If buying a beer as a 19 year old is a total sin and against every law in the US, but buying an assault weapon is your fundametal right, then something fundamental isn’t right !

    I hate to say this but this has a name, maybe unknown to some in the US : it’s called common sense !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Of course it will never fully prevent such drama’s from happening, as we saw in Norway, but then at least – as a country – you can look yourself in the mirror in the morning. It still beats having to look at yourself in the mourning…..

    2T

  23. I saw this come through, and I didn’t want to read it. I did, and I disagree with many of your points.

    I completely disagree with your ‘bullshit’ dismissal of the idea of citizens defending themselves from government tyranny. That’s something that was very, very real to our founding fathers after having endured tyranny by our European progenitors. The possibility still exists.

    I also disagree with your ‘people kill’ ‘bullshit’. This nutjob, given a lack of guns, would have simply stabbed his mother and taken out 26 kids with his car as school started. Or bought 20 gallons of gasoline and set the school on fire. Nutjobs will be nutjobs with or without guns. That is what it is. I submit as evidence that mass murders with vehicles is almost unheard of in the US, but is a preferred method of spree killing in Europe and Asia.

    Curtailing abuse of firearms (or any technology) is exceedingly difficult. This is NOT a binary issue that one can switch on and off. It is very complex.

    Even IF the laws were changed, they wouldn’t be effective for some time due to the number of guns in circulation. How are you going to make people give up the guns they have just because you passed the law? In the short run, all that it changes is that people who comply are more vulnerable.

    Even if laws were to be changed as you state, it would literally take years. I’m not saying that’s a reason to keep the laws as they are; I’m saying that you will have to live with the status quo for years to come.

    I suggest that a much more reasonable course of action is to STOP tolerating crazy people as just ‘different’ and ‘troubled’. It simply doesn’t make sense to me to hand everyone blunt knives because, quite literally, one one-millionth of the population can’t handle them.

    That’s my position. Guns should stay, and crazies should go. Crazies will hurt you no matter the method. Guns are very difficult to control, perhaps more difficult than controlling the crazies. Morgan Freeman, the actor, is also right when he says that the media coverage sensationalizes these events and that encourages these nobodies to become ‘somebodies’ the wrong way. We need to stop talking about these jerks and focus on the victims.

    Post Script:
    I’ve not read the comments, nor will I. But, if I know this crowd, there are huge numbers of arrogant Europeans condemning the United States for our firearms rights. To those people I say this: fix your own problems before telling us how to fix ours. Remember, you’re the land of Anders Breivik (who got only 21 years for killing 77 people), Armin Meives, Josef Fritzl, Fredrich Leibacher (shot 32 in Switzerland), Derrick Bird (shot 23 in England). I won’t even start on the spree killings of smaller numbers or by automobile.

    1. Eggs, to your post-script…..

      60 comments. 8 are from Europeans and none of them a condemning as far as I can tell, just questioning. 2 are from Aussies, plus a number from me.

      The rest are from your countrymen.

      I have a few issues with some of your other stuff but am time poor at this moment.

      1. I am glad to hear that the Europeans were not bad actors. It raises my opinion of internet commenters everywhere.

        I know that you will have issues with the rest. That’s fair.

        1. I’ve addressed most of them in the new post rather than here.

          The one I didn’t address was vehicles as weapons. I tried search after search on that and came up with isolated incidents only, none involving mass numbers of people anywhere near the scale of the shooting incidents we see. I find that one hard to swallow and in any case, I still think it’s a diversion from the core issue.

        2. Internet commenters are still asses, on the whole. I just try and make sure that those commenting here are exceptions. And except one yesterday, they are.

      2. Also, it seems that a number of news outlets jumped the gun on the Morgan Freeman comments. Apparently, that quote was written by someone else and attributed to him somehow. However, it rings true to me. Don’t make these spree killers anti-heroes, make them disappear.

    2. Well E&G…as you are someone who lives south of the Mason/Dixon Line…doesn’t surprise me on your ranting/position.

      And maybe try reading the other comments before typing all the asshattery above?

      Truth of the matter is that the majority of these horrible acts happen in the US…and there isn’t one good reason for ANYONE to own an Assault Rifle. Not one.

      Steven…agree 100%. Guns are out of control in the US.

      1. Please tell me one reason for automobiles that drive faster than the national speed limit? Why do we have alcohol? Do you even read what an “assault rifle” is? My AK never assaulted anyone.

        1. They are strawman arguments, Jim. They’re certainly things that can be talked about, but the talk about guns is not conditional upon talking about them.

          And assault rifles, as most people understand them, are rifles that can automatically cycle the next bullet into the chamber. 1 shot per pull of the trigger, but plenty of time saved by not having to manually load. If that’s not the textbook definition of an assault rifle, that in now way lessens the concern about that type of weapon.

          In short, that type of weapon is completely unnecessary in private hands. As one guy said in an interview this morning on Aussie television (gun owner from US) – “it’s only a poor hunter who needs a semi-automatic rifle to hunt”.

  24. Just my 0.02$

    At least to me, there seems to be a correlation between incidence of gun violence, and mental health problems. If you look at and believe the reports, you’ll see that many if not all of the shooters in any of these cases are described as “odd, careless, or antisocial.” Through the mid 1980’s the U.S had one of the best mental health systems in the world. It was shut down pretty much overnight as a result of the executive branch axing subsidiaries. As a result most mental healthcare in the U.S is either expensive, terrible or inaccessible.

    To make an analogy, cuts can get infected. An uninfected cut you can just cover with a band-aid. On the other hand, only using a band-aid on an infected cut will just cause it to worsen.

    Truthfully, taking guns off of the streets will not do much of anything in and of itself. I don’t specifically know about Oz and England (in the cases of countries where gun rights have been pretty much repealed as of late) or Switzerland and Israel (In the case of counties where guns are pretty much as common as cars,) but I would assume that across the board, they have far better mental health facilities.

    In conclusion, we need a multilateral approach. It is sick and disgusting that some people think things like arming the schoolteachers, or just leaving things be. One of the places where I felt the safest as a young child was at school. It was an insular world which was completely controlled by the teacher, where the worst thing that could happen was the bully stealing your pencil. It truly saddens me that my future kids may not grow up in a similar, safe environment.

    1. I think you’re on to something.

      Both school shooters here in Finland had mental problems, and they sure did not receive much help, if any – the state of mental health care here is a disaster – as in you have to somehow be a healthy AND wealthy genius to manage to find good help. (And no, only giving people pills they don’t even want i wouldn’t call good help.)

      As a result, I think, most know how to get a ‘pass’ – like Auvinen (the first shooter here) did on his gun exam, though he was rejected for military service.

      I don’t think it helps the climate in society towards people with problems either when it becomes near-impossible to get help – being labeled “mentally ill and not under care” doesn’t do good things for your reputation. Together with other assorted cutbacks and job and other insecurity in society it’s probably difficult to find a way to focus on getting better.

  25. As is typical, there are a wide variety of responses to this tragedy.

    I speak as an American that’s lived and traveled throughout the world. I believe I have a wider view than most folks, but that could just be my personal bias.

    Yes, most other developed countries have much more restrictive gun ownership laws. Those countries also tend to have much lower rates of gun violence. That lower rates of gun ownership have a causational role in reducing deaths from guns is pretty easy to ascertain. The knee jerk reaction of those looking at the US from abroad is reasonable and understandable. So too is the knee jerk reaction of those in the US arguing in favor of tighter restrictions.

    BUT, there’s other factors involved as well. Perhaps most important is the fact that most, if not all, of the developed nations with which the US is compared also have superior mental health care access. There are also trends associated with drug laws, other violent crimes, educational access, efficacy of prison rehabilitation and more that all play into these rates. Suffice to say, the US’ issues are bigger than just gun ownership rates.

    I would, then, suggest that the challenge the US faces in terms of gun control is this. Rather than position the argument as one of “let’s take away all the guns”, let’s understand that the difference between a gun and, say, an axe, is one of efficiency. Please forgive the calculating tone, as murder is, obviously, not a math equation.

    An axe murderer can kill a lot of people with an axe. In fact, in the right setting, an axe is probably just about as deadly as a rifle. But the axe murderer is slower. And the more times they swing that axe, the more tired they get, further slowing them. No one advocates getting rid of axes because they have numerous uses other than murder.

    To some extent, the rifleman faces similar challenges. The first couple of shots are easy, but if they have a five round magazine, they’re going to have to reload well before they’ve reached the level of tragedy we saw this week. Even if they’re quick, there’s a chance for people to get away. Now the rifle also has uses other than murder, so why are so many so quick to argue in favor of outlawing it?

    I think it’s because of a lack of understanding of guns, their uses and their variety. There are guns for hunting. There are guns for target shooting. There are guns for killing people. People that aren’t familiar with guns tend to paint them all with a single brush. Those that have guns tend to react irrationally to any threat to their continued gun ownership. The truth, as I see it, is that there are valid reasons to support fairly low gun ownership hurdles in the US, but we all need to stop arguing that having a 5 shot .22 caliber hunting rifle and having a semi-automatic rifle with a huge magazine are the same thing. They’re not. One’s for hunting and one’s for killing people. There’s only a valid argument in defense of one.

    Oh, and for those that argue these killing weapons are protected by some states’ rights reading of the constitution, if you’re not part of a well regulated militia, you’re not guaranteed the right to have a weapon. Period. The language and cultural context was and is pretty damn clear. Arguments to the contrary are red herrings designed to rile up people that probably shouldn’t be armed anyway.

    Just my 2¢ as usual.

    1. I’d also like to point out that I grew up hunting and have fairly extensive training in gun safety. I am not, however, a gun owner, nor do I wish to become a gun owner. Were I to take up hunting again, I might reconsider that, but today I don’t need a gun for anything and don’t want guns in my home for no reason.

    2. Excellent, excellent perspective.

      My post was pretty vehement about all firearms and I know that people, especially pro-gun people, would have lost a few things amongst it. Namely, that there is a place for firearms. That place, IMHO, is for properly vetted people with a real need for them. I could even see a place for sporting target shooters in that crowd if it’s properly enforced.

      I think you present a very balanced point of view here. Thanks.

    3. Good post. I would like to add a few things

      I don’t think the knee-jerk reactions you describe are necessarily anti-weapon in general. What I think many people take issue with is mostly the vehement arguments from people defending everyones right to own weapons without any control. Earlier in this thread we saw the argument that US citizens need weapons to defend themselves from the government, and despite the horrific thing that prompted Swade’s post the discussion then immediately turns into whining about taxes (and, I guess, the Obama administration in general). IMHO, rather distasteful. There is also the romantic argument that weapons are needed to defend yourself and your family from crimes. As I pointed out earlier, how come when that is needed no one never ever seems to carry that self-protection weapon that would stop these massacres? And again, defense against what? You bring a knife, I bring a pistol. You bring an assault rifle, I bring a turret mounted machine gun. I would be interested to see how many burglaries etc. that are *not* taking place in the US because of the right to protect yourself with a weapon. Or do the burglar just carry a gun all the time, and shoot first just in case the homeowner do have a gun for self-protection?

      The comparison with axes, knifes, etc. always comes up, but I just consider that a logical 180. You can kill with any object, so why no outlaw everything? As with the electrical grid, a shovel, or a car, an axe can be used to kill with. Difference is that a weapon is primarily deigned to kill living creatures – other things are not. I think that is a clear distinction.

      I have no problem living in a country that has gun control. I don’t see it as an issues prohibiting me from being a ‘free citizen’ or this being a ‘free country’. If I need protection from my government, I find that protection in our democracy – not in guns. I have the ability to change our society through the political system – if enough citizens agree with me. Otherwise I just have to accept the situation and keep on working. It’s called democracy. Sweden has about 9 million people, and about 2 million guns. If I want a gun for hunting or shooting sport, I can arrange that within the law. I have never ever heard anyone saying our laws are a hindrance to that. And if I’m in trouble with the law and obviously a violent person that should not own guns, the right to own one can be taken away. As a citizen, I find it highly acceptable. To connect gun control with “oh, now we can’t hunt or have shooting sports!” is not relevant at all.

      I don’t know how to get an illegal weapon in Sweden. I could probably find out, but it would take some time and the process would most obviously make me aware that I’m doing something illegal. If I’m generally sane and law-abiding, then I would sooner or later ask myself why I’m trying to get hold of an illegal weapon. I think that process has a rather limiting factor, compared to just find a store open 24/7 and buy an automatic rifle when in a heated state of mind. Again I don’t say it is a perfect system, but I have no problem with it. Many laws are in place to have a limiting factor – not because they will be respected 100% all the time and create a perfect world. The laws sets the tone of society.

      I saw this on a US blog a few hours ago.

      “If a foreign terrorist killed 26 people in this country, we would invade their country in a heartbeat with few questions asked. When a domestic lunatic kills 26 people with little effort enabled in large part by our own laws dating back 200+ years, we do nothing. And we’ll keep doing nothing.”

      Unfortunately, I think that pretty much sums up what many non-US citizen see in this debate.

  26. Swade. My respect for you has risen to new hights. I agree fully with what you are writing.

    Why are the “pro-gun” people so afraid of gun-control, when they so openly admit that their own guns are well controlled?

    To all americans: Stop shooting each other!

    1. Hans,
      I don’t know where you live but here the lawful gun owners know that many of us would ultimately turn in our guns. The problem is there are so many guns here and the lawful gun owners know the criminals and drug dealers would not. Our country has laws already in place that are not enforced. Even in cities such as Washington DC where firearms are basically banned murders by firearms are still happening almost daily. We have bigger problems here besides restricting firearms from the ones who are following the rules. Even if they banned firearms throughout our country they would get here. All you have to do is look at is our drug trade and see how the flow of banned narcotics flow through this country. These drug runners will always need their guns to protect their shipments and rob people.

      Our country would have to increase the numbers of police and their powers to make a real dent in changing the violent crimes but most in our country would rather have their freedoms.

      1. I fail to see your logic.
        Most people does not become a criminal until they shoot somebody. Often with a legally bought gun.
        This is not about the career criminals and drugrunners, it is about angry young men, about jealous husbands, drunken anger and even mishaps while playing with guns. A man (always a man, isn’t it) armed with fist or a knife might not hurt or kill as many as a man armed with an automatic weapon. Generally speaking.

        I live in Sweden. Feel free to come and visit, but leave your gun at home, please. 🙂

        1. Hans,
          You may not see my logic. It is different here than Sweden. Free Americans do not want to rely solely on government because it is a false sense of security. I saw where Swade was talking about walking in certain areas and not feeling safe etc but often people are walking in areas and have a false sense of security. You probably will never see the logic of the law abiding Americans who have guns but you come from a different culture. I guarantee you if I heard someone breaking into my house and had the choice of calling and waiting 30 minutes for the police or racking my shotgun – I would choose the shotgun. I urge you to read this:
          http://dailycaller.com/2012/03/29/on-sheep-wolves-and-sheepdogs/

          I wish there werent any guns in the world also but we (Americans) are not going to give up our right to protect ourselves. It is easy for countries with no or very few guns to say turn them in, etc. I am sure it is easy for countries without nuclear weapons to say turn them in but we all know North Korea etc would not. I guess we will have to agree to disagree because I cant see your logic.

  27. I think automobiles kill a lot more people than guns in the USA . Yet there are no calls for autos to be outlawed. By the same logic, gun ownership shouldn’t be banned especially when shooting related casualties are lighter than the road toll.

  28. Few days late in reading this commentary (so I’ll just post my thoughts on both of your gun threads), but as an American —and one who has kids that age and has my family in that lovely part of Connecticut two to three times a year even— thanks. Sometimes the view is clearest from afar, and no fault found at all in the logic of your various points. Yet, can only imagine that this was the piece that lead to you needing to ban someone from your site.

    Lots of vitriol online in our discussions here in the States with many equating those that seek sane and safe firearm rules as being “anti-gun.” As a former military officer who has handled and shot more than my share of various weapons, I find that sadly funny. Yet, I suppose you could say that is true, if you view people who want to get semi-automatics rifles, concealable handguns, large capacity ammo reservoirs, split core bullets, etc, out of being commonplace in the civilian community as “anti-gun.”

    But especially with a group that reads your car oriented pieces here, think most that are not in willful denial are capable of understanding that seeking sane and safe traffic rules does not make someone “anti-car.”

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