Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Thursday, December 20, 2012

As we begin the needed debate on our gun culture, keep this in mind:

The Uses and Limits of Knowledge About Guns 

DECEMBER 18, 2012

"Some details are important, but people who know a lot about guns have no more moral claim to a voice in this debate.

We're about to start the portion of this debate where we begin discussing specific actions the government might take to address gun violence. And as we do, particularly when it comes to those measures that concern the guns themselves (as opposed to measures focused on the people who can get them or the conditions of their purchase), it's likely that gun advocates will start complaining that there's a problem with all these effete urban northeastern liberals making laws governing guns they know nothing about. This isn't new; for instance, gun advocates have long hated the term "assault weapon," since it doesn't mean anything in particular (after all, every gun is a weapon designed for assault).

 We should be very wary of the argument that people who have a lot of experience with guns have some kind of greater moral claim to a voice in this debate (and we should also be wary, as Elsbeth Reeve writes, of coastal urbanite conservatives claiming to speak for "real America" about guns). Yes, having everyone get their facts straight is important. But every one of us is potentially affected by guns, whether we ever bother to pick one up or not. That's kind of the whole point. 

You don't have to know how to disassemble and clean a Glock to want your kid not to be shot by one."

h/t Digby

And the madness in Florida and its "Stand Your Ground" idiocy continues.

Meanwhile, the GOP is losing ground with Americans.  A majority says the Republican Party is too extremist.

"For the first time, a majority of Americans now say the Republican Party is too extreme, according to a poll released Thursday by CNN/ORC. 

 Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP's views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. 

The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme. 

 Democrats were considered to be a "generally mainstream" party by 57 percent in the new poll. 

"That's due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director. 

 Americans also say that they have far more confidence in President Barack Obama than in congressional Republicans, and that Republicans should compromise more in finding bipartisan solutions."


Dave Miller said...

Shaw, here's my question for conservatives...

Does government have a right to limit the types of guns Americans can own?

Before any action can be taken, or considered, this question must be broached.

If gun proponents say no, then there is no basis for discussion, as no legislation can pass without their help.

Sad, but true...

Silverfiddle said...

I agree with Waldman's comments you excerpted.

Every citizen has an equal voice in any discussion that concerns the nation and our laws, and not all east coasters are "effete" gun haters. Connecticut has its own gun culture, and not just Republicans own guns.

The more we study up on it and debate it the better. More facts are always better than less.

Silverfiddle said...

Dave, of course government can put limits on rights. We have 200 years of jurisprudence that says so. You can't own a fully automatic machine gun, for instance.

Whoever posits a proposed solution must be able to convince us of its efficacy, and so far that has been lacking.

In 1997 Britain imposed a severe gun ban in response to the Dunblane murders the year before. Firearm crimes continued increasing.

Don't take my word for it, please check out the BBC article:

More background:

skudrunner said...

The government currently limits the types of guns Americans can own so that is not an issue.

The debate seems to center around Assault rifles as the target gun because of it's abilities. The truth is an assault rifle has no more capabilities than a standard semi-automatic. It looks different but performs the same.

Although they are fun to take to the range and do some target shooting I see no reason to own one in other than a 22cal. It is not a good platform for hunting and you could have the same experience with a 22 as a 223.

Compromise is a two way street and I don't see the desire from either side on anything. It seems that the current administration is not serious about gun reform by their pick to head this up. They have taken a serious issue and made it totally political which means nothing meaningful will be accomplished.

BB-Idaho said...

There are some bizarre peculiarities in the legaleeze of
weaponry. For example, Connecticut
law states:
A semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following:
i. a folding or telescopic stock;
ii. a pistol grip;
iii. a bayonet mount;
iv. a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor;and
v. a grenade launcher.
The Bushmasters, even the mini-14s,
are cabable of a high volume of firepower and rate of fire/magazine
switching. It is NOT whether they
have a flash suppressor or pistol grip. The M-4 (weapon of Lanza choice) is routinely used by the military as an assault weapon; yet
even Connecticut considers it a
legitimate non-assault weapon. Is it just me, or is there a disconnect here?

Shaw Kenawe said...

No, BB, no disconnect.

Only madness in our laws because we've allowed a business-based association, the NRA, to lobby our politicians and scare them into submission so that our gun laws are all but meaningless.

Dave Miller said...

I am not sure what compromise would look like. If I believe that any type of what we commonly call assault weapons, BB facts notwithstanding, should be banned, then where can I compromise?

I am still waiting for anyone to tell me why they need a gun that can shoot a hundred rounds a minute or why anyone, hunter or otherwise [apart from law enforcement] needs a clip that holds 30 or more rounds.

From my point of view, it is incumbent on the gun lobby to convince the American people why those levels of firepower should be accessible to a majority of the American people. What is the need?

On registration, I believe every single person who buys a gun, because it is a deadly weapon, should have to pass a background check and that the weapon should be registered.

I don't think you should be able to buy ammo unless you are a registered gun owner.

I also do not see any reason why we cannot put a limit on the amount of guns that can be bought in a month. This alone would probably slow down gun runners.

Look, there's a lot of stuff here. Mexico, victim of our assault style weapons is begging us to do something here.

A majority of Americans want something done to limit gun ownership.

Will any of this solve all of the issues? Not at all, but will it save some lives? How can any rational person argue in the negative?

According to Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center, more Americans die every year from gun violence than have ever died from terrorism aimed at us.

If we can summon the will to send thousands of our soldiers to die in the so called "War on Terror" and spend untold billions of dollars doing so, it would seem we could scrape together the $$$ needed to address the mental health issues and the will to solve the gun side of this problem.

Silver and Skud... it os very frustrating to us libs... we have never seen a single move by many conservatives in our direction on this except from former President Ronald Reagan who supported the ban of the 90's.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I'm with Dave on this issue.

The facts are this:

We have more firearms in circulation in this country than in any western democracy, and we have more firearm deaths than any other nation on earth.

Many well-meaning conservatives try to frame this as a "freedom" issue or a "rights" issue. But it is not that anymore. This is now a national health issue.

A recent study predicts that more people will die of firearms by 2015 than die of motor vehicle accidents.

That's a national disgrace.

We have to get Americans to understand that there is NO NEED for unrestricted deadly weapons in this country.

Newtown changed evreything.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Here are some Public Policy Polling results:

"Conservatives think hunting with assault rifles is unnecessary by a 70-22 margin, for example. But what's crazy is we cross-referenced this question with the 73 percent of respondents who had a favorable opinion of hunting, and among that crowd, 21 think assault weapons are necessary to hunt, while 73 percent don't.

In other words, the vast majority of people who like hunting think hunting with assault rifles is unnecessary."

Republican Racism said...

you will never get it past the fear mongers of guns, like SF and RN.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Actually, SF and RN would like to see something done. Just now, we're all talking about the issue and trying to find a way to solve it.

Republican Racism said...

You, RN, and SF are going to solve this?
Thanks for the laugh.