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Friday, December 21, 2012

Bang Bang Crazy, Part Three

The first two parts of this essay are here:

Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two

Updates and Addendums at the bottom of the post.

Addendum One (22 Dec 2012)
Addendum Two (23 Dec 2012)

If you don’t like the post itself, or the tone of the essay, that’s fine. Scroll down to the addendums and read those // Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station


After a week of conspicuous silence, the National Rifle Association finally weighed in with their solution to gun violence.

They’d like a “good guy with a gun” in every school.

And they’d like you to pay for it.

Yes, that’s right, the folks who have done nothing for the last four years but whine endlessly for smaller government, now want the government to spend your tax dollars arming, equipping, and hiring a cadre of full time security officers to staff every school, public and private, in America.  No word yet on whether or not they’ll be advocating for similar protection to homeschoolers or if their petition applies to Muslim religious schools as well.

Also, as it turns out, the real victim of last week’s mass killing is the NRA.

 

I’ll just pause for a moment so you can take that in.

 

“What if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified armed security?"

That was NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

What if there were armed guards to meet Lanza at the front door of Sandy Hook Elementary?

The NRA’s long awaited suggestion for reducing gun violence is … surprise! More guns. Arm the schools, arm the teachers, heck, arm the kids.

C’mon, it’s the NRA, who’s really surprised here? Really?

What if?

What if Sandy Hook elementary school had an armed SWAT Team standing by?

Better yet, what if the school was ringed with a minefield? Yeah. And concertina wire. What if we mounted .50Cal machine guns in turrets at each corner of the playground and manned them with experienced combat Marines? Maybe a tank guarding the parking lot? A couple of TOW launchers on the roof and the crossing guards equipped with illuminators ready to laze anybody who looks suspicious.  And we’ll probably need a Patriot battery on the front lawn, you never know when some deranged lunatic will hijack a jetliner and try to fly it into fourth period algebra. 

How long do you suppose it will be before we start referring to the schools as “Camp Liberty?”

You don’t sign your kids up for school, no, they enlist.

And of course, there’s the religious schools – when they say onward Christian soldiers, they ain’t kidding, folks. Instead of Wal-Mart, you’ll shop for school supplies at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Hell, why stop there?

What if we tagged all guns and gun owners in the country with RFID chips that could be read from orbiting satellites and when they get too close to a school, or a restaurant, or a Safeway, or a movie theater, the CIA could unleash a Hellfire missile from a loitering Global Hawk and vaporize the bastard in the gun shop parking lot?

Maybe we should just kill all the crazy people.

Sure, no crazy people, no crazy people with guns. What? I’m just saying.

Oh.

So, too much, eh?

Turn the schools into armed camps, kill the crazy people preemptively, you think that’s a bit outlandish? A little over the top, perhaps? Silly?

Maybe, but it’s no more silly than suggesting a kindergarten teacher keep a Glock in her purse and a Mini-14 in her desk drawer.

But then again, I’m not really sure what people exactly were expecting from the NRA.  Rational dialog? Reasonable suggestions? Sanity?

Heh heh. Right.

Of course, I suppose we should be glad that conservatives are suddenly calling for increased public school spending, I just wish it was for science and math and history and reading and, oh, I dunno, mental health programs, instead of arming the staff.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that in certain circumstance, under very specific restrictions, armed security in some schools isn’t a reasonable precaution. But to suggest that the answer to gun violence and mass murder in schools is to arm up the faculty while refusing to consider any other options, or combination of options, is just plain asinine.  

And here’s the funny thing, many schools do have armed guards. In the form of police officers. Gun Free school zone acts don’t apply to law enforcement.

Hell Virginia Tech, the site of one of the worst school shootings in recent memory, had its own armed police force on campus and was still unable to prevent the carnage. What’s the NRA’s solution? Put armed guards into each and every classroom? Every hall? Every bathroom. Every playground? On every school bus and at every bus stop?

And we’re back to our kids going to Camp Liberty again.

And what about movie theaters and shopping malls and grocery stores? We going to post guards there too?

And who will guard the guards? What keeps the guy with the uniform and 9-mil, or the history teacher, or the vice principal, from suddenly going all comic book villain? So I guess we’ll need armed guards to guard the armed guards. Just to be safe, I mean.  But then how comfortable would you be with Mr. Ali  Mohamed, the bearded Muslim shop teacher with the tats who immigrated from Iran twenty years ago, carrying concealed in your kid’s school? Go on, be honest, Conservative Christian White People. So, then when we say let’s arm the teachers, we mean only some of the teachers. The ones the NRA approves of.  I mean, after all, it’s their training program, right? So I guess they get to pick who guards our kids. Because, really, no gun toting crazy people in the NRA, right?

The logical implications of LaPierre’s statement are that the NRA believes Americans not only have the right to bear arms, but that bearing arms should be mandatory. LaPierre’s statement implies that every American should be armed and ready for a full out attack at any moment – well, every American except, well, you know, Muslims, and maybe black people (who are all Muslims anyway), and maybe Latinos (who are probably Muslims), and crazy people, and Muslims, and Democrats, and, well, you know. Those people. But other than that…

The NRA and Wayne LaPierre deserve every bit of the scorn and ridicule being heaped upon them right now.

It’s not possible to have made a more tone deaf, idiotic suggestion.

If they were just going to keep throwing bullets at the problem, then they would have been wiser to just stay silent. Because seriously, in the wake of horrific events like Sandy Hook and Columbine there are things that I just don’t need to hear. Arming schools is one those things.

And then there’s this:

It’s God’s will.

It’s God’s judgment.

America kicked God out of school.

At least the children all get to be with Jesus now – including the non-Christian ones, see, apparently if you’re killed by a mass shooting in America you’re automatically converted to Christianity and sent to Christian heaven whether you like it or not.

When I hear people say in all seriousness that bloody slaughter, let alone that of young children, is “God’s will,” I feel the overwhelming urge to punch these people in the mouth repeatedly until their cheek bones shatter.

Oh relax, I’m not engaging in hypocrisy. I’m just returning the favor.  

These stupid bastards revel in violence and glory in unthinking ignorance and claim that this slaughter comes from upon high as some kind of holy retribution for some imagined sin. These are the people who would tell me as a parent, who would tell you as a parent, who tell the grieving parents of Newtown, that God murdered our children because he was mad at gay people.

And it’s not just Westboro Baptist Church, you know. 

It’s myopic frothing bigots like Mike Huckabee too, who claimed that gay people caused the Newtown massacre.

In the last week, I’ve read or heard hundreds of comments about “God’s Judgment” on America for (Pick one: Secularism, Homosexuality, Jesus Needs More Tasty Children In Heaven, Abortion, Etc).  I had somebody say this to me directly this morning, this is what happens when you kick God out of school. Really? Are you kidding me? What? God got kicked out of school for behaving like an argumentative disrespectful intolerant miscreant, as a result he grew up into a sick twisted sociopath and decided to kill twenty children because He didn’t get His way? Is that about right?

What the fuck kind of deity do you people worship? And why hasn’t Texas executed Him yet?

But, hey, you know what? Not to fret, those same brutalized children get to now go up to Heaven and sit at the feet of the guy who planned their death.

Be sure to take comfort in that, won’t you?

Honestly, I really have to wonder if these fools can actually hear the words coming out of their mouths, or are in any way whatsoever able to understand the implications of what they are saying. 

And they called the kid with the gun crazy.

Like the NRA, these people need to just shut up.

I’ll tell you what else I don’t need to hear, I don’t need to hear the half dozen people who explained to me that if we outlaw guns, the crazy people will just blow up schools.  That’s right, what about Timothy McVeigh? Huh what about him? He killed all kinds of people, including kids, with a bomb. Huh, see, what about that?

Seriously?

You really want go down the Oklahoma City Bombing road, do you?

Fine. Just remember, you brought it up.

See McVeigh constructed a bomb from various precursor chemicals, including large amounts of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.  Which we now regulate as a result of that horrific event. And track the purchase of.  In fact, we enacted a whole slew of new laws after the Murrah Federal Building Bombing. So I guess what you people are saying here is that you’d have no problem implementing similar controls on gun and ammunition purchases, right?

And in point of fact, as long as we’re on the subject, a couple years back, then head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, signed off on a report about possible threats posed by former combat veterans, which McVeigh was, who might turn to acts of domestic terrorism, which McVeigh did. 

Napolitano was forced to apologize by conservatives who damned near ruptured themselves in apoplectic fury, led by none other than Rush Limbaugh. 

"You have a report from Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama, Department of Homeland Security, portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than al Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong Il."

I guess since you guys brought up McVeigh, you’ve changed sides on this now and are ready to agree with the Obama administration? Let’s track gun owners, and veterans, and people who might pose a risk to others because of their extreme patriotic views. You’re now good with that, right?

And that takes us to the next thing, that whole bit about how the 9/11 hijackers killed 3000 Americans without using guns. And again, do you really want to go down that road? Because we enacted a whole whopping shitload of laws and regulations after that incident with conservatives leading the charge.  And with every subsequent incident we enact more.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time I could clip my nails on an airplane and the funny thing is that we did put armed officers onto some airplanes, and we did allow some pilots to carry concealed in the course of their duties, and it didn’t make a damned bit of difference. It’s all of the other security procedures that actually make a difference.

So again, do you really want to use 9/11 to justify the NRA’s idiot comment Friday morning?

What?

No, I guess not. Yeah, probably better sit down and shut up while you’re ahead.

 

I’ll tell you what’s going to happen here.

The NRA is going to get handed its ass. 

And we’re going to end up with some very restrictive guns laws.

Likely we will overreact and likely some of the NRA’s fears will come to pass.

And you know why?

Because it’s going to go down just like current batch of uncompromising conservatives in Congress. They refused to compromise, they refused to do anything but obstruct, they keep claiming that America belongs to them and only them, they refused to sit down and meet the other side halfway. They tried to bluff the President, and they got their bluff called, twice in less than two weeks. They’ve lost at every turn, from the 2008 election, to the Affordable Care Act, to the most recent presidential election. And now? Well, now they’re going to lose again. And they’re going to lose hard.  And they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves. Taxes are going to go up for everybody. Good job, idiots. Really, well done.

And that’s what’s going to happen to the NRA.

They’re facing a country sick and goddamned tired of dead kids and assault weapons in the hands of crazy people.

They’re facing a second term president who was, ironically, on their side up until last Friday.

If they’d just stop with the whole screaming paranoid nonsense, sit down like reasonable adults, and be the subject matter experts they claim to be, well then they’d have some say in this process.  Instead, they’re going to cling to the extreme position they’ve staked out, even if it makes them extinct.

The NRA is the Grover Norquist of Second Amendment Rights.

And just like Grover, they’re going to have nobody to blame but themselves for what comes next.


Addendum One (22 Dec 2012):

Responding to a comment below this post, comments on my Facebook post, and reading this morning’s hate mail, I realize that not everybody understands what I’m saying unless I specifically spell it out.  Allow me to clarify a couple of points:

As I said in the post, I can see armed security as part of an overall set of options. It may work in some cases, and not in others. But a blanket statement of "the solution to gun violence is to put armed guards in all the schools" is as tone deaf and unworkable as saying "the solution to gun violence is to ban all guns." 

The actual solution is that there is not a single solution. And in fact I didn’t propose any solution in any part of this series of essays. What I did say was that we need to stop with the extremism on both sides. Then we need to sit down and have a reasonable dialog in this country about guns, and mental health, and what we might be able to do about it.  What works in one place, may or may not work elsewhere. One size most assuredly will not fit all. But we must begin with reasoned dialog and an exploration of all options – yes, including putting armed security into schools. 

We must have an adult conversation, we must act from reason and with deliberation, not from emotion and fear and panic.

As a commenter mentioned below, the NRA has become a lightning rod for this issue, but they have absolutely no one to blame but themselves.  As the statement by Wayne LaPierre demonstrates. You have to be completely and totally tone deaf to the horror and devastation many Americans feel, and making the statement that LaPierre did only goes to show how out of touch he is with the grief and horror people feel in times like this.  LaPierre’s statement speaks to people on a visceral level and says very clearly that the NRA by and large is more concerned with how this event will affect them instead of the lives of our children. Many Americans feel that the NRA is made up of crazed gun nuts, and LaPierre’s reaction only reinforces that perception.

Which was the point of this essay.

What these NRA needs to understand is this: They are not the only people in this country, they are not the only defenders of America and the Constitution, they are not the only people who love America, and they aren't the only ones who happen to know something about guns. If they want us to accept guns in school and guns in the larger society, then they need to start listening to the very real concerns of the rest of us instead of repeatedly declaring us as unAmerican and traitors and sheep.

In other words, respect is earned, if the NRA wants respect, they have to give it in return. They can't point their guns at the rest of us and demand it.

I've spent my entire life around weapons, of all kinds, I've been shot at and I've shot at people. I teach small arms. I have a FFL and a CCP. The people I meet in the NRA, not all but an alarming many, too often come across as raving nuts. Bang bang crazy. I wouldn't allow these people on my range under any circumstance. These are people who don't know the first thing about force application, they've got this idea that the only answer in every situation is deadly force and more firepower.

These are the very very last people I want in my schools, armed, around my kids. Period.

Again, I can see armed security in some schools, maybe even all, but that security needs to be made up of uniformed professionals, specifically trained to function around large crowds of panicked children in situations where the threat itself may very well be a child. And the simple truth of the matter is this, the kind of armed security we need in schools does not yet exist. This force would have to be created, trained, equipped, and drilled over and over. And the parents and teachers and staff would have to be educated on the procedures and process and agree to it.  And when I say trained, I mean trained by professionals – the kind of training that military, counter terrorism, and police get.  Not trained by the NRA. The NRA is not made up of professionals, there may be professionals in the NRA, but the NRA itself is made up of whoever pays their dues.  Being a member of the NRA does not automatically make you a professional, no more than donating to the Fraternal Order of Police makes you a law enforcement expert – or any more knowledgeable about guns or counter terrorism or defending a group of kids from a shooter than the average gun hating liberal. 

Creating that force is going to cost. A lot.

And I might even be for it, if it was paid for with a large tax on guns, ammo, gun shows, registration fees, and so on, combined with reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and national criteria for the same - up to and including extremely harsh penalties for gun owners who don't secure their weapons, or allow them to fall into the hands of non-authorized users, or fail to use their weapons in a safe and knowledgeable manner.

And I would only be for this sort of thing if equal attention and funding was given to preventing the underlying cause of violence in the first place, and that’s an entirely different discussion.

When the NRA agrees to that, by all means, get back to me.


Addendum Two (23 Dec 2012):

Some clarification to the first Addendum is obviously in order:

Read what I wrote at the end of the previous addendum.

And I might even be for it, if it was paid for with a large tax on guns, ammo, gun shows, registration fees, and so on, combined with reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and national criteria for the same - up to and including extremely harsh penalties for gun owners who don't secure their weapons, or allow them to fall into the hands of non-authorized users, or fail to use their weapons in a safe and knowledgeable manner.

And I would only be for this sort of thing if equal attention and funding was given to preventing the underlying cause of violence in the first place, and that’s an entirely different discussion.

Some of you took that as whole hog, willy-nilly support for the NRA’s suggestion to put an armed NRA gun nut into each school.

I’m not sure how you got there, given that I was careful to qualify my comment, but nevertheless there you are.

I said I might, might, consider the NRA's suggestion for some armed security in some schools, providing that equal attention was given to finding and fixing the causes of gun violence, i.e. mental health and violent culture and whatever it is that we haven’t thought of, and only so long as it was part and parcel of larger gun control measures and significantly increased penalties for irresponsible gun owners.

And new taxes and registration fees on gun/ammo sales paid for it.

Look, here’s the thing, I’m a gun owner and a believer in Second Amendment rights, but I don't want armed security in my kid's school either.

I don't want to live in a society where that's necessary.

I've been to Israel, I don't want to live there. Ditto Somalia, and Iraq, and Mexico.

However, I've got armed police in my son's school already.

And they're good guys, well trained, intelligent, and respected by the staff and the students and the parents, at least they are here in South Central Alaska (you’ll forgive me if I’m not more specific about where my kid goes to school). Would that one lone officer be effective in a situation similar to Sandy Hook or Columbine? Probably not, but then again you never know until it happens.

A lot of schools are the same, probably yours too, at least the middle and high schools. 

Because that’s the nature of the world we live in.

Like it or not, there we are.

 

So, take the NRA's suggestion at face value. Dump all the rest, and take the suggestion at face value.

What if we mandated well trained professional security in schools?

Not some gun nut dipshit with a beer belly and a hi-cap Desert Eagle, but professional security of a new kind, police or the equivalent specifically trained and equipped to deal with domestic terrorism in crowds of children, when the terrorist himself (or herself should the situation ever arise) may be, in fact, a child. Specifically trained in the use of non-lethal force as a first option. And so on.

Hang on, stop spitting, bear with me here for a minute.

What if we did it as part of a larger, comprehensive plan?

Would you be willing to accept well trained armed security in your kid's school, if it forced the NRA and the frothy gun nuts to likewise accept some gun control and support and funding for mental health programs?

Would you accept it if it banned civilian ownership of assault weapons and hi-cap magazines and armor piercing rounds?

Would you accept it If it mandated that every gun owner also be a gun safe owner and that they must keep their weapons secured when not in use, with trigger locks.  And with ammo locked up separately. And jail time, confiscation, and fines for non-compliance? Would you accept it, if it closed the loopholes for gun and ammo purchases at gun shows and other such venues, including sales between individuals? What about mandated training for new gun owners, some basic minimum at least to the level that we require for driver’s licensing?

Would you accept it, if those officers were also required to be child field psychologists and/or counselors? Trained to watch for developing problems, whose primary job was to watch for the kind of developing problems that lead to gun violence in schools, whose real job was to help prevent the violence before it began instead of stopping it once it started.  Who was also by inclination and training a confidant and role model for those desperately in need of one?

Would you accept it, if it was paid for with licensing fees and taxes on gun purchases, by substantial fines on those who failed to comply with the law? Including those at gun shows?  And that that funding was mandated by law and could only be used for the things specified here, period. In other words, would you accept it if every gun and bullet bought automatically counter-balanced itself with funding for finding and fixing the root causes of gun violence? 

What if we made violence pay for ending violence?

Do I think this would really happen? Do I think this is what the NRA was actually suggesting?

No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

But it’s a place to start.

 

Think of it this way: Take Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion, look him and the NRA right in the eye, and say, “Challenge accepted.”

 

 


The first two parts of this essay are here:

Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two

 

Related Essay written after the Aurora Massacre :

The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

 


And again, the same warning holds here as in the previous two parts: if you’re a first time reader and you don’t know me and you came here all ready to school my liberal America hatin’ tree hugging ass about guns, stop. Read Part One, read it all of the way through, especially that last paragraph, the part where I explain my background when it comes to guns. It’s very likely that I know far more about guns and their usage under combat condition than you will ever know.  It’s quite likely that I own more guns than you do. Read the commenting rules, heed and obey. If you feel that you can’t adhere to the admonishments set forth in this paragraph, then leave. Don’t comment, don’t email me with your NRA bullshit, just leave. This will be your one and only warning.

202 comments:

  1. Will you *please* run for national office? Please????

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    1. Damned good idea!

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    2. OK, then take over the NRA. That's how the current nuts got to run the place in the 1970's.

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  2. I've been waiting for you to address that asinine Timmy McVeigh comparison since it first hit my Facebook wall.

    Aaaaah, catharsis.

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    1. Actually, there a tons of ways around the laws they put into effect after Oklahoma City. For instance, they track fertilizer sales, yes. BUT, if you buy a large enough amount they assume you're a farm and don't check what you're purchasing it for. Even if they do check, if you happen to live on / own a farm they'll assume you want to use it for that. Seriously, do you folks really think there are "inspectors" running around this country asking folks what they intend to use the fertilizer for? Seriously? And as someone who went through the same training that McVeigh did, I know the mix to create those bombs. It's really easy.

      Now the one thing they DID do that deters this kind of thing is that several of the fertilizer manufacturers changed their formulae so that their product can't be made into an explosive. However, not all of them have done so.

      I've actually been looking into this kind of thing simply because a) I was trained as a Combat Engineer and know something about mobility / couter-mobility and b) I'm thinking of writing a book about a terrorist attack in the SF Bay area. (Either that or selling the concept to Tom Clancy.) Frankly, since I know how easy it would be to do, I get the willies every time I drive over some of the bridges.

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    3. Frightening as that is Lucas, I think an alarm bell would ring if 20-yo Adam Lanza suddenly wanted to buy a large load of fertilizer. One hopes someone would get suspicious.

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    4. Jeff Lamm AO3, USN, MPI US ArmyDecember 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

      I dunno Rob, the Aurora shooter was able to order and stockpile thousands of rounds of ammo, 3 guns, Assault level SWAT armor, gas and smoke grenades and no one raised an eyebrow.

      That's gotta change.

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  3. Jim, all i could think of all afternon was how to find a bully pulpit and scream at that bastard LaPierre, "Who the fuck told you that you could speak?" I, the news junkie, had to turn off the TV tonight. So I say thank you for articulating what I probably could only have conveyed in a torrent of unintelligible sputtering. And a week later, I finally cried.

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  4. Jim, all i could think of all afternon was how to find a bully pulpit and scream at that bastard LaPierre, "Who the fuck told you that you could speak?" I, the news junkie, had to turn off the TV tonight. So I say thank you for articulating what I probably could only have conveyed in a torrent of unintelligible sputtering. And a week later, I finally cried.

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  5. I think you are right about flooding the country with more and more guns. We will just end up a big prison. Like Mexico, but WITH a right to bear arms.

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    1. I've got a home in Mexico and feel safer there than here. One of my neighbors probably won't shoot me for being up too late at night and hanging out in my back yard singing karaoke too loud. (I don't do karaoke, but that's all I can come up with this late at night.)

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  6. Wow, that is just what I was thinking. I would vote for you Jim. It seems you have the same common sense thinking as my dad. And my dad says that any elected public officials that truly try to make changes for the better, get chewed up and spit out by the naysayers. It's a no win situation.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions, I enjoy reading them.

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  7. All I can say is, Thank You.
    Brilliant.
    Tonight when the UK news reported on LaPierre's response, they had to state TWICE that it was nit a spoof.

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    1. It does sound like a Monty Python segment come to think of it - "I'm not dead yet! More guns!"

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  8. Yep, common sense...Jim is the Yoda of common sense...when that "Doctor" was killing those folks down there in Texas... he was in the middle of an armed camp...Jim has it right and he gets my vote...

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  9. Because what we really need in an already chaotic situation is more people with guns randomly shooting in the direction of gunfire. Because if you have a gun you will automatically know which shooter is the bad guy and which is the good guy, 'cause the good guy will be wearing a white hat.

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  10. Most people are missing the more important issue with placing armed guards in schools, especially elementary schools.
    What kind of society will we have in 15 years when every student has grown up expecting to be surrounded daily by armed guards. They will not object when the guards are standing on street corners and in parks. Not only will they not object, they will expect them to be there.
    It's probably already too late. Kids are growing up with computers and smart phones that can track your every movement. They are going to graduate high school expecting that kind of surveillance.
    This is not a pretty picture, nor do I think I'm being overly pessimistic. This is going to happen.
    We cannot let it happen with armed guards as well.

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    1. Didn't we used to have "the cop on the corner" back in the day? At least in the cities? I thought those days were looked back on with nostalgia...

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    2. I am with Nick. I worry that these security/conspricy nuts are going to put us into a situation where all weapons will be taken, because they start an insurrection in a hissy fit.

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    3. Lucas M, we did not have a "cop on the corner" back in the day. From a viewpoint of police officers per 10,000 population we had more cops in 2000 than at any other time in our nation's history (it's declined slightly since then due to the Bush Depression and the refusal of the Republican Congress to renew Clinton's programs to put more cops on the streets, but not by much). The city of 200,000 that I grew up in had 40 police officers on duty at any time in 1970 to patrol that city and a little over 200 officers total (a factlet I know because my dad was a personal friend of the police commissioner). Today that city has 575 sworn officers and around 100 officers on patrol duty at any time, patrolling the same area and same number of people.

      Peggy, regarding insurrection, I have to say "bring it on". Gun violence disgusts the majority of Americans who aren't batshit crazy, and a large number of gun owners going nuts and trying something ridiculous like that will a) get them killed by our very effective National Security State, and b) disgust sufficient people to vote for a Constitutional amendment to ban personal ownership of guns, thereby rendering their 2nd Amendment argument moot. But of course these legends in their own mind aren't going to do an insurrection. They might rant and rave like they would, but they're merely stupid, not completely insane, and know deep down in their hearts that if they tried it they'd be slaughtered like cows at a slaughterhouse.

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  11. I know I'm a PITA about 9/11 as a date (my office was 4 blks from the WTC and all) instead of 911 (calling the FDYPD/Ambulance), but other than that, ITA.

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  12. Thank you for all of this, but particularly the "what if" train. That is exactly the road I take when these crazies decide they know that everything goes better with guns. So much good in here.

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  13. The answer to a crazy NRA is very, very simple: Every sane person in America joins the NRA; we all suss it out; we all vote in the board members we want to have in those positions; and we marginalize the rabid members until they get all poutraged and leave.

    I left the NRA some years ago. I'm coming back, and I'm bringing my friends with me.

    Who's coming along?

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    1. A further thought: IF the NRA wants to put a gun in the hand of every teacher (Never mind about FORCING people to bear arms, irrespective of their wishes in the matter)-- does that mean that the NEA gets to put a teacher in every gun store?

      You know, I think that has legs.

      A History or Civics teacher, standing by, stalwartly defending the Constitution by administering an ad hoc exam on the Constitution-- you know, the tough parts, that deal with cloture and Parliamentary procedure (with special emphasis on that hoary old chestnut, Article IV and secession).

      Perhaps an English teacher: Hell, son, you're so adamant that everyone speak English here, let's see just how well you do before you buy that Glock. And, AND, if you want an assault rifle? Well, the thinking people of this nation want a 10,000 word essay on the archetype of the Rugged Individualist in post-WWII American novels. Points off for poor spelling. Neatness counts.

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    2. I've been thinking of that myself, Captain. I read somewhere that's actually how this current batch of nuts got to power - there was a takeover in maybe it was the 70's? Anyhow, only downside I see is that a surge in the NRA membership these days would make it look like there are more crazies buying their line...

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    3. Captain Blight, I think you are on to something! And I LOVE the 10,000 word essay idea.

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    4. Captain Blight,
      I am a teacher and I would LOVE to do that at out local "Bear Arms" gun shop. Last week in the local Po-Dunk paper, the owner was actually commenting on the apocolypse and how sales were up. Half of our students were missing in the last two days because a kid was posting threats ("But officer, it was a joke!") on Facebook. Men in fatigues and several armed police were walking around campus. OBVIOUSLY, the public didn't feel safer, because students were not here. I work smack-dab in the middle of Paranoia Valley. I would volunteer what little free time I had to such a worthy cause. Could we dole out punishments for belligerent acts, foul language and verbal abuse? "Sorry sir, you will have to take the 1,000 question psychology test so we can be extra sure that little outburst isn't a reflection of actual state of mind." Did you just call me a bitch? "50 community service hours at the local PETA office, please." Sounds like fun!

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    5. Love it, Captain, just love it!
      Lorraine

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    6. I've better things to spend my limited money on. Declare the NRA to be a terrorist organization and do what we do to terrorists with em.

      I'm only half kidding here, and I'm not sure which half.

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    7. I believe that was suggested on an episode of The West Wing. My problem with that approach is that I think these people would be more dangerous if they felt they had no representation. Of course, I can't be completely serious in this criticism, seeing as these are the very same nuts who seem to have somehow convinced themselves they aren't being given a voice.

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  14. I believe this is where that idea is coming from...or at least is someone who thinks along the same lines as the NRA.

    http://www.policeone.com/active-shooter/articles/2058168-Lt-Col-Dave-Grossman-to-cops-The-enemy-is-denial/

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  15. Must say Mr Jim i am impressed with this post. I have neglected this site for a few years. I was turned off with some premise? This particular subject made me want to read your reaction. I really like your style of writing. Will check back. AKjah.

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  16. Yup, the NRA blamed everyone but themselves for this latest shooting. I'm surprised that they didn't suggest staffing the schools with commandos armed with nuclear weapons in their back pocket.

    As much as I dislike uttering the "R-word" they should seriously consider changing their name to National Retarded Assholes.

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    1. Seriously, please tell me how the NRA is responsible for this latest tragedy? Inquiring minds want to know. How is a third party guilty for the behavior of a madman? If people should be forced to give up their rights due to someone else abusing them then none of us should have the right to free speach due to the behavior of the Westborough Baptist Church.

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    2. Lucas, the NRA bears a part of the responsibility because it has driven the process of creating a society where there are no meaningful restrictions on gun ownership. Realize this, the NRA does not give one single care about the average gun owner. They have been in the employ of gun manufacturers for decades. Look, I mean really go look, at their positions for the last 20 years. In every case, they have lobbied against any hint of common sense gun restrictions. We are reaping what they have sowed.

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    3. "I'm surprised that they didn't suggest staffing the schools with commandos armed with nuclear weapons in their back pocket." Yeah, I guess they would be National Retarded Assholes if they did that. But they didn't. So what's your point? Exaggerating to the point of hysterical absurdity can make anyone sound extreme and doesn't support your argument.
      I like the Swiss model. But the Swiss are a homogeneous society, and their gun politics probably wouldn't work very well in the U.S.A. We are a melting pot that doesn't melt much, though the vast majority of lawful owners of guns do not go around murdering children or adults. We should have a system of qualifying and permitting. Training in the proper use of weapons as a prerequisite to ownership is reasonable. The gun courses I went through weren't exactly as full as they should be. Those should not be voluntary, but I doubt if nutcases and gang bangers would attend with their stolen guns. That genie's already out of the bottle. So, we're right back where we started.

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    4. Matt, you do know that it was at one time legal for any American to own any kind of firearm, yes? Back in the 1930s you could go out and buy a full auto "Tommy Gun" with a 100 round magazine if you wanted. We have already cut back on what is legal to own.

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    5. Fresh Air - NRA has bound our govt's hands in reporting what it knows about guns used in crimes - much more here - http://n.pr/ZW2P6O

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    6. Lucas M, the NRA has done more than making sure your right to a .50 cal rifle for target practice, they also helped scuttle any attempt to limit types of ammunition, including armor piercing rounds and teflon coated rounds.

      But what is worse if the NRA has successfully lobbied to prevent the ATF from releasing the data they gather regarding gun deaths. They've also successfully kept the CDC from conducting research regarding gun deaths. So there is no definitive, reviewed studies to actually make informed decisions with.

      Also, it was only within the last 100 years that you couldn't sell snake oil as a medicine, had to list the opiate content in drugs, and had the Attorney General in charge of controlled substances. What's you're point about the Tommy Guns (which were banned because of their use by criminals)?

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    7. Ohhh, Lucas. Lucas, Lucas, Lucas.

      If by now you haven't seen the slide of the NRA from marksmanship organization into full-blown lobbyist organization, then either you are very young, very blind, very stupid, or all three at once.
      Here's a little tidbit the NRA doesn't want you to know: The then-director of the NRA (I disremember his name right now) was asked to vett GCA '68; it was approved without objection. THAT is how far the NRA has moved from its roots. To go from being OK with a bill that was intended to keep American citizens from getting too much firepower (granted, those Citizens were Huey Long and the Black Panthers, but that's another argument) to being the "not one inch" monolith they are today.

      If you read through the back issues of American Rifleman from the '50s through to today, you will notice a very sharp change in tone starting in about 1978. This was when the paranoia started. I cant even pretend to speak to the reasons for it, but following on the heels of the 1977 Cinnicinnati Surprise, and the election of Harlon Carter as EVP, a sharp mind can find hidden nuggets buried in the datastream.

      As Mr Buchheit wrote in the post above mine, the NRA has lobbied to make sure that the American public is not allowed access to all the information available about gun violence. Since we don't have all the information, we can't have an informed discussion. But consider this: In the 8 days since the Newtown Massacre, there have been a FURTHER 128 gun deaths, and that doesn't even include the suicides.

      We need to fix this problem. And it is a problem. The first step is YOU, and people like you, admitting we have a problem.

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  17. I had this comment posted on my wall...
    Time to seriously consider a Swiss model for gun control AND for our Armed Forces personnel. The "voluntary" armed forces eliminated the education of our population regarding war and defense. Volunteers should be welcomed, but the base should be a "national armed forces service" for young men and women at the graduation of High School, or 18 years of age, whichever comes first, with a full 12 months of minimum service, no exceptions, disabled people should participate too, with assignments proper to their range of capabilities... we should make those who want to 'play army' actually have to get army training...
    This is the post, it came from "Real Truth Now", on the FB, and it is a great summary:

    SWITZERLAND - 1 IN 2 CITIZENS HAVE GUNS - LOWEST CRIME RATE IN WORLD

    This meme is frequently used by the US gun lobby as a justification to arm our entire citizenry. Their reasoning is that sensible gun regulation equates to taking guns away from the people, as they argue that Switzerland stays safe by deliberately putting guns in the hands of their citizens. Both claims are false. The push for common sense gun regulation in the US has nothing to do with "taking away" weapons. The second, perhaps more important truth, is that Switzerland is a leader in practicing the stringent yet fair gun control that many of us have been advocating for, and that the NRA has been fighting tooth and nail against. Switzerland is a model for showing that sensible gun regulation works exceedingly well to prevent crime and establish an emotionally healthy, balanced, law-abiding society.

    Let me set the scene: Switzerland does not have a standing army, opting instead for a civilian militia. That militia IS their army, so those carrying weapons in public are not private citizens acting freely as individuals, they are structured members of a military, charged with protecting their nation. Switzerland's military model isn't about allowing their citizens the "right" to have weapons, it's about creating an army through different means. Guns in Switzerland are seen as tools for national -- not personal -- defense. That's an important distinction for those trying to draw comparisons for gun use in the two countries to come to terms with. Members of their militia are drafted, they have no say over the matter. Nearly all men between the ages of 20 and 30 are included, and women are allowed to volunteer.

    Guns are a huge hobby in Switzerland, but approximately half of all personal firearms are stored at gun clubs, away from the home, where they prove less of a threat to the family. Despite the claims we hear from the US gun lobby, gun ownership in Switzerland is nowhere near as common as it is in the US. The Swiss household gun-ownership rate is 27% excluding militia weapons. Contrast this with household gun-ownership rates of 9% for Germans, 16% for Italians, 23% for French, and 37% for the US. If we included military weapons in the US total (as the creator of this meme did for Switzerland), the ownership rate in the US would be much higher.

    Once members of the Swiss military have fulfilled their 10 years of service, they have the option of retaining their military weapon, however the automatic features of the gun are stripped away. All guns in the hand of civilians are user-loading, greatly reducing the threat to society. Citizens are allowed to own a maximum of 3 weapons at any given time.

    (Continued in part II)

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  18. SWITZERLAND… (Part II)

    There is a huge emphasis on gun safety and training in Switzerland. Anyone wishing to own or use a gun must submit to a complex background check that includes mental and physical health screening, as well as considerable hands on experience and extensive training which stresses safe use of guns, understanding the law itself, and understanding the social implications of inappropriate gun use. After proving "need", those wishing to own and use a gun must obtain a permit which they are required to carry on their person, which must be updated every 6 months after need has again been proven. You aren't given blanket permission to own and use a gun forever for whatever purpose you want. Anyone with a criminal history, even for relatively minor crimes, are forbidden from owning guns. In the US, all you need to purchase and use a gun is a photo ID. As a direct result of this lack of oversight, guns in the hands of criminals are rife in the US.

    Gun sellers in Switzerland are required to perform complex background checks, and to provide a "reasonable certainty" that the guns they sell will not be used for criminal activity. Sellers that fail to follow those procedures become directly accountable for crimes committed with any guns they sell. The participants in these transactions are required to prepare a written contract detailing the identities of both vendor and purchaser, the weapon's type, manufacturer, and serial number. If that gun is then resold by the owner, the same paperwork needs to be completed again, and entered into a national database. BB guns, paintball guns, and imitations of real guns are also governed by the law, as is gunpowder. The sale of automatic weapons and certain accessories such as "silencers" and high capacity gun clips are forbidden without a special permit which requires an additional, more thorough screening.

    In the US, you can buy any of these items anonymously at a gun show and through the internet. The lack of gun monitoring forced on our nation by "hands-off" gun advocates is so complete that someone could build a standing army without setting off any failsafe alarms, as many of those involved in mass shootings and other US-based crimes have done.

    Until very recently, all military ammunition in Switzerland was government issued, and checks were performed each year to verify that no unauthorized use of ammunition had taken place. While the government no longer provides ammunition through a central clearinghouse, it still monitors it very closely, with each weapon and each bullet accounted for at all times, tracked to individual owners, who are held accountable for their weapons. Those who want to target practice (including citizens), must do so at a government approved target ranges where all ammunition can be carefully accounted for.

    In the US, the NRA has successful blocked registration and tracking requirements, so that we literally have no idea how many guns are out there, what kind they are, what add-on features they have, and who has possession of them. Switzerland has stringent laws for illegal possession of weapons, which serves as a powerful deterrent to crime and keeps the weapons out of the hands of criminals, while America has a "no regulation" policy that puts guns directly in the hands of criminals, and affords them the same access to guns as anyone else in society. Every single weapon in the hands of criminals in the US came from a legal gun sale.

    In Switzerland, citizens and members of the military are not allowed to use their weapons to settle personal arguments. The penalties for improper use of firearms are more severe than America's penalties for many forms of homicide.

    (Continued in part III)

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  19. SWITZERLAND… (Part III)

    Gun transport in Switzerland is considerably more regulated than in the US: The ammunition must be separated from the gun, so in the event of a theft, the criminal is not obtaining a working weapon. There needs to be a clear justification for transport; You aren't allowed to keep a gun in your trunk for personal protection. It must be on your person, where you can more accurately be held accountable for its use.

    Because of Switzerland's thorough yet common sense gun regulation, there is very little gun violence, and you rarely see a mass shooting there of the type we see in the US nearly monthly. Their civilian guns simply lack the firepower required for military use, and are instead geared to something more logical for personal protection.

    One of the reasons the crime rate in Switzerland is low despite the prevalence of weapons, and also why the Swiss mentality can’t be transposed to the current American reality, is a culture of responsibility and safety that is anchored in society and passed from generation to generation. Anyone choosing to pick up a gun in Switzerland is held fully accountable for what happens next.

    Where Switzerland has a structured civilian army whose purpose it is to protect the populace in the event of a credible threat, America has a formal military alongside disparate renegade vigilante cowboys insistent on taking the law into their own hands.

    Switzerland's focus on personal responsibility proves two things:

    1) Sensible common sense gun regulation works exceedingly well not only to reduce gun violence and crime, but also to restructure corrupt and dangerous societal views on guns, that are directly responsible for the majority of gun violence in the US.

    2) If the US hopes to get our violent gun crime under control, we need to start holding gun owners fully accountable for their choice to own and use guns. Punishment for inappropriate use of weapons needs to be far more severe, and the cowboy mentality of taking the law into our own hands needs to be eradicated. The solution to rampant gun violence long advocated by the gun crowd in the US takes exactly the opposite tack: no rules, no accountability. Trust the gun owner to do the right thing, and then deny accountability for any and all violence that results from that failed policy.

    Of course other social issues also come into play: Switzerland has an excellent record for social equality, universal access to health care which emphasizes (instead of excluding) mental health resources, and a well-functioning government. All of those things help, and none of them can be separated from the whole. Switzerland's balanced controlled perspective on gun use defines their healthy society, just as America's narrowly self-serving perspective defines our violent and dysfunctional society and government.

    ~ Kerry

    http://world.time.com/2012/12/20/the-swiss-difference-a-gun-culture-that-works/

    http://www.ibtimes.com/us-gun-control-debate-what-can-we-learn-switzerland-732104

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/mythbusting-israel-and-switzerland-are-not-gun-toting-utopias/

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/page/291349_Rightwingers_you_want_Swiss_St

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland

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    1. At the same time I read this, a blogger who resides in Switzerland reports that homicides per capita in Switzerland are the highest in Europe, so their availability of guns isn't all benign.

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    2. Not really, only if you look at a spike in 2003 and 2004, otherwise, Germany and Switzerland are around 0.2 per 100.000 (UNODC homicide statistics and German and Swiss databases). Contrast with USA 3.2 homicide by firearm per 100.000 population (2010) or 16 times the rate for Germany and Switzerland.... I know bloggers... they aren't writing papers for peer review... they try to make a point... a statistic out of context can be deadly, almost as much as a AK-47...

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  20. Jim, you are absolutely on fire with this one as well you should be. Even though the reason that you wrote this essay is horrific, I still laughed. Picturing Mr. Ali Mohammed walking into his classroom with his concealed weapon and then picturing the face of Wayne LaPierre, who would be aghast at what he had advocated, was just too much for me. I had to laugh. I hope that doesn't make me the crazy person.

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  21. NRA's response is like throwing more fire at a house that's already on fire. All that it accomplishes is a bigger and more destructive fire.

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  22. I must admit, even my old cynical self was surprised at the level of stupidity showed by the NRA yesterday. I'm actually looking forward, just a little bit to seeing this one play out. I'm wondering how long it will be before the NRA's right leaning base realizes that Wayne LaPierre just laid out the plan that sees us taking the first steps toward a police state. I wonder how long it will be before the "small government" right realizes that LaPierre just laid out a plan that will increase the size of the government by 600,000 people and 10 billion dollars per year. If we follow that plan, we will be less free and less affluent as a country, and the killings will go on.

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    1. I believe the logic here is that we guard our money with more care than we guard our children. What does that say about our society?

      As for the cost of retrofiting the schools for protecting against this kind of attacker; we did that for fire safety and earthquake safety many times without batting an eye. Why shouldn't we also take into account the possibility of an attacker. Even taking away the possibility of a crazed nut job we still have terrorists out there who would love to do the same damned thing.

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  23. I could write a lengthy response, but won't. I noted many uber conservative discrepancies, but one that really popped out - smaller government - YES! Except when we need to push our agenda. Load up those schools with armed guards, but don't even talk about more taxes for actual education. Same sad knee jerk reaction.

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  24. EXCELLENT commentary! We need more like minded people in government.

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  25. Mr. Wright, I enjoy your writing and agree with some of this post. Everything you have discussed has some pros and cons, and which one is which depends on where one falls in the spectrum of opinion on guns.

    I am hesitant to post here because I'll be pilloried, but that's ok.
    I'm an NRA Life Member, for purposes of full disclosure here. I own several guns too, but I do not own any of the AR-15 type ones, but mostly just because I haven't wanted to spend the money. I hunt and target shoot occasionally.

    The NRA is like a lightning rod for everyone who dislikes the current gun laws. The NRA could propose to have all guns in the U.S. confiscated and there would be those who would still hate them. Everyone is screaming about having a conversation, but when the NRA speaks the conversation part seems to be forgotten and more screaming and raving occurs - not saying that you are part - but it's out there. I believe the rapid dismissal of the NRA's view by many gun control groups will not facilitate any consensus solution to the problem of mass shootings. It will create more mistrust of all proposals, by NRA members and many law-abiding gun owners, however. Calmer voices need to rise and be heard, in general.

    I happen to believe that the NRA proposal is plausible. Whether or not that is the final outcome of whatever happens in the next year or so remains to be seen.

    I genuinely thank you for your service to the U.S.A!



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    1. I will vote for the NRA's proposal, if the guards are certified music, Latin, or art teachers, and teach full class loads in those areas.

      danny

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Matt, nobody should have to worry about being pilloried here, providing that they are respectful of the other commenters and speak intelligently, as you did.

      Thanks for your comment, it made me think a bit more about my own position, which I put into an addendum to the original post above.

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    4. It looks like the idiotic rhetoric of LaPierre has been running off prominent lifetime NRA members for many years now. Thought you'd find this interesting.

      http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/11/us/letter-of-resignation-sent-by-bush-to-rifle-association.html

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  26. "He's coming to take our guns! He's coming to take our guns!" Sorry, I'm exaggerating. We'll see.

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    1. Part of the problem is that there are historical precidents all over the world of governments taking weapons away. It's also pretty much a given that any "power" we give the government WILL get abused. Seriously, I have read many times about how law enforcement and the FBI have abused the new powers of the Patriot Act. WHY should someone think anything else is going to happen when the government says "trust us" over and over and then fails in that trust every damned time?

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    2. Lucas M, in a democracy, government is We The People. As far as I know, every single one of the people who govern us was elected by the majority of the voters in his or her state or district. Are you saying that We The People are incompetent to govern ourselves, and thus an unelected minority must determine things like, say, whether We The People should ban guns or not? Are you saying, in effect, that you want a tyranny of the minority over the majority? Because that is what I'm seeing -- that you in effect want a tyranny where a minority with your views imposes their view upon the majority that polls show wish for sensible restrictions upon guns.

      In short, from my seat it appears you hate democracy. Just saying what I'm seeing here.

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    3. This country was founded as a Constitutional Republic. That is where the law rules, and our lawmakers are elected democratically to represent the people. Democracies are two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

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    4. That is utter nonsense, Anonymous. The reality is that sheep outnumber wolves by a factor of 1,000 to 1. You would have the wolves determine what is for dinner, rather than the non-violent peace-loving sheep. We have a word for that, and it is called TYRANNY.

      'Nuff said.

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    5. Lucas, you've stated that "any 'power' we give the government WILL get abused". I have to assume then that if we give the government the power of placing armed guards in our schools, this too will be abused?

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    6. BradTux needs to read about our history before he makes a fool of himself. Democracy is mob rule, and our founders abhorred that form of government.

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    7. So Anonymous, what is your answer to the tyranny of the minority of wolves over the majority of lambs, if not rule by the majority, a.k.a. the lambs? Are you saying that because our founding fathers kept slaves and treated women like property, that we should keep slaves and treat women like property? Should we go back to counting black men as only 3/5ths of a white man again because that's how our founding fathers did it? Hmm?

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    8. Deflecting the argument is a common ploy for those unable to argue the point. Democracies devolve into the tyranny of the masses. They will vote themselves the public purse, vote to take away their own freedoms if it means keeping their government stipend. In a country where half the people are on some form of government assistance because our jobs are purposely being encouraged to be shipped overseas by our government, the law abiding sheep will be devoured by the masses of government dependent wolves who will vote to deprive me of my liberties enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights and my wealth will redistributed among illegal aliens who now can vote, and that would be fine with you in a democracy. Study history then get back to me before you argue forms of government. We have a problem in this country, and it is the educational system that is at its root. Our children our not taught the Constitution or history. They haven't the slightest idea of what it means to be free and will vote for bread and circuses until we go the way of Rome for lack of knowledge. You can't be ignorant and free.

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    9. So in other words, Anonymous, you hate democracy and wish for your minority to rule over the majority enforcing your will at gunpoint. Thank you for making that clear. In the meantime, since the alternative to rule by the majority (a.k.a. democracy) is the tyranny of the minority, and since I hate tyrants, all I have to say is I have no liking for tyrants (and thus no liking for you or *any* wanna-be jackboots that want to enforce their will upon the majority at gunpoint) and that's all I need to say.

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    10. You haven't understood a word I just said. We are going into an authoritarian dictatorship, which will be in full bloom by the time our children have grown, because of people like you who are incapable of understanding or learning from history. Our leaders are ignoring the laws of this land because people like you haven't the slightest idea of what laws restrain the government.

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    11. Jesus H. Christ, Anonymous (2:30), step away from the Talk Radio.

      Our children aren't being taught history or the Constitution? Oh c'mon, you can do better than that. Our children have been stepping up and swearing their lives to the Constitution for the last ten years. I've led them, and taught them, and watched them bleed and die in foreign lands for the Constitution, for freedom, for their fellow countrymen, for the ideal of America. Don't tell me that they don't learn the Constitution or history, they're living history right now.

      Nobody is depriving you of your rights, Anonymous. Just as nobody is depriving you of your right to drive just because there's a speed limit or because you have to pay a gasoline tax to pave the roads. And I'd be careful bitching about the self-centeredness of your fellow citizens, given the total message of your comment. Beam, eye, and all of that, you know.

      We are not anywhere near an dictatorship and unlikely to get there anytime soon. Neither the Left nor the Right will allow that to happen, even if they don't agree on the method, they certainly agree on that. We wobble left and right around the centerline, that's how our America was designed. And our leaders are not ignoring the law of the land, it's just that you don't like the law of the land - and in some cases neither do I. But that doesn't mean they are "ignoring the law." The SCOTUS has upheld some of the adminstration's directives and shot down others. That's how it works, and if you're going to tell me next that you know more about the Constitution than the Supreme Court, I'm going to laugh in your face.

      When you have a fractious nation of nearly 400 million, you're going to get some arguing, we were designed this way. If you get everything you want, you're not living in either a republic or a democracy. If you only have to worry about yourself, and not about your neighbors, you're not living in civilization.

      You've managed to hit every single libertarian buzzword and dog whistle exactly as if you're reading them off the Glenn Beck website. You've run the gamut, top to bottom, and I've let you do it. But it's getting tedious. Either advance the conversation with something original or you're done.

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    12. Very Ayn Randian of you, anon @ 2:30 pm.

      What evidence do you have that the Constitution and history are not taught in our schools?

      You do realize, don't you, that retired people CONTRIBUTED to Social Security and Medicare? And that a lot of the people receiving government assistance are CHILDREN?

      Again, what evidence do you have that "...our jobs are purposely being encouraged to be shipped overseas by our government."?

      You have been reading, and apparently believing, too many false e-mails.

      Go to politifact.com and factcheck.org (subsidized by those Reagan supporters/avid Republicans, the Annenbergs) to look up some REAL facts.

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    13. If I continue, I'll be ousted. Another time. I appreciate Jim's arguments, or I wouldn't be here. He's profane but smart. I'm not a libertarian though, and never claimed to be one. I don't agree with many aspects of libertarianism, just those that agree with the Constitution. I'm a Constitutionalist and believe in the rule of law.

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    14. Also, I'd like to add that I think Glenn Beck is a creepy asshole. Even his supporters might agree. I don't support him though. I like Ron Paul, but I don't agree with everything he says.

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    15. I didn't say you'd be ousted or banned. What I said was stop regurgitating rightwing talking points or you'd be done with this thread. I appreciate that you've been reasonably polite, really, and Tux as well. But, Anon, go reread your comment, the one at 2:30. There's one period in that entire thing. One. Read it out loud, do you see how that sounds?

      Look, I know that I personally tend to run on, but c'mon here. You say you're not a Beck fan, but listen to yourself, they're taking away our rights, they're coming for our guns, dictatorship!

      You're welcome to continue, and so is Tux, but for the love of little green apples, take a deep breath, please.

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    16. I've taken the deep breath, and it feels good. Good night.

      Delete
    17. Nine periods at 2:30, I believe. But I get your point.

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    18. I was gonna be polite, but i find I'm not really able to do that right now.

      Anonymous, go dig up the rotting corpse of your syphilitic whore of a mother and skull-fuck it for doing such a shitty job of parenting you. You're a coward and a dumbfuck. Take your stupidity elsewhere, or shut the fuck up and let the grownups talk.

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    19. Ok, enough of that, Captain. Anybody gets told to shut up or get the fuck out, I'll do it.

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    20. Real grownup talk there Captain Blight.

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    21. Stop. Everybody. Right now.

      Go back and read the commenting rules. You don't have to agree with each, you don't have to apologize to each other, you don't have to respect each other. But you will all stop being dicks, or I will ban the whole damned lot of you.

      This is the last warning.

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    22. Understood and acknowledged, Chief, my apologies to you for being rude in your house. It won't happen again.

      Delete
  27. Brilliant as usual Jim. Thanks for articulating what so many of us wish to say.

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  28. As much as I enjoy your work, I dearly hope there is no need for you to write a 4th essay for this trilogy.

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    1. Unfortunately, the recent history of your country, makes it almost inevitable.

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  29. Armed guards in all schools is fine with me as long as the NRA pays for ALL of them, their training, their ammo, etc., instead of ever escalating property taxes paying for armed guards. Let's see if the NRA will put their money where their mouths are.

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    1. I've seen the people in the NRA. I wouldn't let them train a dog to lick it's own ass.

      All this talk about increasing security. Two Code Pink protestors got into LaPierres speech (Cuz it sure as HELL wasn't a press conference. He wouldn't take any questions, the coward). What if they'd had guns instead of signs and chants? Ol Wayne would've been a greasy smear. The problem with security is it has to be 100% right ALL the time. Bad guys only need to get it right once. And security, GOOD security, is expensive as hell.

      It can and will be a helluva lot easier and cheaper to change gun laws, amned that fucked up 2nd amendment, and get rid of the same guns that are constantly used to slaughter people. Same with these drums and extended mags. Thats jsut a start. But increasing security? We can do that jsut by doing what I said above and increasing the availability of mental health care.

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    2. I was being facetious in my post. I was just wondering if the NRA would pony up their own money for this insane proposal. Would the NRA use their own money to save children from the gun nuts in their membership? After all, it was the NRA's own solution to this atrocity. Throw it right back in their faces.

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  30. Grover Norquist is on the NRA Board -- along with Ted Nugent, Oliver North, and Chuck Norris. And why does Chuck Norris need a gun anyway?

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    1. Chuck Norris wants everyone to have guns, especially the bad guys so he can display his Chuck Norris powers by disarming them with a Chuck Norris powered glance, and kicking the shit out of them with a Chuck Norris powered roundhouse kick. Chuck Norris wants to do this as often as possible so we won't notice and ask Chuck Norris what the fuck is going on with his no longer Chuck Norris powered hair . . .

      As for Ted and Grover and Wayne LaPierre, I think that we should give them some much needed experience with the AR-15 family of firearms in a combat situation. None of the three have even a day of military service, let alone combat, and LaPierre and Nugent actively dodged the draft during Viet Nam. I say suit 'em up and send them to Afghanistan for a year so they can see how a society with no social rules on weapon ownership or use operates. Mogadishu might be another possibility.

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    2. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredDecember 22, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      I thought you were kidding, Elmo, but there it is - all those folks (and more) at Board members of the NRA. YIKES!! I think this explains a lot, actually. http://www.meetthenra.org/board-list

      As for Chuck Norris, over the last few years I've lost a lot of respect for him. Jim does a good job with Chuck in this post from earlier this year. One of his best - http://www.stonekettle.com/2012/09/scream-and-shout.html?m=0

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    3. All anyone needs to do to see the NRAs speech and suggestions are utter crap is look at the people who support the NRA and the "moar gunzs" ideas.
      LaPierre, Nugent, Norris, Norquist, Louie Gohmert, Victoria Jackson, Rick Perry, Huckabee, and so on and on.

      None of those people is sane enough to be allowed to have guns, much less tell us what to do with them, so why should we give any credence to what they say?

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    4. Because they're not the only ones saying it.

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    5. Jim if they're suggesting it, I submit it's automatically suspect, regardless of who plays along. As the lobbying arm of the Gun manufacturers, their job is get more guns sold, and they don't care who gets them.

      Some schools need armed security, some don't. It's a case by case thing. But what we should be working on is making it so that none of them need an armed guard, not all of them.

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    6. We are agreed in principle, Jeff.

      Read what I wrote at the end of the addendum. I said I might consider the NRA's suggestion for some armed security in some schools, providing that equal attention was given to finding and fixing the causes of gun violence, i.e. mental health, and only so long as it was part of gun control measures and increased penalties for irresponsible gun owners. And gun/ammo sales paid for it.

      Look, I don't want armed security in my kid's school either. I don't want to live in a society where that's necessary. I've been to Israel, I don't want to live there.

      However, I've got armed police in my son's school already. And they're good guys, well trained, intelligent, and respected by the staff and students and parents. So do a lot of schools. Like it or not, there I am.

      So, take the NRA's suggestion at face value, what if we mandated well trained professional security in schools? (not some NRA dipshit with a beer belly and a hi-cap Desert Eagle). What I'm saying here is this: would you be willing to accept a well trained armed cop in your kid's school, if it forced the NRA and the frothy gun nuts to likewise accept some gun control and support and funding for mental health programs? Would you accept it if it banned civilian ownership of assault weapons and hi-cap magazines and armor piercing rounds? If it mandated that every gun owner also be a gun safe owner and that they must keep their weapons secured when not in use, with trigger locks and ammo locked up separately and jail time, confiscation, and fines for non-compliance?

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    7. Good point about needing better mental health programs, and possibly funding them through gun/ammo sales. I could support that.

      On the assault weapon point - I thought you made a statement in your Bang bang Crazy 3-parter about the term "assault" referring to the purpose of the weapon. I have difficulty seeing how one might reasonably establish what an assault weapon is - there was a lot of controversy over the Clinton-era 14 types of banned weapons. There was a definition that allowed a significant amount of gaming the system to get a weapon to not be classified as an assault weapon. Would not focusing on magazine capacity be a more effective means? That just leaves the question of how much capacity is too much...

      I certainly agree with banning armor-piercing rounds - I thought there was a ban on them already but may be wrong.

      I would also agree with requiring the instant background checks for gun show sales - that's not unreasonable.

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    8. Re Assault weapons: I was specifically responding to hatemail accusing me of not knowing what an assault weapons was. And the point of the comment was that arguing about what constitutes an "assault" weapon in the context of the conversation was moving the goal posts, arguing semantics, and an obvious attempt to distract from the actual subject.

      I'm putting up a second addendum on my position here in a minute. Please, Stand by.

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  31. As I finished listening to Mr. LaPierre (I listened to the whole thing), I had a few thoughts along the lines of: So, Mr. LaPierre, just so I'm clear on the proposal, armed guards in every school, but NO mention of regulating the availability of either armor piercing or fragmenting ammo, NO mention of regulating large capacity magazines, NO mention of tightening up sales at trade shows, NO mention of ?? ..... well, you get the idea. None of these in my opinion restricts law abiding citizens from owning "arms" which I have no problem with.

    I do however, think that there are other ideas than armed guards everywhere. I had similar thoughts to yours. Guard the school hallways, and what about the buses, playgrounds, parking lots....

    Any thoughts on how to accomplish this on college campuses. Ours has 34,000 students, hundreds of acres, dozens and dozens of buildings. And a police force. But it's wide open. No gates, doors only locked after hours. What would he suggest there. Harden one target and they'll just move to another.

    Most developed countries import all our violent entertainment - games, movies, a lot of TV. They certainly have their share of mentally disturbed people. So what accounts for the difference in the large per capita discrepancy in gun related violence? Could it just possibly be the guns? Maybe?

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    1. Seems I missed a couple of question marks there. It's obvious where they go - apparently not to me though :-)

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    2. Gun control is coming in a form most won't like, because the inexorable movement of government is always toward more and more control over a public made incrementally more dependent and stupid. The free ride was good while it lasted. Would the world be a better place without guns? Probably yes. But that is a fantasy, and the weak would be at a great disadvantage to the strong. So right now I'd rather be able to defend my home with a gun, than a baseball bat. Jim's right. Failure to yield and meet somewhere in the middle is going to lead to unnecessary unpleasantness for both sides.

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    3. Anonymous, thanks for a sane summary of the "conversation". Thankyou also to Lucas M and Matt Cole for your thoughtful and I think non polarizing, well reasoned counterpoints to the sarcastic hyperbole of this article. And thank you especially to all who have served.

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    4. I think what seems most disjointed about the NRA response, is that many of the same people who advocate for owning weapons to protect themselves from an oppressive government, now advocate for putting armed "government" officers everywhere (I realize I use the word everywhere loosely and that the proposal was just schools, but really where does that logic end. It ends at everywhere). And they don't seem to see the disconnect in the logic.

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    5. Anyone who says they want guns to protect themselves from the Goverment and/or for some cockamamie Doomsday fantasy is automatically prohibited from buying or owning a firearm. EVER.

      Crazy people shouldn't have guns, as Mrs. Lanza has demonstrated.

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    6. Dave1020 - I would be ok with requiring all gun show sales to go through the ATF background check system. I would be ok with limitations on magazine capacity - 30 is pretty large, but is 20 too large? My WW II M1 Garand, which I guess could be called an assault rifle, has 7-round clips, and I can load them pretty quickly. I would have to look this up, but there are limitations against certain types of ammo already - and I believe armor-piercing is in that group - but I may be wrong and apologize in advance if I am. Those are pretty benign steps to take. I would not mind taking them, but honestly I am not sure they will make a real difference.

      You make a good point about playgrounds - I thought about that as I drove by some of them on the Friday of the shooting. And college campuses are usually more spread out than public schools, making this concept of guards difficult to effectively implement.

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    7. Jeff,
      The 2nd amendment was written to protect the people against their own government, should it become tyrannical. Those founders were pretty crazy.

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    8. Actually- no, it was written to balance and address competing concerns from Federalists and Anti Federalists.

      "The wisdom of Madison's approach to the resolution of the militia issue was born out by subsequent events. The language relating to the militia, which he chose for inclusion in what became the Constitution's Second and Fifth Amendments, was specific enough to satisfy both the supporters of the Renaissance militia ideal and the advocates of the Enlightenment theories of liberal democracy. The approach, therefore, resolved most of the concerns that had been raised during the ratification process."
      http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/FieldsAndHardy.html

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    9. Sorry, I was just making the case in a simple manner according to Madison's Federalist No. 46: http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa46.htm
      I don't like Scalia's view on the 2nd amendment in general, but I think he gets it right in his Heller opinion in regard to the original intent of the 2nd amendment:
      "The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable [the] citizens' militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens' militia would be preserved." (Pg. 2; see also 22—28)
      The clear implication here is that the "ancient right of individuals" to armed self-defense includes the right to organize for the purpose of insurrection against a tyrannical government. Scalia revisits that theme in reviewing efforts by George III's government to disarm American colonists (pg. 21). Discussing the ancient origins of the right, Scalia notes that "the Stuart Kings Charles II and James II succeeded in using select militias loyal to them to suppress political dissidents, in part by disarming their opponents" (pg. 19). He quite usefully admits that "when able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny" (pp. 24—25), without teasing any specific application from that provocative observation.
      I think there is a general revulsion by some here to the idea that the 2nd amendment has anything to do with the ability of the people to resist their own government, should it become tyrannical. I'm just going by what I've read in the writing of founders and the context of history. I doubt if it would be wise, in the event of a national emergency that the government would use to declare martial law and attempt to take away the guns from the people, to resist such an action. The power of the military used in such an occurrence, given that they would even go along with something like that, is too formidable. But, whatever the reasons people have to disregard the intent or meaning of the Constitution, it is a document, that has at least provided us with the framework to live in relative freedom compared to most other countries.

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  32. The notion of arming people with nuclear weapons may seem like an hysterically absurd exaggeration to you and others, but I actually know people who believe that the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own a personal nuclear weapon. Seriously. There is NO line at which they are willing to stop when it comes to weapons and arms ownership.

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    1. I actually know people that believe China should be our role model when it comes to gun control. Seriously.

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    2. And for employment and employer practices.

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    3. All I can see is a huge amount of fear and insecurity in hordes of people. Perhaps the drama of "having to defend themselves" against whomever or whatever gives some zest to their existence.

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    4. I am saddened and surprised by the huge amount of fear and insecurity that so many people are projecting. Perhaps there is some desire for the drama of "having to defend themselves" from the robber, evil government or zombies that comes from the desire to over weapon.

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  33. Thank you for expressing so eloquently the rage and frustration I, too, feel at the whole crazy conservative thing. I don't have the words; you do; and I'm grateful.

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  34. "And I've been putting out fire with gasoline." David Bowie

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  35. I hope you are right and the NRA gets what it deserves and we get some reasonable gun laws! Thanks for making me laugh while expressing the anger and frutration many of us are feeling!

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  36. I own guns and firmly believe in the right to self-defense, but the NRA's view of this horrifies me. If you have to be always armed and alert because you might be attacked by two-legged predators at any moment, there has been a catastrophic breakdown of civilization. Large parts of the city where I live are just about that dangerous (although, or perhaps because, potential victims are rarely armed), and it's a tragedy. It imposes restrictions or stress on the lives even of those who are never physically harmed, so the whole population is less happy and less healthy. What sane person living in our much safer small towns and suburbs would want to see those communities become war zones? People do not live in constant fear of their neighbors in a functioning society.
    Dewey

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    1. No, it isn't a break down of civilization. It's an awareness of reality. There ARE evil people out there. I believe it was a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps that said; "Be polite, be courteous, but have a plan to kill everyone in the room."

      I do not believe I have to agree to be a good victim just so others feel safe. I do not own or carry a gun, but I am very aware of what can happen at any time. (And I'm a large 6'2", 200+ pound male.) Being alert and aware of your surroundings is the first thing anyone will teach you in a self-defense class. Most Americans walk around in a fog.

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    2. "Most Americans walk around in a fog."
      Which is why I do not want them armed.

      I have been in public service positions all my adult life: I have met the public, and they are not that smart.

      Bruce

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    3. Lucas M - Yeah, there are evil people out there. I live in a city where people get badly beaten (broken bones, brain injuries, at least one death) for walking or bicycling in the wrong place at the wrong time (and, possibly, being the wrong race). The latest fad has been for robbery victims to be stomped and humiliated, pistol-whipped, or shot even after they hand over their valuables tamely. It would be very sensible for people who must be out after dark to conceal-carry. I don't because my employer forbids it, and I calculate that my risk of being fired for doing so would exceed my risk of being killed or maimed for not doing so. But when I do walk home from work, you better believe I keep a sharp eye on who else is on the street.

      The point I meant to make, though, is that when I visit the town of 5000 people where my husband grew up, it feels totally different. If I walk down the street I face essentially zero risk that a random stranger will attack me, nor are there feral pit bulls roaming around. Sure, if I saw someone who seemed deranged I'd be wary of him, but normally I have no fear at all of young men on the street. I feel safe - so the fact that I am not allowed to conceal-carry there does not really bother me. When Wayne LaPierre says we should all be armed and ready to fight maniacs at any minute, what he's telling us is "Don't feel safe! No matter how peaceful your surroundings seem, don't ever relax and stop fearing what those around you might do." Our troops who are in war zones have to carry weapons 24-7 because they might be attacked any moment, and it's so stressful that some of them end up with PTSD - and since it's especially easy to dehumanize people whom we fear might attack us, of course the indigenous people need to have weapons and live in fear because they might be attacked by an American, and so it goes. Wayne LaPierre thinks we should all live like we're in a war zone, and never mind what that does to our stress levels or social cohesion. A person in a safe community and without personal enemies who lives on constant guard against violence is like a person who fears natural death spending all his time in the doctor's office being screened for every possible disease; there's a point beyond which the burden you're inflicting on yourself exceeds the expected risk reduction.

      Dewey

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    4. I was thinking about what you said re: PTSD

      Just as a bit of disclosure, I'm a crazy person. I've been hospitalized for mental health reasons. I'm also a Canadian, and while we share a lot of American culture, we don't have the fetish-level thing for guns that you do.

      Ok, so my point. The thing the NRA proposed that really scared me is the national database of all people with mental illnesses. Other than the fact that you might as well take away the fundamental human rights of my brethren from the moment that database comes into effect, there are some problems.

      First, are you going to include all vets, police officers, EMS, and firefighters with PTSD? I'd love to see the NRA be responsible for taking away all the guns of many retired cops and vets. That would go over like a lead balloon.

      Second, people recover from mental health issues (see PTSD, as well as major depression, and a host of other diagnosable mental health issues). If you accept, for a moment (and I don't really), that every American needs a loaded weapon easily at hand, because there is an armed thug about to break into your house 24-7, then by saying that anyone with a mental health issue (or anyone who has had a mental health history) should be prohibited from owning a gun, what you are really saying is that a whole category of people have no right to defend themselves.

      25% of the adult population will have a mental health issue at some point. That is a lot of people to disqualify from what the NRA and the gun nuts claim is a god-given, fundamental right.

      Mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed, soon, but it is not the key to reducing gun violence. Better screening and youth mental health services might (MIGHT) have caught something brewing in the CT shooter. Teaching emotional competency and self-regulation in schools would probably also make a big difference in terms of preventing or supporting kids who are struggling with emotional distress. The vast majority of firearm-related deaths, though, involve people who are pretty much sane, by any legal definition.

      The biggest reasons to deal with mental health in the US (and Canada) are the fact that suicide is one of the leading causes of death of young people - especially males, homelessness and substance abuse are huge humanitarian and social issues, and mental health is one of the leading causes of disability. From a humanitarian angle - people are suffering, but if you can't deal with that, then recognize that mental health issues are incredibly expensive, once they have reached crisis levels, and that ignoring mental health is costing all levels of government an enormous amount of money.

      So, as per usual, Jim is right. There is no one solution to this. From my perspective, the NRA scapegoating the mentally ill is just another way to shift the blame from the unhealthy corners of gun culture, on to the last group of people against whom it is still socially acceptable to discriminate.

      Ack. That got long. Sorry, I am a nutcase, you know.

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    5. You are entirely right. The news has been throwing around scary numbers about the huge percentage of Americans who allegedly have mental illnesses, but most of those are people who have suffered depression, anxiety, shyness or phobias, who drink more than someone thinks they should, or apparently now, who bite their nails. These people are not particularly dangerous. OTOH, it's probably not a good idea for someone who was recently involuntarily committed for paranoid psychosis to buy a gun. On the third hand, there should not be an unrebuttable presumption that that person is forever too unbalanced to be trusted, no matter how successful their treatment and how many years have passed since. There should be a process by which people can appeal to remove whatever limitations have been placed on their legal rights.
      Dewey

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  37. I'm surprised they didn't suggest moats. With sharks. With friggin' laser beams mounted on their heads. I mean, if you're going to behave like a cheesy movie villain, go whole hog!

    I understand that just about everybody in Mogadishu is armed. Which of course has turned it into a peaceful paradise. Perhaps Wayne LaPierre needs to move there, just like Grover Norquist needs to move to his low-tax paradise called Mexico? {SNORT!}.

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  38. Yep, you got an "Amen" from me. Excellent.

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  39. What about the shooting at Ft. Hood? It was full of guys who were very well trained in using guns, and one loony with the element of surprise on his side still took down a lot of people.

    Great piece. Even better than usual, and there is no higher praise.

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  40. Roxane, regarding Ft. Hood, the military very sensibly has the opinion that the only purpose of weapons is to kill people, and they do not want lots of dead people inside military bases, so the only people typically authorized to carry weapons inside a military base are the military policemen and civilian security guards. That said, there were decidedly MP's and civilian security responding within moments, yet Hasan managed to take down or injure 42 people before himself being shot by one of the two police officers who responded virtually immediately. If this had been a high school campus I don't see the response as being much different, some high school campuses are half a mile from corner to corner with multiple buildings and the chances of a campus security officer being within sight of the shooter when he starts shooting are slim.

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    1. Actually the MPs got there after several minutes. He had plenty of time to stalk and shoot people. Armed MPs are at the gates to the base, at the armories and a few other places. IIRC their response time was about 5 minutes.

      At the time the regulations on the base was that if you had a personal fire arm on base it was stored in one of the locked and guarded armories. IIRC they've lostened that a bit due to the shooting, but not much.

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    2. Let's not forget the Fort Bragg shootings. Holy Hannah, that happened at the Home of the Infantry and the 82d Airborne. One guy with an assault rifle made that whole base his bitch for 20 minutes. And these were not untrained, undisciplined, unarmed sheep we are talking about.

      If you're going to try to unpack it, then unpack it all the way. Don't get distracted by the bubble wrap.

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    3. The base was designated a "gun-free" zone. They were unarmed, but not sheep. The killer used a pistol.

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    4. That, regarding Fort Hood. No base should be designated "gun-free."

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  41. I hope Vice President Biden has your number in his rolodex or on his speed dial. (I admit it, I'm old.) His task force desperately needs your input and your vision.

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  42. Golly Jim - -
    You probably dropped 10 points below zero on Ted Nugent's Christmas card list.

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  43. I'm a college professor in NYC, part of my job is teaching future teachers and supervising student teachers. For not being an NYC teacher, I spend no small amount of time in the NYC schools. There are uniformed and armed members of the NYPD on every campus in NYC, the School Safety Division. As someone who has thus experienced "a good guy with a gun at the door to every school", let me add the following to the conversation...

    1. While I generally respect officers, most of the ones that I have seen sitting behind a desk near the entrance to any school I have visited in this city, are far too overweight to get anywhere quickly, especially in an older school that has flights of stairs but no elevator. The school safety officers are far, *far* from the cream of the crop that the NYPD has to offer. I suspect (but can't substantiate) that in the general hierarchy they probably fall somewhere above the volunteers and probies, but not by much.

    2. The bulk of their job seems to be checking visitor's ID at the main entry of the school. Especially at the elementary level an effort seems to be made to keep the sso a "friendly first face". Granted, it's absolutely 100% possible that these are pleasant faces hiding Chuck Norris level intuitions and skills, but I doubt it (see #1.) My usual practice is to enter a school, approach the desk, reach into my purse and grab my wallet for my ID. The sso takes it looks at it, looks at me, and then spends a minute or two looking down at the log book making a visitor entry. I've NEVER had one react when I, as an unknown person entering mid-day, reach into a bag on approach to the desk. I've also had the unfortunate experience of watching one or two struggle to get my name (not particularly difficult) from my driver's license to their log book accurately.

    3. It is a very short and very slippery slope from having an officer on campus for student safety, to using them to bolster discipline. Google the phrase "officer cuffs elementary student" - go ahead, I'll wait. Like what you see? With teachers being limited in the ways they can deal with raging students, the officer employed by the NYPD and accountable to their review process, rather than a Dept of Ed standard is an enticing work around.

    4. The presence of armed guards at schools in neither new, nor really particularly effective as a deterrent, at least not at a low enough guard:student ratio to avoid the feeling of a prison (I've been in those schools too - the South Bronx is a far cry from the bucolic suburbs). The students themselves tell me that density of guards makes them *more* nervous and afraid, not less. Granted, most of them haven't grown up with the "Officer Friendly" model of police officers, but the fact remains, low density is the school version of "security theater", high density is academically counterproductive.

    I don't think armed guards at schools is a completely onorous proposition, but I think it needs to be handled gingerly. As I've said, it's already in place in a lot of urban and even suburban schools. There are a lot of questions, beginning with who are the guards, and how are they selected and trained? How are they supported? Who pays them? I agree with Jim that it should be part of a *much* larger conversation, including guns, ammo, regulations, culture, contemporary American masculinity (yup, I went there), mental health - esp of adolescents and young adults (4 of my juniors spent time hospitalized for depression and anxiety this semester, don't know how many more are on medications).

    Sigh. An expensive bill is coming due. It's delivery was horrific and figuring out how to address it will be painful, but it must be done. If the current NRA leadership isn't willing to contribute in an actually meaningful way the membership needs to either replace the leadership, or perhaps leave the NRA and join the Mayors Alliance or the Brady Campaign instead.

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    1. When I was in grade school we didn't have armed guards. We didn't have problems with violence in the school besides the occasional fist fight. Boys would openly carry buck knives on their belts and trucks with filled gun racks would park in the lot and no one batted an eye.

      Of the colleges I've attended, one had a precinct house for the local PD on campus. (Actual city police, not rent-a-cops.) The other housed the local police accademy.

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    2. Lucas, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

      Golly gee, Wally, you sure did grow up in a Norman Rockwell painting, but that doesn't make you an artist yourself. I grew up in a small town myself, and I can tell you that the violence and the rage that the cities see is right there, only buried a little deeper. There wasn't life-threatening violence at school-- but while I was in high school, a classmate killed his whole family at home. There were any number of stabbings and savage beatings in the town and the neighboring farmland. I won't even hazard a guess as to the incest and the abuse dealt out in some of those bucolic farmsteads.

      Rage is rage, no matter the population of the town it occurs in. Small towns are just better at keeping secrets.

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    3. I don't know if I'd call a city that then had a population of 35,000 a small town.

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  44. I don’t want to teach at “Fort” High School, and I don’t want my kids to go to “Fort” Elementary School. What next? Enclose the playgrounds because they could be sitting ducks on the monkey bars and slides visible from the street?

    We cannot even field a foolproof municipal police force (at a hefty cost per officer), so who will this new school militia be made up of? Mall cops with guns?

    The point is that it is the gun manufacturers have created weapons and ammunition with the ability to do maximum damage in minimal time. We have some security measures at my school with most doors locked from the inside during the school day, yet a student or other individual could get onto campus with two high-capacity handguns and backup clips and kill dozens or hundreds of students in one wing before the guard could get there – and as history has proven, most shooters do not intend to be taken alive, so the threat of being shot is not really a deterrent.

    Veronica (HS teacher in San Antonio, TX)

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  45. An interesting NY Times article about the School Security Officers I mentioned above, and in particular item 3, school security and discipline. Looks like we're more than 2/3 of the way to having guards at every school already, but two weeks ago the conversation was about how to reverse the trend, not increase it.

    "In 2009, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68 percent of American students reported the presence of security guards or police officers, or both, in their schools, as compared with 54 percent in 1999. Questions about excessive police force and possible rights violations have risen along with increased police presence in the country’s schools — so much so that Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois will hold hearings this week on how to end “the school-to-prison pipeline.” "

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/opinion/sunday/take-police-officers-off-the-school-discipline-beat.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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  46. So we're going to have an armed guard on each school campus now. I guess then we also need one or two in each movie theater and shopping mall, at every church, especially the "foreign, non-Christian" ones....all proposed by the same folks who need to be armed to the teeth so they can be safe against a tyrannical government...and they also want less government... hmmmm...
    Who do they think is going to hire and pay for these hundreds of thousands armed guards-private citizens? Sounds like a pretty large expansion of government to me, and armed to boot.

    Let's look at some numbers:

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 98,817 public schools during the 2009-2010 school year. That's a lot of new gun purchases, with ample rounds of ammo of course-good for business if you're a gun or ammo manufacturers.

    According to http://www.icsc.org./research/edata.php, as of 2009, there were nearly 105,000 shopping centers-of all sizes-in the United States.
    As of 2010, the Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. That's over 500,000 armed guards between the schools, malls and churches if you only hire one for each location. Pretty good for business if you are a business that provides armed security guards...

    I've not included movie theaters in the above numbers, but estimates vary from 3 to 18 thousand in the US.

    And then there's this as an example of how out-gunned a single armed guard could be:
    Norco Bank Robbery Shootout (from Wikipedia)
    May 9, 1980. Prolonged shootout and chase between police in Norco, California, and five heavily armed bank robbers wearing military-style fatigues and armed with assault rifles, thousands of rounds of hollow-point bullets as well as various explosive and incendiary devices. Police responded to a bank robbery call in Norco. Upon arriving the police were ambushed and outgunned. After unloading over 300 rounds at police cruisers, the officers were forced to retreat behind their cruisers or nearby obstacles, all the while being fired upon. The suspects attempted to escape in their own vehicle. During this attempt, the driver of the suspects was killed by a stray police shot. The suspects then hijacked a nearby vehicle and became involved in a prolonged chase, in which the suspects shot at police and disabled and destroyed 33 police vehicles (as well as civilian cars) with explosives thrown from the back of a truck. The suspects also disabled a police helicopter by shooting at it. Later, the suspects lay in wait for police as they chased them, and ambushed them, resulting in the death of a police officer and wounding 2 others. Heavily outgunned, the police were pinned down until one officer arrived with an AR-15. After the police engaged the suspects with the AR-15, the suspects fled. One of the suspects was killed in the shootout, one during a later standoff with the police the next day, and three were later captured. 8 officers were also wounded during the events. Deaths: Suspects: 2; Police: 1

    So instead of fewer guns the NRA is proposing well over 500,000 new guards that will likely need to have a new gun issued. And there's always the chance that they will be outnumbered and/or outgunned-and you know what the answer to that will be-more guards and more guns.

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  47. Ah, America . . . the land of the freak and the home of the rave.

    The rest of the world must be SO jealous of our limitless capacity for MaGiCal ThInKinG. (That IS what it means when they point and laugh, right ?)

    JOBS JOBS JOBS LISTING !!! Are YOU cut out to be a Public Outreach Patrol Officer (POPO) ????

    Annual pay: $32,500

    Description: when crazed, heavily-armed shooter(s) open fire without warning in public areas (classroom, workplace, church, movie theater, etc.) it's a POPo's job to instantly :

    1. identify the source(s) of the fusillade amidst any smoke, screaming chaos, spurting blood and stampeding crowds,

    2. draw weapon(s) without shooter(s) noticing,

    3. target and aim at shooter(s) where they can't be protected by body armor,

    4. kill or instantly disable shooter(s) without injuring innocent bystanders.

    Qualifications: No high school diploma, official training, legal certification, drug or literacy test required.

    Applicants must pass a background check for any felonies which may still show up on your record.

    You must provide and use your own legally-licensed (CCP) weapon(s).

    Unflappability, infallibility, lightning-fast reflexes, laser-like precision, cat-like moves, good people skills and a loud, clear speaking voice are a MUST.

    EOE

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    1. Yeah I don't want the armed equivalent of the TSA at my daughters elementary school.

      Delete
  48. Amen Brother, beat it into the idiots thick skulls, more weapons is not the answer to every friggin problem, sometimes weapon are the MF problem!

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  49. Absolutely RIGHT ON!! This is what I have been telling people should be done for ages.

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  50. In Arkansas we have an Arkansas State University professor that says all teachers and students should be trained in martial arts,that way they would be prepared to defend themselves.
    I'm not kidding one bit about this, the woman actually wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Jonesboro Sun today that suggested this very thing.
    My first thought was when you find a teacher or student that's faster than a speeding bullet,that might be a grand idea.
    I think she must have a Chuck Norris hero complex.

    Phyllis

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    1. Phyllis, there are only a small number of people who are comfortable with the sort of instantaneous violence needed to defend against spree shooters of this sort. We call them "sociopaths". There are a slightly larger number of people who via extensive training have had instincts drilled into them that allow them to use deadly violence against others without hesitation. We call these people "policemen" or "soldiers". In any sort of deadly situation we have a word for everybody else on the scene. We call them "targets" or "victims".

      There are not enough trainers to train the majority of Americans to ignore their natural hatred of violence, and if we managed to do so, it's unclear what the implications would be, given that this means we just managed to create a nation of sociopaths -- sociopaths by training rather than nature, but still, sociopaths. This is the fundamental flaw of the "if everybody had a gun we'd have a peaceful nation" argument -- it assumes that everybody is a sociopath. But the vast majority of people are *not* sociopaths, indeed civilization could not exist if the majority of people were sociopaths, so it's an argument of Pure Fail(tm).

      Delete
    2. BadTux, I agree that it's questionable whether armed civilians would have made much difference in some of the recently publicized mass murders. However, there are quite a few publicized cases in which civilians have saved their own lives by shooting predators, and probably many more unpublicized instances in which the display of a weapon by someone who at least appeared willing to fire it drove a predator away. It is not appropriate to term the surviving non-victims "sociopaths" because they were mentally able to take appropriate action to save their own lives or their families' lives.
      Dewey

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  51. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju_NllT1iDo

    That's the link to an interesting video. Apparently they found 4 hand guns in the school, not the two they first talked about. Also they clearly found the "assault rifle" in the trunk of the car the shooter drove to the school, not inside the school at all. Yet the coroner is claiming all the deaths were caused by the rifle. Huh? (Actually most coroners aren't qualified to identify ballistics so he's probably talking out his ass. It's the police ballistics lab that will identify them.)

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    1. You are incorrect. He was armed with the Bushmaster with a 100 round drum mag,and 2 semi auto handguns. Another "long gun" (Unidentified) was found in his vehicle.

      The majority if not all of the kill shots came from the .223 Bushmaster.

      Delete
  52. Jim, thanks for another great "Back off and THINK about this!" posting. I have another question to add to the mix, and I don't think it's entirely off topic.

    What disposition have you made for your guns in your will? Have you taken steps to make sure they are going to be disposed of, or turned in to a reliable agency? Or given to someone you trust to be as careful of them as you are?

    If we're going to regulate guns well enough to keep even a little control over where they end up, it strikes me that the circumstance of the death of the current owner needs, somehow, to be included in the mix. For full tracking, gun ownership would somehow have to be linked to the Social Security database, so that on report of a death, some agency like the local police would be notified that a gun or guns owned by the decedent would need to be either re-registered or confiscated. That would be contingent on all gun sales or resales having to be fully registered, which is one of the points that gun safety advocates are making anyway.

    This strikes me as one more point that needs to be considered, to let people get mad about it, cool down about it, and then be able to think about it once they've quit sputtering.

    Thanks for the forum.

    Ann C.

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    1. That's a good point. Guns and wills. I hadn't honestly thought about it. Now I will. Thanks, Anne.

      Delete
    2. Fine - presuming we are going to have universal gun registration, which does make me quite nervous - as long as an exemption is made for spouses (including gay spouse-equivalents). Within a marriage the person who paid for a gun may not be its long-term primary user, and in our household there's no "your shotgun" vs "my shotgun" - there's "our shotgun". If spousal community property is not recognized, or transfer of official ownership to a widow/er without disqualifying factors is not automatic, well, we might have to have twice as many guns, one for each of us; the NRA and gun industry would be happy to hear that!
      Dewey

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    3. I think implementation of universal gun registration requires more than just Anne and I agreeing to think about wills and guns here on Stonekettle Station.

      I'm just saying.

      Delete
    4. Sorry for my lack of clarity; I was responding to Ann, not you. For the state to come and "confiscate" my guns upon my death, they have to know exactly what guns I own. I am not entirely comfortable with that, because they could also decide to come and confiscate them while I was alive. If we were going to implement registration that would not be assumed by most gun owners to be a prelude to confiscation, we would have to be given some reason to believe that we weren't going to suffer "scary model creep" whereby endless future efforts were made to ban, one by one, the guns that we were assured we'd be allowed to keep if we registered them today. And I'd like to be able to presume that if my husband happened to be the one who officially bought my .38 decades ago, I wouldn't be suddenly deprived of it when he died and be left as a defenseless widow.
      Dewey

      Delete
    5. I'm not particularly recommending that the state confiscate guns - at least I don't think I was - though it's certainly a possibility where someone dies intestate. It was more on the order of: If you're a responsible gun owner, what provisions do you/should you make so that the guns you're responsible for don't fall into the hands of people who aren't responsible? People have lots of ways of doing this while they're alive, but most haven't even looked at what happens when they die - and I see it as an associated problem.

      If your home (if you own one) were only in your husband's name, having a will that transferred ownership to you on his death might be legally necessary, depending on your state's laws. In most cases, joint title gets around that. You wouldn't (I hope) presume that you would keep your home on his death without taking legal measures to make sure of it.

      If your gun is as important to you as you say, I would think you would want to make sure that its inheritance in the case of your husband's death was not compromised either. I suspect that a statement to the effect that all real property not specifically willed to someone else would be your inheritance would cover this case, without having to specify any guns.

      In the absence of clearly willed inheritance, though, the possibility of family squabbles over who gets what might be just as much of a problem.

      Another thought - what happens if a mutual disaster occurs? Where do your possessions go then? Do the two of you have a single inheritor you can trust to keep the gun responsibly, or does your responsibility end with your death?

      I don't know whether our government is a responsible entity, though I hope so. But it strikes me that if it is not, it becomes more important than ever that individuals bear that burden.

      Ann C.

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    6. I hadn't thought of guns and wills either. My dad is in his 90's. I thought there was only one rifle still in storage at the vacation house, and I was sure that when the time came, my brother would take care of it. Now I'm not so sure. It turns out there was another one at home. My dad told me a couple of months ago that he sold it to some guy that came by, buying scrap metal and stuff. I don't have a clue who that guy was, or what he will do with that gun. I am now seriously thinking of collecting the gun from storage and turning it in to the local sheriff's department. Suggestions?
      -Martha

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    7. Ann, it's a fair question. None of our legal next of kin couldn't be trusted with a gun, so we've never been inspired to consider it. Since our closest younger relative has no interest in guns, we might like to offer ours to a couple of close friends rather than have them sold at auction, but we have never said so. We probably should.
      Dewey

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  53. One of the underlying problems with the NRA is not specific to them. There's an inherent difficulty with organizations, governments, formalized groups in general: it's very easy for them to not change when they should, and to change when they shouldn't. I'm assuming that's why the US founders went to some length to pin things down on numerous fronts ahead of time, with the Constitution in particular. It doesn't seem as though the NRA has been as careful with their evolution.

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  54. In the category of "one size fits none," Columbine had an armed guard, as I recall.

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  55. Jim,there was a cop at Columbine..how did hat work? Saw figures for the cost of the coverage for all schools..well, public, I believe..over SIX BILLION..Right, this from the small government, no raising taxes party..(sarcasm button on) but the same ones that have no problem inflicting seniors with chained CPI...

    Marilyn C

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    1. Well, obviously, it didn't work out worth a good goddamn.

      I understand what you're getting at. Armed security at Columbine was obviously a failure. I don't think anybody would argue that. Including the cop who will live with his inability to stop the shooters for the rest of his life.

      However, you don't plot a curve from one data point. As I said very specifically in the addendum to the post, the kind of armed security you'd need to do what the NRA has suggested here doesn't exist. It would require special training, special tactics, and a lot of time and money - and even then, it may not work, or not work all of the time But then again, what if it worked only once and saved the lives of 20 kids? Would it be worth it? I don't know, because I don't know what the trade off is. That's why I said I might be willing to consider something like this, providing it was part of something larger, a comprehensive spread of options, ones that each school could tailor to their specific needs and demographics perhaps, something that included equal effort directed towards the cause of mass shootings, or mental illness, and something that included gun control, and etc. etc. Exactly what that looks like, I have no idea. Part one of this series points out that we'll never know, unless we start talking about this rationally on both sides.

      Delete
  56. Yes, Columbine had an armed guard, a Deputy Sheriff with 15 years of service, who fired 4 shots at Harris from 60 yards in a parking lot. And missed.

    Harris had fired about 10 at him and missed.

    I have no idea whether 60 yards would be a "long way" in that situation.

    http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/columbine.cd/Pages/DEPUTIES_TEXT.htm#gardner

    While I've got the opportunity: Thank you, Jim. Thank you.

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    1. 60 yards is well beyond effective range for the standard issue service weapon typically carried by law enforcement. It's a long way for any pistol, and damned difficult for even an experienced shooter when somebody is shooting back at you, and your heart is hammering, and you're panting for breath. Trust me on this.

      Delete
    2. And of course we have to wonder what happened to that Deputies errant rounds. Who or what did they end up in? Those rounds have to end up somewhere, which again kills the idea that a trained shooter will instantly take down a killer with a single shot. It's fantasy. The only thing I can imagine he was doing from that range was draw the assailents fire his way and away from civilians, because he wasn't hitting shit from where he was, except by accident.

      Delete
  57. "… hijack a jetliner and try to fly it into fourth period algebra. "

    And haven't we all thought about doing that?

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    1. Fourth period English, algebra was a snap course.

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  58. Mr Wright:

    Between this school shooting, the fiscal cliff screwup by Boehner, the presidential election, and the new outcry about bank corruption, it seems like the USA is finally starting to get its sense back. Did you notice?

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    1. I noticed. I don't think I'd call it sense. Yet. We'll see how things develop, but I have complete confidence that we'll eventually do the right thing - after we fight and spit and scream and do everything else first.

      Delete
  59. Thank you for saying what you have said, because you are the only person I see speaking sense right now. I know both extremes concerning weapons and schools are wrong, but they are the only perspectives that I've been hearing. Having someone articulate the fact that more restrictions should be placed on firearms, but that these firearms should not be banned is wonderful to hear. When it comes to these issues, you often can't start a dialogue without it devolving into a debate that ends with hard feelings. You have helped me codify what I want to hear when it comes to gun-control.
    Once again, Thank You.

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  60. There was a show on PBS last night from 8 to 9, then today from 3 to 6, which was live, in which they took a long hard look at every aspect of mass shootings in the U.S. And of course, part of the show touched on the idea of placing the armed guards in the schools. And immediately, I thought, ok, if a school is going to be my target, as opposed to going after a softer target, and I know that there are guards in the school, I'll just learn how to build a pipe bomb, make a couple dozen, then just walk along the outside and heave one in each classroom through any of the hundreds of windows in any of our schools. Maybe the guards will figure it out quickly. Maybe not. The point is, this is the NRA's answer? Judas Priest, the NRA membership really needs to take a hard look at the combined intelligence of their leadership. I mean, it's embarrassing.
    Thoughts?

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    1. GG, the vast majority of schools today no longer have windows that can be opened, and a large number of those schools now have shatter-proof windows on their first floor.

      The core issue as I see is not necessarily the guns. It is the gun culture of paranoia and violence that Jim mentions above which infects far too many impressionable minds, combined with the mean-spiritedness of our culture today where it's "too expensive" to provide health care for all our citizens and "not my problem" that so many millions of Americans willing and available to work can't find jobs and millions of other daily humiliations dished out upon the American people by their betters and by their peers. This has become a vicious sick society where everybody wants to hurt everybody else who isn't part of their immediate circle of family and friends because of the ridiculous notion that being kind is a lose-lose scenario. and that's the core problem.

      Every year dozens of homeless people die of "natural causes" a.k.a. starvation, exposure, or untreated illness, here in the Silicon Valley, the richest area of the richest nation on planet Earth. The fact that such a thing can happen here says things about our nation that perhaps people should pay attention to, rather than rant about "gubmint comin' ta take mah guns".

      BTW, none of what I mention above is new. Michael Moore made much the same point in "Bowling for Columbine" over a decade ago, i.e., that it's not the guns, it's the culture. But Michael Moore is fat. Or somethin' like that. So it goes.

      Delete
  61. < Switzerland's military model isn't about allowing their citizens the "right" to have weapons, it's about creating an army through different means. Guns in Switzerland are seen as tools for national -- not personal -- defense. That's an important distinction for those trying to draw comparisons for gun use in the two countries to come to terms with. >

    This is such an important concept. I have read and re-read the 2nd Amendment and when I read it, I see gun ownership being linked to national security as outlined in the above quote about the Swiss. It is the difference between rule of law and protecting our nation against intruders vs. it is NOT about executing vigilante justice upon our fellow citizens.

    I grew up with guns and enjoy target shooting as a skill. I am also a single woman living alone who has experienced being scared to death by stupid male neighbors who took it upon themselves to harass me. I DO keep a gun in my home, but it is a tool of last resort to protect myself if the police have been called and they are not getting there fast enough.(I live out in the country where response times are slow). I do not feel the need to carry a weapon concealed or open in public at any time.

    I am also currently a school employee and in college to become a teacher. I think about this issue daily because I am one of the people who pushes the button to unlock the door and let people into our building. I wrestle with the fact that someone's state of mind is not readily apparent in their outward appearance. On the other hand, it was seriously disturbing to hear the story of the supposed marine who stationed himself outside of an elementary school and then turned out to be a complete fake. (thank goodness, he was unarmed). We are walking a very fine line in this current climate of hysteria. WE need to avoid vigilante actions at all costs.

    I would much prefer an attitude of deep respect for the damage a gun can do and a public approach that takes the handling of such a tool very very very seriously. I hope that if action is taken it is of the ilk outlined by Mr. Wright in his addendum to this article, "that (armed school) security needs to be made up of uniformed professionals, specifically trained to function around large crowds of panicked children in situations where the threat itself may very well BE a child."

    As usual, Mr. Wright, you have hit the nail neatly on the head. Thank you for that!

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  62. I suggest putting teacher in every gun store.

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  63. DAMMIT JIM!! - You openly suggest tagging gun owners with RFIDs read from orbiting satellites, and when in proximity to public places the CIA fires a Hellfire from a loitering Global Hawk to vaporize the bastard???

    How many NDA's have you signed?? You are giving away the family jewels of Homeland Defense! Besides, if we use this stuff, they'll know we have it. (Ummm, and "orbiting satellites"? What other kind are there?)

    Also - Fuck Wayne LaPierre, Mike Huckabee, Louis Gohmert and all the crazed gun wankers!! In fact, parachute these assholes into Mogadishu or Bogota to to proselytize the locals to their point of view. Consider it as joint public service and pest control. Tommy D

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  64. Jim,
    I love reading your blog and we share many experiences, such as dedicated military service and a love and respect for guns despite a loathing for the NRA. I would, however, urge you to exercise caution in the use of hyperbolic rhetoric. Additionally, I would be as wary of your fawning admirers as your hate-mailers. Even rational people can be inflamed into extreme points of view irrespective your intent. One of the things that I admire about you is, that you are a rational thinker and, while certainly passionate, you convince using logic and reason. If I were a religious man, I would say, "God Bless You Sir." Instead, I'll fall back on the well worn, "Well played."

    I mean this critique only as temperance of the rhetoric you sometimes employ, not to indicate my disagreement with your points of view. Stick with and staunchly defend the positions to which your experience and expertise have lead you. Continue to speak truth to power, whatever that means, and continue to enlighten us with your opinions.

    I'd like to share something I heard recently on the podcast "Here's the Thing" with Alec Baldwin. In a recent interview with Lewis Lapham, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Lapham), Mr Lapham said:

    "A democratic society is held together by mutual feeling and respect for one's fellow citizen. I hold my fellow citizen in thoughtful regard, not because he is beautiful or rich or famous, but because he is my fellow citizen."

    Crazies don't tend to be respectful. So what? That's one way we know they're crazies. I love hearing rational people expressing themselves rationally. I love reading your blog and I admire the courage you express in taking on entrenched power bases like the NRA. Keep up the great work.

    Your e-friend, (I hope),

    Stephen Hoag

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  65. We had a school resource officer in my high school way back in 1993 and before, that's just when I gradutated. He was a Sheriff deputy, his job was to contain violence from breaking out in the school (I didn't go to the best of school, it was probably the second worse in the county, but that's a whole other issue realted to how funds are unequally distributed in a single county). If someone had come in from the outside with a semi automatic weapon, he would have better absolutely no defense. We were also a *very* gated school. Strangely enough I never felt unsafe there at all.

    Now a days, as the GOP slashes and dashes the funds to school...I certainly don't see the NRA kicking in any funds to help the education system. They talk a big talk, but it's an empty strawman. And if I did have children, and I do have a niece attending a public school (with a resource officer-Orange County, Fl, in a relatively safe school), I'd absolutely shudder at the possibility that anyone besides her school's resource officer was there. I don't want some nut with an semi automatic weapon 'protecting' her school. A school resource officer? I'm fine with that. Anyone else? Forget about it.

    Let's worry more about about rounds that shoot out 100 bullets without a reload. Thyere are too many people in this country playing at military with their weaponery, and I say this as a daughter and grandaughter of former US Marines.

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  66. My daughter's high school had armed guards. These guys were basically people who couldn't make it into the police force. They harassed the female students and strutted around the halls showing off their guns. I believe that one was eventually implicated in drug dealing. They were part of the problem, and heaven knows what kind of lousy excuse for training they received, if any.

    The job of school security guard is unlikely to be staffed with sterling individuals from your favorite cop show.


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  67. I've seen that there WERE 2 armed guards at Columbine. So, even that is no guarantee, which is, I understand, part of your commentary.

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  68. I enjoy reading your take on this issue, because you're undoubtedly knowledgeable and because you actually propose and evaluate workable solutions. You have given me information and ideas to think on, and a model for approaching them rationally. I can only hope to perform as well as you do when I discuss such complex subjects. =) Thanks again, Jim.

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  69. Thank you for writing what I have been feeling about the answers to utter stupidity, as I see it, on the issue of guns. It means more coming from you than me. I'm just a middle aged woman, aging peacenik, who has never owned a gun, doesn't plan to own a gun, etc. I respect the hell out of people like you and I'm glad you have guns. I don't want pendajos (a Spanish curse word) owning guns and acting like they are Rambo. I keep hearing Alaska call my name but I am such a wimp about the cold. Good rants with solid logic. I subscribed. Tell you wife even though I'm a dog person, I respect her right to post pictures of cats as much as she wants to. Happy Holidays and thank God the Solstice came and went and Light will be returning day by day.

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  70. Jim, thanks for speaking coherently and honestly - I grew up on a farm with a rifle for protection for our livestock. Having a nephew shot in the back and killed by his friend who had just bought this nifty new handgun has created a bias in my thinking but I do know people who love to hunt and do provide food and protection for their families - more power to them but I have rights too. I have the right not to fear for my life when going to church or shopping or to a movie - surely there can be some safeguards like limiting the size of the clips. A deranged shooter might not be able to keep putting in new clips to kill or injure so many if there is a pause and as friends who do hunt say using an assault weapon you are hunting humans not animals.

    My question is on arming teachers. As the GOP wars on teachers and police personnel and teachers are having to buy their own supplies now we are expecting them to buy their own guns, bullets and training? Who pays the insurance premiums for those wrongful deaths that would result in an actual shoot-out or some enterprising kid who breaks into the locked drawer and shoots someone? It has been estimated that to hire armed guards for schools only would cost $18 BILLION A YEAR and would not solve the problem. We need to talk but more guns is not the answer. What was sobering was the photo of the teachers car outside the school -- it was riddled with bullets from the killer's gun that went out of the school room, through walls and into the parking lot - and the gun and bullets were not the most powerful available. Excuse me but for a "free" country the NRA is intent on taking my "freedom" away.

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  71. Here's to presenting level-headed arguments, because I am a crazy (not bang-bang variety) pacifist, and I actually thought your comprehensive plan sounded reasonable.

    On another topic brought up, I fear for the day my ex-husband (recent felon and really crazy person) inherits his father's Browning sniper rifle. Even though he is not supposed to be able to possess a weapon, good luck enforcing that. I actually contacted the ATF about it, but there's "nothing they can do".

    So, there's another problem to be addressed.

    Good job, Jim. You have always presented very cogent arguments.

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  72. I have been thinking about the consequences of arming all teachers. Let's examine the consequences in real everyday scenarios.

    First scenario. A teacher has a fourth grade student, who WILL NOT allow an adult male within 5 feet of her. She will literally pee in her pants, rather than pass by an adult male, to get to the restroom.

    Second scenario. A teacher has a class of fourth grade students. Whenever they are given free time to read quietly, over a third of the class will find a dark corner to back into, if it has overhead protection, and more that two walls, even better.

    Third Scenario. A teacher has a ninth grade student, She is outgoing, tries to dress stylishly, vivacious, and is learning to flirt with the boys. One day she shows up wearing the dullest, baggiest clothes imaginable, no makeup, will not talk to any of the boys, and refused to look any male teacher in the eyes.

    Fourth scenario. A teacher has a sixth grade boy that she notices limping Monday morning. He has a badly lacerated foot, from an oyster shell Friday. She buys him new socks everyday, and the rest of the supplies to clean his foot from her own money. There is no school nurse, due to budget constraints and 'liability issues'. If she is found doing this, she will lose her job.

    Fifth scenario. A high school student. He is large, well fed, and in generally good health. Except, he seems to fall off his ATV and get severely bruised about once a week. His sister before him in the small school also had trouble riding ATV's.

    As I said, I have been thinking about arming all teachers.


    Danny

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  73. You rock. You rule.
    I so enjoy the way you absolutely take these issues apart.
    M from MD

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  74. Anonymous Danny ... You make me very sad. I hate that children ever have to experience the kinds of things you describe. And I hate that you have to think that way about arming all teachers ... :(

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    1. Just the thought of having the discussion about arming teachers makes me ill. The thesis of Jim's post, that rational discussion involves discussion and not rejecting the other sides proposals out of hand, implies that we think the proposals through with all of their consequences.

      If the goal of this conversation is to protect the children, maybe we should look at where we will get the best return on the investment. I suspect resources would be more productively spent addressing many other problems, especially if the end goal is to protect the children and produce a healthier (mental) society. Unfortunately this tends to sidetrack the conversations and the end result is no progress in any direction, as pointed out in other comments.

      Also, I would like to add shop teachers to the list of required teaching credentials that would be acceptable to the proposal I posted earlier. If we are to have an armed presence on campus, we should get double or triple return on the investment.

      Danny

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  75. Maybe the gun loonies should have spent their money on penile implants rather than penile avatars.

    I'm looking forward to the reTHUGlican reaction to a combined teacher/police UNION!!! That'll make'em clutch their beads and reach for the smelling salts!

    Keep up the great work.
    Jim Bailey
    Cripple Creek CO

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  76. Good Christmas Eve morning. Just a quick comment.
    Every idea being proposed to try to prevent mass shootings is what we refer to as a barrier in the accident investigation business. When barriers fail, accidents occur. Barriers can be physical and non-physical. (I'm not saying that mass shootings are "accidents," but they can be examined in the same light as accidents are.

    Accidents almost occur due to failures of multiple barriers. Some barriers are much stronger and likely to succeed than others.

    Every idea being proposed to prevent mass shootings has its limitations, or probability of failure. Ease of defeat...

    We have some of the most stringent security anywhere at the Y-12 National Defense Complex in Oak Ridge, TN, yet 2 old guys and an 82-year old nun got through multiple alarms and 3 chain link fences, made it to the exterior of a building that stores highly enriched weapons-grade uranium, and were there long enough to spray paint words on the building and splatter it with blood before being apprehended. So many barriers failed there that it makes one head spin.

    The strengths and weaknesses of every idea, or barrier, being proposed to lessen the probability of mass shootings (it will never be zero probability) must be carefully and objectively considered.

    One can dismiss all the gun nuts one wants to, and insult them until their ears bleed, but if we create barriers that only appear to be effective, the lives of 27 people will have been taken in vain because there will still be no improvement in preventing mass shootings.

    The NRA has a lot of members, who hurt as badly as anyone else when lives are lost, including me.

    Merry Christmas. May yours be filled with joy and love.

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  77. And to make things even more surreal than they already are, today in the Rochester, NY suburb of Webster, two Webster firefighters were assassinated while responding to a house fire call. Yes, they're directly targeting first responders now.

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  78. I just finished reading your two addenda. Jim, I don't think I've ever heard you go AAAAAAaaaaaargh!!!!!!!!! before. It's the old "there are no simple solutions, and I know it but I want one anyway" problem. Let's herd cats, shall we?

    Actually, I like your possibility. I figure that the qualifications you're proposing would call for a 3-5 year advanced education program to train and test the very qualified people it would take, which would include training a whole new set of teachers who could handle the training, and making sure the course materials would be essentially the same across the range of schools who'd be teaching it. Call it a two year startup, if we throw a LOT of money at it. We'd need at least 100,000 people (plus backups) coming out of the programs - call it another five years before the system will be anywhere near populated. Then you need to replace people at about 10 percent per year thereafter, and that's if starting salaries are in the middle range - say $65,000-$80,000 a year.

    I figure the cost of the program from startup to full implementation would be: startup costs and teacher training $250,000,000; initial cost of education (fully funded, please) for full school staffing at $4,000,000,000, and annual salaries for full staffing at $6.5 billion.

    By the time we were done, the NRA would be broke, gun sales would be down to the lowest level in this country's history because of the sheer cost of guns and ammunition, the recession would be over, and we'd have 100,000 potentially qualified new teachers/child counselors who wouldn't be easily intimidated. Rock on!

    No way LaPierre could ever agree, though. Ah, well

    Ann C.


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  79. I don't Jim has anything to explain - his essay was clear enough and his addendums said it again. His point is clear enough, and obvious enough: 1) the NRA solution isn't simple or cheap, 2) it won't work, 3) we responded to other mass death threats in a (slightly) better way. And 4) what else did you expect from the NRA? And yes, he said more than that and added qualifications.

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  80. Very good as always. I am so tired of these people that think the answer to everything is more guns/bullets. Thank You and Merry Christmas such as it it may be.

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  81. I've learned much from you. The world isn't black and white. You may be profane, but I wish you a merry Christmas on the celebration of the birth of the world's true lover of humanity and peace.

    Anon

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  82. President George H.W. Bush and I threw our NRA membership cards in the shitcan after LaPierre,s statement following Oklahoma City. He said that Federal Law Enforcement Officers were "Nazie helmented, jack-booted thugs."
    I have had my legs go all shakey just before being shot at. Bet he hasn't! I have asked a buddy, "Am I still alive?" and had him say, "Yea, but you ain't pretty." Bet he hasn't.
    I don't wish my 1968 on anybody...except Wayne LaPierre.

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  83. First of all, Thanks to Mr. Wright for stripping away the demagoguery surrounding firearms and focusing on the issues.

    I would like to add my comments on the NRA, both pre-1977 Cincinnati and post-1977 Cincinnati.

    I started my firearms education with the NRA/Boy Scouts shooting program. The NRA at that time (early 1960’s) was primarily a hunting organization that taught firearms safety to teenagers and adults. They still do some of this, but it is not the primary goal anymore.

    The current NRA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the firearms industry. Regular members are only tools to push their agenda (and dues – don’t forget the money trail). The election of Barak Obama to a second term; coupled with the Sandy Hook massacre is a wet dream come true for the firearms industry – pushing arms sales in some areas to 300% higher than pre-election levels. Arms sales are the object, so Wayne LaPierre’s response is predictable – more guns.

    I obtained my first carry permit in Texas just after the concealed carry law was passed. My first instructor was one of the DPS retired professionals that helped draft the law. He was up-front with us; we were not qualified at the end of our class to carry concealed – this was only the start of our education. The major classroom instruction was in NON-VIOLENT conflict resolution. The range testing was timed fire under stress. Many of the members of this first class did not pass. Compared to the stringent Texas requirements, the requirements here in Florida are a joke. The Texas requirements are more focused and realistic if public safety is the goal.

    Unfortunately, public safety is not the goal. Firearms sales are the goal.

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