Friday, June 26, 2015

Bang Bang Sanity

Here we are yet again.

Nine more Americans slaughtered by a raging madman with a gun and bad haircut.

Nine more innocents slaughtered because we absolutely, utterly, refuse to do anything to prevent it.

This time it was Charleston, but it could have been anywhere.

The place, the names, the blood and the hate, the insanity, they’re all the same.

I waited a week to see what would happen. To see if it would be different this time.

But, of course, it’s not.

It never is.

Oh, they’ll haul down the Confederate Battle Flag, that stinking banner of treasonous bigotry, sure. Social media will raise a great cry of joy at the victory, but it won’t end racism in America any more than outlawing the swastika in Germany got rid of the skinheads. It’s a start, certainly, and one a hundred years overdue, but it won’t do a damned thing to get at the real problem.

And it certainly won’t stop the gun violence in America.

When US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head by a grinning nut with a gun, we watched six people including a little girl die. Eighteen people were wounded that day. I wrote about rights and responsibilities and about Second Amendment Solutions.  We Americans, we talked about maybe doing something.  Some demanded more laws. Some demanded more guns. Some blamed liberals. Some blamed conservatives. Some blamed mental health. Some blamed the victims. Everybody blamed Obama.

Predictably, nothing changed.

Then another lunatic with a gun slaughtered twelve people inside a movie theater and wounded seventy more.

I wrote The Seven Stages of Gun Violence.  Over the last thirty-six months I’ve updated that piece numerous times with another, and another, and another, and another, and yet another case of armed madness and bloody mayhem.

I said then nothing will change, that nothing can change because we Americans will not change it. We can’t even have a civil conversation about it. Guns are an obsession in our country, a lunatic insanity, the mere mention of which makes us bang bang crazy.

I said that the slaughter will continue, and it has with terrible regularity.

I said liberals will blame conservatives, and they do.

I said conservatives will blame liberals, and they do.

I said the same old argument will continue. And so it has, repetitious and as predictable as clockwork, bang, bang, bang.

And nothing changed.

Fully half of Americans apparently believe gun violence can somehow be brought under control with the addition of yet more gun violence – which is a lot like saying drunk driving can be cured if we just put more drunk people behind the wheel.  They might be right, in an evolutionary sense, but it’s small comfort to those killed and maimed in the resulting blood bath.

The simple truth of the matter is that gun violence isn’t the exception in America, it’s who we are.

The president was right, you don’t find this kind of gun violence in other First World countries. 

What? What’s that? Oh, of course, France. Charlie Hebdo. Fair enough. I’ll give you Charlie Hebdo. Tell you what, I’ll even spot you Anders Behring Breivik. Now, your turn, quick, name twenty more. Name ten more incidents of gun violence in France. Name ten more incidents of gun violence in Norway. No, no, don’t Google it. If it’s as common there as it is here, you should have no trouble naming five examples in either country right off the top of your head.

So go ahead, name them.

What’s the matter? Can’t do it?

Funny, you sure as shit can name that many incidents of gun violence, five, ten, twenty, right here in  America, can’t you? In the last three years.

Gun violence is who we are.

We’re bang bang crazy.

We actually have “National Gun Appreciation Day” in America. All of our heroes are packing. Guns and violence solve all of our problems.  Books, TV, movies, video games, law enforcement, foreign policy, we can’t think of a solution that doesn’t involve guns, or the threat of them. In the United States we believe gun ownership is a fundamental civil right, a Constitutional right … and access to food, clean water, education and healthcare are not. We proudly tell ourselves that an armed society is a polite society, a civil society, a law abiding society – even though that is patently and provably untrue in every example. We say that armed citizens, a good guy with a gun, stop crime, even though that is patently and provably untrue in large part. In America, “guns” and “religion” are commonly used in the same sentence. In America, it’s now possible to print your own untraceable and undetectable gun with a 3D Assembler and a computer and won’t that be fun? We have so many incidents of gun violence in this country that after a while they all just start to sound the same.  In America, guns are so important to us that we demand even those with diagnosed psychological problems have access to guns. And when those same people go on a murderous killing spree, we say it was God’s will and we say it was the victims who were at fault for not having guns of their own – which is exactly what was said at Sandy Hook and last week in Charleston.

Small wonder then that the nuts and disaffected and the simple-minded haters reach for that Second Amendment solution. Honestly, what other examples do we offer?

And so what do we do about it?

As a firearms expert and as a gun owner, and I am both, I’ll say to you in all candor: more guns are not the solution. Having people armed in schools and churches is not the solution. Carrying your mini-14 in a tactical harness to the grocery store isn’t the solution. Living in an armed camp isn’t the goddamned solution. 

You can’t fight drunk driving with more drunk drivers.

So what then? More laws?

Maybe, if they’re the right laws.

The gun fetishists at the National Rifle Association often argue criminals and crazy people don’t obey the law, so more laws won’t stop them – new gun laws only punish “responsible” gun owners and take away their Constitutional rights.

There’s a certain amount of truth to this.

Whenever this comes up, I always ask: what laws would have prevented this latest slaughter?

The response is usually some vague hand waving about more background checks. But background checks wouldn’t have prevented Charleston. They wouldn’t have prevented Columbine. They wouldn’t have prevented Sandy Hook. They wouldn’t have prevented Aurora.  They wouldn’t have prevented Fort Hood, twice. They wouldn’t have kept Gabby Giffords from being shot in the head. They would not have stopped Christopher Dorner. Neither would banning assault weapons. Or high capacity magazines. Or mandating smart gun technology. Or more gun-free zones.

And in this, the NRA is provably correct.

But what both the anti-gun lobby and the pro-gun lobby get wrong is this: While it’s often true laws don’t stop criminals, that is not the law’s purpose

Laws don’t stop crime. It would be nice if they did, but laws don’t stop crime. Instead laws give society legal recourse when its members engage in antisocial behavior.

If there wasn’t a law against theft, you couldn’t prosecute somebody for stealing.

If there wasn’t a law against murder, you couldn’t imprison somebody for killing another.

Laws against theft and murder don’t stop theft and murder, they give society legal options when theft and murder occur.

Saying new gun laws won’t end gun violence is a non sequitur. Of course guns laws won’t end gun violence.

Laws don’t stop crime, however what well written laws do is to put responsibility where it belongs – on the criminal.

Well written laws are about pragmatism.

For example, we all know that laws against drinking and driving won’t stop drunk driving, but they weren’t intended to. We know it’s going to happen. People are going to drink and drive and kill themselves and each other. We know we can’t eliminate it completely. That’s the pragmatism part.

Instead, drunk driving laws were intended to do two things, 1) give us legal recourse as a society, 2) make us responsible for our antisocial behavior – which in turn leads over time to a change in culture.

And that change significantly, measurably, reduced drinking and driving and provably saved lives and made American roads a safer place for all of us.

But, and this is important so pay attention, here’s what those laws didn’t do: they didn’t keep those of us who take responsibility for our own actions from 1) drinking, or 2) driving (note the operative word here is or).

And that’s the answer.

We need gun laws that give society legal recourse by making each gun owner/user personally accountable for their own actions.

Those laws should be designed to change our gun culture over time in order to make gun violence less likely. And, of course, those laws should not keep those of us who take responsibility for our own actions from exercising our Second Amendment rights.

Now, what exactly does such a law look like?

Well, it looks like the NRA.


I’ll pause for a minute until you finish screaming.


Look, let’s be honest.

More gun-free zones won’t do a damned thing. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was a gun-free zone.

More background checks won’t do a damned thing – not unless we’re willing to get serious about it, unless we standardize background checks across the nation to include a complete and thorough investigation like the kind used for federal security clearances. We’re talking full national agency checks with interviews by certified investigators (what security clearance adjudicators call a NAC-I). Those cost about $100K and take four to six months. Such a system would require a complete disclosure of all financial, criminal (including juvenile records), and medical records (including mental health records), periodic updates, and a comprehensive database of all gun owners.  It’s possible, but I suspect neither affordable nor politically feasible. Anything less than that is a waste of time. Q.E.D.

Banning the future sales of assault weapons, certain types of ammo, and large capacity magazines won’t do a damned thing. That horse is out of the barn.

So what would?

Well, we make the NRA’s own rules federal law.

That’s right.



On my range, on any range, military, law enforcement, or civilian, the first rule of gun safety is this:

Always assume the gun is loaded, unless you personally have verified that it is unloaded.

Everything depends from that anchor point.


You always assume the gun is loaded. Always. Every time. Even if you just watched somebody else unload it. When you pick up a weapon or accept it from somebody else, you assume it is loaded until you, yourself, personally unload it or verify visually and physically that it is unloaded. Period. No exceptions.

Now, I doubt anybody would want to argue that rule.

Make it the law.

Every gun user is personally responsible for knowing the condition of their weapon. No exceptions.

Every year, hundreds of people are shot with unloaded guns.  In the last year I’ve counted dozens of reports of “accidental” discharges, a number at gun shows by so-called experts. For example, last year in Medina, Ohio, a man was wounded at a gun show by a gun dealer, a gun dealer, who was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he had just bought. The dealer took the gun from the seller and accidentally pulled the trigger without clearing the weapon first. The gun’s magazine had been removed from the firearm but one round remained in the chamber. Both the seller and the buyer should have been held criminally liable for failure to properly clear the weapon.

“I thought it was empty” is the single most common excuse when somebody “accidentally” discharges a weapon.

There are no accidents with guns.

There. Are. No. Accidents.

It’s a killing machine. You’re responsible. Period. No exceptions.

We start right there: anyone who picks up a gun is responsible for its condition. No excuses. Misdemeanor for failure to know the condition of your weapon if only property damage is involved, felony negligence if somebody is injured including yourself, manslaughter if somebody dies.

The next rule of safe gun handling is:

Always point the gun in a safe direction. 

Every year hundreds of people are killed or injured by guns because the operator failed to keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction.

Last year, a pregnant woman, Katherine Lynn Bryan, was shot in the head by William DeHayes. DeHayes was showing Bryan and her husband some of his guns, including a .22-caliber revolver. He picked the gun up, didn’t verify that it was unloaded, failed to maintain muzzle control in a safe direction, failed to keep his finger off the trigger, and inadvertently shot Bryan in the head. She died. So did her baby. The papers called it an “accident.” The police called it an “accident.” DeHayes called it an “accident.”

There are no accidents with guns.

DeHayes didn’t face any charges and he’s still a gun owner.

Know how to use the gun safely.
Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun's mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.

Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun's general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun's ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.

Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.

Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded. The gun's action should be open during the cleaning process. Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.

A few months ago, right across the street from my house here in the Alaskan MatSu, a woman was getting her kids out of her car in a church parking lot. Her .357 fell out of its holster, hit the ground, discharged, and struck her 4 year old child in the leg directly above his knee. Give that some thought, gun people. A .357 magnum round dead center into the bone of a 4 year old child’s leg at close quarters.

The police called it an accident.

There are no accidents with guns.

Always point the gun in a safe direction, that’s rule #1 of the NRA’s own guidelines.

Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, that’s NRA rule #2.

Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use, that’s NRA rule #3.

You’re responsible for your weapon at all times. You’re responsible for proper and secure carry. You’re responsible for keeping the weapon in proper operating order. You’re responsible for engaging the safety if the weapon is so equipped or for the use of other techniques if it is not. A properly maintained and carried weapon does not discharge when dropped, if it does, it’s your responsibility. Period. No excuses.

Make it the law.

Misdemeanor for failure to point your weapon in a safe direction, for unintentional discharge, for failure to properly maintain and use safety systems if only property damage is involved. Felony negligence if somebody is injured including yourself. Felony manslaughter if somebody dies.

Know your target and what is beyond.
Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.

Make it the law.

Just as you’re responsible for keeping your weapon pointed in a safe direction at all times when not intending to shoot, any gun user should be lawfully accountable for correct target identification when shooting whether it’s on a target range or in the grocery store in defense of an active shooter situation. Period. No excuses. No exceptions.

Misdemeanor for failure to discharge your weapon in a safe direction if only property damage is involved, felony negligence if somebody is injured including yourself, manslaughter if somebody dies.

There are no accidents with guns.

Think first. Shoot second. On or off the range. You’re carrying a killing machine in public, it’s your responsibility. Not anybody else’s. Yours. Period. No excuses.

Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.

We don’t allow people to operate a car, a boat, an airplane when intoxicated. We don’t let doctors to operate when drunk. We don’t allow cops or military personnel to drink on duty.

But every year thousands of Americans are killed or injured by drunks with guns and even the NRA knows just how insane that is and they put it in writing.

Make it the law.

Just like drinking and driving, you’re caught drinking with a gun, you take a breathalyzer or a blood test. We don’t need any new standards, the ones for DUI will work just fine. You’re intoxicated with a gun? You go to jail. And we impound your weapons.  Somebody is injured? Aggravated assault. Somebody is killed? Negligent homicide. You’re operating a killing machine, I don’t think sobriety is too much to ask.

Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person's particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules.

Every year hundreds of people are killed by guns in the hands of people not authorized to have them.

You own a gun, it’s your responsibility. Period. No excuses.  If Adam Lanza’s idiot mother had properly secured her weapons, she and the innocents of Sandy Hook would still be alive. Hundreds of people are killed or injured every single year in the United States by unsecured weapons. Weapons are stolen and fall into the wrong hands, because they are not properly stored.

The NRA itself, by its own rules for safe gun handling, dictates that weapons must be stored so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons. Note that the NRA doesn’t dictate the method, only the requirement.

Make it the law.

Misdemeanor for failure to properly store your weapon. Felony negligence if somebody is injured including yourself. Negligent homicide if somebody dies. Children are able to access your weapon because you failed to properly secure it? Felony child endangerment. No excuses. No exceptions.

And finally, though it’s not one of the NRA’s rules, I’d add

Never provide a gun to someone not authorized to have it.
If you purchase or otherwise obtain a firearm for another who you know is not legally able to own/operate a gun, you are responsible for that person’s resulting actions with that weapon.

If the people who buy weapons for those not authorized to have them were held to account for their actions, Charleston and Columbine wouldn’t have happened – or at least the likelihood would be significantly reduced.

There are no accidents when it comes to guns.

Make that, that right there, the law. There are no accidents when it comes to guns. Period. No excuses.

Make responsible gun ownership and usage federal law, uniform across the United States.

Conviction on misdemeanor gun safety charges? You lose the privilege for a specified period. You engage in remedial action? You prove you’ve learned your lesson? You prove you’ll be a responsible gun owner in the future? You get your guns back. Happens again, you lose the privilege forever. We don’t give drunk drivers more than two strikes either.

Conviction on felony gun handling charges? You lose the privilege. Period. Your name goes in the federal database and you never own or operate a gun again, this includes cops and military.

You’re caught with a gun after losing the privilege? You automatically go to prison, no plea deals, no excuses.

Don’t want to lose the privilege? Then all you have to do is follow the NRA’s own rules for responsible gun ownership.

Will this eliminate gun violence completely?

No, of course not.

Would implementation of this idea have prevented Charleston?

Maybe. Maybe not. But over time it would make such terrible events less likely and would hold those responsible for enabling the slaughter, such as Dylann Roof’s father (the guy who gave him the gun even though he knew his son wasn’t supposed to have it) to account right alongside the trigger-puller.

Over time, just like with the drunk driving laws, enforcing the NRA’s own rules, the same basic common sense rules that are used in the military, in law enforcement, on civilian gun ranges, and were taught to most of us by our fathers, will change our culture from one of gun fetishists to one of responsible gun owners. And that will reduce gun violence, just as the same approach has significantly reduced drinking and driving.

More, it will provide opportunity for the free market to fill in the gaps. Want to own a gun, but you’re afraid of running afoul of the law because you don’t know the rules? Don’t know how to properly shoot? Don’t know how to maintain and secure your weapon? Plenty of room in there for somebody to teach classes, say even the NRA – should they decide to return to the original charter of their once venerable organization and stop pandering to the lunatics and the gun manufacturers.

Note that I didn’t suggest that you had to take a class. States should decide that. Just like states decide how you’ll get a driver’s license, either by formal classroom or via a knowledgeable mentor. States can levy their own additional requirements. They want background checks, fine. They want waiting periods, fine. They want to limit certain weapons and ammo and specify gun-free zones, that’s up to them.

But at the federal level, we set a basic standard for responsible gun ownership: the NRA’s own rules.

There’s no reason why any gun owner should be oppose this idea. There is no reason why the NRA should oppose this. There is no reason why gun manufactures should oppose this. The rules are ones they all claim to follow now. The only difference is they will be legally responsible for it.

What I’m talking about here is pragmatism.

What I’m talking about is responsible gun culture.

What I’m talking about is sanity.



Other articles on gun violence referenced in this essay are summed up here.

The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

The Bang Bang Crazy series:

Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Dorner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.


About me:

As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meyer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I’m an Alaskan and I typically carry a gun in the wilds of Alaska on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.


  1. Sane, and well written. Bravo, Jim, another great post! But now batten down the hatches for the launch of the screaming sh*tweasels to batter themselves against your blog...

    1. I believe I may be a sh****w***l to which you refer. I hate guns, would just as soon melt them down...and this article is well written and a VERY reasonable approach.

    2. Doesn't matter. There are two options, live with the current level and rate of gun violence or repeal the second ammendment. Accepting the first option seems difficult, but since the repealing the second ammendment will NOT happen, it really is the only option.

      Gun Control will not work with the way the second ammendment was written and has been interpreted.

  2. Best treatise on American gun culture I've read in years! Keep up the good cause, Jim.

  3. An interesting proposition. I still think that semi automatic anything is not necessary for civilian use. I say that as a 12 year AF Security Policeman and 10 year AF small arms instructor. Revolvers, bolt action rifles and breech loaded shotguns are all that is needed for hunting or protecting your property and family. But as Mr. Wright noted that horse is out of the barn. Banning semi automatic handguns and rifles with a government buy back does not have the political will to happen. Until that does, keep numbing yourself to the subsequent slaughter.

    1. I absolutely agree. The only other thing I would add is (as a poster on Facebook replied) is liability insurance. Another component of making the gun owner responsible for what happens with his/her own guns.

    2. Mark: I respectfully disagree: I believe that "semi-automatic" is one of those buzz-words used to frighten people who don't know much about firearms. Kind of like "ram xxx down our throats" and so forth. I have an elderly .22 "semi-automatic" that frightens spruce hens who don't know much about firearms. My fifty year-old Browning Auto 5 is a well-documented terrorist device, but only if you're a duck. Calm down; it's just a tool.

    3. We must assume that you never carry your "tool" to the grocery store, and keep it secure when you are not out there frightening hens.

    4. Tell you what. When the cops don't need one, I won't, either. "Civilian" doesn't mean "untrained", and quite frankly, I've seen more than enough yahoo's in uniform fumble guns than I care to think about. So let's be honest about it; if you're a cop, and you "need" a semi-auto to do your job (encounters with bad guys require it) then when I encounter those same bad guys, I have the same problem. remember; frequency isn't the issue; the hazard of the individual situation is. A cop have plenty of time to reload between shootings, too.

    5. Tale Swapper -- I'm pretty sure the cops DON'T need semiautomatic pistols on general patrol. Until a bunch of people started assuming that 80s police action films were documentaries, police departments used the Colt .38 Police Special.

      And the .38 Police Special is frankly a more reasonable firearm for police than the Glock 9mm. The Glock 9mm is why we see suspects shot nine times in the back. It's why bystanders are in so much danger from police.

      A revolver encourages you to re-acquire and re-asses your target before shooting again, in a way that a semiautomatic pistol doesn't.

      I think that the Glock is simply not as appropriate a weapon for police as the .38 revolver is. If there is a situation in which a .38 is not enough gun, a 9mm isn't enough gun, either. Either a .38 is enough, or you need to call for a tactical squad.

    6. "Semi-automatic not necessary"? Sir, you fail to understand the meaning of "militia". The Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that "military type" weapons are EXACTLY what is protected by the 2nd Amendment.

    7. Sure, but in comparison to more civilized countries where people aren't going around blowing one another's heads off every day, the US looks cartoonish and ridiculous. Statistically, crime rates are the lowest they've been in decades, but because of the glut of firearms you have far more murders than any other developed nation, by a landslide.

      Sure, semi-autos may have been approved as constitutional by the supreme court. But that doesn't mean that they're safe, smart, or necessary. And if you think any appreciable segment of the American population, likely jacked up on Miller Lite or Mountain Dew, will ever be able form a cohesive and effective bulwark against the military (should they ever decide to bring their full weight to bear), you're completely out to lunch.

  4. It's a start... OTOH, there's open carry, and the idiots who abuse it:
    It's going to take a while to thin this herd.

    1. That shotgun totting idjit is definitely the latest Ammosexual poster idjit.

  5. This is so sane. It would never fly in such an insane world.

  6. I like your idea a lot. Sort of putting the ball back in the NRA's court would put 2nd Amendment Congresspeople and all of those ammosexuals out there in a position where they would be forced to go along. As you say this isn't about guns per se but about changing the culture. Make the person who pulls the trigger personally responsible (gee that's what conservatives always scream isn't it) for what happens. Clearly outline the penalties and consequences when your gun injures or kills someone recklessly. And like Roof's father those same penalties apply to anyone that helps put the gun in the offender's hands.

  7. Thank you for your sane insight.

  8. Until recently, I was a competitive shooter. It was my primary pastime and the economic catastrophe marking the end of the W. Bush presidency wiped out my job and my income hasn't been sufficient to continue shooting and competing. I mention this because I think it may surprise some people how I feel about this whole subject. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. The current situation with gun violence is unacceptable and though I have of necessity been an NRA member (a requirement for some of my competitions), I fault the NRA for not being the leader in this issue, because protecting my right to life trumps protecting my ability to own a gun. I grew up hunting with my dad and my brother, so I have been around guns all my life, but we really have to do something. These mass shootings just keep on coming and the NRA is delusional if they think nothing is ever going to change, or that nothing needs to change. Jim, I love your writing!!

  9. Very nicely said, Mr. Wright.

    I was especially taken by your insight that firearms are simply tools. This is one thing overlooked in the debate on firearms. Most people start from the assumption that firearms are good or evil. But as tools they cannot be either of those things. People are good or evil. They use tools to accomplish their ends and in no way are the tools responsible for those acts.

    If I may, as a Canadian who has observed America for many years I've noted one thing about the debate on firearms. For many on the 'pro-gun' side of the debate, often characterized as 'the right', America is not just a nation. It is a faith, a religion. America, to them, is a god.

    To these people firearms are an instrument of faith. Possession of firearms is an affirmation of that faith, and the blood shed by them is necessary to keep America holy. To my mind it bears a remarkable resemblance to the religion of the Aztecs which also demanded huge infusions of blood in order for the universe to remain working.

    Personally, I find it kind of creepy.

    Finally, here's a little routine by an American comedian originally from Australia on the gun debate. I hope you enjoy it. I nearly pissed myself when I first saw it. https://youtu.be/lL8JEEt2RxI

    1. As I've said elsewhere, the ammosexuals have turned firearms into magical fetishes. They truly have. The fetish in their minds, gives them the right of instant but undeserved respect, the right to win ANY argument, no matter how petty, the ability to never back down, and what I call, "Gun muscles".

      All from carrying their magical 9mm fetish.

      It's pretty sad.

    2. I checked out the link you posted, and that was very good!
      However, Jeffries made an error when describing why he thought the Second Amendment was a good idea: So that we could have a means to rise up against a tyrannical governmet.
      I’ll let Robert Parry nutshell it:

      “The reality was that the Framers wrote the Constitution and added the Second Amendment with the goal of creating a strong central government with a citizens-based military force capable of putting down insurrections, not to enable or encourage uprisings. The key Framers, after all, were mostly men of means with a huge stake in an orderly society, the likes of George Washington and James Madison.”

      The entire article is worth a read.


    3. I would support every new "law" you propose. This is great because I support only half of the Obama/Biden plan. Your ideas are a good start and would cost the government little to pass. I side with you that there are NO gun "accidents". That, in fact every gun incident is preventable by the purchaser, owner, and user right up until the bullet leaves the barrel. I agree nobody should disagree with this pure fact. You seem to place an inordinate amount of blame on the handler and I believe never mentioned the "purchaser" directly unless I missed it, the column is very long and slow moving and I bet many will not read it. I disagree that automatic weapons should be sold legally. These are primarily used in drug wars against law enforcement and against rival gangs. You ignore this inordinate "killing power". Further, I warn you that the NRA is perhaps the biggest group of propogandists since Adolph Hitler. While the exact tenents you quote and would make law are sensible, be warned, the NRA has little regard for human safety nor for telling the truth. The fact of the matter remains that owning a gun makes it more likely you or your family will be injured or killed by that gun. That is common sense, and a fact.

    4. I found the article fascinating and informational rather than long and slow moving. Pertaining to your question about purchasers being held responsible that was covered in several sections. Possibly another read through may help? Reading comprehension tends to suffer for most when large amounts of information are involved. It also may help to read the article with the point of view that the majority of gun owners legally purchased their own weapons. The issue you raised about criminals is also addressed, along with why banning automatic weapons is not feasible.

  10. The only thing I like better about this piece than the pragmatic solution itself is the sheer joy of the idea of making the NRA part of the solution.

    1. It certainly would be nice to see the NRA hoisted by its own petard as it were.

  11. Wonderful post, as usual. Keep up the good work.

  12. Make people responsible for their actions. What a novel concept.

  13. Bravo! A sensible and workable plan! Although I have spent only a few minutes considering this, I see no reason, political or otherwise, that it could not and should not be enacted.

  14. I'm with you on this. I feel that "The Party of Personal Responsibility" will balk at having to take personal responsibility as suggested by the NRA.

    Just saying...

  15. I'm a run-rights blogger, and from what I can tell, my personal politics are pretty far from yours. There's a fair amount in the first half of your post I don't necessarily agree with (though there's also a lot I do). Your prescription, though? Spot-on. There are no accidental discharges, only negligent ones. People who violate the 4 rules to the risk or injury or death of another should be prosecuted for doing so. The example of how we treat drunk driving should be a guide, and the federal laws should largely be tailored to restricting people who have proven they cannot safely handle or possess a firearm from doing so until and unless they can demonstrate they have reformed.
    My only disagreements with you in that respect are: a)that the NRA wouldn't gleefully support such laws, and that b)such laws do not exist. The laws exist - the will to prosecute does not.

    I would suggest one more thing, again following from the example of anti-drunk-driving campaigns. Do PSAs. Run 4 Rules PSAs often on TV. Run Eddie the Eagle's rules for child gun safety ("Stop, don't touch, leave the room, tell an adult") in kids-show time slots. Educate the culture to change it. Put them in the same category of public service airtime as anti-DUI, Smoky the Bear, etc as far as meeting airtime obligations for stations.

  16. I've no problem with people owning semi-auto firearms. We should have access to the same defense technology that a beat cop has access to. I was pretty down on guns until I found myself in a situation where one could've become necessary and the police were simply not available.

    As a recent transplant to NY State, I wasn't permitted to bring any of my sidearms with me. They have a Byzantine registration system that is sufficient enough pain in the butt that I have gone through all of the hoops and paid the several $100s it would take to reclaim my property, which I transferred to a trusted friend before I moved here. After the CT school shootings it became worse. The laws that are used here are arbitrary and feel like a "gotcha" setup.

    So it's been 3 yrs now and I still haven't gotten around to it--- but I have to wonder how many guns entered the state illegally in that same time period. And as cliche as it is to say it--- I am the last person anyone should worry about having a gun.

    1. And yet, it seems you really haven't needed to carry any of them, have you?

  17. THIS...is fecking BRILLIANT.

    Off to post a request with linkage on whitehouse.gov...

  18. Interesting proposal. Any thoughts on how it would apply to police officers? I'm thinking of the 2012 Empire State Building shooting where the police hit 9 bystanders trying to get one guy.

    1. Police officers would have to be held to a different standard, but only while they are on the job.

      I did find myself reflecting on this as I can see many situations where a police officer could shoot someone by accident. Part of LEO training is knowing when it's OK and not OK to shoot, and it is highly situational.

    2. Perhaps we could also include a military procedure (not sure if it's Navy-exclusive, but I know they do it) used to limit bystander deaths in a firefight on a military base: Law enforcement (MPs and Marines on security duty in the military, but civilian police in this adaptation) shout "hit the deck!" or something to that effect, and push anyone still standing that's not law enforcement to the ground so as to keep them as far out of the line of fire as possible. Anyone who's armed and does not comply with the order is assumed to be hostile.

      It might be too late for our current generation, but there's little reason why we couldn't hold random firefight safety drills in our schools. Most of them already have police officers performing security duties there anyway, and if it would help limit deaths and injuries in firefights with the police, then that's probably a good thing.

    3. We have courts to help society decide such difficult questions as the shooting at the Empire State Building. The courts should be used to decide it would help society at large to better accept the outcome of the decision.

  19. Once again, you have enlightened my sometimes feeble mind and broadened my horizons. Do we have the right to own guns? According to the 2008 SCOTUS decision, we do. Do we have the right to decorate our bodies with our weapons and walk around in public? Here in Texas, we do. Do we hold gun owners responsible for bad things that happen with their guns? More often than not, we do not. I will, however, disagree in one respect, or at least carry your thinking just a bit further. I believe that when you purchase a gun, it should be registered to you, making you responsible for anything bad that happens with that gun until you officially report that gun as no longer in your possession, your description of criminal charges to apply. If you own a gun that is not registered to you, you hold that weapon illegally, making it subject to forfeiture. But overall, I agree completely with your most reasonable and pragmatic approach to this a seemingly insurmountable cultural schism.

    1. Unfortunately the "ammosexuals" believe that any sort of registration is just the step before confiscation.

  20. This. Is fecking BRILLIANT.

    Have you considered drafting a We The People petition on whitehouse.gov?

    If so, may I help?

    Best wishes,

  21. I'd go one small step further in treating guns the same way we treat cars: liability insurance. If everyone who wanted to own a gun had to carry insurance in the same way that everyone who wants to own a car has to carry insurance, you can bet the insurance industry would swing into action right skippy. It makes perfect sense, too. Carrying a loaded gun around Wal-Mart carries the same level of responsibility as driving a car. If you discharge it and injure someone, you should face criminal and civil punishments. You should also carry enough insurance to pay for the injured party's medical bills or the fallout of their death. Just like if you'd "accidentally" run someone over with your car.

    1. This idea makes me a little nervous, at least at first, because I see how badly people drive knowing that the insurance company will pay to clean up any messes that they make, and also because I just finished a protracted fight with the insurance company of a drunk driver who nearly killed me on the freeway.

      But I can also see a plus side to it...if it were structured in such a way as to keep a heavy burden for restitution on the negligent party before insurance kicked in, it could be a plus. Like a very high minimum deductible, or a personal responsibility clause where the insurance doesn't kick in except to cover damages above and beyond what the negligent party has the assets to cover.

    2. As I mentioned above, the "ammosexuals" would never go for it. Having an insurance policy on your gun means you have to have registered the gun with someone somewhere. They believe that registration is only one step away from confiscation.

    3. I guess I must be an homosexual by your definition. Here is a problem I have with your liability insurance idea, and the various proposals for punitive taxes or registration fees on firearms or ammunition.
      What would the effects be? I suspect the real effect would be to make firearms ownership illegal for those who are not in the middle class or above.

      Frankly I think that is the trustworthy goal of some of the proposals, but I will not assume that us your goal.

      Any policy should be analyzed for its effects in more than just the ideal case.

    4. "Homosexual?"

      What? Your comment makes no sense whatsoever, Anonymous. Try again. Try harder.

    5. Sorry, missed an autocorrect. Supposed to be ammo, not homo.

      If policies make gun ownership unaffordable for those in the "lower economic classes" then in my opinion they are unjust.

    6. I dislike auto-correct. I also missed that it turned "true" into "trustworthy" in my original post.

      Further thought on the economics of requiring liability insurance, as well as the proposals for massive taxes on guns or ammunition, or for hefty registration fees:
      In my opinion, minorities would be dis-proportionally impacted by such policies, as the economic costs might well make firearms ownership too expensive to afford.

      If a right is financially limited, is it a right?
      If such a financial limitation dis-proportionally impacts minorities, is it in effect racist?

    7. To Anonymous
      "If such a financial limitation dis-proportionally impacts minorities, is it in effect racist?"
      So you are assuming most minorities are poor? Or only minorities are poor? While it is true that the lowest income sector, (ALL the "poor", not just minorities), will be affected negatively by a requirement for insurance, licensing, or the imposition of taxes, that has ALWAYS been true. You might as well argue that automobile registration, tax on gas, drivers licenses, and car insurance is discrimination. How about including tax breaks for all those of lower income who want to own guns? The NRA would LOVE it! c.c.thomas

    8. Anonymous, where in Jim's proposal did you find financial constraints? I'm having real trouble with that. Anyone who can afford a gun should be able to afford personal responsibility. Jim did not propose "massive taxes" or "hefty registration fees"; those are simply ammosexual bogeymen to divert the discussion.

    9. I am commenting on the additional proposals, such as by Bryn Greenwood for mandatory liability insurance, and adding that my concerns also apply to the various proposals for massive taxes on firearms and ammunition.

      c.c thomas, no I am NOT saying all minorities are poor, but afaik, Minorities tend to dis-proportionally be lower income. IIRC based on articles a few years ago, the average family "wealth" in Black families is 1/12 that of White families. This is, imo, a concern.

    10. If you can afford the gun, you can afford the liability insurance. And something about your concern for the "low-income minorities" somehow rings a little hollow.

  22. Nicely articulated. Using it to see if I can engage some of my nuttier friends on the issue. I think there's a few that haven't completely lost their minds and might be capable of some rational discourse on the subject.

    I am pleased so far with the movement to remove symbols of the Confederacy from public spaces. No, it doesn't do anything about gun violence. But as a pragmatist, I'll take my victories where I can find them, and this is a real opportunity to get some work done on that subject.

    I used the word "celebrate" to describe how we ought to feel where the flag is coming down. The word "celebrate" leaves a foul taste in my mouth, describing something that ought to have happened so, so long ago. I considered changing it, but upon further reflection decided "celebrate," and the foul taste that accompanied it, was appropriate. It's embarrassing that we're just now making some progress on the flag. Then again, that sheds light on how little progress we've actually made on race relations, and I feel we need to confront the fact that we are actually still, that backwards on this issue.

    Felt good to articulate that. Thanks for the space, and keep up the good work!

  23. I respect you big time, Jim. You've earned my respect with your clarity of thought, your incredible, deep, and passionate decency, and your enormous gift for exposition.

    Laws prevent no behavior; they are there for societal recourse as you rightly point out.

    For many, we make laws in the ultimately vain hope that they will provide a deterrent factor in the mind of the perpetrator a priori to an event, but we all know that is just a baby's soother to make us feel like we're doing something and ease our own sense of utter powerlessness.

    I would submit to you, and your audience, that no law, however pragmatic, will ever address the roots of the gun violence crisis (I was going to say "problem" but it really is far greater than that).

    We at the societal level do NOT grasp the depth or nature of the human need for a sense of personal security and how possession of a weapon fills that need; indeed, the weapon has for a segment of society everywhere (not just in the U.S.) become a royal symbol for power to keep the wolves at bay.

    The gun symbolically answers a fundamental sense of powerlessness in the face of a stark reality of total, actual human vulnerability.

    ...and what I have said barely begins to build a frame around all the breathtaking human complexities.

    So, I respectfully disagree that attempting to alter the course of this ocean liner of a crisis with pragmatism in the form of education backed by the force of law will be worth the effort. It wouldn't alter the course even by a degree in any kind of acceptable timeframe.

    What we really need is to effect a fundamental understanding of the inner human forces at play and devise a course of action from there that will address them in a way that makes the need for weapons obsolete.

    We will thrash about with ineffective solutions until we understand the full extent of the underlying _human_ realities that turn a human being into a "gun nut", and that's where society needs to aim its efforts.

    Love your work, Jim.

    1. I have to disagree with the premise here. In Canada, we seem to have balanced the various factors about gun ownership quite well, and the bulk of the population doesn't feel any great vulnerability that needs a gun to assuage it.
      In Canada, our long guns are not registered (anymore) but you do need to have a firearms safety certificate to purchase. That means you have completed a basic course in responsible gun handling. Pistols are a different matter. If you want one, you can buy one, after a background check and it will be registered. However, you can't run around with it. The pistol is stored at the range and you need a transport permit to take it anywhere. The result of this is that only serious shooters are willing to go through the process. Finally, weapons have to be stored in a gun safe and have a trigger lock as well. Ammunition is stored separately. Our system isn't perfect. We still have gun crime and accidents, but our system is a damned good compromise and we should be proud of it.

    2. We're not talking about Canada.

      We're talking about changing the culture in America. What you describe, Swampy, works for you and, sure, maybe it would be nice if it worked here. Wish in one hand and ... well, you know the rest.

      We're talking about pragmatism.

      Americans won't even consider Canadian style healthcare, they're sure as shit not going to accept your ideas on guns.

  24. Jim, Absolutely without doubt the best answer to the "what can we do about guns in America" question. We, as a society are far to quick to absolve people of their responsibility in to many aspects of daily life. With rights always comes responsibility and we have been neglecting it for far to long. Excellent piece of writing here!!

  25. I was once anti-gun, but then I learned more about them, and about how to shoot and clean and care for them. I met folks who were avid gun users, but they were completely respectful of what they had in their hands, so it wasn't a turn-off to be around them. That being said, one of the ladies who was target-shooting was a gun-waver; "innocently" swinging her gun around, even after we yelled at her, and even after I'd dropped to the ground a couple times to get away from the end of her weapon.
    Your post outlines a more than reasonable set of parameters for gun use. I approve. I just wish that we could do more to dissuade people from feeling like they need guns to feel safer. I don't own a single gun; I live in a remote, gun-filled world with wild beasts around, and I don't feel afraid for myself.
    That is, not until I walk into a shopping mall in town, where any loose loo-loo might start shooting.
    Thanks Jim for the good conversation. We need to keep it going! You are a voice of reason in a crazy world.

  26. I have an addendum. Require insurance for gun owners, just like we do for cars.

    Let the insurance company charge an appropriate amount for the stupidity of the owner, and make the gun shops sell the policy at the point of sale.

    Charging for risk is what insurance companies do, and they are profitable at doing it.

    If you can't put a coherent thought together, the costs will be sky high, and if you can't put a thought together AND are under 30, I doubt anyone could afford one.

    1. Is that your real goal? Disarming all those under 30 that you feel are "stupid"?

    2. Couldn't hurt. I know plenty of people under 30 that ARE stupid AND own firearms, and am hypervigilent whenever they are around. Heck - one of my neighbors is a life-long hunter and retired military with a 14 year old - and he locks u[p his kid's guns and won't let him keep his own ammo. Not that tough of a deal, IMO.

  27. Sub-MOA, Mr. Wright.
    The rules listed in your article were taught to me by my dad and my Scoutmaster. We all turned to the NRA because they were damned good at that sort of thing. They were pretty dedicated to education. Those values and rules are also the reason I once belonged to the NRA; it used to be an organization promoting safe gun use. Now, they have become a fearsome lobbying group dedicated to enriching gun (and accessory) manufacturers and will fight tooth and nail against ANYTHING that limits gun ownership or use, because this could marginally reduce sales. They will attack any elected lawmaker (or anyone else for that matter) who dares to defy them. Shit-pants Ted Nugent is on their board of directors, which is akin to hiring Charlie Sheen as your drug and alcohol counsellor. If they ever return to the outfit they were when I was a pup, I might, MIGHT reconsider. Be alert for flying pigs on that day.

  28. Finally, a logical, reasonable approach to gun ownership! Thank you so much for this. I think I may bookmark this post as an answer to my friends who are rabidly opposed to restrictions on their right to own guns.

  29. Not just an interesting proposition but an intriguing approach in utilizing the NRA's own rules. It would be pretty hard for anyone to argue that. I also appreciate your mention of the Confederate Flag issue, as much as it's great to see it come down, it just feels like a lot of subterfuge to distract from the real issue of ongoing gun violence. An act to make some feel good about themselves, and that we can all move on. A great post and a brilliant suggestion. Thanks Jim,

  30. I'll say this as I've said it before elsewhere: I don't want anyone carrying a gun in public unless the have the same amount of experience and training I do. Or you do, Jim. You actually have MORE than I do, which is a refreshing change.

    Carrying a weapon in the public square is a HUGE form of trust BY that selfsame public, and it should be treated like the huge responsibility it is. Instead, we let any and all dipstick mouthbreather who can sit through a half assed 4 hour class carry one. Unacceptable.

  31. Thanks for another thought-provoking essay. I especially loved this: "...laws give society legal recourse when its members engage in antisocial behavior, " and will be chewing on it for a good long while. Thanks for the "nutrition!"

  32. May I request/suggest just one addendum/edit? You say absolutely no drugs, and I am pretty sure I understand the spirit of that, but perhaps it could be intoxicating, or mind-altering drugs? I take four prescriptions, every day, as I'm sure many others do, (more or less) that should have no influence on my ability to be a responsible gun owner. One helps me avoid hot flashes and growing hair on my chin, one is supposed to help replace the thyroid hormone lost when half that organ was cut out. Two are for weight loss. Some folks must take drugs for diabetes, or heart conditions, or infections, etc. Does getting a bad case of tonsillitis mean you can't own a gun for a while, or developing diabetes mean you can't own a gun ever? I don't really think that's what you meant. But I hesitate to put words into your, er, blog.

    With all that said, I do want to say Thank You for this post. I've wondered for a long time how we might go about effecting positive change. I kept getting wrapped around the axle on the background checks. (And I do think reporting needs to be done, and databases need to be nationwide. It's not as though we don't have the computer power to do this. We should even have the unemployed workforce available to throw at the problem, if it were a priority. Too bad it isn't.)

    Responsibility. What a refreshing concept.

    Gretchen in KS

  33. You start strong, but end weak.

    Add those bolded statement to the existing laws won't come anywhere close to stopping mass shootings.

    "Banning the future sales of assault weapons, certain types of ammo, and large capacity magazines won’t do a damned thing. That horse is out of the barn."

    You are wrong and we have proof in the form of Australia. One could argue that their citizens were as fond of guns as ours. But...

    Australia stopped their mass shootings. In 1996, there was a terrible massacre of 35 people. The country finally said "Enough!" but it cost many Australian politicians their careers to do the right thing... but they did it.

    In 20 years, Australia hasn't had a another mass shooting. TWENTY YEARS. And it is due wholly to the fact that they adopted very strict gun control laws and banned certain types of weapons.


    Also, from the article: "...the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides."

    Over 50% reduction in BOTH gun homicide AND suicide rates.

    The evidence exists. These mass shooting can be stopped with gun control. You appear to dodge that bullet in your article.

    1. Good luck.

      You missed the key word, even though I mentioned it repeatedly.

      You're talking about idealism. I'm talking about pragmatism.

      You want it all, no compromise. Just like the gun fetishists want it all, no compromise. And nothing will happen, just as nothing always happens when there's no compromise.

      You're talking about woulda shoulda coulda. I'm talking about something we might all actually agree on and get passed and be able to live with in the future instead of repeatedly fighting it out in court and in congress.

      I believe in pragmatic drunk driving laws, you're a prohibitionist.

      As I said, good luck. r/ Jim

    2. Agree with Jims article 100%, and as an Aussie may I offer a perspective. The USA and Australia are quite dissimilar when it comes to guns. I lived out West for 7 years, and probably half the guys I knew had a gun, maybe less. Mainly bolt action rifles for bunnies, and pigs. All related to hunting of some type. In the cities out of all the people I knew..maybe 1 or 2 at most owned a gun. For trips to the country to hunt! Nobody I knew owned a pistol, and aussalt weapons were for the movies! The Prime Ministers stance was courageous after Pt Authur; but guns were never quite held in a religious reverance that they seem to be in the US. 73, Scotty

    3. Jim Wright You want it all, no compromise. Just like the gun fetishists want it all, no compromise. And nothing will happen, just as nothing always happens when there's no compromise.

      Compromise is the only way it works with two factions wanting two different things. Also, if it can diffuse the hyper-anger for a generation or two, we might get back to a civilized society again.


    4. Jim - You make it sound as if pragmatism has ever worked in this country when it comes to gun laws.

      When *EVER* has the NRA allowed a pragmatic gun law?

      What about licensing and registration?

      To own and drive a car, you need a license, registration, insurance, etc. Why shouldn't guns be treated similarly? That seems pretty pragmatic, right?

      Think the NRA would go for that? Registration, licensing and insurance?

    5. Marty: Why does anyone give a rat's ass what the NRA wants? "Allow" a pragmatic gun law? When did this tiny minority of un-elected shit-mongers take over my country? They haven't; and it's high goddam time we start reminding our elected representatives about that. Email them, call them and fer christsake, vote!

    6. Dear Anonymous,
      I don't give a rat's ass about the NRA. But there are these things called Political Action Committees... and now there are these newer things called "Super" Political Action Committees and the NRA has a lot of money to make sure any conservative who tries to work toward a pragmatic gun law is never elected again.

      And thus, we are stuck until Citizens United is overturned.

  34. Well said, sir.

    I also agree with those who add the requirement for a gun's owner to hold liability insurance. Just as with a motor vehicle, you may have no *intention* of doing something stupid; but brain-farts happen, and the innocent victim ought not bear the costs. Not to mention that every time the premium comes due, it serves as a reminder of what it's insuring against.

    (For the record, though, not every state calls two DUIs enough. It's appalling how many times multiple-repeat offenders are pulled over - or scraped up off the road along with their victims - in Wisconsin. A brief Google query for "multiple drunk driving convictions Wisconsin" brings up idiots with 8, 11, 15 convictions. But I digress.)

  35. Well you would have a leg to stand on if your statements were correct. "Stinking banner of treasonous bigotry"......really? Im not even gona go there. As far as being able to recite such incidences off the top of our head regarding other countries news, I would like to go to the other countries and ask them to do the same for ours. Its apples and oranges, we dont live there so its not in our scope of living no more than our news would be in theirs. As far as implementing the (actual 4 rules) of safe gun handling, as you should know from your service in the military, mine being USMC ( Treat, Never, Keep, Keep) 1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
    2. Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
    3. Keep finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
    4. Keep weapon on safe until you intend to fire.
    I was INFANTRY so we lived them everyday, not sure what your MOS was? Im not sure how that is going to cure gun violence, maybe "accidents" or as we call them NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE, but how will this stop idiots from gunning down crowds? It wont! The focus isnt on the ND's that occur in society, although tragic in their own regards, its about mental cases and mass shootings. Yes there is a love of guns in our society, same as the love of freedom, secured by our Constitution! In my opinion there needs to be a reformation of the legal system that executes the gunmen within a timely manner and not dragged out with appeals and "unfit to stand trial due to being CRAZY" all the mentioned incidents in this article were well planned and thought out, not spur of the moment. But our society has become soft, caring more about offending people and less about punishments that are strict and effective. For instance, public hangings, stonings, whippings..... Yes these sound brutal but effective. Im willing to bet if criminals saw a man hanged, losing his bowels, legs kicking, neck popping... they would think twice about commiting that crime. Currently, criminals know they can plead insanity and get three hots and a cot with cable TV all at our expense. Which leads me to my next topic, prisons. They are overpopulated due to above said comment and more of a refuge then a prison. Make them like a Mexican prison that we all know are harsh and watch crime diminish drastically. Now youll say something along the lines of being barbaric and uncaring, but thats not true. You ask anyone that knows me and Im the exact opposite of that. But I am also a realist and a patriot. I write this in a civil tone and not sarcastic or degrading to you Rich. Despite our recent debates. lol Heres some statistics of worldwide gun violence.

    1. Well, I can certainly see why you post anonymously.

      I write this in a civil tone and not sarcastic or degrading to you Rich. Despite our recent debates. lol Heres some statistics of worldwide gun violence.

      Who's Rich?

    2. My name is Chad. I wrote that to a "friend" on a Facebook post initially, he is a fan of yours. I am not so I copied it to post here and didnt erase that. He and I get in heated debates over many things. I posted anonymous because I dont know my URL etc. but you can email if you like.

    3. I can see where his sarcastic and demeaning undertones originate from as well.

    4. I'm the exact opposite of barbaric and uncaring.

      Sure. Sure. I can see that.

    5. I respectfully disagree with the notion that the US is the only place where mass killings take place. See today's news here: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/06/26/man-beheaded-in-apparent-terror-attack-at-factory-in-france-local-media-say/ I also disagree that negligent discharges are much of a problem that people want to enact laws to change. In Texas, carrying a concealed handgun is already illegal if you are intoxicated under state law. Also, under state law, one is obligated to store their firearms in such a way as to prevent children from accessing them. Under federal law, it is already illegal to transfer a firearm to someone that you know may not legally own or possess a firearm. If you have a negligent discharge, you could be prosecuted under a number of legal theories as low as discharging a firearm in a municipal boundary up to lower degrees of murder. We've got laws for these things already, yet mass shootings continue to occasionally happen. When they do, the shooter usually doesn't stop until he runs out of bullets or a good guy with a gun stops him. The SC shooter reportedly planned to shoot up a university, but turned to the church because the campus security. Ever wonder why these shootings typically happen in gun free zones?

    6. Wes, you're not respectfully disagreeing with me since you didn't read what I wrote.

      "Mass killings." Didn't say that. As to the terror attack in France, please.

      "I also disagree that negligent discharges are much of a problem that people want to enact laws to change." Didn't say that.

      "In Texas, carrying a concealed handgun is already illegal if you are intoxicated under state law. " It's always about Texas, isn't it? I wasn't talking about state law.

      "Ever wonder why these shootings typically happen in gun free zones?" No, because they don't "typically" occur there. Some mass shooting occur in gun free zones, many don't. That said, again, you very clearly did not read what I wrote.

      "... a good guy with a gun" and you're done. Don't quote Wayne LaPierre at me.

    7. "For instance, public hangings, stonings, whippings..... Yes these sound brutal but effective."

      But they weren't effective; that's why we don't have them any more.

      "I'm willing to bet if criminals saw a man hanged, losing his bowels, legs kicking, neck popping... they would think twice about commiting that crime."

      Public executions used to be popular entertainment. The main result of public brutality apparently was not to deter crime, but rather to engender an acceptance of brutality.

      There's this intuition that more brutal punishments are better deterrents, but history doesn't seem to bear it out.

      The main reason US prisons are so full, BTW, is the Drug War. It was policy intended for political publicity ("We're tough and we're tough on crime.") and successful as such, but as a method of stopping and deterring drug abuse, it has failed utterly, and seems to have exacerbated the problems of violence in our society.

      Consider the possibility that the facts don't support your beliefs.

  36. I've long thought that gun owners/users should be licensed just like car drivers. Before you have the privilege of driving on our roads you demonstrate that you understand and can comply with the rules (laws) that govern our use of roadways. Before you can operate a gun it should be the same, demonstrate that you can do so safely and in accordance with a set of laws much like you outlined.

    1. I have also thought this for a long time, but I think you don't go far enough. Gun ownership, like car ownership, should require insurance. Insurance would be void if you cannot prove your gun was locked up if it gets stolen. I had a few more I told a friend, but cannot remember them all at the moment.

    2. It is not illegal to own a car without insurance. It is only illegal to *drive* the uninsured car.

      A fine distinction, but a distinction nonetheless, and one I've grown weary of people ignoring.

    3. Big difference between and privilege and a Constitutional right. Apples and Oranges.

    4. Wait a minute! A bunch of guys in the late 18th century couldn't even imagine transportation other than by "horsepower", so it would be highly unlikely there would be a "constitutional right" regarding an automobile. The gun used by those people were muzzle loaders -- and I think it's fair to say they couldn't have imagined the firepower that has been invented in the past 200+ years. But that "constitutional right" somehow transfers from the muzzle loader (which took some time to reload) to the gun that fires multiple piece of ammo in a single minute? You're happy to extend the "right" to cover "machines" that the FF never imagined if they are guns, but NOT if they are (mostly) peaceful methods of transportation?!

    5. Except that there isnt a constitutionally protected right to private transportation, regardless of technology level.

      So whats your point?

  37. On the face of it, it seems like a sensible and workable solution but in fact all of those rules already exist for the most part. A lot of the discharges and other incidents that you mentioned are already illegal but the authorities declined to bring charges. We see it time and time again, a negligent discharge or a kid shooting a sibling with a gun they found in a nightstand and everyone talks about it in the passive voice. 'the gun accidentally went off' as if somehow the laws of physics got tangled in a knot and randomly moved the trigger all by themselves with no human intervention. It's never 'the person shot the gun' but 'the gun went off' or 'there was an accidental discharge'. Until you can get DAs and sheriffs to enforce the laws that already exist for things like unlawful discharge of a firearm, negligent homicide, assault and so on, I don't see a point in creating new laws for them to ignore. When kids die because parents or babysitters leave a loaded weapon in a place where children can find it, the usual refrain is that 'they've been punished enough, there's nothing the courts can do that will be worse than what they have now'. Incredibly negligent gun-owners who face zero legal repercussions for their actions are the end result of a culture that bends over backwards not to punish people for their misuse of a firearm.

  38. I live in Texas where you can get a concealed handgun license if you apply, pass the background check and then take and pass the safety course. I was one of the first to do that when the law was passed but I found the course to be very simplistic and lacking.

    My grandfather taught me about guns when I was a young girl and I was well versed in gun safety and usage when I took the course but most of the people in my class were not. The thought of them carrying a weapon on the street often haunts me. My brother is a sheriff's deputy and when I asked him what he thought of it, he felt the same way. Those people graduated from that class able to point their guns at a target in a very controlled environment and hit it a certain number of times, but most were still scared to death of their weapon and didn't have any grasp of safety. If other state's classes are no better than those in Texas, we are lucky we haven't had more shooting accidents.

    1. Or, that, perhaps a training requirement isn't necessary; since negligent discharges by firearms owners are thankfully rare (even if, as noted, they are not prosecuted as often as they should be). The 4 Rules are simple (though, since they weren't promulgated until relatively recently, perhaps not obvious).
      Remember, police firearms qualification tests are basically deliberately designed to ensure that every police officer passes; and yet, police still manage to mostly not shoot people accidentally. Non-police have less cause than police to draw their weapons, and if you leave it in the holster, it won't go off.

    2. Yet the NRA and every gun nut I meet insists that the only answer to a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. I guess my point is that an improperly or under trained good person with a gun might be worse than no person at all. Even very well trained police and soldiers kill innocents in friendly fire sometimes. I'd hate to think my life depended on some of the people in my CHL classes.

    3. In 2013, there were 33,636 gun deaths in the U.S. About 2/3 of those are suicides, and 505 were accidents. Those are fatal injuries. Gun wounding comes in at about 200,000 per year. Those are not broken down as are deaths, but if they follow the same trends, then we're talking over 6,000 non-fatal accidents. These numbers are not "rare". (They come from the University of Utah. library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html)

    4. "Those are not broken down as are deaths, but if they follow the same trends, then we're talking over 6,000 non-fatal accidents. These numbers are not 'rare'."

      The CDC has such a breakdown. In 2013, the number of accidental, non-fatal gunshot injuries was 16,864.

      In a nation of about 316 million people (US Census Bureau 2013 estimate), 16,864 is a rate of 5.3 per 100k people. A city the size of Denver, CO (615k people) would have about 33 per year.

      When we have about as many firearms in this country as people and a city the size of Seattle, WA or Washington, D.C. has less than 3 accidental, non-fatal, firearm-related injuries per month, I'd call it relatively "rare". Especially when we consider that it comes in at #20 for non-fatal, accidental injuries and is about 1/20 the rate of dog bites, 1/30 the rate of bicycle accidents, 1/123 the rate of cuts/piercings, and 1/520 the rate of falls.

      If I'm 520 times as likely to go to a hospital ER to be treated for an accidental fall as for an accidental gunshot wound, I'll call the gunshot scenario "rare".

      (CDC 2013 numbers are from http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfilead2001.html . The numbers represent unintentional, non-fatal injuries for all age groups, treated in hospital emergency departments in 2013.)

      If we add in the 505 accidental gunshot deaths, we're still only at 17,369 total firearm accidents per year. A rate of about 5.5 per 100k persons.

      Regarding the 505 accidental deaths... in 2014, there were 333 climate-related deaths in the USA (lightning, tornado, extreme cold, avalanche, etc.). You were 66% as likely to die from weather as you were from an accidental gunshot injury. If dying due to weather is "rare", then so is dying from an accidental gunshot wound. (Weather deaths from http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml ).

      The above is not meant to imply that following the safety rules (either the NRA's or Cooper's) is not mandatory. It is, and if everybody did so, it would likely eliminate 90% or more of those 17k+ unintentional gunshot injuries.

  39. As a Canadian, looking in from outside, it's easy to see the issue isn't necessarily guns, but American-style gun culture. It would seem to be a culture of fear, where guns are considered necessary adjuncts to personal safety--safety, of course, from those they fear. And of course, this easily transmutes to "those they hate," because we often hate what we fear.

    I've met Americans who refuse to visit Canada because they aren't allowed to import their guns for "personal protection." To which I ask, "protection from what?" I've lived my whole life here (I'm the same age as Jim), and while I do have some firearms training, to date I've never felt the need to have a gun for personal protection. I do not fear my neighbours, and hey, I kinda like that.

  40. A brief note on your otherwise spot-on essay: Yes, initial reports claimed the gun was purchased by Dylan Roof's father as a birthday gift but was later corrected to say that he purchased it himself. I'm sure that makes little difference to Roof's victims and the loved ones left behind to mourn their loss.

    That being said, I do see one glaring difference between Americans and the rest of the world in regards to gun ownership. We, as a people, are scared shitless (well, many of us are anyway. Scared of black people, scared of Mexicans, scared of Muslims (and Arabs in general), scared of violent crime, scared of what the "lame stream media" doesn't want you to know, scared of our own shadows. And it's people that are consumed with fear who most strongly feel the need to own lethal weapons and lots of 'em. I'm not scared enough of my fellow citizens to feel the need to own a gun but if I consumed enough right-wing media (print, online, TV and radio) I'd be hiding under the bed and wetting my pants. Geeze, listening to one speech by Ted Cruz or NRA President Wayne LaPierre would send most otherwise calm folks running to the nearest gun store to stockpile an arsenal. Fear is our most powerful and primal emotion and fear can justify almost any action. And fear is the primary cause of hatred. Fear that "they" are raping our women and stealing our freedom and taking' out stuff. Break out the torches and pitchforks and guns - lots of guns - and let's take our country back! Most politicians know that in the voting booth, raw fear will trump economic interests and reasoned thinking. Every single time.

    JZ in FL

  41. I think at least a couple of the reasons we will never see reasonable changes in gun laws in the U.S., and that we will continue to see these types of massacres, are values that Americans hold: Americans value guns, and violent solutions to problems, over the lives of others. Americans also value the lives of persons from certain groups less than the lives of persons from more favored groups (such as those from minority groups). We glorify violence, and violent solutions to problems. If we valued non-violent solutions to problems, we would highly revere diplomats and mediators; those who worked to find non-violent solutions to problems would be amongst the coolest people to be around. The continual massacres we see, the way we are moving towards a society in which kindergartens and elementary schools are armed fortresses, are symptoms of a sick culture.

  42. As someone else said, interesting post. This is quite possibly the first time I have seen anyone address the issue of the madman with a gun in anything but the most superficial manner. This is an important effort and I want to take some time to try to push it forward. This isn’t to say that I don’t find problems with your essay, I do, and I’ll address them further on, but first, let me try to provide some useful input.

    As you say, the President’s statement that you don’t find this kind of gun violence in other First World countries is largely correct. There are exceptions, but the United States appears to be fairly unique in this arena. My thinking is that prior to 30 - 35 years ago you didn’t find this kind of gun violence in the United States either. I submit that sometime around that period something changed. My suggestion is that we review what happened around that time to find what event or combination of events opened the door to these mass shootings.

    While I have some ideas, I don’t know the cause, but I do know a few things that it wasn’t.

    It wasn’t the proliferation of guns: a large percentage of US citizens owned guns at that time and had owned them many years before.

    It wasn’t the availability of guns: guns were easier to obtain 30-40 years ago than they are now

    It wasn’t the advent of the high capacity semi-automatic firearm: the AR-15 and the M1A, not to mention dozens of similar firearms were available long before the 1980s, as was the ammunition.

    I’m pretty sure that I could continue to list things that didn’t cause this change for many pages.

    Jim, I think you touch on the primary cause when you mention culture, but I don’t think it’s the gun culture. Something happened within the overall American culture that made the previously unthinkable thinkable. As I said, I don’t know what that specifically is, but I’m willing to throw up some possibilities.

    • Increased marginalization of the poor
    • Economic suppression of the middle class
    • Media obsession with tragedy
    • Increased pressure to perform or produce
    • Breaking of the employee/employer contract
    • Increased compartmentalization of individuals/classes
    • Recognition of greed as an acceptable motivation
    • Changes in the social contract
    • Increased fundamentalism in religion
    • Increased indifference of the government

    If you add all these up you basically get a cultural move toward the elimination of hope and opportunity for a better tomorrow. If you have nothing to lose and nothing to live for, why not make a statement about your condition before you go out?

    As you might expect, I’m not really excited about codifying the NRA safety rules to enforce responsibility. My objection is that I think there are enough laws on the books that already do that, well over 20,000 that directly affect guns and untold numbers that address responsibility. Reckless endangerment covers the vast majority of safety rule violations. If you want you can expand the legal definition to specifically cover safety violations. Child abuse is another set of laws available, or perhaps brandishing a weapon. Additionally, rule violators can be sued for losses resulting from wrongful death or injury. My point is that there are plenty of laws that already hold individuals responsible for improper gun safety. It’s just that they aren’t applied or publicized appropriately/adequately.

    Soooooo, what would you do, I hear you ask. And while I don’t think I have anywhere near all the answers, I do have one or two suggestions.

    Do the things necessary to reduce the growth of the income gap between the top 1% and the rest of Americans. Restore hope and upward mobility. Motivate a ‘kinder and gentler’ sort of capitalism.

    Demonstrate that everyone is equal under the law. Specifically, ensure that there is a clear relationship between the egregiousness of the crime and the sentence. Ensure that blue collar criminals don’t escape on a technicality, especially those at the top.

    Continued in next post:

  43. Continued from previous post:

    Find a way to give everyone a stake in the future. How? Good question. But everyone needs to see opportunity unfettered by race or social class.

    Support mental health and conflict resolution, particularly in at-risk groups.

    Eliminate the ‘war on drugs’. Don’t put the government at odds with the people. Put some of that money to promoting gun responsibility, safety rules, and positive expectation of gun owners, and, perhaps, enforcement of useful relevant existing laws.

    Eliminate the opportunity for self-promotion. Make it illegal to release the name and/or related cause/motivation of any mass shooter or to broadcast the same over any media or to engage in sensationalism related to such acts. The thinking here is that if mass murder is not a spectator sport and if the potential perpetrators recognize that they will not get an audience for themselves or their cause then their motivation for such acts will be reduced.

    I’m sure that there are a lot of other things that can be done. If we can isolate the actual cause of the change, I suspect that we can focus the actions we can take to directly address the situation.

    So, Jim, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your recognition that culture is fundamental with respect to this issue, I just think you’ve got the wrong culture. I don’t think it’s the gun culture, I think it’s the culture of increasing helpless/hopelessness. And, I think that there are things we can do about that culture that negatively impact only a tiny minority of US citizen while keeping the rest of us free to enjoy the former promise of America.

    One other small thing; there are at least two different motivations for mass shootings. One is essentially state sponsored terrorism, for instance Charlie Hebdo. The other is to address some personal issue, whether rational or not. Nothing I’ve said, with the possible exception of restrictions on the media, can or will address the terrorism issue.

    Now to some nitpicking.

    I agree with you that generally nothing happens as a result of a mass shooting. In general, I’m OK with this, mainly because it’s a lot easier to make a law than it is to delete or change a bad one, and frankly, the track record of those enabled to enact laws is pretty poor. Consider the Patriot Act or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Currently, the knee-jerk reaction in the US is to blame the object rather than the responsible person. Until there is an accurate understanding of the problem, I would rather these people sit on their thumbs.

    I’m having trouble understanding why you think that each gun owner/user is not already responsible (personally accountable) for their own actions.

    “Laws don’t stop crime.”

    Actually, they do. A more accurate statement is that laws don’t stop all crime. Most people choose, for one reason or another, to not do illegal things. If the laws (and consequences) weren’t there at least some of those people would make a different choice.

    “As a firearms expert and as a gun owner, … , I’ll say to you in all candor: more guns are not the solution.” (Sorry about the ellipsis.)

    I agree 100%. In fact, I’ll go a bit further. I think that guns have little at all to do with the solution.

    “You can’t fight drunk driving with more drunk drivers.”

    I think a better assertion would be that you can’t fight drunk driving with more liquor stores (or perhaps, you can’t fight insane shooters with more insane shooters. You actually can fight insane shooters with more sane and prepared shooters). Additionally, I don’t think gun ownership makes someone an insane shooter. These perpetrators are fairly rare, roughly one per ten million US citizens. If availability is the trigger, why is that number so low?

    Continued in next post:

  44. Continued from previous post:

    “In America, it’s now possible to print your own untraceable and undetectable gun with a 3D Assembler and a computer”

    It’s also possible in England, Sweden, and every other country on the face of the earth that has electricity and Internet. It’s also possible in America to self-manufacture an AR-15. Anyone with fairly rudimentary metalworking skills can do so. You can even buy a kit. At this point I’m unaware of anyone killed or injured with a printed or self-manufactured gun.

    “We say that armed citizens, a good guy with a gun, stop crime, even though that is patently and provably untrue in large part.”

    It’s the “in large part” phrase that prevents this sentence from being patently and provably untrue. Crime is a pretty broad profession. Violent crime somewhat less so. I don’t think anyone expects the ‘good guy with a gun’ to be the go to option with respect to public safety. Still, depending on whose numbers you choose to believe, guns are used by the good guys to thwart crime from tens of thousands to multiple millions of times per year. And whether it’s tens of thousands or multiple millions of times, I suspect that in only a few of those situations was there a useful alternative ( cop on the scene, running away, etc.).

    “There are no accidents with guns.”

    I disagree. There clearly are accidents. However, the fact that something was an accident (or unintended) does not mitigate responsibility. A better statement might be that there are no accidents with guns for which nobody is or can be held responsible. If you were holding the gun, you’re responsible. If you own the gun, you’re responsible. Another better statement might be, there are no accidents with guns without responsibility.

    “It’s a killing machine.”

    That’s a pretty broad brush you’re using. It’s a machine that can kill, as can my Dewalt power drill, my Easton softball bat and my wife’s SUV. I have guns, and you may too, that were not designed with killing in mind. My BSA International Mark III, my Anschutz 1413, and my modified Anschutz 1407, all three single shot 22 rimfire rifles, are designed with the specific purpose of putting small holes in specific places in pieces of paper at a distance. If you were interested in killing someone with a firearm, almost anything, including a zip gun, would be a better choice than those three rifles. And just so everyone doesn’t think that I’m some Pollyanna, I’m well aware that the antecedents to my target rifles were indeed designed for killing, as was my M1A, since its design was specifically oriented toward military use. It’s the broad brush that I object to.


    Note to everyone: nothing I have said should be taken to suggest that the NRA rules of gun safety are either trivial or optional. They are neither. Merely being in the presence of a gun conveys some element of responsibility to every adult present, whether you want that responsibility or not. This is not unlike the responsibility placed on an adult in the presence of vehicular traffic or construction. The risk of harm exists, and you have the responsibility to recognize and avoid dangerous situations. If you find yourself in the presence of someone that does not adhere to the rules of (gun) safety, you have the responsibility to remove yourself and any other persons for whom you are responsible from that situation.

    Thank you, Jim, for your insights and your willingness to address issues when you see them. I do believe that something in the gestalt of America has changed resulting in the otherwise unexplainable increase in shooter events. I also think that unless we can find that trigger and institute the changes necessary to eliminate it this problem won’t go away on its own. Once someone is willing to die for whatever their reason, there is precious little anyone can do to prevent their punctuated suicide (by cop).


    1. I really wasn't looking for literary critique or an editor.

      I'll be honest with you, when I got to about the tenth repeat of "...a better statement might be..." I just quit reading.

    2. TL:DR Perhaps a better statement might be one from each paragraph, summarizing the point you'd like to make.

    3. There are no accidents with guns. Period.

    4. Duane - thanks for the best response to these ideas I've read so far. I'm sorry Jim couldn't get past re-phrasing, but just about every one of them made sense to me a clarified the issue. More light than heat. I had plenty of quibbles with a few of Jim's statements as well - the only one you didn't address was the difference between rights and privilege. Keeping and bearing - carrying is a right. It sounds trivial, but the entire basis of the legal system is that we don't take away people's rights unless by due process we've found they've broken the law. Framing it as "privilege" attempts to make their right to defend themselves trivial - even if I agree that criminalizing negligent discharge might have it's merits.

      We can't accurately predict who is one day going to go shoot up a school - aside from people posting about it in chatrooms which many of them have done. Not much is going to deter someone who is going into a gun free zone with idea of killing as many people as they can before they kill themselves, but people who actually deal with the tactical issues of shutting them down when they start, say they can have their "fantasy bubble" popped by effective resistance. Sometimes that's a "good guy with a gun" sometimes it's a good guy with a chair or can of soup (best idea I've read yet) but the point is to get the resistance happening as soon as possible. In at least half of these instances, the spree shooter kills himself when that happens, the other times they are subdued and sometime they stop and surrender.

      I was thinking of this in relation to a quasi-popular book in the 70s called "The Pursuit of Loneliness" which dealt with the structural and cultural effects of suburbs and cars, and it resonated with your take on culture.

      We need to stop fearing each other. Get out of the tiny boxes that take you to your cubicle at work where you isolate yourself with head phones until it's time get in your little box and go home to your bigger box where you sit alone (maybe next to your spouse) and stare into another box until you sleep to get up and do it all over again.

      When I was a kid we ran around in unsupervised, murderous, little packs until we had to go home to eat. These days a 10 year old kid walking to the store on an errand can be removed from their home for "neglect."

      We're dealing with a generation of people who have been raised in the boxes, by the boxes, who have never had to make an adjustment in their thinking because they've encountered the real world, in non-controlled environment. They can hate all they want and never see the actual face of the people they've hurt - and never have to get along with them afterwards.

      It's not "gun culture" we need to change, it's the culture of fear and entitlement and hopelessness. The boxes - projecting stories that solve everything with violence in 90 minutes, that provide confirmation bias by anonymous people for *any* idea, from gun confiscation to shooting up a school, give us an easy out to dealing with the real world. That shout fear and sex and death and fear and shock and mistrust and it's gotten into the bones of a once courageous and genial people made large numbers of us into trembling rabbits. We can't even see an idea challenged without having a fear reaction that has us screaming at the "other" or blocking them out.

  45. I was hoping that you would take away more than the literary (accuracy) critique from my post. If it works better for you, please skip from the beginning of nitpicking to the finally.

    1. I disagree. There clearly are accidents. However...

      You're not qualified to have this conversation.

  46. Nice thoughts, but they won't work either, regardless of how pragmatic they may be. It is my understanding that the number of households in the US where a gun is present is at an all time low. Colt just declared bankruptcy because they lost their govt contracts (and probably for other reasons, too).... I am a 60+ female -- I have a CCP_ in Florida, after taking the class, which was nominal at best, and the background check. I did this because I could, not because of any need for self defense. I am now a firearm owner, and I am painfully aware of how careful I need to be around that weapon -- whether at home or at the target range. That said, it is time for the great majority of non-firearm owners and those sane firearm owners to stand up and say enough is enough. I refuse to join the NRA - and I think every sane firearm owner should do the same - maybe once, decades ago, that was a worthwhile organization, but no more. MADD (mothers against drunk drivers) was quite successful in not attacking drinking or driving, but only the combination of the two. Those of us in the US who are sane about firearms need to insist on background checks, waiting periods, complete registration of all privately owned firearms, maybe age limitations, and maybe firearm limitations. If someone goes through a very serious and careful background check and registers all of their weapons, then maybe they (and only people like them) can have an arsenal. This may not be remotely pragmatic, but it is long past the time for a relatively small minority of gun fetishists and fanatics (and the gun manufacturers who fund the NRA) to impose their fears and their craziness on the rest of us. In Florida, one does not need to own a gun to fire one at a range. That should be sufficient to let the testosterone overloaded types to get their jollies off by shooting an AR-15 at a piece of paper -- and then going home without it.
    I believe that in the wild, wild west, it was the townspeople who finally insisted that the sheriff be obligated (and permitted) to demand that guns be stored safely while in town. I do not care what weaponry someone has in a remote, rural area (as long as they are all registered), but otherwise, enough should be enough.

    1. You missed the entire point of the essay.

    2. Thank you for saying this so eloquently. We need a national gun policy. So the law is standardized, Close the gun show background check loopholes so you can't go to another state and acquire a gun, or a license to carry that would be denied in one's home state. Fully fund enforcement. Audit the gun dealerships, so you can catch the straw buyers and the unscroupulous dealers who sell to them, etc.

    3. I went back and re-read your essay.....First, "we" for the most part do not believe that, for one example, an armed society is a polite society...."We" had nothing to do with the so-called "national gun appreciation day" -- that was just a group of gun fetishists pushing a stupid idea. "We" are not yet ready to stand up to the NRA and its well financed minions, but when we are, a lot will change. So, maybe we kind of agree in that what you seem (unless I still don't get it) to be saying is let's enforce - and seriously - the NRA based safety rules, and I am saying yes to that -- and also saying that "we" need to grow some and insist on at least that.

  47. A refreshing breath of sanity, Jim. Thank you, again.

    Responsibility seems to be the major thing few people in this world are willing to take. Everyone wants their rights, but rights are not and should not be without cost. The minimal cost is taking responsibility for ones actions.

  48. You. Are. A. Genius. I would seriously never have thought of this. I am now speechless.

  49. Its a great start and a good read. I would like to see you get this word out to the greater public, however to include testing and licensing to prove that an individual is sufficiently knowledgeable and understands the laws you are proposing. You used automobiles as an example and they require testing and licensing. Yes, no need to require training if one can pass a quality standardized test without. Regards, Lonnie

  50. Most of the time I agree with you, but when you say laws won't prevent gun violence I disagree. Take the Columbine kill spree. Now think back to when you were a teenager. These kids had EASY ACCESS. I guarantee you that if you make access to lethal weaponry more difficult the incidents of gun violence will decrease. Progun people are fond of saying if they want a gun, a criminal will get a gun, you can't stop them. Think about that for a second. If that were true then it means that NO MATTER WHAT the criminal will do what it takes to commit his crime. There is no such thing as deterrence. Do you lock your car up? Do you bolt the door at night? It's true that the HARDENED criminal may not stop at anything, but there is an awful lot of crime out there that is opportunistic. A guy might cheat on his wife if he thinks there's no chance of getting caught. You might take home some office supplies, if you think no one will notice. If the crime is easy there will be more of it. If you make it difficult there will be less of it. If those Columbine kids were so determined to commit their massacre, would it have happened if they had to build their own weapons? If they had to acquire the materials and the knowledge of gun smithing. The vast majority of teenagers, even the mentally disturbed ones would not have the drive to do something like this if it meant they had to maintain concentration and dedication it would take to do this horrific crime from scratch. And that's not to mention the accidental shootings, or the repeat killings that could be prevented by CATCHING someone who is a violence prone individual. We could maybe do that if the NRA didn't oppose things like chemical markers in gunpowder making it easier for law enforcement to trace and help them catch and prosecute the criminals. Smart guns would prevent the almost daily killing of children by children who manage to put their hands on guns. The NRA through their actions has shown they want unlimited access to lethal firepower. They have fought legislation that would make it more difficult for the mentally ill, convicted felons, and people with a history of domestic violence from acquiring guns easily. Sometimes people get mad enough to kill, but if they can't lay their hands on a weapon at that moment, but had a waiting period, how likely is it that a crime would be averted. The cheating wife and her lover don't deserve to die, for their infidelity. But the angry spouse if they have to wait a day or two and think about a lifetime in prison or a death sentence, might very well just decide to take everything in a divorce action and spread the word on the cheating lover that ruins their reputation instead, but while they might face consequences, they might not be DEAD. I hate hypotheticals, it's not really a good way to prove a point, but the statistics show that there are lots of things that bring down the rates of unwanted consequences. It is groups like the NRA that insist on a perfect solution. There are no perfect solutions. Perfection is what you strive for in spite of the fact you know it is unacheivable, but if you can't attain perfection, you can at least nearly always do better.

  51. Oh, now. I think the flag going down is bigger than that.

    The thing about a square of cloth is, you can cover things with it. Make it bright and eye-catching, throw it up, yell "HERITAGE NOT HATE!" and keep yelling that when people complain. Talk a big game about state's rights, and never mind that the Confederacy wouldn't allow states to free their own slaves and demanded free states return fugitives. You've got the flag, where like-minded people can see, and if anyone talks about the likeness of the minds, well, the war's over and what are they complaining about, it's about... rebellion! Like a free spirit. Yeah. Yeah, you're trying to censor my free spirit, that's what this is about, the people who object are rich and live in better places. And you know, you still have numbers. You still have a legacy of broad-daylight injustice to black folks who everyone knew would never get justice. It's the heritage. Wave the flag. Racism is over, everyone wants to think that, so put the banner in the air and relax.

    People can hear the dog whistles around the edges of the shouts. They can see the pictures, and the little thing that all these groups that like the flag so much have in common. But you get it enough, and you get enough people willing to pull the flag over the edge of the bloodstains, and you can keep it flying. Racism is over, after all. Keep it waving around the monuments (heritage!) and in the state flag and in demonstrations outside the White House - uh, hang on.

    Guys that flag is only so big, everyone stop tugging at the edges for a minute and just yell "HERITAGE!" real loud? Thanks.

    Only then there's so many little incidents that everyone's starting to feel a little raw, and #blacklivesmatter is making everyone, you know, uncomfortable. And then someone who's been listening to the dogwhistles and absorbing the propaganda goes and actually does something so huge that it's broad daylight again, right on the flag. Only this time, there's not the silence that's always happened, and everyone going around their business. This time people are staring. And then the shouting begins, and it's louder than "heritage!" in a way that's never happened before.

    It was always deeper than treason. But now a hiding place is gone.

  52. Jim, I have wondered why the NRA didn't seem to want these safety rules turned into laws for a long time, along with a responsibility clause.

    You've pretty much hit it on the head just right.

    Dr. Phil

  53. Liked, no loved. Shared.Thanks Jim Wright. This idea makes so much sense, seems so obvious and worth trying I only wonder why this isn't already the law and hasn't been tried decades ago.

  54. A brilliant idea Jim! As you so frequently point out - we can't even have a conversation about guns in this country. Your idea would start the conversation, and may even be passed on a federal level. I am a gun owner and was raised with these rules, taught to me by the Boy Scouts under an NRA program and by my own parents. The NRA was once a good organization before they started pandering to the nuts and the profiteers. I dropped my membership years ago because of that pandering. The NRA would have a hard time justifying opposition to your suggested laws. They would try of course, but I think it would be a half-hearted effort that would eventually collapse under the absurdity of opposing their own rules.

  55. This seems an eery coincidence. I inherited a gun from my brother who was a definite enthusiast. I was never interested in guns for sport, hobby or protection. I always leaned anti-gun but more from the perspective of "Why do you need a freaking arsenal of tools designed for killing?" kind of thing. Still, I decided to keep one of the weapons as keepsake and a reminder of all our 2nd amendment debates over the years. It was also a chance to kind of walk a mile in my brothers shoes. I did/do everything you talked about. I got a permit to acquire even though it is not mandatory in my state in cases of inheritance. I wont get a permit to carry, I don't need one, I don't want one, and I'm not experienced enough with a gun to carry it on my person all the time. I got(and continue to get) training on how to use it from 2 friends who are gun enthusiasts with military experience. I read the manual so as to clean and maintain it. I kept a safe from my brothers estate for the purpose of storage. My friends take me out shooting occasionally and are constantly reminding me about safety. I know they are trying to build good habits since I never owned a gun before. I'm learning and I'm damn grateful. After all the stupid things we did and survived in high school it would be a tragedy for my ignorance to cause harm to others. Owning and operating a firearm is a big responsibility I've found. I did this over a year ago and it just seemed like common sense and civil responsibility. Your suggestion that all gun owners do this make sense to me. Your words helped validate my course of action especially when they come from a firearms expert with sound judgement. I feel like I did the right thing in the right way. Thank you

  56. Although there's lots I disagree with here, this is one of the best "we have to do something" articles I've ever seen--it is at least trying to solve a problem rather than punish people for owning guns.

    Nobody wants drunks carrying guns, and if you look at the actual records of people lawfully carrying, "drunk driver" isn't a good comparison. If more people were as lawful and nonviolent as carry license holders, the country would be a much better place. This is based on statistics of the states that keep records on convictions of license holders for all offenses.

    The blame lies with the shooter. I don't demand that the church arm itself--what I want is that the choice be left to the church and not made by the state. I'm an atheist if that matters, but I believe in freedom of religion, and that a law on guns in church is an infringement on religion. That said, spree shootings are rare where guns are allowed. The exact proportions depend on the exact definitions, but it is at least 20-1 gun free vs guns allowed in the past few decades using sensible definitions. I'm not claiming that eliminating gun free zones would eliminate 19 out of 20 spree shootings--while I'm convinced that spree shooters take it into account when choosing where to strike, I'm also convinced that the inability to find a gun free zone isn't likely to be the deciding factor. The other thing that needs to be examined fairly is that spree shooters invariably (or almost invariably) end their spree with no more unarmed victims as soon as they meet armed resistance. Doesn't matter how outgunned the good guy is, if the shooter isn't physically stopped he surrenders or suicides. I haven't found a single example showing otherwise--and I have asked for examples many times.

    I'm generally disinclined to make things mandatory, but like most of the NRA I'd certainly like to encourage people to at least know the basics of gun safety. Every adult should know the gist of Cooper's 4 rules, everyone who handles a gun should know the rules well, regardless of age. (Cooper's are a little simpler than the NRA's, but you still have to violate at least 2 of them at the same time to hurt anyone with a gun) A little bit of education in public schools and a few public service ads could have big benefits--it wouldn't surprise me if an hour a year per class could reduce gun accidents by half. This would give almost all of the benefits of the laws you propose, without more laws. I would also love to get moves and TV to at least get the good guys being good examples of gun safety.

    Holding gun owners responsible if someone gets their gun, no excuses...that basically eliminates gun rights for poor people. Safes that cannot be broken aren't affordable to the poor, and normal people don't know what safes are secure. I'm OK with holding people responsible who couldn't keep a 5 year old from getting their gun, but "people broke into my house with power tools" should be a valid excuse.

    In most states using the same standards for DUI and carrying a gun would weaken gun laws--I can legally drive home after a couple beers, if I drive drunk it is a misdemeanor. If I have a single sip at the same restaurant while carrying it is a felony.

    Also pragmatic, be willing to eliminate some other gun restriction as part of this. If you want me to give up a gun right, give me one back. There are a lot of silly restrictions that do nothing to prevent gun violence, but are a problem for legitimate owners. If I can carry a handgun in Michigan, why can't I buy one there? Why do I have fewer gun rights in other states?

  57. All that would have to happen for Jim's entirely sane and justified Gun Law to be rolled out across the nation, in a matter of months, without running foul of the 2nd amendment in any way, would be for the Congress to pass legislation, next week that guarantees a slice of X hundred million dollars of additional Federal funds to any state which passes a law which:
    a) mandates that every person who owns or carries a gun within the state is deemed to be a member of that state's well-ordered militia, and
    b) mandates that the rules OF that well-ordered state militia are the rules that Jim outlined above, including strict liability for gun owners whose guns injure other people or other people's property.

    That's all it would take and it would be worth the x hundred million dollars ten or a hundred times over. And no 2nd amendment challenge to it could fail. and no state would be able to resist the pressure to pass such a law, except maybe Texas and a few others down south, but maybe not even Texas. Who could be against responsible ownership? No one sane. BB

    1. "Who could be against responsible ownership? No one sane."
      Unfortunately, I'm not so sure. There seems to be a sizeable group of people in this country continually saying to the rest of us "You're not the boss of me!"

    2. Sorry, no 2nd amendment challenge to it could SUCCEEED. In other words all 2nd amendment challenges would fail. BB

    3. ebrke: I tend to think that being in favor of irresponsible gun ownership pretty much defines insanity. Crazy people don't like being bossed, sure. But the beauty of Jim's proposal is it isn't telling people they can't own a gun. It's telling people that if they own a gun, and that gun hurts or kills someone else, then the gun owner is going to have to answer. First time every time. And not with a slap on the wrist either: jail time and full financial compensation. That ought to appeal to the personal liberty fanatics. BB

  58. A half-century ago I was taught gun safety at a Boy Scout camp. By the NRA, or at least in accordance with their standards. I still have my certificate somewhere.

  59. Well Said Jim.

    I do disagree on several points, but would accept your idea as a start to change our culture.

    I could bring this up:
    "The Armed Citizen Project is dedicated to facilitating the arming of law abiding citizens, and analyzing the relationship between increased firearm availability and rates."
    We want to prove that more guns makes us safer.
    "We are choosing mid-high crime neighborhoods in cities across America, and offering defensive weapons to citizens that can pass a background check, and that will take our safety, legal, and tactical training."
    We will use the methods that we oppose daily to insure safety and sanity.
    "The data that we collect will be used in the completion of a policy study that will measure the deterrent effects of firearms on crime"

    So this pro-gun group is using mandatory background checks, mandatory safety, legal, and tactical training. And providing a "defensive weapon" to poor people to prove that guns are a deterrent to crime.


    1. We will use the methods that we oppose daily to insure safety and sanity

      I don't understand this line.

    2. I'm guessing that means background checks and requiring safety training, etc. In other words they oppose ANY restriction on gun ownership, but hope to prove that by arming a bunch of people who weren't armed before that crime rates might go down in a particular area.

    3. Sorry, I should have made it clear that I think this project is loony and can't prove what they set out to prove. If giving shotguns to poor people prove to reduce crime, with the restrictions they apply, it proves that gun control works. I thought it related to using NRA safety rules as federal rules. You know, irony and such.

      That sentence was my interjection. Making the point that most of the pro-gun side of gun control opposes background checks and mandatory training. Yet this pro-gun group requires it.

      As an experiment, they need a control group. They need to choose another poor area. Then hand out semi-auto pistols and rifles randomly, No questioning about mental health or criminal background. Then leave some pistols so kids can find them. Then compare the guns deaths between the two areas.

  60. This has to be the most reasonable starting point I have heard probably ever. Just an sincere question. What if someone breaks into my house, am I allowed to use my gun to protect myself and my family without being charged/convicted of a felony?

    1. In general, of course. What I propose doesn't change the right to defend yourself at all. Wouldn't be much point in owning a gun if it did. There are days, particularly when I receive death threats from gun nuts for something I wrote - such as this article - where I carry my 1911, because I'm not certain one of these raging nuts who send me hatemail won't track me down and take a shot at me.

      But, more specifically, it depends on the situation, just as it does right now. You can't just murder somebody and expect to get away with it - even if they do break into your house. On the other hand, somebody breaks into your house and you reasonably expect them to do your or yours harm, well, that's what the gun is for.

      Again, what I'm talking about here is personal responsibility with a firearm. It's one thing to shoot an intruder who any reasonable person would believe to be a threat, it's another thing entirely to get in your car and drive around the neighborhood looking for a confrontation.

    2. What you're talking about here is the Reasonable Man defense, which is often used by deliberating juries. They ask themselves, "In a similar situation, would I, as a reasonable man [or woman], do what this person did?" It makes perfect sense to me. Somewhere I read, once, that under any logical code of law, anyone who commits, or attempts to commit, a felony is bought and paid for; whatever happens to him is on his own head. After all, it's highly unlikely that anyone put a gun to *his* head and told him to go out and Whatever. (Remember that case of the fellow with the bomb around his neck? Yes, I'll bet you do--and why? Precisely because it was so strange and astonishing!) People *choose* to commit violent acts. They shouldn't be surprised (and neither should anyone charged with enforcing the law) if, having made that choice, they run up against someone who chooses to try to stop them, and is equipped to do so.

  61. You must find it a real burden being right so often.

  62. We need to turn this into a petition, now.

  63. I like this article and it makes sense But any gun owners I have ran across tells me, "what good is a gun if it's locked up or unloaded?" I don't know but what good is it if your child is dead or shoots someone else? So many other countries have banned and things greatly improved. Why can't we just do that?

    1. To ban guns we would have to amend the constitution, ie eliminate or change the 2nd amendment. That would require a consensus of public opinion that simply does not exist. See my post above (june 27 10:31) about how it is entirely possible to enact Federal legislation that will have the effect of addressing the insanity of our current gun culture while remaining within 2nd amendment constraints. BB

  64. I can't disagree that making people legally responsible for their gun use and ownership is a step in the right direction and your proposal to make the NRA rules federal law is certainly clever, it still isn't enough. People should not be allowed to carry a killing weapon with the stealth of a handgun in a civilized country. Period. I know the horse is out of the barn but if you'd outlaw public gun carry you'd reduce the number of deaths and set the tone for what is acceptable in our country. I'm afraid your own experience and culture with guns have blurred your normally very good insight to what is right for this country. At least you have a reasonable first step and I'd be in favor of making any owner of a gun used in a crime responsible criminally for the act no matter the circumstances of how the criminal obtained it. Thanks for your usual thoughtful musings even if I don't think you go far enough.

  65. This is a bit off-topic, Jim; if you boot it, I won't be offended in the least.

    I own firearms. I have since I was 12, nearly five decades ago.

    I like to eat moose elk and deer, and used to frequent places where bears were a bit higher on the food chain than I am, and felt a need for a bit of parity. I fly to remote places in small airplanes and there might come a day when a shotgun will serve me better than a cell phone app. It shoots emergency flares. I carry duck loads and slugs, which might stop a bear intent on murder, but I wouldn't count on it. I really doubt if that will ever happen anyway. I also have a pistol worn in my safety vest I wear when flying, because I can hop out of the plane without having to retrieve anything, say during a ditching. Fire starter, water treatment, PLB, strobe and a space blanket can also be found in those pockets; probably overkill.

    I don't really need it at the grocery store; despite all the whacks running around, I think I can manage safely, and I've found that most grocery stores, post offices and Costcos are bear-free. Statistics back me up on that score. I do not keep my pistol by my bed despite the fact that the local gendarmes recently arrested a vanload of miscreants at a meth lab less than a mile from said bed. Recently, there has been a string of break-ins quite near, including my neighbor's house. I keep the doors locked at night, and I am sure my fearsome Scotty, who stands five feet tall at the shoulder, will fend them off while I call for backup.
    While I sometimes fantasize otherwise, there is virtually no chance that I'll mistake my drunken brother-in-law who wants a shoulder to cry on at 2:00AM for a marauding imbecile and shoot him, despite the fact that he resembles that description.

    The guns stay in a safe, and that is where they remain unless I'm going somewhere where I'll need one of them. I DO NOT need them in my mostly-civilized corner of America, DO NOT need them to reinforce my opinions and I am NOT afraid of my government, despite the stupid things they sometimes do. I am not worried about the very, very slight chance someone will try to do me harm. I don't want to hide under my bed and quake at the thought, nor do I somehow think I have the ability to spring into action and rain down a hail of gunfire to save the day if it does. Fat chance; life is not a movie and I am not Chuck Norris (although I did beat him up once and made him wear that stupid cowboy hat).

    Running around in fear and relying on a deadly tool to protect me from mayhem is absurd. It's not that bad! I think I'll be fine!

    Once, long ago, a friend and I were tossing around some ideas. Both of us are firearm owners and hunters. It's an experiment, not intended as an argument for or against gun ownership and is not applicable to those who don't own guns. Ask yourself a hypothetical question: If it would save a single life, any life, would you give up one of your guns? Some of them? All of them?
    Think carefully - your answer is about your humanity and how you weigh that against your possessions and opinions and fears - rational or otherwise. How do you value life?

    I don't routinely get hate mail directed at me, and as far as I know, have no enemies. For my situation, I would have to answer "yes".

    1. I think you and I would get along just fine, Anonymous. That's almost exactly how I see it.

      Thanks for comment. // Jim

  66. Read your very fine article. Very well put Love it. Can't argue with it. When I was 15 my mother, a quiet and seemingly non-opinionated military wife, enrolled me in a Jr NRA class that taught us to shoot 22 bolt action rifles at an indoor 50 ft range. I didn't understand why she did that but I learned the rules of gun safety and greatly appreciated them. One day an assistant went down range to remove the targets and a weenie teenaged boy played cowboy and was waving his weapon around. The man in charge rushed right in, took his weapon away, and physically threw the clown out the front door while yelling at him about his blatant disregard for the rules and how he could never come back because he could've killed someone. That set a definite tone for me. Never wanted to shoot anything more than a paper target anyway. I don't (and never want to) own a gun. Can't see any need for it in my own life.

  67. Jim, thank you for the rational thoughts.

    Now we just need to get our congress and senate to pass the laws.

  68. Excellent. Your recommendations are the only intelligent, workable ideas I've seen as a beginning solution to the deaths and injuries by firearms each year (day?). I believe that the President should see this, and it's up to those of us who read StoneKettle Station to make him and others aware that someone has finally proposed something to start solving the problem, rather than just arguing and hand-wringing. With your permission, I'd like to send a link for this essay to whitehouse.gov.

    My Dad taught me to shoot when I was ten years old (many, many moons ago). He was a member of the NRA then, but he would be aghast at what it has become. I still remember the first rule of firearm use: ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE GUN IS UNLOADED. That's in caps because I failed to do so once, and that's the way he said it; in verbal caps. I never forgot again.
    Malvena White

  69. What is so ironic is that I was taught how to shoot using NRA gun safety rule book. I gave up my NRA membership decades ago when the gun manufacturing lobby took over.

  70. What puzzles me no end is the "GV Factor" (gun violence) in American culture. With all the guns in private possession and on the streets in Israel, from hand guns to combat rifles, gun violence here is a fraction of what it is in the US. I'm not sure, but I think there is a romanticism around guns in the US that makes plain talk and pragmatic thought and action very difficult.

    From what I've read, a very large part of gun violence in Alaska is self-directed; that is, suicide, rather than homicide. Could that be because guns are more of a means there than an end in themselves? I've never lived in Alaska, but I have lived and worked in Los Angeles. To many young men there owning a gun is a sign of manhood, a sign of adulthood. The gun is its own raison d'etre, in the country as well as the inner city.

    Just some random musings on my part. I'm fascinated by the almost mythic significance of guns in American culture and I'd love to understand it.

    1. Dear Knot: I'm not sure where you live, but as a historian and writer, I think I may be able to answer your implied question. The US has a "special relationship" with guns because (1) we had to fight a revolution in order to become a country (no other nation did this; many have had revolutions, as did France, but they were simply trying to change a regime); (2) we had a Wild Frontier (so did Australia and Canada and much of Latin America, but not in the same way); (3) we had many large, dangerous animals to cope with (most such creatures had been eliminated from Europe by the time settlement of the New World began--when, for example, do you find the last reference to wolves or bears in England?); (4) we had to cope with hostile natives (barbarians, too, were extinct in Europe by the time the New World was being settled; Canada never had a problem with its Indians, because its leaders treated them decently; the Spanish, in Latin America, pretty much cowed them; and the Australian aborigines were chiefly on the desert, where Europeans didn't want to go).

      All these factors required that we have guns. And then, of course, there were the four French wars, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, all of which were fought, overwhelmingly, by those militias they talk about in the Second Amendment.

      Guns are as much a part of our national history, self-image, and psyche as Washington crossing the Delaware, and they're just about as likely to go away.

    2. I would beg to defer with you on your assertion that America had a unique set of large, wild animals & natives. Canada has exactly the same set & yet their viewpoint on guns is entirely different. A case in point ought to be Alaska, where their viewpoint is American gun culture on steriods!

  71. Gun violence is not who we are, as we are made in the image of God, but at birth we are remade in the depraved image of the NRA in America, and are expected to accept that the right to guns trumps the right to life.

    The South continues to fight the lost cause with guns, and even though as in slavery victory will go to the side of God, as the South will again be defeated, but there will be many casualties on both sides from guns in America.

  72. One of the most profound and sensible pieces I have ever read. It's makes too much sense for this to work and our elected officials run with this. It just makes too much sense!

  73. It takes good gun violence to stop bad gun violence.

    That's the theory of the NRA, and I assume anyone who profits from weapons.

    It takes good gun regulations to stop bad gun rights.

    That's the theory of those who don't profit from weapons, and are just concerned about saving lives.

    It's hard to disprove the NRA's theory, because no matter how many people have guns, it only takes one person without a gun to be the weak link in the "good guy with gun" chain, and the NRA will blame that person for not stopping a bad guy with a gun.

    It seems to go against the trend of civilization and the rule of law to have the NRA's gun-rule of law in America, because you would have to have a gun every moment of the day, loaded and ready, as otherwise the NRA would blame you if you were a victim of violence.

    You would think that people wouldn't want to live like that, but they have to live like that, because of the NRA's 2nd Amendment right to make money from guns in America.

  74. Jim, you must be the most intelligent being on the face of the Earth. If aliens ever visit us, I hope you (or the closest thing we can get to you) is there to greet them.

  75. Jim, I'm not a gun fan or user at all. That being said, I'd be a lot more comfortable with the volume of weaponry held by citizens if your view of firearms was more widely held. Basic common sense is pretty important and your suggestions seem to move the discussion in that direction.

  76. I can understand most of your recommendations and agree with them. (It's a pity more people don't know that the NRA has these. It seems that every time we have a massacre, the left-wingers start hollering about "the gun nuts.") The one that bothers me is: "Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons." This usually means (1) locked up, (2) unloaded, with (3) the ammo somewhere else.

    The trouble is, many people keep a gun precisely so they will be able to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their property (a basic human right, *I* think) in case someone breaks into their homes. In such a case, you don't have time to unlock your gun safe, search for your ammo, and load your weapon. You want to be able to get hold of your gun NOW and shoot that intruder NOW, before he can shoot you or one of your loved ones. If you're not going to be able to do that, why (unless you're exclusively a hunter or a competition shooter) own a gun at all?


    And, just on the side: Do you think these massacres would have happened back before all the mental hospitals were emptied out in the 1970's? I don't. At least nowhere near so many of them. (Observe this excellent graph: http://www.globalresearch.ca/mass-shootings-in-america-a-historical-review/5355990.) Medication is all well and good, but a great many mentally ill people either don't buy it, forget to take it, or refuse to take it (chiefly because it all has nasty side-effects).

    1. People want guns with just the NRA's common sense gun safety rules, but they don't want to be made responsible with laws, and that puts innocent people at risk from guns in America.

      The NRA likes to play Santa Claus with guns, but they give the gifts that keep on killing innocent people, so we have to seriously consider giving up 2nd Amendment Christmas in America.

      Guns are ironic outside of war, because in war the stage is set for violence, but the NRA sets the stage for violence in America with guns.

      The NRA invites Americans to take comfort in all the guns that don't harm innocent people, but to have all the guns that don't harm innocent people, you have to have the guns that do harm innocent people.

      People aren't supposed to have lethal weapons outside of war, so it's not the fault of society that people want guns more strictly regulated, even though that makes guns ironic, because they're made to be loaded and ready for action, as in war.

      People want to live in a civilized society, but lethal weapons are not conducive to that, and you can't make them.

      Guns have always harmed people, but they've become increasingly lethal with improvements, and you can more easily and effectively kill people.

      It may be a blessing for war that weapons are increasingly lethal, but it's not a blessing in America, and weapons are only ever a blessing for those who profit from them.

      There's no reason to have so many guns in America, as there could easily be a law that allowed a handgun for self-defense without the NRA and 2nd Amendment, because that's just a license to make money from guns without any other consideration, and that's why daily innocent people are killed and wounded with guns in America.

    2. When it comes to institutionalizing mentally ill people, it is still possible to involuntarily confine people who pose a direct harm to themselves and others. Simply locking up mentally ill people like the good old days will not only lock up the wrong people, but people who should be confined won't be when the state of the science is held back by your philosophy.

  77. Not even time to run another post on another subject, and we're already back to bang bang insanity, all over again.

  78. Safe storage is a good idea. But not every good idea should be law. And, for that matter, safe storage is a matter of circumstance. I have a small child regularly in the house; so I place my handgun in a safe when it is not in my personal possession. But when I didn't, I often left it in an unlocked closet; because the only people in the house who could access that closet would not find the safe to be anything but an inconvenience.

    And the safe I have is not cheap, either. There is a tradeoff between security and usability, and safety and convenience. An unloaded firearm is an inconvenient cudgel, and one locked in a safe isn't even that.

  79. I have a question about the guy who flew a drone with a gun mounted on it. (I bet I'm not the only one!) Even if it happened in an open carry state, I would think mounting a gun on a drone and flying it in public airspace outside of your physical reach would have to violate some provision of the rules about open carry, I guess depending on how the legislature, I mean the lobbyist, wrote the actual law. I think the comparison would be like leaving it on the hood of your car while you walked away out of reach.

  80. Hello Jim, i don't have an informed opinion or critique of your proposal, not an American but have some related questions/suggestions (if you aren't already doing it).

    Would it be possible to get a major Police Department to take a serious look at what you suggest?

    What about academics who advise Law enforcement, can they be approached to give an opinion?

    Does anyone who has read this know a long serving police officer, can he/she be asked for an opinion?

    I am generally absolutely fascinated by your country, it's people, it's scenery and history. I really hope your proposal will gain traction. Sincere Respects.

  81. In an "open carry state", whether such behavior violates any rules about open carry might depend more on whether such rules exist, instead of how they're written. For example, I'm in an open carry state - Colorado. The statutes in my state are silent on open carry. That term is not defined, manners of carry (holster, handbag, drone) are not mandated or prohibited, etc. Open carry is "legal" because there are no state statutes prohibiting it.

    Here in Colorado, it would be perfectly legal for me to attach a pistol to a quadcopter and fly it around my back yard shooting at targets. It would also be legal for me to leave a firearm on the hood of my car in a grocery store parking lot while I did my shopping. This isn't because some legislator or lobbyist carefully crafted such exceptions - it's because such "open carry" and/or firearm storage laws simply don't exist here.

    Well, except for the City and County of Denver. Don't open carry there.

    Now, if someone is harmed or property is damaged due to my action or negligence, I would (and likely should) be held liable. Depending on the circumstances (place, people involved, whether permission is granted, etc.), there's also the risk of being charged with recklessly permitting a juvenile to access a handgun (CRS 18-12-108.7).

  82. In the USA... With about 120 million households (US Census Bureau) and about 1.3 million residential burglaries (FBI UCR 2013), the odds are roughly 1 in 100 that someone will break into your home in any given year. On average, you have about a 10% chance of being the victim of a home burglary at least once in any 10-year period.

    Whether the intruder enters with intent to do injury to the occupants is unknown. It's also largely irrelevant; once they've committed the unlawful entry with the intent to commit any crime, it must be presumed that they're willing to harm the occupants. Why would anyone assume that the intruder intends to limit his crimes to unlawful entry and theft, and will definitely flee if he discovers the home is occupied?

  83. This was supposed be in reply to Steve McGady's post above... "I have a question about the guy who flew a drone with a gun mounted on it."

  84. And now again! I guess it's getting to the point where if you are a certain sort of person in America, and things aren't going your way, you just go shoot a bunch of strangers to make yourself feel better. Or something.

  85. Romanticism. I saw this variations on this word pop up a few times in the comment feed and I've been mulling it over. Setting aside the individuals behind the shootings such as Sandy Creek, the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, Emanuel AME, and the Lafayette theater and so on, we arrive back at the "gun nuts", the ammosexuals, the one's screaming that they want their arsenals because they want to be armed and dangerous if the government, or a thug or the crash of society etc comes after them.
    They have romanticized guns. They may even practice gun safety and weapons training. (Or they may not.) A lot of them have never fired a gun at a living target in their lives.
    Most of them if they ever got that first shot off without freezing up, if they didn't actually miss, would spend the next few minutes puking their guts up in horror.
    Its as though most of them, whatever their age, have never evolved beyond a teenager's perspective - totally unable to make the leap from if "I shoot someone, the gun will go bang and they will fall down", just like in the movies, to "If I shoot someone, they will be dead and I will have taken a human life, in blood and stink and pain, and orphaned children possibly and broken relatives hearts."
    And a huge amount of these people are the ones who are careless with their guns. Who do stupid stuff. Who do not check to be sure it's unloaded. Who assume its unloaded, and therefore *act* like its unloaded. Who have never smelled blood, and only deal with meat in a frozen package from the grocery store. Who would turn green if they had to shoot an animal.
    Our ancestors saw guns as tools. In a world absent of electric refrigeration, and the meat market in the superstore, they took their guns and went and got food for their family, aside from any domestic food animals. Maybe they lived in an area where danger was consistent with needing a gun as a tool for protection. But a gun was not a romantic fantasy. It was a tool. You cleaned it. You kept it safely away from children and family members. You practiced with it. And when you shot it, the deer, or the bear, the bird or the rabbit went down in a gout of blood and stink, and you had to dress it out in a nasty smelly procedure to keep it from going bad so you could get it back to your family. So when the thought of shooting a human being arose, there was a grim reality to it...experience elsewhere informed them of the reality of pulling the trigger.
    Maybe using the NRA guidelines as a governing law and regulation would help with this. I think its very smart, and maybe be the one set of regulations that might actually get passed.
    It calls the NRA's bluff, that's for sure..."We absolutely oppose any regulation of guns...wait...what? Um...our own rules??? *CHOKE*" God, that's brilliant!
    The heinous mass shootings and deaths - one is one too goddamned many. We have too many. Its sickening.
    But the the "accidents" out number the deliberate murders by hundreds. If the NRA regulations enforced as law simply cut most of the accidents out, we'd be ahead of the game.
    I don't know how to get the romanticism out of the gun culture. I don't know how to slam reality home to people who simply have no clue.
    But maybe the idea of the NRA guidelines as regulations might, maybe, just might, slow them up enough that some deaths and injuries would stop. And that sure would be worth it.
    Thanks, I've rambled here. If anything concerns you in my post, let me know or don't post it. You've just given me a lot of food for thought, is all.

  86. Guns are symbolic for good and evil, and that's why the NRA promotes guns as a way to play the good guy with a gun.

    We played the good guy with a gun as a child, but we are admonished to put away childish things.

    The good guy with a gun is epitomized by Shane who tried to live up to the creed of the tool (gun) as only as good or as bad as the person using it, but at the end he didn't think you could do anything good with a weapon, as he tried to tell Joey not to romanticize him, but Joey in his innocence wanted to see him as a good guy with a gun (knight in shining armor), and we wonder if he ever understood what Shane was trying to have him understand (there is no good guy with a gun.)

    There are only people who promote weapons to make money, because weapons don't know anything about good and bad guys, but just do what they're made for in killing people, and only God can sort them out.

  87. Jim - this is the most pragmatic suggestion I've seen on the subject - thank you for being a sane voice.

  88. Do you think a Swiss style system could help America? Guns might become more of a chore and civic duty and less of a male enlargement.

  89. Great Writing Jim. Culture will always be the deciding outcome of most matters frankly.

    You didn't go far enough with the pragmatism, I don't think. When we look at the demographics of firearm related violence, We the People aren't addressing causality of old white dudes committing suicide or young black men killing one another. These things are (sadly so) a drastic portion of reported cases. Basic safety laws as you present them for a cultural shift in thought process is spot on however, thank you for writing this.

  90. This is one of the best articles on guns I've ever read. Jim's ideas are excellent, common-sense and practical. I would, however add a couple of suggestions:
    1. ANYONE carrying a loaded gun in public must have either a permit or authorization to do so; no exceptions.
    2. Liability insurance for all weapons. NO EXCEPTIONS.
    3. All weapons must have documentation regarding where they were purchased, sold etc. All sales MUST be documented. Same for ammunition (as an alternative, concentrate on ammunition sales).
    4. Muzzle control: if a person deliberately points a weapon at a person or persons without cause, that's a Federal felony. If they point a weapon at on duty law enforcement or military personnel, that's a severe Federal felony.

    BTW Here's an article at Addictinginfo.com of an armed vet denouncing the whole "Good guys with guns" argument: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/10/02/armed-vet-at-scene-of-oregon-shooting-eviscerates-good-guy-with-a-gun-argument-video/

  91. Jim, I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and the daughter of a friend of mine missed being in that building by 30 minutes.

    I agree with all of your points, save for the last. I do think that mandatory instruction is a reasonable requirement at the State level, as well as yearly requalification testing. We had to requal once a year when I was in the service ( this was back in the 80's and I was mobility qualified so mileage probably differed) , and our Sheriff's deputies have to requal 4 times a year here in our county. I see no reason not to require every citizen to keep a Civic Duty to remain proficient and to demonstrate that proficiency on every firearm he or she owns.

    I also think that the state legislatures can move faster than the Congressional Clown Car these days so they should immediately implement Statues as these you've listed. Let the Feds catch up.

  92. Amazing article Jim. This could really be the long term solution for our gun violence problem. This is the most sensible solution I've heard of. I would also like to add that anyone who is prohibited from owning firearms should have that restriction on the back of their ID / Drivers License so that a private seller could be reasonably satisfied that the buyer is allowed to own a firearm.

    1. That's a fairly common suggestion over on the pro-gun side, actually; putting some kind of "prohibited person" indicator on gov-issued ID. It's not a perfect solution, but it sidesteps a couple of issues with opening up NICS to private individuals

    2. I have actually heard this, and several of us expanded on the idea. It would seem logical to structure the system where anyone can call in and give a SSN (or "long form" your data if ssn is not given), and the system could state a few things. Driver license status, firearm ownership eligibility, convicted felon (or not).. these things would be useful in many ways - for potential employers, for the existing gun dealers to use instead of the thing they have, heck the chick down the street could check me out before a date.. most of these things are public info anyway, just add the firearm status. Simple. If the data is entered, it does its job.

    3. Big identity "theft" issue. If you have to give a private party enough information to be able to identify /you with any degree of certainty, they can use that info to impersonate you. Better for the government ID to note whether you are a prohibited person or not; that doesn't leak your identifying information.

    4. Ian Argent,
      I understand your concern, and note that it is wholly valid. We should also consider that our identity is obtainable through many means, therefor "long form" data or some other identifier is going to be needed in the event private parties are required to "check" purchasers (i.e. gun shows). That said, with so many things being public info anyway, I personally am not opposed to giving enough info to ID me for a purchase. I guess we could all sign up on instantcheckmate lol ... anyway the idea of having this status on my DL wouldnt bother me either. In my home state, many private sellers ask for your CCW before they will buy from or sell to an individual. It does spawn the thought of sending prospective buyers through the CCW system, and using that...

    5. I have a nasty suspicious mind - I can think of a couple of ways that unscrupulous individuals could use "private" background checks to harvest data for identity theft if data collection is left to the individual. Much better to put it as a flag on government ID.

  93. If we want a real solution to the gun violence problem on this country, we need to be on the reality side. We already have the restrictions on the back of a DL, normally it's used for something like "Corrective Lenses Required" but it could easily be used for "Firearms Restriction". Also if a judge adjudicates someone, handles a domestic violence case, etc. The person's license can be confiscated right there while in custody, to be replaced with one with a firearms restriction. This may or may not be a permanent restriction depending on the violation / condition of the person.

  94. I have a question Mr Wright; have you ever had a negligent discharge?

    Andy Colglazier

    1. Well, there you go. There is a saying. "There are two types of shooters - those who have had a negligent discharge, and those who WILL have a negligent discharge."

      I'm a competitive shooter, hunter, and I carry concealed almost every day. I attempt to follow the basic rules of safety, as I handle firearms every day.

      Over the course of my 40+ years with firearms, I've had 3 negligent discharges. I define an ND as firing a weapon without having planned to do so.

      I've seen many, many very accomplished shooters have negligent discharges, in training and in competition. Because they were following at least one of the four rules of firearm safety, no one was hurt.

      Here's my point; if you handle firearms long enough and often enough, you WILL sooner or later have an ND, especially if you train and compete. And still, as you should know, competitive shooting is an extremely safe sport.

      Your suggestion, to criminally penalize all negligent discharges of a firearm, would destroy competitive shooting and in fact most sports involving firearms.

      It would be a HUGE impediment to training with a firearm and in fact firearms ownership, because the chance of criminal prosecution would simply be too great.

      Your desire for zero tolerance for negligence with guns is simply too draconian. Imagine if it were applied to driving, or any other activity where risk is Inherent.

      I have no issue with assigning liability and criminal sanction where it is warranted, and in fact our laws already do this. If I understand your proposals correctly (educate me if I'm wrong) you go well beyond that and would impose sanction where no injury has occurred.

      As far as punishment for someone who transfers a firearm to a bad actor, I would require ill intent. Misrepresentation of legal status in order to obtain a weapon should reasonably be a complete defense to legal action in such cases.

      Andy Colglazier

    2. So, Andy, your argument is ... what? You're not a real gun owner until you have a negligent discharge?

      I call shenanigans.

      I've had two unintended discharges, one a weapons malfunction, one a cookoff during sustained autofire. And I've been witness to more by shooters under my authority on my range. None were negligent, because I and my shooters adhere to strict rules of safe weapons handling. Which is the entire point of this essay.

      Now, yes indeed I'm arguing terminology, but there's a difference between an inadvertent or unintended discharge, which is what you're talking about, and a negligent one.

      But terminology is important.

      Negligence with a firearm should be a crime. That's the entire point. There are NO accidents with guns. Period. Draconian? You bet. You're handling a killing machine, the rules damned well should be draconian.

      Andy, I've gotten dozens of messages from people like you. You guys, you always tip your hat to "responsibility" but when it comes to actually putting your money where your mouth is, well, it's always some excuse. You bring up cars, driving a car. Cars have safety systems - but when we talk about safety systems for guns, guys like you start screaming about totalitarianism and the Second Amendment and how you've got to be ready, man, ready. We make people pass a test to drive a car, but when we talk about requiring the same type of basic training, licensing, insurance, and registration for guns, people like you start screaming. We have general nationwide rules and systems for safe auto operations, from keys that only let authorized users start the vehicle to guard rails on the roads to seat belts to speed limits to places where you can't drive to endless studies by accredited national agencies and civilian institutions specifically designed to improve safety. But when we talk about similar systems and standards and studies for guns, people like you start screaming. You want to compare guns to cars? I'm all for it, let's do it.

      "...you go well beyond that and would impose sanction where no injury has occurred." Indeed I would, just exactly like we impose sanctions for drunk driving or negligent driving or reckless endangerment even though no injury has occurred ... yet.

      There are no accidents with guns. You get out of the car, your piece falls out of your shitty discount holster, and because you've got a cheap revolver without modern safety systems and because you're Roger Ramjet Always Ready For Action you've got the hammer on a live round instead of an empty chamber, the weapon hits the ground and discharges. That's negligence. Bad carry, unsafe equipment, poor training, bad attitude. You're endangering yourself. You're endangering the public. It's negligence with a killing machine, whether anybody gets hurt or not. According to you, we should just let that idiot pick up his piece, drop in another round, and put it back in his shitty holster and go on about his business until he actually does hurt somebody. He learns nothing. He's not held to account. He has no incentive to be responsible. You do something similar with a car, you get a ticket. You get enough tickets, you lose your license. You? You'd just say, what? Oh well, shit happens. So that you, you, don't have to be inconvenienced.

      I'm not proposing zero tolerance. I'm proposing that we as a society stop tolerating slobbering idiots who think a gun is an extension of their dick, I'm suggesting that we stop tolerating the slaughter of our kids with a shrug and a "shit happens" from our elected leaders, I'm suggesting that we stop tolerating negligence with guns and start holding people strictly accountable to at least the same degree we do with cars.

    3. There's a difference between a "negligent discharge" that occurred because the takedown procedure for your weapon includes pulling the trigger, but the round went into the bucket of sand next to your workbench; vs the round went through the row of houses because you weren't pointing it in a safe direction. Both are the result of carelessness, but one was literally harmless, and one wasn't.

      Compare to drinking. The guy who gets behind the wheel loaded to the gills should be punished. The guy who is sitting in his car waiting for the cab to come by because the bar closed, not so much.

      I often (rhetorically) compare drunken driving to misuse of a firearm, because the stakes are equivalent (and so is the damage).

    4. Yes, the difference between the first example and the second is that the first dies not break all four of the firearm safety rules, while the second breaks at least two.

  95. "I'm suggesting that we stop tolerating negligence with guns and start holding people strictly accountable to at least the same degree we do with cars."

    No, I don't think so.

    I don't know anyone who has driven very long who hasn't had an accident of some type. Most are not serious, yet result at least in property damage. Yet while car accidents are quite common and kill and injure more people every year than guns, criminal charges based on negligence are rare.

    You continually say "There are no accidents with guns". But whether you want to call it "accidental discharge" or "negligent discharge" as is currently vogue, they do happen. And despite your wiggle on the issue, it's still negligent whether it's "intended" or not.

    Your language indicates your support for strict liability. I think you need to apply a bit more thought to both your proposed theory as well as your rhetoric, which both come across as absolutist.

    I suggest that human beings do have lapses of judgment, large and small. But we often learn from them. It's how we become better people. Better drivers. Better shooters and gun owners.

    Just a thought.

  96. I would like to be clear, however. I'm not defending unsafe behavior with firearms. I'm suggesting a more judicious approach.

    I know people who have had negligent discharges in their homes but because they were following at least one of the 4 rules, no one was injured. Such, in my opinion, is not something which warrants criminal sanction.

    Fire off a round in public, though, and it's a different story.

  97. "Indeed I would, just exactly like we impose sanctions for drunk driving or negligent driving or reckless endangerment even though no injury has occurred ... yet."

    And these things - carrying while drunk, negligent brandishing, shooting in the air, etc, are already criminally punished. Most states make failure to properly secure guns (especially from children ) illegal, and providing guns to prohibited persons is also against the law.

    So, what, concretely, are you proposing? How do you see your rules being applied?

  98. So um. I thought this idea was a really, really good idea. So I wrote my District Rep. suggesting it. I also put up this petition:


    Apologies for citing you, but when I posted this link, it was the only time I have ever got the libertarians and the progressives and the conservatives on my stream to agree about _anything_. So, maybe it will never happen, but I think it's worth trying.

    (incidentally, while there are some laws which sniff around the edges of what you propose, there are no such federal laws, and most liability laws are more civil statutes, where only civil consequences can be applied.)

    Thank you for your time, and for your post.

  99. "There’s no reason why any gun owner should be oppose this idea. There is no reason why the NRA should oppose this. There is no reason why gun manufactures should oppose this. The rules are ones they all claim to follow now. The only difference is they will be legally responsible for it."

    The first three sentences are very true, and the last sentence of this quote is exactly why none of them would support it.

  100. As a hardcore left wing West coast Canadian who lived in metro Detroit for 5 of the last 6 years, I gotta say this sounds fantastic.

    It's also well written and coherent, which is not a hallmark of either the far left or far right on this issue. It is such a practical solution for an America so awash in firearms that I think it's the most realistic solution that could actually bear fruit.

    I'm stunned to say it, but in this specific context I now believe that the reach of the NRA should be expanded to a federal level. Wow. That feels really weird to say, but it's true.

  101. Hi, Jim. For grammar correction - the first sentence of the last full paragraph - take out "be", then all the sentences will match. :-)

    I like to read this every so often, especially when I recommend it on a FB thread, and found this one.

  102. This was, ironically, linked to, from a post on another blog, talking about an incident in Michigan - twit cleaned his gun, presumably safely, then reloaded it, and sat it on the bed, while his wife went to check on something. She came back, laid down, somehow on the gun, which went off, then died down stairs, from the gun shot, while going to a phone maybe? To the car, to try to get to the hospital? Its a bit unclear, but.. he wasn't arrested, or charged, even for negligent homicide. Why? I mean, I suppose, technically, there is no "rule" from the NRA that says, "If you reload your gun, after cleaning it, make sure the damn thing is placed somewhere safe, and the safety put back on.", or something? I mean, I would sort of think it kind of fit in with the whole theme, right? Then again, their rules are not the law, so... And, it was an "accident" - just like, as someone else put it, not setting your parking break, and having your car roll backwards, over your wife, on a hill (which you **would** be charged for, oddly enough). But, it was a gun, not a car, or badly constructed roof, or.. well, any other damn unsafe thing, which "accidentally" killed someone, when you knew damn well it wasn't safe, and might cause them injury or death. Guns are "special" like that....

    1. He damn well should have been charged under existing laws about negligent homicide and thrown in jail for a really long time. I don't see why you're after blaming the NRA for a failure of the local DA's office.

      And I say that as a fervent supporter of the loosest interpretations of the Second Amendment.

  103. I can't add anything except my agreement with so many others who've already posted. I am accused of being a "Liberal", perhaps as much because nobody ever accused me of being a "Conservative", although I prefer to consider myself a thinking citizen, which I hope leads to my being viewed mostly as a Contrarian. Anyway, I only began shooting about 12 months ago, at the age of 54. I have held various berries about guns and ownership thereof over the years, but a series of local experiences/events caused me to lose some sleep over the years leading to my initial purchase of a firearm. I now own 2 rifles and I no longer lose sleep worrying about someone coming into the house while my family and I are asleep. (Looked for a group called "The Liberal Rifle Association" but, amazingly, I couldn't find one.).

    Anyway, as so many others have already said, your commentary is surely the most rational, i.e. the best, i have seen written anywhere. I say "written" because much of it echoes what was shared with me some 30+ years ago by a friend in our local running club, a now-retired police investigator. I have begun trying to share what you wrote in the same way as I have shared his perspectives. I hope that it will lead to more rational thinking, discussion, and appropriate action.

    Whatever the case, kudos to you and thanks so much for your having written this.

  104. Jim, just an anonymous voice among the masses. I like your solution. It meets the "well regulated militia" preamble of the 2nd amendment and doesn't stop anyone from owning a gun, provided they stay in keeping with that state purpose, "a well regulated militia". Owning and using a gun is a very serious business and it's long past time in this country our gun culture reflected it. My NRA membership has long since lapsed though my gun skills were taught by some very patient NRA trained rangemasters. I can't provide monetary support to crazy. I'm sending the detailed pieces of your post to my representatives in Congress because I couldn't say it better than you. No doubt will get a form letter saying "thanks for your support". Thank you, hope you don't mind the plagiarism.

  105. I couldn't agree more. I still have my NRA Hunter Safety Certificate - which I earned at age 12, over 45 years ago. Make these rules the law. Hold people accountable. Forward this article to your Congressional Reps and Senators.
    Bravo, Jim!

  106. If you took all the gun laws currently on the books (county, state, federal, city) and made a pile it would be VERY TALL. I'm betting that over 80% of them are rewrites and reworded copies of the old ones. If we want usable laws on the books, those laws shouldn't take make up more than a 50-75 page book. They should be concise, clear and cover the broad spectrum of abuses we as a country want to be able to prosecute.

    Am I making any sense here? Is this even possible? N.R.A. & NY State Rifle & Pistol Life Member.

  107. Jim, I cannot convey how much I appreciate your very thoughtful article. I am rather anti-gun myself, but you appear to have found magical common ground in the debate. This is so very important to having a productive conversation and working towards solutions that both protect rights and promote greater safety.


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