Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Clinging to Gun Control Lies and NRA Religion

Political schizophrenia is in the air. The latest delusion in the great national epidemic of magical thinking is that normal American people don't want gun control. That's the excuse being bandied about as to why gun control will not be an issue in the presidential campaign. The candidates and the media are all spreading the news that we crazy gun-clingers are falling more and more in love with our weapons of mass destruction every single year.

There's one problem with this story-line. It's a big fat lie. Most polls show no such thing.

Media Matters notes that corporate pundits have seized upon the results of a Gallup poll revealing that there's been a 30 percentage-point decrease in the past decade of those wanting stricter gun controls. But that poll is an outlier. Other surveys reveal that more than 60 percent of us still favor renewal of the assault weapon ban. Among the findings:

  • 86 percent support requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, no matter where they purchase the weapon or from whom they buy it. (January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis poll)

  • 63 percent favor a ban on high capacity magazines or clips (January 2011 CBS News Poll)

  • 69 percent support "limiting the number of guns a person could purchase in a given time frame." (April 2012 Ipsos/Reuters poll)

  • 66 percent support requiring gun owners to register their firearms as part of a national gun registry. (January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis)

  • 88 percent support banning those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns. (January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis poll)
    A quick review by Media Matters of the weekend news showed virtually all the talking heads, from Fox News reactionary to MSNBC "liberal" used the same propaganda, the same official pronouncement: the Aurora Massacre will not change the debate. Since people have lost interest, the politicians are just following the will of the people. Pure, unadulterated bunk. These craven cowards, these pawns of the National Rifle Association, can't run away from this issue fast enough, and they're getting their usual help from the stenographers of the press. It is mandatory that we be made to believe that we're the nutjobs if we keep up our quixotic harping on gun control, and unpragmatically whining about something we can't do anything about. 

  • Along with the propaganda that we don't really want gun control is another myth unquestioningly being spread throughout corporate media land to get us to shut up: that Obama's election prospects will be damaged if he takes on the NRA. From today's New York Times:

  • Both candidates have supported gun control in the past, but their views shifted as Americans have backed away from stricter gun laws, and both men have felt a political sting from earlier positions.
    Mr. Obama’s remark in 2008 that rural voters “cling to guns or religion” wreaked political damage on him four years ago, exposing him to charges of elitism.
    Of course, the candidates are also taking their cue to back off from their wealthy backers, who for the most part are insulated from gun battles by their bubbles of security guards and gated communities. According to an article in The Hill,
    And the president, by all accounts, isn’t feeling pressure from supporters — including campaign donors — to move on the gun issue, either....Obama donors interviewed on Monday say gun control hasn’t become an issue in their circles. “I don’t expect to hear a peep out of it,” one top donor said, even in the face of some more liberal critics.
    One more indication that this presidential campaign boils down to three things: money, money and money. It's the one true religion the politicians cling to.


    Karen Garcia said...

    Of course, David Brooks again misses the mark today and sez if only the rampagers among us could get psych help and anyway this is just another pretext to talk about the unrelated issue of gun control. My response:

    A person determined to cause mayhem will cause mayhem. And while there's no direct proof that gun control laws prevent mass murders, they sure as heck make it harder for a deranged person to act out his sick fantasies.

    Maybe, if it took the Aurora shooter a year instead of mere months to amass his arsenal, someone might have picked up on those "signals" he may or may not have been sending out. Some government operative in our bloated homeland security spy state could surely have been alerted to some telltale internet buzz amidst all the millions of our emails that they've secretly gathered to keep us all safe and sound.

    It's naive, David, to suggest that a friend or neighbor could "force" a disturbed individual into mental health care. For starters, these people are often loners with no significant others. They can act perfectly normally. If they do confide their troubles to their peers, they tend not to be taken seriously. And where do you suppose disturbed people can even find psychiatric treatment these days? Thanks to austerity, mental health funds have been drastically cut at both the state and federal levels.

    Armchair analyses of spree killers are the real waste of time. Why not deal with the craziness that we can see right in front of us -- the insane availability of military hardware to civilians? We reserve the right to not get shot. We hereby declare the NRA Public Enemy No. 1, right on top of the terrorist watch list.

    spreadoption said...

    Karen writes, "...money, money and money. It's the one true religion the politicians cling to."

    In that TV ad about illegal drugs, the one where the mother turns a blind eye to her kids' obvious drug use, it's called, "addicted to denial." It just occurred to me: isn't this the problem with Democrats, Obama-apologists in particular? Well, let's include the Republicans, too! Don't we humans hate to face the truth, even when it's in our face? Don't we humans hate to stand up against our own abuse (whether by others or by our own hands)? Our well-being as well as our democracy and our economy are all in crisis, with no solution in sight, and we deny it all. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum.

    I've just started reading the book, "Hopeless - Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion." It confirms absolutely every issue some of us have with the guy. As one contributor suggests, he's no liberal, barely even a moderate ... he's a libertarian.

    "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

    And there will be no recovery for us as long as we insist on denying.

    Denis Neville said...

    Gun violence is a huge public health issue, yet the NRA has a stranglehold on the national discourse about gun violence.

    It's not just the politicians who cling to money.

    The NRA receives millions of dollars directly from domestic and foreign gun manufacturers and other members of the firearms industry.

    Violence Policy Center, “Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA,”

    “The mutually dependent nature of the National Rifle Association and the gun industry explains the NRA’s unwillingness to compromise on even the most limited controls over firearms or related products (such as restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines)....The NRA claims that its positions are driven solely by a concern for the interests of gun owners, never mentioning its own financial stake in protecting the profits of its gun industry patrons.”


    Dramatic changes in state laws have significantly expanded the number of people who may carry concealed, loaded handguns in public. Weak laws in many states now allow hidden guns in schools, places of worship, bars, and parks, creating dangerous new risks to the American public.


    Click on your state to learn more about its gun laws:


    Zee said...

    A “down day” after strenuous mountain hiking with family yesterday, so an opportune time to see what I’ve been missing on Sardonicky.

    @Karen and @All--

    I don’t disagree at all with the poll-based assertion that “most” Americans—including myself, a die-hard gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment—would be happy to see certain, additional, “reasonable” gun controls applied.

    The problems with that broad assertion only come to light when one gets down into the weeds of deciding what is “reasonable.” Then, I suspect that—and this is just a guess—such generalized support may decay exponentially.

    Here are a few thoughts and opinions—in three parts—about what is “reasonable” and practical from a participant in this forum who actually owns guns and shoots them regularly for various purposes.

    I support requiring that all prospective gun purchases or transfers be subject to a criminal and psychiatric background check. It's only common sense, as long as the current system for such checks applies, which precludes using the background check system as a surreptitious registration scheme.

    However, taxpayer dollars should be used to pay for the criminal/psychiatric background check and purchase/transfer paperwork, not the purchaser or transferee. Why should a prospective gun owner have to pay in order to exercise a fundamental constitutional right?

    And no mandatory “psychological testing,” either. The psychiatric background check should be limited to a search of public records for court-ordered “commitments” or “examinations.”

    I have no problem with limiting the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds. I’ll just carry more loaded magazines with me should some untoward situation arise.

    Preventing people on the “terrorist watch list” from buying guns? I'm all for it, as long as that determination can be appealed in a timely manner and at government expense if the appeal is successful. There are plenty of people on the notorious “no-fly list” simply because they have a name similar to someone else, and getting off that list is nearly impossible to do. Sorry, but secret lists with no right to a speedy appeal are simply un-American.

    Nor do I have a problem with limiting the number of guns that can be purchased within some specified time frame. But good luck coming to any agreement as to what constitutes a “reasonable number of guns” and what constitutes a “reasonable time frame.”

    Renewal of the assault weapons ban? Well, I'm indifferent on this issue. I lived with it quite well for ten years, and I can do so again. My M1 Carbines are almost as effective as AR-15s and AK47s at close quarters, and didn't even make the assault weapon ban on the first go-'round. They're classified as “curios and relics:”


    Go figure.

    Zee said...

    Reasonable and Practical Gun Laws, Part Two

    Besides, if the sale of magazines with capacities over 10 rounds or so is outlawed, then the so-called assault weapon becomes little more than an ugly hunting/plinking weapon, so why ban it anyway? That is, if it's only their high magazine capacity rather than their ugly look that makes them into the killing machines that they are alleged to be, rather than their pistol grips or bayonet lugs or flash suppressors. Personally, I think non-gun owners are simply scared of the appearance of such guns without understanding their limitations.

    Registration? Not gonna happen in this country, at least not in any effective way. I saw—as did the rest of America's gun owners—what happened during hurricane Katrina, with so-called law enforcement officials roughing up--and then confiscating weapons from—little old ladies who merely wanted to stay in their homes and protect their property.

    Imagine how wonderfully “efficient” the police could have been in finding and seizing firearms with registration lists in hand! That's what registration lists are wanted for ultimately, not preventing or solving crimes.

    So thanks to so-called law enforcement, “Remember Katrina!” will be an effective anti-gun registration battle cry for decades to come.

    I think that it’s non-controversial to assert that there are on the order of 250-300 million guns in civilian hands in this country, with at least one gun owned by 35-45% of American households, or about 80 million people. How many of these otherwise law-abiding gun owners are actually going to march down to their local police or sheriff's department and register their guns? I know I WON'T be doing so.

    So pass all the registration laws and draconian punishments for violations thereof that you want, in the wake of Katrina I'm quite certain that no more than a token number of currently-owned gun will ever be voluntarily registered, if even those.

    And God only knows how much ammunition these same gun owners already have stashed away. Trust me, the 6,000 rounds that the Aurora murderer had is nothing compared to what the dedicated firearms owner/user is likely to have stored against yet another scheme to ban ammunition sales or to tax its sale at a prohibitive rate.

    Given the huge numbers of firearms, ammunition and, yes, high-capacity magazines that are already in private hands, I think that most new gun control laws are doomed to failure for decades to come, no matter how much secret delight Progressives may take (1) in trying to drive gun ownership underground, and (2) the very thought of punishing evil gun owners to the max.

    Unless, of course, some of you out there are proposing nation-wide, door-to-door, search-and-seizure of illicit weapons. Not very constitutional—or American—I would say. And, IMHO, more than a few lives would be lost in such an effort. I thought the goal was to save lives, but perhaps the ends justify the means to achieve this noble purpose.

    Zee said...

    Reasonable and Practical Gun Laws, Part Three

    Finally, Karen, I must take exception to your generalization that

    “Of course, the candidates are also taking their cue to back off from their wealthy backers, who for the most part are insulated from gun battles by their bubbles of security guards and gated communities.”

    I think that I'm the only participant in this forum who regularly shoots in a number of venues with responsible gun owners, and who knows them well. Like me, none are “wealthy,” nor do any of them live in “gated communities,” protected from random gunfire by their private security forces. Though, of course, most of us are members of, and contribute to, the NRA.

    That's Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Teddy Kennedy, etc. Not us.

    And even Diane Feinstein used to—and probably still does, IMHO— “pack heat,” the hypocrite.


    But then, she's an important personage who needs to be able to defend her life whenever and wherever necessary, whereas I'm just a nobody who should rely on the police to protect me. More likely, rather than protecting me, the police will arrive only in time to draw a thick chalk line around my body and take a bunch of pictures, but hey, my life just isn't worth the risk to public safety that would be incurred by allowing me to protect myself, compared to the life of the illustrious Senator Feinstein.

    If you want to make generalizations about us, well, get out and meet at least a few of us. Sorta like Elena Kagan did, when she dared to go hunting with Justice Scalia.

    Karen Garcia said...

    The only plutocrat coming out for stricter gun controls whom I've heard of is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. I was quoting from The Hill article about the candidates taking their cues from their wealthy backers, for whom gun control is not high on the agenda. If the billionaire hedge fund managers were clamoring for a renewal on the assault weapon ban, you can bet that both Obama and Romney would find the wherewithal to buck the NRA.

    And you have got to be kidding about taxpayers funding background checks for gun purchasers. It should be part of a surcharge, or tax payable by those who buy the guns. Would you like to pay for my credit check when I purchase a home or take out a loan? I thought conservatives were all about "personal responsibility."

    Nobody wants to take away your precious weapons. But we non-gun owners reserve our right to not get caught in the crossfire.

    Zee said...


    “Dramatic changes in state laws have significantly expanded the number of people who may carry concealed, loaded handguns in public. Weak laws in many states now allow hidden guns in schools, places of worship, bars, and parks, creating dangerous new risks to the American public.” --@Denis Neville

    But despite the documented increases in recent years in both gun ownership and “shall issue” concealed carry permit laws—violent crime has actually been decreasing since about 1990, too.

    See the first figure in this article,


    And here are some additional hard statistics from an objective source (which the Violence Policy Center is definitely NOT) on the trends of violent crime in the US. These are the preliminary results of the 2011 FBI Uniform Crime Report, entitled “Crimes Rates Fall AGAIN [my emphasis added]--According to Preliminary Stats:”


    Check out the data in the second article, in particular; they are quite interesting. The South saw the greatest decrease in violent crime, while the Northeast saw the least decline. The Northeast also saw a notable increase in murder rate. I won't claim a cause-and-effect relationship, but both gun laws and concealed-carry laws are much more “liberal” in the South whereas they are highly restrictive to nonexistent in the Northeast.

    Moreover, and I don't have time to document this, it is my understanding that only a tiny fraction of concealed carry permit holders ever use their firearms to commit criminal acts of violence.

    I think that it is very hard to make an honest statistical case that either (1) increases in gun ownership in general, or (2) a proliferation of new concealed carry laws in particular, have contributed to the creation of “dangerous new risks to the American public.”

    Zee said...


    No, I'm not kidding.

    We Conservatives ARE all about personal responsibility. But one should no more have to pay added fees for the constitutional right to own a gun than one should have to pay a fee in order to exercise one's constitutional right to free speech.

    You may WANT to buy your house on credit but it's not your CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to do so. It's a PRIVILEGE granted to you by the credit company subject to THEIR conditions. So you get to pay for your OWN credit check.

    Now, I'm not saying that you Progressives won't be successful in forcing the purchaser/transferee to pay the freight to exercise a constitutional right.

    But let's call it what it is:
    just another Progressive "sneak attack," seeking to make gun ownership impossibly costly for Joe Sixpack.

    Just as are schemes to tax ammunition outrageously, or to "microstamp" ammunition, thereby making the constitutional right of gun ownership impossibly costly, and, hence, obsolete.

    Progressives claim to be all for the "little guy," but when it comes to gun ownership, well, THAT right should be reserved for the well-off and rich who can pay the tariff, I guess.

    Fred Drumlevitch said...

    I'd like to thank Zee for his long, well-reasoned comments from his perspective as firearm owner and shooter. I have considerable empathy for his position --- and in fact felt that way long prior to the current tragedy in Colorado and the predictable outcry broadly demonizing firearms and their owners. Why do I feel that way, despite being well to the left of the current political center, and not personally "packing heat"? Here are some of the more prominent reasons:

    1) A fellow student I knew was murdered decades ago by a notorious California serial killer. Would she have lived had she been armed? Perhaps not; in a crisis situation that frequently transpires quite fast, most people don't have the presence of mind, the training, or the time to successfully defend themselves. Nevertheless, who am I to say that anyone shouldn't have an instrument that might allow them to do so?

    2) I am in a western state, the people of which generally have a different mindset from those in the east; plus ancestrally, one side of my family came from rural origins. One uncle as a teenager sometimes actually carried a firearm on a long walk to school, in case the opportunity arose to bag some small game for the family dinner table. No one was the least bit worried that he might wreak havoc at the school.

    3) While all of my grandparents left the "old country" prior to WWI (and thus were not themselves directly endangered by 20th century fascism), many of their close relatives remained, and perished at the hands of the Nazis. Would a highly-armed populace have prevented that, or the millions of other deaths at the hands of many other totalitarian regimes? Again, who knows, but it should be noted that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, undoubtedly better acquainted with totalitarianism than any of us on this blog are, suggested in one of his books that the Soviet KGB could not have functioned as it did had it been met by a fusillade of gunfire when it grabbed citizens in the middle of the night.

    4) As we've discussed previously at Sardonicky, much of gun control has historically been an instrument to perpetuate racial and ethnic oppression. It is well-established that in the U.S., at least some gun control was motivated by a desire among some whites to prevent blacks from defending themselves against racist violence. Though I'm not familiar with the specifics, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Native Americans and Orientals were similarly prevented from defending themselves.

    5) Pragmatically, serious gun control in the United States is a lose-lose proposition for the political party that pushes it. One would hope that the Democrats have learned that lesson. If not, Democratic attempts at gun control will ironically actually result in many more deaths --- because it will increase the power of the Republicans, who are itching to cut food stamps, Medicaid, and countless other social programs.

    Fred Drumlevitch said...

    part 2:

    It not only doesn't bother me in the least that people like Zee exercise their second amendment rights, I'll go further and say that we may all be better off because of it --- in the same way that even those who don't get vaccinated benefit from the "herd immunity" phenomenon if sufficient others do. Having said that, we might also benefit from certain changes that Zee mentioned, for instance the search of psychiatric commitment records prior to a firearms sale, and a reduction of firearm magazine capacity --- but I'd like to see any magazine capacity reduction also applied to law enforcement, who have for decades been engaged in a militarization that I believe is dangerous to ordinary citizens, both by means of increasing the potential for fascism as well as independent of it --- revisit my comment at Sardonicky April 7 and the many links I provided regarding the case of the Tucsonan murdered by the county sheriff SWAT team during a raid:


    While we're at it, shouldn't cops undergo rigorous rather than sham psychiatric testing, plus ongoing continuous monitoring, to determine whether they are fit to carry weapons? YouTube is brimming with documentary videos that show active law enforcement officers engaged in clear abuses of power and sometimes even outright sadism.

    Recalling the recent discussion that brought up how many of the commenters on this blog are taking statin medications, let's face it, most of us are far more endangered by cholesterol than by any maniac with firearms. So let's not allow the suppression of civil liberties that was inspired by an exaggeration of international terrorism dangers be exacerbated by fear of armed lone nut jobs.