How to Shoot a Gun

A visit to Bud’s Gun Shop in Lexington, Ky., and to the shooting range offers some perspective on the appeal of guns.

Comments: 248

  1. “I think children need to be better educated about guns,” she said, “so they’ll understand better what a gun can do.”

    Um... No. They need to be better educated, period. Then, if they're better educated enough, they'll know enough not to want them.

  2. Although I am in favor of restrictions on guns, your statement illustrates a bias that those who are pro-gun rights are uneducated and/or stupid, which is not true.

  3. Guns in the hands of people are like nuclear weapons in the arsenal of countries. It may be "the great equalizer," but at what cost?

    After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at least the world realized the danger of nuclear weapons and has tried to control its proliferation to some extent.

    How many more Newtowns and Columbines and everyday shooting deaths would it take before sanity prevails in the U.S.?

  4. Your comparison is absurd on it's face, but I'll still ask you if you think the pacific war should have ended in some other way? Perhaps with a million or more additional allied soldiers dying invading the Japanese islands? And the acknowledged even greater potential loss of life on the Japanese side due to prolonging the horror of WWII?

  5. We're all on a "slippery slope". We have too many people who worry about the mental state of others when they should be taking a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror and asking the reflection: "Why am I so (fill in the blank with your favorite expletive) ignorant"?

  6. I think the people worried about a nightmare nation in which they need guns to protect themselves or to take on others, including the government, are making the very problem they fear more likely to occur -- sort of like a macrocosm of the phenomenon noted in the column that having a gun in the house makes harm from it more likely than harm from an intruder. Maybe in both cases the gun owners have more of a comfort level with violence and a violent society than they care to admit or maybe even realize.

  7. If you are correct, Diana, there is a word that describes the condition of gun addicts. It is paranoia. It would indicate that guns are not only a mental health problem because people are killed by guns, but also because the people you speak of are themselves disturbed.

  8. I wonder how many of those customers were combat veterans?
    Take a 300 Weatherbey magnum to the range and see just how many want to shoot it.
    As for a hand gun get a 45 Colt single action and see how accurate you can shoot with it, you know the old western six shooter that those movie cowboys were so good with.

    This patriot mentality thing is getting out of hand. I suspect none of the them belong to a shooting club where they compete for marksmanship. As for you Joe, if you actually went to a range and tried shooting for accuracy like competitive shooters do, you might get a different view.

    These people are trying to say that restricting certain guns is taking away their Second Amendment right to keep and own arms. Nothing in the amendment says what kind of arms they can own, or prevents the law from restricting the kind of arms. It is assumed it means firearms, but does not explicitly say so. So the courts have allowed the ownership of firearms, but certain ones are restricted, or take a license and special tax to own.

    Try and by a 155 howitzer and ammunition, or even an old WWII bazooka. See if you can keep and bear a BAR, now there is a real assault rifle.

    Protect your right to keep and arm bears.

  9. I think that the rules of large cannon ownership are that you can own and shoot any size as long as it was designed and built before 1896 (not sure of date) and is a muzzle loader. Finding a place to shoot, and the expense of buying the gunpowder to fire an 8 inch Parrot gun from Civil War days might be an obstacle.

  10. @Swannie

    I took an NRA course many years ago, and still have the instructors permits. I taught hunter safety for California Fish and Game, that was 40 years ago. I do not remember reading about the rules for cannons, but i do recall there are black powder muzzle loading competitions.

    The second amendment wold allow you to have muzzle loading flitlocks.

    I did know someone who had a Thompson machine gun, he had to get a special license and pay a tax. As I recall it was legal to have an automatic rifle in Arizona at the time, but you still had to have the federal permit and pay the tax.

    About that time Remington came out with the 742 semi auto rifle in several cartridges. You could get it with a 18" barrel which was ideal for hunting in the western Sierra Foothills in the oaks and maples. Some were still using the M2 Tanker model for the same reason. .

    I also know someone who has two 16" projectiles and twp 12" ones, disarmed and empty of course. He collects bullets.

  11. David:

    One day while I was living in Shirley Ave. in Carmichael around 30 years ago, I was conversing with w neighbor when a guy from around the corner drove up and announced that he had been up in the mountains somewhere and shot a bear.

    I immediately felt sick at heart. The guy reminded me of B.O. Plenty from the old Dick Tracy comic books. A beautiful beast had given up its life for no reason other than to boost the ego of silly dunce.

  12. Gun safety guidelines and regulation and abortion rights are major debates with two sides to each story in our country. The way for our leadership to manage each of these conundrums is to say: "let's ask the adult question what regulations or national guidelines can we come up with that have something in it for everybody?

    Guns, rifles and ammunition are inherently dangerous so we need national guidelines for the safe use, storage, and handling of these devices just as we have for lawnmowers and dynamite.

    In the case of abortion, each side has to recognize that a couple may have had no intention to fertilize an egg or the woman may have no capability to carry a pregnancy for nine months to term. If born, the teenage mom or an overburdened caregiver herself may have no way of caring for an un-planned new infant. The woman, as a unique class of host, has rights.

    The fault lies with advocates who line up on one side and ignore the other side of the story. A corollary argument is that there may not be equal merit to, or symmetry between, each side of the argument.

    Our thinkers and legislators have to be the leaders here, and grade- scores by the anti-this or -that have to be made emptyless.

  13. I always thought that sport shooting meant putting bullets through a series of concentric circles, commonly known as a bullseye. However, for too long, sport shooters have deviated from the correct exercise of their second amendment rights, so use of the "bright green human silouette," the age old symbol of human tyranny, as a gallery target, marks an important and overdue, acknowledgement of our Founding Father's original intent.

  14. Rima,

    I find your comment very offensive. I am a highly educated, very successful, liberal minded person who owns multiple firearms. The act of shooting, to me, is a hobby which like other hobbies happens to have an element of danger (i.e., amature car racing, sky divers, scubba divers, etc.). The comment "I think children need to be better educated about guns" could not be any closer to the truth. If my child chooses to or finds themselves in a situation necessary to fire a firearm, I hope and pray that they know how to in a safe and effective manner.

    The fact that you equate the need for a better education to knowing to not to want a gun does nothing but show your lack of ability to develop a rational, educated thought about this subject.

  15. David,

    The fever pitch and level of discourse when it comes to gun control is totally disconnected from what is normal and acceptable: hunting and sport. Neither one requires a semi-automatic or assault weapon.

    After 26 babies were slaughtered, the NRA's response was basically "we need more guns!"

    I was shocked to find out on the Ed Show on MSNBC that there are states, Utah being one, where not only do teachers have the right to wear a concealed weapon in the classroom, but the parents are not notified. They don't have the right to know or the choice to make other arrangements for their children.

    I find it offensive that guns are foisted on those who don't want any part of them.

  16. Semiautomatics are appropriate to certain sports.

    A 20 ga semiautomatic shotgun is ideal for women and teens to shoot skeet or bird hunt. The semiautomatic function dampens recoil.

    A semiautomatic handgun is necessary to many shooting sports, from the special .32 wadcutter handguns of high end competition to the .45 ACP used in large bore competition. The majority of .22 lr target handguns are automatics.

    I am old fashioned, and prefer revolvers and side by side double barreled shotguns, but my preference makes me all the more aware of the real advantages for others in the semiautomatic choice -- it is not for me, but important to much sporting use.

    I have helped teach a firearms safety course. I teach my own kids. I think proper supervision and careful instruction are important. Lack of it causes accidents and foolishness.

    There is much room for improvement in our laws, to meet in the middle. The extremism of BOTH ends is a big part of the problem preventing better laws.

  17. In what kind of world does a parent even contemplate a scenario where their "child chooses to or finds themselves in a situation necessary to fire a firearm"??? Sierra Leone, Burundi, Sudan, perhaps. But the United States?

    That, to me, is not a "rational, educated thought".

    It does, though, underline the root issue: America has become so immune to the insanity of having 300 million loosely-regulated guns rattling around within its borders that the idea of teaching a child to use a firearm for self-defense seems normal.

    And that is the slippery slope that should terrify us all.

  18. The key concept is empowerment . Shoot a big caliber gun and you'll feel the power, too. It's intoxicating: for a few moments all the fear goes away; nothing in the world can resist your power, nothing can hurt you. Men feel more virile, women... feel safer. The power is right there in their hands--they say money is power but that experience is not available to most people; gun power is available to almost anyone. Empowerment, escape from the fears of everyday life, the fantasy of control over one's destiny, that's what the gun lobby is selling and that's why it's going to be so difficult to enact any law, let alone enforce it, that is perceived as limiting or taking away that power. Perceived, that is, by people who operate on an emotional basis rather than an intellectual one.
    Don't believe it? Remember that if you are reading these words you belong to a rather small subgroup of the population, one that reads in order to access new ideas that can be analyzed and used to make decisions about future actions. The majority of the population does not operate that way--they receive messages from trusted sources (a spiritual leader or radio talk show host, for instance) and use that information to direct their actions. These emotional actors are the ones from whose cold dead hands their power-gun will have to be pried. And the trusted sources have a vested interest, usually financial, in maintaining their control over gun-power.

  19. Remember, too, that people feel less and less empowered these days. Owning a gun is like a magic talisman against the "elites" or the "bad guys" pushing you around.

    As the Beatles noted - happiness is a warm gun. At least, it is until the bullet goes somewhere that you did not want it to go.

  20. All true, but watch the ads for trucks and SUVs on TV, and you'll see the appeal is the same: freedom and power, personal and deep-down, to charge through the woods and to the tops of mountains, to take 180-degree turns at sped whenever necessary (or desired), to accelerate at unbelievable speed to unsafe levels on city streets. All fantasy, of course -- and safely restricted by common-sense laws agreed to by all, or at least a large enough majority to restrict most (not all) yahoos driving drunk at speed and killing themselves and others. Freedom-loving rural Americans hated seat-belt laws for years, even lap belts. Now they buckle up, they drive cars with government-mandated safety features, and don't feel their manhood has been compromised. Same could go for guns.

  21. It is true there is a certain thrill to firing a gun. I'm the only non-gun owner in my family, and have fired both handguns and rifles.
    And my husband and I have discussed if we should get, perhaps a shotgun. However, we do live in an area where break-ins are not uncommon, and neither one of us is willing to shoot someone with a gun. We don't hunt. We're not competitive shooters. That only leaves shooting another person as the reason to have a gun. And nobody needs the assault weapons or ammo whose only design/purpose is to kill people. Hunting? Fine. Competition? Fine. Killing people? Police and ACTIVE military only. Ex-military should return weapons upon discharge from service.

  22. We can't get a driver's license without class and written test and demonstrating competence on the road to an inspector. We can't get a hunting license without a two day class and test. We can't carry a firearm without a class and background check and permit, and gun lovers are very proud of their permits, they enjoy getting them.

    Buying guns and ammunition deserves the same standard as driving or hunting or carrying. Those who want a gun would enjoy the class and pass the test. This is not an unreasonable imposition. Then they can show the permit to make their purchases, and it would actually be more convenient, as well as safer.

    Good instructors spending significant time with applicants could spot and head off at least some trouble, just as they do in classes for driving, hunting, and concealed carry. They could follow up on medical proofs offered, too.

    More people with background training would provide more informed people to observe those who have guns and shouldn't.

    This may not be the stand alone solution for everything, but it would help. It would be fun for shooters, and could be sold to them. It is doable. Why not?

  23. I think that guns should be treated like cars.

    Register all guns and keep a complete database easily accessible by law enforcement.

    Require gun owners to get a licence which requires tests both written and practical with different tests for different kinds of guns.

    Require gun owners to carry liability insurance.

    Subject gun owners to a myriad of rules as to how they may operate the guns such as making it illegal to operate a gun while under the influence of alcohol.

    Require regular inspections of guns.

    Regulate what type of guns are legal and where various types can be used.

    Have a special group of police whose duty is to see that gun operators obey the rules.

  24. Mark- I think your solution is on the money, so long as anti-gun proponents don't use this as a back door to attempt to over-run the second amendment.

    The unfortunate thing is that those who want to own fire arms don't believe that those who would regulate them are acting in good faith. Many of the comments on this op-ed demonstrate why.

  25. why does anyone in the general population need a concealed weapon-

  26. 'In 2003, there were 30,136 firearm-related deaths in the United States; 16,907 (56%) suicides, 11,920 (40%) homicides (including 347 deaths due to legal intervention/war), and 962 (3%) undetermined/unintentional firearm deaths.

    CDC/National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports 1999-2003

    The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that in its economic counterparts in other parts of the world.

    Kellermann AL and Waeckerle JF. Preventing Firearm Injuries. Ann Emerg Med July 1998; 32:77-79.

    The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children younger than 15 years of age is nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1997;46:101-105.

    The United States has the highest rate of youth homicides and suicides among the 26 wealthiest nations.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Rates of homicide, suicide, and firearm-related death among children: 26 industrialized countries.
    MMWR. 1997;46:101-105.

    Krug EG, Dahlberg LL, Powell KE. Childhood homicide, suicide, and firearm deaths: an international comparison. World Health Stat Q. 1996;49:230-235.'

  27. The US also has the drug war, which is the root cause of nearly all the statistical violence you're posting.

  28. The Founders were intelligent men who rebelled against an unjust form of government, and brought forth a new nation, conceived in liberty. I am certain they would never have believed their constitution would have led to this mayhem.
    I'm also sure that their efforts to create the Republic (not a Democracy) were partly contrived to control the tyranny of the rabble, as demonstrated by these uncivilized extreme gun fanatics.

  29. "I am certain they would never have believed their constitution would have led to this mayhem."

    I'm sure George Washington could have: didn't he have to put down the Whiskey Rebellion during his presidency? For that matter, isn't Washington's prompt and forceful suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion the very nightmare of federal tyranny that the current extremist anti-gun-regulation crowd keeps bellowing about?

    Alas, it's too much to hope that the self-proclaimed patriots threatening insurrection if any new gun-control legislation passes will ever understand that one of their sainted Founding Fathers wasn't exactly on their side.

  30. The extreme gun-rights advocates believe their guns are necessary so that when the government comes for them, they will be ready, which is difficult to argue against when one looks at countries China and North Korea.

    The Second Amendment refers to a "well-armed militia"; it says nothing about private gun ownership.

    The Newtown murderer did not have any record (that I have heard of) of mental illness; he had a neurological disability. We only know he was mentally ill because of his actions.

    Although I am strongly in favor of restrictions on assault weapons, no lawful amount of mental-health scrutiny will stop most mass murders. There is that pesky Fourth Amendment, which prohibits incarcerating a person who has not shown substantial evidence he will harm themself or others. And by the time society knows that a person is mentally deranged and violent, it is usually too late.

    Kind of like locking the barn door after the horse is gone.

  31. Whatever any citizen may think, the second amendment gives individuals the right to own arms, as interpreted by the SCOTUS. Full stop. Any legislative effort to limit or confiscate handguns will fail, or result in large pockets of active resistance or civil rebellion. The gun mindset and culture is basic to a great deal of the USA - it is not a minority compared to the Tea Party by an earlier post.
    Guns manufacturing and sales are also a big business and people are not going to give up their livelihood without a strong fight.
    I think that politicians should develop a smart campaign of actively affirming gun rights and putting together coalitions to ban high-capacity killing machines so that gun owners do not feel threatened about a 'slippery slope'.

  32. The point that Johnny misses is that handguns, rifles and ammunition are inherently dangerous, last a long time, and move about in unknown and uncontrolled ways. There is an inventory of 300 million of them in America and this in itself is an enormous safety management task.

    The adult question is: "What kinds of safety guidelines can we come up with where there is something in it for everyone?" These guidelines would be for everything -- handguns, rifles, ammunition, clips and magazines.

    What is interesting is that that the NRA sponsors safety and use training and publishes a lot of stuff. It could be a useful resource for creating national safety guidlines for the the safe handling, use and both sale and resale of these weapons, bullets, and accessories.

  33. The main shooter in the Columbine massacre was well known to the authorities for mental health and violence problems but they did nothing about it. See the excellent book Columbine.

    The man who shot Representative Giffords, and the one who shot up Virginia Tech, were both mental health patients. especially Guns.

  34. Since the people here are oncerned with studies about guns and crime, I understand that an academic, peer-reviewed, long-term study of the effect of various public policies on public, multiple shootings in all 50 states over a 20-year period performed by renowned economists at the University of Chicago and Yale, William Landes and John Lott.

    What they found was pretty simple: the major - no, the ONLY - thing a state could do to limit public multiple shootings was for the state to allow people - who qualified - to request and get certified to carry a concealed weapon.

    The only people who would want guns for self-protection are3 those who have people and things in ther home that they do not want to lose to criminal behavior or otherwise want to be left alone. While I am sure that our anti-gun responders above all live within 45 seconds of a police station, out here in the real world we only have a limited number of policemen and sheriff's officers.

    I was glad to see Joe mention the phrase ''blue in the face'' since he was in the epicenter of Blue Mist Nation, Lexington, Ky., where all our outdoor temple poles have basketball goals on them at the 10-foot level. I hope Joe sampled some barbeque, with or sans the bourbon. And maybe a Ky Hot Brown.

    A concealed carry law: sorry folks, but it's the only thing that will dramatically help things. A million Floridians cannot be wrong, since they voted Democrat, too this time.

  35. Lott's "more guns, less crime" thesis has been widely criticized by numerous scholars of leading institutions -- notably Ian Ayers of Yale. One study -- especially if it is flawed, as many say it was -- does not make the thesis true.

  36. On the other hand, Joe, criticism by scholars does not equal the results of just one serious academic study, with opposing results.


    The beginning of the article which has refernces:

    "In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, one man has represented the pro-gun argument in the media perhaps more than anyone else: John Lott. Lott, an economist who first lent credence to the argument that the answer to gun violence is more guns, was a major presence in the gun control debate of the past two decades, before being sidelined by controversy. So his reappearance on TV news programs in the wake of the shooting is surprising.

    Here’s what critics say about him. Lott held prestigious positions at Yale and the University of Chicago, where he published his groundbreaking book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” In the early 2000s, his work fell into controversy for employing what some academic critics termed “junk science” and for various apparently fatal methodological flaws. Later, he was unable to prove the existence of a study central to his thesis. He was also caught using a fake “sockpuppet” persona to defend his work and attack his critics online. “In most circles, this goes down as fraud,” Donald Kennedy, the then-editor of the prestigious journal Science wrote in an editorial. Even Michelle Malkin said Lott had shown an “extensive willingness to deceive to protect and promote his work.”"

  38. It's hard to believe that people can be so stupid. Or misinformed.

    The government protects our rights, it doesn't threaten them. Our institutions are functioning properly; there's nothing to be afraid of--except "regular" people with guns.

    Seems to me that what we need is better education about what our rights and liberties are, how they developed, and all the good they actually do for us. Leaving it up to Fox News and friends is not a good idea. It's a just a load of nonsense designed to get ratings at any cost: lives, peace, sanity...all the good things that we get from knowing a hawk from a handsaw.

    The press is free, and that's a good idea. But someone has to be responsible for putting correct, reasonable information out there. Having our own version of the BBC would be a fantastic benefit for the whole country. Sure, that organization has its shortcomings, but at least it ensures that reason has a chance in the public sphere. In the media over here, it's just one group of nuts going at another--leaving no room to keep us sane (or safe) and sound.

    If knowledge is power, the government--our legally-elected government--has to make sure that its case is heard. Without a reasonable, powerful, public-spirited voice in the public arena, decent, honest, gullible citizens have no one to turn to in difficult times like these--except the deranged voices blasting from a thousand outlets.

    We can pay for a sane voice, or we can pay a terrible price.

  39. "The government protects our rights, it doesn't threaten them."

    Please read sections 1021and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act related to indefinite detention and then make that statement. Our government, or at least a part of it, is not functioning properly when laws such as this are allowed by the people.

    The "government" does not protect anything. The "government" is us, and we either protect our own rights and liberties or we take them away from ourselves.

    Indefinite detention is anathema to our republic, our Constitution, and to an ethical society.

  40. Your view of government as protector of rights alone is misguided. The government protects some rights while attempting to destroy other rights, depending on who is in power at the time. It is a political machine that is restrained from arrogating all power to itself by the constitution and the bill of rights. In some cases the restraints have not held well, and liberty has suffered as a result. In other cases and at other times, government has acted to expand liberty, which is always a good thing.

    The founders understood that a government with unlimited powers would eventually dominate it's people and become exactly the tyranny that they just freed themselves from, through violent revolution, after all peaceful measures had been taken and failed. Their legacy is a system of government that is held back from certain powers it would love to have, but a free society cannot allow a government to have. The founders well understood this and that is why we have the bill of rights, and in particular the 1st and 2nd entries therein. It is also why we are the envy of the entire world.

  41. Why do gun lovers hate America? The United States of America is the same thing as the U.S. Government, elected by the citizens, yet gun lovers think they need to be armed to protect themselves from the government. This is anarchical and treasonous. Gun lovers need to be educated on what the definition of democracy is, and why why we live in one.

  42. Now that whatever VP Joe Biden recommends and offers to the President and the President offers to Congress on this critical matter for the safety of our country lets all just take a moment to take stock of what Joe Nocera did and what he experienced on a single visit to a modern firing range. He needs to catch his breath and start from scratch on his final analysis. One visit, Joe, will not do more than shock you since you have never had the opportunity my generation had for eight to ten weeks of Basic Training and more comprehensive training later.

    For the many millions of my generation born in the thirties and later who experienced without a concern military service training in many weapons without flinching or considering the experience extraordinary, the current outcry is over the top and frankly disconcerting. Fire arms safety is a given to those who served in the military and to police and government agencies such as the FBI and Secret Service.

    That a newspaper in New York State saw fit to jeopardize the safety, not alone the privacy, and personal freedom of people who owned legal weapons authorized by the state has now brought the discussion to a new level. Hysteria has begun to bubble to the surface and the atmosphere has become charged.

    I have not encountered a single individual who has not condemned the Newtown wanton massacre. Those who have weapons, and those of us who understand them are all in favor of safety. The question remains, who calls the shots.

  43. Sure people condemn the latest massacre but don't want anything to change. Why do you need any of these guns- if you want to shoot at things, go to a shooting range , hire a gun and shoot targets for an hour- just like hitting golf balls. Why do you need many many guns and with high power and bullet capacity. Why are there so many lunatics out there who use their supposed fear of the government( of which there are many in the USA) as a reason to have an arsenal at home.
    Someone tell me where this fascination and need comes from
    I think a month or two in the firing line in Afganisatn might change a few peoples' minds about guns and fear and violence.. So many soldiers have come back not only with physical injuries but mental injuries.

  44. People do indeed have rights. The first and foremost right is to not be gunned down. The extraordinary lethality of modern assault-type weapons, and their ready availability, enables lunatics with a passion for killing as many humans as they can.

    No, this isn't a slippery slope. It's a mature judgement that availability of assault weapons and high capacity magazines is out of control, threatens the public, and they should not be available to the public. No rational official is talking about confiscating weapons, or denying pistols with 10 round magazines for home defense, or denying shotguns for hunting, or denying standard hunting rifles for hunting.

    Also, if heavy duty trigger locks had been on all weapons stored in homes, a large number of school shooting by students would not have occurred.

    When I've got serious pain, I'd like to be able to go the pharmacy and buy a dozen or so Demerol. It's not readily available to the public because it can easily cause addiction and widespread harm. Access to potassium cyanide is heavily restricted because it, too, can be used to cause deadly harm. And access to dynamite is heavily restricted because it, too, can cause widespread harm. This is the same case with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

    And if a parent leaves a chemical unsecured and a child gets into it and dies, criminal charges are brought against the parent - and should also be if a parent fails to use trigger locks.

  45. I agree Liam. But gun owners who are worried about self defense are afraid trigger locks will hamper them in an emergency. That's why we have to offer them biometric trigger locks. Childproof guns if you will.
    Please go to my facebook page and sign my "' petiton to introduce smart guns into the national discussion about gun safety.

  46. I am struck by the use of a human silhouette, bright green or otherwise, as the favorite target of people shooting "for sport". Why that particular target shape, it seems there is an unconscious desire, if not to kill, to dominate other human beings. How can this, in any case be pure unadulterated sport. Do so-called deer hunters shoot at deer silhouettes? Bird hunters seem to practice on skeet or trap, and maybe the pure target enthusiasts do sporting clays. Shooting at human silhouettes seems appropriate for law enforcement officers, because they are expected to use there weapons for just that purpose, for anybody else to say that they do it just for sport seems disingenuous to me. Isn't there some deep down expectation to someday be able to shoot at a real human being?

  47. Firing at a standard human silhouette target is required to qualify for a concealed handgun permit in Texas. You practice with what you're going to have to fire on, and qualify on. Same is true of many states that require demonstrated proficiency to get a CHL (e.g. you have to qualify just like a cop does, only less often, whereas they qualify yearly you have to qualify every half decade).

    If he was there to learn 50 foot NRA Pistol Competition shooting he would have also had to fire the .38 Caliber revolver and he would never have been handed the civilian knockoff of the Kriss Vector PDW. Then he would have been firing at a standard black bullseye target. And probably missing it and getting frustrated.

    Ask a cop if he qualifies on a black bull target or a silhouette target, and I'm sure what the answer will be. Fortunately no one has to be worried about being attacked by a target shaped disc, but a human shaped opponent is an entirely different matter, so you practice with any given weapon on the target you intend that weapon to engage. e.g. my competition pistols are NOT the same weapons I use for concealed carry. Nor are the targets I use them on the same... Get the picture?? Like other sports there are both variations and differences in "rules" for any given competition. It's NOT just loading up and blasting the landscape like some liberals seem to have been indoctrinated to think.

  48. Did someone say anything about these targets being a "favorite"? Methinks you bring your own prejudices with you.

    Human silhouette targets are used for defensive shooting practice, just as the familiar "bullseye" target is used for that type of practice. There are many varieties of target types available at all target ranges - some with a specific purpose, such as the vague human shape of an FBI "Q" target, others comically depicting colerful zombies on a rampage. All are made of paper and have very little significance except as a focal point for the challenge of accuracy and skill.

    For what educational value it may provide" in the ranges I have used, actual photos or pictures of real people are not allowed.

    You imply that people using common human silhouette (defensive) targets have a desire to actually kill another human being. If you really think this, you should ask yourself how you cam to this. Was it by reading about shooting sport, or training, or did you simply absorb a bias from years of exposure to anti-gun propaganda?

    Do what Joe did. Go find a friend who shoots and go to a range with them. Learn something from actual experience.

  49. In WWII the military switched to human profile targets because soldiers were not shooting at people in battle after being trained on round targets.

  50. Feel free to amend or repeal the Second Amendment. And feel free to amend or repeal the Forth Amendment. Or amend or repeal any other Amendment. There is a legal process for doing so. It's right there in the Constitution.

    There is no need to try and circumvent the law of the land by emotionally disregarding the specific wording of the Bill of Rights, and legally enshrining double-speak into our way of life. Ah yes, let the government confiscate guns away from law abiding citizens, because the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    The greatest war in our history was fought because slavery was allowed in the land of the free. At the end of that terrible struggle what sane person did not wish it to be our last war? We can continue to live as free citizens, with all the risks that entails; or we may choose to live in a giant padded room, or worse.

    The government is not our friend. The government is not our enemy. Until we surrender our rights, the government is merely our servant.

  51. The above commentary strikes me as a rather confused posting. To take the last paragraph first, the concept in our nation is that the government is the subject to the citizens, not the other way around. The rights granted under the Constitution are intended to keep the balance in that direction and to ensure freedom of the individual and the society as a whole.

    No one is talking about confiscating guns. If someone collected a million guns a year, we would still not run out of guns for the next 100 to 200 years, even assuming that no more were made.

    The goal is to find a means of reducing random violence, both as it impacts children in schools and citizens at large. Everyone recognizes that violence is part of human behavior and cannot be eliminated. Everyone recognizes that there are risks in everything we do, but we try to reduce those risks as much as possible. That's why we have speed laws, seat belt laws and require that cars be built to certain safety standards. No one suggests that having laws in regard to cars takes away the right to freedom of movement. We now tolerate enormous intrusion into that right, which is basic to a free society, at our airports every day. Most people don't seem to mind.

    Is the gun a scared object? Is it to be worshiped?

    We have to both imagine and believe in a better, more peaceful and cooperative society to also believe that guns are not necessary, day by day, to maintain order. Seeking that society helps to create it.

  52. The confusion is not mine, Doug Terry. Our rights were not "granted" in any sense of the word. They were fought for, and bled for, and died for, by citizens with firearms.

    I do not pretend to be the Supreme Court, which has ruled that the Second Amendment means we do indeed have the right to self-defense. Nor an ayatollah, who might preach knowledge of what is absolutely right.

    If I had been speaking about the First Amendment my comment above might even be highly praised by those who believe the First Amendment is essentially sacred, and inviolable.

    Not everyone agrees that reducing risk is worth a reduction in personal freedom. I agree with your goals, but I am also a student of history. And I don't think end running the Second Amendment will result in both the First and the Forth Amendments standing intact for long.

  53. "There is no need to try and circumvent the law of the land by emotionally disregarding the specific wording of the Bill of Rights"

    I agree. That is why, as proud red-blooded American citizens, we must be allowed to possess personal chemical, biological, and nuclear arms. Not to mention shoulder-launched missiles capable of downing jetliners.

    Unless you too, Mr. McCoy, are willing to " circumvent the law of the land by emotionally disregarding the specific wording of the Bill of Rights"?

  54. Years ago, when I was working as a Deputy Prosecutor in a major Metropolitan county on the west coast, I along with several of my colleagues took up the offer of law enforcement to come down to an outdoor shooting range and try out some weapons. I'd hunted upland birds in Wisconsin woodlots as a teenager and had absolutely no native opposition to guns at the time (these of course were the days before frequent massacres by disturbed individuals, save Charles Whitman and Richard Speck). Though as a child I'd often sneak out my Dad's revolver for some forbidden fondling, I'd never before fired a handgun up to the day at the police shooting range. Like Joe Nocera's experience, our sampling began with small caliber and moved up. It was all a mildly entertaining, just a nice break from the office, until I stepped up to try the 45 magnum (I think it was a revolver). Squeezing off a couple of shots was like nothing I'd experienced before. The force and strength of the recoil was strong. It thrummed up my arm and down through my body to the ground with a deep and pleasurable resonance that even at that moment I recognized as something approaching sexual. I don't exaggerate this, I only report the facts of my experience. I've never fired a handgun since that day. I'm strongly in favor of increased gun regulation, but since that day at the range I have never wondered about the deep allure of the gun.

  55. When you have a friend or classmate injured or killed by a gun, you never forget. You never forget how it felt when you first learned of it, either.

    My family lived on a small ranch some distance from Durant, Oklahoma, from my third through 7th grades. One night, a local father shot his son in their house, thinking he was a burglar. The son was 12 years old, shot in the stomach. He almost bled to death, but was saved by being rushed to a hospital about 20 miles away (the closest). In a small community, it is almost as if it is happening to your own family. The sense of shock is profound.

    We had access to rifles when we were kids. Our parents didn't supervise us much, we were expected to be "responsible", as if we fully understood the dangers. There was a hole in the floor (small) of my parents bedroom for years where a 22 rifle went off when I was trying to unload it. No one worshiped the guns nor did we think of them as some god given right. They just were unquestioned in an rural farming area.

    My grandfather ran a hotel in Ft.Worth, Texas, in a rather rough neighborhood. I remember seeing a photo, intended to be a joke, of a woman who worked there holding a pistol on her husband. She later shot and killed him, no joke.

    We are not going to stop guns. Nor can we change people's minds when they assert that guns are not the problem. What we can do is use taxation and regulation to gradually limit the rampant spread of weapons. We must act. No one's rights will be violated.

  56. In the above comment, of course I meant to say "in a rural farming area", not "an". In making a correction to reduce the number of characters, I changed part of the sentence without changing all of it. Happens all the time.

  57. "What we can do is use taxation and regulation to gradually limit the rampant spread of weapons. We must act. No one's rights will be violated."

    But what you are describing would be quite a violation of someone's rights.

    Weapons don't "spread". They are manufactured, sold, bought, and owned, quite legally, quite ethically, and for good reasons. You're conflating lawful and honorable activity with that of criminal gangs and organized crime. The former is good and protected by right; the latter is wrong, illegal, and should be vigorously fought.

    You speak of childhood experience of gun ownership where no one worshiped or thought of them as a god-given right. But in those days and in Texas, no one was activity trying to take them away from you or to limit your access to any kind of gun you decide you might need or simply want. Your decision, your choice. Just like it's my decision and my choice.

    With respect to irresponsible use by a child, age appropriate education and supervision is always in order.

  58. Of course the rights of some will be violated if guns are taxed more and more, especially the rights of the poor, if that matters to you.

  59. Reading all these comments, I now know why there will never be a solution amienable to everyone. There are comments from readers who think that gun owners are stupid, violent, and prone to use them to feel powerful. There are comments from people who are frightened of guns. There were at least several versions of what the Second Amendment covers ... most of them were not supported by a study of history. there are those of us who believe that the issue of gun controll is really not about guns, but about control. I am one who shares that view. I love my country, but fear my government ... especially the current one.

  60. Dubya scared me. Wall Street scares me, since they did not act or warn against our recent meltdown and many did not see it coming at all.

    If they flew airplanes they would be grounded. And they would have been subjected to an extensive and rigorous examination to find out exactly what happened and why.

    What scares me about our current situation, including Obama, is that there is no pressure for such an examination. We had a pretty good one after 1929, but we cant seem to do it any more. That scares me.

    I am not worried about a government power grab. A big business power grab, on the other hand, is underway and has been very successful -- with government as one of their main tools. A big business power grab cannot be resisted with guns. The only way it can be resisted without destroying the economy is through government.

  61. Dear Georg,

    Fear is not a creative emotion.

  62. what part of your government do you fear? I hope it's
    the extremists in congress who have held good government
    hostage since the election of our President. Unfortunately,
    I doubt that . Why don't you say what you mean by "
    the current one".

  63. Please consider the following column by Newt Gingrich.

    Why doesn't Vice President Biden take his gun commission to Chicago, a place with some of the strictest gun laws in the country? Chicago had more than 500 gun homicides in 2012, or roughly 19 per 100,000 people.
    By way of comparison, New York City had just 237 gun homicides with more than three times the population -- only about 3 gun homicides per 100,000 people.
    This puts the city of Chicago at more than 6 times the national gun homicide rate.

    Yet in Chicago, it is illegal to possess a handgun outside the confines of your own home. Long guns face similar prohibitions outside the home or place of business. And if you have more than one gun in your household, only one at a time may be maintained in "operable" condition.
    All gun owners must register with Chicago police, allow themselves to be fingerprinted and take a training course on gun use, supervised by police officers, in addition to paying a $100 fee. They must also register each gun, at a cost of $15 per firearm.
    A whole assortment of rifles and shotguns are banned completely, including many of the so-called "assault" weapons.
    For most of the last 30 years, Chicago has had strict gun laws. Until 2010, the city imposed a ban on all handguns that had existed since 1982. The city still attempts to restrict guns as much as it can.
    So if strong gun laws are said to reduce gun violence, how do they explain such significant outliers as Chicago?

  64. The laws are impossible to enforce when they are only local. Chicago would need to control its borders, and that is just not practical - or legal. Many gun laws do not work because they are impossible to enforce, and they were often made that way by the pro-gun folks.

    Our shooting deaths by accident, mistake, suicide, gang warfare, terrorism, and madness are the price for our Second Amendment rights. Not enough Americans have decided the price is too high so far, although Newtown has caused that number to soar temporarily.

  65. These restraints will be easier to enforce once electronic platforms are provided for gun owners to download apps to. Biometric linking of gun to owner will ensure that registrations remain current and guns don't enter the underground market.
    Please go to my facebook page and sign my "' petiton to introduce smart guns into the national discussion about gun safety.

  66. Just how many crimes have gun ownership by individuals prevented? Very few is my guess. On the other hand, how many assault rifle and handgun murders have been committed, thanks to cheap and readily available fire arms. In other words, widespread gun ownership does little to prevent crimes, but it sure contributes to the egregious murder rate in this country. As for the people who claim they are protecting themselves against the government, that to me verges on treason.

  67. A 21 Dec 2012 article in JAMA (J Amer Med Assoc), "silencing the science on gun research" deserves wider readership.

    Partial excerpt
    The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.

    To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”4 Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up.

    Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC's website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.

  68. You know a country is in collapse when deliberate ignorance is public policy.

  69. The scientific hobbling of CDC research has now spread to the NIH. Last year, Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican from Montana, added a rider to the current government-funding bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, based on the Dickey language, which targets the NIH. It states that no funds going to the NIH “may be used, in whole or part, to advocate or promote gun control.”
    I was pleased to hear that Vice President Biden said that additional scientific research was necessary. Perhaps we can remove the hands of gun makers from the purse strings of scientific inquiry.

  70. Dave is correct, unfortunately. If anyone started fussing with my First Amendment rights the way many are willing to do with my Second, I would be as exercised as any tobacco-chewing, over weight, camo-wearing "good old boy" is about the entire gun control debate. I just saw the movie Lincoln. If enough people agree in this country that the Second Amendment (like slavery) is wrong, then we have a process to accommodate that belief: amend the Constitution to take away individual gun rights. Until that happens, as much as I think the Second Amendment is inapplicable to liberty today, as compared to the 1700's, I support it as much as I do the First.

  71. However there are a lot more limitations on your first amendment rights than your second. We can still function with the second amendment intact--With some limitations, such as assault weapons.

  72. People can and do point guns at other people for what they say.

  73. All rights are subject to regulation, even speech. You can't falsely yell fire in a crowded theater.

  74. Mr. Nocera, I am as puzzled as you about our nation's fascination with guns.

    First I want to state that I don't own a gun and never have. I respect the Constitutional right for our citizens to own guns however I strongly believe that there must be a federal system of gun registration and licensing prior to ownership with mandatory renewals complete with updated background and medical checks and I strongly question the need to have assault type weapons sold or owned, but those issues are for another discussion.

    I grew up with my brothers being taught by our father how to shoot a 22 rifle and a shot gun. As teenagers we would accompany our father while on summer vacations to practice shooting tin cans and wood targets on our grandparents farm or in an old abandoned gravel pit. I admit it was fun at the time but it was never a fascination or interest for me or my brothers as we grew up. There were just so many other things to do as kids and young adults and none of them involved guns, hunting, or sport shooting. Our father taught us a very healthy respect for guns but their use or ownership was never of interest to us.

    When my father passed away his two rifles were sold together with his revolver and all ammunition.

    And although today I have many friends who are or were involved in law enforcement, guns are simply never part of our discussion other than about all of the tragedies and deaths that seem to be caused by them each and every day.

    I remain puzzled like you!

  75. I am not a gun owner and I am certainly not a rabid anti-gun advocate. However, despite the Supreme Court ruling, my belief is that the Second Amendment's intent was for community protection, not for the protection of the individual. It was for a militia; it was for the protection of you AND your neighbors ; and it was necessary for your family's welfare, less for protection than for hunting to put meat on the table.

    While in the Air Force, I served in the cradle of the American Revolution, Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts. The muskets on display at the Buttrick Farm in Concord, made plain that a single rifle was just about useless unless backed up with many other single shot, slow to reload, weapons. That was the experience of the Framers of our Constitution. It was their frame of reference, and they applied that awareness to the document that we all hold dear.

    Those who now use the Amendment as the eleventh Commandment, with the zealotry associated with forms of fundamentalism, have abased both the intent of those who fought at Concord and Lexington, Mr. Scalia and friend's opinion not withstanding, to change what was to be a community's obligation of mutual protection, to the individual's right of self defense - carried to the extremes we face today.

    I suspect that the men who faced the British would be appaled to witness the modern interpretation of their intent.

  76. It may seem difficult to change the gun culture, but it's not impossible. We need to remember that people who think this way are in the minority. We're looking at a fanatical, determined minority's success over recent decades in imposing its will on the rest of the people. The Tea Party is a similar, although more recent, phenomenon. The thing is, we don't give in to it. This is the equivalent of the passion of a small child. We don't let the insane run the asylum.

  77. You nailed it, Laurel. The key word is "minority." I read somewhere that 4 million Americans belong to the NRA. Doesn't that mean that over 296 million don't?

  78. First, there is no slippery slope. The NRA et al hold all the cards and if there were some additional restrictions put on firearms the hypersensitivity of the gun lobby would preclude any more for a very long time. Additionally, most Americans support or at least accept the Second amendment and as such would not allow radical change. This is a straw man argument. Secondly, as Justice Scalia has pointed out, there is no absolute right confirred by the second or the first amendments. To consider thoughtful reasoned interpretation and consequent restrictive action of either as some kind of dismantling of the constitution is ludicrous paranoia.

  79. Another great article that illuminates us about the mind set of the gun culture. The take away should be that the solution to gun violence in America is going to have to come from a different direction than just gun control. The whole culture has to change on it's own.
    What has prompted our overall culture to change most dramatically and voluntarily over the last 15 years? PC's, Mac's, Laptops, Smart Phones, and Tablets, have enabled us to completely transform our culture.
    Won't Smart Guns do the same thing for the next generation of gun owners? The ones who didn't grow up in the mechanical age?
    Please go to my facebook page and sign my '' petition to get smart guns into the national discussion.

  80. Dear Mr.Nocera, Dave is certainly right,"people have rights". The people also elect legislators to guarantee those rights are served. The framers of the Constitution needed no outside help to create the document and the government that followed.Today,however,this same government can't seem to operate without legions of lobbyists advising them including lobbyists from the NRA. I will not assume that all of our legislators are accepting the legalized bribery but enough seem to be skewed to cause great fear of the "gun lobby". If the lawmakers would just follow the will of the people,ignore outside influences and do their job unswayed by outside factors,I believe they can produce logical firearms legislation. I support the Second Amendment,own firearms but am always puzzled why "special interest groups" have such power in D.C. I would hate to think that money is buying power even at the expense of human lives;naive,aren't I.

  81. Unfortunately special interests and the wealthy run this country. "The will o the people" has been pushed aside. We need to take our givernment back!

  82. Dear RAP "I will not assume that all of our legislators are accepting the legalized bribery...". That is one of the most naive statements I have read since, well, the comment before yours. Of course they accept EVERY legalized bribe, read:contribution, they can.

  83. One of the solutions to allowing people to shoot semi-automatic weapons on a firing range is to restrict the possession of large magazines to the firing range. You can own the weapon, but you have to buy and use the bullets at the range. Period. This is not, however, the total solution. My husband is a hunter who owns a number of rifles and shotguns (some antiques) and we both believe that all guns should be registered. Unfortunately, neither of these solutions will satisfy the conspiricy theorists who are sure they need to arm themselves against the government. The only solution to them is to ignore them and move ahead with sensible gun control.

  84. Regulate guns for safety like cars.

    Stop whining gun owners. Assume some responsibility for the safe use and storage of your lethal property.

    Central registries for certificates of title and licenses; liability insurance for the safe use and storage of guns; and fair 'rules of the road' to promote these ends. (If I leave the keys in the ignition of my car, the law in my state imputes responsibility to me for damage done by a thief.)

    300,000,000 ++ guns, 30000 deaths/year. The carnage must be somehow limited. Only comprehensive safety regulation will do this.

    Stop this insanity!

  85. Mrs. Lanza had at least three semi-automatic pistols in her house, and the Bushmaster assault rifle.

    No one seems to raise the question of why she had these guns in the house with her mentally-ill son, why she often took him to the firing range and taught him to shoot, and why her sun had access to these guns. News reports conflict -- an article in the HuffPo says that she was in the process of having him committed and he knew about it, and that this was the cause of his rampage.

    I believe that we need to institute strict liability and insurance requirements for semi-automatic weapons with either replaceable magazines or fixed magazines with a capacity greater than 6.

    I think there must be an immediate stiff penalty for loss or theft of such guns, considerably more that the purchase price, to prevent people buying them and then illegally reselling them in "strawman" transactions with "my dog ate it" stories as to where the gun went, AND the strict liability for the gun continues.

    If you sell or return a gun legally, no problem. Otherwise you and your insurance are on the hook for the liability of whatever anybody does with it.

    And the minimum liability coverage should be millions of dollars, enough to bear the tort costs of killing or maiming several people.

    Gun owners can form mutual insurance companies to do this. They'd then get a lot more serious about who they will insure at what rates, and what requirements they will establish for coverage.

  86. I second the insurance component. States could run insurance pools - proceeds dedicated to mopping up the aftermath of local carnage.

  87. Great set of ideas makes sense. Give Joe a call. Would be added onto your homeowners.

    Think first we we need a national gun and rifle registration system. They do this now for cars trucks motorcycles airplanes and boats.

    Let's also institute a property tax on all guns and rifles to help pay for our police forces.

  88. I had not considered the insurance angle related to gun violence and damages. I think this is a very good idea and should have merit with many.

  89. For me, then, the interesting question is, why do so many gun owners believe that their guns contribute to their safety rather than increasing the odds that she or one of her family is harmed by a gun? My understanding is that the statistics strongly suggest the later, and that the frequency with which gun owners successfully defend lives or property from an intruder with those arms is very small. Assuming that I'm right, do gun owners deny the evidence? Believe that it simply doesn't apply to them--perhaps they're comparatively well trained? Obviously not all gun owners believe as Gena does (I own two and keep them locked in the attic where they represent little danger to anyone, at least until I get them out!), but clearly a substantial number do think that their weapons provide a measure of safety. I'd love to hear a well-articulated argument, but perhaps I'm just as unable to understand that rationale (?!) as Gena is unable to see the danger.

  90. statistics strongly suggest the conclusion considered by the collector, as far as assume goes well we all know what that implies.
    There are no true statistics regarding the harm gun ownership does to gun owners. Acts of protection simply do not get the press or attention of tragedies certainly at the national level.
    While we have become a statistically driven society those very statistics which are supremely capable regarding the inanimate fail when it come to people.
    The accuracy of any survey depends on both the structure of the questionnaire & the truthfulness of the respondent. Additionally there is the example of Congress's approval rating a dim 10% as a whole but with a 90% reelection rate.

    A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone "almost certainly would have been killed" if they "had not used a gun for protection." Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 162,000 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all "military service, police work, or work as a security guard."[12]

  91. An inventory of 300 million hand guns and rifles poses an enormous safety-management problem. These things are solidly constructed and can easily last a couple of hundred years. This means a lot of these weapons will be handed down and sold at tag sales and on Criag's List.

    The question is how do we bring some kind of national rational safety guidelines into being that cover the safe handling, use and sale and resale of these dangeous devices.

    Above all guns, rifles, and ammunition are inherently dangerous and the result is 32,000 USA deaths by gun and rifles each year and thousands more wounded and maimed for life.

    We have safety regulations for your basic lawn mower, ladder and you cannot buy dynamite at the hardware store. Why not for guns and rifles?

    Each NRA spokesman has shifted every public conversation to the need for better mental health monitoring and programs and away from the huge safety problems inherent in this huge 300-million-device inventory. It and they will not make any effort to compile what would be reasonable guidlines to cover the primary causes of guns that end up being lethal.

    Do it and let us take a look at the list.

    On the flip side it's amazing how guns and rifles have become a staple in a lot of households. One for almost every citizen. Let's get out the statistics and let's find or where these devices are and how they are stored and used so we can come up with guidelines.

  92. I have a co-worker whom I hate. We have come close to physical confrontation. Though we are about the same size and neither has had training in combat or the martial arts, I believe I could whip him in a fight. This is not rational. I sometimes imagine using a handy object as a club and see myself beating him with it. When I imagine him wielding the same "club", I see myself dodging it and beating him anyway. I know this is not rational, yet I feel it.

    The same sort of irrational beliefs lead gun owners to feel that they are safer owning guns - even if they know that, statistically speaking, they are not. It is fear, plain and simple, that causes many gun owners to oppose stricter gun laws. Their guns give them a feeling of safety, whatever the statistics say. I am strongly in favor of stricter gun control. Those on my side of this issue must understand the primal nature of their opponents' sentiments if they are to succeed in enacting better (stricter) gun laws.

  93. The apparent appeal of owning a firearm seems to be analogous to that of buying a lottery ticket or being tested for certain medical conditions, like breast cancer and prostate cancer.

    Many people insist that their individual outcome is something they have control over. Like I will be the one cured of an aggressive cancer, rather than the one losing a healthy body part.

    They cannot comprehend that they are another statistic. That it is more likely the gun will be used for a suicide or family squabble, than defending against an intruder.

    Such beliefs die hard. The rationalizations flow like blood.

  94. I find myself on a precarious perch in this discussion: a mental health provider of liberal political persuasion but also a recent owner of firearms who never shot a gun until the age of 56. I was not a believer in firearms but began to feel that the veneer of civilization is extremely thin with people responding differently in disaster - some pulling together as a community and others seeing it as an opportunity to run rampant. I currently have a greater respect for firearms; I still think that i have a healthy fear of them whenever I handle them. But I do now know how to handle them. I am not afraid of those with mental illness. I am afraid of those who have tendencies towards sociopathy (anti-social personality disorder) who have no regard for the rights of either individuals or society as a whole. Am I in a better position to protect myself and family from them if pushed? I don't truly know and I hope I never have to. However, I feel I now have more options for protection than I ever previously had. Delusional? I don't think so. The best decisions I have made have been informed by the simultaneous union of my emotional and rational minds. I feel that that my gun ownership has been a "wise mind" decision.

  95. You have bought into the rationale for civil war whether you consider yourself sociopathic or not.

  96. Yes, people have rights. Yes, Gena and her friends have strong views about the "great equalizer". But how much "equalization" do you need? If the slippery slope argument holds any water, it's not the way Gena has in mind. It's in the way increased fire power has led to more and more mass shootings and threatens to turn every school, every mall, every theatre, every house of worship, every....(do I need to go on?) into a fortified zone. Once upon a time, the sight of an armed guard at every street corner and public building used to be thought of as the hallmark of a totalitarian state under the rule of some military junta. That slippery slope is much nearer reality than the one that Gena fears. She should ask herself if that's the kind of nation she really wants.

    One of he rights people used to have is the freedom to come and go.

  97. Why should Kentucky change its gun laws? In 2011 Kentucky had a murder rate of 3.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, while California had a murder rate of 4.8 per 100,000. California has some of the strictest firearms laws in the nation.

    Of the 150 murders committed in Kentucky in 2011, 100 were committed using firearms. Out of those 100 only six were committed using rifles, of which the dreaded "assault weapon" is a subset. Over eight times more murders were committed using a non-firearm weapon or no weapon at all in Kentucky in 2011.
    All these statistics come from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report website.

    "Assault weapons" make up a minute percentage of so called "gun murders" in this country, yet they seem to be the focus of this debate on our safety. Seems just a little misguided.

  98. I can only describe it all as brained-washed from birth.
    I find the causal acceptance of the ......... need to have a gun, for the express purpose of its being an equalizer, as a warped attitude.
    Anyone who believes that they need an ........... equalizer apparently feels that they are in a perpetual mode of feeling unequal and/or inferior in some way or other as yet to be define.

    If people believe that they need some form of constant protection in the form of a gun, then we have created a failed society, replete with numerous overt and covert dangers and a constant belief thereof.

    Humanity and a decent regard for others is neglected in a failed society and that appears to define a great part of our societal behavior, based continually on suspicion and a disregard for the welfare of all.
    This attitude is reflected in much of everything that a great part of our society undertakes on a regular basis in all fields of endeavor.
    The belief in the ever present need for armed protection is nothing more than failure in every regard and in every sense of that word.

  99. I didn't feel any fear when I saw the photos of the Kimber and Ruger Mark handguns. The Kriss Vector assault weapon was intimidating but not terrifying. I can walk into a sporting goods store and look at them, but I don't think I have courage to use a firearm myself. Yes, guns do kill people, but that's because there are other people holding them and firing away. Guns themselves are inanimate objects that lay motionless until someone picks them up to use them. But people sometimes tend to give human characteristics to objects, and weapons are no exception. The "guns kill people" statement creates an image of firearms coming to life, walking about on their own, and firing themselves. Guns are not living, sentient things. The only way they can go anywhere and be fired is with human help, which is why the gun debate is mostly about how to keep the guns out of the hands of people like Jared Lee Loughner, Adam Lanza, and James Holmes.

  100. Thanks for a very rational conclusion. What's the answer that will truly make a difference? Credits in math, english, etc. are required of all young students. Consider a required credit in hands-on gun safety for all young students. Instructors would have opportunity to identify those who should not be permitted to bear arms, and opportunity to refer troubled youth for treatment before they become troubled adults ready to explode and kill people with pocket knives or firearms. We can never stop berserk individuals if we do not first identify who they are. We can never keep black-market guns out of the hands of berserk individuals if we do not first identify who they are are mandate treatment to change their thought processes. Identification and treatment is the singular answer that makes sense. In our society, schools are the place to start the identification process. The age of puberty or maybe even before is the time to identify and mandate treatment. If Biden didn't include this in his recommendations, the President act to make this happen anyway.

  101. Sorry Mr. Nocera,

    I see no reason to consider Gena's viewpoint when she seems completely oblivious to the fears of people who view with alarm the serious slope we have been sliding down with the increased prevalence of guns.

    Perhaps she needs to spend time in the ER of a city hospital, and see who is shooting and getting shot. In urban settings, bullets don't do damage to trees, they do damage to innocent bystanders.

    Maybe she should talk to some children who aren't allowed to play outside at night due to gunfire. She seems to be the one having a hard time understanding the power of guns.

  102. Our financial system hardly better regulated than guns too.

  103. It seems the only difference between a gun and sidenafil (Viagra) for these people, is the need for a doctor's prescription, for the latter. All I can do is shake my head. I wish my immigrant grandparents had picked Canada rather than the US of A.

  104. don't judge the majority of gun owners by the people that inhabit the shooting ranges. that's like associating people that spend all their time in the weight room at a gym with people that like to be fit and healthy.

  105. So you went to Bud's Gun Shop. What attitudes did you expect to find there? I see on TV that polls show most gun owners do want stricter gun laws. These gun owners should be widely interviewed in media and on TV. Where are they? I want to hear their opinions and reasoning, not gun shop owners. We hear a lot from the extremes of opinion--- gun fanatics vs gun regulation/ public safety advocates.

    What about interviewing gun owners favoring gun regulation? Let them set an example, and over time they will influence public opinion. They should appear with lawmakers on TV. Then politicians and Obama might feel more politically at ease in pushing for laws that the rest of the world takes for granted. Someday, maybe statistics will show our kids can hope to have as good a chance of living out their life span as do kids abroad. Well, we can hope.

    I also read that the NRA, for all the money they spend, is not as powerful as thought, since most of their candidates did not win in the recent elections. See Talking Points Memo. That's interesting, isn't it? Any columns on that, or have I missed them?

  106. I am from Lexington and I shoot at Buds.

    Here is my Pro-Gun position (Different that the typical bullet points that you may hear).

    Its like this:

    1. I believe in cultural and personal freedom
    2. As a result I am in support of issues like Gay Marriage.
    3. However, I also support religious folks who do not support Gay Marriage because most religious texts are clear that homosexuality is immoral.
    4. Imo, it is as discriminatory to say to religious people that they cannot make moral decision based on their religion when their religion makes a clear stand on the issue. Basically, I won't damn someone for being anti-gay-marriage based on religious reasons like liberal media will. Lucky for Gay Marriage supporters America is becoming more liberal on this view and Votes will eventually fall in favor with Gay Marriage.
    5. What does that mean...For Kentuckians (and other cultures that are supportive of guns) it is a cultural right-of-passage to be a gun owner. To learn how to use a gun, to learn to hunt, to learn to defend yourself and your family. The action of learning is what is vital to the culture of guns. Defense with a weapon is rare and so the love and active support for guns is an indication of the other positive aspects of gun ownership.
    6. That said, how can I take an anti-gun position or support any anti-gun position that is a direct attack on my culture and my way of life when I will not support the oppression of any other group based on their culture beliefs?

  107. Agree completely on points 1-4. Freedom of religion means that a religion can be anti-gay or make any judgments within the context of the religion. I think even most gays would agree with that. But separation of church and state dictates that that cannot extend to institutionalized persecution of gays and denying them their civil rights, as people like Bachmann and Santorum would.

    As far as gun control, I'm not anti-gun. Just anti-hater. A hater with a gun is a very toxic combination, as we have seen.

  108. I think everyone claiming to know what some deity thinks about the human condition is merely giving their own opinion.

  109. Seven,
    You're entitled to your beliefs and way of life. It's an honorable position to have and I would help you keep it.
    Religious people are free to have their own rules and ways to live a good life. But we are guaranteed freedom from religion, so someone's beliefs don't create sharia for the rest of us.
    I still wonder what assault rifles and large magazines have to do with tradition and personal protection, hunting, competition, skeet shooting, or just banging away at soda cans. How many shots do you need to kill a squirrel or deer for the table? Real hunters use arrows.
    Let's face our fears and realize that, unless you're running a meth lab, "they" are not coming to get you.

  110. I expect that sometime in the near future at one of these shooting galleries, a situation will get out of hand, and people will start shooting each other rather than the targets.

  111. It isn't fun to own a gun anymore. There is a correlation between the number of guns and the number of gun related deaths. Seems so simple. Lets make it harder to get guns and only let people who can prove they are responsible have them.

  112. I've visited places like Bud's and rented a fully automatic machine pistol of the kind glorified in gang films at the time for $10. I shot pistols. Another year, I went out in the desert with some colleagues at a company I was working for and we shot skeet, a musket, pistols, and an AK-47 or equivalent. The musket ball traveled so slowly you could see its path as it went.

    It was fun. But a defining characteristic of an adult, as opposed to a child, is to think beyond one's own immediate needs. If my community can be safer by my foregoing a hobby, then so be it. The rantings of the gun nuts sounds childish, like a child not wanting to part with a favorite toy. The delusions that they are going to overthrow the government or fight tyranny is laughable; tyranny won't come in the form of the police. It will come electronically, financially, and from a religion. In fact, those that think they will defend the country from tyranny are highly likely to be on the side of the tyrants. Do they really think they would have defended the Jews in Germany, or been brown shirts? Would they have defended the intellectuals in Cambodia, or helped round them up? In the conflicts they point to as examples of why guns are needed, they would have been on the wrong side each time. And they are likely to be on the wrong side here too.

  113. They do literally threaten civil war if guns are treated as militia weapons and regulated.

  114. Opponents of sensible gun control invariably change the argument from "let's do whatever we can to help prevent more kindergartners from being butchered by madmen." to "We have the right to bear firearms." , which of course is a non sequitur. The discussion at that point is over because if you have to say the words "No one is talking about abrogating your (constitutionally disputable) right to own guns." the discussion about how to better protect our children gets lost. They are on the wrong side of logic, common sense, and history. They will never believe that we don't want to take away their guns. Also when you hear the word-for-word clichés and hackneyed phrases, like: "I love my country, but fear my government." you know you are in the presence of goofy paranoia and a closed mind that doesn't form it's own opinions. We simply have to do what a civilized, democratic society should do: outnumber them at the polls and pass laws and regulations that are fair and effective. There is no point in trying to reason; they want to talk about something else.

  115. This is a lethal nation. When the ban on assault weapons goes into effect - as I believe it will - it won't make that much of a difference. There are so many of them out there that it will take at least two decades for the results to be felt. It was foolish of Bush to let the ban on these guns expire. No shock there. He is a very foolish man. The real shock is that so many Americans were stupid enough to believe that sending him to the White House was a really neat idea.

    What happened in Newtown on the 14th of December is merely a nasty harbinger of what is coming down the pike/ It will happen again - and again and again and again and again and again....

    Get used to living in a nation in ruins. I'm adjusting quite well, thank you very much.

    Tom Degan

  116. Did Bush let it expire, or was it Congress? I thought Congress made the laws? I guess it's still all Bush's fault. Yep, it's Bush's fault for sure. Oh, right, I forgot. Bills to renew the ban were written in subsequent years (Senator McCathy from NY) and never made it out of committee, ever, including 2007, when Dems took back control of Congress. Facts are tough things, aren't they Mr. Degan. Still hasn't been a new bill or law to this day. I guess that's Bush's fault too?? Oh, wait, Obama has been president since 2009!

  117. Gena may be successful in finances but in reasoning she would be better off taking a course on Rational Thought than a course on gun safety.

  118. Regarding the Second Amendment, it has been said ad nauseam that at the time the amendment was added to the Bill of Rights the weaponry was a single-shot musket capable of being reloaded and fired at a much slower rate, but the gun lovers won't accept that simple fact. As long as the average citizen who uses common sense remembers that, all the squealing by the fanatical and paranoid gun lovers is merely background noise.

    Go ahead and legislate sensible gun control and ignore the fanatics. They will fall in line as soon as they realize their violent rhetoric is nothing but empty braggadocio and the gun control folks were right. With sensible and thorough gun control, the number of gun deaths will diminish. Guaranteed.

  119. Another way to look at "that simple fact" is that the single-shot musket was also the weaponry of the standing armies of the time. Thus the inference, and belief, among many 2nd Amendment supporters, that "the people" were entitled to arms suitable for defense against those armies. At one time in the US, you could buy machine guns and other truly "war surplus" weapons via mail-order. Nowadays, your selection of truly military arms is severely limited -- we are well down the slippery slope.

  120. "You can say until you’re blue in the face that a gun owner or his family is far more likely to be hurt or killed by that gun than an intruder. But people like Gena — decent, honorable citizens who grew up around guns — will never believe it."

    You can repeat the statistics until you're blue in face about how gun owners are less likely to be robbed or hurt by an intruder. But people like Joe Nocera -- decent, well-meaning liberals who have been brainwashed by relentless anti-gun propaganda -- will never believe it.

    A 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year. Studies by criminologist Gary Kleck found that crime victims who defend themselves with guns are less likely to be injured or lose property than victims who either did not resist, or resisted without guns.

    In 2004, the year the assault weapon ban expired, the National Academy of Sciences issued a 328-page report based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey of 80 different gun-control laws and some of its own independent study. The panel could find no link between restrictions on gun ownership and lower rates of crime, firearms violence or even accidents with guns. The panel was established during the Clinton administration and all but one of its members were known to favor gun control.

  121. Yes, the distortions prevalent in any discussion of gun control are foisted both by liberals and conservatives. No one wants to hear that gun violence is caused by a tiny fraction of gun owners and the distinct majority of them are mentally ill. I am a gun owner, have a doctorate, am pro-choice, pro gay marriage, pro legalization of marijuana, anti-war, and would describe myself as slightly left of center politically. I own guns because I live on the edge of a bad neighborhood where there have been several gang-related murders over the last several years. I also love to shoot guns, but only at targets with others, all of whom have military training, as do I. None of us fit the (here go the stereotypes) description of gun owners that I routinely here from the liberal left. We don't chew tobacco, fly the Confederate flag, beat our wives, or kick our dogs. We have produced children who have graduated, or will, from a variety of professional schools. Parodying and demonizing gun owners is no different than stereotyping obese people as lazy, gays as sinful, or Mexican immigrants as distrustful. So why do I continue to see the stereotyping of gun owners by supposedly intelligent, educated posters to the NYT who would be horrified by any who would propagate other hateful stereotypes?

  122. The issue is gun safety and murder in large numbers. A thinking person would realize that weapons for personal protection are different than assault rifles with large magazines. People like Gena can keep their personal weapons for whatever reason-fear, fun, machismo, whatever. But to argue at the same time that one needs an assault weapon for defense makes no sense. When Mr. bad guy comes knocking, are you going to run to your gun vault, spin the combination, grab the assault rifle, jam in the magazine, remove the trigger lock and spray Mr. bad guy with 30 bullets? Or maybe you'll reach for your hand gun or baseball bat? I think that a thinking person would have a hard time pulling the trigger to kill another person. Just saying.

    We regulate four wheelers, motorcycles, drugs, knives, cars, stair rails, exits, fire alarms and other things that have caused death and dismemberment with out sliding down some slippery slope. Have some faith that the black suv's won't be pulling up to your compound to confiscate your armory and send you to Montana.

  123. I wish the comments here were from people who think clearly. Usually readers of the NYT do think. In this case they are talking about somehow collecting 300 million guns from 100 million people -- that have been legal since man set foot in the America's. And no one knows for sure who has them or where they are. Thus, the 'lets collect the guns crowd needs to stop thinking in nonsense and find a real solution to the real problem.

    If we are going to stop gun violence, then we need to track people with odd behaviors and mental issues -- and keep them from having guns. That means the mental-medical records of people will need to be open for review by certain officials, and since we know that mass killers have all been under 25 year old, its time to require schools and other officials to report certain behaviors to a database that will keep guns out of wrong hands.

  124. Make all assault weapons illegal and offer a buy back. After 6 months, anyone found having an assault weapon will serve 6 months in jail (unless they turn in their weapon). That's what they did in Australia. It ain't that hard if we have the will to stop the rampant violence and killing in our society, the most violent in the civilized world.

  125. Your first two sentences are undermined by your third. Nobody is talking about taking away 300 million guns; certainly no proposal likely to come out of the White House is going to advocate taking away anybody's guns (maybe high-capacity magazines, though).

    Most gun-control advocates recognize that you can't make a dent in the number of guns in the United States. But there is a lot that can be done - in terms of background checks, empowering police to crack down on weapons trafficking, etc., to make sure that guns are kept away from dangerous people.

  126. Sounds like you want a massive expansion of government powers. Ironically that's one of the greatest fears of the pro-gun crowd.

  127. Pro gun people think the Second Amendment means "all citizens can own any kind of weapon they desire."
    Anybody who really reads the Amendment can see its not that simple. The second amendment has been controversial since inception. Read the history of what it took to get it passed - seems every state needed it worded in a different way before ratifying it.

    The NRA and pro gun people moan about the slippery slope of gun restrictions. I think we've already gone down the slippery slope by allowing people to sell and buy assault weapons. What's next, your own private missile?

    Yesterday I heard an NRA person on the radio warning that gun control regulation will NEVER WORK. Unless we talk about confiscation of weapons, he intoned, there's no way to actually change the situation.

    I say, OK, let's talk about confiscation of weapons. Enough of this patchwork quilt of restrictions. Just confiscate the ridiculous guns and get them out of circulation. "Law abiding citizens" won't have to arm themselves against bad guys because the bad guys won't have the weapons either. A very civilized nation, Australia, had two rounds of compulsory, compensated surrenders of many of the most dangerous firearms and the number of gun deaths dropped in a big way.

    Let's start talking about making certain kinds of guns just plain illegal. Go for broke. Then maybe, just maybe, there can be discussion of even moderate change.

  128. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Repeat until firmly embedded in consciousness. Indoctrinated anti-gun folks may find logic and facts ineffectual against ingrained emotional reflexive tendencies.

  129. Yes, and in the real world the "good guy" is a cop, not an untrained, panicky guy waving a .45 around. I get that some people want a gun for personal protection in their own homes. But they do not need a weapon capable of blasting out 30or a hundred bullets. And they do not need to carry it wherever they go. The difference between an"indoctrinated anti-gun" person and an indoctrinated gun lover is that the latter can--and if his threats are to be believed, will--kill you.

  130. The concept of clearly defined "good guys" and "bad guys" is a fantasy...and the romanticizing of guns is straight out of Disney's Frontier Land. Maybe the movies, TV, and most recently computer games have all helped American culture fall in love with deadly weapons. I for one don't find the pro-gun advocates such great defenders of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights...accept when it's convenient for this specific debate.

  131. Especially when it's always clear who the good guys are and that good guys never, ever, get drunk and beat their wives or are ever otherwise irresponsible.

  132. Does anyone actually have definitive data that guns are more likely to harm the law abiding owner than the criminal, or that gun control laws are effective in stemming violent crimes? All I read are assertions one way or the other that appear to be based on the political orientation of the writer. Also ignored in these reports are the true purpose of the 2nd Amendment, which is to enable the citizenry to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.

  133. It seems unlikely that the framers of the Constitution ever dreamed that the words "well regulated militia" would be interpreted as a way for self appointed armed individuals to "protect themselves" from an elected government with which they do not agree.

  134. There is definitive data that guns are more likely to harm the owner because half of all gun deaths are male suicides. However, this piece of information is rarely mentioned in the articles advocating the need for gun control. I have known six people who have committed suicide, five were men and of those, four used a gun.

  135. Researchers published an article entitled "Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?" in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (Vol. 30, No. 2). They found that there is no correlation between gun control and murder and suicide rates.

    Their findings surprised the researchers, who were impartial and approached their investigation without any preconceived opinions.

    To read the article, see

  136. Between all of the unhinged people running around these United States and the 300 some-odd-million guns in circulation, the only thing that surprises me is that Newtown type shootings don't occur daily.
    Nothing will change regardless of how frequently these random mass killings occur.
    We have a new normal. We rarely get things right. It's a bit like our answer to the financial crisis with banks that were too big to fail: we now have less banks that are substantially larger.
    'And so it goes'. Vonnegut

  137. But shootings do occur daily--just not with casualty rates that draw headlines. They have become invisible; perhaps this is your point. How many have died of gun violence in the few weeks since Newtown? Over 600, I believe

  138. I own guns. The reason for this, besides my innate interest in things technical and mechanical, is that I want to be able to provide for the safety of my family should I encounter a life-threatening situation in my own home. Statistice may indicate this willl probably neve happen, but who wants to be a statistic?

    As both a citizen and a gun owner, I'm repelled by just about anything that contains the letters "NRA." Yet I'm a member. This is because the club where I practice requires members of the club to also be NRA members. I was told this has to do with insurance rates at the club. The result is that if I want to learn about and practice with the lethal weaponry I own, I have to pay money to the NRA. Believe me, you have no idea how much this offends me, but at the same time if you accept the premise that I have a legitimate concern for the safety of my family, you must then agree that the most practical solution is a club wherre practice is supervised and legal, and leave it at that.

    As noted by an earlier writer, all gun owners and all NRA members do not necessarily subscribe to the stereotypical position most folks associate with them.

  139. The reason for NRA membership sounds bogus to me.

    I joined the NRA decades ago, when it was a very different organization, and not a shill for the firearms industry. I have just quit this group which, at times, sounds to me as though it advocates the violent overthrowing of our government.

  140. i appreciate your moderate thoughtful tone. is it possible for you to understand that you are the life-threatening situation in your home?

  141. One of the favorite arguments of gun enthusiasts is that everyone with a gun is a member of the militia. Fine. The constitution makes congress the regulator of the militia (Article 1), and the president the commander of the militia if congress calls it into national service (Article 2).

    Put the militia under military discipline, subject them to drills, inventory their arms, and lock up their ammunition in armories. A substantial fraction, probably most, of gun owners would be falling over each other to be first in line to get rid of their guns and get off the militia roles.

    What these people want is an unregulated militia—not the well-regulated one the constitution calls for. What they are tending toward is a chaos of competing unregulated militias, and the destruction of civil institutions. Fix the problem by imposing military order, as the constitution specifies.

  142. Let us consider the plain language of the 2nd Amendment. "Militia," a plural noun. One man does not a militia make. "State, " a collective noun. "The people," another collective noun. Contrast with the "person" of the 5th amendment and elsewhere. There is no individual right conferred here, Justice Scalia's opinion notwithstanding. But even if there were, there is no evidence that the Founders intended to confer the right to armed rebellion against the duly elected government itself. On the contrary, the "well-regulated" militia was probably intended, in part, to be used to put down armed insurrection such as Shay's Rebellion, in parts of the country that had no organized National Guard or state or local police forces powerful enough to handle an armed uprising.

    Shays Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion, taking place just before and just after the adoption of the Constitution, were both put down by well-regulated militias, not by armed individuals. Under the NRA's interpretation of history, the insurrectionists would be the heroes, and the militias would be the evil government.

  143. The constitutionally approved militia was in lieu of a standing army, viewed by many as the tool of tyranny. Having an armed citizenry on call by the states was a preventative against overwhelming federal power. The "patriot" groups mentioned in Charles Blow's op-ed this morning seem to have the same intrinsic motivation. If the states' proponents didn't trust George Washington to preserve the liberties he led the fight for, can we expect today's gun culture to trust any president? Once you can imagine the army versus the people fighting it out in the streets, you can justify the possession of any type of weaponry. If this mentality is no longer appropriate, the 2nd amendment must be repealed.

  144. Militias became National Guards when Lafayette(who was named head of the National Guard at the start of the French Revolution) departed for France from NYC after his 1824-1825 visit to the US and the New York Militia to honor him changed its name to the National Guard which would then spread to every state.

  145. And the referenced guns were muskets!

  146. Here's why I support a solution to gun control. The kid that sat next to me in 7th grade didn't come back to school after Halloween because an adult left a handgun unsecured and he & his brother played with it and blew his head off. My uncle was murdered in a filling station hold up. My nephew and some fellow elite, highly trained marines were fooling around while drinking in a motel room at their buddies wedding and his friend pulled his pistol and pulled the trigger and accidentally blew my nephew's head off. My cousin was a nurse at the Ft Hood massacre. My daughter was getting ready to go to Safeway for a pound of butter when Gabby was shot at the store where my daughter was going. This year a close hunting friend left his pickup unlocked in his driveway. He lost his rifle, but seemed more concerned about his beautifully carved walking stick.. An annual licensing fee and application requiring the signatures of two friends (Canada does this) would provide enough funding to vastly improve mental health.

    My husband, retired gunsmith, has a violent form of Alzheimer's. I have tried for two years to get the NRA to stop sending mail and magazines to no avail. They are evil, crazy, uncivilized and not helpful to our democracy. Give them a call at: NRA Member Programs 1-800-672-3888 and ask them to change their radical position.

    All of us are at risk until we reform mental health services and gun laws. Please join me in supporting Americans for Responsible

  147. Also consider donating to Americans for Responsible It was founded by Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark.

  148. Thanks for this sad, smart and courageous posting. I am worry for your lost and agree with you.

  149. I am having a difficult time accepting as true all the problems with guns as described here....just saying.

  150. I have hunted with guns from age 6. As I look back on all those hunting experiences and the time I fired guns in the army the common denominater for the enjoyment I found in those events was the feeling of empowerment. I can identify with your lady friend thinklng that guns even things up for women. I can see that packing makes anyone who feels powerless to control their life greatly empowered. The mystery for me is why all the mass guners are males??

  151. it is amazing that deadly force is considered a necessary equalizer in many american homes. my husband has one so i have to have one. the volatility of the american home is without question. just check the divorce rate.

    definitely mental lhealth is the real isssue. i am so pleased to hear that republicans are willing to pay for a vastly expanded health care system that would include excellent mental health benefits. i've got that wrong. since that is the problem and they WON'T pay for it. better are up.

    definitely the people who own guns and depend on them for their sense of well-being need a lot of mental health intervention.

  152. How about a free market solution to gun control. Let's require every person who owns a gun to purchase insurance against damages caused to others by that weapon, regardless of whether the weapon was in the control or possession of the owner at the time. The more dangerous the weapon, the higher the premium. And let's require owners to provide evidence of insurance for every purchase of ammunition. Just like owning a car, we require owners of lethal weapons to demonstrate the ability shoulder the financial ability to make victims of their negligence financially whole. If you've been irresponsible with your weapon, if you've failed to store it in a safe way, if you've allowed it to fall into irresponsible or criminal hands, your premiums will go up. Nothing like a financial penalty to encourage people to be responsible.

  153. A very sound position, and I would only add that our culture must be considered. Young people engaging in mock battle on CDs tickles a childish fantasy about power that has no real world equivalents. That may be part of the reason that so often mass murderers commit suicide- self-disgust and self-hate for what was supposed to be a vengeful power trip. I don't think we can make much progress with rational gun control while our culture extols violence as a good and righteous thing. The majority of rational, traditional gun owners live in a mindset quite different from those who think of themselves as avengers and "patriots"; its the latter who need gun controls and reeducation.

  154. I am a resident of Massachusetts. I vote to the right mainly because I can't fathom the lack of responsibility by our elected officials on our national debt. I could care less who you marry and will never tell a woman what to do with her body. You can pray in any building you wish or howl at the moon for all I care. I am also licensed to carry and allowed to own high capacity firearms. In the commonwealth we have what I believe to be a very good system for obtaining a firearms license.
    First you must take an all day course on gun safety and how to protect yourself legally. Second you fill out a form that also requires a $100.00 fee. It is submitted to your local police captain or gun safety officer. You also must provide two letters of reference and write a letter yourself describing your intentions. The police do a complete background check and also an in person interview.
    All of my firearms are locked in a 1000 pound safe with video surveillance and alarms. Not cheap but very effective.
    The point being if everyone nationwide did it the way we do in the commonwealth I feel that we would go a long way in avoiding these horrible tragedies.
    All this being said,under no circumstances will I give up my right to own guns.

  155. Nobody is asking you to give up your right to own guns. Lets register them, and do background checks. After all we register cars, arguably more important to individual freedom than gun possession. Lets tax guns and ammo to support such federal enforcement of tighter regulation. Lets ban and buy back high capacity magazines. Thats all thats needed for now. Mental health systems need to be improved and adequately funded regardless of the gun mess.

  156. a proper code for access and qualification for licensing gun owners/users beats the wider task of regularion of guns and gear, already in the street, that threatens to scuttle (once again) debate over the sadly, badly read second amendment.

    backgound checks, training AND liability for control (ensuring that one's guns are not accessible to unqualified/unlicensed others - kids, thieves, etc.- would at least mark a solid first may be that from that kind of a step, other aspects of the culture may evolve and the pressures from a more qualified ownership, one that has a sense of its responsibility as well as its rights, may lead to actual reform and some definition and organization of, and service to, the necessary "well regulated militia" required and protected by the second amendment.

  157. How would you feel if you had to do those same things before being allowed to post your comment to this website? You don't have a right to bear arms, Massachusetts has allowed you to do so.

  158. What a culture to live in and bring kids up in. I live part of the year in countries that have outlawed guns. In discussing the issue with citizens from these countries, they just don't get us ---"what's with all the guns." I sat there listening to people who have gone through their entire lives without the presence of guns in their society ---what a breath of fresh air. And these are countries that are doing better than the U.S. economically, are not involved in any foreign wars, have a better educational system, trains that run on time, government health services, and no guns. While I treasure my U. S. citizenship, my value system in far more in line with my foreign neighbors than country filled with citizens packing heat or spending their weekends at gun ranges emptying 30 round clips into the human shaped targets. This entire gun debate, which should be about getting rid of the second amendment, instead is nippling around the edges of a very disturbing culture that shoots first and aims later.

  159. Kudos to Mr. Nocera for at least trying to understand the other side. However, he makes the same major mistake most misguided gun-control proponents do, in claiming that handguns are "made to kill people." That's simply not so. Yes, they can do so when necessary, but the purpose of the defensive handgun - why police officers carry them - is to re-order the balance of power in a hostile situation. When my wife successfully defended herself against a nude man who accosted her on a remote hiking trail, she didn't have to kill him - the mere display of the weapon and her unmistakable willingness to use it if necessary was enough to make him retreat quickly. The vast, vast majority of cases in which firearms are used for self-defense end the same way.

    One clueless anti-gun acquaintance actually suggested she could have used "Judo" instead. A 110-pound woman is supposed to physically close with a 180-pound assailant and try to flip him over her shoulder? Come on. The handgun re-ordered the balance of power for her. THAT is why we will resist any efforts to restrict the rights of decent people to defend themselves against those who are not decent.

    Background checks for all gun purchases? Yes. Proficiency tests for new buyers, at their expense? Yes. A stranger who hates all guns telling my wife how many bullets she's allowed to defend herself with? No.

  160. The problem is that as a defensive weapon a gun is often misused even by highly trained police officers, and certainly often by civilians. A society is much better off if nobody carries a gun. The statement that if guns are outlawed only criminals will have guns is no different than the statement if murder was outlawed only murderers will murder. I know that in this country it is simply out of the question to outlaw guns, but that does not make less true that if nobody had guns nobody would die of gunshots and that outlawing guns would make more difficult for criminals and mentally unstable people to acquire them.

  161. Liability insurance for each weapon should also be required. Renew registrations every year, renew your license every 5-7 years with proficiency tests, add to or remove safety features as car manufacturers have to. Computerize and centrally keep data every time a weapon changes hands, either by gift or sale. Same as with a motor vehicle. We accept willingly the regulations placed on us every day for the right to drive and own a car. This is no different. As far as the number of bullets allowed, if you are properly trained to use your weapon, you don't need that super clip to defend yourself. There is only one reason for that clip, kill as many as possible as quickly as possible.

  162. And if the nude man was clothed and carrying a concealed weapon? He makes a threat while drawing his gun first. What now?

    Does your wife start drawing on everyone who might be a threat, to get the drop on them? And when that no longer allays her fears does she start hiking with her gun drawn at all times, turning and probing, constantly evaluating threats, and then threatening others to keep the balance of power in her favor?

    Are those of us hiking without guns simply at the mercy of her "good judgment" as to whether we're a threat or not? Dare I say hi to your wife on the trail or look cross-eyed at her?

    I've spent thousands of hours in the outdoors and never felt threatened by anyone. But I have encountered others with guns and that makes me instantly nervous and I move away as quickly as possible. I'm more scared of the gun than the person. Why? Because it can make a simple misunderstanding lethal quickly.

    In my wife's knitting group two women carry guns in their purses because their husbands insist. Should my wife start packing in case one of the gun totin' mamas shows up in a bad mood one day? Or perceives a threat in how my wife wields her needle?

    How does your increasing right to tote a gun everywhere in public square with my desire to be where there are no guns? Do I just stay home while you roam the streets reordering the balance of power in your favor?

    Perhaps part of the problem is the male ego that perceives the world as full of threats to be neutralized.

  163. In the nearly fifty years since the Surgeon General's report, the social stigma attached to smoking has been the most effective curb to it. When a similar stigma is associated with gun addiction, our cultural attachment to firearms will seem, like that to cigarettes, horrifically quaint. Eighty or ninety years from now I can see people wondering, while cleaning out grandpa's attic, what he was thinking when he brought this much lethal force into the house.

  164. As a nation we cower before the gun lobby and the many adamant gun nuts who have large private arsenals. Tragedy after tragedy occurs and nothing gets done because it is so hard to have a meaningful, sensible gun safety public policy that can survive a legal challenge under the 2nd Amendment, even though we've long since abandoned the concept of a "well regulated militia" of citizens which was the whole reason for the amendment in the first place. It is time for a change.

    I have drafted a petition to repeal the 2nd Amendment that does not impose gun controls or advocate taking away anyone's guns. It does take away the present unabridged right to own and use guns. If it passes, we would start public policy on gun ownership and use from scratch. The petition says:

    "We the people of the United States request that both houses of Congress, pursuant to Article 5 of the Constitution of the United States, repeal the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."

    Will you sign this petition? Click here:

    Thanks! Please forward this to your like minded friends.

  165. The views expressed in this column seem to point toward the real purpose of the NRA: to cultivate a set of beliefs among gun owners to make them highly resistant to the facts about the societal harm guns do as well as to be paranoid about gun control arguments. The NRA is not merely a lobbying organization for gun manufactures, but depend on having their members as foot soldiers on the front lines of public debate, sowing doubt and pushing an individual rights argument.

  166. "But people like Gena - decent, honorable citizens who grew up around guns - will never believe it." Bias confirmation compels us to seek evidence that reinforces our beliefs and to ignore evidence to the contrary. Gena, a well educated, intelligent woman, views a gun as the great equalizer. She sees regulation as the beginning of the slippery slope. I suspect few arguments, if any, to the contrary, regardless of how logical or how rooted in objective data, will persuade Gena to abandon these ideas. I hope I am wrong. That being said, I will share an idea I hold that is probably too deeply rooted to be dislodged. I believe we live in a country where the majority has accepted our Newtowns and our Auroras as a price that must be born, however sadly, because of the Second Amendment. The outrage and sorrow expressed after each tragedy, followed by the inevitable debate, are at the end of the day merely words. At this point I wonder what kinds of legislative actions it would take to undermine my deeply rooted belief about my fellow citizens. Lincoln observed that with public opinion our leaders can do a great deal. Without it, they can do little.

  167. Confirmation bias works both ways. Hopefully people who are "convinced" that private gun ownership is "bad" will dislodge their deeply-rooted and unrealistic beliefs someday, and will think like Gena.

  168. legislators should be made to participate in ER heroics to save gun shot victims. they need to see how a bullet enters, tumbles, splits and rips through a human body. It's not as straightforward as a clean, small entry hole. It's the savage cleaving of flesh, crunching of bone and slicing of blood vessels that occurs once the round enters the body. The violence of the "newbie" .22 is considerable. The small caliber is the firearm of choice for hit men, for a reason.

  169. Mr. Noreca's article confirms my belief that human behavior is largely fear driven. How else can one explain this madness? Gun ownership provides us with the illusion of safety, power and symbolic immortality. The fear is very real to those who experience it despite its irrationality. Death at the hands of a home intruder or at the hands of our government is not at the top of the list of ways we can die prematurely or be enslaved, but we can becomes slaves to our fears and the violence that ensues from that fear.
    This dread opens some of us to manipulation by such organizations as the NRA and toxic individuals who are motivated by purely by personal gain either through money and/or power. Unfortunately, this argument is not about reality. We must strive mightily to make it so.
    Looked at one way, the lives of 20 children, 6 adults and countless others have been sacrificed on the altar of the fruitless quest for our own immortality.

  170. I remember hunting with my brother when we were younger. I remember shooting a rifle several times. It was fun, as any hunt is particularly if you get your target. But that's all it was, fun. Also, I have since then boasted that I can shoot a gun and have hunted with a gun. Not a boast that was rewarded by my NYC intellectual friends, but none the less I understand that it is an ego-booster for women to say I shoot, I've hunted. But, so what? No doubt there are arguments out there in support of gun ownership I would agree with, but most arguments support the position that shooting guns is fun and people feel they have a right to have fun with their guns. If GUN-FUN is the main argument for having guns available to anyone who really wants one, it is a pathetic, self-indulgent excuse for sustaining the current tolerance for ineffective gun control.

  171. The irony is that many young men in the inner city are forbidden to have guns, yet are the ones who actually need personal protection on a day to day basis. Don't hear the NRA types coming to their defense though.

  172. And your fear of guns would be what? irrational, psychotic? Fear the criminal, fear the crime not the inanimate object.
    Oh wait, laws stop actions that's why we live in a crime free, corruption free society.

  173. Like most non shooters you missed the point of the 2d Amendment.

    The entire Bill of Rights is intended as a restraining order on the Federal Government. The purpose is insure that "We the People" retain our sovereign rights and that our elected representatives remain civil servants. The 2d Amendment is the ultimate check on those that come to think of themselves as civil masters. Robert A. Heinlein wrote that "power should lay wrapped around a leaders neck like a noose, in order that he be reminded of the consequences."

    There are those claim the founders did not considered automatic weapons when they wrote the amendment. They are correct. Had they foreseen these weapons they most certainly would have included them. Remember these are men who had fought the British with Brown Bess muskets, purchased by the soldiers and privately own cannons. They most certainly would have included the "assault weapon" as part of the "right to bear arms."

    There are those that claim that the private citizen cannot hope to stand up to the might of the modern Army with its M1a2 Abrams MBT. That is true. Yet the modern militiaman can stand as a reminder to the soldier in the tank that he took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution" not to the Commander-in-Chief. Especially not to a President who "won" and election where an estimated 30% of the military voters were disenfranchised.

    The gun is a great equalizer. Rapists should remember that. As should elected politicians.

  174. Knowing what guns are and having the right to own one helps me feel that I am not helpless. Being told that I might not have that right makes me feel that I am being rendered far more helpless than I was previously.
    In my case, the threat has been from animals. I protect myself by shooting near them, not at them. I've tried other means of scaring them away, but they don't work. Nothing works like the sound of gunpowder exploding!

  175. The advent of nuclear weapons makes this purpose of the 2nd amendment meaningless. We will never have access to the same weapons that the government has because we will never be able to possess nuclear weapons (for good reason)

    Maybe this should be more of a concern among the 2nd amendment defenders.

  176. Canis, does the woman with a gun draw and shoot the man who she really, really believes is about to rape her? Does she have to wait until he tells her his intentions? Does she shoot as soon as she sees his hand moving toward his zipper? Or perhaps it's best if she carries a bunch of cards with her -- printed with a Warning to Rapists -- and hands them out to every guy coming too close.

    And of course we should all make sure our local politicians know we're armed and ready to kill if they're thinking of making a move on us.

  177. Frankly, I'd like to know how many deer are killed in the United States each year compared to people. That's the only statistic that matters to me when debating any issues related to guns.

  178. 3 or 4 orders of magnitude

  179. Between gun psychosis and religious psychosis, America doesn't have a prayer of much forward progress.

    Guns and Jesus on the brain is not a recipe for solving problems in a modern, complicated world.

    "Slippery slope" is a cop out that simply belies paranoia, distorted insecurity, and a lack of compassion for the majority of Americans who would like to avoid being shot with one of America's record 300 million guns.

    No one needs a Bushmaster assault rifle in civilian life and they should be banned the way nuclear bombs and plutonium are banned because they are extremely DANGEROUS.

    If the gun rights people want to ramp up mental health facilities to shrink gun violence, that's fine, but then get ready for pay more taxes to to pay for it.

    But we all know the gun rights people are not the kind of folks who enjoy paying taxes for any reason.

    Besides, it is impossible to manage all of the mental imbalance that exists in society, and it is much easier and much cheaper to perform background checks on 100% of gun buyers and to ban semi-automatic and automatic murder weapons.

    Americans want common sense solutions and the gun psychotics are holding us down, pulling us down their own slippery slope of preventable murders and suicides, leading the modern world in the gun death rate so they can enjoy their murder the next senseless gun massacre can happen again today or tomorrow as a shining tribute to gun owner and gun psychotic rights.

    What a psychotic country.

  180. Reasonable and sane regulation of guns is a slippery slope, but where we have come since the days of muskets and hunting rifles is not a slippery slope? I see this the same way as I see religion in America. It used to be a small group of smart men and sportsmen who liked guns and knew how to use them. Now it has almost become a safety requirement to own one. And religion used to be quiet and gentle, and it has become a freak show of insincere and bawdy and very public belief. They can have both. I'd rather get shot and go to hell then to live like that.

  181. It is your privilege to choose to be a victim of those who would do you or your family harm if you wish. Your impulse is a noble one, but historically has not been conducive to long life. Many of us choose otherwise, and will not be in that category. We fear no man, and no men. We are truly free.

  182. Well, Joe - glad you gave it a try. Shooting is enjoyable and the range time practice improves safety as well as skill. If you had served in our armed forces, you would have gotten those skills donated by our government and you might also have had better insight why many of us realize, as your friends do, that firearms do "equalize". An olympic weightlifter can't impose his will on a 5 foot zero lady if she's armed. Likewise, your homes and neighborhoods are well-protected against MS13 gangs or flash mobs or home invaders if there are a couple of well-trained ("well regulated" in the 18th Century meaning) AR-15 owners nearby to help. The ideal future would be a society free of criminals and violence where target shooting, collecting, and hunting were the only use for personal firearms but this isn't the future yet. We still need firearms as our last measure of protection. Ask Mayor Bloomberg - he has armed protection, doesn't he?

  183. You think "well regulated" means "well-trained?" How absurd.

    Any olympic weightlifter can impose his will on a small woman if he should care to -- unless she's walking around with a gun ready to fire at anyone near who she thinks might be about to make a ove on her.

    And the picture of a home being saved from those gangs of invaders by the plucky, well-armed, well-trained AR-15 owners next door has me you-know-whatting in my panties. (Everyone on my street is old, creaky, and gunless; and they don't even like me, so probably wouldn't come to my rescue anyway.)

  184. Your worldview is disturbing. We don't live in Gotham City, violence has steadily decreased over the past 20 years and you're much more likely to die in a car accident or from heart failure than from a violent attack.

    Maybe the problem isn't gun ownership but this paranoid attitude that everybody beyond our own block is a murderer or a rapist.

    And by the way, I'm from an inner city neighborhood where we have a couple hundred murders each year and I've never been afraid to go outside, even at night, and never have been robbed or attacked.

    1) MS-13 targets other gangs who infiltrate their territory, not everyday citizens (it would bring too much heat their way if they did)
    Gang culture is a lot more complex and sophisticated than average thugs roaming the streets (again, we're not in a Batman movie!)

    2) Flash mobs are crowds of people who coordinate interesting and fun activities, usually in cities (such as a large group performing the same dance in public)
    Why do you need to protect yourself against 200 people doing the Gangnam Style dance with automatic weapons?

    3) Home invasions do happen, true, but again do you really need an automatic weapon to protect yourself against a home invader? Seems like a shotgun would do the trick (hasn't failed in the past) and no one is threatening to take your shotgun (in fact, Biden owns one himself)

  185. It's only the "great equalizer" if you both have a gun. What happens when it is so easy and so prevalent for concealed carry no questions asked, the rest of us, who don't want to walk around with a gun on our hip, have to assume that anyone we interact with might have a gun on their hip. How does the dynamic change when you have a disagreement with someone who has a gun and you don't? Pretty soon, in some states, you may not feel safe NOT carrying a gun, effectively having lost your right to not need one. I know you see this as some sort of utopia. The rest of us, the majority who don't want to cart a gun around, see it as something quite different.


  186. How long will it be until our gun culture begins to keep foreign tourists from vising the State of Kentucky (and other gun ridden areas) due to their liberal gun laws? That's already happening here in Chicago.

    Hell, how long will it be before we Americans stop frequenting our movie theaters, malls, churches, and schools because concealed carry laws leave us feeling skittish?

    As consumers, we hold the power of the purse - we vote with our feet. Cancelled conventions hurt local economies. Don't feel safe at the Metroplex? Stay home.

    One piece of the puzzle: At the very least, gun owners should be required to carry liability insurance. The proceeds from such insurance should fund the devastation that follows in the wake of gun ownership.

    Guns are a 21st century plague - stay away from them - the damage they inflict is contagious - and expensive - and lethal. Lethal for humans as well as economies.

  187. Do you have some information that Kentucky is afflicted with frequent attacks on visitors?

  188. I am an American ex-pat, As a child on the East coast I went to gun ranges where we learned to shoot as a sport. There, the NRA provided structure & rules. At that time I had to pass a test before even going on the range, I can still remember some of the answers. "A .22 caliber bullet can go through 9 inches of ordinary wood." Then we started with a .22; NOT a semi automatic. While there I saw kids who hunted with family, who had family in the military, and those who just liked guns - liked them a lot. Even though they were adolescents like me, with the same difficulty in understanding long term consequences and the hormones that all teens have.

    Now I have kids and I would never EVER have a gun in my home, I teach them what I learned at 12, taught by a then, more moderate NRA. What is the purpose of a gun or bullet? To put a hole in someone. That's it. The sole purpose, reason for a gun is to put a whole in a person, animal or thing. How does putting a hole in a person contribute to our society as a whole? Does it make us safer? No - we have killed more of ourselves with guns in the last year than terrorists have in several. I am still more likely to be injured in a car accident than by an attack in my home. Moreover, my children are more likely to injure themselves with a gun than I am likely to be assaulted and need my gun. So what does it add? How does it contribute? It doesn't. It just makes holes in all of us, especially after an event like Newtown.

  189. The most telling part of the article is Joe's reference to felling like a teenage boy buying a condom. If shooting a gun is reminiscent of a first sexual experience then any attempt at real control is fruitless.

  190. Simply by the nature of so many anti-2cd Amendment gun control advocates using the media driven term "assault weapon" illustrates why there is indeed a slippery slope.
    Firearms can be classifed into three categories, rifles, shotguns, & handguns. &can further divided into two classes of operations, manual loading & self loading, known as semi-automatic.
    "machine guns" have been unlawful to own since 1934 except with special permission & license from the U.S. Treasury.
    The frenzy over "large capacity magazine clips" and the seeming reasonableness of the argument is the slippery slope. The premise that some magic number of cartridges in a magazine (a clip is not a magazine & a magazine is not a clip) will prevent or limit the #of defenseless, frightened individuals a maniac can kill.
    The claims the 2cd only allows muzzleloaders ignores the reality they were the only type of firearm that existed.
    The "powerful modern weapons" argument is really an argument against semi-autos first developed in 1895 & same principal in use today.
    The arguments regarding the meaning and definition of millitia are equally biased to interpretation. The Constitution recognizes rights, it does not establish them, and self defense is per-eminent.
    The argument of lethality is the slippery slope, regardless of the type of gun, the first shot is just as quick & just as deadly.
    Any registration scheme is a de facto confiscation list. The grail of control only provides the illusion of safety.

  191. Extremely well stated, sir. Sadly, it will not change one anti-gunner mind--these types mostly live in a world of their own invention, one where perfection is achievable if only enough government control is mandated. They are, as the saying goes, forging the links to their own enslavement when they insist on being defenseless.

  192. Thank you for your clarifications.
    I have a question.
    In the final sentence, are you referring to the move to control guns via the government, or to those individuals who are moved to own a gun for safety?

  193. Mr. Bentley, I presume you have a collection of guns to protect you from being enslaved by our government. I wonder, though, if you've ever read -- or even heard of -- Thomas Hobbes.

  194. Nobody is going to ban guns, any more than anyone is going to ban nuclear or biological weapons. As a result, the human race is probably doomed--murder is in our DNA, and our self-extinction is simply a matter of time. What is the next topic, please?

  195. The day of the gun is long over - posseesion of side arms and automatic weapons should be probiited and punished much llike treason used to be

    it is well know you get more game with single shot weapons and use much less ammunition and they are much safer for target practice

    do like Australia and have the government buy them

  196. No disrepect to your friend, Mr. Nocera, but no "newbie" should be introduced to firearms by firing a handgun first. Long guns, preferably a single shot .22 rifle, are best for initial instruction. Even more disturbing, what would possess anyone to teach you to fire at a target that appears human? The first rule of firearms safety is "Never point a firearm at anything you don't intend to shoot." Given we have moral and legal strictures against shooting other humans, why use that target? In more practical terms, shooting at a big target is a lousy way to learn proper firearms control and accuracy. Sadly, your introduction to firearms via handguns and a human outline target tells us far more about what's wrong with our national attitudes toward firearms than any of the issues you discuss explicitly.

  197. Guns are deadly weapons. I want to know who has a gun. I want to know where they keep it. If my children are in their home or riding in their car and there are guns present, I want to keep my kids away from them. I want guns to be taken out of the hands of gang bangers, the primary victims of gun crime. I do not want to be stuck with the insane level of violence in this country, because some middle class matron in Kentucky, thinks guns are the great equalizer.

  198. Lisa, You live in a culture founded at the point of a gun, built upon slavery and eager and willing to destroy whatever gets in the way of whatever it wants. It contains about 315,000,000 people. A lot of bad things are going to happen in that large a sampling of humanity.

    Removing guns from the hands of people who appreciate the exercise of violence to get what they want will not reduce their violent impulses. What it will curtail is your ability to counter them when they come after you or yours. The woman from Kentucky is right. Armed, the odds are much more on her side. Part of freedom is the freedom from fear.

  199. So are cars, knives, hammers and people and most people have at least one of these. Do you know where all of these are in your neighborhood? At least with firearms their purpose is clear, the remainder are like the terrorist, they hide in plain sight until they strike.
    Do you keep your kids away from them also? No, of course not, because you are too busy minding others business. Next time you complain about firearms deaths, remember that the car you ride in is responsible for far more deaths as is the medical profession with their mantra, "above all do no harm".
    Being hypocritical is quite easy, it's like religion.....blind faith in correctness in the absence of fact.

  200. N. Ray, my fear is of people who are armed with a gun, as I suppose you are. My fear is that I will be nearby when you decide to start shooting at someome you believe is coming after you and yours.

    You, in other words, are threatening my freedom.

  201. A well written and thoughtful column, although it would be nice to see a member of the press learn the difference between a bullet and a cartridge.

    The debate in this country is between a lot of self-righteous people (mostly urban dwellers) who think guns are per se evil - something no right thinking person could support - and a very large number of people whose life style in one way or another revolves around hunting, shooting sports and collecting. To even suggest to gun owners that their lifestyle will be curtailed and valuable assets put at risk of confiscation leads to a frenzy of gun buying and swells the membership rolls of the NRA. Citing a list of pro-gun Congressmen who now support controls is a shame as they are all Democrats who were abandoned during the election by the NRA's support of the GOP's positions on a host of issues having nothing to do with guns. Otherwise nothing has changed on either side.

    The result is to render compromise impossible and reasonable restrictions politically unachievable. The list of "doable" controls mooted by the White House are just as illusory and fraudulent as the expired assault rifle ban. How do you effectively restrict cheap high capacity magazines when billions are out their already and how do you manage to enforce background checks on private sales of unregistered longarms?

  202. I disagree with how you frame the debate. On one side are people who are made sick at heart by the number of people killed by guns each year and who would like to try to do something about it. Is it unreasonable to be moved by the deaths that guns cause in this country?

  203. I'm happy Mr. Hanson's wife came away from her incident on the hiking trail unharmed. Her experience, however, is a single example and far from enough evidence on which to base national policy; I'm sure there are others that are similar, but I doubt they total more than a tiny percentage of the 30,000+ gun deaths a year in America.

    Similarly, his friend's suggestion of judo in place of a gun is clueless, but that doesn't mean every alternative is clueless.

    I fail to see why we cannot ban the further sale of assault weapons (while leaving those already legally owned in place), ban high capacity clips, ban the transfer of both (you want to sell yours? the police will buy them), require owners of legally owned guns to report lost and stolen weapons, and put into place the various background check systems most everyone agrees should be in force.

    Nothing I've suggested would take 1 gun from anyone's hands. We'd simply stop promoting their presence in America. Mr. Hanson's wife would have been just as safe with a gun with 4 bullets – I highly doubt she announced that she had a high capacity clip – and after a few years it'd be less likely (no, not impossible) that the guy who confronted her would also have a gun.

    The slippery slope Gina Bigler refers to in Nocera's article is a red herring. We license and control any number of objects and activities in America, including constitutional rights. It's time we applied 21st century logic to this.

  204. Two things I don't understand. This first is, how those who fear a "slippery slope" reconcile themselves to the universally accepted controls and limitations already in place even in the most libertarian parts of the country (I don't think even a citizen of Montana is permitted to own a long-range artillery piece). The other is why, guns being (as they have been known to be since they were invented) "equalizers", anyone feels owning and shooting guns enhances his masculinity. Skill with a sword or a lance, or even a bow and arrow, I can understand. But the weakest person in the world, as long as he or she has good eyesight and a steady hand, can shoot a gun as effectively as the strongest, manliest, most agile young athlete. You'd think macho men would sneer at guns as weapons for the feeble and unmanly.

  205. My dad taught my brothers and me to shoot and to care for guns around the same time we were learning to read in school. This was back in the 1950s. I occasionally fired guns up into the early 1960s—target practice, hunting sometimes. I have't fired one since then nor do I expect ever to do so again.

    I don't regret learning about guns, perhaps it is true that everyone should do so. But I truly don't understand what the big deal is. I just don't get the whole “pro-gun” mentality. Maybe it's like reality TV or competitive sports, just two of the other things whose immense popularity I am destined never to understand.

  206. I would love for Gena Bigler to try and describe how that "slippery slope" would work. How exactly would it come to pass that her beloved, empowering handgun would be banned because of a ban on assault weapons? The steps required would be so improbable as to sound ridiculous. But still, we wouldn't want to take even that remote chance, would we, Gena? Because your right to own a handgun is so much more important than my right to protect my kids from maniacs who want to own assault weapons. Do you ever think about how your point of view might sound to a mother of one of the Newtown Kindergartners?

  207. I have never fired a gun; I didn't know it looked/felt like this. I knew there were so-called "firing ranges" where people went to practice, but I had some vague notion of bulls-eye targets (the round kind with red rings) and maybe rubber bullets. I am deeply disturbed by this op-ed -- and wonder what readers from other places will think of Americans, who spend their free time (and money) driving to special places where they can fantasize about killing people. .

  208. Most people who have ever shot a gun, even those who never intend to own one or use one even to hunt, know that it's fun. The same kind of fun that the Olympic shooting sports must be, but a little more thrilling. This is not the issue.

    The issue is why anyone has a problem with strict background checks for anyone who wants to own a gun, accompanied by very strict controls on the gun trade (otherwise the background checks wouldn't make any difference). 30 or 40 times a year, along with several million of my fellow citizens, I am forced - hopping on one foot and struggling with coat, computer, liquid items, kids and so on - to take my SHOES off in public and walk in socks through a small portal, only because a single numb-witted yabbo walked onto an airplane a few years ago with some gunpowder in his shoe sole. Why then is it so hard for a normal, honest person who wants to buy or trade a gun to endure a little inconvenience?

    I realize of course that still "outlaws could get guns". But outlaws can get on airlines still too. It's just a lot harder.

  209. Thom Hartmann had a wonderfully instructive piece yesterday about the second amendment, and specifically about the phrase "a well regulated militia" and what it meant to the framers.

    James Madison and Patrick Henry had a spirited discussion about how to protect the "rights" of the southern militias, and how to word the second amendment to keep the northerners from neutering them. You see the southern militias were formed to keep slaves in line. Virginia had laws that the militias were required to conduct monthly inspections of slave quarters to insure they had no arms.

    The entire discussion was about slavery and how to protect the institution against the non slave holding states. Those southern militias became the KKK post civil war.

    We are now having a national discussion about how to protect the KKK's right to bear semi-automatic assault weapons with 100 round magazines. Let's educate our children about that.

  210. While in Japan over the holidays visiting my wife's family, the topic of the Newtown slaughter came up a number of times. "Over here, only police and the military have guns", my brother-in law stated. "That's enough". I was then reminded that the provision in the law limiting firearms in this way was, in fact, authored by...the United States. "Why does your country allow this to happen (massacre of innocent people) over and over; doesn't it bother you especially when even children can be murdered"? As actions speak louder than words, I had nothing to say.
    What does it say about America that we are not willing or able to end the madness?

  211. I wish that we could get passed the whole "confiscate guns" idea on both sides. I feel that the horse is already out of the barn. There are simply too many guns out there.

    However, I feel very strongly that if your want to exercise the right to bear arms then your should accept the responsibility. That means proving competency in the handling, maintenance and storage of your weapon(s) (a license and training). Registering your weapon(s) with an appropriate authority for tracking in case your weapon(s) get stolen (just like we do for vehicles). Finally, proving financial responsibility for the damage that you may cause with your weapon(s), in other words liability insurance.

    There's lots of lip service being paid to "personal responsibility", well now is the time to step up to the plate and put your money where your mouth is. You may have the right to bear arms, I certainly have the right to live without fear of getting shot in a civil society.

  212. Thanks Joe for at least reporting your friends assertion that the gun is the great equalizer.

    I think even without the 2nd amendment we would all agree that we each have an inalienable right to self-defense.

    Do you agree that every person should have the right to defend themselves with deadly force if necessary?

  213. You just might have the right to defend yourself with deadly force, Shawn, but then you'd have to be faster and more accurate with your gun than the guy who's threatening you.

    Joe's friend who thinks her gun is "the great equalizer" appears to not have considered that she'd only be equal if the other gunslinger she was facing had the exact same capability as she.

  214. I own guns, I have been around guns and weapons for almost my entire life, I served in the Marines in the mid-60's and obviously there are lots of guns in the I do know a few things about guns. But what I don't understand is the completely delusional folk tale rubbish put out by the NRA and our fantasy warrior culture that seems to so dominate the screeching din that comes from the fearful white mass of what we affectional now refer to as: "gun nuts". I also do not understand how these same loud, demanding, 2nd amentdment, noise making folks can so completely misread, and misunderstand the second amendment....they seem universally unable to take the time to read the opening sentence of that amendment, let alone understand what it says. I do not understand why it seems this group also so fears our own government that we regularly hear the din of their white noise about how they need all their guns to protect, what they alone seem claim to understand; which is the true meaning of our constitution, and of course if any sort of limit to rational gun control is introduced well, it's becasue the government is coming to take their guns and imprision us all in some godless socialist gulag. I also feel our gun crazy culture is completely infused with good old garden variety racism....why else would there be such a rush to the gun shops each and everytime there is a presidential election or each time the president says anything about gun regulation. It is just NUTS !

  215. After talking to many "gun-enthusiasts" and hearing their reasons for owning a gun, an instrument whose only purpose is to harm and kill a living creature, I found it extremely frightening to see that almost all of them are driven by an unreasonable fear of "the others" which seems to make them paranoid or by a misplaced sense of power that the ability to kill, if they wished to do so, gives them. Yes, let's talk about mental health: the mental health of gun owners and "gun-enthusiasts".

  216. Especially, let's talk about those gun enthusiasts who see nothing peculiar in shooting for fun at human-shaped targets.

    Are there also paper targets in that look like bunny rabbits? Baby birds? Or kindergartners?

  217. I am a liberal intellectual, for gun regulations etc. Yet shooting Kalashnikov was one of the sweetest experiences. It's a very simple device. With a slight movement of your finger, a loud boom-boom-boom, you see a target 500 yrs away falling down (you can also see tracer bullets even at day light).

    What I mean to say: this is a part of education of what guns can do. It takes away the romantic part of killing. Like a vaccine. Recall, vaccine is a disease, but in a weak form that makes you immune to the deadly variants of a disease. Shooting guns at a shooting range can prevent people from shooting at schools.

    But surely Kalashnikovs do not belong to the streets.

  218. Not your average Joe, I can say that about you. Not many would take the time & effort to experience shooting a gun before writing a column. Guns do create a sense of power, no doubt about it, They also create a false sense of security, few people who own are fully trained in close quarter, closed tactics used in successfully defeating an intruder or multiple intruders. I assure the average person marginally trained is shooting, an athletic, adreniline laced young man will probably get his hands, or weapon upon you before you've killed him. If that happens you are sure to be killed. Better to have preplanned escape routes out of a home than think you can be some kind of superhero with a gun. Unless of course you're ready willing and able to shoot a shotgun close quarters, collateral damage be darned. The notion that fight over flight is always preferable is half the problem. Everything is ones home should be insured, your life may be insured medically, and in death, but it does not excuse being stupid. First thing you learn in martial arts when you have a great teacher, is aviod confrontation at all costs, only when all those efforts are exhausted is it time to fight.

  219. I had a boyfriend in high school in Ohio whose dad owned a few rifles, and he let me use one of them to shoot at cans outside his dad's house. It kicked back, which was supposedly normal, but I didn't like the adrenaline surge I felt after I pulled the trigger. I actually impressed my boyfriend with my aim, but our relationship didn't last. I would give him pictures of deer I took on a vacation in Washington state before he would go deer hunting with his dad. His dad didn't approve of me because of this.

    A year later, another friend of mine had a younger brother who shot himself with his dad's rifle because he didn't make straight As that semester.

    I don't think gun is an equalizer. In fact, it makes you more powerful against others, as we've seen time and time again.

  220. For all the "from my cold dead hands" bluster, for all the (legitimate) use of guns for self defense, for all the us of guns for hunting, there is the fact that shooting is just a lot of fun!

    Whether it's turning a clay target into a cloud of orange dust, the "bong" of a steel target, or punching holes in paper at 600 yards at Camp Perry, the reason gun ownership is so popular isn't politics -- it's recreation. And good on 'em!

  221. Fascinating to read the many comments from 2nd amendment experts, original intent adherents, and gun right advocates. Maybe one of you could help me.

    The first clause of the amendment specifies "a well regulated militia." Next it calls for "security of a free state." And finally it gets to the no infringement part that everyone is so keen on.

    How does this wording forbid regulation intended to promote security?

  222. Dear Mr Nocera,

    I agree with your friends in KT. I don't see prohibition as a solution to this problem. Even for weapons like the Kriss Vectror. In the wake of Sandyhook and the tens of thousands of shooting deaths every year, strict regulation, training, licences, centralized background checks, firearm insurance, etc. would make sense. But because Congress and many state legislatures are controlled by lunatic political party, we shouldn't hold our breath...

  223. I like the requirement in Australia where you have to have 2 people affirm that you are fit to own a firearm. This should be part of any gun regulation in the U.S., along with background checks, etc. What I don't like are the hysterical gun owners who are afraid of regulation. They can't get behind the wheel of a car legally without following regulations.

  224. From your article I guess you learned more about the culture, not the weapon. That is ok. They are not one in same. Hope that makes sense.
    "Blast away" is a suggestion some among us have taken to heart. In a theater, a classroom, an army dining hall, stock brokers office, a drive by, you name it.
    The GUN will always be available. The means of firing more than necessary must be limited, and soon. Revenge is in our air and we are not out of the woods as yet. Patriotism is the excuse too often offered, but it is paranoia of something that isn't going to happen. We do know that, and so does Wayne LaPieere! He depends on ignorance!
    I am a gun owner, but don't feel it necessary to be on guard 24/7, as I sure the next step for these new gun owners is to assign family members to their watch. My guns are put away because the hunting season is pretty much done, and there they will stay, well oiled and locked until next season..

  225. I think that your friend Gina's views are a perfect example of our problem. Guns for hunting or self defense are good; military grade automatic guns are bad, and no citizen needs one or should have one... except... for the lie of the slippery slope.
    Most gun owners I know, myself included, agree with Gina about the availability of the weapons. If not for the fear of the slippery slope, they would all be for the type of restrictions most of the rest of us see as common sense.
    Thank the NRA for that one. LaPierre et al have done a masterful job at manipulating, through fear, in order to increase gun and ammo sales.
    My local WalMart is out of all 9mm and larger rounds, and has been for weeks. Who wouldn't like sales volumes like that? It's not about freedom, it's really not.
    It's capitalism, pure and simple, and effectively executed.
    Unlike the wall street guys, they're not stealing from us to make themselves rich.
    Unlike the energy guys, they're not poisoning the neighborhood to make themselves rich.
    Unlike the food guys, they're not slowly poisoning us to make themselves rich.
    They're just 'defending the constitution' by making sure they can 'make a killing' on the killing of our children, making themselves rich.
    They're exceptionally good at it, wouldn't you say?
    We should be better than this.

  226. We need mandatory liability insurance for gun owners and proof that the guns cannot be operated by no one other than registered owners--a personal gun lock that senses fingerprints.

  227. Most of the comments here are reasonable and sane and intelligent. Now, if we want something done, write our legislators, attend public meetings on gun control. Let's do something.

    For my two cents, I demand a categorical and retroactive ban on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, hollow point bullets, liability insurance for gun owners as well as licensing, and lastly a buy back program.

  228. Most comments here are, in fact, not "reasonable and sane and intelligent." l In fact, many appear to be based on beliefs that manifestly are not true, such as that a ban on "assault weapons, high capacity magazines, [and] hollow point bullets" would significantly affect the gun murder rate. These measures would not greatly affect even mass murders, except by reducing the horror factor.

    The lack of analysis this and similar posts exhibit is quite appalling. Four of the fairly recent memorable mass shootings (Tucson, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Oak Creek, WI) were done with pistols. Of 17 U. S. school massacres listed in Wikipedia, at most 6 used guns that most of the posters here would describe as assault weapons. The most common guns used were semiautomatic pistols. I don't claim Wikipedia as a definitive source, but it's a start. Few who have written about this, including professional reporters and our elected leaders, appear to have made even that small effort.

    If you are going after guns to reduce school and other rampage shootings, you had best take them all, and be honest about it.

  229. I live in a state, Montana, with a very high rate of gun ownership. Though the suicide rate is high, largely due to a high rate of depression and isolation, the homicide rate is low. Attitude has a lot to do with how guns get used. Human shaped targets cannot be sold in the state, nor used at ranges.

  230. Non-gun owners also have rights: the right to be safe from gun violence. It's time politicians started paying attention to those rights.

  231. Arming teachers is a logical next step, but they are under a lot or pressure already and it is only a matter of time until one snaps and massacres a class full of children, so we might as well kill two birds with one stone so to speak, and start training them as well. I know there will be people who say, for instance, that kindergartners are too young to handle guns and be trusted with them, and there may be some truth to that, but imagine the outcry if a whole roomful of 5 year old innocents, unarmed and helpless, were murdered by a deranged teacher. - and what about day care centers? Can a 2 or 3 year old handle a weapon? We'll see. - I guess we'd have to be careful to explain that they must never shoot the teacher.

  232. If the power of the NRA comes from convincing our Congress that only those politicians who fully support the NRA's position on gun rights will be re-elected, maybe it is time to form another group who will tell politicians that only those who support common sense gun control will be re-elected. NRA membership is approximately 4 million, many of whom would support a ban on assault weapons and limits on sales of high capacity ammunition. Surely there are at least 5 million citizens who would join and support a group in favor of common sense limits on gun ownership - the NGSA (National Gun Safety Association).

  233. hear hear. best idea i've hear in this whole debate.

  234. To say that guns are "The Great Equalizer" is surely a sick joke for many of us living in urban areas. Guns don't "equalize" relationships, they give one person the power of life and death over another person -- often by surprise, stealth and deceit. They may have had a leveling effect back in the frontier/Wild West days, but to say that now is ludicrous. The whole point of having a gun for many people is being able to make another person do what you want them to do, on threat of instant death or disfigurement. Just ask the thousands of gun-toting young men walking the streets of our big cities if that ain't so!

  235. Once guns capable of shooting five or six times without reloading became available, the balance of power on the American plains shifted from the Comanches to the US Cavalry and the Texas Rangers. Far from being equalizers, they completely changed the equation. A similar shift occurs with guns capable of firing very rapidly 30 times or more without reloading: fragile, troubled kids who have often been on the receiving end of abuse all their lives are empowered to end many lives in a bloody flurry of farewell.

    Certainly we need to do much more to stop bullying and neglect and to help people with mental health problems. Until we achieve great improvements in those areas, we need to restrict access to the overwhelming power of semi-automatic and assault-style weapons so that schools, churches, malls, theatres, Ft. Hood, and every public place is less threatened by sudden deadly violence.

  236. Gena sounds like a nice girl but I guess she believes that the recent small increase in tax rate on the rich is a slippery slope soon to result in total confiscation of all income of the 2%. This all or nothing view is a ridiculous impediment to reasonable gun control. It is like saying licensing autos and drivers will lead to auto confiscation by our government.

  237. If we cannot enact stricter gun and ammunition laws, then let us at least tax gun ownership to recoup the costs imposed on society. These costs include at a minimum the charity care hospitals provide gunshot victims, suicide and homicide social costs, and the added security burdens for protecting against a more heavily armed population. Let us place these costs with their originators and let the market decide.

    Certainly the Right would not propose that we continue to subsidize gun ownership.

  238. Yes, without doubt the assets of non-gunowners are appropriated to meet the multiple $billions of social costs of subsidizing the insurrectionists who say they need to guns to repel tax collectors, here in America the Insane.

  239. No. They'd just say "No new taxes!"

  240. I've known two teenagers who used guns with disastrous results. Both males, one killed himself, the other seriously wounded someone in the family. Both guns were legally obtained and owned by their parents. Both teenagers fell into that very broad category of mental illness, one mildly depressed, the other being psychotic. Both were receiving treatment. Both got their hands on the guns without their parents' awareness. Both guns were unsecured. We know that numerous gun tragedies occur in families yearly when family guns are not secured.
    Before jumping to conclude that because of incidents like this, guns or certain kinds of guns should be banned, how many parents with concern about their child having a mental health issue make strenuous efforts to secure their guns so that the child has no access? How often are public health campaigns conducted to promote gun safety within the home? Is there reluctance to do so inasmuch as it may legitimize gun ownership? Is it likely that one kind of gun control will meet with universal approval, that which occurs in the home?

  241. I believe you must have your eyes closed. Warnings about keeping guns safe in the home are everywhere, except where gun advocates fight them as being restrictions on their right to freely carry arms...

  242. When I consider the whole gun issue, all I can conclude is that we are degenerating as a species. Unfortunately, the evidence is overwhelming.

  243. Guns reduce the barrier to killing. In China, psychopaths have to kill children with knives because guns are not available. As best we can tell, there are many fewer massacres of children in China than the US. Most of the American massacres involve socially isolated, angry young men, apparently sick of their isolated lives who intend to inflict great damage then either be killed or, more often, kill themselves. In body armor, with the advantage of surprise, highly lethal assault weapons and taped clips capable of up to 100 rounds they ruthlessly end the lives of children. By their dress and weapons they are maximally prepared for their mission. School guards would be the first to go.
    In many ways, they resemble Kamikazes. A WWII Japanese pilot without his plane was nothing. With a 5,000 lb. plane, a 500 pound bomb, crashing through flight decks at 350 knots, the Japanese pilot controlled a terrifying, highly effective killing combination. The heavily armed psychopathic killers of children differ from the Kamikaze only in motivation. The Japanese pilot sought to end the crushing blows of American Navy to his homeland, the psychopath seeks to ruthlessly end children's lives as he ends his own miserable existence.
    All the mental health care that we are unwilling fund, will not find and end this threat. It is far too pervasive in our isolated, often jobless society. Removing the assault weapons, pistols and rifles, is the only way to protect children at school.

  244. Life is full of slippery slopes. What intelligent individuals do is accept that in order to have a balanced approach to issues, black and white can't be on the table. People who insist that assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are essential to the right to own firearms have lost perspective and resort to simplistic responses. Slippery slope is one of them.

    Eclectic Pragmatist —

  245. I just read that the sale of guns is going up before new controls are legislated. One man said he wanted a new pistol before any possible prohibition. The degree of paranoia exemplified by this statement is worth noting because no one in his wildest imagination is thinking of prohibiting pistols. How many of these buyers are, so to speak, repeated offenders against common sense. Are they the type that already have five pistols and ten rifles and feel the need for greater protection? Or are they the type that think that the government is going to go after them and they are going to defend themselves by putting mattresses against the window to protect themselves as they shoot at.. what? the Army Reserves, the National Guard, the Marines or a Swat Team that specializes in citizens against the government. The other day, someone commented that we must keep on spending money on defense because "if we don't fight them there we will have to fight them here". I wonder who "them" are. I don't see the Latin-Americans moving up North. We can exclude the Africans and the Indians. I think we can rely on the Europeans not to bother us. Who is next? The Russians? They couldn't handle the Afghani when Russia was more inclined to military adventures. We don't think the Japanese have any bad intentions. The Chinese have long ago decided that winning markets is less costly than military conquests. So, against whom are they accumulating their weapons? Themselves?

  246. The most important sentence from this article was the quote from the gun store owner; "People have rights."

    The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution. The framers added the words "shall not be infringed." That phrase has a very specific meaning. The meaning hasn't changed since 1791.

    No government, no matter how benevolent, has the legitimate power to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

  247. My second comment (now that I have my contact lenses in place): I, a gun owner, am heartened to see that many other gun owners who have written here are at least as upset with the NRA as am I. If there is a conspiracy afoot, it's to prevent the dissemination of verifiable data on all sides of the gun issue. Nowhere in NRA literature is there EVER a balanced presentation of relevant issues. Nowhere.

    At the same time the NRA and its affiliates on the Hill have consistently prevented the accumulation and use of data and related statistics that just might, given careful analysis, present a coherent picture of which laws, regulations, and programs have resulted in a safer and less violent society. To a large extent they've allowed regulations that actually prevent the collection of such statistics.

    The "gun rights" thing is mad. Gun ownership should be a privilege allowed only to those who have (somehow) demonstrated the required sense, qualifications, stability, etc., that one associates with such responsibility.

  248. Dave, at Bud's Gun Shop, thought the problem was mental health care, not gun's. "People have rights,"

    It was the Reagan administration that changed laws that put mentally ill people onto the streets in droves in the 80's. The administration also took money away from the study of their problems. Both actions ultimately took the focus off of what we thought of effects of mental illness on society as a whole. This was done under the semblance of "People have rights."

    It was the Brady Bill, supported by the Reagan's, that instituted the first assault weapons ban. In other words Reagan believed people shouldn't have that right.

    I'd like to hear what the conservatives think of this dichotomy when they talk smack about the Obama administration take on this important issue.