Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

The "elephant" in the room of gun talk

Happy New Year. This wonderful poem struck me as a good way to start out the new year regarding "gun talk" and gun violence prevention issues. Often the "two" sides of the gun issue are looking past each other or coming at the issue from such divergent perspectives that the conversation gets stuck in irrelevant details, accusations, and circular reasoning leading to nowhere. This poem hits the proverbial nail on the head, in my opinion. Let's take a good look at it:

"It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL.
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!"


How perfect. Happy New Year and looking forward to a 2011 with some coming together about who the elephant really is. In the name of common sense, I hope that fewer people lose their lives to a bullet and fewer families have to suffer pain and grief over a lost loved one. I also hope that common sense about how to prevent senseless shootings will break out in our country.



46 comments:

  1. Joan,

    Nice hope and one I can agree with.

    Do you think that mothers killing their children is also a problem that we should address?

    I realize your focus is on guns jumping up and killing people but is trying to keep parents from killing their kids an effort worthy of some common sense regulations?

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  2. Dear anon- your comment started out so nicely and then so quickly became exactly what I was talking about as the problem. Your first question is totally irrevelant to the conversation and is obviously a "gotcha" and your second is too ridiculous to consider answering. Perhaps you should try sending questions that are honestly seeking answers and not inserting your editorial comments like "jumping up and killing people" which you know I have not said. What are you getting at here? You have an agenda of some kind.

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  3. Hrm -- it looks like Google will let me add a photo to my posts. Let me try doing that to help differentiate from the other poster with the same name. I just added a picture from one of our backpacking trips this year.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  4. Thanks, Chris. As to you other question about education efforts, I have been a part of an effort in Minnesota to get out information about kids and guns. To that effort, we have a brochure on the website of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota or Protect Minnesota. These pamphlets have been distributed in various places. Also most national organizations have a relationship with the ASK campaign which educates parents about asking if there are guns where your children play. We have distributed these posters when we table and at events. Chapters all over the country have done this. In addition, individual chapters of the Brady Campaign have efforts regarding children and gun safety. The Brady Campaign can't do everything and does not have staff to do everything. But other organizations do things like this. you can check it out... http://www.protectmn.org/

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  5. Joan,

    Thanks for sharing!

    I found the brochure on Protect MN (http://www.bradynetwork.org/site/DocServer/protectmnbrochure.pdf?docID=861) and agree with almost all of the material in there.

    Interestingly, if you compare it to the Eddie Eagle website you'll find that both sides are saying basically the same things. Things like: Parents are ultimately responsible for safety; tell children "don't touch/tell an adult/leave the area"; child safety education is just one part of a safety strategy, and is not a silver bullet.

    It seems that we have broad agreement on the actual safety message: You agree, I agree, and NRA and Protect MN are pushing exactly the same safety themes, almost word for word.

    The only real disagreement seems to be over the messenger and the most effective way to deliver the message. You guys don't like NRA providing training for kids. Ok, fine, I get it; while NRA has tried to distance Eddie Eagle from any branding, if the controversy detracts from the safety training then I have no problem with having a neutral third party (say, local law enforcement) deliver the message instead. Don't throw the baby (the safety message that we all support) out with the bathwater (a contorversial messenger).

    Provide safety training to kids and tell the parents too. The more forums you can spread the word in, the better!

    \\

    On the flip side, for some reason all that Citizens for a Safer MN have to say on training is that "NO" it doesn't work (based on one peer-reviewed study and an old VPC article), which seems to undermine the Protect MN message.

    http://www.endgunviolence.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={432128BE-2506-47CB-9985-CC86CE5C6865}&DE={E26D0C31-CDD3-4076-92D9-C6C2C4A29DC2}

    I'd argue that even the one study cited (Hardie) shows that the training provides some limited benefits and certainly doesn't do any harm. Other studies -- including ones from places like the Clinton Administration BOJ -- have found more positive results. None have found that training is hurtful. As one part of a layered safety strategy, training makes sense, which is the context that I think both NRA and Protect MN are advocating.

    If your groups focused more efforts on providing effective firearms safety training & education to parents and children I'd absolutely support that initiative 100%. I think that this is an area of agreement. I think that if you write an actual post about your group's safety efforts it will probably be well received and you will see some of that consensus you are striving for.

    Back to football before half time is over!

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  6. I also want to see a reduction in innocent deaths by any cause.

    But this poem seems to be at odds with your seeming deliberate lack of knowledge of the basic fundamentals of guns. In your position, it makes no sense to not be clear on the difference between semiautomatic and fully automatic, the differences or lack of differences in an acceptable hunting rifle and an unacceptable sniper rifle, or what it is that makes a so-called assault weapon more dangerous than 'ordinary' guns. It makes no sense to say that you don't want to take our guns, but be unable or unwilling to provide a single example of a gun you would not take.

    I do not blindly follow the NRA--I investigate myself, and disagree where appropriate. I would suggest you do the same, and not blindly follow the Brady leadership unquestioningly--or worse, blindly lead based on misleading statements.

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  7. You continue to attack my seeming lack of knowledge about the basic fundamentals of guns. You see, I am not a gun expert. I do not deal with guns on a daily basis nor do I study them or buy them or make them. I don't believe I have said that I don''t know the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic weapon. I surely do know. My words about what you guys have been talking about concerning the D.C. gun laws are not familiar to me. My comments had to do with the ATF's definition, or whosever's it is. I am not familiar with those specifics. I'm done with this one. You keep responding with something I have not said and keep attacking my words. I'm finished with this one. Any further "discussion" is going no where. My words are what they are and not what you want to say they are. Thanks for the advice, however about the Brady Campaign. I have great respect for the people who work there and know many of them. They are advocating for what is right and I have no reason to doubt what they are doing. I know you would love it if you could convince me otherwise. Sorry.

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  8. I don't know that any of us are completely blind on this issue, but certainly our view is distorted by the lenses of our experiences and fears.

    In your case, you only see guns through the horrible tragedy your family experienced and will not accept that others may see them as empowerment, and may have experienced a tragedy because they were NOT empowered.

    One woman who suffered a horrendous tragedy that made her a leading gun advocate is Suzanna Hupp.

    Ms. Hupp's tragedy is just as real and horrifying to her as yours is to you, and her response is just as legitimate. You always want us to learn from your experience, is there anything you can learn from her's?

    She became a leading advocate of concealed carry for civilians, with the simple logic that murderers/criminals/people-gone-insane will not care about gun carrying limitations, so anti-carry laws only affect people like Ms. Hupp and myself. Who would like to be empowered to protect our loved ones (and yours).

    Does that seem like common sense logic to you?

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  9. Yes, I am familiar with her story. She advocated for what she thought was right. I thought this was interesting: "he had left her gun in her car (several months before, she decided in case she got caught and had her chiropractor's license revoked) to comply with Texas state law at the time, which forbade carrying a concealed weapon." I hadn't see that before. I just happen to view it differently than her. Just so you know, my position on the issue of "gun control" and preventing gun injuries and death came long before my sister was murdered. These are long held views of mine. I became more active after her death but would have been advocating for these issues in any event. Do you think Suzanne would like to learn from my experience?

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  10. I think Ms. Hupp, and all of us, learn from experiences such as yours (of personal loss from violence, either domestic or otherwise). I've never lost a close relative to violence (gun or otherwise) but I've had several relatives who suffered from violence. The most horrifying experience was from several decades ago when an older woman relative and her middle aged daughter were brutalized by a man who broke into their house and did things you wouldn't think a human could be capable of. He didn't have a gun, he had a knife, but being a male he had no trouble doing what he wanted. And he was never caught.

    But while I don't want to delve into your own pain and don't know the specifics anyway ... let's talk about a generic woman murdered by her husband with a gun. Since that woman would have been (statistically) lighter and weaker than her husband (and just plain less physically aggressive because she didn't grow up playing football and street fighting)and avoiding him forever was impossible ... if you could travel back in time, what would be the best way to protect that generic woman?

    1. Go back a year or so before her death and get one gun a month, safe storage, mandatory registration, etc. passed? Would that protect her from the violent bastard she mistakenly married?

    2. Or go back a month before her death and give her a handgun and lessons on how to use it? And impart to her the understanding that defending your life IS OK, and an honorable thing to do?

    I know in the case of my female relative, who did physically survive the experience (though she never got past it) passing gun control measures would have done nothing. But a .357 magnum revolver that she knew how to use, and had in a place where she could get to it (as in not "safely stored" and possibly on her person) ... MAN! I wish I could do that. I was much younger when this happened and the whole situation gave me nightmares, so I guess it affected my outlook as well.

    We can't travel back in time, but we can (and are) traveling forward in time. So what will be your legacy to future female victims of violence, domestic or otherwise?

    Making sure that guns are harder to get? And assuming that will make them safer from violent men?

    Or perhaps you should should consider getting involved in one of the many programs, some run by the NRA, that teach women to defend themselves and be empowered, including by guns (though admittedly the tool is just one small piece of that picture)?

    I honestly am moved by what happened to your sister. And Miss Hupp. And my own relative. And all the other stories I read ... but the conclusion I come to is simple, and more and more women agree with it: guns do little to empower violent men, as men have the strength and aggressiveness to do what they've decided to do with or without a gun. But guns DO empower women to defend themselves against men, if they are trained to use them and taught it's OK to have them available.

    I know what I'm going to do for my daughters. I can't make decisions for them when they are adults, either as to what men they pair up with or what weapons they choose to own, but I'm going to make sure they grow up knowing how to use firearms. And that, unless there's a specific reason they shouldn't, they have a gun of their own when they move out of my house.

    Because that's how much I love them. And remember that when you start thinking of the NRA as a nameless bunch of shills for the "gun industry." Because I'm part of the NRA, and I'm not a shill for any industry; I'm a father fighting for the future of his children. That they be empowered as women AND as citizens (I don't think empowerment against domestic abuse is the only reasons an armed citizenry is better than a disarmed one).

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  11. I am not saying you need to be a gun expert. I do think you should know enough to support the specific positions you promote with logic rather than only emotion.

    The problem is that there is a large disconnect between many of your statements of only wanting minor, commonsense restrictions and your unquestioning support for any restriction on guns, no matter how strict.

    Specific examples--you claim that you don't want to take my guns, yet the legislation you support would more than likely take all of them--the DC 'machine gun' law alone would get all but one.

    You cannot bring yourself to object to a law that could imprison someone who was legally carrying a gun on an interstate, then crossed within 1000 feet of a school at 55 miles per hour, with no other objectionable behavior.

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  12. You continue to attack my seeming lack of knowledge about the basic fundamentals of guns. You see, I am not a gun expert. I do not deal with guns on a daily basis nor do I study them or buy them or make them. I don't believe I have said that I don''t know the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic weapon. I surely do know. My words about what you guys have been talking about concerning the D.C. gun laws are not familiar to me. My comments had to do with the ATF's definition, or whosever's it is. I am not familiar with those specifics. I'm done with this one.

    So you haven't seen the elephant? And yet you are trying to influence politicians who haven't seen the elephant, to put forth more laws regulating elephants.

    That didn't work out well for the "Stimulus" nor for "Obamacare". When you are attempting to legislate changes to fundamental rights I don't want "we have to pass it to find out what is in it" explanations.

    And that is why those of us who have seen the elephant are so adamant about "armor piercing rounds" because we know that it would make virtually all rifle ammunition illegal. There are other examples of Brady proposed legislation.

    We are the firearms experts. Just like insurance experts predicted that Obamacare would raise costs (it did and continues to do so). We don't mean to "talk down" to you and drag you into the weeds with details because we want to browbeat you with facts, we only want to point out the first, second, and third order effects of your proposed solutions.

    There is a video that humorously explains the unintended consequences of well intended legislation. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/v/pSwMEtuL-GQ?fs=1&hl=en_US

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  13. japete, I have to admit I hated the poem. I'm not surprised at all that your usual antagonists responded the way they did. Especially surprising is Sevesteen's description of you. I didn't think you "blindly follow the Brady leadership unquestioningly."

    Maybe you do and I just haven't noticed. I tend to think he's making an inaccurate accusation.

    Speaking for myself, I have no problem understanding the difficulty in distinguishing an "assault weapon" from other more "acceptable" rifles. That's largely thanks to Sevesteen and others like him. When I started blogging I wasn't nearly as informed as I am now.

    I don't think anyone has a problem with the difference between semi- and fully-automatic, at least no one who reads and writes a gun blog.

    He says you're, "unable or unwilling to provide a single example of a gun you would not take." Is that true? Do you want to take all their guns, japete?

    Anyway, I share your wishes for 2011, but if Sevesteen's comment is any indication, I wouldn't expect much from your blog friends as far as fair and reasonable dialogue goes, and he's one of the most fair and reasonable.

    It'll be fun though.

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  14. As you can probably tell by what I write, I am a liberal and support the health care legislation that was passed last year. I also supported the stimulus plan. It actually funded many much needed projects and programs in my state that, now that it is no longer available, will result in some painful cuts because the state has been borrowing for years. So I will likely disagree with many of your views since we are at odds on our basic philosophy and politics. Armor piercing rounds I understand can apply to a lot of ammunition and I'm sure there is no intent to make all ammunition illegal. Here, in fact, is what the Brady Campaign, Police Chiefs and others involved in this issue are against: http://www.policefoundation.org/pdf/CopKillerGuns.pdf

    "cop killer" bullets fired by handguns are just not needed anywhere. Why did the Fort Hood shooter choose a "cop killer" handgun and the type of bullets that could pierce protective body vests? He wanted to do as much damage as possible and he certainly did. Are you interested in carrying such a gun and ammunition? If so, I am worried about you. If you are such an expert, you would know that the gun violence prevention organizations are not against all ammunition that could penetrate protective vests, knowing that much of the ammunition used in hunting rifles can so do. They are against some very specific bullets and for very good reasons.

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  15. Mike B- in answer to your question at the end of your comment- NO.

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  16. Stephen- above comment: " Or go back a month before her death and give her a handgun and lessons on how to use it? And impart to her the understanding that defending your life IS OK, and an honorable thing to do?

    I know in the case of my female relative, who did physically survive the experience (though she never got past it) passing gun control measures would have done nothing. But a .357 magnum revolver that she knew how to use, and had in a place where she could get to it (as in not "safely stored" and possibly on her person) ... MAN! I wish I could do that. I was much younger when this happened and the whole situation gave me nightmares, so I guess it affected my outlook as well."

    I have gone around about this before and don't believe my sister could have defended herself with a gun given the circumstances of the shooting. Just like the sheriff's deputy who was shot in Ohio yesterday was armed, she didn't have a chance to use her gun because she was basically ambushed and surprised. That happens far too often. Even armed people are shot by other armed people. Consider the gangs, who know the other is armed. It doesn't always work out as you think it will. Evidence the many shootings daily. Guns in the home are more likely to be used against you or someone in the home than by you for self defense. But you can continue to do what you think you must as will I.

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  17. "Guns in the home are more likely to be used against you or someone in the home than by you for self defense."

    If you truly want to reach out for compromise, you're going to have to stop repeating intentional lies, like that one.

    Kellerman's "studies" were intentional frauds - carefully designed to present the opposite of the truth.

    For you to continue to repeat them indicates either that you understand it is a lie and are willingly propagating it, or that you honestly believe it.

    I think it's more likely that you honestly believe it. But for that to be true, at this date, after Kellerman has been so thoroughly debunked, indicates a determination to not know the truth that is truthfully rather mind-boggling.

    Read Kates et alia's "Guns and Public Health".
    http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/58tenn.pdf

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  18. They are against some very specific bullets and for very good reasons.

    Does the Brady Campaign still oppose hollowpoints? What ammo is OK for us to have?

    This is one of the problems with specific bans--Separately they may only be a minor issue, but with enough of them, there winds up being nothing left.

    I wish more Fort Hood soldiers had been trusted with guns (rather than having to rely on an armed civilian cop), but I am glad that the shooter used the gun that he did--with a standard handgun, the death toll would have been considerably higher.

    The 5.7x25 round he used is not 'more deadly' than standard handgun ammo. The military version is better at piercing armor under some circumstances, but to get that capability is considerably less effective than standard ammo against unarmored targets. Ammo available to civilians loses the armor penetrating capability, while retaining the reduced effectiveness against unarmored targets.

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  19. But you can continue to do what you think you must as will I.

    Joan,

    I can completely support you doing what you will -- until the point you start infringing in my rights.

    And that is what your stated goals do.

    You want to make it more expensive, more difficult, more time consuming for me to effectively defend myself and my family

    And you want to do this in the blind hope -- and that is the only word for it -- hope that the restrictive laws you enact will reduce crime.

    In the mean time, we suffer from crime. My future daughter in law's car was broken into on New Year's Eve while they walked around the park.

    Luckily the criminals were only after her GPS system but consider what if

    What if the kids had walked up on the criminals?
    Because she is 19, she isn't allowed to carry.
    How many people are victims of physical violence because they interrupt criminals? Your policies, goals and ideas condemn people like my future daughter in law to be effectively defenseless against criminals.

    Consider the fact that the criminals had the GPS with our home address in it.

    My wife was home alone while I went to the park to help the kids.

    What if the criminals decided to break in thinking the home was empty?

    One female recovering from chemo for breast cancer against one or more thugs -- your policies would make it harder for her to defend herself.

    By making it adding hurdles and costs to the process of owning and training with firearms, you are making it harder for her to effectively defend herself.

    How is that common sense?

    What if the criminals had decided to stick around the park and wait for me or someone else to get there?

    The likelihood of me carrying cash is high and the likelihood of me carrying a firearm is low.

    The criminals already proved they are willing to break the law and use violence (smashed in her window) to get what they want.

    Your ideas and policies would make it harder for me to effectively defend myself.

    How is that common sense?

    Over and over again, you talk about common sense but advocate laws that don't make sense.

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  20. I knew that comment would have to be challenged by someone. You have your sources and I have mine. Who's lying? I don't know. Here is mine: Unintended Consequences by Tom Diaz, a former NRA member and former "gun nut".( http://www.vpc.org/studies/unincont.htm) Now we can go back and forth about which book is telling the truth and which author is more believable or authentic. That should take up hours of our time, so let's not.

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  21. Anon- above- " And that is what your stated goals do." Simply not true. Your rights to carry and own guns are your rights. No one will take those from you. As to cost and convenience, I don't think that is covered in the Second Amendment.

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  22. Joan,

    A poll tax was declared an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote.

    How is a tax or fee on the right to carry a firearm any different?

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  23. Taxes are changed all the time without infringing on rights. I don't get what you are at here. Prices are raised on products daily.

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  24. It is permissible to charge the same tax on a newspaper as you would any other product. It is a violation of the first amendment to charge a tax specific to newspapers. See MINNEAPOLIS STAR v. MINNESOTA COMM'R OF REV., 460 U.S. 575 (1983).

    Same principle would apply to other constitutional rights.

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  25. Not sure I get this one. Are guns now taxed? Is ammunition now taxed?
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/3477717; http://paidcontent.org/article/419-taxbreaks-for-newspapers/; http://www.caltax.org/MEMBER/digest/Jul98/jul98-7.htm

    as to guns: http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2009/09/sales_tax_holiday_for_guns_amm.html and http://thefiringline.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-286380.html
    and http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/11/30/tax-free-guns-with-a-side-of-barbecue/

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=363095

    In these articles, I have not found that a poll tax is unconstitutional- only that some people think it should be. At this point, I have found little evidence that courts have ruled on newspapers or guns except in a few states but the information is incomplete and hard to find.

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  26. In these articles, I have not found that a poll tax is unconstitutional- only that some people think it should be.

    Joan:
    Reference the 24th Amendment. Then Google "Harper vs. VA Board of Elections," which applied the 24th Amendment to the states.

    If by "some people," you mean "The Congress and a majority of the Supreme Court of the United States," then I suppose, yes, you are correct...

    Civics 201.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  27. Not sure I get this one. Are guns now taxed? Is ammunition now taxed?

    Yes, the Pittman-Roberts tax applies a 10% federal excise tax to all sales. Pittman-Roberts goes to pay for conservation projects and is one of the most effective conservation tools available to states. Despite its effectiveness, however, it is debatable whether or not it is appropriate for sport shooters to basically subsidize hunters, campers, backpackers, and other outdoorsmen.

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  28. Thanks, Chris. I know quite a few sport shooters in Minnesota who are quite concerned about the environment and get upset when the NRA opposes measures that will help the environment. These are folks who also do camping, hunting and other outdoors activities- sounds like a good idea to me.

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  29. Joan, could you point to any specific case where the NRA opposed conservation efforts?

    Because the only "environmental issue" that the NRA has opposed is the proposed ban on lead ammunition. And I know of no hunter that supported a ban on lead ammunition outside of one useful idiot in California who created "project gutpile". Of course California already has a ban on lead ammunition to protect the Condors, so I do not see a need for a national ban on lead ammunition since Condors have a very limited range.

    Because the alternatives, solid copper being the most common, all qualify as "armor piercing" by Federal Regulation. Federal law declares any bullet that has more than 10% of it's mass from copper, iron, steel, aluminum, depleted uranium, or tungsten, as "armor piercing".

    So if that is what you are talking about the NRA opposing, then yes, that is what we oppose. But the NRA is at the forefront of conservation efforts in order to open up more recreational opportunities for all Americans. Look up the ECHO project.

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  30. Joan,

    What I'm getting at is really simple but I'll try a different angle.

    Do you think it is permissible for the state to make you get a license to speak to your family?

    Should the state be allowed to make you take a test to see if you are allowed to blog?

    Over and over again, these types of infringements on our rights are shown to be unacceptable.

    Yet those are the very things you want to do with firearms.

    You want to increase the cost to carry a firearm -- making it less available to people.

    You want to make testing mandatory -- making it less available to people.

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  31. I will find the examples later- don't have time right now.

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  32. If you think, anon, that blogging is similar to shooting a gun, we have a problem. Blogging, the last time I checked, is not dangerous or can kill someone.

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  33. Joan,

    You have to be joking that the exercise of the right to free speech isn't like the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms, right?

    Surely, the use of speech has proven deadlier than firearms over the centuries. It is speech that motivates people to fight, to kill.

    It is words -- "burn the jew", "kill the gays" that leads to violence, wouldnt you agree?

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  34. Japete, blogging falls under first amendment protecting free speech. You don't have to pay the government a fee to blog.

    Owning a firearm falls under the second amenmdnet, that means you don't have to pay a fee to keep and bear arms right? Well we already pay taxes on firearms and ammunition, and we have to pay in most states without Constitutional Carry (Alaska, Arizona, Vermont) to exercise our second amendment rights.

    When money becomes a barrier to exercising your rights, that is when it becomes unconstitutional. A lot of us are very interested in protecting ALL our civil rights. Google "Photography is not a crime" and read Carlos Millers blog about people being arrested for exercising their rights.

    You want to infringe on the 2nd Amendment, and we don't want you to. No matter how you try to "reasonably" restrict access to arms and ammunition, you will not achieve your stated goal of "gun death" reduction. That is why we oppose you, you offer nothing but further restriction.

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  35. Joan,

    What we're getting at here is, "That the power to tax involves the power to destroy [is] not to be denied" (SCOTUS Chief Justice John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland, quoting Daniel Webster).

    That is, the ability to levy a tax on something is the ability to destroy it. For example, white southerners wanted to destroy the ability of (poor) blacks to vote in the Jim-Crow era south: hence, poll taxes. In other places, if the government wanted to suppress a newspaper, then they could tax it out of existence (hence our 1A protections).

    The SCOTUS has addressed the question of whether free speech -- another individual specifically enumerated right -- can be taxed in numerous cases (Grosjean v. American Press Co., Arkansas Writers' Project v. Ragland, Leathers v. Medlock, Branzburg v. Hayes, Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner). While reasonable taxes are permissible, the most recent opinion (Leathers) stated: "differential taxation of speakers, even members of the press, does not implicate the First Amendment unless the tax is directed at, or presents the danger of suppressing, particular ideas."

    Now that the SCOTUS has (1) declared the 2A to be an individual right (8 out of 9 justices concurred on that point in Heller) and (2) incorporated against the states (McDonald), it is reasonable for the courts to next consider the question of excise taxes levied only on firearms, and what standard of review those taxes should have to pass (strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, rational basis, or something else). If it is an individual right like freedom of speech or voting, then interfering with that right via fees, narrowly focused excise taxes that are not similar to those levied on other sporting or self-defense products, and other expenses may not pass muster.

    Of course, you've already made it clear that you don't believe that the right to keep arms is an individual right. You've also previously stated in your "guns & the poor" post that you have no problems erecting barriers to entry that prevent people of modest means from possessing firearms even if they disproportionately affect women, minorities, and other disadvantaged groups. I would fully expect you to support any measure that makes owning firearms more expensive. I really look forward to seeing the legal reasoning in the next Brady Campaign amicus brief when this specific subject comes up.

    We don't intend to distract from your focus on gun issues. We're just pointing out that if the right to keep arms is actually an individual right, then that means something tangible. Looking to established case law on similar subjects (such as other individual specifically enumerated rights) can be instructive, and it is what the courts are likely to do. The challenge for your side, I think, is that you need to find infringements that are likely to pass muster with whatever standard of review eventually is established. In my opinion, that means you need to be more creative than just slapping punitive fees or taxes on the right.

    \\

    If you think, anon, that blogging is similar to shooting a gun, we have a problem. Blogging, the last time I checked, is not dangerous or can kill someone.

    Have you never heard "the pen is mightier than the sword?" I think I'd disagree that ideas are always less dangerous than firearms. In the 20th century alone we've seen influential books like "Mein Kampf" (Hitler) and "The Little Red Book" (Mao) inspire millions of killings. Closer to home, books like "The Turner Diaries" contain hateful, racist, and extremist ideas that have inspired crimes (including Timothy McVeigh's bombing). Yet you can order them on Amazon and have them delivered to your door! In fact, I had to read some of them in college! Does that make you uncomfortable?

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  36. Chris- I agree that words can be dangerous. I have blogged about this very thing. There are some in the media whose words provoke violence and, indeed, appeared to have caused a few to act in violent acts. But I suppose I could back to that old childhood phrase, " sticks and stones will hurt my bones but names will never hurt me." Of course you have taken things too literally again. Words themselves do not kill somebody but guns, when discharged, do actually cause injury and death.

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  37. Blogging, the last time I checked, is not dangerous or can kill someone.

    So it is ok to restrict a constitutional right, as long as you have some sort of excuse?

    The whole point of a constitution, and the bill of rights is to guarantee protection from these sort of excuses.

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  38. Sevesteen,

    So it is ok to restrict a constitutional right, as long as you have some sort of excuse?

    Yes, absolutely, if the courts have established a "rational basis" level of scrutiny.

    Because Heller took "rational basis" off the table for 2A issues, the Brady Campaign has invented a new standard which is slightly stricter than rational basis. Here's the excerpt from the Brady Campaign's (withdrawn) amicus brief in D'Cruz, where they propose a brand new legal test in between the commonly accepted "rational basis" and "intermediate scrutiny" tests:
    The reasonable regulation test is a more heightened form of scrutiny than the rational basis test that the majority opinion in Heller rejected (and is more demanding than the “interest balancing” test suggested by Justice Breyer in dissent) because it does not permit states to prohibit all firearm ownership, even if there is a rational basis to do so.

    Intermediate scrutiny would require gun control advocates and politicians to show that the law or policy being challenged furthers an important government interest in a way that is substantially related to that interest. So instead of saying that "Law X is intended to reduce crime" you actually have to prove that it does. This is the same level of scrutiny applied to 1A free speech cases, sexual harassment/discrimination cases, etc. I.E., it actually means something, which is probably why the Brady Campaign wants to avoid it at all costs.

    Things like punitive fees and taxes on firearms ownership and carriage which have the effect (even if unintended) of raising barriers to entry against people of modest means probably wouldn't survive intermediate scrutiny (although the Brady Campaign disagrees with me; in their amicus brief they claimed that most gun laws would pass such muster).

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

    PS -- Sorry that was so long again... I'm trying to be more concise. The quotes from your amicus brief drew things out some.

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  39. Interesting discourse re. constitutional rights and taxation. All should keep in mind that constitutional rights, even those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, are not absolutes. They can, and in fact are, be regulated by the government for various purposes, and this includes taxation. The Supreme Court has consistently held that such regulations can in fact exist. What must be kept in mind is that in order for the government to regulate specifically enumerated rights, the government regulation must pass the "strict scrutiny" test- I won't give a treatise on Const Law here, but the principle remains, that even the most fundamental of rights can be regulated under the right circumstances.

    One more thing...he reference to poll taxes... the fundamental reason for outlawing the poll tax is an element of discrimination law. Comparing it to taxing newspapers (1st Amend) or firearms (2nd Amend) is comparing an applie to an orange.

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  40. Chris- here is a link to an article about the Brady Center's amicus brief filed in the state of Texas concering the D'Cruz case- http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/news/local/story/anti-gun-handguns-DCruz-NRA-ATF-court/7Nz3vr128ku47IITatEDaA.cspx

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  41. D'Cruz can already legally buy shotguns, heavy barreled bolt action rifles, and semi-automatic rifles with normal capacity magazines.

    With access to that type of hardware the only complaint that the Brady campaign can bring is "concealability" of handguns.

    Didn't you just blog about a guy who shot a deputy with a shotgun? Didn't the VPC (which you link to) do a "report" on Assault Weapons and Sniper Rifles?

    Seriously, he already has access to every other type of weapon described in Miller, so why not end the unconstitutional restriction on handguns?

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  42. Using that logic, why not remove all restrictions so that just anyone of any age can buy and own any kind of gun they want? Oh, and let them carry all of them in every public place everywhere?

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  43. "Using that logic, why not remove all restrictions so that just anyone of any age can buy and own any kind of gun they want? Oh, and let them carry all of them in every public place everywhere?"

    Pretty much anyone can carry anything, anywhere they like, in Vermont. Of course, we all know it's a violent hell-hole, people shooting each other at traffic lights, blood running in the streets...

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  44. "Using that logic, why not remove all restrictions so that just anyone of any age can buy and own any kind of gun they want? Oh, and let them carry all of them in every public place everywhere?"

    When that was the way things worked in the Sates, we had a lot fewer gun deaths per thousand citizen. Why do you suppose that was? Do you think people have become more evil?

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  45. Is that right Roberta? Do you have facts to support what you say?

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