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.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Debate question about gun policy?

Will there be a question asked about guns and gun policy at the Presidential debate tomorrow? There should be. Two high profile shootings have taken place just miles from Denver, the site of the first debate. Columbine, of course, was one of the first major school shootings that kick started a major gun control debate in America. 13 were killed and 21 were injured. What happened as a result? Left to elected leaders, nothing. But citizens in Colorado got enough signatures to put a ballot measure to close the loophole which allows private sellers to sell guns without background checks put to a vote. The ballot measure was passed by a large margin which is what happens when you let the people decide rather than the legislators who are too afraid of the NRA to speak up.

The second more recent mass shooting, of course, was in Aurora- the now infamous movie theater shooting which killed 12 of the 70 who were shot:
Seventy people were shot or otherwise wounded, the most victims of any mass shooting in United States history[27] and the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.[28] Ten people died at the scene and two died in local hospitals. Those killed were: Jonathan Blunk, age 24; Alexander J. Boik, 18; Jesse Childress, 29; Gordon Cowden, 51; Jessica Ghawi, 24; John Larimer, 27; Matt McQuinn, 27; Micayla Medek, 23; Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6; Alex Sullivan, 27; Alexander C. Teves, 24; and Rebecca Wingo, 32.[29] The youngest shooting victim was three months old.[30] Ashley Moser, Veronica Moser-Sullivan's mother, was critically injured in the shooting and suffered a miscarriage a week after the attack.[31
This bears repeating:" Seventy people were shot or otherwise wounded, the most victims of any mass shooting in United States history[27] and the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999." And what has happened as a result of this senseless shooting? Nothing. Why? Because it's election season. Candidates are so stupidly afraid of the mythical power of the NRA that the word guns can not be uttered. That which shall not be named. GUNS. SAVING LIVES. SENSIBLE LAWS. NO CONFISCATION-JUST LAWS TO STOP DANGEROUS PEOPLE FROM GETTING GUNS. BACKGROUND CHECKS ON ALL GUN SALES. LIMITING INTERNET AMMUNITION SALES. LIMIT TYPES OF AMMUNITION AND ASSAULT WEAPONS. SENDING RECORDS OF DANGEROUSLY MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE TO THE FBI'S NATIONAL INSTANT CHECK SYSTEM. PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY. SAFE STORAGE OF GUNS. REPORTING OF SUSPICIOUS SALES OF GUNS AND AMMUNITION. COMMON SENSE ABOUT GUN POLICY. And much more.

But families of the victims of the Aurora shooting want the candidates to not only discuss the issue of gun policy, they want action:
Victims of the Colorado theater shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured are speaking out, urging Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama to address gun control during Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver.
"When you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself, who has a plan to stop gun violence?" Aurora shooting survivor Stephan Barton, 22, asks in an ad.
"Let's demand a plan," Barton adds after highlighting that 48,000 Americans will be killed by firearms during the next president's term - "enough to fill over 200 theaters."
The ad is sponsored by the bi-partisan gun control advocacy group United Against Illegal Gun Support Fund and is accompanied by a petition urging the candidates to address the issue on Wednesday.
Here's the ad:

There is plenty to talk about. But will it happen? I am not the only one to want a question about guns asked at the debate. The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus posted this article today. Here is the question she thinks should be asked:
President Obama, during the 2008 campaign you called for reinstituting the assault-weapons ban. Despite the shootings in Colorado, Arizona and elsewhere, you have remained silent on gun control as president. Will that continue in a second term?
Great question. Mitt Romney was once in favor of an Assault Weapons Ban and other reasonable gun laws for goodness sake. Now he is endorsed by stupid and crazy NRA Board member Ted Nugent and made this appearance at the recent NRA convention.

Give me a break. Mitt Romney is not a gun person. He is not a hunter though he claimed to have shot at some varmints once upon a time. Really? Why does the NRA like this insincere man who changes his positions with the wind.

President Obama used to talk about reasonable gun laws as well. That was before he got so scared of the NRA one he became President that he dared not utter the word GUN. We know that he is in favor of reasonable laws to stop senseless shootings from his prior record. The NRA gets apoplectic about the President wanting to take all their guns away-a specious and ridiculous claim with no fact behind it. But never mind, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre rants conspiracy theories, saying that because the President hasn't talked about guns, that means it's more certain that he's out to get your guns. You can watch this totally nonsensical rant below:


Of course, he has more threats against his life than just about any other President. This most recent one on Facebook came from a Tennessee congressional candidate, no less:
A Republican candidate for Congress says his Facebook post featuring a photo of his gun and a “Welcome to Tennessee” message for Barack Obama was in no way meant as a threat to the president.
“Good Lord, no,” Brad Staats told The Tennessean in a telephone interview on Monday. “Absolutely not. I’m not one of those that would ever threaten the president. He’s probably got enough of his own stuff to worry about without me.”
Wow, will this guy get elected to public office? Let's hope not but Tennessee loves loves and gun rights. I suggest this man is not qualified to run for public office. But this is what we get when we give the NRA the mythical power it has managed to gain.

And here is another plea for moderator Jim Lehrer to ask a question about sensible gun laws from Fox news' Juan Williams:
President Obama, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has given you an “F.” They say the failure is based on your “lack of leadership” the gun control issue.  In your first term, we have had three of the worst mass shootings in US History, (Tucson, Arizona, Aurora Colorado, and Oak Creek, Wisconsin) Could you have done more to stop the spread of assault weapons and gun violence over the last four years?
Will you make gun control a priority in your second term? Are you paralyzed by the National Rifle Association’s political clout?
Great question. Can we at least have a national conversation about one of our biggest national public health and safety problem? We all know we have too many gun violence victims. But we sit back as a country and just let them happen because of one mythically uber powerful lobby group- the NRA. This is ludicrous, unacceptable, irresponsible and just plain wrong and dangerous. If you agree with me, check out the we are better than this web site to let Jim Lehrer know you want a question asked about guns asked at the debate. Or check out the demand a plan site to demand that our Presidential candidates and other elected officials come up with a plan to deal with too many people being killed and injured in daily senseless shootings.


  1. There should be a question at the Presidential debates about gun control. It is to be expected, what the candidates would answer:

    Romney would state that we have enough control in place.
    However, we all know that Romney is blatantly anti-gun, and proved it by signing an AWB in Massachusetts.

    Obama would say that he believes in "reasonable" restrictions. Of course we all know that Mr. Obama is one of the most anti-gun people on the planet, and feels no citizen should ever own any sort of firearm for any reason.

    Still, it would be interesting to have such a question.

    1. You Usagi, routinely confuse know with believe.

      They are different things entirely. Belief is where you embrace something without factual support or evidence, as in a leap of faith -- or in the case of gun nuts like yourself, delusions exaggerated by sources which encourage nonsense to their profit.

      We DO NOT 'all know' what you assert about Obama; quite the opposite. Those not affected by right wing insanity are more than a bit disappointed in his lack of action designating this the public health issue it should be, given the statistics of people killed and injured from this annually, compared to civilized and developed countries, which are also not at war. I'm referring to an apples to apples, civilian deaths to non-war deaths comparison, with military losses factored out.

      There is an unfortunate political insanity that affects right wingnuts generally, and gun zombies specifically. It is evident by the illogical, emotional, and fetish-like thinking and beliefs that are demonstrated by the gun crazed.

      You assertions which fail to distinguish between fact and baloney would be an excellent example.

  2. I've looked into the mental health issue a bit tonight. Only 22 states provide information to the FBI to be entered into NICS. Minnesota isnt one of them.
    Legislation was actually introduced in the 2011-2012 session to require the Comissioner of Human Services to send names of persons prohibited from posessing firearms for inclision into the NICS system. Sometime in May, that portion of the bill went away. Still havent figured out why.
    And it's a moot point. Even if it had stayed in the bill, it was vetoed by the governor.

    1. Minnesota passed the law. The names are still not being sent in at the rate they should be.

    2. It doesnt seem to be listed in the current law regarding prohibited persons. That is where it was supposed to be included before it disappeared during the last session. They must be doing it administratively. Apparently the federal government cant require the states to report it.

    3. The Federal Government didn't provide enough money to do the job adequately. It is being done administratively.

    4. The federal government provided money back in 2009; no new federal money has been provided since, and any efforts to refund has been opposed along with any other new gun-related legislation by the NRA.

      According to the BCA, which is the entity which manages our data base and provides names to the NICS, they do send somenames, but have not sent all names -- apparently from ANY of the prohibited categories.

      I know, I called them, and persisted in being passed around from one person to another until I got definitive answers.

      Republicans from before 2010, but especially after that date, vigorously opposed funding the submission of names to the NICS, at the same time insisting that MN law should be repealed because it duplicated the NICS.

      They failed to note that they provided no basis for the NICS database to be gathered and maintained -- but hey, those conservative gun nuts were squarely and deeply in the pocket of ALEC - which is dominated by the NRA.

      Small world, the shady right corruption of our conservative politicians. It keeps coming back to the NRA.

  3. I think the problem with asking that question, is that many people are attached to the paradigm that the only solution to reducing gun violence is to restrict the ownership of guns.
    That would be similar to trying to curtail the violence that ensued from the video "Innocence of Muslins" by requiring Youtube to submit videos for screening by the government prior to being posted. This measure would (rightly in my opinion) incur the wrath of another powerful lobbying group called the ACLU, because of the government limiting civil liberties regarding freedom of speech.
    Perhaps we do need to take a public health type view of the problem. But we need to protect the civil liberties of law abiding citizens.

    1. And how, exactly, would anyone's civil rights be curtailed with reasonable gun laws?

    2. That depends on the person's definition of reasonable. I know for example that yours and mine arent exactly the same.
      What do you think would be the reaction to someone suggesting that we enact reasonable laws restricting our rights under the first amendment? My guess is that it would be similar to some peoples' reactions when reasonable laws restricting the second amendment are brought up.
      Becoming fixated on only one solution to the problem limits the chances of a successful outcome.

    3. Reasonable gun laws don't restrict the second amendment.

    4. ssg wrote: I think the problem with asking that question, is that many people are attached to the paradigm that the only solution to reducing gun violence is to restrict the ownership of guns.

      It is, SSG. We know that to be factual because in every other country where guns were reduced and far more restricted, gun violence has all but disappeared.

      NO ONE has come up with another alternative that works equally well to curtail violence with firearms, specifically, and violence generally.

      SSG then writes: That would be similar to trying to curtail the violence that ensued from the video "Innocence of Muslins" by requiring Youtube to submit videos for screening by the government prior to being posted.

      NO, it doesn't. You fail to correctly identify the events relating to the video catalyst for violence, and you make a false analogy that is so poor in quality it is buffoonish.

      SSG writes: This measure would (rightly in my opinion) incur the wrath of another powerful lobbying group called the ACLU, because of the government limiting civil liberties regarding freedom of speech.

      There is a pretty reasonable basis for asserting that what was done by Basseley, in producing and distributing the video was not covered under freedom of speech. For openers, it entailed fraud, which in and of itself is not protected speech. Then it was distributed in a manner which directly sought to incite violence in foreign countries against U.S. diplomatic mission personnel and others. Again, attempting to incite violence is not protected speech.

      The video got no response while it was simply 'on youtube'; Baseley and others crossed the line when they actively tried to peddle it first to Egyptian reporters, who refused to be involved with it, and then specifically contacted violent CONSERVATIVE extremists with a long record of behaving violently, with - by their own admission - the expectation that the resulting violence would occur.

      Further, the ACLU is unlikely to challenge gun restrictions, because the SCOTUS has indicated that extensive regulation and restriction is permitted under the Constitution - it is not an absolute right. Beyond that, it is entirely possible that a less extreme activist court will overturn the current aberration, and return to the interpretation common to the past 200+ years of judicial decisions which were all consistent regarding militias as the topic of the 2nd Amendment.

    5. dog gone, There are several countries that have statistics that contradict your comment. Jamaca and Mexico are two examples. And there are countries like Switzerland that have high gun ownership and and low rates of crime.
      Looking on a more local scale, Chicago and Washington DC have such strict gun laws the US Supreme Court found them to be unconstitutional. Yet they have very high crime rates. On the other end of the spectrum is Vermont, where citizens arent required to have any permit to carry a handgun, yet ranks about 48th in the nation in gun crime.
      I'll have to look into the history of the supreme court reversing itself. Why do you consider the second amendment as an individual right an aberration?

    6. Switzerland has much stricter gun laws. Canada has high gun ownership, strict gun laws and low rates of gun death. Chicago and Washington D.C. have or had strict gun laws. Many of the guns come from nearby states. Chicago seems to have its' own war going on in the streets. I don't know if I have seen where the crime guns have come from. Indeed, Vermont has a high rate of gun suicide but a low rate of gun crime. I doubt it has much to do with permit holders. Vermont is a very sparsly populated state with few large crowded cities. That seems to be true of other states that are sparsly populated with no large cities. I'll let dog gone answer your last question.

  4. Again, that is your opinion. Did you catch the latest incident in the news about a MN permit holder? Though this one I think can be laid at the feet of the sheriff.


    1. It's very frustrating that the law has provisions to deny permits if the person is a threat to himself and others, and for whatever reason the sheriff didnt have the guts to do it.

    2. Frustrating isn't the word I would use given what happened. People die because of this.

    3. No, it can't be laid at the doorstep of the sheriff.

      All prior incidents of road rage were more than two years before the shooter applied for his permit last December.
      NONE of those incidents resulted in any criminal finding against the shooter, or even clear responsibility for who was at fault in the prior road rage incidents. The shooter claimed he was the victim not the person at fault. The sheriff had no proof otherwise.

      It should be blamed on the shall issue laws which deny discretion to law enforcement for the issue of carry permits, and which frankly should include denying ownership of a firearms to people like this jerk as well.

      He can hardly claim he was threatened while a few steps away from the front door of law enforcement, who were present.

      This is not the first or last case of road rage that would be better prevented by stringently restricting gun ownership and by repealing shall issue carry.

      I hope this old white male flabby crabby archtypal NRA gun nut spends a very long time behind bars.

      The world would be a safer place, and there would be fewer armed criminals as well with fewer guns and better tracking of them.

      October is National Mental Illness Awareness month; time to recognize just how mal-adjusted too darned many gun owners really are.

    4. dog gone, I have to disagree. There is an option for the issung authority to deny if they feel the applicant is a danger to self and others. The applicant can choose to appeal the denial and the sheriff must give clear and convincing evidence there is a substantial likelihood that the applicant is a danger to self and others.
      Two of his previous offences involved what amounts to aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. I have no idea why he was never charged with anything.
      The sheriff will have to answer to the voters on his decision not to issue. Here is a link for an article that gets more into what happened.


      I still think that the permit should have been denied, but the situation sounds murkier and meeds more investigation by the authorities.

    5. What ssgmarkcr is true in some Shall Issue jurisdictions. In my county, the application form asks for character references which are used by the sheriff to deny an application if something odd is uncovered in the background investigation and a character reference corroborates it. For example, the background check might indicate an expired restraining order. A diligent sheriff would then call a character reference and ask about the applicant's behavior. If the character reference confirms present stalking patterns, the sheriff can deny the application. The applicant can still appeal the sheriff's decision in court. Washington County, OR and Jackson County, OR also ask for character references. On the other hand, Florida, Utah, and Ada County, Idaho do not, and probably issue licenses based entirely on the background investigation.

    6. There's no character reference in most states.

    7. Subd. 4.Investigation. (a) The sheriff must check, by means of electronic data transfer, criminal records, histories, and warrant information on each applicant through the Minnesota Crime Information System and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The sheriff shall also make a reasonable effort to check other available and relevant federal, state, or local record-keeping systems. The sheriff must obtain commitment information from the commissioner of human services as provided in section 245.041 or, if the information is reasonably available, as provided by a similar statute from another state.
      (b) When an application for a permit is filed under this section, the sheriff must notify the chief of police, if any, of the municipality where the applicant resides. The police chief may provide the sheriff with any information relevant to the issuance of the permit.

      (c) The sheriff must conduct a background check by means of electronic data transfer on a permit holder through the Minnesota Crime Information System and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System at least yearly to ensure continuing eligibility. The sheriff may also conduct additional background checks by means of electronic data transfer on a permit holder at any time during the period that a permit is in effect.

    8. japete writes: "There's no character reference in most states."

      For good reason - permits should be approved or rejected based on objective criteria - not the whim of a politician or law enforcement official.

    9. Don't see character reference here.

    10. Yup, and then people get killed at the whim of permit holders.

  5. I missed the first fifteen minutes of the debate. Did the question get asked?

    1. Romney did not do well with the factcheckers post-debate.

      from my post on penigma, this morning, quoting the factcheck.org summary on the debate.

      Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator. He said “up to” 20 million might lose health insurance under the new law, citing a Congressional Budget Office study that actually put the likely number who would lose employer-sponsored coverage at between 3 million and 5 million. He said 23 million Americans are “out of work” when the actual number of jobless is much lower. He claimed half of all college grads this year can’t find work, when, in fact, an AP story said half either were jobless or underemployed. And he again said Obama “cut” $716 billion from Medicare, a figure that actually reflects a 10-year target for slowing Medicare spending, which will continue to grow.

      There was no equivalent paragraph on Obama; there were fact check quibbles, but they were much smaller in scope and minimal in substance.

    2. Dog Gone, I just visited factcheck.org, and perhaps I'm not reading the same article.


      The leading sentence seems to suggest something different than your view.

      "We found exaggerations and false claims flying thick and fast during the first debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney."

      It sort of sounded like it was a two way street in the area of lies, damn lies, and statistics. Though that isnt unusual with politicians.
      I imagine it might be spun differently depending on which fact checker you read.

    3. I agree with dog gone. It is the law that was passed that makes it almost impossible to deny permits from people. In talking to my local L.E. they agree.

    4. japete writes: "It is the law that was passed that makes it almost impossible to deny permits from people. In talking to my local L.E. they agree."

      Minnesota sheriffs denied 321 permits in 2010, the last full year that information is available, I hardly think that's a representation that permits are impossible to deny.

      Minnesota law gives the sheriff the ability to deny a permit according to the requirements laid out in the statute - which are quite clear.

    5. Before the law was passed, there were a lot more people denied because people who applied for permits had to prove a need for a permit. Not many people got permits to carry and we were better off.

    6. That is your personal opinion, nothing worng with that, but that is what it is. But over the past twenty or so years, the number of guns owned by citizens, and the number of citizens excercising their right to carry a handgun has risen. But the rate of gun crimes has steadily decreased.
      The major execptions to this is where the ownership of firearms by law abiding citizens are severely restricted. I believe that we are overlooking a solution to the gun violence in this country because we arent willing to look beyond the solution that has been tried and proven not to work.

    7. http://www.vpc.org/studies/ownership.pdf

      "Gun ownership in America is declining. This is the unavoidable conclusion from new,
      comprehensive, national data spanning nearly 40 years contained in the General Social Survey (GSS)
      conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago."

      " From 1977 to 2010, the percentage of American households that reported having any
      guns in the home dropped more than 40 percent.
      # During this period household gun ownership hit its peak in 1977, when more than half
      (54 percent) of American households reported having any guns. By 2010, this
      number had dropped more than 20 percentage points to a low during this period of
      32.3 percent of American households reporting having any guns in the home.
      # In 2010, less than a third of American households reported having a gun in the home."

      There is no correlation between the decrease in gun crimes and the increase in permit holders.

      And what is your solution again? It's not clear to me.

    8. I went to the NORC website and found the following article which suggests that the numbers you're quoting might not be accurate. Not due to any malice, but just that surveys arent always accurate.


      But gun safety advocates such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence counter with a regular survey on gun ownership conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, which has been conducted 28 times since 1972, most recently in 2010. It has shown gun ownership declining steadily for years.

      Pollsters have discovered, however, that these responses, too, are somewhat unreliable.

      "You'd think that, for example, if you ask an adult in the home is there a gun in the home, that it wouldn't really matter if you spoke to the husband or the wife," said Philip Cook, an economics professor who studies guns at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "It turns out it matters a lot. Men are consistently more likely to say there's a gun in the home."

    9. Are women afraid to admit it then or don't they know their husbands have a gun? Scary. OF course some people have a vested interest in denying the results.

    10. You meant the contention that the percentage of gun ownershil in households is going down? Are you talking about me? Or the authors of the article? If I'm wrong about something I'm ok with finding out about it.
      As for your suggestion that wives might not know they have a gun in the house, that is possible. I think it would be difficult to do over the long term. And if it was hidden well enough to stay undetected over a long period, it is fairly certain it wouldnt be useful in a defense situation.
      If the percentage of households is steadily going down, then eventually guns will just go away. In the VPC article I noticed that gun ownership rose, even though conscription had ended.
      Can you tell me why you believe there is no correlation between the number of permit holders and the long term decrease in violent crime? If as you've suggested in the past that allowing more people to carry firearms would have the opposite effect. If I misheard you, I apologise in advance.

    11. A person shouldn't need to prove they need a permit anymore than they need to prove they need a fire extinguisher or earthquake insurance. May Issue laws in many jurisdictions are the same as No Issue and that's exactly what the anti-gun, anti-self-defense folks want.

      Character references are just one of several options available to a permit issuing authority in a Shall Issue jurisdiction to deny permits to questionable people. Permit issuing authorities are not powerless. There are levels of protection available, if they choose to implement them. For example, first level of protection: Issuing authority conducts background check. Second level of protection: Authority finds something odd in background check, so they dig deeper with other checks including character references and find enough to deny a permit. Third level of protection: Applicant goes to court where judge reviews the denying information. Now the court, a second independent review authority, decides whether the permit should be issued or not. Those with clean backgrounds and no issues get a permit after the first level. Those with more colorful backgrounds might have to stand before a judge. This solution makes more sense to me and the majority of states in the union than May Issue, where the issuing authority can deny a permit based on the color of your skin.

      It's abundantly clear to me that anti-gun folks don't want responsible citizens to carry guns. So just be honest and say that. It greatly simplifies the discussion and gives everyone more time to enjoy the beautiful waning fall sunshine. May Issue is just a euphemism for No Issue.

    12. There are so many flaws to your arguments that I don't know where to start. Getting earthquake insurance is not going to be dangerous to others. Unless you can find a way that it is, I would suggest you drop that argument. Having a firre extinguisher is not dangerous to others the last time I checked.

      Also, when so many "responsible" citizens are killing other people, your argument is feeble and doesn't fit with the facts.

    13. People get permits, fire extinguishers, and earthquake insurance for protection. Not having a gun during an assault can get an innocent life extinguished just as dead as not having a fire extinguisher during a fire.

      It's a valid argument if you believe that guns can be used to protect innocent life. It's an invalid argument if you believe that guns can only be used for assault and murder.

      With only 1% of those citizens with permits harming innocent life, I would hardly call my argument feeble. The world will never be perfect. Populations will never behave with 0% or 100% of anything.

    14. It's an invalid argument, Migo. With only 2% of Americans with permits, it seems as if a good number of that group have not been safe with their guns and their permits. Fire extinguishers are not meant to hurt people. You are trying to put deadly weapons in the same category as insurance. It's not.

    15. In answer to ssgmarkcr- You could look at things in the opposite way- have more permit holders caused more gun crime? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=concealed-gun-laws-revealed

      Here is an article that disputes what the gun rights folks think about any relationship that they can't prove: http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/11204311/

      " Among the reasons most criminologists think crime is dropping, he said, are better policing strategies, an end to the crack cocaine epidemic and high rates of incarceration. Even the fact that more Americans have cameras in their phones, and are able to capture crime as it happens, may have contributed.

      Fox notes that crime rates have dropped even in states like Massachusetts, which have very restrictive gun laws.

      At least one academic has put forward the theory that a higher availability of guns lowers crime. John Lott, author of the book More Guns Less Crime is often cited by proponents of expanding concealed-carry laws.

      But as PolitiFact noted when a claim by the head of the NRA that "violent crime in jurisdictions that recognize the Right to Carry is lower than in areas that prevent it," Lott's work is deemed flawed by many other academics. Fox called it "controversial" and said that it was not widely accepted.

      And as PolitiFact also noted, a National Academies of Sciences report in 2005 said current crime data doesn't allow policymakers to draw a conclusion one way or the other.

      "The evidence to date does not adequately indicate either the sign or the magnitude of a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates," reads one conclusion in the report."

      Or read this one: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/WhosCounting/story?id=98678&page=2#.UG9QzqRYtu8

      "And even if this negative linear relationship were to hold up with many more people carrying guns, do we really want to decrease the crime rate in this way? There is a considerable psychic cost to being a citizen in a nation of armed people warily navigating their way through their crime-free lives. Some version of the somber anxiety that one experiences going through airport luggage scanners would extend throughout one's whole life.

      There remain also the usual problems associated with all correlations and regressions. Is the association, even if real enough over a limited range, a causal one or is it coincidental? Or might there be a factor, not yet identified, leading both to more concealed gun laws and lower crime rates? After all, more consumption of hot chocolate is also associated with less crime and both are brought about by cold weather.

      The bottom line is that our understanding of crime rate fluctuations is still very murky. Why the sudden precipitous drop in the murder rate in New York City, for example — the economy, demographics, enforcement? Cultural factors, while hard to quantify, certainly play an important role."

      There are others. There is no provable relationship. I could say that gun deaths started to decline after the Brady Law passed, which is true. Almost 2 million people have been denied gun purchases since the Brady Law passed. Is there a relationship? Maybe.

    16. This is like arguing if a glass is half empty or half full. You see guns as offensive things that are used to hurt people and I see guns as defensive things that are used to protect people. We may never agree.

      Clearly all guns are designed to hurt people, but the reason for defensive guns is to allow innocent people to hurt bad people when those bad people intend to kill or maim the innocent.

      I once knew a woman who told me that if she was ever raped, she would accept the rape and allow herself to be murdered, if it came to that, because she didn't believe in violence. Clearly, she abhorred guns and would never own one. Are you like that? Do you believe that violent people should be allowed to continue to rape, maim, and kill, unstopped, until the police arrive?

      A defensive gun is similar to an insurance policy. It's something we have that we hope never to use, but are glad we have when we need it. There are many attributes that are common to both defensive guns and insurance polices. Injury isn't one of them. The defensive gun/insurance analogy isn't perfect, but it's fair.

      I understand that you see permit holders as flabby, crabby dementia prone crazies that look for opportunities to shoot at anything that moves, and sometimes things that don't move as well, all the while fondling and caressing their guns so obsessively that sometimes they will go off while still inside their pocket. However, the numbers simply don't support that belief. Of the 2% of Americans with permits that you write about, only 3% of that 2% actually create the tragedies you write about.

    17. Here's the difference, Migo. One gun death is one gun death too many. They are often avoidable and senseless. Guns make mayhem and carnage possible. I don't like them. If you choose to have one for "insurance" that is your right. I choose not to do that. Perhaps we should charge gun owners and permit holders a monthly "insurance" charge if that is how you look at it. That might get some people thinking about their responsibilities as gun owners which, too often, is just not considered. So remember, the 98% of people who don't have permits or the 65-70% or so of home owners who don't own guns are not killing people with guns.

    18. We should require all gun owners to be on a par with law enforcement - including both levels of training, psychological testing, drug testing, physical capacity - can they see, can they shoot straight, are they so feeble that they will inappropriately resort to violence, has age impaired their abilities after retirement age, etc.

      We should require appropriate levels of insurance to the kinds of costs incurred as a result of a shooting, require cooperation with reporting theft, and require mandatory minimum levels of firearm secure storage.

      Domestic violence, stalking and harassment - including cyberstalking or bullying behavior like road rage - should debar someone from gun ownership for a period of years. I think a decade should be about right.

      And I think we should stop giving criminals back their gun rights; lose 'em, and they're gone. The statistical data shows that it is generally a bad idea.

      But for the same reasons we require people to own car insurance, and home owners insurance in many cases, or require flood insurance, we should require firearms insurance. We do a lot of annual costly damage with firearms, both accidental and deliberate. Let those who insist on having firearms pay the costs of it, and quit foisting their expensive fetish object costs on the rest of us.

      If there were ever a classic example of them NOT doing something on their own, as conservatives screeched inaccurately at the RNC, it is firearms. We ALL pay the costs of the insistence on lethal weapons of the few.

      What would make more sense is to update our 2nd amendment to reflect the version of our bill of rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - you have a right to be safe and protected, as in law enforcement and a military; people do not have an innate right to own and use lethal force.

    19. Migo wrote:
      "You see guns as offensive things that are used to hurt people and I see guns as defensive things that are used to protect people. We may never agree."

      I consistently see such poor reasoning by the pro-gunners.

      IF you have firearms, in your words, as a defensive weapon, then you still use them to hurt people, you simply try to justify hurting people.

      The difference is, japete and I recognize that the function, the utility for which a firearm was designed IS to harm someone or something. Therefore when you have it to shoot someone, you have it to hurt someone.

      There are plenty of alternatives for defense that do not require a similar level of potentially lethal force to be effective.

    20. "Not having a gun during an assault can get an innocent life extinguished just as dead as not having a fire extinguisher during a fire."

      The problem with your analogy, where it fails utterly, is that no one commits suicide with a fire extinguisher, or accidentally kills someone with one, or uses one to commit a crime against another person.

      In other words, a fire extinguisher is NOTHING like a firearm, particularly given the statistical probability that in owning one, you are MORE likely to be hurt or killed than less.

      DO any of you ever take training of any kind in logic, reason, or rhetoric? Because you are all quite bad at it.

      Fortunately, discussions with Laci keep me on my toes. He reasons so very well; must be because he majored IN IT at a world class university.

    21. "And even if this negative linear relationship were to hold up with many more people carrying guns, do we really want to decrease the crime rate in this way? There is a considerable psychic cost to being a citizen in a nation of armed people warily navigating their way through their crime-free lives. Some version of the somber anxiety that one experiences going through airport luggage scanners would extend throughout one's whole life.
      Japete, I read those articles you posted with great interest. I found in interesting that Mr. Paulos did not refer to Lott's study as flawed as did the sources at the begining of your post. He is actually willing to consider that Lott's premise might be correct.
      I do tend to disagree with his picture of life in a word where citizens have the right to carry firearms for self defense.
      I think people are remarkably tough and adaptive beings. For example, the city of Chicago, which has such harsh gun control laws, they were found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court has just passed 400 murders so far, a 25% increase over last year. Compare this to 268 deaths of american forces in Afghanistan. Yet, the most current response the powers that be are suggesting is to tweet suggestions in on how to reduce gun crime.
      What is the psychic cost of that situation? And no one in charge there seems to be getting the idea that what they're doing isnt working. Is allowing citizens to defend themselves the miracle cure to reduce crime in the city. It's hard to say, the fact that people are just going on with their lives is very telling though.

    22. "IF you have firearms, in your words, as a defensive weapon, then you still use them to hurt people, you simply try to justify hurting people."

      Dog gone, I have no problem justifying the use of deadly force to protect myself or my loved ones. Just as I have no problem using deadly force to defend the country.
      Are you suggesting that there is no justification for using deadly force for self defense?

      "There are plenty of alternatives for defense that do not require a similar level of potentially lethal force to be effective."

      Can you share these alternatives please? If you can find a nonlethal method that will stop an assailant as quickly and effectively as a firearm, you'll be rich. I think you'd find many permit holders beating a path to your door since no one likes to take a life when another alternative can be used.

  6. The problem, Migo, is that concealed weapons have never been considered a right: unless you are a criminal or mentally ill. In fact, it was considered that you were either a sneak, an assassin, or someone else with nefarious intent if you carried a concealed weapon. The Heller decision made that quite clear:

    Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott 333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884).

    In fact, to claim a right to any form of deadly weapon is a sheer absurdity which has been allowed to flourish for too long.

    The Second Amendment uses the term "arms".

    Now, a word association test: "arms control"

    For anyone with a grasp of reality, that means WMD.

    It is quite easy to find the tools to make atomic weapons and chemical agents--whether you have a "right" to do so is sheer madness.

    In fact, actually attempting to do so would be seriously dangerous to yourself (no loss) and others in your community.

    If you were as intelligent as you pretend to be migo, you would actually look into the texts used to support the spurious legal claims you make. Then you would find that they support the proposition that firearms can indeed be regulated for the public welfare.

  7. Thank you Joan for doing the research on the topic Do Concealed Guns Reduce Crime? I haven't seen these articles yet, even though it's a topic I'm very interested in. However, some of the points brought up in the articles are flawed. Chicago has much tougher policing than Portland, including cameras on many streets watching the public in much the same way as they do in London. Illinois and Oregon both have similar incarceration rates. Almost every cell phone has a camera, and since Chicago has more people, there are more cell phone cameras in Chicago. The crack cocaine epidemic is finished across the entire country. Yet, Chicago has a murder rate almost 4 times higher than Portland. So we know these factors are not very relevant in reducing crime.

    Even though Chicago doesn't allow concealed carry, while Portland does, I still think the National Academies of Sciences report has it right. There isn't enough data to form a conclusion either way.

    @dog gone: IF you have firearms ... then you still use them to hurt people... Did you read the paragraph after the one you quoted?

    @Laci: I never said concealed weapons were a right. I said self-defense is an inalienable right. There's a difference. If you were as intelligent as you pretend to be migo... There's no need to make this personal. The facts support themselves.

    1. I usually do research when I write for my blog and before making assertions.