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Brief Remarks on Gun Culture in Celebration of Gun Deprecation Day

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By lambert strether. Originally published at Corrente.

I don’t agree with Josh Marshall very often and I’d want to think a long time before buying into his title for this piece (“Speaking for My Tribe”). But as far as the feelings and the policy outcomes?

[L]et me introduce myself. I’m a non-gun person. And I think I’m speaking for a lot of people. …

It’s customary and very understandable that people often introduce themselves in the gun debate by saying, ‘Let me be clear: I’m a gun owner.’ …

Well, I want to be part of this debate too. I’m not a gun owner and, as I think as is the case for the more than half the people in the country who also aren’t gun owners, that means that for me guns are alien. And I have my own set of rights not to have gun culture run roughshod over me. …

That said….

[...] I come from a culture where guns are not so much feared as alien, as I said. I don’t own one. I don’t think many people I know have one. It would scare me to have one in my home for a lot of reasons. Not least of which because I have two wonderful beyond belief little boys and accidents happen and I know that firearms in the home are most likely to kill their owners or their families. People have accidents. They get depressed. They get angry. …

In the current rhetorical climate people seem not to want to say: I think guns are kind of scary and don’t want to be around them. …

I don’t want to have those in my home. I don’t particularly want to be around people who are carrying. Cops, I don’t mind. They’re trained, under an organized system and supposed to use them for a specific purpose. But do I want to have people carrying firearms out and about where I live my life — at the store, the restaurant, at my kid’s playground? No, the whole idea is alien and frankly scary. Because remember, guns are extremely efficient tools for killing people and people get weird and do stupid things. …

[A] huge amount of the current gun debate, the argument for the gun-owning tribe, amounts to the gun culture invading my area, my culture, my part of the country. So we’re upset about massacres so the answer is more guns. Arming everybody.

Je repete: “The answer to any problem with guns is always more guns.”

There’s a lot of bogus research (widely discredited) purporting to show that if we were all armed we’d all be safer through a sort of mutually assured destruction, pervasive deterrence. As I said, the research appears to be bogus. But even if it was possible that we could be just as safe with everyone armed as no one armed, I’d still want no one armed. Not at my coffee shop or on the highway or wherever. Because I don’t want to carry a gun. And I don’t want to be around armed people. [...]

[There is] a mentality that does seem pervasive among many more determined gun rights advocates — basically that us non-gun people need to be held down as it were and made to learn that it’s okay being around people carrying loaded weapons.

So, to the non-crazy gun owners (who I know make up the vast majority of gun owners), I’ve put out my experience and my take. Now I’m ready to talk.

So, a few reactions; a cri de couer, really. To begin, Marshall’s piece seems to be part of a disturbance in the zeitgeist I’d label “Enough is enough.” I see examples of this all across the spectrum; one might think of Romney’s 47% comment as an example (“Why should I keep paying for these moochers? Enough is enough!”). Or Jenson’s classic “Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?” speech. One might put the reaction on the left to Aaron Swartz’s death in the same category. And one might throw the banksters views’ on debt — stupid and/or evil though they are — into the same bucket.

“Enough is enough” emerges, I think, when systems built for exponential growth reach limits; in this case, given that capitalism demands “endless accumulation” (Wallerstein), it should not be surprising to anybody that (1) gun manufacturers would be happy with ideologies that promote endless consumption of their product, or that (2) endless consumption of that product would create externalities, leading to an “enough is enough” moment by those who bear those externalities.

I know that “Enough is enough” on gun culture kicked in for me with the Sandy Hook Massacre — not so much for the massacre itself, since after all we’re inured by this time to young men with unfettered access to powerful weaponry going nuts and slaughtering people, often children — but for the shape of the discourse that followed. The NRA waited a few days, and then — surprise! — doubled down in favor of militarizing the schools. Sure, sure, and where does it end? Columbine had guards, so guards aren’t enoughwill not ever be enough. So, what next? Barbed wire and watchtowers? Arming all the teachers? Arming all the children? Conscripting the parents? And none of that will be enough (as we already know, under the heading of “determined adversary”), so what next? After one reading of the Second Amendment, we get — from the deeply corrupt Antonin Scalia* — another, so what next? After concealed carry, we get open carry. So what next?

On Marshall’s “I don’t want to be around them,” an extended and absurd metaphor may help (and to those who find it offensive, and I can think of two communities this will offend, I’ll get to that in a moment). Let’s imagine that a “dark fantasy” fetish special interest group (SIG) has decided to “come out,” as they call it, into public spaces: Public transportation, movie theatres, coffee shops, restaurants, shopping malls, bookstores, etc. And grant — this discussion is not that discussion — that these fantasies are about all trust, and not violence, or pain, or suffering, so there’s no question of ill intent. And let’s imagine further that the fetish objects, the endlessly and successfully marketed consumer goods, are edged weapons, whips, chains, and so forth, rather like The Society for Creative Anachronism, except… edgier. Well and good; one seeks to be tolerant; and whoever said there was too much trust in the world? And let’s assume further that “open carry” for the fetish object SIG graduates (under a First Amendment interpretation, say**) into “open play,” and so enacted scenarios, complete with fetish objects, become an increasingly normalized or at least prevalent part of the texture of daily public life.***

So now let’s talk about the externalities. First, because people are people, and the “dark fantasy” SIG has turned out to be numerous, the public landscape gets littered with whips, chains, and edged weapons. (“Oh, I forgot mine on the subway!”) Children, because they are children, pick up the edged weapons and injure themselves, sometimes, if they’re small enough, fatally. Elders, because they are elders, trip on the chains, fall, and disappear into nursing homes. Whips get wrapped round the axles of cars; some go off the road; a few burst into flames. Suicides increase, as motive meets opportunity. And it’s not that the fetish objects caused all these effects — swords don’t slash children, children do — and it’s not even that there’s ill intent involved (except, perhaps, in the endless expansion of capital by fetish object manufacturers). But if the fetish objects did not cause these effects, they most certainly catalyzed them; they precipitated or intensified reactions. And those reactions are the externalities.

For me — in this imagined, absurd world so much unlike our own — the worst externality of all is this: The participants in “open play” have consented; they have shared their safe words. And there would be no release of trust had there been no tension of danger, right? But those in public space are not participants, and are not spectators; they have no safe words; they’re simply citizens forced to endure a spectacle whose only purpose is the arousing of strong emotions in others. So maybe I don’t want to be around those emotions, and maybe I don’t want to be around that danger. Fetish object advocate: What’s wrong with you? Nobody’s forcing you to watch; you can just leave. Nobody’s stopping you! Which is true, assuming that the space where the scenario is being enacted is not small and enclosed, like a subway car; but isn’t it more than a little ironic that a chain of events beginning with trust ends with dismissal? That a scenario beginning with freedom for some ends with no freedom for others?

So, what to do?

Well, policy change that would return dark fantasy “open play,” with its litter of mislaid or abandoned fetish objects, to the private sphere, is ruled out a priori on First Amendment grounds. No regulation!**** That leaves cultural remediation, hence conversation. And the conversation doesn’t go well. As I come to understand, only those who have expert knowledge in the field have standing. (“You’ve confused a cutlass with a machete! Order some fetish object catalogs and study them carefully before speaking of public policy in this matter!”) And as I come to understand, the answer to problems with edged weapons is more edged weapons (“You would not have sensed danger in that subway car if you had carried a sword yourself! Let us go to a sword show and buy one tomorrow! Better yet, several!”). And as I come to understand, there is no excess that can be criticized or even remarked upon. (“So what if that guy ordered a shipping container of daggers delivered to his home; you want to invade my dungeon and take away my chains!”). Nor am I allowed to forget that “Fetish objects are a defense against tyranny!” even if, on reflection, that sounds an awful lot like an incipient protection racket.

But for me — still in this absurd world — the worst conversations include lines like: “Honor requires that I carry a katana!” which translates into, whoopsie, I just ticked somebody off who’s carrying a lethal weapon that I don’t carry; or “Respect me, respect my rapier!” where the required response is on the order of “Sir, yes sir!”; or “Without my scimitar, I am useless!” where there’s nothing at all to say except “Seek help!” and that’s exactly what’s too dangerous to say. The common thread being: All these conversations are inherently coercive, as any conversation between the armed and the unarmed must always be in danger of becoming, people being people. And that to me is the most bitter externality of all: I’m trapped in a coercive space, with no “safe word” at all.

* * *

Because — now in our world — you may feel offended, but you’re the one with the gun. You won your culture war. Own it. And the externalities.

So shoot me.

* * *

And now to the two communities this extended metaphor may have offended:

1. “Dark fantasy fetishist” and the fetish community: See above at “trust” and “safe word.” (Also, for me, “fetishism” connotes Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism, “the thingification of social relations.” This is a vast field even if limited only to Marx, and I’m less than knowledgeable in any of it. Still, a layperson must carry on!

2. Gun people: If your identity***** isn’t bound up with having purchased a consumer good, then I don’t see the offense. If it is, then I’d ask why and whether your identity is to be privileged over mine, and if there is some balance to be struck that doesn’t make this conflict necessary. Since you, as a gun person, now have a more clear understanding of what I, not a gun person, consider my rights, perhaps that will now be possible.

NOTE * To be fair, as stated this an example of the Genetic Fallacy.

NOTE ** After Scalia attends a trade conference in Vegas.

NOTE *** One might argue that this is what July 4 does. I’m not sure if this conversation is that conversation or not.

NOTE **** Measures that would make edged weapons less lethal, like mandatory scabbards, weight, size, and shape limits, and regulating the sale of whetstones, oil, and emery paper, are justly ridiculed on all sides, with representatives of the rapidly expanding armor industry being particularly vociferous.

NOTE **** Although as an advocate of strategic non-violence who views “fear the government that fears your gun” as a proven rationalization, I don’t think so.

NOTE ***** Shit. “Identity.” I guess it was about tribalism after all. My reaction, too! Which is a topic for another post. Maybe I have to take all this back!

NOTE Adding, Gun Appreciation Day. I’m sorry. Anyhow, I can well see how “gun control” is an apple of discord that Obama has cheerfully tossed among us proles; and I can also see how Marshall would be more than happy to enable him to do that. And also, liberals might as well be given something to so, while the really important work of gutting the New Deal continues. On the other hand, at least to me, gun culture and whatever society we would like to pre-figure are antithetical, if only because endless expansion of consumer goods, especially lethal ones, is something we should collectively think twice about. So I am not sure what to do here, except to express my views with such clarity as is at my command.

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202 comments

  1. jake chase

    I don’ like them either, but how exactly would you confiscate all the automatic and semi automatic weapons already out there, assuming you could prohibit future sales?

    Maybe we are still as safe as we are because no predator really knows what firepower his potential victim has in the bedroom.

    1. skippy

      Jake… having a gun at home for protection – puts an idea – in your head, before any thing has – even – occurred, the head gets a false sense of prospective.

      Most theft orientated crime is done – when – no one is home. Now if there is some BTK sort of individual coming after you, they study your habits, hence will move when your at your most vulnerable.

      The only way to confront all the possibly’s, have the gun super glued to your shooting hand permanently, good luck with other tasks.

      Skippy… seriously… I only know of one individual that even came close to having it sorted. That necessitated having at least two guns in every room of his house, all in recessed press panel picture frames. That’s more than 25 guns alone, mostly to protect the collection he had down in his basement vault room.

      PS. shoot and ask questions later… barf~~~ Make up a story… eh.

      1. beene

        BARF is correct, just as patriot act protects citizens. The only person looking out for the 99% is self. Police react and only those interested in more restriction of rights want more restrictions even in regards to speech.

        1. skippy

          Gun Appreciation Day: Five injured at three gun shows

          http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-gun-appreciation-day-five-injured-at-three-different-gun-shows-20130119,0,2727285.story

          skippy… I used to actually kill people with guns, where most gun owners put holes in targets or hit stuff. People are more likely to injure or kill themselves or family – friends than ever use it for the intended propose of purchase. In my observations, guns only make people stupid.

          1. beene

            Shall we ban cars, or sporting events; life is full of accidents. Children get severe burns from fire shall we ban fire because a few will die from these injuries.

            Has having the larges prison population in the world help solve the drug problem, criminal acts, or our safety?

          2. beene

            No skippy do not think accidents where someone is hurt is funny or is the subject.

            Just like we cannot get enough of the great economic information on this site spread to enough of the population to get them to act in their own best interest.

          3. kj1313

            Beene,

            We regulate cars much more effectively than guns. Besides licensing, insurance and the numerous safety upgrades car manufacturers comes up with, govt planning has introduced numerous traffic calming procedures in many populated areas.

          4. optimader

            beene.. “Shall we ban cars…”

            gee how about qualifying and licensing drivers? Or not?.. an interesting libertarian thought experiment…
            Damn,I’ve always had an itch to fly… and I got my bonus check burning a hole in my pocket! I’m going to buy a P-51 this afternoon and go exercise my right to freedom of movment over Manhattan w/ a 65yo 1,650hp airplane!

            Afterall…planes dont kill…

      2. Art Eclectic

        Here is an example: my home was broken into 5 years ago, WHILE I WAS HOME. The intruder climbed in through a bedroom window. I only heard him because he knocked something off a dresser while rummaging around for valuables.

        I ended up confronting him in the bedroom with the biggest kitchen knife available and escorting him from my home, then called the cops.

        Couple of points:

        1) If I had a gun, it would have been in the bedroom. The instruder would have gotten to it before I did and then I’d be the one who brought a knife to a gun fight.

        2) You don’t really know how you are going to react in that situation until the moment. No way would I have ever guessed that when confronted with danger, I would pick up a knife and chase the guy out of my house. You can’t plan this stuff. You have LITERALLY only seconds to react, determine if the guy is armed, high on drugs, dangerous, and your life is in danger. Seconds.

        3) If that intruder had chosen a different home of a gun owner who was more reactive, somebody would have left in a body bag, and it might not have been the intruder.

        There’s a lot more to my story, but the bottom line is that as you said, unless you walk around with the gun no more than a couple feet away from you at all times, you can easily be surprised – then it’s a matter of who gets to the weapon first. You can’t plan for this stuff and unless you’ve had extensive training in handling emergencies that involve armed conflict, you have no idea how you are going to react in those couple of seconds.

        1. PQS

          Amen. If I have to hear one more “where does it end” whine from the Gunnies, I’m going to scream.

          I liken owning a firearm to owning and driving a car. You have to prove you know how to drive a car, and you have to wait to get a license until you are of age and can pass the test, so how is asking for a background check, a waiting list, or an onerous application process for a deadly weapon any different? Also, nobody who drives a car necessarily gets a CDL, or a motorcycle endorsement….those you have to train for and earn.

          The problem is that the extreme (the NRA, the RW, and the truly Gun Crazy) have dominated the debate so that even otherwise sane Gun Owners parrot their lines about Tyranny and other nonsense.

          1. jake chase

            Oh Lambert, you bruise so easily. But if you aren’t going to confiscate what exactly do you hope to accomplish?

            Any idea how many weapons are now circulating? Who has them?
            I think not. Prove me wrong.

            And stop pissing on people willing to waste time reading the stuff you pound out and making comments. Suppose we stopped? Where would you be then?

  2. Working Class Nero

    Marshall’s rant is an example of elite bourgeois New York opinion makers spouting their idealism at the rest of the country while the reality of their lives takes place in totally different circumstances. Interestingly, Marshall implicitly goes after WHITE gun culture (and shows a shocking amount of cultural intolerance) while totally ignoring BLACK gun culture which accounts for over HALF of gun murders in America. Because that is the bottom line in the US; there is an armed and dangerous underclass in America and elite bourgeois opinion makers are demanding that working and middle class Americans unilaterally disarm while doing nothing about the underclass. Now sure, having these guns for protection is probably irrational — it is somewhat unlikely everything will fall into place when the need arises to have one. But in the end Marshall fears underclass gun culture as much as anyone else but being an elite liberal he is smart enough to know owning a gun could probably do more harm than good. But he has no language available to directly express his fears of living in the midst of armed criminals. But his political dogmas do allow (even encourage) him to go after working class white males, so he vicariously expresses his outrage at them.

    When it comes to gun culture I am a lot like Marshall, I don’t like guns and I don’t want one. I happen to live in a country where the underclass is currently unarmed (and that may soon change if what is happening in Marseille spreads north) and so I am more than happy not to have a gun. In New York City, through the sixties and seventies, elite bourgeois liberals like Marshall were influential and they almost destroyed the city. Movies like Escape from New York or Death Wish express the zeitgeist well. In Death Wish, Charles Bronson plays an elite bourgeois architect with the same horror of guns that Marshall has. After his wife is killed he takes a trip to Arizona where he is introduced to gun culture and then comes back to NY and kicks some ass. That was a Hollywood fantasy of course; the white bourgeois started moving to the suburbs instead.

    New York was saved for the white bourgeois elite by hard-nosed realists who, while probably dead wrong about many things, were correct about crime. Most urban centers in America were not so lucky and are still run by idealists and murder is rampant. Most of these urban areas have strict gun control laws but for some reason the underclass ignore these well-intentioned laws. In stark contrast, gun control works very well in New York. Why? Because of Stop and Frisk where eighty percent of the people searched are young black or Latino males. Elite opinion makers like Marshall can demand gun control but without a semi-fascist state police physically disarming the underclass the laws means nothing. But just like the gifted child programs in New York have basically reintroduced school segregation so that whites and Asian in NY will send their kids to public schools, what’s good for New Yorkers is not allowed for the rest of the country.

    According to Mother Jones, mass shootings in America since 1982 have killed 500 people. That same number of people was killed in Chicago last year. Sure there are some differences; most of the people killed in Chicago were black. So if someone really wanted to do something about gun murders in America they would concentrate on America’s ghettos and they would implement a very expensive and very heavy-handed and very civil liberties unfriendly Stop and Frisk program. But elite bourgeois opinion makers like Marshall would be the first to scream foul and will demand working and middle class people surrender their guns instead.

    1. skippy

      Everything you just said, is just a socioeconomic reality of neoliberlism. First it was the native americans, then the blacks, then the Irish, the POOR, etc.

      Skippy… guns are just a sign of society’s over all sickness. Um ever think of addressing the root problem and not the symptoms?

      1. jake chase

        I think Nero is more or less right about NY and I lived there 25 years. Until 9/11 there were few places safer than Manhattan. Never had a burglary except once when we went to Europe for three weeks and my wife left the front door open.

        1. skippy

          Yes jake, I remember the supposed romantic good times too. Let not forget how it was manufactured… eh… you did not cross the imaginary line if you did not belong there… for the fear of reprisal…

          Skippy… wrong side of the tracks… DNA… racial hate…

        2. Yves Smith

          This is a complete misrepresentation of the chronology. I moved to NYC in the early 1980s. Crime was still rampant (everyone I knew who lived in a non-doorman building had had a break-in) but no one was worried about personal safety. I can’t tell you how many times I had my wallet stolen out of my bag, and I considered myself to be careful. You never, and I mean never, handled cash in public. The “violence” was all about taking property. Most people carried “mugger money”, $10 to $20 in their pocket so they could hand it to someone and say it was all they had on them. Despite all this, I never considered to be at risk of harm, just to be at rlsk of losing money. The one exception was the subways, women who wore gold chains would have them ripped off their necks, and they could really get hurt. I avoided the subways back then (not that I wore gold chains, mind you).

          Guns were already pretty well controlled then but this was well before stop and frisk. The concentrated policing of high crime neighborhoods was yet to come.

          Oh, and you really are racist. By contrast, in 1989 I had a very bad day at work on a Friday and was still upset Saturday. Went to 5th Avenue and walked north. The city was a smidge better then. I was carrying only keys, an umbrella (it was raining lightly) and a European man’s wallet in one hand (a clutch with a strap around the wrist). For most of the walk, I had the umbrella and the clutch in the same hand (clutch dangling from the wrist of the hand holding the umbrella).

          Just north of 100th Street, I changed from the apartment side of the street to the park side. I also changed hands, so the umbrella is in one hand, the clutch still dangling from the wrist of the other. Just below 103 or 105 street, a black kid comes behind me on a bike, snags the wallet, is able to snap the wrist strap, and take off across the side street to Madison Avenue. I go running after him (sort of pointless). A black woman on the side street infers what happened (kid got something from me) and goes running after him too. We both meet on the corner of Madison, the kid is clearly too far ahead. I call the cops from a pay phone.

          Two black men in a completely beaten up car, bad paint, come trundling up (remember this is before cell phones). The woman knows them. They offer to go try to find the kid or maybe the wallet, since he might have taken the cash and thrown it on the street where we can see it (as in the wallet and stuff like my drivers’ license was more important to me than the $ I had in it, I think I even stupidly had my passport in it because I was going to Japan a lot in those days). We go in the car in the direction we saw him go. We drive around fruitlessly for about 10 minutes. They take me back to where they picked me up. The cops arrived just when they dropped me off and clearly think I was nuts to get in the car with these guys.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Assume I’ve got a tree next to my house that’s got some kind of root rot. As a result, it’s got a dying branch that’s threatening the electrical lines going into my house. Should I:

        1) Treat the root disease only

        2) Cut off the branch only

        3) Treat the disease and cut off the branch

        4) Do nothing?

          1. Christophe

            Don’t tell the Canadian mint — they’ve belatedly made it their national tree. Perhaps it’s Leif’s Viking curse, lain patiently dormant for all these centuries.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s why I hesitate to use “tribe” because that airbrushes issues of class.

      That said (see under Genetic Fallacy) he does speak for a lot of people, and I think (on this matter) he’s got hold of something.

      UPDATE Adding… This is not hard. I, with Marshall, don’t like guns and don’t want them around me. This should not be hard to understand, since guns are designed and manufactured to kill and end up being used for that purpose, very often. And yet these views count for nothing in gun culturist discourse. I think they should.

      1. Working Class Nero

        Most sane people don’t want guns around them. But fear is one of the reasons some do arm themselves. And a lot of that fear is the result of failed policies pushed by bourgeois liberals like Marshall. But he is lucky, he chooses to live in a city that rejects liberal theories of crime and instead Stops and Frisks the underclass (oops that’s raciss now) I mean the Lumpen-proletariat and takes their guns away. But New York bourgeois liberal opinion makers and their associated army of lawyers and judges make sure nowhere else in America is allowed to have the same policies. And so sure, Marshall has a whole army of armed working and middle class policemen making life safe for him in the big city so he feels secure enough not to whine about not wanting guns around him (except the Stop and Frisking police’s). If he lived elsewhere, where many working class people live, he may change his mind a bit.

    3. diptherio

      “… that is the bottom line in the US; there is an armed and dangerous underclass in America…”-Nero

      Racist much? Underclass…I take it you mean “sub-humans”

      “So if someone really wanted to do something about gun murders in America they would concentrate on America’s ghettos and they would implement a very expensive and very heavy-handed and very civil liberties unfriendly Stop and Frisk program.”-Nero, again

      Sure, as long as it doesn’t affect you or me, right? We’re white and members of the “overclass” (which I assume is the opposite of your “underclass”) so no hassle for us. Of course, all those black people who’s taxes are already helping pay for a “very expensive and very heavy-handed and very civil liberties unfriendly Stop and Frisk program” might take some offense, but WTF, they’re BLACK and UNDERCLASS and everyone knows they just want to SHOOT YOU AND TAKE ALL YOUR STUFF!

      If I were you, I would keep my racist rantings to myself, otherwise you might end up sounding like a total jackass.

      Nice handle btw, very fitting. You do know what Nero’s famous for, right?

        1. diptherio

          Not unless you want to ban all ammunition (which I could not support). Unfortunately, the .22 long-rifle my Gramps gave me when I turned 13 uses the same rounds as an Uzi (or rather, vice versa).

          Not a solution, methinks.

    4. William Neil

      This sounds a bit like a Charles Murray line of thought here: how did all these bad character people come to live in our cities, and furthermore arm themselves? Working Class Nero, where do you live and read? What I read is that the Gulags from the Soviet Union aside, the United States, under a law and order campaign begun by Nixon, and continuing even long after the overall crime rates and murder rates have dropped – has more people behind bars than any other country – it’s called the Great Incarceration. In my own review of Charles Murray’s book “Coming Apart,” I remind him – since he’s laying on the bad character rap to the working class in America, taking a break from laying it on the black urban population: which had the great misfortune of migrating to American cities (It is called “The Great Migration,” by some authors after the mechanization of agriculture displaced tenant farming in the South after the Second World War) – just a the old industrial jobs were migrating first to more rural areas of the US – to escape unions – then to the South and West – liberty! – and then to Mexico and on to Asia.

      I would recommend two books for you to put the undenialble horrific conditions of poverty, guns and violence in the black urban ghetto into some perspective other than “a lot a bad people” in one place, of bad character, and I have been an urban social worker at one time in my life in Trenton, NJ: Thomas Sugrue’s “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit,” and Roger Lane’s “Roots of Violence in Black Philadelphia, 1860-1900,” which won the Bancroft Prize but you can probably live several lifetimes in America without ever hearing of it.

      And one more thing: New York has been conducting stop and frisk for some time now, and the nation’s jails are loaded with racial minorities serving time for drug offenses of various severity.

      I make no excuses for violent crime other than to say I’m glad I did not have to grow up in a ghetto surrounded by affluence. The gun debate, just like the great (largely black) crime debate of the 1960′s and 1970′s) is conducted along the following lines: when something goes terribly wrong in American, who is to blame, bad people/individuals, or societal institutions? For most of our history, we have laid the burden at the feet of the individuals of allededly weak character…and only rarely at our own major institutions…that dynamic informs much of the left- right “dialogue” ( hah!)…and I believe it can be a fruitful way of digging deeper into the gun debate.

      1. Working Class Nero

        I really like your comment!

        I haven’t read Murray directly but I have read reviews, and seen interviews, etc. I read somewhere that he recommended the German education system of early job training for less brilliant students and I think this is a really good idea. I know his latest book goes after the “proles” but my list is so long I just haven’t had time. It was not at all my intention to go after working class people; in fact I was trying to describe things from their point of view. I read a very wide variety of sources. I live in Europe but I grew up in the States and lived for a couple years in East Oakland so I know a little about the ghetto experience.
        Thanks for the book recs; I will get them.
        I agree that crime (especially black crime) has declined following the crack downs and especially the “War on Drugs” which is really just a euphemism for a “War on Black Crime”. Since most black crime targets blacks, this means that locking up more black men means fewer black victims of crime.

        What I was trying to point out was the hypocrisy of bourgeois liberals like Marshall who live only by means of a semi-fascist Stop and Frisk (the war on black crime on steroids) they are able to preach down to working class people who happen to live in areas where the cops cannot or will not enforce the law. I’m sure if most people could have the charmed life of Marshall they too would be against guns but if Marshall had to live in a working class area of East Oakland he might just change his mind a bit on the issue.

        1. William Neil

          Thanks working classnero. So on the questions of guns, violence, the ghetto, to arm or not, and the differences between those right on the street amidst and those observing from either the suburbs or much more affluent city neighborhoods, consider Clint Eastwood’s “Grand Turino,” which raises a lot of these questions. At the end, he choose a kind of unarmed martydom, although he feigned reaching for a gun precisely to provoke an armed grand mahem response to get the gang removed…which law enforcement was unable to do…and he doesn’t make the Catholic Priest look very good either, in getting there…I’m an Eastwood observer for reasons of understanding violence in our culture…and I’ve thought about the whole chain of male cultural heroes..Eastwood, Bronson, Willis…Stallone and on and on…and what they mean since the 1970′s backdrop of working class and economic decline…but I haven’t changed my mind…what can be a rational individual’s response,like Eastwood in Grand torino, living in a Hobbesian world of the or at the edge of the Ghetto, is, when everyone does it throughout the society…a pending disaster…

    5. ebear

      “Marshall’s rant is an example of elite bourgeois New York opinion makers spouting their idealism at the rest of the country while the reality of their lives takes place in totally different circumstances.”

      You mean like people who drop Mirabile Dictu and Quelle Surprise in their articles, as if everyone reading them speaks French?

      Nigga… say what?

      Gun Question:

      People out there want to kill us for speaking our mind, so how can I be down for my crew if I ain’t strapped?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq0_Kj6iWcQ

      Freedom of Speech? Yeah, just watch what you say.

        1. ebear

          By now I’m sure everyone knows what they mean since they appear ad nauseam. Can I suggest ¡Qué Sorpresa! as an alternative? There are, after all, more spanish speakers in NY than french and if you use it often enough NC readers might learn a new word.

          Interesting though (¡Qué Sorpresa!) how you jumped on my impertinence but failed to address my more serious point about protecting one’s self from assassins. Says something about your priorities, no?

          My priorities are clear and have nothing to do with the Second Amendment, which is a red herring as far as I’m concerned. I (like you) have an inalienable right to defend myself and family by any means necessary against all who would do us harm. I’d quote the First Amendment, but that’s incidental and merely states (not grants) the obvious.

          Most people will pass their entire lives without ever having to confront this issue, but it’s only a low probability until it happens to you. Not a moral or ethical argument (I’ll leave those to the intellectuals), just an observation that in a nation armed to the teeth it makes sense to be likewise armed. As for surrendering that right? You go first. I promise I won’t draw down on you.

      1. jrs

        It probably is a middle class thing, this desire for book knowledge. White collar middle class thinks, choices to a word not understood: 1) research it 2)pick it up by osmosis 3) ignore it as immaterial to the main ideas being conveyed anyway. But never “oh no, someone knows a phrase I don’t!”

        1. ebear

          People who drop French cliches (especially those ones) rarely have any command of the language. If they did, they’d realize how grating they are and avoid them. It’s an English school girl kind of affectation that seems very out of place in an adult forum, even if meant ironically.

    6. Gaylord

      “..elite bourgeois opinion makers are demanding that working and middle class Americans unilaterally disarm while doing nothing about the underclass.”

      Unilaterally disarm is a gross overstatement, and you know it. Just give up those ridiculous assault rifles and multi-round clips, and be subject to background checks. All very rational, unlike your statement.

  3. nad

    I think these comments are heading in the right direction.

    Guns are not the problem. They are a symptom. Guns do not protect “us” they protect the one holding it. We should be asking why we feel the need of protection.

    This is a societal problem in a culture founded in violence, from 1492 on.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “It’s a societal problem [sigh; shrug].”

      It’s a complex problem, and one way of addressing some aspects of it is to reduce the role that guns play in public life. I suggest mockery and derision for the open carry crowd as a fine beginnning and a way to start saying “No” to the dominance of gun culture. “Enough is a enough.”

      Smoking is a societal problem; we do less of it. Lynching is a societal problem; we do less of it. Many simple matters of a hygiene are societal problems; hygiene has improved. The common thread being that a lot of lives were saved.

      So, there are two ways to take “it’s a societal problem.” (1) shrug and do nothing and (2) do something, however small, about it. Which is yours?

      1. Ron

        Gun ownership is not a complex problem rather it reflects American men’s nurtured fixation with violence that is being passed along to a new generation of women via American media and entertainment formats.
        The reality is that guns available to purchase today would offer no resistance to military weapons nor would those owning any of today’s guns have access to the necessary stockpile of ammunition necessary to wage any kind of resistance or war beyond a few hours.

        The sole purpose of gun ownership today is commercialization of gun’s to push various corporate companies bottom line. Not complex in any manner!!!!!!!!!

        1. bmeisen

          Gun ownership is not a problem period if exploiters of our quaint 2nd amendment are confronted loudly with the only argument that has a chance in hell against them: GOD protected the Isrealites and got them out of Egypt, right? God protected Noah and got him on the arch before the floods came, right? God performed miracles, raising Lazarus from the dead, healing the Leper, replacing cut off ears ‘n such, didn’t HE?!?!? Where is your faith ye forlorn gun toters? God is going to protect us! ONly faithless sinners feel like they gotta go out an get a machine gun! Have faith! We do not need guns!

  4. Gerard Pierce

    There are some things that could be done – but won’t.

    It might bee interesting to challenge the NRA to help develop some gun education hours that would show what kind of cowards and losers were responsible for each of our recent massacres. They might be able to contrast this with their idea of responsible gun ownership.

    In the inner city, there are minority children killed and injured by people who think a drive-by proves something about themselves. Maybe we could teach them the real cost of their cowardice.

    We could even cover some courageous police who used violence carefully to actually serve and protect – and contrast their stories with badge-wearing cowards who shoot anything that moves.

    If we can sell an entire country on illegitimate wars, drone killings and assassinations, why can’t we develop some propaganda around honest and legitimate use of guns.

    It might be a little embarrassing for some in our government to be exposed as cowards and proponents of might makes right – but if it saves the life of just one child…

    Of course, none of this is as emotionally satisfying as choosing up sides and calling each other names – and that is why none of the things that might do some good will ever be tried,

    1. Ping

      Here in Arizona, amidst massive issues facing the state requiring thoughtful governing, our pathetic Governor Jan Brewer and captured legislature spent their time largly expanding gun rights, eliminating gun free zones, and providing sweetheart deals to corporations like private prisions (at the expense of education, infrastructure, vital services and resulting in massive property tax and other fee increases for the average person).

      They even eliminated the requirement of being certified(it was around a 40 hour course with being fingerprinted) to carry concealed.

      I was shocked by the reality of being around a population who can legally conceal a weapon they likely don’t know how to use safely similar to the feeling of being on the road with drivers who had no requirement to learn how to operate a vehicle.

      My father was a gunsmith and gave me a 38 detective special when I lived alone and INSISTED I learn gun safety and proper use. He would be disgusted at the lack of respect for safety and responsibility in the name of ‘gun rights’.

      The dialogue in the country on gun control and other issues has been taken over by extremists fueled by the gun manufactures and other special interests who have succesfully conflated warped version of constitutional issues with no holds barred rights.

      Here in Arizona, we have gun shows 3 football stadiums large and the Mexican drug cartels have used these formats largly to arm themselves better than the Mexican government, loading up on AK 47′s and all.

      The gun manufacturers have profited hansomely from this no doubt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t see why guns aren’t regulated exactly like cars, with everybody who wants to own and use one passing a training course and licensed.*

      * * *

      Of course, cars are just as much a fetish object as swords or guns, worse, if anything, and gawd knows they cause a lot more damage than guns ever have, but “Brighten the corner where you are” say I.

      NOTE * I understand this doesn’t take account of Collapse scenarios. Maybe today I am full of sunny optimism!

      1. RepubAnon

        Treating guns like cars is the best idea so far – it builds a path toward an emphasis on gun safety rather than “gun grabbing.” (Notice how the first response of a gun enthusiast is always “you’ll confiscate my gun(s)”?) It would also build a more realistic belief system about the “protection” offered by firearm ownership without sufficient training in safety and use.

        Guns, like cars, can be useful when under the control of a skilled operator. In the hands of the untrained, they’re a menace. Both therefore deserve similar regulation.

    2. bmeisen

      A car is a means of transport, in the USA arguably a necessary capital investment for individuals, certainly a facilitator of successful participation in the economy, one that can also play a stunnningly influential role in the identity-building process for diverse populations across the country. Used in vast numbers the automobile constitutes a pulbic safety and environmental issue of the first order. Therefore it is necessary to mandate that all costs associated with automobile ownership and use be reflected in their purchase and maintenance. Additionally individual vehicles as well as drivers must be recorded and/or licensed.

      Guns have limited relevance and use in any society that pretends to the degree of civility and/or morality currently associated with the USA. Arguably hunters should be licensed for firearms that are relevant to hunting. Perhaps there is a sport shooting element that could be tolerated. Otherwise there is no comparison between guns and automobiles.

  5. Tom

    Maybe a lot of the whack job gun owners with visions of paranoia about some menacing imagination of the government coming to get em have a mental problem to begin with.
    Maybe they have not mentally matured enough to get over the hump of objectification of everything – other humans included. You know the type – they treat people and objects the same way. They project their internal irrationality, paranoia impotence onto other human beings. These folks who objectify other humans lack the ability for compassion, beat their object wives or emotionally abuse their husbands. You know the ones who must project their power through an object like a gun…..a big gun that ejaculates bullets on demand…oh boy, in their mind they probably think…what power those other object humans must think I have… where in reality is; these objectifiers are just trying to make up for their own impotence and lack of ability to control the interactions they have with all the objects in their lives. Sad sad sad.
    Maybe no one who can only objectify other humans ought to own a gun.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I think most humans objectify others, and that most definitely includes me. Not at all times, not in all ways, but it’s a human failing. So that would imply that no human should ever own a weapon…

  6. JGordon

    “at the store, the restaurant, at my kid’s playground”

    From all this fear the gun grabbers have of those “scary” guns, Marshall’s kids are literally and actually a lot more danger from the food being sold in the that store, from the food being served in that restaurant, or from falling of a slide at the playground:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Preventable_causes_of_death.png

    In other words, gun grabbers are motivated by fear and emotion rather than by reason and logic. Just what government propagandists throughout history have always used to make populations feel helpless and docile.

    1. beene

      Great post. Nothing will protect us from our own ignorance and propaganda from government and news media.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          No, I don’t. I’m saying that the gun advocates’ argument that gun ownership is to prevent tyranny is a transparent rationalization, because with evidence for tyranny all around them, they haven’t done squat about it.

          NOTE I’m an advocate of strategic non-violence, so if gun advocates decided to take action, that’s how I would advocate they do it.

          1. ebear

            “No, I don’t. I’m saying that the gun advocates’ argument that gun ownership is to prevent tyranny is a transparent rationalization, because with evidence for tyranny all around them, they haven’t done squat about it.”

            When all else fails, it is righteous to take up the sword
            – Guru Gobind Singh

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiQoq-wqZxg

      1. Yves Smith

        1. In Australia and I believe the UK, when they made gun ownership illegal (or pretty much illegal), the authorities paid large premiums to recent market values for weapons that were surrendered.

        2. In Switzerland, you can own any kind of gun you want to. Owning ammo is illegal. A variant I have heard that might be palatable in the US is to make owning more than 3 bullets illegal, but I don’t see how you enforce that.

        1. ebear

          “A variant I have heard that might be palatable in the US is to make owning more than 3 bullets illegal, but I don’t see how you enforce that.”

          Clearly you’ve never fired a gun. In the heat of the moment, you’d have an outside chance of stopping an assailant, but only with a heavy calibre and only with great self-control. Two assailants? You’d just make them angry.

          How many bullets did the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto have?

          Speaking of self-control, why not resist the urge to comment on things you know nothing about?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I’ve never understood why gun culturists get mad when having discussions with non-gun culturists. After all (as I point out) they’re the ones with the guns.

            So shoot me…

          2. ebear

            “I’ve never understood why gun culturists get mad when having discussions with non-gun culturists.”

            Let’s see now, I’m a Neoliberal (check) an Austrian (check) and now a Gun Culturalist (whatever that is). LOL, by the time you people finish with me I’ll be sporting more labels than a hippy’s volkswagen.

            Has it occurred to you that I might be conducting an experiment in Media Ecology? I as much as said that a few months ago on the Dearie Me Whatever Shall I Do About Those Trolls thread.

            I’m interest in how the media shapes our perception – I could care less what anyone actually thinks. If you want to get a handle on me think Anton Wilson, not Anton LaVey, but I caution you, ebears are known to mutate. I’ll just add that the internet is no place for amateurs – not anymore. If you want to be effective in this medium you have to learn the new Kung Fu.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNqQTR_koCg

          3. skippy

            “I’m interest in how the media shapes our perception – I could care less what anyone actually thinks.” – ebear

            I’m interested in how shape… cough… fill peoples heads with MY shit, I don’t need second opinions or any kinda review and everyone can go fook themselves! – fixed for ya..

            Skippy… Kung Fu like on a movie poster or the actual self sacrificing sort? Your more like a movie poser – poster.

          4. ebear

            “Skippy… Kung Fu like on a movie poster or the actual self sacrificing sort? Your more like a movie poser – poster.”

            Sooner or later you’ll get the joke. Everybody does. Sooner or later.

          5. skippy

            Ah…. the old you don’t get it, but I do shtick, completely side stepping any other part of the comment.

            Skippy… Genki Sudo link was a complete crack up, like it brings any relevance to the issue. Go back to ring fighting viewing, probably more productive in your case.

    2. RepubAnon

      Yes, it is indeed a matter of risk management – which means the more times one is exposed to a risk, the greater the chance of it occurring. This is an excellent example of why we need increased safety regulations for firearms. I’ve seen lots of whack-job drivers taking crazy risks on the road when driving their cars – the more of these folks have guns, the greater a danger we all face.

  7. Dave

    I like the idea of responsible and competent folks having easy access to guns because I am not a hypocrite. I believe in equality and freedom of choice, something the “liberal fringe” seeks to deny people in this case. This is probably because down deep inside they are just another form of totalitarian. They also seem to feel that “they” are the only responsible people and it is necessary for them to control the masses.

    Women in particular are missing the boat on this one as a good handgun gives them both. The “liberal philosophy” denies this to them. How else can they protect themselves (and their children) from a large, fast man even if he is unarmed? Chemical and electronic weapons are not always effective. The police do not protect, as they usually come afterwards and take pictures of the mess, hoping to solve the crime.

    The elderly are also at the mercy of such people, as they can’t even run well.

    We live in a culture of violence and it is of our own making. Until this changes, responsible, peaceful, and competent folks should be allowed to be at least the equal of the bad people if they make this choice. The police cannot be everywhere at all times, so most folks that carry a gun do so because a cop is too heavy.

    1. run75441

      Dave:

      The amount of violence is decreasing. You do not need guns to protect yourself. Learn “wing chun do” as a means of protection. The smallest person or women can inflict quite a bit of pain on the biggest of men with little more than their hands.

      Most armed people stand a greater chance of shooting themselves first. There are no studies to support your other contentions.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “How else can they protect themselves (and their children) from a large, fast man even if he is unarmed?”

      I’m not sure I understand this. You’re saying that women are the weaker sex?

    3. Yves Smith

      The idea that guns are useful for self protection is utter mythology. We wrote earlier:

      Police forces are well aware of the Tueller rule, that an assailant within 21 feet of a policeman can generally get to him before he can pull his gun out and down the attacker.

      Get this through your head: for a gun to be useful, you have to have it out and ready to aim at a threat before he is close enough to get you. How often does that happen in real life? Even if you carry a weapon on you at all times, in the overwhelming majority of cases, you can’t get it out on time to do any good. Ditto in the case of a house break in (and in most cases, do you really think the assailants want to hurt people? They just want to take your stuff. Is it really worth risking your life and limb to stop them?).

      Say you hear noise that sounds like a break in at night. Think you can get to your weapon? Well only if it is in a bedside table but it is that accessible, you are more likely to have dead family members (domestic arguments, kids finding and playing with the gun). Oh, and what if you are in the basement or family room and you hear a forcible entry? How much good does that gun in your bedside table do you then?

      The statistics show that gun owners hurt themselves and family members in staggeringly higher numbers than they do any perceived threats (and that includes “threats” that were unarmed).

      1. fred

        You are amazingly wrong about the usefulness of guns for self-defense.

        http://www.cato.org/guns-and-self-defense?gclid=CMK66eXn-rQCFUjZQgodSDMAIg

        The FBI’s data shows that opposing criminals works and does so in direct proportion to the effectiveness of the weapon employeed. Also, the FBI counted an average of 213 justified firearm homicides per year over the period 2005-2010.

        You Progressives are driven by ideology, not facts. The facts are that murders happen to people in the vicinity of drug dealers, the rest of us are quite safe except for the massacres your ‘weapons free safety zone’ laws enable.

        We citizens know that having the capability to defend ourselves is important, and that the risks of owning a gun are very low, and very very low with reasonable attention. We used the NRA’s “Eddie Eagle” approach with our kid, he consequently never had any need to ‘play with guns’.

        We have loaded guns in our home, and always will.

        We are safer than those without such guns, of course.

        And in any case, you will not ever get the 2nd Amendment repealed, because we have the guns.

    4. jrs

      “How else can they protect themselves (and their children) from a large, fast man even if he is unarmed?”

      Is that the main violence threat women face or is it more often domestic violence? Ok, now then, how would having a gun in the home help with that? Would a woman be better off marrying a gun owner or a non-gun owner?

  8. Minor Heretic

    The huge myth that people seem to overlook in this debate is the myth of successful self defense with firearms. One of the generally unexamined assumptions is that people can and do defend themselves with firearms on a regular basis.

    First, just in principle, the experts in combat firearm use will tell you that every physical and mental capability you need to successfully operate a firearm (identify threat, choose target, avoid bystander, draw firearm, fire firearm, hit target) gets seriously reduced in a crisis. You get flooded with adrenaline, your heart rate goes up, blood vessels in your skin constrict, etc. You lose fine motor control, peripheral vision, hearing, you tremble, and very nearly hallucinate. This can be partially overcome by constant realistic training, but 99.9% of people don’t get that.

    The stats reveal this. On the street, cops only hit their targets 25-30% of the time. Civilians, maybe 10-15%. People mistakenly shoot themselves and bystanders.

    The NRA will put out extrapolated stats on how many people defend themselves every year. Somehow the number of gunshot wounds never comes close to the number of purported self defense shootings. There was a Harvard study that asked people whether they had defended themselves with a gun, and then asked the people who said yes, “What happened?” They presented the narratives to a panel of criminal court judges, who found that over half of the “self defense” gun uses were actually crimes. Maybe 15% were probably legal, and that is using the self justifying descriptions of the shooters.

    Other studies have come up with similarly disappointing figures. One found that an ordinary citizen having a gun in an armed confrontation increased his chanced of *getting* shot by 4.5 times.

    The understanding we should inject into this debate is to tell the people who want to defend themselves with guns that 1) They have a much higher chance of doing something unnecessary and stupid with the firearm, and 2) even if they got the opportunity the overwhelming probability is that they would blow it.

    1. Ol' Bill

      Yeah. THIS. The adrenaline-dump phenomenon is something EVERYONE needs to be aware of in discussing use of handguns for self-defense.

      Everyone (hi, DAVE) acts like they know exactly what the guns-as-defense scenario will look like, we’ve seen it all over the tv and movies, and it’s always controlled, skillful, discriminating, judicious, and the bad guys invariably get the kibosh.

      That’s total crap. It’s much more likely to be people pulling triggers without aiming, firing uncontrollably until the gun empties itself, massive loads of adrenalin and loss of fine motor control, tunnel vision, craziness and chaos. And that’s people with some regular training. For people with CC permits who maybe go to the range and plink at targets every couple of weeks, under comfortable and controlled circumstances, I’m amazed there haven’t been mammoth spikes in accidental gun deaths and attendant lawsuits. (And, maybe there have been; thanks to the NRA’s killing off organized data-gathering along those lines, we don’t know.)

      I think there’s such an impenetrable aura of romanticism and bullyragging attached to gun self-defense evangelism that it’s literally UN-realistic, meaning devoid of relevance to the reality of how our bodies work under life-or-death stress. That’s why I like Marshall’s take; it sidesteps the discussion about the efficacy of guns as a protection device (in which “experts” feel free to belittle and de-value “non-experts”) and make it a simple discussion about who gets to intimidate whom, in the public square.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “[A] simple discussion about who gets to intimidate whom, in the public square.”

        Exactly. I think that any conversation with a gun carrier in public is intrinsically coercive (“So shoot me.” (ha ha)). That’s why I oppose oppose open carry. I opppose concealed carry too, for the same reason, but at least there’s a licensing process.

      2. Minor Heretic

        Simply go to YouTube and type in “gun fail.” Then ask yourself whether there should be tighter restrictions on firearm ownership.

        Speaking to the NRA member: Yes, I know, *your* gun has never killed or injured an innocent person (yet). The magnificent symmetry of the law that allowed you to get your firearm without any proof of competency (and sometimes no proof of identity) also allowed those tens of thousands of murderers, accidental shooters, and suicidal people to get firearms. We can’t inconvenience them without inconveniencing you.

    2. A Real Black Person

      I think in a diverse country with weakening social cohesion, that allowing people to have more guns doesn’t make sense but It’s equally silly to expect the police to be always around to serve and protect everyone in a country where social cohesion is weakening. I think more gun education will probably be a partial solution.

      Gun control laws will be implemented in the societal context of growing social inequality, declining available natural resources, and weakening social cohesion . Gun control law may be able to put a dent in actual murders over tensions of who gets what of the shrinking pie, but it will due nothing to get rid of those tensions. If anyone says anything about New York City, I think I’ll be sick.

      New York City has effectively priced out most of the disenfranchised people most likely to turn to violence and crime…

      Gun violence mostly happens where there are poor people with few job prospects…and where there are psychopaths and bullied people (these people can be anywhere ).

      I can’t say much about violence in high-gun-ownership areas, like in the South. They seem have a history of glorifying violence, gun ownership and high social tensions that often erupt.

  9. run75441

    Hi Lambert:

    One of the biggest issues we have today is the lack of studies which examine the relationship of guns and violence and if there truly is cause and correlation. The last time the CDC took on the task of examining guns and violence, their funding was cut off by a Congress lobbied by the NRA. Studies need to be done to establish the relationship.

    A prison psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan examines the causes for violence in his book; “Violence: Reflections On A National Expedemic” which examines why some people are violent and others not. Much of it is has to do with status in society. Claiming violence is inherent in minorities as implied by one reader is nonsense. There is more to it than being minority and/or poor. Neither is it as simple as implied by the reader.

    As far as NYC, there does appear to be a link between the amount of lead in environment and violence. While the good mayor had an impact on NYC, maybe a more important factor, which also coincides with the drop then and today, has to do with the amount of lead in the air coming from automotive emissions. Leaded gasoline was eliminated just 20 years (seventies before violence began to decrease in the nineties. Here is Robert Waldman’s view on it as linked to a study on leaded gasoline. http://www.angrybearblog.com/2011/05/get-lead-out-ii.html I believe there is more to the violence we have seen in our society.

  10. diptherio

    The Gun issue reminds me of the Abortion debate and Gay Rights issues. Here’s something for the plebes to argue over while we continue f*#king them in the ass.

    As JGordon points out, there are more deaths caused by cars and junk-food than by gun violence, so it we’re really concerned with human life, we should maybe first outlaw those two things. Oh, and let’s not forget all the wonderful chemicals that our environment has been “enhanced” with over the years, courtesy of our lovely corporations. Whaddya think, have lead bullets or leaded gasoline caused more suffering in this world (and remember the animals here, let’s not be species-ist)?

    I understand that people carrying guns is creepy, especially if you didn’t grow up around firearms. I did, and I’m still creeped out by people who want to pack heat everywhere they go. But this issue, much like Abortion, is unlikely to see any major changes in the near future, school shootings or no (I could be wrong about this, of course). We might get background checks at gun shows, if we’re lucky, but definitely not a ban on handguns or assault rifles. Major changes in the other direction also seem unlikely. What we will do is spend endless hours calling each other names while TPTB merrily go about their business of looting the country.

    Imho, the gun issue is a waste of time (and for the record, I am a gun owner who supports bans on assault weapons and handguns).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Saying this again: I don’t see any stopping points in gun culture; it all seems like a self-licking ice cream cone designed for limitless expansion, and its been very successful so far.

      Occupy introduced (at least to me) the idea of political activity as pre-figuring the world we would wish to live in. Well, I don’t see gun culture as pre-figurative. I see gun culture as dystopian, as creating a world that’s even more dystopian than the world we live in now: More death, more objectification, more coercive relationships, more catalyzation of suicides and mad acts by the depressed.

      If people want to create what would be to me a dystopia in their own basements or their own homes, there’s nothing I can do about it and nothing I care to do about it. But public space is another matter, because it affects me and others like me, who apparently are to have no standing in this discussion at all. My “enough is enough” moment, as I said, was Sandy Hook, the NRA licking the ice cone again with a “more guns” “solution,” and the really bad arguments put forward by gun advocates, who seemed completely unwilling to accept that there were any externalities stemming from their victory in the culture wars.

      I think the immediate line to draw is an end to this “open carry” nonsense; if I want to see a guy wearing his [fetish object] outside his pants, I’ll pay admission at the appropriate private venue; I don’t want to see it in line at the coffee shop, or at the public library, or at WalMart.

      I think the larger public policy should be as I said licensing on the order of licensing for cars (far short, surprise, of what Obama is willing to do).

      1. diptherio

        Seconded. Open carry is ridiculous. Even in here in West, way back in the day, many localities required you to check your piece when you entered town. No one screamed “Second Amendment!” then. I would also go for banning concealed carry, but that seems like a pipe-dream.

        It’s weird to think about…here in Montana, even in the “big” cities, it’s not at all uncommon to see rifles racked in the rear windows of trucks, especially, but not only, during hunting season. It never even occurred to me how scary that might be, until I saw Easy Rider.

        The disconnect between your experience and feelings regarding guns, Lambert, and mine is almost mind-bogglingly huge. Weird, like I said. I was definitely raised in a “gun culture” in small town Montana. But we didn’t have gun violence (despite widespread poverty) and only a few people owned anything apart from hunting rifles. But man alive, did we ever love those rifles. And for good reason; there was more than one winter when my father’s and my rifles provided food not only for our own family, but for others.

        To suggest outlawing bullets to my people would result (with good reason) in howls of indignation. Your peeps, I imagine, would actually entertain the notion as utterly reasonable. Our backgrounds and experiences and assumptions regarding firearms are so utterly different that I despair of ever finding an solution that is mutually acceptable.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think any legal regimen has to take account of sensibilities and a situation like you describe. Maine is exactly the same way. However, the current legal regimen takes no account of my sensibilities whatever and has massive externalities as well.

          On ammo, I wasn’t taking about rifles but automatic weaponry. I think the trade off between not being able to fire automatic weapons in public places and not being able to fire machine guns at deer is pretty easy to make. (I assume that’s technically possible; if it isn’t now, it should be made so.)

          1. diptherio

            Sadly, it’s not possible. The same ammunition can be used by multiple different firearms. Uzi’s use .22 rim-fires, probably the most common round there is. Ammo is too generic to be able to meaningfully regulate a distinction between “good” hunting rounds, and bad people-killing rounds. Rounds is rounds.

            It’s the guns that are the problem: assault weapons and handguns. Like I said though, I don’t think their gonna be banned in the near future (or ever). The market is just too big.

  11. Dirk77

    I really like NC, but you Lambert and Yves seem off about gun control. The estimating the risks don’t seem to be done properly. I am no expert on this, but should I fear the tyranny of governments or my fellow citizens? History shows the former wins hands down. On the other hand, the USA does have a violent culture. What to do? Given what I’ve read so far, best option is the Swiss one: initiate militias. You could then disband to a large degree the professional Military which I think everyone on this site would think a good thing – including the soldiers themselves. Is this possible for the USA? I don’t know. But continuing with fuzzy headed talk like: “But even if it was possible that we could be just as safe with everyone armed as no one armed, I’d still want no one armed” is not going to sway many – I hope.

    1. Jim S

      I’ve been thinking about getting off my lazy butt and breaking out my old risk and insurance textbook to address your point. While simple in principle, risk management seems easy to mis-apply. Certainly death and injury due to criminal activity and the same due to irresponsibility can and should be sorted out and addressed separately rather than lumped together. The idea of applying risk management to gun violence is worth fully cooking rather than leaving half-baked.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Ah, the tyranny issue. A hardy perennial. After FISA reform, DHS/TSA, NDAA, and the “kill list” one can only wonder what triggers the recognition of “tyranny” for a gun culturist. Wait, I know! (“Gun grabbing!”)

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why is that statement “fuzzy headed”? It seems to me a precise expression of wants, which is all the writer claims it is.

      Turning this around: Do you regard (and see the end of the post) gun culture as pre-figurative? As the shape of the world as you would like it to be? I certainly don’t, and since, as I say in many ways throughout the post, I don’t see that there are any stopping points. I don’t want to live in a dystopia that’s any worse than the dystopia we already live in.

    4. Paul Tioxon

      The risk assessment for tyranny in the USA, due to an unarmed citizenry is a non-sense argument, because there has never been a nearly successful nationwide military take over of the US Government, except for the Confederate Army invasion of the USA. The US Government was attacked by the armed militias of the Southern States and considering that bloodbath, has been unbelievably considerate in the bending over backwards tolerance of the ongoing murderous rampages and individual shootings and tragedies of suicides by guns, accidental gunshot deaths by children and drunks playing with loaded weapons.

      The threat to the social order of the United States by private armed citizens and their associations, such as the Klan, The Minute Men, and the Militia Movement is the more credible threat since the members of these movements do NOT use Machiavellian techniques of politicking, 11th dimensional chess or even Jedhi Mind Tricks but instead, reach for their loaded guns. It is not government tyranny by force of arms that kills, maims and destroys the peaceful cycle of life in America, but the mass murders that go on every single day due to the wide, completely unregulated distribution of military weapons commercialized and sold to the civilian market and other handguns and long guns, that preceded the weaponry designed for the military.
      Even at Ft Hood, on a US Army base, trained soldiers, living under military law and discipline, were slaughtered by one of their own. The US Army could not protect themselves, so how can civilians hope for any better with such universal availability of any gun, even imported Chinese AK-47s, that were recently used to shoot a busload of women and children on a Septa bus in Philadelphia.

      http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/video?id=8291944

      Can AK-47 military assault weapons be banned from import, and bought back? Would this be considered the government taking away all guns?

      NO!!

      If an AK-47 import ban, along with a ban on importing any weapons at all, for the civilian market, hand gun, long guns and any other fire arm would this be a slippery slope, with the endgame being complete, forced and violent if necessary, disarming of the populace?

      NO!!

      In the slippery slope argument, any step at all, takes you immediately from point A to point B, so you should never move at all, unless you want to immediately be transported to a final destination that you never intended in the first place. This illogic is based on the slowly boiling the frog in pot starting with lukewarm water, and then incrementally turning up the heat until it is too late. Well, eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty and also for having children. It may be too much for some people to suggest that banning commercialized domestically produced military weaponry and all imports of any firearms is too much. But it is not. Existing hand guns, hunting rifles, shot guns do not need to be banned, but regulated so that they are not regularly being delivered into the hands of drug mafias and other criminals.

      Here is an announcement of an auction house that now, refuses to liquidate any firearms at all for estates or other customers.

      http://www.auctionzip.com/cgi-bin/auctionview.cgi?lid=1642795&kwd=guns&zip=&category=0

      Perusing this website for traditional auction businesses, that use this e-commerce site to extend their market, you can find hundreds of auctions every month for the sale of guns. Some are small offerings, some are quite huge, some are real collectors items and some are WWII relics, but mostly they are hand guns and shotguns and hunting rifles, not armory items, although, they too show up. All at auctions, not gun dealers. This is somewhat regulated. But what it shows is the massive amount of arms that the citizenry does possess, and which are not in any way shape or form the kind of military weaponry that is being is being proposed for regulation, bans and buy backs.

      Most of the guns will never be subjected to confiscation or banning, now or in our lifetimes. That is the other non-sense argument, that all guns will immediately be taken away, or soon there after AKs and ARs are banned.

      There will still be millions upon millions of gun owners with 10s of millions of guns, more than enough to outnumber all of the security forces of the combined local, state and federal police. All of the non-sense fear mongering and condescending comments that especially here at NC, we above all people should know that arguing for military gun bans is cutting our own throats. It is not. We are already being shot dead and wounded by the thousands every year, and it is too high a price to pay. The government is not doing that to us, our fellow Americans are doing that to us. I do not believe that most of the people in the NC community want to come for your guns, they just want to de-militarize civil society. Instead of all guns, we are coming for the gun industry’s profits. But, that would be a good thing. Maybe they can turn their metallurgy skills to designing ruggedized computer cases. That would be something I would buy multiple amounts of in all kinds of designs. You can still have your profits, but not in exchange for death and mayhem. Find another way to make money form you lost sales of AKs and ARs. You will live and so will we, at least, many more of us will live with less weapons of mass murder.

    5. William Neil

      Dirk77:

      You have opened such an enormous topic about the “tyranny” to fear I’m not sure how it can be addressed as a footnote to guns and violence, other than to say the left and right in the us of 2012 won’t agree on the sources of tyranny and what is meant by the term “liberty,” which is bound to come up in discussing tyranny. From my place in society, I have to ask myself,especially on economic matters, whether I have any representation in Washington, DC or my state capital, Annapolis? I strongly suspect that the great advocates for the gun rights who position themseves as defenders of liberty, have no problem with the capture of the political economy and all that was meant by Kevin Phillips in “Arrogant Capital” or Bill Greider in “Who will tell the People,” that our government has been captured by the private powers of the corporate sector, and the small businesses championed by both parties share, on matters of taxation and regulation, size of the “state,” very similar views to the “bigger fish.” From a “New Deal” perspective of Freedom and Liberty – I don’t know how these differences can be reconciled – they are as great as the differences in the society in the 1850′s…as many workers know all too well at far too many workplaces, you hang your freedom of speech up at the doorway as you enter your private workplace, especially on topics of “political economy,” the private workplace is, in many respects, a tyranny over its employees…of course you’re free to shop around for a slightly different version as a member of “free labor,”…the idea that I have equal freedom or liberty, of standing in approaching my representatives as the corporate minions on K street and all it reprsents…we’re living on a different planet…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The Federalist Papers are read across the spectrum so I think their perspective is a good one:

        The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

        That is what has been happening since Bush, with Obama’s “kill list” being the highest expression so far; the destruction of the separation of powers and the creation of tyranny are one and the same.

        * * *

        Yes, I know the Framers were either slaveholders or one degree of separation away from slaveholders. One might argue that gave them an extremely intimate knowledge of what tyranny was, and great incentive to structure political institutions to avoid it.

    6. Dirk77

      Thanks everyone for your thoughts, especially Paul. I have been listening to this controversy and wondering, like diptherio above, if it was just a distraction from much more important issues. But perhaps not.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The administration and the Democrats will surely try to use it that way. As I said:

        Anyhow, I can well see how “gun control” is an apple of discord that Obama has cheerfully tossed among us proles; and I can also see how Marshall would be more than happy to enable him to do that. And also, liberals might as well be given something to so, while the really important work of gutting the New Deal continues.

        But that doesn’t mean it is that way.

    7. Gaylord

      Your little Bushmaster won’t protect you against a drone attack. I guess you had better buy an RPG launcher, and harden your house like a fortress, to protect yourself in other paranoid scenarios you might have. Any fool who thinks they can repel the force of the U.S. Gov’t has only to look back at what happened in WACO, TX. You shoot at a G-man and they’ll cut you down so fast you won’t know what hit you. So, knock of the delusional “protection against tyranny” nonsense.

      1. c.

        Please also note that your little RPG won’t get near a drone, nor will a surface to air missile. You won’t hear, know, see or detect that drone until you’re a pile of smoke and ashes. They fly high. This is the US military, they don’t have to follow the same FAA rules the rest do as far as drones go. You might want to begin to question our allowance of killing of US citizens on foreign soil. You might want to begin questioning the use of drones for military and police surveillance on US soil. A gun would be most useful to have in such a situation, mostly to commit suicide.

  12. Lee

    The class and race implications of this debate are being largely ignored. Consider if you will this voice from one of our most violent ghettos. It was a response to one of the many, screeching diaries on gun control that are currently being posted over at Daily Kos. Needless to say, I’m on this guy’s side. I am reminded of Gil Scott Heron’s response to the news that Richard Nixon had been diagnosed with phlebitis, to the effect that rat’s bite us in the ghetto every day and it never makes the news.

    The “Oaktown” referred to is Oakland CA where a gang war is currently in progress. There were nine shootings and four deaths last weekend alone.

    “Israeli Arms sold for 80$ on 67/Flora. Guy has been in business since I was ten. Through the Heroin wars, though the Crack Wars, through the ‘Sewn Ups’ (Marijuana wholesalers) currently going on.

    The cops don’t give a shit about anything east of International and 11th. They drive through, but if you ask, they’ll tell you, “Nothing we can do, it’s…political.”

    I visit Oaktown 3x a week. All my friends are there. I maintain a variety of reasonable offenses, and gentrified safe zones are appearing as Whites get over their parents irrational fears. Still, something will always drag you to East Oakland, just a matter of time. I’m from the deep East Oakland (Murder Dubs/69 Ville Projects) and you have to be ready.

    If you look at the dead children in Oakland unmourned and causing hardly a ripple nationally, and then look at the flailing over the white kids at Newtown, I’m sure you can grasp my perspective on the current gun debate.

    My entire family has arsenals, but have had no incidents
    in 41 years, other than my Dad scaring off a few thieves.
    That’s not trackable in gun defense metrics. Neither is my daily stomp through bad neighborhoods. The realities of urban living in Poverty are being ignored completely; not a shocker to the brown skinned. Well, anyway, do your thing, we’ll see what the House lets through. Should be interesting.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Again, I don’t accept “tribe” because that ignores class as well as race. And NC isn’t Kos; I know how to write a partisan post if I want one, and this isn’t one.

      1. JTFaraday

        The only thing “partisan” about that comment is that it mentions a partisan blog and a partisan shill, Josh Marshall.

        That partisan shill still has a class identity apart from his partisanship and his status as a shill, and that identity– like all identities in a US deeply ridden with race and class differences– is inherently political.

        The commenter from Oakland left a political comment on a partisan blog. The fact that he left that comment on a partisan blog is the only partisan thing about it.

        There seems to be a tendency around here lately to reduce the meaning of the word “political” to “partisan.” This is just wrong.

        Just because you didn’t write a partisan post doesn’t mean you didn’t write a political post, and a post that is marked (and limited) by your own identity and personal experience, and it is fair for people to respond in kind should they be so disposed.

        I don’t have a strong informed opinion on this particular matter, but I can see that you’re here to patrol what people can say and that you think you have a right to do this.

        In that sense, you’re just like Josh Marshall. Maybe all the out groups in this country have a good point about you.

      2. Lee

        Naked Capitalism has many friends who also participate at Daily Kos and who often post quotes from and links to this site, which we regard as a valuable resource.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          From the Kos FAQ:

          This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog.

          Perhaps I should have written “NC does not share DK’s editorial mission.”

          If there is a sudden explosion of posts on a topic at Kos, it’s highly likely that there’s a battle going on, and that posts are needed to support the Democratic position. That’s not true for all posters, and it’s not true for all posts. It’s never true of an NC post, and it’s not true of this post.

          1. Lee

            Yet, you routinely grant permission to publish long excerpts from NC over at DK, which so far as I can tell have never been blocked. And there are a many at DK who share your views critical of the Democratic Party.

            I voted to the left of the Democratic Party last time around and stated so over there. Perhaps I’m not important enough to get banned.

            However, one would surely be banned for attempting to recruit for a third party. I don’t know if this policy is ideologically driven so much as tactically, in the belief that influencing or even taking over an existing organization might be more practicable and effective than building a new one from scratch. After all, the moderate and even not so moderate Republicans have essentially taken over the Democratic Party in my lifetime—something which I and others ceaselessly point out over there. On that tactical question I am an ambivalent flip-flopper.

            In closing let me just say, there’s a lot of love for y’all over there.

    2. RepubAnon

      One of Oakland’s biggest problems is a lack of effective police protection in the non-affluent areas. Armed street gangs now engage in drive-by assassinations and shoot-outs, where innocent bystanders end up paying the price. (One Oakland woman was killed recently by a stray round from a gang shootout. I doubt that her situation would have been improved if she’d had her own gun with which to join in.)

      My expectation is that ever-loosening restrictions on firearms would see the rise of street gangs as de facto governments, who would, in turn, restrict gun ownership to members of their own gangs.

      Tightening the regulations on purchasing guns and ammunition, however, to require both basic safety training and a background check would make us all safer. Criminals would have a harder time acquiring weapons and ammunition, folks feeling that they’d be safer with access to a firearm could buy one, and the rest of us could be reasonably assured that folks with firearms had some vague idea of safe handling procedures.

      Note: The brother of one of my co-workers was shot and killed in a drive-by a number of years ago. His crime? He looked a bit like someone that a gang member had a grudge against.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        No doubt as the police are withdrawn from “sacrifice zones” we’ll end up with local warlords. The banksters will be happy to do business with them, because freedom.

        1. Lee

          You seem to accept the inevitability of “sacrifice zones” with greater equanimity would appear seemly, sir, while the murder of white children moves you to a great pondering of this issue. I am appalled.

          1. diane

            Of course, I had to use a different fake email addy, than my last one, which worked until it quite conveniently didn’t, in order to post that last comment on a supposedly non capitalist free speech! Blog.

            I’m now feeling rushed to get this one passed

      2. Lee

        I don’t disagree with adequate regulation but in the meantime there are a lot of decent folk living in dangerous environs.

        About half a dozen times in my life, having a gun saved me from serious injury or death. Never had to fire it; just let it be known I had it. My mother similarly saved herself twice and me and my sister once.

        People who haven’t had these experiences, who have never had to cope with the horridly regrettable and, I would maintain largely correctable, social circumstances that give rise to these acts of violence, well, all I can say is that you are very fortunate in a way that many of us are not.

        Also, I do not like guns. I hunted once and found killing so distasteful I never did it again. Neither do I want to be a victim of someone who lacks similar scruples and believe me they are out there not far from where I presently sit.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Good point, if indeed guns offer protection. I understand the answer isn’t more police (if it were possible for them to be more). I wonder if there’s another neighborhood-based solution that’s been tried.

  13. William Neil

    Well, these are the thoughts I posted a few days ago at Bloomberg, and happy to share them:

    “I am a bit of a heretic on the whole gun control debate, which I believe is shallow, far too shallow as to the causes of gun violence. I write from the left side of political spectrum as a New Deal, FDR Second Bill of Rights social democrat, and I believe the nature and level of gun violence in our society reflects much deeper problems than being portrayed. It’s fascinating to watch the NRA – of all “institutions” – try to shift the conversation to the grounds of mental health care – which is more conservative than it first sounds. After all, Margaret Thatcher famously said there is no such thing as “society,” so how could there be broader social forces influencing individual behavior: it’s all bad people, not the fantastic number of guns floating throughout the society, and I do mean floating. And of course, gun violence couldn’t be seen as a sign of personal and societal helplessness, where the lone individual can find no way to deal with their problems other than grabbing a gun for the final going out statement.

    Although it is very true that Americans have never shied away from violence, on our historical frontiers and interactions with Native Americans, killing abolitionists and throwing their printing presses into rivers, and indeed, banning in Congress even the mention of slavery to block the hearing of petitions; the South portrayed by Cash in his “Mind of the South” was an especially violent place…all this is true, yet is it a coincidence that gun violence and the general level of violence in society dropped dramatically at a time when we had a better social contract, where the bottom of society had better representation in the workplace and a more just and generous share of the national output of goods and services? And can’t we trace a long trail of frustration with – in the very heart of our democratic institutions, so ably portrayed by Kevin Phillips (Arrogant Capital) and William Greider (Who Will Tell the People?), as the “grand bazaar” inside the Beltway ever more reflect the needs of business and the upper middle class meritocracy?

    This is a society that does not meet its people even half way in sharing the burdens of modern economic life; according to popular author Thomas Friedman, the workforce will be learning, schooling, self-educating until the day they drop into the grave because business itself has washed its hands in training its own work force, has cost shifted it to the individual and public educational institutions, and then claims they are the ones that are failing.

    This is just part of my view that in a nation with between 200-300 million firearms and tens of millions of distressed and miserable citizens – economically and psychologically – and the weakest societal programs in the Western industrialized world to try to bridge the gaps – I am not optimistic that what the President has put on the table can shrink the death toll, perhaps just reduce the odds.

    I would recommend that anyone who wants to understand the disintergrative forces currently loose in the society that form the deeper motivations behind the impulse to pick up a gun and cut loose, couldn’t do better than read author Wendell Berry’s Jefferson Lecture from April of 2012, delivered as the honor for receiving the nation’s highest award in the humanities. (It is easy to find by just googling “Jefferson Lecture.” ) Berry decried the “inhuman pace of technological change,” and in other essays I went to too better understand him, he also has written that hyper-competitive America has never been able to deal with the obvious fact of our declared economic system: how to deal with the “losers” in the competitive race we are so enthralled with.

    Could it be that the very “heart” of our system generates “inhuman” forces in our society, reflected in the helplessness of those most cut adrift from any connection to our remaining functioning institutions? Just think of how jarring Berry’s title for his lecture is when juxtaposed next to the “game face” we must all adopt, put on, to compete and survive in everyday life: “It All Turns Upon Affection.” This in a society whose very best colleges invited Wall Street to camp out for a good part of the year to recruit, the Wall Street which viewed its customers as “muppets,” where traders wanted, behind the scenes, to “rip their faces off” – and their competitors as well; where one of the chief instructors in a Wall Street training class was nicknamed “The Human Piranha.” Michael Lewis wrote of him this way: ” ‘His world was filled with copulating inanimate objects and people getting their faces ripped off…The Human Piranha, a Harvard graduate, thought nothing of it. He was always like this.’”

    I don’t believe the gun violence will be easily cured, but of this I am sure: pouring 300 million weapons onto the “state of the nation” that I now see before me, compared to that nation in other 20th century decades, is asking for a heap of trouble, and we’re going to get it.”

      1. William Neil

        Neither do I, Lambert, not at all. I just don’t see how an even more massively armed American is going to be a better place to live. By juxtaposing Berry’s lecture against many middle class and elite assumptions about our society I hoped to jar some recognitions loose…I do believe that the response to Berry’s talk given to the DC establishment – to almost universally ignore it…means that they cannot come face to face with the negative consequences of the forces they praise as the heart and soul of our economic system: competition and Creative Destruction.

        I might add something I didn’t have room for in my post above: some long time observers of the history of democracy in the West (JGA Pocock, Victor Davis Hanson) could argue on solid grounds that the armed yeomanry of society (Greek, Romans, Florentines…Jefferson’s farmers and their militias) were, could be the defenders against a professional military and the acommpanying overreaching state…I believe that whatever validity this line of argument once had – and it did have some good force – has been eclipsed by the huge changes in society and the relation of private firearms, even the military type rifles – to what the legally authorized forces, police and military carry. Much of the emotional power behind the guns advocates comes from the fears of the race/crime dynamic, but also what is perceived to be a hostile “state.” (coming together in you know who…)

        From the left, this doesn’t make much sense; from the Right, it is a carryover of a very old tradition into circumstances which can only lead to tradedies…of different scales…

    1. Lee

      Well said. Between the banksters and the gangsters an embattled middle/working class does not know whether to shit or go blind.

      I was just reading how the wealth and income of the 100 richest folks in the world could eliminate global poverty (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/20/1180541/-100-richest-people-could-end-extreme-poverty-in-the-world-right-now). I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this proposition but I believe it is certainly more true than false and that is truly an outrage.

    2. jrs

      I agree re all that is wrong with American culture. But I don’t think you have the basic facts right, violent crime has actually been going down for decades …

  14. mcgee

    This post does a decent job of exploring many facets of the issues raised in our society by the right to bear arms. It also offers little in answers for this very complex issue other than pointing out the infringement of one group’s rights by another.

    I’d point out that the most dangerous right we have and exercise frequently, is freedom of speech. How many deaths can be attributed to ideas? How many deaths can be traced to religious beliefs? Yet we still protect this right as the foundation from which all other rights flow.

    Truthout did an article tracing the Second Amendment wording to concerns from southern slave owners wanting to retain state rights to regulate militias(slave patrols). This quote in particular struck me:

    “In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.”

    I was reminded of the formation of the security state and pronounced lack of privacy we now enjoy as American Citizens. To a very real degree the majority in America live under conditions of slavery and I can readily understand the secret fear many gun owners have of their government. The paradox here is that any move towards limiting gun ownership is a confirmation for millions that their secret fear is a reality.

    Add in our culture of fear, a partisan divide that has become geographical, idolation of our military and the use of indiscriminate force, violent video games, tv shows and movies, establishment of torture as a viable investigatory tool and a propagandized media. What one can see is a miasma where any rational discussion is quickly derailed.

    My answer is to take a live and let live attitude with some common sense applications of rules that both sides can agree to, but by and large letting gun ownership with all of its dangers, continue as a choice for our fellow Americans.

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      How is licensing guns like cars not a “live and let live” approach?

      Adding… I think you’re ignoring the “self-licking ice cream cone” aspect of gun culture. “Live and let live” is fine in a steady state where boundaries are stable over time (“good fences make good neighbors”). We are not in a steady state. That’s why I’m drawing the line at “open carry,” exactly to draw a stable boundary.

      1. mcgee

        Where in the Constitution is the right to drive a car?

        Societies are never in a steady state and totter between stable and unstable. Your answer is to set a boundary where you will find comfort while antagonizing nearly half the country who already demonize their liberal brethren. Pushing the partisan divide even wider by feeding their fears and confirming their worst suspicions isn’t a move to promote stability.

        How much of the gun control debate is simple payback for all the issues we liberals have had to deal with on conservative terms? How much is this about trying to break a bastion of conservative support(NRA) since they have broken our schools and unions?

        I see this as an unnecesssary battle when there are so many more fights we should be focusing on.

          1. mcgee

            I alluded to why the “demilitarizing civil society” fight isn’t worth having by stating that the outcome of pushing gun control is likely to do more harm than good,

            How does limiting gun carry rights demilitarize our country that rules by force of might here and abroad?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not sure on that Truth-Out article (see here). For all I know, some Framers wanted to put down the Whiskey Rebellion just as much as others did slave revolts (and some of those others might well have been in the North, whether through financing slavery or actual slave ownership). In addition, focusing on slavery alone fits a little too neatly into the “my opponents are all racists” trope that Democratic loyalists constantly use for me to be comfortable with it.

  15. Jill

    There are two aspects to this which I believe need to be addressed simultaneously. First is to note that USGinc. is the arms dealer to the world. The military is in our schools, to include grade-schools, amassing profiles on children in order to recruit them to the military where there will be gun violence. I therefore do not believe Obama or 99% of USGinc. gives a shit about gun violence. So I must ask the question– why are the pretending to care at this time? Remember, this govt.’s DARPA gives money to video game makers for shooter games. This is the govt. that has uparmed to the teeth against its own citizens, to include possibly being willing to assassinate OWS “leaders”. This is not a peaceful, law abiding govt. addressing its citizens. It is a govt. of violence, for violence, willing to use violence against people anywhere in the world. I believe we must consider why this horrifically lawless, violent govt. suddenly decided it cares about lawless, violent behavior. Apparently what bothers USAinc. is lawless, violent behavior they do not engage in. Otherwise, all violent, lawless behavior including gun, drone and chemical/biological etc. weapons are fine. I think it is a mistake to lose site of USAinc’s. own action.

    I don’t have a gun and I don’t want one. I know people who hunt and people who shoot targets. I see no reason to be scared of people who own guns for these purposes. I am afraid of the violent people I know who have guns. I am afraid of them beyond the fact that they have guns. These are people who I have seen hurt their partner and or children. In some cases this harm has included shooting or attempting to shoot, these people. They scared me before they got guns and they scare me after they got guns.

    Yes, we could and should get a handle on using/storing/ owning guns. I can’t help but wonder how a govt. who specializes in the most brutal, capricious and evil violence will be ready to do that. I think this is a show for liberals. I wish it were something real, but I do not see how it is a real concern of USGinc. It would be a different govt., our society would look very differently, if it were a real concern.

    1. jrs

      Well said, I’ve contemplated the question to: how can this brutal thug government really care about gun deaths. Only to come up with several hypothesis:

      1) psychic splitting, so that maybe in some sense Obama really does care about U.S. gun deaths while muslim children become bloodsplats. But I am tired of trying to guess whatever is going on in the twisted funhouse mirror of Obama’s head. I do know psychic splitting is common but I think Obama is just calculating. Which leads us to …
      2) it’s just a bone thrown to distract progressives, while the safety net is gutted, the planet goes to hell, etc. etc. Considering that the proposals seem to have few teeth it may well just be a bone, and with few teeth a useless one at that (quelle surprise?).
      3) alternate hypothesis: the right is right (on this, they are wrong on much else) and it’s just further attempts at government overreach (but that assumes guns are even something the government gives a @#$# about. Why, when they are so much better armed?)

      1. jrs

        4th possibility: almost too Machiavellian to ever take seriously: debates like this do serve the divide and conquer objective. The country is almost impossibly divided as is so it’s not like it’s needed, the ruling class has plenty of apologists without needing any help. But just in case the masses were ever going to unite on seeing how badly they were getting screwed by conditions getting even worse. Oh look over there … it’s a culture war!

  16. Roland

    I am a former gun owner and a Canadian.

    1. I’m a leftist. Therefore I say, “Let there always be an enormous number of deadly weapons in the hands of a very large number of proletarians, since those proletarians may eventually get around to using those deadly weapons for class warfare purposes.

    “Weapons do not exist for the purpose of personal safety. Weapons are always, and above all, social and political things.

    “One can always hope that Americans will live up to their ancient reputation for doing the right thing after they’ve tried everything else. When that time comes, let the American proletarians have the appropriate tools and the skill in using them!”

    2. If today’s Americans were actually serious about reducing their national murder rate, they would simply legalize marijuana, instead of adding still more laws, giving their police even more authority, and putting even more people in jail then they do already.

    3. This current gun debate is not primarily about reducing the number of murders. It is about increasing the number of laws, and increasing the number of arrests, searches, seizures and trials, as well as increasing the number of prisoners. When that Marshall guy writes, “Cops, I don’t mind,” that tells us a great deal.

    Such, my dear Lambert, are the true dark kinky authoritarian fetishes of the contemporary American!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I agree that marijuana legalization is good, no, sane, policy, and that mass incarceration is bad. However, that’s just another variant (“really serious”) of the argument that many gun advocates use: If Policy A is not done, then Policy B does not need to be done. In reality, the two are orthogonal, both can be done, and the gains are advocatives. Why not legalize marijuana, and license guns like cars?

      The post is about the militarization of civil society (hat tip, NC commentariat); police being agents of the state, your response is not on point (unless and until we live in an anarchist utopia.

      1. Roland

        The militarization of “civil society” is a cute phrase, but it has not happened. The American public is not much better armed than it has been in the past, and it is certainly not militarized in the sense of military training and organization.

        Relative to their government, American citizens have seldom been so poorly armed as they are today.

        1. jrs

          “The militarization of “civil society” is a cute phrase, but it has not happened. The American public is not much better armed than it has been in the past, and it is certainly not militarized in the sense of military training and organization.”

          There’s always been lots of guns around but maybe there’s been a shift in how people think about guns. As the population becomes less rural, maybe guns become less about hunting, and more about Hollywoodized fantasies of killing bad guys.

          “Relative to their government, American citizens have seldom been so poorly armed as they are today.”

          Well the government owns enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world what 80 times over?

  17. jsmith

    Albuquerque Shooting: Teenager Kills 5 People, Including 3 Children with an assault rifle:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/20/albuquerque-shooting-2013-new-mexico-teenager_n_2516424.html

    Lambert and Yves are too f@cking polite.

    Gun people are f@cking brainwashed cowards who are actively caught up in a cycle of dystopian self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The United States is the most paranoid fearful collection of cowards the world has even seen as all it takes for millions of Americans to abandon their human decency and rationality is some good-looking propagandist to scare them before they go to bed every night.

    But at least you have your gun to protect you from the scary scary bad guys…or blow away your wife and children when you get laid off, right?

    JGordon posts the top 10 leading causes of preventable death in the US again and somehow everyone stops thinking at – wulp, at least it’s less than car deaths.

    Do any of you know what the f@cking word “preventable” means?

    Living in American good people try and reduce the numbers of death in each of those categories for the simple reason that those deaths are preventable however when we get to guns, hey, it’s time to get all metaphysical about concepts such as liberty and freedom and free will.

    F@ck that, coward America.

    You’re f@cking brainwashed and afraid. Period.

    Another thing, I love how “leftists” always talk about arming the proletariat blah blah blah. As a socialist who doesn’t even see coward America being brave enough to stay home a day from work in protest or join in a an active worker’s strike, don’t you think it’s a bit of a stretch think that you’re part of some Leninist vanguard?

    Give me a f@cking break.

    Posters who never post about anything else at this site and others all come crawling out of the f@cking woodwork to eloquently defend/rationalize their cowardice whenever the issues of guns rears its murderous head.

    One issue voters?

    How about one issue f@cking humanoids?

    1. jsmith

      Adding:

      It’s also f#cking amazing to me to see otherwise intelligent people who know that part of the propaganda battery used by the elite in this country is to make otherwise simple and self-evident issues “complex” “many-sided” and “nuanced” still fall for it hook line and sinker.

      Gee, where have we heard that sh!t before, huh?

      Gee, it sure seems that when the people in America finally start to realize that they are getting screwed and begin to ask for some changes to be made, why, sh!t all of sudden just gets real “complex” really fast, huh?

      Don’t want a sh!tty private health care system?

      Well, that’s a complex topic.

      Don’t want aggresive fascist war to be waged?

      Well, that’s also a complex topic that needs study and discussion.

      Don’t want children getting their f@cking faces blown off at school?

      Yup, just too f@cking complex for your little mind to handle, citizen.

      Oh, but I guess it looks like I’m just being too black and white, huh?

      I should let the better whitewashing angels of my conscience cloud the issue for me, right?

      F@cking pathetic.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Don’t be afraid to say what you feel, jsmith!

        * * *

        On “complex,” I disagree. Until in a crisis things correllate anyhow… But just because something’s complex doesn’t mean we should’t do our best to fix it!

    2. Roland

      America’s gun-owning proletariat has not yet accomplished anything politically significant against its overweening elite. That’s true. But must it always be true?

      America’s proletariat has been cowardly. That might be true, although that sounds to me like a lot of typical elite disparagement of the lower class. But I don’t see how disarming American proletarians would make them any bolder.

      It’s not your armed public who constitute much threat to the rule of law. Your elites are the ones doing that.

      Why have American leftists put themselves so wholeheartedly on the side of the elite-ruled institutions on this issue? Why have American leftists allowed the right-wing populists to take the correct line on widespread gun ownership?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        On the “gun owning proletariat” from Harris Surveys:

        Gun ownership is lower (17%) among people in low-income households (less than $15,000 income) and higher in households with incomes between $35,000 and $50,000 (47%) and between $50,001 and $75,000 (51%).

        So, another myth.

  18. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Do what you want- but until you DO start confiscating guns and do so in a sweeping manner, the US will continue to have a plague of gun violence. It’s the legacy of ALL colonial societies, a legacy of colonial violence and it cannot be undone in nice, polite incrementalist steps. Mostly this plague is and will continue to be the steady drip of “street” crime of the type which, as Mr. Nero so bluntly pointed out above, goes completely unmentioned by white bourgeois liberals like Josh Marshall. Reacting in knee jerk fashion to events like the massacre of kids in Newton Ct. with loophole riddled Assault Weapons Ban legislation and other restrictions on the sale of legal firearms will accomplish very little good -indeed really nothing at all- besides allowing Democrats once more to pretend like they care and they’re “really doing something”. I don’t care to see them repeat their customary farce of congratulating themselves and declaring the problem solved after putting Band-Aids on sucking chest wounds.

    Register all firearms. Tax their sale punishingly. Tax ammo sales punishingly. Make possession of an unregistered firearm a felony. Tax registered firearms ANNUALLY, and pay bounties to owners who hand their guns over for melting down, so that casual ownership is discouraged and guns are steadily removed from circulation. Add 30 years of automatic, non-paroleble slammer time to the sentence of any crime committed with the use of a firearm. Add 30 years for EACH COUNT of stealing a firearm, so that gun theft (which is an essential enabling crime to all the more serious violent crimes which plague American life) entails a de facto life sentence.

    If our politicians are not willing to push for REAL gun violence reduction measures like these, then they should at least not get in the way of people who feel they need to protect themselves from the heavily armed right wing zealots, the wandering psychos, and the millions of plain old career thugs whose depraved exploits still give local TV news channels 30 minutes worth of material every night of the week.

    1. Nimrod

      Confisication of guns isn’t necessary. Removal of for private production of assault and other “military” grade hardware.

      Lets note, the US has had bans on these types of armory since the beginning of the Republic. Another lie told by the globalist masters.

      50 years ago people owned rifles, shotguns and handguns. That was enough. If everything really fell apart, it fell apart. As a lay person, you cannot stop that.

      When I was younger, I used to steal from these people who hoarded these weapons. Sold them to inner city black gangs for a nice chunk of change. A guilt that I will bare for the rest of my life.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      But confiscating guns is a fantasy. Again, the gun culturists — although they refuse to admit this — won their culture war. The country’s awash in guns, exactly because they won. But we can at least stop with the growth by on “open carry.” And I don’t see anything impossible about getting to a licensing regime. (Hugh argues that guns are not like cars because their purpose is lethality and not transportation. I think they are like cars because their effect is lethal.) And finally, it seems to me that “rural” ownership is fine, especially given licensing (which wouldn’t include use cases like machine gunning wild animals, and so on).

      1. optimader

        Hugh argues that guns are not like cars because their purpose is lethality and not transportation

        Is there a better justification for licencing?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Effects, outcomes.

          It is not the purpose of fracking to emit poison into the environment, but that is the effect, and so we regulate.

          In other words, externalities…

  19. Nimrod

    The real problem is when the elite use “right to bear arms” to control them with fear and inferiority complex.

    Alot of these people end up doing the bidding of the elite and they don’t even know it. Very “similiar” to how marxist groups tried to use labor to gets its foot in the door 100 years ago.

    The Bourgeois society is based on saftey behind the walls. Excess gun ownership due to fear and inferiority complex tend to break down the walls and choas starts. The rule of law begins to collapse. For global capital owners who want to destroy the last vestages of tradition, this is welcome with open arms.

  20. Hugh

    I love some of the arguments I have seen here. There are so many guns in the country already so we might as well allow even more. With this kind of logic, one could argue that there is so much fraud and looting going on that we should do nothing about it and just allow more.

    Guns are not like cars although both can kill and injure people. The primary purpose of a car is transportation. The primary purpose of a gun is to kill and maim. Get the difference? And do not lay the guns are for defense on me. A large chunk of those who are killed or injured by guns are their owners or their family.

    The Second Amendment has been absurdly misread by a reactionary Supreme Court. Even so, Scalia’s opinion in Heller while incredibly idiotic does not give the carte blanche to gun ownership that most think it does.

    It is telling and profoundly hypocritical that gun advocates embrace the Second Amendment in order to protect their other rights against an “oppressive” government. Yet they have stood passively by or even cheered on the dilution and abrogation of those other rights.

    You don’t need an assault weapon or extended clips for deer hunting. If you do, you are no damn good as a hunter and just a danger to everyone else out in the woods. Nor is a handgun much good for anything other than hunting humans.

    Logic and evidence always get turned on their head in these discussions. We are told the majority of gun owners are “responsible” although we are never specifically told what that means. But of course the reason we have a gun problem is precisely because so many gun owners are not responsible. The dirty little secret is that for most gun owners having a gun available for defense and keeping it secure is an impossibility.

    For me, the mania of gun ownership is a totem for deep disempowerment. They may not understand all the economic and political issues that determine their lives but they do know or at least feel they have no control over them. They feel isolated and isolation breeds fear. And this causes a lot of irrational responses. They do not trust, with reason, their leaders and government, but they continue to support them often fiercely. USA!USA!USA! They do not trust each other. Yet our society only really functions through the trust we extend to each other. The wide prevalence of gun ownership does not make anyone fell safer but rather less safe, more at risk.

    To return to a point I mentioned above, gun ownership is not a counterweight to government abuse and excess. By keeping us isolated from each other, it helps keep us from uniting together to oppose the looting we suffer from the rich and elites. You really don’t think that the powers that be would back gun ownership if it really threatened their power, do you?

    And on that score, we have seen this all before many, many times. A tragedy > public outrage > official promises to do something > a pause of variable length to let the outrage die down > a few small gestures > more time passes, the gun lobby begins to take back lost ground among politicians, the industry admen stoke the fires of buy’em now while you still can and gun nuts go on buying sprees, you know before BB guns are outlawed > no major changes. When the next massacre happens, rinse, repeat. I mean Boehner in the House and McConnell in the Senate have already said they will oppose any meaningful reforms. So except for some CYA Executive Orders from Obama to show that he did his part, all this looks depressingly familiar.

        1. jrs

          I’m with you, if human life is valuable (and I can’t see how you can have a society that functions with any other assumption), then adult life is valuable too, not just children.

  21. Eureka Springs

    It is not in our citizenry’s best interest to disarm in the manner proscribed by American liberals or neoliberal’s such as Obama’s twenty three paper cuts today.

    There is NO peaceful liberal movement/party in America today. A nanny (Sarah Palin) liberal doth not a peaceful movement make. American liberals just reelected a mass murderer, a child murderer who wouldn’t even glose GITMO… who is 100 percent certain to murder again. A man who bombs innocents and waits until people and first responders arrive to help so he can bomb a scene again. Who also protected mass murdering torturers who came before him and has made much of their precedents worse across the board.

    And they want to tell me to let them be reasonable!

    Nobody is talking about both government and citizens laying down the same sized arms at the same time. Mr. Marshall may find comfort with a massive police forces always openly (or concealed) carrying, but I don’t. Much less are any liberals talking about prosecuting known murderers (President after President, and his buddy Brennan too) who will do it again. Nor are liberals demanding government lay down it’s weaponry and arsenal which dwarfs everything citizens under a poorly worded constitutional protection do have.

    I’m left of 99 percent of every American democrat on just about everything except these poorly considered knee-jerk reactions to CT. I can’t find one sincere anti war organization in this country. Much less anti-nuke, anti-land mine, anti death penalty, pro war crime prosecution, anti disposition matrix… And we the very, very few who insist upon health care or living wages as a human right are considered freaks who must above all else vote against our own interest in order to be “good.”

    You give me 25 percent or more of the American electorate who insists, unapologetically and at the ballot box, upon a slate of peaceful methods included but certainly not limited to what i mention above and I will be the first to melt down my piddly guns on live television and give up hunting which has over many years been over 75 percent of my meat protein diet. And I will encourage others to do so. Right now we don’t have 3 percent of the electorate who qualifies.

    For now the bi-neo’s iron fist is doing nothing but tightening its grasp… it is simply equally insane to be as highly armed as we are now as it is to consider disarming only citizens in the myopic manner proposed these days by a party of neoliberals and their head global killer. Especially when that’s what goes for the left in our society. The sincere left is missing a much larger opportunity to insist we look upon and mend the BIG violent picture. Using no bargaining chips at all and only asking the weak to be weaker.

    1. skippy

      What good is a pop gun against the – stand off – capabilities the military – police can deploy… really.

      Skippy… Its like identifying your self as a legit target… here I am[!]… blow me away! Better plans than movie trope please.

      1. optimader

        Political regime change by virtue of armed civilians? Fantasy.

        File under:
        Iran;
        Soviet Union;
        Iraq;
        Egypt;
        Libya….

        1. skippy

          Are you trying to equate any of those country’s with the american experience – potential…. oh boy…

          Skippy… the average american or tough sort would not last long on their own in any of those country’s. Even battle experienced WWI vets cut an ran at the sight of sabers… those have been significantly upgraded since.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “Even battle experienced ”

            The guys who didn’t run often failed to become “battle experienced;” although I suspect this is the real reason for a lack of more robust military operations and our quasi-withdrawals, veteran units tend not to do certain jobs after a time because they tend to level the playing field or are insane. Only the nuts will keep fighting.

          2. skippy

            That is a totally ambiguous statement, it has zero definition to history. Rightly or wrongly humans engaged in conflict are subject to certain reality’s, turning your back at close range on an combatant has only one outcome… a rout.

            Anywho my response was to point out that Americans are know where close to the level of experiences, that the nationality’s highlighted have undergone, through out their entire history.

            Skippy… to whit… guns will not remedy what ails it and what good is regime change when the majority of its citizens can only parrot canned political talking points, religious beliefs, gifted ideological bias funded by the oligarchs themselves?

        2. Minor Heretic

          First country in the Arab Spring: Tunisia, with the lowest rate of private firearm ownership in the world, at 1 in 1,000.

          Egypt, near the bottom at 3.5 firearms per 100 people.

          Syria, 4:100

          Libya, around 15:100

          Yemen, second highest after the U.S. at around 55:100

          I don’t see any necessary connection bwtween the existing rate of private gun ownership and the ability to topple a tyrranical government.

          If revolutionaries need guns, they get them somehow. If they don’t (See: Ghandi, Ang Saam Syu Kii (sp.?)), they won’t.

      2. Eureka Springs

        What’s not like it, but IS identifying oneself as a target is voluntarily or being compelled to registering in the disposition matrix as a gun owner. Like others have mentioned… it’s a right, not a privilege.

        And though we don’t even try to really gather data/answer your first question that I know of… I can only reasonably (to me) assume that our big brother could and would be much more abusive if it didn’t have to consider such a widely well armed citizenry. It may not stop them, but at this point and the way things are heading I will take whatever pause I can get.

        I seem to recall during L.A. Rodney King riots… police/state left the scene due to well armed citizenry and things then calmed down.

      3. skippy

        “I seem to recall during L.A. Rodney King riots… police/state left the scene due to well armed citizenry and things then calmed down.” – springs

        WOW do you have it wrong…The rule is always make a token gesture of doing their job and then retreat to the already defined defensive boarders… cough… the good areas aka high property values and white people. They have never cared about them burning or killing with in the dead zones.

        Skippy… I was living in Manhattan beach at the time, a friend next door worked at a bank, yet was constantly harassed for being black or the ethnic boundary line just south of Redondo beach pier… IT said… USA on the south side and Africa – Mexico on the other with a big doted line. Man that paint must have been tough paint… it stayed there for more than two years!

        1. Eureka Springs

          Sorry, Accepting your interpretation/memory as also true doesn’t necessarily make mine wrong.

          I was in San Francisco (for the last R.K. riot) running my first shop in a very tough neighborhood. I and many others boarded up the windows mid day and went home. And I still identified with the people, as I do now, not the matrix.

        2. skippy

          It is SOP across america and has been for a long time, that is not subject to interpretation or memory. In addition I was part of the first wave of instructors used to militarized the police.

          So yeah I calling you completely out of the loop, completely misinformed and/or just projecting your personal bias.

          Skippy… we used to call them bug eaters… they thought it made them tough… looking… snicker~

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why do you believe that gun culture is a bargaining chip for the left?

      For the rest of your post, I wish it were not true, but I think it is true: It’s an extended wish that the “guns prevent tyranny” talking point were true. In fact, it is not true, as the non-performance in the face of obvious tyranny by gun culturists proves.

      As for the disposition matrix, do you pay taxes? Have a known physical address? Have a driver’s license?

      Do you surf the internet without going through tor?

      1. Eureka Springs

        In re Skippy. OK I’m stupid. Thank all that is right with the world I refused to join the military as an ardently non violent person. Just because you did what you did is not going to convince me otherwise. Class war is certainly what you signed up for and waged and i never doubted it played a deciding role. I seriously doubt had the RKers had nothing but sticks and stones… the matrix puppets wouldn’t have stepped back so easily. Not before mowing the black lawn with bullets first.

        Lambert, I decided earlier this week the term “gun nut” is the new left N word. And though I sincerely believe and appreciate your constant efforts to find the best language as a part of your greatness… “gun culture” is not working for me, it’s still comes across as too sweeping a generalization. I wish I knew what to suggest…. I’ll keep thinking about it.

        As for prevention, I wasn’t suggesting it is wholly preventative… but clearly it is somewhat… otherwise this issue would have fallen by the wayside long ago… and more recently we would be drilling/owning every Iraqi oil barrel, mining and piping all across Afghanistan as well. Not the Chinese. What do you think either of those nations would look like if the people didn’t have weapons? And do you seriously believe the war criminal, intel, police state we have now will not turn further upon its own at some point? You think the tyranny we have now is as far as it goes?

        As for your last line of questions I hope you don’t expect an honest answer :)

        I’m leaving this now… hopefully next time we can talk much more about greater lines of nonviolent society as a whole rather than weakening those few rights we have remaining. At least disarming completely – gov’t and citizens if and when we do. Funny how even when I point out so much we are missing, very few if any acknowledge it.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, until I find a better one, “gun culture” is about the most neutral term I can find. For me, from the outside, it looks like the commmon thread binding that culture together is a common set of talking points that are not true, which I parody in the psot).

          On the last series of questions, I think the disposition matrix can be created at will, not exactly off the shelf, but from existing data. At the very best, the licensing process makes it a little easier, so weigh that against the externalities. It’s also a better way of saying “because tyranny,” but that’s specious. Resistance to tyranny because of gun ownership is one of those things that, if it were going to happen, it would already have happened.

        2. skippy

          Your hole argument boiled down to giving up gun rights, regardless of the other chaff like opines.

          Firstly it is highly questionable that it is a constitutional right to start with. Secondly its not about gun bans or hole scale confiscation, its about limiting the destructive power that is argued, is needed, for protection of self and property. Nothing you or others have said brings any factual evidence that imposing – limits – on the destructive capacity needs to be – super sized – in order to accomplish this task.

          Lets be clear, the vast majority of owners of such capacity have a net deficit to handle such weapons out side strictly controlled ranges (see link above ie The ‘Best Of’ Gun Accidents), that’s the reality, not the image the NRA or fetishistic mob like to portray and lets not forget ITS ALL ABOUT GUN SALES!!!

          Skip… “I’m leaving this now… hopefully next time we can talk much more about greater lines of nonviolent society as a whole rather than weakening those few rights we have remaining” – springs

          I’m tossing my toys out of the play pen and next time we’ll talk about nonviolent society gun ownership, because we need them to stop the *big bad government* from frightening us some more, as it has always stopped them in the past…. my gun tells me such story’s when I’m afraid…

          Skippy… maybe if youse folks realized how pathetic that pacifier was… then somehow people would find realistic options to the predicament, rather than childish beliefs.

  22. skippy

    Mortality
    All injury deaths
    Number of deaths: 180,811
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 58.6

    Motor vehicle traffic deaths
    Number of deaths: 33,687
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.9

    All poisoning deaths
    Number of deaths: 42,917
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.9

    All firearm deaths
    Number of deaths: 31,672
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.3

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm

    * A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership:

    Category
    Percentage Owning
    a Firearm
    Households 42%
    Individuals 30%
    Male 47%
    Female 13%
    White 33%
    Nonwhite 18%
    Republican 41%
    Independent 27%
    Democrat 23%

    Breyer dissent (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/08-1521.ZD1.html):

    Justice Breyer, with whom Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor join, dissenting. …

    The Court … asks whether the Second Amendment right to private self-defense is “fundamental” so that it applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.* …

    … the use of arms for private self-defense does not warrant federal constitutional protection from state regulation….

    In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self-defense.

    NOTE: In keeping with Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility, we are giving preferentiality to figures that are contrary to our viewpoints by citing all gun-related accidents (within and outside the home) for comparison with the D.C. council committee’s claim that, “[fo]r every intruder stopped by a homeowner with a firearm, there are 4 gun-related accidents within the home.”

    http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

    Skippy… even as a kid on the farm… we loathed major hunting seasons… trespassing… cover for thieves to operate under… cattle – livestock go missing… everything in the woods goes apeshit for the duration… artillery like salvos to bring down one animal… having to hit the dirt after branches start raining down on me… from wahoos just over the ridge.

    PS. my instructors in the army asked where I got my patrol skills from at such an early age… I explained… pissing off wahoos during seasonal hunting and some time non seasonal poachers too. Guns = USA USA USA!

  23. Malmo

    Just as there will be no platinum coin, guns are not going to be banned. Regultory tweaks will be the extent of it on the gun front. Nothing wrong with discussing these topics, but like it or not they are losing issues. Oh, and by the way, this isn’t a hard left/right issue, contrary to what this blog’s contriutors might think. I know quite a few far left folks who are leagl guns owners. In fact those are the only folks I know who are gun owners (leftists) given that’s the crowd I socialize with almost exclusively.

  24. TinaE

    I live in Texas. I grew up in New York City. When I lived in Manhattan, it was really easy to buy an illegal gun. In fact, if I wanted one, it would have taken a day or two.

    While in New York, I never owned, nor wanted any sort of firearm — I was young, worked for a while as a bartender, also did a short stint as a cab driver. Never wanted a firearm.

    Moved to Texas and legally bought a pistol. In fact, I now own more than one firearm.

    I live here with another old woman — I’m 73, she’s 65. We actually had folks shun us when we moved into our home. We had a window shot out, and our house was egged.

    As soon as it became known we were target shooters, all forms of harassment ended. We now have a good relationship with our neighbors.

    At the same time, being members of the greater LGBT community, I am forever amazed at all the Preachers, Pastors, Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and what have you, who call for our death. Some directly, others indirectly. This stuff happens all over the country. As far as I’m concerned, every LGBT person who is stable enough to own a weapon for self defense absolutely should.

    Frequency of attacks has risen. In some parts of the country, Police respond to attacks on LGBT folks in a “leisurely” fashion. Many are not investigated with any vigor. The same thing happens to many other minority crime victims — no matter the minority.

    I see the 2nd Amendment as a Godsend. In any case, whether or not the number of guns people own deters a “hostile takeover” by right wing extremists, or any one else, it does cause folks to think twice.

    In my humble opinion, the current furor that has led all sorts of folks, who never owned a gun before, to rush out and buy SOMETHING, is a major problem. Many know nothing about firearms, do not seem to be interested in learning, and are an accident waiting to happen.

    Most folks who are a part of the “gun culture” care enough to learn how to handle firearms safely, practice on a regular basis, and are careful with their weapons.

    I find punching holes in paper a form of stress reduction. It’s also fun. Gaining a skill is empowering — and I’m not interested in knitting, weaving, sewing, or tennis. I like shooting.

    The “black rifles”/”assault weapons”/”modern sporting rifles” that seem to be everyone’s focus are SEMI-automatic. One shot per trigger pull. There is no “spray and pray” with these — at least not if you want to hit anything. They are just rifles. In fact the standard military cartridge – 5.56×45 – is not as powerful as a.270 or 30-06 – common hunting calibers. The “black rifle” has now become ubiquitous in many different target shooting competitions. I think they scare folks who know nothing about guns.

    A firearm is not dangerous if I’m not dangerous. It’s that simple. Most of the talk about guns is bull****.

  25. Timothy Gawne

    Well. First things first. We should band guns for rich people.

    Funny how guns are only bad for the working class – a rich person can be armed with enough weapons to outfit a reinforced brigade and that’s cool.

    What, you say that rich people are bigger target? Excuse me? Some rich banker in a gated community like kilometers away from anybody making less than six figures is more at risk than someone working in a liquor store in a bad part of town? Like bloody hell.

    Let the rich give up their guns and call 911 when they get in trouble, like they want for the rest of us, and we’ll talk.

    1. Roland

      Rich people have hire security contractors.

      Corporations have virtually their own private paramilitaries.

      Lambert’s “militarization of civil society” is really nothing but the 1% girding for escalation in the class war they’ve already been waging on the rest of us for the last several decades.

      In the face of this, most of the American left demands that the people submit to yet more restriction on their access weapons, and that they grant to the police even more arbitrary power of search, surveillance and seizure.

      In Stoller’s eulogy for Swartz which was posted a few days ago on this site, it was remarked that ordinary people are put at a severe disadvantage when prosecuted by the federal authorities. I find it disturbing that the proposals for tighter gun control would make it more likely that thousands more Americans could find themselves facing those very same federal prosecution authorities, and find themselves at the same sort of hopeless disadvatage.

  26. TinaE

    By the way, I’m rather left wing, pro-union, and vote for any Democrat that runs here in Texas. I know they are far from perfect, but all the “heighten the contradiction” stuff never works. A lot of very left wing folks are shooters. This is NOT a left wing, right wing issue.

    1. Bridget

      I’m rather right wing, although I do vote for the occasional Democrat down here in Texas. I don’t particularly like guns, don’t hunt, don’t participate in shooting sports. I have, however, shot many a rattlesnake in my yard. And even though it might take an assailant less time to get to a police officer than it takes for a police officer to draw his/her weapon, I know that lots of homeowners have successfully defended themselves against intruders because they hear someone in the house and are able to get their weapon before the face to face confrontation.

  27. jrs

    Really good post this is. “Gun culture” scares the pap out of me too, and it’s very much on display these days. And it’s overall vision *IS* dark, it is a dystopia.

    OTOH, I don’t have that strong opinions on gun control itself, one way or other as a broad thing. I can see both sides. I have no problems with restricting open carry though.

  28. kirillstp

    This is disgusting and hypocritical. I can’t even find the words, I’m so mad.

    Part of me hopes you get to experience your “nonviolent society”, and I mean really experience it. A glorious society where every man is a shrimp, regularly consumed by the ballen whale of “majority rule” disguised as democracy, and the reality of human nature.

    I myself will stop visiting this site, I’ve had too much. And before you start stereotyping me, the only time I’ve been in the USA was on vacation.

    1. jrs

      Probably why you think majority rule is a serious threat in the U.S. as opposed to what’s actually happening: plutocrat rule. But that’s ok, there’s plenty of countries on earth I don’t know much about either, though in that case I usually don’t comment on their politics.

  29. Gil Gamesh

    Points for taking down the monstrous idiot Scalia. Why anyone takes “Originalism” seriously is one of the mysteries of our time. Why anyone takes Scalia seriously is strictly a function of the enormous, unaccountable power he wields. Scalia (and his mute deformity Thomas) is “respected” much as the American “legal” is respected. Sheer force. Rational expediency. On the merits? NFW.

  30. JCC

    This site may be worth reading regarding a lot of these “facts” regarding self-defense and common causes of premature death in the U.S.: http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#crime

    As a gun owner I happen to also agree that gun licensing should be a little stricter, along the lines of automobile licensing, (I’ve taken a few safety courses over the years taught by police, military, and civilian hunters – they are always a good review and reminder of responsibility) but I also think that those that feel that gun owners are paranoid or, as one poster stated, not sane, are very much mistaken (either that or about 70% or so of my co-workers and friends are insane and paranoid :)

    Like most things in the media today, this has been hyped to an extreme degree, as in most gun owners are not part of a “gun culture” any more than they can be classified as a member of a “computer culture” or “car culture” or “Kuerig Coffee Brewer culture”. With that said, the media is hyping the hell out of the small percentage of owners that identify as being part of the gun culture, just as our illustrious president is hyping the hell out of chidren begging for guns to be outlawed.

    This whole thing, as usual, has gotten out of hand amidst the latest media field day, and the losers (if there are any – we’ll see) will be the rational and law-abiding people that choose to own a gun, whether for hunting, hobby, or self-protection.

    1. JCC

      My apologies for replying to my own post, but I forgot to add this to the above, from the link – “Of 1,662 murders committed in New York City during 2003-2005, more than 90% were committed by people with criminal records”.

      That ought to tell us something regarding gun control and our Gov’ts, both state and federal; as usual – punish the innocent and let the criminal class continue to operate – from Wall St to gang-bangers.

  31. nad

    Lambert,

    On this day you may wish to review the Riverside speech. Dr King, with his typical prescience, understood that in order to end gun violence all violence must end.

  32. fred

    http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

    More things Progressives don’t want to know about guns.

    E.g. 40 states have made it easy to carry a concealed weapon. Their crime rates uniformly decline.

    Deaths by gun accident are 0.5% of the accidental deaths, and at least some of those were really suicide.

    Of the actual muders by gun, the majority take place in zip codes with drug dealers. As with Prohibition-I, it is easy to end those murders, merely legalize drugs.

    The anti-gun agenda is entirely fact-free, driven by Progressive ideology and propaganda.

    Crime has continously decreased at the same time gun sales have increased, largely driven by Democrat’s attempts to restrict ownership.

    ‘Gun violence’ is a propaganda term, hiding the actual facts of deaths by gun, and ignoring all of the benefits of self-defense with effective weapons.

    Progressives don’t get into epistemology much, e.g. MMT and other belief systems, shared fantasy worlds.

    1. Hugh

      Did you know that in 50 states that have conceal carry the sun comes up each day? Correlation is not causation. And also you have to prove your facts. Which crimes? Are the numbers accurate? Over what time frames? What other factors might explain this? Waltzing in with cherrypicked unlinked unverified “facts” doesn’t mean a damn thing.

      Do you know of any zip codes in the US without drug dealers?

      I notice you do not cite how many people are killed with guns each year or how many were injured by them, or how many of these were children.

      Other than your biases, you have nothing.

      1. fred

        As a nation, we have survived more than 200 years with a 2nd Amendment.

        Suddenly, we have massacres, all of which are in weapons free safety zones mandated by “that is illegal laws” which few of us agree with, rather than ‘that is harm, in and of itself’ laws that we all understand and agree with.

        So of course you blame the gun, simple mechanistic thinking about complex systems.

        I think it obvious that we need to apply the Precautionary Principle here : we don’t understand enough about this system to do more than repeal the stupid laws that expect crazies to obey the prohibitions of ‘weapons-free safety zones’.

        You Progressives made extravagant claims about the future under your guidance, none of which have turned out. Indeed we have become a more civilized society, but you can’t claim that benefit without also accepting the fact that our systems are FUBARed : the poltical system is owned by the very rich, the economy is entering a world-wide Greater Depression, and social disorder is increasing.

        Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof : you have only negative examples.

        As for your critiques of my points (and there are tons more at places like http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp), that is the usual particularistic jibes that people who don’t want to face the facts produce. Just like the people arguing against the proposition that evolution happened, you can’t deal with the big picture, the logic, you have to nitpick.

        We have the guns. So just like the very rich own the political system and therefore all of NC’s nattering about failures of regulation are useless, as nothing can be changed, you won’t repeal the 2nd Amendment. That is beyond third rail.

  33. Roland

    The late Joe Bageant, who occasionally contributed to CounterPunch, was a rare American leftist who had a sympathetic understanding of his country’s “gun culture.”

  34. Jim

    I grew up in Alaska and since I was 8 years old have owned guns. I keep a loaded rifle in the house at all times. Not to protect myself and family from people but from roaming grizzly bears and moose.(yes at least once a year a bear comes into my yard)
    Obviously most of the above posters have never handled a gun more less fired one because if you had more knowledge of guns and how to handle them safely you would not be so afraid of them. My family and I go to the range every weekend to practice or compete in competitions. It has become our families recreational time together.
    With all that being said, I would support a law that would require all gun owners to take a safety course. I think you should be proficient with any dangerous tool that you operate.

  35. Jim S

    Lambert,

    With regards to technical discussions, the germane point it is that the term “assault weapon” as discussed in the media for these past thirty years is an arbitrary designation. For example, New York’s law draws the line at such characteristics as high-capacity magazines and bayonet lugs; however, the .223 Bushmaster used at Sandy Hook can be made legal by sawing off the bayonet lug and simply exchanging the 30-round magazine for four 7-round magazines–despite these changes, it is still the same weapon. On the battlefield the need to switch magazines more often is somewhat disadvantageous, but for the Sandy Hook shooter it is highly unlikely that it would have made a difference. As noted in comments above and in yesterday’s links, this is why the assault weapons ban of the 90′s was not really effective.

    So “assault weapon” is a propaganda term–and the interesting question is not whether the public knows or cares but whether the politicians know or care (the NRA only cares so much as it can be obstructionist).

    More technical discussion (just thinking):
    .223 cal/5.56mm NATO is militarily an inferior round to .30 cal/7.62mm NATO–all other things being equal, you are more likely to survive being shot by .223, especially at range. The reason the US military adopted 5.56 was primarily for logistical reasons, as a single round is between 2/3 to 1/2 of the mass of a 7.62 round, thus offering a reduction of costs of trans-oceanic resupply. The application of this to mass shootings is that if we wanted to control for the amount of ammunition fired it would be better to target ammo caliber rather than magazine capacity. For example, if we restricted .223/5.56 and not .30/7.62: supposedly Sandy Hook was littered with hundreds of .223 casings (for comparison the basic load of a US infantryman is 210 rounds of 5.56): if the shooter had been using .30, his load might have been limited to around 200 rounds (and Lanza was supposedly a small guy). Now 200 vs 26 dead may still seem like bad odds, but it’s reasonable to conjecture that it may have saved a life or two. The drawback is of course that .30 is more lethal (at Sandy Hook, however, the shooter killed most of the people he shot).

    1. Jim S

      As for mitigating mass shootings overall:

      Turning to risk management, it appears that there are three risk factors associated with mass shootings: 1. access to firearms, 2. childhood bullying, and 3. anti-psychotic medications. Controlling for #1 can reduce the severity of events but may or may not impact frequency; on the other hand controlling for both #2 and #3 would reduce frequency but may or may not reduce severity. It is hard to see how the weapons themselves would trigger a decision to kill others, but scars left by bullying or poor decision-making due to medication may be adequate explanations. The President directly addressed bullying in his last Order, but it will be interesting if any real discussion over prescription drugs occurs.

  36. LD

    What people in their concrete lives and police station right down the road
    Where rural people live you can count on waiting 30 minutes to an hour for any help, if someone was breaking in my house they would be long gone before the police arrived, this doesn’t bother me I chose this life. If there are 50 pigs in my garden I Har to shoot these hogs because they are tearing up my food for the year. We have big mountain lions, coyotes, snakes, wild dogs and a lot of other things. We do not have animal control. We are animal control, my husband and I have an alarm system we have a great dane, two rat terriers, and a hound, if these dogs attack someone with a gun we have Tim to prepare ourselves with our guns, to be afraid of a gun is to be ignorant, you are not scared of a kitchen knife? Pocket knife? Bats? These things are used in killings a lot more than guns. When people kill they are mentally ill, they have the right concoction of bad in their life. In Mexico thousands of people die because of drug cartels, the people can not own guns they cannot protect themselves. I will fight for my right to bear arms, who thinks they can change the constitution? The unchangeable laws of this country. Their will be a civil war over guns, you cannot tell me I cannot protect my child, or my husband he cannot protect me. All of you gun activists are lost and uneducated, why as rural people are we paying because your children have never hunted? My child knows the value of life, and he is four, he has seen fish caught and skinned, deer cut up an put in the freezer; the way God intended it. You eat this meat, you have to kill this animal. And so that animal you fed you care for you are now eating. It’s work, you have to use a gun to do it. Tell me ignorance, how will they kill your meat? With a shot? More chemicals pumped into you? My horse breaks his neck, my dog gets run over do you think I want to watch it in agony for 2 hours til the vet gets there? NO.. Stop being so ignorant   

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