Get your gun on

In  many north country households, there are guns and/or rifles, including my home. Gun ownership is common for farmers and hunters. On the other hand, I rarely hear local talk about the Second Amendment and the need to protect the public’s right to carry arms. In the December issue of the Atlantic, a feature article by Jeffrey Goldberg with this title: “The Case for More Guns (And More Gun Control)” and this subtitle, How Do We Reduce Our Crime and Aurora-Style Mass Shootings When Americans Already Own Nearly 300 Million Firearms? Maybe By Allowing More People To Carry Them.

Stated another way, Goldberg makes this case:

“According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun at home or on their property…only 26 percent of Americans support a ban on handguns…gun-control efforts, while noble, would only have a modest impact on the rate of gun violence in America…Why?…Because it’s too late. There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America–many legally owned, many not…The NRA is quite obviously a powerful organization, but like many effective pressure groups, it is powerful in good part because so many Americans are predisposed to agree with its basic message.”

Gun control–like abortion and gay marriage–is an emotionally charged and divisive issue. Goldberg talks to people directly affected by gun violence–including family members of those killed in incidents like that in the Aurora movie theater–and to those who argue on behalf of gun ownership. He looks at independent research on the connection between violent crime and widespread gun ownership.There’s some surprising data. Like this:

“Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades–less than half what it was 20 years ago.”

And, here’s where Goldberg cuts close to home: he dissects–and disparages–universities for policies that he describes as a “denial of reality,” suggesting that posting campuses as “gun-free” is ridiculous, and possibly dangerous, given the inability to enforce “gun-free” as anything more than wishful thinking.

Goldberg does not address the gun industry and America’s role as the major arms (including small arms) distributor in the world. That, coincidentally, is considered in a Salon.com article earlier this week, “America’s Gun Industry is Booming” by Jennifer Wilmore. No surprise: remember, 47% of us own guns.

If you are concerned about gun violence in the United States, I urge you to read Goldberg’s article–it’s a reality check. And, of course, the comment section is open if you’d like to weigh in on this one. (I’m taking cover now.)

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30 Responses to “Get your gun on”

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  1. Paul says:

    In the world of instant news the world seems less safe than it is. I have read that the chances of children be abducted is super low (maybe as low as it has ever been) but everyone is super scared that it could happen to their kids (me included). I think this is because when it happens 3000 miles away you still hear about it almost instantly. We are maybe living in the “better than the good old days” and thanks to the media we don’t even know it.

    As for the gun control issue. I think that many folks in the NC consider their guns for hunting but take some solace in that fact that they have them just in case. Personally my guns are so locked up and separated from the ammo that they are no use for defense.

  2. Daren Morgan says:

    Very good artilces and very good points made in favor of gun ownership.

  3. Mark says:

    I fully support the Constitution of the United States, with all it’s Amendments. I was sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States angainst all enemies, foreign and domestic”. I served for over 20 years. I still believe, and swear to defend the Constitution.
    This country is in dire situation. Radicals attack our citizens at home and abroad. We have elected officials that, I believe, are not friendly to the ideal on which the United States was built.
    In respect to the 2nd Amendment . . it was written to give THE PEOPLE the “right to keep and bear arms” to protect themselves from a prospective future tyrannical goverment. A government that attempts to take away the rights of it’s citizens. Much like the current government, both State and Federal, is doing today.
    I pray that we don’t see a new civil war or the same riots and unrest as in many parts of the world. We, “THE PEOPLE”, need to stand up and say this has gone too far. We make the difference at the poles . . . if you don’t/didn’t vote . . . shut up. You have no say.

  4. Paul says:

    The guy makes some very good arguments.

    I was looking for a good source for guns per capita by country and I saw this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

    There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between the number of guns per hundred and the homicides per 100K.

    For the US it is 2.9 per 100K and 88 guns per 100 people. A country that is similarly armed (Columbia) 91 guns per hundred has a homicide rate of 27 per 100K (10 times the US). In Canada it is 0.5 per 100K and 13 guns per hundred. The difference is probably that we are closer to the bad guys in Columbia?

    Ireland has about the same number of guns per hundred as the US (77) and it has the same number of homicides per 100K as Canada.

    BTW in Columbia the gun laws are considered “restrictive”. Any semi-automatic weapon is illegal (not just assault style).

  5. Paul says:

    Interestingly some of the places that basically have “no” firearms have a fairly high rate of homicides by firearms?

  6. Reformed_2 says:

    There is an excellent book written by John Lott entitled “More Guns Less Crime.” Well written without all the liberal hyperbole.

  7. tootightmike says:

    Mark’s comments bear all the hallmarks of someone who has been told too many times that he needs to worry, that there is a fear to be addressed, that someone is out to get him. Like illegal aliens who supposedly steal our jobs, people randomly having abortions for the fun of it, and worries that our country is being turned into a Marxist dictatorship, the worry about our guns being taken away is a sham.
    This fear, and the other fears I mention, are the work of those on the right. They are an effective smokescreen, put up to create a circle-the-wagons mentality, and to keep the population from noticing the real issues before us. While we hide in our bunkers, the future is being stolen from us…not by illegals, not by communists, not by the godless hordes, but by the capitalist elites who own and control nearly every form of media, natural resource, food-stream, and pretty much all the money.
    When they finally own it all…When the water is all polluted, the climate gone to hell, and the jobs all paying $3 per hour…you’ll still have your gun…and the only exit from this system left to you.

  8. Paul says:

    Tootight, by your comment it sounds like we have both extreme ends of the political spectrum pretty well covered here!

  9. Pete Klein says:

    I own a gun, technically not a gun but a rifle, and have owned it since my 16th birthday.
    I have never been opposed to guns but strongly oppose the NRA which I once was a member of until it felt the need to endorse executions.
    Could never figure what owning a gun had to do with executions.
    If you own a gun for self protection, you are probably deluding yourself and are a bit of a coward. The gun you own for self protection might end up being the gun that kills you because you kill yourself with it or your spouse gets sick of you.

  10. Paul says:

    Pete, maybe that is why I keep mine locked up so well. I figured it was for the kids but you can never be too safe!

  11. Ellen Rocco says:

    All,
    Let’s assume we all agree that it would be good for our society to eliminate illegal gun activity, gun violence perpetrated on innocent members of the public, etc. That being the case, what is the best route to reduce those activities? In light of Goldberg’s article, including his proposition that more widespread ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens might help reduce random gun violence, what do you think? More guns with stricter controls (like tighter safeguards at gun shows where guns are most likely to be purchased by criminal or mentally ill individuals)? Fewer guns with stricter controls? A gun buy-back? Ideas?

  12. erb says:

    Goldberg gives 3 examples where a mass killer was stopped by an armed bystander. In two of the three cases, the bystander was an off=duty law enforcement type, in the third it was the vice principal. In other words, it was not the gun but training and mental preparedness that allowed these civilians to act safely.

    Arming civilians is no more likely to stop random shootings than giving everyone their own nuclear weapons, because deterrents don’t work on crazy people. And limiting the firepower of guns might make these unpredictable events slightly less tragic.

  13. Jim says:

    That old bumper sticker that says “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” is a pearl of wisdom. Statistics from the UK and Australia, since both of them all but outlawed privately held firearms, show that violent crime has increased at alarming rates since the gun bans went into effect. Conversely, firearm friendly states in this country that have enacted open carry, or minimally restrictive carry laws, have seen violent crime rates plummet.
    One only need look as far as Chicago or DC, with among the most restrictive gun laws in the country both also have among the highest gun related murder and crime rates.

  14. When one “bans” firearms from a specific area, be it a mall, College, or whatever, you are creating a “Free
    Fire Zone” where criminals have carte blanche to do what they want….NYS has the toughest gun laws in the nation yet the politicans and Gov. Cuomo want tougher gun laws????????????

  15. tootightmike says:

    How about raising the minimum wage for starters. Better jobs would lead to less economic desperation. Maybe more money for education too. People with jobs are too tired to cause much trouble. Less money spent on military adventures would create fewer damaged and deranged folks, fewer suicides, and fewer violent deaths here and abroad.

  16. tootightmike says:

    And Paul….I hope so. I try to do my part. I get riled up sometimes when I hear folks trembling and worrying about stuff like this. THE scariest phone call I ever got was from the NRA, telling me that Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were coming to take my guns.

  17. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I think the best way to address gun violence is to address causes of violence and crime, rather than focusing on the use of a gun as a tool. Most gun crimes are committed by habitual criminals — people who have already assaulted people, robbed people, stolen, taken or used drugs. People arrested for guns usually have numerous priors. I think addressing the poverty, lack of jobs, bad schools and other challenges in our more marginalized neighborhoods is the best course, rather than focusing on a losing battle to keep guns out of criminals’ hands. Because with hundreds of millions of guns already in this country, that ain’t gonna happen.

  18. Two Cents says:

    I first shot a rifle in Boy Scouts.
    Rifles and guns are specialized tools. It’s important we learn how to use them correctly, safely.
    What we use them for is an entirely different story.

    My brother and i still use an old H+R 12 ga. that was our granpa’s.
    I believe in the second ammendment, and gun control.

    Can’t we have both?

  19. Paul says:

    “like tighter safeguards at gun shows where guns are most likely to be purchased by criminal or mentally ill individuals”

    Ellen, might be a good idea but is the premise correct?

    On the others would any of these things make any difference? The data seem to support the idea that none of them do or would?

    It looks to me like it isn’t a gun problem.

    What we need are fewer criminals and fewer mentally ill individuals , that is the only real solution that I can see.

  20. Paul says:

    “Better jobs would lead to less economic desperation. Maybe more money for education too. People with jobs are too tired to cause much trouble.”

    Tootight is onto something here. I don’t agree with all of it but I do agree with this part.

  21. Big Boox says:

    When this “gun talk” starts, I keep a couple of things in mind…number one, the easiest way to control a populace is to disarm them. The federal government, in it’s infinite wisdom, is working to do just that. Read the laws proposed at a national level, look at the pending UN Arms limitation proposal and guess what that will do to 2nd amendment rights. As the Government, federal and here in specious NY State tries to do away with private, individual rights, what will we have?
    The second thing that springs to my mind is that here where I live in the northern part of the county, law enforcement is 15 – 30 minutes away at any given moment. I can’t carry a cop around with me just in case…they are way too heavy, My cell phone has irregular coverage due to location, so help is some time away, so I carry a firearm if and when I feel it appropriate.
    All that being said, I like guns, I shoot on a regular basis, long guns, shotguns, handguns, airguns even BB guns. I have in the past been a competitive shooter at the state level on occasion and still enjoy shooting a lot. I resent not being able to buy certain models in this state due to crazy bloomberg like restrictions, I resent limited magazine capacities, and I resent those who continually seek to add more restrictions to my Constitutionally guaranteed right. We don’t need more restrictions, microstamping, Mayor Bloomberg, The Brady Bill Bunch, none of them, what we need is for the federal government, along with state and local governments to enforce the gun laws that exist.
    I am encouraged by the statistics that seem to correlate rising CCW rates with lower crime rates. Now I also am aware that statistics are just that, numbers, and I’m fully aware that some mortified ANTI gunner can quote the opposites, go for it. But rest assured that if me or my family is threatened, I am prepared to deal with it, to whatever extreme is necessary.

  22. More4les says:

    Our founding fathers new if it wasn’t for the fact that the colonialists had there own guns we would have never won the revolution that freed us from the tyranny that was Great Britain. To secure that we were never to be put under a tyranny again, from outside or more importantly from the inside, they wrote the Constitution that guaranteed that if needed we would be able to form and maintain a militia. At the time we had as good as or better weapons than the British. The 2nd Amendment is as important today as it ever was (or more so). These attacks on civilians having “Assault” weapons is ludicrous. We as civilians are allowed under our Constitution to a militia to defend ourselves (and our sovereignty) with equal power that could and would be used against us by a tyrant. We are also allowed to protect ourselves and property from those who would do us harm. Listen if you don’t like guns personally that’s fine. Many people in the Colonies during the revolution were just fine with Tyranny. Just don’t try and take what is our freedom, everyone’s freedom away.

  23. Ken Hall says:

    I too have had an involvement with weaponry since I was a young-un, both in my employment and without, and as does Ellen I own a few long guns, no hand guns (pistols). My brother died of a brain tumor, at the age of 46, which left him psychologically unstable for the last few years of his life and in the eyes of the state of NY unsafe to operate a motor vehicle so his license to do so was revoked for about the last 4-5 years of his life. Interestingly his psychological instability did not alarm those in control of his handgun (pistol) permit; or, perhaps there was no mechanism by which one branch of NYS government could/would convey to an other such information about a person. He had a valid handgun permit on the day he died.

    Per More4les’s contention that: “The 2nd Amendment is as important today as it ever was (or more so).” It is possible that the 2nd amendment had a secondary potential benefit, to the newly minted USA, of a forearmed militia ready to rapidly leap to her defense; a more likely principle benefit was to enable people on the frontiers to continue to be able to feed themselves by hunting. How many of the hunters that you know feed themselves and their families with what they hunt and grow in their own gardens and never darken the entrance to a grocery store today?

    I would hazard a guess that far more important to the US defeat of the British in our revolutionary expeditions was the invaluable help our forefathers were afforded by the French. The French used their assistance to the breakaway colonies to strike back at the British because of the 7 year war which they had lost to the British. The French provided money, weapons, troops and Naval power without which it is highly doubtful the colonies would have succeed in their endeavor to poke sticks into the King’s eyes until he relented.

    When I was stationed in CA one of my good friends and co-worker, a retired LTC, had a MS Nuclear Eng and a number of years work experience in the field. He was convince that a nuclear war was inevitable and the reason he had chosen to live in CA was that he was convinced the prevailing winds would minimize the fallout from surface or near surface detonations. To this end he had a small farm on the eastern foothills of the Sierra’s, replete food stocks, weapons, 10′s of thousands of rounds of ammunition and open down slope expanse to the west of his fortified homestead. When I pointed out that about 10 million humans lived between his place and the Pacific Ocean off San Francisco and that if they were targeted by nuclear weapons some of those millions of folks heading for safety just might stop by his place and what were his plans for that eventuality? It was beyond his ken to realize that all he was likely to do by shooting at folks was to seriously enrage the survivors such that when some of them did get to him and his family they were likely to treat them very unpleasantly. I reckon that folks who think like he thought are the types who find the semi/full auto-loading weapons with 20,30,50 and up round magazines/clips desirable/necessary.

    Something few of the self defense folks appear to consider is that blazing away with rapid fire weapons when the other party is likewise empowered is mighty hard on your ammunition supply. It is estimated that for each and every NVA soldier killed by American small arms fire more than 20,000, yes 20 thousand, rounds were fired by the US Army. Apparently not too much aiming going on when the other fellow is shooting back; however, as Colorado has demonstrated, more than once, those large capacity magazines work well when one is firing at unarmed folks.

    I can hear the self defense folks now “arm everyone or most everyone all day everyday”. That ought to work out well in a situation such as Colorado, a theater full of folks whipping out their open or concealed carry handguns and blazing away; likely be more dead and wounded than there were in reality. How about a limit on the magazine capacity of all weapons sold to the public with real enforcement of. Then if a lunatic, fortunately I no long am in the USG employ so I can continue to use the word lunatic, does obtain a weapon or weapons that are limited to 3-4 rounds total in the magazine the probability of a scenario similar to what happened in Colorado is vastly reduced. I know, I know too much like trying to do something about Global Warming too much of an imposition, costs too much, bad for business, ., ., .,.

  24. More4les says:

    Then limit the weaponry of the military and police. Too many liberals must watch shows with zombies or something. The real threat to this nation (or any other – look at Egypt today) is the government itself. We are getting closer with every election to a tyrannical dictator. Congress is less relevant every year. Our courts have no backbone and are not respected by those in charge. If this great experiment fails it might be the last chance for mankind.

  25. Paul says:

    Ken sorry about your brother. But it doesn’t sound like a problem. But you make a great point. How to track such a thing?

  26. Paul says:

    Ken, you make a great point. If the the DMV knew what was happening what is wrong with the sheriff. I assume they are the pistol permit guys?

  27. Paul says:

    Ken, I was hunting this evening. I put in 3 shells it seemed like plenty. You don’t need any more. But magazines are as not hard to modify. A law placing a limit is probably useless.

  28. Ken Hall says:

    I am discouraged when I read and hear citizens of the USA speak about the need for weaponry to keep the “government” from taking away the rights of self same citizens. I spent 10 years active duty (64-74) then worked as a DoD civilian for 17+ years (77-94). I do not relish being the bearer of hard to accept information; however, those who believe they have a snow balls chance in hell of taking on the US Military and/or police forces with small arms, regardless of the sizes of their magazines, are seriously deluded.

    I alluded to the problem of obtaining cooperative actions on any complex societal problem (political, legal, ., .) with reference to action to limit the effects of Global Warming by reducing global warming forcing functions. The reason we Americans have so many closely held personal antagonistic feelings toward our fellow citizens is that the PTB utilize modern marketing psychology to engineer BS mountains from difference mole hills to keep us at each others throats over petty arguments, thus enabling the uber rich to continue vacuuming up what remains of the once vast natural resources equity of the USA. Personal weaponry has been one of the most incendiary of the plethora of idiotic issues that have been engineered, by inciting the attitudes of two belligerent drunks arguing in a bar, to come between Americans.

    There is a mechanism by which the marketing psychology ploys of the uber rich can be mitigated; however, it requires something which humans are predisposed by evolutionary forcing functions to not be disposed. Thinking, real soul searching thinking, which unfortunately requires real understanding, which can be acquired only by real learning, none of which are required in the rush toward the primary goal of all Earth’s fauna, survival of the species.

  29. Robin McClellan says:

    I started writing this response a few days ago—you’ll have to excuse my tardiness, as I was away hunting—but in the light of the recent shootings in Connecticut, I have make a few changes. I started out rather flippant because, well, that’s that way I roll, but in light of 27 deaths, that is not only inappropriate, it’s ineffective.

    What came home to me as I listened to the coverage of the school shootings in Connecticut and thought about the idea of an increasingly armed populace is that it just doesn’t add up. Each of these mass shootings was one or two people, incensed with something, who found a way with a few weapons—and with any skill, one would have sufficed—to slaughter tens of people. Short of having an armed security officer at the school, I can’t imagine how arming civilians would have helped. Even in the case of the Portland mall shooter, how many civilians would you have to arm to insure that one was at the mall when the shooter opened fire? And of that armed group, how many would respond to the shooter compared to the number that would be the next shooter?

    But numbers aside, the Goldberg piece combined two rather unrelated things: the issuance of a permit to carry a concealed weapon and the ability to use that weapon in a tactical situation. He refers to “training” as a part of licensing, but the training that is offered is in how to use a weapon safely not how to use it effectively in a tactical situation. He talks a lot about off duty and retired law enforcement agents, but they have not only been trained in the use of tactical weapons, but they have had law enforcement experience. Even if they’ve never drawn their weapon in the line of duty, they have been trained and they live in a culture of tactical response.

    I own a lot of guns. I am a collector, a hunter and a marksman (in that I shoot at targets, not that I bring home trophies). I own and shoot a number of tactical weapons from handguns to “assault” rifles. But I would never consider myself qualified to carry a weapon and use it to stop a random public shooter. Would I try? You bet I would. But I might not succeed because I hesitated to shoot at the head of a clearly armored shooter. Or I might fumble something because I didn’t have the training.

    Tactical training is very different than gun safety. Gun safety is about being sure a gun is empty before handling it. It’s about considering every gun loaded and never pointing a gun at anyone, even in fun. It’s about keeping weapons pointed down range at all times. It’s about how to hold a gun and fire it deliberately. It’s not about seeing a situation, analyzing it in seconds, determining that it is life threatening (because that is the ONLY time you should ever draw a gun) and drawing, aiming—after determining whether you can shoot to disable or whether you have to shoot to kill—and firing. It’s easy to think of ourselves as heroes when we are speculating, but when the rubber meets the road, it’s about making split second decisions that may very well save or take an innocent life. And having the skills to carry them out.

    If everyone carrying a concealed weapon had tactical training that would be different. The truth is that we don’t. Civilians can seek out tactical training, but no state that I know of requires that as a prerequisite of a concealed carry permit.

    So what is the alternative? Do we try to limit guns? I am one of those odd animals, a gun collector who favors gun control. The question is, what kind of control? First, not the “Assault Weapons Ban!” Why? So how could anyone be against an assault weapons ban, it sounds so logical.

    The main problem is that the assault weapons ban focused on cosmetics. The law started with a long list of prohibited guns by make and model as well as a list of allowed guns by make and model. That’s usually an indication that they are using something akin to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s approach to obscenity, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [of obscenity]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

    The law goes on to a more general description of assault rifles (and there are similar descriptions of pistols and shotguns with the “two or more” proviso):

    “Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

    • Folding or telescoping stock
    • Pistol grip
    • Bayonet mount
    • Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
    • Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device that enables launching or firing rifle grenades, though this applies only to muzzle mounted grenade launchers and not those mounted externally).”

    So I’m a hunter and I have a number of rifles with a “pistol grip.” I would love to have a rifle with an adjustable stock and a pistol grip, but I can’t have them together. But I can have a rifle with a grenade launcher. Wouldn’t it make more sense to ban grenade launchers, bayonet mounts and flash suppressors on new guns and leave folding and telescoping stocks and pistol grips alone? But in reality, none of these features contribute to functionality that increases their deadliness in recent mass shootings.

    There is only one part of the law that could make some difference in mass shootings, the limitation of detachable magazines to 10 rounds. So limit it to 5 rounds. The question is, would this have made any difference? These shooters are generally pretty good aim and shoot very deliberately.

    In my opinion, New York State has some effective gun laws (with the exception of the Assault Weapons Ban). We have instant background checks for sales at gun shows. We have 2 types of handgun permits, one for sports use (you can carry handguns to and from the range and carry them during outdoor activities like hunting, hiking, sledding, figure skating…yeah, it’s a little weird that way) and one for self-defense where you can carry it anywhere except NYC (which requires a separate permit). I wouldn’t mind having a similar licensing for long guns, but I doubt it would have a significant impact on gun violence in the short run, but eventually it would.

    I actually feel that gun culture is as at the root of gun violence. Not that we have the right to bear arms, but that the right to bear arms isn’t, as NRA president LaPierre noted, “about duck hunting.” It’s about balancing the power of government. It came out of the British arrogance of power in housing soldiers in civilian homes and running rough shod over a rather prickly populace.

    To think that civilian gun ownership is any match for even police weaponry and training, let alone military weaponry and training, is for people who not only believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny but Peter Pan. But that seems to be what the NRA gun culture is about these days. They resent Waco and Ruby Ridge, but forget the outcome and think, somehow, that arming more people would have made for a different outcome. Despite our almost universal disappointment with government, we still do have remnants of a democracy. Despite the Citizens United ruling in the Supreme Court and the multi billion dollar spending on a presidential election, we elected a President and a Congress that reflect us—maybe not you and me—as a whole. I believe we live more in a plutocracy than a democracy, but I don’t believe I will change that with my guns. I can only change that with my voice, my actions and my passion.

  30. Bob Meyer says:

    Ridiculous Mr. Goldberg! What about the statistics that show gun violence in Europe [with effective gun control] so much lower then in the US? The gun culture in this country [and i am not speaking of folks like farmers, hunters and people who need or use firearms for legitimate purposes] is a national tragedy and needs to be changed
    In the wake of yesterdays shootings in Connecticut, what say you now????