Afternoon read: guns, guns, guns, guns, guns

Detail, front page of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association’s claim.

I was really hoping not to post about this today, but am behooved.

The horrible school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, provoked a nationwide discussion about guns and gun control that many had thought unlikely given the high levels of polarization that surround the issue. In New York state, that discussion quickly resulted in the passage of a new gun law, the NY SAFE Act, that is one of the nation’s toughest.

But of course we know all this — guns, gun control and the constitutional and other issues they call to mind have been all over the news for weeks now. Brian Mann filed an excellent story this very morning about how gun owners and dealers in our area are dealing with the new law (or refusing to engage with it). And that’s far from the only coverage NCPR has done on the issue. Tomorrow, David Sommerstein will file a story on a Potsdam man who bought an AK-47 from a local classified ad to make a statement about assault rifles.

The ongoing guns/gun control story isn’t one I relish — the gun control dialog is frequently one of America’s least functional (it’s right up there with abortion and the national debt), and every new story reminds me of the Newtown shooting and others. But on we must go, because it’s incredibly important.

This in mind, I draw your attention to two stories in the news. First, Your News Now reports that the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association has filed the first legal challenge against the new law, claiming (PDF) it violates the US Constitution’s commerce clause, among other things (this happened yesterday). It also describes the legislation as “impermissibly vague and overboard.” This isn’t a lawsuit, yet, but it may well become one. We’ll see what happens with that.

Also, the Albany Times-Union reports that Gov. Cuomo’s approval rating has dropped 15 points since the new law. It’s still quite high, though — it was at 74 percent, now it’s at 59 percent. That’s according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

274 Comments on “Afternoon read: guns, guns, guns, guns, guns”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    But wait, there’s more in the news:
    Gunman wounds 5 in Phoenix

    Man attacks school bus, shoots driver, takes child hostage.

    So I guess we need police on every school bus in the nation. How many would that be?

  2. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Of course it isn’t fair of me to bring up isolated situations to illustrate a point, even though I can find such stories ever single day. Usually several such stories every single day. Seems like a problem.

  3. Paul says:

    Knuck, when you point out these stories folks like RC see them as you making a plea for gun bans. You have already stated that you have no interest in such things, so what do you think is the solution to all this sort of random gun violence that occurs?

  4. Paul says:

    What a wild story. It says the guys would work on digging his “bunker” every other night between 2 and 3 in the morning? Perhaps normal activity in that neck of the woods?

  5. Mervel says:

    No he would be crazy everywhere, even in Alabama.

    I think many of the NYS laws provisions are essentially not enforceable. Why not have sensible gun control, but wait NYS already had many of the gun control provisions that we are arguing about nationally, but the Gov wanted to heed the call to just “do something” so he passed more laws and more regulations. The more I read of the law the more you see it is poorly written. Will it make a difference in gun deaths in NYS? Well that will not be hard to measure we will see.

  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, mandatory yoga and meditation.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay, that isn’t going to happen but I agree with most conservatives, we need to enforce the laws that are on the books. So it seems pretty hypocritical of people who are questioning the police on the thread about the Haddad guy getting arrested for possession of illegal clips. Law and order, baby, law and order.

    But part of the problem is in the varied restrictions across states. There needs to be a sensible minimum set of standards across the nation and those standards should include mandatory background checks for every sale of every firearm. That should include sales among family members.

  8. Paul says:

    ” those standards should include mandatory background checks for every sale of every firearm. ” Fair enough. In many places there are BG checks. Have they been successful at weeding out folks that should not be able to purchase a gun? Also, what are they checking (past criminal activity)? I think it something to consider how does it work and how will it work?

    I like the yoga idea. Never do it but some of my friends are big fans.

  9. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    As I understand it the failure to pass a background check is already a violation of some kind and many people fail background checks but are never prosecuted. There is one law that should be enforced. That person would be very likely to find other ways to purchase a weapon through a straw buyer or a private sale.

    Over time enforcement would weed out a lot of people who shouldn’t be buying guns but allow the honest purchaser to get the guns they are entitled to.

  10. Paul says:

    If you fail a BG check you can’t buy the gun. You really think that just failing a check is a crime? Maybe. In California where they appear to have a fairly good system they weed out about a little less than 1% of the potential buyers. Not insignificant. Now the question is of the crimes we are looking at preventing in the future what would have been prevented by BG checks? In other words who bought and committed a crime that would have failed a check that they did not get?

    Are the laws that say a convicted felon, that has served time and payed for his crime, cannot own a gun fair? Maybe. I assume this includes felonies that did not involve a gun also. Felony trespass for example. In NYS that would be trespassing and causing over 250 dollars in damages (breaking a window in many cases).

  11. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Latest on the Phoenix deal I can find is 1 dead, 2 injured, not 5. Stinks no matter what. And yes, had the bus driver been armed he would have at least had a fighting chance.

  12. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Paul, on the convicted felon thing, there are many people lobbying for felons to have their right to vote restored. If that’s good, then maybe letting them have guns is too. BTW, it’s any Felony and some Misdemeanors. The classic story if the guy who got married young, had a fight with the wife in 1956 and pled out to a Harassment charge from where she banged her elbow throwing a dish at him. 40 years later he finds out that a Domestic Violence charge and can’t own a gun. Post Facto laws! What a swell idea. Kinda liek Andys new laws that turned me into a virtual criminal through no action of my own.

  13. Peter says:

    I’ve seen many gun-rights advocates reply to recent events: “Enforce all the laws that are already on the books…”
    Two points on that. 1) The NRA and similar-thinking pols have done a darned thorough job of gutting the Bureau of ATF, blocking the naming of a permanent head, and preventing it from doing its job (enforcing all those pesky laws).
    2) If you folks really mean it, be careful what you wish for. If Congress will empower the agencies that have the task of enforcing firearms laws, you might rue the day you called for the Feds to enforce all those laws. And to fund enforcement, perhaps a few hefty taxes on non-hunting firearms and ammo? That’ll get all those libertarians aboil.

  14. dave says:

    “No he would be crazy everywhere, even in Alabama.”

    An anti-government gun owner who thinks the country is about to collapse and that he should prepare for it.

    That describes a heck of a lot of people… including a few that comment here. No?

  15. Paul says:

    Dave, NO. Not that I have seen. More info?

  16. Paul says:

    Nora, I think that guns stories are more prevalent in the media than they have been in the recent past. You never know what will make it to the top of the list. Yestarday it looked like the gun control testimony on the hill was the big story, the faltering economy that was a big story a few months back is now at the bottom of the list. If you guys want to write about guns, guns, guns, than that is what is covered. A collapse in consumer confidence and a retraction of the economy (a surpise to most economists) is no big deal these days.

  17. Paul says:

    I should clarify that guns are the big story because that is what the readers want to read, not just what you want to write.

  18. dave says:

    Paul, I’m sure I do not need to point out to you who the regulars are around here whose comment history clearly identifies them as: A) not fond of the government, B) gun owners, and C) of the opinion that we are headed toward a large scale economic, political (tyranny!), or social emergency.

    Reason for me pointing this out is that people read about this guy in Alabama, who is apparently known to have anti-government and survivalist tendencies, and their immediate reaction is to proclaim he is CRAZY!!!

    Yet my immediate reaction was to think about how many people I know who sound an awful lot like him. There is an entire sub-culture and political movement of people who share a lot of the same characteristics that are being reported about this guy. Heck, I could run down to my local diner tomorrow morning and buy coffee for a half dozen guys who fit that description. And right here on this blog we have at least 3 regulars whose comment history would put them very much in that camp as well.

    I’m not sure exactly what this says, but it struck me as soon as I read the news report and peoples reactions to it.

  19. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Peter, the ATFE has not undergone any massive cuts in personnel that I’ve heard of. More to the point, the agency appears to have some serious issues with accountability and judgment. Even Obama is coming down on them in light of recent botched sting operations. And to be accurate, if the laws we already have in place were enforced it wouldn’t be the ATF and FBI conducting more Ruby Ridge and Waco raids, it would be local LE doing the job, same as always.

  20. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Which is the better poker hand? 5 injured; or 1 dead and 2 injured?

  21. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, as I understand it (and I haven’t read the laws so I’m only conveying what I have been told by others) if you know that you can’t pass a background check and you attempt to purchase a gun you are committing a crime. Because I like to speculate, I would guess that you are asking someone else to sell you something that you arent entitled to and if you commit a crime with it the seller would be liable.

    Stories about guns being everywhere? Well, for one there was a big Congressional hearing, but in general there are breif stories of shootings every day in this country and Newtown has made us all focus on them. During the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars it would be striking to me that there was a count every week of soldiers’ deaths but often I would read stories of more gun deaths here at home and there seemed to be little awareness of it.
    We have become awakened to the fact that our streets and homes are nearly as dangerous as a war zone.

  22. JDM says:

    Gov. Cuomo’s approval rating has dropped 15 points since the new law.

    Makes you wonder about the polls that have gun control in the high 80’s and 90’s. Where? Mars?

  23. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Dave, when left wingers were charging the Bush orchestrated the 9/11, that he wouldn’t leave office but would create some emergency to declare martial law, that he and Britain conspired to plant evidence in Iraq, when they charge that Republicans want to end school lunches and throw the elderly and poor out into the streets, that they want to end SS, Medicare and Medicaid, that the NRA supports the idea of people owning tanks and flame throwers and wants school kids to carry guns in school….that sounds pretty crazy to me. When the VP of the US tells predominantly black audiences that Republicans “want to put you back in chains”, tell women Republicans want to outlaw abortion completely, tell hispanics they want to put all illegals in prison, say anyone on the right wants dirty air, water, to clear cut all forests and kill off endangered species….that sounds crazy to me. The difference is perspective. I think the nation is in for tough times, that gov’t is far over reaching it’s mandate, that we have very, very serious societal and economic issues to deal with. I’m concerned for our nations future and the world I leave for my kids. Is that crazy?

    IMO you bury your head in the sand about a lot of things. Not much difference between that and digging a bunker in your back yard. And if you’d bother to read the article, this guy wasn’t digging because he thought black helicopters were watching him. He was digging because he knew the law was coming for him because of his actions. Is he crazy? I don’t know. He’s certainly anti-social and abrasive. Of course famous liberal/environmentalist/anarchists like Ted Kaczynski aren’t crazy, are they? Leftist OWS types sure seemed completely sane when they were defecating on police cars and covering up rapes in their encampments. Mass shooter Jared Lee Loughner was a left wing nut job as was Floyd Lee Corkins who shot up the the Family Research Council headquarters, they guy that shot up the Maryland GOP headquarters sure wasn’t a conservative and neither was James Jae Lee the radical environmentalist that shot up the Discovery Channel building. But it’s only right wing nutjobs that are “crazy”?

    I wouldn’t go pointing too many fingers Dave.

  24. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Knuckle, as I said, it still stinks, but inflated numbers don’t do anyone any good.

  25. Rancid Crabtree says:

    knuckleheadedliberal says:
    January 31, 2013 at 7:42 am

    “Paul, as I understand it (and I haven’t read the laws so I’m only conveying what I have been told by others) if you know that you can’t pass a background check and you attempt to purchase a gun you are committing a crime. ”

    Having some knowledge of the way these things work, it’s not a crime at all if you don’t pass the NCIS check. Thats the instant background check. There are any number of reasons why you’d be denied and none of them need involve a crime. People are turned down all the time for pistol permits based on background checks and it doesn’t have to involve any crime nor is it a crime if you fail the BG check. Now a straw purchase or using a fake ID, yes, that would be a crime.

  26. Jim Bullard says:

    I have no problem with the 2nd amendment but I have a big problem with the way the gun rights groups groups interpret it. Claiming that it gives the right to own any type of firearm, including semi-automatic weapons that did not exist and therefore could not have been part of the founders thinking (no matter how prescient they were) without any restriction flies in the face of “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…” which sets forth the reasoning for the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”. It is the only amendment that explains why it is included among the Bill of Rights so it seems rather self-serving to ignore it. I won’t get into the argument over specifics of the new law but it seems rather obvious to me that “well regulated” means the government has the power to regulate the right to bear arms and that’s what the NY SAFE Act does.

  27. Paul says:

    “We have become awakened to the fact that our streets and homes are nearly as dangerous as a war zone.”

    Knuck, yet we know that this is totally untrue. That is my point, the coverage would make you think this but the statistics show that the country is about as safe or safer than it has ever been. Maybe the media coverage has you fooled into thinking that we are living in a dangerous “war zone”??

  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    So I’ve been doing some checking and it is hard to find the facts on this. But here’s something from Fox News (thank you Fox News folks):

    Nevertheless, NICS performs millions of checks every year, and usually in under two minutes. In 2010, the agency reviewed more than 6 million 4473 forms. Just 72,142 were denied the right to buy a gun.
    Among those denials, 47 percent were rejected because of a felony indictment or conviction. Yet, just 44 were prosecuted, and 13 convicted of lying on their 4473 form, according to a report prepared for the DOJ by the Regional Justice Information Service in 2012. That represents just .0002 percent of all denials, and an even smaller percentage of the total number of background checks.
    While the background check does deny guns to criminals, very few are punished for trying. And while a majority of lawmakers appear to support the system, there are lingering questions over to what extent it prevents crime. According to a 2000 report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found rates of homicide and suicide were not significantly different in states that had implemented the checks versus states that had not.

    Read more:

    So I guess the violation would be for lying on your background check.

    Interesting stuff in there. Even with what everyone seems to agree is a flawed system that needs some work, over 72,000 people were denied sales of weapons. Statistically I think it is very likely that some of those 72,000 weapons, if sold would be used in a crime of some sort. Also, something like 35,000 people should have been arrested for lying on their application. You better believe that if they started arresting people for lying on the application the would be fewer criminals applying.

    It is a real problem that so many of the people within the system don’t take it seriously enough. WE NEED TO ENFORCE THE LAWS WE HAVE.

  29. Paul says:

    Dave, did the guy in Alabama have anti-government tenancies? Also, I thought that his “bunker” was a storm shelter? Is the media working on you too?

  30. Two Cents says:

    jim i agree, but lets put as much emphasis on the word “well”.
    to me it means good/correctly exercised,
    not a measuure or amount of regulation.

    i think the more you try to define one thing or another, other things get defined too, almost as a defalt of it being omitted.
    we could never get it all right, but i think its clear the ultimate rule being broken here is when firearm possesion turns to murder.
    to use knuck’s card game analogy, thats the big trump card.

  31. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “Knuck, yet we know that this is totally untrue.”

    Actually Paul, it is obviously on the one hand hyperbole – and I’m using it before the Brownshirts come to take it away. I believe that we live in a pretty safe society and the people who arm themselves to the teeth or feel they need to carry a weapon to be safe scare the hell out of me.

    But in a sense I believe it is also true that we are in some ways a more dangerous society than some war zones. I happen to know some people who live in Kabul. They tell me that in general they feel safer there than in say, Schenectady. The violence in Kabul is directed at a target. If you stay away from places that are likely to be targets you are pretty safe in Kabul. But in the US the violence is often completely random.

    And where in the world besides Afghanistan and the US is a school likely to be a target for shootings?

  32. Paul says:

    “And where in the world besides Afghanistan and the US is a school likely to be a target for shootings?”

    German, the UK, Sweden, and Finland come to mind.

    “The violence in Kabul is directed at a target. If you stay away from places that are likely to be targets you are pretty safe in Kabul.”

    The same is very true for a place like Baltimore. But that doesn’t mean we are living in a “war zone”. What you are saying just doesn’t fit with the facts.

  33. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, I believe that what I say does fit the facts. The crime rate in Afghanistan is actually quite low, much lower that in many parts of the US. While there is some fighting at random locations sporadically across Afghanistan there are few murders un-associated with the “war”.

    “And where in the world besides Afghanistan and the US is a school LIKELY to be a target for shootings?”

    I emphasized the word LIKELY for clarity. Here’s list of school shootings worldwide since 1996. I’m sure it isnt comprehensive but it give you an idea what things are like around the world:

    To summarize, in the last 17 years, Yemen, France, Scotland, Netherlands, Sweden, Argentina, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Norway, Finland – 1 school shooting each. Canada 2. Germany 4. The US (get ready) 55!

    Now, I counted quickly and I may be a little off but jeepers criminy!

  34. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And while the Taliban blows up a school once in a while they usually avoid shooting the kids. The Taliban even is nice enough to warn many civilians the plan on killing or kidnapping beforehand.

  35. Mervel says:

    Knuckle is correct the crime rate for example in the part of Chicago where that young girl was just killed who performed at the inauguration is very high; likely higher than Afghanistan.

    But Chicago has strict gun control laws and has a relatively low level of gun ownership. Now we could compare that to very safe parts of the country, the upper midwest for example or Vermont, and we would see higher rates of gun ownership and fewer gun regulations. If you look at places like Wyoming or South Dakota you have close to 50-60% of the homes having guns in them, and their per-capita crime rates are much much lower than Chicago. These areas are war zones because they are war zones, of crime, desperation and isolation, not because evil gun pushers introduced guns.

    Removing guns from criminals would probably help, would background checks help that?

  36. Mervel says:

    The problem is that now we are moving to categorizing hunters and just normal people who own a gun as crazed, anti-government, bunker building doomsday types, this is not a good strategy. When you do that you move to a cultural battle, versus something that will actually make a difference in gun deaths. Most gun owners recognize the need for some background checks and restrictions on some weapons. I think most would go for an assault weapons ban. But what we see happening now is the anti-gun crowd or really to me the anti-hunting crowd over reaching and now this is about much more than just sensible gun control, they are losing the high ground.

  37. Paul says:

    Knuck, this “third world” that you are living in sounds almost as fabricated as where some of these doomsday preppers are living.

    Sure we should do something about these problems that we have but to try and portray the country as some kind of dangerous war zone on the whole is silly. In fact if it were true it sounds like the NRAs idea of putting armed guards at all the schools maybe a reasonable approach? Thankfully it is not.

    Knuck, the stats you show tell us that we have a problem not that we are living in any kind of war zone. We have a very large country with a very large population. All those people have the right to own guns. We need to come up with a way to manage the problems we have in that context.

  38. Paul says:

    So that is 0.000025882 shootings per school (125K) per year. No matter how much you are trying to scare me and my kids their school is a very safe place.

  39. Mervel says:

    There is a huge disparity in the environments that children are brought up in. Its a stain on the whole country that we allow some children to grow up in areas that are this dangerous. Our kids up here in general, have never met anyone who has been shot, in these parts of Chicago or New Orleans or Detroit, the opposite is true, it is very hard to find a teen who does not know someone personally who has been shot. It is a realistic fear for them to worry about getting shot in their neighborhood.

  40. Mervel says:

    I do think removing hand guns from 13-20 year old males who carry them around and are willing to use them in a fight or for revenge or if they have been disrespected, has to be a good thing.

  41. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Call it whatever you want, Paul. If you want to call 55 school shooting incidents in 17 years a “problem” I will agree.
    A school shooting rate almost 14 times the rate in the next highest country, yeah, that’s a problem.

    Let me make another comparison for you, since you seem to find my assertions so ridiculous. Let’s compare the intentional homicide rate of Afghanistan and the US. Let’s see the US homicide rate is 4.8 per 100,000. Hmm, doesnt sound so bad. Now let’s look at Afghanistan – those bloodthirsty people, you just know they are killing right and left – so what is it? Oh, here’s the number, 2.4 per 100,000. Exactly half the rate of the US. We had 14,748 and they had 712. They are about one tenth the population of the US so if we multiply by 10 that would be 7,120 vs our 14,748.

    Hmm, so it looks like a cold hard look at the numbers shows that we are more dangerous than the Afghans!

    If you want to look at lots more numbers:

  42. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Oh, by the way if people want to argue that guns make us safer the numbers above must prove that because they have lots of guns in Afghanistan and the numbers show pretty clearly that it is twice as safe there as it is here.

    They also have a lot more freedom there if you ignore all the women.

  43. dave says:

    “Dave, did the guy in Alabama have anti-government tenancies? Also, I thought that his “bunker” was a storm shelter? Is the media working on you too?”

    It has been widely reported that this guy is known as an anti-government, gun owning, survivalist.

    So yes, the media is absolutely working on me. It is providing me information. Information that you, Paul, would also have if you ever took the time to do some research and reading on your own. I would think that is a much more efficient way of getting the facts than what you have been doing… which is to throw out assumptions and false proclamations until people correct you.

  44. Mervel says:

    Canada is kicking our ass again! They have a rate that is like 1/4 of ours. I also noticed that the Canadian Dollar is again resting above the US dollar in value.

  45. dave says:

    “Dave, when left wingers were charging the Bush orchestrated the 9/11, that he wouldn’t leave office but would create some emergency to declare martial law, that he and Britain conspired to plant evidence in Iraq,”

    Yes, radical leftists can be just as dangerous as radical right wingers.

    Here is the important difference.

    I know of no one… not one single person… who actually believes any of the nonsense you just typed up about “left wingers.” I can not think of a single person on this blog whose comment history suggests they believe any of those things. I know no one who shares any fundamental characteristics or opinions with Ted Kaczynski.

    I’m sure these people are out there, but clearly they are on the fringes of society and conspiracy circles. I cannot, for example, drive down to the diner tomorrow morning and bump into one of them.

    On the other hand, the anti-government, gun owning, prepare for the collapse of our way of life crowd – of which you and this guy in Alabama are both card carrying members – are VERY prominent in our communities and in the conservative political movement.

    In other words, the scary dangerous people on the left have been properly marginalized. The scary, dangerous people on the right seem to have been embraced.

  46. Pete Klein says:

    You would think, after listen, reading and watching all of the overboard reactions by people who can only be described as gun nuts, that all of them would fail a background check or a mental health test.
    It is very disturbing to hear the hate they have for both the state and the federal government.
    They need as much fire power as possible to protect their life from our government? Really?
    The fact of the matter is that the gun you own, legally or otherwise, is more likely to be used to kill you or a member of your family than it will ever be used in self defense.
    Grow up and stop being a gun totting coward.

  47. Paul says:

    Dave, take it easy. I saw a story that said his neighbor said he was anti-government type also after I posted that. Just a question, maybe you should switch to decaf.

    Knuck, maybe we have been caught up in a lot of propaganda on Afghanistan too! It sounds like the depiction of those folks as being blood thirsty killers is because we get inundated with every incident that happens almost as it happens. Just like we hear about a shooting at any school as soon as they can get it online.

    Look my point is that the statistics show that our schools are very very safe. Like I said we should try to make them safer but they are not what I think a reasonable person would consider a “war zone”. Again I say on the whole, some schools have some much more serious issues.

  48. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Let’s see, a guy in Alabama, who has recently beaten a dog with a pipe and threatened several neighbors, kidnaps a kid from a schoolbus after killing the driver and takes the kid to his underground “shelter” and Paul is worried that the media is sensationalizing the story by calling his “shelter” a “bunker.”

    You media types are on notice!

  49. Paul says:

    “Our kids up here in general, have never met anyone who has been shot, in these parts of Chicago or New Orleans or Detroit, the opposite is true, it is very hard to find a teen who does not know someone personally who has been shot”

    This very true but if you did not have the qualifier “in these parts” I don’t think it would be. I have a number of friends from Chicago and many family members that are from or have grown up in Baltimore. I don’t think that nay of them personally know someone who has been shot. And things are actually better in Baltimore than they used to be when some of them were going to school there.

  50. Paul says:

    Knuck, get real. I never said that I thought that media was sensationalizing that story. You guys have way too much time to twist around what other folks write just to get your kicks. I personally just like to be sure I am getting the right facts.

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