GOP denies real causes of gun violence

What is it about America that causes us to have so many mass shootings? What makes us different? Why don’t other countries have this problem?

“Clearly, it’s a mental health issue,” claim the Republicans, while slashing the budget for mental health and taking away the mental health background check requirements for gun purchases.

“Other countries have mental health issues,” we reply, “yet they don’t have this problem.”

“Look! A squirrel!” they reply while stuffing wads of money into their pockets from the NRA.gun chart

The fact is that while we have 4.4% of the world’s population, we own 42% of the world’s guns. And those guns aren’t evenly spread out among Americans. Only about 23% of all Americans own guns, but 3% of the population owns 50% of the guns.  And I’d be willing to bet that 99% of all the mass shootings come from that 3%.

So we Americans are allowing ourselves to be the deadliest advanced country in the world for the sake of 3% of the population that probably has mental problems we are not addressing. (For the record, the only countries with more gun violence per capita are poorer, less-developed places: Uruguay, Panama, Brazil, Columbia, Jamaica, Guatamala, Swaziland, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Honduras.)

But the Republican solution to gun violence here in America?  “Let’s do nothing! Maybe that will work.”



To my gun-owning friends: The dam is bursting

by Guest Blogger Mark Amidon

Anyone who has known me for more than two conversations knows that I don’t believe much in the efficacy or desirability of Big Government Programs. “Gun control” would be one of them. But we live in a system with many democratic elements, which means that when there’s a big enough idea out there, it’s going to find its way into legislation.

The NRA in particular has devolved over the decades from a gun-owners’ club (I remember Eddie the Eagle) to a shill for the gun manufacturers. They have put up a fairly solid wall and bought a lot of legislators to keep any notion of gun control out of the regulations. In many aspects of our politics, “compromise” is such a dirty word that no negotiation has been taking place at all.

 Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster over the need for the Senate to address gun laws

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster over the need for the Senate to address gun laws

This is turning a complex, nuanced situation into a binary (“black or white”) one. By opposing any “erosion” of gun-ownership rights, you (or your lobbyists) have drawn the proverbial line in the sand, and held fast and strong for decades. You’ve built a huge dam to hold back the waters of control.

Here’s the thing: dams burst. By holding back against compromise, you have created an uncompromising situation. You have accidentally created an environment where more and more people outside your “gun culture” are no longer willing to live and let live. You don’t have to worry about your more strident opponents anymore; you have to worry about everyone in the undecided middle of the bell curve. Those are the folks who always wind up being the “swing vote”.

The rhetoric has been “Big Government is coming to take your guns!!!”, but that didn’t actually have support in the middle of the bell curve. Things like keeping guns away from the mentally ill, guns away from parolees, guns away from “terrorists”; those are what had widespread support. But the gun lobby held fast against that. And built up pressure behind the dam.

You know what’s going to finally enable Big Government to take your guns? The critical mass behind the dam. By not compromising on a political point, you have opposed actions which wouldn’t actually compromise your core belief in self-protection, or even having cool toys. If you don’t help draft legislation which will actually address the biggest concerns (a “floodgate” in your dam, to extend the analogy), that dam is going to burst.

Figure out which of your principles are actually not subject to compromise, and then see which proposals actually don’t compromise them. And don’t let the shills tell you which they are.


Mark Amidon is a small-‘l’ libertarian who keeps getting mistaken for liberal or conservative by conservatives and liberals, respectively. While holding anarchy as a lofty ideal, he nonetheless appreciates Hobbes’s “Leviathan”, and is more a data-driven being than an ideologue.

Guns and Fiction

After a recent debate on Facebook about guns, I told everyone I had enough and was signing off in order to play Fallout 4, a computer game where I could run around a post-apocalyptic Boston shooting mutated zombies with a variety of firearms.

“Aha!” you say. “You’re a hypocrite!”Fallout4_Preston

Well, no. You see, Fallout 4 is fiction. It’s not real.

Weapons in fiction serve a purpose of providing drama, action, adventure. Weapons have featured prominently in my novels, too. They help make a great story. A great fictional story.

That doesn’t mean I think everyone should be running around with one in real life. I know the difference between fiction and reality, you see.

(I’m also against dropping anvils on people’s heads in real life.)

And that’s one of the biggest problems I have when dealing with some of the gun enthusiasts out there: They don’t seem to be able to differentiate between fiction and reality.

In their world, more guns means less violence; people with guns stop mass shootings even when trained police can’t; and gun control doesn’t reduce gun violence.

And that’s all fiction. There’s not the slightest bit of evidence to support any of those beliefs, and plenty to prove otherwise.

So I guess I’m not surprised when some people think I am a hypocrite for hating guns in real life while liking them in fiction — because they can’t tell the difference.

How Many Innocent Deaths Does it Take?

Some of my conservative friends have been complaining about the number of mass shootings we’ve had so far this year, rightly pointing out that it all depends on how you define “mass shooting.”  Should you include shootings where people were only maimed and didn’t die? How many deaths are needed before it counts as a mass shooting? And so on.

So let’s be generous and assume that the numbers showing an average of about one a day is unrealistic.  kaiser-foundation-gun-deaths-state-mapSure, let’s cut that in half, and we’ll say it’s only one every other day. Or even one a week.

Just let me know: How many innocent deaths do we need before you will say, “Maybe we should do something about this”?

Fill in the blank for me: “My right to own any deadly weapon free from restriction is worth the lives of _____ people.”

Is there a number? If so, remember:  If you haven’t already agreed that maybe we should do something, the number in that blank has to be at least 30,000 a year.  If you’ve been an adult for, say, twenty years and have done done nothing to try to prevent all these deaths, then the number in that blank needs to be at least 600,000, or roughly every single person in Seattle, Washington.

No, I don’t want to read another rant about guns. Don’t change the subject, answer the question. If you want to debate guns, search this blog for that topic and you’ll find plenty of threads where your comments will be appropriate and welcome.

So please:  Give me a number. Let me know how many innocent dead people it will take before we can sit down and talk reasonably about what we should do about it.


Making assumptions about “open carry” gun owners

by Guest Blogger M. David Blake

Many years ago in this country, it was possible for anyone with an automobile to visit the filling station, fill their vehicle’s tank with gasoline, and then pay for it.BN-EF674_0822op_G_20140822143314

Weird concept, isn’t it? Nowadays, motorists are almost always required to either authorize a transaction at the pump, or pre-pay the cashier. And the reason for this change in expectation is simple: some motorists—statistically a very small number, but enough to be noteworthy and to ultimately affect the bottom line—figured out how easy it was to drive away without paying for their fuel.

Wait though! Why should you be forced to follow such stuffy rules? You are a responsible motorist, and you might prefer to pump first, and then pay afterward. Anyone should be able to see that you’re good for it. After all, you were able to afford a really nice car, and by golly, you’ve taken care of that sucker too!

Want to try? Good luck, because the cashier is unlikely to turn on the pump based on little more than your appearance as a “responsible motorist,” and you probably won’t be able to argue your case. Whether you are responsible or not, cashiers know, barring that restriction, someone would stiff them for a hefty dose of guzzeline.

Now, some of the open carry advocates out there are responsible gun owners. Statistically, most of them are responsible. If you are a gun owner, you are probably responsible too. I am not questioning your credentials as a responsible gun owner. We’ll take it as a given that you are safe, sane, and trustworthy.

All the same, a few of the people carrying guns around in this country are breaking the social contract. They’ve figured out how easy it is to fire off rounds at whoever the hell irritated them last, or whatever group offended their sensibilities, or anyone/anything they decided didn’t deserve to exist unmolested.

But you’ve been asking us to assume they are all responsible gun owners, because doing otherwise jeopardizes our collective trust in your own personal display of firepower.

Those mass shooters are statistically a very small number of gun owners… but they are enough to be noteworthy, and to ultimately affect the bottom line.

Here’s the bottom line:

After today, if I see weapons, my assumption is not that you are responsible gun owners. It’s that you are about to become active shooters, and that everyone should get as far away from you as possible.

M. David Blake is a science fiction writer, and the editor of STRAEON. This article first appeared on his personal Facebook page, and is reprinted with permission.

No, The Gay Marriage Case has Nothing to do with Guns

Fox News commentator Allen West (a non-lawyer) wrote an article recently saying that since the Supreme Court gay marriage case says this must be applied over the entire country, then clearly it has set a precedent to allow for “conceal and carry” in all states.

This shows a real misunderstanding of the law.

First of all, the gay marriage case had to do with the 14th amendment, which prohibits discrimination against people. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has called corporations “people” it’s not about to call guns, cars, or toasters “people” any time soon.rainbow.ak_

The analysis used in the gay marriage case is old. Like 50 years old. This same analysis was previously used to give rights to blacks and then later to women. It has just been expanded to include gays and lesbians. It is not a new analysis.

If the gun lobby could use this same analysis to do what the gun lovers want, they would have done it 50 years ago.

The short version: If the government wants to take away the rights of someone, the law must pass the “strict scrutiny” test:

It must be justified by a compelling governmental interest. While the Courts have never brightly defined how to determine if an interest is compelling, the concept generally refers to something necessary or crucial, as opposed to something merely preferred. Examples include national security, preserving the lives of multiple individuals, and not violating explicit constitutional protections.
The law or policy must be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest. If the government action encompasses too much (overbroad) or fails to address essential aspects of the compelling interest, then the rule is not considered narrowly tailored.
The law or policy must be the least restrictive means for achieving that interest. That is, there cannot be a less restrictive way to effectively achieve the compelling government interest. The test will be met even if there is another method that is equally the least restrictive. Some legal scholars consider this “least restrictive means” requirement part of being narrowly tailored, though the Court generally evaluates it separately.  [NOTE:  I copied this from wikipedia, but it’s correct.]

It is very difficult for laws that discriminate to pass this test. The Supreme Court did not change this test at all, but merely added gays and lesbians to the test (at least as far as marriage goes — other discriminatory laws against gays and lesbians will be challenged under this test soon and should also fail, using this case as precedence).

This test is not used to determine whether everyone has the exact same rights as they travel from state to state — but West (and the people who foolishly believe him) are convincing themselves that they are being discriminated against because they don’t have the same rights as someone in another state.

Under this logic, there would be no more federalism at all. Using that logic, any law passed in any state would have to be enforced in every state.

Does that mean that marijuana would be legal everywhere? Hooray! Oh wait, we’d first have to decide which state laws apply — What if it’s decided that the state laws that prohibit guns from being carried everywhere are the laws that apply over the entire country? Why are these people assuming it’s the law they want that will prevail?

“But but,” the gun lovers scream, “the court said that you have to give gays these rights because it’s based on ‘certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy’ and dadgummit, it’s our personal choice to buy guns without background checks and carry them into churches and shopping malls whenever we want to!”  Besides being ridiculous and not at all what the gay marriage case was about, this is also not what the 14th amendment is about.

Seriously, I’m not even going to dignify this by explaining why. If you can’t see why there is a difference between the fundamental right of all adults to get married and the right to own an inanimate object, then you’ve become so brainwashed by your guns and the gun lobby that there is no hope for you.