Licensed to kill?

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

There have been eight shooting rampages that have claimed 57 lives since March 10. It would be easy to simply dismiss the shooters as just "a crazy with a gun" or "a criminal" as Glenn Beck has. Oh, but not so fast, Glenn.

The shooters had more in common than unleashing carnage — nearly every gunman in this monthlong series of mass killings was legally entitled to fire his weapons. Many Recent Shooters Had Gun Permits

Assuming, arguendo, that the shooters purchased their guns from a reputable gun dealer who complied with the law by having the purchaser complete a background check, one can also assume that the shooters did not have a criminal record or a history of institutionalization for a mental disorder. They were just regular Joes, law abiding citizens.

Of course, these are big assumptions. There are a small number of disreputable gun dealers known to be the source for the movement of large numbers of illicit weapons in this country, yet the states in which these dealers are located allow them to continue to operate. Then there is the "gun show loophole" and private sales of firearms where background checks are not required. Then there is always the possibility that the purchaser lied and due to lax regulations and enforcement they simply slipped through the cracks.

So what does that say about the state of gun control laws in this country? One thing appears certain: the regulations aren't getting stricter. Many recent efforts to change weapons laws have been about easing them.

* * *

Scott Vogel of the Freedom States Alliance, a gun control activist group, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says existing laws are already too weak — just look at the men who received gun permits, legally bought high-powered weapons, and then mowed down family, friends and total strangers in these past few weeks, they say.

Despite all the right-wing hysteria since election day claiming that "Obama is coming to confiscate your guns," and "Nancy Pelosi wants to tax your ammunition," there is no movement toward stricter gun regulations in this country. Period. The trend is actually going the other way, making gun ownership easier and with far fewer regulations.

Last month, 65 House Democrats said they would block any attempt to resurrect an expired federal ban against assault weapons.

The pro-gun Democrats, led by Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, wrote Attorney General Eric Holder saying they opposed not only a ban on military-style guns, but also efforts "to pass any similar law."

It appears to me that all this unhinged hysteria is being fueled by the selfish interests of the NRA which wants to increase its membership to maintain its leading role in the right-wing wedge issue politics of "Guns, God and gays," and the gun manufacturers and dealers themselves who stand to profit handsomely from this manufactured "panic." They have created their own "stimulus" plan during this recession/depression by stoking people's irrational fears.

Attorney Jeffrey Chamberlain, a former Rochester prosecutor and chief counsel to the New York State Police, thinks the answer to gun violence lies not in stricter regulations, but in answering the question, "Why are we so tolerant of having guns in this country? The answer to that is historical. We've had guns for a very long time."

"I can't think of any sweeping law change that would address that."

To Scott Vogel of the Freedom States Alliance, the answer to why atrocities happen in places such as Binghamton, and before that Washington state and Santa Clara, Calif., lies in sheer numbers.

The number 280 million, to be precise, the estimated total of every gun in this country.

"When you have that many guns, those guns are going to be used in horrific ways," Vogel said. "There's just too many. Inevitably, somehow, some way, those weapons are going to be used in an egregious way."

Happiness is a warm gun
Happiness is a warm gun
When I hold you in my arms
And I feel my finger on your trigger
I know no one can do me no harm
Because happiness is a warm gun
-Yes it is.

0 responses to “Licensed to kill?

  1. @AzBlueMeanie
    It matters not how unregulated gun purchases may be in any country, gun control can and has been enacted. It doesn’t matter how relatively unregulated it might be at any given time, government regulation can be imposed (for example Washington, DC and New York City). As for being exposed to a victim of gun violence, I hope that I and my neighbors don’t become victims of any sort of human violence (firearm or otherwise) and the only logical and rational method by which I can accomplish that end is by encouraging the widespread ownership of firearms by good people because reasoning with evil people doesn’t work (which is why police officers carry guns).

    As for in school shooting ranges created by criminals like Mr. Cho (and their enablers) and those like him for 32 people their odds of living ended up being 0%. I believe that any gun owner would have improved the odds for those 32 people by some reasonable fraction. In any case the Virginia Tech “gun free” policy hardly prevented a criminal from bringing a gun into a prohibited area. Do you really think that Mr. Cho would have decided to flame out at Virginia Tech if a few (or more than a few) instructors had publicly carried firearms at school? I believe that logic says no, he would not have, just as I rarely hear of a bank robbery at a bank with an armed guard. Criminals may be either mentally unbalanced or just plain evil, that doesn’t mean they are oblivious.

    @Stephen Morris, I am pleased to hear that you think ahead for possible situations that your firearm ownership might entail. You are a responsible person. You are not alone. If you want to eliminate potentially irresponsible firearm ownership, meet some of your neighbors and share your knowledge with them. As for people who do not hit their target I would encourage you and any other responsible firearms owner to remember this rule: “Be sure of your target and what is in front of and beyond your target.”

    “With great power comes great responsibility.”
    The motto works for Spider-Man and it works for gun owners as well.

  2. It scares the hell out of me when I hear people say “the problem is we need more guns in schools, not less”. Especially since a friend of mine was attending Virginia Tech at the time of the shooting.

    I’ve been target shooting for a long time. I feel fairly confident that if I have to hit a stationary paper target from 30 meters away inside an empty concrete range, that I can keep all of my rounds on target. You put me in a room filled with people, inside a building full of more rooms filled with people, with a target that is moving around and shooting back and I have no reasonable expectation of hitting that target. In fact, I think the best odds are on me hitting someone else.

    There’s a very compelling argument against setting up a gun range inside a classroom filled with kids.

    There are 2 other issues involved: The first is the matter of conscience. For many of these “gun nuts”, the idea of killing a bad guy (or maybe just anyone) is thrilling. For many people who aren’t “gun nuts”, the idea of killing another human being (bad guy or not) is repulsive. It’s a mortal sin. The idea of taking someones life is not a simple matter for most people. The second issue is that there is no “good Samaritan” protection for someone using a gun to kill a criminal, nor should there ever be. If I were to try and shoot someone like Cho, but in the process I injure or kill a bystander, it’s my fault. I now go to prison, and I would deserve to for firing a weapon in an irresponsible manner.

    Here is another example. I live in an apartment complex. I have a handgun for protection. If I fire 3 shots at a burglar, but maybe 1 hits him, where do the other 2 go? That’s why I at least have 2 frangible rounds in the top of my magazine, but I’m still relying on the word of the manufacturer that those rounds won’t travel through an adjoining wall and into someones bedroom. I’m fairly sure that at least a few of my neighbors have guns as well. I doubt they’ve taken the precaution of loading frangibles. It’s not something that keeps me up at night, but certainly worth a thought. Building construction here in Phoenix is not done with as much brick & concrete as I was used to back in Cincinnati. Even a handgun round could penetrate 2 exterior walls out here given the distance between houses in a lot of these neighborhoods.

  3. AzBlueMeanie

    You cannot seriously dispute how unregulated sales are and how easy it is to purchase a weapon without any background check or record of sale or ownership. Given this reality, the whole right-wing fantasy that the government is coming to take their guns is simply preposterous. The government would not even know where to begin.

    I doubt that you have been a participant in the carnage of violence that our gun culture encourages – the medical professionals, law enforcement officers and lawyers and judges who deal with the families shattered by the loss of a loved one either through an accidental shooting or as a victim of gun violence. Spend some time as a medical volunteer or a victim-witness advocate and experience first hand the misery our gun culture has produced. It’s not a video game, it’s reality.

  4. @AzBlueMeanie,
    If anybody watches the 20/20 program mentioned above I encourage you to read a great review and analysis of that segment.

  5. @AzBlueMeanie,
    The eight shooting rampages you refer to *are* an example of what happens when the right of self-defense is dismissed, discouraged and generally prohibited by government laws and private policies. The good guys in each situation were able to be murdered with impunity because none of the good guys had a gun and the bad guy did. Let’s take the Virginia Tech shooting for example, the students and staff were not permitted to keep and bear arms and as a result the criminal was able to murder 32 people. The problem was that the good guys were prohibited from exercising the right of self-defense.

    All the gun control laws in the US since 1968 haven’t prevented criminals and the certifiably incompetent from getting guys and there are no practical government gun control program currently proposed that can. The solution is allowing those people who should be trusted to keep and bear arms to do so into order to cause those who can’t be counted on to behave morally and rationally to think twice (or three times) before they use guns to an ill end.

    A substantial percentage (but not all) of people in the US buy their firearms via a licensed dealer. There are examples of countries that have firearm registration that have chosen to engage in gun confiscation (England, Australia and Rwanda just to mention three). It is untrue that any given government (the US government for example) won’t know where to start. They would start with the records they have and then work their way onward. The fact is that it *can* happen here.

    As for training and stress testing, I encourage people who buy firearms to receive training and engage in ongoing education. If training is the most effective way to prevent unwanted gun violence then let that be announced publicly. Most gun control laws in place and proposed in the US don’t hinge on training, they focus on prohibition and limitation. I have yet to hear from advocates of stricter firearms licensing that training and education is their goal.

    @Tucson Vice,
    People in Arizona have legitimate concerns about their safety. Some of those people choose to buy firearms because as I would hope most people will admit, the police are not and cannot be everywhere. As sure as the sun rises in the morning there will be some criminal who will consider and follow through on his idea (or spontaneous urge) to either rob a store, mug a fellow Arizonan or rape some woman. All the police in Arizona don’t stop these crimes from occurring but people (good guys and good gals) buying and carrying guns can.

    Discounting and disparaging those people who take the time, money and effort to buy a gun to protect themselves doesn’t make the reason they buy them invalid. There is plenty of power in guns and knives and so long as those people who buy them use them in a moral and lawful fashion then I say let them. Passing laws restricting gun ownership and use have been a proven failure, they don’t disarm criminals who are by definition unwilling or incapable of following just and moral laws.

    As for hazardous items in society a far more effective program is to educate and train those people who wish to use hazardous items, such as cars, gasoline (notice those stickers at the gas pump – education), guns and various chemicals. Laws restricting and prohibiting hazardous items will create unintended consequences (such as the massacres this post discusses). Education is the most effective manner in which to deal with the risks ever present in society.

    If you find my suggestion weak that people in the US have a legitimate need for purchasing and owning pistols and rifles, please say so as forcefully as you feel is appropriate. Point out its laughability but please try to skip over being insulted as my goal and intent is to argue the point being discussed, not insult my debate opponents.

  6. Thane,

    The people in Sabino Canyon are not buying guns for the same reason that I am issued them. This idea is absurd. I am issued an assault rifle and a pistol because I live under the constant threat of being attacked or killed by a well armed enemy. Not by people, mind you, but by entire groups of people, organized, trained groups of insurgents who are armed to the teeth themselves. I can tell you as a Sabino Canyon resident, I do not have this fear at home.

    I have an assault rifle because my enemy has an assault rifle. A private citizen in Tucson might have one because they can, or because they think it looks neat, or feels cool to goof around with it in front of a mirror, but never because they MUST. I have these weapons because the enemy also has rocket propelled grenades. Oh, and mortars. And Improvised explosive devices. How many of these do you imagine are floating around Tucson?

    Yes there are people that may try to harm me in Arizona, but to suggest that this is at all comparable to the threats we face here is absurd. I live here KNOWING that an attack will be made on my life. Private gun owners in the United States do not.

    It all boils down to what would often appear to be a simple and childlike facsination with firearms and pointy objects…the same facsination that makes kids play with matches.

    The reasons for private ownership of firearms in the US are not at all similar to the reasons for ownership of firearms by military personnel in a combat zone. This suggestion is both laughable and vaguely insulting.

  7. AzBlueMeanie

    There have been eight shooting rampages that have claimed 57 lives since March 10, and you say that “The primary question of this episode was, ‘Does the individual have an inalienable right to self-defense?'” None of these incidents involved self-defense.

    The whole concept of owning guns for self-defense is over-stated to begin with. Anyone who did not watch last night’s episode of 20/20 “Guns in America,” go online to watch at

    The police training “stress test” for responding with deadly force that is demonstrated should be required of every gun owner. It would clealry demonstrate to them that without regular and intensive training (as police receive) their physical ability to respond in self-defense is almost non-existent. It may provide one a sense of emotional security to own a gun, but it does little to provide actual physical security.

    The program also demonstrates just how unregulated sales are and how easy it is to purchase a weapon without any background check or record of sale or ownership. Given this reality, the whole idea that the government is coming to take your guns is simply preposterous. The government would not even know where to begin.

  8. Hey folks, I have to tell you, if you want to convince the membership of the NRA that you don’t want government to take their guns then item #1 should be to convince Rep. Bobby Rush [D, IL-1] (and the rest of the disarmament advocates) to stop introducing crazy bills like HR 45 Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

    That would make it much harder for Fox and the Limbaugh crown to find and press America’s panic button.

    And in case you haven’t read about why the good people of America should continue to be allowed to continue to buy, own and use firearms to defend themselves against those who attack them let me just point out some logical reasoning.

    The problem isn’t too many guns, the problem is those people who misuse guns and those people who create victim disarmament zones (gun free zones).

    The problem isn’t what Limbaugh or Jones is saying, the problem is that their assertions are too plausible. Tamper down the claims that there are “too many guns” and far fewer people will believe that the government might confiscate their guns.

    @Tucson Vice, the same reason the government issues you two firearms are the same reason that people in Sabino Canyon might buy two firearms. There are people who will try to harm you in Iraq and there are people who will try to harm people in Arizona. Guns are a tool to prevent crime. Guns can be obtained by criminals, the adjudicted insane, police, soldiers and terrorists. Increasing the number of guns in the hands of non-criminals, non-terrorists and non-adjudicated insane people should be a goal of all responsible Americans.

    @Stephen Morris, the problem isn’t rifle ownership or rifle design, the problem is that there are some people who use firearms to murder people and not enough people with rifles and pistols to prevent rampages.


    April 8, 2009

    The primary question of this episode was, “Does the individual have an inalienable right to self-defense?” We believe the answer to be Yes, and we didn’t receive any opposition on that point. See how this relates to issues like 9/11 and the Somli pirates.”

  9. The 2nd amendment is about as dated as the 3rd amendment.

    Private individuals owning things like assault rifles & sniper rifles is a perversion of the intent of the 2nd amendment. The people who have these home armories are never going to be called upon to defend the state. In fact, their token reason for keeping a weapons cache is to fight AGAINST the state.

    I still think there is merit to private gun ownership as long as it’s very well regulated, monitored & restricted in the ways necessary to meet the needs of citizens. It shouldn’t be easier to get a gun than it is to get Sudafed.

    Cars are dangerous but are considered necessary. That’s why you must go to class & pass a test before you get a license to drive. That’s why you must take a test every few years(in “normal” US states that is) to verify you are still capable of driving safely in order to renew that license. That’s why vehicles must pass inspection to prove they are roadworthy before they are licensed. To own a car, most states require that you also carry insurance in case you might harm another person or their property.

    A person has a natural right to his or her own self defense. A person has the right to hunt game. The pistol, shotgun & hunting rifle meet those needs. They should be legal, but should also meet the same kinds of requirements & restrictions we place on other products that we consider hazardous.

    Assault rifle & sniper rifles are military weapons. They have no place in private hands. The same as we restrict other arms like artillery & explosives.

  10. I have said it before…the Second Amendment is one of the more obviously outdated of them all. It addressed problems that, to a large extent, we no longer have. What would be the harm in considering an Amendment that preserved the right to own firearms while at the same time reflecting our modern, non colonial way of life and which accounts for the fact that our national defense stretegies are no longer contingent upon a citizen militia or civilian gun ownership, as they once were?

    We have a standing force of trained law enforcement professionals assigned to every square foot of our nation (the colonials did not). We have our well regulated militia in the form of our national gaurd (and they are extraordinarily well armed). That last fact basically invalidates the first half of the Amendment, which itself is the basis for the second half…the half that most people know about.

    Over here, I carry two firearms on me at all times…one is an assault rifle and the other is a semi-automatic pistol. I don’t know if I am comfortable with the idea of my next door neigbor in Sabino Canyon being better armed than I am in my war zone, or for that matter, better armed than my sister (a police officer). It just seems…odd.

  11. AzBlueMeanie

    Check out this opinion by Eric Boehlert, “Glenn Beck and the Rise of Fox News’s Militia Media” Excerpt:

    We learned that [Richard] Poplawski hosted his own (failed) Internet radio show and that he visited the website of 9-11 conspiracy backer Alex Jones, who has been hyping the threat of a totalitarian world government for years. More recently, Jones has been warning listeners like Poplawski about The Obama Deception (that’s the name of Jones’ new documentary DVD) and how President Obama is bound to destroy America.

    Who’s Alex Jones? Even according to some conservative bloggers, the anti-government, anti-Obama talker is a “freak” who’s popular with “the tin foil hat crowd.” Like with Poplawski, apparently.

    Jones might be a “freak,” but he has recently been embraced — and mainstreamed — by Fox News, as part of the news channel’s unprecedented drive to push radical propaganda warning of America’s democratic demise under the new president.

    During a March 18 webcast of’s proudly paranoid “Freedom Watch,” Andrew Napolitano introduced a segment about “what the government has done to take your liberty and your property away.” And with that, he welcomed onto the show “the one, the only, the great Alex Jones,” who began ranting about “exposing” the New World Order and the threat posed by an emerging “global government.”

    “I appreciate what you’re exposing,” Napolitano assured his guest.

    Waving around a copy of his Obama Deception, Jones warned Fox News webcast viewers about Obama’s “agenda” for “gun confiscation” and the new president’s plan to “bring in total police-state control” to America.

    Jones also noted with excitement that Fox News’ Glenn Beck had recently begun warning about the looming New World Order on his show, just like Jones had for years. “It is great!” cheered the conspiracist. (Like Jones, Beck recently warned viewers that “the Second Amendment is under fire.”) Concluding the interview, Fox News’ Napolitano announced “it’s absolutely been a pleasure” listening to Jones’ insights.

    We don’t know if Poplawski tuned in to watch Jones’ star turn for Fox News last month. But is there any doubt that Fox News is playing an increasingly erratic and dangerous game by embracing the type of paranoid insurrection rhetoric that people like Poplawski are now acting on? By stoking dark fears about the ominous ruins that await an Obama America, by ratcheting up irresponsible back-to-the-wall scenarios, Fox News has waded into a territory that no other news organization has ever dared to exploit.

    What Fox News is now programming on a daily (unhinged) basis is unprecedented in the history of American television, especially in the form of Beck’s program…

  12. One of the scariest things coming from the talking heads on the far right is this notion that Obama, Pelosi and other Dems want to take all of our guns away. In spite of a complete lack of any evidence, these a-holes continue to spread such lies. There are too many out there that believe their lies, and now it has cost 3 police officers their lives.

    What is even more amazing, is that these supposed ‘law and order’ types are at odds with law enforcement agencies, unions, and organizations across the nation that WANT assault weapons banned, want certain types of ammo outlawed, and oppose laws allowing guns in bars, schools and other such public places.

    What part of “WELL REGULATED” don’t these morons understand??

  13. I was reading about Michael Steele of the RNC sending out a fundraising letter in which he lied and claimed that ACORN is going to run the 2010 Census.
    What do you think the chance is that the totally irresponsible actions of Mr. Steele and the Republican National Committee get some poor housewife or student shot by some right-wing freak when they try to give them a Census Form?