Gun SAFETY Regulation. Because Guns Are For Grown-Ups

And America seems to be suffering from a shortage of grown-ups. This is just bass-ackwards:

The tragedy in Connecticut will convince communities across the country to cut other spending in favor of funding greater security measures, including adding armed guards at schools, said Peter Pochowski, the former executive director of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers…

Ideas have consequences, and we keep tripping ourselves up because we’re using the wrong words to embody the ideas we’re not thinking through.

A gun is a tool — a potentially dangerous tool, inherently at risk for misuse with terrible consequences. Owning a gun is a job requirement for some people, a utility for others (there are people who really do need the meat), and a form of recreation and/or enjoyment to many more. You know, like a car.

But we don’t let twelve-year-olds drive, not even the ones who consider themselves mature enough to handle the responsiblity. We don’t let anyone drive without passing a test, and obtaining an ID. We allow the nanny state to decide how fast we’re allowed to drive on the public roads, and even while grumbling about paying for uniformed agents to enforce those restrictions, we’re outraged by scofflaws & idiots endangering other drivers. We have laws requiring licensed car-owners to have insurance, and forbidding people who’ve been enjoying recreational intoxicants from driving. Enforcement of those laws used to be pretty spotty, well within living memory, but now that we understand how expensive even a minor fender-bender and how deadly even a tipsy driver can be, the social sanctions are probably as important as the increasingly intolerant legal restrictions. We insist that even good parents with spotless driving records use car seats and safety belts, because accidents happen, even to excellent drivers on short trips.

I can’t buy a box of decongestants without showing ID and signing a register, for fear that some sad addict might make a nuisance for the local authorities by attempting to cook meth in his kitchen. Surely someone buying bullets — another product with a high potential for misuse — can be asked to do as much.

Dear Gun Owner: I don’t want to ‘control’ your guns, I want you to control your guns. And if you are not mature enough to demonstrate such control, then are you mature enough to be trusted with such grown-up tools?

Gun safety regulations. As in that “well-regulated militia” clause used by our Founding Fathers in the sacred Second Amendment, becasue they were grown-ups who knew that guns were tools, not objects of religious veneration.

51 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    You have the right to own a gun. You do NOT have the right to own any gun you want just the same as freedom of speech does not protect you from liability if you scream fire in a crowded theater. I’m tired of protecting gun nuts fee-fees and hearing nothing can be done. YES. IT. CAN.

  2. 2
    Maude says:

    If we give up a right, we still won’t be safe. Propaganda has ruled the gun issue for too long.
    The nutters have had their day. No more.

  3. 3
    henrythefifth says:

    Quit comparing guns to cars, for spaghetti monster’s sake.

    A gun is designed for a sole purpose. To kill. Be it animal or man. Mostly what these psychos are using is designed to kill man.

    A car is designed to transport people and cargo.

    You got it wrong, Anne, so wrong.

    And yes, there is an irony in the fact that increased killings because of assault weapons and huge clips is leading to an increasingly less-free society. Pretty soon, thanks to the freedom-loving gun fetishists, we’re going to have both government and private sector security checkpoints at malls, theaters, roads, schools, etc.

    FREEDOM!

  4. 4
  5. 5
    The Dangerman says:

    …cut other spending in favor of funding greater security measures…

    Just out of curiosity, why does he eliminate raising revenues to fund such activity?

  6. 6
    PhoenixRising says:

    When was the last mass shooting carried out by someone who could rent a car?

    I’m half serious. We accept that insurers can determine 24 year olds to be unreliable with their mobile property, but somehow adding safety regulations that would make it expensive and inconvenient for the same people to get control f guns is impossible.

  7. 7
    the Conster says:

    militia: A military force of civilians to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

    Isn’t the National Guard that “well regulated militia”? If we can eventually get a different slate of SC justices to rule that that’s what the first clause of the 2nd amendment means, and restrict gun ownership to shotguns and hunting rifles, wouldn’t that lure all of the gun nuts (up to age 35) who want semi-automatic guns, into satisfying both their gun fetishism and their constitutional fetishism in one fell swoop? It would be win/win.

    A girl can dream.

  8. 8
    chrismealy says:

    This is bullshit. Repeal the 2nd amendment and just melt all that steel down.

  9. 9
    Avery Greynold says:

    What chance will a mall cop with a pistol have? Unless the school guard has helmet, full body armor, heavy weapons and military training, they will be outclassed by a modern gun nut.

  10. 10
    Maude says:

    @the Conster:
    It has nothing to so with the 2nd Amendment. The gun nuts took this idea and ran with it.
    It is the laws that allow the weapons that allow murderers to have access to them.
    It is Congress and State legislatures that have loosened the laws that regulate gun ownership. The conceal carry laws are a good example.
    We haven’t always had this level of horrid gun violence.

  11. 11
    Shakespeare says:

    Tactically, I think a vocal, sizable proportion of the left should be loudly advocating for a “Ban All Guns” position: Confiscate all current guns–ALL of them–and sell no new ones. Period.

    Hang our hat on the “A well-regulated militia” = National Guard, period.

    This gives Obama and the Dems a better place to compromise.

    BAN ALL GUNS.

  12. 12
    Keith G says:

    Peter Pochowski, the former executive director of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers was in the business of advocating for those who want schools to hire more guards. So yeah he wants every school to be a fortress.

  13. 13
    Heliopause says:

    The tragedy in Connecticut will convince communities across the country to cut other spending in favor of funding greater security measures

    Exactly. We all need to realize that the most likely reaction to this, signed off to by even our liberal public officials, will not be sensible laws but increasingly fascistic Youth Indoctrination Centers previously known as “schools”. At least in the short term. And needless to say, raising our children in a climate of fear and obedience to authority will only exacerbate our society’s problem with guns. Wish I could be more optimistic.

  14. 14

    Dear Gun Owner: I don’t want to ‘control’ your guns, I want you to control your guns. And if you are not mature enough to demonstrate such control, then are you mature enough to be trusted with such grown-up tools?

    Second Amendment, blah blah … diving is a privilege not a right blah blah. But yes, the idea that gun owners are the ones who need to control their guns is a point I made in this post last week after a Pennsylvania dad accidentally shot his kid in the head in the parking lot of Rigs Reloading Den as he got into his car. He forgot there was still a bullet in the chamber.

    This what gets me, whenever there’s a “tragic accident” like this, no one is ever charged. I know we all feel sympathy for a dad who just lost his son but dammit, if that dad had been driving drunk and killed his kid, he’d have gone to jail.

    The city where my husband works had TWO ridiculous gun thefts earlier this year, both in the same week. It was some idiot CCW permit holder who left their gun in their car, and left the car unlocked and out in the street. Thieves “broke in” to the vehicle and stole the guns. That’s two more guns on the black market now. Those people should lose their permits, for one thing.

    Gun loonz love to talk about how “most gun owners are responsible” but I don’t fucking see it. Every day the paper is filled with stories about some kid who played with a loaded gun lying around the house and killed their friend and on and on. I’m fucking sick of it.

  15. 15
    Narcissus says:

    Does anyone have a timeline of exactly what happened and why? Apparently the Mom was now some kind of survivalist nut with no connection with the school at all? I’m sort of lost.

  16. 16

    @Narcissus:

    Gawker is keeping an update timeline… don’t know how current the info is, tho

  17. 17
    Calouste says:

    Armed guards are not a deterrent. First, these guys want to die, a lot of them save the last bullet for themselves. They don’t plan to survive the assault. Second, Maurice Clemmons managed to shoot and kill not just one, but four armed, on duty police officers in one go. The element of surprise means that the attacker gets the first few shots in without retaliation. And unless the guard is going to point a loaded gun at any adult that approaches him that he doesn’t know, he is going to draw the short straw.

  18. 18
    Maude says:

    @Narcissus:
    We won’t know much until law enforcement does a press conference.

  19. 19

    Anne seems to have channeled James Fallows who writes,

    I will henceforth and only talk about “gun safety” as a goal for America, as opposed to “gun control.” I have no abstract interest in “controlling” someone else’s ability to own a gun. I have a very powerful, direct, and legitimate interest in the consequences of others’ gun ownership — namely that we change America’s outlier status as site of most of the world’s mass shootings. No reasonable gun-owner can disagree with steps to make gun use safer and more responsible. This also shifts the discussion to the realm of the incremental, the feasible, and the effective.

  20. 20
    gwangung says:

    @Calouste: So basically, any strategy that relies on armed guards means that we’re de facto accepting at least a few deaths of children, even under the best circumstances (i.e., the guard is RIGHT THERE when the gunman starts shooting).

    Let’s be clear on all the relevant factors.

  21. 21
    The Dangerman says:

    @Calouste:

    And unless the guard is going to point a loaded gun at any adult that approaches him that he doesn’t know, he is going to draw the short straw.

    But, prior to getting popped, he/she will have contributed greatly to Paul Blart’s Peter Pochowski’s organization.

  22. 22

    Rupert Murdoch, who came out back in July for strong gun regulations, on Twitter just now:

    Nice words from POTUS on shooting tragedy, but how about some bold leadership action?

    Seems like most of the gun loonz are Fox News watchers. And most of the Fox News anchors and correspondents keep towing the NRA line. Maybe he could do something about that.

    Asshole. Never miss an opportunity to take a dig at POTUS.

  23. 23
    Dream On says:

    Worth pointing out that some weapons – AK47s, Glocks, etc. – are only common in Africa, the Middle East, frightening Russia, and Tamil rebels. All of these places – plus us.

    Not too common in Canada, the UK, and all of Europe.

  24. 24
    David in NY says:

    @Dream On: Great point. Just regulate the manufacture and importing of automatic and semi-automatic weapons — it’s as simple as that. I mean, we can do it. Nobody can go out and get a stinger missle, just ’cause they want one. (Unless they’ve got an FBI informant to help them). The same rules should apply to handguns that are only made to massacre people, kill police officers or other drug dealers, or the like.

    I mean, let’s get serious.

  25. 25
    Allen says:

    All I know is I don’t want to get shot at again. The first time was by, of all things, the doctor that delivered me. Don’t know if he was making up for past sins or what, but it made me quit deer hunting. The second time was when I was out walking home, the route of which took me through a neighborhood that had some meth users in it. Glad I was never in the service, you can never forget the sound of a bullet zinging by your ear. Never again, never.

  26. 26
    Luthe says:

    Fred Phelps and his cult asshole relations are going to picket at Sandy Hook. I might just take off work to counter-protest.

  27. 27
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @Luthe: when those assholes showed up a couple of years go outside the high school I went to (many years before), the students had what I think was exactly the right reaction; drove those fucks away really quickly.

  28. 28
    Shalimar says:

    The Phelps clan wants you to counter-protest, and hopefully start something which will allow them to sue the local authorities for not protecting them. Everything they do is a con.

  29. 29
    Evinfuilt says:

    @Shakespeare:
    I’m taking that exact approach. I’ve told the religious zealots (gun ownership has turned into a religion for all too many) that they dad their time, wouldn’t play nicely and now we have to take their toys away. They can go o a club and play there, but never at home again.

  30. 30
    efgoldman says:

    A little late to the thread, but…..@Yutsano: @Maude: And @ everyone else.
    The GOBP controls congress and a good bunch of state legislatures.
    The NRA, in the person of a real gun nut (the insane Wayne LaPierre) controls the GOBP.
    Reminders:
    After JFK was shot, the general feeling was: more gun control.
    After MLK was shot, the general feeling was: more gun control.
    After RFK was shot, the general feeling was: more gun control.
    After Sanctus Ronaldus Magnus was shot, the general feeling was: more gun control. Led by his own fucking press secretary.
    After Columbine, the general feeling was: more gun control.
    After VATech, the general feeling was: more gun control.

    You see where this goes, right? I agree wholeheartedly with every single one of you, but to what end? Our good friend Emily Hauser ended every post yesterday with a plea to call congresscritters and Senators, and gave the phone numbers. Can you see Great Orange Satan even allowing a bill on the floor? I can’t either.

  31. 31
    Dream On says:

    Here’s your well-regulated militia for you. Note the fetishized description of this Potent Weapon and What It Can Do. It’s a murderous tool, but to some it’s so much more.

    It’s about the culture people, and until “gun enthusiasts” who worship AK47s are treated socially with the same disgust reserved for peds and ’70s porn producers/mafiosi, we will not get anywhere.

  32. 32
    Maude says:

    @efgoldman:
    Giving up is condoning gun violence.
    I won’t do that.

  33. 33
    👽 Martin says:

    I just remembered that I had another idea related to all of this – that all government outlays from the previous year related to firearm security, healthcare, disability, and compensation to loved ones should be tallied up and applied as a tax the following years gun an ammunition sales. If the gun community works to reduce those costs, their taxes will drop. If they don’t, their taxes will climb – even to the point of being prohibitive.

    Many of these same individuals want to reduce entitlement and deficit spending – well, they should cover their own contribution then.

  34. 34
    jheartney says:

    Even if 99% of gun owners were responsible, well trained, and conscientious (and I’m sure the actual number is well below that), this would still leave many thousands out there who weren’t. Not to mention the possibility of unbalanced relatives, acquaintances, or burglars getting their hands on the weapons (as apparently happened this week).

    The bottom line is that trying to ensure the safety of the rest of us through better training, or more responsible owners, or background checks is a fool’s errand. (BTW, background checks are frankly a pitiful idea; even trained psychologists can’t predict the future mental stability of any individual, to say nothing of their relatives, acquaintances and burglars. There’s a reason studies show background checks don’t accomplish much.)

    Currently we’re running over 10,000 gun deaths a year here in the US. Even if that could be cut by, say, 70%, we’d still be looking at 3000 deaths a year, which is both unattainable and unacceptable. There’s no reason to mess around on this. Just do what the rest of the world does and ban the damn things for civilians. For those who think of gun ownership as a sport, too damn bad. We’re tired of having to deal with the collateral damage from your hobby. Take up knitting or something.

  35. 35
    burnspbesq says:

    @Southern Beale:

    No reasonable gun-owner can disagree with steps to make gun use safer and more responsible.

    That’s probably true, but I’m afraid that reasonable gun owners are about as common as sane Republicans.

  36. 36
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jheartney: well, the problem is that irritating Second Amendment. It’s hard to get around, even considering the whole “militia” thing that virtually no one understands.

  37. 37
    Calouste says:

    @gwangung: And a good chance of a dead guard. See the Holocaust Museum shooting. Armed guard was killed, shooter survived, everyone else managed to escape thanks to the guard’s sacrifice.

  38. 38
    talabama says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I know, right? There are a lot of illiterates who read it as a requirement of militia membership. They don’t realize militias were formed with the citizenry providing their own small arms, and that clause is basically the explanation for enshrining gun ownership in the constitution.

    @Dream On: Wrong. You can buy the same semi-auto variants of the AK (WASRs, vz58, etc) in canada as you can in the US. They are limited to 5 round magazines, but 20 or 30 round magazines pinned to accept only 5 rounds are legal, so basically anyone with access to wielding equipment could have 30 round mags for illegal purposes. Canada recently got rid of their long gun registry as well so I guess it wasn’t worth the money/effort.

  39. 39
    Thursday says:

    A couple of things.

    David in NY: It was 1994 when the semi-automatic weapons restriction expired, 1999 when Columbine happened, and even THAT wasn’t enough to revive it.
    Burnspbesq: When gun owners are asked directly about sensible laws, they are fine with them to an overwhelming majority. For instance, over 80% support background checks, adults-only concealed carry licensing, and violent misdemeanors automatically disqualifying gun ownership. The NRA-ILA, on the other hand, isn’t working for the gun owners as much as for the gun manufacturers, and using their 4 million members (and their money) as a club to threaten senators with. Not many NRA members bother looking at exactly what their lobby group is opposing…

  40. 40
    Thursday says:

    Have to disagree about calling guns “tools”: even when they’re used correctly, they are only designed to kill things. Heck, when they’re used incorrectly, they can still kill things.

    David in NY: It was 1994 when the semi-automatic weapons restriction expired, 1999 when Columbine happened, and even THAT wasn’t enough to revive it.
    Burnspbesq: When gun owners are asked directly about sensible laws, they are fine with them to an overwhelming majority. For instance, over 80% support background checks, adults-only concealed carry licensing, and violent misdemeanors automatically disqualifying gun ownership. The NRA-ILA, on the other hand, isn’t working for the gun owners as much as for the gun manufacturers, and using their 4 million members (and their money) as a club to threaten senators with. Not many NRA members bother looking at exactly what their lobby group is opposing…

  41. 41
    jheartney says:

    @FlipYrWhig: If somebody wants to be in the militia they can have a musket. And given the “well regulated militia” language, you aren’t in a militia unless the state or federal government sanctions it.

  42. 42
    jheartney says:

    @talabama: Given that militias are an historical anachronism, the “arms” people can bear for them ought to be equally anachronistic. Muskets only.

  43. 43
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jheartney: that’s not what the “militia” means, though. I’m not much for the Second Amendment, but it’s inconveniently there, and it seems to suggest that there’s a body of armed civilians that spontaneously organizes into “the militia” in a Voltron-like way, and that they need to have access to weapons in a way that is external to the federal government or maybe even a state government. It’s weird and absurdly anachronistic but it’s going to take a lot of ingenuity to get around it.

  44. 44
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jheartney: there’s also an argument that a “well regulated militia” basically means “a militia in good working order.” I tend to think of it as the 18th-c. equivalent of just-in-time sourcing.

  45. 45
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “Well Regulated” in 18th Century military parlance is a very precise technical term. A military organization is “well regulated” if:

    1: It has an absolutely rigid rank hierarchy, with serious penalties for insubordination, even unto death “in the face of the enemy”.

    2: Commissioned ranks are bestowed exclusively by civilian authority, and even promotions must be so approved. In particular, election of officers by the ranks is strictly forbidden.

    3: It has a system of discipline so savage that no private soldier would ever imagine running away, since they were so much more afraid of their officers than of the enemy.

    And every state has a militia right now. After the decay of the old state militia systems, the robber barons got tired of paying for insensate thugs (“Pinkertons”) to shoot strikers and their wives and children out of their own pockets, so they got each state to raise a military force, armed at the public expense, to do it for them. It’s called the “National Guard”.

    Getting governors to call out the National Guard for labor disturbances has been a hard sell in recent decades, and so usually the state National Guards have been the first mobilized to be sent overseas, their state of readiness being so much better than the Regular Army—but they are a militia, make no mistake. The fact that they don’t supply their own weapons doesn’t alter that fact.

    But somehow all these NRA gun nuts, when added together, constitute a “well regulated militia”. I don’t think so.

  46. 46
    jheartney says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: Assuming this is a good interpretation of “militia,” what possible connection can it have to civilians having firearms? Perhaps the Second Amendment is even more incoherent than I thought.

    What strikes me about the Second Amendment is:

    A. It’s the only amendment that offers a rationale for itself, and
    B. Said rationale is patently nonsensical.

    The fact that the amendment has no idea what it is doing (at least in the modern context) strongly suggests to me that we ought to interpret it in the least powerful way. Like a crazy uncle who you humor to his face while quietly seeing to it that he doesn’t cause too much trouble, the Second Amendment should be given at most a token of effect, for example by not infringing on people’s right to bear muskets.

  47. 47
    Jon H says:

    @Southern Beale: “Seems like most of the gun loonz are Fox News watchers. And most of the Fox News anchors and correspondents keep towing the NRA line. Maybe he could do something about that.”

    I hate to offer sympathy for the devil, but he’s in a tough spot: Nobody believes it if he denies imposing an editorial slant on his news outlets, but when an instance arises where he clearly isn’t directing editorial slant of one of his outlets, people demand that he should do so.

  48. 48
    Jon H says:

    @talabama: “Canada recently got rid of their long gun registry as well so I guess it wasn’t worth the money/effort.”

    Or maybe the wingnut running Canada listened too much to American wingnuts.

  49. 49
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: interesting angle, thanks…

  50. 50
    lou says:

    You know, the government has no compunction about setting up rules and regulations dealing with the First Amendment — “free speech zones” and requiring permits to hold protests and marches.

    So why can’t we have strict rules and regs for guns, especially since the Second Amendment does include the words “well regulated”.

  51. 51

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