The Las Vegas massacre, like all the other massacres, won’t change the easy accessibility of guns in America, but politicians are scrambling to enact a fig-leaf bill against a rapid-fire device used by this one shooter, JP Sottile explains.
By JP Sottile
Congress’ forthcoming “bump stock” bill is the perfect political fig leaf. Cracking down on a simple device that turns deadly weapons even deadlier is an ideal political solve for lawmakers who desperately need to be seen taking some sort of action.
Republicans in particular can embrace this ultimately meaningless move under the guise of actually “doing something” about gun violence in America. And that’s why they are embracing it … it’s gun control without controlling guns.
If passed, they can comfortably go into next year’s elections inoculated against the charge that they are beholden to the National Rifle Association without actually transgressing the NRA or most gun-owners. In fact, the NRA just announced that even they are open to restrictions on bump stocks … thus inoculating themselves from a potential backlash, too.
So it’s a two-fer! But it is only a two-fer for the NRA and their “cash and carry” cadre in Congress. It is a big zero when it comes to the daily grind of American gun violence. It’s pure political posturing that will not change anything.
That’s because bump stocks have been flying off the shelves for three days … often selling out in some locations. And bump stocks look like something that could be fashioned by a handy man in a well-stocked shop in a typical suburban garage. Even if someone doesn’t have the skill to make one, they’ll still be out there. Anyone who really wants one … will get one … particularly with millions of bump stocks already sold across America.
Given that stark reality, how will a new restriction functionally eliminate those privately owned bump stocks? And who will be tasked with stopping people from making one or buying one on the black market if they really want to get to the so-called “happy spot” where their already high-powered rifles spit out hundreds of rounds like an open garden hose? How will a new law put that genie back into the bottle?
It’s really just an extension of the conundrum around the entire gun issue. It is estimated that Americans own 310 million guns. That’s nearly a gun per person. America is locked and loaded. Simply put, this nation, which owns nearly half of the world’s civilian-held guns, is a teeming mass of well-armed wannabe actions heroes who believe it is their birthright, and some even believe it’s their God-given right, to bear arms.
No Gun Round-up
There is no chance they’ll let go of that Hollywood-primed fantasy or that intoxicating feeling of individual power. And there is no way this country will engage in an Australia-style round-up of guns … at least, not for another two generations. And we ain’t gonna amend the Second Amendment … at least, not for another two to four generations … if ever. Let’s be honest, it’s gonna take a a lot of effort and a long time to stop handing down America’s uniquely potent gun-loving gene.
So, it seems like we are stuck. And that’s because we are stuck. We have a culture that is suspicious of society and a society that is suspicious of each other. And we are a people who are suspicious of our government, which, it must be pointed out, is really just made up of people. Government is referred to like it is a being … or a monster … but it’s really just made up of other Americans. Which brings us back around to a growing dysfunction that causes us to fear our neighbors and loathe our fellow Americans. Our distrust of government is intertwined with our distrust of each other. And that’s the real reason we like our guns.
Frankly, this Hobbesian dystopia has been the rule in American history. The one blip was the period from the Great Depression through World War II and, with notable exceptions (Jim Crow plus McCarthyism), into the Eisenhower Years. That was a faint glimpse of America as a “whole” people who might be willing to entertain the idea of living in a society.
It was catalyzed by widespread economic hardship, total war and fear of Commies raining down nuclear holocaust on mom, apple pie and Chevrolet. They were tribal reactions to existential fears. But there was also a widely held belief that most Americans were in it together and that government and being a part of society were not inherently bad things. And other Americans were not merely your competition.
Since then, it is has been one long back-slide into the bloody, anti-social norm of American history. This has been the American Way since America’s inception. It’s been that way since the Whiskey Rebellion and runaway slave patrols and the bugle-tootin’ cavalry galloping in to wipe out nettlesome American Indians who dared to get in the way of Manifest Destiny. It’s been that way since the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921. And it returned during the assassinations and chaos of 1968. The only real difference now is the turbo-charged nature of the weapons we wield thanks to the All-American ethos of bigger-faster-cheaper.
Of course we want more firepower with more bullets delivered in less time. That’s not just an integral part of America’s insatiable consumerism … it’s just common sense when everyone is armed and everyone is a potential enemy in a nation that looks and feels like one giant O.K. Corral. It’s the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy and it ultimately ends up filling morgues with the collateral damage of our damaged culture.
And all the politically easy bump stock bans in the world will not fix that core issue. We are going to keep paying this price until there is a real and lasting change in the way we see each other. Until we are willing to be a part of society … we will not be able to give up our gun-based culture.
JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. He blogs at Newsvandal.com or you can follow him on Twitter, http://twitter/newsvandal.
I found this at a click-bait site.
It could be subtitled “half-dressed young woman fires machine gun”.
I had no idea these things were available. Possession of one the devices ought to be a major felony.
Oh for crap sakes people, ‘Merikkka is NOT gong to give up its guns. Not next year, not ten generations from now. This country has a deep, long time love affair with firearms. This country was built on genocide and mass killings. When we ran out of smallpox infected blankets to give to the Native Americans, we just went out and shot as many of them as possible.
As a former US Marine who served a 13 month tour in the Vietnam war 1970-71, I see no reason at all for anybody to own, let alone have access to any automatic weapon, let alone an assault rifle. Automatics can and do jam. Usually when you really don’t want them to. This happens in the US military more often than you would like to know. You need to tap that new magazine before reloading.
Private guns should only be good old single action revolvers or old time shotguns, single or double barrel where you must cock the hammer(s) before you can fire.
I don’t disagree, but I believe there would need to be more specific restrictions. Bore gauge/caliber, for example. Old black-powder “punt guns” were large enough to shoot down an entire flock of birds, and with modern materials these could be recreated. Ditto for rifles. A quick search found that a South African company sells a 20mm sniper gun. I see no particular reason why a clever gun craftsman couldn’t make a 40-50mm single shot model.
Off the top of my head, limit shotguns to 12 gauge with 3″ chambers. For rifles I’d say .40 caliber with a reasonable limit to powder capacity. The latter single shot, of course.
A conspiracy theory about Las Vegas worth examining.
“The Chertoff Connection”
Putting scanners EVERYWHERE – the only solution. Who will profit? The people who make the scanners. Who will lose? Everybody else.
LIke most people, I’m concerned about ongoing and increasing gun violence. I’m in favor of universal background checks, but I believe that the pervasive culture of violence in our society is a more direct cause than the accessibility of guns.
It’s hard to turn on the TV or go to a movie or play a video game without seeing violence being sensationalized and glorified. It’s become standardized and normalized. How many movies can you name that don’t contain at least one gun?
Another factor is how poverty and depressed neighborhoods breed criminal and violent behavior. Why are we surprised that adolescents are drawn to gangs and deviant social behavior when they are raised without normal development, relationships and opportunities?
Not to mention the country’s obsessive war-making that has trained thousands of young people to become effective killers.
We live in an increasingly sick and violent society. Controlling guns is not the solution. If only it were that easy.
Quote from the article:
“NRA and their “cash and carry” cadre in Congress”
While I firmly believe that lobbying should be banned…
The NRA spends about $3.2M per year on lobbying, that’s about $5k per a member of congress. On the other hand, the health industry spends around $284M per year on lobbying, that’s around $455K per member of congress.
To say that “cash and carry cadre in Congress” is naïve to say the least. It isn’t the money that influences the members of congress, when it comes to voting on gun legislation. It is the vast number of NRA members and other gun-right advocates that change the member of congress votes. No member of congress want to risk their lucrative “job” with excellent benefits. The NRA lobbying is chump-change for them, industry lobbying is where their side job (a.k.a. votes for sale) are very lucrative.
On the other hand, I fully agree that the “Australia-style round-up of guns…” maybe the only solution for preventing massacres in the US. The congress should outright ban semi-automatic rifles, including pump action shotguns. The ban should include a buy-back program with an amnesty period. Anything less is just lipstick on the pig…
Thia ia the BEST response I’ve seen yet to the Las Vegas Massacre.
Accessability to guns my ass. Read the article on SSRI’s and mass shooters. How about that Big Pharma made up of IG Farben pieces that own more politicians than the NRA ever could. If people want to uninvent something that already exists start with nuclear weapons, then go down to the local hospital and get a list of diseases.
I saw the American character when I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I rotated back to the world in the summer of 1968. The next year, Seymour Hersh broke the My Lai massacre. I was more surprised civilians were surprised by the massacre. The wounded grunts on the ward said they shot first and asked questions later when they went on search-and-destroy operations. So for me at least based upon my experiences in Vietnam, there is a historical continuity from half-crazy, young males murdering Vietnamese civilians at My Lai to a deranged male retiree slaughtering concertgoers in Las Vegas. Karl Marlantes, a former Marine infantry officer, observed in Ken Burns’s “Vietnam” that for young Marines a tour of duty was “finishing school” for them. That was one of the few honest and blunt observations in that documentary which I thought whitewashed the criminality of the war. It will never change, this obsessive fetish American males have for weapons, for using them to act out their psychotic break with reality. It’s bred in their DNA. We are descendants of a colony that’s based capitalism in its inception upon slavery and a country that expanded across the continent where frontier justice with a weapon was the unspoken rule, even code of conduct. We attempted genocide against Native Americans. The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said hell is other people. That’s how I view those grunts in Vietnam and Stephen Paddock in his bunker in the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas. Of course, most civilians, even Vietnam veterans, are offended about how I feel about Vietnam overseas and gun violence back in the world. But most people are in deep denial about gun violence in our country. This bumper stock device is just a symptom of how we have lost out moral compass. I saw a documentary on YouTube about a young male entrepreneur who invented a 3D small milling machine that he calls “The Ghost Gunner.” It costs $1200 and spits out an aluminum lower receiver for an AR-15 by sliding in a block of aluminum. The stock is printed from durable hard black plastic. He also manufactures this aluminum receiver for customers who rather want him to make this receiver and ships it to them. He said business is blooming, and he even hired a small staff of machinists because he just couldn’t with the demand. Later in the video he went to a rifle range and did a test firing of a AR-15 with live ammo. It worked just fine. If you don’t believe me, just google “3D printing of the AR-15,” This AR-15 has also been featured in articles in Wired and Exteme Tech. Americans can now can convert their garages into machine shops that manufactures weapons. I don’t think this is what Marshal McLuhan had in mind when he predicted in the early sixties that the revolution in mass communications would turn the world into a global village as Johannes Guntenberg did with movable type for the printing press. Welcome to the brave new world of weapons.
All my life I’d had access to only the “sanitized” version of US colonial history, so I was shocked to the core to learn that what you write here is correct. By my current standards the Americans of that day were unkempt and cruel. Romantic SF stories have time travelers going back for visits to the era. No way under heaven would I want any part of such a trip.
Speaking of which, the one thing that is often not mentioned about slavery (particularly in the U.S., when it was legal) is that its real purpose was to maximize profit – the denigration of blacks was a more secondary motive, or at the very least, a byproduct of the primary motive. When the American Civil War broke out, the British offered assistance to the Confederate States of America, knowing full well that their source of cheap cotton was under direct threat.
Even after the Jim Crow Era, Segregation, and Civil Rights Movement, this legacy lives on in the U.S. prison system – where 70% of prisoners are black. (The poor economic and living conditions in predominantly black urban areas is no accident – “white flight”, job outsourcing, and the infusion of drugs are all major contributing factors.) UNICOR is responsible for the sale and distribution of products made in prisons, for prison wages as little as 20 cents per hour. (This is no exaggeration, unfortunately.) Major corporations like Walmart directly benefit from this, which is how they’re able to advertise “LOW, LOW PRICES,” and simultaneously put mom-and-pop stores nationwide out of business. This is one of the most insidious plots in human history, without question. Prison labor is actually cheaper than outsourcing from China – and that’s before you even factor in shipping and supply costs!
Also, one footnote on Capitalism: it’s not purely Capitalism itself that is to blame, but Capitalism with little or no regulation. We need to end the wayward trend of numerous tax breaks for major corporations (corporations that are not at all affected by the corporate tax rate – some actually net a profit on their taxes!), put an end to stock buybacks (and really, the Wall Street system in general, which takes power away from the consumer), end tax evasion/offshoring of all kinds, and encourage free enterprise competition that dissuades oligopolism and favors advancement and innovation. It’s easier said than done, but we have to start somewhere at some time – unfortunately, absent a major crisis, we have very little leverage to work with.
As for weapons, well – I’m sure you know the story. It’s a measure of hard power endemic throughout the U.S., both on the battlefields abroad and at home.
Next time you see “MADE IN THE USA” on a product, chances are, it was made in a prison workshop somewhere, for cheaper than imports from China.
This is nothing less than the re-introduction of slave labor, after being banned with a Civil War no less, and using those very descendants of the old slave labor system. This is especially true when the prisoners’ offenses are relatively minor, not meriting a long stint in a defacto slave-labor camp. This BTW was what Hitler’s death camps ACTUALLY were. They were slave-labor camps, where the “useless eaters” were put to death when they could no longer perform grueling hard labor. The NAZIs, Fascists, AND Communists were sponsored projects of the Synarchists (Communism as the “boogy-man”; Fascism and NAZIism as the strong medicine to cure the disease of Communism). For a horrifying insight into Synarchism, go to Executive Intelligence Review, go to their search box, type in “Henry Luce”, read the articles that pop up. There is one very telling article in the list about the CCF too.
I think it’s a fundamental error to attempt to generalize regarding people’s reasons for owning guns. Like you, I did 27 months in Viet Nam. I decided when I came back to an America I no longer recognized in 1970 that I’d try to no longer practice violence except for protection of myself, my loved ones, and taking the occasional deer out of our garden. I stuck to that, and I haven’t owned a gun since I moved to town in 1993, although I still keep a knife near my keyboard just in case.
In my experience, many people have no reason for owning a gun other than family custom. Folk in rural areas tend to view the rifle hanging on the wall as part of what makes a home a home. For some it’s recreation, e.g., skeet shooting and competitive shooting. For some there is a more urgent need for self-protection; statistics teach that life in urban areas is far more violent than normal life in the sticks. And many hunt game both for sustenance and recreation.
There are many misconceptions about civilian violence in the U.S. For example, “frontier justice with a weapon” was largely confined to the whites vs. Indian scene. Law was usually not very far behind the first wagons to arrive in the West and gunfights (other than whites vs. Indians) were a rarity. But that’s not the picture of history most people have in their minds because of the sensationalist fiction that has flowed in torrents over the decades from Hollywood and book publishers. The incidence of mass murders in the U.S. is currently the lowest it’s been in decades. And over-all homicide rates in the U.S. have been trending down for decades, although you wouldn’t know that from our many politicians who practice the politics of fear.
What still stuns me, even after all these years, is the American public’s indifference to the mass killing its government does abroad. Those of us who have fought America’s foreign wars know beyond perdition that violence in the U.S. doesn’t hold a candle to the mass violence our government imposes in foreign lands that has not a thing to do with the defense of America. We killed millions in Viet Nam, millions more in Iraq, and a half-million or so thus far in our proxy war on Syria. Using a common rule of thumb, I can safely say that those maimed at least triple those numbers. But where is the upset over those facts? Are we Americans so parochial that we don’t care about mass murders so long as those killed are not us?
What happened in Las Vegas is small change compared to what our elected Psychopaths-in-Chief have done in foreign lands for decades and are still doing. Why aren’t we talking about that?
I don’t know if you saw this in the recent previous thread, but “Isn’t it Ironic” posted this quote from Ron Paul:
“Is it really possible that the US government can kill millions of people overseas without it having an adverse effect on the mental stability of the American people? Is it really possible for Americans to continue living normal lives, mentally speaking, while their government is out killing millions of people on a regular basis? The US government’s mass violence abroad is the root cause of the horrible irrational violence that afflicts American society.”
America’s widespread abandonment of mental health treatment in the mid-1970’s – admittedly a poor system rife with practices that were not effective, and some considered to be barbaric (confinement, lobotomy, shock treatment, etc.) – concides with the rise of gun crazies.
Despite the persistence of outdated treatments, pharmacutical advances were coming along, as were cognitive therapies, and group-based treatments. We may have thrown out the baby with the bathwater by essentially de-funding this important aspect of our public health system.
Stigma persists to this day, stronger than ever. This prevents people whose fearful beliefs lead them to arm themselves to the teeth as a solution to their fears (and who may be otherwise functioning in society) from getting help for their fearfulness. The fears must be quite significant to overwhelm an individual and cause such a sinister hobby to overtake someone’s life. These guys (mostly) may well be your next-door neighbor football fan, avid hunter, just a regular guy. No real committment to peacefulness or compassionate understanding, though, eh? Mix that in with all the violence on TV, video games, pro fight sports, a news media that emphasizes violent crime over accomplishments by good citizenry, and we have the pathological soup we see increasingly evident. It really isn’t a mystery, it’s an obvious consequence of America’s culture of violence coupled with it’s sense of being the “Worlds Only Superpower” (and therefore, unstoppable, just like our hero, Rambo). Armed to the teeth, and running amok.
That’s not my experience of these guys. I’m a blue-collar white guy, electrician, and almost all of them are gun owners (me included). I would guess their frame of mind is that gun ownership is like an article of faith, like a Catholic from the Middle Ages with his Crucifix around his neck, almost as a Talisman; like it’s a civic duty, but they would NEVER think to describe it that way. I see no fear in them. Many are veterans who “don’t sweat the small stuff” of civilian life. One of their main topics of conversation is guns (sports being another main topic, and cars, and work-related matters, and the Bible among the religious ones. They don’t get on websites like this or talk much about socio-politico-economic issues in general). I haven’t unpacked my guns from their cases in many years, seeing as how the slow Corporate fascist take-over of the country since at least JFKs murder has proceeded apace with no interference from the more than 100 million gun-owning citizens whatsoever. Many could easily be induced to “go Brown-Shirting” for the Oligarchy (think “Militia Movement”) thinking they would be achieving something good & noble. But the Oligarchy is not interested in engaging such a “Two-Edged Sword”, preferring their long “sleep of unknowing” to continue on. My guns are completely useless for the intended civic duty of the 2nd amendment, and can rust away for all I care about them anymore. The key to curing the “Malaise” that leads sometimes to mass shootings and many other acts of despair (suicide is one, drug addiction & alcoholism are others), is to take the GENERAL WELFARE Clause (a modern, secular expression of Jesus’s 2nd Commandment to LOVE one another), as seriously as the 2nd amendment, and seriously tend to the well-being of EVERY single member of our society under that Covenant that we call our Constitution. We were born into a Society that had, once-upon-a-time, sworn an oath to do just that (the Constitution), and committed it to Parchment & ink. We’ve been very lax in our observances of our sacred oath. The “Angels of our better nature” have not been engaged lately, which obviously leads to many manifestations of Breakdown, from crumbling character to crumbling bridges and all those things that lay on the spectrum between these two extremes.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Brad
I was exploring the possible causes for the accelerating uptick in the sort of lashing out that we’ve experienced lately, and, it seems, since the 70’s.
Why is it that the “Angels of our better nature” fail in some individuals? It could be that there is less positivity availabe out there to counter the violent stream of “entertainment” that the average American is subjected to on a daily basis (unless it is consciously avoided).
After recognizing that this is a real problem, maybe an effort to promote mental hygeine would be a good start to approach a solution, rather than to focus on guns. After all, as some say, guns don’t kill people, people ( with and without guns) kill people.
Good post, Brad. Through my personal experience, I find that the prevalence of distrust in society often dissuades people from helping others, for fear of being taken advantage of, or exploited – this eventually becomes the norm. In addition, the Libertarian ideal of exclusive, or largely exclusive self-reliance, and applying that concept towards all peoples, runs directly counter to the constitutional ideal of the government providing for the general welfare of its citizenry. Basically, at its worst, Libertarianism makes the rich even richer, those in power more powerful, and in conjunction with the ideals of zero-sum economics, only promotes much of the inequality that we have nowadays. It puts down the victims of the almighty Free Market as “losers,” and is devoid of compassion and understanding. (Obviously, total deregulation is not the answer.) The truth is, everyone deserves an adequate supply of opportunities and resources to be able to succeed, and for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Inequality of some magnitude is inevitable (now, we don’t want a Communist system, either), but actually propagating inequality for the sole, exclusive benefit of the powerful elites, and the few like-minded individuals joining their ranks, is evil (to put it simply).
Hopefully, before long, people in general will realize that a strong, powerful citizenry, in concert with a well-run government, ultimately paves the way for the benefit of all… including for those at the top. Unfortunately, those at the top of the ladder, pulling all the strings, are only interested in greed, power, status and instant gratification.
The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF, from EIR search box) made sure that we wouldn’t want to be part of a society, and see ourselves as one people. We baby boomers were the first generation to be the Guinea pigs for this massive Brain Wash.
This comment is on point. Through decades of socio-economic pigeonholing, racial/ethnic sandboxing, and so-called “social engineering” (which, in addition to area/geography, is ubiquitous in much of the media landscape), different values have been hoisted upon and adopted by different groups, shaped by nuances in their respective environments and varying standards of living; in conjunction with people often not knowing how to respect others’ differences (whatever those may entail), we have ourselves here, a recipe for disaster. Once we personalize race and associate specific values with race, without any regard whatsoever for avoiding the fallacy of interchanging correlation with causation, we also have the ingredients necessary for racism and xenophobia. Any differences in opinion – especially strong, dissenting opinions, like those found on this site – are naturally seen as threats to be neutralized (some people take dissenting opinions too personally), which is why people often resort to vitriolic, hostile, often ad hominem attacks against each other. (Made worse by exploiting or feasting on others’ insecurities.) People tend to be way too emotionally vested in what ought to be matters of objectivity, and not subjectivity – these are matters often shaped by experience, and lack thereof. Also, it’s bad enough that sanity, pacifism, and compassion/empathy is often misconstrued for weakness, whence violence/instigation of some form is often seen as the answer (in concert with the ideals of Saul Alinsky and recent developments, this qualifies as a national threat) – I believe this idea is in some way expounded upon in Plato’s The Republic, to a certain extent. With all that said, this is where we are now.
Also, as a bonus, many (if, not most) of us have replaced the ideals of common human decency and mutual respect with a dystopian ideal that equates net worth with self worth (more money = more power = more respect), and treats laws (which are often highly fallible) as religious doctrine so that even those who disobey unjust laws for the sake of justice are personalized and labeled as “CRIMINALS” with no room for context whatsoever.
Independent, actually creative thinking has been replaced with mob-mentality/groupthink dogmatic thinking; the influences of peer pressure and ideological echo chambers (which are not at all exclusive to any particular group) are impossible to ignore. Any opposition to their dogma – even if it’s benign – is often met with scorn, ridicule, self-aggrandizement, and excessively vindictive moralizing. It’s almost as if people embrace being miserable and unhappy, if it means scoring some (superficial) victories over others by bringing them down and making them seem and feel inferior (well, as some would argue, that’s what lawyers are for).
You know what would finally get the wingnuts to act? If Earth Liberation Front, the Communist Party USA and various Trotskyite units all grabbed the most lethal guns today, with bump stocks, and with the silencers the wingnuts want to legalize.
In practice it wouldn’t work. The rednecks have a head start, they’re better organized, and they have the cops & prosecutors & juries. It’s also a matter of sheer numbers. There are an awful lot of rednecks.
You will never get what you want referring to the other in this argument as redneck or wing nut. As a matter of fact it actually says more about you than them. As Joe says maybe it’s just me tho. All you seem to do is belittle the other and then claim nothing can be done. Maybe focus on tangible and real efforts to effect change here. Start with things that don’t seek to remove the second amendment or curb the ‘rights’ granted by it. Seek to change the so called culture. Gun safety courses should be mandatory. This does not infringe on rights and certainly will make things safer for all. Another simple measure is to STOP calling them weapons and refer to them as firearms, in all discourse both pro and anti gun. While this may seem semantical, you may be surprised as to the effect. Or don’t ……yet continuing to refer to the other in derogatory terms will not work. This should be completely obvious, and to continue to do so is nothing more than agitprop and shilling for TPTB. IMO of course.
That’s not the reason it wouldn’t work. The political reality is that it requires the legislatures of 2/3 of the states to amend the constitution and you can’t get an amendment to the 2nd Amendment through the senates of that many states. State senators from rural counties would never permit it because gun control is largely an urban vs. rural issue. And there are a lot of rural counties in a lot of states.
If I recall rightly, Gov. Ronald Reagan changed his tune on gun control in California after the Black Panthers showed up armed to demonstrate at the state capitol.
Ronald Reagan is arguably the father of modern gun control, by signing the Mumford Act.
While I totally agree that the bumpfire thing is a fig leaf – the devices, aside from providing a not-so-cheap thrill at the local gravel pit (no actual gun range would ever allow them), really are only useful for mowing down a large crowd of people – I also think blanket bans on certain styles of guns or large magazines or various devices are a poor approach to reducing overall violence. There really is no magic legislation to stop mass shootings, but there is a lot that can be done about the slow grind of violence that plagues this country. The majority of “assault” rifles are owned by a small, avid, and mostly harmless group of people; harmless, at least in terms of actually committing a violent act, maybe not so harmless politically. These sorts of weapons are used in a vanishingly small percentage of overall murders. The fear of a ban does more to sell these guns than a dog-whistle racist ad campaign ever could. They are mostly important as a cultural signifier. There is little political will to ban handguns, which are used in the vast majority of gun murders, because they are, rightly or wrongly, perceived as a legitimate means of self-defense.
As a gun-owning leftist/socialist/peacenik, I urge my friends, who almost universally support massive bans, to change tactics. These bans, like the War on Drugs, are basically seeking an authoritarian law-enforcement solution to a social problem – imagine the massive police build-up that would follow a confiscatory gun policy – the War on Guns. Focused approaches targeting at-risk kids and domestic violence have proven effective, for instance. Many gun owners are open to increased vetting – getting one license, instead of having to pay for a background check every time they purchase a gun, for instance. I’m not saying that stricter gun laws won’t help in some cases, but there are many other ways to spend those resources.
Of course, the fact that much of the U.S. has essentially become a Third World country as we spend our money on really big guns for our overseas adventures is the elephant in the room. I’d argue that poverty is a better predictor of a high murder rate than anything else.
@ “The majority of ‘assault’ rifles are owned by a small, avid, and mostly harmless group of people; harmless, at least in terms of actually committing a violent act, maybe not so harmless politically.”
You apparently missed the finer points of some earlier fig leaf legislation introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein, which defined “assault weapon ” as a semiautomatic rifle (one trigger pull, one shot) sharing one or more cosmetic similarities to actual fully-automatic assault rifles (one trigger pull, multiple shots), the “Assault Weapons Ban” section of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
It was a hoot because the legislation did not forbid semi-automatic weapons that bore no cosmetic similarity to a real assault rifle. Mainstream media played right along with the legislation as it moved through Congress, baldly claiming that the nation was awash with assault rifles and the legislation would cure that problem. The NRA let the legislation pass because it would have absolutely no effect on the overall sales of semi-automatic rifles. And gun owners and their wannabes didn’t fight it because they could still buy exactly as much firepower so long as they didn’t want a rifle that had a cosmetic similarity to a real assault rifle, e.g., a pistol grip on the stock.
Sale of fully automatic assault rifles had been heavily regulated since the National Firearms Act of 1934. In 1986, Congress passed what was virtually a complete ban, making it nearly impossible to legally acquire an assault rifle. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban actually had nothing to do with assault rifles. There’s a Wikipedia article if anyone wants more detail. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban
But the members of Congress who voted for the later Assault Weapons Ban went along with the lie, proclaiming a great victory by banning the sale of “assault weapons” that were not in fact assault rifles. The Assault Weapons Ban had a sunset provision and it expired in 2004, so semi-automatic “assault weapons” that look like assault rifles are back on the market.
Short story, there is no “small, avid, and mostly harmless group of people” in the U.S. who legally own assault rifles. Anyone who believes that there is probably got snookered by the incredibly deceptive politics surrounding passage of the Assault Weapons Ban.
I agree that the more effective solution lies outside “the war on guns”. The citizenry would never stand for having their firearms confiscated. The dismantling of the middle class that occurred during my lifetime is the real culprit that has led to the fractious and drug-addled society we find ourselves in today. That is the disease of which these mass shootings are just a symptom. Some simple steps like a required gun safety course as a prerequisite to a federal license would be a sensible step, and maybe some kind of mandated slow-down in the manufacturing. It is amazing to me that with all the guns we already have that they make more and more every year, and find a market for them. It’s not like they go bad. My only firearm is a WWII ’38H Sauer my father gave me. It works just fine.
JP Sottile brings up a great subject, of when Americans seemed to be united. I think about this from time to time when I ride through my old neighborhood, and recall all of the social clubs that once were there. There was the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, The Moose, The German Club, The Italian Club, there was a Club for every European nationality, and then there were the simple local bars with names like the Do Drop Inn or the Elbow Room, or maybe Mike’s Bar & Grill.
Churches had bake sales, and Catholic’s had carnivals. Protestant softball teams played Catholic ball clubs. A Jewish family would hire a band with three Italians and a Polish bass guitar player, who were all Catholics, to play at their sons Bar Mitzvah, and welcome the band to eat and be merry with the rest of the family. In the sixties White kids played music in bands with the Black musician kids, and the crowds loved their beautiful blend. And what White kid doesn’t remember their high school recruiting their first Black kid player onto the schools football, or basketball team?
In fact, it was very likely your mum and dad didn’t lock the front door to your house all the time. It wasn’t like your mother even knew where you were at every given moment of the day. After all what was there to fear? A neighbor could be trusted to watch your kid. It wasn’t uncommon to leave your keys in your cars ignition, either. If you didn’t like something about the product, why no problem the owner of the store was right there, and not some bazillion miles away in some corporate maze of executives. If you could afford to fly, why you just walked straight on up and into the airplane. No one cared what was in your travel bag, you were cool.
These things I mentioned, are just some of the things we Americans have loss. I feel for my grandchildren, for they will have never known a simpler America. If I could this would be the America I would return too. Yes, it had plenty of flaws, but nothing of which was so flawed as what we now have today. This militaristic police state, is killing us Americans. We are all strung out on prescription medicine, and everything about our next door neighbor is annoying. We Americans need to get pass this societal disconnect, and once again learn to be human. Oh, and to be human with the rest of the world as well.
Are you sure? James Loewen’s “Sundown Towns” notes that, in the North, there were plenty of “no Jews allowed” suburbs. That’s not to mention that even if blacks and whites played in the same high school band, they still didn’t likely visit each others’ homes.
It may be me.
One of the things that made that all possible was an economy that served the average American well, and a highly progressive income tax that forced the ultra wealthy to spread their money around rather than horde it. When I was a kid we had a milkman and a breadman deliver those goods right to your doorstep, and those guys got paid enough to own homes, with the wife at home instead of working, and their kids went to the same public school as I did. The neighborhood was cohesive. I doubt we’ll ever see those times again. I’m sure I’m just looking through the limited lens of my own lifetime, but I think the downfall began with the assassination of JFK. From that point on the corrupting forces got the upper hand, and each successive decade was worse than the one before.
I could not agree with you more Skip. It does seem as though since the JFK assassination we all have been led down a steady path towards becoming a police state. It is ashame, since it never had to be this way. Starting with the Vietnam war for my generation, these for profit conquests have certainly hurt us, that’s for sure. Keep the faith Skip, that better days may come. Joe
Skip and Joe,
Thanks for the memories. You’ve sent me back in time this afternoon. I lived in West Virginia and I remember getting out of choir practice early one day in 1960 to see Senator John Kennedy from Massachusetts. I was 9 years old and did not understand why he had to win the West Virginia primary because he was Catholic. I went to the Methodist Church. The Catholic Church was next to us on the left and the Presbyterian Church was on our right. I had little friends from my school class in all 3 churches. We all believed in Jesus. The churches had different names, but grocery stores and civic clubs had different names – like what was the difference? Two of my friends and I were at the front when Kennedy walked by going to the town’s municipal parking lot to make his speech. He shook our little hands and said “hi, boys”. We, of course, were thrilled.
Likewise thanks. I lived in a tiny town next to the Great Idaho Primitive Area. Our phone number (on an eight-party line) was 23-J and the operator was named Thelma. She worked 24×7 but got a week off every month if she was willing to leave town for that week so her substitute could occupy the office/apartment. We didn’t even have a lock on the door. Everyone knew everyone. When a stranger came to town, everyone noticed. Everyone said hello when their paths crossed.
Now I live in a small city (Springfield, Oregon) and hardly anyone says hello when their paths cross, except me. It’s a much lonelier life.
Hi, from your neighbor in Springfield.
Thomas you bring back memories for me, as well. My dad brought to my fifth grade class a portable tv (remember those) so we kids could watch the Kennedy Inauguration. I went to an Irish Catholic school, so guess what political pins we all wore. Yes ‘JFK All the Way’, if you ran out of guesses. Ah, but yesterday when I was young. Take care Thomas. Joe
Thomas, I forgot to say how you should gold plate your hand. Wow! Joe
I’d agree this “bump stock” banning is clearly a charade. All I saw was that they’re going to ban the sale of the things. Betcha that the existing ones are “grandfathered”. And as Mr. Sottile says, making them will be a breeze. And every single one will instantly be declared “grandfathered” too. (“I bought it last year at a gun show from a stranger”)
Outlaw the things. Make the law to read that if you’re found with one, it’s “crush the gun”, a fine of 1/20 of your net worth or 1/10 of your annual income (whichever is greater), and a year in jail with no parole.
Yes, that’s fantasy. I called a congress-critter today. Las Vegas hasn’t fazed him a bit. He is still gung-ho for whatever the NRA wants. But since the NRA wants this fig leaf, he’ll vote for the meaningless bill, then preen forever about how good and pure he is.
All gun owners are law abiding citizens till someone is killed.
As drivers and owners of vehicles we are required to at minimum carry liability insurance to protect people and property that may incur injury or damage. Requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance would defray the costs, for the medical care for the wounded; the families of those killed; and emergency response by police, paramedics and firefighters.
I suggest that people who own semiautomatic and automatic weapons be required to carry liability insurance for each of those types of weapons they own in the amount of one million dollars for each bullet that fits into the weapons standard issued magazine. So the owner of a semiautomatic pistol issued with a 10 round magazine would have to carry 10 million dollars in insurance, an owner of a military assault weapon that has a standard 30 round magazine would have to carry 30 million dollars in insurance and if a person owned both of those weapons they would have to carry 40 million dollars in insurance. The only people that would be exempt would be currently active law enforcement officers for only one service weapon that they use while on duty, additional personal weapons for law enforcement officers would be subject to insurance requirements.
Please send to your senators and congress person.
This comment can be freely shared. Ted Velasquez
That’s a great idea Ted. I’m sure there are many among us who long for the day when only the rich and their property protectors are the only ones who are armed. Even better.. is the money made when whole swaths of the population are made criminals… for their protection of course… and can be sent to for profit jails owned an operated by the armed.