Should the U.S. enforce greater restrictions on gun legislation?

Left: Matthew Erickson, a freshman at St. Olaf planning to major in English and neuroscience
Right: David Wang, a senior at St. Olaf majoring in economics and statistics

This is an occasional college debate series hosted by Today’s Question where we invite debate clubs to frame and guide the day’s discussion. Positions taken by the debaters don’t necessarily reflect their views. As always, personal attacks aren’t allowed in this space. The comment thread continues to be open to all. Join in!

For this series, we welcome members of the St. Olaf debate team to defend or challenge the argument for tighter restrictions on gun control.

Defending the argument is Matthew Erickson, a freshman at St. Olaf College. He plans to major in English and neuroscience.

Implementing gun control is an inherent issue the United States needs to address. In 2015, there have been only 20 days without a mass shooting (this is from the “Mass Shooting Tracker,” which defines a mass shooting as 4 or more victims; this statistic was accurate through 10/01/15). Furthermore, in developing a plan for tighter gun control, we can see clear advantages for each plank of the plan. By reinstating a ban on automatic weapons in the United States, it becomes much more difficult for shootings to occur and leave devastating impacts on communities. An automatic weapon ban has shown promise in Australia, where mass shootings declined nearly 50% after a similar policy was passed. Additionally, we should tighten gun trafficking enforcement. Two options for doing this are making gun trafficking a federal crime rather than a state issue as well as requiring universal gun checks. Because access to guns is available to anyone, including those with a history of mental illness, violence, gang involvement, and those without proper safety training, the United States saw 33,636 gun-related deaths in 2013. This number is only 200 shy of the number of automobile-related deaths that same year. By approaching gun control comprehensively, we can enact a policy where people can look past excessive us/them rhetoric and continue toward a policy that will protect people and save lives.

Challenging the argument is David Wang, a senior at St. Olaf College majoring in economics and statistics.

The purpose of gun control laws is to reduce the number of gun deaths (more specifically, the number of mass shootings) that occur in the U.S. Gun laws, at least the ones that have been proposed, do little to prevent gun-related deaths, much less mass shootings.

Pro-gun restrictors assume that if they pass gun control laws, we will somehow reduce the number of guns that currently exist, even though most of our problems come from legally acquired guns. The U.S. is the only country in the world where guns outnumber the people living there (approximately 113 guns per 100 people). Even if we somehow eliminate the sale of guns entirely within the U.S., the sheer number of firearms that exist would make it logistically impossible to prevent gun-related deaths.

So what can we do? Ban guns altogether? Buy them back from voluntary citizens? Legally seize them from those who wield them? Those who truly believe in the Second Amendment ultimately remember that they have those guns to defend themselves from tyrants. If the federal government comes knocking on their door to take that right away from them, there will only be negative consequences.

This isn’t to say we can’t prevent mass shootings, but restricting or banning gun ownership isn’t a feasible or even reasonable way to go about it. We know the sort of individuals that commit these sorts of acts. If we want to prevent mass shootings, we need to identify these individuals early on and give them the help they need, ensuring they don’t just slip through the cracks. If we wanted to prevent forest fires, wouldn’t the logical solution be to teach people how to properly snuff a fire out, rather than banning fire altogether?

Today’s Question: Should the U.S. enforce greater restrictions on gun legislation?

  • Yanotha Twangai

    This whole debate is misguided from the get go. The vast majority of homicides and other crimes committed with guns are not mass shootings. Military-style assault weapons are rarely the weapon of choice, except for three types of folks: the rare psychopath who goes on a rampage, those who think they can defend themselves against the jackbooted storm troopers they imagine will be coming to get them, and testosterone-challenged men who think having a scary-looking weapon makes them more manly. There are better ways to prevent psychopaths from rampaging than prohibiting those weapons for everyone, and the other two groups are mostly harmless; let them have their fun.

    The real problem is concealable hand guns. An AR-15 is useless for holding up a liquor store or making a gang hit. So my suggestion is that we affirm the 2nd Amendment by loosening restrictions on long guns, prohibit the carrying of handguns in public, establish universal background checks for all gun transfers, make negligent gun owners liable if their guns are stolen and used in crimes, and crack down on straw buyers. Let people carry unconcealed long guns to their hearts content, but if you have a concealed handgun, there should be a presumption that you’re up to no good. If you feel you need a concealed weapon, let it be a dagger or a taser or a canister of pepper spray.

    • JB

      “and testosterone-challenged men who think having a scary-looking weapon makes them more manly.

      You should present an argument without trying to use your wit to make sexist, stereotypical statements. This is simply a suggestion.

      * I don’t currently own any scary looking guns

      • Yanotha Twangai

        What do you mean “sexist”? I’m a middle-aged white man (“Ya know, that one guy”). Based on your mispronunciation of my screen name, you made certain assumptions about me. So who’s being an “-ist”?

        • JB

          I didn’t mispronounce anything. What you said was sexist and derogatory, directly to men and indirectly to women. If you need to show your disdain for people who don’t agree with you by literarily emasculating gun owners as needing scary guns to compensate for a lack of what- manliness? I guess you can roll with that.

          • SigmeMDPsych

            Lets not fight, boys. Yanotha’s sexist like remarks only suggest he, himself has serious concerns about his masculinity or a unusual disdain for his gender. Gun control advocates have used that premise to somehow bolster their own fleeting masculinity or for the women, they use it to deny their repressed male envy- at least so says the liberal University studies from Columbia or Berkley_ look it up. Lets stay on topic now.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Also, no comment on the substance? Just casting aspersions.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Self-appointed psychologists make those sorts of comments, because it’s easier to diagnose others than to work on their own issues.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            But, no comment on the substance of what I suggested?

          • JB

            Oh, I was going to let others comment on your ideas. The reason I commented at all on your post was because with the way you went about trying to degrade gun owners as psychopaths, paranoid paramilitary crazies, and “testosterone-challenged men who think having a scary-looking weapon makes them more manly,” it deters any interest in the rest of your writing as it shows lack of maturity (especially for a middle aged white man).. I was giving you a head’s up.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            I appreciate that. The comment you referred to was not directed at gun owners in general, but those who think it’s especially cool to have military-style assault rifles. That’s what strikes me as a lack of maturity. But, as I stated, those folks are mostly harmless. AR-15s are rarely used in the commission of crimes.

            So here’s my perspective. Apart from target practice, hunting, and serving in the military, I have never felt the need to carry a gun. I’ve never been in a situation where I wished I had one handy. There has never been an occasion in my life (apart from said activities) where having a gun with me would not have created more problems than it would have solved. So I have to wonder about folks who insist they need to carry handguns. The vast majority probably don’t. Some do, so they should have the right to (absent any realistic possibility of getting rid of them altogether). But most folks I know of who have conceal carry permits have them not because they face an actual threat, but because they like to be in-your-face about asserting their gun rights. And a few of them seem to be just paranoid.

            So, we have a problem with violence in this country, and gun violence in particular. What can we do to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on the weapons that make it easier for them to commit crimes? The gun rights crowd would have us believe, nothing, other than having more “good guys” with guns. So the solution to the problem of people killing people is to kill more people?

    • …. presumption that you’re up to no good.” Please point to the source material that supports your claim that law abiding citizens with a permit to carry are “up to no good.”

      • Yanotha Twangai

        Not talking about them. I’m saying that if carrying handguns in public were prohibited, that presumption would be generally valid, making it easier to identify the “bad guys.”

        • The only ones that would have concealed handguns in public would be the “bad guys”? Disarming law abiding citizens so they can be targets for “bad guys” carrying guns makes zero sense.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            So says your ideology.

          • Not an ideology. Fact based on your premise.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            You’re still misunderstanding me. As you folks say, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws would have guns. So, outlaw concealed handguns in public, and and if someone has one, that’s a sure sign they’re an outlaw. I’m not talking about disarming anyone. You could still carry long guns to your heart’s content. Shopkeepers could still keep handguns behind the counter. Homeowners could still have them Heck, I could even be persuaded that openly carrying a handgun outside your clothing should be allowed. But if you’re carrying a gun, why would you need to hide it if it’s just for self defense?

          • I’m not against open carry. It’s legal in my state. However, I choose to carry concealed. Why? So as not to alarm anyone ignorant of the law. Second, so I don’t become a target of a criminal who’s looking to do harm.

            The gaping hole in your logic is carrying concealed means concealed. I’ve carried concealed for years and have never had anyone become aware that I’m carrying a firearm for self defense. You somehow you think that criminals carrying concealed are going to somehow magically be noticed.

            Let’s take your logic one step further. Since you think carrying open is ok, why wouldn’t criminals just open carry as well? You really need to stop embarrassing yourself.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            So, that’s your strategy? Ridicule those who try to make constructive suggestions?

          • Nope. I just call BS when I see it.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            I see. Did you call BS when the NRA posted on their web site lies about the effectiveness of Australia’s gun control laws?

          • No. I called BS on what you wrote, not what others write. You have no argument so you now try to change the argument. Doesn’t work.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            While you’re busy congratulating yourself on winning debate points, we still have a problem with gun violence in this country that’s significantly worse than in other mature democracies. What do you propose doing about that? I notice you didn’t comment on the other things I suggested in my first post. Are they stupid ideas, too, in your humble opinion?

          • So now that you’re concealed carry gambit didn’t fly you’re now on to other things. Ok, I’ll bite. Here’s my response to your “other” ideas.

            According to the DOJ, 40% of guns used in crimes come from friends/family, 40% are obtained illegally/streets, and 14% are purchased at dealers (subject to background checks). Of the 14% only .7% are bought at gun shows. So much for the gun show “loophole’ myth.

            So tell me, how are so called “universal” background checks going to reduce mass shootings? What do the Santa Barbara spree killer, the Washington Navy Yard gunman, both Fort Hood gunmen (2009) and (2014), the Aurora theater killer, the Arapaho High School gunman, the Tucson gunman, the Charleston church killer, the WDBJ gunman, and the UCC Oregon murderer all have in common? Yep, they all passed background checks.

            As for making negligent owners accountable for stolen firearms, nice job of victim blaming. So, when someone steals your car, gets drunk, and kills someone, you’re liable ‘eh? What if they carjacked it from you before killing someone? You’re still a bad actor according to your logic. If someone breaks into your home and steals your baseball bat, knife, tire iron, all the same rules apply, yes? It’s already illegal to allow unauthorized access to a firearm to a minor. You know that, right?

            As for actions that could effectively reduce the already plummeting rate of gun crime, I’m in complete support of cracking down on straw buyers. No argument here. Here’s another idea, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 70.2% of released prisoners with the highest re-arrest rates are those that had already been imprisoned for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons. How about we stop re-releasing recidivist gun criminals back into society to re-offend?

            But none of this really matters does it? Because, according to you, “The real problem is concealable hand guns.”

          • Yanotha Twangai

            What do you mean, “gambit”? You think this is a game? As for your objections to those other ideas (I’m glad you agree about straw buyers, btw), they smack of confirmation bias. I have no illusions that there’s any way to prevent all gun crime, but I think it would be good if we made it harder for people who are prone to use guns criminally to get them. That’s the point of such things as background checks. About liability, if you do something negligent and someone dies as a result, you should be held liable. Why should that not apply to folks who leave guns unsecured so they can be easily stolen?

          • You offer opinions with no facts. In the face of facts I lay out you just respond with “but I think it would be good” and unsupported generalizations. When you have the facts, pound the facts. When you have the law, pound the law. When you don’t have either, pound the table and scream. Feel free to continue to pound the table and scream.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            From my perspective, it’s you gun nuts who are pounding the table and screaming. No proposal is reasonable to you. You go looking for “facts” that support what you’ve already decided to believe. You deny facts that undermine your case (like Australia’s success). And you regard anyone who disagrees with you as stupid. And what you advocate is preposterous on the face of it, i.e., that
            the solution to the problem of gun violence is to get more guns into the
            hands of more people. Hey, maybe that’s the solution. Maybe we should have a federal program to subsidize guns and gun training for the poor. Would that suit you? No, of course not. That would be a government program, and the government can never do anything right. I’m through debating this issue.

          • I’ve not said anything that you’re attributing to me in your most recent post. You’re obviously left with nothing so you put words in my mouth and start regurgitating the anti-civil liberties bylines. You’re not debating, you’re ranting. That’s what people without facts or the law on their side do.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Not playing your game any more.

          • Don’t flatter yourself. You were never in the game to begin with.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            So, you admit it’s a game for you.

          • Watching you embarrass yourself is sad but comical.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            You wish. Enjoy the victory you imagine yourself to have won. It’s Pyrrhic anyway.

          • Not in the least pyrrhic. You’ve not disputed a single fact I’ve put forth, not one. You made it easy.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            As I see it, the essence of the discussion should be this: Would it be good to make it harder for criminals and other dangerous people to get and use firearms, and if so, how should we do that? The facts you’ve cited are all about what wouldn’t work. You haven’t even addressed the first part of that question. For all I know, you really don’t think it would be good to keep guns from getting into the hands of criminals.

          • According to Pew Research and the DOJ, overall gun crime is down a whopping 69% over the past twenty years.

            First, we agreed on prosecuting straw purchasers. Second, according
            to the U.S. Department of Justice, 70.2% of released prisoners with the highest
            re-arrest rates are those that had already been imprisoned for possessing,
            using, or selling illegal firearms. How about we stop re-releasing recidivist gun criminals back into society to re-offend?

            I’m not against effective efforts to reduce gun crime. What I don’t have time for are the opiate for the masses, politically expedient, knee jerk legislative ideas foisted on an uninformed public as solutions.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Maybe we’re getting somewhere. I’m glad to see you didn’t make the spurious argument I’ve heard from some 2nd Amendment absolutists that the decline in violent crime is due to the increased popularity of concealed carry permits, since the decline started long before that and has been happening as well in other countries that didn’t change their gun laws (including Australia, which stiffened them).

            You still didn’t agree that it would be good if we could find a way to keep criminals from getting their hands on guns, referring instead to “effective efforts to reduce gun crime” (whatever that means).

            If your principle suggestion for achieving that goal is to keep “recidivist gun criminals” locked up (which I would support), there are shortcomings with that plan, too. I’m sure you, being a supporter of the Constitution, realize that this would require legislation enacting stiffer sentences for gun crimes, which would only affect people convicted in the future, not those currently locked up and seeking parole. And stiffer sentences might be hard to get passed, because the trend is the other way, now that we’ve realized that the unreasonably harsh sentences for drug crimes enacted in the ’80s were misguided. So I’m curious what you might suggest in addition to that as an “effective effort to reduce gun crime.”

          • Well, here’s just a single example of my point. Dontray Mills purchased 27 guns using false ID and then sold them illegally. He was charged by the DOJ with 55 felony counts of gun trafficking. In exchange for a guilty plea to one count, he got 1 year probation. He’s currently on the streets. How about we start enforcing the laws we have instead of letting convicted felons like this go free?

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Yeah, you won’t get any argument from me about that. That was a travesty. Sadly, though, there do exist 2nd Amendment absolutists who think that behavior should be completely legal, any law against it being an abridgment of the right to keep and bear arms. Do I infer correctly that you’re not one of those nuts?

          • We are a nation of laws. Enforce the laws we have and go after the offenders rather than dreaming up knee jerk, feel good legislation to pander to constituents.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            But, just to be clear, you don’t have any suggestions beyond locking up the bad guys after they’ve committed crimes with guns or trafficked in illegal guns — no suggestions for how we might keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them — because most of the arguments from the pro-gun folks lean in the direction of denying that that’s possible or that it can be done without violating the 2nd Amendment.

          • Let’s hear your ideas. Please be specific.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            It doesn’t work that way. Lots of suggestions have been made by lots of folks who’d like to see more gun control, and folks on your side of the debate consistently shoot them down (no pun intended) and dig in their heels. Arguments from your side seem to consist mainly of “facts” interpreted with a strong confirmation bias toward what you’ve already decided you’re going to believe, or else whining that making it inconvenient for “law abiding citizens” to get as many guns of whatever kind they want violates the 2nd Amendment. For now, I plan to vote for any politician who wants to do anything at all, unless the pro-gun side can come up with a better plan than Wayne LaPierre’s idea that we just need to have more “good guys with guns.”

          • You can’t even articulate what new gun laws would be effective so you’ll vote blindly for anything. You represent the uniformed voter. You’ve admitted to being only willing to “do something/anything” without any facts or data to support it. Bravo.

            I have facts and experience to support my unwillingness to vote for anything that’s been put forth other than efforts to aggressively enforce existing laws. That doesn’t make me unwilling to work toward reducing an already plummeting rate of gun crime. It makes me an informed voter that won’t support new laws that show no efficacy. Please show me where the “do something/anything” approach to governance is a guiding principle.

            When you have the facts, pound the facts. When you have the law, pound the law. When you don’t have either, pound the table and scream for “something/anything”. Feel free to continue to pound and scream. If you would like the last word, it’s yours. I won’t be reading it.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            You have confirmed my suspicions about you.

          • Sue de Nim

            Yanotha is wrong. It’s not a game, is it, Kevin? It’s your business. Which means you have a financial stake in one side of this debate. Furthermore, it’s good for your business when gun violence goes up, because then more folks will want to buy guns to defend themselves. I’m sure you’ll protest that you’re absolutely horrified by things like the mass shootings that keep making the news, and I’m sure you are indeed horrified at some level, but they do mean more sales, don’t they? You have a perverse incentive to see the world get more dangerous, so why on earth should anyone take your public policy recommendations seriously?

          • You don’t know the first thing about me or my motives but don’t let that stop you from casting baseless claims rather than refuting even one fact I’ve laid out. Yes, I have an FFL license. That makes me informed on the subject. Do you have anything fact based with which to dispute the arguments I’ve made? I know, it’s a lot harder than making things up about a person’s character but it might build you some credibility if you did that rather than just emoting.

          • Sue de Nim

            I didn’t say anything about your character, only your financial incentives. Even well-meaning people can be self-deceived about their motivations when their livelihoods depend on it. And, given that your livelihood depends on the “facts” pointing in one direction, why should I trust that you aren’t selective about them, or that your interpretation of them isn’t skewed?

          • I’ve cited the sources for my claims. Largely the DOJ and Pew Research. My FFL license isn’t my livelihood by any stretch of your imagination. You can’t help but make unsupported claims. I have a full time career. The Shooting Sports and Training is my hobby. If you’re not going to engage in a dialog about the facts in this matter, I’m done. You continue to simply spew unsubstantiated opinions.

          • Sue de Nim

            “Shooting sports”? Sorry, I didn’t get that from your web site. I didn’t see anything about hunting, or target shooting or trap or skeet or biathlon. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but I saw no photos of deer rifles or shotguns, only handguns and military-style rifles. It sure looks to me like you’re catering to gun nuts, not sports shooters. Or maybe “shooting sports” is a euphemism for gun obsession.

          • Wow, you refuse to refute any of the facts laid out here. You just can’t help yourself. Here’s a list of credentials to edify your obsession. I’m a Federally Licensed Firearms dealer, a
            certified firearms instructor, and range officer. I’m licensed by the Bureau of
            Criminal Apprehension to train and license permit holders. I train people in firearm safety, defensive and advanced marksmanship. I’m train regularly in urban
            tactics, advanced carbine and defensive handgun, team tactics, and am also certified in
            precision rifle (sniper school). I’ve been trained by the Department of
            Homeland Security on workplace violence and active shooter response. I’m also
            certified in executive protection and provide private security working
            alongside law enforcement I’ve been published nationally on firearm and safety subjects and have testified as an expert
            witness before various state committees on security and firearm legislation.
            I’ve been interviewed locally and nationally on firearm legislation and events. Oh, and I’m a deer hunter.

            Unless you’re interested in a discourse on the topic at hand, I’m done with you.

          • Sue de Nim

            How wonderful for you. Of course, you just confirmed my impression that your mention of “shooting sports” is disingenuous. Your business is all about the non-sporting use of guns. If the world were to magically become so safe that the only gun sales were to hunters at sporting goods stores, you’d be out of a job. You rely on the world being dangerous. Why would you sugar-coat what you do by referring to “shooting sports” if you did not at some level realize that your specialized skills are at best an unfortunate necessity?

          • You’re deaf. I’ll say it again. Firearms do not support my family. I’ve spent my career in manufacturing, distribution, and professional services in the automotive and capital equipment industries and now I do consulting in the same space. I also happen to be a strong advocate for civil rights including the right for law abiding citizens to bear arms. Your continual accusation that I’m financially motivated in this is false. You repeating it over and over doesn’t make it true.

            You’re really hung up on the term “shooting sports”. I teach, compete, hunt, plink, and train with firearms. I’ve never shot anyone, nor committed a crime with a firearm along with millions of other law abiding gun owners. Those activities are completely legal, hurt nobody, and are called “shooting sports”.

            You continually refuse to address any of the facts I’ve provided. You just want to attack me personally. Knock yourself out. Feel free to have the last word. I won’t be reading it.

          • Sue de Nim

            Actually, you weren’t clear about that before. Still, your sideline is about guns. Or do you provide guns and training to your neighbors out of the goodness of your heart?

    • John Dilligaf

      Virtually 100% of the crimes that currently are committed with a concealed handgun are perpetrated by someone without a legal permit to carry. Therefore, it is already illegal for them to be carrying a concealed handgun and your proposed legislation changes nothing for them. It only changes things for those who are legally carrying.

      I support cracking down on straw buyers and making the current background check system more viable through better reporting from the states. Minnesota wasn’t accurately reporting relevant mental health issues to the system until recently.

  • JB

    For Matthew, gun control is not an “inherent” issue. A society allowed to own firearms has some inherent risk to the populace, but is meant for greater liberty and freedom.

    As well, there is a ban on automatic weapons for civilians in the United States. Automatic weapons fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger. I believe you are referring to semi-automatic weapons as automatic, and that is entirely misleading. Semi-automatic weapons fire one round for one pull of the trigger. They simply reload themselves from a pre-filled magazine.

    There was an “assault weapons” ban that expired several years ago. Legislators cannot agree on what the definition of an assault rifle is, so it ends up being a list of guns that look “scary.” Throw in many hunting rifles as well, simply because the shape of the stock makes it more comfortable for some to hold, but “looks” like a feature on an assault rifle… that they can’t agree on defining.

    A fact about violent crime, especially serious gun crime, is that it has actually been in a free fall for a few decades. So while shootings are more publicized now and shared everywhere through social media, the rate at which gun crimes are committed has plummeted since a heyday in the 80’s and early 90’s.

    My suggestion would be to fix the current background check system so that it flags the right people- mainly the seriously mentally ill and those with violent histories. The laws are in place, enough resources are not allocated to make it run smoothly. The federal government itself fails to prosecute the majority of people that ARE flagged as trying to buy a gun illegally. Let’s see how current laws work when fully supported ($) and enforced, before making more laws that will affect mostly the law abiding citizens, and still won’t solve gun violence issues.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      And the trouble with merely calling for more enforcement (a shortcoming of my own argument, I realize) is that the same gun rights radicals that oppose all gun regulation also oppose more funding for enforcement of current laws when it comes up in Congress.

      • Gary F
        • Yanotha Twangai

          Does that mean you’re going to contact your senators and representative to support more funding for BATFE?

          • Gary F

            They are not short of money, they had plenty of time and money setting up false straw purchases and having the guns end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

            The problem is the states aren’t reporting who shouldn’t have guns to the NICS system.

            http://www.fixnics.org/staterankings.cfm

      • JB

        I would tend to agree that there is (lobby and govt.) pushback against further enforcement of current laws. It seems the laws are enforced on more of a selective basis. But I think it would be far easier to sell the public on more resources being spent on current laws that already have the potential to stop some of these mass shootings, than to get public support for new laws that will most likely be selectively enforced as well.

  • Gary F

    So what happens when you fail to “sell” your guns back to government via the Australian Plan? Do you really know the details of the Australian plan? Do they forcefully come and get them if you wont sell them back? Will gang members “sell” their guns back to the government? What percentage of the 100 million gun owners in the United States will actually “sell” their 300 million guns back to government?

    So, if the government was successful at “buying back” 95% of the guns owned by private citizens, that still leaves 15 MILLION GUNS left in the hands of private citizens. ONLY 15 MILLION ! Do you think the gangs will “sell back” 95% of their guns?

    And if I won’t sell mine back, does that mean they will have to come a get them?

  • Gary F

    If not the “Australian plan”, which is confiscation, what new laws would have prevented these mass shootings?

    Most of them passed NICS checks and bought their guns legally. So now what? Get specific.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Australia’s gun control laws are not “confiscation.” Just about anyone who wants to can get a license and have guns.

  • Gary F

    Matthew, why not just be intellectually honest and say you want to eliminate the Second Amendment? Get Congress to pass the law, then have the states ratify it so the Second Amendment becomes void, then come get the guns.

  • I agree completely with the title of this article. The U.S. should enforce greater restrictions on gun legislation. I’m pretty sure it’s not what they meant.

  • Sue de Nim

    Until it becomes as socially unacceptable for gun rights fundamentalists to vilify proponents of reasonable gun control as it is for proponents of reasonable gun control to vilify gun rights fundamentalists, rational discourse on this issue will be impossible.

    • Gary F

      Give me some examples of “reasonable” gun control and how they would have prevented these mass shootings?

      • Sue de Nim

        As long as you seem to presume that gun control is inherently unreasonable, or that it’s the first step down a slippery slope toward confiscation, what would be the point?

        • Gary F

          Just giving you the floor to explain your point. I hear a lot about “common sense or reasonable” gun control, but never any examples of what legislation and how it would prevent some of these mass killings. I’d like to know what items you had in mind.

          • Sue de Nim

            It sound like you’re denying that there’s any such thing as “common sense or reasonable” gun control, so why should I bother? If not, what would you propose? Or are you one of those who thinks the solution to the problem of gun violence is to get more guns into the hands of more people?

          • Marla

            wow, Gary F is my hero! He asked specific questions to get the pro control group to describe what they think is needed and all we read is denial and/ or side stepping from the Gun control radicals. Radical term for Gun Control progressives is appropriate because anything that denies or ignores what is clearly within the Constitution is RADICAL, it is no different than the RADICAL anti-American Muslim Shariah Law crowd that denies almost all of our Amendment rights.
            Hitler had everyone register heir guns. My grandmother, rest in peace, used to talk about how they were led to believe it was for the good of the German people, to keep them safe from the communists. Then a few years later, around 1940-1941 she said they came to each door, to those who had registered and confiscated their hunting rifles. Then the camps began in full force, minus the Yom Kippur revolt, there was no way to resist.
            We already have common sense gun ownership control. It is the background checks for carry a weapon outside of the home or farm. I bet the soldier that was beheaded in the London wish he was allowed to carry a gun,,he would have had a fighting chance to save his life, I bet the principal at the school wished he had a gun to take out the crazy shooter. But what if we had no guns? Then the crazy one storms a school to behead children with a machette and still no one can stop him without a gun until he is rushed. How many teachers would do that? Nipe_ they would all hide under a chair until missed or killed, just as the stories shown. How to end mass shootings by crazy people?_ 1st, parents need to speak up and then ask for a 72 hour hold, then 2. _that mental health record is attached to the NICS data that prevents a lawful buy of a gun. The only thing I can see reasonable is to show a carry permit or do the background check when buying at gun shows..and reverse the liberals act that abolished mental health county community farms for the pervasive ill where they used to be kept safe from themselves and had a life and were useful. now they throw 2-3 in an apartment where a social worker spends 20 minutes a day to check on them..and that policy is abusive.

          • Sue de Nim

            You must be new to this debate. Why else would you not know that no proposal for gun control is ever regarded as “common sense or reasonable” by gun rights fundamentalists? I know, because I’ve tried. The most seemingly reasonable suggestion of all, universal background checks, is consistently blocked in Congress. I’m through throwing my pearls before swine, until I get some hint from the other side that there’s some openness to doing something. As for the rest of your rant, well, it’s just a rant.

          • JB

            I believe Gary means he would like to know YOUR idea(s) of “reasonable” gun control and how they would have prevented these mass shootings?

          • Marla

            Stop the ranting….if a proposal violates the Constitution, then it is RADICAL. Yet, Obama had full control his first two years and what did he do on more gun control???? He tried having so many agencies that didn’t need ammo, buy up millions of rounds ( Post Office, EPA, Commerce Dept., IRS included)..no agency trains with hollow point ammunition and those agencies have no need for mass agent guns. Is that ammo still in the country or was it shipped over seas instead? :Lets ask Hillary 🙂 who BTW, has always had armed guards around her but she thinks our kids at school should sit as sheep to the deranged wolfs under Gun Free Zones?

          • Mitch Berg

            “The most seemingly reasonable suggestion of all, universal background checks, is consistently blocked in Congress.”

            Because the only thing that makes it “reasonable” is the constant insistence that it is reasonable, absent any facts supporting the contention.

            It would affect about 2% of current firearms sales; criminals, who currently don’t buy their guns legally, would continue on their merry way. It will affect crime not in the least. The ONLY purpose it serves it to register the law-abiding.

            You can keep saying it’s “reasonable”; you might have to substantiate it someday.

          • Mitch Berg

            “so why should I bother? ”

            To disprove the contention that you (singular and plural) can’t argue the case, beyond emotional manipulation and out-of-context factoids.

          • Sue de Nim

            In other words, you’ve already decided that any gun control measure is categorically unreasonable, which means that anything I suggest will be ridiculed (as has been my consistent experience in the past when I have suggested anything), which leads me to believe there’s no point in discussing it with you. Convince me I’m wrong about that.

          • Mitch Berg

            “Sue”,

            I’ve been activist on this issue for 30 years. That followed having been a gun control proponent. I know both sides of this argument – I could probably make your argument better than you can.

            So yes, I do have a point of view on the issue. It’s a point of you I’ve come to after years of involvement in the issue, including learning the facts at a level of detail but I don’t think you quite understand.

            Nevertheless, you seem to think the fact that I have a point of view, invlidates my point of view.

            So I think the burden is on you to convince me that, not withstanding everything I know about the issue, That I missed something really really important.

            Can you do that?

          • Sue de Nim

            In other words, I’m not wrong about that.

          • Mitch Berg

            No. In other words, you are diametrically the opposite of right.

            I’ve come to a position based on years of rational research into the issue.

            You are clinging to a faith-based, almost superstitious, belief that making law-abiding people register their guns will affect crime of any kind, notwithstanding the fact that all the data that *exists* refutes the idea.

            I can bombard you with logic and data until our fingers bleed (indeed, we usually do – to little avail). Frankly, I’m tired of doing all the work.

            So why don’t you convince me I’m wrong, using facts and data and logic and all that boring stuff, rather than complaining about what a meanie I am for having a coherent, developed point of view?

          • Sue de Nim

            See? I don’t even need to offer an opinion and I get ridiculed. All I have to do is suggest we have a problem with guns and maybe we should do something about it. Okay, having already dissed universal background checks, what do you think about cracking down on straw buyers? What about making gun owners criminally liable if their negligence results in their guns being stolen and used in crimes, or kids accidentally shooting other kids or themselves? And then there’s the question of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Are you willing to put more money into our public health system to get those people help before they snap? Usually the same folks who oppose any gun control also oppose that kind of government program as well.

          • Mitch Berg

            “I don’t even need to offer an opinion and I get ridiculed”

            Saying “you’re incorrect” and showing you why, and asking you to make a case beyond throwing out “solutions” that have been tried without success, isn’t “ridicule”.

            “what do you think about cracking down on straw buyers?”

            Everyone supports the idea – law-abiding shooters more than most. Coming up with specifics is the hard part. How do you know which buyers are “straw” buyers before someone gets arrested for a crime using the guns they bought?

            Any crackdown (until we develop mind-reading abilities) will have to be at sentencing time. And we shooters DO advocate stronger sentencing, and *not* plea-bargaining away the gun-crime enhancements (which the Ramsey County attorney’s office *always* does, by the way).

            “What about making gun owners criminally liable if their negligence results in their guns being stolen and used in crimes, or kids accidentally shooting other kids or themselves? ”

            Local statutes vary, but gun owners are already criminally and civilly liable for a wide variety of negligence. Although making people liable for the actions of people who *steal* their (reasonably-securely stored) guns has all sorts of opportunities to violate due process.

            “Are you willing to put more money into our public health system to get those people help before they snap?”

            Sure, although let’s be honest; mental health is incredibly inexact. They can’t predict who’s going to “snap” today, and it’s not a matter of money.

            One improvement we could make today that would cost nearly nothing – except the DFL keeps stonewalling it; make *all* of the mental health information the BCA currently has on the violent mentally ill available to the NICS background-check system. Connecticut reported this information to NICS, and Adam Lanza got rejected when he tried to buy a gun; he had to kill his mother to steal her guns to carry out the Newtown massacre. The DFL’s been stonewalling on making this information available since 2003.

            Thanks, DFL.

          • Sue de Nim

            So, the fact that such ideas won’t completely solve the problem is a good enough reason not to do them? That’s ideology-based reasoning. As for your objection to making gun owners liable for letting their guns get stolen and used in crime, I’m only talking about negligence; if you keep them secured and someone somehow steals them anyway, that would be an adequate defense.

            Given the facts you cite about the Newtown massacre, what might have been done to prevent that? I don’t suppose you’d agree that the shooter’s mother shouldn’t have been keeping guns around, since she knew her son was potentially violent. Should we prohibit people from keeping guns in the place where a violently mentally ill person resides, or is that too much of an infringement on the 2nd Amendment? And what does it say about us as a society that a young man who was known to be troubled wasn’t getting the help he needed?

          • Mitch Berg

            “Sue”,

            You keep deflecting, and seem to have a problem engaging on specifics when they’re called for.

            “So, the fact that such ideas won’t completely solve the problem is a good enough reason not to do them?”

            Well, no – the fact that many of the specific ideas you’ve brought up will have *no* effect on violent crime – indeed, have had a negative effect when they’ve been tried in the past – is a reason not to try them.

            I mean, it’s not like this is new turf.

            “I’m only talking about negligence; if you keep them secured and someone somehow steals them anyway, that would be an adequate defense”

            Right. So – how do you prove a gun was inadequately secured…in the past? When it was stolen?

            “I don’t suppose you’d agree that the shooter’s mother shouldn’t have been keeping guns around, since she knew her son was potentially violent. ”

            Leaving aside that it’s *very* unlikely she knew that Adam could get *that* violent? She kept them securely enough that Adam had to kill her to get access.

            “And what does it say about us as a society that a young man who was known to be troubled wasn’t getting the help he needed?”

            Question: How do you force people to “get help they need?” Saint Paul is full of mentally ill people who aren’t “getting the help they need”. What do you suggest to force them to?

            So what does it say? First, it says that our society hasn’t developed the ability to read minds. Thank God.

            Second: That there are problems that defy simple, rhetorical, one-size-fits-all answers. Mental health tops that list. While it’s true “something needs to be done”, even the mental health profession can’t define what that ‘Something” is.

            Third: Since the world is full of both illness that can’t or won’t be treated predictably and reliably, as well as evil (for which there is no treatment), I’ll reserve the right to defend myself and my family against the violent manifestations of both, thanks.

          • Sue de Nim

            It wouldn’t matter what specifics I gave. As you say, you’ve been an activist for 30 years. No matter what “specific” I might give, I’m quite sure you’ll find a nit-picky flaw in it and pounce. There are people who seem to have devoted their lives to finding “facts” that back up their gun rights ideology, and it’s inevitable that one of them will be able to provide a rebuttal to any argument I might give. Were I to devote my life to finding “facts” on the other side, I might be able to compete with you on it, but I have more important things to do. And so I talk in generalities, which I do know about. We have a national obsession with guns that’s bad for our collective soul. Our popular culture glorifies violence. We admire “heroes” who destroy “bad guys.” Maybe you’re not wrong as a matter of public policy that trying to control gun violence with laws won’t work. But isn’t there something twisted about the idea that gun rights are, not merely guaranteed by the Constitution, but somehow sacred? Some of the rhetoric from gun rights fundamentalists verges on the idolatrous.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      That’s not going to happen, Sue. Gun control advocates are motivated by the hope that people can work together to make things better, which leads them to seek imaginative solutions. Pro-gun radicals are motivated by an apocalyptic fear of tyranny that makes them anxiously reactive about any infringement on their individual rights. They’re also suspicious of people who work together, because that looks too much like socialism.

      • Gary F

        Bingo.

        • Yanotha Twangai

          I expected push-back on that comment, not that you’d actually admit it. Thanks for your honesty, GaryF.

          • Gary F

            Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Chavez, all socialists, and all for gun control.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Get your facts straight, Gary. Hitler was not a socialist. He called his fascist ideology “National Socialism” to distinguish it from the economic socialism that was nominally the policy in the Soviet Union.

          • Hunter

            Why does that matter if Hitler was a socialist or fascist? Hitler controlled the factories and the overall economy….think VW Beetle. Oh_ Socialism is now a good thing because Sanders is running?..I seeeeeeee. But every Socialist country is doing sooooo well? NOT.

          • Mitch Berg

            “Hitler was not a socialist”

            Actually, National Socialism imposed tight controls on all industry. Sorta like…you got it. Socialism.

            The primary difference between (30’s era Euro) socialism and fascism was the fascists substituting nationalism for internationalism. They were both parties of the left; Mussolini was a major Socialist leader before realizing that internationalism wasn’t going to play with Italian workers.

            Feel free to debate the issue. I minored in History and German, focusing on German History. I’ve got all evening.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Government control is not the same as socialism. Socialism is when the state owns the means of production. Yes, Hitler basically ordered the development and production of the Volkswagen, but the German government did not own the company (and still doesn’t).

          • Mitch Berg

            You need to learn a little more German history.

            Hitler, in studying Lenin and Stalin’s failures, realized that complete nationalization was a stupid idea – meaning that in at least one way, he was smarter than Bernie Sanders.

            Nonetheless, he ran a planned, command economy, and the government tried to control the market.

            The distinction between “socialism” and what was practiced in Germany from 1933 through 1945 was purely academic.

          • Yanotha Twangai

            Actually not. Hitler included the word “socialism” in the name only because it was popular in those days, but it was socialism in the same way a “People’s Republic” is a republic: in name only. Not that socialism is a good thing (it’s not), but real socialists deny that Nazi Germany was actually socialist. There were similarities, but it was not the same.

          • Mitch Berg

            “Actually not. Hitler included the word “socialism” in the name only because it was popular in those days, but it was socialism in the same way a “People’s Republic” is a republic: in name only.”

            It’s an academic distinction without a practical difference. The Nazis didn’t take direct control of all means of production – but they still ran a planned, command economy.

            ” Not that socialism is a good thing (it’s not),”

            😀

            “but real socialists deny that Nazi Germany was actually socialist.”

            Huh. Go figure.

            I’m also told that atheists claim he was a Lutheran, Pagans say the Nazis weren’t *real* pagans, vegetarians and dog lovers aren’t swayed by his hatred of meat and love of animals, and the city of Bronau-Am-Inn doesn’t list Hitler on their city Hall of Fame.

            It’s funny how few people *will* allow that they share anything with Hitler.

            Look, I get it. Socialists like to pick on the fact that the Nazis didn’t *literally* own the means of production – but the control was no less complete. Germany’s control of industry was more comprehensive, the welfare state scarcely less intrusive (if less “generous” and more militaristic) than Sweden’s was in the 1970s. And modern socialists do love those ’70s era Swedes, don’t they?

            “There were similarities, but it was not the same.”

            Right – but at some point, you might note the similarities are pretty common, and the differences are academic.

            Anyway – it’s a far departure from the original discussion.

  • AndyBriebart
  • Bruce of heart

    Gun carry permit checks need improvement but when our own ICE and FBI can’t locate illegal immigrants with criminal records from Yemen, Somalia, Syria, South America and China, then how can they do better background checks that work? If one doubts that, take a look at Kate’s Law where not one Democrat would vote for it..amazing. Democrats must not really want better gun control or they, as is Obama, refuse to see the utility with enforcing the laws we already have. How many of the past year’s convicts were released that went on to rape and kill? Hundreds.
    I carried a gun for the past 29 years and only once did I need it for my own safety during a car jack attempt. The other time needed was in the ’90’s, when my legal gun persuaded several bikers at a State Park to cease their attempt with using a large knife to remove a teenage girl’s clothes. My only regret is they gave up the knife and left, they gave me no cause to shoot them in the head, ( prison would not have been good) two went on to succeed at rape again within the next year. So, which normal reasonable parent would tell me they don’t want to see legal gun ownership?

  • Bruce of heart

    One way to stop mass shootings in the inner cities, Chicago, Baltimore and New York, is to round up every gang member and shake them down for weapons and search their residence and cars. The illegal gangs can be deported and we could use the proposed Kate’s Law if the Democrats will vote for it. That way, gangs get prison if they return after deportation. Mayor Rudy G. in NYC brought down violent crime and related shootings. Today, its in reverse thanks to the Progressive new mayor’s liberal kid glove treatment.

  • Bruce of heart

    I find it very interesting that those who represent the radical anti-gun group, often admit they wouldn’t even rust themselves with owning and training with a gun to keep in their home. It is also interesting that so many polls over the past decade showed the radical anti-gun ownership group would never consider serving in our armed forces or as a police officer.

  • Hunter

    Should the U.S. enforce greater restrictions on gun legislation? Yes!!!!!
    Not in America but in Syria and against ISIL and Hamas and Hezbolah. but alas, our own President would rather deal with more gun control here than to be a leader and stop the millions of innocents being murdered. I saw his 60 Minutes interview and almost threw up to think the leader of the free world really believes he is doing the right thing as he actually does nothing. He always talks of the ” community of nations” but there is NO community of nations, there is no 16 countries involved. Meanwhile, he and Pelosi want stricter gun control while they can’t even figure out how to vet Syrian refugees coming here, with some as ISIL ???

  • CrimeWatchNE

    Yes, we should “enforce greater restrictions on gun legislation. ” Restrict gun legislation. MPR windmilling itself. Derp.

  • Mitch Berg

    While it’s an interesting article, I’m not sure what we learn by reading a couple of (all due respect) college kids reciting data and ideas they’ve gotten from other people.

    Y’know what’d be fun, though? If MPR organized a debate between two people who really know the issue. Say, Heather Martens from the grabber camp, and Andrew Rothman or Bryan Strawser or Rob Dorr or Joe Olson from the civil rights side.

    Now THAT would be some fun listening and reading.

    • David Wang

      Well the point of this exercise is to get people to be involved and to discuss this issue, or as article headlines “Today’s Question.” I’ll openly admit I don’t know the various nuances of gun legislation within the US, but that doesn’t mean I won’t offer my opinion if asked about it.

      While I understand why you’d want expert opinions on the issue (which NPR does provide, they had a recent radio segment that discussed gun control this past week), what’s wrong with letting regular lay people such as you and me discuss this issue?

      After all, many of the drivers of political change in the US come from citizens, albeit in some cases those drivers as interest groups made up of citizens, but they are citizens nonetheless, so I personally believe it is important for people like you and myself to discuss these sorts of issues.

  • Gary F

    The folks at MPR’s Today’s Question usually don’t change subjects for a least a few days. They jumped from this discussion really fast.

  • Floyd R. Turbo

    Yup. Unarmed people are targets for bad guys. That’s why there are so many mass shootings that happen in Amish communities. They make the news just about every week. We need to do something about that. We should require all the Amish to give up their pacifism. They should keep and bear arms like real Americans, or go back to Amishland, where they came from.

  • Yanotha Twangai

    To the pro-gun advocates reading this: Do you or do you not accept the premise that it would be good to make it harder for people who should not have guns to get them? The discussion here in recent days is not the first time I’ve encountered pro-gun advocates who have declined to accept that premise. And if you won’t accept that premise, then there’s no point in anyone trying to convince you that any particular measure aimed at achieving that goal is a good idea, so we can stop trying an just move ahead without you.

  • Yanotha Twangai