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Do we really want to keep kids safe, or just keep them safe from guns?

Murrah Federal Building
REUTERS/Jim Bourg
168 people, including many children, were killed in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, but no guns were involved.

There have been calls from many quarters, including the White House, for Americans to engage in a national conversation on gun violence. While we were talking, the president and vice president were writing executive actions, 23 in all. Is this a conversation or a monologue?

Meanwhile, we toil with boots on the ground, engaging in meaningful dialogue, or so we think. On Facebook, the conversation is carried by the sharing and liking of placards. The placards share data parsed carefully, to selectively illuminate shards of the issue, to paint guns-are-bad pictures, which artfully merge into an America-has-a-gun-problem mural. It is a mosaic short on terra cotta and long on grout.

Before the mortar sets, let’s review how the shards can be arranged to form a distorted image:  Start at the conclusion and work backwards to selectively include and exclude data points based on weapon of choice, age of victims, place of attack, and perpetrator affiliation (terrorist group or terrorist individual). Blatantly absent from the graphs and from the conversation are the largest mass killings in America and around the world, because either guns were not used or were not the principal mode of killing. Out of the dataset fall the victims of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995; 168 killed, including 19 children under age 6. The graphics deftly navigate around the bodies of mass killings victims who did not fall on school grounds, on American soil, or by gunfire. Some charts graph incidents, some graph death toll, and some don’t define what the numbers represent. All of the data germane to the conversation is not being brought to the conversation.

One of the most eye-popping placards features a graph of mass school shootings in America since 1940, with each decade including the accumulation all of the tragedies of all previous decades. Through this treatment of numbers, the graph line can flatten, but it can never go down; a cumulative death toll never decreases. This has the visual effect of making shootings appear to be always increasing, even when that is not the case. This cherry picking and data graphing lack the honesty needed in this conversation. The graph to which I refer was created by Dr. A. Charles Catania, and it appears, among other places, on Rachel Maddow’s blog

The most salient data point dodged by this graph is the Bath School killings in Bath Township, Michigan, which were perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe in 1927. Kehoe killed his wife with a blunt object and set his farm ablaze before setting off explosives in the school, killing 45, including 38 children. It is the deadliest mass school killing in U.S. history. Again, this is seen as uninteresting to the conversation, as children were not killed by guns. Internationally, the Beslan school siege and subsequent massacre in 2004 involved the capture of more than  1,100 Russian hostages, including 777 children. It ended with the deaths of 380 people; the majority of them succumbed to explosion and fire, not gunfire.

For those only concerned with shootings, a comprehensive look at mass shootings in America, 1900-2012, is provided in this link from Grant Duwe’s book "Mass Murder in the United States: A History."  To be clear, it is adjusted for population (per capita), and it is a graph of shooting incidents in which four or more victims were killed publicly by gun.  Duwe is director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections. 

Unintended consequences of the conversation

The executive actions and gun-ban talk have motivated many Americans to get out of their easy chairs to do something; buy a gun and/or join the NRA. The NRA reports 250,000 new members in the four weeks following the Newtown tragedy. People who never before needed the NRA are learning that the representation they sent to Washington is being sidelined by an emboldened president — leaving them without a voice, while sensing a challenge to their constitutional rights.

If you haven’t been to a gun shop in the past several weeks, you have not seen firsthand how many firearms and boxes of ammunition the president and vice president have helped to sell; picture bare walls, empty display cases and barren shelves. It is a great time to buy a scope, as little else remains in stock.

The rush to do something, anything

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rushed a bill through the New York State Assembly using a procedural shortcut known as a “message of necessity,” which shielded the bill from public view. The NY SAFE Act, which Cuomo signed into law, bans all magazines that hold more than seven rounds and prohibits the carrying of guns on school grounds. New York Assemblyman Al Graf commented, “I got my hands on the bill at 11:30 at night,” adding that he had only an hour to review it prior to a meeting of the Codes Committee. “Nobody was really able to look at the bill.”

The new law has been lauded as containing reasonable restrictions, common sense measures, and sensible solutions. Those terms are often invoked to stifle the conversation, as common sense is not open to debate. Unfortunately, in the rush to act, New York police were not exempted from the new gun restrictions; they are not permitted on school grounds with a gun. Now New York schools are arguably a less safe environment for children, as police officers are more likely than criminals to know and obey the new law. Cuomo’s actions make a knee-jerk bill appear to be a thoughtfully considered course of action. Time was of the essence; the policy had to be wrought before the emotions of the Newtown tragedy diminished. Data is durable; ignored, it waits patiently to be noticed, shared, and discussed.

Would banning firearms reduce murder and suicide?

This was the question asked and answered by American criminologist Don Kates and Canadian criminologist Dr. Gary Mauser.  Their study was not performed or funded by any pro-gun individuals or organizations; it was published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (Vol. 30, No. 2). If there were to be one required reading for participants of the conversation, this would get my vote. I will provide four key quotes, to pique interest in reading the report:

  • From the introduction, “There is a compound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern nations, which is why (b) the United States has by far the highest murder rate.  Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, statement (b) is, in fact, false and statement (a) is substantially so.”
  • “In the late 1990s, England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban of all handguns and many long guns.  Hundreds of thousands of guns were confiscated from those owners law-abiding enough to turn them into authorities. Without suggesting that this caused violence, the ban’s ineffectiveness was such that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States.”
  • “In sum, though many nations with widespread gun ownership have much lower murder rates than nations that severely restrict gun ownership, it would be simplistic to assume that at all times and in all places widespread ownership depresses violence by deterring many criminals into nonconfrontation crime. There is evidence that it does so in the United States, where defensive gun ownership is a substantial socio-cultural phenomenon.”
  • “In 2004, the U.S. National Academy of sciences released its evaluation from a review of 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some original empirical research.  It failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, suicide, or gun accidents.  The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control review of then extant studies.”

What is the goal of the conversation?

Are we interested in keeping our children safe, or are we only interested in keeping our children safe from guns?  While most of us would prefer the former, the conversation seems focused on the latter.

Not enough of this conversation focuses on the root causes of violence. The very fact that the conversation is focused on gun control indicates that we are more focused on a solution than on the problem. As the research of data bears out, gun control is not only ineffectual at preventing murder, it is counterproductive.

Let’s infuse this national conversation with facts, data, and thoughtful discourse. Setting policy for a nation: Should it be the outcome of rational thought following careful analysis of data, or should it be a brew of inchoate social-media arguments, anecdotal evidence, false assumptions and letters from children? 

Steve Rose lives in Minneapolis.

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Comments (24)

A couple of questions...

The NRA has opposed strengthening of back-ground checks for years. They are now slow-walking this basic need. Why is this the case?

A disproportionate number of spectacular killings are done with the person using weapons styled after military weapons, not using "Grandpa's old huntin' rifle". Why is this?

The killer at Sandy Hook, when he saw a policeman entered the school, was able to dispatch another entire group of children, an adult and himself within seconds, before the policeman could even reach the room. Why should this be the case?

The NRA proposes "a policeman in every school". How does that square with their continual complaint of government over-reach? What about on the playground--how would that stop a shooter from setting up in a car on the street? How would that stop a gunman from shooting into a particular classroom from the outside with a gun? Should we have a policeman in every room and every corner?

The NRA proposes a list of people that would be thought to be dangerous. How would that list be developed? Who would be on it? Is the NRA familiar with the "no fly list" and it's uses and abuses? Is that more "big government"?

The basic natural law allows the right of self-defence. How much of a gun is required for "self-defence? How many guns are required for self-defence?

The second amendment--only one sentence long--clearly ties the keeping and bearing of arms to the "well regulated militia". What is the "well regulated militia" as contrasted with the individual keeping of weapons outside of the militia? Where is the "well regulated militia" in today's world? Wouldn't a "well regulated militia" have rules, regulations, order and discipline? Where is that today? Isn't the second amendment today treated as a right to weapons without the responsibility of the disciplines and rules of the militia?

Fro a reference on the extensive rules and regulations of the militias see the attached reference:

http://books.google.com/books?id=nXk0DaYxvmMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mil...

"Militia Rules of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts", dating from the 1840's.

Another couple of question..

I hear that the banning of "assault-style" guns won't mean much because "there is no difference" in the functioning of any semi-automatic weapon. If that is the case, if the "assault-style" weapon is banned, what difference should it make to the prospective gun-buyer whether a gun looks like your Grandpa's hunting rifle or a military weapon? Is it military cachet that makes the "assault-style" desirable? Does it make one feel like a real warrior? Or, on the other hand, is there a real difference that makes it better for potentially killing more people more rapidly that makes it more desirable? How does that appearance/psychology/functioning fit into the mass-shooters decisions?

Banning guns based on their appearance

is a losing proposition. What should be considered is functions, e.g., rate of fire and capacity. Time reported (1/28/13) that an AR-15 is capable of firing 45 rounds per minute in semiautomatic mode. I've seen estimates as high as 6 rounds per second for some weapons, in the hands of a trained person. Why anyone would need to be able to fire almost 100 rounds in two minutes, using a high capacity magazine, is beyond me. (Note, "need", not "want". I understand the child in each of us.)

The former ban on the sale of "assault weapons" (as defined by that statute) included functional features such as magazine capacity, folding stocks (making them easier to conceal) and noise suppressors, among other things. (I guess some don't want their prey to hear the first few rounds if they miss their target.)

If you look at the models for sale today as "modern sporting rifles" you'll see that many are designed to appeal to those of us who played G.I. Joe as kids or are currently playing Black Ops 2. If you want a peek at the mystique, take a look in youtube.

My (former) rifle was a 30.06 bolt action, just fine for hunting deer or other substantial prey. It held perhaps 3-5 rounds, as I recall. (It's been a long time.) That was more than adequate to my hunting needs. My (also former) revolver was a .22 target gun, holding 6 rounds. An inconvenience, if I wanted to go through a box of cartridges, but not enough to warrant a 100 round (or even 30 round) clip for a semiautomatic pistol.

Reasons for NRA membership increase

The reasons for the recent spike in NRA membership cannot be conclusively or exclusively linked to the Sandy Hook school shootings and what followed. It turns out that at the beginning of December, NRA started offering some pretty sweet membership deals as reported by Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/nra-membership-discounts_n_2481...

So trying to chalk up the spike in NRA membership ONLY to post-Sandy Hook fears is a little too simplistic, as it turns out. As always, the American people can be counted on to take advantage of a bargain, and that has been particularly true in recent years.

One of the rare times

I agree with Mr. Rose. Even almost 100%. I'm sick of knee-jerk reaction and reactionary shouting from both sides of the issue. This article was nice to read. Even if you disagree with the conclusions, I have a hard time believing that a person can't really sit down and ask "what is the real problem here." The numbers tell us that there is something more happening. Why can't we talk about that rather than throw out "guns kill children" and "from my cold dead hands?"

You're setting up a false

You're setting up a false dichotomy, when you assert: "Are we interested in keeping our children safe, or are we only interested in keeping our children safe from guns? While most of us would prefer the former, the conversation seems focused on the latter."

Most of us consider keeping our children (and others!) safe includes keeping them safe from gun violence. The latter is not a contradiction of the former, nor vice versa.

That there is a lot of violence out there is no excuse for trying to limit or eliminate the kinds of massacres with guns that occur in shopping malls, churches, movie theater complexes, and schools.

Your primary source

is far from neutral.

Although you state that Mr. Kates' and Mr. Mauser's article was not "performed or funded by any pro-gun individuals or organizations", you ignore the fact that both have long histories as opponents of gun control. Mr. Mauser is affiliated with Citizens (sic) Committee For the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA or, as they like to call themselves, "The Common Sense Gun Lobby"). http://www.ccrkba.org/?p=2026 Mr. Kates is affiliated with another right-wing organization, Pacific Research Institute, which claims to "champion freedom . . . by advancing free-market policy ideas." http://www.pacificresearch.org/home/

Your refer to their work as a "study", yet it is not the result of any original research. It is a discussion of the work of others and one which, ultimately, focuses on the question of the relationship between the prevalence of gun ownership and gun violence. Without having analysed each of their arguments or having referred back to their sources to check the accuracy of their assertions, I can not comment on its legitimacy as a whole. I can say that I find much of it irrelevant in that it focuses primarily on other cultures and other times, with no apparent effort to correlate historical and international information with the circumstances which exist here in the United States, today.

Their focus also is on an absolute - gun ownership, not specific proposals or attempts to regulate gun owership in the here and now or in recent decades. The fact is that the United States has never had a comprehensive plan for regulating gun ownership. Federal laws in this area have been riddled with exceptions (e.g., exempting gun show sales from background checks) and state laws are a laughable collection ranging from virtually no controls (e.g., Minnesota) to fairly extensive controls. Given the lack of uniformity in state laws, however, none of them are likely ever to be effective when they can be evaded by driving across a state line. It is at such times that one of two things must happen: the states must come together to adopt uniform laws or the federal government must intervene.

One of the major problems in the current debate is that any approach that does not provide a complete solution is immediately rejected by many. Another is that any proposal which does not meet with our personal biases also tends to be tossed on the waste heap. In my view, what is required is a comprehensive consideration of what factors are involved in gun violence and which of them can be addressed in some meaningful way at an acceptable cost. This may mean that we have to forego some of the things we'd like to have but do not need or do things we'd prefer not to. These might include doing away with high capacity magazines, ammunition intended to shred flesh and insure a kill, or armor or Kevlar piercing rounds. It might also include requiring that guns be equipped with trigger locks, so as to prevent their use by children or anyone other than the owner, and to give even the owner a moment's pause before unlocking and using the weapon against a friend, family member, or co-worker. Civil and criminal liability for a person whose weapon was used in a crime and who did not take adequate steps to safeguard it might also be considered. The problem is complex; our attempts to address it must be as well.

A cultural change wouldn't hurt, either, but as we've seen in so many other areas, that will be the hardest change of all.

As our politicians are fond of saying in other contexts, let's put everything on the table.

Not Lacking Good Sources of Study & Research

Due to space limitations and readability concerns, I had to limit my sources. I chose my main source due to the breadth of the research considered. And, I include from that research (above), "“In 2004, the U.S. National Academy of sciences released its evaluation from a review of 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some original empirical research. It failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, suicide, or gun accidents. The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control review of then extant studies.”

National Institute of Justice is the research arm of U.S. Department of Justice. In 2004 (final year of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban), they performed a study on the impact of the ban:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_exec2004.pdf

One point from the linked executive summary

"The decline in the use of AWs has been due primarily to a reduction in the use of assault pistols (APs), which are used in crime more commonly than assault rifles (ARs). There has not been a clear decline in the use of ARs, though assessments are complicated by the RARITY (emphasis added) of crimes with theses weapons and by SUBSTITUTION (emphasis added) of post ban rifles that are very similar to the banned AR models."

In other words, crimes involving these types of firearms are rare, and criminals are not deterred by the unavailability of a particular type of firearm.

This argument of "more people

This argument of "more people die of other things, so why are we focusing on guns" is ridiculous, and seems a bit odd for someone claiming to want a data-driven dialogue.

I think we all recognize that explosives are dangerous-- and thus you can't go buy bombs. Sure, you can buy explosive substances (fertilizer, gas, etc), but these all have uses in our economy, and we've made the societal choice that the potential harms are outweighed by the societal benefits. We tolerate thousands of road deaths each year because we've opted to live in this modern society built largely around the automobile. But, we regulate these things. You can't drive a formula 1 car on the freeway. You can't buy dynamite at walmart.

So since there is no obvious societal good from certain guns (don't need 30 rounds to hunt deer, protect home, or anything else that truly is vital to functioning in today's world), it's reasonable to ban them, just like we ban public sale or use of dynamite, race cars, or any number of other things. So stop with the "why are you picking on guns" moan-- we're picking on them because a ban the types of weapons used in mass shootings would still leave people with weaponry far more powerful than any available to a citizen in 1776, and would not affect anyone's way of life, ability to protect their home, hunt, etc.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Neal, because I am not an apologist for the NRA, I will not take up their defense. I will comment that school districts should continue to manage the security of their schools. I made no mention in this column of the 2nd Amendment. We can parse the words of the Constitution and their meanings in the historical context of the day, and we can wax philosophical and talk smart about Supreme Court rulings. But, that is a different conversation which is available elsewhere on MinnPost. This column seeks to illuminate the data regarding guns in society and gun control, and proposes to set public policy based on reason and data analysis, not emotion and false assumptions.

Do I understand that you are crediting the number of killings at Sandy Hook to the rifle and not to the hand guns? In close quarters, a hand gun in each hand is quite lethal.

Pat, the NRA runs a sale on memberships every year. Meanwhile, due to demand, prices for ammunition, guns, and rifles are on the rise as the supply of them is depleted. Without the sales data for the guns and ammo, I might take seriously your claim about NRA memberships. But, such is not the case; we see sales up for both, regardless of price.

Rachel, I concur; we need to talk about the problem before we will see a real solution. The conversation doesn’t progress by both sides assaulting one another with their exclusive solution.

Connie, it is not a false dichotomy; my point is to question the emphasis on guns when the largest massacres occur without them. It seems to get forgotten that the most dangerous weapons brought to Columbine High School the day of the killings were not guns. Two bombs made from 20-pound propane canisters were placed in the cafeteria during lunch time. It was only after the killers failed to detonate the bombs that they opened fire on their classmates. You might find the makings for that type of bomb in your own backyard.

James, the research I referenced was published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and it met their standards. So, you think the criminologist who performed this research, would ignore the conclusions and favor gun-bans? Hopeful, not realistic.

Dimitri, Walmart sells propane, fertilizer and diesel fuel, and we’ve seen what they can do. If the focus stays on the weapon of choice and not on the motivation or mental health issues of perpetrators, what will the result be, innovative mass killing?

I suggest you rear my post again, sir.

I by no means suggested that the authors of the study to which you directed the readers, or the underlying research which they discuss, would favor gun-bans, if by this you mean banning all guns. I don't favor a ban of all weapons myself. I do question the existence of any legitimate need for weapons with a high rate of fire, loaded with ammunition which is designed and intended for no use other than killing human beings. Whatever recreational use they may have is far outweighed by the dangers they pose.

If you re-visit my post, you'll see that I believe that there is much that can be done to limit access to weapons which are used to commit murder or suicide or which result in the unintended deaths of our children.

By the way, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy bills itself as "one of the most widely circulated student-edited law reviews and the nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship." http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/ It is reportedly identified by the Federalist Society as its official journal. It's hardly the equivalent of the Harvard Law Journal or any other strictly academic, objective publication.

If you seek to inform debate, may I suggest you seek less biased sources?

Bring out your sources

If you have less biased sources, by all mean, bring them forward. I have referenced the U.S. National Academy of sciences, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, The National Institute of Justice (research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs).

Yes, there is much that can be to limit access to weapons. However, the research indicates that perpetrators of murders and suicide are not deterred by access to weapons. Solutions lie elsewhere, and the root cause of violence must be addressed.

Steve-- Walmart does sell

Steve-- Walmart does sell diesel. I can give you a list of many things that diesel does that is vital to our economy. I'll do so, with the assumption that you can provide some similar list for a AR-15 with a 30 round magazine.

-Benefits of diesel include
-Powering almost all rail and truck traffic in the US, and thus much of our economy
-Better mileage than similar powered gas engines, limiting carbon emissions
-Diesel engines run at lower RPMs, and thus last longer, saving money in long run

Ok. Your turn. What does a 30-round AR-15 do that is so vital to our economy or way of life? If you tell me protection, please provide a citation where someone needed more than 6 bullets to protect themselves.

Nothing

Nothing.

What would banning 30 round magazines and AR-15 rifles accomplish that is so vital to our economy? Nothing. I am so glad we had this talk.

What is the value proposition? If we are going to seize a person's property, ban a company's product, there must be a return to compensate those losses. Pretending to address a problem is counterproductive; it moves us farther from a solution.

The point of my argument is to move focus away from the weapon of choice. With nearly no civilian gun ownership, Japan achieves a suicide rate nearly twice that of the U.S. How do they do it? One popular method involves producing a gas from common household liquids. Banning those would not address the root cause of suicide, and until you address the root cause of any problem, you have not addressed the problem at all.

Why the popular obsession with magazine size? What part of a second does it take to drop and replace a magazine? Do you propose to limit a person's ownership of 6-round magazines to five? Is the point to prevent massacres or to maintain a constant rate of massacres, each with a lower body count. That is where the magazine argument goes.

Some kids who are now dead

Some kids who are now dead might have wanted a chance to run in that second where the magazine was being exchanged. Some adult may have been able to jump in at that moment. You think that is not worth doing something about, I disagree. Especially since there is no competing benefit to make a good case as to why a ban shouldn't happen (like there is for all the other things you cite)

Your goal of getting at the root cause of why people kill others is fine-- but things can and should move in parallel. Also, historically the strongest backers of gun control are the same ones slashing funds for healthcare, including treatment for mental illness.

As to why the obsession on magazine size: I guess that's something lost on you. But perhaps try this thought experiment-- you are in a movie theater, a mall, or your workplace, and someone walks in with a gun. Do you honestly not think you might have a better chance at survival if he is carrying a gun where he needs to reload every 6 shots, vs. every 60? Sure it takes a second to place a new magazine. In that second, someone can act. others can get out the door. The magazine can be dropped. And if it "only" results in massacres with smaller body counts, I'll take that as a small step towards progress. And the parents of the kids who survive probably will too.

If 6 is good, is 5 not better?

Six seems a bit arbitrary; if 6 is a solution, would a limit of 5 not be better?. Perhaps it should be 4, or ban magazines altogether. Is that the end game?

It is merely an arbitrary restriction masquerading as a solution. The Newtown killer stole a number of handguns, which are light and easily concealed. He could have brought in a backpack full of stolen hand guns to eliminate the need to ever change a magazine.

"there is no competing benefit to make a good case as to why a ban shouldn't happen"

What is the benefit of repeating something that has been tried and shown ineffective?

Who Gets to Decide What You Don't Need?

It seems our cousins in the UK are way out ahead of us; they banned and confiscated handguns in 1997. As reported in this BBC article, within a few years of the gun grab, they became gravely concerned with the included angle on the tips of kitchen knives.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4581871.stm

“A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings. They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon. The research is published in the British Medical Journal. The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all. They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen. None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.”

I find it curious that these 10 top chefs live on an island, but have never fileted a large fish.

I find the parallels to our concerns here in the states regarding gun features and magazine capacities to be remarkable.

“No legitimate purpose.” Whether protecting your home or gutting a fish, should the government be the arbiter of what you need, and more importantly, what you don’t need?

Good article

and well written. I can't speak to the facts or the research but the author certainly feels passionate about his subject and expresses himself well.

But having gone a few rounds with the author in posts on related Second Amendment articles on MinnPost, it seems that this also creates a blind spot and an inability to see the fallacies in his own arguments and the validity of other perspectives and opinions.

I was going to commend him for writing an entire article on guns without mentioning the Second Amendment but it actually does appear:

"The executive actions and gun-ban talk have motivated many Americans to get out of their easy chairs to do something; buy a gun and/or join the NRA. The NRA reports 250,000 new members in the four weeks following the Newtown tragedy. People who never before needed the NRA are learning that the representation they sent to Washington is being sidelined by an emboldened president — leaving them without a voice, while sensing a challenge to their constitutional rights."

There is the fallacy and the blind spot in one paragraph. The author's point-that millions of Americans fled to gun shops and shows to buy guns in a panic mode-occurred because of the near hysterical false propaganda of the NRA and, frankly, defenders like Mr. Rose, who view any reasonable regulation of weapons, including so-called "semiautomatic assault weapons" to be equivalent to a "ban on guns" or "confiscation of our guns" or a "challenge to their constitutional rights."

I share the feelings of the commenter who wishes we could have a civil dialogue about the real root causes of violence and senseless killing in our society. The truth is that the root causes are complex and many and cannot be separated from a dialogue about the place of guns and their availability. When one side persistently put itself above and outside the debate because of some misguided belief about their "constitutional rights", then the discussion or dialogue about the problems, as well as their solution, will have to be without them.

Constitutional Rights

Thanks for your insights and commentary. I am happy to engage with others in this important conversation.

The primary challenge to "Constitution rights" to which I referred is the executive branch grabbing power from the legislative branch, denying the voices of the Senators and Representatives chosen by the people to write the laws of this nation. 23 executive orders (or actions) handed down by the White House seems a bit heavy handed. The urgency of the actions communicates a state-of-emergency, and has the effect of stifling the national conversation.

Wow!

Jeremiah 5:21: “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not…”

Congratulations!

A word search has determined that you have found the the very first 2nd Amendment argument that contains not a single instance of the following terms, "2nd", "two", "second", "amendment".

And peace to you

your family and friends. . .

Good article

Here in the US we kill kids at an amazing rate everyday. Out of the 50000 thousand people killed every year by doctors mistakes over 10000 are children. Car accidents kill kids at the rate of 6 a day with another 156 injured. Even school crossings are killers, with 190 kids killed at school crossings last year, and that's not to mention trikes, bikes, swimming pools, sports, you name it. Granted many of these are accidents, but a lot are preventable and many are violations of the law. Guns seem to bring about the biggest reaction, but are from from the biggest killer of kids.

Bad comment

So Kenneth, if we take doctors out of the equation, will we have more or fewer deaths?

Go back and read the comments, and leave the strawmen at home.