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Regulating guns like cars: Perspective on the gun debate after Sandy Hook

Extending waiting periods and criminal background checks for private gun sales is a reform that is long overdue.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in mid-December prompted national soul-searching about what can be done to stop these mass shootings. Some have called for security changes in schools; some have called for a reduction in the violence in movies and video games; some have called for strengthening our mental-health system; and some have called for gun laws with teeth. Not surprisingly, the NRA has called for more guns in schools.

Most of these ideas could have an impact:

  • I was an author of a Minnesota law requiring lock-down drills to improve security in schools.
  • Although it is not something government can do, I believe it is important that each of us as individuals, as parents, or as peers, challenge the idea that watching violence, or “virtually” practicing the killing of others, is “entertainment.”
  • And we would see huge reductions in violent crime if we ensured that all people, including those most troubled by mental illness or chemical dependency, receive the care they need when they need it. To make this happen, we need more than rhetoric: We need to pass the proposed Minnesota Health Plan or an alternative that truly delivers comprehensive care for everyone.

Address gun laws

But in addition to these reforms, it is also time to take a comprehensive look at our gun laws. Practically anyone can purchase an arsenal of weaponry powerful enough to gun down dozens of victims in minutes. Even people who have committed violent acts and even those with serious mental illness are able to purchase assault weapons and large capacity ammunition clips.

The NRA’s allies argue that if Adam Lanza, the gunman in Newtown, knew that teachers and other adults were carrying guns in the school, he would have been scared away from entering the school and murdering children. But Mr. Lanza wasn’t afraid of getting killed; he apparently intended to die in his shooting rampage and he committed suicide.

Sen. John Marty
Sen. John Marty

The idea that numerous armed teachers in every school might reduce the carnage as they engage in gun battles with intruders is preposterous. More loaded guns in classrooms would result in accidental shootings, and perhaps even intentional ones, when an angry student uses a gun found in a teacher’s purse or desk drawer.

The NRA’s call for the federal government to spend several billion dollars a year to pay for one or more armed police officers at every school in the country would be one of the most expensive, ill-conceived solutions possible. The gunmen at Columbine or Sandy Hook or other schools often orchestrate their attacks carefully and could easily plan to kill at times or places in the school where the officer is not around. Besides, most of these killers have far greater firepower than the school police officers would have.

A conversation has begun

It is a hopeful sign that we are seeing the beginning of a national conversation about our gun laws. The gun lobby has so much political clout that few politicians have challenged it, and discussion of gun laws has been cut short. When Minnesota passed the concealed carry law several years ago, the pro-gun lobby defeated an amendment that would have denied gun permits to applicants who have a restraining order against them. In effect, the gun lobby persuaded legislators that even if an abuse victim obtains an order for protection, that’s not enough reason to deny the abuser the right to carry a gun!

Reinstating the federal assault weapons ban would be a step forward. But for a more comprehensive look at how we should regulate guns, let’s consider how we regulate cars. There are lawful uses for both guns and cars, but both are deadly when misused.

With cars, we require the operator to be trained and licensed. We register the vehicle, and re-register it when it is transferred to a new owner.

But for guns, there is no licensing, no training requirement, and no registration. This enables criminals to obtain guns from a private citizen with no background check, no waiting period — no means of enforcement at all.

We don’t have a gun-registration system because the gun lobby has used fear tactics to fight even modest regulation. They say, “First they’ll register your guns, then the next thing they’ll do is take ’em away.” Sure. Just like they did with cars …

Actually, the government does take away cars, but only from people using them illegally. In Minnesota, the courts can seize the cars of drug dealers and repeat DWI offenders. It is not a radical thought to question whether we should do the same for criminals with guns. What part of well-regulated militia don’t they understand?

Reasonable, overdue changes

Here are some reasonable changes that are long overdue:

  • Licensing gun owners and registering firearms.
  • Extending waiting periods and criminal background checks for private gun sales.
  • Putting a lifetime ban on gun ownership for people convicted of violent crimes.
  • Reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons and large ammunition clips.

These modest proposals do not punish responsible gun owners any more than vehicle registration punishes responsible car owners. But these proposals will help stop the arms race on our streets where deranged killers and gang members are more heavily armed than the police.

Despite public support for gun control, the gun lobby continues to fight common-sense reforms. It is well-organized and intimidating. Lawmakers raising this issue are accustomed to nasty phone calls. The NRA works to discredit these proposals, and those who offer them. I am a moderate on gun control, yet I have received “F-” ratings on the NRA report card, because I seek responsible gun laws.

Perhaps because most of the victims were young children, there has been a perceptible shift in momentum on the issue since the Sandy Hook school shootings. Now is the time for public officials to stand up to the NRA, and have a rational discussion over public safety and responsible gun laws.

John Marty, DFL-Roseville, is a state senator. He first published this article in his newsletter, “To the Point!” which is published by the Apple Pie Alliance


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Comments (105)

  1. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/03/2013 - 09:01 am.

    A tyrannical government; that could never happen again, right?

    The Weimar Republic passed a Firearm Law in 1928 requiring detailed police records of gun ownership; Hitler signed a stricter gun control law in 1938. When the Nazis showed up uninvited in Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939, police records of gun ownership were confiscated and used to disarm the populace. Top of the list: Jews. The most remarkable thing about history is that nearly nothing is learned from it! There are still survivors of these gun confiscations that can offer firsthand accounts, but many did not survive the day or the days that followed. Consideration of recent history is not a fear tactic, even though that history is scary.

    What was the most dangerous weapon brought to school by Harris and Klebold the day of the Columbine killings? Concealed in a gym bag, each of them brought a 20-pound propane bomb, and planted them in the school cafeteria. After these propane canisters failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold took up guns and attacked their schoolmates. Who among us would not have to leave their block nor spend more than 15 minutes to collect 100 pounds of propane from neighbors’ backyard BBQ grills.

    While Columbine was the deadliest attack ever perpetrated at an U.S. high school, it was not the deadliest attack on a U.S. school. That occurred in 1927 and involved the successful detonation of explosives. On May 18, 1927 in Bath Township Michigan, Andrew Kehoe killed 38 elementary school children and six adults, and injured at least 58 others. Prior to that, he killed his wife with a blunt object and destroyed his homestead with fire and explosives.

    It will be legislators, like John Marty, who display little knowledge of guns and rifles, who will write new gun laws. A clip is a device used to load magazines; magazines can be loaded without clips. So go ahead and ban “large capacity ammunition clips”.

    • Submitted by Nick Magrino on 01/03/2013 - 10:21 am.

      Godwin’s Law

      We copied the Autobahns from the Nazis, and our car culture has taken hundreds of thousands of American lives since World War II. So if anything, we already got our absurd Nazi comparison out of the way. Tens of other Western nations have enforced strict gun laws without ending up at Auschwitz, I think we’ll figure it out…

      • Submitted by Robert Owen on 01/03/2013 - 11:43 am.

        Clearly we need to get rid of Interstate highways. Or operate vehicles with low capacity drive-trains. As for drunk drivers – taking away everyone’s cars would solve that problem. Well, except for government employees and well connected people – they need to keep their cars.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/03/2013 - 11:55 am.


        Godwin’s Law applies only applies to inappropriate use of Nazi analogies. Taken to a ridiculous extreme, there would be no rational Nazi analogies, which supports my previous point that the only thing that we learn from history – we learn nothing from history.

        It’s not about Auschwitz; Jews were at the top of the list, but the registration lists were populated with the names of thousands of others. Many that could not produce the guns on the registration lists were executed. That was a Western nation and that occurred in recent history.

        • Submitted by Adam Miller on 01/03/2013 - 02:37 pm.

          So your theory is

          That a better armed populace would have succeeded where the Polish and Czech armies, and their allies, could not? That’s pretty blatantly specious. Perhaps sufficiently so as to bring Godwin’s law bank into play.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/03/2013 - 03:30 pm.

            Citizen or Subject?

            A free man can decide when to fight and when to surrender. When a free man is disarmed, a citizen becomes a subject. Accept that if you will; I will not.

            P.S.: John Marty, what part of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed” do you not understand?

            • Submitted by Channing Florence on 01/03/2013 - 06:19 pm.


              EIther you are willfully ignoring what actually happened during the Nazi invasions of Poland and Czechoslovakia, or you have no idea what actually happened. The armies of the invaded countries were underarmed compared to the invaders, and were expecting a repeat of WWI in terms of stratagy, which as we all know, did not happen. To suggest that completely unregistered gun ownership would have somehow deterred the Nazis is not only ridiculous, but insulting to those who had to endure that war and fight to end it.

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/04/2013 - 11:14 am.

                Disarm yourself

                Because citizens had no chance to defeat the Nazis Army, they don’t need guns? Perhaps, citizens should be allowed to protect their families, allowed to escape, allowed to hide, allowed to cross a border, allowed to …

                A gun or rifle and ammunition would have aided any of these options of a free man, a man not disarmed by invaders, a man not set-up by his own government, through a registration scheme, to be herded like cattle.

                You are free to disarm yourself.

                • Submitted by Channing Florence on 01/04/2013 - 07:07 pm.


                  I didn’t say they don’t have a need or right to own guns, I said having no registration at all for gun owners wouldn’t have stopped a Nazi invasion and it’s ridiculous to suggest such otherwise. No individual citizens were hanging around to fight an army alone, that’s just silly. Groups of partisans fought for years, but this was with arms from airdrops and other military means, not weapons readily availible for purchase without any identification or explanation in 1939.

                  You are free to compare 1939 Poland getting invavded by Nazi Germany to the present day United States, if you like. But you are not being intellectually or historically honest by doing so, it’s such a outrageous comparison. Nobody is being killed over gun rights, there is no foreign army at the border, and there is most certainly no institutional genocide happening.

                  • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/05/2013 - 09:08 am.

                    Air Drops?

                    I am left to hope for an air drop from a foreign government? Yeah, that could happen, but should I count on it?

                    “Nobody is being killed over gun rights, there is no foreign army at the border, and there is most certainly no institutional genocide happening.”

                    You are correct. Is it prudent to wait for all that to occur before we consider basic preparation? None of your list above was the case when citizens’ arms were registered in Poland or Czechoslovakia.

                  • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/06/2013 - 11:08 pm.


                    Channing Florenz wrote:

                    “No individual citizens were hanging around to fight an army alone, that’s just silly.”

                    See “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” for details. Lacking proper arms, Jews held off Nazi regulars for a month. Imagine if they had a few thousand Mausers, Berthiers or Mosins.

                    There are other examples that will easily refute your assertion.

                    • Submitted by Channing Florence on 01/07/2013 - 04:47 pm.

                      Read Closer

                      I said “individual citizens” which you even quoted, but have somehow ignored. The Warsaw Uprising wasn’t conducted a ragtag bunch of citizens who just happened to have heavy arms laying around for the day their own government knocked on doors and demanded their arms, and it wasn’t citizens fighting their own government, so it’s a terrible analogy. We are not under threat of foreign of invasion by fascists so it doesn’t work for that either. You might as well make the argument that during the London Blitz that nightly blackouts infringed upon the individual’s right to leave lights on and shades up if they pleased, even if it put everyone else in danger.

                      Besides, what’s that got to do with the United States today? Nothing at all. So ridiculous.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/08/2013 - 11:04 am.

                      So ridiculous?

                      So ridiculous is establishing policy based on “the United States today”, assuming nothing will ever change, the government can always be trusted, and world history is irrelevant. Good luck with all that.

                    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/08/2013 - 12:22 pm.

                      Or, in other words . . . . .

                      “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/08/2013 - 03:00 pm.


                      The sky is supported by the 2nd Amendment and numerous court rulings over the past 200 years. The Chicken Little crowd is claiming that the sky is falling. However, it is not.

                    • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/10/2013 - 06:31 am.

                      Read even closer

                      “The Warsaw Uprising wasn’t conducted [by] a ragtag bunch of citizens who just happened to have heavy arms laying around for the day their own government knocked on doors and demanded their arms.”

                      You missed the point about Jewish civilians holding off Nazi regulars for a month.


          • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/03/2013 - 06:38 pm.

            It quite clear

            you have never read any of the Federalist Papers.

    • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 01/03/2013 - 03:01 pm.

      Columbine had armed security. However, to save money they assigned him other duties and he was out of the building performing other duties at the time that did not have anything to do with security.

      • Submitted by Adam Miller on 01/03/2013 - 03:33 pm.

        I read recently

        That he was in the parking lot having lunch.

        But regardless, it demonstrates the difficulty of responding to an attack of that sort with armed personnel. Unless the security guard (or police officer) happens to be in the same room when the shooting starts, there is going to be very little they can do to challenge heavily-armed attackers. According to the account I read, the Columbine security officer could only help escort escaping children and staff to safety.

        And then there is the fact that the profile for this type of attack usually involve significant planning. If there is one armed guard in the school, what’s to stop the attacker from making that guard the first victim?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/04/2013 - 03:41 pm.

          I read recently

          That he was monitoring students outside (still on duty) while eating lunch. Escorting students to safety was the rational thing to do, given that there wasn’t time to sort out how many shooters there were, where they were coming from, etc.

          You make some good points. If the armed guard is obvious, to be a deterrent, he or she will probably be the first target. Furthermore, as you note, the guard has to be where the shooting starts in order to be effective. Guards are human (sorry to all who want to make policy based on Terminator movies), and will need to eat, use the bathroom, call in sick, etc. One guard isn’t going to be enough–maybe three? My son’s high school is three floors of labryinthine corridors, and covers an entire city block–how many guards would they need?

    • Submitted by Richard Schulze on 01/03/2013 - 08:48 pm.

      The gun control argument has to be the most fertile ground for fallacy in our political discourse today. A few of the best:

      1) When in doubt, compare policy to the Nazis and Stalin, because if they did anything, it’s definitely evil. Oh, except that nearly every other Western country controls firearm ownership more tightly than the US, with absurdly lower levels of firearm deaths.

      2) The appeal to the authority of the U.S. Constitution is ridiculous. It ignores the historical context in which the document was written, and the fact that we’ve amended it 27 times. We’ve even repealed an amendment (see: 21st amendment). James Madison was a genius, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t foresee assault weapons.

      3) The slippery slope to living under a fascist regime is probably the dumbest argument out there. Anyone who thinks that a citizenry armed with M4s could (and should) topple the government is delusional and probably should not be declared sane enough to own a weapon.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/04/2013 - 07:25 am.

        Good point, #3

        Anyone that they don’t want to own a firearm the government could declare insane. The M4 could be used as a Litmus test; if you own one or want to own one, you are insane, and therefore not allowed to keep one.

        What kind of country could come out of a bunch of malcontents, and a small minority of the total populace, rising up against a tyrannical government? The U.S.A.

        • Submitted by Richard Schulze on 01/04/2013 - 08:50 pm.

          As for the opinion that only an armed citizenry can prevent tyranny, I wonder if that isn’t a form of narcissism, involving the belief that lone, heroic individuals will have the ability to identify tyranny as it descends, recognize it for what it is, and fight back. There is also the small matter that I don’t think America is remotely close to becoming a tyranny, and to suggest that it is is both irrational and a bit offensive to people who actually do live under tyrannical rule.

          I would also say, to stick my neck out a bit further, that I find many of the arguments advanced for private gun ownership in a bit unconvincing, and tinged with a blend of excessive self-confidence and faulty risk perception.

          I am willing to believe that some householders, in some cases, have defended their families from attack because they have been armed. But I also imagine that lots of ordinary adults, if woken in the night by an armed intruder, lack the skill to wake, find their weapon, keep hold of their weapon, use it correctly and avoid shooting the wrong person. And my hunch is that the model found in places like Japan or Britain—no guns in homes at all, or almost none—is on balance safer.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/05/2013 - 09:17 am.

            Our Founding Fathers Narcissists?

            Perhaps so. They had a grandiose plan, and they took on a world super power. When it was done, they forged a government that protected the rights of the people, including the right of self defense.

            Now we live in a land where I can decide how to protect my home and you can decide how to protect your home. And, you are free to disrespect they way I protect my home. All guaranteed by the first two items of the Bill of Rights. What a great country.

  2. Submitted by Carole Heffernan on 01/03/2013 - 11:52 am.

    Cars and Guns why not the same

    I would propose a change in how the current system works. A law with some restrictions and that reverses the order of the current system for carrying and makes it the same for owning a gun.
    No Assault Weapons and/or high capacity magazines. That is simple and even most gun owners agree it makes sense. We had it before and it worked.
    Pass a law that says no guns, no ammunition, and/or reloading supplies can be purchased without a license. Severe penalties would apply for either buying or selling without a license. The license is renewable. No online sales allowed unless you can somehow verify the license and/or insurance exist. Certain weapons would require liability insurance.
    No requirements on current owners until they do one of the above.
    To get a license you have to take safety classes and pass a background check and if you don’t get a license you don’t get a weapon.
    Does this solve the entire problem, no. However it puts things in the correct order. You need a permit to carry but apply after you already bought the gun change the order things happen in.
    This is similar to the way they do it in Canada and they don’t have nearly the gun violence we have so it seems to work. They also watch the same movies and play the same games.

  3. Submitted by Rich Crose on 01/03/2013 - 01:13 pm.

    Why wait for the government?

    PTA’s should hold bake sales, cookie sales and sell pull tabs to buy up stock in gun companies until they sit on the boards of directors. There they can turn the swords into plow shares. You have the right to bear arms but mothers have the right to take the profit out of the arms industry.

  4. Submitted by Adam Miller on 01/03/2013 - 02:34 pm.

    Those are a good start

    But let’s add one other: require gun owners to purchase liability insurance.

    We do it for cars, because even careful operation of cars can lead to damaging accidents. Insurance helps both to compensate victims and use market forces to encourage safe practices.

    It can do the same for guns. If gun advocates are right and there is nothing inherently dangerous about owning the civil equivalent of an M-16, then fine, your liability insurance will be dirt cheap and you have nothing to worry about. If it’s expensive, well, that’s shifting the costs of risks that are currently born by the public onto you, the one creating them.

    Moreover insurance companies may be able to impose common sense safety requirements as a condition of insurance (things like purchasing a trigger lock and safe storage practices) that are more difficult to impose via statute.

    Let’s put market forces to work to help us make our guns safer.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/03/2013 - 03:52 pm.

      That worked with the medical industry…

      didn’t it?

      I’m inclined to generally disagree with Sen. Marty and generally agree with Mr. Kjer and Mr. Owen. I’m somewhat inclined to agree with Mr. Rose, though not entirely. There is so little common sense in the “conversation” covered by the media, it’s disgusting. I’ve seen only a few sensible remarks from either side, and many of them here. But sensible doesn’t make money and so you won’t see it anywhere outside of comments on fora, blogs, and places news sites.

  5. Submitted by Robert Owen on 01/03/2013 - 02:35 pm.


    I don’t understand some politicians and activist interest in registering and licensing guns. What does that accomplish? Bad people can still do bad things with registered firearms.

    I’m starting to think some NRA types are right when they say registering is just the first step in eventually confiscation. Confiscation of the registered guns, that is.

    More people are murdered by blunt objects that rifles in this country (FBI Crime Statistics). Many people have been harmed by someone texting while driving. We don’t register hammers or cell phones.

  6. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 01/03/2013 - 03:22 pm.

    he Flaws in Marty’s arguments

    “With cars, we require the operator to be trained and licensed. We register the vehicle, and re-register it when it is transferred to a new owner.” In the US an average of 6 kids are killed everyday and another 156 are injured. Car accidents are the main causes of deaths in the US for kids age 6-14. Tell what good does the licensing do? “This enables criminals to obtain guns from a private citizen with no background check, no waiting period — no means of enforcement at all.” So tell me now that it is against the law, how no one can buy drugs.
    “Reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons and large ammunition clips.” The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired on September 13, 2004, codified the definition of an assault weapon. It defined the rifle type of assault weapon as a semiautomatic firearm with the ability to accept a detachable magazine and two or more of the following:
    1. a folding or telescoping stock
    2. a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
    3. a bayonet mount
    4. a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor
    5. a grenade launcher
    So if we put this law back in effect, someone would be able to use a Chinese SKS? None of the 5 or a clip.. Or a 50 Caliber semi auto rifle that is belt fed? I can name another 15 or 20 weapons that don’t use a detachable clip have a bayonet mount, or a flash suppressor.
    When I retired from law enforcement there were many schools with armed officers, however budget cuts by politicians like Marty have reduced the ratio of police officers to civilians by 30%. Although many departments have added officers the numbers have not kept up with population increases.
    Here are few more items that indicate to me the Marty is having a typical knee jerk reaction. Out of the over 50,000 deaths in US last year from doctor’s mistakes, over 10,000 of them were children. 190 kids were killed last year in the US using the school cross walk.
    As far as I can see, we kill kids in this country in every way imaginable, everyday, by the hundreds and the only time it makes the papers is if someone uses a gun.

    • Submitted by Jeff Kline on 01/03/2013 - 04:57 pm.

      Speak the truth.

      Got to speak the truth man; as much as it may hurt them, speak it anyway. This is not about guns. It’s about “Control”. It’s about a government looking to control it’s people. It was for this reason that the 2nd amendment was conceived.

      A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

      Any moron with a common understanding of English can understand this. Liberals however claim “it is outmoded and outdated”….

  7. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 01/03/2013 - 04:13 pm.

    John Marty’s reasonable suggestions

    are what is needed at this time. What is not needed is more of the far-reaching, unrelated, last-gasp rebuttals such as of some of the respondents to this op ed.
    I have only seen a couple of suggested improvements on the present gun dilemma by 2nd Amendment advocates. I’m sure there are more of those people out there, but I am also quite sure that they prefer to remain quiet rather than be chastised by those who do not have the ability to see what is going on in this Country and who exhibit a ‘could care less’ attitude.

  8. Submitted by richard owens on 01/03/2013 - 04:18 pm.

    Even if Mr. Marty isn’t an expert on products used to kill:

    Every single firearm owner, beginning with gun manufacturers, needs to be licensed and insured for liability.

    Allow the insurance industry and their actuaries to determine the risk and premiums for gun ownership.

    Like vehicle liability insurance, premiums will certainly assess the relative risk posed by individuals.

    Even Grover Norquist does not like taxpayers being forced to pay for carnage done by shooters.

    Just one of these events can result in millions of dollars of costs including emergency hospital treatment, long term disabilities, loss of livelihood, and burial costs- just to name the direct costs.

    We citizens have the right to resist these costs being placed on taxpayers unless and until the gun industry protects innocents from the resulting costs of the use of their products.

    The only way to expect any accountability from the merchants of deadly instruments is through their pocketbook.

    Right now, they pass all those costs on to the innocent taxpayer, while they enjoy more liability protection than the very emergency room doctor who treats the gun victims.

    There is no logical argument against such reasonable and necessary measures.

    Risk management is the business of actuaries, certainly not the gun industry. The gun industry profits by the horrors we have just seen in Sandy Hook elementary.

    Who will pay for a new school?

    How will these victims find justice?

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/04/2013 - 09:09 am.


      This is a wee bit ridiculous. Yes, it is expensive when stuff like Sandy Hook happens. It’s awful and tragic. Let’s make hay on it! It’s also expensive and tragic every time someone dies from some other mode of killing. More children died last year, by FAR, due to neglect and abuse than by firearm. Yet, you’re not advocating a web of red tape for becoming a child care giver.

      It’s interesting to note that many other countries have fewer firearm-related deaths, yet they still manage to find ways to die. Of the first-world countries out there, the following find ways to die more frequently than Americans: Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, France, Spain, Norway, and probably others. There are a few that manage to have a lower death rate, but the list also includes second- and third-world countries (some of them with few laws at all, let alone gun laws).

      There are lots of things we should be worried about, including keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, minors, and the dangerously mentally ill. But one tragic incident shouldn’t make us focus on only one–and with extremes, at that. For example, we have an infant mortality rate nearly double that of many other first-world countries. And, although Japan, Finland, and Sweden, France and New Zealand manage to have a higher rate, we have a fairly high rate of suicide, as well. (It is interesting to note that some countries have both an extremely low murder and gun-related death rate, yet have an extremely high rate of suicide. See, e.g., Japan.)

  9. Submitted by Jeff Kline on 01/03/2013 - 04:36 pm.

    I love this debate going on here in MN

    I really love this debate going on largely across much of the northern states but not so much in the south. Why do you suppose that is?

    As many have noticed, it’s amazing how the liberals are just up in arms about how all these guns kill… and the rest of us know it isn’t the guns… it’s the people. We also KNOW that we have a borderline tyrannical government in power right now; or so they think they’re in power. Mrs Feinstein thinks that she has a complete lock on her legislation to put through and work on banning almost everyone’s firearms. The liberal seem to never change.

    New school? What new school? Why is a new school needed? Victims?? Based on the traceable history of the players in these most recent shootings, a lot of this has roots back to our very own government. Do you people think we; the American public are stupid??? Apparently the democrats do.

    Why is it that schools in states where the faculty are allowed to “pack” have no issues. ALL OF THESE SHOOTINGS happen in GUN FREE ZONES.
    The one thing that has become clear to me is because the liberal democrats refuse to acknowledge that these “shooters” look for easy targets; which particularly are these gun free zones where no one carries; and they are easy targets, blows away any and all rational credibility to their liberal thinking and talking points.

    I’m thinking; the moment Obama goes on national TV and demands everyone turn in their guns, will be the beginning of the next American revolution. You may not like it, but that’s the way it may go. Did you think the real American people would simply roll over like that?

    And the last thing people. The 2nd amendment is not about hunting. It’s not about protecting your home from burglars. IT’S ABOUT PROTECTING THE PEOPLE FROM AN OVERPOWERING; TYRANNICAL; AND DICTATORIAL GOVERNMENT. That is why it was put there. If you take that out, then you are telling the people that we no longer can defend ourselves from our government and that they can “dictate”. Sorry; Not going to happen. Get over it.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/04/2013 - 09:13 am.

      Get over it

      Get over the “liberal” angle. I’m liberal and against the knee-jerk reaction this topic is getting. But I’m not going to jump on the “gun nut” wagon and start voting red.

      And for what it’s worth, I think politicians on BOTH SIDES actually DO think the American public is stupid. Not that we do much to suggest otherwise.

      You are spot on with one thing, though…the suggestion that there needs to be a new school is ridiculous.

    • Submitted by Adam Miller on 01/07/2013 - 01:44 pm.


      Every school zone in America is a “gun free school zone” under federal law:

      Also the most famous school shooting, Columbine, was in Colorado. Not a bastion of a gun free lifestyle, to say the least.

      Here’s a list of recent school shootings: Recent school shootings on that list happened in Utah, Georgia, Oklahoma and Indiana. None of those are bastions of liberalism.

  10. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/03/2013 - 05:35 pm.


    “The only way to expect any accountability from the merchants of deadly instruments is through their pocketbook.”

    Is this required of the automotive industry? Looking at automotive related fatalities for the past ten years of available data (2002-2011), I see that the death rate in the U.S. is greater than 100 per day. Why no calls for accountability of the automotive industry? And, I don’t mean just the billions of dollars, I mean accountability for the deaths.

    Start by attacking the automotive industry, as it is clearly designs, manufactures, and sells the most dangerous products. Once success is shown, use the template for the gun industry.

    Do we really need manufacturing jobs in the U.S.?

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/04/2013 - 03:02 pm.

      Start by attacking the automotive industry?

      The automotive industry has been subject to regulation for decades, Ever heard of the Consumer Products Safety Act? Plus, auto manufacturers have been the target of numberless tort/products liability lawsuits that have forced the industry to adopt the safety features we know today. These safety features have dramatically reduced auto related deaths at least resulting from safety defects. I’d call that accountability. The law does not entirely blame auto manufacturers for death and injury resulting from the purely human negligence but it has been forced to bear its share of fault and liability.

      The gun industry is the only manufacturer of inherently dangerous products that gets special treatment from legislators that avoids accountability and responsibility for distributing millions of deasly products to the public. There was an effort a few years ago which had some success in suing gun manufacturers and sellers for the deaths and injuries resulting from the use of their products. The gun industry’s response has been to get laws passed that give special immunity from liability to manufacturers and sellers. Some accountability.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/04/2013 - 04:48 pm.

        Is the product fit for purpose?

        “The law does not entirely blame auto manufacturers for death and injury resulting from the purely human negligence but it has been forced to bear its share of fault and liability.”

        Auto makers are not blamed at all for issues of pure human negligence. They are sued when their products malfunction. So should it be for all manufacturers, including makers of guns.

        All the costs for safety improvements made by automakers are passed onto consumers; we all pay for it. Earlier this year, AAA has released its 62nd annual “Your Driving Costs” study, which shows a 2% year-over-year increase in the cost of auto ownership. That’s an average of $8,946 per year per car, with costs including monthly payment, fuel, maintenance and insurance. That higher payment provides for features like air bags and curtains, ride stabilization, and ABS brakes, so we can drive poorly without increase the highway death rate. Over the past ten years, the average daily highway death rate is greater than 100.

        CPSC’s jurisdiction does not extend to those products that expressly lie in another federal agency’s jurisdiction (BATF).

        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/04/2013 - 11:29 pm.

          Just my point

          “Auto makers are not blamed at all for issues of pure human negligence. They are sued when their products malfunction. So should it be for all manufacturers, including makers of guns.”

          The question is: when, and at what point, is a manufacturer or dealer liable or responsible for the misuse of the product? I say a jury ought to be allowed to answer that question. A gun manufacturer or dealer ought not to be able to “opt out” of facing claims for liability just because they did not pull the trigger as it were. Just as with auto liability. Auto manufacturers and dealers have not been able to “opt out” of lawsuits or liability just because they were not actually driving the vehicle at the time of death or injury. Gun manufacturers and dealers have been able to do so. What’s the justification for that? Why should they be singled out for special treatment?

          What is your point in arguing that the costs of auto safety are passed on to consumers in terms of higher costs? Because that’s my point. If gun manufacturers were forced to pass the cost of their products on to their consumers, gun manufacturers and dealers would be forced to raise their prices, if not change their pricing policies, into making their products out of the reach of many consumers. Maybe they would also be in favor of laws that would more carefully limit the access of people with dangerous propensities to guns. That’s a good thing in terms of economics: forcing the users of these dangerous products to bear the costs of their “externalities” in economic terms, i.e. the costs of the massacres of innocent people we as a society are otherwise forced to bear.

          The limited jurisdiction of the CPSC is purely a political result of the gun lobby in preventing its jurisdiction in reaching the most lethal and dangerous of consumer products: guns. Do you remember what brought Ralph Nader to fame? “Unsafe at any speed” which was about the Chevy Corvair which was found eventually to be an unsafe product.

          You also make a good point: guns, their manufacture,importation and sale are regulated at the federal level. Manufacturers, importers and dealers of guns are required to be licensed and are subject to a number of complex laws and regulations. But let us at least be honest: the laws and regulations which do exist are totally incompetent to achieve any result in protecting the public from the dangers which are actually identified in the laws. You and your gun rights friends undoubtedly argue that no regulation or law can prevent crime. You could say that about the death penalty in terms of preventing mass murders and I would agree with that. But that’s not any rational or valid argument in favor of repealing the criminal code because putting people in prison doesn’t achieve that effect either.

          Strictly regulating the manufacture, importation, sale and possession of guns does not mean totally banning them. It does mean making the manufacturers, importers, dealers, and yes, the owners, accountable for their existence in our society.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/05/2013 - 09:02 am.

            Product Liability

            I will be succinct.

            Earlier this year, Timothy Bakdash was found guilty of two counts each of attempted second-degree murder, assault in the second degree and criminal vehicular operation in connection with the injury of 2 women. Bakdash killed Steve Van Handel on a Dinkytown sidewalk in April 2011, using his automobile as the deadly weapon.

            Because the automobile in no way malfunctioned, neither criminal nor civil charges against the automaker are pending.

            • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/06/2013 - 11:11 am.


              Your point being?

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/06/2013 - 01:05 pm.

                Your point is invalid

                Your point: “The gun industry is the only manufacturer of inherently dangerous products that gets special treatment from legislators that avoids accountability and responsibility for distributing millions of deasly [sic] products to the public.”

                If the auto industry is free of responsibility for someone using their product to kill a person, how can you hope to hold makers of other products to a higher standard? Because you don’t like that product, is not a valid answer.

                P.S.: The courts have decided with my point.

                • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/06/2013 - 10:55 pm.

                  Free of responsibility?

                  You cite a single example of homicide by use of a vehicle where the auto manufacturer is not the defendant. And that’s supposed to prove that the courts side with your point that the auto industry is “free of responsibility” for all deaths in which a vehicle is involved?

                  • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2013 - 07:12 am.

                    My point …

                    … is that manufacturers can be held accountable when their product malfunctions and that malfunction results in harm. Lawsuits have been brought against gun manufacturers when someone has been harmed, but not by malfunction of the product. I used the Dinkytown incident to show that it is not so with manufacturers of other products, like cars.

                    What is the difference? We like cars but we don’t like guns; cars are good, guns are bad!

                    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/07/2013 - 10:38 pm.

                      That’s about right.

                      Cars are for our society what I would call a “necessary evil.” I would personally rather not own a car and I know of many who feel the same way. Cars are a necessity in our culture. So it’s not quite right to simply say, “care-good, guns-bad.” Both are bad I’d say but the difference is that, as a society, we’ve “socialized” the evil, but necessary costs of owning and operating an automobile through a system of laws and contracts to spread the costs of owning and operating motor vehicles widely among owners, manufacturers, dealers, insurance companies, government and other actors. Auto manufacturers have been forced to use their profits to mitigate the societal costs from the wide distribution of their dangerous product. We force people to get licensed and obey safety laws. That obviously does not eliminate injuries or deaths but it cuts down injury and death a great deal.

                      That hasn’t happened with guns. Guns and gun ownership have not been “socialized” to where the risks associated with their wide distribution among the public compensates the victims of their use. Who is going to compensate the victims of the Sandy Hook maniac? The deceased mother? The dead murderer? So because the product worked as it was intended, i;e; it killed people, the manufacturers and dealers have no responsibility?

                      I think we’re having this debate which is useful because many people have concluded, like me, that we, as a society, cannot continue to pretend that each gun and gun owner lives bear no responsibility as a group that the rest of us in society must somehow bear. Who is going to compensate the survivors of each of these mass killings for the unjustified losses or their psychological and traumatic suffering? Why shouldn’t each family who lost a child in the Sandy Hook massacre get $10 million as compensation and as much free psychological therapy as needed for recovery? Why shouldn’t the gun industry and sellers fund the entire apparatus? Why shouldn’t every sale of a weapon be registered and licensed and the purchaser charged a fee or tax to fund a victims compensation and recovery fund?

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/08/2013 - 07:56 am.

                      Are Hammers bad?

                      According to 2011 FBI crime statistics (, 323 murders were committed with rifles of all kinds, but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs.

                      Go after the makers of more popular deadly weapons, and then and only then will I listen to your arguments against the makers of “assault rifles”.

                    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/08/2013 - 09:32 am.

                      Intended use

                      What is the intended use of a car?

                      Answer: Transportation.

                      Can it be misused to cause harm? Of course it can, but that’s not the intended use of a car.

                      What is the intended use of a hammer?

                      Answer: To pound in nails.

                      Can it be misused to cause harm? Of course it can, but that’s not the intended use of a hammer.

                      What is the intended use of an “assault rifle”?

                      Answer: As far as I can see, the intended use is to cause harm.

                      In this discussion, “intended use” matters.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/08/2013 - 11:22 am.

                      Let’s not mince words

                      The intended use of an “assault rifle” is not “to cause harm.” It is to kill or maim human beings.

                      As you point out, it is the intended use that matters.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/08/2013 - 03:16 pm.

                      “As far as I can see”

                      If the intended us of an “assault rifle” is to do harm, why are police, whose mission it is to protect and serve, allowed to have them? Because, they are not intended to do harm.

                      A myopic view cannot see that tools do not have intent. A hammer may be used to break clay disks, to punch holes in paper, to do harm, and to protect. An “assault rifle” may be used to break clay disks, to punch holes in paper, to do harm, and to protect.

                    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/08/2013 - 03:29 pm.

                      I’m pretty sure . . .

                      that the person who invented the hammer intended it to be used to drive nails into things.

                      And if the person who invented the “assault rifle” did not intend for it to do harm (and therefore be menacing), then what use would it be to the police officer who carries it? The police officer doesn’t have to carry through (hopefully) – it’s the threat of the “intended use” that is generally effective.

                      But you are moving this whole discussion far afield and approaching irrelevance. The only reason I added the modifier “As far as I can see” was to allow for the (non-myopic) possibility that the person who invented the “assault rifle” actually had some intended use I was not aware of that did NOT involve causing of harm.

                      I should have just gone RB Holbrook’s route and stated it as a definitive – the intended purpose of an “assault rifle” IS to do harm. Everything else follows from that.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/10/2013 - 09:49 am.

                      Intended use

                      The use of an “assault rifle (sorry I don’t know the proper jargon)” is to injure or kill someone. That injuring or killing may be done for a good or legitimate purpose, but it is still harm to someone.

                      If you’re buying a high-capacity, rapid fire codpiece to punch holes in paper, you can buy a tool for that much more cheaply at any office supply store. If you mean target shooting, I’m told that can be done as well with a .22 rifle. A boom-boom machine may also be used as a paperweight–is that what they’re meant for?

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/10/2013 - 10:40 am.

                      Free Men & Women

                      A .22 rifle can dispense rounds of 0.22″ diameter just as fast as an AR-15 “assault rifle” can dispense rounds of 0.223″ diameter. High capacity magazines are available for 22 caliber too.

                      In a free country, the government doesn’t tell citizens what tool to use when punching holes, weighting papers, or defending homes. Free men and women make those decisions.

  11. Submitted by Scott Bjorke on 01/03/2013 - 06:14 pm.

    Conflict of Interest

    Senator Marty;

    It seems as though this little piece you have decided to write is a bit of a Conflict Of Interest. You should choose which profession you would rather do, Journalism, or Politics, not both. While I respect the fact that the people elected you, you need to be better educated about the laws you vote on. First of all; Millions of guns are owned by Law Abiding Citizens whose Guns hurt nobody. Secondly; those guns were obtained legally with the owners who waited the proper waiting period, and underwent the required Background Check. Thirdly; there guns don’t jump out of the Safes they were place in to avoid them getting into the wrong hands. Now about the wrong hands statement; All of the shootings in the last few years are by people who have been mentally unstable, they should not have had access to them. Now you want to disarm all of the people who have the “Right to Bear Arms”, and use them in a lawful manor? Perhaps the NRA is correct with their thought that More Guns make it safer, and you pass a silly law that prevents the Law Abiding Citizens from owning them, and the Criminals still have the ones that were already in the wrong hands, What then? Who will you then lay the blame on? Look into the mirror for the answer on that question, there will be no one to blame but the law makers that voted to keep the Good Guys from having any to defend themselves or possibly Children from those Criminals whom you say, “It’s not their fault, they had a bad childhood”. There are already many laws that are on the books that you seem to forget, one is the fact that Guns can be purchased at Gun Shows from Dealers without a background check; This is absolutely False. I purchased Guns at a show, and after showing my “Permit to Purchase”, which required a background check, they did another background check at the Booth by calling a number which I believe was the “National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)”. Hmm, Two Background Checks… So perhaps before you have a Knee Jerk Reaction you should educate yourself, I suggest you stop into a Gun Shop and ask if you can buy a Gun without the Back Ground Check Hassle. As for the other issue of your so called Assault Weapons, the last time I saw any of them I was in the USMC, They don’t allow anyone to take them home with them. The definition of an Assault Weapon is

    “An assault rifle is a military rifle that utilizes an intermediate-power cartridge, and that generally is capable of full-automatic fire, where multiple rounds are fired continuously when the trigger is pulled one time — that is, a machine gun — or burst capable, where a burst of several rounds is fired when the trigger is pulled one time.[3] In the United States, full-automatic firearms are heavily restricted, and regulated by federal laws such as the National Firearms Act of 1934, as well as some state and local laws”.

    I don’t know of any of my friends owning any that fit that description, do you?

    Stick to something that you are versed in, and stop using the Assault Pen, or in this case Assault Keyboard to scare the public into believing your uneducated words.

    I wonder if you would feel the same way if you would have served in the Military?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/04/2013 - 11:53 am.

      Please read the article again

      You wrote “Now you want to disarm all of the people who have the ‘Right to Bear Arms’, and use them in a lawful manor [sic]?”

      Kindly find the part of the article where Senator Marty advocated for taking all guns away from all law-abiding citizens.

      Again, rushing to the other extreme and implying things were said that were not is not a constructive way to conduct a fruitful discussion.

      • Submitted by Scott Bjorke on 01/04/2013 - 04:56 pm.

        Read it


        Follow this for one second, if you can;

        “With cars, we require the operator to be trained and licensed. We register the vehicle, and re-register it when it is transferred to a new owner.

        But for guns, there is no licensing, no training requirement, and no registration. This enables criminals to obtain guns from a private citizen with no background check, no waiting period — no means of enforcement at all.

        We don’t have a gun-registration system (did you read the part that said I had two Background Checks?) (And I forgot to mention that; I also had to fill out Registration Papers to Purchase my Handgun?”) because the gun lobby has used fear tactics to fight even modest regulation. They say, “First they’ll register your guns, then the next thing they’ll do is take ’em away.” Sure. Just like they did with cars …

        Actually, the government does take away cars, but only from people using them illegally. In Minnesota, the courts can seize the cars of drug dealers and repeat DWI offenders”.

        How many times have you heard of someone getting caught after having twenty or more DWI’s? It is the current laws that are not being enforced, and the Drunks walk yet again. When will that stop, how many more people will be killed by those who they let go and drive drunk again. All I am saying is Before Any New Laws Are Written, Enforce The Ones That Are Already There, Period…

        Sorry, but Licensing, and registration are the first steps to Confiscation, the guns I am talking about are the So Called “Assault Weapons”. You see there are so many holes in the story that contradict the reports out of Connecticut that event a Boston Whaler couldn’t float. They showed the Police taking a Rifle out of the trunk of the car that the shooter drove to the school, now if he used the Rifle in the school yet died in the same school, How Did The Rifle Get Into The Trunk? I suppose it could have gotten there all by itself, but I doubt that is even possible since it is an Inanimate Object. The initial reports all said that the Rifle was recovered from the trunk. Now isn’t it convenient that the Rifle is now claimed to be the weapon used in the shooting, it makes everyone want to ban the Semi Automatic Rifle that looks similar to an Assault Rifle (Fully Automatic, or Burst Capable).

        Have you seen the list of Weapons that the Gun Grabbers are trying to ban? It is sad because so many that are on the list are not the most powerful weapons that are available. The .223/5.56 are perhaps the least powerful calibers that they are going after. But Because They ARE Scary Looking We Need Them All Off The Streets. Diane Feinstein and her band of Merry Men want everybody to believe that No One Has The Right To Own Assault Weapons.Whats next, are they going to ban Baseball Bats, yet still allow Softball Bats?

        I suppose you also go along with the idea that parents don’t want their children protected by Armed Guards? Well according to the Rasmussen Reports; Fifty-four percent (54%) of American adults would feel safer if their child’s school had an armed security guard. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% would feel safer if their child attended a school where no adults were allowed to have guns. Another 20% are undecided.

        Among parents of school-aged children, support for armed guards is even higher. Sixty-two percent (62%) of such parents would feel safer with an armed security guard at the school, while 22% would feel safer if their child attended a gun-free school. This survey was conducted December 28th, and 29th. I works for the President, and David Gregory’s Children, BTW He broke the same law that a Veteran did, yet he did so Knowingly. That veteran was Punished and now has a Criminal weapons Charge on his record, yet David Gregory has NOT BEEN CHARGED, and in fact WAS WELCOMED AT THE WHITE HOUSE BY THE PRESIDENT. You see the Problem here? You have a Criminal that Knew he was breaking the law invited to the White House, and a Veteran Convicted Of an Offense he was not aware of? Why if a Veteran is arrested and convicted, can’t a Journalist treated the same way?

        Did you know that Diane Feinstein has a Concealed Carry Permit? Is she any better than the responsible Law Abiding Gun Owners? Don’t think for one minute that she will give up her RIGHT TO CARRY. While we’re at it, maybe the Daughters of President Obama should try a Public School without Armed Guards?

        Ponder That…

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/05/2013 - 08:48 am.

          Slippery slope arguments aren’t persuasive

          Furthermore, Senator Marty was talking about removing cars from people who are using them *illegally*.

          Similarly, if a person is using a gun illegally, then you ought to be able to take THAT person’s gun away.

          That’s not “everyone’s guns”. That’s a specific case.

          Again, taking things to the other extreme and using “slippery slope” arguments does not support a productive discussion of the facts.

          Senator Marty did not propose taking away all guns from all people.

          Please stop trying to highjack this thread with claims that he did.

  12. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/03/2013 - 06:44 pm.

    “What part of well-regulated militia don’t they understand?”

    Well-regulated, in the archaic sense, is well-disciplined or well-trained. It is not about “regulations” of “laws”. See the Federalist Papers and the Militia Act of 1792.

    Roger – don’t come back until you’ve read up on it. Ignorant politicians make ignorant laws.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/04/2013 - 04:27 pm.

      From Federalist 29, “Concerning the Militia”

      “It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were called into service for the public defense. . . This desirable uniformity can only be accomplished by confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority. It is, therefore, with the most evident propriety, that the plan of the convention proposes to empower the Union ‘to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, RESERVING TO THE STATES RESPECTIVELY THE APPOINTMENT OF THE OFFICERS, AND THE AUTHORITY OF TRAINING THE MILITIA ACCORDING TO THE DISCIPLINE PRESCRIBED BY CONGRESS.'”

      So, what the Founders evidently meant by “well-regulated” was the consarned fedrul gummint making the rules. It wasn’t about a bunch of plain folks hoarding closets full of [insert accepted name or type of gun here–I would so hate not to use the proper jargon]. “Militia,” whatever definitions may be pulled out of a dictionary (dictionaries are not the law, if anyone was wondering), was meant to be an alternative to a standing army. “Regulation” meant “regulations” or “laws.”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/04/2013 - 04:38 pm.

      Militia Act(s) of 1792

      I presume you mean the second one (the first one allowed for the militia to be called up in federal service).

      Free male citizens betwen eighteen and forty-five were enrolled in the militia by the captain, and membership in the militia was to be recorded by the state Adjutant General. The militia was organized into divisions, brigades, regiments, batallions, and companies. Discipline was according to the rules of discipline enacted by Congress.

      It’s not about your right to menace strangers in public places.

      • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/06/2013 - 09:23 am.


        If you’re going to quote the Federalist papers, at least be intellectually honest enough to include the argument that Mr. Madison presented:

        “…Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger…[to a regular army] would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence….[b]esides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”

        Aside from the question the Militia, there is a right of self-defense that cannot be taken away by the state.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/06/2013 - 01:10 pm.

          Intellectual Honesty

          I’m not sure what you’re getting at. My point was that “regulated,” even in the “archaic” sense used by the Fouders, meant that the militia would be organized and subject to the control of the federal government and, secondarily, to the state govgernment. Your quotation (which I omitted for the sake of brevity) does not contradict that. Madison was merely discussing the efficacy of a militia (suibject to close regulation, in the contemporary sense of the word, by the Militia Acts you urged us to read). A “militia,” whatever definitions may appear at the bottoms of dictionary pages or in the fevered imaginations of those whose idea of the Constitution stops at the Second Amendment, meant an organized military force. It did not mean someone maxing out his credit card at Gander Moutnain so he can feel like a man.

          Incidentally, where do you get the “right” of self-defense? It is a common law right, enshrined in statute, but not mentioned in the Constitution. The Foudners did not deem it necessary to enshrine a “right”: to off teenagers in hoodies.

          • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/06/2013 - 03:23 pm.

            Intellectual honesty

            Regulated militias are ones that are comprised of men, trained in the use of arms, and disciplined in the both the use of their weapons and their personal behavior.

            “Incidentally, where do you get the “right” of self-defense? It is a common law right, enshrined in statute, but not mentioned in the Constitution.”

            Our rights are from G-d: “We, the people of the state of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings and secure the same to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.” (Preamble, Constitution of the State of Minnesota)

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/07/2013 - 10:40 am.

              Full Circle

              Once again, the “regulation” is control by the government. It never was jsut a bunch of guys who promised to behave.

              Calling self-defense a “right” is absurd. I can call medical care a “right,” granted to me by G*d, but I know how well that argument would fly. Self-defense is an affirmative defense to a homicide or assault charge. The parameters of the defense are set by the Legislature. It is no more a “right” than the defenses of insanity or entrapment are “rights.”

              • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/10/2013 - 06:45 am.

                Don’t fall into

                that deep, dark, foul-smelling trench by asserting “Calling self-defense a “right” is absurd” following up with “The parameters of the defense are set by the Legislature”. The Germans placed the Jews out side the law, abrogating their right of self-defense.

                Here. the government is essentially put on notice by the existence of enumerated rights in the Minnesota and US Constitutions, backed up by guns in the possession of citizens. Just the possession of arms by the People is enough to prevent any intellectual or military officer from getting any ideas.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/10/2013 - 09:34 am.

                  Godwin’s law, yet again

                  Do you really think the reason the Nuremberg laws have not been enacted in Minnesota is because intellectuals and military officers are afraid of a gun-possessing populace?

                  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

  13. Submitted by richard owens on 01/03/2013 - 07:33 pm.



    end fear…

  14. Submitted by James Hamilton on 01/03/2013 - 07:50 pm.

    Let’s get some things straight.

    1. Guns are never going to disappear in the United States, whether or not they are banned completely. On the flip side, this isn’t and will never be Syria.

    2. Requiring that weapons be registered is permissible under the 2d Amendment, so far as the Supreme Court has said to date. Registering guns, however, will do little to keep them out of the hands of children, criminals and mad men.

    3. Again, so far as the Supreme Court has ruled to date, banning private ownership of certain types of weapons is permissible under the 2d Amendment, although the Court has never really addressed that issue directly or tried to establish any limits on government power in that regard. Clearly, however, it isn’t going to read “bear arms” to include all military-grade weapons. Most of America accepts the current prohibitions on fully automatic weapons and things such as sawed off shotguns, laws that have been with us since the ’30s.

    4. There are weapons and incidental supplies (ammunition, magazines) sold in America today that enable the murder of dozens in a matter of seconds. Eliminating those weapons will not prevent mass murder, but may on occasion reduce the body count. Simply banning the sale of such weapons and incidentals, however, doesn’t address the millions of weapons and incidentals already in circulation. Unless we are prepared to buy back those already on the street, voluntarily or otherwise, addressing future sales only is meaningless. Banning them outright, on the other hand, is likely to cause millions of weapons to go underground and make criminals of the millions of Americans who will refuse to part with any weapons.

    5. Requiring that weapons be kept secure and establishing criminal and civil penalties for those who fail to do so is well within the scope of the 2d Amendment. Such laws may be meaningless to the Lanzas of the world, but may help prevent the deaths of children at the hands of children or of one spouse at the hands of another.

    6. There is no single and complete solution for any problem. That doesn’t mean we should abandon efforts to curb the most outrageous abuses of any tool, be it a car, fertilizer, alcohol, or a weapon.

  15. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 01/03/2013 - 08:46 pm.

    If we had liability insurance on guns, as we do for cars, we will see which insurance company would insure at which price folks with arsenals

  16. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/03/2013 - 08:56 pm.

    Facts is facts

    To all the gun-heads

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

    A. Are you in the militia?
    B. Are you well regulated me?

    This is my 2nd amendment as well, all of it not just the part you want to agree with:

    The way we treat gun sales in America, it is neither from a militia stand point, or well regulated perspective, its from a “gun crazy society perspective” 40%+ of sales untraceable. In my eyes, anyone that is as gun-goofy as what we are reading in these editorials, is by definition to touched to be armed.

    • Submitted by Jeff Kline on 01/04/2013 - 08:13 am.

      yes; here is your answer.

      Yes; you ARE the militia. Definitions:

      1. a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.
      2. a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.
      3. all able-bodied males considered by law eligible for military service.
      4. a body of citizens organized in a paramilitary group and typically regarding themselves as defenders of individual rights against the presumed interference of the federal government.

      If we decay into civil unrest/war, you’re in if you are able bodied. Just like the 1860s.

      The “Well Regulated” means it has structure and control.

      If you feel that the 2nd Amendment is outmoded and outdated, why don’t you seek to have it repealed??? Could it be because you can’t???!!

  17. Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/03/2013 - 09:20 pm.

    Serious question

    Will some of you on the “pro gun” side please explain your understanding of the phrase “well regulated”?

  18. Submitted by Jim Stark on 01/04/2013 - 03:17 am.

    Well Regulated

    Sure will, Pat! “Well regulated” simply means something that is working properly, working as it should. But hey, no need to get hung up on that. Remember grammar class way back when? The part of the Second Amendment that mentions the militia is part of a prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase one can remove from a sentence without changing its meaning; it acts as a adjective or adverb in the sentence. To simplify, the Second Amendment then simply states the right of the people to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed.
    Now, my question for you, Pat. What does “shall not be infringed” mean to you?


  19. Submitted by Greg Price on 01/04/2013 - 07:47 am.

    well said…Mr Stark

    quick question…how many of the well meaning liberals (including Sen Marty) commenting on this column have served in the military…how many of you would put your life on the line to defend the constitution?

    How many would put more than pen & ink on the line to express that opinion. I may not agree with your opinion but I was one of many that made it possible for you to express it…Godwin theory be damned…

  20. Submitted by Jeff Kline on 01/04/2013 - 08:18 am.

    And lastly to demonstrate

    This incident happened in December which; like so many of them that go on and are never ever covered by the liberal main stream press, demonstrates how “equalization” is the key to all of this mess.

    It’s amazing. All it got was local coverage. Snopes which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the liberal main stream press tries to call it “an insignificant crime that isn’t substantial enough to make it”.

    This whole mess is CLEARLY all POLITICAL and nothing more. It’s about certain people seeking powerful government office so as to try and tear down that document that gives us our liberties and freedoms.

  21. Submitted by Rich Crose on 01/04/2013 - 12:28 pm.

    Which Right takes Precidence

    Great discussion and quite a dilemma. Is it acceptable to allow 15,000 people to die by guns every year in order to protect the freedom to own guns? Or do we restrict gun ownership to reduce the number of deaths?

    Which freedom is more important, the right to bear arms or the right to live without fear of a madman with a gun?

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/04/2013 - 01:24 pm.


      To put things into perspective, we have the right to live without fear of many things, yet we fear them, anyway. We fear getting struck by lightning, despite huge odds against it (your odds are something like 1/10,000 in your entire lifetime). We fear getting hit by a tornado, which is even less likely than getting struck by lightning (about 1 in 4 million). We fear dying by spider bites, plane crashes, and getting shot by a madman with a gun. But, we are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, an accident, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, the flu/pneumonia, kidney disease, suicide, septicemia, liver disease, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease than by homicide using ANY weapon, let alone a madman with a gun. Your odds of dying in January are about 30% higher than in June, but we don’t fear January. Well, some of us do, but for different reasons. Is it really acceptable to allow nearly a million people die in January??? Ok, that was a bit facetious, but not terribly off. Consider this: arguably all of the 14 causes of death that precede homicide are influenced by our selves. To some degree, they are nearly all self-inflicted. Yet, there’s a huge cost to society–not just in money–so we’re all affected by each others’ choices. Our freedoms are all affected by other freedoms. We may restrict freedoms to some degree to mitigate that, but that doesn’t mean you must trade one for another.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/04/2013 - 01:32 pm.

      That is a whopper of an assumption!

      Especially, considering the recent history since the 1998 handgun ban and confiscation in the UK.

      According to British government reports, crime with handguns doubled in the first ten years of the ban. Gun crime did not decreased, it increased. Due to armed street gangs, some British police are carrying guns for the first time. I was in London during the riots of August 2011, and indeed, the British Bobbies on patrol were armed.

      I think it is a case of the law of unintended, but foreseeable, consequences.

      P.S.: Similar outcome in Australia.

  22. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/04/2013 - 03:45 pm.

    Basic question.

    Do you believe the state should have a monopoly on armed violence?

    1. Yes.
    2. No.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/04/2013 - 04:51 pm.

      Quit trying to change the subject

      The article did not present this as an “all or nothing” proposition. Why do you and some others keep trying to respond as if it did?

      This is why discussions get dead-ended.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/06/2013 - 11:21 am.

        Exactly right, Pat

        Gun rights advocates know that guns are already regulated at federal and state level. They can argue that point either way: a) no point in further regulations because regulations don’t work; or b) you can’t improve the crappy, loophole ridden laws and regulations because that would infringe on my/our /”the people’s” right to keep and bear arms and besides “people kill people, guns don’t kill people”, etc. etc. And round and round we go. At some point, one has to realize that some people will now allow themselves to be reasoned with. Senator Marty’s reasonable and modest proposals deserve to implemented and tried. It really can’t hurt despite the howls of protest from the gun rights corner.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/06/2013 - 01:12 pm.


      If CAIR decided that Muslims were in danger from the authorities, would you be okay woth them arming themselves?

      It’s not just a hypothetical: Ronald Reagan signed California’s gun control law, to disarm the Black Panthers (who saw themselves as the victims of official oppression).

  23. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 01/06/2013 - 04:12 pm.

    Yes, regulate guns like cars!

    Senator Marty’s proposals are excellent. I see in them no threat whatsoever to the right of responsible people to defend themselves. I observe that nobody else can see any threat, either, except by appealing to heroic fantasies and hypothetical fears.

    These fears and fantasies are propagated by unscrupulous gun sellers who have long understood that nothing sells guns faster than paranoia. Simply prescribe more guns as the solution to gun violence, and the more people get shot, the more people will want to shoot. For society, it’s a vicious cycle, but for the gun sellers, it’s pure profit. These people know nothing about public safety, but they sure do know how to sell guns.

    We need ignore the sales pitch of the gun sellers and pay more attention to people who have done actual research on public safety. The United States leads the world’s richest countries in murders committed with guns. I’m not making this up…

    This particular kind of American exceptionalism is disgraceful and must end.

    I hope the “reasonable, long overdue changes” that Senator Marty has proposed continue to be widely disseminated and discussed, but I for one endorse them all.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/07/2013 - 07:26 am.

      Profit motive

      The NRA also has more than just an ideological dog in this fight since – besides the money they make if they increase their membership, they also receive money from the sales of guns and ammunition through a variety of dealer/manufacturer incentive programs. Therefore, more paranoia = more guns sold = more $$$ for the NRA.

  24. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2013 - 08:04 am.

    The Last Ten Years

    Have there been significant improvement in rates of violent crime and murder?

    Let’s review what has occurred over the past ten years in the U.S.
    1) About 10 million guns have been sold.
    2) 10 more states have become right to carry states, including Minnesota.
    3) We have lived 10 years since expiration of the “assault weapons” ban.
    4) Violent crime rate has dropped 50% from 757/100K to 386/100K.
    5) Murder rate has dropped over 50% from 9.3/100K to 4.7/100K.

    Source of crime statistics:

    Has everything gone terribly wrong, and it is time for a radical course change? Or, are opportunistic gun control advocates shamelessly seizing a tragedy, the work of one twisted mind, to further their agenda?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/07/2013 - 08:58 am.

      Cause and effect

      That is far too simplistic. You need a lot more data than that to show cause and effect between statistics of gun ownership and the statistics of murder and violent crime rates. (Including, of course, what other factors might come into play to affect the crime statistics.)

    • Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 01/09/2013 - 10:14 am.

      You’ve got to do more research…

      to make the gun sellers’ sales pitch stand up to informed criticism.

      Yes, indeed, the crime rate has gone down in the United States during the last 10 years. But the crime rate has also gone down in most other industrialized countries during the last 10 years, regardless of how guns have been regulated in these places.

      The one obvious thing that every country with a reduced crime rate has in common with the others is that in every one of them, lead was removed from gasoline about 17 years before the crime rate dropped. This fact has been confirmed by study after study since Rick Nevin first researched the question during the late 1990s.

      Read this:

      It appears that our statistics have your statistics surrounded. Come out with your hands up!

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/09/2013 - 02:45 pm.


        Yet Another Commenter with Three Names:

        As you seemed to point out, just because two things are correlated, they are not necessarily in a causal relationship. Just because I rise each day before the sun, I don’t believe that the sun is waiting for me.

        Perhaps, the “Freakonomics” explanation of declining crime is correct – the legalization of abortion. We are killing children before they can be born into poverty and lives of crime.

  25. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2013 - 09:58 am.

    FBI Crime Statistics

    Regardless of what else has occured in the last ten years, do the FBI crime statistics indicate that we are have run off the rails, and that something must be done?

    What should drive us to action as a country, ten years of history or the criminal actions of one individual?

    We had an “assault weapons” ban for ten years and now have ten years of history without one. Give me the compelling argument for an assault weapons ban. The actions of one individual is not a compelling argument.

  26. Submitted by Adam Miller on 01/07/2013 - 01:37 pm.

    Health insurance

    Is not yet mandatory in any jurisdiction (in this country).

    And “health insurance” is not truly insurance as much as it is pre-paid medical financing.

    Gun insurance would be actual liability insurance.

  27. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2013 - 04:47 pm.

    Effectiveness of Gun Bans

    Senator John Marty, and his Chicken Little chorus, subjects us all to another shrill performance of “the sky is falling, the sky is falling! Is it; is the sky falling?

    Since I am not the one calling for change, I will ask those demanding change to make their case. If you call for an “assault weapons” ban, include crime statistics from the period since the ban’s expiration to support your case for a ban’s effectiveness.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/07/2013 - 05:26 pm.

      Oh that’s rich!

      The gun supporters (not all of them, but plenty of them) are insisting that they need to keep their guns – ALL their guns in every possible variety – so they can protect themselves when the Mean Old Government headed by the Evil Obama comes a’knockin’ at their door – and you accuse the OTHER side of crying “The sky is falling!”?

      Oh yes, that is rich. Rich indeed.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/07/2013 - 07:59 pm.


        Thanks for the compliment. Back to the discussion, care to make a case for reinstatement of the “assault weapons” ban? We had it for ten years and then we lived without it for ten years. Make a cogent case for reinstatement of the ban, and make it based on facts and data. Or, make another one of those statements like your last one.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/08/2013 - 08:55 am.


          So you want to see data on a statistically significant number of people dying specifically at the hands of mass murderers using assault weapons before you will find the data convincing?

          Tell me, what number might that be? How many more hundreds of people must be cut to hamburger by rapid fire before we’re “allowed” to discuss whether this particular kind of gun has any rationally-supported place in our society?

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/08/2013 - 03:26 pm.

            When “Assault Rifles” Out-Kill Bare Hands

            2011 FBI crime statistics (

            Both the bare hands category and the hammers and clubs categories individually out-killed the “assault rifle” category.

            Because dead is dead, I expect that you would care about addressing the most prevalent murder methods. You don’t; you care about “assault rifles”. Why is that?

            • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/08/2013 - 03:35 pm.


              A shooter who can pump out a ton of bullets in a short period of time gets a lot more “bang for the buck” – both figuratively and literally – than someone who has to individually throttle or pummel each person they’re killing.

              In other words, it’s a LOT easier for a murderer to do a LOT more damage in a LOT less time with a LOT less effort when they have an “assault rifle” in their hands than when armed with a hammer, a club, or a set of bare hands.

              Why is THAT so hard for YOU to understand?

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/08/2013 - 03:59 pm.

                That’s a LOT of data

                If “assault rifles” are such effective killing machines, why do they bested every year by bare hands?

                Answer: They are rarely used.

                Because they are not so popular, most killers must find other methods.

                That is all that there is to say on this topic.

                • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/08/2013 - 04:12 pm.

                  All there is to say

                  Considering that we’ve now strayed into both illogic AND irrelevance.

                  What you just said makes no sense. I’m done.

  28. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 01/10/2013 - 02:05 pm.

    Mr Rose– do you read your citations?

    Late to this discussion, and perhaps that’s good for my sanityI keep seeing these references that “Both the bare hands category and the hammers and clubs categories individually out-killed the “assault rifle” category”, with then an official looking “” as a reference.

    Well, I do read my citations. When I go to, and then to the “expanded homicide data Table 8” (here, since you apparently can’t find it:

    For 2011 I read: (total homicides by all weapons = 12,664)
    Total firearm murder victims: 8,583
    Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc): 496
    Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc): 728

    So by my math, in 2011, according to YOUR source:
    -67.8% of homicides are by firearms
    -3.9% are by blunt objects
    -5.7% are by hands, fists, etc.

    Perhaps you should read these NRA talking points a bit more critically…

  29. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 01/10/2013 - 02:16 pm.

    By the way, I should point out that is the “all guns” category. There is a rifle category (not “assault rifle”), which is where this 353 number that floats around social media comes from, but that ignores the “other unspecified firearms” category, which is over 1,500.

  30. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/10/2013 - 03:36 pm.

    Aren’t we talking about a ban on assault rifles?

    You know, the kind that were used in Aurora and in Newtown, the AR-15s?

    Unfortunately, the FBI crime numbers are a bit murky, but it is clear that your “other unspecified firearms” category falls short of the numbers put up by knives each year for the past five years. Read the citation; the knives category was not mentioned in your Brady Campaign talking points.

  31. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 01/10/2013 - 04:56 pm.

    Yes, let’s register guns like cars.

    If you drive your car on private land, not on a public road, you don’t need to register it.

  32. Submitted by Adam Selene on 01/25/2013 - 10:06 pm.

    Senator Marty appears to be ignorant of the law

    or is being deceptive. Licensing and registration is only required to operate motor vehicles on public roadways. Motor vehicles on private property do not require a driver’s license or registration; that’s what makes car racing possible. If guns were licensed like cars, then people could own and operate as many guns as they could afford, with no registration, as long as they were on private property. It would also, presumably, mean that people with licenses could freely transport and use their guns anywhere in the United States without fear of being arrested for violating some state or local restriction against possessing a motor vehicle. It would mean people could buy guns as powerful as they want, just as people can buy ridiculously-overpowered cars (like the 850-horsepower Mustang). Would it mean convicted felons could buy guns? Because they can legally buy and operate cars.

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